Thursday, December 28, 2006

Birmingham, Alabama

I went for a run Wednesday morning in Arkansas; it was nice with lots of hills. Not a long run, but I would go charging up those hills until I couldn't breathe. I just picked a couple at random and usually ran until I saw a "no trespassing" sign. I felt heavy and slow. Heavy is a lot of what I've felt the last few days. The countryside was beautiful. I didn't really think about anything, and I wasn't going particularly fast. I just went. I'd run until my lungs started burning.

After I was done, I was tired, but the muscle spasm in my back, which I suspect was pent-up emotion, is gone. As I was coming back to the hotel I met up with Sweet Babo, coming in from his long ride. He was glowing. He absorbs some of my emotions sometimes, too, and he'd been a little down. The run made a huge difference in how I feel. I felt really heavy before, but I feel much lighter now.

I went for a run this morning in Birmingham. It was short, only about 40 minutes, because by the time the sixth dog started chasing me I remembered why I'd left Alabama. Don't get me wrong; Alabama is a lovely place, beautiful scenery and warm, friendly people. But they don't support an active outdoor multisport lifestyle. You may waterski and you may hunt and you may fish. You may not run outside and cycling is difficult. There are no shoulders on most roads, and the roads drop off or rise so steeply on either side that, as Sweet Baboo says, "even the white line is nervous." They love to drive here. All roads go straight up or down the large hills, no switchbacks. And I'm assuming leash laws are non-existant where I'm at.

For myself, the queen of why-I-can't-exercise-today, its just too many potential excuses. I could never live here again.

I have to believe that Bama'ns love their cars. At the funeral home we went over to a section about 20 yards away. It was beautiful day, about sixty degrees. I walked. The people I was with drove. Did you read that? They DROVE. TWO PEOPLE. DROVE TWO CARS TWENTY YARDS ON A BEAUTIFUL DAY.

When we got back to my sister's, there were counters full of food from my sister's church. You can argue, but I will insist to you that you will never be better fed in your life than during a mourning period in the south.

My sister found some really cool pictures of our dad. They were taken in the early 1950's, of him on a bike. They are, like, my favorite pictures of him in the whole world now. I'm going to scan them and I'll show you what I mean. I read his DD-214 and found out that he won a couple of medals in Korea. I never knew that. I also read lots of clippings about his younger years as a champion bowler. I never knew that, either. I just thought he liked to bowl. I also foundout that my grandfather was a decorated WWII veteran. I never knew that, either.

BariLynn found a place that cleans up crime scenes and suicides. We got that information from several sources. They are going to take care of everything. Thanks so much!

We had the services tonight, and I was so pleased to see again old friends of my parents that I had known when I was a child, but I was dismayed to find out that all the "old guys" my dad had known for decades met regularly for lunch and golf--weekly, in fact. My father knew, but didn't join them. He must have been depressed for some time, but we didn't realize.

How sad, to lose your wife of 43 years and then to spend your retirement alone, shut up on your apartment watching cable. I would hope that would never happen to me, or to Sweet Baboo. It shouldn't happen to anyone. Nobody should be alone. I guess 8 years of it was enough for Dad.

Tomorrow after my run, Sweet Baboo and I are going to check out a local bike shop as a nice diversion and have lunch somewhere,. The services will be in the afternoon.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ft. Smith, Arkansas

We arrived here after nearly ten hours of driving yesterday. Sweet Baboo is so funny; I'd downloaded and burned a 12-CD audio book, a mystery/thriller from to give him/us something to listen to during the fifteen hours of driving, but he also downed something like six energy drinks to stay awake (I-40 between Albuquerque and Arkansas is ANYTHING but stimulating). Then he was buzzing around our hotel room until after midnight saying, with wonder, "I'm just so wide awake!"

A quick phone call to my sister, to let her know that I was okay and more than halfway to Alabama. During the phone call she asked me, haltingly, if I would help her. Clean up. The scene. Haltingly, because part of the legacy of our father is our paralyzing inability to ask for help.

She's asked me yesterday morning, "Who takes care of things after they take the body away?"
"What do you mean," I said, puzzled.
"Who cleans up afterward?"
Ah, I see. My sister, nine years older than I, doesn't read mystery or true crime, and doesn't watch CSI.
"The survivors. Us. Or we hire someone."
She sighed, weary. "I haven't been back in that room."

She's been busy with all the arrangements, signing forms and papers, waiting for me to arrive because my signature is required for final arrangements. I remind her that she has power of attorney, and she asks, "does that matter?" I think so, I told her. I don't know Alabama law but I think it simplifies things a little. Once again I'm angry at my Dad for burdening her with all this.

I volunteered for clean up duty because don't get queasy at stuff like that. I shut the emotion and the associaton with someone's life off and get busy. When our mother was dying eight years ago, I slept on the floor next to her bed. My Dad slept on the other side, because as her heart was failing my mother, confused, would try to get up in the middle of the night to wonder, and her heart was so weak that if she stood up, the blood would drain from her head too fast and she would pass out. We didn't have the heart to put restraints on her, so as gently as we could, we'd put our arms around her to keep her from from standing. I slept on the floor so that if she tried to get out of bed, her feet would land on my back and I'd know that she was up.

