Sunday, May 31, 2009


Yours Truly and Charisa last Saturday somewhere along the Lake Henshaw loop. Is it just me, or is the backdrop reminiscent of Mordor from Lord of the Rings (minus the volcano)? I think so... Then again - this is an epic loop, and that's an epic movie...and my parched brain makes odd connections during times of great work/pain/effort. Thanks to Caroline for the image!

The past week has literally flown by. I've started and not finished four different posts. Either I'm loosing brain cells by the day (which it FEELS like after some of my training sessions), or just have a difficult time with time management. I'd prefer the latter, but have a feeling the first is a major contributor.

Who knows, though.

To keep it simple - I'll provide a few highlights. And I'll keep it short...more for my sake than for yours.
See - this makes everyone happy! Mer, Shannon, and myself.

Hello Open Water! Friday I swam in The Cove - AND DIDN'T GET EATEN! Yes, I ventured out for my first NON-RACE OPEN PACIFIC OCEAN WATER SWIM. And survived (cue me jumping up and down cheering). Thanks to Shannon and Stephen for taking me where I've never gone before. This deserves its own post...and I won't fail. I DID see two sharks - but they were baby leopards and not scary. And a huge bat ray. And lots of cute bright orange fish... And...I think I'll...go...back...? Yes - I've decided, that I will.

Indecent. When you've gotta go, you've gotta go. And yes, squatting behind your open car door in a casino parking lot before climbing Mt. Palomar is possible, just not advisable. Especially when the hedges on the other side offer little if no protection from automobiles of high stature. Like tour buses. Oh well. I wasn't the only one - Shannon set the trend and I'm not ashamed to admit I followed.

Gold Star Award! And it goes to Shannon. Not only did this amazing friend earn her PhD, but she braved SEVERAL workouts with me over the past two weeks. I was only half-joking when I suggested we climb Palomar together, and she agreed. Its one thing to climb this mountain when you're in full training mode...but Shannon has been diligently working towards her degree and getting ready for a move up to Berkley. Even she joked that she wasn't in shape for it. BUT SHE DID IT. If it was hard for me - and I've been doing a lot of training - I KNOW it was a beast for her. She is ROCK SOLID.

Heavenly drinks. Back in Florida after hot and long workouts, I craved Coke. After Wednesday's ride - it was Squirt. Perhaps it was the altitude? Who knows? Whatever it was 1) it was delicious and 2) it reminded me of my Dad, who used to drink Squirt all the time when I was growing up

Laying down. As soon as I do it, I'm nearly asleep. Trust me on....


I'm back! Sorry about that - but a common occurrence at this point in my training (JUST before my IM CDA taper begins) And yes, there are confirmed monsters under the bed. The Mini Monster is fierce when it comes to shoe strings....

I LOVE Nathaniel. I'm so lucky to have him in my my best My Other Half (okay, I'll stop before it gets out of hand). Putting up with me when I'm 1) tired from training 2) hungry from training 3) cranky from training 4) gone because I'm training - well, he gets The BEST HUSBAND OUT THERE award. This morning we celebrated by sleeping in and picking up donuts together. Aaaahhhhh..... bliss!

Good Girls! The kitties are actually, almost, sort-of, maybe getting along? Errr - well, Tabbitha was mostly asleep, therefore unaware of how close the Mini Monster was getting. She probably thought it was me, resting my arm against her girth or something. All I know is that I've NEVER seen Anabelle lay a paw on Tabbitha without consequences. I was too afraid to move - and Nathaniel couldn't resist getting the shot. Proof that miracles DO exist.

Holy Cow! I nearly dropped the computer when I saw Denis Menchov slide out on the final time trial of the Giro d'Italia. Although quick reaction time by both him AND his team saved the day. But eeks.... note to self: biking on wet slick cobblestones at upwards of 30 miles per hour is NOT a good idea... Not that I ever would or could do that... Watching the Giro these past three weeks has been GREAT! And inspired me to climb more mountains on the bike.

T.V. After pushing myself for x amount of hours holding y zone and z pace and...and...and.... I just need to zone out. Seriously.

Shannon. Yeah, I know I already mentioned her...but she's become one of my closest friends down here and its hard for me to see her go. I know that the move up to Berkley to pursue her post doctorate is the right thing for her - but its still tough to say good-bye. I'm used to being the one who has to leave my friends and move its tough. And I'm sad that I won't see her as often as I'd like. I know that she's just a few hours up the road...but still. Thanks for all the GREAT times Shannon!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Thank you to all the brave men and women who serve our country, past and present. Freedom is not free, and we are grateful for your service.

And now, I'm going to go hug Nathaniel!

Happy Memorial Day, friends.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lake Henshaw Loop

If this post is a bit rambling, you'll have to forgive me. I'm about 20 minutes away from falling asleep, but that's pretty normal for me at this point in my training.

What wasn't normal - was my bike ride today. I knew something like this was coming. I just knew it. After hearing Mer's account of her 7-hour Ironman training rides, I figured that something akin to that would appear on my schedule.

Sure enough, it did.

And that day was today.

Last week at the pool, Charisa had mentioned that she was going out on the Lake Henshaw loop - a 112 mile and approximately 7-hour ride. Perfect! I barely contained my excitement... Someone to ride with for 7 hours! Jackpot! AND, someone FAST and STRONG to ride with for 7 hours! Double Jackpot!

So - because I'm literally nodding off, and for your reading pleasure - a few observations from my ride today...

-Rolling out my front door at 5:30 and climbing UP right away. There is something so wrong about hitting zone zz and watt xxx so early.

-Meeting Charisa's neighbor at 5:45 am, who happened to be up and about and NOT on a bike. And then seeing the same neighbor 7.5 hours later. Odd.

-Joining up with fellow ride buddy, Jon in San Marcos - who I met for the first time on the ride. And then staring at the GIANT IRONMAN tattoo on the back of his calf. When things got tough, when my legs felt like they wouldn't turn over, or whenever I felt I was having a moment of mental weakness, I made myself focus on his tattoo and get back on his wheel. It worked - for the most part.

- Watching in amazement as Charisa hammered through the ride - AFTER having ridden 50 miles Friday morning. She. Is. Amazing.

-Stopping at a GREAT store somewhere between Julian and Mt. Palomar, just off the 78 and 79. I was very tempted by the Julian Pie Company - but decided to stick to my training nutrition. (small sigh).

-Climbing up the 78 into Ramona. The pass is BEAUTIFUL, but more importantly, I remember driving down that exact same pass with Nathaniel and my Mom back in late March. At the time I thought it would be incredible to bike up. I had no idea.

-Riding through not one, not two, but THREE swarms of locusts somewhere between the 76/79 interchange and East Grade road on Palomar. It. Was. Disgusting. And while Charisa was nice enough to call them grasshoppers (which sounds sort of nice and hoppy-like), I knew what they really were. Thank goodness they weren't swarms of bees - which is what we first thought as we went barreling through. I was actually okay with feeling the 'pings' off my helmet, legs, arms, and side. NO stings! PHEW!

-Saying, "Good Morning Cows!" to the baby cows along the route. I think I scared one, though.

-I commented that Charisa was just about the only friend that I knew who would run a marathon "for a fun training day".

-Charisa remarking that I was just about the only friend that she knew who would respond with "GREAT!" when told of a really big, steep, and long hill ahead. And I meant it.

-Discussing ostrich eggs, after passing an ostrich farm. I do believe that one ostrich egg is the equivalent of 18 chicken eggs? But I could be wrong... hhhmmmm....scrambled eggs....yum!

-Getting in aero and focusing on the white line when things got tough, hard, icky, uncomfortable, long... I discovered that sometimes you just need to shut off the brain and ride... No thinking, no commenting - just ride. One pedal stroke after another.

