NEXT EVENTS: IRONMAN BOULDER 2014, Run Rabbit Run 50-miler

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

This blog is about my journey as an asthmatic, hypothyroid, formerly plus-sized endurance athlete. It's occasionally interrupted with things that have nothing to do with that or whining about my weight and horrible eating habits. "You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Saturday, August 27, 2005

2 More Weeks to go.

Let me just say that first of all, a HUGE thank you to the link to the webstie for "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" website provided to me by VA Vegan is the best laugh I've had all week. I'm going to get a T-shirt, I think, and wear it on the next jeans' day. After all, we take ourselves wayyyy to seriously sometimes. Me included.

THE Cotton Country Tri. 2 weeks to go. I'm still slooowwww. I can't tell you how slow I am; you woudn't appreciate it. But I'm moving, doggon it; I'm moving. I will finish. My time might be about 2 hours but I WILL FINISH. "As dog is my witless!" (That's an obscure reference to Angelica from the Rug Rats)

Let me furthermore say that I LOOOOVVVEEED DC because there's lots of food there. Mmmmm. I love food, hence my entry in the ATHENA division. I'm also a strict Veggie, which means I especially love well-prepared Vegan dishes. I recommend Chipolte's, Sunshine Garden in China Town, and some little East Indian restaurant whose name I forget and have to look up. I could live there, I think, albeit briefly; I WAS warned in advance about the HUMIDITY, but you don't appreciate or quite understand humidity until you're actually IN it. After we arrived home (after a brief layover in Houston, humidity=88%) our clothes were still sticky and damp. Ugh. I'm very spoiled.

Lastly, Running. I never though I'd like it so much. I had a day this week where I was out and out CRANKY, then I realized that with the trip and such I hadn't run in several days. I went and ran about 3 miles, boom, no more cranky. If you had told me last year I'd love running this much I'd have told you that you're out of your mind. No, I'd have said you're out of your F*&%ing mind.
Very busy week, what with classes, (teaching and taking) and counseling. Finally Friday I took off after teaching my last class and went to the audiologist and then for a nice, leisurely swim. Then I went to the Clinique counter and had my face played with and painted on. Then I meandered home and made some lovely Aloo Gobi. A very nice way to end the week, I think.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Welcome to Rio Rancho. Please set your watches back about 40 years.

Sometimes grownups just suck.

A rare political moment. Ahem.
I've been out late tonight because I was at a local school board meeting. It still hasn't sunk in, that the proposition has now passed. School board policy #401: We will be required to consider alternative views of the origin of the universe when teaching science. Never mind that two of the five board members are leaders of a local fundamentalist church, and are not trained in research or science. Never mind that, of the people who spoke, over 20 were against the policy and about 5 (nearly all were members of his church) spoke out in favor of it. Of the over 20 that spoke out against it, there were veteran science teachers with advanced degrees in their fields, biologists, engineers, and theologians (including at least two ministers and a philosopher). Still, all had their agenda to push and they pushed it. I'm still kinda in shock. I didn't really think it would happen. I've checked out "intelligent design theory" and I still haven't found evidence to support it. Just sacred texts. Those belong in the humanities, not in science class.

Maybe the problem is in knowing what a theory is. A scientific theory is a idea that has been tested under a variety of conditions, types of tests and observations. It's not just an "idea". If something isn't tested, it's just a hypothesis. I may have a "theory" that the sun is a giant yellow balloon, but without data and evidence and empirical to support it's really just my fantasy, my idea. When you test it, you get data that supports it or not. In other words, "show me the numbers."

I'm tired of all the grownups putting kids in their political tug of war contests. A kid should never be a test case or be used to push political agendas. Fight your own stupid fights. It's hard enough being a kid without having to be a political statement, too.

