Thursday, March 30, 2006

Who's a Shark?!

Me baby! That's right, ME! (OK, maybe a little baby shark. With floaties and training wheels. But I'm definitely morphing into sharkhood - I can feel it.)

I just had my first swim lesson and Oh. My. God!! I'm SO gonna rock the swim this year! Best 15 freaking bucks I EVER spent. One lesson took 10 seconds off my lap time. 10 SECONDS! In our pool, that averages out to taking 5 MINUTES off my half-mile. That means one single lesson improved my abominable stroke (she was really nice about it, but I could tell it was really bad) so much that I'm gonna blow away the 20 minute Sprint swim goal I set!

I guess it was fate that I screwed up my knee and went swimming instead of running last week! If I hadn't I never would have met this instructor. Between money being tight, not being able to find an instructor and my newfound focus on running I was seriously going to let the swim go the way of simple survival for another year. But now it appears I'm going to do well on the swim AND the run. And hey, now that the gears on my bike actually SHIFT, hmmm... I might just have a hat trick!

I haven't been this excited about training since... I'm thinking since I ran that mile before the Bronchitis That Wouldn't Die. I'm walking on air over here.

The perfect ending to this great swim was bumping into one of the girls I used to be in weights class with - haven't seen her since she started teaching at another gym - and she told me she couldn't believe how much smaller I look since last summer. (And I was in a bathing suit, people!)

I can't wait for my next lesson!


Had a killer workout in weight training yesterday. Still have to pamper my knee, so she worked my upper body more than usual.

I guess it's safe to say I'm back from my illness. My first post-bronchitis attempt at weight training was a pathetic display of baby weights and mini-sets that ended halfway through class, and subsequent efforts have only been slightly better. I was worried I'd lost a year of progress, but I'm not worried any more.

Yesterday I was doing sets with weights I'd never dreamed of - one of the pyramids that used to be 8/10/12 is now 15/20/25! It was hard but it felt great, just right.

By the end of class I was done - my biceps were so fried you could've slapped 'em on a plate and served 'em up with mashed taters and gravy.

I felt fabulous. Then. But when I woke up this morning... ooooh, mamma. My upper body is so sore it's a miracle I managed to get dressed.

Somehow I need to resolve this little problem before 4:30, when I have my first private swim lesson....

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Crunching Numbers

I found a website that seems like it will be helpful for the whole calorie-counting endeavor. It's also got a caloric-needs calculator, so for kicks I put my numbers (height, weight, age) in.

I was blown away. The number was outrageous. I tried again, once at each of the activity levels, just to see. Here's what it told me:

If I live an X, then I need X calories/day:
Sedentary, 2340
Somewhat Active, 2650
Active, 2930
Very active, 3330

I think it's safe to say that I'm living a pretty active lifestyle, what with race training 3-5 times a week. And according to this, I'm not even eating enough for someone of my size living a sedentary lifestyle.

Sooooo... does this really mean I'm eating 1100 calories a day less than I'm supposed to? How is that even possible? And if I'm not losing weight eating 2200 calories a day, how in the world am I supposed to lose it eating 3300 a day?!

I don't even think I can eat that much. I'm already eating something every few hours and feel full most of the time. Especially with all the herbal tea and water I drink.

Guess it's time to make an appointment with a professional. I thought I was fairly well informed, I always knew that we should be eating more than we probably thought we should, but this is ridiculous. I need to know if this is right.

In the meantime, perhaps I could devise an experiment with the recommended caloric consumption? It would have to be something rrreeaaallly rich and packed full o' calories... A ha! Ben and Jerry, come to mamma...

Update: This site recommended 2500. It also said I should be experiencing fat loss with a net daily intake of around 2000... and mine's closer to 1800. Gah!!!

Count me in

I want to say thanks to Keryn for giving me food for thought, as it were. I told her offline that I'd never go back to counting calories because I can't bear to live my life that way ever again. After years of concerted effort to change my eating habits I don't see the point. I've done everything you can think of - Jenny Craig, Richard Simmons, Susan Powter - and none of them did a damn thing for me because they all focus on stuff like portion control and making healthy choices, things that were never a real problem for me. Because of all the wasted money and effort and hating them in general, and because I've always connected the concept of tracking my eating with those programs, I never wanted to count calories again.

