Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I have not posted much this month. It was a busy month. I am also battling a bad case of the borings. If feel boring, I am acting boring, I look boring. My thoughts are boring.

I'm boring myself.

It's a drag.

In January I will be super interesting. I can't stay this boring forever.

(can i?)

Today when I was on the bike (trainer) I was watching the 2010 Kona video. In it one of the pro athletes was commenting on how he wasn't sure Macca had the fight in him to win the race this year. Macca seemed content in his life, he said, and therefore he questioned whether he had the fire to win. Last year I remember Macca making the very same comment about Stadler and Al-Sultan--that they were content in their lives-- and that somehow the fact that they were "at peace" meant they were may not be contenders in the way they once were.

Do you think that's true?

Obviously it was not true for Chris McCormack--by which I mean not that he is not content in his life (I have no idea about something like that) but that he clearly still had some fire come race day....

But in general, is it true? Do we peform our best in sport when we are NOT balanced? Not content?
Are being at peace and winning at odds with one another?

There is a lot of talk in triathlon circles about how it is not just the stress of training that matters when attempting to keep our bodies healthy, but the stress of our lives combined with the stress of training. If we are struggling--with a relationship, with a job (or lack of one), with sickness--then we are less able to train well (supposedly) and more likely to race poorly. Right? But that thinking is in direct opposition to the position that fire comes from discontent; that without discontent we are not mentally fit to win.

Just as an exercise, I tried to figure out when I have raced my best.

And you know what? I think the race in which I performed best in my tri career (thus far) came at a time in which I was in extreme personal turmoil. Of course, I have also performed well when I was at peace (or relative peace) in my personal life.  So go figure.

I can think of two reasons that race went so well: one, I was super small. (stress-induced smallness) and two, I was so overwrought that I was unable to over-analyze my race. I just raced.

Anyway. I am not exactly quite sure where I am going with this. Perhaps I am too boring right now to be particularly insightful. But I'm interested in what you think. Does peak performance require a background of discontent? or can we perform our best when the stars are all aligned in our lives?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Aftermath

Well, it had the makings of a good, yummy Christmas. I filled the stockings with candy, chocolates, and candy canes.  I  planned a steak dinner with creamy mashed potatoes and salad for Christmas Eve and spaghetti and meatballs for Christmas Day (the kid's favorite). I had sliced pineapple, scallops wrapped in bacon, yummy cheeses to go on gourmet crackers and prosciutto wrapped mozzarella to serve as hors d'œuvres while we opened presents and drank juice (kids) or wine (me) or beer (Andy). Jordan, my little chef, was planning the desserts: sugar cookies for Santa, and a huge, rich chocolate cake with three different choices of ice cream on Christmas day.

On Thursday Jordan was home with a very violent stomach flu.

You know where this is going....

I succumbed at about 10 p.m on Christmas Eve. Andy followed at 5 a.m. on Christmas Day. Lara was next, then Noah.  It was a swell Christmas. Lots and lots of puke and liquid shit to go around for everyone. Ho Ho Ho! Merrrrrrrrry Christmas!! 

In the days of the plague it was customary to place a large red X on the door of a home with an infected victim, so all would know to stay away. Weeks later, men dressed in masks stuffed with lavender (to stave off the smell) would enter the house and haul out the dead.  I felt we should have had a red X on our door yesterday. It was that ugly.

We still aren't eating... none of us. Andy went out and got popsicles for the kids to suck on this morning. We have all managed a few crackers. Until just recently Lara slept by the toilet, head to the cold bathroom floor.  And so...

Jordan and I did get out of the sick house at about 3 pm yesterday to take the dogs for a walk in the woods. It was great to breathe fresh, cold air. The other weren't well enough to go. Sadly, that walk was the highlight of my Christmas--as close to the 10 mile Christmas run in the snow as I was going to get.

But wait, actually.... a quiet walk in the snowy woods with your interesting, sweet, gorgeous daughter and your adorable dogs (who, btw, were more than happy to help clean up throw up--gotta love dogs) is actually not sad at all... so I take that back. A walk like that would likely have been the highlight of my Christmas whether we had all been well or not.

