Friday, December 31, 2010

Life is perfect

I mean, it's perfect right now.
I haven't had much time to blog. Or even read blogs (work blocks them. gasp!)
But I've been making time for myself. And for training. And for sleep.

And right now...right now it's a little after 8pm on New Year's Eve. And I'm all alone in my new place. There are tunes playing and Clubber is on the floor gnawing on a bone. It's still 60 degrees outside (we got some freak heat wave). All the snow has melted. We can see grass for the first time since November. I got out this morning for a quick run...in shorts! I walked to work. I had teddy grahams and milk for breakfast. I walked to my car after work in a t-shirt. And then I went for a two hour ride with Judi...again, in shorts. And it was then that we witnessed a traffic jam going to a liquor warehouse. And a small black dog on the back of a motorcycle, complete with tank and riding goggles. No joke. I wove through traffic to pet the attention whore pup and chat it up with the driver.

I got a call from a friend after the ride who told me I sounded "euphoric". And i was. That was the most fun I'd had on a bike since September. The wind was howling and I worked, but it wasn't biting cold. And I was riding outside with a friend.

It's the last day of, yet another, tumultuous year...and I have more hope coursing through my veins than I've had in a very, very long time. And I can't say I know to what that's attributable. I've had some very special people help me through this year. And some of those people helped me even when I thought they were hurting me (and yes, Chris A is one of those special people). I had a great early season of races. I travelled with friends. I fell in love. I learned to ride with the race pace group. I left a job with which I was dissatisfied and complacent. I took a very big risk. I followed my heart. I had my heart broken and I cried with more emotion than I knew I had in me. And then I took a stand. I went go-cart racing. I abused my body, in both good and bad ways. I turned 30. I burried my head under the covers. I took home some money from races. I won my first tri. I worked at the bike shop and wore jeans and tanks and flip flops to work everyday!! I discovered that I'd be ok from flirting with some travelling Cervelo demo dude. I leaned on mom, on friends. I moved into my dad's basement. And i learned how it feels to be poor. I made new great friends. I developed a relationship with my step-mom that I didn't know could exist. I earned an even greater appreciation for my body and of what it's capable because the mind will push it through. I re-found myself through lots of talk, lots of alone time, lots of tears, lots of anger and lots of laughs. I attended my first gay wedding. I went on a beer tour. I qualified for ITU Long Course Worlds. I reconnected with old friends (thanks, FB). I learned how very important it is to be open to synchronicity. And I realized how much lighter life feels without a huge load of anger. I found that I have friends and family that believe in me more than I even believe in me. A job fell into my life. And I asked a question and got a place to live. I once again have this feeling that right where I am....is right where I'm supposed to be. And for that very fact, I'm grateful for all that occurred this year.

I can't think of a more perfect place to be to ring in a new year of adventure, seeking, learning, loving, desiring, hoping, discovering, finding....

Cheers to a fabulous 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Christmas Eve!!

And I just finished with a 90 minute trainer session. Funny how things change when you grow up, huh? I mean, 20 years ago, i'd have been setting a plate of cookies and milk with my little brother, hanging out in our pjs and waiting for the presents that would be waiting under (and around) the tree the next morning.

Not now. Now, I'm relaxing in jeans after my first full week back to work. And I've already had all but one Christmas. And I'm excited about going for a long run in the morning. And the fact that the days are getting longer after surviving the winter solstice earlier this week.

The last couple weeks have been a whirlwind. I slept in til 5:30 this morning and felt both refreshed and like a slacker (because it wasn't time enough to allow for a workout). But it's not like I've been slacking. We did over 4k at swim practice the other morning. And I've been on the trainer more than few times this week. And last weekends runs were a blast. Oh, and the walk to and from work gets a little chilly, but it's good decompression time.

I got to spend some time last weekend with my brothers and nieces and nephews. They're so much fun! Almost enough fun to make me want some of my own. Almost.

But I do love them. ANd I've been blessed with some amazing friends and family.

It seems we choose certain times of the year to appreciate them, and this is one. And so many times we just look at visiting as a chore with the travel and the stress of picking out gifts and all the noise  and chaos. But when we look back on it, these are usually the times that mean so much because we're all together.

Thank you to my friends and family. You guys are awesome. I love you all.

Merry Christmas everyone! Eat up and drink your cares away cause base training is on it's way :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

The white death

It's come. We got our first real snowfall!!

Schools were shut down. and cars were off the roads.

luckily, this morning, I just had a trainer ride. And yesterday, I went for a long road run before most of the snow hit. It was cold and windy. And the pace started out kinda brisk.

I was with a guy who'd also done the trail marathon last weekend. And he's got an ultra in just four weeks. And I was game for a long run. It was a relief to hear him say "this is starting to hurt" with 7 miles to go. And that's when I busted out the emergency shot bloks. They saved the day until a couple miles left...when it really started to hurt...but we made it in.

And that run and the race last weekend are the things that have sparked something in me. something that i felt went into hiding over the last few months.

So today, I planned out a race calendar for the coming year. And it's stacked!

January entails the Frostbite 5, a Splash 'n' Dash, a trail race.
February, a 6 hour ROGAINE, a Splash 'n' Dash, a trail race
March, a Splash 'n' Dash and a trail race
April, Heart of the South 200, a trail race
may is the 1/2 Mary Pig and Triple T
June is a local tri
July is a half in upstate NY and possibly an Xterra tri
And late August isIMKY!!!
And then November is LC Worlds.

yay!

Four Christmases is coming.

And I picked up a Band of Horses album this evening. it's fab.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Challenges

"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes it meaningful."

It's been a strange few days. It's been a very, very good few days. I've been sick and I've just been allowing life to happen to me and I'm amazed by what I have come to learn in that period.

You see, I went into that trail marathon without having done one, so I didn't know what to expect. I figured it would be slow. I knew I would fall down. But I didn't know if I'd actually get through the race without tears and fear and frustration. But I smiled damn near every mile of that race.

And for the first time in a very long time, I feel powerful.

Seriously.

I know it may sound silly, but I feel like I overcame an obstacle that I didn't know I could climb over. But I did.

And today, I got a call from that place where I interviewed for four hours...and they gave me an offer. And I start on the 20th! Again, another obstacle I was afraid I wouldn't overcome. I was so fearful that my stint of unemployment would keep me from getting a real life job again.

And.....

I signed up for IM Louisville today. That's something I'll still have to overcome, but I finally feel free to be me, with no apologies, again.

Whew!

Also this week:
I had brunch with mom and talked about everything from fashion to relationships to business.
I stopped by an old friends house and caught up.
I skipped swim practice to rest for a race.
I travelled with a friend I hadn't seen in months. And we laughed.
I chatted on the phone with someone who knows me better than anyone.

And I appreciate these people more now than I ever did when they were in my life every day. Thank you and I love you all.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ouch! My Tecumseh Trail Experience

As you know, I've been sick all week with...I dunno. Sickness. Sore throat, congestion, major fatigue. So, my expectations going into this race were low, as in, FINISH.

We drove to Bloomington Friday evening and picked up our packets just a few moments before 8pm. We checked into our hotel, discussed race strategy, visited friends, debated over what to wear in the morning and went to bed.

And awoke Saturday morning to three inches of snow!!! I had coffee, a pumpkin pancake with honey and an apple and we cleaned off the car and headed to the race.

This is supposed to be a point to point marathon in which you park at the end and take a 50 min bus ride to the start. Well, due to road conditions, they announced that it was to be an out and back course, starting at the finish, turning and returning the way we came. This meant lots of traffic on single track course.

Four of us piled in a big SUV to stay warm and at about 5 til 10, we piled out to the start line. The first 3/4 mile or so is on fire road, so that was all about gaining position going into the woods. My goal was to just take it easy for the first half and if I felt good at the turnaround, take it in strong. i settled in with a nice group, including a few first timers, and my buddy, Grafton. the first few miles were full of laughs. And I think that's when I took my first and only spill in the snow. Before I knew it, we could hear the first aid station BLARING Christmas songs. I ran through that station since I was sportin' my camelback. (I figured it was better to be safe than sorry with as much fluid i would lose through snot, spit and sweat).

We then entered a beautiful pine forest. It looked like someone dimmed the lights and there were lots of roots, but it was beautifuL!!! The second aid station came quick. I stopped there, told Grafton I was feeling nauseas and thought "oh dear. this is gonna be a long day if I'm already feeling sick". But, I took off to catch Grafton and the gang. We went pretty easy for the long stretch to the next aid station, which proved very beneficial. And I knew it would. We walked the steeper uphills. I knew it wasn't worth the seconds of time compared to the energy output required.

Somewhere in there, I chewed a couple shot blocks. And I perked up again. I hit the third aid station and didn't stop. This is where we hit some fire road and I found some footing and took advantage to find a new group to run with. This section was a blur as I was starting to feel good. I hit the fourth aid station and grabbed a Gu. It was then that some guy mentioned that we were 11 miles in. WHAT??! I thought we were about 8 in, so I was relieved.

