Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Watch Mary Kick Her Own xx

On a run last week I talked with a friend about training--and its pull. The gist of the it was that we (as in the people we train with) need to train to live and keep sane. That sounds dramatic, I know. Of course we don't really need to train to live. We need food, water, home and safety. I recognize that we are a privileged lot that can train and feel that we need to train. I get that.

However, what I need to get out is that on many days I feel that training is the only thing that can ground me. The more challenging life becomes, the more I want to train because it is raw, and basic, and releases me into a physical world of rhythm and sweat in which I can let go for a bit. It's a pain you can manage and control. This last week I had more than a few workouts during which I pushed so hard I thought I might be sick. It felt good to hurt that much. It feels good because I'm in control of it. I can make me hurt--instead of outside, uncontrollable forces which may make me hurt, or may just make me nutty, frustrated, isolated, angry etc. etc. I know some of you get this, and I'm glad that you do. I realize what I just described is pathological. People cut themselves or throw up or don't eat for the same reason I just described. I know, I know.

There are other things about training that make it a refuge too, of course. It's a magnificent social outlet if you make it so, it provides you with a goal--a goal that though arbitrary still holds within it purpose for living and moving, and it can be a game for those of us who love to play. It makes you feel good, it makes you look good, and it adds years to your life.

The problem is that training, like any other obsession and/or addiction contains, within it a vicious cycle. You feel like you need to train, so you train more. More is always better in my small world, a core belief which has gotten me into great trouble of the years. The trouble comes when you wake up one morning and realize that you are trying to train for an IM while you parent three little kids, maintain a home and a marriage, and work. And the IM is winning over the other things. Then it's really not good.

Okay ho hum. Enough on that. This last weekend I spent in SURPRISE! -- Maine. Had a great bike class early, early early on Sat. morning that ended in a great run, on which I unfortunately got lost. Still good though. Spent Sat. night with Ange, Alina, Mike and the families. There were nine kids and 7 adults. Crazy and fun. I drank and ate too much.

Saturday I ran 13 in the cold mist of my hometown in Maine. It made me feel alive, and sad, and desperate to get back there--to my friends, my family, to the ocean and the quiet roads.

The only other workout of note was my Tuesday battle with the treadmill. I won. I did 7 miles with 5 at threshold. I actually was quivering when I finished. Ahhh, nothing like beating the old body into submission. No creepy men this week watching me from behind, so that's good.

_________________________ A few videos from the Wilson files:

.Cape Swim Meet
Alina doing the 50 Fly. Note how she is ahead of all of the men.

Here Ange does the 50 Fly. Beautiful, huh?

Noah. That's my boy.

I put this on purely to show how Alina poses for pictures. (Obviously the video part was a mistake.) It makes me totally crack up to watch her!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Guess what?
This week I trained.

Hard to believe, I know.
What actually is hard to believe is that I did NOT race this past weekend. I was scheduled to, but I didn't think it was in my best interest if I wanted to keep my marriage intact. Too many weekends racing in a row makes Mary absent too much. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder in certain cases--especially in the case of the married couple with three little kids. So I didn't race.

The last few days I have really worked the old body to shreds. It started on Saturday when I realized that since I wasn't racing, I really didn't deserve to rest. I decided to get my non-biking ass on the trainer and put in some good, hard, deathly boring trainer miles. I survived for 2 hours and 30 minutes, and I didn't even watch TV while doing it. Instead, I parented perched on top of the bike, and I listened to an excellent playlist I just made which includes such goodies as Back in Black (ac/dc, of course), My Own Worst Enemy (this is an appropriate Mary song, alas), Last Dance (I adore Donna Summer), Flashdance (I'm just dancing through my life), and Add it Up (Violent Femmes--lyrics hold a special place in my depraved heart.) So the ride wasn't so bad.
When that was done I went for a short run. I love transition runs, especially when they are wicked short.