-Seeing a cycling team riding hard up a hill while the three of us descended. Twenty seconds later, we came across two individuals from the same team who had dropped off the back. "Oh man - that sucks!" Charisa commented. I couldn't help agree, all while hearing Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin's voices in my head... He's cracked and gone off the back! The elastic has broken and now, well, our boy is in trouble!

-I miss Phil and Paul's commentating for the Giro. Cycling just isn't the same without those two...

-Descending the bottom slope of Mt. Palomar and seeing two riders biking up with a car following behind. Later I learned that Floyd Landis and one of his teammates were doing the climb. Nice! Wouldn't we ALL like to have a support vehicle behind us? Yeah - that would be great!

-Realizing that I LOVE my bike saddle. The Adamo ISM is the best saddle ever. And the fact that mine is pink? Even better.

-Sometime after 6:30 on the bike, realizing this was the longest time EVER I had been riding.

-Returning home to Nathaniel, who - after eating at The Leucadia Donut Shop last weekend after the Encinitas Sprint Tri - found his love donuts. I had a fresh cake donut with white icing and sprinkles waiting for me when I got home. It was the second thing I ate - after my recovery bar. Solid food - yum!

And with that, I'm literally falling asleep. Jon and Charisa made me work hard, and it was worth every minute of it. Tough, long, hilly - but totally and utterly worth it.

Happy Training!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Hill Run

Yesterday I had the pleasure of running hills. Jen had specified that she wanted me to find a hilly course and simply run with – a few seconds in the upper echelons of my heart rate would be welcomed, although unpleasant. Nothing like “running” up a 8-minute long steep hill, heart rate off the charts, breath sounding suspiciously like a freight train. I think I can I think I can I think I can…But hey, if it’s on the docket, I’m all for it. Besides, for the first time in my triathlon-life, I live in a location that has plenty of hills for me to choose from.

And let’s face it – when I ‘run’ up hills, I’m not the fastest of the bunch. Yes, I work hard – but that doesn’t always equate to ‘fast’ now, does it? Instead, I had plenty of time to admire the view and take in m y surroundings.

A few observations from my run…

-Starting out uphill RIGHT away. Yes, I turned inland instead of venturing out towards the coast. So instead of climbing short and steep, I opted for long and gradual. But it was still up. And I went past one switchback. Thankfully I was going so slow that my heart rate didn’t budge much past zone 2.

-Saying GOOD AFTERNOON to a lady working on her garden. Sixty minutes later when I looped back, she was still working on the same hedge. Either she’s really methodical, or just loves her garden. I’m sure she thought the same about me – still running.

-Getting dive bombed by birds. You know those clips on ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’ of an unsuspecting person suddenly getting bombarded by birds? Yeah, well – that was me. Luckily, the sun was behind me, so I could see the shadows of the little buggers while they dive bombed. But it was still unnerving. I’m sure I looked like an idiot, ducking every few seconds for a 2-block long period. Towards the end, I would have gladly preferred getting hit by poop instead of said bird.

-Running up one of the hills on El Camino Real. 10 minutes later – still running up the same hill, cresting the top and turning off of El Camino Real. I have no idea where I was going, just up. At that point, running on a flat section of road would have felt odd.

-Seeing my heart rate in excess of 175. Thirty seconds later, seeing it below 125. Yes, running up vs running down. Amazing how our bodies respond.

-Realizing that with ten minutes left on my run, I was only six minutes from home. And because this run was a HILL run, going two minutes beyond and then back home just wouldn’t cut it. Instead I turned inward (for courage and strength), inland, and ‘ran’ up the Hoover hill. One more hill couldn’t hurt, right? Wrong. My legs simply stopped feeling ¾ of the way up. Yes, I made it – but no, it wasn’t pretty.

-When I finally DID run along flat sections, realizing that the faster pace didn’t feel so bad. Again – ‘faster’ is relative. When you’re lucky to average 13:30 per mile pace running up, anything faster feels, well, GREAT!

-Realizing that the main reason I’ve been hesitant to run in the hills is I’ve been afraid of messing up my average pace. Woa! Hang on there a moment. What? I realized yesterday that so many of my runs have been along the coast because of the flat topography (and the view is great, but mainly because its flat). But in the end – what does pace and average pace really matter? Who the heck cares anyway – right? There is so much to be gained from running hills – both physically and mentally. So even if the average pace is xx:xx, BUT I GAVE MY BEST EFFORT AND WORKED THE HILLS THE WAY I CAN, then I’ll be happy. And its only taken me how long to figure this out?

-How GREAT my post-run recovery bar would be. Sometimes you just have to run for a little chocolaty-peanuty-recovery-bar goodness. Well, that or chocolate milk. You pick.

-Finishing my run and being happy. I am grateful that I can do this and that my body is responding to the training, that I live in California, and have the wonderful support of Nathaniel, my friends, Jen, and the rest of my family. It was simply a great day for a tough run. Hills and all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

8 Thingies!

This has been going around on a few blogs lately, and I kind of enjoy stuff like this. Especially when stuck in the doldrums of California's May Grey and my final big push towards Ironman Coeur d'Alene (there - I said it!).

So...without further ado....My lists of 8 Thingies:

8 Thingies I am looking forward to:

1) Spending time with Nathaniel over Memorial Day weekend. Even though I've got a lot of training on the docket, he's got some time off. We plan to make the most of it!
2) Seeing my parents at Ironman CDA. Both Mom and Dad (and hopefully Nate!) will be out there for the race, and I can't wait!
3) There's this thing called Ironman in my not-too-distant-future...
4) A piece of sheet cake after my 7+ hour ride on Saturday.
5) Reading on the back porch, surrounded by flowers.
6) Nathaniel finishing up his final phase of helicopter training and re-joining the fleet (mixed feelings, as this means he'll also start deploying again. Let's just take things one at a time...)
7) Going to Hawaii for the FIRST TIME EVER in October (for this race thingy...)
8) Post IM CDA cruise/vacation with Nathaniel (as long as he's DONE with his training squadron), Mom, Dad, and Karyna. Best post-IM, heck, post-race trip planned EVER!

8 Thingies I did yesterday:

1) Practiced writing
2) Bike + Run workout (4 hours total?)
3) Told my ART therapist that I would rather be giving birth. To which he replied, "You're the fifth woman who has said that..."
4) Ran errands: Petsmart for stuff for kitty cleaner, grocery store for diet coke and feminine products...the essentials.
5) Deadheaded the Jasmine plant - by far the MOST NEEDY plant that we've got.
6) Went to Barnes & Noble to look for a book, but got a different book.
7) Shouted at riders in the Giro d'Italia replay on though they could really hear me
8) Cleaned around the house - though you could NEVER tell (small sigh).

8 Thingies I would like to do:

1) Get over my fear of sharks. And the belief that I will be eaten within 30 seconds of going in the ocean past my hips.
2) Not be nervous whenever Nathaniel has a flight.
3) Figure out what I want to do with my life - this is a biggie. We move a lot - yes. And I've worked many different sorts of jobs in my life. Sometimes I wish we could be in ONE place, and I could settle down and figure out what it really is I wanted. I don't know if this is just a 1)military spouse thing - because many of my counterparts have managed beautifully 2) or the fact that there are so many different directions that I could go is it just a Marit thing? And its hard because I think about long term, and I really don't know where we'll be even in 3 years, 5 years... I have thought about going back to school - but for what? I love writing and literature, am fascinated by nutrition and exercise physiology. But what if I start a program and we move in the process? Or what if its just wrong for me and I waste a lot of time, energy, effort, and resources? So...I really would love to find my niche and run with it. It's out there... I just need to be patient and figure a few things out. Thoughts, ideas, suggestions? I'm always open...
4) Ironman. Yes, I'm jumping the gun on this... BUT...the first one I was supposed to do didn't happen. KNOCK ON WOOD - I'll be good to go for CDA and beyond. So it goes on the list.
5) Write a book
6) Travel with Nathaniel - races DO NOT count!
7) Keep my tomato plant alive (not looking so good at the moment)
8) Accomplish my season goals.

