Friday, April 30, 2010

Yesterday Andy took off work so we could ride together. I've been lonely on my long rides, and I was looking forward to company in a big way. I also knew that with Andy there I could draft some, and so I could likely go longer than I usually do. We decided on 125. I've never gone that far. I wanted to see what would happen.

We had planned to go west and then south, enter Connecticut, cut over to Rhode Island, and then head north and east to come home. It wasn't going to be a fast day. We just wanted to explore new road and get in some miles. What could be better?

I should have known.

Andy and I have a checkered past in terms of riding together. Last year we took a day to go to central MA and circumnavigate the Quabbin Reservoir.  Within two hours Andy had gotten two flats and we were out of 700 tubes. We then got separated. I got lost in some neighborhood on top of a mountain. It was scorching hot (even though it was mid-April), and I was alone and had run out of fluid.  Meanwhile, Andy developed a raging fever and could barely ride he was so dizzy and sick,  and then, as he tried to make it back to the car, he blew out his rear tire. When I found him he was walking his bike--still 20 miles away from the car.

Yeah. That ride didn't go so well.

So maybe I should've guessed that the day wouldn't be a perfect one. But how could things go so terribly wrong two years in a row? (enter ominous music.)

The plan was that I would pull for the majority of the day. Andy hasn't ridden a ton in the last few months, and I have, and I wanted us to be able to complete the ride together. I knew he would be on fire for the first few hours, but I didn't want him to crash and burn when we were in say, Rhode Island. I'm so fit and all, there would be no way that I would crash and burn. Not me.

We started off. I was grouchy. My legs felt like lead. Andy was antsy. He was fired up and ready to go.  I was pulling. Andy was so close to my back wheel that he'd occasionally have to slip up next to me so he wouldn't clip it. He was like a little boy so eager he couldn't contain himself. Conversely, I was feeling positively arthritic, and as you might imagine, I wanted to fucking kill him.

I muttered, "I knew it."
He muttered back, "Okay, Cranky. Feeling a little bitchy are we?"

This was less than five minutes into the ride. It was going to be A GREAT DAY.

This continued for some time. I was going slowly. Andy was trying to hold back.  As I pulled I could feel his energy sucking the life out of me drop by drop. He was like a viper, and I was being drained of my life force. Finally I asked him to PLEASE PLEASE just go ahead of me. Just go. Go and wait for me at that Dunkin Donuts at the corner of 140 and 135. Just go. 

He'd had enough of my inner bitch and my excruciating pace. He took off. As he rode into the distance I fantasized about shooting him with a BB gun in his little, energetic ass.

When I got the Dunkin Donuts a half hour later he was no where to be seen. 
In all fairness I didn't look very hard. I slowed, didn't see his bike, and I assumed he had just kept going. So I went on. 

You need to understand something about Andy. If I told him to wait for me at Dunkin Donuts, he would wait there until the next day if he had to. Because he's like that. He does what he says he's going to do.
It's me that doesn't. 
Think I wasn't really really feeling bitchy?
Think again.

Twenty minutes later I stopped and called him. Where are you? I asked an irritated voice.
Where the fuck do you think I am? he retorted. 

I waited for him to catch up. As I waited, I felt very sorry for myself. I was slow. I was tired. Andy, who was not in shape at all, was kicking my ass. I was feeling petty and mean.  It was cold. It was windy. I could feel a cramp coming on, signaling that my period's arrival was a step beyond imminent. But most of all--I knew, I knew very well--that there was no way I was going to ride for 125 miles today. And that made me want to cry. 

Andy arrived. He didn't tell me I was evil. He just said, "You know if I said I'd be at Dunkin Donuts, I would be at Dunkin Donuts."  A little tear welled up in my eye. 
We rode on. 
And then he flatted.

You know how in the first moments after you flat you still think everything's okay? It's only when you start the process of changing the tire that you realize the situation might be dicey. If you fuck up changing it, you only have one extra tube and one extra co2 cartridge, after all. Because I ride 650s and Andy rides 700s it's not like we can share tubes, either. 

The problem turned out not to be the tube, and not to be the co2. The problem was in the head that delivered the co2. It blew up when Andy begin to fill the tire. I mean it--it literally blew up. Little pieces of metal went flying and everything. So I gave him my head. But on mine, the red button that releases the co2 was jammed shut. Why? Who knows. Too many hours unused and on the road? He tried to use it anyway. Co2 #2 -- gone. 
I had two more cartridges, but it didn't matter. We had no way of getting the co2 into the tube.

We used the iPhone to find a bike shop. There was one in South Grafton about 5 miles away, and I took off, leaving Andy shivering on the side of the road. The wind had come up big time and it really was cold. 

