Sunday, April 30, 2006

Gear Review: The Honda FIT

Not long ago, Everyman posted the Top 5 cars for Triathletes. This post was a scream, but I'd like to recommend a 6th one: the new Honda Fit.

I'm loathe recommend a car as "triathlon gear" but you gotta check this out. We were originally at the dealership stairing lustfully at the Honda Element and on our way out, we passed by a little bug of a car.
"What on earth is that?" I queried.
I stepped closer, fascinated. That sticker couldn't be right... 34 mpg city?? 38 mpg highway?? $13,850 starting price??

I'd been bummed ever since they stopped making a civic hatchback. My trusty 98 civic "geek girl", which I bought in grad school, was finally showing its age. The a/c was out, the front windshield was cracked, and it was starting to nickel-and-dime us to death. The "geek-girl" was so named because of the vanity plate that adorned her. (I was ready to get rid of this place, too, since I am now employed and no longer a college "geek" but then there's the whole Kahuna-get-your-geek-thing going on, so I'm staying with it) Plus, I have this ethical thing going: any car of mine has to be reasonable priced, get good mileage, and be a low-emission vehicle - which the Honda Fit is, in spades.

This tiny car fits both our tri-bikes! lying! both Clydesdale Husband and Athena Me - both our bikes fit diagnally in the back, without too much trouble, after folding the back seats into the back. It's astonishing - like one of those clown cars at the circus. It handles nice and tight.

No more chewing on the side of my finger, wondering if any more aerobar pads or bikes are flying off the top of the car where we had the bikes mounted. No more wiping down a pair of furry bikes when we drove throught that big swarm of Texas gnats. Plenty of room for a couple transition bags, hot pot, extra bag for makeup, bike tools and pump...all without having to maneuver or twist or scrape up the interior. The back seats can also be folded up in a different way, so that when they are lifted up and out of the way, there is a to leave a tall cargo area right behind the seats. Apparently, in this capacity, it will also hold a llama.
Anyway, there it is. We're still getting the Element a little later, because as cool as this car is, we can't carry both bikes AND 15-year-old son, so we need a family car and the Element holds 3 bikes and 15-year-old son in the back. But for a pair of tri-geeks and their bikes, this car rocks.

If they ask if you were referred, tell them Misty in Rio Rancho, NM sent you. Maybe I'll get a door prize or something.

Los Alamos Duathlon, Little Boy Course (Race report)

White Rock, New Mexico.
This Duathlon (link), in a suburb of Los Alamos, had two options: the "fat man" course, which was a 10k run, 40k bike, and 5K run, or the "little boy" course, which was a 4K-15K-4K.
(Yes, that's right, they're named after the atomic bombs)
I chose the latter. Why? Because the bike was highly "techinical"- this is my new word of the week. It's a fancy triathlon/cycling term for "curvy". It was also extremely hilly. It was also extremely beautiful. Holy cow, people who live out there are lucky to live in such a beautiful place. I'm lucky for getting to run this great, well-organized race out there. The race bag was a good one - a LS Technical Tshirt, gel, Endurolytes, and some sort of energy bar. It had milk in it, and since I'm vegan, I usually donate my unused energy bars to the school nurse where I work. You'd be surprised how many kids come in after 3 hours of school, complaining that their stomach is queasy and they have a headache, only to find out they skipped breakfast and lunch that day. I also donate my little shampoos to the nurse. We also have kids that have no shampoo at home. (Consider this when you're trying to figure out what to do with your race and hotel freebies).
But anyway. I digress. We also got a neato running hat at the end of the race for filling out a survey about the race. Both the technical T and the hat had the same log on them, that you see in the upper left of this post.
I started off with a run that felt pretty good. The weather was gorgeous, crisp and WINDLESS. (I was enthusiastic about that) The run left Pinon elementary and wound throught a residential area, looping back to the school. The bike included a lot of hills and curves, as I mentioned, and at one point, a climb that made me want to throw up. I survived, though. Nor did I pull over to rest, as I was tempted to do. At one point, I was ready to go screaming down one of the hills (not really "screaming" but riding fast) and pass another rider, when a car passed me and then filled in the space between me and the next rider. And there I was for the next mile, breaking behind this idiot who didn't want to pass the next cyclist, but was going slower than I was! By the time next hill loomed, the car went on, leaving me with little momentum for getting up the hill. The last run I was pretty whooped, so I did a one-minute run/one-minute walk thing, considerably slower than the first.
The whole things was a blast, though. I would definitely do this one again, and definitely recommend it. I'm not sure how the whole altitude thing works with you folks that train at sea level, but I train about mile above, so it wasn't a problem for me.
  • Results: 1st place, Athena
  • Time: 1:42.
  • Funky smell rating: (nothing but clean mountain air)
  • Coolest siting: a 7-year-old, running the "little boy" course with his mom. He finished!
  • Hotel: the closest one was a Fairfield Inn, pretty decent.
  • Food: Go ahead and skip the Pizza Hut right next to the hotel. They seem to have some personnel/work problems. As in their personnel don't want to work. Our pizza, a veggie-lovers with no cheese, took 45 minutes.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Courage and spunk to spare.

