Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sick, Fuzzy, Down for the Count

Woah Mama.  

Gastroenteritis is so fun.... 

Noah, my five-year-old, gave me a special present: his absolutely VIOLENT stomach virus. I don't need to go into the graphic details (although you all know I'm not above such things) however, suffice to say that my stomach and colon have been cleaned out completely in the last 12 hours. ___________ My last day of work was Wednesday. Childcare ended yesterday, Friday. TWO WHOLE DAYS!!! Thursday was sort of a wash. It started out great, with a final trip into work to clean out my desk and a fantabulous run, but then I had to get my sweet little son early from daycare because--well--he was puking. 

From the moment I cleaned up the first pukey mess I began to pray: Just let me get it after my long ride tomorrow. This is a key ride--I have to go--just let me get it after....Please God. Please. Well. God complied. I made it through my ride on Friday. But I was not off the hook. Oh no. I had planned to attend a dinner party at one of my good college friend's houses with Andy last night. This woman can host, man. Mojitos, awesome apps, fish tacos.... and best of all, great company. 

Within a 1/2 hour of arrival I knew I was in trouble, though. There was no powering through it. I had at best 15 minutes before I was going to be talking to God via his porcelain connection. I grabbed Andy, who at that point didn't realize the gravity of the situation, got a bucket from Court (the bestest hostess), gave my hugs and told my friends to wash everything I had touched really carefully. I made it down the driveway and into the car before the puking began. 

Puking when you're drunk really is the worst. I haven't experienced it for years, but I experienced it plenty as a young lass, and I remember. Worse, though, is puking when totally sober. It's especially fun when you're puking up Endurox. I hadn't had much more than PowerBar Endurance, gels, a few bars and Endurox all day, so there wasn't that much that could come up. My stomach was insistent, though, and found a way to allow me to continue puking long after the contents of my stomach should have been empty. And then my colon kicked in to make sure I was completely cleaned out in every way... Okay. Enough! haha! And here I said I wasn't going to give the gruesome details! I just couldn't resist. 

Anyway, back to the ride and before I got sick... As you may be aware, it's been raining here in New England--for like forever. When it's not raining it's overcast and muggy. My bike shoes absolutely reek. I have forgotten what it's like to feel sun on my back. I have contemplated creating and marketing glasses that have windshield wipers. But Friday morning it was NOT raining. The weather called for thunderstorms, but whatever. I could deal with that. I was psyched and ready to roll. Mrs. Zebra was loaded up like a pack horse with drink, gels, bars, phone, money, ID etc. etc. etc. I dressed all in black so I could take on my bad ass persona and match Mrs. Z in style. Life was good. I dropped off the kidlets, explained that if someone was to start, say, puking, they'd have to call Andy, because I was going for a long, long, ride and it would be tough to get back in a timely fashion should such a crisis arise. The only problem I had was that I was riding alone. For like seven hours. That's kind of a long time. But I do most everything workout-wise alone these days, so I knew I could handle it. The plight of working out alone... Interesting topic for another post. 

I had decided to ride to Mt Wachusett, a mountain/national park about 50 miles away. Unfortunately, I've never done that ride, and anyone who knows me knows that this is a problem... I'm just not super when it comes following a cue sheet. Additionally, I didn't have a formal cue sheet, just my own sloppy instructions and my IPhone. The IPhone is awesome--it can get me anywhere. The problem was how much I had to use it. After two hours of riding I had already spent at least 20 minutes off the bike trying to figure out where to turn next, and I was super irritated. Finally I decided that this ride just wasn't going to happen today. I will find a friend who has done that ride and force him/her to go with me to show me the way. Until then...I hightailed it back to an area I know well, and set out to do the remaining 4 hours on the bike. 

The route I chose was super hilly. My mph were super slow. And it started to rain. This was no thunderstorm. This was just -- rain. For 2.5 hours straight. I felt so unbelievably pissy--really, it's a blessing I was alone. Additionally, I didn't want to stop at all because I had wasted so much time off pedal early in the ride. Today would be the day I did everything while riding: peeing, refueling, refilling. I even ran a few stoplights so I could keep motoring along. The good news is that I have discerned that I have no problem peeing on the bike. The key, I discovered, is that you can't be pedaling. You just need to pause and let it go. Another key: pee often. That way you don't have a massive wet that streaks down your legs. Grrrrrossss. 