It was in this final little section that the leaders started coming back toward us. They were flying! We hit the turnaround and for the first time, my hammies started feeling kinda tight. i bent over to stretch and eek! BUT, there was downhill ahead, so I trudged on.

I hit that aid station and went right through, traveled on fire road again and cheered everyone on that was going the opposite way. People kept telling me I was sitting in 5th female position.

Aid station #6, I stopped and took a pee behind a tarp, ate a chocolate chip cookie, wanted to throw up, heard someone say we were 18.5 miles in and took off running again. At this point, I could tell the affect of sugar on my mood and run feel. When blood sugar was low, I'd wonder if I would finish, every body part screaming at me. i would focus on the pain in my toes, quads, the bouncing of my camelback creating hicky-looking chafe on my neck, the tightness of my hanstrings...uhhhh....

After a mile or two, I stopped, bent over, cheered another girl as she passed me, regained my composure, and went trucking along again, alone.

The second to last aid station, I stopped, got some gatorade, chatted with the volunteers and heard the first place person had just come through in 3:23!!! Another girl came up from behind me, looks me in the eye and says "This shit is HARD!! I've done 8 Ironmans and this tops them all." We exchanged (un)pleasantries for a moment and i took off again. Just 4.5 miles left. And the Christmas song aid station was coming up quick. I flew, solo, to that one, grabbed a water, a cookie, said thanks and headed to the finish.

I'd been told that last three miles was tough. And would feel like five. So, I just kept telling myself it would take longer than expected. I passed a few guys walking, I focused on the beauty of the lake we were rounding, the snow, and tried to block out the building nausea.

Suddenly, I was back on the uphill fire road. A guy came flying by, obviously feeling spry and said he couldn't wait to get some hot chocolate, which made me gag.

I saw the flags for the finish and was almost never more happy to finish a race. One of the biggest things that kept me running was fear of getting cold. I knew I was sweaty. And stopping would make me freeze. Plus, I hurt less running than walking. go figure.

My official time is 4:14.02. WAY better than I expected, even without being sick. It's a tough course. And that snow didn't exactly make things faster.

Afterward, I felt like throwing up. All night! And even today, I'm not feeling quite right. Thankfully, after hacking up pieces of lung the first few miles, my sinuses cleared out pretty well. I'm sore today, but I've felt worse. The tummy is what's more annoying.

Overall, amazing experience!!!! Beautiful, challenging course. And trail runners are tough ass people, I gotta tell ya that.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

mememememememe!!!

There are some things about me that most people don't know...and that you lucky readers now have the pleasure of learning.

 - When I am sick, I sometimes feel high. And I swear my IQ drops more than a few digits. Seriously. And it's not because I take drugs. I don't. I'm far too sensitive. One dose of antihistimine and I won't shit for three days. On occasion, I'll throw back a Tylenol or Aleve, but it's rare. Back to being stupid...I have very little concentration. I can't speak correctly, and this post will likely be full of grammatical errors.

 - I do not like to participate in others' drama. I don't really appreciate that someone posted anonymously on Judi's blog and brought me up in it. Seriously, wtf? (and i'm still trying to figure out who I know well enough that doesn't know how to spell "you're"). Also associated with this same point of other peoples drama, I've been disconnected with my bff. And I'm super sad. I feel like I've lost a limb.

 - I look for a meaning in almost everything. I mean, I heard "Joey" by Concrete Blonde the last two evenings on the radio, and I'm wondering if there's a Joey that I need to not be angry with anymore? And I usually don't taper well, but being sick is forcing me to taper for Saturday...so maybe it's not such a bad thing?



 - I am not very tidy. I vacuumed this evening and found four bobbypins and a lottery ticket from at least two months ago. But I do try to hang my clothes on a fairly regular basis. Though anyone who really knows me would probably refute this last statement.

 - Man, I love me some cereal. And I eat it dry. By the handful. A box purchsed will be consumed wholly within the week.

 - I really love my dog. Really. And some dude came into the shop the other day, saw Clubber, asked if she was mine, and when I said yes, he picked her up and said "of course she is! She's obviously a girl's dog" and then continued "no man would tolerate a dog like this". Umm....really? Everything that came out of his mouth after went in one ear and right out the other...until he asked me if a wetsuit was a "cold weather biking suit". Thanks to those of you on FB who recommended amazing comebacks to that. I wish I had thought quicker. But see my first point.


 - I have a very skewed perception of "fun". I mean, it's gonna be in the high 20s, low 30s for this trail marathon on Saturday, and I am looking forward to it like a kid waiting for Santa. And now that I'm rested, I'm soooo looking forward to full fledged training. And getting back into the weight room.

 - I have an uncanny ability of letting people justcloseenough to me before I get completely and totally terrified and back away. Like. you. wouldn't. believe. AND I justify it. SO, any of you out there to whom I've done this, you're reading it now: it's not you. It's me. But, strangely, those who get past this hiccup tend to be monumental forces in my life. And then end up leaving my ass. (hence my instinct to flee first) ho hum.

 - I've got a dream. And I think I'm gonna go after it. Now. Ya know, that I'm 30 and I've got nothing else.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Yuck!

I had forgotten how awful it feels to be sick. But it feels BAD! The constant headache, the kind that feels like your eyeballs might explode. And the scratchy sore throat, that if you were to simultaneously yell and raise your voice two octaves, you'd surely rupture some vocal chords. And the grogginess that makes you feel like you took about four Tylenol PM and then committed to an all-nighter. And then there are the aches. Oh, the aches! Like I just started back up at the gym after months away. Add to that sinus drainage and nausea, oh, and the lovely ashen color of the skin. Yeah, it's beautiful.

And I have a marathon in, wait, what day is it? um...four days? Ugh. I'm taking in as much fluid as I can. And the Vitamin C and Zinc are pulsing through my veins. I may or may not have slept 18 of the last 24 hours. Fun times. The last time I was sick like this was just before Triple T in the spring. And I had a fabulous weekend of racing, so let's hope this is just the universe's way of making me taper.

Before my hibernation period, I did have some fun. After an exciting Thanksgiving, complete with scrabble and headstands, a busy Black Friday and a not-so-busy Saturday at work, I got out for a mountain bike ride with a friend on Sunday. It was my first ride on a real bike with someone who knows how to ride. And I only went over the handle bars once! I asked for some tips, but I didn't really get any except, "try just using the back brake. that way you just slide out instead of flipping over". GENIUS!! So, yeah, it's not for my own riding ability that it only happened once. And I guess when you've been riding for 10 years, you forget what it's like to ride for the first time.

After a couple hours on the trails, I came home and went for an amazing hour run. I was feeling really inspired. Some new ideas and possibilities have come to light and they came through in my run. And then the dreaded sickness hit. Speaking of which, I need to go take a nap. I think my brain is melting and oozing out my nostrils.

Friday, November 26, 2010

i've got it good

in the spirit of thanksgiving, i've been thinking all week about how good i've got it. i mean, i have a great family. my dad has taken me in. and he and my step mom have been nothing but welcoming and loving and supportive during this part of my life. and my mom has been helping me keep my head up. and my friends and training partners have been lifesavers.

i've got my health. and my body allows me to do things that my mind doesn't always believe possible.

thanksgiving morning started with an hour and a half swim practice. the comeraderie of a group of adults that get up to be in the pool by 5:30am on a holiday is pretty unreal. and a coach that is dedicated enough to get up to give us a workout is nearly unheardof.

and from there, a group of us went downtown to join 10,000 others for 101st running of the Thanksgiving Day 10k. the weather was predicted to be cold and rainy. and it was rainy. and very wet. but it ended up being about 57 degrees when i pulled up at 8:15.

i didn't have any real goals going into this race since i don't really know my fitness and i had just swam about 4k. but the previous night, i was lying in bed and i had this spark ignite in me that was just ready to take on the racing and the big workout. and to just have fun with it.

and i ended up running a 42:10, which i was really happy about. and i had fun. and i think nearly all the men i train with beat me. but not by a ton.

and from there, i joined about 100 others to socialize at a local spot before heading home for a hot shower and taking a friend to my mom's for turkey and crazy games of scrabble. it was 5pm before i realized i hadn't eaten since 7:30am. so it was a good thing there was a plethora of food. mom made an amazing meal. and there were lots of laughs. i went to bed last night feeling really fortunate. i need to tap into this more often.

Monday, November 22, 2010

idiocracy

This morning, by 7am, I had already completed an 8 mile run, had coffee, a protein shake and was uploading pics on my netbook. Why? Well, it's a long story, but my phone died, which I typically use as an alarm clock. So, I was simply dependent upon my wrist watch and internal clock to wake me. When I saw that my watch read 5:15, I popped out of bed, got some coffee, took the Clubber out... and then saw that it was actually 4:36. Ugh. I hadn't set my watch back with the end of daylight savings. In short, I am an idiot.