I'm here to say I'm gonna eat those words. I thought about it long and hard, and I realized that this plateau wasn't going to end if I didn't change something. So as of yesterday, I started writing everything down and counting all the calories.

As a test yesterday, I ate whatever I felt like, when I felt like it, without overtly making every meal a healthy choice. Even treated myself to a little piece of Dove dark chocolate at 9:00 last night. I was quite curious where I was at, calorie and portion wise, on an average, casual day of eating.

I'm thrilled to report that I was right on the money. 2200 calories for the day (at my weight, what's recommended, but I'm going to talk to a nutritionist about limiting to 2000 to see what happens), less the 300 I burned at the gym. Even better, my portions were just about perfect. For instance, for lunch I had half a sandwich and a few chips. I got out the ol' diet scale to measure the chips I'd normally have allowed myself (a perfect 1 oz serving size!), and the cheese I put on my sandwich (less than an ounce). And no, I don't usually eat chips. I actually had them instead of an apple or pickle just to see how badly they charted.

It's a bit of a hassle to keep up but I think it will help me figure some things out. Worst case, I find out that I'm doing ok with food and just need to kick up the exercise a notch, which has been my theory all along. I'm hoping it will help me understand how my nutrition correlates to the weeks I gain/lose so I can make some progress.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Ask the Question

I was captivated from the very first time the Kahuna mentioned that Robo-Stu asks him every day "what did you do today to prepare for Ironman?"

I loved it. And since I don't have an android training partner - don't even have Reluctant Training Partner any more - I put a note on my computer. Now, when I sit down to work every morning and peruse my land of post-its, I have to contemplate that question.

Here I've been struggling for 9 months with a weight loss plateau, tap-dancing with the same 2-4 pounds over and over. I work extra hard to move down a pound or two, then get busy or sick or whatever and before I know it I'm right back where I was. I've already aired my frustrations on this topic at length, the horse is dead and I'll beat it no longer. The gist is I eat pretty well and exercise quite a bit and here I still sit, so obviously I need to change something.

More often than not, my diet would make the average person look gluttonous, yet it's still not doing the trick so it's time to take serious action in this arena.

It hit me this morning, while I was making the decision for breakfast (cinnamon raisin bagel loaded with cream cheese? Hmm, not so much. Wheaties with soy milk? An orange with a slice of whole wheat toast? A Slim Fast?), that I can do the same thing I've been doing with my workouts with my nutrition.

So from now on, before I put anything in my mouth I'm going to make a sincere attempt to ask myself this question: what impact will this have on my weight loss?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Verdict is In

Patello-Femoral Syndrome. AKA Chondromalacia. AKA Runner's Knee.

Generally caused by muscle imbalance (weaker quads), often seen in runners, often seen early in the training season. Apparently the v-shaped underside of the patella rubs wrong against the femoral groove and the whole mess of cartilage gets inflamed. He said it's something I've probably had for a while (I sometimes get similar knee pain after a long ride, just never this severe or long-lasting) and my little step-ladder incident happened to tweak it just right to cause an acute flare-up.

I've gotta take anti-inflammatories for a while, not do anything that loads the knee-cap (squatting, lunging, stair-climbing). I am allowed to walk as long as I go easy and the pain doesn't return in force. We chatted about the swimming - I couldn't figure out how that caused it to hurt - and figured out that pushing off the wall was the problem. (So I can swim as long as I don't push off the wall during turns?!?)

Once again I was glad my doctor's also an endurance athlete (marathoner). He's had this before, he took it seriously, he took the time to really talk to me about how to handle an active recovery and gave me advice on how to prevent flare-ups in the future.

I'm happy. I've got a name for it, info on how to treat and prevent it... and I just keep thinking that Robo-Stu is right, and it's freaking awesome: normal people don't have these problems.

Divine Intervention

You ever hear music so beautiful that you're crying and you don't even know it? You're just so intent on what you're hearing that you have no idea tears are streaming down your face?

I got that again tonight - got it once last week when I heard a song from The Color Purple (my all time favorite movie, so had to be interested when they put it to music).

