Sunday, July 30, 2006

Seven is NOT my lucky number

Well....I made it.

Not my best outing. Here's why:

1. HR monitor and bike computer are BOTH not working. So I really had to hold to RPE, which on a day that's 91 with a heat index in the high 90s, is not so good. Nothing like that heat index that SLS or Chris had to deal with though....SHEESH!

2. Took my bike into the bike shop for a tuneup this week so my bike would be in top working order for my first century. Yeah, that didn't work so well.

3. My CHAIN LOCKED UP--I mean, pedal goes NOWHERE locked up--SEVEN TIMES. SEVEN.


5. SEVEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I fell hard for the first one, and TriAl at least could help me out a bit as my bike seat was all crooked...but for the other SIX FREAKING TIMES I was on my own.

6. And it only happened on the UPHILLS.

7. So I had to stop in the middle of a hill, get off, and fix it. That's great for the momentum.

8. 7X7 = the approximate amount of minutes that I had NO FLUIDS WHATSOEVER, as our lunch stop was at mile 62, and the NEXT STOP WAS AT 92.7!!!!!!!!!! WTF???? Whose idea was THAT???????? So many people were calling the SAG wagon since they had no fluids--I heard that there were 10 treated for heat exhaustion. Ugh. For the record, it's not a good idea to run out of all fluids when it's 91 and sunny and you're at mile seventy-something.

9. $7.77 = the amount I spent on Subway on my way home for 2 water bottles, a 6 inch sub, and harvest cheddar sun chips.

BUT--I did it, I made it through, and I had a great 30 minute run afterwards. An overall victory, considering I really did keep my cool and my head despite all the rotten things that were going on out on that course today for me. Must focus on the positive!

So lots of frustration about today, and some disappointment about things today that were not even related to my riding, so I will not rehash them--I'm done with that--since I had a great talk with Marie and Wil who helped me put it all in perspective.

Money in the bank, amigos. Money in the bank. The past three days:

4000 yard swim
14 mile run
100 mile ride (it was a little short so I rode a few more at the end) followed by a little under 3 mile run

And now, as Austin Powers would say, I'm spent.

Time to meet my buddies (Weasels softball team) for some pizza! I think I've definitely earned it.

I'm OUT!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Well...they can't all be good, I guess...

Um, hi.

I just got back from a ROTTEN run.

I just couldn't get my mojo together today. Ugh.

Sat in an ice bath for 15 minutes and drank a whey protein recovery drink...I'm really hoping that my mojo shows up for tomorrow's century.

I waited until it was the hottest part of the day ON PURPOSE (okay, that's just sick and wrong, yet necessary) and headed out with the temperature hovering around 90, a cloudless sky, and over 60% humidity.

Usually, this hasn't bothered me TOO much. But today, I dunno. I just couldn't get my groove.

Came back home to refuel and was dripping EVERYWHERE. Sweat all over the place. Even my own dog wanted nothing to do with me.

Then I headed out for another hour, and it sucked, to put it mildly. Gone were my usual "I love running!" feelings, and in came the "are we done yet?" thoughts.

My overall pace was SLOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW and I came in just under 14 miles. Ugh.

At around mile 13, I saw Rob across the street! I thought it might be a hallucination. He crossed the street and ran with me the last mile-ish to my house. I'm really glad I ran into him there, because I just felt like cow manure. He helped me think about something other than feeling like poo.

So, we'll just chalk that one up to some money in the IM heat bank account, I guess? Better I do this now than run early when it's nice and cool and then DIE on September 10th, right? I learned that lesson the hard way for Deer Creek HIM in 2005!

On a lighter note, please please please go over to Jodi's blog and see for yourself MR. TIGHTY-WHITEY MAN from the Musselman HIM. Seriously. WHY? Mr. Tighty, if you're out there, WTF????? Can you please explain what happened? There are so many theories floating around my friends but we really just need to know.

Off to dinner with a friend, and then BED....and my first century tomorrow followed by a 30 minute runoff.

Hopefully it will go better than today! Oh my mojo.....where are you?

Mojo blogger friend, can you loan me some of yours?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

One foot at a time.

When you're staring at the Grand Canyon, you can't really describe the feeling you get.

Pictures never, ever do it justice. Ever.

So when you stare at this thing, and see the miles to go to get to the bottom, and then to get back to the top, it's a little daunting.

See, at the top, there's a TON of people. LOTS of tourists. From all around the world. They come with their cameras and fanny packs and minivans and you can barely hear yourself think because there are so many. You can barely even take a step without accidentally becoming an extra in some random's home video, or making a cameo in their family photo.

This is alright, I guess. It's still a beautiful place. But it's not really where I like to be.

So I headed down.

As you follow the trail into the canyon, you are still with lots of people...for the first mile or so. They are doing ridiculous things like hanging over cliffs to get the best shot. Sometimes they refuse to move over even just a bit as you teeter over the edge with your 30-plus pound backpack teetering your fragile center of gravity. So I try not to get too frazzled by them. Slowly and steadily, I make my way down.

Pretty soon, you realize the people are gone. There's not really one moment where they's more like they just kind of fizzle out until all of a sudden, you look around and realize it's just you and your group of friends.

It's quiet.

It's more peaceful than you can even describe in words.

And you have a long way to go.

To me, down hurts more than up. Down pounds on your knees with every aching step as you descend closer and closer to the bottom--hurrying as fast as you can to beat the sundown.

And then you see it. The Colorado River.

You look up and realize you've made it. Halfway.

You think how few people ever get to see the bottom from this perspective. How it's a small and elite club of people who even make it this far.

And you have a long way to go.

It's easy to relax and underestimate how long the journey is. But this is precisely why many don't make the full journey.

Up takes twice as long. Up, to me, hurt less, but was more of a mental struggle. As hard as I worked and as fast as my legs carried me, I just didn't seem to make it any closer to the top. I got a little frustrated. It's easy to do.

But then, if you look behind you, you see the river getting smaller and smaller.

For me, that made it easier to climb to the top. That 10 seconds or so, when I'd pause to look behind me, and to see how far I'd already come, made it a little easier. It didn't really make the top seem any closer, but it did just make me realize that progress is a good thing.

The last day, when I was very tired...I was out of food, of gels, and I was sick of it all. I wanted a shower. I wanted a pizza. I wanted my bed.

And then, I saw the top.

We were still about 2 miles away, but I could see it--the lodge, the little ant-like tourists running around in slow motion.

I was almost there.

I remember smiling and laughing.

And it gave me the second wind that I needed.

I'm down to 43 days here. For 21 of these days, I'll be tapering. I'm staring at the next 10 days of my training plan and it makes my stomach a little queasy. Just for a second. Then, if I breathe deeply, it goes away.

See, these next 10 days will have the hardest, longest workouts I will have ever done in my life. Back to back. To back.

At first glance, on paper, this is a little daunting.

Okay, it's a lot daunting.

But I gotta remember that I don't like being at the crowded top of the Canyon. I like it better where it's harder to go.

And harder to get out of.

That's why I signed up for this, really.

So I can now see the top. It makes me smile and makes me petrified at the same time. It's still quite a ways away...but it's there.

