Wednesday, June 22, 2011

You Say It's Your Birthday!

It's my birthday too, ya!

Okay.. what's weird about today is that I know many many who share this b-day. One is Molly. If you get a chance go and say Happy Birthday on her blog, and also wish her the best at IM CDA this weekend!

So, I continue my trend of not posting often.

I think you might be actually grateful about this if you knew how boring the contents of my brain are of late. Mostly I think about the cracks, and how many things are close to falling through them. The minutiae one must remember come the end of the school year (especially when one has three elementary kids) is quite astounding. Field trips for which one must prepare bag lunches, sunscreen and a water bottle for field day, the piano concert, the band concert, the final soccer game to which you must bring Popsicles, thank you cards for teachers, teacher gifts, bus driver gifts, birthday parties galore (for which you must get presents), end of the year poetry readings, or book sharing, or the end of the year class party to which you are invited! Man, it's relentless and intimidating. I feel at any moment I will forget something.... and appear the negligent parent with the poor, lost neglected child.

Then there's Lara's bday, my mom's bday, Father's Day, my sister's bday, my bday... training camp next week -- must pack! and then train train train train ... the hours are UP THERE as I move toward the final build for IMLP. And the dogs have kennel cough, and Hazel ate a plate of brownies and was literally up ALL night barking and going bananas, as if she had just snorted Coke or something.... etc etc and so on.

So, there you have the contents of my brain.

Last weekend we went to Maine to celebrate my mom's birthday. I will add here that she is basically the hottest 70-year-old you will meet. Really. She's always been pretty, but she is also in shape and sharp, and just all around amazing in the smoking grandma department.

Here are a few photos from the weekend. I'm a little dismayed at how my super cool empire waist dress makes me look slightly pregnants. But other than that, these are some good pics of the Holts.

Andy and Lara

Andy and Me

AJ, my brother, Jordan, my brother, Dad, Mom, Laura, my sister, me, and Christina, my sister

We had a nice little party for mom, and took pictures to document how awesomely cute all of our children are...

And I had a nice run up in Maine. Nothing like the smell of honeysuckle and salt water. Just awesome.

In other news, I dyed my hair brown. It was blondish/gold for a long time, and the thing is, I was just sick of it. I figure I'm nearly at the time when I can no longer just have BROWN hair, b/c I am just starting to find white hairs here and there (okay FINE, I have been finding them for quite awhile now!). Soon, I will have to highlight to hide all of the white. You know?

These are the kinds of things I think about... 
truly vacant.

And now, it's time to finish drinking my burnt coffee, and then get my ass out on the bike before the half day bus roars to a stop in front of my house and lets off my little wonders. 

One last thing, Hazel's licking Ernie's privates as he lies there in ecstasy. Seriously, he is lying on his back, paws in the air, head back and mouth open. She's literally slurping. This is disturbing to me.
I figure I should leave you with at least one distinct image before you click on out of here... :)

And Happy 41 to me!

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Won't Be Long

I keep going missing.
I have an excuse. I'm training. And when I'm not training I'm thinking about training, or planning someone's else training, or re-planning my own training, or questioning my coach about my training, or reading about training.

I'm an extremely interesting person, don't you think?

I remember a long, long time ago I thought it was an amazing achievement to run 20 miles in one week. This really was a long time ago... like when I was still in college. I remember I kept a log of my running, and I distinctly remember hitting 20 miles one week and being in total awe. I had run 20 miles IN ONE WEEK.  ME! 20 MILES! ONE WEEK!

And now, at 40, I think I'm lame if I only run 20 miles, swim only 7500 yards, and bike only 120 miles in one week... which is what I did last week when recovering from Mooseman.  I was glad for a recovery week. But I still feel lame.

The next three weeks constitute the big push toward IMLP. Putting in big hours and big miles make me tired, but it also make me feel safe. What else can I do but log the time and distance? It's the only control I have over my performance in this game. I must do the work and I can do the work. I can't control anything else.

I have thoughts in my brain, but I'm simply not sure they are worth putting to paper. (or computer screen.)
Here are some anyway:

I've been thinking about how it's crazy that they assign The Sun Also Rises to high schoolers. I'm quite sure it's been awhile since you read it, and I'm quite sure you don't remember what it is about, because, well, you read it in high school. I will just mention, then, that it is a novel thematically appropriate to those older than 16. Most of the characters spend the novel wasted. Seriously, it seems that living as an expatriate post World War I in Paris was about -- drinking. Drinking and searching for passion in a world in which ultimately you are nothing more than a speck in the scheme of things. So you should get drunk. Then Drunker.

I've also been thinking about freedom and control, mostly because I am reading Franzen's Freedom, which is both good and depressing, though not as depressing as The Corrections. We both want control and to be controlled, and then we feel suffocated by it and can't escape it.
Maybe Hem was right and we should just drink...
Except, well, he shot himself in the end.

