Sunday, December 28, 2008

Friend: a person you know well and regard with affection

For the past two years I followed a blog by Leroy Sievers. He worked for NPR, had colon cancer and decided to blog about it. It was a wonderful blog; the man definitely had a gift for writing. He died the day before Timberman and I actually cried. I never met this man, but I cried!

I've 'met' some other cancer patients through leroy's blogs who also have cancer blogs (see I do have other interests besides triathlon). One woman, Stephanie Dornbrook, who lived for two years longer than they told her she would, actually did everything to prepare for her death so that her family wouldn't have to. She ordered silk for the burial shroud, planned the funeral meticulously and divided her things between all four of her children in boxes for them to open after she died. She even gave the family the names of four friends to call, these four friends would call all of her other friends so that her family wouldn't have to make those calls. Wow! That was all I could say! Wow!

Then there's Tasha a blogger I initially followed because of her hilarious triathlon training commentary. Tasha was diagnosed with breast cancer last year; this diagnosis has actually made her blog even more entertaining. I love her; she's on my 'cancer sucks now go away' prayer list and I've only 'met' her on the internet.

Rachel Ross is another blogger friend. She was the first amateur woman to finish Kona in 2007, is an awesome athlete, mom and yes...blogger! She's so funny despite facing some incredible challenges this past year. I consider her someone I know, She makes me laugh. And she is on my 'migraines suck now go away' prayer list!

There are many other blogger friends I've made this past year. Some are funny, some are just sweet as hell(BreeWee) some share great training advice (Mary); all of them inspire me.

Friend: a person you know well and regard with affection.

Friday, December 19, 2008

It was the best of times; It was the worst of times...

Tis the season. Offseason. Down time. Time for half hour workouts and growing muffin tops.

In-season Steve rules, no question. But offseason, a time when intellect and cunning prevail- offseason is mine!

I'm the solid front runner in our "Facebook Friends War". VO2 max be damned when it comes to facebook friending strategies. I Rule!

Fast twitch muscle dominance is great, but not too helpful in a game of chess. Again, I Rule!

Humility is all mine during race season, but offseason... I RULE!!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

My latest project...

As Clearwater looms in the not so distant future, it has become apparent that Miss Sarah, my original sherpa companion and in fact one of my reasons for pushing Steve to do this race in the first place, cannot go. She is far too busy with school and work and seems to have put her plans for a big move to Tampa on a back burner anyway.

So I decided-who better to go along with me, sherpa a big race and enjoy the energy and vitality of the great triathlon experience than my oldest, and undoubtedly sweetest daughter, Shannon!? At first glance she doesn't really seem like the obvious choice. She smokes cigarettes, lives on candy and caffiene and almost drown trying to snorkel in two feet of water on our misguided trip to Honolulu last year. She moves like a turtle and isn't usually up at the crack of dawn so the entire endeavor will be challenging for both of us I'm sure.

But I've got some high hopes. I'm thinking that she may very well be inspired. She and Chrissie Wellington are the same age...she's never seen Steve actually race..and there's just something about being at a big race that makes people wonder "could I do that?".

Sarah was an easy lure into this triathlon stuff. She was running before she was even born.

Shannon, on the other hand, was four years old when I started running. I used to drag her and her big wheel to the local junior high school track and she didn't much like it. When she was in junior high herself she used to be horribly embarrassed when her school bus would pass me running. I guess actually having a mom was embarrassing enough without having a mom that ran all over the neighborhood.

Should be interesting.....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Positive thinking

I was raised by depression era parents. My dad joined the Navy when he was 17 and saw men die in a war before he was even 20. My mom had her first job when she was 12and pretty much worked her whole life. They were hard working, blue collar people who would never have considered doing something as 'frivolous' as triathlon. Especially when they had three kids and a mortgage. What little extra money they had was spent on piano lessons, horseback riding lessons, dance lessons...anything they could think of that would give us opportunities they never had.

The problem is that I'm not really sure they were happy. I'm pretty sure they weren't. They made sacrifices and worked hard but they didn't hold enough back for themselves. As a parent myself now, I partly understand that. You always want things to be better for your kids. But I also see that the fact that they weren't really happy created a sort of negative atmosphere even in the midst of their good intent. It was all way too serious; like a great sense of responsibility they could never quite master.

Sometimes I feel that negative atmosphere around me still. Like the cloud of dirt that follows Pigpen in the Charlie Brown cartoons.

I've been watching successful athletes lately. The well known professional ones and athletes successful on a local level. They all train hard and consistently. But I train hard and consistently too. The trait that stands out to me is their attitude. They are positive, they believe in themselves and manage to feel good about training even when it isn't always stellar. No matter whether they race successfully or things turn out dismally, they find something positive in every race and focus on that. If they made mistakes, they don't beat themselves up over them, they accept them and find ways to correct them.

