Monday, December 28, 2009

That Guy

I did not write the following essay.

Someone posted it on Beginner Triathlete from Bike Sport Michigan, which is no longer in business. But whoever wrote it is good. It is awesome and just re-reading the pasted version has made me cry all over again. Here you go:

That Guy. You know him. He can also be That Girl, and often is.

It is that guy (or girl) who you see at every race. He's at every one. Everywhere in the country.
He is always more tan than you are. He is usually a good bit thinner too. His calves have those mysterious vertical striations that define each individual muscle; as if to say, "I have spent hours training each individual muscle in each calf- each individual muscle fiber in fact." He/she has triathlon clothing that is super cool that you've never seen before. You have no idea where it came from. If you were to ask him- if you mustered up the courage to approach him- you would get some vague answer like, "Ahh, well, I know Dave McGillicutty at Sweetass Trisports and he got these samples, prototypes really, that he….. blah, blah, blah…." And you just wanted to know where you could buy a pair of those cool trishorts he has. Maybe they would make your ass look like Michalangelo chiseled it too. Prolly not though.

So this guy (or girl): His bike is clean. It is also weird. It has parts you think you may have seen in a magazine and, is that what carbon fiber looks like? Half the stuff he has, no, all of it, is stuff you've either only seen in magazines or never even heard of.

He's wearing sunglasses. But he didn't buy them. They just kind of "got there". He drives a special car just for doing what he's doing now: Getting ready for a ride, a run, a swim workout or the triathlon you're at now. He has stickers all over it.

You know when he talks about "Hawaii" he isn't talking about the state as a vacation destination, but rather, an event that you've only seen on TV. He is either talking about getting into it, having already gotten in, or why his last race there wasn't as good as it should have been. It had something to do with some chemical in his body you've never heard of. "Too much polychondrotineospandoplasm in my maldochondriacts during the last ten miles of the run. I should have know better." Yeah, an obvious mistake for someone like that guy (girl). Another thing that guy knows that you don't. Polywhat in his maldowho?

So you get to the race and there is that guy. Setting up all his stuff in the transition area like he's done probably a thousand times before, or so it seems.

And that guy is the reason why so many people are afraid to give this sport (and many others) a try. Because you know you are not That Guy (or girl) and they will look at you and think "Oh, another novice athlete…." And maybe you are embarrassed by that. I know I have been.

That guy is experienced, dedicated, accomplished, fit, knowledgeable, well-versed and respected in the sport. You are a beginner. So you are at the bottom of the food chain here. You may be the big woman or man at work and at home. But here you feel like the first day of kindergarten and you don't even know where the bathroom is but you have to go. It's been a long time since you felt like that.

And you'll feel embarrassed in front of that guy.

Consider this though: You are that guy. You are that girl.

Don't understand? Let me explain.

On the hypothetical morning we're describing you got up early, loaded up whatever bike you have (the old ten speed you've had since you were 16, that old mountain bike from college, whatever), put the gear you scraped together in your car and went to the race. You stood there in your sweats and registered, set up your transition area as best you could.

Welcome to the show my friend. You are walking the walk.

You made that monumental leap off the couch and into the realm of That Guy. And now you, to millions and millions and millions of people - you are That Guy.

The next time you go to work when the conversation comes up about what you did Sunday morning you will say, "Oh, ahh, well I did this little triathlon, my first one, I'm not really any good, I was nearly last…."

But to the people at work, and your family, and your friends, and everyone else not there on Sunday morning (and some that were) you are That Guy. The guy who does those endurance races. Who works out all the time (even if you don't). Who eats right (even though you don't).
Pretty soon it will get around work, what you did Sunday morning, and someone will ask you, "Hey, ahh, have you ever done that one in Hawaii?"

And then you answer, "Oh, Hawaii, no, I'm not that good. I've never done Hawaii…" And to you now it is just "Hawaii". You are That Guy. To someone out there you are That Guy.

Everyone has That Guy. He's better, faster, smarter, luckier. The interesting thing about That Guy is, to someone - you are that guy. No matter who you are, there will be That Guy. Don't let him bother you. Do what you do. Remember, to someone, you are that guy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

When Pigs Fly

Last night at the Fogle holiday party, my dad bragged on my marathon finish. I can't tell you how great that made me feel. My dad is old-school and doesn't usually see the need to exercise (except for tennis), but now he's thinking about doing some running. He even asked my brother-in-law the cardiologist about his heart rate zones. : )

I can't find the words to convey what a cool feeling it is to finish a marathon. Especially when you are carrying the baggage about weight, body image and sweating that most women seem to carry. All of that stuff is really heavy.

However, I firmly believe that anyone who puts in the training can finish a marathon. The key is that the training consists of not just the three month marathon build-up, but the also the base-building phase where you teach your feet, legs and body that running is a normal thing. The base-building has taken me over 9 years. I don't think this is typical, but on my two prior marathon attempts as I ramped up into training, I hurt myself. My body just wasn't ready to go 26.2 miles (or less). I had built up a good enough run endurance for 6 or 13 mile races, but not 26. For this year's attempt, Doug wrote the plan for me instead of letting me blindly follow a plan I had found in a book or a magazine or on the internet. We built up to 25 miles per week of running my way - by increasing the distance of all three weekly runs at the same rate. That seemed to be easier on my feet and knees. Then, Doug had me add another run during the week and we started increasing the distance of my weekend (long) run. We didn't do any speed work, tempo pace or intervals. All of those things are great for people who want to increase their speed and are racing for time. Those people can already go the distance (not me). So, I ran all of my runs at easy don't-look-at-the-pace speed. That took a lot of pressure off.

On race day, the weather was forecast to be 36 degrees, raining and windy. When it is that cold, my gloves don't keep my hands warm enough. So, I followed some internet advice and added tubesocks over my gloves. Genius! My hands were toasty! I decided that the tubesocks/armwarmers would be a good way to give a shout out to Brooks. Voila - Brooks armwarmers. It turned out not to be so cold, so I only wore them at the start but aren't they cute?

All of my other racewear was Brooks too, but it is so well-loved that the logos have fallen off. Check out my vest - very reflective. This is on the shuttle from the parking area to the race start. I think the blurriness of the photo really captures the giddiness of the morning. We were all smiles.

We stayed with my folks at their new house on Edisto Island. It is on the tidal marsh and is beautiful. On the day after the race, we watched the sunrise (not the actual sun because it was on the other side of the house) over the creek. It was lovely.
Kiawah Island Resort puts on a good race. Here is my official race report on Beginner Triathlete. It was a green race, so they encouraged us to bring our own water bottles, to recycle our shoes and old medals. It was neat. I always carry my handbottle, so that was no problem. The start line looked good in the dawning light.

We went to Joe's condo to stay warm before the race start. Joe was racing to try to get his Boston marathon qualifying time. Here are Doug and Joe before we braved the cold of the start line.

Aren't they good-looking? Joe got his BQ. 3 hrs 25 minutes. He followed one of the Daniels plans (not a high mileage one, Paul) and ran a great race despite nearly (or not-so-nearly) breaking his toe over Thanksgiving vacation.

Our friends Amy and Jerry ran the half-marathon and they looked great as they passed us in mile one. I stayed on plan, though, and didn't go faster than I had trained (10 mins per mile). It was cool to see the miles click by as the race went on. We had Gus every 4 miles (I alternated Roctane and regular Gu) and I drank from my water bottle whenever I felt like it. Doug had some Chomps and also had Gus when I did. My IT band got very angry in mile 14, but as I warmed up again by going faster, it felt better. Whew! I felt pretty good until Doug told me to go on in mile 22. He was a great security blanket for the race. I had a lot better race because he ran with me. It was easier to stay in my plan because he was there. If I had been by myself, I would have been tempted to speed it up or slow it down and that would have been bad.

Then, in mile 22, I was on my own. My molasses pace and his Ironman had made Doug's quads cramp up.

Other than the IT, my GI and the usual aches and pains, the race hadn't hurt until then. Or, maybe they had hurt, but I'd been too busy to notice. But suddenly, my foot hurt and my knees were flashing red pain with every step. The little hills on the path to get it level with the road were suddenly like mountains. It felt like was I doing 8 minute miles when it was really 10-ish minutes per mile.

I cried those last two miles. For the sheer ridiculousness that I was going to run a marathon. I remembered back in elementary school when we had to run the mile for the physical fitness test and how I couldn't even walk it. I remembered how I used to be fat in middle school and how much I hated my body. And it was so great to be coming to the finish. I wanted to share the love with all of the cops, the volunteers picking up trash, the folks giving out water and the other runners. I tried to thank them all without bawling, but ended up only thanking some and just patting the other runners on the shoulder as I tried to keep it together.

Then, our friends were there when I finished and it was awesome. I loved it. : )

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Doug is an Ironman!

