Monday, May 29, 2006

"Dear John..."

I got this type of email over the weekend. It was a bit out of the blue, as most Dear John letters/emails are.. I guess that's the point, eh?

The thing is, I can't bring myself to read it.

It's been.. what, six months?

In this time I've had my ups and downs. A few more downs than ups, but I always resurface. We last saw each other in March when I reaquired the tent and sleeping pads. I knew I had a few more things of hers, so I sent her an email reminding her that I had them and would give them back at her earliest convenience. I think that was around Easter. I figured I wouldn't hear from her, so it was no surprise that I didn't. I moved on. Whatever.

So I get this email. I started to read it, but couldn't get past the first few paragraphs that I had skimmed.

Think about reading a bad review from your boss at work.
Think about reading a list of your faults.. your failures.. your mistakes.. everytime you were late.. didn't say you were sorry.. 'thank you'.. 'you look nice today'..
Think about every miscue whether you thought it was one or not.. because, I'll be damned, if it didn't matter then, it sure as hell matters now.. 10 times over, at that.
Think about every gift and every card and letter.. how you toiled over them trying put pen to paper your heart and soul. Not the best conversationalist or well versed by any means, nor the next Elizabeth Barrett Browning. All tossed aside. Forgotten. Your age, or lackthereof, shows along with you lack of education.

Not only does it show.. it is all magnified.

And I could barely get through the first few paragraphs, so I just moved it. It's enough to feel shitty about myself when the feelings are brought on by myself, but when it's someone that I "let in" that's beating me down.. I can't take it.

So I did what one of my faults is, which has been pointed out to me time and time again, I withdraw. I view not reading the rest of the email as withdrawing. Not being able to stand up for myself. Admitting my faults.. my failures. I can take it if it's done in a civilized way, but spew this shit at me with a virtual baseball bat to the head and you're damn right I'm going to hunker down in a corner in the fetal position until it's over.

When will it be over? Amicable split.. my ass. When I'm able to read the rest of the email? Hell, who knows what else was said... right now, I don't care. I need to pull myself out of the corner, tend to my wounds, and move on..


Friday, May 26, 2006

Kids These Days

I walk the same route to the Metro every morning. Along the way I pass an elementary school. Very rarely will any of the kids talk to me. I'm usually in my own world, zoning out to whatever is playing on my ipod at the moment. I prefer to observe the future of America as they head off to school while munching on a delicious breakfast of Funions.

Last Spring, a little boy noticed me carrying a gym bag.

"Do you play soccer?" he asked.
"Is that like baseball?"
"Sort of"


"Do you play soccer?" I asked as we waited at the light. The cool crossing guard was there last year.. not the gold-toothed one we have now.

"yeah.. I'm pretty good"

"Do you practice behind the school?"

"I don't know. We have a game this weekend."

"Good luck," I said as we crossed.

"Thanks," he replied.. "Have a nice day."

The kid couldn't have been more than 10 years old. It made my day.

Today. Same route, but a little later than usual. A kid passed me looking a little hurried. Must've been late. As was I.

"Excuse me," he said. I could barely hear him.. music blasting and all.

I stopped and pulled out an ear bud. He kind of looked me up and down. Was he going to say something about how my green Crocs didn't match my red, wrinkled Wisconsin T-shirt? Was he going to comment on my dirty jeans that I've been wearing all week? My disheveled hair? What??

"You might not want to walk there. There's a dead bird on the sidewalk."

I sorta smiled since I kicked at it when I walked this same route yesterday.

"Thank you"

"You're welcome.. Have a nice day."


Monday, May 22, 2006

A day at the races

I performed about as well as Barbaro over the weekend.

"ready or not".. I was closer to 'not'.

I went in to yesterdays race with a few minor goals - get out of the water, get off the bike, finish the run; have fun. Simple. The only numbers I cared about were what time the transition area opened, and what time my swim wave went off. Simple. I've done this race since 2002 and have had mixed results over the years. This was the most ill-prepared I've been for just about any race. I tend to get a bit complacent when I've done a race a number of times, so I slack on the training. I was pretty busy throughout the year will classes and work, so training took a far, backseat. I knew before January that this would be a busy year and even over the summer contemplated not signing up. I did anyway as a bit of peer pressure and 'the streak' of doing the race since 2002 set in. I knew then it wouldn't be my best race and it wasn't.

I've had some time to sit and sleep and reflect on the weekend and the past few weeks and what it all means.

