Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And the 2010 tri season is off . . .

If you use your phone as an alarm clock, it stands to reason that sooner or later you will be woken up in the middle of the night by someone calling you. If you are me, that will inevitably happen the night before a triathlon. At 1:50 a.m. And you will not be able to get back to sleep.

That is what happened to me Sunday morning. I went to bed early and was sound asleep. Suddenly, or so it seemed, the “alarm” went off. I sprang out of bed and raced to the other side of the room (nearest outlet) to turn it off.

I remember being in a fog and thinking, “wow this came fast,” and “boy the room is awfully dark.”

I looked at the phone – still half asleep – and saw the “answer” and “decline” buttons. I pushed the decline button since it’s red, the same color as the “dismiss” button on the alarm app. But, then the alarm app came back on and I saw that it was only 1:50.

It took me a minute to put it altogether. The call was from Florida – a number not in my directory.

I crawled back into bed, hopeful I'd get back to sleep. Then, weirdly, not 10 minutes later, I heard a little “ting ting” letting me know I'd receieved a text. I wondered if it was related to the call.

It wasn’t. It was from some moron on Long Island, again, someone I don’t know.

The pre-tri sleep gods were clearly out to make me insane.

Now I was wide awake and I did little more than doze for a few minutes here and there until finally dragging myself out of bed at 5:30 when the real alarm did go off.

I ate, dressed, grabbed my bag, kissed my kids and husband and got in the car. I was tired, but felt pretty good otherwise. After all, I know the JerseyMan course from last year. So I felt pretty relaxed.

It was drizzling on and off, but nothing too bad. I arrived, parked, picked up my packet, got body marked and made my way to transition. I was early enough to get an end spot, gaining a little more room for my stuff.

About 15 minutes after arriving, the skies opened up. It was pouring. The spot under my bike filled up like a lake. My towel was soaked. My shoes and socks were in plastic bags, but everything else was drenched.


Eventually it let up and by the time they called us down to the beach for the warm-up swim and pre-race meeting, it was only lightly raining. I slipped into the water (70 degrees) for a warm up. And? Immediatley felt panicky. Oy. Will I ever feel comfortable in open water? Ever?!?

I stood in chest deep water and took several deep breaths, then started swimming again, and it was better. The announcer called us out of the water and the first two waves took off. Soon, it was my turn. I stood off to the right and off we went.

I surged forward with the crowd and started swimming when the water was about up to my waist. Again? Panic. Just for a few strokes, but still? What is my hang up here? I’ve done this now quite a bit. Grrrr!

But soon, I started feeling pretty good. I was actually bilateral breathing, the way I do in the pool and sighting pretty well. I swam around a bunch of women and rounded both buoys easily. Soon enough I felt my fingers scrape sand so I stood up and ran out of the water.

Last year’s time: 25:43.
This year: 22:24.

And what’s more, this year, the timer didn’t click you out of the swim until you ran back to the entry to transition area, so my actual swim time is probably about a minute less than this. Not bad!

Transition was easy. I slipped off the wetsuit easily and got ready for the bike. I sipped a bit of water, grabbed the bike and ran out.

Last year’s T1: 4:56
This year: 2:40 (which is probably actually 3:40 due to the above, but still--faster than last year!)

The bike (20 miles) was tough. It’s a hilly course and I couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm. Anyone I overtook in the swim passed me here. I was so frustrated. While I do OK on flat roads, I slow down drastically on hills. On an up note, the rain held off, the 20 miles passed without any drama and before I knew it, I was turning back into the park.

Last year’s bike: 1:46:48 (keep in mind, I was nauseous and crampy for the last 10 miles)
This year: 1:36:14.

So? Eh. Better, sure, but not great. At least I know what I have to practice.

This was the first time I had to change into running shoes at T2, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Despite that, I was still faster than last year. Go figure?

Last year’s T2: 2:14
This year: 1:58

I was dreading the run. I knew I didn’t do enough bike-run bricks in training and I was expecting it to be really hard.

I decided at the last minute on Saturday night, to wear my dad’s old baseball hat for the run. So I pulled it on and every time my legs felt tired, every time I felt a cramp, every time I thought about stopping to walk, I thought of my dad and how he couldn’t take a single step for 40 years and how this run was for him. And I kept running.

