Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hail to the Chief

Any of you that follow college sports may be familiar with the long-standing battle over team mascots that various groups, over time, have deemed offensive - specifically, teams that chose, in a less enlightened time, to represent themselves through unflattering charicatures of Native Americans.

And many of you may be aware, for decades the University of Illinois and our proud symbol, Chief Illiniwek, has often been at the forefront of this battle. Florida State University - the Seminoles - have also been singled out. However, I, and others like me, argue that these two schools do not meet the criteria specified by the NCAA's new policy.

On August 6, 2005 the NCAA Executive Committee announced it would bar "hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots, nicknames or imagery" in its championship competitions. While it named 18 schools, it made no secret that it was gunning specifically for Illinois and Florida. The appeal process has been ongoing, and in what I am sure was a kangaroo court, the final appeal was just denied.

This committee of yet another cadre of middle-aged white guys decided that, since nothing else has worked, they would impose their own personal world views upon society by taking from the schools what would hurt the most - income from sporting events.

This means that a distant committee of over-reaching outsiders is holding our school hostage over something they have no business meddling with - free speech and the right to choose our own identity. The school's options are to cave and not only discontinue the Chief's halftime performances, they would also be forced to remove the small Chief graphic from the player's uniforms. Or they can stand their ground, which means they would not be allowed to host post-season sporting events. This is not only a financial hardship, it impacts recruiting potential.

There are so many things wrong with this it's hard to know where to begin. You can be assured that I write this with tears in my eyes and rage in my heart.

First off, let me state that I am not in favor of "mascots" that are blatant charicatures - the now-defunct Bradly Braves are one such example. I do have a problem with anything that openly mocks any culture, and I agree those had to go. And I'm not fond of the silly animal-themed teams - in fact, academics aside, the dignity of Chief Illiniwek is one of the things that led me to choose Illinois.

One of my biggest beefs with the publicity surrounding this issue has always been the media's insistence on inflammatory language, blatant inaccuracy and selective provision of facts. Lest my few readers have been exposed to these fallacies, I wanted to use this forum to set a few things straight.

The media's insistence on referring to Chief Illiniwek as a "mascot" never ceases to infuriate me. Anyone who knows anything about the school would never refer to him as such. The Chief is not now, nor will he ever be considered a mascot. He is our school's symbol, and we hold him in high regard.

Mascots run around the sidelines in ridiculous foam costumes. Mascots engage in faux fisticuffs with other school's mascots. Mascots engage in all manner of silly antics, such as goal-posting and crowd-baiting.

The Chief is not present during game play. When not performing, the student that portrays the Chief stands on the sidelines in a suit and tie. When he is in costume, he conducts himself with the utmost decorum, and in complete silence.

Illiniwek was the name of the loose confederation of Algonquin tribes that once lived in the region; the French changed the ending to -ois, hence the state's name. The translation means "they are men." Our school symbol is a literal homage to the Native Americans from whence our state's identity originated - what could possibly be "hostile and abusive" about that? There are those - caucasians all - who argue this is offensive because they were a peaceful people and our team is called the "Fighting" Illini. Personally, I think these people have too much time on their hands, and perhaps they should use some of it to learn the truth and the history instead of clinging to a silly argument and spouting uninformed rhetoric.

Because these tribes no longer exist we cannot ask them what they think. However, we have the open support of other tribes, which I believe is indicative of what the original Illiniwek might say. The buckskin costume and headdress worn by the Chief is authentic - the original was made for us by the Sioux in 1930. Since then five authentic costumes have been used, the latest a gift from Chief Frank Fools Crow of the Sioux in 1983.

The students chosen to portray the Chief go to live on an Indian reservation prior to the school year. It is here that they learn the dance, which is a celebratory dance that has no religious or war-time significance. It's also worth noting that the music the Chief performs to is a traditional American march with motifs derived from Native American music.

While I do not know the details of the Seminole's traditions, I do know this: the Seminole tribe is alive and well, and issued a press release stating that the only thing they were offended by was the NCAA's actions. The spokesman essentially said the NCAA had some nerve, deciding for them what they should find offensive. Florida State President T.K. Wetherell reacted angrily to the NCAA's new policy and threatened legal action. "That the NCAA would now label our close bond with the Seminole people as culturally hostile and abusive is both outrageous and insulting," he said.

