Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekly Roundup, sorta


Where was I?

Little bit of craziness the past two weeks.  First, Em got strep throat.  Then, I got some weird virus thing that made me super tired for a few days.  And then, a lovely stomach bug hit our childcare provider and her poor little guy, so that threw us all for a loop with scheduling this week.

So I'm going from memory here--

The good:

Proud of myself for missing my group spin but hammering it out in my basement and really holding myself accountable with two, one-hour killer workouts back to back.

Swimming twice a week and it's starting to NOT feel like quicksand. Yay!

Gave myself a break when I was sick and the world kept spinning.  Funny how that happens.

The bad:

The virus put a dent in training, for sure.  I especially noticed it on the run.

Have to miss the group spin tomorrow (boo) with some family stuff, and the next few days will be crazy. So I'm going to have to just do what I can to get in what I can get in.

I keep blowing off strength training--just too damn tired at the end of the day.

REPEAT AFTER ME:  It is only January.  I'll be okay.


It's also about 7 months away and I need to not blow things off unless I have a seriously good reason.  So I have had good reasons the past two weeks.

Talked to Coach Emily because by Friday I'm literally collapsing from exhaustion and so angry at life that I just want to crawl under a rock and sleep for three days.  So we're going to move a rest day to Wednesday and see how it goes--figure I can catch my breath and get caught up on all the silly stuff I need to do to keep the train running at home and work, too.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Ironman Wisconsin, Weekly Round-Up 1

First week back to school had me like
My own two children were really excited to go back to school. Let's just say that my clientele, the high school sorts, were, um, LESS THAN ENTHUSED to be back at school and deal with tests and midterms.  One girl proclaimed loudly in my very first class Monday how "This is the worst day of the ENTIRE SCHOOL YEAR."

So it made staying positive a slightly extra difficult challenge.  Throw in there that the subject matter we were discussing this week included the last resistance of Native Americans on the Plains and also the Armenian genocide during WWI, and we all needed a little laugh by the end of the week.

So we watched this.

Feel better? Me too.

It feels so good to be back on a schedule with a goal in mind, and a much different goal for this year.  Ironman is just what I needed, I think.

Challenges this week:

--trying to stay positive despite lots of non-positivity around me (I think I did pretty good especially once one of my students introduced us to the cats and cucumbers)
--dealing with the TIRED TIRED OMG TIRED feeling that hits by Thursday
--getting in a swim before school
--fitting in the workouts while being able to grade/plan

The good:

--got the swim in! yay me! And it didn't feel like quicksand like it did before, so slight progress.
--had a really good, hard spin on Sunday with cool people and still made it to church (almost) on time. Boo yah
--had a really good run on Wednesday after school on a sunny day in the park--big ups to Matt for getting the kids for me so I could sleep in a little and do that after school
--Nutrition was almost flawless except for that Bloomin' Onion at Outback last night to celebrate Papa Z's birthday (hey, I only go there like once a year)

The bad:

--The tired. OH THE TIRED.  I don't know if I can keep up morning workouts every day, which means Matt and I are going to have to get really creative about juggling workouts and kid activities and grading. Luckily, he is more of a night-owl and can work out at night with no trouble.
--By Friday I was not a happy person. I was cranky and snapped at J and E a few times, and I had my PJs on earlier and earlier (like 6pm) starting Wednesday.  I know it was just a rough week at school so hopefully this won't be too bad.


--coffee is my friend
--I need a new bike seat ASAP
--I probably won't be able to run with friends for a while since I need Saturday mornings to regroup in my PJs while my kids watch Christmas Story for the 875,496th time and then run later
--trading a run with friends for a 2 hour, HARD trainer ride with friends is the better choice for now at least

Matt's out for a run now and we're all enjoying some much-needed chill time on the couch, and then I'll head out.  Looking forward to a relaxing weekend and actually catching my breath!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Funny How That Works

Just listened to the latest "Happier" Podcast with Drew Barrymore as the special guest, and I just love her.  Seriously. Talk about someone who really turned life around and made something of herself...and, from what I can tell, someone who seems very grounded and appreciates being grounded is really refreshing.  She mentioned something that really resonated with where I am right now (and my last post) which was something to the tune of "You can do anything, but you can't do everything."  I hear you, sister.

