UPCOMING EVENTS for 2015: (Under consideration) BigHorn 50K, North Carolina/DC Marathon Doulbe, TURNING 50 (not in that exact order).

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

Athena is the Goddess of wisdom and war. In 2005, I declared war on my own bad tendencies: sloth, being fat, compacency, and being too old for adventure.
This is the story of how I went from being someone who never stood when she could sit, to being an ultrarunner, marathoner, triathlete, and *sigh* student.
"You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tri-training-teacher-mom mornings.

I had a fantastic run this morning, considering that I had to start it at 4:45 am.
I have to be at work at 7:10. However, I have to ACTUALLY be at work by 6:45, or I'll get stuck in traffic behind every parent who can't bear to put their precious darlings on the bus. (At our house, if you miss the school bus, then you better start jogging, triathlon boy)

Any
way, I'm actually starting to feel like a runner. Oh, sure, I've been running for a little over a year now, but it's been more like a kind of fast shuffling, really.
More like a little jog.
But now, I even get the little nods of greeting from other runners! I'm in their club! I am a runner. Bliss!

It was pitch black, and it was my "new" moderate run. My old one was a 5K, and my new one is about a 7.5 K, and includes hills, This was the run that, when I tried to do it in the spring of 06, I wound up crying because it was SO HARD and I couldn't catch my breath.

And today, it was easy.

It was 58 degrees outside, and for once this month, the humidity seemed to be below 50%. Also, the crud cold/allergy thing I had last week seems to be on the wane, although it is hanging around long enough so that I can contribute some really long, juicy throat clearing.
Often. while others are trying to hear.

After my run, a quick shower, jump on the scale where I am--surprise--just 9 pounds Athena legal. Then plenty of swearing and running around the house half dressed, Where the hell are my keys? Who took my--oh, never mind, I found them and--WHO THE HELL TOOK MY SUNGLASSES--oh, never mind--WHERE IS MY LANYARD??!?
etc.

Wake up Mini-me, who has overslept, so that he can catch the bus. Make sure he's got his bagel, lunch, and Gatorade.

Out the door by 6:30 to get to work. Run back in to give Sweet baboo a goodbye kiss.

At work, drink a sugar-free energy drink, and wound up bouncing around like Tigger in front of a classroom full of lethargic eighth graders at 7:30 in the morning.

"What's the matter with y'all? Why, I've already run over 4 miles this morning, and I'm old!. Wake up!" For emphasis, I ring my cowbell that I got at the end of the Deschutes Dash. I am the teacher from hell.

In approximately 15 minutes I'll have my first hot flash of the day and I'll be walking around the classroom, fanning myself.

About 15 minutes after that, the caffeinated energy drink will have worked its way through me, but my first opportunity to go to the bathroom doesn't come until 9 am.

By 10:40, lunch time, my stomach will feel like it's wrapping itself around my spine, desperate for some sort of food. During my 30 minute lunch period, I'll talk to 4 kids about their grades, 3 kids about the work they missed while they were on an impromptu family trip, eat my lunch, go to the bathroom, chat with some other teachers, chase some kids out of the hallway, check my email and phone messages, and get ready for my next class.

After that, I'll chase through some emails trying to figure out what new stuff I have to do this year to prove that I'm doing my job and not squandering taxpayer money, since, apparently, that's what teachers do; it's all about the money.

Later that day I'll call 3 parents, email several more, make several sets of photocopies, set up my classroom for tomorrow, and go home.

The highlight of my day was that 50 minute run at 4:45 in the morning, and it was enough to last the entire day, so, tomorrow, I'll do it all again.

In other news, Mini-me, who decided to join Cross Country, has 'shin splints'. I'm so new at this that I don't even know what those are, really, except that apparently it has something to do with whining and having your mother give you a LOT of sympathy and food.

...

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Curious Incidents of the Cat in the Nighttime

I wasn't really sure what it was, at first. All I knew what that for some reason, I would jerk awake in the middle of the night. I would sit up in bed, confused as to what had awakened me, and then finally, lay back down and get to sleep.

Some nights I even suspected Sweet Baboo of doing something, for fun, but not for long.

In any case, it was finally clear to me on a particularly warm evening when I was lying awake, waiting to fall back asleep

and it happened.

Boinggggggggg!

That's the imaginary sound I've given to what one--I don't know which one--of my four cats does in the middle of the night, although usually it's just a loud thud that knocks me out of dreamland. She (they're all females) leaps from the top of the headboard, which is about 3 feet above my head, down onto my torso. However, she does this in such a way as to immediatley spring back off and away. This means she lands with a lot of force, using my body as a sort of trampoline. Which is why I couldn't figure out what had happened, at first, because the culprit was long gone, having sailed away by the time I sat bolt upright in bed. I had become some sort of kitty springboard, not unlike these things I used to jump off when doing vault gymnastics.

It started happening often enough to piss me off, but then it would stop for a while. It only happens when I'm lying on my back. It never happens to Sweet Baboo, despite his providing a larger target.

The worst was the night after my endometrial ablation

Boinggggggggg!

On this night, the tragectory was changed just enought so that kitty landed on my abdomen instead of the usual mid chest region.

Of course, by the time I'm out of bed, swearing and yelling MOTHER F$$&*R!!" I'm alone, swearing, with four fuzzy faces starying innocently, and a very, very bewildered husband, wondering what has driving me completely insane in the middle of the night.

Last night, I'd had it.

I was still tired from my long bike on Saturday, and still battling whatever evil hay fever demons had been unleashed by the recent monsoons. I'd been whining all day about my weepy eyes and runny nose, but finally drifted off to sleep, aided as I was by Valerian and a lot of Benedryl.

Ahh, sweet sleep.

I love our pillow-top.

Mmmmmmmm.


Boinggggggggg!

This time, it was my face.
That's right, Miss Thing used. MY. FACE. as her springboard for the evening. By the time I'd stumbled, swearing and crying, into the bathroom, my eye was bleeding in the corner from the two scratches it had received. I'm somewhat allergic to cat scratches, so it was already turning a lovely shade of SWOLLEN SHUT.

Plus, it's just a really, really F%&$#ED-up way to be woken up.

