Saturday, December 22, 2007

I Told You He was Good

So I had a few posts this fall on my bike, Serra, no? The custom-built Waterford that fit me like a dream and rode even better. Apparently I am not the only one who thinks he rocks. I received this message from my bike shop:

Dear Triteacher,

I'm forwarding the message that I received from Richard Schwinn. It looks like they were impressed with your bike and would like to use a photo of it on their web site. If you are interested, I'm sure that the details would be easy to iron out.

Bike Shop Guy

So guess who's being shipped to his photo shoot this morning? Movie contracts next??

Happy Holidays to everyone! I'm off to Denver for the duration. Catch you after the New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sack of Gold

"Sack of gold!"

I feel his arms wrap around my neck and by the time I hear the "duh" in gold, I am sagging beneath the full weight of my brother. I contort my 9 year-old body and try to twist away, but he is too quick and too determined. His arms extend like steel bands around my neck to my Adam's apple where his hands grasp each other in a death grip. His body sags down the length of my back, his feet drag in the lime behind mine. Up and down the barn aisle I will haul him until he is good and ready to let go.

Oh, I can plead, complain, and bemoan my fate all I want, but the unwritten rule in this unwritten game is that you pay for a lack of vigilance. The price is 80 pounds strapped to your back. You have to bear the "sack of gold." Indefinitely.

I was gifted a sack of heavy metal last week. It didn't even have the courtesy to holler "sack of gold" first. With a suddenness that knocked my breath away, it latched its ugly metallic tentacles around my neck. It lodged lead in my feet. My legs are comprised of cadmium with its sickly-blue hue, my heart cleaved into shards of Baraboo quartzite. My brain is a silvery blob of poisonous mercury, one idea rolling into another only to suddenly split off and meander into another dimension.

I am so heavy that I fear going swimming because I am sure to sink below the surface, to come to reside on the bottom of the pool where my cadmium cancer would be sure to swallow me whole - if the mercury didn't kill me first.

So instead, I've been unpacking the sack - my baggage. Looking at every nugget anew and calling into question what I once "knew" as TRUTH about myself and others. It has been painful - and shifty as mercury. Yet there are some things about which I am rock solid. Sack of gold reminded me of one of them.

Last night I phoned all eight of my siblings. We reminisced about playing Sack of Gold, and I glimpsed inside their lives to see what was in their bags.

Today, I still hurt. I still want to plead and complain and bemoan and begrudge and loathe and second-guess. I am still bearing this load. And it's heavy.

But man, it is a sack of GOLD. As in precious metal.

There are some nasty-bad nuggets in my bag, but mixed in with all of them, there are a few pieces - like my sibling relationships - that are definitively, purely... gold.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


I cried, I moped, I pouted
I raged
I was sweet
I was sexy
I wore his favorite clothes


I massaged his steely frame
I pumped him up
when he was low
You might even say
I "greased his chain"


I sought to gain purchase with gifts:
1) Tighter tights
2) Bigger, brighter headlamps
3) Racy tubes
4) A back-up tire
(I thought I was saying: I'm investing in this relationship. He heard: You're getting old.)

Then, I let go of my pride
Compromised my principles
I begged.
I want you for forever
and every day, but can't we even just have a

He yielded!
November 28, 2007
1:12.28, 19.7 MPH Avg., 24 miles, 29° F

Feminine wiles triUMPHant!

Knock Your Socks Off

I admit it.
I went into it cocky.
Told them I was going to
knock their socks off

They'd made it look so easy
I had visions of a gingerbread man extraordinaire
with a rose petal for a hat
My mind saw beautiful possibilities.

Then I took hold of the icing spoon
and the dream began to disintegrate
The icing plopped off the spoon
in goopy lumps
The sprinkles clumped together

- Heartless creatures! -
dubbed him
"Sumo Wrestler"
and sniggered about how I'd
knocked their socks off.


I dropped him
onto the floor
Knocked HIS sock off...

Coulda been so beautiful...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I. M. Slow.

Like molasses in the wintertime. Like the paint drying on Jezebel's tear-soaked cheeks. Like Wisconsin warming up on a November morning. I. M. Slow.

But I am doing it. Four miles. 41 minutes. 30°F with a wicked wind from the west.

Aaand... I'm calling myself a triathlete again. I think I've earned the title. Check out the math:

1 run + 1 swim + 1300 miles biking = Triathlete. Right?

In other news, I awoke at 5 AM yesterday to the sounds of my cat playing with the boombox. Fastforward the tape. *CLICK* Stop *CLICK* and rewind. *CLICK* Open the CD player. *CREE-ICK* I praised him for his dexterity with his paws - and promptly gave him the boot. But once awakened, do you think I could sleep again?

Today's winning wake-up call goes to the dog. Puking on my comforter at 7 AM.

Nope, I didn't fall back to sleep after that one either.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

She Moves On: Lipstick Need Not Apply

Give me a swimsuit, goggles and lapswim from 5-9AM any day. I did it. I swam for an hour yesterday morning. In that hour I was able to size up both my gym's new pool and myself...

TT to Lifeguard after timed 100s: "How long is this pool? It's longer than the old one, right?"

Lifeguard to TT (without batting an eyelash): "It's the same length as the old one - 25 meters. You're just slower."

OK, she didn't say that second part. That was me. But damn was I slower! I used to do 1:26s. Without batting an eyelash. I fondly remember last winter's reps of 8x100 on 1:40. (I batted lots of eyelashes on those, and sweated a lot too, but fondly. Yep, fondly.)

Yesterday I consistenly did 1: flippin' 35s. I had all I could do to catch my breath on 6x100 on 1:55. Shee-it. Two months off of swimming will slow a guy down!

During the ensuing 3 x 200 set, I went through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of grief. That being accomplished, I turned my frown upside down and made lemonade. I have a purpose. My goal is clear: I need to swim faster. I want 1:26s back. Sooner would be better than later, thank you.

It took me the duration of my cooldown 400 to formulate my 3-pronged plan of attack:
#1. Swim with Coach in the mornings. (He invited me forever ago, but my 5-6:30 AM time slot was otherwise occupied until now. But since I won't be spending time with HIM anymore... Ack. Do we even want to go there?? If you do, see Woman Scorned. I for one, am moving on. Yep. Gone.) My reasoning: the only way to swim faster is to... swim faster. I will with Coach.

#2. Coach once said that the difference between a good swimmer and a great swimmer is elbow position. I need to watch my elbows. Particularly my left. I'm dropping it on my pull. It has to, has to, has to stay high. Be the backhoe, right?

#3. Coach also told me that I was taking in too much air. He recommended not thinking of inhaling at all. Rather just open your mouth and allow for intake. It's true. With my way, I'm sucking in so much air that I almost hyperventilate and tire myself out more quickly. It sounds counterintuitive, but try it. Relax and just open your mouth and you'll tire less. I think. (I didn't get a lot of time to try this because right after I got this advice I met a certain someone and dropped everything for him, poured all my efforts into making him happy. Grrr... if you'd like to continue in this vein, see parenthesis for #1. I am moving on.)

I walked out of that pool with muscles smooth and supple from a good workout. And with a smooth, supple mental map of the long haul back to 1:26.

This morning I'm eyeing up my running shoes...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Triathlete, Teacher, and Woman Scorned

I have been a besotted, infatuated lover. Who has neglected to return phone calls, dropped friends, and been blind to the faults of the beloved. And now the love affair has come to a screeching halt and... and ... I am a mess.

Oh, for yesterday morning. Yes, it was a headwind and 33°, but I can bike in that. I did bike in that. Last night I walked out to SNOW. There was no way I could have biked home. Maybe skied. Or skated. There's plenty of ice.

Waaaaahhhhh! My lover has faults! His tires are too damn skinny to negotiate snow and ice. My water bottles would freeze before I was halfway home. It's dark both for my morning ride to school and my PM ride home from school. My heart is on the floor. I am on the floor throwing a major kicking and flailing tantrum. "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned" made true and painted red.

