NEXT EVENTS: IRONMAN BOULDER 2014

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

Friday, August 29, 2008

On not looking like a teacher (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I don't have any workout stuff to talk about today. I did some swimming this morning at Cochiti with Lisa, and then I went shopping. I went to this little place that Pirate introduced me to last month called Black and White House Market, I think. The problem is, all my clothes look like teacher clothes NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT and they're too big.

Lately, I've had a craving to be more girlie. I always said that if I got a job where I wasn't on my feet all day I'd wear cuter shoes and plus, I usually dress a little less casually in the fall. Also, I had an interview of sorts today.

So I have teacher clothes even though I SWORE I'd never dress like a teacher NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT but darn it if I didn't anyway...and then I also got smaller, but my clothes didn't, but I kept wearing them, because I figured I could just move in the buttons and it would be fine.

The goal was, you ssee, to make myself as unattractive as possible, not ugly, but you figure teenage boys don't need anything to distract them from learning Algebra; hence, little jackets and long dresses to hide any hint that there was a woman underneath that loooong, coverall dress.

And there's the shoes. Lots of sensible, plain, comfortable, low-heeled shoes to go with my uber-sensible teacher dresses. NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

So put on my best, prettiest jacket dress this morning oh, my, it's just too big. Pretty, but too big. And it makes me look like a teacher, not like the position I was interviewing for. NOT THAT...WELL--you get the idea.

So I went to this place and bought stuff; and it was fun, buying girlie stuff. Then I went by where Sweet Baboo works and he looked up and said, in his good husband even voice, Hi Sweetie! Oh...You know, I don't think I remember that dress.

Which I think is Baboo code for whathaveyoudoneandhowmuchdidyouspend?

Now I ask you, how many husbands would instantly be able to tell that the wife was wearing soemthing new? Not many, I'd argue.

So, then I went to the interview.

You see, I found out during the past couple of weeks that the rate of clients who don't show up for their therapy appointments at the place where I'm working is around 40%. That means 2 out of every 5 appointments would leave me drumming my fingers on a desk. Well, I knew that I didn't paid if clients didn't show, and I knew that sometimes they didn't show, but I sure didn't know to expect that.

I'm not trying to get rich or anything, but have bills, like anyone does. I'll probably keep seeing people for therapy part-time, but I'm looking for something a little more stable in the meantime.

The interview was for a psychiatric research assistant, for a non-profit foundation that coordinates research grants in medicine for the VA. They promise I'll still have flexibility in my schedule, which is a big deal to me. I feel like the interview went well. I'll know more next week.

Then I went to Dillards to get some mascara, and it's mosty Pirate's fault that I visited women's shoes, where they were having a 75% off sale...there rest is not pretty to tell, because it implicates Pirate and if I say much more Sweet Baboo won't let me play with her any more.

He's camping with his brothers this weekend, but I suppose soon I'll hear something like, Hi sweetie! oh...I don't remember those shoes...

...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

In which I are a block of wood.


I found out that there is a semi-early morning yoga class at my gym 2 days a week that I can take before I go to work. I've been wanting to do this because I've read, and been told, that it can really help running to work on flexibility and core strength.

So, today, I want to yoga class. I went to one once earlier this year (hatha, super easy) and another one that was advanced (too advanced) but this was was level I-II so I figured I was safe.

I have always been very, very flexible. When I was younger, I was in gymnastics, and did the vaulthorse and balance beam. I could do a backbend and touch my toes to my head. Even into my early 40s I continued to be flexible, so I figured that this class would be good for maintaining my flexibility.

I knew that I needed to warm up my muscles before I stretch them, so I did my upper body lifting routine, and then ran about a mile at a good pace. Then, I headed up to the yoga studio.

Here's the thing about yoga. First off, it seems that in time that I've been working on weight-training and speedwork, I've apparently turned into a block of wood. The instructor even came over and tried, very gently, to help me down into some of the poses that used to be easy, but I told her, "Trust, me, this is as good as it gets." My hamstrings, especially, and my quads, are very, very tight. No seriously. I couldn't bend as far as I used to, and they are bigger, so they seemed to be in the way when I tried to kneel, or maybe that was my quads, who also refused to stretch.

The other thing about yoga it is a magnet for the passive-aggressive whining type. who complains about about every damned little thing. Most of them are women, and they are an embarassment to my gender.

Everyone in there is senitive to something. It's too cold. It's too hot. or rather, "is anyone but me in here cold?" (No.) and, "are these mats natural or synthetic?" "There's a funny smell coming from the heater; maybe we should turn it off so that we're not exposed to anything toxic." and the ever popular, "what are you drinking? tea? oh, green tea is so good for yo--it has SPLENDA in it? OMG, you should never drink diet drinks. They are so toxic."

And, it seemed that it wasn't enough that a couple people in there were extremely sensitive to all sorts of things, and deal with it, but for some reason, we all needed to know about it, so it was verbalized. Constantly.

Anyway, it was an hour and fifiteen, and I did a lot of good stretching in the hips and legs, and discovered that my left hip is a bit weaker than my right and my right hip is less flexible than my left and my hamstrings don't stretch at ALL.

But they will. I'm going to do this twice a week until I get my flexibility back. Maybe I can wear earplugs or something.

And I found a hair dresser. All in all, a good day.

...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Non-profit work has its downsides.

I have no office.

This wasn't exactly as I expected it. There are a finite number of spaces that are assigned to counselors who have been there longer, but none of them are there full time. The newer counselors then grab their spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. So here's the problem:

For the past three weeks, I get there about 9:30 in the morning, and discern what space(s) I can use for the day, and then claim it.

So I've had this incident happen twice now: I got there early, put my stuff in an office/cubicle thing and then came back with my client 15 minutes later and another counselor, who I will hereforafter refer to as Weasel, was sitting there with a client.

My books and laptop were still on the desk in front of her, and my jacket was on the back of the chair, and she just looked at me, and said, "there's weren't any other spaces available".

