Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Smorgasborg Update Thingy

Oh good lord - this moving stuff is tough work! Seems like its been way too long since I've had a chance to actually sit down and write. The hard part being, I really want to write (and come up with some decent stuff in my mind - then again, I'm not objective), but the time thingy just hasn't worked out in my favor.

And yes, I did mean "thingy". "Thingy" has become a new word in mine and Nathaniel's vocabulary. It's just easier, I think. Or perhaps we're too tired to say what we mean, and have thus eliminated complex phrases from our vocabulary.

Curious? Glad you asked. Here's a few examples:

"Can you pass the coffee thingy my way?" (In reference to the coffee filter).

"Put the screw thingy in that hole and maybe we can get the futon together..." (It took a bit of time, but the futon was put together).

"I need an orange thingy for the fruit salad. And a green thingy as well." (Still have no idea for the proper names of the fruit I got at the Farmer's Market on Saturday. They're all still "thingys").

"Where does the towel thingy go?" (Meaning the towel rack, of course!)

Suffice to say, I love Southern California. I feel like I was meant to be here: the ocean is beautiful, the weather is perfect, the shops, markets, used bookstore, fill-in-the-blank-with-whatever-you-want are all amazing. And while unpacking has been a pain in the rear, Nathaniel and I have managed to keep busy with other stuff as well.

Fun thingys, if you may.

So with that, I present The Top 10 Thingys I've done in California (since moving here a little over a week ago)! In no particular order...

10) Farmer's Market! The produce is wonderful, people are really nice, and a cute Italian guy tried to sell me lots of Sun Dried Tomatoes. Originally I was only going for the "small pack" thingy. He wanted me to buy the large one for an additional $8. He was very persuasive. Instead I settled for an anti-pasta tray thingy, and he seemed happy. Flirting was ceased after I made my purchase, though. Next time I'll go for the small thingy of SD tomatoes and leave it at that.

9) Master's Swimming. I love Carlsbad High Masters! I am SO not in the fast lane, but I try hard and can tell that I'm getting faster and stronger in the pool. I have NEVER spent so much time swimming right on base pace. After every session, I can feel my lat thingys and other parts of my arms ache in an oddly satisfying sort of way... But my lane mates buddies are awesome and we trade leading quite a bit. I'm already flirting with the possibility of moving up one lane, but can't stomach the idea of swimming that fast for a base pace in a metered pool. We'll see though...

8) Walking to The Village and stopping for coffee at the booth in the train depot. A few days ago, Nathaniel and I got up really early to walk along the beach. It was fantastic! We brought coffee from home and walked hand-in-hand next to the sea wall. Halfway through our walk, we ran out of coffee. It was almost a moment of panic, but not quite. We ended up finding a coffee thingy at the train depot, and chatted with the owners for a few minutes. I went for the pumpkin spice latte thingy, while Nate went for Plain Black Coffee. Seriously - you can't loose!

7) The Hot Tub! We've got one in the back courtyard, and I've taken full advantage of it nearly every day. I know, I know - if anything I should be in an ice bath. But seriously - ice bath vs hot tub thingy. What would YOU do. Thought so. Goes to show that I'm only human. Besides, it's still the off season and it's not like I'm doing anything that requires an ice bath.

6) Ocean watching! I will never stop gazing out at the water. Maybe its because I grew up in Minnesota and never spent much time at The Beach. But I love the Pacific, I love the waves, I love watching the surfers, spotting dolphins, and looking for Unmentionables With Really Really Big Teeth Thingys. (They ARE there!)

5) Bike rides with friends! I have met some fantastic people through this blog, and I feel so fortunate! Biking (and running) with Lisa Roo was great. And last weekend I took a tour of Elfin Forest with Shannon and her friends. The ride was awesome, and this time I didn't cry while riding through the forest thingy. (Last time with Swamis back in March, I did. Let's just say that watching a group of really fast guys pull away at Mach 1 while you are biking at your top speed-but-getting-left-in-the-dust isn't all that great for morale. But Liz was proud of me, and I was proud that I didn't chuck my bike over a ledge thingy). The group that I went with was great - we even stopped for coffee! Coffee!!

4) Rowing on Mission Bay. Yes, I rowed! For the first time in 5 years!! Our Realtor and friend Pete took me out in a double shell thingy (two-person boat, and both people have two oars, hence sculling. A two person boat where the rowers have one oar a piece is called a pair. Throw in a coxswain thingy and you've go a coxed pair). It was fantastic to be back in a boat, feeling the pull of the water on the blades, hearing the bubbles rush past under the gunwales, listening to the whoosh of the blades as they turn from feathered to square right before the catch. Luckily we didn't flip, and I got a great tour of Mission Bay. Lots of islands, bright blue water, and I have a feeling that I'll be back to row sometime in the near future...

