Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It Needs to Be Fun

It's no secret, since I constantly blab about it, that this year I have been sort of in a mid-life crisis. These last few weeks the crisis has been rather acute. I feel like a teenager--and, well--I've sort have been acting like one. But one good thing about the teenage years is that the desire to live life to the fullest and have fun is sort of a constant. I want to tap into that more. I know it's the reason I train and do triathlon. Triathlon is a game. It's play. It's a social outlet. It's a release. It provides me with a goal and a purpose.

However, triathlon can become, like everything else if you let it, a chore.

For me it becomes most chore-like when it's all about the training and the end result of one big race. It's generally fun to get caught up in the how-to's of training and the big race. We work on nutrition, on mindset, on the key workouts, on racing at the right time, for the right reason, at the right intensity-- all in service to the mother fucker of all goals that particular season--the A Race.

And that's fun.
Until it's not.
I believe I am a great athlete with a huge appetite for hard work and an ability to excel. (Well, I believe that usually. or maybe sometimes. okay, in theory I believe it.) I believe that if I execute my season as I should I will come out on top--whatever that may mean for me.

But I won't/can't/don't want to totally sacrifice the fun for the ultimate goal. I love to race, and NO, I'm not going to give that up because I may be a 1/2 hour faster at IM if I do. I also love food and drink (like cake, and pizza, and beer, and a nice stiff drink every once in awhile), and I also love to just take the day off sometimes and sit on my ass, and I also love to chit chat in the pool sometimes instead of moving on immediately to the next set, and sometimes I'd rather just run with my buddies at an average pace then do the workout as prescribed.

But here's the rub.

I need to have fun. I deserve to have fun.
I can't be a total and complete slave to a goal that doesn't allow me to suck joy out of every part of life--the training buddies, the racing, the food and drink, the party, sitting on my ass watching movies with my kids...

Working hard and committing to a killer goal like doing IM and doing it well is a form of sucking joy from life. But if you let it, I believe it can also suck the joy from you and leave you empty.

This is what my mid-life crisis has taught me so far.
Among other things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

2009 Racing Schedule: Approved Version or.... Yeah, Baby!

I have consulted with Jen, and I have a pretty solid race schedule set up for 2009. It includes plenty of winter road racing, plenty of room to become a zombie without racing during high training before Lake Placid, and a few end of the season races. I'm. wicked. psyched.

First I want to say that this season I'm running with/ for two teams--the Greater Norwood Running Club and Team Nor-Easter. GNRC includes some of the best running companions anyone could ever find, and Team Nor'Easter (a tri team associated with Peak Peformance In Portland, ME) lets me connect with all of my new, awesome Maine triathlon friends. It's going to be a great season. I know it.

And now....

2009 Racing Schedule

Jan. 1: Norfolk 5K
Goal: To not barf or wet my pants. To get my HR max for Jen. To not allow my heart to explode. To not hate myself for how slow I will be.

Jan. 18: Frostbite 15K
Goal: To win the top spot in our club. Two of my teammates who have outraced me here in the past cannot race that day... so maybe I have a chance. You never know. Right Mel? Right Maureen?

Jan. 25 Boston Prep 16 Miler in Derry, NH
Goal: To not allow myself to give into my extreme need to race and just allow myself to do this as a training run. I've never been able to achieve this, but I will really try, because the week after that I want to really kick butt.

Feb. 1 Cape Classic 10 Miler, Cape Elizabeth, ME
Goal: To PR. This is ambitious, but it's my goal. To outwit, outpace, and plain outrun people who think they have a chance at beating me, but who are downright kidding themselves.

Feb. 8: Back to Maine to compete in a Cape Masters Swim Meet
Goal: to enter every event, and to PR in every event. This is possible since I haven't done a swim meet since I was 17 years old.
Me versus 17 year-old-me. The lowdown-
She was a wimp. I am not.
She was heavy and lazy. I am not.
She was young. I am not.
She was nubile, fresh, alive and held hope for a perfect life. I am over that.

I think the current me has a good shot to smoke the past me.

Feb. 15: Foxborough Flat 10 Miler, Foxborough, MA.
Yes, I know you are realizing that I'm racing every weekend. Exactly. Perfect.
Goal: to PR at the 10 mile distance. I think this is possible given the only other 10 milers I've done are the Cape Classic 10 miler and the Apple Harvest 10 miler. Both are really hilly, and this course, as stated in its title, is flat.

March 15: New Bedford 1/2 Marathon, New Bedford, MA
Goal: Okay, I really dislike this course. My goal here is to make up with it. Last time I was there I swore I'd never return. However, it's a Grand Prix event, and I plan to be a contender this year in the Grand Prix, so it's a must.

June 6: Lancaster Half Iron or the the New Revolution 1/2 Iron in CT. Not sure which yet. Certain friends want to know, though, right Mel? So I better decide.

Maybe a Sprint or an Oly between June 6 and July 26. Not sure yet. It depends on how much of an energy hole I am in given my training for L.P. I've been told I won't be able to/want to do much. I've been told I will be miserable, exhausted and dead. Am I twisted in that I can't wait for this?

June 25-28 Lake Placid Training Camp with Team Nor'easter--and with Ange! not a race, I know, but I'm really excited about it.

July 26. IM Lake Placid
Goal 1: to finish.
Goal 2: to finish running as opposed to crawling
Goal 3: to finish up with a strong marathon--under 4 hours.
Goal 4: to go under 12 hours
Goal 5: to go under 11:30
Goal 6: to go under 11 and qualify for Kona

Goal 6 is more than a little bit of a stretch, but it's the off season, and I'm dreaming big.

Sept. 12 Pumpkinman Half Iron
Sept. 20 Lobsterman Olympic
No goals here at this point-

Oct 25 Marine Corp Marathon, Washington D.C.
Goal: Sub 3:20.

I still have to flesh out the fall schedule. You never know--big things could happen (like Kona??? haha--you know you have to dream...)

I want to know who's joining me at each of these races. Hmmm?
Can you hear me best, dearest, local running buddies?

Yesterday I finally pulled out the weights and the bosu ball.
My upper body is so sore today I can barely lift my arms. Makes me think that -- yes, it's true -- I am super duper out of shape.

I have a long way to go before I become the buff, superstar Mary that I plan to be -- someday. It's that someday that keeps us (well, okay, me--and maybe you-- I don't know.) going.
Thank God for it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Forgive Me

Blogger friends. I have been absent for a long time. I had a little blog vacation. But I'm back, better than ever, ready to blog my little tush off and respond to all of your posts asap.
I've been busy dealing with you know--stuff. Stuff happens and you have to deal with it. I dealt. Actually, I'm still dealing, but I miss you all, so I came back before all messiness has been ironed out. And actually, the messiness will never get completely ironed out, right? enough said.

Let's talk racing.
I am ready to race.
I know I will suck, but I am ready to race.
I. miss. it.

So what's on the docket?
A quick New Year's 5K at which I will likely suck wind so violently and die so completely that I will wet myself, or throw up or both. Bring it on.

A little 15k in mid-January. I will still likely suck at that point, but hopefully it will not be as ugly as the 5K.

Then, if coach approves, I plan to travel with my club to Derry, NH in mid-January to do the legendary Boston Prep 16 Miler. I've done it before, and it is truly an ass-kicking adventure. I love, love that race.

Next--a Feb. 1st 10 miler up in my hometown that is lovely and cold and hilly. I haven't missed running this race in years. I even ran it once when pregnant (well, barely pregnant, but still) and I ran it three months after giving birth to my second baby.

The following weekend I am off to Maine again for a swim meet at the Cape Elizabeth High School pool! Wahoo! I'm a little nervous about the diving off the blocks, I must admit. But I'm still so excited. A swim meet!

Finally, again if coach approves, I will run Stu's 30K in early March. This is also an ass-kicking adventure--probably even hillier and tougher than Derry, which as I mentioned earlier, is legendary for its hills.

I don't plan to go all out for all of these races (Derry/Stu's not all out; Frostbite & Cape 10 miler, definitely all out.)

I don't know after that. As I get close to IMLP I know I will have to really hunker down and just focus on my workouts. I'm prepared for that. But early on? I want to play--just a little.

