Thursday, July 31, 2008

All Sorts of Angst

Such is my life: I’m sitting at a booth in an exhibits hall in the basement of a hotel. I seem to have “misplaced” my work-issued Sprint broadband card that grants me access to my beloved Internet anywhere, anytime, and while I’m so desperate I’d gladly hand over my credit card for a few precious minutes of wireless, alas, this hotel has none.

Of course, if I had access to the Internet, I would probably be reading your blog, rather than writing a post for my own. So, you win. Or maybe you lose. Depends on your perspective.

I know I’ve been a bad blogger the last few days. But wait! I have excuses! Here’s the rundown:

MM and I spent the weekend in Ohio to attend and subsequently celebrate my mom’s wedding. Old people love is beautiful. Also in attendance were my sister and her infamous boyfriend Lars (Just as a side note, for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Lars, he is very into physics, and he has a “theory,” and it involves something about psychics and when he attempts to explain it to me, I walk away… so I really can’t tell you much about it. Anyway, I think MM has a bit of a man-crush on Lars. MM found an old physics textbook in my mom’s basement and started reading it! Oh because… you know… he doesn’t have enough reading material with the whole graduate school thing. This of course could also relate to my theory, which is that MM secretly desires to be a super genius, and is still a wee bit peeved that he wasn’t a child prodigy of some sort. I think its better this way, but that’s another story. I probably shouldn’t write this stuff on the Internet.) All hearsay people. And speculation. Loads of speculation.

In addition, my mom’s husband’s daughter and her husband and their dog came, as well as my grandma. It was a good crowd -- just the family, a quick ceremony, and then the fun began! First, we had lunch at the Italian restaurant where my mom and new husband had their first date, and we spent the rest of the day at their lake house, hanging out on the pontoon boat, sitting in the grass, grilling out, and jumping on the neighbor’s trampoline, which was the cause of much soreness the following day. It felt like vacation. Good times.

But what I’m really trying to say is that July, despite the fun, has been a crazy month -- first Anaheim, then Danskin in Wisconsin, and finally our trip to Ohio. When we touched down in Chicago late Sunday night, I was all set to refocus my time and energy on marathon training.

Oh right. I have to run a marathon.

I got to tell ya’ll, I am not feeling the marathon training this year. I’m hoping it’s just a slump, and I’ll rebound, but I think a big part of it is that Meg isn’t running with me, and everyone else I know seems to be injured. It’s not so much that I worry about actually running the race by myself; I just don’t want to stand there, at the start line, for 45 minutes freaking out all by my lonesome. What about MM you ask? Oh right. He’ll likely be in a corralled start. Because he’s fast like that.

Anyway, this week I’m trying to get back on track with the training. Let me tell you my ideal workout schedule and then you can tell me I’m nuts. It will be fun. Watch:

Monday: strength training; bike to/from work.

Tuesday: Run 3 miles; Bike to/from work; strength training

Wednesday: Run 5 miles; Bike to/from work

Thursday: Run 3 miles, 90 minutes yoga; Bike to/from work

Friday: easy swim workout; strength training; Bike to/from work

Saturday: Run 13 miles

Sunday: Rest

Actually that looks far less nutty written out than I expected.

So far the strength training has eluded me. Monday was a wash because I needed to clean and cook and get myself in some sort of order for the remainder of the week. Tuesday, I managed to get my run in. Today, I ran 5 miles, but showed up about 45 minutes late to work because of it. It’s actually the first time I’ve done my mid-week, middle distance run. The last several weeks I’ve just skipped it.

I’m feeling overwhelmed quite honestly. Being able to devote the amount of time I want/need to devote to training takes a fair amount of planning and organization. And frankly, I have not have time to plan and organize the rest of my life effectively enough to get up and out of the house and to the gym on time. It’s frustrating. Moreover, every time I think I’ll have a day, an afternoon, a few hours, a minute and a half to just chillax and/or pay some bills or whatever, it gets filled up with things like work and random trips to the suburbs and leasing an apartment and trying to figure out when in the hell we’re going to move. Despite suspicions that I am nonstop kinda gal, I need a lot of couch time. A lot. Of couch time. I get cranky without it. And right now… I’m cranky.

