Monday, June 23, 2008

SWC Y Tri Race Report - Sprint

My only "official" tri of this season is done and done well. I pushed.

Having not ridden my race bike for the last two weeks, I rode to the race (about 3 miles) and re-acclimated to my pedals, clipping in and out of each pedal about a million times. Once those neurons were refired, I hit the beach, swimming an 8:32 warm-up. I ran through the swim-to-bike transition and mentally-rehearsed the changing of the clothes for T1.

Normally a bilateral breather, this habit disappears when I race. I breathe on my right side with every stroke. It just is. I felt smooth and fast. It seemed that all of my wheezing sessions with Coach were serving me well; I was wheezing with the best of them, but it felt like the right thing to be doing since I was racing. I wore my wetsuit and was glad - the water was "refreshing".
Swim time: 7:11

Woot! I ran fast past my cheering section and into the corral. I had a really good position for my bike and made the smoothest transition out of my wetsuit I've ever made. I learned to put it over my timing chip (duh!) so it slips off more easily. No problemo.
T1 time: 1:13

Onto the bike and speedy flat land for 14.5 miles. I was chugging air but didn't want to slow down at all. My mantra became, "I'll breathe when I'm dead." (The humor of the statement was not lost on me and my self-satisfaction with my own cleverness buoyed my spirits even more.) I passed a lot of people and was passed by one guy. (#185 - grr! I still remember his number.) I tried to stick with him for about 3 seconds and realized it was hopeless. He was fast.
Bike time: 39:23

This went OK. I fumbled when re-racking my bike a little bit and tangled my sunglass on my bike helmet when I removed it. I was quick getting into my running shoes but then in my nervousness and race-dizziness, I forgot where the exit to the run was. I had that panicky feeling and snapped my head in all directions looking for the exit while also trying to fasten my watch. Future plan: Run through T2 before the race! (Duh.)
T2 time: 0:38

I really love myself sometimes. (You may gag.) I raced this whole 3.7 miles even though there was no other racer in sight. It struck me as weird even as I was doing it. What compels you to breathe hard and push even when no one else is around? In my head, I was Ariel the mermaid singing, "I wanna be where the people are!" but I just kept chugging along, pushing, pushing, pushing. I knew I'd be pissed at myself afterwards if I left anything on the course. Plus, it just felt good to race. I was in the mood. It didn't always feel good, but it certainly felt right.

AND - I'm happy, happy, happy with the 7:31 pace I held up. I've been running 3 times a week for 30-45 minutes. I have done no speed work - in fact, I would call what I've been doing "SLOW" work. So 7:31s feel like a gift. And miracle of miracles, my knees don't hurt. My piriformis is a little tweaky, but I have a tennis ball for that!
Run time: 27:48

Post race - I had pain between my shoulder blades, piriformis, and a growling stomach - I haven't stopped eating since I crossed the line! ;-) but otherwise I am A-OK. It's all that good kind of pain, that it-feels-like-achievement kind of pain. I'll take it!

Awards ceremony - My brother and his 3 kids (ages 2-5) had come to watch the race. When I received my age group medal, they had to jog up to get it with me. Then they took turns all afternoon wearing "the gold". Some things are just better with kids. :-) When I'm old and crippled up, I hope to go places and cheer for them. Won't be nothing wrong with my teacher lungs!

Overall: I was very happy with this race. As mentioned, I was first in my AG. Official results can be found here. I was bib #192.

Total time: 1:16.11
Gender place: 2/74
(The #1 Female beat me by 4 minutes instead of like 30 seconds, thank gawd! She's 23 years old - she has a career ahead of her!)
One last thing: my finisher's photo a la Robby B.
Cheers, everyone!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Where You'll Find Me

Where troubles melt like lemondrops
Away above the chimney tops

That's where you'll find me...

But just in case I'm not there, try one of the following places:
June 21 = My only official tri of 2008 -
South Wood County Y Tri
June 23 - July 2 = Moving my stuff to CO and doing some hiking. I'll miss WIBA. Have fun, everyone, and have a glass of Merlot for me.
July 2 - 11 = Wisconsin - 4th of July parties and last good-byes. My only other tri of the season will be my family's tri on July 5th. (Remember you're invited, JLT folks. Drop me an email if interested.)
July 11 - 27 = Mexico trip
July 27 for the duration = Back to CO to live!
August 1-2 = Wild West Relay - This will be a challenge; altitude, err - hillier - terrain, and on a team where the only person I know once pulled my hair so hard that I felt the need to pull it back into a pony tail and snip it off. Good times.

