Every year I ask for help with my out of control human, and every year my pleas are ignored. What am I going to have to do to get some help here? Come barf up hairballs in your shoes? Don’t tempt me, I’m that pissed off and desperate.
Let me tell you just how bad it’s been…
She is more out of control than ever (yeah, I know I say that every year, but her insanity far outreaches imagination) So much so, that I couldn’t get her to sit still long enough to let me dictate the holiday letter until the Lunar (Chinese) New Year… Seriously? It’s the year of the snake. I don’t like snakes (or rats, or monkeys, or dogs or any of those other weird animals they use to celebrate)
The beginning of the year was fine, she was recovering from the 2nd surgery she had which included getting fixed “while they were already in there”. It’s about time, everyone should spay or neuter their human, there are far too many of them running around and they breed like rabbits, especially the stupid ones.There was some celebration about not having cancer; that’s a good thing. Someone’s got to feed me.
After that, we had a wicked ice storm which made it impossible to safely drive anywhere, so she was home a lot to pet the kitty which was perfect. She was super stressed when the huge tree in the back yard bent over and touched the ground (and laid on the house, the grape arbor, the greenhouse and the neighbor’s yard) but it sprung back to life after the big thaw. (she now calls it “the magic tree” what a weirdo)
Then she went back to work which really pissed me off. She’s working for an environmental non profit running the internship program and managing a farmers market. Do you think her farmer friends ever send anything home for the kitty? NO! Jerks! She’s still writing and photographing for that magazine too which is an acceptable activity since the writing part keeps her home where I can yowl for attention and lay on her keyboard.
She’s still bellydancing which just looks silly, although I do enjoy napping on her fluffy skits and batting around her jingly things. She’s still fire dancing too (which she actually gets paid to do. Seriously?) I secretly laugh when she burns herself. She’s also found a new way to burn herself, blowing glass… For some reason, dipping a long pipe into 2100 degree (f) molten glass and blowing into it is a big deal in this city… something about a madman with an eye patch named Chihuly who grew up here. Some people are actually silly enough to buy the stuff she makes. She’s also still playing with clay which she then glazes and fires. Seriously, what is it with this woman and fire?
She did another triathlon which really ticks me off because that means she’s spending way too much time out of the house running, cycling and swimming when she should be home petting the kitty.
She’s still playing that stupid violin too. I hate that thing. Even worse… she has friends that play instruments and they come over to the house. There was even a [gasp] accordion here the other night. She met these weirdos contra dancing. I don’t know what that is, but when accordions start showing up (the next thing you know, it will be a banjo), you know your human is hanging out in the wrong circles…
She’s still hiking, backpacking and finding any excuse she can to wear a tutu… (they are nice to lay on)
Oh, my human turned 50 in October, isn’t that super old for a human?
Shouldn’t she be slowing down? I mean really, 50 is practically dead right?
Happy Winter Solstice a bit in advance, since I’m not going to have any spare time for blogging over the next several days. (Of course, it is only Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere; happy Summer Solstice to our friends South of the equator)
The days will slowly get longer again. For those of us in the far dark, frozen North, this is a big BIG deal!
For some reason, it’s an even bigger deal for me this year as I’ve had some difficulty with the short, dark days this year despite my best efforts to take lots of vitamin D, get plenty of exercise and get outside as much as I can.
Winter Solstice is the promise of new life; we really won’t notice the days getting longer until closer to Candlemas/Brigid/Ground Hog’s Day.
Tomorrow night, a group of about 40 of us or so will gather to celebrate. There will be food, drink and friendship as part of our annual observance.
We will burn the Yule log (log from my friend Patricia’s yard, a bit of last year’s tree, boughs from this year’s tree and herbs from my garden) in the fire pit outside and pass the light from that fire to a circle of friends, we will put our wishes for the new season into a wish lantern and then we’ll return inside for more food, fun and drink.
If the weather doesn’t cooperate (right now could be dry, wet or snowy-welcome to the Pacific Northwest), we’ll pass the light inside from a candle on the Yule Log, write our hopes/wished/dreams down on paper and launch the lantern another time.
It doesn’t matter what religion you are or aren’t. It doesn’t matter what you believe. The Solstice is an astronomical event that draws everyone together at this time of year to celebrate light, love and hope.
Each year, I love to post the Northern Exposure video to the story Raven Steals the Light being told (I’ve used it for the children’s story at Solstice rituals in years past)
It is a traditional story from the Northwest Coast and Alaska.
I like this Northern Exposure version.
Not everyone knows this, but the town of ‘Cicily Alaska” is about an hour and a half from where I live, and is in fact Roslyn Washington (yes, I’ve been to The Brick)
and here’s another wonderful story of light in a magical part of the world (the Great Pacific Northwest)…
And of course, my traditional Solstice post/greeting…
On this night, around 3,000 years BC, a very special event unfolds at a place we now call Newgrange. A group gathers around a large circular stone structure. A drumbeat resounds across the mist-shrouded hills of ancient Ireland, bump bump… bump bump… bump bump…; The heartbeat of mother earth. The scent of incense mingles with moss, moist earth and the burning torches. All gaze hopefully towards the eastern horizon. After what seems like an eternity, it happens, the rising sun begins its ascent. Once again all attention is turned to the structure with great anticipation. Suddenly an intense shaft of light pierces the innermost chamber of the structure, illuminating a stone basin adorned with carvings of spirals, eyes, solar disks, and other sacred symbols. A joyful sound rises from the crowd, who then begin to dance ecstatically. For the darkest darkness of winter has passed, and the light has returned. Soon: the hills will be covered in fresh green grasses and wildflowers, trees will bloom and set fruit, animals will give birth, the songs of birds will fill the skies. The cycle of life will continue. The world, once again, has been reborn.
Tonight we celebrate an event, which predates our modern religious celebrations, an event as old as time its self. Just as events like this were observed at Newgrange Ireland, we find similar ancient architectural wonders based on solstices and equinoxes all across Europe, Asia, The Americas, Indonesia and the Middle East. Thousands of years ago, these monolithic structures were built and elaborate ceremonies held, out of reverence for the cycle of life, and perhaps the fear that without human intervention, the sun would not return.
At the winter solstice, the tilt of the earth on its axis, is such that our hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun, our days are shortest and the sun is at the lowest arc in the sky. For thousands of years, our ancestors honored the cycles of life: solstices, equinoxes, harvests and plantings. The winter solstice is perhaps the most sacred of these celebrations. So sacred in fact, that modern religious observations all over the world take place on or near the time of the solstice. Solstice observance is not a celebration that excludes or dismisses any other religious celebration; rather it is the common bond of many modern and not so modern religions.
The time of the winter solstice represents death and rebirth, just as corn stalks wither and die in the fields in the fall, so does the symbolic god give his body to nourish the earth, only to be reborn of the goddess again on this darkest night. The original divine birth. Is it any wonder then: that the Christian church chose this sacred time of the year to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Hebrew people to celebrate the Festival of Lights, or Native Americans and other aboriginal peoples to celebrate their sacred events?
