Monday, March 27, 2006

SCY Championships, Final Meet Results

Wrapped up the meet on Sunday with an 18th (out of 46) place finish overall and a 13th (out of 40) place finish in New England!! We managed to pick off CT Masters after swapping 18th/19th place with them all day. They didn't have anyone entered in the final 200 Free relay so we capitalized there and got the points we needed to take 18th. It was so much fun but so exhausting. Don't let anyone ever tell you that swimming in not an endurance sport. By the end of the second day (third day for four of us) it was like the last few miles of the run in triathlon. I'm SO sore today...everywhere. Amazing what a little adrenaline will do for you. Here are the official results (we're CCB Masters) if you want to take a look:

Combined Team Scores - New England Masters

Our 7 women took 10th place out of 34 teams so we were very psyched to capture a top ten spot. Coach won just about every event in her age group and Mary was pretty much at the top in all of her backstroke events. The rest of us managed to contribute points here and there and the relays definitely helped our standing. Look here for women's results.

Together Nick and John, our only men, captured 18th place out of 33 teams...both are in really tough age groups and there were only two of them so we were all very impressed and grateful that they swam so well. It was really great to see Nick, aka Weasel Boy... he's settling in nicely in Belfast but hopes to make it back to visit again soon. I really miss my faithful training partner. Here are their results.

We were able to record just about every race with Karen's sweet camera - I've uploaded these two for you viewing enjoyment but if you're on a dial up connection beware that they are pretty big files. Some of the shorter races are harder to see and don't really have a whole lot of value in terms of watching good or bad technique so I haven't posted was hard to get close enough to really see what strokes looked like. If you want to see a particular race let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Here is my epic 200 IM race - I'm in the yellow cap, dark suit, in the second lane from the wall at the bottom of the frame. I survived but I think it was just about the hardest thing I've ever done in my young swimming career. The fly went well - much better than I anticipated actually - but by the time I got to the second length of breast stroke I was DYING for air. Everything - every muscle, my lungs, all of it - was SCREAMING for oxygen... I was glad when it was over but I was struck by the same feeling I get when I cross a triathlon finish line.... "when can I do it again because I KNOW I can get better at it." I finished in 3:41. I'm no longer afraid...just fired up to do it better. Next time.

And here is the 200 women's medley relay - middle of the frame, yellow caps. Cynthia led off with the backstroke and at 76 years of age, she kept up with the others in our heat who were all at least 20 years younger than she. She did GREAT, as you'll see. Then Karen smoked the breast stroke lengths. But my favorite part is when Milkshake Girl takes off for the fly lengths - take a look at where the swimmer in the lane to her left is when she leaves the the time she's back at the wall, she's caught up almost an entire half length...then I finished off with the freestyle lengths and we won the heat!! It's so much fun swimming relays... At this meet, your relay is grouped based on the youngest swimmer of the 4 so we were in the 25+ age group...and had 28, 33, 44, and 76 year we were ultimately last in our age group but you still get a lot of points for last place relays so every little bit helped!!! It was a BLAST.

I'll have more to share but this is all I can manage right now. Hope you all had a great weekend and were able to spend some time outside. Spring is on the way!!!!

Train hard...

The Team

Saturday, March 25, 2006

LIVE!! From Harvard University, Blodgett Pool

OK, well not quite live. There was no wi-fi at the pool as I had anticipated so I couldn't bring you live updates. Sorry about that. At the end of day 2, we are holding strong in 19th place. Turns out that last weekend there was a day of distance events...1000 yards, 1650 yards know, super long stuff that only crazy people like triathletes are willing to race. So there are at least 6 teams that started the day on Friday with 500 points. So we don't have any chance of catching them...they're already up to 2000 points (one team has 93 swimmers) so we can't compete with that (we only have 9). So out of 58 teams, we'll settle for 19th...for now. There's a chance we could sneak up to 18th - the team ahead of us is only 49 points up - but instead of a top 10 finish, I think we'll have to settle for a top 20 finish. We need more swimmers. We spent most of dinner scheming ways to recruit more people. We've devised several plans to convert the fence sitters and I think we should come up with an incentive plan for recruiting... yeah, that could work...

Anyway, before I knew that there was no wi-fi, I had Weasel Boy film a little video for you all so here it is...I was thinking about everyone and wishing I could keep you updated....

Don't you think I should pursue sportscasting?? heh.... And how fun is my t-shirt? Got it from a GREAT gal who happens to be dating my SUPER brother. My family loves me...

Let's see - results for me so far...My first event was the 200 Breastroke which wasn't as hard as I thought it would be - which means I could've pushed harder!! Finished that in 3:34:88. A good baseline for now. I beat my PR times from the Exeter meet in the 50 Free and the 100 IM... 50 Free came in at 37:12 - but I swam the freestyle 50 in the 200 Medley Relay and posted a 36:02 so that made me happy - even faster. In the 100 IM I swam a 1:33:97, up from a 1:36:98 - 3 seconds faster is no small feat for me!! Cool. And in the 400 Freestyle relay, I swam the second leg of 100 Free in 1:22:96 up from 1:23:69.

