Mommy Wants a Timeout

In which I contemplate absurd moments in parenthood, occasionally attempt to refer to myself as a “triathlete” while keeping a straight face, and maybe post some random pictures of stuff I’m knitting

Archive for the tag “triathlon”

Back in the Saddle, Again…

Ahhh, that was a nice, long rest, wasn’t it? I feel refreshed, energized, motivated…to blog again, that is. Sorry for the long delay…Since my Oly tri in September, life has been full: family, projects around the house, and yes, goal-setting and training for the next race.

I’m the Parent of a Kindergartener!

Hard to believe it, but the kiddo turned 6 in November. He’s happily attending a kindergarten a full half-hour away from our house. The long commute creates the perfect opportunity for him to pepper me with relentless questions like these:

1. How long until our sun turns into a supernova?

2. How much cheese can you eat before you have a heart attack?

3. Is a baby shower like a meteor shower, with babies falling from the sky? (I’m pretty sure he was joking with this one…At least I hope he was!)

All pretty reasonable questions, though none quite as wonderful as the one he asked me a year or two ago: “Mommy, what do the actors do when we press ‘pause’ on the remote control?” I laugh every time I envision a crew of tiny people inside our TV standing around waiting for my son to press “play” again.

Trying to find answers must count as some kind of training for my brain. I swear I’ve done speedwork on the track lately that was less exhausting than a 20-minute conversation with my son! Still, I’m loving this stage of his childhood, where his creativity and curiosity are expanding so quickly, but his little body still fits perfectly next to mine when he crawls into bed for a snuggle on Saturday morning.

I’m Training for a Half-Marathon!

After my Oly tri in September, I vowed to take a couple weeks off from training. I lasted 5 days before going out for a run. I waited a little longer before setting some new goals, then decided it’s time to jump back on the horse that threw me. My summer of training left me feeling stronger than I ever have, so I hunted out a training plan in which I run only 3 days a week, so I can continue to swim and bike at least once a week. It’s not an easy plan, though; I set a goal pace for my HM, and the plan calls for tempo runs, speedwork, and a long run all at prescribed paces to help me achieve that goal. There are no “easy run” days or junk miles, but I’m actually pretty happy with that. It’s nice to set out with a purpose for every workout, and so far I’ve been able to meet or exceed my goal pace with every one (although last week’s 6-mile tempo run nearly made me cry.)

I’m just hoping my body’s revolving display of nagging aches and pains (Left foot! Right knee! Left hip! Upper back!) doesn’t progress to anything steady and debilitating. With a little luck, February 16th will find me CRUSHING my half-marathon PR and nailing my goal pace! Either way, I’m feeling pretty good about the way I’m running right now.

(Disappears for 3 weeks, continues to train for her race and be a mommy, then remembers she has a blog again…)

And, here I am again. Today was the last run of the peak week of training for my HM. I’m proud to say I met or beat the prescribed pace for every tempo run, track workout, and long run I’ve done. I had weekly mileage totals that were way higher than I’ve ever had in the past, and all on 3 days a week of running! I cross-trained on the bike and in the pool, too, which was a nice break from the long run workouts.

At this point, I don’t even really feel that much pressure to nail my goal pace for the half. I’ll run hard if I feel like it, or back off if it feels like too much. The real victory I’m celebrating is having the self-discipline to push myself through mile repeats on tired legs, or an 8-mile tempo run when my stomach was cramping…or just getting myself out the door for a long run on a cold day when I could have stayed in my warm house.

So send me some happy thoughts on February 16th, if you think about it, but rest assured that I will be having fun no matter what. After all, the hardest part of my race is already finished.

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Whew…Thank Goodness THAT’S Over!

I did it! I finished my first Oly tri! With a smile on my face, no less…and in spite of yucky weather and a major crisis of confidence the week before.

If you want to read my detailed race report with times and everything, look here.

Here’s a more emotional, long-winded summary:

After a night of fitful sleep, I got up, got dressed, and forced some breakfast and coffee down. I packed up my bike and headed to Cathedral Park, which is less than 20 minutes from my house. (Finally! A race I don’t have to drive an hour for!)