3) Hot Yoga! I never thought I would be into the yoga thingy. BUT... I've gone three times, and have loved it each and every time. For an off-season activity, it's great. AND, no ITB or hamstring or glue OR calf pain. So extra bonus. Yes, I sweat an abnormal amount and can't do half the poses. But I'm getting better. Just the other day, I managed to get my legs over my head and have my toes touch the floor while laying on my back, something I haven't been able to do since childhood. Was I graceful? Absolutely not. But I still did it. I'm sure the instructor has a field day with my limited flexibility. But I'm getting better. A work in progress, lets just say.

2) Mount Palomar. Yes, another incredible day in the saddle thingy. Yesterday I rode up Mt. Palomar, and lived to tell the tale. I could devote an entire blog post to what I learned, what I experienced. And I will. No - this time I didn't get passed by butterflies, only gnats and little pesky fly thingys. The worst part? I couldn't swat them away because I was gripping my handlebars so much during the climb. The sad part - they were going faster than me. The ride was beautiful, breathtaking, and I feel that I'm truly putting old ghosts to rest. The best part? Reaching the top and eating fig newtons. Ah yes, I'm a gal of simple pleasure thingys.

1)Mom and Dad! YES - they are IN TOWN!! A few months ago, they decided to spend their 30th Wedding Anniversary in San Diego. When Dad was here to help me after my crash, he fell in love with the hotel we stayed at. So they're spending one night in the hotel, and the rest of the time with us. By the luck of the draw, we happened to arrive right before their anniversary celebration thingy. It is absolutely wonderful to see them, to spend time together, and to explore the area together. Speaking of which, today we're going to a Mission Thingy...

And with that, I'm off - for my run thingy. I'm supposed to head for the hills, but I may just opt for the beach instead. I've had enough hills to last for weeks, after yesterday. But alas, there's no escaping them. They are everywhere here in Southern California. And in the long run, that's really not all that bad.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hot times in California

So far, things are running smoothly for our transition to California. And Nathaniel and I have come to realize: when in California, do as Californians do.

There's something so wonderful being within walking distance of most places. We've fallen in love with Carlsbad, the ocean, The Village, and southern California in general. Yes, we realize there are some not-so-good things about the region, but thus far we're both happy.

As for me, well, I'm still reveling in the newness of this experience. Smelling dill and other herbs on my run with Roo, seeing the ocean every day, feeling the fog and mist rolling in, hearing the Pacific Coaster's horn as it rolls past the Village Station, and watching the hummingbirds fly from orange flower to purple flower in our back yard.

But last night was a first for me.

Yes, I know what dill smells like. And I've seen the ocean and felt its mist before. Train horns? Let's just say that my Dad is a train fanatic, and I'm all too familiar with trains and their bells and whistles. And hummingbirds; while I may see more out here than ever before, Nathaniel and I did have a hummingbird who would frequent our back deck in Pensacola.

Hot yoga is different.

For the first time last night, I spent a little over an hour (voluntarily!) sweating my guts out in a 107 degree room while attempting to hold various yoga poses without 1)laughing or 2)passing gas. Oh yea, and 3) passing out.

Did I mention that the temperature was 107 degrees?

It started with Charisa, who has been searching for a yoga studio for quite some time. Last week's session didn't go so well. Not for lack of trying, no - apparently the instructor held a grudge: their little group arrived a few minutes late and were reminded about it throughout the session. They were barked at when they went to get straps and blocks (take that any way you want - to me it sounded more like an S&M session than yoga). Suffice to say, they didn't return.

Fast forward one week. After running with Roo and meeting Charisa at Carlsbad High Masters, I was offered the opportunity to try Hot Yoga at a studio in Encinitas. It was close, it sounded interesting, and it promised meeting new people.

I like making friends...


Yoga isn't something I would normally do. For many reason's, the main one being I'm not all that flexible. Something about running for 10+ years. Oh yeah, that and I have a laughing problem. Once I start, I can't stop. And yoga doesn't seem condusive to laughter - at least not this kind of laughter.

A few other reasons? Um, I hate feet. And I hate bare feet. And a few years ago I was informed by one yoga instructor that, "people don't wear socks in yoga."


But in the effort to try new things, to do as Californian's do, and to make friends, I decided to give the Hot Yoga a try. Even though I hate feet, have a laughter problem, and am not flexible.

So we showed up, signed a waiver (because let's face it: practicing yoga in 107 degrees isn't for the faint of heart), and entered The Hot Room.

I knew I was in for it when people from the previous session were standing outside the studio, scantily clad in sports bras and shorts, and covered in what appeared to be water. It was sweat. And there was steam rising off their bodies.

But they all seemed happy and chipper, excited about their session.

Could it be all that bad?

Our little group of 4 walked in. The room was HOT. My first thought was, "I think this is what Kona feels like..." Keep in mind, I've never actually felt the Hawaii Ironman heat. But what else does a triathlete think when they walk into a really really really hot room?

Ah yes, you can take me away from racing for a year, but you can't take the triathlete out of me.

The room was packed. Wall-to-wall with yoga mats, and yoga people, all wearing yoga clothes. What are yoga clothes?

Glad you asked.

For girls: usually a sleeveless top with some sot of bra shelf built in and calf-length pants. Or really short shorts. For the guys? Most were not wearing a shirt. It was 107 degrees. Need I say more?