But then, amidst the tears and all, I spy my little black book. The ace up my sleeve. The rubber strap of a ... a ... swim goggle gingerly pokes its head out from under the piles of biking apparel. There is a teeny, tiny telltale blip in my heartbeat.

Do you think...? Nah! Preposterous. I haven't since.... my right shoulder... but lap swim is tomorrow from 5:00-9:00, my swimsuit is just fine, my swim bag very nearly as I left it (oh, ditched it!) all those many moons ago. I very nearly could. I might.

I will.

Tomorrow morning. Hello world - here comes TRIATHLETE and Teacher.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

New Constructions

I don't know how many of you have divorced or left a long-term beloved. I'm learning the language of it. Even though our divorce isn't final yet, I can't speak of him as "my husband" anymore. It's too confusing to my interlocutor. I don't want to give the impression that we're still together but neither do I want to say the clumsy "nearly-ex husband" because that sounds like I'm making some kind of statement.

So I'm developing new constructions. I refer to him as "a good friend" as in: Oh, a good friend of mine is training for a marathon too. I refer to him in very generic terms like "some people" as in: I agree with you on your landscaping ideas. Some people think that you should wait until you have the grand plan and start your project only then...

It has caused me no end of awkwardness in conversations up until now. I get to the point of "husband" or saying his name and stumble. Talking about seemingly innocuous topics - landscaping, for crying out loud - have caused me to pause awkwardly and face an uncomfortable amount of mental turmoil. No more. I've found the new constructions. Hallelujah. I can talk again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Ride

What is the shape of this
burning desire
that I house within...

A friend offers me a ride
"It's colder than you thought;
are you still going to ride?"
People shake their heads at me
"Are you STILL riding to school?"
I can only say

Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes
Soars my heart

3:25 tolls and I am in autopilot
I don the gear
slip into it with the efficiency
of long practice
By 3:40 I am out the door
into - yes
the cold
into - yes
the rain
into - yes
my groove

I am starving
my stomach growling
but I won't stop to eat
I'm too focused
it's just too good

The rain is coming down now
my glasses are foggy
but I will not stop
I can't
the motion
the power
the smooth syncronicity of my pedals and the wheels
are all I need

I turn onto Busy Highway
into a headwind
It doesn't faze me
I am almost made into
semi slurry
I dig deeper
pedal harder
a surge of adrenaline
that finds its outlet in yet more
fluid motion
that carries me to my door
too soon

I love to ride.

24.8 miles
18.0 MPH average
43°F, Rain

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ice Chips in my Water

24.65 miles
17.5 MPH Average

Started in the dark
Rode into the pink light
of a beautiful sunrise
Frost on the fields
Ice chips in my water
29°F on the bank clock
Cold toes

Warm smile

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Genesis of the Chick

It all began on a warm WIBA day
We were biking the Ironman Wisconsin course
Happy triathletes all,
Steve, Pharmie, TriAl,
Marty, Me, Bubba (front),
Positively radiating
heat, energy, joy, purity

And then lightning struck
I turned to my friend and said
This feels good.
I'm biking to see you
next week.
Yes, it's a 70 mile trip
and my longest ride so far
has been 28 miles
But this feels good.
I will do it.

And I did.
The Biker Chick was hatched.
I biked those 70 miles
over and over this summer.
Then September and school
made summer screech to a halt.
But I couldn't seem to brake Serra.

I started biking to school.
The days got shorter
The weather grew colder

I kept biking to school.
September, October,
now November

Will I be biking in December
January, February?

The chick has hatched
(Thank you, WIBA)
The gauntlet has been dropped
The gear has been bought
The rider is ready.

Now just to bribe, cajole
plead with, combat
that little thing called
Old Man Winter.

Unveiling Biker Chick

I look at my old blog
and realize that I am in a new spot.
I have been biking A LOT.
My old self would never have called herself a biker.
I am a BIKER CHICK now.
Yep. Capital letters even.

I hardly do races anymore
My swimsuits have forgotten the feel of water
My running shoes wouldn't recognize gravel
if it were ground into their treads.

I just bike.
To school, from school,
and then on the weekends for kicks.

Now this is all fine and heady stuff
but I'm sure you're wondering
what gives this woman the right
to call herself a BIKER CHICK
(audacious, I know)

Here's a sampling of the numbers, folks...
Oct. 29-Nov. 4: 164 miles
Including one 33° ride
and many rides in the dark
(Yes, my middle name is gear:
Biker Gearhead Chick)

I'm averaging 125 miles per week.
For the first time in my life, I'm hoping for a winter without snow. I want to ride. Every day. I obsessively check the weather. Will I have a headwind or a tailwind? How many layers will I have to wear?

I get tingly when I lay out my clothes the night before.
I positively vibrate when I see tailwinds for both my AM & PM rides.
It is compulsive.
It is mandatory for decent Triteacher existence.
So I yield to it.
I am a Biker Chick.

She Can Be Found

She can be found
on a bike
in a pool
on the running trail

Who is she?
True north
The one who sees clearly
who thinks rationally
who loves deeply
who lives joyously
She is the true me
The gravity spot
of my existence.

Heaven is a state of mind
Find her.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Morning Fog

I wore the fog like a cloak this morning
It made everything warmer
And closer
My headlamp couldn’t cut it
So my bike and I were on our own
We sliced through it
Slid through it
Glided through it

And then it started to get light out
But the fog was still there
Obscuring the road
and the fields to either side
Velvety moist mist muting
even the green of the grass

Looking out
pushed me back in
Solitude hit me
I was the only being in the world
Just me and cool gray road
My thumbs perched
On my aerobars
Seemed Technicolor in their peachiness
Vitality in the midst
of gray-white heaviness
Serra and I glided along
Taking this phantom vitality
further down the road
Sliding through the fog

And then I spotted a walker
A stranger
On a sideroad
Wearing a brilliant reflective vest
waved vigorously


With that wave
I leapt back
into the ocean of humanity

This morning was special.
She knew it too.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Love My Job

Where have I been? Obviously not blogging. I have been busy with many things - good for the most part: biking, a new relationship, patching up my old relationship (we're becoming friends!), and school.

School has been consuming me. It always does, but I always forget how wrapped up in it I get. And I love my job. Today's highlight came when I was subbing for another teacher. I got to talk to a handful of kids who I taught my first year here. They're seniors now. It is amazing how much they've changed. One girl, in particular, gave me hell in 6th grade. She was a snotty (though smart) little hair-tosser. We had found our peace by the end of the year, but today... it was really cool. We talked about what she's interested in career/college/lifewise. It was a conversation I would have had with my niece - very comfortable. And wow. Has she matured. I love seeing these kids grow up. My job is fulfilling.

And finally - after bouncing around grade levels and job titles for 8 years - I'm finding where I fit. I am a middle school Reading Teacher. While it was enjoyable talking to those high schoolers today and I enjoy the one section of high school that I teach, I belong with middle schoolers. In a Reading classroom. Talking about books and characters - which really means telling our stories to each other, helping these very energetic, very talkative, very curious adolescents see themselves and others. It's real stuff. And I love it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Lightning Finds Me

4:30 AM
I awoke to a flash of lightning
followed shortly by a HUGE crack of thunder
Lightning found me.

I jumped out of bed ready to ride.
I want to face this storm
I want to ride it out
I want to be in it
to live in it
to be tossed and turned
to be scared out of my wits
but stay true
to me
the motion.

By the time you read this
I will be on my bike...

7:30 AM Addition
I made it to school high and (nearly) dry. The gods put away their sabers and stopped shedding each other's blood the minute I stepped out the door.

Pussies. Afraid of a little girl on a bike.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

IM Wisconsin 2007 Volunteer Report

What does an Ironman do for you?

It gives you time out of life
a time of complete focus
Even as a spectator this year
I was focused on the athlete
the individual swimmer who was cramping
and screaming in agony as he clung to my kayak.
I sounded three whistle blasts to
summon a boat to pull another wretching,
pale athlete out of his Lake Monona misery.

