Thursday, December 29, 2005

Life kicking my ass this week. TOO. MUCH. HAPPENING. Have not been under this kind of pressure at work in a long time... I did manage to get in a 5 mile run on Sunday and 2.5mi yesterday morning...but this Wednesday's post would read more like The Good, The Worse and The Worst. And I missed both of my swims which always makes me sad. So rather than dwell, let's just get thru it - eventually I'll get spit out the other end and things will improve. Licking my wounds and looking forward to January...

Knowing you all are out there makes my world seem a little bigger (or little less small...) So thanks!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Big Dog=Big Love

I hate to offend all you little (translate=wussie) dog lovers out there - my mom is one of them so that's proof that I really still love you's just if you're going to go thru the trouble and joy of having a dog, you might as well have one that you can get your arms around and give a big hug to. Here's ours next to the tree:

And just in case you need some reference - like you couldn't tell how big the tree is or you were confused by the insanely gigantic stockings hanging from the railing - here's da woofie with her other mumma:

Don't forget to hug all your loved ones today and every day.

Oh, and TRAIN HARD!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Happy Solstice!! One Day Early...

SOMEHOW I was keyed on December 22nd as being the solstice and marking that as the beginning of our emergence from the darkest days...but just now on my way in to work, my weatherman, Mark Breen (from the Fairbanks Museum in St. Johnsbury) announced that as of 1:35 pm today, we're guaranteed more light every day from here on out. YAY YAY YAY!!!! This day is way more significant to me than any other holiday of the year. It's the start of the yellow brick road leading to my Oz that is summer. Phew. Every year I wonder if I can hold on...and every year I manage somehow... I'm unwilling to trade living in the Northeast - I still think it's the best place to be - but I could do with a little more light, you know?

Today was my second ever morning run in the cold and dark. It was 3˚F, a balmy change from last week's -5˚F...and I remembered the neck warmer. My legs didn't freeze until about 20 minutes into it and by then there were only 10 minutes left so I survived. We're conserving heating fuel so are often chilled at 63˚F indoors but let me tell you how warm and cozy that is after being outside. There really is something to making yourself uncomfortable in order to remind yourself how truly comfortable you are.

Time for the weekly Power of Positive Thinking post:

The Good
Not much good about my training this week because it's all been GREAT. If I had to pick something on the lower end of good, I'd have to say it's the stress at work and the fact that I haven't had a spare second to christmas shop. I went shopping last night for about an hour and I struck out everywhere I went. Drat. Time to get really creative I think... Mom and Brother are taken care of but my Honey is a challenge. I'll figure it out. And even though work is crazy, it's going to calm down soon and then it will be smooth sailing until the spring. My job has the perfect cycle as it relates to's crazy from Oct until Jan when my training is at it's lowest (and when the days are darkest...but I'm so busy I hardly notice) and then it slowly tapers off to not much going on in June, July and August - racing season. It's just totally perfect. All I have to do is survive the next month and things will be all problem.

I'm on week two of sticking to the running and swimming plan of my half marathon training. I decided to add in one more early morning with my run so now Mondays and Fridays are the only 6:30am sleep-in days. Had two great swims this week even though I'm missing the presence of Weasel Boy. Things are on track and my mood is great.

I totally surprised myself with a full 5 mile run on Sunday. My plan called for 4 miles which I was sure I could pull off at an easy 11:30/12:00 min. pace but I went around the lake so I knew I'd have an extra mile to get all the way around and planned on walking. My mile splits kept coming in at 11:30ish and by the end of mile 3 I felt like I was just getting started...finished out the run in about 57 minutes and wasn't sore either. I'm really floored that I pulled this off because I have not been running regularly since August and I've put on about 10 extra was nice to realize that I still have it - and that my aerobic fitness wasn't my limiter...lung busters must be making a difference in the pool. Sweet...

The sky is really big at dawn...ever noticed that? Today the moon was bright enough that I could've run without streetlights. And I saw a spectacular shooting star. Very cool. Life is good.

Happy Solstice. Keep training hard...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Two more days to the middle of the tunnel...