I'll be swimming under this, then running over it!

I’ll be swimming under this, then running over it!

Since we weren’t supposed to park IN the park, I found street parking approximately 17 miles away, unloaded my stuff, pumped up my tires, and plodded to the transition area. On the way I ran into a couple ladies I’d done a training swim with, and we swapped hellos and well-wishes for the race before parting ways at the body-marking area. Since it was chilly and windy out, this race required our arms to be marked, instead of just the legs like I’m used to. I held up the line for a minute while I struggled out of multiple layers of clothes, got marked, then headed over to transition to set up.

The weather forecast had called for rain, so I had brought along a couple large plastic bags to place my socks, shoes, and jacket in to keep them dry while I was swimming. As it turned out, it didn’t rain much during the race, but it was a good thing that my shoes were pinning down my bags, because the wind was blowing…hard!

After pretending to listen to the pre-race briefing while putting on my wetsuit, I headed down to the boat ramp. I had a pair of throw-away flip-flops on, which meant I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the dagger-like texture of the pavement underfoot. I debated whether or not to even warm up in the water, since my wave wasn’t scheduled to start for 18 minutes after the race started. I did the smart thing and got in, got used to the water temp, then got out and shivered for what felt like forever until they announced my wave. I kicked my sandals off to the side near the boat ramp and tried to find a promising-looking area to start. It was a big wave, though…At least 60 people, and we were all sort of crowded together like cattle.

Needless to say, when the swim started, it was a madhouse. It took forever to make any forward progress, and I was struggling to find any place where I wasn’t swimming over or into another body for at least a hundred yards. After we rounded the first buoy, it started to thin out, and I found a rhythm of sorts. It was pretty windy, and the water was choppy, but I concentrated on keeping my breathing and my stroke as even as possible. It seemed to take forever to get to the turnaround, but it seemed a little easier on the way back. (The race directors had said to expect the opposite, due to an incoming tide, but maybe the wind direction had something to do with it.) I eventually made it back to the boat ramp, and climbed out of the water feeling like I’d done pretty well. I glanced at my watch and was surprised and a little disappointed to be about 3 minutes slower than what I’d expected, but I was soon distracted by the tiny knives of pavement that were trying to shred my feet on my way up the hill. Running wasn’t an option; I just sort of tiptoed, saying “Ow, ow, ow,” until we were on soft grass again.

When I got back to my bike I did a pretty good job of shedding my wetsuit, but could not for the life of me figure out why my helmet wouldn’t go on my head right. I took it off, looked at it, put it back on, took it off again, and finally realized my ponytail was too high and the helmet wouldn’t fit over it. Obviously the cold water had slowed my thought processes. I adjusted my hair, jammed my helmet on, and headed out for the ride.

The bike is by far my weakest event. I rode as fast as I could comfortably, and as usual was passed by a multitude of people of all shapes and sizes. I was able to pass a few myself, but they were almost exclusively on mountain bikes wearing running shoes. On the positive side, I was able to eat a few energy chews and drink lots of Gatorade, so I felt well-prepared for the run. Besides that, I was able to tolerate the ride pretty well, without too much “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” running through my head (though there was some, to be sure!) There was a mean headwind for most of the ride, which seems impossible, but I swear, the wind shifted about halfway through, and I was riding into it all the way out, and most of the way back.

My second transition went smooth enough, then I steeled myself for the run. It should be my strongest leg, but I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up after a long ride. Also, the run course had a long, steep uphill climb pretty near the beginning, which is just not fair. (Seriously, it was about a quarter of a mile of around 18% grade. Cruel.) This is the only place I walked during the run leg, and it was only about 15 steps, to keep me from crying. But when I hit mile marker 1, my pace was near 9 minutes/mile, which was way faster than I’d expected! I contemplated slowing down to conserve energy, but my legs felt okay, and I wasn’t huffing and puffing, so I decided to roll with it for a while. I started noticing the spectators along the course, and had enough breath to compliment them on their signs. (My favorite one said, “Hey! Where’s everybody going?”) I also chatted a little with some of the runners I passed and who passed me. The course stayed flat for the next couple of miles, and my pace stayed strong. Then it was time to climb over the St. John’s bridge. I was demoralized for a little while at how tired the climb made me, and I almost lost my hat in the wind. I thought about taking a walk break before telling myself I didn’t need it, I wasn’t that tired, I was strong, etc. etc. The positive self-talk worked, and pretty soon I was crossing back over the bridge and heading downhill again.

