Monday, December 29, 2008

Caffeination

What is going on these days? Did someone come out with a research study stating coffee causes cancer or other terminal health risks?

First, Jo announces she will give up Starbucks. OK, I have to hand it to her, that was probably a smart move. The girl was having way too many venti sized drinks per day, in addition to her own brew at home and the office. If you can drink a cup (or pot) of coffee at 6pm and still go to bed before 3am you have developed a tolerance for caffeine. I have to admit though. I did ponder the thought of increasing my own caffeine intake to equal Jo's just to see if it would make me a little bit faster on my bike.

Then I get an email from Sarah about detoxing from sugar and coffee. I'm not really sure what the rest of the email said because again, I am hung up pondering the "no coffee" idea. How can you not drink something that smells so incredibly good. Even when I was pregnant and was told caffeine was bad, bad, bad, I converted to decaf. I had to have that morning arouma and my cup filled with sugar and Coffee Mate. By the way, I don't do sugar anymore and I only use Coffe Mate in moderation. But if Starbucks ever starts filling their karafe's with Coffee Mate instead of milk and creamer I'm in big trouble.

I was lucky enough to have to go back to work today while the rest of the family continued to enjoy Christmas vacation. You can imagine how excited I was to get up this morning for (the gym) work while everyone else slept nice and toasty in their beds. I came home from work and after dinner Milan tells me,

"I didn't have any coffee today."

OK, that explained why he was a crab a$$ when I got home. Here I thought it was just because he spent the whole day home alone with the kids, to which I silently thought "hee, hee". So I asked,

"Why didn't you have coffee? Are you sick?"

"No, I just wanted to detox myself. I didn't have any wine either."

What the he&* is going on! I know New Years is right around the corner, but coffee is NOT a resolution you are supposed to make! I can go along with the wine. That will last maybe a week or two, but by the first Steelers play off game I'm predicting wine and/or beer will be in our house. But what did coffee do? Coffee is like one of the major food groups in Serbia. They are so serious about their coffee drinking they drink it Turkish style (although we prefer to call it "Serbian" style). You mix very finely ground coffee, finer than espresso, into boiling water. Make sure you remove the boiling water from the burner otherwise, you will end up with a big coffee explosion all over your stove. They drink Serbian coffee with every meal in Serbia. And if visitors stop by, which is usually the case (and did I mention the visitors are always unannounced because it would be rude to call and say you were coming by), you have more coffee. Sometimes the coffee is accompanied with a shot of homemade plum brandy. I guess they counterbalance each other.

I got way off my soap box here.

I'm not sure what has prompted my hubby to decaffeinate. He is even drinking TEA now, like 3 times a day! And it's not the caffeinated green tea, it's sleepy chamomille tea. I know JH is loving this. I'm anxious to see how long it will last and what the effect will be. I'm predicting I'm going to come home tomorrow from work and the house is going to upside down, Nada will have Luka locked in his room, and Milan will be passed out on the couch asleep from lack of caffeine and massive withdrawal headache. Hopefully I won't decide to make this same crazy "detox" resolution. I am confident that the stomach flu I had on Christmas detoxed me of EVERYTHING. I mean, there are some things I can rationalize about giving up completely, but coffee just isn't one of them. Going to Starbucks is an event for me, one that I enjoy and look forward to. Going there to order a decaf or tea just wouldn't be the same for me. Plus, the arouma of the coffee would just make me cave anyway.

This is always a great time of year, a time full of hope as we look forward to a brand new start, and as we look back and give gratitude for the blessings we received in the past year. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and successful new year full of dreams come true. Best wishes to everyone as the new year approaches!

Even if it's without coffee :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas vacation

I'm so late getting this out. I hope all of you had a great Christmas! Mine was...restful. I somehow came down with the stomach flu Thursday morning at 1am and dealt with all those lovely GI functions for about 3 hours that morning. That left me with the aches, chills, and fatigue all day Thursday. By Friday I was able to get dressed and make a early morning trip to Walmart to stock up on Christmas sales since I still have Serbian Christmas on January 7th to prepare for. I didn't have enough energy yesterday for a run, which is too bad since it was 70 here! But my appetite still hasn't returned yet either, and I'm surely not going to complain about that!

For the most part we've been inside playing Mario Kart Wii. It is very cool that the kids have been able to play against their cousins in Pittsburgh (who also got the same gift) via the internet connection. We've even played against people we don't know internationally. I'm thinking a Mario Kart "Tri Blogger Chic" tournament would be so fun! And probably just a little competitive. So who has a Wii?

Our crazy weather has again changed. It's still 70, but the winds are gusting at like 25 mph and the chance of rain and severe storms is 80%. Looks like another day of Mario Kart and Wii Sports. Maybe I'll break out the trainer and see how my body responds to some exercise. By tomorrow the temperature will back down to 40 and sunny, perfect running weather.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Resolutions

I searched for a picture of the January cover of "O" magazine, but I couldn't seem to find one. I even thought of creating my own magazine cover with a photo of me 10 years ago (or even just 4) and one of me now with the same caption "How did I let this happen?", but there was no way I was going to embarrass myself that much. If you're on the internet a lot, which I'm sure you are if you're reading this, you may have seen Oprah's recent news. She has publicly announced that she has gained back the 40 pounds she lost 4 years ago and now weighs 200 pounds. You'll have to get a hold of her magazine to read about her thyroid problems that contributed to this weight gain, but basically she admits that she used the thyroid problem as a license to eat and stop exercising.

Ten years ago after having my first baby I was obsessed with losing weight. My whole life I was, let's say "thick". Finally, after going through pregnancy and feeling the size of a house for several months, I found the motivation to exercise and eat less and I lost an additional 15 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I know, it's crazy. Most of the time you hear mom's talk about how they can't get that last 15 pounds off and I actually lost twice that. Yes, nursing did help, but I was super conscious of what and how much I was eating, and I tried to exercise a little every day. When I say a little, I mean a 3 mile easy run on the treadmill or Tae Bo while the baby napped.

I am definitely not an ectomorph, you know those lanky, thin girls with no muscle mass. I've always done some kind of exercise and will try just about anything (I even tried diving in 9th grade), but I've never excelled at one sport. Once I quit the volleyball team my sophmore year of high school(big mistake), and especially college, my exercising consisted primarily of weight training with little aerobic activity, maybe a mile walk here or there. One of my good friends was really into lifting and was even getting into fitness competitions so I had a workout buddy. Plus, I liked socializing with the hot, buff guys! Unlike my friend, I never got the nutrition part so all of my muscle was covered up by fat, which I was too dumb to realize. I also smoked in college, and for a few years after graduation, so that also made aerobic activity very unappealing. I started running in 1996 to help quit smoking (and it worked!), and I really wanted to run a marathon (thanks again to Oprah). Yeah, that's me, if I'm going to do something I'm going to do it BIG! I also lost all of my baby weight the second time around, even got down to my lowest weight ever of 113, but that happened for different reasons. I'll just say it was a super stressful time in my life and I didn't want to eat.

So I recently started thinking back to what made me successful 10 years ago and why have I been failing so miserably the past year or more? Why did I fail in all those attempts in college and high school?

Determination! That's about all I can say. After I had Nada I was focused on the finish line (what I would feel and look like without the weight) and when temptations arose I just thought about that finish line and the end result. I was like a horse with blinders on. I was not easily distracted by food and if I didn't feel like working out I thought about how many calories I was missing out on burning. I'm also not a patient person so I knew the more I deprived the faster I'd lose. Top that off with nursing and I was on a roll.

Then I started thinking about the past 3 years and "how did I let this happen again?" I had a lot of pressure on me from every direction the past 3 years. There was no time for just "me". Yes, I would go out and train and in a sense it was "me" time, but was it really? It was still pressure. The training was pressure to accomplish a goal. I was training and working out, but I wasn't taking time to stop and smell the flowers, for lack of a better explanation. I'm still not. Probably because I'm still trying to determine what it is I can do for me that will be good for me? Yes, Oprah's magazine is what got me thinking about all of this, along with a whole lot of other things I've been struggling to sort through. Bob Green's article in that same issue also made me realize why I crave that glass of wine when I get home from work and why I can't just eat 1 or 2 pieces of pizza. And it gives me hope! Yes, I fell off the wagon, but I can get back on. As Oprah said "If you're looking for a reason to fall off the wagon, the universe will give you one." Isn't that the truth! Unless you're living in a box (or work and live with a group of triathletes), there is temptation everywhere! I had heard that it's even harder to keep weight off than it is to lose it in the first place and I thought that was ridiculous. It is so true. Dieting and losing the weight isn't the finish line, not when you're addicted to food and the pleasure it provides.

I'm hoping I can put the blinders back on and keep them on. I'm not going to pressure myself anymore or beat myself up for my failure. I'm learning from it. I'm learning what my weaknesses are and what triggers them. I'm also going to make a good effort at using what I know works for me and apply it. And I'm definitely going to set my Tivo to record Oprah in January and hope that I'll once again draw some inspiration from her! Yes, I know she has a personal trainer available to her at her disposal, but as she has said, that trainer isn't the one huffing it out for her on the treadmill. I do envy the personal chef because it sure would be nice to come home from work and not have to worry about what's for dinner, but I don't envy her social calendar. I'm guessing she is surrounded by high quality food and wine a whole lot more often than I am. I only have to fight the daily cookies or chocolate someone has left in the employee kitchen!

If you all have time stop by and read Beth Shutt's recent blog post, "A Little Diet Fun". I loved it! I have learned so much about nutrition over the years, it's no more a matter of being uneducated, it's about applying it, but I still continue to learn new things and find helpful advice. Kellye also has a great post, "Oprah-ology", talking about her own struggles with maintaining good nutrition. You were brave Kellye for laying it all out there and should proud of your accomplishments.

And one last thing, "GO STEELERS!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Starbucks or McSpresso?

How dare they?

I caught this on the news this morning while on the treadmill. It gave me something to think about for at least 2.5 minutes. Does McDonalds really think they can compete with high quality, good tasting coffee?

