Friday, March 30, 2007


That's the name of my new product.


It's going to be all the rage. Wanna know why? Meet me in the locker room at the Y, let's say about 3 minutes after I emerge from a swim session.

Then you'll know why.

Goggles. Ruin. My. Face.

No matter how much sleep I get the night before and my strict regimen of certain soaps and face cream and TLC that I lavish on my face at night, a single AM swim will take that effort, rip it out of its hiding space, and stomp on it with hooker boots until it screams for mercy.

I'm convinced there's an ongoing betting pool at the office on whether or not I went out and partied all night based on how miserable I come in looking each Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. I want to know the spread.

Just by example -- for those who haven't had the pleasure of catching a triathlete or swimmer after an hour in the pool -- this is kind of what you look like when you're done.

Let me point out some key things...

(my apologies to the monkey)

(1) the make-up resistant red blotchy skin that (at least for me) has no evolutionary or practical value. None.

(2) puffy eyes with dark, dark circles. Like "Big Ben...Parliament" circles that have the same staying power as Clark did.

(3) the landing strip left embedded across my forehead where my cap went (which, btw, would be an excellent place to place a brand because it's NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO GET RIDE OF FOR AT LEAST THREE HOURS -- nike should seriously look into about passive advertising...).

(4) and, of course, the raccoon eyes that frame the luggage I'm carrying around with me in case I up and decide to jet off to Paris...with my dripping wet bathing suit and gym bag in tow.

(And let's just not mention that hair that resembles Nick Nolte's finest hour. Just don't go there.)

So, there you go. Attention consumers -- there's a hole in the market and I'm going to fill it. With something that gets rid of swim face. I have a think tank working on design and packaging, but I think it'll look something like this...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Next time you're thinking about stopping early or never showing up, remind yourself of every time you were wrong.

Every time you were wrong about what you could do.

Every time you were wrong about how far you could go or how long you would last.

Every time you convinced yourself that you were never cut out for that lifestyle, you were too disorganized or unmotivated or unreliable.

Think about every time you sold yourself short and left the party early because you were too shy or too nervous or too worried to stay.

Remind yourself about every time you thought you were too old or fat or out of shape to get off the couch.

And think about how very, very wrong you were. About every single distrusting moment.

Because no matter what has happened in the past, if you trust this moment -- this one moment -- and the decision you make now -- right now -- then you have conquered your own past.

You have wiped away each of those moments and replaced them with something entirely more powerful.

You have redefined your own limitations.

You have redefined your self.

Livin' la Vida Loco

It's been crazy 'round here, peeps!!

Certainly not in a bad way, but in a full way. Years ago the thought of even attempting to do this much in just one day would have sent me seeking cover pronto. But now I'm completely jazzed about my life. Every busy, scheduled, running from here to there, deadline filled moment of it.

Do you ever have one of those moments? Where the words "I love my life" just slip out of your mouth quietly, when nobody is around to hear you but the trees? Last night was my first outdoor run this year and it was beautiful and warm and sunny and wonderful. People were sitting on their stoops and everyone waved and I saw fellow runners who I hadn't seen since, well, it was last nice to run outside. I just love that. Love. That.

Anyway, things have been rather full for me. Mighty M and I are finishing up the tail end of a protracted (read: painfully long) kitchen/dining room renovation project that has thrown our schedules into a bit of a tail spin. (Hence, the short training week last week!) But it's two pieces of trim and some touch-up paint away from completion and I'll share the glamour shots (before and after) when it is. Now that we're this far and M is enjoying some work time in sunny Florida, I'm poised for a nice and strong 11 hour week of training. Bring. It. On.

But the weather is warming and the weekend is approaching, so not a single complaint from THIS lady! Canine Partners for Life -- the organization I am raising money for through IM Able -- is having a puppy carnival this weekend and we get to spend it with M's little nieces and family. There's a puppy kissing booth and games and face painting for little Madison and hopefully lots of sinful food for the adults. I can smell the funnel cake now.

