Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Makes Me Happy

So, I've been tagged by two super awesome people--Curly Su and TriTeacher--and out of my respect for them both, I don't want to ignore their tag. Two seriously creative and inspiring people, they are...so how on earth am I going to do this tag justice?

I'll try.

Here goes.

I'm supposed to give 6 things that make me happy.

1. Michael Jackson

No, not 2008 Michael Jackson. I'm talking Michael Jackson circa 1984. The red jacket, sparkly-gloved Michael Jackson. Would you believe he's still on my iPod, and when he comes on I just can't help but shake what my momma gave me? Even if it's on the treadmill, like it was yesterday. Wedged between Pantera's "F-ing Hostile" and System of a Down's "Chop Suey" came "Billie Jean." Yes, I ran on the treadmill mouthing the words the whole time and even thought about pausing the run just so I could dance. I didn't. But let's just say that I might have before.

Hearing old school Michael Jackson reminds me of being about seven years old, living in our little bungalow on Osborn Road, and dancing. I'm reminded of my childhood and innocence, which is ironic considering the subject of said reminder. But I smile when I remember asking my mom, what does he mean that 'the kid is not my son?' and, to Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," what does she mean 'she's in trouble deep but she made up her mind and she's keeping her baby," to which my mom's reply was THERE WILL BE NO MORE MTV IN THIS HOUSE EVER.

2. Mugsy the Pug

I pretty much have wanted a dog since I could talk. We never had one, and I made up my mind that the second I could get a dog, I would. Well, after college I had an apartment for four years with a no dog clause. Arg. Finally, in 2004 I got married and we got a house. And you know what? I got my dog.

He's the most loyal, loveable, mischevious, stinky-breathed, hyperactive, twirling, produce-loving, snoring, best friend a girl could have. I am not sure how I made it 27 years without him.

3. Having a job that I love and I know makes a difference

I know in today's often cut-throat, market-driven world, this is hard to come by. Some days are hard, and I'm not going to lie about it. But most of the time, my day flies by because I love what I do. And two or three times a year I even get a note or an expression of thanks that makes it worthwhile. Those little teeny notes of thanks are enough to keep me going. At that age of student I work with, a note of thanks means a lot and goes VERY far. Some of my former students are missionaries, members of Doctors Without Borders, and teachers themselves. It makes me truly happy to know I've had a chance--even just a small chance--to help them grow into themselves and try to make the world a better place.

4. Making a good meal to share

I don't like to bake, because I don't like to measure. I cook much like my Dad--a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and little to no recipe. I think good cooking comes with taking a bit of risks and trying to find things that complement each other, and I love to make a really good meal to share with Matt or with friends. I love how good food brings people together.

5. Water

I don't think I'd ever be able to live too far from a large body of water. Not that I even have a boat or anything. I just love to walk up to the Lake with Bug and Matt and Mugsy almost every night in the summer and relax. I love living so close to my open water training. It was one of the things I didn't like about Cincinnati--even though the Ohio River was there. It wasn't big enough for me. There's just something about watching the sunset over the water and listening to the waves crash. Even in the winter, I love to walk up at the Lake and watch the waves.

6. My son and husband

Okay, I realize I should probably split these into two reasons, but I can't. Someday, when I look back on my life, I'll realize even more than I do now how these chapters unfolded and changed me for the better. There really was my life before Matt, and my life since. And me before the day Jackson arrived, and me since. The same person, but an entirely new, bliss-filled level of happiness. My very definition of love changed; of happy changed. Of all the hard work that relationships and children can be, the happiness we share in our home is worth more than I can explain in words.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a life filled with joy and happiness!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Um...really?

So I've been really having great workouts lately, which is awesome. But pretty strange.

Because it's DECEMBER.

As in, "OFF SEASON."

As in, shouldn't I be feeling slow and bloated and full of buckeyes and Christmas Ale right now? But I'm totally not. Bizarro!

(except for the buckeye and Christmas Ale part)

I had a great run on Sunday, followed by a swim yesterday. The plan was to do this:

400 Warm Up Choice
5X100 on 2:10
100 kick EZ
4X100 on 2:00
100 kick EZ
3X100 on 1:50
100 kick EZ
2X100 on 1:40
100 kick EZ
100 hard
200 Cool Down

Great workout, by the way, Coach Emily! It really kept me on my toes. And HOLY SMOKES AM I CONSISTENT. I was really pleasantly surprised! I mean, I've been only able to get in the pool, like, two times a week at MOST. And, I so haven't paid attention to the clock lately. So I was very excited to see that my times were (although not the fastest in the world) pretty consistent. It went something like this:

1st set of 100s: All between 1:33-1:36. I swear I heard crickets as I waited for 2:10.
2nd set of 100s: All between 1:33 and 1:35. Crickets again.
3rd set of 100s: Starting to get a little out of breath, but still...1:34, 1:36, 1:35.
4th set of 100s: 1:34, 1:35
Balls to the Wall: DEFINITELY tired here, but still managed to eek out a 1:29. I'll take it! Yahoooooooooooooooooooooo

I've been very disappointed with my swims in races lately, so this is a promising sign. Hopefully I'll be able to keep chipping away here and be able to actually hold a decent pace for New Orleans. Or maybe this is just some kind of Christmas fluke. I hope not.

This morning I worked on my cadence which needs some help while watching both the Hills and the Hills Aftershow. I know. The first step is to admit you have a problem.

And I've already got the TiVo set for The City. But I definitely am drawing the line at Bromance. Sorry, Brody.

Because if 5am is truly me time, and the Daily Show and Colbert are both done for the season, well, then, I WANT THE EQUIVILANT OF BUCKEYES THROUGH MY TELEVISION. Okay? Just a little. Moderation is key, right?

Just don't tell anyone I watch those shows, K?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Buckeyes and Stuff

Okay, for those of you not from Ohio or the Midwest who are unfortunate enough to NOT KNOW WHAT BUCKEYES ARE (blasphemy!), I will provide a step-by-step instruction manual for you. This is how Ohio folks do Buckeyes.

Notice, I did not say Ohio STATE folks. That would greatly upset someone in this household.
(Oh, and it would really tick Matt off, too.)

First, you gather all the stuff you need. I took the liberty of buying this in bulk at BJ's, so that I could also make a batch for the bowl game if we run out before. This is not for the weak at heart, ladies and gentlemen. Do not--I repeat, do NOT--even try to imagine the amount of saturated fat in this conglomeration of ingredients. You'll just want to barf. And that's not the point. Unless you're trying to make more room for more Buckeyes.


Then, you take FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER (don't think about it....lalalallalala what saturated fats?) and 32 OUNCES OF PEANUT BUTTER, and mix until they are a messy goo of tasty lard.

The next step is one I just kinda improvise. You put in enough confectioner's sugar to sweeten it up and make it like a play-doh consistency. I just keep pouring and mixing. But I must recommend the best way to mix is to take the rings off, wash the hands, roll the sleeves up, and GET ALL UP IN THERE.




At this point, I have to try really, REALLY hard not to take the bowl and a spoon, run into the nearest closet, and have my way with the peanut butter ball-mixture. Must. Show. RESTRAINT.




And now, time to roll the dough into little balls of goodness. This is a little time consuming, but worth it. I usually make them too big and I remember my Mom getting on me for this when I was a kid. It's better to make them smaller, but really, who wants a small Buckeye, right?


(insert gratuitous ball jokes here--don't worry, I often quote the SNL skit with Pete Schwety on NPR when I'm creating Buckeyes. I've heard and/or said them all. BTW--not sure what's up with the random squirrel at the end of the clip, but it's OUTSTANDING)


Chill for at least 10 minutes. Then, the final stage: dipping. Melt some chocolate chips CAREFULLY in the microwave (20 seconds at a time, and MIX WELL!) with a little bit of Crisco to make them shiny (you know, in case they weren't UNHEALTHY ENOUGH). Take a toothpick, dip them in to resemble a Buckeye, and voila!


Now since I have over 100 Buckeyes in my home, I need to either A) get rid of them FAST B) smear them on my hips since that's where they'll go anyway if I don't get rid of them pronto or C) have some good workouts this weekend. I'm happy to report that C was the option I chose.

Yesterday included a 90 minute trainer session with 4X8 minute pushes at Zone 3 (for me, 160-170 watts) and I felt great. Then today, I got out in the nasty drizzle shizzle and had a kickin' run! 8.25 miles in 1:14, which adds up to sub-9 minute miles! Yahooooooooooooo

Amazing what little balls of peanut butter chocolate-y heart attacks will do for your motivation, huh?

Enjoy!










Thursday, December 11, 2008

So yeah...

...about that "cold?"

Um, well, the 7 mile run in the snow that I just didn't have my mojo for on Sunday but did anyway threw me over the edge. Oops.

Stayed home Monday, went to the doctor, and finally had to admit it. Full blown sinus-infection. Poop. On some antibiotics now, though, and feeling much better after 3 forced rest days!

Arg.

Anyhoo, had a fantabulous run outside this lovely chilly evening, and completely negative split it out the WAZOO, so I feel like things are settling back in. Yay!

