7/31/2008

I can't believe what won.

My boss offered me a position in "Europe" - he wouldn't say where. However, I'd have to go now, I'd have to say that I knew a specific programming language, & I'd have to stay for at least 3 months.

Where in Europe? He wouldn't tell me.

My boss knows me. He is one of the few people at my company who knows my athletic ambitions & how much I train. He knew that I'd decline because of the Half Ironman. He knew that I also might be swayed - Hence, the offer.

Given my training & life plan for the next 15 months, I opted out. 1) I can't go now - the Half Ironman is in 6 weeks. Finishing it is integral to my plan. 2) I don't know that programming language. (Though, I hear it's easy to learn.) 3) 3 months?! Could I find someone to adopt Fat Cat & Doctor Claw for 3 months? Would they ship my bike (& possibly the two cats) with me?

Too problematic, we decided.

Then, I found out that he wanted to send me to the Land Of Chocolate & Excellent Beers.

Beer. And. Chocolate.

Let me say that again:
Beer.
Chocolate.

I've opted out of other worldwide adventures because of poor timing or inability to find replacement caretakers for furrballs. This one has me a little more irritated than the others.

Beer & chocolate versus biking & swimming (& sometimes running). Triathlon won. I can't believe it. I know I wasn't a good fit for the project, & I do love triathlon. However, it did shake my resolve to do Ironman next year.

*************************

Also, I should add that I've been gluten-free for 6 weeks now. It's gotten much easier. I know how to navigate a menu well, discuss options with the wait staff, & how to change recipes (more or less) for being gluten-free.

So, the Belgian beer? It's not on the menu yet (if ever). I miss you, Belgian beer.

7/29/2008

My Momma done told me...

When I have any sort of medical question/concern or need advice, I hit up my Mom. (She's the medic in the family.)

When racing Lake Anna '07 when the water temperature was 56 degrees, I asked her if she thought it was safe for me to swim in the frigid water. (I didn't know, & I was worried.) I thought she would "baby" me. I am, after all, her youngest daughter.

You know what she told me? She said, "You'll never know if you can handle it unless you do it. This is the perfect opportunity to try. Just do it."

Words of wisdom from the woman who used to tell me, "It's just gas. Get your butt to school." (By the way, it was.)

(Lake Anna '07 turned out to be my best swim time thus far. A 2:11 split. Not bad at all.)

She's been extremely helpful in my training - always level-headed & always fair. When I was miserable that I couldn't race the entire Half Ironman (Mooseman) due to injury, she reminded me that it was only last year that I struggled to run 3 miles. & I was upset that I couldn't race a Half Ironman? "Do what you can & be satisfied that you've come so far already" was her message.

Tonight, I called her to say that I jammed my finger in the lane line at swimming. (There's a first time for everything. Shocking - considering that I have swam for a total of 7-8 years now.) I can bend my finger, but it is extremely painful when I touch it.

Damn. I need medical advice. So, I called Dial-A-Nurse/Mom. Her advice? "You know what to do. Elevation, ice, ibuprofen." Sure. I can do that. Wait, quick question. "Can I take my Advil with a [Gluten-free] beer?"

Mom's response? "....... Sure! You're not going anywhere tonight." God, I love that woman more & more every day.

7/25/2008

A fool & her money.

Finally pay day arrived, & I registered for the Patriots Half today.

1.2 miles of lovely swimming.
56 miles of non-stop spinning on the bike.
1 mile of discombobulated running.
12.1 miles of run/walk on a pancake flat course.

Coach, put me in! I'm ready.

7/22/2008

The sun will come out.... tomorrow.

From a spectator perspective, Ironman weekend was grueling & enlightening. I lack the words to describe the whirlwind events of the weekend. I am going to try.

Friday:
Lake Placid is a gorgeous place. After 9 hours in the car, you would think that the first thing on my mind would be getting out of the damn car. Instead, I offered to drive Victoria through Lake Placid Main Street. She hadn't been to LP before, & it is quite a treat to see Mirror Lake from the top of the hill near the stone church.

The drive on Main Street was anything but relaxing. It was still beautiful, but it was extremely crowded. Part of the reason why I like Lake Placid are its rural setting & small community.

After I dropped off Victoria at the KOA, I drove along the IMUSA bike route to my rental house & met up with my housemates. After unpacking, I mentioned that I brought the goods to make brownies to Kerri. The look in her eyes was part crazed & part gratitude. Given that she fixed my hip & has been helping me keep it strong, I took a ride with Matty to get eggs & faux butter & started brownie-making. (mmmmm.... gluten- & dairy-free brownies.) They were gone in record time.