Remember that 18% uphill? Well, the course came back down that same hill. A runner I’d been exchanging leads and jokes with since mile 2 finally blew by me for good at that time, and I told her to go crush it. But my quads (and my nerves) can’t handle a downhill sprint, so I took it a little slower. Good thing, because I still had almost a mile of trail along the river and through the grass of the park before I was in the finishing chute. I passed a young woman who looked like she was struggling a bit, told her to push hard and finish strong, and then ran hard the last 50 yards to the finish. I’d run the best 10K time of my short career, and I knew it! I also couldn’t bend over to take off my timing chip without falling down; thank goodness for kind race volunteers. I traded my chip for a medal and a slice of watermelon, and wandered aimlessly in a post-race stupor…”Must text husband…Need water…Call mom…Where’s phone?…Hey, chocolate-chip cookies!” I ate some of the post-race food and eventually packed up my stuff and headed out as the gusts of wind started lifting up tents and knocking over fences. I walked the 17 miles UPHILL to my car (Seriously, not cool…) on tired legs, and headed back over the bridge just as a torrential downpour opened up. Whew…Thank goodness THAT waited until after the race!

Notice how that tree is blowing sideways? It was seriously windy!

Notice how that tree is blowing sideways? It was seriously windy!

So now it’s time for some rest and recovery. I know this was no Ironman race, but it did require a significant amount of training time, especially in the last couple months, and I’m a little burned out. I’ve got a few body parts (hip, back) that are begging for some time to heal, and frankly, some long-neglected housework to attend to. In time, I’ll set some race goals for the winter and next year, but right now I’m just going to enjoy having nothing to train for!

10 Reasons Why…

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Run My First Olympic Triathlon Tomorrow:

1. My back has been aching like crazy for over a week.
2. I’m afraid of drowning in the Willamette River
3. The water will be cold.
4. The weather will be terrible.
5. I’m afraid I won’t be able to take in enough calories without feeling sick to have the energy to complete the 10K run.
6. What if I fall off my bike in the transition area?
7. Speaking of bikes, what if I get a flat tire? I’ve still never changed one entirely on my own…My husband has always been there to tell me what I’m doing wrong, and take over when I get frustrated.
8. Speaking of husbands, mine has to work that day, so he won’t even be there to cheer me on.
9. Did I mention it will be raining, with a possibility of thunder? Seriously, who schedules a triathlon at the end of September, anyway? (A bunch of Oregonians, that’s who!)
10. I’m burned out from all the training I’ve been doing, and VERY ready to veg in front of the TV for a while.

10 Reasons Why I WILL Run My Olympic Triathlon Tomorrow:

1. I’ve swam in cold water before and it didn’t kill me.
2. For that matter, I’ve swam in the Willamette River before and it didn’t kill me (though I might be growing some mutant parts…)
3. I’m an Oregonian…I don’t let a little inclement weather spoil my plans.
4. Gatorade, Shot Blox, gummy fruit snacks…They’ve all sat well enough during my training, and no one ever starved in 3 and a half hours, so even if I don’t eat much, I’ll probably live through it.
5. I paid a lot of money for this race…And there are no refunds. (I’m a total cheapskate.)
6. I’ll earn a cool finishers’ medal to put on my wall.
7. Swimming under my favorite bridge in Portland and then running over it should be pretty awesome!
8. Lots of people have supported me in my training so far: my mom and dad have babysat my son while my husband worked so I could fit in a group swim; my friend brought her kayak out to the river to paddle alongside me while I swam; and countless other friends and strangers have given me words of encouragement and support. I can’t let them all down!
9. As a coach said to me last weekend, “You’re as strong as you want to be.” And I want to be just strong enough to finish this race with a smile on my face.
10. I’ll feel SOOOOOO much less guilty about spending 90% of the next week sitting around and doing nothing if I can tell people “I’m taking it easy for the week…I just did my first Oly tri!”