I'm beginning to think that is a major part of their success. They feel positive about themselves and their efforts. They believe that their training will make them better athletes. They believe they will do well in races. And even when things dont seem to be going well they find something positive in the midst of it and believe in that one positive thing.

I'm starting even now to plan for my races next summer. I'm committed to doing two half ironman races and have already signed up for one of them. The planning starts now and as I pull out the training calendar; this idea of being positive and believing in myself and my abilities is going to become a reality for me. I'm going to find a way to include it in my daily training. I'm going to train myself to be more positive.

I'm going to start by changing the name of my blog. I am not a wannabe, I am a triathlete.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Lately every time I get out of bed I feel creaky. Creaky and stiff actually. Slowly, I hobble into the hallway and creep down the stairs for my coffee.

I'm used to aches and pains; even when I was 30 I was achey and painy sometime from running; it's inevitable. But this is different. This is aches and pains combined with a sort of unsteadiness that really makes me feel rickety. Before it just hurt, now it hurts and I feel like if I'm not careful, I'm going to hurt myself even worse - just going for coffee!!

Getting my blood moving seems to loosen things up a bit. But once I stop moving and then get up; the old lady is back, creeping and rickety.

My hips hurt, my knee hurts, my shoulder hurts - I'm the personification of pain! So I take an ibuprophen. I read somewhere that Joe Bonness (old guy - great triathlete) said yes he is on drugs - 1,200 mg a day of Ibuprophen. That makes me feel better. It comes with the old triathlete territory then, this creaky, painful, ricketiness.

I'm going to be increasing my run mileage these next few weeks prepping for the Cape Henry ten miler. I'm at a whopping 17 miles a week and 600 mg of Ibuprophen. I'm sure I'll have to incrementally increase both over the next six weeks or so.

Liberal doctors will write scripts for the maximum dosage of this stuff; conservative docs will tell you that it eats up your insides, destroys your liver and kidneys and allows you to run at the risk of injuring yourself even worse. At the age of 50 I don't listen to the conservatives much anymore. Some people would say it's insane to run if you have to take pain killers to do it. Maybe...but consider the alternative...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Steve is a really impressive guy. As I observe him through this insanity he calls "training for Clearwater", I just have to say for the millionth time he is a really impressive guy. He is the most disciplined, enduring, strongest person I have ever met. And the really amazing thing is that he is so not egotistical about it. When he knows he has to do something, he just does it. And he can do quite a lot and never show any wear and tear.
Witness our trip a few years ago as we hiked into the Grand Canyon from the south rim. The before picture has us both looking bright, chipper and ready to conquer the canyon.

Eight hard hours of hiking later, it is obvious who the pillar of strength is and who was conquered by the canyon!

I'm looking forward to watching him race at Clearwater. It's going to be an exciting trip and an exciting race.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Licking the Big Lick!

Until last Sunday, this was the only guy who knew that I was secretly planning to once again take on the monster of my nightmares....the Olympic Triathlon. Morgantown was such a complete disaster. If I didn't try again this season, who knew how big that monster could become by next spring.

So I signed up for the Big Lick Olympic at Smith Mountain Lake. Steve decided that rather than Sherpa (he's really not cut out for the whole sherpa experience anyway) he would do it with me as a training race.

Huddleston, VA is a four hour drive from here. I was antsy to leave early Friday, I had hoped to get a swim in the lake the day before the race. But it wasn't meant to be. I mean we did get there early, but I saw both a boat and a jet ski tooling around the little beach area and if there's anything that scares me more than open water swimming, it's open water swimming when there's motorized watercraft about.

I told Steve I wanted to get to transition at 7 a.m. even though the race didn't start until 9 a.m. We got there at 7 a.m., got great parking and were one of the first five folks in transition! Steve was loving it! Never in the history of our time together have I been the one to push the morning pace. Not on local 5k and 10k race days, not on century ride days and certainly not on Steve race days.

We had consecutive race numbers so we were right next to each other in transistion. I thought that was a really good omen; well for me anyway. Steve, being Steve, felt compelled to do double duty and checklist his area and then mine. The odd fact is that Steve is a better sherpa when he's racing with me than if he's a spectator. Probably a sign of a man whose at his best under double transistion pressure on race day.

Obviously the spectator gig works well for me even if I am racing.

At the risk of sounding like Amanada L. let me just say here that for the very first time on an event morning I was able to poo before the race. Usually it is an accomplishment that eludes me on those stressful mornings, yet the lack of it sort of lingers. I used to think AL was alittle weird about the whole poo thing. Now I think she is definitely on to something. I really felt like part of the 'load' of race day was lifted after that.

Anyway, we did a quick warmup on the bikes just to make sure everything was in working order. Then put on wetsuits and headed down the lake. The water actually warmed my frozen toes (the first good sign) it was mostly clear and fresh tasting (second good sign) and we swam a really nice relaxing 200 meters (third good sign).

