Monday, November 24, 2008

What Could Be Better

...than 28 degrees, a fresh layer of snow, only one set of footprints ahead of us (TriEric's), crunching snow beneath your feet, snow icing all the trees around you that doesn't even look REAL, and a trail run with friends with good conversation?

Not much. Except some hot chocolate and a cranberry walnut bagel with peanut butter after it's done.

Thanks Aimee, Eric, and Dale for a fantabulous chilly snowy run Saturday morning!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two Steps Forward...One Back...And One Forward Again

I'm learning as I go here, and one thing that's becoming abundantly clear is that, as a working mother who is trying to also train for races, I feel as if there is just not enough of me to go around sometimes.

I realize that part of this is that I am very passionate about what I do. I don't just consider teaching a 7:55 to 3:08 job. In fact, most teachers don't.

So now I'm starting to think about how on earth I'm going to fit in training this winter as my other duties pile up--namely, being the Model U.N. Advisor for our February trip to Chicago, the AP US History teacher as we approach the national test in May, as well as teaching my inclusion class for World History?

It's a little overwhelming.

I've claimed the morning just for me, and it's worked well, aside from leaving me exhausted at the end of the day. This week I was 4 for 4 on morning workouts. But right now they are relatively short workouts--nothing more than an hour--and I can't help but worry a bit of what's to come. How will I fit that in, and still make it in for a Model U.N. meeting? A parent meeting? Oh, and when on earth am I going to grade DBQs?

Sigh. I'm going to give myself permission NOT to think about that right now.

What I will celebrate is the little victories. After a particularly rough day, I sat down in my journal that I write in almost every day. Sometimes the entries are just a few sentences. Other, I really, really need to let it all out. This day, the entry was just a list. I listed the things that I've done pretty darn good since school began in August. Just the good stuff. I can't remember all of it, but here's a few:

--took 46 kids to a Model UN conference and they had a blast--prepared them, trained them, and 2 of them took home awards
--took 19 kids to meet Paul Rusesabagina...and they will remember that forever
--helped to start a Save Darfur club at our school, and have some amazing kids in the group who really believe they can change the world, which is just awesome

Those are probably my favorites. And when you look at it that way, it makes the little annoyances and frustrations not as bad.

Oh yeah, and somehow through all that, I PR'd a marathon by 20 minutes.

So when I look at it that way, I see that I must just be pulling this off somehow. Even though the weeks leave me dizzy they are so nuts, somehow I'm pulling this off.

I did a grand experiment this week, too. I went to the pool in the morning.

Now, that might sound pretty uneventful, since I did that before, but I switched gyms last year so I could be close to work and "just go straight to work" after my swim. Ha! Silly me. See, that makes perfect sense, until I realized that I literally can't stand the thought of NOT seeing the Bug in the morning before I leave for school. Can't. Do. It. I need to hear him giggle. I just do.

So I wasn't able to swim in the AM, but then had to drag Bug with me after school which in turn made me feel guilty, too.

The mornings are mine. No one needs me, and it's my own little quiet time and calm before the fun and often crazy storms which are my days.

So, I decided I'd go to the gym THAT IS DOWN THE STREET FROM MY SCHOOL, swim, and then COME HOME. And then drive BACK to school. Because it's only a few miles from my house, right?

I know. A waste of gas. Pretty silly. But I needed to make this work.

So I set the alarm, got up, and hauled it to the pool. Grinded out 2500 yards with more focus than usual. Got out, took a quick shower, bundled up in my orange coat, and headed home. I walked in just in time to see Bug in his high chair. He saw me walk in and gave me a sly little grin around the corner.

It worked. And I even got to school with 5 minutes to spare.

I think that's how this year is going to be. Just when I feel like I'm no good at something--whether it's teaching, or being Bug's mommy, or being Matt's wife or a friend to my amazing friends--I'll run in, breathless, with wet hair and slightly sore arms, just in time for a smile and a kiss and a giggle. And I need to remember that I am there, that my heart and soul are thrown into everything I do, and if the makeup's not perfect, the dust bunnies are multiplying, the papers pile up and the only thing in my fridge is milk and salsa, I am going to pull this off somehow.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Evotri Iron Challenge!

The 2008 off season is officially here, but who says the races are over? Team Evotri has a brand new program on tap to keep you tri-primed all winter long, complete with exclusive team opportunities and prizes for your efforts. In fact, we have quite a bit of news to report as we round out the year and get the ball rolling for 2009!

With all of our sponsors returning for another stellar season, and with brand new sponsor, Headsweats joining the team, we're looking forward to giving back to the community in an even bigger way. In addition to our current grassroots endeavors - Simply Stu's World Wide Triathlon, Trisaratops's Youth Initiative, along with RobbyB and Iron Wil's Wisconsin Brick Adventure - just to name a few - we're now planning to reach across borders and oceans in order to do our part to change the world, and we want you to be part of the movement.

