Friday, March 30, 2007

General Life Stuff

Sorry I haven't been able to visit everyone's blogs much lately - lots of stuff happening that's conspired to suck up my free time.

Grandma's still in the hospital. The immediate threat to her life is gone, but the long-term issue related to her ability to eat normal food will never be truly resolved. We're trying to figure out how to get her settled back at home when it's already screamingly obvious she has no intention of following the doctor's orders, which means she will sooner or later end up right back where she was - on the brink of death from aspiration pneumonia. All that's left to wonder about is how many times we're going to go around in this particular circle before she ultimately kills herself with stubbornness.

Just to keep things interesting, I just found out that my dad (adopted, not bio) has a heart condition. Has for a while. In fact, when Mom was visiting me for Thanksgiving, he ended up in the hospital with an attack. The family decided not to call us so Mom wouldn't drive 250 miles back in a panic. Mom ended up finding out that her husband was in the hospital when she went to work Monday morning as asked "where's Fred?" I just found out - 4 months later. It's probably going to kill him sooner rather than later, and it simply didn't occur to anyone that perhaps I should be informed, if only so I could be there for mom. I'm not saying I'll be sad if the sick sadistic abusive bastard keels over, I'm just saying it's still going to impact me when it happens and I should have been told.

My mom's divorce was finalized last week. She didn't even tell me - I found out several days after the fact because I was calling to check on Grandma. She'd inadvertently told me the wrong date, and the day it happened she didn't feel like talking to anyone so did not bother to call me. Thankfully my SIL was there to take her to court, and then out for a nice lunch a relaxed shopping after it was over. Whatever my other issues with my SIL are, she has never been anything but wonderful to my mom and I'll always be grateful for that.

There are no words for how proud I am of my mom. She told me now that it's over she feels more focused and motivated than she ever has in her entire life. Of course she's still sad that her marriage is over, and no one but another battered woman can probably understand why that is. It's just so wonderful to see her - at 56 - finally becoming the person I always knew she could be.

After decades of feeling responsible for her pain, and feeling guilty that if she hadn't had us to take care of she'd have left 20 years ago, it's like this enormous weight has been lifted. I know it was never my fault, but really, when does that ever keep us from feeling the burden of responsibility when you've been there in the midst of it?

It's like I suddenly have permission to get on with my life, and to not feel guilty about the happiness I've created for myself. I've always known how much I have to be grateful for, but I never realized now how much I was hiding that from my mom. I felt like I was rubbing my wonderful life in her face. Now I don't have to worry about that any more, because now I get to help her build a wonderful life of her own.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Humble Pie

The other patients at my physical therapy appointments are usually pudgy retirees. When I'm there getting treatment for my sports injury hearing them talk about their back pain and what flavor ice cream they're having later, I feel pretty good about myself.

Yesterday was different. I walked in and in place of the sweet older folks were two unbearably beautiful teenage girls with outrageously perfect, athletic bodies.

One's an elite gymnast and the other, her older sister, is the most recent Illinois State Champion for the mile.

Her time? 4:56

Yeah. It got worse when the younger one revealed she was born in 1993. That makes me technically old enough to be her mother.

They were very sweet and a pleasure to talk to. It was a privilege to meet such accomplished, confident young women and talk about sports like equals. And I was impressed they did not seem spoiled or arrogant.

But I've gotta say, I'm secretly hoping for the old folks to be there again on Thursday.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Back in the Saddle Again

Hello pavement. How have you been?

Hello endless uphill grade between me and the bike trail. You seem smaller this year.

Hello stop sign at the top of the hill. Look! You don't make me fall over any more!

Hello barky dogs. Glad to see the fence is still holding.

Hello tummy that won't let me go aero. You're smaller than ever - sooner or later you'll be a distant memory, and I'll have an efficient position.

Hello nice drivers that let me cross the big road safely.

Hello burny quads and ouchy butt and tingly hands.

Hello grease-smears and random black smudges. Hello helmet hair.

