Thursday, December 31, 2009

Toronto Ink


Over the past year or so I've been waffling on the whole Ironman tattoo issue. Alex was always very certain that he would get the M Dot on his right (passing) calf. I started out also certain that I would bear the mark of my journey for all to see as I passed them in races. Gradually, however, I began to change my mind.

In a way my decision process on this has mirrored my triathlon and fitness journey. There is no doubt in my mind that when I started I was not necessarily doing all this for myself, as much as to reach some very tangible goals that would be apparent to people who, in my life, had been too dismissive of my abilities. I wanted to get fit for sure, I remembered what that had felt like when I was in my twenties and really missed the easy physicality of walking for hours, lifting heavy things, and even just dancing at a wedding. Fitness is freedom and as I became less fit I got stuck in a smaller and smaller box of what I could do on a daily basis. I'm not much for boxes.

The funny thing is, the ones who I wanted to watch, well, they weren't looking. The journey then became a struggle to let them go from my life and fill the void that was left once their criticism was gone. That was hard. Those holes were accustomed to being filled with negativity and disdain and I found myself filling them back up that way. Especially during swim starts. But negativity and disdain weigh an awful lot and that all just made me sink in the water and lag behind on the bike and run. I always thought I was outrunning my demons but, in actuality, I was carrying them with me.

If Ironman was going to happen, well, I had to get lighter and freer and the engine for the journey had to be me.

The next stage involved anything and everything to banish anxiety from my life - no caffeine, 12 weeks of therapy, no speaking to others before races... But, I missed chocolate and pre-race camaraderie; I liked my therapist very much but it cut into training time.

It worked, however, I could get through swim portions with a mixture of backstroke and freestyle with a relatively happy brain. It was great to get out of the water with the majority of racers rather than at the back of the back of the pack. Races were much less lonely.

Still, however, it was a little bit about externalities. I hadn't yet totally finished the journey to training and racing just for me.

This past summer, however, Ironman training took me to that place. These races are selfish. When you are training you are completely self involved with how the workout is going, what you've been eating, how much sleep you are getting. Even doing the sessions with Alex I will say that we were by and large in our own worlds. Spending so much time in my own head, watching my own progress gave me a good look at my strengths and a real appreciation for my tenacity.

Which brings me back to the tattoo. By the summer I knew I wasn't going to get one. I didn't need to. The journey was mine, the glory was mine, the satisfaction was entirely for myself. When I crossed that finish line I knew then that there was nothing I could ever not handle. No tattoo, nothing external for other's consumption was required.

So, five weeks later, why am I getting a shoulder M Dot? It was actually something Alex had said a couple weeks ago. We had gone out for dinner and the waitress had this very beautiful cherry blossom tattoo on her forearm. Alex had asked where she got it as he had reached a significant life goal and wanted a tattoo to commemorate it.

I've been mulling that over the past few weeks and realize that the idea of a tattoo to remind me of where I came from and how far I went is perfect. It's not something that I will ever regret - I will never regret Ironman Arizona, nor Ironmans still to come. My right shoulder will always remind me of what I can accomplish, and of the lifestyle I want for the rest of my life. If anyone asks what it is I will tell them and hopefully pass on a vision of life as one only of potential not of limitation.

And, as lovely as the cherry blossoms were they didn't commemorate anything other than a love of cherry blossoms, tattoo as art form only. If you want to permanently mark your body with art, well, art is fundamental to humanity so I really can't fault that in the least but, when I'm old, getting my diapers changed I rather tell whoever is doing that that the symbol on my shoulder represents a life long journey to fitness and mental health than to say that one summer, I really was into cherry blossoms.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Shiny medals and participation ribbons

When I was young it was found that a 60 year old Swede was in better shape than a 30 year old Canadian and the powers that be decided to take that out on the kids. As a young, pudgy, unathletic, un-coordinated and very much uninterested girl this was a horror to me. Generally I wanted to live in the woods somewhere, adult free and subsisting on bologna sandwiches and Pop Shoppe black cherry pop when I wasn't trapping my own food and foraging for things to round out the meal. I really just wanted everyone, adults and children, to just go away so I could figure the world out on my own. But I digress...

So, standardized fitness testing came to my small town. I failed. Unless you are dead and buried you really shouldn't fail a fitness test. There is something you can do if only to wash yourself with a rag on a stick; that should rate somewhere on the scale, but, clearly they were up for higher standards. Our very sweet teacher had made ribbons for all the kids who didn't get a bronze, silver or gold level reward. I hated those ribbons. I know she was just trying to have something for us but to me, those were loser ribbons. Given the choice between being a loser with a keepsake or without a keepsake I wanted to remain ribbon free. I didn't think my mediocrity was anything to celebrate.

So, begs the question - what about all those medals now piling up in our third floor "workout room" - what do they mean to me. I had to get to the half iron level to get a triathlon medal. It was smaller than the medal I got for my first 10k. That half iron medal meant the world to me; the 10k I took to be polite.

In the end, I suppose, if civilization as we know it falls apart, Alex and I have a pretty good supply of weapons. Those Sporting Life 10k medals would really hurt.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Things I am unable to do right now

1.Drink fizzy water with snorting it up my nose.
2.Eat a hamburger without the bun getting stuck in the pit under my tongue.
3. Walk through a revolving door without tripping.
4. Walk over a railway overpass without whining about how tired I am.

Monday, November 30, 2009

THUD

That's the sound of post-Ironman depression. Woke up with a stiff neck that hasn't loosened up and the day has progressed to encompass a ridiculous tit for tat at work that I've been dragged into, I'm trying to cut out those extra training calories from my diet and I'm starving, and I'm just left thinking that my time was too slow, that Alex, Esther and Zdenka had their own party around the 14 hour mark and I was too slow to attend. I feel like I'm reliving the loneliness of that last lap again.

This is just not acceptable - I was so privileged to be able to have a body that I could take around and around that course.

Back to the rest of my life

The recovery continues, I'm tired for sure but mostly I'm a little bored to not be training. I got used to a regimented life - every day, every week, every month I knew what I was going to be doing. It's good to get away from that and I need to understand that 2 naps, Wii playing and minimal housework this weekend is quite acceptable. Alex and I will be doing Arizona again in 2 or 3 years. We loved the area and want to test ourselves against the same course again. I know that with greater fitness and a tri bike I should be able to get some time back. If I can get through with out GI issues that should be an hour better.