The detail that's been lost in the outrage over Illinois and Florida State is that this ruling will not just affect schools like Illinois and Florida State. The language of the policy is vague enough it is deliberately creating a slippery slope, and once they've made an example of Illinois they can easily move to attack schools like Notre Dam (the Fighting Irish). Not to mention the many smaller schools that will be mowed down in the path of the power-hungry NCAA, schools without the money or prestige to fight for their rights.

The performance of Chief Illinwek at the University of Illinois is known as one of the most dramatic and dignified traditions in college athletics. The band works its way through the intricate drill, spelling out Illini, to the music of the "Three in One" (including the songs: The Pride of the Illini, The March of the Illini and the Alma Mater). This drill was first done in 1926 and remains nearly unchanged to this day. (That's me, btw, at the top left corner of the first "I".)

The band sings the Pride of the Illini as the Chief dances his way through the band:

We are marching for dear old Illini
For the men who are fighting for you
Here's a cheer for our dear alma mater
May our love for her ever be true
While we're marching along life's pathway
May the spirit of old Illinois
Keep us marching and singing
With true Illini spirit
For our dear old Illinois

Then the band plays this song with the Chief dancing his way to center field. 70,000 people fall silent. And 70,000 people cross their arms as he walks down the 50 yard line. And 70,000 people, in perfect unison with the Chief, raise their arms as the music crescendos. Then, 70,000 people link arms and sing, reverently, the Alma Mater, while the Chief remains, unmoving, arms pointed to the sky.

Hail to the Orange
Hail to the Blue
Hail Alma Mater
Ever so True
We love no other
So let our motto be
Victory, Illinois, Varsity

The music reprises the Pride of the Illini as the Chief brings the dance to a joyous close, then he walks, with utmost dignity, from the field.

This is the longest-running tradition in college sports. Even now, 11 years after my last half-time performance, the memory gives me chills. There are few things in life about which I am prouder, than the three years I spent upholding the traditions of the Marching Illini.

Illinois - specifically, the Marching Illini - was the pioneer in most college sport traditions. The Marching Illini performed the first halftime show - ever - in 1907. They were the first to do school letter formations on the field. They were the first band to sing a capella on the field. They initiated the first student cheering section (Block I) with the picture-cards that have become ubiquitous at modern sporting events. They were the first marching band to record a CD. John Phillip Sousa called them "The Best Band in the Land" and left his personal library to them.

And, with Chief Illiniwek, they created the concept of the school symbol.

That means ALL school "mascots" have their roots with Chief Illiniwek. This fact alone should indicate that our Chief is not the problem - the issue should be with the schools who took the concept farther down the road to cartoonish insensitivity. Had other schools emulated the example set by Illinois we wouldn't be having this conversation.

It's now coming to light that the NCAA is reaching even farther beyond it's actual purpose of ensuring fair and equitable sports competition and is now attempting to influence the selection of university presidents. It's not enough that they have Athletic Directors in their pockets, and have resorted to financial blackmail on issues like this... now they've decided they want to influence academics as well. This begs the questions: where will it end? And how?

There are those calling for Illinois to initiate legal action, and there are those who say it won't do any good. I think a court battle isn't necessarily a bad thing, but not just because I want to save the Chief. The NCAA has got to be stopped, because this isn't just an issue of a single symbol of a single school. This has become an issue of basic freedoms, of First Amendment rights, and of an organization grown corrupt with power.

This is a time to stand up for principals, but the University is already showing signs of bowing to the demands of the NCAA. This is a time to listen to the students, the alumns, the people who care deeply about this issue for real reasons, and not those who pretend to care about it, who are using the smoke and mirrors of political correctness to hide their real agenda. Our call to arms is Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Blue. But the administration is blinded by Green, and I fear our battle is finally to be lost to the one weapon all the alumni pride and school spirit in the world can't fight: money.

Save the Chief.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Long Day

Today I can respond to the Robo-Stu mantra with pride. Here's what I did today to prepare for my races:

I had a 7:30am meeting; after staying up late with my sick husband I got maybe 5 hours of sleep, so I was already not at my best as I don't tend to function at full capacity on less than 9. Made sure I had a healthy, pre-workout appropriate breakfast at the meeting.

From that meeting, I went to my 9:15 weights class. For once I arrived early enough to warm up properly, so I was on the treadmill for 20 minutes, including 5 minutes of jogging.

