Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Doga -- or dog and yoga -- combined

On Sunday the cupboard was not tied shut for a brief amount of time. I'm not sure the guilty party... it could have been a child sneaking a snack. In any case, Hazel took advantage of the situation. Within 30 seconds she pawed down a can of oatmeal, downed it, and then scarfed down half a package of semi-sweet chocolate chips. By the time I made it to the kitchen after hearing the initial crinkling of plastic wrap being ripped open, the ingestion was over and she was satisfyingly licking her lips.

Chocolate.   At least 6 ounces of chocolate.

We called our friend Elizabeth, who is a vet. She recommended we give her two spoonfuls of hydrogen peroxide to get her to barf the chocolate up. Hazel lapped up the hydrogen peroxide. I swear, labs will eat anything.  She wagged her tail, happy as could be, and did not vomit.

It was a Sunday--of course it was a Sunday--so we had to drive her to the emergency vet in Walpole. When Andy got there, she was hyper from the caffeine in the chocolate and her heart was racing. They gave her an injection of cardiac medication to ease the heart rate and prevent seizures, and then they gave her an emetic to induce vomiting. She proceeded to barf up not only all the chocolate, but also a sock and bits of plastic.

Nice. I watch my dog well, huh?

They wanted to keep her overnight and x-ray her stomach, reasoning that if she had eaten oatmeal, chocolate, a sock and plastic, she may just possibly need to rid herself of other foreign material too....
Okay, that's fair.
And that will be $1400, please.

Ummm. no.
Andy said we'd take her home--but thanks. They shrugged, our choice! (bad bad dog owners who let their puppy eat chocolate and socks and then don't give her the treatment she needs!) Instead, they gave her an IV of fluids and some activated charcoal before she left.

When she got home you would think she would have been exhausted from this whole chocolate/oatmeal/sock/plastic barfing debacle. Oh no... she wanted to eat again, and she immediately began sniffing around for scraps of anything she could chew.

We put her in her crate, and that was that.

The next morning Ernie woke up with a gigantic red bulb on his eyeball. See below.

Before taking him to the vet I cleaned up the crate of black/charcoal shit and piss that Hazel couldn't keep in overnight. It was deliciously fun to clean up. At the vet Ernie got diagnosed with an infection of the lower lid of his eye, and he now is on antibiotics and gooey eye ointment. Then we returned home and Hazel preceded to shit coal all day. (I know there is some great joke I could make here about the coal being in dog shit instead of my Christmas stocking... )She also peed everywhere--all day long-- after being given the IV the night before to induce peeing so she could rid herself of all those chocolate toxins.

Add to all of this that the kids did not have school yesterday because of a teacher workshop day. By the end of the day-- between dogs and kids-- I wanted to rip my own eyeballs out.
This morning I got up early to attend a power yoga class in a hot studio. I needed some cleansing. I had been cleaning up shit and piss and kid crap for the last 24 hours and I needed to detox. Ahh... the kids would be off to school today, and I was starting the morning off right with a gooooooooooood stretch.

Half way through the class I smelled dog pee. I figured it was in my head. I had been smelling dog shit and piss all weekend, I reasoned. My nostrils just thought they were smelling it... right?

Wrong. I finally figured out that Hazel must have pissed on my yoga met. My hands smelled of pee, my mat smelled of pee, and my hot sweat dripping all over the mat brought out the scent in a wonderful, aromatic way. I couldn't help but wonder if everyone around me could smell it too. Would I be now known as the dog piss lady who couldn't do crow?


I'd write more, but I hear plastic crinkling in the kitchen.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

It's been a relief this week to do some training and not worry that I am setting myself back. Don't get me wrong; I haven't done very much, it's just that not very much is still considerably more than I had been doing.

We traveled to Maine for Thanksgiving. I got in two longish, slowish runs which felt fantastic. I had to really force myself not to hate myself for my very slow pace. I am heavier than I have been in years, and I am truly out of shape, so of course my running is slow right now. Still, you know how it is. You gaze down at your watch thinking that Wow! you are really trotting right along~! Only to gasp, OH MY GOD. Really? Eek!

At Thanksgiving my mom commented that I looked more full of face, butt and boobs than I have for a long time. I don't feel I look that different, but the way my clothing fits and comments like that make me realize that yes, it's not in my head, I am indeed bigger.  Like with the running pace, I'm trying very very very very very hard to be cool with that. You have no idea how desperately I want to be above caring about weight. But I am not above it. I am only above it when I am extremely small--which is, of course, not being above it all.

The fact that I have gained some poundage didn't change my T-day eating frenzy, of course.  My favorite thing about the day is eating stuffing. Stuffing ranks as one of my top ten favorite foods. I also love dessert. I'm not a big pie eater, but this year my Aunt Carol brought whoopee pies. I had more than one, but I will not reveal how many I did have....