After a lot of stopping and rechecking the iPhone for directions, I found the little shop. The guy there was practically giddy that he had a customer. He was helpful. More than helpful. Do you want some coffee to warm up? Do you need to borrow my truck? (He really offered this... I kid you not. People are very trusting and nice, I find, when you get way outside of the city and into those old mill towns.) I assured him I was okay. I just needed a few tubes, a few heads, a few cartridges, and I'd be on my way. Do you want a donut? I have some donuts.... Do you need me to ride my truck behind you? Do you want a Pop-Tart? I have some Pop-Tarts....

It took awhile to get out of there.

By the time I got back to Andy he was basically an ice cube, chattering and shivering under a tree. The wind swirled around him in angry gusts. He frowned as he showed me how the wind had knocked his TT bike to the ground, giving it its first little nick. He shook as he changed the flat. And then finally, we were on our way.

But instead of moving more toward the west, we turned east to go home. 

We stopped at that Dunkin Donuts, so Andy could get a warm drink to warm him up, and so I could sulk and complain about how tired I was. While there I cried. 
I sucked. sob sob. I would never ride well at CDA. I was so slow, my bike split at IMFL 70.3 would be pathetic--an embarrassment. etc. etc. etc. 
Andy's eyes took on a faintly glazed look as he nodded at me. Yes, Mary. No, Mary. You'll be fine, Mary. We just need to get home, Mary. 

The wind on the way home was, in a word, brutal. Usually I have little conversations with the wind, who I simply can't help but personify. Oh, you're being fickle today, huh? Feeling a little capricious today, Miss Wind, are we? Words like fickle or capricious didn't cover it today, though. The wind was being downright pissy and mean. It was no lady. It was like a linebacker drunk at a keg party. It was like Stallone in Rambo. It was like Zeus on Coke. It fucking sucked. I got pushed and swatted, pulled back, knocked around. I was like a toy in that wind. 

We arrived home having done 80 miles. Andy got the kids as I sat comatose and depressed on the couch. He made the kids' lunches for the next day. (ummm. that NEVER happens.) He went to Landry's Bike Shop, and came home with a new bike shirt for me--a Pearl Izumi in powder blue with big pockets in the back. He got us burritos from Chipotle and after we put the kids to bed, he put on a DVR'd episode of House. 

I know I didn't deserve any of that. 

Meanwhile, Jen gave me the you need to recover talk. Usually I fight that talk, but not this time. 
Mandatory two days off. Why does that always feel like a punishment? 
Luckily, I feel better already, and I know, I just KNOW I'll be singing the FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT song in just a few short days. 


Monday, April 26, 2010

I'm Sorry if You Haven't.

Occasionally someone rises from evening meal, 
Goes outside, and goes and goes, and goes....
Because somewhere in the East a sanctuary stands.

And his children lament as though he had died.

And another, who dies within his house,
Remains there, remains amid dishes and glasses,
So that his children must enter the world
In search of that sanctuary, which he forgot.

- Rilke 

I had somewhat of a breakthrough ride last week. It wasn't a physical breakthrough, but a mental one. If you remember a few weeks back I was lamenting the fact that I get to mile 75 in a ride and I just want to stop. I'm sick of it, I'm cold, I'm hot, I'm hungry, my ass hurts, I'm lonely etc. and so on.

I needed a ride on which I didn't notice I was at mile 75. I needed to feel in a good mood with 30 miles to go. I needed to enjoy even the unenjoyables of biking, and I was beginning to doubt I ever would.

So last week I decided that this week my long ride would be different. I'd ride 110 miles, and my second half would be faster than my first. I would be happy at mile 75 and looking forward to working it for the next 35. I would not sulk. I would relish the fact that I can ride all day on a Thursday, alone, on my awesome bike and on the beautiful hills of the land far west of the city.

And I did it.

I created a route that was 50% new. That was the first ticket. I rode through old mill towns I had never heard of before, I got super close to the border of Rhode Island, I brought a few new types of snacks, and I tested out new pee stops. For those of you in this area who are looking for good rides, this is what I did:

Mary's cool Route west of the City

I did hit bad patches of road, and the blackflies did nearly eat me alive when I stopped to eat or pee, but mostly I was -- happy. The longer I went still feeling in a good mood, the happier I got. I DO like this! I DO like seeing new things from astride Mrs. Z! I DO think it's cool that while the rest of the world is sitting, I am moving moving moving.

One thing I thought was interesting was that I saw NOT ONE other biker the whole day. When I mentioned this to Andy he pointed out that very few people were privileged enough to spend a workday riding their spiffy TT bike through old mill towns.


What really sucks is working hard to get through an aspect of something that has been a struggle for you, and then getting reminded that you are the only one who is privileged enough to even take on that struggle. You think that's a struggle, Mary? You are luckier than 99.9% of the world and you want to view it as an achievement that you enjoyed yourself on your ride? Excuse my while I go vomit.

