Saturday, June 28, 2008

Back to Maine

This is Portland Head Light. It's in Fort Williams State Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. It's home. This summer we are having work done on our home in MA. I asked my mom awhile ago if I could move up to Maine for the summer after school let out-- with the three kids in tow. She agreed, and here I am. (thanks, mom.) There are a few problems with this arrangement. 1. The hub. can only see us on weekends. We miss the hub. 2. I miss my dogs, who are home with the hub. 3. My mom and dad might go insane by the end of the summer, and if they do, I will feel really, really bad about it. 4. NO WIRELESS INTERNET. In fact, right now, no internet at all. My mom's ancient computer is getting repaired, and currently I am using my friend's laptop, which occasionally gets access online when it picks up someone else's wireless network. Sigh. Hopefully I will find a way to keep in touch with my online world. Here are a few really awesome things about this arrangement: 1. We can go to the beach every day. 2. Training up here is awesome. It's beautiful and peaceful, and I can do my open water swimming in the Atlantic! 3. Alina, my best friend from H.S., is here with her three kids and our kids play everyday. 4. I'm now living nearer to my other best friend from H.S.--Ange! We hope to do some great training together this summer! ______________________________ In other news, I had a super deluxe bike fitting at Fit Werx on Wed. It was truly awesome. I love it when the focus is all on me! Ha! It took more than three hours. I came home with a new saddle, a new cassette (I was using a 12/23--got a 12/27), and a whole new position! It feels way more comfy on the bike now. I'm pleased. The hub., however, is not. Super deluxe fittings and new bike parts are expensive, and I "will not be denied." That can't be good. What do you think he's trying to say? (I can't hear you I can't hear you....) Acutally, I can hear you. I will never buy anything ever again. ever. Although I'm not really liking my wet suit these days.... Okay, what else? I have been a super slug all week in training. My heartrate refuses to be compliant and beat as I want it to beat. Instead it stays steadfastly in the recovery zone at all times. And I'm tired. Like really, really, please let me sleep all day tired. I did all my required workouts this week, but I did them without any umph, and a few I cut short. Next week I will be BACK--. (right?) I don't even want to post my hours this week because they are so lame compared to last week! Here are a few pictures from the QT2 Weekend. Thanks Michelle! Out to dinner: Kim, Michelle, me Kim "studying" Birthday cake for me. Thanks, Kim! Jesse making announcements in front of our Power Bar sign. We are a good little team, following all of our sponser's wishes. :) Kim looking gorgeous, me looking scary. End of the weekend. Goodbye! There are no pictures of us training, because, well--we were training!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Training Weekend: Part 1

A few verys:

Very fun.
Very hard.
Very satisfying.
Very happy about new friends!

A few firsts:

First time I rode a century-- 107 miles to be exact!
First time I have drafted on the bike.
First time I have pulled on the bike.
First time I have ridden with more than one person on a ride!
First time I swam 2 miles straight in the open water
First time I have been away from my kids for more than 3 days
First time I have logged more than 17 hours in one week of training
First time I have looked at my watch at 6:30 at night and realized I had been working out ALL day long
First time I have been recognized as a trooper--a non-complainer--and hard worker in sport (Thank you, Jesse.)
First time I have hung out for a long stretch of time with serious triathletes, most of whom are ten times better than me, and most of whom do ten times more than me in terms of training
First time I have felt young--younger than my age--in a really, really long time.

It was a great weekend.
Thank you, QT2!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thank You, God

Today was the last day of school, and the last day of teaching sixth grade for me for a long, long, time.
I don't write much about my work. I have a fear that a parent of a child I teach will read my blog. You never know.
But I have to say it: this year was the hardest year I have EVER had in the classroom. I had a tough class, I am burnt to a crisp, and my life outside of school was so intensely busy, some days I thought I simply wouldn't make it through.
But I did.
It's done.
I wanted this school year to end even more than I wanted to stop running when I puked on the run at Mooseman. That's saying something.

Hello elementary library!
I made it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You've Come A Long Way, Baby...

Today is Lara's third birthday.
She had a rough start, but she was one Iron Baby.

The hub. took this video. Kind of dark and depressing, I know. I wasn't walking again yet; those c-sections put you out for the first 24 hours or so. I believe I was actually in the next room bawling because I wasn't allowed in the NICU to nurse.