8 shows I watch:

1) Survivor (need I say more?)
2) The Office
3) The Amazing Race
4) That Crab Fishing Show Thingy with Nathaniel (Deadliest Catch)
5) British Comedy (when its on, even though we own a lot of the series)
6) Ghost Hunters
7) Anything sports related on Universal Sports or Versus (read: cycling, triathlon, swimming, track & field, bull riding if the timing is right and I'm trashed from a workout)
8) Football with Nathaniel

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Encinitas Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Okay folks, I'm under the clock. Literally. Remembter back in January...when I was challenged by my Other Half to take LESS time to write my race reports than to actually race? Well, I've got exactly 1:09:0? to write. So here we go...


We all knew that I was excited going into this race. It was tough yesterday - I just wanted to GO! And last night, well, that was hard. I went to bed after watching the Giro recap, woke up a few times, and finally decided that sleep was no longer possible at 2:51 am.

Yes, I woke up bright eyed and busy tailed at 2:51 am.

For a 6:52 am start. You do the math.

Regardless, I ate my usual pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and jar of baby food bananas. Yes, you read that correctly - baby food bananas. I blame Jen Harrison - but she was right when we discussed that there's just something so gross about a real banana. It's a texture thing. But they're so healthy...and really, the baby food isn't all that bad. So that too, was on the menu.

After getting dressed, surfing the web, sipping coffee, more web surfing, and looking for my watch that I never found (as I side note - I've NEVER raced without a watch, in particular this watch...its been with me since 2006), we were off. By 5:15 Nathaniel and I were rolling into Encinitas and figured that the Parking Gods must have been happy, as we got a great spot right near Roxy's Diner.

4 blocks from the transition area. Score!

Jen had warned me that I would need a VERY long warm up, so I quickly found my bike rack (Row 4!), confirmed that it was indeed the correct rack, got body marked, and set out for a long run. 3 miles + a few pick-ups later, my legs felt semi-decent. Not fast, no. Just....steady.

And strong. And solid. Perhaps a tad bit 'springy' - but I knew that would quickly be gone by the time I was running off the bike.

After the run, it was a quick 20-minute bike ride, where I was able to recon most of the course. The marine layer was quite thick, and it was at this point that I realized that wearing glasses probably wouldn't be a good thing if I wanted to see anything at all. I crossed my fingers and hoped that all the really big bugs were flying elsewhere and in sunnier places.

Finally, after re-wracking my bike, I wiggled into the wetsuit and walked down to the shore. I wanted to at least get wet...but didn't want to venture out too far a la shark bait (there - I said it!). Instead, I played in the waves, practiced diving under the surf, and found out the hard way that the hard packed sand under the water was EXTREMELY uneven. I chuckled under my breath as another fellow swimmer face planted directly next to me, only to find myself eating sand less than :10 seconds later. Classic.

Luckily, everyone around me was going down, so I was in good company.

The surf really wasn't that bad. The water was very calm beyond the surf zone. Just getting there was the hard part. Luckily the waves weren't that high. The morning surf report called for ankle to chest-high surf, but I'm sure a few were a bit bigger. At least they appeared larger as they drove towards my horizontal (and flailing) form. Tuck chin, hands over head, kick kick kick kick kick emerge breath!

Before I knew it, I turned around, caught a wave back in, and trudged up the beach towards the starting corral. After watching the first pro wave take off (where yes, several of them was a day for face plants, I swear), and the white-capped wave ahead of me run, I suddenly found myself lined up right in the front row awaiting my own start.

The waves were spaced 6:00 apart - so I was able to watch most of the professionals complete their swim before we set off. The current didn't seem that bad, and the race director warned that we should sight RIGHT on the yellow triangle in the distance, turn, and then sight RIGHT on the GIANT PALM TREE on the beach. As long as we headed for the tree, we would be great.

All right.

The final 3:00, 2:00, 1:00, :30, :10 count down... and suddenly, WE WERE OFF!

The Horn sounds and I run as fast as I can towards the surf. There is minimal contact between me and the girls next to me. I was grateful - first time doing a beach running start and I haven't been pummeled. I hit the waters edge and step step step PLOP! I face plant, my goggles come flying up, I've got sand in my eyes, and the girls that had been next to me are suddenly 10 feet ahead dolphin diving through the waves.

I pick myself up, quickly throw on the goggles and run (cautiously) out to sea. I swim strong and as bravely as possible through the waves. What seemed like piddly-little things from shore are suddenly monsters. I look up a few times and see a wall of water hurtling towards me. I duck under and kick with all my might - just like I've seen surfers do, and emerge unscathed. Again and again and again.

I know that the hard part is getting past the surf zone. And then once I'm out, I'm home free. It seems to take forever, but at last the wave surface height isn't so huge, and I get into a rythm. Immediately I spot three pink caps ahead and I work as hard as I can to bridge the gap. The swimmers to my right and left slowly fall away and I can no longer feel the tapping on my feet. A quick glance back while breathing confirms that I'm between packs on my own.

Like the lone zebra on the plain filled with ravenous lions.

I push the thought of sharks, and how they are oppourtunistic predators as far out of my mind as possible and re-double my efforts on cathing the trio ahead. Occasionally I see lifeguards guarding the course, and I think of them as guardians of the sea. They are wonderful and make me feel safe(r).

Soon, I'm rounding the buoy and heading back to shore. I'm still alone and I don't feel like I've made up any ground on the swimmers ahead. But I don't give up. I look up every few strokes and sight off the HUGE tree. Yes, it's as big as the RDs promised, but it still seems so far. I'm 1/4 mile out and between packs. On my own.

And then I swear that I see a shadow under me. But I can' be sure. It's probably just the salt water stuck in my goggles from my earlier face plant. But it's still unnerving. A few strokes later I swear that I see it again. I have brief flashes of bright red blood and scary things - but I keep going. There is absolutely nothing I can do at this point.

Besides - I know for a fact that bull sharks (which thankfully aren't native to these waters) can sense an increase in heart rate...and thus can sense fear. I wonder if Great Whites have the same sensory cues. All sharks are different...


Suddenly I realize the waves are getting bigger and I'm rising and then falling every few strokes. I'm entering the surf zone and if I time it right - I can catch a wave and ride it in. I look back every few strokes and kick hard to catch a big one - but it just passes me. I fall down the back side, the palm tree disappearing completely and work hard to catch the next one. This one I get! It works - and I suddenly find myself touching the sand with my hands.

I've made it!

I look behind me to make sure I don't get knocked over by the surf and half-run, half-gallop my way up the beach. It's not pretty - but at least I only face planted once.

I see the pink caps ahead and they don't seem too far. The sand is soft and I quick step through it, but if feels welcome on my toes. I find my wetsuit cord and unzip myself as I'm running, managing to get my arms out of the sleeves before I hit the steep walkway up the cliff to the transition zone. I know there's another pink cap girl from my wave right behind me and I want to keep her there. A few times I grab the railing to pull myself forward, figuring that I won't need my arms for the bike and run...

I thank as many volunteers as I can, sight my rack off the end of the port-o-potties, find the bike and pull off the rest of my wetsuit. This time I don't have to sit on the ground to get it off - I just get it off while standing up. The first time ever! But I know time is important - I can't admire my wetsuit handiwork. Wetsuit tossed aside, I put on my bike shoes, throw on the helmet, grab the bike and run out of the transition zone.

Clip clop clip clop clip clop clip clop....

My bike shoes rattle as I run in them. Nothing I can do about the no-bike-shoes-attatched-to-bike-frame rule out here. No matter that I've been practicing the fancy and uber-cool looking ITU-style bike mount. No time for that today. I cross the timing chip, throw my leg over the bike, shoes already on my feet, clip in and GO.

Immediately I put my head down. This is going to hurt and I don't care. There are two girls that I know of from my age group ahead - I passed one in transition. But I know that there were a few others hot on my heels, and I didn't want to give them the opportunity to pass me early on. 12.4 miles of biking... it passes by so fast.

