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.