This is how I've been feeling at work lately...I have a deadline of Friday the 30th to finish our 06-07 Product catalog and send it off to the printer and I'm only just getting the files I need from all over Europe to put it together. This holiday will be short and sweet, that's for sure! Sheesh... It's like I'm stuck in the mud and everyone around me is moving 9 million miles an hour...leaving me behind in my catalog hell. I'm in slow mo... The Christmas shopping hasn't really even commenced yet.... tonight...

Oh well. The good news is that I really do like my job and the challenges it presents. And I feel pretty motivated to train right now too - had a great run on Sunday and a great IM swim practice today...I really do love all four swim strokes now that I can do them all. I'm having a love-hate relationship with the backstroke but it's coming along. Today we used hand paddles for a set and I could really feel what was right and wrong about my backstroke catch and pull. I even had a few strokes of butterfly brilliance. It'll come - I can feel it. It's so cool when it's right... if you've ever rowed in a crew shell with 7 or 3 other rowers, you know what I'm talking about...when the set is perfect and the stroke rate is's like floating on air. I love that...

My mom gave me an early xmas gift of Going Long and I've been studying the swimming section...the stuff with stretch cords looks really good for strength and technique - I asked Coach about it this morning and she suggested buying some surgical tubing because you can get it cheaper than the fancy stretch cords with handles. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Ever done any stretch cord work?

Morning run in the cold, wind and snow forecasted for tomorrow morning...should be great. I'm totally looking forward to it and won't make the same rookie error and leave without the neck warmer.

Two more days until the 22nd when it starts to get lighter again...train hard!!

Monday, December 19, 2005


Mr. Double Entendre has tagged me to divulge 5 random things about me. Since 5 is better than 50 or 100 (kudos to those of you who were tagged with this task and rose to the occasion), I'm feeling thankful that I only have to come up with 5!! Here goes:

1.) In college, I studied rocks. I was a geology major...mostly hard rocks - igneous and metamorphic - not much patience for sedimentary "soft" rocks or paleontology...unless it was created from magma or lava, I found it kind of dull. Today I am a graphic designer for a ski distribution company. In between I taught preschool. How you connect the dots from rocks to preschoolers to design I have no idea...but that's how it ended up. And I LOVE my job... go figure...

2.) I fell in love with Julie Andrews/Maria Von Trapp when I was about 8 but didn't come out to myself until I was 22. And I can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards...but that's going a bit too far, don't you think?

3.) I am a knitter. I have one sweater in my closet that I have not knit but I've made all the rest. And I can't knit in the spring or summer but when September rolls around, my fingers literally itch to get yarn and needle clicking away...

4.) When I was around 13 my brother and I built a fort in the late fall and tied it all together with vines. The vines had no leaves on them but if they had, we would've realized they were poison ivy vines BEFORE we were sent home from school with poison ivy all over our hands and faces.

5.) The secret to the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich is to be sure to spread both PB and Jelly all the way to the edge of the bread/crust. I have perfected this technique over my short 33 years...

There you have it. There's no way I could've come up with 50 things...

Ran 5 miles yesterday and it felt great. Looking forward to the Wednesday morning jaunt in the cold and dark. I asked for a reflective vest and a LED headlamp from Santa so the mornings won't be quite so dark. And starting THIS THURSDAY the days will begin to get longer. I've almost made it...Halleluia!!! AND the best present ever is that the plumber came this weekend and changed out our 100 year old arterio sclerosis pipes for the new fangled PVC pipes and I no longer have to stand in tepid water while taking a shower. The drain is FIXED!!! Life is all good...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Good, Better, Best

I've heard myself spew a lot of negatives lately and I'd like to change that. "I can" will be replacing "maybe," "we'll see," "if I'm ready,"...on and on. Enough of that..

And in the spirit of accountability, I'm instituting a weekly Wednesday update much like Bolder's "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly" but with this positive twist I'm trying to embrace...rather than dwell on the bad and the ugly, we'll just call the ugly the good, the bad:better, and the good:best. That way there are no negatives...only degrees of good...and there will be warm feelings all around by ending with the goes:

The Good
On Monday I waited patiently at the computer for 9AM EST to roll around so that I wouldn't miss registration for the 15th Annual Covered Bridges Half Marathon next June. At 9:01 I logged into and registered, no problem - this race filled in a few hours last now I've got to start my run training for real since the race is officially on the calendar. I've planned out all my running from now until the race and it's doable..slow increases with every 4th week being a back off week and lots of swimming and cross training mixed in. No problem...