I've had it. I've decided to round up the likely culprits. If I find out who it is, they're getting the closet at night from now on.

SUSPECT #!: Whitney the Meek.
Whitney is a tiny black cat who, for some reason, can't really meow. She takes a deep breath and, when really, really motivated, utters a tiny breathy squeak. She's very small, was probably mal-nourished as a kitten. She was a stray that wondered into our yard and refused to leave. I sure hope it's not her. She tends to pee when she's in closed spaces.

SUSPECT #2: Stella, the Cat I Think Has Survived TBI.
I didn't pick this name. I wanted to name her Mouse. Stella was my first suspect, because she bounces around a lot, like an insane and unholy cross between a nervous little dog and Tigger. She crashes into stuff a lot and knocks things over. Unfortunately, I can't really blame her, because she was not in the house on the night in question, and I'm pretty sure it's always been the same cat.

SUSPECT #3: Hissy Fit
Hissy Fit, we're pretty sure, is Whitney's litter mate. The both showed up and just about the same time.

SUSPECT #4: Lily the Brave
Lily is, quite literally, a scaredy cat. She is afraid of just about everything, which would normally exempt her from being on the headboard at all but for the occasional bouts of early morning crazies that I have witnessed from her. She was adopted from the Tuscaloosa, Alabama animal shelter. She is the noisiest cat I've ever known.

I haven't decided yet how to test to figure out which one is the same cat that keeps using me as its own personal trampoline yet, but I did notice tonight that the area right above Sweet Baboo's head has a bunch of books and magazines over it, so I've shoved them over and put some above MY spot, to see if this changes angles and tragectories at all.

I'll keep you posted.

...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Saturday Long Slow Ride


Myles and I took our bikes out on a long ride, preparing as we are for the Redman in 4 weeks. We headed out of Alameda on the bike trail, turned north up the Paseo trail, then road next to the North Diversion Channel, across UNM, down Casar Chavez to the main Bosque trail, exiting onto Rio Bravo, where we made our first stop for water (me) and peanuts (Myles).

We were experimenting with nutrition today, taking a serving of Cliff shot blocks on the hour and an Enduralyte on the half hour. I was also munching on about 1/3 of a package of vegan jerky, to have a bit of protein in me (I think it helps stablize blood sugar levels for me without itt I get sugar spikes and crashes). This combination turned out to work pretty well for me, particularly after eating a boca burger for breakfast (I've found that some protein, eaten at least an hour before cycling and at least 2 hours before running, really keeps my stomach calm.)

The chamisa is in bloom, which means the ride smelled really sweet and flowery, but it's also probably what is tuning my sinuses into a pressure cooker. The weather started out cool, and promised to stay that way. So much for promises.

We then headed south down to Rio Bravo, and took that west up some hill that made me want to thow up--a really long a grade 7 hill. We then headed out and then north again, to Paseo de Vulvan. I had to stop once on the hill at Rio Bravo and let my heart rate drop because, as I've posted previously, I have some kind of head thing going on. Lots of congestion and ickiness. It wasn't raining in Albuqueque yesterday; that was me blowing my nose. Yeah, I know, "Ewwwwww"

We did a brief out and back down Historic Route 66 toward the Route 66 Casino, where we made pitstop at a Gas Station to get some gatorade. At this point the temp was up to 93 degrees. We then headed back up another lllloooooonnnnnnggggg grade 7 hill back to Paseo de Vulcan, heading north past the volcanoes west of Albuquerque, then past Double Eagle airport, before coming back east into town.

I got pretty cranky coming up that last hill, owing to the fact that Myles added that route 66 out-and-back leg at the last moment, so that we'd have enough miles in, and so I wasn't aware that it was going to be part of the ride. When I get surprised like that, I have some dark and ugly thoughts about bonfires on which I throw variously types of equipment. Seriously. It was backpacking equipment I used to fantasize about burnin when when I'd be following Myles toward the top of Mt. Taylor, or Wheeler Peak, or whever it happened that we were going, after having been told, "Well, it's a bit of a climb, but I don't think it will be too bad,"

After complaining bitterly about the last long hill, Myles said kindly, "well, but you made it!" Still feeling self-pitying, I said, "if you set someone on fire and then manage to stumble into a barrel of water and put themselves out, you don't get to then say, 'but you made it!' " Myles thought I was being a BIT dramatic. Maybe he's right. After coming up that last hill, everything else felt pretty easy. I guess that's the point of a workout.

I also have to add that, while I was struggling up each hill, Myles zoomed up ahead of me, then came flying back down, then climbed the same hill AGAIN while I was still on my way up, essentially climbing each hill TWICE in the time it took me to climb it ONCE. B$&@#$D.

By the numbers (me)
Total miles traveled: 65.4 (My longest, EVAR)
Flats: 0 (Thank you, oh, God or Goddess of Cycling)
Water drunk: 60 ounces
Gatorade consumed: 32
Time it took: a little over 5 hours.
Packages of Shot Blocks consumed: 2 Enduralytes taken: 5
Packages of Vegan Jerky consumed: 1
Calories consumed at El Patio that evening: about 1,000,000 (Holy hell, I was hungry)

...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This week's Stupid Triathlete tip.

Today's Tip for Triathletes is, "Don't wear your hearing aid in the pool."

I haven't been able to hear out of my left ear most of my life. This would gone undiscovered if it weren't for my unfortunate tendency to forget to eat the first half of my life, which resulted in me passing out at school when I was fifteen.

A checkup at the doctor later, and he asked casually about my hearing as he peaked in each ear. Then he spun me around and frowned at me. "What do you mean, 'right-eared'?"

"I'm right eared," I answered. "Always have been." I thought it was normal.

Several visits later, and I was scheduled for surgery, when the swimmer's ear cleared up, they found a hole in my ear drum; when they investigated that, they found a tumor. They removed it, but not before it had munched up the little bones in the middle ear that get sound from the ear drum inside to the part that sends the vibrations to the auditory nerve. An unsuccessul attempt at making "new parts" out of teflon, and I was tumor free, but still couldn't hear.

They offered to try one more time, but by then I'd had two surgeries; twice I'd woken up in recovery with half my head shaved and a row of stitches going across my skull. Lovely. No, thank you.

