Friday, March 31, 2006

March: In like a lion, out like a slightly schizo lamb...

Okay, so I have had to kinda mix up the workouts this week. Felt like I first needed to get better from my cold thingy, and then the news of Matt's job hit so I wanted to spend lots of good time with him and help him out. So I've been mixing things up and despite taking two rest days I should still end up with about 10 hours of training this week. I'm gonna call that a small victory. :)

Last night Matt and I went to the winery again for a glass (or two) and some brie and fruit. Very yummy and good for the soul. Not as much for the training, probably. But hey, if it's good for the soul it probably IS good for the training, too.

So I decided I couldn't pass up this weather today and I'd move my long brick to today. When I started it was about 68 and sunny. BELLISSIMO. Got all ready to go and headed out on my first long-ish ride outside.

I felt very strong at first! Just whizzin' along the lakeshore. Man, is this wind pickin' up or am I just going slower? My stupid computer is still broke so I had NO idea how fast/far I was going. This was probably good, as I figured I'd be a bit slow today since I've just been on the trainer for so long, so I was just going for time.

Wow, that wind is picking up. And those clouds are getting dark.

Uh oh.

Now it started to rain. Just a little drizzle, and I thought, Oh, how nice! A warm rain to cool me down.

Famous last words.

Then the wind picked up again, and soon it was pouring. Crap. I was wearing just a short-sleeved jersey and shorts. Damn, it's cold when you're wet and trying to go fast on this thing!

I kept thinking to myself, "Come on! If it rains in Wisconsin, are you just going to pansy out and stop? Are you going to whine and complain like a baby? Waaa waaa...."

After making fun of myself for a while I realized it was actually helping a bit by getting my mind off the cold and I wasn't shivering quite as badly. I tried to keep drinking and eating but it was hard since everything was soaked and the puddles covered up the potholes. I was a bit afraid of getting a flat since my wheel has been on the trainer since 'Nam. I would take a sip of Gatorade, then hit a puddle-filled pothole, and then spray it all over my face.


So I was covered in a mixture of fruit punch gatorade, rain, mud, sweat, and snot.

That's hot.

(not so much)

You know what, though? It was worth it. The lake was actually quite calm and really pretty, despite the wind, and it just felt good to be out there. I know it slowed me down a bit, and the temperature dropped almost 10 degrees on the lakeshore from when I started, but all in all, I did about 40 miles in a little bit under 2:30. According to my calculations (which are always up for debate) that put me around 16.2 mph/avg. Pretty slow, but I'll take it considering the conditions. Really need to get me a functioning computer though! All that math gave me a headache. ha ha

Bailed on the subsequent run and decided to tack it onto tomorrow's shorter ride, as I was shivering like CRAZY and just wanted to be warm. So now I've brewed some coffee and will be grading some papers, and tonight it's off to a movie.

Yep. Small victories. Gotta love 'em.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

today, I ran

Today, I ran.

I ran because I felt better--not great, but better, and I knew I needed it.

I ran because it was 58 degrees and sunny. In Cleveland that means you see convertibles with their tops down, students with shorts and flip flops, and everyone walking their dogs.

Today I ran because I've been outside all year, but for the first time in a long time, I was outside with shorts on.

I ran because I am scared.

I ran because I am still a little angry.

I ran because I knew I could pray at the same time. And sometimes my most focused prayers come when I run.

I ran because it made me feel better. I ran because for seven and a quarter miles, I just heard my heart beating, my iPod, the birds between songs, and my breath.

I ran and with every step on the pavement my chest seemed lighter and I noticed the buds on the trees of new beginnings and the end of a season.

I ran because it made me stronger, and because it reminded me of my strength.

As I ran back home with the sun at my back I ran with a shadow of a girl in front of me--she was tall and strong and you couldn't see her face--she didn't appear scared or worried but confident and powerful, and I wanted to catch her.

I ran because it makes me one step closer to being her.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I really like this song.

Anyway, I should clariFY what R.I.F stands for: reduction in force. It basically means the district is out of money and needs to cut funds. Which usually means, cut teachers. Which also means, cut the young, enthusiastic teachers who don't have seniority. And since this has happened to Matt 3 times out of the past 5 years, he hasn't been able to avoid being the "New Guy" in any district. Thus, the R.I.F. notice in his mailbox near April (or an all-time early one this year: March 27).

I like what Zeke said it stands for better. I can probably think of much better words to represent R.I.F. Perhaps, Ridiculous Imbecile $#&%ers? :)

Okay, it's been about 24 hours now and I'm calming down. Things are a bit clearer now. I was originally really sad for Matt, as we finally thought he was in a district that wouldn't have to do this, but in January the superintendent hit them out of nowhere with the need to cut $2.6 million. But with the retirement of his department chair, we thought he'd be OK. So then I was MAD. Mad that I really thought this time it would be OK. That they wouldn't cut a teacher they had called "a gem," or written such favorable reviews of. It's just frustrating. When are we going to understand that to have quality education, you must FUND IT???

So (as usual) Matt is doing better than I am with this whole thing. He's joking that the "third time's a charm," and I'm trying not to be too upset in front of him because that's not what he needs right now. He's his typical self--calm, even in the face of uncertainty. He's grappling with the idea of leaving education, which is a profession he loves, but he can't go through this every single year. We're contemplating relocating to a state with a teacher shortage, which neither of us want to do. But do you give up something you love to take a "more secure" job doing something you don't? Or do you do whatever it takes, if that means moving away from family and friends, to pursue your passion?


So the anger is subsiding. Now I just need some guidance. Prayers for guidance are heading upstairs quite often. Hopefully God won't get too annoyed with me. :) But I just don't get it.

I know that things work out for a reason. I just need to have faith and let things take their course.