Four days later she graduated from NICU land and moved downstairs in the maternity ward with me!
Here she meets her big sister and brother for the first time. Jordan is three and Noah is 20 months. I am younger than I am now. Three years younger to be precise.

Happy Birthday, Big Girl!
(Please excuse my singing voice; I'm no Celine Dion.)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Since Saturday I've been thinking about something. I've never puked on a run before, but yet, the feeling was soo, soo familiar to me on Saturday--. I've been wracking my brain, trying to think why the puking while running thing seemed not too foreign, something I had done before--more than once. And then it came to me.

Keg runs.

I played rugby in college. Yes, yes. I know you all have images of women rugby players in your mind. But in division three (I went to Bates College way up in Maine--a really small school) the girls who play rugby are just girls who like to drink (a lot) , like to get gross and muddy, like to sing vulgar songs at the top of their lungs, and who didn't make the soccer team, were bitter as a result, and decided to apply their talent elsewhere...

I never did play soccer, but I did fit the other criteria. Plus, I really like to tackle. I'm better at tackling than I am at triathlon. Remember, I am really an aggressive bitch hiding behind a nice person facade.

Anyway. I digress. KEG RUNS! and also PUB CRAWLS! My boyfriend (at the time) and I kicked ass on team pub crawls. I could chug fast and run fast. But I NEVER kept the beer down when running. I just puked and kept going.

Just like Saturday.

You never know when a skill you have acquired in a previous life will come in handy.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mooseman Race Report or.... I'm Humbled

This weekend was an emotional and physical rollercoaster for me. I have learned that I can fight to the end no matter what comes my way. This is good. But I'm humbled. In triathlon, unlike pure running, so many little things--mechanically, physically, mentally, nutritionally--can go wrong. To have a race completely come together I realize, now, is somewhat luck and definitely a gift. Mooseman was my seventh triathlon, and by far my hardest, not because I wasn't in good physical and mental shape, but because throughout the race things went wrong, and I had to pick myself up, get over it, and keep going.

I think I will start with the good. Here's a list:

*I really, really did well in the swim (for me.) I was the 13th female swimmer out of a field of 316, and I was 38/730 competitors overall. That puts me in the top 3.6% for women, and the top 5.2% overall. I consider myself a strong swimmer, but I exceeded even my own lofty goals for this swim. As a bonus, I finished ahead of several women who posted faster swim times than me in my previous tri this spring. Pretty satisfying.

*I was within 11 seconds of making the goal Cait (my coach) set for me on the bike and I exceeded my own goal of averaging 19.5 mph. I finished the 27.25 miles in 1:22:11 which comes out to 19.9 mph average. I did this despite that I had to stop to fix a dropped chain. My placing isn't as strong in the bike as the swim, but it is better than my bike placing in previous races. I'm pleased.

*I managed to average 7:28 pace on the 10K, and I negative-splitted, despite that I had to stop and puke one mile into the run. That's right. I puked.

*Had I not gotten a 2 minute penalty for drafting or dropping a water bottle (not sure why I got the penalty--all I can say is that I certainly tried hard not to draft! Pretty hard in a race that dense with competitors), I would have been 6/70 in my AG and 21/322 overall, female in a competitive, all New England race. With the penalty I was 9th AG and 25th F overall.

*I had a great weekend hanging out with Ange, her brother Jeff and another Mainer, Mike. Simply said, they are great people. I'm so glad I was able to spend the weekend with them. Thank you, Mike, for taking care of us! My friends from Team QT2 (and some not on the team but coached by QT2) were there too, they all did awesome in the race, and they were so supportive and great to have around. Also, I finally got to meet blogger LG! Cait was there and I saw her a bunch of times on the course. It was motivating. Three of my QT2 teammates and I finished within one minute of each other--and that was really fun too! (I admit I was the slowest of the four, though! :)

*Ange was amazing and finished third overall, just like I knew she would.

Okay, okay, on to the actual report. (Are you still there?) Ha ha. I know I blab.

We got up at 4:30 a.m., scrambled to eat and pack up, and got to the race site early. This was great in terms of parking, but bad in that there was a thick fog on the lake, and they were threatening to both delay and shorten the swim as a result. They ended up doing both.