I'm going to keep thinking about adult onset athleticism so keep looking for posts. Big Clyde has me thinking about medals and trophies and the role they play in childhood and now in my triathlon life. I'll get back to you on that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Postcript: In which I answer Ironman

Sunday, while Alex and I were racing, Stella was preparing to be born and Mike was preparing to die. The two of them haunted my thoughts all day. Mike's death was incredibly unfair, an avid outdoors man, athlete, teacher struck down by cancer almost before he and his family could absorb the situation. Stella's birth, the first grandchild on both sides - another girl/woman born into a family of legendary, strong, independent women. Coming in and going out.

What did an artificial event set up for privileged, pampered humans matter really in the end? But there you see was my answer for Ironman. Why did I deserve that medal, those bragging rights? I got the medal for embracing life as Stella embraced her life with her first breath, as Mike embraced his everyday that he taught, parented, canoed, and kayaked.

I've come to believe that the very essence of our humanness is found with endurance sports. They are seemingly solitary, self absorbed pursuits but those of us who take that route to life know, perhaps more than others, that we are a team out there. We are all Iron, those who swam, biked and ran, and those who encouraged and supported.

Please take your life and use it up, wear it out, get blisters, chafe and sunburns. If you choose triathlon, and I hope you do, I wish you well on that journey. You will take on a lifestyle that is unparalleled. Either way, drop me a line, tell me your story.

Episode 3: In which I roam the streets of Tempe looking to score some coke

Right, run next. Getting tired just thinking about it but that might be the first full meal that I’ve been able to eat in a few days combined with “champagne” and wine. Oh yeah, and it’s been a couple weeks since I’ve slept through the night. People, I’ve said it before and I’ll say again, it’s not normal, it’s not sane, it’s probably not healthy. But you’re waiting to hear what it’s like to run a marathon after a 180 k ride and a 4000 metre swim.

IT.WAS.FANTASTIC. for a bit. Then it sucked, it sucked so much my Dyson bowed down to the sheer suckage of it all, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Second dresser was no Gwen but I managed to get changed, pockets loaded with sugar and set out into the setting Arizona sun. My plan was to walk 100 steps and run 100 steps. The plan worked brilliantly. I felt strong, powerful, dare I say, iron-liscious as I set out on the first of 3 loops around Tempe Town Lake. It is a crazy weird rambling route and I’m still now sure how it worked even having run it 3 times so, for those who also attained Iron status on Sunday, bear with me as the chronology might be off. I doubt you guys knew what you were doing too. Things I remembered from the first two loops:

1. Janus charities had sponsored a tent for spectators to make signs for their athletes. Anita and Andreja made the best sign for Alex and I and I spotted that on my second time past. I saw so many signs with so much love and support that I found myself slowing to read them all.

2. Any race with a pirate aid station, (pirates direct from Tuscon) a Wizard of Oz theme station, a western theme aid station, complete with mock saloon store fronts and Johnny Cash on the sound system, is pretty much all right with me.

3. The Jon Blazeman foundation had a station. Jon died of ALS but not before he completed an Ironman, with swim fins strapped to his hands as he had no longer any control over them and rode his bike barely able to change gears or brake. The next year he was in a wheelchair watching. That was his last Ironman. Every time I saw them it put it all in perspective.

4. There are a billion bridges over Tempe Town Lake and I was never sure which one I was one.

5. I can’t go from metric to imperial without losing my mind.

6. Seeing Anita, Andreja, Faith and Sedona on the run meant more to me than I can ever express.

7. There is a very bitter 7 time Ironwoman out there – she’s lucky he dumped her for that 27 year old and I’m glad she’s still in touch with the step-kids, they sound great.

So that takes me 2/3 of the way through the marathon.

As I passed the finish chute heading out to lap 3 I distinctly remember looking back at it and imprinting that image on my mind. I wanted that chute so badly. I had, I figured 2 hours to get back to it taking me to 16 hours. Not fast but within the 17 hour time limit.

The last lap for back of the packers like me is lonely and dark. Unbelievably there are still people out cheering you on, and, as it was 9 pm some of the university students were out wandering the streets looking for whatever it was we looked for back then. I was still feeling wonderful and thinking that I’d switch it up to 200 paces run/100 walk somewhere around the lap half way mark. That might allow me to make my goal of a sub 16 hour Ironman.

About 1 mile into the race you come across a fantastic aid station with massage tables. 500 metres or so before that I came across my Iron challenge. Standing on the sidewalk on a dark stretch of Tempe my gut exploded with cramping the likes of which I haven’t experienced since my wedding day. (great story there, if you’re not the bride or groom).

Now, it get’s graphic – look away if you want but this is the reality of pushing your body to the limit.

I stood there clenched, sweating, desperate. I had to make the aid station but I wasn’t sure if I could walk. We had been warned about public urination etc. at the race meeting. Tempe is beautifully clean and wants to keep itself that way. I had to make an aid station for the sake of all that is holy and beautiful in Arizona.

Something got me that 500 metres to that lovely, now mostly deserted aid station. Porta potties were right at the edge. Oh sweet sweet porta potty. We need not go into details. I had a small container of Vasoline in my pocket to speed my journey but I was starting to worry about how it was all going to hold up.

I grabbed some chicken broth and coke – I did not dare any food at this point. I had 3 hours to make the cut off and those 180 minutes suddenly weighted heavy on me. Regardless of GI issues I was still feeling strong when running. This was still doable.

What wasn't doable was a 17 hour finish for the ones just going out. I had no idea what to say to them. I as counting to 100 over and over again as I ran/walked, raced my plan. I could see my shadow as I went and I knew I was listing to the left and suspected I may have been foaming at the mouth. People yelled encouragement and I tried to wave my left hand to acknowledge the gift. I had no encouragement for the others.

As I ran/walked on the chaffing quickly became unbearable. I can’t even begin to describe it but next time a baby cries from diaper rash, he/she has my full sympathy - and baby isn’t running a marathon. The race became an agonizing trip from aid station to aid station looking for vasoline. I still don’t know where the vasoline went and I’m worried that it might suddenly reappear. I am a vasoline sponge.

The whole imperial measurements thing was confusing the hell out of me – I had no idea where I was and everyone who told me I had X miles and X minutes until midnight was, in my deluded mind, liars. I had no idea if I could walk it in with 2 miles to go and one hour – I had no idea what a mile was. The pirates were drinking beer and eating hamburgers.

My low point came about 2 miles, or 2 km from the end. I have no idea what time it was, I’m not even sure where I was but I was crying to a wonderful grandmotherly woman who led me to the porta potty and left the jar just outside the door. I was certain I couldn’t make it, they were certain I could.

