Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year, new resolutions

Well, this is new. Usually I make no resolutions in the new year. Usually, I make Advent resolutions. But since I went Christmas crazy all Advent, I am now making New Years resolutions.

In the new year, I'm really going to be considering what to do with the blog. It started as a clergy thing and then morphed into a triathlon thing. When I look back now I realize the posts that are most helpful to me are tri-related posts. So this might be turning into a sort of online training journal, which makes me feel like other people are keeping track of me. Which is great for my motivation!

But I haven't felt much like blogging about issues that are important to me or the church- I feel like I participate in plenty of online forums about those so I just haven't been in the mood to be very serious in this forum. So I expect this will be mostly a tri journal for a while.

Other than that, my resolutions this year are to pay off debt- we are plugging away and I have a very ambitious goal which is part of my overall goal to become less obliged to major corporations. I use their products, but I don't have to be under a legal contract to them. This year, as we pay off our debts, I am resolving to get out of contracts on as many items as possible. My money will be my own.  I want the freedom to decide to drop a cell phone provider a a moment's notice or to not use cable. So maybe by the end of year- be free of at least two of the big debts and free of my cellphone and cable contracts. Yeah, I like that!

I resolve to get my off the bike mile down in the 9 minutes. I know when I am fresh and feeling good, I can roll off some 7:45 miles. So I think a 9: something mile is reasonable. For an Olympic!  I am doing Lake Stevens 70.3 in July so expect to hear about that training.

I resolve to regain my flexibility. After a ver painful leg spasm nearly derailed my most recent race (where I took 2nd in my age group, yeah!) I realize that I have really let my flexibility and core strength slide. I resolve to add Pilates into my post-workout and recovery days.

I don't need any bike resolutions. Ride my beloved BMC a lot. That's too easy.

Continue to be as healthy as possible. I'm considering doing the South Beach program again for a while because I like the recipes and the food and I feel like I'm in a rice and beans rut!

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Strangest Triathlon Dream Ever

First of all... with my past as a parish priest in Southbury, CT, and my history of working with and supporting law enforcement officers, I am sure there are those who believe I am obligated to opine on the Newtown tragedy. 

I have decided to not blog about it, at the moment.  I said what I've been able to say in private circles, and what is being said in public circles on the Episcopal Cafe and on friends' blogs and in the media is enough for me to process right now.  

As the gun control debate ramps up in volume, I have only this to say:  Everyone can take pilot lessons to learn how to fly.  Not everyone should be allowed to fly a fighter jet.  

On to things triathlon.

I spent part of today puttering around town.  A friend helped me cement shut the tiny rip in my wetsuit, so that is all taken care of.  I must have torn it at Leadman.  It was my first race with volunteer strippers.  Man, I love the strippers.  They make getting the wetsuit off SO EASY.

For the record, strippers at a big race are not what you are thinking:  no G-strings, no spangles, no poles, no feathers.  They are fully dressed volunteers who help racers as they come out of the water.  Leadman was so much faster than I was used to, so I felt like I was grabbed, zipped, thrown on the ground, peeled, picked up, and sent on my way at lightning speed.

After I got home, I discovered the small rip less than an inch long.  No biggie.  It is a quick fix.

After that errand, I took my husband to LifeCycle to hang out.  I am planning to put aerobars on my bike this winter, so I was checking out what they had.  And then cooing over the tri bikes. I love my BMC, though, so I plan to spend this season competing on my roadie, with aerobars.

Anyway, LifeCycle has started dealing Gyst bags!  M gave me a Gyst a few years ago,
Christmas present!  (Hand still in therapy from the whole sad bike crash episode, which also explains my hair.  You can't style hair one-handed.   Bangs and layers should just be banned from my head.)  

and I adore my fancy transition bag.  I have the duffle.  It's SO organized.  It is easily one of my favorite triathlon things ever.  I can fit ALL my gear into my duffle, easily.  For bricks, sometimes I just take out the little mat.  Most of the season, I keep it packed up with my gear so it's pretty easy to grab and go.  In fact, my duffle can hold: a spare bag folded up at the bottom, two large bags, seatbag, bike tools, computer, bento box, food, drink, change of clothes including spare undies, after-race shoes (I wear crocs, which are hideous, but so good on my poor swollen feetsies!), headbands, spare hair elastics, swim gear, bike helmet, bike shoes, running shoes, race belt, sunscreen, chamois cream, sunglasses, race hat, two sets of bike gloves, arm warmers, arm coolers, and a bike jacket.

Fresh out of the box.  I pack it a little differently now...

The only thing that DOESN'T always fit is my wetsuit, which I usually wad up into its own wetsuit bag.  In fact, the only thing that would make my duffle PERFECT would be a wetsuit compartment.  I understand they made a tri-specific bag that DOES have wetsuit space, but I love my duffle.  At some point, perhaps I should try out the tri-specific bag.  But man, I love my Gyst duffle.  I gushed a little when I saw them at LifeCycle.