I had to google this some more. Appears that McDonalds has strategically placed these billboards, and similar ones such as "large is the new grande", around the Seattle area near the Starbucks corporate headquarters. Starbucks has declared they will not engage in an ad war. I don't blame them. When your coffee is that good there's nothing to defend.

I didn't have anything better to post about and this was the most interesting thing I heard all day. I'm definitely not going to get into the Rod Blagojevich story. What a disappointment. As if the Serbs needed more of a bad label.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Walking in Memphis

The kids and I got a lot of walking in this morning while "spectating" the half marathon, which is a good thing considering it was the only workout I got today. And dang, it was cold! Who knew spectating would be so much work? I guess it's a little harder when you're carrying a 45 pound 6 year old on your back. That was just to make my workout more challenging, not because Luka was whining (yeah, right!).

Good news is, we found a Starbucks very close to the start of the race. Oh, and we ran into Jennifer Garrison on our way there! I knew she mentioned running this marathon a while back on her blog, but really didn't think I'd actually see her. She was with her brother, who by the looks of, is probably just as fast of a runner as Jenny. I told her who I was (current blog lurker who watched her swim laps in that itsy bitsy Lisle Athletic club pool) and wished her a good race.

So we finally get to Starbucks (thank God, it was already 7:38). Is it me or do you all find it funny that the girl at the counter asked me if I was racing? I showed up with lipstick on and jeans, and ordered a hot chocolate (for Nada), Strawberry Cream Frap (for Luka), and a regular coffee for me. I guess she was trying to be funny. Or maybe it's just because I look so darn fit and athletic! Yes, yes, that is definitely it!

Bad news is, we never found the McDonalds for breakfast that I promised the kids we would visit after the race started. But the kids got over that pretty quickly once I explained that they don't serve happy meals with toys for breakfast and we'd definitely get them some Mickey D's for lunch. Problem solved.

I have to say that yes, there was whining about the cold and all the walking. And yes, I did lose my patience a couple of times. But for the most part the kids and I had a good time walking around downtown Memphis this morning. Luka and Nada also realized how much fun it is to see how many runners will slap your hand if you stick it out as they run by. Maybe next time Milan will run the whole marathon and we'll have to time to catch a nap after some spectating and the breakfast buffet at the hotel.

The race was a success all around. The kids and I saw Milan at the start and mile 3, and we were at the stadium and caught him running in to finish and he heard us yell "Yay, Tata!" Milan also managed to meet his goal of finishing in under 2 hours. Just how much under 2 hours we're not sure because he borrowed my GPS and it malfunctioned. That has never happened to me, but I'm not going to make any accusations that it had anything to do with the person operating it :-) I can't remember just how many minutes after the official start he crossed the timing mat (they sent them off in groups), but I know it was definitely 10 minutes and his clock finish time was 2:06 something. Regardless, it was definitely under 2 hours, his achilles didn't cramp up on him, and he felt good.

Now I have to back up to the night before the race, which was the best part of this whole trip for me. I got to have dinner, a SUPER LONG dinner, with my some of my fellow blogger triathletes from Memphis. I've already met Damie and Joy in person, and I know Angie from back when we did our first tri here together, but I finally got to meet Laura in "real life"! Too bad she was sitting at the opposite end of the table from me so we didn't get to chat much. We did concur that the Steelers are definitely going to whip the Cowboys tomorrow afternoon and that we are so excited we'll be able to watch it down here. I also got to meet Samantha Mazer and her friend J.C. (I hope I got that right). Damie told me Sam was coming to dinnner, and although the name sounded familiar I didn't know who she was. Let's just say she's this phenomenal young athlete about to graduate college who has a very bright triathlon future ahead of her. She's been added to my list of blogs to read! It's usually the opposite, I read someone's blog for a while and then meet them. This is nice having a new blogger friend that I've already met in person!

And now it's nice to be home and warm again. I don't know if watching the race sparked any interest for me in racing again. I was telling Joy and Damie last night that any emails I get with the subject of: 'Ironman', 'triathlon', 'bike intervals', 'masters', 'Trisports sale' (you get the picture), I pretty much delete without opening. Makes me sad that I've lost all of my enthusiasm and motivation for training, but I guess some of us sacrifice a lot more for Ironman than others. Here's to hoping 2009 will bring back my spark!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Been a while

Haven't had a whole lot to post about lately hence the lengthy absence. It's weird because in the past I used to have thoughts all the time about things to put on my blog, but lately that just doesn't happen. Maybe it's because I'm not training for a race and have nothing interesting to say. I guess when life consists of getting up at 4:45am, working out, rushing home to get ready for work, getting the kids to the bus stop by 7am, working from 8-4:30 (really 7:30-5:00 if you count the commute) Monday through Friday, coming home to get dinner ready, help the kids with homework, and then be in bed by 8:30pm (me and the kids), there's really not a whole lot of exciting things to blog about. Grant it, I do get help from Milan with the before and after work activities at the house, except he leaves for work at 6:40am and Wednesday evenings he's been running after work. But fortunately, he hasn't had many out of town trips lately so I'm not complaining.

Weekends are great, but too short, and there are so many other things I'd rather do than sit in front of the computer to type about my boring life. I'm just glad I still have time to read everyone else's FUN blogs! It's a good thing I can access Blogger from work so that I can stay up to date, or try to. It's also a good thing that I can't access Facebook! I'm really not complaining at all that things are calm for the moment. It's a super nice change compared to everything I had going on this summer. It's also great getting a pay check now! Too bad I have to start paying back those school loans come February.

We'll be staying here in Little Rock for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it doesn't look like we'll be having any visitors from up north either. The kids are bumbed that we're not going to PA for Christmas. They're dying to see snow. They'd also like to visit with their grandparents and cousins, and they'd especially like to see their grandparents' little pug, Ellie. I'm still being bugged on a daily basis about getting a dog and I'm still holding to "no, not right now". My excuse about not having a fence and being at work all day has been trashed. Our next door neighbor just got a Doberman puppy and she's crate training it because she works full-time and doesn't have a fence either.

As far as the kids' activities, Luka is starting upward basketball tomorrow night. He's never played basketball so we'll see how that goes. Nada just finished rehearsing for her Family Night piano performance and is now in the process of practicing for her Christmas recital. She's doing great and I couldn't be more proud of her. She also had straight A's on her report card recently, which has pretty much earned her several unplanned shopping trips. She also realizes that her awesome grades keep her mom off her back about getting involved in more "athletic" activities. The girl just has no desire to play a sport. I'm hoping by 7th grade (in two years) she will decide to play volleyball and love it as much as I did in junior high.

Milan is getting ready for his first half marathon 3 weeks from this Saturday in Memphis. I was going to run it with him, but realized the other day that the 1/2 was already sold out. When I called Milan to let him know he asked me if I was going to run the WHOLE marathon. Um, NO!!! I guess he thinks I'm really a superwoman and can just go and crank out a marathon without preparing for it. The two of us ran together a few weeks ago on a Saturday morning. Seriously, had he not been with me I would have cut that run a lot shorter. He was surprised when we finished that I don't talk when I run. I explained I didn't talk because I felt like crap! We were both surprised (and disappointed) at what our average pace turned out to be. We surely thought we were running about a minute faster. We decided it was all the wind that slowed us down. So, the kids and I will be out on the course cheering him on during his race. I'm really looking forward to it since I'm the one usually on the other side of the fence. It will be a nice change.

I've had fleeting thoughts about plans for 2009, but since I'm still so unsure and unmotivated about racing I'll hold off on that post.

Good luck to everyone at IM AZ this weekend! And don't forget to watch IM Louisville on Versus this Sunday!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween!

The kids had a great time trick or treating. I am amazed at how long they walk on this day without any complaints. They picked up way too much candy. I am thinking of creative ways to get rid of it without them noticing, but not sure how successful I'll be.

I stayed home to pass out candy so I missed out on the extra exercise. I'd say the best trick-or-treaters were the tiny ones, like under 3. Too cute! One little guy walked up to the door (I was sitting on the one step we have in front of the door) and he said, "This is a good house. No steps!"

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Trainer entertainment

This was my cool down, helping Luka beat the bad guys on Lego Star Wars. I actually did put some effort into this "long" ride. Long these days for me is anything over an hour. Since I've been running on Saturday mornings there's no one to bike with on Sundays. As beautiful as the weather is, I'd rather not go out alone and have to worry about fending for myself should a stray dog come along. I guess after group riding for so long I got spoiled. But it was nice to be home with the kids Sunday morning and hang out. Nada read, Luka played Playstation, and Milan went to Hot Springs to say good bye to the priest at the Serbian church there. The trainer to me is just as hard, if not harder than riding outdoors. There are no down hills!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Happy Columbus Day!

I never thought I'd like this holiday so much. It's pretty cool to be home ALONE and getting paid for it! My first paid holiday, and after only 2 weeks of working. The kids had school today, they're off this Friday and next Monday for parent/teacher conferences, and Milan's company doesn't offer this as one of their paid holidays. Oh well, guess I'll have to deal with being lonely today!

I promised I was not going to waste my day away and wonder at the end of it what did I do with my time. I also promised I was going to sit down and enjoy the quiet time, at least for a short while. I really don't have much on the agenda. A little laundry, a trip to the library for books for Luka, and maybe a stop at Academy sports, just for fun.

After the kids got on the bus this morning, the bus that seems to be arriving a minute earlier each day, I headed to the gym. Since I didn't swim at all last week (and loved it!) I decided I better go suck it up in the pool. I refused to go swimming at 5:15am last week when most mornings the air temperature was barely 60 degrees. I made that mistake one morning a few weeks ago and realized how stupid it was. Fortunately, the "bubble" is being put on Thursday so I won't have that excuse anymore. Nothing exciting that I can say about my swim, and definitely nothing I can brag about.

