Friday, July 31, 2009

Final RR on LP: The Run

First, click here to read about Mike Ciazzo (Mainer, 4th and first American) and Ange at Lake Placid.

And now-- About ME.

All Smiles on the Run. Mile 2.5

Far Less Happy on the Run. Mile 15.5

Really Hurting So Bad on the Run. 100 Yards to Go.

Finally Done and Ready to Collapse on the Run. Mile 26.2

This is how the run went:

And it also SUCKED.
When people talk about highs and lows in IM, they should clarify that these highs and lows come almost exclusively during the marathon.

Wow. That's all I have to say.

I always talk about how nothing can compare to the pain of giving birth. This is true: nothing can. What I know now, though, is that comparing childbirth to the pain of the marathon in IM is like comparing apples and oranges, cats and dogs, yellow and purple. Neither is easier than the other--they are just really different. What they have in common is that they are both life-altering painful (in a physical sense) experiences.

I had a fast T2. You know, I didn't really want it to be fast. But they took my bike from me, so I didn't have to do that, they helped me with everything in the tent, so it took like two seconds to get ready for the run, and that was it. When I was done and the volunteer was packing my bag for me I said, "Oh please, I'll do that," because I didn't want to leave. The volunteer smiled, "You'll do great! The exit is over there!" and she pointed to the far end of the tent.

Damn. I jogged off.

I saw Andy and Mark when I left the tent and they cheered wildly. I smiled. Not so bad. I could do this.

At my first mile I clicked my Garmin and nearly shit myself. (except I didn't. more on that later.) 7:00. Fuck!

Okay, the first mile went straight downhill, but also, I believe, I ran a 7:00 because I was on autopilot. In a race, after the bike, that is what you do. You run a 7:00 mile. In a sprint, in an Oly, in a half--and now here. That is the always my first mile. Why, you ask? No fucking clue. Obviously, it's something to work on.

I slowed down. To 8:00 pace. I was still going downhill.

And then it came on.
My body was like, nope. We are done, Mar. Sorry. No Go. Time to call it a day.
My brain said, Ummm. You have 25 more miles, Mar.
My body said, That's a funny joke. If you're lucky I can run another five and then I will keel over and die.
My brain said, Ummm. Does that mean we are DNF?
My body said, You got, Mama! That's what I'm talking about it!
My brain said, No. You are running another 25. You must. I will hate you for eternity if you don't.
My body said, Fucking fine, Brain! Hate me all you want. I'm done, and you can kiss my sweet little ass!

My brain finally told my body that we could stop at the porta-potty at mile three to collect ourselves and unify.

We got to the porta-potty. My body REALLY needed to pee anyway, so my brain thought that stopping was a good plan. (It seems all I talk about his peeing, huh?)

Me and the Porta-Potty. BFF.
I sat. I waited.

A little background:

You may have noted that although I have thoroughly indulged talking about PEE, I have omitted talking about shitting. Why, you ask? Why, when I so enjoy talking about all matters excretory have I omitted a detailed discussion of pooping?

That would be because I did not poop.
Not at 4 a.m. Not at 6 a.m. Not during the ride.
Not. At. All.

Right. So you tell me, how do you think the old stomach felt at this point?
I sat there. Come on shit! Come on pee! I know you're in there! If you'll just come out we will all feel so much better! Let's go let's go let's go!


And then I peed.
It was like fire.
This was not right. I looked in the toilet.
It was yellow--just like dehydrated pee is supposed to look like. It also had dots of swirling red.

A little tear made its way into my eyes. poor me poor me poor me! Brain and body, unified at last, having a massive pity party. It was moving.

Then I left the porta-potty. Well. Here we are. There is definitely something wrong if it burns when you pee and there is blood in your urine. But what are we going to do?

Just keep running. Brain and Body were in agreement.

I preceded to stop at like every porta-potty for the next 25 miles. Why? It was kind of this sick desire to confirm what I had seen earlier. Plus, I felt I needed to pee. Even thought I didn't. Finally, at about mile 10, I figured it out. It burns, you feel you need to pee but you can't, you had a fever this morning. UTI.

My brain and body continued to spat through the whole first loop. My brain agreed that walking through water stops was fine. My brain somehow got my body to run again after each stop.

Actually the very best moments of the day--maybe even this week, month or even year--occurred during the first part of the each water stop. First I would stop running, which was heaven. Then I would get two cold sponges and squeeze them over my head and shoulders. It was the best feeling, because as I mentioned in a previous post, it was really hot. Those cold sponges made me infinitely happy. THIS was fun. THIS was pleasure, my body told my brain. Then I would get some water. Then some Gatorade. Then some ice, which I would chew for a few feet, and then more water, and then more sponges.
And then I would start running again, totally despondent that the fun was over.

When I got to the turn at the end of the first loop I saw Cait, my former coach and the most up- and-coming athlete in the tri-scene, running her way to a second place finish. She was ahead of Sam McGlone--and that is all I have to say about that. She was moving, that quick cadence so fast and strong, but her face said it all. She was hurting. She was facing the pain demon. I got strength from this. Everyone hurt--even Cait. I could do this.

Coming through town again I felt, actually, pretty good. I had managed to get down a few gels and I think that helped. Seeing everyone also helped. "You look great!" they all screamed.
Umm. Right! Liars. Still, it was nice sentiment. Chrissie, Jesse's wife, passed me and shouted encouragement. I could do this. I could do this. I could do this.