So, I would sit on the floor next to her bed, alternatively sleeping and tapping away on a laptop, sending sending assignments back home to my professors at night through a 14.4 baud modem, dealing with three kids ages 7, 10, and 12; working alongside my father, who was nearly incapacitated with grief, and daily visits from the hospice volunteer. At the end of the week, she died, and I helped with final arrangements. The grief was overwhelming. It was like doing 20 mile long runs every single day for a week. I was exhausted and headachey. I didn't have an outlet then, but I do now. I also didn't have Sweet Baboo then, either, but I do now.

I told BariLynn that I would take care of cleaning up "the scene." I won't be revisited by having seen my father's body in it, like she would. I can shut off the emotional junk temporarily to get the job done, but I pay a price. Headaches, loss of appetite, and sudden, unexplained muscle spasms.

While I was in college, I had battery of psychological tests, mainly because they were free and I wanted to understand myself better. I was told at that time, that if I don't find an outlet for my stress I'll tend to 'somatosize,' meaning that the emotion will express itself through physical symptoms. This is good information for anyone to have.

In the past I would have picked up some pre-mixed margaritas to deal with all this, but I know that's not healthy. I've also had visitors for the holidays, so I haven't gotten any of the emotional junk out yet since Bari called me Saturday morning. I haven't run yet, either. Now all that emotion is locked up inside me. It's like I'm emotionally constipated.

The muscle spasm in my back started Monday evening. Later this morning I'll go for a run. I'll do some strides and get some of this emotional junk out.

Sweet Baboo wants to do a quick ride. He is doing his first brevet on Sunday in Dallas. He asked the hotel clerk if there were good places to ride, and the clerk warned him, sweetly. "Are you from Arkansas?"
"No," he replied.
"Arkansas drivers are really bad. Be careful"

We've never been warned overtly like that, by a stranger. Does 'bad' mean overtly aggressive, or just careless? He will be careful, He's worked out a riding route for Ft. Smith.

I'll just run for about a half hour then turn around. I'll have to guess about a half hour, (since I left my watch at home) and hum to myself along the way (since I left my player at home). I'll change my plans to running after sunrise.

Then we'll shower, hit the road, and head for Birmingham, where I'll run some more. I've never been so ready for a run in my life.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Thank you.

I do appreciate all your sentiments; I truly do.

I am on my way to Alabama. I'll write more soon.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Holiday Uncheer.

I wasn't sure whether to write about this or not. I thought about when to post it.

I will tell you that if you don't want anything to be a bummer for your holiday, you should probably skip it until after Christmas. I warn you. It's heavy, and it's sad.


Alright, you choose to read.

Be ready.

I got home after my 20-mile run on Saturday (I did it 15-minutes faster this time, and I felt way better) and my sister called. "Did you get my message?"

"No, I just got home. I haven't checked my messages yet."

Long silence.

"Bari, what was the message?"

Long silence, and then a deep breath. I kind of knew what was coming.

"Daddy's gone. I found him this morning."

It's may seem somewhat strange for me to divulge this on line, to people who may or may not know me well. But here goes.

My father chose the exactly time and manner of his death. At the age of 74, he decided that he did not want to face any health or mental declines, and he chose instead to leave the world to join my mother, who passed away in 1998.

The grief, and anger, the sadness, weigh heavy on me. I'm angry at him for doing this to my sister. This is my sister's holiday memory now, finding her father dead at Christmas. She spend the last month taking time off work to take care of him after his car accident, making sure that he was geting the care that he needed, paying his bills while he recovered. They lived in the same town together in Alabama near where my mother is buried. I would call and check up on him, and talk to her, to see how things were going. On Thursday, she took him home to his apartment, and got him set up with a home health care worker. He was doing well.

The last night he was alive, he had her copy all his addresses and phone numbers into her address book, make sure his apartment was clean, and shave him. He laughed and joked. There was no sign. No clue. She kissed him goodbye, and left.

Then the next day she called him. The phone rang, and rang, and rang. And rang...

I expected that at some time in the future I would lose my father. Nobody lives forever. I'd even started preparing myself emotionally fot it. But not for this. My sister is left with this holiday memory, as am I. I am also left with a host of "what if's" and "if only's". No note, other than "I love you all" scribbled on a folder. No explanation. No email. I'm angry that I didn't get to say goodbye. I'm angry that he planned this and couldn't have planned it in a way in which someone would find him who wouldn't be haunted by the memory of December 22nd.

My aunt called me to talk to me about it. "There's a lot of depression in our family, you know"

no kidding.

There's a lot of substance abuse and suicide. in my family. I run. I run, and run and mull things over in my mind. As far as I know, I'm the only one in my family that does. I think about how my decline and/or absence would affect those that love me, and I work things out. I try to stay healthy. I spread myself thin, but it's so that the loss of one part of my life would not make me think my life was over.

I'm still pissed. And grieving. I can't write any more right now.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Sweet Baboo is the coolest!

So, yesterday, I'm having a fit because I misplaced my music player. It's hard for me to keep track of most things, much less something that size of a bic lighter. Absolutely no way I'm running 20 miles today without it. That's several boring hours. Just how many I won't tell you. We'll just stick with several for now.