Solstice is not only a time to celebrate the retreat of darkness and the return of the light, but it is a time to look inward, at the darkness within ourselves and to embrace it. For without darkness, there would be no light. Without challenge, there would be no triumph. It is a time to celebrate the death of old habits, thought patterns, and difficulties, a time to celebrate a spiritual renewal. The darkness gives us all a chance to embrace and work through our own darkness, so that like the earth, we may also be renewed.
L. Lisa Lawrence
Here’s our observance from 2007 (the video is just too much fun!)
Here’s last years from my back yard where the weather cooperated enough for a bonfire which I’m hoping it will this year as well. If not, we’ll just do it inside, the hopes and wishes can be written down and we’ll release the wish lantern another evening.
Here are the songs from the video, my favorite Winter Solstice songs…
“The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams
Amber called her uncle, said, “We’re up here for the holiday,
Jane and I were having Solstice, now we need a place to stay.”
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree,
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, “It’s Christmas eve, I know our life is not your style,”
She said, “Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it’s been a while.”
So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.
The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, “Is it true that you’re a witch?”
His mom jumped up and said, “The pies are burning,” and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, “It’s true, you’re cousin’s not a Christian,
But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere.”
So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
And where does magic come from , I think magic’s in the learning,
‘Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.
When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, “Really, no, don’t bother.”
Amber’s uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn’t spoken in a year,
He thought he’d call him up and say, “It’s Christmas and your daughter’s here.”
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve,
Saying, “Can I be a Pagan?” Dad said, “We’ll discuss it when they leave.”
So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,
Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old,
And making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold…
And of course, the required Solstice tune…
“Here comes the sun” by the Beatles
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it’s all right
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Sun, sun, sun, here it comes…
Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it’s all right
It’s all right…
In a little under nineteen hours, the world is reborn again and will be filled with exciting possibilities!
My plan to make my triumphant return to the Seattle Marathon, ten years later didn’t happen.
Seattle was my first full marathon. I ran it to celebrate turning 40 as well as the five year anniversary of learning how to walk again after the accident that fractured my spine and pelvis.
Little did I know when I signed up that it was a bad first marathon; the combination of almost the entire course being joint pounding concrete (versus asphalt which believe it or not is much easier on the body) the hills, the worst of which come in the 2nd have of the race when glycogen stores are depleted, legs are wobbly and lactic acid is built up and foul weather (snow, ice, rain, freezing rain, sleet, hail, frigid wind whipped waves crashing over the I-90 floating bridge) make this one of the most difficult marathons in the country (even the Kenyans don’t generally run it)
Since that first painful marathon, I have done two other fulls, and have returned to the Seattle to do the half many times over the last ten years (it’s a hard half, but lovely and fun) but have avoided doing it as a full for the sake of avoiding injury.
Despite that, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 50, not having cancer and taking huge risks to rebuild my life back to the way I wanted it than returning to the “scene of the crime” ten years later to run the full again (the pain/memory does fade eventually)
A combination of injury taking me off training and not being able to take time off work to prep and rest made it impossible for me to consider it without risking serious injury, so I decided to bag it. I might have tried to waddle an easier course like Portland or Victoria, but not this course. (DNS = Did Not Start = Did Nothing Stupid)
Then my friend Lynne who was also off training for various reasons decided to go ahead and do the half marathon as a walk/run without pushing. I told her I’d do it with her. Then my friend Julie who was getting ready to sell her registration because she hadn’t been training, decided to join us for a fun day of acting silly and hanging out with our running friends.
This was perhaps the best weather I’ve had for a Seattle Marathon (full or half) in the ten years I’ve been doing these. No snow, ice, freezing rain, hail, sleet or icy crashing waves. Yes, it was cold, but quite bearable.
very Unlike in 2006 when Knut and I stood in the snow, shivering in black trashbags at the start…
Since it was going to be more walking than running, Julie and I decided to go in costume. Seriously, there are just not enough good opportunities for grown women to wear tutus and tiaras, so we create our own.
In our colorful costumes, including a pink wig for Julie and my green/black “green fairy” wig, we hit the streets of downtown Seattle for some no stress, no injury fun.
This is the first race where I had absolutely no worries about time. I didn’t care, I was just there to see friends and have fun. I’m lucky I was with folks who wanted/need to walk part of it, as I would have pushed myself too hard had I been alone (that’s how I ended up injured in the first place)
When we saw the traffic control folks holding the sign that said “SLOW” we knew it was the perfect photo op for us so we stopped.
Kevin put his bike in his truck and drove us down the hill from Julie’s house to drop us off at the start line. He was going to go for a nice long ride, but decided to hang with us on the parts of the course he could get away with riding on and take photos for us.
Here’s a shot of me getting a shot of Kevin getting a shot of us…
When we were on the express lanes of I-90, the marathon runners caught up to us. Julie was like a cheerleader on speed yelling and cheering them on as they went past.
I had been lamenting about not bringing a fleece vest and instead having a really uncomfortable, non breathable jacket, when there it was… sitting on the Jersey barrier along the interstate express lanes, a nice windblock fleece vest, in a color that matched my outfit no less (runners often bring old or thrift store sweatshirts/jackets/vests to start out in and then ditch when they get warmed up. Julie picked it up and said, “Do you want it?” I asked her what size it was, certain that it would be an extra large (I can’t stand wearing stuff that flops around when I’m running or biking) and lo and behold, it was an X-Small L.L. Bean windblock vest, and a perfect fit. SCORE!
By the time we got down to the lake and up to Leschi Beach we couldn’t feel our fingers (and my tushie was freezing as well) so we stopped off at Starbucks (how typical Seattle was this move eh?) We had lots of fun chatting up the cyclists that were in there, getting caffeinated and warming up. This whole not running for time thing was pretty fun.
It was beautiful down on mist shrouded Lake Washington, very reminiscent of the way to Avalon. As a lone kayaked paddled by through the mists, I wonder what he was thinking when he saw two tutu and tiara clad women running past. “We are the fairies of the lake!” I shouted. At least no one tired to hand him a sword
All lovely runs along the lake must end as we approached my (and pretty much everyone else’s) “huckleberry” frikking Galer St.
For those not from here this area was carved by glaciers and volcanoes; there is no flat ground and many of the hills are crazy steep.
Galer is a brutal, vomit worthy hill that comes at the worst possible point in the course for physical performance/recovery. I have always hated that hill which turns more runners into walkers than not. (note, I’ve never walked it, but have slowed way down and felt like crap)
Julie had already been running the downhills, which my injured hip and hamstring were not going to tolerate, so I decided that the best way to stay together was to run the uphills, starting with this, my nemesis. The hill I hate more than just about any hill anywhere else (yes, even worse than biking up the 25th St hill in Tacoma)
So there I was, in my tutu and tiara, yelling, “I hate you hill! I’ve hated you for ten years and today I’m making you my BITCH!”
Off I went, full speed ahead, no break in stride, no giving into the angry quads, burning lungs (frigid air and fireplace smoke don’t help) up that hill passing people right and left to the sound of cheers from bystanders until I was to the top where I turned around defiantly and soaked it all in. Yes, I’d made Galer my bitch (whilst dressed like a fairy princess).