As I peed away I couldn't help but think in my mind about how when your baby is little, daycares and doctors refer to peeing etc as BW or SW or BBM or SBM--standing for BIG WET or SMALL WET etc. As I peed I'd think to myself, Oh! BIG WET! cause you know--it's a bit like filling a diaper. God, I'm just gross today, huh? 

Interestingly, I never really got super tired. I got bored. I didn't want to be out there anymore. I wanted to go home and take an ice bath and chill. (haha.) But I didn't get tired, really. I felt like if someone had a gun to my head and told me I now had to run a marathon, I could. Somehow I'm going to have to muster up the umph to run that marathon without a gun to my head, though. Maybe I could imagine I have a gun to my head? I had to spend so long out there to get in my 116 miles that I had to ride straight to daycare to get the kids. (It's up the street from where I live.) I showed up looking just nasty: dirt everywhere, even up my back (remember it rained), sweaty, salty, and just in general looking like I was in dire need of a shower. I walked in with my bike shoes and helmet on and tried not to act as if anything was out of the norm. Surely they had seen a MOM enter in such garb before? And I wonder why I have a reputation in this town as the psycho triathlon mom who abandons her kids to ride, run and swim....

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random Shit

I went into work to clean out my desk, clean up, and bring my files/desk shit etc home.
I am no longer a teacher. At least for now. I'm taking a break.

This is weird for me. I have been teaching since I was 22 years old. Before that I was a swim instructor and camp counselor. Before that I taught ballet. I've spent my life in khakis and clogs--in dusty classrooms with middle school kids. Since I began teaching I have taught at least 1200 hundred kids--more if you count the kids I taught when in grad school as a TA or before I started formally teaching in a classroom. My first sixth grade class of kids are now 27 years old.

I've always taught. It's what I do. I'm not sure I know how to do anything else.

Which is why, in part, I had to stop teaching.

Here I am at 39. I'm not sure what the hell I'm going to do next. The mid-life crisis continues....

Well, actually, I do. Next I'm going to do IronMan. Someone I was just chatting with about IM recommended that I focus on it--and it alone-- from now until L.P. Training for an IronMan has both psychological and physical repercussions. In short, you get a little fucked up when training for an IM. Hence, now is not the time to contemplate the next step. I'm going to take that advice. I have 4.5 weeks until the race. I can focus on just my kids and my training until then.

And speaking of training.....
It has been really intense lately. I am flipping tired. I've been tired before, but this is different. This is like--will I ever be fresh again? kind of tired. Bed always looks inviting and gettting up early again and again and again is just about killing me.

But you know? It makes me happy right now. It's predictable, it's tough, it's rewarding. Most importantly, it feels good to have months and months of hard, long training under my belt. Money in the bank for IM. It's there. No one can take it away.

Tomorrow I ride for 115. It will be the longest ride I've ever done (the previous high being the 112 I did at camp a few weeks back.) I'm psyched. But wary. I'm tired going into this ride. It will be a true test of my physical and mental toughess.

Kurt put the idea of making an M-Dot cake into my mind. I am SO going to do that, in addition to getting my tat--whatever form that takes. I'm going to make that cake, get a few kegs and have a party in Maine after L.P. is over. You're invited.
I can't wait for L.P.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Cakes, Kids and too Much Rain

This is the castle cake Jordan (7) and I made for Lara's 4th birthday party. It's quite the masterpiece. It turned out much better than the fire engine cake I made for Noah's 2nd birthday--which looked as if it had gotten into a crash.
I am generally quite happy with my cake making skills, however. For example, I am especially proud of:
The mermaid cake--for Jordan's 5th. That was a real beauty.
Noah's 3rd bday cake was a train. I liked this one too, but it not looking like it's ready to take off at any great speed. Moving vehicles are hard to achieve in cake making land.

Another one I really like was simple, but good. The cat cake is easy to achieve, and very fun. This was for Jordan's second.I especially like the cupcakes I made to go with it. Actually, I think the coolest cupcake, the open-mouthed scary kitty, was made by my older sister Laura, who is only slightly better than me in cakemakingville.
One of my biggest failures was for Lara's second birthdy. It was supposed to be a dog. Not good to start with, it was made worse by the fact that my REAL dog bit off its right paw. I had no more white frosting to make another paw, so I had to make it with red frosting. It is remembered as the Dog Cake with the Bloody Paw.

One of my all time favorites I can't take credit for. The pigeon cake, straight from Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, was made by Alina for her daughter, Maria. It was a keeper, except that we ate it, of course.