My favorite part of the day was at the very end...I had noticed a man that for some reason looked familiar...he was kind of limping around though and I hadn't seen him swim...but the longer I looked at him, the more I became convinced I knew him from somewhere. Finally, I got up the nerve and asked, "Is your name Okolo?"

He looked at me like I was some crazy person with ESP - definitely didn't recognize me - and replied with, "Yes! How did you know that?"
"I'm Spence from the Tri Blog alliance!"
Then I think he realized who I was (or else he did a really good job of pretending and not hurting my feelings) and we had a moment. He's been swimming in Masters meets for almost a year now so hopefully he'll continue and I'll get to see him again. Turns out he's got some IT-BS going on and he's training for the Boston Marathon so he'd run 20 miles this morning and then came to the meet this afternoon!! Only a triathlete could pull it off.... Very Cool. It was great to meet him...albeit a little surreal. He's on the Andover team and they're one of the ones with lots of points coming in - he swam the 1650 free distance last weekend. It's so all about the points... even he says so! My first tri-blog meeting. It's a small small world...

Tomorrow I'll swim the 100 Free, 50 Breast, and (gasp) 200 IM. Ouch. I think it's going to hurt a lot. And also the 200 Freestyle Relay at the very end of the day. Should be interesting!!

OK, gotta go close my eyes before they close for me... it's been a long but very fun day. I'll post more videos on Monday when I'm back at high speed at home and once we leave the hotel I'll be sans wi-fi. Drat. I've become quite reliant on it...

Hope everyone is having a great weekend and that the weather is behaving. Train hard!! And make sure to Go Swim at some point!!! Make them eat wake...

Friday, March 24, 2006

After 17 Events...

We're holding strong in 22nd place after the last event today. They pulled out a first place finish in the 400 Medley Relay!!! Mary finished a strong 4th in the 200 Free, Coach won her age group in the 100 Breast and despite totally crazy competition in his age group, Weasel Boy managed to post some really impressive times in the 200 free and 100 Breast - beating his seed times by a mile!! We're headed to dinner... tune in tomorrow for the excitement!!!

Peace Out-

After 10 Events....

We've moved up from 30th place to 22nd place out of 46 teams. Good news with only 4 swimmers!! Here's the rundown so far:
John - 400 IM - 4/8 for 13 points
Mary - 200 Back - 2/11 for 15 points
Mary - 50 Fly - 13/19 for 4 points
Coach - 50 Fly - 4/11 for 13 points
John - 50 Fly - 7/13 for 10 points.

200 Free is happening right now but I can't get the scoreboard to refresh... Nick (Weasel Boy) is swimming it - then there are some breastroke events that coach is sure to win her age group in. Rack up the points baby!!!

Greetings Swim Fans!!

YEEEEEHAAAWWW !!! I’m not at the meet yet – going down tonight but four of our intrepid teammates are already racing and from the results posted so far, we have a 4th place finish for 13 points from John in the 400 IM. COOL!!! That’s an insanely tough race and he was 4th/8 in his age group so we’re off to a great start! YEAH baby!!

If you want to watch the action go here and you can load either the live scoreboard or the live webcam. The webcam isn’t all that impressive – it’s small and moves slowly but it’s still cool none-the-less.

If you want to see results, you can go here. You’ll need to know who to root for so download our roster by clicking on ‘Athletes (by team)” and scrolling down to “CCB Masters”…except Natalie isn’t on our team. She must’ve entered the wrong workout group…we were considering making t-shirts that say, “Where’s Natalie?” or “Who’s Natalie?” but didn’t have time. She’s our invisible swimmer.

Anyway, I’ll try and post more updates tonight and/or tomorrow to keep you apprised of the situation. We told our four teammates competing today that we expected to be in the top 20 by the end of the day – we’ll see what happens!

Oh, and a notable non-sequiter…to my HUGE dismay it was announced yesterday that Adam Vinatieri has signed with the Indianapolis Colts. Freakin’ TRAITOR!!! Maybe he and Johnny Damon should get together and go bowling or something. Pro sports make me so crazy…I’m not sure why I even bother. I’m so bitter. Stupid kicker boy. Why oh why did I ever think you were a hero???

OK, now that that’s out of my system, time to head to Bean Town and put it all on the line…er, starting block!!

Have a great weekend everyone!!!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Working the Taper

I haven't felt much like posting this week...been focused on the swim meet that's coming up this weekend. I'm trying not to be afraid...I signed up for the 200 IM and I know full well it's going to kick my ass...but I'm doing it anyway and I'm sure I'll survive, no matter how ugly it gets.