Saturday:
1.2 mile swim in Mirror Lake was fantastic. I felt a little congested about half-way through, but I trudged onwards. I finished the 1.2 in about 50 minutes without my wetsuit & while doing a lot of slow do-I-really-want-to-do-1.2-miles breaststroke. That's not so bad.

Hanging out with non-IM folks (how relaxing!!). Dinner & slideshow with the team. Grocery running for the house & now frantic Ironman athletes.

Sunday:
3am wake-up. Considering there was no grill until 6pm, I brought all the food that I'd need for the day to the Team Z tent. Victoria & I purchased chalk at Stewarts & started chalking the course. We wrote everyone's names, & every one was a little different. It was awesome!! (Though, I managed to misspell Michael, Stacy, & Behnke.)

We scuttled over to Mirror Lake to watch the mass start, & it started sprinkling a little. Then, it officially started raining. Victoria & I went back to the chalk site with a camera, but it was already gone. So, we meandered over to the first big incline on the bike start & cheered in the rain.

Having forgotten my umbrella in the car, I was soaked through. After two hours in the rain, I was shaking uncontrollably, & my fingers were purple. Victoria & I went to my car, nabbed the umbrella, went to the Olympic Center, squeezed the excess water out of our clothes, & got really, really, really cozy with a heat lamp that we found.

Then, we bought "Lake Placid" clothes next door. I love my new $23 fleece pants & $much-more hooded sweatshirt. Those kept me warm all day.

We caught up with Dan who offered to take us along the bike course while he took pictures of our team. Finally having gotten warm & dry, I couldn't keep my eyes open in the car. I napped for four (4!!!) hours while they took pictures. Then, we went back to Dan's house, threw our clothes in the dryer, & snacked.

Sometime around 5pm or 6pm, it finally stopped raining. Endurance raining at an endurance event... funny.

Once back at the Team Z tent, I grabbed Behnke's "Special Friend" ticket & trounced on over to get her bike & gear out of transition. That took much longer than I anticipated - maybe an hour?! I was late getting to the Finish Line for my volunteer event.

Around 830, I finally made it to the Finish Line to "catch" people completing their Ironman. We weren't given any instructions - Jana, Priscilla, & I made up our own rules. We asked important questions like "What's your name?", "How was your race?", "Do you want me to take you to food/medical?", "What size shirt do you want?" while wrapping the athletes like Mylar burritos. I only escorted Frank all the way to food (but that was more because he is my friend), & everyone else said they were okay (*cough*Liars*cough*).

Also, I got a front-row seat to Durst's proposal to Meredith just after he crossed the finish line. Woop-woop. They were so cute.

We had a ball at the Finish Line & standing in ~4-inches of water. Everyone who came through seemed a little squirrelly, exhausted, or completely normal. It was exhilarating to meet a bunch of friends at the end of Ironman. Hugs for everyone!!

Best job ever. (& no one vomited or collapsed on me either. I kept my trashbag/Iron-poncho on just in case.)

At 2am, I got home & peeled off my new clothes, made eggs for myself, John, & Kerri, showered, & hit the hay.

Monday:
I got up around 8am (or earlier), packed my stuff, listened to Ironman athlete stories, picked up Jenni, picked up Victoria's bike, picked up Victoria, & hit the road. Enroute, we said, "Look at this beautiful weather! This is bullshit!!! Let's get out of here." Ensue laughter.

9 hours later, we arrived in Arlington a little friendlier, a little smellier (if possible), & with big-ass happy-to-be-home grins on our faces.

***********************************************

Of all the places to do Ironman, Lake Placid is top on my list. However, I opted to not reserve myself a spot with my volunteer t-shirt. After seeing an actual Ironman & the pain that they go through, my resolve was a little shaken.

On a perfect day, Placid would be awesome & very difficult. The scenery is gorgeous & never stops being breathtaking. I love Lake Placid immensely, & I want to do IMUSA.

However, I know that I'm not ready. In theory, I "could" be ready in a year, but I've never completed a Half Ironman. I want to train for & complete one as a litmus test before signing up for Ironman. Mentally & physically, I'll be better prepared once I do that.

Lake Placid will be there. The race isn't going anywhere. I want to be prepared when I face those hills.

I'm sticking to the plan:
1. Train for & finish Patriots Half Ironman (a flat course) in September.
2. Feel good/not terribly broken.
3. Sign up for Ironman Florida (a flat course) in November for 11/2009.

That's the plan. I'm sticking to it.

7/15/2008

Help.... I've been glutened.

3 weeks without gluten. 3 weeks! I feel great! I have so much energy! Well... had. I had so much energy.

I've been trying to eat at restaurants lately, & I've found them either very accommodating or not at all. Basically, the waiter & kitchen staff try their damnedest. More often than not, I end up with some sort of contaminant. Mostly, it's extremely mild & passes quickly.

