Sunday, September 23, 2012

Marshfield Training Series: My First (and definitely rather pathetic) Foray into Cyclocross

As you know, I'm in the midst of a Bring Back the Joy campaign.

Part of that this campaign has been to take on a new hobby: cyclocross.

I suck at cyclocross.
I really really suck at cyclocross.

I thought I might be really bad at it. I'm not great technically on the bike.  I have never done any mountain biking. I have spent the majority of my biking life (all five years of it) on a road and/or tribike trying to simply stay upright (and go fast), praying I don't have a mechanical and praying the road ahead of me remains smooth.

When road cycling I fear (quite profoundly) sand, dirt, gravel, grass, sticks, rocks, wet leaves, dry leaves, squirrels, chipmunks (okay all rodent-type creatures I could hit), sharp corners, left-handed turns, cars, other cyclists, children, runners, walkers, dogs or any type of even slightly unstable surface area.

I like nicely paved, completely empty, straight roads. Anything else make my heart race more than just a bit. That's the kind of cyclist I am. Give me that, and I'm good to go.

In other words, I'm not someone endowed with the skill set required to compete in cyclocross. Like-- at all. Not even a little.

So how in the world is it that I think cyclocross could bring back some joy to my training life?

Well, because I SUCK SO BADLY at cyclocross, that is just doesn't matter! I LOVE IT! I love it  when it just doesn't matter!! (I think of this clip all the time in relation to certain aspects of my life. Really.)

So, I got myself a cross bike:

Her name is Winnie.
She is fluorescent. I just need a fluorescent shiny bathing suit and a fluorescent helmet to go with her. Don't you think they'd welcome me at the races decked in that ensemble? Can't you picture it?

Anyway. I acquired Winnie. Then I got myself some new pedals and some new mountain biking shoes. And then I went out to the woods to play.

I have a short loop--about 1.5 miles long--on which I walk my dogs pretty much daily. The trail is pretty tame so I thought it would be a good place to start my new cyclocross career. The first time I tried circumnavigating the loop I didn't make it all the way around. At one point the trail curves a bit and climbs a short, root-laden hill. When I got to that part I freaked out and called it quits.

I then went back the next day, determined to ride the WHOLE loop so help me God!

I had to get off in several places and walk, but I did it. The next day I timed myself going around the loop. It took my just over 11 minutes for me to complete it. Keep in mind, when I'm jogging--really slowly--I do the loop in about 15 minutes. That should give you an idea as to JUST HOW BADLY I SUCK at riding my shiny new cyclocross bike in the woods.

I also went to the high school fields near my house and attempted to practice my nonexistent cyclocross skills. I practiced in grass and on the baseball diamond. I practiced in sand and gravel. I practiced dismounting and jumping over little rocks while holding my bike and stuff like that. And each day I would try to get the courage to HOP on my bike. But I couldn't muster it.

Not until the day before my very first real cyclocross race. On that day I said forget this! I grabbed those handlebars and launched myself over the seat and onto the bike. I landed with a thud. It wasn't pretty, but I had done it! I continued to practice hopping on until my hands became blistered from grabbing the bars so tightly and my inner thigh became bruised from landing with such graceless force on the seat.

And then I was ready.
Or sort of ready. I had looked and looked for beginner training clinics that I could start my new hobby with--at which I could be with other cyclocross newbies who suck as badly as I do. But I could find nothing. I did find a series of training "races" however, which took place on Wednesday nights about an hour from where I live. I emailed the race director and asked if any TRULY new people to cyclocross would attend the races. He assured me that yes! There would be plenty of newbies!  I would fit right in and I should come on down! (I should've known he was full of shit.)

The entire day leading to my first "race" I was so nervous I felt nauseated. I thought about backing out a million times. Why was I doing this to myself? Why had I ever thought this might be fun? But I had already signed up, already gotten a sitter, already committed in my mind. I had even told my (super cyclocross racer) coach that I was going. To not go would be to admit total defeat. Just do it. I had to just do it. I knew absolutely no one going to this thing. I could suck--and no one I know would need to know.