Right afterwards, Mighty M and I are shooting down to Virginia for Lil' Sis's move into her brand new home! I'm so proud of her -- she bought her first home solo at the age of 28! She's going through settlement on Friday, the move on Saturday, and (gasp!) doing the Cherry Blossom 10 miler on Sunday!!! Okay...if anything falls off the schedule, it'll be the run. But, maybe I can sneak into it in her place??? I do need a 1:30 run for the weekend... .

And right after that we're scurrying up 95N to get to Nana's 92nd birthday celebration in Wilmington. If all the stars align and beltway traffic parts, we'll be able to join M's family for a nice celebratory dinner.

And then, we go home and fall over with exhaustion.

But, ch'a know what? I love our lives. Wouldn't trade it for the world!

[by the way...finally broke the 2:00 line yesterday in the pool for my 100s! Did a set of 8 x 100s that dipped and stayed under 2 minutes each, followed by a strong showing of 50s afterwards. I LOVE PROGRESS! The pool and I are such good friends now... .]

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Here fishy, fishy, fishy...

When I first hopped into the pool at the Y, it was with great apprehension.


I remember the cold mornings of my childhood when my sister and I would be hauled down to Rosslyn Swim Club for swim practice and it's not a good memory. The air was always foggy coming off the small local pool and each kid was sleepy eyed and dragging. But for most of my peers, all they needed was the first dunk into the ice cold waters to come alive and turn into fishys. Back and forth, back and forth -- no need to count, it was just a constant refrain of flip turns and whistle blows.

I would steal glances at the older swimmers -- the girls sleek and muscular and completely at ease with their movements. The boys were strong and commanding, and buckled impressively like Olympians when diving in for the umteenth 400 for the day.

And as accomplished as I was as a ballerina and no matter how confident I moved with my tomboy approach, the pool always brought me to my gawky, fumbling and gasping knees.

I simply wasn't a good swimmer.

I tried and tried and tried, but swim practices turned into summer morning activities to be dreaded. If it weren't for the swim meets -- that were full of laughing and card playing and cheering -- I surely would have begun an all out complaint assault to my patient parents about going.

So, with that as a background, my first attempt at swimming at the Y last year was an anxious moment. But, that's the kicker of triathlon -- you must be able to swim. At least a little. So I would manage 20 minutes at a time, and usually 500 yard total per session, even at the end of my season.

I just never really worked on my swimming. I did the ladders and example workouts like I would read about in the magazines and I would follow some form of progression, but I really didn't work on my swimming. I just swam. And that was cool -- it got me safely through my sprint and oly distances last year without incident and I'm pleased for that. Because if anything would scare me away from the sport it would be the swim.

And I remember even more clearly the sickening pit in my stomach as I stood -- penned -- at my first triathlon waiting for our wave to be called. I looked like I was going to puke. I very well could have. I nearly panicked when I couldn't find Mighty M in the crowd. It was very, very nerve wracking for me. Kinda like morning swim practices.

Fast forward to yesterday. There was nothing spectacular on the schedule, just a long swim that is part of my plan for the week. But in a way it felt like a milestone. I felt so strong swimming the laps. I felt so confident in the way I was rolling my position and my catch and hand positions were so consistent. And I maintained really consistent pacing throughout the session.

Oh, and it was 2350 meters.

Two months ago I couldn't have swum that distance without some serious effort and likely some underwater cursing. And a month ago I could only swim a portion of it at a considerably slower pace. But as I push a tad bit further each time I go out for a swim or a run or a bike, I'm finding these small increments sneak up on me and surprise me occasionally with a milestone.

Last year's typical session was a loosey goosey 500 meters. This year's typical session (or at least so far) is well over 2000 meters in structured sets.

Last month's average 100 meters took me 2 minutes and 23 seconds. This month, I'm easily swimming the same in 2 minutes and 6 seconds.