You can tell I've been spending long hours on the bike, eh? I'm so far into my head I can't find my way out.
4.5 hours on Mrs. Z tomorrow! ueueueu!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Mooseman: The RR

This weekend I traveled to Newfound Lake with my family and competed in the Mooseman Half Ironman. I raced Moose in 2009 and had a super race, so I looked forward to returning and doing it again. Alas, the Moose I knew and loved was changed! Changed, I say! The swim was the same... maybe a little closer to being legit 1.2 miles, the run was the same, but was definitely made legit (was 12.9--now your standard 13.1) and the bike course... oh MAMA! New and Harder!

But let me start at the beginning.
In the beginning God created....

Okay. What next.....
Saturday was the usual blur of pre-race stuff.... eat/register/eat/rack bike/eat/stress out/eat/stress out more etc.
I did have a lovely breakfast at the 50s Diner in Tilton which consisted of pancakes, eggs and a plain bagel, and for dinner a lovely time at Uno's during which I ate chicken parm and a big beer. (I know--sacrilege to drink before a race. But I like a good dark beer the night before, which is interesting since I actually don't drink often at all.)

On Sunday morning Ange and I met in the lobby of our hotel very very early (like 4:20 a.m.). We wanted to park IN the park, and to achieve that we had to be the first ones there. We got our coffee, got in the van, and drove. When we arrived a half hour later, the policeman on duty informed us we were too late, there was no more room in the inn. (I'm just full of biblical reference today...)  But just like the Mary of yore, I did not give up... no, I pleaded...(so did Ange)-- Isn't there anything for us? Oh please? And then he melted b/c Ange and I are so sweet, cute, and lovable, and he told us to go on in. Really! No lie! That's how we got into the park!

It was an auspicious beginning.

After parking we puttered around in transition, got everything all squared away, and then pretty much stayed in the porta potty line until it was time to don our wetsuits. One not so auspicious thing... I was on the rag. And not just on the rag... I was on day 2, the dreaded day, the d-day, the day you feel like you might bleed to death. I know not everyone has periods so heavy the amount of blood lost could fill a huge sink... but oh yes, I know some of you do. And you know what I'm saying here...Being on day 2 the day of a race that will last 5 hours... not good.  So I walked around all morning with super plus tampons in my hand, hoping I could put one in as close to the swim as possible... not that it would really make a difference.The tampon would last what, an hour?

I let the whole I will likely pull an Uta thing go while we headed to the lake for the swim start, though. All was good. I was psyched TO RACE! But maybe not so psyched to get wet. The air was cold, and the lake was cold, and I was cold. I really x 5 billion did not want to warm up for the swim. The thought of that cold water slithering up my back was almost unbearable.

But I sucked it up. I got in. I swam about 10 strokes. Then I got out. That was my warm up.

At the cannon for our wave, I dove and started hammering. Cold cold cold! Then I clocked a girl in the head--very hard. And she was pissed. She clobbered me back. Then she pulled my wetsuit from the back and dragged me down under the water.
Great start.
I don't blame her. I call it race rage. I get it too.

But it did throw me a bit. I caught my breath and began to swim again. I had to breathe every stroke and I felt lightheaded and weak. I began to wonder whether I could even finish the swim. I was so. so. so tired....
But then, after about 500 yards, I started to come around. I still breathed every stroke, but I became less desperate to breathe, and the rhythm returned to my stroke. Still, I mentally noted: must practice hypoxia at beginning of open water swims... must practice immediately!

The swim went on. I turned around some buoys. Then I panicked. Wait, was I going the right way? Was I following the buoys in the right order? Then I realized the sun was on the other side of my face, so I must be returning to shore. That was right, wasn't it? I looked around me--mostly blue caps, the wave before us... this must be right. So I just kept swimming. and swimming. Just keep swimming! That damn saying of Dory's (from Nemo) always go through my mind when I race.

I finally got close to shore, swam until my hands reached the bottom, and then stumbled out of the water. I clicked my watch. 29:47... okay! Not bad! I heard Andy yell, Go Mary! Then I began to peel off my wetsuit. Except... it wouldn't come off my left arm. I struggled and struggled and finally got the wetsuit strippers to pull it off. Ugh.

The rest of transition was -- transition. I moved fast. I probably could've moved faster.