I am completely unprepared for Christmas. I have been squirrelling away a few gifts for the kids, but other than buying scooters for my youngest two and a Simon for my oldest, I haven't been very focused in my shopping. I am really excited about that Simon, though. Did you have one as a kid? I loved that toy! I know I will steal it from her and get obsessed with playing it.

I just ordered two awesome Splish suits for myself for Christmas.

Alas I don't have the boobs to fill them out. Nevertheless, I'm so excited. They are both fun, and right now I am feeling I need a little fun.
Okay, okay, I always feel like I need fun.

The fun helps to smooth the messiness that never goes away.

Friday, December 5, 2008

blah blah blah

So this was supposed to be my first week back at REAL training. But I'm still sort of in lala land. Jen gave me a few good swim workouts, and it's been fun to be in the pool, see all of my swim friends, and try to swim a pace that is not too upsettingly slow compared to where I was a mere three weeks ago.

Man, fitness goes fast. I was a rockstar just three weeks ago! Now I am wondering if I will ever be fast again....
Of course I will be.
It's good to be slow right now. It's good to be slow right now. It's good to be slow right now.

This is why I dislike taking time off from training. It's not that I dislike the time off. I've been living it right up in my time off! Who can argue with sleep, wine, and good food? No, it's that after time off you have to kick your own ass BACK into shape, which is an extremely trying and somewhat disheartening project.

But it's a project. And the thing is, I adore new projects.

Although my racing schedule hasn't been completely developed (or approved) yet, I have it in my head that I will get in a few good road races this winter. I also have certain little rivalries (most of which are in my head) which are getting me fired up to kick some ass this winter.

I've just put the followers tool on my blog and I am so psyched about it. I love finding out who actually reads my drivel! I know I've been very lame about posting, and also that my posts of late have been less than inspiring, but if you read me, add your blog to my followers list. Please. It makes me feel good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I've Got To Begin Again...

But I don't know where to start.... Yes I've got to begin again.... and it's hard. It's harrrrrrrrrrrdddddddddddd. I'll give you a dollar if you know who sings that tune. Hint. The song is old. And he sang it when he was young. I actually do know where to start, of course. I just have mixed feelings about doing so. These last few weeks have been a brief visit to the world that once was--the world before training. Sure, I've been competing in road races since I was a young tot in my early twenties, but I didn't start training until 2005 after my youngest was born, and I really didn't start seriously, seriously training until I signed up for a 1/2 Ironman in the winter of 2006. Before training I used to read a lot. Okay, I still read a lot. But I used to not feel guilty about reading a lot. It was what I did. For awhile I was even a reviewer for The Horn Book Guide, (which I know means nothing to any of you reading this, but if this were a lit. blog, it would) and so it was actually my job to read. Well, I guess technically it's still my job to read since I'm a librarian. But I digress... These last three weeks I began to revert to my old reading ways. And it's been really nice. And it's about to end, because training is about to take the front seat again in terms of priority. I only have so many hours a day which I am able to devote to me, me, me and my triathlon obsession. Kids, the hub, work, house. These things take the majority of my time--and then training fills in every remaining gap, nook, hole--and even encroaches, of course, on the kids, the hub, work, house... Once I take the plunge into the training abyss it will be a long while before I can come up for air again. This week I ran every day except for Thanksgiving. I would have also run on Thanksgiving except I was blessed with a stomach bug that pretty much took me out of all running/eating activities for the day. Running every day isn't training, of course. It's indulging in my love for running--especially my love of running at any easy pace for not too long. Tomorrow I will get up early, early, early and hit the pool. And that begins the training. One good thing about emerging from the training fog for the last three weeks is that I've developed more clarity on what I want to do--you know--like in life. This is somewhat of relief to me since for awhile there I completely lost my direction. I read about a billion books on aging and mid-life crisis, and though I doubt reading any of them helped more than a smidgen, the collective result is that I am ready to press on, where no me has gone before! Well, sort of anyway. I have a vision now. It will take awhile to implement the vision, but the important thing is I have one. It's November, and it's cold, and it's raining, which makes me think of that song by Guns n' Roses. Axl has made a comeback, even if he's receiving some bad press about his less than intelligent album title. And now it's time for my comeback. (I know comeback is a bit hyperbolic a term given I've only been on break for three weeks. Humor me.) Humor me -- because I am now starting my journey toward IRONMAN. Bring it on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I feel fat.
and gross.
and lazy.
and indulgent.
and very, very grumpy.
and also very boring.

It is time to start moving again.

As a farewell to my final days in slothdom, I had a weekend away with my college girlfriends. My friend Steph is biting the bullet and getting married, and we needed to celebrate. It was fabulous. We slept late, got massages, went shopping for jeans, rented a limo and had an awesome and expensive dinner at which we drank too much and laughed loudly. Here we are in the limo:

But, sighhhhhh, now I am home.

I have been thinking about my race calendar for 2009. Obviously the most central event will be Lake Placid, but I'm trying to figure out what B and C races will round out the year. When you're not training it's easy to get overly ambitious. I have to watch that. The hub. is doing a 140 mile ride in mid-June, so hopefully we will get in a few centuries together in prep. for that and for my race at L.P.

Maybe when I begin training again my become posts will become a little more zesty.

Speaking of zest, I need to bring an appetizer to Thanksgiving dinner. Any suggestions?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A Nice, Cold, RUN

The air has been biting for the last few days. It's the kind of cold you can taste. I love the way it feels to breath in the coldness when I'm running. Even though winter gets old very fast here in New England, I still couldn't live anywhere else. I'd miss that bite. I'd also miss the crunch of the snow beneath my feet. It's a very specific type of crunch. I remember going to Florida when I was in sixth grade--for only a week--and returning to Maine. Leaving the airport to get to the car after we'd returned I crunched over the snow, and I remember thinking, "ahh.... I missed that."

I was supposed to wait two weeks before resuming training. But I had a free hour today after work, and I just couldn't let it go. So I went out. The first 20 minutes felt fresh. The last 10 minutes I felt tired and wondered why I had hankered so much to get out there. It was weird for me to think that the last time I had run was on my race run at Worlds.

Not running for 12 days is a record of sorts for me. I haven't gone that long without a run since my youngest daughter was born--so basically 3.5 years. After she was born I told myself I'd never go longer than a few days without a run ever again. I ran through all of my pregnancies, but it gets hard toward the end, and you always end up with a few months of no real aerobic exercise.

