Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon: race report (guest post)

Coming into the Marine Corps Marathon my biggest challenge, enemy and hurdle appeared to be the miles ahead and the voices in my head. I knew I can run faster and farther than I did at Philadelphia last fall. I knew I could run faster and farther than I did at National this spring. In both of those races I hit a wall where I simply could not push any more and needed time to walk and slow down before running again. My goal was to push that wall all the way back to Iwo Jima, to shut down the voices in my head, which always give up long before my body. I thought those voices would be my biggest enemy. 

But before I could get to that wall I needed to face something I had not expected. The day before the race, the day before my 40th birthday, I went to packet pickup and got my number and shirt, when the Marine who handed me my shirt said “Semper Fi.” I said thank you and turned away, just in time for the image of my father, a mean bastard, SOB who I spent the first half of my life hating, popped into my head, the one honorable thing that he was most proud of in his long sordid life being that he was a Marine. I broke down. I broke down through the expo, out the doors, down the sidewalk and into my car, where I sat for a while, out of control.

On MCM morning the race announcer did not help. He went through a long diatribe about remembering that “since 1775 the Marines have fought at home and abroad, in every fight and every battle to keep us free, and this race stands as a way to honor that sacrifice.” Then he shifted to reminding us of all the preparation we had done for this race. He said to think about all the mornings we got up in darkness or missed time with our families, or ran when it was raining, or when it hurt, or when we had other things we needed to do. He said this race also stands as a way to honor our sacrifice. There were not enough pre-race water bottles for this kind of manipulation. I shook the hand of every Marine I could find, wished every runner around me grace and strength, and felt elated just to get going.

A big shout out must be given to George Buckheit and Capitol Area Runners. I did not train with them for this marathon, but his suggestions about the course were invaluable. “All the danger here is in the first nine miles.” The beginning of the race is uphill and downhill and uphill and downhill. Coach Katie set out a perfect race plan for me based on that. The goal was simple: 9:30/mile until past the nine mile mark, and then 9:00/mile until Crystal City, then 8:45s coming home. That appeared to be the least risky, highest likelihood of reward plan to break four hours. So for the first few miles I just kept 9:30 in my sights, getting as far away as 9:42 at one point, but getting most of it back on the downhills. Steady, steady. I honestly don’t remember much until we headed out of Georgetown. I remember us going down Canal Road and seeing the leaders coming back down the long hill on the opposite side. At this point I had a math problem in my head. If we were going downhill and they were going downhill, there had to be a big-ass uphill at some point in between us. 9:30. Stay calm. Keep the pace.

By the time we found that big ass uphill, turned around and came back through Georgetown, I could see the people who were just going out where we were miles before, many of them already walking. I knew they were going to have a long day. But my day was going fine. The people of Georgetown were great. They were lively and upbeat. And one little kid had the best sign of the day, “We Can Hear You Farting.” This beat out, “No more Saturday long runs means more Friday night sex.” Many, “Rock me like a hurricane” and “Paul Ryan already finished,” signs. And one I have now seen at all three marathons, held by women, that I still do not understand, “Free Nipple Massages.”
Anyway, enough of this 9:30 stuff. Through Georgetown meant we past the nine mile mark. I flipped from podcasts over to music and ran downhill down Wisconsin singing Gnarls Barkley out loud. The comforting thing about much of this marathon is how many times I have run much of the course, past the Kennedy Center, along the mall, around the memorials. This is running home for me. The bad part of this race is that Hains Point is also running home for me: flat, windy, boring, soul-sucking, mind-numbing running home. This was the halfway point of the race and the hardest part. This is where I felt my ability to hold 9:00/miles start to slip away, and the bad voices in my head start to take over, and the self-doubt and self-destruction start to cut into my race plan. Damn you, Hains Point.