I'll be hitting the pool after school tomorrow since I have to go in early to lead a review session in the morning, and then I've got a run and a nice long indoor ride planned for this weekend. Along with MASSIVE BUCKEYE CONSTRUCTION. If I do say so myself, I make DAMN GOOD BUCKEYES.

Sunday I'll be chillin' with JenC and some other tri pals for some Christmas fun! Can't wait to see my chicas!

Happy training, everyone!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Neverending Cold

Arg.

I have this neverending cold. It blows. (pun intended. sniff sniff)

Anyway, I *think* it's almost done. But don't tell it I said that. I took an extra rest day here, so I'm hoping that I can have a good run tomorrow and I won't feel like a snot-filled boulder is on my neck where my head should be.

I'm kind of excited about stuff now...I think the worst is officially over with craziness and stress, as Matt's grad class is done until mid-January, and in February I went back to work last year, so I'll be repeating lessons again. Yipppeeeeeeeyahoo! This week, after Matt's last class Wednesday night, I just sort of had the feeling that I was no longer bobbing in the pool and trying to keep my head above water, but more like I was doing a commanding flip turn SPLASH on the side of the wall and pushing off for another set.

Always a good feeling. :)

Today I ran into Ashley in the hallway, and she said, "Mrs. Z! When are we doing the Evotri stuff again?" And then Jenna said, "Even though I will have graduated, can I still do the Evotri club this summer?" And I got all kinds of stoked. I've got big plans for next summer, and I really need to start putting them all down on paper. I'll probably have to wait until I'm off for winter break to do that, but let's just say BIG. PLANS.

I've been getting super excited for New Orleans, too. I just can't wait to see the city, and what better way to do it than while swimming, biking, and running, right? Or, by celebrating the night after you finish the race? Cuz that's what I plan on doing. Yeeeeeeehaw! Who else out there is in, beside my teammates and the awesome Steve, Pharmie, and Michele? Come on...you know you want to train in the basement all winter like me. ;) Actually, I have quite a high threshold for cold, so I'm planning on bundling up and doing some riding a few times as long as it's above 30 or so and not snowing!

That's all for now...heading to the Zoo tomorrow morning with the Bug and a few friends to meet Santa and have breakfast! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Whirlwind

I'm finally sitting. down. for once in the past two weeks or so.

Whoa.

Ever remember drinking a little too much brew and then you lay in bed and try to sleep and things just keep spinning spinning spinning and you really are just FREAKIN' TIRED and want to sleep but the spinning is keeping you up?

Yeah, it's been kinda like that.

It's been 14 months now since my definition of love changed.

I'm a work in progress, just like him. Most days--for at least five minutes or so--I feel like there's just not enough of me to go around. Some days, for longer. But eventually I forget about it and keep grading or chasing the Bug or putting away the laundry that was done last Tuesday. At least once a day, I wonder if I'm capable enough of handling all this. I don't think we ever really know if we are.

But, from what I've seen lately, we can usually handle much more than we think we can.

This has been reflected in my racing all year, and despite the whirlwind of life swirling around me at a dizzying pace, I'm finding that training and racing is my little corner of zen. I've happily converted to an O'Dark Thirty workout person, and I literally jump out of bed. It's so bizarre. Those who know me well know I have NEVER been a "jump out of bed" person. But the morning is mine--no one needs me but me. No one's asking me questions about the Fugitive Slave Law or the Third Estate or an IEP...no one needs me to change a diaper...no one needs me to do anything. But me. And I can't wait to do what I need to do, as well as I can, so I can rush off to doing as much as I possibly can to help others all day.

That dark, quiet, sweaty, alone time in the morning grounds me for the rest of the day.

I think of my girls this summer as they did their first triathlon and realized that there was so much more within them than they ever knew, and it inspires me. I dream and plan of ways to share that with more kids this summer.

I'm looking forward to New Orleans because I just can't wait to enjoy the day and, for that matter, the weekend with my team and my friends. Do I wonder how I'm going to get the training in? In short, HOLY CRAP YES. Much in the same overwhelming way I wonder how I'm going to grade those DBQs, finish those accomodated tests, and still have enough energy for Bug. But I'm learning that worrying is overrated. What's been proven to me in the past 14 months is that I can handle a lot more than I ever thought I could. There are still hard days, no doubt. But I'm getting better at asking for help when I need it.

This past week I celebrated all I have to be thankful for. And this year--for the first time, really--I was thankful for finally understanding, recognizing, and acknowledging this new-found inner strength that has been within me all along.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What Could Be Better

...than 28 degrees, a fresh layer of snow, only one set of footprints ahead of us (TriEric's), crunching snow beneath your feet, snow icing all the trees around you that doesn't even look REAL, and a trail run with friends with good conversation?

Not much. Except some hot chocolate and a cranberry walnut bagel with peanut butter after it's done.

Thanks Aimee, Eric, and Dale for a fantabulous chilly snowy run Saturday morning!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Steps Forward...One Back...And One Forward Again

I'm learning as I go here, and one thing that's becoming abundantly clear is that, as a working mother who is trying to also train for races, I feel as if there is just not enough of me to go around sometimes.

I realize that part of this is that I am very passionate about what I do. I don't just consider teaching a 7:55 to 3:08 job. In fact, most teachers don't.

So now I'm starting to think about how on earth I'm going to fit in training this winter as my other duties pile up--namely, being the Model U.N. Advisor for our February trip to Chicago, the AP US History teacher as we approach the national test in May, as well as teaching my inclusion class for World History?

It's a little overwhelming.

I've claimed the morning just for me, and it's worked well, aside from leaving me exhausted at the end of the day. This week I was 4 for 4 on morning workouts. But right now they are relatively short workouts--nothing more than an hour--and I can't help but worry a bit of what's to come. How will I fit that in, and still make it in for a Model U.N. meeting? A parent meeting? Oh, and when on earth am I going to grade DBQs?

Sigh. I'm going to give myself permission NOT to think about that right now.

What I will celebrate is the little victories. After a particularly rough day, I sat down in my journal that I write in almost every day. Sometimes the entries are just a few sentences. Other days...man, I really, really need to let it all out. This day, the entry was just a list. I listed the things that I've done pretty darn good since school began in August. Just the good stuff. I can't remember all of it, but here's a few:

--took 46 kids to a Model UN conference and they had a blast--prepared them, trained them, and 2 of them took home awards
--took 19 kids to meet Paul Rusesabagina...and they will remember that forever
--helped to start a Save Darfur club at our school, and have some amazing kids in the group who really believe they can change the world, which is just awesome

Those are probably my favorites. And when you look at it that way, it makes the little annoyances and frustrations not as bad.

Oh yeah, and somehow through all that, I PR'd a marathon by 20 minutes.

So when I look at it that way, I see that I must just be pulling this off somehow. Even though the weeks leave me dizzy they are so nuts, somehow I'm pulling this off.

I did a grand experiment this week, too. I went to the pool in the morning.

Now, that might sound pretty uneventful, since I did that before, but I switched gyms last year so I could be close to work and "just go straight to work" after my swim. Ha! Silly me. See, that makes perfect sense, until I realized that I literally can't stand the thought of NOT seeing the Bug in the morning before I leave for school. Can't. Do. It. I need to hear him giggle. I just do.

So I wasn't able to swim in the AM, but then had to drag Bug with me after school which in turn made me feel guilty, too.

The mornings are mine. No one needs me, and it's my own little quiet time and calm before the fun and often crazy storms which are my days.

So, I decided I'd go to the gym THAT IS DOWN THE STREET FROM MY SCHOOL, swim, and then COME HOME. And then drive BACK to school. Because it's only a few miles from my house, right?

I know. A waste of gas. Pretty silly. But I needed to make this work.

So I set the alarm, got up, and hauled it to the pool. Grinded out 2500 yards with more focus than usual. Got out, took a quick shower, bundled up in my orange coat, and headed home. I walked in just in time to see Bug in his high chair. He saw me walk in and gave me a sly little grin around the corner.

It worked. And I even got to school with 5 minutes to spare.

I think that's how this year is going to be. Just when I feel like I'm no good at something--whether it's teaching, or being Bug's mommy, or being Matt's wife or a friend to my amazing friends--I'll run in, breathless, with wet hair and slightly sore arms, just in time for a smile and a kiss and a giggle. And I need to remember that I am there, that my heart and soul are thrown into everything I do, and if the makeup's not perfect, the dust bunnies are multiplying, the papers pile up and the only thing in my fridge is milk and salsa, I am going to pull this off somehow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Evotri Iron Challenge!

The 2008 off season is officially here, but who says the races are over? Team Evotri has a brand new program on tap to keep you tri-primed all winter long, complete with exclusive team opportunities and prizes for your efforts. In fact, we have quite a bit of news to report as we round out the year and get the ball rolling for 2009!


With all of our sponsors returning for another stellar season, and with brand new sponsor, Headsweats joining the team, we're looking forward to giving back to the community in an even bigger way. In addition to our current grassroots endeavors - Simply Stu's World Wide Triathlon, Trisaratops's Youth Initiative, along with RobbyB and Iron Wil's Wisconsin Brick Adventure - just to name a few - we're now planning to reach across borders and oceans in order to do our part to change the world, and we want you to be part of the movement.


Do you have what it takes to fulfill the Evotri Iron Challenge?