Lynne said as the crowd at the bottom was watching me attack this thing, one woman turned to her and said, “Wow, she was really angry.” Lynne had fun with that one for the rest of the day.
The arboretum was another opportunity to stretch out my legs and get some actual running in. My favorite part of this course is running across the top of Interlaken Drive
Is this not a gorgeous marathon course?
as if the road its self wasn’t stunning, check out the view…
As we came down the other side, downtown came into view (for those who are not local, the Space Needle is at the Seattle Center where the race ends, so the goal is to head towards it)
At the last water stop before the drop downtown, I got a nice surprise hug from my Tacoma Runners friend Doug who was working the water stop.
an amazing thing happened as we headed back down the other side… the SUN came out (seriously folks, this is BIG news up here in November)
We had a warm, sunny finish at Memorial Stadium (which I am so glad has not been torn down yet, the marathon finish will never be the same once it is)
Just after this photo was taken by Kevin, we had to sprint the rest of the way across the field to hit the actual finish line. We may not have been running this for time, but by golly, you make a show with a big sprint to the finish for the crowds. It was a bit like being in a parade as everyone loved the costumes so Julie and I were doing our prom queen waves for the crowds.
Then, I saw her…
About 100 yards before the finish, Lynne decided to open up the throttle, and was gone like a shot. “OH HELL NO!” I yelled and sprinted after her as hard as I could, catching her just as we crossed the final timing mat together. I’m sure that was a hilarious sight in the tutu. I can’t wait to see those photos.
We all got our shiny things and I got the best thing I ever spent money on, a sports recovery massage. Then we headed back up to Queen Anne and enjoyed some well deserved pizza and beer.
On Sunday, I ran my last race in the 45-49 age group and Carmel raced her first 10K where she didn’t do a run walk combo, she ran the whole way!
They had a “pack run” (a mini dawg dash) here in Tacoma, but they didn’t offer a 10K option, so we left Tacoma at 0′ Dark Ugly to get up there to find parking (always a “joy” in the U District) and pick up our packets. There’s nothing worse than rushing at the last minute so we got there early and relaxed at a local coffee shop (heat and indoor plumbing are big wins on race morning)
Just for fun, we decided to take our photo before we got all sweaty and gross…
*note for those who are not local, “Dawgs” are the nickname for the University of Washington Huskies; this race is part of UW’s homecoming celebration.
The race started on Memorial Way on the upper campus and the post dash bash was in Red Square. UW does have a truly beautiful campus.
It was super cold at the start (41 degrees) so it was a challenge to stay warm.
I started dancing around to the music and found myself with a dancer partner. He had some hot moves.
It was a super slow start due to the sheer volume of runners on the typically narrow Seattle streets. Since I was still recovering from a 15 mile long run, had been pushing super hard, had not had a rest day in a week and needed to run ten more miles that day for a total of 16, I decided to take it easy. (not like I had a choice at that point) but it sure would have been nice to break an hour for the first time since all the mom dying, house buying, medical and surgery stuff took me “out of the running” over three years ago.
At one point on the course I saw a woman who appeared to be about ten years older than me and thought to myself, “Look at her go! I’ll be back here doing this again when I’m turning 60.” She was tall and fit, had a long silver pony tail and was dressed just like me down to the running shoes. I was tempted to ask her how old she was, but didn’t know how that would be received, so I didn’t.
We ran up through Ravenna Park, on the Burke Gilman Trail and then headed back to campus to the the circuitous loop that comprised the 5K race.
When we got to the fountain the UW Alumni band was playing Louie Louie (*the unofficial state song)
at about 5 ½ miles (when the course was pretty much all incline) I was torn, I wanted to pick up the pace and come in under an hour because I was so close.
Alas, my right hip and hamstring (three of the four pelvic fractures I sustained in the accident were on the right side) began to complain about the pounding they’d taken all week with no rest and my heart rate spiked as well (a result over training and being stupid and having caffeine that morning) so I had to back down.
I managed a weak sprint at the finish and came in at 1:01:10 which is five minutes faster than my Iron Girl time (and this was a harder course) so I’ll take it.
I tried to do a slow easy ten miles to make it my long run when I got home, but after less than a mile of pathetic hobbling, it was apparent that my hip and hamstring would not allow it and that I would badly injure myself if I tried to push.
Yesterday was a forced recovery day.
I’m riding my bike to work and bellydancing tonight, so today won’t be total rest, but my hamstring (which is quite a bit better) is still cranky and needs another day off of running. I can’t afford an injury this close to the Seattle Marathon, so I’m going to behave myself.
I also don’t want to be limping around pathetically on my birthday run with the Tacoma Runners on Thursday night.
Next 10K, I’m breaking that hour mark and walking away without limping (because I’ll quit being a moron and over training and will take some rest days)
Why do so many of my blog posts of late involve crazy people invading a town/area and running (or cycling) amok in the streets?
As part of the Octoberfest celebration at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, the TCMA (Tacoma City Marathon Association) organized the first annual Stein Dash.
The dash was a 5K that started and ended near the beer garden (root beer was available for those who are too young or for other reasons chose not to imbibe_
One caveat for this race was that you had to carry your beer stein during the entire race. Luckily, they were lightweight plastic.
I was meeting Carmel, as well as Eric and Rhiannon from Tacoma Runners there. I wanted to get there early enough to pick up my packet, get stuff I didn’t need (like the long sleeve shirt I left the house in) back to the truck and not be rushed.
It’s a good thing I didn’t try to get there too early as I hear that packet pickup opened way late. I’m not sure what was up with this race, TCMA is normally super organized when it comes to this sort of thing, but this one was just chaos. Once you got through the long line into the packet pickup area there were no signs to tell you which way to go (to the left for registration/packet pickup/shirts and to the left for the beer stein. The registration/packet pickup table wasn’t signed either, so we had no idea what line to be in. I guess everyone is entitled to one bad day when they are usually super organized. (yes, they advised people to pick up their packet a day early, but some of us work on Saturdays and/or have no desire to waste fuel/time to drive to another town the day before an event)
I was bound and determined to run easy and according to how I felt rather than try to beat a specific time. I was recovering from back to back half marathons I wasn’t fully trained up for and needed to crank up my long run distance for the Seattle Marathon and didn’t need to aggravate or create any injuries.
I hit my lap button at mile one and discovered that I was on pace to finish this in under 30 minutes (a goal I had on this long road to come back) with a 9-something time for the first mile. All common sense then flew out the window and I decided to keep that pace even though I was pretty sure I’d gone out too fast.
We looped through the ride area of the fairgrounds and then hit the streets of Puyallup. What a sight we must have been to the residents, all of us carrying beer steins. Some wearing beer hats, others wearing lederhosen and dirndl (note to self, acquire dirndl before next year)
It was unseasonably warm and I was beginning to feel it (also, this race started later than most, 11:30 PM, versus many 7-8:00am starts) Did the organizers really think runners had any compunction regarding morning beer consumption? Someone was also burning wood which wasn’t fun on the lungs sinuses, so I slowed down a bit on the second mile.