I'm missed you so! Thanks for making me feel alive.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Great Day

1) PT cleared me to do a test ride on my bike, see how the shoulder takes it.

2) Did a really hard interval workout, in the process PRd 5K in 40 min (I don't it doesn't really count in an interval workout, but it's still a big deal to me)

3) Got in a nice long bike ride with Kona monster.

4) Hit new low and next milestone - 55 pounds down.

Yay me : )

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


It's only been a couple of weeks since I started to understand the whole 'key workout' thing. Due to various scheduling things with work I haven't been getting them in all that regularly, which is ok because I don't officially have to start The Plan for another week or so. (Before which time I should probably finish planning The Plan, no?) What I have managed to get in is several speed interval sessions and some scattered introductory outdoor runs.

So yesterday, when I finally made it in for the endurance workout on my schedule, I wasn't expecting anything to have changed.

All I can say is: Ho. ly. Shit.

I officially had my very first real Zone 2 endurance session, with actual running! No walking, no slowing down to walk, no getting frustrated with my soaring heart rate. It was easy. It was GREAT. And I didn't want to stop running. Ever.

I should credit the Joel Friel book I just finished - Total Heart Rate Training. It helped me figure out better where my Zones are, and showed me the reason I couldn't keep my Zone 2 workout at a 140 like everyone else's seems to be is that 140 is Zone 1 for me. I know everyone's different, but I guess I had a hard time accepting my HR is easily 20-30 BPM faster than y'alls. Hopefully that will continue to improve along with everything else.

So, yeah. My endurance workout. I paced it at 14:40, any faster and the HR wasn't steady. One of my friends stopped by to chat when I was running and about fell over when she saw I'd been running for over 40 minutes. She actually said "BUT... your face isn't red. And you're talking fine!"

(Which should tell you a little bit about what a complete disaster I've always looked when I run. Remember my story about the old guy who came over once when I was running and told me to be careful of my heart? Yeah. I've seen women in hard labor look better than me running.)

I'd gone into it planning for 30 minutes. But I've been freaking out pretty badly about the idea of running for over an hour at the 8K in 4 weeks... and don't get me started on the sheer terror I've been feeling about the impossible idea of running for 3 hours in 5 months. So I kept running beyond my plan, because I suddenly had a burning need to see how long I could keep it up.

45 minutes. Of running. Without a red face. Breathing easy. Chattin' with a girlfriend. Pretty steady HR (160s). Feelin' good.

I guess what I'm trying to ramble is this: I can see it.

Just like all my new goals, I signed up before I could see it and forced yourself to have faith in the training to come. It's always scary, I always doubt myself, and it generally takes me many, many months of showing up for the hard work before the Training Gods gift me with a vision of success.

So you could say I'm more than a little flustered that yesterday, before my training has even officially begun, I had the vision. I felt not just the possibility inside me - I felt the ability. Now I can see running for an hour. Or 3. Or even 5, someday. (Someday being October 2008, if you're keeping track).

Last year was supposed to be The Year of Running, but the Injury Gods conspired against me. Now I see that I wasn't ready for this last year. It was good I had to wait, because it appears the Training Gods have awarded my patience with even bigger blessings.

(Now, let's see about finding the vision of 8 hours on a bike...)

Monday, March 19, 2007

Gratuitous Self-Congratulatory Post

Tonight, I had two years of hard work and dedication pay off.

About two years ago I joined the Chamber of Commerce under the affordable "home based business" category. Immediately after that I was invited to participate in the Home Based Business Round Table - supposedly a support group for similar businesses.

It was basically a handful of Independent Consultants for Companies That Give Boring Home Presentations For Crap You Don't Need, sitting around and bickering over booth placement at the next craft fair vendor expo just kill me now extravaganza.

I stuck around for a few meetings, hoping it would get better, but seeing clearly these direct-to-consumer sales folk (many of whom, btw, did this part time, had regular full time jobs, and could give a shit that the rest of us actually needed our businesses to succeed) had no idea what my needs were as a professional selling marketing services to small companies.