Got out of the water in time for race announcements and then headed to the start. The collegiate crowd goes first and we all watched as the obviously 'used to the pool' swimmers got horribly lost without a black line and walls and swam totally off course. Then the ladies 45 and under went, mostly alot of light splashing and polite waiting.

Then Steve's wave; men 35 and up. He always seeds himself towards the front and I'm always amazed he comes out alive. Those guys are ruthless; it was hard to see anything but arms and splashing. One guy I swear was sending up a rooster tail with his kicking!

I was in the 'miscellaneous' wave. Women 45 and up, novices, relay racers, athenas and clydesdales. I seeded myself in the back (this is only my second open water swim race after all) and the gun went off. I had planned to try a bit of drafting and hung on with the group for a while. The problem was that I could not see a damn thing but them in front of me. If they veered off course, I was going to be going right with them. Not knowing these folks or their navigational skills, but armed with the knowledge that they could be old ladies or novices, I decided to let them go, slow down and just swim alone.

At the first bouy I had a momentary panic attack. I don't know why; there was no obvious reason. I don't really believe in reincarnation but my fear and phobia in the water since learning to swim last March makes me think I must have drowned in a former life. A wave of desperation just came out of nowhere. I almost stopped, decided not to stop but swam for a few moments completely disappointed in the realization that I would not be able to be a triathlete because I couldn't control this primal fear of the water. I can only describe it as an overwhelming instinctive sense that if I don't get out, I'm going to die. This time I swam anyway, in Morgantown I gave in and stopped. This time the feeling went away. YAHOO!!! I do get to be a triathlete, I do get to be a triathlete!!!

The rest of the swim was just perfect. I saw the police boat enough to know I was close to last but not enough to actually think I was last. I finished in 43 minutes; within 6 seconds of beating Sarah's Morgantown swim time which was my secondary goal and killed my Morgantown swim time of an embarassing 1:06 which had been my primary goal.

The bike was awesome. A very hilly course, not quite parkway hills but much bigger than williamsburg hills; but perfect roads the whole way! I loved it. I stayed aero more often than not which is something I usually have a hard time with during races.

As I started the run, Steve was finishing the race so I got to see him finish. I love watching him race so that was awesome and as usual he looked focused and strong.

I always feel better running after biking then I ever do just heading out for a run. I never do bricks in training but never have a problem with transitioning from bike to run. So I felt really good at the start of the run. Around mile 4 I started feeling tired, the course was always either up or down. My run was slow but still much better than Morgantown.

All in all my first successful triathlon experience and I loved it. This winter it's master's swim and definite weight training.

Even Kitty expressed surprise and delight at my successful finish:

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Time Machine...

My oldest daughter was born when I was a mere 19 years old. I didn't run then, unless it was to the corner 7/11 for cigarettes. She's beautiful though, both inside and out. She's a mom herself now..

Sarah came much later. I was 30 years old and a runner. I ran through my entire pregnancy actually. They told me it was a boy so I envisioned this tiny little track star or football player already in training. It was really great running together; her on the inside, me doing the work. And even though she wasn't a boy, she is an athlete and in my eyes, the brightest star:

The biggest joys in my life and the deepest sorrows have come from being a parent. Kids grow up and they make choices you don't agree with, sometimes choices you know are dead wrong. Sometimes all you can do is be there and be ready (when asked) to offer advice and give hugs.

But watching them grow into adults is lovely. I am so proud of Shannon and her devotion to her son. I am so proud of Sarah and her warrior spirit. Sometimes I watch my daughters and am inspired myself to be a better mom, a better grandma, a braver athlete.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kayak Adventure

Kayaked to a deserted island Saturday:
With my best friend!

To Do List: Calf raises and tanning bed!

Driftwood is cool.

Sunday, August 31, 2008 of those...

When I was a kid, my parents, (especially my mom) would always tell me how my sister had to work so much harder than I did for her grades. This was how my mom explained the fact that my sister basically hated me; because I was, in theory, smarter than she was. Maybe it was true. I certainly never studied. I barely did homework and would easily manage a B in most every class. Every class except P.E. that is.

I hated P.E. I hated the way I looked in that stupid gym outfit and I truely and with passion hated running around that stupid track, especially in front of boys. I sucked at any sport we were forced to learn and in true pity party fashion, was always the last one picked for any team. Really, LAST! Adults called me an "underachiever"; Loser girl in my head called me a loser.

