Inner Critic + Inner Observer earn their Sensitivity Training Certificate = Inner Coach

14 09 2011

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Dang I am tired. Weather is changing in Colorado and it was a pretty quick shift from 100 degree days to snow in the mountains.

On campus, I am truly enjoying adding strength training to my mix and having my coursework really go toward something.

I think I mentioned that this term I am taking weights 2 with Brian Cooper, strength & stretching with Coach Tetro and hatha yoga with Svetlana L (can’t spell her last name off the top of my head) along with coursework for my degree. Usually, I am helping others, but The Guys are really making me work.

Hatha Yoga is on Monday nights. Very interesting because, like all my PE classes, there truly is an academic component to the class. Yoga is to clear clutter from the mind and body. I thought about it and it makes a lot of sense.  This week’s class we were to become in touch with our Objective Observer. This is one who just observes but is not judgmental. Just there. Also, something completely new for me, was learning what each of the asanas (poses) is for and to actively think “I am doing this practice for (fill in my goal for the pose).” I see the objective observer as holding a sign for me, like those people cheering on their friends and family during a race. My sign has my goal for each asana practice.

Tuesday and Thursday is Strength & Stretching –> Weights 2. Tetro had us working with flexibility and I really had to think about what I was doing because I am still having balance issues. I think a lot of my balance problems are stemming from my not being comfortable in my body.  I liked the dynamic stretching aspect of the class. Wasn’t thrilled with my heart rate soaring!

I know this because I am starting to wear my monitor again.

I talked with Coach a little after class, but my energy was really low and I couldn’t figure it out. I had just over 1/2 an hour to get it sorted out.

Coach Doc Cooper is really pushing me in a good way. He knows racewalking and knows I need strength work. He also is a sport psychologist, but more importantly makes me laugh. Ok I make him laugh and it is catching!

For the last few days, he has walked in and handed me a slip of paper. It is what I am to do in class. Truly interesting is that I don’t know most of the exercises. Anyway, he gives me mine then writes up the general class plan. He wanders the room and works with all of us. I feel like I am a problem child at times because I am on such a steep learning curve.

I find it interesting that most of what Cooper has me doing isn’t anything like what I had myself doing. Very functional and very directed. I am slowly getting it but I am so off balance that I feel like Bambi trying to ice skate. He laughs and I keep at it.  What I do like is most of the exercises are ones I can do at least pieces of in my living room —- as long as I keep it decluttered.

Ooooohh!!! Link to yoga class!

I have walked Cooper across Denver and he hasn’t shooed me away. This walk he asked me directly about my Inner Critic after races, training & practices. I was honest. My Inner Critic really did a number on me for the last three years. I was more concerned with times than having fun, the finish rather than the process. That Inner Critic went from a positive internal coach to a negative internal basher.

I started to really realize how harmful the Critic had become when I was at the 10k in Sacramento. When I flew back to Denver, I realized how beaten up I felt on a lot of fronts. It had to stop – and it had to stop now.

Cooper asked directly what worked after my slow Virginia Beach race. I know what he was getting at and although the chronological time did suck the race was a success because I checked off other boxes for things I wanted to accomplish.

Since my Inner Critic is now in “sensitivity ” training, there is a very good possibility that it might be changed into Inner Observational Coach. However, until it earns its Sensitivity Training Coaching Certificate,  my races are trundles. And the pressure is off.

I am a competitive athlete, and a mind working with me, not against me is paramount.

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Taking responsibility for a weighty issue ….

30 06 2011

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Now before you get your knickers in a twist or panties in a bunch (depending on your country), I have never had this food, I just found the photo and it made me giggle!

I am a snacker. Left to my own devices, I will fluctuate between eating nothing of value or forgetting to eat to eating thousands of forgettable calories and becoming nothing of value on my couch!

I know folks on such a highly regulated diet that they really aren’t enjoying eating,  nor are they really enjoyable to go out and eat with.

Food is fuel. Eating should be an enjoyable experience. However, like many I am far from perfect in this realm. I just have to be careful due to food related health issues.

