Friday, December 28, 2007

God Bless Us Every One

Its been a helluva year gentle readers. A helluva year. We've all had experiences we'll remember forever, we've all had a few regrets, a few triumphs and some outright flops. And we're all still here. That, in and of itself, is the greatest blessing - to still be around to read, to write, to gloat and to bitch about whatever this year has brought us. And, by some miracle - call it Internet, technology, divine providence, shared interest or sheer coincidence - we are together in a sense - together even though we're spread out across the planet, together cheering each other on through our triumphs and consoling each other through our flops and our regrets. That, most definitely, is another huge blessing.

If this year has brought you sorrow, I hope the next one finds you joyous. If this year has been a joyful one, I hope the next will bring even more of the same. I wish for all of us that we learn the things we need to learn, celebrate the things we need to celebrate, and mourn the things we need to mourn. I wish that we can find the strength to change the things that we must and the good sense to let those things that need to be left alone to their own devices. Most of all, I wish for all of us that we see the coming year as a blessed journey waiting to unfold and greet it with open arms, no matter what it may have in store for us.

God Bless Us Every One.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Calling All Heroes

This year, I've learned some valuable lessons, not the least of which has been learning to become my own hero. In the process, I believe I have stumble upon my "mission" - to somehow empower others or, even better, to help them to empower themselves.

So, here's my idea: my story is ok, maybe some may find it inspirational. I've conquered, or have started to conquer, some significant demons. But its not enough. I want to share other stories - other women and men who have learned to become their own hero. My hope is that, by sharing these, we can light the way for others who are seeking, that, by telling about the paths that led us to where we are, we can somehow illuminate the path for somebody else. Every path is different though many lead to the same place - and they all start with that first step. So, I'd like to write (or compile) a book - a collection of stories about ordinary people who learned that, when it really comes down to it, the only one who can fight your monsters is you - and that you are exceptionally capable of doing so, you just have to realize it.

If you have a story to share - about yourself or someone else - please drop me an email. And, if you have any ideas about how to make this happen, how to get as many possible stories to sort through, how to put it all together, send me an email as well.

This could be a crazy nuts idea - or an idea that's already been done. It could lead nowhere. But I need to give it a shot. It seems like another first step in another amazing path that will lead me somewhere else I need to go.

Thanks to all of you who have been with me on this journey - and to any of you stumbling across this crazy person's blog just now. Its been an awesome ride and I'm ready for more. Bring it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Learning Compassion

I've always considered myself a compassionate person - except when it comes to how I treat myself. Training for a triathlon certainly taught me to respect myself and my body and what I'm capable of. It taught me to push myself when I thought I'd had enough and that my limits don't always end where I thought they did. These are good things. But it didn't really teach me to treat myself compassionately.

Pregnancy has given me a crash course in self-compassion. Its really a do or drop situation - you set compassionate limits on what you demand of yourself or you drop. You compassionately allow your body another hour or two of sleep or you drop. You compassionately allow yourself to slow down a little, quit watching the clock, quit counting miles or yards, even take an unplanned day off now and again - or, you guessed it, you drop. This stage of my journey is also teaching me to be flexible and creative when it comes to finding ways to get some activity in. After months of trying to force myself to adhere to my old 4:30 wake up call on swim days, occasionally succeeding, more often failing, I've finally accepted that my body needs what it needs and sleep is high on the list. Higher than a killer workout, apparently. However, I still feel better when I work out - its just no longer doable for it to be an either or situation - either sleep or exercise. I need both. So, I did some investigation and discovered that the YMCA that's just three minutes from my office has lap times every day during lunch and every day after work. The monthly membership fee is only about $10 more a month than swimming with my now-beloved masters group twice a week. And for that, I can swim as much as I want, lift weights, even get a run in on the treadmill when its icy outside or I just needed to sleep in that day. I'd say that's a win.

Today was my first lunch time swim and it went, well . . . swimmingly. The water is hot (85) but it keeps me from trying to hammer myself into the blue line at the bottom of the pool. There are only three lanes, but they're wide enough for three people - and I only had to share my lane with one person. I'm going to miss my masters buddies - but they'll be there when I come out on the other side of this adventure. I'm really looking forward to sleeping all the way to 6:30 on swim days without feeling guilty.

Another thing tris taught me - where there's a will, there's a way.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Human with a Belly

So, now that the second trimester is in full swing (16 weeks and counting!), I'm starting to feel less like a semi-invalid pregnant person and more like a . . . well, a person. Just a person with a very big belly - a belly that seems to get bigger on a nightly basis. Its unbelievable. I know I grow big babies - things were the same when Boy Genius was cooking up in this fertile furnace of mine - so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but its still a shocker when I look down and expect to see a view of the ground or my feet, unimpeded, and there's this "hill" in the way. Its beyond a bump now but less than a beach ball - I can still see the ground and my feet but I'm counting the days that this will still be possible.

Anyway, beyond the belly issue, I feel pretty darn good. My appetite and my energy have returned - my appetite more than my energy but I expect that I won't have my "pre-preggo" level of energy until months after this little one has made his/her entrance into the world. And, this morning, after a week of no back pain, I ran. Ahhhh. How wonderful it is to run. No matter the pace - and thank you for calling me on that nasty "slow" label, I need to follow my own advice and retire that word - running feels good. Breathing hard, sweating, moving - that feels fabulous and I can't seem to duplicate it walking. Walking is nice. Its medatative, gentle and invigorating. But I can't seem to really work up a serious, base layer soaking sweat with walking - especially in the cooler weather. And I just don't breathe as hard - and, call me crazy but breathing hard feels good! I'm not talking gasping or struggling for air but that lung enlisting, I must be alive, oxygen blasting kind of breathing. I love that. It makes me feel . . . human. There's that word again.

Of course, my back is a little "twingy" today. But, for now, I'm blaming it on Sunday's drywall ripping fest. No, Hubby and I didn't get into a fight. We're remodeling the baby's room - or what used to be a "playroom" (read pile of every toy imaginable obstructing any view of floor or wall) and will be the baby's room. It needs a major rehaul. Ugly shelves, gone. Nasty "wood" paneling, gone. What somebody may have once mistaken for carpet, gone. Drywall, gone. The demolition part was fun. Now somebody has to put it back together. I may be out of the country for that one.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I've been unable to work out for a full week - a fast which I was finally able to break with a walk this morning. My belly has nearly instantly popped from the "Is she or isn't she" stage to full blown "When are you due?" - and I think my back has suffered from this rapid change in mass. It was so bad, I couldn't sit, walk, stand or lie down last week. Or, I could, but all of them hurt. A lot. So running was right out. And swimming seemed agony. So, I tried to rest as best I could and hoped for a recovery. So far so good.

Being laid up is hard stuff for an active person - rather you are training for an Ironman, your first Olympic, or a natural childbirth, its no fun sitting around and waiting to get better. It makes the common problem of "lack of motivation" seem ridiculously obsolete. You would do anything to get out the door and you can't understand why anyone would have a hard time getting themselves off the couch - despite the fact that you have suffered that exact ailment more than once. The good thing about the ordeal is it does seem to banish the "motivation blahs" for a time. I'm sure they'll come back with my desire to get more sleep but, for now, I'm thankful to be up and out again. Next week, I'll start running again, knock on wood.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sometimes you've gotta go . . .

where you can kick a little booty.

Yesterday morning, as often occurs, my alarm rang far to early. I rolled over and declared myself unfit for rising - as, also, often occurs of late. Consequently, I missed my swim - again, something that has often occurred. This time, however, I decided to do something about it so, after dinner, Hubby and I headed for my old chlorine haunt, the rec center pool.

Almost exactly a year ago, we headed to this same pool to see what I could do in the water. Though I could swim fine, I'd never done it for exercise and certainly never tried to swim freestyle - or any style for that matter. The only stroke I knew how to do was breast stroke. That day, I got in the pool, knocked out 25 yards and clung to the wall, gasping for air. So much for my runner's lungs. As you now know, however, I kept at it, kept plugging until I could swim 50 then 100 then 500 then 1000 until I could comfortably swim a mile or more without stopping.

What a difference a year makes. Back then, I felt so out of place, watching in awe as swimmers in other lanes went lap after lap with no stopping. Old people, young people, men, women and kids - they could all kick my butt. Last night, things were different.

I walked in, fancy schmancy swim bag in tow and found an empty lane. The swimmers on either side stopped and looked at my bulging confident form with wide eyes. Even the life guards gave me a second glance. I was pregnant and I knew what I was doing. I was toting toys, for goodness sake - fins, pull buoy, goggles and Big Shark cap. They were in the presence of a pregalete.

