Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

These just made me giggle. And no, they're not my pets. But I'd say their owners really do have too much time on their hands... enjoy and have a safe and Happy Halloween!




Monday, October 30, 2006

Tanita my darling...

OK, I've decided to invite a new woman into my life. Tanita is moving in sometime in the next few weeks. But I need some advice on this impending relationship. Do all you tri bloggers who have worked hard with weight-loss and body composition recommend such an invitation or would you advise me to hold off and remain single a bit longer? AND if you think this relationship would be a good investment - which Tanita should I pick? Or perhaps there's another woman out there for me?

Please weigh in...(snicker...)


Friday, October 27, 2006

Why I've Been Conspicuously Absent...


My family has a history of depression, and I've been swallowed whole by it. 5 years ago I started training for tri, I stopped drinking altogether (although I didn't drink much), and I started taking antidepressants - all in a last ditch effort to get up off the lowest point of my rock bottom and live again. Meds and tri saved my life. I am so thankful.

So now I know that it's a full blown disease. I don't come out of it in the spring like I used to. I will likely be on meds for the rest of my life. Which is finally ok with me because there is no alternative. But this fall has come with such an incredibly high level of stress that my meds aren't cutting it. It's all I can do to drag myself to swimming twice a week and the rest of my training has fallen apart. And less training just means less serotonin, fewer endorphins, feelings of worthlessness and even less motivation to do the things I know I need to do to feel ok. It's a vicious cycle. I'm only thankful that I can recognize it now.

This is the third fall since starting on meds that I've experienced this downward spiral toward December 21st...two years ago we upped my meds and that helped a little. But now I'm forced to explore a pharmacological overhaul in the desperate hope that there's another balance of meds that will keep me from this pattern of descent into my own personal hell. I'm terrified that nothing will help. That I will sit and cry at my desk every day because there is no other way I can be. That I will push the people that love me away because the self loathing I feel when I feel like this is too great for ME to endure - so how can I expect THEM to endure it? I've gotten so sensitive to the physiological changes my body goes thru with this that I can tell almost to the hour when I need to go in search of a donut to send that surge of sugar to my brain to make the pain stop. Let me tell you...it's KILLING my girlish figure...which just makes me feel worse.

One of the positive things about growing up in a dysfunctional family that KNEW it was dysfunctional is that there was all kinds of 12-step philosophy going on all around me. And people were always in different phases of their recovery...so I got to see it all. I guess you could argue that exposing your kids to the messes of life early on is irresponsible...but I think at the very least it made me aware... and one coping strategy that I've used to endure my depression has proven helpful - at least to keep me breathing in and out, putting one foot in front of the other... "ACT AS IF." Basically, pretend or 'act' as if the thing you most want, most need, is true...and it will become true...or more true anyway. So if you're unhappy and you want to be happy...ACT happy even if you don't feel that way. Chances are, you'll feel better. It's not about denying the sadness...it's just about putting it aside long enough to PRETEND you're happy in hopes of surviving and getting thru those moments of profound sadness...until you stop hurting so intensely.

I need Triathlete Girl back. She's hiding deep inside me and I want her back because she makes me feel better. Registration for Timberman 70.3 opens on Wednesday, Nov. 1st and I'm going to sign up on that day. And I'm going to try and ACT like Triathlete Girl in hopes that she'll show her face just enough each week to get me past December 21st - the day it will start to get light again - and get me to the starting line next August. Because if I don't pretend that she's here, she won't be. And I'll continue to shrivel. If I can't get myself out of bed in the morning, Triathlete Girl will have to do it for me. She wants me to be well.

These things I know:
I cannot live this far north any longer. This will be my last winter in the cold and dark.

I need to change my medication. I HATE that I'm dependent on it to be myself. But there's no other way. If I had diabetes, I'd take insulin. Period.

I have to reach out to my friends and family, and to stay as busy as possible. Being alone for extended time is not good for me right now - no matter how much it feels like the right thing to do. Isolation will only make things feel worse.

I have to do everything I can for myself to be well - I need to eat the right things, sleep enough but not too much, exercise and be nice to myself. It all adds up and I need to work it from all directions or there's no hope.

These things I know. In my head. I know them. I'm writing them here so that every day that I don't feel them and every day that I want to avoid them, I can be reminded of them. It's easy to know. It's not easy to do. Triathlete Girl is going to have to get me out of bed to do them. I'm counting on her.