I wonder how much I really enjoy triathlons. I enjoy being by myself pre-race, but enjoy pre-race banter with others. I was bored during the swim and was thinking 'what is this in the water that I'm tasting?', and then dry heaving, and I even started to think about work during the run. If the idea of training and doing tris is a means of escape from work, then there's something wrong.

My training for that race was pretty non-existent. I did more the week of the race, when I should've been tapering, than I did in all of May and April combined. I don't want to 'blame' anything on the 24-hour run, but it might be far to say that, even 3 weeks post run, I'm still recovering from it. I can tell the difference from running trails vs. roads as my feet are still very sensitive. It could also be the shoes.. too old? Dunno..

So I have a lot more thinking, and training, to do before my half-Ironman now less than 3 weeks away. Like Columbia, I've done this race every year since 2002, and do it more because it's local and it's a good race. I'm not sure how much I can do to prep for the half, but I doubt I can have a worse day than I did yesterday.

I know I shouldn't be too down on myself about my performance. I did well considering, but nowhere near my potential. That's fine. Live and learn. It was my first race of the year and I know what I need to do for next year.

However, I know 100% that I won't be doing this race next year. The enormous amounts of peer pressure won't convince me to sign up for it. How do I know this? I've mentally committed myself to doing the MMT 100 next year. Columbia would be 2 weeks later and I know there's no way I could be ready for a 'speed' race like an Olympic distance tri.

So I guess I should spend more than 4 days for my next race..

.. better get to it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ready or Not!

Ultra season is over for now, which only means it's the start of triathlon season.

First one of the year is this Sunday and, needless to say, I'm not ready for it.

I've done the Columbia Triathlon every year since 2002. It has been my first tri of the year, so I like to use it primarily to guage what my fitness level is. I can say, without a doubt, that it is on the low end this year. Okay, okay, I did the 24 hr run.. whoopdedo.. I haven't been in the pool or on the bike as much as I had liked to this year. I'm sure I'll do fine, but I know I could do better.. and I say that every year.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda.. I'm gonna just go out there and have fun for once..

..and then come home and drink beer.

Christmas in May!

I tend to shop online from time to time, so when I get a call or a note from the front desk notifying us that there's a package up front, I usually have no clue what it might be. I was pleasantly surprised to pick up a package the other day!

It had been up there for awhile, but I finally got some race gear. See.. earlier this year, I entered a 'contest' a few months back and 'won'. What was the contest? Well, it was a chance to earn 'sponsorship' and be one of only 200 members of the Team Aquaphor/ What's in the deal? Well, there's where it's more like I'm a walking billboard than it is 'sponsorship'.

The package included a bunch of really nice Eucerin and Aquaphor products as well as a hat, shorts, couple shirts and a tri kit - shorts, sports bra, and tank. The deal is that I have to do a minimum of X races this year and I have to wear as least one article of their clothing in every race. Not a big deal. I have to submit race results and give a testimonial about using Aquaphor. Not a big deal. One reason why I applied is because I am an active user of the product and it has worked well for me for rough feet, elbows.. chapped lips, as well as chaffing on the back of my neck from my wetsuit.

I think one of the main reasons why I was chosen is because I'm active in our triathlon club, I live in a big city (media), and have a good opportunity to spread the word about the product and advertise. That's where I look at it as more of an ad campaign than sponsorship. At least I don't have to walk around wearing a sandwich board. I can earn money if I'm quoted in a paper saying something about and/or Aquaphor or if my picture is printed showing me wearing some of the gear they provided. The larger the circulation of the paper, the more money I can earn. Again, not a big deal.. and I'm not in it for the money.

I got some free Tshirts and shorts.. that's all I care about.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"Aren't you cold?"

It was 55 degrees Tuesday morning. I stood at the crosswalk in jeans, a T-shirt, and my loaded backpack on my back. Earbuds were in place and I was off in my own world.

"wut?" i asked the gold toothed crossing guard.

"Aren't you cold?"

I just shake my head and cross the street.

Yes, I'm helped across the street by a crossing guard, and no, I wasn't cold. It was friggin 55 degrees out! It was about 8:30 and I'd been up since 5:15am. I was biking at that time and it was a bit cooler out then. I should note that the crossing guard was wearing a hat with the ear flaps down and a long, insulated trench coat.

I'm sure in August, when it's 75 degrees at that hour, I'll be wearing a similar outfit and will be asked, "aren't you hot??"

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bookstores are my Weakness

I could spend hours in a bookstore!

When I was unempl... er, between jobs Oct01-Apr02, I spent a lot of time at B&N when I should've been job searching. It was there I spent hours reading the books I couldn't afford. I finished "Fast Food Nation" over the course of a couple days, I read the poetry the Pablo Neruda, and sampled what felt like every CD in the store. It was there that I discovered Norah Jones.