Prioritizing is key, and so is cutting the right corners.  So, it's been nice to really get back to my roots.  My heart has always been in triathlon--I try to pose as a runner here and there and I do a decent job at it, but really?

My heart is and always will be in triathlon.

In a pool, when I was maybe 5 or 6, I first learned I had actual talent--like, not just because my mom said I did.  I learned that the only opponent that mattered was myself.  This carried over to everywhere from the piano to the seat in the classroom to the spot in front of the classroom to the race courses today.

I told Coach Emily I was finally ready--ready for something structured.  I think that might have been the longest I'd gone (since being pregnant) without formal workouts. It was about two months.  And it was needed, too--I needed a full two months to wrap my head around what was making me race with dread and not joy, and figure out how to fix it.  And the answer is to get back to what consistently makes me happy, and that's triathlon.  So I'm doing it.

And it feel so good.

Well, not all of it.  To be clear, I told Coach Emily that the workout she wrote for me this week pretty much made me barf and made me realize just how much work I have ahead of me. Hello there, slice of humble pie! SUPERSIZE ME.

And I made it out to a group spin on Sunday for the first time in a long time, and I was a disgusting sweaty mess at the end but it felt so damn good to be there.  With people who get it. Who like this stuff too.  Netflix is okay and all but sometimes it is nice to get out of my basement, and I left there feeling pleasantly wrecked and ready for coffee and church, and the rest of my week.

Running is getting better, but I'm seeing it now more as a puzzle piece to my greater goal.  It's quite liberating.  No longer am I running through pain (yay!) and I'm thinking more how I can be ready to run off the bike, to have a solid race, and to finish strong.  It's a whole different take on running, and it's one that is more me.

In short?  This feels right.  Doing what my heart pushes me to do is making me happy.  My heart is in it, and the joy is coming back.

Revolutionary, huh?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

On "Having It All," Which Really Means "Cutting the Right Corners"

A lot of people ask me how I have time to do the things that I do.  I've been thinking a lot about the answer to this question, and it really comes down to this.

Coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.

(No, that's a joke.)

(but I do drink a LOT of coffee)

The truth is that I'm from the generation that was the first to really, truly, be able to "have it all."  Career and athletic doors were already flung open for me, largely due to my mom's generation (thanks, ladies!).  Don't get me wrong--there's still a glass ceiling for sure, and I can write a whole 'nuther post about how I still see a great amount of inequity, from little stuff to big stuff.  But overall, I've been able to completely choose my destiny, which is a lot different story than women who have come before me can tell.

So here's the real truth on how I "have it all:"  I get a CRAPLOAD of help.  And I figure out which corners can be cut. Then I cut them.  It's a constant tightrope of difficult decisions and reflection to be sure I'm doing the right thing, and a lot of questioning myself.  It's a lot of trusting my gut a-la-Olivia Pope.  Sometimes I panic; sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with a sick feeling of HOW ON EARTH WILL I DO ALL THE THINGS but then Matt helps remind me that we don't have to do ALL the things, just the things that matter.  So that helps a lot.

But the most important things are the help and cutting the right corners.

So a few years ago I read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg.  I figured it would be a LOT of eye rolling and slow-clapping in my head ("Yeah, Sheryl, easy for you to say BIZILLIONAIRE") and in some parts, it was.


But it also sort of gave me a little kick in the butt that I needed to keep from being too mediocre, too.  I was feeling like I was just sort of floating along in my career and, quite literally, trying to stay afloat under a sea of papers and lesson plans.  Reading that made me think about ways I could reinvigorate my teaching, but keep it fitting in the very, very limited time that I had.  I stepped it up in a national group I'm a part of and offered to lead our statewide efforts to connect educators.  Through that, I had the opportunity to present at a national conference last March and this past November, which led to some more connections and pretty awesome experiences.  I aimed pretty high and actually got a position at a summer seminar at Stanford last summer.  And this August I was honored to be named my district's Teacher of the Year, which I'm still in a little bit of shock over since I work with some pretty inspiring and talented educators.

So how do I do that?  It helps that I love what I do and honestly can't imagine NOT doing it.  I realize the very fact that I can say that about my job is a privilege that not everyone has, and I am grateful for it.

