Sunday, June 29, 2008

TAG (from Wee!)


Spread the blogger love and enjoy:

10 Years ago I was…
About to enter my senior year of high school, carefree, rowing, playing the violin, and knowing exactly what I was going to do with my life. (Play violin professionally, for all those wondering…)

5 Years ago I was…
Driving from Quantico, Virginia to Twentynine Palms, California with Nathaniel. On the way we stopped in Waukesha, Wisconsin (his hometown) and then got married in St. Paul, Minnesota. Totally planned, of course. We got married on the 30th of June, honeymooned for two days in Stillwater, MN, and managed to drive from Minnesota to California in roughly two days. Well, two and a half. Let’s just say that my new husband discovered that he had a lead foot. It was an incredible adventure, but I found that after 14 hours straight (one day) in the car, that I’m not a very good conversationalist. So he kept driving… And we didn't speak for the final 3 hours of day 2. As it turns out, silence is golden. For the record, I had no clue what I was going to do with my life…

1 Year ago I was…
Sick as a dog while visiting my folks in Minnesota. A sinus infection knocked me flat on my back, and I took 3 weeks off from training. My July and August races were not fun, as I was still hacking up green stuff. Nice. However, I was prepping for Clearwater 70.3 Worlds later on that season (thank goodness it was November)… And still, I had even less of an idea of what I was going to do with my life…

5 things on my to-do-list today..
Change the bed sheets
Complete workouts (swim and run)
Watch Iron Chef (I’m a sucker, I know)
Spend time with Nathaniel
Try to make peace between the House Monster and the Meat Puppet

5 snacks I enjoy...
Cereal and milk…
Pretzels and peanut butter
Frozen fruit – either blueberries or raspberries
Tomato Basil Wheat Thins with Fat Free Cottage Cheese
Carrots and salsa

If I were a billionaire I would…
Pay off our debts and my family’s debts
Volunteer and help organizations that work with underprivileged children, animals, or developmentally disabled individuals.
Hire a housecleaner (as our place - more often than not -looks as though a tornado has blown through. Or my personal favorite: like the closet has thrown up)
Bike across Europe with Nathaniel (travel more!)

6 people I want to have lunch with tomorrow…
Nathaniel, my Grandpa Joe (whom I never met, but who spent 6 years in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II), JK Rowling (author of Harry Potter), Jane Austen (Author of “Pride & Prejudice”, “Sense and Sensibility”, and many other novels), Amelia Earhart, George Mallory.

5 places I have lived
St. Paul, Minnesota
Prague, Czechoslovakia
Madison, Wisconsin
Havelock, North Carolina
Pensacola, Florida

5 jobs I have had
Lifeguard (best summer job ever!)
Violin Teacher
Fundraiser for UW-Madison
Personal Trainer
YMCA Fitness Director

Okay Wee!, this was a fun list. What's next?

More importantly, what's on your list?

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Saturday June 28

S: Sushi! Nathaniel and I met up with Ryan (Caught on the Run!), wife Melissa, and Teegan their spunky 5-year old daughter. Lots of fun, lots of good food, and naturally (when you throw two triathletes together), lots of tri-related discussion. I think this is only the second time that I’ve seen Ryan without spandex. Only a true triathlete and their sherpas could appreciate that. I’m still in awe of Teegan’s picture that she drew for me. You Go Girl!

A: Anabelle! She’s settled in quite comfortably – we keep her in the kennel, away in the Study when we’re not here. When we are here, we’ll try to hold her or carry her around with us. Earlier, she enjoyed her second breakfast and lunch in the bedroom, while Nate and I watched “Casablanca”. She was very well behaved and didn’t scratch.

T: Tabbitha! Is perturbed, to say the least. She’s taken over The Ugly Green Recliner, and is demanding much more food. Somehow, I think that its cruel to make her stay on her diet while getting a new Meat Puppet, er, Little Sister. So Tabbitha’s cat bowl has food in it all the time. And good thing too, as she drowns her sorrows in kibble. But we’re giving her as much affection as we can. And she has hardly launched any attacks at us today. Maybe two. OR three. (Not that we’re counting!)

U: Ungodly Hot! I felt like a wet rag outside when I left the house at 5:45 am for my brick up in Milton. A warm, wet rag – to say the least. I did great for my ride, as biking at XX mph will certainly bring about some cooling from the wind. But running at ANY pace is difficult, if not impossible. I managed to huff 4 miles in just over 32 minutes. My heart rate was off the chart, and never have I experienced a zone 5 heart rate while running an 8-minute mile. There’s always a first, eh? I was grateful for the ice cold watermelon that the roadies were munching on – they offered me a piece as soon as I staggered over from my run. Then one of them grabbed the hose, and let ‘er rip on me. Not that it did much, as I was already covered in sweat anyway. But if felt good.

R: Roadies! I am grateful to Eddie, who had the foresight to bring an ice cold watermelon for after their ride. Even though I did my own thing, riding with Donna and then running afterwards, they were more than willing to share as many pieces as I could eat. It was cold, it was delicious, and next time I see Eddie – he’ll be getting a non-sweaty hug.

D: Discovery Channel! Very interesting shoes – “When We Left Earth” and “Deadliest Catch”, were two that I watched with Anabelle on my lap, and later Tabbitha by my side. Rumor has it “Shark Week” is rapidly approaching – end of July. To watch or to not watch? Good question – I’ll get back to you on that one. Stay tuned.

A: Accidents! We had one on the bed today. An unnamed little Meat Puppet got so comfortable in our down comforter, that she wet the bed. That’s okay – we’ve all done it at some point or another. We all have accidents. And that’s exactly how I found out our down comforter from Ikea can be washed. It is currently in the dryer. Hopefully it’ll be even better than before. Again, I’ll get back to you on that one.

Y: Yikes! Thunder and lightning galore outside! And why wouldn’t it storm? It’s Florida in June. And the current temperature at 10:03 pm is 82 degrees F. with 88% humidity. Nice. Like I said before: a swamp. Or yucky damp cloth. Thunder away!

J: Junk food! I did a great job today and stayed away. I swear. Okay – as long as you don’t count the post-brick Coke. And Cliff Peanut Butter Protein Bar (The Cliff Builders – YUM). And Strawberry Cliff Blocks. Okay – so perhaps I didn’t do so well with the “workout” junk food. But no M&Ms or Peanut Butter Cups – so far. So a victory for me today. Then again, I’ve got about 2 hours left in the day. You never know…

U: Underwear! I am wearing none. And not just because I’ve got my pj’s on. No – a new bike + new bike position = new saddle sores. I still love my Adamo ISM Saddle – just the sores are about 1-2 cm off from where the old saddle sores were. I’m going to come out of this tougher than ever. Literally. But in the meantime, my body doesn’t like underwear of any kind. Commando or not? That’s the question of the day…

N: Nigiri! Back to the sushi, I know. But I managed to pack away 8 pieces. It was very good – crab, shrimp, tuna, octopus, eel, whitefish, and some others that I have no idea what they were. But they tasted good. Except for the one that had a mega amount of wasabi stuck to the rice. My eyes teared up, and for a moment I was seeing stars. Thank goodness for unlimited diet coke and water. Otherwise it would have been very ugly. I don’t think Nate, Ryan, or Melissa noticed. But Teegan caught my funny look and gave me a reassuring grin. Kids know it all and are so cute to boot!

E: Evil Kitty…? (Bwahahahaha!) That was from Nathaniel.

Bad Nathaniel!

There is NO evil kitty in this household. Only a Big House Monster and Little Meat Puppet. And just because the House Monster attacked Nathaniel and me on several different occasions during the past 24 hours, it doesn’t mean that she’s evil. Just confused. And angry. What would YOU do? When I got a little sister, well, I probably wasn’t the most pleasant trooper to be around. So I would expect no less of Tabbitha.

2: Number of workouts that I’ve got on the docket tomorrow. An early morning run and then a swim later on. Should be fun! Actually, most of the swim involves a combination of IM, drills, and some free. Should be interesting to see as well – especially the 200 IM. My butterfly is still getting “there”. Wherever that is. At least I can make it 25 yards without dying or heaving up a lung. Tomorrow I’ll go for 50, but no guarantees. I’ll get back to you on that one.

8: US Men’s Olympic Rowing 8+. My friend and former Minnesota Boat Club teammate, Micah Boyd, made the squad. He’s sitting in 4 seat, one of the “powerhouse seats’ in the boat. And I know that with every stroke he takes, he’ll be putting everything he can behind his oar. Micah and I were junior (rowers) together a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away, and did a lot of traveling during the summer of 2000 to various regattas across the US and Canada. He rowed at Wisconsin, and since graduation, has worked extremely hard to make this dream come true. I am so happy, so excited for him: no one deserves it more. He’s awesome, and I can’t wait to cheer him on as he goes for Gold in Beijing!

And THAT was my Saturday. June 28th in summary!

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Arrival

Well, as of today (5:35 CST) we went from a family of 3 to a family of 4. Tabbitha officially has a little sister.

And no – for the record – the transition was not an easy one.

It started at the vet clinic. Last week when I brought little Gimpy Kitty in, the vet techs and vet made it clear that they would not be able to adopt her themselves. Then they brought out the vet tech that owned 17 cats.

I am not kidding.

She didn’t seem like a cat person. Or a crazy cat lady… She didn’t have wool socks with sandals or shake kibble in her overstretched jacket pockets. But she still had 17 cats.

It was crystal clear that although these wonderful people loved animals and while they thought that Gimpy Kitty had a very sweet nature and disposition, they would not be adopting her. Which is one of the many reasons why Nathaniel and I (along with Tabbitha’s permission) decided to adopt Anabelle.

Well that, and the fact that I don’t think any one could or would love her or take as good care of her as I could.

So you can imagine my surprise when I showed up at the clinic, Tabbitha’s cat carrier in tow…. For the record – it’s a carrier meant for a mid-sized dog. Not kidding on that one either. When Tabbitha goes to the vet or moves across country, I like to make sure that she has plenty of room to stretch or to stand up. So I got her a mid-sized carrier.