You know, the funny thing about Sweet Baboo is that he likes to go on about how he dislikes the commercialism of the holidays and how they make us feel obligated to give presents, but then he gets all excited and shops and can't WAIT for it to get here. Sweet Baboo buys me presents all year long, so Christmas presents at our house are an extra bonus.

So he got all antsy and said he wanted to give me an early present. I said wait. Then I asked if I could borrow his player. Then he said he was going to give me my early present:

This is the Sansa e250 2GB MP3 Player. It has a radio, plays mp3's and a tiny picture viewer, plus, you can use it as a portable memory stick. They're starting to make accessories for it, too. It's the second SanDisk I've owned, and I believe it will be just as great as the first one. Like a lot of people, Sweet Baboo heard the interview on NPR about the planned obsolecense that plagues some gadgets, including iPods, so he sought an alternative.

I'll have a full report/review up later. Gotta run! Literally!


Friday, December 22, 2006

Stir Crazy.

You know how whenever you get on the phone your little kids start trying to get your attention?

"Mom. mom. mom. Hey, MOM. MOM? MOM!! Hey, MOM?!? MOM!!! Hey, MOM!!!!"

Guess what? It doesn't go away. Big kids do it too, and you can't threaten them like you can little kids. While on the phone to BestBuy to find out if, indeed, I had purchased the proper copy of Dance Dance Revolution, my fifteen-year-old son plopped down across from me. Stared at me.

"Jon, this is a private phone call. Do you mind not sitting in?"
"I want to tell you something. It's really important."
"NO way. I'm not playing that game. Go upstairs."
"But it's really important!
"No, it's not. You always do this."
"Seriously! I need to tell you NOW!"
"Is it an emergency?"
"FINE! What is it?"
"Oh, well, fine, now you made me forget."

I did make it to the treadmill yesterday, although it wasn't for as many miles as I'd originally planned. Still, I ran a couple miles and felt pretty good about that.

I also wrapped presents, found more resources for my procrastination paper, read some blogs, did a couple sudoku puzzles, wrote a few authors for electronic copies of their published papers and cleaned up the downstairs, since my 19-year-old daughter is due to come for the weekend.

My daughter is bringing her fiance, whom I haven't met yet. She's also decided to become a Jehovahs's Witness, which means she doesn't acknowlege most religious holidays, or birthdays, both of which occur next week, so I'm confused as to whether I should get her, them, a present or not. This should be an interesting test of her new faith. After all, you don't get to say, "I'm a Jehovah's Witness. Where's my birthday present?"

This morning, I did the 9:30 spin class at my gym. I had such a good workout that I made a mental note to start going to Friday night spin class starting in January. I could call it my "Mom's night out" or something. I was drenched in sweat when I was done, and my legs were all trembly. good job! I apparently burned something like 700 calories, and I'm still trying to decide how to spend them. I'm thinking something in a nice tater tots from Sonic would do.

Tomorrow, the insanity of the holiday dinner begins. You know the one. It's the one where you use every single pot and pan in the house and no matter how much you planned, there's something missing. Something you have to go to the store for. For me, it's usually Durkee fried onions. My strategy is to prepare everything ahead of time except the roast, and then refrigerate everything and threaten to cut off the fingers of anyone who leaves marks in the pies.

Oh, and that thought you had, the one where you wondered if an "eggnog" flavored protein shake would be yummy? That it would taste just like an extra thick eggnog?

Let me save you the trouble. It isn't, and it doesn't, so put the blender away.

Happy Holiday, y'all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Weather Drama.

This is the one day of the year (sometimes, there are two) that people in Albuquerque get worked up about the weather.

By worked up, I mean they FREAK OUT. They drive far too slowly, then they SLAM. ON. THE. BRAKES.

Today I went over to where Sweet Baboo works and hung out there. He drove in, and I got to stare out the window, free to enjoy the scenery since I didn't have to navigate my way past the people who can't drive unless it's completely clear and dry.

I hung out in his office and worked on the 30-page paper that I've been putting off since, um, about 15 months ago.

Hah! You may have thought you were the biggest procrastinator.
Please; a little respect, for I am GEEKGirl, Queen of Procrastination

I know, I know. How can I lecture my students on procrastination when I'm so bad at it?

My secret is that I don't. Lecture them, that is. I usually just shake my head. "Sucks to be you, dood," I'll say, "good luck."

I have to finish this paper during my vacation. It's the last requirement of my MA (my second) in Professional Counseling. I've already taken the test, finished all the classes, ect.

My paper is on the therapeutic use of exercise for people with depression and/or anxiety. I'm still working on it. No working title yet. Today, I finished a whole page and a half.

But that's not all! I've been procrastinating on training all week. No more excuses. Tomorrow am, I hit the treadmill. Really. I mean it.


I'm not kidding.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A wee bit of a cranky.

Whenever I spend a day out in public doing errands, I'm reminded of the delusions that people subscribe to. They fascinate me. I spend most of my time around teachers and triathletes, so I sometimes forget how people in the rest of the world think.

