Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Now is the Time!

To set up coaching for 2011!

Don't you think it is annoying when people use their blogs to advertise?
Yep. I'm one of those annoying people today!

TriMoxie has grown tremendously this year. Ange and I have had the opportunity to coach incredible men and women in 2010--from beginners to IM finishers. We both still have a few spots available for committed triathletes or runners who want to up their game during the 2011 season.  (I  know, I know--that is such a cliched catch line, isn't it?)

Here are the biggest and best things about our coaching:
  • We both get what it is like to balance work, family and triathlon. We've been there. Actually, correction:  We ARE there.
  • We offer unlimited email contact. That is pretty amazing, really. We are so into our athletes that we chit-chat with them -- like all day.
  • We are both incredibly committed to what we do, and we take it upon ourselves to learn and know the latest in coaching, performance and training techniques.
  • We are both certified by USAT as triathlon coaches and by RRCA as run coaches. I'm also a certified WSI in swimming, and Ange has held that certification in the past.
  • Our pricing schedule is reasonable, and we offer swim analysis and gait analysis free to those people who we coach. Mary also provides monthly swim lessons for those athletes who are local to her. Video analysis for those who live far away is also used.
  • We are both super cool.
Visit our site at TriMoxie for more information. As you know, the fall is the best time to get such things as coaching in place. Don't let those precious winter months go to waste! Solid base training in the winter under the guidance of a qualified coach makes all the difference in next season's performances. But you already knew that.....

Okay. Onto new territory. What has Mary been doing since she went into the off-season?


I find it so hard to get organized when I suddenly have more free time than usual. I have made a LONG LONG list of things that should be done. But argh.
There are some super crappy things on that list like:
  • Clean the basement
  • Mop the floors
  • Separate the kids' summer from winter clothing so they will stop trying to wear shorts and tank tops with flip flops to school when it is 50 degrees out
  • Clean the rugs in the house
  • Wash the couch cushions on the couches
  • Clean the car
  • Take the dogs out 50 times a day and train them to be perfect little dogs

No WONDER I end up spending time at the computer instead, huh?

I go into the off -season and then become a maid. It sucks. It is so much more fun to train hard and know that I can clean the damn couch cushions during the off-season.

Oh, and I've been parenting, too.
Here Jordan and Lara are frosting cakes. I allowed them to make one cake each for Andy's birthday.

Come on now, were you ever allowed to use that much frosting or decorating sugars or make a whole cake--all your own-- for you dad's b-day? I didn't think so. What can I say--I'm just an uber parent in the off-season.
(who also really likes dessert.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

CELT Sprint Tri RR

Yesterday I was looking for pictures of the Dover Sprint Tri I competed in last week. Andy and the kids came to watch the race, and look what I found in the pictures taken by the photographer! It's Lara and Ernie at the race!

I also found a picture of me running the final stretch of the race. My TriBike kit was still dirty from racing the day before, so I wore Lululemon instead. I love that top! I do look slightly unhappy in the picture, though.

Finally, this picture has nothing to do with anything. It's Lara at her soccer game last week. I just think it is so freaking cute I had to post it.  Look at that little butt!

I started my rest last week. I literally did nothing leading up to this race. It didn't matter, though. I was as psyched to race this weekend as I always am. There's nothing like a nice little sprint!

CELT Sprint Tri is put on by the Cape Elizabeth Land Trust and one of the race directors is my friend, Ted. I never want to skip this race because I know how hard he works to make it a good one. And it was a great race this year!  Thanks, Ted!

Things have gone wrong for me in the past at CELT. In 2008 and 2009 it poured rain and it was freezing cold. In 2008 I competed against three women (Erin,Katie and Stacy) who were incredibly tough to beat. I managed to beat Stacy that year, but not the other two. I vowed I would get them in 2009. That did not happen! In 2009 I went off course on the run. I think this happened because I was slightly hypothermic from the rain and cold, but I can't be sure. It could have just been that I can be dumb when it comes to following directions. In any case, I lost to Katie again (EB didn't race) and also to my friend Stacy. I vowed that 2010 I would get everyone and win overall.

And I did!

Except that Erin, Stacy and Katie all didn't race! Oh boo!

Things did not go entirely right in this race either. On the bike I dropped my chain going downhill (how does one even do that???) and when I tried to correct it the chain got wedged between the cassette and the area where the down tube meets the sit tube. It was so stuck that I had to lay my bike sideways on the ground and yank at it to get it out. I lost time... I have no idea how much time. You know how it is in a race. I also got grease everywhere. My hands were a mess--and I had cut my finger when trying to release the chain, so blood mixed with the grease. Add to that a very snotty nose--and I was just a piece of work: bloody, greasy hands with a layer of snot atop them. Lovely!

Anyway. Back to the the beginning.

I dropped my puppies and kids with Alina before the race. (Andy was away this weekend.) Thanks, Alina! (Who else other than a very very very good best friend takes three kids and two puppies on so her friend can race--especially when she already has three kids of her own! Six kids and two puppies. No problem!)

