Thursday, November 25, 2010


No words can really describe how I feel this Thanksgiving. But a picture certainly can...
I am SO THANKFUL for Nathaniel's safe return last Sunday, after a 7-month deployment to Afghanistan. A lot of stuff happened during this deployment - on both ends. We've both lived a lot of life and our perspective and views of the world have definitely changed.

We are so grateful for the time we have together, our family and friends (and my doctors), and the opportunity to enjoy the life we live.

Welcome home Sweetheart - I am so thankful for you!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Happy Event

In spite of feeling like my legs had NO response when it was time to go fast in the pool, burying my head in the jar of peanut butter, and encountering the same difficult passage over and over (and over!) again in Mahler, there were some pretty beautiful moments during my day...

The most wonderful of them all, though?

Watching my friends reunite with their spouses after a 7-month deployment. Words seem so inadequate at a time like I won't even try. But seeing this, makes me grateful for Nathaniel, our military service members, and all the special people in my life.

Welcome Home ADVON! makes me want to go hug Nathaniel- More importantly....this picture makes me smile, makes me feel happy, and reaffirms my faith in Happily Ever After.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Training Mojo

It's been an interesting, good, fun week, training-wise. And for the life of me, I can't remember the last time I said that. I'm finding that my body can pretty much handle 10-12 hours of training without getting sick (KNOCK ON WOOD), and in all honesty - I'm really really really enjoying myself.

Repeat: I'm really really really enjoying myself!

I'm still wrapping my head around the recent health "adventures" (is that the right word?).... heath "escapades"....healthcapades?

No - that sounds too much like "icecapades" for my liking.

I'm still trying to come to terms with everything that has happened this year. And while I've accepted the fact that setting a new half marathon PR is not realistic for my November 14th race, at the end of the day - I love the structure of workouts, of running, and beginning to feel bits of Healthy/Happy/Athletic Marit resurfacing. But most of all (and the most important) I'm having fun.

I've always loved running, loved working hard and putting myself out there - feeling the tremendous satisfaction of pushing beyond what I thought was possible, one sweaty, caboose-like breath at a time.

And no, I'm not (nearly) as fast as I used to be. But you know what? Right now... after everything that has happened.... I don't give two shits about my time or pace. At this point, victory is lining up ON the starting line, as happy and healthy as I can be.

Okay... that's a slight fudge. But very slight.

I AM doing tempo work, have some fast stuff on the schedule.... and that work is keeping me honest. Trust me - running 5 or 6 miles at "goal race pace" will do just that. Keep you honest.

At the end of the day, I just want to have the best race that I can possibly have - everything else is (as I so frequently say) icing on the proverbial sheet cake.

And on a completely different note.... I don't think Joel McHale from "The Soup" (Nathaniel's favorite show...) thinks very highly of the "Real Hosewives of Beverly Hills." Just a hunch. But you be the judge -
Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Weekend recap & BOUS pictures!

What a weekend, eh? LOTS of racing, lots of cheering, and HOLY COW!! Just a lot of people toeing the line, putting themselves out there, taking risks, and living the dream. Totally. Awesome.

Saturday was bittersweet for me; in the Kona lead-up, I wasn't sure how I would feel on the actual day of the race. Race week, I was grateful to not experience the pre-race nausea-inducing stress. Last year, I distinctly remember telling Nathaniel that, "If I can get through Kona, ANY future race will seem easy by comparison."

How true - but how sad at the same time. If only I knew then what I know now. But that's the case for so many of us, and I know that with whatever I'm going through - 1) I'm not the only one and 2) I'm not alone. I take great solace in those facts.

Saturday morning was hard, and watching the race start on Ironman Live was bittersweet: I was ecstatic for my friends....but I cried at the same time. I don't miss Ironman training, per se. But I miss the sport.... I miss biking outside and the training associated with it. I would do just about anything to time trial down a long stretch of road, feeling my legs powering through the sting of working HARD.

And part of me misses the life I once had; learning to live with lupus, my auto-immune disorder, and the complications that I have as a result, is challenging. I have great days, true. But there are other days where, for lack of a better word, I feel like I'm training for Ironman (but without the benefit of actually training). I'm only going to say this once - because I know that so many people have it a lot worse than me, and it the end I'm grateful for all the things that I DO have... but it just seems so unfair. And sometimes I'm just really sad.

So Saturday....I let myself be sad and I watched IM live. Drinking an entire bottle of wine and getting completely drunk off my ass WOULD have been appropriate, save for the fact that I'm on blood thinners and am therefore limited to 2 X 4 oz servings (of wine).

Bloody fantastic.

There's not really much else I can say about that. Oh well. Bah fucking humbug.

But I was cheered and buoyed by the fact that Sunday morning, I would be cheering Julia (Team Minnesota!!) and Seeley (Team Florida!!) at the Best of the US National Championships, about an hour north of me, in Mission Viejo, CA.