And then, with the majority of the athletes out of the water
came my favorite part of swim support...
We got to adopt a swimmer
I shadowed #1820 from mile 1.9 to mile 2.4
He'd poke his head up every once in a while
and I'd point him in the right direction.
In those 25 minutes, getting #1820,
- a complete stranger -
back to the beach
was my mission in life.
Seeing him crawl out of the water and stand on the beach
at last
and hearing his name
was sublime.

Our time out of life continued in Verona
where my friend and I were completely absorbed
in watching those Ironbikers roll on by.

We saw and clapped/shouted ourselves silly for...
  • A friend who had hypothermia at last year's race and spent 40 minutes in T2 - a deathknoll to her Kona dream. She finished in 11:25 yesterday.
  • A smiling Rural Girl who whizzed by so fast I could barely identify her. By her second time through, we had learned to watch in fast forward and cheered our lungs out for her. What a racer!!
  • Bubba in his Spiderman shirt. No mistaking him!
  • Steve, the hairless wonder. He rode Rhonda fast and true.
  • Trigreyhound who I first was sure of after seeing his name on the back of his bib. Even belatedly though, he heard me yell, "Go Greyhound!" and - class act that he is - took the time to lift a hand off of his handlebars and acknowledge my yell with a fist pump.
  • TriShannon who turned around with this huge smile when I yelled her name - but is probably still wondering who the heck I was. :)
  • Erin - truly "The Smiling Girl" - she knows the way to do an Ironman.
  • Pharmie - who heard us the second time we yelled, "Go Pharmie" and burned us with the brightness of that smile.
  • JWM - Who I thought was so focused that he didn't even realize that this crazy lady yelling "Go JWM! Go JWM!" was talking to him. Later I found out that he'd been looking up for every "Good job" thinking it was "Go JWM" and his neck was getting tired. So, "Go JWM!" anyways!
  • IronWil - who I also only recognized after she'd passed. But cool x 10, she acknowledged my yell with a fist pump and a smile.

As you can see, smiles were a common theme yesterday. All of these people were happy to be doing 140.6. Wow.

Heartfelt congratulations to all of you Ironmen out there! You are inspiring.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Great River Relay Race Report: My First Leg

Subtitle: How I Became an Ultra Runner Without Even Trying

Leg 2 of GRR supposed to be 7.4 miles, projected time 58 minutes

I stood in the exchange area and yelled myself silly telling my cousin Dan how awesome he was. He is a newbie to running. He took it up to train for this race. And now he was letting his adrenaline carry him. He smoked into the exchange and slapped the relay-bracelet on my wrist 20 minutes ahead of his projected time. Woof.

I pushed my watch and was off, ready to follow the advice I'd given Dan earlier, "Screw conventional wisdom. If you're feeling the adrenaline, run with it. Run like you mean it." He'd apparently taken the advice to heart.

As I was prepared to do. I headed down the Great River Trail, letting my legs and my adrenaline carry me. It felt divine. My brother Cam, our team captain, had plugged my 10K time into GRR's prediction software and I was projected to do this thing in 58 minutes. I switched on auto-pilot. Like clockwork. Like butta.

I ran along the trail drowning out the cicada symphony - the mighty Mississippi River on my left, wooded bluffs on my right - with the hum of my thoughts. A sampling?
  • Geez! I really need to "kick it." Wonder if that grass over there would be OK to wipe with. Nah, looks too sharp. I'll keep going.
  • Hmmm... I wonder what I should have for lunch. Ooh, I'd eat ANYTHING right now... A Culver's turtle sundae. No, a sub sandwich with turkey and provolone. Mmmmm.
Yes, I admit it. 90% of my thoughts on that beautiful run were concerned with output and input.

BUT the other 10% were on the people that I love in the world. At points on the trail, my face split into a goofy grin just because I remembered that my mom was alive and breathing in this world. Was, in fact, volunteering at Exchange #4. I pictured her there, wearing one of the 30 black and pink polka-dotted "Sarah is 40" sashes she had made for the team. Then my grin got even wider as I thought of my OLDER sister turning 40. Hee. Hee.

I cruised along in this blissful, gloating state, with not another runner in sight, for about 57 minutes before I started to wonder. I had heard cheering off to my right a while back, but no sign had indicated a turn off the trail so I kept running. Then I got to 63 minutes and still had no indication of race signs or race volunteers. I crossed a huge wooden railroad trestle that had been converted to a running trail bridge while, at the same time, a train paralleled me just 100 yards down the gorge on an active trestle, tooting away. I took in the smell of the creosote-soaked wood and the romantic whistle of the train. My mind was transported miles away again.

And came lurching back at 68 minutes out. Whoa. I crunched the numbers. I should definitely be there by now! I decided to turn around and retrace my steps until I came to the last sign I had seen. I had no recollection of how far back it had been, but figured it couldn't have been more than 10 minutes. No biggie.

10 minutes passed. No signs. No humans.
20 minutes passed. No signs. No humans.

I'm getting nervous. I start playing the worry tape. Second-guessing the distance of this leg. Was it longer than I remembered? Should I have kept on the trail another 2 minutes? What was my team doing? Were they being held up because of me? I'm getting thirsty and have no water left. I'm hungry and am out of Gu. My legs hurt. My longest training run was 1 1/2 hours. I'm at 1:28 right now with no end in sight. Just loooooooong straight flat wooded stinkin' trail. Shit! What if I die out here??

FINALLY, at 1:38, I spied another runner. A high school kid loped down the path toward me. I stopped him and asked if he was Leg 2 of the Great River Relay. Yep. Was he sure he knew the route? Yes, just stay on the trail, he thought.

Then I told him my story. The damn kid had the audacity to ask, "Did you look carefully? Are you SURE there were no signs at the crossings?" Um, ye-ah. When a person thinks they're lost, they sort of look reeeally carefully on their way back to civilization! Then he says, "Well, I was a little dazed when I passed that last sign. But it's like one or two miles back."

My heart sank. Dazed Damn Kid turned back the way he'd come and loped off. I walked for 12 minutes, cursing myself and replaying the worry tape. Then I shook myself and remembered Dean Karnazes's Ultramarathon Man. A non-runner, he left a bar one night and ran 30 miles. That was the start of his ultra-running career. OK, I thought, I'm just Dean-in-Training. That cheered me considerably and I began to trot.

At 1:55, I saw the Kid way in the distance. He had stopped in front of something orange. Then he took off down the road to the left. I reached the road and discovered a three-foot high, bright orange sign with an arrow that clearly indicated that one was to turn right down the road. I walked around it twice, scrutinizing it. I even put a tentative hand out and touched it. It was real. There's NO WAY that sign was there when I'd gone through the first time. But, be that as it may, I still had a run to do. In my foggy state, I decided to run now, think about the sign later.

Now runners were coming pretty steady. I fell in with another woman and told her my story. She empathized and hung with me for awhile. And informed me that we were only 3.75 miles into this 7.2 miler. After she left my side, I despaired again. Cue worry tapes. Screw Dean-in-Training (DIT) - I was a DITZ! And I was thirsty and hungry. Plus my legs hurt. Waaaahhh!

Shake, shake, shake. I calmed myself. I needed a plan. I would keep running, Dean-style, until I saw another team's van. Then I would ask for their cell phone and call my team. At 2:14, I approached a van with a group of wildly-cheering 20-somethings dancing about. I briefly told them my story and asked to use their cell phone.

Dan answered on the first ring. "Where are you?? We've been looking for you for the last hour! Are you OK?" I managed to squeak out my location. He said they'd be right back to pick me up. I thanked the dancers and started to run down the road again, only belatedly thinking to query, "Who are you guys?" and simultaneously snapped my eyes to the side of their van where their team name was written.

"A... Fucking... Badass... Runners...." They cheered wildly as I pronounced the last syllable with all the energy my calorie-deficient, brain-deficient self could muster. I gave them a smile and a wave and was off.