Every once in a while I stumble upon someone's experience as they begin to stumble along the road to improving their health and fitness, trying what seems insurmountable and laughing at themselves along the way. Those are the stores I like to read, and I know you do, too. When I read them, it makes all my whiny complaints seem meaningless.

One that I'd like to share is a blog I've been reading it for about a month now. Jody is on the road to health, and at nearly 300 pounds, is training for her first sprint triathlon.

I find her blog inspiring and encouraging, and I hope you will too.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Amarillo TC Sprint Triathlon (race report)

This was my first "normal order" triathlon. Until now, I've done four reverse sprints and several duathlons and a biathlon. The course required a weigh-in. Apparently, this will be required on most of the west Texas sprint triathlon due to some mistaken beliefs by some of the registrants. One would-be Clydesdale was put on the scale and was found to be well under 200, even fully dressed and fully hydrated. "Well, I was 200 last night," he mumbled, before being bumped into his proper age-group category...he then apparently left, because his name did not appear in the results.

The swim was 400 yards, with people starting every 20 seconds based on their reported estimate. This is where I panicked. Did I put down 100 meters or 100 yards? What if I under reported my time, and get passed by a million people? (See, I told you I worry a lot) When it was my turn, in typical Texas fashion, the timer yelled in a drawl, "All rat, girl - you got 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, now get out there and swim, girl!" I passed one swimmer, and another swimming passed us both, so I was pretty on target with my original estimate. Swim time: 9:01.

To get to T1, I had to run out and through a grassy area, about 40 yards. Since this was my first "normal" tri, I thought the long run to the bikes would dry them, but my socks stuck and rolled up and refused to go on, and my T1 time was 2:14. Finally, I had everything ready and headed out on the 10-mile bike. Here, I learned a valuable lesson: Don't fill your aero bottle full. My ride through a b-u-m-p-y residential area resulted in a Gatorade shower. Stickily, I turned up the service road to I-40, straight into about a steady 15-20-mph wind for a few miles. Then a right turn onto a large boulevard - traffic police holding back traffic the whole way. Along the way, teenage volunteers were screaming at EVERYone at the top of their lungs; I must admit that works for me - when someone yells and claps that loudly at me, I speed up because I feel obligated to make it worth their while. Part of the bike course goes past some stockyards - whew. When I came into T2, three guys were standing around at my bike rack spot chatting, and tried to stop but skated right into them...note to self: new blacktop is surprisingly slick when wearing "clipless" biking shoes. Bike time: 41:02

Here's where it gets interesting. The run was flat, and the wind was refreshing. However, I hadn't done a run at the end of a tri. I was whooped. Pooped. Whatever. I staggered along, occasionally darting off the course to run through someone's sprinklers, and taking a few quick walk breaks when I got a stictch in my side and felt winded, but eventually I remembered my original goal to finish the triathlon in under 1:30 and picked up the pace. I am convinced now that my run is my weakest link, during this split I was dropped by at least a half dozen runners. Run time: 36:37. My total time was 1:30:06. Argh! Okay, I'll make some excuses for the really long transition run and decide that I made my goal...
(above, left, number 2 son Jon rounding to the finish...on the right, me.)
My only complaints about Amarillo: (I love Texas so much - I truly do) It's not terribly veggie friendly. Like most of Texas, everything is celebrated with a meat bbq or steaks. We ordered bean burritos at Toco Villa with no cheese, and they put a meat sauce in them on top of the beans. I know it doesn't sound like much, but I haven't eaten meat since 2000 and so I was a little disappointed. If you're a veggie and looking for a good, cheap, high-glycemic post race meal, I recommend a Taco Villa, but be sure to say, "no meat sauce on the burrito, please."
Race rating: Nice for beginners, like me!
Results: First place, Athena.
Friendliness rating: A+, like nearly all of Texas.
Funky smell rating:
I'll post pictures when I get them back.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I'm trying to figure out what the attraction is between grown men and really loud stuff.