I cut every corner I can in my house.  I hire someone to clean it, because I hate doing that and if I'm working, I'm willing to outsource cleaning. I often spend two hours or so putting together freezer meals (10-15) so I can stack  my freezer with easy stuff and I LOVE MY CROCKPOT MORE THAN ANYONE SHOULD LOVE AN INANIMATE OBJECT.  I'm not a baker; I'm not a crafter.  You're not going to get anything off Pinterest from me.  Don't expect me to sew you something or bake something. You'll get store-bought goods, and you'll like it, okay?  That's a corner I cut.

I work through my lunch almost every day.  I do miss hanging out with people during lunch, but it came down to bringing more work home or trying to soldier through so I could relax at night instead of grading so much from 9-11pm, and if working while eating lunch gave me (most of) my nights/weekends, back, then I'm doing it.

And it also helps that I have quality, loving child care. This is something that not enough of us have access to, and OH BOY IF YOU WANT TO HEAR ME RANT JUST GO AHEAD AND ASK ME WHAT I THINK ABOUT THAT.  But we'll save that for, I just want to say thank you thank you thank you to the women who provide me with childcare so that I get to do what I'm called to do.  I am so thankful for them and the love they give to my kids.  So Mary (and Terry!), Suzy, Paula, Luann, Lindsay, and Cristi--I can't thank you enough.  If I were actually funny, I would have said this (start around 1:10):
So that's the career aspect.  Now, how do I fit in athletics? Marathons? Ironmans?

Cutting the right corners, people. CUT THEM ALL (if you can).

First thing first: my quest to qualify for the Boston Marathon which has been on my radar for the better part of the past 5 years has shown me that there are some corners that I am just not willing to cut.  I've learned that I don't have the talent to do it right now in the time that I am willing to give, and accepting that has led me away from anger and frustration and toward a more peaceful acceptance that now is not my time and that's okay.  I'm not saying never, but I'm saying not now, and that's a powerful and difficult decision to make, and one that I'm proud of.

So wait, crazy chick--you'll do an Ironman, but you won't try to qualify for Boston?

YES.  Hear me out.

I have quite literally and figuratively beat myself up pretty badly trying to get to Boston, and I've had an X-ray recently to prove it.  Plus the sticking out my tongue at my running shoes since October (and the fact that I just wasn't that into it in this past training cycle, too!) reminded me that I am built for endurance and built for triathlon, too.  That's where my heart is.

I always, always knew I'd be back to Ironman someday. But the corners. I was not about to cut them while my kids are so young.  (Please understand some people do Ironmans with young kids and hats off to them!  You might be one of them.  I am not judging these people at all.  They are most likely WAY more talented than I am and can pull it off, and that's fabulous.  Keep on rockin' with your bad selves, people.)  Now that my kids are older, they are a lot less dependent upon me.  We're in a sweet spot where they still want to be around me, but don't need to rely on me every single second and, in fact, enjoy being with their friends sometime over me, and I'm (mostly) okay with this.  It means that if I'm swimming in the morning and miss them at breakfast, they know that I'll see them at our family dinner.  It means that I can swim laps at the pool WHILE they play, and they come by to ask me to do butterfly to show their friends (my fun party trick!) or wave at me while they're in line for the diving boards.

It means that now I'm ready to put in those long hours again.  I'm comfortable with that, because I know they will be, too.  I'm timed it up to be mostly in the summer--when I have a lot of help and support and time and when they have a lot of fun opportunities, too, that I can work my long stuff around so I don't miss the important stuff.

And let's be honest, I'm extremely lucky to be in a two-teacher household with available, active, loving, and supportive grandparents down the road who go above and beyond helping me, especially when I get overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS.  My parents and Matt's Dad are also extremely supportive of my athletic endeavors and also of the kids, and are willing and able to help out often.  Matt and I do a lot of professional development and work over the summer, but we can make it work for our schedules.  So this is the real reason that I chose Ironman Wisconsin--I honestly was only willing to pick an Ironman that coincided with the summer and school schedules.  If it means a harder course, well then, I'm just gonna have to suck it up now, aren't I?  I was really hoping for Mont Tremblant but next year it was the DAY BEFORE school starts, and that ain't gonna work. So Wisconsin it is, and to tell you the truth, I'm looking forward to the challenge of those hills again. It will be a good measure of how far I've come in the past ten years.  I'm nervous about it, but in a good way.

