Wednesday, April 30, 2008


  • This weekend, I'm doing a 25-mile trail run. I've been taking it easy with the running during April to let my IT Band heal, and I believe it's nearly healed. We'll see on Saturday.
  • We are going to test to see if 17-year-old Mini-Baboo can be alone for 48 hours. I'm trying not to visualize any of the scenes from, "Risky business." Mini Baboo requested Internet, basic cable, a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, lots of macaroni and cheese, and lots of sugar-free cool-aid. Then he said, "Okay, I'm set.'
  • After nearly 9 years of teaching, I'm not going back. I've been cautioned to say that I "need a break" rather than "I'm burned out." But we know the truth, don't we?
    I've got at least one interview coming up for school counselo, and a bona-fide offer from the community counseling center I've written about before.
  • I've lost 8 or 9 pounds so far with WeightWatchers. Eleanor (Which, by the way, is not her real name) brought me lots of chocolate to make amends for the file debacle, which I tossed into my filing cabinet in a panic before the message that hey, there's chocolate, and lots of it could reach my brain.
    Meanwhile, that's 8 or 9 pounds of my a$$ that I won't be hauling up and down the hills of Colorado this weekend.
  • Still very tired of the gangstas, but luckily, it's spring and most of them are blowing out at an astonishing rate--getting expelled from school and what have you. Sort of a mini-Darwinism at work.
  • I'm rediculously excited about the weekend trip to Colorado. A whole weekend around grownups is quite the treat for me! I'm going to do all the things I can't do around students: let's see, I'll cuss like a sailor and, well, that's it. cuss like a sailor. I'm less excited about the current weather near the trail run.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two weeks, four days, and counting.

SO I have a partner teacher. She's very sweet. She's supposed to be in charge of the 6-7 special ed kids I have in my first two classes. However, she's not a math teacher. This means that I have to make extra copies of everything, including keys to worksheets and tests, because she can't do them. I have to grade all the tests because she can't grade the work, only the answers.

Did I tell you she's very sweet?

She's not happy about the arrangement. She is normally a social studies teacher, and was very alarmed when they put her in Algebra. She can't help me teach, because she doesn't know Algebra. She's supposed to be a special education teacher, but she can't help the special ed kids. She wants to do more, but she can't. She feels bad about this. She's retiring next month. Meanwhile, she wants to be useful.

So finally, I asked her to grade some quizzes for me. Multiple-choice ones. Sounds easy, right? I mean, you look, the key says C, so if their answer isn't C, you mark it wrong. Except that I didn't give her the key and she didn't want to bother me, and she doesn't know enough about Algebra to make one. So she decided to try to "help" me more by doing some other stuff, like consolidating my files. Without asking me.

I told you how sweet she is, right?

She showed me the result: very large files labled with each period that had all of their work in it. All of it. She'd taken the papers that were graded and not recorded, turned in but not graded, and recorded but not yet passed back--and put them all in one big file. Mixed them all together. Aieee.

"Um, Eleanor? Um, did you notice that some of the files said, "IN" and some said, "OUT"?

"You mean I mixed all that up? Oh, must be furious with me!"

Sigh. I decided that I was going to have to fix this myself. What else could I do? I can't let her have access to my electronic gradebook, to see which ones are recorded and which ones aren't. Besides, there's only so many deep, cleansing breaths that a person can take before they go postal and scream out, "Get the eff away from my files!"

Meanwhile, I'm supposed to be writing 5-6 pages of "reflection" on how my year went for my annual evaluation because apparently, now, it's now my job to tell my supervisors how I did. (I have decided that, since it's up to me, I did awesome.) I was going to spend the morning writing my reflection, which is due Thursday morning, but instead, I sorted through the very large snafu.

I'm so glad not to have to do this crap again next year. I'll still have crap, but it will be different crap, and new crap is sometimes interesting. For a while.

Oh, and have I told you how tired I am of gangsters and their posturing and their stupid baggy damned pants and their stupid grafitti and their stupid blue and white everything? Well, I am.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

The goal is to be completely exhausted.

Apparently, that's the goal of ironman training: exhausted, delirious, and then to let the taper do its magic. Sweet Baboo took me on a "near century" ride yesterday, and then I ran a long, slow, labored nearly 10 miles today with about 1500 feet of climbing and some sand today.
I took along the ipod so I wouldn't have to listen to myself going, "HUHuhHUHuhHUHuhHUH..."
So, I get it now: You do a long bike on Saturdays, and then run on Sundays to get used to running when you feel like $hit. There's a method to this madness.