Before I quit outright, I found out that I was not alone in my frustration. Turns out, there's over 50 people registered in the chamber with concerns like mine. They just gave up before I came along, since nothing had changed in the 6 years since the then-leader had been in charge. I went to the president of the chamber and told her it was a waste of my time, and what I had been hoping to find simply wasn't there.

She begged me not to quit, told me they'd been waiting for someone like me to come along. Someone who could create change.

She gave me permission to turn everything on its head. So I did. The first order of business was to dissociate ourselves from the name "Home Based Business Group," because by then it had such an unprofessional stigma I couldn't even disclose affiliation with it for fear of losing business. I wrote a proposal. It was circulated. The vote - excepting the current president - was unanimous. She promptly resigned.

Thus was born the SOHO Forum (Small Office Home Office - a nationally recognized term) - a free educational resource for small business owners in our chamber. And guess who they put in charge? (Well, me and this other guy who I couldn't rely on to remember to show up to the meetings, let alone help me arrange them.)

I spent 2006 fighting for recognition. Begging people to come, convincing them it was all different now. They started to come... and then I had to work even harder to keep coming up with new business education topics, and new speakers to give them. People started coming up to me at events, saying they'd been hearing "good things" about SOHO and asking questions about it. Suddenly, people who had avoided the group for years were popping in. We got highlighted in various chamber publications and I got my picture in the newsletter.

I guess they liked what I did - I won the 2007 election in a landslide (thankfully the co-chair who won with me is a brilliant, motivated woman I would have done anything to work with). It meant more work, but with my new partner I was ready and willing.

The last several meetings have been great - filled the available seating - and we've been looking for a bigger venue. But we hadn't been in too big a hurry, because the attendees seemed to be naturally limited to the size of the space. We probably had 20-30 regular participants, just never on the same night.

Until tonight.

It was standing room only. The group kept the speaker - a highly paid sales consultant it was a major coup to get - going for over an hour with follow-up questions, and they'd have kept going indefinitely if we hadn't been forced to call it a night. Then everyone hung out and networked for at least another half hour.

When I got home my phone was ringing - my partner calling to share her enthusiasm for the rousing success. Success we created with one big idea, a lot of motivation and an undying faith that if we provided solid business education opportunities for the small business owner, they would come. And so they did.

We've already got an appointment to check out a bigger meeting space tomorrow....

Calorie Nazi Status Report

I knew the initial success was too good to be true, and it was. In spite of dramatic decreases in calories and increases in activity, I've been stalled out for a couple of weeks. And now that Invasion Flo is marching in, things have crept up by a couple pounds of bloating, which we already know the software is incapable of dealing with in a logical manner.

I know my body is stupid and stubborn and not normal. I know that I have a health condition the very definition of which is concerned with not burning energy properly. And I know that I just managed to lose in the first two months of 2007 what it took me all year to lose in 2006. But what my head knows can't put a dent in what I'm feeling right now, which is angry and frustrated to tears.

I will give it credit and say that it did not send me off the calorie cliff right away; if it had, I might already be in a nice padded cell. But every day I'm stuck, it chips away. In the last 3 weeks or so, the Calorie Nazi has reduced my daily calorie budget from the 2100-2300 range (the point at which, I should add, I lost those 9 pounds in the first few weeks) down to, today, the 1400-1500 range.

After 3 weeks of this slow torture, my weight finally, finally budged by about half a pound. But because I'm several now weeks behind on the plan, it still reduced my budget some more.

I get that skinny girls only eat about 1200 a day. I GET IT. I should - my tiny friends remind me of it on a regular basis. But I'm coming from a place of insulin resistance and hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism and morbid obesity due to hypothyroidism. I'm coming from a place where eating 2400 a day still got me to lose weight fairly steadily for the last 3 years. And damn it, I still weight ninety freaking pounds more than my tiny friends who only eat 1200 a day, aside from the fact that I'm more far more active and almost certainly have more muscle mass. It's logical that I should be eating more to survive in my current state.