Of course with each passing decade perspective changes. I've read enough books, sat through enough sermons and even had enough therapy sessions to realize that we all have different gifts and talents; no one is a "loser'. I just haven't got much inherent talent as an athlete. Like my sister in school, I have to really really work for any tiny gain. And I'm not just talking just about intervals, stroke focus and base building. I still have to work to stifle the voice of Loser highschool girl who took up residence in my head some 30 years ago and has, despite the books, sermons and therapy sessions, refused to leave. Unlike my sister, I don't hate athletes who are more talented than I am. That would be unproductive. I've got my sights set on that damn "Loser" girl in my head.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hill of a good time!

So I decided to head west with friends anyway, brought my Giant since my cervelo is out of commission for a while. The Giant is a decent bike, it even has a triple chainring. But I decided epic climbing was not how I wanted to reaquaint myself with it. So Giant and I rode the Blue Ridge Parkway. That turned out to be an absolutely wonderful choice. I got up there at 7 a.m. and had the entire place to myself, just me and the butterflies, for two hours! The BRE century folks started showing up going in the opposite direction at around 9:30a.m. or so.

As a cyclist, I really like acknowledging other cyclists on the road; a wave of the hand, nod of the head, something that shows some solidarity in the face of what seems like constant harassment from non cyclists. But Sunday's crowd on the Blue Ridge took the 'cyclists' wave' to the extreme! Every single one of the approximately 100 cyclists heading south as I was heading north waved, nodded, some even hollered 'hello'! Which was great, except they were descending a particularly long climb, I was ascending that same particularly long climb. I felt obliged to return the acknowledgment because its one of my pet peeves when cyclists don't return that wave!! I was pretty damn happy when I finally turned around and was heading in the same direction as all my new cycling friends!

The Kevlinator had managed to score a beautiful condo at the top of Wintergreen and when I returned at noon I had the whole place to myself for about two hours. I'm sure the place is beautiful during ski season but I have to think it was even better when it's not cold. Great workout, a deck with beautiful absolutely perfect Sunday!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Grating Guerranimals...

Lately I've been having trouble distinguishing a:

From a:

Now I know that might seem a bit strange. You might be thinking, Gee I knew she was getting older, pulling out those reading glasses more often, but a Rhino and a Jackass? Not to hard to tell apart right? Let me tell you my friend, truely that depends on the circumstances. In certain circumstances, a Rhino has an uncanny ability to resemble a braying Jackass; identical twins even.

Let me give you an example (to truely comprehend the Rhino/Jackass connection, you'll have to read both pages; but its a good read)I can't seem to create a clickable URL so you'll have to cut and paste till I figure it out:

Fork'd up!

How could something this beautiful be bad? I was supposed to ride it this weekend; the Blue Ridge Extreme. Not sure I want to be doing anything extreme on a bike whose steering tube could break at any minute. I'm already a big time DC (descending chicken!) without having to worry about whether I'll be able to navigate an S curve at 30+ miles per hour. I have the Giant, it even has a triple; but it also does a pretty scary version of the Harlem Shake on every descent. Not good if you're a DC!

Sarah and Shane are counting on having a "let's pretend the condo is ours" night and will be really bummed when I say I'm not going. (I understand the whole "Yea! Parents out of town!! thing, I really do. but it is sort of disheartening when I tell her we're going out of town this weekend and she says "Really!" with the enthusiasm of a lottery winner.)

Maybe I can plan a 'forks fixed fall fun ride'?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Never Ending Story.....

When you have kids, you have this idea that there is a beginning and a sort of end to parenting. You spend lots of years raising them and then they go off and finish the job themselves. Well at least that's what I thought. Not so! Two beautiful daughters; I'd take a bullet in the face for either one of them; still it would be nice to feel like I had gotten to the point of a 'job well done'.
There are times when it feels close, Shannon's marriage, the first three times Sarah moved out. A teasing taste of real freedom. Things are looking up I guess. At least I can bike/run/swim without having to get a babysitter. It's a start..

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Race Day!

Arriving at a race at 5:00 a.m. when your wave doesn't start until 7:55 a.m. is just insane. So we decided to get here at 4:30 a.m. so we could catch the extra half hour sleep in the car!

Swim start was cold, temps in the upper 50's and windy. Steve was nervous. I could tell because he put on his wetsuit, told me he was going in the lake to warm up and when he turned to go I could see that his wetsuit was velcroed at the neck but was also unzipped! I said "honey, don't you want to zip your wetsuit up?" The he went in the woods to pee, and came out without his cap and googles. He was definitely in airhead mode this morning.

He had a great swim though. I didn't have my watch but I'm thinking he finished in a little over 30 minutes. He was only 1:30 down from the leader in his age group getting out on the bike. The leader who, as it turns out, is some french canadian guy who was in the cabin right next to us! I heard his wife talking to Steve our first morning here. As soon as I heard he had won his age group at IM Brazil I was checking results. His times are so close to Steve's that it is unreal. He is a bit faster in the swim but not on the bike, and not on the run. It should make for a very exciting race.