This is a proverbial flat tire on our bike course. Something that could happen at any time, but you can't really predict it and you usually don't expect it.

Get out the tube, and get to work. Get back on the course.

I really need my training but think I need sleep more. I will most likely take today and tomorrow morning off and try to jump back in tomorrow evening. After all, a flat tire's no reason to quit a race. You suck it up, and push a little harder to get back into your groove.

Maybe that means moving. (I hope not) Maybe that means we go down to one full-time salary and Matt works landscaping for a while for our friend. (Although he'll probably be the only landscaper with two bachelor's degrees and a master's) Maybe we eat ramen noodles and cut back.

Things could be worse. I just taught about the end of WWII today. I had a great discussion with my kids about the liberation of the Nazi camps, and it just kind of put things in perspective.

This is not life and death. This is a JOB.

And we can still start our family when we want to. I'm proclaiming that. I'm not letting this determine that decision. After all, I had quite possibly the perfect childhood growing up, and I didn't even know that we didn't have lots of money. I thought everyone ate pancakes for dinner sometimes. I thought that people who went on elaborate cruises or trips to Florida every break were really strange. We had so much fun in our little bungalow, just Mom, Dad, Mike and I. I didn't know when my Dad's job was on the line several times. I really had no idea.

I can do that for my future kids, too. It's all a matter of attitude.

I'm not going to let school funding ruin my life. School's are NEVER funded enough. That's just a fact. And by the looks of it, it ain't changing anytime soon.

Maybe I get a flat tire at Ironman. You know what? I'll probably swear a bit and get mad. (Okay, I'll DEFINITELY swear and get mad) But I'll get off the damn bike and fix the stupid tire. And then I'll get back on and ride away.

In the scheme of things, over 17 hours, what's a 5 minute bump in the road?


It's nothing.

What gets you through is your ability to see the finish line, the trust you have in yourself, the love and support from the people around you, and your strength that will get you there.

Anyone got a spare tube? :)

Monday, March 27, 2006

There are some things money can't buy...

Doing some personal bests on various lengths in the pool last week: zero dollars.

Hitting an all-time high for weekly mileage in the pool last week: zero dollars.

Sludging through a hill repeat workout in the freezing rain on Wednesday: zero dollars.

Feeling really strong on the bike in my brick and interval workout Friday and Saturday: zero dollars.

Leg pressing a new record last Tuesday: zero dollars.

Running 12 miles of Hinckley Hills pretty strong in sleety snow stuff: zero dollars.

Watching the clear blue sky today and the temperature hit 61 degrees but stuck in your bed after work because you now have a really annoying cold and are achey: priceless.

Well, not priceless. But ironic, anyway.


Vitamin C and water to the extreme, here I come.....:)

Stay healthy out there!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ring, Ring....Ring, Ring....



Yeah, that's me...

It's Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam.

Hey Eddie!

I heard you just got some awesome tickets close to the stage for my concert in May!

Yeah, I'm so pumped! They are close to the stage and everything. I've been trying to see you guys since 1994.

I know! Hey is that offer to marry me still on the table?

Nope, sorry Eddie. That expired on August 7, 2004.

Damn. I knew I should have taken advantage of that.

Well, you snooze, you lose.

Yeah, I guess so. Anyways, I heard you had a great brick today despite being late since you had problems with to buy my tickets, huh?

Yeah, thanks for noticing, Eddie! I actually had an AWESOME brick today. Felt really strong on my big ring pushes on the bike, and then averaged a little over a minute per mile faster on my brick than I was doing last month at this time--and at the same heart rate!

Damn, TriSaraTops. I knew I should have married you when you had my poster in your dorm room and said you'd always heart me.

I know, Eddie. I'm sorry. You're just going to have to move on. If it makes it any easier, my amazing husband is also a huge fan of yours. He's seen two of your shows.

Well, I guess that helps a little. So you're going to run the Hinckley Hills again tomorrow with Iron Johnny? Don't you know there's supposed to be snow and freezing rain?

Yes, I'm aware of that Eddie. A little rain/snow doesn't stop me. What are you, a wimp?

Me?'m from Seattle, remember?

Yeah, of course. Well, Eddie, I'd really better be heading to bed. Gotta get up early to hit those hills tomorrow.

Okay, TriSaraTops. Have a good run and thanks for buying my tickets.

Sure, Eddie. See ya in May!


Friday, March 24, 2006

My foundation, Volume 1

Okay, so I'm blatantly stealing from Eric here...he does this great thing every Friday called "Friends and Family Friday" and it's fun to see! So I'm not nearly as disciplined nor can I think up such a catchy I'm going to do this whenever the mood strikes me (probably not weekly, but hey, who knows....maybe more than weekly--I sorta fly by the seat of my pants on this thing). I'm going to call it My Foundation. These people are the things that have grounded me and made me who I am. They've influenced me and helped me get this far, and for various reasons they are helping me get to Ironman MOO. Figured the least I could do is thank them and give them some props. :)

So Volume 1 would have to be my best friend and husband, Matt. Sometimes in life you never know how things will end up. Our first date would occur in 1992 when he came to a band festival to ask me to Homecoming (yes, I was a band-geek and proud of it). He actually paid $5 to get into the stupid thing just to ask me out.

But the funny thing is we remained friends. We never actually dated...well, not until 2001, that is!

Now I can't imagine life without him. He is a great support for me as I tend to be a *teensy* bit type-A and can worry/stress out a bit. :) (That's putting it mildly) This guy is the epitome of calm. I rarely see him get worked up about anything, which is good, since I sometimes get worked up about nothing. Sometimes, I'll be freaking out about something: work, hill repeats, how-am-I-ever-going-to-get-in-a-4-hour-brick-this-weekend?, cleaning the bathroom, chopping a tomato, who knows what else, and he'll just make me laugh because he's so calm in the face of my temporary insanity. It's great because he makes me realize that life just isn't so serious, you know? Sometimes you just gotta take a deep breath and roll with it.