So, I got into the lukewarm water and stretched myself out for a swim. I lapped the lady next to me until she finally got out. Then, I lapped the dude that replaced her. It was a good feeling - especially in my current, slowed down state. When I swim with the Masters Group, I am routinely served a big rich piece of humble pie. And that's a good thing usually, only occasionally causes nausea, doesn't seem to be affecting my slow weight gain - but sometimes, sometimes, a person, especially a pregnant person, needs a little boost of ego, a little encouragement, a little affirmation that, hey, you ain't doin' so bad, sistah.

I'm a slow swimmer and a slow runner, always have been. I'm even slower now. But its nice every once in awhile to see how I compare with the "average" person (or at least the average person actually making an effort to exercise which, really, isn't very average at all) rather than with the super crazy, kick ass athletes. Humble pie is good for you in moderation, but you can't really live off it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crunchy Mama

Its funny, motherhood, especially early motherhood (including pregnancy) seems to pull me back to my crunchy granola roots. My parents were far from being hippies but my mom strove for natural childbirth with all her pregnancies and breastfed all of us at a time when bottle feeding was "what people did" and both my folks ran a ski shop in Durango, Colorado, routinely employing long haired ski bums for whom bathing was optional. I had several tie dyed shirts. So, I suppose I come by it honestly. I didn't come into my own as a "Granola", however, until college in a small mountain town in North Carolina. There, theatre people were pretty much one with the hippy types and the attitude and way of life resonated with me. My best friend and I referred to ourselves as hippies with jobs.

Still, in mainstream society - particularly working in a law office - its easy to drift away from the scent of patchouli and the belief that Mother Earth truly has all we need. When I was pregnant with Boy Genius, I was immersed in peace, love, and the joys of natural motherhood. I was determined to follow in my mother's footsteps with a natural birth (I went for the meds after 18 hours of going it alone) and a breastfed baby (my son has never tasted formula and enjoyed mother's milk until he was two). Once he was born, I attended La Leche League meetings monthly, jokingly referred to myself as the Nazi of Breastfeeding (JOKINGLY - I really have no negative judgments on women who choose to bottle feed. If they want to malnourish their babies, that's their business ;) KIDDING!), and fed myself and my family a diet of whole foods. We even did cloth diapers after B.G. got a terrible diaper rash. Oh, and he spent most of his first year in my arms or in a sling. I was a crunchy mama. When Boy Genius headed to daycare at three and I headed back to work, I started to drift away from my hippie sensibilities. When I found a full time job two years ago and stopped doing theatre, I thought the transformation was complete. I still prefer the woods to a spa, but I thought I was over the tie dye years.

Then, the now legendary little pink plus sign. And, suddenly, I find myself longing for the smell of patchouli. I'm taking a Dancing for Birth class - and found myself envious last night when the other preggo in the class told me she was having a Home Birth. Not to be outdone, I'm speaking to my doula about the possibility of a water birth - in the hospital, I'm too much of a worry wort to be able to birth at home. So, here I am again - crunchy. I've pretty much determined to go cloth all the way this time - better for baby butts and the environment. And, of course, unless somebody cuts off my breasts, I'm nursing. Absolutely crunchy. Funny what motherhood does to a perfectly well adjusted professional. I guess its time to start shopping for tie dye - so you think they have tie dye trisuits?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

For Claire

OK, ok, you're right. I take too long. It seems that things come in spurts for me lately - energy, exercise, inspiration, the ability to eat what's put in front of me without feeling the need to gag - stuff like that. So, I'll get a spurt and go nuts then go into hibernation for a bit. Obviously, I've been hibernating.

Hibernation mode totally sucks in the workout department - my body just begs for sleep and, if there's one thing I've learned in the last couple of months, its that listening to my body is not optional during pregnancy. My Drill Sergeant Beast has been sent to her cave for a long winters nap - but she still rolls over in her sleep on mornings like this when the alarm goes off and, instead of getting out of bed and putting on my running clothes, I roll over and set it for an hour later. Beast growls quietly in her den when I do that, imparting the tiniest bit of guilt to usher me back into slumber. But, the body rules right now and I have to trust its wisdom - it really gives me no choice. When my body rebels now, I end up on the floor, or nearly - there's just no arguing.

As for the writing - well, there's times when I just don't feel like I have it in me. At those times, it seems easier to close my eyes when I get a break at work, or peruse a collection of birth stories online, or daydream about what life with the baby will be like. Its not that you guys aren't important to me - you are - its just that, when I'm in "hibernation", it hurts a little to be reminded of where I was just a short time ago. Its hard to see what everyone else is doing and planning, races, training, goals, etc. So, when I'm away for awhile, I hope you understand that I'm just cocooning for a bit, gathering the strength to come back and visit this other life - the one that waits for me at the other end of childbirth, the one I left behind for awhile to complete this important, cosmic job before me.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Embracing the Miracle

I've been struggling, sometimes succeeding, with making peace with this new body. Your encouragement has been incredibly helpful and I thank you for that! Still, though, so often I feel as though my body is betraying me - committing mutiny and usurping any plans I may have had for it. It occurred to me last night, though, that my body is not betraying me at all but offering one of the greatest gifts I could receive. Duh, you say, of course! But, I'm not always the sharpest pencil in the box. It takes me awhile. And the nature of this pregnancy, the surprise that it was, did not allow me to prepare for the changes that would come.

It took me (and Boy Genius' dad - as much as I hate to admit it now, I did have some help) a year and a half to conceive my son. It was heart breaking at times, month after month of being disappointed, but it removed almost all apprehension about the upheaval that would occur when that little plus sign finally made its appearance. Admittedly, I still had a moment of "Oh, shit!" when that first test came back positive. "Now I've done it!" I was suddenly responsible for another human being - and felt completely unprepared. But the pregnant thing was absolutely welcome - something I had longed for for ages - and so I sailed through the weight gain and the discomforts with minimal trauma.

I was younger then, too, though not as active. Still, my younger body dealt with the shifts a little more smoothly, I think. I'm pretty sure my back wasn't killing me at 11 weeks as it is now. And I actually lost weight in the first trimester due to morning sickness - so the scale wasn't climbing until my belly was "out to there" and that made it seem a little easier to deal with. Also, I pretty much hated my body when I got pregnant -sad, true, but at least I wasn't mourning the loss of a physique I had worked hard to attain. Not that my body was "all that" before this little peanut came knocking, but it was certainly in a condition I felt proud of. I was aware of my imperfections but I was still pleased with the overall state of the union. And all that is VERY superficial - except when you consider that I've spent much of my adult life at odds with what my body was, thinking I was "fat" when I clearly wasn't, sitting on the couch and eating when I clearly needed to move, being critical of every dimple, every pooch. So, the feeling of satisfaction I was beginning to foster this summer was a welcome respite from a life of body hatred. And now this.

I think I have the wisdom now to understand that this is yet another lesson in self acceptance and in embracing the amazing things my body is capable of. Just like grade school, though, I tend to resist new lessons, wishing that the last one I learned would be "enough". Truly learning can be a painful process. Yet, here I am.

And I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didn't secretly wish I could have another baby. I had tried to make peace and accept the fact that my childbearing days were over but the emptiness was there. The silent wish that I could do it over. Sometimes our whispered prayers, the ones we don't know we're saying, are our most fervent. And, this time, my most fervent, secret prayer was answered. It would be blasphemy to deny my gratitude. So, I'm straddling the conflicting emotions of overwhelming thankfulness and underlying resentment. I've only gained five pounds, but the beginning muffin top and additions to my hips make me cringe. Then, I see the first picture of my baby, posted on the refrigerator and I catch my breath. My baby. And, for the moment at least, I embrace the miracle and let go of my anxiety. Something I've never dreamed possible is coming true - and I know from experience that that is always a good thing.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Trick or Treat

Hubby and I went to a Halloween party last night dressed as many taxpayers' worst nightmare. Who says you have to be a monster to be scary?

Oh, and for the record, in Missouri a "Hoosier" is not someone who lives in Indiana but rather one who dwells in the less sophisticated areas of the state. Also refers to the type of people who often need DNA testing to determine the timeless question: "Who's your daddy?"

Thursday, October 25, 2007

End of an Era

Its really starting to hit me that Boy Genius won't be my only child anymore. Of course, I was intellectually aware of this as soon as that little pink plus sign appeared at 1:00 a.m. on September 18th. But, now that the initial shock and excitement have mellowed, that awareness is sinking into my gut.

From the moment I was pregnant with Boy Genius, and especially since I first saw him on that ultrasound screen, kicking his little legs, showing off his boyhood for everyone in the room, there has been an indescribable bond. I know it is not unique to him and me - most parents experience the same with their children, I'm sure. But, we are a world unto ourselves - mother and son - family of two. I'm sure his father felt outside of our tiny circle when we were married - and I imagine Hubby feels like an outsider at times, as I do with him and his two children. And now, our tiny circle is expanding. This isn't a bad thing at all, but it makes me sad - for him and for myself. Its the end of what we've known and the beginning of something unknown.