Yep, unless circumstances beyond my control intervene (like a cancellation due to thunderstorms) tomorrow at 7:48 a.m. I will be running into the Willamette River. I hope I will be tough enough to deal with whatever comes after that, but I know at least that I am tough enough to get to the starting line!

What I Saw on My Ride Today…

I went for a lovely 28-mile ride in the farmland west of my neighborhood in NW Portland today. Here are a few of the sights I took in:
A ghost town:
IMG_1544
Some tepees:
IMG_1546
A noisy, active community of honey bees in the middle of a field of clover:
IMG_1547
Also seen but not captured for posterity: A small plane towing a glider RIGHT over my head, lots of cows grazing peacefully, and about a bazillion other cyclists in groups and alone enjoying the beautiful weather.

In case you were concerned for my safety, I assure you I stopped my bike before taking any of these pictures. Maybe I was relaxed enough to take in the scenery today because I finally decided to let go of my plan to do the Olympic triathlon at Hagg Lake next weekend, and settle for the sprint this time around. My legs just aren’t ready to ride 25 miles of those hills before a 10K run…I need a few more months of consistent cycling first. Disappointing, yes, but I’m pretty sure it’s the right thing for me right now. Consequently, I’m going to try to start ENJOYING my long rides (and runs) more, instead of just grinding through them. My iPhone and I will be out there searching for interesting sights, and I’ll share them here!

A (Belated) Race Report and A Plan…

June 8th, 2013: Well, first of all, what a great weekend it was for a race! It was my 3rd year in a row at the Blue Lake Sprint Triathlon (though last year I was limited to the Aqua-Bike because of my foot injury), and the first of those years it’s actually been warm and sunny for the days leading up to the race. And this meant…water that was warmer than the low-60s!!! Yay for me!!! (I’m such a cold-water-weenie…)

If you’re interested in my splits, standings, or other race info, here’s a link to my online race report. But the following is a more general report about the experience.

First of all, I’m working towards the goal of completing my first Olympic-distance triathlon at Hagg Lake in July (more about that later), so this race was more of a tune-up/progress check than anything else; hence, I was MUCH less nervous about it than in my first season. (I’m pretty sure it’s just because I’ve been obsessing so much about the Oly that I actually forgot to freak out over this one.) Regardless, I was pretty relaxed coming into the sprint tri, bolstered by the confidence that I’ve been training for TWICE the distance, so this should be no problem!

I also had the benefit of having attended an open-water swim clinic at the very same lake the week before, which did a lot to settle my nerves after last year’s famous panic attack.

So when race day dawned, I was surprisingly at ease. I got up, ate breakfast, loaded my gear into the car, and followed the single handwritten instruction I’d left by my water bottles the night before: “Don’t Forget Your Bike.” I drove the 45 minutes to the park with the radio blaring, singing along to my favorite songs with the abandon that can only come from knowing you’re alone in the car and the traffic is minimal because most sane people are still in bed. I got to the race site plenty early (in contrast to the previous year, when part of my panic was probably due to the fact I showed up too late to warm up properly.) I set up my transition area, walked down to the lake with a 15-year-old newbie to show her the course, and jogged a little to get warmed up. I shared the comical experience of getting into my wetsuit with a couple of rack-mates (nothing fosters instant friendship like squashing someone into neoprene while forcing their zipper shut, does it?) I made it back down to the beach in plenty of time to get in the water and get warmed up, time made even more plentiful by an announcement that, due to the traffic jam of cars waiting to get into the park, the race start time would be pushed back 15 minutes.

I said this to a couple first-time triathletes, and I will echo it to anyone reading this post who might ever want to do a tri: NOTHING helps ease the panic of an open-water swim like getting in the water ahead of time, and getting used to it. Swim a little, swim a lot, but make sure you get your face in it! I probably swam a total of 150 yards, and splashed around a little more, before I felt ready to go.

