Monday, September 29, 2014

28 To Great

So today, I am going to do another round of the 28 to Great Barre3 program.  I discovered this fabulous group while I was living in Oregon.  It's a barre-based workout program using bodyweight and light hand weights, Pilates and yoga moves, and tons of repetitions to strengthen and tone.  I find it is super-helpful as a cyclist and a runner and swimmer.  It works me out, but doesn't break me down so I get leaner, more flexible, and stronger but I can still do a big ride or a run without dying.

The last time I did it, I followed the meal plan.  And while the meals are yummy, I am in a different place nutritionally right now.  I'm working closely with a coach to get the right balance of nutrients into my body (plenty of good vegetarian protein, good carbs, good fats), and to learn to eat dairy-free without resorting to fake food or crying.

So this time, I'm going to follow the 28 to Great workout plan and my coach's meal coaching.

Last time I did the 28 to Great, I was still struggling with e.Coli, so I was not very consistent with the workouts, and I was pretty sick from the illness, so I was fighting anemia, low vitamin D, low vitamin B, and a host of other minor nutritional deficiencies.  Now with the e.Coli all healed and my body built up to a strong baseline, I don't have that uphill battle to fight.  So I'm expecting to really concentrate on the workouts a a strong person.

I want to regain my core strength (I used to have abs!) and to get strong enough to do a plank and some pushups.  Arm strength.  Chicks can have it, too!  Ideally, I'd like to work my way back to a baseline of how strong and fit I was the year I did Leadman.  I climbed a mountain on my bike.  That's what I'm looking for.  And then from there, I'd like to get even more fit.

M wants to do some obstacle course races.  I want to do another half-Iron next year, but I'm also intrigued by those obstacles.  I always thought they'd be too hard for me, and then I watched him and his friend do one.  And I thought, "Yeah, I could do these..."  and "If THAT girl can do it, hellayeah, so can I."

So it's one month to really focus on strength.

And month #2 of relearning how to eat with my nice coach.  WHO MADE ME A SPECIAL RECIPE FOR TOMATO SOUP THAT I CAN"T WAIT TO EAT!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Doing the Scary Thing

Today, I finally completed the Big Scary Project I'd been thinking about for over a year.  I'm part of a group called The Young Clergywomen Project, and we have a section of that project which partners with Chalice Press, meaning that we can submit book proposals.

I started thinking up the idea for a book over a year ago.  But because it was partly grounded in a life situation which was constantly in flux, and because I'm the age that I am, and because I did not want to be the pretentious hipster who writes a memoir at 35, I dithered and dithered for over a year.

Finally, at a conference this summer, in a workshop, I let the idea go into the wild.  And since then, there have been multiple conversations and scenarios which convinced me that the book I was thinking of had some real application and need.  So I took my drafts and notes and worked them into a proposal.

Which then sat on my computer from July until now.  So I plunked myself down at a coffeeshop (a secret one on Capitol Hill that my mentor and friend introduced me to.  Seriously, if I ever worked at that church, it would be because the church is awesome AND because this shop was right down the road).  I wrote and tidied and spell checked and standardized margins and finally saved it once-and-for-all...

And then decided I would let it sit for a few more hours or days or maybe a week until I could check it over again.

But then I thought, "why, self, why?"  If this thing was truly something I was being called and motivated to do, and if it was timely and if it's really relevant like I am making an argument for, why wouldn't I send it?

Fear?  Was I really going to let shyness and fear and the nagging conviction that I'm really not good enough to do this stop the email?  It's just the first step after all.  And now it goes into committee.  And I know this press wants us, but they will not let a lousy book go out, so I don't have to fear that I will let bad work out into the wild.

No, I was just fear filled.  Because I'm an extroverted introvert- I love being around people and talking and keeping up a prattle, but I am an expert on keeping things light and surface depth.  My CPE groups used to bemoan how I would never really share deeply or "go deeper" into an issue.  So the idea of spending an entire book "going deeper" with what could be hundreds or thousands of readers...?  Terrifying!

Also terrifying?  Knowing that if this gets accepted, that we will have to share more details about a very painful and sad time in our lives.

Also terrifying?  Knowing that there will be folks out there- some will be jealous, others will be contemptuous- who will make unkind remarks about me and my work.  I will not have uniformly kind and constructive critics, and I know that if this becomes a real book, there will be people who will openly disparage my work and my experience.

That is scary, indeed.