So hang on here. I'm in the home stretch. Aside from race day, this is going to be the hardest part.

But if I can make it through this part, I can know that not many will have seen what I have seen. Not many out there will have gone all the way down and back.

And that's why I now, more than ever, I have to do what a friend told me is the only thing to do...the only way you really get anywhere...

Just keep moving forward.

this lightning thing is not cool.


So I had a 1 hour ride today and a 3500 yard swim.

Got up and saw the ominous clouds overhead. Had a ton of errands to run. Thought, "No problem. I'll do the errand-running first and do the rest in the afternoon."

Ran the errands. Came home. Still ominous dark clouds overhead.

Arg. Getting annoyed.

Realized that I would not be swimming outside today. The clouds and thunder seemed to roll in every hour on the hour.

OK. Here's what I'll do. I will do my hour ride on the (GULP) trainer. That will certainly be as much fun as watching paint dry, but at least I'll get it in. Then, I will go to the Y that's farther away from me, since they have an hour long lap swim from 8:30pm-9:30 and the Y close to me is only 9:00-9:45.

My plan was perfect.

Except it was still lightening.


I mean, seriously. WHAT is the POINT of having an indoor pool if you have to get out when it is lightening? ARrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggggggggggggggksdjlriwaoepurtwaie

So Y #1 which was farther away wouldn't be available until, at the earliest, 9:00pm and THAT was if no more lightening occured.

So I decided to just head to Y#2, which was closer to home anyway, and get in a good 45 minutes there. It won't be 3500, but it will be OK.

And then, of course, just as I arrived, FLASH! Lightening. Again.

Pool is closed until 9:20.

So now I'm looking at, at BEST, a 25 minute swim when I really needed at least an hour.


I actually found myself thinking, "Just let me in the freaking pool! If I die, it will be all my fault and I'll be dead so I can't sue you! I really need to get this 3500 in because I have 4000's too close for me to be missing workouts...come on, just let me risk dying, OK?"


This is a rather stupid train of thought.

So, what did I do?

Turned around. Headed home. Walked in to see a very surprised Matt, who didn't expect me home until 10. Called my coach and she told me not to worry--that I'm fine, and that in the grand scheme of things this wouldn't matter, and NO, I should NOT double up on swims tomorrow. All of these things I pretty much knew anyway, but it felt better to hear her say them.

And then I cracked open two nice, cold Hoegarden beers, got two frosty mugs, and sat on the porch with Matt to watch the lightening come in off the lake.

You know, sometimes you just gotta chill out.

If you can't beat Mother Nature, you might as well enjoy her.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

People are awesome.

I'd just like to say that.

People rock.

2 days ago I sent out an email, which I'll put below, in order to sort of "dedicate" my IM to something bigger than me. I knew I wanted to do this from Day 1, and have been working with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to try and make it work. A few months ago, I got an email from TriEric about much the same thing--but his plan was to donate to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Like-minded-people, we triathletes are, eh? And I know that many of you: Curly Su, E-Speed, Okolo, Walchka, Kim, and I'm sure I'm missing a bunch more, are all Team in Training people. I've wanted to help Team in Training for a while but they don't sponsor any Ironman Events, so I asked them if I could sort of make my own event here.

Eric had a great idea which I am sort of 'stealing' from him--hope that's OK Eric!--to take names of people who are battling or lost their fight with cancer along with me that day. I did something this for the MS 150 Pedal to the Point in 2003, and when Eric brought it up in his letter, I thought it would be a great thing to do for IM MOO. Sort of keep me in check and keep things in perspective, you know?

OK--anyway, I sent this email out TWO DAYS AGO...and my goal was to raise $1,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

And right now, because people are AWESOME, I'm at $476.00.

I love good people. Thanks to all who have generously donated and given me names and stories of loved ones battling cancer or who are survivors. They inspire ME.

My list, unfortunately, at age 29, is way too long: just my list alone includes 10 people that I know personally who are currently battling or have lost their battle to cancer. I wish I could explain to you how special my Great Aunt Betsy was to me. She was the grandmother I never really had, and she was an amazing and loving woman. To hear the other stories of courage from my friend's loved ones and race with their names really means a lot to me.

Okay, enough rambling. Here's the email I sent out, and I know I'm TOTALLY preaching to the choir here, as so many of you are TNT'ers, but if you'd like to make a donation feel free to click the link in the email. No amount is too small.

And people are really good. Rest assured tonight that with all the bad people in this world, the good outnumber them what seems like a million to one.
Dear friends and family,

As many of you know, I signed up for Ironman Wisconsin last year. A lot of people have asked me why, or if I've had my head checked lately. :) The best answer I can give is that it's been a life dream of mine, and I wanted to see if I could. In a little less than 50 days from now, I'll find out.

The race involves a 2.4 mile swim in Lake Monona, followed by an 112-mile bike ride on rolling Wisconsin country roads, and a 26.2 mile run that ends in front of the Capitol Building in downtown Madison. I will have 17 hours to finish this race. You can see more information about the race here. This is, without a doubt, the hardest thing both physically and mentally that I have ever set out to do. It's been a life-changing experience for me so far, and I'm very lucky to have such a supportive team of my husband, family, and good friends behind me.

Whenever the going gets really tough and I start to wonder if I will be able to cross that line, I am reminded by the constant struggles of people in their everyday life. In the past year, I have been both saddened and inspired by some of my friends and their loved ones who are battling cancer. It has really kept me in perspective--that this race will undoubtedly include pain, but nothing like the pain that fighting cancer can bring. The struggle I will feel at various points on that day is nothing compared to the struggle that I am witnessing some people fight every day.

I just turned 29, but I've seen too many people lose this battle. I knew from the day that I signed up for this thing last September that I wanted to make my race day much bigger than me. I decided I would like to dedicate my race to all that are fighting cancer, and would raise money to help an organization that fights Lymphoma, the blood-related cancer that took my Great-Aunt Betsy's life in 1999. She was an amazing, loving, and enthusiastic woman whom I will never forget.

I am writing to ask if you would help me reach this goal of helping others battling Leukemia and Lymphoma. I will be pushing myself through 140.6 miles on September 10th. If you could pledge just 10 cents a mile, or $14.06, it would mean so much to those whose everyday struggle is infinitely harder than mine will be on that one day.

I'm also collecting names of people that I will be racing in honor of or in memory of. I will put these names on my bike and on my uniform while I'm running. When I'm hurting, I can just look down and see the strength that others have, and I know this will help me get through it. Please let me know if you'd like me to race in honor of or in memory of a friend or loved one!

My goal is to raise $1,000.00 to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I have created a website that makes it very easy to donate, and all donations are tax-deductable. The link for this site is here:

Thanks for being such supportive people--I am looking forward to September 10th with a little fear and a lot of excitement, and I am honored to be able to help make this day about much more than a race!


Monday, July 24, 2006

check me in

I'm addicted to this.

I can't stop thinking about this feeling I get when I'm thinking about this sport.

In a world where there is so much negative...where wars and budget deficits and terrorism and yellow alerts and poverty and hurricanes haunt the six o'clock news every day...this bizarre addiction gives me a little high and lets me be in control of my own world even if it's just in my head.