Anywho…

Did I mention MM and I found and signed the lease on a two-bedroom apartment? It has a dishwasher. Dreams can come true. Especially if you don’t shoot to high. That stuff about “the moon” and “the stars.” Bullshit. It’s all about expectations.

Manage them. You know what I’m saying…

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Second That Emotion

I’m on fire today. Here’s a big WTF for your Wednesday...

I just read Lindy’s post about the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon changing the race course, and I agree. One hundred and fifty percent (I had to write that out so you hear it in your head correctly).

I mean seriously JB, WTF?

It made me feel better to read Lindy’s post because as I studied the new course this morning and became slightly enraged (ok… just a tad bit of hyperbole), I figured I was probably the only person who would become upset over something like a race course. I mean, maybe people wanted a new course! I don't know. I can't read minds.

Here's the thing...

The CDC holds a special place in my heart as it was my inaugural distance race in 2006. I love that it partially follows the marathon course and winds through downtown Chicago. This new course heads due south and, frankly, I don’t get my thrills by running on LSD separated from cars clipping along at 40mph by a few measly pylons. No. Thank. You. Very. Much.

Furthermore, part of the fun of running the big races is to get out there on the road. I can run on the damn lakefront path any day of the week. For a 5k, fine. But this is a half marathon, and there's 12,000 of us. And, as Lindy points out, this new course pretty much gives us absolutely no shade from the August sun. We live in Chicago people! It’s 90 degrees and humid here until October.

Sometimes.

In other words, WTF?

A Mind Far Away

Once upon a time, it was summer in Chicago, and I was 25 going on 26. I had graduated with my master’s degree about six months earlier, and moved to the big city to begin a life as a minion in a PR agency and not much else. Sounds fantastic, right?

If we’re going to be completely honest with one another, you should know this: graduate school was not the most super fabulous, awesome-est time in my life. It was a huge adjustment for me, possibly due to leaving my home state for the first time and moving 500 miles away to the suburbs of Chicago where I knew all of nobody and/or choosing a program that ended up not being the right fit for me, curriculum-wise, professor-wise, people-wise, opportunity-wise, etc. Any way you slice it, graduate school did little else besides help me realize that marketing is not the be all end all of careers for me.

Needless to say, the first few months after graduate school living on my own in Chicago were also not the greatest. While I had a few friends from my program, it became clear that these people were in my life to help me make the transition and not the people who would end up part of the fabric of my little Chicago community.

That summer, one of the women I hung with back then ended up dating an Irish guy for about a minute that summer. He was an athlete. He was doing the Chicago Accenture Triathlon that summer. He was an ex-smoker. He was kind of hard to understand sometimes with that cute, but very heavy Irish accent.

One day, this woman, this dude, his friend, and I ended up sitting on the patio at a bar in Lincoln Park, drinking in the sun, and me, smoking cigarettes because… uh duh… you could still do that then and I was having a beverage, so... uh duh...

So this guy, with his Irish accent says to me (get the accent ready in your head…):

Irish guy: Why do you smoke?

Me: Um, whatever. Because what else am I going to do with my other hand while I’m drinking?

(OK. I don’t actually know what I said.)

Irish guy: I quit smoking.

Me: Oh yeah. Do you want a cookie?

(I didn’t say that.)

Irish guy: You should read, “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking.” That’s how I quit.

Me: Really? Huh… maybe I’ll check it out… when hell freezes over and pigs fly.”

(I didn’t say that either.)

I didn’t do it. Not then. But a few months later, long, long after his brief romantic encounter with my friend had ended, I remembered what he said, bought the book, and quit smoking.