On the way home yesterday Andy and I dragged the kids to look at properties north of Portland. This would have been an extremely pleasant experience (I love to fantasize about moving to Maine) save the fact that the dogs were with us. Before we left my parents' house the dogs found my dad's compost heap fresh with Thanksgiving scraps. Most notably it was filled with leftover eggplant casserole. My dogs consumed nearly all of that delectable treat. Then they preceded to fart eggplant casserole for the next five hours as we toured north of Portland, stopped in Ocean Park to look at a house there, and then headed for home. It was the most horrifyingly barfable smell ever. Had a match been lit inside the car the car would have blown to smithereens. I'm pretty sure that even after a swim in the heavily chlorinated pool and a long shower, I still smell like eggplant casserole dog fart.

I hope you all had restful and delicious Thanksgivings.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

All Better

Yesterday I visited Dr. Uma.
Dr. Uma is a hematologist.

I have been looking forward to this appointment, and also fearing it, since it was set up five weeks ago. I never suspected that my blood counts would be off when it was revealed that they were. I never expected once they were revealed to be off that things might not immediately right themselves. Likewise, when I went to see Dr. Uma yesterday I didn't expect things to not be corrected. After all, it's been close to 10 weeks now that I have been resting. However, lurking inside my brain was the knowledge that this was my third doctor's appointment dealing with my poor blood counts.What would I do and how would I feel if things STILL weren't back to normal?

The nurse took my blood. A resident asked me tons of questions. Then Dr. Uma appeared to tell me that everything looked just fine. My low WBC was likely not caused by over-training. I simply had a bad viral illness and my WBC had dropped as a result.  It is normal for it to take 8-10 weeks for the body to fully recover from a very bad viral illness, she said. But now my WBC was fine, my RBC was fine, my iron stores were fine, my hemoglobin and hematocrit were fine. I was free to go and free to train. I think Dr. Uma was surprised at how thrilled I was with this news. There is nothing wrong with me! IMLP -- here I come!

In hindsight the worry about my low WBC was helpful to me. Most of you knew even more than I did how tired and burned out I was by the end of this season. I needed a longer break than the three weeks I originally allowed myself, and I was forced to take longer--forced to slow down. That is good.  In my desperation to stay active during those long weeks I walked and jogged slow miles with my dogs in the woods. I also took up hot studio power yoga. (Thanks, Linda!) I've now attended five yoga classes in the last two weeks. I didn't know that yoga was missing from my life. Now I feel relieved that I no longer have to go without it.

I also feel less urgency. Stopping allowed me to contemplate other things that I have not exactly shelved, but casually neglected for a long time. Realizing my neglect felt both good and sad. It saddened me to realize how far adrift I had become from my other loves--gardening, walking in the woods, reading and writing. Triathlon requires a singular focus, and it was all I could do to maintain that focus and still be genuinely present for my kids and Andy.

The hard part now will be to integrate what I gained in the last 10 weeks into a more intense workout schedule. At first I thought to just add on... to ask myself to commit more hours per week with the addition of trail jogs with the puppies and yoga classes.

But I don't think I will do that.
I think I'm going to try to stay chill; try to accept that I may not be able to give triathlon such singular focus ever again. This may mean that I won't achieve certain goals I have set out for myself--like qualifying for Kona or ranking in top few percent of my AG nationally. Or, maybe, this is the attitude I need to achieve those goals... which is to say, the attitude of letting go of them.

I don't know.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Kicking Some Ass

 Your body was made for so much more than being looked at, deprived of food, and enjoyed by others. Your body was made for kicking some ass. -Gloria of Jezebul

On FB the other day, a few of my friends posted links to this article, posted on Jezebul.
Just about every sentence in this post rang with me. Many sentences also challenged me. It's those sentences--the ones which challenged me--that I want to write about.

For years now I have chafed at the responses I get from women when I mention my training and racing. I hear, "You are so good!" or "How do you find the time? You must have a very understanding husband!" or "Oh, you are so tiny! I would kill to be that small." I rarely hear comments like, "It's so cool that you are maximizing your body's potential, kicking some ass, and clearly having fun doing it."

The comments I receive are meant to be laudatory, I'm quite sure, but they miss entirely why I find the pursuit of triathlon so satisfying. The implication is that I work out so I can get good girl credits, get away from my children, and/or be skinnier than my 40 year-old mommy compatriots.  Swimming, biking and running couldn't possibly be activities I do each day because I want to celebrate my body and my life.  If I feel superior to some other women my age, it is not because I am thinner than they are; it's because I think I get something they don't get.
I get that my body was meant to kick ass.

I sound pretty realized, don't I?

Listen to me...
I don't work out to be thin... I work out to kick some ass. I don't work out to get away from the domestic bliss that is my life. I work out to kick some ass. I don't work out so that I can be good--more disciplined, more athletic, more worthy of respect and awe--than you. I don't.

Ummmmm. At least I think I don't.

