Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood.

I'm getting ready to go home for a couple days soon and I've been getting progressively more homesick. Some people think of food or family, I've been missing the ocean.
Today, the water gods repaid my loyalty to them by flooding my back yard.

In a couple weeks, I'm heading back to the beach to tour a sub and spend a couple days with the family- there was my birthday, Mother's Day, and Jopoppa's birthday so good timing all around.

I've been talking to a triathlete friend who's down there about meeting up while I'm home and he told me about his tri team. It pretty much embodies everything I miss about the beach, weekly Open Water Swims, biking flat safe roads, laid back beach atmosphere. I am really, really envious of that training group. The pictures of the ocean were enough to make me want to cry and call home. Don't get me wrong, DC Tri is great, but they are unquestionably focused on the elite athlete. Kind of like the difference between hashing and racing.
I'm not sure I could give up life in DC, but sometimes moving back is incredibly tempting, especially during the summer. No rowing to be had there, but the ocean ...

Since I've been kind of a sensitive royal PITA this week, I figured a night to myself was in order. If for no other reason than to spare everyone else my company when I'm this annoying. So I actually made it to church, and then to swim for the first time since the surgeries.

Swimming went surprisingly well. My goal was to make it through 500 yards no matter how ugly it was. I alternated 100 yards of freestyle with 100 yards of kickboarding and breathing drills. When I still felt out of sync, I went back to the old standby ... Kajagoogoo. I cannot explain why that works, it just does. The last 100 yeards I felt like I was swimming like I wanted to, if a little awkward. And I still am not an ambi-breather, but just being back in the water helped to center me a little.

This morning, I paid for that swim in spades. The shoulder is on fire, and icing not helping too much. We'll see what the PT has to say about it tomorrow.

Meanwhile, there's also a tri while I'm home. Registration is closed, and there's no way I could manage an ocean swim now anyways, but I might volunteer. If I have to be on the sidelines, I may as well be at the 50 yard line, right? And volunteering I will be a safe distance from the evil jellyfish.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Germantown 5 miler

I needed to run 5 miles this weekend for the marathon training. I figure if I'm going to run, it might as well be on a supported course. It was really tempting to sign up last minute for the Marine Corps Half, but I've been feeling like I might be cultivating a kidney stone so I followed the training plan.

The last 5 miler I ran was also in Maryland, but it was pretty painful since I ran it the day after I got cleared for activity and like 11 days after my second shoulder procedure.

I got lost getting to the race site since the directions were not quite accurate, thank you race directors. And since they chose to not list an accurate location my Yahoo Maps directions were no help. I got there just in time to get my chip and run.

It was a beautiful day if a little chilly. I was wearing my long sleeve UnderArmor t-shirt from the Philly half to remind myself why I was up and in Maryland on a Saturday morning. The juggling runner was there, saw my shirt and asked if I had seen him at Philly. I said yeah, and a few other races, and even juggling he's beaten me every time. Juggling runner said to just keep running, that's all that matters.

I might add that not only did this guy beat me, he ran the Marine Corps Half the next day. Also while juggling.

The course was rolling hills which weren't too bad. I think I'm getting some strength back since they're getting easier. Thank you trainer Blaine, I will continue to do the accursed walking lunges :P

I almost accidentally cut the course since they had us run around a parking lot and the marking wasn't very clear on where to go.

It was a small race, so the finish wasn't huge, but hey free bagel. One thing though, I had requested and paid for a performance shirt but they didn't have any at all, and the race director was nowhere to be found when I asked about it. I even checked my receipt when I got home, and I'm not crazy, I did pay for a tech shirt.
It was a nice way to spend a Saturday morning, but I'm not sure I'd do the race again.

When I got home I begged Louie the walker hound to let me sleep for a half an hour, then took him for a two mile walk after eating half of my free bagel.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Peppers weren't that hot, softballs aren't that soft ...

Louie is S's dog. He's some kind of hound and very sweet and cute. He doesn't generally bark, and is a little too smart for everyone's good. He knows what is most important to you/your favorite and will find a way to access said object/paperwork/shoe and chew on it thus showing you his displeasure at being left alone while you are out having all the fun at work.