My advanced weight training class is 75 minutes long. Today we did some abs and some lower body and burned the crap out of our upper body.

Immediately following weight training I hopped on the treadmill (with GYGO on my mp3 player, of course!) and proceeded to do the fastest 5K of my life (which included 15 min of running, then later 10 min of running, so altogether ran close to 2 miles!). While 45:45 is far from blistering, it's a big deal for me because I'd set my dream goal at 45 min run legs for my sprints this summer.

I got home at noon and refueled (pear, yogurt, whole wheat crackers) but was starting to feel like crap in a foggy, sleep deprived kind of way. Did a little work and then decided to chill with a book for a few minutes before I made lunch.

Talk about a mistake - I promptly fell asleep. I woke up at 4:30, groggy, crabby and still needing to get some work done.

I sat down to work and at 5:00 the phone rang - RTP wanted to go for a bike ride. It was 60s and sunny with a light breeze. She's been super stressed (rehabbing an investment property for the first time) and hasn't been able to work out for months. I immediately decided that it didn't matter I felt like shit because she's been there for me a million times. And besides, it was gorgeous out. So I sucked it up, (and sucked down some caffeine, which I never do), and said heck yeah, let's go.

Sidebar: about a quarter mile in she said "what's that noise?' It turned out to be my rear brake rubbing on my wheel. (Hilarity ensued as we fumbled with my bike tool, trying to figure out how to loosen it up... did ya know there's, like, a lever built right in that does that?) Now I'm wondering if that happened when my bike fell over in the van on the way home Sunday, or if it happened when my bike fell over in the van on the way to my ride (see a pattern developing?) and contributed to the hellish workout that was Sunday's bike ride.

We did an easy 8 miles and it was great, all my feeling crappy and crabby melted away while I zoomed down the trail into the light breeze and the setting sun. Even got to play around a bit with my newly tweaked aero position, and it felt pretty darn good.

But oooooh my god, think I'm gonna pay for this tomorrow.

Coolest Juggling Ever

I've never seen anything like it - definitely worth the 5 minutes to
check out this video.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Found a New Ouch

Now that I've had a couple of workouts with my new swim stroke I found a new ouch, and I'm curious if something new and different to do wrong or if this is normal and it will pass with practice.

I finally get now what people mean when they say they're "pulling" water - I can feel a huuuuge difference between what I'm doing now and what I used to do. Problem is, after a while the outside of my wrists gets sore, until it gets ouchy enough that my stroke deterioriates.

It took more laps today for the soreness to kick in than it did last time, so I'm hoping this is just a case of not previously using some muscles and they're just getting used to it.

Have any of you guys experienced the sore wrist thing?

Monday, April 24, 2006


Doctor says NOT a heart attack.

We discussed the possibilities at length, and of the three possible culprits for my oh-so-scary chest pains, based on my symptoms he's pretty sure it was Intercostal Neuritis - basically, a pinched nerve between ribs. It happened to be situated directly over my heart and scared the crap out of me. If it continues to happen he said we'll seek out the source - he expects it's something happening with my neck (kind of like when your leg hurts from Sciatica the source of the problem is actually in your back). But chances are it was a one-off kind of thing.

He did, however, scold me for waiting over the weekend to consult a doctor, because when chest pains are involved he said you always worry, period. He explained there's this fascinating device called a "telephone" for addressing such potential emergencies.

He said my heart sounds great - slow and steady - and kicked me out with orders to "go swim, go bike, go run."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blustery Day

Today I finally made it out on a bike ride - I've been chomping at the bit since Thursday when I left the Tri shop, but I had to deal with the other parts of my life before I could take off for a couple of hours.

I woke up this morning with more chest pains but not as bad as Friday. (oh yeah, had scary chest pains Friday night. Right in the middle of a Pampered Chef party - had 20 people in my house, so I had to act calm and pretend nothing was going on. Calling doctor on Monday.) Haven't died yet, so I was resolved to get out on my bike today. It was a glorious 67 degrees - from my back yard there was a breeze but it didn't seem out of control. I checked and it said 10-20 mph. Now, that should have been a huge, screaming red flag because I've ridden in that kind of wind before and it wasn't a pretty picture. But, I reasoned, I couldn't just ride in perfect weather, because then I'd never be prepared for whatever races had to throw at me.