We got all ready. Here's what's amazing--. Out of over 700 athletes total and 70 woman in my AG, somehow Ange and I were placed right next to each other in transition. Right next to each other! It was great. We donned our wetsuits and traveled down to the swim start.

Here's where things went slightly awry. The fog was so thick you could only see the first buoy--at most a mere 300 yards away. They delayed the start, hoping it would lift. Ange and I got in to warm up. The water was reported to be 58 degrees. Let me tell you something. 58 degrees is really, really fucking cold. We lasted about 5 minutes and decided that was enough!

We waited around for an hour before the officials finally decided to start the swim, but they shortened it so they wouldn't lose people in the fog. This was not good for me. The swim is my strongest leg usually, and to shorten it weakens my overall race. Ange, Jeff and I were all bummed.

Finally we were off. I felt great in the water. It was cold, but I felt strong. After vying for position for some time, I (amazingly) found a girl my pace and I latched on. I sighted only her, and followed her the whole way. Good move. Not only could I draft (the first time I have done so successfully) I also was disoriented because of the cold, and I made her do all the work sighting for real. She was awesome. She got right close to the buoys and was totally efficient. I looked at the results, and according to time and that I know she was a 35-39er because of her cap, I think her name was Heather. Thanks, Heather!

I was really dizzy out of the water, but I got my bearings pretty quickly and I was off. I was unsteady at first; I always am after I swim, but I quickly got the hang of it. Riders were EVERYWHERE--all over the road. No one seemed to be where they were supposed to be--all in the middle and to the center instead of to the left so others could pass. It was maddening and also scary. Finally things cleared out, but through the whole ride it was really tough to get clear of people. I had moments where I know I was drafting and didn't know quite how to swing it so I was still moving at the pace I wanted to but was clear of riders.

About 10 minutes into the ride I swerved to miss a pothole (the road was really bad that way) and I hit another pothole. It was bad. I almost lost my balance and I feared a tire was blown. Also, my aero bottle somehow came unhinged, flew upward and into my neck and face. There was Gatorade everywhere--all over me, my bike--and then I heard the bottle clatter to the ground and I heard a rider behind me little out a squeal. I think this may be where I got my penalty. I don't know.

I was flustered. I had no other fluid. I decided not to carry extra bottles, thinking I'd only need what was in my aero bottle. The guy who squealed rode up next to me and offered me one of his bottles. God, people can be so gracious. I declined, knowing people have plans and not wanted to screw his up. This fiasco was my problem and my fault. Obviously my bottle hadn't been fixed correctly and I should've had an extra bottle of fluid just in case. I was pissed--at me. I hammered on--and then hit what is called Devil's hill. Oh my God. I was so startled to see it in front of me and I immediately shifted wheel rings. I felt the gears skip, and then a loosening and I looked down to see my dropped chain. DAMN! I got off--saw it was still attached, spun my crank and it re-connected. Only about 30 seconds lost (not including the slowing, of course). I probably could have spun the crank while riding, but I was so flustered I didn't. Oh well.

The hill was so steep I was only going about 4 mph. I was feeling a little despairing--.

Things were not going well at all. I tried to just talk myself through it. This lasted for the next 10 minutes. Then I began to get thirsty.

Half way through the ride there was a water bottle drop/pick up. For the first time in my tri career I picked up a bottle! I had to slow way down, but I did it. Then I tried to open it. No luck. I moved slower and slower as I focused on opening the bottle, and finally I was able to release the top. I took my first sip. Paused. I took another. My hands were wet with sweat. The bottle slipped through my fingers and fell to the ground.

I admit it. I should've stopped to get it. But I wasn't rational. I didn't stop. A USAT motorcycle was right near me. Here, again, I could've been given a penalty. And I began to cry.

After about three or four minutes of pedaling and pitying myself, I pulled it together. I was fine. I probably hadn't gotten a penalty (only later did I find out I did, though again, I don't know if it was for dropping one of the two bottles or for drafting or not passing fast enough or what). I only had about 12 miles to the finish. I would be fine. Parched, nutritionally fucked-up, but fine.

Ahead of me I saw a QT2 shirt. I pedaled fast to catch up, and saw it was Chrissie! (teammate, Jesse's wife). It took her a second to figure out who I was. Then she recognized me and I passed her. About 10 seconds later she sped past me a lightening speed. I didn't see her again. Guess I was motivation!