The good news? This is what I was wearing for the run. In Ohio. On November 22. And it wasn't on a dare. And I was sweating! It doesn't even seem right. But I'm not complaining.

And yesterday, our team had a swim clinic. When seeing the bruises and scrapes up my legs, coach asked what happened. "I fell out running on the trails. I dunno. I'm an idiot?" his response? "We all are. Some of us just bruise easier."

Luckily, I went to my niece's birthday party Saturday evening and took a few laps around the roller skating rink. And didn't fall! But I did feel very unstable. And silly. But it was fun.

Oh...what else? Well, Thursday, I had a four hour interview with a bank. I'd forgotten what it was like to wear a suit and heels all day. I suppose I've been a little spoiled with wearing torn jeans and tanks and hoodies. I then stopped by my old office to cause some disruption. And then home for a quick change before heading to a wine tasting fundraiser for the Salvation Army. And it was on my way there that I began to panic a little

Until this point, I just assumed that the easy thing to do for right now would be to go back to what I know, career-wise. And then I realized what I'd be resigning myself to. Flourescent lighting. And long days. And lack of creativity. And sitting at a desk. In front of a computer. All day. Every day. And I'm not sure I'm really cut out for that. I suppose time will tell. I still have so many questions.

So, Friday, I got up and went for a run. And had lunch with old coworkers, stopped at Reser's to hang out before the moonlight ride, went for another run (which was better than the first!), got a quick snack and headed back to the bike shop for the social ride. And afterward, there was some more socializing. With beer and snacks and lots of laughs and fun, new friends and old.

In short, my days have been full. And yesterday, all I wanted to do was chill out and sit on the couch and read. But, as I mentioned, we had a swim clinic. And then Ack and I went for a trail run and then I had errands to run. Eight hours after leaving the house in the morning, I was back home to FINALLY sit down and read. But I fell asleep on the couch.

I awoke later, after dreaming of tootsie rolls and crying phone calls, to finish the Celestine Prophecy. And that book has me thinking. The premise is that there are no coincidences. Hmm. Who knows?

This coming week is, again, sure to be full with work and play and Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Time to get working on Christmas gifts and baking. And I suppose I should have a taper plan in place for this trail marathon in less than two weeks...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

did ya really mean it when you said "talk to ya soon, Amanda"?

it's cold and rainy today. and i have a belly full of black beans and rice spiced with some home grown chili peppers. and a bloody knee. a nearly dead telephone. a half read copy of The Celestine Prophecy. a little black pug snoring on my lap.

i can hear cars passing. the tick of a clock. and the rain.

the clock now reads 4:14. i intended to go for another run at 4. i declined an invite to a winter beer tasting this evening. so at least the run can occur later. maybe when the rain lets up.

but truth is, i'm kinda comfy right here on the couch with a book. i mean, it's not like i've done nothing today.

swim practice was awesome. per usual. i've said it a million times, but that group is just fun. and when i don't psych myself out, i usually surprise myself with what i'm capable of obtaining. it's strange really. i thought for sure there was no way i could do 5x100 on 1:30 where one of the 25s was breast stroke. but wouldn't ya know, it was done! and then there was a massive kick set. and then the real test. 4x500 on 7:00. i can do one 500 on 7:00, but 4?!? so, i went easy, stay relaxed for the first one. and nailed it. and then the second one, i started to panic. and the self-doubt crept in like you wouldn't believe. and i just let it go down the toilet and that one was like 7:14. i began to really envy those two lanes down doing 400 on 7:00. or even those four lanes down doing 300s. i remembered when a 300 on 7:00 would've been a challenge for me. it really wasn't so long ago. two and a half years ago... and then i don't even know what happened. but i think the whole lane fell apart. i sat out a 50. and tried to hang on. and the last 400 was definitely back to a relaxed pace. and we finished up with fast 50s.

that was before i hit the trails today. and took a beating. i ran into an old co-worker at the trail head. strangely. and then headed out on a familiar loop. i was a couple miles in when my foot snagged a root and i went skidding. i had leaves stuffed down my shorts and up the sleeves of my fleece. my left knee was dripping blood. my right hip and leg were covered in dirt and scratched. and i sat there, motionless, pain receptors firing like crazy. and i may have whimpered a little before hoisting myself up and dusting myself off. i momentarily considered cutting the run short and going back to my car. but everything loosened up again and i was content, dripping sweat from my forehead and breathing cool air.

now my knee is bandaged. and my head is groggy. and mine eyes want sleep. and i'll dream of that phone call. before i go for that next run.

Monday, November 15, 2010

randomosity

I've not been blogging much as of late simply because, well, I find I'm drawing a blank. I mean, I'm doing lots, I just can't seem to find much worthy of writing. Perhaps I'm just too brain-dead after all the activity to be clever. But here's a smattering of thoughts and actions.

 - My ass hurts. Literally. I guess you know you haven't been riding enough when you go out for a couple hours and your bum hurts the next day.

 - But that's mostly because I've been running much more. Sometimes, it's twice a day. Sometimes, it's long. Sometimes, it's short. Sometimes, it's fast. Sometimes it's focused. And other times, my mind just wanders. And on that note, I was thinking about how Rockstar Tri said he "didn't get it" when I posted about my random thoughts while running. My answer....no, not everyone's thoughts wander while they're pounding the pavement or hitting the trails. Some folks have an inability to focus on anything otehr than how it feels, how uncomfortable they feel and when teh hell it might be over. I mean, we all get like that at times, but the people I know that think I'm a whack job for running all have this in common - they seem to be incapable of letting go the mind.

 - I love to brush my teeth. Sometimes, there is not a more satisfying feeling than a clean mouth.

 - I have a trail marathon in less than three weeks. And I'm being talked into a 50k in January. And I'm slightly hesitant.

 - I've been having some strange dreams. Last night, I had my long hair back. I mean, it was as though it were short and then suddenly it was long, but still short underneath. And i absolutely loved it. I think it's time to start growing it out again.

 - I had an interview this morning. And I have another on Thursday. If I get the one Thursday, I'm going on a vacation prior to starting.

 - I saw a comic the other night at a club. Hilarious. Much better than a movie. Just in case you're wanting good date ideas.

 - I also found out I really suck at bowling. Particularly after beer #4 or so. And the clientele at the bowling alley hasn't changed much in the last 20 years. I mean, the faces are different. But the styles are the same as they were back then.

 - But I am very skilled at Jenga.

 - I love this quote on soulmates. and even if it isn't real, I'm apt to believe it.:
"A soul mate's purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life..." — Elizabeth Gilbert
 - It gets dark way too early these days. It's time for more Spinervals. But it's so bright outside when swim practice is over.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

If you build it, it will come

After my tri season ended in early October, I made the decision (and commitment) to the Tecumseh Trail Marathon on December 4. I waited about four days post Nationals...and then I started running. And running. And running...

And suddenly, my run legs appeared! It took a couple weeks of not-much-cycling-but-miles-and-miles-of-running, but they're here. In fact, just Tuesday, I went out for a 10 mile run before swim practice and then went for an 8 mile run in the evening. And I averaged 7:30s for that second run. It was flat, but still.

So, besides running, I've been...um, I don't know what I've been doing. But I have gotten a few job leads and I have an interview tomorrow and one next week. It'll be nice to have some funds again. And sign up for a race or two. And get a mountain bike. Wow. Maybe I should just focus on getting a job first.

I've also been cooking. I made these amazing pumpkin pancakes (which were great fuel for my runs) the other day. And my black beans and rice keep getting better with each new batch.

Oh and I went riding for a couple hours with my buddy the other day. And I've been hanging out with cyclists (duh.) and cheering at cross races. Because I love boys that ride bikes. I saw this video at work the other day...and I wanna marry him. Just because of his skills. And because I love Band of Horses.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

if it weren't for running, i might never sleep

I've heard people talk about how they just can't get to sleep because they have so much going on in their heads. I guess it's that they're sooo busy during the day that they don't have time to worry or think upon certain things and all that anxiety culminates in difficulty in falling asleep.

I don't really have that problem. I can fall asleep within about 10 mins of my head hitting the pillow. And I sleep through just about anything. Unless it's hot. Sleep and sweat don't mix well for me. And it seems I've pretty much always had the gift of sleeping soundly. Then again, I've been running for almost as long as I can remember too.

Which brings me to my point... All those things that would typically keep me up at night? Those are the things that I think about when I'm out running.

For example, this morning's run went something like this...in my head...