I wasn't sure how I would feel about race spectating. I did a lot of that after breaking my back, and it was difficult - I wanted to much to be out there, competing, participating, racing. But the 2010 lupus/DVT/PE versus 2008 broken back is VERY different, as is my mentality from one situation to the other. I feel like such a different person now, from who I was back in 2008; and the life-lessons I learned then, are (without a doubt) helping me now. If it's possible to age 50+ years in a relatively short time frame, I think I would fit the bill.

4:20 am Sunday rolled around, and after minor cursing at my alarm and plenty of coffee consumption, I was headed north on the 5 by 5:15. The benefit of an early-wake-up call? VERY light traffic into Orange County. I only got lost once and before too long was walking the half-mile stretch from where I parked the car to the race site. I may have stopped to pee in the bushes once along the way, but I can neither confirm nor deny such actions.

It was GREAT seeing Julia, and meeting Rich (her fantastic hubby) for a second time. My job, aside from cheering my lungs out and being the best race Sherpa I could possibly be, was to take fun pictures. Yes, I may have brought multiple cameras, but I've never gone to a race with the mindset of capturing images... It's always been about racing and cheering. Plus - as a former racer, I have the benefit of knowing all the cool pictures I would have LOVED to have seen while I was racing.

Plus, I really like the "Best of the US" triathlon series. Jerry and Trudy (race organizers) are icons in the sport and truly fantastic people. I wanted to give them both hugs (which I did!).

Julia was a stud - leading the chase pack out of the water, working hard on the bike, and bringing it home on the run. But I'll let her share that on her race report. It was also awesome to cheer on Seeley - and I was SUPER happy to see her running to a Top-5 finish.

I think what I noticed most about these athletes - these top triathletes from their respective states - was their drive and determination. No matter the circumstances or challenges - goggles getting kicked off, bike headset slipping, or hot temperatures on the run - they pushed through. They kept going, fighting to the very end. And the reason they were able to persevere through the ups and downs of racing? Because they practice... they train through those difficult moments.... and they are hungry for personal victory (whatever their definition of victory may be).

I think that's what I miss most about the sport - not so much crossing the finish line (although that's always an amazing feeling), but I've never felt so alive as I have in those times were I KNEW things were hard, where I wanted to slow down and stop...but I didn't! When my drive, determination, my mental focus as an athlete overrode any instinct to give in. The feeling of beating the odds, of breaking barriers, of raising one's performance to the next level is an incredible one.

I believe that I'll experience this in the future, one day - through running or swimming... I know that whenever I reach the top of a mountain peak, I feel that sense of elation, that feeling of being alive and persevering through. Quitting is always an option - but I didn't cave, didn't give up, didn't give in.

And who knows? Maybe I'll enter a triathlon at the last minute if I'm feeling okay.... Never say never. It's not just about being on blood thinners - because if it were just that, I think I would eventually be comfortable racing (indoor trainer workouts... closed race courses.... etc).

But the health complications of the lupus just downright suck. (Yes, I am very eloquent with my words, am I not?). I NEVER want to feel the way I felt going into Kona last year... and then again earlier this year, getting sick over and over and watching my dreams of racing with each subsequent illness, slip a little further away. How many times can one's heart break?

I never know how I'll feel each day when I wake up... some days are great, while others I feel like shit (from late August last year going into Kona and then the months after - every day I felt like shit... but I chalked it up to the training, to the race. At least now, I DO have regular days where I feel fine!). As for the good days vs shit days, I'm never sure if it's because I'm dealing with a flareup, or if I just woke up in the middle of the night and - um, for example - ate peanut butter by the spoonful. I guess my thought-process with this feels so undefined, because I'm still figuring things out for myself.

And I'm probably still in a bit of denial over everything. Yeah, that too. It's one thing to say it... it's an entirely different beast to feel it, deal with it, and accept it. It's a work-in-progress. That's all I can say.

Racing and training is supposed to be fun - and I need to be in the mentality (and understand) that 'Hey - I have this thing, this auto-immune disorder where my body just (for lack of a better word) doesn't "work normally". I look healthy... I act healthy... I eat a very healthy diet, exercise, do all the "right" things - but I just have this thing, and my body is different.' I'm still thinking this one through, still learning to deal with this aspect of life. Talking to Rich - a cancer survivor - was extremely helpful...picking his brain about these things while Julia raced, was a very good thing for me.

Back to racing....

It's wonderful to watch people do this - to make their dreams come true. I guess that's also why I love the sport....because anything is possible. Oh - and the people ROCK. (Oh - and if you ever see me at an event, PLEASE come say hi! Marta - it was SUPER to meet you!)

And finally... a few pictures from the race. CONGRATULATIONS to everyone who raced - good races, bad races, and everything in between. It is NOT easy putting yourself out there, facing the many challenges associated with competition. But you did it - congratulations to all.

