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.