I found my friend Mike when I arrived. We were racked next to each other, and we chit-chatted about competition. For him there were quite a few men who could give him a race--not the lease of which was Mike Caiazzo, a pro. For me? I knew that Katie and my friend Carrie were in relays. They are always big competition--competition I have yet to beat in any race. Erin, my next door neighbor growing up who is a sickly good cyclist,  was not there. My friend Stacy, though she had signed up (turns out she was just too end-of-season burned out to do the race), was not there. My friend Martha, though she had signed up, was not there (apparently she had raced the day before and placed second overall!). Erin CM (another Erin) and Ange were not there--already starting their end-of-season rest the week before after Lobsterman.

No one was there.

At first this made me happy. This was my race to have! But then it dawned on me... What fun would it be to win without my usual posse of women there with whom I can compete? What glory is there in winning a race in which there was no one TO race?

I looked around me. Sometimes there are randoms at these small events that show up--randoms that turn out to be great competition. I saw a slight Asian-American woman with a disc wheel on her Cervelo. Ahhhh... maybe she would give me a fight?

I had to believe I had competition. Otherwise I wouldn't race hard enough, and my goal was to PR this race. I decided that I would beat disc girl and also my guy rivals: Mike, (not Caiazzo) who I had beat by a mere 8 seconds at Lobsterman the week before) and Brian, the younger brother of a swimmer friend of mine in high school. Both of those men could make me work. They were now my targets.

The swim is in a pool. I was not looking forward to this. My swim has been rather sucky lately, mostly because I have not been swimming--at all. For previous late season races I made excuses: the current must have been different this year; the swim was long. etc. But the pool doesn't lie. It's like a track. You can't excuse your way out of a poor pool swim.

The relay heat was first, and I watched my friends Steve and Peter crush  their swims. (Peter's relay, which included Ted on the bike, went on to win. Steve's relay, which included his daughter, Leah, did awesome too. Leah is a trooper!)  After their heat,  it was a wait.

I was in wave 4 with Mike and Brian and Mike C (the pro). I decided to share a lane with Brian. I knew he was about my speed in the water. He would make me work it. Mike C was one lane over. I was curious to see how much he would beat me by. I didn't know where Mike M was.

We started and I was right: Brian and I were the same pace. Exactly. I mean exactly exactly. We swam stroke for stroke, turn for turn the entire freaking swim! This was nice--it did make me work. It was also a bit tough, though, since we were sharing a lane and going stroke for stroke. On the last length (425 yard swim) Brian let up a small bit. I swear he did this on purpose so I could get out first... So I beat him by 2 seconds out of the water, but I think he gave it to me. I also PR'd the swim. What was that about!? This was going to be a great race!

I got out of T1 faster than Brian and was on my way. I was hammering. I was averaging higher watts than I had all season long. I would not let Brian or Mike M catch me. I would not! There was a bit of wind, and I didn't actually feel very fresh or strong, but my power meter, like the pool, does not lie. I was having a great ride.

Until I dropped my chain. ARGHHH!
As my bike laid prostrate on the side of the road, me desperately trying to free her chain, me thick with panic and snot and grease, Brian zipped by. GOD DAMN! It was awhile longer before I finally got the chain released and re-positioned. I hopped back onto Mrs. Z and re-passed a bunch of guys who had passed me. But no Brian. He was gone.

When I entered T2 Brian was miraculously still there. Bummer about the chain! I saw you dropped it! he said kindly. And then he ran right outta there! Grrrrrr.....

I hammered after him. I could catch him! I stayed right on his butt. I was working hard. He didn't seem to be working at all.

The run is a 5k trail run. It goes up and down and twists and turns. It's actually a great trail, but definitely not a FAST trail. I worked as hard as I could to stay with Brian. He was my rabbit.--until, that is, we got within a 1/2 mile of finishing. Then he picked up the pace a bit, and I simply COULD NOT hold on. I didn't beat him to the line. He got me by about 30 seconds in the race, overall. Still, chasing him allowed me a 30 second PR on the run course! Thanks, Brian!

I ended up winning for women by 8 minutes. My swim, bike and run were all the fastest female splits of the day. That was nice--but again, I say, it would've been nicer had my posse been there. I ended up sixth overall for men and women, finishing just behind Brian, who was fifth. Mike M, who should have been in my wave, missed the swim start and began more than 10 minutes behind me in the following wave, which explained why I hadn't seen him in the race at all. Mike finished second overall to Mike Caiazzo, who beat everyone by whopping 11 minutes.
 This is the start of the run. Those little kids were so cute!

I had a great time--and a great day, despite the mechanical on the bike. I love that little race. I understand they might not have it next year--at least in late September when it has traditionally been held. That makes me sad. It has become a bit of a habit to race it.

And now---time to rest.
Thanks to Jen and Kurt  for their guidance, to TriBike Transport and to Lululemon for their sponsorship support, and to Andy and to all my friends for a great season.
Now it's time to get fat.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Give it To Me One More Time...

I got one more.
It needs to happen soon. I'm teetering on the verge of full break down. I just don't want to work out. Like at all. Like even for a half hour.

So this week I didn't fight it. I simply did not work out. It helped that I was also very tired from last weekend's dual-race effort. Until Thursday my legs actually sort of hurt to touch. Today I got on the bike for a bit and went for a short run, but it was lackluster. It was one of those Do I remember how to do this? type of workouts.  Of course I remember. Sometimes when it's been a few days, though, I start to actually believe I have forgotten how to ride a bike.