I focus on the course, hit a few bumps, and am happy that I don't have any rear-bottle cages. The bottles would be LONG gone. Instead, the drink sits comfortably on my down tube - accessible for a few sips during the race. But I don't drink yet. I know my heart rate is sky high - no heart rate monitor needed for that one. I give myself 5 or 6 minutes before my first sip.

The course seems to fly by. I'm in the heart of residential Encinitas, and suddenly I'm passing the Swami's beach on 101. I see the two girls in my age group ahead, and I make it my mission to pass them fast and hard - without giving them an opportunity to 1) register that I'm in their age group and 2) respond to my pass. Decisive! is the name of the game.

I hammer forward, keeping my breathing steady and silent. My race wheels are the only sound as I power by, keeping my head down and gripping my aero bars. I hurt, but I'm also ecstatic. This is what it's about: making peace with the pain, embracing the hurt, pushing through, and finding yourself during the hard times. There is a certain joy, an incredible happiness of my being when I focus on the road ahead, using my legs to power me forward.

I work hard to the turn around and realize that for the first time I'll have the chance to sneak a peak at the girls behind me. True to form, one of the girls I had pegged to be a threat was hot on my heels - maybe 15 second behind. But I wasn't so sure.

I keep my head down and work the slight uphill, recalling Palomar mountain and all the rides I've done that have just HURT. And I'm grateful for those rides - because as much as it is hurting me right now - I know that IF the girls behind me want to pass, they'll have to work that much harder. Because I'm not going down without a fight.

Because I'm not going down.

I spot another girl ahead and am confused - was there someone else in my wave?

No matter - I will do what I can to catch and pass. Another target ahead and I work hard while turning inland towards the city blocks leading back to transition. I come up to her and suddenly see the "P" on the back of her leg. I've just passed a pro on her second loop and now I'm a little bit in disbelief. She's just spinning it out - getting ready for what will surely be a fast run.

I thank the volunteers at the turn, loop around the block without seeing any of my competition, and take my turn at loop number two.

I blank out, instead focusing at high power, high turnover, and watching in amazement my miles per hour. Anytime it dips below 21, I try HARDER to get it back up. And I do - the legs respond. I find myself back on 101 passing a lot of people. The course looks really great, and I'm really happy to see little if no drafting. It IS possible to race clean - and that makes me happy.

I hit the turn and notice that I've got about a 20 second gap on the same girl. She's still there, still lurking. But she hasn't bridged up to me and that gives me confidence. I redouble my efforts and call her bluff. Maybe she's saving herself for the run?

Briefly, I worry about how my run legs will respond, but quickly push the thought aside. I need to GOGOGO! This is supposed to hurt, supposed to be hard. Sprints are FAST - all out on every discipline. And the person who can put together the best swim-bike-run will win. Plain and simple. SO it was her job to catch me. But I was going to make it as difficult as possible.

Rounding the final corners into the transition, I think about being FAST and speedy. Sprints can come down to seconds... and I don't want to loose anything. I slip my feet out of the shoes, soft pedal half a blog, dismount ITU-style at the line, and sprint in. My bike seat is slippery with sweat and I almost loose my bike in the bushes - but I hang on. I know exactly where my rack is, by the festive lei that is draped around the corner five rows in.

I toss the bike on the rack, happy to see that its empty. The bike is racked at a weird angle, but I don't have time to worry. The helmet is off - I must have thrown it on the ground. Running shoes are on and I scoop up my hat - filled with my glasses, race belt, and gel.

Before I know it, and before anyone else can join me, I'm running out as hard as I can. I stuff my gel - unopened - in my mouth while I throw on my hat and put my glasses over the top. They are wet anyway...but I think it looks cool. I'm still holding my race belt - I haven't had time to put it on.

Suddenly the water table is RIGHT THERE and I yell 'WATER' and say THANKS! as loud as I can. A few sips and I'm going. The legs don't feel great - but they are responding. I strap on my belt mid stride and now I'm on in earnest. Quick uphill, left turn, slight downhill, slight right, and then a LONG stretch to the turn around point 3/4 of a mile down the road. I know the girls are right behind me and I've got very little time...

I must go now, and it must be fast.

I focus ahead and just run. Turnover, legs, go, go, go. Push past - but I'm not in a lot of hurt. My legs don't feel particularily fast - they are just there. I keep pushing, take a sharp right up a steep hill to the turn around and run down.

At the bottom I see the girl who has been behind me the entire time, and I realize that the corner is the perfect time to drop her. I throw in my first 'surge', focusing on lengthening my stride while keeping my cadence the same. And it seems to work. I relax into my stride and by the time I hit the first mile, I fee like I've found my groove.

Before I know it, I'm rounding a few corners and I see Nathaniel. They're right behind me I yell. He says something, but I don't know what. He looks great, and I find myself in a very surreal moment. I'm running HARD and in a RACE and suddenly the love of my life is right there. I'm hurting and he looks so cool, calm, collected. Very odd.

I make the turn past the finish line and head out for the second loop. Before hitting the water stand, I toss my plastic cup towards the bin: I've been holding it for the first 1.5 miles - I don't want to litter on the course. I miss the shot, but grab a cup from the first volunteer. He can't be more than 12 and is SO EXCITED to have made the hand off. I yell THANKS! take a few sips, and toss my cup towards the final garbage bin and keep going.

I am determined to HURT for the second loop. I've finally found my stride and my legs have come around. It took 10 minutes...but they are here NOW! I am passed by a skinny, tall kid in a 2XU suit with the number 14 on his calf. He is half my age and kicking my ass in the run.

But NO! I won't let him! Without thinking, I hang on his shoulder, letting him pull me as fast as he can along the course. Its not easy and I can feel the effort in my lungs - but its a good feeling. It's the feeling of hard work, of leaving my competition behind, of going beyond the pain and into the euphoric bliss of a race-induced zone.

Yes, it hurts. But I am above it now, floating along but working hard, resolved to DO THIS THING. His tempo quickens as he sees a fellow age grouper and I struggle to stay with him. I will not let him pull ahead.

We hit the turn around and I'm anxious to see where the other girls in my age group are. I don't see any for a while - maybe a few blocks. There was a pass - a girl in an AVIA kit has passed the girl that was close behind me on the bike. She's looking strong - but I know that she's run out of room. I will not let her pass me with less than 3/4 mile to go. Not today. No way.

I stick to my guy and resolve to keep going FAST. There are other age groups that started behind me - and I know that the ladies in this area are really fast. I redouble my effort and resolve. A quick left and suddenly I hear my name.

Go Marit GO!

I girl in a San Diego Tri Club jersey calls my name while running the other way. I don't know who she is - but am touched by her cheer. I held back emotions as I made the final turn. 3 blocks to the finish - I can see the banner.

But there's also another girl in a pink top. I think she's probably on her first loop - but just to be sure I pick it up and surge past her with one block to go. You just never know...

And then the line. I hit it and stop - grateful to have finished. I hear the announcer call my name and say something about this being the third fastest female time of the day. But I know there are fast waves behind me and many people still to finish. The volunteer offers to take my chip - but I don't want her bending over my sweaty and gross legs/feet.

My shoes smell like death, so I do the honor of handing her my chip while thanking her. I see three kids handing out medals and take mine with thanks.

I am tired, but feel elated. The post-race euphoria that is indescribable... I am happy, emotional, and just, well - so grateful for the moment. My second race back, and I'm... happy.

I see Nathaniel and give him a hug...

Overall it was a great race. I had such a great time - racing, thanking the volunteers, and just being out there.

Later, I met Jen and Stacey - Stacey being the SDTC athlete who yelled my name on the course. They were so fun to chat with - both happy with their races. It was fun sharing our race experiences and learning a little about them. THANKS again to Stacey - you are awesome! And I'm happy that you had a great race.

