Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Makes Me Happy

So, I've been tagged by two super awesome people--Curly Su and TriTeacher--and out of my respect for them both, I don't want to ignore their tag. Two seriously creative and inspiring people, they how on earth am I going to do this tag justice?

I'll try.

Here goes.

I'm supposed to give 6 things that make me happy.

1. Michael Jackson

No, not 2008 Michael Jackson. I'm talking Michael Jackson circa 1984. The red jacket, sparkly-gloved Michael Jackson. Would you believe he's still on my iPod, and when he comes on I just can't help but shake what my momma gave me? Even if it's on the treadmill, like it was yesterday. Wedged between Pantera's "F-ing Hostile" and System of a Down's "Chop Suey" came "Billie Jean." Yes, I ran on the treadmill mouthing the words the whole time and even thought about pausing the run just so I could dance. I didn't. But let's just say that I might have before.

Hearing old school Michael Jackson reminds me of being about seven years old, living in our little bungalow on Osborn Road, and dancing. I'm reminded of my childhood and innocence, which is ironic considering the subject of said reminder. But I smile when I remember asking my mom, what does he mean that 'the kid is not my son?' and, to Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach," what does she mean 'she's in trouble deep but she made up her mind and she's keeping her baby," to which my mom's reply was THERE WILL BE NO MORE MTV IN THIS HOUSE EVER.

2. Mugsy the Pug

I pretty much have wanted a dog since I could talk. We never had one, and I made up my mind that the second I could get a dog, I would. Well, after college I had an apartment for four years with a no dog clause. Arg. Finally, in 2004 I got married and we got a house. And you know what? I got my dog.

He's the most loyal, loveable, mischevious, stinky-breathed, hyperactive, twirling, produce-loving, snoring, best friend a girl could have. I am not sure how I made it 27 years without him.

3. Having a job that I love and I know makes a difference

I know in today's often cut-throat, market-driven world, this is hard to come by. Some days are hard, and I'm not going to lie about it. But most of the time, my day flies by because I love what I do. And two or three times a year I even get a note or an expression of thanks that makes it worthwhile. Those little teeny notes of thanks are enough to keep me going. At that age of student I work with, a note of thanks means a lot and goes VERY far. Some of my former students are missionaries, members of Doctors Without Borders, and teachers themselves. It makes me truly happy to know I've had a chance--even just a small chance--to help them grow into themselves and try to make the world a better place.

4. Making a good meal to share

I don't like to bake, because I don't like to measure. I cook much like my Dad--a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and little to no recipe. I think good cooking comes with taking a bit of risks and trying to find things that complement each other, and I love to make a really good meal to share with Matt or with friends. I love how good food brings people together.

5. Water

I don't think I'd ever be able to live too far from a large body of water. Not that I even have a boat or anything. I just love to walk up to the Lake with Bug and Matt and Mugsy almost every night in the summer and relax. I love living so close to my open water training. It was one of the things I didn't like about Cincinnati--even though the Ohio River was there. It wasn't big enough for me. There's just something about watching the sunset over the water and listening to the waves crash. Even in the winter, I love to walk up at the Lake and watch the waves.

6. My son and husband

Okay, I realize I should probably split these into two reasons, but I can't. Someday, when I look back on my life, I'll realize even more than I do now how these chapters unfolded and changed me for the better. There really was my life before Matt, and my life since. And me before the day Jackson arrived, and me since. The same person, but an entirely new, bliss-filled level of happiness. My very definition of love changed; of happy changed. Of all the hard work that relationships and children can be, the happiness we share in our home is worth more than I can explain in words.

Merry Christmas and best wishes for a life filled with joy and happiness!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


So I've been really having great workouts lately, which is awesome. But pretty strange.

Because it's DECEMBER.

As in, "OFF SEASON."

As in, shouldn't I be feeling slow and bloated and full of buckeyes and Christmas Ale right now? But I'm totally not. Bizarro!

