are floaties allowed?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Triathlon Day


I can wear my pink tri shirt now.  Not just try it on, admire it quickly then take it off.  Actually wear it.  For real.
 I swam.  I did not drown.  I was not the last one out of the bay.  I swam in circles around swimmers and rotated my shoulders to breathe deeply.   I biked.    The biking muscles that were developed on hidden Mount Everest let me fly on my borrowed bike with it's two working brakes and gears that changed.  I  "on your left"ed  many cyclists.    I ran.  I  danced a little to get through in the 89 degree heat but I moved forward.

I crossed the finish line.  Sweet, sweet finish line.   1:30:47.

Thank you, 12 followers and 2 lurkers, for all of your support.  You have all helped me become a triathlete. Thank you, Carla.  You are the very best sister a girl could ever have.  Thank you for believing in me and making this all possible.  Sorry I made you my lane marker in the swim.      
This has been an amazing experience.  Now I want each and every one of you to set a goal for yourself.  It doesn't have to be a triathlon.  But something. Something that you have always wanted to do.  Say it out loud.  Right now.  Go ahead, say it.  There.  It's out there.  That's the first step.  Now go out there and chase your dream.   Meet your own merwoman and duel your own deer.  You can do it.  Go out and LIVE LIFE.   I promise, it's worth it.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Triathlon Tomorrow

We picked up our race packets today at 4 pm.  Timing chip, swim cap, race number, water bottle.  And one last item.  One last item that made it all worth it.   A tri shirt.  A pink tri shirt.  A perfect pink tri shirt.   It was meant to be.
What can I say?  I like pink.

Wish me luck!!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

T minus 3 days     Running morning.  Biking evening.

Today I started packing for Stone Harbor.  And I felt a lot of stress.  I have never associated stress with Stone Harbor before.  Stone Harbor is fun, family, vacation.  The most stress I have ever felt in Stone Harbor is when I am next in line at Springers and absolutely have to decide what flavor ice cream I want.  (Well, except for that one summer when we buried Julie in the sand up to her neck.  And the tide came in.  Fast.  aka the summer we almost lost Julie).  I was stressed out thinking about the "what if's" of the triathlon.  What if this happens or what if that happens.
I took a break from my packing and went for a bike ride.  I started to feel better.  The more I biked, the better I felt.  Because I started to realize something.  I have come a really, really long way.  I have already been through the what if's.

What if:  The starting gun goes off and I panic?  I will remember I dueled with a deer and won.  I can do this.
What if:  I start swimming and get a mouthful of water when I breathe?  I will remember my swim angel and rotate my shoulders.
What if:  I see lots of choppy water in front of me?  I will  remember merwoman and swim in circles around it.
What if:  I am biking for five miles and get a flat tire?  I will remember Doctor Dave, get out the lotion and change it.
What if:  I am biking  and a group of kids run into the street?  I will shout "clear" and ride past them.
What if:  I am biking and a horsefly makes a beeline for me and throws itself down my throat?  I will make the universal bug in throat bike gesture and receive help.
What if:  I am running and a seagull decides to swoop down and take the cup of gatorade right out of my hand?  (not that a seagull would ever do such a thing in Stone Harbor).  I will give it my now tried and true give-me-some-peace-and-quiet-baby-hawk-yell and he will fly away asap.
What if:  I am running and my legs start to give out after two miles?  I will channel my inner Meryl Streep,  become a queen and dance my way to the finish line.

Stone Harbor.  Fun, family, vacation.  Triathlon.
T minus 3 days.

Did you see what that said??  The triathlon is in three days.

T minus 3 days.  

Today I discovered  I am not doing a triathlon.  I am doing a quadathlon.  Swim.  Bike.  Run.  Transition.