At any rate, the fiesta for Lara's 4th was a success. Here she is with her cake.

And here are all three of my beauties post-party after destroying the remaining water balloons created for Jordan's roll the water balloon down the slide game. (The game was a hit, btw. Leave it to the second grader to come up with the most entertaining games...):
Enough of kids and cakes.

Onto training.
Wow. This weekend was freaking tough.
On Friday morning I swam more than 2 miles in the open water with Melissa. We didn't stop, like AT ALL. It was impressive. It took forever. We were proud.
(and tired.)
In the afternoon I had a short, easy run.
BUT THEN on Saturday I went for a three hour run. I was supposed to go for three hours or 20 miles, whichever came first, but I had my heart set on 3 hours. (sorry, Jen.) So I ended up going 22 and a tad. The last 10K I did at a faster clip, and I was TOAST when I was done.
But then I loafed around all afternoon with the kids, and I felt better.
I got up at 5 am this morning to go on my ride. It was wet. I need windshield wipers for my biking glasses. Will it ever stop raining around here? God! Anyway, I went for a little over 80 miles in the spitting rain. UGH! But it was fine. I tried to stay on top of my nutrition, but I still didn't take in enough fluid because it was so cool and I ended up hundreds of calories short. grrrr.

Yesterday Andy did a 160 mile ride called the Brewery to Brewery Ride or B2B, as it's known around here, which goes from MA to VT. He had fun, and now I want to do it, of course! Someday, someday....

Happy Father's Day to all of you dads out there.
And happy being-a-mom day too because moms rock the house. and make cool cakes. and stuff like that.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lake Placid Training Camp with Team Nor'Easter

First: A few Mooseman Pictures

In all of my run pictures at Mooseman I have that same worried expression. I'm pretty sure I was wondering, as I often do during the run portion of triathlon, 1. whether I will actually make it to the end, and 2. What was I thinking when I signed up for Ironman????

But onward.

Last weekend I drove myself to Lake Placid, NY to train with a few of my Nor'Easter Team triathlon friends. The trip took close to six hours including stops, but I have to admit I didn't mind the trip in either direction. I listened to a book on tape (Jane Green's Second Chance--somewhat cheesy middle-aged woman lit). I identified with several characters in the book, who were all women of 39 going through various mid-life crises. Loved it. Identifying with characters as they evolve and figure out their life transitions is satisfying.
This is me at the end of the race. I like this picture because I look like I have long legs, which let me tell you, I don't.

On to the weekend!
Ange and I shared a room.
We had like 20 bags of shit between us, plus our bikes, plus I don't know what. It was pretty amazing. We even brought a coffee maker. You can't risk such things as not having coffee when you need it.

On our first night we went out for a run. I dying to run because I had been basically resting since the Half Ironman last Sunday. We went out with a group that I thought would be too fast for me, but the group swore they were going easy, and so I went too. Turns out they weren't lying. One thing I'm learning is that the best athletes really do work out at all different speeds and intensities. You can't just look at someone's race times and determine whether you could train with them, or not. Often people with slower times will push you, and people with faster times will go surprisingly slow. I know this observation is rather obvious, but I have always been very black and white about training. You are better than me, or you are not. I will hold you back, or I will be frustrated by having to move too slowly. Sometimes these things are true; sometimes they are not. But you can't know by assumption.

New friends. This run was the beginning of it. Have I mentioned I love new friends? Several people--actually more than several--turned out to be remarkably funny and cool. Being remarkably funny and cool myself, I am immediately able to identify such characteristics in others. That night we went out to a pub for dinner and a beer. I love beer almost as much as I love making new friends. The combination of the two? Perfecto.

The next morning we got up and -- slugged.
Wow. I haven't done that in a really long time. I felt as if we should be doing something, and after a longish diner breakfast and way too much coffee, I became genuinely fidgety. Finally we we packed up and went for a ride. It was slow and comfortable, and only lasted for 20 miles. Still, it was something.

And then we went swimming! Yeah! We swam the two laps of the LP course. It was great the first lap. Then I got bored. That's a long time to just, well, swim. I finished her up in like 1:05. I kind of dislike myself for allowing myself for to get bored, lose focus, and loaf. The lake is awesome, though. The area is just beautiful.

Then Ange and I went for a brisk run around the lake. Ahhhhh.....

Dinner, chit-chat with good friends, bed.

