My Hampton Roads Legacy

 

In a little more than two months, my husband and I will be journeying across the country to relocate in San Diego, CA for my internship.  As I am returning to active duty and my training in San Diego is only a year long, we have no idea where we will be following my internship.  Perhaps we will end up back in Virginia Beach and perhaps we will move elsewhere or continue to reside in CA.  For now, it’s all up in the air.  The one thing I know for sure is that I will have to say goodbye, even if temporarily, to the place and the people that I have come to think of as home.

For the first time in my life, I have really come to understand the value and the power of community.  Despite being raised in a small farming community, I failed to learn the value of connecting to those around you.  I felt that having a few close friendships was sufficient, and while I still feel that this is the case, I have also learned that being connected to a larger body of caring individuals can make a huge impact on one’s life.  Hampton Roads has become that larger body for me, especially within the context of the fitness community.  Triathlon, Crossfit, Nutrition, etc.  I’ve made connections with others through all of these interests/pursuits and I am humbled by how much others have done to enhance the quality of my life.  Therefore, I’ve made the conscious decision to give back to Hampton Roads before I leave.

As you all know, I recently succeeded in raising $840 for Girls on the Run in Hampton Roads.  I would like to give a special thanks Kristin Mayer, the owner and the creativity behind my sponsor, Betty Designs, for generously donating three goodie bags to be given away to those who donated.  I chose the Girls on the Run charity because it represents things that I truly believe in and because my involvement as an assistant coach allowed me to see how magical this program truly is.  I’m now selecting a second charity and I will focus on raising funds for this charity through my race in August at the USAT Age Group National Championships.  This is also a program with which I have recently become personally involved.  The LIFT program, which stands for “Lifting Spirits, Improving Bodies, Feeding Souls, Transforming Lives,” was established by Jim White in 2014 as a Jim White Community Fitness Foundation project.  The program runs month to month and provides individuals in need (homeless, low income, etc) with the opportunity to learn how to live healthier lives through exercise and nutrition classes.

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Jim giving out instructions and Justin and I listening intently at our first session as LIFT volunteers.

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And before I knew it, we were getting another workout for the day.  Mountain climbers pictured here!

I’ve been blessed by my volunteer experience with LIFT.  During the month of May, I participated in the program every Tuesday evening and one Saturday (my work schedule prevented me from attending most Saturdays) by encouraging the participants and working out alongside them.  I was so excited about this venture that my husband joined me!  Though I had read about the program, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I arrived a few minutes early on the first day.  I was thoroughly impressed.  Jim White has solicited a number of quality volunteers including fitness instructors and nutrition experts.  Each participant was given a pedometer on the first day of the program, as well as a water bottle with instructions on how to properly hydrate.  Every Tuesday evening, steps from the pedometers are recorded and the individuals with the most steps each week received an incentive reward (usually a grocery store gift certificate or some other such useful item).  Each session involved approximately a half an hour of exercise along with occasional cooking demonstrations.  Further, the program has attracted the attention of area professionals and the participants received free blood pressure checks and visits with a physical therapist!

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By week 2 the advanced group was off for a short run on the beach… in the SOFT sand.

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As the program grows, so does the organization behind it.  Krista White (Jim’s lovely bride) is heavily involved in the project as well and has acquired the first set of LIFT volunteer shirts so that the participants can more easily identify volunteers!  This version is cotton but I’m told that a dri-fit is coming.  The volunteers donate to cover the cost of their shirts so that the program can keep throwing funds at those who need it!

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Squats on the beach, anyone?

