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Me to Self: Good Job.

15 Jan

It’s been a while. I have SO MUCH to say that I have decided to say very little. Mostly because to attempt to catch this blog up on everything that’s happened in the last six months feels overwhelming and I’m attempting to stay only moderately whelmed these days. So for now, I’ll just say this.

I just realized that I’ve gotten into this weird habit of literally patting myself on the back after I accomplish something. Anything really. Small things like finishing a challenging workout or busting through a writing project in order to make a deadline or I don’t know, [insert small daily accomplishment here.] I don’t know when or why this started but it started and every time I do it I feel weird for a moment and then it passes and I actually feel good.

Perhaps this is like an affirmation. Just, a physical affirmation. Instead of staring at myself in the mirror and doing the whole, “You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, etc…” mumbo-jumbo, I’m doing it with a physical gesture of good will and encouragement.

That’s all for right now.

 

So Far So Good

6 Aug

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Today is the first day in a very long time (well, maybe not THAT long. Almost two months feels like a long time when you’re exhausted and miserable but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really a blink) I feel something like my normal, happy-go-lucky, energized self. I don’t feel 100% there yet but I’d put myself somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-80% and that’s not bad. Trying to be happy about all increments of change in a positive direction, even the mini ones.

I credit this good feeling to a couple of things. Here they are in no order whatsoever:

  1. I stopped falling asleep in front of the TV. In my normal life, I don’t have a TV in my bedroom. In my Steppenwolf life, I do. And at the start of the summer, I just wasn’t strong enough to turn the damned thing off before bed. In the last couple weeks, I’ve been really strict with myself. As soon as I feel like I’m drifting, I turn the TV off and go to damned sleep. I also have a cup of this “relaxing” tea that I bought in Chinatown two weeks ago and lemme tell you, that shit is the shit. Valerian root, baby. Stuff works. Ultimately, my quality of sleep has improved dramatically. I’m up fewer (or no) times in the night and therefore, I wake up feeling a little more energized.
  2. I started running again with regularity two weeks ago. The picture above was taken in my run along the lake. I made a new playlist a couple of days ago and named it “run for your life.” The longer I run, the more I believe that running will save you 95% of the times. That 5% is reserved for the times in your life when you’re injured or burned out. It doesn’t take very much either. I’ve been going out for anywhere from 40-50 minutes in low zones. Just to get myself moving and get that serotonin flowing through all those little channels in my brain.
  3. I got back into the hot room. Bikram has come to my rescue so many times in my life it’s right up there with running as a total soul-saver. And the lovely thing is that Bikram and running compliment each other perfectly. Bikram postures are specifically well suited for the kinds of overuse issues that all runners suffer from. And the detoxifying effects of 90 minutes of movement in 105 degrees can’t be exaggerated.
  4. I cut gluten out of my diet. I want to be clear that I’m not suggesting everyone cut gluten out of their diets. We’re all different and have different internal chemical scenarios and some people really have no issues with the stuff. But after being glutened TWICE this week at two different restaurants, I am almost certain that this pesky little protein is an issue for me. I’d been off the stuff for six weeks and both of the times I consumed glutenous substances (once at a Korean restaurant–it was own damned fault for thinking I could get away with a Korean rice bowl–and again at an Italian place WITH A GLUTEN FREE MENU) I was having dizzy spells within 20 minutes. After the dizziness came that lovely feeling of looking at the world from the inside of a mason jar. Three hours later, I had rocks in my gut. And twelve hours later I was constipated. So yeah, sensitive to gluten.
  5. I’ve cut down my non-fruit related sugar intake to almost nothing and cut my fruit intake down to one or two plums and a handful of berries throughout the day, but not before 11AM. I did this because my energy had been super super low about two and a half to three hours after waking and it was suggested that that was due to a drastic drop in blood sugar after breakfast. I realized that my morning breakfast bowl included apple sauce, maple syrup AND berries mixed into oatmeal. I hadn’t really thought about how much sugar that amounted to until I cut it out and noticed a marked change in how I felt by noon. Most notably, I wasn’t going down for a nap three hours after getting up. Anyway, it’s working for me. So now I start out the day with a green smoothie that has NO fruit in it. This has taken some getting used to, believe me. The smoothie is almost entirely supplements (1 scoop SuperFood; 1 tsp Maca powder; 1 capsule each ginseng, B complex, probiotic and multi-mineral; and 1 tsp complete omega oil) with one cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk and two ice cubes. Then about an hour later, I have a couple of eggs scrambled with kale and vegan cheese with a piece of GF toast.

