Saturday, July 30, 2011


The race sucked for me, tis true. I did not ever feel great, and I only felt good for one lap of the swim, and most of one lap of the bike. What's worse is that my feeling like shit and barfing didn't occur because I fucked up training, or pacing, or planning my nutrition. It was because when you have succumbed to a virus, it does not pick up and leave after 24 hours, even if you feel better. Its vestiges still lurk and fester. Your white blood cells have done their best to fight it off, but the fight has left you white cell deficient, weakened, and fragile. If you try to exert yourself in a serious way after having a virus a few days earlier, like say, by racing all day long, your body will do its best to shut you down. It's not ready to race. It is still recovering.

That is what I learned from this experience.

 Of course there is a part of my brain that insists I DID do something wrong; that if I had just eaten at the right time, or not gotten cold before the start, or if I had put just 2 scoops of EFS in each bottle instead of 2.5, then I might not have suffered so badly.

But mostly I learned that if you become ill during the week before an Ironman, you are likely in deep du-du come race day. Hence, the wisdom I leave you with is this: if you have an IM coming up within seven days, bathe in hand-sanitizer, do not leave your home, and do not get within five feet of your children or spouse or anything they touch. Got it?

I find it rather amazing that despite my rather shattered dream of breaking 11 hours--of holding my arms in the air in total glee while skipping under the IM arch and singing, I AM THE CHAMPION! Despite that.... I still got what I really and truly wanted: KONA.

For the first few days after the race I viewed this as a gift from a God I don't believe in.  But as the week progressed, I began to view it differently.
I now believe in God.
No. Just kidding. I'm still not sure on the God front.

How I feel is this:
My time was not what I wanted it to be. That's true. But it is also not a bad time. Is it Kona worthy? Oh... I don't know. But I do know that had I NOT had the fitness I had going into this race, I would not have been able to execute the way I did when things went wrong. 11:22 is not what I would've hoped for on a healthy day--but now that I have had time to gain a little perspective, I realize it's not a bad time considering I did it on a few sips of Coke and with frequent vomiting breaks. No, I wasn't able to be the speedy marathoner I know I can be, but hey, I'm pretty speedy for an undernourished barfer! And it's the training I did that allowed me to be that pretty speedy undernourished barfer.

I have ten weeks until I race in Kona. I can barely stand how excited I am to go there, and to see it all, and to race again.

I'm also really excited about the rest of my season. In a few weeks I will go to Burlintgton, Vermont to race in AG Nationals. That race is going to be FUN, mostly because I have no expectations and I really just want to go because all of my friends will be there. Then I race Pumpkinman Half, which I have always wanted to race, and which is in my very own favorite Maine.

Bust most of all, I'm excited to race in Kona. I plan to enjoy it. I plan to enjoy the swim in that warm ocean, I plan to enjoy that hot and windy bike, and I plan to enjoy dying in the sweltering heat as I run a sub -four hour marathon. (I do not care if it is 3:59:59--I just want to go UNDER FOUR HOURS GOD DAMN IT!) If I have to crawl on the swim and bike, that's fine with me. Because as I said, I plan to enjoy this race. I'm going to Kona!

I haven't said my thank yous yet.
Here they are:
TriBike Transport--my awesome sponsor
Ernie and Hazel: because they love me even when I am a pain in the ass, needy, stupid, sick, tired, angry, and wrong.
Jordan: because she gets the Kona thing. She gets it.
Jen: for laying the foundation
My mom: for being my practical, loving, generous mom
Ange, all this would not be fun without you
Alina. you know. xo
Kurt. I was able to pull that fucker off because you trained me so well.
Andy.  because you have always been there waiting for me outside the medical tent. and for other stuff, too.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I Wish I Could Make This Funny....

I pride myself on my entertaining race reports. This one is not entertaining, nor is it funny. If it seems to be tinged with sorrow and self-pity, it likely is. I just can't seem to make light of this one. I worked so hard, and I couldn't make use of that work come race day.

