Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Personal day from work, 2 naps, blt sandwhich, and some movement on taking care of the black cloud problem (will disclose later). Oh, and totally overwhelmed by the support here and especially on Facebook. "You like me, you really like me".

Monday, March 28, 2011

Valley Inn Road Existential Crisis

Valley Inn Road is the notorious hill on the notorious and “Older than Boston” Around the Bay Road Race (30 k) – always the last Sunday in March before shipping starts to the reference bay. I have done this race 6 years in a row now. There is no other race that I have committed to on a yearly basis since THE CHANGE (lifestyle, not hormones), and every year, it kicks my ass at the 20 k mark when the hills start. It kicks everyone’s ass but my ass seems to be more bruised than anyone else’s. Now, I find hills hard and perhaps that has to do with my complete lack of flexibility in my calves;  Alex, he’s nothing but flexible calves and up he goes with his heels actually still making contact with the road. My heels, when climbing hills, seem to be hovering somewhere around my ears. I think this might be a disadvantage but, can’t blame it all on the heels. Today, the only reason I can see is that I just suck.

Pity party at 8pm, casual dress.

I kept up a 3 hour pace until the hills kicked in. My awesome running partners, including my pilates instructor who was running her first race ever, were great in letting me catch up, reeling me in and pulling me along but after 20k they couldn’t help but drop me if they wanted their 3 hour time so I put the music in the ears and chugged away on my own. I had thought that the 4th in our group had also dropped me, and finding out later that I actually pulled ahead of her, I regretted not stopping to let her catch and because I think that would have helped both of us. I should have been more giving instead of assuming that I was last.

So, onwards, upwards and downwards I went feeling more and more tired and just emotional about it all. I tossed down some lovely Clif blocks to see if sugar would make my brain happy but just found it hard to chew with a chocked up throat. A little bit of asthma came to the party as well, ‘cause, hey, why leave that out. But the time I got to the top of the last hill with not much more than 3 km left to go I had lost it. All those weeks that Alex has been working out of town all week only to return on weekends when I did nothing but run, well, they just started to become too high a price to pay for such a crappy time. I became the crazy chick crying behind her sunglasses. Every freaking positive song on the ipod just sounded like it was mocking me and I just turned it off and went into survival mode. I stopped looking at my watch and calculating my finish time. I didn’t give a crap any more.

And in the end, here’s the thing. IT’S ALL SO FREAKING HARD. It is. I’m fitter than the average 47 year old for sure but it’s been hard fought. Getting to Ironman was the hardest thing that I think I’ve done as an adult. It was also the most rewarding but…damn it…it took me 16.5 hours. On a relatively easy course. In perfect weather. I want to take 2 hours off the thing this year but after yesterday’s performance I’m just not sure. I’m not sure of anything.

Hollywood has sold us all this fable, 3 acts to greatness, underdog gets an idea in her head, trains for the big day and triumphs over all adversity and adversaries. But it’s just a lie. If you sucked in sports in high school, you will suck at sports in your 40’s and nothing seems to change that. Nothing. I know that the fast ones, the elites, they work hard, they train, they sacrifice, they believe in themselves but they don’t bring up the rear. The rear is ugly. Glory is thin on the ground by then.

I just don’t know what to do about my 50 miler. I have 2 months, we have so much work to do on our northern cottage estate (ha) and I really just want to get started triathlon training. I want to mix it up. I’m so sick of just running and running and running. It all just hurts now.

I look back at what I’ve written lately and it’s all so negative. I don’t seem to be having fun and I know that a non-sport related part of my life has to change and has been a darkness on everything for a while, but, it’s also hard to think about that when I run, I’m tired, I run, I’m tired...

Gotta go pick out an outfit for the pity party. I’ll be serving sour grapes and a lot of whine.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Your 17 year old daughter can post where she "likes it" or what colour her bra is and that's ok, 'cause it's for breast cancer awareness! WTF!

I've gone and taken my ultra-bitch, ultra-tired, ultra-hungry self to the doghouse by replying to a group spam email that presented yet another one of those stupid breast cancer awareness games. I don't regret the thinking behind my reply, but, I didn't realize that I had replied to the whole group. Then again, I bet someone else on that mailing list had a second thought about the dumb idea and maybe another women realized how demeaning it was to women with cancer.