Do you have what it takes to fulfill the Evotri Iron Challenge?

This winter, we challenge you to complete an Iron distance race every month. 140.6 miles of swimming, cycling and running at 2.4 miles, 112 miles, and 26.2 miles respectively. You have 30 days, and countless ways to break it down to fit your schedules. Feeling especially elite? Why not try two, even three Iron distances per month? Not only will the top performers receive sweet swag and high honors, they'll also be raising money and awareness for charity JUST by logging miles! Also, complete at least one Iron distance each month and be entered in our grand prize drawing. Here's how to get involved:

Start by joining the Plus3 Network at, it's free for you, and priceless for so many more. Log your miles over the next several months and watch them turn to dollars for charities all over the world. Team Evotri sponosr SRAM, among other industry leading companies like Pedros have partnered with Plus3 and pledged to donate cash to the charity of your choice for every swim, ride, and run you do - charities like World Bicycle Relief, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Safe Routes (ensuring kids' safe passage to school), and The Environmental Defense Fund, among many more. Once you've created your account at, follow the next three steps to not only keep yourself motivated over the coming months, win cool prizes and meet awesome people, but also to have your mileage make a difference all over the world. After you've created your free account:

1: Select a sponsor and a charity of your choice
2: Under PEOPLE, search for "Evotri" and do a "friend request"
3: You will then receive a request to join the Challenge

And that's it. Let the base training begin!

In addition to our Evotri Iron Challenge, we're preparing for top performance in 2009 in other ways. Join the team as one of our honored Ambassadors and be eligible for exclusive opportunities throughout the year, as well as receive periodic training advice from top pros and industry insiders like the unstoppable up and comer, Cycleops's Will Smith, and the legendary Robbie Ventura! Visit and click the "Become an Ambassador" tab at the top of the page to get started.

Also, stay tuned to for the official 2009 press release, featuring more details on how you can even become a fully-sponsored member of the team. That's right, we're adding TWO to the crew near the start of the year, so get involved early and stay ahead of the pack!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Vote Sweet '08!

Please stop by here and vote my teammate, Chris Sweet, for Chicago Athlete of the Year! He has CLEARLY earned the title. Sub-10 at Kona?! Actually, I think Athlete of the UNIVERSE might be a better award for Sweet. :)

Just send an email to with "Vote 2008" in the subject line. Don't forget to pick a female, too! Thanks!

Big news coming up this week from Team Evotri...2009 is gonna RAWK!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Reason 578,492 Why I Love Swimming

I remember in April, 2006, when I was backpacking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with friends, my buddy Cort said something that's just so true:

"The best thing about backpacking is you don't think about anything else besides backpacking."

There's a certain therapy in immersion.

When I'm swimming laps, there's nothing else I can really think of. When I run and cycle, my mind often wanders. I dream, I rehash a situation at work, I wonder where I'll go next. I think about a race; I think about a song. I think about what I want to have for dinner that night.

I'm always thinking.

But swimming demands focus. Breath, reach, count. Breath, reach, reach a little bit more. Pull.

The black line methodically passes below me and when I see the "T", I start my turn.

I suppose it might be this way because I've spent a good part of my life in the water. But there's a certain calmness to swimming for me; even when it's hard. Even when I'm pushing myself. The only sound I hear is my own breath bubbling beside me and the swish of the water past my ear.

It's enough to make me forget just about anything...whether it's from 20 minutes ago or 20 years ago. I always come out of the water feeling calm. Feeling ready to move on.

And I can't explain how much I needed that today.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Daylight Savings Time...

...should not be underestimated.

So Thursday it was GORGEOUS here--68 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and fall foliage in full effect. I picked up Jackson and thought, "Hey--maybe I can do a quick ride!" Because when it's 68 degrees and sunny on November 6th in Cleveland, Ohio, folks, YOU TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT.

So I started my ride around 4:30. And the cool thing is that I was TOTALLY rocking it. I was averaging about 20 miles an hour and just lovin' life. The lake was beautiful with the sunset, the trees provided colorful scenery as I whizzed by...


I said sunset.


It was just about 5:10 when I turned around 11 miles from home. Uh oh. Totally underestimated how dark it was getting--and how fast.

I tried to book it back home as fast as I could. Maybe I can outride the sunset! Yeah! That's it!

No such luck.

About 5 miles from home it was almost dark, and I was a Nervous Nellie. Every car that passed me made me jump. I never ride in the dark, especially alone.

So about 2 miles from home, when it was official--black sky--I gulped and did what no time trial bike should ever do.

I rode on the sidewalk. Ew.