In a world where sports are king--and by sports, we mean money, we mean the "clear" and the "cream," we mean indictments and disappointments and screaming parents at referees and bitter players...where children don't even want to play anymore because it's not fun anymore...this sport restores my faith in athletics and in my very definition of sport.

In a world where your body is all that matters--where Miss Universe was just yesterday judged by her swimsuit, where I see young girls tanning themselves literally to death, where I think of how much, at age 10, I used to hate the way I looked and how my shoulders were "too big" from swimming--I see strong, beautiful, muscular, confident women triathletes, and I breathe a sigh of relief as I look in the mirror at my freckled-face, bike shorts-tan-line, and swimmer's shoulders.

In this selfish world--where it seems as if everyone is out for themselves, where whomever has the best toys wins, where your bank account is seen as a reflection of your worth--I see so many people giving their time and efforts to better themselves.

People stepping outside of their comfort zone, and jumping into the open water of life. Murky, choppy, and uncharted....and coming out of the water smiling to take on the next endeavor.

Because I love to compete, but more against myself--because I love to watch my friends succeed--because nothing gives me more joy or makes me smile like hearing about a successful race--I am an addict.

I'm an addict because it makes me step outside of my little world--because it scares me and because I don't know if I can do it at times. Because nothing is quite like the sting in your eyes from sweat and sunscreen as you cross the finish line of an event. And even when I fall, when I fail, and when I don't reach a goal, I know that the salty tears of frustration that might roll down my face will lead me to another victory on another day with salty tears of joy and disbelief.

Because there was a time in my life when I was an addict for other things--for insecurity, for self-doubt, for partying to cover up these things--I embrace this addiction wholeheartedly.

I am addicted because this sport has given to me so much...because I am a better person, a better friend, and will someday be a better mother because I have grown from it.

In this uncontrollable and unpredictable world, this addiction gives me a small amount of control in my destiny--of who I am, of where I've been, and of where I'm heading.

And I don't think I can ever give that up.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Congrats to all the Ironman Finishers today!!! both Germany and Lake Placid.

Can't wait to hear all the stories from the two I know, TriEric and Matt, who are both CTC guys.

TriEric--11:15!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AMAZING!

Matt--13:29!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OUTSTANDINGLY AWESOME!

Both of their first IMs.....WOW. They have both trained so hard and it has paid off!

Also congrats to Buckeye Runner, DaisyDuc and Jodi for finishing their first Olympic tris today!

And the Weasels, my beer-league softball team, won both our games against our nemesis team today. What more could you ask for? :)

Life is good....Ironman buddies ROCK!

UPDATE: Monday--2:18pm

Just talked to TriEric on the phone--he feels great and is heading home through NY now with Aimee! He's got lots of good stuff to talk about and will post later!

GO ERIC GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

TriEric is absolutely KICKING ASS at Lake Placid!!!!!!

Bib #71


Bike--averaged 18.99/mph....something like a 5:53 split? I can't remember exactly....

He's running right now so send him some good vibes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't believe I have to go play freaking softball now and I'm going to have to pull myself away from the computer..........aggggggHHHHHkjdkasdfjskajsdlfj!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

"just a ride"

This song was inspired by the Doggfather, aka Mynd-Dogg, aka my buddy Mindy who sent me an awesome mix for my b-day! Thought it was also appropriate as 5 hour rides are becoming less and less scary.

Well, the past 3 days have had the most volume I've ever done in 3 consecutive days....and I feel like a million bucks!


I am totally and completely sold on 1) an ice bath after a very long workout and 2) a whey protein shake recovery drink. I am convinced that's why I feel like I could go run or ride for a few more hours right now.

Here's what I did:

Friday: 4000 yard swim without stopping--completed by being a little sneaky

Saturday: 5 hour ride on hills, 45 minute run--my HR was very low on the hills, and I was excited! Did with my coach and she had some positive things to say about my riding.

Today: 2hour and 20 minute run, HR zone 2 and pick up to Zone 3 last 15 minutes of the run. I was AMAZED at how low my HR was when I headed out at my regular long run pace. Picked it up a bit and still managed to stay in Zone 2...then picked it up to Zone 3 and it was hard to get it that high--I felt like I really had to try! Just a few weeks ago I had to slow down to stay in Zone 2.

So, life is good. Me little heart is gettin' fitter. :)

Not sure what the workouts look like for this week yet, but I do know that my first century ride at the Sweet Corn Challenge is coming up next Sunday! It's on a nice hilly course, so it will be good practice. I'll just be trying to keep the HR low and will probably do a short run-off the bike. And then, I'll be hitting the TONS of sweet corn, barbeque chicken, goodies, massage, and bluegrass band at the finish! (You know you're jealous.)

The bad news is, our annual Team Weasels pool party today was cancelled due to crappy weather. The good news is, it's postponed until I'm in taper! Yay! So I won't have to worry about moving my long brick around again.

So tonight it's probably some poker with the buddies. I have a horrible poker face. I always, always laugh. I try not to bet much. You definitely would not want to take me to Vegas. Unless you want a good laugh.

Tomorrow, the Cleveland Triathlon is downtown--looks like the weather is clearing up so hopefully that will be good news for tomorrow's racers!

And tomorrow, I will be obsessively following my training buddy/pseudo-big-brother TriEric on his quest to become an Ironman at Lake Placid! Good luck to Eric and also to Matt, another Cleveland Tri Club guy, and to all who are racing at IMUSA! I can't WAIT to hear all about it...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Mission: POSSIBLE?

My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to swim 4000 yards without stopping at a steady/even pace.

This is the most I have ever swam in my life without stopping.

I accept this mission.

I go to the local pool late after a thunderstorm blew through, and realize when I arrive at 3:10 that there's a sign that announces, "POOL WILL CLOSE TODAY AT 4:00 ON JULY 20TH FOR SWIM MEET."

Poop. I'd like to think I could swim 4000 yards in 45 minutes, but that's not really my pace.

Must think of something. Fast.

I ask the girl at the front desk, as I'm acting all innocent and trying to play stupid, "Oh no--is today the 2oth?" I smile sweetly.

"Yes. Sorry."

Damn. Silly me approach didn't work. I need to think of something more aggressive.

I walk to the pool lap lane, determined to accomplish my mission. See a younger guard getting the lap lanes ready for the meet.

I smile.

"Hi, um, is there ANYTHING I can do to swim past 4:00 today? How about 4:15?"

Guard looks worried. Guard says that pool must close at 4:00 despite the fact that the meet doesn't start until 5:30.

"Please? I promise I'll blend in. Look, I'm wearing a red suit like you guys...if anyone asks, just tell them I'm a guard." I smile.

Guard sighs.

Guard asks uptight boss.

Uptight boss starts himming and hawing and talking about how some residents might get mad if I'm allowed to swim but they are not.

I feed uptight boss the line about my red racing suit again.

Uptight boss is not buying it.

I joke that I was on this team 15 years ago, so I'm just really late for the warm up. Smile smile. Hee hee. Bad joke.

Uptight boss likes this! He is warming up....

