Saturday, October 27, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese and So On

About two weeks ago I had a gynecological appointment. I won't get into the details of it; it involved what is usually involved in an annual--a fair amount of wincing during necessary medical procedure(s) and an uplifting conversation surrounding aging and its effects on one's reproductive system.


At said appointment they took my "vitals".  I usually do well in the vital department, which is to say my vitals raise no red flags. In fact, usually they inspire a few mutterings of "excellent" and "super" from the mouth of the nurse in charge of taking them.  My blood pressure is super, my pulse is good, I can make the little plastic do-hickey in the small plastic pipe they ask you to blow into go up high enough to not cause alarm.

And my weight is fine.

Except I, like every other woman I know, have issues when it comes to weight.  So although my vitals are quite good, my psychological state is not quite so good when it comes to the issue of poundage.
I talk a good game. I'm just fine as long as the correct number appears on the scale. When the number is acceptable I can actually be quite blithe about it all. What's to worry about? I look fine, you look fine, we all look fine! Thank GOD weight is just not an issue for me anymore. I love my body!

And I do love my body. I just don't like it quite so much when the number on the scale does not say the correct number, which in short means, that yes, I am full of it and I actually have just as much of an issue with my body as you do. (That is if you have an issue, which you likely do. Just saying.)

I deal with this issue by simply not getting on the scale in the off season, and actually during most of the in-season as well. Voila!  Problem solved. I am a big proponent of the idea that what you don't know can't hurt you. But if for some reason I MUST get onto the scale in the off season, I certainly do not do so unless I have just come back from a double session of yoga in a super hot studio.  That is not neurosis; that is simply common sense.

But the doctor, dear GOD, the doctor... She puts you on that scale in your clothing (and I was wearing jeans for God's sake!) and then blithely announces the number to you, as if you can't see it, staring you right in your fat face. And so I see the number, and I am told the number, and suddenly I start having palpitations right there in the office. I begin to breathe in short, sharp breaths and I wonder whether I should perhaps ask for a paper bag to blow into so I don't start hyperventilating.  That's an exaggeration, of course. But barely.

Anyway, since I saw this number on the scale--which, I will add, is a fine number, a perfectly good number, a number which probably would have had me running in gleeful circles and cartwheeling and doing a snarky little victory dance had I seen it staring back at me when a porky college freshman--that number has me in a tailspin. Of course it does.  And I know it's "just a number" and I know my body looks fabulous for 40 (ahem +) and I know that I am healthy, and I know that I shouldn't complain, and I know you are going to say in your comments something like, OMG, don't you have better things to think about than the 5 pounds you must lose to make you look too skinny anyway? Or worse still, You have a GREAT body! etc and so on and I know I know I KNOW! And I also know that is entirely beside the point. And you know it too. Admit it. You do know that. You know it because you likely suffer from the same craziness, and if you don't you either did not grow up in this countryor you're a liar and I'm calling you on it. right. now.
Dear God.

I need to tell you that although I have copious books on nutrition, sports nutrition, eating paleo, eating gluten-free, eating like a saint, eating for a green planet etc; even though I am extremely well-read on the topic and advise my athletes accordingly (or try to), it still has not affected my actual eating that much. For example, Jordan decided to make macaroni and cheese tonight after I threatened to make a vegetable stir-fry, and so naturally I allowed her to and then ate several extremely generous portions of it along with a small bowl of green peas.

Even when I try very hard to be perfectly perfect I seem to fail. For example, while trying to fix myself a healthy snack the other day I decided on carrots and hummus--seemingly benign--seemingly a good choice, right?

I had four enormous carrots. I'm not kidding--these carrots were like mutant carrots--thick and about a foot long. And with these four monster carrots I ate the entire container of hummus, which I realized, upon completing it, contained 500 calories. An 8 inch carrot has about 30 calories, so multiply that times 8--and I had 240 calories worth of CARROTS, which combined with the caloric intake of the hummus amounted to roughly 750 calories. For carrots. and hummus. 750 calories. I could have had a Whopper for God's sake! Except of course I couldn't have; that's not the same... but you get what I am saying. I am a woman capable of consuming 750 calories of carrots and hummus for a snack.