I felt bad for a moment. And then I turned off the guilt-meter and turned on the anger jets. Full steam ahead!  Poor Andy. 
He wasn't wrong, --he really wasn't wrong at all, and he hadn't said this in a mean-spirited way. It was just a simple truth. Who CAN ride all day on Thursday? And of those who can, who wants to?  Not many. But I had already been set on fire.  Watch out! (sorry, Andy! xoxoxo)   

And I haven't been able to stop thinking about it--and my guilt/anger. Because here's the thing:

I am lucky and I am privileged. And I know it.

But I have taken that luck and privilege, and I've tried to make something of it, because even when one is lucky and privileged (maybe even especially when one is) she still risks staying home with the dishes and glasses if she doesn't fight. She risks forgetting to seek the sanctuary, perhaps even believing that the sanctuary has been handed to her, so why should she search for it anyway?

But the sanctuary of luck and privilege is a false sanctuary, and I know that, and I'm looking for my own real one. This is my way of searching for it--of leaving to find it. Pardon me for leaving to find it. Pardon me for seeking the life I want to live. Pardon me for squirming until I found a way to seek it. It was triathlon or taking off for a different sanctuary,and in that light, triathlon doesn't look so bad.

I don't want my children limited by my sad example. I want them to witness what it looks like not to forget to seek.  Forget you if you  think my way of seeking is shallow, or privileged, or selfish, or not worthy of respect. I woke up to the nothingness which haunts all of us, and I had to do something. I'm sorry if you haven't.

The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of the earth and the galaxy of the stars, but that in this prison we can fashion images of ourselves sufficiently powerful to deny our nothingness. -Andre Malraux

Thursday, April 22, 2010


First things first. I'm giving an hour-long seminar at LuLu Lemon at Legacy Place on Sunday, May 23rd, 6 pm, called Your First Triathlon. Wanna come? Or how about, if you live close to Dedham, MA, COME-- even if you've done like 50 triathlons, or even if you don't want to ever do a triathlon--COME. Thanks. I'm also giving a series of seminars at Vanderbilt Club in Norwood, but the LuLu one is free. Plus I think there will be snacks at LuLu. Snacks are good.  Also, being in LuLu is good, and also listening to me is good, because I can be funny. Usually.


Let's play What's on Mary's mind.

*Being liked vs. not giving a rat's ass whether I am liked.*

Who I am: a person concerned with being liked.
Who I want to be: a person who doesn't give a rat's ass whether I am liked.

Here is the funny thing. I want to be liked even by those people who I don't like. What is UP with that? 
The truth is I like most people. I find people interesting, even if they are shady characters (I actually really like shady characters), or somewhat boring, or somewhat wacky or somewhat geeky, or somewhat arrogant etc and so on. I am sometimes bothered by people who appear not to be interested in me in any way, but mostly I like people, and simply want to work hard to get them to like me back.  This particular characteristic makes  me a 2 on the Ennegram Personality Assessment. It makes me an ENFJ on the Myers Briggs PersonalityTest. It makes me a fucking chameleon faker flatterer kiss ass lap dog in real life. 

Occasionally I become disgusted with myself as a fucking chameleon faker flatterer kiss ass lap dog, or I get incensed at some slight or injustice or (what I perceive to be) wrong-headed, conceited thinking, and I become a pit bull brutally honest ice queen strident bitch. 

This is a problem. It makes me sort of.... psycho--the nice girl who has an inner bitch that attacks without warning or reason.

The real problem for me comes after my inner strident bitch lashes out. Within moments I begin panicking. I return to my fucking chameleon faker flatterer kiss ass lap dog way of being, and then I begin to worry that I am no longer liked by the person who I revealed my pit bull brutally honest ice queen strident bitch way of being to.Even if I really don't like that person.

I am not writing this just to confess that I am somewhat psycho. Of course, I do relish being confessional. It's not hard for me, and it's actually one of the mechanisms I use to get you to like me.  Really I write this because I do want you to like me, but I'm working on not caring if you do. I write this because even though I feel like a sixth grader, worrying that the cool kids are talking about me and how I am not cool, I am not a sixth grader, and I need to remind myself that I don't care if you like me at all.  Because

I am an adult-- an almost 40 year-old-adult. I have a husband and a home and several degrees, and I've given birth three times to kids who still want to snuggle with me. I am an All-American triathlete in my AG, I am a (new--but pretty good, I'd say) coach. 
I was a very good middle school teacher at a very prominent and strong school. 
I can drive a stick shift. 
I can still play parts of Fur Elise and Minuet in B on the piano.
If you've read something, I've probably read it, too.
I can make people laugh. 
And I have a few very, very good friends--some of whom I have had since I was not yet 10 years old. 

So I am strong and competent. Really--I am. And I don't need you to like me, even if I hope you still do.

This is random, I know.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Boston Marathon

One great thing about living in Boston is having access each year to watching (or running) the Boston Marathon.

