Thursday, July 31, 2008

A little girl to goggle bonding.

On Monday evening my goggles and I bonded - for a long time.
I swam 1100 yards.
Then I rushed to the computer to google "how far is 1100 yards in miles" cause I never did master distance conversion.
Guess what?
It's nearly 3/4 mile!
"Hoo Hoooooty!", I cry and dance a wet jig.
Shortly thereafter I fell into an exhausted heap - who'd a'thunk?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Can I just take a moment?

Every Saturday, early in the morning, my tri-guy group gathers together to sweat, swear and smell raunchy.

Before we begin though, we have a "TEAM moment". I like these moments, when anyone in the group circle shares about Cancer - research about cancer, breaking news about cancer, facts they've learned about cancer, stories of folks they know with cancer - you get the idea I'm sure. I like these times, not just because they are moments when I'm not sweating, swearing and smelling ridiculously worse than any one woman has a right to, but because they remind me of my intention - my purpose.

I thought I'd share a moment with y'all, so gather in a circle.

This Saturday was the All Team Team in Training Training (I thought that name was hysterically funny, and said it several times fast to various members of the group - for folks with such decent humors normally, they sure take their sacred stuff seriously. Apparently, the ALL TEAM TEAM in TRAINING TRAINING *giggle,snort* is not something to joke about - go figure).

There were nearly 100 cyclists, halfers and full marathoners, walk/runners, and us tri-guys that gathered at Trainer Bob's digs where he had marked the separate courses in white paint on the pavement. It's a good thing he did too, because I, in the spirit of true adventurers, forgot my directions and had to follow the arrows and CAUTIONS backwards like so many breadcrumbs from "Hansel and Gretel" in order to reach the house.

The end result was that I missed the moment, the start of the workout, and ended up with a largely solitary ride. I biked ferociously (for me at least) around the "Tour de Bob" bike loop, catching, to my glee and amazement, the last four cyclists in the group, though none of my tri-guys. You will all be pleased to hear that I did not, even once, fall off the bike! (It's all about baby steps) and came back to start quicker than I thought.

I transitioned fairly smoothly, and headed out on the run - I'm alright at running - I figured I'd certainly meet up with the group on the way back on the run course, so I was keeping my eyes peeled.

It was still pretty cool, and this particular run was feeling good (some runs definitely feel like pounding pavement and heaving air for four straight miles - others, well, I get lost in, and suddenly, they're over).

I was feeling grateful for the mature trees on the course (shade - yippee!) when I rounded a bend in the road.

Up ahead, began one long straight row of white signs, waist high, lined up like little soldiers.

The first read something like this: "Today, we remember why we run."

Then: "We run for those who cannot run" (the next 15 signs or so were all home and school photos of babies and children)

The next: "We run for those who fight the battle" (the next 20 or so signs were personal photos of folks and their families)

Next: "...for those who fought and won" (these photo-signs were greater in number, and filled with all ages, including my team's honored team mate CURTIS. Some folks were even in Team in Training gear on finish lines!)

and finally: "and for all those we have lost." (the rest of the first mile, these photos smiled out from their signs, some winsome, some laughing, some young, some old. Each one - the girl next door, the grocery bagger, the broker, the runner, the child, the mother.)

With each sign I passed, a new awareness, with each face, another life effected, changed, lost. All of those spirits, and the force of my own loss powered me on.

Sometimes, when I run, I get the distinct feeling that it is just me and God and the pavement, mile after mile, thought after thought, but on Saturday, God and I, we were joined by hundreds of others, urging me on, pushing me forward.

I never did catch my tri-guys, though I passed them on my return run (they had done a second bike loop to my one, and THEN hit the 4 mile run course). But I did run almost 5 1/2 miles in about 48 minutes. That's a really good time for me - must have been the angel wings on the heels of my sneakers.

Guess I didn't miss the moment after all - and now, neither did you.

Thank you all for being part of this journey with me - know that every bit we do is another smile on a sign, another wing on a shoe.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lessons I've Learned in Training

1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate.