I'm heading out now to catch the bike finish. I can hear the pros finishing and I was so excited to see Chrissie Wellington and Simon Lessing but honestly once the race got going the only racers I'm even thinking about are Steve and the guys in Steve's age group that are ahead of him.

Pics to come.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Things are getting tense.

I've lived through plenty of pre race weeks with Steve by now. The little races aren't too bad. The ironman races were the worst.

Anyway, I know him now and I'm used to the routine so I no longer automatically assume that he has come to the realization that he actually hates me, feels the walls closing in and probably won't come home from work tomorrow...or ever!

It's not personal, I see that now. He's actually stressed over race day. Cool Hand Luke, former Marine Corp Pilot and 4 time IM finisher is apprehensive, anxious, tight and uneasy!
Me, when I'm stressed, unhappy or not feeling well, my mouth runneth over. Steve is the opposite, his mouth closeth up, in a sort of straight, tense line that opens only slightly so that he can tell me, through clenched teeth, that he has to be in bed at 9:00 p.m. sharp, that we'd better be packed and ready to leave at ____ sharp; (the time mysteriously seems to get earlier every time he announces it), that I need to be quiet, the cats need to be quiet, that the world had better just stop whatever it's doing because otherwise we are all going to RUIN HIS RACE!!!

Pre race nerves are a definite part of my lexicon now...let the games begin!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

An Edge of the Cliff kind of guy...

Timberman Taper Time!

Not for me, but for Steve. He's ready that's for sure. I don't want to jinx him at all but I've never seen him look stronger on the bike, faster on the swim or more relaxed while running at super speed. He took this year to focus on speed and intensity - no ironman for the first year since I've known him. And boy has it paid huge dividends.

He's been on the podium in 99% of the races he's done this year. I'd tell people "Steve won his age group or Steve was 2nd overall!" and they'd practically yawn..."yeah what else is new". I don't care if he does it a million times, to me it's always impressive and amazing.

Maybe it's because I do what he does and I know how hard it is to do it well. Okay I don't know how hard it is to do it well, I know how hard it is to TRY and do it well! I see how hard he works at it and how disciplined he is about planning and executing all his training. I've suggested a coach before, just because it seems like the thing to do. He refutes the idea. He plans all his training and he wins! That alone is impressive and amazing.

Maybe some of the "yawn" attitude comes from a lack of knowledge about the sport. At church Sunday a woman from our gel group asked me if Steve was "running in that race" this weekend because he wasn't with me. I feel like sending an email to everyone in the group explaining that he's not just 'running in a race'; he's swimming 1.5 miles, then he's going to bike 56 miles and then he'll run a half marathon. Not only will he finish; (that in itself is a pretty underappreciated feat!), he will finish well.

I've noticed that when you love someone people tend to tune you out when you talk about the person's accomplishments, wonderfullness, etc. It's like they think that just because you love them you are automatically unable to be objective. I don't believe that. I am objective about the people I love, I know they are not perfect. But I also am well aware of their virtues and achievements.

It can be hard sometimes to live with someone who is as focused, disciplined and goal driven as Steve; especially if you are the spontaneous, happy go lucky type like me. But I am also quick to realize that it is his ability to focus on the goals he sets for himself and his willingness to do whatever it takes to achieve those goals that makes him the man he is. So yeah, I see the ying and the yang of it. I know he's not perfect. But I also know that he is an amazing man and an amazing athlete.

Come Sunday, the folks at Timberman are going to know it too!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Preacher's leaving dammit!!

Damn it! As usual I'm the last to know. Vince Antonucci is leaving Forefront. Just like that..leaving! Apparently it would seem that there are those on the strip in Vegas who need a preacher more than we do. Okay so maybe that's true. Still! Now what am I supposed to do? What about me!! Me, Me, ME!!

Damn it!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kitty news

In an effort to like my kitty better; her name is now Little Scrappy by the way and it suits her perfectly, I trimmed her claws today. Those razor sharp claws were definitely coming between us. It worked. And not just for me. I think the whole family likes her better without talons!

Anyway the two kittys seem to be developing a sort of love/hate relationship.

Good News - Bad News

Some good things:

I swam 1,700m in the pool tonight; and even more incredible; I liked it!

I worked a hot dog stand at the ampitheater last week during the Warped tour with some folks from my gel group; earned money for the homeless people and had alot of fun. (all part of my effort to prove that it is possible to have fun without swimming/biking/running or talking about swimming/biking/running)

I have a great new student. A 'little person'. She has deformed arms so she can't swim the way I'm trying to learn to swim, but she is part of the reason I felt so great in the pool tonight. She gave me great advice -"you gotta trust yourself in the water". (out of the mouths of babes...and little people)

I checked off almost everything on my 'to do' list this week and did every single swim/bike/run in my training plan.