My plan was to run with Louie as much as possible, both because it's sort of like a doggie treadmill what with him pulling me down the street/into the bushes/ towards every blonde girl in sight, and because I was hoping if I wore him out, he would be too tired to eat anything in the apartment.

So Thursday I took Louie dog for a 45 minute jog around the neighborhood then ran off to a fundraiser dinner at Los Tios for church. Veggie fajitas, how do I love thee. Then I fell prey to the classic "Hey this is awful, try it!". Generally speaking I like spicy food. Not so much spicy hot, but spicy flavorful. Jopoppa however, loves all things hot and spicy. We used to grow habaneros in the back yard, and then they were in everything we ate for months. Because 1. peppers are the cockroach of plants, they can survive a nuclear holocaust. and 2. while the birds loved the figs and plums they wouldn't even get near the habanero bushes. Jopoppa can't really smell or taste anything anymore ...

So I got roped into eating some mystery green chile suace. Actually kind of good on the taco chips. Two keys to eating hot foods: eat with bread or milk products, chase with citrus.

Then it was off to softball with the church league. I was really hoping the game would be called for rain since I was really tired and wanted to get home in time to watch LOST. One girl from the opposing team turned out went to VT with me, and we knew each other from some sorority thing. Truth be told, I seem to recall I might have beaten her at some lame pseudo-sports charity thing like joust at Gold Rush or something. Hopefully I was nice about it. She didn't seem scarred or nervous, so I guess so.

Anways, so petite blonde VT girl is covering second base. Our runner is trying to avoid the tag and slide into the base. Instead he full on tackles her face first into the dirt. Hilarious, since no one got hurt. And very, very awkward for them.

I hit a couple grounders, a decent hit which was unfortunately caught, and a pop-up which I thankfully remembered to just run this time. All in all 3 runs, about 12% of our total scoring. I'd really like to up that number to 20%, but I need to get to the batting cage.

On one of the hits, I had eventually made it to second, batter gets a hit and I'm running for third. This cute little blonde girl is throwing to the 6'2" husky third baseman and beams it and clocks him in the face/neck with it. I have no idea how that didn't either break his jaw or knock him out. That seriously looked painful.

In the end, they beat us 22-20, and it was the most fun I've had at a softball game ever. Glad it didn't get rained out after all even if I did miss LOST.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Paging Dr. Freud

I had my first triathlon dream in a long time last night. I think brought on by: too much pizza for lunch, Zyrtec, and resisting the urge to strangle my swim coach and a couple other tri-people.

Background: I had signed up for Columbia, then unexpectedly had another surgery. I was going to volunteer, but that process was even less well organized than the race.

The dream:
I'm at Columbia all sleek fitness and ready to go. First indication that this is a dream. Somehow I had already done the swim. Even sleeping I put off swimming. I'm biking and doing great when I almost fall, realizing I blew a tire. Not got a flat, but a full scale blow out like tractor trailers get. I pull over and someone who is apparently support crew for me helps me get my tire off but we can't fix it. The tire is all misshapen and not uniform, almost triangular. I know my race is screwed but I'm begging and arguing with the organizers to let me at least complete the run because either way I need the workout. I'm also trying to make sure that they mark me as DQ'ed so I don't ruin someone's chances of winning. Catholic guilt pervasive even in the subconscious. I'm off and running, and come back just in time to see my car towed. I'm chasing the tow truck and yelling when I "wake up" and realize that it's just a dream and that I'm taking a post-race nap and that I'm in my car. Some other random stuff involving eating dinner (again focused on food even sleeping) and then I really do wake up.

Seriously, if I'm going to dream about tri, why can't it be a good dream? Like I'm a pro triathlete who's won Kona and shagging a NHL player who has a PhD in astrophysics?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Brick nic

Saturday I volunteered at the Tri club brick-nic out at the Columbia course.

