Monday, August 25, 2008

Tastes Like Chicken (Is it Chicken?)

It's been a long time since I have written...but I got my J-O-B, been at it a month and it has kept me busy- at least with the full time work.

On to what I wanted to write this blog about...

PERCEPTION of one's self, compared to other people's perception of you.

At work (yes the new job), people always come by and say that I look stressed (which is not true, in fact life has been a lot easier). So what is it about me that gives off the feeling of being stressed? I must have a look. As a kid, my parents said I was never a smiley type of child. I was quite and I guess "somber". I do not think that I have ever grown out of that, I have never been the type to go around smiling, I have to work hard to smile all the time.

I have always noticed that it takes people a while to warm up to me. I like to have fun, but maybe that does not show until you have actually hung out with me for a bit. Maybe they are put off because I look 12. Maybe I am have a look...the same one that makes me seem stressed. I like people to be frank with me, hopefully at some point in my life, someone will just say what it is.

Perception is a funny thing. Senge, the guy who developed those "mental models", stated "Before you open your eyes in the morning, 80% of what your going to see is already encoded in your brain." Hmmm...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Will work for food

Not really,

Here I sit two weeks after my intense interview at the University of Akron for the Special Events Manager and still no word. I realize that universities require many departments and a whole lot of paperwork, but still it is no easier on me. In fact the mere stress of it all had me down in out with a cold/flu last week. Maybe I cannot blame it all on the stress but I am sure it does not help. Right now it is 11:30 pm and I am unable to sleep because of all the "what ifs" in my head. Sometimes I wish that I would not think about it all, and yet here I am.

Life would be easier if:

I was not married and I could move on a dime
BUT life would not have as much joy either (dang love)
My father did not have cancer and I could feel at ease about moving far away
BUT I would take life much more for granted and not seize the day as I am now
I did not care about finding a job that I enjoyed
BUT then my life would not be as satisfying
I would not over analyze things to much
BUT then I would not be as good at my job as I am
I already had a full-time job
BUT then I would not be learning valuable life lessons about struggling

OK enough. Phew, glad to get that off my chest

Monday, June 23, 2008

SummiTriathlon Race Report

Only my third triathlon ever.

I rarely do a race report, but since this was my best race in a long time....

Early morning-Munroe Falls Lake

Woke up at 4:00 am after a restless night of sleep and two previous crappy nights of sleep the days before. I strained my back working a Lebron James VIP event at my work (to much to explain), and I was worried that once again my race would turn to shite. I ate a breakfast of one bagel with jelly (trying to cut out dairy before races due to GI issues), blueberry pomegranate juice and a banana (and of course a few vitamin Is for my back). I was already packed for the race, so I just double checked everything to make sure I had it all. P was hardly nervous and joked with me about my pre-race jitters. We headed out to Munroe Falls to get there at exactly 6:00 am sharp to pick up our packet and rack our bikes. This is an early start because the park opens at 10:00 am and CHAMP racing had only until 9:45 to get everything wrapped up. We picked out a prime location for our bikes and saved some spots for our friends. This was Brandon and P's first tri last year and both were participating this year much stronger and focused. This was also the first race of our friend Todd and P's dad, and we wanted to make them feel as comfortable as possible, so we all lined up on the same rack. It was a cool morning, and I wanted to get out and warm up in the water a bit. CHAMP had race waves a little different than other places, first were the elites at 7:06, then the women 40-U at 7:13, then women 40-up at 7:18, then the men. So my wave was the second one up and I hurried into the water at 7:00 am to do a few laps before the start.
Trying to get used the chill

It was an in water start with a 200 y swim out and then duck under a lane line and swim back. At 7:13 the buzzer went off and about 30 women and I were off. I am still in need of some tri swimming practice because I got blocked in and couldn't move out of the group. I was frustrated because I could have gone faster but I was at the mercy of the group, women were kicking me all around and I had to keep looking up to see if I could get past anyone. It did start to thin out at the end of the first 200 yards and I was able to get past some women and hit my stride for the second 200 y. I am sure I had a negative split for the way back because it too what seemed like 2:00 minutes less.