It's hard to suck that up, even though I am working on it, and even though I know I should, and even though I know I am hardly the first or last to experience dreaming big, and then crashing and burning on race day instead of realizing that dream.

There were no Tums in my transition bag. I must have only put them in my T2 bag, figuring I might feel sick after the bike... but not the swim.  Luckily I did have a few in my Bento Box on my bike. I ate three of them immediately with some EFS once I was safely astride Mrs. Z.

Then I waited.

Roil. Roil.

And I waited. and waited.


And then I started to feel a little better. Time to really start biking!

My first loop I mostly felt good. I took in all of my EFS, all of my planned gels, and all of my planned salt tabs. I kept my watts exactly where Kurt and I had discussed, I stayed aero, and I rode evenly.

But then I started to feel sick. I was playing back and forth with this girl I can only describe as Aquawoman. She had a  lime green kit edged in black, and she had a lime green bike to match. I think if she had had a lime green cape and helmet it would've been the perfect look. Anyway, we were playing back and forth when I first started to feel queasy again.

I reached in my Bento Box and ate my final two Tums.
It did not help.

I decided to slow down, drink a little water, and sit upright. Being in aero was making me even more nauseated. Aquawoman rode off.
It was on my way back on the out and back that I knew I would be sick and it would be soon. My only question: Should I make myself sick or should I let the puke surprise me? I decided making myself sick would be safer.

I pulled over to the curb, slowed way down and let it come. I didn't need to put a finger in my throat; after I stopped fighting it just came up--quite forcefully--as puke often does.  I barfed over my bars, while riding (I am very proud of that even though I only was going about 3 mph). After I puked I did unclip and put my foot down for a second. I used some of my Ironman Peform stuff (I had no water at the time) to clean off the bars, and I tried to breathe deeply. Then I started riding again.

I was shaky. But I did feel tons better. Here is where I think I made a tactical error. I decided to wait before taking anything in again. I feared I would be sick again if I tried to drink or eat. In retrospect, though, I should have tried. I had thrown up a lot of what I had taken in on the first loop, and I was definitely down on calories and electrolytes. I AT LEAST should have taken some salt tabs. But I didn't. I got a bottle of water and sipped carefully until mile 95 or so. then I tried to take part of a gel. At mile 100 (roughly) just as I was turning the corner out of Hazelton, I pulled over again, and threw the gel and the water up. At this point my stomach was just totally used to rejecting things. Alert! Incoming! Incoming! Get ready--okay--here we go---- HURL!

I took nothing else in for the final 12 miles of the bike. I just survived. I tried not to think about the run. I tried not to think about just calling it a day in transition. I could not give up on this race. I had worked so hard for this--and I had wanted to go to Kona so much. I was in such good shape; I was so ready to race!

My average watts for my second loop were about 10 watts lower than my first lap. I tried not to think about this as I handed off my bike to the volunteer. It had been a slow bike, but it was okay. It had to be okay. I ran to get my transition bag, and ran into the tent. My friend Stacey was there. You are in third, Mary, third! she cried.

Third? I was in third ? With THAT swim? With THAT bike?

Now I knew I couldn't give up. I got out of there fast, and began my run.
I felt stiff at first, but loosened up fast. My legs felt SO fresh--. I could do this!

But then, within about 30 seconds of that thought,  I had another wave of nausea. I took baby steps. Easy easy easy. Don't throw up yet. Don't throw up yet.

I saw Kurt on the way downhill, out of town.  I gave him my Garmin. It wouldn't catch a signal, and also, I just didn't want to know my pace. I just did NOT want to know.
Take in fluids, he said.
I've been throwing up, I whimpered  as a reply.

And then I kept running.
I didn't force myself to take in anything for miles one and two, but at mile 3 I decided I must try. A marathon is longggggg and cannot be run on will alone, especially after throwing up all morning. So I took some Perform. And then I ran another quarter mile. And then I stopped and puked that Perform right up.