"I'm so glad I got my CPR certification yesterday. Now I just need to scan it and send it over to that recruiter. I guess I'll do that at Rob's. Hope he doesn't mind. I wonder if we're still hanging out? Wonder what we'll have for lunch? I have some asparagus....and what goes well with asparagus? mmm...last time he made those bacon wrapped filets. Cause we probably shouldn't go out. I'm poor. Yeah. I need a job. A real job. Maybe I'll just take another corporate banking job? Then again, I don't really want to take a job just to take a job. Besides, the balls to quit that job is pretty much the only thing I gained out of that Chris travesty. It'd be a shame to just throw that away. I could always ask Rod for a job. Damn, I was supposed to stop by and see him downtown last week. Oops. [i suddenly realize the Dead Weather "Die by the Drop" is playing on my iPod]Oh! I love this song. Maybe it's because it's dark? Is it really true that the music I tend to really like is "a little dark" like he said? Ok, I guess "let's dig a little grave" isn't exactly warm and fuzzy. Sushi was good the other night. I think I like him. Wonder when I'll see him again? I have to make sure I get to swim practice on time. And I need to stop and get gas because I'm on E. I can still get in a few more miles... I really miss running down here in Newport. The bridges. And the river. And being so close to everything. I wonder if my old landlord has any other places for rent? Or that chiropractor that had that cool old building across the street? oohh...maybe I could just go back to my old life? I sure am glad I thought to pack a pb&j. That's gonna taste yummy. Especially with some hot coffee. I am more than likely going to need a nap today. I need to get a ride or two in soon. I could just start spinervals again. Should I take a left or a right here? I hope there aren't any creepers around. I mean, it's almost 5am, so they're probably sleeping, right? I have to stop by my storage unit and get some more clothes! And a coat or three. And my vacuum. DON'T forget the vacuum. And don't forget to call that guy. And email that other guy. Oh, that email I got yesterday was weird. I think I won't respond. There sure are a lot of cops out patrolling... I think most of these cops are nice down here. They must think I'm a total weirdo. "

And on and on....

Sunday, October 31, 2010

is it just my imagination creeping up on me?

I've been working on this post now for a few hours because I'm having trouble writing without sounding overly whiny. Or psychotic. Or troubled. Or in need of validation. But I guess I'm just going to put it out there and you can think what you will. Per usual.

Ok, so I have issues. I struggle with my body image. And i know a LOT of women do. Actually, I know a lot of men do too. Particularly men that engage in endurance sports.

My concern over weight and how I look started at a fairly young age. Growing up, I was overweight. And my brothers were skinny. A series of events led me to lose weight, like lots of it. Too much, probably. And while I think that's the point in which I developed an unhealthy relationship with food, it's also when I started my love affair with running. I grew to love movement in various forms and the rush I get from activity. and, admittedly.....the way it helps me maintain my weight.

Don't get me wrong. I don't run for how it makes me look. I run because I absolutely love love love it!

And while I have completed a couple Ironmans and won a few smaller races and run lots of 5ks and qualified for Boston, I've also changed my body composition such that it's much more muscular than it used to be. And this added muscle has led to faster times and a lot more endurance and speed. And for whatever reason, I'm not entirely comfortable with this. I mean, I am very comfortable with my physique when I'm beating boys up hills and when I'm making impossible sets at swim practice and out on the trails running for hours on end, but the times when I'm just hanging out or getting ready to go out, I literally yearn for my old waif-ish body.

The crazy part is, even when I was 112lbs (or even a very unhealthy 87lbs), I thought I was a little fat, that I could stand to lose a pound or two. And some days I see pictures of when I first started triathlon and I think "wow. I was so skinny. now i'm just bulky". But the truth is, even when I first started tri, I would complain to my training partner that I needed to lose a few pounds and he, a tad obsessed with fitness and nutrition himself, would help me devise a food plan to aid in that.

So, here's my probelm... it's off-season. And yet, I'm being pretty damn active. But I've also let loose a little on the diet (and by "diet", i simply mean what goes in my mouth rather than a schematic plan) - a little too much sugar, burgers, pizza and beer. And I feel fat. My legs are meaty. And my ass is ample. And my tummy isn't as firm as it was a few months back. I've probably gained a few pounds over the last few months, but most people wouldn't look at me and think "oh...she's hefty".

Just yesterday I saw a picture of myself from about this same time last year, and I remember thinking I was a lard ass then, but now I think I looked pretty lean. I looked healthy. I looked...(gasp!) good.

And the day before that, I may or may not have had a tiny little panic attack because I couldn't find anything to wear in which I didn't look "fat".

So, I guess I'm trying to figure out if I really am to a point where I need to make some drastic changes or if my head is playing tricks with me (and maybe it's a little of both?). And I'm also trying to decide why it is that I don't just relish what I have when I have it. I remember when I was young, someone told me to love the body I had at the time because I'll get older and wish I had appreciated it because I'll never get it back. I guess that holds true no matter how old you get though...because when I'm 40, I'll probably look back at these pictures of now, when I'm 30, and think "wow. i looked so strong!".

And here's something ironic...I see other active women, and I love their thick legs and ample asses and muscular biceps and visible lats. It's sexy. And sometimes, I even think other women with a little extra poundage, not in the form of muscle, look pretty sexy too. Is it just that we live in an image crazed world or is it that my view of what looks good is skewed? Or is it that I do need to start watching very closely how I eat and how I train? Would i be faster and stronger if I lost ten pounds? Or would I lose strength and be tired all the time? Would I be happier being slower but thinner? Or would my peace of mind fly out the window with the rigidity of even more control? I mean, why do I feel guilty if I take a day off or eat ice cream? I KNOW in the grand scheme of things that image doesn't mean anything. I know that five pounds doesn't change me from being attractive to being completely undesireable.

I guess what I'm seeking is some sort of balance. Balance between looking good and feeling good about myself...because they aren't mutually exclusive. Balance between enjoying life for it's indulgences and enjoying life for it's struggles. And I'm ok with seeking something. I mean, if we're constantly content with everything, isn't life boring and stagnant? Or perhaps I'm just justifying my craziness. ha.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

what time is it?

because i am exhausted!

i'm trying to remember...all the days are running together. i believe saturday began with a run and was followed by a day at the shop and then hanging out around the fire pit with my dad and step mom and friends. but i also got a text from dad while at work saying "rockstar got a package in the mail..." a gift from the double x master of funk. yes, a sexy pair of mavic cycling shoes!!!



And on sunday, i got a chance to go out and try them. so light, so stiff. and so white. three hours on the roads with my buddy, ack, and then...off to play some cornhole, eat a greasy burger from terry's turf club and carve some pumpkins. yum. all in a day's work.

monday was work again and then some trail running.

the real fun began today. ya know, when the alarm went off at 4am and i couldn't figure out what day it was. but it was out the door and off for 3600 yards in the water and then a wonderful torture session on the TRX and with medicine balls and planks. it's amazing how much strength i've lost since giving up my gym membership at the end of june. i will be feeling this tomorrow. i think i can feel my abs developing even now.

i then went to the library and just as i was printing out the last document for the dream gig, we were ushered to the bathroom, yes, the bathroom, for safe have from the tornado warning. the greater cincinnati area finally got some rain today. and with it, a whole shit ton of wind. it was like we've been complaining all summer "where's the rain? where's the rain?" and then, BAM! careful what you wish for.

so, i finished up there and went down to reser's bike shop to hang out for a bit. i had every intention of going for a long-ish run this evening, but when i got an offer to hang out with my ten year old niece for the evening...well, i couldn't pass it up.

the evening was filled with homework and hilarity. one of the first questions out of her mouth? "so, do you have a new boyfriend yet?" hahaha. "um. nope." and then she was asking about my last serious relationship "i mean, do you think he really liked you and stuff?" it was so cute. and naive. wouldn't it kinda be nice if relationships were just that simple? i like you. nothing can interfere with that. life is good.

and then we went to the bookstore, where a handsome young chap held the door open for us and after saying "thank you" all she could do was look at me and giggle. oh dear, i fear we have a young Amanda on our hands. she's all flirty and curious. and she's totally into fashion but wants to go out for track next year. and she says boys are gross, but i have a feeling that's because she thinks that's what she's supposed to say. then again, boys are kinda gross sometimes.

so yeah, it was a good day. so much so that i'm bleary-eyed and it's getting difficult to keep my eyes open. and i have a long run to accomplish in the morning.

Friday, October 22, 2010

busy, busy

Since I arrived home from Tour de Beer, my schedule has been quite hectic. I registered for the Tecumseh Trail Marathon on December 4 in Bloomington, IN. AND i went back to masters swim practice. And I got in two rides with boys. And I'm getting everything together for my dream job. Ahhh...
I took three whole weeks out of the water. And this left me very well rested. and very scared about going back. would i even remember how to swim? would i have any endurance? will i even fit into my suit? would i make it through practice?

Well, fortunately, swimming is a bit like riding a bike. once you know how to do it, it comes back quickly. and while my muscular endurance isn't quite what it was, meaning i tire more easily when doing pull sets, i haven't really lost my cardio endurance, so i can make it through practice without problem. and my shoulders are only slightly achy today. but that probably has more to do with the two hour trail run and 90 min bike i did yesterday AFTER practice.

