Friday, October 31, 2008

The LONG ride

Once upon a time...

I set out to ride
One fine, sunny day,
My bike was all ready
And I shouted "YEA!"

I passed through the gate
Of Whiting Field North
Steady and determined,
Ready to go forth.

Down the hill I went
And then right back up
Climbing my heart out
Hup hup hup!

No sooner did I turn
Onto Highway 89
I looked at my watch
Trying to determine the time.

My stomach felt weird,
My legs fat and slow
Suddenly I knew
This ride would be low

A long time it felt
But my watch did not lie
Only 11:29 into it,
And I felt ready to die.

So I negotiated and talked
To myself out loud
Keep going you'll be okay
You'll do yourself proud.

But the further I went
The harder it became
I didn't know why
I felt so darned lame.

I decided to turn around
Forty five minutes in
That would work out,
And then I would be fin!

I reached the mark,
But was determined to go on
Another few minutes
I couldn't go wrong.

You see my schedule it called
For a three hour ride
And I would feel guilty all day
If I let myself slide.

And then I figured
If I cut it short
I would call Coach Jen,
And give her my report.

Sympathetic she would NOT be,
Deep down I knew
She would tell me to keep going,
To H-T-F-U!

Instead I kept riding
North and then East
Upright and spinning
I was up against a Beast.

The creature was within
And its banter was fierce
It goaded and cajoled
And my heart it did pierce.

But I put my head down
And bravely pressed on
Pausing only to stretch
Willing it to be gone!

The wind was constant
Blowing ever more
It's presence wore at me
And my legs became sore.

The direction I traveled
Seemed to matter not a bit
Headwind, crosswind,
It just never quit.

So on to Highway 4
And the rollers I did meet.
It was a constant uphill battle
But I wouldn't be beat.

Beyond the point of no return
The shortest way back,
The path lay ahead, not behind
And courage I did not lack.

So I put my head down
And the miles ticked past
Even thought I was still moving
I wasn't going fast.

But that didn't matter,
I finally resolved
As long as I did my work
I would be absolved.

Finally onto Munson
Still 20 miles to go
The hills seemed bigger
And I was beyond low.

I just wanted to sit
Under a large shady tree
And eat bon bons and candy
And sip iced tea.

Get comfortable and relax
And get off my seat
I was tired and done
Physically and mentally beat.

I could call Nathaniel
My rescuer he would be.
But that wouldn't get the ride done
It wouldn't save me from me.

So I turned once again
And pedaled down the road
Carrying my thoughts with me,
A large and heavy load.

But the closer I came
To the end of my ride
I realized I was doing it,
I was staying alive.

Though the times were tough
And I wanted to stop
I kept going forward
Unwilling to drop.

I was proud of myself,
It would have been easy to quit
But I took the hard road
My fire had been lit.

Onto the Blackwater Trail
I made my final turn
A little over three hours and ten minutes,
Off the bike seat I did yearn.

Spinning up the trail
To the South Whiting Post
I flashed my ID card
And felt like making a toast.

I had done it, I had finished!
The ride was done!
Through the physical and mental battle,
I knew I had won.

I rode back to my car
A sight for sore eyes,
I circled the lot
And looked towards the skies.

The brilliant blue
And wispy white clouds
Made me feel happy I was done
And I sighed aloud.

The battle was tough,
Fraught with many lows
But I had prevailed through
Pushed past each bloody blow.

I don't know how I did it
At times it seemed so rough
But patience and perserverence,
Had me say, "Enough is enough!"

And all the while riding
This poem I did make up
It was enough to keep my going
Get me out of my rut.

Now I am done
And thankfully so
It this was annoying to you,
Imagine 3+ hours on the go.

Recovered and relaxed
But tired am I
I finished my ride
And did not die.

And next time it gets tough
I know what to say
Will get me through my day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The (dreaded) Book of Face.

Well, I did it. I caved. And by that, I mean I joined Facebook!

I have held out. I have done my best of avoiding it at all costs. I watched Nathaniel join. And made fun of him. And then started asking questions.

"Who's on?"

"Are any of my friends your friends?"

"Marit," he replied. "Sweetheart, why don't YOU join facebook?"

Humph - well obviously that was besides the point. Honestly... I was afraid that no one would be my friend. I would have only had, like, 12. And no offense to those who have 12 friends. But seriously.

Flashback to high school where - at times - it seemed as though I had only a few friends. And everybody else (ie the cool people) were all friends with each other. Yes, I marched to the beat of my own drum. But it would have been nice if I had more people marching along with me.

But that was so-fifteen-years-ago! And I've grown and gotten over my bad self.

So now I'm on. After an email from Bree Wee. Turns out she lost a bet. And then a facebook invite got sent to her entire email address book. Nice.

But aside from the complete time warp that happens when I log in (amazing how fast 2 hours can disappear!), I'm actually kind of enjoying it. Yes, it was a bit overwhelming - all the alerts and beeps happening at once. Nathaniel was trying to (helpfully) explain a few things while I had 18 notifications within :30 seconds.

I would be over the moon if I could sprint 50 yards in the pool in :30. I'm close - but not there yet. All things considered, give me the pool over the computer any day.

Can we say sensory overload?

But seriously, I'm having a lot of fun with the headers.... The Status Updates, I mean.

Marit is blogging about facebook!

Marit talked to her Mom for 40 minutes today. Marit loves her Mom and feels lucky to have her as a Mom!

Marit is wishing it she could see snow!

Marit ate a pomegranate and is off to do single leg drills on the bike. Marit's coach has a sense of humor...

(Okay, only one of those was on my header today...) But I thought about them all.

So in celebration of my newfound Facebook obsession, er activation, I'm making a list of all the Status lines that have been running through my head. And because I "do" triathlon - I'll make these about triathlon. And if we have time, I may just throw in a few more... just for fun.

Marit's Swim-Bike-Run Status Updates!

Marit is feeling nauseated in the pool and thinks she should get out before she becomes sick.

Marit does NOT like flip turns after swimming backstroke!

Marit enjoys 5 X 5 minute zone 3 pieces on the bike. Controlled fury!

Marit thinks her running shoes smell like death. Along with her bike shoes.

Marit loves running in the cooler temps. No more high temps with 90% dew point. And RIGHT before we leave Florida...