I've been mentally prepared to cut the calories, and have been dutifully doing so. And I thought the 2000-ish budget that worked for a couple of weeks was reasonable - my eating habits have improved to the point that it wasn't unusual to have extra left over at the end of the day. But nothing could prepare me for cutting 800 a day (really 1300 a day, to make the 500-less-a-day goal) in just a couple of weeks.

I even adjusted the settings to push my goal date out by 6 months, hoping that would ease things up. It didn't.

If things don't start looking up soon I'm not sure how long I can stick with it. I'm going through wholesome, filling, low cal, blah blah blah foods than I can shake a stick at. If I never see another baby carrot again it will be too soon.

I'm finding myself desperately hungry during the day - I'm drinking so much extra water to feel full we've been forced to order an extra 5 gallon bottle with our delivery. I definitely feel like I'm not getting enough food to fuel my workouts, because the extra calories burned in training just barely make up enough to allow me to eat a moderate dinner. If I eat a small enough breakfast and lunch to have a bigger dinner, I'm so hungry during the day I can get light-headed, nauseous and headachy, and then I overeat at dinner because I'm too damn hungry. I'm either going into my training sessions hungry or coming out of it hungry. Neither is acceptable, for all the reasons you already know.

The last couple of weeks it's been fairly normal to find me after dinner frantically cleaning the house (94 calories/20 min), trudging up and down the stairs (264 calories/20 min), demanding to have sex (200 calories/20 min) or hopping onto the elliptical (340 calories/20 min) just so the numbers for the day balance out. I'm finding the extra activities I'm doing at night to try to keep the calories in balance are making me tired and and my muscles sore to the point that my regular workouts the next morning are being impacted.

I know this is just part of dealing with my health problem. And this is precisely the point at which I would normally give up any other diet/calorie counting program, because nothing out there really takes a metabolic disorder into account.

But for some reason I'm still completely addicted to the Calorie Nazi, and no matter how insane it's making me I can't seem to bring myself to even consider quitting. And it's not just the fear that it might be right, and that I really might need to cut back this far. I'm not even skipping days like I was before! This weight loss tool has hooked itself firmly into my detail-oriented, analytical, OCD, hard-number-loving, problem-solving nature. Its methods appeal to me and I want to stick with it.

But holy crap, does it have to be this hard?

Feminism Tag

I got tagged by the ever cool Geek Girl.

What five things can I thank feminism for?

1) Recognition from educational authority figures that my academic talent deserved to be nurtured from a young age.
2) Equal standing to compete for the academic scholarships that got me through school.
3) Acceptance into the toughest programs at the best schools.
4) Birth control that allowed me to embrace love and sexuality without undue risk to my education and early career.
5) Competitive, experience and education-based salary at a top company.

I know there is a lot more to be grateful for, but my education and how it shaped my career has been the key to making life as I know it today possible. That's where I feel it most keenly, because I see the hard life my mom has lived and know that would have been my fate too. She didn't have the same chance to escape and build something for herself because she didn't have access to the same educational opportunities I did.

I'd also like to say that, while we have come a long way, there is still noticeable chauvinism in the workplace. It's not the only reason I chose to leave Corporate America, but it was on the list. There's only so many times you can sit still for having your suggestions ignored because you're the youngest woman in the room, only to find out a month later your boss is getting an award for great work after stealing your idea and presenting it himself.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Look Daddy! That Dog's Wearing Shoes!

Big thanks to TriTeacher for the links to heavy-duty doggy boots. I'm SO getting some.

But since I haven't ordered them yet - really just a matter of laziness and not getting my wallet close enough to the computer - I picked up some cheapies while I was getting cat food today, just to do a proof of concept. Because after a far-too-brief hiatus, Kona da Crack Monster is back in da house, this time wit a baaaaad case a da spring feva, and we just couldn't take it any more. He needed to run today, regardless of how tender his widdle paws are.

He was remarkably good about letting me put the silly things on, although once, just to prove a point I'm sure, he reached down with incredible accuracy, gingerly pulled the velcro band off one, and handed it to me.