I watched bits of the Ironman on Saturday, just like everyone else did. I decided that I do want to go to Kona some year. But I don't want to compete, I just want to hang out all week people watching and then cheer at the race. Hopefully some year one of my fast friends will qualify and ask me to come be their sherpa. I would bring my bike and actually pretend to be a triathlete while I'm there. I would even get in the ocean (accompanied by some fantastic swimmer that could save me if needed) because it would be really cool to see pretty fish while swimming and not just blackness...maybe. I'm not sure about the jellyfish though. Maybe that's something you get used to. Or maybe I'd say forget this, I'm going to get coffee at Lava Java. Maybe someday I'll get ART certified and be lucky enough to work at their booth (or whatever it is) and do the technique on a bunch of buff triathlete men. That would be pretty cool. I just decided that even if I never compete at Kona, it would be really fun to be there.

The Chicago marathon was yesterday. I thought about that a lot. It's such a great marathon, in a really great city. Can't believe I was lucky enough to live there for 3 years. Made me think I might want to go back and do the marathon, but then I remembered that now I live in Arkansas and training for a fall marathon sucks! It's pretty funny because I trained for the Boston marathon while living in Chicago, which meant training through the winter. I vowed I would never do another spring marathon ever. Now it's the opposite.

Had another great run on Saturday morning. Instead of going down to the river where it's flat I decided to run in my hilly neighborhood. I knew it would challenging and that I might feel bad about it, but I did it anyway. Heartbreak hill is nothing compared to Rahling Road, and I'm lucky enough to have it almost in my back yard. I was surprised, and happy, that my 8 mile hilly run was actually 3 minutes faster than my flat run the previous week. The downhill must have helped, but that's OK because it's great for leg turnover too. There is just nothing like a good, hard run. I rarely feel that way about a bike ride, and surely not about a swim.

Off to enjoy my "holiday"!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The best run ever!

I just got back from a run, and it was definitely the best run I've had post-Ironman. Seems like my legs are finally back! I decided last weekend it takes me a full 30 days to really recover from Ironman and feel as good as I did before it.

After sleeping in this morning, which was so wonderful since I got up every morning this week at 5am, I headed down to the river to run. My plan was 8 miles in zones 1-2 for most of it and then "tempo" pace the last 20-30 minutes. I felt pretty good the first 4 miles, but was worried about the last 4. I also had some GI issues half way into the run, of course when there is no port-a-potty in close proximity. I finally had to head for the trees. It was to the point where I didn't care who saw me. Whew! Feeling 10 pounds lighter after that little detour really helped pick up my pace. It was hard, my HR was high (it hit 194 today), but my legs wanted to go so I sucked it up and let them. I just wanted to stay sub 8:00, and I was doing a pretty good of it as long as I stayed focused.

OK, so here's the best part of the run. At about 1 mile left I heard some voices behind me. I thought it was cyclists, but they weren't passing me. Then I realized it was a group of guys running. Well, I wasn't about to get passed by some guys the last 1 mile of my run (Mel, I thought of your last "training" race). I had no idea who they were or how fast they were running, but it forced me to keep up my pace and not fade. With about 200 yards left to my stopping point (my car) one of the guys passed me. He must have been about 17 years old and super lean. I think I could have picked him up and tossed him over my shoulder. His pace looked effortless, which made me try to mimic him, and I think I actually felt my own pace feeling a bit easier too. I saw him look down at his watch, so that made me wonder just how fast are we running? 6:49 holy cow! I don't know if I was relieved or disappointed that I was back at my car. I know I was relieved I wasn't going to run over the bridge with these guys 'cause I don't think I had that in me, but it sure was fun having these guys to motivate me. When I stopped the rest of their group went by, probably 5 of them all equally as young and lean as their leader, and I said, "Good job!", to which they all replied, "You too!". I swear I detected surprise in their reply, but it was probably pure sincerity. I think I gave them a run for their money! Either way, I feel really darn good that I was able to hang with these young running studs. Wish I could join them every Saturday morning for their training runs!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Colds are the worst

The above quote is from the book I'm reading. I've highlighted so many great things in that book. I could write a whole blog about the inspirational things I've read so far.

I somehow caught a nasty cold. I tried to convince myself Thursday afternoon that it was just allergies, but I gave up on that idea after a dose of Zyrtec did nothing to help. I spent all day yesterday with a kleenex box at my side trying to stay on top of my dripping faucet nose. Claritin didn't help. Advil cold and sinus was a little better. It at least got me through 15 minutes of reading to Luka's class without embarrassing myself (or Luka) with snot dripping down my face. I had plans to meet up with the girls from Memphis for dinner, but Damie ran into some car problems. It was probably better we postponed our plans. I would have hated to sit there blowing my nose every 10 minutes and risk passing on my germs to the Ironman in Training girls.

I was supposed to ride in the BDB 100 today (not the 100 miles, maybe 50), but I decided last night that would be foolish. Considering that my head feels like a ton of bricks this morning, that was a good decision. At one point I thought I'd just draft on the tail end of the group so I could just blow all the snot rockets I needed to and save on Kleenex. But I don't think I would have been seeing straight honestly. Sometimes rest and listening to yourself is the best medicine. And I have the opportunity to do that.

I'm finally starting work on Monday! It'll actually be four days of boring orientation that I already went through in May for my student internship. Nice thing is this time I'll be getting paid more than double for it! I'm excited about starting my new profession and career. I guess I'm not nervous since I spent 10 weeks at the VA doing my internship. It's really nice already knowing the people I'll be working with and the dynamics of the facility. I don't have to really go through that whole "breaking in" phase.

Hope everyone had a blast at the BDB! The weather is perfect here right now. Hopefully by tomorrow morning I'll feel well enough to be able to get out and enjoy it. Maybe this rest is also helping my hip issue, which I noticed was aggravated every time I sneezed. What is that all about?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Affirmations

I guess I wrote this blog for my self. I'm not a good writer when it comes to writing something knowledgeable. So I'm warning you to move on to the next tri blog if you don't want to hear about my self-image/esteem struggles.

Thinking is believing. I mentioned this book I started reading, "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: TaoSports for extraordinary performance in athletics, business, and life". I'm trying to get this whole positive thinking thing. I realized a long time ago that I am such a negative thinker. I do this to shield myself from disappointment. I don't even know if I can recall the last time I was REALLY disappointed that I didn't achieve something I set my mind on doing. Well, this book (and I'm only on page 25) has explained that affirmations (basically our goals) are not self-deception, they're self-direction. If I tell myself I am fast,thin and strong I will be more likely to move toward that goal. ELF just posted recently about the kid with the 1:49 on his ceiling. OK, I laughed because that would be my goal for 100 repeats in the pool! But this author said the same thing. Post index cards in places you will see them with your daily affirmations. So now I'm working on my daily affirmations. I think I need to go through the photo album and dig out some pictures of myself of 3-4 years ago. I was a lot thinner then, but grant it, I didn't have nearly the muscle mass I have today, which I'm happy about. I AM going to shed this layer of fat that's hiding it. And let me tell you, when I do, you're going to see some super sexy pictures of me on this blog! Watch out Mel!

I have been cleaning out my head trying to figure out what brought me into this life of athleticism that I still believe I am an imposter in. I started running to help stay away from smoking. I still ate bad. After having my first baby and being absolutely sick of being fat (while the whole world was thin and beautiful!), it was to look good and to feel good about myself. Somewhere along the way that has gotten lost. I got carried away with it and my running, which I did only to beat my OWN times, turned into competitiveness with others. It has become stressful in recent years. Some of it I attribute to the people I surrounded myself with. It wasn't fun anymore and I didn't feel good. Grant it, I know my nutritional habits sabotaged my physique the most, and somehow I was still putting out some good race times. So I asked myself why? Why did this get out of control? It's a circle for me. The more I train, the more I eat. The more endurance I do (and I think that's why I do it) the more I can sit back and not think about my eating. I decided I have to go back to 1998. Not necessarily to Tae Bo, but to when I thought about every bite of food I put in my mouth. When I asked myself, "Do you want to eat another cookie or can you be happy with that one and know that in the near future you're going to be skinny?" And yes, I have to remind myself that back then I had "a" glass of wine on occasion (not nightly!). I have a hard time with this type of mind frame when I'm training for endurance events. How can I deny myself x cookies or x glasses of wine when I just rode my bike 70-90 miles or ran somewhere between 16-20? It doesn't seem right to me.

I am also having to accept that just because I am not training for an Ironman or a marathon, and just because I'm not going to ride the whole 100 miles of the BDB, doesn't mean I'm any less of an athlete. I have proven I can do all these things. I am also sure there will be a day (next year) when I will return to the long distance events (minus IM). But for now, I have to clean house and go back to basics. I am reminding myself to focus on me and what's best for me. I have lost focus and this is what happens when you don't stay accountable to yourself.

I've been watching The Biggest Loser. I love that show. I wish Jillian could show up at my house every morning to kick my butt like she does those contestants. Actually, I think looking like Jillian might be one of my daily affirmations! I've been reading about the past contestants and how they're doing keeping their weight off. I used to think it was crazy when I'd hear it's harder to keep it off than it is to lose it, but it so true. If you're addicted to eating, like most of those people have been, it's hard to stay on the healthy wagon. It's hard for me to stay on it! I get so down and depressed when I remember stepping on the scale and seeing 118-120. I am fighting those self destructive thoughts and reminding myself that I was there once and I will be there again. I am not a failure because I put the weight back on over the last 3.5 years. I have to employ that positive thinking and tell myself I can do it. I also have to remind myself to be patient. I have one big weight loss goal, but I think I need to break it down into smaller ones to feel the satisfaction of accomplishment. I remember post-baby how awesome it was to squeeze back into my size 7 jeans. I also remember that I thought, "Well, if I can get back into these why not keep losing and go for new size 5's!"