Good enough reasons, don’t you think?

Well, the carrier is the perfect size for Anabelle, her litter box, a few towels, and a bowl of food and water. It is deluxe kitten style all the way.

And as one of the vet techs handed over Anabelle, all the others came to the lobby and asked if they could hold her “just one more time!”

Who was I to resist.

After 10 minutes of “good byes” (I kept telling them that we would be back next Wednesday for another round of x-rays and her 2 week checkup), more petting, lots of cuddling, and while observing these women making odd noises while holding a gimpy kitty, I gently told them that, “we have to get going…”

They waved – all 5 of them – while I was getting into the car. (Huh – and they said that they couldn’t adopt her…)

After an uneventful drive home, Anabelle and I entered the house. And that’s where the real fun began.

It went sorta like this:

Marit: “Where’s my little girl? Tabbitha! Come meet your new sister!”

Nathaniel: “Oh look – here comes the House Monster to meet the Meat Puppet! This should be interesting…”

Tabbitha: (ears back, tail twitching, heckles rising) “Growl….Hisss…..Growl!”

Anabelle: meow.

Tabbitha: “Hisssssssss…. Hiisssssssss…….growl….”

And then the House Monster charged the kennel. Luckily Anabelle chose that exact moment to loudly “meow”, so Tabbitha was a bit distracted. But she still managed to dance around a bit, growl some more, hiss, and attack both Nate and myself.

So all in all, the introductions went pretty well.

I’m expecting it to be rough for the next few weeks. Both for House Monster and Meat Puppet. They’re going through a lot of changes – and change itself can be tough. Tabbitha is used to being an Only Child and getting whatever she wants. Case in point: the cat is 18.2 pounds.

Enough said!

And Anabelle – well, not much is known about her. Except that she’s feisty, she’s got a very delicate nature, and a strong will to survive. And two gimpy front legs. But that’s okay, because we love her just as she is.

Just because I broke my back doesn’t mean that I’m all that different. And Nathaniel AND the House Monster continued to love me – broken back and all, mood swings and all, good days bad days and all – just as I was. And still am.

So Anabelle should expect the same.

Only in the mean time she’ll need to be prepared to endure some hissing, growling, and general ill temperedness from her Big Sister. Because for now, Tabbitha is not the happiest of campers. We even tried bribing, er, coaxing her with Cat Treats. She ate the treats, but was still in a bad mood.

Big surprise there. (uh - that was sarcasm...)

So big changes at our house as of late. Anabelle has come home, Tabbitha is not a happy big sister, and Nathaniel and I are trying to figure it all out. THIS is why we don’t have kids (just yet). We think that we’ve got it tough with two cats – but this is nothing compared to children.

Then again, at this rate, it’ll be a while before we actually produce human offspring. (Can I get any more technical name wise?). At this rate, we may as well have 17 cats. And then I really would be the crazy cat lady.

On second thought, nix that idea. I’ve already got extra kibble and I like to wear wool socks with sandals. Kibble and an additional 15 cats would not bode well for my sanity. Or marriage.

In the meantime, we’ll just have to wait and see how things settle down. Right now, Little Meat Puppet is asleep, Nathaniel is also asleep, and Tabbitha is looking out the window onto the deck. Looking for frogs and other things that move in the night, no doubt.

And me – well I’m holding my breath, waiting to see how it all pans out tomorrow. Fingers crossed, they’ll be best friends before we know it. Then again, I’ve learned that there are no guarantees. For now, let’s just give it time.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cute, defined!

Welcome to the world, Anabelle! Aka "Meat Puppet" as your Dad likes to call you. For now, I've been referring to you as "Gimpy Kitty". But Anabelle suits your sweet nature. PS - Don't listen too close to your Dad, as he wants to call you Neitszche.

Or however its spelled.

Because for the record, I don't want our female kitty named after an eccentric German Philosopher.

Got it?


And now, the pictures. Worth a thousand words, if you ask me.

Before you inquire, no - she's not up for adoption. She's ours! :)

At first glance.... Oooohhhhh!
Yes, that IS a shark triathlon shirt I'm wearing. From the Goldsboro (NC) YMCA Sprint. I didn't do the race - instead I cheered on a friend. But the race shirts, with their sharks and all, were too perfect. Little does Anabelle know, but she'll face her own Sister House Monster when she gets home...
Yes, Nathaniel does love her. Quite a bit. He is so happy to have a non-attack kitty!
All done!

There you have it!

And lest I forget the Original House Monster, here she is. Ready and waiting.

We'll bring Anabelle home on Thursday or Frida. Until then, Tabbitha will get the run of the house... a dangerous idea indeed!

Next time YOU go out riding, running, or doing anything, beware of what - or more importantly WHO you may find. You may just have another family member to love and enjoy. We do!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Round Two

Well, I did it. I have officially signed up for Ironman Coeur D’Alene 2009. I am registered, official, the money is in, and my confirmation email has been sent. And (knock on wood, fingers crossed, any anything else you may think will help), I’ll have the honor of toeing the line next year. Whatever the date is.

Because as of now, I’m really not sure.

With Ironman Arizona 2008, I spent nearly a year being unquestionably certain about what precisely I would be doing on April 13th, 2008 at 7:00 am (pacific time…?).

Treading water in nervous anticipation of my first Ironman… and then BOOM! The flurry of a 2000+ person mass start.

Alas, it did not come to pass.

So believe me, I thought long and hard about weather or not I wanted to attempt a second Ironman training. Repeat: weather or not I wanted to attempt a second Ironman training (because let’s face it: crashing 4 weeks before my race = I had completed nearly all the training, but was just not fortunate enough to start the race.)

Because I still dream about completing my first Ironman.


Because it is so much more than a race. Much more than a one-day event. More than Mike Reilley yelling, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”

Ironman is about setting goals, pushing beyond possible limits. It is a celebration of achievements: not just a single day, but endless days upon endless days upon weeks upon months of training. It is about making the impossible possible, facing the mental demons, the mental highs and yes – even the lows. It is about finding yourself, delving into your dreams and fears, becoming raw and exposed and stripped bare in the process. It is a journey, a process. And one day of racing is only one of many days spent working towards that point.

Then again: I wouldn’t know. As I haven’t crossed that finish line, haven’t even started my first Ironman race.

I just put in the training to do so.

And yes, there were those days and weeks where I thought I had done permanent injury to my “lady bits” (thanks ELF for that one!)…

And figuring out my nutrition was no easy task. Thanks to my fellow Camp HTFUers on THAT one. I would have been lost without Mary, Liz and Jen. (The worst part about the nutrition? Discovering that Margarita Salt Blocks gave me GI issues while running).

But you had better believe that I still consume them afterwards.

And yes, there were nights when the sheets and pjs were soaked with sweat. And I woke up, so ravenously hungry that I couldn’t help but eat a peanut butter sandwitch. I swear, I may have even sleep eaten on a few occasions… So that’s what happened to the Ben & Jerry’s…

My social life was on the fritz – but being the introvert that I am that wasn’t all that bad. I did miss seeing Nathaniel, though. But it made our special moments all the more special.

And I’m a pro at picking out breakfast foods, bars, and more breakfast food. No JH – Waffle House doesn’t count. But on several different occasions, oatmeal would be the first and last thing I ate in one day. Sometimes it would even serve as a midday snack.


But in the process of early mornings and even earlier nights, I found myself.

The sensation of biking – through the Blackwater Forest of Pensacola, Elfin Forest of San Diego (crying on the bike while the insanely fast group I was with took off down the road), and Blue Ridge Parkway of South Carolina – were rides that I’ll never forget. Without limits, without bounds, I grew, I thrived, and I knew that where I was, was the exact perfect spot for me.

Swimming was in and large the same. However, I had just joined a Master’s group. And had finally broken into the top lane. The guys in my lane were hardcore, could IM and fly with the best of ‘em. But when it came to anything over 500 free, I felt like a natural. And I grew with each session. It was exactly where I should have been and where I wanted to be. The perfect spot.

And running, running, running. Back to my roots, back to what I love. Running is my mental relaxation; where I go to think and to find myself. Canyon runs, trail runs, concrete runs, hilly runs, track runs, treadmill runs, and runs towards the port-o-potty – all played a big role in my training. Speed wasn’t essential, just the tranquility of running, listing to my breath, the sounds of my footsteps, my thoughts keeping me company – it was perfect.

I never had the priveledge of starting my Ironman race. But I loved who I became with the training.

Ironman – though I have not had the pleasure of competing in one – seems to be a culmination of everything good, bad, and in between. It is a celebration; a party of sorts.

And hopefully, fingers crossed and knock on wood, I’ll be celebrating with the best of ‘em sometime next June in Idaho. In the meantime, I’ll stick to shorter stuff. But I’ll still love the training and look at each workout, each session, and each race as a gift. Because that’s truly what it is.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Block

Lately, I’ve had a case of “The Block”.

Writer’s block. Mental block. Nesting block. Physical block. Weather block. Emotional block. Questions block. Athlete’s block.

And yes, even Kitty block.

Last weekend was spent worrying about Gimpy Kitty. Aka Anabelle. Aka Nietzsche (Nathaniel’s new nickname for Anabelle. He insists that what doesn’t “break” the kitty, will “make her stronger). Worrying and wondering. As in are we going to adopt her or not...?

While holding her for 20 minutes last Saturday morning, Nate did refer to her as “Meat Puppet” once or twice. Before tearing up and claiming that his allergies were “acting up.”

The boy didn’t have me fooled: he’s in love with Anabelle/Gimpy Kitty/Meat Puppet/Nietzsche. And he’s agreed to let me adopt her.

In his words, “Maybe the House Monster could learn a thing or two from this kitty…” And then he finished by declaring, “Wouldn’t it be great to have a normal cat? One that doesn’t attack us or our friends?”

For the record, Anabelle enjoyed the male attention and wiggled – along with her two casted legs – in his arms.