Next month my sets will bump up by over 1000 meters again and I can only imagine the impact of that regular and steady increase.

Each time I get on the bike or in the pool or slip my Asics on, I'm going out for a reason. It's part of a larger picture of my training and I'm now really starting to realize the benefits to it.

Getting a regular training plan and really learning about each type of session and why you're asked to include it is an absolute must. Sticking to it pays huge dividends in the process. If I'm realizing these gains already, I can only imagine what is in store for me when I take my bike off the indoor trainer and hit some of my Lancaster county rides, or start to increase my mileage and add speed work into my run.

Sometimes, it takes us a long time to move beyond certain unpleasantness of childhood. Yesterday, I swam right past one, at a 2:06 clip. Right now, it's time for a run...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

For all the ladies in the House...

...okay, the ladies and all the well shaved and perfectly coiffed metro-sexual guys out there...I have a problem.

And it's vain, so vain.

And, yes, Carly, I do know this song is about me.

So, anyway. It's about my nails.

[Okay, I just officially lost about half my readership. If I weren't so desperate, I would spare y'all. But it's baadd.]

Ever since I started training seriously (a little over two months ago) my nail health has deteriorated as rapidly as Britney's sanity. And they, just like dear old Brit, need some rehab.

The issue? They're all dried out. They're soft. And, now they're splitting. Why do I bring this up on a TRIATHLON blog? Two reasons:

(1) This is my blog and I'll blog about dumb stuff until the cows come home and then blog about the cows if I want to; and,

(2) I think it's the training.

Here are the two options I can see (oh, apparently I'm all into lists

(1) I'm deficient in some amount of nutrients that normally support proper nail growth, or

(2) The chlorinated water is slowly killing me and it's started the process by attacking my nails.

Before I got into all this lovely Iron training and all, I was a very well put together individual. I had my nails done every other week and my clothes were generally appropriate and always fresh smelling. Since then, race entry fees have replaced my manicurist budget and, well, let's just say the race to keep up with the laundry is still being battled out.

Frankly, I'm starting to look a-mess. And that's no good.

So, am I just naturally falling apart at the seams, or have other people experienced this? Did you find a good solution? Will I be forced to cut off my hands to spite my training?

[ps -- for those who may ask, I get tons of green vegetables -- tons. and i take one basic multivitamin every evening. i moisturize with cetaphil cream for everything, but i do have a history of eczema. my hair and skin have been fine, but i do moisturize more than when i'm not training.]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Pushing Time

There is so little that compares to pushing your limits and trying something that seems completely outlandish, just to see how hard it will really be.

At least, that's how I'm looking at my ride last night.

I remember about two months ago I read a post by TriShannon (who has been really rocking her training -- you should definitely stop by and see her progress) about her 3 hour trainer ride. And it blew me away that she would have the fitness, gumption and patience to finish a THREE HOUR ride on a stationary bike. Seriously, that's what I call tedious. And, frankly, hard. (If you do it right, of course.)

But that was on the schedule for last night and all day I was both eagerly awaiting the challenge and equally dreading it. And it was hard, and surprising. There were points where I absolutely wanted off that damnable bike and straight into a hot shower. And there were other points where it felt like second nature, like muscle memory took over and I could let my mind wander to other thoughts.

And that last half hour was hard for me. To keep pushing hard, even being tired and feeling the backs of my knees aching. But I kept thinking about what my Friday nights used to look like and that pushed me further. And I thought about how proud my Mom would be to see me doing this instead, and that helped keep me going. And I thought about how incredibly lucky I am to have the choice -- the ability -- to actually do something like this. So, I kept on pedaling and watched the slooooow minutes tick away. Which, of course, they did.

And, you know, I made it through fine. Just fine. And I was happy about it in the end, regardless of all the anxiety and anticipation. And 42 miles were deposited into the Bank of Me.