I have no idea.  I am already lost.  I don't know the rules.  And, apparently, there are many rules.  When you finish your swim, you get out of the bay, transition onto your bike, and head out.  When you finish the biking portion, you transition off your bike, put your running shoes on and start the run.   You make these transitions in a transition area.  Where everyone else is transitioning.  Where everyone else knows what they are doing.
 First of all, you can't get in other racers way.  Apparently, this is frowned upon.  Greatly.   (sidebar:  Swimmers, cyclists and runners are quite different and operate under different rules in general I have come to realize. Different etiquette rules.   Runners are nice to each other.  Always.  You see another runner, you smile, you say hi.  Last week on my run I saw a big group of runners approaching.  They all said hi when they passed.  I "hi'd" them back.  Two miles later we were going to pass each other again.  Except the group had split up. Into many little groups.  Many, many little groups.  And since they were all runners, they said hi.  And since I am a runner, I said hi.  And hi.  And hi.  And hi.  On and on.  And on.   My pace started to slow.  The 'hi's" were taking their toll.  By the time the stragglers at the end of the line saw me coming  their cheery "hi's" changed to encouraging "looking good"s  and "you can do it," and "almost there."   I wanted to shout out that I would look a lot better if I didn't have to use all my breath to say hi to all you ten million people but, because I am a runner and those are the rules, I just said hi.  Swimmers and cyclists, however, are a whole different breed. They don't say hi.  Ever.  Swimmers remind me of the nurses I know that always choose to work the night shift.  You can't quite figure out why but they are definitely a little bit off. And cyclists, well, forget it.  I have tried.  I have really tried.  I say hi.  Nothing.  I do a down-low wave.  Nothing.  Up-high wave.  Nada.  Cyclists do not say hi. They do not even make eye contact.  They are too busy looking cool in their day-glo jerseys).
  Transition.  Follow the rules.  Survive the swim.  Drag your water logged body out of the bay.   Quickly find your bike in the sea of bikes.  Don't hop on someone else's bike.  Follow some sort of rule about not  knocking over all the other bikes.  Get through the transition area without getting tapped on the shoulder, tag you're out.   Bike for five thousand miles.   Enter the second transition area.  More rules.  Pass here, don't pass there,  walk there, don't even think about walking there,  don't cross this line until you do this, don't cross that line at all, tie your shoes, turn around, jump up and down, touch your nose.

Simon says "help."

Monday, July 11, 2011

T minus 6 days.     Swimming lesson

Dear 12 followers and 2 lurkers,
I have an announcement:
 I am going to win the 2011 Stone Harbor Triathlon.

 Today I became a swimmer.

As it turns out, real swimming gets you from one end of the pool to the other.  Without stopping in the middle.  Real swimming involves long, lean strokes, not dog paddles.  Real swimming involves deep, controlled breaths, not frantic gasps for air.  Real swimming involves slicing through the water, not slapping the water silly.  Real swimming involves shoulder rotation,  not windmill arms.  Real swimming involves rhythmic, smooth  kicking, not haphazard scissor chops.
A swim angel came to me today.   She had her work cut out for her.  She said she was up for the challenge.  Poor thing.  She just didn't know.  We got to the pool.  I couldn't put my swim cap on.  And so the lesson started.....
I had a very good swim angel.  (Thank you, Maria).

I have my sights set on the Ironman.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

T minus 7 days.      

It wasn't supposed to be a biking day.  It was supposed to be a swimming day.   And it still might be a swimming day.  With a swimming lesson.  From a real swimming instructor.  Joy.

It turned into a biking day when I went outside to get the paper.   The sun was shining, the sky was crystal clear blue, the birds were chirping. The morning was inviting me to get on my bike and be the triathlete that I am.  I accepted the invitation.