He feels it too. Just last night he was mourning that I wouldn't be available to just him anymore. When I promised that it was very important to me to continue to spend time alone with him, even after the baby is born, even in the first few months, he said "Don't promise that now because you'll regret it later when you can't keep it." It broke my heart that he had so little faith in my love for him. And I resented the little peanut, if only for a second, for coming between me and my boy. My special boy, my little man, my only. I do have faith that all of this will prove to be a good thing, I do. But it doesn't make it easy to say goodbye to our circle of two.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


This morning, after my swim (2700 - not too shabby), I was encouraged by a comment from one of my fellow swimmers. She's really a much better swimmer than me and yet, when we were talking about running and other athletic endeavors she made the comment that "Hanging out with you guys, the athletes, makes me feel like such a slacker." Wha? She's grouping me with the athletes? Lemme say there are some serious athletes in that bunch - chics that don't just win their age group but the whole frickin' race. Chics with 0% body fat and muscles that rival any beefcake. I've never really put myself in that league (mostly because - well - I'm not). But it was cool to hear that someone considers me an athlete. Especially in my current state. It gives me hope that my body and fitness will return someday. But, right now, it is different. I'm still working it, but things have changed. I'm not the "athlete" that I became such a short time ago. I'm a pregnant athlete - a pregalete. And that's a pretty cool thing to be. Even if chics on the trail give me funny looks because I'm going so slow. Maybe I should do what No Wetsuit Girl's friend did and say "Oh yeah, well I'm pregnant." to every person who looks at me funny. Or maybe I should just wait a couple more weeks (hours) and my belly will make the announcement for me. Right now, it could be mistaken for a beer gut, but that won't be so for long. I'll just keep truckin' in Pregalete style and see where I end up. Next stop: Mommylete.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Its All Good!

First OB appointment today went very well. I think I'm really going to like this OB - she's got three kids of her own, is very approachable, has a great sense of humor and is very supportive of me staying active throughout the pregnancy.

We got to see a picture of our little peanut - heartbeat going strong and measuring right at 9 weeks so everything looks perfect. I was also very happy to hear that the risk of miscarriage after 9 weeks is pretty low so, as my doc said, I'm over the hump. So, its really happening, people - not that I've had my doubts but it definitely seems a bit more real after seeing that little heart fluttering on the monitor.

Yesterday, my friend Linda and I got together to go for a nice hike on Taum Sauk "Mountain", the highest point in Missouri. We had beautiful weather and some nice fall color - and three years faded away like nothing as soon as we saw each other. Friendship is a beautiful thing.

Speaking of friendship - thanks for sticking with me through this about face and the adventure that is just beginning. You guys are just the best - supporting me through my first season of tri and now this. So, anyway, I 'preciate it! Let the "off-season" begin!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm Still Here!

First of all, I'm sorry for my inactivity here in blogland. Many, many excuses, most of them uninteresting. The main thing is, I guess, that I started this blog as a "tri blog" and, though I'm still swimming and running (and occasionally getting on my bike), "tri-ing" seems far, far in the distance right now. Especially as my current pace - on the road or in the water - resembles one more likely to be found in the Senior Olympics - in the stands - than at any self-respecting triathlon. Honestly, I've seen people toting oxygen and using a walker move faster. So, that's been a little . . . how shall we say. . . detrimental to my self esteem? A lady gave me a look during my long run on Saturday with Hubby and I said to him "See, people are starting to notice I'm pregnant - I'm getting the belly looks." I was thinking I'd graduated to the "bad ass pregnant chic" who's out there running. "No," Hubby graciously corrected me,"I think she was just looking at you because you're obviously into running with your fuel belt and your tri top but you're running so slow, so she was wondering what was up with that." "oh." "right." So, I'm a little worried I don't have much to offer anymore but complaints about how sucky the first trimester is or tips on how not to get run over by the faster crowd who can't even get out "on your left" before they've overtaken you. Its a new kind of adventure this "prego" thing. I've done it before, but not quite the same way - I was lucky to peel my pregnant a$$ off the couch to get another helping of Macho Nachos back then, much less run 4 miles in the dark. And that seems like a really long time ago. Really long time. So, its kind of like I'm starting over - sailing into uncharted waters.

I had an epiphany in the pool yesterday. I was bemoaning my slowness (what else is new?) when it occurred to me how good the water felt. And it hit me - this time is not about goals or improvements or times or miles or yards. Its about moving - as much as I can for as long as I can - just keep moving. And in that regard, I think I'm doing pretty well. I'll add another "goal" to that - just keep writing. And if you want to keep reading, that's just glorious with me. Your friendship and support has meant a lot to me and it will continue to. I promise not to leave you in the dark for too long, anymore. And to read more of those fabulous blogs in my sidebar!

Peace out, friends.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


This morning, in the pool, I made peace with my body and where its at right now. Coincidentally, or not, this has led to a chain reaction of happy goodness and one of my best days ever.

From the beginning:

Last night - Tri-Hubby shows me the back cover of The Conservationist. On it is a picture of best friend whom I haven't spoken with in 3 and a half years (does that make her my ex-best friend). She has adopted a section of the Blair Creek Trail, the trail Tri-Hubby and I hiked last month for our anniversary - the trail where I first suspected that I might be "with child". What a weird coincidence. I silently hope she is doing well and, once again, regret parting ways with her.

Alarm rings at 4:20a.m. Ugh. Nibble some cereal, set the timer for 10 min. and rest some more - all per "manage morning sickness" instructions.

4:30 a.m.- out of bed. Tri-Hubby is getting over a bug and opts to sleep in this morning. I go upstairs and check my email. Unbelievably, there is an email from my best friend. Its not to me, but to an email group we both belong to - but it has her email on it. I send her a quick note about the magazine without much expectation of hearing back from her - its been so long, so much water under that bridge. I get my shtuff together and head out the door.

5:00 a.m. - in the pool. The workout today is a series of long intervals - 300s and 400s. I've already decided that, after Friday and the pity fest that followed that swim, I will take it easy - no sprints, no pushing. The long sets allow me to find my rhythm, enjoy the water, and daydream about what life will be like when the baby comes, resuming "training" again and what it might be like next fall, competing in the Lake St. Louis Sprint. These dreams keep me content to coast and keep my heart rate steady. I get in 2900 yds and leave the pool feeling a bit tired but refreshed.

7:00 a.m. - back home. I'm actually able to ingest a cup of coffee. Caffeine is not my best friend right now but a little kick is really helpful - and has been impossible to stomach since last week. I take my little cup of joe as a good sign that I just might feel good today.

9:00 a.m - work - I open my email and find an email from my best friend. She is not my ex-best friend. She is happy that I emailed her as she's been thinking about me but has lost my email address. To top it off, she's in love and doing fabulously. We agree to speak this evening - too much water under that bridge to cover in an email. I find myself leaking tears of joy. I have missed her so very much.

The rest of the day - Reprieve from morning sickness, actual tangible energy and finally a peace that my body has a job to do. I am not a lump, I am not a wuss, my body will not be "destroyed". I am grateful that I have the fitness base that I do to get me through the endurance event that is pregnancy. I am grateful for this day. I am grateful for everything. Ahh. That feels so good.


Friday, October 5, 2007

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Who is this person taking over my previously capable body? What has she done with the Beast? Most importantly - will I ever be normal again?

This morning, in the pool, I felt like I'd been sucked into a slow motion machine - no matter what I did to try and propel my body forward, I seemed to be stuck in this maddeningly slow trajectory. I was only able to log 2500 yds and still got out of the pool feeling like someone sucked my energy out with a straw. I'm still in that mode - despite a 45 min. nap post swim.

My drive is diminishing - if not out and out gone. My body is expanding - and its only been six weeks! I'm feeling sorry for myself - despite my underlying gratefulness for all of my unwarranted blessings.

I was 200 lbs when I went into labor with Boy Genius. That was an unbearable number to see on the scale - baby or no baby. I'm terrified that the same will happen this time, despite the unarguable fact that I am in MUCH better shape (like 100% better) than I was when I was pregnant with BG, despite the fact that I'm vigilant about what I eat and how much (usually. there's still some chocolate going on, people, I'm only human!) - I fear that this pregnancy will be like a landslide, piling uncontrollably onto my body until I'm unrecognizable as my former self. Kind of a stupid thing to be "terrified" of, really, considering all the real threats in this world, but there it is, nonetheless.

Sorry for the rant but I'm just at a total loss. I'd forgotten what a roller coaster the first trimester is. The last month and its unbelievable girth was really all that stuck in my mind. By the time my due date came and went I had come to believe that there was no baby - everyone had been lying to me and I had just gotten incredibly fat. Imagine the shock and awe that ensued when BG made his 10 lb entrance into the world. I'm sure it will be a similar adventure with this little bit. There's just so much that's unknown, its kind of scary. Imagine, big, bad, brave me trembling with fear at the thought of a tiny little baby. Stranger things have happened friends, stranger things indeed.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Before and After



I'm just sayin.

