Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Building One's Blog

Takes a lot of time. I read so many blogs now--and I haven't even taken the time to comment on them or to add them to my own site. I need to do this. I want to do this. But... Here's the thing: I feel like I'm busting into people's clique of friends when I post a comment. 

Know what I mean? It's like the whole tri-blogger community is this huge group of friends and how do you break in? I think you break in by just commenting all the time and making yourself a nuisance, but I'm not sure. Also, you must make your blog super cool and FULL. 

By full I mean it should have lots of cool little lists and bars and a chart of one's workouts and those cool little photos boxes on which you click to take a step into someone else's universe. Also, you need a cool header--a cool title (which I don't have--mine's too insipid-too whiny.) I don't even know how to make a cool header--like Sara's from Trisara-Tops (such a great name) or MoMo's (love the Gerber Daises and the black and pink). How do you make a header like that?? Why do I even want to reach out? Why does this whole tri-blogger thing appeal to me so much? 

 I think it's because it is a way to reach out and connect with people around the only thing I have that is all mine and outside of my identity as a teacher/wife/mom. I exist in this super small suburban universe, and it's hard to break out. I am a mom. with brown hair. I drive my kids around in my Toyota mini-van. I teach Island of the Blue Dolphins. I listen to NPR or Books on Tape instead of music in the car. I don't have too many shots of Jager on Friday night when I'm out with my girlfriends partying it up. I don't go out on Friday nights with my girlfriends anymore. I only meet them at Starbucks and chat about being a suburban mom. I worry about hosting book club because of the stains and dog hair on my couch. My husband and I sleep in a king sized bed. I wear clogs to work. I can count on one hand the movies I've seen in the theater since my first child was born 6.5 years ago. I could go on. 

  Instead I'll say that I'm looking forward to my run tomorrow afternoon--during the hour I've carved out between work and home. I will play "Eye of the Tiger" and "Don't Stop Believing" and pound the earth and feel alive.

Monday, November 26, 2007

What Now?

I ran 4 today in 8 min pace which is fast for moi. It's the Nano. How can you jog when "It's Raining Men?" comes on? 

Last week I did the same loop three minutes slower than I did today. CRAZY. I ran 37 miles last week--which is the most I've run in one week in a long, long time. I feel great--ready to attack those awesome long winter races they have up here in the north. Unfortunately, I don't know how many of my favorites races I'll be able to run this year. 

I emailed Cait scads of information about me, my current training and my goals. I mentioned the three billion races I'd like to do in 2008, but I don't have high hopes that I will be able to do even close to what I'd do if I hadn't decided to become serious about this triathlon business. 

I'm so excited to meet with Cait and get started with working with her, but I'm also sort of sad. There is a certain joy in planning your workout week and in deciding exactly what races you want to do and when. It will be hard for me to trust her and defer to her about what I should be doing day in and day out. But I will. I've done it my way, and I need to know if done another way I can improve substantially, stun myself and stun the world. 37 year old woman with three kids wins TIMBERMAN! Where did this girl come from? Can you believe she never considered herself an athlete until just recently? She ROCKS! Her parents and husband and kids must be so, so proud. 

Yes. Well. Anyway. I'm not just sad about giving up racing every weekend. It's that I will have to give up having running be the priority. Bike will take the front seat in my training. Daily running keeps me sane, and I'm scared. On the other hand, I am psyched to begin something totally new. I know she'll start me with weight training, and because I am little and powerless, I will actually be working to get bigger and buff. That is FUN. I've always wanted to have big muscles. I've spent my life either short and soft or short and little, but never short and ROCK SOLID, baby. I don't know what's up with the caps tonight. 

 I've been reading Locked and Loaded because the girl who authors it, Kim, is coached by Tim, who works with Cait and Jesse at QT2 Systems. After reading it I feel like a snorefest of a person. She really is locked and loaded. Alas, my partying days are over. I'm a mom. I'm a teacher. I'm almost 40. My hair is brown. The last time I was seriously loaded was in like 1995. I won't attempt to calculate how old my new coach, or her boyfriend, or Jesse, or this girl Kim were then. I've decided to run every single day until Cait gets back to me with a tentative plan for the season. I'm going to rock out to every cheesy 80s song I can get my hands on. I love ya, Ange! Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Gotta Love Green Day

I had a rocking 14.4 mile run on Thanksgiving morning. For me, running long on Thanksgiving has become a rite. It allows me to feel super fit and strong on a day that in the past made me feel indulgent and blobby. I take my family to to Maine for Thanksgiving to see my extended family, and so an added bonus of this run is that I get to run there. There's nothing like running on the totally quiet, misty-cold roads of coastal Maine in November. 