Interestingly, the National School Board Association has a specific guideline, about not being swayed by "special interest groups;" as well as to "avoid being placed in a position of a conflict of interests". So the question is, does being a paster of a local church AND introducing and pushing an agenda to introduce intelligent design in school violate those ethics? Hmm. Interesting question.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Dateline, Soccoro - The Chili Harvest Triathlon

I started my new year of teaching Friday. I've got some good kids, I think, this year. 90-some-odd wiggling 8th-graders in various stages of maturity and self-consciousness. My first period class is the Honors students. They are very funny: all tense and serious and ready to learn on the first day of school. Out of all 90+ kiddos, I asked them all to fill out information about themselves, and one girl told me that she had done two triathlons and wanted to do more. Then the school day was over, and I went to pick up Husband and take off for Soccoro, NM, the 10th (I think) annual chili harvest triathlon.

I'd been sort of dreading being there in August. However, a cold front blew through that day and it rained and cooled things off.. I'm still speaking as a spectator, since my first race is 4 weeks away. It rained like crazy (a real "frog strangler", said the coordinators). For some reason, there seemed to be more tension, but maybe that was my imagination. It does seem that there are people who are new to triathloning who skip the pre-race meeting, don't read anything about rules, and then get penalties when their spouses and kids come into the transition area and help them out during the race, or they cross the center line, etc. Penalties are the worst that can happen, though, when crossing the center line. (shiver). Luckily for them about 99% of the people involved in this sport are super nice, super supportive, and super helpful! And we all have to start somewhere, right?

Soccoro is only an hour or so south of Albuquerque on I25. It's a small New Mexico city, a little old and rough-looking in spots, home to New Mexico Tech. Friday night, we were driving the bike route, but the street names didn't match the directions. Luckly, there were arrows. Bumpy, bumpy, bumpy. Water running over one part in the road. I think there was some anxiety about what tomorrow would bring, because it looked like it might drizzle all night. We grabbed an umbrella and walked from our hotel over to the Socorro Springs Brewing Company, which had what appeared to be tons of different kinds of beer - I'm not a beer drinker, so I'm just going from the menu - wood-fired quisine, and an espresso bar. Frommers refers to it as a "little pocket of sophistication" in Socorro. Most of all, they had lots of pasta for the pre-race meal.

The next day, however, it had dried up some and they cleaned up the route. After the race, I took some pictures of the little-bits who ran in the children's tri. Very cute. I'll post them when they get developed. After I take them to Wal-Green's. Of course, I'll blur any baby faces so that everyone's safe. It was cute to see moms and dads in the kiddie transition area tying their shoes and giving them a good push as they took off on their bikes. They all got medals for finishing.

Favorite shirt there: "Triathlon Virgin. Be gentle" tied closely with an "Oscar the Grouch" cycling jersey worn by a guy whose name happens to be Oscar.
Dog count: 13. All on leashes, although it was rumored that there was a pit bull running loose. Some barking and fighting. I'm keeping track of this to prove my point that there is will be an increase in the number of dogs being taken out to public places.
Friendliness count: 100%. As usual!
Looking forward to trying this one next year!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A brief flirt with the "I want a baby" syndrome.

I got to see my new nephew for the first time last night. This was satisfying, because although I have one grandchild, I see her rarely. Then the baby, who I will call CJ even though I'm pretty sure his parents will hate it, threw up and all went home. I'd forgotten how cute, cuddly, and earnest babies are. I asked Husband if having a cute baby around made him wish we had one, and he replied, "I see lots of things that are cute, but that doesn't mean I want them in my house". Good point. I feel that way about ferets.

Now, before you accuse me of being anti-child, know that I have three children. I have my youngest (age 14) still at home, but he walks upright, feeds and burps himself. For this I am grateful. He's a good kid. I have a daughter, 18, who is currently trying to decided between the mental health industry or medicine. My oldest, a son is stationed at Ft. Bliss, and trying to decide what to do next. El Paso is also where my grandchild is. I don't think D-I-L cares for me much, so I don't get to see my granddaughter often.

It's amazing that I ever had children. I was practically an only child, with my sister being 9 years older. I don't share well, and I don't like people touching my stuff. (Come to that, it's amazing I'm a teacher: I have a giant office where 90 people tromp through daily and not only do they touch my stuff, but they wipe gum on it and throw trash on the floor. But I digress.) I was also looking around at how child-un-friendly my home it is. Lots of glass and things at floor level. Cats, who attack everything that moves. A baby would wreak havoc, and upset the cats. In 13 years a baby would start eating all my favorite cereal, telling me that I'm full of it and where to get off. I'm pretty sure at age 53 that is not what I want to hear. What I'd like to hear at age 53 is something like, "My grandma is so cool. She runs in triathlons, watches Southpark, and curses."