Delusions are different from plain old "overvalued ideas". Overvalued ideas can hold some doubt by those who hold them, but delusional people, on the other hand, will continue to believe regardless of evidence to the contrary, and be absolutely convinced that it is real.

Here's some of my favorites:
  • If I take a really firm hand with the person who is taking care of my (drycleaning, food, paperwork, child) and intimidate them, then they will take better care of my (drycleaning, food, paperwork, child)
  • Nobody will mind if I park my car in the bicycle lane, just this once.
  • It's just one more child. How much more work can one more child be?
  • If I drive this vehicle, women will want me, and other people will be impressed.
  • Really tight clothes make me look thinner.
  • Really baggy clothes make me look thinner.
  • If I wear my daughter's/son's clothing, I'll look cool.
  • It's good fat.
  • My lotto number is due to win.
  • Every student deserves an A.
  • My doggie is a member of my family; members of your family are allowed in coffeeshops/stores/restaurants; ergo, my doggie has the right to be in a coffeeshop/store/restaurant.
  • I love animals. That's why I hunt.
  • If I drive 5 mph hour under the speed limit, I will make the road safer for everyone else.
  • Our friends who are vegetarians or require Kosher meals won't mind eating a bowl of iceberg lettuce while the rest of us eat three-course meals.
  • My child does not lie.
  • Intelligent Design is a sound, scientific theory.
  • I know that research shows that people on cell phones are unable to attend to driving, but I'm the exception.
By the way, if you believe any of these, um, sorry. Have a nice day.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

It's always something.

I ran 20 miles this morning. 2-0.
I don't want to talk about how long it took me. Let's just say that I did it, and leave it at that.
The weather was gorgeous, light frost on the ground when I started out and then up in the 50's when I finished.

You know, every time I do a long run I'm sharply reminded that this is a whole body thing. There's always some part of my body, heretofore unheard from, that reminds me that it is not used to this and that there is just some crap up with which it WILL NOT PUT!

The long run before last, my shoulder ached like hell. Just from my arms swinging loosely at my sides, like the books says, but it was nearly 17 miles of swinging loosely at my sides. The last long run I did was only 16 miles, but my calves really ached afterward.

Today, my back hurts. Really aches. You know those Wiley Cayote cartoons when something heavy falls on him and then he walks away, looking like an accordian? That's how I feel. I have this compulsion to hang upside down from something and stretch myself back out.

I get putulant when I'm tired, so here's my current list of demands:
  • I want 2 extra strength advil.
  • I want to take them with cold, plain water.
  • I want a plate of fried hash brown potatoes with lots of salt and Cholula.
  • I want a hot bath and a nap.
Then I'll decide what else to do with my day.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

No more weight class.

So this morning, it happened.

I got up, and did all my usual pre-weighing ritual: stripped, combed my hair, took off all jewelry, went to the bathroom, exhaled all the air from my lungs (because air has weight, too. Actually, it presses down upon us about 14 pounds per square inch at sea level. The reason you don't feel it is because it presses on all parts of us. That's your science fact of the day. Hey, I'm on vacation, and I've got to get that out of me somehow).

Anyway, I got onto the scale, and the scale ran its little light across several tmes while the tiny scale demon inside decided what number to bestow upon me.

Then, the tiny scale demon inside decided on a number and flashed it back at me.

...wait for it...(magestic swelling of music)...

Yeah, I know. I got all teary-eyed, too. Then, I took a deep breath and the number went back up to 150. But for a moment, there, I was no longer Athena status. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that for my height, it's not where I want to be forever.

Not long ago, Nytro was kind enough to remind me, in a not-so-subtle and slightly threatening way that once I pass below 150 on the scale, I no longer get to call myself an Athena, not no-way, not no-how. When a six-foot tall badass ball playin' Athena tells you something, you listen.

I realize that I may bounce around up and down between 151 and 149 (which is 67.5 kg, for our Australian friends) and that the scale at my doctor's office, which has a much more evil and malevolent scale demon inside it, will probably read 245, but I'm claiming this number anyway. I'm proactive, and forward thinking, and Nytro is fast and might just chase chase me down at the Rock-n-Roll AZ and stomp all over me, so I've gone ahead and changed my logo. My url will stay the same.

A number on the scale can seem like such an arbitrary thing, can't it? My goal all this time, since beginning this, has been to reach 144 lbs. Five more pounds to go.

Why 144?
  1. It represents the total loss of 50 pounds since I decided in January 2005 that I was tired of being, well, fat and tired. That sounds kind of cool. 50 pounds is about the same as a healthy 2nd-grader.
  2. It represents a change in status from "obese" to "normal" again, for my height, according to BMI charts.
  3. I think it has some kind of biblical connotation. The multitude, and all that.
  4. It's a perfect square (told you I was a geek.)
I don't expect much will change. I'm still slow. I still have asthma, and I'm still pretty lazy.

I'm still well ensconced at the back of the pack, and probably will be, for quite some time yet. I'll deal with the change of status to "middle of the pack" if and when that happens.

And I'll never be a skinny "runner bitch".

On a non-related note, I really hate that my change to beta blogger has wiped out the identity of some of the people who've left me comments in the past. I don't know how to get them back, and I was using them to read your blogs.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Top 10 non-goals for 2007.