But I thought about it, and I decided I would never really know the truth if I never sent it out to begin with.  The work was done for right now, and waiting another week or another day or another hour wouldn't change anything except for me to find another comma subtract or another sentence to reword.  And those of us who create know that you can do those sorts of tweaks for ever and ever, and never really finish.

It was time to be finished with this part of the work.

So I opened up the email program, attached my file, and hit send.  Off it goes into the wild world of committees.  Bye bye, baby bird book proposal!

PS- to answer questions: 
First, it gets read by the committee.  They may say yes, or they may say no. 
If they say yes, it goes to the Press we work with. 

THEY may say yes, and enter into a contract with me, and I get to WORK. 

They may say maybe, and ask for the right of first refusal.  In which case I write the book, and give them a completed manuscript, and when it's done, they decide if they will publish it.  The last TYCWP book was completed under this option, and it's FABULOUS.  

They may say no, in which case I go home and make a double martini and huddle on the couch for a week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Nation's Tri Race Report: Race Day

Race Day did not dawn at all, for we were up at 4AM.  I told my family I wanted to be out the door by 4:30.  I am frequently the first person at races.  What can I say?  I'm a nervous racer and I like my extra time to lay things out.  

We had both spent time the night before packing bags and choosing gear.  Despite M's teasing and threats, he had already picked out all his food, so we were not going to be in for a repeat of the Half-Marathon Madness.  

I even had a food plan.  I knew what I was going to eat and when.  We found an easy parking spot in a location I will never share so that no one else can park where we parked.  (Hey, we were going to get blocked in by the road closures, anyway).  The plan was to send our gear bags back to the house with my parents after the race, and M and I would walk/ride to the Metros and metro home with the bikes.  


The first snafu happened as we were heading towards the race.  My mother, who was my special needs person in charge of handling my cochlear processor, caught a snippet of the verbal announcement and said, "They just said you can't wear your bike cleats."  That obviously made no sense so I immediately decided my mother was just insane in the pre-dawn periods, and ignored all the rest.  Hey, we make dumb decisions at 5AM, OK?  

As we got closer, we could hear the full announcement.  The swim was canceled, and we would all start with the bike.  (That was the "no bike cleats".  You had to run into the bike zone as if you had just done the swim:  no bike gear at all.  The only difference is you'd be dry, not wet.)  It turned out that the hard rain had caused a sewage overflow, and the Potomac was filled with raw sewage.  A few kayakers who later posted to Facebook shared that the water was beyond nasty.  

Having just spent the last year getting over e.Coli, I was very disappointed to not get to swim, but OK with it in the end.  I really do think the Nation's organizers make the right decision.  Considering all the novices at this race, you have to err on the super safe side.  And the not-gross side.  


Well, we all know how happy I am on the bike.  There was one spot early on in the bike loop where I hit that magical spot of speed and perfect gearing where the bike just feels it is humming underneath you.  It's been a long time since I was strong enough to hit that spot, and I thought, "Oh, hello, happy place. There you are!"  

The olympic was a very well marked double loop with an out-and-back section.  I was worried because I hadn't had time to go to a course briefing, but I needn't have worried.  It was SO CLEAR in the markings.  

I actually forgot my bike computer!  So I had no idea how fast I was going at any point.  I knew I'd have to ride by feel.  I went out pretty hard, and stayed in beast mode all through that ride.  I still notice just how slow I am on hills (where did my strong hills legs go?!), so I have an area to work on for next year.  Arlington hills, you are mine.  But on a flat, I'm pretty strong.  And in the head wind, I just hunch into my drops and settle in to suffer for a bit.  Head winds I can handle.  

I spent a fair amount of time passing, and a fair amount battling for space.  The one drawback was a few passes in the no-passing zone, and a few passes on my right.  There's rules for a reason, and if you were in a bind, and HAVE to pass on the right (I had to a few times, when there was a slow person hanging out in the left lane), but I hate being passed on the right when there's space on the left.  In particular was this one Rev3 girl on a tri bike who was NOT happy that I was passing her, and didn't want to give up the spot.  So she'd battle back and come up on my right.  Really, chickie.  You're on a tri bike.  I'm on a roadie.  I've passed you.  So drop back, regain some energy, and come back and pass me on the left like a good girl.  Give yourself a few minutes to recoup and you'll put time on me, but just this constant battling is sapping your energy- especially when I'm still in my saddle and you are standing.  I finally dropped her on the out and back because I was just a stronger rider.  But she came and caught me on the run.  Because that's just how it works. 

Over all: I had a 1: 21 on the bike (about 18 mph).  Not my fastest (which was 20mph on the same course 2 years ago), but not my slowest.  I did my best on that bike course though, and at least I didn't slack off for a minute.  