So that's where you'll find me. I'll check in here as frequently as I can, of course. Other notes of interest this AM...

12 minutes is what it takes me to warm up on the swim. I meant it when I said this would be a building season. I am gathering the data as we speak! I will use this little metric tomorrow morning before my tri. How nice to apply my learnin' right away.

'Fessin' up
Does anyone else make aeroplane noises as you're speeding down a hill and rounding a curve on your bike?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lesson Learned from my Paddle

He was scared. White-knuckling the sides of the kayak, screaming every time it dipped to the side, imploring me to keep the boat straight, to stay away from the side, to avoid branches and rocks.

I assured him. "What's the worst that can happen? If the kayak tips, you'll swim for the paddle, I'll swim for the boat. We'll meet up on the side and hop back in."

We'll just swim to the side and hop back in...

Happy ending for Nephew: By the end of the trip he was imploring me to hit the "big waves" as we went through the rapids. He even got to the point of throwing his arms up in the air, squealing with delight, as we swooped through the troughs. Go baby!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Time Trial

Sometimes I am scared shitless.
What am I thinking moving to a metropolitan area? I feel like I can't. Like I'll be swallowed whole, eaten alive. Lost. I'm scared about all the solitary decisions I'm making. I am deciding for myself. It's scary as all get out sometimes. I have never done this before. I never truly realized how much of a foundation my husband was.

Other times. I know it is possible. I trust myself. And I know that there are good people everywhere you go. There is lots of fresh air in CO. There are reading specialists, runners, triathletes, bikers... people like me. I have a job, I have my sister, I have a support network. I'll land on my feet...

Churning with these thoughts, I blow past the turn to meet up with my new-found (yep, just before the move) time trial group. I daydream way too much. Thankfully, a friend phones and pulls my head out of the clouds with solid directions. I arrive on time for the start.

Then I find myself out on the bike. Time trialing down a country road in the middle of nowhere-Wisconsin. Blazing away at the biker in front of me, burning my quads to stay on his wheel. Down that country road on a sunny night it comes to me that I should race. I should race and race and race. Because it boils me down to my essence. I can't help but race. I see him and I have to, have to - no questions asked - burn my lungs chasing him. It isn't a conscious choice. It just is. The drive takes over and I thrive. I come alive, more in tune with myself but paradoxically less self-obsessed than at any other time I draw breath.

And I'm drawing a lot. I heave. I pass him. He passes me. I pass him back. Finally he sling-shots ahead of me and I know that I will not catch him again. "Fucker," I say to myself (the potty mouth comes with the competition). To him, I say, "Nice ride."

On the ride home I think: this decision is easy. It is crying to be made. I know where I fit. I have looked around enough to know what I want and what I'm good at. Professionally, I am a middle school reading specialist. Period. It's where I fit. Athletically? I am a fighter, a warrior - a competitor. It's where I fit.

With my newfound insight, I wanna run out and register for every race and run, race hard. But. I have been working out, not training. There is a critical difference. Grr. Time will be a trial to impatient me.

I rein myself in and get reasonable. I plan. I have a rather large move to accomplish and lotso travel plans. This summer is booked. This will be a building season. I will continue to work out, and I will hone the vision. Gradually my workouts will give way to training as I decide what the big show will be.

I am ready for something big in '09. I am ready to focus, to look neither right nor left. Next year, I am going to do triathlon. After two rather lackadaisical seasons post-Ironman, I am ready to compete.

Tonight's total Time Trial including the ride to the rendezvous point and back lasted 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Its impact? Only time will tell.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Me-Me-Me Meme

Here are the rules.

If you’re tagged, you will find your name at the end of this post. You should then copy the rules (or your version of them), and the set of questions onto your blog post, provide your own answers, and then tag 5 new people.

Just to be sure that everyone tagged knows they have been invited to play, go to their blogs and leave them a special comment letting them know, and refer them to your blog for details.

Once the chosen have answered the questions on their own blog, they should come back to yours to tell you.

Here are my responses.

1. How would you describe your running 10 years ago?
Diesel engines, concrete powder and tiled sidewalks. I was studying abroad in Spain and I'd run on the fringes of the city - in the new development. I still get a little heady when there's just the right concoction of construction smells in the air. I'm snapped back in time to those 30-45 minute Spain runs and my giddy feelings of excitement and curiosity and wonderment at the newness of it all. It was not about the running at all; rather running was my vehicle for exploration.

2. What is your best and worst run/race experience?
My best and worst come from the same race. Great River Relay, August 2007. Here's the scoop.