Its Not Easy Being Green.

Oy. Well, up to now, I figured I was dodging the whole "morning sickness" gig. I credited my fitness, my regular exercise and my healthy diet. Silly me.

Last night, around 1:00 a.m., it reared its ugly, nauseous head. So far, it seems to be like my first pregnancy - nearly constant nausea but no actual - um - puking. Sorry. There's no delicate way to say it.

So, today, I'm exhausted, grumpy and ill. I skipped my swim this morning - when the alarm went of at 4:20 a.m., I just couldn't do it. I know. Wuss.

I'm running tomorrow, hell or high water. Running has kept me feeling "normal", even though I have to slow down ridiculously. At least I'm showing a bit so I have a visible excuse for running like a 200 year old tortoise (well, actually, I'm showing a lot. Twins and Triplets are words I've heard quite a bit the last couple of weeks - I'm not "supposed" to be showing at all. I'll take a picture. I'm sure you'll love me for it.) .

We went out for a bike ride yesterday morning - TriHubby's bike was finally done - they had to order some parts and move a few mountains to get it to fit him properly - and we wanted to take the new tribike couple out for a spin. Unfortunately, when we arrived, Pyro's back tire had burst. Apparently, we had it hanging too close to the exhaust and it kind of melted the tire. Damn Newbies. We just can't seem to get anything right!

So, that was total suckage, but I did get a nice walk in while TriHubby rode Teacher (more on that name later) back and forth. He had the clipless pedals instantly - I was jealous - and the issue of him "trying" to keep up with me is now obviously over. He was flying!!! I felt so proud of him as I watched him zoom away - he's going to really kick some ass, lemme tell ya. And walking gave me a whole new perspective on a trail that I've ridden many, many times. Of course, some of the time was spent bemoaning the last time I'd ridden that trail and done a 40 miler followed by a three mile run off. Those were the days, my friends, those were the days. But much of my walk was very enjoyable - there's so much you don't notice when your riding or running a trail and focusing on speed or power or cadence. The river was just beautiful - slow and powerful, like me! And I was able to really examine a ceramic mural that decorates the trail head - the detail was amazing! To think I just flew by that mural so many times thinking, "huh, that's pretty." but never really noticed it. How much of life do I just hurry through? Funny how lessons come to us as we need to learn them. Time to slow down a bit, take in the detail, and be grateful for all that I have. I think I can deal with that assignment - if I can just get over this green feeling!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Year to Count Time By

Saturday, I turned 36. And while the "well meaning" comments of a very few regarding my age and the multitude of risks it carries to my unborn child have occasionally sent me into a panic, for the most part, I'm pleased as punch with this phase of my life. It has most definitely been a year to count time by.

I discovered a well spring of personal strength - physical, emotional, mental and spiritual - in training for my first ever season of triathlon (and most assuredly not the last).

I made friends in person and online with an army of amazing people.

I made a significant turn on a path towards healing that I've been walking for many years. Its been so significant to me, I'm thinking of writing it all down in hopes that someone else might benefit.

I hope that I have grown as a person, a mother and a wife.

Just before the end of "my year" (Vickie posted on her birthday that we should measure our years by birthdays rather than January 1), as you know, I discovered that I have received the ultimate gift - a baby on the way!

Not many years are as eventful and full of blessings as this one has been. I pray that I have the wisdom to be truly grateful for all of these things -and for the gift of time and the chance at another day, each and every day.

On a lighter note, I also hope that work lightens up so that I can keep up with my blog and all those on my sidebar. Who ever made this "work at work" rule needs to rethink the plan!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Swim Bike Run for Two

OK, let me start off by promising that not every post for the next nine months is going to be about pregnancy. Kay? K.

That said, obviously, this effects things. All things. Notably, swim bike run things, speedy things, PR things, racing things.

I plan to stay as active as I can for as long as I can. Early yesterday morning, as in 3am, after I found out what was up and had stayed up talking to Hubby, I found I still couldn't sleep. So, I went for a run. Easy, Zone 1, 3 am 4 miler. It felt awesome. I spent the time talking to the little bit in my belly, enjoying the absolute stillness of the world at that time of day, and trying not to notice how FREAKIN' SLOW I was going. In fact, when I glanced down at the stop watch and saw it approaching the 50 min mark, well before I rounded the corner for home, I stopped and cleared the thing. So, my vow is, until the baby is born, I will no longer time my runs and bikes. Its all about heart rate from here on out, baby. A really extended base build, if you will.

This morning, I got in the pool. Warm up was OK - felt a little tired, but who doesn't at 5:00 in the morning. When I attempted the 50 yd "build" of the first set, however, my body said "No thank you." So, going fast, at least today, was just not happening. I'm really coming to the understanding that goals are going to have sort of go out the window for now. At least goals in time or miles. My goal is to keep going when I can and rest when I must. Also, I'm thinking of shooting for the Lake St. Louis sprint distance in 2008, knowing full well that things may prevent it from happening. However, having the hope of a race on the distant horizon will help me accept the current scheme of things. I can't be a speed demon now - but I will be someday. Ironman is even farther in the future - but it will still be there when I'm ready. I've got my own "Ironman" event to prepare for. Let's hope this one doesn't go three days like the last one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Very Big News

We had an awesome trip. We went to the Blair Creek Section of the Ozark Trail - rich with scenery and history.

The trail was well marked and it was usually pretty easy to find where you were on the topo.

There was plenty of water and lots of great spots to stop and rest. Which was good because twenty miles of hills is a difficult task with a full pack. I was hoping my current level of fitness would be helpful in that regard but I was inordinately exhausted through much of the trip. More on that later.

Unfortunately, all of our pictures are from the first five miles or so. The camera fell into a creek at one of the plentiful water crossings.

To the left is Missouri's only raised fen. A fen is kind of like a bog crossed with a spring.
Below are a couple of structures we saw along the trail. The first is a spring house
of some sort and the second looks like an old root cellar.
On the second day, there was an old cemetery which was really interesting. The young ages of most of its inhabitants proves how difficult life was in these mountains. It was sad to see all of the graves of babies and young children alongside their parents sometimes, who often had also died young. Makes you very thankful for the high standard of living that many of us enjoy today.
Saturday evening, after a simple but incredibly satisfying dinner, Tom presented me with a pair of beautiful pearl and diamond earrings to commemorate our second anniversary. I am such a lucky woman! My husband agreed to hike 20 hilly miles with me on our anniversary and hauled this lovely gift all the way up the mountain to surprise me.
We got off the trail Sunday evening absolutely exhausted but rejuvenated. Its a good thing we got some alone time because we were in for quite a surprise.
As I said before, I was really disappointed that my fitness earned through training didn't translate to the trail. My legs felt pretty strong but I couldn't shake the tired feeling for most of the way. That sort of sucked and I was disappointed in my body. Until this morning. Which brings me to my Very Big News.
First, the bad news : the marathon is out for this year.
The Good News: you know how I likened Lake St. Louis to giving birth to the beast I was growing my belly? Well, it looks like its time to grow another manner of beastie - of the baby variety. Yep, I have a little tri bun in the oven. No wonder I was so tired.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Into the Woods

Well, friends, Tri Hubby and I are heading out tonight for a much awaited weekend in the wilderness. I finally get to test drive the sahweet Osprey Aura pack I got for Christmas. All this pesky training has gotten in the way of backpacking. We don't really do much summer packing anyway - its really hot and humid and, well, we are wusses - so Spring and Fall are our backpacking seasons of choice. This spring I was - ah - busy. Learning to ride a bike, learning to swim and stuff and didn't feel I could afford a whole weekend away from such activities. I hereby vow that next spring I will have established a strong enough base that I can confidently take a few weekends off to play in the woods.

So, FINALLY, we go. This weekend is our anniversary which makes it extra super special (2 years of matrimonial bliss - still newlyweds) and the kids are with their respective "other parents" so we will have some privacy to - um - hike and stuff. And be Free Range Humans (can't take credit for that, I saw it in a Vasque ad this morning - love it!).

I'm also looking forward to exercising my Backpacking Rule - which is Eat Absolutely Whatever I Want With No Guilt. I've been attempting, with limited success, to buckle down a bit in my eating habits lately. See, apparently, you can't eat absolutely everything in sight even if you are training for a Super Difficult Ass Kicking Olympic Triathlon. Or, rather, you CAN, but you will, apparently, gain weight. That's probably not muscle. That makes pants that fit you last fall, BEFORE you started training for the Super Difficult Ass Kicking Olympic Triathlon and thought that doing same would make you shrink, um ... tight. So, yeah. I'm buckling down a bit. And it SUCKS. But, as heretofore mentioned (can you tell I work for a law firm?) my Backpacking Rule stands this weekend. I look forward to returning to more clothes that don't fit.

