Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back in the saddle

Got 2:00 bike in today, although I was hoping for a little longer.  The heat was BRUTAL out there and totally tapped my legs.  I knew on the first hill going out of town that it was going to suck.

And it did, but in a really excellent way.  Each and every hill was like dragging an ape up the side of the road.  But for every ride in the rain or humidity or afternoon heat, all I think about is...if this happens on race day, I totally know what to do.

Incidentally, the Swedish fish failed.  Too hard to chew and didn't digest all that well.  And for 150 calories, I need to jam 25 of those little guys in my mouth.  While riding.  In aero.  Chaaallenging.  And between the Gatorade and fish, I was all cotton mouthed with Red Dye #5.  

I have to get out to Performance to restock on Cliff Bloks.  And start stalking the Acme's for some Accelerade stocks.  

Time to shower and head down to the hospital.  Thanks for all of your good wishes for Nana -- she's doing well in recovery!

Friday, June 27, 2008


Insomnia is boring, my friends.

There are only so many times you can check facebook for notifications of old friends from whenever, there are only so many times you can check your emails (three of them!), only so many times you can flip through blogs.

Seems I'm one of the few posting new stuff at midnight.

Le sigh.

This is the end of a long week of insomnia.  And I'm bored.

But I did get out for a run tonight, as Nana is stabilized at the hospital.  The run was only 35 minutes, but pain free for a solid 30.

I'll take it.

Baby steps to the elevator.

On deck tomorrow is 2:45 ride.  Gatorade is in the fridge (btw, why did Acme stop selling my Accelerade??  Huh??  I certainly bought enough of the damned stuff there!) and the bike is ready to go.  Bringing out some little bags of red swedish fish to switch it up a bit -- we'll see how all this sugar sits.  

Plan is to head out to Ephrata and find that hill I've heard so much about.  From the looks of it, the coming back might hand me some pain.  But I miss the pain of a solid bike.  

Time to try some sleep again.  Hopefully some better luck this time... .

(Lack of) Training Update


...'s been an interesting week full of all things unexpected. Last week, Michael's grandmother (Nana), whom I love dearly for her quiet spunk, was feeling funny and then feeling bad and then in the hospital for one thing and then they found other things and let's just say it's been a very challenging week for her. And her family. Every time we think one thing is solved, another is discovered. We just don't know what to expect when the phone rings anymore.

But, even after an emergency surgery late yesterday that even the surgeon admitted was not high on his list of predicted successes, Nana was pushing strong in the recovery room, lucid and alert. She amazes me. Every moment.

So much of our week has been driving to and from the hospital, about an hour away, to see her and spend time together. What it hasn't been spent doing is (a) cleaning our house, (b) watering our plants, (c) doing laundry, or (d) training.

No regrets, mind you. This is so not a complaint.

But it is a reality to manage. I haven't been at the pool, on the bike, or run for a week. Exactly 2-weeks out from an Oly is not a good time to go cold-turkey. Hopefully this weekend will bring some good training sessions. I need that. My sleep is all messed up, my face is breaking out from the weird cafeteria foods, and I'm getting squishy. Yes, squishy. Around my hips.

My sentiments exactly...gross.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Hate That

I had been grumpy all weekend, but I wasn't really sure why. Maybe it was my lady parts acting up again, but I hate that excuse. Maybe it was the change in plans this weekend or the weird lack of motivation I've been having at work bleeding into my subconscious.

I don't know.

But I was grumpy all weekend. Snapish. Defensive. And for as excited as I was for my friends competing out in Idaho, watching everything on IronmanLive(ish) wasn't helping things.

At one point, I wandered downstairs and said to Mighty M, point blank, "I want to do an Ironman."

That'll distract you from SciFi, alright.

Instead of finding the words, he made hand gestures forming stairs in the air...up and up and up.

"You think I need to still build, huh?"

"Yup. Don't you? I mean, look what the last half did to you? That wasn't fun."

It wasn't what I wanted to hear. Damn him. I hate honesty sometimes. What I wanted him to say is that maybe next year, or maybe it's time to think about which one and when. Instead I got the worst possible answer...which is I still need work.


But accurate.

I do still need work. I need to continue to condition my body to do longer distances with ease and strength. I freaking know that.