Well, I missed the Monday 2 mi. run because...well...just I was determined to not miss today's run. But my new job has made it so that lunchtime workouts aren't possible (yet) and I was pretty sure I wouldn't do it if I waited until after the only option was 5:30 am. In. The. Dark. UGH! Not only dark but 5 degrees BELOW zero. I pulled a rookie move and didn't dress well - you'd think after 10 winters I'd have an idea but you should know this is my VERY FIRST early morning run in the winter, EVER. Forgot the neck warmer and couldn't feel my face for the first 15 mintues. Lesson learned. And I felt a little like I'd never run before in my life. Things can only get better...

Now that we've moved down into town from off the mountain, I realized this morning that the route I run on is totally lighted the whole way with street lights! And the brightest ones are at good intervals so I can check my time and HR as I go by. Cool. There was no wind and NO ONE out on the road so it was peaceful and quiet. I was perfectly layered on top and had a warm head, hands and feet. BUT, aside from my face, my legs were FREEZING!! I'm pretty sure the folks at Title 9 Sports owe me a cup of cocoa as their Wisconsin Winter Training Pant certainly needs another layer under it when it's 5 below. After the first 15 mintues, my face thawed and I found a groove. The second 15 mintues was much more pleasant and 2+ miles were completed without much fanfare. YAY!

My first morning winter run in the dark is behind me!! AND: IT. WAS. AMAZING!! The stars were beautiful, I could see the outlines of the mountains and it was so quiet and peaceful. It wasn't anywhere near as unpleasant as I expected and I felt like a rockstar for being the only one out there brave enough to be out there. I'm tempted to go again on Friday but it's not in the plan and I want to savor it a bit...make it a treat to go every Wednesday morning and keep myself looking forward to it. It was such a positive experience that I want to keep it special for awhile. It's great to look forward to a workout. And I've finally caught up on my sleep so when the alarm went off at 5:30, I was ready to go. And I had time for a hot, healthy breakfast that will hopefully start me on my way to Skinnypantsville. It's nice to not rush thru the morning. And now, as I sit at my cozy little desk with the sun streaming thru my window, I can relax guilt free because day one of the half marathon plan is behind me. YEEEEEHAAWWW!! Thank the goddess..

OK, so what do you cold weather runners wear? I'm especially interested in the lower body clothing (tights? polypro? somthing with low bulk..) as well as socks and mittens/gloves. My hands were warm today in my polar fleece mittens but they were pretty soggy by the end of the half hour. Once I work up to 1 hr. plus, soggy hands aren't going to fly. And does anyone have any good suggestions for face covering? It's a fine balance between warm and dry and sweating (which ususally equals soaking...) Trimama, Shelley, Julie Berg and Phil...I'm counting on you guys for some good advice!!


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Departure of Weasel Boy

I'm pretty sad. Weasel Boy and his lovely wife are moving back to Britain on Tuesday. I think I'm going to tell him he can't leave until he finds me another equally brilliant training partner. Heavy sigh. At least his priorities are in the right place...his bus leaves at 1pm on Tuesday but his car will be gone to it's new owner and his lease is up so he's staying at a hotel on Monday night...and he asked me yesterday if I would pick him up on Tuesday morning to take him to swimming! Good ol' Weasel Boy. Gotta get that last practice in... He'll be back...I'd bet money on it..

And now for your daily nonsequitur: I'm on a RENT kick...can't get the music out of my head and can't WAIT for the movie to get up here to the rural northeast. This show inspires me on so many levels but this verse in particular brings out the fire in my belly to train harder and stay on the proverbial wagon.

There's only us.
There's only this.
Forget regret,
Or life is yours to miss.
No other road.
No other way.
No day but today.

Go see this show if you get the chance...and in the meantime, see the movie...many of the actors in it are from the original broadway cast, including Jesse L. Martin from Law and Order as Tom Collins...