And then there I was. Mesh shorts, exposed feet, and (gulp) cotton triathlon shirt with a giant shark on the front. I convinced myself that I was normal: that just because I was the only girl without a tank top or bra top on, I would be okay.

I was so wrong.

We quickly started, holding various poses, relaxing, doing some deep breathing, and then contorting our bodies into positions I never though possible. Something about the heat enabled me to get my hands and palms all the way under my feet without bending my knees. My massage therapist back in Pensacola would be proud.

And then the sweating started. It wasn't bad at first, not too noticeable. Because every part our bodies was sweating; we all developed a sheen to our skin. But then, the drip sweating started. Beads of sweat ran down my forehead, oozed out of my pores, and down my back. My shirt felt sticky, heavy, and uncomfortable. My heart rate must have been well into zone 4, and yet I was standing perfectly still holding Warrior 3.

I peeked out of the corner of my eye. Everyone looked so calm, so relaxed; yet internally I was debating. Shirt on or shirt off?

If you know me, you know that I never take my shirt off. Something about being slightly more well-endowed than the "typical" female triathlete + always being self conscious of my stomach = shirt on, permanently. It doesn't seem to matter how much I work out, how well I eat, my stomach always retains that little bit of body fat. Or a lot, depending on where I'm at in my season.

But the room was so hot, and the instructor's words at the beginning of class, "we don't judge..." loomed in my overly hot ears. And before I knew it, my shirt was off. Grey sports bra, white stomach, odd tan lines in the back, and blue mesh shorts.

Hello World! Look at me! Here I am!

The rest of the session was spent trying to not slip off my mat while holding my poses. At this point, I couldn't stop sweating and my rented mat became akin to a slip in slide. For the record, I loved slip in slide as a kid.

Not so appropriate when holding downward dog and watching your feet slowly slip backwards towards your unassuming neighbor behind.

But we survived. We made it. And I'm sure that I lost about 5 pounds of fluid. The instructor was awesome, and our group has already made plans to go back next Monday. I may go again over the weekend - but we'll see.

That's what this experience is all about. Trying new things, finding yourself all over again, and discovering new parts about yourself that you never though possible. Yoga was great. And the really neat thing? I've been in California for less than a week. I wonder what's next...

Monday, November 17, 2008

Missing: sock & Popped: mattres

Well, if moving doesn't keep you occupied, I'm not sure what exactly will.

The totally sad part? We don't have our "stuff" yet. Yes, we're physically living in our new-wonderful-apartment-that-we both-absolutely-love (except for the parking thing. Oh, and I don't think that it gets enough light in the afternoon....), but its mostly empty.

Okay - really, really, REALLY empty.

Although it's amazing how quickly a few suitcases worth of clothing can spread out around the place. I'm still missing my right sock. Seriously, my running socks are marked L and R. The other day when I ran with a new buddy from San Diego (Hello Roo!!!), I had two left socks on. I made some sort of lame joke about running with two left feet.

Thankfully I didn't kill myself on horse dung, or anything like that. But the two L's had Nathaniel commenting on my never-matching socks.

Really, I don't mind running with mismatching socks. I've been known to wear one blue and one pink. But never two "L"s. But, there's a first for everything, right?

Besides, no one really ever sees your socks, right? I mean, you don't actually LOOK at a person and wonder, "Gee - are their socks matching?"

Then again, maybe you do. And if that's the case - you're not that weird. But I think I'm way off the subject.

So yes, our sparsely furnished apartment is very empty. It's hilarious watching the cats sprint from one end to the other. Mostly because we've got wood floors now, and they can't grip the surface like they used to with the carpet. So before they actually get going, it takes a few seconds of running in place a la Scooby Doo. Amazing how two grown adults can amuse themselves in an empty place!

Also, Nathaniel and I made a BIG trip to IKEA to pick out some new stuff. Simply incredible how you don't think you really NEED most of the stuff they have, but then you see it on display and WOW, you just have to have it.

Suffice to say, over the past week with all of our travels, the new apartment, grocery bills, IKEA, and some random triathlon-related stuff for good measure (running shoes and a little work on my bike) - Nathaniel and I have done our best to stimulate the economy.

And now, I've finally snagged a few moments to myself. I'm not getting lost in Mera Mesa, or trying to track down random socks that have gone missing. The apartment is quiet, and I've got the computer to myself. Yes, the wood floors are a tad uncomfortable to lay on, but I've got the comforter and a few pillows to keep me slightly more comfy. As for the air mattress - we ended up getting a new one.

I think it's okay. But then again, you never know. After 3 popped previous air mattresses, I'm beginning to think our cats have it in for us. Or at least Nathaniel. They are not allowed in the room with the air mattress.

BUT, for the three seconds that Tabbitha managed to sneak in this morning while I was removing Anabelle from the doorway (and thus preventing her from sneaking in and popping the mattress), I did hear the big one jump on the thing with her claws out. There's just something about that Fat Grey Cat. And her need to keep her claws out.

Great for house guests that overstay their welcome.

But NOT so great for the air mattress department.