Everything is perfect.  The weather is perfect.  The roads are perfect.  My outfit is perfect.  I am riding my bike in a perfect world.  I am riding, riding.  I see a slight hill on a road off to my right.  I have never been on this road before.  It looks like a pretty road.  I will climb that hill on that new pretty road.  I ride to the hill.  It is a little hill.  I ride up that little hill.  That was perfect.  I am perfect.  I am a perfect triathlete.  I turn the corner.  And I see....a mountain.  There is a mountain ahead of me.  There is a hidden mountain in the middle of Simsbury.   But it is a perfect day.  And I am a perfect triathlete.  I can do this.  I am strong.  I am invincible.  I got this.  I ride.  Up.  And up.  I stand up and pedal.  Push down hard on the left pedal.  Push down hard on the right pedal.  Feel the burn.  Left pedal.  Burn.  Right pedal.  Burn.   I am sweating.  My legs are shaking with the effort.  But I am strong.  I am invincible.  I got this.  Pedal.  Burn.  Pedal.  Sweat.  Pedal.  I am a mass of quivering muscles.  I am dripping sweat.  I am...   I am...  I am going...backwards.  WHAT?  I am standing on my bike pedaling and I am going backwards!!  How is this even physically possible?  I am going backwards down hidden Mt Everest.  I can make out a stop sign at the top of the mountain.   I  just have get to the top.  Going forward would make it easier to get there.  I redouble my efforts.  Pedal Burn Pedal Burn.  My heart is pumping.  My breathing is labored.   I am breathing so hard I can't hear myself think.  Pedal.  Burn.  Pedal.  Sweat.   Pedal.  Is that the stop sign?  Is that the top? Sweat dripping in my eyes, vision blurry.   Pedal.  Pant.  Getting closer.   Must keep climbing.  Must reach top.
  Clear?  Clear?  Why is a loud voice yelling out clear??   In my nursing experience, and as all you Grey's fans know, the word "clear" yelled out means one thing and one thing only.   Trouble.  Big trouble.   Am I headed towards the light and McDreamy is about to defibrillate me?  (Not that that would be all bad).  I am on a mountain.   I don't have any oxygen. I don't have a sherpa.  Did I  cycle so hard up the mountain that I passed out, fell off my bike, hit my head, and lay there until some poor unsuspecting passer-by saw me splayed out on the ground, called 911 and I am  now about to be shocked back to life?  I shake my head, wipe the sweat out of my eyes, try to focus.   No.  There is no doctor.  There is no ambulance.   There is no defibrillator.     But there are other cyclists.  About a hundred other cyclists.  All going forward.  Going forward up the mountain.  Clear.  They are clear of the cyclist going down the mountain.  Backwards. On a bike.

Friday, July 8, 2011

T minus 9 days.     Running day

My favorite place to run is Stratton Brook State Park.  Stratton Brook is a beautiful 150 acre park conveniently located right across the street.  It has a long, flat, main path on which I have logged many, many miles.  And so it was to Stratton that I headed this afternoon for my run.  Perhaps it was the humidity, perhaps it was the graying sky overhead, I don't really know, but when I got there I didn't see another person.  I was alone.  I had the place to myself.  Being alone in the middle of a state park may make a more normal person nervous, but I loved it.  The calm, the quiet, the peacefulness.   I was running along the path becoming one with nature.    I ran and ran.  By myself.
  I remember reading somewhere that Mick Jagger runs five miles everyday.  And as he runs, he sings.  It keeps him in shape for his concerts.  Have you seen Mick Jagger in concert lately?  Who wouldn't want to have his energy at his age?  So I started to hum.  M mm mmm mm. "I can't get no....satisfaction."  I find myself starting to sing softly.  "I can't get no satisfaction."  No one is around.  I sing a bit louder.   " I can't get no satisfaction. "  A bit louder.  "But I try.  And I try.   I can't get no...  bababa ...SATISFACTION."  Louder.   "Driving in my car....watching my t.v., same white shirt as me....can't get no....SATISFACTION."  These are all the words I know.  Time to switch to another song.  What song.  What song.  What is a good running song?  Dancing Queen.  Abba's Dancing Queen.   Perfect.   "Friday night and the lights are low.  Looking out for the place to go..."  I am running.  I am singing.  "Night is young and the music's hi- i - gh,"  I am running.  I am skipping. "Bit of rock music everything's fine."    I am dancing.    "You're in the mood for a dance....and when you get the chance..."  I am dancing.  I am Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia.  "You are the dancing queen.  Young and sweet only seventeen..." I am twirling.  "Feel the beat from the tam-bo-rine."   I am dancing, dancing.   I point to the squirrels, the chipmunks, the birds.  They join in.  "You can dance.  You can ji--ive....having the time of your lives...."  We are all dancing down the path, twirling, twirling, singing out loud...."DANCING QUEEN....YOUNG AND SWEET ONLY SEVENTEEN.  DIGGIN THE DANCING QUEEN.  AHHAAA."   I pause to take a breath.  It is when I pause to take that breath I hear it.  A twig cracking.  A twig cracking from someone stepping on it.  A twig cracking from someone stepping on it right behind me.