This winter, we challenge you to complete an Iron distance race every month. 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running at 2.4 miles, 112 miles, and 26.2 miles respectively. You have 30 days, and countless ways to break it down to fit your schedules. Feeling especially elite? Why not try two, even three Iron distances per month? Not only will the top performers receive sweet swag and high honors, they'll also be raising money and awareness for charity JUST by logging miles! Also, complete at least one Iron distance each month and be entered in our grand prize drawing. Here's how to get involved:


Start by joining the Plus3 Network at http://www.plus3network.com/, it's free for you, and priceless for so many more. Log your miles over the next several months and watch them turn to dollars for charities all over the world. Team Evotri sponosr SRAM, among other industry leading companies like Pedros have partnered with Plus3 and pledged to donate cash to the charity of your choice for every swim, ride, and run you do - charities like World Bicycle Relief, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Safe Routes (ensuring kids' safe passage to school), and The Environmental Defense Fund, among many more. Once you've created your account at www.plus3network.com, follow the next three steps to not only keep yourself motivated over the coming months, win cool prizes and meet awesome people, but also to have your mileage make a difference all over the world. After you've created your free account:


1: Select a sponsor and a charity of your choice
2: Under PEOPLE, search for "Evotri" and do a "friend request"
3: You will then receive a request to join the Challenge


And that's it. Let the base training begin!


In addition to our Evotri Iron Challenge, we're preparing for top performance in 2009 in other ways. Join the team as one of our honored Ambassadors and be eligible for exclusive opportunities throughout the year, as well as receive periodic training advice from top pros and industry insiders like the unstoppable up and comer, Cycleops's Will Smith, and the legendary Robbie Ventura! Visit Evotri.com and click the "Become an Ambassador" tab at the top of the page to get started.


Also, stay tuned to Evotri.com for the official 2009 press release, featuring more details on how you can even become a fully-sponsored member of the team. That's right, we're adding TWO to the crew near the start of the year, so get involved early and stay ahead of the pack!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vote Sweet '08!

Please stop by here and vote my teammate, Chris Sweet, for Chicago Athlete of the Year! He has CLEARLY earned the title. Sub-10 at Kona?! Actually, I think Athlete of the UNIVERSE might be a better award for Sweet. :)

Just send an email to editor@mychicagoathlete.com with "Vote 2008" in the subject line. Don't forget to pick a female, too! Thanks!

Big news coming up this week from Team Evotri...2009 is gonna RAWK!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reason 578,492 Why I Love Swimming

I remember in April, 2006, when I was backpacking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with friends, my buddy Cort said something that's just so true:

"The best thing about backpacking is you don't think about anything else besides backpacking."

There's a certain therapy in immersion.

When I'm swimming laps, there's nothing else I can really think of. When I run and cycle, my mind often wanders. I dream, I rehash a situation at work, I wonder where I'll go next. I think about a race; I think about a song. I think about what I want to have for dinner that night.

I'm always thinking.

But swimming demands focus. Breath, reach, count. Breath, reach, reach a little bit more. Pull.

The black line methodically passes below me and when I see the "T", I start my turn.

I suppose it might be this way because I've spent a good part of my life in the water. But there's a certain calmness to swimming for me; even when it's hard. Even when I'm pushing myself. The only sound I hear is my own breath bubbling beside me and the swish of the water past my ear.

It's enough to make me forget just about anything...whether it's from 20 minutes ago or 20 years ago. I always come out of the water feeling calm. Feeling ready to move on.

And I can't explain how much I needed that today.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Daylight Savings Time...

...should not be underestimated.

So Thursday it was GORGEOUS here--68 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and fall foliage in full effect. I picked up Jackson and thought, "Hey--maybe I can do a quick ride!" Because when it's 68 degrees and sunny on November 6th in Cleveland, Ohio, folks, YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.

So I started my ride around 4:30. And the cool thing is that I was TOTALLY rocking it. I was averaging about 20 miles an hour and just lovin' life. The lake was beautiful with the sunset, the trees provided colorful scenery as I whizzed by...

Wait.

I said sunset.

Crap.

It was just about 5:10 when I turned around 11 miles from home. Uh oh. Totally underestimated how dark it was getting--and how fast.

I tried to book it back home as fast as I could. Maybe I can outride the sunset! Yeah! That's it!

No such luck.

About 5 miles from home it was almost dark, and I was a Nervous Nellie. Every car that passed me made me jump. I never ride in the dark, especially alone.

So about 2 miles from home, when it was official--black sky--I gulped and did what no time trial bike should ever do.

I rode on the sidewalk. Ew.

I just hoped no other roadies out there would see me, or I'd feel kind of like a total nerd. But I figured nerd who is safe is better than cyclist who is a pancake on Route 2, right?

So needless to say, my average speed dropped a bit. Almost as fast as the amount of daylight did, too.

But you know what? It was still a great ride.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Land of the free

Today in class, as we discussed the election going on around us, I tried to tell my freshman how they'd see red and blue and crazy whiteboard technology tonight and the meaning of the number 270. I could tell they were processing it, and trying to soak it all in. And one of my students--a girl who moved here from another country--raised her hand. She asked, in a timid but serious voice:

"But what if the candidate that loses....what if he tries to take over? What if he tries to kill the new President? What happens then?"

My knee-jerk reaction was to laugh a bit. But then I realized she was serious. Where she moved from, war was a part of life...and still is.

I realized she wasn't kidding or trying to be funny. Because in many places around the world, that could very easily happen. That idea was not funny to her. That was a possible reality.

I quickly wiped the smile off my face and said, "You know, _______, we're very lucky that we don't have to really worry about that here." I gave her a few examples when the elections were very close or contested, and in each case, the candidates stepped down and pledged support to the winner.

I'm sitting here listening to a very classy, thoughtful, sincere concession speech from a tremendous American hero. And make no mistake--I am very happy about tonight's results--but I am more happy, and proud, and tearful, even, that I live in a country where peace is the norm. Where we don't have to worry if our election results will lead to bloodshed. Where the losing candidate pledges and urges support for his new President...and where something that seemed inconceivable forty years ago happened during my lifetime.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And next up...

...well, lots, actually.

I've had two weeks to just relax, ride for fun, and run without a watch. It has been awesome. It has been much needed. I feel like I had so much to prove to myself this year--that I could do this again, and maybe that I could do it just as fast, or even faster (to which I suprised myself greatly)--that I needed a break from this, mentally, just to soak it all in.

It's been quite an amazing year.

As mentioned before, I haven't stopped moving since my 6 week checkup last November after giving birth to my son. And I was, at least for the first few months, moving out of fear. Motivated by "what if I'm never going to be able to even come close to competing with my pre-pregnancy self again?" Even though many before me tried to warn me that I'd be fine. You know, me and my head, see, we like to DO THINGS THE HARD WAY SOMETIMES.

So as the months went by and the times dropped...and dropped...and dropped again, I then was moving to see just what I could get away with. Motivated by seeing just how crazy this body was in trying to prove my head wrong. And the body won, folks. Fo' SHO.

So now I'm in the process of assessing.

5 minutes off the half marathon PR, 44 minutes of my half ironman bike split, 22 minutes off my half ironman run split, and 20 minutes off my marathon. I'm still on cloud nine. And don't really think it's fully sunk in yet.

First and foremost, I have to thank my awesome Coach Emily at Vision Quest. She put together the perfect mix of workouts to kick my butt and fit into my somewhat insane day. Thanks, Emily!

Also, I wouldn't have been able to do this without Team Evotri's other sponsors and my awesome teammates. Thank you to Zipp, CycleOps, BMC, Sram, and 2XU. I'm so lucky to be able to race with their products, and to work with each of those companies. They really are the best. Good people all around.

So now what?

Well, I've got some big ideas. I feel like this has been a breakthrough year for me, and I can definitely take it up another notch.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Sub-5:30 at New Orleans 70.3

This one is doable, but will require some intensity this winter. I need to work on my strength and flexibility, and I want to run better off the bike. My goal is a comfortable 36 minute swim, a 2:45 bike (which I did at Steelhead but that bike was a bit short), and a 1:55 run, including transitions, to come in just under 5:30. So there it is.

A Boston Qualifying Marathon: 3:40

This is, quite honestly, at the very upper end of what I'm capable of. This will most likely take a few tries. I'm thinking of going for a faster half marathon in the spring (1:45 would be ideal), and then shooting for 3:50 in a marathon, and finally hitting that 3:40. This will take several seasons. But I can do it. I just know that. It will be really, really hard, but I know I have it in me.

For Columbus, I never ran more than 38 miles in a week. I was swimming or doing a bike ride one other day so I had cross training, but my runs were intense. Lots of tempo, and pretty much EVERY run was a negative split. This was tough, but great especially for my mental game. One of the toughest runs I did was a 16-miler with 8 easy and the last 8 at race pace. I thank Coach Emily again for this, as I believe that's what led me to that crazy 8:52 for mile 24. I was ready to run tired, and it helped me a TON. So, what might I be able to do with a little higher mileage? I just wonder...

I'm ready to begin base training. I'm ready now to focus on strength flexibility. It's time to make myself even better.

