Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year in Review and 2011: Back to the ROOTS.

Looking back, I had a tremendous year filled with more joy than I could have imagined. During this past year, I watched my mother-in-law smack stage 4 cancer upside the head, brought Emery into the world, and watched Jackson become a big brother. It really doesn't get any better than that.

In racing news, I got to cheer on runners at the Cleveland Marathon at Mile 10 with my homey, TriEric. We dressed up like Bert and Ernie, danced like fools, and caused lots of shenanigans. It was pretty much awesome. I knew I wasn't ready to race the half, and figured I'd give back to the runners and help make the race memorable. Little did I know I'd laugh so hard my cheeks would hurt by the time I was done! And by cheeks, I mean both sets--front and back. Booty shakin' and fist pumping in an Ernie suit ain't easy, folks.
IMMEDIATELY go to Eric's blog and read his year report--you will find a video of us dancing like fools. When else will you be able to see Bert do the robot and Ernie do a sweet Michael Jackson dance?

I headed out to WIBA with all my teammies and other assorted awesome tri-peeps and rode the hills of Wisconsin yet again. And each time I do, it always leaves me with one thought: how the FREAK SHOW did I ever do this Ironman? And it always serves as another little reminder that our will is much stronger than we think. And so are our bodies.

Which reminds me of quite possibly my proudest accomplishment in my about-to-be-ten year triathlon "career." The day I went ahead and did something even I thought was nuts (and that's saying a lot). Even I thought I was in way over my head (again, considering the source, that's quite impressive). And that was to race a half-ironman distance triathlon 6 months after giving birth to Emery. The craziest thing is that I raced it pretty well. I knocked off 16 minutes from my previous best time and, best of all, got to share it with my team again and my amazingly supportive family.

So, this season is my 10th. And I swore I would not do a half-ironman distance race this year, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that now I kinda wonder what I could do, since I'm about 15 pounds down from Rev3 and feel like 5:44 isn't even close to what I'm truly capable of. Who saw that coming? Show of hands?

But NO. I said NO long course this year, and I am sticking to that. In honor of my 10th season of triathlons, I'm going to go back to my roots. That being the oddest combination ever: marathons and sprints/olympic distance triathlons. I know. Since when is marathon training considered a break in your workout load? But the fact of the matter is that for me, marathon training is definitely harder on your body, but not as many net hours as long course triathlon training.

And that, my friends, is how Ironman warps your mind.

My first triathlon back in '01 was what started everything. I did that sprint, on a borrowed bike and completely clueless, and then immediately signed up for the Cleveland Marathon. (?!) Not because I was a strong runner, but because that's what triathlon does to you. It starts to make you think you can do just about anything.

So this year, here's how it will all play out according to my master plan. I'm aiming high here. VERY high. Go hard or go home is the theme of 2011. It's time to get back to my roots.

St. Malachi 5 Miler: No date yet, but it's mid-March. Goal here is to go hard and hurt at the end. If I finish and almost hurl, it's been a good race.

Spring Classic Half Marathon: No date on this yet, but it'll be mid-April. My goal is to go as close to 1:40 as I can. That will also hurt. Bring it.

Hermes Cleveland Ten Miler: No date on this, but it'll be a week or two after the Spring Classic. This I'll probably use as pacing practice for the marathon.

Cleveland Marathon: May 15, 2011. Boston or Bust. That is a 3:40 for me.

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon: July 9, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Two goals for this one: have a blast with my teammates, and hammer this as hard as I can. I don't believe I've gone under 2:40 for an olympic distance, so definitely under that. My pie-in-the-sky goal is 2:30.

I also earned two FREE races through a great local race company, NCN. One was because I got injured and couldn't race last year, and the other was because I volunteered which earns me a free race entry! So I'll be cashing those in: possibly at the Huntington Sprint triathlon and the Lorain Olympic.

I also plan on working with my EvoKids again this summer and am working on some ways to make my program even better.

Dances With Dirt: September 24, Hell, Michigan. Words cannot express how FREAKING EXCITED I AM to do this race with some super awesome ladies! I am so pumped that a spot on their team opened up and I can join in this crazy fun relay trail race!

(I'm leaving the possibility open for a fall marathon, but I don't want to need it.)

I'm not sure much can top this past year. But I'm going to try. As you can see, I have big, crazy dreams for 2011. Here's to making my 10th year in this sport the best yet.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 20, 2010

NEVER gets old.


Just watched the IM World Championship broadcast that I dvr'd again. For the second time in three days. And it is so amazing--not just because my rock-star teammate Rural Girl makes an appearance around 1:45 (which is AWESOME! You BETCHA) but just because it reminds me that yeah, I did that too (albeit not on that legend of a course), and it was just as surreal as the announcers describe.

And I know I'm a sucker, but I love the human interest stories. I feel like the people they focused on this year were just incredible. Hats off to them...especially Clayton Treska. To do this while battling cancer--not after, as that's amazing enough, in my opinion, but DURING--that is just superhuman. After watching my loved ones battle and see what chemotherapy and radiation do to your body, I just can't imagine even attempting what that guy did.

I spun a little harder on the trainer today, because I remembered again that day which, as one person put it (not sure who it was), was "one long conversation with yourself." That about sums it up. And I have some lofty goals for this year in running, but as I spun on my trainer in my toy-and-burp-cloth filled basement, I remembered yet again that I am, at heart, a triathlete. This broadcast always serves as the little kick in the pants I inevitably need at this point in the year. Running is something I do love, but triathlon is really just me.

I am so excited to race next season, I can hardly stand it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why I Am Doing Exercises

Right after I did Ironman Wisconsin, I remember sitting down with my coach, Angela, and discussing what was next. I sort of knew that if all went well, I wouldn't be racing the following season. But I was afraid of what all the naysayers were predicting: that once you have a kid, all bets are off. Goodbye races/social life/insert-something-you really-enjoy-here. And Angela tried to reassure me a bit. She told me that it was actually easier to race when they are very little. Because they don't really understand the concept of time as much, and they nap, and you can sneak away or hit the trainer a lot easier than when they are older. She should know, too. She's done I don't even know how many Ironman-distance triathlons, an 100 miler, and countless other endurance events. Angela told me, "Once they get older, then they ask you things like, 'Mommy, why are you running?' And it makes you think. Because you have to give them an answer."

I'm starting to really appreciate this now, and realize how right that was.

One thing I'm pretty proud of is how Matt and I have integrated fitness into our insanely packed crazybusy lives, no matter what. I really think that it is a positive thing for our family, although some may think we are certifiably insane. And I know it's starting to rub off on Jackson, too.

The only time workouts seem to happen is when Matt and I get up at 5am. Even on the weekends. I used to think the weekends were more relaxing than the workweek, and now I'm seriously thinking of moving my rest day to Saturday. SATURDAY. What endurance athlete does that?! Because as soon as these kids get up, we are literally nonstop until 8pm. Jackson's pretty much done with his nap, so the best I can get as far as a quiet house is concerned is one three-year-old somewhat in one room for an episode of Phineas and Ferb...which isn't very conducive to intervals on the trainer. Plus, I don't wanna. I want to play in the snow or make play-doh monsters. I work all week, and Saturday is my day to catch up on life for a bit.

So, needless to say, I'm still sorting out how to do this. It's a work in progress.

This morning, I tried to beat the kids up and hit the 'mill for about 8 miles. Then I was going to lift upper body and stuff. At about mile 5.2 or so, Bug ran down the steps.

"Mommy, look at my train!"

He proudly displayed a remote-controlled train that had been missing the batteries for at least 4 months.

"Wow, Bug!" I said, without breaking stride. Shoot, is what I was thinking. I'm outta time. Damn.

I hoped I could at least make it to 7 or so. While I was thinking all of this in my head, Bug asked, "Mama? Why are you doing exercises?"

I thought about it a bit. This day had come. The day I need to explain to a three-year-old why I am doing exercises.

I finally settled on, "So I can get better."


"Yeah, so Mama can get better, Bug."

"Okay!" He scurried upstairs to have his oatmeal.