When I arrived at the Marshfield Fairgrounds parking lot there were many racers already there. They were all men. They were all skinny men. They were all skinny men in those little long-sleeved cycling kits that are all matchy-matchy. I swore under my breath. fuck. fuckity fuck fuck. Get me OUTTA HERE! But I stayed. Of course I stayed.

I got out of the car, pulled my bike out and got on my shoes. I scanned the parking lot. There had to be a woman here. There had to be! And then I saw a ponytail, and it did, in fact, belong to a woman. Of course, she looked as scary as the men: decked in a matching, long-sleeved kit and riding with all the guys. But she was my only hope.

I sidled up next to her. I did not say, Will you be my friend? Please? But I think she read it on my face. She was warm and friendly, and she introduced herself as Laurie. After we signed in she took me around the course. "We'll just ride it super slowly so you can see what you're in for..."

Famous. Last. Words.

I will give her credit. She did go slowly for me. But her so slowly was actually my top speed, and that was slightly embarrassing. I realized then that I would finish absolutely dead last in this race. In fact, I might not even finish this race. In fact, I would have to pull up my big girl pants really fast, because I found myself contemplating not even STARTING this race.

Why you ask? What was so terribly terrifying about this little jaunt around the cyclocross loop that might leave me thinking it might be best to pack up Winnie and head on home to relieve that babysitter?

It started with the sand. So much sand. And I'm NOT talking just a little sand on the road, or even just a sandy path. I'm talking BEACH SAND. There was one area of sand in which you were supposed to spiral around and then spiral back out again. I came upon this area and stopped dead in my tracks. Huh? Really? I ended up picking up the bike, and carrying to the other side of the spiral.

We then came to a set of curves that were--that's right--set in beach sand. How the HELL do I get through this? I decided to just do it... to just go for it. I got two pedal strokes in and literally tipped over onto my side. I remained there for a moment, riders circling past me saying things like, you just have to pedal through it! Or, are you all right? It was just a little humiliating. Just a little.

Then we arrived at the obstacles. I could do this! I hopped off my bike. But when I lifted my bike I realized that I am so short that I had to lift from the bottom tube, or the bike wouldn't clear the barriers. Awesome! I stepped (that's right stepped) over them carefully and took a deep breath. Time to hop on the bike! So I ran and jumped! Try not to land quite so hard!... suggested Laurie.
Yeah, ummm, I'm working on that.

Then there was the run up. Before the run up was a pit of sand. I didn't even deal with this. I just got off the bike and ran through the sand. Then I shouldered the bike and attempted to run up the root, rocky, steep bank.
I got to the top, sort of gasping.
This was NOT EASY. At the top, riders hopped on their bikes and pedaled on--even though at the top there was a path only as wide as my fucking pinkie. Okay, I can hop on ... but here? I didn't hop. I just got on the bike and pedaled forward. We went down. Then down some more. Then those tricksters had us take a turn and go down a sandy bank! When I arrived at it I again stopped dead in my tracks. NO WAY. I am not going down a sandy hill! But then some riders showed up behind me and I literally had to go. I got on and then.. that's right, I screamed Oh MY GOD! as I rode down. Don't brake or you'll fall! One of the riders shouted.
Right! No problem! No braking! Just catapult down to my death!

The loop ended with a berm and a jump. (I did not know it was a berm. I described it to Andy and that is what he said it was.) The berm was dirt, but not that steep, and the jump was small, and got smaller as riders went over it. (It was a built up block of dirt, basically.) My heart was still thundering in my chest when got to this berm, as I had not yet gotten over the descent on sand situation. So I didn't actually stop for the berm, I just pedaled hard, and to my great surprise, I made it to the other side and over the little jump!

Miracles do happen!

When the race started I got at the very back of the pack. We all went at once--the fastest riders separated by only like a minute from the slower riders. Of course, to me, they were all fast riders. We started and by the first sandy area I was already in last place. By lap three I was lapped, and by lap four every single person had lapped me. Then I sat out a lap. Then I finished up with a few more laps, stopping occasionally to watch the riders blast through the obstacles like they weren't even there.

