Sunday, September 30, 2007

Elephant Butte Race, er, I mean, VOLUNTEER Report.

So yesterday morning, I followed Sweet Baboo on his second trip around the 26-mile course down at Elephant Butte. He was doing this as a training ride and also to get familiar with the course since he would be officiating here at the inaugural "Elephant Man."

Elephant Butte (elev. 4500) gets its name because of the formation that looks like an elephant (click on the first photo, above, and see what you think.).

Pirate tried in vain to show me, "There, look at that flat spot, that's the ear, can you see it?" but to be truthful, I thought it looked more like a shar-pei.

But I guess Elephant Butte is more poetic than Sharpei Butte. I'll let you decide.

The place where we stayed, Elephant Butte Inn and spa, was very nice, and in fact I think the race should adopt their logo for the T-shirts. The one they have was drawn by a local guy, and I can understand the loyalty to him and his effort, but it's weird seeing what appears to be a picture of Ganesh riding a bike with a snorkel and fins.

So anyway.

When Baboo got to the hill they call, "Big Daddy" I know I stared, open-mouthed and watched Baboo attack it, up out of his saddle, his speed dropping steadily as he climed the approximatley 11% grade, hill headed straight into a strong, steady wind.

Mini-me piped up. "He won't make it"

"Yes, he will."

"He can't. He's moving too slowly. He'll fall over"

He did make it, and then the long climb that followed that one up back onto the mesa.

It was then that I made a couple of phone calls, to people who I knew were leaving Albuquerque at that moment, headed down here to do this race.

Now, the key to talking to athletes when wanting to discuss a daunting course with them without freaking them out is the use the special code. I never understood it before, but I did now. For instance, the long run from the lake up to T1 becomes, "a bit of a jog."

A long hill becomes, "a bit of a climb".

A really big steep hill will, "get your attention."

A strong steady gale becomes, "some wind, but we're hoping it will clear out by tomorrow"

In short, a torturous course becomes, "a challenge."

I swam the course, and it was about 72 degrees, which was good because I forgot my wetsuit. However, it was as choppy a swim as I'd ever had, though I think it was calmer the next day; on the way back in I was swimming straight into the chop and finally started swimming really aggressively, almost stabbing my hands into the water as I headed back to shore. Thank goodness for bilateral breathing.

Then we walked the first miles of the 10K out-and-back. As the first mile approached the road, there was a steep hill of deep sand. By this time I was nearly laughing hysterically. I was soooooo happy to not be doing this race. It seriously violates my laziness threshold. I will do short and challenging. I will do long and easy. Long and challenging, though, just pisses me off.

hilly, windy bike
hot hilly run, damn, I'm glad
to hand out water.

The next morning, we packed up after the swim start and headed out to the aid station. During the race, I was happy to move do a little dance in the road to the music and ring a cowbell. Pirate, Maria and I were wearing our little black dresses from SkirtSports that we'd screeed with our team logo on it, and I hoped to be some inspiration to the male triathletes as they chugged up a steep hill, the top of which was the run turn around and our aid station. Also volunteering with us was VeganRunAmok.

The women triathletes I wasn't as sure how to inspire; short of having Mike and Time stand around shirtless. Everybody, though, seemed happy to us, the water, the gatorade, the gu's, the ice-cold sponges.

As athletes ran up a formidable hill toward our station at the turnaround, they were first met with Pirate in her leetle black dress and cowboy hat, asking if they want a gel, what flavor? Caffeinated or un? Then Mini-me pumped up a super soaker and asked if they wanted to be squirted. Next, there was Maria and VeganRunAmok with water and gatorade. After running around the tent they were offered icy cold sponges. Then they had one last chance for a gel before heading back down the hill. All this while listening to what we hoped was inspirational rock and pop tunes from a loud boom box.

I mostly rang the cowbell and tried to look cute.

At the aid station of this small race (163 signed up) I saw SW TriGal and her sweetheart Hartley, Cindy, Lisa Tri-ing, and many others including Pirate's Beloved.

I was somewhat inspired to do this race next year, but again I'm not sure. It's at the end of the season, after my A races. The bike is unbelievably difficult. The run is completely exposed and hot, and a third of it is through soft sand.

But the venue is nice, and quiet. The pre-race pasta dinner was held out on a lawn on a warm, breezy summer night. The people who live here are nice, enthusiastic, and tend to drive 5-10 miles under the speed limit, making is a nice safe place to ride a bike.

In fact, the only rude person I saw wasn't even from here: she had come down from Albuquerque in her porche and was furious that the road to her slip at the marina was closed. She cursed, and swore, and eventually apologized when the park police agreed to let her go through so that her $2000 (she was happy to inform me how much she paid for her slip) wouldn't be wasted so she could go sit on her boat.

I'd recommend this race. The volunteers (ahem) are awesome, and the course well-marked. While it is challenging, it's up to you to overcome it; the roads are all in good shape so it's just you, the sun, and the hills, baby.

You might even get to see me there.

Yeah, I'll probably do it next year. Sand, hills, and all. (Sigh.)


Our aid station won first place. Woo-hoo! And why not? It was the only aid station manned by real, live triathletes, y'all.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Random bits of excitement.

1) I found a local source of chinese mock meat, in the freezer of a local world food market. As I write this, I am enjoying cajun mock shrimp, which is awesome, and Sweet Baboo is having some mock barbecued pork, which is so good, you can almost taste the trichinella.

2) My tattoo is finally past the reallllly itchy/peely stage. I'm going swimming tomorrow.

3) I managed to get through the day without throwing things at the head of a particular student, even though I thought about it more than once. Thought about it. Long and hard. (hah, heh, she said long and hard) Guess what, Miss Thang? Having a diagnosis of ODD in your record doesn't exempt you from being written up.

4) I've decided that 2008 will be the year of my first ultra marathon. I'm not fast, but I'm good at holding a pace (my coach even said so.) Here's some runs that I'm considering, for next year. If you've done any of these, let me know! I'd appreciate some feedback. The first 50K's I'd like to do would be ones that don't have cutoffs.

6) I'm almost caught up on my blog reading. I fell way behind.