I can't tell you what was going on in my head at that point, because I can't remember. I think I just turned myself onto autopilot and continued to run. I saw Brian, a friend who works at Fast Splits. He said, Looking Good, Mary. And I said, I just threw up.
I think that might have been the extent of my thinking at that point. I threw up. I threw up. I threw up. 

I did not take in anything again until mile 8. Then I took some Coke. The Coke settled. It didn't come up. I would be okay! I could drink Coke! At mile 9 I took some more Coke--and I swallowed a salt tablet. Go me!
Then, just before mile 10, I pulled over to the side and puked up the Coke and the tablet. The salt was partially dissolved, and so my throw tasted very salty. And I thought, At least it is a new flavor of barf...I felt the roof of my mouth with my tongue and it was sore and raw. The acid from my throw up had burned me.

At mile 11 I saw Jesse. It was weird--I was running so slowly at that point--and I saw him in slow motion. He said, It's time to dig deep, Mary.
Did he know? Did he know? I wanted to cry. I wanted to just let go and cry and sink into the pavement. Did I look so bad already that he knew I was about ready to vomit, once again, on his shoes?

I saw Kurt on the way out of town again. He said, Do you have any salt?
I said, No
Here's what's weird. I did have salt. What I meant was that I could not take salt. I couldn't take anything. But I was too sick to explain that, so I just kept running.

At each water stop I would put ice in my mouth and squeeze a sponge over my head. I didn't try to take in anything else. I just sucked on the ice and let it cool my burned mouth.

I'm going to be honest. I don't remember the rest of this run except in a sort of weird slow motion movie kind of way.

People were cheering and sometimes said, Go Mary! but I didn't know who they were. I remember I tried to take a salt tablet and I chewed it; the salt spread throughout my mouth. It tasted good, but I spit out the rest. I don't remember why.

At mile 23 I was walking and I saw Kurt. You must run, Mary. You are still in this. You must run. There were red horns coming out of his head, his eyes were glowing yellow and I could faintly make out a pitchfork in his hand.
I can't, I said.
You have to run, Mary. Just keep shuffling.

I started to shuffle.
I couldn't keep my head up. It kept dropping back, jerking back, like it does sometimes when you fall asleep while sitting, only to be awakened by the jolt of your neck snapping backward or forward.
I had stopped sweating. I touched my face and it was was cool and dry.

Apparently I passed my family at mile 24. Noah held up the  poster he had made for me to see, and I did not look. I did not know he was there, even though I guess he was right in front of me. Later I found he had wept because I hadn't even looked.

Thinking about that makes me ache.

I ran all of the last mile, but it still took me over 12 minutes to do it. When I entered the oval, a girl in my age group passed me. She ended up beating me by 32 seconds. I could not catch her; I did not try.  My head was tilting backward, and I tried to correct it.
These pictures were taken in the oval.
And you thought I was exaggerating....
I really could not keep my head up.... it was very strange.

When I reached the IM finishing arch I did not smile. I took a few steps, and then, feeling happy I could do so, I let my knees go. Then volunteers picked me up and put me in a wheelchair. And then I lost consciousness. When I became aware again I was in the tent, and they were lifting me on a bed. Then they said, What's wrong? How do you feel? I just looked at them. I didn't know what to say. I feel sick, I whispered.

They put in an IV. They took my pulse. They took my blood pressure.

Later I found out the stats: 1.5 liters of fluid by IV. My pulse was 62. My heartbeat was irregular. My blood pressure was 80 over 60. When they weighed me, after my IV, I had lost 4 pounds since check-in for the race. Here is what I have to say about that: the number I saw on that scale I have not seen since I was 12 years old.