Food journaling. Yep, I'm doing it. I used to it in a notebook back in the day. Now, thanks to all this fabulous technology I've got it on my PC and my palm. It's hard to do when you eat crap, and that's when I stop doing it. But I know if I do it, I'll see the results, and it's great now because I don't have to take time to calculate, it does it all for me, down to breaking out my percentages of carbs, protein, and fat. And I am really focusing on protein. I finally got it that it really does fill you up more than carbs! I also recently bought a digital kitchen scale that weighs in ounces and grams. This has been great! Now I don't have to guess how much the slice of whole grain bread weighs that I cut (and try to fool myself into thinking it isn't that big), I can weigh it! Actually, the whole reason I bought the scale was because Milan decided he wanted to make homemade Lara bars (his new favorite) and we wanted to make sure we didn't make them too big or small.

I guess that's all I have on my struggles with food, exercise, and in general, myself. I have to head over to the elementary school to run with Luka in PE class. They're "running to Iraq" for the next few months or so and if a parent shows up to run with them they get double miles. Needless to say, since I'm not working I was very excited about this new contest at school (it's per class). I was already there once this morning for Nada's class. I'm getting to know the PE teachers really well, and they're realizing that my kids have a neurotic mom. I wore my Garmin to make sure that 1 lap around the playground was in fact 0.2 miles (they have to do 5 for a mile). Hey, at least I'm not worrying about pace!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Year of the rat

I started writing this post on Saturday. It's now Tuesday. Where does the time go? And I really don't have a good excuse. I have all the time in the world these days. So this is what's been going on in my "living la vida loca" world.

We had Nada's birthday sleepover Friday night. She wanted to invite just a couple of friends over, go out for a nice dinner, and have them spend the night. So that's what we did. She debated on where she wanted to go for dinner all week and we finally agreed that Kobe (Japanese steakhouse/sushi) would be the most fun. The girls got here earlier than I expected Friday afternoon. This gave them all time to get dressed up in Nada's clothes and have me curl their hair. I realized Friday night that it has probably been about 15 years since I used a curling iron. Thank God! I guess these days the curling iron has been replaced with the Chi straightening iron. Naturally, the girls had no interest in having their hair straightened. They were all about curls. Fortunately, I managed to please all of them with my limited hairstyling skills. They all looked super cute and they knew it! I am so scared as to what is waiting for me in the next 3-8 years. I am not ready to be the mother of a teenage girl.

I was reminded at dinner by our chef that this is the year of the rat. He told the girls that 1998, the year all of them except one were born, was year of the tiger. I asked him what 1972 was and he said, "Year of the rat. This is your year." Well, don't I know it!

I managed to sleep pretty well Friday night, but the girls managed to stay up until 6am! I remember getting up at around 3am to ask them to get some sleep. Then I remember coming downstairs at 5:30am to find them playing Uno cards and telling them to go up to Nada's room. I think they got in about 3 hours of sleep Saturday morning before they left. Nada dragged all day Saturday, but insisted she was not tired. Yeah, right!

Saturday morning while the girls slept and grandma made crepes (they're called palecinka's in Serbian), Milan and I had the unusual opportunity of going out for a run together. It's funny these days because I'm not sure what kind of workout I'm going to do when I get up in the morning, and I LOVE IT! I was a little afraid that maybe I wouldn't be able to keep up with him. He has been running often and even does speed work. The fastest I've ran in the past month is a 8:00 pace for 3 minutes on the treadmill. I actually did OK. Poor Milan though is having severe problems with his right calf. I thought it was his achilles tendon, but it seems like the pain is deep in his gastroc or soleus. He had to walk home. He's upset with himself because he thinks he injured it when I was in Louisville. He ran a 5K race that Saturday and PR'd, but then went out and ran 6 miles on Sunday morning because that's what his training plan said to do. Hopefully it'll heel up soon and he'll be able to get back on his 1/2 marathon plan.

Yesterday morning I pulled out my old Tae Bo VHS cassette. Yes, I did Tae Bo, and it was FUN! I forgot how motivating Billy Banks is on the tape. I did Tae Bo back in 1998 after I had Nada and I was stuck at home in Chicago alone while Milan was at work. We had just moved to Chicago and I knew NO ONE. Tae Bo got me exercising again and really had me motivated to lose my baby weight, which I did, and more! I remember the workout being harder back then, and I forgot just how much glute work he does at the end of the tape. My butt is actually sore today. But it's a good sore feeling. I feel like I have buns of steel, and as long as I don't look in the mirror I'll keep thinking that.

Since my glutes were pretty sore this morning I went to the pool to swim. I really wanted to run, but I'm having this issue with my left hip and running aggravates it. It doesn't hurt so much while I'm running, but after I finish it's sore for the rest of the day. I thought maybe it was my tensor facia latae because it's sort of a deep pain at my iliac crest where that muscle starts. But now I think it's my iliopsoas because I notice the pain (slightly) when I flex my hip, more so when I flex initiating from my trunk instead of my legs. I also feel it when I do a sidebend to the right. I can do crunches, I guess it's a full sit-up that would be more a problem. I should be able to fix this and figure it out, since after all, I am a PT now! But I'm not sure what it is. It's been going on since exactly a week after Ironman, when I got up from a Sunday afternoon nap on the couch where I was lying on my side with my head elevated and my hip flexed. I guess I injured it while napping!

I picked up some new books to read yesterday. My friend Susan told me about a book a while ago that sounded interesting, but I didn't have the time to read it. It's called "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind". I'm excited about reading it. While I was doing Tae Bo yesterday I was reminded of the book since Billy Banks frequently mentions "a higher power" and digging deep. These days I'm really having to dig deep to get excited and motivated about swimming, biking, and maybe even running. I remember going through the same kind of post-partum after IM WI in 2006. I don't remember when I finally snapped out of it or how. I guess that's why it's so hard for me to comprehend signing up for another Ironman so soon after finishing one. I guess maybe the day after the event, maybe even the week after, I was still enthusiastic and on the post-race high, but now I'm at the opposite extreme as far as racing. I'll snap out of it. It just might be January!

That reminds me. Yesterday was my sister's birthday so I called her to wish her a happy birthday. They were on their way back from Lake Placid. They drove up and spent a long weekend their hiking and relaxing for her birthday. She tells me, "Bryan and I want you to sign up for Ironman Lake Placid next year so we can come up and watch you." Yes, I laughed too. I explained that 1) IM LP is full and you pretty much have to be there in person to sign up, or you can dish out $1,000 for a community fund spot, and 2) I have absolutely no desire to do an Ironman next year, or anytime in the near future. She asked me to please do IM LP if I ever decide to do another Ironman. I told her I'll sign up for it when she does. Well, that got a good laugh out of her. She tells me it's super beautiful up there, which I totally believe, but maybe I'll just join them the next time they go there for a hiking trip.

This Saturday is the Big Dam Bridge century ride, with 14, 32, 50, and 75 mile options. I signed up, but I'm still undecided if I'm going to show up for the ride and which distance. I won't ride more than 50 miles, and it could be less, but the 50 mile turn around is at the church that had the homemade cookies last year so that's good incentive to ride that far, right? The forecast looks great for Saturday too.

Today on my agenda is recaulking the shower. I guess that tells you just how ready I am to go to work! I have never caulked or recaulked anything so I don't know how this is going to go. All I know is, I am sick of cleaning that shower. My dream come true would be if those "scrubbing bubbles" were real. I would buy every and any product they make if those little bubbles really popped out their scrubbing brushes and cleaned my shower for me. I scrubbed the shower yesterday, but I've realized that I'm not going to get it totally clean unless I replace the caulking. I looked up information on the internet. It doesn't sound hard. So, I'm heading to Home Depot to buy white caulking and a razor blade or little scraper thing. I'll ask for more info from someone knowledgable at the store, if such a person is available. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cleaning house

With all this extra time on my hands you'd think I'd be blogging daily. For some reason I just haven't had the motivation. Maybe because there's really nothing all that exciting and interesting going on for me to blog about. I mean, especially if you compare it to the last month I've had!

It has been great being home and totally stress free. I do wish I was 100% back to feeling "myself", but I'm not quite there yet. I'm definitely working out (and that's really what it is, not training), at least once a day, and I am mixing things up now that I have the time and freedom to, which I LOVE! The change, not having the pressure of "having" to get a certain amount or type of training done, has been wonderful.

Aside from working out I have managed to also clean out the house, or at least some of it. This has included the kids' closests and also putting away ALL those books that have cluttered my bedroom floor for the past 3 years. The result of this cleaning was a trip to Goodwill with bags full of clothes that the kids have outgrown. I've outgrown some too, but I'm hanging on to them for when I grow back into them!

Yesterday I cut the grass. Now that's the kind of work I'd prefer to do around the house, especially when it's a beautiful, sunny 78 degree day in Arkansas. I seriously feel really lucky to be off right now, when Arkansas is having PERFECT weather! It took me about 4 hours (with a break for lunch) to cut the grass, do the edging, and then sweep up the sidewalks. As I was finishing this job the professional lawn mowers showed up to cut my two neighbor's lawns. There was a team of 3 or 4 of them and they were finished with both lawns in about 30 minutes! That's OK, I'd rather do it myself, get the extra exercise, and save whatever amount of money it costs to have someone else cut your grass for something else.

Tomorrow is Nada's birthday so I have things to do to get ready for that. Tomorrow, grandma is also flying down from Pennsylvania to visit. Since she was unable to come for my graduation she decided last weekend that she'd like to come for Nada's birthday. It also happens to be grandma's birthday on Saturday so I think we'll be having a double celebration, but just ONE cake! Now my biggest dilemma is what to get grandma for a gift?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I PASSED!!!!!

My classmate told me to call the State board so I did... and she told me I PASSED!!! Those words were MUCH better than hearing "you are an Ironman". I've been training for this for the past 6 years! FINALLY!!!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Waiting....still waiting

I thought I'd have my results today (that I failed), but they have not been posted. We have come to the conclusion that the testing center was closed today or something because the three of us that took it yesterday have not received any change in our status.

