Friday, September 29, 2006

Mother, Wife, Survivor

As our weekends approach and the work weeks -- for most of us -- grind to a gumpy halt, please take a few moments to read this post by JL. He has taken the time to put his family's experience with breast cancer, tragic disappointment, and inspiring hope out there for us to share. And to honor their strength and perseverance, he has chosen to make his trip to IM Lake Placid next July about something bigger than just the finish line.

And you KNOW that gets me every time. Every. Single. Time.

So, take a second to read JL's story, and consider contributing towards his goals of honoring every day of his mother's triumph over cancer -- 4,673 of them.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Creative Energies...

I've taken a minor vaca from blogger land so I can work on my what-i-did-last-summer essay, or in other words, my Team Race Athlete manifesto. Surprise, surprise -- I'm not having a hard time finding the words I'm looking's trying to find the right words!

Anyway, I'm back on the blogging tip (so to speak) this weekend, when I can tell you all about my indoor running fiasco, my developing relationship with my alarm snooze button and my resistance to it "going to the next level," and reflections on gear or, more to the point, GearLust on a budget.

Be well, train safely, and would someone PLEASE call me tomorrow at 5:00 to make sure I'm not late for the gym!!!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tonight...I run...Run like the wind...

Tonight, this cranky 30-something with a mileage chip on her shoulder runs. And if I needed any reminding as to WHY I do this, I just need to take a look here. Because Athena Diaries is absolutely right about it all.

And, surprise, surprise. It has nothing to do with the numbers.

Enough is Enough

I feel compelled to write this down for a number of reasons. One – it has been bugging me a bunch. Two – (consequently) it has been bugging Mighty M a bunch. Three – I doubt I’m alone.

Last night I had big plans for a long, slow distance. I need one…desperately. With the Philly Marathon approaching in November, I need to be religious about these distances. Or at least vaguely religious about them.

But life intervened with long grocery lines and heavy traffic and missing plug adapters and missing running shorts and every LITTLE thing that would regularly be just annoying, but instantaneously converted into one BIG thing standing between me and my workout.


I stumbled through three frequently interrupted miles on the dreadmill and finally called it quits. Not because of pain. Not because of exhaustion. But because I had had it up to here and just had to pull the plug.

Three lousy miles.

And you DO hear the condescension in my typing! Three miles has become a happy quick workout on days when I’ve swum already or just want to get out but don’t need mileage. At one point very recently, it was a major physical effort for me – a major test of my progress. I appreciate that. I appreciate how far I have come and how nice it is to be physically able to simply put on some shoes and run three miles. I really do. But I have done that work. I have laid prostrate and breathless in front of the shin-splint infested mileage gods and begged for one more mile...just let me get through this without walking.

But it doesn’t feel like enough recently. I have been looking for more out of my training and last night that was mileage. I wanted that long run last night. I could taste it all day. It’s the only reason why I didn’t break down into tears when the six bottles of fizzy water that burst out of the one plastic bag the checkout girl thought would contain them spilled all over the floor. It’s the only reason why I rushed home and scurried around with plugs and outlets and pesky grounding adapters in order to use the dreadmill. It’s the only reason that I gave only a perfunctory listen to how Mighty M’s day went, rather than the full one it deserved.

What do we do when enough just doesn't feel like enough anymore??


The big day is here and we are all getting the chance to go to the prom with some serious bling. Serious bling. Not a limp corsage tied around your wrist or borrowed cuff links from Dad.

Serious. Bling.

And the world of tri-bloggers is all aflutter.

Check it out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

IKEA Hell (or) Creative Crosstraining

I love our home. The home of Mighty M and Me. Where we go to feel safe and secure and happy together. I’m only recently getting used to the idea of calling it our home, since I really only moved in recently and, er, I’m not on the mortgage. (Although we do share expenses – I am a modern woman after all!) But, if bulldoggish tenacity gets you anywhere, then Mighty M is going places. He can be very persistent. And persuasive.

