Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Mantras for Hire

In 2006, I had some mantras that consistently served me well. It was the year of "Heat." I am retiring these mantras and submitting them for whomever wishes to adopt them... Let the bidding begin!

You need to make your own heat. I needed to "make my own heat," light my own fire, keep myself going through the long training rides, swims and runs of IM training. That self-determination also kept my enthusiasm and belief in this alive. I did the vast majority of training on my own and had to motivate myself to get out the door and stay out the door until my workout was completed. These were the longest workouts of my life. This year was all about LONG and SLOW. I became long and slow... And "I make my own heat" struck a chord that helped me find the steely determination to just. keep. going.

Caveats with this mantra: Beware. Once the fire is lit, warmth literally spreads throughout your body, consuming everything in its path. You may wind up in the women's (or men's) locker room after some workouts prancing around naked until your body temp allows you to accept clothing.

Your heat comes from within. This statement by a volunteer at Ironman Wisconsin reminded me that I do indeed make my own heat, within me. It lead to the crowning moments (approximately 7 hours worth) of Triteacher Internal Combustion. I completed, survived - did - that cold, rainy 112 mile bike ride of September 10th. I hung on and endured, through hands too numb to shift or open a Gu. My heat came from within. NO question of it. Wasn't anywhere else it could have come from. Thanks to that heat, I am Iron.

Catch with this motto: You may meet and exceed all of your goals, leading you to wonder... what next??

BUT then you can just borrow from me at the end of next year. CUZ you bet your ass I'm gonna have some good mantras this year. I'm already working on 'em...

Monday, December 25, 2006


Do you ever get the feeling that some things are just yours?

No matter how long it's been since I've been on skis, I get on them and they are mine. The feeling is mine. Even though my quads were aching from yesterday's ski, today's drive consisted of getting out there again, to race down the hills we'd been on before and whose icy tracks now meant speed. And to hit the trails I had missed yesterday, to baptize the virgin powder with the twin tracks of my skis.

Thinking the same thought that came to me last year: I want to be buried in powder. Let its beauty surround me and swallow me up. It is a blissful feeling of oneness with the cold air, the slooshing of my skis, the perpetual motion of my body in unity with the snow, the sky, the whole world around me.

Somewhere in this happiness is the acceptance of my mortality. When I ski, I make peace with... everything. Somehow my joy in this simple mortal act of gliding forward on snow - that interplay of energy - makes me know that everything is all right. And always will be.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Click Heard Around the World

I'm sure you heard it... right around 12:30 PM CST. From my Wisconsin pool to Chicago and Cleveland, from Vermont to SoCal.


That's when I realized that I needed to be the backhoe. All of those playsessions with my nephew have finally realized their ulterior motive. You see, I now know how to catch... My arm is just like the arm of that backhoe. The more water I scoop up, the more I can shove out behind me. So I tested my new thinking on my 8 x 100s.

Just like a good little back hoe, I kept my arm nice and high and picked up a BIG - I'm talkin' HUGE - pile of water. And did I just let that water go? No! I used my hydraulics to thrust it out behind me, and then I powered into the next pile.

Result??? Ha! My 100s were all 1:25s today. I have not been able to maintain that speed - ever. And I was leading! Yay!

Thanks, Jake. I owe you one. And I suspect I know how I can repay you... :)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Yin and Yang

My brother is a Catholic priest.
I am an atheist.

He weighs 350 pounds and smuggles candy bars into his room.
I was anorexic in high school and a compulsive overeater in college.

He drove six hours to see me the night before my Ironman.
I would walk across hot coals for him.

He probably prays for me.
I invite him on bike rides and walks with me.

We love each other and will break bread on Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


People fascinate me. And once in awhile, someone needs to have a post written in their honor. I met one such woman today...

There she sat, a woman stunning because of her largeness, her insane obesity. The other women flitted about her, drones around their Queen Bee. Her hands were firmly planted on her knees, her ample bottom encased in its floral swimsuit, huge breasts sagging into the part at which I only shot covert glances - her peplum draped between her knees, blocking the light coming from beneath the bench.

I found myself drawn in too, hanging on every word of the racy joke she was telling between pants, futzing with my shampoo and conditioner so I could draw out the time when I'd need to turn on the shower and lose her thread.

She was mesmerizing. As Fatima in T.C. Boyle's Water Music... or a female Falstaff from Shakespeare's King Henry the Fourth. Both are highly sought after characters whose very corpulence embodies the everyman appeal they have; they are all-encompassing.

Friday, December 08, 2006


I pull my legs tightly to my chest, eeking out the last minutes of sunlight before I'll mount my bike and head home. Drips from my swimsuit plop into the water below. I shift a bit more, finding a spot to accomodate myself on this hard board pier. I have dolphined, I have swum, I have tasted my red lake water. I am pure, holy, and relaxed.