I stretched it out in the last mile, with just enough left for a sprint at the finish…
Why yes… I am carrying a beer stein and I am happy to see you
Even though I had told myself time didn’t matter on this one (half marathon recovery so that I could get through my marathon training is my primary goal right now) I was so disappointed when the clock had just ticked past 30 minute as I crossed the finish line.
But wait! That was clock time, not chip time and it had taken me a while to get to get to and cross the starting mat. My Garmin (and the official results) said that I did it under 30 minutes (just barely, but I’ll take it)
Here’s the Garmin track.
The official results show that I averaged a 9:40 pace (not bad for a woman recovering from surgery who couldn’t even take her trash out to the back alley 8 months ago) and that I was 7th out of 32 in my age group, 95th out of 296 females, and 210th out of 520 overall. At 29:57, I was well ahead of the average finish time of 35:04.
I may not be back to where I was, but I’m making marked improvement and that makes me happy.
I cheered Carmel across the line for her 5K PR and then we met Eric and Rhiannon (who also rocked it and PRd her 5K) in the beer garden.
I had a (yes, only ONE, I was a good girl) Snoqualmie Falls Harvest Moon Ale which was quite tasty. I might have had another if I hadn’t been so overscheduled that day.
I can’t wait to do this one next year. In costume!
Here’s a pretty hilarious video of the event… (I want the sheep that gal is riding)
Since I had to miss Chilly Hilly, Flying Wheels and STP due to surgery recovery and only got to ride the last few miles of RAPSody, I was not about to miss an opportunity to spend some quality bike time with my biker scum crazy cylcist friends.
The Kitsap Color Classic was last Sunday, so I rushed around like mad that morning (after a 12 hour work day the day before) and got out the door 15 minutes later than I had planned, and crossed the Narrows Bridge into the hilly wilds of the Kitsap Peninsula.
My cycling buddy Bill who I haven’t seen in longer than I can remember also decided to join us and rode over on the Ferry from Edmonds where he spent the previous night.
This ride has two starts; one at the Edmonds Ferry dock and another in Kingston at the other end of the run. About 2/3 of our little group were coming over from the Seattle side, so we arranged a meeting place at a little crepe shop just up from the ferry dock on the Kingston side.
In addition to leaving the house way too late, I realized almost immediately upon crossing the bridge I hadn’t been paying attention to my fuel tank. With the red “check gauge” light glaring at me, daring me (“Do you feel lucky? DO YOU?) to go just one more exit for a better price/easier access, I finally pulled over in Silverdale.
Looking at the clock I realized I was going to be seriously late after having to stop for gas.
When I got back on the highway, I realized that I had absolutely no idea where the Kingston Ferry Terminal is, more or less the registration area/food stop which was two miles up the road.
I managed to take the correct exit and catch the left turn that took me towards Kingston/Port Gamble and away from the wrong ferry (seriously, this place is lousy with them)
Once I got close to Kingston, I could tell that the ferry had just unloaded as there was a stream of cyclists descending on the unwary inhabitants of this normally quiet area.
I noticed one particular rider, a hairy legged guy wearing a festive autumn inspired tutu… I knew Kevin had made it on the ferry. (he looks pretty manly in this thing if you ask me)
I found the crepe place easily, parked and walked across the street to see my friends gleefully stuffing their faces.
I hadn’t seen Julie in far too long and we stood in the middle of the street in a long embrace. Mind you, this embrace was quite interesting to behold as we were both wearing bike gear and brightly colored, sparkling tutus… I can hear the locals now, “Earl, just look at that shameful display… Those must be some of those heathen naked cyclists that hang out in Fremont.”
Since I was so late, I didn’t want to delay the group by ordering, so no crepes for me this trip. I got back in my truck and headed up to packet pickup. Due to barriers down near the ferry dock, I had to take a back road, got turned around and realized that I was hopelessly lost in Kitsap (as long as I didn’t hear banjos, I’d be OK)
I finally found my way to the registration tent and arrived about the time Bill did. He hadn’t seen me since I lost all the weight from the medical surgery stuff, so he looked at me and said, “You don’t have any boobs”.
“I never had boobs Bill, now I’m just skinny again and don’t have boobs.” What a gentleman eh?
Seriously… Who’s “the boob”?
Of course, Leo made an equally appalling social faux paux and actually lifted my tutu… (I guess that’s the male version of a woman lifting a man’s kilt?)
What a scoundrel eh?
After the obligatory shenanigans at the start line, we (Leo, Julie, Bill, Eric, Paula, Ann, Mike, Lynn, John and myself) headed out on the Hainsville Loop. We were actually shooting for the longer and less painfully hilly Port Gamble loop but were so busy talking and laughing we missed the Dan Henry for that turnoff (this ride has three loops of varying degrees of quad destroying hills and mileages allowing you to customize your ride with any combination of loops).
The first couple of miles was a hill (there is no flat ground out there, it’s even worse than Tacoma in the hill department)
After some ups, downs, twists and turns, we made the descent into Hainsville… (and yes, the climb back up and out was a bitch)
We found a lovely little scenic view spot and pulled over (well, all except for bill who never slowed down at the base of the screaming hill and never knew we pulled over)
Mt Baker is in the background here somewhere, I suspect that Leo’s butt is blocking it. We look like we’re on a day pass from the asylum don’t we?
This particular shot has been described as “the worst super hero team photo ever” (Leo has been dubbed “Sani Can Man”)
Lynn didn’t have a tutu, but she was quite festive in her Irn Bru jersey (she’s from Scotland)
We started the long and ugly climb out of Hainsville after Leo finally yelled at us enough to quit with all the flitting around, socializing and picture taking. This is where I taught Ann the “bike butt dance” which is even better with a tutu to shake; she will have one on the next ride.
There were many more wonderful, scenic back roads and lots of laughter. The weather was absolutely perfect and we were talking about how days like this will be the memories we talk about later in life (you know… when Julie and I are crazy cat ladies knitting… Oh wait…)
Then the hills started back up in earnest.
Leo backtracked and yelled at us (as if he hadn’t been yelling at us to quit yacking, get in our big rings and ride like we meant it-I don’t think he knows what to do with himself when he’s not a ride ref) SHIFT DOWN INTO YOUR LOWEST GEAR!!! DO IT NOW!!!
I don’t see him get like that often, so I did it.
The hill did come up suddenly on a blind corner and is probably the equivalent of McCurthchen Hill on the Tour De Pierce and Daffodil Classic rides, but it was nowhere near the 22% grade we had been hearing about, nor the stair step half mile long 12-14% grade that has also been described.
I gave him “the look”. He said, “That was it.” I knew it wasn’t and told him (and everyone else so) and of course, I stayed on the small ring.
Another couple of miles down the road was another sharp turn away from the water, and there it was… The monster, 22% of evil, chain dropping, quad burning, vomit inducing hill from hell. I dropped down through the rest of my gears and dodged those who were wobbling , stopping and walking.
No way in hell was I giving Leo (who was now smirking like a lunatic) the satisfaction of “walking the dog” aka “the walk of shame”. I made it up that hill on pedal power (which can’t be said for a large number of people) just to spite him.