I hit the trails Monday before work. and i got lost, which is great. just not when i have to get to work and this creates a conflict with getting there in timely fashion.

I spent almost three hours riding on Tuesday at a nice, easy pace with an aforementioned pro, who really is just like any other buddy of mine. he just happens to get paid to ride bikes. and then we went and had thanksgiving (ie - loooootts of food) for lunch. and i ran some errands for a friend, which led to the ride yesterday.

I was "owed one" so after masters and a two hour trail run, where i didn't fall once (ok, maybe it's because i'm so fat and slow right now. ugh) i joined a friend for an easy ride and then was treated to dinner. and quite possibly, the most tasty brownie i've ever had.

outside of training, I'm gunning for this job I wanted about two years ago that i brushed aside because i met a boy. stupid girl. anyway, it's a field instructor position for adult wilderness therapy out in Utah. So, i've got my letters of recommendation all lined up and i'm hopeful. oh, i want this bad.

And i went to see Jackass in 3D, where i gagged more than i ever have in a training session. those dudes are SICK. the sweat cocktail gives me nightmares. and the slingshot port-a-pottie is quite possibly the most vulgar thing i can imagine. i mean, really, he had to have had shit caked in his ears and other crevices for days. at what point does the stench go away? ughh.

and today i slept in. ya know, until 7am. and i've been catching up on email and blogs. and prepping for another long trail run. i want to make it through this trail marathon in one piece. and we already got our "off season" training plan for next week. Oh, and two of my teammates just got their pro cards. woo hoo!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The greatest road trip on record - updated w/more pics

Thursday, October 14, 2010
5:00am - awake, run, shower, pack the last of my toiletries
8:15am - arrive at Rob's, pack up the Pilot and hit the road
12:15pm - pull into a cold and rainy Cleveland for a tasty lunch and flight of beers at Great Lakes Brewery.
1:40pm - Back on the road toward Buffalo.
3:30pm - drop in at some random winery and pick up some souvenirs and enjoy a tasting.
5:30pm - roll in to Buffalo, check into the hotel, chat up the concierge, eat a chocolate chip cookie, clean up.
6:00pm - walk (in heels, for the first time in a long time) over to the Anchor, home of the original buffalo wing for a beer and some pics.
6:30pm - get a voucher for free breakfast from the concierge because we seem like "really nice people"
6:35pm - grab the shuttle and hit up Pearl Street Brewery for more beer and quite possibly the hottest stuffed pepper I've ever tasted, chat up the bartender and walk out having been billed for only half what we consumed.
8:30pm - walk around town looking for another fun bar. unsuccessful. call for the shuttle and go to Cole's, where more beer and more food was had.
11:30pm - shuttle back to hotel to get some sleep for the big day...

Friday, October 15, 2010
9:30am - hit the road for Toronto after free breakfast and a stop to get some nail polish because I lost a toenail on Thursday morning.
11:30am - check into the hotel, take a quick look around the block before meeting up with some peeps for lunch, which included...yep, more beer.
12 noon - lunch at 3 brasseurs and a flight of brew.
1:30pm - double IPA at Duggan's.

2:40pm - back to the hotel to clean up for the wedding...and enjoy the 7th type of beer for the day.
3:30pm - grab a cab over to the wedding, sporting heels for the second time in two days, meet the groom, er, one of them, and lots of my buddy's family.
4:15pm - the wedding ceremony. and the grooms kiss. and applause fills the room. (pics to follow)
6:30pm - i switch to wine because the beer is making me too full.
8:00pm - swipe a cupcake off the table with an accomplice because the cupcake tower just looked waaayyy too sparce for the number of guests and we did NOT want to miss out on wedding cake.
8:10pm - get served a cupcake from the stock that was prepped in back.
9:00pm - get a t-shirt from the emcee that reads "Paul put the Dong in Ding Dong"
9:30pm - dance. and watch my buddy do some crazy monster dance because he confused the coreography of two different Lady GaGa songs. Amazing fun.
12:15am - cab it back to the hotel, decide it's a good idea to go get another beer across teh street
12:30am - realize it's probably not the best "idea" we've ever  had. but cannot waste beer. drink and bed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010
9:00am - drag my lazy ass out of bed, down some Aleve, walk around outside
10:00am - breakfast, which contained quite possibly the most bacon I've ever consumed in one sitting, and a vat of coffee.
11:30am - hit the road for Kalamazoo.
5:00pm - roll up to the Knights Inn. "I am not staying there!" Book a different room down the street.
6:00pm - cab it to bell's Brewery to have a drink with an old coworker. and, of course, drink more beer.
8:00pm - while returning the trays to the bar, bump into some mustache sporting biker dude and become quick friends. we're treated to another beer and invited to HIS bar across the street.
8:30pm - skip across the street to get cremated at ping pong and make quick friends with a group of college kids.
10:00pm - walk up to Shakespeare bar, which is BUMPIN' and has about a million beers on tap.
12midnight - grab some popcorn and head out the door to try and hail a cab.
12:30am - get back to the hotel and feel a little grateful that the beer tour is over.

Sunday, October 17, 2010
9:00am - depart Kalamazoo after multiple potty trips. and breakfast.
12noon - stop in Lima, OH with the intent of getting Arby's and suddenly decide Hunan Garden sounds much more adventurous. Yum. sushi.

12:45pm - win $1 on a scratch off lottery ticket.
1:30pm - sushi does not feel good in belly. but Rob's general tsoa's chicken smells worse.
3:45pm - arrive home to my Clubby before heading out for a run. I'm pretty sure it's possible to gain five pounds in just four days. unfortunately. but it was worth it. so so worth it.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

bags are packed!

It never ceases to amaze me that when I open my heart to forgive and let go that amazing things begin to occur in my life. This past week goes down as one of the most fun and unforgettable. And I have a feeling things are only going to get better. And it just so happens to follow a point in time when I finally decided to FULLY let go of the anger and bitterness and pity party and embrace the wonderful things in my life, ya know, to stop blocking the doorway of letting new things in...

It all started last week with the beginning of off-season. I felt a huge weight lifted with the lack of a plan and taking a couple days off and then hitting the trails for some fun, relaxed runs.

And then I began the search for my dream job. I'm looking outside of Cincy. never have I had this opportunity. And I'm not holding back. I'm going for something I REALLY want to do, rather than taking a job because it pays and has health insurance.

And Friday, I went and watched some Cyclocross at the UCI3 Festival at Devou Park to see some friends and watch some crazy racing. I took a break to have lunch with an old coworker, which was fabulous. And then I spent some quality time with my step mom.

Saturday was just a day at work, but we started re-habbing the shop, so we're painting and tearing down slatwall and redecorating, which is sooo fun. And then off to the E2 team party. I got to spend some time with my amazing race team. I saw teammates I haven't had the opportunity to spend time with in a long time because I've been all over the place and we had different race schedules. There were massive amounts of great food, conversation, lots of laughs and some IM World Champs watching.

Sunday, I made the short trek over to Day 3 of the CX festival for more fun and hanging out with teammates and friends after beginning my day with a run on the trails as the sun rose.

And yesterday, I got back on the bike for the first time since Nationals, thanks to Mr. Parbo, who is in town for a few days...and to the fact that I work at a bike shop and have not-so-normal work hours (and therefore the opportunity to ride for hours during the day with a hot Danish cyclist. ha.)

And now, the reason my bags are packed...I'm heading toward Toronto tomorrow to join a buddy to a same sex marriage. How can that not be fun?? We're making an adventure of it and making a couple stops to enjoy the tastes of some breweries on the way too. Bags are packed and the passport is waiting... Pictures are sure to come soon.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The proof is in the pudding!







The first picture is me, beginning of season, on top of the world, running in the rain, on a hilly course, looking and feeling strong, running down chicks half my size.

the second picture is still me...but, end of season, feeling like in the depths of hell, in the heat , on a completely flat course, looking and feeling in pain, stopping and pleading with God to simply finish.

This, my friends, is the difference in mentality between: 1) i can do anything i want. i can go fast. i am fast. no matter what is going on, who my competition may be or what may pose as an obstacle...and 2) i am not really sure of what i can do. I don't even know if i can finish. Damn. i hope i can finish. i wish it weren't so damn hot. i melt in the heat.

both pictures were of runs in the same distance, half marathon, just different times in life. And i think it's pretty apparent which is better, faster.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whew!

Ok, so let's get down to business...I made Team USA, but it wasn't pretty. As far as racing goes, I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. So, I will be going to vegas for 2011 LC World Championships, but I don't entirely feel I deserved it. And now, for the details...

I felt good going into the race, but i have to tell you, I NEVER feel good going into a race, so I was a tad concerned. And there was also all this pressure I was putting on myself. I was so anxious about this race. But race morning was running smoothly until...(dun dun dun!) they announced that the 22 inches of rain that had dumped itself on the area over the previous four days had increased the levels of E Coli in teh water such that it was unsafe in which to swim, so we would NOT be swimming.