It doesn’t seem a big thing, especially -- I imagine -- to you I've-never-had-a-cigarette-in-my-life types, or even those of you who at one time or another considered yourself “social smokers.” But, there must be people out there who understand that when you identify yourself as being a smoker for a decade (or more, maybe less), smoking becomes a part of your identity. It’s partially due to the fact that I, as a smoker, planned my days around smoking, but also because the thoughts and feelings that stemmed from smoking took up much of the space between my ears: wanting to quit (“in theory”), feeling guilty because I didn’t really want to quit, feeling accepted in certain social situations, but rejected in others, being stressed because I was harming my body and knew it… the list goes on…

Anyway, that guy... whose name I can't remember... I have never doubted that, in the briefest of moments, he said something that eventually lead to me being on a new path that’s changed not only the course of my life, but also the way I see myself and my future… without him there might have never been this blog, and if this blog didn’t exist, what would you be reading right now?

Think about it… Without being ridiculous and sarcastic, it's kind of profound when you realize that we can effect other people's lives in a conversation, a blog, a lifetime friendship, a moment in passing.

That’s only part of my story I suppose -- which I fully recognize isn’t nearly as inspiring as some of the stories from others who suffer from adult onset athleticism. I never hit a rock bottom. But lost is lost I suppose. I don’t want to diminish it. All I know is that after I met him, and heard his message, the dominoes started to fall. Life isn’t perfect -- not by a long shot, my people… but I learned that I have the potential to live a life that I am excited about and be a person who, I think, does some pretty awesome things, instead wishing for something else, like the big, important, well-paid marketing career, that would never fulfill me.

And FYI, this post was inspired by Heidi. A case in point that maybe we're all here to inspire each other. Just saying.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Things That Go Bump

Tonight, MM left our apartment (formerly “my” apartment) bound for the suburbs to spend the night at his mom’s house so he can take her to the hospital for a minor surgery at 4am. Despite the sad fact that I didn’t want him to go, I knew that bitching and moaning about this would be beyond immature and insensitive, and completely out of the question.

Instead, I seized the moment. In his absence, I watched Tivo-ed episodes of House Hunters International and brought my laptop to bed… two hours ago. After typing until well after 11pm, I turned out the light ready to fall asleep only to find that I was wide-awake, and – dare say it – a little jumpy. So jumpy, in fact, I got out of bed to check the locks on both the front door and the back door… twice.

MM and I have been living together for approximately one month. Sure, we were spending most nights of the week together for several months before that, but have I become so accustomed to having him here that I can barely survive one night alone in my own bed in the apartment I’ve rented for two years? I’ve spent more nights here by myself. Why can’t I reveal in peeing with the bathroom door open and sleeping spread eagle? When did I get scared?

I admit that I’m a person who wants to be together. If I’m going to be a part of a couple, I want to spend our downtime together. If I’m going to live with a significant other, I want home to be where we spend our evenings, having dinner, catching up on the day’s events, and, most importantly, sleeping next to each other. Call me dependant. Whatever. I’ve spent plenty of years on my own to know that I can survive – heck, I can thrive – being single. But, if I’m in a relationship, and I enjoy that person’s company (because, you know, sometimes you’re in a relationship with someone’s who’s company you don’t enjoy), I’d like him to be around. We don’t have to be all up in each other’s business constantly, but proximity is important to me.

MM’s job rarely functions like your normal 9-to-5… or 8-to-6 for that matter. He was lucky this year to be put on the day shift, which most closes mirrors my own schedule but forces him out of bed at 4:30am and often keeps him until well past my own quitting time. Normal business hours do not apply. Each year, his job requires him to bid for a shift, basically putting the three shifts in order of preference – days, afternoons, midnights – so that the next year’s schedule can be determined. He has warned me that because of his seniority (or lack there of), days may not be an option in 2009.

So what do you do? Go to afternoons, and see each other only briefly, when one person crawls into bed at 1am and the other gets up for work at 7am. Or, do you go for midnights, and see each other, but live with your internal clocks on completely opposite schedules.

MM warned me about the day shift not being available in an effort to prepare me because he knows I am vocal about wanting him to be home as much as possible. Afternoons would be the next obvious choise, because… ewwww… who wants midnights? Am I right?