Marit thinks that people who give her the middle finger during her bike rides should get them chopped off.

Marit is willing to wear a wet suit and swim in 60 degree water temps as long as the outside pool remains open!

Marit is thinking that her coach is CRAZY! A 1:35 run where pushing the pace into zone 5 is acceptable?? Marit would like to give her wonderful coach a few select words...

Marit is amazed at how many miles she covered for her 1:35 run. 12.51! Her running legs are returning and maybe her coach isn't so crazy after all... Those select words are now positive select words.

Marit thinks that really ripped guys running without shirts in 40 degree temps and strong winds are stupid. And in future, should use a tanning bed to avoid tan lines.

Marit does not like ripped shirtless guys in 40 degree and windy weather passing her when she's running. If she REALLY wanted to, she would have chased him down. But then she would have to look at his goose bumps. Yuck!

Marit is SOOOOOO behind in updating Training Peaks.

Marit thinks that she should put the FUN in Functional Strength.

Marit wonders which grunting guy in the next room is about to give birth. His groans are VERY distracting.

Marit thinks her Garmin is slightly off when she runs through the woods. Or maybe she's just a little s-l-o-w on trails. She gets a little distracted in nature...

Marit think the UWF pool is HOT after swimming 60-degree water. Marit will NO LONGER ease into the water... CANNON BALL!

Marit is thinking that the rollers on Hwy 4 will look like the bike course at IM CdA. Hopefully the tailwind that sends her at speeds of over 28 mph will ALSO be present in Idaho.

Marit wishes that her Northern Counterparts would keep their COLD weather, because biking in 39-degree temperatures is NOT fun.

Marit is stylin' in her ZOOT apparel. She has NEVER looked so good in "cooler" temps while on the bike or out running!

Marit never ceases to be amazed at how high her heart rate goes while running up BIG hills. Like the 30% grade on UWF Campus. Fun times!

Marit is dreaming of BAKED GOODS (SHEET CAKE) while running. How many more days until the October Challenge is over?

Marit thinks that people who give her weird looks when she's running should try blowing snot rockets into a 20 mph cross wind. Not so easy, eh?

And a few more, just for fun...

Marit wonders how many blocks away from the Ocean she and Nathaniel will live. In NC it was 20 miles, in Florida it was 20 minutes...

Marit is excited that the movers are arriving on November 6th! She and Nate will be on the road for California by the 10th!

Marit is watching Anabelle run laps around the house.

Marit is now playing fetch with Anabelle.

Marit thinks that Anabelle thinks that she is a puppy.

Marit is SO EXCITED to meet up with Tri Girl Kate O, Mary Eggers, Dani K, Bri Gaal, and MANY MORE at IM Florida!

Marit is annoyed that it's "that time of the month." But she is SO HAPPY that she's not a man. Phew!

Marit wonders why so many people run red lights in Pensacola, and why the police don't mount cameras at intersections? Seriously people!!! Is it worth it?

Marit thinks that Facebook is dangerous. And foresees many future moments poised at the edge of her computer awaiting updates and notifications...

Marit thinks this blog is getting out of control and she should have stopped a long time ago!

Marit believes that Bree has created a monster. And that her friends will only add fuel to her fire. And she's having a great time so far!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


The Newest Naval Aviator - #29686 - has earned his "wings of gold". And what Marine would be caught without a Bierstein? Not my hubby!

What a whirlwind! The past few days have been jam packed and fun-filled, culminating in Nathaniel's winging yesterday. And finally - Saturday morning after the fact - I have a chance to sit and relax. Currently I'm in the living room, enjoying the conversations of Nathaniel and his parents. The kitties are "behaving" to the best of their ability.

And I'm on my third (or is it fourth) cup of coffee.

Doesn't matter.

The point is, I'm happy, I'm with family, and the past week has been busy. I did send Jen an email yesterday morning at some un-godly hour, to let her know why Training Peaks hadn't been update. Yes, the workouts are being done - and being done well. But the time crunch has been such that updates are not being completed in a timely manner.

This morning my hours completed jumped from 2:15 to 13:46. Amazing!

But now, I need to get going. The oatmeal has been digested and I'm ready for my workout. Later we'll go out to lunch, explore Pensacola, and grill beer brats late into the Florida evening.

And now - because I love him and am so proud of him - I am happy to present the newest Naval Aviator #29686. Nathaniel - you had a dream, you worked your butt off, and now you've earned your wings. Congratulations! I love you!

Nathaniel and his parents in front of the helicopter simulators. For the record, both Jim and I got a chance to "fly". We only crashed the helicopter once. But were informed by our simulator instructor that we would have been killed in the crash. Nice. We'll leave the flying to Nathaniel!

Nathaniel and me post-winging ceremony outside in front of the HT-57. Next the UH-1Y Huey at Camp Pendleton!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


As a rule of thumb, I generally try not to moan in public showers. In fact, I try to never make inappropriate noises while using facilities at the gym. You never know who's listening or what they may think if they happen to overhear something suspicions.

But after yesterday's swim I couldn't help myself.

The water was so warm, and I was more than cold. And I know what cold is like: remember folks, I'm from Minnesota. And although I've lived in North Carolina and Florida for the better part of five years, I know what Northern Cold is. It's been seared into my memory: frozen nostrils after inhaling sub zero air, and cheeks burning from a wicked North wind.

I won't go any further. Ahem. You know of what I speak...

And after slugging (yes, slugging!) my way through an hour long swim in water that was almost 70 degrees, the hot shower was the first feel-good moment for me in a little over 60 minutes.

Earlier when I arrived on the pool deck, the lifeguard warned me that the water was cold. "We've only had one swimmer all day actually get in the water. One other guy showed up, dipped his toe in and promptly left. It was too cold for him."

Then the seventeen-year-old smirked and looked at me.

I looked back, trying to think of something clever to say. Perhaps I was more focused on the cool water, but the thought alluded me completely.

"Well, I'll do just about anything to swim outside. I hate indoor pools - so if the water is a tad cold, well, at least I'll get a chance to work on my tan..." I realized I was blabbing, doing anything I could to reassure myself that I was here for the right reason.

The outdoor pool.

I quickly picked up my kick board, stacked up my gear at the end of my lane, grabbed my workout, and peered into the cool waters (as though just by looking at the pool, my gaze would warm it up).

