Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bagels, 80's Dieting, Cavewomen and a lot of Rambling.

Bagels used to be my absolute favorite food. I liked them with butter and raspberry jam. Way back when, Andy and I would go out for breakfast every Sunday (we are talking pre-kid days, of course) and we would read the paper and drink coffee and eat bagels. Man, I loved Sunday mornings.

Bagels were not always considered evil food. I grew up in the 70's/80's. The 80's were all about low-fat and no meat. Carbs were just fine... everybody loved carbs. In order to lose weight in the 80's you simply cut your calories to near starvation, ate no fat, and exercised to Jane Fonda or Richard Simmons.

Here is a snapshot of dieting in the 80's. 

It's the summer after Mary's freshman year in college. Mary has made it her goal to be an itsy-bitsy, skinny minny coming back to school in the fall. Beer weight has caught up with her, and some....

Breakfast: an apple and one tall glass of water with lemon. 
Lunch:  One slice of 40 calorie non-fat fake cheese and one piece of iceburg lettuce and a little non-fat mayo sandwiched between two, 40-calorie pieces of white bread. For dessert -- a few carrot sticks, and a glass of water.  
Snack: 0 calorie, non-fat, artificially sweetened Frozen Yogurt at TCBY. 
Dinner: Bland chicken breast that had been pre-measured on a little white scale to insure it was not more than a few ounces. A glass of water. Iceburg lettuce, carrots, cucumbers and diet crotons with a little 0 calorie, non-fat, artificially sweetened salad dressing.  Dessert: One non-fat, artificially sweetened Snackwell brownie or cookie.

Exercise: Aerobics (lift those knees!) in the basement while listening to Come on Eileen...

That's how we did it.

I remember I dropped more than 20 pounds in six weeks, so lest you think starvation diets don't work, (at least in terms of actually dropping poundage) I'm here to tell you that they do--at least as well as eating all lean meat and the appropriate (not starchy, non-legume, not too sweet) fruits and vegetables. Are starvation diets a la the 80's wise? Healthy? Reasonable? Well... nooo.....
but in my humble opinion neither is denying yourself 97% of the fucking foods in the ordinary grocery store when you attempt to eat like a cavewoman.

(Important aside** I should add that when I went back to school in the fall, I gained that 20 back in under six weeks drinking case after case of beer. Starvation diets don't work in that you gain it all back as soon as you stop starving yourself, especially if you are in college, drinking a lot, and ordering pizza at 3 a.m. in a drunken stupor. But you already knew that.)

These days carbs, especially refined carbs, are just. not. cool. In 2010 in order to lose weight you can't just cut calories to near starvation, eat no fat and jam to Jane Fonda.  No, in 2010 we lose weight in quite a different way: we ban the carbs (except for the fruit and veggie carbs--and we even lose some of those), eat more protein, and often end up with ketosis (love that metallic taste and oh so barf-a-licious breath!). Jane is still fine, I suppose--but you no longer need to the leg warmers to lose weight.You just need to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day--preferably by doing yoga, pilates, or Zumba.

Yoga and Zumba are okay, but it's really a bummer about the refined carbs. I miss bagels.

So why the hell am I writing about this?
Same old same old... because....

I want to crush IM CDA.  I want to crush every race I do this season. So, like you, I'm looking at all ways to do that--all things that contribute to the I can crush it picture. Diet is obviously one of those contributors. The message I keep getting is that I need to go back to my cavewoman roots in terms of diet. Agrarian life just fucked us all right up. The word is that you shouldn't eat anything that needs to be grown and you shouldn't eat domesticated animals unless they were grass-fed or fish unless they were able to swim in the wild and not in a little pen.

I've been thinking about this.

Listen, I know I'm jaded. But don't you think it's just a little bit possible that banning all foods that are associated with civilization (as in civilized, as in human-made and grown) --is ummmm, maybe, WRONG?

We were so damn sure in the 1980's that eating fat would make us fat. We are concrete people: fat in = fat on.
In the 1990's we began to realize that hey, maybe that just ain't right... hmmmm, although we still hung to the idea that calories were the problem. Nutri-system and Lean Cuisine made a butt-load on us by convincing us that if we just at their shit, we'd lose it all. Stupid, yes, but at least we were still allowed carbs.

By 2000 carbs were down down down. It's not that fat will make you fat. It's not that you need to buy pre-packaged meals to lose weight. No. That's naive. Atkins had come along with his ketosis revolution , and we got all-lighted and followed him like he was Jesus. That is, until he dropped dead of a heart attack. A little too much bacon maybe? Talk about irony.

We have it figured out now, though.

The problem is that over 10,000 years ago our super-smarty pants ancestors finally stopped moving around long enough to realize that if they just penned those damn animals and planted those damn seeds, they would maybe, just maybe, not starve! They could stay in one place! They could.... gasp.... have food at their disposal!  So smart, our ancestors...
Except. By setting up shop, they denied their roots, and doing so caused them, and us, our health.

Crazy. Just crazy.
But you know what the really crazy thing is?
The crazy thing is that I am starting to buy it!
Just like I did the no fat starvation diet, just like a bought myself the Lean Cuisines, just like I purchased the Bible de Atkins....
I am now buying that I need to go Paleo, too.

And so tomorrow I'll go to Whole Foods and get myself some grass-fed elk and bison, I'll bring my list of good vegetables and bad vegetables (tough shit, though, I'm still eating legumes). I'll try to rid myself of my Wheat Chex breakfast, replacing it with low-sugar fruit and some eggs laid by grass fed chickens. And I'll remember that those Cro-Magnon men and women had it all right and that civilization just fucked me all up. Thank God I get it now.