But I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated because I know what will lead me there. (Or, at least, I think I do.) I need a really solid year this year with half iron distances and really consistent training. And then I think I need a little time off, followed by a strong and consistent off-season of building more.

And then I think I need to train for an Ironman.

Because I want. I want it bad. Like 13-year old pitching a fit at the mall bad. I want it even when I admit what it will mean for my life and my sanity. I want it even when I think about all that risk -- all the things I don't even know about yet.

I want.

And it's killing me. I don't want to get to next year, when everyone's 2009 races are being raced and registration is opening up, only to realize that I'm still not ready because I "dialed" everything back. Because I kept it simple this year.

I don't want to be still getting ready to get ready next year.

I know. Whine. Whine. Whine. I have nothing to complain about. Life is good. It keeps getting better. But I have this itch that I can't seem to scratch. Every time I take a step towards it, life intervenes and says, don't have the cash for the training or travel, or your knees are thinking maybe never, or you have to decide between a new home and children and the Ironman. "You can love the Ironman, but you can't have it."

And I hate that. I understand it, but I hate it.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Excuse me?

When I looked at the lady,
behind the counter at Desert Moon,

and casually thought, mmmm tofu quesadillas,
which somehow translated into,

"Two tofu quesadillas, please,"
when I opened my unsuspecting mouth,

what exactly was I thinking?

((food coma))

The Guilts

Yesterday, while everyone was racing their dreams in Idaho, I was sitting on my rump in Pennsylvania. Saturday we babysat our lovely nieces (the best little nuggets ever) and I managed to pull something in my hip area somewhere on the playground.

I'm not too worried about it, but the ache remained on Sunday when I moved my right leg, so my ride and run were off the schedule. And since we were at the hospital and babysitting on Saturday (both unexpected events), my weekend was a big goose egg on training.

Which I'm not totally worried about, because this week will be strong and so was last week.

But for some reason, more than one day off puts me in a funk. Not just off from training, but "off," in the purest sense of the word. Yesterday Mighty M and I let sleeping laundry lie, transplantable plants sit, and the vacuum have some quiet time in the corner. Aside from important family time and a massive trip to the g'store (and subsequent veggie and herb prepping and storing), I was hugely unproductive.

And as nice as that sounds, it never sits well with me.

Doing nothing makes me CRANKY.

I just don't feel like I'm a good person after days like that! I know, sounds terribly dramatic, but the thing is that I need my daily routines of errands and training to keep me feeling like I'm participating in life.

Maybe it's like state-dependent learning. I spent lots of idle time when I was younger because I could and, in some sense, I had to. And as I grew older, that idle time grew you say...pleasant.

So, now downtime gives me The Guilts, big time.

You know...that vague feeling you get that you didn't do something or you forgot to finish something or let someone down...but you can't just put your finger on it? And you feel weird and off kilter and distracted? Yeah, The Guilts.

And The Guilts make me cranky. And snapish. And give me insomnia. And make me eat Special K and popsicles after bedtime.

Me no likes.

So right now, my goal is to move in the opposite direction so I don't mope my way through the day and pick a fight with Mighty M when I get home. Cause the risk is high, my friends. The risk is high.

Step one...caffeinate until my eyeballs float. Then nail some longstanding work projects, finish up a couple grant reports, apply for two more, check in on my banking, and quite possibly sell my first wedding dress.

Bring on the Dunkin Donuts!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Need your help...


Okay...completely off topic.


I have a situation I've found myself in where I have an extra (cough) wedding dress.

Seriously.  I kid you not.

Long story.  I'm constantly being regaled about it.  Trust me -- the humor has NOT been lost!

But now I have an eager potential buyer for the unworn, brand new dress.  She's a bridal salon owner in California and needs it for one of her brides, being married on the weekend of July 4th.  Eak for her!

I haven't spoken to her yet, but my research online has shown that she's a very shrewd shop owner and can I put this delicately? very driven by the dollar.  

If I decide to sell the dress to her, here's my question...


Do I use paypal?  Do I require payment first?  (I fear that if I wait for payment upon receipt, I may not get it and be out both payment and dress.)

New territory for me and I can't find any good resources online.

Maybe I should just list it as an item through EBay (informing her of the sale posting) and use the protection afforded through their agreements.  I'm leaning towards this option now.

What do you guys think?  Your experiences?

(okay...seriously, you can stop laughing about the second dress's funny, i know.  but really)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Run Ning

Um. Seems I've been tagged.