I had decided I would go all out on the course, just to see what I could do.  That being said, my run legs take forever to come in.  And after really going all out on the bike course, my legs were quite whiny.  But I battled through the initial pain and (yes), laziness.  I decided to cover up my watch and run by feel.  I'm debating if that was a good idea or not, because the mile markers were so clear, and I wonder if I had run by the watch, would I have felt that I could pep myself up any more?  

My run legs had settled by mile 2 and I settled into what felt like a hard pace.  Not as hard as I ran, say, Rolf Prima (on dirt) but harder than I ran this course a few years ago.  I was fretting about my shoes a bit.  I'd been lacing my ONs all summer, and switched to the speed laces the night before the race.  Yes, yes, yes, don't change things right before a race.  I know, I know.  I did it.  And I suffered for it.  The ON speed laces just don't give me the support I've come to expect from those shoes.  So I'll need to try different speed laces next time.  


I finished in 2:30:54.  Far from my fastest time (a 2:14 something a few years ago), it was also not my slowest times for those two events.  So I'm OK with it.  Considering how sick I was with e.Coli and how awful the nutritionist was and what a big set back the beginning of the summer was, I'm content with not-the-greatest, not-the-worst.  

My goal for next year: stay healthy, get stronger, and demolish this time for a PR.  

Races I'm considering:  we both want to do Eagleman (a half Iron) in Maryland, and I am interested in the Quassy Rev3 (why not a CT race where family can watch?), and M wants to do another couple obstacle course runs, which could be fabulous since I could have a goal to work on upper body strength for!  I was chatting with his best friend about wrist pain and pushups, so I think I have some ideas and it's high time I stop whining about upper body strength and regain some power.  

Nation's Tri Race Report: RACKING DAY

At last!  Yes, this report is a week overdue.  We had a bit of a situation here with a very sick kitty who finally ended up in the hospital, so I was spending my extra time researching "UTIs and cats" and getting a major little project done at work. 

ANYWAY, here is the race report! 

Nation's requires you to rack a day ahead of time.  This seems to be unusual for an Olympic distance Tri, but if you think about the logistics of coordinating over 5,000 bikes and body markings, it makes perfect sense.  Overall, this was perhaps the most stressful racking we have ever done!  (No fault of the race).  

We live a good hike from the main city- still technically on metro, but far enough out that we can't head in and go home and return in one day.  Once we go in, we are in until we go home.  That explains why we headed to brunch with my parents smushed into a Beetle, with two bikes on the roof.  Yes, my parents have a nice roomy Prius, but they lack a bike rack.  Seriously, after this weekend, I am considering buying a bike rack for guests.  Actually, I'm considering buying a rear-mount bike rack and installing a hitch on the Beetle, because the roof rack system has been seriously stressing me out in this land of parking garages.  

Brunch was at The Diner, a new discovery for me.  It has really creative options, a decent vegan menu, and is great about dairy allergies.  In fact, I plan to write to them to beg... BEG... them to create vegan biscuits and gravy.  I'm desperate for my favorite Eugene dish!  

Packet pickup and racking was much more traumatic.  What with one thing and another, we had a nice time at the expo, we bought The Stick for rolling out muscles (and it is working miracles on my tight back and hamstrings!), and we discovered a broken piece on M's bike that needed fixing.  

WHAT?  BROKEN?  NEEDS FIXING?  WATER BOTTLE CAGE?  WAUUUUGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!  The braze that holds the bolt that holds the screw that holds the water bottle cage on M's bike was stripped, and needed to come off.  M, about to do a 25 mile ride at speed, needed that bottle cage.  That explains our cross-town jaunt to our favorite bike shop for a quickie repair.  

After the repair, we scuttled back to the hotel to get on the bus for me to go to Capitol for my special prize... except M couldn't find parking!  He circled for over half an hour, and there were many phone calls.  You know M and I are very supportive of each other. which explains why those conversations, during which I was inside waiting for the bus and he was outside circling, went like this... "I CAN'T FIND PARKING!" "I CAN'T HELP YOU! JUST PARK!  PARK ANYWHERE!"  "I CAN'T! THE METER MAIDS ARE CIRCLING!"  "JUST PARK!  VALET IT!! PARK RIGHT NOW!! WE ARE GOING TO MISS THE GODDAMN BUS!"  "I CAN"T VALET! WE HAVE THE BIKES ON THE ROOF!"  "PUT THEM IN THE REAR!"  