The kids, in between bouts of barf, managed to open all of their presents. They are well enough today (except Lara, poor little bug) to attempt skating on their new roller blades in the basement. For Christmas, Andy got me a laptop, on which I write right now. In my stocking he gave me a Starbucks gift card and a chocolate chip scone. This was my writer's gift.... my dream... eating scones, drinking coffee, writing on my own laptop--not one shared with my Webkinz obsessed progeny. A perfect gift.


I don't do well when I get derailed from my plans. Christmas was supposed go a certain way. It didn't go that way--at all. This left me feeling hollow. My plans--my plans--! In ruins before me! The fact that I have such a hard time when things don't go as I imagine they should likely makes me a tad unlikeable. It is something I have tried to change, but it remains a constant of who I am.

This happens to me with workouts as well. On Saturday and Sunday of this week I was supposed to be finishing off my third week of training before a rest week. I awoke this morning all in a tizzy. What should I do? I had deviated from the plan! Should I try to get in my bike workout today even though I am still a little ill? Should I move the workouts I had to miss on Saturday and Sunday to Monday and Tuesday of this week even though it should be a rest week?  I needed that long run on Christmas--I have a 16 mile road race coming up at the end of January and I am only up to about 10 slow miles. What do I do!

This is, of course, where having a coach comes in. I seem to be able to see clearly what my athletes should do in a situation like this (ahem... rest/get well) but I seem to be incapable of applying the same logic to my own training. Luckily I do have a coach, and luckily she always seems to be there for me--the day following Christmas or not--and luckily, she sets me straight. I will rest today, rest for this week, and maybe end my rest week a few days early so I can get in a long run this weekend. Of course that's the logical plan. If I try to work out now what good will it do? I can still barely eat a cracker...

The thing is that like you--that like so many of my athletes--I want to execute my training flawlessly. I want to do every workout exactly as it's written for me, and on the day it's prescribed.  It is the only path to success that I know... to be rigid and ruthless in my application of the plan before me.

Life-- it gets in the way of perfect execution, doesn't it?

There is a line in the 2009 NBC production of the IM World Championship in which the narrative voice announces, Craig Alexander just executed the perfect race.... The same could be said for Macca this year, actually. But how often does that happen? It was worthy of saying only because it is so unusual to be able to execute anything perfectly. Alexander or McCormack may even argue that they didn't execute their races perfectly.  I am fairly certain things happened along the way to their victories that they hadn't planned on, that they had to overcome. In the end the appearance was of perfection--after all--they WON. But does perfect execution of anything even really exist?

The idea that perfect execution may be impossible should be comforting. Of course it's not how well we execute that matters, but how we deal with it when things get in the way of our perfect execution. For me, spilling my anxiety to Jen, telling her what I was tempted to do and then having her gently set me straight, is as close as I can come to perfect execution this time around. It would've been better if I hadn't gotten sick--if my whole family hadn't gotten sick. But we did get sick, and that is that.

Life is like that. Sometimes you get sick on Christmas. Sometimes you get injured when training for a race. Sometimes little things stand in your way of getting done what you need and want to get done. Sometimes very big things get in the way of getting done what you need and what to get done.

I guess the only real truth here is that something will always be in the way. And you can't always remove that thing.   In fact--usually you can't. You simply have to figure out the best way through it or around it or despite it.  It's the only control we have: the power and will to navigate well when we are derailed--in sport, and in life.

I hope you had a barf-free Christmas!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Boston Weekend

I had a nutty, nutty week. My workout hours have increased. Combined with the Christmas preparation/obligations/child festivities,  I became downright batty. On Wednesday my kids came home early from a half day at school. I decided to take them to lunch at our favorite diner and then to Christmas shop for each other and their dad. I sent them outside to get in the car. They were taken by the one centimeter of snow we had, though, and instead of climbing in the car, went to play in the backyard. I locked up the house, got in the car, and drove off.

I did not realize for five minutes that I did not have them.
Finally, I turned around in my seat and said, "You guys are so quiet!" and observed an empty back seat.

GO ME!  They were super freaked out by the time I got back, but luckily Jordan didn't call 911. That would have been fun to explain. "No officer, I'm not wasted, I'm just a total space shot. This is just the way I am." 