So I thought about it and I realized that midnights would be better for our relationship. Though I’d be going to bed alone and waking up alone, we would be able to see each other before I left work in the morning and have our evenings together before he went to work at 10pm or so. It seems to be the most reasonable option should the day shift not work out.

That’s going to be a big adjustment for me if it happens. I’ll get used to it, but I never really thought – prior to dating MM – that I would be with someone who was on a vastly different work schedule than myself. I’m sure we will work it out, whatever happens, but in the meantime, I’m crossing my fingers that he remains on the day shift.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Under These Conditions

Here’s a riddle: If an employee comes into the office, but no one is around to see her working, does anything actually get done? It’s like that who tree/forest/noise dilemma.

Get it?

So, I’m not in write-a-coherent post mode, so I’m just going to bullet out a few things that are either coming up, or that I’m thinking about, or that I’ve just not mentioned with the recent goings on.
  • I’m going to a yoga for runners class. I’ve only been twice, but I am enjoying it much more than I thought I would. I’ve done yoga before, but am no where close to being one of those converted, yoga crazy people who thinks it’s the be all end all of Zen and exercise. In fact, I’ve often had issues getting headaches after yoga or being sore in unnatural ways (like neck pain, etc.). However, it’s become apparent to me that I lack strength and core training in my weekly routine. I figured that paying for this would be incentive to actually show up. It's offered by my beloved Chicago Endurance Sports, and the instructor is very supportive and starts each class by asking the group what pain they are experiencing. Then she gives us specific stretches and exercises we can do to help alleviate that pain. And I've had no headaches or weird, shit-that’s-not-the-way-my-body-is-supposed-bend soreness!
  • Speaking of strength training, I have been bound and determined to include weight lifting in my routine for a month now, but to no avail. Granted, my workouts have started to include two-a-days, running in the morning and dedicating the evenings to something else, like an hour and a half of yoga or an hour in the pool. That’s in addition to biking to and from work (12 miles total) nearly every day. Sometimes it feels like I can only do so much and -- especially this week -- I have been exhausted. But, this is the life. I cannot stress to you how many times the importance of cross training has been stressed to me. Triathlons force you to cross train to a degree, which helps to circumvent the overuse injuries that come from hard-on-the-joints distance running, but swimming and biking are still cardio, and to build strength, you need to strength train. The hardest thing for endurance athletes is that, well, if you’re bold enough to call yourself as an endurance athlete (I am at this point… I wonder when that happened?), you’re already dedicating hours upon hours a week to your sport. It’s difficult to find the time. But it is imperative that we do! So, I’m going to challenge myself to make strength training a priority moving forward. And, after searching for a good weight routine, I believe I have finally found one, and I plan to add three days of lifting into my schedule starting Monday.
  • And oh, big dreams... Lindy, Meg, and I have already pinpointed a half marathon for next spring, which mankes me super excited! Yes... it’s a bitch and a half to train through the winter in Chicago. But, a half marathon is a very reasonable distance, which comes with reasonable amounts of training and whatnot. And, this is probably way, way too early to even decide to think about this, but I’ve pretty much decided that I will train for a Half Ironman next summer possibly en lieu of a fall marathon. We will see. But, I already have my training program and my race (I would consider the Spirit of Racine as well ) picked out. Yes. It’s probably not the greatest of ideas to decide this based on one awesome sprint triathlon. But, here are the facts: I do not have time to train for an Olympic distance triathlon this season. If another triathlon happens, it will be a sprint. But, there is a good chance I will not do another one this season, though MM got excited about us both participating in the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon, but it’s likely that scheduling will prevent us from doing so. This thing is, I’ll get a chance to do at least a few sprints and maybe an Olympic next summer before a Half Ironman, but I believe that with the right training I will be able to do the distance. People go from couch to marathon all the time. Yes, I think those people are batshit nuts, but that’s not the point. Like I said, it’s probably way too early to think about this, much less announce it to the world (my world = my readers, which by the way, nine people now subscribe to this feed on Google Reader, it used to only be seven, welcome my new friends!!!), but what else is a blog for? I hold myself to nothing. Except a Half Ironman.
  • On a personal note, my mom is getting married next weekend, and MM and I will be traveling to Ohio for festivities. We’re currently trying to figure out where and when to fit in our training run. We are, it appears, mid-summer (holy crap!) and the mileage is ramping up. We have a 12 mile run scheduled, but there is a half marathon on Saturday in C-bus that we could participate in, but with one car for five people (my sister and the ever-popular Lars will be in town as well), and a 7am start time, it’s possibly arguable that we would be cutting it a little close for my mom’s comfort. But we still have to do 12 miles, and a 13.1 mile race would be supported with aid stations. And MM could sprint his little heart out, and I’d be OK running alone. I’m less OK being alone on a random course in an area I do not regularly run. So that’s my dilemma. I’m going to get back to my regularly scheduled office vacation now.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Great Equalizers