Today, it was not. They may as well have fed me a bowl of pasta with an alfredo sauce. Of all the things to be contaminated, I would NOT have chosen tortilla chips or a corn tortilla. I would've probably eaten one of those doughnut holes that Leila brought over last night. (Mmmm... Forbidden doughnut.)

Bastards. I feel like poo.

On that note, I need to make more meals at home. I don't know how I'd do this without good culinary skills.

**************************************

I should note that I fit into a size 6 at Banana Republic today.

Sweet.

7/13/2008

Falling through your clothes.

Friend Johta Ce had his 31st birthday party on Saturday. I was 1.5 hours later than I expected because I couldn't find anything to wear. Though not in the "girl" sense... more in the "none of my clothes fit anymore - seriously" sense. I can pull most of my pants & skirts out by 3 inches or more now.

I had to wear a dress that I bought for my 25th birthday - all it has to fit is my boobs, & we're set. It was a little big around the waist, but I got away with it.

My sister Kathy told me that the pounds would drip off me when I stopped putting my allergens into my system, but I wasn't expecting it to really happen.


*****
(Mom - Avert your eyes until next section.)

Also, playing flipcup with a mix of rum & water is not a good idea. It may be a gluten-free option, but kids, don't try it at home.

*****

In other news, I rode to & around Hains Point tonight. I'm faster than I used to be. & I'm starting to get comfortable in my aero bars. (Previously, I called the aero bars my $200 bottle holder because that's all they were.) I haven't gone aero on my long rides yet. Very soon.

7/09/2008

& Now, Pictures.

So, take a good, long look at the picture on the left. It's my one trophy for placing in triathlon (General Smallwood '07 - 2nd place Athena). It will probably also be my last.

"Why is that?" you ask. Because, darlin', I have to race age group from now onwards. My weight has dropped below 150.

It's taken me 2-3 years to drop what I amounted in 1.5 years of very bad eating, being overworked, going through a very messy breakup, temporarily moving to DC, returning to Florida, moving permanently back to DC, & drinking like the Irish (Guinness & lots of them).

Dude, I had never been that big. Ever. Now that I've lost 18-20 pounds, I surely never want to regain it.

I have pictorial evidence of my feet on the scale (for any non-believers). However, no one wants to see runner's toes. I need to paint those suckers if only to pretend that they're normal.

So... no more trophies, but I should become much faster now. :) I'm cool with that.


*******************************************


Also, 3 friends of mine & I completed the first annual Run Amuck race at Quantico MCB. Mud pits, faux barb wire crawls, really huge hills, & water hazards - it was totally awesome. I really appreciated the fire hose for washing off afterwards.

It was non-stop joking & giggling from some ungodly hour onwards. Good times.



Ladies who Run Amuck. We're a 4-pack of trouble.
Seriously.Posing with my well-earned finisher's coin.

The end.

Expect another post tomorrow if I don't have a new project at work.

7/08/2008

Cyclist killed 4 blocks from my apartment.

This morning, the yellow caution tape kept me from taking my normal route to the Metro. The police had blocked off Connecticut & R St NW. Perhaps something with Anonymous? They're out there protesting all the time in front of the Scientology building.

When I arrived at work, I got a message from my friend & neighbor Jeff that reads, "good you're online". Why the worry?

A female cyclist was struck by a garbage truck 4 blocks from my apartment. WaPo informs us the only details released thus far, which is that they were on R St NW & 20th St NW. That's actually an intersection of 20th St NW, R St NW, & Connecticut Ave NW. There's a lot of activity always going on there.

From an ABC News report, it comes out that the truck & the cyclist were riding in parallel with each other on R St NW. The cyclist was on the sidewalk. The light turned green, & the crosswalk light said "Walk". The cyclist rode into the crosswalk, & the truck turned right & turned into the cyclist.

I walk this route every day. There are many cyclists & commuters on bikes in my 'hood. Most of them ride in the street. This isn't a novelty. The garbage truck drivers? Most of them are extremely aware of their surroundings. In fact, we wave to each other every day.

As a cyclist, I would like to note that there is a bike lane on R St NW. Legally, she should have been in the bike lane (or the road). It may seem "safer" on the sidewalk, but it is actually safer for you to ride in the road. Trust me. It's safer to ride in the road. Especially in the city where there's a lot of activity on the sidewalks & on the road, it's safer in the road &/or bike lane.

The driver should have checked the sidewalks & crosswalks for oncoming traffic. As a city driver, you have to be hyper aware of the activities around you. This isn't the suburbs where you can watch for pedestrians or balls crossing the street every 10-15 minutes. It's constant vigilance that is required. He obviously missed her approach. She obviously didn't think he was going to run into her.

It was a horrible accident. I feel for her family, & I feel for the driver & his family.

