Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home sweet home

Hard to believe that about 24 hours ago, I was sitting on a beach drinking quite possibly the most ridiculous pineapple drink (I'm serious--it was IN A PINEAPPLE, and was smoking with dry ice below it) ever, listening to the waves crash....aaaahhhhhh.

Good news: Hawaii is freaking unbelievable and we had an AMAZING time.

Bad news: Matt and I have been passing back and forth some nasty intestinal thing since Wednesday. And of course, we don't have it at the same time. So one feels poopy, and one feels good. My last round was on the NINE HOUR PLANE RIDE THIS MORNING. Lemme tell ya how much fun THAT was. I got some REALLY strange looks.


That did not stop us from having a blast! I am exhausted, but I slept from 3-9pm today. DUMB! Now I'm going to be up all night. Arg! I will try to sleep somehow to get back on EST....

Pics will come later...but for now we basically:

  • Got to visit our awesome friend Molly, stationed on Oahu
  • Ate breakfast at an awesome local spot on Oahu: Boots and Kimo's (mmmmm banana pancakes and macadamia syrup....)
  • Drove to North Shore of Oahu--and saw some of the biggest waves I've ever seen
  • Did some unbelievable day hikes
  • snorkeled at Hanauma Bay in Oahu and saw some HUGE and AMAZING fishies
  • spent lots of time on the beach--yay! I'm not pasty anymore! (For a week or so at least)
  • snorkeled LOTS and saw 7 BIG OL' SEA TURTLES! Matt got to swim with a few!
  • Got to see some humpback whales--so cool!
  • Took surfing lessons!
  • Snorkeled more
  • Surfed again on my own!
  • Did I mention I like surfing? (I didn't say I was GOOD.) I never could really grasp why some of my friends quit their jobs when we were right out of college to move West and become ski instructors--never really sounded that good to me--but I think if I was 22 again I'd head to somewhere to wait tables and surf all day in a heartbeat
  • Saw the sunrise at the top of Haleakala Mountain (an old volcano) and mountain biked down-I've never really felt like such a poser. Roadies were climbing UP and I was on the TOTAL tourist-y ride DOWN like a total choade. Still--fun, and got some good shots though!
  • laughed at the irony of hearing "Sleigh Ride" and "Let it Snow" on Christmas Day as we drove the Hana Highway in our Jeep Wrangler with the top down on a sunny, 85 degree day
  • Got to see my buddy Vicki from Oregon--just so happened we were in Maui at the same time! We met as the reps from our state in 2002 at Georgetown University in DC (of course I have to make friends with the people who live the farthest from me, right?!) since we are both James Madison Scholars---it was SOOOOOOOO good to see her!
  • Had an amazing nine days and a Christmas we'll always remember it's 11:05pm, I haven't been able to eat anything solid since, oh, right about when I got on the plane, and I'm TOTALLY NOT TIRED.


Pictures may come sooner than expected! :) For now, hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and is gearing up for the New Year!

I'm gonna go try and eat something now....wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I leave for Hawaii in less than 12 hours.

Am I packed?

Of course not! I'm reading blogs! Sara = unproductive.

Just got back from a nice 5 mile run....39 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and a beautiful sunset. My favorite weather to run in, I think. I can wear shorts, a long sleeve technical tee (my IM finishers one--always fun to wear!) and gloves. Shorts, long sleeves and gloves makes me feel like I can run forever.

I really should pack...but Joe tagged me so I thought I'd leave with this little nugget o' fun. Whoever wants to be tagged is tagged!

When I come back, it's time for a New Year...and that means a POLAR BEAR SWIM! Lake Erie...on New Year's Day! This year with some video. Awwww yeah. You know you are jealous! That's why my "swim" for the GYGO Worldwide Triathlon is 25 yards. :) I'll be lucky if I make it that far at all, and I'll probably be running and, if I'm really brave, dolphin diving. Hey, I'll have a nice tan at least! Last year TriAl took great pleasure in splashing the heck outta me. TriEric and I will be doing our tri together hopefully--and hopefully the roads will be clear so I can bundle up and ride 10 miles or so!

Aloha, and Mele Kalikimaka! :)

Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate. The very thought of egg nog makes me want to yarf. Drinking something called "NOG?" Ew.

Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa wraps them, but I hate wrapping presents. Hate it hate it hate it. Kind of like I hate ironing. I mean, really, what's the point? It's just gonna get wrinkled anyway, right? And it's just gonna get torn up. Amen for the almighty gift bags!

Colored lights on tree/house or white? White.
Do you hang mistletoe? Heck yeah!

When do you put your decorations up? NEVER before Thanksgiving...usually the first week of December.

What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Stuffing. MMMMMMMstuffing. Tasty carby goodness.

Favorite holiday memory as a child? Not being able to sleep, and then dragging my parents out of bed around 6am and just feeling the magic of the morning.

When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I figured it out in 4th grade.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No! That's totally cheating.

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Light a fire, put on some fun music, and decorate away. Usually I laugh at the ugly ornaments I made when I was a kid. I joke that my tree is the "reject tree" because we have some seriously fugly ornaments.

Snow! Love it or dread it? IHEART everything about snow and am SAD that I haven't gotten very much so far this year--or last for that matter! Snow days are the best. Only 2 of those in 8 years of teaching though...I'm on the wrong side of town. Sigh....

Can you ice skate? Yep! If I do say so myself I'm pretty good!

Do you remember your favorite gift? Probably my Strawberry Shortcake dolls. They rocked, dude.

What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? Spending time with family.

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Whatever my Mom makes.

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Probably a cross between making buckeyes (to eat...mmmmmmmm....the best dessert EVAH) and Christmas Eve service with my family.

What tops your tree? A TOTAL throwback ornament that topped my parent's tree in 1973. We still have the original box that says "$0.25" and it is SOOOOO 70s. I love it!

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving.

What is your favorite Christmas song? Christmas Time Is Here by Vince Guaraldi from the soundtrack of A Charlie Brown Christmas. (I agree, Joe!)

Favorite Christmas movie? Oh boy. This is tough. I'd have to say a TIE between A Christmas Story and Christmas Vacation. SO many good lines from that one. "We're gonna have the hap hap happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap danced with Danny $%*ing Kay!"

What do you leave for Santa? Cookies, buckeyes, and carrots for the reindeer. Don't forget them.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fall down seven times, stand up eight

The best advice I ever got for Ironman was to stay in the moment.

See, for those of you who have done one, you can relate to this probably quite a bit. For those who will do one soon, take note: Stay in the moment.

You have to. You really do. I am 110% convinced of this.

So much can go wrong in an Ironman, that, in my humble opinion, it's a wonder that anyone finishes at all. I mean, think about it: you have 140.6 miles to cover that are full of the potential for disaster to strike. Kicked in the face with a broken nose, get knocked off your bike at mile 1 and break your clavicle, flat tire, GI issues, sprained ankle disasters. Anytime. You are so vulnerable. So much of your Ironman is COMPLETELY out of your control.

"Don't picture yourself crossing the finish line when you're on the bike," this person told me. "That's the most dangerous thing you can do." Focus instead on the task at hand: heart rate, your calories, your stomach, the road. These are the important things to think about.

Not that your mind doesn't wander during an Ironman. I know mine certainly did...I mean, for 15 hours, it's bound to happen, you know?

But I really took that advice to heart. I really, really tried, as best I could, to focus on the moment. Think about what I needed to do. And really, my memories of Ironman are a collection of moments.

Ten minutes, beep, time to eat, take a few ecaps, am I eating enough?

Why am I peeing so much for cryin' out loud?

What can I do to stop this?

I feel great!

I feel tired.

But I am still going.

Go, go go....head down, aero, focus.

If I flat, I will probably miss the cutoff.

OK, self, then we're just not going to flat right now. the road, stretch my arms a bit, breath, beep, ecaps again, drink drink drink...

There's the Capitol.

I'm gonna make it.

I'm gonna make it today.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about things. A lot of talking to friends--some of whom are triathletes, some of whom are not. I think it's been really good for me to do some thinking and reflecting and general leaning on all kinds of people for some support.

There are quite a few things outside of my control at the moment.

And I've been trying to figure out why I am having a rough time with this. I love adventures. I love to put a backpack over my shoulders, some boots on my feet, and take off on an unknown trail. I love to raft down whitecapped rivers, to go 140.6 miles, 26.2 miles, to go any miles, anywhere and at any time. To pick the hard piece to conquor on the piano, the hard class to teach, the challenging students that others don't want to be in the same room with.

I seemingly love adventure. I mean, seriously. It's the title of this record I'm writing here.

Why is this any different?

I've come to only one conclusion: this one is not my choice. It's out of my control.

That's gotta be it.

So, I'm going to need to really listen once again to the advice given to me.

Stay in the moment.

It's all you can do, really, when faced with a long, long stretch where so much can go wrong.