Actually, I thought that was the low point. It wasn’t. The low point came just a little later when one of the many blisters that had formed on my feet broke. I could hear the finish line. I was broken, battered and so determined to get there that I thought about crawling the rest of the way. Sheer force of will somehow got me down the path and around the corner. At one point I could hear the finish line, hear Mike Reilly announce Ironmen in and I stopped and just took the moment in. Then I started to sprint and I rounded the corner and saw the lights and the hands reaching out to slap mine and I ran screaming “yeah, yeah, yeah” slapped hands, heard Mike say “Susan, you are an Ironman” and, best sight of all of the day, saw Alex wearing that damned grey sweater with the hood over his head. He was waving and came over and gave me the hug of a lifetime.

Episode two: In which I pick pieces of Tempe Town Lake out of my teeth

So, right, off to the bike. Like most sane, rational would be Ironmen , this was the part I was most looking forward to. Only a freak would enjoy the swim and anyone looking forward to a marathon (I’m talking to you Molly) well, they are in serious need of some mental examination. Since getting my beautiful Doris Day last spring I’ve been really enjoying riding a bike again. Doris was preceeded by The Gold Child, a fine bike but a bike that never fit me properly. Doris is female specific, I am female, Doris is short, I am short, Doris is white, I am white… perhaps that’s reaching.

So, as I was saying, the bike was going to be my time to get nutrition and liquid into me, to enjoy the desert, to think about all the wonderful people and experiences that got me to this point.

Alex and I, along with never getting into Tempe Town Lake, also never got a chance to check out the bike course. It’s a 3 loop that runs into town and out into the desert on a highway with pavement like buttah. Arizona doesn’t get frost heaved roads. We love Arizona pavement.

I’m heading into the wind, staying in my little girl gear on the front, spinning at 90 RPMs cursing the wind but absolutely stoked that I’m on the bike, racing an Ironman. I feel great. A fellow competitor summed it up perfectly as she rode by me and said “isn’t this amazing”.

It was tough going into the head wind but I was thinking about the ride coming back down after the turn around. Coming back down also gave me a better look at the length of the false flat I had come back on. This was fun, I was in the drops and remembered to shout “weeeee” at one point.

The only annoyance was the groups of drafting athletes moving through the race course. I honestly don’t understand why I was passed on so many occasions by riders moving as a pack but I never saw more than one athlete in the penalty tent. If you showed up with your buddies, drafted off them and qualified for Kona then I hope some Hawaiian god gets wind of your cheating and smites you well and good.

Otherwise the first 2 laps were a joy. Riders passed energy and encouragement back and forth. My bib was on back with my name on it and it was wonderful to hear someone take the time to use my name and wish me well as they passed me. There are some great riders out there and I’ll tell you when ever some young (good looking) athletic (good looking) probably type A took the time to speak to me I found myself just a little lighter on the pedals.

One aid station was manned/womaned by young fit people and I’d like to thank the topless men wearing hula skirts. One seemed to be only wearing a leaf of some sort but, damn, I was moving too fast to really assess the situation.

The only problem I had run into at this point was asthma. I don’t generally get asthmatic on a ride, and only notice it once I finish a run or a race but starting on the 2nd lap I found myself choking and coughing when I tried to speak to volunteers. I wasn’t too worried as I didn’t want to get my heart rate and respiration up to a point of deep breathing but it worried me enough that I started on my puffer. I’m not sure if I overused it (probably), if the Cliff bar I got from special needs was a bad idea (maybe) or if my body just decided that it wasn’t happy with the situation but my stomach rebelled and blew up into a good big distended organ. Rule number two was “don’t puke” but there were times heading up for the third lap when I thought I was going to pull a Norman and give it a go on the bike.

I started to head from aid station to aid station looking forward to the run so I could stand up like a proper homo sapien and let all my organs find their proper place. I struggled to get into the drops to make the most of aerodynamics on the final head down the highway back to transition.

Episode one: In which I nearly drown

The swim is the part of triathlon that always seems to freak people out. Those people are on to something, the swim is horrible. You are encased in a wetsuit that when you are starting out feels like a coffin but then after a few races, starts to feel like your savior. People are peeing in the water all around you in an attempt to warm up their bodies. When the horn goes you know you are going to get jostled, maybe kicked, you will be groped. It’s really a very stupid idea.

I’ve never seen an Ironman swim live; I’ve just been in one. I know that it’s a fantastic scene as the water itself seems to take on a life of its own as it moves forward. I would love to have seen the Arizona start from the bridge above the lake but I have to say it was pretty cool down on the water too.

To get to the swim start all 2500 competitors had to first be channeled through the swim start entrance and then mass on the sidewalk that runs along the lake. Gradually everyone gets pushed to the water’s edge were we were all admonished to not hesitate and just get in. Alex and I hadn’t participated in either of the swims that were held as we thought that would actually give us concrete proof of how cold the water was and therefore leave us with something to really worry about.

In a word – cold, too cold for 4000 metres.

The swim start was about 200 metres away and I flipped onto my back to do the backstroke to the start. My plan was to start in the centre towards the back and I thought that that I could hover by one of the bridge piers to wait out the 15 minutes or so until it all began. I was feeling great. My mind had been so calm the past couple days and I was pretty sure that the day was going to be everything I had wanted it to be. First Ironman, what did I know.

I ended up hanging off a kayak with a few others talking to one of the lifeguards as we waited. The atmosphere was so positive, so festive, I’ll admit, I teared up in my goggles. The choice of ACDC’s “For those about to rock, we salute you” blaring out of the sound system struck me as perfect. The American national anthem started and I was surprised that everyone around didn’t start singing it. Americans are so gloriously patriotic I was certain this would be a big moment for them. I know that if I ever do Ironman Canada I will be sobbing through the anthem. As it was I was pretty choked up for someone else’s. Then, for the last part suddenly everyone around me started singing and the energy surged, the horn/cannon/gong, something went and we were off.

I started out doing back stroke cursing the cold water, singing 99 bottles of beer. The plan was to get through all 99 bottles and then alternate backstroke with crawl every 10 bottles. That was the first plan that crashed and burned in the reality of Ironman. I could not keep my head in the water, it was just too cold. Backstroke also gave me a wonderful view of the race. The race site is directly under the flight path of the airport and a plane went over every minute or so. There was a helicopter hovering, I could easily turn my head and see all the spectators on the sidewalk around the lake. A group walked as we swam, keeping pace, holding signs. It was incredible. The plan to freestyle went out the window.

I sighted off the bridge and buoys behind me pausing occasionally to stare into the rising sun trying to get sight of the red, turnaround buoy. In driving beside the lake the buoy appeared to be just past the second bridge. From water’s level, NOT SO MUCH. I was starting to get rather angry at the buoy – my love for the colour red was waning, I started to worry about finishing the race. My emotions kept flipping from absolute desperation to unbelievable joy. Generally the odd number bottles of beer were happy, even bottles mocked my efforts. 20 bottles of beer, oh my god, what was I thinking I can’t do this, 19 bottles of beer and I was finishing in 15 hours easily. It was that fast. I’m pretty sure that people have been committed to mental health facilities with more stable emotions than I was experiencing during that swim.