And one more thing: I have been lucky enough to find a coach that I also consider a great friend--who knows the right words to say at every moment, and who knows how to push me just hard enough while still respecting the corners I refuse to cut.  She's made me a better athlete and a better person, and I can't thank her enough for that.

So "Having It All" means cutting every single corner you can, and find the help in as many places as you can.

And the coffee, of course.  Don't forget the coffee.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

So Ten Years Ago I Created This Space

It's been almost ten years to the day since I first hit "publish" on this site.

What started as a way to document my training for Ironman became a record of my journey to that start line.  My steps in the finisher's chute.  And, little did I know, a way for me to meet some of the most tremendous people I've been lucky enough to meet in my life.

My posts then were frequent; I often composed them in my head on my long rides. I couldn't wait to get home and write, so I could remember every step of the way. The highs and the lows, the breakthroughs and the times when I wondered how on earth I would ever, EVER, finish an Ironman.

And I did.

I knew in my heart I'd be back someday, but I also knew I had things I wanted to do first.

I traveled: Hawaii, New Orleans, France, England, Mexico, North Carolina, Michigan, California, Texas, the east side of Cleveland. Near and far, new and familiar and back again.

I had the one that changed me forever. And the one that completed our family. And nothing was or ever will be the same. I was permanently rewired, and my heart and eyes see everything differently after those two moments.

I got older and I got faster--every single race after J+E was faster than before. I had some huge breakthroughs and some crushing, heartbreaking defeats.  I made it to Age Group Nationals. I missed qualifying for the Boston marathon by one minute.  I went from back-of-the-pack to usually-toward-the-front in local (and even a few regional!) races, but also learned that both of those spots are pretty fun places to be.

Life got even busier than before, and this site got dusty. Gone were the days where I could linger after coffee for an hour with a good friend or two; enter the days of mad dashes for work after a solo workout in the glory of the toy-filled basement or to pick up the kids while sweaty and nasty and then going to get groceries before grading papers; the days of long runs starting at 6:00am on a Saturday so I could finish the run at the soccer fields by 9.  Luckily, I found some people who were in this world, too, and I learned that there's a time and a season for everything, and this is the season I'm in, and it's just fine.  Someday it will be coffee-shop season again, and that's okay, because there's joy to be had where I am right now.

The days of long posts almost every day are gone, too.  The 140-character world suits my life, but I'm still the girl who wanted to be a writer at heart.  I can't see ever walking away from this space, no matter how dusty it might get.

I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin 2016. A ten-year reunion of sorts.  I'm a lot different than I was when I first hit "publish" here.  I know this time will be quite different than the last.  In a way, I feel like I just found out I was going to have another baby.  There's a few things that I just know the second time around:

1.  I can do this, and I'm a lot stronger than I think.

2.  It's going to hurt. It's going to hurt A LOT.  I'm going to probably scream at times, and maybe swear loudly.  I may punch something or someone nearby. I'll definitely say I'm NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN.

3.  There's a great amount of things that I now understand are out of my control, so I have to just roll with it.  It's going to work out somehow, and I'll just need to trust it.

4.  I don't have time to train nearly as much as I did the first time. This second Ironman thing is going to get, to some extent, the minimalist plan. Because I have to. But I'm strong enough and have good guidance to know how hard to push and when I can back away a bit, to build a lego castle or go to a swim meet or play Uno in the grass.  The first time I felt like I had NO TIME FOR ANYTHING I'M TRAINING SEE YOU IN EIGHT MONTHS! and this time, I know better.

5.  This time, also, I know what that finish line feels like. I'm not just imagining it; I know.  And that will get me through the inevitable rough patches (and occasional swearing/punching sessions).

I can't promise daily posts. I can't promise well-thought out posts, either. My posts most likely won't have links or tons of pictures; I'm not expecting many people out there to really follow along. And that's okay. Because when all is said and done, this is a record for me.  This is a story for my two children.  This is the tale of the girl who was always picked last but had a lot of grit and heart and how she finished an Ironman, succeeded some more, failed and fell down a few times, and dusted herself off and clicked "Register" again to see what she was really made of.