When my wave waded in, I found myself near the front; not necessarily where I wanted to be, as I know I’m only an average swimmer, but looking around, I couldn’t figure out who looked slower than me (it’s really hard to tell, you know?) so I just stayed where I was, and dove in fast when the horn blasted. There was a little contact in the beginning, but nothing too major, and I settled in to a rhythm pretty quickly. I even managed to draft a bit off someone in front of me, until she veered off in a direction other than the one I was following. I found a pace that felt fast but comfortable, and actually enjoyed myself as I rounded the first bouy and headed towards the second. After I rounded the third and headed into the last 200 yards or so, the water felt a little choppy and I got a bit queasy. Not sure if it was nerves or seasickness, but I talked myself through it and made it to the finish in what turned out to be a tie of my PR of 17:17.

Transition went smoothly enough, and for the first time I managed to get my wetsuit off and my bike shoes on without sitting down! The little accomplishments mean so much…

The bike leg…I said it a couple years ago, I said it last year, and I said it last fall, before completely ignoring my own advice and blowing off bike training: I REALLY NEED TO GET BETTER AT THE BIKE!!! I’m on my way to building up endurance since I’ve been riding consistently since March, but it’s going to take awhile for the passee to become a passer on the bike course. Once again, I don’t think I passed a single rider, and I got passed by so. many. people. I consoled myself with the fact that I’d probably gotten out of the water faster than some of them, and I might catch one or two on the run.

T2. It happened. Wasn’t interesting.

The run. I opted to go Garmin-less so as not to be annoyed by trying to remember to turn it on, wait for it to find a satellite signal, etc. Consequently, after pounding out my bike leg as fast as I could so as not to be TOTALLY humiliated, my legs felt pretty rubbery, and I had no idea whether I was running fast, slow, or somewhere in-between. I did remember to hit the “lap” button on my stopwatch, and was shocked to note that I hit mile marker 1 at about an 8-minute mile! In other words, about 36 seconds faster than my mile pace from my previous 5K PR. “Better slow down,” I told my rubberlegs, but I don’t think they were taking in any messages from my brain at that point. So I concentrated on ignoring the side cramp I’d developed (probably a result of breathing harder than I ever had on a run before!) and not falling down as I navigated the course through some long grass and a treacherous downhill dirt-and-rock trail that led to a (fenceless, unprotected) walkway along the lake. (I’d really like to talk to the mastermind of this particular triathlon run course…It’s very strange.) I crossed the finish line with nothing at all left in my legs, then probably caused massive internal eye rolls to the teenage worker collecting timing chips as I fumbled with the safety pin holding the velcro of my timing chip strap in place. (Hey, I was being extra cautious, you know?)

After the race, I walked straight down to the beach to reclaim the neoprene swim socks I’d ditched at the last minute outside the starting corral, then headed over to the food tent. I met up with my transition-buddies, shared race reports, glanced at my official race results, then packed up and headed home just in time to shower before heading off to my son’s T-ball game.

Mission Accomplished!

Mission Accomplished!


All in all, I was pretty proud of my performance at this race. It was an overall PR, a tie for a PR in the swim, and a HUGE PR in the 5K. The only thing it was missing was a lightning-bolt style revelation to tell me whether I would or would not be ready to do an Olympic-distance triathlon on a super-hilly course in just a month. In fact, the only revelation I got was that I can run a 5K much faster than I thought I could, and I’m definitely solid on the sprint distances.

So the next step is to keep building up the bike volume, and maybe do a test ride on the course I will be facing in July. If the distance and the hills don’t seem too daunting, my Olympic-distance debut will happen July 6th at Hagg Lake. If I’m not feeling ready, or if it seems too stressful and anxiety-provoking, I’ll do the sprint and try not to beat myself up about it. After all, this is supposed to be a fun hobby, right? There’s always another race in the future…Like maybe the Portland Triathlon on September 22nd? An opportunity to swim (upstream) in the lovely, less-polluted-than-it-used-to-be-but-still-not-pristine Willamette River? Sounds good to me! I’ll keep you posted…

My Big Year…(Or, A Post About Birds and Running)

You know, as in “The Big Year,” that movie with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black? About birding? This is my post about birds. Birds and running, actually, or how birds make running interesting (to me, anyway) and therefore much more tolerable.