The great part about my number three rule for the day (don’t stop), is that eventually you get there. The red buoy appeared I turned directly left, swam to the next red buoy, turned left again back to the bridge where it all started.

That was my 2000 metres, the longest open water swim I had yet done. My body was great for 2000, the next half started to become a struggle.

Did I mention that it was cold? My feet were numb, odd number bottles weren’t giving me any love and I stopped several times to find shoreline landmarks to concentrate on. Swim to that set of stairs into the lake, good, now to the light pole, guy in blue volunteer shirt, next guy and so on. I started to feel the water slip over my head (remember I’m on my back), took in some too many times, spoke to a few kayak lifeguards as I got my bearings and just kept swimming.

I started to understand how people drowned. It did cross my mind a few times for the first time ever. My panic attacks in the past never actually focused on anything that concrete – it was always just an overwhelming need to get out of the wetsuit, out of the water, out of the race. This was a very rationale, intellectual mental journey. The cold was sapping my strength and it became difficult to keep my mouth and nose up out of the water. I was very close to kayaks the whole time and I don’t think anyone has drowned at an Ironman without a heart attack preceding it but, wow, that was a dark place to go.

Happily, just keeping swimming got me back to the start, back to the future, back to the rest of the race.

I expected some disorientation when I came out of the water, I had swum the race distance a couple times already in a pool and it does take a moment to get your land legs back. That, however, was in a warmer pool with a much shorter duration of swim. I was dizzy, to volunteers took me by the arms and walked me to two more young women who peeled my wetsuit off. Another volunteer walked me over to my ride bag pickup and I managed to grab my bag and head inside to Gwen, dresser extraordinaire. Gwen had my socks rolled down for me, my arm warmers also preprepared, shorts out, jersey ready, sunglasses in helmet and I still couldn’t have told you my name. I don’t know how I put it all one but I did and ran off to find Doris Day – all pretty and shiny in the Arizona sun.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's game on

November 21 2009, T-1

The past few days have been a crazy ride. We landed Thursday afternoon and got to our absolutely fantastic suite shortly after. Scottsdale impressed us so much right off the bat. It’s clearly a very fit and wealthy town (sadly the two often are mutually inclusive) and we set out that night to find a spot for dinner.
Ironman keeps you busy before the race. Friday you venture to the race site to get registered during the day only to return at night for the pre-race meeting at the side of Tempe Town Lake. 2500 plus people sitting on folding chairs and sloping lawns all trying not to freak out. Friday night I felt great – I got to meet Barbara and Molly briefly but it was nice to recognize them and get a hug. The internet is so wonderful for allowing these connections with people I’m am just sad that the schedule has made it impossible to spend much time with them yet. Perhaps Monday while I suck back wine spritzers and talk about my incredible race prowess.
Today we dropped off our bikes and filled our 5, yes 5, bags. Bag 1 is for morning, and then evening, clothes. It’s got our swim stuff as well with lots of Vaseline for lubrication in the wet suits. Neither of us has swum more than 2000 metres in a wet suit so we need to remember to lube our necks up well. Bag 2 has the bike stuff, shoes, helmet, shorts, jersey, small bag of meds for bad stomachs, nutrition (about 1600 calories for the ride) and a letter or two from friends. Bag 3 is the bike special needs bag that you get half way through the ride. It’s got more nutrition in case you’ve lost yours to the road at some point. Bag 4 has run stuff, another pair of shoes, running shorts, new socks, new top, arm warmers and for me, a change of sports bra. I hope I get a very large matronly woman to help me into that – I’d like her to call me honey a lot. I draw the line at lubing up the twins however. That’s my special job. Bag 5 is the run special needs, available half-way at the 21 k mark. It’s surprisingly cold down here so we each have a shell in that along with another bag of meds. It’s all a big exercise in organization and, also in marriage as we “discussed” the whereabouts of everything and the schedule of events. Let the record stand that I was right about everything.
I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I do wish I was sleeping better but my mind just won’t shut off these days. It’s not a case of anxiety as much as rehearsing everything over and over again.
I’m so lucky to have Alex to train and race with and I’m thrilled that with 3 loops on the bike and run I will see him and Esther, Zdenka, Barbara and Molly as we each move forward on our journey to the finish line.
Expected time is 15-16 hours for me, Alex will be a couple hours faster and is threatening to be drunk by the time I finish.

Friday, November 13, 2009

When Ironman asks

When Ironman asks why I am in Arizona I have to have an answer.

Ironman is the gatekeeper to lifetime bragging rights and you don’t get them if he’s not satisfied with your answer.

So, why am I in Arizona?

The easiest answer is because it is the next step in the ladder of fitness that Alex and I started climbing a few years ago. We started with try-a-tri’s, graduated to sprints, olympics and then last year to the half Iron distance. With the next double in distance available we had to step up to the challenge.

This is the right answer for Iron training, training Ironman was pretty satisfied with it – you go the distance, you double the distance, you progress along the way. The common saying is that if you can do the training you can do the race but although this answered the questions during training real Ironman, race Ironman won’t be satisfied with any wussy little next step of the ladder crap. He’s out for more blood.

Ok, so, next answer.

How about this? Fitness is the route to health and health is the first pre-requisite of happiness. I’ve borrowed that from Joseph Pilates but I hope he’ll lend it out. He hit the nail on the heat I think. The human body was made to move, not to sit endlessly typing, watching, clicking away the hours. We’re smart so we’ve gotten ourselves a pretty cushy deal with our sedentary jobs but we’ve let that drift into the rest of our waking hours. We’re not so smart now are we?

This works a little better. I’ve been at this enough to know how good this all makes me feel and I have no desire at all to stop. I want to be the old broad passing the youngsters at races, being the role model of a life lived well. I want to be the ordinary woman out on the streets showing other ordinary women that this is what we can do, that although modern professional sports may seem often to be the preserve of men only, there is a whole other side to athletics that can and should welcome everyone in to its lifestyle. That will, I know, keep me going when things get tough. Somewhere in the crowd will be someone who needs to see me going the distance to realize that what ever distance she can imagine is doable. I am woman, see me roar, and all that.

This will come a time however, when I won’t give a damn about who is out there watching. I will be tired, depressed, sore, hungry, and my clothes will itch. The finishing line will be a long way away and there will be no friendly faces. It will be dark for body and soul.

What will my answer be then?