Swim Time: 8:59

Me in T1

This was one of my best first transitions, I rolled up my socks before the race so I could just roll them onto my feet, which kept a lot of that wet feet sticky issues at bay. I quickly laced up my shoes, downed a hammer gel, and strapped on my helmet. The only issue I had was P's suggestion of resting the bike on the brakes instead of the seat caused me to not be able to get the bike off the rack for a bit, a few choice words later, I was finally able to get the bike off and was ready.

T1 time: 2:25 (not bad considering bike issues)

Running back to rack my bike

I followed a group of women on my bike, we must have all missed the turn for the exit because somehow we ended up following the run route instead. After looping around the gatehouse twice we all broke through the main entrance to the park. I was at this point in the lead and instead of hopping off my bike to go through the sand trail I tried to bike through it. Just so all of you know road bikes aren't mtn. bikes and I quickly fell off my bike. The 8 other women around me and I were all a bit pissed (it turned out we did a mile extra getting lost), but we quickly caught up to the group on the road. It would have been funny if it hadn't added so much time. Somehow I missed seeing a bunch of people pass me on the bike. I was so wound up that I mashed the pedals and pushed out a fairly good 12 mi (instead of 11 mi) time. I passed a lot of women (some on expensive tri bikes) which just got me more excited as I made my way through the bike course. Todd came by me looking strong and I encouraged him to keep moving, he was making good time on his first tri.

Bike time: 41.12
Bike Computer Mileage: 11.98
Avg Speed: 16.8

Todd and I in T2

Since I do not have clipless pedals yet, T2 was rather smooth. All I had to do was take my helmet off, drink some gatorade, clip race belt, and I was done.

T2 time: 39 s

First steps of run

Felt a bit wobbly on the run at first but made myself keep running (even though it was slow). I was glad that I could catch my breath enough to keep that steady slow pace that I am known for. The first 1.55 mi loop was just trying to get my legs to work, I felt that nagging calf knot that has been showing up lately during runs. I stopped for a second to stretch that calf, knowing that it would just get worse if I didn't. I think that moment saved my race, as I was able to continue without feeling like the cramp would set in again. The second lap was faster than the first because my legs began to understand what I was trying to do to them. It was my first time EVER feeling pretty good on the run during a triathlon. This made me so happy and I was running on pure adrenaline at this point. Another women tried to pass me on the last bit, right before the finish, but I kicked up my pace to finish strong and get my Second Place AG Award (yay, I have never received an award in a tri). I was ecstatic.
Last kick to keep off lady behind me

Run Time: 30:00

Overall Time: 1:23:17 (good enough for 2nd AG)

(L-R) Todd, Paul, Me (clutching my AG Award), Brandon

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Catching Up

I realize that I have been slacking on my blog. It seems that it is the last thing I think of when working two jobs and just trying to keep training up. I am sure people are rarely reading it these days anyway, but here is an update on my life in the past month.

Well I have two jobs but not a full-time one yet. I am still working part time at the University of Akron as an Outdoor Adventure Recreation Specialist- in fact I am applying at the Student Rec for a full-time job (wish me luck). I have made it through a phone interview that has now turned into a full day on campus interview. It is down to me and a few others. Nervous excitement is the word that I am using...I have put a lot of hope into getting this job, but I know that may be "putting my eggs into one basket" as the saying goes. I am trying to push that hope to the side and think more logically about it all, but I am a dreamer so the likeliness of that is slim.

My other job is at Cleveland Metroparks, as the Institute of the Great Outdoors Seasonal (very similar to my job at Akron). I really like the job, but there are no full-time positions to try for and the drive up there stinks (especially with rising gas prices). In someways it feels like I am stuck permanently as the great part-time employee that people do not want to get rid of because I work hard and I am paid cheap but I hope that my hard work will pay off at some point. I know P would appreciate some help with the bills, we are very tight now and a full time job would allow some of that stress to leave him. He was amazing to support me through my undergrad, I just want that undergrad to pay off at some point, for him more than me.