Stratton Brook, like all good state parks, has many paths.  They twist and turn throughout the park and eventually lead back to the main path.  Stratton Brook is in Simsbury, Ct.  Simsbury has a high school, Simsbury High School.   Simsbury High School has a cross country team, the Boys' Cross Country Team. Simsbury High School is also located across from Stratton Brook.  Apparently, the Boys' Cross Country Team runs even in the summer.  In Stratton Brook.  On one of the side paths.  One of the side paths that runs parrallel to and then spills out onto the main path.  Where I am a Dancing Queen.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

T minus 11 days.

You know what the problem is when you get out of the pool and start riding your bike when you are soaking wet?  You are riding your bike soaking wet.

Last night started out great.  Got home from work, whipped up a meatloaf for dinner (yum), donned my magical tri-suit and headed to the pool.  Sidebar:  I have not always thought meatloaf was yummy.  When I was younger I hated it.  It was one of my least favorite foods.  Hated it more than carrots or liver or beets.  When I was in the second grade I had to have my tonsils out.  Back then it involved an overnight stay in the hospital.  My mom stayed with me until dinner time.  She gave me a present.  Velvet.  A beautiful blond doll with a purple dress.  When you pushed a button on her back and pulled her ponytail her hair would grow.  She was beautiful.  The nurse came in with a dinner tray.  She put a plate in front of me.  Spaghetti.  My favorite.  My mom said she had to leave.  Ok, I was fine. I was better than fine.  I was great.  I had Velvet.  I had spaghetti.  I loved this place.  My mom left.  I picked up my fork to start my dinner.  The nurse came back.  "I'm sorry, dearie.  There's been a mistake.  This isn't your dinner."  She took my spaghetti away.  "This is."  She put a new plate in front of me.  I looked down.  Meatloaf.
 I became a nurse so no kid would ever have to eat meatloaf in the hospital again. Not on my watch.

I did my swim in my neighbor's pool.  I had to have some measure of comfort, of the familiar, if it was going to be a combined swim and bike night.  So many good times, so many happy memories in that pool.  That was then.  This is now.  Now I have goggles so tight the skin on the sides of my eyes touches the back of my head.  Now I make so many waves when I flail swim that I create a tsunami, gulp gallons of water and get an ocean up my nose.  Now the fifteen minutes I need to spend is this pool is taking so long the clock is ticking backwards and it is last Friday.

I get out of the pool and slip-slide over to the bike.  In my tri-suit. Which is wet.  Dripping wet.  There are no big, fluffy towels.  There are no dry clothes.  There are no hairdryers.  I put my helmet over my wet hair.  My long, thick, sopping wet hair.  My it-takes-twelve-hours-to-dry-naturally-on-a-hot day sopping wet hair.  I slither onto the bike and start off.

I am fairly certain, dear 10 followers and 2 lurkers, you can imagine how I felt about that bike ride.  How I felt to be wet and stay wet for the next 45 minutes.  How I felt to use all my energy not to pedal but just to keep from sliding off the seat.

I felt like I had just been given meatloaf for dinner in the hospital.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

T minus 12 days.      Swim + Bike

I'm not ready.  I am just not ready to talk about it.

Monday, July 4, 2011

T minus 13 days.    Running day.