So yes, we ARE adopting Gimpty Kitty. Pictures are on the way tomorrow after my visit. I promise.

But this brings about another, more serious question. Am I ready to be a mother of two cats? And a gimpy one at that?? This kitty has some serious special needs – and while I DO want to take care of her, love her with all of my heart, and help give her the best life possible, I’m terrified of introducing her into the volatile environment.

Because we have, as you are all aware, a House Monster of our very own.

And Tabbitha doesn’t like anything with a heart beat (except me). She tolerates The Husband. And attacks everything else.

But the vet clinic has agreed to help us out in any way, and that included giving me lots of instructions on how to care for AND introduce two cats to each other.

So it appears that my Kitty Block has finally been solved.

Until Thursday, when Anabelle comes home for the first time. That should be interesting, to say the least.

As for the other “blocks”, it seems that I’ve entered a new phase in my recovery. I’m finding it increasingly daunting to return to the athlete that I once was. There are days where I feel (for lack of better words) “flashes of brilliance”.

Swimming feels natural (and is not interrupted by inclement weather), the bike and I are one, and my run reminds me of my old self.

Then there are other days where the frustration is great, where the doubt grows with each kick, pedal stroke, or stride, and I question my ability to compete at the level that I was once at. It is times like these that I want to hide under the covers, a good book by my side, a House Monster to keep me company, and a bag of Peanut M&Ms to munch on throughout the day.

Luckily, this has only happened once.

The Peanut M&M part.

But the hiding under the covers with book and House Monster – that has occurred on more than one occasion.

And while I don’t want to deny this part of my recovery – as this is very real to me – I also feel that a part of me is being slightly irrational. I know I should focus on the good, be grateful for the opportunity to run in the first pace. For Pete’s Sake – be grateful for the fact that I don’t need a catheter to void my bladder. Ahem.

And there is never a day that I don’t recall my scary spinal doctor telling me “you will probably need to use a back brace for the rest of your life…probably need to use a catheter indefinitely…”

That moment will forever be seared to my memory.

But at the same time, I look back at the past 14 weeks in amazement. I have come so far, overcoming such incredible challenges. And the feelings that I have now are only natural. It is as though I am mourning the athlete I once was.

But walking is a gift. Running is Christmas Morning at every step. Same holds true for swimming and biking.

But it is still challenging.

So my current “block” about doubt and insecurity is something that I carry with me when I swim, bike, and run. It is not a fun burden, but at least I recognize what it is and why I’m doing it.

I just need to get over my block and keep on keeping on. Cliché, I know. But as I’m stumbling forward throughout this process, I need to hold on to whatever works. Cliché or not.

So House Monster by my side, Nathaniel cooking a great dinner of Lentil Stew with carrots, tomatoes, onions and spinach (thanks RR!), and the promise of a new Meat Puppet to arrive on Thursday, I press on.

I know that not every day will be easy. But each day that passes is one more for the recovery part of my journey. And now, I’ve got another member of my immediate family to cheer me on.

Friday, June 20, 2008

I am in love with...

I am in love with...

-"Gimpy Kitty", aka "Meat Puppet" (Nate's nickname), aka "Popsicle Legs" (her legs are are casted, but popsicle sticks are the stints), aka "Calico Kitty". I call her Anabelle. And I am in love.

-My new Scott Plasma bike. She is finally ride ready - first one was today. I am forever changed! THANK YOU to Robert at Competition Sports in Gulfport, Mississippi. I had the best hour ride of my life on my new bike. And tomorrow I go for 4!

-Blueberries, Peanut Butter M&Ms, and ice water. Donna left all 3 waiting for me on my bike and towel after my duathlon workout today. It was hot. It was hot. It was (can you guess it?) hot. And the Peanut Butter M&Ms, Blueberries, and ice water never tasted so good.

-Diet Coke. We are out. Yesterday I didn't have a can, per se. Instead I had 2 giant cups with lunch. Thought I was doing so well without it at the house, eh? Not so much. Today it was the 3 gian cups with dinner. Yeah - at this rate, I had better go back to cans.

-Tabbitha, for only attacking me a little today when she smelled "Gimpy Kitty" aka "Meat Puppet" aka Anabelle on me. Tabbs has been handeling this like a pro.

-Nathaniel, for being willing to meet Little Kitty tomorrow. And for possibly, maybe, we'll just wait and see, thinking about, just perhaps bringing this kitty into our house.

-The bed. I am tired-

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wounded Kitten - please help!


If you read the last entry, you'll know that today I rescued a kitten during my bike ride. Long story short: the Vet says that she will be okay, and is doing really well. Considering that she has two front broken legs. The Vet doesn't think the kitten will have any long term damage, and she's expected to make a full recovery.

The very sad part?

The kitty wasn't hit by a car. Either it fell out of a tree or was deliberately thrown from a moving vehicle.

Today was tough for me - many more tears than I'm used to (during a bike ride). But my little kitten friend - who the vet actually thinks is between 8-10 weeks - had it much tougher.

Nathaniel and I would adopt her if we could. But we already have our own House Monster to contend with. And this little kitten has been through enough as it is.

IF THERE IS ANYONE LIVING IN THE AREA WHO WOULD LIKE TO RESCUE A KITTY, PLEASE LET ME KNOW! Nathaniel and I are paying for all the vet bills, and the clinic has been great about trying to keep costs down. We would like for the kitty to have a good home, but because of Tabbitha can't offer her one.

If you know of anyone - please let me know. This little kitty has had a tough first 8 weeks of life. Please help to make the rest of it better!

Thank you for reading.

Animal Tales

"Animal Tales": Notes from my ride today.

My house is heavy, but I am used to the weight. I carry it with me wherever I go; and though I move slowly, I always get to where I want to be in perfect time. Never too early and never too late. I just arrive when I want to arrive, settle down, and enjoy my life.

This morning, I decided to cross a road. The blacktop was warm from the sun, my little feet dancing across the surface. In the middle of the road was a beautiful orange and yellow line, like the color of my eyes. In the peaceful and tranquil woods, it was the perfect spot for me to sun myself.

When suddenly a girl riding a bike blew by me. I poked my head out of my shell, and watched as she circled around. She got off her bike, spoke some words to me about being careful when crossing the road, and picked me up. Momentarily, I felt myself airborne. It was pure exhilaration. I stretched my neck out as long as I could, and extended my arms. I got a peek at this girl, with her white helmet, sunglasses, and blue jersey.

Together we forayed past the road, into the woods, where she set me down on a new sunny spot covered in green grass with a muddy pond nearby. Although I miss the smooth pavement of the blacktop surface, this will do nicely. Me and my home are happy.

I am a turtle.

My best friend is white and much smaller than me. I am huge compared to her; my ears constantly itch, I have a tail, I don’t have feathers, and my beak ends in a long snout. I have never seen my best friend milked, but its something that I have done every morning. Together we enjoy spending time at the edge of a muddy pond. We keep each other company and I enjoy seeing her splash in the pond.

We are inseperable.

I am a BIG Crane. At least I think I am…

My best friend is black, has udders, and is a giant compared to me. I am small and delicate; I have feathers that must be tended to, my snout is yellow and long, and I don’t have a swishing tail. I have never seen my best friend fly, but I know she could do it if she really tried – even though I can’t see her wings. Together we enjoy spending time on the edge of a muddy pond. We keep each other company and I enjoy watching her tail swish at the pond’s edge.

We are inseperable.

I am a SMALL cow. At least I think I am…

Together, we watched a white-helmeted girl on a red bike go zooming by our pond this morning. As she flew past, she yelled, “Good Morning Cows! Good Morning Cranes!” She was going much faster than we would have preferred. So we went back to spending time together next to our muddy pond. We are best friends and are inseperable.

The Kids have gotten out again, but we chew and we chew and we chew some more, and then we watch them frolic in green fields and pastures. Our home is next to a busy trail, where we see all sorts of other creatures pass by. And still, we chew and we chew and we chew.

We live on a farm with lots of others like us. The farmer that takes care of us says that we make the best cheese. We don’t know what cheese is, or how it tastes. We get milked every morning, but as long as we have lots of clover and grass we can keep chewing. So we chew and we chew and we chew.

Our Kids are miniature versions of us. The buck and they play. And of course they chew. And chew and chew. Together we sit in the shade, under the Like Oak tree, watching as people pass on the trail. They do not chew. They do not know what they’re missing.

So we bleat and we baa-aaa, and we chew and chew and chew.

This morning, very early, we watched as two girls sped by us on bikes. They looked like they were in a hurry to go somewhere. We prefer a simple life. We keep each other company, we make great cheese, and we chew and chew and chew.

We are goats.

I am brown. But sometimes I am green. And I have a tail. But sometimes it is not there. It takes 3 months to grow back. I live in the forest in the bushes. But I move fast fast fast, going wherever I can with my little legs.

Did you know I change color? If the surface is brown, I turn brown. If it is green, I turn green. I am smart. I have adapted. And I can avoid capture. But sometimes I have to loose my tail in order to do so.

And that’s not really fun. It takes a while to grow a good looking tail. And I always like to look my best for when the ladies are close by.

My tongue tastes the air, and I decide it’s safe to cross the road.

WOA! I nearly got hit by some crazy girl on a bike. She wasn’t there and then suddenly she was. My camouflage must be working: I am smart. I have adapted. She couldn’t see me. So I run and run and run and run and run, my little legs carrying me to the other side.

I made it over in record time.

I look back, proud of my speed, and to my dismay, see that my tail is gone. No wonder why I ran so fast. Her bike clipped my tail. Silly biker. She doesn’t have a tail, so she doesn’t know that my tail is my pride and joy. Now it will take another 3 months to grow a new one. And the one I had was so good… There go “ladies nights” by the pond for a while.

I am a (now tail-less) lizard.