Because, as I realized on September 10, so much can go right.

I need to remember that. I need to focus on that.

My body's trying to show me that, too. I'm convinced of it. From feeling really strong in the pool lately, to more and more runs feeling strong and fast and like I could go a 60 degree day tomorrow where Arcaro will come off the trainer and take me down the road. 60 degrees in Northeastern Ohio on December 17? If that's not a sign from above I don't know what is.

I need to take every day, one day at a time. Make the most of that day. And focus on what's around me. The rest will fall into place.

Tuesday, I ran 5 miles comfortably at an 8:22 pace.

That may not sound like much, I know...but that is usually pretty close to my tempo pace.

And I felt like I could go forever.

I stopped at the end, saw my watch, and just smiled. I enjoyed it. I'm not going to expect that every day--but I enjoyed the moment and enjoyed what my body just did. Sometimes my body just does that and has a way of really impressing me, and it reminds me once again that some days are good, some days are bad, but all days are really a gift. There's something to take away in each and every one.

I'm getting ready to go to Hawaii here. The practical side of me is still wondering why we are doing this...."Why now?" it's saying. "This couldn't be a worse time financially for can you do this? With so much up in the air? This is crazy...."

Finally, that voice is starting to be silenced a bit. As I'm reminded, day after day, that these plans have been in motion for 2 years now, that we've been excited to see our friend stationed out there for 2 years...that my Grandpa, who I lost when I was eight, only wanted to see two things in his life: The Grand Canyon and Hawaii. That's all he wanted to see. And he never got to see either of them. Because he was 58 years old when he died, which I finally understand now how young that's something you don't understand when you're eight.

I'm going because sometimes you just need to take risks and live in the moment. You just have to trust that you'll land on your feet. And even if you don't, you just have to trust that you will get up anyway.

So that's what I'm going to do.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Give it up to the universe

First of all, to those who left me such nice comments on my last post, thank you. I've put that post back where it belongs--the draft section, where I've been writing a lot lately, as sometimes I just need to write for me...with no explanations. I could tell by the looks of it that what I wrote had many of my bloggy friends a bit concerned, which was unintentional. So then, I think some people being the awesome people they are wanted more of an explanation, or were trying to guess what I meant and to figure out what the heck I was talking about, when in reality I really just am not willing to explain here. So--draft mode is my friend. :) Thanks for your kind words, though. You all rock.

Basically, I'm a little overwhelmed and a lot out of things to say that I would want to share here. So, I think I'll just lurk around for a little bit here as the year winds down until I sort stuff out, and get some infinite wisdom and inspiration from you. K?

That, and I leave for Hawaii very soon. Of which, in itself, is still quite overwhelming to me as I feel like that's another thing I have no business doing right now. But, plans were made long before some things here we are. Here I go. And I'm going to try not to worry about the practical side of it and just freaking ENJOY it. Anyone been to Maui and have some good hikes to recommend?

Last night when I was a kinda down, my buddy Sammy called.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This girl prolly knows me better than anyone in the universe. We've been through quite a bit in the past 11 years. And we are SO on the same page right now, it isn't even funny--with the exception of triathlon stuff, she's basically me, but the Indiana version. And tall and blonde. Other than that, though...dead on...Anyways, when I was explaining stuff to her she told me to just "give it up to the universe...." Actually, she said that about 6 times and I started making fun of her.

"What is that, your new THING? Is that like saying 'Fetch' in Mean Girls?"

We laughed a lot and I miss her tons. I hope she can come see me soon.

As usual, she knew just what to say and to tell me. And, I think giving things up to the universe is going to be my plan of action for a bit.

Happy Holidays to all! I'll be back soon.

Friday, December 08, 2006

"Reunited, And it Feels so Good...."

creeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkk goes the garage door

stares at each other


What do you mean, what? You know what.

No I don't.

It's December 8th.

Yeah. So?

So? That's all you can say is, so?!

You haven't lost your attitude, that's for sure.

Well how would you know? You haven't even TOUCHED me in almost 2 months!

Yeah, and it's been pretty nice.

Well, what the heck have you been doing for two months?! You spent hours and hours and hours on me for months, and now I don't see you for light years?!

I've been doing things I like. Running lots. Swimming a teensy bit. Yoga. Chillin'. Trying new recipes. Playing the piano. Traveling for fun. You know, that stuff.

The stuff you like.

Yeah. The stuff I like.


What's that supposed to mean?

It means you are only doing the stuff you like--the stuff you're good at. *snickers* That figures.

WHAT figures?!

The champions don't just train the parts they like. *snickers again* It's just like you do only do what you like. What you're good at.

No it's not! I do things I don't like sometimes!

Like what?

Um....grade papers. Watch TV. Eat brussel sprouts.

Nothing very challenging lately, though, huh? Wuss.

OK, beeyotch. I've had it with your attempted Jedi-mind tricks. You can't do this to me anymore. Things are different now.

Oooooh. Someone's getting a little salty.....

I mean it! I know I haven't seen you in a while, but to be quite honest, I didn't WANT to see you for a while, after our long long long trip together on September 10.

Yeah. It was over an hour longer than you wanted it to be.

Oh, SNAP. You'd better be glad I can't punch you.

Well, it was.

Yeah, it was. But let me get one thing straight here. Much of that was deliberate. I needed to SURVIVE that day. I had to change my goals. Hills I flew down at 43 miles per hour in July had to be 30 at best. Or I would have wiped out--flatted--worse! I saw it all that day! I knew I just had to get through you. So I did.

Well. It WAS.

Whatever. I refuse to apologize. It was what it was, and I am proud that I made it. You can think whatever you want.

You've got a lot of work to do on me still.

I know. But I've done a lot of work that I'm proud of. I know that the next time, I'll get that hour back.

Oh you will, huh?

Yeah. Write that down. I'll get that hour back. And MORE.

*hmpf* I'll believe that when I see it.

*grabs Arcaro from the ceiling*

You'll see it when my butt's on top of you doing it. So it starts now. You know where we have to go.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The basement. On the trainer. Single leg drills, hard repeats...I remember.

Me too. And I remember how far it got me.

*Sighs* Man. I just can't intimidate you the way I used to, huh?

No way, Jose. Let's go. We have a lot of work to do.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The infinite wisdom of Axl Rose

Whew! Craziness at work.

I swear it's harder to miss school than it is just to be there. Getting sub plans ready, making copies for 2 days I'll miss and all next week, calling some parents I needed to touch base with, trying to get my 42 kids ready for our Model UN Conference tomorrow....whew! I had to stay extra late the past few days to get it all in, but the conference should be really cool and it's so exciting for me to see the kids having FUN while they are following parliamentary procedure and debating world topics.

Yes, I am a geek.

Finally got home around 5 and it was already starting to get dark. But, the snow had melted and it was a whopping 39 degrees out with a pretty I put on my shorts (anything over 35 degrees, and I'm wearing shorts, baby), my long-sleeve Ironman Finishers shirt (because even on a bad day it just makes me feel so freakin' good), my obnoxious pink gloves, and my Brooks Adrenalines size 10.5 (yeah, I've got big feet, whaddyagonnadoaboutit?). And I puddle-jumped around my neighborhood for 5 miles in the brisk air.

Now, since when has a nice little after work five miles turned into an 8:45 pace for me? I can't figure it out. But it's happened 3 times now. Strange.

Anyway, on the iPod came an oldie, Mr. Brownstone, by Guns N' Roses. Suh-weet. Some nice 80s rock. Now, granted, the song is about cocaine use, but I actually found some identification with the lyrics (NOT FOR THAT....! JEEZ! I'll explain)
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
(cue Axl and Slash)
"I used to do a little
but a little wouldn't do it
so a little got more and more

I just keep tryin' to get a little better
say a little better than before"

I kinda thought, hey! That's kinda like me and tris!

Cocaine...triathlons...where am I going with this....

OK, see, I used to do lots of sprint tris. Olympic for me was far. And it was still is fun...but after a while I think I sort of longed for more of a challenge. NOT that it wasn't challenging, by any means, but I'm just the kind of person that likes to try new things or I start to get stir crazy. I got to the point that I was doing pretty well in age group on sprints and olys and bring home the hardware, so I thought, why not try a HIM? How hard can that be, I thought?


Whole 'nuther ball game.

Whereas I am able to compete in the short distance, I get my ass handed to me daily in the long distance races. Which, for Competitive Sara, can be a little frustrating. But, you know what?

I think that's why I like it.

I think I really, really like to go long. It challenges me, and I'm sort of that geek that likes to be challenged. Picked-the-hardest-Brahms-piece-for-state-contest, SM-Physics-taking kinda challenged GEEK.

Which leads me to my next point: I need to start working on my weaknesses.

Otherwise, how am I ever going to stop getting my ass handed to me? :)

I've come a long way, but I have a long way to go. I think that's what I'm going to focus on this year--trying to really focus on improving my weaknesses. Strength and power on the bike is the biggie. Stamina on the runs (at a certain pace...I can go all day slow, but I'd like to bring my times down) and form on my open water swims are the others.