I don't usually do tags (how pretentious does THAT sound!), but it's really just because I'm woefully bad at posting on something within, ya know, like three years of it actually happening.

Unless it has to do with food. Then I post immediately.

But since I hearts Erin and I've been focusing on solving my run issues this year, I thought I'd jump on this wagon. Or catch this train. Or look for an appropriate running metaphor.


So, without further adieu...

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?

Running? Ten years ago? (Cough, cough) Sorry, I got something caught in my throat. It might have been a box of wine or a carton of cigarettes. (COUGH) Okay, it's gone.

What were you saying? Ah yes, my running at 24. Let's see, at 24 I was a fresh face in Philadelphia, having just moved there from the DC area and following a disastrous break up with 30-something adolescent and the death of my Mom the year before. Having just started an excellent new job with my best friend working down the hall, living in my FAHbulous apartment that came with free mice and permanent risk of break-in, and a lot of nervous lonely time to fill, I spent much of my time, well...away. Out. Doing "things." I went out all the time with friends. I would dine (and drink) alone to pass the nights without plans. I ate very little and weighed very little, too. I wore leather pants. I could hang longer than most of the guys. I played a mean game of pool and knew every bartender in the Art Museum area personally. I was a size 4 hottie with a fancy party life and disastrous emotional life. Great to hang out with, but seriously, dude, not one to date.

Don't get me wrong. It was fun. For sure. But it was also taxing. Physically, emotionally, financially. While my well adjusted friends found well adjusted partners and married and moved on, I continued to search...for something.

And I had no idea yet part of it might be found in running. Not a clue.

So, me? Running? Ten years ago? Pshaw. Pass the chardonnay and I'll meet you at Rembrandt's at 8.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?

I'm going to stick with my best, because I'm feeling all positive like today.

My best run may have been my first half marathon. I had no idea how momentous the day was going to be because I was incredibly naive about all things sport. I had signed up for a trail run that was NOTORIOUS for kicking people's arses up one side of a mountain and down another. I've since gone back for more pain, but it was my first experience on this course. And I was blissfully unaware.

But it wasn't just that I didn't realize what thousands of feet of climb feels like over 13+ miles. I didn't know what 13 miles felt like. Most people do their first half mary in a formal way, with chips and spectators, carrying signs. And maybe a training plan. I had just signed up to do a cool trail run I read about on a flier at the gym, and since I had been hitting 9, 10, or 11 mile runs during the week I figured doing 13 would be no big leap.

Such. A. Fool.

I totally finished that day. I barely made the cutoff at the halfway point, but I slugged it out through craggy, rock infested paths and across fields, and up the random 100 stairs that "help" hikers make their way through the woods. I completely and utterly thrashed my legs. Upon arriving home, still relatively naive about recovery and nutrition, I layed face-down down on the floor in the living room to "rest." Ten minutes later I was dizzy and nauseaus with low blood sugar and seeing spots. What a rookie.

I have no idea what my time was. I don't give a darn, to this day. As with many things, I just randomly crashed into my first half mary sideways without much thought or planning. But it remains one of my best runs ever.

3. Why do you run?

I run because I don't want to die.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

But it's honestly the reason I do. My mom died at 51 years old. Fifty-one years old. She had little choice about it in the end -- it was a cancer she had staved off for eleven years. Eleven years. So she only had 40 years of disease free life.

I'm 34. You do the math.

And, while it may sound dramatic to most (unless you've lost a parent young, then you'll totally understand), I expect to die early and from cancer. I do. When you spend your entire youth and young adult life linking CANCER to MORTALITY, it tends to affect your own predictions of your own life.

I could get hit by a bus or a car. I could drown. I could leave this earth many ways, but I don't expect those ends. I expect that I will leave too early and because of cancer.

So, I put a lot of energy today into removing that possibility from my future. No smoking and no drinking. Whole foods and lots of sleep. LOTS of exercise. Because I'm doing everything possible now to stick around as long as possible for my children. Yup, the one's I haven't had yet. Because I love them to bits and pieces and I don't ever want them to parse out their emotions on mortality and longevity, personal responsibility and loss, at 13 years old. I want them to remain blissfully unaware of the fear of loss.