Mostly, though, I'm looking forward to enjoying the quiet of the trail with Tri-Hubby and Dudley. Being away from civilization quiets my head and makes me feel centered again. I feel more like myself in the woods than anywhere else - training comes close sometimes, but it doesn't quite compare. And there's nothing better than feeling like myself with my favorite guy and the best dog in the world for company.

So, me an' my boys will catch y'all latah. Peace Out - and have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Know My Word

Stronger will probably understand what I'm talking about, and anyone else who's read Oriah Mountain Dreamer's The Call. For those of you who haven't had the chance to read it yet (I'm sure its on your To Do list), I'll try to give a brief description.

The premise of the book is that we all have a calling and that calling can be summarized in a single word. So, ultimately, its about finding your word then going out to live it and share it with the rest of the world. She stresses that it can't be something that you were born knowing. Her thought - and I believe it to be true - is that its nearly impossible to teach something you know instinctively. Try teaching someone to breathe. Or, if you're rhythm crazy like me, to dance. The best teachers are those who didn't know how to do something - in fact that subject was a complete and utter mystery to them - yet who finally figured that something out. They can teach it because they remember what it felt like not to know - and can clearly define the steps they took in order to really understand. Each person's "something" is different - but its something that is vitally important to their growth in this life. Something that they will be tested on again and again until they finally figure it out. That "something" is their word. When I read the book years ago, I searched and searched my heart, my psyche, my spirit and my life to find that word. I came up with a few ideas, but none of them ultimately resonated - at least not for more than a few months. They were all important lessons - slow down, have courage, have faith, believe in yourself - but none of them were my word.

Then, yesterday evening, on my way home from a meeting with my therapist (what!?!? Yes, world, I have been in therapy and will explain all of it one of these days, if you're interested) when the word came out and hit me right between the eyes. Empower. That's it. That's my mission. First, to empower myself and then, somehow - only Spirit knows exactly - to pass it on.

My first mission isn't quite accomplished - I suspect it will be an ongoing journey - but I'm getting very, very close. And, again, the Mystery of my Why - why did I start training? why triathlon? why marathon? why push yourself so hard? - is illuminated. Its not because I feel I need the abuse. Its not because I want to win races. Or even because I want to go faster. When I train, when I race, when I conquer yet another element of triathlon that has seemed impossible - I feel powerful. This power has been immeasurably important to me - how much so I will have to go into another day. Today, I just want to revel in the joy of finding my word. Empower. So it is.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

When to Say When

I have a problem. I don't always know when to stop. Or, rather, I know when I should stop - or at least pull back - but I don't do it.

Case in point: This morning.

I'm not officially in marathon training until September 23 - I have a ten week plan from Triathlete Magazine that I'll be following as closely as I can. With the plan in mind, however, I'm trying to build my mileage and intensity so that I'll ease into the plan a little. It will still be a jump, there's just no avoiding it, but I'm trying to make the jump as low as possible. ANYWAY - this morning I had a one hour run on the books that would mimic my "plan" Tuesday run with 6 - 8 4 minute intervals at threshold with a 2 minute rest period. I chose to do 6 intervals because I imagined I was being conservative.

The first four intervals felt awesome - I was cruising at threshold (as much as one can "cruise" at that pace), feeling like superwoman, recovering quickly during my two minute jog. The fifth interval started fine but by the end, I could feel the wheels coming off. My legs started to hurt in odd places, I just knew I was just about done. But I had one interval left. I knew I had one interval left in me, but not much more than that. My brain said "Now would be a great time to stop with the intervals and cool down. Remember what The Training Bible said? Stop when you think you only have one interval left in you. Stop with something still in the tank." Brain made very good sense. However Beast said "NO! The plan said I can do one more. I'm doing one more!!!" Beast has her good points, but wisdom and restraint aren't necessarily among them. Beast cannot be reasoned with. And Brain was too tired to argue. So Beast got her way and I did 6. When I got home, I re-read the plan and realized that I was supposed to WALK the rest periods, not JOG. All I can say about that now is: "OUCH."

I'm sitting here, two Naproxin ingested, making friends with my ice pack. My piriformis hurts, my IT band is bitching, my right Achilles is tight and I have a weird pain on the side of my foot. Fabulous.

So, marathon training is off to a great start.

On another note, T-shirt ideas:

"Shamelessly flaunting my imperfections"

Front: "Quit Glaring and Run With Me."
Back: " I Dare You."

"My animal wants your animal to come out and play." But, that could be misconstrued. Hmmm.

Any other ideas?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dare You.

Hey, you. Yeah, both of you - the lady in front of me buying a dozen doughnuts, and you too, cashier. What's the deal? What's the glare for?

What exactly do you have a problem with? Is it the fact that I'm sweaty? That I dare to come into the grocery store in my running clothes, a thin layer of grime from the trail still clinging to me? Is it my muscles? My smell? I know I'm not a daisy, but I'm pretty sure you can't smell me from way over there. And the dude behind me doesn't seem to have a problem with it. Just you two.

Or is it that I'm obviously a regular person, just like you? That I have cellulite on the backs of my thighs, just like you, a belly stretched out by growing a baby, just like you, a few wrinkles coming in, a less than perfect body and unspectacular hair - and I'm not letting any of that keep me from moving, running, sweating and being? Is it that I'm standing here, brazen and unashamed of my imperfections, unashamed that I sweat and bleed and get dirty?

Or is it that my ordinaryness reminds you that you too could sweat and bleed and get dirty? That you too could embrace the wild animal inside of you that wants to run free and work hard and throw away the makeup? Did your animal see my animal glinting at you through my eyes and threaten to stage a mutiny? Is that what pisses you off about me?

Sorry for showing up like this - normally, I would take a shower and put on some cleaner clothes - but I've seen you giving me a similar glare even then. See, its my kids birthday and I don't have any time to waste. So I apologize.

And, hey, I don't hold your glares against you. I get it. Its scary looking at what you might be if you only tried. I'm not better than you, just braver. At least right now. But you could be brave too, if you wanted to. Anyone can. And that's what's really making you mad, isn't it? So I dare you. I dare you to quit glaring and come run with me. I might be slowing down to let you keep up with me now - but later, I might be struggling just to stay on your heels. You might leave me in your dust. You never know. Not until you try.

So I dare you.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Boy Genius!

Tomorrow, my baby turns eight. Eight years old. Where does time go?
This morning, we walked to school in the rain, a big umbrella sheltering us from the deluge. He was a bundle of giggles and sparkling energy. Its so much fun to see him in such a good mood.
We used to walk in the rain when he was a toddler and I was a stay at home mom, he in his little blue duck rain boots, I holding the big umbrella. I blinked and I was walking him to second grade.
Back then, he would stop at every puddle and jump until I guided him to the next one - like every kid does. This morning, he didn't jump in every puddle - his momma cautioned him against spending the day with wet feet - but I could see by the glint in his eye that he wanted to.
Back then, he wanted to spend every moment that he wasn't exploring on my lap. No one but momma would do. Now, he prefers to spend his time running the neighborhood with his pack of boys, getting muddy, riding bikes, performing death defying stunts on scooters, bikes and skateboards - I am relegated to watching from the kitchen window, chewing on my lip, bursting out the door to put a stop to any activity that is truly dangerous - like riding sleds down the neighbor's driveway into the street ?!?!
Still, sometimes he throws his arms around me and tells me he loves me. He still wants me to kiss him goodnight. And at least three times a week or so, he crawls in my lap for a snuggle, smiles his little smile with his head on my shoulder.
He's grown into quite a little boy. When we arrive at school, we are greeted by a chorus of little voices, calling his name, happy to see him. I take that as a good sign. He's funny, spunky and scary smart - all qualities I admire. I just can't tell you how proud I am of him.
I remember driving with him one evening when he was about three. We were on our way home from somewhere, darkness and silence surrounding us. His little voice comes out of the backseat, out of nowhere and says "I love the whole world." Words to aspire to for all of us.
Happy Birthday, little man. Time flies too quickly, but I'm so happy to spend it as your mom.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

First Run

This morning was my first run since my race. I know it wasn't that long ago - like four whole days - but it still seemed significant when I set out this morning.

It was raining. Hard. The "lazy me" wanted to stay inside, go back to bed, extend my recovery by another day. But the "beast" wanted to go out and play - rain or no rain - and the "beast" won this round.

It was still relatively warm - 71 - so, once I got moving, the temp felt perfect. And the rain wasn't nearly as drenching as it sounded like from inside my house. It was actually more of a gentle shower, welcoming the day, quenching the thirst of the dry ground and inviting me back to my roots.

This is where I started - running. I've always considered myself a runner, even though when I started years ago, I was painfully slow. I think that label helped get me out the door on mornings like these, when it would have been easier to stay in bed. It helped me push my six month old son in that old jogging stroller over miles and miles in the heat and humidity when it would have been easier to stay in the air conditioning. It helped me to quell the "fat monster" who insisted I was a cow every time I passed a mirror. I was a runner. That was power to me.