I don't mean to be sexist, or to leave out the women who love loud stuff. It's just that overwhemlingly, it seems to be a guy thing. This past weekend, I heard the roar of motorcycles past my house. Several times. Finally, I went looking for them, and asked them if they could please keep it down. I found them having a party in their driveway (not backyard) and the street in front of their house.
"They're loud. You can't make them quiet," the woman who rented the house said.
"You telling me these motocycles can't be made quiet? Ever?" I countered
"okay, well, you could, but what would be the point? Besides, it's not illegal."
I couldn't help but notice that they left quietly later. So, they can be driven loudly, or quietly.

I saw my sons make the loud engine noise when pushing cars around with their hands, when they were little boys. I clipped playing cards thing on my bicycle spokes when I was younger. WHEN I WAS YOUNGER.
and then I grew up, and realize that this kind of noise could be, well, intrusive.

I shared this experience with my father-in-law later that day. In his mid sixties, he has decided to buy himeself a Harley. "Okay, I give. What is the deal with loud?"
"You have to understand...the nature of the Harley engine..."

"So, you're telling me that it cannot physically be quieter," I said.
"Well, it's just hard to explain," said the man with the Ph.D in psychology., "The way that Harleys are built..."

I'm not just ripping on bikers, or even Harley afficianados either...I don't even mean to rip on my father-in-law, whom I adore. I know men who deliberately make their trucks loud. They love to downshift those mufflerless wonders and gun the engine loudly. I've even seen Honda Civics that have been modified so that traveling with your windows down is somewhat reminiscient of a stock car race. People - usually guys - have mega bass in their car that you can hear - feel, actually - in your house, a block away. And, in New Mexico, there is no noise ordinance, either. It's among one of its many charms, along with cock fighting and drunk driving.

So maybe some of the guys - or women - out there can answer this: what's the deal with loud stuff?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Best. Husband. EVER.

I worry a lot.

Lately, I've been worrying about an upcoming couple of triathlons, the Ransom Canyon, and the Buffman and Squeaky (aka, the "squeaky buttman") . Both start with a lake swim, and then you hop on your bike and pretty much come out of transition going straight up to climb up out of the canyon. Then you go out over rolling hills, descend into Yellow Horse Canyon and out again, and then come back.

Anyway, I kept Husband awake all night worrying out loud about whether I could do this. Should I do this? Am I ready for this. What about those hills? I might have an asthma attack. What if my heart explodes or something? What if I throw up or something? I might not be able to make it up out of the canyon. Could I have a heart attack trying to do this? What about those hills? I might get my first DNF; that would be so humiliating. Would he still love me if I DNF'd? I'd practice on some of the hills around where we live but the drives are so INSANE! What if one of them hit me! What about those hills? And so on.

I came home today and husband had our bikes racked on the car and his GPS and said, "C'mon, let's try some hills". I was even too tired from the 8th-graders to muster up a good excuse, so I mumbled and fumbled around for sunglasses and biking clothes, and we were off.
First, he took me up a hill near our house that's about a 7.7% grade. "How was that?" he asked.
"Sucked, but doable," I gasped at the top.
"That was the hill out of Buffalo Springs," he said.

Really? I mean, it was tough, but it was doable. Really? Why, that wasn't so bad. After all, I did it. With some practice, I might not even feel like throwing up at the top.

It turns out Husband spent his day off mapping out some grades and hills near our house, looking for ones with nice, wide shoulders and/or no traffic, so that I can practice, particularly to and from work. He has a history of doing stuff like this, setting things up for me so that my life is easier and/or I have no more excuses for backing away from a challenge. The slothful Athena hates it because she gets very little chance to say, oh, well, too hard - not gonna do it. The rest of me is amazed and gratified that I married someone who knows me well enough to push me just hard enough - not too hard - so that I get to be all I can be.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy Easter.