It’s been amazing to work alongside these individuals as they strive for a better way of living.  You all know that it is HARD to get back into the swing of things once you’re even a little bit out of shape.  Running becomes more labored and less “fun” and your energy feels more easily depleted.  ALL of these individuals were basically starting from scratch and, despite the challenges involved in the initial “get into shape” period, the May LIFT participants achieved more than 2 million steps as measured by their pedometers!  TWO MILLION!  Can you imagine the fortitude it takes to press through all of that pain and discomfort?!  Even more impressive is that these individuals did not let feelings of self-consciousness or embarrassment get in their way.  They put themselves out there and opened themselves up to constructive criticism; modifying exercises when necessary and allowing volunteers to help improve their form.  It is truly impressive.  I had to miss the May LIFT graduation (boo) because I was scheduled to work (but it’s my last work day – yay) but I did have the chance to write a letter to each of the graduates to encourage them in their journey and to give them props for all of their hard work so far!

Just so you know, these workouts aren’t watered down! Of course, participants are encouraged to use various modifications for safety and to ensure that they are doing what is appropriate for their level of fitness, but these are some tough workouts!  Check out our plank line relay!  I’m the second person to hop up from a plank and run to the end of the line.  Whew!  That was tough!

It is with great joy that I embark on my fundraising journey for LIFT.  I’ve set some pretty high goals for my performance at Nationals and knowing that the race isn’t just about those goals but also about my fundraising goal will make the tedious work ahead seem more doable.  Since my goal is to finish in the top 18 in my age group and there are likely to be about 200 women in my age division, I’ve decided to commit to donating one dollar for every 30-34 year old female who finish BEHIND me at Nationals. 🙂  Feel free to match my contribution!  Maybe this will provide some extra motivation toward the end of the race when my will is wavering!  Regardless, I want to give back to the community that has given me so much over the last several years.  I will miss you dearly, Hampton Roads.  I leave some of the very best friends I’ve ever had in Virginia Beach and there will be a piece of me missing once I leave this wonderful community but I intend for that to be because I intentionally leave a piece of me behind to benefit others.  I want this to be my legacy here in Hampton Roads; I want to gift this community even though I can never give  back as much as I have received.

Since we still have our own workouts to get in, Justin and I are either heading to LIFT immediately after a track session or a long run, depending on the day.  Of course, on track days, we’ve both had a morning workout as well so you can imagine how tired we are when the LIFT program wraps up at 8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays.  It’s definitely exhausting and I’m not a HUGE fan of eating tofurkey sandwiches in the car between track and LIFT, but it is DEFINITELY worth the sacrifice.  It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience and I truly hope that this program starts a trend in other areas.  Health and fitness matter, even for those who are jobless or homeless or just down on their luck.  It all starts with putting one foot in front of the other.

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Every LIFT session ends with a brief prayer circle. As you can imagine, it’s a smelly prayer circle but all the more reason to be thankful; we have the ability to be active!

To contribute to my fundraiser for LIFT, please click here!  Let’s get this party started!

The Face of Doubt

A few weeks ago, I ran my first triathlon race of the season.  As I mentioned in my race report, there were a number of factors beyond my control that contributed to a slower race time, but there were also a number of things that went well for me in the race to reflect my training and preparation.  Still, a few weeks out from that race and I was feeling somewhat disappointment.  With an overall finish time of 2:32 in an Olympic distance race, my goal of qualifying for the U.S. Age Group Team at Nationals in August seemed a bit far-fetched to me.  I knew from previous conversations with Coach Dai that my finish time at Nationals would need to drop down to sub 2:20 and probably more like a 2:18 to stand a solid chance.  He assures me that racing a 2:15 would nearly guarantee a spot on the U.S. team.  2:15? Ha.

So, it was with a spirit of realism that I scheduled a meeting to discuss how we might need to adjust my goals for August.  While I really, truly want to make the team, it isn’t the end-all and be-all of my triathlon career.  Mostly, I want to aim high but also make sure my goals are reasonable… just a LITTLE bit crazy, not certifiable.  I expected Dai to agree with me.  He didn’t.  I was surprised to hear him say that he still felt my goal was reasonable.