Even if I was only running 12-minute miles, I was determined to run every step of the 3.1 miles. About a half way through, my legs loosened up and I picked up the pace a bit. It felt, quite honestly, great. One of the best runs I’ve had. Before I knew it, I was turning toward the finish line. I could hear the announcer. I thought of my dad and nearly burst into tears, but I held it in and ran faster.

Crossing the finish was an amazing feeling. I was so happy!

Last year’s run: 41:48
This year: 32:02 (yay!)

For this race, I had one goal. Improve on my time from last year. And I did that in every aspect of the race.

Last year’s time: 3:01
This year: 2:35

This is a tough course – the swim and bike are on the long side for a sprint-distance race, and the bike is pretty hilly, so it feels good to tackle it so early in the season. I’m really looking forward to the next one, which will be SheRox New England in July (unless I register for a local one sooner).

Me - post JerseyMan tri 2010

For Michael Gorman


Sunday, May 16, 2010

The V-Word

Driving home in the car yesterday with our new dog (because when life gives you chaos, why not ramp it up even more?), the girls and I were having a discussion about spaying and neutering animals: what it is, why it's important, etc.

Peanut observed that spaying involves cutting into the female cat's stomach, thus making the cat's stomach sensitive to the touch for many years afterward. I piped in with, "That's right. You know, when you were born, they had to cut into my stomach to get you out and the scar is still sensitive all these years later."

Lately, Loaf has taken to tormenting Peanut whenever possible. I always knew this day would come: revenge for all the taunting she took as a baby, I suppose. So she looks squarely at Peanut and in her most accusatory tone says, "That was for you, Peanut. I came out the right way."

ME: Loaf, do you know what 'the right way' is? How were you born?

LOAF: Through your vagina.

PEANUT: (joyfully) That's right, Loaf. You came out of Mommy's biscuit.

ME: (to myself) WHAT?!?!?
TO PEANUT: Where did you hear that term?

PEANUT: (giggling) I don't know.

LOAF: (Insert name of sweet little girl with outstanding parents) told us!

ME: (to myself) WHAT?!?!?

PEANUT: No! She didn't tell me. Maybe she told Loaf but (insert name of other sweet little girl who also has outstanding parents) told me!

ME: (to myself) Oy.
OK, listen girls. Whoever is using terms like that, well, it doesn't sound very smart. The correct word is vagina. And if we're being really correct, the word is vulva, because that includes all your girl parts down there. Do you understand?

BOTH: (reluctantly, complete with verbal eyerolls) Yessss.

Several seconds of radio silence.

LOAF: (accusingly) Peanut, I was born out of Mommy's volcano. You weren't.

PEANUT: It's not her volcano, it's her vulvana.

ME: (to myself) GAH! Maybe whoever came up with "biscuit" was on to something.

* * *
Dog pictures coming soon. He is a black lab, very sweet but completely insane. We have adopted "Marley's" second cousin evidently.

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Monday, May 03, 2010

The Artiste

Loaf just finished an art class at her preschool. The session, which was about eight weeks long, focused on Monet, Picasso and Warhol, among others. My little artiste painted some lovely works of art in different styles, though she refused to paint a Warhol-like painting of shoes and instead painted a blue-jay telling the instructor, "There aren't any mistakes in art."

Heh. You have to sort of love that.

Her works - displayed for the art show:

Next stop . . . the MoMa

Here she is talking about her favorite painting - the one on the lower right. It is a Picasso-esque flower, but to give it some extra zip she threw Kevin from "Up" in there too. Do you see her?

The artist, talking about her work

And since she painted a blue-jay, she insisted that her blue-jay, Bluey, come to the art show. So I sat there balancing Bluey on my lap the whole time and when it was her turn to talk she waved and said not "Hi Mom and Dad" but, "Hi Bluey." I'm cool with this, but if her college graduation cap says, "Thanks Bluey," we're going to have to have a talk.

The artist with her paintings

So there she is. My little artist. The next unit is sculpture and I can't wait to see what she comes up with.

* * *
I also wanted to thank all of you who wrote me notes here and on Facebook, as well as via e-mail and snail mail, offering your condolences and support. I'm still very up and down, but knowing so many people are out there sending good thoughts and prayers has meant the world to me. I'm truly awed and humbled by the kindness from so many I know, as well as so many I've never even met. My world is a better place with all of you in it and I thank you.