As I was running my Sunday 10K this morning, I was mulling over the fact that it was Easter morning.
Resurrection is the symbol of the day, so I starting thinking about that, particularly the resurrection of the human spirit.

I've often said that I was never athletic before last year, because as an adult, I eschewed every bit of physical activity out there until last year. But did you know that at age eight I could do cartwheels on the balance beam? I competed in state events, including floor gymnastics and the vault, and was one of the fasted sprinters at my school. I played outside everyday: kickball, softball - any kind of sport, until it was too dark to play, and then sometimes, after that. With this came good grades and two proud parents, who believed I would, could, should be anything I wanted to be, and told me that, often. An ideal childhood, with virtually none of the risk-factors that are associated with problems later in life.

Then, as I entered junior high, something mysterious happened. Nobody knows what. It's the same thing that happens to a lot of smart, confident girls who enter junior high.

That belief in myself - that I could do anything
that I deserved only the best intentions, behaviors, and decisions,

My parents were baffled, as are many of the parents that I see every year a teacher - anxious, sad faces sitting across the table from me, heartbroken. Asking me, why, why? Why would a smart young person suddenly become an F student? Stop loving the things they used to love? Become surley and inactive? I sit across from them, year after year, I am frustrated both as a teacher and a parent, as my parents must have been, because I just don't know. Motivation is the golden fleece of all educators - of anyone who works with youth. If I had the answer, I'd be rich, and teacher of the year. What causes a strong, assertive, talented little girl to lose her belief in herself? Some blame peer pressure, rock music, negative messages from society.

By the time I was in my twenties, having barely graduated from high school on time, I had the lowest of expectations, both of myself, and others. An early marriage and baby at nineteen to a man who beat me, tried to kill me, then eventually killed himself; then a second marriage to a man with whom I had nothing in common, and two more children. Eventually, I found myself in rural South Dakota, divorced, with three young children, on public assistance.

Then one day, hope. A true miracle is the indominable human spirit. A twenty-five mile trip in a beat-up pickup truck to fill out college and financial aid applications and a voice that whispered, "Maybe." Changing a infant's diapers on the desk of a faculty advisor while signing up for first semester classes. Friends and neighbors who brought information of every available assistance to make it easier - I didn't do it alone. But I was the one who made the decision to do it.

Still, the transformation was slow, and more bad choices were made, based on a belief that I deserved and was capable of, nothing good. The beginnings of asking, "why does my life suck so much?!?" and this much louder and angrier, meaning that I was starting to whether I could, or would, expect more from myself and for myself. Anguish over a six-year relationship that, in itself, had been based on lies and deceit and had ended abruptly and unexpectedly. At that time, anger and grief would overcome me and I would run out the door and then up a large hill - the beginnings of a future love of running and the cleansing release that it provides were there - but then the anger, eventually, faded, when it fdid, the running stopped.

It took a counseling intern named Kim at the college to finally get me to say it: "I make the choices that I make, because I don't believe that I deserve better". Once spoken, I realized what bullshit it was consciously, but unconsciously the struggle had just begun. Mentors and advisors began to urged me to expect and reach for more. Go to grad school. Become the person I admired in others.

It was my mother's death in 1998 that turned the tide. I realized then how short life was. How could I NOT expect the best that life had to give, when the possibility of heartbreak meant also the possibility of joy? After getting an offer, I packed everything that would fit, including three children then 8, 11, and 14 - into the back of a fifteen-foot U-Haul, and for an assistantship at U. Alabama.

Except, well, except that before I left I had, with chattering teeth and nerves on edge, agreed to go out on a date with a doctoral student I'd met at USD. And then another date, and another. At first, thinking, why would he want to go out with me; I have nothing to offer him? He wanted to pack the truck and drive it to Alabama for me. He had never planned to raise any children, but he couldn't let me go.

Tuscaloosa didn't work out, but I was happy to have had the opportunity. I married the doctoral student (aka Husband), and we moved together to New Mexico. The two older children are now grown. Poverty, violence, uncertainty, insecurity - all a dim memory.

So, as I said, I was running this Easter morning, and I was reflecting about resurrection--the resurrection of a little girls' spirit, who believes she can do anything. Sometimes that spirit's voice is still for a lifetime, but sometimes, just sometimes, a voice whispers, quietly, "maybe".