In the past I have lost weight only by running. When the weight doesn't come off I simply run more. and then more. You can see how I came to running marathons, and then to completing Ironman. I'm in awe of people who can keep their weight without running a billion miles a week. It's simply astounding. It is a discipline I admire and have never attained.


In other news. Jordan, super-daughter, and I got out for a cross race this morning. It was our first race that was not a total mud-fest, and I must say that courses without mud are almost more difficult than with mud. This is because there are no breaks. You simply must hammer the entire time, and there is no excuse, really, for slowing up at all. Of course those proficient at riding in mud would argue that mud doesn't not present a "break"of any kind--but I am not proficient in mud, and so for me, it does. At points in the race I was breathing so hard my throat felt that burn-- you know that burn? , and certainly my quads were screaming. This felt fabulous to me--and also horrible.

I'm not sure how I placed because we left before the results were posted, but I think I may have actually beaten more women than usual! It's possible, anyway. Jordan beat two young boys, so she was quite thrilled. We celebrated by going to Dunkin' Donuts. And so my post comes full circle. I'm afraid I'm in need of a few thousand running miles....

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Because I'm new to cyclocross, I don't know if it's normal to have nearly every race be a total mud-fest. Every weekend since my first cross race has been rainy on one or both days, making conditions on the courses extremely slick and muddy. Plus, I've realized, the Cat 4 people always race in the morning, when conditions are at their muddiest and slickest. No fair, I say. Shouldn't the very best racers race on the course when it is at its worst? hmmmm? Of course, I kind of dig racing in the mud like that. It makes it more crazy and stupid, and lately I've been all about crazy and stupid.

In the last few weeks I've competed in two muddy cross races and a swim meet. Luckily, the swim meet was not muddy. But it was cold. The AIR temperature was cold. This made for a rather unpleasant meet, actually. I had to dress in sweats, Uggs, and my down coat between events. And I still turned blue.

I swam the 400 meter free, the 100 meter back, and the 50 meter back. I usually don't race in meters, but Masters swimming in the fall/early winter appears to be short course meters season. Because I practice in yards, I have a much better sense of what I can do in each event IN yards. Times in meters seem like a foreign language to me. As soon as I finish swimming an event I have to try to convert the time in my head to yards to get a sense of how I did.

And in this meet I did pretty well! Remember when the super fast suits were legal--way back like two years ago? Well, my fastest recorded times in meters were done in one of those suits. I have to tell you, those suits really did make you faster. I have been unable to match any times I got while wearing one of those babies -- until now! In 2010 I swam the 400 meter free in 5:53. At this meet I swam it in 5:48 without the suit! Woot! Psych! I was less psyched about the fact there were only two heats of the 400, and I got placed in the faster heat, with all the crazy fast men. Those crazy fast men lapped me. But, hey, I got a personal best time, so I was cool with it.

Approximately 2 minutes after I finished swimming the 400, it was time to swim the 50 meter back. These little meets go SO fast. Two minutes ain't enough time to recover from a 400! Anyway, luckily there is no getting lapped in the 50 meter back, since it's only a 50. I also wasn't put into the fastest heat for this event, Thank God, so I would have been fine anyway--at least in terms of getting lapped.

I worked on my backstroke start with Carlos, my hot swim coach the day before the meet. (Did I mention he got married last weekend? So sad for all those young, single women...) Anyway. Carlos worked with me a bit on my backstroke start the day before the meet, and hence I actually DID NOT do a back belly flop. That was thrilling in itself. (The trick is to kick up your feet. Who knew? Okay, all you swimmers knew....) I swam as hard as my not-yet-recovered body could swim, and finished in 39.5. Yes! My goal had been to break 40 seconds. I haven't had the chance to swim 50 meter back in a meet before, so I'm counting this one as PR, too.

