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.