Maybe I can leave a man who beats me.

Maybe I can go to college, and be a teacher.

Maybe I can go to graduate school.

Maybe I can run.

Maybe I swim, bike, and run - one right after the other.

Maybe I can be an ironman.


Happy Easter, y'all.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Wind Sprint Tri--er, I mean--DU-athlon (Race report)

What a strange day.

Our friend Leonard let us stay at his house outside of Las Cruces, and then we followed him to the base where the race was to be. Len usually finishes at or near the top of his age group. We took off at 5:30 am, and Len was just ahead of us in his car going through the checkpoint at the base at White Sands Missle Range when it was discovered that he did not have his car registration with him. No registration, no admittance to a military base!. So, he turned around to leave his car the required one mile out from the base. We followed him, and he put his bike onto our back rack and climbed into the back seat.
Problem is, he didn't think that he needed to lash the bike down, being as it was only one mile back to base, and we weren't aware that he hadn't lashed his super lightweight Lightspeed Blade down.

"Oh, NO..." you're thinking to yourself, "wait...don't tell me..."

Yes, friends, his beautiful ride blew right off the back of the car as soon as we were up to speed, hitting the pavement and cracking the carbon fork clean in two. At that point, he decided to call it a day and go home.

What happened next, then, was cruelly ironic.

The wind was gusting over 40 mph. First, the bike racks in part of the transition area blew over, bikes included, and not long after that, the race officials got together and decided to make this a duathlon. They canceled the bike portion. (Many of us were relieved, although THAT was spoken afterwards in the locker room, in hushed voices, nervously looking about, lest anything think us anything less than stalwart athletes) They extended the 5K run to 8K, and we took off at about 8:05. There was not enough time for us to call Len back.

The wind was so strong when we turned into it that my heartrate spiked immediately. I decided it was easier, faster, and more efficient, to scurry along on the ground, bent low, a lot like my cat when she's nervous - instead of running upright. Of course, when the wind was at my back, I raced along like a champ, but since the wind effected everyone exactly the same way, so I came in at my usual place of back of the pack, a few minutes behind everyone else. Even so, it was my best run split ever - about an 11 minute mile, so I think the hill running is beginning to pay off.

Once in the pool I, the slothful Athena, somehow managed to nearly close the gap between me and some of the people in front of me, but not fast enough, finishing 20 seconds behind the person in front of me. The 400 meter swim felt good, so the long swims are beginning to pay off as well. I finished 30 seconds behind my fifteen-year-old son, who refuses to train or work out. I told him that I was proud of him for being out there, but if he didn't want to be beaten by his 41-year-old mother, he better get off his butt and train!
  • Results: 2nd place, Athenas (I will never beat Helen C., she's just too fast a runner for me.)
  • Husband: 1st place, Clydesdales
  • Son: 1st place, under 20.
  • Next race: Amarillo Sprint Triathlon

Friday, April 14, 2006

Self-indulgently thinking out loud.

I mentioned yesterday that I passed the comps for my second master's degree. The test was the Counselor Preparation Comprehensive Examination, and I didn't study (more on that later). Aside from teaching science to 8th-graders, I'm a clinical intern at a community mental health agency. I don't talk about it very much because of the whole ethics thing. This summer will be devoted to the final requirement: a 30+ page paper on applied theory. Linae's work is more labor intensive than mine (hence, her Ph.D). My thesis will is a theoretical paper on how a combination of existential and behavioral interventions, primarily exercise, to address learned helplessness and change external and uncontrollable attributions. That's a nerdly way of saying that I believe being active can give a depressed person meaning in their life and a feeling of accomplishment. There is a lot of research that suggests that regular exercise is more effective than drugs in treating depression.

I like school and classes. They're easy for me. There, I said it. I don't get much sense of accomplishment from all of it because it is easy. The reason triathlon has been so rewarding is that all of it, particularly running, has been really, really hard. It doesn't really matter how smart I am, or how well I shmooze, know the jargon, or who I know. There are no short cuts. Every success or failure is purely mine, and I know that if I do well it's because I worked my butt off. Thus, I find it all very satisfying, even if I am ssllloooowwwww.