Today, I limited myself to 3 hours spread over the course of two bookstores. There's a really cool used bookstore in DC called Capitol Hill Books, located near the famed Eastern Market. Going to both places are deadly. I try to justify any purchases by first going to the pool, located next door, and swimming a bit before browsing the crafts and food. Before heading to the bookstore, I made a list of books I'd like to look for, hoping that this list would limit my browsing. Let's just say having a list makes things worse.

The bookstore closes at 6pm, so I made sure to get there near closing time so I wouldn't spend too much time there. I was hoping to find a book that I need to read for book club (yours truly is leading the discussion) and prefer to check there first. I try to avoid paying full price for a book. Very rarely will I buy a new book from B&N or Borders without having a giftcard or coupon to save a little $$. I'm frugal, I'll admit it. So the small, wall to wall books, shop is packed with people. I head upstairs to look for other books on my list. I find a few..

..and then I start browsing.

Most of the time I don't know what I 'want' until I'm there. There are a ton of classics I'd like to read. There are a some authors I'd like to read. I judge books by the cover. The bookstore is as cluttered as my mind. Seriously. When I say there are wall-to-wall books, I mean there are wall-to-wall, top to bottom, filling every possible crevasse, more books in the back, downstairs, and in the bathroom. Well, maybe not in the bathroom, but I think to get the idea.

So they didn't have the one book I was really looking for, but I managed to walk out of there with four new-to-me books. I'm a sucker.

I took the metro over to Barnes and Noble and figured I'd find my book at that behemoth of a bookstore. Before looking for it, I had to do some browsing. Finally, 30 minutes later I ask if they have the book I'm looking for - "Thank You for Smoking". With luck, I snag the last copy in the store. So I do some more browsing. I work my way into the music area with no intention to buy a CD and listen to what's new. I stand in one of the rows, earphones in place, listening to a lot of soundtracks. I'm sure I look like a dork in my mismatched clothes, burlap overshoulder bag like a paperboy, and unshaven legs groovin' to the tunes. I don't care. I move up and down the aisle as far as the cord will allow me looking for soundtracks I've forgotten about.

So back to this list. The bad thing about having a list is now I have room to write more. I find a lot of songs I could download and make note of them. I find more movies that I'd like to see and make note of them. It's getting late, so I make note of the artists I'd like to listen to when I get back to B&N.

Until then, I have 5 books I need to read.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Coming to a Wheaties box near you!

Who knows.. it might be me! The cover is usually reserved for 'real' Olympians and no way could I make it to the 'real' Olympics, but I have signed up to participate in the Outgames in Montreal this summer. It's basically a gayer version of the regular Olympics in which the participants don't have to hide their sexuality..

*cough* Johnny Weir *cough*

Okay, so maybe he wasn't hiding it in Italy.. whatever.

Nonetheless.. I really don't know what to expect except of a lot of flaming queers and 99% of them dressed better than me. I plan to participate in 3 events - 40 mile road race (bike), Olympic distance triathlon, and the half-marathon. I'm sure I'll be wiped out from the first two events, so the half-marathon is more of a 'fun run' that I'll do with a guy friend of mine. We're planning on doing it in drag and are trying to think of what to dress as. A few ideas that have come up are Jessica Rabbit and Bob Haskins from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", Sonny and Cher, Elvis and Priscilla, and Fred and Wilma. So far, Fred and Wilma is in the lead since the outfit we'd have to wear would be somewhat easy to run in.

Suggestions are welcome.

Anyway.. so it will be my first big trip for any type of race. I've flown to Wisconsin three times for the Ironman.. no biggie.. but this is a little different. I'll be going to a city I've never been to before and will be renting a car to drive there by myself. I'm already getting an ulcer thinking about how much I'll have to pay for gas.. ugh. Hoping to get some friends there as well, but that stuff is up in the air, so who knows what's going on.

But before this, I have 2 other events to participate in - Columbia Triathlon and the Eagleman 1/2 Ironman. Columbia is next weekend, and I'm not ready. Not at all. My streak of swimming at least once a month ended with April. I have, however, managed to swim twice this month. I hope to get in the water at least 3 more times before next Sunday. Please note that this is, in no way, the correct way to train. I'm a pretty unconventional person with how I train. I get that. I do what works for me. And in this case, considering how my year has been thus far, I've done what time has allowed. I'm sure I'll do fine even though I'm not ready, but I won't do as well as I'd like to.