He loves adventure--that's why HE'S the mountain biker, and I'm the roadie. He introduced me to backpacking and I really have fallen in love with it. We are so excited to backpack the Grand Canyon in less than a month! We've had lots of fun adventures backpacking and hiking, like this one in West Virginia last August. It's amazing how relaxing it can be to lug a 25 pound thing on your back--who knew? :)

He's a phenomenal athlete, too. He's got this quiet sense of athleticism. You never see him bragging about how good of a soccer player he is, or how he was recruited by several Division I schools for football. In fact, not many people even know that. He's got a real classy and quiet style of leadership that draws people to him as he coaches his high school soccer team, too.

So thanks to Matt, for being there to support me, to laugh with me, and to calm me down and make me laugh at myself. I'm so excited to share my first Ironman with him and couldn't do it without him at my side supporting me through this slightly insane journey. I'm a lucky, lucky girl!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

my what a difference a day makes....

Feel much better today!

I got all the crap on my long list of things to do done by 8:00pm yesterday! Yay! I THOUGHT for a minute that MAYBE I could watch 24....but then I remembered that 24 makes me all fired up and unless I wanted to swim on 3 hours of sleep, I'd better stick to my game plan of taping it. Then I watch it while on the trainer Tuesday afternoon, where it is GOOD if my heart rate is up.

Forgot to mention in yesterday's frustration that I had a kick-arse run on the Hinckley Hills on Sunday with my buddies Silent Bob and Iron Johnny. We did 12 miles and negative split them, to boot! We did them about 30 seconds FASTER than I did them last year in Flying Pig training...but my effort felt the same, so I guess that's a good sign!

Okay, back to today: I woke up at 5:05 and had a really good night's sleep. Good thing I passed on 24. :) Headed to the pool. MAN, was it crowded! I felt like the first one at the party and the last to leave today, as lots of people would get in for 10 minutes swim or thrash around, and get out.

I tried to just stick to my line and follow my set. I had some warm-ups and drills, and then some 600s at varying speeds. One older gentleman squeezed in between me and another guy. Hey, it's all good....gotta do what you gotta do in this Y pool, so I don't mind when people cram a bit.


That fired me up a bit and I negative split that 600 BIG TIME.

(he eventually did apologize, and then I felt like an arse for getting all P.O'ed in my mind)

Anyway, before my last set one guy that had been next to me for a while got out while I was resting and payed me a really nice compliment about my swimming. It was so nice that I'm too embarrassed to even mention it. I was flattered and told him thanks and that he made my day! I felt like Summer Sanders for about 7 seconds.

Okay, back to reality.

Pumped out the last set and cooled down. Did 3500 yards again and felt like I could keep going and going and going! That's a good sign.

But alas...that whole work thing just gets in the way. :) Good thing my school is very understanding and good thing I have 1st period planning!

Tonight it's 1:15 on the trainer: just me and Jack Bauer, then my iPod shuffle...and then back to the gym for some weights!

Balance, balance, balance. It's comin'. I'll get there. :)

Monday, March 20, 2006

this is hard.

Uhhhh...Huh huh. I just said, "hard."

(Sorry--that's my inner 15 year old Beavis and Butthead talking)

I know that I'm preaching to the choir hear, but this is hard.

Really hard.

I really try to stay upbeat as much as possible, but I'm having one of those days--or few days, I guess. Where I am very overwhelmed. Where my head is spinning because I'm trying to figure out how to fit it all in.

Last night when I was plugging all my workouts into my palm pilot, I stared at the screen and felt my heart racing. Gotta go to a faculty meeting Thursday--push that afternoon workout later than I want. Gotta be ready to paint the town with my buddy's bachelorette party late on Saturday--move my long run to Friday after work. Geez, Sara, you know how tired you are on Fridays. Do you really think you're going to have a good run? And your friends called to say they haven't seen you in a while and can you do Friday evening--and you already told them yes. Will they understand if you're late and even MORE tired? You told your friend you could meet her for dinner tonight because it's your rest day, but since it's your rest day you also try to do the laundry, mop the floors, vacuum, go to the bank/post office/grocery store, and send the check for the sweet Historical Vietnam GIJoe you just won on eBay....gotta call the Model UN guy....gotta call the WWII Vet to come speak to my classes.....Matt is very stressed with the work situation so he's helping with as much as he can but boy is the laundry still piling up...

Oops. Forgot to eat lunch. Quickly run to the store and grab some soup.

Now, what was I doing?

I'm realizing my "rest" days are becoming a little too hectic. I need to let go.

I need to let the house be a little messy if that's what it takes. Who really cares, besides me, if the coffee table has some dust?

I need to trust my friends understand that I really want to see them but I've gotta plan this well in advance, and it's not because I don't love 'em. And even then sometimes I might be late--or dog tired.

I need to let this negative energy go.

I know that Spring Break will be here soon and I am looking forward to my week in Arizona and my backpacking adventure. That will help. March is always a tough time of year for me...the weather is not so good and the kids are not so motivated at school. Sometimes, my end seems so far away from the means...September 10th is really not that far, but sometimes when I look at my schedule I get so overwhelmed. It reminds me of when I was in graduate school and teaching full-time. Every once in a while I'd have a momentary freak out and just want it to be DONE. How, I thought, can I possibly do all this?

The answer is, I can't. I need to rely on others and accept that I'm not superhuman. Sometimes, some things gotta give.

I need to remember the BIG picture here. Every little thing I do gets my body ready for IM MOO. (there's a little mantra!) But I can't do everything I want/need to do without there being about 37 hours in the day.