Weasel
just so you know, gets there around noon because she homeschools in the morning. Well, I don't care; as far as I'm concerned, tough fu**ing luck if you don't get there early enough. (There are several good reasons I call her weasel behind her back. Unfortunately, I just know I'm going to accidentally call her weasel one of these days. I just know it.)

I didn't want to make a fuss in front of a client, so I took my things and sat with my client out in the group room, where people continuosly interrupted us and asked if they could, "just hang out" in the group room. During my private therapy session. Uh, NO, you can't "hang out".

The next hour, there was a group session, so me and my next client were relegated to the outdoor smoking area. Luckly the client was stoked, because s/he smokes, but it was still pretty unacceptable as people were wondering through on the way to their cars.

I went in during a free moment and basically threw a temper tantrum with the director and said that we should make the whole idea of "first come" clear at the next meeting, but Dr. W doesn't like confrontation, because the very same day the handyman who works at the center started measuring unused space to put in walls to make two new offices. I've claimed the corner office.
Seriously. I raised my hand at the next meeting and said, "I call corner office!"

Actually, it's because it's in the corner, away from two loud swinging doors, and more private. It also has a window and a cabinet I can lock. The locking thing is big because there are some supplies that I'm going to bring from home that I can't reliably use at the center, and there is a weekend intern clinic and I don't want--ew--interns touching my stuff and using my supplies.
Yeah, I know. "Have pity, you were an intern once." Oh, whatever.

Being a champion of the poor means that, I guess, I get to become one of them.

Hopefully, my space will be completed soon. Then maybe I'll do some cheap dorm-room chic. I could go curb-shopping for a door and a couple of cheap filing cabinets to make a desk. I'll steal the extra chair out of Mini-baboo's room that functions as a resting place for Clothes That Have No Home and use that, too.

Maybe I'll grab my favorite local fashionista and we'll do a shopping spree at Target and do a whole dorm-room makeover thing. Except not with zebra stripes. I want to sooth my clients, not throw them into a seizure.

The "walls" will be 8-foot tall plywood, and there's a leak in the ceiling in the corner where my office will be, but I don't care. I still want it.

Oh, and I'll have to run an extension cord over to the next room, but I don't care. I still want it.

Yeah, not-for-profit sucks, all right.

But it's all still worth it, which gives you an idea of how much I hated my old job.

...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So, what would you do?

Baboo wanted to know what this was like, from my perspective, so here it is.

Well, the first half was like a big giant party, the weather was awesome - because I wasn't running 50 miles in it. I took pictures, and bought crappy food to eat - which actually had a purpose, because I've discovered that if I pull an all nighter I have to fill up with simple carbs or I bonk and start having asthma problems. it works for me. There were children running around, and the runners were still enthusiastic.

The path was beautiful. The first, and last 15 miles were difficult (more on that later) but the 70 miles in between were on a gorgeous railroad bed turned trail. It was smooth, root-free, and covered with a finely ground pea gravel. pink pea gravel. The scenery was gorgeous. What wasn't to love about this run?

Throughout the day, Baboo ate and drank as he should. He drank bottles of Accelerade, Nuun, and water, drank Slimfast meals-in-a-can. He ate powerbars, and at least one salted nut roll. His stomach got a little funky around mile 50, but then he walked for a while and talked to some of the other ultrarunners about strategies for taking in liquids, and felt better. He was peeing throughout the day as he should be. He never, at any time, had any danger of dehydration, hyponutremia, or low carbs.

Then, the sun got lower in the afternoon sky, and it was past the turnaround. Some runners started throwing up. Leg cramps began. Some runners sat down at aid stations, heads hanging, and then asked to be taken out of the race.
Then, the less stalwart of the crewers and spectators, of which there had been few to begin with, went home to sleep and eat, leaving their runners alone in the dark. As the runners started to lose energy, so did the cheerleaders. The party was over.

It cooled down. A lot.

There was this strange, dichotomous drama:
On the one hand, these people had paid to do this, so they were doing to themselves, right? On the other hand, anyone who has ever struggled to complete a endurance event may, or may not, know why they are doing it. There are forces far beyond the cost of an entry fee that drive them. There is some spoken or unspoken thing driving them forward, and they may or may not be able to verbalize it. it is what it is.
So there it is: the runners push forward, struggling, knowing that they can quit at any time, but struggling just the same.

We were late getting to the mile 80 aid station, and just in time to see Baboo walking away from the aid station already, having waited for us by the fire, and then given up.

Seeing him in the glare of the headlights was a startling sight: He was walking, stiff legged and almost trans-like, staring straight ahead into the darkness. He didn't even turn to look as we pulled into the driveway at the aid station. We called out for him to stop, and he was shivering hard. Scott told me later that at some other ultras, they would have pulled him off the course for that alone.

I touched my husband's arm, and his neck. He was cold and wet. We reached into the car to pull out pants, a shirt, and Scott pulled out a knit cap for him to put on his head. He put on a longsleeve shirt, as well, and finally felt better, then he left, heading out into the blackness, him and a headlamp making a very, very small spot of light in a large black void.

Okay. Well, this was no longer a big party. It was a giant worry fest. It stopped being fun, and I started wondering if this was all worth it.

This wasn't fun any more. It was horrifying.

And, it was about 1 am. He'd been running for 19 hours.

The next place that I saw him was at mile 84. He was better but his feet hurt. All this time, he kept forgetting to ask someone to look at his feet: this is a serious lesson I learned, that I must, must, insist on checking everything, regardless of what he says or doesn't say. By this time, Baboo had about 8 blisters on his good foot. The other foot was worse. About 2-3 miles later, Scott and his runner, Don, caught up to us, and Scott helped me take care of some of Baboo's foot issues. At least one of the blisters was so deep it could not be drained.