So it will be another evening filled with red wine and no sleep. I managed to go to bed early last night (thanks to the wine), but I was wide awake at 2am recalling more questions on the exam and wondering if I chose the correct answer. That is pretty much all I've done since yesterday at about 12:30pm when I left the testing center. Let's just say the test was hard, very hard. I thought after the first 100 questions that it wasn't so bad, maybe even better than some of the practice tests I took. But at the end of the 250 questions I was finding myself "marking" more and more questions that I was uncertain about.

I have been a nervous mess all day not knowing what to do with myself. I even went swimming this morning. I had to do something and I hadn't swam since Louisville. I guess the swim was "relaxing". At this point anything I do other than sit still and think is relaxing. The only highlight of my day, and this was a big highlight, is that the girl working at Starbucks told me I look like Jessica Biel!

Hopefully I won't up posting comments on more blogs tomorrow morning at 2am. Or I hope you all have made new posts so I have something entertaining to do!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Pre-board jitters

Hard to believe a week ago I was going through pre-race jitters shopping at Target in Indiana (the other side of the river) just to be around "normal" people and remove myself from the race atmotsphere. I'm glad Ironman is over, but here I am going through just about the same stress and emotions, but this time over my board exam on Monday.

I decided last Friday in Kentucky, after the practice swim, that I had to put studying on hold during race weekend. I just couldn't handle the stress of both. I felt guilt over sacrificing time away from the books, but now that I've spent this ENTIRE week with my head only in the books I'm really glad I took a break. I'm coming to the realization that even though I have reviewed all the basics that I've learned over the past 3 years this test is just going to be down right awful and will depend more on my ability as a test taker. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot going for me in that area. Growing up in a little town with predominately low SAT scores has stuck with me. I did manage to do great on the GRE's the second time after Milan helped me review all the high school math I'd forgotten, but my verbal score was low. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe this will be different since this is what I've been training for for the past 3 years. My classmates that have taken it so far have said it was horrific. Each one left feeling as if they surely failed. Each one also passed. What makes me more nervous is that they all were scoring better on the practice exams and I am still consistently scoring lower. Also seems that these practice exams really aren't much of a help in preparation, but do a whole lot of good to increase stress and anxiety. I guess maybe they are helping me figure out HOW to take the test, but the questions are ridiculous. I find myself wondering if I'm taking a medical board exam or a PT board exam?

So, after going through many of these practice tests, reviewing all the "basics" of physical therapy, I am done with studying...for the most part. Tomorrow is my taper. I want to go into that exam Monday refreshed, not burned out. After all, it's going to be one darn long test. I am relying on faith, prayers, and a bit of my education to get me a passing score. To all of you that were pulling for me last Sunday during that Ironman swim, I'm asking for the same prayers Monday morning from 8am-1pm central time. I'll know Tuesday if I passed. I don't know how I'm going to get myself to get on the computer and check. I know I'm going to be super nervous. And unfortunately, Milan is going to be out of town for work so I'm going to be on my own to cope if I fail...and on my own to celebrate if I pass!

Ironman Wisconsin is tomorrow. My friend called me yesterday to tell me there were white caps on Lake Monona when she went to the practice swim, just like when I did the race. I told her I had all confidence in her that she would not be out there holding on to a kayak crying with a guy named George rowing it and would surely finish in less than 2:20. Lace is the only one I know doing IM Moo so I'll be keeping an eye on her. I did notice Hillary Biscay's name on the web site, which surprised me because I swear she was just in Louisville last weekend? If she was, looks like tomorrow's conditions in Madison will be a whole lot more pleasant for her.

Hope my blogger buddies that went up there to register for 2009 are successful in getting in!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Ironman Louisville 2008

Race Day

The water was pretty still when it got light enough to see it from our position in line. The river looked much better than it did Saturday at the practice swim (more on the practice swim drama in part II - pre race). But when you put 2,000 people in even the calmest water there's motion no matter what.

I am proud to say that I held on to "0" kayaks, buoys, or surf boards during this Ironman swim. I only spoke to one woman in a kayak asking her to keep an eye on me while I swam upstream when the current was the worst. When I realized that the water was so shallow on the right side of the river that I could touch bottom I felt a great relief. I knew it was temporary, but every minute of my mind being at ease was huge. I really couldn't tell how far upstream ahead of the island we had to go because the sun was in my eyes and there was no big Ford buoy out there like in Wisconsin. All I could see was a big boat and I figured it had to be before that. Eventually I was able to make out some kayakers and that's exactly where I headed. Then I saw the orange buoy and realized that was the turn. I didn't intentionally mean to make the turn so tight. Maybe those kayakers there made it worse, because there was a big traffic pile up. We were all doing doggy paddle looking at each other. I think I might have even said something like, "Let's go people". Seriously, I don't need extra time to let my mind realize I'm out in the middle of a big river. As I planned, I swam close to the island which had barges, big barges, parked at it. I don't know if this was a good strategy or not because it sure seemed like there was a lot of water motion. I kept telling myself this was the easy part of the swim, the downstream, but it still didn't seem better to me, just like I kept saying on Friday and Saturday. I just kept telling myself it'll be much better once we reach the end of the island, and once we were at the end of the island just two bridges to go under, and then the finish. It wasn't quite that short. I was again surprised at how long it took to get from the start of the swim to the finish. So I went to the "just to the next buoy" frame of mind. By this time I think the water was a little better as far as the motion because I found myself looking for feet to draft off of. I was even successful for a little while drafting off of some guy who I kept telling myself was Doug. When I got to the last buoy I sprinted in.

Boy, what a disappointing greeting coming out of the water. I guess I was really spoiled by the standing ovation I got in Wisconsin when I barely made the cut-off. I guess had the spectators known what I was like Friday morning at the practice swim and all the anxiety I get every time I have to a race, they would have been cheering a LOT louder. But I knew that when I crossed the timing mat and that time appeared on the many computer screens watching for me I was getting a standing ovation, or at least a "thank God!"

I was in and out of T1 in no time and onto the bike. And I biked, and biked, and biked. Up and down many, many hills. Hills and heat, the best combination. It was just like being at home. Or at least like being at DeGray. Not a whole lot of excitement on the bike course. Lagrange was great, but otherwise, the spectating wasn't very strong. I'd say the Louisville and Wisconsin bike courses are equally as difficult, the only more difficult part in Wisconsin, especially if it's raining, is all the sharp turns. I had my four leaf clover from Damie taped to my aero bottle for good luck, and good luck it was, because I didn't flat or even drop a chain. There were a couple of moments that I found myself feeling really mean. I was getting really irritated with all the cars driving on the course. We didn't have any of that to contend with in WI. A mini-van even tried to make a left turn down the single lane side road we biked on. Thank God that volunteer yelled at him and wouldn't let him. If that van would have been on that road I really would have screamed at him for being such an idiot because I know it was someone's support crew and they weren't providing much support by blocking the road. I had already seen a bad wreck and too many EMS vans. It was at that point that I realized I'm being a "hater" right now. I think that means I better eat (thanks Damie!). And sure enough, not too long after I was in a better mood.

I played mouse with some 33 year old girl wearing a light green two piece Zoot "bikini" (boy shorts with bra top) riding a pink bike with a leopard print pattern on the down stem. Need I say more? If she were a "he" that looked like like the guys I ride with in Little Rock I would have welcomed the chase! More annoying was that she'd pass me on the downhills and then slow up on the ups. Come on, I'm not even a good climber! Her chain fell off at like mile 90 and then she passed me, and at that point I didn't care, and I had a strong feeling I was going to out run her. Plus, I was just preoccupied with keeping my left adductor from cramping up. I have never experienced anything like that and it scared me. I took every Thermolyte I packed (which I think was like 14 of them) and ate every gel I had too. I drank all 3 bottles of my Perpeteum and I sipped on water and gatorade throughout the ride. I ate my margarita flavored Clif Blocks, my "fun" food, so I knew I had enough sodium and I couldn't figure out why I was cramping. Then it occured to me that maybe the increased hip flexion in aero position was doing it so I rode the last 20+ miles upright and it worked. I was really relieved that it helped, but I was worried about what my legs were going to do when I tried to run. My feet were also annoying me with all the burning, and then I had to deal with the hand numbness from having my wrists extended on the horns for so long. But all those things seemed minor compared to the sharp charlie horse cramps my adductor was trying to throw at me.

After biking 112 miles running a marathon is the last thing I want to think about, especially when it's 100 degrees outside. I told myself I was going to walk the entire marathon and this thought actually made me feel better. It also wasn't too far from the truth. I did run the first 2 miles out of transition, including the out and back over the 2nd street bridge, but it worried me that I had no desire to eat or drink anything at the third aid station and that my stomach felt kind of "full". Since walking seemed to be the cool thing to do I joined the crowd. It seemed like a really great option! While I was walking I made a couple of other "walking" friends. One suggested trying Coke to settle my stomach (yes, I was thinking of you Marianne and your love of Coke). I remember Coke wasn't very appetizing in WI when it was 50 degrees and raining, but that sounded great! And he reminded me not to go back to Gator, not that I had any desire to. So coke, water, pretzels, and cold sponges were my routine at every aid station. Not so much the pretzels, but the water and coke. It was staying down, my stomach felt better, and when I really forced myself I was actually able to run. During this 2 mile walk (I'm guessing that's how long it was) I overheard some guy on his phone talking to someone about the pro's in the race and the leaders. He was talking about the men, who I had little interest in, but I quickly asked if he knew who the women leaders were. When he said the first name I had no idea who it was, then he said Gollnick was second. Dang it!

Once I made it through the first loop of the run, the sun started going down and we had more shade and I was actually able to run a lot more. I was able to make it from one aid station to another, which was a lot more running than I had done all day. I had kept calculating projected finish times, thinking that even if I walked the whole thing I'd still have a PR over Wisconsin, but when I "only" had 6 miles to go I realized I was still looking at sub 14 hours and a really big PR. That helped. I know I really could have pushed myself to the limit for a sub 13 hour finish, risked dehydration, and a trip to the med tent via wheelchair transport from the finish line, but it just wasn't worth it to me. Like my mom said, you're not getting paid for this. Like another athlete pointed out, we're getting the same thing for finishing 5th in our AG as we would for 50th. My goal was to finish safely and be able to drive myself home Monday morning. I could NOT wait to see the kids! And I have a LOT of studying to do this week. A sub 13 finish wasn't worth the risk, 13:30 was absolutely good enough for me for my second, and FINAL Ironman.