I managed to get the rest of that 7 miles in--a little shorter than I wanted to go, but whatever. You gotta take what you can get, I'm realizing, in this phase. And by "this phase," I mean the phase where I'm the one now stepping on little toy cars. I'm the one chasing a little boy up to the tub to take his bath with his baby sister. And I'm the one who never cries in movies, yet turned to waterworks yesterday in the last 10 minutes of Toy Story 3 because my little boy was snuggling on my lap. (If you've seen it--and especially if you have a little boy--you might sympathize with me on that one.)

I'm still not entirely sure how it's me doing these things. Somehow, I'm here already.

So I do exercises because I want to be better. Better health, so I can be with him as long as I can. Better mommy. Better wife. Better teacher, better friend, and hopefully even a better runner. Me doing exercises is a lot better than the me who does not do exercises.

So that answer for my three-year-old is actually one I would give myself.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Little Bit Jealous.

My swimmer kids have been coming to class, tired, wet-haired, sniffly, and grumpy. It's swim season again around here, and our high school team is always pretty loaded with talent. Yesterday they were all dressed up for their first meet--ties for the boys, dresses and skirts for the girls. Fancy-schmancy shoes. I was sure to ask each one what their event was, and cringed if it was anything over 100 yards. Cuz short and painful is how I roll, yo.

I have to admit I'm a little jealous.

They are whining a bit, but I know deep down they love it. They wouldn't subject themselves to the dryland, the 6am swims, the 5,000 yard workouts, if they didn't really love it.

One thing I do regret about high school was giving up swimming. I quit swimming year-round when I was 14 for (of all things...gulp...I'm so embarrassed to type this) cheerleading and softball. Yeah. But a lot of it was that our school didn't have a pool so it required a lot of travel time, and swimming is the kind of sport that unless you give it 100%, your times get slower and slower and slower. And also, there were quite a few people on the team in my class that had tormented me in middle school, and I was kind of over them, and DEFINITELY didn't want to spend extra time of my life with them. That seems like a silly reason now, but when you're 14 and had spent the past 2-3 years being relentlessly bullied, it seemed quite fine thank you very much.

So now I see my swimmer kids, all tired and chlorine-y and grumpy, and I just want to trade places with them for a day. Because literally all they do is swim, eat, study, and sleep. Repeat. I know that might be rough after a while, but man...right about now I kind of wish I could have just one day to swim, eat, study, and sleep. No bills. No mortgage. No huge pile of laundry to sort and fold that is spilling over into the hallway. Just swim, eat, study, and sleep.

One day of that would be just about perfect. One day to take back my silly mistake from Me, Version 1992. And then I'd be more than happy to go back to Adult-Land. (Wait. Adult-Land sounds like some perv store you see the sign for off the highway in the bad side of, well, you know what I mean, right?) But I realize that even though I think I'm busy, there are people out there with much more on their plate than me.

So here's to everyone out there, whether you're 16 or just young-at-heart, who are a little tired today and maybe even a little bit grumpy, because you got up to get 'er done in the cold and dark at whyamInotinbednow?-o'clock. Someone out there is wishing they could have that time you just did. Even if you think you are busy, remember someone out there at this very moment is dealing with more than you can even wrap your head around. And a good, healthy dose of endorphins is worth the smelly chlorine-y skin, the stinky running shoes tossed in the car, and the slightly damp hair on the way to work today. So turn that frown upside down.

And maybe one of these days I'll get to the pool again.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Soulmate Story

I first met my first running soulmate, Canada Jenn, when I was 24. I remember nervously checking the Second Sole website all week...seeing if, in fact, they were having a new member run at the store that Saturday in December. The shy part of me sort of wanted it to be canceled. I was never very good at being the new kid, especially in a sport that I felt I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. True, I had recently completed a marathon. But, it was the most clueless, one-f00t-in-front-of-the-other marathon that anyone had ever done...and I had trained for it completely alone. I grew up playing team sports: swimming and softball. I missed that. I missed living in a house with 7 of my best girl friends and having the rest of my friends all within a 5 square-mile area. I missed the late night talks and the endless closets that come from going to college and making new friends...the things you take for granted until they are over and you finally realize that will never happen again.

I had been back for a year, and despite the fact that this was my hometown...I felt lonely.

I almost didn't go that morning. But I decided to go. If I embarrassed myself, at least I could just go back home, right? It was cold and snowy. That would be a good excuse.

I walked in like it was 6th grade and I was walking into the cafeteria. I was very, very much afraid that it would be all waif-like, Olympic-Trials-Running Marathoners. And I would look completely out of place.

I saw another girl with a funky hat on who looked about my age sitting there with a big smile. So I nervously walked over to approach her. Maybe she'd want to run with me? Maybe she wouldn't think I was crazy for calling myself a runner--ME, of all people?

We started talking, and we realized we were very similar. Similar age, similar pace, similar sense of humor. And she lived right down the road from my apartment. And she loved coffee. And beer. And having fun.

And it was the fastest five miles I think I've ever ran: not pace-wise, but step wise. We talked and laughed the whole way.

I found my first running soulmate.


Running-wise, it's been a lonely three years. Once you get used to having the absolute best: the perfect combination of a running partner/best friend/happy-hour-buddy/neighbor-down-the-road/racing inspiration who is at your exact stage of life and your exact pace and goals and running philosophy, it's hard to imagine ever finding that again.

She had to leave, and I knew that day would come. I hoped they'd pick Cleveland--I kept talking up the great hospital system here (hey, Kings and Queens fly here just for the hospitals! pleasepleasestay) but their journey took them to Peoria for a year and finally to Sacramento, California. About as far west as one can get from Cleveland, unless you head to Hawaii. I knew it would come, since her family was all out west or still in Edmonton. But it really made me sad. Especially given that our lives were still staying relatively parallel--she was pregnant as I was about to have Bug, and she had her second little girl about 2 years later, just like me.

We were still running soulmates. Just a few thousand miles apart.

I searched and searched for the combination of best friend/running partner/same pace/running inspiration who now needed to literally live in my backyard. Because running was no longer something I could regularly schedule. Running came when I could steal a few moments away, or in the wee hours of the morning while the rest of the world slept. It still meant the same, and I wasn't ready to lose that. But I felt I had lost my running soulmate. I have lots of good friends, and running partners the same pace as me, and complete running inspirations...but none that were able to live in my backyard. I just couldn't justify taking more time away to travel to run, when I could lace up and run from my front door and be home and instantly able to help and hug and change and feed.

Three hours earlier and thousands of miles away, she was doing the same thing.

I sort of gave up. I gave up the idea that I'd ever be able to have that again--that perfect storm that makes the perfect running partner. And I settled into a routine of lonely-but-satisfying runs, with the occasional, once-a-month run with friends which required quite a bit of planning ahead. And it was good--it was more than good, actually. It allowed me to have a solid run at complete three half-ironman triathlons. To stay in touch with and be inspired by the amazing athletes who live in Northeastern Ohio.

But it wasn't the same. I didn't think it ever would be, and I had made peace with that.


"You know," said my mail carrier, "I keep getting this house and the one behind you on (the next street) with the same number mixed up."

"What?" I was in a complete lack-of-sleep-first-baby-haze.

"Congratulations, I mean. I can tell you have a new baby, and so does the girl who lives on the street behind you," he grinned. "I'm just apologizing for mixing up the mail for your houses. You know, with two babies and the same address and all."

"Oh," I smiled with exhaustion. "No worries--they have a baby, too?"

"Yep...must'a been about the same time as you!"

I wondered who that was, living in the same number a street behind me. I wondered if she was as tired as I was.


Time passed and I met a girl at the pool with two little girls--one was about my Bug's age. And we started talking and realized that we had a common friend; my amazing tri-buddy-and former swim coach, Laura. Ana taughed with Laura before she had her daughters--in the same district I taught at. And sooner or later, we realized we lived exactly one street apart.

And she was an athlete, too.

"Hey, we should run sometime with Laura!" I suggested. We both agreed, but then had to go chase a little one somewhere in the pool and it never really came to fruition.

Maybe someday, I thought.


A few more pool years went by, and Ana was about to have her third baby this past summer. Now that I have two, I understand what that means...and I have nothing but respect for people with three babies. HUGE respect. No more man-to-man gotta go zone. She told me she couldn't wait to get back into running after the baby arrived. That she was going to train for the Cleveland half marathon in the spring. Once again, I threw out the vague, "Hey, we should run together sometime!" out there. I dropped off a meal when her baby arrived. Then the pool closed for the season, and I just sort of thought that would be the last time I'd see her until next June.