2. Do not hydrate with pond water; it is best used for swimming, not ingesting.

3. Whoever designed road bikes was clearly not well. I can find no other logical
explanation for the marble seated, thin tired, featherweighted thing that is
the racing bike.

4. Falling is inevitable when you are attached to a bike. Be prepared.

5. Bike gloves are not for looking cool. They are to protect the palms during the frequent aforementioned plummets to pavement.

6. Tri-shorts are very helpful to the poor abused nether regions - wear them. Unfortunately, regardless of how often they are laundered, they carry with them the stench of what can only be described as chronic donkey butt.

7. Goo is something you are supposed to eat and like. (blech)

8. Runners trots have nothing to do with horses.

9. Vomiting on a run is considered an almost tribal rite of passage. It is met with great yalps of excitement and cheers of encouragement from gleeful coaches and fellow tri-guys alike.

10.If I am very quiet on an early morning run, I can solve most of the world's problems in the first 20 minutes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Training Log - Sunday July 13,2008

As of yesterday's Team training, I have officially been at this for 3 weeks.

At the first Team Swim, I could swim 100 yds freestyle and then switched to breast stroke for the remaining 100 yds before a 2 minute break.
Yesterday, we swam 2 x 400yds with a 1 minute break between. I didn't have to switch from freestyle until the last 200yds where I did side stroke - 100yds on each side.
My air is so much better, and my lame-o shoulder is amazing me with how not lame-o it truly is!
800yds is nearly half a mile!
All in all, I've clocked 4150 swim yds or almost 3 miles in 3 weeks!

In addition, I have a total of 115 miles on bike, 12.2 running miles (several of them interval or fartlek), and 4 hours of yoga ;)

When the little perfectionist in my head starts talking trash, I remind myself that this training process is not about winning or even competing, but rather about systematically approaching challenges, surmounting them, and ultimately triumphing.

I remind myself of all those with cancer, those that I honor and those I remember. The brave folks who face obstacles I cannot know with strength I can only aspire to.

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore or my Ruby Slippers


are my Ruby Red Slippers.

I've tried clicking my heels three times and saying "There's no place like home.", but the darn things appear to be broken.

It seems that the only way I'll be able to "get on down, get on down the roooaaaaddd" is if I hook the silly metal clippy things on the bottom

into the vicious jaw like pedals on this regal looking steed.

Frankly, I can think of a bazillion things to do with handmade Italian leather shoes. Walking in Milan, for instance, or down some equally romantic shwank of a street.

Even this "Get Smart" inspired thing

seems to make more sense, though, to be honest, I think the littlest Stink and her BFF were having trouble getting any kind of good reception.

Shoe phones and swank aside, at one point,long ago, some clever soul decided that these little slippers should be the mechanism that locks an otherwise unsuspecting triathlete (in training) onto a piece of carbon and aluminum that is, for all intents and purposes, careening wildly down hot asphalt at speeds upwards of 20 MPH.


I think I like the shoe phone idea better.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Basics - SWIM

I will profess, going into this, I thought I had, what I considered to be, a basic knowledge of the triathlon.

I knew that you rode a bike, ran a bit, and swam a little more.

I knew that it was an endurance challenge.

I knew of the Ironman.

It turns out, there's a bit more to it than that - go figure.

Believe it or not, there's an order to the chaos; it goes like this: swim, bike, run. It is my assumption that this order is based on the sport with the greatest opportunity for bodily harm to the least.

It could be argued here that propelling oneself across road at high speeds on nothing but two VERY thin wheels and a (aluminum in my case) frame could be considered more dangerous than moving the body through deep expanses of open water, but that would only be if you assume a certain proficiency at swimming.

And there's the rub.

I read once that a newborn child is a very proficient swimmer. The concept being, that having floated about in the womb for nine months, the infant takes naturally to an aquatic environment. I don't know how factual that is, but I can tell you this... it is so not true once we're grown.

There is nothing remotely aquatic about the lopsided panting windmill that is me in the dark waters of the lake - nothing.