Last weekend, we traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina for the Beach 2 Battleship half ironman distance race. Doug was racing and I was volunteering and sherpa-ing.

I think that I had as much (if not more) fun than Doug did.

Here is Doug taking his final bags to the car on race morning at about 4:15am. We arrived with all of our stuff at the race location at about 4:50am. I know! I was early! This load of stuff is after he had already dropped off four (4) other bags with his bike on Friday. We don't know how people fly to Ironman (IM) races - there is just too much stuff to bring!

For those who don't know, the Ironman race distances are 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of cycling and 26.2 miles of running. That's a total of 140.6 miles traveled under your own power.

Anyway, our friend Neal was also doing this race as his first Ironman. Here are the two hotties as they came to be body-marked.

So, my first volunteer job was body-marking. That means that I wrote the athlete's numbers on their arms and legs and wrote their age on their calf. While I wrote, I made small talk with the racers and assured them that you really could float the whole swim and still make the time cut-off. They time this race start so that racers swim with the current and it is a beautiful thing.

Here is my new friend, Kelly, who has a 19 month old and is expecting her second child in February. She is a tough lady because she body-marked with me for three hours and then we helped load the transition bags onto the truck and then we stood around watching racers come out of the water and cheering them onto the bike course for a good hour and a half.

Here is the transition area before all of the bikes got there on Friday. 1500 racers if you count the full and half ironman participants.

Here is Doug giving the fist of strength as he comes up to transition area #1 from the swim. No idea who that bike guy is.

After Kelly and I watched all of the full ironman and half ironman racers come up from the swim and exit T1, I went for a little run. The race's swim start was in Wrightsville Beach, NC. This is a peninsula of Cape Fear. I ran to the fancy houses on the north end of the beach and then back south to the older part of the beach to where Doug had started the swim, then I added a loop of the park in which T1 was located (Hwy 74 to Hwy 76) to get to my 10 miles. Little did I know that that loop happened to circle a tidal creek park and was a beautiful sidewalk around the creek in the shade of oak trees. It was so great. What a beautiful run.

Then, after wolfing down some Fat Tony's dinner leftovers, I showered and drove into downtown Wilmington to begin my volunteer shift on the run course. You'd think that with all of my love for Gu, I would have remembered to bring some for my run. Unfortunately not. I thought the PB&H we'd eaten for breakfast would be plenty. I neglected to consider the 4.5 hours that would elapse between breakfast and my run, so that was a big mistake. Still, my run was lovely and I made good use of the Hampton Inn mints in the car to give me some fuel on the way back to the hotel. Speaking of which, the Hampton Inn was totally awesome. It was brand new, had a super breakfast bar, free fridge and microwave, wireless internet and a beautiful clean room and bathroom. And, it was very reasonably priced. Gotta love that.

After checking in at the volunteer station downtown, I took the trolley to the Battleship North Carolina park and situated myself for my shift. I kept using my phone to send updates on the race to Facebook. Natalie wanted to know if I had on a cute outfit.
Um, no. With the temperature falling into the mid-30s, I was rocking the rainbow layered look. Please note, however, the Moving Comfort thermal running shirt with thumb-holes and the Gu visor. Gotta rock the team colors!
I got to direct the bike traffic coming into the Battleship area (the finish of the bike) across Hwy 421. The New Haven Sheriff's Office folks directed the car traffic and I yelled my head off and waved my arms to tell the cyclists where to go. It was super-fun. The officers seemed relieved to have me there. Apparently, they needed someone with a big mouth! I had a good time talking with the officers, encouraging the bikers and yelling for the runners who were leaving the park and heading back in.
Here is Doug and his BT friend Mr.Tony as they came in after their first loop. They were moving!
Neal came by also and though he wasn't going as fast (his IT band had locked up), he was his usual smiling self. I ran with him a few hundred yards as he went back out for loop 2. Then, it got dark. I made another friend (Rebecca) who also had a 19 month old. She and her daughter were watching for Mr. Rebecca to come by. He was having a tough day because the swine flu had swept through their house the week before, but was determined to stick it out. It was so cool to see all of the runners come by and encourage them. As they came by for the final stretch, their strides eased and their limps went away (just like Forrest Gump's braces flew off in the movie) and they started to run gracefully for the final stretch to the finish line. It was so neat.
Doug came by right before 12 hours, just like he'd planned. I had put my backpack on so I could run in with him, but whew! He was still going really fast! He ran it in and finished at 12:01:40. This is rock-star pace for age group (not pro) triathletes. Way to go, Doug!
We got him dry clothes and some food and talked with some of the other BT folks and a nice lady who was waiting for her son to finish. Then, Neal came in and Bep, Doug and I ran in with him.
It was great. I really had a blast. Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach were totally fun and would be a great place to visit with the girls. The beach was lovely and I'd love to go back and tour the Battleship North Carolina.
Doug and I had planned to sign up for Ironman Florida 2010 on the way back to Atlanta. However, we stopped to eat early, so registration hadn't opened yet. So, we decided to wait until we got home. That proved to be a poor decision because IM Florida registration closed while we were still on GA 400. I wasn't too bummed because I knew that it would be a stretch for me to get in Ironman shape in 2010 and Florida is flat, which is hard for me. 2011 would be fine.
Then, we looked online and Ironman Louisville was still open. Sure, it's 2 months earlier, hot and hilly. We signed up anyway.
Ironman Lou, here comes team Bachman. August 29, 2010.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Atlantic Coast Half Iron Distance Triathlon

Doug picked the Atlantic Coast Triathlon for us to do this fall because of its proximity to my Aunt Gena and Uncle Pat in Jacksonville. They volunteered to keep the kids for us, so we loaded up the car and made the trip.

Since I've been recovering from/living with my plantar fasciitis since last fall, my initial hopes for this race were low. I figured I'd try to get as fit as possible on the bike and swim and just hope for good things on the run. And, after some time and perspective on my actual race performance, I think that is exactly what I did.

In my actual race report here, you can read the gory details of my race. Here are the photos. I feel compelled to note that the photos are stretched in width because I'm not quite that big. I'm just saying. . . .

Anyway, the nutshell is that I did pretty well on the swim (despite discomfort with the ocean), hammered the bike and then crashed and burned on the run. Immediately after the race I was very disappointed with my performance on the run, but frankly I just used up too much juice on the bike so I was toasted for the run. Plus, my run volume (8 miles 3x per week) has just not been enough to support a good half marathon. I should have been able to hold 10 minutes per mile if I had appropriately paced the bike.

The real story here is that this was a GREAT RACE! Fernandina Beach is lovely, the weather was beautiful and the race was well-organized. They had 4 hand-ups on the bike and 7 water stops (some you passed more than once, too) on the run. It was great. I had a marvelous time and really enjoyed cheering on the other runners. I got crabby on the bike because of the drafters, but I just need to increase my bike fitness so I can pass these azzholes or suck it up, buttercup.

We had a great time with my aunt and uncle. They pulled out all the stops for our visit and it was great. They went to the zoo with the girls, where they petting stingrays and fed the giraffes. Dagny and Annika had a complete blast. They decorated cupcakes, made popsicle stick scarecrows, made lollipop ghosts and pipe-cleaner/button jewelry. Annika made dip-dye fans and art while Dagny took a nap on Friday, then she fell asleep before dinner on Saturday. While Dagny was asleep, Aunt Gena made the macaroni and cheese that Annika had requested earlier in the day.

Only, it wasn't Kraft or Velveeta.

It was macaroni pie!

In my house, macaroni pie is a lost delicacy. My Mama Maude (Aunt Gena's and my Dad's mom) made us macaroni pie every time we visited. It is almost a macaroni and cheese custard. But we believed the recipe was lost when Mama Maude died in 1986. Dad and Mom had no idea how to make it and Mama Maude was very vague about it when we asked her. And here, Aunt Gena was making it like it was nothing! She's known how to make it all of these years! Maybe she even knows how to make coconut cream pie too!

Macaroni Pie

Elbow macaroni, cooked
Shredded cheddar cheese
Optional - Cayenne Pepper and/or Hot Sauce

Cook macaroni according to package directions to al dente. Put in a corningware dish (Mama Maude used to use a big square dish, about 6 inches tall). In a bowl vigorously mix 3-7 eggs and some milk. Gena says more eggs, Pat says less. Pour the milk/eggs over the macaroni until the macaroni is floating. Yes, floating. Your actual amounts of milk and eggs will vary depending on the amount of noodles and shape of dish. Gena used a flat dish and about 1/3 lb of macaroni with 4 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of milk. Sprinkle the macaroni with the paprika and/or cayenne or hot sauce. Sprinkle the cheese over the macaroni to cover. If you want, mix some cheese into the macaroni first. I say yes. Mama Maude sometimes used Velveeta cheese with her cheddar, but Gena used just cheddar. Cook on 350 degrees until the pie is just getting set but still really jiggly in the middle. Allow to rest on the counter until room temperature. It will continue to cook while resting and firm up a little. Pat's family prefers a loose texture, so they use more milk and cook less. Mama Maude preferred a firmer texture, so she used more eggs and cooked longer.