Overall, I ended up feeling great about my race - I didn't get eaten by a shark, I kept my bottles on the bike, and I managed to (almost) hang on the shoulder of a young lad half my age during the run. A great solid effort that reminds me of all the GREAT things about this sport. In the end, I finished 3rd overall - a pleasant surprise. The award? A GREAT watercolor of Encinitas and a beer glass that says "I AM FAST" across the top.

Fill it with beer, and I'll show you how fast! :)

Thanks to everyone for a great race and a super day. It was wonderful meeting so many volunteers and athletes alike. And yes - for those inquiring minds - we DID get donuts afterwords. But that deserves a post all by itself.

Congratulations to everyone racing this past weekend AND to the loved ones who support us in this crazy sport.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My new lucky number is...


HOORAY! Tomorrow I get to race the Encinitas Sprint Triathlon. And, if you haven't already figured it out, my number is (drum roll, please...) 179.

So...because I like lists...

Here are 179 things that I'm looking forward to.

Just kidding.

Actually, I'll limit it to 17.

Why 17?

Well - if my math is correct, 1 + 7 + 9 = 17. Yes, I loose count in the pool doing a 150, but I CAN figure out rudimentary math when necessary. Plus, my sister was born on the 17th of October, so its bound to be lucky, eh?

So... 17 random things about tomorrow - enjoy!

1) Racing. I LOVE it. I love to push myself, to go fast, to go beyond what I though possible. I've made peace with the pain, will focus on my POWER words, and am ready to just let 'er rip.

2) Nothing like eating breakfast at 4 am for your 6:52 wave start.

3) Hearing the 'whomp whomp whomp' of disc wheels. Music to my ears!

4) Running as fast as I can into the water and SWIMMING! In spite my fear of Unmentionables, I really DO love open water swimming. And with all the hard work I've done at Masters, I've discovered that the swim part of triathlon is actually kind of neat.

5) Because of a previous wardrobe malfunction (ie - dismounting my bike at 15 mph while sporting a swimsuit...the crowd of people saw a LOT more of me than they bargained for) dating back a few years, I'm looking forward to my tri shorts and rowing top. Yes, rowing top. Regatta Sport, actually. And its quite comfortable.

6) Nothing like body gliding the back of your neck, feet, and shoes to prevent chafing. I swear that my wetsuits hate me. But the shoes - well - I can hold out for up to 10k with no socks. Anything more, and I'm a fan of socks... But body glide works wonders...

7) I LOVE the festive atmospheres of triathlon events. Most everyone is excited, eager, and looking forward to the day. And those others...well... if someone is rude, I figure that they're just constipated. And let's face it: wouldn't you be upset race morning if you couldn't use the bathroom? Yeah, I thought so.

8) Post-race, I promised Nathaniel we could stop off at the Leucadia Donut Shop that I frequently run by on LONG runs, or ride by. The ONLY time I hope for a flat is near that donut shop early in the morning. The smells, fresh, goey donuts. Yum. I have NO idea what I'll get, because quite honestly, I can't remember the last time I was in a donut shop.

9) Post-race "ice bath" via Pacific Ocean. The water temperature is a 'whopping' 65 degrees. Not quite the ice bath level that I'm accustomed to - but let's face it: I'm in Southern California and I'm not complaining. Not one bit.

10) Tomorrow afternoon Nathaniel and I are heading out to Hillcrest for some great Thai food and to meet up with Dr. Shannon and Dr. Stephen. And I can't wait!

11) I love the fact that this race is just about FUN! I love racing - I really do. But there's just something so real about local shorter distance stuff. After focusing on the IM distance this year, and the half IM distance back in 2007, I've realized how much I miss just going out and well, racing. It's fun, it's local, I can sleep in my own bed the night before and day of the race... And I just get to go out and have a great time with local athletes. YEA!

12) In addition - this is a NO PRESSURE race. Nothing to qualify for, nothing to worry about in terms of special needs bags...I'll race and hopefully be done somewhere between 70 and 80 minutes. So that makes it EXTRA fun.

13) The layout of the course is extremely spectator friendly. I'll get to see Nathaniel a grand total of 5 or 6 times if 1) I'm looking for him and 2) he positions himself in the right areas. But who knows? I tend to space out a bit when I'm either 1) in a lot of pain 2) really focused 3) trying to chase someone down. You know how it is...

14) Hand sanitizer. Yes, there are port-o-potties and no, I don't believe they have hand sanitizer IN said port-o-potties. So I carry my own in my transition bag. Always.

15) I absolutely LOVE cheering for people after I've finished my race. Usually I'll go out on the course and cool down - cheering for as many people as I can. I enjoy watching people push themselves and accomplish new things. There is something so real, so human in that endeavor.

16) I'm grateful that Nathaniel will be there with me. I'm so lucky that he's as supportive as he is, and its tough when I'm on my own. I'm looking forward to a post-race hug!

17) THIS WILL BE MY FIRST SPRINT TRIATHLON SINCE MAY OF 2007! I'VE GOT ALL THIS PENT UP ENERGY JUST WAITING TO BE UNLEASHED! IN JUST OVER 10 HOURS FROM RIGHT NOW I'LL BE LINING UP IN THE CORRAL...AND I JUST WANT TO GO!!! (Can you tell that I didn't have a long ride today? Absolutely amazing all the extra energy one has from NOT going out for a 6+ hour long ride... :)

CHEERS to everyone racing this weekend - Saturday AND Sunday! Have a great race, be safe, and enjoy!

Now... Tally Target Acquired. Game on.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Post ART and Unmentionables...

Well, my legs didn't fall off or anything uber-dramatic after my ART therapy last Tuesday. In fact, well, they feel pretty springy.

Not exactly sure that 'springy' and 'Ironman' training should be allowed in the same sentence, let alone the same realm, but there you have it.

Furthermore...(yes, there is more)...the left side - which received significantly more ART than the right - feels a lot better than the right. Woa. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. And during today's transition run, I was pleasantly surprised at how eventually the legs came around.

I say eventually, because as of late, it takes longer and longer (and longer) for my body to really get warmed up and acclimated to the task at hand. Running takes the longest. Something about carrying all of your own body weight sans pool or two-wheeled self-propelled vehicle, I guess...Once I've actually reached that desired warmed-up state, then I feel as though I could go forever. Um, another product of Ironman-training, I'm told.

So in the mean time, I'll stick with the ART, thanks. Even if I blurt out mid calf-flush that, "I'd rather be giving birth RIGHT NOW!" Suffice to say, I wouldn't last long under torture. But when it gives this Ironperson-in-training 'springy' legs six weeks out from the Big Race, well, I'm sold.

Not that I'm counting or anything.

In other news, I'm doing a local sprint race this Sunday and couldn't be more excited! Cue: me jumping up and down! I get to race (knock on wood!). My last sprint triathlon was in May 2007, out in Panama City Beach, Florida. Wow. 2 years... I realize that my warm-up will singlehandedly be longer than the actual race itself. It takes me oodles of time to get warmed up at this point....

So a 30 minute run + 30 minute bike + 20 minute swim. Well...that will feel like forever. Then again, swimming for 20 minutes requires that I physically get into the ocean. And we all know how I feel about the Critters in there. Especially the Unmentionables with Really Big Teeth. They are there. And They are waiting.

One of my good friends out here - Dr. Shannon (CONGRATULATIONS ON EARNING YOUR PhD, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!) - joked that by doing the race I would HAVE to get in the ocean to swim. She's been trying to get me to do a La Jolla Cove or Shores swim with her. But there's just something about the Open Ocean and the Things In It that completely freak me out.

I blame my overly-active imagination. Cultivated, I might add, by a morbid curiosity as a child. Nope, curiosity didn't kill this cat (yet - again, knock on wood), but it sure as hell scared it.

I'm fine with lakes. I love lakes. Even the alligator-infested on that I did an open-water swim in last year (I didn't find that tidbit out until AFTER I had finished my solo cool-down swim. Only then did the race director joke about the resident population.) - was at the time (before I found out about the buggers) great.