Pre-race happy! Don't let the smile fool you - she's actually really fierce.

Lining up under the start banner.

Best of the US - Men's start!

Breaking the surface in those first few race moments...

Best of the US women running in the water.

Sunrise over the lake.

A lone swimmer rounds the final turn buoy, under the watchful eye of a lifeguard. And my favorite picture from the day.

Julia, leading the women's chase pack out of the water.

Getting ready to ride!

...which is exactly why Rich and I walked the 2 miles to T2, and then ran back to T1/Start/Finish to see the race end.

Men's leader into T2 - I think this is Bruce Genari, of Team Timex, but don't quote me on that. His dismount was a thing of beauty.

Look - I'm wearing pink socks! If I'm wearing compression hosen for medical purposes, does that take away the nerd factor, or increase it? At least my legs are almost the same size.

Julia, approaching T2. Yes, she had a dismount that even Jen Harrison would be proud of. Clearly, she's been practicing!

BOUS Men's champion from Alaska!

Seeley, focused to the end.

I recognize that flag! Yes... you can take the girl out of Minnesota, (but as I've said before) - you can't take the Minnesota out of the girl. It is and will forever be, home.

I love this picture - because it epitomizes what racing is. These women were not racing to win...but fighting for 6th place. And, um... those are the best looking abs EVER. I can say without any abashment or shame, that I'm jealous.

Rich and Julia, in one of those beautiful moments.

My friends - Julia and Seeley! Post-race smiles!

I think we've all been here, at some point or another.

Though it was very warm at the end of the race, arm warmers are becoming an awesome fashion-statement. I feel "hot" (literally) wearing them (but oddly enough, not out of place). If it helps with my sun exposure, well, then - there you go. At least I can be outside, right?

Julia, under the race start, with Lake Mission Viejo behind her. Man, I would have LOVED to be in that water.... NO SHARKS!!!! Hello?!? That is huge for me! For what it's worth... I brought my swimsuit, just in case.

Free post-race smoothies. I may never leave.

Team Minnesota - 3rd Overall in the "Best of the US" team race! HOORAY!

Sometimes you just have those moments where everything is "right", and you feel like you're walking on air. Julia - booking it to the finish!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Scattered Randomness

I've got the itch to write - but I don't really know what to say. Ever have those moments? I think we all do. Just scattered randomness. So....while many embark on this race weekend, I've been thinking the following.

In no particular order....

(cue harp dream music)

- Even though I had fun in Kona, I am SO happy that I'm not racing the Ironman. But that's today. Tomorrow.... well - tomorrow I'm sure that I'll wish I could be running down Ali'i drive. Alls I can say kids: LOVE it while you live it, because you never know how or when life will change. I'm not mad or upset - sure I'm a little sad... but that's just because there are many aspects of the sport that I miss. And given everything that's happened, I think that's a pretty normal response.

- I have a sneaking suspicion that Shitty Kitty is allergic to wheat. Is that even possible in a cat? Low and behold, I changed up her food from Science Diet to some Organic Cat Stuff (written while rolling my eyes), and no more projectile cat vomit.

- I nearly drove off the road when I heard the public radio commercial advertising the season opener of the La Jolla Symphony Orchestra. Holy Cow - that's me!! Well - me and 150 of my closest orchestra friends.

- It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the minute you buy a bag of coffee beans from a coffee shop - you see the same bag of beans on sale for $5 less at your grocery store.

- A slice of Minnesota is coming my way! Good friend, fellow blogger, and Jen Harrison athlete-extraordinaire Julia, is in town racing "Best of the US" up in Mission Viejo on Sunday. Sure, I'm excited to watch her race - but when she asked if I wanted anything from home - my response? A Pearson's Nut Goodie, please. Clearly - you can take the girl out of Minnesota, but you can't take Minnesota out of the girl. And she's bringing a salted nut roll for Nathaniel. We are BOTH excited!

- My cankle is going down! Yes, it's been a very very gradual process.... but still! Blowing out every vein in one's leg by growing a massive series of clots is NOT conducive to award-winning ankles. Or limbs. I've come to terms that I will never be a Leg Model - not that I was ever planning on it, but I always kept my options open. Hopefully you can detect the self-deprecation in there. Anyway....there's less cankle and more definition in the ankle/lower leg region. Fantastic!

- When a friend asks if you want to swim with her - even though the workout entails 4400 meters of "fun" stuff - you don't think twice. And I think that's the biggest difference of the Me from this year, versus the Me from last year. At this point in my life - training is a joy on the days I feel healthy enough to do it. For me - that's all that matters and makes all the difference in the world. Funny pictures and all.
Here's to taking life a little less seriously, enjoying what you have while you're doing it, and embracing the challenges! GOOD LUCK to everyone this weekend - my thoughts will be with you all.... Swift Wings my friends!