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

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I'm not being modest.

Sometimes in a mass start when I tell people things like, "you should go ahead of me; I'm really slow and it's easier than passing me down the road," people assume either I'm fast but modest, or slow and have low self esteem. If it's the former, very nice people often say, "oh, you aren't slower than me!" (women usually say that) or if it's the latter, something like "Oh, I'm sure you'll do just fine!" (men usually say that). The truth is, I'm neither. I'm realistic. I'm very slow, but I don't feel bad about it because I think that over time I'll get faster.

I say this because I did my first "road race" today, the 4th annual Tour de Acoma, in Sky City, New Mexico. Beautiful scenery. Your choice of the century, 50 mile, or 25-mile. (I chose the latter). I finished in 1'35". That gives me, I think, about an average of 15 mph according to the really cool triathlon calculators I've found online. Husband did the century, or started it, but had a really nasty blowout at 25 mph that took the tire with it, and possibly the rim. The whole situation is being evaluated at Albuquerque Bicycle as we speak. I'll keep you posted. He was immensely disappointed because it was his first road race, and his first century. It has also increased my general level of paranoia over long distance cycling, because I'm feeling that I could finish it, but worried about mechanical disasters - like this one.

However, the Tour de Acoma took us around the Acoma pueblo, past some really cool scenery, up near El Malpais, which is an old lava flow in that part of the state. The road was good, though the cattle guards--4 of them on the 25-miler-- are something I could do without. If you've never seen a cattle guard, it's many metal slats perpendicular to the road with a hole underneath. They're usually about 2-3 inches apart. As usual, fellow racers were super friendly, and even the loose dogs stayed in the middle of the road and stared, instead of chasing and barking. There was some hill climbing and a headwind on the way out, which means that the ride back was pretty pleasant. I recommend it. These are good events to do if you need to focus on your cycling. And you can impress your friends at work the next day. "What did you do yesterday? I went to church and took a nap". Then you can reply, "I rode a 25-mile bicycle race". Way fun.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Fundamentalist new-agers

In an earlier post I wrote bitterly about how fundamentalists on our school board are introducing policies that have no business in a public school. However, it's becoming frighteningly clear that fundamentalism in any form is rarely attractive. I'm referring to those people who are at the other end of the spectrum from those mentioned previously: Hard-core New-agers.

It sounds innocuous enough, but they can sometimes be as narrow minded as any extremist. It's not that I'm against alternative methods, because I'm not. They are, as a whole, completely convinced that they are superior to you and I because they use herbs and chakra stones instead of Western Medicine. They will, furthermore, tell you that if alternative healing methods don't work for you, it's because you aren't open to it, you're coming from a "bad place", you have too much negative energy, or because your body is too corrupted by a lifetime of Western medicine, which as we all know, is corporate greed. Then they go and spend $50 on some herbs and crystals.

Now, let me be the first to tell you that I take Black Cohosh for my hot flashes and Valarian when I need to sleep. They kick ass, as lots of herbs do. However, Recently I remarked offhandedly altnerative healing methods didn't seem to be working for a friend of mine. I was immediately rebuked in that calm and loving but oh-so-superior tone by a fellow classmate who informed me that she is a "Reiki master" (I had to look that up; I assume she was talking about "Reiki", the healing touch, and not "Raki" liquor produced in Eastern Europe or the Japanese monster) Anyway, I was told was that natural healing worked but might take 6 to 9 months, and I needed to be patient because "people who are used to Western Medicine are used to things happening really fast".

Well, I'm here to tell you that I'm A-OK with things happening fast. I have severe asthma and don't think I'd like to wait 6 to 9 months to feel better. I take a kick-ass drug--an evil, western one, mind you--that has changed my life, and has had not more side effects than a temporary sensitivity to spicy foods the first year that I took it. I've been taking it for 3 years, and after years of using a rescue inhaler several times a day and going to the emergency room several times a year, I'm about 99% free from my symptoms and happy, thank you very much. And I didn't have to be open to it, or worry about my negative vibes. It just worked. Awesome.

I have a history of not being very popular around New Agers because of their love affair with crystals and my love affair with statistics. Plus, with a degree that included a lot of coursework in geology, I'm adept at studying a "crystal" and stating, with authority: this isn't a natural crystal, you know, it's man-made or stating blandly, you know, quartz crystals have the exact same chemical composition as window glass. You could meditate to your windows and save a whole lot of money.