The last part of the course was a hilly, rolling road with 1-1.5 inch jagged gravel. I drove 3 miles ahead and waited for baboo. On the way to my 3 mile mark, I passed 2 runners. I stopped, turned off the engine, and then waited, getting the second of my 30-minute naps. Each time a runner went past, I woke up. Suddently I realized that about 6 runners had gone by, and no Baboo. I waited for a little while longer, unsure of what to do, and then there he was, dragging his poles behind him, telling me that they were horrible, and to take them. So, I did.

At this point, watching him walk, I wondered if he would even finish. I wondered if, for the first time since I've known him, my baboo would say, "I can't do this. It's too hard." and then climb into the car.

He was jogging a bit on the downhills, and walking the uphills, and it was painful to watch. It was about 3 am, and I was watching my husband struggle. By mile 89, his walk was a stumping, halting walk. Imagine your feet are blocks of wood that do not flex. That's how he walked.

I cried a little, and recorded how I felt.

Eventually, the sun came up. I followed behind Baboo, and he shared his worry with me about making the cutoff. I knew, from previous discussions, that my job was to make sure that he kept going. I knew that, medically, he was okay: He had enough carbs, electrolytes, and hydration to be safe, but his feet hurt so much. I knew how much he wanted this. I also knew that I didn't ever want to see this again: this suffering. It was very hard. During text messages, I assured his parents that I would not allow this again. Nope.

No way.

Now I'm wondering what he's planning. At one time, Baboo gasped to me that this wasn't his event, that he should stick to triathlon maybe, or maybe he was saying that triathlon hadnt' prepared him for this, I couldn't really tell. The gist of it was that I had the distinct impression that he wouldn't want to do this again, and I was satisfied: He'll finish this, it will be a single impressive achievement, and that's the end of that. He doesn't want to worry the people who care about him. The. End.

But what if...What if he wants to do this again?

I'm not sure that I can stand that suffering. On the other hand, if he insists on doing this again, I want to be there, not someone who doesn't have the same investment in his lack of suffering that I do. Is that caring? Or enabling?

On one hand, running 100 miles is just insanity. On the other hand, how can I stand in the way if he decides he wants to do this again?

I mean, what would you do?

...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Watching greatness suffer.

What was this like? Hmmm.

Ultramarathoning, in case you didn't know, is all about you, the runner. You have to get your own satisfaction from the experience, because there's little cheering or fanfare.

It's very low key; with the finish line being a small banner hung from a couple of poles and sometimes, no banner at all, just two cones.

I saw one cowbell on the entire 100-mile course. There's no medical tent with bags of fluid. There are occasionally medically-trained personnel, looking for danger signs, but they are mostly at the finish, I think.

There's much less spandex. Very little horribly expensive equipment. It's all about comfort in ultrarunning.
At the race start, there's no loudspeaker, no cannon. No motivational rock music. Few people seem to know what's going on, even when the start and finish are right next to their houses. At 6 am, or thereabouts, someone usually shouts GO! and, well, you go. Aid stations are usually well-stocked with high-glycemic foods and drink and lots of electrolytes. They are frequently between 5 and 15 miles apart. In this race, they averaged 5 miles apart.

There is usually fantastic scenery, which is good, because there are no cheering crowds. After a while, though, you're just looking at your feet, and the ground, and you miss the scenery.

Yesterday, there were enthusiastic, attentive families until it got dark, and then they pretty much disappeared, leaving their runners alone in the dark when they most needed someone to be there.

"Their" runners.

That's another thing. I was often asked about the progress of, "my runner." As in, "how's your runner doing? He feeling better?"

"My" runner. Then, "my runner," would show up, and first off, I'm not a good cheerleader. I just sort of ineptly call out, how ya doin'? and smile and try to remember things that people have said to me that made me feel good, but I can't quite pull it off.

I'm mostly busy being horrified by the hobbling and wincing and gasping and the puking going on around me. It's heartbreaking, watching people suffering at mile SIXTY and wondering if they have what it takes to rally for ANOTHER FORTY MILES.

Erk.

So then you have to say, something, anything, and what on earth can you say?

"Hey, only 40 more miles to go!"

"Gee, just slightly less than a marathon left - take it home!"

Not. so. much.

No, the only thing I could think of to do was to just chatter about things that had nothing to do with the race, or were tangentially related to the race.

Baboo took good care of his nutrition. He was well hydrated, took in plenty of electrolytes. He drank and ate well, including PowerBars, Accelerade, Nuun, and ready-to-drink meal replacements (in this case, French vanilla SlimFast). Couple of salted nut bars rounded out the experience.

He had a bit of stomach upset around mile 50, but not as bad as the guy I witnessed throwing up at least 4 times. After Baboo came back from the turnaround, I walked with him to the next aid station (pacers were allowed on this course) and got the car and drove to the next aid station, where I walked out to meet him, and he was running again. He ran well until around mile 80, when the blisters started.

Then there was that time when he stumbled back and lost his footing, rolling into a small ditch. It wasn't a hard fall, but how hard does it have to be when you find yourself lying on the ground after running 87 miles? You still have to get up, get back on your feet, and get moving. Every little thing, after 87 miles, is a very BIG THING.

Baboo cracked nary a smile in the last 20 miles, at least until we got to the giant yellow 95-mile sign, meaning he had only 5 miles to go.

But even then, it was a stretch;
he was hobbling 16 to 18 minute miles, on feet that experience ultrarunners told me would have taken them out of the race. He had large blisters on the soles of his feet, and was badly chafed in lots of sensitive areas.


I have never before seen my husband truly suffer, and finish something just by strength of will long after his body said, "time to quit, Baboo."

He voiced complaints that normally only come from me, and so they sounded eerily familiar:

"Why am I still going uphill? It's supposed to be downhill now. When does the downhill start?"


"Everyone is passing me. I'm going to be last."


"I'm not going to make the cutoff."

I'm immensely proud of this man, who I know finished this race out of sheer stubbornness, but I'm not a big fan of doing this again. I cried watching my normally confident husband falter and limp and suffer. I wasn't going to urge him to quit, but I couldn't quite bring myself to encourage him to continue, either; so, instead, I chattered on and on about nothing in particular to keep his mine occupied and off the pain. I asked him what he most wanted when he was done. (Blizzard from DQ, and some granny smith apples).