Monday, November 10, 2008

World Championship 70.3 Race Report

Black Beauty did her job well. __________________________________ One of my goals in my triathlon career was to go under 5 hours in the 70.3. I knew it was possible, but I didn't think it was in my near future. Still, Jen had me believing that if I could put my fear aside and just go for it, I could have the race of my life at Clearwater. Throughout the race I remembered Jen's words--even when things got really tough on the second loop of the run and I could no longer hold the pace I was gunning for. I just kept repeating to myself, "This is the race of your life. You are HAVING the race of your life." And it was. _________________ It almost wasn't, though. On Thursday after a half day of work we left MA, kids and dogs in tow, to drive to Maine. The plan was to drop the dogs with my in-laws, the kids with my mom, drive to Peak Performance in Portland to pick up the race wheels I was renting, and then head to the Portland airport. When we arrived at the airport everything was oddly dark. In fact, it looked rather like--THERE WAS NO POWER. A flight attendant stood with a mike at check in. "I'm sorry to report there has been a large traffic accident close by which has taken out power to the entire airport." pause. "We have no computers and no way of checking you in." pause. grumbling from patrons. "We have been told power will not be restored for at least six hours. We have canceled all flights until tomorrow morning." Oh .Sweet. Jesus. My heart began racing and I felt weak. Leaving Portland, Maine on Friday morning would not get me to Clearwater in time to check in before 2 pm, the cutoff. Andy took out his Blackberry and began checking flights from Boston. Could we make it there by 6 pm and fly to Tampa from there? Nope. Already four, and the trip takes 2.5 hours. All over. All that hard work and I would likely not get there in time. And then, without ceremony, the lights came back on. I almost wet myself in relief. I'm not lying. Everyone began milling around, smiling. A line immediately formed at check in. After getting our boarding passes we went to our gate and I sat in numb relief. The flight was still delayed, though, so we decided to get food and a beer (not a good pre-race strategy, I know) and tried to stay cool, hoping we would catch our connecting flight out of JFK. We did make the connection, and the rest of the trip was long, but uneventful. We arrived in Tampa at 12:30 a.m. We were in our hotel room at the Hilton by 2 a.m. This is what I want to know. What the hell was I thinking when I booked this flight? 2 a.m.? The possibility of things going awry and missing the race entirely? Am I insane? A 1/2 day of work on Thursday was not worth the 2 a.m. arrival. Live and learn. We woke rather late on Friday morning, and headed down to get a nice hotel, buffet breakfast. It was here that reality totally hit. Everyone, everywhere was decked in Ironman attire. Finishing t-shirts from various 140.6 events, tiny bike shorts revealing muscular, shaved legs, wetsuits half donned over ripped bodies, M-Dot tattoos, sickly sexy bikes being pushed through the lobby, voices using foreign languages I couldn't recognize. I began to feel sick. Ange and Mark met us after breakfast. They had arrived the afternoon before and Ange had already completed her pre-race, Friday workout. I, on the other hand, had not signed in, gone to the meeting, found my bike, put my race wheels on, organized my bags and I had not BEGUN to think about the quick swim, bike and run I had hoped to get in. And it was already almost 11 a.m. Let us just say I was on the tense side. Andy, in an exasperated voice, kept reminding me to breathe. I checked in and got my blue band, and then began the long process toward being ready to go race morning. By five I was done. UEUEU! Bags organized and turned in, bike racked complete with race wheels, workouts done, fluids and pre-race breakfast prepared and put in the fridge, chat with Jen complete, clothing laid out. I had even checked in on the home front. I was able to chat with Alina (the bestest friend any person could have) and my mom, who were sharing responsibility for our kids. The kids were in heaven, of course. All was fine. I flopped on the hotel bed. I had made it. I was here. It was going to happen. The four of us (Ange, Mark, Andy and I) had dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Ange and I tried to keep calm, tried to reassure eachother, tried not to let our overwhelming anxiety ruin the meal. Over dinner I continually looked at Ange and felt like I should pinch myself. We were here! We were doing this! And more than anything I kept thinking, I'm so glad Ange and I are sharing this. We've been on this triathlon journey together since the beginning. We've shared every big race since the start and we will continue to share them in the future, including Lake Placid, our first Ironman. I love that girl! Okay. enough sentiment. onward. I slept well considering I was shitting myself. I was up at 4:30 a.m. to eat and get ready, and by 5:05, Ange and I were getting body marked. The body markers used stamps. How cool is that? As we walked into transition to check on our bikes everything became sort of surreal. The lights were blazing and the bikes looked otherworldly--shiny and carbon and so hot--every. single. one. Perfect bodies milled about. Athletes were stoned-faced--pumping tires, filling aero-bottles, lubing up with Body Glide--just like any other triathlon, except that the pavement was clean of all transition garb and it was clear, there were no newbies here. These people meant business. "Ange,"I said, "we're not in Kansas anymore..." We did see a few people we knew in transition. I saw a QT2 uniform, and introduced myself to the guy wearing it who is one of Jesse's athletes from D.C. His name is Matt Powell, and he ended up getting a 4:12 or something sick like that. I also met Katie, a fellow blogger, and Gina, who used to be a teammate and who I had met at Timberman. It was especially fun to see Gina who is so fun and bubbly and made me feel more relaxed. Transition closed at 6:30 and we made our way to the beach where we found Andy and Mark. At this point, I was a wreck. The sun was rising and the beach was gorgeous but I couldn't focus on it. The air was electric with nerves and thunderous music and the announcer, who every minute reminded us we were one minute closer to the pros going off. A helicopter descended just before the beginning of the race, and that added intensity too. Andy captured a little of it on film. Finally Ange and I left the husbands and headed down to the wave bins. There was a huge screen set up that magnified the swim, so that when the  canon went off we could see the pros close up. Andy Potts was alien he was so fast. It just was bizarre. I swear he only took like six or seven strokes between each buoy, and those buoys were far, far apart! We heard he was the first out of the water. Julie Dibens was the first woman, which was no surprise to me. I DVR'd Ironman St. Croix 70.3 and I watch it when I work out on the trainer, so I have seen Julie Dibens crush her competitors in the water more than once. (She broke the swim record there but some crazy amount...) I was really excited when I heard the announcer yell that Elizabeth Fedofsky was finishing the swim. Elizabeth and Bree are the two pros I route for and follow most closely. They are both women of incredible strength, determination and character. Finally the female 35-39ers were called to the front bin. I felt a calm come over me. Soon I would be in the race and I could stop stressing about it, and just DO IT. I hugged Ange, walked to the line, and then turned myself inward, ready to get wet and start suffering.  I didn't start as fast as I had planned. I was expect a frenzy, but it didn't come, and I just couldn't get my body to MOVE. I began to search for a person to draft, but I was alone. Was I one course? Sight. Yep. On course. Then I smashed arms a few times with a woman, so I knew I was okay. I stepped up my pace, but the lead pack was gone. Stay calm. Push harder. I pulled ahead of the girls around me and then I found one: a girl just ahead of me. I set my sights on getting on her ankles. I spent the WHOLE swim trying to catch her! I was too far to get a good draft. It was frustrating. I was able to push pretty hard the whole swim, but of the whole race, the swim is where I really feel like I could've given more. Still, it was solid. Here you can see that Ange finished, wisely and with great speed, with the lead pack. I was a few minutes behind, ALL ALONE and clearly very focused! I was in 18th position out of 67 in my AG out of the water with a time of 30:38.  Transition was slow because of the whole get the bag and go to the tent thing, but I still kind of liked it. It was clean. I was out of there in 3:30. Onto the bike. As soon I was got on the course I felt fast. The course was just so light! so fast! the pavement was so clean and free of debris! The only problem was that I was all alone. What? Where was everyone? I spent the first 30 minutes only seeing a few people. But I was still flying. I was averaging 21.5 mph. I couldn't believe it! Was this me? I felt so smooth! When I crossed the first timing mat all I could think was, "Andy will catch that on his Blackberry! He'll know I'm kicking ass!" and it spurred me on. At this point I had finally found people. Most were trying to race clean races, it was clear. I played cat and mouse with a guy whose bib read Jason for at least 10 miles, but we both tried hard to pull forward and drop back in the required, legal way. My first pack of riders plowed past me at about an hour into the ride. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. These people were riding in A PACK!! How dare they! I've never seen anything like it! It was all I could do to refrain from screaming, "Cheaters!" at the top of my lungs. Jen had warned me it would be like this, but it was still startling how brazen it was. Where were the officials? I forced myself to refocus on my own race. They would have to live with themselves; they would know that their respective bike times weren't real. I was passed by probably six or seven packs by the end of the ride. All of them had about 15 riders, most of them men. Cheaters. Losers! Anyway. Despite that I tried not to draft at all, of course I benefited from the gajillion riders out there. A draft is created no matter what when riders are close by, but the pack thing is just blatant, disgusting, disheartening, and wrong. Enough diatribe. Despite my annoyance with the packs, I was having fun. I was pushing hard, going fast, and I felt like I could go on like this all day. Whenever the idea that I had to run next crept into my head I pushed it aside. Deal with the run when you run. Ride without fear. Just do it. I finished the ride in 2:34:50. That's an average of 21.8 mph. I still can't get over that bike split. I worked the bike hard at Timberman and finished 20 minutes more slowly. Comparing Timberman to Clearwater is like comparing oranges and apples, of course. They are totally different things. Timberman just knocks one out with its hills, and at Clearwater there are no hilly surprises, just miles of flat pavement. Very fun! You'll note in the picture I am alone. Surprisingly, I spent a lot of the ride solo. It was a treat to have the volunteers take my bike. I tried to run to get my run bag with my bike shoes still on, and then realized it would be much faster to take them off right then. I stopped in the middle of the path, of course, and a competitor almost ran me over. Oops! Sorry! I yelled as he ran off. I raced to the bag, then the tent, and got out faster than I had for T1. The run hurt immediately. I hadn't felt the heat on the bike, but now on the run I knew it must be at least 80 degrees and there was no cloud cover. Maybe for Floridians this weather was fine, but for we Northerners it was pretty hot! We had a balmy fall, but that means temps were in the 50s, not the 80s! My body was definitely a little shocked. I didn't wear my Garmin. I had for Timberman, and I think I didn't push as hard as a result. With the Garmin you can look at your average pace, and if it's staying sort of the same, you feel confident you're okay. With just your Timex on you run in fear. That's what I wanted. I didn't know how fast I was taking out the run. I just knew it didn't matter that it hurt. I was going to kill this run. Turns out my first mile was a 7:02. Oops. I wanted to go out strong, but that was too strong. I dialed it back a little, but not much. I knew I probably couldn't' keep this pace, but my goal was to race without fear, and that meant going as hard as I could manage RIGHT NOW without regard to the last miles of the race. One thing I will say is that although the run wasn't hilly, it was NOT flat. We had to go up and over that damn bridge four times, and it was tough. There was no breeze going over the bridge, and the pavement was white/bright/burning. There was a breeze through the neighborhoods, which was odd, I thought. I knew that with each mile my pace was slowing, but I kept putting out as much as I could despite my fading. My first loop I averaged about 7:45 pace, and that was good. On the second lap I really was suffering, but I just kept forcing negative thoughts out of my head. Do what you can do THIS mile. Keep strong. You hurt, but you've hurt like this before. Just keep at it. My pace dropped to 8:09 or so for the second loop. In retrospect this is disappointing in that I dug really deep, and that's what I pulled out. Still, it was good enough for a 1:44 run. A hell of a lot better than my run at Timberman! The shoot was LONGGGG, and I just lived it up, even though I was so hurting I thought I might boot. I was really going to go sub-five. I had done it! Ange was right at the finish, and after I crossed I just hugged her so tight. My time was a 4:55:58. Ange did a 4:42. We were so, so excited. Here she is at the end of her run: And here we are at the end! _______________________________ Post Race. Ange placed top five in our age group and I was number 25 our of 67. Not too shabby for the World Championships! I was 18th out of the water, in 34th position after the bike, and then 25th after the run. Even though I had the ride of my life, my bike is still the weakest leg compared my competitors. Luckily, I made some of that up on the run. One good thing I noted was that the two women who beat me out for Clearwater spots at Timberman both finished 7 minutes behind me in this race! Because Ange was top five in AG she got an award. The award's ceremony was wild. That stage was huge! It was thrilling to see Ange's name up on the big screen when she got her trophy. After the ceremony we went out to party! Here we going crazy, dancing. Woot! The next morning we left, more than a little hungover. Flying when hungover is NO FUN. The sad thing is, course, that it took very little to create this hangover! I can't handle drinking these days.... When we got off the plane in Portland, there was Alina with two of her kids waiting for us with a big sign and flowers. As if taking care of our kids wasn't enough! Love you, Alina! Thank you!