I rented Rent - 'cause hey, when he's out of town I sneak in the musicals when I can. And I was tired of being quite possibly the last person in the country to not have seen it.

It's not my favorite format for musical theater - it's not like a Phantom or a Miss Saigon or even an Oklahoma, where all the songs have beautiful lyrics and rhythm and rhyme. It's more like prose poetry set to music. But oh my god, the voices.

Bono once told an interviewer that they can always count on Where the Streets Have No Name - he said when they play that song, it's like god walks through the room.

That's how I feel about this music, about these harmonies, about those powerful voices that carry me away on their own strength, a capella. This is what the angels in my heaven are singin'.

I could listen forever. It gives me goosebumps, it makes my heart soar and tears run down my face. If I was at the crossroads today I'd get in line behind Robert Johnson to sell my soul for a voice like that.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Timing is Everything

I was so stressed out from work yesterday I did the only thing I could. I called the client for whom I was going to be late unless I worked until midnight (again), got an extension until the end of the week, and went to the gym to de-stress.

On Tuesdays I usually do a mid-morning run. But because of my ouchy knee (still hurts, 10 days and counting, calling doctor tomorrow) I can only swim. So I found myself in the pool at 4:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, a very goofy time indeed.

As luck would have it, I overhead someone talking about hoping the water temp was good because she was heading in for 2 1/2 hours. I asked if she was on a swim team (she was wearing a college sweatshirt) and she said she used to be, but was now teaching private swim lessons!!!

I've only been trying to find a private swim instructor for over a year now, so it's kind of a big deal to me. I had resigned myself to working mainly on running this year, keeping the swim status quo (i.e. wretched), and trying to find a way to pay for the joining the outrageously expensive club with the masters group next year.

She usually teaches little kids (which is what she did while I churned out my 1000 yards) but is willing to give me a lesson or two and see how it goes. I figure since she used to compete, and because I stink ooooh so badly, surely I can get something out of it. For $15 a lesson, I'm more than willing to give it a shot.

Suddenly I don't mind so much that my knee's a temporary wreck.

Timing is Everything

I was so stressed out from work yesterday I did the only thing I could. I called the client for whom I was going to be late unless I worked until midnight (again), got an extension until the end of the week, and went to the gym to de-stress.

On Tuesdays I usually do a mid-morning run. But because of my ouchy knee (still hurts, 10 days and counting, calling doctor tomorrow) I can only swim. So I found myself in the pool at 4:00 on a Tuesday afternoon, a very goofy time indeed.

As luck would have it, I overhead someone talking about hoping the water temp was good because she was heading in for 2 1/2 hours. I asked if she was on a swim team (she was wearing a college sweatshirt) and she said she used to be, but was now teaching private swim lessons!!!

I've only been trying to find a private swim instructor for over a year now, so it's kind of a big deal to me. I had resigned myself to working mainly on running this year, keeping the swim status quo (i.e. wretched), and trying to find a way to pay for the joining the outrageously expensive club with the masters group next year.

She usually teaches little kids (which is what she did while I churned out my 1000 yards) but is willing to give me a lesson or two and see how it goes. I figure since she used to compete, and because I stink ooooh so badly, surely I can get something out of it. For $15 a lesson, I'm more than willing to give it a shot.

Suddenly I don't mind so much that my knee's a temporary wreck.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Feel like I haven't really blogged in ages. Life's been getting the best of me lately and I don't know where the time is going. Husband's on a business trip, foster dog is giving me a run for my money, work's on one of those roller coaster climbs where I work 'til 11 and am still buried, and my knee still hurts so I can't indulge in a nice stress-relieving run. Dishes and laundry are piled high and all I can worry about right now is the projects due for my clients yesterday and today that aren't turned in yet.

I just lost a battle of wills with the damn dog over a piece of paper in the back yard. Some stupid flyer that blew into the yard, I was reaching for it to throw away and he grabbed it. He ate it right in front of me while very deliberately darting away from me as I got close. Yesterday lost half a workday at the vet with him - he ate one of my socks and just for fun, has a bladder infection. So, add one more thing to the list of shit I need to get done: daily obedience reinforcement training sessions with the foster dog.