This morning helped me to believe that I'm still a runner. I'm a little quicker than I used to be, and that feels good. I'm a lot stronger than I was at the beginning of the season, and that feels awesome. This morning's run was a new route that Tri Hubby discovered a couple of days ago - its an addition to an already hilly route we've been running since we moved to this 'hood. The addition includes three more hills, two of them very steep. We drove it yesterday and it looked pretty intimidating, especially considering the long, slow grind of a hill that finishes mile three of the route. You know what's waiting for you at the top of those hills - more hills! I used to hate hills - they reminded me of my limitations, aggravated my asthma and often forced me to a walk. But today, today the hills seemed to melt underneath my feet. Just like they did on Saturday. I still only averaged 11:00 miles, but I felt like I was flying. And, more importantly, I felt strong, at ease, natural. I felt like a runner.

Sitting here now, I'm a little sore. My legs are certainly voicing their displeasure for putting them through those particular 5 miles. They'll get over it, though. They're gonna have to. We've got a marathon to run, after all. Gulp. A marathon.

So, after yesterday's post, the consensus seems to be that the marathon will be hard. Really Hard. As in: The Hardest Thing I've Ever Done. Except for possibly childbirth - that was a bitch of an endurance race for me: three days culminating in the birth of a bouncing 10 lb. baby boy. Yes, I said three days and yes, he was ten pounds. And no, I didn't have a C-section. Thankfully, the last nine hours were blessed by an epidural. But, I digress.

I hope I don't get injured. I hope I don't DNF. I hope I don't fall over. I'm NOT planning on racing the thing. Its gonna be years before I'm ready to actually RACE 26.2 miles. I'm just hoping to finish. I think I'm partway doing this to talk myself out of wanting to do an Ironman. I figure after the misery of a marathon, I'll be able to quench that little desire burning in the back of my head. Now is not the time for IM. Not in my life. As our friend, Bold says in today's post, Ironman is not the measure of a person, but how you manage life around Ironman is. I cannot manage life around Ironman training right now - that mountain is going to have to wait. As I have come to realize, however, the "beast" is not easily placated. She wants what she wants when she wants it. So, I'm feeding her a little marathon. See how that sits with her. I'm hoping that fills her belly for awhile.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Next Up:

Marathon. Wow. What is it about me that has to keep raising the bar to be satisfied?

Funny, up to this point, I've been thinking about the marathon as a means to an end - 10 plus weeks of focused running to improve that portion of the beast that is triathlon. Not that I haven't intellectually respected the distance, but, subconsciously, I've just seen it as one long training exercise. I have a feeling that will change when those long runs start exceeding the 3 hour mark.

Sigh. Well, I guess if we truly thought out everything we did, we'd never reach. If I'd taken the time to really analyze how triathlon training would effect my life, I might never had done it. And I would have missed out on all the intangible benefits that training has blessed me with. I could have predicted that it would change my body - though I think I expected more dramatic, visible changes than actually occurred. The other stuff - some things you never see coming and you're not supposed to. You just enjoy them when they fall on you - like unexpected rain in the desert. I suppose marathon training will bring similar blessings - and challenges - that I just can't see from where I'm standing.

So, I'll just take a step, then another, then another - and hopefully I'll reach that destination, just by putting one foot in front of the other. Its worked so far. After all, I'm here, aren't I? And Here is a really good place to be.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Beast in my Belly

Race day really started yesterday, when I came home to flowers from Tri-Hubby and a card that read "You Are Gonna Rock!" That was a pretty cool beginning to my Night Before the Race Vigil. I never got that last workout in, only a nap, some stretching and some quality time with my Stick. I know what you're thinking. Click on the link, you won't be dissapointed ;). Most of the evening, I just read all of your comments (You guys rock!), chilled, and packed my bag, sometimes stopping to take a big breath and keep myself calm. This was a big deal for me (in case 'ya didn't notice!) and I had to struggle to keep it in perspective at times. All in all, I kept it together and settled down for a fitfull nights sleep at about 9:00. Boy Wonder was home from college this weekend and managed to wake us up not once, but twice as he came and went trying to figure out if he was sleeping at his mom's or his dad's. But, it wasn't like I was getting alot of deep sleep anyway so, no harm no foul. Thankfully, I had read somewhere that its the sleep you get two nights before the race that really counts, so I wasn't too worried.

The alarm went off at 4:00 a.m. and I shot out of bed. I had everything ready to go the night before, so I really just ate my oatmeal, got dressed, and did a bunch more of those deep cleansing breaths. You would've thought I was in labor or something. And really, when you think about it, I was. In fact, the seed was planted in my brain in November, nine months ago, when I got it in my head I wanted to try a tri. And this morning, in the pre-dawn of my A Race, I was about to give birth to the beast I was growing in my belly these long months of training. My FTE was like the ultrasound - a little peak at what was in there, just enough to make me fall in love.

Tri-Hubby was up not long after me, packing a cooler to share with my Mom, Dad and Thithy (that's Our Family speak for sissy) and her two year old. Once again, they made the trek from the other side of two rivers to come and sit in the sun and get an occasional glimpse of me swimming, biking or running by. I'm just overwhelmed at the support of my family. This was definately not thier idea - in fact, I think they probably thought I was a little crazy to want to do this - and yet, they got up early on a Saturday morning and came out and cheered my name and kept me going. You've gotta love those people! Also, my friend Sally and her husband Steve came out - cowbells in tow - and yelled for me. Again, I'm just overwhelmed at the support I've had. The best thing about my summer in this sport has been the people I've met - in real life, online, and, twice, both. Triathletes are just awesome people.
But I digress. We made our way to the race sight by 5:30 a.m., were guided to a parking spot, and proceeded to situate Pyro on her rack and set up my transition area. This event was so well organized - bike racks were designated for each wave, the race director stood on the top of the timing chip trailer and made announcements throughout the morning, letting us know the water temp (77.5 - absolutely perfect), the rules regarding transition, reminding us to pick up our chips, telling us where the food was, etc. It really helped and I never had to deal with that "what do I do if . . ." kind of anxiety. There was a woman racked right next to me who was doing her First Tri Ever, the short course. I felt a kinship with her and told her this was only my second and reassured her that she would have a blast. Then, I walked down to the swim start. The contractions were coming closer together - I knew it wouldn't be long now. And I began to feel strangely calm. The sun was coming up over the beautiful lake. The buoys looked as far out as ever, but I knew I could make them, I'd done it before. The air was chilled but I knew that the chill would be a comfort while I was doing the work that was set out before me.

There was a pre-race meeting which pretty much repeated what the director had been announcing since dawn. Again though, it was comforting to feel like I knew what was going on, that I didn't have to worry about the details of the race, only to focus on what I could do. After the business end was concluded, he announced that Kevin Hunt, the triathlete that you may recall died during the swim leg of a race in June, had been registered to race this morning. He said that he was sure Kevin was looking down on all of us with pride - and though it sounds kind of cliche now, it did feel that way, and I was grateful that they mentioned him. We had a moment of silence for Kevin then the national anthem was sung. I got in a quick warmup and, before I knew it, it was time to head down for the swim start. It was time to deliver the beast.

My overall impression of the race was that it went by so fast - I was expecting to have a feeling like "Oh my gosh, I've been out here so long" but it never came. The swim was as close as I came to that because, well, you know, I swim slow. I still managed to pass some people - even some in the wave in front of me. That, I couldn't believe, I was like "Look at me, I'm passin' people that started five minutes ahead of me!" Of course, then I had to look to make sure they were alright and still moving and stuff, and, thankfully, they all were. I certainly got passed a lot more than I passed, but that's par for the course for me. I'll get better. I hope. Still, before I knew it, it was over and I was heading out of the water. I wasn't last in my leg, but I was close, so I was anxious to get on the bike and get moving.

Swim Split: 38:45

There was a relatively long trek back to Pyro from the beach - and when I first got out of the water I was a little woozy from being horizontal for so long. So T1 was slow.


As I ran up the sidewalks (which myseteriously hurt my feet on the way down and didn't even register on the way up), I heard Sally and Steve and Tri-Hubby and Mom and Dad and Thithy yelling my name. They were my doulas, encouraging me to keep moving, keep breathing, and the beast, the beast who's been growing and stretching and waiting to wake up, the Phoenix, she made her appearance sometime after I got on the bike.