At 2:24 my van came into sight. Leg 2 of GRR was supposed to total 7.4 miles. My actual was closer to 15 miles.

After I hit my watch, I drank in the sight of my teammates. Dan opened the door and pulled me in. We swapped stories. Tom was running the next leg and Cam was at the exchange after that, ready to run his leg. Within minutes of me going over-time, Cam knew that I was either lost or hurt. He'd made the executive decision to get Tom going, send a sweep for me, and then trust me to find a cell phone and call them. They'd notified race volunteers who'd informed them that other runners on the early teams had made my mistake (but had realized it sooner!) and that they'd fixed the problem with a that big orange sign.

We were all reunited at Exchange #4 where my mom hugged me and shook her head, "Were you looking for that Illinois state line again?" That officially signaled the break between the concerned-for-Triteacher stage and let-the-ribbing-begin stage. I will be hearing about this until I'm at least 80!!

I informed my team that, on the bright side, I'd had plenty of time to plan lunch. Later that afternoon, we made a bucolic little scene in Merrick State Park. We'd put to bed the first legs of our GRR adventure. We had 4 hours to relax while our other vanload of runners ran their set of legs. And we munched Triteacher-styled turkey and provolone sandwiches.

As if this wasn't enough, there is more yet to come:
My second leg, Leg 14, 8.2 miles - Running in the Dark, but Not Getting Lost (Woohoo!)
My third leg, Leg 26, 4.4 miles that became 7.2 miles. - Eye Candy Saves the Day

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Rockstar Sighted

Hey! So I'm back from Ragnar Great River Relay and it was un-bee-lieve-able. The running rocked, my teammates were superb (when we complained about our soreness, it was our ribs and abs to which we referred - we laughed sooooo much) AND I sighted a rockstar. At three checkpoints, I noticed this smiling woman herding her team around, supporting them, and every time I had that nagging sensation that she looked familiar. FINALLY on the third time, it hit me, and I screwed up the courage to approach tri-royalty.

"Trimama?" I asked. Sure enough, it was her. We chatted for a bit - laughing, swapping war stories - and then, *boom* as it goes in the fast-paced world of relay races, she was off like a shooting (rock)star in the night.

Meeting Trimama was great, and I have even more highlights from this race, which include:
1) Why it took me 2:24 to do my first leg of 7.4 miles.
2) How it feels to run at 10PM when something loud is crashing through the woods along side you.
3) How "Stick a fork in these legs - they're done" can give way to the run of one's life. (Teaser: Eye Candy played a major role.)

More details to come once I drift my way out of this twilight zone induced by a sleep-deprived INTENSE race weekend and needing to get ready for school tomorrow... Later!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm not Training for Ironman why am I out here doing this run?? My shoes are squishy wet, my wine-sloshing belly is flashing the residents of this poor town, and I'm burping spaghetti & Italian dressing.

I shouldn't have been out running tonight. There were many signs that it wasn't to be yet I had made the mistake (curses!) of visiting TriGreyhound and had gotten all inspired in spite of myself and before I could control my fingers, I had dashed off a comment saying I was going to go for a run. But I didn't mean to flash my belly. Really. I am a 35 year-old TEACHER, for cryin' out loud. But let's be honest, 35 and my profession really have nothing to do with it. I've been waiting my whole life for my cute little midriff to materialize.

But, no, I have Ponch. The belly bulge that's been with me from 89.7 pound anorexic to 174 pound compulsive overeater. And granted, she's made of iron; I can eat and drink and still pop off a run. Like I did tonight. But still, while I embrace Ponch, I like to do my embracing in the privacy of my own home. But alas, all of my top-dog running clothes are packed for this relay race I'm doing this weekend. So after I left TG that flippin' comment, I was forced to forage. I came out with a bike shirt that was too short in the front, running shorts that reach my knees, and granny undies that reach my rib cage. Which did have the advantage of sticking out over the top of my running shorts and sort of covering a sliver of wine-swilling Ponch.

So why would I drink before a run? Because I wasn't going to run! I had resigned myself to that earlier today. Rewind. Earlier scene: I don my 2nd-to-the-bottom-tier running clothes, all ready to bike to the trail when I get the brainy idea of running a library errand first. So I do. I get my books safely INto the library and come OUT loaded with the extra large, teacher stack of reserves that had come in. To a deluge. I stood by my bike under the eaves of the library, hunkering over my books, wrapping them in a spare plastic bag I keep for just such emergencies. I decided to give the rain 10 minutes to subside. I waited out 3 teenagers (they all screamed off on their bikes after about 2 minutes) and a ballet dancer.

She tiptoed her way down the sidewalk into the library. She was wearing some kind of ballet-slipper-looking shoes that she was apparently very interested in keeping dry. She commented, "It's refreshing, isn't it?" I nodded and said, "Yep." Then she emerged 7 minutes later clutching her books in a plastic bag and tiptoed to the curb. There she stepped off into the street into ANKLE DEEP water. She was out of range before I could say, "Yep, refreshing."

But the ballet lady had wiped my windshield. I knew I had to make a move or be stranded at the library by the hundred-year flash flood. My 2-mile ride home was a blur of cars spraying me, teenagers running under the eaves of their houses, and lotso thunder and lightning. I arrived home drenched. I wrung the water out of my clothing and hung it all in the shower. I cozied up with a glass of wine, salad, a plate of spaghetti and my computer. I ate the salad and spaghetti. I sipped half of the glass of wine down, and surfed. Only to land on Trigreyhound's inspirational post. The rest, as they say, is history.

I went for a run tonight. I flashed my city. I got wet. And it was good.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rainy Places

You wake up from a nap
on a rainy day
and with eyes still squeezed shut
you play the game:
Where are you?

So many places you could be
You could be Home-Home
Just on the verge of dragging
every towel of Mom's
out to the calf hutches
where you and Jenny
will set up house
Where for an hour or two
you will be the adults

You could be in one of the adult spots
It could be in the Old Place
where rainy days meant
days of Scrabble
and warm mugs of tea
Curling up
and M&Ms

Unable to resist
your eyes shoot open
They encounter the New Place
rain off the patio
soaked evergreens
puddles on the sidewalk
little girls floating
shoeboxes attached to string
A friend in his easy chair
a pensive finger to his lips
So many places you could be.

Where are you on this rainy day?

Friday, August 17, 2007

River Rat

We drove down the back country road and were amazed at the scene that surrounded us. The river was flooded. It had seeped its way right up to the road. Tree trunks were submerged from toe to girdle. My friends whooped. Our kayaks shivered in anticipation. I swear I heard the Sugar say, "Welcome, Teach. I've got a thing or two to teach you about swimming." My belly quivered.

Kayaks unloaded, and with 20 minutes to kill while a car was shuttled to the takeout point, I stood on that foreshortened shoreline. I pulled on my swimcap, wet my goggles, stretched my shoulders, and sized up the Sugar.

I never have been good with sizes.

My first step in took me over my head. I had chosen to step right off the edge of the former river bank. Never to fear, I know how to swim. I thought. I struck out for the middle of the channel, neatly crawling my way along, thinking I was the boss of this bus. I attained the middle and looked over my to my friends on shore. Huh, how'd they get up there?

OK, I would just swim back upstream to them. I maintained the illusion that I was in charge for another 15 seconds or so. Neat strokes and controlled breathing rapidly deteriorated into pure flailing for all I was worth.

To no avail. My attempts left me gasping for air, shoulders aching - and mere feet farther upstream. I changed tactics (midstream as it were) and angled for the side. I reached it and grabbed hold of some bushes and hauled myself, hand-over-hand, branch-over-branch to the landing.

Standing on the shoreline, I shook myself out. My friends shook their heads. But I was ebullient. "I've never swum in anything like this before! I couldn't even swim upstream! I understand how people get swept away and drown." Safety Friend hastened to grab the rescue buoy and clung to it with one eye and me with the other. He knew that I intended to have another go at that river.