Milkshake Girl, her husband and I came up with a new design for our team and we've had caps and sweatshirts made so we'll look all slick and matching at the meet. We're the "Upper Valley Stingrays" - Upper Valley because that's what folks call the Upper CT River Valley which is where we live...and Stingrays because it's a fish and the USS team at our pool is the Swordfish so we thought we'd stick with the fish theme. Then when you shorten it, you get "UV Rays" which we thought was a fun play on the logo, as you can see, has the ray with sunglasses on. We thought it was clever anyway...

This is a swim taper week which I've discovered doesn't mean very much in terms of swim volume. We did a little less yardage and some speedwork yesterday so it was nice to ramp things down a bit BUT I've also had a bit of a chest cold thingy so after my long run on Saturday I decided to cancel my early morning runs this week...and I'm heading to the meet on Friday so I won't be at my spinning class either. And I actually feel really antsy, which I'm assuming is good. That's the point of taper, right? I hope so. I took Monday off altogether to beat this lung I think I'm at about 98% of better so by Saturday I should be great. I'm starting to feel like all my workouts are amounting to a net gain...for awhile I felt like I was paying off a debt...getting caught up...and now I finally feel like I'm saving and getting's all good...

Weasel Boy is coming over from across the big pond (Ireland!!) to swim with us so I'm totally psyched for that...there are 9 of us this time instead of 5 so we're planning on a major coup and grabbing a top 10 finish. We were 14th/39 teams at the December meet so it's not out of reach. My coach is a world ranked swimmer and there are two others on the team that are nationally ranked backstrokers in their age groups. The great thing about masters swim meets is that everyone who swims contributes points for the team, no matter what place you come in...but you get the most points for being in the top three of your age group.

I just spent another half hour working my butterfly problem...I recently switched to some smaller Zura fins and they've certainly helped me get stronger but they've also shown me my weaknesses and my fly stroke is one of them...after watching, Coach suggested that I push in more with my chest so that my hips rise and the dolphin motion is exaggerated...and what do you know?? IT WORKED!!! So now I'm feeling all kinds of better about my fly and I'm ready to tackle the 100 and 200 IM. And maybe at the next meet I'll attempt the 50 fly. We'll see...

AND, the guy that I shared my lane with just now was an amazing swimmer and I could tell that he was swimming sets with the on one of his rest intervals I asked him if he swam with a masters team and he said he used to but it got too expensive (over at Dartmouth) so he doesn't but wished he did...but he REALLY wants to go to meets so I think I convinced him he should join us...but not for this meet, unfortunately. His daughter swims on the USS team so I'll sic Coach on him and I'm sure he'll sign up... YAY!! I'm always jazzed for new swimmers, especially excellent ones!!

This gray, cold weather is really trying to get me down but so far I've managed to focus elsewhere. Coupled with the fact that I'm restricting my calorie intake to 1800-2000/day, I've been a little cranky. It's amazing though how a blast of carbs can turn it all around. I'm trying to pay really close attention to my blood sugar levels so we'll see how it goes. Trying to eat really good quality foods... so far so good.

No daffodil/apple blossom pics today - they need another week to progress for you and the gray is just too gray... next week...

So for not having much to say, this is a pretty long post. I think there's a live feed from the swim meet and there's definitely wi-fi so if you can't get to the live feed, I'll hopefully be posting real time results all weekend. More details to follow.

Train hard!!!

ps. check out Bolder's bling if you haven't already... NIIIIICCCCE

Friday, March 17, 2006

What do you expect?

I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile…since last summer actually. Last July during my big A race of the season I crashed my bike. It was a dumb crash - I was reaching for my water bottle and I lost my focus for a split second, my front wheel hit a crack in the pavement and I was on the road before I knew what had happened. I landed directly on my head and cracked my helmet all the way thru…but the benefit of that was that I had hardly any road rash and no broken bones - my helmet took the brunt of the fall. A few scrapes and a pretty swollen elbow was all I had to show for it, thankfully. After I’d gotten up and decided I could continue, I looked over my bike but couldn’t get my front brakes to work correctly and didn’t feel safe riding with them not engaging all the way…so I bailed and got my first DNF - in my A race of the season. It sucked. I don’t want to feel that way again. I think everyone has to feel it at some point. It’s kind of inevitable in this sport…

But what I believe was the reason for the crash is what I’ve been thinking about in a lot of areas of my life. See, I live right on the bike course, I’d ridden it the previous year and about a dozen times that spring in preparation for this race. I knew what to expect so I was calm and I think I let the confidence turn to complacency. The place where I crashed was a section of road that is exceptionally bumpy…there are frost heaves, cracks in the pavement parallel to skinny bike tires, there’s gravel…and we were warned about the road 2 or 3 times…there was even a flyer in the race packet describing this section of road and that great care should be taken…and prior to the start, we were warned again over the megaphone. But I knew the course, I expected I’d ride on thru like I had a dozen times, I would be fine. Expectation got the better of me.