Oh, and while I'm busy thanking, Thank God my ancestors were smart enough to start farming, so that there would eventually be places like Whole Foods, where I can buy the shit I need to be just like a fucking Cavewoman. Thank God.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Boston Prep 16 Miler RR--Otherwise known as Derry, Baby!

This race always makes me think of my buddy Michael. He, Tom, Jeff W. (GNRC club-mates) and a few others run Derry (as we call it) every year, without fail. When I first started running with them they would talk about this race with total reverence. Nothing was as hard as Derry. It was a beast, a killer, mountainous, freaking impossible.  It was, in Michael's words, Derry, Baby!

This is the actual elevation profile of the course. It climbs and descends roughly 2500 feet in its 16 miles.

This was my third time running Derry. It gets better every time.  My first year running I ran scared. I had been warned I would never run anything harder. (This is, in fact, untrue. Stu's 30K, among others, is harder.) ANYWAY. I took it out slowly, and then pounded the end, and I ended up doing relatively well. The next time I ran it I was supposed to only run it as a training run. I scoffed at that plan, and decided to race it anyway, until about mile 8 when I suddenly and desperately needed to take a crap. There was no place to do so--just fields of open snow--and so I suffered. I really suffered. The results of that race weren't spectacular, although I did successfully refrain from shitting myself. This year I came to redeem myself. I had a plan, too, although I didn't advertise it.

The plan: Run hard from the start. Be stupid. Make it hurt. Then finish strong anyway.

My theory here is that I need to learn how to race when I am so exhausted I'm going to collapse. If I took it out easy and finished strong, who cares? You leave fuel in the tank, of course you'll finish strong. You leave nothing in the tank--well, then what happens? You crash and burn OR you rail against it and push through and discover you can endure a new level of fatigue and pain.

So that was my plan. Crash and burn or beat the pain.

In a moment you will hear the results of my plan.

First I will say that, as you know, I am an extrovert. Big time. I really love knowing everyone at races, and I knew a ton of people at this race--club members, tri friends, blogger friends (I got to meet Ana-Maria -aka Running and Living! very fun. Kristina (or Marathon Mama) was there too. It was awesome. As a bonus, Andy came this year. This made me very, very happy. I've wanted him to run this race since I began running it. He's fast and I wanted to show him off.

Okay. Back to my plan and how it went down.

I started. I got stuck behind hoards of people. I HATE THAT. But I dealt. The first mile is half uphill and half downhill. Not bad. I clocked in at 7:59. My plan was to take it out in at least 7:30 (marathon pace), so I picked up the pace so I could make up for lost time.

At this point my heart rate was still sort of in control. Sure, I was in zone 4, but not zone 5. For me, that's in control.  Next mile 7:24. Better, but I still had 24 seconds to make up. That only gave me six seconds. Next mile 7:07. Okay. I'm close now. 7:07 though... hmmm... I was getting close to my ten-mile racing pace, and this race was 16, and this race has some rather nasty hills.... Next mile 7:25. Check ! Time made up and I felt great.

I actually felt pretty fabulous until about mile 8. Then I wanted to stop.
Instead I reminded myself to go harder and make it hurt more. That was the point. So I did. I went harder.
Unfortunately, at about mile 9 the hills really come out to play. At mile 9.5 you go straight up, but not for long, maybe a 1/2 mile. Then at mile 10 you really go up--and you keep going up. and up. and up. You go up for about 1.5 miles. Then it flattens, and then SURPRISE, you go up for another mile or so.

That part of the race is just a pisser. I ran hard though, and only had two miles over 8 minute pace despite of the up and up. I passed a lot of people and every time I began to feel like my legs just couldn't take it any more I reminded myself--Mary, that's the point. Work harder now.

At mile 13 a race volunteer shouted to me, "You're the 16th woman!"

Sixteenth! Sixteenth! That is NOT acceptable. I will take nothing over 15.
(Actually, I don't think I've had even finished in the top twenty the last two times I did it, but whatever.)

I started looking  for women. There was a clump of four about 1/4 mile in front of me. I sucked down a gel and started pounding. It was a weird sensation to try and pound because my legs felt a little like Jell-O.

I took the four girls out, and then began to run in fear. How close where they? I still had 2 miles left. Any one of those girls, all of whom looked fit and ready to rip it, could pass me back at any moment.

I pulled up to my friend Mike Ferrari (another Mike). We ran together a bit, and then I pushed on. I must be running well, I thought, if I am passing Mike F. Mike had pointed out that Tom, a club mate, was up ahead in  yellow. Ohhhhhhh. I really wanted to get Tom. You probably don't remember, but at the New Bedford Half Marathon last year I passed him with a 1/2 mile to go. He looked at me nonchalantly and then passed me back. If you recall, I politely called him a fucker.

Payback time.

So I sprinted. I mean it. I sprinted. My Garmin read 5:55 minute pace. That's 30 seconds faster than my 5k pace. I could feel the gel making its way up my throat. My leg muscles were snapping all over the place like clown legs.
Must get Tom. Must get Tom. Must get Tom.

So I got Tom with about 1/2 mile to go. I passed two more women in the process of doing so, so that was nice.

As I passed, Tom looked at me and said coolly, "Oh! Hi Mary." Then he turned on the jets, passed me back and left me in the dust.
To make matters worse, that stealthy Mike Ferrari had stayed right behind me the whole time, unbeknown to me. As we made the final turn into the parking lot to finish (maybe 1/16 of a mile go) he said, "I'm right behind you, Mary!" And then passed me. I will not repeat the expletive I shouted at that point, and the name I called him.

So, I was 10th woman overall out of close to 300. Not bad for a  triathlete.... ;)
Mike beat me by 2 seconds. Tom beat me by 10.