I must offer a deal to diffuse this bomb.

"How about I'll just keep swimming until you tell me to stop? Just flag me down."

Uptight boss assures me he can give me no more than 10 minutes.

"Okay, no problem!" I know it will take me longer than 10 minutes extra to do this. I will just blend in with my incognito lap swimming and see if I can make this work.

1000....2000...2500 (BEEP--horn to exit the pool)

Oh boy. Here we go. If I just keep doing my flip turns fast they can't catch me! Flip, flip flip!

They don't seem to notice. I'm blending in.


Oh no. They've put the lap lanes in and the flags up. They look like they are almost done. Out of the corner of my eye I can see the other team in green suits starting to show up.

Hurry...hurry...time's ticking....



A hand in the water.

"Miss, we're gonna need you to stop now."

I smile.

"Sounds good!"

I hop out. Look at the watch, and am pleased.

Mission accomplished.

My next ride 5 hours tomorrow and then run 45 minutes off the longest brick yet.

You'd better believe I'm accepting this one, too.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Yo, he's my brutha.

Wanted to give a little shout out to a cool guy in my life: Brother Mike. Mike is actually the inspiration for my name, as that little guy LOVED dinosaurs. When I was trying to think of a snazzy little blog name it popped in my head.

Here we are as he displays his outstanding fashion sense. I don't know why he used to wear that thing on his head all the time. Then again, I'm not one to talk here--I used to wear a red bucket on my head and bang an oatmeal canister drum around the house.

Mike is cool for many reasons, but mostly because he just rocks. He gave me the coolest birthday present--check it out! Stupid blogger won't let me post the picture. Arg!

I think if aliens ever come to my house, I'm going to hide in this bag. It seriously could stash me and enough food to feed a small army--and still have room for my gear. I used it in New York and it was perrrrrfect. Thanks, Mike!

See, Mike got all the speed in my family. This guy's got serious game. He won't admit it, or he'll downplay it by calling himself "slow," but in his heydey he was a darn good cross country runner. He was part of the team that finished 4th in the state after taking home the Division 2 title THREE YEARS in a row. In fact, I'm sure if he really felt like it, he could go bust out a sub-18 minute 5K, like, tomorrow. What's your PR, Fartknocker--17:20? Yeah, you sure are SLOW. :)

I keep asking him if I could just "borrow" his sheer running talent, so just once, I could do that. He said he'd let me if I could arrange it. He's still a tremendous athlete, but prefers to lift weights and stuff to get all buff for da ladies and whatnot. He pretty much thinks I'm nuts with all this triathlon stuff. That, and he likes to play NHL '94 with his friends ("It's not me so much, but Roenick...he's good....") and go out and be all 26 and have a social life. Imagine that!

So Mike, you might think I'm crazy, but I really just wanna be you. I remember going to your high school cross country meets and just being in awe of my little brother. Man, he was fast. I never thought I could do what he did.

Who am I kiddin'? I never WILL be able to do what he did. But I can go slow and steady for a ridiculous amount of time, I guess.

So thanks for my b-day present and for being part of my inspiration, Mike! Ladies, he's single and extremely cool. But you must pass my test of approval first. :)

Monday, July 17, 2006

I'm a Musselman!

Not a muscle-y man quite like Hans or Franz.

But--another HIM in my book and a HEEE-YOOOOO-GGGE deposit into my IM bank.

Below is the post regarding my plan for this race. If you read it, you know I was NOT supposed to be PR'ing or really pushing the pace in ANY sense of the word. This was a little hard for SCCS to swallow, but I managed to shut her up most of the time although she popped out a teensy bit on the run--only because I was able to pass LOTS of people and she was excited about that. :)

This race was a QUALIFIER FOR NATIONALS, so, um, the competition was ready to play so to speak. There were some UNBELIEVABLY FAST athletes from around the Northeast, Midwest, and Canada at this race. I was just really excited not to finish in dead last in AG with all the insane competition out there! It was a very professionally run and executed race, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good HIM in Western NY--5 hour drive for Cleveland, 6 hour drive for Boston, and not too far from Toronto!

I will rate my performance in a medium that I am quite used to: The REPORT CARD.


Name: TriSaraTops
Grade: IM Wannabe
School Year: Musselman HIM 2006


This is totally my fault. In Cassie's words, I got sidetracked by the sightseeing at the bottom of Seneca Lake--all those cool zebra mussels and trout! OH MY! One just went swimming by my face! That, and the fact that my goggles leaked on the LEFT socket of my new sweet aquamask, but NOT my right! ARRRRRRRGGGGGGGGG I had to stop every 100 yards or so to empty them out. Tried swimming with my eyes closed. Not so good. Guess I should have tried them out more than 30 minutes before I used them in a race. OOPS.

BUT--when all was said and done finished in about 43? I could have done LOTS better than that, as I didn't push very hard at all and had technical difficulties. A far cry from last year's HIM swim. Oh well. Still managed to pass a few dudes that started in the wave 4 minutes ahead of me, so that's fun. But I did miss the guy Cassie saw that came out of the water in TIGHTY WHITEYS---panicked and went back under the water, then removed his SWIM CAP to cover his exposed self! WTF?!

Comment: Needs to show consistent effort, needs to be more prepared for class

T1: (Pass/Fail grade only) Pass.
I mosey-ed through T1 and tried to lower my HR a bit, grabbed my helmet and glasses, slathered on a bit more sunscreen on my back, and was ready to go. Definitely not worrying about losing a few seconds here. After all, this ain't really a race but rather a niiiiccceeelooooonnnnngggg brick, right?

Bike: B

Man, is it hard to keep the HR low. I mean REALLY REALLY hard. When people are FLYING by you and just picking you off, that totally hurts the ego. Part of that comes with the territory of being a relatively stronger swimmer and weaker biker--your ass is just gonna get passed. :) I tried to just keep in mind my coach's words: "If they fly by you on the bike, you will probably pass them on the run." In my head I just tried to think that but it was a hard pill to swallow, so I tried to focus on the beautiful scenery of Wine Country and the Finger Lakes. The first 20 miles were gradual uphills with a few climbs. I tried as hard as I could to SLOW DOWN, spin up the hill, and keep the HR LOW. Maybe, I thought, if I do this, I'll actually NOT have a death march on the half marathon.

I did NOT drink enough. But I felt like all I did was drink! Arg. I still need to work on that.

Miles 20-40 were downhill....YIPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE gained some speed back here.

40-56 were mostly flat with some rollers. I checked out the cool historical markers as I went by them on the Cayuga Lake. Hee hee. History.

Arrived back in T2 at somewhere around 3:34. Much slower than last year's half, but hopefully that will pay off, right?

Comment: Is improving in this course

T2: Pass
Again, not much to report here. EXCEPT: Once I stepped off my bike I realized how unbelievable hot it was. I knew it was humid, but didn't really feel like it was that hot. ( note: I will soon find out it was NINETY-FOUR DEGREES)

Run: A+

WOW. It's hot. I'm definitely noticing that. WOW. People are now finishing the race and I have a half marathon to do. Sheesh. Sure hope I drank enough on that bike. I hope my slooooowww bike will pay off now. Guess I'll find out.

