Creating a Team

9 09 2011

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I am getting my cholesterol blood test results back today, so I took a look at some of my records on weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol I had recently filed.

I know meds help a lot of folks, but I was able to see that when I was properly training, my cholesterol levels were nicely balanced. When I was dealing with injury, insane & unresolved stress, and then over a year of stress-related health complications, my training was spotty, I felt crummy, and second guessed everything.

It has been a road back littered with the need to look at how to lower the background stresses and deciding what lifestyle changes need to be made in order to be healthy.

A lot of folks can be motivated by family & kids, but I am like thousands of folks who are single. I don’t have that “my kids-spouse-family need me to be alive” motivation. I do have friends, however.

I have always been behind my friends’ fitness activities. I know they are behind me, but I have actually had people say “you should stop racewalking because it is making you sick.” Not really. My life was making me sick.

Coming back, I have stared down what I can and cleared it. That is half the problem, the other half is getting my training on track.

It is hard by yourself. It is also hard when you question if you are a viable athlete. The mental issue I started to attack with a required Stress Management class. Coach Christopher Tetro was my weights 1 coach over the summer, and has been terrific. He reminded me to learn the lessons of being under oxygen in Sacramento. Maybe he knew part of me was really close to quitting.

Coach was also surprised when I decided to drop weights 2 with Coach Brian Cooper. I was going to use the time to muddle through the weights program I had scribbled. First day of class, Alena-Kidlet said I would love working with Coach Coop.

Coach Cooper is a hoot! I realized having him on one side and Coach Tetro on the other, I was surrounded by a couple cool coaches, but I didn’t realize how much until I got a post Virginia Beach email.

Before Labor Day weekend, I talked with Coop (sorry Dude, I type on the phone!) who said he had some direct ideas for me, he just had to talk to the swimming coach. Hu? In class, I ask questions and more often than not he said “for them yes. Not for you. For you …” I am learning for not only myself (endurance athletes) but for as many flavors of fitness seekers.

The email didn’t make me nervous. I have had kind of lip service help given, but realized there was a whole different animal when I got to Tetro’s class who said “welcome back. Oh we were talking about you and have ideas. “

I can see these two laughing and cackling over notebooks, rolling their hands “ah-ha … can we get her to do this?  BWAHAHHAHAAAA!!” Both know if they explain it, I can be directed into great times and finishes.  Neither knew me when I was healthy. They just know me now. And that rocks because they are working with what I am knowing some of my past potential.

Coach Cooper + Coach Tetro + Coach Lippek + Good Friends + My Attitude = AWESOME TEAM!!

I write alphabetical order, not importance.

Coop reminded me, as he gave me my assignment which is different from my class, every athlete needs a team.  The strength of my team depends not only on the quality of the advice I seek & questions I ask, but on the dedication and determination I bring to the table.

Look – there are reasons why programs like Team in Training, Team Challenge, Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, DetermiNation, and other endurance programs work is that you get a team. You get out of it what you put in to it.

I always put a lot into things for others, and now fully ready to turn that dedication internally – with the help & faith in me of my awesome team – and their resources.





Realizing My Crew

27 06 2011

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So – where was I?

When I have done races where I bring non-racing yet friends, I usually worry about them. Just don’t like to feel abandonned. I didn’t mean to lose Trapper at the event, but I did – kinda. If you knew how impressive losing Trapper is, you would wonder how I did it. Trap is about 6’2″, dressed mostly in black, doesn’t handle heat well, and weighs someplace in the mid-300’s. I lost track of him anyway. I knew my adoptive kid brother would be fine.

He planted himself right at the finish line and watched “the crazy fast” runners finish 15 minutes after the start of the race. “WOW! There is nothing to them. Just skin! ” He had met Michael Blanchard earlier in the morning, and saw Mike blow on up to the finish. “He couldn’t be second! Even the guy next to me showing his kid said he was the first racewalker.” Well – that’s what happens with a monitored race where the monitors aren’t deep into the course or at the end.

When I was finishing, I knew the weakest links in my chain were my lungs, shins, and the heat. I didn’t feel dizzy, so I know the Hammer Endrolytes will be a permanent part of my routine.

I had finishing problems and kept it together thinking of friends.  Awesome Runner & Friend Heather Urata was using this race as her comeback after an injury pulled her out of her last Marathon. I looked up and there was heather and some of her friends doing a cool down lap. Hand slap and a little positive energy transmitted. I was almost done.  I also looked for who I thought was Elna Caine monitoring – I thought I saw her as I was going out, but maybe it was a hallucination.

I came up the exit hill and there was Trapper! He met me at the finish line. I checked in with the timer like we racewalkers were told to do during starting instructions. I wasn’t confident she cared at all, especially since she made a disparaging comment.