I finished the race in 11:22.
My swim was 1:07. My bike was 5:57. My run was 4:09.
I finished 5th in my age group. Number 4 passed me during the last three miles. Number 5 passed me in the oval.
To finish this race was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Bar none.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Game Changer

The morning of the swim it was announced that our swim would not be wetsuit legal. The recent warm weather brought the temperature of Lake Mirror above 76.1 (I think that's it...) and according to WTC rules, any swim over that specific temperature would not count toward earning a podium spot or a Kona slot.

Because Lake Placid is known to be wetsuit legal, this decision did not sit well with many competitors. The wetsuit buoys you up and makes swimming less tiring. Without it, many feared a challenging and slow swim at best, and a near-drowning at worst. The directors gave us a choice: wear a wetsuit and have your race "not count" according to WTC standards, or race without and remain in contention for awards and the possibility of earning  a spot to Kona.

Obviously Ange and I chose not to wear a wetsuit. We are both strong swimmers (ahem... with Ange being considerably stronger than me! ha!), and though we knew our respective swims would be slower, we also knew we'd be fine.  Still, there were many things that pissed me off about this decision by the directors. First, we would have no idea when racing who had worn a wetsuit and who hadn't. For those of us trying to get podium and Kona, this was an annoyance. Second, the actual swim would be conducted with a billion people safely in their wetsuits, while the rest of us swam practically nude beside them. Anyone who has completed an IM swim knows the intensity of the swim in terms of body contact. Being without a wetsuit when so many around us had them on was not fair, or safe. Third, the decision completely changed the allocation of Kona spots to each AG. The 40-44 AG for both men and women are the largest groups, and are allotted the most spots to Kona as a result. However, only the people who chose not to wear suits would count, so that changed--and it changed the MORNING of the race! Our group, 160 strong, was reduced to like 50, and we lost a slot. The 30-34 AG, with only about 80 competitors, were now awarded 5 slots. Why? Because WHEN YOU ARE YOUNG you make decisions differently than when you ARE OLDER. As my 40-44 year old friend Bob said, I based my decision to wear my suit on the basis that I was there to perform my best in the Ironman competition. Going without would have cost me 10 minutes minimum. Bob is an extremely strong athlete, and in my opinion had a shot at earning a Kona slot. Still, his maturity led him to put aside his pride and race so that he could have the strongest race possible--which is what he had set out to do. Younger athletes clearly viewed the race differently, as evidenced by their decision to race without suits. It wasn't so much about their own race as it was how they stacked up against others. This is most definitely an age thing... as you age you are more apt to race within yourself and for yourself--not for the glory of how you compare with Frank down the street. When you are in your 40s you simply have less to prove.

Okay. I'm done with my diatribe!

Here is the story of my swim.

I got in the water with Ange. She went to the front line, straight to where the melee would be. I went to the right and the front, where it would also be insanely combative, but less so. We got in the water with about 15 minutes to go time. The water was cool, and I was nervous, and the cold water and my nervousness combined, and I became chilled. Then I became very cold. Then I became very very cold. I was shaking and chattering and blue. I looked around for anyone I knew. Who could keep me warm? I needed a body--I was desperate. I could feel the hypothermia coming on--having had it so recently I know what it is and how it feels. I was about ready to ask a stranger if I could snuggle up next to him (there were no women anywhere to be found) when I saw Peter. 

Peter is a new friend. We attended training camp together a few weeks earlier. So I knew him, but not very well. I think he might have been slightly taken aback when I asked him if I could please spoon him and put my head under his armpit. But he was generous... Thank you, Peter! I hugged him from behind and kept hugging harder. I wanted to crawl INTO his wetsuit--and under his skin. I WAS SO COLD. A man next to me asked, Do you know him? I said between chatters.... Ummmm, sort of?

A few minutes before the canon went off I left Peter and headed to the front. Swimmers closed in around me and they all had wetsuits on... grrrr.... When the canon went off I got clonked on the head and body several times, but then I began to swim and I was okay! I stayed to the far right, and I swear I had relatively clean water for a very long time. Every once in awhile I would move closer to the bouy line, and then, suddenly, I would find myself being pawed and kicked and I would panic... and I would drift out to the side again. But mostly I felt even and steady and calm. I was having a good swim. 