I don’t have a name, but I am fierce. I am about 12 weeks old, but I know I’m a big girl. I will survive. I will get through this. This is just one more hurdle for me to overcome. But I don’t really know how to use my front legs for the time being. They were working so great: I was pouncing on butterflies and bugs, learning from my brothers and sisters and Mother, and suddenly I find myself laying on the middle of the road.

The road is nice and warm, and my legs don’t feel so good. I think I’ll just stay here for a while and close my eyes. I am sleepy.

I hear a voice before I open my eyes. There is a girl with a white helmet and blue jersey. I think I have seen others like her, but this one is new. I am so sleepy and my paws still hurt. She picks me up, speaks soothingly in my ear. I try to tell her that I’m fierce, but she just strokes my head and I feel myself drifting off to sleep.

She cradles me in her arms, and I feel salty droplets on my fur. I look up and see that she is crying. I tell her I am brave and FIERCE and I show her my pink pads and claws. And my sharp teeth. They are pointy! But she looks so sad. She takes me to a soft mossy spot under a tree and lays my paws under my body. I can’t feel my front paws, but I am fierce. She tells me to stay put and that she’ll be back as fast as she can.

And then she gets back on her bike and rides away.

It takes a long time, and I wonder if my friend is ever going to return. I am fierce though, so I can get through this. I think I’ll take a nap. My front legs are beginning to hurt more and more. And for the first time, I am a little scared.

Soon, I wake up. I see a butterfly land near my tail and I flick it up and see the butterfly fly away. For now I decide to let him go; he’s safe from my fierceness. Just then, a grey car drives by. I am afraid for a moment, but this isn’t the car that hit me before.

Suddenly my friend gets out. She is not wearing the white helmet, but she has the same blue jersey and same comforting voice. She tries to pick me up, and this time I am ready. I show her how fierce I am and try to bound away. But my front paws don’t work, and I stumble forward. She eventually picks me up but I am a strong and fierce little one: and I manage to get away.

I wriggle under the grey car, passing a pile of dog poop, a few dandelions, and a nest of red ants. I don’t like red ants, and certainly don’t like dog doodoo. But dandelions are fun to play with. I see her looking at me from under the car, and I crawl up into the wheel. I feel safe, but my paws are really hurting.

Soon, I feel a tug at my rear leg. And then another tug. I can’t hang on any more, and I am being pulled out from under the car by the girl with the blue jersey. She has kneeled on the dog doodoo, and has red ants all over her other knee. I think that she’s going to wipe herself off with the big fluffy white towel. Instead, she puts ME in the towel and gently pulls the top over.

I try to wriggle away, but am unsuccessful. I don’t want to go anywhere; I am fierce and strong and brave. And at 12 weeks, I know a lot! But my paws hurt a lot.

The girl puts me in the car, but I can’t see anything because I am wrapped in warm towels. They feel soft, but I still meow because I am now scared. And my legs hurt a lot.

She talks to me and tells me that she’s going to take me to an Emergency Vet Clinic, that she has a House Monster named Tabbitha, and starts calling me Coal or Chloe. She doesn’t know that I’m a girl. So it should be Chloe! But I’m grey. And I’m fierce and brave and only 12 weeks old! But my paws hurt.

I feel her touch on the outside of my towel, and I snuggle in its depths. I am still scared, but she doesn’t seem to want to eat me. I am still scared of the car that hit me. At least I think that’s what happened, because I don’t really remember much. I just woke up in the middle of the road, my family was gone, my paws hurt, and this funny looking girl was carefully picking me up.

The car stops and she picks me up, towel and all. I stay quiet and still in the towels, even though I am brave and fierce and strong. She carries me into the Vet Clinic and tells the nurse about finding me in the middle of the road, alive but unable to move. But I try to tell them that I can move! I am fierce and strong! But my paws hurt.

She hands me to another very nice lady who smells of clean linen and rubber shoes. The lady takes me in a back room, examines my paws and gives me a shot of something that makes me very sleepy. My paws don’t hurt as much, and I like the dark room. I try to bare my fangs and show my claws; I want to world to know how fierce and brave I am. But I am finally comfortable. Even though I miss my brothers and sisters and mother, and miss the butterflies that I like to chase, I fall into a deep sleep.

As I am beginning to dream of field mice and beetles, I am told that I will get an x-ray.

I wonder where my blue jersey friend went. I miss her.

I am still sleepy, but I hear two nice ladies discussing my x-ray. They are looking at me, and looking at the film. I am still sleepy and my paws hurt. But they’re not as bad as they used to. I am wheeled to another room, where a very nice lady puts something called splints both my front legs. I show them my teeth and sharp claws: I am fierce and I am brave! I don’t want these things on my legs, but I am told that both of my humorous bones are broken.

I don’t know about that. I just want to run and to jump and to play. I hear the doctor who has put the splints on my legs tell another lady to call the blue jersey girl who brought me in. They want to decide what will happen to me. All I want to do is cuddle up with my brothers and sisters, romp through fields and play.

My paws still hurt, but they’re feeling better. I’m back in the dark room and so sleepy. I take a nap and finally get into a comfy position with my two new splints. I close my eyes and drift off to kitty slumber once again…

I know I am safe, and I know that I’ll be okay. I’m fierce and brave and strong all rolled into one. My legs may be broken, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t still charge on forward. Today was a hard day. But tomorrow I’ll get new splints on my legs and on Friday, I’ll get to see the girl in the blue jersey who rescued me. All I need is a warm bowl of cream and I’ll be puurrrr-fect.

I am a Kitten with 2 broken Legs (found on Indian Ford Road, about 1 mile off Munson Highway)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pool Hostage

Today the Pool Gods conspired against me. Well, me and anyone living in Pensacola, Florida who wanted to swim LCM at UWF this morning and left because the pool was set up SCY, and then who returned to swim in the afternoon only to be tossed ceremoniously out by lightning.

Laughing at me they were.

Up at that high perch in the clouds. Or is it in the water?

Regardless of where the Pool Gods live, today was just not my day swim wise.

I returned to the pool this afternoon, new workout in hand, determined to make myself as speedy and as stealthy as possible while not swimming a 10 X 100 test all out. (You have to admit – when someone swims long and fast, it makes you pause… I always get a kick out of watching someone with great for swim at top speed. Bob in Chicago – are you listening?)

Immediately, I noticed that every lane was taken.

I repeat: Every single lane was taken up. Sure, there were the usual summer kiddie campers a la ELF, the out-of-school kids (made me thing of RR and school “being out 4Ever!”), and then the old persons who want to get their laps in but refuse to swim LCM.

And every lane was taken.

Repeat: every single lane was taken!

Save one.

And it was the lane directly over the drop off from the 5 foot deep water to the 14 foot deep water.

For the record, I don’t mind swimming in 5 feet of water. And I certainly don’t mind the 14 foot depth either. But the slant?

No way jose!

Just as my eyes, ears, and most importantly head would get used to the slant tilting down towards my left, I would flip, slowly uncross my eyes, and try to become accustomed to the slant tilting down towards my right. And then I would flip. Repeat.

Flip. Repeat. Flip. Repeat.

And soon enough, shortly after the warm-up was completed and about half way through the pre-set of various 100s while stroking and freestyling, I felt my stomach flip flop. In all actuality, I had left my stomach back somewhere around 500 or 550 yards into the workout.

And with a sudden violence, it decided to return.

Fast as I could, I hopped out of the water and made it to the garbage can. Just in the nick of time. Classic.

Not exactly a glamorous performance, and surely not the impression that I was hoping to give to the kiddie campers – but I felt somewhat better.

Until I jumped back in and continued with the workout.

Nope, slant was NOT going to work.

I got out in record time, and managed to share a lane with a former Chinese National Team Synchronized Swimmer. She was very nice, very welcoming, and had the most beautiful stroke I have ever seen. She didn’t go fast, but it was very graceful. Pointed fingers and toes! And she held her breath all the time! Jen would have been impressed.

Sorry Bob – you’re still the fastest, but (and I hope you don’t mind my saying this) she looked beautiful under water.

I guess it’s the synchronized swimmer thing.

All she was missing was the cool cap with the flowers stuck to it.

Regardless, I was approximately 650 yards shy of completing my swim when KA-POW! Thunder boomed through the sky, causing the entire building to reverberate and shake. Truthfully, I had been hearing thunder for the past 20 minutes. At least.

And we all know how I feel about lightning. :)

But to my credit, I managed to remain calm and finish as much of my workout as possible. I would be damned if I was going to quit my workout before the guards (responsible for my life and the lives of my fellow swimmers) blasted their whistles and ordered us out of the water.

A few times, after hearing the shrill whistle tweets (aimed at running kiddie campers – will they ever learn?) or the voices of Camp Counselors yelling at their charges, I poked my head above the surface to ensure we weren’t about to get blown to smithereens by an errant lightning strike.

Sighting practice!

On one such occasion, I had just finished my final FAST 100 and was about to begin the 250 free associated with it. I chanced a peek, saw the bright bolt streak across the nearby sky, and was pulling myself out of the water before the guard had a chance to blow her whistle.

It was like the time Nathaniel got pulled over for speeding. Sailed right past the speed trap as I made eye contact with the startled cop. I don’t know who was more surprised. Him or us.

“You’re about to get a ticket,” I tersely commented as Nathaniel pulled over to the side of the road before the cop had even pulled out of his hiding spot or put on his flashers.

And for the record – in spite of my best efforts – my Other Half talked his way out of the ticket. He was given a warning. And the friendly police officer told ME to keep my husband under control.

My response?

“Officer, I tell him ALL THE TIME TO SLOW DOWN, and he never listens. He never listens to me. I tell him to GO SLOW, but he just goes faster…”

The cop gave us a funny look, tipped his hat and told us to have a safe drive home. He was probably not accustomed to a couple like us. The Husband pulls over even before the lights were flashing, and The Wife doesn’t come to the aid of her lead-footed hubby.

Classic Nate and Marit. He speeds and the only way I can rest easy when he’s behind the wheel is through prescription drugs. The most pleasant ride I had with him was before I had a cavity filled. In addition to sharks and lightning, I have a fear of dental tools. I took some anti-anxiety medication, and in spite of making it to the dentist’s in record time, I was all set.