Coming back out of this there were people everywhere, all the way to the end of the race. All the way up to Congress and back (they weren’t running a f’ing marathon). All the way across the bridge and toward Crystal City. I was looking forward to Crystal City all day, because I knew several things were going to happen here. I was going to see my two favorite women in the world, Katie and Molly. 
There would be hoards of cheering people. I would try to see if I had anything left in my legs (or more accurately my brain). I would get to play my “Last Mile” playlist. My girls did not disappoint, giving me a huge lift. My music did not disappoint. My brain did. I just didn’t have anymore left. I didn’t walk. I didn’t hit that wall. I didn’t run a mile that started with 10. But I knew here, there was no chance at four hours. And then we were back on 110, passing the place where I started in the grass in tears. We turned left to head up to the Iwo Jima memorial. Yes, that was me singing, “If you ever ever feel, like you're nothing, you’re fucking perfect, to me,” at the top of my lungs up to Iwo Jima.

Once the race was over I did what I had done twice before. I collapsed in the grass around the memorial and cried like a baby. I am forty years old. By the time my father was this age he had been in two marriages, two wars, had four or five kids, multiple careers, two names, a criminal record. It’s too much. It’s too much to equate one life with another, or to think that I am affecting anything by running around in circles. 
I honestly don’t know if I will ever run a marathon again, or if I will ever try to break four hours. I don’t know if I have the desire or hope in me. I know I will never be the man my father was, neither having his honor nor his atrocities. I know I will never be the men or women in uniforms whose hands I shook and high-fived all day long and in whose shadows we ran. No, this was just a long run that paled in comparison to their sacrifices. Yet, I can say this, the Marine Corps Marathon is different than any other. Running it, and preparing for it has changed my life. It has given me goals and confidence and heart I did not know I had. Each time I run a marathon my life gets better. So I leave this one behind, my tears in the grass, my honor and my memories. And I move forward to a better life, towards the next distant, seemingly unreachable shore.

Monday, October 29, 2012

deep rest

I really feel as if Cedar Point was my season-ending race, and everything that came after was just a bunch of half-assed training shenanigans.
I wrestled hard with my bicycle motivation in particular throughout October, and last Saturday was thrilled to unpack it from the car and back into the basement, where it has lain, still in pieces and covered with mud, for the past week.  

I decided a few days before B2B that I was going to take a solid week off after the race.  I've read a pile of articles/blog posts/chapters in books recently about rest following a long season, and it appealed to me quite strongly.  Last year I felt the same drop in motivation, although it didn't show up until after I ran a half in late November and was staring down a long winter of trainer workouts and time in the pool.  From my training log, I can see that I took off four days in a row, and that was enough.  Poking back through my log even further, I don't think I've taken more than a day or two off in a row for over three years now, with the exception of that rest last November and the week Graham was sick post-CdA in June.  And while I did not exercise, that week was certainly not restful.  
I also decided that I would do this because I had enough little niggles in my body that I wanted to give everything time to just chill out.  My AC joint in my shoulder was really inflamed, and after a few weeks of rotator cuff strengthening and the usual home remedies were not working, I got a cortisone shot in it to really attack the inflammation.  I had a "massage" but I would actually call it a "serious deep tissue work OMG THAT HURTS" appointment on Thursday, and then just let everything heal and wash away.

So a solid week off it was.  No bike dates, no running, no "I'll rest except lift and take a yoga class," no swimming, even walking quickly was banned.  In an unfortunate twist of timing, I ended up traveling for part of the week which detracted from my laying around and eating cookies, but I still managed to stuff in quite a bit of laziness and gain at least 3lbs in the remaining days.

So how do I feel, a week later?  Well, fat, for one thing, but not in a panicky way, more of in a laughing "wow look how quickly I got soft" way.  Most of my niggles feel much better or are gone entirely.  Spending hours in a plane crunched up didn't help, but even that has washed away.  I think allowing myself to take a lot of time off was a really good mental reset, as well.  I'm ready to run again, lots of little stuff, I'm ready to be in the pool again, I'm ready to get moving again.  Motivation is sneaking back.  