I just hoped no other roadies out there would see me, or I'd feel kind of like a total nerd. But I figured nerd who is safe is better than cyclist who is a pancake on Route 2, right?

So needless to say, my average speed dropped a bit. Almost as fast as the amount of daylight did, too.

But you know what? It was still a great ride.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Land of the free

Today in class, as we discussed the election going on around us, I tried to tell my freshman how they'd see red and blue and crazy whiteboard technology tonight and the meaning of the number 270. I could tell they were processing it, and trying to soak it all in. And one of my students--a girl who moved here from another country--raised her hand. She asked, in a timid but serious voice:

"But what if the candidate that loses....what if he tries to take over? What if he tries to kill the new President? What happens then?"

My knee-jerk reaction was to laugh a bit. But then I realized she was serious. Where she moved from, war was a part of life...and still is.

I realized she wasn't kidding or trying to be funny. Because in many places around the world, that could very easily happen. That idea was not funny to her. That was a possible reality.

I quickly wiped the smile off my face and said, "You know, _______, we're very lucky that we don't have to really worry about that here." I gave her a few examples when the elections were very close or contested, and in each case, the candidates stepped down and pledged support to the winner.

I'm sitting here listening to a very classy, thoughtful, sincere concession speech from a tremendous American hero. And make no mistake--I am very happy about tonight's results--but I am more happy, and proud, and tearful, even, that I live in a country where peace is the norm. Where we don't have to worry if our election results will lead to bloodshed. Where the losing candidate pledges and urges support for his new President...and where something that seemed inconceivable forty years ago happened during my lifetime.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

And next up...

...well, lots, actually.

I've had two weeks to just relax, ride for fun, and run without a watch. It has been awesome. It has been much needed. I feel like I had so much to prove to myself this year--that I could do this again, and maybe that I could do it just as fast, or even faster (to which I suprised myself greatly)--that I needed a break from this, mentally, just to soak it all in.

It's been quite an amazing year.

As mentioned before, I haven't stopped moving since my 6 week checkup last November after giving birth to my son. And I was, at least for the first few months, moving out of fear. Motivated by "what if I'm never going to be able to even come close to competing with my pre-pregnancy self again?" Even though many before me tried to warn me that I'd be fine. You know, me and my head, see, we like to DO THINGS THE HARD WAY SOMETIMES.

So as the months went by and the times dropped...and dropped...and dropped again, I then was moving to see just what I could get away with. Motivated by seeing just how crazy this body was in trying to prove my head wrong. And the body won, folks. Fo' SHO.

So now I'm in the process of assessing.

5 minutes off the half marathon PR, 44 minutes of my half ironman bike split, 22 minutes off my half ironman run split, and 20 minutes off my marathon. I'm still on cloud nine. And don't really think it's fully sunk in yet.

First and foremost, I have to thank my awesome Coach Emily at Vision Quest. She put together the perfect mix of workouts to kick my butt and fit into my somewhat insane day. Thanks, Emily!

Also, I wouldn't have been able to do this without Team Evotri's other sponsors and my awesome teammates. Thank you to Zipp, CycleOps, BMC, Sram, and 2XU. I'm so lucky to be able to race with their products, and to work with each of those companies. They really are the best. Good people all around.

So now what?

Well, I've got some big ideas. I feel like this has been a breakthrough year for me, and I can definitely take it up another notch.

Here's what I'm thinking:

Sub-5:30 at New Orleans 70.3

This one is doable, but will require some intensity this winter. I need to work on my strength and flexibility, and I want to run better off the bike. My goal is a comfortable 36 minute swim, a 2:45 bike (which I did at Steelhead but that bike was a bit short), and a 1:55 run, including transitions, to come in just under 5:30. So there it is.

A Boston Qualifying Marathon: 3:40

This is, quite honestly, at the very upper end of what I'm capable of. This will most likely take a few tries. I'm thinking of going for a faster half marathon in the spring (1:45 would be ideal), and then shooting for 3:50 in a marathon, and finally hitting that 3:40. This will take several seasons. But I can do it. I just know that. It will be really, really hard, but I know I have it in me.

For Columbus, I never ran more than 38 miles in a week. I was swimming or doing a bike ride one other day so I had cross training, but my runs were intense. Lots of tempo, and pretty much EVERY run was a negative split. This was tough, but great especially for my mental game. One of the toughest runs I did was a 16-miler with 8 easy and the last 8 at race pace. I thank Coach Emily again for this, as I believe that's what led me to that crazy 8:52 for mile 24. I was ready to run tired, and it helped me a TON. So, what might I be able to do with a little higher mileage? I just wonder...

I'm ready to begin base training. I'm ready now to focus on strength flexibility. It's time to make myself even better.

Time, I think to put the watch on again. But not lose the feeling of running without it. :)