***********************************

Cyclists & drivers, please keep aware of your surroundings. Never, ever assume anything.

Drivers, the cyclists aren't there to ruin your day nor are they trying to make you late. Keep patient. An opportunity to pass will come.

Cyclists, the 2000-lb steel car always wins.


For more information, please see:
http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0708/534131.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/08/AR2008070800975.html

For cyclist awareness, please do the test:
http://www.dothetest.co.uk/

7/07/2008

A curious turn of events.

Not exactly triathlon related, but bear with me...

On Sunday night, I checked my mail (finally) & found the following waiting for me: one copy of Tri-DC, one copy of Runner's World, & one copy of Outside, 2 postcards reminding me of my annual summer trips to doctors' offices.

Outside's cover was touting that this was their "2008 Where to Live Now" issue. Throwing my invisible dice in the air, I played the gambling game. You know the one.

As I climbed my stairs with my Cannondale, my mail (which slipped a few times), & my gear, I threw my weight behind my gamble. If it says what I think it'll say, I'll work harder for the move option. After all, it's Outside - how could it not list this extremely Outside town? Hell, how could it not list the entire state?

This wasn't as flippant as you are thinking. You see - I made a deal with myself in December/January. 2008 would be my last year in DC if I couldn't make it work. It's not easy living here. Everyone is extremely busy/preoccupied, it's expensive, & it's hard to date/make a good connection.

But you know me. I don't just give up. Giving up is for sissies. Plus, I could move & have the same damn issues in two years. It is classic mea culpa. Things don't change on their own. You have to institute change. You can't expect to become a better athlete by sitting on your heinie & wishing that it would happen. You have to get up & work on it. You can't move & expect it to solve all of your problems.

I got off my duff, & I started finding reason to love Washington, DC. If I was going to leave, I need to know exactly what the hell I was leaving behind. No grass is greener mentality without looking at both the positives & the negatives.

Since the decision & my corresponding personal call-to-arms, I've been much more invested here, & I am nearly falling in love with my city. I still get a mite downtrodden by city life, dating, Dupont parking nonsense, & a little homesick for my family. I do love it here, though. Seriously.

So, why did I throw my choice to glossy pages stuck together with crappy glue if I like it so much? Because I am a little bit crazy - but you knew that (*cough*triathlon*cough*). Also, I figured that this was the last effort in the "leave option". DC is quickly becoming my home - my very expensive, very odd, & sometimes very frustrating home. Plus, I was pining for my family when I opened my mailbox. & then I had to climb my goddamn 3 flights of stairs with my bike, gear, & mail. Ugh.

Go figure - I felt like moving.

After I placed my Cannondale back in its spot & I petted the cats, I sat down for a little glance through my new fate-decider. At first, I couldn't find the damn article. Then, there it was. Places 1-10 highlighted, & alternates boxed. I nearly dropped the magazine when I read the list.

Nowhere. No. Where. Did it mention where I thought. The state wasn't even listed. You wanna know what was Number 1 on Places to Live? Washington Motherfucking DC.

Washington, DC.

Well. Now don't that beat all? If ever there was a sign...

7/05/2008

Longest 4th of July Ever.

This 4th of July, I had a great plan for my escapades. First, I'd hang with the triathletes in Arlington. When 9 o'clock came around, I would jet over to the city & hang with non-athletes. After all, triathletes don't party toooooo late. The party would be ripe for leaving shortly after sundown.

Oh, how I underestimated them.

After an all-night marathon of Tour de France & a jaunt to Bob & Edith's (first time!), everyone crashed around 5am. I was up around 7 when Al the cat decided to make friends by whapping his tail in my face.

Needless to say, I missed my run on Saturday. Napping took priority. Sunday's bike ride was difficult too - Though, I think that has more to do with my nutrition.

Speaking of which, the gluten-free & dairy-free thing? It's as tough as gluten- & dairy-free bread. I accidentally glutened myself tonight with some Meyer Lemon sorbet. Wooo... headache & belly bloat.

Otherwise, I'm doing pretty well. I've never felt better, but I definitely need more energy. I've been seeing a nutritionist for this. I hope that we figure it soon.

*******

Shameless promotion: The latest issue of Tri-DC is out on the shelves. Pick a copy up.

7/01/2008

Did I dream it?

This morning, I must have not been firmly planted on the scale. It read 149.8. When I ran to get the camera, my next two hefty climbs onto the scale read 150.4.

At that point, I yelled at my glass weighing robot. What a tease. I haven't seen the 140s since I (temporarily) moved to Washington, DC in 2004/2005, & I worked incredible amounts of overtime & ate crap for 9 months.

140s - you are so close. So close.

Once I officially & consistently break the 150 barrier, I can no longer race Athena. That means - no more placing in races.

I can live with that. Totally.