A close friend asked me yesterday how this feels - this profound sadness. I said, "You know the little round guy on the Zoloft commercials?" "Ah, got it," she said. Yeah, that little round guy makes me cry right now. A stupid little cartoon round thing with a frown and sad eyes. I have to change my world because this, this is not living.

Dooce wrote about depression yesterday...and I'm going to shamelessly scoop her link to Chris Rose's story about his own depression following Hurricane Katrina. This is what it's like kids. To a T. If you suffer from depression, read this story because it will help you feel less alone...it will give you hope. If you're lucky enough to have missed out on the depression genes, read this story because it will help you understand those around you who are suffering...especially as winter descends upon us.

Thanks for checking in... and here's hoping Triathlete Girl returns.

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Favorite Toy

I just renewed my gym membership at the beginning of October - I don't go to (translate "pay for") the gym during the summer when I can be outside and in my absence, my gym has acquired several Versa Discs, my new favorite toy!!!

It's just a funky looking inflated pancake that you can stand on with one or two feet and practice your balance. It's HARD at first while all the little tiny muscles in your ankles, knees and hips work overtime to tell you that you've been neglecting them. And in just three short (very short - like 5-10 mins) sessions, my balance is remarkably improved. Nice. (Note: one drawback is that the tiny muscles in my ankles are pretty sore so be sure you ease into this if you try it. I did 5-10 seconds balancing on one foot at a time. You can really feel it.)

So I've added this into my lifting routine twice a week. And to multi-task, I do these and these super cool shoulder exercises to work the ultra tiny muscles in my shoulders (these go a LONG way toward keeping your shoulders from feeling like hamburger) while balancing on the VersaDisc one foot at a time.

Loving the base-building off-season... What fun things are YOU going to incorporate into YOUR off-season?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Happy National Coming Out Day!!

October 11th, 2006.

It's National Coming Out Day!! Not a hugely well-known holiday but one I try to observe every year. So, allow me my soap box for a moment...and hopefully you'll learn something you didn't know (because I know I did just from my short Google search this morning!!)

Did you know (from hrc.org):

Most people come out because, sooner or later, they can’t stand hiding who they are anymore. They want their relationships to be stronger, richer, more fulfilling and authentic.

Once we do come out, most of us find that it feels far better to be open and honest than to conceal such an integral part of ourselves.

We also come to recognize that our personal decision to live openly helps break down barriers and stereotypes that have kept others in the closet. And in doing so, we make it easier for others to follow our example.

Coming out is a really important thing for me. If you know me, you know that I'm gay. And usually, within the first few weeks of getting to know me, you learn this about me. I've found that it makes things much more simple to just put it out there...leaving people guessing makes them cranky and me antsy. And you know, I've discovered it's really not such a big deal to just about anyone I've ever met. We truly are everywhere...

Here are some fun (or not so fun) facts for you:

Ten Things Every American Ought to Know

* Same-sex couples live in 99.3 percent of all counties nationwide (2000 U.S. Census).
* The federal government could save more than $1 billion a year by allowing same-sex couples to marry (2004 Congressional Budget Office).
* There are more than 1 million gay and lesbian veterans in the United States (Urban Institute).
* Sixty-one percent of Americans believe the country needs laws protecting transgender individuals from discrimination (2002 HRC Foundation poll).
* Nearly half of all Fortune 500 Companies offer domestic partner health benefits (2004 HRC State of the Workplace Report).
* You can still be fired from your job in most states, simply for being GLBT, and have no legal recourse — because currently, no federal employment law includes GLBT Americans.
* Eighty-four percent of GLBT students report being verbally harassed — name-calling, threats etc. — at school (GLSEN 2003).
* There are at least 1 million children being raised by same-sex couples in the United States — and probably many more (2000 U.S. Census).
* Hate crimes against GLBT Americans are on the rise, even as other violent crimes continue to decline (FBI Hate Crimes Statistics 2004). Current federal hate crime laws do not protect GLBT Americans.
* In a national poll in 2006, 80 percent of Catholics said they agree with this statement: “Marriage is about love and commitment. Regardless of how I personally feel about gay people getting married, I don’t think it is my place to judge these people’s love for and commitment to each other.” (Accredited Research by Peter D. Hart & Associates).

We as triathletes are such a warm, welcoming and supportive group out on the roads, in the pool, and on the race course. And I've felt nothing but that support from each of you since coming out on my blog. I'm sure you're doing all you can to continue that support toward others in your daily lives. Thanks for making the gay folks in your lives feel okay about sharing something so important to them!