Since I have been required to rest, I have gained some weight. Not a ton, but some. I know that this weight will go away when I begin to train again, and anyway, I know that I actually might look better now than I usually do--more full and rounded--possibly more sexy.

But, oh, wait, I don't care about that. Right? I don't care if I look fit or thin or sexy. I don't care if I wear a size 2 or 12, I don't care if I can strip down to a bikini and not feel self-conscious, or if I can fit into a tight pair of skinny jeans and boots at my age and not look like an ass--or, I should say, a fat ass.  I don't care about those things. Having a fit, toned body is only a bonus of doing triathlon, it is not my reason for doing it.  I really just want to kick some ass.

And I never yearn to get away from my children and on my own; away from the overwhelming and never-ending responsibility that comes from being a parent. I certainly don't use training as an excuse to leave Andy in charge. I don't ride my bike so that I can ride away; I don't run so I can escape. I don't.

At least I think I don't.

And I surely don't train so I can be more disciplined, more fit, more athletic, more worthy of awe and respect than you. I am above that. I don't need to feel superior to feel good about myself.

cough. sputter. choke.

Enjoying your own physical strength doesn't have to be viewed as subscribing to patriarchal notions of femininity.

Okay, does that mean it is okay to feel superior to those who I can beat on the race course? Does that qualify as enjoying my strength, or is it succumbing to my petty need to feel better, stronger, and faster than you? What exactly does it mean to enjoy one's physical strength? I love to race, I love to win, I love to dominate, I love to squeeze out of my body every ounce of its potential. Does this make me a person who enjoys my physical strength, or does this make me an insanely competitive, neurotic, Type A woman?  Can I be both?

As women, we're inundated every day with the idea that our bodies exist for other people- when we're catcalled on the street, when coworkers have entire conversations with our breasts rather than our faces, when we're groped on the subway. We're prudes if we don't let enough people access our bodies; sluts if we allow too many people to access our bodies.

I think it's safe to say I have never been labeled a prude. (Okay, you can stop chuckling now.) When I was a girl, though, I'm quite sure I was called a slut--if not to my face--then certainly in the boys' locker room behind my back. This has never seemed fair to me, although I'm quite sure the label earned me many dates with hopeful, horny high school boys.  At that time I think I very much believed that my body existed for others, and the interest I received from guys affirmed my self-worth. For some reason I didn't measure my worth by how smart I was, or how well-read, or how funny or nice. And I certainly didn't believe I was worthy just because... I was human.

Perhaps the idea that I measured my worth in terms of how "wanted" I was sounds extreme. Unfortunately, however, I think it is a pretty accurate description of my thinking when I was in high school and early college.

In high school I went out with a senior boy when I was sophomore. We were very serious, and I, at least, was monogamous, which for those who know me is definitely saying something. This boy was a swimmer, or an indoor track guy turned swimmer after an injury, and I was a swimmer too.

I remember having/receiving hickeys was the thing back then. Why, I have no idea. I guess they were marks that declared to the world that you were cool enough to be desired (if you were a girl) or gettin' some (if you were a boy). I remember I agreed to give hickeys to this boyfriend all over his body, including in between his thighs. He was ecstatic. It was clearly a badge of honor, and he displayed these hickeys with pride, which was easy for him to do since it was swim season.  The boys in the locker room saw them, of course, but also parents attending a swim meet that week, including both my mom and his parents (and, I will add, his father was my Physics teacher), teachers attending the meet saw them, and of course, other girls and boys saw them as he stood tall in his Speedo briefs, guffawing and slapping backs with the other kids on the team.

I am still friends with boys (now men) who were on that swim team. I am still friends with men who know that at fifteen, I was giving hickeys to inner thighs--just because I was asked to.  I must say, this is most unfortunate.

I mean really. What the fuck was I thinking?
And more importantly, why am I writing about this?

I guess I want to illustrate how deeply I believed that my body--that my whole person-- existed for others. Did I feel anything when I gave those hickeys? Was it pleasurable? What did I gain from it other than that everyone in our high school and extended community could see that I needed and wanted to be wanted--that being wanted was my sole measure of my worth--and that I would do anything to insure that others would continue to want me?

I have traveled many a mile since I was that age. Still, I continue to want people to want me; I still view people wanting me (at least in part) as a a measure of my worth. It is a constant battle not to feel that way.

My love of triathlon and what it awards me is not perfect. I rely on it to give me the body I want, the space I want, and the (untrue, but nevertheless present) feeling that I am superior to others who are sitting on the couch eating Fritos and lamenting their slovenly ways.

But triathlon has also helped me to move farther and farther away from the belief that my body exists not for me, but for you. It has allowed me to believe that my body was meant to kick ass--to kick ass for me--not you. It has allowed me to appreciate my body for what it does instead of chastising it for not looking the way society, and consequently me, believes it should look.  It has made me strong, and confident; it has allowed me to see food as wonderful and not the enemy, and it has shown me I can do things I never, ever thought I could do.