I took the kidlets to mile 15.5 yesterday to watch the race. I had nineteen friends/athletes/fellow bloggers/running-club mates to cheer on. At mile 15.5 there is a massive playground, so it is the perfect place to spectate if you are a parent with kids who only like watching a race for five minutes before they are thoroughly bored and ready to move on. Mile 15.5 also comes on a downhill, about a mile and a half before the hills start. Runners usually look fresh at this point--few are walking and most (most) look happy. It's a great place to cheer. Some people love spectating at the hills, because that is where the runners really need cheering. The hills aren't that difficult, but they do come at a bad point in the race (17-20). I like seeing the runners fresh and happy.  It breaks my heart to see people struggling, even though I know I struggle all the time when racing, and it's not something to be SAD about it, it's something to honor. It's just that dreams are broken on those hills. I don't like seeing that.

I was prepared to spectate. I had my iPhone to track runners and my camera--and for the kids a giant bag full of snacks, drinks, extra coats, and blankets to sit on should they get tired of playing. My planning paid off. I cheered for three hours and they didn't want to leave when I told them it was time to go.

This was their day:
Lara, Noah (Stormtrooper), Jordan. Jordan is convinced it's summer. She insisted on that outfit even though it was barely 60 degrees. Kids are weird.

Even though I had my camera I didn't take one picture of the runners. What is wrong with me! Actually, my excuse is that I was scanning the runners so carefully to find my people I couldn't focus on taking pictures. As is I only saw about one third of the people I wanted to see. I first saw my friend Petra's huband, Mike, who despite a tough winter of being sick and have a bum foot, went 2:50 (and he's in his mid-late 40s!). He is a stud. I then saw my friend Dave, and then a Maine friend, Jeanne (3:15 and 7th in her AG!) then one of my athletes, Rose! Rose looked incredibly strong and was RIGHT on pace. In the end her last miles slowed her slightly, and she just missed a PR, but re-qualified by 15 minutes just the same. In the time between Dave and Rose I missed a ton of people. I clearly need more spectating practice.  My friend Paul went by on his way to a sub 3:00. Another studly performance... My friend Petra CRUSHED it and PR'd by 10 minutes, running a 3:10. She is coached by her husband, and clearly this has worked for her! My teammate Don sped by too. He ended up running at 3:15--and he is 60! Amazing.  I also missed my athlete Maria, who ran a 3:24, PRing by 5 minutes. Awesome performance. I was so thrilled! Teammates Tom, Keith and Mike F also ran by at some point. I think Tom was at 3:25 (re-qualifier!), Keith did a 3:22 (ditto!) and Mike a 3:29. Ana-Maria also ran by and I missed her. She had a rough race given a totally nasty toe problem. Ugly--but she still PR'd and re-qualified! Another David (a GNRC teammate) ran by--and I missed him too. He ran a 3:28, which is a PR for that course and also a re-qualifier. Blogger friends Meg and Adrienne also kicked ass, both finishing in about 3:35!

I am shaking my head at myself. I've known idea how I could've missed so many people given my total focus on the race. Annoying.

I saw my teammate Tracey, who despite having a hammy injury all winter ran a 3:40 and re-qualified. I then saw my teammate Mike, happily ambling along. He runs Boston faithfully every year, and just looks happy every time he does it.  I then saw Kristina, who stopped and gave me a hug! I was so excited. She looked adorable with her little pigtails and MVS shirt. She ran sub 4 despite being injured all winter. Impressive. I missed my friend and teammate Melissa, too. Boo! I think she finished in 4:15? My teammate, John, another missed, finished in sub 4.

Okay, I know that was a long boring list, but I wanted to make sure I mentioned everyone. The day was perfect: sunny with a few clouds and cool. I had my usual Boston envy. This is the third year in a row I've missed it because of "my important" summer races. I am running it next year, no matter WHAT is on my summer agenda. Because of BayState last fall I'm qualified and ready to go. !

It's an incredible race. It's my hometown race.

As an extra bonus of skimming this post, I have a very exciting link to the Ange and Mary show! We are still working on our coaching website, and I made a photo album of us racing over the years. There are also shots of a few of our athletes sprinkled throughout. I love it--but that would probably be because I am just a little overly self-involved. ha! Just click here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Going Long

How do you know if you are ready to go long? You don't. You commit, train and pray. -Friel and Byrn, Going Long.

The other day a friend reminded me it's only 11 weeks until IM CDA. Actually, now it's 10 weeks.

Sometimes 10 weeks seems like a very long time.
Today is does not.

I had this idea that I would be like steel on the bike before the race. I would do so many long, long rides that I wouldn't even FEEL 112 miles. It would just be a little warm-up (albeit one that takes me 6 hours). My thinking is that I won't be able to run that marathon if I am as f-uped up as I was after the bike at IMLP, so the bike simply cannot fuck me up at IM CDA. I must rule the bike. If I rule the bike, I can also rule the run.