I can prioritize. I can do this. One thing at a time.

And now it's 3:45 and I made it through the school day--whew--and I just so happened to look on the bulletin board by my desk where I put good quotes, pictures of classes from years past, and other random stuff. This quote by TR caught my attention:


Welcome to the arena.

Friday, March 17, 2006

why does blogger hate me today?


Having trouble logging on all day! Finally I'm here. SOOOO excited it's Friday. This week has been a long one, as I had to get up REALLY early (okay, it's early for me--for some of you this is standard operating procedure) for the past 4 days. It was worth it though--got all my workouts in and I'm feeling pretty good.

Yesterday's workout had to be done starting at 5am--which means I had to get up at 4:50. FOUR FREAKING FIFTY. Those of you who knew me in college know that I sometimes could, if need be, sleep until 2pm. DaisyDuc and I sometimes had a REALLY hard time making it to the dining hall for "brunch" on Saturdays by ONE-THIRTY.

Who is this TriSaraTops and what has she done with the old Sara?

(that's OK--I kinda like this TriSaraTops character better, anyway)

So on my workout yesterday I did an hour spin at 5am. I realized that the local news at 5am is really my only option, and they have about 3 stories that they run over, and over, and over again. Whew. Glad that was done.

Then, I headed out for a 45 minute run. This was at 6:24am. The sun was pretty much up, and since I had been riding for an hour, I was wide awake. The funny thing is, the rest of the world was NOT awake. It was really odd. No cars. No people. No traffic. Just me, running along. I felt like I was the only one in on a secret or something.

It was, oddly, pretty cool.

When I was running through my city, which, coincidentally, is also my hometown, the City Hall and High School were both on my route. They both had huge messages on their signboard that said:

Welcome Home, Dave Zastudil Class of '97
Cleveland Browns
We Are Proud!

The funny thing is, that I actually know this guy. He was 2 years younger than me, but my best friend dated one of his best friends way back in the day, so I would run into him sometimes around school and stuff. And, he was just the NICEST guy, from what I remember. A lot of high school athletes were really cocky and just plain jerks. Not to mention their parents, sometimes--who could be even worse! The whole my-kid's-gonna-be-a-pro-football/basketball/baseball/curling/insert sport here/champion-someday eventually rubbed off on the kid and made them often mean and nasty.

My brother experienced this a lot more than I did, as, let's be honest, there aren't a whole lot of professional women's fastpitch major leagues out there. It really affected my brother's outlook on sports, too...and that's when he started running. It was so supportive--such a NICE group of kids. See, you can't talk about how that clock isn't right and how the ref must be blind and can't you see that hold? when you are running cross country. It's you, the clock, and the course. No exaggerations. No lies. No bragging needed. Your times spoke for themselves. From my experience, it really just attracted a whole 'nuther kinda student than some of the other teams did. I was always really impressed with that, as a fan of my brother's and a spectator at the races. I think I would have liked that sport in high school, but I thought running more than around the bases was impossible.

I continue to be impressed with that--and with this sport. I truly believe this is the most supportive sport there is--and the most physically and emotionally fulfilling, too.

But I gotta say congrats to Dave--and welcome home. Couldn't of happened to a nicer guy.

Maybe I'll have to get myself a Browns jersey this year....and maybe we can win more than 5 games....! :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

find a penny, pick it up....

...all day long you'll have good luck.

Or somethin' like that.

I've never been huge on luck. I like to think that some things are left to chance, but to me, preparation is always better than relying on "luck." This is perhaps why I don't play the lottery or gamble much in poker (unless I'm gambling food, say, M&M's....that's a different ballgame).

So today I found a penny outside in the parking lot as I walked to my car to get my workout clothes for today's run. Rather ironic, I thought. I picked it up and put it in my pocket.

I had a great time teaching today--sometimes things just click and I feel like today was that day. On these kinds of days, I don't focus on the lack of a budget, the fact that my World History books were printed long before my curriculum stops and are falling apart but I need to make them work for at least 3 years, my student who got arrested again yesterday for dealing, the mandated state graduation tests my sophomores are taking, or that annoying union guy who always bitches in the lounge. Today, I was in the zone. The kids were awesome. The lesson clicked. We had a great discussion. I saw the proverbial light bulbs. We joked about the "Ides of March."

I love it when that happens.

I quickly changed into my running clothes when the bell rang at 3:08. Before I knew it, I had gone from being "Mrs. Z" to TriSaraTops. I walked out of the building into a perfect running day--for me, that is. My ideal conditions. Sunny, blue sky, very little wind, and 40 degrees.

I love it when that happens.

On today's docket: 60 minute run with some hill repeats, and a half hour of weights. I had to do it fast, since I had to help judge cheerleading tryouts at 6. Here we go. IPod Shuffle on: first song: U2's Beautiful Day. Headed to the Metroparks to do some repeats on a gradual but nice and long hill. The iPod read my mind again as Guns N' Roses pumped in my ears, along with some Pearl Jam, Pantera, Naughty By Nature (kickin' it old school with that one), Rage Against The Machine, Tom Petty, the Postal Service, and Smashing Pumpkins. When I needed to go up the hill the songs seemed to be fast and hard. When I was recovering down, they slowed down a bit. I felt so good that I even did an extra hill repeat.

Man, I love it when that happens.

Did some weights at the gym on my way home and felt really strong--you know, that feeling you get when the sets you usually do seem a little easier? For some reason I had that today. Things just seemed to flow and I was done before I knew it.

Headed home, hopped in the shower, and went back up to school to judge round one of cheerleading tryouts. As I walked in the wrestling gym, where the girls try out, I looked up on the wall. There was this really cheesy 80s-style big painting of a guy pinning some other guy. Written next to it, in some old paint, it said, "The Harder I Work...The LUCKIER I Get."