An it's not that I'm against alternative methods, because I'm not. What I'm referring to is people who say that all western is corrupt, oppressive, and evil.

That's just silly.

Extremism of any kind is silly. Saying that you know the whole, complete truth and believing it is silly.

That's all I have to say. Thank you for letting me rant.

...

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Spike's Ride

Okay, if the difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry form, then I guess the same is true of cycling? I did my first "ride" today: The annual Spike's Ride and his Roaring Chili festival. This is an event that raises money for the Museum of Natural History, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. It wasn't a race, as we were constantly reminded--it's a ride, so have fun! And I did. Through one of Albuquerque's most beautiful neighborhoods (now I want to live there) across the Rio Grande and up onto the west mesa past the Petroglyphs park. I chose the 25-mile version; husband chose the 50 mile variety. My time: slow, as usual, but I had fun, and never stopped except to move my chain, which for some mysterious reason would not move off the middle front ring to the smallest ring when I was climbing the hill up out of the valley, but functioned fine after I got my hands all greesy. If you go to the link above it will take you to where the maps are.
Afterwards, we were treated to free messages and drinks from Whole Foods, as well as samples of New Mexican chili and tortillias from some of Albuquerque's finest restaurants. Yum. You wouldn't think a super spicy hot dish would be good after a ride like that but it was pretty fab. Beautiful day, too; the usualy crisp 20-ish or so percent humidity and temps in the sixties. Don't you wish you could live here?

Next up: the 4th Annual Tour de Acoma

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Will she do another one?

Next up: STEALTH TRIATHLON***Alamogordo NM: October 2, 2005
5k/30k/700m.
2 weeks to go!
Don't know if I"ll do as well in this one. Monstrously long swim. But I'll have fun trying. :-)

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Now I am a triathlete. (Race report)


Today was the big day: the Cotton Country Sprint Triathlon. I've actually been dreading it all week; and Thursday am horrified to discover one of those untimely events that only women experience - I'll avoid stating the obvious, except to say that it left me worried about hydration and electrolytes, how cranky I get and how sore my lower back gets, things like that. In any case, not a good omen. But interesting in light of what I carried home from the race, which you'll read about later.

As well, I'm paranoid about the lack of time I've spent on my bike. Every since I went back to work (teaching) I plan out these days that I'm going to ride or swim, and then there's some meeting, and I can't. For one, brief moment I even consider backing out. But I've told too many people. I can't back out now. In any case, I'm worried that I'll really suck, but then I remind myself of the 3 sacred goals of me, the Virgin Triathlete: 1) Finish, 2) Don't be dead last, and 3) Have a good time. On Thursday, the new tri suit arrives (the first one was sewn incorrectly and had to be returned) so my last excuse not to run is gone. Friday, I pack up the munchkin who will be in this triathlon with myself and Husband, and off we set for Lubbock.

Saturday, I wake up feeling nervous. Worried that I'll just embarass myself. I remind myself of the three sacred goals. We drive out to Levelend, where it is surprisingly cool. Luckily, the race T-shirt is long-sleeved. I get marked, and find out that I'm the only Athena entered. An evil voice whispers in my ear "you don't even have to try. Just mosy!" I push the evil voice away. At 9:00, the race begins. It's a reverse triathlon, run-bike-swim. Nearing the turnaround, I am very nearly the back of the pack. I'm running faster than my usual slow steady pace, and am promptly passed by a much older man running slowly but steadily. For the rest of the run, I"ll try in vain to catch him. I never do. Husband and Son pass me yelling, "great job, Misty" and "way to go, Mom," respectively. So do the volunteers along the road "you're almost there! Way to go!" That's the cool thing about Triathlon, all the upbeat attitudes. But, I'm going too fast, and have to stop and run a couple of times. Taking a cue from Jayne Williams, I tell the people passing out water, "it's all part of my strategy: I'm saving it for the bike!" All the while thinking to myself, "I'm saving it for the nap on the trip home". But I don't finish last; I finish third from last. As I come into t1, the guy yells out, "36:35" and I think. "That can't be right," I think, "I've never run that fast." I'll know for sure when they post the splits.