So, I think you could say I finished last in this race... except I maybe didn't even really finish. But hey! I started! It was NOT a beginner type of event at all. I realized while there that it is actually just a way for competitive cyclocross racers to get in a mid week, race-type effort. There were no beginners there. Sure, some of them might have described themselves as beginners, but they were not--not really. Not like me!

But that is OKAY. Because I find it sort of thrilling to start something new that I am so ill-equipped to do well. I can only get better, and this shit is cool, and it will be even cooler if I can get to the point where I can actually do any of it!

I'm psyched.
I wanted to leave you with a super awesome cyclocross video that showcased all the elements I just described. But I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for, so instead I leave you with this one. My friend Marisa first shared this beauty with me:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Going for the Goal--(Around the Back and Sideways)

I feel unarmed without a goal.

I have one. It's to do well, by my standards, at Ironman.

Even though I actually do not want the IM goal to be the goal anymore, it's still the goal. It will be the goal until I satisfy it. That's annoying, but it is the way my limited, OCD brain seems to work. What's so unfortunate is that I will probably keep going for this goal until death takes me. I just have trouble letting up when I think something is close to being within my grasp.

I can have many side goals going on while I work toward a Big Kahuna goal, and what I find interesting, and worth writing about, is that I often do quite well meeting the little goals--the secondary or superfluous goals--but then fall short on meeting the Big Kahuna goal. This is not to say I haven't hit Big Kahuna goals in the past. I have--although usually inadvertently. Upon reflection I've always had trouble when I go straight shot for a Big Kahuna goal--work my ass off and go for it.  I choke under great pressure. Noted is that the pressure comes from within. I get all freaked out by how hard I've worked, and get overwhelmed by the idea that the work is all for naught if the goal isn't achieved. I know, of course, this is a truly dumb way to think. The work is never all for naught. It's the journey etc etc and so on.


I have also noted that sometimes I achieve Big Kahuna goals quite by surprise when I had actually been working toward a totally different Big Kahuna goal. For example, over the years while working (again and again) toward the IM goal I managed to go 1:30 in the half marathon, 3:15 in the full marathon, beat my fastest high school 100 backstroke time (1:12), and win my AG at an Ironman half Iron (Mooseman). Each of those accomplishments were on the list of goals I want to achieve before I'm dead list, and each of them was achieved when I was really quite focused on something else--namely the IM goal.

So I guess that damn IM goal has been good for something.

SO my thought is....
what if I do not go straight at the Big Kahuna IM goal, but go at the Big Kahuna IM goal--around the back and sideways? Like, what would happen if I don't give it Big Kahuna status in my thoughts and allow other goals to rise up and usurp it or equal it in importance?

In the spirit of this, I am not focusing on my IM goal.
*I am not focusing on it, at least exclusively, ever again.*

I know that sounds extreme.
But I think I might be onto something. I think the Big Kahuna goal needs to be sandwiched into my existing life, and not become my life. When the Big Kahuna goal becomes my life, I lose joy, motivation, and will... and then come race day I also seize up under the pressure.

This brings me to the topic of JOY.

One of my big quandaries this season was that I had lost the joy for training and racing. Now that I have been playing around for five weeks and not "training" I can see that it was my singular focus on achieving the Big Kahuna goal that caused me to lose that joy.

Andy recently read the Rasmus Henning autobiography and described to me how Henning uses a pyramid metaphor to explain achievement. The pyramid has at its base, joy. Joy is the foundation of all. Above joy is stacked Goals. Above Goals is stacked Work. Above work is stacked will. The idea is that if you don't have a foundation of joy--the goals, the work and the will will not hold up

I knew the joy was gone this summer, but I still had the goal, I still did the work and I still tried to have the will, but in the end none of that was enough, because my joy wasn't in place. My goals, work and will had no foundation. There was not place for them to rest, neatly, on top of the foundation of joy that make the training and racing and succeeding all possible.

I think I understand, now, that I have to be working toward many different things--all of which are fun--none of which take the other out--in order to achieve a Big Kahuna goal. When you put one goal above all others, you sacrifice for that goal. When you sacrifice for one goal, you leave other parts of your life and your self in the dust. Unfortunately, at least for me, that wasn't sustainable.