On the way home from West Virginia on October 10th, the stars aligned and the time zones and naps cooperated, and I talked to my good friend and running soulmate Canada Jenn on the phone for almost an hour. As it always is with her, it was like no time had passed at all. We talked about jobs and juggling and balance and running and life and potty training and our babies. I hung up, and missed my friend dearly.


Last week, I headed to work one morning and saw a girl running down my street. "Man, she looks like she means business," I thought. As I drove by, I peered in the mirror to see who it was.

It was Ana. Kicking butt and flying down my street.

I got to thinking.

We arranged to run Sunday morning--she said she was up for anything, and was game for my suggested route of 6-8 miles. It was a warm morning, and I literally could have ran through my backyard to get to her house, but I figured I'd better just use the sidewalk and not trespass. So I did. She met me with a smile and an understanding of what 6-8 miles on a Sunday morning takes, as far as planning ahead is concerned. And we took off.

And I realized pretty quickly that we were the same pace--if anything, she was a little faster and was pushing me. But not too fast--we still had plenty of time to talk and laugh and vent and share all kinds of stories. We felt good and decided to go to my 8 mile turnaround--me with my OCD Garmin telling us our pace and distance, and she who just ran for fun and fitness and didn't even like to use a watch. But I could tell she was quite competitive, too--a former three-sport athlete kind of is, even if they don't wear a watch. And it was perfect.

The last half a mile she smiled and said, "Wanna pick it up?" so we did. FAST. She ran ahead of me, and I clung on for dear life. And it reminded me of all the 5Ks I did with my friend, Canada Jenn--she was almost always a few steps ahead of me, encouraging me to run with her, and pushing me to be faster and better. I hung on as we did around a 7-minute mile for that last half mile, and finally we got to my house.

We were done.

And it was the fastest 8 miles I've ran in a while. And it felt just like I had been out to dinner with an old friend, catching up about life.

We walked back to her house as a cooldown, and I could see my house through the now-nearly-bare trees one street away. We both agreed to definitely do this again.

Nothing will ever take the place of my first running soulmate. She remains a dear friend, a huge influence upon my running, and an inspiration to me as a mother.

But I think I might have just had my first run with my next running soulmate.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger

Just popping in to give a little Colbert-style "Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger" update.


The Gap's RIDICULOUS vanity sizing. I mean, I'm not gonna argue or anything, but if you're looking for an ego boost, I suggest you try on their "Long and Lean" jeans. I am a usual size 6 or an 8 if it runs a little smaller...but yesterday I bought my first pair of size 4s IN MY ENTIRE LIFETIME. And, let me tell you, I am NOT a size 4. So, Gap--I applaud your ridiculous marketing strategy, and will just disregard that these jeans would be a 12 if it was 1970.


DBQs. Can someone please invent a machine to grade these things? I am on hour SIX and am still not done. About one more hour to go. DBQs, I wag my finger at you.


P90X. I've definitely changed body composition over the past month that I've been doing this, and the scale finally budged a bit. I am now looking at about 5 pounds to go...57 down. I'm hoping to hit it by the New Year, and then ramp up the mileage again.


Tony Horton. YOU ARE THE MOST ANNOYING INDIVIDUAL EVER. Please stop talking.


Cleveland weather in November. Not every year, but just in 2010. Took the kids in the double jogger yet again, and it's just been pretty freaking awesome out lately.


Pork chops. You are never as good as I think you're going to be. Shame on you.


My teammates. JP is now the THIRD Evotri member to qualify for the Big Show in Kona. I am not sure how I'm allowed to be on this team or why they still talk to me, as I am most assuredly not nearly as cool as these tri machines. These people are awesome, and I'm just so happy to be along for the ride. They all inspire me in unique ways. Looking forward to our next team race in July fo' sho'.

That's all for now...looking forward to a trail run this weekend!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Mixing it up.


Is this thing still on?

Been a while since I've been able to write here. Many reasons for that. Some I can't really get into. Others involve me being in the land of working-full-time-while-raising-two-little-bugs-and-trying-to-have-some-semblance-of-normalcy.

I promise I haven't been slacking. No, no, no. I've been mixing it up.

I remember back at Miami my two best guy friends in the world lived a dorm away from me freshman year. During finals week, we were all starting to lose our minds. We were studying and just getting crazy, and my buddy Matt started drawing all over his face with a highlighter, all Miss-Lippy-glue-scene from Billy Madison. And he looked at my buddy Jon and just said, "Jon, why am I doing this?" as he drew lines on his face with a yellow highlighter.

After Rev3, I felt like I had highlighter all over my face. See, I was kind of DONESTICKAFORKINMEFORREALZDONE after Rev3. It was a fabulous day, and I did everything I hoped for and more. But it drained me. Big time. And I knew it was time for a break, so I took one.

I'm starting--just starting--to get back in the place where I am getting excited to gear up for racing again. I have signed up for the Cleveland Marathon, and am excited to go for my super-stretch-goal there. I've got my eye on a spring half I am planning on killing. But one thing has made me kind of down.

Me = SOFT.

Clearly, the engine isn't the problem. A 16-minute PR in a 70.3 race 6 months post-bean is nothing to sneeze at, and I am very proud of it. However, I haven't been happy with the way I look. Things definitely have been MUCH harder this time around as far as getting the weight to come off. Now, granted, this time I gained more (*cough62poundscough*), and also had one at home to chase around. We've also had some pretty serious stressers the past 2 months around these parts, too. I know all of that has played a role. I can wear all my clothes, which is good. But I just haven't been happy with the way I look and I know that unless I make some changes it's just going to get worse as time passes here--I ain't no spring chicken anymore. Not to mention, it isn't going to help me in my May Quest.

(And believe me--I need all the help I can get and every millisecond on that course I can steal.)

So, for the first time since high school, really, I am getting serious about weight training. I've officially drank the P90X Kool-Aid, and let me say it IS DELICIOUS. That Tony dude is super annoying, but holy crap, does he make me work. I'm only in Week 3 and I'm not only seeing some serious progress, but results. Of course, when you pretty much COLLAPSE throughout the entire first workout, there's really only one direction you can go, right?

The plan is for me to do P90X, drop the remaining 7 pounds that are MAKING ME CRAZY, and hit January ready to go and build up the miles. I'm still swimbikerunning a bit (well, maybe just bikerun since that whole "no pool in my basement" issue is kinda tough) but it's more maintenance mode for now. I've been doing pretty well eating cleanly and have cut out most white stuff. If only I didn't have a sweet tooth, though...sigh. But I'm getting there. I feel so much healthier when I eat clean stuff, and I think it really affects my energy level.

I've also been getting up at 5am to work out almost every day. I thought it would suck. It kind of does, for about 2 minutes. But see, getting up at 5 to work out is almost like adding another hour to the day. No one is up; no one needs anything. It's just me. This was nice before the Bug and Bean were around, but it's absolutely vital now. Working full-time is what I'm destined to do, but after school I absolutely have NO desire to do anything but be with my kiddies. So, this way, I can do just that but still kick my butt. Everybody wins.

And what have we been doing? Here's a little explanation...

And I also got to do this, but it's a whole 'nuther story.

Anyways. That's about all from the crazyland over here. I'm hoping to post a bit more regularly now that things are starting to settle a bit! And I'll keep you posted on my quest to not be mushy. Boy am I glad no one can see me when I'm doing these workouts. I would be pretty entertaining, though...that's fo' sho'!

Happy Training to all!

Monday, October 11, 2010


So, starting off the school year with six absolutely insane weekends of busy-ness has been rough.

Four of the past six weekends, I've been out of town at least one night.

Three of those, I've been out of the state.

All of this has left me quite overwhelmed, frazzled, and burned out, to say the least.

Now, it's all been good things, so I hate to complain. Poor me--I have lots of good things I have to do. Waaaa. It's just that I struggled the last time I went back to work, and I knew this might be rough. Just going back might be rough. And then add in there that I won't be home to be with my two little ones, nor have time to do any of the work that I need to do just to survive the workday...well, that's been very hard.

Really, really hard.

Major respect out there to single moms. I flat out do NOT know how you do it. And remain sane. If Matt wasn't here, I'm pretty sure I would have lost my marbles by now.