At this point, I will insert a motivational video of me crossing the finish line at the 2013 IM 70.3 World Championships.  I was sick with a low-grade fever and desparately wanted to quit before I even started the bike… but look how happy I am that I stayed with it and finished!!  Also, that’s my dad’s voice repeating “Pollman-Turner” because this is a video they made watching the live feed.  For some reason, hearing him say that chokes me up… every… time. 🙂

He pointed out to me that, because of my school and work schedule, I had not been training a large amount.  Well, not for me, anyway.  We have been keeping a positive balance of work/life/training and Dai emphasized that he felt we have been maintaining the RIGHT balance, a healthy balance.  However, that balance hadn’t allowed me to maximize my training.  This month, I’m down to only one class and a few days of work.  Next month I will have NO class and NO work (unless I voluntarily take someone’s shifts). I’ll have my dissertation to finish up but Dai says I get to train like a professional athlete with a few additional commitments. haha.  I’m excited and slightly intimidated.  I’m afraid to keep shooting for the goal of qualifying for the US World’s team.  But I think “afraid” is good.  I think that your goals should scare you, at least some of them should.  If they aren’t a little bit scary or a little bit crazy then they probably aren’t big enough!

And speaking of scary goals, I remember when I hestitated to apply for a masters or doctoral program because it seemed “too hard.”  I didn’t think I could handle such an academically rigorous program.  Yet, here I am!  I’m finishing up my very last course at the doctoral level and preparing for internship.  Regent University holds a commissioning service for 4th year doctoral students who are heading off to internship; even though we won’t be able to officially graduate until we complete our internship, this is a monumental change for all of us. Therefore, on Friday, May 16th, we had an intern commissioning ceremony in which the faculty prayed for us and celebrated our 100% internship match rate (that means that everyone from Regent University who applied for an internship this year received an internship). I was actually expecting to find it a bit boring but the whole thing really hit me in the feels! I was holding back tears throughout the ceremony.

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We were each prayed for, specifically and personally, by at two faculty members.  I asked for prayers to aid us in making this transition and in leaving behind a community that for which we have so much love.

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Justin has been with me through the majority of my doctoral journey.  I couldn’t have done this without him!  Plus, neither of us were in workout clothes or pajamas so we HAD to get a picture.

I think that attending the 4th year commissioning ceremony helped me appreciate how NOT impossible the impossible goals truly are.  With that said, I’m looking forward to three weeks of hard training with a renewed sense of purpose and determination.  I have my wonderful little family to help me along the way.  Clover is adjusting nicely to family life…

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It turns out that THIS little girl is a RUNNER! Who would have thought?  So far, she has PR’d her mile at a 9:15 pace but that included a quick poo and some sniffing.  She ran 1.5 mi with me yesterday and her last .5 was sub 9 so maybe I’ll have an easy-run buddy pretty soon.  The extra exercise is keeping her excessive energy at bay, though she eats like a runner now so we’re literally paying the price (of more food)!  Regardless, she’s going to help keep me on track!

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 Of course, Tibby is ALWAYS there to help me out with the recovery, plus the extra snuggles help remind him that we still love him… though we’re pretty certain he’s still waiting for someone to come pick Clover up from our house and take her “home.”  Poor guy…

 Oh, yeah, I’m also still working on my dissertation.  Whew.  Well, I’ll fit it in with the two to three-a-days somewhere. haha.  Now that I think about it, I’m a smidgy widge nervous about the increased intensity and training volume so… feel free to say something encouraging.  What workouts intimidate YOU?  How do you push through that intimidation?  What’s the scariest goal you’ve ever set for yourself?

And so it begins…

I’ve had a busy few weeks, recently, including the end of one of the most tedious semester of my graduate career, the adoption of a new fur kid, some serious dissertation edits and the beginning of my triathlon season!

First off, meet Clover:

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Look at that face!  Of course, this was before she was banned from all furniture for a minimum of a month due to her overwhelming need to assert dominance over the entire household.  Well, mostly me and Tibby.  She rather ignores my hubby with it comes to the chain of command.
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One big happy family!  Well, until she started aggressively chasing my little Tibby off of the couch and the bed.  Let me tell you, the first night of not allowing her to sleep on the bed with us with a long night… about 4 hours of sleep for me.  She seems to have accepted her fate, now, though.  Oh, and I’m a secret operative for the CIA, though apparently not a very good one.