No, my love of triathlon is not perfect. It is tainted and impure, marred by needs that extend way back to my girlhood. But it is also amazing in what it has gifted me. And for that I am grateful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swim Meet!

Before I found out that I would be resting at least 10 weeks as opposed to a mere 3, I was doing a lot of swimming. During that time, because I was primarily just swimming and also very focused on improving my stroke, I got faster. I became super excited to see what I could do in a meet. I knew I was minus one super duper speed suit from last year, but still, I could taste those P.R.'s.

In swimming there are essentially three seasons: the short-course yards season which runs roughly from January to April, the long-course meters season which runs from May to August, and the short-course meters season, which runs from September to December. Usually I have so much run/bike training on my docket that training for a swim peak in any one of these seasons is simply out of the question. But now... ah... I was swimming well, it was only October, and because training for IMLP didn't really start until January, I could allow myself to peak for a few events at the BU short-course meters championship in December. Sweet! I LOVE projects like this!

But then....right after I had made my plan and signed up for several fall meets, I got the word that working super hard was pretty much not allowed until my blood work came back normal. I felt much like one does when she hits the Molasses Swamp in Candyland and has to wait until the correct color is drawn before she can move again. So much for that plan!

The question became-- do I can the meets, or swim in them anyway? The P.R.s would now surely be few, if any. Still, swimming in these meets would allow me to socialize with my Maine swimmer friends (read, ALINA), and would give me an excuse to fully hand-over parenting duty to my loving spouse for a day here and there. 

What's not to like?

So, on Sunday morning, I headed to Maine to swim in a short-course meters meet at Riverton Pool in Portland.

While I was gone, my kids did this:
A 3D movie with Dad!
They also went to the Harvard Museum of Natural History for a Harry Potter scavenger hunt. Apparently Noah kept calling it the Hardwood University... to which Andy explained that it was only Hardwood University to the undergrads....
(Well, I thought it was funny, anyway... ) 

One thing you can say about Andy--when he has Daddy Duty for the day he does it right. Lucky kids...

At this point I'm sure you are wondering if I will ever actually write about the damn swim meet.

But first, one more little story. I took Andy's car to the meet. When I'm in the car I listen to books on audio (big shock there, I know), but I had left the book I was listening to in my car. Oh, I was so bummed when I realized this... Five hours in the car with NO BOOK! I desperately searched the car for something... there had to be something! And then I found it, shoved into the console: The Return of Depression Economics by Paul Krugman.
The question: How desperate was I?
The answer: Really, really desperate.

And you know something--it was really good! I hadn't realized I might be even slightly interested in anything Econ, but really--it's history, analysis and modeling.
Why hadn't I tapped into this field before?

Okay okay. ENOUGH! The meet! Really, I am getting there!
I met Alina for a nice, big, breakfast before the meet at the Port Hole in Portland. YUMMMMM.
When we got to the meet, I was still stuffed, and during warm up I could feel the lobster/chevre cheese omelet I had had slowly making its way back up from my stomach.  Oh boy....

The first event was the 800 meter free relay. I had been recruited for this. I wanted to race IM, back and fly, and really didn't want to waste my precious energy on anything freestyle. But there was a New England record to be broken... and was I going to cow out of that?  Understand that there are not many meters pools around (at least in the New England), and so swimming in a meters meet is unusual. Add to this that the 800 meter relay in not a usual event... and well... the New England record that stood was, let us say, not too too hard to beat.

I swam with Alina and two other Maine Masters swimmers--Julie and Cheryl. They all swam faster than me, but together we totally crushed the record. I also swam a PR, personally. This would be because I have never actually swum 200 meters competitively, though--only yards! Still, a PR is a PR, right?

Here is a picture of our New England Record-Breaking Team!

Alina, Mary, Julie and Cheryl

Up next: the 200 IM. I love love the 200 IM!  The problem I have with it is only that my fly/back combo is far far stronger than my breast/free combo. It kinda sucks to take the race out really well, and then lose it on the back end. Anyway, there were two heats and I was in the second. In my heat was Mike Schmidt. Mike Schmidt can swim a 400 meter free in 4:15. Are you calibrated as to how freaking fast that is? If not, I will simply say that he holds National AG records all over the place--that should help you to understand what I was swimming next to. My goal was to have him NOT LAP ME.

My first hundred felt great. I was seeded last in my heat, but I was far ahead of Julie, who was swimming next to me. Yahoo! But then, alas, came the breaststroke. I lost my lead--and then really really lost it during the free.I finished in 3:05, which in yards would be about a 2:45. Not too bad, but not fantastic for me either. Add to that yes, Mike Schmidt did lap me. Rats.
Still, I love that event.