Relaxed and ready to go.

After his near ticket, Nathaniel couldn’t stop grinning. Imagine the Cheshire Cat. And then picture Nathaniel. He looked more like the stupid cat than himself.

So out of the water I was, even before we were told to vacate.

And then it became a waiting game… do I wait around for 20 more minutes to finish 650 yards, or do I call it a day?

After 25 minutes and more lightning, I decided to call it quits.

The only problem?

My car was a full ¼ mile away parked in the designated lot.

I was now being held hostage by the UWF Pool.

Unable to swim due to storms and too afraid of running to the car because of said bolts of lightning, there I was, stuck on the deck, listening to Mr. Too Tight Blue Speedo discuss homeowner’s insurance and how his home was destroyed by a tornado.

“Don’t let me get started on lightning!” he exclaimed, obviously in his element.

Somehow, I managed to wriggle away and his attention was directed at the hapless guards. At least they were getting paid to listen to his doomsday threats about zillions of volts and what they do to the Human Body.

Not interested Buddy!

Eventually, I managed to sprint across the courtyard to the Basketball Courts and Coach’s Offices. I think it’s the Roadhouse, but am not really sure. After making my way through the building, nearly exited through the alarm-rigged door (CAUTION – Emergency Exit Only! Alarm WILL sound!), I finally found my way out.

Nearly two hours later from my pool plunge, I’m showered, warm, not-struck-by-lightning (knock on wood), and filled with a post-swim snack of oatmeal and a Diet Cherry Coke. It has “cherry” in it, so it counts as a fruit, right?

By that reasoning, I’m going for the Peanut M&Ms. Protein baby! And didn’t RR have something to say on that subject? We’ll see.

Until then – make sure you don’t get held hostage by your pool. Today was interesting to say the least. Thankfully tomorrow I’m swim-free.

Swim Irony

Marit's definition of Irony for Tuesday June 17...

Irony is:

Getting FIRED UP for your 10 X 100 Long Course Meter Swim Test by going to bed early, skipping the chapter in the book you've been dying to read, writing motivational notes along the lines of "I LOVE swimming" and "the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit...", watching YouTube videos of Kona 2007 and Bevan Docherty's "Heart of a Champion" at 5:45 am for your 6:30 am expected swim start, becoming mentally prepared to mow down, er swim over, er avoid the "blue hairs" in your swim lane, and actually looking forward to said LCM test because this is the first test since the crash - only to show up and find the pool set up for Short Course Yards.

Bloody Hell.

I don't know who is more dissapointed - me or Coach Jen. And as she's the swimmer of the two of us, that's saying a lot.

All I know is that I've got some unfinished buisness with the pool this week. To be continued... (for now, the old people and Japanese tourists are safe...)

Just goes to show that I'm ready and I want this test. And that - for now - is a good sign. But I had to smile - in spite of my jitters, in spite of the nerves and nervous energy, I was (timidly) excited and (more firm) looking forward to this test. So when it didn't happen, when the pool was laid out with 20 lanes of 25 yards each, I couldn't hide my dissapointment.

I even suggested to the 18 year old guard that we take out the SCY lane lines and put in the LCM lane lines. He looked at me as though I was crazy. And then backed away. The other swimmers - who had gathered around to find out why the pool was set up the way it was (as it turns out, the GPAC Youth squad didn't have practice, ergo they didn't set up LCM...) - heard my suggestion and looked at me as though I was crazy.

There I was, messy hair up in a ponytail, my early morning self in all of my er splendor, suggesting that we set up the pool LCM. Perhaps I was high on toothpaste.


I was laughed out of the building.

And my swim test, all 10 X 100 on the :10 rest interval (nice ring to it, don't you think?) is on hold. For now.

But you had better believe that one of these mornings, I'll be swimming my heart out completing my test. If you want a good show - swimmer derby and all - show up one of these mornings at the UWF Aquatic Center. Even better - hop in the water with me. It'll be fun, I swear.

Get FIRED UP baby - my test is unfinished!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Run Bike Treat Test!

An interesting day, it was today. Don’t even know really where to begin, so I figure the start is best.

Woke up bright and early to a run from the house to UWF campus (where I stopped to avail myself of the facilities at the Natatorium – for some reason, I just hate going in the woods. Especially with creepy crawlies, deer flies, and the random Boy Scout romping around the next turn. That was embarrassing, to say the least. But I digress). and back again.

I survived, to say the least.

It never ceases to amaze me how one day I can feel just great – like everything is wonderful, that my body was never broken in California, like I’m floating two feet above the grass during my run – and then the next it’s a complete opposite. The legs were heavy, the fuel belt made me feel (small whisper) large and all jiggley in my torso, and I could feel my form drooping.

Picture Santa in running gear, and you get my drift.

The will was there, but was slowly fading with each plodding step. How do you wrap your brain around returning from a debilitating accident? I know the athlete that I once was, and I know how I am now… And I’m very different.

But still the same....


Me too. Rest assured, that too is normal. Or so I've been told...

Sure, I look the same. Well, me + the extra peanut butter and peanut m&ms (about 5 lb gained since the crash), but I feel different. Running at a sub x:xx pace was once “the norm”, and I took my speed, efficiency, and everything that I had worked so hard to achieve for granted.

Today I ran not one, but two minutes slower than what I used to.

If that’s not humbling, then I don’t know what is.

But as I plodded along, I kept reminding myself, with each and every last ounce of courage that I had left: that this run was a gift. My ability to run at z:zz pace was a wonder in and of itself. And I should be grateful.

But it is and was still hard.

I have an entirely new respect for the likes of Lance Armstrong or Hillary Biscay – two athletes that overcame extreme odds to reach the pinnacle of their respective sports.

I know the road ahead will be long. I only hope that I have the courage to see it through.

But “onwards and upwards” as Coach Jen likes to say. And as I huffed through the door, happy to be done with my run, I couldn’t agree more. It was one more run that I had accomplished, one more workout that I was lucky enough to complete.

I’m still chewing on this question, this issue though. Of what it’s like to know what I once did, and wonder if I’ll ever get there again. Deep down I know in my heart of hearts that I want to (be the athlete that I used to be only BETTER!). And I know that I’ll be a struggle: one of the more challenging, no - opportunites - of my life. (Incorrect wordage, I know).

Because in the past when I’ve taken a break from sport – be it rowing or running or any other physical activity (and no, mini-golf does not count) – it has always been my decision to do so. School, violin, other commitments got in the way.

This is different.

There was an accident – something that no one wanted.

And now I have a choice about what I want to do: to press onwards and upwards, or give in.

I won’t pretend that some days are easier than others. I’ve been known to hide under the bed sheets with a piece of sheet cake reading a good book, ignoring the pain and fear in my heart. (It came in very handy last weekend during one of our many thunderstorms. Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting with litte sprinkes on the top - in case you were wondering!) After all, a small piece of me remains broken and embedded on that beautiful stretch of Pacific Coast Highway.

But I don’t want to, nay I refuse to let my life be dictated by an accident. So while the sheet cake and good read are helpful for a moment, they didn’t and don't and won't ever define ME.

I do that on my own, thank you very much. (Still marching to the beat of my own drum. Probably a little off center and a little croocked - but that's okay. That's just me!)

And that – if you can imagine – is largely what went around my head while running today.

One of the physical therapists at PT even commented, “I saw you running down University today…”

“Was I running towards campus or away?” I asked, dreading his response.

Ken looked thoughtful for a moment, scratched his goatee and replied, “Running towards 9 Mile, I believe.”

End of comments.

Nothing like “you looked great!” or “wow – you were really going fast!” or even “how fast were you going?”

I looked back, while balancing with both knees on the Swedish Ball, and commented, “Hopefully you saw me in the beginning. It wasn’t a pretty sight towards the end!”

Ken – to his credit – kept his mouth shut.

And then I balanced for 5 more minutes a la Sparky the Seal on said Swedish Ball.

The second interesting (or semi-interesting…remember this is ME we’re talking about) was the mini-drama at the bike shop.

Now that I’m well on my road to recovery, have my new Zipp Vuka Aero bars (all once piece! Hooray! By far the biggest “splurge” that I’ve ever spent on a non race-wheel or tri-bike get up), have my bright pink ISM Adamo Seat – it is TIME to get me on the beauty (my SCOTT! Hooray!)

(Imagine ME jumping up and down – not only because I can, but because I’m so excited. Good. Keep the picture in your head, because it’ll help).

In all actuality, I think that Nathaniel is afraid that I’ll keep buying really expensive gear. You see, I’ve developed the habit of browsing triathlon-related sights whenever I have a sad moment or frustrating day or happy moment or phenomenal workout. It doesn’t really matter: I just like looking at the nice stuff.

And now that I’ve got the bike of my dreams, it only figures that I would want to deck her out in the best stuff possible, right?

To quote Nathaniel, “You spent HOW much on aero bars?”

And then he began quoting Father of the Bride, “A cake, Fraank, is made of flour and water. My first car didn’t cost that much…”

I just smiled and said that the money came from my “tri” fund – and because I wasn’t flying to some big-name races, I had adjusted my equipment budget accordingly. (And on Wednesday, I’m getting a great box of gear from Trisports… :)

In the meantime, I need to be fitted to my new bike. And while I LOVE my bike guy in Pensacola, the folks out in this “neck of the woods” deal more with road bikes and roadie set-ups. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

It just didn’t cross my mind that all he (wonderful bike owner and mechanic who I think the world of, but who can also be a little, er (whispered) intimidating at times…especially when it comes to aerodynamic fits…) would take the measurements from my old bike and apply them to the new one. And then base my fit on just that.

You can imagine my surprise when he said he would do just that.

“But I was thinking of possibly, maybe, that I might like it if I could be a little more, er, aerodynamic,” I confessed last week in his shop.

He looked at me and replied, “I don’t know who’s been whispering in your ears, but you know that Comfort is Key.”