In there is one of the most important lessons I've learned through triathlon -- the quality of perserverence. If you just push a little farther than you thought you could, you will go much farther than you thought you were able to. We spend so much of our time mired in doubt and thinking about the "what if's" and how to avoid and minimize effort. And so much of that time is really lost -- absolutely wasted. If we simply accept the fact that at one point we determined that this is valuable, so you just keep going. Trust that it will pay off in the end. Trust your own instincts about the world. And it will work out. The miles will drip away while you're watching scenery pass. The hours will pass by if you concentrate on the hum of your tires and beat of your heart. And in the end you will wonder why it seemed so very important to minimize that effort -- that was well within you reach -- or opt out of something that feels so good.

If you choose to live life in a way that only seeks to find level ground, to find the least resistance possible and the reduce effort and risk to the barest -- there is little point. I used to need that solice, as a salve. A sticky protectant from the abrasive world. But I was coccooned in my own avoidance. Allowing my life to tick away, second by second.

And each moment does tick away regardless. Each hour will pass without your consent or direction. It is what you choose to do in that time that matters. Pay attention to your choices. Pay attention to how you spend your time. Make it as valuable as you can.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


When I first considered the possibility of doing a triathlon, the first thing that voice inside my head was "That's impossible."

That's impossible.

I was overweight and unathletic. I had just dragged myself kicking and screaming from a horribly unhealthy and depressing life and lifestyle. And in the last six months I had left my job, moved out of my apartment, relocated to my hometown, took the bar exam, and quit smoking and drinking.

Um, don't cha' think I would be happy with just living the "possible" things in life? Make it easy on all of us?

Um...did we just meet???


I don't play that way anymore. Not me.

The moment my interior voice -- with all its swagger and smugness -- said that triathlon, for me, would be an impossibility, I was resolved. Right there. In that one moment I decided that living a life dictated by what I couldn't do was not the life I fought so hard to reach. I wanted to be defined by what I could do.

And I don't think this approach is all that novel. And it's not really unique or exceptional. But I am proud of it, because there are other choices out there. And that's how we are defined, right? Not by the options we are given, but rather the choices we make. Those are ours and ours alone. Circumstance, timing, genetics, outside events...there are so many things that act upon us, but truly have no impact on character. Our character is built choice by choice. Decision by decision.

So, with that in mind, and knowing how so many triathletes, runners, cyclists, walkers, swimmers, and all those seeking health and happiness, I've put this little set of items up in my Spreadshirt "market."

Because we've all heard it, that little voice. The naysayers with their impossibilities. We hear it all the time.

But I know what is possible.

Do you?

PS -- All the proceeds (after the spreadshirt costs) will go straight to the charity project, so shop with an open heart! Plus, let me know if you'd like this on different products (like a mug or sweatshirt) and I'll get that set up, too.

Monday, March 12, 2007

And on the flip side...

... there are nights like tonight.

When I'm on. Not just 'on,' but SO ON. Like BOLDER ON.

Nights when somehow my legs found a reserve of liquid gold in them and just chewed through 1-minute hill sets.

Nights when my new, glorious saddle let me maintain a smile long after I used to.

Nights when my toes didn't cramp in my shoes and my cadence didn't drop below 90, even in the hardest gear.

It's nights like this, Al, that remind me of how right you are.

There is always a flip side. And it's all worth it once you get there.

Circuit Breaker


Maybe not bawling…that really is loud and hysterical crying. Maybe more like quietly sobbing. Yes, sobbing.

That’s how I found myself on Friday night, in a darkened bedroom with poor Mighty M downstairs confused as to what in the world happened.

It wasn’t a meltdown of grand proportions. There was no screaming or crying or outlandish dribble about wants and needs coming out of my mouth. I just simply hit a point where my tolerance audibly clicked off. My emotional breaker switched over to off mode and I excused myself, turned on my heel and retreated to an empty and dark room. And sobbed.