Time, I think to put the watch on again. But not lose the feeling of running without it. :)

Friday, October 31, 2008

April, 1994

In April 1994, I was a 16 year old high school student primarily concerned with my softball games, if I'd be going to prom, and can I get up early enough to straighten my hair.

I was a half a world away from the genocide unfolding in the country of Rwanda.

I was actually, for a 16 year old, kind of up on current events. I mean, I payed attention more than your average bear. And I vaguely remember hearing something about Rwanda...something about "tribal warfare" and a lot of killings.

Now I'm 31, and I've studied the event extensively. I know now that the word "genocide" was carefully left out of the American press. That the United Nations failed miserably in their attempts to keep the peace. And that in a country of less than 8 million people, almost a million died. That would be like if the United States today, with a population of 300 million, lost 45 million people.

In three months.

I've become increasingly frustrated with the big talk but lack of action from world leaders on the genocide in Darfur. I'm doing what I can to get my students aware of the situation and trying to help, despite the lack of attention to it by the American press. So when I heard that Paul Rusesabagina was coming to speak near us, I had to take some students. And I had to be there, too.

Because part of me is still ashamed. Mad that I was alive during that awful 100 days. And that I didn't do anything; that I didn't even know. So to meet such a hero...to thank him, to shake his hand and tell him how much he inspires me...it meant more to me than I can put into words.

And from listening to them on the bus ride home, I think it meant a lot to them, too. And hopefully, will inspire them to act.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

An Off Season Tale

And I'm not even pregnant this time!
So what does one do during an off season, anyway?

Well, I don't know, really...I'm learning as I go, I guess! I can tell you that I'm down a few toenails, up a few gin and tonics at weddings, down a few loaves of pumpkin bread and, somehow, miraculously NOT up a few pounds. I'm dreaming big, relaxing, and going to the pumpkin patch. I'm excitedly plotting my next move while still giddy from the moves of April to last Sunday.

So here's some evidence:


My 2 good buddies got married--one in WV, and one in Cleveland...lots of fun!





And little Bug loves the Pumpkin Patch!




Actual triathlon-y stuff to come later...for now, off to chill with my boys!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Race Report: Columbus Marathon, 2008

When the big races come, I've come to realize (and I also realize this is not conventional) that I do best when I step back from the hype a bit. Earlier this season I was questioned a bit in my rationale of pre-race strategies, but you know what? It just works for me. So we go with it--giddyup!

For example, at Ironman, I did not attend the pre-race pasta dinner--I ate dinner with good friends instead. I stayed in a hotel a ways away from downtown. And I tried my best not to hang out in the expo.

This weekend, I didn't even GO to the expo. I had no desire whatsoever. You've seen one, you've seen them all, right? In fact, as mentioned below, I hadn't even really thought about the race until Thursday evening, but not for the best of reasons or circumstances. But it's in these moments, of quiet and calmness, when I do my best thinking. And that's when I go over things in my head, and picture how the race will go. And every time I pictured the finish line I saw a 3. Every time. I can't explain it, except that there was no doubt in my mind I was going to do it.

So, my awesome buddy Cerveza picked up my packet and stuff for me. We were staying with her and her hubby since they were doing the half, which worked out really well. Matt, Bug and I loaded into the car and headed down to arrive mid-afternoon. Cerveza is kind of Betty Crocker and made enough pasta to feed a third world country, as usual. Which was good, because I knew we'd eat well that night for sure! My teammate Sweet and his wife Cara--my mommy/teacher/triathlete/runner partner-in-crime-- got to come over and share dinner with us, too. I am pretty sure Cerveza put rocket fuel in her pasta sauce with the way that all 4 of us ran the next day.

So we went to bed and I'm pretty sure I slept no more than 3 hours. Bug was so confused and didn't know where the heck he was, and FREAKED OUT pretty much all night. Around 3:40am, we gave up and just let him snuggle in bed with us. Then, after I closed my eyes for what felt like 30 seconds, the alarm was going off.

Your token "It's 5:27am and we're sleepy" shot



I got up, had some coffee and peanut butter toast on wheat, and got ready to go. The weather was PERFECT for me at least. A good solid layer of frost was on the car--bonus! Me likey cold. We drove downtown and I hit the port-o-potties (twice!) and before I knew it there was 2 minutes to the start.

Except I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy in the back. Uh oh.

How do I find Pacer Catherine? aggggggggggggggggggghhhhhhhhpoop.

I started HAULING with 2 other dudes on the sidewalk, trying to get to the front. "Excuse us! Excuse us!" I kept saying as I blew by people and accidentally knocked into them. Then I hopped the fence. Whew! I made it.

Um, except for one thing. Now I was in the 6:00/mile pace group.

Yeah. Not in this lifetime.

I looked around and wiggled my way back a bit and finally found Catherine and her balloons with 30 seconds to spare. WHEW!

Okay. Focus time.

The gun went off, and we made our way to the front. My game plan was to stay with Catherine at least until 20, and then see what happened from there.

Can I just say this is a fantastic course, by the way? I think I underestimated the nice-ness of Columbus. It really was very scenic and had awesome crowd support. Definitely a great place to go for a mid-sized marathon. There are a few "hills" though, or really more false flats. It's not completely flat like a lot of people say, but I liked the slight change in grade and I think it was good to use different muscles for a bit.

Anyway, back to the story.

So the first 7 miles felt so slow I wanted to pull out a magazine. Which is good, I guess. I did have to make a port-o-potty stop around mile 4 for what I'll just say is a leftover pregnancy related issue that I ain't gonna go into here. It was all good, though. I caught back up to Catherine in no time. We chatted about Ironman and stuff, and she was such an awesome pacer--telling us stories, jokes, and giving us encouragement the whole way.

I saw Sweet at mile 7 and again at around mile 14! It was so awesome to have him out there and I hoped that Cara's race was going well, too. I knew she was trying to Boston Qualify and I knew we definitely lucked out with the weather. But anything can happen out there, you know? So I just hoped for her.

We hit the halfway point at 1:59:45. Right. On. Target. I still felt so slow I wanted to get a crossword puzzle or something, which was a good sign. I took a gel at mile 7 and again around 13, and had some water or Gatorade Endurance at most aid stations.

Around mile 15 I started to get into that area where you're getting tired but still have double-digits to go. I tried to just focus on Catherine's balloons, the crowd, and my steps. It was not quite as easy anymore, but each mile ticked by and I felt really, really good. I took another gel around mile 18 and drank some more.

Mile 20 came. I was both relieved and nervous, too. This, I thought, is when people blow up. This is when stuff goes wrong.

But so far, nothing.

So far, feelin' freaking fantastic, actually...which in and of itself was a little nerve-wracking. When, I thought, is the other running shoe going to drop?

It just never did.

Big ups to that guy around mile 21 with a big vat of vaseline--he even ran with me a little bit so I could get my grubby hands in there and smear it on my back and arm where my jersey was rubbing a bit. Thanks, random Vaseline Man! And, um, that's kind of nasty that I stuck my hand in some guy's vaseline jar. But hey, anything goes at mile 21.

At mile 22, Catherine told me if I was feeling good, I should leave her. I was feeling really, really good. So I did. Not very far, and I could still hear her a little bit behind me, cheering everyone on. But it gave me even more of a boost to think, "Holy crap. I just passed the pacer. And I feel awesome."

I took one more gel, and around that time I knew I was going to do it. It was just a matter of by how much, which is what happened in Cincinnati. But this time really meant a lot to me. There are things I don't talk about here, because I don't think the world-at-large needs to know, but it's safe to say I really didn't have any business doing this race. I wasn't sure I'd get through the training, and I questioned myself while doing my long runs. I thought about demoting to the half. And of course, now, I'm glad I didn't, but I knew going into this that this one would mean a lot. This one really would show me what I'm made of. This one took more than any other one just to get to the starting line.

I started to feel myself getting a little emotional. Gotta keep the emotions in check, I thought. Just like in Ironman. It's not over yet.

After mile 23, I rounded a corner to see a guy with a guitar providing entertainment (which the course had a TON of, too--another plus). He was acoustic and singing,

Whoa, sweet child of mine...
Whoaaaa sweet love of mine...

Whooooaaa sweet child of mine, mmmmm yeah....


And then, suddenly, all I could think about was Jackson.

I got a FEVAH. And the only prescription is MORE COWBELL, MOMMY.



I teared up.

I missed him so much, that morning and all those mornings I had to do my long runs. And he doesn't know the difference, but I do...and I just really felt like I wanted to make him proud and do this. I needed to do this for him, to show him someday how you can do what you think is impossible, that whatever your heart is set on is reachable no matter how many obstacles are in your way. No matter how many question you or your methods. That just over a year ago I got in "trouble" for walking 2 miles and was 50 plus pounds heavier wondering if I'd ever really compete again, and because my drive is so internal and focused this year I've blown every personal record out of the ballpark.

I've been rewired.

And someday I want to tell him that Mommy did it, but that I did it with him--that most of my runs were at 5am on a treadmill so I didn't miss a second with him, and that on my long runs Daddy and him would meet me and run the last 4 with me.

At first glance, it looks like I did this alone. But that's not true, because we did this together--all three of us. And I want him to know that someday.

So I held that in, until we got to mile 26. Because that's when I saw them. I saw them, and I knew Catherine was still behind me.