After weeks and weeks of putting “things” off, I’ve made appointments (dentist and hair), sent emails (both work and personal), and actually settled into the normalcy of summer marathon training rather than summer marathon and triathlon training. Granted, much of my schedule craziness was due to the excessive amount of time I spent out of town between late May and early July. But, I digress.

I have -- obviously -- continued to reflect on my experience and revel in the glory (perceived glory of course) of my triathlon. As with any endurance sporting event, there’s the potential to learn a lot about yourself if you’re open to that sort of self discovery. And I may one day share these lessons with you if I can stop patting myself on the back long enough to think about what I learned.

But first a story… a story about awesomeness.

My friends, though faster than before, I am still a slow runner. Sometimes I am super Zen about this, and other times it annoys the crap out of me. While I would love to fully embrace my penguin tendencies there is a part of me that really, really wants to get better. And in the world of running, better = faster.

A few months ago, you may remember, I began taking a beginner swim technique class. I was friendly with a few of the women in my class, we chatted before and after, we exchanged a few emails. All very innocent. Now, one of these women was -- like me -- training for her first triathlon, the Danskin Sprint. She’s kind of a badass. A veteran marathoner and an eight minute miler, she bikes to work… from the suburbs, about 25 miles, one way. She’s in a league that I can only dream about being in… running-wise, that is. And frankly, she’s had a lot more time in the saddle than I have had (do you like my fancy cycling lingo?).

At Danskin though, I came in ahead of her, beating her time by one second. I’m totally serious. One little, itty, bitty second. In a road race, I would have been an hour behind her, but because triathlons combine events, rarely is one person stellar at all three (among us mere mortals anyway). My strength, as I suspected, is the swim, which I almost made myself believe didn’t matter at all. The bike makes or breaks you, right? And after that, the run. The swim is so short it barely counts. Turns out, it all counts.

Now, for the sake not revealing to my people the super crazy competitive nightmare that I am in my own head, I’ll say only this: our transition times were almost identical, and my bike was only three minutes slower. She kicked ass in the run. I kicked ass in the swim.

We all have our strengths. And this is reason #1 on a list I am currently compiling called, "What is Totes Awesome about Triathlons." I'm compiling it in my head, so don't get too excited about me posting a list. I'll probably forget I wrote that in five minutes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Final Notes

So today I competed in my first triathlon, the Danskin Sprint in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. With the exception of the wind gusts between 25-30mph, it was an incredibly beautiful day for a race. Clear skies. Not too hot. No humidity. Beautiful.

With the help of two Melatonin, I conked out at 10:30pm and had a fairly restful night’s sleep the night before the race. I woke up with MM around 4:45am, and attempted to quickly get my shit together, despite the fact I was moving slowly most likely due to the Melatonin. I dressed, ate breakfast, and freaked out, but managed walked out the door forgetting only my cell phone.

At about 5:45am, I left MM and boarded a bus to the race site. Danskin is so big they bus all the spectators and athletes in from a location about four miles away. It was strange, getting on a school bus with a large duffel bag, like I was headed off to camp or a high school sporting event. But, in part, I think some of us do these things to create or recapture some kind of glory, and maybe the school bus was appropriate. I dunno. I guess it’s not necessary for me to find meaning in a school bus.