Once I thought I'd really, really like to get a Ph.D, and I started it in 2002 but then stopped it and went for a second MA instead, at a closer school. I just couldn't think of logical reason to get my doctorate. I don't want to be a researcher, or professor, or work anywhere other than in schools where I'll always be a teacher or a guidance counselor, because I love working with teenagers. As such, a Ph.D. will give no extra pay or special priveledges in that sense, making it a very expensive and time-intensive embellishment on a desk sign in my classroom or office, and perhaps the warm and fuzzy feeling of being called "Dr.". Rationally speaking, there is no reason for me to get one. But lately I've been rethinking this.

What if getting a Ph.D. is like running in an Ironman event? Would it be so bad if I did it without any logical reason for doing it? After all, what would an IM do to improve my life? Other than the immense sense of accomplishment and possible tattoo, there's nothing that finishing an IM will add to my life. It's an expensive endevor that may hurt me. Yet I want to do it. I want to know that I can go the distance.

So, I think I want to devote the next 18 months or so to training for IM Florida (2007). After that, I'll see how I feel about a future Ph.D.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

A new favorite.

Copied from, "Slow Brave Athena" "Do you need a searchable Calvin and Hobbes database? Of course you do!"
(This one kind of reminds me of the cycling accident I had back in March.)

I got a surprise today from my advisor - I don't mention this often, but I'm just about finished with my 2nd master's degree. I took my comps last month, and walked out thinking, oh, well, at least I learned a lot. I really didn't feel like I'd done well at all. I received an Email today informing me that I'd done very well - an 89. It's a good feeling, and almost overcomes the generally slothful feeling I have from blowing my training for today. But I'll make it up tomorrow, when I'm off all day. Not a long run in the morning, more of a longish run - maybe 5 or 6 miles, and then a swim.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Web Site Review: Your Fitness Music

I found this really cool website called Your Fitness Music.

First, you can click on your current running speed (or target speed) and then get lists of music that matches your cadence. This is dependent on your stride length, so I looked for a song that I already knew matched my target cadence, and then made a list of others with the same timing. I'm in the process of getting hold of these in MP3 format to load into my player. I have one list for the beginning of my run, at a cadence of about 160 bpm (beats per minute), and then my target cadence, at 170 bmp. I'm trying to work my way up to 180 eventually. Sunday when I did the duathlon, I was sort of humming some of the songs to myself to help pace even and steady.

Second, Repacer, a program you can purchase here, will not only read your existing CD and MP3 tracks and tell you their bpm (beats per minute) but can alter them up or down depending on your need. It also creates mixes. It does it digitally. I'd explain how all that works, but then I'd have to quiz you.

Anyway, I'm finally over my exhaustion from the Rio Rancho duathlon, so I'm planning to go out early tomorrow for a four-mile run and test my new mix. Don't worry, I only wear one headphone.
In other news, I swam 2500 m tonight, and had the best speed I've ever had. My training swim time has dropped from 3 minutes per 100 meters to 2:38 per hundre meters. I may make my goals of a sub-10-minute 400 meter swim this year!

The results of the Rio Rancho Duathlon are posted here, but mine are about 10 minutes off. That makes me worry that others were not timed correctly. I even have a photograph of myself passing the clock and it reads 2:30. I've emailed the race director.

Monday, April 10, 2006

RR Du: Pictures

Here's some new pics, taken at the RR Duathlon.

Here's Husband in T1.

Look, here I am after the first run. See? I'm smiling. It's early, it's cool, and I still feel good. I have no idea what's in store for me.

Brian on the bike. His shots are always blurry, because he's very fast.
(Mine, of course, are always crystal clear)

Me, finishing.

Below, Karen Williams and I get our medals and congratulate each other.

Husband and I, wearing the medal. My rule is: I take it off when everything stops hurting.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Rio Rancho Duathlon (race report)