Things are UP.IN.THE.AIR. which I hate, but that's just the fact of the matter. So, I'm going to train like NOTHIN'S up in the air. And if I need to change things, I'll change 'em.

Cross bridges when I come to 'em. Yeah, that's a novel idea.

(I like to usually plan each bridge about 3 months in advance--so this is another weakness I must work on)

The thing is, I love the training for the long stuff. This past year was hard, really hard, and at times I didn't know how I'd do it...but I love the simplicity that Ironman training brings to your life. Does that make sense?

I love that for 9 months my life was centered around my faith, my family, and my training. Everything else sort of found a way to sort itself out. I loved that.

I hope I can continue to do that.

And while I'm at it, I hope I get better, too.

Thanks, Axl. I think I get it. :)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Perfect Triathlon Day

Yes, it was.

What? December 3rd? A perfect triathlon day--in Northeastern Ohio?

You're eyes are not deceiving you, my friends.

It was INDEED a perfect triathlon day.

Matt had to work the Browns game today--and hey, whaddya know, they won for once! (barely)--so I signed up for our tri club's indoor triathlon. I headed out to the host gym where we'd be competing in a 20 minute swim, a 20 minute run, and a 20 minute spin class. See, they can't really guarantee the bikes are all calibrated equally, so they just do a spin class (it's not easy though!) as the "bike." Then your swim distance and run distances are factored together to get your score.

Wait--an EQUAL swim with the run, and THE BIKE doesn't count?!

My kinda race! :)

Now, the last time I did one of these I just didn't feel it. I now realize that was probably because I was about 5 days away from being diagnosed with full-blown bronchial pneumonia. That might explain it!

I sorta felt like I had NO business being there today, but it's so laid back that I went ahead and did it. Here's my stats SINCE September 10, 2006:

Swims: TWO TIMES, BOTH UNDER 2000 yards. (Pathetic!)
Bikes: THREE TIMES, and those three times being prior to October 20.
Runs: Lots here
Yoga: Lots here
Sun Chips, Captain and Diets, and Ice Cream: Lots here

So, I dove in and gave it a go.

Lo and behold, I swam 45 laps in 20 minutes! Where did THAT come from?! Give it up for Ironman fitness--woot woot! Just calculated that pace...1:37/100 yards. Where the HECK was THAT on September 10th?! Sigh. Oh well...proof positive that I can significantly knock off some swim time in IM #2 in '08.....

The run I sorta dogged. This is why I am NO GOOD ON TREADMILLS. See, there's a little button I can just push to make it go SLOWER. That's bad. Outside--no button. Inside--button. Which equals a bit of slacking on my part for a disappointing 2.45 miles. BOOOO. I'm such a machine slacker. At least I had my iPod, TriEric with his video camera was there to make me smile, and I got to see that funny ESPN commercial with LaDanian Tomlinson in the mail room that cracks me up.

The little spin class was fun and tough! I'll have to try some more spin classes to mix things up a bit...once I put my bike on the (ugh) trainer. Yeah, I think I'm going to have to do that this week. I HATE WORKING OUT INSIDE!!!! Arg. I can run and run and run outside no matter what the weather throws at me, but I just don't have any cold weather biking gear, nor do I have any money to spend on gear at the moment. So, YAWN....trainer, here I come.

Now, this little tri cost me a whopping $5. For this small fee, I got a nice little goody bag with some cool tri stuff in it, and ALSO got a WHOLE CANISTER of Hammer Enduralytes ($17 or so) and a WHOLE JUG of HAMMER GEL ($17 more dollars or so)! Sersly. I sooooooooooooo got my dolla's worth this morning--and had a nice little surprisingly good workout, too! My tri club is da BOMB.

Fun little bonus I found out on my way out--I guess I was pretty close and finished just a smidge behind this really tough tri girl who rocks! Holy Moses. Now, let's not kid prolly was 'cuz the bike wasn't a factor! ;) But I will take it!

Then, I went home, let Mugsy out, changed, and headed out again to JenC's house for some time with some tri-girl friends! It was great--we ate, we chatted, we exchanged fun ornaments! It was nice to see everyone when we weren't wearing swim caps or race bibs. What a fun time!

DaisyDuc was there--here we are, fresh off her PR yesterday in the 5K!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here's JenC, and JT and Ultra E-Speed sportin' their winter gear!
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We had a great time--it was so fun to talk to everyone and it even more made me wish I could do another IM next year. I will be living vicariously through JenC and JT as they get ready for IMUSA and IMCdA! I seriously. CAN'T. WAIT. to do another one. Ah, but not in '07...patience, TriSaraTops, patience....

(I've never been very patient. This could get ugly)

On that note, we'll end the perfect triathlon day with perfect triathlon goals:

1. Indy Mini-Marathon, May: 1:49.59
2. Steelhead 70.3, August: 6:10
3. Chicago Marathon, October: 3:59.59
4. IMFL, November 2008: quite ambitious, but good things happen when you aim high, right?................13:59.59

Lots could change here. LOTS. This schedule will have to be in pencil...

But I will end my perfect tri day with some perfect tri dreams, and there they are.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And then, one day, you realize you're stronger.

I don't like numbers.

I don't like to quantify things with digits. I've always been someone who uses words--uses emotions. Whenever I'd compete in performances for the flute and piano, I always got marked up for my "musicality," and occasionally would get marked down for being off a beat slightly.

But to me, it was fine. It was the way I felt it--not "felt" with a snotty attitude, but I mean FELT with my heart and soul, and that's how I liked it.

AP Calculus was nonsensical to me, but Emerson and Steinbeck and Vonnegut were clear as day.

I dreaded this past weekend for a long time in several ways.

Jacks reminded me that today--that when I stopped at her apartment on September 6th on my way to Madison, I mentioned the possibilities of this past weekend's events. And she told me, "If it could make you worry more than an Ironman, it was a big deal."

It was. I'm accepting that. It was and I dreaded it and it's over and I made it. And I feel...better even. Vindicated in some ways.

And even a little bit stronger.

Today I got my flu shot at school. Yawn. Or, in my case, THUMP (the sound of me passing out whenever I get a shot). But I didn't pass out this time. I felt a little queasy and nauseous...a little like I felt Friday around 6pm...but I made it through with a smile despite the churning stomach and I'm pretty certain that no one even knew the difference.

(Except, someone did on Friday--I learned that on Saturday. That someone, at one time at least, knew me very well, though. So we'll let it slide.)

I then got my numbers for my health screening--they do it every year for free at work, when we get our shots. So, what the heck, I thought. Might as well.

They have my numbers from last year--November 4th to be exact.

The nurses jaw dropped when she wrote down my new stats:

Blood pressure? 30 points lower.
Cholesterol? 30 points lower.
"Good" cholesterol? Slightly higher.
Resting pulse? 48 beats per minute.

"What did you do?" She said, surprised.

Well...I guess...I did an Ironman?

But that's probably not it. One day didn't do it.

I woke up early for nine months. I hate waking up early. I swam endless laps in a 20 yard pool with Noodle Lady, Navy Guy, Dave the Lifeguard, and TriEric.

I rode on a trainer in my basement, when I couldn't ride outside. I did one leg drills until I swear I did them in my sleep.

I ran. And ran and ran and ran. Slowly. Which, I didn't like to do at first, and then I got used to it as being necessary. To make me stronger.

I rode more hills than I've ever rode in my entire life. I doubted myself. I felt tears welling up in my eyes several times on the course that kicked my butt over and over and over again. And I kept going back. Every. Single. Weekend. Because, what does not kill you, most assuredly makes you stronger.

I rode 100 miles 4 times. And then ran afterwards up to an hour.

I got tossed around by waves and felt the sun shine on the back of my wetsuit as I focused, focused, focused on my stroke. I ignored the dead fish that I ran into in July. I pretended he was just sleeping.

I made it to the start line.

I made it to the finish line.

"I did a lot of things," I answered, smiling. There's no way I could explain it all--nor would she have probably cared to hear it all. I just know that I did a lot of things.

And I'm better for it.

All of it.

It was worth the pain, it was worth the tears, and it was worth the joy while it lasted. I remembered that, this weekend, too.

All of it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

You are now leaving the Twilight Zone.

Thank you for visiting.


So. Tired. Slept 1 1/2 hours Saturday night, some of which being on a hotel lobby's couch. Light sleeper + friend who snores + didn't know friend snores so no earplugs and tried every method I know to stop snoring from waking me up = attempting to sleep in hotel lobby, only to find out that 5am apparently is the PERFECT TIME TO VACUUM YOUR LOBBY.


To make a long story short, I am very tired--got through my day today, but I think I need a vacation from my vacation. Glad to report I ran 5.5 miles at Maumee Bay State Park before the wedding in a beautiful sunny 60 degree margaritas and enchilada dinner combined with not much sleep.