Tuesday, I sat in weights where Coach Tetro talked on nutrition. I listened to comments and to Coach. Both my classes this semester mention how advertising and media stories about health related issues really screw people up. Hum … how many years has this popular culture historian been saying this?

As I drove to the lightrail station, there was an ad looking for test subjects for people who want to lose 30 pounds without diet change or exercise required. Yeah – a pill. I would like to lose 30 pounds. It would make me unhealthy, but the scale number would look good.

My mind wandered slightly in Coach’s class because when it comes to food choices, I know I have made the easier ones over the good ones. My worst habits come from not paying attention to what I am doing for the day and bringing food with me. THEN I get hungry and pay obnoxious prices for JUNK!!!!

It all comes down to respecting my time and my life. I have been getting rid of the non-productive things out of my world and replacing with space, free time, and things for me – training, school work, time with friends, & new experiences.

I wrote about Coach talking about reducing stress by laying out clothes. Tuesday, he talked about making room in the fridge for a week of lunches. I do that to an extent, but my balance is a bit off. Ok – do I have to get 4 paper lunch bags and make inclusive lunches? You know, right now that might be a good idea.

When Susan Randall was here, she noticed how many foods were becoming science experiments in my fridge. I saw how easy it was to put together good meals and how much I liked left-overs.

It just takes carving out the time to do it. I have to simply make the time for me because, like I remind clients: I am worth it.





Laying Out the Lil’ Racer ….

26 06 2011

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I know I keep nattering allong about Spring Semester’s stress management class, but I learned a lot and it is hard to chisel things into my brain.

The question was opened to the room: “What stresses you out on a daily basis?” One gal nervously giggled in the back saying that she was stressed out about what to wear. Instead of saying her issue was silly or low on the stress priority scale, Coach Tetro seized the moment and, in his animated way, explained the concept of laying out his “Little Man” the night before to relieve the stress of what to wear in the morning. Through the semester, he checked in with the girl in the back and it worked.

When I first started racing, I was pretty anal retentive about laying out, for lack of a better term,  my “Lil’ Racer.”  When I went out of town, I would lay out my race clothes on my carry-on backpack and extra things on my luggage. For local races, I would lay things out on my dining room table (a good thing about living alone). I would get to my race and clumsily warm up.

After a while, however, I stopped laying out my Lil’ Racer. For local races, I would have my number on the counter, and just take the whole thing for granted. I can do a 5K distance. No reason to take it seriously. Not a terrific attitude.

Laziness spreads. As I was dealing with injuries, I was disenchanted with everything. I can do the distance, and training was hurting. Also, as other stressors in my life started to infringe on my training time, I stopped respecting the fact that every race I do (from 10k to 50k – I want to try one of these), is built on the back of the 5K.

To be honest, 5K’s and I have had a love/hate relationship. I just take forever to warm up, but like respecting the fact that one can drown in only a few inches of water, I have to respect the 5K distance.

Last night, I picked a friend up at the airport and popped him off at his house. I didn’t get home until around 11:20 PM. I took the dog out and laid out my Lil’ Racer.

I didn’t do it completely, but I did get the necessary stuff ready: bib number, compression shorts, socks & shoes. Since I wear toe socks, I laughed when I laid out two left socks.

Interestingly, I easily fell asleep in the Denver heat and then woke up easily. When Miss Bailey Boo followed me into the kitchen, she looked up at me as if to say “Ok Padawan, you have to resepct each race and enjoy them for what they are! Now eat your oatmeal & coffee!”

So, as I sit here choking down watered down Powerade, I think that by respecting each race, I might start to get that race high again. Sure, there are medical reasons that make it a little harder to get the pre-race jitters that get me ready to go, but respecting every distance as a stepping stone toward racing faster at my longer distances will go a long way.

In training of my favorite ice skating events, Mr. Gene Turner had me learn the little steps that lead to the footwork that I mated to the music. Even when I felt lost in a routine, I could make up time with footwork.