This triathlon has me living outside my comfort zone.  I can look behind me and see my comfort zone right over there.   It looks so comfortable.  It’s a big fluffy couch and I want to plop back into it.   But, nooooo.   Instead I am engaging in water torture, having conversations with merwomen, taking my life in my hands every time I mount my bike with it’s one working brake (oh, I didn’t mention that little fact yet?  Yes, my bike has two brakes.  One works.  That means one doesn’t.  One brake doesn’t work.  How I have managed to avoid going a** over teakettle so far is beyond me), overcoming wardrobe malfunctions, running into a deer.  Today I ran into a deer.   A big deer.  A big, mean, snorty deer.  It was Peach vs. Deer.  Showdown in the middle of the woods.   Room for only one of us on the path.  Who would win?  Who could claim bragging rights?   Before my triathlon training  I would have backed down.  Before my triathlon training I would have realized that having a showdown with a deer is a very, very bad idea.    But things are different now.  Now I am living outside my comfort zone.

I have been outside my comfort zone before.   Ecuador, 2010.   A visit to my daughter who was studying abroad.

 So far, so good. Off the plane, make it through customs, get my luggage, walking towards the exit. Good, good, good. A uniformed man walking towards me. “Boleto, Señora,” he says.  Huh? I am in a Spanish speaking country.  I do not speak Spanish.   At all.  “Boleto,”   he says  again.  Then “ticket?”  He’s clearly dealt with a gringa before.  Oh, shoot. Laura told me about this…my baggage claim ticket. If I don’t have it they will think I am stealing this luggage. I can’t find it. Where did I put it??  I don’t have it.  I will be arrested. Laura will never know what happened… no one will ever see me again. “Americana!!” the one uniformed man yells and two more uniformed men come running over.  My heart is beating very rápido. I am digging in my bag, digging, digging, sweating, sweating.   Found it!! My ticket! Oh thank god.   I’m not going to waste away in a foreign prison. 
First step outside my comfort zone in Equador.   Small potatoes compared to what was to come.

 It is interesting to be in a foreign land and not know the language. You are at an extreme disadvantage.  You have no idea what is going on half the time.  This is how I operate on a regular basis but the whole not being able to read / speak thing  put me in whole new level in Equador.  One day Laura told me we were going to Mindo.  This meant nothing to me.  Mindo?  Ok, sure.  Let’s go.  Get in a bus.  Drive for two hours. Up.  Drive up for two hours.  It should have dawned on me sooner. 
 Mindo started out as a beautiful, peaceful, serene butterfly garden and hummingbird paradise.  Well, this is nice.  I like this.  Sitting amongst the colorful butterflies, enjoying the exotic flowers.   We leave the garden and stroll down the road.  Laura is looking at me a little funny.  We walk down a path and enter a clearing.  It is then that I see it.  It is then that I see the reason for Laura's guilty face.  The real meaning of Mindo.  And it isn’t butterflies and flowers.   The real meaning of Mindo?  Two words: Zip line.  aka:  extreme terror.  A ZIP LINE.   This is why we climbed straight up for two hours.  A clothesline.  We are going to be zooming down a clothesline ten thousand feet up in the air.

  They put the gear on me. I’m ok.  We walk over to the platform.  I’m still ok.   We get instructions from the guide… in rapid-fire Spanish. I am not ok.  Laura translates as fast as she can. What I hear is: “do this, don’t do that, do this, don’t do that.” I am going to die.   “Laura, I need a guide to go with me.” I have seen the guides hook themselves in with the little children to lead them on their ride.  “Mom, why are you freaking out now?”  Why am I freaking out now??  Maybe because I am in a rain forest in the middle of the Andes,  putting my life in the hands of gibberish speaking strangers, about to be hooked onto a tiny wire  so far above the earth I might as well be on the airplane that just flew overhead and I am expected to voluntarily leap off this platform.  I think that merits a freak out.   I stand there. Everyone is looking at me.  Waiting for me.   Wanting me to go.  How is it physically possible for my heart to be beating so violently yet I am not having a heart attack?  Because I think a heart attack would beat the alternative right now.  Ok. Breathe. Hook in. Try to stop shaking, it’s really, really not helping. Hang on for dear life and.......FLY.

Living outside my comfort zone in Equador.    

Triathlon training has me living outside my comfort zone once again.  That deer didn't stand a chance.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bike + Run = Death     part 2.