I do love my sport, but didn’t realize I was willing to fight a bit until I felt like we were being more discounted than usual.

I made my inquiries and it wasn’t like I was pushing for first place finishing, I didn’t put in a race performance I was really proud of, but I just don’t like the continued second class treatment of the sport.

Runners who have any understanding of the sport know it is truly a sport but general public and some sportscasters don’t think it is any harder than their mother’s power walking. Yeah I do get passed by power walkers, but that will change.

Trapper had my bag. I was not used to having a friend there, especially one who had an ice chest in his trunk and who remembered my water bottle filled with chocolate almond milk
for post-race. I enjoyed slurping this between hacks,  so it is another “permanent” part of racing for me.

I really give the announcer serious kudos for his explaining competitive racewalking as being different from regular walking and that we were going for awards. When things got clustered up and bad information was becoming rampant, this same announcer explained to me how our times were in with runners, but racewalk was teased out for awards. When I had a pissed off walker tell me that there were no walk awards, I felt confident this race representative would give me the straight dope. He did. I give him even more serious kudos for playfully & respectfully explaining racewalking before awards.

The Awards were a little confusing with the money race and probably me asking questions. They start with walk awards then move to running age groups.

When I won the race my first year (yeah again no fast women with Bob Carlson monitoring), Michael was the one to tell me I won for women, I was proud of my performance and won a nice leather notebook and a certificate to a local steak house. I still use the notebook. They had the Broncos mascot Miles there and I danced with the horse! People were just so calm and not having enough fun.

The next year, I cheered fast racewalk friends, and the walk awards were presented quietly and “dignified.”

I already knew I had won with a lousy time, so time to shake things up and have fun! Women’s awards first. If the gal who picked up the second place award wasn’t picking up the award for a friend like I would be for for Michael Blanchard …. well all I will say is she took advantage of no deep course monitoring as she ran around me with her stroller until I wanted just wanted no strollers in front of me.

First Place Women’s Walk – Elisabeth Shepard! Time for an energy blast on a sunny day. I didn’t tell folks I’d won, so they had fun too. The $25 gift certificate to Bolder Running Company is nice & finding out I won pre-season Broncos tickets on stage was super cool since I love football but can never afford tickets. However, truth be told, these were just flowers on the cake. The best thing for me was the loud cheers from running friends on the green, Heather & Crew from the beer garden, & the Huff & Puffers when I racewalked up to play with the folks on stage. I got Broncos pre-season tickets and the announcer and Anne Trajillo (Channel 7 Denver) laughed that the team better do a practice or something so I could watch. I laughed at the announcer because I was a bit a pest trying to make sure racewalk got in there. Friends around know my energy and enjoyed the show.

When I picked up Michael’s 2nd place award Ms. Trajillo laughed “Here she comes again! She has so much energy!”

Part of why I have so much energy is the good will from friends but also my having enough faith in myself two years ago not to give up and give chiropractic a second go.

I collected things and walked to the covered expo area to the Pyramid Chiropractic booth. Doc and I have probably a truly special relationship. He is chronologically another kid brother but professionally Doc (and his partner Jared Ottenger ) is a cornerstone to Team Shep.

Two years ago this very race, I met Doc. I was faster that year, but in pain – mental and physical – as well as unable to breathe. He has tried to learn the sport, given me the Evil Eye when I do stupid things, and been behind me in both the good & not-so-good races. He has listened and both partners have been hugely supportive of my changing to become a personal trainer.

Everything started with getting me out of the daily pain that wasn’t resolved with my last chiropractor.  He got me to one point, but the Boys took me further.

We are a team. They know I am going to do whatever they suggest and admit to when I get lazy. They know that when I have a nasty problem, it takes a lot for me to admit it.

Although I didn’t finish this race in easy style and was hacking up science experiments, I have an amazing crew of friends and professionals who love (or at least are entertained) by my energy.

Somehow after a lot of setbacks, I am realizing I have a great energy and attracting an awesome crew I can learn from. We aren’t threatened by each other, but learning from one another and being supportive.

So, to all those who think winning incorporates cheating or ignoring the rules of the game – have fun with your delusion.  Hard work, having fun, and a really good team who knows you might be slow, but would never resort to cutting a course or running while in a walk category is worth more than gold. It is the clear peace of mind knowing that everything is built strong!





100 Miles in Months not Weeks

22 06 2011

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“Ok – get off your own back, Shep! You have been injured and dealing with the general nonsense of cleaning up your life, so 100 miles on a pair of kicks over several months is ok, but not a permanent situation.  Just keep going!”