7) I found a new blog I'm addicted to. Here's a sample:


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Crappity crap crap.

Other than getting caught up on my blog reading this weekend, I have discovered that being a sloth is not without its downside. Why? Because I got back on the bike today with friend/masseuse Stephanie and headed out for a 55-60 mile ride.

(Sweet Baboo went out by himself to do 100 miles of hills and NO I'M NOT KIDDING, I SWEAR TO GAWD, ONE HUNDRED MILES OF HILLS and I'm sure he would have invited me along but he probably knows I would have answered with something like, "uh, no thanks, I can just beat on my own legs with a mallet".) But anyway.

SO I headed out on this little ride thinking, this is no big deal, I am IRON MISTY after all, and, well Holy. Hell, my quads seemed to have completely atrophied to nothing.

Hills left me panting. The wind pushed me backwards, but ONLY me, as Steph pedaled easily ahead of me, and I think she was even singing a little song or something, so easy were the climbs on this little jaunt.

I've discovered that even if you are trained up for an Ironman, one with lots of hills, no less, well, APPARENTLY if you ignore your bike (except for an occasional insult and hateful look every time you walk by) for three or four weeks, you LOSE some of your CONDITIONING.


Doing a long course should be like getting a college degree. You've gone that far, and now it's permanent. There should be a rule that you can't lose your conditioning once you're finished a long course triathlon. All in favor, say aye.

I even had to stop once or twice, not just because my legs have lost their conditioning and ability to head up even moderate hills and go against the wind, but perhaps more importantly, my ass has lost its conditioning and the requisite ability to stay comfortably on a saddle for 3-4 hours without feeling chaffed and bruised.

That's some bullshit, son.

So Now I have to, I guess, ride the bike more. CRAP. And, just when I was starting to have a grudging tolerance for the bike, I hate it again. HATE. IT.

So now, I have to build my legs and butt back up for my final tri of the season: SOMA half iron on October 28th. CRAP. And, I have precious time left to do it.

Why can't we just swim and run?


Thank you for letting me have this little tantrum.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

in praise of slow.

I like the word 'indolence.' It makes my laziness seem classy. ~Bern Williams

Okay, so now September is drawing to a close and my month of sloth is over. I've meandered, whined, and avoided sweaty stuff for a few weeks now.

I claimed this month as my month of sloth - even though I did do a couple 7 and 10 mile runs here and there, and, um, a few bike rides, as well as a lot of swimming, at least until my tat was done.
Oh, and I also did Wednesdays with the Jimmy. Wednesdays are "turbo bricks," where we alternate plyometrics, interval training, and spinning. I never miss Wednesdays with the Jimmy. Even as I dread them, because he makes me go fast. However, during track intervals, the Jimmy usually sends me around the track first, so that there isn't a huge lag time between when the others are done and I finish.

For most of my life I was completely sedentary. Now I feel lazy for 'only' running 10 or so miles in a week! This week, for instance, I was scheduled to do a 10 mile run one morning before work (I have to be at work at 7:10) and I thought, nuh-uh. Don't feel like it. I'll do it later. Then that afternoon and evening, it rained like hell. I'll admit, I was relieved. Still didn't feel like a run. But even as I was thinking that, I was thinking, I have got to quit being so lazy, or I'll never get faster.

Which got me to thinking about lazy, which technically I'm not, and slow, which I definitely am.

I mean, I feel lazy but then the people I know every day don't exercise hardly at all. I guess i feel "lazy" because I hang out with some pretty intense people. Pirate likes to run (and bike) up mountains, and her Beloved runs a half marathon in about an hour and a half.

And relative to the Sweet Baboo, I'm pretty lathargic when it comes to training. For instance, if he had come in from running, as I did this morning, and discovered he shorted his long run accidentally by nearly 2 miles, he'd go right back out again and do more. Not me. I called it good, and made myself a Recoverite smoothie. It's all about the smoothie, baby.

And, as a result, I'm slow. Of course, it doesn't help that I've got 42 years under my belt of having been consistently rewarded for doing things s-l-o-w-l-y.

I didn't go to college until I was 26, and then I took 5-1/2 years to get my bachelor's degree. However, I've had jobs (mostly math teaching) fall at my feet ever since.

I met Sweet Baboo later in life than others meet their true love. But there's nothing or nobody I'd rather have with me if I were marooned forever on a deserted island.

And, despite an average 5K run speed over 10 minutes per mile, and an average bike speed in the 14-ish mph range, I've finished almost every single triathlon I've ever tried, including an Ironman. I've done over 30 of them in two years, and I've never had an injury, no a muscle spasms, and just one tiny toe blister that I disovered two days after Ironman Louisville.

I'm not sure where I'm going with this...

It just seems to me, that if I were supposed to be faster, I wouldn't be having this good a time, y'know? I wouldn't feel this healthy. Right now, my slow run, between 10k and 10 miles, is around a 12 minute mile. Above that, it's between 13:30 and 14:30. My five K time is still over 10 minutes.

Sometimes I think of the benefits of fast and envy faster people: they get done before it's really hot, spend less time working hard, and it's a bit easier. There's still pizza left at the finish line because the faster triathletes and their families haven't eaten it all yet. The photographers are still there.

Then again, I go to the local Wall-wart and compare myself to the general population and feel better. Many Americans can't pass a general fitness test, but I can run down most 8th graders. While others are waiting for the closest parking spot I'm jogging across the parking lot.

And, I was slow at IMLooUHville, but not too slow to finish, y'all.

Lots of things are better slow , such as food, sex...uh, okay, I guess it's just food and sex. (But what else do you want?)

Plus, I notice things during runs that faster folks miss sometimes. The sunflowers at the Oklahoma Redman. The smell of chocolate flower on my long runs up the north diversion channel. That funky smell on the run at the Cotton Country sprint. That mailbox that looks like a fish in the AtomicMan. That one horse that seemed to be looking right at me in Kentucky. The fact that since I'm the last of my friends to be done, I always have a cheering section at the finish line.