I slept well.
I got up. We made coffee. We drank coffee. We ran around like crazy women getting ready to bike. and then.
I was ready--ready to bike the course.
The plan was to take the first loop slow, ride with the group and not do anything stupid.
This is what we did. The first loop we took really, really, really, really slow. sloooooooooooow.
It was cool, so I was inclined not to drink, but I forced myself to. I also forced myself to eat. People looked at me funny when I took my first gel in at 35 minutes, but I really wanted to test out my race day nutrition--and this was my big chance. I am happy to say--I officially have my bike nutrtion plan. It involves lots of PowerBar Endurance (5.5 bottles), water, lots of salt, lots of gel (one every 40 min or so), one yummy Lara Bar, one Peanut Brittle Clif Bar, and one bag of pretzel cracker- peanut butter sandwichs. My stomach is pretty tough; I think I'll be able to handle the bars. Plus, I plan to be conservative on the bike. I want a good run.

I rode with Ange the whole way. Sometimes we were close to the group, sometimes ahead. It was solid. It felt good. It wasn't as hard as I had feared it would be. I love riding with Ange. Hell, I just love Ange!

After the ride Ange and I went on another brisk run. Too brisk, in fact! We were both SOOO hungry and so ready for the work to be over that we hammered. Ange's heartrate monitor was beeping out of control because we were way above what we should've been for heart rate. (I don't have mine set to beep--or mine would have sung right out too). We ran about 6 and then called it a day, struggling up that last hill coming in town. Wahoo!

The next morning was my daughter's 4th b-day, so I got up super early and got my long run in starting at 5 a.m. so I could leave Lake Placid by 7 and be back home by noon. God it's beautiful out there. You don't notice it so much when you're cruising along on your bike and riding with friends, but when alone, running in the early, cool morning, it's just--amazing. What a great run. (Amazing except for the mother of a hill coming into town: that SUCKS. Can't wait to do that on race day 2x.... That will be wicked fun.)

This week has been CRAZY. It's the last week of school, it's a big training week, it's my daughter's b-day party tomorrow. Jordan (oldest daughter and chef extraordinaire at age 7) will help me make the cake. We're making a castle cake-- (b/c it's a princess party, of course--4-year-old girl = princess obsession.) I'll post a picture of it when we're done.

I loved camp. I love my tri friends (and those tri friends not at camp--and my other friends, too!). I love training. I love that school is ending and I'm not teaching next year--finally. I love that things are changing--and that these changes are going to be good in the end. I love Andy. I love my kids. Those of you with kids--you now how much.
I feel thankful today.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mooseman Half Iron RR or Mary Makes Damn Sure Her Hard Work Pays Off

I have some great friends. I arrived on Friday night despondent and sad because of other yucky stuff going on that just sucks sucks sucks --and did I mention sucks? And they brought me up.
They made this weekend. And right up front I want to say thank you for that.

Friday night:
Ange (DrivetoTri), Mike (Sandbagger MacDonald--haha jk!) , and I had dinner at our inn. It was a German inn, and I just need to say that the woman who served us had the biggest knockers I've ever seen in my life, and they were pushed up in such a way that she could have stacked plates upon them and served us that way. I tried not to stare, but it was hard. It was truly amazing.

That's the only interesting thing to report about Friday night. After dinner we went to bed.

The next morning we got COFFEE! of course. And then we went to watch Steve (MaineSport) and Kim (Teta Equals Booty) and other very special people that we love dearly but who don't have blogs so I'm not going to mention them by name.

It was fun to watch everyone. The best moments of the day:

1. Mike is going to send me a pic of the guy who left the swim holding a GIGANTIC dead fish in his hand that he preceeded to swing around and around. I kid you not. You're sending that pic, right Mike? Get a move on there, brotha. (Mike sent it to me. Thanks, Mike!)

2. When we saw one of the first women pass on the bike Ange shouted, "Go Woman!" It was really funny, but I think you had to be there to appreciate how funny.

3. Ange and Mike are super prepared people, so I was well fed. I am chronically underprepared, so this was just a special treat for me. Thanks for letting me eat all of your food, guys.

4. Seeing all of our friends on the course. I missed some after the race, though I looked EVERYWHERE for EVERYONE (esp. Kim) so I don't get how this happened. It was good to see Steve. He did wicked good and we were very proud to know him.

We racked our bikes and tried to calm Ange down, and I chatted with new friends and old friends and in general just felt all warm and friendly.

For dinner a bunch of us went to a sweet little dive and ate pizza etc.