I could be wrong, but I don't feel like Baboo has the happy feeling of satisfaction that he has when he finishes a triathlon. It's more of a grim feeling of being finally done.



Then there is the residual suffering.

Being off your feet is little relief after something like this. You just hurt, hurt, hurt so much that you can't sleep peacefully, which you so desperately need after 27 hours of being on your feet.

Now, for some reason, Baboo is signed up for the New Mexico marathon in 6 days.

Even if his spirit is willing, his wife isn't. I'm leaving him at home that day (it's this Sunday) with no car keys or front bike tires.

I'm disabling comments for this post. I don't want you to tell me how great he is; tell HIM how great he is. (I already know how great he is.)

...

HE's DONE!


He's done. I took tons of pictures and tiny little short videos, which I'll string together at some point and make a slide show out of. He finished at 9:30, meaning that he ran/hiked/walked 100 miles in 27.5 hours.

There was very little phone service, and I never knew when I would have it. Internet? Fugettaboutit.

Yes, his feet hurt. Yes, I was concerned. It was a long and emotional night for me, and for him, as well.
He (and I) will post more after a couple days. Right now, it's time for sleep/pizza/laying horizontal.

...

Saturday, August 23, 2008

way better

just got an update. it's good news!

mr. geek girl just passed mile 65, and he's feeling "great". which is a great sign. He's taking on his nutrition, he feels good. only potential problem is the feets - geek girl says his feet are starting to hurt.

Really? 65 miles in and his feet hurt? That's it?

Anyway. Geekgirl is pulling a Rock Star All-Nighter to pace her man, but I'm about to turn in for the night. I know, what kind of remote crew am I?

and so, we have parting haiku:

over sixteen hours
geek man has been running and
now his feet feel bad


sending positive
healing thoughts towards the feet
not as nice as ice


I'm still amazed that
anyone would choose to run
one hundred miles straight

positive mojo

i have now had two messages from the great beyond.

43 miles, stomach hurts

ooh. not good.

mile 56, losing his appetite.

ouch.

but, it's still early. he can turn it around, he can get his nutrition sorted out and feel better. Not great, but better. He knows what he's doing -- he's very prepared. I have faith.

it's time to whip out the 100 mile race haiku:

mr geek girl runs
he is running one hundred
finish, mr. geek

it is time for the
internets to extend the
positive race vibes

dude: one hundred miles?
who runs one hundred miles and
does it all at once?

notes from south dakoooota

hi everybody, it's the dread pirate rackham posting in Geek girl's absence. she's been sending me text messages to let me know how the Baboo is doing. thought I'd post here to tell the world. I can't call him Baboo, however. I don't call him that, he's not my spouse. I'll call him Mr. GeekGirl, that seems safe.

last message said they're in Custer. Dang, that's a ways out.

Lessee...according to the map, that's 35.5 miles out. That was a little while ago, so by now, he's probably at least 40 out. Temps in the high 70's, she saw he is doing well, she planned to surprise him with ice cream.

I could use some of that right now.

more to come, I'll post it as I find it out.

GO MR GEEK GIRL!!!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The fine art of obsessing.

Today, we spent the day getting ready for Sweet Baboo's first 100-mile ultramarathon. Baboo would like me to share with you a quote by Goethe, that he really likes:

Whatever you do, or dream begin it now...
boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
Begin it now.


Right now, himself is sitting on the couch, staring off into space, trying to think, think, THINK if he's forgotten anything.



How do you get ready to run 100 miles?

Interactive Course map and profile
and, taped to the inside of the lid:

In this blue box, is the following:


Then there's the stuff in the mini-fridge, which will go into a cooler tomorrow:


At the race meeting and packet pickup:


After this picture, the camera mysteriously quit working...

...

Greeting from Hot Springs, South Dakota

There are some activities Sweet Baboo engages in ONLY in hotels.

First, as Baboo is descended from the wooly mammoth people, he first marches over to the AC and cranks it, full blast, so that I spend the rest of my time in the hotel shivering under blankets or taking hot baths. Doesn't matter where we are or the actual ambient temperature.

The other thing he does is get up early, and quietly get mostly ready (fine). He does this without waking me, and then as I begin to wake up he starts saying, over and over again, patiently and evenly, "so, are you ready yet?" He then commences to all sorts of gestures and sighs to indicate that he is being extremely patient: He lays on the bed, stares at the ceiling, walks around flapping his arms, and continues to ask, very nicely I might add: "are you ready yet?"
This is exclusively hotel behavior; it does not appear at home. Ever.

But if that's the worst that there is then I'll take it, so just put your paper and pencil away because he's still "taken".

Anyway.

I like to think that I 'grew up' in South Dakota because it was here that my frontal lobes finally reached that crucial stage of development such that I one day sat up, looked around the small rent house from which I was about to be evicted, and thought: I have to change my life. And I did.

Only in the tiny town of Volin, SD, population 200, could I have done it the way that I did it: buying a $2,500 house, and $60 car, and going to a small midwestern university while supporting three kids.

It was a peaceful life, where I was able to learn to become self-sufficient in the absence of a convenient urban center. It had all the important things you need in life: available food, safety, and shelter, with none of the things I didn't need at the time: crime, complications, shady people. My kids went to school in an old sandstone schoolhouse where they actually rang a big old bell to signal school starting. In the 90s, when they were installing metal detectors in schools in the US, my kids had to show their trays to the principal, who knew every single child by name, only to be told, You can eat a few more of those peas, Derek...Jon, you're finished. Go ahead and scrape your tray. After eating their bread, freshly made that morning, and the rest of their meal, they then had to put their silverware, (not plasticware) in a tub of soapy water, and scrape off their plates.

But, I left Sound Dakota in 1999 because there were no jobs for me. That's actually the only reason I left. There were, and still are, a lot of things to like about SD; here's a short list:

1) Pink Roads. They use a chip-seal method of maintaining roads here, and the "chips" that they use are made from ground-up red quartzite. The result: pink roads. Not road-bike-friendly, but cute.