I don’t know.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

We're all normal

Alex and I feel like our child has gone to kindergarten. With a recovery week and then 4 weeks of taper to the race we are starting to regain our previous life. Dinner hopefully will no longer be a rotation of omelets, spaghetti and meatballs and steak sandwiches.

I’m tired, not doubt, but, today I’m feeling pretty good about the race. I love the level of fitness that I’ve brought my body to, I feel honoured by the people who I know that are finding inspiration in what we’re doing and not matter what happens on November 22 I know I’ve become a better person on this journey.

This was the weekend of the big ride. Saturday, at Duke’s cycle I picked up what I presumed to be chamois butter – let’s not mince words, it was butt butter. Sunday morning I applied said butter to my riding shorts. I pulled said shorts up. I experienced a sensation not at all like the cooling feeling that butt butter gives. My first clue should have been the distinctly mentholyptus smell but, it was really early. I wasn’t smelling yet.

Having been overly warmed by what was indeed warming balm, I decided a quick shower would take care of matters. In case you’re wondering applying hot water to warming balm is counter productive unless the effect desired is more warming.

I have one pair of 7 hour shorts. They were now tainted. Quick thinking had me add a pair of compression shorts as a base layer to put a firewall between heat and tender bits.

So, off we go to met up with our local IMAZ posse to do our ride. Three loops were planned with a Subaru aid station. When we left Toronto, as I recall, it was 2 degrees Celsius. When we arrived in Hamilton it was 1. But, it was clear, sunny and the leaves were glorious. I piled on the short sleeve jersey I had brought over my long sleeve, added arm warmers and a quilted wind stopper top. Three layers on the bottom completed the overstuffed package. The temperature was invigorating.

After two laps we met up with a couple of friends of our IMAZ peeps. One, who we had met briefly before, had brought doughnuts. DOUGHNUTS. Ah, sweet sweet sugar. After the required time to have introductions I started eating expressing my love of sugar, my realization that Iron eating had to end soon, and my most profound thanks. This appears to have been the right thing to do as, unknown to me, one of the friends had been literally sick worrying about riding with us. “You’re normal” she said and then gave me a hug. I told her I remember so well starting out and going for rides with people with Ironman tattoos. It WAS intimidating but, now, on the other side, I can say that triathlon is about inclusion and welcome.

The last lap was tough, my Garmin ran out of battery but I had nothing to prove. I saw, for the third time, the pretty little cat hanging in the ditch at the side of the road, I turned for the last time onto what I now think of as Dead Raccoon Road and I rode past a white domesticated turkey that looked to be just the tiniest bit lost. I did resort to some 99 bottles on the last 10 k but I felt strong and alive. Alex had added larger front rings and new crank to Doris Day the day before and I loved having those extra gears to push.

Now, with a week off for recovery and then the four weeks of taper I know that I’ve done everything I can to prepare. I am looking forward to a less time intensive off season but there is no way that I ever want to change this lifestyle. Ask me again November 23rd but I really think that I want to go Iron again. In a couple of years.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

6 weeks to go.

So, with one more week of build, one week of recovery and a 6 week taper left I’m addicted to Iron fitness. Alex and I did a triple brick yesterday – 30k ride/10 k run times three. It was incredible. The feeling of flying along country roads then running steadily down the rail trail through farmers’ fields was about as serene as I can get these days. At one point I had a goose flying at my speed beside me along a stretch of road that is lovely and smooth and virtually car free. I could almost feel the sensation of flight.

It’s funny, having just written that I now remember how Alex and I are finding the workouts actually kinda boring. The short ones don’t challenge and the long ones are just so repetitive. Yet, I’m left with that image of the bird.

I think that maybe, like flight, fitness is freeing. There is nothing right now that I can’t do physically. Having just seen Zombieland, for instance, I’m pretty sure I can outrun the living dead.

Back to boring. Right. The truth is that races can get boring and the ability to transcend that will really help me through Ironman. Right now 99 bottles of beer on the wall is my friend. Alex tells me that he doesn’t think about anything on the run, that he just zones out chalking it up to evolution of hunting men. I remember reading that Peter Reid would count to 20 over and over again during the marathon. There is no doubt that arithmetic makes the brain happy. For me it’s those endless bottles of beer.

I’m getting excited about the race. There seems to be a big crew of family coming down with our co-racers. One of the women racing with us is the mother of our Pilates instructor/friend and she and her sister are coming, more family with the other athlete and there is a rumour that the friend who started all this will be flying in from California where he lives now. As well, I hope to get to meet my new Facebook pen-pals.

A couple of years ago I had the year of the blog. I was throwing myself into racing and dealing with the anxiety that I was suffering through. I knew that fitness and triathlon was the way to a better life but with panic attacks in races during the swim, on the bike when training and horrible claustrophobic heart pounding episodes in the middle of the night, I wasn’t sure that I had the strength of character to overcome what, for me, was a terrible barrier to joy. I came across countless personal accounts of the journey to sub 12 hour Ironmen while mourning the death of a beloved wife,, to escaping a past of childhood abuse, and also to a man who summoned up the courage to stand up and declare himself an tri-athlete when most would have laughed him off a course. I hope to shake that man’s hand in Arizona. We all carry a cross and it’s only when we lift up someone else’s that we realize how light our own is. Triathlon introduced me to so many people with heavier crosses to bear.

It’s Thanksgiving weekend and I’m so very thankful for fitness, for a calm mind, and for my wonderful husband. What I don’t have really doesn’t matter. Family is what you define for yourself and my connections to others deepen every year that I’m involved in this wonderful community.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How do I hold onto this fitness?

I love getting through training sessions that I couldn’t even contemplate a couple months ago. I love feeling like I’m 25 again. (I’d really like it if I had the body I had at 25 but I’m willing to trade wisdom and serenity for that waist of old.) I love how great food tastes and deep deep sleeps.

The thing is, I don’t think this level of fitness is very much outside of what my body considers its normal operating standard but I’m not sure how the heck I’m going to be able to keep it up, little less improve again for next year’s session. At some point I’m not going to want to be exhausted at 9 o’clock every night. I don't want to be missing friends’ baby showers because I have a 6 hour workout that day. There is some television that I think is worth watching and I have to be awake and on the couch to see it.

In the meantime I’m eating whatever I want, not worrying about making what I though would be race weight. I can get through the next 7 weeks, 2 days with fall’s new shows piling up on the PVR. The storage room at work is adequate for my lunchtime napping needs. I can do all this because I AM GOING TO BE AN IRONMAN

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Muskoka 70..3 – what a difference a year makes.

A few years ago I wouldn’t have understood the attraction of passing the day swimming, biking and running. Now, I understand endurance to be the very essence of what we, humans, are built to do. We are the only animal that can run prey to exhaustion. I think that’s pretty cool. And we do it together, in packs – that’s also pretty cool.

