Monday, July 26, 2010

Valuable Lessons

I'm learning some things.
  • Don't take run route suggestions from a non-runner. "Oh, it's about 9 miles. and there are some hills" really means "it's 12 miles. and you go downhill for six and uphill for the last six." It seems people in cars underestimate hill climbs. and distance.
  • I am not wired quite right. Giving myself permission to take it easy and slack means I will want to get back on track. Immediately. And the
  • Not everyone appreciates brutal honesty. Like, the girls at work don't really love watching me peel off my dead toenail. Even if they think it's hilariously disgusting.
  • Cyclists have huge egos. Maybe that's part of why I love them.
  • It's always when things need to get done that you will be approached by someone whome you haven't seen in a very long time. And they will want to talk to you about all kinds of things. most of these things will not be important. And you won't care at all.
  • Non-triathletes do not realize the amount of time and effort that goes into training. For example: Runner's World currently has an article on how to train for a tri in 6 weeks. Um. I was a runner first. I also had this mentality that i could easily complete a triathlon. I did complete my first one. But it wasn't pretty. It was demoralizing. I suppose it may just be that I prefer to be competitive.
  • When non-tri people do hear of the training regimen, I think they rarely believe. Or it just doesn't sink in. And then the first question is "how do you have a life?!?" Um. This is a way of life. My friends also swim. And/or ride bikes. And/or run. And a few of them just drink beer.
  • Unemployment is overrated. Yes, I got a job. At the local tri shop, Wheelie Fun. It won't make me rich. But I'm pretty stoked about the casual dress and the perks. And just having something to do.
  • It's difficult to hydrate when riding for hours upon hours in 96 degrees and 90% humidity.
  • Full moons create crazy situations.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Things are looking up!

I had, like, three good says in a row.
I had a blast at the Devou Park Crit. I worked registration, which means I get to put faces to names. And I get to see a lot of men in spandex.
While the crit was fun, I did probably have more fun eating nachos and enjoying a beer with Rob afterward.
I awoke five hours after arriving home to go to swim practice. That was a struggle. And then, when I got there, realized I somehow missed the information that Aaron was our of town for a meet so there was no "organized" practice. My initial thought? "Oh my God! I could've slept in!" But several of the masters group showed. And one dedicated swimmer (seriously, he just did a 10k OWS in less than 3 hours) brought in a workout. As I was walking out of the gym, I had this thought: "I have a really good life!"
And then it was on to job hunting and a three hour nap and then to dad's for laundry and a good news surprise via mail. I also had a good talk with Holly about training and resting and burn out.
Friday may have been the best day of all though! I'm not exactly wired just right. I mean, upon giving myself permission to take it easy and have fun and stay up late and socialize with friends and whatnot, I finally had a good run. I went out in 90 degree heat with 90% humidity and had an amazing 8 mile run. My legs didn't feel alien. But the sweat I produce is ridiculous.
I then made my way into my old office and socialized with my girls. I miss them and all our laughs and sharing stories.
THEN...a trip to Wheelie Fun (the local tri shop) where I picked up some new Zoot trainers...for free (ie - gift card).
After a late lunch, I went down to Reser's to meet a couple guys for a ride. We got in about 40 miles. And it was blazin' hot!!
And now I've gotta get out for another 60 miles or so.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Musings

Apparently there are five (or seven, depending on the methodology of choice) stages of the grief process. Yeah, I guess I may be grieving. The good news is that I'm in stage four (or six) of the five (or seven). The bad news is that this stage would be "depression", defined as "overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, frustration, bitterness, self pity, mourning loss of person as well as the hopes, dreams and plans for the future. Feeling lack of control, feeling numb."

Yes, it's fun. Very thrilling.

So, I'm getting my ass out and applying for jobs. And having lunch with friends. And going back to swim practice. The crap part is that when it comes to the run and bike, I feel like a slug. I keep thinking it'll come back, but then I get this overwhelming fear that it won't. But it will, right? It has to.

Just like the dude sitting next to me at the airport HAS to leave at some point. I mean, every 30 seconds or so, I get a big whiff of spicy the form of a belch. And it's making me nauseous. If I didn't have all my shit splayed out, I'd move.

Speaking of moving, I was driving here and got stuck behind this vehicle. It's like, I knew the driver was fat without even having seen them. They moved all slow like. And that wasn't the dead was the fact that they had a million things - books, a box of tissues, a hand towel, a map, an animal carcass (kidding) - on that little platform behind the back seat. And, as I went to pass said driver, sure enough, I was right.