Training has been going well, I feel like I my body is getting back to healthy after the long recovery from the torn meniscus. We are swimming, biking, running, hiking, paddling, etc to better health. At times I feel the irony of life that I enjoy too many pursuits so that I will never be good at just one thing. I cannot sacrifice one thing that I do for another, and that has been my choice. I would be sad to give up just one of them, in fact I find myself taking on even more sports (how many can you do before it becomes too much...we will see).

As for races I have had a season of disappointments. I find that maybe one out of seven turns out OK. Between GI issues, side cramps, and muscle tightness, I just have not been feeling like my old self. It has been frustrating, I am 27 years of age, is my body already deteriorating? I stretch and rest and try hard, why do I feel like my body is giving out on me? Plus the last week of heat almost killed me, I was struggling to breathe and my legs have felt tired. I am not sure what to do about all of that. Hopefully time will start to see some changes.

On a side note, I have decided after two marathon trainings that had to end in injury, that I am training for the Akron Marathon with my dad. For those of you who do not know, he has Leukemia (CLL) now for 3+ years. In that time he has run 5 marathons, 6 half-marathons, and numerous small races. He is not "fast" but he is steady and his mind is tough. I think God is telling me that my first marathon should be with him...maybe that is why my marathon training has never worked out, I needed to experience this with him first. So I will be running the Akron with my father because he is my inspiration. BTW, who runs their first marathon for time anyway? I want him there to pull me along in those last tough miles.

My life is fairly good, P and I had our four year wedding anniversary a couple weeks ago. I feel blessed to be with someone who loves me so much. He has always made me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world and that has not changed. I now get when people say that you fall more in love with the one you are with. I told him the other day that I love him more than the day that we married, I think that is because in every rough patch we have made it through, we have become even closer because our understanding of each other has only grown. I am thankful that he is in my life.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Over a week since I have had to "school it". Funny how we end up where we are in life. Here I am not sure what/where the next chapter in my life is headed. A little relieved and at the same time a little uncertain. I am sure this is the feeling you get when you are truly at the crossroads. On one side is the past- the things that have shaped you as a person, the other side focuses on the future- the things that you hope and reach for. Part of me wants to stay in the comfort zone that I have clung dearly onto, the other wants to heave herself forward.

I am that weak to announce things like that in your life? I am fearful that the belief system that I have always thought to be true is just a facade; similar to other things in my life. I know and have told others that the unknown-those things that really torture who you are in life, are also the most rewarding, but I am unsure that I want to deal with that right now. Haven't I earned my keep for now? Can't things just go easy and as planned sometimes? I want the money issue to be gone and I want security, knowing that my brain, my plans, my dreams will all be utilized and not just thrown out like scraps of nothing.

I allow my emotions to be too wrapped up in thoughts like these. Sometimes I wish I was less complicated-black and white, but I am every shade of color that there is and today I feel quite like "burnt sepia" or possibly "coal black". Oh it is time to stop when analogies of life mirror crayola colors.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I'm Done...YAY!

I graduated this weekend and what a wonderful feeling. So to celebrate:

May 10th

Emerald Necklace 5K Trail run
Mickey Ryzmek put on an amazing event with NCSports. This was the inaugural year for this trail run and it was a very good time. Not an easy course, a little rocky and hilly, but I was happy with my finish of 32:00 min. What a beautiful day and I would recommend this race for people looking for a difficult trail run. I got this in before the actual commencement ceremony.

Dad and I before the run, we dressed alike by accident

Perseverance, Me and Dad after the race

Headed down to the university at 1:00 pm for the ceremony. I was lucky to have my 92 year old grandmother, my grandfather, my supporting husband, my mom and my dad there to support me. It was not a very long ceremony and I was glad to have that moment of notice for the work that I have put into my degree. Now the feelings of what now? are taking over...

Before Graduation shot at the house....
Walking across the stage...
Grams, Me, and Mom, after shot.