On Saturday afternoon I escaped my workouts and duties and went into Boston with two of my friends, Liz and Kirsten. We had a great 24 hours. First we shopped a bit, then we had spa treatments. (I had a very relaxing facial. Love those.) Then we changed and went to dinner in the South End at Meyers & Chang.

me, Liz, Kirsten.

Here we are at the restaurant. The restaurant was so good and I had way too much to eat. Kirsten got coconut cream pie for dessert--have I mentioned how much I love cream pies of any variety? After dinner we went to a huge party in the theater district. I was very unsure I wanted to go to this party. We knew no one, and it was a fancy schmancy kind of thing. I was also totally worried we would be the oldest women there--and the only wives/mommies.

I did not have to fear that. Turns out, I was so completely out of my element at this party that I did not have to fear anything! There were actually plenty of women our age, and plenty of men our age too. But I have never felt so out of place.

I knew we were in trouble when waiting in line to get in. The women around us looked to be straight out of porn magazines. I kid you not. There were women dressed in little, teeny hot shorts and spiked heels, girls decked in little Santa outfits with Lycra skirts up over their asses and boobs spilling out of plunging necklines. There was bleached blond hair, boots extending up and over the knee with massively spiked heels, fake nails, garters showing, whitened teeth, fishnets....


I thought I looked fairly decent in my little black dress and tall black boots. Ummmmm.....
Apparently things have changed slightly since the last time I was out on the town. I did know that the fashion had to become to reveal more.... but I had no idea that women were now dressing straight out of Playboy.
I find nothing wrong with dressing that way... don't get me wrong. It was FASCINATING to watch. What I found strange, though, was that the men have not changed since I was last out. The men were just in jackets and ties--like always--and none of them seemed the least aghast at the near-nude sexiness of the women around them. Have they all been totally desensitized at this point? Do they have special pants that mask hard-ons?

We watched the women from the balcony for quite a long time. I was totally intrigued. Some women had fantastic bodies... but not all of them. Not at all. That didn't seem to matter. When I was growing up you did NOT reveal unless you were close to perfection. That is just not the way it is anymore. You can dress in fishnets and spiked boots and mini-skirts that barely barely cover the ass, even if your ass is really quite ample. It's actually pretty cool.

We stayed for a bit, had a drink, and then walked back to the hotel bar where I had another yummy glass of wine and some funky chocolate dessert. If you can't compete with the porn-star babes, at least you can eat chocolate--that's what I always say.

In the morning I (surprise) went running, and then we had a big, yummy hotel breakfast. Then more shopping.
Then back to reality.

It was a fabulously indulgent 24 hours.

Here we are just before completing our final shopping.

This morning I am back at the craziness. I find it super hard to get in all the workouts during this time of year, but so far I haven't missed any. I forget my kids when we go out to lunch, sure, but I have not missed a workout... ;)
I'm finally seeing some progress in terms of getting back in shape on the run and bike. I have NO interest in swimming right now, though, and have had to force myself to go to the pool. In fact, as I write I am procrastinating getting in today's swim....

Sorry I haven't been reading blogs or posting much. It's a busy time!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gosh Darn It. and so on.

First, a report on the Myers Briggs Typology stuff.  I am up to 58 responders! I'd love to have a 100... wouldn't that be a good sample size? But I would settle for just a few more... Of interest, I still only have three people who identify themselves as "P" types. Remember, Ps and Js are supposedly split 50/50 in the U.S.--yet just 5% of our population are Ps. In the lead right now for type are the ENFJ's (12), then ISTJ's (10), INFJ and INTJ (both 7) and then the ESTJ and ESFJ (both 6). We still have no representatives of types ESFP, ESTP, INTP, ISTP or  ENTP. Are you Ps out there and just not responding, or is it that you don't exist in our selected population?


Last month my friend Steve sent me a note in which he invoked S&G's famous lyric, "Slow down, you move too fast. You've got to make the good times last."  I love imagining Steve crooning "Feeling Groovy..." Those who know Steve will appreciate that image!  Hi Steve! But I digress. I bring this up only because Steve is one of many people who recently have told me I am trying to do too much, too fast, and that I need to slow down.  In fact, I just got a comment this morning on my blog from my friend Jeff who cried Stop, Stop, Stop! It took me off guard. Stop? But it was just a swim meet!