Anyway, for yesterday's ride I was comfortable, despite the evil, spring New Mexico winds. I had , and had no lady parts pain. YAY!

This morning, I volunteered at the AtomicMan Duathlon, one of my favorites. My job was to yell out "Stay on your bike please, until you cross the mat." and then yell the number to a guy with a keypad. It went pretty smoothly except for one Ninny who had trouble understanding the phrase, "stay on your bike please, until you go over the mat."

He started to get off, and then I intoned, "stay on your bike, please, until you go over the mat. " Then a bit louder. "Stay--stay on your bike.
ON your bike.
Don't get off, stay on your bike!"
at which point he yelled back, "well, christ, MAKE UP YOUR MIND!"

But anyway. Mini-baboo got 2nd in his age group, and Sweet Baboo was head ref: black-and-white stripes and all, prompting me to whisper to him that, yes, I am attracted to men of power: just wait until we get home.

Atomicman is one of the neatest races around. It welcomes the hardy and newcomer alike, with no real cutoff. It's in the mountains near Las Alamos, and has two courses: the little boy (4k-15k-4k) and fat man (10k-25k-8k) but don't let the short distances fool you: there are some hills that will make you almost throw up, and it's at a higher altitude. Mini-baboo is pooped. At the end, though, there's good food and nice people. I've done it twice, and next year I want to do it again.

Oh, and more good news: Not a whisper or murmer from Msr. ITBand this week.

My weekly distances: 159 miles (Bike), 16 miles (Run), 3500 meters (swim)

Yeah, they're low. But believe it or not, they're higher than this time before I did Ironman LooAvul, and also, my run miles are low because I've been trying to heal Msr. ITBand. He seems to be healed now, so my run miles will take a jump this week.

For now, well, I'm just too tired to do anything but lay in bed and feel good about myself.

Friday, April 25, 2008

It's all good.

I don't want you to think that all I do is complain. Top Ten Things that made this a good week:

10. I have a renewed feeling of hope from two comfortable bike rides in a row.

9. I still have the residual feeling of goodness that comes with finishing something that I've been putting off finishing.

8. I managed to dodge 8 hours of "SmartBoard" training by having a couple savvy students spend 20 minutes teaching me how to use it.

7. I have the hopeful optimism that, come August, I will not be facing a classroom full of surly teenagers. In case you're wondering, I've taught highly capable and gifted students, and they are a joy to behold, but they unfortunately have surly parents.

6. During my special class of the day today, 6 students were pulled out because they hadn't turned in their registration cards, another 4-5 to meet with counselors they weren't earning enough credit to go to the "big" high school next year, and another 5-6 students to go serve Friday school for various infractions. Some of groups overlapped. The school police officer was still pulling students out to question about the Fire Alarm incident. I was left with 5 quiet, friendly, well-behaved students at the end of the day, and when they finished their work, I let them draw pictures on the SmartBoard.

5. I was informed that yet another obnoxious student will be suspended and thus, yet another class will be taught free of interruptions.

4. I had a nice evening swim workout with Sweet Baboo, who I felt like I rarely got to see this week.

3. I found another, unexpected use for my counseling skills,: the passive, neutral face that I put on when my gang students come to class in rediculous clothes. It wasn't enough the pants so sagging that they have to hold them up with one hand to walk; today, one of them was wearing what appeared to be part of a pair of pantyhose on his head.

2. Tonight, I finished out my week with a nice, leisurely 1500 meter swim and a sweaty spin class. I practiced the modified swim stroke Sweet Baboo taught me and I feel like I use less effort to keep the same pace. I'm going to get faster. I can feel it.

And the number 1 thing:

WeightWatchers informs me that with 1 day left in my week, I have 29 binge points left to blow.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's a 2-fer.

I did go for that run and felt way wonderful afterwards. And mini-Baboo is better now.

You know, I can quickly identify problem kids because when they're absent, the class runs smoothly. Unfortunately - and other teachers can back me on this - those usually are the kids with perfect attendance. They fly under the radar, so that it's hard to pinpoint exactly how they're disrupting class. It's just that when they're gone, things are better. You may know adults like that. Chances are, they have a cluster B personality disorder. But we can't diagnose those until people are at least 18.
But I digress.

It happens that the culprit in Monday's fire alarm stunt was apprehended yesterday, and turned out to be the most obnoxious student in my last class of the day. I'm pretty sure that this is the kid that threw my keys in the trash. I had this kid last year, too, when I taught 8th-grade, and s/he put a ball point pen in my microwave, turned it on, and walked away.