Worst - My first leg of this race was projected to be a 58 minute, 7.4 mile deal. But, I got lost and turned it into a 2:24, 15 mile ordeal. Now, don't get me wrong - I am long-habituated to getting lost and don't mind a little extra mileage, but I had a team waiting for me, a next runner to tag. I also had to run two more legs of this thing, totaling another 12.6 miles. To say the least, I was anxious. To say the most, click here.

My second leg - aside from being pitch black (9:30 PM) - was an uneventful 8.2 miles.

Best - My third leg was a 4.4 mile shortie that I was projected to do in 36 minutes. I'd slept for four hours and was fresh as a daisy, ready to run. Until I got started, that is. My knees positively creaked. As I tossed my headlamp to my support van, I shouted, "Stick a fork in these legs - they're done!"

And then I heard the tap, tap, tap of footsteps behind me. Enter Bill. AKA Eye Candy. AKA the reason I run. (See #3 of this meme.) As he passed me, we exchanged greetings. I told him he looked strong, he claimed he wasn't, and that's where it could have ended.

But I didn't want it to. His gait was beautiful. I couldn't take my eyes off of him and that gorgeous, rhythmic stride. In order to keep him in my sights, I had to stick with him. So I did.

For the first two miles, I hung off his backside, about 5 strides back. Then I managed to pull even with him. Our vans were leap-frogging each other, offering us water, energy bars - and the berries. My very funny teammates were giving me a hard time. "Um, Teach, your run has been changed to a 7.2 miler."

"Ha. Funny guys," I commented to Bill, having already shared with him the trauma of my first leg. He mumbled something in reply, but I had inched ahead of him and took it to be filler so didn't ask for a repeat. When he pulled even with me again, we chatted a bit more. He was new to distance running, had been a sprinter. I couldn't sprint to save my life, but could run forever and a day -- good thing with my navigational abilities. Ha, ha. Yada, yada.

I checked my watch and registered 34 minutes and saw what I thought was the exchange point. I began to pour it on and encouraged Bill to stay with me, we were almost there!!! He again said something that I failed to hear, but hell if I was slowing down to ask for a repetition - my blood was up.

It was to stay up for another 20 minutes.

My funny guys hadn't been joking. My 4.4 mile route HAD been changed to a 7.2 miler. But I couldn't stop now because Bill was right on my tail. I could hear that insidious, rhythmic tap, tap, tapping at my back door - and nice as the view from behind had been, I wanted him to stay behind me now, dammit!

I had no energy to calculate distance at this point. I couldn't risk looking at my watch. I needed to concentrate, to live in that forward motion focal point in my head, right between my temples. All I registered was the pain in my chest, the ache in my quads - and the stronger will to stay ahead of Bill. He would pull even and we'd grunt encouragement at each other, but we both knew by now that this was a pissing match. Our vans and those supporting other runners did too. I fuzzily registered their presence and knew they were watching the whole thing unfold.

Now, I don't know about you, but I am an incurable show-off. Give me an audience and I will move mountains. Or just run pretty damn fast.

We reached the 1 mile to go signal and it was showtime. I hit my lap split and conjured energy. My forked-up legs, my guts, and my sleep-deprived brain all pitched in. To push me, to propel me forward. And then I saw the beautiful orange cones and flags of the exchange point. I saw that it was at the bottom of an incline and I cracked. A smile split across my face - or at least I pulled my lips back from my gaping, gasping hole of a mouth. I am good on the downhill.

I leg go of my legs, let them free fall, flapping down the hill, carrying me home. I snapped the relay bracelet on my friend's waiting wrist and turned around to watch Bill snap his partner. For the first time, we looked each other full in the face and shook hands, exchanging wide, sweaty, exhausted smiles. We were both breathing like freight trains but managed to gasp our congrats to each other and introductions to our respective teams. (My team then grabbed me for this commemorative photo.)

My best race? August 25, 2007 when Eye Candy Saved the Day
7.2 miles, 54.24 with a 6.31 last mile

3. Why do you run?
I think I've adequately spoken to this one already, no? ;-)

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?
Best: "Run like you mean it!"
To my cousin Dan at his first race last year. He followed it, smashing his predicted time into itsy-bitsy bits.
Worst: "I'm not sure our big-boned, voluptuous bodies are made for running marathons."
To my sister. Just to prove me wrong, she ran two marathons in her 40th year - and did quite well with them, to boot.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.
All my life, I have been Type A, wound-too-tight-for-livin', driven. Last weekend someone called me laid back. LAID BACK?? That one's a surprise even to me.