Train hard my friends. There's no day but today...

Monday, December 05, 2005

Swim Meet Final Results

Since we left early yesterday we didn't see the final standings...John had predicted a hopeful Top 15 finish and he was right!! We ended up 14th out of 39 teams!!! So exciting for us! It was a first ever meet for two of us and a first masters meet for 3 of us...and of course it helps that our coach won first place in all of her events, gained us a ton of points and actually broke her own national masters record in the 100 Breast stroke by 6/100ths ofa second. Way to go Coach!!

Our men (Nick/WB and John) took 17th overall out of 31 Men's teams...and we (Coach, Karen and I) also took 17th overall out of 30 women's teams. Pretty good showing for a bunch of rookies! We're all scheming about how to convince at least another 4 members to come to the next meet in February. It's closer to home and only one day long so we're hopeful. Going for a top 10 finish!!

Everyone is sending me their pictures so hopefully I'll have a few more to post over the next few days. Thanks for all the good words of encouragement and congrats!

50 Meter Freestyle Video

OK, here's the promised link. Hopfully this will work. I'm the one with the blue CCBS cap and green suit - in the middle of the frame. When I start, I don't grab the block but just hang my arms down...still working on start technique...right now it's just about not falling off the block...I'll get there. The audio is hilarious as you can hear my teammates and mom cheering for me...then Weasel Boy, who shot it, says "flip" right at my turn and then cheers when I flip. Too funny. I'm so thankful to him for shooting this as it's VERY cool to be able to watch yourself. OH, and thanks to Bolder and Elizabeth at Run With Me for video help. OK, feedback on whether or not this works is welcome...enjoy!!

comment: I just watched it and the audio is a little's not as funny when Weasel boy says "flip" AFTER I've already flipped. oh well...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Swim Meet Post #3 - Freestyle Relay

OK, had to run off and warm up for our 200 Freestyle relay. This one is SUPER fun because you just haul a$$ for 50 meters and then cheer for your teammates...I lead off (Coach put me first because she said I have good reaction time off the blocks - but I also think it's because I'm the pokiest of the 4 of us!! Leave it to her to help me feel important...)

So I was hoping to hold my time for my 50 freestyle yesterday - 0:39 seconds - but I came in at about :41. There is an element of triathon prep in this - you definitely have to plan ahead for the second day and not bonk.

We finished second in our heat - John pulled out a whopping 0:29 to anchor us on the last leg. It was INcredible how fast he was. He caught up to the woman next to him by almost an entire length...she was at the flags at the other end when he started and he beat her back to the wall. amazing. We beat the only team in our heat in our age group so hopefully that will be good for our points standing.

Everyone's done now - Coach, Karen, and Weasel Boy just finished the 50 breast - Weasel boy finally caught a break in the seeding and ended up in lane 4 with the fastest seed time...then he won the heat!!! I'm telling you, even though it doesn't mean you WON, it's still SO FUN to see your lane number with a #1 next to it!

John just reported we're holding steady at 19th place...

We're gonna hit the road since it's snowy and will take us forever to get home. Thanks for tuning in...i'll do a wrap up with more pics tomorrow and see if i can figure out how to post the "video" of my 50 free swim.

SO, first swim meet: CHECK!

Later ya'll!

Swim Meet Post #2

l to r, Johh, Coach Barbara, Karen, Weasel Boy (Nick) and me with my Through the Wall "SWIMBIKERUN" baseball T - which I got a ton of compliments on Wil!)

Yesterday when we left the point totals put us in 23rd place out of 49 teams. The more folks you bring to compete, the more points you get for each event swum so we're doing pretty well for only having 5 of us! Today has moved along faster than yesterday. I think there are fewer people here so that makes a difference. We started off at Driscoll's Restaurant where the motto is "Good Food, Good Friends, Good Times" and we had mostly all of that. The food was the least exciting...