You wait, you two. You just wait.

After finishing I hobbled around a bit, and tried not to puke. Then I chatted with Mike and Tom, and I was very nice, although I should have stepped on their feet and called them names. As we chatted, Tom told me that Maria had finished ahead of all of us.

Finished ahead of us?

Maria is good. She is very good. And I have been coaching her, so now she is even better.  (If I do say so myself....)
Her assignment for this race was to beat me, but honestly, I planned to make that very, very hard for her to do.

She was ninth woman and placed 2nd AG. This race draws out all of the big dogs. She seriously ROCKED. I can't wait to see what she does at Boston.

My other athletes running (Andy and Rose) had good races too. Regrettably I had pummeled Rose with a bit too much in the week preceding Derry. Oops. Sorry! I'm still learning... :) But she triumphed, and ran sub 8 min. pace anyway. Andy ran a 6:43 pace and finished 27th overall out of over 400 guys. For a dude that hasn't done much in the way of competing for like--ummmm--15 years, he pretty much smoked it. Unfortunately he battled with some depletion issues. He's shed like 10 pounds in the last few weeks. He looks awesome, but yeah, that's too fast to lose 10 lbs.  And he paid for it. The last three miles, I understand, were NOT pretty. The EMTs wouldn't let him go for quite a bit after he finished.  But hey, he knows how to suffer, right? He's disappointed of course, because had he kept pace he would've been in the top twenty. But I am proud.

SOOOOO. That was the day.
My stats were:
4/94 AG, 10/279 for women, 126/705 overall. 7:35 pace. 2:01:12.
For that course? I'll take it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On the Tag Wagon

I was tagged by my lovely friend Marathon Mama to write ten things I like. I like green, to start.

This is easy.
I like a lot of things. I want a lot of things. I'm a liker and a wanter to a fault.  I realize that like and want are not synonymous. Unfortunately, for me, they are often are.

Okay. Let's see. How do I limit myself to ten?
Should I categorize here? Things I like to have? Things I like to see? Things I like to be? Things I like to get?
So many choices... so many choices....

I will start with a few things I like that you, the reader, can give to me. Let's face it, I'd like to spread (as I said in my last post I would) sweetness and light, but really whatI want is sweetness and light for moi. I'm like that.

So, what do I LIKE, that I can get from YOU?

1. Attention. I really like attention--espeically positive attention, but I am a sucker for all attention, really, even the negative stuff. You can pay attention to me by making comments on my blog. A lot.

2. Flattery. I like attention--and flattery is really a sub-category of attention, but I will list it separately so I can articulate my favorite forms of flatter. I like to be told (by order of preference) that I'm hot, I'm smart, I'm funny, I'm a good writer, I'm a kick-ass parent, I'm a fantastic athlete, and I'm likable.  Those are my favorite compliments--but any and all flattery is liked by me.

3. A Good Debate. Boy do I love to bicker about all things triathlon--or anything really. I LOVE getting reactions out of people--and I will often say things I shouldn't just to see what will happen and how the other person will respond. I only like to bicker, though, when it's understood that in the end it's all fun, and with a person who can be wicked and witty. It's no fun if the whole thing is too serious or if the person with whom I'm bickering doesn't have at least some amount of dry wit.

4. Friendship. You know, when I started this blogging stuff I expected to interact with other athletes and that was appealing. I had NO IDEA how many friends--like real friends--I would make by doing it, though. Some of these friends I've met and I hang with regularly, like MM, mentioned above. Others I've never met, but I feel like I've known and loved forever, like Judi or Michelle or R&L or Velma or Amanda or Lucho or Elizabeth or Regina or Donna or Meredith (there are so many more of you, too, but I got sick of linking. You know who you are. Forgive me. ) I also have friends who I have gotten to know so much better through blogging, like Steve and KP and Kim or Speedy--and even my bestest friends ever like Ange and Alina. It's just a cool thing. I like blogging and I like my blogger peeps.

Okay. How about a list of things I like in workout/race land?

1. Kicking ass and placing well.
2. When a really awesome song comes on the IPod and I can dance and sing (sort of) as I run.
3. Sweating.
4. Passing people, all people and any people, in a race, on the road, in the pool, and staying ahead of them.
5. Pain.

Okay.  How about a list of my favvvvvv fashion tri wear.
1. Splish
2. Nike race tops
3. black arm warmers
4. Little Sugoi 4-inch tri shorts
5. Sock Guy socks.

How about things I like that I shouldn't like???
Gossip, tattoos, pick-up trucks...
hmmm. On second thought, probably shouldn't go there.
That would be a really fun list to write. It's too bad.

Okay. Onward. List of Foods/Beverages I like:
1. Coffee
2. Wine
3. lean meats, fruits and vegetables (JK)
4. Dessert of any kind. (Seriously, any kind. I've never met a dessert I didn't like.)
5. Wheat Chex. I just really like Wheat Chex.

List of RANDOM THINGS I really like, and then I'm done cause I'm way, way over 10.