And then we went back to the inn and tried to sleep.


We got up. We didn't leave early enough. This didn't bother me that much b/c I never leave early enough, which is why, I suppose, I am always late. Ange is not, though. She is always the first person in transtion at like 3 am. But she handled our lateness really well. She is making real progress and we are all very proud of her.

When we got there I hooked up with Melissa, who I had been eager to see all weekend. After a bit of pre-race getting ready jitters, we headed down to the water.

I went to this race to take risks.
I did take risks.
Taking risks seemed to work out quite well.

As per usual, I loved the swim. I felt strong. I found a good rhythm. I was loving life and working hard. It is SO unfortunate that the swim portion of any triathlon has to end. It's over so fast. I found two other pink caps my pace and we took turns drafting throughout the swim. I think we were 3/4/5 out of the water in our wave.
29:10. PR swim for moi. Most importantly, I kept up with Ange for at least 25 yards. That might be a record for me.

T1. I feel like a drunk when I get out of the water. But I stumbled to the strippers, got stripped, and found my bearings.
1:40 Not bad for me.

*** Best moment of my day****
While leaving transition the announcer shouted, And we have our 3rd female Age Grouper of the day heading out on the bike course! or something like that. SO COOL! Of course I didn't have the third fastest swim time of the 35-and-up-ers. I think I may have been 4th or 5th. But I got out of T1 faster. So there.
Also cool: So many people I knew cheered me on as I left T1. Thank you, people. You know who you are, and I love you for cheering for me even though I'm now donning a Nor'Easter uniform. Means a lot to me.

I went really fast. I was like lightning. I had Smash Mouth's "Hey Now, You're a Rock Star" blaring in my head. I was passing people left and right--and all men--because the rest of the chicks weren't on the course yet. A few hills brought me down a few notches. But I still felt great. I was taking risks, man.
And then a girl passed me. AND SHE WAS FROM THE WAVE BEHIND ME! Oh dear.... Still, I kept up with her the whole way and never let her go. She was like my inspiration, and I even began singing that Chicago song to her under my breath, "You're the meaning in my life, you're the inspiration." I was sucking too much wind to sing in more than a whisper, though. I kept thinking, "Yeah, but I'll get you, woman! I'll get you on the run!" But alas, it turned out this chick ended up 2nd OA. So I guess I didn't beat her on the run. Damn.
The best part of this ride? I didn't FLAT. Thank God above. I was prepared to flat, though. I really was.
2:44:45. Not as fast as Clearwater.
But Clearwater didn't have you climbing Devil's Hill twice at 4 mph.

I wore NO socks for the bike. I put on socks for the run. In the past I have put on socks in T1. I then preceed to sweat for 56 miles, and my socks get wet. Then I don my running shoes, and preceed to blister on the run. Not this time! Ahhh.... nice dry socks in t2. No blisters for me. Sure, my bike shoes now smell so bad you want to vomit when you get too close. But whatever.

1:20 Not bad for putting on socks.

The RUN:
The first two miles I was in control and felt fine. Better than fine. Then I didn't feel fine anymore. Then I hit this one monster hill that left me totally deflated. And as I ran up it I remembered I had to run up it again b/c this was a two loop course. Oh dear God, I thought. I am going to DIEEEEE.
But. I got over the hill.
And then I reminded myself I was meant to suffer-- I loved to suffer-- suffering makes me Master of the Universe.
The second loop I really did suffer. And I slowed down. and down. But I was still within goal range--still turning out miles between 7:30 and 7:40. And then that stupid fucking hill came and I nearly dropped to my knees and began to cry.
The last few miles I was super out of it. You know when you get all spacey and light and you feel like you are sort of swimming through air really slowly?
I was SO out of it that when I got to the end and had to choose whether to go back on the course for another loop or whether to go down the finishing chute, I WENT TO START THE COURSE AGAIN.
It took me a good 30 seconds to realize I was not in the right place. I began screaming Fuck! at the top of my lungs. I really hope there weren't any kids around. I was too hysterical to notice. I made my way back, and finally finished. Yahoo! Happy!

Final Time: 4:56:26
2nd AG (but they give me 1st AG because my bestest friend Ange got third! so I moved up a spot)
6th female OA.
I'm pretty psyched that Ange and I went 1/2 in our AG. We had planned on it--but you know--you never know. The next 35-39 woman finished 15 minutes behind me and 27 behind Ange. Oh yeah.

And what I have to say about that is--Thanks, Jen.