This particular class, by the way, is the class that security guard Tom said to me, "has the worst kids in the school in it." So, "most obnoxious" in this case is highly relative.

So this student is in a buttload of trouble because it turns out that's a FELONY. Most people might not know that because MOST people don't think to do this kind of crap...but now this student is suspended for nine days, and full charges are being pressed. I feel bad for the Mom because she's actually a decent person who has no idea why her kid acts like this. I feel for her.

But it gets even better than that. The person who turned this student in is the second most obnoxious student I've got. And THIS student is, apparently, worried about getting jumped for ratting out the first student, and so has decided not to come back to school.

Yes, school violence is sad. But a peaceful classroom is joyful and liberating with two problem children out of the equation. Today, I actually taught that class. I think they learned it, too. Cool.

Oh, and special note to Cody the Clydesdale: I'm not really a hard liquor drinker, but thanks for the tip. Perhaps it's time to start working on a sugar-free sour/margarita mix. Lets see: Splenda, limes, lemon juice...


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My day of drama. Mundane, boring drama.

7: am I started working on grading and my planning for the day. I found my connection to the district server was not working, so I had no access to student grades or attendance online. I answered emails to administration about "Day of Silence" on Friday, because some parents were angry about it. (I answer these questions this every year, in response to the letter writing and calling campaigns that "family" organizations embark on every year. Because, you know, I have this evil agenda. I note that they are not teaching, or volunteering. Just bitching. But I digress.)

7:20 I got a phone call BEGGING me to an IEP meeting because a participant didn't show up and and I made the mistake of answering the phone and I'm a complete pushover, so... then at 8:56 I left the meeting and went downstairs to get ready to teach my first class.

9:15 a substitute showed up and announced she was my sub "for your IEP meeting at 9:30," For 25 minutes I attempted to show how to graph an equation by finding the intercepts. General education teachers are required by law to be at every IEP meeting, whether or not the child has a general education, or even if the teacher even knows the child. THANK YOU, No Child Left Behind - at 9:40 I left my class and went to my 9:30 meeting.

10:15 I came back to class, and was told that mini-Baboo had called because he was sick. I said I'd call back during my lunch. Then I started teaching my third block how to graph an equation using the intercepts.

11:15 - I ate lunch, and forgot to call Mini-Baboo, because I am a bad, bad, mommy. I did call the people who want to interview me for a counselor position. They can see me at 12:15 May 1st, the day we are supposed to leave for the Collegiate Peaks trail run.

11:30 I dashed off another quick email begging the technologist to fix my computer.

12:15 - Mini-Baboo called and begged me to take him home, with a headache, fever etc. I found a sub, sprinted to my car, drove to the high school, then called BACK to work to have the sub to take my keys off the whiteboard where they would certainly be taken by students, and took Mini-Baboo home.
Where I fed him stuff to help him feel better and put him to bed. Mini-Baboo informed me that his award ceremonly for JROTC was the evening on May 1st, the day I was supposed to leave for the Collegiate Peaks Trail run. My blood pressure skyrocketed as I sped back to work completely stressed about where I was going to be on May 1st.

12:46 my 4th block class protested their new seating arrangement. I informed them that with, or without a security guard present, this is where they would sit. Then I attempted to teach them how to graph an equation by using the intercepts.

1:15 Class was interrupted as a student was escorted out by a security guard, because she pulled the fire alarm yesterday. Yeeeeesss, that's right. There was a fire alarm yesterday and the whole school watched as firemen entered my classroom to search for a non-existent fire.
(I secretly worried that my lack of access to the district server was a sign that I was being fired for lack of classroom management, because that's the way I roll: All paranoid and stuff.)

2:00 I confided to the ASL interpreter that I wasn't sure how I was supposed to do ALL THIS CRAP. She sympathetically offered to make photocopes for me, which is so not her job. (I accepted.)

2:15 Outlook reminded me that I had a 2:30 meeting. In room 226. AND in room 529. $hit.

3:15 my first meeting was over. I called the counselor interview people to get a room number for the interview and was informed that the interiew was on May 9th, not May 1st.

3:15 I went to my other appointment, where I tutored a friend's son in using the quadratic equation, the meaning of the descriminant, etc.

4:00 I took my friend's son to the public library, and went home. I looked at the calendar and realized that we're leaving on May 2nd, not May 1st. My blood pressure finally came down.