But now my month of "sloth" is over. I've run out of excuses: I'm no longer recovering from Ironman LooUHville, my tattoo, or starting back to work. It's time to step it up a bit. Tomorrow I'll do at least a 60 mile ride. I'll go back to swimming next week because the tattoo is nearly fully healed (I seem to heal much faster now than I used to.)

I'll keep working out, and if I get faster, so be it. I'll do a couple weeks of intensity to get back in shape for SOMA. Maybe I'll do SOMA faster this year. Maybe not. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy being slow.

This morning, I did a run without my garmin that I was convinced had to be at least 9 miles. Turned out to be 8.25 (whoops). However, I did it under a 13 minute mile, which was pretty good for me, considering it was hilly. And, I felt FAB. U. LOUS. Beautiful morning, that smelled good and felt good. And I enjoyed it, running as I do, S.L.O.W.L.Y.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Me and my soapbox.

Today I'm teaching two-step equations and multi-step equations.

The problem:
-4(x + 1.25) = -8
-4x - 5 = -8
+ 5 + 5
-4x = -3
/-4 /-4
x = .75 or 3/4

C'mon. I just gave you flashbacks, didn't I? Didn't I? Did your math PTSD kick in?

One of the hard parts of teaching Algebra, is trying to explain to a teenager and sometimes their parent (Why are we learning this?) that everything you're teaching them helps their brain form new connections that will help them learn other things faster in the future.
This to a group of people who, for the most part, can barely conceptualize next week, much less a few years from now.

Of course, look who I'm talking to. I've noticed a huge proportion of triathletes have degrees in engineering. So I guess another answer to the question, Why are we learning this? might be so that someday you can obsess about yours or other people's statistics and enter formulas into Excel that will aid in your obsessing.

But anyway.

Today I'm going to rant, and it's not about triathlon, so I won't at all be hurt if you choose not to read.

So I was at the gas station and CNN was on and they were reading letters from people who were responding to a story about merit pay for teachers. Something that, for the record, I am against.

The general consensus of the folks that wrote in: I'm sick and tired of these teachers and their unions asking for more money. All my taxes go to support these teachers and their schools!

My favorite: If teachers want more money, they should teach summer school!

My second favorite: Why should my taxes be raised? I don't even have children!

I also noticed that some teachers wrote in, and talked about "these parents". As in, These parents need to raise kids that actually care about learning.


I've been a teacher for 8 years. I've been a parent for 23 years. I also have a master's degree in educational psychology and research.

My take: We live in a culture that does not really care about kids. Oh, we say we do, but we have companies in the private sector that penalize people for having families. Our, "culture of life" consistently passes legislation that underfunds things for children such as education, healthcare, and social services.

As a result, kids are warehoused into crowded schools while their parents try to make a decent living for employers who penalize them if they take a day off to volunteer at school or take their kid to the doctor.

The tax system in this country does not take into account that fact that kids spend much of their waking time in schools - there's so much more we could be doing than just testing the crap out of them. We could be working with whole families instead of just being tangentally in touch with them and having this whole "us" and "them" thing going.

And I think that politicians like that. As long as we have this "us versus them" thing going we play the blame game and don't get organized to make them pass the legislation that will protect our children and our families.
For instance, we (schools) want ot be partners with you in raising good, happy kids. But, it's hard to transfer qualitative variables such as "stable home" and "happy, well-adjusted child" into the hard data that is demanded by No Child Left Behind. They don't want creativity, they don't want well-adjusted. They want proficiency scores.

Did you know: By 2014, every school in the US is required to have 100% of all students pass the proficiency tests.
I'm not making this up. 100%. Of all students. Regardless of mental ability. Or else.

I live in a state that has fairly decent pay for teachers, but I didn't ask for it. If I had my druthers, I'd have smaller classes. In fact, according to research, the school-related variable that is most closely associated with school achievement is class size.

Nobody who pays for four years to major in education is in it for the money. Some are in it for the coaching, but all are in it because they want to work with kids. Unfortunately, plenty of teachers are driven out because they become demoralized by how stingy communities can be, and how skewed the priorities have become.

Instead of raising my salary, I'd like to NOT have a limit on how many photocopies I can make in a year. I'd like my class size to be capped at 25, and to have an unlimited supply of markers for my white board, kleenex, and hand sanitizer. I'd like to get a new bulb ($16) for my overhead projector without waiting 3 weeks.

If I had a class size that small, I could have parents come in more often. As it is, I don't have room. Right now, two of my classes have 32 kids and one has 34. If they give me any more kids, they'll have to sit at the teacher's desk.

And they will. Give me more kids. And they'll sit at the teacher's desk, and share table space with other kids. My administrators will ask for permission to hire more teachers, but they will be turned down, because there isn't enough money.

Smaller class sizes will never be funded, because it's not "efficient." Most school models are mandated, actually, by law to be modeled after business models. Because, you know, when you think about children, you think about products, outcome, and efficiency. Riiiiiighttt.

I care about your kid. Not just because your child is a human being and all human beings have worth, but because s/he will be a future citizen in the world in which we live, and I want him/her to be a happy and productive citizen. I want to help empower you, as well, because I know you also want what's best for your child.

For now, I have him or her for 90 minutes a day. Me and the teacher's union are not your enemy. We are trying to protect the profession of teaching, and we really want the best for your child, and we want to be your partner and to make the job of being a parent easier.

Next year is an election year.

Pay attention to the candidates.

Ignore their speeches; instead, pay attention to their works.

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

What legislation have they voted for? Against? That speaks volumes.

Thanks for letting me rant.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Inked, pricked, and marked.

(Edited, with photos from Pirate)
I did my 9-mile long slow run this morning and finally felt normal. I held about a 12:30 pace, slower on the black top but faster on the windy trail with deep sand. Still trying to figure that one out. Gosh, it was a gorgeous morning. I headed out at dawn, just me, a sticky bottle of Perpetuum, and my ipod. The perpetuum is by orders of my dentist. As I have revealed, I have very soft enamel, and the sucrose I've been sucking down for 4 months has wreaked havoc.

So, then I showered, had a small breakfast and coffee, and met Pirate at Star Tattoo.

Inked, pierced man in black
pricks me while I breathe lamaze
I'm M-dotted now.