For the rest of the month, I'll be on the "doing things I want to do with friends and no watch" plan.  I've gone out for two short runs, one a chatty loop and one a solitary loop, neither with any kind of electronics attached to me.  I'm going to take a couple of yoga classes.  I'm going to do lots of short little runs in all my favorite places before I pack up and move to CO.  I am NOT looking forward to the altitude adjustment period that comes along with a move to Boulder, so I'm even happier to be keeping everything short and social for a while.  I'm going to do a little bit of lifting, but nothing with any real weights, mostly injury prevention type stretchy band work.  I am going to do swims that I love and ignore my bike.  I might jump in a half marathon just for the joy of running.  And when December 1 rolls around again, I know that I'll be ready to put the wheels back on my bike and settle into a winter full of solid aerobic work, which I am already looking forward to almost as much as I was looking forward to a week off.  I had a great season of triathlon, albeit a long season, and now it's time to rest and put down deep roots for next year.  

Tell me, friendly friends.  Do you take deep rest at the end of your season, or am I just making up crap so I can be lazy?

Friday, October 26, 2012


So, for someone who is accustomed to documenting every inane detail of her life online, the past few weeks have been really difficult.
I've felt like I've had nothing to blog about, but in reality, I've had nothing that I've been able to blog about.
Mostly for fear of jinxing myself.
I am terrible about keeping secrets, so I've been a giant pain in the internet's ass and have gotten a lot of WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON emails from friends.
I did start a new job about three weeks ago, and it's a fabulous job filled with amazing people and I leave every day happier than I was when I got there.
And I'm pretty sad to be leaving them, along with everyone else in DC, in a few short weeks.
Because last night I accepted a new job, and we are moving.
To Boulder, Colorado

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

a friendly ass

While we were standing around thinking about using the porta-potties one more time Saturday morning, the poet took a couple of quick action shots.
I got called out for not posting the most important shot he requested.
I fear this is a sign of old age, or perhaps I'm straying too far from core blog content.
So I offer this as a penance for my thoughtless error.
I had to dig around in the archives, but it turns out I've been storing up a bit of a collection.

Heart you, friend.  And the internet hearts your ass.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Beach to Battleship Half: race report

The poet joked that I should call this race, "Beach to Convention Center" instead, to address the elephant right away.  I DNF'd.  I have a lot to say about it and I'm not 100% pleased about the way it happened, obviously, but in the end it was my choice.

We drove down Friday morning, caravan-ing with Emily.  The two of us decided together to sign up for this race WAY back in January, and I was glad that we were both still toeing the line.  I had a last-minute crisis of confidence on the way down, mostly because we were expending a lot of time and effort to get to the race, and I was worried that I was going to have a really bad day based on my lackadaisical approach to training over the preceding 5-6 weeks and then I've wasted the poet's life on another race day for nothing and OMG spiral of mental disaster, there I go, falling off the cliff.  However, a chat with Sonja (as usual) set me straight, and somehow I got it in my head that I didn't need to worry about numbers, this race would instead be a victory lap tacked on the end of my season.  And looking back at my season, on a whole, I'll call it a success.  I had plenty of ups and downs and almost no perfect races, but I grew and learned and fuck it, it's MY season and I get to call it a success if I want to.  So I wasn't going to worry about time, just go have fun, and I finally felt at peace with wrestling into the wetsuit and hopping in the water.  Victory lap.

A ton of people have told me that this is a great race to do, and I was ready to believe them.  However, the pre-race logistics were a major pain in the ass.  There was a ton of construction going on in Wilmington, which is obviously not the fault of the race, but it made everything worse.  We rolled into town and hit the expo up around 1pm, and by the time we had driven to T2 (clear on the other side of town from the convention center) and dropped off my bike, it was after 5pm.  Traffic was a nightmare, and having to pick things up and drop them off in different locations miles apart was really inconvenient.  It makes me not want to come back to the race, and also want to avoid races with two different transition areas because it's just THAT annoying.
Once we were done with race prep, we had just enough energy to pick up some pizza and collapse into bed, covered in puppy.  I did what I usually do the night before a race, which is read some of my favorite motivational things and spend time deep in thought, and I dropped off to sleep easily.  Victory lap.
The morning was more logistical hassle, but everything got done and I finally boarded the trolley with Emily and a wetsuit full of snacks.  We ended up hanging out in a parking lot across from the beach start for a while and got to see the full-distance athletes swim by.  The water looked FAST, and that was exciting.  If I had one goal for this race, it was to use the infamously strong current to swim myself to a sub-30 minute half IM swim.  YES I AM A BIG FAT WATER CHEATER.