End of discussion.

Not willing to see my point of view, or hear me out. He just stated his case and then expected me to agree.

So I did what any person afraid of confrontation and who is working on her assertiveness would do.

I gulped and agreed, secretly wondering if I would ever have the strength to stand up for myself. (Uh… what about Time Trial = comfort? Ideally YES, we need to be comfortable and have a good fit. But that doesn’t mean we need to look like our grandmothers riding to the Sunday market. I am whispering, can you tell? Some people LIKE riding upright to the Sunday market. Me – well, not so much. If we were talking about racing to the Sunday market, then that’s something else. But what my friend had in mind was VERY different from what I was envisioning.)

I was just too afraid to say so.

After watching Donna’s incredible fit in Mississippi last Thursday, I knew what I had to do. It terrified me, it made me shake and shiver – and as I’m not a big fan of confrontations and am working on (note the working on part… I haven’t got it down just yet) being MORE assertive, this was a big step.

So Nathaniel offered to accompany me for support. We had a plan, we would walk into the store, chat with our friend, eventually get my bike, and mosey on out.

Donna and Joanna may have stopped by as well – more support. But Donna needed to bring her Purple Monster Bike a la “Barney” (so aptly named for the bright purple handlebar tape) in to get a cable repaired. It was "serendipitous" that they showed up when they did. After I called them to let them know I was on the way – naturally.

In the end, everything did work out. I got my bike back, no cuts or adjustments were made, but I’m afraid that my number-one-Pensacola-bike-person isn’t all that happy with me. And that makes me really sad. I know that he was looking forward to helping me with my fit: he’s done so much for me already.

But this is a new bike, and I’m a new rider. I’m a different athlete: and after what I saw in Mississippi, I am forever changed about bike fit.

The discussion WAS scary for me, as his demeanor changed pretty quickly. I was very happy to have Nathaniel, and then Joanna and Donna there for support. But I keep going over the conversation, wondering if there was anything that I could have said or done differently. It is very hard for me to disagree with my bike mechanic and biker friends.

Mostly because (in the past) I’ve known little if anything about bikes. I’ve always lived in small towns – Havelock and now Pensacola – where finding a really great bike mechanic can be difficult at best. And now that I’ve got one that I consider a friend, I hope that he understands, and doesn’t take things the wrong way.

Because in the end, it is only a bike fit, after all.

So a lesson to all the kiddies out there: Love your bike mechanic and bike store owner. Make sure that they have YOUR best interest at heart and that you aren’t afraid of talking to them. Be grateful for what they do for you and for your bike. But don’t be afraid to assert your needs in the end.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a handsome Marine and two really great friends help you out.

And now that I’ve been very random, I might as well just finish it off.

It appears that Tabbitha has gained 1.6 pounds. Nathaniel was looking at her earlier and commented, “You know, I think the House Monster has put on weight.”

Then he weighed her.

And got attacked in the process.

(Dude – if someone tried to weigh ME, I would probably attack them in the process as well.)

So now we’re up to 19.8 pounds of cat.

I swear, I’ll stop giving her treats.

And extra kibble.

Because you KNOW how mournful her little “meow” is when she’s hungry. And her cute little eyes look up at me… and her tail wags expectantly. How can I deny that?

I’m convinced that Tabbitha has put on sympathy weight for me.

And the real topper?

It seems that tomorrow morning, after most of you have read this if 1) you even read my blog and 2) you’ve made it THIS far (props to you, by the way), I will have completed my first swim test in a LONG LONG LONG time. So long that I don’t remember that previous swim test that I did.

My coach has a sick sense of humor.

When I asked her for advice she replied, “Go HARD until you smell blood.” And then something about, “The gorilla will jump on your back at #7…”

I already contacted the UWF Aquatics Director to see if I could complete my test at 6:00 am, 30 minutes BEFORE the 2.25 lanes that all 11 of us share opens at 6:30. The youth team – the 10-year-olds that butterfly past you when you’re swimming your butt off as though they don’t have a care in the world – start swimming at exactly 0600. And I was hoping to nab a spot in a free lane (minus my 11 other “friends”).

But I was shot down. Ka-pow!

I guess that it’ll be Swimmer Derby a la Swim Test.

So if you hear about any casualties at the UWF Aquatics Center in Pensacola, Florida – rest assured that I’m doing my job and going for blood in the water. I’ll apologize in advance to all the lane “mates” that I run, er SWIM over.

But tomorrow morning, all bets are off. I’ll be going “for blood”, seeking out the gorilla and waiting for Dumbledore to appear in the stands. And when they do, I’ll smile and figure that this is only “natural” and part of my recovery process.

You never know, though. After my test – no matter the time – I may come home and fire up the computer for overly-priced hydration systems. And Tabbitha might get an extra cat treat to boot.

You just never know. And quite frankly, that’s how life is.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The 4th "F"

I've spent most of this past weekend wondering how exactly I've become so fearful of lightning. Yesterday wasn't exactly a close call (per say) with the freak lightning storm that popped up literally out of nowhere.

But to the Me that was time-trialing it back to the car as though hell's hounds were chasing my draft would beg to differ.

I had a horrible, near death experience with lightning when I lived in North Carolina. Actually, we were just about to move to Florida. Literally. Nathaniel and I were packed up, our house was vacant, Tabbitha was in her kitty carrier (which she hates, so I let her run loose in the car - 12 hours... what would you do?), and all that was left was to spend our final night in the Cherry Point base hotel.

Then, as I was biking the 1.25 miles from our old house to the hotel, a sudden lightning storm hit. It was the storm of the century, or so it seemed. For the previous week, the air temperature hadn't dipped below 90 degrees F. And you could just taste the elctricity in the air.

And when the storm happened to break, I was riding my bike, approximately .5 miles from my intended destination of the base hotel. In my own desperation, I tried to enter a locked building as lightning rained down. Each and every door I tried was locked.

I remember lookin up, seeing lightning flash across the sky, having the thunder mask my own cries of help and desperation. I could feel the static electricity, and as I got back on my bike, lightning hit a nearby tree, knocking my bike computer off my bike and singing all the hair off my arm.

Right arm, in case you're wondering.

From the locked building, it was approximately 1/4 mile to the next building (accross an open field), and the hotel was 1/4 mile beyond that.

I remember putting my head down, and getting on my bike. And for those dreadful 2 minutes - 120 of the longest seconds of my life - I though for sure I was about to die.

I remember thinking that, "I hope it dosen't hurt.... I hope that it's not painful..."

And then I kept riding.

Somehow I made it to the apartment building halfway between Wison Drive and the base hotel. Then I peed on myself and threw up. In that order.

Fast forward to yesterday.

As I was time trialing along, all I could think about was the NC storm, the feelings of dread - that at any second I was going to be hit by a zillion volts and killed - leaving this world and everything that I hold dear behind.

Suffice to say, I was a combination of shakey and grateful when I made it back to my car. Not two seconds later, the heavens herself opened up, and I got drenched tossing the bike, helmet, and shoes into the car.

And then my phone started rining.

First Nathaniel called to warn me of the pop-up storms that were, "suddenly forming!" In his words the sattelite was clear one minute, and then the next loop, there were these HUGE red splotches!

And then Donna, who I had just ridden with two hours earlier, called to make sure I was okay...

And then Ludi, while riding on the trainer....

After I made it home, I couldn't stop thining about the storm. About my fear of lightning.

It's not like it is with sharks. Sure, I joke about sharks, and yes, I am fearful of Bruce and his counterparters. But I've done my best to learn about them, to study them, to discover what they're like in their natural environment. I know that my chances of getting eaten, let alone bitten, let along nibbled on, are slim-to-none.

But lightning is different.

In Florida - as was the case yesterda - these storms can pop up at any minute.

In fact, I watched the aftormentioned storm blow up as I was riding back to the car. And unfortunately, storms don't follow the exact path of the Blackwater Trail or Munson Highway. No - they blow upwards and outwards. And then they get darker and fiercer.

But I kept looking for the tell tale sign of the anvil, but saw none.

And before my hour turnaround point was complete, I decided to head back just in case.

And I'm so happy that I did.

In retrospect, I don't know if there was anything different that I could have done. I checked the weather ahead of time, I watched the clouds, I was careful, and I went back for the car according to what I observed.

And still, I was almost caught out in the elements.

I guess that it just goes to show that you can't control everyhing: some days the weather will cooperate and others it simply wont'.

After I got back, I was on the verge of tears. Thunder and lightning are not fun: it was either a shot (or three) or hard liquor, or a zanax. I opted for the latter.

Today was spent puzzling over my fear of lightning. I was told that I have symptoms of post-traumatic-stress (disorder), but I'm not exactly sure what the next step is.

With sharks at least, I can go to aquariums, wade into the ocean, and on occasion, pet the babies (which I've done both in the wild and at the aquarium). Lightning is different. I'm not planning on pulling a Ben Franklin and flying a kite with a key in a storm. Heck, I would rather not stand in a puddle weilding an umbrella while lightning crackeld around.

I guess we all have our fears. I'm still dealing with mine, trying to find different solutions of how to deal with it. I know the shot of tequilla or zanax won't always be the best option, but I'm still in the process of figuring out what exactly is.

And maybe this will be something that I carry with me for the rest of my life. To this day, I don't like to swim too far out away from shore alone. And I still think that there are monsters under the bed (so when I turn out the lights, I run and make a flying leap over Nathaniel... always fun!)

For now, I'll just go for one fear at a time. Now, I can happily say that I'm able to turn off the lights and NOT run and jump into the bed (well, most of the time). In addition, I (voluntarily) run head long into the ocean with sharks, er, other tirathletes. So I'm slowly getting there.

And one of these days, I'll be able to (perhaps) bike at my cool-down speed while thunder is booming over head.