1. Dogs. All dogs. Even big, ugly slobbery dogs. In fact, I may like them the best.
2. Massage that hurts.
3. Personality Assessment Instruments of any kind.
4. Dancing.
5. Dancing and drinking.
6. Watching Craig Alexander in the last few minutes of the IM Kona 2009 special as he crosses the line, and then gets that angry Fuck You! I'm the Best! Me! look on his face..... arghhhhhhhhh (that might go under the list of things I shouldn't like, though...)
7. Email.
8. A really, really good book where I am so involved I start talking to the characters as if they are real.
9. House. The TV show.
10. When Lara, my littlest says, I wuv you..... Makes me melt.
11. Watching Jordan kick ass in the pool and beat all the rest of those stinking 8-year-olds.
12. That'll do, Pig.
13. Arrogance.
14. Nailing a workout.
15. Going to the ice cream store with Alina and the kids in Ocean Park.
16. Rambling philosophical discussions with Andy that go on for hours.
17. Feeling my arm muscles.
18. Winning an arguement.
19. Really good, sharp, dry wit. Wit and banter combined is fucking sublime...
19a. The word fuck in all its forms and parts of speech.
20. The smell of my super stinky old dog, Linus.
21. Crinkling pillowcases.
22. Really sharp pencils.
23. The smell of bleach.
24. The thrift shop Second Time Around
25. My kids. who are fucking perfect in every way.

Other stuff too, but I'm pretty sure you stopped reading awhile ago.
There's my sweetness and light!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Being Liked and Being Right

Here's a little haiku reflecting my morning mood:

Lost a follower
And Damn! I know who it is
How do I make up?

while simultaneously this:

Fuck everyone else
I am consistently right
Please don't forget it.

while simultaneously this:

Keeping it in check
Why can't I just hold my tongue?
My will betrays me.

while simultaneously this:

I found a gray hair
And I pulled that fucker out
But still, I will lose.

Can you tell I spent 15 years as a sixth grade teacher? Do you know how many poetry units start with the haiku?

Ahh welllllll....
Today I have a day off from training.
These were my plans:

  • Get a massage from MIKE, who is freaking awesome and tears my muscles up. It also helps that he is young, and quite hot.
  • Meet my friend Lizzie for lunch.
  • Do a little shopping at my very favorite high-end thrift shop with Lizzie.
  • Treat myself to a Starbucks latte with whole milk and the real sugary syrup I love so much.

But it all went wrong.. weep weep.
  • Mike is off today. No massage for moi.
  • Lizzie's  little girl is barfing. She must stay home.
  • No one to shop with makes shopping NO FUN.

I will have the Starbucks. It's my only remaining treat.

This week I have been all in a storm. Who knows why... I feel agitated and angry, super intense and ready to pick fights. So I picked fights. It felt good. But it also got me in trouble a bit. It always does.... sigh.
I blame the rest week. I always get fucked up during rest weeks.

I am reading about ten super good books right now. For fiction I'm reading The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard. It's a suspense--a story of family secrets and murder, with just the right balance of romance and tawdry sex. Totally delicious.  I've also been reading Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Live : How to Finally Grow Up by James Hollis, who is a Jungian analyst. (It was the latter half of the title that appealed to me.... ) I like the book--I've studied Jung (not as much as you, Dad, but still.....) and I appreciate how he uses Jungian philosophy to highlight the challenges in moving from being young to being old, but I struggle with it because I am essentially an existential nihilist--and don't believe in meaning a priori. That's for another post, though.  Finally, I'm reading Base Building for Cyclists by Thomas Chapple. He is of the train smart, not necessarily hard camp. It's important for me to read books such as his, since I am your typical triathlete work horse, who is fearful of not working hard enough and totally suspicious of taking rest.

Okay. My vow is to be all sweetness and light for a least a few days. No more bad moods, no more doing shots to get over bad moods, no more picking fights so I can scratch the damn itch.

And on that note, I hope you all have a lovely, lovely day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Systems, Individuals, and Being Seen

I've been thinking about what it takes to be a good coach.

I'd like to think I'm an accepting, non-judgmental person, but the truth is that I have quite particular ideas as to what makes someone worthy of my respect or not, especially when it comes to coaching. The person needs to be experienced, intelligent, well-read (in the field, although well-read in general is a good sign), have basic command over written language, sure of her/himself, capable of defending her/himself and her/his ideas without become overly defensive, and she/he must have proven results with athletes whom she/he has coached. These are my most basic requirements, and frankly, they are hard to argue with, with the possible exception of the command over language thing.  I have a problem with sloppy writing--I equate it with sloppy thinking--but I think that is likely only my little issue.


Those are the things I profess to think are essential in a coach.

But. I'm kinda kidding myself. 

What I really want in a coach--what I really long for in a coach-- has far less to do with textbook knowledge or a proven record, and far more to do with how I think said coach regards ME.
(It's all about me.)

Before I go further, I want you to all know that I actually have the quintessential good coach.  This post wasn't inspired by my need of one, but rather my observation of other coaches in my midst, and also reflecting on myself as a coach, and where I stand up and where I am flawed.  So onward.

I taught sixth grade forever, and one thing I learned over the years is that if a child believed I truly liked him/her, truly thought he/she was capable, and trusted that I was genuinely interested in him/her as a person and not just a student, then he/she would work for me. I would have no discipline problems, no missed homework, and the kid would give me everything he/she could muster in-class. Being able to convince the student of this is the secret to good middle-school teaching.

I believe adults are no different than sixth graders.
In fact, I would argue that adults are even more in need of this kind of attention than sixth graders. There are reasons for this, but I won't get into them in this post.

I'm not trying to say that a coach needs to be a therapist, coddling and cuddling and making the athelte feel special.  I, like you, know full well I am neither special nor unique, especially as an athlete. My issues are common, my injuries textbook, my psychological make-up a certain type (which is to say OCD, ADD, and incredibly intense) which is, of course, quite common for those pursuing LC triathlon. 

I chatted with a friend this weekend when out celebrating Ange and Mark's 40th birthdays. He had recently hired a coach, but was despondent upon finding out that said coach hadn't even fully read the questionnaire he had so carefully filled out before making out his first block of training.  The plan didn't take into consideration his prior training, his goals, his special concerns. It fit him into a system. Granted, this is a system that works for many individuals, but it is a system none the less. It didn't take into consideration things he needed and wanted taken into consideration. It hadn't take into consideration his intensity, and the intensity at which he had hoped to train.