Feeling good, relaxed even.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Training March 29th-April 4th
  • Saturday March 29th: off
  • Sunday March 30th: ran 3mi, swam 6oo y (did not feel good)
  • Monday March 31st: ran 3 mi
  • Tuesday April 1st: 2000 y swim, 1 hour core strength class
  • Wednesday April 2nd: climbed 1 hr
  • Thursday April 3rd: off (not feeling well)
  • Friday April 4th: off (not feeling well)
Training March 22nd-28th
  • Saturday March 22nd: ran 3 mi
  • Sunday March 23rd: swam 2300 y stationary biked 45 min
  • Monday March 24th: ran 3 mi
  • Tuesday March 25: 1700 m swim (50 m lengths)
  • Wednesday March 26th: ran 3 mi climbed 30 min
  • Thursday March 27th: biked 45 min
  • Friday March 28th: off

Friday, March 28, 2008


Got the official letter today....I AM GRADUATING!!!

MAY 10th 2008

Julia Capes Neal
MAJOR: Bachelors of Education-Exercise Physiology
MINOR: Biology
CONCENTRATION: Sport Management

Now what????

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Training March 15th-21st
  • Saturday 15th: 3 mi run and 1450 y swim
  • Sunday 16th: 1500 y swim and 30 min stationary bike
  • Monday 17th: 3 mi run
  • Tuesday 18th: 40 min stationary bike
  • Wednesday 19th: 3 mi run
  • Thursday 20th: 1700 y swim
  • Friday 21st: off

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My training is picking up, so I have decided to log my training miles again

Training (March 8th-14th)
  • Saturday March 8th: 2 hour snowshoe in the blizzard of '08
  • Sunday March 9th: Shamrock 5K and 1 hour snowshoe
  • Monday March 10th: climbed 1 hr
  • Tuesday March 11th: ran 3.5 mi, swam 900 y
  • Wednesday March 12th: ran 3 mi
  • Thursday March 13th: stationary bike 45 min
  • Friday March 14th: off

Monday, March 10, 2008

Winter 08 in Review

Well since I find myself taken so much lately by two jobs and the final semester, I thought I would show what I have done the past few months with pictures.

New Year's Eve
Sarah (Bill's Fiance), Paul, Me, and Bill (P's Brother)

The New Kittens Clive and Cassidy

Cassidy getting a ride from P

C& C Music Factory and Mingus

The Group I Lead to Backpack in Oil Creek State Park

Eating Lunch at Oil Creek SP
Hiking Out From Oil Creek

Snowshoeing On My Street During The Blizzard of 08

Horsing Around In The Snow

Moms Came Out to Cheer Me On at the Shamrock 5K

Overdressed at the 5KShowing How Big The Piles of Snow Are At the 5K

Snowshoeing Sunday after the Blizzard

Snowshoeing at the Golf Course

Letting the Mingus and the Neighbor Dog Play in the Snow

So that was January-February-Beginning of March. Hope the pictures were nice.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Winter Hike

Going backpacking for the weekend in the snow.


Friday, February 8, 2008

Life and Death

As I have grown up, I became more aware of death. Not the fear of it, per say, no...more understanding it. I have long realized that life is fickle and at any moment we can be swept away to the infinite abyss that is "death". What death means to me is still yet to be decided, agnostic at best, but I do realize that with everyday, I find myself less and less afraid of the significant "D" word.

Why the sudden need to talk about something so dire?

Well for the first time in my life, I witnessed a fit, healthy 20 year old have a heart attack. I have witnessed first-hand what it looks like to give chest compressions and use an AED; and what it looks like to watch someone almost die and come back to life (albeit barely). I do not think it dawned on me until a few days later how once again I am greatly changed by an important, yet small part of life that has had an amazing impact on how I view the world.

I was surprised that I was not more disturbed by the whole occurrence. I felt as I should have been shaken to the core, that I should have shed some tears (as many others did), but I was comfortable, relaxed, on-the-ball during the whole conundrum. I realized a few days later, that the experience did change me but not as some, I felt a surge of who I am. Within this young man's suffering was an emergence of life in me.

Do not get me wrong, it was a horrible scene and very intense, but as I reflect back to the incident, it made me realize that I am built to be a calm in these times. I understand that to "die" or to experience "dying" will be a part of all of our lives---and that does not scare me. I am not sure that those feelings are either good nor bad, but for me it gave me another sense of purpose. That in a moment of urgency or even emergency, that I will be calm and level headed enough to make tough, smart decisions...and that at times all of your efforts will be in vain and other times will end with an amazing miracle, but to feel that is life.