So, I’ve come to think of our little home, on our little one way street, with our little flag out front as – well – Ours. As a result, that complete and total mess of boxes, random furniture, lampshades, golf clubs, free weights, and a solo picture of a cat getting a bath* were part my mess.

And, well, to be honest…that mess was all my mess.

So, this weekend, while in a state of coffee intoxication, I got the idea to “fix up” the basement. “You know, sweetie, to get it all nice and pretty so we can spend time down here over the winter.” To be fair, the effort wasn’t purely aesthetic – there was a fantastic treadmill buried under a fuzzy beanbag chair (affectionately called Snuffleleupagus), a whicker bar stool, and a couple crates of books. And with the sun coming up around noon and going down around one in the afternoon, I need a little home gym action. (Okay, a minor exaggeration, but really!)

Oh, and there was IKEA furniture, too. This was from my last apartment, in which I believe it really looked good (for IKEA furniture, that is). The goal was to use my old living room furniture for the basement and keep the existing set upstairs. My contribution to the basement, you see.

So, enter stage left, Expedit.

[Since Blogger is not cooperating with uploading pictures, you'll have to just imagine a very tall, very broad, very cool looking cube-thingie bookshelf. Or just click here.]

Expedit doesn’t live up to its name. Expedit became the bane of my existence this WHOLE weekend. All those cute, cubist-inspired shelves? The ones that give off the illusion of sophistication while not appearing unapproachable? A happy marriage of form and function? All that solid looking wood that actually, in some cases, is solid? And when I say solid, I mean the heaviest damned thing I’ve ever purchased at IKEA?

Yes, that one.

And about 5 hours on Saturday night**, and an hour on Sunday morning, resulted in a broken foot (poor M) and a big pile o' wood in the driveway.

Oh, yes, ladies and gentlemen, THIS little piggy did NOT go to the market. Bulk trash is tomorrow and Expedit (or Expe-&*it, as it started being called) is going to that heavenly landfill in the sky. Or Lancaster. I can’t remember which.

Thankfully, it has lovely cousins (the entertainment center and craft table) who went together without one single problem and are now happily sitting in my newly cleaned out basement. [See how quickly that happened…the switch from ‘ours’ to ‘my’? Tired ladies can be fickle ladies…] Okay, it’s not perfect yet. But, good grief is it better than it was before! Soon we’ll be pulling all of this out into the front drive to lay big ceramic tiles down*** that survive the occasional flooding and look purdy. But for now, I’m pleased with the space and can’t wait to use the treadmill while watching a little netflix documentary. Check out Flickr (----->) for a pic.

Now, if only someone could tell me where my weekend went??? Because I was planning on running this weekend…and I actually feel like I put my body through a workout…but, oddly, my sneakers never left the building.


Tonight, a LSD on the dreadmill. In my…(cough)…our spankin’ new basement.

* Perhaps there were – um – valid reasons why I was single so long???

** Oh, yes, I am that lame.

*** And when I say “we,” I actually mean Mighty M.

Friday, September 22, 2006

An Open Letter of Thanks

Often, the most honest acknowledgment of thanks is to feel humbled, to feel both diminished and empowered by the act of another. Humbled by the gestures of a larger community. Humbled by ones own inclusion in a plan or a goal. Humbled by feeling as though you are important for one moment or a special reason. Humbled by connecting with strangers for the mere reason to feel human.

And today I feel humbled. Very humbled.

Weeks ago, inspired by the efforts of Tri-Geek Kahuna, Iron Wil, and the whole Alliance, to establish raceAthlete, I shot off a note to TGK and Wil telling them how I had come to be a triathlete and what that meant for me. I never intended the “note” to become the short story that it did (and if you know me, I tend to be…er…wordy?), but the words spilled out and they were patient enough to read them. And the words were personal, and very true.