Going downhill onto the second loop I hit another really low point. On a normal day, 12 miles would be no big deal. Twelve miles! Freaking nothing! But my Brain had to concur that today 12 miles was a big deal. A really big deal. I slowed down further. and further. My walks on the rest stops started a little early and ended after I had long passed the last volunteer holding out a cup of water. I took in gel, I took in chicken broth, I took in Coke.
I would get there. It just might take me the rest of my life.

At mile 19 or so I found my friend Mike. He was hurting too. It was GREAT to find someone I knew who was clearly suffering just like me--wanting desperately to finish strong, and struggling to run at all. We walked up a hill together. Then he slowly began to trot off. I began to run too. He got six minutes on me in the last five miles. He did finish strong. Awesome.

I walked up the big hill. I walked into town. Then I began to run again. I stopped to walk again at mile 25. I could do this. I could do this. One more mile never had seemed like so hard to achieve. And then I was coming down the last little hill, and then I was going through the arches into the oval-- the same arches I hadn't jogged through since 8:04 that morning. And my friends from Nor'Easter were screaming and I mouthed, Thank Fucking God. A girl passed me sprinting. She had a 37 on the back of her leg. Damn! I kept going. I kept running. And then I was done. So happy. Passing through that finishing arch was one of the best moments of my life.

11:45: 20. I got 11th in my AG out of 104. Jill, the girl who passed me, beat me by 20 seconds. She beat her time from last year by an hour she told me later. How can you begrudge her that?

I saw Andy and waved. I saw my friend Tim, who said he dropped out after the bike because of hyponatremia. Oh God. He hugged me and moved me on. Andy followed me on the side, not allowed into the finish area. I wanted to get to him. Right then that's all I wanted. Dennis, the volunteer, helped me walk on. Then I saw Ange screaming from the side. It was awesome to see her. She had gotten her slot, 2nd AG, just like I knew she would.

I got a piece of pizza and then left to see Andy. I didn't think my stomach couldn't handle it, but I ate the pizza anyway, and it was actually awesome. I sat, and we called home so we could talk to the kids.

God. What a day. What a last two hours. It was amazing and horrible--both thrilling and despairing.

And I can't wait to do it again in 11 months at Couer d'Alene.

I can't wait.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

LP RR continued The Bike

Top Ten Things I Have to Say About the Bike:

1. No matter how much you train, 112 miles is a long way to go.

2. If your monitor says your heart rate is in high zone 3, but you feel like you are in zone 2 or 1, the heart monitor is probably right, and you are not.

3. Obey your hr monitor--or die a slow and painful marathon death.

4. Even if you can eat a steak sandwich and a beer while in aero on a training ride, when you race, it's f-ing tough to get down even a very soft bar.

5. Never listen to weather-people. If they they say 80% chance of showers and temps in the low 70s, what they mean is temps in mid- 80s with thunderstorm clouds and high winds, but no actual fucking rain.

6. I hate men on bikes. They think they are SOOOOOO big with their snazzy kits and $10,000 bike-get-ups. I am NOT A FLY! Just because I kicked your fucking ass in the swim doesn't mean you have to scream at me in your cocky voices to get over (especially when I'm already practically on the curb) because you and your drafting buddies are flying by in packs at like 50 mph. If you are a man reading this, I MEAN YOU! Wait, did you forget that it is cheating to draft? Because I know the truth about your bike split. I was there.
(Okay, I'm done now. I don't mean all of you. I do like some of you. Sort of.)

7. I feel better now. Okay. Here's a good one. If you have a black aero helmet with no real vents, chuck it into the trash now and get yourself a light colored one with many vents. Do this, or you will find steam slipping out underneath your ears and forehead as you ride, because your head has reached the temperature of a boil.

8. It is possible that if you are going uphill and the headwind is strong enough, you will actually go backward. This is true even of cocky men in bright-colored kits and million dollar bikes.

9. Oh, men again. If you are going to whip your dick out to take a piss, please look behind you so you don't spray someone. It's bad enough that we women folk can't whip anything out, we just have to pee in our diapers and let piss drip down our legs, but you could help matters by not rubbing this fact in by spraying your piss all over us. (More on this later. I got him back.)

10. Do not put Advil and sodium tabs in the same bag with your little peanut butter sandwich snack. If you do, and it gets hot, then the pills will melt, and you will be effectively poisoned by eating an Advil, sodium, pb sandwich.

That pretty much sums up my ride.
Here is a little more in story format.

Here I am leaving T1. I look like I'm doing a little prissy dance, don't I? I think this is likely the last time I looked even a tad perky. Mrs. Z looks super, though. She is such a little beauty. I feel badly that I peed all over her.

Okay. I left T1. I went downhill. Fifty men had passed me by a quarter mile into my ride. This is the downside of being a female who swims relatively well, but whose bike is not so strong-- I spent the entire ride getting passed by men. Let me add that this isn't a problem except in IM racing. In most racing I am one of the last waves of competitors. I believe this is because the default assumption is that men are stronger racers than women, and should therefore go first. This used to make me mad, but now I sort of appreciate it. In most races I am ahead of most of the women coming out of the water, and my job is to stay ahead of them. I rarely get passed by men, though, because the men who are ahead of me, and who I can pass, are usually sort of poky. The men who passed me at LP, in a normal race, would be ahead of me the whole time. I never even SEE these men in a regular race. But in IM, because we all start at the same time, I beat them out of the water, and then they punish me for this by passing me in droves for the next 112 miles.

Okay. I really am down on men. I repeat, though, generally I like men. Men are both useful and fun to flirt with.
That is pretty much where it ends, though, except with a few special men, like Andy or my brothers, or my son.
Okay, onward.