I figured the best approach would be simply to jump. Do not place a toe in the water, do not ease in, do not splash yourself, do not pass GO!, do not collect $200, go directly to jail.

Oops. Wrong game.

"I think you should just jump!" said the guard, ever so helpfully.

Yes thanks, I didn't realize that Sonnie.

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking... just jump and swim."

"It'll be freezing at first! But after 10 or 15 minutes, you'll warm up!" he supplied helpfully.

Thanks buddy. Not helping...

I just looked at him. Not sure if he got the message, as my "glare" isn't all that mean. Plus, inwardly I was a bit nervous about the chill of the water. Cold water I can handle. I'm fine with it on my person, in my hair... but something about cold water getting in my ears while swimming. THAT is not fun.

Gingerly, I placed my silicone cap over my head and adjusted my tinted goggles. I was very thorough in making sure everything was on properly. Next: the pace clock. It had to be positioned just so. And finally I rearranged the swim toys at the end of my lane - who wants a messy lane? Kick board with workout, swim finz aligned perfectly, pull buoy on the other side, and water bottle last but not least to compliment the bunch.

Neat and orderly. Nice.

Was it time to hop in yet?

I pondered what else I could do before taking the inevitable leap. Should I stretch? I've never stretched before, but now seems as good a time as ever.

So I did some lame arm circles - forward and backwards - hugged myself a few times, and did a weird looking torso twist. I could feel the guard smirking at my back. Yeah, sure - go laugh it up. Just wipe that smirk off your face when I get a cramp 20 yards into my first lap and you have to jump in and rescue me. Ha! That would wipe the smirk off your face...

I readjusted my goggles a second and then a third time... and realizing that I was out of things to do, looked at the water. I swear it was taunting me, knowing that it was the only outdoor pool left open, unheated and cold as a witches fill-in-the-blank.

Toes over the edge, I pulled at my suit, took a deep breath, and jumped in without further thought.

A zillion icy pins pricked my body and I hit the pool bottom and pushed off towards the surface. "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim." Dori from "Finding Nemo" resonated through my brain as I came upon the wall for my first 25 yards.

Success! No calf cramp, so I wouldn't need to be rescued by some little twerp who thought I was crazy. Nice.

My warm-up wasn't really much of a warm up, as I was swimming at top speed in order to create as much body heat as possible. Suddenly swimming with a wetsuit didn't seem all that preposterous. After all, 69 degrees WAS wetsuit legal. Humph.

An hour later, my nose was colder, and I realized that I had spent very little time on the wall waiting for the next set. It may have been the first time I've ever cut my rest interval time short, but I can't be sure. The worst part was putting my face back in the water after doing a long kick set. My cheeks had just about regained feeling, and then submerging my head into the pool once again brought another painful flurry of stinging sensations.

But I did it. Workout complete, I made my way out of the water, collected my gear in record time, and started walking back towards the locker room. Another guard tried to joke with me about how he would sit in the steam room as long as he could tolerate and then jump in the cold pool....

Dude, thanks for the story - but shivering on the deck with the wind blowing and air temp hovering at 70, I'm really not all that interested. No offense.

I didn't tell him such, but I think the chattering of my teeth was enough to distract him from telling his tale.

Besides, if he really wants an invigorating feeling, he should sit in a 170 degree sauna and then roll in the snow in Northern Minnesota when the temps are well below zero. Don't tell me about a steam room and cold pool. Not the same, my friend.

After breaking free and returning my kick board to the gear closet, I skipped to the locker room, a crazed look in my eyes, and headed immediately to the shower. It was the best feeling I've had in a while. Absolutely delicious, if a shower could be so.

And luckily for me, I've got another swim tomorrow. So I will HTFU, hop into the cold pool, and swim outside because I LOVE swimming outside. I'm still trying to decide about the wetsuit, though. I may just bring it along, just in case the water is below 68. We'll see, though.

But I know one thing, the hot shower will feel great afterwards. Funny noises and all. So if you see a girl swimming up at Whiting Field NAS, full body wetsuit and gear stacked neatly at the end of her lane, do NOT get in her way as she runs from the deck to the showers. She may not be accountable for her actions. And you may find yourself in the cold water, sans wetsuit.

Friday, October 17, 2008

SD, CA & UH-1Y "Venom"

It's official!


He is over the moon about his helicopter. And I'm over the moon about where we'll be living!

For the first time, he'll be doing exactly what he wants and we'll be living exactly where we want to live! Not that there's anything wrong with Jacksonville, NC. But given the two - (and bear in mind that we've already lived in Eastern NC), we were hoping for Sunny So Cal.

We're still in a bit of shock over it all... He'll be getting winged on the 24th of October, and we think that we'll be moving during the first week of November. Nothing is for sure though, except for the location of our move, what Nate will be flying, and the winging date. We'll get the details of our move sometime early next week.

So for now, I'm signing off. (Ahem). A Florida gal for now, but a California gal in the near future. And I CAN'T WAIT!!!!!

Happy Birthday Karyna!

Karyna and me, 2007 Timberman Half-Ironman post race party! Even though we're both animal lovers, that night we became lobster lovers as well.

Happy Birthday Little Sis! Welcome to the wonderful age of 24! Holy Cow!! My LITTLE sister is now 24?!? It makes me feel OLD. Now before YOU (dear readers) start laughing too much, remember that I have all the memories of the two of us growing up. Romping through the back yard and playing with Barbie! in the basement.

Somehow 24 just seems like an adult. And as I still see myself as growing up (and learning all the time), it seems just so wrong that my young whipper snapper of a sister is getting on in years. Deep down to me, she's still the chubby cheeked, spunky kid who hated being called Cute!

So... in celebration of her birthday, here are The Top Ten Great Things about having Karyna as a Little Sister (while growing up). Long enough title? Thought so.

10. Hair cutting. I got to practice on her. And when she wouldn't let me snip snip, I told her where to "trim". Let's just say that Mom wasn't all that impressed with the upside down "V" shape that became her bangs. Whereas I was so proud. In her defense, I was 9 and curious.

9. Playing with Barbie! As the older sister I got to decide who played who. Karyna was a great Ken. But she bargained hard and got the corvette.

8. She became a vegetarian after a nasty bout of food poisoning from a tainted pizza at a friend's birthday party. The pizza went down fine. The wonderful Czech meal that Mom so lovingly made did not. Poor Karyna! More of the good stuff for me, Dad and Mom.