You see, triathlon came to me following a dark time in my life, when I felt that I lacked what I so desperately wanted to regain – my integrity. Following through on promises, making the most out of every moment, showing up when needed, being there for those who relied on me. And slowly, though months of plodding through (very) early morning workouts and trying out charity 5K races, I began to redefine my own expectations and regain the fabric of a life well lived. Was the timing a coincidence? I doubt it. In fact, I doubt greatly that I could be this person without all of the discipline and planning that triathlon demands.

And Kahuna, forever seeing possibility in places you wouldn’t expect it, suggested he post my story for others to read. And I agreed. Mainly because I no longer had anything to hide. And I was no longer in hiding from life.

And now I am humbled by your generosity. By your willingness to put a bit of your self forward to help me get to the IMmoo line next year. To trust that the collective effort is worth your part. By your willingness to listen to my story, and maybe take pieces of it back to your own life or possibly to share with a friend or loved one going through the same transition.

I am looking at the next year of my life as both a journey to an Ironman -- which will carry with it the inherent training nightmares and emotional revelations -- and as an opportunity to give back. Triathlon has provided me with an extremely valuable tool – finding ability in unexpected places. I want to help others find that ability, too.

So, I am pleased to report that IM Able is now in full motion! School’s in session and it’s time to get it on! Following a wonderful conversation with the Canine Partners for Life staff yesterday, they are thrilled to be identified as the recipient of the IM Able fundraising efforts for this coming year. While the technical side of it is being worked out, please visit their site here and take a moment to see what they do. Because these people get up every morning and inspire others and make the impossible possible for hundreds of people.

For all of those who put themselves out there to help me get to IMmoo – please accept my sincerest thanks. I will do my best with this endeavor. I will train hard, I will engage others, I will share, and I will give back. I will make sure that others know that they, too, are…


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Training Logs

Training logs are like bike seats...a good one is hard to find and a bad one can ruin your day.

I found a great site (thanks due north!) that made it through the Three Bears wasn't too complicated, tracks just enough information for me, and feels juuuuust right. In case you haven't heard of Buckeye Outdoors, take a second to check them out. I particularly love the calendar view, the personalized routes, and the week totals. Plus, I'm now accountable to the world in my sidebar summary. Nothing like public humiliation as a motivator to get up early...


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You've got Ironmail!

Um, can I just mention how cool it is to get *this* in your inbox?!

Very, very cool.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

My Dad deserves a mug...

…like the ones we used to give our Dads on Fathers Day that say “World’s #1 Dad” or “Best Dad Ever.” Today my Dad totally deserves a mug. He sent these be-a-u-tiful flowers to me at the office. Work has been keeping me busy with a board meeting and a big deadline, and tomorrow I have to say goodbye to my longtime cat companion, Cleo. So Dad thought I needed a pick me up.

And, you know what, I did. Thanks Dad.

(ps -- there's the guy in the picture! oh, and ignore my baaaad perm...)

The Whisper

This past Saturday morning, I was honored to walk in the Philadelphia Walk for the Whisper. I walked in memory of a beautiful and kind woman who lost her battle with ovarian cancer only a few months ago. Mrs. H (MedicalMavin’s mother) was exceptionally kind, always warm and open, and a wonderfully supportive mother. After losing my own Mom to cancer almost 10 years ago, I had often found myself in the intervening time looking up to Mrs. H as a role model and touch stone for so many of those personal milestones for which we often rely on mothers. She would listen intently about a new job or how school was going and tell me if I needed a good eyebrow wax. She would offer sage advice and find the silver lining in everything. She was always there, gracefully and graciously supporting and encouraging those around her every step of the way. So see her leave this world so early, and to see the pain it caused for those left behind in the wake of that empty space, is wrenching.