When I first became a runner I couldn't go out for a jog without my walkman; I had tapes devoted totally to running and these tapes got me through those years during which running 30 minutes felt endless. 

When I met my now husband he alluded to the fact that "real" runners didn't run with musical "support." (He was a college runner--a steeple chaser--and had strong beliefs about what distinguished the true runner from the jogger...youthful bologna I now realize..) However, at the time I both wanted to impress him and I didn't want to be a faux runner. I became used to running without music, and I never picked it up again. Walkmans became extinct, and I never upgraded to the I-Pod when they came around. I also never got a disc man--that piece of technology that existed between the walkman and the I-Pod--. So when Andy got my a Nano as a surprise gift I was pleasantly surprised, but I didn't think much of it. It had been so long (15 years!) since I had listened to music while I ran. Would I even like it? I figured perhaps I'd use it at the gym when I got annoyed with the sound of people and machines. Oh. My. God. I have been missing out on a whole world of inspiration for all of these years. I took the Nano out for my Thanksgiving run, and listened to it the entire two hours. At one point I was running down a quiet road, the tall pines all around me, and the song Wake me up when September Ends by Green Day came on. The music builds to a peak, and I just got so blissed out during the build. It was orgasmic. No lie. I felt so in touch and alive and strong. Words really diminish the power of the feeling I had. 

It got me thinking that one thing I would love is to exchange playlists with other triathletes. I know very few people read this, but if you do, and you have a great running playlist will you email it to me or put it into a comment? My Nano will not take over my running completely. I love listening to the sound of my breathing in the cold quiet of winter (not so much in the summer!) and to my feet pounding the road. But rediscovering music while running has been unbelievable. 

 Thanksgiving Day Playlist: Abba-Waterloo, SOS, Knowing Me, Knowing You, Take A Chance on Me Tomorrow from Annie Fight for Your Right to Party, The Beastie Boys Beatles: Twist and Shout, I Want to Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day's Night, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Get Back, Drive My Car Billy Joel: Sometimes a Fantasy, Only the Good Die Young Whadaya Want, Casey MacGill Pour Some Sugar on Me-Def Leppard Wake Me Up When September Ends, Green Day Just Like Heaven, the Cure Good Riddance, Green Day American Idiot, Green Day Nice Guys Finish Last, Green Day, Jane Says, Jane's Addiction Journey: Don't Stop Believing, Any Way You Want It, Separate Ways Michael Jackson: Beat It, PYT The Police: Roxanne, So Lonely, Bring on the Night Under Pressure, Queen and David Bowie The Ghost of Tom Joad, Rage Against the Machine Van Halen: The Cradle Will Rock, Panama, Dreams

Saturday, November 17, 2007

New Coach!

It looks like I have secured a coach for 2008. I'm really excited. Her name is Caitlin Shea-Kenney. It's taken me a long time to figure the coaching bit out. I knew what I was looking for but it took time to find it. Other coaches I researched or spoke to included DeDe Greisbauer, Kurt Perham, Dave Nerrow, and a few local coaches (who looked truly excellent) through Carmichael Training Systems. I was most star struck by DeDe, who is World Class (recently number 7 at Kona!)

Caitlin is a local professional triathlete who I have admired from a distance for a long time now. She works with Jesse Kropelnicki and Tim Snow at QT2 Training Systems. Jesse made a plan for me last year when I first took up triathlon, and I really like working with him, so I decided to see if they had any openings.

The other exciting thing that came from this is that Jesse asked me to join a team he (and Cait and Tim) are forming that is associated with Fast Splits, a local racing team. I know (or know of) many people on this team, and so I'm eager to get to know them and have the opportunity to train with some of them. Sounds fun.

Jesse also agreed to show me (or have Caitlin show me) how to draft on the swim. I have tried this at several races, but it never seems to work for me. I end up getting too close and wanting to pass the person I am attempting to draft off of, or I can't keep up with the person. How do you find the exact drafting match in the chaos of the open water race? It's a mystery to me.