So what is it about the Ocean?

Well, it's not really the Ocean itself. I LOVE the ocean, have always been drawn to the waves, the smells, the sound. Nope - its just the Unmentionables with Really Big Teeth. Damn, I knew that I shouldn't have watched Jaws countless times as a kid. When I was three I complained about taking a bath, claiming that, "sharks will come through the drain!"

It's true. They do.

Drain Sharks.

And every pool and mega-sized bath tub has them.

So, there you have it.

Come Sunday, I'll be the girl doing the ridiculously long warm-up, probably still sporting a few bruises on my legs from an especially deep ART massage, and standing along the shore's edge swearing that each ripple is...well.... you know.

But once that horn sounds and I run full-stop into the water? Well - that's a different story all together. Game on! Because I've been waiting for this moment - chomping at the bit, ready to suffer, and excited about pushing myself harder than I though possible in a sprint triathlon - for a really really long time.

Let's just hope that the legs can catch up to where the heart and the head want to be. I have a feeling that, while it may be ugly and pretty painful, they'll do just fine.

Cheers to everyone racing this weekend! Good vibes, good luck, and GO GET 'EM!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

First time at ART

I need to get this out there, before I get to my post. I really don't like feet. In fact, I hate feet. They are stinky, gross, hairy (sometimes), sweaty, and generally disgusting. Yes, I realize that I don't have a very healthy relationship with feet - even my own. And this, in turn, has made me absoluteley cringe whenever anyone touches my feet.

I just don't like it.

You can touch my calves, the legs, the back - anywhere. Just not the feet.

And as such, I've only gotten one pedicure in my entire life. It was right before Nathaniel returned from one of his deployments, and I was doing all the 'girly' things possible to look great for his return. After a few minutes of the woman rubbing my feet before applying the polish, well... uncomfortable wouldn't even begin to describe how I felt. Suffice to say, it was the first and last pedicure that I've ever had.

So folks, remember: I don't enjoy my feet being touched. Period.


Yesterday, I had something done to me that was undeniably, one of the most painful things ever. Nope - not an epic workout (trust me, I would have preferred that), and no - I wasn't made to watch 'Daisy of Love' or anything horrendous like that. Instead, I had my first ever ART therapy appointment.

Active Release Therapy - for those of you who haven't shared in this pleasurable experience - is a technique through which the body is manipulated while the muscles, tendons, and soft tissues (damaged by scar tissue from previous injury or through repetitive motion), are flushed via deep tissue massage. In layman's terms - the therapist is applying a deep tissue massage while you move your body according to their directions.

Okay - are we all on the same page? Good!

After asking around, Charisa gave me the info to a local ART Guru and I had soon scheduled an appointment. How bad could it be? I thought as I walked through the front door.

Little did I know of the pain that awaited me...

After filling in some forms - where does it hurt? - and a few waivers, I was told that Asher would be with me in a few moments. Nothing really hurt, per se, but my calves were tight and there was only so much rolling, flushing, pinching, and sticking that I could do to myself (self-massage is painful!)

Typical Ironman training, I suppose. Because I do so little speed-work, I really haven't suffered the same sort of injuries that were so common in the past (IT band, hamstring, etc). Knock on wood. Yes, I'm superstitious. Instead, there's just a lot of buildup of lactic acid and the muscles occasionally get pretty tight.

A few minutes later, I was following Asher back to his office and we had a quick chat about my training, how I use my body, where I was experiencing pain (tight calves, mostly on the left side), and past injuries. He seemed really nice, pretty gentle actually.

The massage therapist that I went to in Pensacola was a little different. Shelley was awesome, but you could tell that she meant business when she cracked her knuckles and demanded, "So where does it hurt?" Besides, she was built like a linebacker, and had no problem squishing the knots out of my lateral quads. My hands still get sweaty when I think about how painful her deep tissue massages were.

But they were bloody well effective, though.

Asher just seemed really nice, totally incapable of hurting a fly. We chatted about Ironman - how I've never done one, but am training for two this year, and how he was one of the ART guys at Kona last year - and then he asked me to stand and take off my sandals.

After assessing my stance, and checking my pelvic structure for imbalance, he had me hop on the table, face down. He handed me a small pillow an told me to hold on. Okay, I though, as I grasped the thing under my chin. I knew it would hurt - but really, let's be serious. If I could survive Shelley, I could survive anything.

Five minutes later, and I wasn't so sure. He had gone a few times over my calve, and per his instructions, I was pointing and flexing my foot with each flush of the muscle he did. Through it all, I had tried to keep the conversation going - I have a bad habit of either talking A LOT when I'm nervous, or shutting down completely.

So I asked him question OUCH after CRAP THAT HURT question SHIT SHIT SHIT after F*&$! question. Maybe I though I could distract him from the task at hand? But alas, no.

"You know I'm going easy on you, because this is your first time in ART, right?" He asked.

I couldn't tell if he was joking or not. So I laughed. Nervously.

Then he had me change positions - I was on my side, and feeling very vulnerable. And only with a little plastic-pillow to grip, err, hold on to.

And it only got worse from there.

Suddenly I knew, that yes indeed! Asher WAS capable of harming a fly. In fact, he seemed to take a lot of pleasure in my pain. Yes, sir, I would like another! At this point, he was working on the lateral parts of my calf, while I was still pointing and flexing my foot.

For those still wondering - all conversation on my part had ceased. Asher, on the other hand, must have been used to people not talking due to extreme levels of pain, so continued chatting away. I have absolutely no clue about what he said OR how I responded. I was trying to not vomit from the pain. A small speck on the wall became my focus - but soon it became blurred with tears.

Yes, the man made me cry.

"Don't worry, it happens all the time," he assured me while I wiped my eyes and changed positions.

I think I tried to laugh, but was too petrified by his next comment:

"Okay - this is the part that's going to hurt. I'm sorry."


Excuse me??

Did he just say that 'this is the part that's going to hurt?'

I looked up at him, and could tell that he meant business. Instead of running full stop OUT of the office like my brain was telling me to do, I looked into his eyes and said, "Do what you have to do. I just want my calves to be knot-free."

The next ten minutes were pretty much a blur.

I remember that I was no longer capable of pointing and flexing my foot. Instead, Asher had to manipulate it with his leg while he pushed, squeezed, poked, and prodded my muscles. I think he even spoke to me, but I can't be sure. "That's it, just breath. Only 5 or 6 more and then your muscle won't be able to take this any more. I can feel it already. That's it. Point, flex, point, flex, breath."

I think between the tears, I started laughing. I didn't know what else to do: it hurt so much. At some point, I realized that he had my foot in his hand and was physically making my ankle flex and point, but there was absolutely nothing I could do. What surprised me even more - was that I didn't care.

The man had his hand all over my feet, and I just didn't care.

I guess pain will do that to you.

And for the record - he did it 8 more times, not 6 (at the max) like he promised. I counted. Hey - you've got to focus on something, right?

Just when I thought it was over, that my calves were flushed and I would be given permission to retreat from the damned table, he commented that my heel felt a little tight - and that he had just enough time to work on that.

Oh goody!

But instead of telling him no-thank-you, I gritted my teeth and said, "Just do what you have to do to make it better."

I re-gripped the soaking wet pillow, wiped my eyes, and prepared for the worst. It was even more painful than I expected. And from my heel! Sheesh! The one spot where I've never experienced pain before - who knew? A few choice words that come to mind, other than the four-letter kind?

It felt like the individual muscle tissues were being stretched, shaved down to their individual strands with a sharp knife, fired with a blow torch, and then made to move (point flex point flex point flex!!!! I know for a fact that Asher had both hands all over my feet, but I was beyond caring.

He could tell I was in pain, especially when (and trust me that I say I've NEVER made this comment before because child birth seems absolutely atrocious) I yelled, "I WOULD RATHER BE IN LABOR AND GIVING BIRTH THAN BE HERE RIGHT NOW!"