Once at the race site, I headed into the transition area, where I set out my gear near my bike, and chatted with a woman who immediately asked, “Is this your first?” which I learned is the favorite question of the event. The veterans love a newbie. They get excited for you. You’re a virgin. It’s cute for them, ya know?

The transition area closed around 6:30am, and about 20 minutes after that I finally wandered out of the area to watch the elite athlete's swim wave start. I stuck around to watch the next seven waves. I was in wave 22, and had a swim start time of 8:20. At about 7:40, I decided to stand in line for the bathroom thinking I had oodles of time to potty. I was wrong. At 8:05 when I realized that wave 19 was “on deck,” I finally asked the people in front of me if I could go ahead of them. Because Danskin is women only and has an overall attitude of “we help each other out,” they quickly were all, "You go [to the bathroom] girl!"

With my business taken care of, I ran to the swim start where I finally found MM who started snapping photos of me in my awesome green swim cap. He would spend the rest of the morning running after me with the camera.

I kissed him good-bye, and lined up dead center in my wave. After four or so minutes of being pumped up by Sally Edwards, Danskin spokeswoman and 16 time Ironman finisher – high fives and “you go girl’s” included -- I was standing in the water, thigh deep, counting down 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

Apparently, I was posing for MM in at the start of the swim.

So let’s get serious.

Let’s talk about the numbers.

If I was to be totally objective about my performance today, I would have to say that I fucking ROCKED this triathlon.

Rocked it.

For serious.

Swim: 15:52, rank 760/3650, 1:59/100 meters
I was just shy of the top 20 percent, which is kind of awesome. But, honestly, I expected to do better. I told everyone that I would probably be out of the water in 20 minutes, maybe a little less. In reality, I had my heart set on a swim time around 14 minutes. And, I think I could have done it, had I not swam off course... twice. TWICE! My biggest problems at this point are that I haven’t put in enough time in open water, and I was wearing clear pool goggles, when tinted open water goggles would have served me much better. With the bright sun beaming off of the water, I could barely see because of the glare. I had a bitch of a time spotting, and though I know I need more practice, if I could have seen more than 10 feet in front of me, I probably wouldn’t have swam off course – at least I wouldn’t have done it twice. I relied on spotting the heads in front of me, which led me astray at times. Midway through the course, I came up with the brilliant plan to I switch to the breast stroke every few minutes so I could keep my head above water and get my bearings. It worked, but I can do better than this. Other than that, I felt my freestyle was sloppier than usual, but I suppose when you toss a newbie in open water that’s bound to happen. Oh, and the water was warm. Warmer than some of the pools I get in.

T1: 3:23
I got lost on the way to my bike, which is what “they” – the triathlon people – tell you will probably happen when you start out. MM was close enough to yell, “Lou! You’re a row OVER!” Oh. OK. Thank god for MM. I’d probably still be there like, “But I swear my stuff was near the over-sized, inflatable bag of Sport Beans.” Again, I probably could do better than 3:23 if I knew where I was going, but this was decent for a first-timer.

Bike: 47:26, rank 1523/3650, average 15.6 mph
I’m sorry? What? 15mph?!?!? Nah uh. Seriously? Did I mention that my new bike is the best purchase I have EVER made? In reality, I had hoped to finish the bike in an hour or a little less, a time that required an average of 12mph. With the crazy wind, I am shocked that I was able to maintain a decent speed. Sure, it wasn’t the hilliest of courses, but for a new rider who wanted to give up a few weeks ago because of her heavy, old mountain bike, I am very proud of myself. I had a good, strong ride. And I didn’t want to cry once.

Here I come. Just like the freaking wind.