So each and every time I run in a race and come in dead freaking last (which is often), I consider it a victory. I'm doing everything I can to be alive at 80. So see my children trip and fall their way through their own adult lives and chuckle with Mighty M about how we were like that one day a long, long time ago.

There you have it. I run so I won't die.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you’ve been given about running?

The best piece of advice I've heard about running -- and, frankly, pretty much every unpleasant training activity -- is to get out of my own damn way.

You blog? You read blogs? You've heard that everywhere. I know it, because I've read it everywhere. But it's damned powerful stuff.

I get in my way all the time. I spent a DECADE of my life bouncing around so fast I couldn't slow down enough to achieve my own potential. I bartered and cajoled myself into and out of just plain doing it -- the test, the promotion, the relationship, the future.

And I held on hard to that habit with triathlon and running. For every run, ride, or swim I had a million reasons why I didn't want to, I couldn't, or I shouldn't. I mapped out scenarios of well laid excuses to pave my way to the lazy alternatives. I resisted so much. I got in my own way.

Soon I figured out my why of resisting -- why I tried to pull out early or accept the shorter/easier alternative. And once I did, it became easier to get out of my own way. Soon, with a little insight, I started adding to the picture a little acknowledgment ("Of course you don't want to get out of bed to swim, because you know it's unpleasant and you could just roll over and 'forget' you had that 3,000 swim planned for today") and the good kind of denial ("Ha ha, that's funny how you're so damned predictable. Now get the hell out of bed, beyotch. It's time to HTFU!").

Don't get me wrong...the dark side wins sometimes, too. Last night I opted for a dinner out instead of my run. But I'm wiser now, so this morning I listened to the inner voice that got me out of bed for an AM make-up run.

Cause now I try to get out of my own way.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I'm terribly neurotic about certain things, while others can lay in waste on the side of my attention span. The fridge, for example. The fridge needs to be organized. There is a place for everything in my fridge, and it better damn site be in its place! The bed is another good example. I cannot stand an unmade bed! (My father just cheered outloud on that one!) I have to make the bed every day, with the corners tucked and the sheet smoothed. I secretly believe that Mighty M's only character flaw is that he is unable (or unwilling? huh? you be the judge...) to make a bed properly. Or, like, ever. And while we're in the bedroom, I can have a pile of dirty laundry in the corner, but the top of my dresser MUST be orderly and clean. The perfume bottles must be aligned properly and there should be no dryer sheets/random hair ties/handkerchiefs/assorted crap there. Incidentally, it's funny to actually look at our dresser because Mighty M does not ascribe to this neurosis. No need to draw a line down the middle, it's pretty clear already.

Other things keep me just shy of crazy, like folding laundry properly, keeping a mess-free car and purse, and having my coffee made just right in the morning.

But I like my kind of crazy. It works, you know? Anyway, what's 40 more years of making the bed?

6. Passing it on.

This is where I will fall flat on my face. Because I'm not passing it on. I know! I'm a total stick in the mud! Shoot me! Actually don't. But at least give me a break. I deserve one...I made the bed this morning.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You're in so much trouble

Tonight, after my lovely swim at el Y'o, I headed home for an iddy biddy run.  And somewhere in my moaning about having to actually do it (as opposed to simply moan about it), Mighty M said something about a surprise dinner.

He just got a mid-year bonus.

Booyah.  Run officially moved to tomorrow morning.

So 20 minutes later, I'm sitting in my first evah Vietnamese noodle house.

And I have only one thing to say...

If it was 
job to tell me how 
freaking delicious 
this stuff was, you 

TOTALLY dropped the ball.

Incidentally?  You're in


I have 34 years of noodle soup eating to make up for.  

Step back folks.  This might get messy.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Diamond in the Rough: Prep Time & Goals

Next race up? Diamond in the Rough.

1 mile swim/27 mile bike/5 mile run

This one is an olympic distance in Perryville, MD, hosted by the Piranha group who so very patiently waited for me to finish the Devilman like a bazillion hours. Love them.

Of note about the race is that it's a hilly course with some technical turns and no-pass areas. The swim is at a river/bay junction and will be in the direction of the current, which is always a bonus. The run is an out and back.

I had to think real hard to remember the last time I did an olympic distance and finally remembered the Lancaster Triathlon in 2006. Wow, that was a long time ago, huh. Here were the results then...

