Saturday, December 30, 2006

Home sweet home

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I leave for Hawaii in less than 12 hours.

Am I packed?

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

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

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

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

Aloha, and Mele Kalikimaka! :)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? Giving.

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

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

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

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fall down seven times, stand up eight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can I do to stop this?

I feel great!

I feel tired.

But I am still going.

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

If I flat, I will probably miss the cutoff.

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

There's the Capitol.

I'm gonna make it.

I'm gonna make it today.

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

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

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

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

Why is this any different?

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

That's gotta be it.

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

Stay in the moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I felt like I could go forever.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Give it up to the universe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 08, 2006

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

creeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaakkkkkkkkk goes the garage door

stares at each other


What do you mean, what? You know what.

No I don't.

It's December 8th.

Yeah. So?

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

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

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

Yeah, and it's been pretty nice.

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

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

The stuff you like.

Yeah. The stuff I like.


What's that supposed to mean?

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

WHAT figures?!

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

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

Like what?

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

Nothing very challenging lately, though, huh? Wuss.

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

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

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

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

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

Well, it was.

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

Well. It WAS.

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

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

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

Oh you will, huh?

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

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

*grabs Arcaro from the ceiling*

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The infinite wisdom of Axl Rose

Whew! Craziness at work.

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

Yes, I am a geek.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Whole 'nuther ball game.

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

I think that's why I like it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope I can continue to do that.

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

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

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Perfect Triathlon Day

Yes, it was.

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

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

It was INDEED a perfect triathlon day.

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

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

My kinda race! :)

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

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

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

So, I dove in and gave it a go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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