Sunday, November 9, 2008



What a Day! I had so much fun--especially at the post race awards ceremony where I got to see Ange walk up on that big ass stage to get her top 5 AG award!

30:38 swim, 2:34:50 bike , 1:44:24 run
25/67 in age group

More after I get some sleep!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tonight's Conversation

My two youngest, Noah and Lara, ages 5 and 3, were taking a bath tonight.

Noah: Who are you voting for?
Lara: I'm voting for Jesus.
Noah: No. Jesus isn't here. You can't vote for him because he is in the air. You have to vote for Arak Obama or for John ACain. (note the cain reference.)
Lara: Oh. I want Arak Obama.
Noah: I wanted John ACain, but Arak Obama will be the first American to be president, so now I want him.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

I have a case of the borings

So I am going to just write a disjointed post of things that come to mind.

Halloween. Noah was so cute in that costume I could barely stand it. Lara was a princess, but she refused to wear her crown. Jordan was, obviously, a butterfly. We went through fourteen bags of candy, and I only allow kids to take one piece. Suburbia. Gotta love it.

My mind.
It's programmed at this point to think only of this coming Saturday. I'm not going to talk about that, though.

Today I ran outside in tights for the first time this winter. I also had to wear gloves. It's over. Shorts are over. It's a sad day. I held out for a VERY long time. November 2 might be a new late-season record.
My run today was fresh and cold, though. I like fresh and cold. I will always take fresh and cold over still and hot.

I have been reading super cheesy chick lit lately. This week's read is Can You Keep A Secret by Sophie Kinsella. It's mindless and soothing. This is, perhaps, adding to my boringness.

The chick lit does make me wonder why I care so little about fashion, beauty, manicures etc. I like to be manicured, but it is not necessary to me. I spend most of my life with slightly too hairy eyebrows, unshaved legs and hangnails. To work I wear my self-imposed uniform of khakis and a black top with clogs, and on the weekends I wear old running t-shirts and ripped jeans. Why? Why don't I try harder? That is the question. My mother tries hard. Why didn't I inherit that from her?

I am really sick of my playlists, so I have stolen a few of the hub's. He has lots of Police, U2 and Dire Straits on his workout lists. Dire Straits is mostly too slow to work out to (in my opinion) but I discovered renewed love for Romeo and Juliet. What a GREAT song. Today on my run I had fun jamming to So Lonely by The Police. It was a great few minutes. Cars driving by likely thought I was insane as I danced/ran and mouthed the words with accompanying appropriate facial expressions.

Also on this playlist: Ground Control to Major Tom by David Bowie. This song makes me feel very sad.

I did fourteen loads of laundry since last Friday. I've been noticing that I average two loads a day. How is this possible? I spend a large portion of my life folding and putting laundry away. I wonder if I spend more time working out each week, or folding and putting away laundry?

I think I would like to be a freelance writer and write articles for magazines like Triathlete or Runner's World. How does one go about doing that?

On Friday afternoon I took Jordan (my oldest) to a local nursing home to go trick-or-treating. She is a part of a group called Do Something at her school that set up the trip. Jordan was so brave and cool, talking with everyone in such a friendly, relaxed way. She made me so proud. She's only seven, but she gets it. She gets why it was important that she was there. I think about aging every day of my life. Why does the knowledge of aging haunt me? These women and men were just like me--living, stressing, raising their children, working. Now they are talked to as if they are children and must live in these small rooms, often shared, without their independence-- until they die. Will I outlive my loved ones? Will I be alone in a nursing home? Will my children see me as a burden? I vow never to view my own parents or my in-laws as burdens. I vow never to talk to them as if they are children.

Could I make a difference there? That is another thought for career. I have worked my whole life with the young. Should I now confront the other bookend of life?

Clearwater is in six days. I am going to eat that course up. I am going to make all of my hard work worth it. I am not going to lie to myself that it doesn't matter. It matters to me. Embracing that is scary. Tough, Mary. Embrace it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'm Getting Close Now

Today Black Beauty was delivered to Fast Splits. Tomorrow she will be shipped off to Florida. I had a hard time saying goodbye to her. Of the three disciplines I like biking the least, but I still am attached to my bike. I don't know if you feel this way, but she is almost human to me; a partner in my racing. She's with me during the majority of my training, and she, I don't know, feels the pain too? Tries to get through it with me?

I may be sounding a bit looney, here, I admit.

When I got to Fast Splits I asked Brian, the mechanic/owner of the store, to remove the pedals for me. He said okay, but then left, thinking I meant remove them before she is shipped. I actually meant remove them NOW, because I don't have any other pedals, and I need them this week while the Black is away. I brought Little Red, my road bike, out of retirement because I have several more rides to do before I leave next Thursday.

I digress. Before Brian returned I began talking with this very pretty athletic woman about Clearwater. She asked me why I had ribbon on my water bottle holder (I have one of Jordan's hair bows tied on it). I felt stupid explaining that it helps me find my bike in transition. You see, there are actually quite a few black, Felt B12s on the women's 35-39 rack. Also, it makes me feel like a piece of Jordan is with me. Dumb, I know. I didn't try to explain that. Anyway, we continued to talk, and I asked her to explain to me the way the transitions work at an Ironman event like Clearwater. This was helpful. I get it now.

Later she introduced herself as DeDe.
As in DeDe Greisbauer.

Then I had to get all gaga like "I watched you the whole time online as you competed in Kona", and "you were awesome!" etc. etc. She is very tall and strong. Her bike was right there and it has DeDe Greisbauer written on the frame in script. It also has Team Psycho written in script on the fork. I didn't realize she competed for them. It shouldn't surprise me, of course. Team Psycho is an elite team.

Sooo.... anyway. I ramble on.