I think it would be these kinds of thoughts that bring me misfortune. Ya know, if you believe in karma. The girls at work used to call me "evil". But I wasn't (and still am not) evil. I just say the things that everyone else is afraid to say. I'm honest. And, frankly, I think we could use a little more honesty in this world.

I had lunch today at Chipotle with those girls from work. I ate too much and I couldn't come close to finishing that monstrosity of a burrito. I wish I'd ordered extra beans so I could battle it out with the sausage boy next to me. Anyway, it was good getting back in touch with them. But weird to see them all in their dress clothes. And me in my shorts and tank top. They were jealous. Ha.

I'm working the Devou Park Crit tonight. But I hear thunder outside... I suppose if it gets rained out, I will be applying to more jobs. And waiting for the spunk to return to my legs.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Funk

I'm in it. I'm tired. I'm lacking motivation to do the workouts that are on the schedule. I want to eat bagels and peanut butter. And sweedish fish. So I indulge in pretzels and garlic hummus and lots of sugarfree watermelon gum. like, LOTS.

The last week has been a whirlwind! I travelled from upstate NY to Cincinnati. Then Cincinnati to Effingham. And then drove mom from Effingham to the airport in St Louis...and then drove back to Effingham. And then Effingham back to Cincinnati, where I now sit.

And somehow, I've managed to train 15 hours. Which makes me feel like a failure because I think we had 24 hours on the schedule.

i need a job.

The problem is, I don't know what I want to do. Or where I want to live.

So, I went out for a run in the woods today to think about it. Some of my best thinking is done on runs. I started out thinking about the things I like to do...swim, bike, run, (duh) challenge the limits of the mind and body, motivate others, learn new things, calculate numbers and study statistics, discover and investigate, read, write...and that's where I got sidetracked. I was all "oh, maybe i can do some freelance writing..." which led to "dude, I should just write a book..." about??? "all the crazy ass men I've dated and the screwed up relationships in which I've been involved.."

I took a little trip down memory lane. Some of it was comical. And some of it was down right frightening. And a lot of it was heartwrecnching. But, man, you name the mental affliction, and I've probably dated it. I could devote a chapter to each:  "the married man", "the heroin addict", "the sociopath", "the pathological liar", "the man who couldn't stay away from strip clubs", "the control freak", "the guy with an 8th grade education (and no, he wasn't 12)", "the bi-polar", "the megalomaniac", "the people pleaser", "the 3 days", "the one who wanted to save me", "the disappearing act"... oh, and more than one fits into "couldn't keep it in his pants". That's not to say I haven't screwed up. Because there are also "the one that got away", "the really nice guy" and about 100 poor schmucks that never got a real chance because I was still trying to find my way back to reality from any one of the aforementioned assholes. I mean, my ex and failed marriage could literally be a prologue...

So, I'm entertaining the idea when I look up and see a black cat. In the middle of the trail. Seriously. If that's not a bad omen, I don't know what is! Sheesh. I can't cut a break. Like, the other day, I finally gained the motivation to go to the pool and do my workout. As soon as I put my cap and goggles on, little sprinkles fell from the sky. I got in 750 before they kicked us out for lightning. I got in my car, drove to mom's and parked in front of the garage...and realized I needed to allow room to get her car out in the morning because we had to leave by 4am. And I sure as hell didn't want to be playing musical chairs with vehicles at that hour. So, I backed up. Straight. into. a. huge. oak. tree! Now, I don't care about my car, but my bike rack was on the back. And it's now in like 8 pieces. Ack said "that sucks". Um, yeah, story of my life.

Not really. I have a pretty good life. I'm just having a rough time with the lack of stability. And having to be dependent upon other people for a place to sleep at night. And I want to go out and ride when I want to ride. and run when I want to run.Aand for however long I feel. But that's not what will make me faster. So i'm having an internal struggle. About a lot of things.

And as I was daydreaming again, having forgotten about the little kitty, I tripped on a root and got splayed across the trail, water bottle projected into the brush and all. It was about five minutes later I decided I was finito. And I took my sweat dripping ass home. or to my current crash pad.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The details

Musselman is more than just a race. it's an entire weekend of activity. There's a sprint on Saturday, along with a kite festival, 12 hours of visual arts, a pre-race meeting, pre-race dinner, pancake breakfast, etc...