We'll blow it up tonight and after a few hours we'll see. If we wake up on the floor, we'll know who the culprit was.

Always an adventure in San Diego. But honestly, at this point, I wouldn't have it any other way. Now about those socks...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Beach 2X!

Who ever said that salt water is bad for skin never lived in San Diego. Rather, I find it quite invigorating. I think it's interesting that, although I've lived on the coast (Havelock, NC and Pensacola, FL), I've never spent a lot of time on the beach.

Until today.

I went to the beach not once, but twice - in an eight hour span.

The first time was at Torrey Pines with Nathaniel. Hand-in-hand we walked along the beautiful Pacific, enjoying the sights and sounds. I nearly peed my pants when we spotted the dolphins surfing in the waves. For a moment I thought I had seen an unmentionable with really big teeth. But alas - no. Instead, we tried to count dolphins. But there were too many.

So instead we climbed a really big cliff with stairs thoughtfully built in. I counted 61 and then decided that counting was stupid when I should instead be focusing on important stuff, like breathing. But the views were stunning. Didn't spot any unmentionables with really big teeth, but there were lots of kelp beds and surfers.

And ocean. Lots and lots and lots of calm, beautiful, sparkling Pacific Ocean.

My second time at The Beach was while running. I set out from our hotel in South Carlsbad, watched the sun sink beneath the horizon, and enjoyed a 60 min run along PCH 101 and then onto the hard-packed sand. After turning around at the Power Plant south of The Lagoon (sorry - still learning names here), I made my way back in the darkness.

However I noticed that the tide was rising. And quite rapidly. It seemed that my footprints that had been half way between the cliff bottom and surf's edge were now being covered by the water.

Not being sure how rapidly the tide came in, I quickened my pace. Yes, I should have checked the tide chart like my Dad used to do while he ran along California beaches in the '70s, but I didn't. The last thing that I wanted was a Bay of Fundy type torrent. Jen Harrison would have been proud of my high tempo effort, especially after not working out while driving cross country.

In other news - absolutely FANTASTIC news, I might add - Nathaniel and I are signing for our place tomorrow morning at 10. I am still in disbelief. The only bad thing that we can thing of, is that the parking garage takes a bunch of time to get to. But otherwise, the wood floors, layout, friendly price, and the fact that its within walking distance of The Beach AND The Carlsbad Village, well, we're over The Moon about it. So for my Northern cold-weathered-counterparts, any time you want to stay and train in Sunny SD - my house is your house.

Beware of the House Monster and Mini Monster, though. Walk without sturdy shoes and pants at your own risk.

And for those inquiring minds, the kitties did exceptionally well during the drive. Apparently Anabelle falls asleep to car sounds. Tabbitha, though, voices her displeasure. But after two or three hours every day, she stopped meowing and would fall asleep somewhere in the car. I didn't have the heart to leave her in the kennel for the entire time, so she usually perched herself in the backseat. Although she did curl up on my lap a few times.

At least she was warm: all that cat girth kept me warm at higher elevations. Fellow travelers even commented on her size; the funniest being, "Wow, he's a huge cat! Is he pregnant?"

Um - where to begin with that one?

And no, Nathaniel and I didn't use cell phones. So much of our trip was through areas without any reception. Instead, my very intelligent hubby thought we should use walkie talkies. I think he was a little annoyed at my chipper "Roger that!" and "Copy, over!"

I guess he hears stuff like that on the radio all the time. I did think about asking him what he was wearing, but 34 hours in the car doesn't do much for one's love life. So instead we would make random comments about passing scenery, how we were holding up, and the kitties. Nathaniel wasn't too impressed when I held the walkie talkie close to Tabbitha's meows.

Humbug. If it got real old real fast for him, it wasn't exactly a walk in the park for me.

But that's aside from the point. We're here, we made it safe and sound, and we have a great place to live. Tomorrow we sign and within a week our "stuff" will arrive. The Pacific Coast Highway beckons and I think its high time that I take my bike for a spin to greet the morning light.

Who knows, I may even see an unmentionable with really big teeth. You never know. On second thought, nix that. I'll keep my eyes on the road. Last time I took them off out here, I crashed. I'll focus forward, and love every minute of it.

Wish you were here! (sorry - I couldn't resist!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Trip update!

Would it be redundant if I was to claim that our trip, thus far, has been long? Well, for all those wondering, it's been a LONG drive. But thankfully (fingers crossed, because nothing is final in life except for death, taxes, and really really high "official" M Dot entry fees), today is our final day.

We're currently in beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona. After three solid days of driving, we entered Mountain Time yesterday, and today we'll hit Pacific. I feel oddly awake at 5 am.

And for the record, no - I haven't seen any Armadillos in Amarillo, TX. We were there as well.