The reason I’m thinking about this topic is that I received a round of applause from motorists along my running route last week, and it had nothing to do with my attire, my speed, or the fact I was NAILING my tempo pace just a day after a long, hard bike ride. No, they were clapping because I stopped running to jump off the sidewalk into the busy street, stop traffic, and herd a crowd of ducklings across the street after their mother. (I’d tried to talk her out of crossing a moment before, but she was determined. “Don’t do it, you stupid duck! The lake is on this side of the road! Think of your children!” She didn’t listen, she just quacked in agitation and tried to waddle past me.)

I’m sure we were a comical picture, me trying to hustle along these ducklings who were so tiny they kept falling over trying to run away from me. Once I got them safely over the curb on the far side of the road, (Have you ever watched very small ducklings trying to hop up on a curb? It took each of them at least three tries.) I looked up and saw drivers and passengers clapping for me. I gave them a wave and started running again with a smile on my face that lasted the rest of the run, even as I tried to salvage my tempo pace.

It was the second run in a week that was slowed down by my fascination with birds, especially baby ones. On Thursday I stopped in the middle of an 8-mile easy run to take this picture of Canada geese with a big group of goslings; 8 or 9 if I counted right.

Not the best quality picture...My eyes were still dilated from the ophthalmologist's that morning.

Not the best quality picture…My eyes were still dilated from the ophthalmologist’s that morning.

I’m lucky enough to live and run near greenspaces that are filled with different creatures that entertain me. Here is my “Big Year” list of birds I’ve seen during this year’s training:
1. Red-tailed hawk
2. Great Blue heron
3. Red-winged blackbird (these guys sing to me while I run…I love it!)
4. Mallard duck
5. Northern coot
6. Spotted towhee
7. Flicker (These woodpeckers are one of my favorites)
8. Robin
9. Scrub Jay
10. Junco
11. Sparrow
12. Bushtit
13. Crow
14. Seagull (They must be a little misguided, since there’s a mountain range and at least 60 miles between here and the ocean)
15. Anna’s hummingbird
16. Goldfinch
17. House finch
18. Chickadee
19. Wood duck
20. Barn swallow (While I was running along a path beside a blackberry hedge on one side and soccer fields on the other yesterday, a couple of these guys started swooping in circles around me. They stayed with me for over a quarter of a mile, crossing right in front of me. At first it was kind of fun. Then it got a little creepy…What was their game, anyway? I never figured it out.)

I’ve also seen a few other species I haven’t identified, since my Field Guide to Birds of North America is too heavy to fit in my hydration belt pocket.

All these birds, along with the occasional rabbit, raccoon, deer, or gopher entertain me while I’m running and cycling, and help me appreciate the surroundings I get to train in. And if a photo opportunity or a chance to do some animal rescue interrupts a workout, I’m okay with that. I’m doing my best not to take my triathlon hobby TOO seriously!

Dogwoods in bloom...Another beautiful sight captured while on a run!

Dogwoods in bloom…Another beautiful sight captured while on a run!

Saying “No” to Fear

I know I promised my next post would be pictures from Kauai, and it’s long overdue, but today I watched the coverage of the attacks at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and it got me thinking about fear and my relationship with it.

My generation’s early adulthood was shaped by the events of September 11, 2001. Like everyone, watching those planes fly into the World Trade Center shocked me and changed my perception of the world I live in. It also made me afraid. Afraid to fly, afraid to travel, afraid to do many of the things I had always dreamed of doing, and had, in fact, done fearlessly in my earlier life. (I was twenty-one that day, and had already gone to Europe a couple times by myself.) Add that to my deep-rooted fear of failure and humiliation, and my twenties were characterized in a large part by an unwillingness to try new things; getting married, working on my career, and having a baby were safe, expected, and predictable things that made me feel secure.