For more resources about coming out visit The Human Rights Campaign.

And although it sounds hokey, HRC offers a free guide:

A Straight Guide to GLBT Americans
"The guide walks people through the emotional spectrum that people typically feel after someone comes out to them, outlines myths and facts about GLBT people, and gives easy ways for straight people to learn more and demonstrate their support for GLBT Americans"

...you can get a downloadable PDF here.

AND, if you're curious about the history of the rainbow flag and it's status as a symbol of gay pride, check out THIS and THIS!.

Thanks for tuning in and Happy Wednesday!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

3...Is the magic number

I'm looking forward to the day when I feel like this kid again. Yes, that's me, age 3...bottle in hand obviously high on life and every bit the goofball. I think it's apple cider that we'd just pressed...or maybe I got a sip of the hard stuff?

Yesterday was one of those days - beautiful skies, gorgeous sun shining thru a rainbow of changing leaves...and I was just restless...or melancholy...or both. I didn't want to be alone but didn't want to be with anyone either. I wanted to hike or ride but really wanted to sit on the couch and knit. I was hungry but didn't feel like eating anything in my fridge. I needed this kid to help me laugh.

As usual, mother nature came to the rescue and a 2 hour solo hike in the autumn air got me thru it. And the couch was still there with the knitting needles when I got back...the the chili was hot and ready for tasting. Sundays are hard right now.

Don't you just wish sometimes that you could go back to the world you lived in when you were 3?

Happy Monday...

Friday, October 06, 2006

Boat Races, Masters Style

In college, I was on the crew team for both my first and second year. The team was a club not a varsity sport (which it is now, no doubt due to our shenanigans) so we had about a $2100 budget (as opposed to Harvard's 100K+ budget), two 8 shells and one 4 and I think I was probably the shortest starboard 5/7 seat in rowing history. My first year we didn't even have a dock so we would wade into the Erie Canal with this giant, long boat over our heads, stumbling over the rocks and trying to avoid the scary 3 headed fish. Our coaches were seniors. We were successful at regattas if everyone made it to the race and home without getting lost. It was character building. It's a miracle no one drowned.

Since we were a club and entirely student run, we could be a little more relaxed about workouts and training rules. What this meant was that Friday afternoon at 4 pm, we'd meet for a long run (3-5 miles) and about a tenth of a mile into it, we'd suddenly take a turn into a courtyard where there would be a keg and lots of cups. So instead of running, we'd have boat races. It was a sort of bonding time for our boats...all 8 of us would get in a line in our seat order, coxswain at the head, along side the boat we were challenging (standing in the same formation). Another coxswain would call the race like this:


At which point we'd obediently take our full beer cups and hold them above of our heads, resting gently atop our noggins.

The cox would then say, "READY ALL, DRINK!" (as opposed to the usual, "Ready all, ROW!")

Our coxswain would then start by chugging the beer on his own head and once finished, put the cup upside down on his head - to assure that if all the beer wasn't gone, it would dribble down his neck. As soon as the cup was upside down on his head, the next person in the boat could start chugging...right on down the line to seat 1. The first boat to finish all the beers in the line was declared the winner. The winner of what, you ask? Absolutely nothing. We were loaded by dinner time and completely obnoxious in the dining hall.

Yesterday at swim practice, coach broke out the red plastic beer cups and we all kind of looked at each other sideways like, "What? Cocktails at 7 am?" Turns out we had to fill them half full, then rest them on our foreheads while we swam the backstroke. It's not as hard as it sounds but it really truly helps you realize how to keep your head steady while you rotate your body. We looked like synchronized swimming winos...

And all I could think during the whole drill was, "BEERS ON HEADS!!!"

Enjoy the weekend ya'll!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday Hat-Trick

So now that the "term paper" is done, I feel like I can blog again. Work is picking up as we head into the ski season and things are starting to get wild again. My new place has high speed wireless internet so I guess I no longer have any excuse, do I? I think I might post less content more often. I want it to stay fun, ya know? I don't need any more "have tos" in my world right now.

So three things:

1.) I've noticed around blogland that folks are feeling kinda down. Not everyone, but on the dozen or so blogs I read today, I saw it in 4 or 5 of them and feel like it's worth bringing up 'cause I feel it too. Just down. It's getting darker. It's getting colder. The season is over. We're all coming down off of our racing high and many of us are facing the reality of indoor training for 6 long, dark, snowy months. I guess for me the important thing is to keep perspective. It's helping me a ton right now to plan out the year...yes, the year...from now until the last race of 2007. Ya know, there aren't that many weeks!!! Makes the whole winter thing more manageable. Give it a try. And remember if you're feeling kinda low, there are others feeling it too...none of us are alone.