And it's GORGEOUS up there. Actually, when Ack and I were riding around on Saturday, he said "I'm not going to tell anyone about this race!!" for fear of it being infiltrated and/or selling out even earlier. And then he got stung by a bee. Damn karma!

Ok, on to race morning...I got up early to make sure I could get my potty in. No problem. But I didn't really have an appetite, which is UBER unusual for me. go figure. I stole Ack's car and went to get some coffee (he still doesn't know about this. hehehe). We went down to the race site early and set up everything in transition. I ran into some peeps from TTT and Team USA and before I knew it, I needed to get a warm-up in and my wetsuit on. It was all a blur from there.

After the Canadian Anthem and the Star Spangled Banner, we got corralled for the swim start. I was in the third wave at 7:06. Some of those pink cap girls were just anxious!!! All getting up in front of the start buoys and all. But, anyway, I know I don't have sprint muscles, so I figured I'd just make my way through them after the first 500. The swim was fairly uneventful except for the fact that there were plenty of men in the two waves ahead that didn't know how to swim. More than five times, I was dodging breast stroke kicks. I kept trying to look for pink caps ahead and there weren't too many. I came out of the water and glanced at my watch once in T1 to see 31 something and was a little disappointed. It was a fast swim last year, but I was also swimming more last year. Total swim time 31:37.

T2, I saw Ack leaving as I was racking my bike (I was positioned right next to the exit) and yelled for him. I saw this chick that was obviously a viable threat. And she was a little ahead of me. I couldn't get my helmet to fit my head. WTF? Finally slammed it on, and went on my way, but it was a slow T2...2:31.

I felt good from the get-go on the bike, ya know, except the throbbing headache from my too tight aero helmet. I was passing people left and right. I think maybe 5 men passed me and stayed ahead through the whole 56 miles. I took in water to start. And man, I was thirsty!!! I wanted an ice cold coke about half way through, and took a few swigs of my gatorade instead. I was trying to remember to take in calories, but I was feeling great, and again, not hungry, so I just kept going. It was obvious when a headwind or tailwind hit. Speeds varied from 17 to 28 on the flats depending on the wind.

About 20 miles in, I reached back to the strap in my helmet and gave it another hard tug and felt the sweet relief of lessened pressure on my skull! I ended up only taking in about 500 calories (liquid and solid combined), which, in retrospect was not enough for me. I was sweating immensely. I felt great throughout and ended up just 3 secs off the fastest bike split, which is huge for me. I guess I caught quite a few women on the bike. Time: 2:40.40 for a 21.0 mph avg.

T2 was ok. I was HOT! but I moved fairly quickly, or so I thought. And moved on to what I thought would be a great end to a good race start. I had about 1:43 to accomplish my sub-5 hour goal.

I started out running and feeling ok, thinking my run legs would come after a mile or two, per usual... Some guy struck up a conversation. He was from Ithaca, couldn't understand why I'd travel for a race. Apparently, people who live up there take for granted that they have so much beauty around, somewhat unlike Cincy/Dayton. Anyway, he was running awfully close to me, asked me my pace. I told him I hadd no clue, maybe 7:30? He informed me it was 7:15 and that it was too fast for him. And then he elbowed me for the third time and apologized. I told him he needed to back off (in my not-so-subtle sassy tone).

 I was informed I was the second female by lots of spectators. I ran up to this other guy that I was playing tag with on the bike, I saw Ack climbing a hill in front of me at about mile 2.5-3...and as I was climbing that hill, I looked back and saw that viable threat chick TRUCKING it about a quarter mile behind me. Oh dear God! I hit the flats and she came up on me. I said some encouraging words and she said some back...and I told her that there was only one girl ahead, told her to go get her. Several surrounding men told me to go after her...but I knew I didn't have it in me at that point. And then the chills struck. I was trying to take in water and squeeze sponges over my head, but I was feeling horrible!! I took a gel. I dumped ice down my top. Nada.

I saw Ack and screamed for him, he yelled back "you're catching me already?" Sheesh! I thought it was taking forever to catch him! And then it took even longer to actually catch him. And then another girl passed me. Ugh. So, I was thinking "great. I just went from 2nd to 4th...and I have no chance of catching those girls". I was so defeated. One foot in front of another. Top 5. Just get top 5...