7. The little squirt loved homework. I did not. I thought briefly about having her do mine, but the realized that her second grade writing would look suspicious on my sixth grade assignment. But I was always impressed with her ability to get her work done right away. Ms. Me-Procrastination had a slightly more difficult time with that concept (and still do).

6. She was an awesome rock "climbing" parter up at Lake Superior during our annual August family vacation. We would go out for hours and scramble across the rocks along the North Shore. And later we became "wave hoppers" by jumping in the cold water.

5. Midnight meetings for hot cocoa next to the Christmas Tree. For three years in a row, we would sneak downstairs, make hot chocolate and turn on the Christmas Tree lights. Looking out the window to the brightly lit midnight snow (and sometimes falling flakes), and being surrounded by Christmas and Santa everywhere was truly special. I'm sure that Mom and Dad were suspicious of the copious amounts of Swiss Miss that disappeared, but if they suspected anything, they never commented.

4. We used to play violin duets together all the time. Even though she insisted on playing "The Two Grenadiers" from the very first moment she picked up the instrument, she practiced and practiced (and practiced!) and eventually got it. As a big sister I was so proud. Until she performed better than me. And then I practiced and practiced (and practiced).

3. "Gordon, Look!" Karyna provided the absolute BEST comic relief one night, when upset with having to go to bed while our guests were still visiting, she mooned Gordon before scampering up the stairs. We will never forget. Neither will Gordon.

2. Clothes. For some weird reason I liked running clothes from an early age (thank god I grew out of that phase last year), but Karyna always had a great fashion and style sense. So much so that I took more clothes of hers than I should have. Sorry K! This girl would give Stacey and Clinton of TLC's "What Not To Wear" a run for their money. I still look to her for fashion advice. Luckily the running shoes have been abandoned for low heels with dark wash jeans...

1. A partner in Crime! Can't tell you how many mishaps and messes we got in together while growing up. But I always knew I could count on her, and she could always count on me. That's what sisters are for!

Happy Birthday Karna! I love you and am SO PROUD of you! Keep doing great things - you are always number one to me! Enjoy your birthday with Mom - I know that Dad and I wish we could celebrate with you in person. Tabbitha and Anabelle AND Nathaniel all send their love as well.

love - MZ

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

...I found myself...

Tonight I found myself eating a large piece of Teryaki Pork, and going back for seconds. It was meat. It was pure protein. It was firm and well seasoned. It tasted salty. And it wasn't in the form of a gel or liquid calories. It was divine!

This afternoon I found myself looking in the bathroom mirror, and making a face at the crescent-shaped sunburn streak across my lower back. Apparently I forgot to sunscreen myself properly for my long ride. And my tri top rode up my back while I was "being a good girl" and staying in aero (especially on the hills!) Now my extendo-crack is topped by a giant, red smile. Kind of like a weird shaped lolly pop. Right on my back. Nice.

This afternoon I found myself clad only in a towel, sitting on a bench in the women's bathroom, scarfing a protein bar. I was hungry. I thought I could at least get the sweat and grime off me before I consumed said bar. I was wrong.

This afternoon I found myself making a detour to the outdoor pool on Whiting Naval Air Station, before I had completed my run cool down. The blessed thing is still open, and the head lifeguard was amused at my request to jump into the 71-degree water, running clothes and all. Not quite as good as an ice bath, but my legs didn't seem to care. So I got a few weird looks. What else is new?

This afternoon I found myself looking at the Golf Course Sprinkler system and wondering if I should risk it and run through. I was hot. And I had already spent 3+ hours biking and running. Who would notice if I scampered through a few sprinklers? First - base security. I don't think they have a sense of humor. Second - I wasn't sure if the water was potable or not. And I figured that I could HTFU for another 10 minutes before I reached said outdoor chlorinated pool.

This afternoon I found myself stripping off my biking clothes for running clothes in a public parking lot. Nothing says fast transitions like the good old-switcharoo. I think the customers at the gas station were a bit surprised. Oops. I was discreet. We triathletes all are, right? (Okay - don't answer that).

This afternoon I found myself wishing that Santa Rosa County wasn't so rolling on the hill front. Whatever happened to the long flat roads that I kept hearing about? Apparently the people who promised me those didn't get the memo. No, I'll admit this is nothing like Colorado or California. But 50 miles of constant rollers can wear you down.

This afternoon I found myself thinking that the Tri Bloggers October No Candy! No Baked Goods! Challenge is stupid. And that I would be willing to ride another hour of rollers for a piece of sheet cake. No - I would be willing to push the 10-year old Birthday Boy in the pool from last weekend and then run off with the cake, for a piece of cake.

This afternoon I discovered that either my shorts hated me, or that my chamois cream decided to stop working at exactly 1:27 into my ride. Nice. Those rollers just got real fun.

This afternoon I found myself picking out my workout clothes based on tan lines. It's a never-ending battle, I tell you. And I'm not the only one out there who does it. Admit it!

This morning I found myself contemplating my gel selection, and then decided I needed to try something new. Vanilla is just so, vanilla. So Strawberry Bananna and Somthing-Mocha-flavored was the decision. And the extra caffeine was GREAT!

This morning I found myself looking at my workout schedule and excited for my long brick. This morning I was happy. And I knew it would be a good day.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Pool Party

It should have been a fun swim.

It was supposed to be a relaxing, fun swim.

I would have liked an easy-going, relaxing, fun swim.

But it wasn't. Through no fault of my own, though.

A quick side note: Sure, I may race for Peanut Butter Cups and Peanut M&Ms, but I love, absolutely love the baked goods. Give me a piece of sheet cake (marble with butter cream frosting), and I'm a very happy camper. A sugar-high, cake-buzzing, happy camper.

So yes, I'm still true to the October Challenge on TriGirl Pink's blog (no candy, no baked goods!), but I simply wasn't aware of my love for the baked items until I swore off them for a month.

As of yesterday, it had been 12 days of no baked goods. No cake. No blueberry muffins. No pumpkin cheesecake. No cookies (or cookie dough). No creme brule when I went out last Saturday with Nate, because I wasn't sure if it was included in the baked goods...