Yes, I'm working getting pictures to post. I've clearly left the battery charger for the camera in Louisville, so I have to raid the 16-year-old's room and take his...and, find out that his windows are wide open, and so is the air conditioning vent. Time to nail some windows shut...

But back to the tattoo. Pirate took phone pictures, and afterwards, Sonny gave me a little goody bag with post care instructions, a plastic toy, a sticker, and a sucker.

Pirate squealed, "Ooo! Tattoo schwag!" and Sonny, the artist, smiled politely even as we attempted to explain what "schwag" was.

Sonny, as talented as he is, will never be accused of an over abundance of jocularity.

Perhaps tattooing someone who looks like a soccer mom is a necessary evil to be a true artiste.

("Soccer Mom' is my daughter's current declaration of my current look; I admit this was a bit disappointing since I was going for 'sleek and athletic')

What does it feel like. Hmmm. Imagine having a bad sunburn and a three-year old with sharp fingernails scratching it.

For about an hour.

I didn't cry, or anything, but I definitely felt my face get hot, which is something it does when I'm stressed.

Then it was off to Wal-Green's, where I bought Aquaphor ointment and antibacterial soap. While ringing up my purchases, the pharmacy tech glanced at me and gave a little gasp of excitement "Did you just get a new piece?"


"A new piece. A new tattoo. Did you just get a new one?" Then proceded to tell me breathlessly a very interesting story about all her tattoos and how she and her twin got matching 'peas and carrots' tattoos on their hips before her twin was deployed overseas. Then she showed it to me. I liked the story, and she was very sweet, although I'm not sure how the 14 people behind me in line liked it...but now it appears, at least, that I'm a member of a new club. PS: According to what I've read about tattoo etiquette, copying ain't cool.

For the next day or two I'm supposed to wash it with antibacterial soap, pat it dry, apply ointment, and then lay saran wrap over it. Note: After reading this article, I've decided not to do this. Instead, I'll be following the aftercare instructions here.

And NO SWIMMING until it peels, for something like 10 days.

So now there's another way to spot me, if you're ever in the southwest at a triathlon somewhere. I've got "Athena Diaries" on my bike and an M-dot with a flowing horse on my shoulder.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Tomorrow: an M-dot and a horse (maybe)

I've been lazy this week. Most of my energy has been spent whining to Pirate about my training plan, part of which I missed because it's a report card week and part of which I missed because I. Am. Lazy.
So at swim the other night I was whining, "What the hell is this $#it? Where's my recovery?"
and Pirate says, "It's an active recovery"
I'm guessing that's something like a dry heat. Or a wet cold.

Anyway, I've spent more time whining than actually working out.

Time's up, and party's over. Time to get back to work.

Next up: SOMA 70.3 Triathlon in Arizona. I did this one last year and LOVED it. Flat, fast, and fun. It'll be fun comparing my time to last year, since, you know, I like, trained and stuff this year.

Saturday's schedule:

6:30-ish - 10 mile run with hills

9:30-ish - Shower. Coffee. Maybe breakfast.

10:3-ish - Get inked in Albuquerque. I've drawn up my own design having to do with Kentucky and the M-dot, but I'm going to discuss it with the artiste' as well because, so far, he did not like my design. We'll see.

Pictures to follow...


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Post #500

Haiku, in honor of the 5 or so hours that I spent at DFW, the wait on the runway at ABQ for a gate, and the long wait for the luggage afterwards.

Texas thunderstorm
living in airports sucks, but
at least there's wi-fi.

I realized yesterday when I signed into Blogger that this would be my 500th post. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. While working on this, I'm sitting at DFW which has, mercifully, a good Internet connection, and I'm switching back and forth between writing this and tracking my blogger peeps at IM-Moo. Go, Greyhound, Go!!
Well, so how best to commemorate this. I thought I would come up with 92 more things that people might not know about me. Lets see how this goes.