This morning, while trying to pick up the pieces from everything I dropped the past week (or, who am I kidding, really the past SIX) I stopped and just put my head on my desk for a minute. Because, wow. I had no idea how I'd get through the work day in one piece. And I sure didn't know how I'd have time to eat anything, or grade anything, or plan anything for the rest of the week.

And I knew when I went home, it wouldn't get done until after the kids went to bed. Because I missed them so much this weekend (and, really, the past SIX). And, I'm sorry essays and DBQs, but you just won't come before them. EVER.

And then I also accepted the fact that I would probably not be able to do anything after they went to bed, because I was still trying to get some sleep (since I'm a freak and NEVER sleep well in a hotel--I mean, EVER) since I hadn't slept more than 4 hours a night the past two weekends.

And I just wanted to keep my head there for a minute. Just a few minutes.

How am I going to do all this? Until June?

I've had some pretty rough patches here thinking about my weight, too. I realize that I'm being unrealistic and it hasn't even been eight months yet. But this time it's coming off much slower, and I have more to lose. And it's starting to really, REALLY get to me.

Yet I don't even have time to grade. Or eat lunch. Or go for a run.

Agh. Head on desk. Keep it there for just another minute.

Then, I figured I'd better get my head off my desk and go check my mailbox, since I didn't even get to do that before I left on Friday. So I headed down, reached in, and found some more stuff to grade and a pink Warm Fuzzy paper that the kids can write to each other. I wondered who it was supposed to go to, and, uh oh, was I supposed to pass this out last period? But then I saw it had my name on it.

So I opened it up. From one of my former students, who I had for two years. An extremely talented girl who happens to be an amazing speed skater and has her eyes on the Olympics someday. And this is exactly what it said:

To: MRS. ZIEMNIK (written in all different colors)

First of all, thank you so so much for putting up with me for two years. I can honestly say you're one of the greatest if not the best teacher I've ever had. Though AP nearly killed me last year :) I was always looking forward to your class. I remember almost daily I would walk into your class dreading what was coming after. (Because I had you 7th period both years, I had skating or long endurance runs after) But I was always drawn to your Ironman number and it hit me one day: you are a mom, pregnant (at the time!), a teacher, AND a triathalete. And perhaps I am wrong, but you always seemed so put together and prepared. It made me feel guilty, as I have so little on my plate compared to you, but it inspires me much more. You are 10x the athlete I am now, but I hope to one day have the same dedication and determination as you.


ps--I basically managed to make this both sappy and weird haha sorry :)

And I stood there in the main office, with my pile of ungraded Chapter 4 questions from last week and the pink warm fuzzy in my hand, and a lump in my throat and tears welling up in my eyes.

And I remembered how lucky I am to do this every day, as much as it challenges me, and despite the fact that the past six weeks have been the hardest I've had in a while. Every once in a while, I get to hear something like that, and it feels like a burst of energy that will carry me through the next ten school years. And I think that triathlon is the same, too--challenging, humbling, and overwhelming at times, but so, so worth it if you stick it out to that finish line.

Sometimes you just have to put your head on your desk for a minute. But then you pick it back up and get the red pen out, and start slowly but surely working your way through the pile. And remember that the whole reason you're there is to make someone else a little better and a little stronger, and in the process, you look at yourself and realize you are, too.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


So there's a bit of a loophole.

Now, I could be way off here, so correct me if I'm wrong. But I just figured out that if you run a marathon after September 20th, you can qualify to run Boston for the next two years. And in the next two years, if I turn 35, then my qualifying time goes down.

I'll be 35 in 2012. (Gulp. How did that happen?)

So, when I run Cleveland, my qualifying time is a 3:40. But, if I run an October race, my qualifying time is raised to 3:45, even though I'm not 35 in October 2011.

Five months for five minutes.

That's a BIG five minutes.

You know I'm going to go for it in May--I mean, that is without question. But I feel like a 3:45 five months later is sort of cheating...even though it's not. I mean, that's the policy, and that means it's totally legit. But I still feel like I should be able to do the 3:40 if I'm NOT 35. You know?

Whatever. I'm gonna go for it anyway. Go hard or go home, right? It's going to hurt either way, and I'm not patient enough to wait until October.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

No Rain

This morning, I couldn't sleep--the rain woke me up, so I decided just to roll with it. It was too late for me to do a trainer workout, so I hopped on the 'mill for a few early miles. I did a few pickups in there, and it felt good to get the legs moving fast again. I'm excited to get these legs moving fast. Often.

Got everyone somewhat dressed (Jackson was still in his PJs, but had brushed his teeth and eaten breakfast, so I'm calling that a victory nonetheless) and fed and out the door by 7:05am, which is always quite the challenge. With the rain, I didn't even try to straighten my sense wasting THAT time. Time is precious to me right now, and it's been quite an insane past month...all good things, but still a little stressful at times. It will settle down in a few more weeks, but for now I need to work out early and plan on working while I eat lunch and trying to stay as focused and organized as possible.

The kids were all pretty subdued today, as they usually are when it rains like this. All day long. A steady, steady rain...not a downpour, but definitely the kind that you know isn't a passing shower. They complained and said how rotten the weather was. Some were a little sleepy, but can you blame them? 54 and rainy just makes you want to put on your PJ pants and have a nice bowl of soup.

(Or, in my case, attempt 140.6 miles.)

All I can say is that my life is pretty plain
I like watching the puddles gather rain

I drove home and let the iPod do its magic. It must have sensed my frazzled state of mind, and it didn't disappoint with a nice mellow selection. And I noticed the temperature on my dashboard--54 degrees.

54 degrees on a September afternoon. No matter when it occurs, I always pause just a bit when it's 54 degrees and rainy. Because no matter what, I am instantly transported back to that September day. The one that was 54 and rainy. All day.

I just want some one to say to me , oh oh oh oh,
I'll always be there when you wake
you know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I'll have it made

This song came on next--the song that I would have as Track 1 on the soundtrack to my senior year of high school. I smiled a bit, alone in my car. No rain. Rain all day. Water seems to follow me wherever I go, and it's always sort of been like that.

but it's a great escape...escape....escape

It's been four years since I had my Iron summer. I think everyone finds something unique in Ironman, and for me it was the realization that I was a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. I've carried that with me since, and it's helped me through some difficult things. I trust that it will help me achieve my goal in May, but if I don't, I know that the lessons I learned on that cold, rainy, September day will help me dust off, lace up, and do it all over again.

That day was far from perfect, and it was far from what I hoped to accomplish on paper. But that day was still magical nonetheless. And every time there's a day that's 54 and rainy--not the scattered shower rain, but the kind that followed me on the hills in Verona, on the streets in Madison...that collected on my garbage bag as I took step after step and slowly moved toward the finish line--I am reminded.

I am reminded of what is inside of me, and to some extent, what's inside of all of us.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

We Interrupt this Blog for some sillygirlystuff.

Good news!

Well, really, good news to me, but it's not really that exciting to anyone else probably. But I'm sharing it anyway. Yeah.

I am in two back to back weddings here very very soon, for two of my besties ever: TriShannon and my Nutter Friend Jacks. I was a LEEEEETLE worried about the dress situation. I decided I'd try them both on today and if they didn't fit I would (gulp) suck it up, admit defeat, and get them altered.

But they fit! They fit! Theyfittheyfittheyfit! Yippeeeeeekay-yay!

Now, my toenails, however, are another story entirely. Um...sorry girls. I am not sure what on earth I'm gonna do about that. Maybe paint the bare toe? Hope no one is looking? Wear fuzzy pink slippers a la Snooki?

Yeah. I gotta figure that one out. But they are both athletes, and I'm sure they'll understand. ;)

Had an ouchy run yesterday (must have been too early--OUCH), a fabulous 50 minute little spin this morning on the lakeshore, and looking forward to laying out the plan for May here soon. Talked to Coach Emily already and I'm excited about what's to come.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying a bit of chillaxin'. Happy training to all!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Race Report: Rev3 Cedar Point 70.3

9/15 UPDATE: Just checked the results again, and my swim and finish times are different, in a good way! Not sure what happened, as that's what I get for racing without a watch. But I'll take it. So now it's a 16 minute PR...even better. :)


The short: I PR'd, by 16 minutes. I'm still in awe, I love my family more than anything, and my teammates are the biggest rockstars EVER.