On Sunday I felt like toast, but I needed to get in at least 12 running miles b/c that's how long I would've been running had I raced. My goal was to do the whole thing like it was a race. Right. Me vs. the road. Didn't work. I did choose a wicked, wicked, wicked hilly route though, and I forced myself to keep a good pace, if not exactly race pace. I had my trusty playlist with me again. I replayed Baby Got Back several times to keep me entertained, and sang aloud very loudly to I Can't Fight this Feeling Anymore (Reo Speedwagon--an old fav.).

On Monday I was feeling rather pooped, which irritated me because I am supposed to do a fucking IronMan in five short months, and a mere 2.5 hours on the trainer and a little 12 mile run shouldn't render me useless. So, I headed to the gym to whoop my own butt. I also went to the gym because the gym has childcare, and this is school vacation week. Me + kiddos - work -school = good, but longngngnggng week.

At the gym I ran for 30 minutes just to prove that I wasn't too tired to do so, and then I lifted and worked my core. I pushed a little too far for a little too long, I'm afraid. I'm sore everywhere--but especially in my shoulders and lats. Oops.

The fact that I am so sore did not prevent me from moving onward to my swim this morning (Tuesday). I was surprised that despite being so sore I swam pretty well. My 100s are getting faster. This morning I did four 1:19s in a row, and then a 1:18. That's good for me. I swam 3000 yards and after my shower I pulled on my running garb.

Off to the gym--where I would tussle and defeat the treadmill. It was a great day to run outside, but alas, kids are with me--need childcare to run! So the gym it was. My problem with the treadmill is not that it can be boring (and it can be), but that I get into a competition with my inner critic, who is a downright evil mother fucker, when I'm on it. The thing is that there is not escape from the DATA--bleep bleep bleep--right in front of you, staring you in the face. I started out at a nice 8:40 pace/slight grade to warm up. But it felt hard. Hard! 8:40 should be easy! So I pushed to 8:30s, then 8:20s, just to prove to that asshole the critic that I wasn't really tired. I was wiped before I even started the hill workout which was on the docket. Jen's plan said shoot for a moderate effort on the hills. Okay. Moderate. I can do moderate. I pushed it up to 6.0 grade and kept my pace. My heart rate shot through the roof. I slowed down, but then speeded up again. My critic starting using really foul language to describe me, and I couldn't take the heat. I had to do this.

At about this time, maybe 35mintues into the workout, a middle-aged man walked behind my treadmill. He walked back and forth several times, and I thought, hmmm, does he work here? He then parked himself directly in back of me. He proceeded to stand there STARING AT MY ASS for the next half hour. I thought about turning around and asking him if the view was good enough and should I drop trow now, or what? But I was too scared. So I just kept running. It was freaky though. He stayed there until I finished my workout a half hour later. Wow. That's all I have to say. That takes balls. I tried to give him a dirty look when I got off, but I just managed to look at him and then my eyes dropped to the floor. I'm not sure what I should've done. I kind of wished that Judi or Claire with there to give me power. They would know just what to say.

At least it took my mind off the pain!
I was supposed to go an hour, but I continued, because another problem I have with the treadmill is that I can't end when the numbers aren't even. And they're never even. 6.86 miles? Of course I need to stay on until 7miles! 1:01:20--well of course I need to stay on until 1:02!--7.08 miles--well of course I need to stay on until 7.1 miles! It never fucking ends. Am I crazy? (Don't answer that. I know it's some form of OCD.)

So, that's my training week thus far. This weekend I'm taking the kids and the hub. to Maine to see Ange, Alina and the gang. These are Alina's and my children at Christmas time. We have children who are exactly the same ages and exactly the same genders. We planned it. We have an in with God. (It's the swearing--he secretly loves it...)
Mine are all to the left of the pic, Alina's to the right.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cape 10 Miler Race Report and Maine Masters' Swim Meet Report

Cape Mid-Winter 10 Mile Classic

I love this race because it's in my hometown in Maine. This year a whole troupe of my runner/tri friends were running it. I know I always say it, but this group of friends is a good one. I love coming home to them.
This is the beginning of the race. We were all clustered together and it was impossible to really run. It took at least a minute to get out of it and run free.