2.) I took an exciting step and made my first commitment to my 2007 season! It's something I've wanted to do for awhile and a nudge from a good friend got me on board pretty quickly. I'm especially excited about this one because we're gonna make a weekend of it, take bikes and ride some of the course the day before and then cheer on 4 of my masters swimming friends. Come join us! We asked to be peelers, transition helpers and/or finish line catchers. And if you're signed up to race, let me know so I can watch for you! I'm also PLANNING on being in Madison for IMMOO 2007 to volunteer but the logistics of that adventure are considerably more complicated so stay tuned on that one...

3.) 2007 is the year I turn 35. And since age 29, when I started this quest, the mapped out plan had me finishing a half ironman the year I turn 35. So, registration opens for this race on November 1st. The plan is to click the submit button on that day. And after I finish, I'll make a plan for the second half of my 30s.


Hang tough, ya'll...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

THE REST: Cranberry Country Triathlon

(Cut to real time here: this race report has been hanging over my head for more than a month now - like a term paper that I've been putting off starting until the last minute. I SO wanted to do a good job with it - but ya know, it just wasn't that great a race. And while there is plenty I can learn from it...it's just not inspiring me to write about it right now... SO, in true last minute term paper form, I'm starting at 10:20 pm and by the time my head hits the pillow it WILL be done. I debated just writing: "After the swim, I biked 25 miles, got thru T2 and ran 6.2 miles. The End." But I was afraid of the hate mail after stringing you all along like this... alas...here we go...)

OK, so the run up the hill from the water to T1 was a bit of a shocker. I was fine on the way up...must've still been working on some adrenaline...but once up, I started gasping for air... THIS is weird, I thought as I started to see little black spots... MUST GET OXYGEN... at that point I decided that walking was ok. We had to cross the pavement in bare feet anyway so walking was good (a badly stubbed toe was NOT in my race plan). The world righted itself 20 seconds later and I was breathing ok again... hated to walk but that was better than the completely horizontal alternative!

I made my way to my bike and dried off quickly... shorts on, shirt on, sat for a minute for socks and shoes...HRM on, helmet, no glasses as it was gray gray gray... and I was off. Followed the LOOOOOOOONG path out of transition and headed off on the 24.9 mile advertised-as-flat course.

OK, so I train in VT. You'd think that I wouldn't be phased by hills. And there were no hills, that's for sure. But when I ride a hill, I want it to be one that ends...that I can GET to the top of - and zoom down the other side... this course may have been flat...but it was a false flat for what felt like the entire 24.9 miles. GUH. Now I didn't push like crazy on the swim as I knew I had more than two hours of work to do after it... but once on the bike, my legs just decided they weren't at all interested in riding on a course like that. And Amelia HATED every second of it. She's supposed to excel on the rollers and is a crappy climber. I was really looking forward to seeing how she could help me on this course. Alas, the engine needed more HP...perhaps a Hemi...and there was no such hemi to be found out on that course.

Anyway, apart from the misery of what felt like 24.9 miles of uphill, the course was beautiful. It wound it's way thru the cranberry bogs of southern MA (Ocean Spray Juice headquarters is in this town!) and followed a nice loop thru a state park. There was one mile of road that would've given the Fairlee Race Directors apoplectic fits of angst (I'm talking potholes and fissure cracks that could've swallowed me WHOLE) but I managed it without eating pavement and was thankful for that.

At one point though, I did almost die. At least my life flashed before my eyes. The course was open to traffic and I'm thinking that Massachusetts drivers don't get a lot of practice driving around bikers. The road was pretty narrow and there was a bend of almost 90˚. I'd been hugging the very right edge of the road and there was a considerable drop off into soft, deep sand...but there was a pickup trying to pass me. I'm always really aware of cars - for the obvious reasons...but also because I know how annoying it can be when cyclists don't stay to the side... share the road means just that: SHARE. So the truck decided to pull past me, in the left lane (where there is oncoming traffic) on this blind curve...and it just so happened that I could SEE that there was another pickup coming toward me in the left lane around the curve. I shouted something about a truck coming and luckily the truck on my side veered back into the right lane just in time - but I almost ended up in the ditch as he pulled back into the right lane - I'd say another half inch and I would've been eating a literal sand-wich (get it? har har) That woke me up...and also gave me new vision for a life of living like there is no tomorrow. Sheesh.