2) People are hard-working, but laid-back about it. This is hard to explain, but mostly, it's a mind-my-own-business and do my work sort of thing.

3) Lack of pretentiousness. Nobody cares what kind of car you drive, what kind of jeans you wear, or how edumacated you are. Of course, in some venues, the right tractor says a lot.

4) Safety. You can, literally in almost the entire state, leave your car running while you go into the store, gas station, coffee shop, whatever, and your children can wonder free.

5) Stuff grows like crazy here.
Especially large, colorful flowering things, and things that smell crazy good, and stuff to eat.

6) Large critters.
It's kind of cool to be doing an early morning run through just a regular neighborhood and come upon deer, hanging out in someone's front yard. They didn't even seem upset or concerned, though they kept their eyes on me.

I like the town we're in right now, Hot Springs. I have noted the presense of not one single teenager here, which might explain the lack of vandalism and litter. Refreshing. There is also a small VA here. Interesting. The people, of course, are super nice.

We ate this morning at the Flat Iron Grill, and I had mixed feelings about it: I loved the atmosphere, and the food, what there was of it, was good. However, my feeling is that if you want to serve small, expensive portions of food in a semi-formal garden in a historic inn, along with an expensive latte, then you should put it on a real plate, not a not a throw-away plate, and the same with my coffee. Second, you can be generous with cheapter ingredients. Baboo, for instance, ordered oatmeal as part of his breakfast, and got about 3/4 cup of it in a large soup bowl. I mean, c'mon, oats are not expensive; fill the darn bowl. Other than that, it was pretty good, just kind of expensive for the amount you got.

Tomorrow I won't be posting much, because I'll be crewing for Baboo. His 100 mile run starts at 6 am, and I'll be meeting him about every 4-6 miles at aid stations through the day and night.

...

Monday, August 18, 2008

Miscellaneous stuff

I've been watching the Olympics these days. It's interesting because 4 years ago, when it was on, I didn't watch it. I could have given a rat's ass. But now, well now I watch and I appreciate the skill, and the effort, and what I imagine is a grueling workout schedule.

When I was watching the swimmers, I was imagining that, all over the country, triathletes were gathered around TVs, their noses about 6 inches away from the screen. I imagine there's a hushed sort of excited chatter. Notetaking, even. See? See there? See how he moves his arm all the down like that?

Oh, yes--Thanks to the miracle that is Youtube and the Internet, we'll be analyzing the hell out of the swimmers, runners, and bikers, won't we?

So, but, what caught my attention yesterday was Sweet Baboo was watching the sprinters, the female sprinters. I wasn't paying much attention at the time, as I was watching a recording of the opening ceremony on my computer, but then he said something and I looked up and then, well, there it was: women who look like me. There they were: long torsos, low centers of gravity, solid bodies. Sprinters. I'm a sprinter.

At least, I sort of have the body of one. So how come I'm so damned slow? Oh, yeah, I remember now - it's that whole training thing.

So I was interested in this whole body type thing, and I looked around on it, and I found this:

174 women (in Olympic track and field events) were measured. On average endurance runners (3000 m and marathon are 4.8 years older, 6 cm shorter and 5 kg lighter for their height than sprinters (200 m and 400 m). A consistent trend of decreasing body mass index with run was observed; adjusting for height the marathon runners were 7 kg lighter than 100 m sprinters.

I also found this: To what type of sport are you suited?

So, well, obviously there's lots more to it that just "body type": estimates are that sports success is "55% nature, and 45% nurture".

But it's fun to look at and think about.

<-- Oh, BTW, here's my commute to work (1-way). As you can see, it's mostly flat. yet, I'm surprisingly tired at the end of the day on days that I commute. I mean, whooped, head hurts trying to keep my eyes open sort of tired.

Thursday, I leave to accompany Baboo to his first 100-miler. Be sure to throw lots of blogger love his way.

...

Mostly thinking out loud.


OUCH. Man, my Adductors? the muscles on the inner thighs? and my feet are just screaming. Clearly, I need to do some more downhill stuff.

At one point when I was running downhill yesterday, you know, the day that DP tried to kill me, my left ankle also felt week and threatened to give out. It wasn't a pain, exactly, just a reminder that ANY SECOND now, it could just fail, probably because the big muscles that are supposed to take care of it couldn't, so I need to work on that, too.

I figure that the quads and adductors and such are pretty much all that keeps us from rolling downhill, and mine got a lot of use yesterday. Now I'm worried about the New Mexico marathon on the 31st because a large portion of the run is downhill. It's about a 1000 foot drop over 4 or 5 miles.
That didn't used to be a problem, but I've spent most of the triathlon season focusing on long, flat runs so now, well, I guess we'll see, won't we? Yeah, we'll see. In about 12 days.

Now that I'm not a teacher, I'm not on my feet all day. Being a teacher was a tremendous advantage; my body was used to being upright, and I wore flat shoes that kept my archilles nice and stretched.

Most people underestimate the adjustment your body has to make to be upright for long periods of time--marathons are about running, sure, but they are also about being used to being upright for long periods of time - that's why they take so much out of you. Your legs, spine, pelvis--everything has to adjust to bearing your entire body's weight vertically on a smaller area (your feet) than when you sit. Even as active as I have been, every August I would head back to work and the first few days would be spent with a sore lower back and achy feet.

So now that I'm not teaching, if I want to continue toward ultra-running. I'll have to increase my weekly running volume and maybe even walk on days that I'm not running. I'll need to do different types of running: hills, flats, trails. I have one more sprint triathlon and then an Olympic, both in September, and then I'm pretty much done for the season and I'll be focusing on running and swimming, with some cycling for cross-training, mostly in spin class when it gets cold and some commuting.