About a half hour later I swam the 100 backstroke. The time to beat-- a 1:22.6, obtained in 2010 with one of those damn suits. I'm sad to say that I did NOT best that time. I came in at 1:24 flat. (This is still much better than my 100 meter back time from 2011, which was a 1:28...) I have one more meet this fall to try to break that 1:22...

Okay. Onto Cross. As I mentioned in a previous post, I convinced Andy and Jordan to give cross a try. They love it! Yah! So I'm all obsessed with making this a family thing, now. Noah can race next year, and Lara in two, so soon we can all just go and race. It's a given that someone in the family will decide cross is NOT his/her thing. But I am hoping that doesn't happen. Currently it works great in that Lara and Noah tool around on their mountain bikes while we race, and Andy and I never race at the same time, so someone is always there to watch them.

Anyway. Our first family race was in Lancaster, MA--the Minuteman Club race. It was mostly muddy grass, very slick, and super duper turny. It was a small enough race that all the women--cat 1-4--raced together. This was slightly un-fun, because I knew the chance of getting lapped was much higher if cat 1/2 shared the race course with we slow pokes in cat 4. To make matters worse, the cat 1 and 2 riders started a minute before us. How very uncool! The chances of getting lapped were now greater STILL!

So, I tried. I tried to go fast around all those grassy, wet, muddy turns! And it was fun! And I only fell once. (Both Jordan and Andy fell more than once, so I see this as a Mom victory.) Still, as I neared the end of my race, low and behold, two cat 1 women passed me. (Catherine, coached by Kurt too, was one of them. She is super awesome at cross and tri.) Anyway, I was a wee bit sad, but also glad knowing that I had not finished DFL, yet again. Three for three races and no DFL!

Jordan raced right after me, and she had a blast until some kid clipped her back tire and she went flying. She got a rather nasty, bloody cut on her knee. But she was a trooper about it, and she was psyched for more. (That's my girl!)
Here I'm about to go onto the wood chips.

 Jordan--first race.
 It was muddy!

Lara playing on the podium, acting like the winners with arms in the air. Woot!

This last weekend was Noah's birthday. First, Jordan and Lara made an awesome breakfast for the family to celebrate.

Jordan is really into making our house the next Pottery Barn or William Sonoma or something, so she loves to put out these spreads. She and Andy watch This Old House together, and she's constantly making designs that show how she wants to renovate the kitchen. All this is good with me. I am completely and totally not into home decor, and she can take it on as her domain! (But I'm not re-doing the kitchen. No way. ) The other day she noticed that some of our door knobs are brass, and some brushed silver.  Apparently this is not good. Ummm, aren't you eleven? Who gives a shit about doorknobs at eleven?

Anyway. Back to the weekend. After the breakfast Noah, Lara and Jordan took a flying trapeze lesson. (Jordan and I liked it so much we decided Noah and Lara should get a class, too. ) I have cool pictures from this, but I can't find the zip file right now, so that will have to wait.

We drove up to Maine that night, and the next day raced in New Gloucester at the Downeast Cross Race at Pineland Farms. Okay, the Minuteman race had been sloppy, but this was crazy! It had really rained the day before and everything was just MUD. There was a 50 yard stretch of 2 feet deep mud/water that everyone just rode right through. Jordan, poor thing, lost her sneaker in it! (She doesn't have clipless pedals yet.) So she's trying to get her sneaker from out of the depths of the mud, and women around her are screaming, On your right! On your left! (She did find it, though.)

Truly exciting for me was that I did not get lapped, AND I made it to the top of the bottom quarter of Cat 3/4! I was 29 out of 39.... movin' on up! (You have to celebrate every little victory, right?)
Here are some photos post-race.

 The race was at Pineland Farms, and so we also got to see the cows!

Noah and Lara found the food pellets and fed every cow in the barn like 5 cups each, so the cows totally loved them.
Okay, the end to the longest post ever. Up next: Canton Cross!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Hard.

to take a break.