Instead, we would be lining up on the dock, as if we were exiting the water, one by one, going off every three seconds, in no particular order. Um...hello, mind f*ck. When one is prepared for a TRIathlon, it is difficult to adjust to a brick workout. Some (those not so skilled in the water) were relieved while others were disappointed. I was in the latter pack of folks. I am not super speedy in the water, but I can hold my own. And it always serves as a good warm-up, so panic struck a little. And then we got no warm-up. Just standing in the cold on the dock in a huge pack of people, all waiting...while our bladders were beginning to scream and there was no place to relieve the pressure.

I was lined up with, Carrie, a friend that was at Worlds in Australia and we made a little strategy to push one another through the bike and run. I got to the point where it was my turn, and the guy told me to go, so I ran, sock-footed to T1, put on the helmet, shoes and grabbed my bike to head for the course.

I felt pretty good on the bike. It was super windy. Against the wind, hammering, I probably averaged 18 or 19 with speeds dipping into the 16s and with the wind, just cruising, speeds were in the 23-25 range, sometimes reaching into the 29s. It was a two loop course and I decided to just take it easy, but strong on the first and try to put some force into the second, once I knew what I was up against. I came in the first loop around 1:19 and into T2 at 2:36, so I negative splitted by a couple minutes and avaeraged 21.5mph for the 56 miles. Carrie and I entered T2 together. I quickly racked my bike, ditched my arm warmers, grabbed my race belt and ran out of T2.

Right away, I knew I wasn't going to keep up with Carrie. I told her to go and I'd get my legs under me.I felt ok for the first couple miles. I kept expecting my legs to come around. And then I got worried that they may not. I just took it easy and felt controlled. By mile 4, when I still felt like I was just trudging along, i began to panic. And it was hot by then. The sun was beating down and there wasn't much shade on the totally flat course. And I began to allow myself to stop at the aid stations. I took a couple shots blocks and then ended up losing them. And that's when shit really hit the fan. I stopped and stretched. I tried to cheer for people I knew. I cheered for some leading women. I had no idea where I stood among the competition since there was NO method to the madness of the start. I could only tell those who looked strong. And my head really started to get the best of me.

At some point, after the first loop of the two loop course, I literally stopped, stretched a little and....bring on meltdown numero uno. I thought for sure Team USA was out of my grasp. I knew my pace was down to a crawl. And the negative thoughts would not go away! I walked a little. And then I'd make myslef a deal, "just get to the next aid station and then you can stop for a gel" but then I started to get a little dizzy and hot and tired. I took off my compression socks because my feet were killing me and i couldn't seem to cool down.

With about four miles to go, I came across one of my 2009 team USA teammates and we traded encouraging words...she'd gotten sick on the bike, i'd just started falling apart on the run. And then with less than a 5k to go, I stopped again, paralyzed by doubt, pain, fear...and she said "come on, girl. i'm sure there's some water up ahead." and so i stood up and I started running again. And I didn't stop until that finish line. My run was a 1:49, 8:20 pace, my slowest ever. And it was demoralizing.

I found out later I placed 15th in my age group and top 20 qualify for Worlds.

I can't tell you the amount of relief I now feel that the season is over and there's no more pressure to perform. It's been a long season and a tough year. And I have lots of new adventures to look forward. I have other friends that also qualified. And I have a whole fall and winter to go run some trails and go for casual rides. And I'm quite looking forward to it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

'Tis the Season!

for trainer rides, that is. It's getting light so much later. And there's a chill in the air. In an effort to maximize training time, between work and (other) play, this is how my mornings are shaping up, ya know, when I'm not swimming a couple miles before the sun rises...



 And I'd forgotten how much I sweat on the trainer! sheesh.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Myrtle Beach for Halfmax Championships, which serve as the Long-Course 2011 World Qualifiers. By Sunday, I should be reporting whether I'm part of Team USA.

And that kinda scares the shit out of me. I haven't really been nervous about racing this year. And the pressure is self-induced, but I guess I have something to prove. to myself. So I'm hoping the hard work pays off. For the next couple days, I'll be resting and hydrating and race prepping!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Can you hear me?

My morning run was absolutely fabulous. It was about 54 degrees. And breezy. I went out and at about the 2 mile mark, I was a couple minutes ahead of typical time to get there. And by the 3.5 mile mark, it was four and half minutes. And I just felt light. And good. And I'm going into taper week...for the qualifier for ITU 2011 Long-Course World Champs.

But yesterday....Yesterday was a different story. I woke up feeling crappy. And ill.

I get a little too cerebral at times. And I listen to a lot of music. And I like to read. And I enjoy bouncing ideas off others. I find it healing to discuss issues with those I find to have some experience. Or insight. Or knowledge.

So, as I was telling a friend of mine about my busted up self-esteem (and he was attempting to build it back up) I leaked out that I am not one who wishes to re-build myself with the compliments of others. I know (because I learned the hard way) that I can't cling to another's sense of my worth to gain self-worth. And I was sent this quote.
"Self esteem is your capacity to recognize your worth and value despite your human flaws and weaknesses. Your value as a person isn't earned; it isn't conditional; can't be added to or subtracted from. Your essential worth is neither greater or lesser than that of any other human being. It can't be. Self-esteem is about being, not doing. You have worth simply because you're alive" - Terrence Real

And while I could come up with a million little arguements to negate this claim, it led me to think...as much as I don't want someone else to help rebuild my self-esteem, I am more than willing to allow someone else to tear me down. Where's the logic in that? I have allowed nearly every ounce of the good things I feel about ME to go down the toilet because.... why? Because someone I loved felt like I was worth walking away from. And that I wasn't worthy of following through on. And that all the little promises were just words. And everything that was meant to be was just a lie. And I guess I let that sink in too deep.

But one person has never made me into someone. And one person can't keep me from being someone. So maybe I'm just vascillating?

I find myself swinging from angry to numb. And when I'm angry, I want someone to blame. And who's the easy target? Him. But it's not reality. I have allowed it. I am to blame. And, yet, I'm the only one who can forgive myself.

But, just in case you read this, this is what I want to say to you almost every day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Struggling

So, while there are moments when I have the "i haven't screwed up, i've just learned" attitude, there are also times when i have the "if life ain't beautiful without the pain, well, i'd rather never ever see beauty again" kinda attitude.

And, admittedly, I've felt the latter on more than one occasion this last week. I absolutely hate saying this. or typing it, but...

(gasp!) I've lost my love for the bike.

I miss the feeling of weightless speed and climbing hills with ease. and feeling as though I could ride for hours on hours. And I really, really miss having fun riding. I miss laughing so hard I didn't think about the pain in my legs or my lungs. All my buddies are through with their tri seasons. And I have a little over a week remaining until HalfMax. I hate to say this too, but I'm looking forward to being through with structured training for a bit.

I have been getting back on the trainer for some focused rides, particularly since the light is dwindling quickly with the coming of fall. But even then, I'm just getting the workout in and sweating. So I can, hopefully, pull off one good last race.

The real struggle isn't so much the training. It's the pressure that I put on myself to perform. It's becoming a bit much. The fear of failure. The fear that I won't be as good as I know I'm capable. It's giving me major anxiety. I'm worried that my life issues of the summer have interfered with my training and mentality and that I've allowed something to keep me from living up to my potential. And now it's too late to hunker down and get any more fit. Long hard workouts will do nothing to help me now. And will only hurt. So, I think the real challenge of this next race is completely mental. I have to learn to believe. And trust. I've put in the work. Now, I just have to not allow the recent self-esteem beating to interfere with racing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On failure

To quote Thomas Edison, "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Sunflower Rev, Night Running, the last tri of the season and other stuff

  - The weather for the Sunflower Revolution 100k was pretty damn perfect. I lost the lead pack fairly early on, but ended up working with a group of guys. We picked up a couple and dropped a couple throughout the course.  I ended up second female overall and finished in 2:41.great race. great course. Amazing food afterward.

 - My teammates totally rocked it out at Rev 3 in Sandusky, taking top male and female ametuer and nearly everyone finishing under 11 hours. Crazy fast people!!

 - There is something about the stillness. The darkness. It makes the miles and hours pass by in a flash. And the hills pass easily underfoot. It's silent except for the trees rustling in the wind and the sound of my footfalls. There is nothing to distract me from focusing on my form save the other thoughts scratching at my skull. Businesses are closed and the stars are just a little bit brighter. I breathe easier. And I feel like I have all the time in the world. This is night running. And I think I'm addicted.


 - There's one last race for me for the season. i think. I have Halfmax, to qualify for Long Course Worlds in 2011. And I'm kinda ready for the tri season to be over. Just a couple more weeks. But there is always the possibility of the Great Floridian full tri. I'm torn as to whether to go for it.