Nothing memorable or important precipitated the switch, but that’s typically the case. You’re electric switch off? Usually it’s not because of the large taxes you’ve been placing on it – like the laundry machine and dishwasher – rather, it’s the smaller, unimportant pressure that juuuust pushes it past capacity. Nudges it a little too far.

This time it my Friday brick that pushed me over. A moderate hour on the bike with a quick switch to a moderate 20 minute run. Cake. No problem.

But it was disappointing. Again. I was feeling “off” – my legs were tired and it was all I could do to keep above 90. I’ve been messing around with switching my saddles, and everything feels wrong as a result. And I was tired. And a little irritable. And just plain disappointed and discouraged. Throw in a last minute change in the post-workout plans and a painting project and – snap! – emotional dissolution.

As breakdowns go, this was short and sweet, without drama or argument. I just had enough. Each day, the load has been increasing with training and managing a busy life in the fringes. Home improvements, financials, taxes, training, websites, correspondence, and scheduling – all rather boring until they all pile up day after day, without reprieve in sight. We all deal with demands, perhaps triathletes a little more than some. And, I would imagine, we all have our moments of weakness. This was mine.

So, chalk that one up, guys. Scratch a hash mark in the column for “breakdowns.” Ch-eeeeek!

Thankfully, Mighty M is the compassionate person he is. He swaddled me up in comfy clothing and soothing words. He explained that I didn't have to be everything to everyone and that sometimes it's okay to just do what is right, and let the rest shake itself out. He still loves me, no matter what. So, I soon pulled out of the funk and moved forward.

He's right, you know. It's not about how much and how far, it's about the how -- the crafting and balance and care you apply to the things you care about. No wonder love cannot be measured in miles or laps. We're forced to accept the love of a person or experience or thing as a process, rather than a unit. It is, of course, better that way.

I don't imagine that this will be the last time things start feeling overwhelming. And I may, just may, find myself taking an emotional reality check more and more frequently as Wisconsin approaches. But I'm prepared. It's okay to be perfectly human and it's certainly more fun once you come to that conclusion.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Escape the Sofa!

Or, in my case, the bed in the morning...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Pressing Matters

Some points of important business to throw in your general di-rec-tion this evening...

(1) You must check out the BIG news just posted on the charity website... Go! Go! Go! ... Plus, there's a new album page where I'll post all of my pasty morning pre-race pictures for you to see. I'm sure (sure) that this will make the stats simply skyrocket.

And, everyone should know that IM Able is now up to
donations raised for Canine Partners for Life!!


(B) I really (and I'm being serious now) appreciate your input on the Athena quandary. I've been putting some more thought into it and may have come to a decision. I'll keep you posted, but know I'm really interested reading your opinions. Franks!

(iii) My poor bottom will soon have a reprieve from all the abuse. See, I've been racking up these miles on my old, original saddle from 2000. I don't even think they made gel in 2000. I know they didn't put any in this saddle. So, I broke down and made my first investment in my season with a new Terry saddle. I'm thinking this will cut down on the crying after the first hour. Maybe we can now move the tissue box away from the bike.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

To Athena or Not to Athena...

I'm at a little impass, so I thought I would put this out there for y'all. I went to sign up for my Half IM in West Virginia yesterday and got stuck. I couldn't figure out whether to click "Age Group" or "Athena." You see, I kind of fit it both.

I definitely meet the weight requirements for the 150 plus category -- in fact, I meet them by about 15 pounds! I don't really look like I'm 165, even though I'm relatively short (5'4"). Pretty high weight, but oddly it's a whole lotta muscle. For some reason though, my genetics have blessed me with ridiculous muscle bulk and tone in my legs. I got this from my Dad, who looks like a power lifter from the hips down, but (in reality) is actually a musicologist. Don't worry -- I'm not bragging. I also have the propensity for a little belly from that very same side of the family.