The morning itself seemed to articulate all that the group walking felt. It was very gray and spitting rain, with low and ominous clouds. Although Might M and I arrived on time, it was as if the “walk” left early. Was this the early warm-up described in the materials? But why are so many walking…wait, on the *route*? Ugh. It appeared that either the crowd got caught up in the excitement and took off early, or the RD wanted to avoid threatening rain. The combination of disappointments whisked away those feelings of empowerment, and left us with the bare reminder of who was not there this year, who was no longer counted among the survivors.

But, rather than disband and count our losses (literally), we chose to spend a little time together and laugh a little and feel just that much more a part of something larger than ourselves. We journeyed on the walk – albeit a little thinner this year – and shared. We perused the educational materials and purchased blue ribbons. Later in the morning, we decided to spend some time feeling just a little normalcy and have some lunch together and wander around Manayunk. *

Now, Manayunk (pronounced man-E-yunk, for all you non-Philly-types out there) is an area of Philly that we have all frequented for the lifetime we’ve been locals and we’ve been there a million time for dinner, live music, and (years ago) drinks. But for the number of times we walked those streets or drove in circles looking for parking, NONE of us saw the obvious. This beautiful mural in the heart of the area, noteably right in front of a parking lot. This very, VERY large and beautiful mural.

Very observant, we are.

I know.

Turns out, though, that sometimes life just hangs out and waits for you to slow down and pay attention. Mighty M caught sight of the heading first – being a graphic designer, he’s like a moth to a flame when it comes to colorful things. Turns out that this sign has been quietly tapping on our shoulders the whole time. It just took a day like Saturday – full of remembrance and remorse – to remind us that the need for vigilance is always there. And we need to weave it into our lives and our patterns to make the most out of our time and our loved ones. To be vigilant is our own responsibility. No one will remind us to look up.

So, Mrs. H, you are missed very much. I promise to be vigilant. I promise to continue to laugh. I promise to be by your daughter’s side on days like Saturday. And I promise to keep my regular brow appointments, too.

You are dearly missed.

* A funny story to follow about droolFest ’06 at Cadence Cycling on Main Street. This is our *only* tri retailer in the whole Philly area and it glows on the horizon like Mecca or (in my world) Dairy Queen. It was my first visit. I love shopping in general. I love gear. You do the math.

Friday, September 15, 2006

PB & Yeah!

Well, I managed to stay both on the sidewalk and upright this time, for which my knees are very thankful.

But I did decide after work that I was going to replace the shoes that I've been using for, er, about a year now. Who knows if they've been contributing to the IT issues, but since I'm a gal who needs stability, they may not be up to the job any more. Now, they are not in FULL retirement, but let's just say they're definitely checking out time shares in the Outer Banks.

I was a little nervous about taking these new pretty ladies out for the first time, but they felt great (GREAT!) -- really comfortable, I'm striking just right, and for once my arch feels supported. Of course, they look entirely too *new*, so I'm going to have to do something about haaas been raining out here for a few days...trail run anyone??

Anyway, the run felt FABULOUS and turned out to be a personal best for me! Okay, only by about, oh, 2 minutes...but *still*! Normally my 5K is 32 minutes...each and every time I do one, I'm right around there...never below. Sometimes I feel haunted by my 10 minute miles...they seem so slow next to my fancy tri-friends who are pulling 7 minute averages in Olympic distances. But, of course, we both pass the same finish line. I just do it a little later than (many) others.

But, today's run came in at a strong (and sweaty) finish of 29:43. Even Mighty M thought it was quicker than usual when I stumbled in the front door! (Or maybe it was my red face and sweating all over the foyer.)

Considering I've been on the recovery list for a little while, that's a darn good time in my book.

Now it's off to bed and an important charity walk in the morning with my favorite MedicalMaven. A 5k walk in memory and honor of MedicalMaven's mother who passed away earlier this year from ovarian cancer. She has been greatly missed and fondly remembered.

I will certainly report on the events of the day...but for now it's time for fizzy water, Court TV latenight, and the big bad bed.