It's a good goddamn thing he's cute.

Ugh. Want to go run. Can't. Want to shop for new bike shoes. Don't have time. Hopefully I can get enough work done this morning to justify sneaking off to the pool for a bit this afternoon.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Shoe Shopping

We got our tax refund and that means it's time for me to put my poor feet out of their misery with some bike shoes that actually fit. The one ride I managed to squeeze in between snowstorms was a painful reminder of just how badly I need to get this particular equipment problem resolved.

Here's the thing - I've searched far and wide for shoes available in wide widths with very little success. My problem is that my feet are little and if shoes are offered in wide at all, they're only available in men's sizes, and most manufacturers don't offer men's sizes as small as I need.

I have high arches too, which apparently means a "high volume" foot - so often men's shoes actually end up fitting me better anyway when I can get them small enough.

I've already established that Sidi Megas are out - I need a 36/37 and the smallest they come is 40. Even once I figure out what brands might work for me, I have to find a damn shoe store that actually stocks them so I can try 'em on, because I learned a long time ago that all wides are not created equal and ordering online is nearly impossible.

Suggestions would be greatly appreciated, I'm pretty much floundering on this one.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Just one of those weeks

My bright idea on Tuesday about a swim being a great way to take it easy on my ouchy knee turned out to be a bad idea, or at least bad the way I managed to execute it.

The next morning (Wed) my right shoulder hurt like hell. IBd and heating pad all day, still hurt. Next day, same thing, just slightly less. But by the end of that day my neck hurt too, because I was holding it kinda stiff trying not to move my shoulder. It's 3 days out now, hurts less, but still enough I'm having trouble with stuff like backing up my car.

Now I can't swim because my shoulder hurts and can't run/bike because my knee's still tender. Guess I just have to write this week off and see how I feel on Monday.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Small Victory

I'm entering the 3rd year of this whole exercise thing, which means the 3rd year wearing my trusty Speedo. I felt like the absolute shit when I got it - Me! In a Speedo! Only, like, REAL athletes wear Speedos! OK, yeah, I had to order it from the old lady, bigger sizes (I needed a 20), aquatic fitness line, but I didn't care. At least I went with the "contemporary" fit - none of that stupid boy-leg "conservative" cut crap for me. I mean come on ladies, you're in a bathing suit, you really think an extra inch of fabric is gonna hide those hips?!

The other night before I headed out to the pool I glanced in the mirror and did the usual 'hike n' adjust' to get the girls where they should be in the suit. They promptly refused and fell back to resume their march to my knees. This was all kinds of wrong, but it took me a minute to put my finger on it.

Then it hit me - my Speedo used to be like a tourniquet, the girls used to stay put. It was such a great fit that I quit doing run/swim bricks because I couldn't get it on under an hour if I was already sweaty. Now it's kind of loose and aaaaaalmost baggy in spots. Two years of chlorine exposure and a 40 pound weight loss made my Speedo TOO BIG. Woo hoo!

So I get to order a new Speedo. In a size freaking 16!!! Not quite as good as the smaller-jean-size happy dance, because swimwear has a stretch-factor. But still. It merits a little mini happy dance.

To answer the questions re: quantity: I do have two identical suits I rotate, and both are actually worn out because I was swimming a lot last year trying to learn and then to train up to race distance. I'm only ordering one new one because I'm putting extra focus on running this year, so won't be in the pool as much.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hitting the Boneheaded Jackpot

I jacked up my knee this weekend.

Not in a cool training incident way either. A totally stupid, mundane embarrasing way. I was painting one of the bedrooms. I was going up on the stepladder and was slightly off balance and instead of stepping down and trying again I pushed through the weird feeling in my knee, knowing it was a bad idea as I did it.

That was about when I got the sharp, shooting pain. I spent the rest of the weekend in a surprsing amount of pain. I iced and IBd and tried to take it easy. There was much limping involved, wore a brace initially. Total boneheaded injury, still hurts.