And that was it. Coach gone.

A good coach tries to figure out WHAT he/she is dealing with before making out a schedule. It's quite possible that said athlete needs to be saved from his own intensity, but to deny that intensity -- to simply ignore it and try to pigeon-hole him into a particular coaching scheme ain't going to work either.

There are people who view the world in terms of systems--in terms of the way things should be. But people are much more complicated than any one system can handle. There may be one really good way to teach writing to sixth graders, but I can tell you right now that that system won't work unless the child buys into it too. And there is the rub: the child--and the adult athlete--won't buy into it unless you convince the child of your loyalty and interest in him FIRST.

I plan to be a good coach. I plan to give the right workouts, in the right order. I plan to know my shit. I plan to pick the brains of every coach I respect to find out their secrets, and I plan to steal those secrets and use them myself. (jk, sort of. ) I plan to work hard, to think carefully, to try to not be defensive (a few of you likely realize how hard that will be for me...) and to practice what I preach.
More than anything, though, I plan to respect the individual--to figure out what makes him/her work --and how to get him/her to work for me--so we can create greatness together.

I'm not even sure exactly what I'm saying here. But I do know I'm right.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reset Button

My grouchiness has passed. I didn't know it at the time, but I was suffering from stick up my ass syndrome. The cure is to do a bunch of shots. It's an ailment that happens to the best of us--usually sneaking up from behind in such a way that we don't immediately recognize the culprit. Luckily for me, Ange (and Mark) had a 40th Birthday Drink and Dance Fiesta on Saturday night, and a few hours in and several shots later I was cured. Huge relief. Thanks Ange and Mark. I needed that.

Here are a few shots of the cure-all shot evening. 

Alina, Ange, Me--
perhaps at our peak hammered-ness.

Jeff, (Ange's little bro) and Mike. Mike and I, against all odds, got up after 3 hours of sleep (ahem, separately...) to run the next morning. 

Alina and Darrell. Not sure what the conversation was here.
Alina and Andy being goobers. 

The next morning, as I mentioned earlier, I met a group of Mainers to run a few miles.
It was not pretty.
We had closed the bar the night before.
Here is evidence.
Observe the lights, now on:
(Ange and Mike)
Anyway! We closed the bar, got home, and I got a few measly hours of drunken sleep before awaking for said run.
Usually I am unbelievably and annoyingly chatty on such runs. This morning I let the others talk. (Thanks Stacey, Erin and Nate!) I .WAS. HURTING.

My heart rate was low, but I was breathing audibly. My stomach churned. I felt like someone had put bricks into my legs.
But worst of all was the pain in my FEET.

I have pretty ugly and deformed feet as feet go, as I have discussed in earlier posts. However, said feet (and legs) still look pretty sweet in boots. Hence, I felt the need to wear boots and a little skirt at Ange and Mark's little fiesta.   This is unusual for me; generally I WANT to look sexy, but I just can't bring myself to wear anything other than Uggs and jeans.
But, in case you have forgotten, we are turning 40.
So all bets are off. There is no longer any fucking around. I need to wear the damn boots and little skirt while I still can.

Unfortunately, my feet suffered from this reasoning. They suffered a lot. By the end of the night I had to stop dancing so I could sit and  fantasize about taking the damn boots OFF.

Which brings me to my run. My little tootsies were NOT (really really not) pleased about that run.
Oh, and wait, did I mention I only packed my Nike Frees? You know, like bare-fucking feet running????
(What the hell is wrong me?)

The pads of my feet are still STILL on fire.

We ran around 10. I still needed to run for 39 minutes, though, to get my assigned two hours in. I was no longer sick to  my stomach at this point, just really tired and trying to ignore my SCREAMING feet.

But I did it. I finished the damn run.
I wanted to curl up on the side of the road and whimper, but I did not.

We are back home now. The kids are watching Wall-E and I'm typing while my poor little feet are raised, smoke lifting off of them like burnt pieces of pork.

The boots were still worth it.

Happy Birthday Ange and Mark!
We are following closely behind you.....

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ticking Away The Moments

frittering and wasting hours in an off-hand way.

Except it's not that off-hand. I feel the panic.
get it done. focus. get it done. move. do it now.

I need that voice--the panicked voice that won't leave me alone--to shut. the. fuck. up.
But it won't shut up, because it knows the truth. I'm not young and life is not long and there is absolutely no time to kill.


Here are a few updates from the Mary files:

1. I just told my kids I'd buy them each a toy if they cleaned the car. It's 20 degrees. It's getting dark. But they are outside cleaning the car. (Am I a bad mom?)
1a. I take it back. They came in. Without cleaning the car. They played beat each other up in the snow, instead. Damn.

2. I am coaching six women now, five runners and one triathlete. I'm also coaching Andy. It is time-consuming to be a good coach. This is what I've learned so far, among other things.

3. Lara lost her glasses. I am up nights wondering where the hell they could be. I also told my kids I'd buy a toy for the child who finds the glasses. No one has yet to find them, so I know they weren't hidden on purpose by accident by a vengeful sibling.

4. I got myself some digital calipers to measure body fat. So far my body fat readings have ranged from 1.5 % to 50 %. I think there may be room for a little improvement in my measuring skills.