To make a long story very, very very short, this was a very fun and very emotionally draining weekend, of which was five years in the making.

When I ran Saturday morning, I was running away from something, which I hate doing. But I left there Sunday leaving it all behind. And now I don't have to worry about that encounter anymore. Amen for that.....

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Friends who are in love are awesome, by the way.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

No, we're not sisters, although her 8 year old daughter did come up to me and call me "Mom."

It's official: I am signed up for Steelhead HIM next August, and I will be breaking 6:10.

I need to sleep.

That's all I've got.

I'm out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

"What's My Age Again?"

--Blink 182

Yep, that song pretty much sums up what transpired in the past 24 hours.

See, I decided to go ahead and sign up for the Turkey Dash, despite the fact that I really wasn't feelin' it. It's such a great cause, as my Mom knew Karen Nakon personally...and such a nice little race. So, I signed up last night at the last minute, before going to the Winking Lizard for some tasty food, a Hoegaarten (I can never remember how to spell it--somethin' like that), and dinner with friends. I hadn't ran since Sunday's half marathon, and was feeling still just a little tired. But, I thought, it will be fun.

And then, Dill called.

Dill is my best friend from high school. She's a bad influence on me.

Not really, but I like to joke that she is. And for some reason, on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, she always likes to go out in full effect. It's kind of the day when everyone is out and about, and you run into randoms that you haven't seen in years. I'm sort of over it, but she said she wanted me to come out, and I haven't partied it up with her in a while, so I went.

Oh boy.

The next thing I know, we're at a crowded bar in the town I spent most of my 20s in, with people that were SIGNIFICANTLY younger (and calling me "Miss Arcaro"--there's a bad sign right there) all OVER the freaking place. I just wanted to have a beer and enjoy hanging out with my friend. Sigh.

Pretty soon, I'm jokingly "bailing her out" of trouble (standard) and before I know it it's almost 5am.

So we basically pretended we were 23 again. See, I used to do this all the time. EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKEND.


Maybe it was the smoky bar (thankfully, Ohio is going smoke free here in a month--yahooooooooooooooo), maybe it was staying up until 5:30am, maybe it was the sheer weirdness and annoyance of hearing, "Hi Miss Arcaro" everywhere I turned, including the BATHROOM, for cryin' out loud (that's what I get for starting my teaching career so young, I guess), but this bar was CLEARLY not ours anymore. It was fun, sort of, but I looked at the clock at 5:30am and called Canada Jenn.

Yeah, um, I so don't want to do a race on 2 hours of sleep.

So I bailed.

My first Turkey Trot in 5 years that I've bailed on! Ugh. I felt a little guilty, but at the same time, it was kind of fun to stay out late, drink with my best friend, and just enjoy being (somewhat) young and having the freedom to do so.

So, in true College Sara style, I slept in until 11am.


I felt all kinds of nasty when I woke up. Hair smelling like smoke, feeling all groggy despite the fact that I had only 2 beers over 7 hours (driving Dill--she needed a driver!), and just generally feeling bunk. So, I knew what I needed to do.

1. Drink tons of water.
2. Get my lazy butt up.
3. Eat a little something, and then make myself feel like TriSaraTops again--go for a run.

Matt laughed at the ridiculousness of the night, and of the fact that I now wanted to run a MINIMUM of 8 miles. For some reason, I thought it might just sweat all the stupid out of me.

Ahhhhhhhhhh. It was PERFECT. The sun was shining, blue sky, there was a little lake breeze, it was a balmy 48 degrees, which means (of course!) running in shorts and a technical tee, and I grabbed my iPod with the kickass playlist and some NUUN.

And I had 8 glorious miles, at an average pace of 8:52, that restored my faith in all things party girl.

I'm not 23 anymore....that's for sure. Those days were fun, and every once in a while, it's fun to remember what it was like. There'll always be a little party in me, I think--especially when Dill's around. Gotta love it, and she is my best friend after all.

But it sure is nice to pound out last night's party on the pavement, and sigh as I stretch after a run, and laugh at how far away in some ways I am from that girl--5am, 23 year old Sara.

She is pretty fun though. I gotta admit. ;)

Monday, November 20, 2006

To Everything...

You'll have to bear with me here. I'm feeling a little wistful.

The more I think about it, the more happy I am with what I did on Sunday. I'm just so thankful that I had such a day. A day that was 38 degrees, rainy, and unbelievably FUN.

Because my friends were cheering for me at the water stop.

Because I ran faster than I ever have for 13.1 miles.

Because I never doubted for one second that I would finish.

And for this, I am thankful.

I'm thankful for my legs, as much as they burn much as it hurts to go down stairs (but not up, of course). Because they are there reminding me of what I just did.

I'm thankful that in the past year I've done things that I still can't really wrap my head around yet. The sheer mileage and time is daunting on paper to me, and when I factor in what I had to give up along the way I am still amazed that I made it at all. To the start line--let alone the finish.

I'm thankful for the love of my friends and my family. Without their patience--on the days when I was too tired to return a phone call, or when I fell asleep on the couch after an 8 hour brick on the other side of town, they smiled and stood by me and understood. Not even necessarily understood why I just rode a bike for umpteen hours, but they understood that I needed to. I hope that I can be as understanding and supportive to them in their endeavors, whatever they may be.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm thankful for my career. Like all jobs, it is hard work, and not every day is easy. However, as much as it frustrates me some much as I feel that sometimes I'm sprinting up the down staircase...I am thankful I have a career I love and one that challenges me every single day. I see many of my friends who are not challenged enough, or are too challenged in their jobs, and I realize how truly lucky I am to have this unique balance.

I'm thankful I get to race. When all is said and done, and I think about the person I was when I was 18, 21, 24, and now at 29...I can't imagine my life without a race. Of any distance. Because I get to push myself, because I am my own harshest critic, because numbers never lie...because every single race I do, and every single step I take, makes me grow a little bit more into the woman I'm supposed to be. The woman I hope to be.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm thankful I had the time on earth that I did with some of my family. It was short, it was taken away entirely too soon...but because of that I have an immeasureable value of what family is, and how important it is to love.

I'm thankful for love. In all its stages. From the whirlwind puppy love as a teenager to relationships, good and bad, in the years that followed...and all the emotions that go along with falling in love. And thankful I've gotten to experience all of these things, with plenty of stories to go along with them. For things coming full circle, again and again. For never in a million years dreaming I'd marry a friend from high school, and now not being able to imagine anything else.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I'm thankful that I live in a place where I have the ability to say these things, do these things, and love these things.

And as uncertain as the future may be, I can take a deep breath, and step back, and be thankful for this.

All of this.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm proud of me.

But I'm REALLY proud of E-Speed! She freaking ran a 9:23 at the JFK 50 miler! AMAZING, my speedy ultra-friend! Go directly to her blog and give her mad props.

Okay, but I am also kinda proud of me! My goal of 1:54 was a good one....I came in JUST at 1:55. RIGHT on it, basically. So, I have to look this up, but I think I still PR'd by a few seconds...does that count? :) I think I had the time wrong from my last stand alone half marathon back in '03....I know that I ran with the 1:55 pace group with Dr. John my Soler friend as the pace leader, but I think they finished in 1:54 something and me in 1:55 something. So, I will have to dig through the archives.

(OK, update--I just dug through the archives and I was wrong! Previous PR not 1:54.55, as originally thought, but 1:55.39--way off! DUH! So looks like I will PR by more like 25-30 seconds. That's gotta count, right?) :)

In any sense, way cool and wicked pumped that I even came REMOTELY close to a PR today. Let's just lay it out there--I pretty much winged this one. I just signed up last week. I really wasn't sure what to expect, since my weekly mileage has been pretty low. Since Ironman, I did two "long" (go ahead, laugh) runs of 8 miles, and 11 miles. The 11 miles was last week. That's it...and some tempo runs and 2 days on the track. So, I am pretty happy with my results, all things considered. I think it really shows that I still have it in me, and can set my new goal for the Indy Mini Marathon at 1:50 and achieve that. Yippeeeeeeee!

So what is it with me and bunk nasty race day weather? Today it was 38 degrees and alternating between piss-raining (as Canada Jenn says) and a full on, IM MOO style downpour. Not so cool. I actually like the temperature--38 for me is darn near perfect race day conditions--but DRY would have been nice. I think I'm still thawing out.

Coach Kara told me to go out at 8:45s for the first 3 miles or so, and then try to hold 8:20s as long as I could. So, I really thought I was doing that. Mile 1?


Damn. I SUCK at pacing. (But not as much as MICHIGAN SUCKS--hee hee. Had to throw that in)

So I tried to slow down but to no avail. I had set my Garmin for a half marathon, and in a total violation of "nothing new on race day" had no idea that I couldn't take my splits when it was in this mode. DOH!