So with all that it's probably for the best that I missed my run this morning due to a critical client obligation (Sidebar: To anyone out there who may, at some point in their careers, hire a professional writer. If you need a 40 page business plan polished, please, please, call said writer with more than 24 hours notice before it is due to be turned in to the investors. I'm begging you.)

I was inspired by the Kahuna's post and decided come hell or high water I was going to work out tonight, and figured a swim was the best way to go easy on my knee. I almost got sucked into American Idol, but Husband Type Person forced me out the door.

It turned out to be a pretty great workout, and for a specific reason. I no longer have to worry about counting the damn laps. Because... in what is quite possibly the longest running boneheaded streak, after 3 months of ownership I just realized that I can also use my shiny new Ironman lap watch to count pool laps. (Wylee, do I get a limerick?) This is a critical point in our dinky pool that takes 60 laps to go a freaking mile. I always lose count around, oh, 17.

That's when the conversations in my head start.

"Was that 17 or 18?"
"I dunno. Maybe it was only 16?"
"Call it 16 to be safe."

5 laps later.

"Crap! Was that 23 or 24?"
Replay last few laps in head, rewinding internal dialouge to search for clues. This never helps.
"Hurry up, only half a lap left to decide what lap you're on."
"Call it 24. Cause 16 was probably 17 or maybe 18 so I probably did extra anyway."

And so it goes.

If I'm really concentrating on counting, it goes more like this:

"16. What lap am I on? 16 Baby! Yeah. Sweet 16 ain't never been kissed... huh, that's the only lyric I know to that one. Who was the 16th President? Lincoln baby!"
"Ok, 17. Seeeeeeveeeeenteeeeen. Seventeen. Hey! Don't drop your elbow! What lap was it again? Oh yeah 17. Didn't I used to get Seventeen magazine?"
"18 and stroke and stroke and breath and 18 and life to goooooo your crime is time and it's 18 and life... oh crap wait now it's 19"

Gets old, yeah?

So I love my lap watch. It's amazing how much I've been able to focus on my form - and how much it's improved in only two sessions of doing it this way - when I'm not busy playing word association games.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Failure is in the eye of the beholder

I’ve been blessed with so many successes in my life it’s easy for even me to wonder why I would take up something at which I am so abominably bad.

I’m the over-achiever – the section leader, the yearbook editor, the straight A student, the scholarship winner, the Mensa candidate, even the beauty pageant finalist. I got the good jobs, married the good guy, got the big house with the big dogs and the big yard.

I literally do not know how to fail. I suspect I’d be pretty bad at it, should failure come my way. And I guess it’s bound to happen, because I just can’t leave well enough alone. I’m not happy unless I’m staring down another challenge.

I suppose there are those who would say I’ve failed at plenty of stuff. Take my first major – Nuclear Engineering. Loved it. Loved everything about it. But it’s true what they say about weed-out classes, and I damn near failed out. Me, of the formerly perfect grades, on academic probation. It’s been more than a decade and I’m still ashamed of it. But you know what? At the time, I didn’t see it as failure. Couldn’t, or my world would have come crashing down around my ears. I chose to see it as a wake-up call. One that had the dual purpose of getting me into a course of study that ultimately shaped my future, and getting me out of an industry that was in a death spiral. Failure is in the eye of the beholder.

There are those who would say I failed myself because I let my health and my weight spiral out of control. I got sick enough one doctor said I could have died. But I fought, am still fighting to this day, I continue to win battle by lonely battle, and one day I'll claim a victory over this too. Will be leaner and stronger and healthier than the size 6 teenager who got on this roller coaster. Do I wish it had been otherwise? Damn straight. But if this is my road to travel, then I hope I learn something along the way.

But for all my successes, and fighting the good fight on my less-than-successes, my dirty little secret is that I suck at sports. Reaaaallly suck. Pick a sport, any sport, and I can likely produce concrete examples of my superb suckiness. Because I keep trying, so I’ve had lots of opportunities to stink.

My physical limitations are right there, every day. They serve many purposes - sometimes as excuses for sucking, but mainly as obstacles to overcome that make any success that much sweeter.

I’m short. Finding a racing bike to fit me was an endurance event in itself, spiking a volleyball isn’t an option, and don’t get me started on basketball.