So I still have the goal.
But I can't sacrifice in the same way if I want to retain joy.
And I need the joy to get the goal.

So what does that LOOK LIKE?

I think it looks like this:
I take rest when I want it, as well as when I need it.
I race when I want to race, instead of not racing because I "shouldn't."
I do what my coach says, and not more than that, and in the extra time I have from not doing "more" I play. (in the garden, in the woods with my dogs, riding bikes with my kids....)
I do workouts and races for fun, and not just in service to the Big Kahuna goal.

So if I want to do a of series Cyclocross races while training for a fall IM?
I will.
If I want to do a race that doesn't make sense in terms of timing (like two half IMs back to back, or a swim meet two weeks before IM, or whatever).
I will.
If I want to splurge on an ice cream sundae when I am supposed to be trying to be perfect for training and racing IM?
I will.
If I want to make room for yoga, or a boot camp class, or a flying trapeze lesson when I'm in heavy training--and it means I sacrifice some of that heavy training for those things.
I will!

Next post:
In which I attend my first Cyclocross Training Series race, realize I have no clue, and come in dead fucking last.
and had FUN! Woot Woot!

I leave you will pictures of my super awesome and amazing Jordan, who was 10th overall in her first middle school cross country meet ever! My baby--just barely 11 year old! She's a runner! And here's the kicker: LOOK AT THE SMILE.
I have to help her to keep that joy.....

 Jordan and her friend, Katherine.
 The start of the race.
 Jordan and Katherine, running hard with a 1/2 mile to go!
Jordan sprints to the end for 10th overall! Go Jord! I'm a proud mom. (Just in case that wasn't obvious...)

Monday, September 17, 2012


abnegation*renunciation of your own interests in favor of the interests of others
*the act of renouncing; sacrificing or giving up or surrendering (a possession or right or title or privilege etc.)
*acting with less concern for yourself than for the success of the joint activity*self-sacrifice, selflessness


I've been reading the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

I originally bought the first book, Divergent, for Jordan to read because she liked The Hunger Games series and this series was supposedly akin to that--dystopian, featuring a young, tough, competent female protagonist who is the leader in a revolution and who saves the world from its utopia gone awry, and who, in addition to this world saving, is smoking hot (though naturally she is such a tomboy/tough girl that she doesn't "realize" she is hot) and all the guys in the book want her. Of course, she ends up with the hot co-protagonist dude who is also super hot and a revolutionary.

Anyway, in Divergent the dystopian future features a society divided into factions. When one comes of age, she goes through a computerized simulation test to determine to which faction she belongs. There are five factions: the Erudite, the Dauntless, Candor, Abnegation and Amity.

From their titles you can hypothesize what each faction is like. When a person doesn't fit into any one faction she is labeled Divergent, and is considered dangerous but the other factions. She also has what one might consider superpowers. Obviously the reader recognizes that it is best to be Divergent--to be a person who is multi-faceted and complex. And we all our divergent, of course... but I must admit I've spent some time thinking about to which faction I might predominantly belong if I were in this future society.  And I've been thinking about where you belong, too, depending on who you are.

My conclusion for me?
Erudite with a side of candor.

In order of preference and personality I think I would be:
1. Erudite
2. Candor
3. Amity
4. Dauntless
5. ... and not at all --totally do not belong --Abnegation.

Why do I even bring this up?
Because I AM PLAGUED BY THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I AM NOT IN THE LEAST BIT SELFLESS (abnegation) or fearless (dauntless). And see, even saying that is a big Catch-22 because in worrying/reflecting upon/lamenting/angrily admitting that I am not selfless, I am showcasing how I am self-absorbed.

Not that I need to prove this fact to you. I know you already know it. But...
Most things I do have to do with .... me!
I blog. (about me).
I work out and race a ton. (all about me.)
I write in my journal. (about me.)
I have a job that is more about what I am interested in than what is practical, and which allows me to train and race. (so right, about me.)
I adore my dogs. (because they give me love without asking a ton from me.)

Sure, I'd jump in front of a bus to save any one of my children, but would I jump in front of a bus to save you?
Probably not. Which isn't to say I don't like you...I'm just not selfless. I LIKE being alive and I would rather not be hit by a bus because you stepped in front of one.