So – it is time to eat, get into my Lil’ Racer and get going.





Back on the Horse

25 06 2011

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You know that old saying about getting back on the horse after being bucked off? That is what I am doing, ‘cept it is taking two years!

Two years ago is the last time I raced the Stadium Stampede 5K. It is one of a handful of racewalk monitored races that are close enough for my aging car to get to. What happened at that race was a product of my being stressed out, uncentered, and unfocused.

I started on the line with the racewalkers. I knew most of them and also knew they would easily leave me in the dust. The problem I was having was that I couldn’t seem to get up for the race, and, worse yet, what we thought at the time to be asthma was making breathing …. uh …. special to say the very least.

It was nice to see my lung challenged friends, but the event was a series of warning flags for me. First,  I had to pick up my number and they couldn’t find it. When I finally got my chip, the fastening zip ties repeatedly broke. I had a decent zip tie in the car,  but I had to find Bob Carlson to have my bib marked as Racewalk.  Fortunately for me, I ran into Bob in the parking lot and he gave me my sticker.

I remember starting out too fast and hacking even before the first kilometer. Passing the back end of the runners found me going really wide and not being focused. Then the cottonwood trees seemed to be shedding all over me. I usually breathe through my mouth, so not only did I get mouthfuls of cottonwood fuzz but gulps of pot smoke from, I guess, the homeless people under the turn around bridge.

Coming back, I felt like I had swallowed cement. Form was a mess. My knee hurt like crazy and, worse probably, my head was in a really sucking place.

What the hell was I doing? I have no business even thinking I can race because I can’t wrap my head around anything. I might as well have laid landmines. A friend of mine kept badgering me to quit racewalking and give up any thought of being remotely competitive because of my injuries.

As her voice flooded my ears, I truly stopped paying attention and caught my foot on breaks in the sidewalk where roots had pushed through.  I caught myself the first time, the second I landed on my bad knee and rear end.

What the hell are you doing Lizzy??

I could have just sat on my pity pot and watched the race go by, but I am too hard headded for that. I got up, disgusted, and plodded on.

Of course, since I was beating myself up and tripling my stress load instead of getting off my own back, my body reacted by stiffling my breathing further.

You see, it took until a year later for my misdiagnosis of asthma switched to vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) which is exacerbated by stress. By the time I got to the warning track around Bronco Stadium all I could think of was finishing and getting oxygen in me. Of course, I was told by the doc to take a hit off my inhaler – precisely the wrong thing for VCD.

I got through to see the finish line but I was truly on my last breath. I ended up crossing the line and folding over the railing trying to breathe. The kids clipping off the timing chip had no clue where any medical was, but I was rescued by Lynn Cole’s husband Lou.

Lou saw I was a mess. I also had pulled off a shoe – but that is a different story. He brought me over to the Huff & Puff area – where lung challenged friends filled their oxygen tanks.

I got the other shoe off and racewalker & friend Michael Blanchard showed me where there was a gal doing free chair massages. “Liz – everyone has an off race. ” I had already had an off 6 months of races and I was completely reconsidering continuing the sport in any competitive way.

The truly positive was that with the chair massage gal were a couple of chiropractors. When I walked over, the taller of the two was watching me waddle over in stocking feet in the mud. One of the rare times that I have to look up to anyone, but I reached this guy’s shoulder.

Yep – that was when I met Dr. Josh Doktor & Dr. Jared Ottenger of Pyramid Chiropractic. Most people would be offended when one of the first questions asked is “So when was your car accident?” ( Answer: 20 years before) After a quick consult, I asked when they wanted to see me and Doc said “Tomorrow morning. Bring all your shoes and insoles.” I brought in a huge box.

Doc, Doc Jared, & I started that day on a long journey to put me back together. It has been a long road, but I have had a lot to learn about myself. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for “the Boys” I probably would have given up racewalking and my medical adventures of the past couple of years would have felt worse.

Flash Forward: I went to get my number today. Thursday, I looked at the entrance form with Coach Tetro because they changed the run into a money race. I signed up for the walk instead of the run.