Anyway... here is the strange tri dream I had last night.  In the dream, I was racing Nations.  I woke up in a dark race hotel room, which I found I was sharing with four other girls.  No one knew what wave they were in or when their start time was.  I started unpacking my Gyst duffle, because even in my dreams, I apparently take my favorite bag, only to discover I had not put my race numbers on ANYTHING.  Anyone who knows me and my Extreme Checklist knows that I organize stuff at least four times the night before a race, and putting on race numbers is a precious little ritual!

I was slapping my number onto my bike helmet and stretching my swim cap over my bushy messy hair.  (I usually braid it for races, because it's so bushy, so this is ANOTHER problem!)  I was # 6.  I didn't have time to put my race number on my belt, so I figured I'd do that in T1.  I started into the water, threw my helmet at the water exit, and started swimming.  By the way, no one leaves their bike helmet at the water exit!  We leave them at the bike, at our T1

Except I couldn't go ANYWHERE.  No matter what I did, everyone was passing me.  So I flipped over and started doing the backstroke.  Just like in real life, the backstroke is my secret weapon.  I started whizzing along and came out in the top few people of my age group.  I ran to T1... only to discover that the #6 bike was not mine!  I started searching the racks for my BMC, which I call "The Badass Mountain Climber", or simply "The Badass".  No bike.  I look at # 9, thinking maybe the bike rackers had gotten it racked wrong.  The race organziers start trying to help me find the bikes, and make me look at every single 6 and 9 bike in the football-field sized transition area.  609, 906, 606, 909, 999, 666, 536, 539, everything.  No bike.

Badass, where are you?

At this point, I looked at my watch.  Usually T1 takes me 2.5-6 minutes, depending on how large transition area is.  My watch showed me that I had been in T1 for 14:30, at that point.  I was getting frantic.

Part of the T1, in the dream, was inside a hotel.  I ran into the concierge, a tall Italian named Martino.  He looked a little like M, except he had a large handlebar mustache and a thicky meaty Italian accent.  Dashingly, he started trying to help me.  He offered me rollerblades.  He offered me one of those outdoor ellipse machines.  He tried to convince the race makers to let me do the ride indoors on a hotel stationary bike.  He got a local farm to lend me a cow to ride, except that I'd have to milk the cow first.  He handed me two enormous camelback bladders, explaining that I could easily fit the cow milk into there, and then the cow situation would work.  I went running out of T1, Martino the Concierge chasing me with the cow-sized Camelback bladders.

Finally, I ran into my own personal savior: Leslie Knope.

Come on, admit it.  If everything were going wrong, you too would want Leslie Knope on your side!  She was able to find that my bike had been delivered to the hotel, having been mis-directed.  She and I were sprinting through the streets of DC, which were growing upwards and changing direction like Howarts' hallways, seeking the hotel so I could get my bike so I could try to salvage this race.

And that was when I woke up.

Small wonder that I was starving for a nice bunch of biscuits and vegan gravy for breakfast!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Grown Up Version of the Monster Under the Bed

Over the summer, we suffered a great deal of trauma with M's car breaking down in Idaho, leaving us trapped in Podunkalunk, Idaho for a whole weekend, and eventually leading to a multi-state getaway plan involving point-to-point rental cars.  There was swearing and crying and phone calls to sympathetic relatives.  At the end of it all, his car was still in Idaho, and I was left to make sense of a repair bill estimate of over $7,000.  The phone was ringing with the car place wanting to know if they should start that work or not.

At this point, I was praying "Please let it be the timing belt..."

Small wonder I shoved everything into a Pile of Horror and Terror, and left that pile in my study all summer and all fall.

Responsible adult note: I did what I needed to do to appropriately deal with the problem. In the end, the car was shipped home and repaired here and all was well.  It is just the mass of paper that I didn't deal with.  

But I was terrified and EXHAUSTED by all the paper.  I don't know why I was terrified, except that I am a very financially nervous person.  And my memory of the summer involved a big business asking me to give them way more money than I had handy for the purposes of giving them, and me saying no to the big business.  But today, because I had several pieces of OTHER important writing that need to be completed, including the final revisions on my sermon (ahem, self), sorting out that pile seemed to be my top priority.

I turned on the Pandora (enter "Straight No Chaser Christmas" for a really cool station with lots of acapella and alternative, if that is your thing) and got to work.

Astoundingly, I was able to throw out more than half the pile.  Everything else in the Pile of Horror and Terror turned out to be simple household paperwork that I filed in no time, and a huge amount of paperwork from the Idaho repair place.  Since we didn't have them repair the car, I had pages and pages of paper that had no meaning.

Wow.  It feels so happy in here.  Most of the stuff in my Pile of Horror and Terror was nothing but a monster under the bed.

And better than that, with the Paper Monster dealt with, the Urge to Purge is also gone.  My whole house feels festive, even though all I did was eliminate the paper monster.

Isn't that weird?

One of these days I'll learn how to rotate a picture.  This is not THIS year's tree,
but it is ONE of my past Christmas trees.  

Happy Christmas!  (Don't tell the Advent police on me!)

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Advent Police Will Never Catch Me!

On the bright side, I have some great friends for Advent.  The Bishop posted a really lovely shot of his classy Advent tree- all white lights and evergreens and pretty little bird ornaments.  Good job, Bishop!  You are so patient and seasonally proper.