I have had some tough workouts this week, and I am feeling really strong and really ready and really, really like I need November 8th to be here already. Everyone keeps talking about the off season on their blogs and I am still trying to stay focused. Elizabeth F wrote the best post on the off season that I have read. She is a great thinker and writer. If you don't read her, you should.

Anyway, she points out that one's body needs totally recovery in order to heal. This rings true to me. I got stronger after each one of the births of my children. Now, this may be because after each birth I was even more determined than before to get my body, fitness, and self back. However, I think there's more to it than that. I really believe my body and mind were so focused on something else, namely making a baby, that all of my minor athletic injuries, both mental and physical, were allowed genuine rest. After those long rests, my body and mind came back stronger. (Athletically, that is. My mind did NOT come back as strong intellectually. That's another post, though.)

I have friends who race year round. There is no fluctuation in their workouts, mindset or their racing. I am beginning to understand that breakthroughs are made only when one learns to fluctuate. When you go hard, you must go really hard. When you rest, you must really rest. There are workouts that are in the middle, and there should be. But they shouldn't all be sort of hard or sort of easy. Likewise, one shouldn't have a sort of on season and a sort of off season.

I am psyched for Clearwater. I am psyched I have this one, last big race in 2008 to really give everything I have.

Then I'm psyched to park my ass on the couch and take a huge nap for a month straight. Praise God.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jordan dressed as a runner for her Halloween party on Friday night. When people asked what she was dressed as she replied, "I'm my Mom."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BayState Half Marathon Race Report

A Little History

One thing I have missed since I started triathlon a year and a half ago is my running club. This is a club close to my heart. It was founded a few years ago by a group of us who ran together in the early morning almost daily. We had a big meeting/party, decided to become a club, got USATF certified, and started a website. We created an inaugural Grand Prix and had singlets made. Two years later our club remains strong at almost 40 members. This is not due to my involvement, however.

When I began triathlon, I pretty much stopped running with the group, even though I was president of the club and on my way to winning the Grand Prix. It was hard to coordinate my specific workouts with the workouts of the group, and I'm not the kind of person who can foist my agenda on others anyway. Still, I continued to train every once in awhile with the group, and I made sure I attended every Grand Prix event, insuring my win (for women) that year, and having a great time to boot.

In the winter of 2008 I got a coach for the first time. Now I was expected to answer to someone about my workouts; no more fudging things so I could catch a run with my pals. Plus, I had to stop road racing every weekend--which had tied me to my club more than anything else. I became completely MIA. New members joined the club and I didn't know who they were, whereas previously I had been the contact person for the club, and the entry into it. I resigned as president, another club member took over the website, and I tried not to feel too guilty that now my whole athletic life revolved around my triathlon pursuit instead of the club. Eventually my club stopped asking after me, and instead was just really surprised if I happened to show up for something. I've missed them. I also miss being a Runner. I miss racing every weekend. Most of all, I miss being central in that group.

I was pretty psyched to run this race with my club.

The BayState Half Marathon is one of the only club events I joined in on this calendar year, and I'm so glad I ran it, even if I did mess up my training for Worlds slightly. Nearly half the club participated in the event. Out of it came two Boston qualifiers (a few GNRCer's ran the marathon), four top ten AG finishes in a race of over 1000 runners, and two first time finishes of a half marathon. The most exciting part was that my friend Melissa, who had tried to qualify for Boston at two previous marathons, finally got her very deserved qualifier. She ran a smart, strong race. Michael, one of the founding members and the bedrock of our club, ran with her the whole way. The rest of us followed in a van after we had finished the 1/2 marathon, and several members jumped out to run with her in the final miles, despite that they had just run the 1/2 marathon. It was totally inspirational. It made me feel so connected to the club again, and it made me realize that after I finish IM this summer, I'm going back to the group. It's what I love and it's where I belong. That's not to say I won't also continue triathlon; it's just that triathlon will no longer be the most powerful force in my athletic life--deciding for me what I can and cannot do.

Onto my race. I had a great, great race.

Although I haven't really publicized this, I have begun working with a new coach, Jen Harrison. She's a pretty awesome person, and a really awesome coach. After Timberman I let Jen know how disappointed I was in my run there. She assured me that things would get better. And they have. On Sunday I had my first PR in over a year and a half in running. I attribute this to two things. First, Jen has had me do more running than I had been doing, and she has also had me do more intensity then I had been doing. Second, she has been watching me. This is pretty powerful, actually. She gets after me about being self-defeatist. She checks to see that I'm completing my workouts, and HOW I'm completing them, and with what attitude. At first this made me claustrophobic. I realize now that is because I've never been held truly accountable for my workouts. I have always worked hard. I have also always cut myself slack if I needed it. I have always tried to do my workouts as prescribed. I have not always FORCED myself to do my workouts EXACTLY as prescribed EVERYTIME. There's a difference. And the difference, I believe, resulted in a great race on Sunday.

Sunday was cold. This was rather shocking to me, since this fall it's been rather balmy. I was expecting to wear a t-shirt and shorts, but during warm up it became clear that a long sleeved shirt was in order. I cursed myself for not bringing gloves and tights. It was that cold.

I warmed up with Rose and Melissa, two of my GNRC friends. I wanted to run hard and fast during warm-up because I was SO cold. This would have been dumb, of course, so we ran a normal pace. After a mile or so I began to feel like I wouldn't freeze to death. At the starting line, however, I got chilled again. I couldn't wait to start running just to get warm. When we were finally let go, I wanted to take off like a shot. I remembered Jen's advice, however, to not go out too hard. It would feel easy, she had said. I knew that it would. It always feels easy at the start.

Except this time, it didn't.

I clicked my watch at the first mile. 7:23. What? I was trying! It should have been faster given the effort I was putting in. I tried to calm myself. The goal was to complete 7:30s I was doing great. It would be fine. Second mile 7:23. WTF! People were passing me left and right. Let them go, I thought. Get them later. But would I be able to get them later? Next mile: 7:24. Next mile 7:35. Next mile 7:33. Damn! I had hoped this race would prove to me the stellar shape I was in. Instead, I was putting out quite a bit of effort only to run 7:30s.

Then I took a Double caffeinated Expresso Love Gu. I felt it immediately. Had that been the problem? I had taken one 15 minutes before the start, so could I really have been depleted?

No time to think. I only had 7 more miles to make this race count. 7:18. I was on fire. I could do this. 7:12. Only five more miles. What's five miles? Nothing! Move! 7:04. Hold this and I could still PR. 7:07. I took in another Gu. No way was I risking exploding for lack of fuel! Rounding a bend and the wind was in my face again. Was I at the end of my fast miles? 7:11. I could still do this, but the wind was strong. Uk. Where did that come from? 7:24. Okay. Two miles to go. I could run these two miles really, really hard. Two miles is nothing. Imagine I'm on the track. And while we're at it, let's take some people out! Pass that guy! Pass that woman! 7:07. Could I do the last mile in under 7? Just one Chrissie Wellington mile? I am unstoppable. I am like lightning. No one can catch me. 6:59. Two tenths around the track and I'm done. 1:36 flat. A PR!

Final result:
136:01, 7:20 average pace.
6/191 in 30-39.

Yeah baby. Bring on the World Championships!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


New England foliage is always spectacularly beautiful. This year it seems brighter than usual. On the way to work yesterday I was startled by a red maple that was so bright red it seemed on fire.

It's a gorgeous season, and also a melancholy one, I think. The weather has been great lately; in the 60s, sunny and clear. Today was gloomy, but really this October has been perfect so far. Still, the leaves turning always makes me sad. They worked so hard, these leaves, from their birth in the spring. They brought energy to their host tree, and they were bright and green and happy all summer. Then, in fall, they become really beautiful for a short while, seemingly just to say "I'm here! Notice me know before I die!" And then they fall. Soon they will be crunchy, brown, crumbling into compost for next year's growth.

I feel my age in the fall.
I've got to keep moving to avoid crumbling.

I'm still riding outside, but open water swimming is over now. It feels as if I should be winding down, taking a break, baking cookies and chilling out.

I'm not. Clearwater is in just about three weeks.

I've been really working to keep focus. Jen has me doing really specific workouts that force me to pay attention to what I'm doing and force me to work. I'm going to make it. It's going to be good.

And then I'm going to sleep for about two weeks straight.
And then I start training for the Big Kahuna. Oh boy! I'm excited and I'm terrified.