I went through the first loop in 31:45. Without a wetsuit... this was an AWESOME split for me. Wahoo! But at the start of the second loop my stomach started to feel just a bit queasy. I slowed a little to let it settle, but it got worse. I actually felt seasick, but there were no swells, so I figured it must not be the water that was causing me to feel so ill. I rounded the buoys to head back to shore, and it was just about then that I knew I was going to be sick. I stopped, but before I could get my head above the water the vomit rose through my throat, out my mouth and slowly mixed with the water around me.Without meaning to I breathed in the vomity water mix and began choking. Right then I thought I might drown. I couldn't breathe as I choked, I didn't have a wetsuit to help me stay up in the water, and my stomach was making another play at pushing out all I had had for breakfast. Somehow I kept the vomit in my throat though, and after a moment I felt it trickle back down into my belly. I stayed treading water for a few moments and tried to breathe deeply. I took a mouthful of lake water and swished to get rid of the taste of barf. Bodies hit me and swam around me. The slightly barfy water around me settled and floated away.

And then I started swimming again.

On the way into shore I decided that just because I had been sick did not mean my day was over. I would take it easy until then end of the swim, and then I would take a few Tums when I first got into transition.  It would be okay. It had to be. I was feeling better. I had just needed to get rid of a little breakfast.
But I was really shaken. It was not an auspicious start to the race. 

I got out of the water and saw the clock: 1:07 something. Well, that had been a pretty slow second loop, huh! But I wasn't disappointed; I thought it would be worse. My stomach felt pretty good now, and I was going to be fine.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011


It was the best of races, it was the worst of races; I raced with wisdom, I raced as a fool; I believed, I was incredulous; it was the race of Light, it was the race of Darkness, it was my race of hope, it was my race of despair.
                -with best regards to my dearest bud, Dickens.

Here is the greatest aspect of my race: 
I stayed the course, and I am going to Kona! I did it!

Here is the worst aspect of my race.  
I trained consistently, intelligently, and hard. I was ready to execute a perfect race. But, as is frequently the case with IM, things went wrong and mistakes were made. And though I overcame what went wrong as best I could, I struggled. In fact, this race was the single hardest thing I have done in my 41 years of existence: harder than any training I have done, harder than my previous efforts at IM, harder than childbirth.  To finish this race I to go to a place I have never been—and it is a super bad ugly black mossy confusing icky place that I really don’t want to visit – like ever again.

The real story of my race began on Tuesday morning of last week. I woke up, ambled around a bit, and then suddenly and quite powerfully, I threw up on the bathroom floor. Lara had been sick with a stomach virus over the weekend, and so I knew – I knew what was happening and deep down, I knew what it meant for my race. I spent the morning hanging over the toilet.  At noon I felt slightly better and so decided I should attempt my run.  This was the first race mistake I made. The temperature was in the 90s, and my stomach was fragile. I made it 20 minutes, and then ,without much ceremony, I threw up on my neighbor’s lawn.

I got over the bug quickly. By Wednesday I was eating a little and sipping electrolyte-laden water, and by Thursday I actually felt pretty good. The only problem: I had lost weight and I felt weak. I knew I needed to eat, and I did try, but my stomach, though okay, was still unsure that consuming large quantities of anything was smart.  And…..okay, okay… I admit I felt pretty panicked about the fact that I'd been sick, which didn’t really help the nausea. I so so so wanted to be 100% for Sunday… and things were not looking good. 

I packed up the car and kids and set off for Placid on Wednesday afternoon.  Ange’s family, my family and Ange’s brother Jeff’s family had rented a big house together for the week. The one fear was that I would get Ange sick. I bought like 10 bottles of hand sanitizer and basically bathed in it, and had my kids do so too. Luckily, she did not succumb! Phew. That would be a special thing to have hanging over your neck, huh? 