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So now it’s 2:06PM central time and I’ve been able to run, do laundry, make myself breakfast and lunch (the above photographed gluten-free sweet potato gnocchi over sautéed kale, chicken sausage, shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes) and bake a batch of gluten-free chocolate chip cookies for our second tech this afternoon.

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I’m gonna post the recipe (adjusted from the original posted here on The Iron You–my new favorite triathlon blog). Originally, this recipe was vegan, gluten-free and Paleo. But I baked my first batch with no binder and the cookies were just too darn crumbly.

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So I added one egg to the remaining dough (sorry vegans but I didn’t have anything in the house to sub. If you want to make these, add the equivalent in egg substitute or chia goop) and they second batch is holding together better. I also cut the almond meal by half a cup and added 3/4 up of gluten-free all-purpose baking flour. You could certainly leave out the flour. I just don’t know what the hell holds these babies together if they’re all nuts and no binder.

These babies definitely hit the spot if you’re looking for a chocolate fix. There is minimal sugar in the recipe and they’re packed with good fats. Granted, this cookie is no substitute for a real Tollhouse but, as with most diet-adjusted baked goods, you gotta try to forget about the original and just take the new thing at face value. This cookie is not the cookie you grew up with. But guess what? You’re not ten years old anymore. Your body has changed and maybe you shouldn’t be eating cookies like you used to. Just saying.

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Gluten Free Chocolate Almond Drop Cookies
(makes 3 dozen small cookies)

3/4 cups almond meal
3/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose flour mix
¼ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon gluten-free baking powder
½  cup coconut oil, melted
2 Tbsp sunflower seed butter
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 large egg
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
¾ chopped almonds

Preheat oven at 350°F and place a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl, combine the almond meal, flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine coconut oil, maple syrup, sunflower seed butter and egg until well mixed. Add flour and stir until a soft dough forms. Add chocolate chips and nuts and stir to mix well.

Drop the dough by spoon onto the prepared cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for another 15 minutes. Move to a cookie rack and cool completely.

Oh and just a little note: the black sprinkles on these cookies are actually Hawaiian black lava salt. I picked some up last week and I’m obsessed with the stuff. If you don’t have any (and why would you) don’t worry about it. You can throw a little bit of regular ol’ coarse sea salt onto these cookies and it really works. But if you don’t like your sweets a little salty, then by all means, abstain from the sprinkling.

Whence Comes the Energy Redux

24 Jul

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That is a picture of Lake Michigan, taken during my run this morning. My first solo run since the first week of July. And it’s hard for me to even count that early July run as an actual run because it was too short and I had to stop every block for traffic and I felt like crap and it was raining, etc… Honestly, I haven’t been running for almost six weeks now. The last time I logged anything into Training Peaks was, I think, the first week of June. Sorry, Coach.

I went out on Sunday with a friend who is, like me, just getting back into the swing of things after taking some time off. He ran a 200 mile Ragnar last month and needed some time to get his legs and mind back. He was the perfect person to go out with for an easy trot. He’s an obviously experienced runner, born of a family chock-full of running phenoms (his uncle held a world record for the fastest 10k run by, like, an 8-year-old boy or some such craziness) and I could tell that on any other day, if we were both in peak condition, he’d have made me work. Hard. But it wasn’t any other day. It was Sunday. After a long rest period. And we were both happy with an easy, conversational pace and a pleasant 40 minutes along the lakefront.