So far the drive has gone really well. The Gulf Coast gradually slipped away as we headed North, to our delight finding deciduous trees that had yet to loose their leaves. The rolling swampland of Louisiana turned into rolling fields in Texas. Small oil wells, cattle farms, and cowboys dotted the plains as we made our way from Dallas to Amarillo. When we crossed into New Mexico, the climb was steady, scenery beautiful, and mesa cliffs absolutely breathtaking. The red soil and red rock rose up, up, and up, and after crossing the continental divide on I-40 (elevation of 7275), we flew along the high plains. Indian trading posts, petrified trees, and dried up rivers called "washes" came to pass as we made our way into Arizona. Past roads leading to Homolovi Ruins and the Meteor Crater. About an hour outside of Flagstaff, Humphrey's Peak, the highest peak in AZ at 12,633 feet came into view. Snow covered hills whirred past our windows as we made our way into Flagstaff, the highest peaks covered in the white stuff.

And this morning by 8 am, we plan on hitting the road for sunny South California. We've still got the bikes, the cats, and our sanity. Then again, with another day of driving, you never know.

I'm just looking forward to breathing in the Salty Pacific Air, standing at the Ocean's edge, and listening to the roar of the waves. San Diego, here we come!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Happy (belated) Birthday Dad!!!

Greetings from Dallas, Texas! AND a belated birthday to my Dad - I would have gotten the birthday wishes out earlier, but our phone/cable/internet was disconnected EARLY Saturday morning. With no internet, a nearly empty apartment (except the leaky air mattress which we DID leave behind), and packed cars, one will do many things for entertainment.

My favorite?

Finishing the open bottle of wine and eating ice cream sandwiches (Skinny Cow!) while reading Harry Potter.

But that's beside the point.

So in tribute to Dad's birthday AND the mega-long car trip that Nathaniel and I are taking from Pensacola to San Diego, I present:

My Top 10 Favorite Driving Moments with Dad!

10. Once a semester in elementary school, Dad would take me out for a special Father-Daughter lunch. I remember sitting in our Silver 4WD Subaru, country music blaring from the speakers, and on our way to Red Lobster - my restaurant of choice.

9. Central High School Ski trip during my sophomore year. First we had a slight mishap with the 20 or so pairs of skis strapped to the top of our car. The strap came off and we nearly lost all the skis. Thankfully Dad's road handling skills saved the day. Later during the trip, when half the team was stranded in a fierce winter storm, at a small cabin on Hwy 00 in the middle of backwoods Wisconsin, Dad's 4WD Subaru Legacy managed to break a trail through 24 inches of snow and rescue countless number of skiers.

8. In January on year (perhaps 1991?), Dad and I drove up to The National Forest Lodge in Ely, Minnesota for a ski trip. It was very COLD, but we packed trail mix and enjoyed the sights and sounds of back country Minnesota. No storms, thankfully. But we did sight deer and wolves.

7. Dad was always willing to drive me to school in the morning, even if I was running late. And in high school, I was nearly ALWAYS running late. Except if I had orchestra rehearsal. Then I was surprisingly early.

6. During Spring Break of 1990(?), the entire family drove from St. Paul to San Antonio. Yes, the trip was long, plagued with throw up (me!), but we made it. Dad gave a conference, and the rest of us enjoyed first class accommodations and the gorgeous river walk. On the way back, we spent Easter in Missouri. And went Easter egg hunting outside, something we never would have done in frigid Minnesota. Obviously we survived the trip - and Karyna and I earned pet stuffed rabbits in the process. I named mine "Teddie Tassie Texas." I still have that rabbit (is it okay to admit that?)

5. Driving along the North Shore of Lake Superior every August, and blaring CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival) on the tape deck. To this day, whenever I hear CCR, I am reminded of those great vacations on The Lake. And it makes me happy.

4. He was always willing to go out of his way for me - one summer while running in the Minnesota Sate Hershey Track and Field Meet in Frazee, Dad took a detour and we drove 100 feet into South Dakota. Just because I "wanted to set foot there." For the record, it didn't feel any different than Minnesota. But to a 12 year old, it made all the difference in the world.

3. "Suzy", the VW Wagon that our family drove while living in Czechoslovakia and Europe during the 80s. Through doors falling off, spider bites in uncomfortable places (that was Mom), lots and lots of vomit (that was Karyna), and a rock smashing through our windshield while on the high way (that was with me), we managed to survive. And Suzy will always have a special place in our hearts.

2. Many trips to and from Madison while I was in college a Wisconsin. He willingly put up with the mournful meows of The Fat Grey Cat - who at the time was Itty and Bitty - but still very loud. After each trip, we would always eat at "The Dardanelles", a fantastic Greek and Turkish restaurant. It was there that I developed a love for Turkish Coffee. With sugar!

And the Number One Driving moment with Dad?

1. Teaching me how to drive stick shift in a church parking lot when I was 14 and 15. I believe that he wanted a Higher Power to watch out for us. It was a Lutheran Church....and I managed to NOT crash into a pole. That's enough of a confirmation for me!

Happy (belated) birthday Dad! I am so sorry that I missed your real date - but both Nathaniel and I want you to know that we were thinking about you. And that we're REALLY looking forward to celebrating in a few weeks together out in San Diego!

So here's to many more road trips! I treasure the ones we've already had!!