A small margarita is 5 weightwatchers' points. Not worth it.

At 7, I'll go for a run. Or maybe 8.

17 more days until final exams. tick...tick...tick...tick...


Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm Done!

I started the program for professional counseling in 2004. I finished the coursework in 1 year, and spent a year doing a part-time internship. At the end of that year, I took my written comprehensive test.
Then I just stalled for 2 years.

First it was because I was disgusted with the fact that in my district, I have now applied for ten counseling positions and have landed 1 interview. (5 of those positions, as I think I've mentioned before, were at the school where I teach, and eight of those positions haven't garnered an acknowledgement that I even applied.

Then I was kind of waylaid by my father's suicide, and also training for Ironman Louisville.

Then it was just kind of an apathetic laziness.

Finally I said to myself, Jeez, if I can drag my butt across the finish line at Louisville, then I can write a paper.

Thanks for all the encouragement!


Thursday, April 17, 2008

A different finish line.

it's tomorrow, at 11 am, mountain time.

My oral defense, finally.

This picture, BTW, was inspired by Mini-baboo and will be in my slide presentation.
Might as well have fun, right?


Macaroni and cheese is NINE POINTS?


I'm alloted 22 points per day, and 1 cup of macaroni and cheese is 41% of that?

Just kill me now.

In other [good] news, I seem to have lost a couple pounds already. The last time I was on weight watchers I lost about 3 to 5 pounds a week for 2 months. Then I stopped doing weight watchers and never lost another pound. That was in early 2005.

I feel good, not weak or hungry. But oh, my mac and cheese! how I'll miss you! Perhaps this is how I"ll spend some of my "activity points".

Meanwhile, Sweet Baboo is getting all hunky and stuff. The other day I said, "nice package" to him. He was all embarassed; it was cute. But when he's talking to me at home and getting dressed at the same time, I'm finding it difficult to focus on what he's saying.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Tag-ged, I is.

I was tagged by Pirate. Here are the rules:
1) Write your own six word memoir.
2) Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like.
3) Link to the person that tagged you in your post, and to the original post if possible so we can track it as it travels across the blogosphere.
4) Tag at least five more blogs with links.
5) Don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play.
6) Have fun.

So, what to write about in writing about myself. Should I write about my love life?
Kissed some toads, found my prince.

Or, should I write about my professional life:
I clerked, then studied, then taught.

Maybe the whole motherhood thing:
I raised three kids. Oy, vey.

Actually, my 6-word meme won't be as fun as Pirate's were. I'm all introspective and serious and stuff lately as Ironman Coeur D'Alene approaches, like a roaring train in the distance. The whole triathlon/ultra running distance endurance craziness. Some people who know me know that I've had problems in the past with anxiety and that I'm riddled with insecurity. Little thoughts pop into my head from time to time, "You really aren't that special. You just got lucky" anytime I manage to achieve something, anything, that might be considered extraordinary.
If they knew, they'd be unimpressed.

I'm also a bit agoraphobic. I used to be a lot more. Like, I would avoid errands that were very close to my house. I don't think I realized what it was, I just knew that I didn't really feel like going to the cleaners two blocks away, or running an errand for Sweet Baboo that was a mile from home and would have taken all of 30 minutes after work. I was too tired, or just didn't feel like it.
I didn't go the gym. I would sit in bed, all day, on my day off, not even leaving my bedroom.
I don't feel like being outside.

Endurance sports have caused me to face those demons, my "buttons" head on. We talk about people or situations that push our buttons? Endurance sports stomp on on my buttons full force with both feet and I learn, as I deal with it, that it's not as scary as I thought to face them head-on. When I'm running in the woods or biking 100 miles I have to be outside my comfort zones for a long period of time an push, push, push onward even though I'm not all that convinced that I will succeed.

So here's my 6-word memoir, with respect to how I've tried to live my life so far:

Buttons were pushed; I pushed back.


Anyone reading this: consider yourself tagged!


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Saddle Review: The Specialized Dolce.

So today I went for about 65 mile ride with Tiger Lily who, thankfully, was willing to ride with me despite my big hissy fit last weekend. I had the bike refitted with the new/old saddle, and here are the results of my long ride with the Specialized Dolce. I was wearing Shebeast Sprint shorts and lots of Sportslick.