My next - I hesitate to call it a mistake - let's say error in judgement, came when I decided that I wanted to give my new gear a real go, so instead of riding a quick neighborhood/bike trail loop I headed out to the quiet farm roads about 20 minutes from here. Between having chest pains as recently as this morning and testing new gear, I should have known better than to opt for a ride on deserted farm roads. Luckily nothing happened other than not being able to turn around and go home when I realized how windy it really was... which, one could argue, is actually a good thing.

I really love it out there because it reminds me so much of where I grew up. Open fields for miles and miles, dotted with farms, passing through clouds of air perfumed with the warm, earthy scent of cows, the breeze punctuating that with the occassional sharp, unpleasant tang of pigs. Very, very few cars. The old blacktop road so cracked and pitted in some places I bet it's got very little on the Roubaix cobblestones. And the hills - did I forget to mention the hills? I start just outside of Hebron Illinois, but the route crosses more or less immediately into Wisconsin... thus the hills. I'm convinced whoever decided the state boundaries just drew a line where the hills started.

I struggled with my new pedal system, both in the store and today. The great thing about my new Speedplays is the float is incredible. My knee barely hurts at all after that ride. The bad thing about my new Speedplays is the float is incredible. I had him loosen them up as much as possible and I still almost can't get them unclipped. My SPDs were a piece of cake and I was completely confident with stop signs, even sudden stops. Now I dread every stop sign and am in terror of needing to stop suddenly because I am seriously stuck to that bike.

This wasn't the best ride to test new equipment on - rolling hills mixed with moderate hills, no flats at all, into a 20 mph unrelenting head/crosswind. The wind was so strong I couldn't even build up momentum on the downhills to help me up the next grade. As a result, I was grinding up even the gentle rollers at a snail's pace.

Doing just that at mile 3 my fear about unclipping got its first test when my chain came off. I had NO momentum and only got a few feet of coasting uphill in which to unclip. I did manage to get my right foot out just as I came to a stop, and teetered on the edge of balance for a moment, willing myself to fall to the side with the free foot. Luckily I did, and then set about the task of unclipping the left foot. Putting the chain back on was surprisingly simple - never had it happen before, so happily my worries on that score were unfounded.

I'd gone into the ride thinking I'd do 20-25 miles, depending on how my knee felt. About 3 seconds into it, about the time I got hit with the wind, I'd revised that down to 15. I squeezed out 10. Just. Barely. In a 'hmm, I'm done but if I go around the cemetary once it'll be 10' kind of way.

There was one glorious mile that was fast and easy, a different stretch of road I hadn't tried before but it looked flat, so went down to escape the torturous hills. I went until I reached a hill then turned around... and desperately downshifted as fast as possible, because I could barely move forward. I'd forgotten about the f%^&%ng wind. How it is possible for anyone with an IQ great than that of, say, a slug, could forget the previous 8 miles of torture, I don't know. But I did. Apparently this little stretch was at the perfect angle for a tailwind, and I should have freaking known better (I dabble in sailing, I know how the wind can fool you when you're with it). So the last mile back to my van, the mile my little brain fart had made me think would be fast and easy, was yet another torturous grind. And for good measure, I was parked at the top of a moderate hill, which I barely made it up in my very, very, very very lowest gear.

I'm happy I went. My knee feels surprisingly good, I'm getting the hang of the new pedal system (which is to say most of the time I can get my right foot out on the first try), my new shoes showed me what it's like to ride a bike without feeling like there's a vise on my feet, and most importantly I made myself work hard. Today's route is very similar to the Dansking bike course, so as a bonus I got a major wake-up call about how unprepared I am to tackle again it in just two short months.

But I don't care, for my next ride I'm holding out for a less windy day.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Color Me Coordinated

After the initial giddiness of my new shoes wore off I realized they were not the silver/black that the tri guy had indicated... on thinking about it I realized the colors he'd told me were for the Lakes that didn't fit.

Now, by virtue of being A) A girl, and B) an anal-retentive nut job who specializes in things needing to match... this is a problem.

Last year's gear is all blue, just because that's what I could find in those sizes. This year I've been on an 'all pink all the time' kick - even got a pink Ironman watch and had dreams of a pink bike. But my cycling shoes - for me, the most limited option of my gear - are red, black and silver.