 - And that's because I want to do an ultra. And I'm committed to a 24 hour ROGAINE in November.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Ahhh....fall!

After a very hot and humid summer in Cincinnati, the weather has finally broken. And we have some relief!

It's amazing!

I mean, it suddenly feels easy to breath on a long run. Shoes don't weigh an extra 3 pounds after a few miles. In fact, morning rides actually require arm warmers. OK, maybe they aren't required, but it's definitely more comfortable with them.

I'm loving it. Hopefully it holds for the 100k Sunflower revolution ride in the morn...and more importantly, for all my teammates racing Rev 3 tomorrow. So many of these guys have been an incredible part of my training and life throughout the last year.  Also a shout out to Holly racing Worlds in Budapest and Scott, my uber super Triple T partner, doing IMWI.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Balancing Act

All of life is an experiment, right? And it  takes practice to get it right. And with experimentation and practice, lessons are learned. If there's anything I've learned through my little dance with triathlon is that balance is key. We have to balance focus on three different sports, making sure to not dedicate too much time to one aspect or risk taking away key fitness and speed of another activity. Even with the aid of a coach (or three), it can become daunting. And just when we think we have everything in it's place, life happens and throws everything off-kilter.

For example, early in the season, I dedicated a LOT of training time to the bike. And my bike splits improved dramatically! But my run seemed to suffer. Then, I got discouraged with the results from one race and some life events and my motivation plummeted. I'm ramping it back up, but I'm also trying to remember to throw in some key "fun time".

So, over the long weekend, I went camping down at Red River Gorge, where hiking ensued (yes, that is toothpaste on my shirt, thankyouverymuch)...
and a little knife throwing was done (maybe it's best to not ask)...
and amazing views were seen...
and great company was had (it only looks as though I'm trying to escape :))...

And upon arrival back home, it was to the Cleves Time Trial and out for morning runs and to masters swim practice for some hard work and back to work for a paycheck. Sometimes, it's great to have the kind of weekends that don't involve swim-bike-run and instead include fish 'n' chips and climbs and no showers and lots of laughs, ya know, to help maintain the balance, until life interrupts again.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Inspired

That pretty much describes my life right now.

I think it started last Thursday at swim practice. Aaron gave us some crazy sets, seemingly impossible for me. And I made them! (as did a few others) and he was so stoked at the end of practice, he was shouting "now that was INSPIRED swimming!" I'm not sure what was in his G2 that morning...or maybe he really is just a sadist.

Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe the inspiration began before that. I took a chance on something and walked away surprised. In a good way. Ok, maybe a great way. So, I bought my first lottery ticket on Wednesday.

And didn't win shit. But it was my dad's birthday. And we ate Mexican.

So, Thursday, I stopped by my old landlord's house to pick up a package that had been delivered to my old place. And don't ya know, the strangest conversations occur when you aren't expecting them... She and her husband shared something with me that left him crying, her gushing and me wiping tears. In a good way.

So I had a lot to think about on my long run Friday before work. And as I laid in bed that night, I made a deal with myself that if I got up and ran a 5k in the morning and did well, I could go to Brew Ha Ha that night. So, I got up and ran. And I won that 5k!

Sunday, I went down to Ironman Louisville to watch some friends at the finish. I got to see Bree Wee finish with huge smiles and high fives. And I saw men so full of excitement that they nearly knocked over the finish line volunteers. I saw people collapse and get wheeled off to medical. I watched couples embrace, overcome with the emotion that is Ironman...

I had forgotten. Sometimes, we get so jaded because we do this all day every day. And we surround ourselves with others that do the same. We demand more from ourselves. We want to be faster, stronger, better. It's never enough. Sometimes, we forget that what we do everyday is actually pretty amazing.

This was the first time I'd had the opportunity to watch the finish of such an event. And I found myself weeping, watching. It brought back the feeling of crossing that line for the first time. Or even the second. And it made me wat it again. We do it every day, but it's such a special feeling of accomplishment. One long day of swim-bike-run and you walk away a different person.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Gettin' back my mojo

I'm not really sure what happened, but this last week was huge for me. Other than getting pulled over and searched, I really had a great time. I ran a lot. I talked with people in the shop. I got some time with friends and family. And I had a couple good workouts.

I decided early in the week, since one of the perks of working at the shop is that it's free, that I would race the mini tri (1k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) at Great Buckeye on Sunday. My confidence has been lacking. And I was feeling out of shape, so I figured this could just act as a test.

And lo and behold, somehow, I pulled out my first overall win!!!

I think it's just because none of my uber fast teammates were racing. We had perfect weather and I led start to finish. And my dad came out to witness. It was fun.

And most of all, it was just another affirmation that I'm going to be ok. In fact, I went out for a ride with a guy, whom I haven't known very long, on Friday and he was surprised at how much I was smiling and laughing. He just doesn't know that's how I typically am. How sad is that??

I'm getting back to me. And it feels good.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Never a dull moment

MONDAY - it's difficult to remember at this juncture, but I believe I slept in. I think I got an email from someone who kinda, almost knew Chris. And then I worked all day. And i came home, helped my dad, went to sleep uber early, but I awoke to...

TUESDAY - my car was stolen and my wallet was in the car. Oh crap! it's because my keys were in the ignition and I was walking up the stairwell at my old job...with my ex-boyfriend...who never worked there. And then I went to the bathroom and started my period. Ahh...sweet relief.

Yeah, that was the dream I had.

you can go and interpret it yourself, but basically, I'm feeling as though I'm being stripped of my identity. "This may relate to losing your job, a failed relationship, or some situation which has played a significant role in your identity and who you are as a person" and "there is an old lesson that you need to learn and apply to your current situation".

hmm....really? I'd never have guessed that!

Anyway, 4am up and getting ready for swim practice. Went fabulously! I guess. Then off to the grocery and for an hour run. I had the day off work and was sooo looking forward to just relaxing. So I did. Watched a movie from Netflix, cried, took a nap, awoke and decided to go to Barnes & Noble. And that's when the fun began...

See, my car has no A/C, so when I dropped my mom off to go to AZ for a few weeks, she told me to take her car. So I did. I left my car sitting in her driveway in IL. And time passed and i worked nearly every day, so when she got back to IL, I never had a chance to get back over there. Well, last Thurs, I had the day off, so I drove the 4 hours over there, dropped her car and drove the 4 hours back in my shitmobile, that has expired tags...

So, I was chatting with mom on the phone as Iwas driving to B&N and i saw lights. Dude pulled me over for expired tags. After much questioning and a good 15 mins writing out a ticket, he came back to my window "Ma'am, would you mind stepping out of the car for a moment?"... "Sure." I got out and walk to the back of the car where he continued to question me...and then asked "there's not anything in your car that shouldn't be, is there?" "no! go ahead and look if you want!" STUPID ME!!! This led to an additional 15 min search, dude on his hands and knees, opening up pots of lip gloss and questioning all the junk in my car until I finally let loose..."Ya wanna know the real story? Huh?! I was supposed to move, but it fell through! I went to IL to get away from every fucking thing and all this shit for a while. I just came back. I'm staying in my dad's apartment. I do triathlons. I have swim-bike-run shit all over my car. I have a suitcase in my trunk because I don't know where the fuck I'm going to be day to day!".

"Are you on any prescription medication?"

Ahahahahahahhaha...

WEDNESDAY: Holy crap, I'd forgotten just how difficult Spinervals are. Wow. Sweatfest. Love it. more work. That was the first day in a very, very long time that I was able to look in the mirror and think, honestly, "hey. you're not so bad. in fact, you're kinda pretty. there is a light in your eyes. and you're not as fat as you sometimes think..." total progress. worked again. all day.

THURSDAY: Awoke to dreams of vomitting, which apparently "indicates that I need to discard an aspect of my life that is revolting". Again. duh.

And then swim practice. Again. Where I got my arse kicked! I think I'll be sore, actually. A warm-up set and straight into 5x300 on 4:00, pull, then 22x50 on super fast intervals. and zombie kicks. awesome. And then coffee, a clif bar and a 90 min run.

And an afternoon frying myself at the pool with mom. And an evening hanging over a few beer with step-mom.

boring for you. not so much for me. :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Moving on...

Since that last post, lots has happened.
I almost instantly felt relieved for having gotten it off my chest. And I understand that people will judge. I was not seeking pity or attempting to say that I was morally correct in my relationship with that man, but I was feeling a lot of pain, and I was living in it. For whatever reason, I needed to get it out. He was quite involved in my training and my life and it was affecting both.

I also received some comments that spurred further email communication, one of which included the following...