If you want to keep reading, here's the long version. You know I like to ramble. Don't say I didn't warn you. ;)


At our team meeting, a paper was sent around. For us to put our estimated times. It was just so Wil and Steve could know when we'd exit, so they could get pictures. But I really didn't want to write my times on there.

I still felt like I didn't really deserve to be there.

What business did I have being there? Who was I kidding? I still have a backpack on. It's smaller, but it's there. I'm not sure how much, because I was afraid to know before the race. Ignorance is bliss, right? Regardless, I hadn't run more than 9 miles in training. Most of my rides were no longer than 50 miles. I was lucky to get to the pool twice a week, and lately, it's been more like once.

I didn't feel like I was really in half-ironman shape. I know I trained a lot, especially given the circumstance. But I didn't train as much as I would have before.

What do I write on this paper?

That I might crash and burn? Admitting that was just something I didn't want to do.

My best race ever would have been Steelhead, but since it was turned into a du and the bike was a little short, I really don't know. So I guess my best was officially New Orleans, which really didn't feel that great. And it was a 6:00.42. I know that, because I remember cursing those 42 stupid seconds.

Go hard or go home. Maybe if I wrote it on the paper, it would come true.

Swim: 40 minutes. Because I always seem to come out around then, even though I should be a good deal faster. Most of that is my fault. I know I can just wing it, and I sort of do. And I just pulled my wetsuit out of the garage for the first time since....wait for it...NEW ORLEANS 70.3 IN APRIL OF 2009. I didn't even know if it would fit me. That might be the dumbest thing ever.

Ride: 2:50. That was pie in the sky, since Steelhead was a 2:45 but it was a little short. The wind would be bad tomorrow, and I knew that was aiming high.

Run: 2:00. I've never gone 2 in a half ironman. I think the best I have is 2:03. I felt REALLY dumb writing that, given I hadn't ran more than 9 miles. Who was I kidding?

Factoring in what I knew would be super slow transitions, and I was writing down that I hoped to go 5:35.

I then came to my senses and realized how stupid that was, so I put a big question mark and wrote "NO CLUE." Because I felt like an idiot saying I would be attempting to do anything UNDER 6 hours. But I was afraid to admit that I couldn't. I know what I'm capable of, if I was at race weight and had put in the miles, and it would be lower than that. But I'm not, and I hadn't. So even 5:35 seemed absolutely ridiculous. Like I was suggesting that I could turn Chuck Norris into a ham sandwich by hopping on one foot and casting a magic spell. That kind of ridiculous.

I passed the paper on.

That night on the way to an awesome dinner with my teammates, I decided I was going to do what it took to come as close to those numbers as I could. I felt like I really owed it to Matt and my Mom, for all the help they gave me all summer so I could train. I felt like I owed it to myself, to see just what the head and the heart are capable of. Because, I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm no natural at this. Some can get by on a lot less training that I can and do MUCH better. But I almost cracked a few times training for this race. It was a little more than I could chew six months after having a second baby. So I needed to make all that worth it.

This would be my fifth time at this distance. I just had to come under 6. Even if it was just by a minute, I needed to. I had to make this one count, and I had to go out on a good note. I hoped that my imperfections like my backpack and my lack of as much training as I had hoped to do would be overshadowed by the fact that I just knew I could. That's really all I had going for me. That, and knowing my family was going to be at the finish line.

This race was a true test of my head.


I decided I was sick of coming out midpack or worse at the sport I've been doing since I was 2 years old. For crying out LOUD. Seriously. I knew I wasn't in any shape to do what on paper I should do, but I just really was due for a good swim.

I zigzagged all over the place.

I'm pretty sure I swam more than I needed to, since the pack was often WAY to my left. But I just kept thinking, "formformform, pull, reach, PULL" as much as I could. I didn't even have a watch on. I totally swam blind. I managed to catch a bunch of the guys in the wave ahead of me, so I knew at least I wasn't having too bad of a day. I felt like it was a decent swim. Hit the beach and saw Iron Sis Wil, which was super awesome. I got to T1 and the jaw dropped in my brain--there was only one bike gone in my rack. Considering the trek to T1 took a little bit, I figured I must have finally come in under 40 at least. Still nowhere near my best time, but better. A good note to leave on.

Get this: I can't make this up, folks...Time including the run up to the beach?

39:07. Under 40--yahoo! I must have come out around 38. Still not my best, but I did come out 13/39 in AG. I'll take that, for sure.

TI: I'm pretty sure I could have knit a lovely sweater for you in the time I spent in T1, and T2 for that matter. Over FIVE MINUTES. I know. Stupid. But I am so rusty on those--I just never really got time to practice, and getting the wetsuit that I hadn't put on in a year and a half while also putting on arm warmers I hadn't tried to put on wet since Ironman Wisconsin in 2006 was a comedy of errors.


Of all three disciplines, this is the one I felt the best about. I had a great last long ride that really built up my confidence. I knew I still was carrying around my backpack, but I also knew this race didn't have really any hills to write home about. Hopefully, the backpack wouldn't hold me back too much.

I passed quite a few people, and I noticed a few were in my age group. That always feels good. My heart rate was SUPER high, even by my standards. I tried to just spin easy on the causeway and get it down while getting in some nutrition. I was trying to hold my watts right between 140-150 or so. I knew the wind would make things tough, but I knew the tailwinds would hopefully give me a little back.

True story: somewhere in the middle of the ride a girl pulled up next to me and said, "Have you ever peed on the bike?" WHY YES! I replied. I have! Once, and only once. "Is it faster?" DEFINITELY, I said. I then gave her a few pointers on how to successfully urinate all over yourself while riding. She sincerely thanked me, and we parted ways.

I felt really, really good for most of this ride. There was a part in the middle where I doubted things a bit, but looking back it was just the wind messing with my head. I knew I could still call this a good ride--not my best, but given the wind I was happy to see what the Joule said when I got back to T2.

Here's the Joule's stats:
Ride time: 2:57.43
Miles: 56.32
KJ 1477
Temp: 68 F
Avg Watts: 138
Avg Cadence: 97
Avg MPH: 19.0
Avg HR: 169 (that's actually low for me--I have the heart of a hummingbird)
Max Watts: 511
Normalized Power: 148 (Very happy with that--basically hit my goal dead-on!)

The race results say basically the same thing, except that I'm an idiot and can't figure out their splits. One thing is for certain, though--I moved up to 8th in my age group. BOO-yah.

T2: Seriously. What is wrong with me? I read War and Peace, baked a batch of cookies from scratch, and then apparently decided to start running.


So I just got my Garmin out now to look at the splits. I really hadn't even done that yet! That's not like me. And I kinda LIKE it. :)

Anyway, I started running and felt surprisingly good. I've been running well lately, even if it hasn't been that many miles. I knew I'd be good for 8 miles for sure. After that, was going to hurt. I knew that, and I accepted that.

Right about a half mile into it, I met my running buddy for the day, Randy. Randy is pretty much awesome. We realized we had the same goals--we were both going to try to hold 9s. So we set off on our quest for 9 minute miles.

Everything was going fine for a while--a little too fast at first, even though I felt fabulous. I knew that might hit me later, and it did.

Randy and I talked about our kids (he has twin two year old boys! I gave him BIG UPS. That's gotta be busy!), jobs, the wind, and when I couldn't talk anymore I apologized and told him that I'd reply with one-word answers. We zig-zagged all around Sandusky. Around mile 5, I saw the Jackson Street Pier, which was a nice little boost. I thought of Jackson at the finish line--they were probably there by now.

It started to get hard around mile 8 or so. The wind sucked the life outta me at parts, but then we'd turn a corner and get a little relief. At this point, we were on pace for a 1:57 or so, and I was in a bit of shock. However, I could literally feel my legs filling up with lactic acid...they were getting SO heavy. I kept telling Randy to leave me, but he wouldn't. He kept me from walking, and I'm really thankful for that. Once I started walking, I was sure I wouldn't stop. I had done the math in my head. I didn't know by how much, but I knew I'd probably come in under 6. That kept me shuffling a little faster than I would have otherwise.

The last 5K was a full-out suffer fest for me. Looking back at my splits, what felt like 12 minute miles were really high 9s/low 10s. It could have been worse, I know, but it really, really hurt. I was ready for it, though. The Causeway was beautiful, but windy as hell, and I realized that I was about to run out of steam. The only thing keeping me moving at that point was knowing Jackson, Emery, and Matt would be at the finish line. That was IT.