I'm tagging 5 of my Wisconsin buds. Consider it my good-bye gift!
Rural Girl

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

View from a Hike in Colorado

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Views from a Kayak in Wisconsin

I went for a paddle with some friends.

Wave at the mirror, trees.

Shadows out the back way.
I took a detour on an impromptu, flood-created oxbow. As I came out, there were shadows.


The things I learned from my paddle...

Dive nosefirst into life. Let your puppy do so too - even if it means he's diving nosefirst into the smelliest, deadest thing in a 50-mile radius.

Be Stevie Nicks and sing for the things money can't buy. I sing for the way my paddle gives a little "kick" and shoves the water back just like my hand as it flexes at the wrist during my catch on the swim.

I sing for a superintendent who has the courage to live by her convictions - and who embraces me as I leave to do the same.

I sing for family and friends, and for all the places to love. Like kayak trips on Wisconsin rivers.

Endurance Events: Not Just for Triathletes Anymore

I slept for 12 hours yesterday. I was exhausted. Cindy hit the nail on the head with her comment; interviewing this last week was the Ironman of my professional world. It was a whirlwind. From Thursday, May 29th until Friday, June 6th my life consisted of phone calls, flights, and interviews. I had to be "on." And I was. Have you ever felt like you're a walking ball of electricity? I was crackling with ideas and teaching philosophy and kid stories. I was like a middle schooler on Mountain Dew. Buzz, buzz, buzz.

I still did workouts, but once I got the phone calls, I stopped chasing the odd minutes - or hours - that would bring me to my pre-ordained workout time. It simply was not possible. At one point, I'd driven 55 minutes to a trailhead, only to have my phone ring. "Since you're in town, would you be willing to interview at 1:00 today?" Instead of my planned 6-hour hike, I did a 45 minute run (starting elevation 7600 feet = huff and puff), and drove straight back home to get ready.

No one, of course, does this kind of electricity-hecticity alone; suffice it to say I have the best family, friends, and (*sniff*sniff*) set of colleagues a guy could want.

The job I've landed. Will rock. From the moment I saw the posting, I knew. It's me. It's part teaching, part teacher-leadership. I've been doing this kind of mix for the past five years in my current district. I'd been watching CO teaching postings since April (though I couldn't start applying until May because of the red tape in applying for my license - grrr) and I'd seen nothing like it. I was convinced that it did not exist in CO, so when I saw it, woof - my heart leapt. I immediately emailed my references and asked them to tweak my letters of recommendation for this job - THE job - as I referred to it. I wrote and re-wrote my cover letter, had my Sweet (smart, talented, beautiful) Sister help me revise it, and sent it off with fingers crossed.

I got the call May 29th, flew out May 31st, interviewed June 3 & 5, got the job June 6th. Smiles.

Mixed in were calls and an interview for another job - for which I can now cancel my 2nd interview, teaching, writing sub plans, working out, keeping family and friends posted, and ... woof, isn't that enough? I think I earned my Friday Night Freedom and Saturday Sleep.

But now. I have found the one. I will work with kids, I will research reading strategies and apply brain-based research in my classroom, I will team-teach with other professionals, I will analyze the needs of the teachers and the students, and I will be elbow-to-elbow, nose-to-nose with them becoming better teachers and readers.

I am happy about this position.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Friday Night Freedom

I sigh and smile and shiver with anticipation of Friday night freedom. I feel good tonight. I am gainfully employed. I got the call today from CO-way that I am in like Flynn.

Just. Like. That. My very first cover letter was the one. Wow. My head is kind of spinning, yet I'm also calm, at peace. I've worked so hard, focused so much attention on this job search that it feels strangely empty to have it done. Yet satisfying.

And I wanted tonight for myself. I took it. Away from anyone else so I could just steep in my own self. Sometimes I get so busy and otherways-focused that I forget who I am. And I AM. That is enough for tonight.

You got a sliver of me because I feel the need to write. I can feel a pour coming on -- a volcanic eruption of Triteacher news and photos and blog commenting nonpareil!

... but it may have to wait until after Friday Night Freedom.
A good one to you.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Alive and Well in...


I flew out here for two interviews and have made a mini-vacation of it. It took the place of what was going to be my first triathlon on Sunday, but hey! - I will take it. I took a leap (quit my WI job) and now am seeing that there just might be a net in place to catch my fall after all.

I have been busy with work and play, but thought I'd do a quick post to let you all know that I am, indeed, alive and well. :-)

Oh, and I will post pictures and thoughts on this whole change process as soon as I can.