Anyway, point being is that I've never really considered my weight as being part of my triathlon equation, since it never really represented itself as either a limiter or part of my goals. It just is. Wherever the scale number lands, I find it kind of interesting and then move on to other things. Not a luxury that many have, but I think my plate is full enough with other issues to keep me busy enough!

So, the question is, do I sign up for a triathlon in the Athena category? I really, really am stuck on this. The main reason why is that I can't really figure out why we have an athena category. I guess this designation matters if you're going to compete and are looking to place in your category or rank. And if that's the case, then perhaps it's an equalizer of effort or body mechanics. That makes sense, but I don't really enter to compete...I'm still entering to finish.

And then there's the question of identification. I don't feel like an Athena, but I couldn't even tell you what an Athena would feel like! I know when I toe the line I feel like a woman. I know when I'm there I feel like a 33 year old (actually, to be more precise, I identify most with my age at the end of the race!). I know that I identify as someone in recovery and a newbie to the sport. I know I identify myself as a lot of things, but none has ever been associated with my weight.

So, is it offensive to those racing Athena to put myself in that category based only on a number on a scale?

I realize this post is a wee bit meandering and I hope it doesn't put anyone off. I just genuinely started to consider this category and realized that I don't have a feel for its place. And, as I've often found, you guys DO have an idea of many more things than I do!

So, chime in if you have some time and let me know why you would, or maybe wouldn't, sign up as an Athena when the scale puts you squarely in that territory.


Monday, March 05, 2007

NERRC Winter Tune Up (10K) Race Report

Two weeks in the race season and two races down??!! Why, yes...I am a racing machine!

Actually, I'm not really robotic, I'm just a big fan of the Northeast Roadrunners Club races ever since I participated in their marathon tune-up last year, in preparation for the Philly Marathon (during which I learned a number of good lessons).

And NERRC hits me where I'm weak -- they're cheap (okay...maybe *I'm* cheap and they're inexpensive...but you get my meaning) and the race shirt is always a great, thick and long sleeved tee that I actually would wear. And, they're relatively local.

The race started at Lloyd Hall, the "rec" center for the Boathouse Row/Kelly Drive area. This, by the way, is the thing I miss the most about living in Philadelphia. When I last lived there, I was right in the Art Museum area, full of great restaurants and shops. And Boathouse Row was a mere 200 yards from my front door. It was great to go out there to train for a monster cycling event I did with a friend, called AIDSRide, from New York to Boston. Each time I go back there, I have really fond memories of that time. Ahhh.

Okay, snap back. There's not too much to report of interest for the race, other than everyone else running it were clearly professional runners. Or, they were being chased by some band of muggers I couldn't see. Or maybe they thought it was a sprint. Whatever the reason, dem's some FAST runners!

So the whole time, I'm convinced that I'm schuffling through molasses. At first, we're all in a nice little group and then -- Wham! -- it's just me and the power walkers left. A little, let me tell ya. But, I'm getting used to being the slowest runner out there, so I just ignored that the front runners were passing me at, like, mile 2 1/4. They had not only made it out to the 3.1 mile turn around, they had made it back. They must have been some really nasty looking muggers!

As it turns out, I actually had my best 10K time! My splits were all under 10:45/mile and I only had one mile that was over (a 12:45 mile) because I was forced to stop to stretch my IT band out. An average 10:28 mile left me with a finishing time of 1:05:(andsomechange). And this is with some pretty serious headwinds smacking us around on the way out, coming from across the expanse of the Schuylkill River.

Aside from the knee pain, it was fun! I made a point to test out a combo of nutrition, which worked just fine for me. I did use -- for the first time -- a recovery powder/drink right afterwards that I finally picked out and purchased after much hawing. This stuff deserves its own post. It's nasty. Really nasty. Yuck.