So here's another thing about not teaching. Teenagers? In my town? Don't know me. I'm just some old lady in a skort. And, I kind of get that eye-rolling thing reminding me that I'm a patently uncool grownup and I feel like yelling, "Hey, turdager! I am SO cool! Wanna race? I may not win in the short race but I'll keep running long after you quit..."

I have got to get over this need to appear cool. It's not my job anymore.

I was 58 degrees this morning. Finally. Oooo, I love fall!

...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Yet another well-meaning friend tries to kill me.

I think DreadPirate is in cahoots with Cindy.

A note: If you go for a run with DP, multiply all distances she "thinks" something is by about 1.4.

Then you should ask, "how steep is the hill? and the multiply that, too.

At left, my run profile, annotated with things DP said.

And yes, we were above the clouds. I'm not just being melodramatic. (Okay, well, just a little. But still. I almost DIED. to DEATH)

But it's all good. I had papas with green chili, eggs, and veggies afterwards. Yum!

And Sweet Baboo is home.

Sigh.

Baboo is home.

..

Friday, August 15, 2008

If it comes back, it's yours forever.


If you slip out the door despite all my attempts to keep you safe,

If you insistthat things are wayyyyy better out THERE where NOBODY LOVES YOU AS MUCH AS I DO
instead of here where you are cherished and adored

well, you can just stay outside for a while.

So there.

>sniff<

Stupid cat.

...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

If you can't swim, are you a triathlete?

At Barb's race, I passed about two or three people in the river. Not because they were slowly swimming, but because they were walking. I'd heard a couple people talking ahead of time about their intent to walk during the swim if they got tired.

Last week at Socorro's pool swim, I thought I noticed someone walking in another lane. Another participant confirmed this later: a competitor was walking down one of the lanes.

Earlier in the season, I saw people stand up and walk around the buoy at the Milkman Sprint.

I also saw people walking during the Jay Benson Triathlon. Now, I know that swimming is hard. and I don't have a problem with someone stopping and resting. I don't have a problem with someone getting to the end of a lane and stopping for a breath.
But walking down the river? down the swim lane?

how can this be legal, or fair?

I googled this and found the following:
USA Swimming Rules and
Regulations stated, “...a swimmer must not leave the pool, or walk, or spring from the bottom.”

USAT, meanwhile, states: "...Excluding the bottom, a participant shall not use any inanimate object to gain forward progress."
so is this USAT's way of saying, "Go ahead: you can walk"?

So am I really bitchy for saying, dude, if you can't swim, why aren't you doing a duathlon? then I thought, okay, I walk during the run, and I've walked my bike up a hill, so should I even care about this? but then I thought, that's not even comparable.

The original intent of the triathlon was to see which was the better athlete: the swimmer, the runner, or the cyclist. Triathlon, then, is about being able to handl three sports: swimming, cycling, and running. I have to say that I feel a little cheated that people who can't swim then hop on their bikes and then procede to beat me in a "triathlon" when they haven't finished the swim.
As far as I'm concerned, they didn't beat me in a triathlon, they're just better cyclists and maybe better runners than I am. How can you call yourself a triathlete if you can't do one of the three things that are in the event?

or should I care?

I've been perseverating on this for a couple weeks now, and it still bugs me. I'm worried that, if we don't nip this in the bud, that we'll just see hoards of people walking during the swim and we'll have to swim around them.

...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School days, school days. (Haiku)




Yellow buses roll

children head glumly to school

moms and dads celebrate.

Monday, August 11, 2008

On getting my butt kicked.


Boy. Talk about resting on your laurels! So after Ironman Coeur D'Alene I was all full of myself; I was all, you know that thing, the the gesture where you lick your finger and lay it somewhere on your body and go, tsssssssssss--yeah, i was all that

and I wasn't doing any speed work,
and then I showed up at a local sprint. Unbeknownst to me, my closest rival, fellow NM Outlaw "Warpath" Karen, had been doing some serious speedwork since the LAST time I beat her (twice, but who's counting) and of course, you know what happened next:

yes. Of course, she kicked my ass. SOUNDLY.
and that's even considering that SHE doesn't even have any place to SWIM where she lives, nor does she have any paved roads. She beat the crap out of me.

Lucky for me that Karen is also one of the most awesome people I know. Karen's been doing triathlon for at least 20 years, and for 19 of them has been an Athena. When I first met her, she sat me down and the speech she gave me went essentially like this: bodyglide, bodyglide, bodyglide, bodyglide. Best advice I ever got, hands down.

So, this past Saturday, she had no reservations about telling me what speedwork I should be doing. I sat next to her for nearly an hour after the race and soaked it all in, like a big giant Athena sponge. I had already made a goal of doing speedwork after Ironman but hadn't really followed through on it yet, but after Saturday, I was humbled, after placing fifth Athena, and I made a new training plan for the rest of August in which I do some speedwork in each of the three at least once a week.

Today I started the swim speed work, which I got off Beginner Triathlete, and then cycled uphill onto the mesa and back home. I used my commuter, which has SPDs, and I'd like to point out that I don't ever, ever, ever have to look down to clip into my SPDs. Are you sick of hearing about my pedal angst yet?

Oh, and I can do SIX REAL PUSHUPS now. SIX! I'm pretty sure I've never done that many at one time in my LIFE. I'm thinking, at this rate, I will make my 2008 resolution of doing ten pushups in a row, and then some.

...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

DANGER WHEELS! A Race Report.

Today was my third annual participation in the Annual Socorro Chili Harvest Sprint Triathlon, which I did with Sweet Baboo and mini-Baboo. Like to give a shout out to the Sanchez's, Kim and Ray, who were nice enough to chat with me and ask my advice, which is AMAZING; I'm AMAZED and confounded that somebody would ask me my advice on anything!

There a lot of Outlaws there and a couple bloggers: Courtney, Lisa, Cindy, SWTriGal, and lots others.