Then I turned thirty, and started evaluating my life (and my fears.) I made a conscious decision that I would not let myself pass up things I wanted to experience because I was anxious about what could go wrong. It wasn’t so much a decision not to be scared as a commitment not to let that fear stop me. Was I afraid to fly? Sure. But I was more afraid of never seeing a sunset on Maui, so off we went. Afraid to swim in the ocean? Heck, yeah…But more afraid that if I didn’t control my fear of fish, rip tides, big waves and sharks, I would miss out on the opportunity to see something remarkable…So I dived in. (Okay, okay, I waded in, slowly, and the first time a fish swam near me I ran back to shore, hyperventilating, until I got the nerve to go back in again, but you get the picture.) Afraid to travel solo with a three-year-old? Yes, but more afraid I’d never get to see Las Vegas if I didn’t take advantage of the opportunity I had. So I hit the strip with a kiddo and a stroller, and it was awesome! Oh, and I was also afraid I would fail if I tried to finish a triathlon…But I sucked it up, learned to swim, and the rest is history.

Last December, a shooter opened fire in the mall I wasted countless hours at as a teenager. Two people were killed, people I’d knew personally had to run for their lives, and our community was stunned. Two days later, another gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Connecticut. I don’t even need to describe that unspeakable tragedy; you know it as well as I do. My five-year-old son was oblivious, and went on with his life as usual. But I was threatened by a wave of fear that made me want to avoid public places, to keep him inside, to shelter him from everything I could for the rest of my life. Then I gave myself a mental head-shake, and thought to myself, what’s the point of living if you’re going to spend all your time trying to anticipate every possible threat? Not only will you be eaten alive with worry, but you’ll miss out on all the joy in life, and probably end up getting blindsided by some crazy thing you never could have prepared for, anyway. I’m not going to do that to myself, and I won’t let my child grow up that way either.

Watching the Boston Marathon tragedy unfold, I feel the temptation to withdraw, to try to shelter myself and my family from the outside world. But I know this is an irrational tendency. As frightening as each of these events is, they’re so much more rare than they seem. And every day, millions of acts of kindness and heroism go unrecognized. I will keep reminding myself that there is more good in the world than bad, and I’m going to embrace life instead of being a victim of fear. I’ll never be one to go rushing headlong into danger or anything, but every time I consider not doing something I want to because I’m afraid it could turn out badly, I’m going to remind myself not to let the fear make my decisions for me.

Running…With Bugs

Ahhh, the joy of having your beloved 5-year-old crawl into bed with you first thing in the morning, cuddling his warm body against yours, snuggling close for a kiss, sharing his plethora of cold germs…Yep, this little guy is the reason I’ve spent more time WITH a cold than without so far this winter; at least it sure feels that way.

Nonetheless, I’m managing to get my three-a-week runs in, and I’ve only missed one or two of my twice-weekly swim sessions. As far as I’m concerned, I’m putting those miles in the bank just in case I get REALLY sick one of these days, or need to take a few days off for a minor injury. And I’m trying to stay cheerful in spite of my ever-present sniffles…Though I do wonder what the people I pass on my usual running route think of me, smiling and waving as the snot drips down my face. Most of the time the rain washes it away anyway, so maybe it’s not that big of a deal. All part of the joy of training in the Oregon winter!

In just nine short days, I’ll be saying goodbye to the nasty weather and aloha to the warmer rain of Kauai! Alas, it’s only for a week, but remembering last year’s trip to Maui in a pneumatic walking boot, I have high hopes for this being a wonderful vacation. Ocean swimming, hiking, kayaking…I’m prepared to have an awesome time, with or with out viral companions!

Stay tuned for pictures in a few weeks!

2012, The Year in Review: My Identity Crisis

Since my injury last spring effectively ruined my summer identity as a wannabe triathlete, I spent the year considering some alternate identities to hold me over until I’m back on the race circuit.

I tried for “fashionista.” Unfortunately, the summer’s cute dresses and skinny cropped pants looked a little funny with the clunky running shoes I keep my custom orthotics in, so that idea never really got off the ground.

I flirted briefly with being “SuperMom,” but again, the foot injury interfered with my ability to chase the child around the park and backyard for hours, which seems to be the kiddo’s idea of what SuperMom should be doing. (I will stubbornly cling to my identity of “Pretty Good Mom,” however; I think the hours spent doing craft projects and teaching him to love veggies has earned me that much.)

So finally, after much deliberation, I settled on being “Suzy Homemaker,” at least until I’m back to my former triathlete-ish self.