The truth is, I was good at figuring stuff out. Your brain is wired to interpret input as you grow up, and I'd been this way since I was a baby. I could hear; I just couldn't always interpret what I was hearing most of the time. So, I paid attention to faces, surroundings, and context. "Guess what? bought a moo tar!" makes a lot more sense when the person saying it happens to be jerking their thump toward an automobile that they weren't driving yesterday.

Likewise, "thouser asses this ear?" is something that can be understood within the context of two teachers talking during the second week of school. "Oh, my classes are fine this year, thanks!"

Then there's always the fallback:
Nod, look attentive, smile when you think/hope that it's appropriate to do so.
Laugh when other people laugh.
Look concerned when others look concerned.
You can always find out what happened later.

It gets old, though. It takes a lot of energy for the brain to spend that much time interpreting, especially in crowds. At the end of the day I'd be exhausted and cranky, and want to be alone.

It also got pretty taxing, and context became more difficult, particularly with ever perplexing slang terminology coming out of the mouths of 14- and 15-yer-olds.

"Bling? Are you saying, 'Bling'?" that's not even a word.

Finally, at the age of 39, I broke down and started the process of getting a hearing instrument. I was informed that "Hearing impaired" is considered non-PC, but I prefer it over "Hard of Hearing," which to me, sounds old. The guy that tested my hearing couldn't believe I was just now getting around to doing this. Practicality won out over vanity, I suppose.

I was fitted for it right around my 40th birthday. It sits behind my ear, and most people don't see it because my hair covers it.

It is a blessing and a curse. It's digital, and the audiologist plugs it into a computer and programs it so that only the right frequencies are amplified.

But, I have to say, this is a very, very noisy world. I can hear now, but sometimes I don't like what I'm hearing. There's all that clicking, and tappping, and stomachs making weird noises, farts, burps, teeth grinding, sniffing, nose blowing, etc. When I ride my bike, all I hear is "WHOOOOOOOSH!" really loud.

Well, at least I can turn it off.

Anyway, of course I lost that damned thing two months after we got it. Of COURSE I did. I slipped it into the pockt of my bike shorts, then, part of the way home, it occured to me that I'd reached into that pocket a couple of times to get some gum, and boy, it would suck if I accidentally pulled that out and dropped it and didn't realize it.

Yeah, it sucked all right. I spent two hours walking up a down that bike path in 90 degree heat in July, and all around down town Albuquerque, trying to find it.

Vanished.

Luckily, I had some sort of insurance policy on it that covered stupidity, and after paying the deductable, got another one. Meanwhile, I had to use a "loaner" which wasn't digital and wasn't nearly as cool and would some times just start shrieking and whistling on its own usually while I was sitting in a meeting. People would look all around and finally lean into me and say, "is that noise coming from YOU?"

Which brings me to this weeks stupid act.

I renewed my membership at a local gym so that I could fit some swim practice in. I sat on the edge of the pool for a moment, fitting on my oh, so wonderful new gogges, and then jumped in, squatting down so that the water went up over my head.

Oops.

Even before the shrill shrieking in my left ear began, I realized I'd screwed up. I jumped up out of the water, and immediately grabbed it out of my ear, dumping the battery onto the side of the pool. I'd read somewhere that if you get an electronic wet, the thing to do is to immediately disconnect all power and allow it to dry out before hooking it back up again. How water ruins electronics is by creating a short circuit, which is interrupted if you cut the power.

I let it dry out for most of the rest of the day, and I MUST be the luckiest person on earth, because I don't have the stupidity coverage any more, but it seems to be working fine. Just don't tell my audiologist. I even debated whether to tell Sweet Baboo, because these things, brand new, are a minimum of $1200, and I figured he'd be really nervous from now on, but he'd have read it here anyway.

But, it won't happen again, because I stuck a big note in my swim goggles case that says, "TAKE OUT YOUR HEARING AID!!!" so that I won't forget again.

...

Friday, August 25, 2006

Ack.


I have a cold, or something.

I'm not sure if it's allergies, because of all the insane rain we've gotten around here that actually-gasp-made some stuff GROW this year, or if it's a cold, owing to the fact that I spend 5 days a week in a germ factory, AKA public school.

I stopped getting sick a lot once I started running. That's a good thing, because since I became a teacher, almost everything turns into laryngitis. It's tricky teaching 35 students when you've got that, but I've found that with PowerPoint, a meter stick, and a cowbell, you can get a lot done.

Anyway, as I said, I don't get sick very much, so when I do, I get extra whiney and miserable. Time was when just the people around me had to listen to it. That was before I got a blog.

It's not that I'm feverish and desperately dehydreated, throwing up, or ill, I just have one of those extremely annoying little bugs. Allow me to share it with you.

I feel like Bill the Cat looks. I even say, "ACK!" every once in a while.

DayQuill doesn't make a dent, and neither does Benedryl.

My right eye won't stop watering.

At this moment, the left side of my nose won't stop running, and the right side is all stuffed up. Just the right side. Occasionally, the sides switch, and then the left side will nbe all stuffed up and the right side will be all runny. My nose is getting red and chapped from all the blowing.

What this all means is that when I finally do go to bed, I'll have to flip from side to side all night long, because I can't stand laying on the side that's all stuffed up.

My eyes are burning.

I'm given to sneezing fits, about six at a time.

My throat hurts, and, judging by the sighs and the looks I got from Sweet-baboo this morning, I'm snoring really loudly all night long.

My cheeks ache, like someone is pushing on them.

Crap. I'm supposed to do a long bike tomorrow.

I'm going to go do another suduko puzzle and soak in a hot bath and feel sorry for myself.

...

Monday, August 21, 2006

First anniversary, and lessons learned


On September 16th, I'm going to do the Cotton country sprint, again. It was my first triathlon. I'm hoping the weather will be similar, so I that I can compare my time this year to my time last year.

It's been a wild year. In the past twelve months, I've finished (I think) about 14 triathlons, 4 duathlons, two half marathons, two 10K's and an 8K run; and two 25-mile bike races. I was dead last on a few, but I finished them. The only race I didn't finish was the dreaded Darwinian debacle in Farmington.

Along the way, I've picked a few tips. Nobody told me about

(or, if they did, I wasn't paying attention)

They may or may not be useful to you.