"Well," he responded, in a very cool and collect manner. "What book are you reading?"

"I DON'T KNOW," I yelled, clearly at my wits end. The man had his hands all over my feet and I just didn't care. "I'M ONLY 9 PAGES IN SO I CAN'T TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT IT. YOU'LL HAVE TO READ IT YOURSELF."

Pain can do that you you, I guess.

Afterwords, he had me walk down the hall. Immediately I noticed that my gait seemed more normal and my calves A LOT better. So much, so that my stride felt, well - great. It turns out, that the tightness in my calves had been causing me to slightly over-pronate on my left side. Hhhhmmmmmm.

This ART-thingy really does work.

"You should probably go for a walk - I got in there pretty good, and the last thing you want is to be really stiff tomorrow. Yes, a walk tonight will make you feel much better..." he replied as he walked me to the front.

In the end, I feel great for having gone through what was undoubtedly THE MOST PAINFUL massages of my life. I know that stuff like this works - and I'm all about doing what works to keep my injury-free and on the move. So I set up an appointment next week after the Encinitas Sprint Triathlon.


I know it will be painful - but hey... someone once told me that if I could survive the training for Ironman, I could definitely get through the race. Well - I've got news: if I can survive the ART therapy, I can do just about anything.

And so can you!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother's Day MOM!

Dear Mom,

Thanks for being my mom! I know that you haven't gotten the 'main' gift yet - but I wanted to also give you a tribute on my blog. I am so grateful that you're my Mom...and for all the wonderful things that you've taught me.

Let's take a look, shall we...

(cue dream-sequence-like music. probably a harp...)

You taught me how to be a good sister. Both Karyna and I survived our childhood and are now good friends.
Except for the second floor stair banister on the Como house, I think most things remained unscathed...

You taught me how to see the world from a different perspective.
And that things aren't always as they seem. And that's not bad - there is much beauty in things that aren't always recognized initially.

Vanocka. Yes - in my lifetime - I've probably eaten more Czech Christmas Bread dough than actual bread...but it was delicious! And now, I can make it myself.
Christmas (and Easter) wouldn't be the same without it. Sorry for taking so many samples as a child - your patience with me as a kitchen assistant was incredible. As was the foresight to have tums and alka-seltzer on hand when I became ill.

Thank you for having me write down my goals each year at the North Shore. It's something that I do to this very day...

In addition to the goals, I've added a few motivational words. It works! As testament to #3 on the list. I made this list back in 2007 when I wanted to stare at something during a particularly grueling bike trainer session.

You (and Patti) always encouraged me to try new things.
Even though they don't always work out... it doesn't mean you still can't have fun trying! (I only fell twice...luckily I wasn't going fast. I couldn't really get enough grip on the ice to go fast... man, those edges are small!)

What would life be like without being silly, or having fun? You taught me to be less serious - because sometimes I'm too much for my own good.
I may look like a dork - but at least I'm having a good time. And everyone else was amused as well...

You gave me an appreciation for art and music... and that is something that I will carry with me forever.
Every time I look at this picture, it makes me feel happy. I remember the April day the we got it...Nathaniel and I spent hours trying to figure out if we really wanted to pay THAT much money for it. And you supported us with thoughtful questions - and to this day I'm grateful that we got it (and two others...)

And you've supported my love for art and all-things-artsy in a very special way
I don't know what it is with me and teapots. I just love teapots... and Mom has really nurtured that love.

You've also taught me to go after the things that I want, but that the road won't always be easy.
Yes, life sometimes seemed like an uphill battle, but with your support I've always ended up on top. (Or else close to the top).
Kim and I, Palomar Mountain General Store. January 2009. COLD descent!

And you've taught me about love. I don't know how else to say it...
Better yet? You've loved this guy from the start - even though he was my first boyfriend ever, and even though he was in ROTC at the time, and even though I had only been in Madison for a week... nearly 9 years later and it's working beautifully. Yes, the Marine Corps thing is (still) a little weird to me - but he's really incredible. Thanks for making him 'one of yours'. He loves you too!

I love you Mom! I wish more than anything I could be up in Minnesota, spending the day with you and Dad. But we'll have to postpone the celebrations for another month until we meet up in Idaho (knock on wood). OKAY - EVERYONE PLEASE KNOCK ON WOOD!


Have a GREAT Mother's Day Mom - thanks for being my MOM!

PS - there were so many more things I could have added to the list... I hope you know that. Endless, really...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

There is always hope.

So far, my recovery week is going pretty darned good. It feels somewhat surreal to have only trained just under four hours thus far - but I'm not complaining. Nada. Not one bit. At all. Period. Zip, zero - well, you get the point.

Tabbitha, it seems, is a great example of what exactly to do when one is recovering. I've spied her at various points throughout the house, living life to the fullest and...sleeping. Somehow, she managed to squeeze her kitty girth under the bed - of which the frame sits a few mere inches off the ground. Don't ask me how. All I know is that bats are capable of squeezing through extremely small spaces. Apparently - so is The House Monster.

We really DO have monsters under our bed.

(The camera could barely fit between the bed slats and the ground, but I digress.)

In other news, at yesterday's Masters swim, I blew up spectacularly in the pool. Ka-POW! Someone (read: Coach Jeff) though it would be "great" to have a descending interval main set that encompassed 27 X 100. I wasn't laughing. Especially when no one else was willing to lead the lane.

Swim drama aside (read: no one willing to lead the lane or at least share the lead. And those brave sould willing to do so admitted that they wouldn't be able to make the interval towards the end. So I pulled up the Big Girl Pants and lead the entire set, all the while shooting evil-eyed looks at the swimmer(s) who spent half the workout doing back stroke with a pull buoy between their knees without an apparent care in the world - and then got out early - while I was working my tail-end off to just make the interval), by the time the third came around, I was toasted.

I didn't know if I could make the times on the board, but (literally) gave it my all. The first 4 X 100 I was on target, but then...WHAM! Any semblance of "good feeling" that I had was gone, and I literally had nothing left. My stroke became choppy, the water no longer felt smooth, and I felt as though I was swimming in thick Maple Syrup. The final 2 X 100s of the set were about survival - and I was going to toss in my chips once I hit the wall.

"I'm done. Gone. DOA." I gasped to Coach Jeff, who was walking around on deck, stop watch in hand.

"Good! You've reached your max! Here's what you're going to do for the final set."

What? Didn't he JUST hear me? I'm toasted! Burnt! Done! Did he just imply that I was going to swim the final set? Does he not realize that the pool water has just turned to sludge? My muscles to toast? Ha ha, that's funny!

But he continued talking.

"Make the first two on x:xx pace, take a :30 break, and then the last is an all out, max effort sprint. You can hang on for that long. Okay - at the bottom, let's go!"

And without pause for thought, I went.

It was exactly what I needed to hear, given m current state. I was tired from the workout, upset by the antics of a few of my fellow lane mates. But when Jeff barked orders, it quieted my own thoughts, shut down any whisper of doubts creeping across my mind. Instead the focus was on making the final two 100s, take a break, and then doing one more.

Lesson learned.

Its amazing what you can do when you turn your brain off and just GO. Just swim. Just stop all thinking and complete the workout at hand. I needed that reminder today - and I got it.

I suppose that there is always hope, one way or another.

Speaking of hope...

There are signs of life in our little tomato plant. Nathaniel and I re-potted the poor thing, gave it lots of water, and its been enjoying lots of time in the sunshine. No - it doesn't look all that great - but there's still (some) green and therefore (some) life left. You never know. I may not be a plant killer, after all. I'll keep you posted.