Drove back home, and the sky was a gorgeous blue/green/yellow mix. I looked at the clock. 7:02, and it's not pitch black.

I LOOOOOOOVE it when that happens.

Now I'm at home, ready to enjoy the evening with my 2 boys--Mugsy and Matt. Tomorrow morning will be an early one since I have to help with tryouts for 3 hours after school. I'll be on the bike at 5 for an hour ride and then a 45 minute run after that. But for some reason I'm not dreading it as much as I would have back in November. I keep thinking of how good it will feel to get to work having accomplished my goals--that Mrs. Z will get to her room and TriSaraTops will be secretly smug at her secret IM morning's accomplishments.

So was it this penny I have? I don't think so. But everything just seemed to click today.

You gotta love it when that happens.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Somethin' to think about

Rest day, I heart you.

But why must you be 66 degrees? Can't that be later this week? Hey, I'll take it though. Mugsy, Matt and I enjoyed the weather today even if I didn't do a workout. :)

Work was insanity today. Kids are taking state-mandated proficiency tests (ugh) and in general it's not much fun, for them and for us. So I did some classic running-around-like-a-nutcase this morning but managed to get all my stuff done. Whew! I feel quite tired today and I didn't even do any IM related stuff. Guess that means a rest day was needed! This weather has me feeling some spring fever BIG TIME. Which leads me to the following...

So a post on the Cleveland Tri Club forum was pretty cool. It asked who was the greatest sports influence on you, and why. It sort of got me thinking. I couldn't really narrow it down so I picked three.

In no particular order, my three are my dad, my mom, and my high school softball coach. My dad got me interested in baseball at a young age because he loved it so much and he used to play. I remember watching his games in the summertime when I was a kid and thinking how cool it must be to be on a team. Some of my best memories are from the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Although it was a pit (both the stadium and the Indians in the 1980s), the experience of the game really got me interested.

My mom is inspirational because she took charge of her health and became extremely active within the past few years. She goes to Jazzercise several times a week and now has really gotten into running, too! I think she could kick every mom on the block's butt. :) It's really cool to see her progress in her fitness and training and just awesome to see her out there racing her heart out.

My softball coach is one tough guy. He wrestled for a college team back in the mid-50s. He is a phenomenal athlete himself, and a very tough, old-school kinda coach. You put your blood, sweat, and tears into that field for him and then put some more out there. He really instilled a sense of discipline into me that I definitely carry with me now. I remember hours after hours on end, pitching into a brick wall. The duct taped square was my strike zone. I would pitch entire "games" on that wall, and in the winter I moved to the gym. I wasn't the greatest pitcher out there by far. But I was willing to do what he needed me to do, and eventually became the closer. I always kind of liked that role, and really pay attention now in the Major Leagues to the "closers."

In a seven-inning game, I was often called in during the 6th inning, with the bases loaded and nobody out. Sometimes I inherited a 3-0 count. What he helped me learn was that with hard work and lots of practice, I could trust my abilities to deal with whatever pitch came next. Sometimes you got the call. Sometimes you didn't. Sometimes you struck out the side and were the hero.

Sometimes you watched the ball sail over your head and felt the tears well up, because you knew no one would say it was your fault, but you felt them thinking it.

Sometimes the ball would go flying into your face and break your nose.

But I digress.

So basically, I got to thinking. (Scary, I know.) How often in life have I felt like I've been thrown into the end of the game and inherited someone else's mistakes? How hard is it to overcome feeling scared because one small slip could cost you everything, and to trust yourself and just let go of the ball where you know it goes? How frustrating is it when you throw a perfect curve and don't get the call?

How does this relate to my training?

The brick wall is now my bike. The strike zone is my stroke. The fastball is my running. I know that I'm putting in hours and hours on end and working harder than I have ever trained in my life. There are things I can't control. Humidity. Weather. A flat tire. I know that these uncontrollable factors (and undoubtedly some that I haven't even thought of) will face me in September. Is it fair? No. Is it scary? Yes.

Am I a closer?

Hell yeah.

I need to remember where I've been to help me get where I'm going. I've had a lifetime of practice for this day, just not where I would have expected. I need to trust in the hours I've put in and the isolation of throwing the ball against the brick wall for 9 months. I can do this.

But, of course, the more I throw that ball, the better chance I have of being mentally and physically prepared to strive for a perfect game.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Me, Curly Su, and Coach Kurt coming up the hill (Kurt for a second time!) to make the turn to the end! Notice my smile--I'm feelin' great!...this is approximatly 20 seconds before I almost HURLED FOR NO REASON!!!! What the HECK??!!!!! :) Posted by Picasa

Me, DaisyDuc, and her buddy who ran her first road race today! Posted by Picasa

My Mom and I before the St. Malachi 2 miler and 5 miler! She did AWESOME in this race!!! Posted by Picasa

A fun day! But pardon me while I puke up some peanut butter...

Sooooooooo much fun today!!!! DaisyDuc absolutely rocked the Malachi 5-miler! And my MOM did awesome in the 2 miler! I managed to keep Competitive Sara (CS) at bay....she was definitely knocking on my brain at the starting line, but I knew I was going to ride with Su after the race and wanted to save a bit for that! AND-it's not PR year. It's IM year. Repeat, repeat, repeat. (See I just have to keep saying that :)

So my goal of running under 45 was very doable. A little hard mentally since I know I can technically run faster but that's not for now! (IM year, IM year...must focus!) Set out to see if I could hold a tempo pace for a few miles to see how it went. Mile 1: 7:55. A little too fast for my goal, but lots of that first mile was downhill, so it didn't feel very hard at all. Mile 2: 8:16. Better. I thought, hey, this ain't so bad! Maybe I could hold this for a while.