There's a lot I'm looking foward to about 2007. This is the year that people start thinking about resolutions and goals for the coming year. I've won't make a list of goals, because the S on my outfit really stands for Short-Attention Span. I tend to drop some goals in favor of more timely, appropriate goals as the year moves on. So, instead of setting goals, I'll just talk about things I'm looking forward to in 2007.

I suppose you could say that I'm setting "maybe"s, keeping in mind that my "maybe" is stronger than a lot of people's goals. So here's the top ten things II'm looking forward to in 2007:

10. Losing that last ten pounds, and having ten pounds less of my ass to haul around courses and up and down hills. Maybe even wearing a two-piece triathlon suit, (wearing it well) and hopefully, looking better in a wetsuit.
9. New injinji socks in their newest color. What's better than sexy black toes socks? Sexy pink toe socks!
8. Getting faster. Last year's word was "finisher". This year's word will be "faster". I'm looking foward to seeing what interval training and extra protein in my diet will bring. I'm planning to break a 10 minute mile in a 5K. (Yeah, I know it's been done before. But not by me.)
7. More FIRSTS: first marathon, first full Ironman, first IM tattoo??
6. Finishing the Grady Williams Olympic distance tri, once and for all.
5. Chasing down a few rival own quiet, personal quest...I won't name names...they'll never know...
4. Taking better race photos. I mean of me. I always look so pained. I've given up trying to look stoic or strong; I'm going for just plain silly.
3. Zooming around the country in the Honda FIT visiting exotic and strange locals with Sweet Baboo (yes, you read that right. There's nobody else I'd rather be in a car with for hours on end.)
2. Meeting new people and hanging out with them at races! having finish line parties.

and the number one thing I'm looking foward to in 2007:

1. Finding out what else I can do!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why I missed my Sunday long run: Excuse #179.

If you buy bean burritos from Taco Bell...

and then find that you've ordered more than you can comfortably consume...

do not, repeat, DO NOT eat that one that you left sitting out at room temperature six hours later.

That is all.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Clowns to the left of me; jokers to the right (race report)

Yesterday was the first race, officially, of the 2007 season. Held at White Sands Missel Range, it's the second time I've done this race, a reverse tri, my favorite kind. We started out about 8:15, and it was in the mid to upper 30's. On the 5K run I was hanging with 3-time Athena champ Karen for a while, which is pretty astonishing in itself because I've NEVER been able to do that. After a while, I took off and did some strides, finishing just ahead of her on the run. My overall pace was around 10:30, pretty good for me, considering how cold it was. I was focused on a girl and her boyfriend, whom Karen had nicknamed "Pinkass" since she appeared to be running in pajama bottoms with the word, PINK emblazoned on the butt. I passed them once and then they passed me, toward the end of the run. I've discovered that if I find someone who is usually a bit faster than I am, I can push myself to stay with them. That's my new strategy.

I spent the rest of the race imagining Karen closing in on me. Just over my shoulder. Whatsat? Is that her breathing?

I headed out on what I thought was a 20K bike. I THOUGHT it was 20K. I had asked Sweet Baboo the night before and he said, "I think it's 20k." We've done 19 races in this series, so we've kind of lost track of how long each one is. yeah, I know. I should have asked. Or looked at my T-shirt.

In any case it was the first time I'd been on my bike since Soma, and it felt really strange. There are two things about this bike course that are annoying; first, there's a part of it that goes uphill, and you feel it, but it doesn't really look like it's going uphill because there are rolling hills around you and mountains and stuff; all you know is that you're looking down at your speedometer and you're going something like 11 or 12 mph and giving it all you've got in a low gear going nowhere. Second, there is lots of frost heaving on this road, so there are jarring bumps at pretty regularly spaced intervals that suck the energy right out of you. However, there's usually a refreshing lack of wind that you don't get the rest of the year.

The title of today's post comes from the fact that, for some reason, some people don't read up on triathlon before doing one. This race attracts a lot of newbies (there were about 170 people there, total) and they were all over the road. "On your left!" You might shout. Followed by "Well, on your right, I guess" for the person who was riding along the yellow line. One racer was riding over into the oncoming lane.

My biggest criticism about this race is that, since it's not a USAT santioned event, nobody gets penalized for this kind of stupid behavior. For instance, Pinkass and her boyfriend rode side-by-side during the entire bike split, taking up the entire lane. I know this because I had to pass them, twice. "Please ride to the right, so that you can be passed on the left" I said, as nicely as possible when I went by, but they ignored me." I passed Pinkass twice, having to cross the yellow line to do it once, and she passed me twice, toward the end of the bike.

The whole time, of course, I imagined that Karen was right behind me, ready to pass me at any second. I was determined not to look behind me, trying to stick to the saying, "the race is ahead of you."

Of course, the bike was NOT 20K. At 15K I started hammering away, thinking I only had about 3 miles to go. A cruel, cruel misconception. I passed 20K sign, and my legs were getting tired, and I was still way out in the desert. I passed the 25K sign and people were starting their final sprints, passing me. By now, I was cursing freely. I was wearing out. I rolled into T2 at 30K, pretty much on momentum about 1:12 after I started. Yeah, I know. I did two half irons. This should be easy, right? Nope - I was breathless and tired when I hit that pool. and CRANKY.