First issue was that the walk bibs didn’t have the timing device (protected by a wad of Styrofoam ) attached. “Don’t worry about it. I am sure you can get one on race day.” Hu? Ok – I can pitch a fit like the best of them when necessary. Personally, when you read “race goals” you will realize that isn’t really necessary.

Second: She couldn’t find my number in the walk. Two separate colors, but no number? Sigh. The numbers are filed by last name. Nope not there. Then she looked in the run – again not by last name and couldn’t find it.  Ok – first I find out that my favorite race shoes (Brooks T6) are going to have to be found on line until Brooks realizes that the off center phase is irritating. Then I find out that I am on the list but no number.  I took matters in my own hands and flipped through the “S” section in the run. There I was.

Third: The number is not going to lie flat with 1/4 inch of Styrofoam “protecting” the chip.

I have no clue why they give away white tech shirts. They are unisex and completely see through!  The logo is pretty. This may go to my Aussie teammate David W. Smyth!

Most folks wouldn’t put a race on top of leaving for a goal event,  but since my training schedule was completely trashed by my back and illness, I just have to get back on the horse.

Race Goals: I think any fast folks who aren’t going to Sacramento are going to be at this race. Since I skipped the Bolder Boulder, this is going to be my first Colorado race in at least 10 months! I can’t expect to win the walk portion, but I am going for completely personal reasons. It also needs to be mentioned that I truly suck at 5K’s. I like my distance. The thing is, I have to get better at all distances if I am going to feel viable in this sport.

My 6 Things:

1. To be around people and still hold a pace I am comfortable with. I tend to go out too fast. I have to waddle my own race.

2. To push myself to see how my VCD is going to react in the heat.  Last year was a wash because I couldn’t breathe.

3. To focus on the task at hand and not be distracted. I have spent the year and a half helping others. Time to coach myself.

4. To finish reasonably happy.

5. To get my friend and client Trapper Shaw to a race.

6. And most importantly – have fun & not hurt myself.

And – give Doc a big sweatty post race hug!





Thoughts after sitting an hour in traffic

23 06 2011

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Popped Susan Randall out to Denver International (and way out in the middle of a blasted field) Airport and camped out in traffic watching my oil temp marker peg at HOT. Wow – people do this daily?? No wonder there are so many accidents! I nearly got creamed twice!

I needed to look over my project for Weights. I didn’t like the skeletons Coach Tetro wanted us to color in, but you can’t have everything. I think I got general placement. I should have it perfect after my Anatomy lecture test on Monday and Lab test on Wednesday.

It has been cool to go home and about an hour later follow Susan to wherever she is training. I never really trained with anyone, mostly because I am so much slower than everyone I know. The thing is that we were on the same course, but doing our own thing.

I don’t mind checking in with other folks, but feeling like I have to carry on a conversation or coax through a workout separates me from focusing on what I need to be doing.

One of the many lessons I learned this week and a half is to make my workout work for me, even if those with me are boatloads faster – or slower. My workout is primary. Friends will understand and people who are drains will feel insulted. Fine. I am not trying to be mean, but it is time for me to put me first and what is important to me first.

Friends are there to support one another,  not act in some BS passive aggressive jealous sort of way. I know I don’t have time for the emotional vampires anymore and don’t want to be one.

Sorry – I don’t have time for endless loop drama …. I have training to do.





“Sometimes You’ve Just Got To Let Go Of The Rope.”

4 06 2011

Ok – so I know this is a Christian Rock song, and my spiritual beliefs are my own, but I really liked the words, so be it!

I finally completed a full semester in my new major of Human Performance Sport – Adult Fitness & Exercise Science at Metropolitan State College of Denver. My first full semester was marred by my dealing with a lot of medical issues many of which were exacerbated by stress, my being stuck in a holding pattern, lifelong stress, unresolved crapola, and, did I mention, lifelong unresolved stress?