I am very pleased that I PR'd my swim and bike times from Wisconsin, and that my overall finish time was so much faster, like 2 hours and 13 minutes faster! After everything I went through this season with my swim fears I felt I accomplished above and beyond what I set out to at this race. I am so thankful for all the support and encouragement I received from my friends and my family throughout this whole Ironman journey.

swim time: 1:35 (2:30/100 meters)
T1: 2:41 (that's like pro time!)
bike time: 6:36 (16.93 mph)
T2: 5:37 (that's in minutes, not hours :-)
run time: 5:09 (11:49 pace)
Finish time: 13:30
24/80 females 35-39

Pre-Race Report

Seems like just about everytime I do a triathlon I have to go through pre-race swim anxiety. It's a good thing I got to Louisville 3 days before the event because it gave me 2 days to get "comfortable" in the water. During Friday's practice swim I did not feel confident at all that I'd make it through 2.4 miles of swimming in those conditions. Thanks to some wonderful people and words of encouragement I stuck it out, went back for Saturday's practice swim (when the water was even rougher), and I made it through the entire Ironman swim without a panic attack. Everyone I talked to, or texted, about my anxiety was so reassuring. I met a women on the steps of the river exit Friday morning who was so encouraging and reassuring. A complete stranger. But she took the time to stop and help me. She said a great thing that stuck in my head all weeekend, "Slow it down and you'll go faster." I just kept telling myself that to keep calm and not get too excited.

Then I talked to Nada; my 10 year old daughter, Friday night. I was fighting back the tears and I'm almost positive she could hear the quiver in my voice as I told her I wasn't sure how I'd do in the swim and if I'd finish. She told me, "Mom, you're going to do great. You're a good swimmer." That sweet voice just stuck in my head and that's where I wanted to keep it. If she had the faith me then I had to have it too.

Then I got an email from Betsy Friday night. She also said something that stuck in my head. "Don't let your mind go where it doesn't belong." I told myself that over and over, mostly in the swim, but I found myself thinking that during those moments where I actually tried to run on the marathon. Thanks Betsy!

Damie told me I wasn't allowed to utter or think the words, "if I don't finish swim". I had explicit instructions to call her immediately if that thought was sticking in my head.

So, so, many friends who reassured me, who had faith in me, and who encouraged me. Milan wasn't at all worried about me driving 8 hours to Louisville to do this event and then drive home. He had total confidence that I had it in me. David and Marianne who did this race last year told me many times how great I'd do. I really needed all these reinforcements and I don't think I could have gotten through it without all of your support.

If I didn't have the stress and anxiety of doing an Ironman hanging over my head, the 2 days prior to race day would have been even better than they were. Probably because all those dinners would have involved a lot more wine for me! I was a good girl, stuck with my good nutrition all week. Shoot, I was even having to force myself to eat on Friday so you know I was stressed!

Now the fun part of pre-race! I got to meet Katie Weaver-Jongerius and her wonderful family. It was so nice of her to invite me to dinner Thursday and Friday nights. Katie is even more energetic and fun in person than she is on her blog. Her family is super! I kept looking for the Kate Monster team in Lagrange, but I didn't see them. There were a LOT of people in Lagrange and I guess yellow was the popular color. I saw Kate on the run course twice and I just figured she was having the same struggles as the rest of us. I had no idea how bad it was until after the race. Now that I know Kate, I know it's not going to hold her down one bit. She's going to bounce back and with even more energy and enthusiasm. I really hope one year I can come up and do the Ragbrai and see that beautiful state of Iowa.

I also got to meet Mel and Todd Crandell at dinner Thursday night, as well as their 4 beautiful kids. Yes, Mel is even more beautiful in "real" life. And yes, she is super mom. She did her own Ironman this weekend while Todd was out there racing! Oh, and did I mention that she's also super nice and totally down to earth? The two of us share the same fondness for swimming. We have none!

I also had dinner with Eileen Swanson Thursday and Friday night. I knew from reading her blog occasionally that she lived in San Fran, was a gymnast in college, and now a pro triathlete. Super, super nice girl! I also knew she was a fantastic swimmer and has coached the swim from Alcatraz and done it like a 100 times herself. That is absolutely amazing to me. It was just so great meeting all these fantastic people from all over the country, all connected by blog sites. I remember when Jen told me to start updating mine regularly and I laughed because I told her she'd be the only one reading mine.

Friday when I was leaving the expo I happened to walk past the "press room" at the time the pro's were having their conference. I noticed Heather Gollnick standing outside the door first. That didn't get me excited, but then I noticed who was standing next to her, Bree Wee! I think my whole face must have lit up. I was probably rude and interrupted whoever she was talking to, but I couldn't help it. And then I was like a real groupie, I whipped out my camera and asked for a photo. It was as if Bree had met me a dozen other times, that's how nice she was. I just couldn't pass up the opportunity for a photo, not knowing if I'd run into her again. I actually did, several times throughout the weekend, and if she was nervous at all about her race it never showed when I ran into her. A truly sweet, layed back girl. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet her in Louisville because it's very unlikely I'll be in Kona anytime soon. My Ironman was going to be memorable just from the all the fantastic people I met, regardless of how my race turned out.

Fortunately my race turned out well, which was the icing on the cake. I am so happy to be home again with the family. I feel a great deal of relief to have the race behind me and I will cherish the memories. Seeing my friends, Susan and Doug, finish was more exciting for me than my own finish. They were tough and they stuck it out, and it was a super long day for both of them.

I know I could write another 5 pages about all the great things that happened throughout the weekend, but now I have to put Ironman behind me (for the next week at least) and really focus on passing my board exam. When I sit for that exam next Monday morning, I'll be sitting there with this Ironman wristband still on my wrist to remind me that I am an Ironman, and I am bright enough to pass this exam.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Facing my fears. And the Ironman

I got this email from a friend (you know who you are), and I've been reading it over and over, so I decided to post it on my blog:

"Failure is a reality; we all fail at times and it's painful when we do. But it's better to fail while striving for something wonderful, challenging, adventurous and uncertain than to say, "I don't want to try, because I may not succeed completely."" - Jimmy Carter

Many people never make it to the starting line of an Ironman. This is why it takes courage. "what if I fail?" You have come head on with many of your fears and might have some on race day.....

But you were bold enough to catch a dream as it wafted by.... and you were committed enough to hang on tight in your training.... is it the Ironman itself? probably not. I think it is the pursuit of the dream and the beating back of the fears that makes the start line AND finish line so sweet.


Thanks M!

My denial is over. I realize Ironman is 6 days away. As I sent an email yesterday morning at 6ish am I thought that in a week I will be swimming in Ironman. I also added that I actually hope to be swimming and not meeting every volunteer in a kayak out there!

I haven't started packing yet, but I have lists everywhere. I think of things I don't want to forget, like an extra pair of contact lenses!

Over the weekend I started reflecting back to when I trained for Ironman Wisconsin and the race itself. My motivation for that race was stronger, it was to become an Ironman. Really, I did all of my training by myself without a coach. That's not an easy thing to do. I could have never done that this time, it wasn't worth it. So THANK YOU to all my friends that biked, ran, and swam with me, and who also listened to me complain (about the heat) this summer! It made this process a whole lot more enjoyable.

My training for IM WI was enough to get me through the distance, which I did, and just barely in the swim. Of course the rain that day in WI didn't help my bike performance. After recently reading a description Lauren Jensen wrote about the WI bike course I recalled all the hills and all the turns, some very sharp turns! No kidding my bike time was nothing spectacular. I remember just wanting to finish it safely. I also remember how relieved I was to be running, and to have that garbage bag on keeping me warm while I ran.

I started thinking about what this Ironman means to me? What is my goal the second time around? I guess to prove to myself I can do it again, and I can do it better, especially the swim. I would like to think that after an additional 2 years of doing this sport that will be possible. Yes, there are still some fears, there always will be, but this time I'm not venturing out into something unknown and I do feel greater confidence in that. The training is over and done and I feel good about the time and effort I put in.

The training is the hardest part of Ironman, I think. The actual Ironman is fun! When else do you feel like such a RAWK star?!?!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Brain training

A recent study stated that aerobic exercise increases brain function and learning ability. If this is the case, I should have the IQ of Einstein.

Quite the opposite seems to be happening.

My body has been tapering all week. This has been great. My brain has been doing the opposite.

I have obviously violated the "too much, too soon" rule. The training has either been too intense (because no progress has been made), or I have been completely inefficient in my training plan.

Today was "practice test" day. This is the equivalent of the dreaded swim, bike, or run test. And you know what. I failed! Yep, 61%, 122 correct answers out of 200 questions. The scarrier part is that 70% is considered a good score!

So what exactly was I doing all those hours this week I spent sitting at the dining room table with my head burried in books, and notes, and index cards? I have no idea!

I am stressed, to say the least. Good thing is I have more than 2 weeks until exam day.

Bad thing is, I have that little Ironman in between. Or maybe that's a good thing?

Another bad thing is that a couple of my classmates took the exam this week, were certain they failed because it was just that hard, and they passed. Now, these are young (23-24 year olds), with 4.0 GPA's (their whole life!). OK, so they have no kids, no distractions, and certainly no Ironmans in their life. Is that really such a big advantage?

So, I have decided I have to really get down to business and get my head on straight. My studying efforts the past week have not been effective. This calls for extreme measures. This calls for...trips to the library!

I spent 5 hours at the university library this morning. OK, the only reason I went to the university is because it happens to be in the same town as the lake that we did an open water practice swim this morning. IM training is helping my academic life! I really never spent much time studying in the library as a student, in undergrad or graduate school. It's just way too quiet. It's the perfect atomosphere for napping (which I probably did more of than studying). For example, there was one other person in the same vacinity of me. I felt bad because I kept sneezing (allergies) thinking I was distracting him. Then I realized that he couldn't possibly be THAT slow of a reader. He's asleep! OK, so now I feel bad because I might wake him up from a good nap.