Swim: 1.2 miles, 26:32
I've realized that my favorite swim starts are in-water wave starts.  There is just something really fun about bobbing around with a bunch of age group ladies, laughing and chatting and waiting for the horn to go off.  I bumped into some bloggers and twitter folks while we were waiting to start and trying not to bang into each other from the current.  The water was a lot warmer than I expected, and even though I was grossed out by the salt water, I was actually happy to start swimming.

The thrashing was pretty serious once the horn went off, but settled down and smoothed out rather quickly.  I couldn't seem to find any feet, and my right goggle came loose and filled up with water, which was fine because I wanted to sight to the left anyway.  I didn't even realize until just this moment that there was no panicking at any point in the water.  So there's some progress this season.

There was a wide left turn about halfway through the swim, and I didn't take it wide enough.  After a few hundred yards, I sighted and realized the entire field was about 100 feet to my left.  Sigh.  I pulled harder with my left arm for a while until I was back in line.  It was impossible to tell where I was in the field, and my cranky right shoulder was doing some complaining.  This still wasn't the effort level I feel that I should be swimming in a half-IM swim, but who cares?  That crap is for next year.  VICTORY LAP!

When I noticed how close we were to the dock, I peeked at my watch and thought it said 28:xx.  I swam a little harder because I really wanted to get under that 30.  I was a little light-headed when I pulled up out of the water, but blitzed up the ramp and over the mat.  When I hit the lap button, I saw that my watch said 26, and I laughed, hard, all the way through transition and onto the bike.  When I got out on the bike, still laughing, I had the thought about how in my race report I was going to write about how hard I worked all season in the pool and be smug-yet-modest in preaching that work and dedication pays off and I'm just so cool.  And then I'd skip a line and say: "JUST KIDDING, MOTHERFUCKERS, HUGE CURRENT!!"  (At least I make myself laugh.)

T1: 3:58
So, fun fact about this race.  T1 is REALLY FAR.  Over 1/4 mile far.  Up the ramp, over the mat, down the sidewalk around the corner up the road across the road back down the road into transition (which is huge).  I sat down on the ground to pee and put my shoes on, and then I was confused about what to do with my bag and had to ask someone, so yes, my transition was really slow.  No, I still don't care.

Bike: 56 miles, 2:58:04
Happy to be on the bike, as usual.  There are a lot of twists and turns to get out of town, and I almost turned left into a fence, but managed to get up and over the bridge and out without too much hassle.  I let my first 5-mile split click by without putting anything down the hatch, and then started working my EFS bottle (scary foreboding music should be played here).

I've read lots of race reports about this race, and most of them talk about how serious the wind is.  The race was moved up by a few weeks this year, so many people hoped that it wouldn't be as bad.  I haven't done the race before so I can't speak in comparison, but it was hard.  I used to get really pissed at riding in the wind but this season I've made peace with it a little bit, and can hunker down into a good mental space and just pedal.  

The other thing that should be discussed is the drafting situation.  Now, I know.  I KNOW.  The flatter the race, the more drafting you will see.  But the drafting in this race was just disgusting.  And Sonja just talked about it in a really good way in her Kona race report, so I won't repeat everything she said, but in a crowded flat race, sometimes you have to back off to ride legal.  That happened a lot, and in one situation, I had to ride about ten beats below my race pace heart rate for at least twelve miles because there was a long line of cyclists ahead of me and I didn't want to burn matches by riding nutty hard around them, but they weren't riding fast enough that I could ride appropriately hard and not get sucked into their air space.  I saw long pace-lines of girls in matching collegiate kits fly by, and big packs of strong-looking men with women hanging off the back.  One huge pack went by and I counted four women hanging out in there with my AG written on their leg.  And there were a few younger girls, also in collegiate race kits, who were pace-lining AND blocking for a long stretch of road, so no one could pass them.  While this was happening, an official pulled up, watched them ride for 2-3 minutes, gave them a verbal warning to move to the right and back off each other, and then rode away.  So did they stop working together?  Absolutely not.  Did we see another official the entire ride?  Nope, and despite the pretty tough stretches of wind, a quick eyeball of the race results shows some women's bike splits that are FAR faster than I would have expected on the day.  I'm not mad about people riding faster than me, for the record, because I am usually somewhere in the upper-middle of the pack at best, but the amount of cheating I saw on the ride makes it hard to take the results very seriously.