Ange and I spent the next few days doing our best to lounge. We discussed the race over and over and over and over again. People around us were kind, but most likely so agitated with our slothdom and our race-obsessed banter that they wanted to throw us out a window. Kurt came by on Friday and Saturday to check our bikes and ease our pre-race nerves. His visits didn’t really quell my roiling my stomach, but it was still really good to see him. I appreciated that he didn’t roll his eyes (in my presence anyway) when I nosed around for reassurance just one more time… and one more time after that… and then just one more time and…..

Race morning Ange and I arrived at transition early. (with Ange there is NO arriving late. Trust me!)  We got body marked by Ange’s most awesomely awesome athlete, Marissa, and then we went into transition to do our stuff.  As the morning moved on Ange became more and more intense and focused. She was practically burning up she was so ready to race. I tried to suck up some of that heat for me.  Here we are ready to rumble. 

 I already look a little pale and sickly, but Ange is looking Goddess-like, don't you think?

Okay. More tomorrow.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


In the last few weeks I've been tested.

There are some tests about which I can write, and some I cannot. I will say I survived most of this testing--sort of.
Pat on the back for me.
or not--depending on the test.

Anyway. Last week I spent in Maine, living at my parents' house (my parents are away) with Alina, my kids, and her kids. This is a ritual week for us; we put the kids into day camp, and then spend our free time swimming, reading, shopping, and lunching out. We joke that it's the best week of the year. It's really NOT a joke, though. It truly is.

The week is an indulgent one. On any day I have an extremely hard time saying no to treats, but this week I have a nearly impossible time saying no. An early morning swim followed by a margarita at lunch? Sure? Heavy cream and strawberries for dessert? Oh, but of course... A nap while the children go bananas downstairs--rocking out to blasting tunes while dancing in their underwear? Okay!  Allowing the dogs to swim in the ocean and eat seaweed and crab shells even though I know they will stink up the entire house.... Who could say no?

I also had trouble on the shopping front. I indulged by buying myself all sorts of goodies. Andy experiences constant disappointment in me because I fail to contribute to the design and decoration of our house. I want to... I just become paralazyed when faced with choices on the interior design front. I like what others buy--I like others' homes--but I don't trust my own decorative sense. BUT this week I decided I would buy something for our home.

When I showed him off I'm not sure Andy knew what to say or think.
Hmmmmm. Did I fail on this one?
Here is my other contribution (yes, it's possible I have only contributed two things independently)...

It's a theme--see?

I also bought Ernie a studded collar. I know you can't really tell in this picture, but he looks pretty studly, and with a name like Ernie, he has the whole package if you know what I mean.

Anyway. I was also tested in that I had to give up coffee this week. I am SUFFERING. On the second day of shopping I purchased this magnet:
This pretty accurately summarizes my response to a life without coffee.  One of the better aspects of racing next Sunday is that Sunday morning I can have more than one cup of java.

Still on the theme of testing, yesterday I drove to Billerica High School and took the MTEL English subject test. If I pass than I will be able to get a preliminary certificate in Massachusetts to teach high school English. I am certified as a middle school English and history teacher, but I need a different certification to teach at the high school level in public school. I signed up for the test in a moment of panic and whim in which I imagined I absolutely positively MUST get back to teaching this fall. I have since reconsidered; I will, perhaps, look to fill a maternity leave this winter or spring... or I may wait until next year to begin. This fall is too soon--and anyway, the high school English positions are few at this time of year, only weeks away from the start of the school year. But, in any case, my impulsivity is quite developed, and so I found myself in a sweltering classroom in Billerica yesterday afternoon facing a test which actually required me to THINK. (And this after a week of margaritas at lunch...)