  1. I find it really annoying when people walk toward me on sidewalks or in hallways on the wrong side. Did they not go to elementary school? Were they not told to stay on the right side?
  2. I used to walk into people deliberately and then act surprised and say, "Oh! I didn't expect you to be there. On this side of the sidewalk, and all."
  3. Then I recognized that this was unhealthy, passive-agressive behavior so now I just look right at them so that there is no mistaking that I will not move, and they go around me.
  4. I really identify with Jimmy Stewart in It's a Wonderful Life.
  5. I know my job's important, but I'd rather be doing something else.
  6. I have at some point wanted to be the following when I "grew up": teacher, oceanographer, geohydrologist, structural biologist, instructional technologist, counselor, psychologist, educational researcher, and psychiatrist.
  7. I love to soak in the bathtub. For hours.
  8. And nap. I fantasize about having a big, string hammock for when I'm off in the summer.
  9. At home, I'm so messy.
  10. Sweet Baboo doesn't clean up after me, though. He makes small noises of protest and frustraton until I feel bad and then I clean up after myself.
  11. I don't feel hunger like normal people--I don't get hunger pangs or sick.
  12. My feet don't sweat unless I'm ill.
  13. I'm thinking that the non-sweaty feet no-hunger thing is an advantage in endurance events.
  14. When I was a kid, I was seriously and brutally good at "Red Rover".
  15. I have a particular dislike for men who stand reallllly close when they talk to me.
  16. I feel like they're trying to sell me something.
  17. Except for Sweet Baboo, of course, who could stand right on my feet and not bother me a bit.
  18. I have asthma. If I didn't take Advaire, I'd be using Albuterol several times a day and visiting the ER.
  19. Advaire works for me whether or not I believe in it, meditate, or keep crystals, and I will argue mightily in favor of 'western medicine' because of that simple fact alone.
  20. Even though I may listen politely and even enthusiastically about alternative healing, I am a skeptic.
  21. Which means, show me the research.
  22. I can't sleep at night unless some part of me - even a foot - is touching Sweet Baboo.
  23. I've started and quit two doctoral (Ph.D.) programs. It's hard to doctoral work with full time jobs and kids.
  24. One of my fellow counseling students, however, suggested that I was afraid of success.
  25. I suggested that she read less pop psychology and more research.
  26. So my "one thing" for Ironman Louisville was that I wanted to finish something arduous that I'd started, to sort of replace my Ph.D.
  27. People reallllly piss me off when they take up two spots, or park so that others can't get in or out of their car.
  28. Once I walked into a nail salon and said, really loudly, "Gee, I wish I had a giant SUV so I could park however the hell I wanted and not care about anyone but myself!"
    Chuckles ensued.
    Then, about ten minutes later, a woman who was leaving hissed to me, "Good luck with your SUV plans!" before getting into her double-parked SUV and speeding off.
  29. Now I just leave anonymous notes on windshields.
  30. It makes me feel better.
  31. I always make sure nobody is watching when I leave them.
  32. Last week I left a note to a man where I said that just because he thought his car was his penis didn't mean that he had to try to cram it into the tightest spot imaginable.
  33. I'm pretty sure Sweet Baboo, is going to be very distressed when he reads about that. But Pirate thought it was hilarious.
  34. In middle school, when I did the President's Physical Fitness test, I would only run when the coach was watching. I hated running and sweating.
  35. In high school, for my PE credit, I took swimming and bowling because I figured they required the least amount of work.
  36. When I was in my twenties, I was depressed, and I walked everywhere looking down at the ground.
  37. Then I decided one day to stop doing that.
  38. It was really scary, because when I started training myself to look up, I had to make eye contact with people, then I had to talk to them.
  39. I once plumbed in a washing machine all by myself.
  40. I've also cut my own wood, piped in my own wood stove, rewired a lamp, installed light fixtures and thermostats, built my own cheap ugly cabinets.
  41. I once painted an entire two-story wood clabbord house, except for the very top where there were wasps nests.
  42. I really hate my face.
  43. But I'm learning to live with it.
  44. I am a terrible liar.
  45. That's not a "bit". I can't lie well at all.
  46. If I was a doctor I would be so bad at it, because I would just burst into tears and I'd be all like, "OMG; you're gonna die!"
  47. I have a good firm handshake.
  48. I think less of people who don't have good firm handshakes.
  49. My favorite video game is Dr. Mario.
  50. I even have an NES emulator on my home computer so that I can play it.
  51. WHen I was a little girl, I used to do cartwheels and summersaults on the balance beam.
  52. When I talk to my sister in Alabama on the phone, my southern accent comes back.
  53. These days, I'm much more interested in human behavior than I am in numbers.
  54. It just so happens that mathematics teaching pays better, and needs more people.
  55. I took ballet when I was a kid.
  56. I tried to join the Military when I was 21.
  57. I got kicked out for arguing with the ballet instructor.
  58. I hate Larry the Cable Guy with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns, for reasons I will not explain.
  59. However, I adore Dane Cook.
  60. 99% of the time, my TV is on Comedy Central.
  61. I watch a lot of television, and am a huge fan of Southpark.
  62. Laughing is, like, one of my favorite things in the whole world.
  63. I chose Kentucky for my first Ironman because it was close to where my relatives live.
  64. The ones who didn't come, write, or call about the event. Those realatives.
  65. I'm probably unlikely to choose another endurance event back east between April and October again.
  66. My relatives and old friends aren't interested in triathlon or anything I've done.
  67. So I think it means my old friends aren't my friends any more. Which is sad.
  68. I mean, I listen about kids, grandchildren, cross stitch, gardening projects, choir, church, et cetera, so WTF?
  69. It's times like this, and like at Ironman Louisville, that I miss my mom.
  70. Even though she would have agreed with Mama Baboo that I'm insane, she still would have been there, taking pictures, and then she would have painted one of them.
  71. When I was little my mom used to paint pictures of me all the time, and in my back yard now, there is a statue of me when I was ten years old.
  72. One of the pictures she painted was me swinging on a rope, and she called it, "Flying Mist."
  73. Another picture my mom painted of me one was of me standing next to my beloved rope with my arm in a cast, and she called it "Flightless Mist."
  74. I wonder, what would she have called a picture of me crossing an Ironman finish line?
  75. I'm really good at keeping other people's secrets. No really. Seriously.
  76. I'm just not good at keeping my own.
  77. I have congenitally soft tooth enamel. I think congenital is the right term.
  78. I inheirited that from my father (Thanks, Dad).
  79. I have ten crowns and all my remaining teeth have been filled at least twice.
  80. That's why I'm switching back to Perpetuum, because it has anti-tooth decay stuff in it.
  81. I also have a fast metabolism. Not in an "I'm so skinny; I wish I could gain weight" sort of way, but as in "We'll have to give you some additional shots of novacane before we finish filling your teeth" sort of way. This after I make a loud noise through the dental dam while they're drilling, because, HEY, I CAN FEEL THAT!!
  82. I make most of my own earrings and necklaces.
  83. I sculpted some nudes for the state art show when I was nine.
  84. They were rejected because they were in oil clay, which isn't permanant media.
  85. My mom said they were rejected because it was Alabama, 1974, nakedness and I was nine.
  86. I smoked cigarettes for ten years.
  87. One day, on November 5th, 1996, I had the mother of all asthma attacks and thought, "this is stupid" so I quit.
  88. I'm loyal.
  89. I can't manage my money.
  90. I've never been called "shy".
  91. I have, however, been called "hoity toity."
  92. I can't bake. Everything I bake collapses, or falls apart into a pile of crumbs, and looks like crap.


Monday, September 10, 2007


My heart goes out to everyone who raced yesterday - regardless of the outcome. For those that did not finish, even more so. I know that you made the best decision you could based on your health and welfare and the people who depend on you.

Congratulations to everyone who raced yesterday, regardless of the outcome. You signed up, you showed up and toed the start line and took off at the gun/cannon/air horn/whistle/guy shouting "go!"

A shout out to the new Ironmen among us. I look forward to reading about your race an post-race experiences. I look foward to reading all your racing posts. There were so many of you that it might take me a while!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

curious things

  • Pajama pants in public. This used to be a sign of clinical depression or homelessness; now it's a sign of...what? Casual ineptitude? Trendiness? I just don't know.
  • Loose tea in a tea bag. I saw this at the airport. I hate to nitpick, but if it's in a tea bag, it's not loose tea any more. It's a tea bag. But this stuff says, "Loose tea experience - in a convenient tea bag!" All for $6.99.