So, on Sept 13th if you consider a finisher’s hat, t-shirt and medal as good as an antelope, my pack of about 1500 and I pretty much ran that prey to exhaustion.

The chase started for me, as for everyone, at water’s edge. I was in the last wave with men over 50 and watched as everyone else started their races. Warming up I kept noticing that the right side of my lenses kept filling up with water. I’d stop, give them a snap to clear but the problem kept happening. Taking them off for inspection I saw that near catastrophe loomed. The gasket around the eye piece was off its tracking and as someone with no hand eye co-ordination or fine motor control (who else needs to wear a helmet when running) I knew that I couldn’t fix it myself in the next minute or so. Standing on the beach I yelled out “anybody know how to fix a Sable goggle?” in my best not freaking out voice. A woman called out that her friend did and the friend showed up and fixed it for me in her best not freaking out manner. Thanks pack.

I have determined this year, in both half Ironman races, that, if need be I can backstroke the entire swim in not much more time than freestyle would take me. I settled into my new approach of backstroke to about the halfway point to a buoy (I find it very comforting to watch the last one recede) then switching to crawl to watch the new one approach. I’m singing 99 bottles of beer on the wall the whole time and keeping the brain full of happy thoughts.

Whereas last year was wet and warm this year was cold. I had my wetsuit stripped but regretted not wearing it the 10k or so to the transition area. (that’s an exaggeration, Muskoka has a long swim to bike transition route but it’s really only about 5 k).

There was no picknick in transition, I was on the bike pretty quickly and took off like a very old, cold, possibly rheumatoid bat out of hell. This was a low point. Last year I remember flying out of transition hardly noticing the hills. Now, being in the last wave, the road was empty and I chugged along in my small gear with about 4 others. My muscles just felt so cold and unresponsive and I just felt so tired and depressed. My race plan would have me hold off on nutrition until I was throught the first technical 10k but my brain needed happy sugar and so I started in on the Cliff blocks. With my heart rate elevated, however, I just ended up with a big gluey block sitting in my mouth. I did spend some time wondering if anyone had died chocking on a block in a race. Not a lot of dignity there.

The ride went on cold, depressed, lonely. I was slowly but surely bringing up my average speed but not being in the main mass of racers it was hard to monitor progress. I did get out of the group I started with and managed to pass at least one or two more mini pelotons but it wasn’t until the sun came out that I really started to get my groove on.

Last year I think I walked about 4 hills. This year, coming out of Dorset towards the first of them I told myself that to just stay calm and wait and see THE HILL. Perhaps the road crew had levelled it over the winter – you never know. I rode the course a total of 3 times last year and never made that hill. This year, two young girls were at the side of road cheering and I called out to them that I had always walked that hill but I thought I could make it this time. Their dad pointed out my great pace and the girls said they’d run it with me. And they did. Do you think I could have gotten off my bike and let them down. Not a chance. With their help THE HILL will forever be just the hill now. Thanks again pack.

The Muskoka course is tough. The first and last 10k or so is the same road – you are either going up or going down and it really seems to nail you just when you are the most vulnerable. The other 3 hills were waiting on that final 10 k – no kids around this time but Susan 2008 is last year’s model, Susan 2009 pressed on and made it over all of them feet firmly in the pedals.

Back into transition I declined the second picknick and slapped on the runners for the half marathon. I decided to not make the same mistake as I did at Bracebridge in August and I resolved to walk all hills setting aside any thoughts of heroism. Combined with walking only the water stations that plan worked extremely well and I found a running buddy Allison who was also on the same plan. Some more great kids got me through the tough times running with me and telling me how awesome I was. Pepsi and discipline on the run/walk structure fuelled the last 10 k and Alex was, as always, waiting at the finish line. It was a personal best for the course and I feel some definite progress on the mental work I need to do to just get through a long tough course.

Ironman looms large in my mind but I mostly can’t even begin to think about it – I can only trust the training and focus on that one week at a time. The Susan who can complete Ironman Arizona doesn’t yet exist but I am creating her.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I had a bit of a pre-Ironman anxiety moment today. I had to hit the pool after work for an endurance swim and I suddenly couldn’t remember why I enjoyed that sort of thing, why the hell I was doing it, and how I was going to traverse 140.6 miles in less than 17 hours.

It doesn’t help that I hadn’t swum in a couple weeks. Last week was recovery week and I didn’t crack the ice at the cottage to get in that water on the weekend – even for fun. The previous week had the two aborted outdoor swim attempts with tornado accents. The joy of swimming had, as a result, been completely forgotten by my mind and body.

I dutifully got to the pool and started the workout. As I was working through my first few laps I found myself swimming next to someone doing the backstroke. That brought back memories of racing. Backstroke is my warm up stroke, my rest stroke, my anxiety stroke, but never my practice stroke. I put in lap after lap of freestyle, bilateral breathing from end to end. In races, when I’m not backstroking I’m single side breathing doing the front crawl. Why, I ask myself, don’t I actually practice what I seem to do in races?

I think it’s because, although one nice effect of backstroke in a race is to see how far you’ve come, the past should never be a reference. I am looking forward to a race that I can bilateral breath and swim fully immersed in the water and that’s what I’m training for. I had a taste of that last year at Muskoka 70.3 and hope to replicate that feeling a week from Sunday when I do it again.

I left the recreation centre at Ryerson University listening to a frosh week orientation party going on in the quad. Took a moment to remember my own frosh week all those years ago and take a quick look at how far I’ve come.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fat and Happy?

Whose fault is it really, that we’re all fat? I read Trigreyhound’s blog with interest, not because of the discussion of US health care – that I will leave to US citizens - but because he implied that the good health that anyone can obtain with proper diet and exercise was entirely within the control of each and every one of us.

I’m not so sure I agree.

Three things I know about humans, we are social animals, we are profit motivated and we are survivors (so far) in the great game of evolution.

The food industry that churns out fat, sugar and salt laden products is really just responding to a very real human desire to have fat, sugar and salt. These desires are intrinsic to survival; any proto-human (any animal) that didn’t show the desire to obtain them didn’t live to reproduce. Cinnabons puts a lot of research and development into producing the smell that permeates a mall and renders me incapable of thinking about anything except how fantastic one of their buns would taste right now, with cold milk.