I was scratched and bruised, but I had learned. Let the current take you downstream but swim diagonally to shore so you can catch onto something. Anything will do. I continued to add to my collection of scratches and bruises. And to my appreciation for the power of water.

By the time my companions returned from the shuttle, I was ready to sit for a while. We put our kayaks in. I stayed with my paddling friends, on top of the water - above the water - dodging obstacles and wending our way through flooded forest land for 2 hours. Then the swimmer in me poked at my insides. I craved more. Communion with that water. A need to be swept away but to regain myself, find my strength, strategize for equilibrium in the midst of an awesome power.

My friend barely grabbed my kayak and I was off. River-rat-diving under the surface, swimming faster than I had a right to. The current allowed me to keep up with the kayaks. I picked up my head, saw the kayaks pacing ahead of me, and yelled, "I feel like the lead swimmer at Ironman!" I dove, I crawled, I somersaulted and dragged my fingers along the bottom, tracing wavy lines into the sand, feeling that river with my fingers, drinking it in with my face - a tactile overload - down to my bones.

And then I remembered the logs. We dodge them and jump them and limbo them in kayaks. What could a swimmer do? Welcome to LogLand - a playground that's not sure if it's marine or terrestrial. I was never able to tell a log's stability until I hoisted myself up onto it and started my walk down its gangplank. Some sunk slowly beneath my weight, just allowing me to dive before it sunk me completely. Others held fast and allowed me to walk their length - dip walking just to be fancy (and really, what an aptly named walk for me) - to choose a diving spot of my own.

Then I was swept into that current again, swimming, diving under, flipping, writing my life story in the sand - free. I swam like that until my legs were gelatinous. Until stroking downstream made my shoulders protest. But how can you end such a swim? How can you willfully close a chapter in which you feel beautiful, at one, at peace?

You can grab a friend's hand and let him help you into your kayak. Accept a peck on the cheek, a beaming smile on your face, a sparkle in his eyes.

You can go from one beauty to the next.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Wishing You Stubbornness

OK, all you Wisconsin & Louisville Ironman-trainees, I'm thinking of you. In preparation for school, I am reading Everest Book II: The Climb, by Gordon Korman. I came across this passage and thought of you all...

"In the Icefall, an alpinist relied not on technical skill, but on a mixture of courage, blind faith, and pure stubbornness that bordered on insanity."

Your big day is approaching. I wish you pure stubbornness - just short of insanity. K? :)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

RMC Sprint Triathlon Race Report

The Swim
I stood in the water with 72 other women, shivering, chatting nervously, reassuring each other. I had tried out my new bike tire and goggles, I had visualized my transitions, I had warmed up with a swim. All that remained now was to do this race. I stood in the middle of a pack of kindred spirits who were just about to clobber each other and - at the blow of an airhorn - we were off. It went quickly. Crawl, thrash, dodge, thump, and yes... clobber.

The swim: 500 meters. 8:26.

I exited that water in Race Mode. I heard the spectators, waved at my beloved cheering section, but was - in a way - oblivious to them. Wrapped up in that internal drum that is Race Mode. It's singular and solitary and oh-so-compelling. My T1 went beautifully. I found Serra right away, frantically - and with not a little vertigo - put on my socks and bike shoes. On went my race helmet and then my race belt. On to Serra I went.

T1: 1:09

The Bike

The bike course wound out of the Green Lake Conference Center grounds and into the country. I had ridden pieces of the route last year during Ironman training. (Where didn't I ride last year for IM training?) I remembered it being exceptionally hilly. It was. I am dubbing it "The 30 Hills in 15 Miles Route." That's a compliment.

I did the usual jockeying for position with two tall men on blue bikes. They'd pass me on the uphills and I'd pass them back on the downhills and flats. My mantra of the day was, "This is a sprint. Sprint." I pushed the whole way, EXCEPT the two times I dropped my chain. I coached myself: Slow down. Be gentle with the derailleur so you can get the chain back on by just spinning NOT dismounting.

My quads hurt like hell, begged me for an ice bath, begged me for a nap, or at least to ease up. I staunchly ignored them - and even may have pushed a little harder just to show them who's boss. Ha! I refueled them with about 10 oz. of Gatorade and 2 sips of water. I was careful not to overdo the drinking, having sloshed my way through races before.

Serra felt good. He accelerated like a dream. He's very light under me. I appreciated that lightness immensely as one hill led to another hill to another to another... pretty country. Tough country. As I neared the entrance back into the Conference Center grounds, I came up on the first woman I'd seen in about 12 miles. I "good jobbed" her and passed her. I wondered how many other women were ahead of me.

The volunteers and crowds picked up as I got further onto the conference grounds. I heard T2 well before I saw it. I shouted to anyone who would listen, but to my cheering section in particular, "Now that was a bike course! 30 hills in 15 miles!"

The bike: 15 miles. 47:07.

I dismounted Serra and crossed the chip mat. Then a volunteer uttered the fateful words, "The first place woman is in the transition. Go get her."

Pump, thump, pump! Endorphins! I screamed through T2.

T2: 0:33 (FYI I have never transitioned that fast in my life!)

The Run

As I crossed the chip mat to exit T2, I saw the #1 woman in front of me. She was lean and strong and mighty hungry looking. But I was too. I don't know what got into my legs but they just went. I passed her within the first 100 yards of the run. I was out of my body. I was flying. My cheering section yelled, "Pace it out, Teach!" I smiled and pretty much exuded exhilaration. And kept running like hell.

When you're running really hard, do you ever feel as though someone has thrust a spear through your temples? I felt this and thought, "Yes! This is how it's supposed to feel. I'm running fast enough." I kept running at spear-through-the-temples-pace, breathing hard, feeling... good. Happy to be racing. Feeling... nervous. Threatened by the thought of the woman behind me. Feeling... in tune, alive, panting, wheezing and focused. I stopped for no water, for nothing. For no thing.

I had enough left to sprint the last 50 yards into the finish chute. The spectators were wild, the cheering fueled my flames. I crossed the line and heard my name. The run: 5k, 22:07

Overall: 1:19:19
#1/73 Female
#11/204 Overall


The aftermath: I can now say that this season has hosted the BEST race of my career and the WORST. I can reiterate that my cheering section rocks. I cannot post any pictures of my huge trophy (Fe-lady) because I won, instead, a medal and a bottle of wine. I could post some pictures of me after drinking said bottle of wine, but... I won't.

Let's just leave it at, "Cheers, everyone."

Saturday, August 04, 2007

First Female!!!!

Just back from my sprint tri - the local one I've done since its inception nine years ago - and (drumroll please) I was first female! I'm pumped, happy, feelin' good. Details to follow... :)

Friday, August 03, 2007

The Apartment Kids: Biker Chick

Black matted hair
and sagging diaper
she stomps an angry foot
at retreating older sister's back
releases a few screams
but sees the futility

She turns back to the bike
on her own
screws up her lip
first mounts and tries pushing the pedals
but quickly realizes her own
and pushes on the handlebars
negotiates them around a 360
but the bike goes nowhere

She steps back from the bike
a 30 year old problem-solving eye
peering out of that 3 year old face

The bike responds as she pushes on its seat
Soon she and the bike are motoring down the sidewalk
after the elder sister
Who's to point out that she is not precisely riding it?
Girl and bike are in motion

A biker chick is born.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Delavan Lake Tri Race Report

Author's Note: This started out as a list of what I've accomplished in my time as an MIA blogger. CATCH: #1 on the list turned into over 800 words. I decided that some stories just need to be told. So here you have it - my first tri of the 2007 season. Read it and weep. (I did.)

When: June 2nd
Where: Delavan, WI
What: Oly distance
Why: Pfft!

Morning nearly dawned. I was up at 3:45 AM, positively itching to race. I was on the road by 4:15.

Only to hit a deer. Or, more accurately, the deer hit me. I had stopped for it, but after loping across the highway in front of me, it decided that the grass was greener on the previous side, turned around, and ran into the driver's side of my car. Scared the living bejeezus out of me. On shaky legs, I got out of the car, determined that the car was still drivable, determined that I was still drive-able, and continued on. I had a race to do.