Mile 1 was a little fast and I had a hard time getting the HR under 160 with the heat. I decided to make peace with high 150-low 160s and go by perceived effort. The first 7 miles, as the race director warned us, were very hard. He said, the night before at the pre-race meeting, that he "didn't want to sugar coat anything....this is hard run course." He showed us the elevation chart. YOWZA. I didn't even look at that one before since I was so preoccupied with the bike! There were some pretty big hills including one of about 200 feet at mile 7. Hopefully the Hinckley Hill training did me well....after mile 7 it was mostly downhill with a few gradual climbs and short spikes.

WOW it was hot. I started passing people like nobody's business. That felt good. People at mile 2 were already walking. I tried to keep the HR in check and not get too excited YET. It was still a long way to go to the finish.

I think I took about 30 enduralytes during the race. Holy schneikies--that's a lot of happy pills. They worked though, as I didn't cramp up at all, and didn't have white salty sweat marks on me when done like I did in Wisconsin.

Walked through EVERY aid station. That cost me time, but I knew I really needed to if I wanted to stay in one piece. Grabbed water, a gel at every 3rd mile, and poured a cup of ice down my sportsbra at every station. When I ran it sounded like I had maracas hiding in my chest. Hey, it worked, so who cares. I'm the maraca-sports-bra-running freak, I guess.

I passed TONS of people on the run. OMG--for once in my life, did I actually run a good long race?

Realized I was negative splitting my half-marathon big time! This made me sooooo excited as I knew that this would be a good indication of whether or not I biked at the right pace for me.

At mile 11, I passed a bank that was flashing the time and the weather: "94 F." I got this HUGE grin on my face. I was negative splitting a half marathon at the end of a half ironman and it was 94 degrees and sunny. It certainly can't be TOO much hotter in Wisconsin. The plan worked, and I did things right! Both my marathons I had to slow down a bit in the last 3 miles, so it was really exciting to me to finish strong. My last mile was 9:45.

Comment: Has great potential in this subject

Overall Time: 6:47

Deer Creek Pineman 2005 Numbers:
Temperature: 82 degrees F, sunny skies, delayed start by an hour due to fog
Course: Mostly flat bike, VERY flat run
Swim: 33 minutes (course was most likely a little short! I can't really take credit for that)
Bike: avg. 16.5 mph
Run: avg. 12:40/mile (I wasn't kidding when I said "death march")
Kind of race: "A" race of season, full 2 week taper, well rested.
Finish time: 6:34
Age group: 7/7

Musselman HIM 2006 Numbers:
Temperature: 94 degrees F, sunny skies
Course: gradual bike climb of 700 feet, challenging, hilly run course
Swim: 43 minutes (BOOOOOOOO I should have done better!)
Bike: avg/ 15.7 mph
Run: avg. 11:04/mile (that's mosey-ing through the aid stations, too:)
Kind of race: "C" race, no taper at all, trained through
Finish time 6:47
Age group: 15 out of 25

So, can I do a faster half? Definitely. BUT--that wasn't the point of this weekend. I am very pleased with my results and excited I was able to do the run that I did. I know that I put some serious IM MOO training in with this heat on this course, and I am glad that SCCS didn't prevail. :) And to be even remotely close with my last year's time--on no taper!--shows that I have made some big improvements. So we'll call that a victory.

I have passed...and it's time to head onto my next grade.....

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Where am I now?

First of all: happiness is.....doing a 2000 yard easy swim--at an easy/steady pace, and looking at your watch when it's done and seeing 36:17. What the heck's gotten into me?!

Okay, second of all, I just got my "race plan" for this weekend's Half Ironman in New York.

Race plan? Seriously...what's that? My race plan in the past has consisted of hammer hammer hammer and try not to die on the run. That's an OK strategy for a sprint or maybe an olympic.

Yeah, it didn't work out so well for me in last year's HIM though. My run was SOOOOOOOOOOO poopy. It was more of a glorified shuffle.

So I'm reading through this thing from my coach, who, by the way, is a MULTIPLE IM finisher, including Wisconsin last year SIX FREAKING MONTHS AFTER HAVING HER SON. So, um, she kinda knows her stuff. I guess I'd better listen to her.

The trouble is that Competitive Sara, or shall I call her "Short Course Competitive Sara," (SCCS for short) is not too happy with the plan. SCCS is great for a sprint or olympic, but I wish she'd get the hell outta here this summer. She's totally annoying. Long Course Sara is much slower, but much more rational. I think she really needs to kick SCCS's ass.

Here's the plan in bold, in a nutshell, and the reactions of my alteregos in italics:

Breakfast: Eat 3 hours before the race, 400+ calories

Swim: Seed yourself properly. You are a strong swimmer, you should be in the 1st row or two of your wave.

SCCS: Now we're talkin'! Woo hoo!!! Hammer time!!
LCS: Um, no. There will be no crazy hammering. She also wrote, "think easy stroke and smooth stroke."
SCCS: Wuss.

Bike: HR Zone 2 +/- 5 beats, so 135-145 for first 40 miles of the bike. For the next 16 miles HR is low zone 3, 145-155. You should always feel like you could ride faster.

SCCS: That's crazy! If you could ride faster, you should.
LCS: Um, no. She also put in bold RED LETTERS, "If it is hot you might want to be a little more conservative....these HR's keep you below your lactate threshhold, so the lactic acid does not start to accumulate in your legs." Need I remind you of what happened at Deer Creek last year? You felt so great on the bike and then KER-PLOOIE on the run. Shut up and do what she says.
SCCS: Wuss.

It will be hard when people go by you, but stick to the plan, it is a long day. Chances are if they go blowing by you, you will see them again and you will be passing them.

SCCS: No one's going by you! What is she talking about? It's a race, baby! You're supposed to blow by everyone!
LCS: HELL-LOOOO??? What are ya, DUMB?!!! Don't you remember ANYTHING???!!! You WERE one of those people last year!! How's about you actually freaking LISTEN this time??!!
SCCS: Wuss.

Run: if it is hot, be conservative, at a pace that feels like you should be going quicker. There is a lot of running to do. Ideally stay at high zone 2 for first half of run. The more you run in zone 3, the more you will accumulate lactic acid....if you feel good in the end and want to pick it up, try to, just remember these HR zones.

SCCS: Pace that feels like you should be going quicker? Yawn. Then go quicker!
LCS: Seriously. I can't even talk to you. I think I'm going to bang my head against a brick wall.
SCCS: You're nuts.
LCS: No, you're nuts.

Enjoy your day!

SCCS: Just win, baby!
LCS: I hate you.

So that's about it. SCCS better not even get in my freaking car this weekend. She is soooo not welcome at this race. This race will really need to be training and nice and slow, so if she shows up, hopefully Jodi and TriAl can help me tape her mouth shut and tie her to a tree or something.

The only thing that has me a little worried is that the first 23 miles of the bike course look like they are mostly uphill, and then downhill from then. I will have to talk to my coach about that and see if that modifies the plan of attack or not.

Forecast for Geneva, NY on Sunday?

90 degrees F and sunny. Oh boy. Here we go.