I rode my bike for a long time. I went 43 mph going downhill the long hill. I felt strong and good. My heart rate was too high, and I knew it, and even when I didn't pedal at all it stayed high. This is probably, in retrospect, because I had a fever and was fighting off an infection. Also, perhaps, because I was so revved up and riding too hard. Ahh. Sometimes you just have to learn things the hard way....

On the first loop my new buddy Gilbert, who I had been riding with the whole way, whipped out his dick, put it to the right, and peed.
onto me.
Not the Golden Shower one hopes for....
I'm not a girl who likes them in any form, actually. Gilbert, who was possibly French, clearly didn't take my preference into consideration. I screamed, 'Argh!' and he said in a thick accent, 'Sorry, I didn't mean to get you.' and neatly tucked his member back into his shorts.

So I did what I had to do. I passed him. I stood up on my pedals. I pissed. Down my legs, onto my seat, and I hoped, all over Gilbert.

"Thanks, you get me." he said in his accent.
We both laughed. I liked Gilbert. I really appreciated that he had a sense of humor about it, because, well, some of you may have actually been grossed out and offended by such a maneuver.

I went through the first loop in about 3:05. TOO SLOW! And, alas, my heart rate average was too high.
I tried to tell myself to be patient. I tried to remind myself that this was my first IM, and too be smart, have fun, not let my dreams of a sub 11:15 get to me on this first try. But that was hard. I had expected that a 3:03 would be a very conservative effort. And it wasn't. Recognizing this and swallowing it on a day when you want everything to go better than anticipated was hard. What's so frustrating is that you have to take what race day gives you, work with it, and be smart about it. You can't get caught up in what it should be, or what you want it to be. You can't deny a hard effort or a high heart rate. You may be able to get away with this in a shorter race, but not in IM. Not in IM.

And now I know this, as opposed to just knowing this.

Next loop.
It lasted a long time. Gilbert, Jamie, a few others and I passed each other back and forth. I got passed by several women--Angie, Staci, Sonja (but I passed her back) and Marla. They are the names I remember. I saw Ange coming back on Hazleton Road. That was both awesome and depressing. She was a good half hour ahead of me already! But it was great to see her there and know she was kicking ass.

On the way into Wilmington (the 10 mile uphill section at the end of the loop) storm clouds gathered. Yeah! Cleansing, cool rain! I couldn't wait. It was hot. I had salt caked all over me and I was sweating like a beast. I had already had two bottles of water that I hadn't even planned on, in addition to my five bottles of PowerBar Endurance and Gatorade. I felt bloated and totally thirsty at the same time.
The wind picked up. The clouds were ominous. Come on, Rain!

I waited.
No Rain.
I watied.
Just wind. Just dark clouds.
Then more wind.
Then just wind and bright sun.


When I came up over the last hill I was relieved, and a little sad. My bike split would be around 3:10-3:15. (Turns out it was a 3:12.) And I was pooped. And bloated. I peed a little. It burned. What was that? Ouch!

But then I rounded the corner and Andy and Mark and all my Nor'Easter friends cheered for me. And I smiled. It was okay. I was done. And I just had the run left.

Just that little ol' run.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

LP RR continued

Part III

The swim.
Ange and I had different plans. She planned to knock them dead, go straight to the frey, on the line, and hammer it out.
That wasn't my plan.
I planned to go all the way to the right--to the very, very end of the starting line. They day before I had found a rock I planned to stand on there. I told Rob, a Maine tri-friend who has done this race like a billion times, that I had found this rock. He laughed and said, "Yep, everyone knows about that rock."
Damn! Double Damn!
Well. It was still my plan. I made my way over to the right, half swimming, half dog-paddling. The water went up my wetsuit and I shivered. When I arrived at my special place and began to look for my rock, I noted that as Rob had indicted there were hundreds of people who also had my plan and were already hogging my rock. Still, that was a thousand or two fewer than the people whose plan it was to just move forward and try to find a place on the line. I knew my plan meant I'd have to swim another quarter mile at least, but the idea of not being pummeled was too appealing to not give into it.
I found my friend Pam after I arrived at the other side of the lake. She warned me not to stand on the ground (since I couldn't stand on my rock- grr) because there was glass and metal through the seemingly benign leaves of the lake floor. Yikes. Pam and I were one of only a handful of women close to the starting flags. The rest of the people were men. Hundreds of men.

Generally I like being around men. Generally I'm a fan.

Not today.
I wanted to ask each what he thought he could do for a time, and if it was slower than an hour five I wanted to tell him to get the FUCK AWAY FROM THE STARTING LINE.
But it is not okay to do that. So I didn't.

I didn't expect the canon. My watch still said 6:59. I gasped, then started my watch, then tried to move.
Except there were like ten bodies surrounding me, all flailing like dead fish caught out of the water. Andy said that from the shore it looked as if the water just suddenly began boiling.
Then I was under.
Those bodies were on top of me, and I couldn't push them away.
I panicked. When I panic I can be super human.
I smashed my way to the surface, bashing whomever was in my way. I was like a mini-whale in breach. I raised my arms in the air and crashed them around me.
I was mad. Fucking men. FUCKING MEN!

And then I began to dog paddle.
And soon, I found a spot. And I could swim.

I swam way to the right, never even getting close to the line. When I arrived at the turn buoys I swam a good 200 yards to the right of them and around to avoid getting trapped again. I continued this strategy through the whole first loop. If someone so much as tapped me I kicked the living shit out of them and then swam away.

First loop was 30:35 or so.
Not so bad considering the flailing, breaching whale, dog paddle start, and the fact that I had swum probably twice what I had to swim.