On a similar subject, I've been reviewing a book for potential clients about parenting a teenage girl. It's called, "When we're in public, pretend you don't know me".

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The return of ANGRY MAN.

I just got back from being cheerleader at the Tall City Tri in Midland, Texas. Husband placed in the Clydesdale division. He asked me if it was different watching one now that I'm training for one, and it was. I'm kind of a bibliophile, so I've been reading, reading, reading; at tris, I walk around watching people. Hmm, he's slapping the water too hard on his stroke. Wasted energy! Hmm, she could have saved a few seconds by getting some of those elastic thingies for her shoes. Not that I would have beaten them....but, it was a new way of looking at things. It was a beautiful day in Midland, and Midland is a nice, nice place to visit. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

On a fun note, ANGRY MAN was there. I first saw ANGRY MAN at the Odessa Tumbleweed Tri where he ran past the judges at the finish screaming about how poorly the course was marked. He was one of the first finishers, but threw a tantrum while his wife stood by quietly, waiting. She did not look surprised. It was all very dramatic. He yelled about how much time he'd lost until he was finally warned about possible penalties and the big D-Q! Then he back-pedaled and apologized. No one else complained about the course; I know, because I was right at the finish with my pom-poms, cheering. In any event, ANGRY MAN was at the Tall City Tri; he came running up to me right after he passed the finish line on the run, which involved running several laps.
"ARE YOU COUNTING THE LAPS THAT PEOPLE MAKE?"
I looked him square in the eye, chewed my gun, and said, "Um, no".
"AREN'T YOU ONE OF THE RACE OFFICIALS?"
"Um, no," I repeated.
"WELL, YOU LOOK LIKE ONE". True, I was standing near the tent for shade, but all the officials were wearing one of the triathlon t-shirts, grass skirts, silly hats and carried 2-way radios. I, instead, was appointed in my supportive wifey ensemble of skort, t-short, cap, and camera. Oh, and a hula-hoop. ANGRY MAN ran off, looking for someone else to ask loud questions at, while wife waited, quietly. I'm fascinated by this. I want to start carrying cards from the counseling center where I work so that I can hand them out to people who are in the throes of road rage. Or tri rage, as in this guy's case.

And, oh, heavens, there were NO competitors in the Athena division in this race! I could have showed up, done a lazy backstroke, a complete change of clothing and maybe a nap at T1 and T2, coasted on my bike to Sonic and had french fries, then ambled past the finish line and still taken first place in the Athena division.

One thing neat about this tri was that it had a separate kids event. At one point, there was a little girl riding long, on her little pink bike (plastic basket, streamers, and coaster brakes) while her watchful parent rode slowly alongside her. I think she even had training wheels. There was also a team that took a prize and consisted of a boy and his two sisters, and all appeared to be under the age of 15. All-in-all, very cool, and lots of eighties music!! The course was mostly flat, with the nice Midland police stopping all local traffic for the bikers.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New classroom, new swimming PR

Okay, so I went to check out my new classroom today - it's HUGE but there's only 8 tables. I expect to have 30-ish students. That means 4 students per table. I guess I can adapt. What's cool, though, is that I have sinks in there. neat-o! I started putting up all my warm-and-fuzzy posters. You know the kind that teachers put up, motivational messages with bright colors that say things like, "Positive attitudes only beyond this point!" and, "today is a great day to learn something new!!"

In training news, I upgraded my "goals" section (on the left). I honestly thought that I'd barely be able to get to 500 meters without stopping by September 10th. However, I did my training program for swimming today, and I did 6 sets of 75 meter runs, practicing my flip turns, and 4 sets of 50 meter runs. Now quick, add that up. No fingers! After each run I did about 20 seconds rest. After I was done I squinted up at the clock (very nearsighted, you see) and then I frowned: surely that couldn't have just taken me 15 minutes? But it did! So now in an attempt to challenge myself, I've made my new goal 10 to 15 minutes with no rests.