I didn't plan well. I had a good breakfast, but unfortunately failed to consider I might become hungry during the test--or even before it started. We were asked to arrive early for a 1:15 start. Apparently, however, the test actually began at two; they simply wanted no one to be late so they essentially lied, saying we MUST report at 1:15 or we would not be allowed to take the exam. Hence the entryway and lobby of the high school were filled with prospective teachers at approximately 12:45. We were damp and stinky in the heat--grouchy and parched  and looking forward to sitting in a fan-less, stale classroom, sitting cramped at a graffiti-laden desk with an answer booklet and a few number 2 pencils.

And I was hungry. And the test, which I had assumed would be three hours max, was, in fact, to be four hours long. (Nice that I even looked at the information sheet, huh?) I did have a slightly curdled can of yogurt in my purse, but I had failed to remember a spoon. Should I eat with my fingers? I seriously contemplated it. But, much like deciding NO, I can hold it, I don't need to stop at the bathroom now... I soon regretted that decision. By four p.m. I was so hungry I contemplated eating my answer booklet. My stomach grumbled so loudly and consistently that other test takers began to give me at first sympathetic looks--and then simply dirty looks.

But the truth is, I like taking these types of tests. And I liked this one. The questions were challenging, but by process of elimination I was able to nail most of them, I'm fairly sure. I would have benefited from a little review, of course. I felt slightly stupid when I saw that some test takers had whole books on what to study and how to take the test. I didn't even know what the test included.

The essays were the most fun. They essay topics are so general you can really take the question any way you want. One question asked us to reflect on a passage by Jamaica Kincaid and the other to discuss quest in a particular novel. EVERY novel has embedded within a quest... so I could chose to write on what what I wanted. I wrote about Lily Bart in The House of Mirth, because she is one of my favorite characters; beautiful and tragic,and fatally flawed.

My final test is that this week I tapered, and next week I will continue to taper. I do. not. like. taper. It makes me feel helpless. My runs and bikes have felt sluggish, and though Kurt assures me this is normal--and in truth I assure others it is normal too--I just can't stand it. It makes me lose confidence in all I have done.

And on that note, I will go out on my meager little ride and run, and hope that the hay which I have accrued is enough, and that next Sunday I will reap the benefits of placing it there.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I'm not really sure I could get any more cynical.

I think everyone's motives are based in self interest. I think people's passions often mask deep personal issues they are trying to bury or destroy. I think nobody actually gives a shit about anyone else outside of their small sphere of people they rely on for love and care, and when that love and care is withdrawn--for whatever reason--they smart for awhile and then abandon their care in kind.

I also don't believe that people change except in small ways. In fact, as we age I think we become even more exaggerated versions of the people we once were.

Ironically, I read with vigor novels of the Bildungsroman genre. I love watching a character struggle, mature, and then find his place within himself and society. But then, soon after I finish such a book, I (not ironically) feel hollow. We grow, but arrive nowhere. We grow. Then lose anyway. We grow, but as Estella says at the end of Great Expectations, “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching. . . I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.”

A better shape. Is there such a thing? Can something bent and broken BE a better shape?

Yes, given that my life view is such a -- well, a downer--you'd think that I would not become victim to hope and the romantic. But there's the irony! I am! It's like this vestige of youth I can't shake... the idea that I can be a more perfect version of myself--that I can love perfectly--that I will be loved perfectly--that around the corner is peace, happiness, true, pure love....
Seriously. What the hell is wrong with me?

The answer to this is to do an Ironman. Doesn't that make sense? Can't you see it? I'm moving forward--toward something big and great. Sure, it gets me nowhere except another 140 miles down the road. But nothing gets us anywhere... so why not swim, bike and run my way to nowhere? At least my bike is inanimate. I can love her and I can create that she loves me back unconditionally. At least the open water gives me stillness and peace. At least I can lose myself temporarily in the pounding of pavement.Swim, bike, run. It's all good. And more of it is even better.