I mounted the bike and took a deep breath. Calmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. ohmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Here is the thing about the bike course. It is actually really really fun. Unfortunately, it is also really really slow. You basically ride a few miles, then go up a mountain for 6 miles (Kurt kindly corrected me--it is only 3.47miles... though I beg to differ... It just HAD to have been longer than that! :) (and it was a  mountain which ends with a 16% climb). Anyway, then you go down the mountain (soooo fun) and then you ride on a boring highway which rolls a bit. Then you do the whole thing again. I liked the climbing and I loved the descending.. and well, it was also nice to just ride in between at an even pace. The only problem was that it was a hard course to ride evenly and well--and also that it was a slow course. The top female bike time, done by pro Lesley Paterson, was 2:40+, if that gives you an idea. I think the top guys-- Maxim Kriat and Paul Ambrose--rode it in 2:20.

I saw Kurt both times I began to climb the mountain. That was a boost. Thanks, Kurt!

The only bad parts of the ride were in order: 1. The second time around the loop that 16% climb really did suck. 2. I felt kinda crampy (period, mentioned earlier). 3. I got a little wild on a descent and cornered (or didn't corner) onto the sandy shoulder of the road and almost flipped off my bike. But I recovered (miraculously). 4. I never caught up to Ange, which was a motivator and I was disappointed not to gratify that motivation by ride's end. I did ride with another woman in my AG, though, named Anna, who would later run me down and place 2nd AG to my 3rd.

I happily report that I dismounted by swinging my leg over the bike rather than stopping, un-clipping, and then carefully stepping off my bike. It's the little things. I clicked my watch... and noted that I had finished in 2:56, so under 3 hours, which had been my goal. Yes!
In transition I remembered to take off my helmet but not my sunglasses. Sunglasses are fine, but I do look very dorky in them. I also forgot to pick up my Garmin. So I was running blind, and with sunglasses. Not good.

I saw Andy and the kids coming into T2, and again when I left. They cheered wildly and I was psyched. I exited transition with Anna, and we climbed the first little hill together. But then she sped by me like I wasn't even moving. Have I mentioned that Anna ran a 1:25 and finished first at the  Quincy Half Marathon last month? Unfortunately, I did know this going into the run...and I let her go.

I felt good running. And then it hit me...
Hey! I felt good running! First mile was 7:20. Second was 7:10. Not so bad! Of course it didn't STAY not so bad... of course not. But I felt good for a long time. At mile 5 I started to drag a bit and tried to sip some gel. My stomach was having none of that, though, so I decided to stick to water. As an additional bonus it did not appear that I had yet pulled an Uta. I had on my black TriBike shorts, but nothing had gone beyond said shorts. At mile 6 I saw Andy and the kids. Here I am running by... this video courtesy of Ange's dad.
Jordan wants to know where I put the keys to the car, which was why she keep screaming at me, Where are the keys?  (I had left them in my transition bag after saying I would leave them by the car. oops!) Later she would accuse me of ignoring her... Ummm. Right. I was in a race, Jord?

Andy shouted to me that there was a girl only about a minute and a half ahead of me that was fading.  I nodded. Got it. At mile 7 I saw Kurt and he said the same thing... only now she was only 35 seconds ahead. Had I really closed the gap that quickly? Turns out they were talking about two different people! Andy was talking about Anna, who I knew was ahead, and Kurt was talking about Becky (who would finish fourth) and who was fading slightly and only about 30 seconds ahead, but I did not know this at the time.  Still, both Andy ad Kurt had confirmed there was someone I could run down, so I decided to just move it, and run down every girl I could until I found her. It took until mile 8, but I did find her. She had a bright yellow hat and a Team Psycho shirt and a 43 written on her calf. There she was! I made the pass. Phew.

But then I was tired. And running scared. And I still had 5 miles to go. Oh boy... now it gets FUN!
I began drinking Coke at mile 9. I think it helped, even though it also made me feel slightly ill. I kept turning to see if Yellow Hat (aka Becky) was there, but I couldn't see her. Did this mean she had hung on and was right on my ass? At mile 11 I was reaching delirium, and once again I turned to look, but this time I saw.... something yellow. OMG! Yellow! I began to run as hard as I could. I had to get third! I would not get passed! I tried to keep my pace... ouch ouch ouch ouch. After what seemed an eternity, I found Andy and the kids at mile 12.5, and Kurt a little while later. Kurt said, You got this... 
by which I hoped he meant yellow hat girl could not pass me now. But I wasn't sure, so I kept running as hard as I could until ahhhhh...... over!

I ran a 1:36 high, which is the fastest 1/2 marathon I've had off the bike. My time for the race was 5:06:54. I finished 3rd in my AG so I got myself some syrup! I finished 16th overall for women, and 10th overall for women not including the pros. Ange won our AG in just under five hours, and Anna beat me by about 2.5 minutes in 5:04. 

It was a solid race for me. I'm psyched to take on Placid.
Thanks to Andy for being there and supporting all this shit, and thanks to Kurt, too.
And thanks to Ange, Anna and Becky, who made this race an incredibly fun competition for me.