Next up was the 50 back. Backstroke is by far my best stroke, except for the starts. You are no longer allowed to curl your toes over the gutter when pushing off for a start, and let me tell you, this makes starting very hard. I did a back-flop that was just--well, not pretty. Still, I swam well for me, finishing in 39 seconds, which is about a 35 in yards. Not a PR at all, but not terrible either.

I was pooped after the back. I had swum two hard 200s and the 50, and remember, I had been very restricted in my training leading up to the meet, so I wasn't exactly in tiptop shape here. My last event was the 100 fly. I wasn't sure I even wanted to start it.

But I did. Because really... I love the fly--even if that last length sucks sucks sucks. I swam it in 1:26, which is about a 1:17, again a far cry from any PR, but well, I finished it and I didn't drown on the last length, and that's an accomplishment!

Alina and I had a great time catching up. It's hard that we spend all summer together, and then only get sporadic weekends for the rest of the year.
I swim in another meet next weekend. I can't wait.

Friday, November 12, 2010


I didn't do anything! Really! That's not powdered sugar on my nose... It's not! Ernie did it!


On Wednesday night I met my friend (and athlete) Linda at Prana Power Yoga in Newton. I had no idea what to expect. I hadn't asked what kind of yoga we were doing, or whether we were having class in a hot stuido. I only knew that I needed a mat, a towel, and a water bottle, and that I should leave time to park.

When I entered the studio the blast of hot, moist air totally shocked my system. I couldn't even BE in this room, let alone do funny, hard to manage poses in this room! But now was not the time to bow out. I was here. I was doing this.

The lights were dim. Linda got me a yoga block (not that I knew what to do with it) and we set up our mats. Jacqui, the instructor, began by telling us that yoga was not about perfect poses. Yoga is about connection, she said. 
Easy for you to say, I thought. You already know the poses! But I was quiet.

She began the class. Child pose.... she said. (I think.... Maybe it's called baby pose? I don't remember.)
Anyway, I had no idea what she was talking about. So, I just copied Linda.
My hip flexors. Holy shit. My hip flexors.
Wait? How long are we going to stay here in this pose? Freaking OUCH!
And I was already dripping sweat. Oh Godddd......

I looked at the guy in front of me. He was sweating way worse than me. Plus he looked like there was no way he could be flexible...too big and beefy. If he could do this, I could do this.

We moved into Downward Facing Dog, High Push-up, then something something something.

People were breathing audbily. Then we did three Ohmmmmmmmsssssssssss.
It sounded very cool.

I have always, always been turned off by classes like this. My mind reels, and I wonder what everyone else is thinking. I want out. I could be running, biking... moving my body fast. But this time...

I don't know. Maybe it's because I have aged quite a bit since the last time I attended a yoga class. Maybe it's because this week I have had a lot on my mind, and I have been having trouble sorting it out and putting each thought into its appropriate, contained box. Maybe it's because my mind needed so much to slow down... and my body too.

But -- it was different this time.
I sweated. I ohmmmmmmmed. I sweated. I breathed. I stopped concentrating on everyone else. I tried to quiet my brain.

And it was such a relief.

As I go through life I write in my head.
You may not know what I mean by that...
What I mean is that as I am living something, I am writing it. My mind is always writing things as I experience them. I didn't realize the extent to which I do this until Wednesday night. The very hardest part of the class was to stop writing... to stop describing what was happening--to stop making jokes for my readers' benefit.

But when I was finally able to stop writing I nearly lost myself--and I don't even know quite where I went!

I was literally upset when the class was over. I did not want to leave. I wanted to stay there, sweaty and hot, with my mind only focused on my breath and my body.
But then the lights came on and I started writing in my head again.

I think I'm going back. I want more.


My friend Steve has been doing a ton of trail running, and has encouraged me to try it. I did today. I took the dogs out to the woods. I didn't wear my Garmin. I didn't wear a watch. We just ran.

Hazel was psyched. She stayed right on my heel and only stopped when we met other dogs and she needed/wanted a sniff. Ernie was less agreeable. Several times he just stopped, and sat. I have no idea why... I think he was tired and was like, NOPE! I'm resting. I'm not moving an inch until I am good and ready. But aside from those Ernie moments, we had a great run...
and you know.
It happened again. I stopped writing. I just breathed, I think. I'm not even sure! I think we were going very slowly--maybe not even 10:00 minute miles. But it was peaceful and easy. And it is a gorgeous day. And I felt -- calm. Understand, it is not usual for me to feel calm, or to stop writing my life as I live it.

So maybe the gift in all this is that I have found two things which can help me STOP my brain... my brain which  is in constant motion-which won't stop churning-which won't stop writing.

So ... Vinyasa yoga. Trail running slowly with my dogs.
It might be good. It really might be good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

lasagna, flour, confectioner's sugar, chocolate milk

What do these four foods have in common?

They are all foods that Hazel ate yesterday, without my permission, of course.

Yep, I sure am the pack leader.