Now, I'm actually experiencing a bit more soreness than I thought I would, which may be a result of not spending the time in the freezing cold to stretch following the run. But, at least the soreness is evenly distributed and includes my hamstrings, which I feel like I've been ignoring recently. Welcome back, Hammies, it's good to feel your pain again.

Next Up: The SimplyStu Worldwide Triathlon!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Ugly Mudder 2007 Race Report

The alarm hadn’t gone off yet, but I was up.

Years ago, even my family wouldn’t believe me if I said I was up before any alarm. You? Not you! You’re the one who sleeps in just a little past appropriate. We joke it off. It’s something funny about you, a quirk. We love you for it, and love to make fun of you for it.

But, not anymore. Too much to do, too much life to live. Anyway, it was race day!!

Even a late night submission to the bed didn’t keep me asleep. It was time for my first “race” of the season. Why the air quote? Well, nobody really *races* the Ugly Mudder. Okay, maybe one or two crazy nuts who enjoy the masochism of hurling themselves up and down a mountain, snapping off saplings on the way and temping a glorious, yet brutal, knee injury at every trail turn. Okay, maybe they race the Mudder. I’m just glad to show up and thrilled to finish.

Some background. Once, there was a man named Ron Horn. He puts on races. He likes to torture innocent people, after they pay him for the pleasure. I’ve only done one of his races (a half Mary on these same trails), but had to call out sick the day after and didn’t walk upright and without pain that whole next week. I’ve thought many things about Ron on these runs. Some good, some bad. Some really, really bad.

So, even though I was well informed of the impending trauma, my eyes shot open early and I was off. The night before, I remembered to pack my bag will all the sundry details I would need – knee brace, advil, mittens, insulated hat, insulated ear warmer, Yaxtracks for my shoes, GU and Go Lean bar – all the things I could possibly think I would need on a trail run in the middle of winter.

I forgot to take a pic of the bag-o-supplies, but I did take one of my mug before I headed out, in all of its puffy morning glory. Don't be harsh, was early.

My directions were atrocious. I mean, seriously…how hard is it to get to Reading? Not. That. Hard. But, the directions had me in the backyards of at least 3 different Lancaster area families and at least one Amish farm. Lovely.

Regardless, this new and improved Able and her ‘phooey-to-the-alarm’ approach was early.



So, I found a parking space RIGHT next to the lodge, got all numbered up, and got ready for the first trial of the day. Not trail…trial. That would be the porta potty.

Don’t race? Don’t race in the winter? Let me illuminate the sit’cheation. These porta potties have been outside for a while, likely a long while. Although they are perfectly clean and ready for all of our, um, poopers, their premolded plastic glory has had more than ample time to … freeze. You know what’s not frozen? Yup, that would be the contents. Enough detail on this…let’s just say I was in awe of finding myself in the middle of the woods, in freezing temps, and having to go so badly I was actually LOOKING FORWARD to being next in line for this rite of passage.

Ah, race day. Gotta love it.

Eee-nyway. I did my duty and scurried myself back to the car, the super warm and lovely car. Actually, this is my brand new (smelling) Outback and I love it. I mean, I really LOVE IT. I should be sponsored by Subaru – if only they loved me as much as I love their car. Her name, by the way is Fancy. And, yes, I named my car. Shut up.

Not being late, of course, brings its own set of “issues.” The waiting issue is one of them. I didn’t have my Sherpa to talk to – he was home in bed getting over a killer cold (but he’s all better now, thanks for asking…you’re always so polite…). So, I quietly sat listening to Dave Matthews, sipping my coffee and water, and watching everyone else. Turns out that some members of the US Orienteering team were parked in my row, which was cool to see. Not that they were parked there – that they would come to a race that I was in, too. Made me feel mildly studly. The one’s I saw were shockingly small – like short and skinny. I think they take this nuts and berries thing a little too seriously. Somebody should tell them about the cheese steak diet.