And I was going to do it, alright.

The last 300 yards or so are down a slight hill, and I don't remember anything except that I started crying with about 100 yards to go. I sped up as fast as I could and crossed the line to see 3:58.58 on my watch. A 20 minute PR; a new personal best.

A nice volunteer took my chip, and I told her "I'm sorry--I'm just happy" as I laughed with big stupid tears. The overwhelming amazement of this whole past year just caught up with me, I think. That doesn't just happen to me at finish lines. I'm usually the one who's laughing and high-fiving.

And then I found Bug and Matt, and Cerveza and her hubby Dave, and Cara. All four of us had near-perfect days. Dave PRd by 10 minutes in the half; Cerveza by 4. Cara is going to Boston.

And I saw a 3.


Me and Cara, the Boston Girl!
And then as I kissed Bug with big tears on my cheeks saying, "We did it, Buddy! We did it," he grabbed my banana. Cuz that's how he rolls.



Oh, sure, he looks cute but you'd better WATCH YOUR BANANAS.

So as I look back now, I'm even more happy with the results and dreaming bigger. I negative split a marathon.

Negative split. A MARATHON.


Who does that? Somehow I did, and I still can't believe it. Seriously--disbelief. Mile 24 was 8:53, for cryin' out loud. It means I had a combination of excellent training from awesome Coach Emily, a perfect day, I ran a smart race, and some good mental boosts from Coach Kara who has really become more like Friend Kara, and support from my team , friends, and family.



My awesome teammate, Sweet, fresh off a 9:58 in Kona last weekend!

So that's the end, really. I'll outline my training in another post, as well as my nutrition, more just so I can have a record of what I did because it freakin' worked for me BIG TIME.

And I've got quite big plans for the future, too. But for now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for a little off season. Because I haven't stopped moving since my 6 week checkup with my doctor last November, and I've got a lot to do over the next few weeks. I'll be going on lots of walks, leisurely rides, heading to the pumpkin patch, watching some football, and drinking some cider. WITH a little bit of Captain, of course. ;)

But be forewarned...I'm going full speed ahead when the season starts again. And I've got BIG plans. Because I've really redefined what my upper limits are, and I'm still not near them yet.

Not even close.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

3:58

I'm sitting here typing in bed, because, quite frankly, I am POOPED and it's comfy. So there. I wanted to type up my race report now, while it's all fresh in my mind, but see this need (and I mean NEED) to inhale a nice juicy burger nownownownowNOW took over. So it will come. I promise. With some good pictures, too.

But for now, I need to sleep, especially considering I got (maybe) a grand total of 3 hours of sleep last night.

But you know what?

I did it.

And the really odd thing is that I just kind of knew I would. I told Matt that on Thursday. We were folding laundry that had taken over our room and putting it away, and I just stopped and looked at him and said, "You know what? I just think I'm going to do it."

So then I did. And I'm pretty excited.

We got an absolutely PERFECT day. Some would say cold, but for me the furnace, I was LOVIN' it.

And it's safe to say that some things I thought were simply impossible just really aren't anymore. I think I've finally gotten that through my thick skull. I don't even think I really believed it until now--even after Ironman.

2002 5:14
2005 4:18
2008 3:58

And of course, that leads me to the next question: can I take off 18 more?

Because that's something I just never, ever thought would be possible for me. But I feel like it is. Not tomorrow, or anything. Probably not next year. But in my five-year plan.

This season has been, in a word, unbelievable. From the news that I was going to join this wonderful group of people in April, through PR after PR all year. I am, quite simply, in disbelief.

And I just have a feeling that it's only going to get better from here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Laying it all out there

It's quiet now, and Bug's asleep.

It's been quite a challenging week, and an emotional one at that. I haven't really even had time to think about the race, and maybe that's a good thing. There's been no obsessing, no freaking out, and I forgot to mention it to most of my students. A few of them remembered from a week or two ago when I let it slip, but other than that, my day ended quietly in an empty classroom like it usually does. Tomorrow it will just be me in my room for a scheduled work day, which I love. Time to actually plan, make some calls, look up interesting lessons, and do all the other things I never get to do in a jam-packed school day.

So it's Thursday night, and I have about 2 more days until the big day. I've never felt more ready, but the events of this past weekend have definitely taken my mind off the race. I think it's time maybe I started thinking about it.

Hmmmm.

So I have done 2 "stand alone marathons." One, in 2002. Trained alone, 30 pounds heavier than I am now, and just happy to finish. Finishing time 5:14.

Then, me and my partner in crime, Canada Jenn, did the Flying Pig in 2005. Trained with Second Sole and my awesome buddies there. Actually had a clue. Lost the poundage. Ran a 4:18.

This race, I'm setting the goal at 3:59.59. Things went so well during training, that I thought about lowering the bar even more. But I don't want to get too ahead of myself...18 minutes is a lot to chop off, and a BQ is still too far away, so I think sub-4 is a good goal for right now.

The plan is to run with Pacer Catherine of the Clif Bar Pace Team (who just so happens to be an IMW Veteran as of this year) for the first half. Then, pick it up just slightly if I can, or stay to her like glue if I cannot.

So that's the plan.

Weather looks good so far, but this is me we're talking about and I get rained on in pretty much every race I do, so I'd better not speak too soon. I do not do well in heat, and I think I'm out of the woods for that at least.

The events of the past week have been sort of a punch in the face of perspective, so I really am rather calm and collected at the moment. In the scheme of things, really....this is just a race. I'm going to do my best, do what I know I can, and enjoy the day and the finish with my buddies and Matt and the Bug.

So, there you have it. Not the usual intense pre-race situmatation that I usually find myself in. But, regardless, I just kind of have a good feeling about this. And I just kind of feel like I'm going to do it.

So that's what I'm going to do. For those who want to play along, I'm number 4025, and you can probably track me somehow here.

See you on the other side of the finish line.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

And in a week from today

...it will all be done.

Whatever the results may be.

And that's kind of exciting. Scary, but exciting, too.

It's been one of those whirlwind weekends. Something awful happened Friday. Something that is really your worst fear come true...something that makes you stop and realize how little you have in your control when you kiss your loved ones goodbye in the morning. Something that makes you stop and think that sometimes you almost don't have time for that kiss. And how you'd just never be able to live with yourself if Friday was that day for you.

I spent part of Friday evening in a place no one wants to be in--the Emergency Room, with a few other friends and quite a few tears. I spent Friday night thinking, what would I do if it was just me alone in this bed? Would I be able to handle that?

Somehow we have to, sometimes.

So this week, my race has been pushed to the back burner. And, the more I think about it, I remember that I do best when I push it back there. I am, first and foremost, a mother, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. I'm no professional athlete. I get to race in Columbus next Sunday morning and have that moment--where I have to wait in line for the port-o-potty, hands shaking, yawning like I always do when I'm nervous--because I am lucky enough to have that moment.

That morning.

After Friday, I woke up and drove to West Virginia with Matt and friends from my childhood-- most of whom I am lucky enough to still call my friends today. And I focused on the happy thoughts, because I had to--that one of my bestest guy friends since kindergarten found such an awesome girl. I danced with a ridiculous hot pink feather boa around my neck. I kicked my shoes off because they made my feet hurt, and danced to Baby Got Back like I was pretty much in the video. I did the best I could to live that evening like the gift that it was.

There is suffering and joy in all of our lives. I'm very blessed that most of mine is pure, sheer joy.

And with that, I look forward to the finish line next Sunday morning.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fall, Taper, and other assorted thoughts

Had a great run on Friday--13 miles with a good negative split. Then we celebrated Bug's birthday Saturday with family and friends, and Sunday I had a nice recovery ride. Even had to pull out my new 2XU arm and leg warmers. Love it! Fall is pretty much my favorite season.

I'm pretty excited because one of my good running buddies is crossing over to the tri-side! So excited for her. I'm always pumped to get a new training buddy!

Now I'm in taper, which is nice, as I'm getting a chance to breathe. But, you know how it goes...taper time creates phantom pains and the feeling of being, essentially, a fat bloated cow. Although, the Friendly's Reese's Cup Sundae I took care of (well, I had about 3/4 of it. close enough) might have something to do with it. Today, I just had one workout. And it felt pretty weird! I've been "on" for a while now, and now that I'm slowing down and gearing up for the big day, it feels a little strange.

I've never been more ready for a race. But the marathon is a funny animal, and you never quite know with unwavering certainty what you're going to get. All you can do, is what you can, with the day that is given to you.

And trust yourself.

And that's what I plan on doing.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

One Year Later




...and I love them more every day.






Happy Birthday, Little Bug!






Two weeks until Columbus...and I'm gonna make this one count. Big time. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Honestly

This week was quite a challenge. I was ready for a big-volume week with over 40 miles of running, a bike and a swim.

And then I got bronchitis. Ugh.

I've been trying to wrestle with some pretty serious stuff the past 3 weeks, and I think it's starting to affect me physically. I rarely get sick, so when I do, I usually take it as a sign that something is out of whack. The body has a funny way of letting you know things you just don't want to admit, you know?

I ran 10 on the treadmill earlier this week, with a few pushes. Not too much trouble, as I'm on antibiotics and have an inhaler to help clear things up.