Then the side cramp hit. Ugh. NOT so fun. Slowed down a bit which was OK with me, since there was a long but gradual hill at this point. Stupid cramp just didn't want to go away! (Good thing CS wasn't there in full effect, or she'd be really mad and probably let that ruin her day.) Mile 3: 9:02. OK. Not great, but this cramp was NOT fun.

Right around now Su who was being a running bandit found me! :) This was good because the cramp was really cramping my style. (hee hee) It made a big difference to have someone there to help get my mind off it! Mile 3: 9:01. Found Speedy Angie who was also suffering from a nasty cramp and she ran with us for a bit. Cramp finally started to go away when we saw Su's coach Kurt (who had been done for about a half hour at this point:) and I had a half mile left. Great! It finally leaves at 4.5. Just my luck. :) But I felt great and could hear the music! My dad was at the bottom of the final hill and snapped this picture about 1/4 mile from the finish. It's a 1/4 mile or so climb to the top, but not too bad...Dad took a picture of us that blogger won't UPLOAD for some reason--I'll try again later--and you'll notice me smiling???????!!!!! I felt great!!!!

I say that because about halfway up the hill, for NO REASON AT ALL--I wasn't even going FAST for crying out loud!---I almost PUKED UP MY PEANUT BUTTER TOAST.

Like, felt it come UP the chute.

Is this what I get for not having my typical Clif Bar? But I used to have peanut butter toast when I did lots of 5Ks! I don't get it! Thought for a minute I was going to lose my breakfast all over some innocent spectator and his dog. My face must have been hysterical--as I grabbed my mouth and widened my eyes--WHAT THE HECK IS HAPPENING?????!!!!! AAAGHGHGHGKLAJRKL;SJDKFLSA!!!

So I stopped. Like, 20 yards from the finish. Held my hand over my mouth and WALKED--WALKED!!!-- to the finish chute! DaisyDuc was cheering me on saying, "Come on, Sara, you can do it!!!" And I was like, "No dude, you don't understand--I almost puked."

She looked confused. :)

For some reason, I then felt the need to explain to a bunch of puzzled spectators, who were yelling "The finish line is RIGHT THERE!", that "I almost puked peanut butter."

So I made it! But what the HECK???????? It is kinda funny--again, good thing I'm normal Sara and not CS (although Zeke said she called him and told him she'd be racing--ha ha) The weird thing is I felt FINE at the end! Not even that TIRED!!! I burped randomly for like 20 minutes, but I did not vomitar. ????????????

Anyhoo, what would have been around 43:50 turned into (I think?) just under 45! Far far far from my PR, but OK for now!

So technically, we'll call that achieving my goal. But what is that?????!!!! That's NEVER happened to me before, even in a REALLY REALLY HARD race--let alone in one I didn't do that hard! Soooooooooooooooo bizarre.

Anyhoo, drove back home with the 'rents and Su came over so we could go for a RIDE!!!!!! OUTSIDE!!!!!!! NOT ON MY TRAINER!!!! It was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo nice to get outside. No amount of "o's" can emphasize that enough. It was kind of strange to have tired legs on the bike and fresh legs on the run--very backwards! But we had a nice ride that was probably around 22 miles? My dumb computer wasn't working right. Even a few hills thrown in there and we made it fine! Woo hoo!

So that concludes my day of fun for now--going to have some fun tonight, but not until I take a shower for cryin' out loud. No one would want to be near me at the moment.

Chalk up one victory for Rational Sara over Competitive Sara. I owe a lot of that to my buddies! :)

Friday, March 10, 2006

karma karma karma karma karma chameleon

On today's docket: 3000 yard steady swim.

Um, does that mean without stopping?

Crap, I think it does. I've never swam 3000 yards without stopping. I've done 3000, done 3500 even, but always as a group of sets.

*pauses to do the math in my head*

Gulp. That's 150 laps in my 20 yard pool.

Well, better get to it.

It says steady. I'm gonna take that as meaning not too easy, but not too hard--a pace I can hold for 3000 yards.

Holy schneikies. What pace CAN I hold for 3000 yards?

This should be interesting.

My workouts during my years of swimming consisted of HAMMER, HAMMER, HAMMER. 50, 50, 50. 100. MAYBE 200 here or there. FASTER! FASTER! FASTER OR YOU'LL BE SWIMMING A 500 FLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When I got in "trouble," my coach made me race something that wasn't a 50 or 100. That usually shut me up.

So this has been an interesting journey as I'm trying to turn into a "distance swimmer."

Got in the water. Deep breath. Here we go.

I decided I'd break these into 3 sets of 1000, but not STOP at the end, just take my lap time. First one felt allright. I felt like I was getting a decent reach in the water. Just kind of moseyed along at a relatively comfortable pace. Lap 48, 49, 50.

Beep. 19:38.

Hey, not bad. Uh oh, here she comes. Competitive Sara.

I bet you can negative split these.

CS, get outta here. This isn't a race. Plus, I've never gone this far without stopping.

Are you saying you can't? Wimp.

OK, fine...but you'd BETTER not show up tomorrow at the St. Malachi Race. You are NOT WELCOME in my head there.

We'll see about that.


Then pick it up, slowpoke.

Tried to focus on my glide and reach. Kept feeling pretty good, like my rotation was working. 48, 49, 50.

BEEP. 19:14.

CS: Better. But I bet you can go faster.

Cut it out, jackass! I'm ignoring you.

No you're not.

*sigh, with bubbles* No, I'm not.

I can do this. I'm getting tired, but I can do this. My goggles were starting to push against my eyes pretty hard. Must get new goggles....