So.... I have ONE.LAST.RACE.
I am going to give it everything I've got. It could go smashingly. It could really suck. I'm just planning to make it hurt so bad I want to hurl. And then I'm going to get really lazy for a bit until my desire to work out longer than 10 minutes at a stretch returns. I'm not sure how long that will take. It might be awhile. I have hit a new and unprecedented plane of total burned-out-ed-ness.

I haven't worked out this week. (OKAY. Maybe I worked out a little bit, but not much.) Anyway. What did I do if I didn't work out?
An excellent question.
The answer is---I did very little.

Here are the things I did:
1. I took my puppies out about every hour to pee and shit. Despite this, their success rate is still only about 50%. I just noted that Hazel pissed right by my feet, for example. When the hell did she do that? She is a crafty one...
I have also been trying to train the pups to come. Ernie is into it. If I say Come in a silly voice, he runs up to me and does that four-legged spring into the air that only little terrier dogs can do. Hazel, though? She is very cool. If I get all giddy and sing Come! she just gives me a look that says, You are pathetic, and then she plops down on the grass to eat some acorns.

2. I have been doing laundry. I am on a mission to find a mate for every unmated sock in this house. I had 56 individual socks at the beginning of the week. I now only need to find mates for 43. I see that as success. If you have kids you know it is, in fact, possible to have that many single socks. I think kids eat them.

3. I have been reading. I read two great books this week: Testimony by Anita Shreve (I give it a 7) and The Piano Teacher by Janice Lee. (I give it an 8.5). I need to write reviews on them. Maybe I will do that next.

4. I have been doing homework with Jordan. I have to say it: Homework sucks. A good parent is THERE when her kid does her homework. I am working at this being a good parent thing (it comes in spurts)--but can I tell you how MUCH I DON'T WANT TO re-teach factors?  (clearly she was spacing in class...It was like she had never heard of the term...) Or can I tell you how much I don't want to re-test her 8 billion times until she not only spells Arkansas correctly but does not mix it up on the map with Arizona and Alabama? Or how much I don't want to fight with her about opening her damn book and doing some reading? (I ask you.. how can a child who has grown up with two book junkie parents NOT LIKE TO READ? I don't' get it...)

5.  I have also been driving my kids to piano, and swimming, and soccer. And while there I have had inane conversations with other parents who clearly feel it as painful as I do to make small talk.  (Okay, that was cynical.)

6.  I have been obsessing over my athlete schedules. Sometimes this results in a good plan. Sometimes I get disgusted with my effort and have to start all over again.

7.  I have been on the computer WAY too much.

So... this is my life.
It is a great one. I am not too busy. I am not too un-busy.
But I feel guilty.
Will I ever get over that?

I think it is the plight of the mom who once worked (very recently, actually) and is not only no longer contributing (financially) to the well-being of her home, but she is also picking her ass and counting freaking socks. (and reading books, and playing with her puppies, and staring at the computer).

 I should be contributing.
I should be doing something of great meaning and import. I should not be counting mateless socks.

(although you could argue that had I been concerned about mateless socks earlier I would not have 43 socks without a match...)

Often when I realize that I have been reduced to counting socks and cleaning up puppy poop I start to feel rebellious. Rebellion is not good.
I need to keep myself in check.

I will say that I love the smell of puppy breath. It smells faintly of pee. It is distinct. It is intoxicating.
One more race!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dover Sherbron Boosters Sprint Tri RR

When the alarm went off at 5:30 a.m., I almost turned it off and went back to bed. Why the HELL am I doing this? I wondered. When and why did this seem like such a good idea?

I went about the pre-race activities on autopilot. I knew I wanted to race--but I was having trouble remembering why I wanted to race. My legs felt okay.. I would be fine, right?

I arrived at the race site and registered--set up transition and then found two of my athletes, one of whom was racing, and one of whom was supposed to race but was injured. We hung out and chattered in the cold. I had opted to wear my speed suit instead of a wetsuit because I didn't want to feel hot in the lake. Bad idea. The lake temperature was not a problem. The air temperature was. I was frozen after my warm-up in the water while I waited to start. Honestly, I was so cold I could think of little else.

I was in the fourth wave with the my fellow age groupers. I had contemplated signing up for the elite wave, but thought better of it. I will never forget the feeling of racing by myself at Kennebunk Fireman Tri last year when I raced elite. No one was on the course with me--the true elites being far ahead and the age groupers far behind because they had started so far behind me. I didn't want that to happen again.

When the gun went off I dove in and begin to hammer. That lasted about 30 seconds before I was gasping and had to slow down. I pulled myself together, though, and soon pulled out ahead of my age group and begin sighting the first buoy. Just swim. Just swim hard. Just beat the girls in your wave.

The swim was a short one. I got out in 6:29. Of course I gasped when I saw that time just as I had the day before. It was 41 seconds slower than my time from last year when I swam in a relay. Boy is my swim in the shitter!

But onward! I was first out of the water for my AG, and isn't that what racing is about? I raced up the gravelly hill to transition (ouch!) and then struggled to snap my helmet strap and pull on my shoes, and then I was on my way.