Up over the mats, BEEP! (love the beep) and a dive into the water. Then another dolphin dive, and another. Then I swam to my right again.
Blah blah blah. Swimming is really hard to make interesting. I was happy. I love swimming. I was steady. I was strong. I was still kicking like a mad woman when anyone came close to me.

And then I was seeing that big IM arch. And then I was touching the sand and then I was stumbling out.

Here I am, peeling off my suit. I look sort of pregnant. Not sure what is up with that.
The dude next to me in the pic. I call Farmer John Man. He swam near me, but not into me- or I would have killed him, the whole swim. He had a Farmer John on, hence the name bestowed. We were buddies. He just didn't know it. We finished in about 1:02.

I got stripped and that was all good. Then I ran off to the oval for transition. Crossing into the oval it occurred to me that I wouldn't be back here for a very, very long time, and I wouldn't enter through this entrance until the very end of the race.
It was 8:04 a.m. At the earliest I wouldn't be done until dinner time.

Bring it on, Baby!
I got my bike bag which I had tied with a sparkly lime green bow and then spent a second trying to find where to get into the female tent. I put on all my shit (helmet, glasses (got fogged), hr monitor, Garmin, race belt, shoes).
I scrambled out of there, grabbed Mrs. Z, who it took a second to find, and then I was running to the bike start.
This, in my opinion, is where the day really began.
I clicked my watch. It was 8:08 a.m.

IM Lake Placid Race Report--Part I

Finishing the race--about 100 yards to go.

I began the race at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday and finished at 6:45 p.m.
1:02, 6:12, 4:22
It was a great day. and a long day. and a day I won't soon forget.
How to begin--

Once upon a time, two days ago, I did an Ironman. Yeah me! Wahoo!

Part I: the Thank You section.

Andy. For --. Well. Everything.
My in-laws: While I was gone they took care of our kids and took them to the Science Discovery Museum (Th), to the zoo (F), to Plymouth Plantation (Sa) and to the Lego Museum Su.) Wait, did I mention that my father in-law just turned 80, and my mother-in-law has progressive lung disease and is 78? Can you say Iron-In-Laws? They also dealt with seriously exhausted and puking four-year-old Lara on Monday, and also with Linus, our dog who is senile and incontinent, and with Minna, our dog with mouth cancer who we decided not to put down last week at the very last minute (literally). She is hanging on, still wagging her tail, and we have decided to keep her alive until that stops. Because she is an IronDog that could be as long as another week. We hope. They mopped up the blood, loved her despite the smell of her mouth tumor (which is strong enough to make you sick to your stomach), and made her comfortable the whole five-days long.
Alina and Ange. I couldn't have done this without the two of you. You know that. You are perfect people to me: supportive, loving, generous, forgiving and loyal friends, and also inspiring athletes and moms.
Jen Harrison, my coach. I'm sorry if she is not your coach, but I thank God daily that she's mine.
My Tri Friends in Maine--I should list all of you, but I think you know who you are. Thanks for taking me in even though I am a Mass-hole. Your cheers and support meant so much on Sunday--especially during the freaking run!
My Tri/Running-Friends in MA--I want to list you all too! It meant a lot to be cheered by so many of you from afar and at Lake Placid. Every time I saw one of you shout out to me (whether competing or on the sidelines) I got a little teary.
My Blogger Buddies: It is amazing to feel so supported by people you only know through an online world!

Okay. More people too, but I know you are sick of reading all that. I always find the thank-yous the most boring part of speeches. You know? And this is supposed to be a STORY (which I'm sure will reach novel length), not a speech. So here we go.

OKAY! Unto the actually RR!

Part II: Before the Race

I arrived with Andy at Lake Placid, New York on Thursday, July 23, 2009. On the way there (5.5 hours in the car) I prattled on and on about what else? triathlon.

From Thursday to Saturday afternoon is pretty boring to recount. I laid low. I slept. I read a good book. I ate. I did a few light workouts. I had active release done on my ankle. I saw Ange and her family. That's pretty much it except that I also stared out at Mirror Lake and thought,

Wow, Here I am. or
Wow. That lake looks calm but will it eat me alive? or
Wow. This time tomorrow I will be ____swimming/biking/running. or
Wow. Fuck. I'm scared. or
Wow. I'm not that rotund, under-confident, slow little girl anymore. God damn, look how far I have come. At 18 I could just barely run once around a track, and now I'm little, I'm lean, I'm strong. and
Wow. I did go for it, Dad. Just not for the reason you thought I should.

The highlight was Saturday night when we all went out to eat. There were two long tables, one filled with Ange's family (I kinda consider them my family too, actually, because they are always there and always say super sweet things like they are proud of me! :) love them.) and one table of all Nor-Easters, most of whom had just come down to cheer for the Mainers.
I sat next to Ange and she kept me calm by being super-revved up and intense--an irony that you can't really get unless you know Ange and you know me. We ate bread and pasta and chicken, of course, and then hugged good-bye until tomorrow.

I went back to the hotel to read my book.
I want to thank author Sarah Dessen for bringing me into another world for those few hours before I could fall asleep.

Part Three: Pre-Race
The alarm went off at 3:50 a.m.
I got up.
I mechanically ate my bagel with peanut butter, my coffee, my protein bar.
I mechanically dressed in my super snazzy Nor-Easter kit.
I mechanically checked my special needs bags one more time.
I mechanically took two Advil. My headed pounded, and I was pretty sure I was feverish. Perhaps it was nerves. Perhaps it was because I hadn't slept well. It didn't matter. And yes, I know about how you are not supposed to take NSAIDS before a race--or even a workout. That's why I brought four advil with me to add to my Bento Box.
I mechanically went to the car, and Andy drove me to the start.
My headache started to abait. It was going to be okay.