There were several long stretches where I had to slow down to stay out of a draft zone, and then hammer to get around a few people, and repeat.  I got passed several times by men who would then sit up and drink (annoying, don't do this) right after passing.  Did I stay 100% legal the entire time?  No, I'm sure I got sucked into it here and there, and I'm not trying to say that I rode a perfect race, but I worked hard to stay legal.  And if nothing else, it kept the ride from being boring, so there's that.

Climbing down off my crabby little soapbox, it was about 1:40 into the ride when I noticed something wasn't right.  And by "noticing," I mean I burped which turned into a cough which turned into spewing bright yellow vomit all down the front of my race kit.  My stomach didn't hurt at all, but it worried me a bit.  Bright yellow is the color of PreRace, a First Endurance product I've been racing with all season and never had problems with before.  

I waited a while before putting anything else down, and got a gel down with some aid-station water without issue, but as soon as I returned to my bottles, the burp-vomiting started again.  I wasn't upset, I was puzzled because my stomach felt fine, and it wasn't a heaving-vomiting, it was more like a burp with a surprise.  My race nutrition was identical to a T to what I raced with at CP and CdA, and I couldn't figure out what was going on.  

I rode hard back to town, and borrowed Caroline's run mantra for the last thirty minutes or so, "YOU love to run!  You are SO GOOD at running!" and it made me laugh.  Rolling into T2, I had the idea that I would sit down for a few minutes, take a gel to get back on top of my calories and make the shaky hands go away and then roll out.  But as I dismounted and ran up the ramp, I had another one of those burping episodes and a volunteer saw it, and grabbed me.  After a round of conversation with the race director that happened to be standing by, I turned in my chip and called it a day.
I will say that I've done plenty of Setup Events races in the past few years, and I have never had a bad experience until this one.  While the specifics don't matter, I know that it is the privilege of the race director to make whatever decisions he wants to make and re-make, and it's the privilege of the timing folks to be as rude and insensitive as they would like to athletes.  But the experience that I had following my choice to call it a day in T2 was deeply unpleasant and makes me want to steer clear of these races in the future, or at least this race and division of the company.  The Maryland and Virginia divisions have different management, and those guys have always rocked my socks off.  And I think that's really all I need to say about that.  
I was pretty upset and unhappy about how my day ended on Saturday.  Graham and I sat on a little bench a few blocks away from the convention center by ourselves and I had a good little self-pity crying fest (and then found $16 on the ground).  But I am already over it.  I had a blast on the swim and bike.  I got my victory lap, and I chose to not go out and fight through a long run while barfing my brains out.  I've done that before, that's been my journey, and on Saturday I decided I didn't need another notch in my "will of steel" race belt.  My choice, I will say it over and over and I'm willing to own it, MY CHOICE.  I know that I could have gotten through the half marathon - the run being the thing I was actually looking forward to all day - but I felt no need to dig myself into a giant hole.  What purpose does that serve?  This wasn't my A race, this was a fun race to end my season after a rocky patch in training, not to mention a rocky patch in life, and the only thing completing the race would have proven is that I am either a tremendous badass who can fight through terrible conditions and still succeed OR that I am too fucking stupid to know when to call it a day.  I've done both of those things in my life plenty of times already.  There is a time and place to be mentally tough, to push through to that finish line, and I understand that, but I also feel like it's okay to recognize when it's not necessary.  So I'll store up those feelings, I'll bottle it all up until next year, and when I'm at mile 18 of the marathon in Lake Placid, I will unleash that strength and stomp it all over the road.  Because that's when I'll want it, that is definitely when I'll need it, and knowing the difference between these two situations, I think, is another lesson that I am glad to have learned.  And I am at peace.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