Olympic Triathlon (03:07:55)

1000M swim (18:35)(1:51/100)

23.7m bike (1:45:44)(13.45 avg)

5.7m run (1:03:36)(11:09 pace)

Not bad, actually! I think I can improve on these this year to a certain degree. I'm thinking my swim will be close, although likely more around a 1:55/100 average as the distance is longer (1 mile). I'm considering skipping my wetsuit (it's having major zipper issues) which will keep my times closer to pool times than race times. My run will likely be in the same realm, although I'm hoping to get through without any (too much) pain. It's the ride that I think will seriously improve. I'm a better cyclist today.

I'm hoping for this...

SWIM: 30 minutes = 1:51/100
Ambitious, for sure. But so am I.

BIKE: 1:30 = 18 mph average speed
Again, ambitious. Very ambitious. But Saturday I did 25 miles at 16.6 average on rolling hills in crazy heat. And I wasn't racing. I can nail something like that under race conditions, I'm sure.

RUN: 1:00 = 12 min miles
The unknown. Expecting 12 minute miles is probably reasonable, but the pain factor could change things. No pain? I think I could do 55 minutes for this. Pain? Could be a deathmarch home. I never know.


So, the next month will be a busy one keeping up with this level of fitness and really honing in on these distances. A couple of 1 mile time trials in the pool with sighting. A few more visits to the hillier routes to really get my gearing strategy and legs ready for eating through any hills on the course. And more bricks than I have been doing -- I've been woefully short on bricks.

The plan...

...I won't bore you with my daily routine for this one, but generally speaking I'm doing 3/3/4 and some core. Three swims a week (gots to gets me to daz pool), three rides (one short, one hills, one long with hills plus a run), and four runs (one short, one medium, one itty bitty, one long).

I'm not going to make myself crazy with this schedule, but I'm going to have spectators this time (my inlaws are coming down for the festivities) so I don't want to (a) puke (too much), (b) bonk on the bike, or (c) be unprepared for the run. I have intentions of crossing that finish line strong for all the lovely people who want to spend their morning watching me race.

Ok. Enough from me. I have things to train or somethin' like that...

An update...on me


It's been a nutty couple of days. (Weeks? Yes, weeks. That's more accurate.)

Here's where I am...

In life...
...I'm holding steady. Spending time with loved ones and my man, much more than in years past. Dialing back on the training has left lots of time for me to just, well, be. And that's nice. Mighty M said one day to me, "We only get to enjoy this once." And he's so right. Reach out and grab for it, it only comes around once.

At home...
...currently our little abode is landscaped (woot!) with pretty juniper plants in handmade flower boxes and there's a sturdy and growing herb garden in pots all over the back deck. Twice this week I've made dinner using herb I plucked from the porch. That was fun. Also, after toiling for HOURS in a windowless, 100* bathroom we have a pretty navy blue bathroom that's very fancy. We love it. And I love that it'll be a nice looking detail for future buyers.

In training...
...I'm finding I have talents I really didn't realize before. For example. This weekend, I had a long bike on the calendar so I headed out towards Honeybrook on 322 for my standard rolling hill ride. No crazy climbs, but a nice steady up and down to keep the legs honest. After warming up for a little, I started to challenge myself. Tried to get through some of the hills with smart gearing and staying in the big ring. And you know what? I did a hellova sight better than I ever would have thought. Last year, I struggled on these hills in my granny gear. I don't have a granny gear anymore, and I don't need one either. I have seriously improved as a cyclist. Seriously. I have to thank the Elf for her guidance over the winter, because I know that's where a lot of it was borne. But it also says to me that I need to push myself a little more than I usually do. I have more to offer. I'm underestimating my abilities. I may actually be a solid cyclist after all. Who knew?

...also on the training front is my running. The new neutral shoes are helping. I'm still having pain at the end of long runs, but it's getting later and later in the run. This says to me I have a working combination of stretching, strengthening, and shoe choice, but I need to get more run focus in. I'm focusing my efforts on a number of shorter (30 - 45 minute) runs each week, and at least one longer run (1:15 - 1:45). So far, I think it's working. Yeah!

...and just to be fair, I've been kind of a slacker in the pool. For the past two weeks I've gone Ugh. Not good. I have to keep the consistency up on this. My next race has a mile swim -- nothing I'm worrying about, but something that has enough teeth to tap my energy for the bike/run. Gotta get to the pool and put my time in.