Brick: a workout combining two out of three successive events in a triathlon. The most common is a bike-run brick, although some (crazy) people practice aquabricks too. This involves a long bike ride followed by usually a shorter run. So named because your legs feel like bricks for the first couple miles you run.
Brick-nic: Brick workout followed by a picnic. Because you are a really cheap date once you've just biked and run 46 miles. And at that point you can pretty much eat anything you want.

I didn't go to anywhere nearly as exotic as Wildflower, but getting to Ellicott City was an adventure. Since I'm still broken, I signed up to watch gear at the Columbia brick-nic. I didn't realize I had also signed up to be Mom for a day. The signature Columbia Triathlon is held at Centennial Park, which is confusingly NOT in Columbia, but Ellicott City. The park was pretty busy with a fishing competition, some sort of pink laden festival, and a NAMI walk for mental illness. The walk ended up using the same path as the run for a while which sort of sucked for everyone involved. I'm sure the NAMI people were wondering if they were hallucinating or if they were being invaded by a bunch of spandex wearing aliens, and the triathletes couldn't fathom anyone else having the right to use the lake path. Kind of cross purposes for all involved. Hopefully the NAMI people are okay with us since we gave them millions of leftover cupcakes, donuts, etc.

On paper, I had signed up to watch over everyone's three thousand dollar bikes while they ran. I had thought I would study for the GRE while I was there but no such luck.

The GDP of a small country

It was 75 and sunny when I left Vienna. When I got to Centennial Park, it was maybe 50 degrees. Thank you Will for bringing coffee and being kind enough to share it with me. And yes, fellow mad scientist, I am drinking out of a periodic table of elements mug.

To become a volunteer saint you must perform three momacles. Since it was unexpectedly so cold, my first momacle was to procure clothes for everyone so they wouldn't freeze on the bike. This is why I keep so much stuff in my car. You never know when you'll need a trainer mat and a "What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?" sweatshirt.

My next momacle was to herd triathlete cats into putting their 3K bikes and their transition bags along the wall, not next to the bikes. Also, convincing everyone to check in and out with the other volunteers. I channeled Jopoppa on this one, "It's your body they'll find on the edge of the road ... Check in so we know if you died ..." I got a smart ass "Any more rules and regulations?" from one tri guy. "Yeah, you can call me ma'am."

Because I said so.

My third saintly momacle was to patch up a friend who lost an argument with his pedal leaving him looking like he'd tangled with a wolverine. Back to the mom-mobile for the first aid kit. Cleaned it out, put some neosporin on it, used about a million non-Hello Kitty bandaids. All while "Mr. Army I've been to Ranger school" flinched from the sight of his own blood. Someone asked how old my kids were. I do not have children, I only have adult roommates and triathletes and occasionally engineers.

My reward for achieving Tri canon status? Winning a Podium Quest hydration system which I tossed back into the volunteer reward ether since I don't have aerobars, and I'm sure someone else would give it the home it deserves.

Around 2pm, everyone had come back in and was eating so I took off for a jog around the lake. It had warmed up a LOT by then, and I spent most of the loop wondering why: 1. didn't I run when it was 50 degrees out, 2. why am I running a hilly course when my races are both pancake flat, 3. didn't I eat something besides a cup of coffee and a bowl of oatmeal all day?
But it was a beautiful day, and fun to explore a new place.

Later, after everything had been cleaned up, I suckered a friend into coming down from Baltimore and going paddleboating on the lake with me. K might be the only person I know who is more accident prone than I am. Somehow, he almost fell into the lake while getting into the moored paddleboat. It was a lot of fun and surprisingly tiring. Then, we took a walk around the lake, and checked out the cherrybration. We saw a living statue of Joan of Arc which I wish I had photographed, scored a free Ryka dry-tech t-shirt from the Iron Girl booth, and replacement bandaids from the Johns Hopkins booth. All in all a good day.

Finally I am not lost.

Penalty tent for drafters

One loop = one brownie

Hey baby, I'm a clydesdale

That's me in the middle.

Credit to Jeanne for the photos. See her blog for an amusing take on the participant's view.