SWIMMING

  • You'll reach a point when - joy! - you suddenly feel very comfortable and in the zone, but only time in the water will do that.
  • Practice open-water swims before your first open-water swim. On the day of the swim, see if you can get in the water and stick your head underwater before the gun goes off.
  • At your first open water swim, you may freak out. You may forget how to swim. It happens to the best of us.
  • Total Immersion is a great freestyle program for working on stroke.
  • Don't wear aqua-tinted goggles in an open-water swim. It cancels out the orange in the buoys, and they'll be nearly impossible to see.
  • If the water is really choppy, or has lots of people in it, site on some easy-to-see landmark or item above the next buoy; it will be easier to see it when you site than something in the water.
  • Loreal waterproof mascara is terrific. Along the same subject, permanant eyeliner is a bitch to have applied, but it's totally worth it.
  • If you've got short stubby legs like mine, go ahead and cut the bottom couple inches off your wetsuit. Most of them have sealed seams, so it won't affect them.
  • I'ts not a good idea to jump in the water with your hearing assistive device in. In a reverse triathlon, if you HAVE to wear it, a good way to remember to take it out is to snap its case closed around the strap of your goggles.
RUNNING
  • Don't ball your fists up when you run, or swing your arms too much. It wastes energy.
  • The best way to run well is to, well, run. There are no short cuts.
  • Cold water is great on tired legs, and helps with recovery. If they have ice at aid stations, you can even run ice up and down your legs, which may not have any medical benefit, but it feels awesome.
  • If you love running to music, get an MP3 player, and buy a computer program you can pay for and download called, "Repacer." It will speed up and slow down songs digitally to match your cadence. You can use this as "trainer" to work on higher leg turnover.
  • Focus on leg turnover instead of stride length.
  • Read up on proper running form. You can use energy more efficiently that way.
  • If you have trouble getting up early to do a run, get your running stuff ready and folded up right next to the bed so you can slip it right on. Then tell yourself you'll only go out for 15 minutes. You've got 15 minutes, don't you? Chances are, 15 minutes into your run, you'll feel so good you'll just keep going.
  • Running skirts are cute, and they hide pasty white thighs.
  • A good running bra top is a wonder, a joy. Spend whatever you have to to get one.
  • Ditto for good running shoes.
  • Make sure you stretch well after every run.
CYCLING
  • Make friends with your saddle. Only time in the saddle does that.
  • Don't carry anything but water in your aero bottle, unless you want to showered with sticky stuff and gum up your cyclometer.
  • Hard Case (aka "Armadillo") tires are hard to change by hand, but they are virtually puncture proof.
  • Studio cycling, when done right, is a great alternative for training when the weather (or automobile drivers) is terrible.
  • If somebody starts to pass you, let them. If you jump up on your pedals, you're "Blocking" and you will piss them off and maybe get a penalty.
  • Avoid the bike paths on the weekends. They are dangerous, unpredictable places.
MISC
  • Stay on the right, and pass on the left.
  • Skin suits make me look fat, and for women, they make going to the bathroom difficult. But, you might like them.
  • Find out where the race photographers hang out, so you can be ready for a good picture.
  • If you're a back-of-the-packer, they may run out of finisher's medals, but, you'll always have company in the form of the chase vehicle that follows the last runner in.
  • Who cares if you're the only Athena that showed up that day, or any day? You got off your ample Athena butt and DID it, baby! Grab that damned medal.
  • Body glide is your best friend, but it can interfere with your heartrate monitor, so be judicious about where you put it.
  • Give me enough time, and I can finish anything.
  • Anytime you feel kinda bad about yourself, mention casually to a nearby non-athlete that you do triathlons. Or manipulate the conversation until you can slide it in. It's a real moral booster..."You do WHAT?"
  • 4% Hydroquinone will get rid of those icky dark patches on your face if you get them. Make your doctor prescribe you some. Then, get yourself a good, water-proof sunscreen.
  • "Heart Zone" training is the best thing for raising your aerobic threshold.
  • Avoid altogether a hearing assistive device during a race, unless you absolutely have to use it to hear the tiniest of sounds. If you can hear, "ON YOUR LEFT!" said about twenty feet behind you in a quiet room in a normal voice when you're not wearing it, just leave it at home.
  • If you're a beginner, you really will be happiest if you just try to do your best, and beat yourself. If you're always concerned about winning, you'll get bummed out. There will always be people who are faster. It's inevitable. Get over it, and just have a good time.
  • RoadID is a great product - it's kind of a like a medic alert anklet for athletes, and it holds a timing chip comfortably, too.
  • Tune in to advice from others about eating, drinking before a race, but in the end, try things out (BEFORE a race) to see what works best for you. People are individuals, and while there are some general rules and guidelines, you'll find, if you experiment, that you have something unique that works best for you.
So, there. Perhaps somebody out there can benefit from my mistakes, er, wisdom.
...

Two-click-two-click-two insanities in one!

At least, I think it is. I think I'm now officially registered not only for the Redman (September 23) half iron, but for the Soma Half Iron (October 28th).

I now will have the pleasure of finishing TWO, count 'em TWO half irons at a record slow pace. And, as I've mentioned before (or maybe I haven't,) the best thing about being nearly last is that all your teammates are fresh and rested and give you a rousing cheer when you come in.

My new motto is, "Give me enough time, and I'll finish anything." I'm hoping to beat 7 hours on each.

I was thinking that all my training for these half irons was going to be AWESOME for slimming down this fall. Let's face it; I could stand to drop a few. I'm not just saying that in a dysfunction, neurotic sort of way. I'm realistic. I weigh 162 pounds, and I can stand to lose, oh, about 12. Twelve less pounds of my big ass to haul up and down those hills outta speed me up, ya think?

However, Runner's World is one step ahead of me. In the September issue they have an article about how you shouldn't pair dieting with training.

Curse you, Runner's World!!!!! How do you read my MIND???

Now, I would like to share with you the reason that I embarked upon all this madness to begin with.

It all started with a picture of me in the yearbook of the school where I teach. A picture taken in January of 2005. I steadfastedly avoided cameras back then, which is pretty handy if you tend to subscribe to the Holy Church of Denial, but as a club sponsor, I was duty bound to have my picture taken with my club, so now my fat hugeness survives in about 1500 yearbooks scattered throughout New Mexico and eventually, the US.