In re: nuptuals...
...this has been an interesting experience to say the least. The most surprising parts? First, that it's so very lonely to plan a wedding at my age and in my circumstances. My bridesmaids are flung across the East coast and busy with their own lives, so planning is a pretty solo affair. Not having my own Mom alive has been difficult. There's just something about having that person there for you, willing and eager to plan every detail and every moment of the day. I am so very, very lucky to have my FMIL in my life. She's played such a large role in getting ready for the wedding and tempered much of those lonely feelings. I love her dearly for giving me that solace, and that constant ear for concerns and words of advice.

...Also, it seems the year has rushed by. We're getting married in 5 months. FIVE MONTHS!! Holy wow. I'm on track with everything, but now things start moving fast. Big purchases, big deposits, major projects. Invites, limos, bridal showers, bachelorette party, flowers, ribbons, gifts, etc. Let me tell you something, peeps. I plan parties for a's my JOB. And I can tell you from a professional's point of view that planning a wedding it an unenviable role. Be nice to your brides to be. They are working harder than you think. Yes, it's fun and cute to poke fun at their concerns about minutia and constant guest list questions...but at the end of the day everyone else just shows up and enjoys the party. It's the bride who is responsible for making sure that it's seamless. Give her a break. Throw some compassion her way. And maybe a gift certificate for a massage. Even the pros may need one.

In love...
...yup, still there. So little else to say other than he makes me want to live forever, as long as he's right next to me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

You know when, like...

You know when, you know, you do the same motions over and over again (like say for instance bending down or leaning over to idonno...take something off someone's ankle) and the next day you're, you know, kinda sore.

You know how they say it's the second day when you really will feel it?

You know what?

Tomorrow's going to suck.

Hot enough to...


That was hot.

A massive cheer for everyone who participated in the Eagleman half iron this weekend. Even if you didn't finish, frankly not running home screaming about heat stroke at 6 am gets you massive tri-points.

Yes. It was that hot.

I managed to get down to the race just in time to see the age groupers start and see the first waves come out of the water. It was beautiful! Bright and sunny, the water was glass and people were saying it was a great swim. So much excitement...I kept having to choke back tears. Yes, tears.

I'm emotional, you know.

I managed to not cry, and saw my friend D get out of the water with a strong swim behind her and a hot bike ahead. How much fun is it to cheer on the sidelines!! So fun!! Once she was safely off, I wandered around a little. I was a bit surprised at the size of the operation -- I actually expected it to be a little bigger. Mainly a lot of team tents and some Rotary-like food tents. Everyone was so nice and enjoying the festivities.

After spending a little time cheering those out of the water near the end (ahem, usually where I am!), I found a nook right near the bike entry and pro rack. WAY FUN!! These guys and gals are machines! I mean, really. They make it look a casual and all, but transitioning under a minute after a brutal bike (I heard there was some bad headwind issues at the end to add to the 100+ heat index)! Crazy folk.

I didn't get to see the Elf transition because I had to report for volunteering. But I DID get to cheer her as she ran by the finishing shoot -- looking strong and ready to tackle day?

These pros. I tell ya. (chuckle)

Anyway, I learned a really interesting thing from my group of volunteers. If my group represented volunteers at events like this, as a whole, then WE TRIATHLETES NEED TO GET OUT AND VOLUNTEER MORE DAMMIT!!

I was the only triathlete volunteer. (With the exception of the Tri-Columbia folks.) Bless 'em, these other folks were from the local town and decided to brave the 100 degree temps because their churches or schools said volunteers were needed. All ages, all ethnicities, all backgrounds. What a great group!

Plus, it was tons of fun explaining little details of what was going on for the volunteers -- who was coming by when and why, how long each leg was, what racing was like. I was proud to be a triathlete.

But soon the talking was over and the pro's were coming. And let me tell you.

Holy. Shit.

These people are seriously the finest form of athlete. Strong, lean, chiseled, serious. They put it all out there for this race, as I would assume they do for every race. But the moment they crossed the finish line, you could see the toll it took on them.

Many were struggling. Most went straight for an IV. It was a brutal day.

Soon the age group men started arriving, including Christian Waterstraat -- the ELF's hubby. He managed to kick some serious arse under terrible conditions to win a Kona slot. Third in his age group, I think. And he was so nice and talkative when he finished -- wide eyed and looking for who was ahead or behind him. I grabbed his chip and steered him towards the water/hose.