I am not selfless and I am not fearless.
And I'm pretty sure that being selfless and fearless is where it's at--that fully "realized" people have achieved--or actively work on achieving-- selflessness and fearlessness.

Okay, so how does any of this relate to triathlon?
Well, if you are a triathlete, I'm sure you have been referred to as self-centered--or worse, as selfish--and worst of all, as a narcissist.  Certainly, unless you have maybe done every triathlon you have ever done more to raise money for charity than for your own personal satisfaction and glory, it has been implied--or even outright stated-- that you are not selfless--at all.

Am I right or am I right?
And you feel bad about that--(or angry--or both).
Am I right or am I right?

And the question is, what do we, or more importantly, I, (see --self-centered), do with this information?

Selflessness is referred to with such reverence. And even narcissistic old me can see that the world would be a peaceful, controlled, civilized one if we could all become selfless. But is that the goal? Should it be? Likewise, being self-centered is referred to with such disdain. Yet we embrace the tenet of our country--life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The U.S.'s foundation is all about SELF--self-improvement, self-promotion, freedom of self, freedom to pursue happiness for the self.

It gets confusing. I feel like I have been socialized to be one thing (self-centered) and yet society  condemns me for being self-centered--which is not to place blame on society, as opposed to placing blame on me. Or maybe that is exactly my intent. As I said, it gets confusing.

A lot of my blog seems to be about identity--about searching for it, coming to peace with it, defining it, transcending it, embracing its apparent beauty and/or flaws.

What I don't know here is whether I should be seeking to change. Should the goal be to become more selfless? If I cared more about others would I spend that time helping others instead of pursuing my own passion? And is that right? Is that good? Does it matter?

In the end I very much believe in the idea that I have only one spin around in life.
Which is a selfish way to view life.
Which is probably why even pondering all this is moot. (right, not mute, mom. Although I have a feelings most of my readers will be mute in terms of commenting on this post!!)

If you could make sense of this post, you are a better person than I!

I wore my bright yellow/lime sparkly suit to the pool Saturday. Just thought I'd let you know. I got quite a few comments... not all completely endorsing of it. Imagine that!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Swim Goddess Etc Part 2

Since my last race, after which I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my left foot and was given a really sexy boot to wear, I decided it was time to change things up a bit.

The old body and mind had been screaming at me to to take a major vacation from triathlon for weeks and weeks (okay, months) before the injury was diagnosed, but I refused to listen. (shocker).
I felt I "needed" to finish the season I had set out to do. And I am sort of a stubborn pain in my own ass (and okay, also in other people's asses--like Alina's and Ange's, and Andy's, and Kurt's), and so I wouldn't stop training and racing despite my flagging enthusiasm and my nagging fatigue.

But my plan to finish the season was foiled, so I stopped fighting and committed to the vacation from triathlon I needed. It took a bit.... but I did.

It started with taking a full two weeks completely off. Okay, not completely.  I swam in the ocean a few times.  But other than that I took two weeks off from training. I'd like to say it was an awesome two weeks. It was--because I was in Maine and on the beach with Alina and our kids--but I WAS OFF. Oh MAMA I just do NOT do well when I am forced to rest. I felt like a caged animal. I felt heavy and lethargic. I felt like I had lost my center completely.

But I survived. (I'm not sure Alina did... sorry 'bout that, Bean!) I slept a lot. I ate a lot. I lounged a lot. I complained a lot.

The time off was a good thing in that it made me really really really really not want to take any more time off, which in turn made me think about all the things I wanted to do--at least the things I wanted to do that didn't involve me re-injuring my foot.  Unfortunately, after two weeks, most everything still kinda hurt the foot except for swimming. And truthfully, even swimming hurt when I'd forget to only push of the wall with my right foot and not my left. That was discouraging and also super annoying. Isn't TWO WEEKS ENOUGH?
I know, I know.
Anyway, I decided to buck up, and make swimming my major focus since I couldn't do other cool stuff. Which, as I mentioned in my last post, necessitated the purchase of a few swim new suits:

No doubt I will get comments from my new Masters friends, which is, naturally, the point. Admit it, you've always wanted to wear a shiny, metallic yellow/lime suit. Admit it! And I'm 42--so I have reached that magical point that I can wear whatever the fuck I want. So can you. Even if you haven't reached that golden age of 42. I give you permission.

