Monday, July 31, 2006

Riding the waves....

Wow, it's been so long, I almost forgot my login and password.

These are turbulent times, indeed. I think even more than getting away, I just needed to realize that, and honor the fact that I'm going through a lot right now. Sometimes just being kind to ourselves is so, so hard.

I found a wonderful state park in MA, loaded the tent, my bike and a bunch of books. I left on Wednesday morning and had two days of peace, quiet and restitude. I got a ton of bug bites, read a LOT and journaled to my hearts content. I had a wonderful (but HARD) bike ride, sat through a thunderstorm in the car (after realizing that the tent window was open - oops!), and managed to find a shred of peace through it all. I cooked on my little stove, slept curled up with a favorite quilt and my teddy bear (yes), and remembered what it was like to dream.

Lucky for me, my retreat was extended through the weekend with an absolutely BEAUTIFUL ride in VT. A better day could not have been imagined. :)

So, I'm back. I'm regrouping a bit to focus on finishing, and my meeting with my advisor this morning, although no less abstract, gave me hope and a sense of impending success. And (smile), I have my A race this weekend. Boy, am I ready. I rode the course last week - piece of cake. Hills are my... well, you know. :)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Getting out of Dodge

Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts. I have made a decision.

Don't worry, I'm staying in grad school. I'll file the damn S.O.L. form and finish once and for all.

But in the meantime, I need a break. A real break. No mom, no responsibilites, no chemistry.

Fortuitously, I just found out that my boss is going to be out of town all of this upcoming week.

Soooo, I have found a campsite that has swimming, hiking, and great roads to bike on. I'll be there for 3 days of wonderful solitude. Time to think. Time to relax. Time to rejuvenate. Time to settle.

I'll take pictures. :)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


(If you are having a sunny Hump Day, PLEASE skip this post. It's uncharacteristically negative and depressing.)

WARNING: Meltdown Imminent

Why didn't I go into history? Orrrr, English? Something that doesn't have to WORK all of the time, something that won't suck the life out of you. Something that just IS.

Why didn't I leave here years ago when I realized it wasn't for me?

Why did I come to this weird department in the first place?


I want out sooooo badly. Now. I want to leave NOW. I honestly don't care what I would do, I just want to leave. I've spent 6 life-sucking years in this hell hole, I want to end it NOW. I hate science. HATE IT!!!!!!!!

I feel like just one more failure is going to put me over the edge. I have absolutely NO motivation to finish this beast. None, whatsoever.

I just want to do something that makes me feel fulfilled, like I'm good at something. Not this constant manic-depressive feeling. Up down Up down. Things work. They suck. Things work. They suck.

I'm tired of this journey. I want off.

Yesterday the secretary asked me if I had submitted my S.O.L. form. (I thought she was telling me a joke...) I looked at her quizically and said, "Um, I don't know what that is, but it doesn't sound good!"

Apparently, in this case, it stands for Statute of Limitations. She explained... Basically you get 6 years to complete your work. After that you have to file an extension to stay. You get a year.

These past few weeks have been tough. My mom (which is still an ongoing saga), some other pretty major things that I can't go into and now this. Something's gotta give.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Racing with the Kids

I decided to run my long(er) run yesterday so that this weekend wasn't too heinous. (It's going to be mid nineties here!) It was still wicked humid though! My HR was still pretty high, but I can only imagine it will be worse this weekend.

Anyway, I was just about to turn around, and for some reason instead of going to the other side of the street, I decided to stay on the same side for a minute (there are crazy bends in the road, and drivers were going very fast, for some reason). It's a good thing I didn't, since I almost got run over by a pint-sized peleton! I turn around and see the coolest thing. I see 3 bikers. Two little kids and a "bigger" kid in full out bike gear on on a suweet Giant bike. It was too cute, they were all racing!! I laughed out loud, caught the bigger kid's eye... boy, those kids were giving him a run for his money (but I think he was letting them). Too cute! Reminded me of the time a few weeks ago when a little guy decided to race me at the end of my ride... I let 'im win, of course (dude, I was tired anyway!).

THAT's what it's all about.

Happy (cool) weekends to you all!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Pics from Fairlee


What does your bedside table look like?

My crazy bike rack and transition area - I'm 106...