Some Bad things:

Sarah went to Florida for the next 4 days; I miss her already!

In my quest to study the entire bible (which I started 6 weeks ago); I'm still plugging my way through Genesis! (at this rate I'll be 90 before I even get to the new testament!)

I keep forgetting to do the work in the on line class that I'm taking!

I really do not like my new kitty - not at all!

I haven't been a superhero all week : {

Vince is leaving to start a church on the Las Vegas Strip! (I actually cried over this one!)

Goals for next week:

More good things...Less bad things...

Monday, July 21, 2008


Steve started calling me "Super M" because my exploits down at the courthouse really made me feel like a superhero! I was saving people from Jackass towing!! Sort of like the Dark Knight on a smaller scale.

Unlike Batman; a superhero alone in his mighty deeds. I'm surrounded by superheros aka Ironmen! Congratulations to all my superhero/ironman friends. Kate who came damn close to breaking the 12 hour mark on her very first IM in Lake Placid no less! Kevin (or the Green Kevlin as he is affectionately known) for completing his third IM in torrential conditions; and Superhero Steve Herron for his Lake Placid IM win this year after a heartbreaking DNF last year!
I was glued to my laptop all day yesterday and it was awesome! Thanks you guys for a truly exciting, inspiring day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Towing the line

Well I'm not at Colonial Beach this weekend and I'm not racing. Do I feel badly about it? Sort of...I would have liked the chance to try another swim start before the Patriot Oly in September. Maybe I'll do the sprint at Timberman. One thing for sure, I'll be getting into that lake at Placid next weekend, hopefully more than once. I haven't had a chance to open water swim since Morgantown which made me a bit reluctant to try it in a race tomorrow. I sent Steve off on his own. I need a weekend when I don't have to pack and I don't have to take a long car ride.

We had a good ride this morning. He said it was going to be an 'easy' ride. Of course it didn't turn out that way. Which only confirmed my decision not to race. I haven't tapered at all this week and I don't want to.

Anyway the real story of the week is a heck of a lot more interesting than my non-racing antics.

Sarah had to go to court Thursday appealing a guilty charge for failure to yield from her accident in March. No way we could let that one stand when she already has a speeding ticket (and she's only been driving a year!) So I insisted she appeal it. The officer dismissed the charges...awesome!! But then we come out of court to find our car gone; towed actually. There had been no parking in the courthouse parking lot so we parked in the Harris Teeter across the street, as did several other unfortunate souls. Here's the kicker though: The no parking signs were small enough to be almost nonexistent.
Sarah and I had to call Steve and he had to leave work, drive all the way out to the courthouse and then take us all the way back 25 miles to S. Witchduck road. Oh and let's not forget the $125 we had to hand over to these fools.
I was furious. I had not seen any sign. I told the woman who answered the phone there were no signs. (Later I found them after significant searching). I asked her how they knew the people who were towed were at the courthouse...she tells me that someone from Jack's sits in a car and watches people park and leave! And he couldn't tell me I wasn't allowed to park there!?! How f*&!king low! I felt so helpless, what could I do? I had to have my car back and these idiots had it! They were rude and vicious as junkyard dogs. One of the drivers did his best to goad Steve into a fist fight.
Think, think I told myself. How can I get these people where it hurts? Small claims court?

Remember that story when Jesus gets all pissed off because they're selling stuff in the temple. He trashes the place and yells at them for making his Father's house into a den of thieves? The way that story is told in Sunday school you come away thinking he went into a rage. But it isn't like that in the bible. In the bible, he went away and made a rope. He made a rope. He was mad, but He didn't react immediately to his anger. He thought about what to do and how He could make the most impact and He made a rope.

I thought about what I could do and how I could make the most impact. Hit them where it hurts, their pocket book!! So I decided that I will go the Harris Teeter parking lot every day and warn people from 8:30 to 9:30 not to park there. Jacks Towing will not make one more penny from this scam if I can help it. I started at 8:30 Friday morning.
The girl from Jack's showed up at about 8:50. She sits in her truck and calls in license plate numbers. Only Friday, there weren't any to call in because I ran around that parking lot telling people not to park there and pointing her out to them. She tried to intimidate me by taking my picture twice with a cell phone. But I saved at least 20 people $125 that day!! And I'm just getting started!
I am beginning to realize that this is quite a lucrative venture. At 9:30 I left Harris Teeter and returned to my car which I had parked in the courthouse parking lot. People were driving in circles in the front of courthouse looking for parking and yet curiously access to the overflow lot was blocked by orange cones in front of the Sheriff's office! Blocked! I contacted the clerk of the court, the sheriff's office and the first precinct. No one had any explanation for the appearance of those cones. Mysteriously, the cones were gone when I circled the parking lot in my own car at 10:30!?
Could someone in the city municipal center be getting some sort of kickback from this tow company? Personally I have no doubt and my resolve is now stronger than before. The people being towed are working people, pregnant women, servicemen and people who obviously can't afford the extra $125.
While it may be take a much more concerted effort to get Harris Teeter to increase their very minimal signage surely the courthouse should be clearly marked. And access to the overflow parking should be clearly marked and available.
I'm heading back out Monday. This time I'm taking pictures. I am starting to feel like a Superhero!!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Get back on that horse!