Trust me, I'm working hard here. The last thing I want is to inadvertently cheat. Kind of like finding out you were on track to set a PR in the 1,000 swim, only to swim 950. Or something like that.

In summary: I am a good girl!

Back to my swim.

The workout code was "Hard: Steady". I wasn't sure exactly what that entailed, but lots of sprinting combined with 2 X 750 pulls with paddles sounded downright masochistic. Apparently, my coach has a quirky sense of humor.

But I started off on the warm-up and then main set, noting between brief stints on the wall the lifeguards setting up tables and chairs on the side of the pool, a few lanes down from where I was swimming.

And that's when the parents and kiddies arrived. It was a huge pool party.

Not the kind where a few little friends jump in the water and splash around. No. No less than 25 kids were running and screaming up and down the pool deck, jumping off the diving board and having a great time. Briefly I smiled, happy that they were young enough to unabashedly show their joy.

Another set of Hard: Steady! completed, and I found myself gasping on the side of the pool. My Darth Vadar-like breathing may have attracted the attention of a few parents, concerned that their child was choking on something they shouldn't be eating yet.

And then I saw it: the cake.

A GIANT sheet cake, white with something colorful coming out of the top. Was it a volcano? Could the parents have commissioned a sheet cake with a frosting volcano coming out of the top? Or where my eyes playing tricks on me?

Before I was tempted to jump out of the water, steal the cake, and run out of the pool, I started my second 750 pull. Quote: I am a good girl! But I swear, I would have covered the half mile to my car - sheet cake and all - in well under 3:00. Speedwork, right?

The thought flashed briefly through my mind: a mad woman, wearing only a bathing suit, cap and goggles, running with all her might towards the parking lot, making off the a kiddie birthday cake with parents and kids stare in amazement. What I wouldn't do for sheet cake.

And then I found myself growing more bitter by the second: stupid kids! They didn't know how good they had it! They could stand around, stuff their faces with chips and coke, and eat cake! Humph! And the parents? Bringing sweets, treats, chips, and CAKE to a pool where people are obviously trying to workout. It's not fair I tell you, not fair!

I may have screamed out underwater; I can't be sure.

And then it hit me: let them enjoy their cake. Let them enjoy their youth. When was the last time I ran around in a bathing suit, eating whatever I wanted and having a great time? Okay - races don't count.

That's the beauty of youth: kids aren't taught to be ashamed of how much they eat or how they look in bathing suits. They just want to have fun, enjoy the pool, and celebrate a friend's birthday. It was me who needed to get a grip.

Oh well, the plight of aging.

So instead of dwelling on what I didn't have (Sheet Cake!), I focused on the rest of my swim set - finishing off my sprints with as much flourish as I could muster after 2 X 750 pulls. And it was as good as I could make it be.

But gosh darn it, I could have certainly used a piece of sheet cake for my effort. Perhaps a corner with lots of frosting?

Only 2 and a half weeks to go. And next time I encounter a birthday party at the pool, I'll sit back and watch the kids enjoying themselves. But you never know about the cake: I have some serious running speed work to work on, and running as fast as I can toting a hijacked sheet cake would be a great workout. Food for thought, eh?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

My List (for the week)

Over the past few days and weeks, I've been fortunate to learn a lot of new stuff, realize a few new things. Some of it through trial and error, other things through pure dumb luck. But in spite it all, I've been keeping a running tally in my head.


How convenient! Because you're at my blog, so I'm going to do something that I really like to do: make a list. (Also, another thing I've realized. I like making lists).

Read on, friends, read on!

-I am a "genius" with my new Garmin 405 watch. I managed to set up the charger and charge the watch. A victory indeed, as I had to read the complicated instructions and figure it out for myself. Nathaniel, on the other hand, was busy telling me how many satellites the thing connected up to (12), and the many features of the watch. Hold your horses, I'll get there! (eventually). Perhaps he can just explain it to me.

-My bike shoes smell like death. Perhaps I should use socks when I ride. Oops. The scary part? I've only done one bike Time Trial with them. Everything else has been recent training. A scary thought indeed.

-Tabbitha's rear end also smells like death. Perhaps a 20+ pound kitty doesn't have the easiest time cleaning her unmentionables. Even more difficult when there's a Mini Monster chasing HER around. I think I'll have to help sooner rather than later.

-Reading about and seeing photos of Kona really makes me want to go there some day. Perhaps not to race, but to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the sights and sounds. Who am I kidding? Of course I would love to race in Kona - one day. All in good time, all in good time.

-Um, so I'm really ready to race again. My regular clothes almost fit and I'm getting fitter and fitter. Only a small muffin top when I put on my favorite pair of Capris - but no one could tell if I suck all the air out of my lungs and hold my breath. :) How long until Oceanside 70.3???

-I am willing to drive 45 minutes to swim in my favorite outdoor pool for an hour. And then drive 45 minutes home. Ah, the things we'll do for a little sunshine.

-The same pool mentioned above is a "balmy" 72 degrees. I swear that I swim the fastest warm-ups ever! I also realize how much I enjoy wetsuits.

-I love baked goods. Last night while reading/watching TV in bed, there was a clip of next week's "Biggest Looser" where the contestants are in a dark room filled with treats and things they used to eat before going on the show. I sat up in bed and promptly exclaimed, "BAKED GOODS!" I heart baked goods more than I realized... only 23 more days to go. October is looking to be a long month.

-I am not very patient with the "where are we going next?" thing. Nathaniel has two flights left, including today. He needs to finish his final flight by next Tuesday if he is going to get his wings on the 24th. If this is the case and he's not canceled for any reason, we'll get "the word" on or about the 20th. If he doesn't complete his final flight by the end of business on Tuesday, we'll have to wait two more weeks.

-I can no longer do a workout without stretching afterwards. I have reached the age where stretching and specifically rolling out my legs with the foam roller and quadballer are critical to my athletic success. Additionally, I make whimpering noises while rolling these contraptions over my tight muscles and knots. However, if I can run pain free - then its something that I'm willing to do.

-I get my chocolate fix with Chocolate Soymilk. The lite kind, if possible. But yesterday in desperation, I reached for the regular and didn't look back.

-The Chocolate Soymilk and post-workout stretching session go really well together. As long as I don't hit a particularly bad knot and upchuck the Soymilk. I'll have to get back to you on that one.