Now, last week I threw a tempter tantrum about my blown tire at Barb's race. I hated my Look pedals, because they make me fall, and I hated the tires, because I wasn't able to change them. Well, Sweet Baboo took me out to the garage yesterday and talked me through changing a tubular tire. Then, I changed the other one.
It was so easy! Why were people telling me that you had to cut them off? Wussies.
I popped that sucker off easy cheesey, then pulled of the old glue strip and then put on a new one, and then two brand new tires, and inflated them, and changing one, timewise, took the same amount of time it takes to change a tube on a clincher.

My flat kit now has a pre-stretched tubular and glue strip. Now I'm all empowered, and stuff. I'm certainly not afraid of tubeless tires any more.
Plus, my brand new tires are YELLOW. Here's the result:


Did you know in nature that the colors red, yellow, and black are colors that are Aposematic? They signal danger.

Rrrrrrr. Watch out for me, I'm danger kitty.

(Okay, well, actually the danger is that I'm so slow that you'll have to find a safe to pass and/or not trip or swim over me.)

But anyway.

I can't compare my times to last year because this was held on a completely different course, and because I did a half marathon 6 days ago, so my legs are, how shall we say it, a bit COOKED.

But, I did this race in 2006 and was about 3 or 4 minutes faster this year that I was back then. The course has a few long climbs on it - they aren't steep, but they're long. And the road is bump-p-p-py, but if you don't mind the jarring, and your water bottles are secure, then it's not so bad. The run is mostly flat, and the swim is a seeded start in a warm pool. It's a nice little sprint, well supported.
Sweet Baboo didn't do as well as he would have liked. We'll excuse him, this time, being as he did an ironman 6 days ago.
Mini-baboo had a hard time of it, being as he's 17 and believes that once you're fit, you NEVER, EVER, HAVE TO WORK OUT AGAIN. LAY OFF MOM, I SAID MY RUNNING WAS FINE! WHY ARE YOU BUGGING ME ABOUT THIS? I SPENT MOST OF THE SUMMER WORKING, MOVING FURNITURE AND CHANGING TIRES, AND I'M TELLING YOU, I'M READY FOR THIS SPRINT!

Oh, I almost forgot (added later) I got 2nd place master's Athena, and I think 3rd place overall Athena.

I like my bike again.

But I still hate the pedals.

...

Friday, August 08, 2008

Good things.

Mood music. Go ahead and listen to it; I'll explain why soon.


Good things that happened this week:
  • I had several nice runs. I felt fast. Of course, I wasn't fast, but I felt fast. That's a nice feeling. I'm falling into a nice work week routine of running 2-3 times and doing strength stuff afterwards.

  • I found my Garmin! I'd misplaced it after the Ft. Worth run. As it's my third Garmin (I lost the first one and ran over the second one), I know Sweet Baboo was somewhat distressed at the possibility of its loss, although he hid it well. Still, sometimes, I wonder, how often does Baboo have to hide his distress. Is he just working up a huge ulcer because of me? I downloaded the info and found out that I did the run at a 12:09 pace for 25 K. That's almost fast enough to be called "running". (WeightWatchers classifies anything over a ten-minute pace as "jogging".)

  • On a related note, I have now found all the stuff this week that I los tduring July. Yay!

  • I went running with Baboo this morning. My moderate run matched his very slow run, and while running, Sweet Baboo was able to discourse easily on a number of subjects, while I gasped out occasional answers, one or two words at a time.

  • At the end of my 2nd whole week after signing my contract, I now have 9 clients. My goal is a roster of about 25 or so. The secret is to hang out and do intakes which, the other counselors don't like to do, and then assign the client to myself. Bwahaha.

  • I've been doing some dumbbell strength excises about three times a week to strengthen my noodly, weak upper body, and proud to report that this week I graduated to 8-pound weights (from 5-pounders) AND, I can do FOUR WHOLE PUSHUPS. The real ones. No knees.

  • For the first time in a very, very long time, I had no idea what day school started for Mini-Baboo. I had to look it up. Just 9 more months...

  • We're having a good "monsoon season". It's rained about every other day. Our Coral Honeysuckle that nearly died while we were in Idaho is blooming, and the hummingbirds are going crazy around it.

  • I'm getting pretty excited about the Colorado Relay. Have I mentioned the relay? The ten or so of us spread across two vans and 170 miles of Colorado? I don't want to detract from anything our Team Captain has to say about it.

  • So about the video. Well, this song is just stuck in my head, and I'm hoping that by getting it stuck in your head I can exorcise the demon. Good luck!
...

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

More on my shiny new life.

I was thinking last month about all the fine people I know at my old school who went back to work today. They reported at about 7:15 or so, and on the 12th, the kids show up. They'll have five classes each of about 30 kids. If I had not resigned, I would have spent today making 5 seating charts and writing out introductory letters to parents, writing 2 weeks worth of lesson plans, and trying to arrange my room to meet all the rules:

  • Make sure your content standards are posted where students can see them.
  • Make sure your class rules are written in font that can be easily read by non-readers.
  • Make sure all the tables (yes, table, not desks) are arranged in a way that kids can see the white board, AND the smart board, AND the television.
  • Format my lessons so that the CPS system is used (with the smart board) EVERY DAY.
A month ago, when I was thinking about this, I was wondering I was wondering if I'd miss it.

So this is how my day went, instead:

I have a morning run now on most days at 6 am. Today at 7:15 I took my kid to the same school where I used to work for cross country practice, but after the 12th, I won't do that any more.

Then I went home, showered, made myself a latte and egg-beater omelet, then drove my car to a shady spot not far from my house, and then pulled my bike out of the back and commuted downtown. It was about an 11 or 12 mile commute, and I got there early, time enough to look over charts and such for the day.



My commute is about 40 minutes. It's a flat dedicated bike trail along the river. Then I turn in and head down a few nearly deserted side streets, past a coffee shop, and then at the counseling center, park the bike in a storage room, and change out of my shorts. Most of the people downtown are used to cyclists and drive pretty slowly there anyway.

Today I had a full day of clients and it was definitely challenging, but not the kind of challenging where you take lots of deep breaths to avoid throwing things at people; it was more the problem-solving kind of challenging.