In the parking lot of Cedar Point, the wind was INSANE and I might have said loudly, "F THIS WIND!" except not just with a letter. And then I apologized. Because poor Randy didn't even know me and I really shouldn't be dropping F bombs like that. But he didn't seem to care.

I told him to GO and finish strong, and we thanked each other. Randy took off--he had a great kick and totally could have left me, but didn't because he's just a nice guy. Reason #246,831 why I love this sport: good people rock. I eventually thanked him after the race about a million times.

But for now, I headed to the chute.

Christine Lynch of New York, NY, although I don't know you, I have to say, you had a smokin' fast run according to the results, and I give you mad props. However, despite that, any other day and I would have blasted down that chute, and you, my unknown friend, would have eaten my dust. You ran by me in the chute and I let you go, so you technically finished 3 seconds ahead of me. I would have been 8th out of 39 in AG, and 35th out of 267 overall. But I let you go...because of this:

All photo credits to my amazing Mom--thanks so much for being there, Mom!
Nothing can really replace my first Ironman. I won't say that this means more than that. But I will say that this race means just as much. This race showed me just how far your heart can take you. I had no business finishing in the time I did, but somehow, I did. 7 months after Jackson, I ran a half marathon and that was difficult enough. When I crossed this line with Jackson's hand in mine, I truly felt like I could do anything. They make it all worthwhile...all three of them make it all possible.

Total time: 5:44.38 (16 minute PR)
9/39 AG
36/267 Total Females

Somehow, I've gone from barely faster than 7 hours at this distance and decisively back of the pack, to top fourth of my age group and even remotely in the same breath as top 10% of females. And to do this, on this date, given these circumstances, has left me utterly amazed and so happy. I know I can walk away now from this distance for a bit...I still have a lot to learn, for sure, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that since crossing the line yesterday I have wondered what I could do next season with another 15 or so pounds down. But I know that to do this distance the way I want to do it would require time that I just don't want to give right now. I think a year away might do me some good. And I feel comfortable walking away now.

My team is awesome, but that's another post. I am so lucky to be in this group of amazing people, and I can't wait to race with them next summer at our team race. Having them there this weekend was really the icing on the cake.

Overall, this race was quite the experience. I think I'll remember this one forever and ever and ever. And I have decided that if I can take 15 minutes off my 70.3 PR six months after having Emery, then there's no doubt in my mind I can take 18 minutes off my marathon PR next year. So you heard it here first: I will be qualifying for Boston--either in the spring or in the fall.

Thanks to all who have managed to read this far, and to those who have encouraged me through all of this: especially my family, my superawesome Coach Emily, and my teammates. It was a bit of a crazy ride, but somehow, I made it.

And I couldn't be happier.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flipped the Switch

I'm ready.

I'm officially in taper now--sitting here all sweaty after my long run but have to get this down before I forget.

Yesterday I had a long ride--Coach Emily wanted 50-60 miles. I was dreading it, to say the least. I tried calling everyone I could think of who lived near me to ride with me, but they were either doing Ironman Kentucky (Go Martha and Iron Johnny, GO!), coaching cross country (that's my awesome buddy Laura, who was JUST awarded TEACHER OF THE YEAR in my district--very deserved!) or in New Orleans for a bachelor party (Lapo, my buddy from a few weeks ago). All good excuses, but nonetheless, I was bummed.

I decided that since this would be the last Saturday for a while to relax and make pancakes, I wanted to do that. So I did. We all ate and it was delicious.

I finally got to push off around 1:45pm. Not really ideal on paper--it wasn't early, and I was alone. But you know what? It would be good mental practice, I thought. Riding in groups goes fast. This was a pretty structured workout with some time at goal half ironman wattage. I have to do this alone in 2 weeks, so why not practice now?

I did give myself permission to quit at 2 hours if I needed to. The kids were napping so I wouldn't miss too much time with them, but naps have been shorter lately so I felt like I should get home before dinner for sure.

I started off, a little bitter that I was alone and it was a beautiful day and I could have been at the beach or pool (wahhh wahh wahhh.), and headed west to Lorain. And I was flying. I was convinced there was a tailwind, but from what the flags showed, if there was one, it was minimal at best. I was just clipping along, and doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well.

I represent Queens, she was raised out in Brooklyn.

Got to Lorain and headed back. And was STILL flying. I was hitting the wattage I needed to and felt really good about it.

Made it back to the center of my town and refueled at the pool. I took a Gu Roctane (AMAZING stuff. I have been converted.) and made some more nuun. Vowed to take my family to the pool when I got home, and decided to keep on going.

Because I was kicking so much ass.

Yeah, I said it. KICKING ASS.

Headed east some more into Lakewood, and turned around. Decided I wouldn't go the full 3 hours, but I would hit a nice even 50 miles and call that a compromise. Passed my street and went back west into Avon Lake.

Still kicked ass.

Made it home in 2:41 for an average of 18.7 mph EASILY. Watts were at 135 including my pushes and recovery. And that, folks, was the best ride I've had since Steelhead.

All alone.

I am so ready for this. At the very least, I should have a decent ride.

Today, I had my last long run. I told Coach E that in my dream world, a perfect race day pace would be somewhere around 9 minute miles. So, I was to do this:

30 minute warmup
20 minutes at 9:00
5 minutes easy
10 minutes a little faster than 9:00
15 minutes easy

Nailed it. Finished with a little over 8.5 miles.

I wasn't sure if I should do this race, and truth be told, I didn't even sign up until about 2 weeks ago. I know now that I can do it, and do it well. I don't know if it will be enough for a PR, or if it's really realistic to even think of a PR right now, as I'm still up about 8 pounds (but 52 down! yay!). But I know now that I will show up--body and mind. I've successfully made the transition from dreading this to looking forward to it. I still don't think I'd recommend this to myself version December 2009, but what's done is done. And I'm going to make the best of it. And kick some ass.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"Six Month Maternity Leave"

I'm ending what I refer to as my "six month maternity leave" tomorrow. It's bittersweet...on one hand, I already miss my kids dearly. But on the other hand, I am excited to get back into the classroom and start off my 12th year of teaching.


Seriously. Sometimes I still feel about 12. So bizarre. I know I was a baby when I started doing this and all,

Last night was a challenging night. Bug was being almost-three again, and by that I mean arguing about everything and throwing fits every 2.5 minutes. I finally got Bean down and Matt went out to do a workout, so I tried to get Bug down. He threw fits repeatedly, and intentionally woke Bean up. Then I had two screaming kids. It was rough. I have to admit I cried a bit. How was I going to get everyone out of the house by 7:05am every morning--teeth brushed, acceptable clothing, lunches packed?

Matt came in to help out. I put Bean back to bed, and he worked his "other parent magic" (you know--whatever parent is not there during a meltdown magically becomes the one that the 2 1/2 year old wants, and then is totally happy) and I heard him singing "Five Little Monkeys" within 3 minutes. Then Matt came in while I held Bean and said to come into Bug's room.

Matt asked Bug, "Why did you wake your sister up?"

Bug replied, "Because I love Emery and want to give her hugs and kisses. That's what you do when you love someone."

That is a direct quote. I heard it with my own two ears.

And then I promptly cried.


I've been working quite a bit on my head game the past 2 weeks. It's no secret that I had second thoughts about the sanity of doing this half ironman 6 months postpartum. I've laid that out here.

What I have decided is that I need to work on my insane worry issues. I flat out worry too much, and that's really dumb and wastes time and energy. Life is too short. I have had some issues with anxiety that have seriously affected my sleeping from time to time, as long as I can remember. I remember being maybe 11 or 12 and my mom telling me to "turn my clock around" so I couldn't see what time it was, since I would worry that it was so late. Seriously. This goes back quite a way.