Oh, and despite my crappy run at the race, I won 4th in my age group! I even got a nice trophy. Here are the 0fficial results. I can't say which of the ladies were the drafters, but Doug heckled one of them on the run. Hee.

In other news, the new Couch to 5K group is off and running. They are running 3 minutes and walking 27 minutes three times this week. Go runners - Happy Running!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Couch to 5K Club Rides Again!

OK Gang, my race report is way overdue, and I'll get to it over the weekend. And with it will come some updates on our sweet girls and our fabulous trip to Jacksonville - including a great recipe.

However, in the meantime, if anyone is interested in doing the Couch to 5K run program (liberally copied from starting this week or thereabouts, post here or send me an email through blogger. Or pop on over to facebook or beginnertriathlete and pmail me there. I'll send you a plan. No one ever seemed to get the hang of the shared google document, so I'll just post the results on here this time.

My sister is doing the aggressive couch to 5K plan (16 weeks), but I can adjust this plan to be longer or shorter depending on your needs.

Happy running!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ironkids Race Results

Whew! This was a tough race! Everyone in our house needs a nap after sherpa-ing Annika for the Ironkids Triathlon in Alpharetta.

Here are the race results from PRIME TIME. Local race directors should look into this company because they have the results up 2 hours after the awards ceremony. Very nice:
Age Group Finisher: 18
Name: Bachman,Annika
Race Number: 2
Swim Time (50 meters): 2:40
Bike Time (2 miles): 16:22
Run Time (500 yards): 3:02
Total Time: 22:05.8

There were rumored to be 800 kids registered for this race and it was a madhouse. We arrived onsite about 1.5 hours prior to the scheduled start, set-up the transition area, used the potties, ate a bunch of apple-cinnamon Chomps and then cheered on some other racers.

Here is Annika's bike in transition. Note the Gu Roctane stickers and packets of Gu taped to her bike and the "slicks" that Doug borrowed from the jogging stroller so she could be faster. You'd think that extra fuel would be unnecessary for a 22 minute race. You'd be wrong. Add in the extra hour of waiting around and you'd be really super-wrong.

Here is Annika ready to go - flexing for the camera.

Then, suddenly it was time! Annika and I went to the pool to get ready for her start. It took forever to start because the race directors wouldn't start the next group until after the previous group had cleared the bike course. A full hour after she was supposed to start, Annika's group made their way to the start line. It was a time trial start so each kid ran and jumped into the pool (no diving) solo and was timed from that point. Annika lost her chip on the jump, but the race folks fished it out and strapped it back on her at the swim finish. Very on-the-ball of them! I don't know if she even knew she had lost it. She motored through transition (it takes a long time to apply a skort, shoes and socks) and hit the bike. Dagny, Nana, Caro and I cheered from the mid-point of the course, while Doug ran the whole bike course with her and she did awesome. She never stopped and went up some pretty big hills.
Then, she zipped back into transition, ditched the bike and helmet and headed out for the run. Doug ran with her and when I realized how short the run was, I took off after them with Dagny on my shoulders. My mom and Caro came fast on my heels. We just made it to the finish with her - yelling encouragement all the way, of course.

Then, she wanted to wait to see Lilly finish. I asked if she wanted to go back onto the run course to find her and she said yes, so we ran back around the baseball fields until we found Lilly and ran in with her. It was great.

Annika did so well. We are so proud of her. What a trooper. : )

Doug's race yesterday went well also. We think he may have placed in his age group, but the race results are not up yet. It was a good race and Sloppy Floyd State Park is lovely, so we had a good time. We had some worries when Annika barfed in the car on the ride up to Rome, though. It turns out that she made herself carsick by staring at the lines on the road as we drove. At least she wasn't sick!
Dagny tolerated all of this race-watching with a lot of snacks and Mom's Team ZootGu visor.

Everyone is very tired after a weekend of racing and we will sleep well tonight!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You Say It's My Birthday!

Whew! We have been busy these last couple of weekends, what with school starting and Dagny going back to her "school" and the two races that Doug signed me up for.

That's right.

He IS all that.

On my actual birthday, I got up and went for a run as usual. When I got back, Doug and the girls had made me muffins (breakfast of champions) and an unusual gift certificate. It listed two upcoming sprint triathlons and said it entitled the bearer to a ride, a sherpa and a cheering section.

How cool is that?

So, on August 9, Doug drove the whole family to Chattanooga for Quintana Roo's The Sports Barn sprint. It was a point to point race with two separate transition areas. We swam in Lake Chickamauga, then biked parallel to the river back downtown and ran a short loop in the downtown area. It was so much fun! Here is my race report. Quintana Roo is based in Chattanooga and raffled off a bike and a wetsuit. Though I won neither, it was pretty cool of them. This was a great race, especially for beginners and Chattanooga is a fun town.

Then, just 6 days later, Doug drove to Cordele and Dagny endured many ant bites so I could defend last year's 2nd place victory at the Georgia Veterans State Park Sprint at Lake Blackshear. This is our third year going to this race and it is still my favorite sprint, even with the gnats. And, as a bonus, Striplings grocery is located just outside the entrance to the park. They make fresh pork sausage and beef jerky to die for. Even the jaded legal department at my office was impressed. My friend Steph (who is from Sylvester, GA) was astounded that I had been to Striplings because she is well-acquainted with their goodness but couldn't imagine who in our department would be down there. Here is my race report for the GA Vets Race. And here are the photos - in the running shots you can see me gritting my teeth to pass the woman with the disk wheel who passed me on the bike and then my smile as I got by her. Hee. You can see that my trusty Adrenalines are holding up well, but I've got some weird outside-of-the-foot problem going on. I'm blaming it on all of the glide-stepping when I was in the band.

Here are the girls and I before the start. Annika wanted to try on my cap.

So, I had a great birthday and fabulous past two weekends. We are all low on sleep, the bills need paying and the house is a mess. It's a good thing we still have two weeks until college football starts!

In other news, we are still going full steam ahead towards our "A" races (the Atlantic Coast Half Ironman for me and the Beach to Battleship Full Ironman for Doug). I fully expect Doug to beat me at the Atlantic Coast race even though it isn't his "A" race and he won't be tapering. Apparently, those y-chromosomes just make you go faster. That, and the bazillion miles he has biked and run this summer. Notice I didn't mention the swim? Heh. Doug doesn't love to swim like I do.

Annika seems to be in good enough shape for her race in September. I've not found her any race attire yet, but I have a good idea on how to put the Gu name on her once we find an outfit. : ) Dagny is starting gymnastics this fall (through her school) and is over-the-moon excited. Annika is starting soccer in the church league, but is not so thrilled. We are hoping that it will grow on her enough that she won't mind it until lacrosse starts next year. She's very excited about lacrosse (pronounced "across") because her babysitter Meghan played it and Meghan is super cool.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Relax, Don't Do It

Yesterday was "meet the teacher" day at Annika' school. We went through the obligatory rig-a-ma-role of joining the PTA, purchasing the lunch card, bringing the school supplies and kleenex, obtaining the useless bus card and filling out the transportation form. UGH. Seriously, all but the actual meeting of the teacher and the bringing of the supplies could have been done online. Instead, the whole school showed up at 8:30am to do it all at once.

Total chaos.

Here's hoping that it will be easier next year when Doug's sister is Queen of the PTA.

Open house day is also the time that you sign up to be the room mom or to do the basket for the Christmas Extravaganza (trust me, you don't want to know - it's horrible). Neither of these were in my plans. I signed up to bring baked goods. Calling people on the phone, I can't do, but I can bake like nobody's business.

Anway, after finishing up Annika's meet and greet, I went to work. Late. Then, in the afternoon, one of the other moms from the class called me. She said that no one had signed up to be the room mom.

Me: "Well, I'm working full-time now, so I can't do it."
Her: "Me, too. And, I'm traveling."
Me: "So, we are out."

BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Much wasting of my work minutes.

This woman was relentless.

Me: "I'm working full-time now, so I don't have time to do it."
Her: "Yes, and I'm traveling."
Me: "Neither of us because we don't have time."

Then, we start theorizing on who might be able to do it. I thought of one mom, and the caller thought I should call and encourage her to do it. I declined and pointed out that I didn't know her well enough to call and "encourage".

I found out later that another mom in the class WANTED to be the room mom and had already volunteered to do it. The caller was just concerned about it and thought it would be good to line someone up.

Someone like me.

But I said no. I'm very proud of myself for not over-committing that way. It only took 30 minutes and sweating all the way through my shirt.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


You know how sometimes folks (especially women) write down or chant affirmations to themselves to get through the day or the athletic event? Like "believe" or "I can" or "strong."