But just not yet.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fit, Fly, Flat, Fear, Food

The past 40 (Forty!) hours or so have been more than hectic. Between PT sessions, thunder disturbing bike sessions, indoor trainer rides, track runs, more PT, trips to not one but TWO other states, and more thunderstorms, I'm downright tuckered out. Suffice to say, you know I'm busy when I haven't updated my blog in more than 24 hours. Not that I feel that I have to write - it's just something that I love doing.

Like breathing.

Or eating sheet cake....

Or sipping early morning coffee while reading the paper....

In bed with the Other Half and The House Monster....

But I digress.

So the 5 F's. Here we go:

FIT: Yesterday, Donna and I drove 2+ hours past Biloxi, Mississippi (yes, I DO know how to spell, as I grew up in the TWIN CITIES... the good old Mississippi runs right through the two....) into Gulfport, MS - to pick up her NEW AWESOME SPECIALIZED TT Bike. And to get fit. Her, not me.

The bike is beautiful! The exact kind that Macca and Tom Boonen (heartthrob of Quickstep cycling team) - except one notch lower. They have awesome machines. And Donna's New Specialized (The Transition, I think, but I'm not sure, so don't quote me on that!) is beautiful. And it was great to see her get fit.

I was so impressed with the fitter, that I'm taking my SCOTT Plasma next Thursday for a fit of my own. And it would give us another chance to pronounce the Tichatacabouffa River as we drive over it. (I think that's how its spelled....)

Now say that 3X fast.

FLY: Donna and I headed out at 5:45 this morning for our first ride together on her new bike. It brought back memories of my very first time on my Cervelo... I nearly peed my pants the first time I tried to get in aero, and I think Donna felt the same today. When I told her to, "ride ahead so I can see you hold aero!" her response was:

"No! I don't want to crash and then make you crash again!"

I laughed and rode ahead, all the while sneaking peeks over my shoulder as she eventually worked up the gumption to ride in aero. Riding along the Blackwater Trail has never been so fun.

After 2 hours, I dropped Donna off at her car and ventured out on my own for another hour or two (but according to JHs explicit instructions, no more than 4 hours!).

FLAT: It was 28 minutes later, that I came across one of my morning swim companions. This particular gent is a spry 87 years young, and on this particular morning, was out getting his weekly 25 miler in. I was so impressed! Unfortunately I came upon him just as he flatted his rear tire.

After a few minutes of chatting, I had fixed his flat, taught him how to use the CO2 cartrige (It's cold!), why plastic tire levers are better than metal (the metal rips the tire tube - something that he's had a problem with in the past) and was just about to get on my way, when he decided that he wanted to keep talking away.

I quickly replied that I would see him "later" and needed to finish my workout. He looked so happy, and said that he would be sure to "share my lane at the pool Monday morning."

Great. I called over my shoulder that, "I'm sorry if I run you over in the pool, but I kind of loose my way when I swim!"

FEAR: After leaving Mr. Flat Tire, I rode on for another 30 minutes or so, for a whopping total of 2:50 or so. It was then that I began noticing the clouds. They were beginning to billow up, growing in intensity, size, and gradually turning darker and more foreboding.

I figured that I would have at least another 60 minutes until it turned into a "whopper" of a storm.

That would have been nice.

But I was wrong.

So, a la Beth Sutt, I time trialed it for the final 4 miles back to my car. Thunder booming overhead, and a horizon of thick blue and black clouds interrupted with lighning flashes remained in my perpheral vision.

It was not the best way to end the ride, but it's always great knowing that you CAN ride fast when needed. And because overhead, it sounded as though the angels were bowling, I reconcilled that I would not be able to get in my T run.

And that leads to the final "F".

FOOD: I just ate the first real food of the day. Oatmeal and egges and coffee with creamer. And it is delicious.

Things have finally settled down, althoug the thunder is still booming. I know that eventually I'll get in my T run - but it'll have to wait.

It's time for some MARIT time. And I can't wait to curl up with Nate and the House Monster, grab a second cup of coffee and read in bed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marit's Guide to Swimmer Derby!

Swimmer Derby: Marit’s guide to surviving a crowded swim lane!

Long Course Meter swimming can be a fun challenge! For most athletes, 50 meters may seem daunting at best. But throw in limited lanes and 8 uncoordinated swimmers per lane, and you’ve got a recipe for swimming disaster! The following is a step-by-step approach to crowded Long Course Meter swimming success! Good luck, swim hard, and have fun!

10 Steps to Swimmer Derby Success!

1) Arrive early and stake out your lane. As space is limited – in my case, 2.25 lanes per 14 people (at times less, but mostly more!) – it is important to claim your turf. Best if the lifeguard is on your side and sympathetic to your plight. He or she may be able to assign “fast” or “slow” lanes. But the Japanese family of 5 that speaks no English and has no idea about swimming etiquette may put a damper on your swim plans. No worries! As long as you have your spot established five minutes before the pool “officially” opens, you will be set for success. 10 minutes will surely guarantee success!

2) Once the goggles are on, it is swim time! You mean business. And by chatting to Mr. Speedo or Ms. Noodle Breast-Stroker, you are showing everyone in your vicinity that you are not serious. Not the example that you want to set when you have serious swim sets to accomplish, or a coach who checks your swim set times. Start swimming at the first opportunity!

3) Begin your sets. Spend as little time on the wall as possible. Time on the wall = time to chat with your casual neighbor. And when you have 7 other people in your lane who don’t know what they’re doing, and don’t understand the concept of circle swimming this can cause a problem. If possible, swim with like-minded athletes. If not, stick to your schedule and your rest intervals. You will be thankful come swim test time!

4) When your coach instructs you to “swim like at the start of a half IM, go out HARD for the first 500 and then hang on until the 1,000” it is great practice to do exactly that. Mr. Red Shorts getting in your way? Mow him over. The Japanese family hanging out at the end of the lane and don’t move in time for your flip turn? Make sure you hit the turn and wall with a little extra gusto and make a big splash. Miss I-swim-with-a-string-bikini-and-zig-zag-when-I-back-stroke in heading straight towards you? Put your head down, kick extra hard, and prepare for impact. She’ll get the idea. If not on the first hit, then at least the second. (Who wears a string bikini lap swimming anyway?)

5) When the lifeguard gives you the thumbs up during your designated rest interval, rest assured that they are having as much fun watching you swim as you are swimming. Continue to practice as though you are open water swimming around slower swimmers.

6) Accept the fact that you will run into other swimmers. Especially as many have no concept of circle swimming or slow vs fast lane assignment. That’s okay: look at this as an opportunity to practice for mass race starts and swimming with other people. Prepare for impact: make yourself as firm as possible, muscles flexed, legs kicking hard, and fingers grasping wide (but make sure you keep your strokes long and swim relaxed!). If your lane mates don’t understand that YOU (at least) are serious about your swim, one or two crashes will make them realize this fact. And then they’ll be the ones getting out of your way.

7) When stopping for water or during your rest interval, make sure to 1) smile and 2) that everyone knows that you can’t help but run into them. Explain your predicament between breaths “My coach is making me swim fast” or “I’m training for a triathlon!” and people may give you a wide berth.

8) If step #7 doesn’t work, a well timed comment about peeing in the pool will do the trick. No one wants to share a lane with a self-professed pool peer. We all do it, so accept the fact. The key is to work it to your advantage. The Japanese family may not understand “circle swimming” or “lane etiquette”, but they will get out of your lane if they see suspiciously colored water near your person.

9) Hold your ground. Swimmers – especially those of the not-so-serious-swimming-kind – will try to creep into your territory. A well placed flip turn with extra splash, an aggressive pull with your arms, or my personal faborite, the kick-as-though-you-have-someone-creeping-up-behind-you should do the trick. If your lane “buddies” haven’t learned their lesson by now, an extra kick or splash won’t hurt them any more. Bonus points if you can aim your splash during your flip turns.

10) You know you’ve had a successful session if the lifeguard comes up to you afterwards and asks for pointers. Kindly refer him or her to this list.

For the most part, swimmers are of the agreeable, lane sharing, circle swimming, proper placement in slow lane versus fast lane sort. But for those who just don’t quite get the message, or for times where swimming space is limited and most “swimnmers” are of the non-English speaking, breast-stroking-all-the-way, noodle-pulling, and aerobics-in-the-shallow-end sort, this list will help.

Make sure that after your monster swim session, you take time to joke around with your lane mates. Show them that you ARE human; but your coach wants you to swim at a specific pace on a specific time on a specific rest interval. Apologize for swimming over anyone. It may help if you claim that you “forgot” your contacts or your goggles are "foggy", and that you didn’t see Mr. Neon-Yellow-Shorts in your way.

And remember that you are swimming for FUN. But it doesn’t hurt YOU to work your hardest or go fast in the process. Soon enough – after the first few days of limited lanes during Long Course Meter swimming – your fellow morning swim friends will understand your antics. And they’ll avoid your lane all together.

So you won’t have the same opportunity to practice race simulations as you did at the beginning of the season. Then again, the non-English speaking family or pool newbie will provide the perfect victim, er practice partner.

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Thunder on the Horizon

Today I raced thunderstorms. And learned a bit about myself in the process.


There were a few spotted ones to the North, and a massive one to my South. Directly East from the Blackwater trailhead were clear blue skies: so that’s exactly where I headed (with a wary eye towards my South and North).

My ride was a grand total of 3:15 followed by a 35 minute transition run. Yea! I GET to run, I GET to ride! And I couldn’t have been happier.

Not even when I heard the high temperature was supposed to range in the mid-90s. (My Northern counterparts are having it much worse, it seems).

Not even when Jen emailed me that I should “start early as to avoid the heat…” (I’ve had more than my share of afternoon trainer rides, as my heat acclimation isn’t all that great. Anything more than 3 hours on the trainer, and its New DVD time. I swear, our collection is out of hand).

Not even when I checked the weather at 5:15 am (yes, 0515 – o’dark thirty! Or whatever it is) and saw dotted thunderstorms splotched across the Panhandle. (They’re localized! And I’ve already had my bad lightning experience! So as long as I play it safe, I should be okay…)

And believe me, nothing, absolutely nothing says “good morning” when you’re sucking down your second gel of the day at 7:30 am (yes, 0730 – o’not-so-dark-anymore-but-still-way-too-early-for-two-gels thirty!).