In those 5 hours I managed to take a 200 question practice exam and then review all my wrong answers (and there were lots of those!). After about an hour and a half into the exam I found myself looking at the question number count thinking, "only 88 more questions", "only 55 more questions", "only 16 more questions". Does this sound familiar? As in, instead of questions, miles! I know I could have paced myself better. I went out too fast, I just wanted to get it done, and of course, I hit the wall at the end. I'll be more patient next time. At least I took advantage of the 15 minute break to go to the bathroom.

I have decided I have to really get a better plan together. After talking to a couple of my classmates (the smart ones who passed) I have identified some rookie mistakes. I have also decided that I really need to change my environment and make it more conducive to concentrating (if that is possible for me). If I really timed how much time I SAT in the dining room chair this week learning and subtracted all the coffee, computer, snack, and bathroom breaks, I bet I wouldn't be thinking I'm as dumb as I am right now.

Thanks to Susan's brilliant idea I have also found a solution to the 7.5 hour drive to/from Louisville. So that I won't wreck reading index cards, I have taped notes on a voice recorder. Even though my classmates (and every other PT I know) has said this exam isn't something you can "memorize", it's all application, I still think there are several things I need to have in my memory in order to be able to apply. Like for instance, today one of the questions had something to do with the nerve that controls pelvic floor muscles. The only reason I know it is the pudenal nerve is because of the many times I have had to pee in a race and realized my pudenal nerve was malfunctioning (that's what happens after two babies!). I know, I have a really extraordinary way of learning.

Since basically my whole career and ability to pay all those school loans off depends on passing this exam, and since it costs about as much to take this exam as it does to register for an Ironman (non-community fund), I'm feeling a bit of pressure. I guess the good thing is that if I weren't stressing out about this exam I'd be stressing more about IM next week. The Ironman, and the 2.4 mile swim, will hopefully seem a little less stressful. I know it will be hard, but at least I have a whole lot of "distraction" techniques to help me overcome it!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

DeGray Aquabike

I survived the swim! And let me just say it was a bitch! It is a darn good thing no one told me in advance that this year it would be one mass start, men & women, for both the 1/2 ironman and aquabike events. In the past 3 years when I've done these events it has always been men first, then women and aquabike competitors. So fortunately I didn't have much time to panic, only about 45 seconds.

Since my only goal was to finish the swim and manage my anxiety I just got waaay in the back, as if it were an Ironman swim start. I waited for the horn to go off, and waited for the crowd to start swimming, and then I started, really slow and easy. I was just going to stay left along the shoreline. This was a good plan, except that it was still crowded, no matter how easy I swam I was still coming up on people, and the first buoy was not that far out to the right. So I just kept trying to stay calm...long, slow strokes...breathe. I was singing to myself. A church song that was the only one I could think of, and then Marianne's "Believe" song. It helped keep me calm. I found it also helped the more often I sighted and got my head vertical. I stopped frequently and tried David's sidestroke. It works so well for him and at least the water wasn't coming right into my face, and I was still making some forward progress. I tried a little breast stroke, but that doesn't work for me. I thought of Mel and wondered how she did it in St. Croix with her head above water. But mostly I just kept praying. I kept tellin myself that I was not alone and that these conditions were a gift from God because they were testing me. He was giving me the opportunity to overcome my fears and to rebuild the confidence in myself.

OK, the best part of the entire swim happened somewhat early on. I was taking one of those "get your head back on" breaks, trying out the sidestroke and I hear a man say, "Sorry, Mira." My head was turned away from him, but I was surprised that whoever it was knew it was me. I turned and it was John, one the phenomenal guys that rides with David's group. I found so much comfort knowing that John was right there next me. I also thought it was so incredibly polite of him to apologize for hitting me (which I didn't even notice). I think he and I swam quite a while together, if not the whole way. It was probably the best part of the whole swim. Now if only I could have kept up with John on the bike!

Even when the crowd finally thinned out in the water, which seemed to take forever, the water wasn't any calmer. As I headed to the first turn buoy I kept wondering what were the water conditions going to be as we headed that direction. Well, they weren't very good because now we were way out in the middle of the lake. Repeat break and all the good and comforting thoughts (I don't know how many of those I took). I have to admit there were many times that "get out" entered my head. Fortunately, I was to overcome it and go on. I saw the next buoy ahead which was close to the island decided I would just try to get there. Plus Mr. Kayak was close by so if I really started to struggle he was there for the rescue. The water got a little better once I got to that buoy because as I told myself, the island was there and we were heading toward land, so surely the water would be a little calmer. Once I made it there I think that was the end of my panic breaks. I made the last turn to head to finish and I kicked in my "real" swimming abilities with no hesitation and no fear, just get it over with!

I really expected to see 5x:xx on my watch when I got out, which I would have been totally fine with because I finished. I was shocked to see 4x:xx.

I finally got on the bike after some difficulty getting my foot into my shoe coming out of T1. I swear I was so scatter minded yesterday morning. I was forgetting all sorts of things. One, leaving the velcro strap on my right shoe open!

The bike course was challenging and boring. Two loops of hill after hill after hill. Yeah, it was fun descending some of those hills at almost 40 mph, but it sucked climbing the longs one at 13mph for what seemed like an eternity. I was sort of disappointed in my bike time because it was slower than last year. They changed the bike course this year and I know that it is more challenging so I really shouldn't compare. Plus I had to remind myself that I wasn't "racing" this race like I did last year. We decided last Sunday (I think) that I would do the aquabike, and the main goal was to get in the water, deal with my fears, and get rid of the black cloud that has been hanging over my head since Memphis. Goal achived!

I crossed the finish line and handed in my chip and then had to do my brick run. The lady at "run out" thought I was crazy for running when I had already finished my race. And let me tell you, I had little desire to run and what I really wanted to do was just head for the food and massage tent! But, since there were SO many people I knew racing the 1/2 IM I thought at least I can run easy (which I was supposed to anyway) and cheer on the course. But the real reason I couldn't bail on the run was that I told Doug and Susan that's what we were going to do. And I was very happy to see them out there too following through with our brick plan. The 3 of us rode down to DeGray together, and the 3 of us are doing IM Louisville, so it made the race even more fun.

I can't wait to see all the pictures David took at the race. I've never seen myself in so much spandex but since I've met David and started riding with him that has changed. I seriously never wanted a back end view of myself on the bike in aero position and just wanted to keep imagining that my butt and hips are really a lot smaller. Marianne got some good early morning shots of us pre-race too, including the one above. Next time I know Marianne will be at a race I'll wash my hair so it's not so greasy!

The weather was a record for DeGray. Cool with overcast skies. It even rained very lightly and briefly in the afternoon. It sure beat the 100 degree temps I experienced there the past 3 years.

We didn't stick around for the awards and results. I would have liked to have hung out since almost everyone I know was there, but I have this guilty conscious about leaving Milan home with the kids while I'm out having "fun". When I got home I got a text message from Damie asking how it went. I replied letting her know I survived the swim. She wrote back shortly after, "Survived? I heard you won!"

Turns out I actually was the overall female winner of the aquabike. And I'm just going to end it there, like I know Jen would want me to.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

For Marianne

Thought you'd enjoy this, Marianne! Hope you FLY on Saturday!

Good luck to everyone racing at DeGray Saturday, Sunday, or both!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ahhh, vacation....and taper!

I am having a fantastic week! Monday, I decided to take the day off from training (I didn't take last Monday off like I was supposed to b/c I was too nervous about school so I didn't think it was that bad). I was supposed to go to masters on Monday, but that was being held at a different pool and was going to be televised on the morning show along with the youth swim team. No thanks! I'll stay off of TV in my swimsuit getting my butt kicked in the pool by 10 year olds. I still couldn't "sleep in", I'm just not programmed for it anymore. Plus, I wanted to get up and say good-bye to my dad before he left for the airport at 5:30am. So I got up and pulled out the board exam review books. At about 9am I decided it was time for a nap! That was the first of two I took Monday, and then I got a massage! Do you think I was a little sleep deprived?

Speaking of sleep deprivation. During Saturday's ride/brick I was so tired I literally could have fallen asleep in aero position while pedaling! David told me this was good because I was putting out Ironman race pace effort. It sure didn't feel good. That was the longest 2.5 hour ride of my life! I was so not going to run when I got back to the van, but thanks to David and Jo I did it. I guess that's what happens when you finally graduate from PT school the night before and don't go to bed until almost 11pm, and you have a crappy night of sleep because you're all wound up from all the graduation excitement!

I've decided my coach might have to incorporate studing into my daily training plans. I don't know how I'm going to find the discipline to sit still and focus. It's like I've developed adult onset attention deficit disorder. Every time I sit and start looking at that review book I find myself thinking about everything else and the next thing I know I'm out of the chair doing something I'm not supposed to be. I'm not being too strict about it this week because I did want to have some fun with the kids and enjoy my time off for a bit. I deserve a little break, right? But come Monday morning when the kids go back to school I am really going to have to get down to business. I went ahead and scheduled the exam for September 8th at 8am. If I didn't have an exact date I knew I'd keep procrastinating. Kind of like if you don't sign up for a race you won't really train for it, right? Yesterday while we were shopping for school supplies I even bought myself new pens in an attempt to get motivated. That's what I do to not dread going to the pool, I buy myself a new Splish swimsuit!

I am making my return to the racing scene on Saturday at DeGray. Yes, I know, in a previous entry I said I was never going to do that race again because it's always so hot. Well, that's what I get for suggesting the aquabike option to my coach. Fortunately, we are lucking out with a "cool" spell here in Arkansas. The forecast for Saturday is high of 88, low of 67 with a 30-40% chance of rain. That will be much nicer than the 105 heat index we had the first year I did the 1/2 IM. The main purpose of this race is for me to get in that open water and deal with my anxiety. I did great last Friday during our "graduation day, open water swim training", but as you can see from the picture, the lake was like glass. Just how I like it! I'm not tapering this week in preparation for the race, quite the opposite, so I'm not expecting a stellar bike performance. It will be a very good, intense, training day. I just have to make sure I keep thinking positive out in that water.