After we got them on I laid on the floor for a while, pinned down by my own hysterical laughter while he high-stepped circles around me.

Just to be safe we only did a quick spin around the neighborhood, me watching him obsessively to make sure he wasn't losing boots or twisting ankles. He had a great time, and the rubbery slap-slap-slap-slap of his booties on the pavement caught a lot of people's attention.

It's kind of nice to be the strange neighbors, the ones who bike with a bootie-wearing, tongue-lolling out, happy-as-a-clam ginormous dog, that make people laugh, smile and wave.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Moving Right Along

Thank your for registering for Crazylegs Classic 2007

Big thanks to Veeg and Lisa for the heads up on this event - it sounds incredibly cool, the distance and timing is perfect, and I can't wait. My first official race of the season, and my first 8K! Yay!

Is anyone else going to do this race? I'm looking at all the logistical parking nonsense and finding it a bit intimidating since I'll be traveling alone and am not terribly familiar with Madison. I'm not expecting anyone I know to be in the slow-poke wave with me (I estimated 70 minutes, hope that wasn't overly optimistic) but it would be nice to know if anyone will be there to drink a beer with afterwards.

Also... thanks for all the great planning advice - it was a huge help! This weekend I hope to put the finishing touches on The Master Plan.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Planning Impaired

I'm the Queen of Planning. I have routines, methods, lists and supplies. I name my mission, break down the steps, write it all out, create checklists and do routine status updates.

I admit it can be an irritating personality trait. But I've gotta say, I GET SHIT DONE. I have daily lists, weekly lists and long-term goal lists. And if I manage to accomplish something not on a list? I so totally add it just for the satisfaction of crossing it off.

Now that I'm all ready to jump into Official Training Mode, I'm floundering. The race gods wreaked such havoc on my oooooh-so-carefully scheduled season I'm no longer clear on how I need to go about planning for it.

The root cause of my distress is that the date of my half-marathon (August 12) falls smack into the middle of prime Olympic race scheduling. I'd planned on doing the Oly in August all along - there's a variety of options that month, and I felt that was long enough for me to prepare. I'm not sure I can be ready by July, and I feel strongly about not dragging my training season into September because work starts to get busy around then.

Now I've got two dilemmas:
1) When to schedule the Olympic to factor in both training peaks and recovery time for both the oly and the half.

2) How to train for both.

I'm begging for advice on #1.

For #2, I've got two theories and again, begging for input from more experienced racers.

Theory #1: I take a half-marathon training plan and an Olympic training plan, and combine them to replace the run workouts in the tri plan with the half-mary workouts.
My biggest concern with this is that a straight half-mary plan has me running 4 days a week, something I don't have time for.

Theory #2: I replace the run workouts from the Olympic training plan with run workouts from a Half-Ironman training plan.
My concern with this is a vague, unsettling feeling that I wouldn't actually be properly prepared for a half-marathon, or that this would be otherwise unbalanced in ways I do not yet understand.

Please help?! Any and all advice greatly appreciated. I've only got a couple of weeks of my current methodology (the not-so-highly-recommended Lazy and Random Pseudo Base Off Season Training Plan) before I need to officially kick off The Plan, whatever it turns out to be.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Taking Stock

1) OMG, I completely forgot that running outside is So. Much. HARDER.

2) At least I was able to run 1/3 my treadmill distance outside today - and this just the first try for the season. Last year, with the exception of my came-from-nowhere personal best at Thanksgiving, best I could muster outdoors was a dismal 1:4 ratio.

3) I know I've got work to do when I take the pokey, pudgy 9 year old dog along and even she gives me the total "aren't we gonna go any faster?" look.

4) At least I clocked a respectable 13:25 on that one mile. That's a great time for me.

5) There were moments I wasn't sure I'd make it the whole mile, but at the end of it I felt like I probably could have scraped out another half mile before completely falling apart.