It all started out so perfectly.  Bright sunny day, not too hot.  Start of a three day weekend.  Coming off a rest day.  Beautiful.  Maybe if there had been a few signs.  Maybe if there had been only skim milk in the fridge for my coffee instead of whole or maybe if I couldn't find a matching barrette for my hair.  But no, my coffee was delish and I was having an awesome hair day.  No warning signs at all for what was to come.

I have thought a lot about this triathlon.  I have spent hours and hours and hours thinking about this triathlon. Researching on line, pouring over websites, marking certain sites as favorites and coming back to them time and time again.  And of course, dear 10 followers, by now you  know me well enough  to know that we are talking about triathlon clothing here, right?  So surely you can appreciate how huge a day it was yesterday.  I bought my triathlon clothing.  And it wasn't at all what I had planned.   I found a store in the next town that sells tri clothing.  And it was in that store that I discovered .....the suit.  The Zoot Suit.  What is a Zoot Suit you ask?  Quite simply, the Zoot Suit is a Superman Cape.  For triathletes.  I put the Zoot Suit/ Superman Cape on and became a triathlete.

And so it was, bolstered by my great hair and miraculous new Zoot Suit, that I decide today is the day.  The day of bike and run.  A combined event day.  I set off on my bike.  I bike and bike.  I bike up hills (good-bye free shows..thank you Zoot Suit), I bike down hills.  I bike faster than I have ever biked.  I am the wind in my Zoot Suit.  I bike for miles and miles then head home, psyched for my run.  The run.  My event.  The one thing I know I can do.  The one thing I know I've got.  Can't wait to see how I own it in this new, Superman Zoot Suit.  I race home.  Down the street.  Down the driveway.  Screech to a stop.  Jump off the bike, throw the helmet down, start off on my run and.....DIE.  My legs aren't working.  Where are my legs?  Where are my legs??  Did I leave them on the bike?  I look down.  No, I have them.   They are still attached.  Well, something is attached.   Something that looks like normal legs.  They have feet and knees.  But normal legs hold you up.   Normal legs propel you forward when you tell them to.  Normal legs have muscles that twitch and nerves that fire on command.  These things sticking out of my body lack any connection to the command center in my head.  They have a mind of their own.  And their mind is telling them to do the herky jerky and turn themselves around.

Surprise!  Alien legs.  During a triathlon you you grow alien legs.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

T minus 15 days.     Bike + run = death

I don't like surprises.  I like to be told things up front (unless it has to do with my birthday in which case, bring it).  I don't like to find out something happens a certain way and only after the fact learn everybody else already knew.  For example, when you are pregnant your nose gets stuffy. Nobody told me this.  Or that when you are pregnant your feet get bigger.  I'm not talking bigger as in a little bit swollen bigger.  I'm talking a whole size bigger as in clown feet.  And they stay that way.  Even after the baby's born.  Also, your joints become looser.  This probably doesn't mean a whole to you.  It didn't mean a lot to me, either.  Until.....

Once upon a time in a faraway land (Chicago) there lived a fair young mother, swollen with child,  her charming, handsome husband and their precious (and quite precocious) little girl.   One day after  handsome husband went off to earn his daily keep,  precious little girl developed a  horrible red rash.  "Oh dear," exclaimed our fair young mother, "what horrible plague has befallen our precious daughter?  I must bring her with great haste to the doctor."  She immediately set off.  They arrived at the doctor's only to discover he was on a house call  and would be a bit late.  "Well, that's ok," our fair mother said, "I will simply sit here on the floor with my precious young daughter and read to her."  She lowered herself carefully to the ground, gathered her precious young daughter in her lap and started to read.  Time passed. Books were read.  Eventually the doctor arrived.  Precious (and precocious) young daughter jumped up and exclaimed "I have a rash."  Fair young mother got up, too.  Or, to be more precise, fair young mother attempted to get up.   " What the  *#*&%#??!!"   It was at this exact moment, when fair young mother's knee exploded and would no longer work,  that fair young mother discovered your joints get looser when you are pregnant.  Surprise.

I don't like surprises.  Tonight I was surprised.
 To be continued......