I'm not sure I can pinpoint the exact moment of her birth - was it that first hill that seemed so hard last Sunday that just dissolved beneath my wheels today? Or was it the first person I passed along the way? Or maybe it was when I felt the wind - wind that was not made my nature because all the flags hung limp on their poles- it was my wind, Pyro's wind, the wind of the beast. Whenever she made her entrance, her presence was known througout the entire bike - I attacked every hill, often staying in the big ring all the way to the crest and feeling only exhilaration; I passed a lot of people - men, women, people on hybrids, people in kit on nice bikes - lots of people were tied to posts out there on the course this morning, especially on the up hills. I'm not saying I was never out of breath, because I was, or that my quads were never on fire, because they were, it was just that everything clicked for me and I never felt misery, only elation to be out there, to be moving, to be FLYING on my Pyro. I was yelling thank you to every volunteer, every police officer, every spectator sitting on their lawns and cheering us on. I felt so grateful to all those people who had come out to make this day safer and less stressful for all of us out there. I can't even put it into words - it almost moved me to tears. I saw several members of my team out there also. Every time we'd pass we'd yell "Go Big Shark!" Totally awesome. It all brought home the affirmation I read this morning "God is in all, and all is well." That was the perfect theme for the day.

The bike was not without my typical dorkiness, unfortunately. The beast may have been born, but she's still a little baby. There was a U turn at one end of the bike course, about half way, and I was worried about it. You know, me and cornering are not good friends. I've been working on No Wetsuit Girl's tips, and they're helping, but I ain't there yet. So, when the U turn came, I almost executed it - but I went off the road, right at the end. Into the gravel. Luckily, I was going slow, saw it coming and was clipped out and ready to catch myself. It was fine, just embarrasing. But, I laughed, said "I knew I was going to do that!" And went on.

Nutrition was going great - except for the Gu I lost somewhere on the course. Which apparently fell, open, onto my water bottle. I discovered this when I stopped, as I'd planned, to fill my empty Aero Bottle with water and switch to Gu and water for the remainder of the course. Suddenly, I had Gu all over my hands. I was laughing, trying to lick it off, my hands sticking to the handlebars. That's going to be fun to clean! But, I was getting in the calories and having fun, so it was all good.

Suddenly, I was at the end of the bike. I couldn't believe how fast it had gone! At that point, I didn't know my speed or my time as I had forgotten to set my bike computer and my watch just wasn't working right. So I was racing blind. Imagine my surprise when I saw the result online.

Bike Time: 1:22:32 Avg Speed: 18

Yep. 18. That's the fastest average I have EVER had on any 25 mile ride, much less a hilly one. I will so take it.

T2 was a little quicker, not as much run time, not as much stuff to switch out: 1:37.

The run began. The first half mile felt hard, my legs were feeling some of those hills from the bike. But, before I knew it, I was feeling amazingly strong. I felt like I was going pretty slow, but I decided to maintain for awhile. I didn't want to give up that feeling. I can't describe how awesome I felt. My legs felt fresh, springy even, my breathing was easy, I didn't even notice the hills on the run. It was like they didn't exist. And I passed people. In fact, I only got passed by one person that I can remember. Of course, it was a chick. In my age group. But I let her go. I was having way too much fun, feeling way too awesome to let that get me. The run seemed to fly by. And, I saw Tryan out there! He looked really strong. He yelled "Go Phoenix!" And I yelled "Go, Tryan!" So, there wasn't any earth shattering wisdom exchanged, but it felt good anyway.
Soon, it was time to turn around. Now, I thought, now you start to pick it up. At first, it just wasn't happening. Legs were like "Nope, we like this pace. This feels good to us. Tell your time goal to kiss it." But, after I passed the 5 mile mark, I was able to convince them to give a little more.

As I rounded the corner to the finish line, I heard Tryan yell "Go Phoenix" again. Then I heard Tri Hubby and Mom and Dad and Thithy and legs said "Let's RUN." And so we did. I crossed the line, heard the beep, and Tri-Hubby was there to put his arms around me.

Run: 54:28 Pace per mile: 8:47. That's a PR. I guess I wasn't going as slow as I thought. That, or the beast has wings.

Final Time: 3:00 even. 5th out of 13 in my Age Group.

That's just peachy with me.
After I finished, I was hanging out, soaking all of it in when I saw a woman in my wave come across the finish line. I had noticed her at the start, looking nervous, and had seen her again on the run - she was headed out while I was coming back - and she had looked like she was struggling but hanging in there. I'm pretty sure she was last in our age group - and one of the last people across the finish - but when she finished, she let out the most triumphant "Whooo!" and her little girl, who couldn't have been more than two, rushed into her mommy's arms. I thought, "She's like me." She probably decided some time this year that she was going to try to do this. And, like me, she probably didn't know if she could. But, she did. And that was her triumph. It was my triumph too. At that moment, I had no idea where I stood in the final results. And I absolutely didn't care. That woman's finish was my finish. We were out there together, giving birth to something we'd never imagined. Something that makes us more than what we were last winter. Something that makes us more than "enough".

Friday, August 31, 2007

Deep. Breath.

OK. Almost there, peeps, almost race time.

I'm trying to work on my mental game, visualizing a flawless performance, no fatigue, channeling Rocky Balboa and all that stuff.

This morning I decided against my final "tune-up" workout (just a short warm up with a couple of short sprints on both the bike and the run) because my Achilles felt tight when I woke up and I have injury paranoia right now. Sigh. Now I'm thinking I may do it after work but I'm a little worried that'll be too close to the race - any of you experienced folks care to chime in? To Tune Up or Not to Tune Up, that is the question. Whether tis nobler to suffer the ups and downs of a twenty minute workout or to take arms against impending injury and, by resting, end them. Sorry, my theatre is showing.

I was supposed to go see Princess sing the National Anthem (along with her choir) at the baseball game tonight, but Tri-Hubby wants to stay and watch a couple of innings and that'll put us home at nine or later and I gotta pack my bag and get my nutrition together and clean my bike and I think I would just be a bundle of nerves and completely spoil the fun so . . . I'm not going. Selfish? Yes. Avoidable? No. Meanwhile, I'm sitting here at work trying to stay positive, focused and pumped. Easier said than done.

Props out to Jane, who's got her first Oly this weekend too - we're gonna rock it, chicka. You know it, I know it and the Blogosphere knows it. And to Tryan, who'll be there tomorrow - Dude you are going to kick some major ass out there! See you at the post-race Chevy's pig out! And to everyone racing this weekend - work it and have a blast out there, everybody, let's try not to forget that this is supposed to be fun! Let's get this party started!

I also want to thank all of you - for reading, for commenting and for all the support you've given me during this thing. I've said it before and I'll say it again - you folks have kept me going, kept me accountable and kept me sane. I'm overwhelmed by the blessing of your friendship. So, thanks!

See you on the flip side!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Taper Pyschosis (TMI, Profanity Warning!!!)

Anyone else feel like a complete psycho during this taper thing?

This has been me the last 48 hours or so:

Oh man, I feel great. I'm one badass MF. Oh yeah, I will kick some major ass come Saturday. Watch. Out.

5 min. later
Holy, Shit! What was I thinking? I must have been on crack when I registered for this race. I'm such a loser. Why didn't I get on the bike more?

5 min. later.

Oooo. Tri Hubby. Hubba Hubba. Wink, wink. He is lookin' good.

30 min. later

Oh man, I really like this taper thing. I have sooo much energy!! Yep. Feelin' good, baby.

10 min. later

Who do I have to kill to get a bagel around here? I think I could eat my arm.

5 min. later.

I'm fat. I'm freakin' huge. I bet I won't even be able to get into my tri shorts. Damnit why did I have to eat a half a dozen bagels? Somebody shoot me, please!

5 min. later

I am going to shoot somebody. I need to run. I need to bike. If I have to sit here for one more minute, I swear to God my head is going to explode!!!!! I will physically maul the next person that rings that phone. So. Help. Me. God.

5 min. later

I need a nap. Maybe I could just crawl under my desk. ZZzzzzz.

5 min. later

Oh man, I feel great. I'm one badass MF. Oh yeah, I will kick some major ass come Saturday. Watch. Out.

And it goes on. Anyone else feel like this? Anyone? Anyone? Hello? Shit.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Feel the Burn

Sometimes taper sucks, at least in my limited experience. Sometimes your legs feel heavy, even achey from those miles of intense training piled on in the last weeks of peak. You want to eat everything and snap at everyone who looks at you sideways. The tiniest things set you off like a stick of dynamite.

But sometimes, sometimes taper rocks. When you hop on the trainer for a quick set of intervals, revving that engine until it wants to explode then head out for a mile or so to let those legs run - and you feel the power, in your legs, your lungs, your mind - you feel like an animal that's been let out of its cage. Or like one of those toy cars you had as a kid - the kind that, when you pushed it backwards over and over on the linoleum, you would wind it and it made that tiny revving sound until you finally set it down and it took off like it was shot out of a cannon, ramming its tiny hood into the kitchen wall. That little car was meant to go fast - and so were you.