I have always been a person who wanted to do everything. Even when I was young it seemed that life whizzed by, and I only had so long to master the plethora of things that seemed interesting to me. In high school I danced on the American Ballet East Corp--which included doing jazz,  tap, and (of course) ballet, I swam on the H.S. team, I was really into drama and acted in and directed plays, I played French Horn, trumpet and piano, I was on the student council, and I was extremely social and a huge flirt. (Yes, boys CAN be a hobby...) Yep, even then I did too much. But back then, though I struggled hugely with self confidence, I remember feeling quite sure that I was actually quite good at what I chose to do. I wasn't the best dancer, but I had made it onto the corp and danced the best parts each year in The Nutcracker, I wasn't the best French Hornest, but I was second chair, I wasn't the best swimmer, but I made it to States each year, and I think I actually did believe I was the best actress! and so on....

But as I've gotten older I've wanted to master the things I take on. It's not enough to just do what seems interesting and have fun with it, believing that I am quite good and that being quite good is good enough.

Since my early 20's:
  • It's not good enough to just run, I must run marathons and qualify for Boston
  • It's not good enough to love to read, I must get a doctorate in English from a prestigious university.
  • It's not good enough to like flowers, and to garden, I must be a master in horticulture, and know the common and Latin name for every cultivated flower, wildflower, and tree.
  • It's not good enough to write, I must publish.
  • It's not good enough to swim in a Masters meet, I need to be at the top of my AG.
  • It's not good enough to practice yoga, I must be able to do Firefly pose.
  • It's not good enough to be a triathlete, I have to do an Ironman.
  • It's not good enough to do an Ironman, I have to make it to Kona and be ranked in the top 1% of my AG nationally.

and then a few more kickers:

  • It's not good enough to be a parent with good kids. I must be a parent who has done everything right by her kids, including correcting my daughter's amblyopia, my son's ADHD.
  • It' s not good enough to have a nice house. That house has to be clean and tidy, tastefully decorated and filled with books and art and cooking supplies and no TV.
  • It's not good enough to have sweet puppies. I must walk them1.5 hours a day and make them totally well-behaved and make sure I clean up every piece of shit they leave in the yard.

and most horrible and annoying and pathetic of all:

  • It's not good enough that I am fit and lucid and healthy at 40. I must be hot, desired by men and sought after for friendship by women. I must be stronger than you, wiser than you, wittier than you, and more realized than you.  I must be. Or I am...

not of worth.

(I can hear Alina in the background chanting, I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and Gosh Darn It! People like me!) 

It doesn't end. And though it is hyperbolic to even think it, I feel tortured. And to be perfectly frank, I am unsure how to get out of this self-inflicted prison cell.

So -- I see it. I see that I need to slow down, that I move too fast. That I am not even SEEING the good times let allowing trying to make them last. But it's not that easy to let go.  Because If I do, will I be a shadow of this self I have worked so f-ing hard to create?

I am heavier, slower and less motivated than I have been for a very very long time. If I give in; if I just make some pigs-in-a-blanket and eat them all in one sitting--will it be all over for me?

Or will it just be the beginning?
Anyway, I'm too scared to find out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Swim Meet!

On Saturday and Sunday I competed in the Short Course Meters Championship (SCMC) at Boston University. I had a great time, mainly because I got to hang out with my Mainely friends, but I did not have an especially fast meet. For those of you not in the know, a short course meters meet is a meet swum in a pool that is 25 meters long. (makes sense... :) However, in the winter in the United States most Masters swimmers train and compete in 25 YARD pools. We are, of course, the only country around that competes in yards instead of meters most of the time. Canadians and Europeans swim almost exclusively in metered pools, but for Americans, swimming in meters is somewhat of a novelty. We spend the meet converting times in our heads meters to yards to see how we are actually doing according to a measure we know!

I had an ambitious schedule for the meet. I signed up for the 100 fly, the 100 IM, the 100 back, the 200 IM, the 200 back, and the 200 free. I was also asked to swim in a 200 free relay and in a 400 medley relay. (I swam back.)