I have a half marathon coming up this weekend. I'm running it with a bunch of members from my running club, GNRC. I haven't been in a road race since last winter. It's funny; I think of a half marathon is a pretty substantial race, but really it lasts only a little longer than a longish sprint triathlon. My goal is to take it out at my goal pace for Clearwater and then speed up a little bit every few miles, so I negative split. I'm not expecting a PR. My running has been much better lately, but I don't think I'm close to PRing yet. Soon enough.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Road We All Travel and Other Thoughts

This week while living at my in-laws (recall I am out of my house currently b/c of never-ending construction that I know I will someday appreciate) I was looking for something to read. I wanted something light, cheesy; something to fall asleep by. The hub and I are sleeping in my brother in-law's old bedroom, and I found The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck sandwiched in his bookcase. I pulled it out.

The Road Less Traveled belongs to a collection of books I associate with my late high school years. At that time I loved the self help section of the bookstore, which I believed held the secret to understanding myself and all the people on which I had crushes. These were books I reasoned would help me to become wise and deep beyond my years. Sure, most of them were intended for those in mid-life, but I was mature. I could appreciate such poignant reads as The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, A Gift from the Sea, The Fountainhead and Letters to A Young Poet. All are required reading for the seriously deep teenager.

Peck opens with the platitude, Life is Difficult.
But then I paused. Life is difficult.
Later he says, that personal growth is a "complex, arduous and lifelong task."
duh again.


I get it. I really do. But sometimes I forget... Or maybe most of the time I forget?

I think, sometimes, I believe that life should not be so hard--and that happiness should be the dominant feeling in one's life. We all deserve happiness. I deserve happiness. Something is wrong if one is not happy.


Ironman World Championships. Difficult. A "complex, arduous, and potentially lifelong task."

Ironman is life in a bottle. Uncorked it takes under 24 hours to play itself out. And we watch with intensity, fervor, hope, fear. We want the athletes to overcome the adversity of it, but we also watch with relish when one gets a penalty, a flat, must drop out, is disqualified.

Ironman is a way to confront life and take it on. Real life, raw life. Competing in these races, even the shorter ones that I have done, is hard. They are difficult. They hurt. Just like it's supposed to be--like life is supposed to be. And through the difficulty meaning is achieved.
Because if we can get through the adversity, there is joy. And if we don't really get through the adveristy? If we have a bad race, or worse a DNF? We pick ourselves up, and go back at it. The next episode will be better.

I want to take on Ironman. To do well at it I must take on the difficulty of it--the enormity of it. I know it's going to be very hard. I need to keep reminding myself that I don't expect Ironman to be easy--and I should not expect life to be either. I embrace that Ironman is hard. It makes it more worth it that it is.
This is the same with life.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A New Event

I have figured out my new job: race director. I am going to be the race director of a new, exciting series of events that feature swimming and running--but NO biking.

Think about it. You can do the swim and the bike--aquabike. You can do the bike and the run--duathlon. So WTF???? What about the swim and the run--sans the bike? Hmmm? I can finally see my calling. I might also create a series of triathons that looks something like this:

swim--3 miles
bike--5 miles
run--half marathon


swim--2.5 miles
bike--2 miles

What do you think? I'd sign up, that's for damn sure.


I am really working and struggling and suffering in my bike and run workouts of late. My running took a major dive this last year, and it's taking time to pull it together again, but I have faith that soon things will fall into place. Biking--well. I am going to kill myself working on the bike this winter, and I will improve, and the bike gods are just going to HAVE to make room for me in their club. That's all.

Swimming and I didn't like each other much for a long time. I overdosed on her in high school, and I didn't come away with any major accolades to show for my overdosing, so I basically kissed her goodbye at age 18 and began an affair with running. I didn't begin taking swimming seriously again until I started up with triathlon, a year and a half ago now. That's an 18 year hiatus.

Eighteen years and swimming and I have made up. In fact, we are officially in love. Everytime I get in the pool I go a little faster.

Today I did a 50 in 35.6 seconds--pushing off the wall. I couldn't believe it.

That is good for me, my friends. My best 50, off the blocks, when I was a kid in high school, was a 30.1. And that was when I was young, nubile, fresh! Of course, I was also 20 pounds heavier and was somewhat lacking in the motivation department....but whatever.

In short.

Thanks, swimming. I'm glad I have you right now.

Monday, September 29, 2008

CELT Sprint Race Report

This Sunday I did the CELT Sprint Tri in my hometown in Maine. The big news for me is that I placed third overall! Okay, it was a wicked small race and some of the competition stayed home because it was small and because it was pouring the whole race and a total mudfest on the run, but still. I placed third. And if I were a guy? I would have placed fourth. And I was ninth overall. And I was first in my age group. And I really suffered on the bike for most of it. And I definitely suffered on the muddy slogfest run (which was so fun).

What this says to me is that I need to do a few more small time races. Small time = good time = good place = good feeling. I am a small time girl. haha

Also placing well was Team Triple Threat (also known as Team Wilson/Perez). They placed third in relays--losing only to two all male, totally scary fast corporate teams. Triple Threat consists of scary fast swimmer and best high school buddy Alina, her biker brother Lorenzo, and my hub, the runner.

The report:
I knew it would be a wet one. Hurricane Kyle was passing through town, and he did not disappoint. I was still psyched. The run portion of the race was on grass and trail, and there's nothing more fun than a hugely muddy messy run! I need to take up Xterra. Anyway.

The swim was tame. It was in the high school pool, and only 425 yards. I was, at first, very disappointed. I wanted to be in the first heat with Alina and two very fast women with whom I wanted to compete. They have both won the race in the past, and maybe it is for that reason that they were placed with the relays in the first heat. The rest of the field started in later heats.

It stung to not be considered "good" enough to be placed with these women. I was bummed. However, this did make me determined to race well and really get close to them--if only in time, not person.

Alina's heat, the first one, went off and I cheered for her like mad, and also for Katie and Erin, the two women with whom I wanted to compete. Both Katie and Erin went to high school with Ailna and me, but they are several years older than we are. Great people. Anyway. Alina did her usual thing, kicking everyone else's butt in the pool and making everyone look bad. She finished the 425 yards in 5:15. Pretty awesome. There was another heat of relay people, and then I was off.

There were these two women in my heat that were SO FIT looking, I wanted to cry. I had seen them warm up, and they were amazing swimmers. I tried not to appear too intimated, but man, they were intimidating! When we were off, I didn't even try to stay with them. I lapped the woman in my lane twice, but these two women, swimming one lane over, lapped me almost twice~! Jessie, (I later learned her name), the faster of the two (who I also learned were sisters) finished in under five minutes.

I had a good, strong swim. The only problem is that I wasn't positive I was done at the 425 and I had to pause and scream, "Am I done?" Duh. I finished in just under six minutes, which is a real improvement for me. Last spring I did 400 yards in a race in just over six. My recorded time is 6:15, but that includes the run to T1. I was the 13th fastest swimmer of the day. Alina was the fifth fastest. And yes, that includes the guys!

Onto the bike. I was going to eat this bike leg alive. I was going to suffer. I would not let myself down this time! I did not straddle the bike and start, I mounted like a normal person, swinging my leg over the bike as I began to move. Enough of this granny crap! I bounded up the hill and first off passed those two fast swimmer sisters. Yeah! Take that perfect body people!

A few minutes into the bike I was passed by a guy. This, I decided, would not do. No one would pass me today. That was the rule. I tried to get him back, but basically I just remained behind him by a quarter mile trying to catch him the whole race. At one point I got just close enough to make the pass and he turned to me as I wheezed away and said, "Does my back tire look flat?" The dude wasn't even trying! I coughed out, "No, it's fine." Then he took off again. I think he slowed down just to ask me that!

The rain pelted down on us. It was a Lake Placid 08 kind of day. Relentless, hard rain. I loved it. (Good for a sprint, not for an Ironman, I will add.)

The 14 miles ended almost instantaneously it seemed. It's obviously been awhile since I have done a sprint! I finished in 41:40, which works out to be over 20 mph, and that time also includes most of T1 and T2, so maybe a bit faster than that. Still much slower than I'd like, but better than usual! I was the 21st bike overall, including the dudes.

The run was a blast! I heard Alina, Andy, Erin and Katie cheering for me as I began. They were already done with the race, as they started in the first heat.