Around mile 21 I started to feel like I'd had enough. I'd gone thru almost 20 oz. of gatorade but felt like I was starting to bonk... my bike computer was still reading high mileage (can ANYONE tell my why I can't get it to be accurate again??) so I felt like I should've been done but still had 3 miles to go. I knew there were still a bunch of people behind me but couldn't convince myself that it was MY race and I was growing ever more panicked with each biker that passed me (and there were MANY). I really just wanted to be DONE. Finally I started seeing runners and knew I must be close. I passed the race leader who had one mile to go on the run as I was coming in on the bike. I wanted to say something to cheer him on - something that would give him that extra kick...but I didn't feel it... so just biked by with a friendly "Nice job, finish strong." It did feel good to get out of my head for that split second. I pushed harder on the last two miles to ensure I came in under 1:30, my target for the bike leg. I did it but boy did it feel BAAAAAAAAD!

Bike split: 1:28:57

Into T2, ALLLLLLLLLLL the way to the back of transition again to my rack, parked my bike, helmet off, switch shoes, LiveStrong hat ON, grab FOOD - a power bar that I carried with me - and I was off again.

T2: 3:06 (again, not stellar but transition was seriously the size of a football field!! I didn't dilly dally at ALL!)

At this point I felt like complete and total CRAP. My mental demons were in full on torture mode and every person that passed me was a person closer to making me last. And physically I just felt lousy. I'm really not sure what it was...could've been the gray sky, or all the things going on in my head, or just that I wasn't as prepared as I could've been...dunno...but I was GOING to finish no matter what...even if I had to walk.

This being my first true olympic race, the run was longer than any I had done in a tri. Surprisingly, I didn't feel too nervous about it. I knew I could do it. And as I set out to run the 6.2 miles, I just accepted that it was going to hurt. And it did. All 6.2 miles of it. A lot of people passed me. Which is par for the course for me. I was able to hold 11 minute miles for the first two or three - which surprised me because I could've sworn I would move faster if I just walked. Things slowed down for miles 4 and 5 but the mile markers kept on coming - one after the next. I know that I will always be able to run one more mile...and that's truly how I plan to get thru every race I ever run. Just one more mile.... I wanted to be done so badly by the time I passed the mile 5 marker that I picked up the pace for the last 1.2. It hurt. My legs were numb. I was starting to get kind of fuzzy. I just wanted to be done. But somehow I knew I was almost there and I kept plugging away.

With about a half mile to go, a woman caught me and as she passed me she said, "You're a tough one to catch! I've been tracking you since mile 4!" I congratulated her on her successful mission, wished her a fun filled finish and then cursed her to myself as she ran away. I will BE her next time. Believe me. No more defense. I wanna play offense for once. I want to find that drive within me and nurture it...so it can carry me on to catch one after the next ahead of me...reel them in like little fishies. It will happen. Just not on that day... and on that day, I had to be okay with that.

I came into the finish chute at a faster clip...less because I wanted to give my all than because I just wanted it to be OVER. Somehow they misread my number and announced someone else's name and that was just fine with me. I was proud that I'd gotten thru it. I was glad because even though it was long and it hurt, it didn't hurt nearly as much as the last race I'd taken 3 hours to complete. And that's progress. Small as it may seem...

Run time for 6.2 miles: 1:13:39 (was shooting for 1:06 - 1:10ish...)

I knew I had more in me physically - that I hadn't left it all out on the course that day. In fact, I wasn't all that beat for the rest of the day - and I wasn't sore at all. But mentally, I did all I could. Every scrap of brain power I had at my disposal was used. It was the 4th discipline that fell apart that day. At this race, I learned how truly integrated our minds and bodies are in this sport. And you've got to have the whole system working together for optimal results. Don't ignore the mind game, kids. Your body may be made of iron but if your mind isn't ready on race day, you're not fully prepared. And I also learned that sometimes it's ok to race unprepared. Because you still learn a lot about yourself.

Not sure I'll be racing this one again - it was nice, well organized and a pretty venue...but the race itself didn't have the character or flair makes me want to sign up and try again next year. But it was Olympic #1 for the record books. And I'll take it!

Total time: 3:17:12
Overall place: 480/540
Place in Age Group: 25/31

Sorry for stringing ya'll along for that ride.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...