Leo and I have ridden together for years as Cascade volunteers (he as a ride ref, myself as a medical support rider and as a ride ref) on all the big rides, we’ve faced a lot of inclement conditions, interesting things, danger, injuries and bonks together and always have each others’ backs. We can say pretty much whatever we want to each other (harassing each other for over 100 miles at a time is “our thing”) but if someone else crosses the line with one of us, they have hell to pay from the other.
Why do I tell you this? Because after all of these years, and hundreds (no, at this point it’s into the thousands) of miles we’ve ridden together, this was the day that I finally dropped the F-bomb on him.
We re-grouped at the top of the hill and gave everyone a chance to catch up, catch their breath and drink water.
This hill may not look that bad on first glance, until you look again and realize that we were down by the water when we started the climb.
Once back at the food tent, some folks went back out to ride part of the Port Gamble loop and Bill, Lynn and I opted for food and beverage overlooking the water. As undertrained as I was this year, I wanted to finish the ride on a positive note, feeling good.
We ate at “The Filling Station”. Lynn and I had what can only be described as “food porn”. Roasted garlic and goat cheese with toasted baguette.
It was a lovely afternoon to sit on the deck (and it’s amazing how tiny the Space Needle is from there)
It was the perfect day, with the perfect (albeit batshit crazy) fiends….
I like running races that are for a good cause, You Go Girl benefited the YWCA of Tacoma Pierce County and this race benefited a foundation dedicated to supporting soldiers returning from war with PTSD (a HUGE need since more returning soldiers die from suicide than in the actual war).
No matter how one feels about these conflicts, this isn’t about supporting the wars (which I do NOT), it was about supporting those who need help when they come back. I greatly appreciated one of the speakers talking about the need to “bring our men and women back from this god forsaken war.”
I am totally behind this cause and was happy and proud to support it.
Other than some organized bike rides such as the Peninsula Metric Century, I haven’t done a lot of events in Gig Harbor. Yesterday will most likely change that, as the community support was amazing.
This was one of the best organized/supported races I’ve done; the fact that people were doing it for a cause they were passionate about made it even better. It wasn’t just the race organizers, it was the community.
The weather was perfect for running, albeit a bit chilly at the start. The race started and finished at the YMCA and we were able to use the facility to warm up before the race which I took full advantage of (good thing they were kind enough to open it up to everyone as I didn’t bring my membership card)
After the start line speeches, invocations, national anthem and a zumba warmup, the gun went off (a good loud one that was easy to hear) and we were off like a herd of turtles. (starts in big races are rather anti-climatic as folks try to move through the bottleneck and then get up to speed)
I was pretty sure I’d never keep a 2:30 pace on this course, as I missed it by eight minutes at You Go Girl and this was a much harder course (hill, Hills and more HILLS) and I wasn’t sure I was recovered enough to be running it in the first place, more or less pushing but I lined up with the 2:30 pace group anyway. Since I have a habit of going out way too fast, I figured it would keep me in check, until my lack of training slowed me down later in the race.
My knees complained a bit during the first mile, which didn’t bode well for my recovery or for finishing this race uninjured. Once I was fully warmed up, the issue went away.
The course support (both official and from the community) was amazing. Lots of groups of high school cheerleaders, other organizations and even a PONY!!! (actually, it was a miniature horse) who made their appearance with a gaggle of cute goats.
Community members who weren’t involved in the race lined the course to lend their support and encouragement.
Right after mile two, the course took a huge dip, which naturally meant a huge climb out. There was another big (and long) climb before mile four.
We got a treat on the long hill leading up to mile six, a bag piper.
Mile six was where “the incident” occurred. This is where I start using my baggie of blackstrap molasses in place of energy gels.
The first hint that things weren’t going to go right in this regard, was that since my last orthodontic adjustment (two days before) none of my teeth were lined up correctly to bite the corner off my baggie (had they been lined up properly, they hurt too bad to do it anyway) so I was able to tear a small hole in the corner using the end of my arch wire.
The hole was way too small so I had to squeeze the bag extra hard to get the goo out. Of course, this was too much pressure for the cheap store brand zip closure and it blew open. Black,sticky gooey mess everywhere… in between my fingers, on my race singlet, all over my race number and running down my legs (that looked really gross, I’ll let you use your imagination there)
There is almost as little dignity in distance running as there is in triathlon.
Not long after this, at mile 8 ½ I knew there was no way I was going to be able to stay with my pace group (which at that point was the pacers Betsy and Kim and myself because everyone else had dropped) so sadly, I dropped back to a 11:40 minute mile pace.
After mile 10, I was firmly in the “Bite Me Zone” and backed off to a 12:20 pace. I had completely given up on 2:30 with these hills and would consider it a big win to even match my You Go Girl Time.
The support we received from the residents was amazing, unofficial water stops, music, and one house that had a “sweet stop” giving us candy. I had my coconut water with me and was on top of my hydration, but let me tell you, when a five year old runs out into the street to give you a cup of water you smile and drink it.
One cute little kid was in his driveway dressed as Captain America high fiving all of us. Senior citizens, teenage girls, little kids, families and dogs all lined the streets to support the cause and cheer us on. I’ve only experienced levels of community support like this in Spokane for Bloomsday and Victoria for the Royal Victoria Marathon.
Along the entire course, we heard cheers of THANK YOU!
When we came out of Canterwood (and it’s many hills) and hit the main road (I think it was Peacock Hill Road) one of the Gig Harbor motorcycle cops was riding up and down the course. He wasn’t just doing his job, he was on his PA system encouraging us and cheering us on.
The last 2 ½ miles were long, but relatively level (all except for the end) and with all the cheering and community support I was able to stretch it out a bit and get back up to pace. At mile 12, I picked it up to a 10:16 pace and could still see my pacers.
For the last half mile or so, I picked it up to 9:30 pace which really hurt, but I had a chance to come in close to 2:30 (and I was really ready for this to be over)
I crossed the finish line at 2:30:50 (my Garmin said 2:29:56) so I’m calling that a win. It was 8 minutes faster than You Go Girl on a way more difficult course (Garmin says 737 feet of elevation gain, my fitbit said over 800) so I felt pretty good about it. That was an 11:13 average moving pace (You Go Girl was 12:06) with one spurt of a 5:53 minute mile pace.
Betsy and Kim were there and determined that I did make it
They were great pacers and I am happy to have had them user me in to my Half Fanatic status. (Betsy made sure I wiped the molasses off my face before the photo)
My shiny thing count for this comeback is rising
I feel pretty good this morning, hamstrings and hips are a bit tight, but my Achilles isn’t acting up yet. I did a good job stretching it out and took some good advice from the Physical Therapy folks who were there and don’t walk around barefoot first thing in the morning (had to do for someone like me who doesn’t like to wear shoes)
I made sure everything was nice and loose last night.
Next up (well, insofar as major goals) is the Seattle Marathon on Thanksgiving weekend and if I get through that uninjured, the Yukon Do It and one other as yet to be determined marathon for my “Marathon Maniac” status.