Then racers started coming a little faster through the shoot and it wasn't long before I was screaming GO LIZ GO LIZ WHOOOOOOOOOO LIZ!!! Here came the Elf, out on a little training exercise. I couldn't believe she was with it enough to even say hi, much less give me a big hug and jump into a conversation right there in the shoot. Went something like this -- "Omg, it's so nice to meet you!" "Do you need a medic?" "How are you?" "No seriously, we have a hose" "Yeah, your right, hose...water..."

Love her.

As an aside, seeing the Elf there and watching the racing and knowing the dedication to the sport everyone was showing...well, it gave me major pangs for my recent decision to dial back. I know, of course, that it was the right decision and everything, but I missed so much working with Liz and being structured and pointed and goal oriented in my training. I just missed it. It made me really, really want to (a) get back to a coached environment, (b) sign up for the next big race that I could find, and (c) make solid plans for an Ironman. All of those things, as we know, will not happen in the next year. I know. But I really want them to happen. So much. Le sigh.
Anyway, a couple athletes turned into a huge cattle shoot of sweaty, cramping, and disoriented triathletes real quick like. No need to check the thermometer, you could see the conditions on everyone's faces. I've finished two half irons so far, and let me tell you...the finish line does usually look like this. This, my friends, was war. And those athletes won.

So for about 6 hours, I collected chips, steered athletes towards or away from medical, propped up the ones that couldn't walk, manned the backup timing box, got ice/water/soda to those who couldn't make it past the finish shoot. I was thrown up on, encountered multiple people who lost control of their (um) bowels out there on the course, and was a certain kind of filthy by the end.

But so proud to be in this sport.

By 3:00 I finally called it a day. Exhausted, filthy, dehydrated and sunburned. I had been so focused on the racers I failed to eat all day or get on board any fluids myself. Or sunscreen. Oops!

I spent some quick but quality time with my friend D, who finished strong and healthy after an excellent showing on the course. Then it was time for the 3 hour drive home and the attempt to find gas, fluids, and some quality food on the way home. I managed to find the gas under $4 and Gatorade, but quality food was nowhere to be found. Oh, and I made a stupid wrong turn and added a good 45 minutes onto my trip.

But, I loved every minute of the day. It was inspiring and emotional and exciting. It was so fulfilling to volunteer and help the racers out there.

Now all I have to do it make sure I don't start making any rash decisions like, you know, signing up for an Ironman or anything.

But you never know...

Post Script: Over 1,200 athletes finished while I was in the shoot. Being "the chip lady," I took off probably about 800 or so chips from peoples' ankles. That's a lot of bending down. Incidentally? Bending down right now is really, really hard.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Murphy's Blogging Law -- Post it, and it will change


Change of plans. Sorry!

I'm not going to be armed with a sharpie after all. I'M SO BUMMED!

It's my own damned fault, since I didn't shore up my travel plans early enough or bother to do the very important math equation of what time I would need to leave in order to make it to the race that early if I didn't make plans to stay somewhere closer.

And, yes, I did get a 5 on my math AP. And, no, I clearly didn't take those lessons with me.

Erg. Cannot leave the house at 2 am and expect to make it through the day in one piece. No friend/family/stranger housing within 1 hour drive. I'm an idiot.

SO, I am scurrying down there early enough to see my peep, D, hit the water along with everyone else. And I will have IM ABLE written on my legs. And I will scream for you if I find you in the crowd until I'm hoarse or asked to leave, whichever comes first.

And I will be catching at the finish line for as long as they will let me. So I have every intention of seeing each person I know out there cross in a healthy, albeit sweaty, way.

By the way, I'm stupid excited for everyone. It's going to be hot. I know, I know. But you guys are triathletes and you know how to manage heat. Just stay smart out there, keep your core temps down, and race your own race.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Eagleman, and how to find me (or, at least my legs)

I'm convinced this is the most egotastic post I've put up on the blog so far. (That is, of course, taking into account that the blog is by its very definition a hugely egotastic endeavor.)

But, if for any reason you'd be interested in me marking you in nice pretty numbers and letters (and, yes, they DID give us a sheet of guidelines!) for your Eagleman race, I will be happy to oblige.