Yep. Easier said than done.

Jen has been giving me long rides. At this point I've done four centuries +. Hell, I've done two centuries in the last week and a half. I no longer balk when I see a century on the plan. I know I can do it. I know I can do it alone. I know I can run for 4 miles when I finish it. I know it's simply not that big a deal.

Except it is a big deal. At about 4 hours in, it becomes a very big deal every time. I have seen improvement. It used to be a big deal when I hit 3:30. Before that it was a big deal once I hit 3 hours.

What do I mean by a big deal? It becomes a big deal for me the minute I stop thinking about just riding, and instead start thinking about how much I hate riding.
I love riding for about two hours. Riding is okay from about two-four hours. However, (at this point) I simply don't like it after about four hours. I simply want to get the fuck off my bike. I know I've hit the I hate this point when I can't stop the negative thoughts from flowing.

Oh My God, I still have 2 and 1/2 more hours.
Oh My God, I am pathetically slow.
Oh My God, I just want to stop and chill.
And I know it's gotten really bad when I start cursing cars and stoplights--out loud.
And I know I'm at my limit when I start screaming Fucking Fuck! at the top of my lungs when I get jolted by hitting a scrap of bad road.

When I was in Tucson, Jen (or maybe it was Jerome--I can't remember) told me that I probably wasn't fueling properly if when I get to mile 75 I don't want to ride anymore. I'm not sure this is true. I eat a lot when riding. I drink a lot too. I think it's a more a mental thing. After riding that long I simply want to do something else--anything else. It is also physical. I don't want to ride anymore when even riding in zone 2 feels hard and I start fantasizing about getting off the bike and massaging my aching ass.

I did a century on Thursday. I had a meeting at LuLu Lemon before my ride which was very fun. I had been asked to attend a design meeting with one of their designers from Vancouver. The woman designer looked a bit like Kate Moss, but cute as opposed to sultry. She basically wanted to get our feedback on the the yoga/running/tri scene in Boston, and have us give her feedback on products. I talked a lot. I always do.

But I'm off topic.

My point is that I couldn't start my ride until 11 am. Andy had agreed to come home early to get the kids off the bus, because there was no way I would be home before 5:30 p.m.
As always, the first hours of my ride were  fine. I took it out slowly, I didn't stress about my slow speed or my lackluster heart-rate. I knew my job was to work the second half harder than the first. It was sunny and warm, and the first flowers of spring were blooming. All good.
I turned to head home at 52 miles. I was in Grafton--a long way from home.  I was excited to start the second half. I felt strong and ready to kill it.
And then the temperature dropped. It was sudden and dramatic. It went from being in the low 60s to the mid 40s. The wind picked up and was swirling all over the place. No matter what direction I rode, the wind was in my face--and it was pissed. It really just wanted to test me--to fuck me up. (The wind and I have battled this week, huh?) The weather change was partly just bad luck. It was also predictable, though, and here's where I am at fault. It's April in New England. It doesn't stay warm past 3:00 pm. It just doesn't. Add to this that at about 4:00 pm commuter traffic picks up. I shouldn't have been out that late, and if I was planning on being out that late, I should've brought the gear to deal with it. And I didn't.
And. It. Sucked.

It sucked for the next 51 miles. I was so cold I couldn't get my hands to shift. I was so cold my muscles in my legs (I was in shorts) were like frozen lumps that refused to fire. I was so cold that I lost complete feeling not only in my feet, but also my hands, wrists, ankles. Cars were everywhere, leaning in close and honking. I felt enormously ENORMOUSLY sorry for myself.

My thinking went something like:

I fucking hate this. This sucks.
It's a privilege, Mary! You could be home doing laundry! 
Why do I do this? My ass is killing me and I'm lonely.
You love this, Mary! The more you talk shit in your head, the more unhappy you will get. 
Whatever. You hate riding. Why do you try to convince yourself you love it when it just fucking sucks!
It doesn't suck. You love this. You're just cold and tired and your heart rate is low. Jen will see this file. Pick up the pace! Move it!
Shut up! I'm doing the best I can!

etc. and so on.

"A deep love of cycling is a fundamental requirement for successful long-distance racing." Friel and  Byrn, Going Long.

Can you cow yourself into a deep love of cycling?
Actually, I think you can. But I'm not there yet.

What I know--quite deeply, actually--is that I need to have that deep love before things come together for me in IM racing. I need to master the bike at IM, but before I can master it, I have to love it like I love running. I have to love it even when I hate it.  I have to love it even when it totally sucks.

I'm not there yet. But I will get there. I need to get there.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Warning: This is more of  a Chick Post.