It just goes to show that we should never give up. Be it through Tabbitha managing to squeeze under an impossibly small bed, a hard swim workout or tomato plant on the verge of death. There is always potential, there is always hope.
(One more of Tabbs. Asleep, under the desk. And yes - that is the top part of a toy duck that Anabelle dragged from the top part of our closet and YES, those are Nathaniel's favorite pair of sandals. They are nuclear. Take my word for it - but apparently the House Monster doesn't mind. As for Anabelle? Zipping around too much for me to get a picture. Hence...the Mini Monster).

Monday, May 4, 2009

A little R&R...

(If ever I saw a cat that resembled a liquid, this would be it).

This week is a recovery week...starting TODAY with a rest day. I've got the entire day off... REPEAT: I'VE GOT THE ENTIRE DAY OFF FROM TRAINING! I don't think you realize how great this is. Because its truly awesome. And yes, I love training, love pushing myself, love the work involved with pursuing my dreams.



We ALL need a day off now and then.

So I'm taking a page out of Tabbitha's and Anabelle's book today.

Good stuff! Except I won't nap in the laundry basket. Um, yeah. That wouldn't work. But all systems are go for rest!

Congratulations to everyone who raced this weekend - conditions were hard and my hat goes off to anyone who can put themselves out there! Kudos and congrats! Here's hoping that YOU are enjoying your R&R as well.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quips from the ride...

Today I had my longest (to memory and date, I think) ride EVER. And, as it turns out, my butt isn't too sore and my bike is still in one piece. Bonus? In spite of entertaining the thought of calling Nathaniel when I was lost the second time, I didn't. I figured that the Pacific was in a Westerly sort of direction...and to get there I had to head...West.

Brilliant, I know.

Here are a few other thoughts, ideas, observations, and expletives from my ride today. Enjoy!

-At 56:12 in, my bike computer stopped working. I have no idea what happened, or why. I had just started climbing the San Elijo hill, and I looked down and WHAM! No watts, speed, or anything. Just blank numbers. Thank goodness my hr was on a separate system, because the LAST thing you want to see when glancing at a computer/hr monitor is a blank screen.

Yes, the heart was still pumping. All 172 beats per minute (its a long hill, and my heart rate gets pretty high...easily. Go figure). But for MOST of the rest of the ride I was riding sans bike computer.

-At the top of the REALLY BIG HILL I pulled over and allowed myself to freak out for 5 minutes. No computer...? And I'm riding LONG today...?? WTF! Bloody F*$#!!! Hell. And then I realized that cursing at the computer and tossing the bike over the cliff wasn't going to do ME any good. Not really the end of the world. Seriously. If anything, I would simply prolong my time being out - because eventually I WOULD complete Jen's prescribed time.

Even if it meant sliding down said cliff, retrieving the bike, hiking back up, and completing the route. And then I would just be covered in dirt and probably chased by rattlesnakes or something. Yuck.

-I DID see a squished rattlesnake in the middle of the road. Somewhere on Lilac or West Lilac. It didn't look good. And it smelled even worse than it looked. But it reminded me to stay AS FAR RIGHT AS POSSIBLE, lest I should become squished like a rattlesnake.

-A few weeks ago when I met with Charisa to talk about rides and routes, she gave me a list of "really good roads" to tackle that branched out from old Hwy 395. I wondered at the time how she could remember so many roads... Today I found out: They all had HUGE hills. Yeah - I would remember Circle R Road if I had to climb it for 20 minutes as well.

-I swear that the city of San Marcos did not like me today. Two bottles either dropped or bounced (out of the cages), a dropped chain, and glass embedded in my tire... I think I biked through the remnants of a windshield or something ominous. At least I stopped to pull out a few shards of glass from my front tire. Phew! Unlike after descending Palomar the other day - when (to my surprise) upon arriving home, I discovered a front flat tire thanks to one heckuva cactus thorn. That sucker went ALL the way through.

-People who bike without helmets are NOT very smart. Sure - no tan lines and you get to feel the breeze blowing through your hair. But seriously. Haven't we seen enough of what can happen when an unprotected head meets the pavement? Grow up. Sheesh. You make responsible cyclists look bad.

-Thank you San Diego Chargers fans! I'm not kidding when I say that EVERY car that passed me that had a San Diego Charges lightning bolt plastered on gave me a wide berth. And I was grateful. And now, I like SD Chargers. Not as much as Green Bay though...

-I was passed by two blokes wearing FULL Garmin-Chipotle team kits somewhere on Lilac just before Couser Canyon road. They had foreign accents and spoke English with a British accent. They reminded me of Spencer Smith, actually. And when they passed me not once, but TWICE (one stopped to fix his chain at the bottom of the climb - silly me... I asked if he was okay. He just looked at me weird) - they danced on their pedals. I wanted to stop and watch them climb.

Instead I had to focus on the task at hand: 1) not looking like a buffoon on the bike and 2) not sounding like a wheezing elephant. When your heart rate is at 175, it's pretty darned near impossible to mask the Darth Vadar-like sounds emanating from your person. Trust me.

They were brilliant to watch, though.

-There was only one point when I was ready to cry "uncle" and take a break from climbing. I had JUST descended into some valley down a really really LONG and STEEP hill, and realized that I had to go back up said hill and another and then another. Thankfully cell phone reception was non-existant, and Nathaniel didn't get a phone call.

-I got lost twice, stopped at a gas station just off the 76 once to ask for directions, and eventually wound my way through Vista and Oceanside before finding the San Luis Ray River Bike Trail. I was prepared to do what it took to get home, though. Yes, I had an extra gel with me (just in case I got's dangerous when I take new routes...but you've got to learn, right), but I was NOT planning on being on the bike any longer than necessary.

Thankfully 20 minutes was all the extra that I did.

-30 minutes though...and Nathaniel WOULD have received a call.

-I am getting some funky tan lines.

For some reason my arms are extremely sensitive to the sun - in spite of the gobs and gobs on sunscreen I apply. So I'll usually keep my arm warmers on at all times if I'm wearing a jersey. Everything from my wrist and up is great... but there is a clear line on the back of my hand to where the arm warmers started. It's one thing to have a jersey tan... but arm warmer tan? I know, I know - it could be a lot worse.

-Double Latte Powergel with 2X the caffeine tastes REALLY good 4 hours into the ride. Really, really good.

-I thought A LOT about people racing this weekend, and tried to channel as much energy and "good vibes" towards them as possible.

But not so much energy that I couldn't make it up a hill.

-Speaking of hills... While climbing Gopher Canyon Road, I spied a sign from afar that I THOUGHT read HolyHill Road. And all I could think of was The Caped Crusader and "Holy Hill Batman!"

Turns out the sign was for HollyHill Road. I chanced a glance and decided that HollyHill would best be appreciated from where I was at - Gopher Canyon Road and NOT via HollyHill Road.

-I left the house really early this morning, so that I could make it home in time for Nathaniel and I to visit a local brew pub before they shut the tasting room doors at 4 pm.

I made it!

And the beer sampler (because for those of you who know me, know that I enjoy the mini samplers...I'll never order a regular beer, no. BUT - if there's a small sample of each, consider me IN), was wonderful.

-I thought I recognized a familiar face, but didn't want to be weird and tell someone, "Hey aren't you James? I read your blog!" But I did anyway. And then Beth, his fiancee and local triathlete who ALSO has a blog came in, greeted me, and then turned to Nathaniel and said, "You must be Nathaniel!"

I think Nate was more taken aback than all of us. But in his defense - he has no idea who these people were, doesn't do triathlon, and doesn't have a blog. Yeah.

But they were really nice! It's always fun to meet other triathletes and put a face to the name...

-Beer sampler + LONG bike ride = early afternoon inebriation. Yikes. Which in turn equals late afternoon head ache. YIKES! You know... I've never craved a Bloody Mary - BUT, I could really go for one minus the alcohol. Throw in some olives and celery, and I would SO all over that.

-As I was turning from Tamarack onto the Coastal Highway (about 3 minutes into my ride), my thoughts were, "This is my LAST HARD WORKOUT FOR A WEEK! Let's make it a good one!"

And I did.