(except for the buckeye and Christmas Ale part)

I had a great run on Sunday, followed by a swim yesterday. The plan was to do this:

400 Warm Up Choice
5X100 on 2:10
100 kick EZ
4X100 on 2:00
100 kick EZ
3X100 on 1:50
100 kick EZ
2X100 on 1:40
100 kick EZ
100 hard
200 Cool Down

Great workout, by the way, Coach Emily! It really kept me on my toes. And HOLY SMOKES AM I CONSISTENT. I was really pleasantly surprised! I mean, I've been only able to get in the pool, like, two times a week at MOST. And, I so haven't paid attention to the clock lately. So I was very excited to see that my times were (although not the fastest in the world) pretty consistent. It went something like this:

1st set of 100s: All between 1:33-1:36. I swear I heard crickets as I waited for 2:10.
2nd set of 100s: All between 1:33 and 1:35. Crickets again.
3rd set of 100s: Starting to get a little out of breath, but still...1:34, 1:36, 1:35.
4th set of 100s: 1:34, 1:35
Balls to the Wall: DEFINITELY tired here, but still managed to eek out a 1:29. I'll take it! Yahoooooooooooooooooooooo

I've been very disappointed with my swims in races lately, so this is a promising sign. Hopefully I'll be able to keep chipping away here and be able to actually hold a decent pace for New Orleans. Or maybe this is just some kind of Christmas fluke. I hope not.

This morning I worked on my cadence which needs some help while watching both the Hills and the Hills Aftershow. I know. The first step is to admit you have a problem.

And I've already got the TiVo set for The City. But I definitely am drawing the line at Bromance. Sorry, Brody.

Because if 5am is truly me time, and the Daily Show and Colbert are both done for the season, well, then, I WANT THE EQUIVILANT OF BUCKEYES THROUGH MY TELEVISION. Okay? Just a little. Moderation is key, right?

Just don't tell anyone I watch those shows, K?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Buckeyes and Stuff

Okay, for those of you not from Ohio or the Midwest who are unfortunate enough to NOT KNOW WHAT BUCKEYES ARE (blasphemy!), I will provide a step-by-step instruction manual for you. This is how Ohio folks do Buckeyes.

Notice, I did not say Ohio STATE folks. That would greatly upset someone in this household.
(Oh, and it would really tick Matt off, too.)

First, you gather all the stuff you need. I took the liberty of buying this in bulk at BJ's, so that I could also make a batch for the bowl game if we run out before. This is not for the weak at heart, ladies and gentlemen. Do not--I repeat, do NOT--even try to imagine the amount of saturated fat in this conglomeration of ingredients. You'll just want to barf. And that's not the point. Unless you're trying to make more room for more Buckeyes.

Then, you take FOUR STICKS OF BUTTER (don't think about it....lalalallalala what saturated fats?) and 32 OUNCES OF PEANUT BUTTER, and mix until they are a messy goo of tasty lard.

The next step is one I just kinda improvise. You put in enough confectioner's sugar to sweeten it up and make it like a play-doh consistency. I just keep pouring and mixing. But I must recommend the best way to mix is to take the rings off, wash the hands, roll the sleeves up, and GET ALL UP IN THERE.

At this point, I have to try really, REALLY hard not to take the bowl and a spoon, run into the nearest closet, and have my way with the peanut butter ball-mixture. Must. Show. RESTRAINT.

And now, time to roll the dough into little balls of goodness. This is a little time consuming, but worth it. I usually make them too big and I remember my Mom getting on me for this when I was a kid. It's better to make them smaller, but really, who wants a small Buckeye, right?

(insert gratuitous ball jokes here--don't worry, I often quote the SNL skit with Pete Schwety on NPR when I'm creating Buckeyes. I've heard and/or said them all. BTW--not sure what's up with the random squirrel at the end of the clip, but it's OUTSTANDING)

Chill for at least 10 minutes. Then, the final stage: dipping. Melt some chocolate chips CAREFULLY in the microwave (20 seconds at a time, and MIX WELL!) with a little bit of Crisco to make them shiny (you know, in case they weren't UNHEALTHY ENOUGH). Take a toothpick, dip them in to resemble a Buckeye, and voila!

Now since I have over 100 Buckeyes in my home, I need to either A) get rid of them FAST B) smear them on my hips since that's where they'll go anyway if I don't get rid of them pronto or C) have some good workouts this weekend. I'm happy to report that C was the option I chose.

Yesterday included a 90 minute trainer session with 4X8 minute pushes at Zone 3 (for me, 160-170 watts) and I felt great. Then today, I got out in the nasty drizzle shizzle and had a kickin' run! 8.25 miles in 1:14, which adds up to sub-9 minute miles! Yahooooooooooooo

Amazing what little balls of peanut butter chocolate-y heart attacks will do for your motivation, huh?


Thursday, December 11, 2008

So yeah...

...about that "cold?"

Um, well, the 7 mile run in the snow that I just didn't have my mojo for on Sunday but did anyway threw me over the edge. Oops.

Stayed home Monday, went to the doctor, and finally had to admit it. Full blown sinus-infection. Poop. On some antibiotics now, though, and feeling much better after 3 forced rest days!