So, onto New York--in the past 3 weekends I've been in the following states: Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and now New York. My car is starting to get sick of me.

Musselman, here I come!

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Gift

"And now, I'll stop the storm if it rains,
I'll light a path far from here
I'll make your fear melt away
And the world we know disappear." --The Gift, by Angels & Airwaves

So much is swimming in my head right now that I fear that my fingers can't keep up with the thoughts. So I'll do the best I can to try and describe what I'm thinking but bear with me, as it's not gonna be easy. Wil and Elizabeth have posted some great pics so see them for pictures. I'm just going to ramble about what's in my head.

I haven't been able to sleep much or sit down since I got back. I had a great 9 mile run today--I felt like there's a new spring in my step and I actually went a little farther than I needed to. I didn't realize it was time to turn around--I just kept going.

I was really nervous to go to Wisconsin.

See, I knew it would do one of two things:
1. Make me feel better.
2. Make me feel even more terrified than I was before.

For my husband's sake and my sanity, I really hoped option 1 would be the outcome. I've felt pretty good about this thing and really only had major doubts that first time I rode the GCT course, which was 56 hilly miles. I just kept thinking, I will have to do this twice, after swimming 2.4 miles...and then run a marathon.

I came home and just looked at Matt and said quietly, with tears streaming down, "I don't know if I can do this." He knew I was serious.

I've never not known if I could do something before--something I've thrown my heart and soul into for a year.

So I was nervous to head out there. I was going to be with some pretty serious riders--and they were going to RECORD a lot of this stuff for the entire internet world to hear. If I let things get to me, there was no denying it and no secrets.

Would they leave me behind? I hate feeling like I'm holding people back. To me, nothing is worse on a ride than feeling like I'm holding people back. I hate that. That's why I actually like to do a lot of riding on my own.

Before I knew it, Friday morning was here. I had a choppy open water swim with TriEric and a couple other CTC friends, and then it was go time. Elizabeth was at my house and I had to hit the road.

I kissed Matt goodbye and said, "Hopefully I'll be happy when I see you on Sunday." I tried to laugh and so did he but I think we were both worried about what would come.

Wil is every bit as fun and motivating and thought provoking in person as she is online. I knew she would be. I think the two of us felt like we had known each other for years even though we had never really met.

We had a great dinner the night before, and before I knew it, the wake up call rang at 5:50am. It was time to go.

This is it. It's real. I'm in Madison and I'm going to ride this course and see if I can do it.

I was petrified.

I tried to appear calm.

I can't even tell you how amazing these people we rode with are. All the guys--especially Thomps, Stu, and Robby B--these guys could blow us out of the water and lap us, but they were so considerate and nice and just concerned that we had a good experience. They did everything in their power to make us feel at home on the road, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

We started in Verona where the out and back meets the 40 mile loop. We headed into town to the start line.

When I saw Lake Monona for the first time I felt like I couldn't breathe.

We stood in front of T1 where I'll come out of the water and Jumpy decided to interview me for a sound byte on the Zen podcast and I think I sounded like a rambling idiot because I couldn't even contain my excitement. Pretty much all the podcast stuff was full of me being ridiculously excited, so if I ramble that's why.

We then headed back to Verona and I felt great. 30 miles came and went and it was green and beautiful and rolling and full of cows and horses and new friends.

I think this course is going to be good for me because it looks like home--yeah, I live near the city but a little bit of me is a country girl at heart and I love driving out to ride on the country roads.

For the loop, I was a little nervous. Things seemed to be going too well. We had a great pace that was faster than my race pace will be, and I barely felt winded--I felt like I could push much harder. So I set out with my crew to do this loop and waited for these hills I had nightmares about to crash my day's endorphin high.

They never came.

My mind, essentially, had made mountains out of hills. Now, let me explain: it wasn't EASY. Not at all. But--the dropping to 3.2 miles an hour I had prepared for in my head was not there. Maybe it was because I was with such supportive and caring people. Maybe it was the amazing scenery, my nutrition, the cloudless blue sky. Maybe it was because the hills were long, but not as steep. Whatever it was, I went up them smiling. I knew I could do it.

I started to realize I can do it.

When I teach, I have a standard I have to meet involving timelines. The Ohio Department of Education standards say something like, "Students shall put events in chronological order on a timeline and shall be able to explain the significance of these events."

In my life, I have had several defining moments--"turning points," as history books like to call them. They aren't even the biggest events or ones you think would be on my timeline. High school graduation? Yawn. In the scheme of things, it was pretty insignificant if you ask me.

There are things on my timeline you wouldn't really think would be on there. They are not the obvious mile-markers of life, but they are the ones where things really changed.

I think one of the most significant things I've ever done that I would plot on my timeline--something that changed my life and my attitude about it--would be a little trip I took in August of 2001. It was a secret little trip--not many even know it occured--to figure something out and let something go that I should have let go a long time ago. It was probably the best thing I ever did and opened the door for much happiness to come my way shortly thereafter.

When I finished the 40 mile loop, the moment I got back to the parking lot where we started out 70 miles earlier--that's a moment on my timeline.

I can't explain it. I got this rush--this sense that this day coming 2 months from today will still be the most physically challenging day I've ever had, but it will be one that I can get through.

I started to let go of the fear and doubt and mountains in my head that I should have let go of a long time ago.

I've seen the whole course. I can't stop visualizing it. I can't stop thinking about it.

I still will have to go 42 more miles and do that loop again. It will hurt, and it will be hard. And then I'll have a marathon.

And it's going to be alright. Because I've got the most amazing set of friends and family coming to support me, and now some new ones who are doing this too--who know what this is like to give up a year of your life for this goal--who feel the fear, the anticipation, the excitement, and the doubt.

When I ended my undergraduate years at Miami University, the moment that changed me was not when I got my diploma. It was when I packed my car and said bye to Sam and Mindy--the last people I had to say bye to before I headed home.

I finally got in my car to drive home--wondering where in the world my life would go next, and turned the key in the ignition of the good ol' '92 Sable. I drove away with a weird feeling in my stomach and saw them in my rearview mirror. And that's when I finally cried. I knew at that moment that things would be different forever. It was scary and sad and exciting at the same time.

One of my close friends from college, Steph, gave us girls a collage she made with a great quote on it. I have it in front of me at my computer and it makes so much sense to me about this weekend--

"There must have been a time when you entered a room
and met someone and after a while you understand
that unknown to either of you
there was a reason you had met.
You had changed the other,
or the other had changed you.
By some word or deed or just by your presence,
the errand had been completed.
Then perhaps you were just a little bewildered,
or humbled and grateful,
and it was over.

Each lifetime is the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
For some there are more pieces.
For others the puzzle is more difficult to assemble.
And so it goes.
No one has within them all the pieces to their puzzle.
Everyone carries with them at least one and probably many pieces
to someone else's puzzle.
Sometimes they know it. Sometimes they don't.

And when you present your piece to another,
whether you know it or not, whether they know it or not,
you are a messenger from the most high."

My puzzle's not done. It's not even close.

But I got a lot of pieces this weekend. Some I found on my own, and others I got from my new friends.