Now, this is not the gel model. When I sat on it, at first I thought, "oh, gosh, this is hard - there's no way it's going to be comfortable." But you know what? I was actually pretty comfy. My butt didn't have the bruised feeling, and the cutout for the tailbone I think made for even more comfort.
One problem, however, is that on this saddle, my shorts bunched up causing some chaffing just at the bend of my legs, just under my butt cheek. I started noticing this after mile 40, and you're welcome for that visual.
But the aero position. Well, that's what it's all about, right? I'm happy to announce that I was able to maintain it for a much longer period of time, and no more pain in the front! In the drops, no problem. That, I believe, is due to the cutout in the saddle. No pain, no pressure. YAY!
Now, I didn't have a chance to raise the handlebars up like I'd planned, because it requires an extension and new cabling, and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of cables stretching and needing to be adjusted, so I decided to wait and see what effects the saddle had.
My wrists hurt like hell, but before I mess with cabling, I'm going to try some wrist-strengthening exercises to see if that helps. Also, next week, I'm going to wear tighter, longer shorts that hopefully, won't bunch up, and see if that helps with the chaffing issue. Also more sportslick in the bends of my leg/butt. I wonder if its possible to develop calluses there.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Okay, let's see if this works.

So way back in August after Ironman Louisville, Sweet Baboo shared with me that he would really, really like to lose about 20 pounds before doing the Silverman. I did some online research (aka, I Googled the hell out of everything and used words like, "weight loss" and "review" and "opinions" and such) and finally signed him up for WeightWatchers Online, for men.

I chose WeightWatchers because we've used it before, with great success. You get so many points per day. You begin to be judicious in your choices, e.g., "I have 7 points left, do I want to blow it on this tiny piece of cake or maybe save it for something else?"
Meanwhile, at any given time your daily points are calculated based on the goal of losing 10% of your current weight. Once you reach each 10% goal, your points are recalculated and you are allowed a bit fewer if you want to continue to lose weight.

Anyway, I chose the online thing for two reasons; first, it takes into account the mind-blowing idea that, apparently men eat differently from women. (Duh. Just last month I was startled to find out that Sweet Baboo loves, wants to marry hamburger helper. Aroo? yeah. So does Mini baboo. We make it with Morning Star Meal Starters. Sweet Baboo and Mini Baboo clean the pot out and seem very satisfied. I usually have something else, too much starch for me. )
But anyway.

Second, Sweet Baboo is in charge of his own destiny, as it were, and doesn't have to depend on me to tell her what he's eaten and how many points it is, etc. He just enters in his information. And, clearly, it's working.
So, today, I decided to join WeightWatchers Online. It's how I lost the first 30 pounds, way back in 2005. Then I went off it and never lost another pound.
For now, my daily points are 22, but I can "bank" extra points by exercising, (today's 190-minute jog earned me a bunch but I spent some of that on gels - 2 points each - and a power bar - 2 points) .
PLUS, I get 35 "flex' points at the end of each week that I can use or a little each day or blow all at once or not use at all.
Thus, I have a built-in binge.
I love the thrill of being allowed to binge.
I would like to have a bit less to haul up and down the hills of Idaho in June. The current target is 2 pounds a week. With careful choices and a lot of activity, it should be doable even while training.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Long Week = Bad Eating

That's my equation, anyway. Guess what? I'm actually finally getting to take the certification course in "Nonviolent Crisis Prevention and Intervention" at work that I've been trying to take for three years.

It helps that one of my students assaulted another teacher last week, broke two of his fingers and tried to punch him. Thanks, Angel!

BTW, Angel is not really the student's name. I use the generic Angel when I discuss naughty students because I have never, in nearly 9 years of teaching, had a student named Angel who was, indeed, an Angel. Self-fulfilling prophesy my ass.
Every Angel I've ever known as a teacher was anything but angelic.

But anyway. So, it's been a long week for me, food wise, with bad weather and bad allergies and stress and too many things to do that got in the way of everything I needed to do

And so, because I am a highly functioning and well-educated woman with an understanding of skills for managing stress, I ate two bags of chocolate-covered pretzels, several caramel lattes, french fries, and many cheap grocery-store scones. And barely worked out. Oy.

Apparently, being trained as a mental health professional doesn't give you all the answers; who knew?

I refuse to beat myself up about it, though. Having a bad day, or a bad week, doesn't mean I'm a failure. Tomorrow I will go on my long run, making every contingency to head off any of my "yeah, but"s in the meantime. I'll take along extra jacket in case I say, "Yeah,'s too cold."