Here is a little picture of me finishing Cohasset.
This is not the best photo of me. Why then, would I post it? 
Excellent question. Because I need to put this discussion on the table:

What the FUCK happens to your boobs when you stop nursing, turn forty, and get skinny? God Damn it! It's enough to make me want to go eat a vat of Twinkies! I know the Twinkies would go to my belly for the most part, but they would also go to the boobs. I just want a little.... Would a little extra blubber really make me that much slower? 

Most of the time it's easy to pretend that I don't actually have sagging mosquito bites for boobs.Victoria's Secret and other companies make money by appealing to a woman's vanity (or a man's fantasy--wasn't Victoria's Secret actually founded by a man?) Anyway, they have created bras that give you two cup sizes and a lift--no surgery required. 

But you can't wear one of those bras when racing. 

Actually, when in LuLu Lemon the other day I did notice they have begun to sell running/workout bras with padding. They just need to add the lift part and we ex-nursing mamas will be lining up out front of their stores.

I know I shouldn't care. It's just that no matter what you do--at forty only the VERY LUCKIEST of women can have a completely smoking body while also avoiding surgery--and most of those women, I'd venture, did NOT have children. I weigh less than I did in high school, and on top of that I am in way (way) better shape. Still, there is not doubt my body was more appealing and delicious at that age than now. Youth smooths over imperfections. Age highlights them. 

Usually I love my body. It's lean. It's strong. My ass looks relatively tight in jeans. My problem comes when I view pictures like this one. There is not avoiding the truth then. I remember at my last gyno appointment my long-time ob/gyn, Swati, suggested I maybe just add a little saline to them... In her thick Indian accent she suggested innocently, "Just to add a little life to them, Mary. Just a little. They are sad now." 

It doesn't get any more stark than that, eh?

What is the point of all of this?
Sigh. There is none. I have a history of discontent with my boobs. I should just make peace with them. They have been useful, I admit, in the case of both attracting boys (when I was a teen) and when I was an adult (nourishing babies). I should cut them some slack. They have done their job.
And no, implants aren't a possibility. They are just so obvious... and besides that, the irony in that is way too great. I wish all of you men out there, though, would stop drooling over implanted breasts. It would make it so much easier for we still real women to deal.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Cohasset 10K Race Report

When I put this race on the calendar Jen didn't say anything. She's good that way. She didn't say, for example, Um HELLO, dumb ass! You are training for IM and you will be running on lead legs, my Dear! She also didn't refuse me. She didn't say, for example,  NO, dumb ass! You are NOT running a 10K after weeks of big hours! She knows better than to say no... She knows that if I want to run a 10k, I will likely do it, even if she STRONGLY advises against it. She doesn't waste her breath. I love her for this.

Instead, she let me run it. She didn't rest me, she didn't coddle me. You wanna 10K? Okay, sister, you go for it! I believe her final words to me, in my log, where simply--Good Luck. 
None of the usual-- You can do it! or , Kill it, Mary! 
Just Good Luck. Period.
She didn't even tell me she knew it would be ugly--at least she didn't say that until AFTER I had completed the race. I appreciated that, too. I knew it would be ugly anyway. I did know that.

I knew this race was hilly. I also knew that a big part of it ran along the coast, which even on a day without wind would make it windy. Yesterday, unfortunately, was a day of strong winds, even on the mainland. Off the coast those winds were even stronger. It was kind of a nightmare, actually, despite the bright sun and beautiful views.  There were moments I felt that I was running in place.

The first mile the wind was at our backs, and it was more a slight downhill than up. I felt pretty light and hopeful. I ran a 6:32. A little faster than I had planned, but only by 7 seconds. We then took a turn which put us INTO the wind.
I was no longer light or hopeful. I immediately and definitively slowed. I am pretty good with hills, but you know? I really suck in the wind. I think it's because the wind seems like a live thing to me--like a being, trying to hold me back. When it's stronger than me, when it actually pushes me back, I feel like I'm losing to a higher power. A hill is dead--just pavement atop earth. It doesn't vary in its power. The wind, though, can lighten up--and then, with a big laugh, blast you and push you back as if to say, Take that!

That's what it did to me yesterday. It laughed at me and said, Take that!

Andy ran this race too, and he did well, and he didn't even "notice" the wind.
Really? You didn't notice it?
Apparently he did notice that he slowed considerably in the second and third miles, but he didn't notice that it was the wind that was causing it.
Again, humph.

Well, anyway. I noticed it!
At mile 3.5 we turned inland, and out of the wind. That's when the hills came. Up. rest for five seconds. Up. rest for five seconds. UP UP UP. rest for five seconds.
Was it my dead legs from the training? Did I just suck? Was this a really, really hard course and it wasn't me at all?

I passed a lot of people on the hills, despite my slow pace. It was pretty clear it wasn't just me. This WAS a tough race. Finally the hills abated a bit, and the final mile was run on rolling, but not HILLY terrain. The wind was at our backs again, and I was able to recover a bit.