That's when taper rocks. This morning, taper rocked. This morning, I feel ready.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Leetle Change of Plans

I'm in the final countdown until my A Race - The Lake St. Louis Long Course (Oly distance) and starting to feel that antsy, anxious, "Oh My God, I Wish I'd Trained More", pre-race buzz. To try to keep it all in perspective, I've spent some time focusing on life "After The Race". It helps me to remember that there will be other mountains to climb and other races to run (or swim bike run).

One of my major Post-Race goals is to run a marathon. The original plan was to do the Space Coast Marathon in Cocoa Village, FL the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, due to financial and time constraints, that is out. However, we've got a fab Plan B. Memphis Marathon and Half Marathon, Dec. 1. We've got our hotel reservations and our training plans. We are psyched. Notice I say we. I'm running the full and Hubby is running the half. In fact, I'm think I'm going to have to start referring to Hubby as Tri-Hubby. He went swimming without me again this morning, is still riding the Blue Hornet to work and - are you ready for this, ladies and gentleman - we just bought him a Trek Alpha SLR 1200 Aero.

Yep. Its a tri bike. Am I a lucky girl, or what? One of the things I fell in love with about Tri-Hubby was his willingness (eagerness even) to try new things, to consider ideas and adventures he'd never considered before. Given the fact that I'm always finding some new rabbit to chase, this is a quality I admire and am incredibly grateful for. I'm looking forward to whatever new adventures await us on our Tri-Journey. Before you know it, we'll have Princess and Boy Genius training with us too!

Meanwhile, LSL looms on the near horizon. And I'm a little askeert. Maybe a lot askeert. I set this goal months ago - because I didn't like hearing people call the Sprint Triathlon, my original goal for this season, a "mini-tri". The sprint didn't seem like a tall enough mountain to climb - and I wanted to climb a mountain. While the Oly is hardly "long distance" compared to what many of you do, for me its certainly sizeable. I'm looking at 3+ hours of racing. And I'm pretty sure I can do it - but I'm not totally sure. I guess that's what makes it my mountain. I know it will also make the finish line, should I be fortunate enough to cross it, that much sweeter. So, I'm breathing deep, I'm trying to trust the training I've put in and I'm letting taper do its thing. Oh. And I'm eating carbs. A lot of carbs. Hopefully, my uniform will still fit.

Finally, I want to give a shout out to those who competed at IM Louisville yesterday, especially my teammates Brad Baum, Kevin Jokish,and Curtis Brooks and my friend Sally, who blazed a sub 12 hour finish! I admire each and every person who toed the line - however the race went for you, you are my heroes!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Things That Make You Go: Hmmmm. . . .

Something very interesting has been happening in the Phoenix household. Something very interesting indeed.

Now, Hubby has always been a runner - a faster runner than me (like that's hard). But he's been doing . . . other things lately.

It started with the occasional bike ride with me. First on Red Molly, then on our newest acquisition, The Blue Hornet, an old Schwinn World road bike we got for $25.00 from a team mate. The Hornet is faster than Molly but still no match for Pyro. Its time to get him a quicker set of wheels. Wish I could afford the Zipp variety - course then I'd be chasin' him down hollerin' "Hey, Wait Up!!"

He ran a couple of road races with me. Then, he came to Master's Swimming with me a couple of times.

But, this week. This week he's riding his bike to and from work. And he got up this morning to go swim - by himself. It was my "sleep in day" (woke up at the languid hour of 6:30 a.m.) and I'm swimming tonight in the final Creve Coeur Open Water Swim of the season. He got up and swam 1500. By. Himself.


So, at the risk of discouraging him by noticing what he's up to, I'm outing him. Hey there, Mr. Triathlete In Training Guy! You know, there's a sprint in October at the Rec Plex. S'posed to be a good one. Race ya.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Finally A Plan Comes Together

I would like to start this post with two of my favorite letters. P. And. R. Baby.

Saturday I ran another 10k, you know, to see what the old girl had in her and, though I didn't place (to my knowledge - they only gave out medals to the top four men and women and the top finishers in each age group), I beat my previous 10k time by almost two minutes: 54:55, avg pace 8:50/mile. Right. On.

Now the original plan for Saturday was to pre-register for the race, get out there as soon as the sun was up and hammer out a 25 mile bike before the race - you know, the perfect race-pace brick. However, I didn't get my entry off in time so pre-registering was out. Plan B was to get out there at the crack of dawn and hammer out an hour as hard as I could go - and hopefully get in close to 20 miles. Also didn't happen. Hubby came along and raced the 5k (He also PRd - GO HUBBY! I theorize that he was in the top three in his age group but, unless they post the results as they promised, we won't know) and came along on the bike. Alas, his bike is just not as fast as Pyro and, though he told me I should leave him behind, I just couldn't. I mean, a guy gets up at 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday to ride with you and then run a road race - you don't just leave him in your dust. The up side was that we found a really beautiful road to ride - it was flat and smooth and skirted the edge of the bluff for the entire way (though, I noticed on the way back that the speed limit was 55 - there wasn't a lot of traffic but they were going pretty fast - not sure that's the best route for future trips). The down side was that we got in just under 12 miles in 50 min. Not exactly the hammer fest I'd planned - still, it was a ride and it was a nice warm up for my legs and, hey, I can't complain about a PR, now can I?

So, in the end, Saturday was all good. Which leads us to Sunday. The last couple of weeks, I've seemed to have a hard time executing my plans. Sometimes the weather gets in the way, once it was Pyro's gears going all wanky, sometimes I've just felt "off", other times its just been circumstances (see above). Life is like that, as I'm sure you all know. Still, its been frustrating to the point that I'd started to believe that planning was just futile and to really fear that I would not be adequately prepared for my A race in just under two weeks. Thankfully, yesterday put at least some of those feelings to rest.

Lake St. Louis schedules two practice swims on the two Sundays preceding the race. Being new to open water, there is no way I was going to miss out on that opportunity. Yesterday's plan was to get in the water at 7:00, the earliest possible start time, knock out the 1500 then do the bike course twice. That's fifty miles - longer than I've ever ridden before (40 was my previous record). Maybe too big a jump, but I wanted to have the confidence that I could more than handle this course and I knew that riding it twice in a row would give that to me.

As soon as I arrived, I met one of my blog-land buddies - Tryan. He doesn't have a blog (yet) but he's posted comments here and there and we've shot some emails back and forth. How cool to be looking around at all these people, feeling like a totally clueless newb, absolutely out of place, and finding a friend. Thanks, Tryan! We chatted a bit then headed for the water.

Someone had stolen the first buoy during the night so they sent a kayaker to the far shore where the buoy was supposed to be. He looked so small in the distance. I took a deep breath (or 50) and reminded myself that I'd swam further than this course out at Creve Coeur, it was just compacted into laps so you couldn't see how far you'd actually gone. Tryan just jumped in and started - he's much braver and faster than I! After standing in the water (which was perfect, by the way - I felt sorry for those who thought they needed wetsuits, they missed out) and gathering my courage for a bit, I started out. I had decided that I was just going to cruise the course, just get a feel and see how long my "cruise speed" would take me, then make a decision about what my race pace should be. Based on Creve Coeur times, I figured it would take between 40 and 45 minutes. So I cruised to kayak, then buoy after buoy until, before I knew it, I was heading for shore. I went off course a bit in the last stretch when I misunderstood what a fireman on the course told us about which buoy to aim for (its really hard to hear with a swim cap on). I ended up somewhere between 50 and 100 meters off and a kayaker was kind enough to point out the two buoys we were supposed to swim between. But, it was cool. I never felt tired and rarely felt anything close to fear, so that was all good. And my time: 37:40! Sahweet! I have to give props to the Lake St. Louis Fire Department and the volunteers out there on kayaks - those folks were everywhere! I got out of the water feeling great and ready to tackle the bike. I saw Tryan again in the parking lot, he was heading out for the course and invited me to ride with him but I wanted to get my packet at City Hall (which was along the course) and then ride out from there so we parted ways until I saw him at City Hall after my first loop. He did the whole course, including the run, in around 2:30! For a practice! Dang, he is going to kick some butt in the race.

About half way through my first loop, I just knew I couldn't make a second. I had come down what seemed to be the biggest hill of the course and I knew I was going to have to go back up it. And my legs felt like toast. So, I started the second half of the first loop fully intending to call it quits after one. Then, I got to the "monster hill". There was a chick in front of me who was obviously more skilled on the bike than I - she was in aero almost constantly while I didn't get down even once - we both started the hill together and I groaned "here we go" to which she grunted her reply. Then. I passed her. Like she was tied to a frickin post (thanks 21st Century Mom, for that expression). That's when I knew that I would do the whole fifty. The whole hilly, painful fifty. And I did. The second loop was much harder than the first, but I did it. All told, the ride took 3:25. Not horrible for the amount of hills and the fact that, while I pushed it at times, I wasn't "racing" the course. Finally, a plan comes together.