I pushed it. Why not? This was a sprint! What did I have to lose? Within a minute I ran up against the people who had gotten out of the water in previous waves. I passed and passed and called On Your Left! There was this one guy, though... When I screamed on your left he did not budge. In fact, he moved closer to the yellow line so I could not pass. I said, On your left! even louder. He moved slightly, and when I started my pass he moved out in front of me again and start to hammer. WTF! I said again, louder still, ON YOUR LEFT! He moved again slightly, and I tried to pass and he picked up his pace AGAIN and moved in front of me and wouldn't let me pass. I was pissed. And I lost it. I screamed at the top of lungs, practically spitting, DUDE! YOU'RE BLOCKING! MOVE THE FUCK OVER AND LET ME PASS!

I'm so classy.

He literally growled. I mean it. He growled! This time he didn't move over at all. He just stood up on his pedals all out, growling, blocking and in his mind, racing me.

Whatever. I crossed over the double yellow line to make the pass, even though it was illegal and even though there was oncoming traffic.  I had had enough. I blasted out of there and didn't see him again. Douche Bag.

You know-- I know I am a girl, and a small one. Is that why he was such an incredible prick? Because he couldn't imagine I was faster than him? Please illuminate, men. Do guys do that to other guys? Or just to girls? I know my language was foul and crass, but what he did was so frustrating and childish. I totally lost my temper.

The rest of the bike was tame in comparison. My goal was to average the same watts I had the day before. This was tough. My quads were on fire. On every uphill I struggled. Yep! I was tired from yesterday's effort at Lobsterman! I kept reminding myself that it didn't matter that I was fatigued. I could still race this! I could still win!

Right at the end of the bike a girl passed me. She was decked in a Fuel Belt sponsored kit. She had the bike and the wheels. She was the real deal. And she was entering T2 with me. MOVE IT, MARY!
I got out of T2 as fast as I could, and beat her onto the course. I was running scared. My quads and calves felt so achy--and burning. Could I keep this up? But I had to! Fuel Belt Girl had to be right there!

And then, at mile 1.5, it happened. She caught me, and passed. I said, "Oh damn! There you are!" she laughed and said, Do I know you? I said, Nope! I just want to beat you! She laughed again and surged forward.
Fuck.... FUCK! I chased her. And passed her.  
How old are you? I asked. Again, so classless! You never ask! But they hadn't put age numbers on our legs, and she looked to be about my age. To be frank, I didn't care about winning AG. I wanted to win overall. If this girl was 40 we had started together, and I needed to stay ahead of her. If she was 39 or under, she had started two waves ahead of me, and I had 8 minutes on her at this point in the race, whether she was outrunning me or not.

39, she said. And she passed me back.

I thought of my friend, Bob. Just becasue she was eight minutes behind me, would I let her pass me like that? Bob wouldn't. Neither would Ange. They would race her! I WOULD RACE HER! I held onto her heel and killed myself to stay up. And then it occurred to me.
What if she is 39--but turns 40 in a week and is racing 40-44 and therefore started with ME???? Oh GOD! I must get her! I pushed-- I PUSHED!
We ran into the finish area and I saw Andy and the puppies and the kids. They had made it! I wasn't sure they would make it to the race to see me. Anyway, I knew they could see me chasing Fuel Belt Girl--and that I was losing that chase. I pushed more, she pulled away.. I pushed more. And she crossed the line.
Ahead of me.

After the race, we talked. She was awesome. We thanked each other for pushing the other. And she said--No, I am really 39. I am not soon 40. Okay, then....

But I still did not know if I had won. The elites, remember, had started in the first wave. I didn't know what their times had been. One of them--maybe more than one--could've been faster than me.
I stood with Susan, my athlete who couldn't race due to injury, and we cheered in Laurie. Laurie had an AWESOME race. She PR'd that run course even though it was  hilly.

Finally the results came up.
And there I was. At the top. Me! I had won!
The next woman was a full minute behind me, and the next, last year's winner, two minutes behind me. A legitimate, bonafide win. And on tired legs! I was ecstatic!

The awards ceremony was very informal. It was a small race.
But I don't care. It was my very first triathlon win.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Lobsterman RR and Dover-Sherborn Tri RR: A Double Header!

Wow--that last post generated a lot of response! Thanks to all who contributed. I took away quite a bit from the discussion, and it affected not only how I raced this weekend but also my interpretation of those races.
Here's what I decided after reading and digesting all of your comments: during my final races of the season I just needed to compete. That may sound obvious. Of course I'm just going to compete. Duh..

But what I mean is that my intention was too focus on racing people--and not so much on the time/watts/mph/pace data I have been so focused on this season. Instead, I just wanted to race--see a girl in front of me and try to catch her. Pass a guy on the bike and try to stay ahead of him. Make it hurt. I love that shit.

At the start of last weekend I had three races remaining in my season: Lobsterman Oly, the Dover/Sherborn Boosters Sprint Tri the next day, and the CELT Sprint Challenge the weekend after that.
As of today, two down.
I was most nervous for Lobsterman. It is a big Maine race--the last big one of the season. All my friends were there (except Stacy. We missed you!), and I have done it every year for four years, so it is easy to compare one year's performance to the next. I have been focused on this race--maybe even more focused on it than I was for Timberman. I really wanted to do well. The other two races were/are like dessert. Little hometown sprints. I love those, but I don't get so nervous for them.