It's equally hard not to. And I think that's the rub.

I have this conversation every few days with my coach. It goes something like this:

Him: You are doing too many quality sessions.
Me: Are you kidding me? I'm doing nothing! What do you count as quality?
Him: Master's, strength classes, cross races, swim meets...
Me: That's playing! That is not quality!
Him: You shouldn't be doing this much as you trend toward the off season.
Me: TREND toward the off season? Dude, I am IN THE OFF SEASON.
Him: Good, then stop doing so many quality sessions.

I'm not kidding that we have engaged in some form of this discussion at least 3 times a week for the last month and a half. When I look for sympathy from Andy this is what happens:

Me: Kurt thinks I'm doing to much.
Him: Kurt's right.
Me: What do you MEAN he's right! I've gained 7 pounds!
Him: You're supposed to gain 7 pounds. Plus, I bet it's not 7 pounds.
Me: It is 7 pounds! What do you think I'm doing that is too much?
Him: Master's, strength classes, cross races, swim meets....
Me: This is a conspiracy.
Him: Why don't you just let up a bit? Take a nap. This happens every year. Do we have to talk it through like 10 times a week? You always freak out, you always gain weight, you always fight it. Then you get back in shape and lose all the weight. EVERY YEAR.
Me: silence.

I'm just writing this out for all of my athletes who I have asked to take a break.
Here is my message:
and I'm sorry.
But you have to.

It's really freaking hard, and I fight it, too.
God Bless the Obsessed. You have my deepest sympathy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Keeping Crazy

This week I got the green light to run. Within minutes of receiving this oh so welcome news I laced up the running shoes. I left the podiatrist's office, went home immediately to collect the dogs, and headed for the woods to run trails.

The only problem.... The foot still hurts a bit. And it still hurts a bit to run.

Apparently it's not the site of the fracture that hurts, though. It's the second metatarsal joint above the site of the fracture. I have scar tissue in and around the joint and some arthritis there, too. (This curtesy of my super sexy, really pronounced bunions, which displace a lot of pressure to the second metatarsal joint). Apparently that's where the bulk of the pain has originated from all along. Awesome. So, I'm having some PT work done on the foot and using ultrasound to break up some of the scar tissue. Hopefully this will help. However, between you and me, (entire blogging world), I will be running whether there is pain or not. Eight weeks is way too long to be without running, and I'm done waiting. Plus I've gained (seriously) over 5 pounds in the last 8 weeks. Sweet Jesus it's amazing how fast that happens.

As much as I'd like to, I'm not running every day. In fact, I've only run a few times since getting the green light, and all these runs have been short. Running, it turns out, is quite hard if you have not run in eight weeks (and you are five pounds up).  My brain wants to go out for an awesomely long run. But my body isn't ready yet. Sadly.

Luckily, I have Project Bring Back the Joy to keep me occupied as I inch my way back to some run fitness. I did two kick ass things this week to contribute to that campaign.

First, I took a trapeze lesson.

My friend Marisa (and fellow kick-ass TM athlete) suggested it, and though I was reluctant at first, I finally caved and decided it fit well into the JOY thing. I brought along my intrepid Jordan. She loves shit like that. I knew trapezing would be right up her alley.

And I was right!

 Jordan gets ready to jump

I contemplate whether it is a good idea to let go with my arms, like I'm being asked to...

 My first jump... (arms are supposed to be straight... oops.)

Jordan flips over getting ready to dismount

This is my favorite shot. She is one happy trapeze flyer!

 Here I attempt a connection with the teacher. (It looks like I will make it, but I didn't quite! One second after this shot was taken I flop into the net.

Here I realize that flying like this is so freaking cool!

Jordan makes the connection on her first try. Something about being a kid makes this easier, I think.... That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Anyway. We had the BEST DAY. We trapezed, we bonded with Marisa and Sean (Marisa's boyfriend who also took the trapeze class), and we ate huge ice creams after the class finished. Thank you Marisa and Sean for convincing us to go! We loved it so much that I signed Noah and Lara up for a class, too. We will go on Noah's birthday in a few weeks.