Around mile 8, another skinny little runner chick passed me, flying. I was in sooo much pain. My hammies, my back, my feet, calves. I just wanted to walk. I had never felt so bad on the run in a race. I was fighting some demons in my head. And I had that all-too-familiar wince of "why can't something just be easy for once" that I've been allowing myself to feel far too much lately. I took in some endurolytes. A little coke, 2 shot blocks. It was too late. I hung on for dear life. I was just running scared at that point. As I crossed the finish line, I saw 5:00.24... 25 flipping seconds off the sub 5 hour goal . Grr. But I did crack top 5. run time: 1:43.39, 7:55 pace.

Turns out two of those girls ahead of me were in a prior wave so I finished third female. I took home some cash and a bottle of wine. I learned a great lesson., even when not hungry. Don't rely upon a supposed "strength". My run is typically fun and strong. Not so much here. But it was a new PR. So Ack and I went out and celebrated with a burrito and beer.

Monday, July 12, 2010

oh, Musseman, how I love thee...

And not just because you give me PRs. Or because you're in the beautiful Finger Lakes region. Or even because you've got the BEST swag of any race...

It's because you always let me know I have so much yet to learn.

Last year, I went into this race with very little expectation. And I came out having learned I'm capable of so much more than I imagined. And that I can defy predetermined expectations or beliefs. And this year, I learned about having a "bad" (feeling) race. And still coming out with good results. And realizing the importance of not relying on supposed strengths...

I just back to Cincy a few hours ago and I'm exhausted. And I REALLY want to go to Masters practice before heading to IL to see my precious Clubby in the morn, so I'll just leave you with some highlights. A full race report and pictures will follow:

 - I missed my goal of breaking 5 hours by 25 seconds...with a 5:00.24
 - BUT I accomplished my goal of cracking top 5 with a 3rd place overall finish. And I scored some cash and a bottle of chardonnay.
 - There are some fast runner chicks out there. I am not one of them.
 - Nutrition is oh-so-important during a race.
 - I have the MOST AMAZING friends and family!!
 - I met some blogger buddies.
 - And ran into Team USA peeps.
 - And reconnected with some guys from TTT.
 - Ack is an awesome travel partner; he always carries a camera. And he isn't afraid to drink beer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

One day at a time

They use that mantra in recovery a lot. And I suppose I'm in recovery. Ya know, from having my chest opened up and my heart removed, squeezed in a vice grip and left helplessly beating at a low rate in the devoid cavern of my self..only to stand, shocked in silence watching it all go down without aid of anesthesia, ignorant in medicine and queasy at the sight of blood...

Ok, that's a little dramatic. Besides, my mom is a nurse. And my friends are nurse anesthetists and doctors and...bankers. and bloggers.

But really, I've been in IL for a week now and it doesn't feel like it's been that long. The strange part is that each day, I get up and train and eat and talk with friends. Oh, yeah, I also think a lot. I've spent most of my time here alone. But I think it's been healing. I take each day as it comes. And sometimes, I'm even shocked at the emotions that suddenly arise in me. I've run the gammut this past week with tears and laughter, smiles, sorrow, pain, anger, ambivalence, frustration, fear, joy, gratitude, pride, shame, confusion and clarity. I guess that's probably pretty normal for a female though, right?

Anyway, my point is, that life is always about the here and now. Nothing we can do about the past and the future is so totally unknown! So it's just one day at a time. And it's all you guys that help me keep that in perspective. All my friends and family and readers and perfect strangers. When times get tough, the human race seems to be pretty supportive.

Speaking of support, I feel like i need a fucking gurtle right now. It's taper week for Musselman. And after all the over-activity last week, I feel like a fat sloth. But that's also normal. What's not normal is having your 30th birthday- filled with steak dinner, cupcakes, ice cream cake, beer - stuck in taper week. Don't get me wrong, it's been an amazingly fun last couple days...

My mom came into town on the 4th, after I'd spent some time pounding the pavement and hanging out at the pool, getting ever bronzer...and post-small town parade watching with granny... So, she got here, we cleaned up and walked downtown to this little corner pub and played songs on the jukebox and caught up. We waited until midnight to toast my actual birthday before heading home. Ya know, I've spent my birthday in Galveston, in Vegas, in Belize, in Cincy, at clubs, rolling down hills watching fireworks, playing with sparklers, racing...but never in the same town in which I was born, drinking beer with my mom over old country songs intermixed with Jay-Z and the Stones.  But it was perfect.