I was feeling more and more parched and more and more tired. We made a few turns onto horribley paved roads. I thought I must be close to the end. I fell behind a biker who I thought might be Nancy Thompson. Later I found out I was right. I stayed about five bike lengths back and didn't try to pass. Here, again, I could've been tagged for drafting. I'll never know! I know I wasn't within three bike lengths, but there is no doubt I was intentionally not dropping back or surging forward.

When I finally got to transition I was so thirsty. I have never really been thirsty in a race. I have been dehydrated without really knowing it, but never downright thirsty. I had a bottle of Accelerade in my bag. I found it, chugged about half of it, and I was off.


I immediately felt horrible. I knew I was close to losing it. I was running very slowly, just trying my best not to throw up. I hit the first mile 10:32. Oh my God. I slowed more. And then it just came up. It only took about 10 seconds. It was all liquid. It was through my nose and mouth before I even knew what was happening. I don't think the spray hit anyone. I hope not. No one said anything. They just ran by. That was a relief to me. At that point any pity would have had me crying or screaming. I'm not sure which.

The good thing about puking, as you all know, is that you feel much better after you do it. I felt thirsty and sick, but better. I began running slowly, then picked it up. I had stopped my watch after the puke, and I decided not to start it again.. This run was not one to be recorded. This run was one to endure.

At about mile 2 I saw Ange coming back in the other direction. Holy shit. She actually didn't look totally strong, but she was still really moving, and I quickly figured out she had to be close to 15 minutes ahead of me. Wow.

The route was really hilly. I thanked God on the downhills and gritted my teeth on the uphills, hoping I wouldn't lose my lunch (or lack of) again. I passed the point at which I had puked. I hit mile 5. I dug deep. I tried to ignore the taste of vomit in my mouth and nose. I saw Cait and heard her scream--and then Tim screaming for me too. I pushed it over the last hill, sprinted as best I could the last 200 yards.
And it was done.

I feel better about the race after writing about it. Isn't it strange how that happens? I need to feel blessed that I competed yesterday, before the amazing heat rolled in. A bunch of my teammates did the 1/2 today.

I just checked the results and they all finished--and they all finished really well. Cait defended her title and won it again. Tim was fifth, Jesse was seventh, and Tim Tapply, a teammate, was eighth and Pat, another teammate, was 14th. Cait was 11th overall (as in overall both males and females) and beat the next female competitor, Karen Smyers (I know you've all heard of her....) by more than 12 and half minutes. Paul, Brian--you guys did amazingly well. And Paul, we need to bond about the penalty! NO FAIR! Most of all I'm proud of Kim, who was stressed out but calm and focused, and crushed that course despite the humid, ninety-five degree heat and those killer hills. Go Kim!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

I Got the Paper, Ma!

Noah has graduated from Preschool 1. Go Noah! Only 18 more years of school to go before he graduates college. Only 20-22 more years if he goes to grad. school. Or, if he's like the hub, just 25 more years before he earns his doctorate. Or, perhaps, an M.D.? Only 26 more years if he goes to medical school--and only 28 more years if he decides to go to medical school and specialize in a difficult surgical field. Maybe he'll become a pro triathlete and save us some cash? Nah. Most pros have degrees and work another job to keep afloat. Baseball or basketball pro, maybe? That would save us some cash, definitely. I'll have to look into some kiddie basketball and/or baseball camps for the summer. Ha! Kidding.

For now we'll focus on having a fun, low-key summer, and then attacking Preschool 2 next fall.

I'm having a "recovery" week. Thank God. I'm feeling a little more zippy --although not totally zippy. Thursday and Friday are super light days before Mooseman on Saturday, and I need them! My ass has been hurting--the piriformus muscle--. Anyone else get that? Any solutions?

FYI, my very own good friend from high school, the super scary fast triathlete ANGE was this month's Gatorade Athlete of the Month in Triathlete Magazine! So cool! You all must check her out!

The last couple of days I have been in a correcting hell (gotta remember I'm a teacher). I HATE correcting. You spend tons of time writing perfectly careful, logical, helpful comments only to have the kids look straight for the grade when getting the paper back and then chucking it into the trash. grrr.

Send me fast thoughts for Saturday! I'm plenty excited and plenty nervous!