I’m curvy. Running – from bases to races - is not just exercise, it’s an exercise in shopping for industrial strength bras.

I've got allergies from here to next week – my congested head makes swimming on any given day a coin toss.

I'm hypothyroid. My energy level on my best day is probably about what the average person's is on a day with PMS, insomnia and the flu.

I have chronic migraine and my eyes are hypersensitive to light – a lethal combination. If I’m in direct sunlight for too long I can end up in the ER getting special shots so I don’t pass out from the puking and the pain – not exactly a recipe for athletic success.

So why triathlon? Why embrace the opportunity to suck in triplicate?

I have to admit that initially, a large part of the answer was "because nobody thought I could." There was a time when nothing got me going more than wanting to prove myself to others. Not very noble, certainly not very mature, but there it is.

Another piece of the puzzle is that I get bored easily. Very, very easily. Just the nature of a Mensa IQ. Few things can hold my attention for very long… but this, this is different. It’s impossible to get bored with things I can never conquer. That's incredibly appealing to me.

The rest of the answer is that, deep down, I always wanted to. Most people, when they first learn of triathlon, have something of a ‘that’s cool, but I will never do that’ reaction. My reaction from the very beginning was an awestruck “wooooooooow.”

My original motives might not have been pure, but now I can say I'm in it for the love of the sport. The wow has long since won over whatever petty little chips were on my shoulder this time last year. Without the wow, one race would have been enough. Even I was surprised when it wasn't. But it's how I knew it was real, and nothing matters now but the joy it brings me.

So, here I am. Still overweight? Yup. Got a fancy bike? Nope – she’s entry level. Can I run? No. But I will.

I will. And I guess that’s the essence of it. I love knowing that, with hard work, I will be able to do the things that used to elicit slack-jawed awe from me when I witnessed them of others. Because something about this sport beckons to me, whispers in my ear that it doesn’t matter if I’m bad at it. Makes me believe that maybe I’m not really bad at something that, every time I do it, I get a little better. Strokes my ego with the knowledge that, even though I do it badly, most people don’t even have the balls to try.

Failure is in the eye of the beholder. That's why I'm happy doing something I stink at. I show up for myself. I do my best. That's how I define success.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

In today's lesson...

...I learn the precise location, in aching, burning detail, of every inch of my transverse abdominals.

Pilates rocks.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Living up to my name

In the last 3 days I've lured 3 new women into wanting to sign up for their first triathlon : D

Certainly not death by sea, but an irresistable call all the same.

A New Kind of Torture

I finally skipped a weight training class to take my first stab at Pilates, which is unfortunately in the same time slot. Holy crap! I never thought I could work so hard lying on my back (wait... that came out wrong)

My hope was that I'd learn some good core exercises that I can do in small work breaks during the day so I can continue to attend my very important weight training class. I definitely did, and now I'll all excited about taking this next step towards ideal fitness.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Race Report

I finally got around to publishing the race report from my second triathlon last season.

F&%#ng March

I can't believe I was riding my bike just 48 hours ago. It's been snowing pretty much non-stop since, and now I'm getting out the snowblower.

March. Ugh.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Maiden Voyage

Saturday was glorious - a brisk 37 with bright sun and almost no wind. In the sun it felt like the mid-40s. The first signs of spring were all around - people washing cars, kids playing ball, people on pleasure walks with their dogs. Even though we could see our breath, it was warm enough in our sun-drenched back yard I played with the dogs in just a long-sleeve t-shirt.

I had a cardio date scheduled with RTP but life intervened and we didn't made it to the gym in the morning. I wasn't phased; I'd already decided to go for a bike ride since predicted a high of 39... it was a 12 degree morning, so I needed to wait for the "warmth" of afternoon.

Pulling Donna out of the garage gave me butterflies. I couldn't believe how much I'd missed her and how excited I was to get going, temperature notwithstanding. As I shivered, pumping tires in the cold shadow of the garage I kept telling myself it would be fine because this 37 degrees was a far cry from the 37 degrees I'd experienced just 10 months ago in my first time trial.

This was also going to be my first ride after getting Donna back from the shop in December, when they finally figured out the shifters were defective. There'd been about a foot of snow on the ground at the time, so I had yet to test drive her to evaluate the repair.