I stripped down--tights, jacket, bolero, gloves, shoes--to my skinsuit and grabbled my goggles, and then tried desperately to get past a man-a spectator-who was meandering down the walkway to the pool sipping a cup of coffee. Finally, in desperation (God forgive me) I dropped my shoulder and KNOCKED him out of my way (I figure Nytro would appreciate that). There certain advantages in having extra mass "Sorry, excuse me," I muttered to the guy, feeling neither sorry nor like I needed excusing. In any case, Meandering Coffee Man gasped and stumbled off to the side, trying not to drop his coffee.

By the way, I learned that move from a childhood of playing "Red rover" in Alabama. Another advantage of having been a tomboy.

When I got to the pool, there were four or five people standing around not getting in, and I think it was because, the moment you stepped into the indoor pool area, your goggles fogged up. I didn't care, because I knew once I hit the pool they would clear, but meanwhile, here were these clowns blocking the entrence to the pool! I considered briefly the shoulder drop knock move again, but finally slid past a couple people and jumped in. I don't know what my swim split was for the 400 meters because I forgot to press the button on my watch, but I think it was about 9 or 10 minutes.

At the awards ceremony I was stunned when my name was called out, 3rd place, 40-44 females. Even more stunned when I found out that one the 2nd place winner had been put in the wrong age group, so I actually took 2nd. I wasn't expecting to win anything in this race. I had a couple of small goals that I was trying to meet, but I didn't expect any hardware out of it. Cool!

Results: 2nd place, female 40-44
Last year's time: 2:08
This year's time, 1:59


Friday, December 08, 2006

I'm off!

I'm headed down to White Sands to begin my new triathlon season as a dead-last age-grouper.

Technically, I'm still an Athena, but I made such a fuss and was so certain that I would be down by now, well, here I am, and I can't go back. I'll be freezing my butt off but rarin' to go tomorrow morning. the Jonster and Sweet Baboo are doing this race also.

I just found out that there's a music group out there called Slow Runner. I wonder what kind of music it is? I'm gonna check this out. If I become a famous back-of-the-packer, they could be my theme music.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Aren't I a little too old to pick up new problems?

So, I'm at the dentist, having my semi-annual cleaning. I've had my metal picking, scraping and polishing, etc., by the hygienist. The dentist comes in, and then he starts poking and prodding.

Then, the stinging begins.

At first, I'm not sure I feel it,and then I'm like, "Hey, do you have something on your gloves, like a cleaner or something?"
No, he assures me.
But I'm still feeling a sting, and it's really starting to hurt. Folks, you're reading the ramblings of someone whose had multiple root canals, and had her first child, a 9-pound baby, with no spinal block. I am no pain weenie, but this was starting to feel like someone sticking needles into my gums!

After a minute or two I realize I can feel, with my tongue, a couple of bumps that have come up on my gums, near where he was examining my teeth. Ehh?

It was the hygenist solved the mystery. The dentist was wearing latex gloves, and the hygenist had worn vinyl gloves. Apparently, I've developed an allergy to latex.

Who knew? I haven't been in the hospital since my last kid was born in 1991. I came home and did the old reliable internet search and found out that there's a good reason why, for the past ten years or so, bananas, melons, some nuts, and avocados have made my mouth and lips itch and swell up. Whenever I would tell people this, though, they looked at me like I was crazy.

I hate to admit that at one point I thought latex allergies were another fad mallady. Now I read that I should have this listed on my RoadID and tell my Dr. about it and the nurse where I work.

I also found out that this allergy gets worse over time the more you're exposed to latex.

It also turns out that latex is, well, pretty much everywhere. Balloons, panty elastic. mouse pads. electronics' buttons. Spandex. Let's face it, pretty much anything stretchy and fun has it.
Huh. I suppose I'm never too old the be inconvenienced in some small way. I mean, a world without spandex and panty elastic is, well, just a world without sunshine.

Now I'm all paranoid, wondering which of my running equipment has latex in it. Like I need a reason to be paranoid anyway.
Anyway, if you're interested in reading more about this, here's a link:


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

the Jonster completes his season.

Well, yesterday wasn' too bad. The Cross Country Banquet was interesting. We ate before going and then sat and people-watched. Ever do this? It's interesting to watch how people eat. And scary.

Parents went first, and when they opened up the line, Oh, My, God - it was like --oh hell, it WAS--a feeding frenzy. Adults actually RUSHED the food line. I was embarassed for them. I mean, I make a pig of myself at home from time to time, but in public, I try to at least look like I'm not going to eat the next person in line.

The adults piled the plates high. It was an orgy of processed meats, cheeses, pizza, and everything fried.

Except for my spaghetti.

Which nobody touched.


People would have two slices of pizza AND a 6"smeat-and-cheese sub AND two or three other entrees, go back for seconds and just as much food the second time around, and then, of course, deserts.

I am fairly certian they weren't fueling any workouts.

The Jonster, formerly known as Mini-me, got his certificate for his season and some cloth numbers and both he and Sweet Baboo had to explain to me the mysterious world of letterman's jackets. The "09" is the year he graduates from high school, the year he leaves, and the year I officially get my house back.