But I hurt. Boy, did I hurt. What was funny is that it wasn't that I was sucking wind and it wasn't that my muscles were burning. I just hurt. I just really wanted it to end.Why had I done this? What was I proving?
Don't you hate it when you think like that during a race? Ahhh well. You can't be a spitfire for all of them. Yesterday the pissy Mary--the one who really doesn't want to hurt--had her say.

Andy was at the finish line waiting for me. I sort of collapsed into him.
You were tenth overall! he said.
Whattt????? Was he shitting me? I really thought he could be kidding. Maybe even mocking me?  There were 800 women in this race! 10th? With that performance?

Turns out he was wrong. I was 12th. And 5th AG (30-39). BUT STILL. Discovering how I placed was a relief. I clearly, clearly wasn't the only person who had experienced the race as a tough one. To place 5th out of 300 in one's AG with BARELY a sub 44? Not only that, the two women ahead of me in AG were within 10 and 15 seconds respectively... The fastest woman of the day only ran a 41 and change. The fastest man was only a 35, and the number two man was a high 36! Yep. It was a tough day.

Andy, as usual, felt he could've run better. He got a 37+. He was fifth overall out of 1500 runners, and 1st AG.
But he could've done better... 
I was a little bitter. But mostly just proud.

Andy won flowers and a few others things. He gave me the flowers to carry so I looked like I had won AG. :) Haha! Not me! Still, I carried them around nonchalantly. Yep. NO big deal. I'm just the AG winner today! Little ol' me!

The funny thing is that I am not sore today. Is it that when you are so thick in training you simply can't get your speed legs to fire, and so you can't get yourself sore? I wonder....

I had a good time yesterday, despite the lead legs and the slow time. It's the first time I haven't PR'd this season, which makes me a tad sad, but not really. I love to get out there and race. The course, though WINDY, was really gorgeous. Too bad I was in too much pain to appreciate it...

And now... I'm off to ride my bike. Gotta love IM. No rest for the weary.
And Thank you, God, for that. I love what I do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Selfishness and Sacrifice and I Feel Like Ranting

Triathlon is both selfish and involves sacrifice.

Does that seem oxymoronic to you?
Triathlon as  selfish sacrifice or sacrificial selfishness?

Definitions to start us off:

Main Entry: self·ish
Pronunciation: \ˈsel-fish\
Function: adjective
Date: 1640
1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
2 : arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others

Date: 13th century
1 : an act of offering to a deity something precious; especially : the killing of a victim on an altar
2 : something offered in sacrifice
3 a : destruction or surrender of something for the sake of something else b : something given up or lost s made by parents>
4 : loss
 (both definitions taken from our buddy Webster.)

Upon looking at definitions the two words seem less oxymoronic. In order to excel in triathlon one must be concerned with the self to an excessive degree; he must seek advantage, and sometimes, maybe even often, he must disregard others to do so.  Conversely, (or maybe not) to sacrifice is to surrender something for the sake of something else. The something else, in this case, is getting good at triathlon--which really, let's be frank here, benefits no one except the self--so really the triathlete is sacrificing certain things (time with family, time devoted to work, a slice of pizza) for the self
However, the word sacrifice implies something good, something right, something altruistic. The word selfish implies -- well, selfishness. Which we know isn't good.... 
Case in point, you frequently hear coaches and athletes throw around the idea that excelling at triathlon involves sacrifice, but you will seldom hear the same folk saying that triathlon involves a great deal of selfishness--even though, as we just determined, selfishness and sacrifice for the benefit of the self are basically synonymous.
blah blah blah
Where am I going with this? 
I guess I am plain sick and fucking tired of the implication that I--and my fellow brethren, the triathletes--are selfish. I'm sick of it, but I'm equally sick of triathletes tooting their own horns by endlessly repeating that committing to triathlon involves sacrifice, when, ironically and somehow unbeknownst to them, that sacrifice is in service to none other than the self. 
I am a person very concerned with the self, or so I have been told. I have even been labeled narcissistic, which I think is a little mean-spirited and really goes too far, but perhaps does hold some truth. I fully acknowledge I have never thrived as a martyr or an altruist, and to some extent I have disdain for both types, which I hold, quite cynically, are often matyrish and altruistic in service to a need to feel self important and congratulatory.  In any case, I've embraced that I count, and that I better stand up for me and what I want, because hell, no one else will. 
I think what irks me about the accusation that triathlon is selfish, though, is not that I feel defensive on account of me. I AM selfish when it comes to things that feed my soul. I always have been--I admit it--I even kind of embrace it. What irks me, though, is that nearly everyone is selfish in some way--often in a major way--but they are not labeled as selfish. It is not selfish to garden, or to read obsessively, or to hike mountains (I'm thinking of my parents here. Love you both! :) or to play golf or do the crossword each day or to travel. Or maybe those things are considered selfish, but I'm just unaware? Is doing anything for the self-- selfish
My gut says yes, everything done for the self is selfish---especially.  if . you. are. a. mom.
Triathletes as a group are considered vain and selfish, but the triathlete Mom? She is the most vain and selfish. She works at her game endlessly, and sacrifices time baking cookies with her children to do so.  The mom getting coffee with her friend, or playing tennis or running for the school committee also sacrifices time with her wee ones to up her game--but that is not considered selfish. I haven't figured out why yet. 

