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 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


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.