A haiku, in honor of my mini-break weekend:

  • Hot and sweaty place
  • Sucks the life right outta me
  • Damn, I hate Dallas.

Sweet Baboo is at a clinic to become a USAT racing official here in Dallas, and then will practice at the PrairieMan tomorrow. My daughter lives here, but so far contact has been a comedy of errors as she has somehow made her only phone non-operational, and left me one message referring constantly to "this number" as in "Just call me back at this number" without ever telling me what, "this number" was. She called while my cell phone was off, too, so there's no "this number" on my caller ID.

I went for a run this morning with Sweet Baboo out at Joe Pool lake, host to tomorrow's Prairie Man Half Iron Tri, which AndraSue is running in. There signs all over the park and around the lake about the event. The lady at the toll booth asked for $10 to get into the park. When we asked if people would be allowed to go in and drive the course, she said, "Prairie man? What's that? I don't know what that is."

I blurted out, "What? You've got signs all over the park!" and she repeated drily and without humor that she didn't know what that was and again asked for $10. VERY unlike Texas, where most people are at least sweet and apologetic when they take your money. Plus, I mean, if you went to work and there were signs all over the place advertising a major event, wouldn't you at some point say to a coworker, hey, what or who is "the Prairie Man?"

When I did my run, I remembered why I don't live in Dallas any more. Running? Fuggetaboutit. It never would have happened. My eight-mile run was awful. I was diappointed because I LOVE running at sea level; I feel all fast and stuff. But it was hot, and it was humid, and my heartrate would NOT COME DOWN. Ugh. So I was soaked, tired, and panting. Sweet Baboo said that means I'm still recovering fro IMLoo.

My hat is off to Greyhound and a host of other people who do their training in really humid places. Yikes. I've said before that I hate the feeling of sweat rolling down any part of me; I would do insane here. I'd have to have cotton balls tucked all over my body and sweat bands around the rest just to get away from it.

Before you get all excited and think, "mmm, sexy sweaty triathlete!" let me assure you that is not what I'm all about. Your imagination thinks this:

But in reality, it was more like this:

Later on we're going to have dinner with AndraSue, who is doing the Prairie Man tomorrow as her first half, and her baboo (notice the lower case; only my Sweet Baboo gets capitalized on my blog)


Thursday, September 06, 2007

What teachers find in their inboxes

For the third time this year I've found an invitation to a "party" from another teacher who is trying to start her own home business. I'm going to go ahead and say "her" because I've never gotten one of these from a male teacher.

I don't know what to make of the bearer of these invitations - either they are desperate to get out of the classroom, or desperate to increase their income, or both, more sympathetic I could not be; the problem is that they are trying to sell things to people who, like themselves, have a rather fixed income. One staff member is involved in three such home businesses. Another one is involved in her second in as many years, the first one being in erotic products (I have to admit, that was a fun party)

And it's not that the stuff isn't nice! Most of the time, it is. It's just that most of the time, I can get it on sale and save a lot of money. I LIKE my friends. Heck, some of them I love But not enough to support them by spending money on items I probably don't need or could get much less expensively elsewhere.

In any case it gets old. Once the year is rolling, I'll get one of these in my inbox once a week. So I'm thinking of creating an all-purpose invitation for folks so that they can just check off the boxes instead of doing up the invite in Word. It would look something like this:

P A R T Y ! !
I'm having a party at my house! You're invited; feel free to bring your sense of adventure, as well as
() a friend
() your checkbook
() a hot dish
() cash
() a credit card
() a couple hours to kill

At my party, we'll chat, relax, and meet new people. You'll also have the chance to preview some exciting new--!
() overpriced makeup
() overpriced candles
() overpriced sex toys, lotions, and creams
() overpriced cooking utensils
() overpriced spices and condiments
() multi-level marketing schemes
() ideas about God, death, the afterlife, and paradise on earth

My party will start
() promptly at 4:00
() around 4-ish
() when I realize that, now I know who my REAL friends are
() whenever people gullible enough show up do so
() whenever I realize that, once again, I've been sucked into sinking a buttload of money into overpriced product inventory and I start hitting the wine.

...and last until

() the last person escapes
() the last person leaves
() I finally realize nobody is coming
() I eat all the treats and canapes I baked and pass out in a sugar and/or fried-food induced coma
() I bitterly admit to myself that nobody has my sense of adventure and entrepeneurship


() Hugs and kisses
() See you there!
() Love
() Desperately
() Hopefully
() Optimistically
() Regards


() a work collegue you barely know
() a work collegue your sort of know
() a work collegue you've never met
() a work collegue you like quite a bit who has decided to take advantage of your friendship


In other news: Tomorrow is Sweet Baboo's birthday. Send him some comment love.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Friends don't let friends tri and drive.

Just when I was hoping to have achieved some sort of Guru status I am sharply reminded that I am, after all, a ditz, albeit an Iron ditz. Allow me to share an anecdote from my recent (last week) past.
I will call this short story, "Why you should not drive within 48 hours of doing an Ironman." and those close to me have already heard it, because Mini-baboo was a witness and I wanted to do the telling before he did so that, hopefully, I would not come across looking as stupid as I feel.

SO I was getting ready to leave work Tuesday afternoon, two days after Ironman Loo, and suddenly asked myself, where are my keys? Not in my purse...hmmm...not on my desk. Could I have left them on the cart? OMG, did a student take them?


I checked lost and found...nothing there.

I asked Judy, the school secretary, because she knows everything, Judy, where are my keys?
Judy did not know.

Finally I decided to see if I left them in my car. On the way to the car, Mini-Baboo was walking with me. Well, skulking behind, actually. Teenagers rarely just "walk" because it's not cool enough and teenage boys certainly don't walk with their mothers because it might ruin their rep so they skulk behind them trying to make sure nobody thinks they are walking with their mothers while simultaneously staying close enough in case they need food, money, or a ride home.