I don’t think I’d have made this mistake on a course that I didn’t know. Expect the unexpected, right? I relied on what I knew from experience, not from what was happening right at that second. Bad idea jeans…

Expectation is something that I’m constantly battling. I need to remind myself every day to temper my expectations, make them realistic, make back up plans for when the unexpected comes up… because I’ve spent a lot of time being disappointed about stuff that didn’t turn out like I’d planned. And always when I look back and try to figure out what went wrong I realize that I would not have been disappointed had my expectations been different going in.

Here’s a perfect example…it was only a minor disappointment but you’ll remember a few weeks ago I started going to spin classes again. That first class rocked - my favorite spinning instructor Ann always teaches that class - she’s got great music and always offers a great workout. The next week when I went again, I was all set to groove but upon arriving, one of my least favorite instructors who plays awful spinning music (you remember, Candle in the Wind? Benny and the Jets?) was there instead. ARGHHH. I almost bagged my whole workout just because this guy was there instead of Ann. I did the workout anyway and it went fine…BUT, had my expectation been something more like “This will be a great workout, regardless of who’s teaching….” or “I’m going to expect that Brian is there and then I’ll be thrilled when it’s Ann or someone else I like…” then the disappointment won’t happen. It’s all about how you set yourself up.

It’s like expecting great sex on your 20th anniversary…yeah, it could happen but FOR CRYIN’ OUT LOUD, you’ve been together for 20 YEARS…what makes you think it’ll be THAT much better on THAT day!!?? But change the expectation to “let’s have a nice romantic dinner, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate our love”…and disappointment is averted by having that mind set going in…and I’d wager the great sex would follow naturally…

Triathlon is a great way for me to practice staying in the moment and avoiding disappointment because of unrealistic expectations. There’s a lot about it that I can’t control: the person who kicks my goggles off on the swim, the guy in transition who knocks my bike over or mistakenly steps on my sunglasses, the potholes on the bike course or someone who crashes in front of me, the weather - heat, rain, fog or wind…but in triathlon, I can practice dealing with all these things as they arise…and by EXPECTING that they WILL arise, I’m prepared to handle them. The danger comes when I expect things will go a certain way…so the best way to prepare is to expect the unexpected. In effect, to NOT expect. I’d do well to practice this in a lot of other areas of my life too…

And I don’t mean to suggest that one should have low expectations, should never risk anything in order to avoid disappointment. No, no, no, not at all… only that expectations, if I have them at all, should be realistic… just like goals. I think you can have hopes for a race, perhaps to expect a top 10 finish (or for me, to finish in the top 75%) but you can’t let those expectations cloud your ability to adjust on the fly. Ultimate flexibility, adaptability, will always set you up for success. Tunnel vision should be avoided at all costs.

I don’t know how the race will go this year. I know I’m going to get out on the course again at least a dozen times and I also know that I will cover that nasty section of road with trepidation at least for the first 6 times I ride it. But I’m going to try my hardest to take it as it comes and not make any assumptions or have any expectations about how it’s going to go. I don’t want to get too comfortable. I want to stay sharp, to remain open to what could happen and to be prepared to be flexible. If I can do those things, I can’t go wrong.

Expect the unexpected.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Roller Coaster Ride Begins

65˚F and sunny on Sunday...outside bike ride...

31˚F and snowing this morning at 7am...outside run postponed until tonight. Crawling back in bed is such a luxury...

Now for the Wednesday daffodil/apple blossom update... Everyone has grown a bit this week but they all looked so sad poking thru this morning's snow. This is the most scary time because super cold temps could ruin things...if it stays above 20˚F or so they'll be fine... It's a rocky ride for these troopers. They seem so hopeful to me... what do they say..."hope springs eternal..."

Da Woofie was psyched to romp in the snow at least. She's so funny - she has to sniff out every single cat track she finds...not just the track, but every print...and she does this by cramming her nose all the way into the snow... very cute.

Here's the apple tree... let's hope the snow will be gone by this afternoon... I'm tired of this view (although the blue sky against the white is very pretty)!!!

Dryland and swimming tomorrow...our new custom caps and sweatshirts are in!!! VERY exciting... we'll be the fashionistas of the meet.

Train hard!!

Monday, March 13, 2006

March Miracle

You'll never guess. OK, you might guess. But if you've ever lived up here in the Northeast you'd understand how huge this was.
On Saturday.

OUTSIDE, PEOPLE!!!! Do you have ANY idea how great it was to get out on the road on my trusty steed?? OK, I'm sure some of you know because it was your first day out this year too...but see, IT'S MARCH in VERMONT...that old saying "in like a lion..." yeah, doesn't apply up here. Last year we didn't have leaves on the trees until the second week in MAY. "In like a lion, out like a rhino"...then there's like a tiger, usually out like a hyeena...but no one is ever laughing...and then BOOM, all of a sudden it's summer. Last May, I think we had 4 days above 50˚F. It rained the whole month and when it wasn't raining, it was snowing. So you can kind of understand WHY I was SO PUMPED to get to ride my bike for an hour and a half in MARCH. Holy cow!!! Amazing ride. My legs are a little further along than I thought they'd be so that's good but I didn't really push - I was just glad to be out. And I remembered that I need to remember my sunglasses...and some kind of fuel. Felt kind of bonkish toward the end...but it ROCKED.