Packet pickup and prep were uneventful, and I was race-ready by 7AM. But the race wasn't ready for me. Or the other 200 athletes on the beach. So we stood there. Talking, pushing our toes around in the sand, craning our necks to see if the race director was off his phone yet and ready to start the race... at 7:27, we finally started.

The swim felt beautiful. No kicks, no thumps, no hyperventilating. I felt smooth, calm, and very connected. I came out of the water in 21 minutes and charged to my bike. This was Serra's first race of the year, and "excited" does not touch how I felt about trying out my new steed.

He was fast.

Every time I looked down at the Cateye we were over 20 MPH. I was flying. It felt great, sublime, superb -and lots of other adjectives - to be racing at last. I passed a lot of people, "good jobbing" my way through the masses. Then, the short course and the long course split off and the crowds thinned. At about mile 9 I saw another soul and passed him, taking the lead on open country roads. That's where it got interesting. I kept going straight down that road, watching for the teeny race signs that indicated turns.

I kept going straight down that road, watching for the teeny signs that indicated turns.
I saw open fields, blacktop, cows, people working in their yards.

I kept going straight down that road, watching for the teeny signs that indicated turns.
I rode through a town of about 300 souls. I looked behind me at the guy I had passed earlier. He was still following me. I slowed down and let him catch up to me. "Do you think we're still on course?" I asked him. "I haven't seen any signs," said he. So...

I kept going straight down that road, watching for the teeny signs that indicated turns.
I crossed the Illinois state line.
EEEEEEERK. Clue. I am off course.
Sh!t, Sh!t, Sh!t! Serra and I had been bookin', truckin', takin' no prisoners.
I turned around to see if Mr.-No-Signs-in-Sight was still behind me. NOPE. I'll never know when he bailed, but bail he did.

So Serra and I decided to go another mile to ensure that we did 25 miles total - on an out-and-back course - and turned around. Easy-peezy, right?

  • I tried following those teeny signs in reverse, and that turned out -- hopelessly. Soon, I no longer had any clue if I was coming or going (literally). And were those signs for the sprint or the oly?? I re-gave up and made it my goal to get back to the lake.
  • I stopped and asked for directions 3 times.
  • I slowed down and smelled the roses, ate all of my Clif and Gu, and laughed at myself. (Once I was done cursing.)
  • I made it back to the turn for the lake and saw the first volunteer that I'd seen in over 30 minutes. I came from the wrong direction and shouted so to her. She just nodded her head sympathetically and waved me in.
  • I had done 30.6 miles on a 25-mile course. And averaged 19.1 MPH. (No comment. About what "coulda been" or otherwise!)
  • I landed in the transition area and poured out my story of woe to my sag wagon friend. Only to hear other athletes singing my song: "I did 27 flippin' miles!" The volunteers, looking a little rueful and sheepish but still smiling -still volunteering - said that many bikers had gone off course.
  • Sag wagon friend commented, "Hey. I just counted. There were 19 turns in that 25 mile course."
  • Oh.
I took a deep breath and prepared to run the six 1-mile loops required to put a period at the end of this race. Then, I spied my timing chip laying in the grass next to my wetsuit. My timing chip that should have been on my ankle for the last hour and 35 minutes. That was it.

I picked up the chip, considering it, a crystalline idea plonking me over the head - some things are not meant to be. I turned the chip in at the finish line, thanked the volunteers (who offered me a case of water for my efforts), and went for a run with my friend by beautiful Lake Geneva.

So there you have it. The first installment of "What I've Accomplished Since Being an MIA Blogger." It ain't pretty, but it's true. My car no longer has the dent, I'm sure the deer has long since moved on to greener pastures, and I? Yes. Greener pastures and long days on a blue bike. More to come...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ninety Degrees

You sit in a 90° parking lot
sweating bullets
in a deer-crushed car
that allows only inches
of air
to blow over you
to cool your indecision

It is a 90° turn you are considering
an apartment
at a 30-mile distance
from him
from her
- the person that you were.

an open door
to ... What?
New vistas?

Times of loneliness?
Moments of regret, sadness?

And here I am.
In the new place
in a room of my own.
I did it.

I am here.
In the middle of all this.
I still have my self
- with a 90° difference -
in a spot of
cool light
and sweet spaces.

In a spot with
to explore
to be
to write

I am here.
I am home.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


It is 56 in the valley
with a fog thick, milky
and so smooth you
could cut it with a butter knife

Every blade of grass
wears a mantel of moisture
to wet a bird's beak

Piper and I climb
toward the sun
just making its debut
stretching its rays
reaching for the fog
ready to burn it off
to lift the valley into light

With warmth on my face
and wet on my feet
I am thinking.

I realize with a start
that for once
it's not
the agonizing haze of
of warped concentration on
my Situation.

I am ready
to see the world
to think of my students
to pull two girls

one a misfit
one a depressive
- both brilliant

out of themselves and
into a book club
into the warmth
and companionship
that kindred spirits can supply.
I am ready to save them
- or at least give it a try.

Irony strikes.
They have saved me
Their obvious need
has compelled me...
has burned off my fog.

I have some reciprocating to do.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

The kind
of kindness
that you don't expect
from people who
"owe" you nothing

A tattoo-clad man
and his tween son
watching over me
as I swam through
Jet ski-infested waters today

The bloggers who read
who listen
who comment
as I swim through
tumultuous waters
of a different sort

Sometimes the kind
of kindness
you don't expect
is the most reassuring of all -
People are good.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Maya Angelou Poem

enough money within her control to move out
and rent a place of her own even if she never wants
to or needs to...

something perfect to wear if the employer or date of her dreams wants
to see her in an hour...

a youth she's content to leave behind....

a past juicy enough that she's looking forward to
retelling it in her old age....

a set of screwdrivers, a cordless drill, and a black
lace bra...

one friend who always makes her laugh... and one who
lets her cry...

a good piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone
else in her family...

eight matching plates, wine glasses with stems, and a
recipe for a meal that will make her guests feel honored...

a feeling of control over her destiny...

how to fall in love without losing herself...


when to try harder... and WHEN TO WALK AWAY...

that she can't change the length of her calves,
the width of her hips, or the nature of her parents..

that her childhood may not have been perfect...but its over...

what she would and wouldn't do for love or more...

how to live alone... even if she doesn't like it...

whom she can trust,
whom she can't,
and why she shouldn't
take it personally...

where to go...
be it to her best friend's kitchen table...
or a charming inn in the woods...
when her soul needs soothing...

what she can and can't accomplish in a day...
a month...and a year...

Friday, June 08, 2007


I was in
68 degree heat
68 percent humidity
at 6:00 in the morning
I was at
141 bpm
for 31:58.
I was.

I saw
the exodus
of the town's gray hairs
on a Lamer's bus
From cashed-out parking lot
to coin-craving slots
in air-conditioned comfort.

I ran to the top of the world
on a gravel path fanned by grasses
Funneling me into nature's beauty
a lover in the morning
Alive and alert

I descended
and saw
Panchito Sanchez
on his porch
gave him a wave
he nodded back
Biding his time
until the work bell clang

I was in Saturday's race
finding my core
finding my strength
to go fast
to be true
every second
to wheeze
to hurt
to break through
to emerge

I went for a run this morning
I was in the moment
And beyond
I never left city limits
I went everywhere this morning.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Meet Serra

Silent Saturdays
slide by in his saddle
The boy named Serra
just like Johnny Cash's Sue
will fight anyone who
dares oppose his name.
That's just what I want
- A fighter.

Blogosphere, meet Serra.
A custom-built Waterford bike
frame weight 3 lbs, 4 oz.
Total build 18.5 pounds.
Hand-built wheels 1401 grams
Acceleration 0 to 20 in seconds.
Middle name?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Long Tall Texan

I stand on the gunwale,
packing my round
Wisconsin self
into last year's wetsuit.