The freakishly long swim... See the orange dots? Yeah... It was LONG!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

RR: Tough Day at the Races

Fairlee Great Triathlon
July 9, 2006, 8am
High: 89, Sunny, HOT

Swim: .75 mi
Bike: 17 mi (had been shortened from 24 due to road conditions)
Run: 5 mi

Tough Day at the Races (R rated)

Everything doesn’t always come together on race day. When that happens, it sucks. Big time. This was supposed to be my first near Olympic distance tri, so when they shortened the bike I was pretty disappointed. I would come to see what a blessing that was in short order, though. So, for now, this is my first sprint-plus.

I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to cry during this race. I think I was carrying around the baggage from the previous week (unhealthy parent). I had a feeling that was going to be a problem, but there really wasn’t anything I could do about it.

Friday, Jo and I drove two hours up to Fairlee to meet our friend Spence (who had kindly hosted us for a practice bike ride a few weeks before). She and a bunch of friends were also doing the race, and she had planned a pasta dinner. It was a great time, and good to log some familiar faces to see the next day.

Today dawns a beautiful day. Foggy at first, blue skies quickly burn through. Note to self: be anal about sunscreen. We get to transition without mishap and start to take notice of our surroundings. I’m feeling a bit disjointed and disorganized (this MIGHT have been due to the fact that I was packing during the Tour on Saturday…). I find my already packed bike rack. Uh… This is going to be interesting. With a little finagling, we all manage to get our bikes on and everything right as rain.

I get body marked, fight with the wetsuit and head down to the lake to check out the swim. Ugh. It looks LONG. We swim around a bit to warm up and head back to the beach for the rather long announcements about the new bike course (out and back, with a turnaround in a parking lot…. Sounds interesting, but I’m more concerned about the swim.).

Without further ado, the first swim wave starts. Then we start. Freaking people are FLYING. While I purposely started in the back of the pack, I am now the LAST swimmer by quite a bit. Ugh. Fine. My plan is to simply survive this long sucker. Just get to the first buoy. Then the second. Then the third. I get to the first buoy. That wasn’t so bad, I think.

Until wave 3 passes me. And then wave 4. I mean, I’m moving, aren’t I? I start to get frustrated. Why am I doing this? Why do I suck so bad? Why can’t I be faster? Is this ANOTHER wave? Am I going to be the last out of this damn milfoil infested lake? How could I ever even think about doing a longer race? I must have been out of my mind.

With every single one of these thoughts and the impending meltdown, I reign my emotions back in. It’s a constant tug of war: You suck. No you don’t. Yes you do! No you DON’T. I did take comfort in the fact that I was at least willing to fight with my psyche, but it made me nervous for the rest of the race. I already knew that I was on shaky ground, and judging from the massive amount of bike porn and crazy ppl riding the course the day before, it wasn’t going to get any easier on the old ego.

Finally I round the last buoy, and make it to the end. Freaking 33 minutes for a .75 mi swim? I don’t think so! My .5 mi swim (also long, I’m pretty sure!) was 18 min. So, let’s do some math: (all of this while getting started on the bike). Say each bit is 11 minutes, that would mean that my .5 mi swim time would be 22 minutes. I feel slightly better after that. I don’t think I could have been that far off pace.

I settle in on the bike. Aero most of the way. Things feel pretty good. Climb a hill, grab a gel, back in aero. My bike computer decides to play nice today and I am seeing speeds of 18, 19, and 20 mph on the flats. Hills aren’t sucking so much, but I’m getting passed like it’s nobody’s business. (All of the waves had been labeled as letters. I was in C wave, and getting passed by D, E, and F like I was standing still.) It’s my race. It’s my race.

I go down an 8% grade, turn around in a dinky parking lot, go over this massive lump in the road, and head BACK UP this hill. I keep telling myself it’s short, and I’m in the right gear. Good cadence. Yippy skippy.

I go a bunch more and then head up the last hill (which I had forgotten about, actually). Some lady passes me (again) and reads my mind…. She says what I was thinking, not out of breath, just like La la la, here we are on this fun hill, not even working hard. In my head (because I can’t currently talk), I think, Thanks Lady, I’ll yell something at your back when you’re bombing down the other side! (She had my same shoes –weird that happens every race- and we had a nice back and forth going.) I finally get my breath back and say, “Yeah, I forgot about it too!” She says (to my chagrin), “Yeah, but I have this cheater ring here (granny gear).” God bless her, she was trying to make me feel better. Me: “Erm, yeah so do I,” as I watch her fly away.

I crest the hill and go to shift into my middle ring. I thought I had it (it’s been working perfectly since I got the new derailleur on the front) until I hear that sickening “chink.” Eff. Get off the bike. Wizz. Wizz. Wizz. (Disc wheels going by.) Chain back on. Get back on bike. Try to shift again. CHINK. EFF. Damn it! Get off the bike. People passing me ask me if I’m okay. I’m frustrated. I get it back on. Go to clip in. Can’t. I take a deep breath, wait a minute and I manage it finally. Okay, here we go.