So I'm not really focused on these two events.. seriously, who is going to be there for me to impress??

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Hockey is going to be the death of me

I can't stand it. Really, I can't.

I had to take a break from watching hockey when the Red Wings were ousted. It's still a touchy subject that I don't like to talk about. I've avoided reading anything about the players, the team, or what might happen in the off season..

So anyway, I've been watching again, and the timing of the games is killing me. I love that there are double headers. That's great! But when the 10pm game goes into overtime.. and then double overtime.. and then.. yeah, I just can't do it. So what do I do? I fall asleep downstairs. Most nights it's been on the sofa, but last night it was on the floor. Yep. I woke up at 4am on the floor, on my back, with my ankles crossed and hands behind my head. So I got up and went to bed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Officially Official

I'm done with my classes this semester.. finally. Emailed my final paper/project today for my Tuesday class. My Thursday class finished up last week with a 15 minute presentation and a paper as well. I must say, that presentation was 10x better than the first time I had to present in that class. "Nervous" doesn't come close to describing how fearful I was of presenting back in early February. However, "looks like she's going to piss herself she's so nervous" is a little more accurate statement.

This time around, I was more comfortable with the subject matter, could better describe it, and had a couple beers in me, so I was pretty loose. Kidding about the last one, but there was cake there so I was a big jacked up on sugar. All in all, I think it went well. I still never looked at the PDF doc the prof emailed me in Feb after that preso 'scoring' how I did. I at least worked up the balls to download it to my computer. I opened the document and looked at it, but that's as far as I've gotten. I did well with the group projects and the final project, I hope, so I'm guessing I got a B in that class.

My Tuesday class.. that's another story for another time. For now, I'm going to enjoy the fact that it's over, go to a bookstore, work out, cook, watch hockey, and have a beer.

I'm also going to get back on track with my training as I'm a bit blubbery. Don't let the 80 mile thing fool you. Remember what I said.. "built for comfort, not for speed".

EDIT: 9:30pm

I got an email from my Thursday night professor explaining my grades and why he graded me as he did. I guessed a B, and in actuality I got a B+. I was surprised to see I got 14/15 on my "pee worthy" student led discussion. I was docked the most points on the last 2 Exercises. I'll admit I did them half-assed and would've had an A- had I not been a schmuck, but I passed.. and I get reimbursed by work on the money I paid for tuition. It's like Christmas all over again.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A loooong day and night

It's hard to put into words the happenings from the other weekend. I think it's still sinking in the miles I covered in 24 hours, but I think the novelty has worn off some. I look at my feet as they soak in a tub of Epsom salt and apologize, yet am in awe at how far they carried me. I rub my knees with sports cream and apologize, and again, am in awe at how they managed to hold me up and keep moving even as they got creakier and creakier.

This was the first event of its kind that I have ever participated it. I knew I wanted to do it as soon as it was announced, but I didn't register for it until mid-April. I told a few people about it, but mostly kept to myself about the event. It's hard enough trying to explain the Ironman distance to someone ("so how many days do you have to complete it?") and I wanted to spare sharing too much information.

I did it to see how far I could push myself. What can I make my body do when it doesn't want to 'go' anymore? How strong mentally am I? I've completed 4 Ironman triathlons since 2002, so I know what it's like to 'go' for 12-16 hours. I didn't know what to expect in those 'unknown' hours and I looked forward to finding out.

I must admit that I'm not a huge fan of running. Seriously. People find that hard to believe when they find out how many IMs (4), marathons (12 or so), and ultras (7 or so) I've done since I started doing races back in 2000. Running hurts. The recovery sucks. That's why I don't run 5Ks or 10Ks. Running fast hurts more. I'm not a fast runner. I like to say I'm "built for comfort, not for speed." That was the draw to ultras - speed, or lack thereof. Don't get me wrong, there are some fast freaks that can cover 50k, 50 miles, 100 miles, etc in some sick times. I am not one of those people.

My goal was 2 hours. Complete each 8 mile loop, including breaks, in 2 hours each. That didn't last long. 4 loops, maybe? 32 miles? Oh well. Goals out the window. Time to make new goals. Walk and run the same sections each loop. Check. That I was doing most of the day until the sun went down. My spirits sunk with it on loop #9. Bored of the course? Not really.. just bored of the out/back section. I walked as I did the final 5 miles or so of Bull Run 50 - head down, shoulders down, face down.

I almost gave up.
I almost didn't care.

I had one loop left in my. That was my original goal of 10 loops. It didn't matter how I was going to do it, I was going to do that 10th loop even if I had to crawl.