Our other big event this week is seeing the new Star Wars movie. Luka has been talking about it just about as much as I did about graduation. I'm just hoping the force will be with me Saturday morning in Lake DeGray!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Doctor Mira Lelovic, Physical Therapist

It was the next best thing to hearing:
"It's a girl!"
"It's a boy!"
"You may kiss the bride!"
And of course, "You are an Ironman!"

I'll write more about what a wonderful day it was later. It's already waaaay past my bedtime. Just wanted to say thanks to everyone that made this day so special for me and for all you that have known me, and put up with me, while I got through this. It was the longest Ironman of my life!

You can click on the Flickr link on the top left of my page to look at all the photos.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Almost there

This is a picture of me, on my last day of "real" school, trying to look professional. I presented my FINAL case report and it was a lot more painless than I imagined. It definitely wasn't worth losing the sleep I did Monday night. I was up from midnight to about 2:30am tossing and turning and thinking about which slides I should delete and what I should have added. It was like having a race to do in the morning. And of course I did NOT want to get up at 4:30 to ride my trainer. But I did.

I got my manuscript and presentation grade back today. I got an "A" on both. That just goes along with my personality, low self-confidence, but pull through with the best.

We are having our licensure exam review course today and tomorrow. It's a bit ironic. I am about to start tapering for my Ironman and resting, but mentally I will just begin my training for this board exam. It really will be a test of endurance. 250 questions with 5 hours to answer them. When was the last time you thought that long and hard? I am glad I timed my Ironman the way I did. I have found just in the past 3 days that being off my feet sitting on my butt at school has made a tremendous difference in the way I feel. I am thinking that in that case all the training I have done that past 10 weeks while I was working hard on my feet 8 hours a day was just all that much more beneficial to my training.

The instructor for this review course made two analogies today to the board exam. First she said that we might think we're going to feel going out and partying once we complete that 5 hour exam, but "if you did an Ironman, do you think you'd feel like going out and partying?" Every person in the room turned around and looked at me. And I could honestly answer, "Hell no, I just want to sit on my butt and eat!" So I decided that after I schedule my examination date and time I'm going to schedule an appointment for a massage. What better way to relieve stress? OK, margarita's work too! The second analogy was that our practice exam consisted of only 200 questions. That's because, well as you all know, if you're going to run a marathon you don't run the whole 26 miles in training, you only do about 20. Duh! I am SO ready for this test!

So it occured to me today that I will be completing 2 Ironman's in a span of one week. I WILL finish Ironman Louisville on August 31 and I will take my physical therapy board exam on September 8. Seriously, if anyone is going to be prepared for endurance it has to be me. Unfortunately, my old age has affected my ability to maintain focus. Most of my IM training has incorporated distracting myself from the pain in front of me!

Hopefully all of my paperwork will be processed an I will be able to schedule the exam for that 9/8/08. I'm choosing the 8th because "8's" have been the theme for my graduation and they're supposed to be good luck for the Chinese. September 8th is also a Monday so I should know for certain by Wednesday, at the latest if, I mean THAT, I passed! I've decided I'll start working the last week of September and ENJOY my time off. I might even make a weekend get-a-way to NYC to visit my little sis! No races, just good shopping and eating sans kids and hubby!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Cruel Summer

I really shouldn't be blogging, but I need a break.

I managed to get my case report submitted on time last Monday. I've been working on the PowerPoint presentation this weekend that I have to present at school on Tuesday. Once that is over all the school pressure is pretty much over. We have a licensure exam review course Wednesday and Thursday, but I look forward to sitting on my butt for a change (which is what I'll be doing tomorrow at school too). They actually give us Friday morning, before the graduation ceremonies, off. I'm hoping to get my hair done and maybe a pedicure. But I have to make sure the "pedicurist" (if that's a word) doesn't scrub and scrape the bottom of my feet. I've managed to get them good and tough in this heat and I want to keep them that way.

The beginning of last week was very tiring. I was burned out. Milan was burned out. Ironman was getting to us. It got a little better Tuesday morning after bike intervals. I don't know how my legs had it in them to do it. I expected a really poor performance.

I finished my last day of work at the clinical on Friday. We celebrated with a trip to On the Border for lunch. No margarita's though. I had too many errands to do after lunch (I only worked a half day) and I had a long weekend of training ahead of me. Yes, I'm patting myself on my back for being so disciplined.

The local tri group made a trip to Lake DeGray yesterday to do a practice swim and ride the bike course. The DeGray 1/2 Ironman is in a few weeks and a lot of people are doing it, or the sprint the following day. I'm not doing either and am very glad. I decided the only way I'm ever doing the DeGray events again is if I sign up race weekend and we happen to luck out with a cool front. I'll gripe about the weather in a second.

It was super nice that we had Sarah and her husband come along with their kayaks and watch us while we swam. We were able to pretty much swim the entire 1.2 mile swim course. I bet the fisherman out there weren't too happy about us interrupting their peaceful morning on the lake. The lake was calm as usual, for the most part. I had two panic episodes. There were a couple of moments where the water got moving and it just made me sick. I don't know what my problem is. I stopped and yelled to Sarah who was there in a second. The first time I told her I wanted to go back, but then I thought about it and knew how pissed I'd be at myself if I bailed. I decided I better take advantage of this great training opportunity, how often do you have your own kayak in a beautiful lake right there with you? I went on until the group stopped to re-group, which made me a little crazy. I had no desire to stop out there in the middle of the massive lake to tread water (waste energy) and chit chat. Let's go people! Once we got going again another surprise in increased water motion, and another call out to Sarah from me. I didn't take too long of a break, just enough to catch my breath and see the light of day. Then we took another "re-group" break, ugh! One of the guys said, "The current is pretty strong right here". I hadn't noticed, but this actually got me excited. I have been trying to imagine what it will be like to swim against the current in the Ohio River. It's basically like someone has a running hose pointed at you under the water. It wasn't that bad. By the end of the swim I was getting used to the motion and I wasn't so worried. It might have helped that I knew we were almost finished. My arms were getting tired, I had swam at masters Friday morning too, and it did worry me that at IM I'd have another 1.2 miles to go, at least. I was frustrated, discouraged, and doubtful getting out of the water. I don't know how I'm going to survive the swim in Louisville. I do not want to be in that river for 2:20 like I was in Wisconsin. I do not want to deal with the panic and the sick feeling I get from the water motion. My only hope is that after 2 days of practice swims in Louisville I'll be able to adjust, mentally and physically, and get through it.

The bike ride was tough. Hill, after hill, after hill, in ridiculously hot and humid conditions. The tri group did one loop, about 31 miles, but lucky me and Susan got to add on another 25 miles. I made the mistake of suggesting that we ride back to Skyline Drive backwards on Channel Drive. I knew it was a fast downhill going out, but I did NOT realize just how friggin' hard and long of a climb it was going to be going back. When I looked up and saw Skyline Drive, where we needed to end up, my stomach dropped. I seriously thought I was going to have to get off my bike and walk it up, it was that hard. Yes, Susan cursed me and my bright idea too. I know the two of us are just that much fitter and tougher now that we accomplished that at the end of a 55 mile hard ride.

I don't know what was better, Sarah in her kayak on the lake, or Chris Irons out on the bike course as our sag wagon. Seriously, how often do you get luxury training like that? Yeah, I know a few of you readers do, but not me. Chris parked at every turn, about every 7-9 miles to offer COLD water and Gatorade. The cold water was so nice since my electrolyte fluids were piss warm. Chris even took my picture as he drove by me as I was enjoying that lovely little climb back up to Highway 7. Don't know how I managed to actually smile.

I made it home a little after 1pm just as I promised Milan. While I was gone having my family the rest of the family activities consisted of trips to Krispy Kreme, Home Depot, the Dollar Store, and the library. We were couped up in the house the rest of the day, because you know, it's just too darn hot to go outside here these days. It's a good thing we couldn't go anywhere because it gave me chance to cook, do laundry, and put together my presentation. I was in bed shortly after 8pm and up again this morning at my usual 4:30 so that I could do my 20+ mile run before it got too hot. Yeah right, nice try. It was 83 degrees with about the same percent humidity when I walked out the door at 5:20am. My runs have felt horrible. My body aches and I just drag. But I tell myself if we were having the temps that my parents are having in Pennsylvania I'd have that zip in my step. I also remind myself of how much training I've done starting the run and it should be hard. That's the point, right? IM marathon won't be easy either, but at least I'll go into the day well rested.

Which reminds me of how much I can't wait to start tapering! Actually, as of Friday my life is going to be so much nicer and easier. Next Monday I will not have to go to work or school or anywhere else. Of course I'm sure I'll get up and go to masters, but when I come home I can put my pj's back on and lounge around the house with the kids all day! I'm sure I won't, but it's SO nice to know I can. I'll have the whole week off at home with the kids, their last week of summer vacation. We have some fun stuff planned, but I hope I'll also sqeeze some studying in. Once the kids go back to school I will officially be tapering and my full-time job will be studying for that licensure exam so I can pass and start working by mid/end of September. The quicker I pass, the quicker we'll have a nice second income!

And now it's my turn to complain about the weather. I am SO envious of the comfortable temperatures you all up north are having. It is just miserable here and I am really tired of it. If I were not training for this stupid Ironman I might not mind it as much, but I am really tired of sitting on my bike for so many hours sweating my ass off and running in a fish bowl. We got free tickets to the minor league baseball game last Wednesday and initially I really didn't want to go. It was going to be hot, like 100 degrees. Then I thought, oh, I just have to sit there in the shade, watch cute young guys play ball, and drink beer. I don't have to pedal my bike. I can do that!