I won't get my hopes up for another day like this any time soon. Plus, it's time to focus on the swim meet - only two weeks left... looking forward to the pool tomorrow. We're getting custom caps and sweatshirts for our team... pictures to come soon...

Party on and if you're able to ride your bike right now, DO IT!!! You're luckier than you know...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

100 Things About Me

Been simmering this one for awhile...enjoy!!

1. I love summer.
2. When I was 11 months old, I fell off the porch steps, cut my chin open, and had to get 7 stitches.
3. It is my first memory.
4. I majored in Geology in college because it was the only major that gave me credits for going hiking.
5. My first geology class was the first time I realized I was as much of a science/math person as I was an English/languages person.
6. I started taking piano lessons when I was 4 after my mom caught me sitting on the pedals and reaching above me to play the keys.
7. I stopped taking piano lessons when I was 6 because I hated practicing.
8. I still hate practicing.
9. I played the violin instead.
10. I also never practiced that but somehow managed to get away with it.
11. I no longer play either piano or violin…but I can strum a few guitar chords.
12. I love the Indigo Girls, especially Amy Ray.
13. I came out to myself as a lesbian when I was 22.
14. I honestly had no idea until I was about 21. All my friends knew before I did.
15. I have one brother who is younger than I am by 2 years and 9 months.
16. I have 13 first cousins on my mom’s side and 3 on my dad’s.
17. My first dog was named Coco. I got her when I was 5 and she died when I was in college. She slept under my bed every night and loved to run with us while we rode bikes.
18. I grew up outside of Boston on the South Shore.
19. I spent every summer starting after 5th grade at camp in Fairlee, Vermont.
20. In 2005-2006, I lived in Fairlee, Vermont right around the corner from camp.
21. There is a fantastic triathlon called The Fairlee Great Triathlon in Fairlee every summer. Racers parked right across the street from my house.
22. This summer will be my third summer racing in it - last year I crashed my bike and got my first DNF.
23. This year, I am going to finish strong.
24. When I was in 3rd grade, three of my cousins and my aunt lived with us for the year.
25. They brought their pets and combined them with our pets.
26. We had 2 golden retrievers, 1 shitzu, 3 cats, 2 bunnies, 15 guinea pigs, 24 mice (we learned a lot about reproduction that year), a fishtank, a parakeet that said, “birdie” and two teddy bear hamsters that kept getting out.
27. I don’t know how my mom survived.
28. I’m still not sure how I survived but we sure have fun now when we talk about how things were then.
29. I love to garden.
30. My favorite plants are perennials, especially delphinium, helenium and lilacs.
31. I’m a Broadway Show junkie. I especially love Rent and The Music Man.
32. I remember just about any song lyric I’ve ever heard.
33. I wish I could reclaim that brain RAM because knowing song lyrics hasn’t been all that profitable for me.
34. When I was 8 until I was 11, I wanted to play Annie on Broadway. And if I couldn’t be Annie, I’d settle for Pepper, Annie’s mean orphan friend.
35. When I was little, I made everyone call me Wendy for about a year when I was infatuated with Peter Pan.
36. I have a 108 pound Bernese Mountain Dog named Scout. I think I love her more than life itself.
37. At camp I’m a Vagabond in Campcraft, an Ensign in Canoeing, and a First Mate in Sailing.
38. I used to number my calendar backwards when I got home from camp to count down the days until the next summer when I could go back.
39. I’ve only been out of the country twice, both times to Canada.
40. I’ll always choose chocolate over vanilla, cookies over candy and ice cream over sorbet.
41. I love dessert.
42. I love the feeling you get after spending the day at the beach - the faint smell of sunscreen and salty sand - and that tired, happy, sun-drenched feel.
43. I can roll a whitewater kayak…but not in whitewater. Not such a useful skill.
44. I’m a super fabulous grilled cheese chef. The secret is patience.
45. Open water swimming doesn’t scare me unless I think about what might be lurking on the bottom.
46. When I started training for triathlon, I weighed 199 lbs.
47. Weight has been and will always be a struggle for me.
48. I started training in August of 2001 for my first Sprint triathlon in June of 2002.
49. I did nothing but nautilus, swimming, and walking for the first 6 months.
50. My goals were to not finish last, to run the whole run and to pass at least one person on the bike.
51. I achieved all my goals that day but I was almost last.
52. Today I am much more fit but still weigh 185. It’s discouraging.
53. I will race in my first half ironman in August of 2007.
54. I’ve become more of a middle of the packer and that makes me happy.
55. Swimming is my favorite part of triathlon.
56. Biking used to be but isn’t any more.
57. I sucked my thumb until I was 9. Sometimes I still get the urge if I’m really tired…
58. I’m trying to become a morning person.
59. Right now I’m not a morning person or a night owl. I’m in transition.
60. I was in a committed relationship for almost 12 years. Trying out being single for awhile.
61. I’m usually the dish girl. I don’t usually cook except for chocolate chip cookies (and see #44.) but I'm practicing becoming a better cook.
62. My dad named his first and second fishing boats after me.
63. Spence is my middle name. It was my dad’s mom’s maiden name, is my dad’s middle name and is the middle name of my only female cousin on my dad’s side. She gave her son Spence as his middle name too. I love it.
64. No one calls me Spence except people in blogland and an old co-worker named Peg.
65. I grew up across the street from a fully staffed fire station.
66. I can sleep thru anything that sounds remotely like a fire station horn or siren.
67. I can quote The Princess Bride from start to finish.
68. I love playing Hearts but I’m not very good.
69. On the rare occasion that I win at Hearts, I like to boast that I’ve “served up some whoop-ass.”
70. This makes my card playing friends snicker, which is really the whole point.
71. I can be very OCD about certain things but not others.
72. It bugs me if the bed isn’t made correctly but I could care less if the dishes are done or not.
73. I have to be able to poke one foot out of the covers while I sleep or else I overheat.
74. I can sleep on 5 inches of bed while being squeezed out the side like toothpaste by a 108 lb. dog.
75. This skill took several years to perfect.
76. My favorite swim stroke is the butterfly.
77. I can’t swim butterfly very well but I’m working hard to get better.
78. I’ve walked back and forth across the full span of the Golden Gate Bridge.
79. I’m not a city person but if I had to choose a city, I’d pick San Francisco.
80. I love cheesy 70’s and 80’s music.
81. In college, I had a cheesy 80’s music radio show with two of my friends. It was once a week from 2-4 am and was called “Silly Putty in Your Hair.” I think we had 2 listeners.
82. I was a center halfback on the field hockey team in high school and a goalkeeper in college.
83. I also rowed for two years on the crew in college but it was only a club sport.
84. At 5’3”, I was likely the shortest rower to ever row a #7 starboard stroke seat.
85. I taught preschool for 3 very fun, very exhausting years.
86. I ride a Cervelo One entry-level triathlon bike. Her name is Amelia, after Amelia Earhart because she flies and she accomplishes feats previously believed to be impossible.
87. I have pretty severe seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.) as do my dad and my brother.
88. After medication, triathlon training is the most effective way I have found to keep my depression away. It keeps my life healthy, manageable and sane.
89. My Fairlee house didn't have high speed internet or cable TV yet. Apparently Fairlee has yet to enter the 21st century.
90. I need to be near mountains or water. I would not do well living in the mid-west.
91. I used to think I’d NEVER do an ironman. Now I’m not so sure.
92. I don’t tri with a wetsuit. I refuse to buy one until I reach my goal weight.
93. One of the best bumper stickers I’ve ever seen said, “Where are we going and what are we doing in this handbasket?”
94. I love the ocean, especially the Atlantic. It’s very powerful yet very beautiful.
95. Cape Cod is one of my favorite places in the world.
96. I’m obsessed with shoes and jackets. I have enough of each to outfit several small villages.
97. My favorite Christmas present is new, warm cozy socks.
98. I love cats but only ones that will love me back. Otherwise, what’s the point?
99. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned a lot about being grateful for the things I have and realizing that most of the things I don’t have are within my reach if I want to work for them.
100. I love the tri blog alliance because ya’ll keep me going when I feel like stopping, you keep me laughing when times get tough, and you inspire me every day. Thanks for being there!!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Good Day, Sunshine!!