Got my work cut out for me if I'm going to make a decent showing at the Crazy Legs 8K in 6 weeks!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Trial and Error

I'm a huge fan of The Dog Whisperer, and even though I'm a pretty experienced dog owner/handler/trainer I learn something new in every episode.

One thing he's demonstrated more than once is exercising big energetic dogs by running them beside you on a bike. I was initially really nervous about it because when I'm walking/running Kona the Crack Monster he's kind of all over the place, but Cesar explained that if you get them going fast enough (i.e. Siren doesn't run that fast), they get into what's essentially a 'traveling with the pack' mode and can't focus on anything but moving with you.

Today was so beautiful and Kona had such a raging case of spring fever I decided today was the day. My comfy hybrid bike is easy to ride and is completely upright with no shoulder pressure, so I felt justified in breaking the "no bike" rule.

Wonderful Husband tagged along on his bike just in case, but Kona took to it instantly and was clearly have a blast. Within about block he was galloping along looking happier than I've ever seen him.

We decided to keep it short, both in deference to his paws and the fact that he hasn't gotten too much cardio over the winter. He seemed to enjoy every minute, and we gave all the neighbors out enjoying the lovely spring evening something to laugh about.

Unfortunately, I got carried away and my version of keeping it short wasn't short enough. We rode less than 2 miles - and he's walked twice that with me in the past. But since running is much harder on the paws it wasn't nearly short enough and when we came into the house we quickly noticed his poor little feet were bleeding all over the place. I found about half a dozen raw spots on 3 paws. He was a great sport and stayed pretty still for us while we cleaned them up and taped tube socks onto them. They don't seem to bother him at all.

Ironically, had we not just run him 2 miles there's no way we'd have gotten him to sit still for the foot treatment. At least I knew what to do from my old vet tech days.

He doesn't seem to mind the socks at all and hasn't even tried to pull them off. He looks so silly sliding around the wood floor with the socks on his feet I can't stop laughing. Wonderful Husband isn't so amused, but since Kona's basically fine I consider it a lesson learned, and once he gets healed up I'll start building his paws up with short, slow outings so we can do this right. I also learned about some rubber doggy boots that are supposed to work well when the pavement's hot in the summer.

Even with the minor complication, I'm thrilled to have learned that a post-run Kona behaves like the sweet, wonderful dog I knew he was capable of being. Definitely motivation to get his feet in condition to keep running with the bike, because that's going to be the key to permanently separating Kona from his inner Crack Monster.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Home Safe

I want to thank everybody for the wonderful support - it's been a whirlwind and it feels like I've been gone a lot longer than 36 hours.

I'm happy to report that my sweet, wonderful Grandma managed to pull through this very dark episode. At least, so far... and while she is still with us, this was the big "things will never be the same" we've been dreading. It's to soon to know what will happen, or if she'll ever be able to go home, but if she does a lot of things in daily life will have to be adjusted to accommodate her new needs.

When they called me she had a horrible case of pneumonia, was struggling to breath, had a high fever, hadn't been able to eat or drink in a week, and had gone into congestive heart failure. She didn't have the strength to move or speak. My mom was nearly hysterical when she called to ask I come down.

When I arrived, Grandma was sitting up having her blood pressure taken and jokingly complaining that she's sick to death of ice chips and could someone please get her a pitcher of peach tea. It took about all the energy she had, to sit up for that short time, but at least she could do it.

She's far from ok, and she may never actually be able to eat solid food again. It's too soon to tell - when I left today she was able to get out of bed and sit in the chair for a while, the chest xrays showed the congestion was clearing up and they were talking about trying some chicken broth.

I usually plan my trips downstate with several weeks notice and dropping everything to go down there on a moment's notice was tough on me for lots of reasons. After spending some more time with her this morning and being convinced she was out of immediate danger, I decided to head back home today. My aunt gave me a really hard time about it and wanted me to stay several days, but I figured if I could get back here and get ahead on some work, if she takes a turn for the worse I'll be in a better position with my client load to travel for a few days.