I think I may have bit off just a little too much... (ya think? ) Over 1000 yards of all-out sprinting in one weekend is.... taxing. It is especially taxing if you are not in particularly good shape.  It is most of taxing of all if you aren't in good shape AND you trained quite a bit of bike/run right up until the day of the meet--bike/run which took more out of you than usual because you are, well, out of shape!

One final bummer... speedsuits are no longer legal at Masters events. I wore a speedsuit last year at this meet. Speedsuits make you -- speedy. Regular swim suits make you -- not so speedy.  Ahhh well.....

Instead of giving you a play by play of each indiviudal event, I will give you a little synopsis of each event in a series of haiku:

Day 1

Four lengths butterfly
First 50--great! Second sucked.
What did I expect?

(100 fly--1:28 in meters--about a 1:18 in yards.)

Next up the IM
Heat with DeDe Greisbauer
Who so kicked my ass

(100 IM--1:26 in meters about a 1:17 in yards. DeDe went 1:16.)

The 200 back?
How do you pace that fucker?
But I missed no turns!

(200 back--3:01 in meters, about a 2:40 in yards.)

Four hundred medley
I'm already soooooo tired
chug kick chug kick kick

(100 back in 400 medley relay--1:26, about a 1:15 in yards)

One last 50 now!
Air! Air! Hypoxia sucks!
But our relay won...

(200 free relay--34 for 50 free--about a 30.5 in yards.)

Day 2

Seeded way too fast
Time to beat high school Mary!
Taste youth; vomit now.

(100 back, 1:26, about a 1:15 in yards.)

A splitting headache
Oh my God-- I cannot swim
Please let me stop now!

(200 free. wanted to scratch but Zack, our Maine "captain" convinced me to do it. 2:50, about a 2:31 in yards. Five seconds slower than just last month..... Fadinnggggg fasssttttttt.....)

200 IM
Oh! My favorite event
Too bad -- Nothing left.

(200 IM, felt super barfy. 3:13 in meters--about a 2:50 in yards. Not my best event! I went 10 seconds faster last month! eek!)

Okay, so I guess that poetic form doesn't leave much in the way of description, but I bet you got the gist. The most fun part of those big meets is watching the super awesome swimmers. I witnessed some amazing swimming by some whom I know, and some I've never met.  It is humbling to swim in championship meets like this one. I am very used to placing quite well in my AG. Today I had several finishes that put me close to last in my AG!

I love hanging out with the awesome people who swim for Maine Masters, especially Alina. Doing these meets is most worth it because I get to see her swim--and she is a truly beautiful and amazingly fast swimmer.  She broke a National record with three other Mainers in the 200 free relay. I think her split was a 27--translated to yards like a high 24. Yep. Fast.

In March I will swim in the short course YARDS championship at Harvard. My goal is to swim either the 200 fly or the 400 IM -- or both. I have never swum either of those events. I can currently barely swim the 100 fly in a meet! But that is my goal, and it will be fun to meet it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Getting Stronger--Like Firefly

I'm not gettin' any skinnier these days. It would be nice if I could shave off a few of those pounds I gained in my ten weeks off--but I'm not losing sleep about my rotund belly.  Nope, not me!
(cough. sputter. Well, ummm, yet.)

But I am getting ripped...And it's not from lifting. Or from doing TRX. or kettleball. or CrossFit.

It's from doing yoga.

I'm going to admit something here. I always thought yoga was a wimpy girl way to keep in shape. I knew it was good in terms of gaining flexibility and helping you to breathe deeply and ohmmmm and stuff.  But it wasn't anything I thought might be challenging enough to actually shape my body.  I assumed yoga didn't break you down and make you suffer--and, well, I only really have respect for things that break you down and make you suffer. (I'm kidding.  I have respect for reading, for example, and that doesn't break you down and make you suffer, right? Actually, I suppose that depends on what you are reading....)

I wasn't that wrong about yoga.  Yoga doesn't break your body down, and though sometimes you are required to dig deep--even suffer--it's not the same as the suffering and digging deep involved in racing triathlon.

However, what I've learned is that yoga is not easy. It's not easy, and it's challenging me in ways I need to be challenged. It requires emptying my mind; it requires focus, balance, control and strength. 