5. I've started really training for IM CDA. Today I did a workout that involved me cranking in zone 4 on the bike, and then running outside at (what was supposed to be) 10K pace (but definitely wasn't close to that). I love that my coach believes in nonlinear periodization. I love that she makes me work on all of aspects of my training for the sixth months leading up to a big race.
But I must admit that when I was on my last mile "at 10K pace" today I pined for the days when zone 1 was the requirement--and zone 4 was a big no-no.
That workout was freaking HARD.

5. I've been using Accelerade. In the past I have shunned it, because, frankly, it is very caloric, and I, like you I'm quite sure, am obsessed with the fact that some day I will need to be back down to race weight. I have always used and liked the PowerBar drinks because they are light and watery. Accelerade is more like eatng a meal.
But the thing is--I seem to perform better with Accelearde.
And I think the reason why has little to do with the protein in it, and a lot to do with its higher caloric content.  My body is a fan of calories.

6.  I'm reading a new book, The Runner's Edge: High Tech Training for Peak Performance by (of course) Matt Fitzgerald (and this PhD dude, McGregor). So far I have learned I don't take advantage of the many cool aspects of my Garmin. Review to come.

7. I am a pasty ghost right now and I think I need to dye my hair. I feel boring. I'm thinking red. I haven't been red in awhile.

8. The first part of the movie Up makes me bawl.

I'm going to snap out of this grouchy, blah blah mood soon. I just know it.
I'm catching up with the sun. I'm running. I am.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I have been grouchy for a week.
Like really grouchy.
Worse, the reasons why I am grouchy are inconclusive.
  • It could be because I'm getting a visit from my lady friend soon (what a dumb ass expression, huh?) -- but alas, that doesn't explain a week's worth of grouchy, just a day or two. 
  • It could be because my house is disorganized and unsanitary (one peeing dog + one peeing boy = unsanitary at all times), and so far, despite tears and screams, my fairy Godmother has not made an appearance to help me out here.
  • It could be that despite my constant flurry of activity, I never seem to get anything done.
  • It could be that I have to fight my kids every day to STOP watching the boob tube, stop sneaking Goldfish crackers, stop fighting and scratching each other, start doing their homework NOW, and (in the case of my son) stop farting! What is up with that? Is it just because he is MALE? I know I have few male readers, but maybe if you are a male you could tell me why he farts incessantly, and seems unbelievably proud of this, especially if the fart is so nasty it threatens to kill all living things in the house?
The thing is, though, these things are constant, and so don't explain the week of grouchiness, really. Usually I can transcend these things.  Usually I can reach a state of inner calm and strength even when completely pushed to the brink.

Not this week.

My conclusion is that it is because I am having trouble beating the '09 Mary in workout land.

I thrive on beating last year's Mary. This is becoming tougher each year, though. It used to be a given. I used to be able to take her down without a hitch.
But last year she focused pretty hard and she got pretty good. Last year at this time she was thinner, stronger and more driven than the 2010 Mary.
And I'm pissed about that. How dare she! How dare she make it so damn hard to kick her ass!


Another irritation right now is that my health, as measured by my bloodwork done in December, is not perfect.
I find this annoying. I train like a crazy woman. I eat well. I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. What freaking gives?

My cholesterol, though not officially deathly high, is not good.  HDL = 50 and LDL = 120 and ratio = 2.4
My blood sugar is high (100 mg/dL)--which I think is not officially deathly bad, but is not good.
My red blood cell count is low (3.88 m/cmm) and my MCH is high (33 pg)
My anion gap is low (6 mEq/L). (This is an electorlyte thing.)
My creatinine ratio is low (11.3). (This is a metabolic thing.)

My doctor insists that all is well. I  have no reason to worry. I am all good. In short, she refuses to indulge my panic over imperfection in terms of blood work.

But the small amount of research I have done indicates maybe I SHOULD BE CONCERNED. 
If I'm doing everything right,  why isn't my bloodwork--especially the sugar and the cholesterol-- spot-fucking on????

Furthermore, I am not sure what to do about the other levels which are off. I already take iron--so I don't know why my red blood cell count is low, and I don't really get why the MCH is HIGH.

If you are a doctor, or otherwise know anything about bloodwork, can you give me a nice juicy comment as to whether I am stupid to worry-- or not? And if I am not stupid to worry, what can I do here?

I'm done now.
The next post is going to be super cheery and upbeat.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Catching a Glimpse

 Christmas 2009. Doug (Andy's brother), Andy, Grampy (A's dad), RoRo (A's mom), Lara, me, Jordan, and Noah, who made this picture the Christmas 2009 winner.

That last post had potential. But then I got sick of writing it, and it became one of those posts that just ends before it has really started.

Perhaps it's not that I got sick of writing it.
It's more that I began to feel it was becoming what I lovingly call Christmas Letter Bullshit.

Like you, I receive Christmas cards each year with the obligatory Christmas photo enclosed. I love these cards, though truthfully I don't know quite what to do with them, save through them away in bulk in about mid-February. I love them, though, because one can catch a glimpse of the sender's family life with that photo. The adults in these pictures don't reveal their aging quite so markedly as the kids. The kids change so dramatically from year to year that sometimes it's hard to recognize them. The adults change far less. It's only when you compare a photo from five years ago to the current Christmas picture that you really can see that aging takes place with them too-- slowly and inexorably.

But I digress. These pictures are always beautiful and cheerful, conveying the family's strength and happiness. There isn't longing or pain in these photos. At least not usually. A few years back we received a Christmas card from my husband's good college friend, whose wife was dying of cancer. She was in her early thirties and her children were very young at the time. The picture was of the two kids, a girl and a boy, riding a roller coaster with their arms in the air, screaming with fear and pleasure. The caption read, "It's been a hell of a year."
She died about nine months later.
I cried very hard when I received that Christmas card. It was an honest one--so much more honest than the saccharine pictures of health and strength and happiness I had received or sent out over the years.