puppy love graham

Dear Graham,

You really scared us this year.  Not appreciated.
I know that you were sad and lonely while we were gone, and that you didn't do it on purpose.  That's why you got to come to Ohio with us instead of staying home.
You're three years old now, and it's easy to say that those three years have been some of the best of my life.
You wiggled into my life right around the time I met your daddy, and you've been here through every minute of the story of us.  I loved you the first day I picked you out of the box.
I know life has changed a lot for you since then.  You got a sister, and then another one, and you don't understand why they steal your toys and your snuggling, but they are your family too.
What I've learned from you is that love comes from everywhere.  It's simple and uncomplicated and it is what saved your life.  
It's the reason you are standing here, right now, with your head on my leg while I type, begging me with your eyes, can we PLEASE go outside?!
It's so hard to look back on this year and see anything other than the tragedy we went through, but I can say this now: going through hell and coming out the other side has changed all of us, for the better.
And every person that says to anyone, "But it's just a dog," has no idea what this kind of love is about.
How it follows you everywhere.
How it makes you a softer, kinder person, humbled.
How your heart just beats in a different way.
Little Graham, you may think that you are just a chapter in my life, but the truth is, you were my beginning.  Our beginning.  And you will always be the whole story, the happy ending to our fairytale.
I love you.  We all love you.  Happy Birthday.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

wordless wednesday

After WEEKS of whiny workout notes and "I don't wannnnnna ride" mornings hiding under the covers, my cycling mojo finally poked its little head out of the ground yesterday AM for my last (sigh) ride before my race this weekend.
I had a decent ride, but it's easy to tell that my fitness has lost some depth.  That feeling was magnified this morning on the run when, as usual, 45 seconds at race pace left me gasping and snorting and wondering how the F I'm going to do that for 2+ hours AFTER swimming and biking (spoiler: I'm not).  Maybe I'll take bets on how badly I'll PW each distance.  Ohhh, a BLOG CONTEST?!  Sure, why not?  Guess my times at each distance.  Winner gets a beer/cupcake on me.  Live far away?  I'll mail you a pile of Gu.  Hate Gu?  How about a visor, un-sweated upon.  Don't want to shade your precious eyes from the sun?  Fine, I'll mail you Molly.  Don't like golden retrievers?  Then why, exactly, are you here?
Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

redhead wedding

A certain redhead got hitched this past weekend so I trucked out to Michigan to celebrate her joy.  The first thing I did when getting off the plane, however, was hop in Kevin's car and go for a swim.  My shoulder started acting up while we were swimming but I did manage to scare the shit out of him with my favorite "swim underneath the person doing freestyle and make scary faces" trick so I called it a win.  No pictures of either of us in a bathing suit to put here, you're welcome.

The wedding was actually officially subtitled "blogger bonanza" so it seemed only appropriate that I shack up with another one of my favorite redheads and party the city down.
We managed to eat our way through the rehearsal dinner and sleep for a solid nine hours before waking up to discover that our long run plans had been thwarted by 40º weather and pouring rain.  Which meant we hit the crappy treadmills in the hotel gym for a solid double-digit run, and then ate our way through the hotel breakfast before getting into our best duds for the event of the weekend.  Proof that I own a dress, even if it is the only one and I bought it in 2002.
The wedding was short and sweet and Lauren and I managed not to make too much of a ruckus.
The bride was gorgeous, of course, in that flawless way that all brides are on their big day.  (No, I didn't take any pictures with a real camera, thanks for asking, and PT hasn't uploaded them somewhere I can steal them yet, rude.)
And the reception was perfect.  The toasts were not too long, the food was delicious, the dancing was ridiculous, the bloggers were everywhere and the booze and oreos flowed freely all night long.
Nope, I wasn't kidding about the oreos (Yes, I do have a race in five days, thanks for not mentioning it).
Or the boozing bloggers, for that matter.
I was so thrilled that I could be there this weekend to witness my happily-in-love friends pledge their love to each other while wearing shiny shoes, and it was equally nice to escape DC and hang out in person with some of my favorite people that I've met through the internet.  And really, any night where the last dark and blurry picture in my cell phone camera looks like this has got to be a winner.
I flew back on Sunday and have spent the past 36 hours eating kale and sweating out bourbon, so I expect that my 70.3 this weekend is going to be a perfect display of fitness and preparation plus careful attention to nutrition and recovery.
Or, you know, not.