I am no longer afraid of the struggles and complications of life. Sure I will get stressed and even cry on occasions, but in the big scheme of things I thank my lucky stars that life is as challenging as it is. So that I know that I am becoming the best that I can be, and that when I die, I feel I have learned and grown, and that all things are life lessons.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Oh Yeah...

I was on TV Monday (Martin Luther King Day)

I was on Robin Swoboda....climbing for her University of Akron Day.

I am closer to the end of the clip, once you get through the first talking part I am the one with the tan chords, teal chalk bag, and the white helmet....YAY!!!


And so begins the long arduous task of beginning to work out continuously for the New Year. After injuries and frustrations...too much food and 5 lbs of weight gain (ouch). I am back on track for working out.

This year is a bit different then the last. First of all, I quit soccer.

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to the sport I love, after injuries were adding up and I was constantly "laid" up with one kink or another (After one bad kick would leave a charley horse for days, one bad trip would make the knee swell to the size of a tennis ball). I am getting older and perhaps a bit wiser about my body and that means to actually work out at a constant and steady rate---then soccer had to be put to bed. A decision that was not easy but that my body will thank me more ways then one.

So now for the past two weeks I have put in 4 days a week of running and two days a week of climbing. Swimming and stationary biking will be put into the fold next week.
I already feel better. The run I had this morning in 10 degree weather was the best I have had in months. I felt energetic, realistic, quiet, and happy. Nothing hurt and I felt great. I wore no watch, and I just enjoyed it. I remember this feeling, now just the slow build up of health until I peak once again.

I will now leave you with some more pictures from Christmas...these of Paul and I playing in the water...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Phew, my last semester has begun with a fury. Being gone over Christmas break did not allow me to get as many things done as I had hoped but I had a blast in Florida over Christmas.

PICS from Florida
Paul and I- Self Pic Pensacola Beach, FL Christmas Day

Paul walking P'cola, FL
Family on the porch at Condo

Over the break I also had the opportunity to finish an eight day wilderness first responder course. So now I am a WFR (as they call it) and ready for any backcountry emergencies thrown my way. Which is very useful when I lead trips that have any type of risk.What can a WFR do? Well it is the ability to act in an emergency when you are too far from local EMS. Example, if someone happened to fracture their femur on a gnarly mountain bike ride- I am legally allowed to pull traction in line on that bone until it pops back with circulation restored and splint it up or if someone were to fall from a cliff, I have the tools to stabilize their head and build a backboard to carry them out in case of a spine injury. It was a very enjoyable class and another tool in my arsenal for job searching.

As for my last semester....I am BURNED out. Not with my teachers (who quite contrary have been nothing but amazing) but with the run around that University of Akron gives you when you need to get things done. For instance, the University College lost my folder...yep, the one with all of my paperwork since I have been there, and they lost my intercollegiate transfer form. What are these things to all of you? Probably not much, it just meant another 45 min wait to get the transfer form filled in again and a smartass university college advisor who tried to make a joke about the missing folder (sorry buddy my life for the last 6 years is not much of a joke to me).

Then he tried to sit me down and open up with a description of what my goals are...reality check, my goals are to graduate and hopefully make enough money so that my hubby and I aren't broke and poor and constantly trying to make ends meet. Plus the fact that I am irritated that you have an empty file of me in front of you. Not the time to be asking me my dreams.

I do have dreams and aspirations but they may not happen. That is life. I am going to school to make a better life for myself and that does not always mean that the perfect job will somehow fall into my lap. I watch my friends graduate and not get jobs; they become overly qualified bartenders and servers and whatever jobs they can get folks. That is the reality we have now and everyone seems to be skirting around what is truly happening to students once they graduate. All I can do is work hard, make connections, and hope. Hope that things will turn out in my favor

Man, I sound cynical. Maybe I am a bit, but things are not all bad. My College of Education adviser has been nothing but amazing, my bosses at the Rec Center have put their necks on the line for me (and in turn I have gained much), my classes at the UAkron have been great (with the exception of a few), and I am four months from graduating...not bad.