Am I eating one right now, no, I’m snacking on plums. I don’t actually have any idea how much a Cinnabon bun is but 3 plums just cost me $2 – and the very ancient survivalist brain of mine knows that the per calorie expense of the Cinnabon is considerably less than the per calorie expense of the plum. Having had the smell turn on the hunger urge in my brain (lots of R&D) the brain makes the rational choice for the most calories in the quickest fashion. And then, hey, we can all get together and have a Cinnabon at one of those tables in the food court. And then we’ll all go to the Gap and get something new. Gosh, somehow I’m heavier than I was in 20 years ago but I still take the same size. Looks like I can still have my Cinnabon and size 6/8/10/12 jeans just like when I was 23. I’m sure it’s not that the clothing stores have inflated sizes giving me an inaccurate method of determining whether I’m gaining weight or not.

Bingo, I’ve just fed my body lots of calories because they were available right now and I’ve shared with others of my species in consumption of food (very big culturally) and by shopping together (more socialization) at a store that supports my increased girth without making me feel bad about it.

And let’s just say I’m tired of being the size 12, I realize that I’m really a 16 and probably bigger since the pants don’t do up very comfortably these days.

How do I even start? What do I wear? Athletic clothing hasn’t got the comfort fit that I’m used to. A small is really small. I can’t buy the XL; the Gap doesn’t have me in XL. Everyone working in the store is so fit they must be laughing at me. Smell those Cinnabons?

There is an average size at races and I’m probably it. Whenever I see anyone, man or woman, larger that me out running, riding, swimming, I try to take what I went through to change my life and my relationship with my body and magnify that by the extra pounds they are carrying over what I started with. I usually want to hug them but I’m pretty sure that would be considered assault so I just smile.

We created a society that, in catering to the most basic instincts of our species, has created a toxic environment that has so permeated all our lives that we can’t even begin to see what it is doing to us. We pride ourselves that we are thinner than our friends without realizing that our friends are obese and we are very fat. Restaurants serve us enormous portions with calorie counts that defy belief.

Last Saturday my husband and I had a 120k ride/5k run brick. We were up north at our cottage without power after the massive storm that hit Ontario Thursday night. I insisted that we go out for dinner rather than trying to cook on a BBQ that is on its last legs augmented only by a side burner that is capable of boiling water only on a completely still night. I had just had a 5 ½ hour workout, I wanted pasta.

We went to Boston Pizza and I asked for a nutrition guide. If I was an average person going to the restaurant the staff would be primed to sell me as many calories as possible. The nutrition guide request probably shut that down. I’ve done that work in corporate restaurants, and got rewarded on our average cheque – ie the more items I could sell in additional to the entrees the more prizes I would win in contests, the happier management would be with me, the better shifts and sections I would get. So, you walk in and I’m working at Boston Pizza and I’m going to sell you everything. I don’t give a damn about your health; I just don’t want to have to work Sunday lunch next weekend.

Well, the spaghetti and meatball dinner has 1800 calories with the other pasta dishes falling downwards from there to a minimum of 670. Main entrees also fell in the 700+ range. Add in an appetizer (wine or beer and maybe a dessert because I deserve it) and I can hit more than my basal metabolic rate pretty quickly. I rode 5 hours and ran 30 minutes to burn up enough calories to spend on a Saturday night splurge.

People do eat that much, I know they do. And the skinny happy people in the commercials encourage them in it. You have friends, food, laughter, and more than 2000 calories. But you deserve it, right?

The food makes me feel loved, the staff is happy to see me, and the skinny women in the sports store are long behind. I don’t know how good a 5 ½ hour workout feels, I don’t know anymore what real muscle in my body feels like, and I sure don’t know how much fun triathlons can be. I know change is hard and I’m just not up to it right now. I’m still a size 12 after all, even if I have to unbutton my pants after dinner.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

It was supposed to be lovely and wonderful, instead it was ugly and disturbing. And I'm pretty sure something is going to end up infected.

I feel like we're getting down to crunch time. For Alex and I this is our last week of the 3rd last training cycle. We get next weekend off, then it's 7 weeks on, 1 week off and a 4 week taper. Consequently missed workouts start to prey on the mind. Today I decided that, nothing venture, nothing gained, so I would try the big outdoor pool down at the lake for my 3300 metre (pls help me) swim workout.

I don't know about you but I find the whole idea of going to a new pool to be really difficult. I think it's because you are barely dressed and your hair is going to get wet - both those things leave me pretty vulnerable. So, this was a big step for me but I didn't get into triathlon to work out inside and the summer has finally warmed up so - off to an outdoor pool. It sounded romantic. The staff promised all day lane swimming in one section of the pool.

I should have asked about the floating filth.

After a ridiculous, hot and long drive - transit to the lake not being a priority of the city of Toronto - I paid my $3 for parking and walked into the pool building. It was promising, it was clean, it felt like the right thing to do. The lockers were ridiculously small but I had two quarters.

First problem was the sudden failure of the spandex in my bathing suit. (see above) I have boobs, this is an issue.

Feeling very much let down I proceeded to the pool area only to find the "lap swim" area populated by young men with more testosterone than swimming ability. Heads up, arms flailing, zigzagging at warp speed to one end with a long breathless wait at the other.

In my peer group I'm a crappy swimmer - here I was that chick with the great body and all the gold medals. I swam one lap, decided that manslaughter might be a charge if I stayed, and had a ridiculous long and hot drive home.

So now I sit, having missed a key workout, contemplating a course of intravenous antibiotics, debating whether to try the swim again tomorrow or just move on to the bike interval workout. On my trainer, in a hot house...choice made. A lovely wonderful indoor pool. A supportive bathing suit. But still 3300 metres.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bracebridge Half-Iron Distance

I used to write race reports on a blog that has since been sent to blog heaven but I stopped a couple of years ago. I felt that I had created for myself this blog personna of little Susie, the loveable loser, having panics in the swim, pushing her bike up hills, triumphing at the end only because she actually finished the course. After my olympic distance year I stopped writing. A few people who had enjoyed the tales asked me about it but I told them that the whole process had become so personal that I just didn't feel I could do it any more.

Two years later, having gone through 12 weeks of therapy to deal with the swim panic, little Susie, the loveable loser is no more. Not that I'm winning. To cut to the chase, last year I did Bracebridge in 8 hours 11 minutes - last in my age group. This year I did it in 7 hours 33 minutes, and guess what - yup, last in my age group.

I will not discuss the swim as I've dwelt too much on that and its emotional impact on me in the past - the new Susie ignores the time between the horn going off and getting out of the freaking wetsuit. I will thank John Salt and Multisport for getting last year's water treadmill (i.e. an open dam up river) turned off.

In the morning's briefing, John, the race director said that their reports indicated that the rain would hold off until about 2 pm. Most of us, he said, would be pretty much off the course by then. I knew I wouldn't but with only an hour or so left on the run I didn't think the rain would bother me a bit.