It was a slippery, soaking wet mudfest. I continued to trail the guy I tried to catch on the bike for the whole run. It was frustrating. He was just out of my reach. If frustrating for me, it must have been SO annoying for him. At every turn I was right there, like a little pest that wouldn't get away. The trail was tree-rooted and narrow, and it was a little nuts to train and pass anyone anyway, but still, I'm sure he wanted to tell me to leave him the fuck alone! At the end of the race, with a 1/2 mile to go, he'd had enough. He took off. In my head I screamed, Wait! Wait! and I tried to catch him, but to no avail. Oh well. He had been a very good rabbit for almost the entire race. Thanks, buddy! I think his name was Chris. I checked in the results. He placed third for men.

Post race: Andy and Alina were there cheering me in. Such a great feeling. Thanks, guys! They stayed and chatted with me in the rain. I then found my rabbit and thanked him, and he was very gracious and smiley. Best of all, Jessie, the woman of perfect body and scary fast swimming fame, found me. She asked if I had been at Lobsterman, she thought she had seen me there, etc. Then she said, "YOU ARE AN AWESOME BIKER." I was stunned. Then I thought, well yes, I AM faster than you, of course. But it still felt good. She was scarily intimidating at the start of the race, I had beat her by A LOT, and she thought I was a good biker! This made my day. haha!

A great race.

Here are a few pics:

Andy on the run. It was WET. I believe the hub has quite enviable quads.

and Me on the run.

Andy and me--all smiles after a good, wet race.

Talking to the man who placed third, who I tried to catch the whole race, but who I, alas, never did. The trickster had another gear that he shifted into in the last 1/2 mile. I did not.

The legs looked much worse up close! Really!

Friday, September 26, 2008


Many people don't like unsolicited advice. I do. My assumption is that most people know more than me, and even if they don't know more than me, I still enjoy hearing what people think. Strange, I know. I think it may be that when people give me advice they are paying attention to me (or so I believe) and I like attention.


Here are the arenas in which I would like advice:

the belly
the scale
sports drink spillage

Let's start with the belly. I will begin by saying that I am not a psycho chick who feels she must be absolutely perfect in every way in order to be worthy. I like my body. It's a good body. That said, I am having a little issue with my belly. It won't get smaller. My whole body is small, but not my belly. My belly is bigger than my ass, and definitely bigger than my chest. I am an inverted hour glass. What is UP WITH THAT?

So, I need advice on how to get rid of the belly. I realize it has to do, in part, with genetics, and with the fact that I had bore three children close together and there is extra skin there now. However, I also know that there are PLENTY of women out there who don't have perfect genes in terms of bellies and who had at least three children and they are sporting beautiful, toned, athletic looking joes. I realize the answer to this is probably just GO ON A DIET, fool. Still, all advice is welcome, even that advice. I may just need a kick in the pants.

Scale. Perhaps one of the problems pertaining to problem number 1 is that I don't own a scale. I used to belong to a gym, which I left awhile back, and it is there I weighed myself. This worked out well because I only weighed myself like twice a month, and so was therefore able to track my weight without getting all neurotic and weighing myself 20 times a day. After thinking about it, I believe I am ready to purchase a scale and coexist with it. I think. Any advice as to which scale I should get? I'm curious to hear how you people with those FANCY body fat/hydration etc scales fare.

This is connected to my last post. I went through a cassette in three months by riding with a worn out chain and by cross-chaining. I think that's what it's called, anyway. I'm curious to hear how other people live without spending tons of times in the baby gears of the big ring. How do I correct this bad habit? That is my question. I am especially interested in book recommendations/classes on the topic of biking technique and maintenance in general, as I learn best by reading about things and in a school atmosphere.

Sports Drink Spillage:
All the people who have worked on my bike have commented that I have a lot (as in more than other people) of sports drink guck on the front of my bike. I try to clean my bike of said guck after every ride, but apparently I suck at it, because it is everywhere, all the time. I want to know 1) how do people keep their aerobottles from spraying sports drink everywhere? When my aerobottle is full it sprays in the wind, even with the cap on. When I go over a bump in the road, it spills over me and the bike. How do people prevent this? And when it happens, with what do I clean it to get it off?

Here's what I want to know. Is it a common, normal, everyday thing to be bored with your work? How many people out there feel satisfied with their job, and how many pine for something better/more meaningful/more SOMETHING? I want to know because I think I may just be a brat who wants to be engaged all of the time, and gets impatient and grumpy when a job turns out to be--well, a job. I figure if everyone is bored, and they just deal with it, I should probably just suck it up and deal with too.

Please advise away.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This Sport is SO Expensive and other thoughts

I took Black Beauty, my bike, into the shop after my LONG BRICK on Tuesday. She needed some help. I knew my tires were spent. I've been riding on them since February and averaging over 100 miles a week on the bike. I also knew that I needed a basic tune-up. She's been skipping gears all over the place lately. So I took her in. Quick check up. No problem.

Right. I am new to biking, and I have not yet adjusted to the fact that you must treat your bike like you do your car. You know what I'm saying; if you don't take care of your car--get the oil changed, get it tuned up according to the manufacturer's schedule, do not let it go when you know something's wrong it--you shorten its life and you end up creating expensive problems that could've been avoided had you taken preventive measures. Kind of like health. Kind of like life. Kind of like EVERYTHING.

Well. I guess I have been a bit remiss in taking care of my little Felt. First, I've not changed the chain since I got her. I guess you're supposed to change your chain every 1500 miles or so. That would've been in, hmmmm, MAY. Because I didn't change my chain, my chain damaged my cassette, so that's spent too. And the tires. Need new tires.

All that doesn't include the basic tune-up that I also need.

I have been lobbying to get carbon wheels, and the chunk of change needed to spiff up the old/new bike is not going to help my cause.

In other news I think I am losing my short term memory. really.
more on this in my next post.

Friday, September 19, 2008

"I'm feelin' good from my head to my shoes

"Know where I'm goin' and I know what to do
I tidied up my point of view
I got a new attitude!"

Forgive me for quoting Patti LaBelle.
It had to be done. I hope I didn't lose any readers...

So. I have been doing some thinking.
It started with the word suffer, a word with which I have few dealings with in my life, continued into my race this weekend and conversations with Claire, continued further still when reading Bree Wee's blogand ended with a quick conversation with Jen via email.

I realize new attitudes aren't created overnight, so I will qualify this by saying that I don't actually have a bonafide new attitude. Let's say, though, that I think I get something I didn't get before. It's not even really a matter of some earth shattering new way of viewing things. It actually is, as my dear friend Patti says, a tidying up of a point of view.

I love running. and triathlon. and I love racing.
But that's not enough.

My expectations of what triathlon will provide me expanded this year. I decided to GET SERIOUS, man. No fucking around. And with that I expected nothing short of miracles. Isn't that what it takes? Extreme dedication? Getting the workouts done?

Yes. But that's not all it takes. It takes a willingness to think and be a certain way. There is little--actually there is NO--room for self deprecation for the sake of humor, or the sake of anything, really. There is no room to let yourself believe you deserve a break. There is no room to lament how tired you are and how grumpy you feel that you get up every damn morning when the people around you sleep in like old dogs. There is no room to feel sorry for yourself. There is no room to admit that you're not actually sure you LIKE what you're doing.

Ange talked awhile back about silencing her lazy demon when she races. I remember thinking that her lazy demon was likely a weakling and that my lazy demon could take her lazy demon down so fast it wouldn't even be funny. But maybe that's not true. Maybe she just makes her mind so uninviting to the lazy demon that she can control his appearance, in a race, or any time. And I can't. Or I haven't.

I have been indulging my thoughts of tiredness, of disappointment, of fear, of anger, of lack of motivation, of jealousy. I write about them. I think about them. I analyze them. I let them hang around.

This is not want superior athletes do. Superior athletes shut down these thoughts. They do not indulge. They don't don't lament losing a Tuesday to a LONG BRICK, because the idea of losing or lamenting anything having to do with the sport is SHUNNED. Done. Not invited. The thought is replaced by thoughts like, I CAN train, I'm psyched to train, I'm ready to train. I AM ALL ABOUT THE LONG BRICK. GRRRRRRRRRR.

It's cognitive restructuring. Right, Alina?

And I need to start doing it.