T2: 2:31
I attempted to run my bike into the transition area, but my legs were basically like, “Uh. Fuck no.” So, I had a little talk with myself that went something like, “Self, just calm down, walk back to your transition area, get yourself together, and run once your legs get used to being on the ground again.” So that’s what I did. And… well, read on…

Run: 32:04, 1523/3650, pace 10:20
After all that swimming, and transitioning, and biking, and transitioning, I ran a 32 minute 5k. This is actually one of my faster 5K times, which is amazing. I was hoping to be able to maintain a 12 minute mile. And, the best part is, I really didn’t feel like I was killing myself. I felt well paced, my legs felt fresh enough, and I wasn’t huffing and puffing like some of the other women who… ahem… passed me. That’s all right though. I really am amazed at how well I did after hauling ass on the bike. I think I’m one of those people who runs better if they are warmed up, and hell, I was nothing if not warm. I sprinted to the finish line, and barely heard my name being yelled by my cheering section, which consisted of MM, Meg, and @, as I “flew” by.

Final: 01:41:18, 1099/3650

Overall, I had nothing short of a great experience. The Danskin race is every bit as organized and supportive as it is trumpeted to be. I was so thankful that MM was there, running after me with the camera, and that @ and Meg made the drive up to Wisconsin to support me. It made me feel way better about being out there alone knowing that there were people in my life who understood how important today was to me to fight Chicago traffic just to cheer me on. I think they enjoyed themselves though… it sounds like @ pretty much led the crowd in imparting words of motivation to the women who were competing (“Empty the tank!” Classic @), and Meg said those sweet little words I’ve been longing to hear from her, “I could do that.” My diabolical plan is in motion…

Me and MM.

Me and the best cheering section ever, Meg and @.


I could not have expected to do much better than I did. Top 1/3 overall! I am never top 1/3 when I run! I'm not even top half. That is an awesome feeling. My fear is that I peaked in my first race, and I’ll never do better than I did today. Hopefully, that's not the case. I did also get a reality check about the amount of training I will need to do a race twice the distance… three times the distance… four times the distance. But, yeah. There's another triathlon in my future. You can count on that.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt a wave of emotion and had to work hard not to cry. I can’t even tell you why. I wasn’t sad; I think I just got super intense in my head toward the end of the run. I’m weirdly competitive despite the fact that I have no business thinking I can compete. Can’t help it. That’s probably part of the reason I do this. But shit. In my mind, I believe I rocked this race... because I totally did.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Wholly Batman Triathlon!

Due to a series of bad decisions no one could have possibly seen coming, I have in my possession one bag of laboriously decided upon, carefully sorted, and hand-picked Jelly Belly jelly beans. Read: fruity flavors only, no chocolate pudding, root beer, popcorn-flavored, caramel bullshit in my bag of beans.

Hello Lover.

Apparently, there is a Jelly Belly distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin… which MM and I stumbled upon when I asked him to drive the Danskin Triathlon's bike course… which we quickly found our way back to after lunch… which resulted in the 1.1 pound bag of Jelly Belly’s.

Oh hell no.

I have a bit of a… how do you say?problem when it comes to Jelly Belly’s. It’s the candy equivalent of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby. As in, if I happen to have Jelly Belly’s in my possession, they will not be in my possession for long. They will be in my stomach. In order to ensure that I did not make myself sick eating all one point one pounds of beans, MM gave me three small handfuls (which I have already eaten) and commandeered the rest.

And just for the record, I am notoriously (notorious only in my own head mind you) way too cool for the school when it comes to cheese ball tourist crap, but at MM’s request, I accompanied him on on the Jelly Belly distribution center tour, funny hat and all.

He wasn't very happy with me when I took this photo.
I'm guessing he is going to be less happy that I am posting it.

Don't you love it when I start out with a nonsensical tangent about jelly beans when the point of this post is to tell ya’ll that I’m in Wisconsin for the triathlon! Holy triathlon Batman! It’s tomorrow.

MM and I are staying at a Best Western, which has managed to impress me with it’s comfortable pillows, free hot breakfast, and hot tub. And, I stay in a lot of hotels. I mean it’s not super fantastic, but for a Best Western… let’s just put it this way… it is WAAAAAYYYYY better than the sketch pad of a Travelodge we stayed in during the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon. A little slice of Americana in Newport, Kentucky... but I digress. The only problem here in Wisconsin is that the maid service apparently does not make the bed for you, which is the only thing I wanted them to do and totally ridiculous. WTF?