Then it was to the pool in a snowy morning mess. Supposed to get 2"-4" today and tonight so the ride home will be interesting. We jumped in to warm up as soon as we got here because the first event was the 100 Freestyle and Weasel Boy, Karen, John and I all swam that. I took 2nd place in my heat and held my time from yesterday's 400 Freestyle relay (1:30.34) so I'm happy. I flipped on the first turn and then bagged the second two flips. Folks in the balcony reckon that had I flipped I might've been first but the #1 girl was pretty far ahead of me so I'm not so sure. I didn't feel quite as strong as yesterday...there's something pretty gruelling about the two day encouraged us to drink a lot of water yesterday and I'm so glad I listened to her.

Then it was quickly on to the 100 Breast for me and Coach. I did fine - I was 6th in my heat...the way heats work (if you don't care, skip to the next paragraph!) is that they take the entire list of seed times and start with the fastest person. Then they just group you by 8 (because there's 8 lanes) right down the list (there were like 62 entrants in this event). So it's a little bit luck of the draw where you end up in your might be the fastest of your 8 and then you get one of the middle three lanes - or the slowest and you end up in lane 1 or 8 on the edges. I was the fastest of my 8 for the 100IM and the second fastest for the 50 Free - then I was in lane 6 for the 100 Free so I must've been 4th or 5th of my 8 ...then for the 100 Breast I was in lane 7 so I think I was the 6th slowest out of 8. SO..that's how that works...I was happy with both my 100 Free and 100 Breast times as they were consistent with my seed times and with my times yesterday. It's all good...

Now that we've swum the above events, we're in 15the place out of 49!!!

Right now we're waiting for (OOPS - no more waiting...i'll be back in a few)...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Swim meet post #1

OK!! I'm up and running...took awhile to find a good wi-fi spot...there's something about being in a building made entirely of concrete - seems to work fine at the top of the bleachers but not at the bottom.

ANYWAY...things are going great! Got here with my mom (one of our two fans) at a perfect time...things weren't too crazy..that's how I like to get to transition to set up too...before things get too wild. Weasel Boy, in true form, showed up about 30 seconds before the cutoff for checking in. The pool is nice but there aren't too many windows so it feels a little like a bunker. But it's FAST!! it has those sweet overflow gutters so there's so much less resistance at every wall. and it's cool - like 80 degrees cool so it just feels FAST. Weasel Boy's camera hooks up to this sweet laptop so we're able to give you real time photos too! here's the pool:

The day started off with the 100IM and I came in first in my heat! the final results are up and i was 6th out of 8 in my age group. At masters meets you seed yourself by time so you race against people that have similar times as you. Then the totals come in for your age...makes for more exciting and less demoralizing races since masters swimmers are often at very differnt levels.

Here's my IM start. I almost fell off the blocks - lost my balance at the last second but I'm told that someone else was wobbling even more so the judges didn't see me - luckily I caught myself just in time...I'm just to the right of the white diving board post with the blue CCBS suit

The 100 IM was great - it was over so fast but my fly felt really good and that's what I was most worried about. I did all my turns legally and felt like they were efficient...I swallowed half the pool on the fly to back transition and then didn't have enough air to do a good pullout on the breaststroke leg but it felt really good and the score board said I was first!! Really, all that means is that I didn't seed myself very well. I swim in a 25 yard pool and this is a 25 meter pool so the conversions don't always work that well. Now i'll have a good benchmark to work from with my race times.. Here's my finish...I guess I was pretty far ahead but that's a good thing, mostly because most of my competitors were 15+ years older than me!! Oh well...I'm the on out in front...

Then it was Weasel Boy's turn for the 100 IM. He had a great start and a great fly length and looked fantastic...BUT, on his first turn - fly to back - he pushed off for the back on his stomach and got DQed. DRAT!! He ended up winning the heat so he has a good reference time now but the DQ was unfortunate. I'm telling you, if you practice it right every time, it'll be automatic. I didn't have time or the wits to think about my turns but the procedural memory I've been imprinting got me thru clean. Here's Weasel boy just before the start (in the back/middle with CCBS blue cap):

John did great in the 100 IM and a backstroke event and Weasel Boy and Coach both did the 200 Breast. Coach was third in her heat but most of the people were much YOUNGER than her so I'm guessing she won her age group. Weasel Boy did AWESOME!! He came from 5th to 3rd in the last 50 of the race - his pace was perfect - didn't go out too fast and then finished really strong.