She has learned to paw open the cupboard. On the bottom shelf we have cooking supplies, and some bulk stuff for the kids' lunches. Her first steal of the day was the flour, which she quietly extracted from the cupboard and brought to her crate.
You can imagine that mess. Nothing like flour licked into a dog bed. The flour was caked onto her nose, too. It was nasty.

I cleaned that up.

Hours later, it was the sugar. Then a carton of chocolate milk.

At lunch, I warmed myself up a piece of lasagna, and placed it in front of the computer so I could eat while I maintained my active, but nevertheless slightly pathetic, online life. I forgot a glass of water, so I got up to get one. When I came back, the lasagna was gone. She didn't even spill the plate on the floor. She simply sat in my desk chair licking her lips. And my plate was licked clean. I was gone all of 30 seconds.

So, I got myself another plate.
Lest you think I am intelligent, I will now prove you wrong. Once again I got up after placing my lasagna down, this time to get a scrap of paper on which I had scribbled a list of new swim workouts I had created to be entered into Training Peaks.
And once again I came into the room to find Hazel licking her lips. ARGH!

I think Hazel and I need a little intervention from Cesar. I'll let you know if we get on the show.

In other news, I am attending my first yoga class tonight with one of my athletes, Linda. Linda is a big time yogi. I'm definitely worried about looking like an ass. But I'm desperate to work out, and yoga is permitted! So here we go.... Full report at 11.

I wrote a couple of reviews on my Reading It blog. One is on The Rules of Survival which is a young adult novel, so probably not of great interest to you all. The other review is of Raymond Britt's Qualifying for Kona 
Check it out!

I am steadily making it through a list of books I created for my November and December goal of reading a book every 48 hours. If you have a suggestion to add to it, let me know.  I am currently truly a nerd. I miss my athlete self.
I want to publicly thank those friends/sister who have reached out to me in the last week, worried that I have completely gone off my rocker. Thank you.You know me well.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Distract Me

Nothing interferes with my concentration.  You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn't look up.  Well, maybe once.  ~Isaac Asimov

I have intense concentration when I am in pursuit. My pursuits are not always noble, sometimes slightly nonsensical, and almost always based on obtaining something. I enjoy the process of going after so much that I have an incredibly hard time being at peace when I'm not actively going for something or trying to get something. I continue to pursue until I get bored with whatever I am pursuing--but I never give up a pursuit simply because it has eluded me.

And I'm not bored with triathlon. There is still more marrow to suck from it.

But speaking of marrow, I have been slightly derailed here. (Sorry, I seem to be mixing metaphors all over the place today.) The truth is I have been given no restrictions on training; my doctor has given me the green light to continue as I see fit, as long as I cool it if I feel even a twinge of real fatigue or sickness coming on. Nevertheless, there was an orgy set up in my office, and I simply couldn't not look. I couldn't not look at the fact that maybe my intense drive was interfering with my health, and that I'd best not be a dumb fuck if I want to continue with this triathlon game. I aim to get what I want out of triathlon, but she is proving to be a wily one--temperamental about what is enough rest, and what is enough training--and what is the correct balance of both. You can't just go after her with a drive that won't quit and get what you want. You have to play the game her way--which is slightly annoying. But even if I can't go after triathlon with only will and a hammer, that doesn't mean I still can't win.

I thrive on complicated challenges. She hasn't won yet. I'm still in this game.

Sometimes if you really want something the best thing to do is to ignore it for a bit. The more you ignore, the more power you obtain, until the thing you desire actually starts to come to you instead of the other way around. But it's a waiting game, and it takes total confidence. I realize if I want to win this game I have to back off and wait for it to come to me. 

So what does that look like?

It means that while I watch those around me getting revved up for IMLP already--running and swimming and biking like the race is coming in three months, not eight, I need to chill out. I need to bide my time. I need to turn my attention elsewhere, and then when the time is right, triathlon will tip-toe up to me, tap on my shoulder, and admit she misses me and is willing to play hard again.

Until then, I need other challenges to hold my attention.  
So, for November, here they are:

1. I will read at least one book every 48 hours for the next month.
2. I will write about every tri/running/swimming book I can remember reading on my Reading It blog before 11/30/10.
3. I will read with my kids every single day until Christmas.
4. I will walk my puppies one and a half hours a day. (Actually, that is a goal I have long term. They need it. I need it. It is essential.)

Today the family came for the walk. Because I think my kids and puppies are so damn cute, I leave you with a few pictures.
Hazel is winning the race.
Playing Chase
Climbing Rocks
 Hazel obeying STAY. (I think she's a little pissed, though.)
Bow down to me, the almighty Ernie.
Those are the distract me goals for November--and actually most of December, too.
And at the New Year? I'll Be Back, Baby. I'll be Back.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Allusions/ Illusions.