Because it was associated with a part of a woman's body that was sexual and therefore was shameful, breast cancer was not checked for, not researched, not treated. Because of that it was deadly. With a lifetime occurence rate of about 1 in 8 women that was a lot of women who died needlessly. A wonderful campaign created an awareness that made it ok for women to check their breasts for lumps, made it acceptable for men to talk about lumps they might have felt in their partner's breasts and gave rise to fundraising opportunities that have led to research and treatments so that 80-90% of women survive a breast cancer diagnosis.

So, why are we re-sexualizing it? Breast cancer treatment is not about saving breasts, it's about saving women. It's about saving mothers, wives, sisters, friends, triathletes, runners, cyclists, your co-worker.

Somehow we women have gotten caught up in this sisterhood so much so that if someone suggests we post the colour of our bra, the place where we put our purse (and therefore, "where we like it") and whatever the newest thing is, well, we just go ahead and mindlessly do that. We don't question what any of that has to do with breast cancer awareness (which is pretty freaking high in the developed world), and we don't question why we want, yet again, to associate breast cancer with sex.

I think about women who come from cultures that are more modest about the body and sexuality and I wonder how a "save the titties campaign", or an aweness campaign that is sexually related is going to help those women, and men touched by breast cancer. How are those women going to be conscious of changes in her breasts if she feels being caught up in some movement that offends her.

I don't have a teenage daughter but if I did I would be horrified if she was posting "where she liked it" as part of some bogus awareness campaign. I would however make her aware that breast cancer can be a lifestyle disease and her best defence, other than good genes, was to stay at a healthy weight through proper nutrition and lots of fun physical exercise. And if she wants to tell some boy where she likes it, well, don't do that in front of me 'cause that would freak me out. And use a condom. Actually, teenage boys should wear two. You know what I mean.

Hey, just a thought, why not start a testicular cancer awareness campaign that has boys and men posting "left" or "right" - you know, what side they shoot on. Would that be offensive or would it be ok because cancer awareness is so important we should all demean ourselves.

Ladies and Gentlemen: We have a plateau.

The fast weight loss has stopped.

Let's all wave good-bye to it. And log the points from that activity.

So, what to do. Well, I was pretty run down by the weekend, got a 4 hour run in Saturday and a 3 hour run/bike on trainer workout on Saturday. Then, as it was my birthday, I went out and consumed vast calories in the form of prosecco and edamane, wine and pork stew, dessert wine and an incredible sticky toffee pudding, and then, as I recall, another glass of prosecco for the road - which, being both and urbanite and responsible, just meant I was sloshed for the cab.

So, the weight is remaining stable, and happily below Ironman 09 weight. The running was taking a toll on my legs and ankles so it's time to shake up the diet and the workouts. Spring is coming so cycling will be starting up very soon and I'm planning to get in the long days via some brick work. That will spare the legs the pounding but still get me adept at running on tired legs. I'm a triathlete after all, and "runs on tired legs" is my middle name.

For the diet, I've given myself a couple wild cards this week for birthday dinner and recovery week. Week after week of caloric deprivation is never a good idea and many seem to think shaking it all up every once in a while and having a bit of a feed is the route to giving the fat a boot. I also think that losing more than a pound a week probably didn't help the energy levels and recovery from the training.

Up next, Around the Bay for the 6th year on Sunday. 30 km of second hand smoke, drunk spectators, an older little person who plays "We will rock you" at the bottom of the biggest climb of the race, and finally, Death, whose son appeared one year as well. Death waits on the last few kilometers as you run by the graveyard alongside the road. Then, you get to run into the colliseum like a rock star. It's all pretty much horrible up to the rock star moment. This year, however, has the biggest turnout yet for friends, possibly because I'm adding so many to my friend list. There will be an estrogen feed-up afterwards that I'm looking forward to.

I have a goal, set earlier this year of taking 12 minutes off last year's time. That was based on 10lbs being +- 6% in energy expenditure and therefore race times. I think I am down 10 pounds over this time last year so, we'll see how it all goes. I can't show up without a goal. I can leave without reaching it, but, without a goal, why get out of bed?

Friday, March 11, 2011

An Open Letter to the Creep at the Red Lobster Bar

Dear what-ever-your-name-was,

When we both found ourselves at the bar at the Toronto Eaton Centre Red Lobster it must has seemed like kismet to you. As we sat to the side, hoping for service, you glanced at me in what was, in retrospect, an inappropriate number of times. I though you were commiserating on our wait for adult beverages but apparently you were checking me out. I would not have half smiled back if I knew what was going on.

But, you see, I'm trying to live this life of positivity and joy and connection so, "yeah", (half smile) "gosh it would be nice to get some service."