That, and the fact that, 200 miles in the trip down, Wonderful Husband called to inform me that my suitcase was not, technically, in the car with me. (A detail the fault for which will give us something to bicker about for the next 40 years or so.)

Again, thank you so much for your kind words. Dealing with my family is painful and challenging at the best of times, and I hold the support of my sane friends dear to my heart.

ust because she was clearly out of danger, but because

Friday, March 09, 2007

Life Intervenes

I just got one of those "who on earth is calling at 6:45 am" calls.

The kind where, after the initial irritation at being woken up, you get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach because there's only a bare handful of reasons to call someone at that hour, and none of them are good.

Grandma's in the hospital. Again. But this time she's not expected to come out.

It started with aspiration pneumonia caused by a problem with her esophagus. She can't eat or drink, so got dehydrated. They gave her IV fluids for the dehydration and she went into congestive heart failure.

The surgical option to repair the esophagus would require a GI tube - a measure she declined in her DNR. And there's no guarantee she'd survive the surgery anyway.

My family has some very tough decisions to make. Because of the distance involved, mom is always saying "you don't have to come down," but I've been here before. Years of experience have taught me that she doesn't call me until things are at their worst and she is about to crack. In fact, Grandma's been in the hospital since Tuesday, and this is the first I've heard of it, when things are so bad I might not even have time to get down there before it's too late.

My aunt is an RN and has power of attorney, so it's really up to her, but mom and my other aunt have already reassured her they will not allow her to take that burden by herself. If that's what this is - deciding to turn off the machines - then damnit, I can at least stand there and hold my mom's hand while it happens.

So. Not so much with the training right now.

Instead, I'm packing a bag and getting in the car, grateful that my life is blessed enough I can drop everything to support my family when they need it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

All In

"Congratulations! You are registered for The LaSalle Bank Chicago Distance Classic."

Holy shit guys. I can't believe I just did that.

It's a New Day

When I started this journey in January of 2004 I didn't know where it would take me, only that I needed to get somewhere. I started from a place one can only call absurd: 270 pounds, daily migraines, nearly bedridden from crushing fatigue. But once I had a means to overcome it - newly diagnosed and life-changing prescription in hand - I was resolved to recover the real me through diet and exercise.

Frankly, it was a joke to call those first tentative steps on my broken old treadmill "exercise."

I stuck with it and it wasn't too long before I felt justified in claiming that I did, indeed, "exercise." And not long past that I felt comfortable saying "I work out." This internal dialogue - and external phrasing - changed about the time I decided to tackle a triathlon.

And psychologically, that's where I been ever since. That was almost 2 years ago.

Now, you may notice there's a word that's conspicuous in its absence: Training.

Of course, I toss it around in casual posting... but I always feel a twinge of guilt when I do. At least, for this audience. It's one thing to tell a civilian I train for triathlons... it's another to claim it among those who truly do the thing, and do it well.

Thus far, my version of training has meant indulging in ill-informed, self-planned, half-assed workouts that could be considered training only in the most abstract sense. Yes, I did the activities. And yes, I did them with increasing frequency and duration in order to be physically able to complete a race distance.

But to claim I have ever trained for an event would be the grossest of exaggerations.

And that was fine until now. Because honestly, my health and fitness level were coming from a place so hopeless that even the most moderate training plan was beyond my reach. I'd buy the books and magazines. I'd pore over the websites. And then I would close the book, throw out the magazine, close the browser. Because the Training - yes, capital T - proscribed by those resources was so far beyond my abilities I routinely questioned my sanity for even aspiring to race. Because if I can't even do the workouts... what on earth makes me think I can do the event?

I knew this was crazy. I accepted it. And I only chose races that accommodate those like me. I assumed this year would be more of the same - doing my best and quietly hoping nobody would notice I'm not doing any of the things we're supposed to do to truly prepare us for these events. Because I couldn't.


This time, when I read my new issue of Triathlete, I didn't skip over the Olympic training plan like I usually do to avoid being confronted with my inadequacies.

So I read it. And you know what? This time around, it doesn't look so bad.