I always thought that was a little weird. A little new-agey. Like incense and the Crystal Blue store.

So, I was listening to an Endurance Planet podcast yesterday in which the host (Kevin Patrick) was debating whether it was better to be cocky, confident or humble in racing or training. He was wondering whether it was better to be cocky (like the Aussies) in a race or humble. In the course of the broadcast, Kevin talked about ways we psych ourselves up (or down) in racing or training. He suggested keeping a journal of all of the things we say to or about ourselves during the day or while we are exercising to be able to analyze our self-talk. Like "wow, this hill is horrible, I don't know if I can do it" or "I'm too slow to catch that girl" or "I'm too jiggly to take my shirt off" or "I might have to stop to use the bathroom."

Wait, that last one is probably just me.

Anyway, it got me thinking about whether I do that kind of self-talk during a race. I thought no, because I don't need any silly old affirmations.

But it turns out that I do it! I tell myself "that hill is nothing compared to the one out of Mountain Park" or "it's too hot for a shirt, no one who has borne two children has a flat tummy" or "I don't care if I'm jiggly, at least I'm running" or "I can catch that girl" or "my neighborhood is hillier than this" or "you may pass me on the bike, but I'll get you on the run".

Interestingly, while I do engage in a lot of negative self-talk in my regular life (I bag on myself because I eat badly, I procrastinate, I am lazy, I'm not patient, I'm not creative, I'm rigid and fear change), when I'm exercising, I'm only positive. And confident, and self-complimenting.

Maybe it's the endorphins.

Or maybe, it's so completely ridiculous that I run (or bike or swim) at all that I'm inspired by the act of exercising and any progress at all is great. Coming from a youth spent on the couch, anything I do is automatically super. Seriously. As a kid, we used to come home from school and watch TV (with microwave popcorn or some similarly bad-for-you treat, in mass quantities) from 3-7pm, break for dinner, and watch again until bedtime. Exercise was for the crazies. Sports? Didn't do them. Running, forget about it.

And then I got fat when I hit puberty. I think I gained 30 lbs in 7th grade. And at least that many more in 8th grade. And that is when I realized that exercise and moderating the diet was not just for the crazies, it was for me. It made me very sad. Exercise was not for my family, who were blessed with rabbit-like metabolisms, but I have known since that time that I have to exercise or I will get fat. So, I took extra PEs in college, I joined gyms, I made friends with folks who exercised. And the exercise, it makes me better. It makes me feel happier and stronger. It gives me confidence in other stuff in my life.

Sure, I still fall off of the wagon every few years. But then, I get back on and relearn how to ignore the wheezing feeling in my chest and the sweat pouring off of my body and the jiggling of my thighs and tummy. And because I know I've done it before, I am confident that I can do it again.

So, maybe those affirmations aren't so hippy-dippy after all.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Tour de What?

On our Beginner Triathlete board, everyone is talking about the Tour de France. I don't know anything about the Tour de France except that it is a bike race with beautiful scenery and Lance Armstrong. When Doug suggested that I join up in the Versus Fantasy League, I was dismissive.

"Pshaw," I said, "I don't know anything about it!"

"It will be fun and make watching the Tour more interesting."

Then, after Doug switched our cable company so that we wouldn't have to pay extra to get Versus (the channel that is broadcasting the tour and shows all of the good triathlons), the folks on the board kept talking about it and Doug and I watched the pre-game specials while I folded laundry at night. It was really cool to see all of the different stages and learn about what all of the jersey colors mean.

And finally last weekend, I gave in to the pressure. I now have my very own fantasy team. Just like all of those guys at work who have fantasy baseball or football teams.

I tried to pick riders from each of the disciplines (sprinters, mountain guys, and general contenders) as our friend Neal recommended. Since the only rider I know about is Lance, I picked other guys based on their bios on Versus or on the coolness of their names or because I like Russians:

Thor Hushovd - his name is Thor, therefore he must be tough.
Andreas Kloden - was mentioned in the pregame coverage and he is good in the mountains
Koen de Kort - his name sounds like "Boom Boom Clap, Boom de Clap, de Clap" from the Hannah Montana song
Yukiya Arashiro and Fumiyuki Beppu - first ever Japanese cyclists, so they will have something to prove
Rigoberto Uran - is 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighs less than me
Inigo Cuesta - "My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."

And folks, fantasy cycling is FUN! I love to check the news to see how "my guys" did today. And then, Doug and I watch the Tivo-ed coverage at night. Wow, check out the ad for the male enhancement pills with the ever so subtle pointing fingers and photos of wood. Hee!

I'm having a blast with my guys and not doing too bad in our little group (I'm 11th!) considering my lack of cycling knowledge. Next year I'll be unstoppable. For actual cycling knowledge, though, go check out our friend Brett's blog here.

And, Thor (the one who is tough) won today's stage. Yes!

Friday, July 03, 2009

Ridges Resort 5K Swim Race Report

Since I injured myself again this year, there was no reason not to do the Ridges Resort 5K Swim again this year. I wasn't as excited about the training this year, though, maybe because it wasn't a distance record. It could also be that all of Doug's marathons just made me want to run.

So, last Sunday, Doug and I loaded up the kids and headed up to Hiawassee. The Ridges Resort is a neat area located just up the road and across the street from the Brasstown Valley Resort. When we arrived, I noticed a distinct lack of teenagers in the field. Apparently, the team that has raced together for the last several years had a conflict. There were, however, a lot of triathletes. We all milled around and sized-up the competition while waiting for the start. I ate a granola bar and made several trips to the car to retrieve things I'd forgotten.

Scott Hanna is the race director. He is really nice. He gave the same speech as last year with similarly vague directions and we were off - trooping in line down to the dock for launching. A lot of people waded out to start this year. which didn't happen last year. Then, Scott counted down and we started in unison. After about 30 seconds of trying to find a clear area, I found my place. Looking around, I saw only men around me. "Cool!" I thought, "I'm hanging with the guys!" Number 123 was on my right. He had a beautiful relaxed stroke so I listened to Doug's voice in my head telling me to "elongate my stroke" and copied #123.

I did a good job navigating around the first island. It has three points (the point-on-land-adjacent-to-a-body-of-water/regular-old-point distinction was lost on some people during the pre-race meeting) and I rounded them decently close to the shore because that is the shortest line. My strokes felt good and I was pulling strongly. There was no trace of my yoga-induced shoulder issue. All was great. The water was green and cool and it felt effortless to glide through it.

Until I saw the bottom. Ugh. The bottom freaks me out. Maybe that is my problem with swimming in the ocean - I'm not deep enough to not see the bottom. So, I chose to move deeper to avoid the view. That was probably a mistake.

After rounding the points, I headed for the two-story dock. Turns out that there are two two-story docks. Scott had told us to get close to it - so close you could touch it so I headed way over there. The rest of the field did no such thing. So, there I was all by myself in the middle of the lake. Awesome. I sang a little of the song to myself as I swam. We had escorts in boats and canoes, but they never seemed to be very close to where I was. No problem - I knew I could finish without assistance and boats make waves, which are disorienting. At times, the wakes were so big that the tops of my feet and legs would hit the surface of the water as I was tossed around. Annoying.

I had worried since last year about whether or not to fuel during this swim. 2 hours of swimming shouldn't require any fuel and I have never fueled during my training swims. However, on a bike or run of the same duration, I would have some electrolyte drink or a Gu. And, I really ran out of gas at the end of the race last year. So, I couldn't decide. Despite some rash claims about taping a Gu to my chest, I ended up just putting it in the side of my bathing suit. Guess what? Gu is about the same buouancy in the water as I am, so it just floated around inside my suit. Eventually it nestled around my tummy. I felt better just knowing it was there.

Finally, I crossed the channel and could see the buoys (there were 6, 5 yellow ones in the water and an orange one at the finish). You could only see one of them at the time, though, because they were pretty far apart. I made a deal with myself that I could eat my Gu at the first buoy. "Better safe than sorry," I thought. "I'd rather finish with gas in the tank than drag-ass across the line." I reached the buoy and had a slug of my Just Plain Gu as I did some breaststroke kicking. Mmmm, delicious Gu. It's hard to breaststroke kick without your arms, though, so I flutter-kicked with my hands out of the water while I squeezed the Gu from the bottom to get it out of the envelope. I'm sure I looked like an idiot. After 3 tries, I had consumed most of the Gu, tucked it back into my suit and resumed swimming. As I did so, the canoe escort came past me. "You don't need a gel in a 5K swim," the woman sniped nastily. They weren't talking to me because I was swimming; they were just talking about me. I resisted the urge to stop them to explain my whole fueling plan and rationale. They had probably just come over because it looked like I was drowning and now they were making conversation. Still, they hacked me off.