So as I said, I was walking to see if my keys were my car, feeling confident that if they were it would be no big deal since I usually leave my car windows down a few inches.

and you know what? They were! But wait. It gets better.

...wait for it...wait for it...

the car was RUNNING.

Yes, that's right. Even better, I was not the first to discover this. As I crossed the lot my path converged with another teacher as we were crossing the parking lot and I was sharing with her my plight, and as we got closer to the car, she suddenly interrupted my story--
"Hey, did you know your car was running?"

Um. Uh.


"Has your car been running all day?"

Mmm-hmm. Yep. Apparently, after arriving to work a little late last Tuesday morning I got out and walked away about 7:15 am, leaving it running, with keys in, doors unlocked, in a high school teacher's parking lot. At 3:15, and it was still running. (Since it is a Honda, it still had gas in it.)

and, yes, I am aware of how lucky I was, thank you very much. As absent minded as I am most of the time, I (and several of those who know me well) are pretty convinced that I may be one of the luckiest people alive.)

I'm equally aware that I'm not only lucky but ditzy. I need no reminding of this.

The hardest part was acting cool when my work collegue discovered it. And yes, she remembered; she asked me about it yesterday, fully a week later. Which reminded me of it and I thought you might find it entertaining.

Of course, it would be much easier to blame this on recovery fogginess if it weren't for the fact that I drove off two weeks ago while the gas nozzle was still stuck in my gas tank. I'll blame that one on heavy training. And just in case anyone is worried that this is a symptom of some sort of advancing neurological problem, ten years ago I set my house on fire by accident because I was heating oil to fry food and I forgot. It burst into flames, catching the cabinet above it on fire. Oh, and remember earlier this year, I lost a single shoe? That I was wearing? While I was sitting at my desk? yeah. Such is my life.

But, so anyway, I'm a trivia nut, so here's a new trivia fact: did you know that gas stations have special connections for just such an occasion? They snap off at a juncture at the pump in such a way that they can just be easily snapped back on, and the gas is automatically stopped.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Moving on.

It is a truth universal that at some point in a young man's development, he will hate his father.

His father will hate him back.

And they will both want Mom/wife to do something about it.

So I did. I took a warm bath. And did sudoku.

Ahhh, but it was lovely....epsom salts, lavendar oil, and the window next to the tub open and a nice breeze flowing over me.

I'm not saying that teenage Mini-me isn't without his faults. Oh, my. If you only knew. I'll spare you the details, being as some of you are planning your families, some of you have children on the way, and others have already young children in the house so it's too late for you; who am I to ruin what little time you have left to enjoy them?

It's just that Mini-Baboo is a bit, shall we say, difficult these days, refusing to do what is expected of him.

He claims he "forgot" that he wasn't supposed to do that, or that he was supposed to do this...etc.

And, because Sweet Baboo was never, ever this irascible as a teenager he simply doesn't understand why we just can't sell him to the circus right now.

So, anyway.
While I was taking my warm bath I was thinking about all the things I'd like to do in the future.

The thing is, every time I do something difficult, especially something that I wasn't sure I could actually do, I go through the following stages:

Stage 1: During the event itself, I curse it and everyone whose involved with it and anyone who ever encouraged me to do it. I curse the natural elements that are making my progress difficult. I curse my mother for bequeathing to me her short and stubby legs. etc., etc.

Stage 2: Immediately after the event, I refuse to think about it.

Stage 3: A few days later, the painful details of the event start to wash hazy in my brain. I have a horrible memory, which is why I'm such a good friend to have. Most of the time, I won't remember what it was you did to piss me off, or I'll forget how angry it made me and think it couldn't have been THAT bad. Like right now, I'm thinking my sister and I must have been in a fight, and that's why I haven't heard from her in nearly a month, nor did she congratulate me on my Ironman finish, nor have I gotten any responses to my five emails.

I also forget about how long and arduous the training was. I recall vaguely thinking to myself at some point during July, Oh, my GAWD this is hard. How do non-teachers fit all this in?

Stage 4:
It settles in, and I begin to have dangerous thoughts, such as, "I wonder what else I could do?"

So here I am at stage four. I've been mousing around the Internet and racking up a fantasy list of races I'd like to do someday.

I'm already signed up for Ironman Coeur D'Arlen since, while a judicous response to Sweet Baboo's pronouncement that he was going to do it would have been something like, "Good for you! What is the course like? How about the climate that time of year? Any wind on the course?"

yes, that would have been judicious of me, wouldn't it?

Instead, I said, "Cool! Put me down too."

So like I said, fantasy things. Actually, more than fantasy, a sort-of to-do list of things I'd like to accomplish in the world of endurance stuff.

First, I'd like to do a marathon in every state. I'm wise enough to realize that in order to do this I'm going to have to do at least three or so a year. (Except Alabama. Until my sister starts returning my emails, Alabama is blacklisted from my marathon goals for, like, EVAR) The run at the end of an Ironman counts, too.
I must be pretty lucky because at the end of each of the two marathons I've done, and most of my long runs these days, I'm usually not sore, nor have I had problems with blisters or muscle spasms.

Second, I'd like to do one or two more Ironman races, carefully avoiding any that have the word "challenging" and "rolling" in their course descriptions from now on, but mostly I think I'd like to do a few 70.3's in nice locals.

So here's my fantasy list of to-do endurance races, for now.

I'll probably add to this list as time goes by, but that's what's on my mind for now.

As for the rest of 2007, I'm "off" until the end of October, when I do the SOMA half -iron in tempe. Duane will be there, doing the quarterman, and I think Nytro and Benny will be there, and Pirate is doing the half, too, although I'm fairly certain that she'll have time to finish, shower, and freshen up before meandering over to the finish line to wave me in.

Oh, and I have an appointment on September 15th for the IM tattoo.


Saturday, September 01, 2007

LooAville pics. And some thoughts about DFL

I've read/heard comments here and there about the fact that I took longer than 17 hours to finish Ironman Louisville.

I've heard/read about how lucky I was that the cutoff was extended because of the change in the swim start. I've been asked about whether or not it "counts" as an official finish.