I got in line to get marked. I started a conversation with the man in front of me. He had just done RI 70.3 two weeks back. He had gotten a Clearwater spot, and was relieved because it took the pressure off trying to get a Kona slot. He looked strong. He looked confident. I told myself I looked that way too. My headache and feverish-ness were gone, and I was ready to rumble.

Then I walked like five miles down the road to drop of my special needs bags.
I bonded with a guy about how long it was to walk, and couldn't they just have made it a little closer?
As I walked I noticed there were mostly male competitors. Where were all of the women?
Everyone looked ripped. and lean. and ready to crush it.
I felt like a little girl, unsure how I had gotten here. What the hell was I doing?
And then I banished that thought. I was the IRONMATRON. I may be little. These men may tower over me with their big-ass muscles and their confident faces. But they weren't more fit than me. They weren't.

After pumping my tires (thanks to that nice man who lent me his pump--and lent his pump to practically every 35-39 woman in my row!) and after checking my transition bags, and after talking to a few people (thank you for chatting with me Chrissie, it actually really calmed me down!) and after peeing a few times, and after heading over to the Nor-Easter tent and chatting with Chess (Thank you for the tire changing help) and Rob and Kurt, I was READY. It started to drizzle. Competitors started entering the water. Ange and I donned our wetsuits, took a deep breath, and walked to the swim start.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Just a Tidbit

Finishing the run, through the oval.

Oh! I can't wait to the whole Lake Placid story! But not tonight... too tired.

Here are the highlights:

Strong swim. I did get hammered in the beginning, though, and that made me want to quit five minutes into the race! Men. Argh. If you can't swim, don't go to the front and clobber the rest of us!

Good Bike: I wanted it to be faster, but it quickly got warm and really windy coming into Wilmington (esp. on the 2nd loop) and that made it tough. I hit 43 mph going downhill!

The Run: Oh boy. Here is where I need to learn how to do IM! Wow! That ranks up there with one of the hardest efforts I've ever made. The best part of the run was walking through each aid station and pouring cold sponge water all over my body. It got hot. And my body is used to running in the cold and wet.... grrr!
Really , though, my downfall was that somehow I got a UTI infection (which is now a bladder infection, I think) and it became full blown during the run. No fun. My doc thinks I got it from peeing on the bike early on and then staying in said wet shorts and continuing to pee into them for the next six hours. My immune system was down from the effort--and something about proteins not being processed correctly and bacteria building quickly etc. etc. Be warned! It could happen to you! It happens fast-- and if it does, it's so not cool.

More on the later. :) Of course, you know I love to be graphic and gross. I bet you can't wait to hear all about burning, bloodied pink pee. Oh! I can't wait to write about it!

Here are a few pics of me finishing her up. I had a great, great day, despite the little UTI problem. There were serious high points and low points, just as I had been told there would be. But I am now and IronWoman!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Last Post Before the Big Day

Thanks for all the wishes for L.P. and thanks for the sympathy for losing my chocolate lab.
Even though this week has been tough because of the loss of my pup, I'm still psyched and ready to race. Of course I am! Minna has bestowed her Super Dog energy and stamina on me, and so I am golden. She was a girl who took no shit, pushed her way to the front every time, took what was hers and then took more. When playing catch no dog could beat her to the ball. When racing her brother, he didn't stand a chance. She would steal food from your grandma, swipe the ice cream off a 2-year-old's cone, and eat the pizza you just made before you had a chance to put it into the oven. She dug under the fence or jumped over it--but no way in hell would she be bound.

She was a force. A Super Dog. A complete pain-in-the-ass. Unstoppable. With her energy, so am I.

Here she is, beating up her bro. Typical. Poor Linus. She really just ruled the roost.

So, LP.
Here we go.

I don't feel nervous, which is very strange. I do feel excited. I do feel a little concerned about the run. This is not because I think I'm under-prepared for the run, it's just that I know that the run is where I will have to really keep my head in the game, hunker down, and deal. But I'll do it. It can't be harder than labor. (Of course with labor you don't have the OPTION to stop...) Of course, unlike labor when you finish IM you are DONE. When in labor the end result is that you have a BABY, and really the fun has just begun.

Speaking of fun, it's funny. I already feel a sense of loss. I'm sure this is exacerbated by the real loss of my dog, but I do see that this huge-ass project is coming to an end. I'll start the next project, sure, but THIS project, the first IM project, is coming to a close. I really, really liked the training. The training was the thing for me. I love to race, and so I know I will love the actual day of LP, but moreso than other training I've done in the past I loved training for this race. Training was a safe haven for me this winter and spring.

I can't wait to get down there and see all of my friends and get nervous and excited and crazy about the race.

I'm going to have fun, I'm going to be smart, and I'm going to do well. And I'm going to be an Ironwoman!

IronDog Minna.
Goodbye, old girl.
Love you and my heart aches.

Monday, July 20, 2009


They come home-- to roost. Every time.
This can be bad, and it can be good. But they will come. I've learned that this year.

In the case of LP, I'm hoping their arrival will be good. Work I did months and months and months ago will make an appearance this weekend. Work I did just last week will likely have less effect, which makes me feel a little helpless. Was the work I did this winter/spring/early summer good enough? Quality enough? Focused enough? Was it enough for the chickens to have a comfy little roosting come Sunday? I'm being truthful when I admit I don't deserve a whole hell of a lot in terms of comfy roosting in most other aspects of my life. But I think I do deserve it in terms of the effort I've put in to prepare for this race. Hopefully the chickens will view things that way as well.