The smile on the woofie's face means today is a good day! It's beautiful and sunny - still was 15˚F when I went out to start the cars...but the sun is out and that's all that matters right now. Spring is on the way!!! Supposed to be in the 50s by the end of the week. BRING. IT. ON.

In celebration of spring and also to convey to you all in warmer climates HOW LONG it takes for spring to get here and HOW SHORT it actually is once it arrives (most people up here just call it mud season or maple sugaring season...a brief 2 weeks when dirt roads become impassable mud bogs so you stay home and boil sap all day), I've decided to track the weekly progress of my 60 daffodils and 30 croci as they poke their little heads out. They got confused about a month ago when things warmed up to 40 for a few days and they started to emerge but we plunged right back down to -10˚F and growing ceased, thankfully. But here they are this morning.

I'd like to think it might finally be safe for them to start things up again but I've lived up here long enough to know we're not out of the woods yet. Tune in next Wednesday and hope for the will be a roller coaster so be prepared...a few years ago we got 18" in April. By the time summer rolls around, you will have grown to care about and love these flowers like I do... hope springs eternal...

AND, since I have not had an apple tree in my yard since I was a kid, I'll show you how IT progresses too. Can't wait for it to be in FULL bloom. Amazing sight... We'll save the ripening of the 10 blueberry bushes for later in the summer.