I've been training now for nearly two weeks, have a fondness for "stuff" and feel thusly qualified to fill you in on what you need before you ever dip toe into water.

The Equipment:

First and foremost, you need a good pair of these:

Around the House of Stink, we call these "giggles". (through personal error, I can advise not calling them such in a training situation - nobody "gets" it, and these things are considered sacred tools.)

For my first swim, I arrived with an old pair of 'somebody's' giggles. They were sort of yellow with age, but they're just giggles, right? WRONG.

Do not do this! They fog up, fall off and otherwise make swimming VERY difficult. Trainer Bob, advised to purchase a new pair.

"Look" he said, and took the strap of his high-tech eye wear off his head. "Your goggles should stick to your face without the strap. (Here he pushed them onto his face and they slurped up a good strong seal).

"Insist," He advises, "on trying them on. Fit is imperative, and everyone is different."

Here, several other tri-ers show me that their goggles also suction tightly to their face without the strap. Wow.

La Stink and I head to the Sports Super Store and warn the sales staff that we'll be "trying on", and then proceed to open case after case of goggles, sucking them onto our eye sockets to see if they stick. Sometimes, one goggle sticks and one dangles, sometimes they both fall off. Occasionally, one will stick and then fall off when the other is pressed on.

This is a sort of time consuming process and not for the faint hearted. It's sort of like trying on masks, or enormous hats, or stiletto heels - in the middle of a very busy public street! Take a friend for support.

These triathlete people are hardy folk. Aside from the cross training in what can be near frigid temperatures, they have acquired some interesting practices employed to increase the speed of their race. They generally try to wear the same gear for the whole race. So.... you need one of these clever things.

A tri-suit is a bathing-biking-running short with equally versatile top (either attached or unattached) these are TIGHT with a capital T, triathletes call this being aerodynamic.

In addition you need this:

not the hammock, silly friends, the pond or some other sort of open water. Pool swimming is VERY different from open water swimming.

Further, if you live in the House of Stink, you also need a nice older gentleman named Tom to come with lots of metal cage-like traps to escort these surly party crashers

from the training grounds.

Since the beginning of training, I've logged 4 hours of open water swimming (an estimate of 3000 or so yards in addition to lap swimming in my inlaw's 20yd pool) I swam 600 yds there, but at 20yds each lap, I think I deserve bonus time for the dizzying number of flip turns (30!) I had to do.

To put that in perspective, on race day, I will need to swim nearly 1,760 Yards - over half of what I have done in two whole weeks.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Money doesn't grow on trees or my first contribution is in!

This is what I found this morning.
(Okay, so it wasn't actually in the boxwood, but you get the idea.)
Tucked inside this vintage jewelry box was $10.01. I asked our gal Stink about the box, and this is what she said:

"It's for your race, for know... the r-a-c-e?"

So about this time I close my mouth, begin breathing again and I say, "Thank you Stinkish - thanks for giving to the cause; $10.01 UP!"

"Nope," she says, "just 10 bucks".

She holds up the little coin and smiles "The penny's for luck."
Team Stink - on the charts!

I do wonder though if a lucky penny in a running shoe gives blisters?

The Family Stink

This is the Family Stink; the boy (a wicked funny fellow with a good heart and an occasional lean toward the lazy side), the big girl, (a driven and passionate sort of gal with a fondness for creating), the man (intense and fiercely devoted to family), and there in the middle, that's our gal Stinky Pete, the link that binds us together, precocious and cheeky to a fault.

Oh and that lass at the rear... that'd be me, the mother of all Stinks and quite clearly a bit touched in the head.

One week ago, while dining on my post-lunch snack-o-snack of Ben and Jerry's and junk mail tossing, I came across a purple-ish mailer plastered wide with hot, sweaty, pink cheeked faces. I spooned another bit of Cherry Garcia in and thought, "I'm going to do that."

and I am.

On September 14, 2008, I will be participating in the Nation's Triathlon in Washington, DC.