Anyhoo, had a fantabulous run outside this lovely chilly evening, and completely negative split it out the WAZOO, so I feel like things are settling back in. Yay!

I'll be hitting the pool after school tomorrow since I have to go in early to lead a review session in the morning, and then I've got a run and a nice long indoor ride planned for this weekend. Along with MASSIVE BUCKEYE CONSTRUCTION. If I do say so myself, I make DAMN GOOD BUCKEYES.

Sunday I'll be chillin' with JenC and some other tri pals for some Christmas fun! Can't wait to see my chicas!

Happy training, everyone!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Neverending Cold


I have this neverending cold. It blows. (pun intended. sniff sniff)

Anyway, I *think* it's almost done. But don't tell it I said that. I took an extra rest day here, so I'm hoping that I can have a good run tomorrow and I won't feel like a snot-filled boulder is on my neck where my head should be.

I'm kind of excited about stuff now...I think the worst is officially over with craziness and stress, as Matt's grad class is done until mid-January, and in February I went back to work last year, so I'll be repeating lessons again. Yipppeeeeeeeyahoo! This week, after Matt's last class Wednesday night, I just sort of had the feeling that I was no longer bobbing in the pool and trying to keep my head above water, but more like I was doing a commanding flip turn SPLASH on the side of the wall and pushing off for another set.

Always a good feeling. :)

Today I ran into Ashley in the hallway, and she said, "Mrs. Z! When are we doing the Evotri stuff again?" And then Jenna said, "Even though I will have graduated, can I still do the Evotri club this summer?" And I got all kinds of stoked. I've got big plans for next summer, and I really need to start putting them all down on paper. I'll probably have to wait until I'm off for winter break to do that, but let's just say BIG. PLANS.

I've been getting super excited for New Orleans, too. I just can't wait to see the city, and what better way to do it than while swimming, biking, and running, right? Or, by celebrating the night after you finish the race? Cuz that's what I plan on doing. Yeeeeeeehaw! Who else out there is in, beside my teammates and the awesome Steve, Pharmie, and Michele? Come know you want to train in the basement all winter like me. ;) Actually, I have quite a high threshold for cold, so I'm planning on bundling up and doing some riding a few times as long as it's above 30 or so and not snowing!

That's all for now...heading to the Zoo tomorrow morning with the Bug and a few friends to meet Santa and have breakfast! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008


I'm finally sitting. down. for once in the past two weeks or so.


Ever remember drinking a little too much brew and then you lay in bed and try to sleep and things just keep spinning spinning spinning and you really are just FREAKIN' TIRED and want to sleep but the spinning is keeping you up?

Yeah, it's been kinda like that.

It's been 14 months now since my definition of love changed.

I'm a work in progress, just like him. Most days--for at least five minutes or so--I feel like there's just not enough of me to go around. Some days, for longer. But eventually I forget about it and keep grading or chasing the Bug or putting away the laundry that was done last Tuesday. At least once a day, I wonder if I'm capable enough of handling all this. I don't think we ever really know if we are.

But, from what I've seen lately, we can usually handle much more than we think we can.

This has been reflected in my racing all year, and despite the whirlwind of life swirling around me at a dizzying pace, I'm finding that training and racing is my little corner of zen. I've happily converted to an O'Dark Thirty workout person, and I literally jump out of bed. It's so bizarre. Those who know me well know I have NEVER been a "jump out of bed" person. But the morning is mine--no one needs me but me. No one's asking me questions about the Fugitive Slave Law or the Third Estate or an one needs me to change a one needs me to do anything. But me. And I can't wait to do what I need to do, as well as I can, so I can rush off to doing as much as I possibly can to help others all day.

That dark, quiet, sweaty, alone time in the morning grounds me for the rest of the day.

I think of my girls this summer as they did their first triathlon and realized that there was so much more within them than they ever knew, and it inspires me. I dream and plan of ways to share that with more kids this summer.

I'm looking forward to New Orleans because I just can't wait to enjoy the day and, for that matter, the weekend with my team and my friends. Do I wonder how I'm going to get the training in? In short, HOLY CRAP YES. Much in the same overwhelming way I wonder how I'm going to grade those DBQs, finish those accomodated tests, and still have enough energy for Bug. But I'm learning that worrying is overrated. What's been proven to me in the past 14 months is that I can handle a lot more than I ever thought I could. There are still hard days, no doubt. But I'm getting better at asking for help when I need it.

This past week I celebrated all I have to be thankful for. And this year--for the first time, really--I was thankful for finally understanding, recognizing, and acknowledging this new-found inner strength that has been within me all along.