When Sarah was 12, she was a bit chubby. I was running 60 miles a week and had a chubby kid at home. I decided we should both try roller blading. We loved it once we got the hang of it (no small feat). We would go every night after I got done working and skate in this neighborhood next to the rec center. There was one street in particular that was awesome because it was smooth and closed to traffic after dark. We loved that street.
One night Sarah found a little baby frog and was skating with the frog in her hand. Sometimes when you rollerblade, you fall. That night Sarah fell with the frog in her hand. Being Sarah, her first thought was for the frog; so she fell with her hand outstretched so she wouldn't squish him. The frog was fine, Sarah took a hit to the chin that took 22 stitches to close up.
Two days later I had her back out on those rollerblades. She was so mad, she didn't want to skate, she was scared, her chin still had stitches in it, I was a 'mean old' mom... But she skated, she had to, I made her. I always heard, you fall off the horse, you gotta get right back on or you'll never get back on...
I guess if I'm going to follow my own wisdom, I'd better sign up for the Colonial Beach Olympic triathlon this weekend. Steve's doing it. The swim is only 1,000m not 1,500. The horrible experience of that last swim is still on my mind. I think the only way to get past it is to get back on the horse before I have time to think about it.
I can think of at least 10 reasons not to do it; I guess that means I'd better do it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Too Many Kittys

We got a new kitty yesterday. We already had one kitty, her name is Kitty. She was getting slightly neurotic from weekends spent home alone and she really needed some company to keep her from going insane. My idea, not Kitty's. Kitty actually doesn't seem too grateful at all. In fact, I'd say at this point she's rather pissed. Of course it probably doesn't help that we are so challenged in kitty naming that we are calling the second kitty, Kitty! Kitty is now Big Kitty. Big Kitty and Little Kitty. Good thing Steve and I never had kids!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Mediexpress Alias Mountaineer Tri

I knew I was nervous about this race, but I didn't know how nervous until the gun went off at the swim start!

Steve and I drove up to Morgantown Saturday morning, a good 7 hour drive, and got in with plenty of time to check in the hotel, get our race packets and check our bikes into transistion. We even had dinner; all before 6 p.m. We decided to take a quick drive around the bike course and I'm glad we did. The roads are pretty bad out there and it was good to know ahead of time where some of the holes and mini mudslides were.

Woke up feeling alittle tired, made some strong hotel coffee and drank a good solid cup of it. I couldn't eat though. We'd had a pretty big dinner the day before and I just really wasn't hungry. Got a shower and my stuff together and off we went. I set up my little transistion space and then horrors!! did something to my swim goggles to cause some sort of permanent fog to the left lens. I ran over to Steve in a panic and luckily he was able to fix it so I could see. Sarah and Shane came in at about 7:30 a.m.; Sarah still trying to push us to take the flat pedals off her bike and put her clipless on at the last minute! On race day morning! Uhhh NO! Grabbed my wetsuit and headed out to watch Steve get in the water and warm up.

I wasn't happy with the idea of jumping off the dock and starting the swim in the water. I got no chance at all to get wet or warm up before my start. I also was a bit nervous at the idea that I had never swam further than about 650m in open water and this swim was 1,500m. Steve came back from warming up and was telling me something about a current on the way out that would make me feel like I was going really slow. Intuition told me that he was nervous for me. Maybe his intuition told him I was in for some trouble. His intuition was right.

Sarah and I started together because all the women started in one wave. She was so cute and excited not really at all nervous. That girl is unnaturally comfortable in the water. I on the other hand was feeling really constricted by my wetsuit. I felt like I could not breathe even when we were standing on the dock. We jumped in the water on command and the minute my head went under I started to feel a panicky feeling. 5..4..3..2..1 and off we went, well off they went, I was floundering almost right from the start. I could not seem to catch my breath, I was hyperventilating in a big way. I made it around the first bouy, about 100 m and then started to backstroke. The ladies were long gone. The last wave, men 50+ swam around me and around the bouy and they too were gone. The lone wheelchair athlete backstroked by me and I was all alone.