I am in the center in the blue jacket. Behind me in blue is Tim, a tri friend, and to his left is Mike, another good tri friend. Both are doing IMLP this year. Just behind Mike is a tall man in red; that's Ange's husband, Mark. Ange is right beside me, but it doesn't look like her in this picture. In the colorful jacket and hat just behind Mark is a friend from high school and a fellow triathlete and swimmer, Steve. Missing in this picture, but close by, are Stacy, another good tri friend, and Jeff, Ange's little brother. Every single one of us finished within two mintues of each other. Neat, huh?

The first half of the race is very hilly, especially mile 2. Still, this part is fast because the downhills are as steep as the uphills. Despite being in that clusterfuck of people in the beginning, I managed to take it out in 7:02. The first mile is largely downhill, so I wasn't too alarmed, even though I was aiming for a 7:15 pace. My big goal was to stay ahead of the men--all named above--until the very end. I knew I wouldn't beat Ange, so I let her go in the first mile.

Here is Mike (in the red) just after the first mile. Doesn't he look fast?? And, yes, importantly, I am ahead of him. Ba haha.

When I was just about at mile 2 I looked at my watch and realized that I had pressed stop instead of lap. Damn! So mile 2 pace was a mystery. I turned back on the watch. Damn. Damn. Damn.

I knew I was keeping a fast pace (for me)--between 7:10 and 7:20 per mile. I worried a bit that I would crash. I haven't done any tempo or speed work, and so therefore didn't feel it would be right if I could hold 7:15s, which was my goal. But I figured if I crashed, I'd crash. Better to be aggressive and try to hold on, than to hold back and not be able to make up for lost time.

Miles 7-9 of this race are just torture in my opinion. They gradually go uphill and it's just unrelenting. Plus you're out on a main strip, and there are no twists or turns to look forward to. I was still holding just under 7:15s, though, so I began to have faith that I could finish up this baby with strength and style. None of the men had passed me. I was all good.

At mile 8 I heard a familiar voice behind me. It was Mark, Ange's husband. Rats! Could I hold him off? I managed to stay just ahead of him until about 9.5, which is when he made his move. Double Rats! Not only that, Jeff, Ange's brother was with him. Triple Rats! Beat by two of them! Argh! Mark shouted at me to stay with them--but they were sprinting and I was just toast. Don't you hate it when people tell you to come with them? I was like--well, yeah, I WOULD come with you if I COULD. What-you think I WANT you to beat me??? (kidding. I still love you, Mark... :)

I picked it up as best I was able, and hoped to God the others weren't close behind. They were....

Ange finished up first, of course. Here she is, all in black, storming into the finish. Next was Jeff, her brother, and then Mark.

Here's Jeff, in the shades, finishing up in just over 1:12.
Mark was only a few seconds behind. He's in the red and blue. Next I came in, flipping exhausted, but totally excited that I had held off the other men. I crossed the line, hugged Ange, and then turned to see that Mike and Tim were just behind me! The six of us all finished within one minute of each other. Crazy. Mike is in the red, and Tim was just barely behind him in the blue. Also pictured are Stacy (smiling!), Steve, and my new friend Erin in the red.

After the race Ange and I showered in the locker room of our old high school, and then came out to discover that we had placed 2nd and 3rd respectively in our AG! Yeah! This race is notoriously competitive, and neither of us has placed in the past, even with faster times than we ran this year, so this was a pleasant surprise.

After that, Ange and I got lunch. That was the best part of the day of all. Thanks, Ange.
This last weekend I went to a Maine Masters Swim Meet. What a trip! What I have to say about the meet is this: wow. swim sprints hurt. I had forgotten what it's like to go into anaerobic debt like that! My longest event took just under three minutes, but each event, no matter how short, flipping hurt like hell!