Sooooo, I'll take along gloves, the fully charged ipod, lots to drink, toilet paper, my inhaler...everything that might ordinarily make me turn back to the car (or never leave it in the first place.) I'm headed out for a 15-mile run tomorrow and a 70+ mile ride this Sunday. I need to get back on track.
Ironman Coeur D'Alene is 71 days away. It will be here before I know it. I must, must, must train more. I would like my finish to be a little less dramatic this time.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

But it sure feels like it.

She mouthed off to me every day in class. Argued with me when I tried to discipline OTHER students.

She rarely did her work. Sat in here and talked and laughed and bothered others who were trying to work.

She's a bully.

She would often scream, "I AM WORKING!" when I checked on her. Then, she wouldn't turn anything in.

She ate and drank in class constantly despite several warnings and my class rules, and then cursed at me when I took it and threw it away.

Then today, she brought me a withdrawal slip, because she's moving to another district. She asked me to raise her grade to a D because, "Otherwise, I'll have all Fs."

Then she swore and cursed her way out the door after I refused.

I will Never. See. Her. Again.

And it's not even my birthday.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My favorite suggestions.

I got so much good information on the bike thing Although it confounds the results, I'm going to try a few things this Sunday.

A lot of people wrote to suggest a professional fit. I've actually had that done up at Colorado Multisport, but as Pirate pointed out, the fit was to maximize power, not comfort. I'm not an elite athlete. It's all about having fun for me. If I'm not comfy, I'm not having fun. So here's what I'll be trying out this Sunday:
  1. I'm changing my saddle from the sleek, carbon aero saddle to what I like to refer to as the "comfy fattass" saddle with a cutout that I mentioned in my earlier post.
  2. I'm raising my handlebars up about an inch to take the pressure off my wrists.
  3. I'm taking along a pair of dry shorts to change into around mile 45 or so. Thanks to Casey for this suggestion.

The bike should be ready for this Sunday's long ride. I'll keep ya posted.


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Notes from the Field.

I don't know that I've ever mentioned this before but I live in the suburbs, and I had an experience today I thought I'd share with my suburban peeps.

My (mostly) politically incorrect neighbors not withstanding, I enjoy the relative safety of the burbs. I run after dark without worry. I don't know most of my neighbors, but I do know that, probabalistically, they are much more likely to perpetuate violence within their own families than they are toward me. I commute 4 miles across the suburbs to work, against the flow of cars heading down into Albuquerque. I live in a little bubble of safety and security that Sweet Baboo has thoughtfully provided for me and in which I thrive, insulated from the wilds of the metropolitcan goings on.

The Burbs are where I grew up. The same with Sweet Baboo. I said as much when Mini Baboo recently began a school ancestry project and asked me, "Mom, where are our people from?"

"Our people are from the suburbs. As long as there have been suburbs, there have been our people."

I get excited about my occasional excusions into the city. Monday I asked several people about what time I shoudl leave to get to a certain location on time, and most of them sucked air through their teeth and talked about this thing called "Traffic".

Yesterday I headed OUT of the suburbs to a seminar and thought I'd share my experience.

So, if you didn't already know it I'll tell you--there are a lot, I mean a LOT of other people in the city who are apparently trying to drive somewhere at just the same time of the morning, and the appear to be pretty intent on getting there.

It's referred to as "traffic" and it is, on the whole, fairly unpleasant. I honestly don't see how people pull it off, day after day, without reaching for some sort of diversion to numb the whole suckitude. Even NPR can't stop the flood of thoughts and emotions that rush through my head; e.g.,

  • Why are you just now trying to turn, from way over there? Didn't you plan your trip?
  • Why is everyone driving so slowly - surely, there must be some sort of incident ahead? No? Then why is everyone driving so slowly?
  • Hey, there, you can't just drive past a lone line of stopped cars and try to cut in line like that. No cuts!
  • My goodness, I think that man was deliberately trying to keep that lady from getting into his lane.
  • Is he eating and talking on the phone and driving his car? On the freeway?

So, this is my PSA for the month for you. You've been warned.

The more you know.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Thanks for not shooting me with a tranquilizer dart.

I want to thank everyone who reponded to my pity party madness, yesterday being my day of ranting - decompensating as I was, toward the end of the long ride yesterday while Sweet Baboo and Tiger Lily waited for the foam around my mouth to dissipate or at least for me to calm down enough to be shot with a tranquilizer dart.

Which leads me to today's truism: Real friends don't mind if you rant and cry. They just wait until you're done.

The thing is, up to about 40 or so miles I like cycling. I feel strong and I'm having a good time. After that it just goes to $hit. So I have to test saddles and setups on long rides, I guess.