One of the lifeguard girls on a paddle board came over and asked if I was okay. I was hanging on to the bouy for dear life; I was not okay. I was quitting. I had decided I could not -absolutely could not do this. It was crazy to sign up for a race with a swim distance farther than I could comfortably go in the pool, let alone in open water. I couldn't put my face in the water without panicking and there was no way to doggy paddle the entire swim. I would quit, have a nice run and then cheer for the rest of my family, that's what I would do. I told the paddle board girl I thought I might not make it. She said 'there's no shame in having a bad day, if you have to quit then that's what you have to do, no one even has to know'. Okay, I told her, how about if I try again and then I'll decide. We had this same conversation about 4 more times over the next 25 minutes or so. That's about how long it took me to get down to the turn around point.
Somewhere along that way I decided to count my strokes. I decided that each time I got to 100 strokes I'd take a break. That's when I actually started making some progress. I was actually getting somewhere and I could tell I was getting somewhere which gave me confidence in the idea that I could maybe get all the way there if I just kept swimming. Every once in a while I'd get a face full of water and have to fight the panic again, but somewhere along the way 100 strokes became 200 strokes and the end was in sight. Of course I had to drag myself up on a dock with way too tired arms and there was not even a shadow of another swimmer by the time I got there but I made it!

Not a single bike left in transition when I got there. I thought about Steve's advice to treat this as a training day and don't stress and what Leslie told me, stay in the moment and deal with the task at hand. Got on my bike and got the hell out of there. Despite the rough course, the geese, the hills and the rain I had a great bike.

Off the bike before I knew it and out on the run. Unlike the second run in the duathlons I've done, this run felt great. I see that there are definite advantages to starting with a swim. I hardly felt the transition from bike to run, actually I love the transition from bike to run. I feel better on a run off the bike then I ever do on a run by itself; how weird is that? And I really did have a great run today. Of course it was slow, because I run slow maybe someday that will change but for today I ran my normal pace. But I felt really good and I was having fun!

I was dead last in my age group (an hour swim in an oly will do that to you), but Sarah took first in her age group! I was so proud of her and I'm quite sure she was pretty proud of herself.

I had fun despite the rough beginning. I've learned from the experience for sure. I need to work work work on my swimming and especially my open water swimming. Alittle strength training and flexibility work wouldn't hurt either.
Every time I do something like this it makes me admire my best friend and husband even more. I've seen him do two ironman mass starts, one an 'in the water' Kona start and he's just freaking amazing! He might be nervous, but he never shows it and he never lets it get to him. He's a wonderful inspiration and a great supporter too. Even when he's stressed about his own race, (did I mention he did the half and took second in his age group?) he will take the time to make sure my tires are pumped, my swim goggles clear and I have as much advice as he can think to give me. Thanks Wheezy! Just for being you!!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

I think I can..I think I can...

Just one month ago I finished the Mountains of Misery century. I didn't go into the ride with a goal but about 20 miles in decided I could finish in 8:30 if I strategized correctly. Not only did I come damn close, 8:45, but I perservered through what felt like imminent death as I gasped for air all the way up the last 4 mile, 2,000 foot climb. I pictured at least five bail out tactics in my head as my heart rate crested what had to be the 200 bpm mark. But I pushed on, I made it to the top and I didn't walk!
I keep telling myself if I could do that, I can do some dinky little 1,500m swim with a mere approximately 300 other people in a nasty river with no current to speak of even if I do have to swim left and I only breathe right. Right?!
To think of hard things and say, "I can't" is sure to mean "Nothing done." To refuse to be daunted and insist on saying, "I think I can," is to make sure of being able to say triumphantly, "I thought I could, I thought I could."
I...think...I...can....I..think..I..can...I.think.I.can..I think I can, I think I can.......

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Caution - Slow swimmer ahead!

It does get easier right? I've been swimming for four months now and still have trouble doing 200 meters straight through. Of course the first month I was anaerobic every time I swam over the deep end; now it only happens occasionally. Oh and, someone stole my 'power' swimsuit from the rec center too. I left it in the shower stall for one day, when I came back for it it was gone. Nothing in lost and found, just gone. It was an awesome suit, black with little skulls and crossbones all over it. It screamed "I might be slow but I'm bad!". And I'm pretty sure it scared off the sharks in the bay too. I mean who steals a wet bathing suit?
I'm trying not to be hard on myself and to take notice of the little advancements. I'm getting the breathing part down pretty well actually and can sometimes even do a whole length breathing every fourth stroke. Coordinating kicking and stroking at the same time still eludes me but I'm working on it.
My first olympic distance triathlon is this weekend. I've only ever done two sprints and one of those was a pool swim. 1,500m is a LONG way!! I will have a wetsuit, there is definitely some solace in that. What will I do if I get punched in the face, kicked or, horrors! pushed under water against my will?!? These are my fears.

The bike course will probably be wet, since they're predicting rain for both Saturday and Sunday. Any other time that would weigh heavily on my mind. Right now though all I can think about is how am I going to sight when I breathe to the right and the course is a rectangle that goes to the left!
Mon River vs Missy....It's on!!