So, in my last post I described PROJECT SWIM GODDESS. The swim suits are a first step for sure.

That project is going well. I'm getting better at remembering to push off with only my right foot. I'm getting better at enduring the long Masters workouts, and I am finding my place among my new Masters compatriots. Today I even successfully remembered my lane mates' names: Randy, Nancy and Pat. Next to my lane there were Sue, Tim, and...... okay, two guys I have swum with but can't remember their names. But I am getting there! On Monday we had a practice that was 4300 yards of IM work. It was a mother f-cker. I was exhausted when I finished, and seriously wondered how I would make it through the day. But I also loved it. There is nothing better than really getting your ass kicked in the pool.

There are a few things to note about Project Swim Goddess:

  • I am hungry ALL THE TIME. It's like IM training. Swimming just makes me want to eat everything in sight. This is not good. I will not be a goddess if the food consumption continues at this reckless rate.
  • I have to get up at 5 a.m. to make the start of practice. This is really and truly difficult. I'm adjusting, though.
  • My hair is even crispier than usual. 
  • Deep google marks are becoming a permanent facial attribute. 
  • So far I am feeling stronger, but I'm not actually faster. 
  • I suck beyond sucking at breaststroke and something must be done about this.  
Although my injured paw is not really ready for it, I have also joined a few boot camp type classes. I was never under the naive assumption that these classes would be easy for me because I am an endurance athlete. I knew I would walk away so sore I could barely move. And I was right! My friend Tracy has convinced me to do this strength/agility type course put on by a group called CATZ. We did so many squats the first day that I HONESTLY had trouble sitting down for like a week following it. 

My friend Rose convinced me to join her Fit Club class at the SweatShop, too. Great name, huh? The Sweat Shop! Anyway. Rose is an ultra endurance runner, and I knew if she described the class as an ass kicker it would be. And I was right. We did about a thousand push-ups the first class--and a thousand jumpy things and a thousand sit-up type things that were harder than sit-ups and I definitely barely survived. This is a picture of the woman leading the class: 

If you click on her picture it links to her site. She is a definitely a bad ass!

And in final news on the vacation from triathlon front, I got myself a cyclocross bike!
Here she is:

Great color, huh? I got her used from a woman x-racer who used her as a pit bike. Well, I feel like I have rescued a good-looking puppy. No more PIT BIKE status for my new baby! She is the QUEEN--the one and only cross bike owned by Mary, cat. 4 DFL cyclocross racer!

She doesn't have the right pedals yet. Have to get those. And shoes. But I have been riding her on trails and at the the local high school fields, and I must say, I am in love. I am upright! I can control this bike! I can do a tight u-turn without feeling like I am going to tip over!  The only downsides about riding her -- I am slow, and I am weak, and I'm chicken.

I have learned... riding in the grass is freaking hard! Once I hit a field I get tired in literally 2 seconds. But I'm getting better. Today I lasted 13 whole minutes going through wet, longish grass. Go me!
I'm planning on going to a few training series races at the end of September, and then a few "real" races before the season is out. I am mentally prepared to look like an ass. I am actually going to relish it. There is no meaning attached to this for me except to do something totally out of my comfort zone and survive it and have fun while doing so.

That's what I'm talking about.

I miss running so badly it hurts.
(a little melodramatic, but man, I miss it so much!)
But I am going to have fun until my foot can manage it again. I am.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Project Swim Goddess

This week I joined a new Masters team. Andy (the mate) and one of my athletes have been going to this group since last winter. The coach of this team types out the workouts and gives each swimmer a copy. I'd beg Andy to bring home the workouts (even if the paper was tattered and soggy) so I could copy each one and do it on my own. I loved the workouts because they were always the perfect distance (about 4000 yards) and the coach had intervals set out for an A, B, C and D group. I fit the B group perfectly, so the intervals were ready made and perfect for me.