I don't agree with T.S. Eliot that April is the cruelest month. November is the cruelest by far. It's dark, it's rainy, everything is dying in this beautiful kind of way, and every day you feel more and more bound to the indoors. You want to cuddle up and hibernate. I always feel this dark emotional ache in November.

Anyway. I am just MRSINAFUNK. It is so unattractive. I miss my summer self--tanned, beach-bound and insouciant. Okay, whatever, I am rarely insouciant. Let me dream, here.

I'm done with thinking about this blood chemistry shit. I feel fine. I don't feel tired. Sure, I need to rest for the next month, but that doesn't mean that I have to sit on my ass. I'm going to continue to swim and do Masters. I will continue to do a few easy runs and rides.  And after I blink a few times it will be Thanksgiving, and then it will be after Thanksgiving. And then I will have my blood drawn again and discover that I AM FINE.

That's the deal, and I will hear none other.

My esteem appears to be in the shitter right now, which I don't quite understand. Is my ego really so fragile that it can only take one little hit before it retreats-- tail between its legs--like how could you EVER have thought you were so tough and cool?

I feel like transforming myself like Salander did at the end of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I want money, and tons of it, a blond wig, new tits and to go south to the sun, where I can read all day and get myself a teenage lover who totally worships me. Larsson really knew how to create the perfect fantasy, huh? Either that or I want to wake up Blomkvist, fully realized and strong and good, with women swooning over me even though I am clearly just your everyday strong, cool, smart guy. Or maybe best of all would be to be Erika. She can have her husband AND her lover and everyone is just peachy about the whole thing. Maybe I just need to stay me and move to Sweden?

Sorry, I realize that whole paragraph was lost on those who have not read that trilogy.

In short, I want to feel vivacious, dramatic, wanted, and ALIVE! What a drag to be on the computer, staring out at the rain, knowing that if I whale on my body at all it may crumble in its infection-vulnerable weakling state.

What a drag it is getting old....
The pursuit of happiness just seems a bore....

My little yellow pills come in the form of sweat and exertion...
I need some help getting through my busy dying day!

At least I feel better today than yesterday's Landslide. When I start quoting Stevie Nicks you know things are really bad in Mary-ville.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I've always worked very, very hard, and the harder I worked, the luckier I got.  --Alan Bond

I haven't always worked hard. I discovered it later than many people, actually. When I was younger I very much believed things were pre-determined. You were athletic, or you weren't, you were a straight A student, or you weren't,  you were blessed with a great body, or you weren't, you were liked by people, or you weren't.

None of those things had to do with hard work in my mind. They were genetically bestowed or denied gifts, and there was little, if anything, one could do about that. I think I began to change this view sometime in college, though I'm not exactly sure what inspired this change in thinking. I began to work hard at a few things--or at least harder than I had before--and amazingly, I began to do better at them.  Imagine that!

By the time I hit my late twenties, I was a full convert. I began to believe that everything was based on hard work, that luck -- chance-- serendipity were made not given. I became aggressive about my goals, and the more aggressive and hard working I became, the more I was rewarded with results I never dreamed would be mine. I could run fast.  I could nail the GRES and get a 4.0 and be accepted to do doctoral work. I could be a master gardener before I hit 30. I could dance with the best of them when Jitterbugging... (really, I used to be very into Lindy Hop.. and I was good!)

Anyway. What is my point? 

I've written about this before. It is something that kinda plagues me these days. My problem is that I can no longer leave things to chance. I have trained myself to play my hand up front--to lay myself bare with hard work and intention. I scoff when I'm told to be patient or to wait and see. Patience is for those people who haven't learned that it is ALL up to you. You just do it--you work hard at it--or you won't get what you want. It's that simple.

I had my blood drawn again on Tuesday. My doctor called me that night to tell me that my white blood cell count was slightly better, but still very low. I'm susceptible to infection right now, and I can't allow myself to get run down. At all.

Panic set in and so I asked, Okay, what is the next step? What do we do now?

And she said,  We wait. We test again in four weeks. Your body needs more rest and more time. Give your body a chance, Mary. 

And I keep thinking, Did I do this? Was it my hard work that caused my bone marrow to stop working effectively? 

Did my hard work betray me? 

It's hard to keep the faith when you don't have any faith to start with--except the faith in your own hard work to make it right.

I climbed this mountain-- and now I'm being forced to turn around. Funny how that works.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Crossing Over

Last spring when I was riding a million hours a week in prep for CDA, I decided that in the fall I would NOT ride my tri bike at all. I would take up cross. I would take up mountain biking. I wouldn't just be a woman riding solo on the roads, I would be a woman riding solo on trails, too.  And on the weekends I would be one of the super cool chicks who can hop on and off her bike without mutilating her lady parts and who can do 180's on her bike without tipping over and who can leap over hurdles like WonderWoman.

Alas, none of that came to pass. I never got a cross or mountain bike, I still get on and off the bike like a granny (actually, I bet there are some grannies who get off and on their bikes better than I do), and I still experience near cardiac arrest when I must make a sharp turn, let alone a 180.