We brought Clover (previously known as Chloe) home from the SPCA on the 24th of April.  The first weekend with her was pretty rough – lots of adjusting to do and after spending about 40 minutes on the phone with the trainer who handled her at the SPCA, we’ve been doing much better.  Turns out she’s a bit of a runner herself.  We’ve been taking turns walk/running her and her behavior improved immensely once she was well-exercised and banished from furniture.  Behavior-dependent, we’ll gradually reintroduce her to sharing our furniture in a month or so.  On the plus side, she’s entirely house broken!

We had been visiting Clover at the SPCA for about a month and some change before she finally became available for adoption.  She had a number of issues that prevented her from interacting with non-employees for quite a while.  We were definitely ready for her once they were prepared to let us have her, but the timing wasn’t superb since only a little over a week after bringing her home, we had to kennel her with Tibby so that we could both go race (different races) this last week.  I raced the MonticellMan Olympic distance triathlon in Charlottesville, VA and my husband raced the Broadstreet 10 miler up in Philly.

So, on to the race report for the first triathlon of the season:

First, I rode up with my friend, Bill.  You may remember my post several months ago regarding Bill’s unfortunate accident when he was hit by a car while riding his bike.  Bill isn’t able to run yet and his biking is still limited but he has been able to swim so he jumped in as the swim participant in a relay team this weekend!  I know it killed him to be unable to race the entire course but it was so great to have him back out there!  Welcome back to racing, Bill! 🙂  You’ll be kicking our tushes before you know it!

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Bill being Bill…

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Aaaaand Bill STILL being Bill… haha

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Our good friend, Bryan, also came out to race.  This was his first Olympic distance and long tri event EVER! 😀  He took a tumble over his handle bars toward the end of the bike and ended up breaking his hand but this hard core fella still finished the race and had a pretty good run time, too!  Not to shabby for guy who was told just a few years ago that he would never run, again!

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And Coach and Denise made it up for the race, too!  I didn’t get a picture with Denise… I think somebody got a group photo but I haven’t seen it, yet.  Anywho, she was a great help as always.  She was there at the finish to hand me water (even opened my bottle for me) and she bossed Bryan around after the race when his hand was all swollen and he needed some bossing. 🙂

So… the race itself was quite interesting.  For those of you who don’t remember or weren’t following my blog this time a year ago, this was also my first race last season and I had a rather significant “panic attack” during the first few hundred meters of the swim.  I was briefly convinced that I was not capable of swimming the distance and that I would soon drown if somebody didn’t fish me out of the water.  I pulled it together and regrouped for the rest of the race but it really made me aware of how insecure I feel in the water!  This year was a totally different story.  I made sure to get in the water beforehand for the “pre swim” and got a feel for the water and my wet suit, etc.  I felt pretty confident starting off in the swim and since the water was relatively clear, I could occasionally glimpse at my watch.  I was thrilled to see that a 1:37-1:41/100 yards pace on my watch whenever I glanced!  I was feeling comfortable and confident and I was looking to PR!  That’s no crazy fast swim but for me that is quite a good pace to maintain for 1500 m.  I was estimating my finish time and was surprised when I was still in the water and quite a ways away from the swim exit when I thought I would be done.  At first, I wondering if my Garmin was just really off or if I had just taken a long route on accident… but that would be WAY off for my Garmin and I hugged every single buoy on the course.  I confirmed with others at the race’s end and the swim course was, in fact, long.  My watch said that I swam 1.07 miles so my time was actually about the same as last year’s time but I KNOW my pace was quite better.  That’s very exciting because I’ve been working really hard with swim coach Juliet on improving and it’s finally starting to show some results! 🙂