-Socks are critical to running shoe comfort, especially during a long duathlon-style workout. Even though my shoes were advertised as "socks unnecessary", in future, I'll wear them that way only while racing. I like the skin on my feet blister-free. And I'm looking forward to the day my poor feet heal.

-I am willing to stay on the trainer for an extra 10 minutes or so, if the right song comes on my ipod. Today it was a funny song by Nathaniel's favorite Air Force duo, "Dos Gringos", titled "World War III". The liberal in me blanches at something like this, but the catchy tune and great commentary on social divides and world politics makes me laugh.

-Did I mention Nathaniel has 2 flights left? Not that I'm pulling for one coast or the other, but I've already looked up Masters Swimming at the Encinitas YMCA or UCSD. And I'm daydreaming about climbing Palomar again... and it would be great to take a few different vineyard tours...

-I hate changing the litter box. Tabbitha was explosive enough as it is, but with a second addition to our family, Anabelle can be downright foul. The smaller they are, the smellier their poop, I guess. I've been tempted to use Nathaniel's gas mask to ensure my survival, but so far tenacity and speed have worked.

-After working really hard for weeks on end, having an official day off from training felt great. And weird. What to do? The beach, of course! I might as well try to get rid of my many bike shorts and running top tan lines by hanging outside training bathing suit. Couldn't find any of my other suits.

-My closet looks like it threw up. Partly because I have a problem getting clothes from the dryer to the hanger, but partly because I was searching and searching (and searching) for my non-workout swim wear.

-I am SO EXCITED about IM Kona. After I do my long bike ride for the weekend, of course. I think I'll go out early so I can catch the cannon going off on line.

-Being happy and returning to my sunny self feels really good. I look forward to workouts, enjoy the daily challenges of life, and cope much better with adversity. In the end, that's all I can ask for: being happy and healthy. Oh yeah - and the same for my friends and family.

-I really DO enjoy making lists.

Onward to the grocery store! (After my list, of course).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Implosion

Implode: /im-'plod/ (def) a: to burst inward b: to undergo violent compression 2: to collapse inward as if from external pressure; also : to become greatly reduced as if from collapsing3: to break down or fall apart from within : SELF-DESTRUCT.

Which is pretty much what happened on my swim today.

And it was brilliant.

Hey, if you're going to go down, you might as well do so in a blaze of glory, right? No regrets - just leave everything out there. How do we know what sort of limits we have unless we continuously push the envelope? Break through old barriers and set new highs.

But it was quite painful, if I do say so myself.

Call it what you want: The Wizard, Dumbledore, The Gorilla on the back, or The Red Monkey. All I know, is that towards the end of my swim set, I was towing something on my back. At least that's what it felt like.

Before the swim, I emailed Coach Jen and asked her opinion on what kind of average time I should aim for. Within a matter of minutes I got my reply. And it was something that I knew I could do, but for a workout of this magnitude I had just never done it.

Had I been doing short swim sets (100s, 200s, 300s), it would have been fine. Piece of cake (except that I can't have any for the month of October. Sigh. I miss my baked goods!)

Really. Trust me when I say I can hold on to an 80-85% effort for up to 4 minutes. But when you start throwing 600s and one L-O-N-G 800 into the mix, it changes things up a bit.

But I figured "why not".

Why not indeed?

Uh - do I really have to answer this? Will this be another Self 1 and Self 2 thing? Because it'll be painful?

I had a few brief flashbacks to working with my old coach when I would desperately try to hold a specific pace for 3 X 1000. I remember how painful, how tiring those workouts were. And all too often, I fell short of my goal.

But this is a new season, a new coach. And even, a new me. So if Jen thought, nay - if Jen believed I could hold this pace, I knew it was possible.

Workout started when I met up with Ludi at the pool. I checked her workout out - a mere 3000 yards and wanted to cry. I asked if she wanted to switch, but she laughed and said, "No way."


No baked goods, candy, and my awesome training partner refuses to switches workouts. Not cool.

Hopped in the water, realized it was refreshingly warm (only for the warm-up, it felt HOT during the sets!), and began the swim. After a 500 free and 8 X 50 of IM drills and kicks, I was ready to start my pyramid sets of 200, 400, 600, 800, 600, 400, 200.

I guess the one upside about having to hold a specific time, was that I would be taking a peek at my watch ever 100 or 200 yards; so hopefully I wouldn't loose track of yards covered. Heaven forbid that I swim 650 instead of 600. Or worse... only a 550?

200 and 400 went by without a problem. I hit my goal pace and was still on track. No worse for the wear, but my arms were teeny-weeny fatigued from the functional strength earlier. (not thinking about the impending soreness! not thinking about the impending soreness...said the tiny voice in my head).The 600 found my using the pull buoy and paddles. Not quite as much pressure to go fast, but if my arms were sore before, it was nothing compared to what I was experiencing now.

A quick check of my watch at the 300 showed I was still on track, but I wondered if this would be possible after my 800. I cruised in, threw the paddles off, shook out my hands, and got ready for the monster of my workout.

The 800.

At that time, it seems so inappropriate to think about how fast you can run an 800. Downright cruel. In high school I ran my 800 in 2:40. Now in the pool, I cover a 200 in the same time. An 800? Well, let me think about that one...

Regardless, it's a lot longer.

And 800 on the bike? Even faster.


Did I mention I wasn't doing candy or baked goods in October.


But it didn't matter: the 800 is what I wanted. I wanted to show myself that I could do it. Prove to myself that I could nail something that was within my grasp; in spite of the hardship, in spite of the pain. It was mine if I wanted it.

First 400 was uneventful. I could feel my arms, but my rhythm was solid and strong. I hit the 500 exactly one second over my goal pace, and that's when I began to feel the pull at my arms and burn in my lats. Head down, hips rotating, I powered past the 600. I was dimly aware of Ludi sharing my lane, and once at some point I got a mouthful of water during a flip turn.

Note to self: inhale air not water.

And then I really began to hurt.

With 150 to go, I reminded myself that it was less than 2:00. To quote my old rowing coach, "You can do anything for 2 minutes." Yeah, sure. Not one to argue, but I could rip that apart if I really felt like it.

100 left came and went, and I reasoned that with every stroke I took I was that much closer to finishing the set. Final 25 found me powering down the lane, my breath billowing out of my body like a freight train engine.

