Falling from Grace

My son has asked me to blog about Grace.

Where do I begin? Grace has been my pseudonym from childhood into adulthood. At risk of sounding slightly schizo, I will try and explain my nickname.

Why Grace? Because I’m not graceful. Sarcasm lives. My brothers called me klutzy, but my dad called me Grace. Especially when I would try to pour him coffee in the morning and my hand would be shaking. Coffee would spill and the whole family would be in stitches.

Recently my sister shared a story from when my grandparents were babysitting us when we were little. I guess she was waiting with Grandpa in the car for me to come out of my cello lesson and she called me clumsy. My grandfather defended me indignantly, but then I came out and tripped, cello in hand. They had a good laugh. I never knew, until this Thanksgiving. But I’m not surprised.

Fortunately I have a pretty good sense of humor. So good that I even warn my friends about Grace. One friend has decided that I have these “accidents” which can range from sheer forgetfulness to major catastrophes because my focus is on more important things. What, I wonder? I would like to believe that. Another friend suggested that my house is messy because it is more important for me to have coffee and listen to a friend, or get to the gym, than to clean. That could be true. And my brain never does really shut off, so maybe I am thinking about something REALLY important when I run into a door frame or trip over a rug.

Ballet Boy has gained a second nickname, Graceson. For someone so elegant and fluid on stage, he sure is capable of running into things and falling at home. My running buddy, aka Candy Ass, is Gracefriend, as she has her moments (but LOTS less than me). The Brewmaster is now Graceman, as I’ve come to realize that he has his catastrophic moments, too. This happens to smart people that are working several jobs and burning a candle at both ends. So, we are one whole family of Graceful and Graceless people, depending on where and how we happen to be interacting.

photo (28)
I need one for every day of the week

Gracemom fell and broke her wrist, or rather both wrist bones, this winter. It was a terrible fall on Iowa ice, and she had a long operation to try and put it back together again. While at the doctor recently, they asked her if she was dizzy or fell like falling that day. I wanted to scream, “Yes, I do!” but I was not the patient. Then, I saw these awesome bracelets. I wanted one so badly that I will admit to stealing one when the medical team left the room. 

Today I completed my first triathlon of 2014. I did not feel one bit graceful. I felt klunky, wheezy and old. I felt more than a little out of place with all of the trim, athletic people there. I met a few people from my endurance club. One was friendly, two were a bit stand-offish and downright competitive. I’ve been sick with a sore throat and stuffy nose all week and gave a new meaning to the term tapering. Adding to the mix more training to become a supervisor for my “side job” as a Pearson music education scorer and playing a concert set that was 62 miles away in winter driving conditions has made it a stressful week.

This morning I woke up feeling crummy. I had a concert Saturday night and had to drive back to play this afternoon, and I was fairly stressed about when my start time would be. It was an indoor Sprint–10 minutes in the pool, 10 minutes on a bike and 10 on the Dreadmill. I was really dreading the Dreadmill because it makes me dizzy (think Grace on a moving target) and the pool because I hadn’t swum enough this winter. I was happy about the bike until I realized we were on a very foreign model that I hadn’t used before…no MPH, no Watts…just RPM and distance traveled.photo (30)

I fixed some reasonable goals, I thought. Swim 500 in 10, bike 3 miles in 10 and run one mile or more…I wanted to run sub-10 min/mile pace. I’ve done this many times training, but just not after going full out on the other stuff.

My lungs were not cooperating. Viral-induced asthma was making me gasp for air. I tried using the inhaler that I keep in my swim bag before jumping in and chunks of something very nasty went down my throat. I was still wondering what moldy substance I’d consumed when I started swimming. I did do 19×25+4 yds…just a little under what I was hoping. Not bad considering how absolutely little I’ve been in the pool lately.

The bike was fun once I got it adjusted. The seat was very hard to adjust and we only had 2 minutes to get it all just right. I think I got it on the high side because of what I felt on the run, and it was also a stab in the dark for the resistance which was just a knob with no visible calibrations. I worked to stay as close to 100 rpms as I could while pushing the resistance up, and got closer to 3.6, way over my goal. I’m used to keeping an eye on my MPH and Watts, and there was no clock to know how much time I had left. Ironcelloman who was cheering me on before his wave left gave me some updates and got me water; I am very thankful for those!

The walk up the stairs was painful. The lactic acid had built up in my thighs and was not coming down. I was happy that the Brewmaster was at my side and offered to carry my bag full of crap as I felt wobbly in a Grace kind of way.

As soon as I got the treadmill up to speed I knew it was not going to be a good day. I started at 5.9 mph thinking I would do negative splits and try for something close to a 9 min/mile pace average. That was not to be: when I tried to run I got a sharp right knee pain. That’s right, not my ankle, my knee. This may have been due to a bad adjustment on the bike since I have never felt this running before. I almost just stopped, but I had to see if I could “run through” the pain. I slowed down and after a while it didn’t hurt as badly, but was a nagging pain in the back ground. In spite of drinking lots of water, I felt nauseous and dizzy, and had to slow down at intervals more than I wanted to. Mentally, i couldn’t carry it and felt disappointed.

The Brewmaster noted right away that I never got an even cadence running. Being the musician he is, he saw that I didn’t have a steady “8th note” clip. I explained my pain and told him I was kind of gimpy the whole “run” which ended up being a jog. I made it to .96 miles, but of course I was hoping for faster.

I don’t regret doing the triathlon. I’m very proud to have finished and played a concert in the same day. Few people would undertake such an insane challenge and I learned a lot about sprinting vs. training for longer distances today. It’s truly hard to go full out 3x in a row in different gaits, and my whole body is complaining tonight.

Mostly, I’m working through mental pain. I don’t feel like a failure. I didn’t quit, and given my training, it wasn’t bad. I just wanted to do better, and I know I will do better. My endurance club, including the woman that said, “Oh, you’re in my age category, we’ll be competing,” cleaned up the podium. I am proud of them as they are very hard-working, dedicated, athletes, and for the most part humble and supportive. I don’t quite feel like one of them yet, or may never, but I will continue to race myself and want to be better. Part of this includes self-forgiveness, a discipline which I am not so good at.

Grace allows me to laugh at some of my weaknesses. She will be with me tonight as I rub my muscles and laugh to myself about my gimpy right leg and my first failed flip turn (I ended up sideways). Self-humor is different than self-deprecation, and so hard to tap into when you are in a hard place.

Tonight I will fall into bed, dreaming of Grace and my next triathlon. Grace will be there to make me laugh and Gracefriends will be there to support and cheer me on.falling_girl_02


2 Replies to “Falling from Grace”

  1. First – I saw the title of this blog and had to come and read. My wife is a cellist (she is learning anyway 🙂 ) … and she has just started doing Tri’s last year.

    Second – I think you did great on your Tri!

    And finally – Well … there really is no finally … but it seemed odd to end it on item #2 🙂

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