Next week, I’m keeping the long run easy (on Friday) before cranking up the long runs for the Seattle Marathon and am doing the Kitsap Color Classic bicycle ride with my biker scum cycling friends including (but not limited to; Julie, Leo, Kevin, John, Deb, etc…)
I can neither confrim nor deny that tutus will be worn…
Why yes, the catch phrase is dated (early 1990’s if my memory serves me) but it is the name of a pretty kick ass half marathon and 10K race event which made it’s third appearance in Tacoma last Sunday.
One of the great things about this race is that this year it benefitted the YWCA of Pierce County one of the most worthwhile organizations in town.
I was grateful that for the second time in two weeks, a women’s race did Not give us pink shirts. In addition to my disdain for anything that could possibly be perceived as supporting the Komen Foundation, pink is just way too over done.
I was excited to see a super pretty purple long sleeve tech shirt (the Iron girl shirts were more of a lavender color) Apparently, purple is the go to color for women’s races this year.
While it is billed as specifically a women’s race, men were allowed to enter (and were encouraged to dress the part)
I saw a lot of men, most of whom were supporting wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters, or on teams that were supporting fundraising efforts sporting shiny skirts or tutus… (honestly, I had some serous tutu envy going on)
I met up with Carmel, Kathleen, Lauralee and Brian at the start. This was Carmel’s first ever 10K so it was a big day for her. I believe it was also Kathleen’s first 10K (which she totally rocked by the way)
Derek from the Tacoma Runners came by to say hello and cheer us on at the start.
I had been very disciplined in my nutrition and hydration efforts to eliminate the need to waste time (and possibly miss the start) by standing in the port a potty lines and had peed three times that morning before the race, so I was certain I was good to go.
As soon as the darn National Anthem plays, my bladder knows I am at a race and immediately gets excited and wants to go.
I did not have time to entertain such silliness.
I left my friends (who were doing the 10K) and moved up into the 2:30 pace group for the half marathon. Given that I was not properly trained up for this race, was not well rested, and had some old injuries nagging at me, I decided to keep it nice and slow. I just wanted to finish this thing uninjured. This race was about coming back full circle from the health and surgical issues, not about killing myself for a specific time on the clock. (I honestly didn’t expect to finish in 2:30; it was my “ideal and I wasn’t going to kill myself for it)
And we were off (for once, a decent race picture of me…)
We headed South on Market Street (from the start at 9th and Market) out to Jefferson where we had a turn around.
This is when the realization that there is no way to “take it easy” during a ten hour work day managing a Farmers’ Market that requires you to be on your feet all day (pedometer says I walked 8 ½ miles the day before) and that doing my ten mile long run (they day after a 10K race and way too close to the actual half marathon) did not give my legs even close to sufficient recovery time.
They felt like lead. They felt like angry, stiff, tired lead; but by golly, I was going to do this, so I told them to shut up.
The out and back on this course was not demoralizing like it is on some courses [cough… Portland Race for the Roses… Great Kilted Run…] but was a great opportunity to wave, shout out encouragement and high five friends we didn’t manage to see at the starting line. And yes… shouts of “You Go Girl!” were uttered.
In addition to the tired legs, I was uncomfortably warm for that early in the morning. I overheard one woman comment about how hot and muggy it was, and I replied, “Oh, good! I was afraid I was having a hot flash.” That comment garnered lots of laughs from the large number of “women of a certain age” who were running near us.
Once we got back to the starting line (which had already been packed up and moved to the finish, my bladder made it known that it was not messing around, so I was able to quickly duck into one of the (now line free) port a potties to take care of business. Of course, even though I was probably in there 30 seconds or so, I lost my pace group, which was probably for the best, considering my legs were so fatigued and at risk of injury.
We headed up a small hill (well, small for Tacoma) into Wright Park and ran a loop around the site of my hamster on a treadmill long run.
I ran into Kathleen in the park and ran with her until after we went down 15th St to Dock Street, she left me in the dust as she headed for the finish like at Thea’s Park for her great 10K finish time.
OK, now we’ve hit the part of the out and back course that was a bit demoralizing. We had to run past the finish line with it’s cheering, shiny things, food and drink and run up a series of overpasses for the long haul down Shuster Parkway/Ruston Way.
By this time it was getting warmer out and the breeze off the water could not clear out the horrid air quality from all the fires just on the other side of the Cascades which had put our region into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Individuals” alert status all week. Several of us got wheezy on our Thursday night run and I could see people starting to have breathing issues on this stretch of the course. I was lucky (and taking it very easy) and didn’t have any issues.
This part of the course was another opportunity to wave, high five and shout out support to other runners; it is also where we got our first look at the leaders in the half marathon. I saw my pace group go by and realized that I wasn’t that far off (still under no delusion that I’d make a 2:30 time)
There were a lot of very colorful costumes and interesting people to chat with. It wasn’t just the men wearing tutus, many of the women were as well. I really should have worn one. How often do grown women have an opportunity to wear tutus? We should seize them whenever possible.
This was an area of the course where loved ones came to offer support (food, water, signs) to their wives, girlfriends, mothers, daughters and sisters who were running the race.
One gentleman in particular (who was not wearing a tutu) was running with his daughter.
The sign said “My daughter Marissa just turned 13 and is running her first half marathon.”
What a GREAT dad! I got a bit misty over that one. I yelled out “Great Job Marissa!” and added a “Great job Dad!” to it.
Once I hit the turn around, I knew that I was going to make it (well, I knew I’d make it, even if I had to crawl)
Sadly this was where those who were having issues with heat, air quality, under training, weight started to have issues. One woman who was obviously in distress yelled at her daughter who was offering to run up to her with the cold drink so she didn’t have to stop. Another woman when asked by her family how she was doing replied with something less than positive.
I tired to encourage her and tell her she could do this. That’s when when she dropped back and I’m pretty sure I heard her barf.
As I was pushing up one of the ugly overpasses one of the Half Fanatic pacers was running back down the race course to cheer some folks on, looked at me and said, “Way to power up that hill.” I looked at her, smiled and said, “Hills are my Bitch” and she laughed.
Near the end of the course, on a steady incline there was a bit of shade provided by a wall separating the elevated roadway that we all migrated towards. It was a cruel trick as the wall provided a small sliver of shade, but completely blocked the breeze and radiated heat.
Finally, the final bridge overpass came into view and we could hear the cheering of the crowd.
I had enough left in me for a sprint to the finish crossing the line at 2:38 which was not that far off my ideal time for this race.
Doug from Tacoma Runners was there at the finish to offer congratulations and support.
I found Kelly (we had seen each other on the out and back portions of the course) who was way speedier than me today.
After some water, grapes and visiting, it was time to walk up the hill (no way was I cramming my angry legs into a school bus for the shuttle) to meet Carmel for our traditional celebration of a race well run, Pizza and Beer at the Harmon Tap Room (whilst wearing our medals of course).
Yes, I know I said that I wasn’t fully recovered from all the medical/stress/surgery crap until I did that triathlon, but now I REALLY feel recovered because one of the last races I ran before it all started was a half marathon.
Here’s my “coming back” medal count so far.