And, negative motivation, it works for me.

"I don't see your asses swimming 5K," I thought to myself. "Assholes." And picked up my pace from "two hairs above forever pace" to "hair slower than 1K time-trial pace." I felt awesome. Either the extra calories or the mental boost from the Gu or the anger-induced adrenaline kicked in and I flew to the next buoy and then the next.

And suddenly, there were the guys! I was back! I saw them over to my left - right in line with the next buoy. Oops, I had veered right again. I fell back in behind them and it was delightful looking up every few (15) strokes to see their blue caps ahead of me. Then, just as suddenly, they were gone! When I breathed to the left, I saw them again - I had drifted right about 50 yards. I tacked back left but couldn't seem to stay there. Next thing I knew, they were way left again. We continued this way for the last three yellow buoys. I tried to sprint up past them at the finish, but three of us finished together with me in the middle, which threw the whole finish area into an uproar. Apparently, they weren't used to more than one swimmer at the time. Ha!

There were 6 finishers in the Women 35 to 39 age group and 79 finishers in the race.
My overall finish place was 35 and my age group finish place was 3. My time was 1:47:38.0

Here are the official results. Apparently #123 was the guy who finished in front of me! Funny how that happens.

And then, I ran up the hill and got a banana and then we jumped in the car and came home because Doug had a long run to do and the girls had a birthday party to attend. Next year, though, I'll bring some peeps so we can hang out and enjoy the burgers that Scott's group were grilling up for the finishers.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Too Hot for Ladies

Yesterday, I was the second rider in our house. Doug got up at the crack of dawn and left the house as soon as it was light. He was going 60 miles so he would be home at 10:15am.

Meanwhile, instead of preparing for my ride, I lost my marbles and did laundry, changed the bed, cleaned the potties and vacuumed. Luckily, my sister Jen reminded me to pre-hydrate for the ride.

Doug came home while I was still vacuuming so I didn't actually leave the house until nearly 11. Oops. You don't want to ride at noon when all the weather forecast says is "HOT". My first 30 mile loop was OK. I was sweating copiously but there was a breeze and it was OK. I stopped for the second time at 30 miles to refill my water in our neighborhood (because there are coolers of water conveniently located on the golf course). Two guys that I know were stopped to get water also as they played golf with their kids. I greeted them by name, but they still looked at me like I was from Mars. I was wearing my Team Bachman jersey and made sure to mention Doug, but it didn't help. Maybe they were unnerved by my hives, which were brighter and more widespread than before.

Anyway, the ride went OK for the next 10-15 miles and then I started to get a little frazzled. I refilled the waters a third time and soldiered on, getting slower and slower. I usually eat a Gu every hour on the bike, but at the top of hour 4, all of my water was hot and I couldn't stomach another hot Gu. I almost got off of my bike to walk. Luckily, I had some Chomps in my bento box.


The Chomps weren't even a little gooey. I sucked on one at the time until I got home. The slowly-melting Chomp did not make me hurl and had enough fuel + electrolyte to keep me going. Whew. My water ran out again about 4 miles from home. Whatever, it's the home stretch - good thing that part is through the neighborhoods, though.

Doug had the fan set up and brought me a giant Nuun water when I finally rolled in. Thank goodness for him. In retrospect, I should have called it quits while I was in the neighborhood at mile 30. It just didn't occur to me that the ride would go downhill so fast.

In other news, after Annika blabbed the Father's Day present to Doug while we were in the car the other day. She thought so was so sly . . . "Dad, don't buy a Garmin until after Father's Day." Ha! But Doug was pleased to have his data back and we are all enjoying the blueberry muffins now. The girls get a big kick out of wrapping the presents and making the "surprise" breakfast. Doug and I have to plan in advance how to allow him to eat an actual breakfast before the girls wake up. And later, the pool!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Indignity

It sucks getting old.

Doug sent me the following while I was at work on Thursday.

Poor Annie. She is the world's nicest dog to put up with the tutu.

And this.

And the ears to the pig costume.

In dog heaven, she will get to eat lots of extra milkbones for enduring our kids and not biting their faces off.

If I could make the scanner work, I'd put the photo of Oscar the cat in Emily's bathing suit here.

My point, other than eliciting an "awwww" from the dog lovers, is to note that being an "older" woman sometimes sucks. Poor Annie can't hear the kids coming and can't move fast enough to escape them so she gets dressed up in costumes.

While on the 100 mile bike ride last week, and again yesterday, I got hives all over my upper thighs. Very sexy. Who wouldn't want red, swollen, bumpy upper thighs? Only on the front, though, and thank God for that!

It appears that I'm allergic to hot weather and cycling. So, I googled and binged with my friend the internet.

To discover that middle-aged women sometimes just get hives.

Like we get hot flashes.

And stress fractures.


As if cellulite and stretch marks weren't bad enough.

But you know what else middle-aged women get? Beer. And wine.

And those make you not really care about the hives. Or the pink fuzzy pig ears.

Monday, June 08, 2009

100 Miles Before the Day is Done

But first I have to tell you about Annika's first swim meet. It was in Alpharetta at 5:30 last Thursday. Plenty of time if I left my office at 5:15, right?


I changed my clothes in the car, possibly flashing a bunch of drivers on the Old Alabama Connector. I chose to believe that they were not looking. And really, my bra isn't that sexy.

Despite the quick-change and running the half mile from my car to the pool, I missed Annika's first race, the 100 free relay (4 kids, each swimming 25 yards). Oh, the guilt!

Doug said that she did awesome and didn't stop the whole lap! I found her to give her a hug and was worried that she would be stressed because I was late. The guilt was killing me.

Luckily, she didn't care. I was chopped liver. She wanted to play with her buddies.

The second race was 25 free and she did great! She jumped in and swam the whole way without touching the rope. 4th place! Doug let her have a Gu before her third race because my kids love Gu. I figured that it wouldn't hurt because (a) Annika always needs calories, and (b) she was jumping around like a crazy child in the wading pool so she could have been low on fuel. Then, it was on to backstroke. She started out great, but tired fast. She had to rest several times on the rope.

But each time, she set her jaw and resumed her progress. 6th place by many seconds. Ooh was she mad! Apparently she was able to swim the full 25 without stopping at practice, so she was angry with herself about stopping to rest. Pretty tough girl - check out the form!

After that race, we went to Steak-n-Shake for dinner despite the fact that Doug had brought us all sandwiches to eat before and during the meet. Annika and Dagny both had the mini-steakburgers (sliders) and ate them ALL. Apparently, swimming makes you hungry.

In other news, Doug and I rode our first century (100 mile ride) with Natalie yesterday. My mom and Grammy kept the girls while we rode the West Georgia 100 with a bunch of our triathlon buddies (Karen, Neal, Courtney, John, Lou, Justin, Brian, Jessica and Ron). For accuracy's sake, we actually only saw Brian at the beginning and Justin at the start and end, and I never saw Jessica at all. Regardless, it was a great ride. There was cold water and gatorade and an assortment of food, plus sunscreen, portopotties and hand sanitizer at all of the rest stops, except #2 which had run out of water. This would have been fine except we skipped rest stop #1. Oops. Other than that miscue, the race was perfect and the roads were very clearly marked - it was a pleasure.

Doug kept the pace for us and we did great. We averaged right at 16 mph (rolling time only) the whole way, which is awesome for me. I didn't think I could go that fast, but was able to hang on to the back of the faster riders to catch some free mph. In fact, if Doug hadn't been there to hold the pace (and tolerate my valley of darkness in miles 40-60), I wouldn't have gone that fast and probably could have talked myself into quitting at 60 miles because I didn't think I could do it. I have yet to discover if this darkness thing is a fuel issue or if it's just mental. It's weird, though, to be riding along and suddenly and overwhelmingly hate yourself and everyone else. I dropped my chain after water stop #2 and fought to catch back up and got angry. I was saying bad words and shooting birds at Natalie and Doug. It was a bad place.

So the good thing about the ride is that we discovered that I can go farther and faster and power through that stupid valley. And, that there actually is an end to the valley of darkness. I still think the Cheetos helped, though, because of their delicious salty goodness. Because let's be honest, I'm all about the food.

For some reason, I broke out in hives in the last 30 miles of the ride. They didn't itch and weren't spreading so I don't think it was a big deal. Nat had her valley of darkness for the last 20 miles but perked right up after she changed clothes and looked cute again and had a beer.

And Doug? He ran 3 miles. Because he is going to do an Ironman. Holy cow. I have a newfound respect for folks who can ride 112 miles and then run after. My friend Brent, for example, who rode 125 miles yesterday and topped that off with an 8.23 mile run (at 7 minute pace!). He rocks.

So, what ride should we do next . . . hmmm.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby

Today I rode 60 miles (61.92 miles, to be exact) around Roswell.