Again, I digress. Or maybe I don't.
The problem I  had with my previous post is that by encapsulating the last ten years I had to barely skim the surface of what they were for me. Additionally, I wanted to paint a picture of beauty-of strength-of health that others might envy. I have a loving, intelligent husband who supports my crazy obsessions; I have three beautiful children who were conceived, delivered and reared without pain or confusion or sadness. I began my running career "just  because" after Lara, my third, was born--and I qualified for Boston on my first try because that is how lovely my life has been. I am competent, intelligent, strong and an athlete. And now look at me: healthy, strong, an Ironwoman, with a strong marriage and three gorgeous children.

In short, Christmas Letter Bullshit.

I must admit it's lovely to recreate the past by illustrating it with the most choice photos.  I began to wonder, though, what would happen if I chose to post photos that illustrated a different reality? Not that there are many: generally we try to photograph the beautiful only, and make sure we trash the photos that reveal things we would rather NOT remember. But what if there were photos that I could post that showed more than just the beauty? What would the photos reveal? Can I even conjure them in my head now--or have I edited my past so thoroughly in my mind that I couldn't reach them if I tried?

I went on big ass dose of Zoloft after suffering from cripplingly --crash-my-car-into-a-tree-- depression just after my first was born. Where is the picture that shows you that?
Or where is the picture that captures how in the final year of this decade I completely broke down--quitting my job, nearly destroying the nest I had so carefully built, and working my body into oblivion so I could anesthetize it all?
Yep.  I don't have one that shows that, either.

Why do we paint these perfect pictures of ourselves for others? Do we hope to be envied? Do we hope to convince ourselves of a perfection we want-- but can only have artificially-- in a picture?  What would it be like if everyone highlighted in their Christmas letters how the last year really went down? 

I am reading Lance Armstrong's Biograhpy--the first one--It's Not About the Bike: My journey Back to Life.
It's well written. Kudos to Sally Jenkins.
I still can't get over how it's possible that a gifted writer, like Jenkins, can take on a project like writing in the first person from the perspective of a MAN (a man with quite a bit of extra testosterone, I will add)--and NAIL IT--I mean really get it right and make Lance sound so wise and beautiful and strong--and then NOT be recognized for that achievement. It's criminal!! The book is well-loved, well-reviewed, and has sold so many copies--but who gets the credit here? Lance Armstrong! This just doesn't seem right to me. It is Jenkins' creation of Lance Armstrong that we love. It's what she did with that raw material--the Christmas letter she created--that we adore. Lance provided the raw material, but Jenkins shaped into something of consequence, and she deserves credit for that.

Sally Jenkins, In Armstrong's "voice", gets at why he choose to ride when he had cancer.

Why did I ride when I had cancer? Cycling is so hard, the suffering so intense, that it's absolutely cleansing. You can go out there with the weight of the world on  your shoulders, and after a six-hour ride at a high pain threshold, you feel at peace. The pain is so deep and strong that a curtain descends over your brain. At least for a while you have a kind of hall pass, and don't have to brood on your problems; you can shut everything else out, because the effort and subsequent fatigue are absolute.  There is an unthinking simplicity in something so hard, which is why there's probably some truth to the idea that all world-class athletes are actually running away from something. Once, someone asked me what pleasure I took in riding for so long. "Pleasure?" I said. "I don't understand the question." I didn't do it for the pleasure. I did it for the pain. (85)

I liked my last post. I liked the photos I chose. But my last post is a big half-truth.
I credit Sally Jenkins for summing up so clearly how I arrived where I--(and quite possibly you, if you're reading this and are as psycho about your running/swimming/biking as I am)--am today.

I will likely be somewhere else entirely come 2020.
But for now, that is the true Decade in Review.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Decade in Review

This is really more for me than you. (But actually, who am I kidding? This whole blog is more for me than you!) ANYWAY! This post is particularly self-indulgent--nothing to do with triathlon, just a reflection and recollection of my life from age 30-40, a decade in review.

It began with--surprise surprise-- being with Alina. Andy, Alina, Alina's husband and I rang in the New Year at their tiny apartment in Needham, MA. I think Hercules the cat was there, too. He never did like me and always scratched my ankles when I tried to feed him. Anyway. Shelty (Alina's husband) is a cook, and we had the best meal... That's what I remember.

In 2000 I was on sabbatical from teaching, and getting a degree in Children's Literature/English. Andy was in school too, working on his doctorate in Risk Science and Analysis at Haaaarvard. (You need to stick your nose in the air and elongate the aaaaa to really get the effect.)

We were super poor. So poor. Like unbelievably poor. We lived in a run-down carriage house that was both a health hazard and so cool (horse-hair insulating the walls it was so old) and we lived on this beautiful piece of property. The owners of the estate weren't there, so we used their lland and created a massive garden and let our dogs, Minna and Linus, (who were young pups at the time) room free.

I am a person who has obsessions that usually last between 2 and 5 years. At this point (almost thirty), I was obsessed with literature, Lindy Hop and horticulture. Many of my friends (ahem, Liz) called me Granny because my predilections were those held most often by retirees (except for the Jitterbug... that was pretty youthful and it super fun.) I'm lucky in that Andy usually encourages and tries to facilitate my obsessions. He was especially into the gardening. It was a great project.

I grew all of our flowers and vegetables from seed in the tiny garage below our carriage house. I insisted on labeling everything with little stainless steel markers that stated the plants' Latin names and common names.
(Note the Crate & Barrel boxes in the background. We were one year into marriage and had the boxes to prove it!)

And here's our garden freshly dug, in early spring.