I tried to just go by my feel and made it to mile 7 in an hour flat. So, I was pretty much right on target. It was very fun to see my Second Sole buddies at the water stop! They kept me pumped up.

Basically, all was well and I felt great until about mile 10. And then I DIED DIED DIED DIED. Which, probably makes sense since I really didn't put in the miles. You can only be a poser for so long. :) I took another hammer gel and tried to focus on a person and stick with them. Eventually, I made it in and was very happy to even see a 1:55 on the clock! I thought for sure I totally blew it and it would say more like 1:57.

Interestingly enough, my Garmin stopped at 13.1 miles (since I set it to half marathon mode) and the time it said when I hit that distance was 1:53.28! I soooooooooooo like that better. :) That was pretty much exactly what I was hoping for! Can I take that instead? Not sure if my Garmin was off or the course was a wee bit long. Most likely, Garmin was just a bit off, I guess, huh? Bummer. If only Garmins ruled the world...

So, what have I learned?

  • I can basically wing a half marathon and do pretty darn well. I guess I must have some degree of stamina and fitness left over from IM.

  • I really need to up the mileage and get in some REAL long runs, not fake pseudo-long runs of 8 and 11 miles! I mean, come ON....I've gotta be kiddin'. I'm lucky I was able to hold the pace I did for as long as I did. So, come January, time to up the mileage up!

  • The iPod was great, especially when I felt like I couldn't move and my hammies were rebelling on the last few miles. I'd like to thank Pantera, Pearl Jam, Suicidal Tendencies, Motley Crue, the Beastie Boys, Eminem, and System of a Down for helping me freaking move my legs.

  • Running a race pretty much by yourself is different. It was nice to not get wrapped up in the numbers and the miles, since I had no splits due to my watch's function (oops), and nice to not worry about who was passing me. But, it sure is more fun to run with a friend, and probably would have helped me not totally blow the last 3 miles. :) You hear that Jacks? Kick me in the ARSE at Indy.

Afterwards, I was shivering and shaking and cursing myself for not getting their earlier to get a good parking spot. Ugh. My car was pretty far away, and so was warmth and dryness. So, I got some hot chocolate and a bagel, and struck up a conversation with the winning Master's male--he saw my IMW hat and shirt and turns out he did it, too! We were laughing that the weather was reminding us of our race day. Then, I saw another guy in an IMFL jacket and we talked a bit! Ironman peeps rock.

On my way to the car, I found one of my former students, who is a senior this year. I heard that he was running this as his first half-marathon, so I kept an eye out for him. He wasn't hard to find--he came in EIGHTH OVERALL. He finished 14th in the state, I think, at the Cross Country Championships. This kid's a MACHINE. Anyway, I congratulated him, and he proceeded to tell me that this race was "the hardest thing he'd ever done," that he was "so inconsistent," and that "he doesn't ever want to do it again." He also said, "I can't even imagine doubling that after swimming like 8 miles and biking like a hundred!" I laughed and told him that his pace is JUST a wee bit faster than mine. :) He finished in 1:21. Way to go!

So, I guess I still have some street cred. Cool. :)

All in all--a great race, a nice flat and fast course, fun people, and even a teensy little PR. Not too shabby. What more can you ask for?

Well, the Browns to beat the Steelers would be nice. But I guess I can't have everything now, can I?


Okay, another update. I keep having all these afterthoughts. It's been a few hours and I just graded some papers I seriously complaining that my PR isn't "PR enough?" What's wrong with me? Someone should smack me upside the head. A PR is a PR, whether it's 1 second or 1 hour. I think after taking 56 minutes off my marathon in mary #2, in my head a PR should be of those epic proportions. Which is PRETTY MUCH IMPOSSIBLE, so I am now officially embracing my PR, albeit a small one. Yay for PRs, yay for progress...yay for half marathons! I think I remember now why I always said that's my favorite distance. Onto Indy!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Is it just me...

...or was this a really long week?


I'm SO looking forward to 2 days of work next week! Yahoo! I definitely need a break.

Driving home today, I was listening to an old mix CD a while back. When I make mixes, I title them something that's going on at the moment in my life.

They're always fun to pop in a few years a little time capsule of my brain.

It's called "A National Championship," and was from 2003 when the BUCKEYES beat Miami. (Rather appropriate for this weekend, methinks.) Anyway, there was some other stuff going on when that was going on, which affected the mood of the songs, and the song "We All Move On" by the Samples came on. Funny, as it's quite appropriate for what I'll be doing very soon. An event five years in the making, you could say....

I think that every girl really needs to have one LBD (little black dress--translated for those that don't speak chick) that makes them feel as if they look like a movie star. Said dress should be brought out only on much needed occasions.

I found mine last night, and it will be in full effect here soon. My buddy Dill helped me pick it out. Thanks, Dill....the only one who knows me and the whole saga from the first moment to the last.

And that's that. Full circle, full circle.....funny how life goes that way sometimes.

Anyway, enough about that. I had a really rotten run yesterday. I'm trying not to worry about it. I just felt hungry and tired, and that's probably because I hadn't eaten or slept very well the night before. It was, as Zeke says, "ass-dragging slow." But, I just slowed down and got through it, and today and tomorrow are off so I can rock the pants off the Fall Classic.

If it has pants. Does it?

If it does, I'm so rockin' 'em.

Wil's not going to be happy with this...I really, really, REALLY wanted to head out to do Wildflower this year. I was really trying to talk myself into it, and she was helping. BUT--it's a Saturday, which means I'd have to leave Thursday morning. For teaching, I only get 3 personal days a year...and I used all three for Ironman. So, I'd have to use a "sick day," which is obviously not so ethical. AND--travel round trip would be somewhere in the range of $350, plus the entry fee, plus shipping my bike, etc. etc....and living on student loans and stuff this spring means it would be about a $1,000 weekend that I can't even really do without losing my job in the process or living in a cardboard box. So.....

No Wildflower for me. :(

I am INFINITELY jealous of her and everyone that can go. I wish I had more funds...but I love this job and unfortunately it doesn't allow for vacation time. (Except for those, uh, three months in the summer. I can't whine too much, here.)

ON A GOOD NOTE, I signed up yesterday for the Indy Mini Marathon! I wanted to do this last year but it closed before I could get in. Jacks is in, too! So we are TOTALLY going to rock that on May 5. Hopefully we can hang out with our friend Lush and maybe some other Nuthouse alums! I can drive there, I have a place to stay (I hope--Lush, uh, can I crash at your pad if you're reading this? hee hee), and it's ridiculously cheaper. So, there ya go.

But someday...I will get out to CA to do that race. Just not this year.

And now, I'm off to a tri-club meeting..I will leave you with this...

GO BUCKS!!!!!!!!


Monday, November 13, 2006

Oh, it is SO on, baby.

I'm starting to get a little excited about this weekend's endeavor. I know that I've been running well, and hitting all the splits that Coach Kara suggested I hit for the tempo runs, long run, and 400s.

I just need to do the opposite of what Flava Flav and Chuck D tell me to do, and TRUSS' IT.

I just...I dunno...I think this is the thing that fascinates me about running. For me, I really feel like it's mostly mental. Now, let's get one thing straight--I ain't gonna head out there and tear up a sub-3 marathon or anything like that. What I mean is, for what I know I'm capable of, it's mostly mental. And I know that the splits I'm holding right now are more consistent and faster than anything I did when I did my last stand-alone half marathon in 2003. So...relax, self. Chill. Deep breath. Go with it.

As in life. I'm just going to have to trust that the chips will fall where they may, and that's OK. Had a nice long conversation with my girl Wil last night and yet another man-is-this-creepy-or-what realization that we share quite a bit of that in common. Sooner or later, you just get freaking tired of worrying about it all, and you have to let it go. You just pass out in the middle of everything, because you have to. And when you're done, you get up. And you go with it. And you're fine.

And this is pretty much an established pattern of behavior of mine, since, oh, 1977.

So, before I get to said pass-out-with-my-toys-around-me phase, I'm going to REALLY work hard on letting life be life. In pencil. Although my life has been mapped out for me exactly as I have planned for the past three years (literally--every workout, every day, every backpacking trip, every wedding, every degree), I need to accept that this is an anomaly.

Real life usually doesn't have an iron-clad workout log and a race schedule.

And that's....O....K....

There, I said it! *shaking slightly*


And now, back to my race on Sunday...hey, THAT one's in Sharpie.

So sue me.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Half-Mary, Hail Mary


I'm ready to talk about it.

There's going to be a lot of uncertainty next year, and I already said I don't like that. So, what is in my control? What can I do?

I can do this.

Next Sunday.

Under 1:54.

The only thing stopping me is my head, and I think I've finally got that straightened out.

Here we go.

Before my tempo run

I had to buy new shoes yesterday. I was way overdue. I couldn't help feeling just a little sad about saying goodbye to my IronShoes. They are dirty, worn out, and I know they are not good to run in anymore.