Nearly twenty-two years ago, I gave birth to my first child. I presented to the emergency room in labor around 2 am, labored for fifteen hours until I was told that I was going to have to have my first child by natural childbirth. I was told that this was because of some anomoly in my spine that prevented and epidural (this was later found out to be utter bullshit). I was nineteen years old, 5'5", and a size eight. Sometime after 10:20 that night, my son, eight pounds and fourteen ounces, was born.
I'm telling you this now because that was easier than what I did this morning. This was by and large the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. It was harder than the two half marathons I've done. I'd spent Friday night and all day Saturday escorting junior high kids to the state science fair in Socorro, and got back home last night at 9:30 pm. I was in bed at 10:30. At eight o'clock in the morning I took off on the first 5K run, which went straight up the hill, up another hill, and the last mile through soft sand. I kept a good pace, about 11:40 mile (the best I've ever done, I think) but I did say the F word when I got to the sand. I hate sand. I said the F word a lot during that mile, both the first 5K and on the second.
Then it was off on the bike - it was a 25K ride, but went up and down rolling hills while gradually gaining altitude out on Unser road. The bike back was against a slight wind - about 6mph - and not that much easier for the rolling hills going back. By the time I got to the last hill I was saying, "I can't do this. I'm done. I'll never be able to do the second 5K. I don't have anything left". Somehow or other, though, I managed to drop three people on the bike and head into T2 and go out on the 2nd run.

...which, and I imagine is no big surprise, was considerably slower than the first one. It is lonely being nearly last. I suppose being first is lonely too, but somehow more satisfying. Half the volunteers had left already. By the time I got to the last four hundred meters, which was around a track and through the finish line, I was alternating walking twenty steps, running twenty steps. I was whooped. Holy cow.
but what a race! The course was well-marked. It was well-organized. All the people present were enthusiastic and encouraging. I yelled "GO RAMS" a lot. (The Rio Rancho track team were volunteers, and I teach in Rio Rancho). The bike course was on a smooth paved road. My only complaint was the usual borish behavior of Rio Rancho drivers on the road - they rarely gave a full lane when passing, blocked cyclists and blew their horns at them, unless prompted by the Police not to do those things. Apparently, not being 30 seconds late to church, fishing, or whatever was more important than the safety of cyclists on the road. But I digress.
My friend Karen Williams took first Athena. I took second. I don't know if I'll do it again. If I do, it will be as a personal measure to see what kind of progress I've made. but one interesting thing: Rio Rancho is getting an aquatic center, and the race director, Mark Miko, said he plans to turn this into a triathlon! that I would definitely do, because the one thought that kept running around in my mind was, "boy, I'd sure like a swim right about now!"
First run split, I think about 11:40 per mile.
Bike split, average speed about 13 mph.
Second run split, average 14 minute per mile.
Results, 2nd place, Athena division.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Morning run

I really, really want to get in the habit of running in the mornings.
First, it frees up the rest of my day; second, it makes me feel strong and capable and oh, so efficacious. Lastly, the mornings are so GORGEOUS in New Mexico (dry, crisp, cool, beautiful sunrise).
BUTTTT, those flannel sheets are hard to pull myself out of, along with the warm and snuggly Clydesdale I married...
So, I took a tip from this month's Runner's World and told myself that I would only going out for a mile or two. The trick is, by the time you're a couple miles into the run, you're enjoying yourself and keep going. And it WORKED! I wound up going for 5K, I wished I could have gone longer but I was running out of time, but tomorrow, oh yes! tomorrow will be different.
The glucosamine seems to be working. No foot pain, and starting the long stretching sessions, no more knee problems either. In either case, the run felt great.
This is going to be a run-focused year for me. I'm tired of straggling in nearly last, although I admit it is much easier to find my bike when it's one of the last ones left...
Since I'm less than a year into all this, I'm still working on my base/endurance, so any improvement in my running will probably help me in other areasl. My goals is a 10-minute mile; right now I'm around 12 or so.
But here's the most amazing part of all - I'm still astounded by this - I love running! Who'd have ever expected that? The queen of going slowly, the Princess of Mosy, loves to run! I love strapping on my MP3 player and heading out. I feel powerful and strong, especially with the music. I love the solitude of it. I don't like running with others. I don't want to talk. I love smootin' along, lost in my own thoughts, the musci playing in the background.
It's gonna be a great year!!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Erasing the past.

This month there is a guest column in Runner's World by John "the Penguin" Bingham. He writes about runners who continue to run even through they're slow.

"The miracle isn't that I finish. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."

I wonder how much credit we really give ourselves for having started the insanity of triathlon. Sometimes, as I watch the pack move further and further aheard of me, leaving me alone, or perhaps with one or two (or no) stragglers running behind me, I feel much less like a winner...much less, oh I don't know, athletic. I feel like, as my eighth-graders put it, a wanna-be, or "poser".