My only comfort with the weather prediction was that John was doing the bike this year as part of a relay team. I know, therefore, no matter how fast he was, he was stuck in the same biblical level downpour as the rest of us. At one point, having taken off my glasses (Oakley oranges lenses to add detail to the road on overcast days -HAH), I was heading downhill in excess of 50 k per hour on a frost heaved road. I alternated right then left eyes closing against what felt like wet bullets on the face and considered that this was not exactly a wise thing for a 45 year old woman to do on a Sunday. Then I let out yet another "whoo hoo" and sang made up words to the Blur song.

Doris, my new women's specific Specialized performed admirably - I did the bike 2 km/hour faster than last year and, without the rain, might have pushed it a bit more.

The run started out really well. I felt so strong that when I saw Alex, with 5 km or so to do on his run, I told him I was up for a 7:15. Somehow, around 10k I lost my mojo and the last half was a struggle. I ran for a bit with Nerina - famous to all by the signs her friends had left on the road in chalk, with Cherith, who ships out to Afghanistan next year, and with Steve, who agreed with me that 1964 was a great year.

It's a very small race and you are with the same bunch of people for most of it so it just felt right at the end to shake each other's hands and wish them well. A slice of pizza and a cooler to sit on almost got the body right and we headed home after seeing our Ironman Arizona friends - who all won in their age group.

Now with a week of vacation at our cottage to recover and looking forward to matching my PB at Muskoka 70.3 in September I'm excited about increasing my fitness to get through that half marathon with a little more energy. Then, of course, on to the biggy. I know it won't rain in Arizona.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Walking home from work tonight I got to a busy corner very near where I live. The sidewalk was narrowed from scaffolding set up and we were all trying to finish crossing on the light and rushing to catch the green. The downtown hipsters were dressed in downtown hipster fashion including one woman with great red hair (a red not seen in nature), high heels and the newest fashion accessory, a bike. Coming the other way was a man in a wheelchair who was long past his hipster days and probably just one level up from living on the street. We all made way for him to get by first but he offered the sidewalk to all of us. We thanked him, moved forward and I though that he had the most incredible dignity in his manner. There was nothing handicapped about him; he was equal to any of us, including the bike woman who then thanked his for his "gentlemanness". Freaking triathlon making me in touch with my emotions - I almost cried at her wonderful grace. But that wouldn't be hip.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What a difference a month makes - I feel tired, beat up, and depressed.

Had a mini panic at a race on Sunday, ended up doing the whole 750m on my back. Did the same race last year with a full on panic and the same energy seemed to hit me. I ended up having to listen to women discussing their nervousness while waiting for the deep water start. Didn't warm up enough, and, forgot to start in singing "99 bottles of beer on the wall."

Bracebridge half iron distance is a week Sunday. Very difficult up river swim last year that I totally rocked on the mental side. Must go forward on an assumption that that will hold for this year.

I don't feel trained for it at all.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Training has been going well - peaking at about 9 hours a week right now and about to go do into recovery week.

I'm feeling so strong that I have revamped the race goals that I established for myself in the winter. Last year I completed the Bracebridge half iron distance (no registered trademark) in 8:11. Just over a month later I did the Muskoka 70.3 (definitely trademarked) in 8:05. Bracebridge was a beautiful sunny day on a considerably easier course but I wasn't as focused on the racing. Quite honestly I was just glad to do it before the cut off. Muskoka was rainy, hilly, nasty but I was fitter and took off more time. I'm not even sure if I really had my race head on any better so I think a lot of the pickup was actually physical.

Originally I thought I'd do the Bracebridge race this year in 7:15 and Muskoka in 8 hours but, with my new faster bike and fitter body I'm calling 7:00 for Bracebridge and 7:30 for Muskoka.

The plan has me doing lots of intensity work that I would normally have slacked off on. But Ironman has a way of terrifying me into following the workouts to the letter. Gosh, who would have thought that training would actually work.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Around and around we go

Had the chance on Wednesday night to run with a team of my husband's co-workers for a corporate YMCA fundraising 5k relay. His company of about 200 workers got 40 odd people out to walk or run. One guy ran his first 5 k ever, another co-worker, having lost quite a bit of weight ran his first race as well with a very respectable time.

The most fun had to be watching the 2 very competitive teams (4 person each) keeping tabs on the other teams times. I'm not sure how much cash was riding on the results or if it was just bragging rights but it was intense.

Race ended with beer and dinner in a pub. Adult onset athleticism washed down with red wine.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Might as well jump in. I've been checking out the other members of Ironmanarizona2009 and see what Molly posted. I'm going to start with the 8 things.

8 things I'm looking forward to:

1. Joy Division/New Order themed spin class tonight
2. My husband returning on Friday from out west
3. Seeing my dog tonight and everynight
4. Poached eggs on toast with a side of rappini for dinner
5. My first triathlon of the year in July
6. Surprising an old friend at her first duathlon in June
7. The experience of completing an Ironman, the training, the races leading up to it, meeting people, the extra food I get to eat
8. The rest of my life.

8 things I did yesterday:

1. Ran 10 k
2. Swam 1050 yards
3. Got a great night sleep
4. Laughed with co-workers
5. Talked gardening with my neighbour
6. Cleaned the bathroom
7. Cleaned the kitchen
8. Felt happy to be alive.

8 things I would like to/will do:

1. Loose 15 pounds training, keep off 10
2. Go sub 16 at Ironman Arizona
3. Run the 50k race in Iceland
4. Sell our used bikes soon.
5. Get back to being paid performance for our accounts because our clients will have their portfolios restored - a win/win situation
6. Grow a bunch of our own food this year
7. Finish our new cabin at the lake, see #5
8. Continue a life of triathlon combined with adult beverages.

8 shows I watch:

1. Nature
2. Nova
3. John Stewart
4. Anything with Anthony Bourdain
5. Torchwood
6. Battlestar Galactica
7. How I met your mother
8. The news

Don't know anyone really to tag yet, but if you've read this leave me your blog address and alway we go.
Quick bio - 44 years old (45 on the 20th - new age group), married 10 years to Alex with small hairy child subsitute dog named Chindi. Alex also does tris and is doing Arizona with me. If we could get a bike for Chindi she'd be all over racing too. She swims like a fish, runs like Lisa Bentley.

We live in downtown Toronto, I work in an investment dealer and Alex works for a large software company.

We both came late to athleticism starting with a tri a try in 2005. I've been through the wringer with anxiety and panic attacks in training and racing (esp in the water) but have come out the other end a better person. If anyone is going through that with open water I'm happy to pass on my experience and the tips that work for me.

Outside of racing and training I'm getting into vegetable gardening and cheesemaking. We like eating - hence the training and racing.