Also in keeping with Project Bring Back the Joy I competed in my second cyclocross race! Guess what? I still suck quite profoundly. But it was just as fun as the first time I tried to race, so I'm psyched!

I traveled to Providence on Sunday morning to ride in the cat 3/4 women's race. I became just a tad freaked out, however, once I got onto the course to sample it before my race. First off, this race was much much bigger than my first race had been. HOLY MOLY were there a ton of people there! There were 70 women racing cat 3/4--compared to the 23 in my first one. Also, this course was oh so much harder than the first race I did. (Also more fun...) There were tons of turns and off-camber stuff, a fly over (now THAT was fun), obstacles in two places (one going uphill--I didn't like that so much) (I noted the really good cyclists were able to bunny hop those barriers... amazing), a really scary downhill, uphill, turn, downhill, turn uphill thing, stairs you had to dismount for and run up, and a few really good straight-aways on which you could sprint.

Here are a few pictures of the race on Day 1. (by Wil Matthews taken from the Velo News site). This is the men's elite race. (I was actually there on Day 2.)

and this is the elite women jumping over the hurdles going uphill.  (Helen Wyman, in the white, won the race.) This was taken day 2, when it was a bit more muddy and wet!

This is a picture of the flyover. Fun! I loved that thing.

And here's a link to a fun video showcasing the men's race on Day 1. The elites are SO FAST. I find it fascinating.

The biggest problem I had occurred during warm-up. When attempting the scary d/u/t/d/t/u thing, I FELL, quite hard. It had taken all my courage to attempt the thing, (I'm not sure what to call it other than THE THING), and then WHAM, I was on my side, and skidding down the hill, still clipped in on both sides. It was quite astoundingly ugly and certainly a little painful. Also embarrassing. Of course, I'm pretty used to being embarrassed-so that part was okay. But I did I bang myself up rather excellently. A goose egg fast appeared on my shin that was large, purple, and super duper painful. Also, my chain ring sliced into my calf, creating lovely, dirty puncture wounds.

Yep. And I hadn't even started racing yet!

I got into the race and every time I hit that one section I freaked... got off Winnie (my bike), shouldered her, and ran the area instead of trying to ride it. I lost TONS of time doing this...
plus it is super tiring to run down, and up, and around, and down, and around, and up, carrying your bike. sigh.
but hey. I'm forgiving myself.
Next time. Next time--next year--I'll do that thing. I'll ride that thing!
(Also maybe I will know what to call it next year!)

In the mean time I am proud to say that although this race was more competitive (in that it was a BIGGER more BAD ASS) race than my first, I still did NOT PLACE LAST! This is very exciting. I also didn't get lapped. This is also huge. I'm proud.

Next up:

Saturday-- Swim Meet!
(In which I try to go really really fast in the 100 meter backstroke while wearing a super shiny, gold bathing suit.)
and then

Sunday- Cyclocross Race #3!
(In which Jordan and Andy come to the race and race with me!, because they just got cyclocross bikes, too! Woot Woot!) (I can be very convincing, you see. It only took me a small amount of time to convince my family that Cyclocross needs to become a family activity!)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

I'm getting good.....

Last night I traveled to Marshfield for my third foray into the world of CYCLOCROSS. 

But before I get into that, let me just get you up to speed. Last Wednesday I attended a clinic run by Helen Wyman and her husband, Stefan. Helen Wyman is a super stud-ress Cross racer. She is like 4th in the world or something. So I went to this clinic on Tuesday, and then Stefan and Helen lead us through the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross course in Lancaster, MA on Wednesday. Then, a few hours later, I raced my very first, real, bonafide Cross race. 

It was fun. 