Sweet dreams!!

Nine and ½ Weeks

Calendars can be so helpful.

Especially when you look at them.

I was reminded of mine today when my longtime friend and newfound tribuddy, D, sent out a note about the Philly Marathon. You know, the one that is a mere 9-1/2 weeks away! With IMmoo plans, setting up this site, and a monster work schedule this week, I had completely forgotten.

So, it’s time to get my groove back. It’s time to convert these 10 milers out to the boonies (more on that later) and 10Ks around D’Town (Holla!) to something a lot more meaningful.

Now, don’t worry…I’m not just jumpin’ on into a marathon program with only a few weeks to go. (None of us has eeeeevver done that! Noooooo….) I had worked myself up to some very comfortable mileage as of a couple of weeks ago, including a strong finish at the Half-Wit Half Marathon – a *brutal* race that is Ron Horn’s ( idea of a “good time” out in the woods of Reading, PA, if there could ever be such a thing.

[And as a total aside, if you’re local – and I know some of you are from my glorious statcounter that allows me to stalk…er…track those who come here – and you are looking for fun, different and challenging trail runs, check out Pretzel City. They throw a great race, Ron has a wickedly sharp sense of humor, and even the most brutal trails leave you wanting to come back next year. Good stuff all around.]

Aaaanyway. Back to Philly. Now, initially I was training to do an ultra this fall, but I had, well, a fall of my own. Actually, it probably was better termed a graceless and somewhat gnarly connection with the asphalt and dirt.

Let me set the scene for ya. I live in Downingtown, PA. A relatively small town that has a cute little residential area, some neighborhood trails, and a “main” road that leads in and out of town and proudly housing the requisite Home Depot, Lowes, Weggies, etc. Often I encounter a bit of a conundrum when planning where to go for a run at night. I can stick in town and do the 5K loop again…and again…and again until I want to puke from the sheer boredom of it. Backwards doesn’t help. Backwards worked once, and then it was just as boring. The other option is to venture out on my own looking for new routes.

(Keep in mind, too, that I just moved to D’Town to live with Mighty M – my significant other/boyfriend/patient listener of all things tri. I’ve known the roads in town my whole life, but never really known them as a runner/cyclist…more, let’s say, as a means to get to the grocery store…for ice cream…)

So, in a somewhat desperate attempt to NOT have to do the loop that night, I decided to run on the road to Exton. Um, yeah, the road with lots of traffic…um, and stores…and construction…and a minimal shoulder, and did I mention the on and off ramps with the Rt. 30 bypass? Sigh. As Mighty M says, I must have had stupid for lunch.

But the run felt good and strong – really strong. My usual left IT band issues were barely noticeable and I was gobbling up hills without a thought. It just felt right – and you know exactly what I mean. So I’m heading back into town and reach that point that every runner reaches. The literal fork in the road. To go longer or go home.

The smart move – play scout for a moment and notice that the sun is rapidly setting RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. Maybe notice that the twilight is clearly going to be shorter than usual with all that cloud cover. Oh, and maybe make a mental note that it’s a holiday weekend and there aren’t many people around.

Or, keep going.

Clearly, you know my choice. So, left on Quary, right on Boot and we’re off…gotta break 10 miles tonight…must take advantage of feeling good…

But wait, there’s all those grants to flip around in my mind, too. I need to make my lunch for tomorrow at work…maybe a spinach salad? No – had that on Friday. But putting the shredded carrots in there was excellent…definitely repeat that. Speaking of repeat – I’m starting to be a big fan of running to SexyBack…Justin is so hot…(thank goodness nobody can hear me think this!)…this stupid new Nike armband…makes it so tough to


Left knee, right knee, left palm, face. In a ditch, in the dark, on the side of a road, on a national holiday, with no cell phone.

I must have had stupid for lunch.