Here is the substantiating evidence to support my self-ordained title:

See how my garden grows? Lots of healthy organic veggies!

Just a bit of this summer’s homegrown produce.

Homemade jam…Made from berries the kiddo and I picked together.

I'm sporting just one of around 8 sweaters I managed to knit over the year.

I’m sporting just one of around 8 sweaters I managed to knit over the year.

The downside to the massive amount of time spent knitting while I waited for my foot to heal…was a horrible case of wrist tendonitis, which put me on the knitting DL for a while. Who knew you could get injured sitting on the couch recovering from injury?

Fortunately, the foot is mostly healed, and the rest of the body is gradually remembering what it’s like to run 6 or 7 miles at a time. Swimming is going, well, swimmingly, and cycling…Okay, pending better weather and a saddle that doesn’t leave bruises where bruises shouldn’t be, this WILL be the year I establish a good relationship with my bike!

I’m not a New Year’s Resolution type of gal, so I won’t set any hard and fast goals for the upcoming year. Still, I have high hopes for finishing an Olympic distance tri, improving my 10K time, and getting some quality open-water swims in. On the parenting side, I’m hoping that consistent discipline paired with lots of love and affection will help us navigate us through this current rough patch of defiance and into calmer waters by the time kindergarten starts in the fall. And if he just grows out of it on his own, well, I have every intention of taking all the credit as a self-proclaimed “Pretty Good Mom.”

Here’s what WordPress had to say about my blog over the past year, if you’re interested:

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Swimmer’s High

Lately I’ve been feeling like the management at my gym has been adding some sort of substance to the pool water that makes it especially viscous. It’s really the only explanation for why I’ve been training and training, and still feeling so sluggish in the water. I’ve been busting out Total Immersion drills and interval workouts twice a week for months now, with no visible payoff. Yes, my strokes-per-length have decreased, and I’ve seen a few other minor improvements, but it’s been a long time since I’ve had a major swimming breakthrough. Until today, that is.

This morning was Superhero Day at my son’s preschool, so I bundled him into his Batman T-shirt (complete with cape) and dropped him off in the company of Ironman, Superman, a Transformer, Catwoman, and, inexplicably, a fairy princess, then headed off to the pool. (Okay, there was a latte stop, some Facebook and Twitter time, a load of laundry, and a kitchen cleanup in-between, but you get the point.) I faced my morning swim with my usual reluctance and grudging resignation, but guess what, folks? Today, it DID NOT SUCK!!! In fact, today I finally had the kind of revelatory experience that my hardcore runner friends annoy me by bragging about: a runner’s high! Except it was while I was swimming! (I’m still waiting for it to happen while running, actually.)

I’ll spare you the details of my 700-yard warmup and just say that when I started what was supposed to be 500 yards at moderate effort, and then some 100-yard repeats, I began to feel like a superhero myself. I was gliding through the water effortlessly, painlessly, (but not slowly,) breathing easily…Even my flip turns were smooth! And at 500 yards it felt so good I decided to keep going until it didn’t. 800, still great. 1000, no problem. 1200, I could keep going forever. 1400…My swim cap, which had been creeping a little further back with each flip turn, finally popped off my forehead and tangled itself around my ponytail like one of those little bun-covers the Mennonite women wear, leaving me with a swirl of blonde bangs obscuring my view. That’s where I finally stopped. 1400 yards continuous swimming, a flip turn at each end, and a heart rate that never went above 130, at a pace under 2 minutes/100 yards.

I’ve swum further than that without stopping before (though it’s been a while). I’ve swum faster, too. But it never felt that easy, and I always WANTED to be done at the end. Today, I really felt like I could have gone on for miles, blissfully. Rather than welcoming an excuse to stop, I was truly annoyed that I had to. (Swim cap issue aside, I had to go pick up my little Batman from school.) But with no time or wardrobe constraints, I would really have liked to see how long I could have kept going.

I’m under no illusion that my next swim will be so easy, or that this was anything more than a lucky day where things just came together right. But I might be a little more excited to head to the pool for my next few workouts. In any case, I should probably send a letter to the gym’s management thanking them for altering the chemistry of the water to make me, finally, a good swimmer!

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