Which is why I am going to crush this race.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


The last few weeks have been on the rough side  for moi.
I'm struggling. I'm under a rather severe lemon attack. These lemons are pummeling me; burying me. I can't seem to escape and come up for air--and I feel very bruised.

The timing off this is not auspicious. In three weeks I plan to compete in Ironman, and my plan is to do well. The lemon problem has sidelined me a bit.
This is not to say I haven't been completing the prescribed training. Oh! But of course I have! It's more that my head is in cloud-ville... I'm not focused as I should be. And I'm sad. Generally I don't write when I am sad. Forgive me for not updating my blog -- like at all -- in the last few weeks.

Enough on that.

I went to a training camp in Lake Placid last weekend. We rented a gigantic house. It was awesome. Being away from home helped me to focus on my workouts--and WORK OUT WE DID. On Thursday night we went for an hour swim. I love Mirror Lake--especially when it is not thick with Ironman competitors, but placid and serene instead. Then we went out to eat and I had a big yummy beer--I think it was some sort of brown ale--and this sweet potato burrito thing which was scrumptious.

The next morning we rose early so we could ride 112 miles of the course and complete a transition run. For the first loop I rode with Ange. We chit-chatted the whole way, and drafted off Kurt for most of it.

The second loop we separated so that we could each ride at our own IM watts and practice riding well--low VI, in aero, focused. Ange rode away from me in a matter of minutes (no shock there! ha!) and I was on my own. I managed to ride quite well. I kept to my watts and tried to ride smoothly. I find the LP course a challenging course on which to ride well. The first part is slightly up, but then DOWNNNNNN for so so so long, and you average like 50 watts. Then it is rolling for quite a long time and then UPPPPPP for 11 miles or so. On the 11 mile stretch it's hard to ride within your prescribed watts because of the constant climbing.  Getting off the bike I was MUCH more shot than I had hoped to be. I did manage to run for a bit, though, even though it was not as fast or quite as far as it should have been. 

We went out to dinner again that night and I again had a tasty beer. I allowed myself a beer every night of camp. YUM.

On Wed. we did a swim time trial in Mirror Lake. Kurt divided us into two groups--those who swim slower than 30 minutes for a half, and those who swim faster than that. I didn't know with whom to go. I swim just about exactly 30 minutes for a half. I decided to swim with the fast group so I could practice trying to stay on their feet at the GO! and so I would have people to chase throughout the swim. Well, let me just say... that was a flop! the fast group went off and I only hung on for about 5 seconds before I was toast and they were gone in a flurry of splash! I still had a good swim, though.

After the swim we rode one loop of the course easy, and then did a transition run. Even though the ride was easy, I was still totally pooped. I wanted a nap, not another ride! When we got home I disobeyed the recovery protocol and jumped in the hot tub. That was heavenly....
We then went out to eat and I had the yummiest Oatmeal Stout. I'm fantasizing about that beer right now....

On our final morning we ran 20 miles of the course. The first ten were to be easy, the second ten much harder. I must admit  I did not feel too chipper at the start of this run. 20 millllllessssssss owwwwwwww. But it was fine. I ran with Amy, a PBM coach and a great runner, and we chatted most of the way, which made the first 10 miles fly by. Thanks, Amy. The second ten we picked up the pace considerably, and there was no more chatting! I stayed with Amy until mile 18. Then my right knee, which has been a little sore lately, started to really hurt. I think it's tendonitis of some of the tendons surrounding the knee. A doctor at our training camp (Peter) thinks it bursitis. Whatever-- it hurt, and it slowed me way down, and I had to let Amy go. I've been babying it, and I think it will be okay. (I hope.) Stupid overuse injuries. Humph.

I followed up this weekend with a pretty substantial week of training. Until now, I had never completed two centuries + in one week. I've also never run two 20 milers in a week. Suprirsingly, the old body held up. Now I'm letting her rest a bit.

Send me good loving and hugs to get rid of the lemons, okay? Thanks.