I thought it would be only slightly more difficult than last week's 50 mile ride.


The first 40 miles were fine. Nat, Jamie Corn and I chatted and waved to the other bikers and had a lovely ride. We even saw Kindzia and the lovely Angela down by the river. We even made fun of Natalie because she doesn't like to fuel. Insert foreboding music here.

Hey - did you know that Angela sells marathon and IM finish framing - check out her site here. It was a beautiful day and we all had a great time. After kicking my ass on the climb up from the river, Jamie peeled off to go up Lake Charles instead of down the big hill on Pine Grove (she is tougher than Nat and me). Nat and I made it down the hill and up Shallowford with only a minor stop because Nat's phone jumped out of her bento box and across the road. Nat veered off towards her folks' house at Jones and I headed back down to the river to get my remaining 20 miles, stopping at the park to refill my water/Accelerade bottles.

Here is where the story goes awry. I was OK on fuel, only a little behind on my Accelerade. I had eaten 1 Gu per hour for three hours (plain, expresso love and vanilla), so that was fine. But it was HOT and my mind got a little fried on the Coleman Road rollers. I coasted down to Inverness for my turnaround and had convinced myself that there was no need to eat another Gu. Because I was at 3 hrs 45 minutes and only had 10 miles to go. I even texted Doug at the turnaround that I would be home in approximately 30 minutes.

People, to go 10 miles in 30 minutes, I would need to ride 20 miles an hour. I don't ride 20 miles an hour. Not even in a race. And, the 10 miles I had to go was uphill - because the river is the lowest point in town.

Nevertheless, I convinced myself that it was silly to have a Gu at the turnaround because it wouldn't "hit" until I was home anyway. That would have been true IF I'd been riding at the aforementioned 20 miles per hour. But alas, I was not.

I started to realize the fuel/Gu problem as I plodded (if you can plod on a bike) up Wileo. However, did I mention it was hot? Blazing hot? Know what happens when it is hot? Your heartrate increases. With an increased heartrate, digestion slows or stops. So, with the increased heartrate, my Accelerade and water were not digesting and were instead threatening to reappear at any moment to paint my handlebars. So there was no way I could eat my Gu. I had Gus in my pocket, plenty of them (because I've made the mistake of not bringing extra before), but my tummy was emphatically opposed to any more admissions.

So, I suffered. And thanked my stars that you can coast on a bike. I hoped against hope that I would have only 3 miles to go at the top of Shallowford so that I wouldn't need to go down Stroup Road. No dice. I needed 4.5 miles. BIG sigh.

Good thing that all of the ride after Stroup is in neighborhoods because I wasn't in any shape to ride on the road with cars. Loopy! I hit upon the genius idea to use my water bottle to sprinkle myself to cool off. That helped a lot. And, luckily, the light at 92 took a ridiculously long time so that I could rest a little and get some more Accelerade in me. I made it, though, and learned (or re-learned) some good lessons for the next ride.
  1. I don't have enough bike fitness to bust out a 60 mile ride on any given day yet.
  2. 1 Gu per hour, no excuses
  3. Do not get behind on Accelerade
  4. I don't ride 20 mph

The neat thing about endurance sports is that there are so many variables. It's not necessarily about who is the fastest, but who is the fastest without making stupid mistakes. And that is hard! Even the pros barf sometimes in a race because they've made a fueling or exertion error. So, next week I'll try to do a better job because Doug and I are riding in the West Georgia 100. Look out!

And, eventually, I'll be able to bust out a 60 mile ride without blinking an eye. Just not yet.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Home Again

We are back from Walt Disney World! Let the laundry begin!

This was not our first visit to the mouse house. Because of the International Builder's Show appearing every few years in Orlando, we have been able to go several times in the past few years. We've done it the fancy way, staying on the club level at the Animal Kingdom Lodge and eating at the Crystal Palace for lunch every day.

This was not that trip.

Just after receiving notice of our income tax refund (a complete and fabulous surprise), Doug found a great deal to stay in the "budget" hotel (Disney's All Star Sports) and subscribe to the pre-paid meal plan. Game on!

We packed food, snacks and bottled water and drove down in my car. The only big thing that only forgot was Dagny's dresses - we had enough outfits for every day, but I had laid out an equal number of dresses for both girls in case they had wardrobe issues or got dirty. Oops. Good thing they wear approximately the same sized clothes.

I have to say that we had just as much fun in the budget hotel as in the posh one. Yes, the food at the lodge was better and the setting was way cooler, but the rooms were about the same size with similar layouts. Really, at Disney, anything more than a room with beds and a bathroom is extra. We would have been more comfortable in a two-bedroom with Wifi, but it wasn't a big hardship to share the internet cable and be silent while the kids napped. Other than the fact that the meal plan gives you ridiculously large amounts of food and is very dessert-centric, it was a perfect set-up. We ate dry cereal or granola bars for breakfast every morning, had a self-serve lunch and had a sit-down dinner every night in the day's park. The food was all tasty and it was nice not having to worry about how much everything cost, especially since Dagny ate nothing the whole trip.

Coincidentally, Doug's sister Katie was going to Disney the same week. We saw them a couple of times, but their schedules did not mesh with ours because they didn't require naps. Fools. Naps are mandatory at Disney, everyone knows that!

Waiting for the opening of Epcot:

Here is Dagny posing for me in the Magic Kingdom while Doug and Annika rode Splashwater Falls again. We were surprised how much the parks freaked Dagny out. She is a control girl, and usually the life of the party but blankie rode a lot of rides with us and she spent a lot of time in the stroller. You should have seen her vibrating with excitement to meet Aurora and Tinkerbell, though. It was awesome.
We had dinner at the Biergarden in Germany at Epcot one night. The food was awesome - tons of sausages, cabbage, saurkraut, potato dumplings, pretzel bread. Yummo! A polka band played a set every few minutes, including at least one drinking song. As they do in Germany, we sat at a big table with another family. They sang their "hie, hie, hie"s with Coke instead of beer. Needless to say, they were not impressed with our singing and left quickly. Too bad, because the restaurant was really fun. Michael, our delightful server, was super-fast with the beer refills and Doug and I had more than our share. We completed Annika's Kim-Possible adventure and watched the fireworks before toddling home. We had a great time, but really suffered through the "Magic Hour" (and all of the other hours) at the Magic Kingdom the next day.
Here is Annika polka-ing with the other kids. That could be Dagny with her - it was hard to catch Dagny because she was so fast. Or, it could have been the beer, I don't know.

Chicken Dance:

We had a blast. Disney just knows how to move large crowds of people. I love them.
In other news, Doug has signed up for the Beach to Battleship Ironman in November. I'll be volunteering because there is no way to get two of us into ironman shape in six months. I'm still doing the Amelia Island race, though, because Aunt Gena has thoughtfully agreed to let us stay with her and Uncle Pat. Now, if I could just get my run distance up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Doug Rocks

And Natalie rocks too!

They ran the Twisted Ankle Marathon in Summerville, Georgia yesterday. For those of you that don't know, Summerville is in the mountains. We got up early and drove to Sloppy Floyd State Park under overcast skies with sprinkles of rain.
The runners started at 9am. Everyone lined up to hear the instructions. This was a very low-key race, so the RD just yelled "go!" and they were off. The girls and I trekked back to the car and got money and the stroller and lined up for the ($5) kids' race. We ran across the playground and jumped a creek. At that point I decided that my run would NOT be on any trails - hefting a double jogger over a creek (even that dinky one) was too much. When Dagny and I caught back up to the group, Annika was crying and talking to a volunteer. She had fallen and twisted her ankle. I babied her a little and then said "let's go". She blubbered that the other kids had left her. I gave her some firm words about how if she kept crying like a baby and walking with me she would never catch them but she could be running and getting closer every second. And then, she took off. I tried to keep up. We eventually caught the end of the group and her new friend Christina. She was thrilled. Didn't care a bit that Christina sprinted at the end and left us in the dust. The RD made special ribbons from the buttons they gave all of the adult racers so Annika was absolutely thrilled to get one. I gave Doug's button to Dagny and all was right with the world.

Annika complained that her legs were tired so I put her in the jogger with Dagny and we started my run. I had planned to go 4 miles so I decided that would take about 45 minutes. We ran around on the roads of the park, which are not flat. At all. We actually ran for about 50 minutes so hopefully I got to 4 miles. Doug had my Garmin so who knows.

Then, it was back to the car to get the lunches, stow the jogger and on to the playground. Muddy. Ick. The girls had a good time on the playground and we noticed some weird bugs hopping all over the ground.
Turns out that they were toads. And when you picked them up, they played dead so it looked like the kids were smushing handfuls of toads, until they put them down and the toads hopped off. That is Dagny's arm for a size comparison. These toads were about as wide as a pencil eraser.