I will stop speaking by way of analogy now.

I have had a really shitty weekend in some respects. The good was really good. Yesterday was gorgeous and I spent nearly the whole day on the beach with Alina and our troupe of kids.

The bad? Started with my seat post clamp splitting in half on Thursday's ride. Then I blew out two tires in succession on a ride on Friday. Then I tried a ride again on Saturday and blew out the same tire 20 minutes in. Finally I found the god damn piece of glass lodged silently and stealthily inside the tire.
Other bad: the plantar fascitis in my heel is like-- not good. I don't talk about being injured at all, so I will stop there. It is not so bad that I can't race, of course. It's just there. and it hurts. and I want it to go away.
And then there was the traffic on the way home last night: a two hour trip became a four hour trip. That would be the chickens again--roosting b/c I spent too long hanging at the beach before I headed home.
And finally, the kicker. My chocolate lab, the invincible, high strung, crazy 11 year pup of mine--is not invincible after all. She will go before her big, senile older bro. She has a tumor in her mouth the size of my fist. And it's mouth cancer. And that's it. Not going to write about it anymore than that because doing so brings out that big lump in my throat and the quiet tears that won't go away.
If you don't have a pet--well, I know it seems dumb to get all messed up about one dying. But she was not supposed to go this way. She had the energy of a 6 month old puppy. And she was one of the first things Andy and I decided to do together--as a unit. We split the cost of her 50/50. And she was with us all this time, escaping the yard and chasing squirrels and stealing our kids' food right off their plates. And she drove me crazy. And I love her.
And her death is just--

And I think maybe God wants to shift my atttention away from LP, so I can remain calm and so I keep things in perspective.
But I feel like I am being punished.
Which is self-centered and crazy. Because this can't be a case of the chickens, and if it is--it's an awfully shitty way for them to announce themselves.

Not sure what the old man is going to do without her. They had each other.
She was indomitable.
Sounds so tacky but maybe she'll send me her hyper-crazy-superdog powers for IM.
By IM she will be gone.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Noah, Ethan, Maria, Jordan, Dara, Lara
10 points if you can figure out who belongs to whom.

Alina and me. Taken by Jordan.

We have been playing all week, but today we're just resting.  I feel wrong, like I should be doing something constructive. Life is so full right now that I rarely feel like there is nothing much I should be doing.  There is always something to be done.  And if I'm not doing, I should be working to figure things out, plan things, understand things.  And if I'm not doing those things I should be doing one of the things I long to do when there is not time--like read, or write, or cook or garden.  Guilt. What a burden it is. What freedom if I could off-load it somehow--or maybe put it in its appropriate place. 

Yesterday on my ride the clamp on my seat post broke in half and my seat shot down to the bottom of the stem.  I had to ride home like that.  Not fun!  I'm sure I looked like a tool.  I certainly felt like one. I had it fixed, but now the seat is too high, and I need help moving it down.  I should be able to move my own seat.  But I either I don't have the right tool ( I think I have a 5 Allen wrench that seems to be right) or I'm not strong enough to loosen it. Either way, I have to bring it back in to get it done right. 

On days like today I expect great things of the internet.  I want entertainment.  I want fun things in my inbox. I want to find something juicy to read and savor. 
And just when I want that, the internet and my inbox don't produce. 

I'm finally feeling like taper has begun.  I feel rested and restless. I feel like I'm getting rounder.  (maybe not good--should probably keep the weight off until at least next week!) 

I feel like I need a good, hard swim or a good, hard run.  I need to sweat.  I need a place to channel the energy I use exclusively to train.  Drinking margaritas, playing at tattoos and being feisty in general -- 
I need to keep myself in check. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I haven't been posting. 
This is basically because I'm too busy drinking margaritas with my friend Alina.  This week we put the kids in camp and we've basically been swimming, lunching/margarita-ing, and shopping all week. It's not good to shop AFTER margaritas. That's what I have learned in my travails. Just so you know. 

Alina (after a margarita) bought me a really pretty pair of Peridot studs to wear for IM. Peridots are green, for those of you in the gem-know, and green is my favorite color. They also stand for luck, success and friendship, according to the marketing description in the pretty showcase in the jewelry store.  I thought it was pretty fucking sweet of her.  That would be why she's a best friend, huh?

I bought nothing for her, though. Yep. Lame. I did buy myself some hips jeans in a second-hand store, a couple of fitting, worn t-shirts (from the same store) (I SO do not need jeans and t-shirts, btw. I have a billion), and finally a neoprene hat and mittens to swim with in the ocean b/c I have been freezing my ass off this season. Did I mention the water was 57 degrees on Monday morning? Lest you think that's not too cold, I need to tell you -- IT IS.

Alina also bought these super funky shoes.   You can't really tell in this pic, but they are ruby red.  

Yesterday we went down and cruised Old Orchard Beach after Alina returned from a swim there that landed her at the Pier.  OOB by the Pier is like--?  Don't know what to compare it to. It's the kind of place that has rides, video games, tattoo parlors and cheesy gift shops.  At said cheesy gift shops you can usually find someone to paint you a henna tattoo.  So we did. Alina got a shark swimming up her back and I got a skull on my ankle and a stamp that says BAD GIRL in bubble letters. It is pretty fucking funny. At least I think so.

Okay! What else? 