It is quite possible that the aspect of my personality that has indulged these thoughts has prevented me, thus far, from maximizing my potential. Not just in triathlon.
In life.
Maybe that's dramatic, but I think I'm onto something here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesdays. My Day Off

You may recall that last week I pondered what to do with my new, special free time on Tuesdays, which I now have off from work. Six hours all for me....kids in school, no work...

What was I thinking? I knew then and know now what I will be doing every Tuesday from now until Clearwater, and from Clearwater until Lake Placid 2009.


you know. The one that takes all day.

Today's workout: Four hours on the bike. Forty minute run. Time leftover after getting ready, getting going, going, going, going, recovering with chocolate milk, showering, and preparing for tomorrow's workouts, which must be planned for right now because I DO work tomorrow:


Not even a little laundry time, my friends. What have I done?

In other news, on my long ride today I saw a friend riding in the other direction. I haven't see said friend in a few months. He turned around, caught me, and we got caught up for a few. He introduced me to his friend, Richie. Richie looked familiar. How did I know him?

As they rode away it came to me.
Richie Cunningham. I should have figured it out when he said he was also training for Clearwater. Duh.
I wanted to come home and email all my friends about how I had just chatted with a superstar triathlete.
But then I remembered that no one, except for possibly you out there, would care!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Lobsterman Oly Race Report

The quick synopsis: Super fast swim. Was it the current? Tipped over on bike after dropping my chain. That is right. I tipped over. Killed myself on the run. I really SUFFERED. (right, Jen?) Placed 4th in AG, but they gave me third for the usual reason: Ange was in the top three and therefore freed up a spot. Overall a very good race for me. Much better than last year, at which it poured and I had to run with frozen stumps of feet for miles before I began to thaw. ___________________________________ The Long Version It was cold and spitting rain when I finally got on the road on Friday night. I had a sick feeling. Would I have to repeat last year's race experience at Lobsterman in which I could not feel my feet until four miles into the run? I pondered this until about Burlington, where I stopped to pick up Claire. We grabbed some dinner (on Claire, thanks!) and then headed up to Maine. Claire didn't complain that I drove like an old lady in the right lane at like 55 mph. I drive a bit like I bike, I'm afraid. We chatted and the time passed quickly. We arrived at my parents' and went right to bed as we had an early start the next morning. I slept like a baby, but Claire slept in the guest room downstairs, which has a SUPER loud grandfather clock outside it that chimes every 15 minutes. oops. Should have shut that annoying thing off. Needless to say, Claire's sleep wasn't as sound as mine...This, combined with the fact that the race people wouldn't let her wear her new, pointy, but also European helmet on the bike course, is probably why she didn't have the very fastest female bike split of the day. She was still close, though. We rose way too early and headed to Freeport. I didn't know exactly where to go, even though I had raced there last year, but I figured we just find a car with a bike on its back and we'd be all set. We made it there. All good. On the journey I sipped my pre-race drink, coffee, and ate a peanut butter sandwich. I also choked down part of a banana. I never want to eat before I race. Too nervous. But I knew I would need the fuel if I wanted to kick ass. And I did. Want to kick ass. really badly. I needed a good race, especially a good RUN, after Timberman. We registered and set up in transition and all that good stuff. I talked to all my good Maine friends and began to pity myself that I didn't live up there with them, close to the pine trees and the moose and the butt cold ocean that I love so, so much. sigh. Onward. The swim was in this very calm cove. The water temperature was only about 60 degrees, but I thought it was fine. I like swimming in cold water like I like running in cold weather. Better cold than hot,that's my opinion. Anyway. Last year at this race the current totally messed with me. I got off course and had to fight my way back. This year? All in the swimmers' favor. We zipped right out to that first buoy and it was smooth sailing after that. Our times were so fast (in general, the swimmers' times all around) that at first I thought they must have changed the course from last year. Actually, though, I think it was all the current. The race last year began at 11am. This year it began at 8:45 am. That must have something to do with it. I have been working on speed in the pool, and I really felt that during this swim. I pushed it the whole time, and this is very unlike me. Usually I push hard, let up, and then push again at the end. I sighted off a girl in my wave. I'm still not sure who it was, though I suspect it was one of my rivals (who doesn't know she is one of my rivals, I'm sure; a woman who has beaten me every race in Maine this season, but who I will catch next year! I swear!) As I left the water I heard a friend of mine who wasn't racing shout, "Great swim, Mary! You're close to Ange!" I snorted, and I heard him chuckle. We both knew this was a big, fat lie! Very funny, Steve! Onto to the bike. I was really dizzy coming out of the water; more dizzy than usual. I actually had to hold onto the bike rack to brace myself because I thought I was going to tip over. Luckily, I did not tip, nor did I take the bike rack down trying to balance. I did tip later on, off my bike and when on the bike course, but I'm getting ahead of myself. I finally stripped off my wetsuit, got on all of my various biking accoutrements, and then I was off. Shakily, but still off. I mounted in my usual granny fashion --straddle the bike, clip in, push off. The bike leg. My perennial problem. My reason for sometimes wanting to through in the towel. Argh. My goal for the bike leg was to suffer. I am, by nature, a loafer on the bike, and this time I was NOT going to be. Anytime I was breathing easily, I would push harder. That was the plan. As it turns out, I had a hard time with this. I worked hard, but not hard enough I don't think, through the first 10 miles. Then I started to fade. My quads were burning and I began to worry that my run was going to suffer. I tried to talk to myself by saying things like, "Stop thinking! Just suffer! Go!" But it didn't really work. Then I hit a stretch of big, steep hills at about mile 15. The course is hilly in general, but his stretch was especially annoying. And that's when it happened. I was beginning to ascend a large hill and I decided I needed to swtich to the baby ring. I did so, and I felt the chain loosen. fuck. At Mooseman when this happened I hopped right off the bike, fixed it and got going. This time I decided to see if I could keep pedaling and have it catch again. nope. no luck. It sounded horrible as I tried to pedal, like I was seriously doing damage to my bike. And then the pedals locked. Totally frozen, and I began to tip.... At the last moment I was able to unclip on the right, and so caught myself from slamming to the ground by being in a big squat. Then I rolled over, the bike on top of me. I admit it. I just laid there for a second. I looked at the sky, took a big breath, and unclipped my left foot. I rolled the bike off me and began to inspect the damage. The chain was totally jammed up between the crank and the ??? part of the bike that is near the crank. I tried over and over to push it down to get it free. Meanwhile people zoomed by me. Agh! Finally I freed it and reset it on the small ring. My hands were black with grease and they hurt from slamming the ground from the rollover/fall. No time to think. I got back on the bike, and slowly made my way up the rest of the hill. The rest of the bike was uneventful, but I was deflated. I knew I had lots several minutes. I was bummed. I vowed to make it up on the run. The run: In transition I saw Claire, who had started the wave behind me but had still caught me. I wasn't surprised by this, but it did motivate me more. How much time would I have to make up on the run to still beat Claire? Three, duh. A lot. I had to get moving! I began the run angry. I hadn't suffered on the bike. I had fucked up the bike yet again. I would KILL myself on this run. I would have a screaming run split. The run was hilly--more hilly then I had remembered. Still, I felt strong, if heavy with bike legs. My first mile was slow--a 7:38. I had to pick up this pace. 7:38's would not do. More than anything I wanted to match my run split from last year which was a 44:45. So far, I wasn't close to being on track. I picked up the pace and felt increasingly strong. I decided I would get faster every mile if it killed me. I managed to do this for the next three miles. Mile 5 was slower, but mile 6 was mostly downhill and the fastest of the day. I didn't match my run split of last year, but I wasn't that far off. My running has been so poor lately, that being that close was very welcome! When I finished the race I found Ange immediately and held out my hands, palms up. "What happened?" she said. I realized they (my hands) were nothing terrible to look at. They were dirty, sure, and red, but basically unscathed. "I fell," I whimpered. She gave me a hug and said, "Oh, they look swollen." They didn't. But I felt swollen and I had a lump in my throat, and it was comforting that she was there and that she worried. Thanks, Ange. "Did you win?" I asked. She was second. She had had a good race. Final splits: swim: 17:45 26/450 bike: 1:14:20 168/450 run: 45:47 84/450 OA 81/450 4th AG Stay tunned for a boring and detailed analysis of last year's results compared to this year's--and also the post race goodies!