RTP and I had a brief discussion about how our asses were going to hurt after this and took off. (It does. Shoulders too.)

I was instantly transported. It felt unbelievable, all the joys of cycling came rushing back - the speed, the power, the wind in my face. Riding her was simultaneoulsy like finding my way home and riding a new bike. It was immediately obvious I'd never truly experienced riding her last year - the shifting problems I'd gotten so used to, that had brought me to dread riding her, were gone. It was smooth and responsive and fun and gone was any hint of the panic and frustration I'd come to know from flailing chains and unengaged gears. I left RTP in the dust as I got aero and flew up and down the rolling hills of the adjacent neighborhoods.

It really was the maiden voyage for me and my 11 month old bike. Turns out I never really got to meet her before, and now that I have I can't wait to see where our relationship will take us.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I Love the Smell of Peroxide in the Morning

Well, we made it about 36 hours before he managed to swallow something.

We spent the morning hanging out with the dogs, playing with them, pulling stuff out of Scout's mouth (paper, cardboard, kleenex, sock). He's got the attention span of a 2-year old with ADD on a sugar high, so it's a challenge to keep him engaged. We were right with him, watching him every second, giving him toys to replace the inappropriate things he was trying to steal. It was a great training opportunity - lots of times we managed to stop him with a verbal reprimand before he actually grabbed something. (He looks totally surprised too, gives you a goofy 'how did you know I was gonna eat that kleenex?' look)

We have these really nice hand-made bookmarks that my dad's wife crotcheted for us ages ago. Scott really likes his and uses it all the time. It was on his nightstand. It was one of the things we stopped him from stealing before he got there.

I was drying my hair with one hand and throwing the tennis ball with the other to keep him occupied. On about the third throw, instead of bring the ball all the way back to me, he started back but then spit the ball out and dove for the bookmark. I saw it happening, like slow motion in the movies, and I'm screaming NOOOOOOooooooo as I drop the blowdryer and dive at him. He already swallowed it.

Good thing I just bought a new bottle of peroxide. We got the bookmark back, but now Scout looks at me like I'm the Wicked Witch of the West.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Making Lemonade

I've been sad for a while because I can't realistically afford to do more than one triathlon this season. I was floundering emotionally - kind of feeling like I didn't deserve to call myself a triathlete, didn't deserve to hang with the Alliance, if all I was doing was one measley sprint in 2006. But that's the hand I was dealt this year, so I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself and move on.

Today I got on the scale and, while it wasn't great news, it was a two-pound step in the right direction. Which, after being stuck at the same weight for 8 months, is something. And it got me to thinking - what changed to finally create progress, however slight?

I've made a lot of noise about how it's not fair that I can eat right and exercise 3-4 times a week and not lose weight. This is absolutely true, I'm not making it up... but it's time for me to stop dwelling on the unfairness. This is where I started my attitude adjustment. In the years before my thyroid was diagnosed I would actually gain weight under those circumstances. So I'm happy now, because I suddenly realized I have the ability to maintain my goal weight when I get there, something I've frankly been worried sick about.

I did the math and saw that the weight loss stagnated when my cardio sessions dropped from 60+ minutes to the 30-40 range. That's when the light bulb went on - even with a lingering cough, even being weak and tiring easily, I've got the fear because I registered for a race, so I've consciously pushed my cardio sessions to the 45-60+ range. And bam! Progress resumed, even taking it slow and easy. I'm particularly happy about this, because for ages I've been sure that it was the 6-7 workouts a week that previously did the trick and have been agonizing over how to get those back into my schedule. I'm thrilled to know that I can just push my existing workouts a little longer to see progress.

The last piece of the puzzle is that I lost very little weight during actual race training last year - the nutritional needs for weight loss and training are more or less mutually exclusive.

I put all this together and realized it's a good thing that I don't happen to have the disposable income to blow on half a dozen races this year. Because at this rate it would take a decade to lose it all, that's just not acceptable, and I need to focus seriously on weight loss. I'll still do all the things I would have done if I was going for that goal Oly in August - I'll just do them without the speed and intensity of race training. The feeling of accomplishment this will give me - to conquer those distances, to know I could have done an Oly - will be enough for me this year. I'll take off enough weight in the process to make that Oly a reality next season.