I'm not really freaked out yet about LP. I'm calm. I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm feeling fit as a fiddle, so maybe that is why.  After that horrible stomach bug of two weeks back I am also smaller than I've been since I was like eleven. In fact, unless you look at my face, I look like I'm eleven.  It's a little scary.  I'm looking forward to gaining some weight back after IM so I will have more than mosquito bites for boobs before the end of summer. I'm fit -- and flat. It's a wonder my bikini tops don't just fall off of me, given there's nothing to hold them up.

sigh. I need to stop complaining about that.  Irony. Irony. Irony. You needed to have known me at sixteen to get that.

MY NUMBER IS 2217. You'd best be following me on that big day! Just kidding. Ange is 2223, so we will be near each other.  Yeah! 

I was going to post pics of the tattoos, but that would be just too risque.  Just kidding. Actually, we don't have any good pics.  They are all kinda blurry and not worth posting.

On deck for tomorrow: a nice 1.5 hour ride, a quick 30 min run, and an ocean swim with Alina, of course! I'm looking forward to donning my super cool hat and mittens. I will look like AquaWoman! If only my wetsuit and accoutrements were fluorescent green...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Give me a Crunchy Chocolate Chewy or It's Been One of Those Days

It got sunny for a bit.
But now it's raining again. I can't take it. I CAN'T TAKE IT!

ho hum. Okay. On to Other drivel. Jordan and I DID make crunchy chocolate chewies. I've had like 10 now. oops.

Today I took my kidlets to the gym so I could complete a pain-fest of a run on the treadmill. I actually didn't want to do this on the treadmill. I wanted to go outside. But there are two reasons why I couldn't:

1. Remember how I had the stomach bug like a week ago? Yeah, well, if you remember, I got it from my son, Noah. Right. So I took him to the gym before he was better last week, and he booted in the daycare there. Are you ready to give me the Mommy-of-the-Month award?
It gets better. I was out running when he got sick--with my cell phone so I could be contacted if there was a problem. You are supposed to always be within 7 minutes of the gym when you run outside. That's a little restrictive, so I just don't follow that rule. I was 25 minutes out when they called me to tell me I had to retrieve Noah, and could I be there in seven minutes?
So they kind of suggested maybe I not do that again. I did snuggle him nice and close when I finally got there. That's probably why I succumbed to that fucking bug 24 hours later.
2. It was thundering and lightning when I arrived at the gym today, and also pouring buckets.

So me and the treadmill = BFF.

The gym is always really warm. Don't get me started. People work out there. It should be like an icebox!
I wore a tank top and shorts and moved a fan so it was closer to me without totally screwing everyone else around me. The run was a fartlek-- you know like 8 min on, 8 min off etc. I started with 8 m at half mary pace (7:05) and then descended to 10K pace for 6, 5K pace for 4, faster than 5k for two. Holy fucking shit it was hard. I have no idea WHY it was so hard today; it just was.
I knew it was going to be a sweaty one from the minute I got on the treadmill. But oh man, even I wasn't prepared for this. Half way through the run I was SOAKING WET. My shorts were drenched and dripping everywhere--my hair was soaked, my legs were dripping in rivulets down to the treadmill floor. I was spewing sweat all over the place. People didn't get on the treadmills next to me to avoid being sprayed. I also was sucking wind violently and disconcertingly and every once in a while I'd let out a little whimper. It was pretty. and hot.

I stayed on the mill for 1:15. That's like three times what most people at the gym do, and when I got off one older woman asked me, "Honey, how long did you run for? That was some workout!" I just smiled. Not that long in the world of IM shit! haha! I had planned to do a few situps when I was done, but I was, as I mentioned, soaking wet and I thought people might be a little grossed out if I sat my drenched ass on the sit-up board.

So, I went to take a shower.
Then I got out.
Then I realized I had forgotten my regular bra.
Oh well. I'm flat. Who cares.
Then I realized I had forgotten SHORTS! I had no fucking shorts! Underwear, a shirt, clean socks,a towel, shampoo, soap, a hairdryer, a little spritz, a little make-up, a little snack, an extra water bottle, extra hair elastics, my phone, my keys, BUT NO FUCKING SHORTS. (I had come to the gym dressed to run.)

I just couldn't put on those sopping wet running shorts. I just couldn't.
So I sucked it up, picked up my stuff, and went to get my kids just wearing a shirt with no bra and my underwear.

JUST KIDDING!!!! That would be great, though, huh?

Actually, I put my towel around my waist. This was fine until Noah asked me WHY I had a towel around my waist and I had to admit I had forgotten key apparel to everyone within hearing distance.

Thursday is my last super long ride. I'm a little sad. I like my training. I don't want it to stop.
But I am really excited for this race. I'm excited because I know I can do it. Cool, huh? I can't be stupid, but if I'm not stupid I DO think I will be an Ironman in just a little under three weeks.

Then I'll rest a bit.
But not for too long because I have signed up for IM Coeur d'Alene!!!!!
Please let me know if there's anyone out there doing it. I want some Coeur d'Alene blogging buddies!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Ange, Mary, Alina
just before our swim at Crystal Lake in Gray, Maine

The sun came out on Friday. Just in time. I was about to go totally and completely insane. It was cold on the beach, but I didn't care. I was just so happy to have the sun poke through the clouds. We had thirteen straight days of rain. Thirteen. And before that it was gloomy and cold.

Anyway! On Friday morning Alina and I got up very early and drove an hour to meet Ange at Crystal Lake. In MA Walden Pond is the mecca of OW swimming, but in Maine it's Crystal Lake. There were probably 25 people there to swim. The parking lot was packed.

Ange and Alina are about the same pace. That pace would be ummm--really, really fast. My plan was to follow them as best as I could until they were out of sight. They were really nice and waited for me every fifteen minutes or so until I caught up with them. By the end of each fifteen minutes I was usually a good three to four minutes behind them. Yep.