When I was looking at my required courses, I noticed that I had the opportunity to take a stress management class. Since I had already decided that a lot of my issues were made worse by my not being able to handle my life, I signed up for an on-line version of the stress management course for Summer 2010.  I was already taking an introduction to nutrition class on-line and thought it would be a great way to whack out two classes while trying to sort out the mounting health issues.

Before the semester began, I got a gut feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to handle more than one on-line class because I was spending more and more time finding the various Kaiser Medical Offices around Denver and surrounding counties. I dropped it, but I still had the documentation. It was kind of light and I wondered how much help it would be.

The Fall Semester was, shall we way, a bit of a cluster! It was more than a disaster in a lot of ways, so when I started my Spring Semester, I knew I was behind the proverbial 8-Ball.  Taking a Stress Management course, by many, is considered a massively soft option. I wasn’t sure, but I had a full load. Soft option or not, I could only hope that it wouldn’t stress me out more because I was dealing with the after effects of the previous months. The very least I could hope for was that it wasn’t going to be some irritating, sit in a semi-circle and bitch and moan about our lives sort of class taught by some mamby-pamby whiny person who had no sense of humor. In other words, be a complete waste of time and tuition.

I had to rush from one side of the campus to the campus to the other to make a class that I wasn’t sure about.  At least I would get a little sprint in twice a week.  I noticed there were several folks who were in my other classes and we were in a regular classroom. I had looked at the textbook while I was stuck in the airport coming back from South Carolina.  It was interesting, but whatever. A class like this depends on the professor and class.  Who is this “Tetro?” No clue. I’m new to the program.

Focus hasn’t always been a strong suit for me, unless I am truly engaged, but some professors have gotten me to really use my brain cells. In my first Communications Studies course at Santa Rosa Junior College, my professor stated that you got out of the class what you put in to it.  My first mentor there, Mr. Ed LaFrance, continued the theme. Economics professor Mr. Ron Schulke really got me to enjoy economics to the point where I was initially an Econ major! Sadly, after I left SRJC, I got distracted. I wondered if “Tetro” was going to bring me back, or that this course was going to be a waste of my time.

As we were talking with one another, in walked, as it is put in my favorite book The Phantom Tollbooth “the Tallest Short Man In The World” clad in Adidas. I could tell he took a lot of students by surprise.  After the first 20 minutes, I couldn’t put my finger on this quick talking guy who was easy to smile and had a quick “East Coast” (read: Smart) sense of humor.  He had the same vibe as professors I had in the past who have influenced me.  I also know, with a Mom who is 5’7″ who refers to herself as “Tiny But Mighty,” never judge anything by size and build – even with a professor who looks like he could be blown over by a Colorado wind! Just – don’t – go – there! 

Who is Coach Chris Tetro? Does it matter? He wants to be referred to as Coach. Ok – to me, that term is earned. Sorry. Just how I am. The word connotes actually giving a crap about the people they’re working with, not seeing them as a paycheck. I can go on and on about this, but maybe for another blog entry.

Now, before you get the impression that Coach Tetro was some doughy Italian guy who is well past his prime and still thinks he knows everything or is someone who believes he has  all the answers and teaching a “soft option” course is beneath him. You’d definitely have the wrong guy. He is the owner of Tetro Performance (www.tetroperformance.com) where the tag line is: Be Defined By Your Effort. What kind of effort am I going to be able to put in to what is supposed to be my frill class? I don’t know, but I do know that my life literally depends on it — or at least the quality of my life does.

Right off the bat, Coach Tetro said that this was an academic class and that he would be exposing us many different tools, but not everything would work for everyone equally. He also didn’t want to stress us out with boatloads of homework. As he said this, I took a gander around the class. Kids were looking at one another thinking this class was going to be a fluffy cake-walk. Um – I don’t think so. What was implied was that the work was going to be done internally and although tests are important, application was moreso. Most of the room wasn’t going to take advantage of the opportunity to explore themselves in a really safe environment. Well, their loss! They can do whatever bare minimum and get whatever grade.  I have dealt with many of the effects of stress and I was going to sap this man of every ounce of knowledge.