(I still turn my clock around every night, too)

So I've decided I'm going to really, seriously work on mindfulness. I have been doing some reading on the subject and some practices. Lots of journaling. It's been good--I've been sleeping better and I have been feeling more relaxed. We'll see how the first week of school goes--it's notoriously an insane week where I sleep very little. I'm going to really try to simplify things in my mind and cut out lots of unnecessary stuff. Here's what I'm working on:

--really enjoying breakfast and lunch. Usually, I wolf it down standing up while checking facebook and making bottles and picking up trucks and listening to NPR. The past three days, I have forced myself to sit in silence, not read anything, and think about my meal. Do you know how hard that is?!?! Seriously. I could barely do it the first day. But I'm getting better at it. I am notorious for working through lunch and grading while I eat. While I accept that I might still need to do that from time to time, I'm going to try and eat outside and/or take a short, 10 minute walk while it's nice out during my lunch break.

--going off the grid. No more facebook. No worthless news sites that are all full of spin anyway. No gossip sites or E! shows. At first, I went through a little withdrawal. I'm used to checking facebook all freaking day. But after 2 days? Wonderful. Hearing everyone's banter can be actually quite tiring and mentally cluttering. I will still keep my account so people can get ahold of me, but I'm going to cut the cord of checking updates all the time, and I'm going to only update with pictures or big stuff for my family and friends to see. I am going to focus on my own updates.

--I decided to keep writing here, though. This has always been a bit of an outlet for me. I enjoy writing. I may check blogs less for a bit or narrow them down while I'm working on clearing out my internal clutter, but it will be nice to have this space to write.

--Focus on being home at home, and at work at work. That will be hard to do. Teaching is the kind of job you often bring home by nature--DBQs don't grade themselves. But I'm going to really try hard to use my time at work more productively, and leave work at work.

--Enjoying my workouts, and thinking of them as a celebration and not a chore. I'm getting better at this. Instead of rushing through a workout so I can do what's next on whatever insane list I've made, I'm going to really focus on each workout and let it remind me that I'm lucky to be able to do this. This, as anyone with very young kids knows, will be easier said than done.

I've still got my eye on the Cleveland Marathon next May. I was thinking that I would do the Fall Classic Half Marathon in November and try to get my time down as close to 1:40 as I can get, but I'm going to see how the first few weeks of school go and make my decision from there. I have a very busy few weekends--mostly fun stuff--bachelorette party out of town next weekend for my awesome buddy Jacks, Bug's 3rd birthday party (agh!) and then I'm in two weddings (both out of town, and back to back weekends!) for two of my best friends--Jacks and the uber-awesome TriShannon. So, we'll see how things go here.

I'm getting more excited to race in 2 weeks. I think I've turned my head around a bit. I'm thinking about all the friends that will be there--first on my team (can't wait to see them!) and in the Cleveland area. As Coach Emily says, "it might not be your personal best, or it might be...but just have fun." So that's what I'm going to do.

I'm trying to remember that my best marathon came on my lowest mileage. I might not have been able to swim or run as many yards or miles as I would have liked to, but my body is continuing to show me that I'm capable of pulling things off.

And honestly? I'm looking forward to that finish line more than anything--possibly even more than my Ironman. This one will really mean a lot to me, and I can have my two kids with me and Matt will be there too. Because, to quote my almost-three-year-old, I love them and I want to give them hugs and kisses at the finish line.

Because that's what you do when you love someone.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What tha....?

In classic style, my body is laughing it's butt off at me right now.

Saturday, I did a 3 hour solo ride--about 1 hour inside since it was so early and I'm a chicken when it's dark, and 2 hours on my own. Managed an easy 18.4 mph while keeping the watts at a nice and easy 127. Then did a 15 minute run, which, due to some poor nutrition on the bike (not enough calories!) SUCKED, but lesson learned, and I got it done. Then in the afternoon, did a 45 minute strength session and killed it.

Yesterday, had the day off. Spent it with my family and then relived a bit of my flannel-wearing grunge days by heading to the Stone Temple Pilots concert with Matt (which was really good!). Realized two things: 1) we were the youngest people there...huh? and 2) I really wanted to throw a sandwich at Scott Weiland (and hey! he's a fellow Clevelander, too!), but didn't out of fear that he'd just waste it by smoking and/or snorting it. I'm pretty sure I couldn't fit into that guys jeans.

Fast forward to today, and I just did my first run longer than 6 miles or so. The plan was 1:15-1:25 at a nice easy pace, and I did 1:14, only because HOLY CRAP my easy pace was fast today. And...drum roll...PAIN FREE! 8 miles, suckas. 8 miles with the last two at 9:04 and 9:02.

So even though my head hasn't been in the game, the body is. I'm working really hard on getting the head caught up, and I've made some progress there.

One foot in front of the other, and one day at a time. That's how I'm gonna get through this race and the next 20 somewhat insane days, as what I like to call my 6-month maternity leave comes to a close on Friday.

Friday, August 20, 2010


I've done too much.

I sort of knew it when I was getting into it, and I wish I could say this was the first time I've done it, but it's not. It's most definitely not.

I got in over my head. Doing this 70.3 six months after having my second baby, and both of them under 3, was too much. But it's almost done now. Last time I tried a half marathon at about 7 1/2 months afterward, and I enjoyed it a lot. But this time I've felt frazzled, overextended, and like my heart isn't really into it and that I'm letting people down. Some of that's just all in my head, and I know it.

I'm trying to refocus my frustration with myself into some positive energy. That, I think, will be the most important thing I can do from here until race day. My body keeps showing me I'm capable of much more than I think.

Today was my last day to take Bug to the pool, so I did. And I just had so much fun watching him play and playing with him, instead of swimming laps like I probably should have. But I just couldn't do that today.

Got home, put everyone to bed, and hit the treadmill for a little tempo run. Did 15 minutes descending from 8:34 down to 7:47 pace. I felt much better after that.

I think a day at the pool followed by a good, hard (pain-free!) run was some gatorade for the soul.

One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, and, most importantly, learning from my mistakes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

And not a second too soon...

I think my running mojo's back.

Had three great runs this week, and did 6.5 miles today almost pain-free. Last half mile was at an 8:20/pace. Boo-yah!

Rest day tomorrow. I definitely need it!

Starting to think I might have a November half marathon in me after all.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

What is it worth?

I've been thinking a lot about how my racing will be shifting soon, and I'll be saying goodbye to long course triathlon for a while. I am completely, 100% ready to do this. This is all supposed to be fun, and quite frankly, it hasn't been as fun as I had hoped. However, I'm fully ready to admit that this could be because I had a baby 5 1/2 months ago, and am still attempting to get used to the chaos that is our new normal with two kids under three years old, not to mention still try to get into racing shape. I'm happy to report that I am officially, as of yesterday, 50 pounds down even. 10 more to go until I'm where I started, and then hopefully another five by next May.

Every time I ride, run, or swim, I try to think about what it's worth to me. Sometimes it is a hard swim set or a set of intervals on my trainer that get me thinking. Yesterday it was 4.7 (almost pain-free!) miles on the trainer and today it was just shy of 60 miles with two good friends, my IMW training pal from '06, IronJohnny and my friend Martha who amazes me. She amazes me because she is going to do Ironman Kentucky in 2 weeks (and kill it, in my opinion) with twin daughters who are 2 years old.

Absolutley. Amazing.

Because I did Ironman with no kids at home, and that was hard enough for me. But twin two-year-olds? Unbelievable. As I am learning, training with a two year old is quite challenging. It involves getting up really, really, really early to squeeze in as much as you can before he gets up, then rushing home, and then before you can have any food or even change out of your nastiness and perhaps shower, kicking the soccer ball around for a while and then playing cars (while trying to sneak in some semblance of a recovery drink or food). Gone are the days where I could come home to an empty house and soak in an ice bath while drinking a recovery drink, and then lounge on the couch and let my legs relax. I'm lucky to be able to sit much at all before about 9pm at this point, and I love it. But it is quite tiring, and very different than me version 2006.

Which leads me to my next point: my husband is a saint. So is my Mom, who watches Jackson while I swim laps at the pool. Without them, I'd never ever ever make it to the start line of this race.

I'm looking at less than a month until Rev3, and I'm kind of up and down about it. On one hand, I am super excited to see my teammates and my CLE tri peeps. On the other hand, I'm trying to figure out how to both push myself a bit but be realistic. I'm on this see-saw daily (and it seems to switch back and forth every day) between deciding to kill this race and go out with a bang--leave it all on the course and try to PR. But then other days I am so exhausted and burned out and feeling guilty about training so much while Matt and my Mom watch my two monkeys. And I just want to get it over with.

That's no way to prepare yourself for a race.