Dagny was even able to pick them up. Here she is showing them to me. Check out her button from the race.

Then, Dagny got hungry so we made our picnic by the finish line and watched the half-marathoners come in. Do you see the bridge across the lake in the photo from the park? That is the route to the finish line! The runners come across the bridge and the announcer reads their number and announces their name and everyone cheers. Awesome!
Annika and I had a little talk about how she kept going in her race even though it was hard. I gave her big praise for keeping going. Then I explained how that was "sucking it up" and we talked about "Suck It Up, Buttercup." It was a good lesson. Doug reinforced later with the "discomfort is temporary, quitting is forever." Annika has the button on her bulletin board so she is very proud of herself for finishing.
Then, more playground and frogs. The boys were throwing rocks at the girls. Then, the boys got on the merry-go-round on their bellies and spun as fast as possible while trailing their hands in the mud puddles. Whew, boy am I glad I only have girls! I packed contingency clothes for everyone but thankfully didn't need them. Some of the kids were running around with no shoes (squishing frogs!), even.
Then Dagny got tired and needed a snack so I was able to convince her to spread out the picnic blanket and read stories. Just in time because it was 4 hours into the race and Doug had predicted a 4:30-5:30 finish. The lady (Desiree) from the Rogue Runners group that I met thought that was optimistic. I was worried. Just as Dagny and I were almost finished reading "It's Not Easy Being a Bunny" (after she had run around like a crazy girl for 45 minutes and made the boys cry while I chatted with Desiree), we saw Doug! He looked great coming across the bridge! No shuffling and he didn't lose body temp. after the race! Yay! As we got him some fluids, Nat came across too. She wasn't shuffling either and really enjoyed a nice Coca Cola at the end. She said it was the shoes that got her to the finish. She couldn't quit and not get to wear the shoes. : ) hee.

And in other news, here is Annika's swim team doing the kickboard. You can't tell here but Annika was first in line with her kickboard. her lane is the middle one with the blonde coach holding the yellow kickboard.

And here, they are kicking while on their backs. Notice how Annika is crashing into the kid behind her.

Instantly after I took this picture, she started to cry because the kickboard slipped away from her. It was downhill from there. Low fuel, cold water, performance anxiety, and nerves all combined to undermine her confidence. She told the coach she couldn't swim so she had to move to the 4-5 year old group on the steps - you can see them in the top photo. Oh, the humilation. We talked all evening about how to get back to the "big kid" group. And now she only swims with the big kids - all of her friends from school.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where It's At

For years, my run speed has been increasing. In 2001, I struggled to run just 1 mile in 8 minutes. I would warm up on the treadmill and then set it for 8 minutes per mile and hold on while I ran as fast as I possibly could. Then, I ran more and got faster and could do a 5K at that speed. I remember breaking 25 minutes in the Polar Bear Run 5K in 2002 the week we found out I was pregnant with Annika. I had thought I was just hung over on the day of the race. As I increased my run volume, my speed increased. It was amazing!

Last year at this time, I ran my 5K PR at the Big Peach 5K in 22:45.

On Friday, I ran 3.08 miles around my block in 33 minutes.

Now, I wasn't trying to go fast but it felt really difficult and I was sweating like a pig. It is the first time I have timed my run since the week of Thanksgiving. I should have left the Garmin at home and basked in my ignorance.

It was disheartening to know that all of my hard-fought run fitness is gone. Doug has trained for and raced one marathon (ING) and has trained for and will race a second next week (Twisted Ankle) in the time that I have gone from 17+ miles as my long run to 3 miles.

3 miles used to be nothing!

And now, it's work.

But, 3 miles is still way better than 0 miles - which has been my run volume for the past 5 months. So I just have to keep telling myself that I took time off when I was pregnant and I came back so there is no reason I can't do the same now. And the same thing goes for the extra lbs and cellulite that I've put on. I've taken it off before and I can do it again.

Too bad bathing suit season starts next week.

In other news, Annika is still sick with the weird flu. Which sucks because her first swim team practice is tomorrow. I'm SO excited about the swim team. I really hope she likes it. Just wait until I post a photo of her in her fish swim cap. It is awesome.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Easter Photos

In lieu of an actual post, here are some photos from the Heslin's Easter Party.

The hunting begins. . .

And by "hunting," I mean "picking up."

Dagny approves of the candy. Notice that she is dressed as Cinderella. Nothing would do but to wear a pretty dress for the party. And Cinderella is the prettiest of them all when you are three.

Annika begins to enjoy the loot. She did her own hair after a nice trip from Grammy for a trim.

Dagny drives Wyatt's car.

This photo isn't from Easter, but is from Annika's school field trip to the farm on Wednesday.
Price of field trip - $17
Price of pants that might be ruined from mud- $8
Photo that Aunt Katie sent with her phone while I was in an interminable meeting - Priceless

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My Way

There is not a lot of time for during-the-week bike riding at our house. With work taking up most of the daylight hours and dinner/dog walking consuming the rest, it's hard to make time for a ride.

This week Doug rode with Neal and the North Atlanta Multisport Club group on Tuesday. Our friend Mark was supposed to ride (his first time!) so Doug picked that day. Mark had to bail because it was his birthday, but Doug still rode. The girls and I had dinner and took the dog for an extra-long walk. We have to do more solo dinners like that so the girls can remember that I'm still the Mom.

Anyway, Thursday was my day to ride. The NAMC peeps were going to do the Bike Roswell ride and try to hang with the B group. That would have been a very good workout for me, but I just couldn't make myself want to do it. I don't like the packs of cyclists on Thursday nights and the blatant disregard of traffic rules. And, I would have been really rushed to get there by 6:15, especially since I was close to talking myself out of riding at all.

So, instead of driving to Riverside Park, I just left from our house. I did the north of 92 part of the Roswell 40 mile ride minus the part where you have to go on Crabapple, then rode throught Alive After Five and down to Coleman, then headed back up Hightower on the regular route and home. I stopped at all stop signs and did not pass any traffic, even though Canton Street was stop-and-go with Alive After Five traffic. With my auto-pause OFF (that means my watch keeps counting the time when I'm stopped), I averaged 14.02 mph for 24 miles. I was racing the dark on the way home, but it was a lovely ride. Pretty good, considering.

I missed seeing the peeps and the possible achievement of hanging with the B group, but I had a great ride and got to follow my own rules. : )

In other news, Doug and the girls and I are running (I'm walking) in the Sweetwater 420 5K race today. I was able to run a few minutes on the treadmill on Monday, but my foot has been sore ever since so I'm back to walking for a while. Maybe I'll only need a week and then I can get back at it, but I'm not taking any chances.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Facebook

Once upon a time, I used to mull my blog posts for days. During my runs, I would compose and re-write them in my head. Sometimes, I'd even write them up and then delete them because they were too whiney or too political or too drunk or too bossy.

Now, not so much.

When I have free time now (which is way less time that I used to have), I check my peeps on the Facebook. This morning, I looked at Jason's photos of his new baby, watched Yvonne's proposal video, and took a movie quiz. All good things, but I found myself wishing I'd heard Jason's story of the 24 hours his amazing wife spent in labor and seen the smile on Yvonne's face and how her eyes crinkle at the edges as she recounted the surprise video that her fiance sneaked into her "Triplets of Belleville" movie. I like the knowledge of the good stuff going on in everyone's lives - but it's a thin substitute for the real thing.

And, have you noticed that a lot of the bloggers don't blog anymore (me included)?

We are too busy listing our top 5 beers, taking 1980s movie quizes, doling out flair or plants or rising up the Wordchallenge ladder or poking each other.

I miss Colin's long discussions of his bike and his diatribes against George W. Bush's administration.

Do you remember when people used to write letters and send cards? Going out to the mailbox was a treat because there might be a surprise note lurking in there. I used to write letters by the dozens, at least one every few days. And, I wrote little notes to friends that I saw in the paper or met at a luncheon or business associates after a closing.

Not anymore. The mailbox has only ads and bills and the occasional note from my Grammy.

I think I'm finally old enough to miss the good 'ol days.

Excuse me while I get back to see who Brian's top 5 is.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

ING Marathon Race Escort Report

Race escorting was a completely humbling experience.

I had prepared for the event by mapping the course on the computer and driving it. Then, armed with my cue sheet I rode 2 loops on my bike, only to find that I had a few of the streets wrong. Later, I did two more loops on the bike armed with a pen to correct the cue sheet. However, I didn't get to do the practice rides with actual wheelers so I was flying blind.

On Saturday night, I called my friend Curtis (a veteran race escorter and knower of all things bike) to get the inside skinny on my last-minute questions. Are there code words? Do I ride next to or in front of the racer? Should I yell encouragement or only identify hazards?