It was great to be in a lake as opposed to the Atlantic. I love ocean swimming, but because the weather has been so cold for the last month, the water is FREEZING. 55 degrees to be exact. That's really cold. Alina and I went swimming on Saturday and I swear I was minutes away form hypothermia. I couldn't feel my nose, feet or fingers by the end of our swim.

This morning I went on a five hour ride. Riding around here is about ten billion times easier than riding in suburban MA. The pavement is smooth, the shoulders wide, there are long stretches of road instead of the winding shit we have at home, and there are very few cars. In MA I feel as if I risk my life every time I go out. Between potholes, asshole drivers, and tons of traffic, riding is not that easy or fun.

I rode out to the Limerick, Cornish, Parsonfield area. I don't mean offense to anyone who might live in one of those towns, but WOW there is nothing fucking out there--just miles of farmland and forest and scrubalnd and rusty abandoned tractors, trailers and trucks. Cornish appears to be the metropolis of the three towns. It has a small grocery store, a Subway and a Dunkin Donuts.

On the way home, riding through Parsonsfield, I climbed a mountain on my bike. I didn't mean to. I had no idea that the route I had planned would take me straight up. When I got to the top of this mountain I snapped a few pictures. Acutally, it was very pretty. Of course, you will note the obligatory abaonded trailer...

When I got back from the ride I headed out on an 8 mile transition run. My plan was to stay zone 2 the whole time. This is the hr I will run at IM, and I wanted to simulate that.
The thing is, when I DO discipline myself to stay in zone 2 running is fantastic. It's effortless and easy, and just -- lovely. For the first time today I could actually fathom attempting to run a marathon following the bike.

Tomorrow I head back to MA for a week. Boo. But then it's back up to Maine for another week before I journey to Lake Placid.

Oh boy.
Oh boy!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Okay. I admit it. I'm in a crappy mood.
I'm in Maine. I should be happy. I love Maine. But Maine is so cold right now. SO SO SO COLD. It is so cold that my swim this morning, done in the frigid Atlantic, was warmer than the air temperature. And I'm not kidding or exaggerating. The water temp. was 57 degrees. The air temp. was 54.
And the air temp. never got warmer.
And it's been this cold for more than a week.
And it's wet. And tomorrow will be the same. And Friday will still be wet, but it may climb, if we're lucky, into the mid-60's.
And it's July.

The one thing this weather is good for is running. I had a great, cool, misty run early this a.m. Of course if this weather keeps up for the next three weeks and then at Placid it's even remotely hot I'm totally screwed, as my body will not be acclimated at all.
Biking and OW swimming in this shit? Not so good. I swam mid-morning (thank you, Alina...) wearing my wetsuit and Alina's neoprene hat (thanks again). It was cold and choppy, and when the fog set in Alina got nervous and notified the lifeguard that I was out there and she couldn't see me anymore. I was fine, though. The rip tide that was so strong yesterday was less intense, so I was confident all would end well. (Yesterday was a different story. Probably not too smart to swim solo, which I did, naturally.) After my swim I took a positively boiling shower and then put on two long sleeved shirts, a sweatshirt, and then my Marmot jacket. I still haven't taken any of these layers off. I know the rest of the country is experiencing heat, and I know you want it to cool off.
Just be careful what you wish for.
Not that I'm bitter or anything.

My kids (and Alina's) seem unconcerned about the weather. At five tonight they insisted we go to the beach for a swim and to dig holes. It was 50 degrees and they wore bathing suits. . My oldest actually went swimming. The others just dug. and dug. I guess it's fun to dig.....
I just stood there shivering, occasionally asking if they were ready to go back for some nice warm cocoa...please? please?

One thing that is nice about the rain and cold is that our pace here has been slow--or as slow as it can get when you have six kids between the two of you. (Alina and I are sharing the house and we have all of our kids here together.) Over the years we have both become quite adept at drinking tea (or coffee in my case), reading and ignoring them all as they scream and run around like lunatics. At any rate, I have been waiting a long time to get to a place where I can just be without the worry of work and school hovering over my head. I'm starting to unwind. My shoulders have relaxed a bit this week for the first time in forever.

I have a lot to figure out. I'm sans job. I'm sans direction. I'm sans a deep knowing about--well--anything. I DO know I'd like to go back to school (again) for Master's degree number 3, this time in sport psychology and exercise physiology, but how can I 1. justify a third master's and 2. afford it even if I could justify it? And furthermore, isn't it about time I stopped going to school, teaching in school, being in school? It has been -- well-- about 34 years now...

I am in a murky spot in life. You know when you are swimming OW and the water is clear and you can see the sand and the rocks and (gasp) sometimes fish? I like that. But then there are those other times--in other bodies of water-- in which the bottom is dark silt and black leaves, and you can see little if anything except for your own splash, which sometimes you mistake for a snapping turtle that may or may not be out to get you. It's disconcerting not to see, and to wonder whether you will eventually see, whether you will emerge from the murk and have clarity again. I've always had trouble with faith. Yet I need it to get through this period in my life. I need the faith that this too shall pass, and I will feel settled, connected and safe with myself again.

Meanwhile, I guess I'll watch my cherubs as they make their own summer reality. They are in Maine--with the beach, and the ice cream store, with their cousins and Aunt Alina. They are going to the beach in their swim trunks and swimming with their little boogie boards--even if it is 50 degrees, spitting rain, and the ocean is murky with seaweed and silt. Fuck the weather. They're getting on with it.

Somehow, I need to too.