T1 was uneventful and I was off on my bike.  Oh, and with my new aero helmet, the GIRO Air Attack with the Visor from Final Kick Sports!  I am in love with this helmet.  It fit like a glove and I had much improved visibility with the visor instead of my sunglasses!  Anywho, the first half of the bike was painful – lots of tough hills and into the wind.  There is also a “no pass” zone going down a steep hill toward the beginning of the race and I spent the first half of the race passing large clumps of cyclists and not going at a super high speed.  The second half of the course was a bit better, partly because I had already passed the large clumps of cyclists and partly because the head wind turned into a side wind or a tail wind for the rest of the course.  🙂  I was making good time for the majority of those miles, though I was stuck, on several occasions, behind vehicular traffic.  Of course, the vehicles were going at a slower pace because of the cyclists in front of them going at a slower pace – at one point, I was having to brake on a downhill and was only doing about 12mph.  That definitely hurt my pace/time and really it made the bike harder because I wasn’t able to just maintain a consistent speed – I had to keep slowing down and speeding back up.  That happened about three times from what I can remember (being stuck behind a slower vehicle) and for almost a mile or more each time.  One truck did slide over and give me room to pass on the right and I was very appreciative!

T2… well, it was quick but it was chaos for me.  I realized later that I had spent time visualizing my swim to bike transition but I hadn’t spent time mentally going through my bike to run transition.  I don’t know why that happened but it did and the results were not so awesome.  First I miscounted the bike racks and had to walk back to my bike rack, then I couldn’t get my bike to stay on the rack.  Then, I was already running away from my set up and I went back for my garmin, which I had left on my bike.  As soon as I did it, I thought “WHY did I do that?!”  But I did it. Ha.  I should have just run without my garmin but oh well.  I also forgot my little back of salt sticks that I intended to take with me and pop on the run.  It was pretty warm out and we hadn’t had a lot of warm weather yet so I wasn’t really used to the temperature rise, yet.  I’m not sure if that is WHY my run didn’t go well, but I know that I was DEFINITELY feeling overheated on the run.  All I could think about for the last two miles was drinking cold water when I finished.  My head felt like it was on fire and I had a headache for basically the entire day after I finished the run.  I was well-hydrated with water, coconut water, pedialite and accelorade.  I also took a salt tab at dinner the night before and with breakfast but I’ve found that taking them during my races has been very helpful.  Anyway, for whatever reason, my run was slower than last year and I was pretty much miserable the entire time.

Looking back, that’s really the only part of my race that didn’t show improvement.  If I hadn’t gotten slower on the run and a bit confused in T2 then I probably would have had almost the exact same finish time as last year.  If I hadn’t gotten stuck behind cars and the swim course hadn’t been long then I probably would have had a faster time.  I was disappointed at first but once I looked at it more carefully, I think there’s a lot of positive data here about my fitness level and my racing abilities.  My swim PACE was far faster than last year (about 20 second per 100m if you’re going by meters, which I usually do but my watch showed yards) and my bike pace went from a 20.09 from last year to a 20.6 and that was even WITH those cars.  My goal for Nationals would require me to take a LOT of time off of my current Olympic distance PR.  Nationals is only a few months away and I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull it off but I can say that the Monticelloman race is a challenging course with lots of hills and unique issues with traffic.  Taking all of that into consideration, I think there’s still hoping for lopping some time off before August.  For now, 3rd in my AG at MonticelloMan with lots of work ahead.

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Last year they gave away pint glasses AND beer… this year, just the pint glass.  Oh well. 🙂 Love my comfy post-race Betty Designs shirt!

OOooh and my husband had an AWE-SOME race in Philly!  He finished 15th overall in a race of about 40k people!  He PR’d his 10 miler with a time of 51:49.  He’s sort of amazing. 🙂

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With a shiny, new PR!

Well, enough of that… time to get training! 🙂  I am a Betty, after all!

 P.S.  I met my goal of raising at least $800 for Girls on the Run with a total of $840 before I raced this weekend!  If you’d like to donate and haven’t yet, I’m going to leave it open for another few days.  Don’t forget, donating could get you one of three Betty Designs prize packs:

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Donate HERE!