Curtis's number one piece of advice: If my wheeler was a man, I should wear a bikini. Yeah, I think he might have been doing some 16oz bicep repeats on Saturday night. : ) Seriously, though, he gave me some good answers to my questions and I calmed down. A little. Then I had to fold 4 loads of laundry to relax enough to sleep.

So we showed up at Centennial Olympic Park at 5:45 am on Sunday morning. I dropped Doug at the Omni hotel and went into the park with my newly-shod and washed bike, McGyver-ed light setup and ghetto cue sheet taped to my bars but completely lost as the to the actual plan. I avoided speaking to anyone because I was so scared. The wheelers started arriving pushing their race chairs in front of them like jog-strollers. They were very sinew-y and fast-looking. Whew, very intimidating. Luckily, the group of escorts was very nice and welcoming. No one said a word about my tri-bike after the zillion "which bike are you using?" questions from my friends. I rode THE bike. It's a yellow tri-bike with aerobars and red flowers. Not very professional-looking.

We posed for a photo. You can tell I'm freaking out. I do have ING orange and blue dealies in my braids. Check out the GU socks and Moving Comfort running top. Gotta support the peeps!

This is Jett's photo. Link over to his blog and read his race report here. He was a pro at the escorting. The fast guys wanted him to be their escort.

After a short meeting at the State Bar of Georgia headquarters, the escorts lined up and we were counted off like in gym class. I doled out Gus to the people around me - share the Gu love, baby. The national anthem played and suddenly, there was a mad "HERE THEY COME" and big gust of wind whooshed by, preceding a big group of wheelers who flew by us. There was a lot of yelling and noise and confusion and suddenly Leslie was on #20. I had seeded myself towards the back (#25) because I'm not fast, thinking that I'd be a sweeper at the rear. Wrong - a clump of wheelers came by and she got through 26.

Holy Crap! What next?

I got a little in front of who I thought my wheeler was and promptly forgot whether the guy in the blue shirt or the yellow shirt was mine. We went down Marietta Street. The guy next to me (Paul, maybe?) had the other guy. Paul(?) told me which one was his and I promptly forgot again. I stayed with the guy I thought was mine. Then, as we turned left and went down Piedmont I noticed that Paul and I had only guy between us. Crap! I listened to him tell Paul about how this was his first race and how he has only been in his chair for 10 months.

I started to slow down to look for the other guy when Leslie rode up and asked me to stay a little closer to my guy. "OK," I gulped, with tears in my eyes. Jeez, we haven't even been a mile and I've lost my guy. I SUCK! I'm totally ruining his race!

I found my guy (turquoise blue chair, yellow jersey). You can see a photo of him here (enter photo number 36339 and he is the 4th from the left on the top row). I explained that I was confused about which guy was mine and apologized profusely. He grunted. We were going uphill so that wasn't rude - he was working hard. When wheelers go uphill, you can see how gravity is making their wheels want to reverse and go back down. Then, we got to Publix and the turn onto North Ave was upon us and I had to tell him about the turn and how there is a really sharp right onto the next street at the bottom of the hill (danger spot #1) so there was no chit chat. I told him about the next hills - not steep but long and he grunted. I thought that he hated me. The racers had spread out a lot by this point in the race as we get closer to Sweet Auburn. I pointed out the road construction on the right on the way down Jackson. As we motored up that hill, I told my racer about Curtis's advice, thinking that I'd break the ice. "Not today," I quipped "too cold. Maybe next year." Big grunt. Maybe a laugh? We went past the King Center and I notice all of the homeowners sitting on their porches with their coffee and dogs. It was really neat and the sun looked so pretty as it rose over the houses. I wanted to point this out to my racer, but it was an uphill so he didn't look like he wanted any crap about coffee and sunrises.

We turned right on Randolph and left onto Edgewood. Then, sirens. Not blaring, just honking like when they want you to pull over. The first marathoner was coming through.

Let me just tell you that runners and wheelers do not go the same speed. Wheelers FLY down the hills but going uphill is an inch-by-inch struggle. Runners seem to step along at mostly the same rate at all times - their strides get shorter on hills but they are still turning over at the same pace.

Four motorcycle cops came by on Edgewood and took up the whole road. I had to whistle them. I was very hesitant to whistle at them at first, because they were the police, but they wouldn't get out of the way. My guy was about to go downhill and they were in the way. And then there was the pace car (SUV). So, 4 cops, an SUV, me, my guy, the woman escort with the glasses, her female wheeler (if you looked at the photos, she is the racer to the right of my guy), and the first marathoner all riding together at different speeds. What a cluster $%^$#. Finally, I strapped on my big girl panties and got more insistent with my whistling (copying glasses woman) and the cops pulled away as we got to the place where Euclid veers off and there was sea of cones - it was very confusing. I was worried about what the cones meant. Maybe they changed the course? Which way to go? I knew we needed to stay straight, so I sucked it up and told my guy to go straight and follow me. That darn SUV stuck, though. I just tried to be a buffer between my wheeler and the car because I didn't know if they could see him. I whistled them several times. They were mad. The marathoner passed us on Euclid - he looked free and easy loping away and whew - the pace car was gone too.

We turned onto Moreland and had new smooth pavement down to the turn onto Freedom Parkway. I told my racer and he grunted. Whee! We sped down the hill, turned and hit the hills. As he motored up the hills, I told my racer about the downhill past the Carter Center and the bad right turn there. 4 wheelers crashed there last year because it was wet. I did NOT mention this to him. The glasses woman escorting the female wheeler was a non-stop encouragement machine. They were close to us on that hill. The woman (whose name I've forgotten) was all "whoo" "you look awesome" "way to go" "keep it steady". Was I supposed to yell like that? If my racer was like Doug, he would have wanted to strangle me. I told my racer that I was going to yell, but that he could tell me to shut up. Grunt. Again, we were going uphill because you have to talk in the uphills because there is too much other stuff to worry about in the downhills. Then it occurred to me that maybe English was not his language. Aha!

Then, the downhill and turn. I kept yelling about it and hoped my guy heard me. I cleared the turn and waited around the bend. It was wet, but he made it through just fine. Whew.

We turned right again onto North Ave and then went up a looooong hill to turn left on Highland. I think I told my racer that this was the worst hill in the course. If not, I should have because it was the steepest. We turned and zipped down Highland. I whistled a lot of runners here "wheeler coming through" - we were near the front of the half-marathon pack. One guy in light blue clothes would not move. I was a little hesitant in my whistling and talking, though, and may have confused him by being on the right. I should have been more forceful and gone by on the left to lead my racer - people respond better to the "take charge" directions than "hey I'm going by on the right but my wheeler is coming on your left so move" discussion. I had to apologize to my racer for that too.

We turned left on Virginia Ave and then went down the hill past Inman MS. Sharp right turn here. Then a lovely stretch on Park Drive. We went really fast here and didn't have to slow down for anything. After crossing Monroe, there are four speed humps. I called them out to my racer and the big bump going onto the bridge. Then a hard left into Piedmont Park. It was so beautiful in there. We had smooth sailing in the park and I took that time to prep my racer for the hard right turn and long uphill out of the park on 10th.

It was getting cold as we turned onto Juniper. I told my wheeler that this section wasn't steep, but very long. Then as he motored up the hill, I warned him about the tight and bumpy turn onto 5th Street. That turn always feels like the beginning of the home stretch to me. We labored up the hill to Peachtree and all of the police started yelling for my guy - cheering him on with every stroke. I wanted to hug them all. My racer grunted really loud for them. : )

We took the right onto Peachtree and then the fast left back onto 5th and then we were in GA Tech. I warned my wheeler about the downhill turn onto Techwood and then we started the long climb back up to the finish. We turned onto North Avenue and lots of people were there to cheer for us going up the hill. We did the Tech Parkway section, the quick left onto Means Street and then Marietta Street was upon us. I yelled out whenever there were holes in the street and when to go into the other lane and yelled encouragement in between. Marietta isn't a steep hill, but it grinds on you. The female wheeler and glasses woman passed us here - that woman was tough. She did awesome! And then it was the last three lights and I told my racer we were almost there and directed him into the finishing chute. Escorts can't cross the finish line, so turned wide and exited thru a hastily opened gap in the fencing, stage-right.

And it was done. Whew. Glasses-woman and I held each other's bikes for a potty break and then I defied the access nazi to cross the road that the kids would be crossing, lifting my bike and hopping two fences to get out of the park. In the confusion, I forgot to get my shoes from the wheelers' tent. After making it out and back around the park to put my bike in the car, I realized my mistake and had to walk the half-mile back to the tent in my bike shoes. Oops. Had I gone to the bike tent (only 1 fence-hop required), I would have gotten to meet my racer, Muhammad, from the Dominican Republic. He was pleased with his race and had his girl friend there to help translate for him. : ) Go Muhammad, you rock!

If I can run again by next year, it will be a really hard choice between running this race and escorting. It was the best. I loved every moment of it.