Some people began to leave the pool at this point, done with their workouts. Not me...kept on keepin' on. When I hit lap 30 of round 3, I started thinking to myself, "glide. glide. glide." with every stroke. REACH....high elbow...come on...

44. I started to pick it up. Only 6 more.

Holy crap, that means I've swam 144 laps.


CS: Go! Go! Go! Move your arse!

50. BEEP.



Did I just do that last 1000 faster than I did my 1000 time trial 2 weeks ago?

Um, yep. I did.

And was this 1000 after already swimming 2000???!!!

Yep. It was.

Interesting. It appears I am changing to fit into my surroundings.

Kinda sweet. :)

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Hello, running shoes.

Hello, buds.

Haven't seen you lately.

Well, that's because you've been covered with snow and ice. Aren't you a little early?

Nope. I'm right on time.

On time?


But it's only March 8th. You know there is more snow to come--at least one or two more storms, right?

I don't care.

That's a little brazen, isn't it?

Nope. I'm tough enough.

You're just a bud. How do you know if you're tough enough?

There's a flower in me someday. I might look small and weak now, but that's just because you're underestimating me.

Well, aren't you the sassy one.

No, I don't mean to be sassy--I'm being serious. I've been here all winter laying low--you just didn't know it. You didn't pay attention. While you were doing other things and running all over the place, I've been here. Planning. Building up my strength. And getting ready.

Getting ready?

Yeah. To be a flower.

But you're not one yet.

I know. But I will be.

Aren't the odds against you a bit? I mean, you are sprouting up about a block away from Lake Erie. Ever heard of "Lake Effect Snow?"

Baby, I live for Lake Effect Snow. Bring it on. I'm a perennial. Throw anything at me, and I'll come back. It might take me a little while, but I'll make it. Every year I get a little stronger, bigger, and more colorful.

And that's what makes you a flower?

That's what makes me a PERENNIAL. I come back year after year. I even surprise myself, sometimes.

Well, I'll believe it when I see it.

That's fine. You keep on going about your business, running around and doing your thing. While you're doing that I'll be getting bigger and stronger. Let's be honest: you're only good for 300-500 miles. I can outlast you.

You're talking some serious smack, buds. But, it's only March 8th!

I live for March. This is a new beginning, shoes. Every spring's a clean slate. This is my year--I can just feel it.

Okay, buds. Good luck with that. But I don't know...I think you might be a little crazy...

The best ones always are.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

recovery week, I heart u


Recovery week. Joy of joys. It's nice to bust your tailfeather for a while, but equally nice to back off and have a week with lower volume and a little less intensity!

I never thought I'd see the day when 2000 yards in the pool made me feel like I was slacking off. WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ME???

I was like, "That's it? I'm done?"

Pretty exciting. I did all of them at a nice easy pace, even threw in some backstroke, breastroke, and pulls, and still managed to finish about 2 minutes faster than my average 2000 yard workouts which felt very long this summer.

Geez, this whole training thing must be working.

Signed up for the St. Malachi 5 miler this Saturday! Any other C-Towners in? Looks like we're hitting 60 FREAKING DEGREES by FRIDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am sooooooooooo excited. See, I know that you guys in warm climates are like, yeah, we have that every day...but Midwesterners REALLY get EXCITED when it finally hits 60. I think it makes you appreciate spring so much more. :)

So the race should be fun, but I'm really not doing it to break any records--it's just sort of a rite of passage to Spring in Cleveland, so I figured why not? It's a recovery week and I don't need to worry about missing a long bike ride, but this way I can do kind of a tempo run and maybe hit the bike after!!! If it's sunny and 60, you'd better believe my ass is on the bike and hitting the road this weekend. So I am already preparing myself to BACK OFF and not focus on PR'ing at this race! Repeat after me, self: This is just for fun. This is not your short-course PR year. This is IM year. You can PR later.

I must repeat 10 times daily. ;)

My PR on the course is 40.02 (blasted hill got me in the end! wanted to break 40) but logistically I'd be quite satisfied to do anything under 45 at this point. Then, I'll meet up with the other peeps at the beergarden afterwards--talk about a fun post-race party!

Tonight I am off to YOGA with Puma the Yogamaster--she is awesome. I haven't been to class in a while and thought it would be a good week to go.

So the sun is a shinin' and I feel very relaxed...I have earned my week, so it's time to get on it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Why Coach Kara rocks, and my mojo's back!

This is why Coach Kara is ssooooooooooo awesome. She's been saying this to me for 3 years. She's such an expert and so supportive, too. Glad to have her around for all the crazy questions I have thrown at her over the past 3 years!

So we stayed up until 4AM on freaking SATURDAY....ugh....great for my long run, I thought. It was so fun, but somehow my friends Trevor and Rob's dual surprise 30th b-day party ended up with playing Euchre at our house!!!??? Matt was really happy to have his buddies all in town though. They don't get to see each other much. So they had to party it up. :)

Got up after 5 hours of very bad sleep, said bye to Tina and Trev, and then tried to get ready to run. I had a 90 minute on the docket, and had very low expectations. I guess some of the best runs happen when you expect the least.

I just felt like I was flying along--like the wind was at my back no matter which way I ran! It was chilly, but sunny, which I love. Had the iPod all juiced up and some Clif Bloks and gu, and just said I was going to run what "felt" relatively easy. I've been leaving the HR monitor at home since I got sick, as it was really effing with me. So I ran easy enough that I used robreddy's little suggestion of being able to whistle.

Before I knew it, I had run 9.3 miles at an AVERAGE PACE of 9:36!!!! I SWEAR it felt easy!!!!!! I could whistle the whole time, although people probably thought I was a freak. :)

This is the same route I had done before but could only finish part at almost a 12 minute pace about 2 weeks after I got pneumonia. There's something to be said about RECOVERING right and RESTING, I guess! One more reason why Coach Kara rocks.