Once again a whole bunch of my Maine tri/runner friends were there: Ange, Jeff (Ange's little bro), Steve--and this time Alina, too and my new friend Ted. Mark (Ange's husband) and Mike were there too with kids in tow, to cheer us on. Mike is a God with the camera, and he took a billion pictures, so this post will be rich with photo!

First off, you should know that I wore the most ballsy blue, sparkly suit. Swimmers aren't a showy lot, that's for sure, so I stuck out completely. My thinking? If not now, WHEN. It's all apart of the mid-life crisis. I'm almost 40. How many more years will I be able to wear a shiny blue suit with pink straps? Not many, my friends. Not many.

Here I am, shiny and proud:
Right after the meet I shot a rock video.

I warmed up for about 800 yards. I felt pretty groggy. The day before Ange and I had taken a bike class with our tri friends (Tim, Mike, Stacy, a bunch of others we knew) and rode for 2.5 hours on Peak's trainers. Then we ran 3 miles. Later that day, Alina and I went out to eat and had an amazing feast at Street & Co in Portland--we're talking apps, dinner, dessert, several glasses of wine, coffee... the works. It was awesome. (Thanks, Bean.) Anyway, after our feast I went home to my parents' house, where I was staying for the weekend, and went straight to bed. It was like 8:30 p.m. (You must remember I had no KIDS with me. Time to catch up on sleep, baby!) I slept until 7:15 the next morning--so we're talking close to 11 hours.

In short, I wasn't feeling too perky.

Add to my lack of perk a big dose of paralyzing fear.

I was not scared of the pain, or of swimming, or any of the events. I was scared of diving off the blocks. I haven't been in a swim meet since I was seventeen years old. That would be -- ummm -- 21 years ago. Diving off the blocks isn't something you do unless you're in a meet, so that's right, it had been 21 years since I had stood on a block and attempted that kind of a dive. Those suckers are really high up. Am I getting wimpy in my old age? BLAHH!

I dove off the blocks a few times in warm-up. The first time I went so deep I could have licked the bottom of the deep end, and I didn't come up for like a half hour. Not pretty. By the third or fourth dive I was doing slightly better. Then I found out that for the backstroke competitors are no longer allowed to put their feet in the gutter to push off on the start. DOUBLE BLAHHH! I tried a few back starts, and frankly, I know I looked positively demented. I did a back flop each time. So not smooth.

Okay! The meet! I've blathered on for so long now, I think I will just say this:
I did seven events. That was way too many. I was really tired. duh.
I loved watching my friends swim. Ange swam a billion events and did things like swim the 100 fly in 1:12 and the 50 fly in 30. My friend Alina did a 1:07 in the 100 fly and she broke 30 in the 50 fly. My friend Steve did a 53 in the 100 free and a 24 in the 50 free. Jeff, Ange's little brother, did a 52 in the 100 free and a 23 in the 50 free. Do you HAVE ANY IDEA HOW FAST THOSE TIMES ARE?

Wicked, wicked fast.

My times were not so fast. Still, I pretty much think I am a swim goddess worthy of worship.

Here are my times:
200 IM-- 2:50
100 free -- 1:10
100 back --1:19
100 IM --1:21 (that's kinda lame)
50 fly --36
50 back --37
50 free --32

None of those times compare to what I did in high school. But whatever. They're fast for a 38 year old mom of three! Plus, I was wearing a shiny blue suit with pink straps. Nothing could keep my mood down.

After the meet we all went out to lunch at some super yummy organic sandwich place in Portland that Steve suggested. I love Portland. I love Maine. I love swimming. I love my Maine buddies. I am lucky to have these things--even if I can't live in Maine, my true home.

Here are a bunch of cool photos from the meet. Thanks, Mike!