So, of course I have to completely rethink my color scheme. I don't want anybody to think I'm copying Iron Wil's red theme, I'm just headed there because that's the colors Carnac happened to make these shoes in. Which means I have no choice. My gear must match or bad things will happen - floods and earthquakes and Armageddon and Britney Spears making another album. So I must shop for matching gear for the good of all humanity.

Not that it's a terrible thing - red's my favorite color anyway. The color of passion and hot sex and life itself in the blood running through our veins. At one point (before I lost weight and got rid of my entire too-big wardrobe) I had no less than 15 red shirts in my closet. (I wish I was kidding.) Because hey, I look great in it.

And as is obvious from my profile photo, already got a red bike jersey. And getting a red TGD team shirt. And my bike shorts and tri shorts are black. Now for a helmet....

Friday, April 21, 2006


Carnac TRS8X in a 38: $225

Realizing as I try on the miracle cycling shoes that fit perfectly that they are not compatible with my SPDs and I have to buy new pedals: $125 (Speedplays, if you're curious)

Bike fitting that made huuuuuge changes to my seat position, on which he gave me a discount because I think he felt sorry for me about the pedals: $75

Registration for the Danskin, because now that I just blew almost $500 on bike gear it seems ludicrous to only do one race this year: $80

Hotel and assorted travel costs for Danskin: $150

What my husband will buy to get me back for spending all this money on my bike: I shudder to think

Feeling like I could ride le Tour right this minute: Priceless

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

(Tri) Life is Good

They're heeeeeerre! My (pleasepleasepleaseletthemfit) Carnac TRS8s arrived and I get to try them on tomorrow. While I'm there, I'll be treating myself to a bike fitting! Can't WAIT for 4:00 tomorrow!

Just swam my first half-mile (that didn't consist of drill sets) since I started taking lessons. I did it immediately following my weight training class and my time was 27:30. A far cry from the 21 minutes my freshly tweaked stroke projected, but still a full 2 minutes faster than before, and I'll take it after 75 minutes of hard-core weight training that left me with arms the consistency of overcooked spaghetti.

Icing on the cake: another week of calorie counting resulted in 1 more pound lost.

Oh yeah. Tri life is good.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

You're Almost There

Last year I read an article in Triathlete magazine discussing the "you're almost there" phenomenon. The article was basically an impassioned plea from a pro triathlete to PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT!

The writer was infuriated when she saw spectators doing it at mile 19 of the marathon in Ironman Canada. She gritted her teeth for a while, but finally pulled them aside and politely explained to them that 7 more miles in not even in the same area code as "you're almost there" and they really needed to stop shouting it at every athlete who ran by.

She also mentioned that while it's bad enough when clueless spectators do it, it's pracitcally a capital offense when race volunteers do it. They should know better.

She asked people to say anything else positive - even suggested "you're doing great", "keep it up", etc. She did point out that people shouldn't say "you look great" because it's just ridiculous - you're an exhausted, sweaty, salt-stained mess and have probably peed down your leg at least once.

I thought this was interesting but didn't think much of it. Until my first race.

The guy at the course talk warned us to ignore the people shouting "you're almost there" because, he said "You're NOT." He said you're almost there when you can see the finish line. I took this to heart - it served me well in that race and I'll remember it forever.

On race day there were twits not only shouting it, they were adding helpful things like "only two more blocks!"... when it was really half a mile. RTP and I rolled our eyes and said how glad we were they'd warned us.

So how about y'all? Do you hear this? Do you have a problem with it?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Book Report

Oz is one of my favorite places to visit - right up there with Wonderland, Narnia and Middle Earth - so I was skeptical when I heard about Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. Too often, spin-off stories are badly written milking machines that exist to drain the last few drops from a beloved cash cow of a fairy tale, and I assumed this was just another hack job. A decade after the book's initial release I finally broke down and read it, and I'm here to say I was wrong.

On the surface it is what the title says - the life of the Wicked Witch of the West. It's her life story from before her birth to the moment of her death, and it clearly demonstrates that perspective is everything and there are always two sides to a situation. But it is so much more than an alternate fairy tale, and does so much more than amuse.

This is one of the most brilliant works of fiction I've ever read. Gregory Macguire manages to incorporate topics such as religious persecution, racism, love, political corruption, family dysfunction and the true nature of evil... all without any semblance of a saccharine after-school special. The moral and theological questions raised serve to bring you deeper into the inner lives of the characters while inspiring you to ponder your own feelings on complex issues. There's a definite sense the author is an Orwell fan, as the story is colored as much by its source material as by 1984 and even a hint of Animal Farm. But that's not so say it's derivative - on the contrary, it's wildly imaginative and intellectually engaging.

Brilliant story aside, the prose itself is a work of art. The carefully crafted language had me aching with jealousy, wishing I had the skill to write something half so glorious. I make my living as a wordsmith, I pride myself on my vocabulary, and I was both humbled and thrilled to find myself consulting the dictionary more than once to confirm the meaning of some rarely used yet exquisitely apropos word the author wove flawlessly into the tale.

Even though you know how it ends, how it has to end given the title character, I was stunned and hurt when the end finally came. I found myself crying over the death of the Wicked Witch of the West. And that, I think, is the brilliance of this story.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

This is Hilarious

Hey Crackhead

It's a "Best of Craiglist" entry, sent to me by my often-hilarious and always geeky husband, who probably found it linked from someplace like or

Separated by a Few Degrees

Yesterday my morning meetings ran over - because I was trying to fit in 3 things before 9 am I figured I'd miss my 9:15 weights class and packed my gym back to swim. I've got another private lesson today and wanted to practice my drills.

Got to the gym around 9:30 and was frustrated to find a water aerobics class had just started. I stomped and fumed in the gym lobby, got info from the manager that if I could make it back later I could sneak in my swim drills before the 5:30 water aerobics class started, and went back to work with a plan to keep the rest of my meetings on schedule so I could pull it off.

(Let me just point out I was quite proud of myself for going back to the gym to force myself to get in a workout on a day that was absolutely insane with work stuff.)

I made it into the water by 4:45 and got straight into it. By 5:15 there were half a dozen women sitting around staring at me in a "what is this strange thing she is doing?!" kind of way. I had just enough time to squeeze in my last 15 laps but I decided to cut it a little short because I figured they'd want a few minutes in the water to warm up before their class.

By 5:20 there were about a dozen women standing around the pool, looking at me like they couldn't believe I was still there. I was alone in the damn pool, it's not like they couldn't have been in the other 3/4 of it warming up.

By 5:25 there were nearly 20 women, really glaring at me, a few brave enough to venture down the steps but not leaving the wall. I finished up my last cool-down lap and tried to get out, but they bottle-necked the stairs and forced me to wait. To a person they stopped in the middle of the steps, bitching and moaning that the water was "cold" and "freezing" and acting like they'd just been pushed into Lake Michigan in May. The water was atually in the low-mid 80s and I'd just enjoyed the most comfortable workout I'd ever had.

Though there are many issues, this is my biggest bitch about our pool - the water is always waaaay too hot. It's regularly around 90 degrees or more - I often feel hot and flushed and short of breath from even a moderate effort. I finally lost my patience and said something to the effect of the water being perfect for anyone who actually wants to swim and then I left.

This workout was great - I felt faster and more confident and graceful than ever before. But these ladies made me feel like I was wrong to be there and seemed angry that I was happy with the water temperature - like it was my fault.

I happen to know that the gym staff goes nuts because they're always getting bitched at no matter what - the aerobics classes complain the water's too cold and the swimmers complain the water's too warm.

What I don't get is that I felt an almost hostile vibe from some of them. I mean, usually women are extremely supportive of each other no matter what form of exercise they choose, but these women seem to be prejudiced against anyone who uses "their" pool for any other purpose. Their attitude certainly made me regret cutting my own workout short to be polite to them when they were anything but to me.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Just A Little Rant

Looked something up on the website of the Race Formerly Known as Reebok, and was intrigued by a link called The Ten Commandments of Tri.

Can't pass that up, right? I'm thinking it's going to be really cool and inspirational, like the top ten shirts we collaborated on. I even had a glimmer of hope that stupid Subaru taking over my favorite race maybe wasn't such a bad thing after all. Alas, it was nothing of the sort. It's so lame it's not to be believed and it made me kind of sad that this is what the beginners who turn to the event site for information are stuck with. It's not that it isn't useful information, but it's information that's already covered in the rules and the FAQ. I find it irritating and off-putting as a writer in general (hello redundant, patronizing and mislabeled), as a writer who specializes in web content and as a triathlete.

As much as I love the comaradarie and, frankly, the safe cocoon, of the women-only races, this shows me I really am growing beyond them and need to start stretching my limits in the more competitive events.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Hold Me Back!

Two glorious days in a row of 70 degree temps... I'm going out of my mind wanting to be outside! Technically I'm not working that much this week and could be basking in the springtime, but a pro-bono project is still a project and I need to get it done.

Yesterday I was aching to go for a bike ride after my supposedly in-and-out (insert lame gynie joke here) doctor appointment turned into watching the day pass me by as I sat in the waiting room for 2+ hours. Then I had to rush home to finish the work I missed.

This morning, my gym bag is packed and I'm heading out to drop off some work documents before I work out... and I can't decide if I should hit the gym as planned or head for the great outdoors. I'm thinking the 5K forest preserve trail is looking miiiiighty fine today, hills and sore knee be damned!

It's just about killing me to not ride my bike... but I'm sort of holding out to ride it until my new shoes come in (any day now!). And I decided finances be damned - I'm getting the bike fitting. Chronic pain and furthering a permanent injury aren't worth the argument over a hundred bucks. I'll squeeze it from something else.

Maybe I'll even drag one of my nutty dog monsters with me on the trail.... (oh, it's gonna be a gooooood day)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Adding It All Up

After about two weeks of counting calories my weight is down by about 2 pounds.

On the surface this makes no sense, because I'm not really changing the way I eat, only started counting and measuring and weighing what I'm eating to try to figure some things out. I even had at least one night of drunken pizza eating in there.

Even though I haven't really changed what/how much I'm eating, and my calorie intake is roughly the same each day, I have learned a few things and started trying to address them, and I guess that's what's making the difference.

I had a tendency to not eat much/enough early in the day, which led to overly-hungry afternoon snacking and a bigger dinner, so I was having a huge influx of calories at the very end of the day. This was immediately apparent once I started writing everything down, and I've made a conscious effort to spread the calories out over the day.

The majority of the time my portions are right on the money - 1 oz of cheese, 1 slice of whole wheat bread, 1 tbsp mayo, etc. But I did find a handful of items I eat on a regular basis where the serving size has crept up a bit (e.g. my ounce of walnuts had crept up to more like 1.5 oz), and those few extra calories here and there can add up to a bunch. Now that I've spent some time with the ol' diet scale on the counter I've gotten a solid refresher course in portion size.

I also have a theory that perhaps it's time to cut down the total number, even though it's technically realistic. I started thinking about it and I've been eating the same (relatively healthy, moderate) diet since I started losing weight. I've lost 40 pounds... I kind of forgot at some point my body needs less because it's smaller now. So, even though I'm eating what would be recommended for someone my size, it's not necessarily right for someone my size who's body has gotten used to that level of caloric intake after several years of losing weight at that level.

Haven't had the extra cash to blow on a nutrition consult, so I'm going to pull back just a little (maybe 200 a day), keep counting and see what the scale says.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Spoke Too Soon

Cool Tri-Shop Guy just called. He tried to order the Lakes and was told they don't make them in that size.

He then proceeded to call EVERY SINGLE CYCLING SHOE MANUFACTURER ON THE PLANET. No shit. This is a cool guy. So it sucked that he was told, across the board, that the product he was trying to find for me does not exist.

He did find one glimmer of hope - Carnac makes an entry level tri shoe that, in theory, comes in a size roughly equivalent to what I'm looking for. Even better, the distributor told him if they don't fit me we can just send them back, no charge.

Of course, they cost $225, so no bike fitting for me. At least not next week.

Soooo... now I wait. And hope to hell the damn things fit.

BUT... all is not lost and I do have something over which to rejoice:
His shop is an hour away but he lives in the same town I do. This means the tri-club he started isn't far away like I thought. Even better? It's free to join. The best?! They do group rides, runs and swims right HERE!!!


I just got off the phone with the "local" (it's over an hour away) tri shop; I've been calling around to cycling shops trying to find wide width cycling shoes to try on with no luck.

He carries Lakes and was able to order a wide in my size! I'm a little nervous about having to pre-pay for something that still may not fit (I actually wear a double-wide) but he said if they don't we'll just try another size.

AND he does bike fittings! He's probably not the best, but I think even a minimal fitting at this point would help me a lot. With my recent knee issues I'm even more concerned about bad bike position but problem is, I just have not had the disposable income to do anything about it.

Here's why I'm all happy: sweet, generous husband allocated $200 of the tax refund for me to get cycling shoes... the Lakes only cost $90 and he only charges $100 for a bike fitting! I'm so totally psyched about this - trying not to get my hopes up toooo much, with my shoe fitting history, but I'm truly optimistic. So when my shoes come in next week I'll be going for a dual bike fitting/shoe try on appointment. Yay!

The coolest thing - the shop owner/bike fitter guy is a serious triathlete (duh - he opened a tri store). He did IMWI in 11:48 last year... I can't even wrap my brain around that! Between just having the opportunity to chat with this guy, getting new shoes and a bike fitting... I can't wait for next week!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Stupid, Stupid, Stupid

Missed my run yesterday for work so was really antsy to run today. Did my weights class as usual then went to the treadmills (yeah, I know, I need to start running outside, but it's cold and I'm still babying the knee). My favorite one was out of order so I got on one of the clunky old ones.

I was in a bit of a rush because I had a furnace guy coming, so I was trying to hurry. Like a complete f'ing moron, I started walking THEN started dicking around to start my MP3 player. This lasted for, ooooh, 6 seconds, at which point I tripped on the edge of the belt (the old ones are quite narrow), twisted the crap out of my bad knee and barely caught myself from falling flat on my face. Thus ended my workout. Gawd, I feel like an idiot.

So, it hurts and I've got ice on it and took a handful of ibuprofen. And now I'm even more ansty because I've missed two cardio workouts in a row.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Perfect Present

This is going to come off as a shameless plug, and I promise it's not. I'm just happy and grateful and wanted to spread the love.

I did a project a few months back as a favor to a colleague; some friends of his have a website that needed help. Desperately. I rewrote most of the content practically for free and in the process started what feels like a new friendship with the ladies who own the business.

They make custom-embroidered baby blankets. Their product is different from all the others out there because they fill the trim all the way around the blanket with whatever you want - poems, birth dates, family trees, etc. They're a truly beautiful gift, and I'm at that age where everybody's having kids, so they were a great find, costing the same as the other services out there that only give you a name and birthdate.

They came to me a few weeks ago for help proof-reading what they hope will become a quarterly newsletter. It was no big deal to me, only took about an hour to fix it up (there were formatting issues to deal with far beyond the few typos) and I was happy to help my new friends. They want more help but don't want to impose, so we agreed that if I do it for future newsletters I'd charge 20 bucks. (I can't imagine actually charging them my full hourly rate for something that I can do while I'm waiting for my tea to heat up, ya know?)

Anyway, the other day I ordered a blankie for my friend's baby because this is his first Easter and I'd been looking for an excuse to give him a present. Instead of an invoice, I got an email from them saying they were giving me the blanket as a thank you! How great is that?!

To keep the good karma rolling I wanted to put their name out there for anyone looking to give a beautiful, personalized baby gift. So check out Sew Adorable.

Disclaimer: These guys can't leave well-enough along and in just a few weeks have dramatically changed what I (and the tech guy friend) did for them. Please don't think I wrote, or approved the appearance of, what's there now. (This is the problem with doing favors for people. They just sent my name out in their newsletter as a thank-you, and people are now going to see a site I'm embarrassed to be associated with.) But their lack of online marketing skills is beside the point - they still make fantastic products.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Go Team!

If you haven't been over to Tri-Geek Dreams in a few days, go check out the designs for our team jerseys.

Hurry! The deadline for ordering is Wednesday!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Truth in Advertising

I learned about a new cycling event today: the Horribly Hilly Hundred. They're not kidding either! A friend sent me the info. She's a serious cyclist tackling this course on a single-speed mountain bike she custom built just because it seems like a fun thing to do.

My gut reaction was "Holy. Crap."
My next thought was "Where do I sign up?"

Alas, it's the weekend before my one and only triathlon of this season, so I'm not going to blow what should be the start of my taper with a crazy-ass ride like this.

But next year... oh, yeah. This looks like a blast... but I gotta wonder, at what point did I start defining 100K over the toughest hills in southern Wisconsin as a good time?