When the time was right, we all kind of wandered down to the starting “line” (i.e., two trees near each other, through which we ran) and waited for awhile. Ron did his usual spiel about running at your own risk and where to go if you wanted to be collected for body disposal. He also added that just about every single “challenge” you could face on a trail run was in place for today, the most importantly being ice.


Let me explain. Big storm came through Reading. Big storm dumped a foot of snow and sleet. Big dump turned into big tundra of ice. Hard packed, don't-even-try-to-jam-your-toe-into-it ice. But, since we are not quiche eating surrender monkeys, we soldiered on.

I often tell Mighty M that he was the best $29.95 I ever spent. Why? Even though he hates to tell people this (I always get to answer the question at parties, which is such a blast let me tell ya), we met online. I know. Crazy. And we’re actually normal people. And we developed a normal relationship. Go figure! But, since he was the first person I met online and I was the last he met, I call him the best $29.95 I’ve ever spent. Cancelled the subscription the night of our first date. I know…a love story for the ages.

An. E. Way.

People, I now know the best $24.95 I’ve ever spent.

Yaxtracks. Saved. My. Run.

Okay, here’s where I apologize to all those fellow runners – at least two I know of through blog land – who didn’t bring any spikes. I’m sorry. I did. It was the best damned decision I’ve made all year. Without them, I would never have made it. If you did, you’re all the better for it. Probably a bit more bruised, but better…stronger. Hold onto that thought while you nurse your wounds. Remember…stronger.

So, with my ‘Tracks strapped to my reliable Asics, we were off like a group of gazelles (Group? Herd? Mash?) for the first, um, 100 yards. And then we all ran directly, and with much confusion, into the side of a mountain.

Not gracefully, mind you. More like in a startled, group dynamic, they-should-study-this-behaviour kind of way. I think we were all looking down, for fear that the ice would trip us up. Nope! Surprise! Instead, let’s all run face first into the side of a mountain!! Now THAT will be fun!

And the quest was on…how to manage an ice covered mountain wearing running shoes and lots and lots of tech clothing. The trail (and, frankly, that word needs airquotes, too, because it was as loosely defined as, say, “political responsibility”) continued this way – up and down, up and down – for a good 7+ miles. I have neither the energy nor the memory to tell you each step of the way. Just know that I felt the grade for each step – each and every step. We climbed up rock faces and balanced on saplings and hurdled logs and slid on our rumps down nearly vertical tracks. Again, people: Yaxtracks are the best $24.95 I’ve ever spent. Ever.

Oh, and part way through…there was a pagoda. NO. JOKE. Seriously! A pagoda, in the middle of the woods. Just perched up there (oh, and yes, I mean UP THERE because, of course, we had to climb 100 stairs to get there!) on the edge of the rock face, overlooking the Reading area valley. Here's a couple of views. How fun!

About 5 miles into the race, I’m getting tired. Fatigued. A little mountain mush was coming to my quads. It was time to get off this thang and get some bagels and peanut butter. Pronto. The last couple of miles were tough, but with my Garmin, I had a good idea of what was left for us. And soon I found myself hearing the distant cheers and yells of spectators and thought, “Wow, I’m almost to the promised land!”

Little did I know.

Oh, I was there alright. I had made it up 1800 feet of incline and back down again. I had chewed my way through my GU packets and peed in the snow (oh, sorry, forgot to tell you about that…talk about cold rump!). And here I thought I was about to come to the finish line.


Before you can get your glorious pancakes and bananas for the Ugly Mudder, you have to mount Mt. Mud. Here is Mt. Mud.

Sick joke, huh? Thanks, Ron.

But I did mount the Mt, just like all the other 600 or so finishers this Sunday. And I didn’t just come out alive, I came out FEELING alive.

I love race season, people. I love it so much. I can’t wait for this Sunday…because it’s off, again! It doesn't matter if it's a trail run or a local 10K or a triathlon...I just love race season.

Now...where did I put that Advil?