Before triathlon, the Jonster dabbled in sports here and there but he really didn't see it through. Neither of my other two children was interested in anything active when they were growing up, mainly because I didn't encourage it.

However, when Sweet Baboo and I became involved in triathlon, we started dragging him around. We said, "Do one, don't do one. We don't care, take pictures or volunteer if you want." Eventually, though, he reasoned that there were few in his age group, and who doesn't love a medal? his competitive nature got the better of him. Nobody yelled at him if he lost. Everyone was supportive and friendly.

During his first season of triathlon, the Jonster joined and finished his first season of Cross Country at his high school, and then then tried out for and made swim team, mainly for--get this--the purpose of improving his triathlon splits. Hah! He also plans to be in track.

While in Cross Country, he had to run at least 4 miles every day after school for cross country, did lots of drills, and has knocked 9 minutes off his 5K time. the Jonster, age fifteen, throws around comments about 5K and 10K times and is pretty fluent in swim talk.

He's already swum in his first meet, and did the 100-meter back stroke and 50-meter free style (something ike 32 seconds on the latter) Last night, on the way home, he was explaining to us all the different drills he does in swimming, and we told him he'd need to show us all that he's learning, which I think made him feel pretty good.

Although he's not a running or swimming star, it will improve his triathlon time and he can excel there.

Before he joined the swim team, he thought the object was to swim as far as you can without breathing. Did you read that? SWIM AS FAR AS YOU CAN, WITHOUT BREATHING. For 6 months, this was what he thought.

Oh, Dude! I wish you'd said something! a 1500 meter swim is really long when you're trying not to breathe. Now that he's learned bilateral breathing, his swim time has dramatically improved.

This Saturday, after he does his first triathlon of th 2007 season, he'll accept the Champtionship award for the under-20 group in the Southwest Challenge Series. He was the only one to qualify.

I've always hoped that in some way I would leave the earth a better place than I found it, and would have improved the lives of othes in some small way in the meantime. I really hope that part of my legacy is to create another tri-junkie who in turns influences others to live life where running and being active is normal and eating to fuel your workout is what you think about when you serve up those portions.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ahh. Nothing like a sprint tri

This Saturday I have a sprint triathlon at White Sands Missel Range. I expect it to be a relaxing experience, and here's why.

Every once in a while you have "one of those days." Days that you know about in advance that are going to be completely insane, but you can't avoid them.
Yeah. This week will be like that.
Not that we're not all busy. I'm just throwing myself a major pity party.

So, today, I'll have my morning run - further proof that I'm a member of the ISR, the Insane Runner's Club ; it's 25 out but I want to go outside because I want to try out my new stuff from Sunday to see if it really keeps me warm. I'll do about 4 miles or so, then shower and hit a 6:45 am meeting (not a typo) then teach electron dot configurations all day, then go downtown to the counseling center where I volunteer and see a client, then head back uptown to the 'burbs and whip up some Potato Gnochi to take to my son's Cross Country potluck banquet where all the meat eaters will get in line ahead of me and take all the vegetarian food because "it looks so healthy." (I should have prepared this all yesterday but I spent 2 hours running errands after work, including 45 minutes waiting for my turn at the bank where I was told, "you should call the student loan people to take care of this" ). SOOO, after the banquet, where all the vegetarian food will be eaten and there will be nothing left but salads with cheese and ham bits inthem, (I HATE POTLUCKS) I'll come home and have a peanut-butter sandwitch. Then, I'll prepare tomorrow's lesson during which I'm being observed by an administrator. But first I have to go to the store to get glue, index cards, borax bananas, more protein powder, and bread.

Then the rest of the week I'll have fairly "normal" days except that after work I have a workshop, dental exam, and oil change scheduled, in that order, and of course I pick up Mini-me from swim practice at 5 and then on Friday the famdamily and I leave to go down to Las Cruces to do the first triathlon of the SWCS 2007 season, which I expect to be chilly.

but relaxing.

and now you know why.

Nothing really to say here. Just venting.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Feels like twelve.

I didn't make it to the big 2-0 on my long run this morning.

The run I did complete (about 16 miles) was made at an impressively slow pace. I don't think I could have gone any slower unless I was standing still. Or moving backwards, in the opposite direction of where I really wanted to go. Allow me to explain why.

It all has to do with the phrase "Feels like" As in,
Expected high today: 37 F, with variable winds from the north to northeast.
Current temperature, 17 F.
Feels like 12 F.

Did you read that? It feels like twelve degrees farenheit. FEELS. LIKE. TWELVE.

Now, I'm not one to back away from a challenge, so I forged ahead. I am a serious cold weenie, though, and it was cold. Darn cold. Damned cold. Don't even bother trying to one-up me with how you went running up in Fargo or Fairbanks and it was ten below or you did the Naked Pumpkin run in the snow. I don't care; this isn't a contest, you win, shut up.

The first thing I noticed on the running trail, was that even the horses and homeless people weren't around. Did you read that? HORSES AND HOMELESS PEOPLE WERE WISER THAN I TODAY; THEY FOUND SOME PLACE BETTER TO BE THAN OUTSIDE RUNNING.