I'm not angry about it, or hurt. I've been thinking about it. I wanted to collect my thoughts into a coherent assemblage of utterances to explain what it means that I "almost didn't finish."

About what it means to be, most of the time, last or nearly last, and why it is


I like this T-shirt, not just for me. It sums up part of how I feel

...about my first Olympic distance, in which I was also DFL.

...about my first half iron, in which, I believe, I was nearly DFL.

I did this triathlon with a bunch of friends and, of course, Sweet Baboo. I was also lucky enough to have some in-house cheerleaders and of course, a lot of support and cheering going on in Blogland, which still humbles and amazes me.

(That's Sweet Baboo, Me, and my fabulous mother-in-law and her husband Gordon in the top photo, right, the day before the race, in Louisville. In second photo, is Me and Sweet Baboo, and Mary Sunshine, and Dying Water Buffalo)

Some of my Albuquerque friends are fast. CRAZY. Fast. There is a picture of all of us on a previous post below, entitled, "Run, part 2"

Did you know? Ironman started in 1978 as a wager between friends about which one was the most fit: a swimmer, a cyclist, and a runner. In 1982, because the Kona race had attracted so many participants, the first cutoff time was introduced, 18 1/2 hours. does not give a reason for this time having been chosen, such as lactic thresholds or research or such.

The following year, it was changed to 17 hours. No reason. It is what it is.They can't let it go on forever, right? I mean, the volunteers have to go home some time.

There are some smaller iron-distance races in the US that don't have this type of cutoff system.

But there it is.

I've discovered that each person who does a triathlon, whether it's a sprint or a long course, has a different demon facing them when they step or jump or run into the water.

For some, it's the voices in their head that say they aren't good enough,
fast enough,
strong enough...
they want to silence those voices.

For others, it's more tangible: they need a goal for exercising.

Some beat back the ghosts: failures, "errors of judgement", bad decisions, guilty pleas - whatever...
"Each step or mile is like a giant eraser" that cancels out those mistakes. John "The Penguin" Bingham said that.

Some just like doing something that most people find very hard to do.

every single amateur or pro, whether they are fast or slow, will head into the same river, lake, ocean, inland sea or pool, and face their demons.

and every one of them is nervous.

They may not look it, but each hopes they trained hard enough and that they'll meet whatever goals they have...when they face the river, lake, ocean, inland sea, or pool...and most feel that they are unique in that respect.

As for me, I'll tell you a secret: according to my training times, I should not have been able to finish any long course triathlon I've ever attempted.

And yet, well... here I am. Proof that stubbornness trumps speed in many cases.

And so it was, at Louisville, we all went into the same river, toward the same same sunrise, and swam the same distance.

Then we pedaled the same bike distance, on the same road, cursing the same hills. Laughed at the same weird guy dressed like a devil. Smiled at the same folks in LaGrange going crazy with cowbells and yelling. Couldn't wait to get off the bike.

Then we all ran the same 26.2 miles. Throughout the race, we all followed the same rules, and ran, or walked, and sweated (and sometimes vomited) our guts out... and then crossed the same finish line.

Yes, some of us did it faster. But we all did the same distance

and the heavier, slower ones? Probably expended more energy.

So, who is the better athlete? The ones for whom covering the distance is easy, or the ones for whom it is hard?

What does it mean to be a triathlete?

Because if all it means is fast, then I've greatly misunderstood the whole thing.

I thought it was about challenging myself, seeing how I could make my body go, go, go! when it really wanted to stop, stop, stop! I thought it was about the feeling of accomplishment, and the fun.

So, as I said, my friends are all faster than me....
  • Ricky V, finished in 12:53.
  • Miquel, "Sharkbait" finished just a hair over 13 hours.
  • Mark, "Bones" finished about 13 minutes later.
  • Mike, "Wiz" finished in a little over 14 hours.
  • Mary Sunshine finished some time before Baboo.
  • Dying Water Buffalo finished in 16:17.

  • Sweet Baboo finished in 15:35. And then he waited...and waited...and waited.


My time was 17:19.

Pirate had the best thing to say about this:

"You know what they call the last person to cross the finish the line in an Ironman triathlon?"

"They call that person an Ironman."

(BTW, I HATE this picture. I thought my arms were higher up in the air than that. and I should have kept my hat on.
Is that why some of you guys shave your head? So you look good for the photos? It is, isn't it? )

So if you've ever DFL'd, repeat this to yourself:

YOU COVERED, OR WILL COVER, THE SAME DISTANCE AS THE FASTER ATHLETES. That doesn't make you lesser. It may even make you greater.

Besides, who's to say I might not have moved a little faster if the cutoff had been midnight? I've finished every single race I've ever started that had a cutoff, even when I wasn't sure that I would start or not.

So, if you are still wondering if you "should" try to do that race or not, the answer is, well, you should.

Refuse to give up. Refuse to listen to the person or persons who fill your head with worry, doubt, or fear, no matter how much you love them and respect them, unless they have an MD. This is your race, not theirs.

This advice is especially important if the fear-monger in your head is YOU.

It won't be that I won or lost a few races that stays with me. It will be that I tried even though I was utterly terrified. (Oh, yes I was! I avoided buying a very pretty Louisville Ironman Bike jersey the day before the race because I still wasn't sure if I'd finish it or not.)

I like a little fun competition now and then, don't get me wrong. But it has to be fun, not all-consuming. As amateur athletes, what else are we doing this for, if not fun?

I mean, why are you doing this, anyway? Is it to be the fastest? I've got news for you. There is always someone faster. And if there isn't now, you'll still be looking over your shoulder in case there is. Or, are you doing this to finish? Then it doesn't matter where your place is. Statistically speaking, those that are considered "experts" in any field in which expertise can be claimed are within the top 2%. Sometimes less. The other 98% will finish after them.

So, let it go, man. Sign up for that race.

Oh, y
ou, yes you, know the one I'm talking about.

Hell, you've been staring at the race website on and off for weeks.

Quit worrying about whether you'll do it "well" and just do it. If you don't meet your goal, well, you'll learn something, and you'll meet it another time.



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