Anyway...

This morning MM and I went to the race expo and packet pickup where I was marked up (which, let’s face it, kind of makes one feel like a bad ass just you know… because... well shit, you don't mess with a girl who has big numbers written on her arm in permanent sharpie; that's for serious).

All marked up and no place to go.

Also notable, MM not only wore his Chicago Accenture Triathlon shirt, but also his half-Ironman baseball hat. I believe he is experiencing some race envy. Despite the full on race garb, I was relieved to have MM with me, but I have to say, seeing all the women at packet pickup made me kind of sad that I don’t have a lady friend to race with. Come tomorrow morning around 5:30am, I’m going to be all by my lonesome, setting up my transition area, waiting for my wave to start at 8:20am.

But it will be OK if only because it has to.

Let's see... cute little green bag I'll never use again, water bottle, razor, swim cap, dry fit tank top (nice one too) , new race belt with pouch thingy, and new sunglasses... Check...

After I got all my freebies (including a sample of peanut butter – which I already ate... with my finger) and racked my bike, we got back in the car and drove the bike course. It’s not too bad. There are a few “hills,” but I’m sure people who live in places with mountains would laugh at me for daring to label these slight inclines as hills. I am excited to see how I do on the new bike. I didn’t have time to blog during the week much, but I did decide after commuting to work a couple of times, that the new bike is the smartest $800 purchase I have ever made… ever. It is heavenly. Divine, if you will.

Other than that, I’m just eating, sleeping, chatting on the G-mail, sitting in the hot tub, trying not to bug MM while he writes papers and shit, and touring Jelly Belly distribution centers, you know… the usual.

And trying not to crap myself.

Nothing but class on Lou's blog.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

And We're Back

Alright. Where to begin?

Geez. It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks. As soon as I returned from California, I did a stint at the Taste of Chicago, working at a booth for my sister. Then, mom and Sarah, as well as Sarah’s boyfriend -- the ever-entertaining Lars -- flew into Chicago for the holiday weekend, which was fun, but long and tiring. No offense family.

I’ve been so busy I almost forgot that I’m doing a triathlon in – holy hell – five days.

But first thing first. In the midst of business travel and airports and eating, I managed to find the time to buy a new bike. That’s right… a brand spanking new Trek 7.5 FX hybrid (fitness hybrid versus urban hybrid) to the tune of $800.

Hello Lover.

So, no. It’s not a road bike. MM talked me into getting a hybrid with a solid argument that went something like, “Blah, blah, blah… transition… blah, blah, blah multi-purpose.” I’m just kidding. He had valid points. The truth is, I’m not totally comfortable on road bikes. This bike is significantly lighter than the bike I was riding, and that was the main problem. I already feel 110 times better about riding. I am loving my new bike. And, someday… in a year or two, when I decide to do something BIG, I’ll pony up a grand or two for a road bike.

Other than that, I’m working on getting back on track after two weeks of crazy ass eating (ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner anyone?) and serious training slacking. I do need to give myself some credit. I managed to get in my long run despite my family being present and accounted for, but I’ve gotten to a weird place where a 9 mile run just doesn’t seem like a workout. I know, it’s insanity. I think it’s less that and more just a reaction to the lack of cross training I have done in the last two weeks after a few months of running, biking, and swimming.

In addition to running three miles and some change this morning, I rode the new bike to the gym where I swam 800 meters with only one break. Then, I came home and made dinner. I picked a few recipes from allrecipes.com and actually tried one tonight. It was super easy and pretty tasty.

Spinach Chickpea Curry

I stuck to the recipe with the exception of cutting the amount of oil used in half. I’ve been on a pretty intense rice kick as of late, so I served it over white rice. I was very pleased with the results, but may actually use more curry paste next time. Yum!

OK. That’s what I got for now.