How was your weekend?  How much bourbon did you drink?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

three things thursday

In order....

1. Swim.  My back got crunchy and twisty after Cedar Point, and then as stress descended all of my normal extra optional swims got pitched.  That means I've only been in the pool a couple of times in the past few weeks.  On the one hand, when I showed up on Sunday to swim with Caroline for a small chunk of hundreds, my incredibly rested shoulders pumped out some surprising times.  On the other hand, I feel like I've really lost my feel for the water and am flailing a bit.  I'm looking forward to a ton of time in the pool this winter and maybe, finally, possibly joining a master's group to give me the beat-down I need to make progress.

2. Bike.  Motivation is rock-bottom.  I love riding when it's cool and brisk, but the crazy weather-roulette of the past couple of weeks has meant that I've ended up doing some rides in the under-50º weather and it's destroying any desire I have to really be on the bike.  I missed more than a few rides in September while trying to balance life stress against training stress, and I feel like I'm in this spiral of feeling guilty and worried about the training I've missed, which then makes me want to hide in bed, so I miss more training, so I berate myself some more...and so on.  And there is absolutely no way that I'm in a good mental space to hop on the trainer and bang out a 3.5 hour ride right now.  I'm ready for a little break from the bike before the aerobic winter trainer work starts showing up on my schedule.  I've finally wrapped my head around the fact that all of this is pretty normal based on the roller-coaster of the past few months, but I'm counting down the days until next weekend, when I can "race" and then hide the bike away for a while.

3. Run.  After accidentally giving myself a pretty bad case of shin splints because I'm an idiot that doesn't track shoe mileage, I ended up taking ten days off entirely from running.  Monday I did a short birthday run with the poet, and I did another one yesterday, but I haven't run longer than 3 miles in...ugh...quite some time now.  I'll do a longer run tomorrow and an even longer one this weekend in between hanging out with giggly friends and drinking my face off picking up after Lauren celebrating a wedding, but I'm going into next weekend's race on some pretty under-trained legs.  I had a couple of great long runs in September so I'm just going to have to hope that those pull me through to another 2+ hour half marathon after some downstream swimming and flat riding.

The sum total of all of these updates is that I'm looking forward to being done racing triathlon for the season.  I'm not burned out on training, exactly, it's more that I've been ready for a big aerobic block for about a month now.  I want to settle into winter training, I want long sets in the pool and lots of easy runs and very short trainer rides and, God help me, MAF tests ahoy.  And I actually considered not racing next weekend, but Sonja talked me off the ledge reminded me that I have a year of fitness to rely on and while I'll probably be missing some top-end speed (ha, like I have speed), now that my cold is gone I can go out and have a fun day.  No time goals, no pressure, no worrying, just enjoy one final hurrah.  

And with that, friendly friends, I'm going to crawl back in bed and wait until it warms up to go ride.  Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

mostly wordless wednesday

I've stopped wanting to make a really big fuss about my birthday as I've gotten older and crankier, but I had a lot of fun this weekend with friends and family.  It started out with a trapeze class (never knew I was afraid of jumping off a tiny podium 25 feet off the ground):
Saturday was spent riding with friends and hanging out with family:

And Sunday night brought the home version of the DC cupcake tour.

So I don't necessarily think that such a celebration was in order, but I'm happy to have closed out another year feeling surrounding by love... and completely stuffed with frosting.