 I am so very sick of being viewed as selfish (even if it is true to a great extent) but I'm equally tired of triathletes using the word sacrifice to honor their commitment to their sport. True, excelling in triathlon means that you need to get sleep (somehow that's a sacrifice, though I'm still confused as to how), to eat well (again????) and to spend endless time away from others perfecting our game. We sacrifice--yes--we sacrifice--but we sacrifice not in a selfless way, which is what, at least in my mind, the word sacrifice should be used in reference to. Hearing that  one must sacrifice to get good at triathlon makes me want to hurl... really. It's a sacrifice to devote endless hours to something you love? It's a sacrifice to insist you get sleep and eat good, healthy food? It's a sacrifice to spend money on triathlon equipment -- money that could be sent to the American Red Cross to or C.A.R.E? Come ON! 

I'm selfish. I sacrifice. 

As a mom, it's not okay to be the first, but perfectly acceptable to do the latter--even though in the end, they can be the exact same thing. 
If you're a mom, it's hard to get it right. 


Friday, April 2, 2010

Just a Ride

 I want to write about my ride on Thursday. But first,

I never reported on the THIRD day of camp. This will be a short synopsis. I may or may not write more about it later.

On the third day of camp I rode 118 miles with the other campers doing IM this year.

It took a really long time.

I wanted to push the pace so we would be done earlier. But I didn't. Or couldn't b/c I was with the group. This was probably best since at mile 107 (when the ride was supposed to finish) I was sort of - a  little-  kind of TOAST.

I loved the people I rode with. I wish I could ride with them every day. We were all sort of at the same place in terms of fitness and ability, which is so unusual. The only person in far superior shape than the rest of us was Jerome, and he's like--Jerome. He looked like he could've biked 5 MPH faster average for the ride, and then gone on to do another 100 to boot.

When we finished I was happy and hungry and ready for a big, tall beer. End of synopsis.

It rained at the beginning of this week, but on Thursday it was merely gray, not raining, and I had a 75 mile ride planned.

I'm boring. I nearly always do the same route. This is for two reasons.

1. I like this route.
 2. If I stray from this route I invariably get lost and spend a lot of my ride trying to figure out how to get home.  As previously mentioned, I'm directionally challenged.

Tucson's landscape is so vastly different than that of New England. It left me motivated to capture my landscape--what I experience every day I ride. Because I spend so much time by myself on this self-created route, I decided I wanted to photographically document my favorite parts it. I know you are VERY EXCITED. Try to stay calm.

This is a barn I see early on in my ride. I like the painted cow.

I see this coming up a hill about 50 minutes into my ride. Pretty great, huh?

This is Pee Stop #1. I usually pee, then check my mail on my iPhone as I eat a snack.

These two shots are of an abandoned barn. I've always wanted to go in and explore, but I'm too chicken. I need someone to go with me. Anyone? Anyone?

This is pee stop #2. It's picturesque. I've selected my pee stops carefully for both their capacity for privacy (low traffic, country roads) and beauty.

This is the view from pee stop #2.

This is another shot of the same lake at pee stop #2.

As I emerge from these country roads I go up a big hill and see: 

It always motivates me a bit to make it to my sign.

After a time on some main roads (yucko) I go back into country lane terrain. Remember I fell a few weeks ago in a big puddle? The big puddle is still there. This time I climbed (with my bike) on the stone wall to get around it, though. That sucker is DEEP.

But not as big as The Whitehall Reservoir in Hopkinton. After a few figure eights I end up circumnavigating this puppy.

Another shot of the Reservoir. It looks like dusk, but as I mentioned, it was just another gray day. I took this picture at like noon.

If you can't read the sign it says Boot Shop, 1788. How cool is that? I have peered in the windows. It's empty. This is in Upton, on the border of Hopedale.

And here we have Pee stop #3. This is my oldest and most favorite pee stop. I've peed here for many years now. It's actually quite lovely in the summer, even though I'm sure it's quite saturated with my pee.

On the way home I travel through Hopkinton Center, which is where the Boston Marathon begins! This gazebo is the epicenter of CRAZINESS on marathon morning.

And here is the famous starting line of the Boston Marathon. This part of my ride is fun, because it is downhill for quite a bit, and very fast.
I didn't document even one quarter of my ride on Thursday. But this is a start.

I spend a lot, a lot, a lot of time riding these roads. Just me and Mrs. Z and my snacks.