The short version is that both races this weekend went swimmingly.

Or maybe not swimmingly. The swim portion of each race was less than stellar in terms of my actual times... but because I am ONLY focusing on competing, and not the TIMES, I will still say they went swimmingly.
My bikes and runs went great, and more importantly I had fun, and I raced hard, and I placed well. I finished Lobsterman 5th overall and 2nd in my AG, and for the Dover/Sherborn Tri I was first overall.  

It was my first triathlon win. I was so excited I won I almost peed my pants when I found out. Wahoo!

Now for the LONNNGGGGG version of the races.....

Andy and I dropped off the kids at my in-laws on Friday night and headed up with the puppies to Maine.We debated leaving the puppies with my in-laws, but then we decided we just really wanted to show them off at Lobsterman. They are so damn cute! (No comment that it was harder for us to leave the puppies than the kids.... )
Anyway. We got up sort of late to Maine, and so we had to move fast to get to bed at a reasonable hour. We turned lights out by 10:30 (still too late) but wouldn't you know that the puppies would not let us sleep. Hazel was pissed. She wanted out of that crate. GOD DAMN! I didn't get to sleep until after one, and then I woke up at three to take them out to pee. Great idea to keep the puppies with us, huh?

Oh well. We arrived early to the race site and got ourselves registered and ready to race. We got caught up with friends who were racing, and of course I found Ange and Alina. (Alina was in a relay--the swimmer, of course!) I didn't really get to warm up because I was too busy socializing and taking care of the puppies. Hmmm. So far I wasn't doing well considering I cared very much how I did in this race!

We donned our wetsuits and I kissed Andy goodbye. He was two waves ahead of me, so I knew I wouldn't see him until the race ended. Ange and I did our usual push our way to the front routine. The water, which was so freaking cold last year, was quite pleasant considering it was the ocean in September. 61 degrees!Positively bathwater!

I have only swum three times in the last three weeks. So I was kinda worried about how the swim would go. To be honest, my not swimming recently was a bit of an experiment. My swim seems to never change. I wondered--what if I just stopped training? Would it change then? And by how much?
I got my answer at Lobsterman, and the next day at Dover.
It changed. And not for the better.
I must train the swim. Or I suck on the swim. The end.
Oh well. Good to know, anyway!

I will say I felt great in the water. I was cruising along, passing people. I found my friend Anne and tried to stay on her feet. I lost her a few times, but mostly I kept her in my sights. I thought my swim had gone very well, but when I clicked my watch getting out... gasp. choke.
I was a full minute and twenty seconds slower than last year! Cripes!

Oh well. Lesson learned! And furthermore, I was NOT focusing on the times, right???
I got through T1 as fast as possible. I couldn't get my wetsuit over the damn chip, as usual. I couldn't buckle my helmet  because my hands were frozen. Argh.

But then I was on the bike. A girl with a big fat 40 on her leg passed me immediately.
I passed her back.
She passed me back.
I decided she was toast. TODAY I was competing. I blew her away and didn't see her again.

From then on it was mostly a pass-fest. Our wave had gone off second to last. The roads were thick with riders by the time we got out there. People were blocking big time--and I was pissed. I kept shouting on your left! Move! A few guys got pissed and tried to pass me back. Most of them just let me go. I meant business. No one was passing me today.

Except. At one point a young blonde girl with an R for relay passed me. Oh, I wanted to catch her, and I spent the bulk of the rest of the ride trying to do so. At one point on a pass she said, I'm only a relay! No worries! To which I responded-- But I still want to beat you of course! She laughed and I passed. She passed me back like 20 seconds later. And so it went. Toward the end of my ride my friend Mary Lou passed me. Mary Lou is an incredible rider--. I mean it. She is incredible. I really, really wanted to stay with her but she was just hauling. We passed back and forth a few times, and then I let her go. Damn! Passed twice today! Not good! And then my friend Anne passed me too! Triple Damn! And where was Ange? I wanted to catch Ange! I never did catch Ange. But I still had an awesome time on the bike. I beat last year's time by two minutes and forty seconds. My bike was the strongest leg of my race this year for sure--even if Anne, and the cute blond relay girl, and Ange and Mary Lou all beat me. 

And then onto the run. As you know, the run has been plaguing me lately. I really needed and wanted this run to go well. I had blasted the bike as best I could, but I didn't care. I still wanted a great run.

I didn't take my Garmin. I just need to run, and run hard. I heard my friend Anne's name announced when I was in T2. She was just heading out on the run. I could get her! I ran out of T2 and saw her in the distance and I put a target on her back. Could I get her? Could I get her? Finally, at about 1.5 miles into the race I passed. She shouted encouragement. Thank you, Anne! But now I was running scared. Would she pass me back? And where was my friend Erin? She would be on my ass any moment now--I just knew it! And where was Ange? Why hadn't I seen her? How far ahead of me was she?

I didn't look at my watch. I just ran as hard as I could. And in the end? I was only 12 seconds slower than last year on the run! Running scared and running to pass worked! After having such poor run times all summer I thought FOR SURE it would be slower run. But it wasn't! And not only that, I PR'd the course by a minute and forty seconds--even with my sucky swim! Wahoo!