Not bad for a woman who in January could not even take her own trash out
Next Weekend, the Run for a Soldier Half Marathon (I decided that I wanted my “Half Fanatic” status) and then moving into some serious training for the Seattle Marathon.
This morning Carmel and I headed up to Green Lake bright and early to do the Seattle Iron Girl Race.
We got up there early enough to get parking within two blocks of the event, picked up our goodie bags and went back to the car to stay warm (it was butt cold out there which was a very rapid weather change from yesterday’s summer heat)
We found Linda easily (she was only a block from the car when she called) but we never managed to find Caroline.
Here we are getting ready to head back over to the race start.
When we got back, we discovered that the port-a-potty situation was beyond dire. The website claimed to have “plenty of port-a-potties… Uh, No you didn’t.
Seriously people… Women, many of us over 40, many more nervous and all of us swilling coffee like Pacific Northwesterners NEED adequate bathroom facilities at these race starts.
I can guarantee you that hundreds of women were still in line needing to use the bathroom long after the race started.
We headed over to the park bathrooms and found an almost equally scary line.
One gal wondered out loud what the line looked like over on the men’s side.
“Let’s go find out!” I said and lead the charge over to the other side. (this wasn’t my “first rodeo” in that regard); it was that or risk a ticket for public urination.
Some poor kid was cleaning the bathrooms and couldn’t let us in while he still had a bunch of water on the floor needing to be squeegeed.. I explained to him that we were desperate and then pointed out the growing line of highly agitated women with angry bladders. Not wanting to see a riot, nor be crushed by a stampeding herd, He hustled.
We let the two men who needed to use it go in first, explaining the need for them to hurry (I can neither confirm nor deny that I stood IN the doorway and muttered loud enough to be heard, “What is he doing in there? taking an epic dump?”) Once the now frightened men exited the bathroom the hordes of women descended.
My apologies if you area male who needed to use the bathroom a bit before 8:00 AM.
And that ladies and gentlemen is the story of the Green Lake Men’s Bathroom Takeover of 2012.
We got to the start line with about five minutes to spare and started out in the 11:00 min mile pace area which was silly because people in Seattle don’t read the pace signs or self sort and we still got stuck behind a bunch of walkers. I have GOT to start farther forward in these events.
There were over 2,200 of us and it took us over eight minutes to get to the start line after the gun went off (thank goodness for chip timing) There was quite the bottleneck getting out onto Greenlake Boulevard so it took a while to get to where we could actually run.
I get twitchy having to run packed tight like sardines so I do a lot of zigging, zagging and jumping around to get some clear space in which to run. I pulled out an average 10 minute mile pace for the first 1.3 miles (which means a lot of it was way faster than that to make up for the walk/shuffle start, and was way too fast for me to sustain over 6.2 miles right now, so I backed off to an 11 min mile pace.
We ran around the lake (with varying exits off and entrances back on the trail) twice for those of us who were doing the 10K.
Just before the three mile mark, Linda flew past me. She was on fire and set for an excellent 5K finish time (it was her first race in 20 years and she ROCKED it)
I was trying to keep my pace reasonable as I am under trained, had another loop to make, needed to finish uninjured as I have to pull out a ten mile long run tomorrow and then taper for the You Girl half Marathon.
I did kick it up to a ten minute mile place for the last mile and kicked it up even faster for the last .2 miles into the finish. My Garmin said that at some point I was running at a 5:15 mile pace.
I averaged 74% of my max heart rate (144 beats per minute) throughout the race, with a short peak at 104% (193 beats per minute) when I was kicking into overdrive at the end)
Carmel, who ran the entire 5K this time was there to cheer me on at the finish line.
I crossed the finish line at 1:06 which really isn’t terrible considering I’ve had so little time to train due to recovering from surgeries.
I came in at 340 overall, out of 546 women running the 10K so I was solidly in the middle of the pack. I was 40th in my age group of 62 (not as impressive but a big pack of us ran in to the finish all at the same time so I was still in with a good grouping)
The medals were big and shiny.
Here we are at the finish showing off our shiny things.
I was a super naughty monkey at the expo.
Normally I don’t buy expo stuff, but there was this awesome tech fabric Athleta dress that I fell in love with, which I can actually run or bike in if I want to. I like having dresses to put on after triathlons and this one will fill the bill, although honestly, I think I’ll also wear it for evenings out. It’s super comfortable and I love the color.
I’ve been working my butt off (literally) and decided that I had earned a treat.
I came home and took a 2+ hour nap. I’ll also be going to bed early and NOT setting an alarm.
I need to get a very slow and easy ten miles in tomorrow so that I can call that a long run and taper for the half marathon next weekend.
One of the very last things I need to do to consider myself “fully recovered” (more important, to really feel like myself again) from the year and a half of hemorrhaging followed by recovering from two surgeries was to sign up to do another triathlon which I haven’t done in well over two years. I’ve coached and been a “swim angel” for Danskin and a “swim sister” for Trek, but haven’t competed myself in far too long.
Since I only just got back to running and did my first 5K since it all began two weeks ago, haven’t logged any serious mileage on my bike because I’ve only been commuting back and forth to downtown and Proctor on the beast of a commuter bike, and haven’t done an open water swim since volunteering as a swim angel at Danskin two years ago, I was hoping to find one that took place in late September or maybe even early October to give me enough time to, oh you know… actually get trained up
After I posted my intent to do a triathlon on my accountability group, I went online to sign up for one of the races I was certain would be in September. Sadly, there were no Bob Green races (my first ever tri) on the calender, No Trek Women’s Tri that I can find this year, the Subaru Tri (my first USAT sanctioned race) is now the Toyota Tri and happened early this year. My last hope, the Black Diamond Triathlon is on Saturday this year, and I work Saturdays.
So I signed up for the Meridian Lake triathlon, Which is… August 26th.
I am in NO way trained up or ready for this. (at least I was smart enough to sign up for just the sprint distance and didn’t try to get right back to Olympic distance)
I hopped on Diva, my carbon fiber triathlon bike that has not left the basement for over two years, for a quick spin around the Scott Pierson Trail to see just how out of bike shape I am.
I almost crashed within the first block because being a full carbon bike, it weighs next to nothing and felt super squirrelly, especially with the areobars.
I’ve been riding on the platfrom side of my combo pedals on the commuter bike wearing flipflops, so I’m also not used to being clipped to the pedals; having to come to a fast stop and not getting stuck and crashing is a concern at this point.
I managed an 11 mile ride (need to get up to 15 for the tri) and managed not to crash . I’ll be fitting longer rides in wherever I can for the next two weeks. I’ll start commuting to work on my road bike and taking the long way home as well.
Yesterday was the big day.
I headed out to Steele Lake for a solo open water swim.
I couldn’t find parking in my usual spot down by the boat ramp, so I had to put on my wetsuit the in main parking area. I’m sure it was a source of entertainment for a lot of folks. I’m thankful that we start out suited up, and that putting the suit on is not counted in transition time.