Are you ready?




Are you sure?




Okay, here it is.




Remember, I warned you.






Ahhhhhhh!
Scary Psycho music wree! wree! wree! wree!
195 pounds is a whole lotta woman.


In any case, it got my butt in gear.

Tomorrow, I'm going to write about what I've learned in the past year. On September 16th, I'll do the Cotton Country Sprint, which in 2005 was my first triathlon, EVAR. I have some things I've learned in the 17 or so duathlons and triathlons (yes, I am that insane) I've done since then that I want to share.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Long bike Saturday and Long Run Sunday

This weekend was the first of several weekends designed to prepare me for the for the two halfs I'm doing (or two HALVES, of you prefer).

ISaturday we left at 6:30 and headed out to Algodones, also known as Wherethehellami, New Mexico, about 23 miles away.

Myles has this interesting habit of going faster than I can. I can't keep up with him. Eventually he'll slow down, after he's about a quarter mile ahead, and then as soon as I catch up, OFF he zooms again. Eventually, he'll look at me, bewildered, and say something like, "why are you hanging back so far?" As though I were some anti-social misfit that can't stand to be within 20 feet of people. I finally explained to him that it wasn't shiness, or being a lone-free-ranger, I can't FREAKING GO THAT FAST. Eventually, I was able to communicate that calmly.
I don't think people appreciate just how slowly I do just about everything.
I really am not be self-depracating, or modest.
I AM that slow.
My average speed was about 15 mph.

Ahem.
but, anyway, the most dangerous part of the trip was actually the bike paths. Early on the weekends, it's not so bad, but sometime after 8 am anyone who has the wherewithall to make it to a bike shop and pedal while thinking, and sometimes barely that, finds their way out onto the bike path, weaving all over it and maybe, just maybe, staying far enough to the right that you can pass without risking a head-on collision. Most annoying of all people who stroll 2 or 3 abreast, instead of moving over the walking path. Also, I'm stunned at how many people are out there with their kids, and they aren't wearing helmets! Do you KNOW that kids brains don't need much of a bump to make them slosh around and hit the skull? Also, did you know that 4 horses in a tunnel can stink up the tunnel in record time?
But, I'm getting ahead of myself, and starting to sound negative.
So, I'll start over.

Today was absolutely the most awesome weather for a nice long ride. Whiney Athena was silent most of the time, oweing to the slightly breezy, overcast, cool morning all the way out. We started out at Montano on the bike trail and then headed north, leaving it eventually and taking some side streets out to 313, which is a fantabulous route for biking. The road gets rougher as you pass through Bernalillo (pronounced BERN uh LEE yo) and then again at Algadones.

Being as it rained a lot, I was convinced that I smelled a LOT of livestock by-product (which, despite what many people in South Dakota used to tell me, is NOT the smell of money) but Myles insisted that he never smelled it.

I'm still having saddle issues, but Jane thinks that if I spend enough time on long rides I'll be able to "make friends with my saddle."
Hmm. Sounds kinky.
But maybe she's right - if I could make friends with my saddle, it might silent Whiney Athena on the bike for good. After we finished the long ride, we met up with other outlaws for Coffee.

I'm not sure if it was the 46-mile ride yesterday that made my leg so tired today, but the 9 miles I ran today were tough. I've been lazy on my long runs lately, and the psoas muscles that pull your legs up and down are NOT happy with me. I ran along the bosque, and unfortunately by the time I got out there, even though the weather was glorious the path was really, really crowded.

The first half of the run was nice, but the second half was getting harder; toward the last mile it was getting harder and harder just to lift my legs. The good news, though, was that I ran the whole way - no walk breaks! The last time I ran a half marathon I had the same sore feeling, yes, but I was walking 1 out of every 6 minutes. So, today was a triumph of sorts.

This week, I vow to ride my bike at least once to work, and do at least one long swim.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

the Many Faces of Double-barreled Athena

In which I write about my split personality.

Actually there is no such thing - the proper diagnosis is dissociative identity disorder. In any case, I find that these days there are any number of personalities I may exhibit, depending on the circumstances. If you're an expert in this area, I will tell you that these aren't in any DSM-IVr, but I insist that they exist due to evidence that supports their existance (see Scientific Athena, below). Besides, I say so. (See Mrs. Athena, may I? below) I just try to balance them so that no one aggravating side of me takes over.
Sweet Baboo is ever so patient with all of it; perhaps, as a mental-health professional, he finds it challenging and interesting because he doesn't really have to fix it. He can just study me like a funny little monkey that he's stumbled upon in some field somewhere.

What follows is a field guide to those personalities:

Gung-ho Athena
Very competitive. She obsessively spreadsheets her arch-rival's stats, analyzing the possibilities, crunching the numbers. She whispers things to Myles, like, "Look, she's wiping her nose. Bet she's got a cold - I can beat her!" or, "Her form is all wrong!" She obsessively reads Runner's World, and HerSports, hoping that somehow reading about running will pick up where training left off. She spends a great deal of time planning her training, and sometimes even does some training, too, before reverting to Whiney Athena. Gung-ho Athena loves how she feels right after the race, when she's savoring the feeling of completion and triumph.

Athena in Denial
This version completely negates the necessity of training or how competitive she really is, by saying things like, "I don't want to wear out my legs before the race next week," or, "I don't care how fast I am, it's finishing that counts". Or, "It doesn't matter how fast I am, I just want to enjoy myself." Then, when she doesn't place, she says things, like "Well, she's younger than I am," or, "She's been doing this longer, and she's naturally Athletic," or the oft-used, " This Athena loves people who agree with her don't try to snap her into reality.

Mrs. Athena, May I?
This is the teacher in me. She tells everyone what they should be doing. She's Miss Bossy. She has a hard time turning it off when she leaves the classroom, and when she knows she's right, why should she? She corrects other people's behavior, tells them that they are driving the wrong way down the row in the parking lot, and that they Can't Smoke Here. She even tells other people's children to behave. IN public. With the parents standing there. Sweet Baboo worries constantly that someone is going to haul off and deck her. Mrs. Athena loves well-behaved children and most importantly of all, well-behaved adults.