Now, having more initiative than you, or perhaps, as became clear, the one who had not yet had a drink yet on this Friday night, I move to a main part of the bar and order a glass of wine and a dinner menu.

Well, goodness, suddenly, there you were beside me asking if you could join me and ordering a double scotch on the rocks. Scotch on the rocks - people actually drink Scotch on the rocks. I was starting to feel like I was somehow morphed into "Anchorman". I'm nice, I can't really keep you from the seat beside me, and honestly, I though you might be good for a laugh so, "yeah" I say, "have a seat". We chat for a bit, I ask if you are in town for work as most at the bar seem to be or are you meeting people? You tell me that I keep myself nice. CREEP ALERT AMBER

You stare. At me. And not in the good romance novel, Fabio ripped shirt off, undressing me with your eyes way. No, I feel dirty and the hot water heater at home is broken so I can't have a shower.

I should have shut you down right there but, what I do is conscientiously switch to using my left hand to drink thereby directing you, on my left, to my wedding band and the diamonds in it that should be fairly obvious. I figure you will notice and make a hasty but polite retreat.

You don't.

Am I single, you ask. "No", I say, tapping the ring. "Very much not". "Sorry?"

"Are you up for something" you say. CREEP LEVEL AT RED

"No" I say.

"Am I bothering you" you say.

"No" (blatant lie) I say but at this point I'm aware that you are slurring your words, that you have pimples on your forehead (how old are you??) and I'm thinking I really don't want to have the restaurant to worry about a scene in the bar. It's Red Lobster for god's sake. It's just all so weird.

I tell you that I've come for dinner and to catch up my reading and so get my Kindle out. You continue to stare. I've turned away from you but you are sitting, staring. There is no other word to sum you up but "staring".

I go to the hostess area and tell the staff that I have a super creep in the bar and, I know that they have a wait going, but please, could they find me a table away from the bar. The staff is incredible, they find a booth immediately, I go back to get my things.

"My table has come up", I tell you.

"Where are you going", you say.

"None of your business" I reply.

Later, after dinner, the staff tells me you have gone so I head out into the mall. I don't see you so I think it's fine to walk down Dundas St. It's a major street, lots of people, lots of open stores, and bars and restaurants. It's my city and I feel safe in it and I know everyone around me will have my back if you appear. I also know that I have an umbrella in one hand and new Weight Watcher's body fat scale from Sears' in the other. And I'm an Ironman and if you try to fuck with me I'll introduce you to both of them.

March may not be the cruelest month, but it's not invited to my next party.

My friends, my dear dear internet friends. I have spent the last couple of days struggling. Not with the ultra training – I’m getting that done and although there have been times of absolute boredom when I can’t stand to hear Muse on the ipod even one more time, the body is holding up, the scale registered a number that I hadn’t seen in since my 30’s, and I’m really remembering how great sleeping is when hard training.

What I’m struggling with lately is just a general sense of annoyance with my fellow man and woman. I'm at an age when I'm not sure if I should blame it on PMS or menopause but I do know that the seemingly endless alternation of snow and rain, interspersed with both snow and rain at the same time, and the grey, grey sky sure doesn’t help. This has got to be the gloomiest March in years. I should be taking more heart from seeing everyone's Facebook statuses - the weather isn't keeping anyone from training and I'm happy to know such a bunch of men and women with such great endurance (insert gender specific reproductive organs).

Finishing up my long run last Saturday on the work treadmill I paused at a walk break to pick up a 10 pound weight and then a 20 to get a feeling for what I've done and where I hope to end up. That was nice. It made up for a really crappy half-marathon that I ran the previous weekend. The race wasn't crappy, it was well organized and ended with donuts, but ugh, running on snow is getting SO OLD. I had added my prescription insoles to my trail shoes (always try something new on race day) and I ended up getting a blister about half way through. I was totally over that race before it even felt like it started. But then, I met an Iron-newbie who is signing up for IMLP this summer. She was fantastic getting me through the last third or so. I gave up all my extensive Ironman tips in exchange for her efforts in dragging my butt to the finish. The camaraderie in this sport can be the saving grace in some events.

Otherwise, the ultra training goes on. I really need some new music, I actually glimpsed into the husband's play list for some stuff that wasn't too weird and I'm thinking of doing a Thievery Corporation themed run on Saturday. I think I have about 4.5 hours of that and I can just do a trance sort of thing. Having read Dread Pirate's latest race report I think I need to practice some "mindless" running for the upcoming 50 miler.