Today, I had a 20 miler. My longest run before Columbus.

Alone.

I didn't have time to plan anything ahead of time, as a lot of people around here were running Akron today. Plus, Bug was up from about 2-4 last night...probably teething...good times, good times. So we all slept until 9. I woke up, looked at the clock and said to Matt, "Hmmm. I was supposed to be nearing the end of my 20 miler right about now."

Ah, yes. I am learning I need to roll with the punches here. And lately, there just seem to be an awful lot of punches.

So 20 miles gives you plenty of time to sort things out. I don't know if I have any concrete answers yet, but I'm working on it. And I felt all emotions on this run...invincibility, fear, pain, uncertainty, elation. Pretty much the whole gamut. Which, I have to say, is paralleling my life at the moment, too.

I wondered when I would get my work done.

I wondered what Bug was doing.

I thought about how I had no business at all doing a marathon in October of this year, and how this is probably the most insane thing I've tried to do in quite some time.

I thought about stopping.

I thought I might not make it.

I thought I wouldn't be able to negative split this thing.

I thought how long 20 miles is, and how lonely I felt.

I thought about how I just don't know what to do.

But I remembered a friend told me that even when we're training alone, we're not really alone. There are other friends out there, training with us. I heard an AT&T van honk at me, and saw my triathlon buddy JBird in it, waving to me. And just like that, I was reminded.

I thought about why I was out there, running 20 miles, when I could be at home with my husband and son. What is this all about? What does this mean? Honestly?

It will mean quite a bit on October 19th. I really thought about it, and I came to the conclusion that this might mean more than Ironman for me. There's less hoopla and time to write about epic stuff, for sure. But this just might mean more to me. Because this has happened on a delicate tightrope act.

I went to Miami University for my undergrad. Since I worked pretty hard in high school and my parents saved up, I didn't have to take out a loan. This meant that I didn't have to work during the school year; my job was to be a student. And I took that seriously, mind you. I got pretty stressed out over classes and finals and grade point averages and all that junk. I ended up graduating cum laude, thinking that those were the 4 hardest years I'd worked at that so-called "public Ivy" school.

But they weren't. Not even close.

The four hardest years I worked where earning my master's degree at Cleveland State--a good school but not as rigorous of an selection process as Miami, for sure. I took classes at night, after teaching all day. Three or four nights a week I drove downtown and sat in classrooms from 6 to 8:50 or so, and then spent my weekends grading my own students papers and then flipping the switch to become a student and write papers. Sometimes I fell asleep with student papers on my lap and my HIS 697 book on the nightstand, open to page 389, highlighter still uncapped. I was still very lucky, as I was on full scholarship, so money was not an added stress. But I worked my butt off those four years.

It put everything I did at Miami to shame. Miami felt like a walk in the park.

And I am proud of both my degrees, but there was a different feeling when I walked at CSU to get my diploma...I felt almost more ownership of that one. I had to really work magic for that, and it was one of the proudest moments of my life so far. I had tears in my eyes when they called my name in the CSU convocation center. At Miami, I was just beaming from ear to ear, and the only tears were when I drove away from my friends a few days later.

Columbus will be my CSU.

It's not my first marathon, first Ironman, or my first endurance event...those moments and finish lines have already happened. And they were wonderful.

But this one?

This one, I have really, really had to work for. This one has shaken me to my core more than any other event I can think of. That includes Ironman. Honestly.

There will be no Mike Reilly, no people in crazy outfits cheering me up any hill...no "M" dots anywhere, no Boston Qualifying time or anything like that. No hoopla at all.

Just me. Me, and my arbitrary goal of trying to get to the finish line while there's still a "3" in the hour's place.

I thought about that, and how much this journey has shown me about myself. How I still don't really know what to do about things, but one thing's for sure--one thing's in my control: I am going to finish this run. And I am going to negative split it.

And with that, my last 4 miles went 9:13, 9:03, 9:01, and 8:52.

Honestly.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Changes

I'm knee deep in the process of making some big changes. It's all good...much in the sense that Ironman forced me to simplify and clarify, I'm doing some of that now.

It does mean my writing here has been a bit sporatic, but the writing in my journal is filling up lots of pages. :) I'll keep it real here, training-wise, as often as I can!

Speaking of which, just about a month until Cbus, which I will be rocking a sub-4. Yep, I said it. I'm feeling really good. Did a 16 mile run with the last 8 supposed to be at race pace three weeks ago--and held 8:55 for the last 8, feeling pretty darn awesome. Last week, had an 18 miler in the pouring rain, and finished strong. Yesterday, ran 10 on my own, then the last 4 with Bug and Matt. I was supposed to go race pace the last 3...and I went 8:40s, which just felt about perfect.

(race pace goal is 9:09)

Part of me says shoot for more like a 3:55, but I'm thinking I'm going to stick with 4. Really no point in changing now, as BQ is 3:40 and I'd have work to do for that...so I'm going to stick with The Awesome Ironman Pacer Girl that I know for the 4 hour pace group and just see how it goes.

I'm gonna enjoy it, and hopefully carry Bug with me across the finish line.

That's all for now!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Silhouette Shadows

In the house I grew up in, there used to be these two silhouette cutout pictures of my brother and I in a frame. I don't even know if they're still up there, actually. Just my face, but a paper shadow...you can't really see my expression, but you can see my features.

I remember the first race I ever did...the Cincinnati Race for the Cure, back in 1998. I remember how it was a sunny day, and I was wearing the cotton race tee shirt because I didn't know any better. I remember going there with a group of friends, and wondering if I could really do the whole 3.1 miles. I remember in the middle of the race, looking down, and seeing all the shadows of people around me, bouncing, running, each for a different reason, and each a different shape.

Training for Ironman, I found my silhouette again. Expressionless, strong, and constantly one step ahead of me. I trained and trained and hoped someday I'd catch her.

Today, I ran.

In the bright sunny fall day, past middle school football teams and an elderly couple walking. And my shadow caught my eye again. Still a swishing ponytail; still expressionless and strong. Still one step ahead of me. But this time, there's another shadow.

A stroller, with a little man inside. I heard him giggling, saying "mammamabababadadada" which always brings a smile to my face.

So I took a little mental picture her--my shadow--wondering where she'll go next, if the ponytail will still swish, if that little man will be riding a tricycle next to her. Knowing, all the while, that the expressionless outline will still have strength, will still have grace, will still have hopes and dreams and will still be one step ahead, daring me to catch her.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I Heart Fall

First and foremost....major props and vibes going out to all my buddies doing IMW today! I can't believe this is my two-year Ironaversary. Wow, how time has flown...anyway, I am having so much fun tracking my buddies....GOOOOOOO guys go! You can bet I'll be glued to my computer screen tonight!

Okay, so I am feeling a bit swamped lately, but I have to say how much I love fall. It's a new start in a lot of ways--a new school year, I'm doing a new training season for a new race, and it's full of changes. This is good, but at times I feel a little overwhelmed. But my body's doing it's best to keep me going and surprising me, and the little Bug is filling up every second of free time and energy with so much joy, that I'm trying not to feel too overwhelmed with the other stuff.

There's a definite crispness to the air, and despite the hot humid stuff we had last week, at night it would cool off nicely so that you could open the windows and get the breeze. It's starting to be the kind of nights to put on a sweatshirt and make a fire--not just for fun but because you really need it to keep warm!--and watch football! And can I just say that my little Miami University Redhawks hung in pretty good against Michigan yesterday? Although, as my hubby reminded me, Michigan is definitely in a rebuilding year...BUT THE SCORE WAS GOOD SO THAT'S ALL I CARE ABOUT.

AND--Matt's alma mater, Ohio University, was beating the #3 ranked OSU Buckeyes UNTIL the 4th quarter?!?!?!?! It was super fun to watch that game! We went to a benefit for my former softball coach and Matt's former football coach, Bob Sielski. It was a lot of fun, and a special way to honor his memory. He passed away ten years ago of pancreatic cancer, and I can't believe ten years have gone by. He was an amazing person, and if anyone's interested in learning more about him or donating to the cause, you can do so here.

On the training front--had an AWESOME 16 mile run yesterday. Coach Emily said to do the first half easy, and the last half at marathon pace, so I did. Matt and the Bug joined me for the last 4 miles, which was such a nice boost! :) I'm proud to say I did the last 8 miles at just under a 9 minute pace, and felt fantabulous the whole time! I feel great today, too, which is also a good sign.

Lots of stuff going on this week, so I'll see how much I can get away with again...one day at a time, right?

GO Brownies!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Morning Runs

I don't talk about this very much, but around this time of year it bothers me. So I will today.

I like running in the morning, but not alone. And not outside.

Which is kind of sad, because I hate running inside. I hate that I've been on my treadmill the past 2 weeks, when it's perfectly nice outside. I hate that I've been riding on my trainer, with a fan pointed on me, when it's a gorgeous morning outside. Sometimes I'll let it slip, that I've been in my basement already, when it's just September, and people ask me why. And I say because I don't want to risk a flat at o'dark thirty and be late for work. Which, is kind of true.

But that's not the real reason.