I had no plans to run this morning but the minute I woke up, I felt the urge. And not only the urge, but also the ability. As in: I felt like I had the power to get up, get dressed and go for a run. The flesh was willing and the mind was strong. Anyone who has ever been active for any length of time knows that it’s a boon when the body and mind are in sync. It doesn’t always happen. Sometimes your mind is OK but you’re body is wiped. Sometimes your body is fine but your mind is like, “Fuck you. It’s 5AM and it’s raining. We are staying in bed.” In either of these instances, it’s normally possible for one to override the other and you get up and you get out and you do your thing.

But when both mind and body go AWOL, it’s really hard to motivate. This has happened to me before. Actually it happens more regularly than I think I’ve ever been willing to admit. And most of the time, I muscle through. Why? Because…

Because?

Because I fear what will happen if I don’t. Which is what? Probably nothing. Nobody has money riding on whether or not I’m going to place at the next sprint tri on Key Biscayne. I muscle through because I fear what others will think of me if I don’t. Maybe people will think I’m weak. Maybe people will think I’m lazy. Maybe people will think I’m not a good athlete. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

Who Gives a Fuck?

Obviously I do. Or I have. In the (not so distant) past. So for the last month, I’ve been trying to worry less about what my not-training “means” to other people (and I’ve been through enough therapy to know that, at the end of the day, it means NOTHING to other people) and more about what I can do to feel better. So I went to see this acupuncturist/chiropractor/herbal doctor and settled on a plan to eat clean, take a boat-load of supplements, sleep when my body was telling me to sleep, and focus on being a playwright. So far so good. Ish.

When I woke up this morning and felt the desire to run, I couldn’t fight it. I’ve been listening to my body about other shit, so why not listen to it when it asked me to move? I wanted to run. And that made me happy. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten out of the house so quickly. I was up and out the door in about seven minutes. Just enough time to pee, dress, strap on my Garmin and go. I ran pretty much the same route my friend and I had run on Sunday. Down towards the lake and then along the lakefront and then back. Right around 4 miles. And that felt fine.

For the last, oh, two years, every time I’ve gone out for a run, I’ve had some kind of time and/or pace goal in mind. 10 minute warmup then 1 mile build to lowest point of zone 5, then 1.5 miles all out, then cool down to zone 2. Or 30min at 10K pace + 15 seconds. Or 90 minutes in HR Z1-2 NO ZONE 3! This morning, my goal was to go out and enjoy running. Funny how goals change.

But now I’m on the couch, under a blanket, with my laptop on my legs, writing this blog post, feeling my eyelids getting heavy. I had a smoothie immediately after the run that included frozen berries, almond milk, 1 tsp maca powder, 1 tsp Omega oil, one B complex, 2 multi-minerals, 1 probiotic and a scoop of Perfect Food.  Then I had a cup of mate and two gluten free waffles with sunflower butter. So…where’s the energy?

Why do I want to take a nap at 11:42 in the morning? What am I not doing right? Is this STILL caffeine withdrawal? Should I have ignored my body this morning when it begged me to get out on the road? Did I really so exhaust myself over the course of the last six months that it’s going to take another six months to get my energy levels back up to what they were? And really, what were they? Have I ever really had any sustained energy? Or have I just been faking it? The truth is, I have been tired for the last ten years. But how is it possible that I’ve been training and competing in amateur sports that whole time? Why do I feel alternately great and crappy? Energized and fatigued? Calm and anxious?

These are the questions I’ve got rolling around in my brain right now. They’re sharing space with the questions I’ve got about Oedipus and narcissists and the drama of family dynamics and how to be an adult relating to other adults. And I have to work very hard to make sure that the questions I’m asking about my health don’t completely take over that space; overpower the questions I have to be asking about my work and my writing and my personal life. But this is tricky because those questions all probably, in one way or another, point to the same answer.