I want to be good at this! I can't be that big of a freak, I just can't be! I want to go on group rides, with the big kids, SWTriGal and Pirate. And, I'm just stubborn enough to keep punishing myself until I can.

So, yesterday, Sweet Baboo mentioned that I had a saddle in the garage that was unused. And by golly, I had a Specialized Dolce saddle on a shelf. It was on the first road bike I owned before I became enamored of all things aero and lightweight. That was about the same time that my problems began, but it was the same time I started doing much longer rides, too. It's got about 6 months' light use, and it's wider than the saddle I have now, a bit cushier, with a big wide cutout. So far, I've tried the Selle Glamour (no cutout) and the Spcialized Jett (too narrow. feels like a broom handle)

So, I asked High Desert Bicycles to put it on, and to raise the handlbars a bit to take the pressure off my hands. This is step one. The first test ride of the new setup will be Sunday, about another 70 mile ride.

Another piece of advice that intrigued me was changing my shorts after about 60 miles. What does happens to skin after being in sweat-soaked shorts for that long? This is something I definitely want to check out. Meanwhile, High Desert Bicycles will let me try out saddles if I need to.

And I'll share it what I find out. Of course I will. I never shut up.


Sunday, April 06, 2008

My weakest link.

I didn't run this weekend, even though I love it. Instead I rode my bike, which I hate, with Tiger Lily and Sweet Baboo 70 miles around the Albuquerque area--down Route 66 and back again, climbing over 3500 feet on the trip - slow, grinding climbs. I was happy to note that I didn't feel like I was going to pass out from lack of oxygen. The heartrate stayed low, most of the time. The legs held up.

But gosh, I hate the bike. So why was out there, instead of running? I was out there because it is my weakest link. The bike caused me, more than anything, to go over the usually allotted time of 17 hours at Ironman Louisville. I hate it. HATE. IT. Cycling causes me pain in several areas and makes me feel bad about myself. It makes me cry and rant like a lunatic to my friends and loved one. I have never cried or felt like throwing up while running. Only when cycling. Consistently.

And like a battered wife, I keep going back. I keep forgiving the bike, because maybe this time things will be different. (I can joke about that because I was a battered wife, once, and humor is how I dispell all the bad demons. That, and running)

On long rides, I watch enviously as Sweet Baboo cruises easily in front of me, waving his arms and drinking from his water bottle with no hands on the handlebars. For him, cycling is second nature. His bike is part of him. To me, a bike is a tumor. I feel awkward and 99% of the time, I'm tense and nervous.

And then there's the pain: after about 20 miles it starts with a sharp pain in my left wrist that I only have when I'm trying to do three things: 1) opening a jar, 2) pushups without barbells, and 3) riding a bike. The sharp pain eventually spreads to little lightening sensations in my fingers. The best way to make said sharp pain go away? Lean forward, into the aerobars, assuming the aero tuck, taking the pressure off my wrists.

Ah. The aero tuck. It sounds nice, doesn't it? Like a literary character: The Adventures of Aero Tuck and his little dog.
But 40 minutes of aero tuck later, I'm missing skin in the upper front part of my crotch. So then I sit up but lean into the drops, straightening my wrists - sparing my crotch and my wrists, but there's only so long you can do this. You can't hold one damned position for 80 miles.

The pain compounds everything else: my feeling of being trapped on the bike, the feeling that it's so much easier for everyone else so WHY DO I SUCK. SO. MUCH?? and the feeling that, any moment, the front tire will blow or I'll be forced off the road into the sand or hit a pothole and then WHAM! endover onto my back and shoulder, like I have before, landing in a bed of thorns with a sprained shoulder and knocking the wind out of me.
And, because it is painful, I don't train as I should, and because I don't train as I should, I am slow, and I stay slow, which makes the pain last longer.

When I run, I'm slow. There's no pain, so the slowness doesn't get to me. I can run off the path or just stand still, or sit down. I'm tied into my shoes, yes, but they aren't likely to suddenly suffer a mechanical failure and head off the road, taking me and my body with it. And there is the inexplicable feeling of goodness I have after a good run.

And swimming. I love swimming! Pirate might puzzle at this declaration because I'm hard to get to go to the pool, but when I'm swimming, I feel clean and strong. Bilateral breathing? No problem. True, I'm not terribly fast, but I have good form, I've been told several times.