Now, here's a question I've been harassing everyone with all week. If I can go to Wal-Green and get a pair of reading (far-sighted) glasses without a prescription, why can't I get a pair of nearsighted glasses without prescription? Speedo has started making optical swim goggles for nearsighted people, and you can buy them without a prescription. Why can't I get a pair of nearsighted glasses without going to an opticical dispenser? You can't tell me that creating a pair of nearsighted glasses costs what they're charging me, and why can't they be mass produced? I'm cranky, because I want a pair of cool aerodynamic sunglasses, but the prescription ones are reallllly expensive. I've been nearsighted since I was 10. I finally sent a copy of this question to the national eye institute and the american board of optometry. We'll see what they have to say.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I ran a whole 5 minutes straight!

Wow! I had to put in a short post today, because I'm so excited! Last week, when I was writing out my training plan for this week, I saw that my running plan called for alternating 5 minutes running with 3 minutes walking. I was pretty amused by that. As I said to the people around me me--who, bless their pea-pickin' hearts, are probably sick of me talking about this--"I've never run that long in my adult life. There's NO WAY". But you know what? I did it! And it didn't kill me! As the saying goes, it may have even made me stronger. Woo-hoo! Now, don't mock me - this is a HUGE step for the queen of the couch.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Ideas for the cycle figurehead.

So far, I've been doing online research for my ideas for the figurehead that I mentioned previously. I've collected two Rosie O'Donnel dolls, made in the Barbie tradition but without her heroin-chic freako body. To the left, you can see a picture of her unclothed in comparison to regular Barbies. Much more reasonably proportioned. In looking up stuff, I found that there is a whole cult of people who do 1:6 figure artistry. I'm not planning anything that elaborate, but here are some possibilities:

1. GEEKGRL: A short-haired, heavier-set woman wearing a cycling helmet, swim goggles, holding a pencil aloft as if a torch. Wearing T-shirt and shorts & running shoes. There is already a "Geek" action figure on the market, but alas, it is a man. (See left)

2. ATHENA: Same figure, but wearing a roman helmet like the ones I've seen on sculpture of Athena, holding a sword, or something else magestic-like. Robes and junk. (see right) In honor of what is certain to be my permant status in the Athena division. (Not that I'm unhappy about this. I actually feel kind of big and powerful next to the tiny bird people. )

I was able to swim 75 meters without stopping today. Pretty astounding for the goddess of the couch. I did it six times. Now quick, without using your fingers, how many meters is that? :-)

Monday, August 01, 2005

More new toys.

I have a new cyclometer AND a new saddle. Whee! I went out yesterday to test both. The cyclometer gives mph, cadence, trip total, trip time, current time, and temperature. Very tri-geeky. Very cool.

Today I go back to work to help with registration. I wonder if anyone will notice anything different. I lost a tiny bit of weight this summer, but I'm in better shape and chopped 8 inches off my hair. At week's end I move into my new classroom. I'll be teaching Science. I'm pretty excited about it. Not as excited as if I were a school counselor, but pretty excited, nonetheless. I'll have one of those big science classrooms with cabinets and sinks. Science is my love. I am the GEEKGRL, after all. I have a Bachelor's degree in Earth Sciences, with a minor in bio, chem, and physics. My leisure time is spent working-out, rock-collecting, and studying vegan nutrition. Until I get a job in counseling, teaching science will be quite satisfing! I also happen to like teens and pre-teens. Sure, they're irascible and moody, but they're never boring.

I've been studying a list of vegetarian restaurants in DC for the trip in a few weeks. There is a dazzling array of restaurants that offer vegan dishes. Some have "mock meats" which aren't being offered yet this far inland. Such trends tend to show up on the coasts first, then move inland. Slowly. Husband and I went over the list and decided that our fantasy was just to get a vegan pizza and scarf it down. (Is that the right way spell 'scarf' when used in a gluttonous context?)