I did get a sense, however, of exactly who the insane die-hard runners are, because they were out there. Another club to which I now belong. I'm now an insane runner.

Anyway, just in case you aren't familiar with what running at this temperature feels like, I will share with your what "FEELS LIKE TWELVE" feels like.
  • It feels like the icy tendrils of death and chasing your down and working their way inside your clothes.
  • It feels like someone pressing their thumbs, hard, on your cheekbones, until they ache, when the wind blows across your face.
  • It feels like, if you turn your head left or right, even one iota, your glasses will fog up for about the next 15 minutes.
  • It feels like a pair of running pants OVER your running tights and your butt is still cold.
  • It feels like your hands are curled up inside your gloves and your fingers still hurt like hell from the cold.
  • It feels like your asthmatic lungs refusing to function because they just can't handle air that cold, so that you basically spend over 3 hours not able to get your breath.
  • It feels like wearing neoprene on your face and still feeling the cold. NEOPRENE. ON. YOUR. FACE.
  • It feels like trying to get your Hammer gel, now an amorphous solid, out of your gel flask, and being largely unsuccessful until you stick it in your bra for twenty minutes (I've since learned that I should add some water to it in advance).
  • It feels like idly wondering if the neoprene thing you have on your face, which is too big because you borrowed it from your Clydesdale husband, is basically creating a pocket of carbon dioxide around your mouth so that you just continuously inhale your own exhalations.
  • It feels like the crunching noise that the Clif Blok made when you bite down on it. DID YOU READ THAT? MY CLIF BLOKS WERE CRUNCHY.
  • It feels like imagining newstories with passages like,

    "Her body was found propped up against a tree, a package of solid Clif Bloks in one hand and frozen Hammer Gel flask in another. She looked pissed."

  • Feels like demanding a trip to Sportz Outdoorz to get a running jacket, insulated tights, glove liners, and my own sized neoprene thingy for my face.
Which we did. Sweet Baboo is a very smart man. He's heard the jokes long enough to know that there's some truth in them; "if she ain't happy, ain't nobody happy".) and I wasn't happy.

Worst run I ever had, but, as Sweet Baboo put it, I did it.

My reward was a pair of insulated conditioning tights, Brooks energy jacket, thermal glove liners, and a neoprene thingy for my face. At least I got new stuff.

Next weekend, if its this cold, I'll be ready.


Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa, Baby...

Dear Santa,

My friend Susan gave me this great idea today.
I won't lie. I like presents. So here's my wish list; what would yours look like?

Santa Baby, I've been a good girl, unless, of course, you subscribe to some some obsure rating system that penalizes people for not sticking to training plans, dumping a ton of butter-flavored oil on popcorn, and eating fake creme cheese frosting out of a can, yelling at the cats, or cursing teenagers silently behind their backs.

I've been thinking about what a good girl like me should get, and I want to entreat upon you the reasons why I should have need these things. There's not a whole lot on my list, because Sweet Baboo keeps me pretty well outfitted, but I have noticed some things in current issues of Runner's world, Ultrarunning that have made me, well, lustful of such things.

Here are the tangibles:

1. I should like very much to have an Ipod shuffle, 2nd generation, or as a runner up, a SanDisk mp3 player with the optional clip-on holder. They are very cool, and that coolness will results in greater efficacy while running. I can clip it onto my hat or strap of my singlet, attach an extra short earbud (I only wear one ear when I'm running) and off I go.

2. I'd like some matching pieces of the brooks "Nightlife" running ensem. They are black with reflective fluorescent yellow. I have the gloves. I now want the shirt, pants, hat, and jacket. and the shorts. Again, the coolness factor. Oh, and safety.

3. Some race ready stuff. I like the shorts with the 4" inseam and the mesh pockets in the back and the singlets with the race number holders built-in.

6. I should like many more pairs of sexy Injini toe socks. They are now making them in pink. I want pink ones.

6. A good triathlon transition setup. There's these inflatable foot rinses and very cool triathlon bag. I can get my name embroidered on it. . the same company makes a therapists bag. Very cool.

7. A Podium duel hydration system for my bike.

8. Added 12/3: Irobot Scuba. Authomatically cleans and dries hard floors. It actually is supposed to do a pretty good job, too. (Tell me you don't want one)

Now for the more intangible requests.

9. Can you do something about 8th-graders and their penchent for drama? Maybe you could make them calmer, more able to listen to reason.

10. Can you communicate to the powers that be in congress that no public school can get a 100% passing rate? It's not like a business; businesses control the type of materials they have to work with. They get to send back ingredients that are too difficult or expensive to work with. We don't. We try to teach them.

11. Could you bring a peaceable resolution to the whole Iraq debacle? Bring the boys and girls back home, please.

12. Could cats learn to cough up firballs in their litter pan instead of in the middle of the floor, where I step on them, cold and wet, in the middle of the night?

Santa, I'll put out some yummy cookies for you on the Eve. Come to think of it, you're looking a bit thick of thigh lately, so maybe it will be a protein smoothie. Either way, you'll be welcome in our house that day. Happy holidays.

There. You've all been tagged. what's on your wish list?



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