At the end of my day, I got home later than I used to, but again: that commute, along the river, which provided a lovely 40 minute buffer between work and home.

Is this my new life? Well, I'll take it, thank you very much.

...

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Barb's race: DNF

Added 8/4: Mood music.


Well, what can I say. Statistically, it was bound to happen sooner or later: I DNF'd due to equipment failure. Actually it wasn't so much equipment failure as it was realllllly crappy road failure, whose many flaws you could not see due to the dappled sunshine on the course.

But I"m getting ahead of myself.

I started my morning by eating a mess of Ramen about 3 hours before race start (lots of sodium, and simple carbs) They had already said it would be unseasonably warm. Right before the race I had a powerbar and an energy drink. I had a good swim. I swam at a steady pace, not really trying to haul ass, or anything. I also did not WALK in the river. I have a real problem with that; in my opinion, if you can't swim, do duathlons. So I did about 45 minutes on the 1.2 mile swim, without sinking.

Then I had another energy bar, and headed out on the bike. I went over the aforementioned crappy parts in the road around mile 14.5, and immediately I heard this noise: PDTHLPDTHPLDTHPDLTHPDTHLPDPLTHDLPDLTHPDTHLPDPLTHDL
I pulled over to the side of the road, staring down at my bike, but I couldn't get my feet out of the pedals in time and fell over, and--WHAM!

Have I mentioned how much I hate cycling?

I had cuts and bruises on me, but more importantly, I found a cut in my rear tire right along the rim. I have tubeless tires. Apparently, these can't be fixed, on THIS course, on THIS day, in THIS weather. I did not know this. I started walking, once I realized I couldn't change the tire. Several very nice people stopped and tried to help, and then agreed: this tire couldn't be fixed on THIS course, in THIS weather.
And, despite several promises by 1) a race official, 2) a race volunteer, and 3, 4, 5) several athletes to promise to let the sag wagon know that I needed help one never showed, so I hiked for about an hour, and then finally took a ride back to t2 and turned in my chip.

The people that picked me up seemed to have trouble finding their way back to T2, and so during that hour (It was now about noon) several things were going through my mind:
1) I really hate cycling, and here's one more reason why.
2) I'm always complaining about how I can't get to the run unless I do the cycling, and
3) I ate a buttload of food this morning, and now how will I work it off?

And I was pissed. I mean, I've never made a secret of how much I hate cycling, but it irks me that I have to endure it just to get to run. I was talking to someone before the race who was doing the aqua-bike, and thinking whistfully, why isn't there an aqua-run? Why can't leap into the river, swim my guts out, and then go running? No fair.

So, I decided to make my own aquathon. I was also thinking about how, last year, I walked off the course at Soma because I decided it was too hot. Maybe, at least in my own mind, I could put that half together with this half and make a whole half, and, hey, why did I always have such rotten luck with half irons? Maybe it's just not my race. So, I did what any idiotic stubborn Athena triathlete would do: I went and ran the half marathon.

The run course was surprisingly hilly, and it was 98 degrees. 98. Degrees. (Estimates were between 96 and 98.)
However, I had a secret weapon: my uber-cool Injinji's, yes, but more importantly, my keep cool bandana. This is actually two bandanas sewn together with an absorbant pad in the middle, and parts of the sewing left open so that you can load it with ICE. So you load it with ice, soak it in water, and then tie it around your neck, tucking the pointed part down the neck of whatever top you're wearing, and here's the result:
The ice melts slowly, and cool water trickles continuously down your neck and back.
I'm tellin' you, it's the BOMB. I can't wait to run in the heat again so that I can use it.

Oh, and be really careful about running under those sprayers. I realized around mile 9 that, um, you want to keep your feet dry when you're running longer distances. It's not a good idea to run in soaked shoes and socks and pound your soft, wet feet with nearly 160 (or whatever) pounds for 13 miles. Yikes.

So I ran the half marathon, and I ran in the company of a woman named Cory Churches from DC, and I was thanking her because without her I would have said, "crap, this is hot and I'm DNF anyway, so I'm quitting," while meanwhile, she said I kept her on pace. She told me that later when she stopped by to tell me, excited and breathless, that she was first Athena in the awards. I felt pretty good about that.
People during the run were all screaming and waving cowbells and it was just too much to say, No, I'm DNF, I'm not a real finisher but eventually I just said, "thanks". I did the half marathon in 2:56, not a PR for me, but considering the 98-degrees I was running in, I was pretty happy with my results.

So what have I learned today?
First, I'm switching back to clinchers. It's a very nasty feeling knowing that I can't fix my own tires, and I lack the crew to do it for me.
Second, Look-type pedals suck. I'm apparently much too retarded to coordinate getting my feet into them, and I've given it 2 years to get used to them, but I can't work it out, and walking in the shoes with Look-type cleats is nearly impossible. Not sure what I'll do next.

After I stayed to watch Sweet Baboo finish the iron-distance, I showered and ate.
Then I came back to chew on the skin on the sides of my thumb while DreadPirate finished her first Iron distance race. She finished at 10:51 pm, with nine minutes to spare since this very hot, difficult course closed down at 11 pm. After she crossed the finish line she looked at me, glassy-eyed, and I think--I'm not sure--she said something like, Holy Fuck Buckets. and I said, "Huh?" and she said that again. Her mommys, et al, whisked her away, wrapped in a mylar blanket and now I"m sure she's passed out somewhere, and can tell you all about her adventure.

Results: DNF.
Sweet Baboo got 2nd place in the Clydesdales.
DreadPirate went Iron!
21st Century Mom is, like, the best sherpa EVAR.
Keep cool bandanas are the Bomb. if you have to run in the heat, get one. Now!
My nutrition worked well, for what I did:
3 hours prerace: power bar and 2 servings of ramen
1 hour prerace: double latte, sipped slowly
post swim: power bar#2, lots of gatorade.
pre-run: power bar #3, lots of enduralytes, lots of water.


...