My long weekend run has left my achilles tendons and knees a little sad...Monday's short run was a bit of a battle so I decided to take a run day off this morning and will spin this afternoon after work. Not my favorite time to work out but it's necessary to avoid injury at all costs, especially this early in the season. I'll hop on the treadmill for 10-15mins. after the spin and then take extra time to stretch... Should be good for another long run this weekend in the 50˚F new OTTER BOX will have arrived just in time!!!

Have a great Wednesday, everyone...and train hard!!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Profiles in Mental Toughness III

I didn't know who Sarah Reinertsen was until I watched her getting the news that she had missed the bike cutoff time in Kona in 2004...she was devastated. I was floored. This amazing woman, with only one of her legs... she came back in 2005 and ruled the course, becoming the first woman amputee to ever complete the Hawaii Ironman course. Talk about mentally tough.

I'm sure most, if not all of you know Sarah's story. She was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD)...or a deformed left leg. She had to wear a leg brace starting at the age of 11 months so that her legs were even lengths...and when she was 7, the decision was made to amputate. She had a great attitude but, as you can imagine, was not able to keep up with her peers physically...phys ed. teachers didn't include her in regular play, she was always picked last for teams... I can relate to being picked last. It SUCKS.

When Sarah was 11, she went to her first track meet for kids with disabilities...and she won the 100 meter race. This success launched her world of athletics...

Her mantra: "Don't ever give up on what you believe in. Not once. Not ever."

The fact that Sarah has been able to overcome so many obstacles in her quest for Ironman is incredible...but get this (from

Ironman. 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run. It's one of the toughest races in the world. To finish, Sarah has to be tougher than the rest. She expends 40% more oxygen and twice the energy than a person with two legs. Every stroke, every peddle on the bike, every step she runs has to be fine tuned to perfection. She will be the first, the only amputee woman to complete the Ironman in Kona. Only two years ago, she had never been on a bike. Her swim was fair at best. But she worked. And worked hard to qualify for the coveted spot. Currently, Sarah trains over 20 hours a week to accomplish this goal. Once again, Sarah will break new ground and go where no amputee woman has gone before.

40% more oxygen and twice the energy than a person with two legs.

So basically she does the race twice.

The next time I'm tempted to whine about it being cold or rainy or I'm tired or hungry...I'm just going to remind myself that it's POSSIBLE for me to be pushing 40% harder... Sarah does it every time she trains...for as many as 20 hours a week.

Be inspired. And train hard...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Profiles in Mental Toughness II

Dave Denniston was a 1999 NCAA Champion for Auburn University, and a 2003 World Championship Team Member in the 200 Breaststroke. I don't personally know Dave but I feel like I do since he's a good friend of my swim coach and I've been following his world since a little more than a year ago.

On Sunday, February 6, 2005, Dave was in his home state of Wyoming, spending time with his friend Andy Miller. They were having a great time in the mountains, sledding down some snow-covered slopes, when Dave slid into a tree and damaged his spine. The accident has left Dave, for the time being, without the use of his legs.

That was the news a year ago. Coach told us what had happened at practice - that this amazing swimmer, olympic trial veteran, healthy 20 something year old was paralyzed from the waist down. Holy crap. If it could happen to Dave, it could happen to anyone. But what I also knew, from what little I'd heard about Dave's character, was that if ANYONE could overcome this injury and walk again, it was Dave. He hasn't proved me wrong yet.

In the days after the accident, Dave's close friends and family rallied around him and part of the support network created for him was a website where people could go and check up on him, read about his progress and send him well wishes in his hospital room. (You can visit by clicking here or there's a link to the right in my sidebar.) Part of the motivation for the site was to help raise money for Dave's the time of the accident, he was in between insurance coverage from the US Olympic committee and his next job and everyone believed he was not covered at all. Fortunately, the USOC didn't abandon him and he has continued coverage thru them as well as thru a number of fundraising's always going to be expensive... But even when he wasn't sure he was covered, he never doubted himself...and not fighting to recover was NEVER an option.

Dave has been religious about keeping us informed of his progress thru the site and hardly a day has passed in the last year when Dave has shown a negative attitude about his recovery. He's just 300% positive ALL the time. Here's an example of what I'm talking's a letter that Dave wrote a few weeks ago in Swimming World Magazine, on the one year anniversary of his accident:

CARLSBAD, California. February 6. TODAY is the day! One year ago today in a single moment my life changed forever. There have been several times that Ive thought about the actions that took place when I hit that tree and relived the moments in my mind thereafter. Every time I remember how scared I was about what was going to happen to me and if I was indeed going to get off that mountain, my body shivers and I still get goose bumps. I am still amazed at how composed my friend Andy Miller stayed through the whole ordeal to get me off of that mountain without doing any more damage to my body or my spine.

What I think about more often than the accident, is the people who have supported me over the last year. WOW! I refuse to delete the thousands of e-mails I got shortly after my accident, and from time to time I go back and read them. Every card I received is saved in a box, and a few select ones are still out because they make me laugh. Lifes obstacles are so much easier to get through with friends by your side.