For awhile I thought I should just allow that Masters group be Andy's thang... you know. Give him some space--don't invade his new fun workout party--continue to steal the workouts he brought home and execute them solo. But then I thought, fuck that. I want to go too! So I decided to join this group in the mornings. (Andy swims at night, so it's still sort of his thing, right?)

My first practice was on Monday. Since it was Labor Day, the practice was at 8:00 am, and Andy didn't have to work, so we went together.  We did 4100 yards, and I loved it!

Here are the reasons I loved it:

1. The people were nice, and I found the B people and felt like I fit right in.
2. The workout was challenging, but I could do it without a problem.
3. The time went fast... even though part of the workout was 4 x 300 and I hate 300s (I don't mind 400s or 200s, but I just really don't like 300s.)
4. The coach remarked that he thinks with a month or so of work I might be able to move up to the A group.
5. and finally, The coach is smoking, and I mean SMOKING hot. (Okay, he's like 25...I know I know). All the reasons above were reason enough, but an eye candy coach just seals the deal for me! (I did question Andy thoroughly about this... as in, How could you have kept that small detail from me? Hello! He just rolled his eyes ....)

So I plan to swim with this group three mornings a week. I also plan to swim on Tuesdays with a group at Harvard. I like that team too, but it's just not that easy to get to Cambridge to train. Then I plan to swim one day all by my lonesome.  If I don't develop a major shoulder injury from training the swim 5x a week, I will fast become the swim goddess I aim to become. Since I can't run (sob!) this seems (at least to me) like a good plan.

In honor of my new swim goddess goal, I have (of course) purchased a few new suits from Splish. Two are shiny suits--you know--like metallic. One is red and the other is a lime color. The other suit is pink with white polka dots. They were having a sale over the Labor Day weekend. That is my excuse, and I'm sticking to it. That, and my plan to honor becoming a swim goddess. No need to reflect upon the fact that I already have so many swim suits I have had to devote and entire drawer of my dresser to house them all.

Other than swimming, I have not been up to much except for the usual work/chores/parent. I wear my boot around. I've been eating (too much). I've been hanging with the dogs in the woods. I've been spending way too long on FaceBook and too much time reading (at least recently) trashy novels.

I have also been looking for a used Cyclocross bike to buy.
And I think I may have found one.
If I can get this foot to heal then I will be spending some time trying to ride the thing.
Should be comical and worth several hilarious posts!

Maybe I will marry the two goals--swim goddess and cyclocross survivor--and pedal around in my lime green sparkly suit while sitting on my new/used Cross bike. What do you think?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Leaving Ocean Park

Sunrise in Ocean Park, Maine.

We left Ocean Park yesterday for home in Massachusetts. 

This year it was especially hard to leave for a few reasons. Because I was diagnosed with a stress fracture only a week after getting to Ocean Park, I wasn't able to do my usual running and biking there. I have routes I like to do each summer. The hardest part of the timing of this injury was that: I was in my favorite place in the world to train, and I was unable to train. 

Granted, I was burned out and didn't want to do a lot of training anyway....

But somehow when you are TOLD you cannot do anything and a boot is slapped on your foot, it makes it all the harder. The old adage you don't know what you've got until it's gone... is oh so true. It's easy to lament how much you don't want to train until someone says, OKAY, no training for you, sister! (I know you all know what I'm saying here...)

SO, anyway, it was especially hard to leave yesterday, knowing I didn't get out to Lyman,Waterboro, Cornish and Limerick to ride, and knowing I had missed the inaugural OOB REV Half, and knowing I hadn't completed my favorite running routes through Ocean Park,  Ferry Beach, and Old Orchard--and most of all knowing I can't come back in a few months to do these routes when my foot is healed. I have to wait all the way until next summer. God damn!  

It's also hard to leave OP because we leave Alina and her kids. Alina and I (and I know you know this already if have read this blog for awhile) have been tight since grade 4 when we both had the very strict and mean Mrs. Small.  We have stuck together all these years, and are incredibly lucky in that we get to spend almost the entire summer together each year, courtesy of my incredible parents, who own (and are willing to share) this fantastic beach house in OP that can accommodate us all. Alina's three kids are the same ages and sex as my three kids (Jordan/Maria (11), Noah/Ethan (8) and Dara/Lara (7). By late August our families function like a well-oiled unit.  It's hard for all of us to separate at the end of the summer. My kids spent the better part of a half hour literally weeping pitifully after we loaded up the van and hit the road. I admit, I cried a little, too. I do every year.