It'll be quite a while before I sort them all out--hell, I might never sort them all out. But one thing's for sure: things are different now.

I have a lot of work to do. But, I've done a lot to get here. I'm changing, I've changed, and I don't think I can ever go back.

Turning point? Who knows. It usually takes a while for history to sort that out.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


I can't even formulate a sentence about how freaking cool today was.

I'm not kidding.

OK, I'm going to try and talk about it. Deep breath....

short story: (long will have to come when I get home)

Wisconsin is BEAUTIFUL and the ride was AMAZING
Training on the Greater Cleveland Tri Course was a GREAT idea
It was by no stretch of the imagination easy, but it was BETTER than I thought it would be
I feel soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much better now about this thing
Standing at the lake with the transition area around me made it feel like Christmas
Wil, Simply Stu, Elizabeth, Robby B, Run Bubba Run, SLS, Jumpy, and Jeff are SUCH COOL PEOPLE--all the guys we rode with were awesome and gave us such good tips and pointers, and were not even once complaining about going slow--always checking up on us and just being SUPER COOL

Now it's time for mojitos! 2 hour run around the lake tomorrow and then a long drive home....

I heart Wisconsin!

Friday, July 07, 2006

what's your vector, victor?

Roger this--I am so in Madison and I feel like the day before Christmas cuz I'm gonna RIDE tomorrow!

WOW--this is REAL.

4 hour ride with Elizabeth, then another 6 hours with Wil--who just as I thought is pretty much the coolest person in the universe. We did have a minor car accident moment, but just a fender bender. Oops. Lots of laughs on the way up....

Then dinner with Simply Stu and Robby B, SLS and her husband, and Jeff--sooooooo cool! I feel like I'm not quite cool enough to be hangin' with all these cool folks...

OK--gotta hit the hay--tomorrow IT'S ON, BABY! Hills, here I come.....


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day before Cheeseland Ride Time

Heading to WI tomorrow and am sooooooooo excited!

Tribe couldn't pull off a win last night after beating the Yanks 19-1 the night before--but at least I did get on the JUMBOTRON dancing like an idiot in my JERSEY! :) Yahoooooooooo

Really hoping my hubby got me a sweet tri transition bag I've had my eye on....we're opening it tonight with his family so we'll see if he read my mind :) Not that I didn't make it too obvious, pulling a Ralphie from Christmas Story and planting a picture of it in his ESPN Magazine....hee hee

Had a great 12.5 mile run with hubby and IronJohnny in the heat and humidity on the 4th--good training on the hills of Hinckley again! Then drank some Blue Moons and played Cornhole. This is an Ohio/Midwest game involving 2 wooden planks and beanbags, and for some reason is sooooo freaking fun. Then went to see some fireworks and my buddies decided it would be a good idea to (at the little town fair) ride bumper cars under the influence. Good thing you can't get pulled over for that.

For the b-day, slept in, went out to breakfast, read Inside Triathlon in the sun, and then went to the game. What a perfect-o day!

Tonight, a 45 minute run and maybe a little ultimate frisbee for old time's sake--my buddies play up at the lake every Thursday during the summer (we've been doing this since we were in high school--that's like 11 years now--how lame are we) and I haven't been able to play much due to training. I think I'm retiring for the year from beer league softball, which is sad, but with the HIM next week and the riding I'm doing this week and the following weeks, I have been soooooooooooo tired. AND--I took a line drive in the left leg on Sunday. Yeah. Nice and purple. Some poor sucker on the field next to us had his ANKLE TURNED THE WRONG WAY and broke it as he tried to slide into sort of worried me with IM this close and I think I'd better not slide or do anything stupid.

OK--I've been tagged so I'll answer, but I think everyone has already been tagged so I won't tag anyone else and spare you:

Four jobs I've had in my life:

1. tee ball coach--best job EVER
2. flipped burgers at a country club snack bar--possibly an accomplice in sneaking out alcohol in a backpack, but this has never been proven, and if they cared they should have taken inventory and/or locked it up--again, this is just an alleged occurance though
3. reshelved books at King Library, Oxford, OH--usually hid in the history section and read them when supposed to be shelving (yeah, I am sounding like someone you really want to hire, huh?)
4. Teacher, Oak Hills High School, the 'Nati, OH

Four Movies I watch over and over: (do I have to limit it to 4?)
1. Billy Madison
2. Old School
3. Major League
4. Napoleon Dynamite

(I swear I do have brain cells--I just like to laugh)

Four places I have lived:
1. Cleveland, OH
2. Oxford, OH
3. Cincinnati, OH
4. Washington, DC (that's a little bit of a stretch as it wasn't that long, but if I could afford it I'd live there permanently)

Four TV shows I watch:

(I HATE TV SHOWS and rarely watch ANY.)
1. 24
2. SportsCenter
3. maybe something on Food TV
4. That's it, I swear, TV BLOWS

Four places I've been on Vacation
1. Travelled around Germany (Berlin, Hildesheim, Hannover, Freiberg, Frankfurt, Dresden, Potsdam)
2. St. Lucia, West Indies
3. Puerto Rico
4. Lots of National Parks: Grand Canyon, Mammoth Cave, Whitewater rafted the New in WV and will do the Gauley in Sept after IM, Yosemite, Rocky Mtn. National

Four websites I visit:
2. Cleveland Triathlon Club
3. BBC online
4. Chuck Norris (OK maybe not every day, but Chuck is awesome.)

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Graeter's Black Raspberry Chip Ice Cream--hands down the best in the UNIVERSE
2. Nuevo Acapulco Enchiladas--local food I fiend for
3. White chocolate reese's cups
4. Trader Joe's Organic Crunchy Peanut Butter--I put it on pretty much everything

Four places I would rather be right now
1. At the Bright Angel Campground on the banks of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
2. Behind Home plate at Jacobs Field watching Game 7 of the Indians winning the World Series (I might be waiting a while for this one)
3. Somewhere in Italy on a beach
4. Hmmm, I don't know, I've always wanted to travel to South Africa, maybe Cape Town? It looked amazing from the pictures I have seen

Four favorite bands/singers (hard to narrow this down!)
1. Pearl Jam
2. Dave Matthews Band
3. Green Day
4. Jack Johnson
Honorable Mention: Phish, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

A New Year

Today is July 5.

29 years ago, in 1977, I came into this world rather uneventfully…my Mom went into labor after the fireworks that night and I was here by lunchtime. I joke today that I just wanted to see what all the commotion was for.

Almost 7/7/77. But not quite.

I like to think of myself as the “encore” to the fireworks. You know, when you think they are done, and you’re just about to grab your keys and try to find your car, BAM—here comes a huge unexpected burst of noise and color? That’s me. :)

My first word was “no.” As in, “No—don’t you dare tell me I can’t do something.”

Sometimes I can’t believe I’m already 29. When my parents were 29, they had been married for almost 7 years and had both of their kids. It makes me realize how young they were.

I’ve been very blessed with this life of mine. This training has me feeling pretty reflective lately, and the more I train and the more days go by, the more I realize how lucky I am to be able, both physically and emotionally, to do this. 29 years is a long time, but still not that long.

29 years old.