Out of the radio
pops Lyle Lovett
crooning Long Tall Texan.


Dripping sweat
and nervous to my toes,
I take the plunge.

I am rewarded
with 59 degree water
in my suit
up my nose.

My wetsuit remembers
and bobs me to the surface
I give the boat one last look
and turn my face into the water
ready to meet it on its terms.

They are chilly terms.
Chilly to my cheeks
Chilly to my hands.

chilly terms.

I first train myself to use my breath
Happy exhalations
bubble and gurgle
warming my face

For my hands there is only
Swim Faster
But that's short and choppy
a Wisconsinite in the water

I need to be Texan.
I stretch and reach
adding inches to my frame
I catch it and I pull it
Cold water getting shoveled.

Now the warmth is there
generated from within
My face is shining
my spirit on fire

I close my eyes
swimming blind
to better hear the bubbles
to better feel the sun
to better stretch and reach.

It took me 40 minutes
but I emerged from that water
a Long Tall Texan.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Room of One’s Own

The tomatoes
were growing too close
Blocking each other's light,
Choking each other's roots.
Their true leaves had budded
Fleshy and full
A sign of readiness,
A sign of need.

I heard them
And gave them
Rooms of their own.

Sometimes a woman
Needs a room of her own
To dig in new roots
To breathe her own oxygen
Uncolored by yours
To embrace the full sunlight
Undappled and alone.

When you see a woman
with true leaves
Give her a room of her own.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Heavy Equipment

OK, I have to admit to feeling more than a little funny writing a post about GEAR for a BIKE. But I promised Lisa and took the pictures, so here goes...

Everything you need in order to be a utilitarian biker goddess...

Quick Mtx Track trunk bag that slides into grooves on the QR Beam Rack Mtx. The rack supports 20 pounds and attaches to my seat stem with a quick-release adjustment thingy. (As opposed to the old bike racks with supports that reached down to attach to my rear hub.)

(Do I sound remotely intelligent here??)

Trunk bag with side pannier unzipped. Ooh, spacious...

The whole kit 'n' caboodle with the trunk bag open to show room for swimsuits, shoes, goggles, groceries... the possibilities are really endless, Ladies and Gents.

Hope this helps you out, Lisa! (And any others.) I'm off to clear my head with a good poem or two.

Thoughts on Speed

(This first number sung to the tune of "PFFT You Were Gone")

Speed, oh speed, where are you tonight?
Why did you leave me here all alone?

I've run the world over
Thought you were my true love
But you've met another... met another...met another (record skipping)
You were gone.


(Next: An Interrogation)

Speed, where have you gone to?
I dunno.

When will you be back?
Couldn't tell ya.

I want you... Immeasurably - to the tips of my toes.
Pfft, come off it!
I've left you with joy,

and drive.
Now really,
shouldn't that be enough for you?


(Last: An Update)

Tomatoes 1

Triteacher 0

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Pine Line Marathon Relay

"If it is to be, it is up to me."

This quote greeted me five minutes into my leg of the Pine Line Marathon this morning. There were several other quotes posted along the course, but this one stuck with me because of my reaction to it. I smiled and thought, "It already was." All else - e.g. meeting my goal time - would be icing on the cake.

What could put such a crazy thought in my head?
  • Meeting Rural Girl before the race. She is the real deal - funny, enthusiastic, down-to-earth - just as I knew she would be.
  • Messing around with our team costume (filmy scarves) last night and hearing my pink-scarf-clad father proclaim that, had he the audacity, he would always wear just such a cravat.
  • Driving around to the checkpoints with my niece and catching up on her life as an 18 year-old. - Not to mention scheming all the devious ways in which we could catch up to the other relay teams.
  • Taking pictures of my brother who sprinted the first 2 miles of his leg with the big-hearted spirit that personifies him.
  • Disobeying Strong Sister's strict instructions to just get my niece to the exchange point. Her sole response to our cheering was a stern, "See you in a few minutes." (She had five miles to go yet! More bonding with my niece over that one.)
  • Racing - at last. The trail and weather were divine, my endorphins were pelting my legs and splitting my face into the goofiest-ass grin you ever did see...

And these will have to be IT for now. No icing on my cake today. My time was much slower than I'd hoped for. I did the 10.1 miles in 1:21 - far from the smokin' 1:11 I'd hoped for. One minute per mile off, in fact. (Eeks!)

In retrospect, I see that it was an unrealistic goal given my current level of fitness and my running times so far this season. I'm just not as fast as I was when I ran 7:09s in 2003. (The times upon which I based this goal.) So for me, today was a checkpoint, a dipstick into the well of this growing season. And happy as I was to just be out there with such good people today, I learned something too...

If it is to be, it is up to me.

I, my friends, have some work to do.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I Feel Pretty

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

"Ms. Triteacher, that's a pretty dress."
"You look nice today, Ms. T."
"We're not used to seeing you in purple."
(Actually it's lavender, but I'm not about to point that out.)

I'm all dudded up for the kids' concert tonight, and they noticed.
It feels oh-so-pretty to be me today. :)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ladybug Soul

I swallowed her tonight
She went down whole
Now I'm ladybug
to the core of my soul

My helmet protected my hair
My glasses fought for my eyes
My hairs hid my nose in a weave
But my jaw gaped wide

I came on at seventeen
She had to be doing twenty
The tailwind gave her a boost
She found a new place to roost

Then at home
I spied my tulips
freshly-opened today
Instead of flowers
I saw a tomb
and knew there was only one way.

My two lips I did part
and relinquished her to her grave.
She now has a happy heart
in that sunlit yellow place.

As for me
I'll remember her.
For this clinging
bitter taste.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Growing Season

I spent an afternoon and a morning with a fork in my hands, mired in compost and garden soil. Right now I have dirty fingernails and aching muscles. But in a few weeks time we'll have spinach and lettuce. In a few months we'll have broccoli and tomatoes. At this point, it's hard to believe.

Bet you can't see where this post is going.

I've spent afternoons and mornings on the bike and in the pool. My weeks have seen progressively longer runs. Right now I have sore muscles and magnitude 8 doubts. In a week's time, I'll have the results of my first running race. In a few months, my Tri Nationals fate will be written history.

In my garden and to the toes of my running socks, I have the excitement of a season getting underway. It is the growing season, and I - like the spinach and tomatoes - will grow.

Friday, April 20, 2007

The Sleeper

She slips in in the morning
a bright smiling face presented to the world.
The smiles and nods continue,
punctuation in all the right places
throughout class.

Finally she slips her test into my basket
and slides back to her seat.
I wonder if it will reveal
the 60% of last time.

She's sliding along.
The smile is vacant,
the nods for the trees.

Well, wake up, Little Sleeper,
Your teacher is calling your name.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Bike

The bike is just different for me.
I ride it to get me to school,
to get me to the trailhead so I can run,
or to the pool so I can swim.

I need to expand my horizons
to go beyond the utilitarian
to go beyond accomplishing training.
I need to make the bike about biking.

How the hell am I gonna do that?

My trainer lays dusty in my closet -
still in its plastic.
I, the one with the vocabulary,
mentally block on words like cadence and wattage,
gears, parts vs. components, derailleurs
= Derailed.

But hey, I got bottle cages and seats downpat!
Er - or was that saddles?

How do you retrain a brain,
create a proclivity?
Woefully, willfully ignorant.
Is there hope for me yet?

Yes. I will find a way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I Hurt, But I'm Getting Faster

Yes, my quads hurt. I've taken a page out of Lisa's book and am tackling this little nemesis of mine called...


It gets the least play in this blog because it is my least favorite. Oh sure, I enjoy it and all, but it ain't swimming - and it cannot touch running.

But, Lisa's honest appraisal and reporting of her biking - as well as her steadfast efforts to improve - have inspired me. So, bottoms up:

Here's where I've been - 14.9 MPH
Where I am - 16.5-17.5 MPH
Where I'm going - 19.5 MPH
(All done on my usual 19 mile route.)