Then I swam the 50 Free and came in first in my heat again!! This time it was MUCH closer and coach said the only reason I won was that I put my head down at the last flags and didn't breathe for the last few strokes...I won by a very narrow margin...but I was still only 6th out of 9 in my age group. Still, it's really fun to be #1 on the scoreboard!! It was a huge PR for me because it was 0:39 in a METERS pool when I couldn't get under 0:40 in a YARDS pool last week. Weasel Boy got the whole thing on video so we'll see if we can post that too...but maybe later...

Then we did the 200 Medley Relay. I swam Back, WB Breast, John Fly and Karen Free. We came in 4th in our heat but the results aren't up yet for the totals.

John is about to swim the 400 IM, a KILLER race...we'll see how it goes. He's an AMAZING swimmer so I expect he'll do great. Here he is swimming backstroke. He's the one in the middle with his arm straight up and the CCBS cap. Doesn't he look fast!??

Coach just said we moved up in overall standings to 26th out of 44 masters teams. NOT TOO SHABBY, eh?

OK, more later...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The New Sidebar Video Craze

OK, ya'll. I've tried updating Safari. I've loaded the latest version of Firefox. I'm about to update my OS. But I still can't load your sites if you've got fancy new code that plays music and video in your sidebar. So far I've missed recent blogs by Shelley and Flatman...Bolder's site seems to load since the re-vamp but I can't explain why. Is this a Mac issue that I'm doomed to have to endure? Or something that this particular computer is having issues with? I'm on a fast DSL connection so I can't imagine that I'm just being impatient waiting for it to load. And I feel confident that the video is the issue because Flatman deleted his for a bit so I could test it out and sure enough, as soon as the video was gone, the site loaded just fine. Anyone have any thoughts about what I can try next? Wil? Trimama? you guys are on Macs, right? Am I the lone ranger on this one or have others experienced similar issues? HELP!!!

Feeling the PAIN

It was quite a battle to get myself to the pool today but mission accomplished. Coach put me and Weasel Boy in our own lane and we got to do pre-race prep rather than the crazy hard IM practice everyone else did (our two other racers didn't show today). Basically we swam our events at 90% effort with 6 lenghts of recovery in between each event. It looked like this for me - Weasel Boy is swimming the 200 breaststroke so he had to do a 200 as well:

400 warmup with no fins (they won't let you have any equipment when you warmup at the meet so I had to skip the fins today)

100 Free @ 90%: 1:30
150 EZ
100 Breast @ 90%: 1:47
150 EZ
100 IM @ 90%: 1:45
150 EZ
50 Free @ 90%: 0:40
150 EZ
50 Free @ 90%: 0:40 (it is SO hard to take just one second off this time!!)

Then we did 2x25 with starts from the blocks - I did Fly on the first and Free on the second. I'm as ready as I'm gonna be for this. It should be fun. OH, and Wheaton College apparently has Wi-Fi so I'm hoping I can provide event by event real time results for you all while we're sitting around enjoying the meet. Be sure to tune in on Saturday and Sunday to see how it's going....

After I swam the 100 Breast, I commented that I felt slow. Coach smiled and said, "You've just got to learn to tolerate the pain." You know, she's right. So much of my training is done in relative comfort...for the run and the bike too. I'm not afraid to push myself to pain, I just don't do it. "Most of the people, most of the time, choose comfort." I really think that this aversion to pain is one of the many things that hold me back on my journey to improve at the sport of triathlon. It's almost time for new year's resolutions but I'm moving up the time line. I want to embrace the pain...because it's so much sweeter when you come out makes it all worth it. And thankfully you forget what it felt like during, but you'll always remember what it felt like afterward. Victory is sweet.

I think it was Wil who posted this quote awhile back and I put it on my cube wall to read every day. I think it applies to my quest for pain...

What we have is based upon moment to moment choices of what we do.
In each of these moments, we choose.

We either take a risk and move toward what we want,
or we play it safe and choose comfort.

Most of the people,
Most of the time,
Choose comfort.

In the end, people either have
excuses or experiences;
reasons or results;
buts or brilliance.

They either have what they wanted
or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not.

I'm chuckin' my list.