Southern Belle Athena
Sometimes confused with Whiney Double-Barreled. She fusses over the freckles, feeling sticky, sweat, and - ew - the smell of triathletes fresh from the field. She gets excited by really waterproof mascara and the 4% cream her doctor just gave her to bleach those damned brown spots on her face. She'll blow training because her head hurts, she can't find the sunscreen, or she just mixed a pitcher of margaritas and they're better if drunk while still fresh, y'all. Southern Belle Athena loves cute running skirts, and she hates most sports photographers, because they make her look fat. She also wishes running shoes were cuter for a size 8.5 foot.

Scientific Athena
This one is mistaken for Gung-ho Athena. She obsessively spreadsheets, but she also fixes people with a stare and says things like, "there's no evidence to suggest that is remotely a viable solution to this problem." She sneers at most sci-fi, saying things like, "that would never happen." She snorts at alternative remedies, saying things like, "show me the data."
She's kind of an amalgam between Mrs. Athena and Gung-ho Athena. She studies current research on sports nutrition. She loves CSI (the show) and sudoku.

Whiney Athena
Whiney frets over every little itch and twinge. Her butt hurts. Her feet feel numb. She's tired. She didn't get her 9.5 hours of sleep. Whiney doesn't push through the pain, or feel the burn. The burn hurts, and she's all about comfort. She likes her run temp on a slightly breezy, overcast day, with the temp between 55 and 65 F., she likes her bike windless with nothing more than a grade 3 hill on an overcast day with the temperature between 65 and 70 F., (and both of these with humidity between 25 and 50%) and she likes her swim open-water on sunny days with the water temp between 70 and 75. She wants all those conditions in every triathlon; that's not too much to ask, is it?
Whiney Athena loves lying on the hammocks in the shade, with the humidity around 20% and the temperature at 72 degrees F.

Whiney Athena scares me. Sometimes I think she's taking over.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

At the beginning of this week I had been feeling really whiney about my summer being over. I wasn't firmly into my 2nd week back to work. I really loved having the summer off the train whenever I felt like it - which wasn't as often as I should - but if I had the time back again, I'd be a training fool, I tell you. Lately, I've beeing whining. A LOT. I want to be done. I'm ready to retire.

I know what you're thinking, "Double-barreled Athena, most people work 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year. How can you whine about having to go back for your 182-day contract?"

Answer: Because I am, by nature, kinda whiney and complainy and very spoiled. I'm finally starting to feel something click in my running, and I want to have lots of time to run. As it is, I have to report to work at 7:10, earlier if I don't want to wait in a line of cars or fight parents to get to my parking spot. Every year I've gotten less and less excited about going back to work. This year is no exception in that trend. Hmm: sunrise run in the desert hills, or a room full of sleepy 8th-graders who really aren't all that interested in learning about the scientific method? which would you choose? I went back to work last week with a heavy heart, and a petulent countenance.

At least, that's how I'd been feeling until yesterday. It took a new teacher to help me put things in perspective. I teach the block, 90-minute classes, three per day. I start teaching at 7:30 and finish up around 12:45, including a 30 minute lunch. Then I have a 90-minute planning period, and then I go home. Anyway, the new teacher on my team was sitting there during our planning period. Like a lot of new teachers, this is a second career for him. He used to work in the corporate world. I also have colleagues who used to be nurses, lawyers, and Naval instructors. When I went in to help him out with some things, he said, almost in a daze, "You mean we're done for the day?"

That's when it hit me: I have a very sweet deal. I go to work, get challenged in every possible way, and then I'm done for the day fairly early. If I can't work out a training schedule around that, then that's my problem. I'm one of the few lucky ones that get to do something that they're good at, and get paid to do it. Most of the time, people even acknowledge that I'm important, in some small way, to the machinery we call society. And, just before I start to feel like it's too much, I can't take it anymore, and burnout is imminent, I get a few days, or summer, off. I'm home when my son is home. If I need to leave early, I can pick up some work and take it home, and work on it while sitting next to my Husband in our home. My sons teachers and his coach are friends of mine, and most of the time I've got a very tight hold on how and what he's doing in school, which, if you've had a teenager, is no small feat.
They've made me angry, and frustrated, and sad, yes, but nearly every day a student says something that catches me by surprise and makes me laugh, a story that I share with other teachers.
Let's not forget that I get 10 weeks off at the peak of triathlon season to follow my bliss.

So now that I've worked through this via blogger therapy, I realize how fortunate I am. I don't feel whiny any more. I feel pretty lucky.

(By the way, if you're reading this, triathletes, you should know that we can always use more teachers. )

Saturday, August 12, 2006

For Len (Race Report)

This morning Husband and I got up at 3:30, ate, packed the car, and headed down to Socorro. Socorro, New Mexico is the home of the state's school of Mining and Technology. I found out that the big M that is spelled out in rocks on the mountain stands for Mining, and not for Mountain, as I'd previously supposed. It is very close to the VLA, the Very Large Array of radio telescopes that collect signals from outer space, and the Bosque del Apache wildlife refuge, where thousands of migrating birds hang out every fall. It is about a 90 minute drive from Albuquerque.

Mini-me rode with Smilin' Cody in his truck. Destination: the Socorro Chili Harvest Sprint Triathlon and Team championship.

This is a pretty good race to run. Not only was the race pack pretty great (head sweats running hat with race logo on it and water bottle) but it's well organized, with tons of enthusiastic volunteers yelling with cowbells. This race sold out somewhere well over 300. I started out my morning by eating 4 hours in advance of the race: a Boca Chick'n patty on an herb roll, and lots of Gatorade Rain, then around 6:30 I drank my Sobe No Fear drink.

The 400 m. swim is a time trial, with people being released every 10 seconds, fastest people first. You went by your race number. I was #248, so I had plenty of time to hang out and chat. The first swimmer took off at 7:30. this was my chance to use my new goggles that I bought from Amazon.com, and yes, I know you're not supposed to do anything new on race day, but I have to say, it turned out well. I LOVE these goggles. I may marry them. They didn't fog up, or leak, and are corrective. They're Speedo Optical goggles, and I didn't have to stop once to clear them. I just swam. I passed a couple people, but I know by now that they'll probably pass me back on the bike and/or run. Unfortunately, the bottom of the pool is pretty nasty-looking (they have a lot of rust in their water) but it was a joy nonetheless. I tend to perseverate about ANY little itch, twinge, or inconvenience, but with these goggles, as I said, I just swam.
Results: 9:38.