Attitude is everything, or so Ive been told, but when you arent allowed the chance to have a bad attitude, you soon realized that the people around you are everything. I know there is a tendency to forget about tragedys that other people experience, but in one years time I dont feel like anyone has forgotten about me. I would have to guess that I have more fans now than I ever did while I was competing.

There is so much Ive learned about myself this year that I wouldnt have traded the experience for anything. Im honestly reporting that the last year has been the best year of my life. My character has been tested, my body has been tested, and my spirit has been tested. Im a much better person now because of my paralysis.

So today, Im celebrating the day that changed my attitude and day-to-day life forever for the better. Im going to go to Project Walk, as is normally scheduled, and Im going to attempt to take over a hundred steps. My current record is 76. Afterward, Im going to go to the beach and spend the rest of the day outside and as far away from any hospital as I can get. Im celebrating being alive, but mostly Im celebrating really living.

Dave has written on his site that he's thankful that the accident happened because he's learned so much about himself and he has realized what a huge support system he has in his friends and family. The site counter on his site shows that people have checked up on his progress 144,195 times in the past year. The last year has been "the best year of [his] life." Wow. Just WOW.

Dave moved to Carlsbad, CA last year to begin rehab at Project Walk, an incredible place that is on the cutting edge of spinal cord injury research and recovery. They believe that NO ONE should ever be told to expect to live the rest of their life in a wheelchair. If you want to be inspired (or just damn glad that you have working limbs), take a few minutes to click thru some of the videos here. You can watch Dave's video by going here and clicking on "Dave D." - the third photo down on the left under "Current Clients."

Oh, by the way, on the anniversary of the accident, Dave went to Project Walk with the goal of walking 100 or more steps. He walked 163.

You can bet Dave is in my thoughts when it's time to toughen up...mentally and physically. I hope he inspires you as much as he has me.

Train hard!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Profiles in Mental Toughness I

I swear I was running in 5˚F weather this morning I conceived of this post but when I checked up on Tridaddy this morning, he'd beat me to it!! Oh well...consider it a theme for us all to ponder about...

As I slogged along the snowy roads with the sun rising, I thought how some would consider me tough for being out in this cold at 5:30 am. It was cold...but just getting out of the warm bed and out the door was a lot tougher than the run in the I must be mentally tough too. Truthfully, my mental toughness has a lot of developing to do...just like my skills in the other areas of triathlon. I have a bit of mental toughness...I endure northern new england winters...but I'd like to have a lot more of it...I aspire to be tougher... so as I ran, I focused on three people that totally motivate me when I feel like I'm being a wuss and need to toughen up... thought they might motivate you too...

First, Karen Smyers. I've not met her before but I've met her sister, Donna, thru my friend Kim who swims on my masters team. Kim and Donna are both world ranked age groupers and pretty much win every race around here...and Karen has been racing pro since the mid 90s... and for the past few seasons I've gotten bits of the inside scoop on how Karen is doing...what an amazing woman. Here are her stats, according to Team Psycho:

6 time Pro US National Champion
6 time USOC Triathlete of the Year
2 time ITU World Champion
2 time Pan American Games Gold Medal Winner
1995 1st and ONLY woman (so far) ever to WIN Kona IM
2001 US Elite National Champion
2004 Timberman Half Ironman Champion
2005 Lake Placid IM, 4th place finish
2005 Eagleman Half Ironman, 4th place finish

She's also had two children - born between 1997 and 2001... Crazy, you'd think. It get's better.

In June of 1997, a window shattered at Karen's house and fell on her hamstring, severing most of the muscle. Instead of seeing this as a setback, she decided to use her rehab and recovery time to have a baby..."what the heck - I'm gonna be laid up anyway...I might as well take the time for a kid now too..." She had a healthy baby and returned to racing the following year.

As luck (or bad luck) would have it, in June of 1998, fully recovered from her hamstring injury, Karen was sideswiped by an 18 wheeler while training on her bike. Get this: 6 broken ribs, a lung contusion and a separated right shoulder. She fought back, completely recovered and continued racing. Talk about tough.

Then, just as she was at the top of her sport kicking some serious butt, she was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. She raced at Kona a few weeks later (Thyroid cancer is a slow grower and they caught it early so it was ok for her to put off treatment) and pretty much thought the Dr. was could she feel so ok and be sick? I think she finished 2nd that year...and then in 2000 made a successful bid for the US Olympic Team...she placed 7th in Sydney...and underwent cancer treatment in between making the team and competing.

She also broke her collar bone when a woman in front of her crashed on the bike leg of a race... bet you can guess how she handled that...

Karen Smyers is the definition of mentally tough... I pray I will not be tested in the ways that she has...I aspire to have one tenth of the spirit she shows every day. Keep an eye out for her at your races this summer...I'm sure she'll be out there... and Google "Karen Smyers" to learn more about this incredible athlete...

Dryland and swimming tomorrow...followed by a profile of Dave Denniston - the second athlete that inspires me with his mental toughness...

As always, train hard!!