The important take away message is that you CAN fit two full size bikes into the rear of a Beetle, and if your wife calls Uber while you deal with the valet, you will end up dropped off two blocks away from where the bus dropped off the rest of the prize-winners. 

All you will have to do is to sprint those extra blocks, in jeans, on a day when it's 102 and the humidity is about 1,000%, in under three minutes to JUST MAKE it to your tour in time to see the special tour of the Capitol. 

So worth it.  

After our Capitol tour, we got the car out of Valet, went over to the Mall, racked the bikes, and observed the beginnings of tiny little raindrops as we headed back towards the car. 

"I kinda feel like I should have put the trash bag over my bike after all..." I said to M, frustrated because I had left my trash bags in my car, after bringing them special so I could cover my precious, precious BMC.  

"Just forget it.  You're hungry. You need to eat, NOW!"  he snapped back.  Because, of course, after a frantic day of bike repairs, last-minute sprints, and valets, he was a shining ray of sunshine himself.  Plus, he had gotten to eat a Picky Bar, the Picky Bar I keep in MY purse at all times.  So he'd actually eaten.  

We were racked and ready for race day.  At least that was accomplished.  

By the time we got to Tysons Mall where we were picking up my parents, it was as if a black firehose from the heavens were pouring down upon us.  M dropped us off at the restuarant door, and we were still soaked by the time we got inside.  

"I sure hope they don't cancel the swim tomorrow", said I, "for I do so want to use my wetsuit that I rented to try this different style."  


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Race Day Nerves

So the race is about 72 hours away.  I'm guessing I'll be in the water by now on Sunday.

I'm having MAJOR race nerves.  First off, I have learned I've gone up a wave.  I was mentally prepared to be 30-34... but now I'm 35-39!  It's a different start!  A different cap color!  A different corral!

Lots of people assume this is about getting older.  It's really not.  I have a scary age at which I plan to start lying about my age, but so far, I'm aging fantastically well.  Just a few silver strands, and I'm waiting to see what they do before I do anything about them, and they are hard to see.  No major wrinkles, and all the lasting scars and injuries were honestly gained.  (You've heard my bike crash story, right?)  So it's really NOT about age.

It's about not being mentally prepared.

And I'm nervous.  Not about the race or completion- but about being slow.  I so wanted to get BETTER this season, and I'm afraid I'm holding at the same speed I raced at in year's past.

Swimming is a tough one.  I've gone from a high of 2:47/100 meters to a low of 1:57/100 meters, and I honestly don't know what I'm swimming at right now.  I think it's about 2:00/100 meters, but it's so hard to tell given that I didn't always get the best view of the timing clock.  I know that if I work hard, I've been able to catch M's feet, and I've been able to pass a few people in the slow lane.  But that's about the extent of my swim sense this year.  I do feel like a lot of things have come together, but I haven't RACED in a while.  Plus, I'm nervous about the 8-in time trial start.

Bike- well, you know I love my bike.  I know that I can finish this course in under 1:30, and usually closer to 1:15-1:20,  and I know that an Olympic distance course will take me about 1:30 if it's super hilly.  But my group bike rides were so HORRIBLE this summer.

Run- I'm scared that the run is the part I feel most confident with this year.  I'm loving my On shoes.  They are really comfy.  So I don't expect any pain.

Mostly, I'm worried that I'm going to let my nerves and mental preparation get the best of me, and that I'll blow up right when I need to deliver.

I have to let go of my hopes for a good finishing time, and focus on just finishing.  I have to let go of the anger and frustration at all the people who will pass me, because I have to do what I can do this year.

I really need to work to remember: those people who are passing me and finishing fast... they probably didn't have e.Coli last year, and they didn't have their internal organs poisoned by bacteria, and they didn't spend months on antibiotics, and they haven't spent the last six months slowly rebuilding their immune system and strength.

I also need to remember that the Idiot Nutritionist really put me into a bad situation.  I fired her about a month ago and started with a new coach.  With my current nutrition coach who I heart forever, I have actually dropped a few pounds, even without tracking obsessively, but I'm feeling strong and going much faster.  Carbs, my love, my carbs. She even gave me a great salad "recipe" that I can put together at a Whole Foods, so I am learning how to put together the right combo of food even on the go.  She's given me great, useful recipes, and I have an actual race day nutrition plan, so I don't need to worry about a blow-up bonk.  She's focused on whole foods, but she also has tons of experience with people with disordered eating.  So she's been helping me deactivate some of the triggers that Idiot Nutritionist reactivated.

Whew.  Time to go develop some positive mantras.