Armed with a sharpie, I'll be with the other dozen or so volunteers wearing the volunteer garb and our comfiest of comfy shoes. (It's going to be a long day, after all.)

BUT, unlike my fellow volunteers, I'll have "IM" emblazoned on my left calf and "ABLE" emblazoned on my right calf.

And yes, I realize how difficult this is going to be to explain when I wear a skirt to work next week and it's still there.
So watch for my gams and come and introduce yourself. M'kay? And if you're there and feeling nauseas with nerves and anti-social with your game face on and not in the mood to be meeting and greeting? Totally cool, too. Just promise to race a good race and be safe out there.

AND, if you have any plans on finishing in lightening speeds (ahem, Liz, this means you), I'll also be at the finish line from 10 - 12. So for all you fasties out there, can't wait to make sure you (a) don't need a medic, and (b) don't walk off with your chip.

So, see everyone there and someone, please, BRING COFFEE!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Iddy Biddy Breakthroughs

Recently, I've been struggling a bit with training on two fronts. First, my mojo took a bad left turn somewhere and got lost. Second, I've been struggling finding the right solution to some pain I've been having while running...again.

But, I think I've actually come to some resolution on both fronts.

Gasp is right.

Let's start with the running. Long story short, I purchased my Asics Kayanos upon a recommendation from a friend/fellow triathlete who has lots of experiencing doing just that, but didn't have the benefit of being right there with me during the purchase. I was thrilled for new shoes. I was thrilled for support and cushioning. It was a good relationship.

Until it wasn't. It's been over well over a year now and I've been through multiple halves, an iron attempt, olys, sprints, road races, trail races, and training in a string of Kayanos. And the whole time my limiter has been (a) my willingness to get my ass out of bed to train (completely irrespective of my shoes, but true and we're being thorough here), and (b) knee pain.

This year my typical IBS converted to a strained hamstring and glute. The last five miles of the Devilman Half was a mix of walking and dragging my left leg behind me in what I call my Frankinstein run. It was bad. All of a sudden I'm icing daily and taking OTC pain meds and seeing an ART specialist. The good news is that, following lots of advice from different specialists, it seems I'm one of the rare supinators. Under-pronators. AKA gots ta run on the outsides of her feets.

In a nutshell, I was exaggerating an issue that my feet naturally have and could easily be accommodated for in a neutral shoe by forcing my foot to stay on the outside. As a result, I'm asking the outside of my legs (especially my left one with the existing tight IT Band) to do the bulk of the work.

And they don't like it.

So, I switched my shoes this week. Asics Nimbus 9. A neutral shoe with moderate cushioning because -- let's face it -- I'm still an Athena and we Athena's need a little shock absorption between us and that hallowed road.

And now when I run? I stop because of fatigue, not pain. It has been a long time since I could say that. This has made a huge difference in my mojo, too. I no longer flinch when I think about needing to run on a certain day. It's no longer about managing the pain, I can get back to enjoying the training.


And, speaking of mojo, I may have found that again, too. In the last few weeks I haven't really been -- I don't know -- connected with my training. I can't see it in my head. Sounds stupid, I know. But I'm so distracted by my life I haven't really kept my training incorporated into that picture. So it's been on my mental edges, which has translated to being on the edges of my time.
A good part of it is the pain and effort. The pain from my knee/ham/quad getting better and the effort of coming back to regular sessions after time off. I knew I just had to go out and do it, but I just couldn't get myself there.

But I have a race looming in my future, so I have to get back to it, even the hard stuff, especially the hills rides. I've been ducking and dodging the hill rides because I've been worried that my week and half off left my legs all mushy and meally like. Plus I have to dial in the cleat placement on my shoes and there's always wedding things to plan and isn't it time for another batch of gazpacho? No? Bike?


Last night I bailed on all those other distractors and finally got my arse out there for my local hill ride. And, you know what?

It rocked. I felt like last year during Iron training, but better. I forgot how responsive my new bike is and how smooth it is to ride. I realized that I still have a TON of fitness in me, even though I had a wee vacation from training. In fact, I tackled the ride better last night than I ever had last year.

And for the first time in a while, I could see the summer days stretching out ahead of me with many quick evening rides, chasing my shadow home and hoping I made the turn around early enough.

So. Let's review.

Shoes -- check.

Mojo -- check.

Life, my friends, is good.