Friday, November 7, 2008

His & Hers

Well, the house is packed up, the movers are moving our "stuff" (even as I write!), and the kitties are hiding. Yesterday was a FULL day of packers boxing up our stuff. Today is another FULL day of the moving crew loading nearly all of our possessions onto crates to move across the country.

FYI: for all you military folks out there, always request a "crate" move. Trust me. Less damage, less hassle, less worry. No transfer of boxes or furniture from one truck to another. No misplaced boxes because one from Truck A doesn't arrive at Truck B (for unknown reasons). The crates are great - everything in the same closed container for the duration of the trip. And the crates remain locked until WE unlock them at our final destination.

In the past 72 hours, we've boxed and said farewell to nearly all of our stuff, serviced both cars (tire change, alignment, oil, belt - the works. Dad, your warnings about tires and breaks does not go unnoticed. I always check!), received official "orders" to drive across country, "looked" at many apartments/townhouses/houses/condos online courtesy of our awesome agent Pete, said, "farewell for now" to too many friends, had a surprise visit to to doc's office for a "female issue" (who wants to drive cross country with a UTI?), had sushi four times (love the Cambodian Rolls at Ichiban!), did my last LONG bike through the Blackwater Forrest, sorted through stuff that we should have thrown away LONG ago, and figured out what we want to keep with us for the next three weeks while our stuff is en route.

Thank God I'm not a smoker, and don't have any anxious habits. Because I would be lit up. Seriously.

And that's where this gets interesting. Because just the other day when Nathaniel mentioned that he was going to pick out few movies to take with us, and that I should do the same, I noticed that his choice in entertainment was very different from mine. And that got me wondering: what else is different about the way we pack and what we carry?

His: Gladiator, The Bourne Trillogy, The Big Lebowski, Any Given Sunday.
Hers: Love Actually, Bridget Jone's Diary, Shakespeare In Love, Grumpy Old Men (how appropriate! Especially by the time we hit Barsow, CA)

His: Toothbrush, Shave kit, Shampoo, soap.
Hers: Toiletries, makeup, brush, comb, moisturizer - face and body - shampoo and conditioner, hair tonic, hair mousse, facial soap, body soap.

His: two pairs of jeans, 1 pair of kahakis, 1 pair of running shorts.
Hers: two pairs of jeans, 1 pair of capris, 2 pairs of shorts, 3 pairs of running shorts, 2 pairs of workout shorts (they are different!), 5 pairs of bike shorts (never know when we'll have access to a washer), 2 pairs of tights (for the cold weather running in Flagstaff, AZ, and another pair "just in case"), 1 pair of leg warmers.

His: Just throws shoes into a duffel bag. A small bag (his exact words). Running shoes, birkenstocks, penny loafers.
Hers: 2 pairs of flip flops, Zoot Recovery Sandals, 2 pairs of running shoes, 2 pairs of bike shoes, 1 pair dressy high heels, 1 pair high heeled sandals.

His: "Airpower and Small Wars" by Coram and Johnson, "The War of the Flea by R. Taber, The Art of War and The Western World by Archer Jones.
Hers: "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, "Harry Potter 5" by JK Rowling, and personal writing journal.

His: Watch.
Hers: 2 watches (both hr monitor and one with GPS feature-thingy that I'm still trying to figure out), 2 bike computers.

His: Stop and eat "whatever".
Hers: oatmeal, diet coke, gels (thank you Kim!!!) and bars for training, gatorade, fruit and veggies for "on the go", whole wheat bread, peanut butter, lunch meat, water, and the proper utensils for everything.

His: 2 or 3 tee-shirts, and 2 or 3 collard shirts, 1 button down, and a few under shirts, 1 windbreaker, 1 leather jacket.
Hers: countless tee-shirts, even more countless long-sleeved shirts, jean jacket, 2 cammis, 4 workout shirts, 3 running shirts, 4 bike jerseys, 5 sports bras, 1 bike vest, 1 bike rain slicker, 2 jackets (appropriate for workout or other).

His: Are we bringing the cats?
Hers: 2 cats. Plus cat toys, food, litter, and a new box each night.

His: Ipod, but random station is fine.
Hers: Ipod, and Ipod car kit a MUST.

His: The cars are fine (no anxiety).
Hers: The-cars-WILL-break-down-in-the-middle-of-Texas (lots of anxiety).

His: Leave the popped air mattress behind (thanks to one or both of the kitties).
Hers: The air mattress works fine for falling asleep. Its just the waking up in the middle of the night with your butt on the ground that sucks.

His: printed-out directions.
Hers: directions, atlas's for both cars, alternate directions (just in case), hotel locations, distances between hotels, must-sees along the way, extra water, food, and blankets "just in case", emergency kit.

His: naked
Hers: two pairs of sunglasses, three visors, four baseball caps, sunscreen, 2 cases of lip balm.

So you get the point.

Right now we're about T-36 hours from departure time. The movers are almost done, and then its back to the service station to get the heater checked out in Elma, our '96 Corolla. Last thing we want is to loose heat OR defrost while traveling through 20-degree temps. Remember: we've been in Florida for two years, and we're not used to anything much below 40. Sorry guys. I know winter rapidly approaches. My deepest sympathies.