But I rode on, oblivious to the heat, chomping on my ride nutrition, and keeping a wary eye directed to my South.

And as I rode, I noticed a very subtle transformation. At first it was hard to get going; it was early and I could feel the accumulation of fatigue. The 5 (yes, count ‘em, f-i-v-e bottles of water and carbopro combined) weighed heavily on me and my bike, and I could hear the sloshing every time I stopped and then started up again.

And again, and again, and again.

But after the first half an hour or so, just as I was turning off Munson Highway onto Indian Ford Road, and right as I was beginning to start my bike pieces, I felt a shift to my old pre-crash self. No longer was I concerned about the storms, the heat, the 5 bottles (I didn’t want to stop once I started…) or the unpalatable gels. I wanted to hit my zones, wanted to nail my pieces. I felt my body respond and the bike hummm along under me, the whirrr of the wheels and my own breathing making the sounds of an athletic symphony.

At 2:00 and somewhere in the middle of the Blackwater Forest, I made the turn and planned on looping back to Munson highway and the trailhead. And that’s exactly when I came face-to-face with the ginormous Southern Thunderhead.

In amazement and over the course of 10 minutes, I watched as the uppermost parts of the puffy clouds billowed up well past 30,000 feet and hit the strong wind shears. And that’s when I saw the tell tale anvil formation. The wind sheared the top part of the clouds and formed a long trail: a sure sign of forming thunder storms below.

But I also realized that because the storm was still 20-30 miles away (by my guess-timation), that it would take a bit of time to actually reach me. Perhaps an hour or more: perfect for finishing my ride, but not enough time to get in my run.

But if I was really lucky, I could still run…

Or would it be better to drive 25 minutes home and run on the treadmill??

Or instead should I drive to Whiting Field NAS, about 9 miles to my NE and run on their treadmills???

But what if it was okay to run, but it was a zillion degrees outside? Then the thunder wouldn’t matter one single bit. If I melted on the pavement, I wouldn’t be able to run anyway. So perhaps an indoor treadmill set-up was the way to go…

Whiting or home???

How much time did I have?

Was the storm heading my way? Yikes!

And that’s when it hit me: why was I worrying about something I had absolutely no control over? It was affecting my performance, my ride, my mental state – and it wasn’t a given that the storm would even blow my way. Certainly there was a chance. But there was also a chance that everything would be okay.

The conclusion that I came to, was that there were things within my control, and things out of my control. Obviously, I couldn’t control things out of, well – my control. Like the storm. Or the heat.

But, as it was sunny, hot, and my 3/5 empty bottles were no longer weighing my down; I could still enjoy the rest of my ride. And to make matters better, I could hear birds chirping away as I whizzed by. And if it was about to thunder, I can’t imagine the birds would be singing so…

Steadily, I rode past fields, small farm houses within the forest, down valleys to offshoots of the Blackwater Creek, and then finally I crested one of the ridges above the Blackwater Forest. From that point, I could clearly see the storm and all her fury. I could see distant lightning flashing against the backdrop of purple, pink, and dark blue clouds. And though I could hear no thunder, could see no rain, I knew the storm could turn quickly and head my way.

So I took a mental snapshot of the busy horizon and made my way back to Munson highway and eventually to the Blackwater Trailhead. All along controlling the things I could control (holy too-many-gels-early-in-the-morning Batman!) and relinquishing control of the things I couldn’t.

And the moment I came to this conclusion, I had the best ride that I’ve had since my crash. And that was something that I could control.

Monday, June 9, 2008

No Wall to Hit

It's funny, but one of the "official" ways in which I know summer has truly arrived in Pensacola, Florida, is that the UWF Aquatic Center now has Long Course Meters at their morning lap swim session. (Somewhere in Chicago, Jen Harrison let out a giant whoop!)

This morning, as I adjusted my goggles, ready to jump in and begin my swim at precisely 6:30 am, the guy next to me commented, "That certainly looks a long way down, doesen't it?"

I grinned in spite of myself, and (to my utter amazement) proclaimed, "Yes it does, but then again, a marathon seems impossibly long, but we do them anyway..."

And then I took off, so all that was left were bubbles from my kick and gear at the end of my lane.

I don't know where that came from, because I'm not one to make snarky comments. But I coulden't help myself. My Swimming Neighboor seemed so gloomy about the idea of 3 L-O-N-G months of Long Course Meters - and all I wanted to get across was be grateful that you have the opportunity to swim, as not everyone does...

I don't think it came out quite like that... but my neighbor gave me a wide berth (we ended up sharing a lane with a third gentleman) every time I came in for a flip turn. So that was nice.

But as I was swimming along, I could feel the differene between Long Course Meters and Short Course Yards.

For one, I was slower. Much slower. Emphasis on the much.

And because I was swimming slower, I felt myself slowing down.

Does this make sense?

But as I swam along, I realized the reason why I was slowing down, was because I was out of my comfort zone. I was swimming, but not the Short Course Yards like I'm so used to; where every 20 seconds (or thereabouts), I can count on hitting a wall, flipping, and pushing off.

For Long Course Meters, it can be as many as 45 seconds (or more!) before that big black end-of-the-lane stripe appears. More than double, if you get my drift. And for someone unsure of herself or what time she should be swimming, this can be kind of scary.

And then, I thought about open water swimming last year: how fast I felt swimming Short Course Yards, and then wondering how in the world can I swim so slow out in the open? Again, I'm sure it has more to do with unfamiliarity and being out of my comfort zones than anything else.

But that's really what life is about; embraching new challenges, grasping new opportunities as they arise, and propelling ourselves forward. Last year I chickened out at Long Course Meters when I saw how slow my times were, so I stuck it out with Short Course Yards. And I don't think I improved nearly as much as I could have.

Note the word: could.

This year is already very different. Extremely different...

I've already gone WAY out of my comfort zone - beyond where I thought possible. So why not add to my new experiences and give this a try as well? What have I got to loose?

A wall every 20 seconds?

Well, if that's all, then I'll take it. Flip turns, as they are, make me dizzy enough. And that's one thing about Short Course Yards I won't miss - the post-swim disorientation. So there you have it. I'm out of my comfort zone and not hitting a wall. How about that for a change?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Weekend RR

Well, it was a busy race weekend for most - and for my part, I did a bang-up job cheering my guts out from Pensacola, Florida.


I actually didn't know how I would feel this weekend, as once a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away (or so it seems), I was supposed to race at the ITU AG World Championships in Vancouver. But perhaps because it's been nearly 3 months since my crash and I was in my final Ironman prep right before I broke my back... It was really hard watching Ironman Arizona, seeing the video and watching results and updates roll through all day. It felt so close to my heart; like the race that got away. It is yet to be finished, and I know that one day I'll have another date with Ironman, another opportunity to attempt this distance.

Vancouver was different. I don't quite know how to put my finger on it. Maybe I can disconnect a touch more, simply because I hadn't yet begun my short course prep. Sure, I had done some speed work, temp pacing; but the major focus was on Ironman. It was after Arizona was finished that I was going to begin my Vancouver prep in earnest. Thus, I guess that explains why I am able to feel a bit more disconnected from this race.

And if the opportunity arises to do another ITU AG World Championships, I would jump at the chance.

Believe me, I was sad to not be racing - as anyone would be. Did I miss the pre-race jitters? Well, perhpas not. But the other emotions - for sure.

So instead, I've decided to do a weekend recap. Not really a race report: what am I supposed to say? I didn't technically race. Minor detail, I know. Okay, okay - so there was no race. But I DID have a weekend, and that counts for something.

So enjoy MY recap and scoring system.

"It was bright and early at 6:15 am on Sunday the horn, er alarm went off for Blueberry Picking..."

Early Wake-up alarm(s): 2. Marit: 0 (Was up by 6:15 both Saturday and Sunday)

"It was down to the final 4 gals, as we tried to finish off 2 chocolate carmel brownie desserts. Spoons at the ready, the ice cream and chocolate didn't stand a chance..."

2 Chocolate Caramel Brownies + Vanilla Ice Cream Desserts: 1. 4 Girls who have no will power to refuse: 0.

"The House Monster chased Donna and Joanna from the front entry way, through the living room, and into the bedroom, as she hissed and threatened to attack."

House Monster: 1. Donna and Joanna: 0.

"How long can it take to install a new Zipp Vuka Aerobar? 2 broken cables and 6 hours later, the bars are on the new bike. But it still needs to go to the shop, as the bike is inoperable without cables. But I felt the pressure build as I transferred the bar end shifters from the old aerobars to the new ones..."

Vuka Aerobar Cable Consumption: 1. Marit: 0.

"The temperature rose early Sunday, and it was a race for Donna, Joanna and Marit to finish Blueberry picking. Another broken cable (on Donna's bike) kept the duo inside for a 3:15 trainer ride. Joanna joined them in the room, and the trio watched British Comedy and National Treasure 2..."

Bike trainers: 2. Marit and Donna's plans to ride outside: 0.

"Marit glared down her pool lane, stared at her watch, closed her eyes, and visualized the time she would swim on her final 200..."

Marit: 1. Final 200 getting-the-better-of-her: 0!

"Tabbitha glared down at the feeding birds, stared at the darned squirrel, blinked her eyes, and pounced at the glass French Doors..."

Birds and Squirrel: 1. Tabbitha

"The bag didn't stand a chance. The contents were soon picked through, emptied, consumed, and the bag was left discarded on the bedside table, not even a single piece left over. Marit sat back, full, content, happy that she had only chosen the small bag, not the 96 oz monster pack..."

Marit: 1. Peanut Butter M&Ms: 0 (never had a chance).

Congratulations to all this weekend! Hope that you got to eat (or in my case, defeat) many Peanut Butter M&Ms. Or whatever tasty treat you choose!