Sigh. Sometimes my “Inner Coach” has to remind me of things, and the fact that I am putting myself back together slowly is important to remind me of.

Yesterday, my goal was to walk 2x around Bible Park. When I measured it for Susan, it came out to 2.65 km by my Garmin. She was doing 4x around. We did upper body in Coach Tetro’s class, so at least my shoulder girdle was warmed up.

I probably didn’t eat enough because I felt kind of off. Having Susan out there got me out of my complacancy. I stuffed my waterbottle in the hole Susan found in the tree and took off.

I didn’t feel clunky, but just low energy. I still don’t have pacing in my muscle memory, so when I feel slow, I probably am a bit faster.

I noticed my focus was a bit off. A handful of things I need to get done. No. The thing I need to get done is the task at hand – my training! I just gave myself short goals and knew I would stop for about a minute for water at the tree.

I got back to the tree, gulped water with Hammer Grapefruit Fizz in it, and wondered about the second lap. I was tired but not dead.

Ok I was depressed or frustrated and not dead. If I stopped, it would be like doing an easy 20 repetitions and not pushing myself.

I tossed my 2010 Virginia Beach R&R tech shirt into the tree and with excess weight squished between Addidas brand jog bra and short bike shorts started out.

It was OK. I saw my downstairs neighbor walking his dog. Coming up a hill, I saw my friend and client Trapper Shaw leaning against a tree.  “YOU CAN DO IT!!! All night looonnngg!! Yeaahh!” I smiled and said “Meet me at the tree!!”

About 200 meters later, I saw Susan zipping around for her last lap. I could do this. Friends on the course. Tree (like finish line) straight ahead. What is different for me is friend waiting at the end. 

Walking back, Susan did notice that I was walking uneven – like my left knee hurt. Maybe I am compensating for the still present pain in my right posterior hip. Something to think about.

I did a lot of my racing flying solo until my Virginia Beach crew. Before that, friendly runners waiting were people I had ridden with. I mean no disrespect, just that is the way it has been.

Susan flies out tomorrow and I will have to kick my own butte to get out and train.  I also have to get up to the High Altitude Racewalk Team trainings. Maybe ask some runners to just use the same area for their training as I get used to 2+ km loops.

So, I will Shoe Goo my right shoe and maybe 100 miles will only take weeks again soon.





Separate Ways and Massive Thanks

21 06 2011

(I am on the train and seeing how hard it is to pop in a video on my phone from YouTube, so I might be editing!)

I start this post with massive thanks to Susan & Mike Randall, Dr. Joshua Doktor of Pyramid Chiropractic – Littleton, Maggie Olanie of Inner Glow Wellness, Coach Tetro, My Facebook Crew &, again, Susan Randall! My back is nearly back to normal and I truly will be doubling up my efforts to strengthen my abs & lower back!

Susan, Trapper, & I saw Kung Fu Panda II and it had a great effect on me. I have been personally ripping through a lot of my life and reprioritzing. I know stuff I didn’t deal with was coloring everything from my school to personal life to social life to career to racewalking. The fun part of the movie to me is to not be a red and white evil peacock!

It is interesting how complex Americans make simple things and how we completely ignore other things because they are, apparently, “too simple.”

I am walking in to a rather big race in a couple of weeks. I was hoping to have tons of miles under my belt and my body properly fit and prepared for the effort. As with many things, life intervened and I am not quite as prepared as I could or should be.

The “Overthinking” Lizzy was concerned about every little thing, made worse by the apparently genetic extra helping of fear of embarrassment. Yeah – this is coming from the gal who raced in Victoria’s Secret panties over a pair of compression shorts while 20 pounds over-fat!!!

Sure I am in a fast age group with my friend Rebecca Garrison – a speedy sneaker – in it. As of right now, I should be finishing behind 80 year olds,  but at least I am going to try.

I find it interesting how some with my “best interest at heart ” are telling me not to go and embarrass myself. Sigh.

What has that thinking gotten me?  Fear, doubt, and living far below any potential.

It is important to constantly challenge own boundaries. I am not saying “Be an idiot” but to keep things interesting by challenging own boundaries.

Often times, we spend so much time trying to beat someone else’s score or time that we forget we are in this for ourselves first. Sure, I am way behind my personal records/ personal bests – but I am also stripping away all the outmoded nonsense from all areas of my life that have brought to my attention my weaknesses or simply the facts of my past that I I am done with.

Separating myself from the outmoded has been an interesting process, as well as an uncomfortable one. I still rail against things,  but I also know that I am a strong competitor when focused.

Time to let many things go their Separate Ways because by realizing the strength I have gained and utilizing it is the only way to find Inner Peace.





“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.