Final finish time: 23:20 for the swim, 1:11 flat for the bike (21 mph) and 44:58 for the run. Total time was 2:21:41. I placed 2nd AG to Ange (who took second overall) and 5th overall woman. I was 40th overall with both men and women. I might be most proud of that. This is a competitive race, and there were 600 individual racers!

After the race we headed to Ange's to party for a bit, and then we headed home so I cold get ready to RACE AGAIN!

I will write that race report tomorrow, though. This post is getting too long already! The important thing to know about the next day's race is that I won! I won! I won! ueueueueueu!

I leave you with a few pictures from Timberman. Thanks, Mike! I love these pictures!

Ange and I before the race.I know it looks like we just rolled out of bed. That would be because... ummm. we did.

On the run.
Ange finishing the run. I like this one because you can see pain her face! She is working!

And this is the W40-44 podium at Timberman. We are all holding our maple syrup.
Dover Sherborn RR tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ambition Creep: aka, a Post In Which Mary Gets Wicked Dark and Gloomy

When I was in college I was not a particularly ambitious athlete. I might have become one in high school, but for one reason or another my hours at the pool left me believing I was only an okay athlete--not necessarily one deserving of lofty goals or ambitions.  So in college, my athletic ambitions were mostly strategic. I ran to lose weight and to keep in shape. I played rugby because it put me in the center of the best partying to be had.  Sport was a means to an end, not an end in itself. 

When I began to run for pleasure, and not just to maintain my weight, I was still not particularly ambitious about it. My high school belief that I was a fair athlete only, and one not deserving of lofty goals, held fast. And so, because I didn't expect great things of me and my running, it used to be that simply running a race filled me with joy and pride. I could run 3 miles, and then 5, and then 13.1 and then 26.2. I wasn't particularly concerned with how fast I ran these races. The fact that I could run them at all made me enormously proud. I was startled and pleased to find out that if I set my mind to it, I could actually run quite far--a marathon even! Who would have thought it possible for someone like me to do THAT?

I think it  was after I completed that first marathon (1997--a long time ago now!) that I finally believed myself to be a runner  I was not at the front of the pack, and that was fine with me. I was in good shape, and I could run a long way. That was enough.

It was enough for a long time.

It is not enough anymore.

And I find myself wondering, when did that happen? When did I cross the line from just being joyful that I could run at all, to being ever so slightly disappointed when I did not run the very fastest of everyone in the race?  At first my new found ambition for running far, and then fast, and then both far and fast, and then both far and fast with a swim and bike tacked on to the beginning, made me focused, determined and strong. It gave me life. But gradually....

When does ambition stop giving life, and begin to take life from you?

What a careful balance it is allowing ourselves to dream while simultaneously remaining in the here and now--with the data we have and not the data we want. It is a balance I have not mastered.

I have had a strong season. I can say that, even though it causes me agitation to write it. I placed in the top 5 in my AG at Florida 70.3.  I PR-ed in the Ironman by over a half hour, and bettered my placing to number 8 in my AG.  I placed second to Ange in a local sprint just weeks after my IM.  I knocked 13 minutes off my previous time at Timberman. But I don't feel good about any of it. Not really. Somehow I allowed my ambition to steal from me my hard-fought success.

I feel a number of things in addition to "not really feeling good about any of it": I feel greedy and guilty for not feeling more proud, I feel angry that I didn't achieve the level I know I can, I feel underestimated by those around me who insist I have had a good season, when I'm sure it was only just fine, and above all I feel WRONG for feeling all of those feelings! Oh, what a mess to be worked through. Bring in the shrinks! Bring in the self-help books! Because who the hell am I to want more than what my record shows!

My husband calls this phenomenon-that of not feeling good about what you achieved because it does not measure up to the lofty goals you set for yourself -- "ambition creep". I am fairly sure I am not the only person to suffer this ailment. I suspect you have experienced what I am talking about at some point in your life, in some context. Probably many of you reading this have experienced it in sport.

Andy dealt with ambition creep in college. He was a walk-on at William&Mary in Virginia. No one expected much of him. He allowed people's low expectations to fuel him, and by the time he was a senior he was one of the top Division 1 collegiate athletes in the Steeple Chase in the country. But that wasn't enough. He wanted to qualify for the Olympic Trials. He stayed on for a fifth year at W&M, still able to compete after missing his junior year track season to Chicken Pox. He raced and raced and raced--and the ceiling remained. He fell short. Barely. But short.

I met him soon after he left W&M. I was in awe of his running accomplishments, but clearly he felt less stellar about them. He battled between trying to appear appreciative and respectful of his running record and oozing bitterness and disappointment that he had lost his chance and would never accomplish what he had set out to do.

I didn't get it. At all. I wanted him to just sign up for this local road race or that, and run, and win, and feel good about it. Why the hell couldn't he feel good about it? How awesome would it be to just go out to some random local 5k and win it?

I get it now. I just don't know how exactly to deal with it now that I get it.