Can I just say how much I hurt? It wasn't so much muscular pain as it was my joints. My feet were sore from the rocks and the pounding, my right ankle was bothersome, and my knees ached. Downhills made me cringe. This 10th loop was hours 20-23 or so. We're talking 3am-6am. I had been up since 5am Saturday. I had sat down at most 4 times for a total of 45 minutes to take care of my feet. I avoided the lodge, the fire. I didn't want to get sucked in. I didn't want to get comfortable. I had my sights set on 10 loops and I was going to do them. Bum feet, ankle, knees.. nothing was going to stop me.

That last loop was completed on sheer will power and guts. I had no adrenaline. I visualized the finish line, the cones, and my chair next to it, and I ran towards that. Okay, so at this point I wasn't doing a lot of running, but I did run a number of the flat sections. Once I got off the loop and on the out/back section, I knew I was going to finish within 24 hours. I walked, shuffled, yawned, and sleepwalked my way back. I could barely keep my eyes open. I did manage to jog the last few yards to make it look good.

23:09. 80 miles. 8-0. I say it and I see it and it just doesn't seem right. I look at my feet again and it just seems wrong that they went that far. Sure, there were others that ran just as far and a few that went farther, but they are more experienced runners. I tried to stay as positive as I could throughout the race. There is no way I could've done as well if it weren't for my crew/pacer Brent, as well as Em, who paced me on loop 9. She tried with all her might to get me to run and to eat or drink and I just couldn't. Brent was quick to refill my bottles or prep a bagel with nutella for me to take out on the trail. He was a rookie at crewing and did an amazing job. He deserves the credit for me doing so well nutritionally and not having any stomach problems.

The results for the solo runners can be found here on PDF, so you can see how I stacked up versus the competition. The grey column lists the time it took me to complete the loop, OUT is when I left to start the loop and IN is when I came back in. That number listed is the time of day. What's amazing to look at are the spilts for runner #6, who completed 13 loops for 104 miles. His first 7 laps were unbelievably consistent - within 1-2 minutes of each other. That's incredible pacing. He passed me a number of times and looked so positive and always had a kind word of encouragement to say, as did all the other runners.

I posted another, more detailed report on another website. This is more long winded and includes my splits and what I ate and when I went to the bathroom. Very interesting stuff. I also posted a few pictures from the weekend.

I hope to do this event, if not one like it, next year. I have a much better idea of what my body and mind is capable of doing and how far I can push it. Even before doing this run, I knew I was pretty strong mentally, but this showed how much guts I have to grind it out when the going gets tough. It was a great experience and I'm glad to have been a part of the inaugural event.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Happy Lady

Here is a picture of 'happy me' after the run this weekend. My sister took the picture in the Mess Hall where we had the dinner Friday and breakfast and awards on Sunday. This picture was taken at about 9am Sunday and I have been up since 5am Saturday. I did manage to nap for about 5 minutes on that bench in the background. I was so tired waiting for the awards to start that I couldn't hold my head up. A bowl of warm oatmeal and a medal around my neck and I am a new woman! However, I was still cold and tired, as you can tell by the drooping eyes. We were in the car about 30 minutes later and I was fast asleep again. Slept for 2.5 hrs when I got home then again from 4-10pm and again from 1:30am - 7:30am. Needless to say, I was a bit tired.

I hope to write some form of a report later.

Monday, May 01, 2006

New Respect for 24 Hours

So I had this little run over the weekend, right.. and had the list of goals below that I wanted to accomplish. I managed to accomplish all 14.

-I managed to have fun 4 times over.
-I finished in 23:09.
-I completed 10 loops, but we found out that each loop was closer to 8 miles.
-My nutrition was phenomenal as I had no stomach issues whatsoever.
-There were a few quotes from "Tommy Boy" on loop #7 as well as "Groundhog Day" on loop #9.
-I saw 2 beavers and 1 snake. No pictures, though, as The Beav sightings were at night.
-I have a piece of the trail.
-I "left it out there". Exhaustion is something else as is running with eyes at half mast.
-8 miles doesn't sound like much. 24 hours doesn't either. But put the 2 together and it has a new meaning.
-Relay people flying by you at 2am is a little disheartening. Watching a guy head out for his 12th loop, and still moving with vigor, was unbelievable.

My previous best was 50 miles. I had hoped to do 10 loops, which I did, and it still hasn't sunk in. The soreness when I stand up and try to walk, however, quickly reminds me of what I did.

The miles, the hills, the rocks, the cold, the darkness, the camaraderie.. There's just so much to say and I will save it for another time.