Pull of the running shoes, strap on the "clipless" bike shoes, and I'off! As I round the last corner onto the straightaway a guy by the side of the road warns me of some ruts in the road, "don't let your tire catch!". I think that's what he said, anyway, so I thank him and ride out. I'm excited about sitting and riding a nice, flat 13 miles until I get out onto the main rural ride that comprises most of it: the wind is unbelievable. It's blowing in my face really hard with occasional gust from my left that push my back end sideways, causing the evil voice to whisper in my ear two things: "your butt is so wide that it catches the wind" alternating with, "that guy didn't say that, he said 'get your tire patched!'" My paranoia re. the last part causes me to look down several times to check and see of my tire is low, but I push on, dropping down and trying to make myself as tiny a wind target as possible. Unbelievably, I manage to pass five or six people on the bike, incluing my nemesis, the elderly man who kicked my butt in the run, but that's all; the ride back is nice because the wind is at my back. I find that the cadance meter, newly installed on my Trek 1000, to be extremely helpful in this regard. I round the corner to find my son and husband waiting for me with camera in hand as I head into T2. Earlier, I had snapped my goggles into my hearing aid case, believing that I needed to be able to hear on the bike for people coming behind me but worried that I'd accidentally jump into the pool with it in (I haven't mentioned it before, but I'm hearing impaired and wear a super-high tech digital device on my left ear) so I did this. I pull out my hearing aid and put it in its case, grab my goggles, kick off my shoes and socks, and head for the pool.

Maybe snapping my goggles into the hearing aid case wasn't such a great idea, because they keep filling up with water and eventually come apart in the middle. However, I am aware of my husband snapping pictures and son yelling encouragement when I turn, and blindly swim on, make the turns, finish the swim, and eventually clamber out of the pool. This was the point at which I became aware of an interesting phenomenon: my body was talking to me. particularly my legs. They said, "sit down, now". Which I did. Wobbly. Interesting. I sat for a while, trying to get my wits about me, while my husband and son were asking me if I'd liked it. Hard to answer now. Eventually I get up and walk to the transition area, and I notice my husband is grinning like crazy as he puts out bikes away. I put my hearing device back in and start packing up. People I've met at previous triathlons come up and ask me if I liked it. One woman tells me that she remembers me talking about it two months ago and is really happy I actually did it. I am too. I'm still processing the psychological impact it's had on me. I'll write more about that when I do.

At the awards, son gets a 2nd place medal as an age-grouper. Husband takes 1st place in the Clydesdales (out of about 7 total; they are surprisingly competitive) and I get first place Athena, since I was the only athena. My total time was 1:39. Our 1st place trophies? Really cool little tiny bales of cotton with the race logo on them and "First Place" on it.

It is cotton country, after all. :-)

Monday, September 05, 2005

Officially a runner

The book that my husband was reading last week said that the difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry form. If that's the case, I'm officially a runner. Since I was present for the Ransom Canyon Triathlon that my husband ran yesterday I registered for the 5k "fun run" that took place during. Since there were only 10 people registered, I managed to get 2nd place female. I outran a 70-year-old retired grandma to do it, too. Woohooo! Then I had my ass kicked by an 11-year-old. I had a good time, though.

But, boy, I need to run in the sun because I've been running in the dark, cool New Mexico morning. Whatever advantage I had from running a mile above sea level was negated by the increased heat, sunshine, and humidity that I encountered in Ranson Canyon Texas. But I got a T-shirt! Cool.
The Ransom Canyon Tri starts with a 500 meter lake swim and then a bike ride that goes straight up out of the canyon. It's a real killer. Then you race across and down through another canyon (yellow horse, I think) and back again.
One more week to go until the Cotton Country Tri. I find that a seam in my tri suit was sewn incorrectly and it's coming apart. A paniced call to the store and they're sending a replacement. Hopefully it will get here before Friday, we we leave for Levelend. I still think I'll set a Triathlon record for slowness. But I know I'll finish.
On a positive note, I'm down to about 159 lbs (about 72 kilos). My lowest since I started. Size 12 and headed for a size 10. Still a large, though. If I lose 10 more pounds, I'll no longer be an Athena. Husband has ordered to get copious pictures of me this Saturday, getting body markings and all. That may be all there is for pictures, since Husband and Son are both running in this with me.