By the time I've been on a bike for 60 or 70 miles I'm hurting so much I sound like a psychotic woman with tourette syndrome on crack. I'm swearing loudly, and ranting about how much I hate it. It is my weakest link. It is my white whale, my archilles, all those crappy analogies about those things that will, eventually, bring me down.

But here I am. Committed to an Ironman, and I always follow through with my commitments. I only today found out that places will let you try out saddles (DUH, why didn't I know this before?) so hope springs eternal. Maybe next time things will be different. Maybe.
Meanwhile, thanks for letting me rant and bitch and moan.

And, it occurs to me as I'm writing and thinking about this that maybe there are other people out there who hate one of the three events as much as I hate cycling.

Who are you? What do you hate?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Almost forgot: March Miles

Bike: 142 Mi (eek!)
Run: 85.6 Mi (includes a taper week, one marathon, and one recovery week)
Swim: 6000 M (picking up!)

I'm off to a slow start. Look for that to change, as Coach Baboo gives me my miles each week. He gives me the totals, and I then divide them into 3 or 4 workouts for each spread out over the week, that I can fit into my schedule. This is pretty neat trick, because I have a night class on Mondays, I tutor on Tuesdays, and I sponsor a club after school on Thursdays.

For instance: this week, my distances are 5000 meters swim, 150 miles bike, 25 miles run. The swim this week will be divided into three workouts: 1500, 1500, 2000; the bike will be three workouts of 30 miles each and then a weekend ride of 60 miles; and the run will be two 5 mile runs, a 15 mile run this weekend, and then a 2 mile run after my long bike ride.

Tonight I went for my 5 mile run, and on the advice of my message therapist, I wore this neoprene knee strap that I bought, at all places, at WalMart. I'm amazed and happy to say that I felt not a whisper, not a hint of ITB pain. It was awesome.


Rambling, mostly, about my job(s).

Today was tough. the last 6 or 7 weeks between spring break and summer represent time in which students are physically, but not mentally, in my room. 2-step inequalities? rise over run? Are you kidding me?

Why can't I eat a large back of check mix and king-sized candy bar in class? Hey, can we have a free day? Why do I have to put my phone away? Why can't you be cool?

Oh, for all its glorious wonder spring break is just the cruelist thing. It's a week long enticement, dangling summer in front of me, summersummersummersummersummersummer and then, PSYCH!

During spring break, I made my trip to downtown Albuquerque on Pistachio the Precious, did some stuff, and then sat in the shade at Tingly Pond eating chips and drinking water. Then I headed back north where I sat in the shade at a local coffee house, drinking a lovely iced drink. It was one of those beautiful days that are so terrific that you forget all about winter. Winter? What winter? cold? Nah. Never happened.

The trip I was making had to so with some stuff I needed to take care of over at this community mental health center where I've sometimes worked as a mental health counselor for the past two years. I'm not licensed yet (I defend my thesis on April 18th and have the NCE to take) but every time I go there they remind me that I'm welcome to work there. They've been offering me a job since I was an Intern. Plenty of clients, they say, no problem, anytime you want. Just say the word.

And there it is, one of those dillemas: The job you want, the people you like, and a salary you couldn't feed a cat on.

To give you an idea of how low the salary is, it's considerably lower than what I am paid as a high school teacher. Oh yes, that's right. Lower than a teacher's salary, and that's without the summers off.

It's painful to keep saying no each time they tell me how good they think I am. Every time I leave the counseling center I feel smart and efficacious. Then, I go back to my "real" job where, for all practical intents and purposes, I'm told, "We'll let you teach another year. You may, or may not get your own classroom. And you may, or may not, get a place to park, if you get here early enough. Don't complain about how crowded the classes are. They're crowded everywhere."
Which is a lot like saying, "Don't complain about how hard we beat you. We beat everyone that hard."

One of these days, I'm going to turn down the tentative parking spot and classroom for a real office and a door that I can shut and furniture that people aren't allowed to write on with sharpies or carve their initials into, and I'll have books free of badly drawn pot leaves and genitalia.

So, here's the plan: One more year. Just one. May of 2009 will be the day that I check the "no" box on my "intent" form for the next school year Do you plan to return to this school next year?
I fantasize about thumbing my nose at the district. I fantasize about mooning someone, or making some dramatic speech about respect, and writing a letter to the editor telling off all the parents in the district about how they could make the life the next teacher easier.

Most likely, though, I'll do what a lot of teachers do; I'll fail to report for duty on August 15th of the next school year. I wonder if they'll miss me.

Old teachers never die; they just wipe their slate clean.



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