This time around, I can do the things they're telling us to do. And even better, I understand the WHY - a crucial factor for me in any endeavor. I Get It. Base training and speed intervals and tempo training and key workouts and the whole gloriously fucked up complex mess - I GET IT!!

And even better: I. Can. Do. This.

My whole world is suddenly alive with possibility. I had the tools all along, but until now they'd been useless in my hands. Somehow, somewhere along this journey I acquired the skill to use them.

2007 isn't just a new season. It's a whole new world.

Let's race.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Open Letter to the Anonymous Runner

OK, I see you. You got me. I feel guilty. Now stop running by my window.

See, I'm not running outside because, um, it's 12 degrees. With 25 mph winds. Oh, and I just spent an hour clearing two-foot snowdrifts from the driveway.

Yeah, yeah. I know I should be out there too. I know I'm hoping to race in just four short weeks. I know I'm behind in my training.

But... did you not notice the part about 12 degrees and 25 mph winds?

Now go away. And stop making me feel guilty.


Today I am, apparently, a quiche-eating surrender monkey. (If you haven't yet read IM Able's Ugly Mudder race report - go now!)

Not only did I ignore the guilt trip courtesy of the Anonymous Runner and opt for warm and cozy in lieu of training today, I am now on my way to a wine tasting.

The irony might actually kill me.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Am I Crazy Or Is Everything Normally This Stupid?

I picked up a Windy City Sports yesterday so I could get right back on track with my race schedule after finding out the Shamrock Shuffle was closed.

I had NO IDEA it would be literally impossible to find another 8K race - not just in my time frame, but in general. It appears nobody's putting on 5 milers.

I did find out if I join CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) I might be able to get one of their reserved spots for the Shamrock Shuffle... but their website is can be really stupid (for example, a race listing doesn't necessarily tell you the date of the race or the start time), and I don't choose to associate myself with organizations that can't get their shit together that way. Plus, I don't want to pay membership dues for an organization I'm not interested in just to be able to get into a particular race.

I checked Windy City Sports online too, thinking the paper version probably wouldn't have the latest info. I was correct, but there's still no other 8K races.

Then I also started looking for another half marathon. Because I learned yesterday, while perusing the race calendars, that for whatever bizarre reason, the Chicago marathon is several weeks earlier this year than it used to be, which means they pushed back the Chicago Half Marathon several weeks earlier... to the same weekend as IMWI. That means my biggest goal race for the whole freaking year is blown out of the water too.

But I was taking it all in stride, thinking 'how hard can it be to find another half marathon? Fall is ideal marathon weather.'

Apparently, even harder than finding an 8K.

There are exactly 3 half-marathons in the time frame I'm looking at. And because someone has GOT to be asleep at the fucking wheel here... all three on the same fucking day... the same fucking day as Ironman Wisconsin!!!

After expanding my search I finally found ONE that's technically an option in late September... if I don't mind a 5 hour drive to northern Wisconsin. I wanted my first half to be a personal event and all - it's why I wanted to do Chicago - but if I'm travelling and getting hotels and needing to pay for freaking petsitters... I really don't want to do it for a half marathon in Podunk Wisconsin that I've never even heard of.

My carefully planned race schedule is a pathetic mess, with my first key race closed and my goal race blown out of the water. WTF?! I am not an idiot here - I based these choices on previous year's race calendars.

I'm at a loss. At this point, unless I go with traveling to Wisconsin (which I'll have just done 2 weeks prior for IMWI, so can't really afford) my options are to do one I saw available in June (which really doesn't work, because I've got a sprint that month and will be getting into the heart of my Oly training) or August (which really doesn't work because that's when I'm doing the Oly). Or, push it back to spring 2008, when a decent number of options are available. But I don't want to do one in the spring, when my health and training over the winter are always sub-optimal.

I really really really wanted to do the half this fall! It's when the timing works out for training, and it's when I'm personally prepared to do it. What the heck is wrong with people scheduling all the events of that distance on the same freaking day?!?!