Here is what I know:
I know I am what my record says I am--no more, no less (This is Bill Parcells, Andy tells me.)
I know that no matter how good I am there will always be someone better.
I know I need to mark my accomplishments at my destinations, but also enjoy myself along the way.
I know there is a fine line between challenging myself and fooling myself, and as a competitive athlete, it's my job to find that line--and deal with it--and move it.
I know these things mostly because Andy, who quickly recognized my problem, named it, and is trying in vain to help me deal with it. I can be a fairly decent listener, and so I do know all of these things-- intellectually. I just don't know how to turn that knowledge into feeling really good about a season in which I raced pretty well, but in which I didn't achieve what I wanted to achieve.

I am open to suggestions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


 On Sunday we brought home Ernie:
On Monday we brought home Hazel.
Ernie and Hazel are having fun together. They wrestle hard and then drop down and snooze hard.

After a ferocious play session with Ernie Hazel is currently underfoot sleeping in a way only puppies do. Ernie prefers the crate.

People think we are crazy for getting two puppies simultaneously. We have always had two dogs at once, and to me it made sense to bring our newest two to the house at the same time. I think it must be very traumatic for a puppy to leave his/her litter mates and then arrive at a new home, with new smells, and new people--and no dogs. Ernie was thrilled when Hazel arrived. They played and snorted and Ernie came to life in a way we hadn't seen since we had brought him home the day before. After they met, sniffed and played,  they crawled into the crate together, huddled up, and slept.

Yesterday Hazel cried piteously in the car on the way home. When Noah, my son, asked why she was so upset I explained she was frightened. She had to leave everything she knew. She was alone and in a strange place. Noah began to cry. It was a small snuffle at first, and then a full blown cry. "I am so sad for her that she had to leave her mom and her sisters and brothers!" he wailed.

It is making me teary to think about it.

I have not been posting much lately. This is partly because I am so excited about the puppies. I don't  feel overwhelmed, just really focused on them.  Honestly, nothing seems hard to me after having children. I think once you have birthed a baby and brought him home and survived the first three months you are hardened to difficulty in a way you never were before. But still, having the puppies is sucking my mental energy. I just want to be with them--watch them--cuddle them. I want to photograph every one of their moves. The time they are puppies is fleeting.

I have also not been posting much because I have been thinking and unable to write. I have been thinking about racing and competing and worthiness and respect and ambition. It is a big swirl in my head right now. It will settle, and then I will write.

But for now, there are pictures of the puppies.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back To Life... Back to Reality...

You know you went to college in the late 80's and early 90's if you know that little tune. Just singing it in my head makes me feel like drinking piss beer out of a keg and dancing on a beer soaked floor.

But back to life. Back to reality. Back to 2010 with a home that hasn't been cleaned in two months, a garden that hasn't been tended since mid-June, and three kids who have been bored stiff and fighting over who gets to steal my iPhone next to play DoodleJump since arriving home last week.  Apparently being home after two months straight of beach, ice cream, cousins and best friends leaves you wanting--and in need of video games. 

But it's all good. You wanna know why? Because SCHOOL STARTS TOMORROW.

Praise God and Hallelujah!  Actually, school starts for my oldest two. My third is entering kindergarten, and so she has psuedo-school for a little bit. For example, tomorrow I GO WITH HER and we stay for an hour. Then the day after that she goes for like three hours. This goes on for about a month until finally she is official and she goes for the whole day. What I find so funny about this arrangement is how old school it is. The assumption is that my littlest puppy has been home with her mommy since day one and the trauma of being separated and starting school for REAL is going to destroy her. However, MY little baby has been in daycare since she was two months old. I went back to teaching in September after having her in June. This is also true of my other two... who got about two months of Mommy before begin turned over to the 7 a.m.-5 p.m. workers in the daycare system. It sounds cruel. It sounds harsh.  It sounds like the twenty-first century, in which a huge portion of mothers can't afford to stay home with their little tykes or simply decide they want to continue working after having a child. But the K system of gradual introduction to school remains...

Anyway, my point is only that my kids are daycare kids (aside from the summers--in which they get all Mommy all the time). The idea that they need to transition over a month into real school is a bit hilarious to me.

So, in short, I know I'm supposed to be weepy that my last child is leaving my side to go to Kindergarten. Should I be admitting that this does, in fact, NOT make me sad? I think it's because I have always been a working mother. The start of public school does not mean that I am losing my child. It means I finally don't have to pay someone to look after my child while I work.

I went off there a bit. On to triathlon-related bizz-buzz.

Oh wait.
I'm not sure I have anything to say there. Ho Hum. Is it October and time to rest yet?

I had a great brick yesterday. I did these 12 minutes intervals at Oly race pace wattage and it was tough, man. Just tough. But fun, too. Then I had a little transition run in which I contemplated how I was sucking wind to a much greater extent than I should be given my pace. But still, it was a swell workout.

I did have a bit of a light bulb moment this week surrounding my training.

I was talking to SoloBreak, who is, btw, a very smart dude, and who suggested that perhaps I was struggling with my run because I had put more energy into my bike this season. Well duh. Yes. Of course. That wasn't the smart part. But he also mentioned how when he begin running a few years back he noticed that even a few runs per week really had a negative effect on his biking. Maybe the opposite was true for me? That the gradual addtion of biking to my life has had a progressively worsening effect on my running?

ding ding ding!!!