It wasn’t pretty. It was slow, clumsy, executed with very poor technique and it was pianfully apparent that I am extremely out of shape swimming wise, as I had to stop to catch my breath a lot and was a bit “wheezy” (common for me to not expand my lungs fully when they are compressed by the wetsuit)
The first mishap was forgetting to put my nose clips on. The first time I put my face in the water a huge rush of burning lake water rushed into my sinuses. In addition to the fact that it is painful because it’s the wrong pH, I got my first ever sinus infection a few years ago training in this lake (which being surrounded by houses/yards/septic tanks/dogs/fertilizers/etc…) is not what you want to have up your nose.
After a few stops to blow the water out of my nose I started getting into my rhythm. I’m still doing OK breathing bilaterally, but my sighting is off and I need to really work on that so that I don’t get off course during the tri.
I made it just shy of a mile.
I chose to swim off the beach rather than the boat ramp so that I could get someone to watch my shoes for me (and perhaps call 911 if I disappeared under water, in which case the lifeguard can would be a good marker as to where to find the carcass) and because the last time I swam off the boat ramp (where a lot of people fish) I stepped on a fish hook which embedded into the neoprene socks I was (thankfully) wearing at the time because the water was super cold.
What I didn’t realize is that there is freaking MILFOIL in the beach area. I didn’t notice it going out, but coming back, the first time I tried to put my feet on the bottom, I stepped in a big matt of it, and almost squealed like a girl. Being completely squigged out by the stuff, I flipped over onto my back and swam the rest of the way in that way until there was sand underneath.
The whole thing, start to finish was undignified, including realizing that I have completely lost the skill of getting out of the wetsuit quickly meaning my T1 transition time is going to suck.
But any open water swim (especially solo) you can walk away from right?
I also managed to get my run mileage back up to five miles, as I had to start over from ground zero after having my innards poked, prodded, cut, scraped and burned. It used to be that I never bothered to go on a run that was less than five miles, it has since become a goal. Life is weird.
I headed out to Pt Defiance and had a lovely run around Five Mile Drive. I took it very easy since increasing my long run distance or overall mileage too quickly will put me at risk for another round of illiotibal band injury, but I ran the whole loop (in the reverse direction going up the vomit worthy hill by the zoo and again between Camp 6 and Fort Nisqually) and I felt good afterward.
I did finally achieve one of my major goals this week, and that was to dump the 25 (yes TWENTY FIVE) pounds I gained whilst dealing with all the stress, medical, surgical crap and not being able to work out. (and of course, hanging out with those who regularly ate and drank to excess over the holidays which I will not be doing again)
I forget how much it is because all I can see is how much work I still have to do to fix my body composition fat/muscle ratio (and then there’s that whole, pushing 50 body changing stuff that goes on as well) so I only realize it when others who haven’t seen me for a while comment.
Several folks have asked how I did it.
The answer is, “There is no quick fix, there is no magic pill and there is no substitute for discipline and hard work.”
I ate and drank less and exercised more.
I dumped foods out of my diet that where empty calories and focused on nutrient dense healthier foods.
The very hard part was changing who I spent a majority of my time with.
When one is making any big changes in their life (even if it’s just getting back to who you used to be) you do have to be conscious about who you are spending your time with
If you hang out with people who regularly drink to excess and base their social life around alcohol and usually too much food; it’s going to be a heck of a lot harder to be healthy. Some will want to be supportive, but it’s just a bad environment, and others will actually (be it intentionally or unintentionally) sabotage your efforts by telling you that you’re “no fun anymore”, “loosen up, just this once; it won’t hurt” or by filling up your glass when you aren’t paying attention or shoveling more unhealthy food onto your plate.
I’ve actually had morbidly obese friends tell me that I’m “too skinny” and “look anorexic” (uh, hello, I just barely got under 150 which is right in the middle of the healthy weight range for my height) When I was running marathons, I was down to my high school track running weight of 135.
Trust me, it’s much easier to be healthy (and happy) when you’re around other people who have the same goal. (as an added bonus, it tends to put you in a much more drama free environment)
All of these scenarios have happened to me at the hands of well meaning friends, despite the fact that my blood pressure had risen to a level where I could have had a heart attack or stroke at any time and had to have my second surgery postponed because they were afraid I’d stroke on the operating table.
None of this is about vanity (as has been asserted by one or two of my less than supportive “friends”) it has been about not just regaining but literally saving my life.
It doesn’t mean that you can’t ever hang out with your “party friends” just that it’s best to limit that time and when you do see them, try to do so in a more controlled environment.
I cut out most alcohol. When I do indulge, maybe twice a week, it’s normally only one beverage; maybe two if it was after a good workout like in the beer garden at the Great Kilted Run. I did have three glasses of wine over the course of a long night at a long awaited reunion with friends, and I made sure to work my butt off before I headed over there so that I had the extra calories to burn for both the wine and the wonderful desert that included ice cream and drank plenty of water. And of course, these are friends who would have totally supported my stopping at one glass (or not having any) had I so chosen.
I do still treat myself (I had Anthony’s Salmon and Chips and a beer just the other night) but do so on days that I’ve burned enough calories to allow it.
It works on a computer/tablet and there is an Android app (I’m assuming it’s available for iPhone as well)
Your program your personal information, height, weight, goals (how many pounds a week to lose) and it tells you how many calories you should eat/drink each day to achieve that goal (to lose a pound a week you need a 500 calorie a day defecit, 500 X 7 = 3,500 calories = 1 pound of fat)
Once that is done, you log everything you eat and drink into the program and it keeps a running tally of how many more calories (and other variables you want to track such as carbs, protien, fat, iron, etc…
If you want to “earn” more calories, you have to exercise (which you should do anyway) you just enter the type of exercise you did, how long you did it and the program calculates and adjusts how many more calories you can consume that day and still meet your goals.
It holds you accountable and teaches (or re-teaches) you to think of food as fuel (which is what it is)
I have lost 25 pounds without depriving myself (which just leads to binging) While I try to eat mostly healthy foods, I have enjoyed pizza, beer, ice cream, mexican food, the occasional margarita, fish & chips, real cream in my coffee and real butter on my baked goods.
The other tool that my friend Christina told me about is the FitBit
It’s super tiny and I just wear it clipped onto my bra.
While I’ve never been a fan of pedometers, this thing is a “pedometer on steroids” has a great computer interface and integrates with many other programs including MyFitnessPal.
It not only measures steps taken, but floors climbed (there’s some motivation to take the stairs) calories burned, etc… I’ve found that it’s pretty darn accurate.
I syncs with your computer and keeps a running tally of your steps, miles, floors, calories burned and active score.
You enter your information, set goals and it tells you what you have achieved each day.
For me, that number on my desktop goads me into doing a bit more before the day is over.
One of the really cool things it does, is measure your sleep; how long it takes you to go to sleep, how many times you wake up at night and calculates your sleep efficiency. Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain, so this is actually important to know.
I do not have it synced to MyFitnessPal, because not everything I do is recorded by the FitBit (cylcing/swimming) and while you can manually enter it, I like using it as a separate tool which I can double check against.
I still have a LOT of work to do (at a few weeks away from turning 50 it’s not as easy as it used to be) but…
Hammer Butt is back… (I’ll be taking an updated Hammer Butt photo before the tri…)