I know it’s not just about coffee and it’s not just about gluten or dairy. It’s not just about booze or casein or yeast. It’s not just about migraines and balance issues and yo-yo dieting. It’s not just about hay fever or eating too much soy. It’s not about pestides and GMOs and soil depletion and how none of our food has any nutritional value anymore. Well, maybe it’s a little about all of that. Honestly though, I think it’s far more likely that this is about me, and so many other young American women, fighting to hit one or two or twenty unattainable goals and making ourselves sick in the process.

Playing Catch-up with Baked Goods

21 Jul

I have neglected my posting obligations. Sorry. But it’s been a wild couple of months. There is a much longer post kicking around in here somewhere but it’s so long and unwieldy that I’m going to need to sit with it and then edit it and then sit with it some more before I send it out into the ether. For now, just know this: I’ve spent July thus far withdrawing from coffee (again), gluten (seriously for the first time) and dairy.

After falling off the coffee-sugar-fat wagon back in March, my headaches were starting to get bad again and then in May, I did this fairly long race, and didn’t take any time off afterwards. The spring was super busy and physically strenuous and I totally neglected my nutrition and rest needs. So then I got to the middle of June and all the sudden my body went from just a little tired to pretty much ass out.

Along with the fatigue came that sense of overwhelming dread and dis-ease that has come upon me now three times in the last five years. One fay I feel fine and then the next day I don’t. I’m not sure how to describe exactly what happens without sounding insane and I feel like those details warrant a completely separate post. After all, this post was supposed to be a quick “hi, how are you and here’s a recipe for gluten free chocolate chip cookie bars.”

Suffice to say, these “spells” as I’ve started referring to them, are the reason I started doing Bikram yoga back in 2008; why I went through all that vertigo testing last year; why I ended up with the migraine diagnosis; why I stopped drinking coffee and started drinking green smoothies. So I’m trying to look at all of this as a good thing because every time I feel this way, I’m forced to do some detective work and then ultimately, I learn something about how I’m living my life.

But after last year I really thought I’d never feel this way again. And the spring, while super busy and physically strenuous, was also frigging’ awesome. So when I got hit by the brick that is this nebulous state of unwell, with the dizziness and the fatigue and the anxiety and brain fog and the feeling like I’m drunk even though I haven’t downed a drop of booze and the fear of doing things (like running) that I love because I’m worried something “bad” will happen if I do, I got super bummed. Especially because this moment is not the moment during which I want to feel crappy. This is a moment during which I want to feel at the top of my game.

I am also in a strange city, where I know few people and can’t do what I always do: run to my doctor. In a way, this has been a blessing because it’s forced me to deal with what’s going on in a new way. Because, I don’t know if you know this but when you run to your primary care with complaints of “fatigue, dizziness, anxiety and a drunk feeling,” they tend to want to do one of two things: 1) prescribe an anti-depressant or 2) prescribe an anti-histamine. And even when I got to the ENT last year and went through all those tests, the primary option presented to me after the diagnosis was to take a pill twice a day every day indefinitely and when I said I didn’t want to do that, I was accused of being “medicine-phobic” by the specialist who was supposedly there to make me feel better.

So I took the “change your diet” option and I stopped drinking coffee and booze and I stopped eating cheese and I started eating only good things: mostly vegetables and almost all things I made from scratch in my own home. And it helped. In a couple of months, the symptoms were gone and I wasn’t thinking about ever having felt the way I felt. And I trained for a half-Iron and other races and went to Colorado and came back to Miami and worked and trained and had a kick-ass end of the season and the holidays hit and I gained eight pounds because I was drinking and eating crap for an entire month.