But I maintain my position that they are a little bit magical. You only have your first Ironman once. And although they are worn out, my new Brooks Adrenaline look just as they did on the first day I opened their box.

New shoes remind me of an empty classroom in August. Endless possibilities. Not always easy, and not always fun, but when my time is done with them, I've grown a little bit more and left behind some amazing memories.

Some very, very good things happened this week. The next 10 months or so have me excited, nervous, worried, and unsettled. I really like to plan. I'm a planner--always have been. I love marking things on my calendar, making my little lists, diligently crossing off my tasks and accomplishments.

I can't do that this time.

I don't know what's going to happen. There are no guarantees. What we're doing is taking a gamble, and quite a big one at that. But it has to be done--there's just no other way around it. I need to do what I have said before that I always need to do...and that I have a hard time doing.

Trust myself and my abilities. The rest will fall into place.

I'd love to plan my race season for next year, but I really can't. I can, but in pencil. And I am more of a Sharpie kinda girl. There are so many variables...which is exciting in one sense, but for me, quite nerve-wracking in another.

So I am going to do what I can--throw everything I've got here into the next few weeks. Pour my heart and soul into it, since I don't know how long I'll be able to do that in the next few months. Try to ignore the little voice in my head that says "no," that is the only thing that holds me back. Trust the numbers. Trust my ability.

Give it everything I've got. Just a few more times. And then, let the dice fall where they may.

You never know where you're going to be in a week, a month, or a year. My coach told me to enjoy my Ironman because you never know if you'll be back. I hope and pray that I get the chance--and the honor--to do it have the support, the time, and the health required to make it to that start line again.

Today, I'm going to do another run. The run will prove to me, yet again, that I can do this thing. The numbers will show me that. The only thing that holds me back is my head.

But I'm beginning to fully understand, two months later now, that my head is different--my outlook is different. My view of my capabilities is different. And this is good.

But I don't want to have to give this up.

I suppose I can't worry about that...about what might be in store, about the X and Y of the situation.

Trust me. Trust myself.

It's about 48 degrees outside and raining. And I'm going to do my 7 mile tempo run anyway. Because I've been here before.
Oh yes, I've definitely been here before.

And it's about time I got these new shoes dirty, anyway.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Eleven Miles

I set out on my eleven mile journey today, after I cast my vote, in the misty air as the sun set over Lake Erie.

No one, no sounds, but me and the leaves and the mist as the occasional car drove by.

I thought about lots of things--I always do when I run. I thought about how some runners run to get away from things, and some run to get somewhere.

I think I used to be a runner to get away from things, but tonight I finally realized that I have become one of the runners that is running towards something new.

If there is one thing that Ironman did to me, it made me realize that.

For some reason, since that day, I haven't had many doubts, despite many aspects of my life in transition right now. I haven't had as much of the fear in my head that I used to have often: that I wasn't good enough, fast enough, strong enough. I think that's why that night when I ran through the finisher's chute in the dark, misty rain, I didn't cry. I laughed.

I screamed.

It wasn't anything like I thought it would be in the daydreams I had on the countless hours on my trainer, in the pool, and on the trails.

I crossed that line and I remembered what it was like to run without fear, play without doubt, be the little girl that beat all the boys in the pool, the little girl who screamed as she did backflips off the high bar on the playground. Who, when she heard "Red rover, red rover, let Sara come over," squealed and sprinted full speed ahead at the line of arms waiting to stop her and dove right at them, breaking through every time.

I thought about how that day has changed me, and how it has changed me in ways I never really thought it would and in ways that I am sure I don't even fully understand yet. And I listened to the sound of my breathing and saw the shadow of the leaves glistening on the sidewalk, and ran the strongest, fastest 11 miles I've ran in 3 years.

I'm running towards her.

The finish line was only the beginning.

Monday, November 06, 2006

"I mean, who throws a shoe? Honestly!"

--Austin Powers to Random Task

"I mean, who chip times a 5K? Honestly?"

--me disgruntled after learning my chip did not read, therefore I am not in official results

Grrrrr! Somehow I had a chip malfunction. Me poor chip did not get read....

So, I just have some imaginary hardware from coming in 2nd in my age group yesterday behind DaisyDuc, which is quite a bummer since the hardware was a stuffed animal (the race was for a nature center) and I really would have liked to give it to my niece.

So, I am unofficially an invisible age group 2nd place holder :) Hey, that's still kinda fun. Only 11 peeps in my AG, but still!

I mean, REALLY? Chip time a 5K with around 100 people in the race????????

Sigh. Oh well.

I have something new brewing up my's a surprise though, but I'm going to really work on this little surprise. Perhaps I will disclose it ahead of time. Perhaps I will not. :)

Congrats to all my IMFL brothers and sisters! You guys are freaking ROCK STARS. I can't wait to read the reports. So. JEALOUS. Will hopefully be there in '08...I want to know what flat is like and what TriSaraTops could do in IM #2! So feed my race report addiction, please!

Sunday, November 05, 2006


A funny thing happens when you don't look for stuff.

You find it.

When you forget how much you love competing against yourself, you remember at the strangest times. When you don't think about being a triathlete, you realize again and again that that's what you are. That's who you are.

I got in the pool yesterday for the first time in a month. I just simply couldn't sit and stare at my computer screen of IronmanLive anymore...I knew my friends were out there, and I knew I had to wait. No sense in wasting any more time. I'd already done all the random little tasks I needed to do. So, what do I do?

Head to a pool--on the other side of town--because I just really felt like I needed to swim.

All that IronmanLive-ing woke up the TriSara spirit, and it was like I was on autopilot.




So I did, and didn't really expect much--first time in a pool since late September! But I put on my Zoot suit and my goggles, and walked into the pool....and got the stupidest smile on my face.

You know you're a triathlete when you SMILE as you go underwater in the pool.

Man, I love this stuff.

So I busted out my first 100 warmup. Not expecting much, of course. Looked at my watch....


It said I just swam it at a pace that, last January, was my 100 yards all-out pace.


Kept going, and did 1000 yards. Checked the watch, and did it faster than most of my time trials from last year.

"Um, hi, guard? Is this pool 20 yards long?"

*looks at me like I'm nuts, since clearly this is a pool used for teams to swim, as all the records are posted on the walls*

"'s 25 yards...we have teams race in here."

*stupid grin* "OK! Great, thanks!"

I then ended with 100 fast and hard...just to see.

Looked at the watch...and wouldn't ya know it? Faster than any 100 I did during IM training!

It kinda reminds me of the time at Miami U, when my senior year, I had 2 exams on Green Beer Day. Green Beer Day is the Thursday before Spring Break, and the bars open at 5am with insane beer specials that increase every hour. My grades were good, I knew I was going to graduate with honors in 2 months, so I decided, "You know what? I'm going out on Green Beer Day. And that's that." So I did--went out at 5am, had some green libations, stopped consuming around 7, had some coffee, took my first exam (The European Union) at 8am and my second (International Politics) at 10. Went back to the bars after exam #2.

Got the tests back: A and B+.

So, I remember thinking, WHY did I waste all that time stressing about these exams, when I just got my two highest test grades in these classes on Green Beer Day?

Moral of the story? Don't sweat it. Sometimes good stuff happens when you relax and trust your abilities.

Today, I went up to a little race. I knew nothing of what my body would really do, since I feel like I haven't done much fast stuff since MC Hammer was on the charts. So, I found BuckeyeRunner, DaisyDuc, CanadaJenn, and my awesome Mom.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
TriSaraMom, CanadaJenn, and I suit up for the race

We wished each other well, and then took off!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
TriSaraMom looking strong! Yes, folks, that's my MOM--not my sister

In my head, I really just hoped I could hold sub-8 minute pace for this race. I was pleased to see I was doing so until Mile 3...huh? Really? Did that time dude just yell what I thought he did?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
DaisyDuc, kickin' butt, grabbin' the hardware in AG!

I saw the finisher's chute and kicked it into high gear the last (what I thought was ) 0.1 mile.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Look! It's a BuckeyeRunner on my tail! I'd better move or she's gonna SMOKE me!

I was bummed at the finisher time, but oh well. You know what? I had a blast. Who cares if it was not close to the time I had hoped for. I cheered for CanadaJenn as she came in and out-kicked some dude....."Get him! Get him! GET HIM!" I yelled.

She got him.

Then, I waited for my Mom. She came through very strong and kicked it at the end. I swear she gets stronger and stronger with each run she does!

Finally, I actually checked my Garmin.

3.19 miles.

Wait a minute......maybe it IS CLOSE to the time I was hoping for...

Daisy Duc came up to me and said, "Hey, did that feel long to you?" I showed her the Garmin. I then saw another girl with a Forerunner on and asked her, "Hey, what does your's say for distance?" She laughed and said, "3.2. It's definitely long."