Because, like I always like to say, big scary goals make life fun.

So here goes the next journey. The next adventure begins, now.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Race Report: Huntington Triathlon, 2015

This was a race I do every year and a race unlike any other.  It's the shortest race I do and was the hardest for me to get in the water.

On Friday, my friend Shannon posted a frantic post on facebook that her son, Sidney, was missing.  Sid is an amazing 4 year old who also happens to have autism.  I had just seen them all heading to the pool on Thursday and said, "Hey Sid! What's up buddy? Have fun at the pool!"  His mommy, Shannon, is a tremendous mother who always has a smile on her face.

After the softball splash party, I saw he still hadn't been found.  I took the kids home at 10pm, called up Noelle, and headed out about 12 miles west along Lake Erie to get to his grandparents house, where he was last seen.  Shannon believed he was trying to walk home along the coast to Bay Village.

In your heart, you know where this is going.  I did too, but I didn't want to believe it.

I headed home around midnight and couldn't sleep at all.

I got up on Saturday and headed back out with my neighbor Suzy.  We searched door to door, climbed the rocky coast of Lake Erie, and called out for Sid.  We begged him to come out.  I wanted to believe he was just hiding.

The worst happened. When I heard, I collapsed to the ground. I spent the rest of Saturday crying.

I woke up Sunday and the thought of getting into Lake Erie made me sick to my stomach.  But I thought maybe it was what I needed; to get back to the thing that has always made me feel better and reminded me that forward motion is sometimes the only thing you can do.

My swim was awful. Just horrible.  I was all over the place, I kept losing my head in the murky water. I was very, very happy to get out of that water, and my time reflects some of that.

I saw my children and Matt at the top of the hill--they just arrived, and gave me big high fives and shouts.  I tried to keep my emotions in check and accept the blessing of them in front of me.

I hit the bike hard and had a great ride--from what I can tell, I had the 3rd fastest female bike split!  It's so funny that my weakness has become my strength and what started as my strength is my weakness.

The run was AWFUL.  The slowest run I've done in years at that race.  It was humid, yes, but that run was literally 30 seconds slower per mile than the 10K I ran in Vermilion last year at the end of the Olympic race.  I tried to just focus on counting my steps and moving forward and keeping my emotions in check.

I finished holding Emery's hand.  It still makes me tear up to think of it.

I won my age group, despite my not so hot performance in the swim and run.  Somehow I ended up 1/8 in the AG and from what I can tell 6th overall female and about a minute off the podium from 3rd overall (what I was able to do last year).

Sometimes you just have to put one foot in front of the other.  I am glad I made it to this race and it felt good to move after so much fruitless movement in the search and rescue effort.  I am blessed to be able to hug my two little ones after the race, to see their toothpaste globs in the sink, to step on their Legos, to hear them argue over Skylanders.

This race was raw and the events of the next few days will be very difficult.

Forward motion.  Sometimes it's just what you do.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Race Report, Cleveland Half Marathon 2015

....or, Definitely Not My Favorite.
....or, It's Been A While Since A Good Old Fashioned Death March.
....or, Why Spring Races are Just Not A Good Idea For Me.

Okay, so I'm still a little bitter.  But the sting is wearing off a bit and I'm trying to keep the chin up and stay positive.  Long story short? My phone said 100% humidity. All day.  Is that even possible? Is it a swimming pool?  Because it felt like it sort of was.  And humidity and I just don't get along well.  Humidity likes to smack me upside the head like 658,943 times per hour.

So needless to say, my super stretch goal of sub-1:40 was quite laughable.  I ended up with a chip time of 1:49:53, which was a full 10 minutes of this goal.  However, it was only 2 1/2 minutes or so off my previous PR, which is old and not really what I can do now, but still.  Little victories.

The best part about today was kind of like what happened at Cleveland last year.  I'm to the point in my racing where my absolute, wheels-fall-off, want to quit races are still not too far off from what used to be my best.  So I'm not allowed to be too upset here.

Oh, and pretty much everyone I know had crappy days.  Like, most of my marathoner friends were at LEAST 30 minutes off their goal times. THIRTY. MINUTES.