More than anything I will miss Alina salting wine glasses as we make dinner, and pouring us each a a glass of pre-made margarita.  Sigh. That is the best. 

A few photos of OP life. Yup, I have it good! I know it!

Noah and Ethan--trash picking in order to collect cans so they can buy candy at the corner store. They made over $25 a piece this summer. Do you know how many freaking cans that is? (And how much candy? We finally had to require they save the money and not blow it all on Blow-Pops and Laffy Taffy.)

Ethan and Noah fighting nature by building a dam.

Ethan blocking a large leak with his body when sand reinforcements have failed to keep nature at bay.

 Dara and Lara warming up after swimming.

Jordan and Maria, pausing in their sandcastle creating to allow me to take a picture.
*You can just barely see the Pier in Old Orchard extending into the ocean far down the beach. The OOB REV 1/2 starts just before the Pier. I'm not kidding when I say that race was in my back yard!

Jordan eating a cookie while standing next to her completed Mayan sand temple.

The best time of day on the beach--around 5:30 p.m.

Alina and me, final day on the beach.


I admit that even though my last week in Ocean Park was awesome, as always, I went a bit stir crazy because I have been only able to swim! Alina and I did get a few nice wetsuit swims in the ocean this week, but as most of you bike/run addicts know, that ain't enough when you are used to working out like we usually do. To say I'm jones-ing to sweat is an understatement.

Today marks two weeks since I last bike/ran. When I was told I had a fracture, I decided that the next two weeks would be totally off. I needed the break, and I had to take it anyway because of the foot, so those two weeks would be my yearly off weeks, that I usually take in the late fall. I've been sleeping a lot, babying the foot, and otherwise being extremely lazy. It's safe to say I've successfully lost some fitness and gained some poundage while indulging in the usual OP fare: frosted cinnamon rolls from the local bakery in the mornings, margaritas at dinner, and ice cream from the OP Soda Fountain at night.

But today it all ends! Today I become.... SUPER MARY! 
Nothing like 2 weeks hiatus from working out to make a person want to go crazy working out.

Unfortunately, the craziness will not include running for now. That is a killer, but I've set some NON running goals that I know will hep me get through the next 8 weeks (Dear GOD hopefully not more than that) until I am able to run again. 

I'm going to swim like the baddest bad ass swimmer ever. I'm going to see if I can hit 20K in one week a few times.
I'm going to do yoga a few times a week, and take two boot camp type classes (minus the sprinting they involve) per week. 
I'm going to get on my bike a few times a week and do some short, hard workouts. 

Kurt also wants me to do some aqua running. 
I assign this all the time to my athletes, and it sucksssssssss. We'll see how much I actually do. Yucko on that. 

I have three swim meets on my schedule. The final meet will be the Short Course Meter Masters Championship at Boston University in early December. I do this meet every year, but it's usually pretty laid back for me because I generally don't do much training in November leading up to the meet. BUT THIS YEAR, I plan to really go for it at that meet.

I am a sucker for things like rankings, and I have discovered that just like in triathlon, USMS ranks swimmers in each masters age group by event and time. So I have goals based on rank! Very fun.
The only semi-decent ranking I got last year in SCM was the 200 meter back. I'm ranked 21 in the country for that (2011). (I think this speaks to how few people do that event as opposed to my 200 meter back prowess, but I'll take it.) My goal is to make it to the top 15 in the 200m back this year, and top 20 in the 50m and 100m back. I'd also like to make the top 30 in the 400m and the top 20 in the 100m fly.
For times that means roughly I'd need to do a:
200m back in 2:50
100m back in 1:20
50m back in :36
400m free in 5:50
100m fly in 1:27

That's all I have for goals right now. But I'm psyched!
Today marks me very last day of lazy-ville. Tomorrow I start my swim goddess training.