But I didn’t care about the weight because I knew I could just pop myself on another calorie restricted diet and lose it in no time. So that’s what I did January and February. I dropped those eight pounds easy living on boiled chicken. Then professionally things started going REALLY well and I was traveling a lot and then I met this guy and doing the things you do when you start dating someone (of course, I mean drinking and eating to excess) but it was OK because I was training for Haines City so I was pretty sure I wasn’t gaining any weight and that’s all that mattered, not the fact that I was consuming all the things that tend to make me feel like shit and I’m rambling. Here’s the bottom line:

THIS IS HOW I’VE BEEN LIVING MY LIFE SINCE 2005.

Eat everything in sight. Starvation diet. Eat everything in sight. Starvation diet.  Don’t drink any booze. Drink all the booze. Don’t drink any coffee. Drink 8 cups of coffee a day.

Over and over and over again and even when I feel “fine,” I don’t actually feel fine because I’ve been complaining about a chronic fatigue for the last decade. The people who know me will tell you that I’m always out there doing stuff and that I have a tendency to exhaust myself, not take breaks, never take vacations and pick sports that require a shit ton of self-punishment and then constantly complain about being tired.

This post is getting too long and too involved. Here’s the end for now: I found an acupuncturist out here who is awesome. I’ll save the treatment plan he’s devised for me for another post but I will tell you that one of the first things he said to me when we started talking was, “How we feel is 90% diet and 10% everything else and it’s important that that diet be moderate and balanced because if it’s not, your poop suffers and your sleep suffers. And if you’re not pooping and you’re not sleeping, then you’re fucked.” That’s a paraphrase.

I’ve always considered myself a healthy person but when I got into a real analysis of my diet and my lifestyle with this guy, it hit me that the last year has been anything but balanced and this last year is really no different from the year that came before it and the year that came before that one. You see where I’m going with this? Well, if you do, will you please leave a comment below? Because sometimes it sounds like I know what I’m talking about, but I really have no Godly idea.

In the meantime:

Gluten Free/Dairy Free/Refined Sugar Free Chocolate Oat Bars

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1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter (or any other nut butter you like)
1/2 cup raw honey (or agave for all you vegans out there)
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg (or one egg’s worth of egg replacer for all you vegans out there)
2-4 Tbsp of almond milk
2 cups gluten free oat flour
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 cup dairy free chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 and grease an 8×8 baking pan. Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a mixing bowl, cream together the oil, nut butter, honey, and maple syrup. Add egg and mix well. Alternately add the dry mixture and the almond milk to the wet ingredients until well combined . Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely before cutting into squares. These are a very crumbly cookie and are better if you let them sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

 

Some News is Good News

25 Apr

I haven’t posted in a while, I know. It’s been a zany few weeks since Nautica with lots of traveling and training and work-related nonsense. Not to mention the whole world exploding thing. I have so much more to say about Boston but I don’t know that my thoughts will really add anything to the conversation that’s already happened and is continuing to happen. Suffice to say, like all endurance athletes, the whole thing made me very mad. Like all feeling human beings, the whole thing made me very sad. And then that fertilizer plant exploded and I was just confused.

But in the midst of all the anger, sadness and confusion, there’s also been a great deal of joy, excitement and elation in my world. For all if it, I feel insanely lucky and I thank whatever forces in the universe have conspired to make this such a great year for me thus far. First there’s this:

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BUENA VISTA is the first play I wrote when I moved down to Miami and it came after a particularly painful experience that only now, three years after the fact, makes any sense to me in the grand scheme of things. This production means a lot because I remember quite vividly putting my pen down after writing the words “Black Out. End of Play,” (and yes, I write my first drafts long hand) and thinking, “This is a play for Steppenwolf.” And I was right so that’s cool. Should anyone who follows this blog find themselves kicking around Chicago in August, please come check it out.