Although I have made numerous lists of the different races I want to do in 2008, I plan to allow Caitlin to dictate what is good/not good for my training given my focus on Timberman as my "A" race.
The only races I've signed up for so far are races which I know will sell out:
1. Timberman 70.3--my "A" race
2. Mooseman Olympic in early June
3. Cohasset Sprint in late June. The Cohasset sprint is small and beautiful, and may already by sold out. It will be Andy's first triathlon--and I can't wait! He's going to love it and he's going to be so good at it.

My running club (GNRC) (Yes--that's me on the homepage! :) is hosting a race on 12/1, a 5K, so I will be running that. It's gonna hurt. I'm not in shape for a 5K (or any race really) but- oh well. If I race decently I will win our Grand Prix, which is very fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Training to Race, Not Racing to Train

This piece of advice keeps coming up on my radar screen. It is a piece of advice with which I have a hard time. I think this is because in order to put it into practice, I must change my mindset from one of a recreational runner/racer, to one who chases "A" races, PRs, age group wins, and slots to Clearwater and Kona.

These two mentalities are extremely different. I actually think the recreational runner/racer mindset is a more healthy and life-embracing mindset. When one adopts the chaser mentality (for lack of a better term) he/she becomes increasingly self-focused. Working out is about a goal, and folding in the social, spontaneous, carefree disposition of the recreational athlete hinders movement toward that goal.

For the last few years I have been racing with reckless abandon. My GNRC group will be go to a race and I can't help but join in. The more people racing the harder it is to say no. I know so many people at races now it's become a huge party--a party which allows me to stay fit, socialize, and get away from the humdrum of doing laundry, making lunches, and correcting papers. Many of my runner friends also love running tough races--the tougher the better. We run a tough race, bond about the conditions, the hills, the distance--we share horror stories over a post-race beer or during training runs for weeks post-race. (Chicago stories, for example, have only recently abated.) These friends race all year, no break, no periodization. It's not about that. It's a life-long hobby--not necessarily a deliberate, calculated movement to achieving self-perfection. PR-ing is fun, but not the point and usually not realistic given aging, non-stop racing, and an insatiable appetite to run, run, run.

So can I change? Do I want to? Sometimes I feel so clear about this. I think, yes, I want to change. I never have tried to maximize my potential. I want to know what I'm capable of, I want to know if there is a ceiling for my achievement. I want to do this before I begin sliding down the age hill. I am 37. I don't have much time. Other times I take a step back and look at the time I spend thinking and planning my workouts, the money I spend on equipment and coaching (not yet--but it's in the "plan"), the time my focus takes away from my family and work, or the serious nature of the pursuit, and I think, What are you doing? Why can't you just play? Why does it have to be about maximizing potential? Who cares if that 5k ruins your "training." It's fun--it's exciting! It's in your hometown! How can you say no?

Can I chase the dream for a few years, and then let go? If I do achieve the dream--Clearwater, Kona--will I eventually be able to let them go and return to the life of the recreational runner?

Today I met my GNRC group for a trail run. It was slow and delightful. I loved breathing in the chill, fall air. It will be hard to give up the spontaneous run in favor of the scheduled quality workout. It will be hard to give up the freedom of doing whatever, whenever, and not regretting it.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


I have been having trouble balancing work, family and training. Last night I had a dream that I was forced to take over another teacher's class, and leave my own class of sixth graders behind. I'm trying to understand what the dreams means. 

I have been fantasizing about resigning from my job lately. I love teaching, but I'm tired, I'm overwhelmed, I miss my own kids, and I am not able to do any training right now, let alone training for real. I think I may have had the dream because my subconscious was asking me not abandon the children I have taken under my wing this year at school, either mentally, or actually, or both. I have been teaching these children for two months now, and I think I have grown to care and feel responsible for them, even though I yearn to be free of that care and responsibility because I'm struggling under the weight of it. I can't give up teaching this year, and I won't. But I do need to figure out how to keep my sanity until June. 

The first thing I have done is to give up all "extras". I haven't been volunteering at my children's schools, I just gave up the position of president of my running club, I have given over website duty of my club's site to another GNRC member, and I've stopped caring that my garden needs serious help. I have a cleaning person coming every other week and I've increased the amount of childcare I get by an hour each day so I can squeeze in more work or a run. The whole thing is painful and I don't like it. I love gardening, and volunteering, and being really involved with my running club. But you can't have a career, care for your family, keep a house and train consistently if you don't streamline. This is going to have to be the year I learn to say no.