What really ressonated, though, was how he wrote about running shoes as "erasers":

"Our running shoes are really erasers. Every step erases a memory of a past failure. Every mile brings us closer to a clean clate. Each footstrike rubs away a word, a look, an event, which led us to believe that success was beyond our grasp."

I started running at the age of 40. I was not an athlete in high school. I wasted a lot of my young life. I try not to perseverate on it. Now I have this wonderful mental image: when I run, every footstep that hits the ground erases years wasted--wasted in bad relationships, on welfare, laying on the couch, years spent smoking and eating badly.

I figure that the fact that I run as slowly as I do gives me more time to erase the past a little more slowly and carefully.

MVTC Sprint Triathlon (Race report)

Yes, I did it! As of last night, I had none of the symptoms that indicated that I should NOT do it, so I got up at 5 am and mosied through this reverse sprint.
We stayed at the home of our friends the Piazzos, who live between El Paso and Las Cruces. They have a great southwestern home high up on the mesa overlooking the river valley, with green fields and pecan groves.

The race was on a fantastic day - beautiful weather in Las Cruces, with no wind. I don't know any of my splits, because I have fallen into a habit of not pushing the lap buttons on my watch or reset button on my cyclometer until several minutes into the event; I didn't push the stop button until I was in the shower afterward. I've been told I can expect a hard copy of my results in, oh, about 3 months.

I did the run nice and easy, coming in my usual nearly-last. The run felt great, and I couldn't stop smiling. Best of all, the folks in my tri team club (The Outlaws) were yelling, "Go, Misty!" and slapping hands with me as they passed me on the way back. I love being part of a team!
The bike was 25K down a bbuummpppyyy road and back. I relaxed and concentrated on not letting my aero bottle bounce out from between the bars. I had a nice ride down and back, stopping for a bit to give a guy my spare tube (hey, it's not like that's going to keep me out of Kona) and then get on my bike for more mosying.
I was surprised at how well the swim went! Those 2000+ meters in the pool have really paid off. I actually dropped a couple people in the swim! Can you believe that?
  • Results: great race, can't wait to do it next year. Athena, 2nd place. ;-) (There were two of us)
  • Husband beat out several other Clydesdales for another 1st place win.
  • Next up: the Rio Rancho Duathlon, practically in my back yard.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Current goal: Finish, and be last.

Well, Thursday kinda sucked. I went in, was preppped, very friendly staff at this place. Then the next thing I know I was waking up in recovery. I spent most of the day whimpering and feeling sorry for myself. I was really tired from all the pain killers. I was also cranky because the sugery center said no greasy foods today, which I figured would be my reward. We went home and I curled up with a heating pad, and watched Oprah. (According to Oprah, there's a problem with this stuff called meth. Did you know that? Apparently, causing all kinds of trouble. Duh). Ate lots of soy yogurt, larabars, and cytomax. Doc called to see how I was feeling. Husband took the day off in case I needed nursing. :-)

Friday was much better. I was up and around and walking up and down the stairs, and I transitioned over to Motrin. By the end of the day, I felt almost normal. Spent a lot of time on Ebay, and got some Brooks' running tights and some gear for the belly-dancing class I'm taking this summer. Decided I should pay my speeding ticket from last month. Nurses called from the surgery center to see how I was feeling. I had problems asking them about, um, going to the bathroom. When will that start up again? Son, who was home with me, decided not to bother me, bless his heart, about his sore throat. He decided to self-medicate instead...
"I drank some herbal tea," he told me proudly
"Go get me the box," I said.
He brought in the box, Celestial Seasonings Night-time Cleanse, with Senna. It's a mild laxative.
"Oh, boy. How much of this did you drink?" I started laughing.
"Three cups," he said, his voice faltering.
"You better stick around here today. You don't want to be outside too far from the bathroom," I warned him.

So, today is Saturday. We leave for Las Cruces, for the MVTC (I think) sprint triathlon tomorrow. I can do this, but only if I don't race it. I've decided that I'm going to mosy, and my goal is to be dead last. This is different from my usual goal of being anything other than dead last.

My training goals for today are to walk down to the coffee shop and back (3 mile walk) and see how that feels.


 I'm no longer involved in multisport or endurance sports. I've started my own business, a psychotherapist specializing in anxiety d...