The one thing I DID do this fall, though, is get out to SEE a cross race. At least I can say that. This weekend I went to Canton to see Cross in action. The race in Canton was a good race to watch because I knew three people racing: Donna, Solobreak and Kurt. I missed Donna race, which I am pissed about, but Lara had her last soccer game in the morning, and that was that. I got to see Dave (Solobreak) and Kurt race, though, so that was good.

After Lara's game, Andy and I packed up the kids and pups and headed to Canton. When we arrived, we immediately met another dog mom (and kid mom), there to watch her husband race. Her puppy was a 7 month-old yellow lab named Daisy. Our dogs fell in love with playing with eachother, and so I spent the rest of the time hanging out with this woman (Suzanne). That was fun. I love having new friends, and she was very cool.

Suzanne is a veteran cross watcher, and so she told us exactly what was happening, who to watch, and where to watch from.  The racing turned out to be far different than what I had imagined. I imagined people riding in packs, and it definitely wasn't that way. Riders were spread out--with the leaders far far ahead of the last racers. The race was much slower than I thought it would be, too. I am used to watching bikes zoom by, as they do in triathlon, but in cross the riding is more careful because of the grass, hills, turns, barriers. It is also just--quieter. No noisy Zipp discs--just quiet riding and heavy breathing. I marveled at the way the riders got on and off their bikes so easily. Especially the really good riders made it look seamless. It is also a very laid back scene compared to triathlon. I'm not sure exactly what made it feel that way.. but there were a few key aspects, I think: fewer people, spread out over a bunch of different races, some nice looking bikes, but no showy bikes, some kits, but also people riding in jeans, no major finish line with a big fat ribbon, no blaring music, fewer spectators, more mutts and fewer expensive looking dogs. I liked it. I think I am more of high strung triathlete type in the end, but I still liked it.

I'm not sure where Dave placed (have to still check his blog), but I know he was right up there from watching. I only got to talk to him for a second after his race because he was warming down on his trainer, and I wanted to watch the next race. Kurt placed 3rd in 35+. Suzanne's husband, Mark, placed first in Kurt's race. I guess he used to be a pro... and clearly he is still very good!  It was fun to know and watch a few of the super good riders, I must say. Dave keeps telling me to try Cross, but I am afraid on so many fronts, not the least of which is that I don't want to be D.F.L.

Okay, enough on that. let's talk swimming.
Right now my running sucks. So does my biking. I don't really feel much like doing either of them because I suck so bad right now.

But swimming... ahhhh. 
Joining Masters was like finding that special potion that when consumed makes you leap in your fitness beyond your wildest dreams.
Okay, maybe that is a little extreme... but really, if you are on the fence about joining Masters,you should. It works. I have actually made more gains in my swimming in the last three weeks than I have in the last three years of swimming on my own.

Why is this?

I'm not positive, but I think it is simply that when you swim with other people you are constantly worried that you will FAIL in front of them, and fall behind. This worry provides you with the energy you need to make sure that does not happen.  Once you have gotten over your fear (takes a few practices) then you start getting competitive. 

For example, last Friday I swam with a few guys and a girl who I now know. When I swim with this group, I lead the lane. At least I led the lane until last Friday. On Friday Ken arrived. He hadn't been there in awhile... at least not since I arrived on the scene and started leading the lane.  So he went ahead of me. This lasted for all of warm up and for the first set.

I was polite. I did not swim up his ass or yank his ankle or SCREAM WTF, you know and I know you are slower than me! Move over!

I did not do that. 

On the second set, though, I did say with a smile, Do you want to lead this set?
I'm not sure he knew how to respond. so he said, Well, I have been out for awhile and I'm not as fast as I usually am. What do you want to do this next set on per 100? 1:30s?
I smiled sweetly. No, I'd like to do them on 1:15. (the set was 2 x 300, 2x 150, 100 hard 100 easy, repeat.)
But it's okay! I said. I don't mind leading... Really, it's fine. 

So I led. And I kicked his ass so badly on the 300s that I finished each one while he had more than 25 still to go. I am pretty sure I have NEVER swum that fast in practice. I was finishing the 300s in well under 4 minutes, which is fast for me.

So, this was all good until the end of practice. I was speedy, and Ken didn't catch me--not even close. As icing on the cake, after practice Ken asked if I was planning to swim in the BU meet coming up and said welcome to our club. 

But then the coach caught me as I was walking to the locker room. 
Next practice, he said, you're moving up a lane.


Anyway, that is how Masters makes you faster. Or, at least, it's why it has made ME faster.

I have a few meets coming up and I'm psyched to see how I do. The problem is that I will be swimming in a basic swim suit rather than the speed suits we were allowed to wear last year--so even if I am faster, my times might not actually be faster. But I hope they will be.