One more time..... CHINK!!!!! “Goddamnsonofabitchcocksuckingmotherfucking (hey I rhyme) pieceofshit BIKE!”

I’m pissed (Where, oh where, is my master of the obvious badge?). I’m beyond angry. It seems like 100 bikes have passed me now, and I was doing so well. I pretty much yank the chain back on, curse a few more times, and get back on angrily. I have more trouble clipping in, surprise, surprise. Finally I get going. I throw a small temper tantrum, and bomb down a hill going 28 mph in my first chain ring with a cadence of 1000 rpm. I realize that I’m wasting precious energy with this behavior, but this whole day has SUCKED. Finally, I shove my shifter hard and I hear and feel the m-effing chain catch the second chain ring. I go up one more. I’ve had it. Get this done.

I’m on the last road about 1.5 mi from the transition, zooming along when some old dude in a red car decides to not watch where he’s going. The volunteer is screaming at him, I’m yelling and trying to signal with my arm, and it’s just total mayhem. The volunteer tells me (very nicely) to go to the left (so the middle of the road), and screams at the driver to go right, but this car is speeding up and I can’t go because I’ll get hit. I finally get over, and I hear this (very hot) volunteer absolutely go off on the guy. Whew, that was close. (I don’t really blame the driver too much, as it was confusing… It was just very unnerving too…)

I zoom into T2 with my hair on fire and no place to rack my bike.

F$CK! I wrestle for a minute with the bikes and finally get it up there. At this point, I’ve so thoroughly had it, I’m thinking: “I need a coach. Now. I’m tired of being slow. I’m tired of racking my bike LAST. I’m tired of not getting food. I’m tired of getting swum over.” (That English isn’t right, but I don’t care.) And worse: I’m not having fun. The swim was slow and long, the bike sucked donkey balls, and I just saw my life flash in front of my eyes… twice!

I get my running shoes on, grab new glasses and get going on the beautiful run around the lake. I tell myself to enjoy this. It’s a beautiful day. Forget that you are racing. Forget about the swim and the bike. Forget that there is NO ONE around for seeming miles. Forget that thought that you will be last. Forget that you just saw someone with an ‘I’ on their leg pass you, and you just said: “I’s suck.” (Say it a few times, you’ll get it.)

I manage to enjoy the run, and I’m actually surprised at my run splits, given how I wasted energy and time with my outburst, and that I pretty much trashed my legs on the last couple of miles of the bike. I’m still pretty grumpy as I round the bend for the last .25 mi and I get a huge burst of speed as I cross the finish to the yells of my new and old friends.

Swim: 33:23
T1: 3:15
Bike: 1:03:01
T2: 2:43
Run: 51:54
Total: 2:34:18

Huge lessons learned:
Bad things:

I had not yet recovered from the previous very stressful week. I did go into this race with reduced expectations because of that, but I still found myself frustrated with my lack of skill compared to those around me.

It was probably a huge mistake (as usual) to compare myself to most of those around me, as this was one of the most tricked out races I’ve ever been to. I probably should have taken that into account.

It was useless to waste time in a temper tantrum. It didn’t make me feel any better (although I was briefly impressed with my rhyming skills.) Calm rules the day.

Nutrition was iffy. I had one gel on the entire course and about 2/3 of a bottle of Power Bar Endurance Formula. Probably should have finished the bottle and had a gel at the beginning of the run.

I forgot to have fun for a while there.

Good things:

I made it through the swim. I didn’t quit. And it was long. I don’t care what anyone says.

I made it through the bike with pretty decent speed. And, although I got angry, at least I didn’t weep.

I never ever broke down during the race, although I really wanted to. Somehow, I managed to mostly keep it together.

I realized that I really hate sucking, and that if it’s the day that’s sucking, life will go on. There will be more races.

(It didn’t rain!)

I remembered to have fun on the run.

I have great friends. Once again, Spence was a wonderful host, opening her home to us for much needed showers and food. Jo was awesome as usual, basically letting me just let go after the race. I needed that. Somehow we made it home, singing “I will survive” (how appropriate) and talking race strategies. That was more therapeutic than anything.

Friday, July 07, 2006

This weekend

Focusing now...

This weekend was supposed to be my first oly. Well, the bike course most likely will be shortened, which will probably be a good thing (it's going to be H-O-T). And, as Sheila pointed out, now I can go FASTER on the bike.