Race training is what keeps me motivated, but the bigger picture is that if I focus on race training it will take much longer to reach my goal weight. And the faster I reach my goal weight, the better racer I can be.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

He's heeeeeere...

This is Scout. He's my foster dog. Couldn't you just die from the cuteness?

Introducing him to Sable this afternoon was uneventful so we all piled into the van to come home. It took him all of a nanosecond to settle in.

He fit right in with my little pack (Sable and the dog-in-law) and from the moment he arrived they were playing together like he'd lived here his whole life.

He's a doll and is remarkably well-behaved. His only real problem, aside from needing to get an obedience refresher, is that he'll attempt to eat anything that's not nailed down (which is what led to him being homeless in the first place.) The good thing is that he'll sometimes drop it on order, and if not he'll let you reach right in and take it out of his mouth.

Here's the best part: I might have already found a home for him. (He'd been here for 3 hours - that's gotta be a foster record!) I mentioned him to my trainer because she recently lost a lab; no deal, all hers (the other 3) are black. BUT! She mentioned to a friend that I was fostering a yellow lab. This friend recently lost a yellow lab to serious illness. This friend is an experienced lab owner, and always gets their dogs through rescue. This friend knows how to manage a dog that needs a little training. This friend heard about Scout and couldn't get in touch with me fast enough. This friend is a freaking Dream Come True!!!

The only catch is that he's not mine to give; the vet's office has the final say because they're his legal owners at the moment. And a tech at the office wants him; she was in tears when we left today and I had to promise her I wouldn't adopt him. There's got to be a reason he was still living in the kennels at the vet's office if this girl wanted him, so I'm hoping the doctors decide that the stable, experienced family who wants him right now trumps the young tech who clearly has something holding her back.

Yeaaah, The Taxmaaaaan....

I'm singin' a happy song today, folks, because we're getting a Refund with a capital R!

I haven't yet paid a penny of income tax for my new business; I set aside the money like I was supposed to and had been waiting for my accountant to sort it all out so I could write the check. I expected to owe several thousand, plus the penalty for not paying it in quarterly installments (you can't pay quarterly estimates when your income starts at zero and you have no clue what it will end up) last year. So I've been on pins and needles, hoping the couple thousand I stashed away would cover it. When she told us the refund amount - over 3 grand - at first I thought that's what I owed! I had to ask her to repeat it twice before it sank in. What saved us was my husband's bonus getting taxed back to the stone age - it ended up covering my income and then some.

There aren't words to express the depths of my relief. With the refund we can now afford to:
- adopt a dog
- get me cycling shoes (!!!)
- do a couple more races this summer
- finish my husband's office in the basement (it needs little things like a floor and a ceiling and lights)
- pay down the escrow shortfall (which will lower our mortgage payment)

I'm saving most of my tax stash so I'll be sure to have enough cash on hand to start paying quarterly taxes next year; I'm excited to use some of it for stuff my business needs, like letterhead and promotional items.

And did I mention I'm getting cycling shoes?! I'm so freaking excited! That was the one huge thing holding me back from real progress. I can live with only doing one tri this year, but it was driving me nuts that I wasn't properly equipped to train for the longer distances I'd planned to work up to by the end of this season. Heck, I can't even go for long pleasure rides until I get some shoes that actually fit. It's gonna be a nightmare to find them (the few makers that offer wide widths only offer them in mens sizes, which don't go down small enough for me) but I know it will be worth it once I get to go biking based on how far I want to ride and not how long it takes my feet to be in pain.

Now I just have to start calling every bike shop in the Chicagoland area to see if they carry the brands that come in wide...

Conversation you don't want to have...

... before the alarm goes off.

"Knock it off, I'm tired."
"Shut UP!! I'm trying to sleep."
"Ouch! Get off my hair."
"EWW! Get your tongue out of my ear!"
"Yes, I love you too. Now go away."
"GAH!!! Your nose is cold!!"

Seriously. An hour before my alarm. (Can you guess who it was with?)