After that - who knows? I've got a swim and functional strength on my schedule still for today. And perhaps there will be time for Sushi before we set off. If not twice, certainly once. I fear it'll be far too long before I eat another Cambodian Roll like the ones at our favorite haunt. And then, Sunday morning we depart. Fingers crossed until then!

Oh - and if you see a gray and red car driving caravan-style with two cats and two bikes in and on (in that order) the gray car, rest assured its only us. Honk and wave, and we'll return your greetings. Unless the cats are going crazy and my butt hurts from sitting all day. You'll get some sort of gesture, but it may not be the one you were looking for. Hopefully it won't come to that, but as with most things in life, you never know.

For now, I'm focused on the workouts and sushi. And tonight we'll hang out on our slow-leaking air mattress, throw some kind of movie on the computer, share a bottle of wine and toast our time in Pensacola. Cheers!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The START Button

Have you ever found yourself nervous before a workout? No, not a race. Not even a pace test or time trail. Just the workout. So... have you?

After today, I can safely and assuredly say that I have.

And lest you think that because we're moving (To San Diego - hooray!) in three days my workouts are lighter or easier, you would be wrong. In her defense, Jen did ask about the move logistics - but I assured her that I wanted things to remain as they would if we weren't moving at all.

So up until Sunday, my day off, workouts have been and will be "normal".

Meaning that for today's swim, my main set was hard, fast, and will-I-get-enough-air-to-keep-from-passing-out-in-the-pool tough. It included 6 X 100 at T-pace with a :10 rest interval, followed (and this is the kicker) by a 500 time trial.

Who the heck does a time trial in the water? Oh yeah, my uber-enthusiastic I-LOVE-swimming coach.

Remember my last time trial? On the bike back in July? No worries, if you don't. I've got an easy summary: it was the most painful 70 minutes of my life. My max heart rate was only four beats higher than my average. Yeah. Ouch.

Major ouch.

And in THIS case, I was supposed to follow up six veryfast 100s with a 500 time trial?

I swear - my lats and arms began protesting even before I hopped into the water.

But it seemed like an interesting challenge; an opportunity for me to push the t-pace and get some high intensity into my system. If anything, I knew the guard and aqua aerobics people would be amazed by the caboose-like gasps coming from my lane.

Long, easy warm-up was completed and I felt strong in the process. My hands were gripping well, the hips were rotating, heels towards the surface, and I felt smooth in the water. The effort was minimal, and I was happy to not be fighting the water.

And then it hit me.

I was about to start my main set. The hard stuff. The stuff that I had been building towards for my entire, 1,000 yard warm-up.

The hard part? The realization that I would have to be the one who started my watch, who pressed the Little Red START button. Not a coach, not a race starter, not a cannon. It would be all on me.

The thought was terrifying.

Because I knew what I was in for. I knew the sets would hurt, that my arms would scream in pain, the lats would protest, and my lungs would feel like they were about to burst. I was the one with the power: when to press START.

At least in a race, you know what you're in for. You know it'll hurt. But someone else is telling you when to go. Nope, certainly not easy. And not always fun. But the work of actually MAKING yourself press the start button is taken away. You go when the gun goes off, or you're left behind.

Swimming solo, sans master's team or friends, it's just you and the knowledge that the journey you are about to embark on will be painful. And it begins when YOU say so. Not a moment before.

It's like with surgery. Would you prefer to operate on yourself? Control when to start, where to incise, what to fix? Nope - didn't think so. Give me a reputable doctor, the meds and knock me out.

And that's when I realized: in order to get the end results we desire, sometimes we have to do a lot of hard stuff in between. The easy way isn't always the right way. Yes it will hurt, but in that hurt, in that box-of-pain (to quote the great ELF and Jen), we find ourselves and we discover what we're made of.

Those thoughts, those ideas helped a lot during the set. No, it didn't make pushing the Little Red START button on my watch any easier - but I knew I was on the right track. Going down the hard road to a better end-result.

So yes, I was soon in the hurt box, and yes, my breath sounded like a chugging caboose going through a mountain pass. At 10,000 feet. And my arms did hurt, my shoulders did protest, and I felt like I was about to hit "the wall" within a matter of seconds.

But I did it. I pressed my START button and made myself go; knowing full well the difficulty that lay ahead. And in the process I discovered I could push through to another level, ignore the pain and even laugh in its face. I knew it wouldn't be easy, knew that it would probably hurt more before my time was done. But I embraced that knowledge, I embraced that fact, and made myself work harder in the process.

If not now, when? When would I have another chance at this workout? When else would I be able to swim my T-pace for 6 X 100 and then come back and set a new 500 pr?

I didn't want regrets, I refused to look back and wonder, "what if." What if I had pushed a little harder? What if I had tried a little more to break through the old boundary and establish a new one?

I figured that even if I didn't succeed, I was stronger for trying. And I would much rather go down fighting, go down absolutely exhausted with The Wizard on my back, than coast in and speculate on going faster.

So I did.

And I sounded like a caboose.