Pretty soon, the race director came on the PA and announced what my friend Mr. Garmin already told me: the course was a bit long--about a tenth of a mile. Adjust your times accordingly.

What a nice little surprise!

I then asked Mr. Garmin what my laps and pace were.

7:55 pace! YahoooooooooooIDIDIT!

The last 0.1 was really closer to 0.2....and I did that at a 6:41 pace! So I definitely could have ran faster, if I had that much gas left in my tank. But again, who cares? I had a blast, it felt great to be out there, and now I have something to gauge myself against for a few more little 5Ks here before the season ends in December.

So, to "adjust" that to 5K time, I did 24:32. Not anything earth-shattering for me, but hey, not too shabby. It felt good to be back. And I definitely finished strong.

Sometimes, when you just chill out and relax a bit and just GO, you realize you have fun. You realize why you do this. For the friends, the fun running in the finisher's chute with your Mom, the coffee afterwards at Panera. The time's just the icing on the cake.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
What will most likely be ANOTHER PR for the TriSaraMom!

I definitely am excited to try and chase my PR down here in the next few weeks. I think I can get it.

You can take the girl out of the triathlon....but you can't take the triathlon outta the girl.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Put up or shut up.


I did it.

I signed up for a race.

No, not THAT race! So not ready for that next year.

A race I have done before, just down the street where I live. A nice little local 5K. Just 'cause...well..I kinda miss it.

I miss the little teensy butterflies when you fill out a registration form.

I miss watching very closely what I eat a few days before the race...thinking what will make the best fuel and what will help me go faster.

I miss that feeling you get at the start line--like anything could happen, which is a little scary and a little exciting and it takes your breath away, just for a second. And then, you catch it, because you need every breath you can get.

I miss the little bitty voice in my head that says, for those glorious, sweaty, breathless minutes, "Go...go....GOOOOOOOyoucangofasterthanthis!"

So, in a way, I'm not expecting much out of this little race, as far as my performance is concerned. It will just feel so good to be out there, with a number on my shirt and people around me and the pavement beneath my Brooks Adrenalines.

But in a way, I'm really expecting a lot.

I'm expecting to have a little excitement back.

Just a little teensy bit of what I felt almost 2 months ago. If I can JUST. HAVE. A. LITTLE. BIT.

Then it will be so worth it.

Friday, October 27, 2006

DING! That's the end of round one, folks

I stayed at school until 5:30 today...long after the kids went home and the parking lot, despite the pouring rain, was starting to fill up with cars for the evening's football game. But I needed to get lots done, since the quarter ended today. And I did it, alone, in my quiet room, surrounded by my students' models of the Taj Majal and Zen Gardens, and I am happy to say it's all done.

8 1/4 years of teaching. How the heck did that happen?

Yesterday, I met an old friend on my 6 mile tempo run....



IT'S BEEN SOOOOOO LONG! I briefly saw you when I did the Old Oak Run with TriAl, and other than that, what's it been...a year? Probably!

I hope Mister Seven and I get to know each other much better, and maybe I even get to see the vagabond that occasionally passes me in the night (or shall I say, morning, since that's when 5Ks are)...


She can be a real beyotch to me, so I don't see her very often. Hopefully I can see her more and actually intentionally see her--not accidentally run into her whe I don't mean to.

Tomorrow is my friend's wedding..she's a Soler who's marrying another Soler! How fun is THAT? There are quite a few Soler couples! So cute. Why didn't I start running when I was single for crying out loud? I was barely tri-ing when I was single, and I was way to shy to talk to all the hot tri studs.

I'm serious. I actually am quite shy when it comes to that stuff. Really!

No, REALLY! Boys didn't talk to me until I was, like 25.

(Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit)

Then, Sunday morning I'll be hitting the trails with Kelly, who's doing IMFL next week! It's her last hour on the BEAUTIFUL trails with the yellowest-orangest trees you've ever seen. I'm so pumped!

I can't WAIT TO
A) Watch IMW on OLN/VS tomorrow after I tape it and
B) Watch Kahuna, TriMama, and all my other buddies online next Sunday!

I am so loving the run right now. I need to sign me up for a 5K or something to test out these legs. Feelin' good, feelin' good.


(I don't know why I just typed that)

OK--Time to make a fire and get caught up on LOST. I am such a Jack Shephard fan. Been a fan ever since the old "Party of Five" days, for those who know what that show was.

Good luck to Rae, Mouse, and everyone else racing this weekend!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two things that made me smile in the past 48 hours

1) A six mile, EASY run, with all the orange and yellow and purple trees to guide me. But the best part of my EASY run, was looking down at my Garmin and seeing an average pace of 9:14.

I'm SO back.

2) I stayed up late to grade some tests. Not fun. Today, a cool little skateboarder kid came to my desk at the beginning of class and said, "You graded our tests ALREADY?" In an effort to make a joke, I replied sarcastically, "Of course I did. I'm just that good." He walked away and said to no one in particular, almost under his breath, "Well, you ARE an Ironman finisher...."

Guilty as charged.

And now, I'm off for another run.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Picture Tells a Thousand Miles

So, I will let the pictures do most of the talking.

Crazy week at work. Lots of insanity.

Friday-stayed late to help a few kids. Came home. Ran 6 miles and felt great. Packed, and got on plane. Listened to InTransit Duo on the ride and read Women's Health. Tried to chill out a bit.


Landed in Chicago and Jacks picked me up--and instantly the stress was gone and I remembered why I was here--to spend time with my good friend in one of my favorite cities and do one of my favorite things to do: cheer someone on in a marathon.

We slept in and relaxed Saturday morning and caught up. She's one of those friends that you might not see for months, but the second you're together you are laughing and joking about old times like it was five minutes ago.

Like it was that day that we threw furniture off the porch and drew all over our house with a Sharpie. Or she tackled me in my pajamas in the snow as we rolled down the hill at 15 E Vine.

One of those friends.

So the next day, she started to get ready.Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We laid everything out--I brought a race belt for her and she got her GU's ready.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Then we went to Ranalli's to have dinner with her family, which was so much fun. Of course, she took me to Lululemon to get some AWESOME clothes that I probably shouldn't have bought but oh well the store's not around here so it's OK.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And then, it was time for bed. She was nervous but ready. "Chomping at the bit," I said, "that's how you're supposed to feel according to my coach. That means you tapered well." She just wanted to get it going already. We went to sleep, and then it was 5am and she left. I headed to just before mile 5 around 8 so I'd be sure to see everyone, and look for Mouse. It was very chilly--38 is what they were saying on the news, and a bit windy. Not raining though, and for that I was very happy. These guys can run in this--they will be fine.

Soon, I saw the wheelchair athletes and they were inspiring.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And then, after several rounds of phone tag, there she was....MOUSE!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We jumped around a bit and screamed like freak shows. It was cool. We tried really hard to look for Zeke and Walchka, but we kept getting dizzy by all the people flying by us.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We managed to see E-Speed and screamed our butts off--she smiled and waved so we knew she heard us!

I was on the lookout for a bright pink headband and pink shirt...and then I saw her!


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She smiled and threw her long sleeve shirt at me! She must be feeling great, I thought!

Mouse and I practically bounced a few blocks with excitement to get to Mile 10. We were so freaking pumped to see each other and our friends. Plus it kept us warm. (Bouncing, that is.)

We saw E-Speed again and screamed our lungs out for her! She saw us too and waved again. Then I saw Jacks again, too! She waved and all you can really see here is half her smile and her arms!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She was looking REALLY strong! Mouse and I were freezing so we tried to go to Starbucks for coffee. The line was insanely long. We wanted to see the Running Jayhawk again so we decided to go to....I'm ashamed to type this...McDonald's.


But they do have good coffee....right? So we warmed up a bit and chatted--what a cool chick. She will rock the Deeeeetroit marathon next week, I just know it.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Okay. Time to see if we can find Running Jayhawk. We managed to cross the street somehow in the sea of people and THERE SHE WAS!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

OK. Gotta get on the L. Brown line to Green Line to 35th and Bronzeville, to meet my girl at mile 23 so I can run with her the last few miles. We got there and cheered and cheered and cheered. I barely have a voice today.

It was awesome.

You could start to see it in people's eyes--that they knew they were in the home stretch. I saw a guy with an Ironman Wisconsin shirt on and said, "Go, Ironman Wisconsin! Go....WAIT....

*takes off running, Mouse watches, confused*


It was him!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

RUN BUBBA RUN! SOMEHOW I FOUND HIM IN 40,000 PEOPLE???!!! I screamed my head off for the 587th time.

The REALLY crazy part? He was RIGHT in front of Jaclyn! I hugged Mouse bye again, and took off!

"How are you feeling? You are looking so good! You look strong! Almost there!" I said. I said about everything I could think of to make her smile.

"Do you need anything?"

"A new pair of legs" was all she could get out with a smile.