I think I can I think I can I think I can....

I hit the wall and was happy to be done. A glance at my watch confirmed I was 2 seconds above my target time, something I was so excited about. Had I been able, I would have been whooping it up on the deck. But as it was, I was gasping for air, barely holding onto consciousness.

"Damn girl! You know you look blue?" Was the only comment Ludi made before she took off for her 150.

It was all I could do to keep from throwing up. At least if I vomited, I would get out of the rest of my set. For some reason, I'm not sure if Jen would harbor much sympathy for me. Better just to get the rest over with.

The next 600 pull went by in a flash of pain I would rather forget. So I conveniently did.

It was during the final 400 that I imploded. Big time. I pushed off the wall with the happy thought that I would be done with this set in half the time it took for me to complete my 800. Oh joy!

I could definitely feel the fatigue, my arms were shot, my lats were burning and I could tell my form was not what it was 2000 yards ago. Oh well; little that I could do about it now save for finishing the set. And 200 yards into my 400, it hit.

I felt like I was carrying a bowling ball behind me. Something jumped on my back for a free ride, and I swear that I saw Dumbledore in the stands during my turn. His eyeglasses sparkled over his crooked nose, and his blue eyes gazed down at me during my swim. There was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent the catastrophic result. And my next 100 was a full five seconds slower than anything from before.

At the same time, though, I was happy. Call me crazy. Sure, I'll admit it.

But in order to reach that point, the point where my body decides it can do no more, I had pushed it to the edge, pushed past the bounds of what I thought possible. Of what I had done in the past. And in doing so, I paid the price later.

And I didn't mind a bit. I would rather give it my all, leave my heart out on the field of battle than have never tried. Sometimes its better when we don't play it safe, when we take a risk and see where we can go, what we can do.

And if it meant I felt like I was swimming through spaghetti for my final 400 and 200, so be it. If that's what imploding means to me, then that's okay.

Next time I do a workout like this, I'll remember what I did today and know that I can push the bounds even more. And you never know - perhaps I'll make it to the final 200 before I spectacularily implode. You never know.

You never know unless you try.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

S1, S2 and The Pep Talk

There are times when we have absolutely the perfect bike ride. The sun is shining, the winds are low, roads are smooth, bugs are not present, and four hours feels like four minutes.

Then there are other rides. The kind where headwinds are never ending, your bike seat is trying to permanently maim you, the gels taste awful, and you end up giving yourself a pep talk at 3:42 into the ride knowing full well that you've still got another 45 minutes left to go.

The latter was my ride today.

It was a battle of wills, a battle within myself if you may. And after I peeled off from Ludi and our little group at 2:30 into the ride, the final few hours felt long and never ending.

So here are the conversations that I had with myself. Because after all, in the end, I did survive.

Self 1: Wow. Look at those guys going up the hill. Am I going backwards? To quote Phil Ligget, "The rubber band has snapped and she's dropping back!"
Self 2: At least I'm biking up the hill. Besides, who wants to go 20 mph up a hill that you usually take at 13. They can race themselves, thank-you-very-much!

Self 1: It's cold. I should have brought arm warmers!
Self 2: Dude - It's in the upper 60s, soon to be 70. HTFU!

Self 1: Sunscreen is getting in my eyes! Ouch!
Self 2: Your 60-year-old non-wrinkled self will thank you one day.

Self 1: Wow, this road has a huge headwind! Don't look at the mph, don't look at the mph, don't look at the mph....
Self 2: Oh good! A turn up ahead! Tailwind, here I come!
Self 1: Oops, not really a headwind. Just slow. Now this is wind.
Self 2: Perfect for Kona one day!

Self 1: Am I going the right way?
Self 2: You have a great sense of direction!
Self 1: Then why does that sign say Alabama?
Self 2: Well, I can enjoy that extra dessert tonight!
Self 1: You're doing no candy and no baked goods in October. Genius.

Self 1: F*ck! My saddle sore has now (gulp) burst? (At least that's the only thing I can think of that would explain the sensation in my sensitive area)
Self 2: That's okay! You'll be all ready for full blown IM training next year!

Self 1: I hate my saddle.
Self 2: But it's pink. You like pink. Therefore you like your saddle.

Self 1: I have gone less than 70.3 miles in the time it takes the 70.3 Pro Men to win their race. And they have to swim before and run after. Busybody's.
Self 2: At least your planning on going 70.3 miles.

Self 1: I hate my gels
Self 2: Let's buy a granola bar at the store!
(at the store...20 minutes later)
Self 1: They only sell candy. And baked goods. There is no justice!
Self 2: Yeah - I can try Orange Gatorade!
Self 1: No one would know if you bought licorice... or a donut... and you totally deserve it!
Self 2: But I would know. And in the end, that's all that counts.

Self 1: Oh Sh*t! I forgot my bike bag (with the phone, car key, money, tire levers, tube, id cards) four miles back at the store. You have got to be kidding.
Self 2: More time to bike and enjoy the beautiful country roads!
(turns out the awesome people at the store were holding it for me and they sent out someone to find me. Unfortunately they went on the wrong road - but the thought was really nice. Thank you country store in Munson, FL!)

Self 1: My quads feel like they're about to burst out of my shorts if I climb another "roller"
Self 2: Oh good, I'm building muscles!

Self 1: My gum tastes gross!
Self 2: At least I have teeth to chew it with.

Self 1: Thank God I made it back to the end of the trail. Only 7 more bloody miles to go.
Self 2: I'm doing great! Only 7 more miles to go!

Self 1: That wasn't so bad. Now that it's over.
Self 2: You have got to be kidding. You would have made the flippin' ride so much easier had you decided to act like that throughout.

So the moral of the story: I survived the ride, my pep talk with 45 minutes left convinced me to press forward, and I wasn't really worse for the wear. Plus, I discovered a few new roads, learned that people in Munson are really great with lost possessions, and I'm one day closer to ending the October no candy, no baked goods challenge. And that's something to smile about.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Beep Broccoli Bogart (Bath?) British Comedy!

It never ceases to amaze me the things I'm constantly learning about My Other Half. Yes, Nathaniel and I have been married for well over five years, and have been together for just over eight. But recently I've learned a few interesting things.

No - nothing too embarrassing.

Well, maybe. But that depends on your vantage point.