So, out of the water! I wish I had something witty and funny to report but this really was one of my smoother transitions. I shoved my wet feet into socks and shoes, and headed out onto the bike. Then, I started hearing this noise. Oh, crap, my wheel is crooked again.
I finally pulled a bit more to the right to pull over, just in time for some woman - I never looked at her to figure out who she might be, to scream, "On your right! I'm passing you on your right!"

Scared the crap out of me. WTF? "Why are you passing me on the right?" I yelled back; looking down, I could see her front wheel between me and the curb, about a foot away. "Get your bike back! You're not supposed to pass on the right!"
"Well, I didn't have any choice," she shot back.
Eh? Like hell. There was PLENTY of room to pass me on the left, like you're supposed to do, and besides, there were parked cars all on the right. Who tries to pass on the right? Oh, I get it. People who can't read USAT rules. Or don't care. Or have decided they'd LIKE to kiss the back end of parked cars. Whatever.
And the noise, well, it was just my race number rubbing on my tire. Crap. I lost about 3 or 4 minutes for this?

anyway, The bike starts with this really long low grade climb. There are lots of these all the way out on the 20K route, along with very bumpy roads. This is one of the best marked bike courses I've seen; volunteers and cones where posted at every turn, pointing which way to go. The interesting thing is the little marks next to bumpy areas. the whole road is kind of crappy and bumpy, so in all honesty, the whole road should have been covered with little yellow scriggly marks, but I sure appreciated the effort, particularly next to the manhole covers.
so, anyway, as I said, the whole way out is a series of low grade climbs with lots of turns, but you don't realize you're climbing, you just think you really suck at the moment on the bike. I passed a couple, and a couple of people passed me.
Results: 48 minutes.

The run was mostly flat and had water stations and enthusiastic cowbell-waving volunteers, along with a couple of folks wielding water hoses. Boy, it was hot, but all in all, I have to say that I think I had a pretty good run. I was working on "scurrying," because I've got too long a stride, which wastes energy. I was feeling pretty good, too. The first mile took about 12 minutes, but then the last 2.1 took less each, and by mile 2, I'd found my pace - for the first time I felt almost speedy, well at least for me. I wound up with a negative split, and about an 11:50 pace.

Now is the part where I explain the title of this post.
Len, aka "Pretzle" is a member of the NM Outlaws Triathlon Team. In May, at the Buffman and Squeaky Olympic distance tri, he came out of the swim complaining of dizziness. It just wouldn't go away. An ambulance ride and several days later, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor on his medula. Pretty heavy stuff. I'm happy to report that after two surgeries, all of it has been removed, and he's in recovery, and planning to do Boston next spring. Meanwhile, however, the Outlaws had decided they wanted a particularly good showing at the NM Team Championship at this triathlon, to "win it for Len" So, toward the last part of the run a race volunteer told me I had 20 more yards to go, so I kicked it and tried to have a nice, strong finish, and came it - the last Outlaw, I think - but finished I was.

Now, out of a field of 17 Athenas, I wouldn't have expected to do too well, even given that it was divided into under 40 and Master's Athenas, but I was surprised to receive 3rd place, Master's Athena. I'll take a picture of the little plaque and post it later. Right now, I'm pretty tired.

Mini-me joined and started running with the Cross Country team at his high school this week, and he beat me by 14 minutes, winning third place in his age division. Awesome! Husband, meanwhile, won 1st place Clydesdale, overall, and that with a pulled calf muscle.

By the way, the NM Outlaws won the team championship. There were 21 Outlaws there, most of whom had first place finishes in their age divisions.
This one's for you, Len! We're sending you the trophy so that you can hold onto it this year, and come back and help us defend it in '07.

Afterwards, there were grapes, bananas, bagels, pretzles, coffee, and Lemon Gelato - wow. There was probably more, but there's only so much I can eat after a race, and besides, I wanted to go watch the kiddie triathlon that they have while you're waiting for the last runners to come in and results to be compiled.

Results: 3rd place, Athena Masters (Husband placed 1st Clydesdale, Smilin' cody got 3rd place in the under-40's Clydesdales, and Mini-me took third third age 15-17.)
Funky smell rating: :-)
No problems!
Course markings: A+, you could not get lost on this course.
Extra credit: Really happy volunteers that are super-friendly, waved cowbells, and squirted you with a water hose, and the kids tri that was held while you cooled off and waited for results.
Recommendations: The water is a bit warm, so if you really need cold water, bring your own ice; make sure your tires are in good shape because the road gets bumpy, and bring the kids, because they get their very own race after you're done, and get a finisher's medal.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Back to work. Whew.

I can already tell this, 2006-2007, is going to be a tough year.
I'd decided I wanted to commute by bike on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I may try to run to work and home on Fridays. Mondays will be for a long swim after work, and Wednesdays I'll do a short run before work. It's only 4 miles to work, pretty much half down a grade 7 hill, cross an arroyo, and then up a long grade 6 hill. We'll see if I'm better at keeping my training schedule now that I'm back to work than I was when I was off.
Fingers crossed. Knock on wood. Etc.
The good news is, I have tons of cabinets, and sinks (I teach science) in my classroom. I've got my own hot pot and microwave and one of my team members has a small fridge in their classroom where I have put some "spray on" salad dressing, so I can take instant stuff for lunch or eat salads. I also stocked my cabinets with oatmeal and apple sauce, as well as some drink stuff I found at WalMart called "morning spark" that is somewhat like Crystal Light with caffein. So, I won't have to worry about taking my lunch or coffee in the morning. It rocks. I like the Cranberry flavor.
I spent yesterday in meetings and inservice workshops, and managed to avoid my usual overly-optimistic volunteering for committees and groups, so that I'll have more time to train. It was tough to force myself up and out of bed in order to do a run, get home, cleaned up and to work by my 7:10 am reporting time, but I managed. Of course, I didn't have to be particularly "groomed" today. Next Wednesday will be different.