That’s the age that, when I was a kid, I heard a lot of people my parents age joke that they were turning on their birthdays. “How old are you, So-and-So? Why, I’m 29—ha ha ha.” I remember hearing that when I was a kid, thinking, “No you’re not. I know you’re 37.” I always wondered how 29 became this arbitrary line, as if no one wanted to be any older than that. As if after 29, everything goes downhill.

I look at my parents lives and see how much happiness they have had since they were 29, and I just don’t buy it. I don’t buy that it goes downhill from here.

So in my 29 years, I have experienced a lot of things, but not nearly as much as some people.

I’ve gotten to cross the finish line in 2 marathons, smiling both times, family by my side.

I got to go to college and make some of the best friends I could ever have hoped for.

I’ve been to Disney World twice.

I’ve watched too many loved ones lose battles with Alzheimer’s, Lymphoma, heart disease, and cancer.

I’ve backpacked the Grand Canyon with some of my closest friends.

I stood under a waterfall in St. Lucia and Puerto Rico.

I married my best friend.

I’ve leaned against the Berlin Wall.

I’ve been denied an opportunity I really wanted.

I received my M.A. on a full scholarship.

I’ve caught a ball with my face and broken my nose in a softball game, hit one career home run, but never any triples.

My big toe was bitten by a crab in Cape Cod when I was 5, and my Dad didn’t believe me until we got out of the Atlantic Ocean. We still laugh about it.

I have a picture of me in front of the Twin Towers—the same tower I and so many others lost a college classmate to on September 11, 2001.

I’ve been really scared.

In my short 29 years, I’ve felt unbelievable pain and loss. But, the joy I’ve felt outweighs the pain. For every setback I’ve had, I’ve been blessed and lucky to have what feels like 10 good things happen.

This Ironman is coming up, faster than I ever thought it would. I know that this day will be full of challenges and probably a lot of pain. In fact, it will probably be the most painful and challenging day I’ve ever had in my 29 years.

But if that’s the case—if on September 10th I feel the most pain I’ve ever felt in my entire life—then on that day, (to paraphrase the great Lou Gehrig)

I will be the luckiest girl on the face of the earth.

Rob, Sarah and baby, Matt and I at the Montelle Winery--good stuff and a pretty view of the valley! Poor Sarah just had water with her cheese and crackers. :) Posted by Picasa

Me and Mugs, Louis, Matt, Rob, Sarah and baby :), Brett, Tara, Justin, and Sam at Ted Drewes--Scott Hall buddies from Miami U a-plenty! Posted by Picasa

Sam and I at Ted Drewes custard place! Posted by Picasa

Unlikely friends. :) Posted by Picasa

Mugsy enjoys his Ted Drewes doggie ice cream! Posted by Picasa

Tribe fans in a sea of Cards fans. Of course, the Cards have won 1 of their last 11 games. GUESS WHICH ONE THEY WON? Yep. That one. Thanks Bob Wickman for blowing it AGAIN. Posted by Picasa

Matt and I in Hannibal (Mark Twain's hometown) with the Mississippi River behind us Posted by Picasa

Mugsy and Matt versus Louis. Louis is winning. Posted by Picasa

Is it fair for a 17 pound pug to play tug of war with an 165 pound St. Bernard? We thought so. Posted by Picasa

Albert Pujols is pretty sweet. Gotta give some respect. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Back from St. Louis, and back from, um, quite an interesting ride.

It started out bad, got worse, then got funny, and ended bad and funny.

First, the concrete facts:

1. Got home after our 10 hour drive at midnight last night and was wired. Couldn't fall asleep.

2. Somehow must have decided that 1:37am is a great time to start worrying about Ironman, since OMG it's July, will I be ready, etc. etc. Yeah. Good times.

3. Headed to the GCT course on about 4ish hours of sleep to try and ride hills for 4:30 and then run :40.

4. Elizabeth and IronJohnny are pretty much the best people to ride with on a day like this with what happened.

5. It poured, lightning, and thundered just when we hit the stretch of the busy, 45 mph road (which means most were then going 50-55) with no shoulder.

6. Had fun the past few days staying with our friends, who are expecting their first baby in 3 weeks. Found out that one of their Dad's cancer was worse than I knew. He lost his entire stomach three weeks ago. Gone. Forever. I knew things were bad, but I didn't know they were that bad.

Now, the following things MAY or MAY not have happened.

1. I may or may not have let the first hill get the best of my head. Again.

2. I MIGHT have had a slight anxiety meltdown after said hill and started to irrationally question my ability to ride the IMW course, eg. "What the F were you doing signing up for this course? You're screwed."

3. Going along with irrational thinking, I may or may not have had some irrational thoughts about how I am nowhere near as fast as I used to be when I raced short course, and of course therefore that must mean I suck (WHICH IS A VERY DUMB AND IRRATIONAL THOUGHT)

4. I MIGHT have had trouble with the extreme heat and humidity since I have a history of heatstroke/fainting. Elizabeth might have gone to a random house spicket to get me water to be a nice friend, and it might have tasted like poo and I almost vomited because it was well water

5. When it became clear that it was dangerous to ride and we wanted to live to see another day, we MIGHT have felt extremely lame by going to a random house and using their phone to call our friends still on the course or in the area

6. When none of them were around, we MIGHT have felt even lamer by calling a taxi since we all lived far away and had no idea where we were

7. While waiting for said taxi, if it occured, one group member MIGHT have decided they needed to pee in the front yard of the house behind some bushes since the family left to go see a movie

8. If this happened, it MIGHT be one of the best, worst, funniest, and most memorable rides despite having to cut it very short but still putting in close to 40 miles

Elizabeth and I were trying to figure out in our "ride of shame" why this happened and what lesson this was supposed to teach us, as we part felt extremely lame and part felt like we knew we did the right thing because getting hit by cars going 50 mph is never a good idea.

I think I know why it happened. I was having a miserable time and was starting to panic, to have stupid, irrational thoughts and doubts and fears. And on the way home in my car, I got really angry at myself, but for once not because I felt slow or that I cut my ride short, but for the audacity I had to feel like it mattered.

OK, yes, it matters that I cut my ride short on paper. But I know next weekend's trip to WI will make up for it.

But I mean it doesn't MATTER. As IronJohnny even said, "Every day we're out here is a good day, and we have the ability to do this when others don't."

My friend's Dad, age 58, never smoked or drank much in his life--he lost his stomach to cancer three weeks ago. His entire stomach. He's now waiting on test results which he'll get back on Wednesday to find out if it spread.

Who the hell am I?

What right to I have to whine about a bad ride, about my "slow" hill ability, about being afraid of doing an Ironman in 10 weeks?

SHUT up. Just shut up. I am so disgusted with myself right now. I have my health, my two legs to push a bike I bought with my own money up a large hill. I have a husband who knows just what to say and do and is my best friend, and my parents are happily married and healthy and don't have stomach cancer and aren't waiting on tests to determine their life's next path.

I think that's why today happened. God's way of telling me to SNAP out of it, for crying out loud. My so-called problems and insecurities and long rides and flat tires and whatever really DON'T MATTER.

So that's the only sense I can make out of it at this point.