First, the Beep. Friday morning the two of use were enjoying coffee on the deck overlooking our Nature Preserve (aka a way the "apartment homes" we live in can charge us more for our view of a swamp), chatting about our daily planned activities. I had a swim and a bike workout to conquer, and Nathaniel was not flying - but going into the squadron to study (4 flights left and he's done!)

The conversation gradually turned to Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, and their final fateful voyage in the DC-10 Electra. A few years ago I read a fantastic account of the search for Earhart and Noonan titled Amelia Earhart's Shoes, and was surprised to discover that Earhart did not know Morse Code.

Presently, very few aviators know Morse Code, because in current flight charts the Morse Code ID symbols are written next to every navigation station, rendering memorization unnecessary.

However, Nathaniel learned Morse Code at the tender age of 11 or 12, during his stint with amateur radio. And then he proceeded to tap and dash out the entire alphabet and numbers.

I confessed that I had always harbored a secret desire to learn Morse Code, and that this new revelation made him more appealing than ever.

He just rolled his eyes.

Later in the conversation we were discussing lunch and healthy diets. Nathaniel was interested to see how I held up with the No-Candy No-Baked-Goods October Challenge, and mentioned that he was taking steps with his diet to be a little more healthy.

(Speaking of which, lately I've been harboring a craving for Pumpkin Cheesecake. I figured that its dairy and a vegetable, right? Alas - it's baked. And that is just wrong. But I've been a very good girl thus far!)

Back to Nathaniel...

"Like at lunch, when they ask if I want chips with my meal, I request the vegetable of the day. They other day they brought broccoli and I ate it all..."

I swear, I couldn't love the man any more.

Ah - the Bogart. And no, I'm not making a Harry Potter reference. For the record, I'm the only JK Rowling fan in our house. But a few weeks ago Nathaniel bought "Casablanca" and "The Maltese Falcon".

We have since watched both, concluding with the Falcon movie today. It seems that Nathaniel has either become a classic movie fan or a Humphrey Bogart fan. I'm going for the latter.

"Here's looking at you, kid."

For the record, we both liked Casablanca more than The Maltese Falcon - but both movies were great. The dialog and banter between characters was pithy, and humor could be found at every level. They were both classics. But you didn't need me to tell you that...

Ah - the Bath. I figured this one would be a little tricky to explain. Because if asked any questions whatsoever about it, My Other Half would vehemently deny any knowledge of the purchase. But a short time ago, a Loofah appeared in our bathroom. Some could call it a back scratcher, others a nice way of ex foliating one's skin. Regardless, it wasn't me who brought it into the house.

Tabbitha or Anabelle - perhaps them.

Nathaniel will neither confirm nor deny the existence of said Loofah. But I have noticed that it's changed spots a few times and has been used. As I've been a tad sunburnt lately, I've been an aloe girl myself.

But if Nathaniel's skin starts looking exceptionally glowing, then I'll know what's up. And so will you.

And finally for the British Comedy: it's Saturday night and the local PBS station airs all of MY favorites. (You didn't really think this was all about Nate, did you? Silly readers!) And even though we own all the box sets of "Keeping up Appearances", "As Time Goes By", "Are you being Served", "Mr Bean", and "Fawlty Towers", I'm still a sucker for good old PBS. I guess it takes the decision making on my part out, and I can simply sit back and enjoy a classic.

Good stuff.

So now I'm off, to enjoy a bit of Hyacinth and the staff from Grace Brothers Department Store.

And then my Bike tomorrow morning... ah, the saga continues!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Challenge

Well, it has begun.

TriGirl Pink's October "Fun" Challenge. Is "Funtober" a word? Didn't think so. But never mind that.

For specific details, see her blog. But I'll summarize.

No candy for the month of October.


Don't say "what" it's not polite.
(movie quote, I can't help myself.)

Let's try this again.


Yes, you read correctly. No. Candy. For. The. Month. Of. October.


Some participants are taking things a bit extreme. Rachel Ross is not having any chocolate. What, no chocolate? That's like Elizabeth not having PB Cups. Or coffee. A very scary thought indeed!

And my uber coach Jen is not having any candy OR baked goods. For. The. Entire. Month. PERIOD. That's very nuts.

So much so, that I jumped on her bandwagon and enacted the same "challenge" for myself. So exnay on the candy or baked goods. Candy I can do without. Unless it's an emergency - like a PB Cup or Peanut M&M-type emergencey - then all bets have been off in the past.

Baked goods are a different story all together. And no, I'm not banning bagels or casserole or anything like that. Just brownies. And cookies. And (sniff) individual-slized-sheet-cake-with-lots-of-yummy-frosting.


And can you believe that its only October 1st?

I have a feeling that this will be a long month.

But that's the thing about a challenge: it's supposed to be difficult. It's supposed to be hard. If it were easy (like eating a bag of Peanut M&Ms) everyone would do it. But by nature, it's a "challenge" for a reason.

And for those wondering, yes I did purchase a large bag of Peanut M&Ms yesterday. I got about halfway through the bag, then could do no more. The damage was already done and my stomach was beyond full. So I did what any respectable M&M-aholic would do, and pushed them to the other side of the bed. Had Nathaniel been home, he would have enjoyed the other half of the bag.

As it was, he was out flying.

Lucky me.

So the next hour found my hand intermittently in the bag. Luckily I fell asleep before the entire bag was consumed.

And that's the sight I awoke to this morning. The first of October, our "Challenge" month - a more-than-half eaten bag of Peanut M&Ms resting on the counter with a hair binder tied tightly around the top to prevent any more snacking.

I swear, the M&Ms were trying to guilt-trip me into polishing off the bag.

"Come on Marit," they called, " - no one will know! And besides, you LOVE us...we are delicious, chocolaty, peanuty, and satisfyingly crunch! You cannot resist! If you don't eat us, you'll think about it all day and the inevitable break down will occur. Just you wait...."

Was I hallucinating?

Hope - just my overly active imagination at work. But still...

I figured that M&Ms of any sort in my house are not safe - and told Nathaniel to take the sorry-looking-bag to the squadron with him. He could enjoy all that he wanted.

So October is looking to be a very interesting month indeed. I'll have to find something to take place of my baked goods and candy itch. Perhaps light chocolate soy milk?

Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself.

One day down, thirty more to go.

And what a challenge it will be!