When I'm alone, anywhere, but especially in the morning for some reason, it bothers me more. I don't feel safe. Which is often silly, as I live in a very safe neighborhood. Nothing ever happens here, right? Except that's what everyone said before it happened.

A jogger found her. In the morning. Someone jogging, alone, found her. I know, it's silly...it wasn't completely a random thing. I shouldn't be worried 20 years later. She was targeted, he had contacted her before, she was only 10 and she fell for the oldest line in the book, blah, blah, blah. But for some reason, around this time of year, I remember it again, and it bothers me.

I just remember that day, the day the principal came in to tell us they found her, because her brother was in my grade--what we all sort of knew but didn't want to hear--and that it was a jogger. In the morning.

My close friends will tell you I'm skiddish alone, and in the dark. I drove a few of my friends and housemates nuts in college, constantly nagging them to lock the doors, lock the doors, all the time hearing "but nothing ever happens here...."

It's just very sad, because, well, we're going on twenty years here. And a small part of me feels like I have almost twenty years of fear that I wouldn't have had otherwise. And, of course, anger. Because she would have turned 30 later this year.

Anger that he's still out there, as far as we know.

So, unless someone wants to join me, I'll be in the basement a lot here for a while. I'll miss some great sunrises, and maybe someday I will be able to be a jogger in the morning.

But not right now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

One Week In

I just lost my class for a meeting, so I'm sitting and just taking a breather.

Whew.

Figured I might as well throw a post up to state that I made it...one week down, one good solid week of workouts in for the next race, and so far, so good!

I'm not used to standing, talking a lot, or wearing anything other than flip flops, so me poor widdwle toes are quite blistered. And I have not much of a voice left. But it's been pretty fun, nonetheless.

And it's not 90 degrees, nor am I nine months pregnant and scared out of my wits, so that's always good.

Most of my workouts were done early, or while pushing Bug in his stroller. Let me tell you how NOT fun it is to push a 24 pound Bug in a stroller while trying to do 5K pace pickups. He sure liked it, though! I've got about 9 hours planned for this week, and, barring any major disasters, I should hit that. That, in and of itself, is quite a victory for me.

Tomorrow morning I'm super excited to be able to hit the trails and run with another person that can talk to me! Yahoooooooooo! It's not just me and my Garmin! :) I'll be doing 12 miles with Aimee, my buddy and my Iron-Bro Eric's wife, who is training for the Nike Women's Marathon the same day of C-bus. We're about the same pace and have the same goals, and want to start REALLY early, so it works out perfectly! Then later that day I'll take Bug out for a few more miles to get about 14-15 in. Sunday I've got a ride and some weights, and Monday my last swim outside for a while. I really wish the pools were open in September around here, because it's still CRAZY hot here in September! Oh well.

I've been focusing on good nutrition, and it seems to have paid off! I'm pretty pumped about that. Now, I still eat my ice cream, don't you worry....but I just try to do as much whole grains, fruits and veggies, low-fat dairy and lean meat as I can, and--drum roll please--I've lost 4 more pounds, which puts me below my pre-pregnancy weight! Yahoooooooooooooyippeeeee! So now I'm all about maintaining and toning up what I've got, which is (to me) a good place to be.

Tonight, though, it's all about celebrating...a new year, a good start, and cashing in on a gift card from my brother for my FAVORITE restaurant, which happens to be a Mexican place. I sure hope I don't pay for that tomorrow morning... ;)

Oh, and the little Bug started walking on August 17th. I forgot to mention that. And it's been sooooooooo fun. I like to think he did it so that I could be there for it. Thanks, Bug!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

So, yeah, I did this race and stuff.

No, really!

Remember I said I couldn't end this tri season on a du?

We've got these great little local races around here put on by NCN. Small, cheap, and local. Can't beat 'em. So I decided I'd trade in my race voucher from volunteering last year when I was all pregnant and huge and do the international distance today. Signed up online last week, packed my bag yesterday before my friend's wedding, and was all ready to go.

Until.

I spent the better part of last night and this morning, um, clearing out my system, so to speak. What?!?! I didn't eat anything that I normally don't eat, so it's still a mystery to me. Perhaps it was a little bug or something. It was no fun. So I decided at about 3am this morning that I could either A) bag the race, which totally stinks, and end my season on a du or B) downsize to the sprint, because, hey, then I'm not too far away if I crash and burn, right? It has been hot, hazy, and humid as HADES here lately and I knew that trying an oly in this weather with the amount of bathroom time I was seeing was a recipe for disaster.

So I got to the race and dropped down a level to the sprint. I'm REALLY glad I did that. I'm fairly certain that the oly would have meant lots of port-o-potty time. Mmmmmmmm. Port-0-potties in August.

;)

So, I also got to thinking, that holy crap, I haven't raced a sprint distance tri since 2005. I sorta think they are too hard, which is kind of how I feel about 5Ks. Because you have to go all fast and stuff, you know? I like to zone out at one speed. Plus, there is no room for error. But I thought, what the heck? I might as well step outside the comfort zone and try something different. So I knew this would be an interesting day.

Saw a ton of my CTC buddies there which was awesome! It made it so much easier to face my tummy. I hit the bathroom not one, but two more times before the start. DEAR SWEET ALMIGHTY THERE CANNOT BE ANYTHING LEFT IN MY GUT, I thought. Turns out I must have been right. Whew! Good timing.

So the gun went off, and I'm not even sure how far this was supposed to be but I think it was a 1/4 mile swim, so we're looking at roughly 400 meters. I forgot what a beach start is like, and it showed. I tried some dolphin dives and got nowhere. I arrived at the first buoy in a complete bottleneck. Poop sandwich. I then was swimming next to someone doing breastroke. I was like, "Okay, no. I'm not staying here." So I tried to turn on the jets, but it didn't seem to work too well. Total time including the run up the hill to T1 was a (for me) VERY disappointing 9:43 (I think). Looking at the results it seemed that the times for most people were pretty slow, so I'm thinking it had to be more than 400 meters. Let's hope, at least!

T1 was uneventful. Got on my bike and took off.

And then realized something was rotten in the state of Denmark.

Why, oh why, was I pushing 300 watts and going 15 miles an hour?!?!?!?!!?? I knew there was a little headwind, but I rode along the lake all summer so I'm used to it and NEVER saw anything like that.

Oh no. I know what happened.

The $%$&%(@ tire is rubbing against the rim. Damn horizontal dropouts that are so tempermental. Arg. I had this problem earlier this week but thought I solved it.

There comes a moment when you realize you should have thought about this earlier, and curse your stupidity. Then, you have a few thoughts go in your head:

"It's not that bad...I can just ride it this way."

But when I couldn't go more than 13 mph up a TINY hill, I knew I needed to stop.

"Damn. There goes your race."

"You know, self, sprints are too fast to make this up."

And then a few other things went through my head that I will refrain from typing, so to keep things PG around here.

Stop #1. Tried to fix it. Got on. Didn't fix it.

Sigh.

Stop #2. Tried again. Watched people whiz by me again. Got on. Still didn't fix it.

#%#$$*@.

Stop #3 This is it, I thought. We don't fix it this time, we're just a' gonna ride it as is and call it a training day.

I fixed it! Hoooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyyy!

Whizzed by quite a few people at this point like they were standing still. :) But as in a 5K, you screw up a little, and there just isn't much time to make it up. I figured at least I might be able to have a decent run.

Got into T2 and still managed about a 19.3 average, despite three stops. I'll take that.
And since I still, yes STILL do not have Yankz on my shoes, spent about 47 minutes TYING MY SHOES LIKE A FOOL IN T2. Note to self: if you are going to do short course stuff, please act like a short course athlete and do a little preparation. Oh well. I was just happy my stomach was still okay, but I was afraid to have anything but water.

Took off on the run and passed a few people instantly. Then got passed by a tiny little thing in my age group who I flew by towards the end of my ride. I remember thinking, "Hmmm, she looks like a runner. Wish I had a few more minutes on her." Oh well. Turns out she was a runner, and she took OFF. She eventually won my age group. Competitive Sara curses having to stop 3 times on the bike because I might have had a shot with a few more minutes on her. Arg!

Got passed by another girl in my age group and let her go, as it was early and I wanted to hopefully pick it up. But it was hot, and I felt a little weak. I saw her about a half mile later, stretching on the side of the road. My goal became to hold her off, and I did. She eventually finished a little bit behind me for 3rd in age group.

Somehow I managed to eek out a 25 minute 5K...hey, not bad! I finished the whole shebang in 1:22 and change. Good enough for 2nd in my age group! I'll take that fo' SHO'!

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO proud of my girl JenC...that chick flew by me on the bike and had a solid bike (as usual) and then pretty much PR'd her 5K to win her age group! Jen, I tried to catch ya but you were smokin'! GREAT JOB! It was so good to see her do so well, and pretty much everyone in CTC finished strong or even took home some hardware.

So, you know what? Short course stuff is pretty fun. I'm very very glad I did the sprint and not the oly today. I think I could get used to it!

And I guess that's pretty much a wrap on my tri season this year!

What a freakin' blast. :)

Now, onto my marathon goals. Time to up the runs big time. I'm feeling good and I know I've got some speed in me, but do I have 26.2 miles of enough speed? That is the million dollar question.