"ive seen so many changes in you over the last year and i just remember that sweet girl i met on the beach 2 years ago. you changed. you are angry, and you should be. youve been fucked over - alot. but you know what? you will grow from this, whether it's in 2 months, or 10 months, you will be in a better place than you are now. "



And I finished Born to Run. I think it's that last chapter, in which the author speaks of the character of those involved in the greatest footrace never seen, that really touched me. And, several times throughout the read, he mentions that the runners smile. and hoot. and laugh.
So, wow. I guess that email and a few comments and some work conversations made me really assess my attitude. And I realized that even my relationship with Chris was selfish. And my sorrow over it was selfish. And my anger, though much of it directed at myself, was selfish. And I have been angry. And I want to be happy again. I'm just blocking myself from it.

I took a couple days off training and by Saturday morning, I was up and running. And smiling. And I went to work HAPPY. And I didn't get mad at silly questions or upset customers. I helped where I could and just tried to make life easier for the guys at work. And Sunday, I had a long run in which I was singing along to my iPod.

And then the fun really began...it was cervelo demo day at the shop. Two guys from Cervelo brought about 30 bikes out for test riding in a huge trailer. It was hot and humid and sunny. And for two hours, we were sweating, swapping out pedals, adjusting seat heights, grilling, trying to make riders feel comfortable. And then the storm rolled in... And computers went flying and beautiful carbon bikes went crashing in a heap. And tents were in the air. We all got wet. And I don't think anyone got mad. And it was just a fun time, despite the fact that it wasn't ideal.

And I guess that's what life is all about, right? Having fun even when it's not ideal.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chapter 30.0 - Chris A. and the Truth of the Matter [edited]

The day I met him is so vivid in my mind I can nearly recount each detail, from the clothes I was wearing (a green tank, cuffed boyfriend jeans, yellow beads that later became known as "the candy necklace", and wooden clogs), the employees in the shop, the weather (ominously dark, a storm looming), my purpose. It was Friday, April 16th. The day after tax day. I only know because I'd received a mass email invite for a tax day ride the day before and he'd replied "to all". I just needed some Chamois Butt'r. And time out of the office.

I didn't so much see him as I skittered in the back door as I felt him.

 I had been surprised by the noise of my clogs on the hard wood flooring. And then I turned around and he was there. And i took him all in. I heard him make a funny quip about how his "speak and spell was hooked up to his lite brite", the mistake for the "reply all". There was some joke about his riding a purple Vespa. And his old age. And idle chat about hammer gel, lube, the HOS 200 that I'd done just five days prior, the Rampage Ride vs Reser's ride on Tuesday nights. His lanky limbs and the striations of grey in his long curls that peeked beneath his paperboy cap and the veins that protruded and the wit and charm and his piercing eyes, the fact that he stood nearly a foot taller than I and the bright blue tee emblazoned with "I just want to ride bikes with you"...

I recall going back to the office with the most shit-eatin' grin on my face. By then, it had started raining. And I was pulling my hair into "Friday hair", exclaiming, as I skipped down the aisle of cubicles, that I'd just met "the next boy that was gonna fall in love with me".

I had his email. And sent an innocent little note, wishing that he'd gotten to his destination (on his little purple Vespa) dry. Little did I know that this would lead to an illicit affair.

It began innocently.

It was a matter of days before he was ditching plans to ride (in a group setting) with me. He patted my helmet afterward. And then a text just seconds after parting. A call the next day. A meeting. An intro to Clubby. Song lyrics on the mailbox. A talk (in which I found out later I was being "assessed" for flaws).

I was smitten. And he had a girlfriend. But that didn't leak out until I asked, as did many of the "minor" details. Ya know, like the fact that they lived together. And she had kids. It was all too complicated by the time I discovered that information.

He said things between them were "status quo". I had "taken his perfectly settled snowglobe, and shaken it" But now, you've drop-kicked mine.

[And what you don't know from previous chapters is what I may deem as "typical" or "normal". or the relationships in which i've been involved. or with whom and with what situations my most intimate friendships may be that could skew my whole perception....it's all relative!]

He was at my place morning (before work many times, watching me get ready), noon (lunch every day, many times losing track of time) and night (rides, during which I'd laugh so hard I couldn't pedal. Or I'd spit out my water mid-hill onto Ack, who would question my sanity).

He taught me to be a better rider. He gave me suggestions. He made me push. He helped me fall more in love with my Masi than I ever thought possible. He inspired me. And isn't that the greatest compliment of all? Inspiration? He believed in me more than I believed in me.

It makes sense now why he was brought to tears as he sat in my kitchen, sweaty from a ride, attempting to explain his attraction, but simply only being able to sputter that i was "meant for great things".

He'd told me he'd cut it off with her. He had an interview with Cannondale. Several interviews, in fact. Four phone interviews in one day. And he called me between each. He came over after and proposed the idea of moving to CT with him were he given the opportunity. he just wanted to tuck me under his arm and run off together. I thought there was no way he'd get off that easily.

Then I got the call. "Are you in the car? Do you have a minute? We're going to Connecticut!!!" I was going to the Cleves Time Trial. My legs went tingly. And my eyes blurred. And I lost my head. I knew I was a secret. And I could tell no one. But I was GUSHING with excitement. Got a new PR. Went for a run.

But something wasn't quite right. I was sharing him. And I couldn't handle receiving his heart and allowing his body to reside elsewhere at night. He swore there was nothing. He offered to allow me to walk until he got everyhing figured out. I was torn. And somehow, deep down, I felt that I could let him go then, or I could let him go later. but no matter what...

And I wanted all I could get at that moment in time.

So we continued to have extended lunches where time stood still. And long rides full of laughter. He brought me NyQuil and slathered me in VapoRub in the middle of the night when I was sick. We looked for apartments. We made plans.

And  he sat with my dad. And he discussed the move. He told my dad he'd be coming back soon to ask for my hand in marriage. He was going to give me a ring for my 30th birthday. But instead, I didn't even get a phone call.

I used to feel like the most beautiful girl in the world. That's how he made me feel.

In retrospect, I understand why he'd sat on my couch, overcome with fear, tears welling as he told me that he'd be devastated if i ever left him, that he was afraid to take me from my stability, the most I'd ever had, and pull me out East. I guess he knew he was ruining it. He was the only one who knew.

By then, i wasn't so much a secret. Word was trickling out. I'd quit my job. And I gave up my apartment. I ended my gym membership.
 
I went out there. To search for a place. For us. Me and he and Clubby. Just five days before the big move. He'd already started at Cannondale. And she called my phone. She'd seen thousands of calls to one number on the bill. And all the lies began to unravel.

I was curled on the floor in the hotel room, screaming and crying, incapable of rational thought. Dad got me an early flight home. But business wasn't finished.

I picked him up from work and asked that we each just compartmentalize what had just occured so that we could enjoy one last night together. What purpose would angry words and tears serve at that point?

So, we went and had a pitcher (or two) of beer. And then to a Mexican joint for burritos. And then to this little Irish pub, where we danced, and sang and laughed. And loved.

And that's the last place we were "that couple"- ya know, the one everyone kinda admires; the couple everyone wishes they were; the couple you tell to "get a room" even though they have a room. and it's probably the honeymoon suite.

And the next morning, before I got on a flight to Cincinnati he told me I was awesome that night. What he didn't realize is that I'm awesome every night. And he could've had awesome forever.

That day is blurry. I remember bursting into tears on the first flight and a woman giving me a tissue. I remember being outside at the airport in DC talking to my mom. I remember him calling. And crying. And keeping me on the phone even though there were no words to be said. 

And I had told him time and again, that I would be just fine. I've been through sooooo much! But I didn't know if he'd be ok. He had a lot to learn. And discover. and with which to cope.

I took the pain I was feeling and stuffed it down. I didn't know it at the time. I just instilled physical pain on myself instead. I rode long and hard. And ran fast miles in the heat. I thought I was fine. I took some time out and went to IL to get away from the gossip. Word travels fast in the cycling community and it seemed everyone knew my story. And I hadn't told any one of them. (So, here it is now. I'm sure she has a different tale to tell. As does he.)

Now I find myself sad. and angry.

I was riding the other day, the wind beating me into submission, screaming "I hate you! I fucking hate you!" But it's not him I hate. I hate my situation.  I hate that I don't have a place to call home anymore. I hate the instability. I hate that I'm making $10/hour in a bike shop and I have a 401k sitting in the bank. I hate that I think of him every day. And I hate that people that I don't know, know me because of this. I hate putting on a happy face when I'm not feeling happy. I hate when people ask me where I live. I hate that when I briefly tell this story that people snicker. I hate seeing pity in others' eyes. I hate that I trusted and believed. And loved. And failed. I hate that the man I love is not in my life every day.

There are things that occur that make us question everything. This is one of those things. And some days, I question why I ride or run or swim at all. I used training. I used it to my advantage, to help me cope, to get me through. And I've found it's failing me. Because training can't heal a broken heart. But it sure can make one tired. And abusing it can make the passion for it go into hiding. And denying the heart the ability to grieve can make one angry. And bitter.

So, I'm taking a break. And I'm getting honest about how I feel. This isn't for you. It's for me.