You know, I have to say that the course that changed my life, attitude, and gave me the opening to walk away from things I can’t change. The book was OK, but Coach created a thing called The Chair of Truth where he and a handful of us opened up sharing stressful recent situations and how we handled them. It wasn’t some God-Awful touchy-feely-sit-in-a-circle-and-create-a-pity-pot situation.  I think his head would explode if that was what he was supposed to teach. Not his style. He is a work-in-progress. He is discovering about himself, learning from mistakes, and, most importantly, talking-his-talk and walking-his-walk in the real world not in some esoteric way. His enthusiasm was infectious to those of us who actually mined the class for everything we could get.

People are catalysts for what we need to learn. I have a belief that when interacting with each other, people who are truly on a growth path don’t try to control one another by blindly following the advice of others so when it doesn’t operate perfectly, they have someone else to blame. I believe that people share tools with one another and it is up to the person trying out the tool to take responsibility for the good and the bad.

I learned from my classmates. I learned from my instructor. Most of all, I learned from myself. The textbook had self-evaluative quizzes at the end of every chapter. Like any course, you get out of it what you put in to it, so I made it a point to use the exercises for what they are intended: Self-Awareness and Growth.

This stress management class opened the eyes of a handful of us. I think how it happened was more the professor over the material. Sure, he was using a textbook as a guide, but he took what could be dry concepts that younger people didn’t truly have the life experience to grasp and brought them to life. I had my beliefs supported and, more importantly, felt the fog lift in so many areas of my life.  I found myself a little jealous of the kids in the class who were getting at least parts of “it” because they would be armed better at a younger age.

Color me shocked that Stress Management became my favorite class. My brain operated in five different directions every time I was in there. One day, I realized that I was comfortable to actually create a t-shirt for the Abused Woman’s Awareness Month – the Clothesline Project. The first person I told was Coach Tetro, who noticed I was really focused on something I was drawing. What was even sweeter, was when they put the shirts up in the Tivoli Student Union, my classmate Ashley went searching for my shirt – I had it sent to California to be put up there. Next year, I’ll have make one for here and Ash and crew will be right there with me.

One of the concepts that started to turn me around was when Coach said “sometimes you’ve got to just let go of the rope.” I’d handled some sticky problems to this point, but I can spot a fellow fighter when I see one. Coach is a fighter, but his point is well taken. Sometimes you’ve just got to stop pulling/fighting and just walk away. It’s not worth the stress and you can’t change anyone’s mind but your own.

When I had a relapse of illness, I was upset that I was missing classes. I was afraid it was going to turn into a repeat of Fall. Coach has his rules about missed classes, but he knows I’m participating when I’m there. What shocked me was when Miguel, Ash, and others saw me on campus and said “Lizzy – Are you ok?” and meant it! I was hoping I wasn’t an irritant in the class because I realized that half the time I tried to say anything my brain was at least a paragraph ahead of my mouth because so many things were clearing up. My eyes were being pealed open and I was able to dump piles of mis-matched pieces of emotional luggage. “Nah – your stories get us to think because you’re older than us, but have the same thing going on.”

The final project for Stress Management really kicked my head open. The pages were on Death and things. What 10 things would I will to people? Could I give them these things before I die so they can enjoy them? I was finishing up all my other projects and this stopped me dead in my tracks. I looked around at the piles in the house, and I knew the minute I got back from California (where I would be practising other stress management techniques), I would probably clean. What I didn’t realize was that the techniques learned, and space given by this class allowed me to forgive so many things within myself.  When I got back, I was confused and all it took was another catalyst to take me to task to get the ball rolling.

I’ve always had it within me to do everything I need to. I just had to focus. Sometimes it takes people you can trust to help focus you, but you have to be the one to actually do the hard work, because, honestly, they have their own focusing to do. 

For as long as I can, I will take activity courses from Coach Tetro. I know this man incorporates everything that I have respect for and I hope he will be willing to mentor me as I embark on my personal training career.

So, I know I speak for a lot of us when I say Thanks Coach Tetro.