I know this seems obvious too, but I hadn't regarded it that way. Over the last few years I have finally learned how to work hard on the bike. The problem with that is that since I can get a lot out of myself on the bike now--it has negatively affected my run. WHY? Simply because I don't have the juice I used to have for the run--both in training and racing. I cursed myself two years back (and so did Jen) because I knew I was a loaf on the bike. But what I didn't acknowledge at that time was that being a loaf on the bike allowed for some good runs off the bike.   As soon as I learned how to work the bike... while.... my run became far less stellar.

My run is in the shitter simply because I have a certain amount of me to give -- and when biking started taking more of me-- well, the run suffered. Again, I know this seems patently obvious, but what you need to understand is that I haven't been shirking on the run. My training for the run has remained steady and strong through all of this. It's just that that didn't matter. The more the bike absorbed--the less I had to give to the run. The more I tried to get my run back while killing myself on the bike, the more tired I got. And lo, here we are. I am wiped out. My bike is strong. My run is weak despite my effort to make it strong again. And I need a freaking break already.

The question is--can I somehow train such that I am giving enough to the bike--but not so much that my run is destroyed? Does it have to be one or the other? Can I achieve a balance?  Triathlon... such a fun game.

That would be the goal of next season. Suggestions as to how to accomplish this are always welcome.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Back to Being a MASS-HOLE

The podium for W40-44 at Timberman. (I think we all look younger than 40, or course.) I love this picture because Ange and I are both on stage! I also lurv my pink compression socks. (Thanks, Jen!)

I left Maine on Wednesday and headed home to Massachusetts. I left on a beach day. We've been experiencing a heat wave here in New England, and it was in the 90s when I left and the high 90s when I got home. Depressing to leave on a day like that. Really really depressing.

Still, I was also relieved to go home. My mom (God bless her) was super ready to be rid of us and our messy, sandy selves. Also, the last few days on the beach were tough. It was very hot and so naturally we wanted to be in the water all day. The rip currents were extremely strong this week, though.  I witnessed two of nineteen rescues on Tuesday alone. On Monday night a whole family got swept out. It was after five pm, and the lifeguards were off duty. Beach goers had to go in to save them. (One of those beach-goers was my brother-in-law. He saved one of the boys in the family using a boogie board he found on the beach.)  It was terrifying. Then, on Wednesday night well after dark, a few teenagers got caught in the current when skinny dipping. Again, no lifeguards. They were saved by fully-clothed EMT's with flashlights.

My point is only I had to be on high alert when watching the kids in the water this week. It was exhausting. They were literally in the water all day--and my six-year-old son, Noah, is a total daredevil. He kept darting under waves and emerging way too deep. It was very hard to manage.I miss the beach, but it is a relief to not be stressing that my bambinos are going to be swept out to sea!

Since I've been home I have been playing catch-up. My instinct is to "catch-up" on my workouts, too. I haven't been able to swim for a week because of the rip currents in the ocean, and I have been shortening and missing workouts left and right since Timberman. Now that I am home I am ready to FOCUS! The problem is, the kids are still not back in school (not until Tuesday!) and so I have less time than I would like to work out (like, ummm, no time except the crack of dawn time!) I have gotten in two pool swims in the early a.m. I am a little slowwwwwwwwwwwwwww in the water right now, I must say. It was fun to see all of my swim buddies, at the pool though. I missed them!

Also, you can't  catch-up on workouts. I know that. My training has been what my training has been. I have an Oly in two weeks, and I can't cram the necessary training in in the next two weeks to insure I will race well there. As WE ALL KNOW, it just don't work that way.

Wouldn't it be nice if it did, though?

In the final weeks of September I am signed up for four races--one Oly (Lobsterman) and three sprints (Dover, Maniac, and CELT.) I am not quite sure what possessed me to sign up for four races in two weeks. I must have been high? Except I don't get high... so ummmm.... I must have been jazzzed up on too much caffeine? Or maybe it was my alter ego who signed up? Anyway... I think four tris in two weeks is an insane idea.

Still, I may do it.

But probably not.

My friend Mike (Platt--of commenting fame) wrote this to me this morning:

You are an enthusiastic racehorse, and enthusiastic racehorses will run to their death if left unguided (believe me, I used to be one).The better you become at running and biking the more damage you can do to yourself.  Let your coach guide you so you do not race yourself into the ground.

It is an apt observation and good advice.

In the past it may not have made sense to me--that the better you get the more damage you can do to yourself.

But it is true. You can race on memory--memory that exceeds your current fitness. When you are a seasoned racer you can block out pain in a way you could not when you were less experienced. In short--you can get more out of yourself after years of racing, both when you have done the training, and when you have not done the training--and that can be dangerous. It can be especially dangerous if you are a racehorse who would run to her death if it weren't for her coach trying desperately to reign her in.

So, in short. It may be I just race Lobsterman. Jen has told me that Lobsterman is enough.

And then it's time to rest.

I had a whole crazy schedule of races I wanted to in October and November, but alas, my body, my mind, and Jen have all told me NO. It is time for the yearly rest of a month, and I will be taking that rest starting right after my final race in Septmember.

It is fine that I will rest because I will be busy.

Ernie (our Boston Terrier puppy) and Hazel (our yellow lab puppy) are coming home a week from Sunday.

This is Hazel.
We don't have a picture of Ernie yet, but here are my other puppies: