Friday, December 28, 2007

A Birthday Wish

Today I graduate to the 35-39 age group.

Here's hoping this age group isn't quite as competitive as the last one, and that maybe I can finish just one race this year someplace other than DFL. : )

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Saturday, December 22, 2007

This Is Why We Have Doctors

I think I jumped the gun a bit on the running. The muscles in my pelvis are ... let's call it perturbed.

I promise I won't run anymore until the doctor says it's okay.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Fog is Clearing

I went on that walk, just like I promised myself. It felt good to lace up my running shoes for something besides a trip to the mailbox, and my cozy technical gear felt like old friends.

The fog rolled in so thick I had water droplets on my eyelashes and Kona's furry ears looked like they'd been dipped in sugar. We walked the first mile at a comfortable clip and when turned around to come home I couldn't resist... I had to run.

Just a little. Just to see how it felt.

So I did, but in deference to the obvious I took it easy. If I went faster than a 14:30 pace I'd be shocked. First I was just trying to see if I could go to the next driveway... then the next... and the next. Before I knew it I'd run half a mile and still felt perfectly fine. But, I decided I should probably stop and walk the rest because the doctor technically hasn't cleared me to run yet.

But talk about crazy - me choosing to stop running instead of my body forcing me to.

Clearly I'm still not used to this whole 'me as Runner' thing (after today I think I officially deserve the capital "R")... but after 11 months off and a little thing like having a baby my body is obviously sending a message: I can do this. I want to do this. This feels good.

I guess it's about time I started listening.

Polishing My Badge

Any fears I might have had about losing my One Of The Crazy People badge after the baby came were well and truly put to rest today.

Coming home from the hospital for Little Geek's latest weight check I noticed the weather... 34 degrees, overcast and a little bit foggy.

Honest to gawd, my first thought was "wow, what a great day for a run."

Since I still have the bra issue to deal with I won't be running, but as soon as Wonderful Husband gets home to watch the baby I am going to strap 'em into the best bra I've got and take the dog for a walk.

I'm on maybe 3 hours of sleep (not all in a row) and perhaps someone without a Crazy People badge might think the time would be better spent taking a nap. But I suspect paying a visit to my cold weather base layers (with thumbholes! we all know how I heart the thumbholes!) and getting my heart rate up a little will do me more good than any amount of sleep.

Regarding the Little Geek...
My little piglet went from being underweight, refusing to eat and not gaining enough to (about a week ago) finding his appetite and, to everyone's relief and delight, gain 18 ounces in 8 days. He's still not quite gotten the hang of nursing, but that's gotten much better too and I can imagine a time when it won't suck any more. He's doing so well we no longer need to make pilgrimages to the hospital for weight checks, which is the best Christmas present I could ask for.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This Is Getting Ridiculous

So, I special ordered the 40G nursing bra.

It's too small.

We just re-measured me. Things seem to have re-arranged themselves since I placed the last order. This is getting expensive - I now have 4 nursing bras that don't fit (one of which cost $50). I've bought and returned several more. I HATE being stuck with mail order for this.

My goal for the day is to locate and order a 38H...

Here's why this matters: they hurt. A lot. I can't hardly walk around the house, let alone get in a solid workout, with the current situation. Even the websites that claim to offer supersized nursing bras often don't have sizes in this range. I'm in too much discomfort to try on my Enelle running bra at this point, but I suspect it will now be too small (it's sized for a DD-DDD). I currently don't know how I'm going to get back to running because I can't find a bra strong enough to control the girls.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Calorie Nazi Status Report

Does it count as a status report if I'm reporting that I've haven't reported in with The Calorie Nazi in nearly a month?

OK, so, confession time.

I've been eating like an unsupervised teenager with a bad case of the munchies. And since that's how Wonderful Husband would eat every day of his life if I didn't usually stand in his way armed with healthy meals, well, we've been quite the pathetic pair since we came home from the hospital.

In the last four weeks we've managed to go through...
- dozens of bagels
- shameful quantities of cream cheese and Nutella
- a gallon of eggnog (ok, that was just me. he can't stand it.)
- ridiculous quantities of frozen pizza
- at least a case of soda
- a couple packages of brats and hot dogs
- 4 packages of Fudge Stripes cookies (and ya know what? after the second one you hardly feel the guilt any more. I think it might be numbed by all the trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.)
- an entire batch of Tollhouse cookies (because apparently all the store bought ones weren't enough)
- an entire tub of pseudo-cheese spread
- several orders of Chicken and Broccoli with fried rice... and don't forget the deep fried crab rangoon!
- fewer ordered pizzas than you'd think (we were too busy filling up on nasty store bought cookies!)
- more Italian Beef than two humans should ever consume. Served, of course, with my personal touch - garlic bread buried under melted mozzarella
- two bags of frozen tater tots
- too many jalapeno poppers to count. drenched, of course, in ranch dressing
- gallons of chocolate milk
- more Big Macs than I care to admit

At least my last organic veggie delivery came with salad stuff, and in the midst of this junk food orgy I have also, for whatever reason, been on a major salad kick. Probably the last vestiges of my inner triathlete screaming for mercy.

But never fear, I managed to drown out the cries for help with a couple of jars of extra chunky blue cheese dressing.

BUT... believe it or not, I have not gained any weight. Yet. I guess the fact that sleeping is still more important than eating and those couple hundred extra calories a day I'm pouring into breast milk production are temporarily saving my flabby ass.

So. Yeah. I know. I mean, I KNOW. This must end. Like, immediately. Because I'm not going to make it through that half marathon next August on Fudge Stripes and egg nog.

I guess I just had to come clean in order to force myself to clean up my act.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What I Wish I Was Doing

Little Geek at 2 weeks old.

(His eating problem isn't completely resolved yet, but it's slowly getting better. I'm down from spending 12-16 hours a day feeding him to more like 10-12. On the plus side, I've had plenty of time to catch up on my back issues of Triathlete magazine.)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Looking Up

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has been so supportive during this incredibly challenging time. Things are gradually getting better and I've managed to pull myself out of the Black Pit o' Despair in which I was so gloriously wallowing.

Things aren't perfect - WH didn't magically get his job back, I'm still pretty sick and my milk didn't come back overnight, but things are moving along in those areas too.

I think the Little Geek is already trying to teach me what it's going to be like to be his mom. Just when I'd burned through all the pumped milk stored in the fridge and freezer and had tearfully consented to mix that first bottle of formula... he magically agreed to latch on and nurse. There are still issues with him not being able to nurse without a special shield thingy - it boils down to teeny tiny little babies and stupidly ginormous boobs - but the important thing is that, shield thingy aside, he's getting it directly from me now. He's gaining weight and back on the path to being a normal, healthy baby. It could still be another month of the shield thingy and pumping 8-10 times day to supplement his nursings, but we'll see. I'm much more relaxed about it now that he's actually nursing and there's a reasonable way to put a potential end date on it.

I've got to say that if I weren't a triathlete I'm not sure I could have made it through this monster sized Prozac Patch. I had to pull on every physical and emotional reserve I had to made the last 10 days happen without losing it (and I'm using the phrase "without losing it" pretty loosely here).

Triathlon taught me that some pain is good, some pain is bad, and how to decide which is which. It taught me to push through the pain when it needs to be pushed through in order to reap the benefits.

This situation forced me to evaluate if this pain - physical and emotional - was worth it, and having decided in the affirmative I was able to push through it somehow. Am still pushing through it, in fact, as I'm just now experiencing the pain of a new nursing mom since Alex got such a late start.

I'm not done with this race yet, but I can hear the finish line music in the distance.

And that's good enough for today.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Still Worth It

He's still not nursing. I'm a crying mess. I also came down with that sore throat chest cold thing that's been making the rounds (the one that nearly kept Wonderful Husband out of the delivery room with a fever of 101.4). I'm exhausted and feverish and my milk almost dried up since last night even though I'm on a punishing pumping schedule of 9 times a day. Right now it takes 3 pumpings to get enough for 1 feeding. We spent nearly 3 hours with the lactation consultant at the hospital yesterday - she went through everything in her arsenal with no success, and at one point she cried at my situation. We've been reduced to a special "finger feeder" system - it's like a milk IV.

It's SO TOTALLY not supposed to be like this. Sleepless nights and dirty diapers - sure. I signed up for that. I'm even ok with already knowing that adorable little mouth will need orthodontia when he gets bigger. But I'm not ok with knowing that later tonight, I'm going to run out of milk and have to break into the free samples of formula stashed in the pantry. Because I'm not ok with failing at my most basic function as a mammal.

It's seriously demoralizing to recognize that you're a Darwinian dead end, and that had he been born in an era without modern medicine your offspring would not have survived a week.

But I look at this little face.... and can only conclude that all the pain from the pumping and the tears and the desperation and extra work is still totally worth it. He's totally worth it.

But does it have to hurt this much? This soon?

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's a Miracle!

And I don't mean the miracle of childbirth. But that was pretty cool too.

Today's miracle brought to you by my bathroom scale, which reports that, 6 days post-partum... I am somehow inexplicably back at my pre-pregnancy weight.

Not that my pre-pregnancy weight was anything to throw a party over. And not that being back at this weight doesn't mean I don't have twice the belly I had before my Little Geek came along and my maternity jeans are still the only ones that fit.

But considering where things are at right now (the Little Geek has decided that nursing is unnecessary and I'm a crazy lady for suggesting otherwise; I'm currently on a punishing 90 minute pump-and-feed cycle every 2 hours) I'll take what I can get in the miracle department.

I miss reading all the blogs, will catch up with everyone's adventures once the lactation consultant helps my little angel figures out how to eat again and I get more than 30 minutes at a stretch to try to do stuff like eat and shower and sleep.

And now... back to bed. For a few minutes, anyway.

Monday, November 19, 2007

It’s a Boy!

Alexander William
Born November 19, 2007 at 9:05 am
6 lbs 5 oz
20 inches

Mom went in to the hospital on Sunday night to be induced on Monday morning, but before they could get started, she went into labor on her own just before 7 am.

Alex managed to tie his umbilical cord in a knot. That, combined with an unusually fast labor of only 2 hours, kept things interesting. However, mother and baby are both doing well and expect to come home on Wednesday.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Make that Sunday...

Just got a call, someone else got scheduled for an induction at the same time and I'm being bumped (that tells me I'm clearly not in that bad of a situation, which I'm happy with). Revised plan (unless the castor oil works!) is to go in Sunday night.

Even my revised plans get revised! My friends are telling me to get used to it because it's just another lesson in motherhood...

I'll Have Room for Pumpkin Pie!

Unless I manage to get myself into labor before tomorrow night I'll be induced Friday morning. So it looks like the Little Geek will get to enjoy his first Thanksgiving at home with family, and this new mom will get to eat a real dinner without feet poking her poor squished tummy.

I'm not in love with the idea of an induction but am thrilled to be moving to the next step regardless of how scary the rest of life is right now.

Now (on my midwife's advice) I'm off to get me some castor oil... I guess I'll talk to y'all from the other side of this little adventure!

And I Thought the Insomnia Was Bad Before

It's 3 am. Do you know where your next mortgage payment is coming from?

This was supposed to be a gushy post about the results of my check-up. How the doctor said the baby grew quite a lot in the last week, how she sent me for an extra ultrasound because she's talking about inducing early and how I was going to find out this morning when that might be.

Instead, I get to report that Wonderful Husband got laid off.

It was yet another round of Motorola lay-off madness, and for the umpteenth time in a dozen years it looked like he'd been spared again since the other people in his group to go were informed last week. We'd literally just stopped holding our breath today... and then at noon he got a call for an impromptu meeting with his boss's boss (his boss was laid off last week).

He really is the most amazing man. While I was calling from the car to gush about the ultrasound, he was calmly pretending he wasn't 5 minutes from walking into the meeting in which he was 99% sure he was about to lose his job.

In fact, after hanging up the phone, in the 10 minutes it took me to get home, he managed to get a hold of my BF and have her come over "for a cup of tea and to play with Storm" so I wouldn't be alone when he called to break the news after his meeting.

(Yes, I thought it was a bit odd she dropped by at 3:00 on a work day, but it's not totally unusual. Her office is only 4 blocks away and sometimes she takes a little sanity break.)

So. Yeah. Let's just say I'm a bit overwhelmed. And I thought the week started out shitty when the mother-in-law's dog died on Sunday.

At least the severance will keep us in health insurance long enough to cover the birth and keep a roof over our heads through the (nobody fucking hires during the) holidays.

I think I'm going to regress into lurking mode for a while. I'll keep my Google Reader queue active and check in on everyone's adventures as much as I can. I promise I'll get up a post when the baby comes, but then I'm going to need a break while we sort out little things like the future of our entire family.

Monday, November 12, 2007

House Guest

The BF called me recently, very upset about Storm, the cat who lives in her boss's home office. Storm is a wonderful, affectionate cat whom we both care about very much. He's also a total character who does tricks like "sit" and "shake" for treats.

In order for this to make sense, you have to know the following: Her boss is an old family friend to both of us. Her parents and my in-laws go back over 30 years. They are very nice people who are generous and kind-hearted towards other people, and who have done wonderful things for us over the years. Unfortunately they also happen to be the kind of folks who treat pets as disposable. It is only because of the deep personal history that the BF and I can handle this particular aspect of their personalities. I can only give them credit for allowing us to step in when we want to without protest, because I've seen other animal owners insist on euthanizing rather than allowing someone else to help their pet.

Storm had clearly injured a rear leg and was in obvious pain. We know this because rather than hiding and sulking like a typical cat, he plopped down in front of her computer screen, stuck his leg out at her and howled. (Like I said, a total character.)

The BF felt trapped - she wanted to get the cat treatment, because she knew her boss was going to leave the decision for treatment up to their (spoiled rotten, drop-out) teenager and that he had flippantly said "just put him down." But she was about to leave town for a week to take her mom to the Mayo clinic regarding a mass on her liver (thankfully benign), a clear priority.

She convinced them to wait until she returned to do anything. Upon her return, she found that even though his leg was clearly injured and he could no longer jump onto the counter, it hadn't even occurred to them to put food or water where he could reach it. And of course they're still letting him wander around outside. Sadly, this did not surprise us, only strengthened our resolve to help him.

The BF has taken him to 3 consultations and been told various things, from dislocated hip to torn ACL, from '$600-$800 surgery is necessary right away' (which she's already decided she will pay for) to 'confine him for 3 weeks to see if it will heal on its own before looking at surgery.'

She can't take him home because she has an aggressive cat that will attack any cat in sight; we all know it would be an immediate blood bath. The boss's cleaning lady is thinking about taking him, but can't really afford to and the BF would have to pay for his food and litter and medical care anyway. I can't realistically take him because (challenges of integrating an outdoor cat into an all-indoor household of 5 existing pets aside) I'm giving birth any freaking minute now. And his actual owner... yeah. Food and water not even on their radar, so we can forget pain pills and special treatment for nearly a month (let alone if post-surgical care becomes necessary!).

Long story long, he's currently in my guest bathroom. The baby isn't here to need it yet and my mom's not coming to stay until next Wednesday. I figure at a minimum he can get at least some of his healing done here until we figure something else out. We openly admit we're being a little selfish not looking too far outside our circle because we love him and don't want to see him go completely away.

He's snuggly and purry and confused about his surroundings and we try to spend individual time with him a several times a day. The most remarkable thing has been how calm he is and how unremarkably my pets have responded. Bogart can be territorial and I was concerned about that, but the one time he tried to get in he ignored Storm and went straight for his food. I was almost hoping for some inter-pet drama; having his presence be a non-event makes it much harder on me to know I can't keep him.

At the moment our best bet is for him to heal up with me and then re-integrate him into his owner's home. At least BF is there all day, every day for work and can keep an eye on him. I simply don't know how long I can reasonably let him stay (for one thing, with him being an outdoor cat I can't handle his litter, which is unfair to Wonderful Husband) but it makes me feel at least a little better to do as much as I can for him.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Marketing to the Demographic of Me

I just found out about this:

The Lasalle Bank Do-It-Yourself Messiah

Apparently they're a multi-talented sponsor who puts on more than just a famous marathon. And the things they put on just happen to be things I'm ready to stand in line to sign up for. I happen to hate "title sponsors" of events and venues with the fire of a thousand suns... but I've got to hand it to LaSalle Bank, they've certainly nailed MY demographic down with frightening precision.

I just can't figure out how I've lived here for 12 years and not caught wind of such a kick-ass event. I desperately miss singing in a choir and I am SO TOTALLY going to do this next year.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


As promised, here's my totally self-indulgent, not remotely triathlon related pre-baby post. Please feel free to move along if you're looking for tales of training glory, athletic epiphanies or 2008 race schedules, 'cause I ain't got it for ya today.

Just past 37 weeks and all is well.

So well, in fact, that my midwife seems to think I might go a wee bit sooner rather than later, and is encouraging me to take care of packing the hospital bag. On account of stuff like having over 30 Braxton-Hicks contractions on Sunday (and a few other clear physical indicators the details of which you won't mind if I don't share).

And here I was being all good, keeping my insanity in check and not allowing myself to pack it in, ya know, June. I've seriously been restraining myself and was going to finally allow that particular OCD checklist frenzy to happen in about a week. Now I guess it needs to happen... today. Just in case and all.

Not that I don't love me a good OCD checklist frenzy. It's just that I was so proud of myself for keeping it under control I'm a little disappointed I'll be doing it early after all!

Here's where things are at with The Great OCD Baby Prep:

- Birth Plan researched, written and approved? CHECK
- Questioned own sanity half a dozen times a day for putting in Birth Plan that my goal is natural childbirth? CHECK
- Prenatal records sent to hospital? CHECK
- Hospital pre-registration sent? CHECK
- Life insurance arranged? CHECK
- 529 college plan opened? CHECK
- Looked longingly at 2008 race schedules? CHECK
- Pediatrician researched, interviewed and choice confirmed? CHECK
- Removed cat from bassinet 4872 times before giving up and letting him sleep there? CHECK
- Car seat installation approved by local law enforcement? CHECK
- Spent stupid amounts of money on special baby laundry detergent? CHECK
- Stacks of receiving blankets and burp cloths washed and organized? CHECK
- Crib and bassinet sheets washed and organized? CHECK
- Discover scent of stupidly expensive special baby detergent is awful, will probably give me headaches and that my unscented allergen free stuff would have been fine? CHECK
- Let Kona sniff all the freshly washed baby gear to get him used to the new things? CHECK
- Rewashed all the clean baby gear Kona drooled on? CHECK
- Freezer stocked full of chili, spaghetti sauce, chicken stock and assorted casseroles? CHECK
- Baby toys rearranged half a dozen times? CHECK
- Taken a nap in nursery rocker just to test it out? CHECK
- Adorable crib bedding set up and mobile installed? CHECK
- Gone through 6 different contact lists (yes, that many between the two of us, business and personal!) to pre-organize birth announcements? CHECK
- Purchased pajamas suitable for nursing? CHECK
- Tried on every nursing bra at maternity store and left in frustration? CHECK
- Gotten pissed off at need to special order stupidly ginormous (40G-H?!?!) nursing bras that hardly exist anywhere, even online? CHECK
- Agonized over lack of wardrobe to fit ever-expanding belly? CHECK
Taken 11/3/07, 37 weeks gestation.

- Planned iPod playlist of soothing music for labor? CHECK
- Gone psycho cleaning basement storage area and stocking with empty storage totes for soon-to-be-overwhelming supply of kid's clothes and toys? CHECK
- Hitting grocery store every 3 days to feed sudden unquenchable craving for milk? CHECK
- Obsessively watching (and crying over) every baby show on TV? CHECK
- Stared in silent amazement at teeny tiny socks? CHECK
- Nursery looking sickeningly cute? CHECK
- Baby's name? I'm sorry, what was that?
- Baby's name?! Uuuummm... yeah. I'll have to get back to you on that.

I'm exhausted just thinking about it all. I'm feeling confident though, like I'm pretty sure I haven't forgotten anything really important.

Now I'm going to hit the gym for a swim while I still can, because these darn "practice" contractions just won't leave me alone and I don't know how many more workouts I'll get in before the real ones kick in. I can pack the bag later tonight...

Monday, November 05, 2007

After School Special Edition

I belong to a networking group to help get referrals for my business. Our group decided to adopt Shop With A Cop as our official charity, and of course when it came time to arrange the fundraiser the charity liaisons asked me to donate my services for creating the flyers, fundraiser letters, etc. No problem.

During that process I got a bit frustrated because the police officer who needed to approve said documents was so darn busy it took much longer than it normally would for such a small project. Plus there was the added frustration of getting the feedback 3rd-hand, because I hadn't actually been put directly in touch with the officer.

So. About 6 six weeks ago I'm sitting in my prenatal class waiting for the visiting officer to give us the lecture on car seat safety and I notice his name badge. Same guy! So I used the 5 minutes before class to introduce myself, explain the SWAC fundraiser connection and make nice. BAM! I had his personal contact info, his approval on the documents and no more frustration for a pro bono project that had been taking far too much time.

Then he proceeded to give the car seat talk, where I learned part of the reason he's so darn hard to reach. He's the local authority on car seat installations and has personally done nearly 2000; he also supervises the other car seat installers, who he feels aren't quite yet up to speed.

Turns out, national statistics for incorrect car seat installations approach 90%; locally it's closer to 98%. He takes this very, very seriously and is personally responsible for saving quite a few kids whose seats would have been ejected from the car had he not fixed them.

Of course, this challenged my inner perfectionist and Wonderful Husband's inner engineer. We were determined to be in the 2% who got it right.

Cut to last week. I'm far enough along we don't feel like total dorks installing the car seat, so we dutifully read all the manuals and do everything else Officer A. told us to. Then I call to make the appointment for inspection, only to find he's been reassigned to midnights due to a staff shortage and is no longer doing them. But like the nerdy kid in class bouncing up and down with her hand up, I was determined to get teacher's recognition that I had the right answer.

So I emailed him under the guise of asking if I'll see him at the upcoming fundraiser, and threw in a question about sourcing a foam spacer for the car seats (because we need one to get the seat into WH's car properly). He promptly offers to do me a personal favor (his words) and could we meet him when his shift ends at 8am Saturday? Done and done.

It takes him all of 3 minutes to check the seat in my van and pronounce it a winner. (Secret OCD happy dance in my brain for being in the 2%!) Then we mentioned the challenge of getting the seat into Wonderful Husband's car - a Toyota Celica - and asked if he had any advice (this truly is a safety issue, we're not sure we'll be able to make it work). He said his car's an issue to, and his kids have simply never been in it.

I said, kind of off-hand to WH, that would work for us except for when I have to take my van to races because it's the only vehicle my bike will fit in.

He got SO EXCITED, said something like "Hey, another crazy person!" and asked me what kind of races and what kind of bike.

Turns out he's a hard core cyclist and has done several triathlons, including Chicago. He's so into it he talked the department into certifying him as a bike mechanic so he can play with bikes at work, plus he insisted on being certified as a bike officer. He rides like a crazy person and eats centuries for breakfast. We ended up chatting about riding and racing (in a 28 degree parking lot!) for nearly an hour, and our conversation ended with an invitation for me to come with him and his buddies (cops and paramedics all, talk about feeling safe on a ride!) next time they do the Cowalunga (a 200 mile, 3 day event I've been interested in).

How totally cool is THAT?!

By giving just a little bit of my time to a worthy charity, I ended up making:

- some great business connections
- a priceless connection in local law enforcement
- a potential training/race buddy who happens to be a certified mechanic!

The moral of the story....

Give what you can of yourself to those in need. You never know what you'll get in return.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

In Lieu of a Clock Tower

Thought I'd vent my hormonal rage at the self-designated Pregnant Police in our society here since I'm fresh out of clock towers and my AK-47 is in the shop...

I am pregnant. That does not mean I am an invalid.

Please stop telling me I "shouldn't be doing that." I know what I'm allowed to do.

Please stop telling me I can't lift or carry. Yes, I can. I can't lift quite as much or carry it quite as far, but I am aware of this and alter my efforts accordingly.

Please stop telling me to sit down and rest. My body will tell me when it's time for me to do that, and I will rest then and no sooner.

Please stop trying to do everything for me. If I need help I have no problem asking for it.

Please stop telling me I'm overexerting myself. I know what my limits are. Actually, spent the last 4 years training pretty damn hard to explore them, and the last 9 months learning how to dial back as necessary. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if my limits at 9 months pregnant are STILL broader than yours. So how about you stop assuming you know what I can and can't handle?

Please stop acting like I'm some fragile fucking flower that will wilt at any moment. Our maternal ancestors had to work in the fields and chop wood and carry water in this condition and no one batted an eye. Now the world has decided it's acceptable for (obese!) complete strangers to lecture us (some while smoking!) on how we're the ones being irresponsible with our health if we try to carry a grocery bag!

Newsflash: being pregnant is hard. fucking. work. We have to be tough to manage it in the first place. We might have days where we need to milk it a bit, and ya know what? We have every right to. But that doesn't give you the right to judge the other 95% of my existence on those particular moments of weakness.

So please. Stop acting like I'm helpless and that you know better than me or my doctor. If you don't, this pregnant chick might have to have someone help her off the couch so she can kick your ass.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happiness is...

... awesome friends who make me feel better when I lose sight of the big picture.

... awesome husbands who record the Accenture triathlon even when I don't know it's on.

... awesome yoga classmates who arrange to host our class in their homes during the two month gap between our gym session closing (this Friday) and Yogini's new sessions starting up in January at Parks and Rec.

Life is good. You guys rock. I love Halloween candy.

(Oh, and for those who've been asking... never fear! A self-indulgent, not-remotely-triathlon-related baby stuff post is coming soon.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Recipe for Disaster

Halloween candy + 36.5 weeks pregnant = "How Much Weight Can I Really Gain in 3 Weeks?" Attitude

I have been pretty good. OK, not about exercising. I've pretty much SUCKED at that and haven't seen the gym in 10 days. (It's the insomnia, it's killing me.) I've been feeling so guilty about my general state of sloth that I haven't even been able to bring myself to read the tri blogs in a week because seeing how great everyone else is doing will just make me feel worse.

However, I will say I have been eating relatively healthy and still reporting (most of) my sins to The Calorie Nazi. My weight gain has been extremely controlled and is honestly pretty minimal.

But today all bets were off. Not only did I dive into the Halloween candy, I chased it with a Big Mac and fries.

Maybe I need to join the cult of Tanita. At this rate I think she may be the only deity to whom I can appeal for forgiveness of these heinous transgressions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

That Was Almost Too Easy!

He didn't freak out. He wasn't scared. He just GOT IT in a big way and happily trotted around the yard with the trailer in tow. He even instinctively put his head down and dug in when it got stuck in the rough spots.

That's the great thing about working breeds - even if they're like Kona (a poorly bred, probably puppy-milled pet-shop specimen who's not too bright for his breed) when their DNA for a job kicks in and they not only know what to do, they're clearly having a good time doing it... it's a thing of beauty.

Of course, we weren't taking any chances and tested him in very controlled, fenced-yard conditions. But it went so well that once we get another nice day we'll move out to the street and see what happens.

He's nowhere near well-trained enough for me to run behind the trailer - I'll still need to run beside him holding a leash. But, the way the trailer hitch is designed I can easily stop it with my foot to keep it from rolling into him. Just to be safe, we're still going to take a look at real dog-carting setups to see if there's a better way to brake.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just When I'd Given Up... A Glimmer of Hope

My gym has a sister facility in the next town over (not the bigger town to the south with the snooty expensive gym, a smaller town to the west I almost never have reason to visit). I never bothered to check it out - it's farther away and besides, I heard from multiple people it did not have a pool.

And because it's a sister facility with the same set-up - small and inside an apartment complex, I assumed they were also shutting down and kicking everyone out because they've always shared management and staff.

But today I was informed otherwise on both counts, by none other than the outgoing manager of my current gym, who has worked for these gyms for 12 years. I trust her information over the random reports of other members.

It turns out only the apartment complex in MY town went condo and shut down the gym - the apartment complex in the next town over is still apartments, and the gym will remain open.

She warned me "it's not the same." Which scares me, because how much worse can it get?! My current pool is 44 feet long and requires 60 laps/mile. Reports differ - some people say it's just the depth that's different, some people say the pool overall is smaller.

Regardless. It's only 20 minutes away (as opposed to 30 for the place I can't afford or 35-40 for the place that's booked with 4 swim teams).

They're a small, older facility in a not-so-central location, and they're losing members hand over fist to the shiny new strip mall gyms. Their solution is to chop the monthly dues in half!

That means I can afford the additional cost of taking yoga elsewhere!

So. It's not a sure thing yet and it's still mighty inconvenient, but after all this frustration it sounds promising. They're even waiving the join fee for anyone coming from my gym. I'm going to pay them a visit in the next few weeks to see just how "not the same" the pool is, but if it's water and it's enclosed in 4 walls, I don't see how I won't just take it.

Stymied at Every Turn

Just got off the phone with the woman who runs the swim program at the local high school. Turns out I know her - she's the woman who teaches (aaahh... I guess that would be "taught") the children's swim lessons at my gym!

Ya know, the one that closed and kicked our asses out. And fired all the instructors.

She remembers me because I'm the one who always slipped in as tight as I could against the lane rope she set up to cordon off her lesson area, fighting amongst all the rotten brats being ignored by their moms while trying to get in some semblance of laps.

She's even more upset than I am, with great reason. Aside from the huge loss to the community - she was the only person teaching kids to swim around here - she's a teacher and counted on that gig for what was a sizeable chunk of summer income. She already had quite a few people signed up for lessons next spring that she's being forced to cancel. And she's got moms of toddlers from all over town calling and asking her where she'll be teaching next summer. And there is no answer for them. Because there is no other pool.

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but more than one person suggested to me I check out the Holiday Inn pool in the next town over (yes, the situation is that desperate). She informed me she's looked into it and that pool is also closing to the public. I mentioned the Y in the next town over (very close to the Holiday Inn, i.e. just as inconvenient) and she told me not to bother, because they've got 4 swim teams who practice there (3 local high schools and a community team) and the pool is almost never open for regular lap swimming.

She understands my frustration and was almost apologetic when she gave me the run-down on the high school pool's availability:

Fall Semester (pool available October 7 - holiday break date?)
Sunday 2-5 pm

Spring Semester (pool available January 10 - April 27)
Sunday 2-5 pm
Thursday 7-9 pm

Season Pass $60 or $3/swim. Two lanes are reserved for lap swimmers.

The entire pool is shut down from April to October.

She also mentioned the local outdoor public park pool does have an adult lap swim (one!! pathetic!! lane!!) from 5-6 pm when it's open (June - August). Whoo. Freakin. Hoo.

I thought I had a handle on this, but even my last resort options are turning out not to be options. I'm crying again from the sheer frustration.

I already turned in the client work due today. I think I'm gonna skip out for a bit and get in a swim. Ya know, while I still can.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Gratuitous Girlfriends Pic

This shot from my shower on Saturday came out so great I couldn't help but post it for the world to see. That, and it's a great excuse to put out there how much I love my girlfriends and how grateful I am that they gave me such a mind-blowingly awesome shower.

From L to R: Kathy, Angie (who almost signed up for her first sprint this summer and will probably take the plunge in 2008!), me (at 34 weeks), Ann (who's seriously considering doing her first sprint next summer!), and Bek (AKA The BF, FKA Reluctant Training Partner)

Sometimes the best gifts...

weren't even on the registry.

My insanely fabulous baby shower was this weekend. (Buffet dinner for 60. It was from "3-6." People started arriving at 2:30 and the last left around 11. It was unbelievable. Some family came from as far as 500 miles. I'm still overwhelmed with all the love and support.)

Among the incredibly cute, generous and fantastically practical things I received for the baby, two stuck out in particular.

1) An R.E.I. gift card, from my husband's cousin who wanted to treat the Triathlete Me to something because the Future Mommy Me was already getting what she needed.

2) A 2007 IM World Championship event t-shirt from my girlfriend who just got back from her honeymoon in Hawaii!!

Have I got the coolest friends or what?!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Potentially Insane

But the idea has got potential!

What do you get when you mix...

One goofy Shepherd with too much energy

One carting harness

And one children's bike trailer?
(not this exact model, but you get the idea)

OK, well, I don't know exactly what you get yet either.

BUT!! What I'm HOPING to get is a way for me to simultaneously run with the baby and the dog while draining more of Kona's boundless energy that I can by running alone (let alone by running and pushing a jogging stroller).

The final ingredient (the harness) for this potentially explosive combination just arrived today, so weather permitting we're going to start experimenting very soon!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Moving Right Along

Thanks to everybody for your kind words the last couple of days. It might sound incredibly stupid to some people, but losing my gym was a sudden and traumatic change I simply did not need right now, seeing as how it happened to be this enormous rock of stability in my life I planned to cling to as I adjusted to new motherhood.

I did some lovely wallowing and had a couple of good cries, and now I'm ready to do what needs to be done.

Swimming - This is the biggest problem. The closest pool is 10 miles away (~30 minutes), in a gym I can't even pretend to afford (Single membership: $500 join fee, $100 a month) that is so snooty they wouldn't even TALK to me on the phone about my membership inquiry until I gave the contact information of a personal reference who's already a member. They discourage day-passes, although if they're in a good mood and you're with a member you can swim for a mere $10. So. You can see how well THAT option is going to work out.

There's a rumor the local high school sometimes lets people swim in its pool. I happen to know they do not allow people to run on their track, so I'm not getting my hopes up about the swimming pool. I also heard they only let people in on weekends, which interferes with the traditional long bike and long run on the weekends. Although I am lucky enough to have a flexible work life, so maybe I'll have to suck it up and do my long stuff mid-week sometime. But the swim is my weakest event, I can't imagine how I'll be able to progress if forced to dial back to once a week (and only on the weeks they're not hosting an event). Someone is checking into the details for me, fingers are crossed.

Biking - Because Wonderful Husband got me a trainer for my birthday last year, this is not a problem. I hadn't touched the stationary bikes at the gym since last year. Case closed.

Running - A problem with an expensive - but logical - solution. I'd already started moving more of my run workouts outside anyway, and have even invested in some pretty decent cold weather gear. But I relied heavily on the gym's treadmills for running in bad weather (that includes extreme heat and cold) and for speed interval training (which I simply am not yet skilled enough to do outside). Plus, when you're overweight, it's strongly recommended to do a good portion of your run training on a treadmill to save your body from some of the pounding it gets outdoors.

Considering the baby is going to make it much harder to get out of the house regardless of the weather, I think it's time I bit the bullet and bought a new treadmill. I used to have (cheap, crappy, used) one and got a lot of use out of it before it died. Having one again would not only solve my indoor running problem, it will make it easier to sneak in a workout on crappy days or between baby feedings when there simply isn't time to get to the gym and back.

I also need to invest in something like a Garmin 305. I've been limited in my outdoor running because I can't track my speed or distance except on the boring 2 mile loop in my neighborhood, and even that data is sketchy because I currently suck at pacing myself. A Garmin would certainly solve those problems.

Not that I can afford either item, but at least I've got something specific to save my pennies for.

Strength Training - I hate this with a passion but I get that it's necessary. I've been in heaven since my physical therapist banned me from lifting, but next season I need to ease back into it. I will admit I feel pathetically weak since I stopped lifting - the muscle is just gone. I used the gym heavily for weight training before. My best friend's parents have a small weight lifting setup at their place and I've been invited to use it. Not great, and a far cry from my weekly weight training class taught by the personal trainer who's been helping me for 3 years, but at least it's something.

Core - I hate core work (who doesn't?), but I didn't mind the Pilates class at my gym because Yogini taught it, and it was free. I'm not going to pay for a separate Pilates class with some random teacher I'll probably never had time to go to after the baby comes. I should incorporate it as part of some double workout anyway, which makes a class illogical from a training standpoint. I've got a sports-oriented Pilates reference book and I can maybe buy the Core Performance workout dvd and just suck it up and do it at home.

Yoga - Yogini is working on finding a place that will let her teach at least a session a week. No word yet on when or where. Current options are looking like they'll cost me as much just for yoga as my whole damn gym membership did before. But I desperately need yoga and finding a way to continue it is a high priority - I simply can't beat my body up with all the other training and not give it something back. And a class is important to me because yoga is something I simply don't do even half as well, or as often, when I'm by myself. I very much need the guidance of an instructor.

So. That's the plan, if you can call it that.

Is it going to be all-in-one-place and 5-minutes-from-home convenient? Not remotely.
Is it going to cost more? Boatloads.
Will I have to completely rearrange my training schedule in incredibly frustrating and sub-optimal ways? YES.

But am I going to stop training because of it? HELL. NO.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Context is Key

Crawled out of bed late this morning, still exhausted from yesterday's long hard day of cleaning out the basement and garage (fall cleaning/nesting), organizing anything I could get my hands on (nesting), scrubbing (nesting) and disinfecting (nesting) and mopping (nesting) and general party prep mayhem (baby shower is next Saturday, nearly 70 guests expected, some of whom are family traveling 500 miles who have never seen my house... perfect excuse to let the OCD loose on the house cleaning). Throw in a little awake-since-4 insomnia and I was so not ready to face the yard work this morning.

Cause that mulch? It ain't gonna spread itself. And that dead lilac just keeps looking deader. At least the weeds seem to be doing just fine on their own.

Besides, it's nearly 80 damn degrees at 9 am! In OCTOBER!!

So instead of strapping on the garden gloves and hauling out the wheelbarrow, I plopped down in front of the Chicago Marathon coverage. They leaders, of course, were already at mile 14. (I figure I'm doing better than last time I watched it, when I made it out of bed just as they were crossing the finish line. If I'm not careful, at this rate I'm going to turn into one of those "morning people.")

As I dug into my Nutella-schmeared bagel I heard this little nugget...

Announcer #1: The lead pack is down to 6 from 11. How far back have the others fallen?
Announcer #2: Oh, they're WAY back. At least 25-30... (My brain inserts the word MINUTES)... seconds...

He said "seconds" as seriously as if it HAD been minutes.

I laughed so hard the dog looked at me funny. Were I running on this lovely fall day (*insert dripping sarcasm here - those poor guys are running in record high temps*) I'd be roughly 5 hours behind. THAT'S whatcha call "way back," Mr. Announcer Guy.

A few minutes later he was talking about their pace and saying how the lead pack had done the last several miles at a sub 4:50 pace. My first thought was "hey, that's not all that far off my marathon goal..." THEN it hit me. (Feel free to laugh at my idiocy. But in my defense, I'm on like 4 hours sleep.)

Yeah. 4:50/mile is SO TOTALLY DIFFERENT from my dream of running a sub 5 HOUR marathon. Hee hee. But for one brief shining, millisecond my hormone-addled, sleep-deprived brain fancied itself in the same league as the Kenyan pace bunnies. And that's not a bad way to start the day : )

Friday, October 05, 2007

Gut Punched

We were informed when we showed up for yoga this morning that the gym is closing to the public. The manager has already been let go. All the classes have been discontinued and the instructors fired.

My beloved Yogini couldn't bear to desert us so abruptly and has permission to continue yoga through the end of the month. We are allowed to continue using the facilities through December... but it will be unstaffed, no towels, no water.

Several people just walked out. I sat down and tried very, very hard not to lose it. I cried a lot during class today, quietly, pretending I was drying my forehead as I dried my tears.

When class was over I barely made it to my car before I broke down and I haven't stopped sobbing since.

It's not just that this is the only gym in town that has a pool. It's not just that this was the only gym in town that included yoga classes free with membership. It's not just that it's the only gym within a 30-60 minute radius I could remotely afford. And it's not just that it's less than 10 minutes from my house.

This gym has become my refuge. It's my home away from home and the people there have become a second family. When I found it 3 years ago, I had barely gotten started yet had already lost my way. I was struggling, had gone as far as I could take myself, and had started to despair of ever losing the weight. The instruction I got there put me back on the right path, and the friendships I made there kept me on it when things got rocky.

Without this gym I would almost certainly have failed. I'd have gained back the little weight I'd lost and certainly more. Without this gym I'd be a 300 pound invalid with diabetes and high cholesterol and hypertension and I sure as hell wouldn't have healthy baby on the way.

I feel like someone just tore a gaping hole in my life. Like I've been tossed into a deep, dark pit with no way out. I have no idea where to go from here. All I know is that there is no reasonable substitute, and whatever I'm forced to do is going to be inconvenient and cost more than I can afford.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Wonderful Husband Strikes Again

If the first anniversary is paper and the tenth is tin then the ninth must be.... iPod?!
Seriously. Do I have the best husband on the planet or what?

(I've been complaining for a while that my long runs had gotten longer than the amount of music my old MP3 player holds. And even though I won't be running for a while, he said he wanted me to have it now so I could do music mixes to help relax me when I'm in labor. I Love. This. Man.)

Congratulations are in Order

Last night, one of us became a mommy, official news of which I'm sure will be posted on her blog soon enough.

Until she's home and ready to post I don't want to share details that are hers to announce. I only want to say that I'm so very happy for her, that I'm honored to have been able to share the experience of a first pregnancy with someone as amazing as her and I can't wait to move forward with my training as a new mom with someone like her in my corner.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

2007 IMWI Volunteer/Sherpa Report Part 3

As soon as the cannon went off and families started clearing space around the swim fence, I worked on scoping out a picture taking station. This was definitely a case where my prior experience came in handy, because I knew the layout and ended up snagging a great spot right on the fence directly behind the wetsuit peelers. I figured the few seconds they'd pause to get peeled was the perfect chance to grab some pictures.

And I've gotta say, even with the 'pause to peel' factor, Robbie B's stripping crew was so fast it was actually pretty hard to catch pictures of our guys. For a lot of people, by the time I recognized them (soaking wet, sometimes still wearing swim cap) I'd get the camera up just in time to catch their back flying away towards T1.

Stripper Captain Tri Blogger Robbie B.

Taconite Boy getting stripped by (of course!) Tri-Mamma.
This also shows why it was so tough to get pictures. You can tell how far back I was, how many people I was trying to see through and a portion of the VIPs who were actually escorted inside the chute and blocked our view (this was taken after we finally got their self-important, oblivious butts to sit the hell down and stop completely blocking the view from the cheap seats.)

Stripper Tri-Mamma sending Greyhound on his way.

Iron Wil speeding from the stripping station towards T1.

Tri-Mamma wringing out her soaking wet shirt - stripper's occupational hazard!

The legendary Frank Farrar peeled and ready to tackle the bike.

I saw and cheered for and cowbelled several other Tri Bloggers - Stu and Roman and IM Able and on and on - but the pictures I snapped of them simply didn't come out. But I was still glad I got to be there for them, and even cooler was that some of them even saw me and waved back.

As soon as the swim was over I pulled out my phone to commence battle with the Madison Twighlight Zone of No Cell Reception so I could hook up with the Iron Sherpas and get my next assignment. It's really pretty frustrating - my phone will go from 2 bars to zero in the middle of a call... when I'm standing in the exact same spot. And because it's constantly struggling to maintain a signal, instead of holding a charge for a couple days the battery dies in 3 or 4 hours. And, of course, because I'm slightly outside my service area I'm charged extra for all that convenience and reliability.

Eventually got through to Iron Pol and Iron Mark and met up with them at the top of the Terrace, and then hooked up with 21st Century Mom and IronJenny! It was my first time meeting them and I hadn't realized I'd have the chance, so that was a definite treat.

Iron Mark, me, Iron Pol, 21st Century Mom, Iron Jenny

Our next task as Iron Sherpas was to locate a computer and wi-fi so the centralized blog could be updated with the swim pics. At a minimum some of us needed to off-load pictures to free up memory card space. Me, Iron Mark and Iron Pol decided to get my laptop since I was only parked about 3 blocks away and try the wi-fi at Starbucks right up the street.

On the way I couldn't help taking a picture of the Capitol building because it just looked so gorgeous.

While doing this I saw the 'low battery' warning and my heart stopped. It wasn't even 11:00 yet! They'd JUST finished the swim - there were two legs to go!! And I had fully charged it before leaving!!! This camera has held a charge for entire vacations where it was used for hundreds of pictures, so to say I was surprised and upset to lose my battery just a few HOURS into Ironman would be an understatement. More Madison Battery Sucking Twighlight Zone, I guess. And of course I had not packed the charger, because I'd never needed to before. Thankfully I was with the Iron Sherpas and we were all sharing picture taking duties, so I had them to fall back on. I was determined to get a shot of Iron Wil finishing, so I shut it down to conserve what was left and hoped like crazy I could squeeze another shot or two out of it 12 hours down the road.

We successfully offloaded Mark and Pol's pix to my laptop, but (as we'd feared) couldn't catch a Wi-Fi signal where we were, and (this should come as no surprise at this point)... my laptop battery was suddenly down to nothing (in a mere 30 minutes, from a full charge). And after seeing my misfortune, Mark and Pol wanted to recharge their camera batteries. We all agreed we were in dire need of electricity and hiked to Starbucks. Overpriced Wi-Fi was plentiful, but no electric outlets to be had. We decided to try our luck at Monona Terrace, figuring the odds were good a convention center would have a Wi-Fi situation. We were not to be deterred in our bloggy commitment to keeping the folks at home updated on the progress of our beloved athletes.

Luckily the gamble paid off. We found a quiet hallway with outlets and a handy shelf just right for setting up a laptop station. Pol quickly discovered Wi-Fi was an option, but only if we ponied up 10 bucks for a one day account. Iron Mark and I couldn't offer our wallets fast enough - it was more than worth it to have such a convenient location and to not be lugging everything around downtown Madison. So while Mark and Pol worked on that, I curled up on the floor and tried to rest and let the discomfort in my belly subside. Running around downtown lugging backpacks and laptop computers had put a serious dent in my physical reserves.

From there, Mark headed out to catch the Verona Shuttle for optimal bike-course picture taking. Then a really nice guy (friend of Roman's, his name eludes me at the moment) joined Pol and I and we headed over to State Street to catch lunch and cheer the first runners on the course.

After inhaling some decadent pizza with the guys we went back to Monona and I left my beloved laptop in Pol's custody while he shot pics of our folks coming off the bike. I went inside to rest my legs and stretch out my poor achin' back a bit in the short time I had before my gear bag shift started.

Gear bags was just as fun as I remembered it, and this year was a lot more challenging because I was at the very front of the room instead of the back. I quickly learned that when you're up front you only have 2 or 3 seconds to find a bag before the racers zooms past, and I could barely keep up with my one station. In the back, there's enough lag time to cover multiple stations with little trouble.

It was even more fun this year because the volunteers were really into it, cheering and clapping and yelling for many of the racers. Made the time fly by for us, and the athletes who came in dragging a bit after the bike really seemed to enjoy the boost.

I got to see a lot of our people come through - Bolder and Simply Stu and Taconite Boy and Roman and Greyhound and I'm sure there were more. I got a hug from Pharmie and she showed me her road rash from the bike accident. I was thrilled to see Iron Wil come through, running and smiling and looking strong and focused. It was truly fantastic to see after last year's hypothermic T2 extravaganza and just know it was her year, and that she was going to conquer this race.

The only downer in T2 was seeing IM Able's gear bag was missing as soon as I arrived and knowing it was too soon for her to have come through. Since they only let gear bags be checked out early if someone has dropped for medical reasons, I was really worried something bad had happened to her. Even though I was sorry her race day didn't go as planned, it was a relief when I found out later she had pulled herself out due to illness, and hadn't been forced out due to a terrible accident or injury.

Iron Pol returned my computer just as my gear bag shift ended and then headed out to onto the course to run with some of our people. I stopped by my van for a bit to lock up my computer and recharge my phone for the 3rd time that day. Mark met me there to offload some more pictures, then we headed back to Monona. We commandeered one of the athlete checking stations and went through our team list, updating all their current stats and extrapolating potential finish times.

On our way to the stands at the finish we managed to bump into Wendy, and we hung out with her until she went to be near the family area for her brother Brent's finish. Then Mark and I chilled out in the stands for something like 3 hours. (He's one cool dude and I highly recommend, if you ever find yourself stuck in bleachers for 3 or 4 hours, doing so with him.) We were exhausted (he'd been at the site since 4:30 am, me since 6:30) and both facing drives back home that night, but we were determined to stick it out to see our team finish.

Our patience was rewarded with the finishes of quite a few Tri Bloggers, and I was even lucky enough to bump into Boomer and Kona Shelley in the stands just after his race. Boomer looked so great after finishing I couldn't help risking my battery to get a shot of him and Shelley, his intrepid Iron veteran escort for the evening.

After a few trips back to the Terrace to scope out the latest athlete tracker stats and some creative sign language across the crowd from Little Miss Runner Pants, we got word on Iron Wil and knew she was getting close. Just as we were starting to look for Wil, we were also treated to Pharmie's big finish.

After following her story for the last two years and being there for part of the insanity that was IMWI 2006, my heart was bursting when I finally saw Iron Wil come running down that chute with a huge smile on her face. I ran as fast as my 7 month pregnant bod would allow me to around the stands to the back of the athlete area, where I found Wil's husband looking through the gate at Wil hugging Pharmie. I told him the guards would let him in for his wife, and even though I knew I could get in (still wearing my Iron Crew shirt and special access wrist band) I stayed outside the gate and waited patiently. I felt like going in would have been an imposition on a moment between her husband and fellow finishers.

She came out soon enough and gave me a great big hug and I couldn't help crying. It's hard to explain how you can be so proud of someone else's accomplishment... maybe it's a testament to her warm, open heart and brilliant writing, that she has brought so many of us together and impacted us so deeply.

Then I pulled out the camera and used the last of the battery to get the picture that mattered most that day:

After seeing Wil head off to handle post-race logistics, Mark and I agreed we were done. Even though we knew Frank Farrar was maybe half an hour out, we just didn't have anything left to give. Besides, I knew I could always see Frank finish on YouTube. We quietly skirted the madness of the finish line in search of our cars.

I was a few miles outside Madison, driving in the dark as I watched the clock count down to midnight with a twinge of regret that I wasn't watching it from the stands. But I'd been up and around for 19 hours and had nearly a hundred miles to drive. I'd put myself through more than enough that day, especially for being 7 months pregnant. Besides, I'd seen what I'd gone to see, spent time with wonderful people and gotten more enjoyment out of the entire weekend than I'd thought possible considering my physical limitations. So, once again, I told myself "there's always next year."

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

2007 IMWI Volunteer/Sherpa Report Part 2

I have no idea how Ironman hopefuls sleep the night before a race, because just as a volunteer I tossed and turned all night with anticipation. My watch alarm went off, predictably, just as I'd finally dozed off, forcing me to drag my groggy self out of bed and face the 5-am-ness of it all. Even though it's ridiculous o'clock to me, I knew on Ironman race day that sleeping until 5 was a lazy man's luxury and that a lot of folks had long since arrived at Monona Terrace.

I got parked in the limited access volunteer lot with no trouble and made my over to the Terrace. I couldn't help stopping for a moment to stand in the still-being-constructed finisher's chute, imaging the day I'll have my chance to run it for real.

Leaving the chute and heading for the Terrace I bumped into Wendy, watching with envy while she got a steaming hot cup o' coffee. (I know it's perfectly safe to have a cup or two once in a while, but the day was already going to be logistically challenging enough with a baby stomping on my bladder every 20 minutes, so I figured throwing caffeine into the mix would be the epitome of stupid.) Then we walked and chatted our way to the Terrace, parting ways at the entrance to head for our predetermined Iron Sherpa Swim Leg Picture Taking Posts.

Because I was wearing a crew shirt I knew I could cut through the building, where I had every intention of taking what I think of as the "pregnant priviledge" and using the real bathrooms instead of the public porta-potties.

What I didn't realize - because I'd slept in last year with a nasty chest cold and missed the swim start - was that the reason they keep people out of the building before the swim is that the athletes turn the halls into one giant transition area.

I weaved my way in and out of the masses of fit, neoprene-clad bodies, keeping my head down, trying to look like I belonged there and feeling more than a little bit guilty for being in their space. As luck would have it my illegal jaunt brought me face to face with our team, who had just lined up for a group shot. I couldn't get my camera out in time to catch the team posed together, but I managed to get a couple of individual pictures and a few quick hugs before they headed down to the water.

Simply Stu displaying his typical exuberance.

Iron Wil looking more than ready to go, accompanied by the uber-cool Mr. Wil.

Around 6:30 I joined the mass of athletes migrating towards the swim start. I quickly realized the spot I'd originally planned to take pictures from wasn't precisely on the swim exit like I'd thought, but I decided to work it out later. Because I noticed this poor, lone security guy trying vainly to keep a path clear for the athletes being blocked from the side entrance to the swim start by hordes of oblivious spectators intent on forcing their way to the fence to get a good view. So I - and shortly after that another off-duty volunteer - set ourselves up along the path and spent the rest of the time before the cannon waving in athletes who should have already been in the water (many of whom simply couldn't see the entry due to the crowds), firmly shooing spectators out of their way, and explaining to confused spouses clutching morning clothes bags to where they could drop them off.

In between guiding grateful athletes and getting dirty looks from pushy family members who didn't seem to believe me when I informed them they could not actually go into the swim chute, I managed to notice the glorious sunrise. And, of course, get all choked up as it hit me where I was and how happy I was all these amazing people were granted such a beautiful day for this race.

Perfect Ironman sunrise.

TriBoomer was one of the athletes who happened to pass by while I worked this impromptu volunteer post, and I managed to get a quick hug and picture before he hit the water.

TriBoomer looking ready to go!

Then came the National Anthem, and more happy tears hidden behind my sunglasses. I couldn't help thinking about how lucky we all are to have been born here, and to have lives so full of blessings that we can freely choose to spend our time doing what we do, and in doing so make our privileged lives even better.

And then the cannon fired.

Easiest Donation You'll Ever Make

Ten years ago I did a research presentation for one of my biology classes on cord blood donation to support stem cell and treatments for many diseases. Since a full decade has passed, I assumed that cord blood donation would now be a routine procedure when giving birth.

Boy, was I ever naive to think that something cost free and pain free that can save lives - and if not done simply ends up in the garbage - would become a common practice. Silly me.

The nurse teaching the prenatal class said it wasn't available unless you're doing the thing where you pay a small fortune to have it privately banked. I just want to donate it for research and/or public use. WHY is that so hard? For several weeks I've been quite frustrated and not sure how to proceed.

I brought it up at my check-up today and my midwife said that she literally received information on an organization I can donate to yesterday, and had I asked the question any sooner she would have had to tell me it wasn't possible.

I rushed home and checked their requirements, and luckily I am still outside the 4 week minimum before my due date to start the process.

So, if anyone out there is pregnant (or knows of someone who is), please consider donating your cord blood to a public bank. You could save the life of a child with leukemia or other heritable disease.

If you're in the Chicago area, you can visit to learn more.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I Know, I'm a Baaad Blogger

I finally got the IMWI pics downloaded and sized for the web. Should get posted tomorrow. I know. I'm terrible. But I'm just so BEHIND on everything.

Before I get to the final IMWI post, I just wanted to take a moment to wax hormonal about how important family is and how wonderful it is to have the opportunity to forge relationships with distant relatives.

Since the trip to Minnesota earlier this month I've been corresponding with a wonderful older woman (and her 92 year old mother!) who belongs to a branch of my husband's paternal side of the family we had been previously unaware of. (This was particularly upsetting because it turns out they used to have annual family reunions and never knew to invite us!)

Anyway, she was quite happy to learn that I'm interested in the family history and has been providing me with priceless names and dates so I can dutifully record them in the family tree software. (My MIL is also sending her old family photographs so she can help us identify the people, which is a huge help.) I just got a letter from her saying she found an 11 page family history document dating back to 1824!

So, yay for family. I love that I'll be able to show my baby how deep the roots of his family tree go, and that I was lucky enough to meet this wonderful lady who obviously cares as much as I do about the family history.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Uncommonly Good Customer Service Experience

A couple days ago we received our fancy schmancy new stroller travel system (long story why we couldn't stick with the one the MIL bought used we originally thought would work) and after getting it all put together and discarding the packaging, the Geek noticed a tear in the canopy.

I stressed about it for a while, thinking about what an unbelievable hassle it would be to recollect all the packaging from the various recycling containers, disassemble all the pieces, and reship a 4 foot by 3 foot by 3 foot ginormous freakin box.

But this morning I got my head on straight, took a good look at how it was put together and realized it should be a simple matter of replacing a part held on with two simple screws. I called Graco, told them what happened and gave them serial number. They haven't even received our product registration card yet, but in less than 5 minutes, no questions asked, they shipped me a replacement part.

Definitely a company I will continue to do business with in the future.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

2007 IMWI Volunteer/Sherpa Report Part 1

Sorry for the delay in this post, work and catching up on real life stuff after several consecutive weekends of travel had to come first...

I headed to Madison at lunchtime Friday and arrived at my friend's place with just enough time to unpack the van, stretch a bit and spend a few minutes snuggling with my host for the weekend.

I kept Gonzo (aka the sweetest cat on the planet) company in exchange for free crash space at my buddy's place 5 minutes from Monona Terrace.

This year the trip felt vastly different from last year, all in good ways. Last year was an incredible experience I wouldn't change for the world, but being who I am it was also a challenging experience, because I don't like not knowing. And it didn't matter that (with the exception of that nasty sinus infection) everything went well last year and I had a fantastic time - bottom line is I went into it blind and that always makes me tense.

This year I knew where I was going, I knew who I was going there with, I knew what to expect and when to expect it. Color me OCD, but this made for a calm and happy Siren. Even dealing with the little inconveniences of road construction and traveling pregnant wasn't too bad because I felt like I had a handle on everything.

I went to the 4:00 Tri Blogger Meet-up on Friday and I was thrilled to see old friends and meet new ones. There was much joking, taking of pictures and general camaraderie. I was especially excited to finally meet Wendy, and I must say I was taken with her immediately. She's one cool lady and I encourage anyone who has the chance to hang out with her sometime.
(Back Row) Bolder, AJ, Laurie, Wil, ?, Greyhound, Pharmie, Steve, Thomps, Rural Girl, Me, Wendy
(Front Row) Chris, Bubba, Simply Stu, Erin, Brent
My apologies to the bloggers who's faces I can't place! (If anyone can help me with the missing names that would be great!)
Photo credit - Mr. Wil

Ironman Powers.... ACTIVATE!!

I'd assumed more or less correctly that people would make plans for meals and general hanging out at the meet-ups, but had completely forgotten that wouldn't apply on Friday night because of the Athlete's dinner. I was kind of kicking myself for forgetting this very obvious thing and wondering if it was too late to get a ticket when Wendy let me know that she and Brent had already talked about it and had an extra ticket on hand for me! (See what I told ya? She's a seriously cool chick!)

So we all trooped into the Terrace for dinner and managed to score a table all together; thus continued the general merriment of the day.

Pharmie, ?, Laurie, Bolder, Rural Girl, Stu (sorry for the names I left off!)

Simply Stu, Wil and Mr. Wil

Tac and Greyhound

Towards the end of dinner I realized no one had yet heard from IM Able, so we called her and discovered she was shopping at the Expo one floor up. A few minutes and some jumping up and down to be seen over a crowd of 3000 later, Steve in a Speedo and I were mauling her with bear hugs and dragging her over to the rest of the gang to sit with us for the meeting.

Sidebar: At dinner I heard rumors of an Ironman onesie at the Expo, and suddenly life as I knew it could not go one until I owned one. So while the athletes listened to the course talk I slipped out to snag one for the Little Geek. Of course, they were already completely sold out.

After the athlete meeting we all went off in search of a good night's sleep.

Arrived at the 8:00 am volunteer meeting with time to spare - no small miracle for me! While looking for my captains I ended up correcting some other captains as they misinformed the entire changing room crew about when the bike course closed and when their shift would end (this is NOT a small detail, you'd think the captains would have a handle on it!), then went to the gear bag room to find my actual captains.

My OCD extra packing paid off big time as one of the volunteers asked at the end of our meeting why the bag number sequences weren't on the BACKS of the signs as well, so the volunteers could actually, ya know, do their jobs. The gear bag captain (a friendly, intelligent well-organized guy who is by far the best captain I've worked with so far) said he would try to make that happen.

After the meeting I told him I'd brought paper, markers and tape for just such an occasion and he seemed very relieved that I was willing to take care of it for him. Another couple of very nice women jumped in and we had both rooms done in about an hour.

Ever since Mishele K brought it up, I'd been thinking hard about doing the Gatorade swim at 9:30 that morning. I'd heard anyone could do it, even wannabe Ironmen, and was serious enough about trying it I had my transition bag in the van with my suit and a change of clothes. Plus, I thought it would be kinda funny for the pregnant chick to jump in with all the Iron Folk.

I went down to the water but didn't see anyone I knew (I was hoping I'd magically recognize Blogger Mishele K, but you know how that goes) and got intimidated. I still went all the way down to the water and dipped my feet in, only to discover there's a reason every single person around me was in a wetsuit. Since I have to keep little things like my core temperature and my baby's safety in mind, I decided to bag the swim. I can always do it next year.

Went to the 11:00 Blogger meet-up, which was smaller than the night before because most of the athletes were taking care of race check-in business. One highlight was meeting Kona Shelley, who just radiates joy and friendliness. Another exciting moment for me was finally meeting Tri-Mamma and The Tribe, out in force to support Taconite Boy. She's as warm and wonderful as everyone says and I was happy to finally cross paths with her in real life. Luckily I also found Mishele K there, who told me she'd actually gone swimming at 7 (hence the not finding her at 9:30). I had a really nice time chatting with her as we wandered around the Terrace taking care of a couple things, then we parted ways.

4:00 Saturday I met with Iron Sherpas Iron Pol, AJ, Wendy and Iron Mark to make plans for picture taking locations and centralized blog updating. Even though I could feel myself getting achy and tired and cranky and generally starting to feel the long day and being 7 months pregnant, I really really hope I didn't come off too badly with these wonderful people. I was very much looking forward to working with these guys to help keep the blogosphere on top of the adventures of our fearless athletes!

After a light dinner we all headed our separate ways to turn in early, with plans to be at the swim start and early Sunday.