So, Spence laid out her plan, I guess I should get my head in the game and do the same.

Swim: Once again - I am a calm swimmer. Especially through that nasty (milfoil) shit. Strong and slow and smooth. It will be my first .75 mi swim (in a race), so I'll just stay focused and calm.

T1: It would be super nice if my transition time didn't appear as though I stopped for a makeover. The wetsuit is still giving me issues, but I'm hoping that I'll have more of a system down, due to lots of practice.

Bike: Well, now I don't really know what the bike is like anymore, but it's less steep now, so I can probably put the hammer down on most parts. Nutrition will consist of a bottle of Power Bar Endurance formula and a gel or two. High cadence, like Spence said, and focus on going 2 notches less then all out.

T2: Easy. Don't step on sunglasses. Small steps. Take a gel for the run, just in case.

Run: Relax for first mile. Just get in the groove. Don't worry about the split. Miles 2-3 ramp up. Miles 4-5 - Let it all hang out. Pedal to the Metal.

Phew, that's better!

Above all, I'm going to have FUN!

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Why I Tri

Any other reason I've stated before is minimal. Somehow they don't seem to matter anymore. There is only one reason now that makes any difference at all.

I spent this past week at home, getting the house ready for my mom, who was returning from Montana, after volunteering a month with the Blackfeet Indians near Glacier National Park. She works so hard while she's out there, and I love getting the house spick and span for her... Buying groceries, picking up the cats.

She came home on Saturday (thankfully, I had the time to clean up the soaked basement, whip the overgrown gardens into shape, and convince the kitties that mommy was coming back.). She had a horrible headache (major neck problems), tendonitis in her arm, and was still recovering from a GI problem she contracted while in MT. In short, she was a wreck.

Of course all of this was making her more finnicky than usual. I'm sure it's understandable, but when *I* had to open her package of cigarettes because of her arm, I lost it. I can see the future here, folks. Arthritic and aching, my poor mother is going to be in a bed before she knows it. There's not much more that can be done for her neck short of a very invasive surgery (which they are contemplating now). She eats horribly, suffers from horrible headaches often, and has severe arthritis.

I don't blame my mom for these problems. Life has been difficult on my poor mom, and honestly, I think these are just some of the burdens that she still carries with her. It pains me when she's in pain. I wish I could take the pain away. I wish it would affect me instead. It tears me up inside. What makes all of this worse is that she's utterly alone. No SO, no really close friend. Part of me thinks that she drives people away because she doesn't want them to be close to her pain.

But, what really gets me is that she makes these really horrible decisions. She smokes. She eats horribly. She doesn't exercise.... She's the poster child for osteoperosis.

So when faced with opening those cigarettes, I cried. I told her that I was worried about her. That I was afraid that before too long she wouldn't be able to do simple things for herself. That she was making all of these problems WORSE by smoking and not taking proper care of herself.

I've never given her any grief before about smoking. Never. Mainly because I know that when people pressure me about anything, it only makes me want to do it more. But, I've had it. Really and truely. I want my mom to be around for as long as possible. She's only 53, for goodness sake, but she's an old 53. Just in the past 2 years or so, I've seen her muscle tone go to almost nothing. She looks... old.

It was a tough week. What I thought was going to be fun and relaxing turned into a week full of driving my mom around, going to doctors (to get a horribly painful shot), in short doing almost everything for her (including washing her at times). I stayed an extra day because she couldn't yet drive. It was terrible to leave, but I know I did the best and the most that I could.

Why do I swim, bike, and run? Why do I eat so well? Why do I not smoke or drink caffeine or alcohol? WHY!?

She doesn't understand why. We were talking about my upcoming birthday recently, and I sent her a list of triathlon-related things that I would love, complete with direct links and descriptions. I explained to her over and over that they were just ideas, and if she didn't want to get me those things, it was okay. But when we were talking about it, she told me she didn't understand any of it. She didn't know what a jersey was, and didn't seem to care to know.

I felt like she didn't want to accept part of me, but deep down I think she wishes that she could do some of this stuff, and is sad that she can't. I've tried to help her. I got her weights and a mat for Christmas 3 years ago. I haven't seen them move since, and the mat is still in the packaging. The next year I got her a pedometer. I have no idea what happened to that. You can lead a deer to water.... But you cannot control the actions of another person. She has to make her own decisions. I just hope that someday she realizes that her decisions affect me as well.

In the end I opened the cigarettes and left the room. And cried some more.

Right now I'm going for a bike ride. You know why.