And her and Bubba stopped for some water--I mean, the irony, people?! One of my best friends and best IronFriends, running together and they didn't even know it!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Jacks and her friend Mike had been together the whole day.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here is her Running Club's Hi-Five Stand!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Quinn, who was running 17 in preparation for the Miami Half Ironman, grabbed my camera and snapped this one.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

On this stretch, the wind was pretty bad and the crowd was thinning out. I told her just to follow me and we'd get there together.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

We ran side by side and kept on going. And then, she smiled and said, "Turn the corner and up the hill!" softly, but with excitement. I could see it in her eyes--that look, you know, when you know you're going to make it. When you know you've DONE it, even though it's not done.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She ran across the bridge with a huge smile on her face.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I got my last glimpse--and picture--of my IronFriend Bubba, running with Jacks as they made the final turn.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There it was: the finish line. She picked up her stride and her smile got even bigger. "You've GOT this!" I screamed! "GO, GIRL!"

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

And she made it, with her hands thrown up in the air and a huge smile on her face.


First marathon.


I was so happy to be with her and tried to get out of the way to let her have her finish line. She worked so hard to get there.

I did snap this picture though.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

She got her medal and we found her family, who were so proud of her! Hugs and smiles were everywhere. We headed towards the Bean so we could grab a cab to Barleycorn for some food, but not before I got to see Walchka and give him a hug for about 2.3 minutes before I had to take off! What a great guy.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

He ran a solid race and was all smiles.

And then, before I knew it, I was back on a cab back home. What a day. What a rush.

I think that's my next thing. I love running so much. I really do. I think I really will make my next goal breaking 4 hours.

I think I have it in me.

And now I've got another friend along for the ride.

As I stared out the window on Lakeshore Drive and saw the lights in the city and the sun going down, I got a little wistful. I almost lived here. I love Chicago. I applied to some schools there but really would have loved to live in the city, and that's just not easy to do on a first year teacher's salary. So I didn't.

But a little part of me wonders...what might my life have been like? What would have been different? It's like one of my favorite songs, Dancing Nancies.

"Could I have been anyone other than me?"

Probably. It would make an interesting story I bet. So many choices in life, one little choice could change everything. What college you go to--I never would have met Jacks if I didn't go to Miami. What city you move to when you're 22. Who knows?

I got on that plane and went home. It felt good to be home after my weekend, but what an amazing weekend. I am so lucky to have such a great friend. She got me through Ironman Wisconsin, so if I made her first marathon weekend just a teensy bit better than I can know I did my job.

And to all the friends I met that weekend and the ones who ran by me on that course, thanks for making it so fun to watch.

Enjoy your recovery, and for me, well, I'm thinking about what's next.

A little of what could have happened.

And a lot more about what's to come.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

So freaking awesome.

Gotta get on a plane here soon........MUCH more to come....I took 84 pictures!

But I just wanted to say CONGRATS to my girl Jaclyn, who did her first marathon today in 4:08!!!

Also to:

Zeke--sub 3!
Running-Jayhawk--got some great pics of her! She looked great and kicked butt!
Walchka--kicked some butt too!
E-speed--the name says it all!
Run Bubba Run--I can't even freaking believe I got to run with you at the end! HOW FUN!

And to Mouse---who was just as loud as me cheering people on, and it was SOOOOOOOOO fun to hang out with her!

Okay, if I don't get on the L soon I'm in big trouble....

To all others who finished Chicago today, GREAT job and I can't WAIT for the reports!

The Marathon Junkie,

Thursday, October 19, 2006

When all else fails

When all else fails, I am trying to remember that I trained for an Ironman for 9 months, and for those 9 months, I managed to find time to work, eat, sleep, and train from 8-19 hours a week consistently.

I'm trying to remember that because I am buried under a sea of 78 projects--although they are very creative and really good and it excites me to see what the kids come up with, at the same time, grading 78 projects and 78 corresponding papers is a little overwhelming. It looks like a history book threw up in my classroom right now.

And next week, I have to give tests in each class, grade them, and grade everything else that's piled from this week, and get my grades for all students entered in the system.

Ah, yes. The end of the grading period. Those that are educators out there know what I mean.

When all else fails, I try not to think of what January-August might bring, as we are transitioning a bit and still trying to find what's the next best step. And it's a bit scary to think of what we might be doing, or how we pay for it, etc. etc. etc.

So when all else fails I remember that somehow I managed those 9 months.

So I've been trying to get a few workouts in, because I need them more this week than ever. I tried some speedwork for the first time since, oh, June. 800 repeats, TriSaraTops. TriSaraTops, 800 repeats. Nice to meet you.

And it didn't go so bad. One was under 3:40. The rest weren't, but were close, and all things considered, I'll take that for this week.

When all else fails, I remember what I did on September 10th and how I got there, and I don't sweat it.

When I talked to my friend today, and I realized how much she needs me, and needs her friends and family right now, I dropped what I was doing and dropped my workout so I could try to help. And I feel bad--like I didn't really help, and wasn't of much use--but when all else fails, I remember that sometimes it takes a long time and a lot of patience to make a difference, so I will keep trying and trying and trying. And I know how strong she is and how strong I am and I know we'll get through this together.

As I sit here, completely overwhelmed by numerous responsibilities I have this week--as a friend, as a wife, as an educator--I think about what really matters. What really matters is their projects might take a few days. And that's okay. Because tomorrow I will get on a plane, and repay a favor that meant more to me (and continues to mean more to me) than I can really explain. I will be there as my friend Jaclyn takes on her first Marathon in Chicago--because she was with me every step of the way in Madison, consistently checking on me when I was overwhelmed with training and life, sending me cards just to let me know that I was inspiring her.

Me? Inspiring her? It still seems crazy.

So I will be there for her. And I hope that I can give her as much support as she did for me that day. And I will do whatever I can to make sure she has an amazing, amazing race day. No matter what happens.

Because when all else fails, you remember what's important--your friends, your love, your family. You remember what Ironman taught you. To eliminate everything else except these things, because you have to or you just won't make it even to the starting line.

And so that's what you do.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dear Bella,

It was my pleasure to meet you yesterday.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Actually, um, we need to talk about that.

I was just innocently starting out on a lovely 8 mile run. A loop I haven't done in a while, with lots of quiet little sidestreets and nice tree-lined roads. And just when my Garmin said "0.15" on my odometer, I passed Nasty German Shepard's house, like I usually do. Nasty (we can call her Miss Jackson) was out, as usual. Now, Miss Jackson and I have an understanding. I run on the other side of the street, which is clearly NOT her turf. She barks like hell and snarls at me, running up and down her yard, but does NOT cross the invisible fence line. Scares the bejeezus out of me, every single time, but does NOT cross the invisible fence line.

You see, Bella? Apparantly, you didn't get the memo.

You, my friend, appear in the yard as well. You are quite a stunning Rottweiler. What are you, about 75? 85 pounds? Very impressive.

Anyway, your idiotic owner must have decided it was a good idea to:

A) leave you in the front yard unattended, and since you are not a regular, you don't understand electric fences
B) tied you to some freaking tent stake with a ROPE. A small, piece of twine that I might use to tie up my newspaper.

So, it was to my dismay that you decided I was somehow invading your turf, and you SNARLED, IMMEDIATELY BROKE YOUR ROPE, AND CHASED ME.

Now, Bella, that just ain't cool.

I love dogs. Really, I do. And I'm not crazy about big dogs, but as long as they are cool and happy, then I'm down with 'em.

You were SO not cool and happy.

I really would like an apology.

Miss Jackson just stared at you like she was jealous that she didn't get to rip me to shreds herself. Luckily, I just so happened to see a white picket fence that I jumped over to avoid being your prey, but not before I bashed my leg into the pointy top, tearing my tights and leaving a throbbing bruise several shades of purple, green, and yellow.

I do want to thank you, however, for not jumping that fence. I'm not sure why you didn't, because you could have, but I'm quite certain that would have been the end of me.

What really bothers me, Bella, is the way the neighbor whose door I knocked on, and how your owner reacted. I mean, the neighbor laughed and said, "Oh, Bella got loose again?"

Again? Bella, really. How many times does a pissed off 75 pound Rottweiler really need to get lose before someone realizes THAT MIGHT BE A LITTLE DANGEROUS?

And as I stood there, throbbing leg and a few tears kind of falling down my cheeks as I tried to breathe, breathe, breathe again, your owner WAVED at me and smiled?


So, really Bella, I ain't mad at cha. I'm a little stunned and perplexed as to how this happened and the idiocy of your owner, or babysitter as it appears to be. I really just would like a promise that it wouldn't happen again. I know you could eat me and my 18 pound pug for a snack, and I respect that. I will not invade your turf, but please don't assume your turf extends a quarter mile down the street.

And while we're at it, I did finish my run. A little out of breath and a lot with a throbbing leg. My leg hurts like the dickens. Thanks for nothing, beeyotch. (Literally.)