And then I see him. The swirls in the water alert me to his presence. They lead my gaze to a small, pointy face with over-sized whiskers poking out just above the water line. He is aware of me too. Our eyes lock.

He breaks the spell, diving. Only to surface a few yards closer. Then he begins his show: swimming toward me in long s-shaped sweeps. I am shivering now, but this little being won't let me go. He pulls me in, keeps me on the pier watching his lazy arcs, dives, and teases. Sometimes he resurfaces closer to me, like the first time, and sometimes he's farther away.

I wonder about him. Is he as curious about me as I am about him? Does he love this lake, this water, the way I do? Are we cosmically linked? I smirk at the idea, but am unable to leave him.

Then he dives and doesn't resurface. Huh? Was I just ditched by an otter?

I uncoil and pedal home. Eighteen years later, I remember our encounter. And the 17 year old girl who couldn't wait to get to the lake to swim after barn chores were done. Who loved animals and solitude and sunlight on red lakes. And who was chosen by an ottter - if only for a few minutes' teasing.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Christmas Come Early

Remember when you were a kid and you could just stare at your Christmas tree for hours? I have visceral memories of my brother and me sitting in front of our tree, just gazing at it. And it was more than the anticipation of presents. Sitting there awed by the lights and the way they made the garland twinkle, steeped in the piney smell... feeling warm, loved, and loving.

I remembered that feeling last night as Chris and I sat gazing at Piper. You see, Piper had surgery yesterday. Right on the heels of me posting that nasty poem about him not being manly, he had to go take on some barbed wire. To the tune of 5 stitches. And since he had to be put "completely under" (reassuring words), the vet asked if we would like him neutered right away too.

Aw, man!?! Is there any irony here? In his venture to prove his manliness, he ends up in a situation where he is going to be permanently un-"manned." Poor Piper.

So there we were without our puppy until 6:00 last night. No licks when I got home from school, no one constantly under Chris's and my feet. We needed our dog back! At 6:00 sharp, we were at that vet's office. Piper staggered out to the car with us and slept, snoring alternating with whimpering, all the way home.

We pulled our mattress into the living room and put his bed right next to it. Then we just sat there together. Looking at him. Counting his heartbeats, soothing his whimpers, being there every time he opened his eyes. It felt like those Christmases. Watching a tree where nothing much was happening. But there was a whole lot happening. And we all felt it.

Christmas come early.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Pusilanimous Piper

Pugilist he is not
Barks at benches
Whimpers at fleas
Runs into trees

A guard dog he
Will never be.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Shoveling Snow

I like the feel of it.
I like the tidiness of it.
I like the systematic nature of it. You wipe this quadrant clean and then begin the next rectilinear section.
I like the power of it - whipping all that snow off to the side, watching it cascade off of my shovel, the little snowflakes joining all the other snowy crystals who've already fallen prey to my efforts. (Fear not: my fantasies of world domination end here.)
I like the satisfaction of peering out the window - frequently - and seeing that our driveway is (still) free and clear.

Eat your hearts out, you warm weather wimps; I'm not jealous at all. Not a lick.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Pretty and Popular Problem

I'll begin by saying; I've never had it. Nor would I have considered being pretty and popular a problem. But today with my fifth graders my eyes were opened. At recess, I was taking pictures of the kids so we can work with the photos in our computer class.

Enter: Katrina Van Tassel and Ichabod Crane.

Ichabod: Can you take a picture of me with Katrina?
Triteacher: Sure, set it up and I'll snap it.

Minutes pass. Ichabod returns sans Katrina.

Ichabod: Can you take a picture of me with Katrina?
Triteacher: Sure, get Katrina and I'll take it.

This goes on... and then as recess is drawing to a close, I hear Ichabod asking Katrina to take a picture with him. "Will ya? Will ya?"

"Um, not right now, Ichabod. I'm having my picture taken with someone else." She was indeed posing with a group of her girlfriends.

In the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, my sympathies have always lain with Ichabod. In real life, I felt for Katrina. Being sought after because of your looks would suck. Katrina could never be anonymous or blend in. An activity like this has all the hangers-on wanting to be reflected in her glow.

And she is automatically assumed to speak out of and as representative for the pretty people of the world. Ichabod today concluded that Katrina was "stuck up." Aren't most good-looking people assumed to be stuck up? Jocks? Preps? Is she, or did she just want the anonymity that looking nondescript can provide? I have always taken this comfort for granted. Hmm...

More school... 5th grade love. They blow me away. They want so much to please. Sixth graders wanted to please for about the first 2 weeks of school. These kids want to please me even now in December. They aren't just a year younger - they're a whole different species. And, they're starting to think and speak more maturely now too - moving into the analytical, reflective thinking I enjoy. We laugh about the characters in the books we read and how they are reflective of our character traits. We had a thoughtul discussion of vanity this week and kids shared insights into their own vanity. Seeing them step outside of themselves to observe their own behaviors... wow.

Move over swimming; I might just be falling in love with my 5th graders.