So I'm in a recovery week this week--yay! I'll be heading to yoga tomorrow after a swim in the morning.

Congrats to Su, DaisyDuc, Elizabeth, Eric, and BuckeyeRunner on their great races this weekend!

Friday, March 03, 2006

things I wish I knew

Things I wish I knew before I did my first sprint triathlon:

1. That it's good to get there early, but it's really not necessary to get there at 5:30am when the race starts at 8....and you're the first car in the entire parking lot

2. That tri is best done with FRIENDS--thanks, TriShannon!

3. That open water swimming is NOTHING--repeat, NOTHING--like swimming in a pool
a. Perhaps this would have helped me to know as I went full speed ahead, just like in the pool....and ran into a BUOY WITH MY HEAD
i. and make sure that your goggles case you hit a buoy with your head

4. That mountain bikes really aren't that fast, no matter how hard ya pedal

5. That at mile 2 of the run, some really fit-looking girl with a 6-pack stomach flew by me and said, "You go, girl" as she passed me--wait, she just passed me and ENCOURAGED ME? What kind of wacked out sport IS this? When you strike someone out, you don't smile and say, "That's OK, maybe you'll hit me next time." This was strange to me, but in a good way

6. Adding to #5: That triathlon is the most supportive sport out there--it doesn't matter what your skill level or how fast OR slowly you just matters that you are there giving it your all, and everyone is there to help you cross that line

7. That despite finishing 3rd from last in age group, within the next year I would start bringing home AG hardware in most sprints that I "tri-ed"

Things I wish I knew before I did my first Olympic-Distance Tri:

1. Wow. That's a LOT longer swim...especially in Lake Erie when the water's REALLY choppy

2. I'd rather not know the bacteria count in the water was at an all time high before I got in it

3. But realistically that knowledge DID make my arse move pretty darn fast

4. Aerobars make a HUGE DIFFERENCE

5. When re-racking your bike at T2, do it quickly, but not SPASTICALLY SO YOU KNOCK OVER AN ENTIRE ROW OF BIKES
a. yep, I'm "that guy"

6. 10K is tough to race...short enough you feel like you need to hammer, but HARD to do so, especially after 24.9 miles on the bike

7. The Great Lakes Escape is a great course, but pretty hard to run on sand dunes

8. But I won some sweet tri-shorts, to make up for my lack of qualifying for Alcatraz

9. But I don't feel so bad because the girl that did is a nationally ranked triathlete and I was honored to even be competing in her presence!

10. That this distance made me wonder if I could do MORE....

Things I wish I knew before I did my first Half-IM

1. That the swim wasn't as scary as I thought....hey, am I actually getting better at this thing?????

2. That the start would be delayed for an hour and a half due to FOG

3. That this would make my run begin at 2:00pm in a bright, sunny, cloudless day of 82 degrees

4. That putting on 30 SPF at 8am doesn't cut it

5. That it's the FOLLOWING MARCH and I still have ridiculous tan/burn lines on my back and legs

6. That I could reach my goal time on the bike, which I really doubted I could do

7. That I did not come even remotely close to reaching my goal time on the run, since I did all my summer training runs at the nice cool hour of 7am....yeah, that's not really what my race-day conditions were

8. That I am proud to say I did not walk at all in the run, and I may have been slow, but I made it

9. That somehow I finished ahead of my amazing running coach who I respect TREMENDOUSLY
a. Ahead only by about 10 seconds though....she kicked my BUTT on the run cuz she's AWESOME

10. That I could shatter my goal of breaking 7 hours

11. That I have the world's most supportive husband and family, who drove 3 1/2 hours just to see me and some even stayed for the end

12. That I did this just 6 days after signing up for IM Wisconsin, and it made that mouse click feel a little bit better

Things I wish I knew before my first IM.....

Hmmmm.......well, you'll have to wait on this one. In the meantime, any IM Veterans out there want to throw in their 2 cents? Or maybe more? :)

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Slug. Ish.

That's how I'm feelin'.

Shoulda known as I tried to walk outside this morning at 5:25 and WIPED OUT on my concrete steps. Nalgene bottle went flying into the neighbor's yard.

Yeah, freezing rain.

Luckily, I wasn't hurt. But I was pretty pissed!

Got to the pool and had a sluggish 3000 yard swim. Did manage to do 2 X 100s in the middle at 1:35 and 1:38...just basically because I needed to prove to myself that despite feeling like a lead toaster (stealing from Wil again--it's just so freaking funny) I could actually move.

Got to school and totally did not get to grade my 9th graders tests yet. I make them do an essay because I think it's important to practice writing and it also requires higher order thinking skills....but they are a pain to grade. I usually have it for them the next day. Looking forward to this conversation:

Me: Um, sorry guys, I don't have your tests done yet.
Frosh: *gasps* WHAT??? But we took them 24 HOURS AGO!!! What could you have DONE in the past 24 HOURS???? Don't you live here in this room????
Me: *In my head...* Well, actually guys, I have done 3 workouts in the past 24 hours, made dinner, slept for 7 hours, tried to unwind and hang out with my husband for a little bit, fell on my concrete steps, made a CD of 12 songs from the Jazz Age for my US History classes, and did a load of laundry since it was starting to crawl all over my house.

*What I actually say* Sorry. I am really busy. I'm only going to get busier from here on out. You guys might have to wait more than one day.

Frosh: BUT---BUT---ugh. *looks of annoyance and frustration*

Oh well. They'll live.

Now I gotta drink some coffee and get back my mojo....gotta do an hour ride today after school and explain to my kiddies in about 8 minutes why they don't have their precious tests....:)