How do my colleagues stand me this year?  I'm humming Christmas carols and refusing to behave myself for Advent.  I did successfully fight the urge to buy the big tinsel Christmas tree for my desk.  Just barely.

Meanwhile, I am already stuffing stockings!  I was singing along with Christmas music in the car, and have started my holiday gift making.  I have a couple of eyes to sew on, and some cranberries to soak.  I had a TON of fun this week making a HoHoHo stocking for a little boy I don't know.  It was really, really fun.  I crowd-sourced on Facebook for advice about kid stuff.

Meanwhile, M's stocking is full!  I added a few little fun toys- you know that little $1 section at Target?  I get some silly things from there for stocking stuffers.  And now, all that's left is one last gift and I can pack up the boxes to mail to the relatives in Connecticut and Maryland and Colorado.

I can't write about one of the presents I'm most excited about in case my sister reads this.  But I took pictures!

M gets home next week, not that I'm counting.  (I'm totally counting!)  He's been gone since June, with just three days back in September.  That is no fun!  My hat is off to military families who endure multiple deployments.  It takes real dedication to make a relationship work with this kind of distance.  Perhaps some day I'll write about what we have gone through these past 6 months.

I don't know what it is, but I feel this urge to purge like crazy.  I've been gleaning clothes and books and sending them to Goodwill, and reorganizing things.  Simplicity is fun, though I'll never be a minimalist.  Maybe I have suddenly adjusted to this crazy upside down house...  

So the Advent police better not catch me, being all merry and jolly before Christmas is actually here!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Being Christmas in an Advent World

I'm really lucky to be in Eugene/Springfield.  All the Episcopal clergy get along really well with each other.  We even do a regular clergy bible study at the sushi coffeeshop (it's a coffeeshop in the morning and a sushi restaurant at night, and I'm often tempted to try ordering salmon roe for breakfast).  

Last night, it came to pass that several of us were eating dinner in the company of the Bishop, who was down in our area for his annual visitation to Resurrection.  (St. Mary's had theirs a few weeks ago.)  The Bishop told us about his Advent tree, which is just like a Christmas tree, except that it's covered in Advent ornaments.  When Christmas comes, down come the Advent ornaments and up go the Christmas ones.  

I thought that was a pretty cool way to have lots of ornaments and to get to change out the decorating throughout the season.  I might try that some year!  

In the meantime, I know that, as a Christian, and a clergyperson, nay, as an EPISCOPAL PRIEST, I am supposed to love all things orderly and Anglican, and I am supposed to be all "Advent conspiracy" and "waiting expectantly for the coming of the Savior" and all that. 

Normally that's fine. 

This year, I just want Christmas, Christmas, Christmas.  Last year we skipped Christmas, and it's like all the holiday cheeriness bottled up and bust its cork on Thanksgiving afternoon.  I want the Christmas lights, I want the Christmas songs (except the terrible ones), and for love of Santa, give me Claymation Rudolph and Boris Karloff narrating the Grinch Who Stole Christmas.  

This year, I don't even find myself super-annoyed by the mall, which usually makes me insane.  Instead, I find I am actually enjoying the sparkly lights.  I am totally mellow about the parking spot search.  

It's very strange.  

For some of you, this probably sounds normal.  That is because you are not clergy, and you don't spend your days with colleagues who are theologically proper and appropriate.  Me?  While I'm mostly behaving at work (other than teasing my co-workers that I will totally pull out my Advent blue vestments and go running down the aisle before they can stop me in our purple, purple church), I am enjoying the Year of Christmas Before It's Time.  

I will also love you grammar fiends, who will parse the apostrophe in that sentence.  It works EITHER WAY.  It DOES.   Bwa ha ha ha ha!  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Oh my. What I Did Last Night

So a while back I got into a Facebook trash-talking thingie with a priest friend.  He'd graduated Seminary, gained a bunch of weight while wallowing in misery, moved to California, found heaven-on-earth for his family, decided to get healthy, dropped 80 pounds, and said something about triathlon.

Somehow, that turned into us challenging each other to a triathlon.  He's never done one before and somehow got the idea that full Ironman was the way to go.

Some people do that.  Full Iron is their one-and-done triathlon.  Me, I like the whole multisport thing and my teammates are really fun and cool, so I have fun with ALL the different distances.

Besides, I didn't think I'd be ready for full Iron, so I managed to talk him down. (Isn't "I like the multisport thing and all my teammates" a nice way of saying "I'm not ready for I am a worm and no runner"?)

That is why I registered for this.  And so did my friend.  And most of my teammates.  There's a WHOLE BUNCH of us going.

Lake Stevens, July 21.  All I have to do is up my speed and put in some good bike time so I can take my awesome BMC head-to-head with his Cervelo R3, which is also a sweet bike.  One of my friends here Oregon has one, and I looked up the results from the last race we both did.  She was faster than me on her R3, by a little over a minute.  But I'd only had my BMC for four days.  So I think the bikes are pretty evenly matched.

It is SO on, Gates.

And... I sorta can't believe I actually registered for an M-dot.