My legs hurt with every turn. So I pushed harder.

My shoulders and arms screamed with every stroke. So I pulled harder.

And my lungs begged for more air after the turns. So I took two strokes before I grabbed a quick breath.

And still I pressed on.

In the end, I was almost on mark for my 100s. I was a second off for two of them, but overall really happy with the result. It was my 500 that really got me going. I had a number in my head that I wanted to hit; a time that I haven't yet swum. I knew it would be more challenging after my 100s, but again I figured "why not?"

So I did.

When it comes to doing the hard stuff, it isn't always easy. We don't run towards pain, we don't wish things would get harder. But we can't always get what we want. And if we want to improve, to grow, to get better, faster, and stronger, simply stated, we need the hard stuff.

Next time I go to the pool and see something that difficult on my schedule, I'll smile, think of my coach, and yell, "Bring It On!" And you can too!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November? Really??

Well, howdy!

Over the past few days, I've noticed that when life kicks things up a notch, I go into preservation mode. Yes, I get done what needs to get done, but other things (reading the newspaper, blogs, facebook, and generally the fun stuff that I enjoy) are in need of some attention.

And why am I so rushed?

Great question!

Um, because on Saturday (or Sunday), Nathaniel, the kitties, and myself are moving to California. There was a small debate about which route to take: I-10 being the most direct, but I-40 being the more scenic. In the end, we both agreed that an extra few hours in the car was worth the pretty scenery.

Somehow I think that 30 hours into our trip, right about the time we're coasting through Barstow, CA we'll believe otherwise.

In other news, not one but both cars are totally great. New tires, some overhauling on brake lines, and check-ups for both. About the cost of a great new sub nine zero disc. But I'm not counting.

And just for the heck of it - and because Nathaniel and I are doing our part in keeping the economy going - we bought a new laptop. Actually the old one was about to die. Literally. It was on its last breath, and we should have put it out if its misery long ago. I got it my senior year of college, so it's, like, really ancient.

The new one is fantastic. And I never realized how great Google Earth was until the computer would load the new image and move within seconds of typing in the destination. Nathaniel and I have had fun looking up various places around the world, including (but not limited to): The Cayman Islands, Fiji, The Bahamas. Not that we're itching for a vaction... but....

Okay - we really WANT a vacation. And after this move and flight school, frankly - well, we've earned it. Unfortunately because of our cars and computer purchases, I think Paradise will have to wait.

Then again we are moving to San Diego in a few days...

I've been really busy packing. Even thought we've got packers and movers arriving Thursday and Friday, there are some things I just don't trust them with. We've had so much of our stuff broken or damaged, and I'm not willing to sacrifice any more teapots or Czech cut glass to a governmental move, thank-you-very-much.

So the teapots, glass, china, zipp wheels, bikes, violin, Nathaniel's flight stuff, and a few other odds and ends are traveling with us. Oh yeah - and the cats.

We're still debating: which cat goes in which car? Nathaniel is willing to take any cat, but I know better. I saw how tightly he gripped the steering wheel when we drove from Wisconsin to North Carolina with Tabbitha a few years ago. We made the mistake of quietly conversing after she fell asleep, and were quickly reminded of her discord when she started up again at the sound of our voices.

Suffice to say, I've got a much better tolerance for kitties in cars than Nate. Then again, we might have a meltdown around Barstow. We'll have to wait and see.

In other news, I had an amazing time Spectathaleting Ironman Florida last weekend. After running with Bri and Marty Gaal, I met up with Danni Kruse and Mary Eggers, and had a blast cheering at mile one of the run course. Let's just say that the Memphis gals - Halloween costumes, booze, loud music, bare butt cheecks and all - was an incredible sight. And I think the athletes were pretty happy as well.

It was wonderful seeing the racers, getting to cheer for Damie, Tri-Girl Kate-O and all of her friends, Bree, Wes, Curt, my best training partner EVER Ludi, and Ryan. Major props to everyone who competed - I thought I would be sad after missing Arizona. Instead I found myself looking forward to Coeur d'Alene.

At some point I hope to sit down and actually write about my experiences last weekend, because they were incredible. But now I don't have time.

Other things? I know I'm leaving stuff out, but I can't think of them right now. My mind is already jumping ahead to tomorrow's workouts and moving prep. I need to figure out which clothes to pack with us and which clothes to let the movers pack. Because we still haven't found a permanent residence (which we're also still doing) yet, our stuff will most likely be put into storage.

So if you see me wearing the same thing three days in a row, don't think anything of it. Then again, on Sunday I'll be in Texas and Monday somewhere in... Texas still? Suffice to say, we've still got some planning on that department.

And finally - a BIG congratulations to everyone who raced last weekend! Your strength and courage was incredible, and I will carry your passion with me into my own training. And to Ryan - no longer "Caught on the Run". Ryan - bravo on an incredible race! You worked your butt of this past year, honing and perfecting everything the best you could. I know it wasn't easy, but your journey is inspirational. Your Ironman Florida has become to me, what my Mt. Palomar was to you.

Congratulations on 9:31!