I'm thinking this will be the year of the wet ponytail and/or braid.

I also have to figure out how I'm going to carry my clothes with me. I'm thinking I'll keep a pair of sandals and hose at work, just in case, since I tend to forget these. Oh, and maybe powder. and deoderant.

Any thoughts, tips, and tricks from the ladies (or extremely vain men) on how they've handled commuting successfully by bike or foot would be appreciated.

Tomorrow: I meet 92 eighth-graders.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Hoffman Memorial Triathlon (Race Report)

I love going to Texas. I was born there, and I love being called "girl" and I especially love the way that drivers in rural areas there pull over the shoulder so you can pass them on two lane highways. I've never seen other drivers do that. As soon as you cross the border back into New Mexico, nobody does it any more.

The only thing I don't like about Texas, and always forget about until I'm there, is the fire ants that bite and sting like hell if you stand in one place too long.

The Hoffman Memorial Triathlon is held at the City Aquatic center in Midland, Texas, and they could give lessons on how to put on a triathlon. I attended this one last year as a spectator, before I had ever done my first triathlon. One of the things that so great about this fast, flat sprint is that it's really well organized. For instance, they have a course that could easily become crowded, but have figured out how to do it so that it doesn't.

The 500 yard swim was a seeded start. Beginning at 7 am (I love an early event!!) the participants released into the pool every 30 seconds, slowest swimmers going first (at registration, you estimate your swim time per 100 yards) About halfway through the participant list, they let the pool clear out and then let the other half go. The pool tasted almost a bit salty, and I was wondering if perhaps they use an alternative to chlorine for disinfecting it.
Other than my goggles going completely insane (for most of the season, they haven't leaked, but today, they were leaky city. I had to stop 4 or 5 times to adjust them) I think I had a pretty good swim. Time: about 11 minutes.

I was one of the first swimmers in the water, (eek) so I got to get out onto the ~22K bike course which is by and large flat and smooth, with just the tiniest undulations. It went mainly up along side a small highway, and then turned and went under, coming back. All turns were manned with police and volunteers, which was pretty nice, and heavily marked with bright yellow arrows that had remained despite a very heavy thunderstorm the night before. Total time: about 48 minutes.

The run is out of transition and then around some walking/running paths. Although there were a lot of different paths converging and diverging, the path was unmistakeable, because all turns were clearly marked with the bright yellow arrows and cones that were placed across paths so that you didn't accidentally go down the wrong path. You did three loops around this area and then ran through the finish line, and there was a total of 4 opporunities to run past an aid station during the run - outstanding! My total time: About 38 minutes (ugh. I'm still apallingly slow, but get a little less slow over time)

When I ran through the finish line, they announced my number, and my name, and then put some Mardi Gras beads around my neck and handed me a water bottle. Yay!

Results: 2nd place, Athena (Husband placed 1st Clydesdale, and Mini-me finished.)
Funky smell rating: :-)
No problems!
Extra credit:
Really happy volunteers that are super-friendly and seem happy and eager to be up at 6 am, standing out in the sun for several hours)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Pearls of Wisdom


I was discussing with someone recently about important things our parents told us growing up, particularly the ones that we remember most vividly, and the messages we want our kids to remember.
The thing is, you never know WHAT your kids will remember.

Here is what I remember most that my mom told me when I was a kid:

  1. You're smart enough to do anything you want.
  2. People will always judge you by the manner in which you speak.
  3. Always line your curtains with a neutral fabric facing the outside of the house; it's tacky to see the pattern of your curtains from the street.
  4. Your face is not proportional. Just do the best with what you have. (She was a professional artist, and teaching me to draw at the time.)
So far, my oldest has thanked me for teaching him how to begin a new paragraph whenever you're writing dialog, which I don't remember ever teaching him. That, apparently, is what he remember most so far.

My daughter is 18. The only wise words I've shared with her so far are:
  1. Always be aware of how your actions affect others.
  2. Motherhood is like having a roommate who sponges off you constantly, makes a mess, can't drive, and doesn't have a job; you can't do anything about it; you're stuck with that roommate for the next 18 years or more, so make sure you're ready to have something who is that needy for the next couple decades before you get pregnant, or else use protection.
The messages that I've been giving my youngest son repeatedly lately, hoping they'll sink in, is:
  1. Always be aware of how your actions affect other people.
  2. Everyone has an idea of what "normal" life is like. When you meet the person you want to live with or marry, paint a picture in your head of what your life will look like: your house, your day, what your children will be like, and how you'll raise them. Make sure that picture is a lot like her picture, because if it isn't, you will argue.
  3. I don't care what anyone ever tells you, or how much you think you trust her; use protection (he usually covers his ears when I tell him this and yells, "MOM!" It embarrasses him no end when I even BROACH to subject of s-e-x.
  4. Don't use drugs. There's no quality control in them. Coolness and friends come and go, but brain injury lasts forever.
What do you remember most from the things you're parents told you? What do you tell (or plan to tell) your kids that you hope will stick? I'm curious.
I imagine that my youngest son will remember something obscure, like, "keep your refrigerator full; it saves energy."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I didn't believe it when I was told about it.

Maybe you've alreayd seen these on the back of a truck.
When a siting of these was first reported to me, I thought he was making it up. Maybe I'm just a little naive, because when I finally saw them for myself in Albuquerque, I assumed that they must have some other function, and they resemble what they apparently are by accident. It never entered my mind that anyone would have any reason for having something like this, or buying it on purpose. I googled and found that it's just part of a larger, more alarming trend.

(Sigh)
Now, I'll be the first to admit that there are things that my sisters do that make me embarassed to be a woman. Much of the time, we are our own worst enemy. I like to give guys a lot of slack because I know that women play woman games, and men often have to respond to that.

But, lets be honest - this ecoutrement is all guy. You can't blame this on us; it exists for no other reason than, perhaps, the fact that is completely sophomoric.
Actually, I take that back. Mini-me is a high school sophomore this year, and he says he'd never buy them. Why? Because he couldn't think of a reason he would want a pair of fake testacles hanging off whatever it is he's driving. He still thinks I was making it up.