I managed to get myself out of oncoming traffic, but the pain was awful and all I wanted to do was puke. (As I’m doubled over in pain, I actually had a fleeting thought about whether or not puking would mess up my nutrition for the run. Weird. O.) After a little regrouping and a lot of not-so-concerned citizens passing me in cars, I managed to walk the 2 miles home from some TLC from Mighty M. Oh, and I cried. I’m not ashamed to say I bawled the whole way down Boot Road. My. Little. Eyes. Out.

Well…com’mon…its was dark and scary out there.

Short story long, I was out of commission for a couple of weeks after that. First, my typical IT issues were the problem, and then it converted to stiffness at the impact of the fall (below the kneecap). But I think we’ve had a good little recovery time, me knee and I, and I’m jonezing (and I mean JONEZING!!) for a good, long run.

Tonight, that’s the agenda. But this time, I think I’m going to avoid Boot Road.

Oh, and don’t worry, I had spinach salad for lunch today.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

For a long, long time

Greetings and Salutations!

Welcome to the beginning, or at least this particular beginning, of my road. You may have wandered over here from one of those many tri-blogs that fill our lunch and coffee breaks (hi guys!), or maybe you saw the website on a tee-shirt. Perhaps you’re a complete stranger or maybe a future companion toeing the IM line next year. A family member or colleague, neighbor or lifelong friend. Here’s to first posts! Horrah!

You see, I’m about to depart.

Yeah, of course I’m actually staying right here in the big D’Town, and I’m still commuting down 322 and savagely drinking my Wawa coffee along the way. But something is about to not-so-subtly change.

This week I accepted a personal challenge – to train for and compete in an Ironman in 2007 and Wisconsin is my favorite flavor, thank you! A race, a distance, and a process that has been a slowburning fire in my belly for months now. Nagging, persistent, and doggedly persuasive. And I finally was at a loss for good excuses, so here we are.

For those who know me tangentally from other blogs, you have had a glimpse at my story. For now, suffice it to say that Ironman comes at a beginning point in my personal and emotional life – the beginning of enjoying hard earned strength, the beginning of reliability and integrity, the beginning of commitment and reward. But it’s also part of the continuum of a larger picture – of a flawed adult with stubborn good intentions, much she feels she needs to repair and honor, and a honest compulsion to make even the smallest difference in another's life.

So, quit blathering and get to the point already!

What am I doing? Perhaps that’s the easiest question to answer. I’m beginning a yearlong process of training my physical body to go great distances and my spirit to redefine its limitations. I’m using my journey and this blog to hopefully inspire others, and ask them, “What will it take to step out of your comfort zone? What will it take for you to redefine what makes you possible? What are you willing to miss out on by skipping the chance?” I hope that my process, this journey, can help others fill in the blank of "I am ___." Triathlon gave me the tools to fill that blank in for myself. Perhaps it will for others.

How am I going to do this? That answer is slowly getting clearer. I’m laying all my goals out and finding the most realistic way to reach them without losing touch with the point. I am connected every day with people who make the extraordinary possible. I have good teachers. I am listening to them.

But, the most interesting question – I think – is *why* am I doing this. Why do I choose this challenge? Why now? What do I need from it. How do I expect to be rewarded and disappointed? Why at all?

These answers, I do not know yet. But I’m sure that they will be worked out on these pages at some point this year, in some fashion, and likely with some help.

So, I've taken the plunge and, even though I have no idea idea where this will all lead, I am completely invested in the journey. Whatever this next year – this Ironman Year – has to dish out, I’m there. Count me in. Come and get me – I’m waiting.

I've been waiting for this for a long, long time.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Posts and Templates and Pics...Oh My!

Bear with me as I attempt a jogging start to this blog, and a crash course in how to do all of those lovely things like uploading pictures and figuring out how to put links in the margin. Talk about a learning curve!

Many more coherant posts to follow, my friends...many more...

Be well...



Monday, September 11, 2006