Those poor, poor souls shuffling up the Shoreway...I felt really bad for them while I was drinking my Great Lakes in the Beer Garden after the race.  No really, I swear. I did!

I knew this would be tough, but I guess I didn't realize how tough.  My teammate Mike posted this article about running in humidity and I would say, yeah, that sounds about right.  The pace I could barely--BARELY--hold today was equal to or slower than the pace that I did a good amount of my long runs.  So it was pretty dejecting, but again, everyone had to deal with it, so times were slow across the board.

I started off between the 3:15 and 3:25 pace groups and lined up right by my teammate Jen and the super awesome Meredith who came into town after having a frustrating race in Athens--I was like, oh, hey! That was completely me last year!  And what are the odds I'd like up in between both of them in a race of 20,000?!  That was cool.

The first 2-3 miles I was right on pace, but it felt WAAAAYYYYY too hard.  I knew I was done for, like, before I hit mile 3.  I thought, well, maybe I can just PR today, since that should be something I can do in my sleep at this point as my training was spot-on all winter and spring.

No.  Sigh.

Around mile 3 I started to get angry.  Really, really angry.  I was swearing under my breath, and not under my breath.  Seriously.  I DON'T LIVE IN THE SOUTHEAST FOR A REASON PEOPLE.  Why was this happening?  I was PISSED.  Then I saw Laura from Salty Running.  She's a total badass, and she had a disappointing mile 2 of the 10k (still, her mile 2 was a pace I rarely EVER see, but it meant that she should probably drop out seeing she's an elite).  She asked if I wanted some company, and of course I said yes.

She stayed with me the entire race.  We held hands at the finish, and then I hugged her and cried.  Because, friends.  And because, FRUSTRATION.  But mostly friends.  That was awesome, and there was NO FREAKING WAY I would have finished without her there pushing me.  Or at least I would have spent the last 5k walking if it weren't for her chipper encouragement/harassment to get over the hills and catch "that girl in the teal shirt."  I love her.  Thanks, Salty.  You are the true embodiment of everything that's right with this sport, and I can't thank you enough.

I kept seeing my new Spin-Second Sole Multisport Teammates on the course and it was so great to see them.  They have been awesome about welcoming me to the team, and I certainly didn't want to let them down with my first race in the new kit!  So I kept pushing every time I saw them, which was quite often.  I saw them on bikes, pushing strollers, cheering loudly, AND running. They are good people. I am really looking forward to being a part of them!

My favorite part of the race was at mile 9, when my friend Noelle literally ran onto the course yelling--nay, DEMANDING--that I "open up my shirt" so she could stuff ice cubes down my sportsbra.  Seriously--I love it.  She had asked the night before if I'd need anything and I looked at the weather report and said, "how about some ice?" She decided that just giving me the ice wasn't enough--she wanted to help deliver it.  Best support crew ever, and I'm pretty sure most people in the crowd were laughing with at us.

Also, I ran into my friend Marie who was KILLING IT at Mile 10 and smiling like it was no big deal.  It was great to see her and finally see one person who actually looked like they were having a great race!  She finished really strong and I definitely need to talk her into Columbus. Hear that, Marie? I'm coming for you...

Afterwards I paused for a few pictures, but I hid my race bib because I could just tell this was a race I wasn't going to really want to pay ridiculous amounts to document anyway. So these two pictures are the best ones I have:

Me, and the super awesome Salty--

And me, and the also amazing Krystal, enjoying our very much deserved Great Lakes Brews:

No other pictures are needed from this race.  Those are the only ones I need.

When all was said and done, my 1:49.53 was good enough for 21/418 in the F35-39 AG.  So as rotten as I felt and as disappointed as I was, I can't be too upset with that. It was rough for everyone, and that showed it.

I know I have a faster half in me, but today was not the day.  I think what the past two years of training have done is change my mindset from "That Was A Wasted Training Session" to "WHATEVER. I Am Fitter Now So Screw You Humidity."  I have a great base going into tri season (and yay! Tri season!) and I'll continue to focus on getting stronger to have a great race in Columbus this fall.  

Any finish line is a good finish line, my friends.  Today was still a great day, just not for the reasons I expected it to be.

On to the next goal!