Adding to its merits is that it doesn't mean anything in terms of triathlon. If I can ever manage to do, say, firefly pose, triathlon doesn't care. I will not be a faster triathlete if I can do firefly pose. However, I might become a stronger triathlete if I keep trying to achieve firefly pose. For those of you wondering, this is firefly pose:

And there it is. Yoga is not measuring how far I've come. I need to be averaging 1:15 pace for my threshold 100s in the pool by April if I want to get close to swimming one hour for the swim at Lake Placid. But if I can't do firefly pose by April, it doesn't matter. It only matters that I keep trying to do firefly pose, because doing so will force me to work on my focus, my balance, control (oh... that is a big one for me) and strength.

Isn't that beautiful?

Not only that, but I also really dig chivasana at the end of class. I love it so much I've tried to do chivasana at the end of all my workouts. So far the closest I've come is floating silently in the water after a swim.  I'm sure it thrills the people waiting for a lane that I feel the need to float instead of just getting my ass out of the pool.

More on the MBTI stuff in my next post. You have all been awesome about responding. Thank you. If any of you have NOT taken the test or have not told me your type, then do so! I am still collecting responses. Gracias.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Making lists calms me.

Unfortunately, I lose nearly every list I make so nothing on my lists ever get done.

This is likely why I have time to keep a blog. I know there are about 150 things I need to do, but having lost the list I made last night already, I can't quite remember what they are.  This makes me feel slightly panicky, but not so panicky that I can't write a quick post first--before I make yet another list.

One thing I never forget are the workouts I'm supposed to do for any given day. I constantly write future days out in my mind trying to figure out where the workout(s) are going to fit. This is likely why my workouts usually get done, but the laundry and grocery shopping rarely do. Oh, that reminds me.... grocery shopping was definitely on that list. I think we might be down to only a few cans of soup in the cupboard. Actually, I don't even think we have soup. We might have a can of pumpkin for a pie I never made...

Yoga is not helping me with keeping lists. The more I do it, and the more I'm asked to be in the present and let go, the more I do just that. I work hard in class to let go of the lists... and therefore less and less seems to be getting done lately. I think there might be a problem here.

Add to all of this that I think one of the first things I'm noticing about getting older (aside from wrinkles and gray hairs) is that I require more sleep than I used to, and more recovery time. This means there is less time to remember what is on my lists. I got up very early two mornings in a row to work out this week, and by last night I was completely exhausted. I didn't set my alarm for this morning, and was shocked when I didn't wake until 7:45 a.m., which gave me exactly 25 minutes to get the kids ready and on the bus. I used to be able to get up four mornings a week, work all day, and do all my workouts, and that was only a few years ago. What is going on? I'm I just becoming a wuss, or is this an age thing?

The one list I never forget is my list for Santa. I gave it to Andy yesterday, and I kid you not when I say the list was 20 items long. Unfortunately, Andy sort of laughed at my list, which included such things as a new tri bike, a move to Maine, and a tropical vacation. It is most unfortunate that he does not take that list more seriously. I mean I take it seriously....

In the last few weeks I have become slightly more fit, and slightly stronger. I am intimidated by how much I lost when resting and how far I now have to go, but I'm trying super hard to be cool about that. Another list I actually don't usually forget is my list of goals for next season... they loom above my head like candy I can't quite yet reach.


This has nothing to do with lists. It is a totally random request. If you are familiar with the Myers Briggs typology, will you leave me your type in a comment on my blog? I have a theory about personality and those who read blogs, keep blogs and also those who are obsessed with running/triathlon/swimming/biking. I think it might be interesting to develop a coaching protocol based on typology.
My type (because I just know you are interested) is ENFJ. I teeter with being an ENFP or an INFJ, however, depending on the day and the mood I am in.
If you don't know what you are, then you can go here to take a quick online test, which is not quite accurate, but will suffice for purposes of this experiment. Come on, just take the test. You're reading my blog right now to procrastinate at work... what's a few more mintues?
If I know you well  you can email me offline and I will tell you what type you are--or what type I think you are--and then we can see if it matches up with what you think you are.

Happy Thursday. Time to make a list.