I also head back tomorrow, so it will be a challenge to fit this in with the first few weeks of school. Here goes!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Reality Check

Okay.

Deep breath.

This is a call to remind yourself that you do this because you love it. You have been doing this ten years and that's just about a third of your life. It is as much a part of you as blinking your eyes and breathing. It is what you were born to do. You truly enjoy it, and that's more than a lot of people get to say about where they spend most of their waking hours.

In those ten years, you've tried your best to teach the history of this world and of this nation to about 1,300 students. Some got it. Some didn't. Some don't want to admit they got it, which is a tiny victory. You entered a barely-22 year old who thought she could change the world and was heartbroken to find that wasn't entirely possible. You almost left.

You know now at 31 that you can't change everything, but you can change some. And knowing that has brought a certain amount of peace to some of the heartbreaking things you've seen.

You went to more school at night, on a full scholarship that you worked so hard for, and you earned your M.A. in history over three years of writing papers late at night after going to class after teaching classes. You graduated with honors, without a penny of debt, and it meant just as much as the four years of undergraduate work you did where you also graduated with honors and, thanks to a lot of scholarships and a lot of help from Mom and Dad, graduated debt-free.

You've worked so hard to get where you are. And, as far as jobs go, you have the perfect one. There is not another place you'd rather be, save perhaps the Capitol as a United States Congresswoman.

You are going to have your 27th first day of school on Tuesday because you want to.

You don't have to.

You do this because it's who you are and it's what you worked so hard to become. It makes you a better mommy. Some mommies are happier when they are at home, too, like your own was, and that's perfect. Every one, every time, and every situation is different.

You have this choice.

You just enjoyed two and a half months of time with him and your husband, too, with paychecks still coming in every week. Sure, you could make a lot more doing something else, but you would never, ever, find something with such a good schedule.

Many mommies do not have this choice. They work because if they do not, there is no food and the electricity is turned off.

So, for crying out loud, relax. He's fine. He gets to play and sleep with a few of his friends, and chase them around. He even gave you his first steps this week, just so that you got to see them. You still can go feed the ducks, head to an Indians game, go for a ride, take him for a jog, catch lightening bugs in the backyard, and at least for next week go for a swim. You won't stay as late as you used to in your classroom, and that's okay. The house won't always be clean, and that's okay, too. Sometimes you're not going to be able to cook a nice meal, and that's okay. Lean Cuisines are your friend. Dust bunnies can be your friend.

All of this is your choice, and that in and of itself is such a wonderful privilege.

So go have your first day of school. And stop freaking out about it.

He still loves you and his Daddy more than anything in the world, and you wouldn't trade one choice you've ever made for anything.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I sho' am SMART

How to:

--kick your own arse

--look like a total tool

--make your neighbors think you are nuts

So I got this interesting workout from Coach Emily. She said it was supposed to be "fun." It was! But I looked pretty silly.

Tuesday's workout went like this: the plan was to ride at an easy pace to warm up for 20 minutes, and then run for 10. Then, I was to hammer at about 170-180 watts on a "course" for 10 minutes and run hard for 5. Then I'd do that all over again. Finally, I'd cool down easy on the bike for 20 minutes. Now, the only way I could really think to do this avoiding stop lights and traffic was to do a loop around my block. It's a bigger block and has two sidestreets so I could at least alternate. My own little velodrome, I guess.

So I got all decked out in my IMW outfit and took off. I've been feeling really strong on the bike lately, but it's been a while since I dropped the hammer on the run. My 20 minute warmup was done before I knew it, and then I ran at just under 9s for my run warmup. I stood in my driveway and thought, "Okay...here goes."

ZOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM! I took off. It was pretty fun! I don't usually ride this hard so I was enjoying it. I had to slow a bit to take the corners but I figured this would be some good handling practice for me. I was eyeing my PowerTap and seeing numbers in the 200s and high 100s, so I knew I was pushing enough. It was really tough, and I started to see a few of the same people several times. I wondered if they noticed me as I flew by their house for the 5th or 6th time.

Then it was time for run number one. I tried to just go at a controlled-fast pace and negative split it. I ran on the same little "course" I made and got a strange look from a little old lady weeding her garden. Finished that little run with a pace of 7:42.

Um...okay. Now I have to do it again.

I know it's dumb, because no one was even noticing me except the little old lady--and only because I made eye contact and saw her quizzical look. But I just felt kinda silly zooming around the block 80 times, you know?

Did it again, and felt really good! For run #2, I was tired as hell, but determined to make it faster. I negative split that one, too, and finished with a pace of 7:28. Now for a lot of people out there that's a nice little stroll but for me that's about my 5K pace, so I was pretty pumped. Did my cooldown, and relaxed the rest of the day.

Fast forward to the Wednesday. I've been feeling really rotten about my eating the week after Steelhead, so I've tried to tone it down and eat better this week. The day after this tough workout, I had egg beaters and soy protein boca sausage for breakfast, and then a grilled chicken salad for lunch.

Then I took Bug for a 5o minute fartlek run in a moderately humid and warm day.

Notice something?

NO. CARBOHYDRATES. AT. ALL.

What was I thinking?

Have you ever BONKED on a 5 mile run? Cuz I have. It was crazy!

I don't think I've really ever hit the wall--even during marathons--but I felt weak and shaking within the first 15 minutes. "What the heck is going on?!!?" I thought. Then, I really thought about it.

DOH.

I'm in trouble.

I was laboring to hold a ridiculously slow pace. I did have a water bottle with me, but nothing else. Bug sat quietly in his stroller. I tried my first pickup.

Nothing.

I. had. nothinginthetank.

So I decided to scrap the fartlek part of this run, and just sludge through. Ugh. With about 2 miles to go, I stole some of Bug's Cheerios--CHEERIOS!--and chased them with some water. That's how desperate I was. I almost called Matt, but I decided I could get home on my own. Got to my house in a little under 48 minutes, but that's run time only. I didn't factor in the times I had to stop to steal my son's FREAKING CHEERIOS.

Oops.

So, the moral of the story is, the day after you kick your own butt, HAVE SOME CARBS before you do it again. I know, I know. You can just call me CAPTAIN OBVIOUS.

Or she who hits the wall on a five mile run.

Or she who rides around the same block 87 times.

:)

The things we do, huh?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Shifting Gears

Whew. Lots going on this week. I'd better run down in listy-like fashion:




  • ate more ice cream than any human being should be allowed

  • had two great swims, one nice ride, and a two hour hike with the Bug and Matt to celebrate our 4th anniversary on August 7 :)

  • decided for my other "30 minute ride" to "spin out my legs" on Tuesday that it was TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE to ride 13 minutes to the nearest Dairy Queen with Bug in tow and Matt on another bike, eat a Thin Mint Blizzard, and then ride 13 minutes home.

  • I SAID IT'S TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE SO BACK OFF

  • Speaking of which, I'm still trying to figure out...how long is the window to eat ice cream without abandon after a 70.3? One day? Two?

  • Probably not six.

  • Tried out some new recipes this week and actually had time to read a magazine

  • realizing that chasing Bug around ONE ROOM is quite tiresome
  • I'm pretty sure my 100 IM is the most HILARIOUS thing around. I might sell popcorn and charge admission next time Coach Emily prescribes it. It ain't pretty

I've also made some peace with the duathlon thing. I was really upset about it for a good 24 hours or so. I think it's just because I feel like I worked so hard all summer and I really was ready to blow this race up. But I have to remember that I did blow it up, just not in my element. Shaving almost 40 minutes off the bike and 23 minutes off the run is nothing to sneeze at, so I'm feeling pretty good. I'm kind of feeling like nothing can stop me right now.

Which is probably not good.

See, I've got this little thing called a marathon coming up. And I haven't been in the marathon mindset for a long time...like, since the Flying Pig back in '05. So I really need to shift a bit and get it in gear. Coach Emily has already informed me of what my training weeks will look like, so I'm ready to give it a go.

Sub-4 ain't gonna be automatic, kids. I need to focus. And put down the ice cream.

I've already had one good solid freak out about going back to work...not because I don't want to, because I love what I do. But I have some real issues with leaving the Bug, because, in my head, HE CANNOT SURVIVE TEN MINUTES WITHOUT ME. It's the same reason why I don't have a good swim when he's AT the pool with my Mom or Matt. Because, the whole time, I'm thinking, "Is he okay? Does he need me? Maybe I should get out."

Seriously. The WHOLE time.

I guess this is sort of just what happens when you have a little Bug, no? You just have to learn how to squelch the irrational thoughts, and realize that YES HE CAN SURVIVE FIVE SECONDS WITHOUT YOU. And a few hours. And eventually college, even.

Yikes.

So, I am going to try and shift mindset a bit. Hopefully the transition will not be as hard on me as it was in January. I am not going to get into details, but I will just say this: I didn't deal well with it. And it took a good 2-3 months of getting used to.

So in the meantime, I'm going to get up earlier, and either do schoolwork or get a workout in...but still have time for the Zoo and the Nature Center and the pool in the afternoon, followed by a walk with Mugsy Pug and maybe a sunset at the beach. And I'll do one more triathlon, because who ends their triathlon season with a du? Seriously.

Because you know what? I might only have two weeks left of summer, but they will be my two weeks.