I'm trying really hard to switch my mindset away from guilt and burnout to motivation and desire. I want to make this worth it. Worth all the early mornings, worth all the time that Matt and my Mom spent so I could train. Worth the time away from Bug and Bean.

It needs to be worth it.

I felt so good on my run yesterday and on the last third of my ride today. It was the me that wants this. I like that me better, anyway.

I know I'm done with 70.3s for a while after this race. I'm tired. I don't like 3.5 hour rides anymore. I need to balance what I'm juggling here, and to do things the way I want I need to back away and focus a little more. Some people can train and work full time and raise little ones and absolutely inspire and blow me away with it all, but right now I know in my heart I just can't do long course the way I want to do it.

My best.

My body is as ready as it is going to be. I know in my heart I am strong and I have made some really good progress since Emery was born in February. Now, I need to work on my head. I'm going to focus on positive thinking from here on out--no more of this, "I'm tired, I'm burned out, blah blah blah." Because I've done all the training. I've put in the time. It's (almost) over, and my body is ready.

I need to make this worth it. I need to say goodbye to this distance on a good note. I really believe in my heart that I can. My body has tried to show me repeatedly this summer that it is much stronger than I know.

So whatever happens on September 12th, know that I will leave everything out there. I have to, or I wouldn't feel right leaving the distance behind for a while. Because, as Pre said, "To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift."

Whatever happens, it will be worth it. All of it.

It has to be.

Monday, August 09, 2010

A triathlon race report? Why, yes.

I know, I know!

We haven't had one of these up here since last April!

Hey, it ain't all my fault. I got preggers and stuff. What can you do?

But how about the first of hopefully a long line of race reports to come....

The 2010 Greater Cleveland Triathlon

So, in case you haven't heard, I've been nursing a little teensy injury lately. Not enough to call a stress fracture (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU), but one that has really slowed down my running--not to mention my mileage. I basically took the last two weeks and just did run/walks with a little bit of straight running, but nothing more than 40 minutes. I had to bag the Huntington Triathlon (sniff, sniff). I originally signed up for this race back in December when I was all huge and pregnant because, hey! it sounds like a great idea!, and talked my buddy JenC into signing up for it, too. You can pretty much talk an 8 month pregnant chick into anything "next August." Wanna go skydiving in August? Bullfights on acid? Skinny skiing? OF COURSE! PLEASE! I'll do anything--JUST REMIND ME I WON'T BE IN THIS HUGE STATE FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.

(for those who aren't Caddyshack fans, those last two activities are nods to my husband...the biggest Caddyshack fan on earth)

So once I got the X-rays and the all clear that this wasn't a stress fracture, I first jumped for joy and screamed five times. Then, decided the smart thing to do would probably downgrade to the sprint triathlon. Even though I hate sprints, right? They're too short, right? They hurt a lot, right?

The thing is? I don't hate them. Methink I am falling in LURVE.

To tell you the truth, I am burning out big time on this long course stuff. I've been doing triathlons for nine years now next week (happy nine-year anniversary, self!) and have spent the last 6 seasons doing long course (minus the one season I was preggers with Bug). Rev3 will be my 5th half ironman, and to tell you the good honest truth, I think I'm just about over it. At this point in my life, the training is becoming a bit of a chore. I'm not looking forward to it. I'm sort of dreading it. And that's not good.

But a good ol' fashioned hammer fest? Pain in the lungs? Quads screaming that they can't possibly fire any harder--and then you tell them to HTFU and just DO IT or else? Now that is kind of fun. And I think I want more of that.

So I headed out to this race, full of negativity and a head full of doubts. The things in my head when I was standing on the beach went something like this:

You are worthless at this distance.
You can't do this.
You aren't fast.
You stink.

Seriously, I almost didn't recognize myself. I mean, I get nervous before races, but I don't think I had ever felt this negative before a race ever. Part of it was that I felt like I had backed out on my original commitment, and I felt guilty. Like I was cheating. But I knew that a 10K wasn't smart, so this was my only option.


Okay, first of all, I am an idiot. I was totally "that guy" at this race--the one that didn't check the course at all. In my head, I just ASSumed that it would be about a 400-500 yard swim. Because that's what most of the sprints I have done usually are. And you don't wear a wetsuit (if you're me) for a 400 yard swim, because that is just cheating. You suck it up and swim your 400 yards and don't waste extra time taking off the stupid wetsuit.

Except that everyone around me had a wetsuit on.

" long is this swim?" I asked some hard core guy.

"A half mile."


A half mile is still doable without a wetsuit, of course. But it was a little wavy--not choppy, just some rolling waves. But when your competition is wearing wetsuits, and you underestimate the swim distance by, oh, 50 PERCENT...that's just dumb.

Needless to say, not my best swim. Not awful--I came out in a close pack of my AG in the middle. My watch said 14:50 when I hit the beach, and the splits by the time I got to the top at T1 had me at 15:56. Boo. I should be swimming a half mile comfortably in 12-13 minutes or so.


Hopped on the bike and hoped for the best. Because, I am not a front-pack cyclist. I know I'm not the back of the pack like I was for the first 5-6 seasons or so I raced, but I accepted my role as slightly-better-than-mediocre cyclist and figured that was what today would be.

Except it wasn't.

I flew. Flew flew FLEW. Passed tons of people. Some in my age group, some not...lots of dudes, too. I tried to push hard, because sprints were supposed to hurt, right? In retrospect, I probably pushed TOO hard, but I was having too much fun and figured a little pain on the run would be worth it.

This was my first race on my Specialized Transition, and was amazing. A. MAZE. ING.

The numbers, according to the gospel that is Joule:

Ride Time: 37:43
Total miles: 12.85
Average mph: 20.4
Watts: 181
Average cadence: 101

I just checked the results. Here's what is blowing my mind:

I was the 3rd overall female cyclist (out of 45), behind only the top two females overall (finishing), and only by just over a minute


I was the 17th out of 133 cyclists total, including DUDES.


No seriously, WHAT?! Was that really me?

I think that I have to admit something.

I might be a halfway decent cyclist. I know, I know. I never thought I'd utter those words, either.


And now it hurts. I knew coming off the ride that I was most likely the 1st female in my age group. I had passed a few and knew that I passed two near the end, and they were most likely not too far behind me.

What is this....this feeling of being first off the bike? I know many of you do this all the time, but this is new to me. This feeling of being a hunted animal was totally new.

Or in my case, a wounded animal. I was hurting. But I was so freaking elated after that ride, I thought maybe, just maybe I could hold on. I knew that running no more than 4 consecutive miles the past 2 weeks (and honestly, barely running ANY miles total in those weeks--like maybe 7 or 8?!) was going to hurt. And if these two girls got me, I'd have NO answer.

It took about to the first mile marker for the first girl to get me. Awwwww pisser. I tried to hang, but I couldn't. Then I hit the turnaround, and saw second girl not too far behind me. I thought, hey, maybe I can hold her off.

HELLZ no. She must have been holding back, because she blew by me like I was standing STILL around 1.75. I kept her in my sights but knew I just didn't have enough in me. I managed to eek out a 25:20 5K, which, all things considered, is not too bad. But it wasn't good enough to win my age group.

Final time: 1:21.32
3rd AG/9 total (the other two ahead were within 1:15 of me. BOO my tired running. sigh)

The third overall female posted a 1:18, so to even be remotely close to that is a HUGE victory for me.

I saw 2nd place chick afterward, and told her congrats and that she had a great kick there in the middle. She said, "Well, I kept trying to catch you on the bike, but I just couldn't--you had a really strong ride!"

I thought, I did, huh?

I did.
I never get to say that.

I had a ton of fun hanging with all my triathlon buddies--SO many of them were volunteering and racing, and it was so good to see them all again! It's been a lonely, quite isolated summer training-wise and it was so fun to see everyone in one spot.

So after Rev3, I believe I am done with long tris. As in, stick a fork in me, I am DONE. Donedonedone for a while. I had so much more fun doing this, and I am just sick of long slow stuff, for sure. Not to mention, I have no idea how on earth I'd be able to work full time, raise two kids under 3, AND train for long distance. And not lose my mind. This is supposed to be fun, and...damn, I had fun yesterday.

So here's to some more hurt-fests in the future...and to next time, not letting 'em chase me down.