And then for my birthday, we slept in and got wrapped up in Khloe and Kourtney Take on Miami. Seriously. It's addictive. Surprise, surprise, this is part of what I do in my down time with a focus on training. I finally got around to my run in the hot, hot heat around noon. We sat in the yard and visited with granny...and watched Clubber devour a canteloupe before again, cleaning up. Only this time it was a tame steak dinner at Firefly Grill and it ended up being a relatively early night so I could get up and kill myself with intervals on the bike in this brutal wind and sun.

Now, the focus is simply on resting and recovering for Musselman on Sunday. Headed back to the 'Nati in the morning. And looking forward to a fun little road trip to upstate New York!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The proverbial straw that broke my back

Yesterday was a relatively good day. I had one of my best training sessions to date. A warm-up run followed by 4x(ride 4 miles hard, run 1 mile hard). I found a stretch of road near the high school track a couple miles longs with a railroad overpass (ie- hill coming from either direction) and I pounded it out. My mile splits got faster and faster, 7:05, 7:00, 6:45, 6:40. And then a nice cool down ride. And I was rather satisfied.

From there, I got a sandwich and went to the pool for some time in the sun. And a quick few laps. Unfortunately, by the time i got home, I was waaaay too hungry. I'd probably gotten myself into a bit of a glycogen debt. I had a hankering for a burrito and upon searching hopelessly for a Chipotle, found a little Mexican taqueria. I was the only gringo in the joint, but I made a mad dash for home to scarf it down and knew I'd still not consumed enough. I later had some sugar free ice cream (there are no treats in this house, so I went next door and raided granny's diabetic sweets).

Then came nightfall. And as tired as I was, my mind wouldn't shut off. I'm finding evenings to be the most difficult times. I tried the couch, the floor, TV, no TV, crosswords, tea, sitting on the porch, reading blogs, sending emails... Nothing seemed to help. I tossed and turned and maybe got four hours of sleep before awaking this morning for some coffee before this group ride.

There were six of us in total. We circled the block over and over waiting for all to arrive before heading out on the road. Right away, we picked up the pace. And I could feel it. In my legs. In my mind. All of me was wanting nothing more than to just go home, curl in a ball and sleep for hours on end. But I kept riding, now just trying to suck wheel instead of taking pulls. I tried to stay positive in my mind. But I didn't know the roads. And I had about 230 riding miles and a couple run speed sessions on my legs. And we hit a road covered in gravel. In a pace line. Going prett fast. I dropped back a little. One wrong move by the wheel in front or any lack of signalling and I didn't want to be a casualty. And that little gap got bigger. I just let them go. ANd mentally, I went too. Like off the deep end.

When we regrouped, I said something about how that wasn't safe and in return, received some remarks...and then I got a little mouthy with the coach in the group. And in my mind, I was going BALLISTIC!!! Instead, I just picked up my toys and went the other direction. I got within a safe distance and wailed. and bawled. and made a few phone calls. and got voicemails.

The heartache. And the fear. The disappointment. And the lack of stability. And the pain. Not enough calories. No quality sleep. Too much sun. All the miles. The speed work. Packing. Travelling. Living out of a suitcase. Turning 30. Just wanting things to be easy for a while. The desire to go home...and having no home! It all caught up to me. And that gravel is what broke me. I didn't know where the hell I was. And it didn't even matter. I could've fallen in a heap on the ground and not gotten up for hours. But I mentally gathered myself and pulled out the GPS and got back to mom's, where I now sit and think about how word spreads like wildfire in a small town. And they'll all think I'm some kind of whack job cry baby. But really leaving the group ride had nothing to do with the gravel or the guys riding. And everything to do with everything else.

I think I need a break. even if just for the remainder of today.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Half way there

Holy crap. The year is already half over. I'm just a few days from turning 30. It's the kind of day I just want to go out and ride and ride and ride. It's the kind of day I lie in bed (even if bed is a couch right now) with my Clubby.

It's the kind of day I get up and make a big pancake with sliced bananas. And I wait for the pool to open (12:30pm, really??). And I chat with friends. And I wonder about things. And I fend off the kind of meltdown that struck a couple nights ago. I think about the possibilities I have. I entertain the opportunities. I regain some focus. I laugh at how I told some dude "it was fun dropping" him last night. I think about the people in my life. I think about those no longer in my life. And I'm stunned by the lack of faith and hope and resolve some people have. And I'm amazed at how much others empower us. I am staggered by what some will tolerate. And I smile at the stories I'm told. And I'm flattered by the comments. And I'm going to go ride and ride and ride now.