AND I didn't come in last! Au Contraire! I finished ahead of six other women in Cat 4! (One was an eleven-year-old... but I'm still counting it as a WIN for moi.) Anyway. I fell only once when racing, while trying to turn over wood chips. I also had a bit of trouble jumping back onto my bike after jumping over a hurdle on foot. The hurdle was set going slightly uphill--that was the problem.  I believe the spectator bike man watching from the sidelines said, after I missed hopping on my bike for a third time..., Wow. After that last fail I didn't think it could get any worse for you, but it just did!

I'm not kidding. He really said that. This actually made me start laughing, and then he was laughing, and this was all just very bad in terms of being fast, I'm afraid. 

So anyway. Last night I traveled to Marshfield for a training series race.

I got a sitter. I drove an hour in traffic. I got there and....
the gates to the Fairgrounds were shut and locked.
There was a sign:

WHATTT????? Cancelled because of a little Equine Encephalitis? Really? Wimps.

I felt quite incensed. I had traveled an hour! I had gotten a sitter! I would not be deterred! Not fence, nor mud, nor EEE infected mosquitoes would stop me!

I began to look for an opening in the fence. This is me puzzling as to how to get inside the hallowed grounds of the Marshfield Fair. It became clear to me quickly that I'd have to climb over the fence. With my bike.
*Note, that is a splotch of mud on my face. Before I even tried getting over the fence with my bike I got muddy...*

As I started to lift my bike over the fence, a man emerged and approached me. He looked a little miffed and he walked with a swagger--a swagger that said, I'm official.
I gave him my best, I'm not doing anything! I'm just a happy, innocent, somewhat cross-eyed looking woman wandering around in bike shorts and a dorky helmet look. (Generally I do not look cross-eyed. I was going for doe-eyed... didn't quite get it right.)

Said official-looking man informed me I had to leave. The race had been canceled. Had I seen the sign? 
I tried to look pitiful. I tried to look sad. Then I told him my story--how I had traveled so far and so long and had gotten a sitter for my three little children-- ALL so I could ride here in this great town of Marshfield. 

I saw the man soften. I had him.
His name was Leonard. He is the head honcho at the Marshfield Fair. He took pity on me, and led me to the super secret entrance. (Actually, it was a fairly obvious entrance, but I hadn't skulked around enough to find it. I was super focused on scaling that fence--that was the problem.)  Anyway. He gave me his card and said that I could ride around on the Fairgrounds until dark, and that if anyone gave me shit I could show them his card and send them his way. 

Thanks, Leonard! You are the BOMB.

So I entered the Fairgrounds, and to my great  surprise and pleasure, the whole course was set up! It was actually sort of sad. It was overcast and gloomy, and this lovely Cross course was all alone, ready to go, no one there to ride...

So I got on my bike and decided to rectify that situation.

It was sandy. Really sandy. Did I mention it was sandy?
I fell so many times, I lost count. This lovely scrape resulted from a fall going down a sandy bank. 

Here you see I have a cleat mark on my calf. How I managed to do that, I'm not sure. It is black and blue and raw today. You can also witness my extraordinarily muddy ass in this picture. The course was set up, but definitely wet and sloppy.

Because I was all alone I felt the need to narrate my final loop of the course before I left for the evening. What can I say... it made me feel just a little less lonely out there on the wet, drizzley Fairgrounds to talk to you all while I rode. The video is really not much of a video. But if you have five minutes to kill (and I mean kill), you can click on said video below.  It's basically just me videoing the grass and sand as I ride. Still, you should watch it, because it's a really great way to procrastinate for five more minutes. (I know you are procrastinating, btw. Why else would you be reading my blog?)

On a totally different note! Ange and I have decided to limit our TriMoxie roster this year so we can provide maximum attention to the athletes we choose to take on.
We are both close to full for the 2013 season, which is a good thing! Except not for you if you are considering applying to be a TM athlete and you haven't yet emailed us about it. We probably won't firm up the 2013 roster for a few more months, but if you are on break from TM and you are thinking  about coming back, or you are a first time interested in TM athlete, shoot us an email: so we can chat!

Oh, and I promise you I am slightly better at coaching triathlon than I am at riding Cyclocross. Just saying.