How I'll get there:
In spin class, we used to count our RPMs. We were always aiming for around 90. I have started doing this now on my roadbike. With an evil Triteacher Twist.

I count my revolutions (one leg) for 10 seconds out of every minute. If I don't make the requisite, magical 15 (Yep, 15 x 6 = 90 RPM), I have to count again in that same minute. (The Twist.) I try to maintain that 90 RPM for 5 minutes straight. Repeat 4 times per ride.

Though I can't say I've isolated this as THE variable, I attribute my increased speed to this drill. Hey, if it makes you hurt, it has to make you faster, right? ;)


Also on my mind... Virginia Tech. See these blogs for more thoughts:


Monday, April 16, 2007

Back Away from Your Screen


Don't say I didn't warn you.

And I always thought they were exaggerating when they said:

watery eyes
itchy, runny nose
stuffed up head

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Gods Behaving Beastly

Shiva and Shakti
took my legs for a run
this morning.

Ten miles on a crushed gravel path
in 60 degree sunshine -
you would think they'd be kind,
kick back and enjoy the weather.

But nooooo....
not those two.

They frolicked with each other
as they rampaged through my body,
vying for my misery.
I swear I heard them say,
"Screw 'What Would Jesus Do.'"

They tightened up my quads
and pinched my piriformis.
They stuck Gatorade bile
in the back of my throat
and pushed my legs to pulp
on a Long Distance Slow.

But I fought back
caving only to the secret thought
of a negative split.

As I sit here now
with an ice pack under each cheek,
my piriformis is not purring.
But I am.

My watch has told me the score:
Miles 1-5: 45.04
Miles 6-10: 43.38

I have earned my smile.
I went for a run today
and negative splitted.

Oh, and Shiva & Shakti?
They're busy rolling out my quads.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Call Me Shiva

- Hindu Destroyer and Creator

AM: Treadmill 45:00 - 9 x 400
PM: Bike 1:09 Average 16.6 mph
Swim 1:10 Chasing Coach again

Recovery - I can feel those microscopic muscle tears sewing themselves back together, making me stronger and more whole.

How's the Shiva in you?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Hallway Duty

How do Kindergarteners Come back from Lunch?

Like you've opened up a bag of popcorn
and sprinkled it liberally throughout the hallway.
They hop and they skip,
they gallop and they sashay.
They twirl and they twitter.
One little boy announced, "I'm poppin' wheelies,"
as he wove back and forth across the hallway.

So - from a technical standpoint - I've still enforced "No running in the hallways," right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Beast

The Beast resides within me
It gets a notion
and like the cat at the door
howls for release.

I try to outswim it.
An hour & ten chasing Coach's toes
leave it untouched.

It wriggles through blogging,
Won't be sated by dishes, cooking,
or even vacuuming.

At 9:13, I admit defeat.
As I reach for the running shoes
it has the audacity to whimper
and curl its jowls into a canine grin
that leaks out onto my lips.

A puzzled look from husband
provokes maniacal laughter
that I only barely suppress
and manage to supplant
with "Just going for a run."
The beast divines well
and diverts my attention
with another ripping YOWL
before I can be reached
by the Voice of Reason.

Our feet hit the pavement
and we are in church.
The thunk of our feet
calls out "Hallelujah!"
The beating of our heart
whispers "amen."

The Beast is irrepressible
Dashing and mad
My brain tries to train it,
pulls back on its leash
Tomorrow is 9 x 400 day
Cool your jets!

I feed it 4 hungry miles,
the cool night air
our only companion,
but companion enough
to soothe and smooth
the beast into submission

Shhhh... It now lies sated
snoring at my feet.

But Beast be warned:
Should you try to snooze through 9 x 400,
I will not hesitate to prod you with a stick.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Drive Stuck in Park

I think my drive is stuck in park. Here's how it goes in Triteacher Land...

1) Getting back into the pool after my vacation hiatus was bliss. I promptly promised myself that next season I would sign up for the master's swim meets in my area. I even added an extra swim on Friday.

2) Did I mention that I wanted to try to qualify for Nationals? Oh yeah, I probably did. BUT I cannot decide on a distance. My heart says Half Ironman, but my brain says, "You've only done one and it was done as training for IM. You have no idea of how to pace yourself competitively at that distance! Nor do you have any idea if you can be competitive at that distance."

Sprint? - Smarter choice but heart says, "BLAH. Not long enough. Why even get into the water if I'm only getting out 8 minutes later?"

Oly? - You might just have something there. Long enough to warrant getting my feet wet and definitely a challenge. Most of my experience is at this distance so I have a clue about pacing. But (in the same breath) HIM would be better!

I think Ironman has wrecked me. I like going long.

3) I went for a trail run this weekend (inspired -thank you very much - by Bubba and Marty) and was convinced that I wanted to become an ultra/trail runner. I even ran extra and was late for Mom's Easter dinner. I fell hard for the Chequamegon National Forest - and running through calf-deep streams.

4) My siblings twisted my arm (yee-ouch!) and I am now signed up for two relay running events. One is taking the place of the half mary on April 28th. We're going to do the full marathon as a relay. I get the last 10.1 miles. Yahoo! Bringin' it home on a relay is fu-u-un. BUT that means changing my half mary 1:33 goal. I think I'll keep the per mile pace goal: that's 7:09. OK?

Do you see the evidence of Triteacher Drift?

Um, how many lifetimes are we allowed in which to chase our dreams?

That's not even mentioning that I love vacationing with my husband and puppy... and at those times, my training plan goes out the window. Did you notice the absence of any biking references in my posts this week? It's indicative of exactly that - NO biking.

I know that I cannot possibly meet all of these goals simultaneously. Excitement is nice, but I feel as though I stymie myself at every turn with yet another new adventure. My drive is stuck in park just because I can't consistently answer one question:

"What do I want to be today?"
Last season, I had a consistent, clear answer to this question. I woke up each day and knew that I wanted to be an Ironman. Drive.

This season is different. My answer to that question changes every day.

Can I have a whole season governed by whim?

  • Yes. I have in the past. In fact, with the exception of last year, all of my triathlons have been whimsically chosen and completed. Training equally so.

  • No. Not if I want to reach my competitive edge.

There's the rub. Any thoughts out there?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Red River Gorge, KY

This was our final hike - and it was the jewel in the crown.

Cave Entrance
Stony Limbs (I could relate!)

Sworls in Sandstone

Sweet, Fresh Water

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Notes from Lexington: Kentuckians

Those Kentuckians shore know how to drawl. In the land where "Share the road with Horses" and "Horses have Right of Way" signs dominated, I spent the greater part of every conversation restraining myself from repeating their words, trying to corral those long, long vowels for myself.

Friendly to a one (does that famous Southern hospitality still exist?), they seemed to look for any excuse to converse with us. Among conversation-starters: our Wisconsin license plate, my hiking hat, the reusability of the deli containers - you get the picture. And once they got us started, they played the game I often play (and will only admit to here in the safety of blogosphere). I love to hear people with accents talk. I engage them in conversations of inconsequence and try to stretch out the experience to some level of (unattainable) saturation.

I'm a linguistic geek. But I'm not alone! Those Kentuckians and fellow tray-yul (trail) hikers are guilty too. Even the ones who've moved "up here" to live with their grandmother who's "fixin' to pass" wanted a piece of these Northerners. As we hiked through their hollers (hollows) and basked in their sun, I noticed our commonalities.

The three sixth grade boys hiking in front of us filled the bill of sixth grade boys everywhere. They giggled and exclaimed at the copulating stick figures drawn on a rock wall, "Somebody was rotten up here!" (Rotten??)

They jostled their fellows for the chance to lap at the water dripping down from those same rock formations and successfully ditched red-faced moms who huffed up the trail behind them. ("You go right on ahead, Hon'.") They scoffed at dads and younger siblings who'd opted to ride the lift instead of hike up the trail.

They gaped at spiders,

pretty views,
and natural sandstone bridges.

Yep, I reckon they'd make sixth grade boys anywhere proud.