And here's a view of part of the property we lived on. You can see Minna, Linus, and also my brother-in-law's dog, Arthur in the foreground. Both Arthur and Minna are gone now. Linus, at thirteen, is holding out.

Okay. Onward. As I said, we were poor and in school. I decided we weren't poor enough, so I decided to apply to do doctoral work in English. Andy agreed this was wise. Overly educated and dirt poor was a trajectory with which we were both comfortable. I killed myself interviewing, applying, nailing the GREs and so on and was eventually accepted to do doctoral work locally, at Boston College. Perfect.

Then I got pregnant.

As you may have guessed, this wasn't exactly in the plan.
Babies don't care if you can teach nineteenth century literature to graduate students.
They don't care, and they also require that someone in their home is bringing home some bacon, not just some learning.

I deferred entry to BC. We were going to have a baby and we lived in a shack and we had no income to speak of. Time to go back to teaching for moi.

Ahhh... what happens to a dream deferred? Does it shrivel up like a raisin in the sun? Or does it explode?

Luckily for me, it did neither. After spending some quality time in (ahem) therapy, I correctly deduced that doing doctoral work in English was just an attempt to prove to the world that I am a super-smarty pants. Plus, as I have stated, my obsessions usually only last 2-5 years, so I reasoned that by the time I finished my degree the literature obsession would be dwindling anyway. More importantly, the world doesn't give a fart if I recite Donne or I recite Britney Spears lyrics.  In retrospect, this realization--that no one gives a rat's ass if I'm a smarty pants except for me--was pretty big as realizations go.

So, in short, I did NOT spend the next five years in poverty studying the nineteenth century novel, but rather I spent it.....reproducing.

Exhibit A:

Jordan Rebecca. 8/01

Exhibit B: Noah Shepard 10/03

Exhibit C:
Lara Caroline 6/05

To be perfectly frank, not much else happened during these years. We bought a house. I kept teaching. Andy finished his degree and began to teach/work at Harvard.  We got older.
A few photos of the pregnancy years:

New Year's 2002. Jordan, Maria, me, Shelty, and Andy at a Portland Pirates game (hockey).

At Heidi's house summer 2003: me, Jordan, Maria, Alina. Two months shy of giving birth to our sons...

Early summer 2004. Vacation in Acadia (maine) with Alina and family: Maria, Shelty, Andy, Noah (in the carrier), me, Jordan.

Noah and Ethan on the beach, 2004.Yum, sand. Have you ever changed a diaper with sand-laden poop?

Easter 2005. Due in two months with Lara.

Christmas 2005. Lara is six months.

at Julie's with my high school friends--summer 2006. on bench, Ange (with Nick), me Alina, standing, Julie, Heidi

All of our kids: from back Nick (ange), Cam (ange), Lauren (heidi), on bench Charlie (julie), Jordan (me), Amy (heidi), Maria (alina), on ground Tommy (ange), Dara (alina), Lara (me), Noah (me). 

Here is a little video that captures my life at this time. It's not riveting, but it is revealing. It's too long--you may want to forward past Jordan's Happy and You Know It. It gets funnier at the end of the clip when Lara spits up and Minna licks it off by licking lara's lips. grossssss. And it happened every day--actually multiple times a day.

Onward. After Lara was born I developed an obsession with running. This was at first because I was desperate to get my body back. Three full term pregnancies in four years tends to make one a little nuts with desire to own one's own body again.

At a birthday party I made friends with a fellow mommy and runner, Jen. Jen told me she ran with a group, and gave me the email address the leader of that pack, Michael. Michael brought me into the group (still his MO--welcoming people into our group!) and introduced me to Melissa and others... all good friends now.

After I began running with my new peeps, I became even more obsessed with running--and decided that having three kids under the age of four while still nursing and while working full time was no reason not to train for a marathon. And just running a marathon wasn't good enough. I wanted to qualify for Boston. Just qualifying for Boston wasn't good enough either. I wanted to make the qualifying standard for women under 35 (3:40), even though I was at this point 36.

The group began training for the Clarence de Mar marathon in the spring of 2006.

I raced all summer, and then raced some more, and in September I crushed that damn marathon:

At this point we decided to make our group into a club. We became the Greater Norwood Running Club and I was our first president.  I was obsessed with running, our club, and RACING. We created a Grand Prix, and I raced every one of the twelve races in the next year, and more, and won the damn thing. I ran Boston that spring and dropped my time to a 3:31.

And then....
Ange, with whom I had been racing all summer, told me she had done a TRIATHLON and that she had decided to sign up for a half Ironman.
That sounded cool.
Really cool.
So I signed up too.
I didn't even own a flipping bike.
 The kids were growing, I was working, Andy got a new job in finance (which pretty much ended our affair with all things in academia, fyi. Poor and overly educated is just no way to go through life, especially when your wife has decided she now wants to become a TRIATHLETE.)

Andy got me a road bike... (later he would regret encouraging this new triathlon obsession, btw....) Then I got a plan to train for that sucker (Timberman) from Jesse, a coach who came highly recommended by a good friend of mine. At this point, Jesse was just getting moving in terms of creating his coaching business. Now his business boasts five coaches (soon to be six, I think) and is a major force in this area. While I'm on the topic of Jesse, he just wrote a really good post on body composition tools. Check it out.

Okay. You know the rest... I competed in Timberman 70.3 in August of 2007 with Ange. We both smoked it. Ange got a 5:19, and I got a 5:25. I began this blog just before Timberman. 

So that's my brief synopsis of 2000-2009. Obviously I totally skimmed over important details and failed to apply analysis as to how I matured  (or didn't mature).. etc and so on.

Not today.

Happy New Year!~