Additionally, the U has commissioned another Greek adaptation so I get to work on that all summer. This time around I’ll be tackling the entire Oedipus myth, which is exciting beyond belief and only mildly daunting. I don’t write a lot on this blog about my playwriting life because it always seems a little off topic but this stuff is too good not to share and really my playwriting life is, like, well, my LIFE. Triathlon feels at times like it’s taken over a little bit, especially this season, but at the end of the day, the writing comes first. Which is a perfect segue to the next cool thing that happened. This:

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I qualified for Age Group Nationals! This has been on my “make it happen” list since I learned that this race is  an actual thing. So like, for well over a year now, I’ve been not-so-secretly harboring the fantasy goal of qualifying. And I did. Because of Nautica. So I’m psyched. Unfortunately, I can’t compete.  Fail. And even more unfortunately, I can’t compete but I’ll be in Chicago when it’s happening and Chicago is like an hour and a half from Milwaukee! So close! And yet so far. That weekend is a big couple of days at the theatre and I can’t miss them. So I’ll just have to qualify again next year. Considering the fact that I’m planning to WIN my age group at Nautica next year, this should be doable.

Other great things are happening but they’re things I don’t feel like sharing here. Some stuff is still sacred. Say that five times fast. Today is the last day of classes for the semester so summer is upon me and this will be the first in five years that I don’t spend in Colorado. I’m sad about this but also feel a little relieved. Last summer felt like the last summer for a lot of us while we were living it. It’s time to move on. Every time I think about where I am though and how I got here, when I track it back, everything leads me to Steamboat. And I’m certain at some point that I’ll be led back there.

I kinda can’t believe I’ve been in Miami for three years already. I’m going to be totally cliche and say that time feels like it’s absolutely flown. But when I look at those three years and all that’s happened, everything that I’ve accomplished, all the friends I’ve made and fun I’ve had, all the work I’ve done at the U, all the students I’ve known, all the pages I’ve written and the miles I’ve swum, biked and run, it feels like a mini-lifetime. Here’s to a few more.

Race Report: Nautica Classic, SoBe, April 7th, 2013

9 Apr

 

 

 

 

The Nautica South Beach Triathlon was yesterday! Look at glamorous Ocean Drive all lit up and glamorous looking at 5:30 in the AM on a Sunday, when most people on SoBe are just getting out of the bars and stumbling into cabs and heading home to fall into bed until 2 in the afternoon. Not us triathletes! We were just getting started. Jacked up on caffeine and pre-race nerves.

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A small bit of the Nautica transition area on Sunday April 7th, 2013. Way too early in the AM.

Nautica is a big team race for Alien Endurance. This year we had over 60 athletes competing, some of them for the very first time. It’s a big race with a good pro showing and amateur athletes coming from all over the place.

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Our Nautica 2013 class picture!

The temps started in the high 60s and got up into the low 80s by race-end. Few clouds, blue skies, very little wind. On the whole, favorable race day conditions. There was some chop on the water and some decent sized rollers to contend with on the way out. But the current was actually in our favor, I think, and the water was blue blue blue!

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Not the crystal clear blue lagoon-flat super swim of last year but still pretty nice.

My original goal had been to finish in sub-2 (last year’s time was 2:04:57) and eek my way into the top 10 of my age group. Then the commander threw down the gauntlet last week and challenged me to a bet. He set a goal time and if I beat it, he’d owe the team breakfast during one of our M/W weight training sessions. If I lost the bet, I would provide homemade donuts. I’ve always wanted to make donuts so this seemed a win-win for me. Still, my pride was on the line.

The damned goal time was uber-agressive. 1:49 on the nose. His splits for me: 18 min swim, 2 min T1, 58 bike, 2 min T2, 29 min run. For the first time ever, I felt confident with the swim estimate. The bike, I thought, was iffy and I was actually pretty nervous about hitting that run in under 30. But I was like, “Shit, if he really thinks this is possible, then maybe I set my goals too low originally.”

I had a couple days to obsess over this before the race so I took the opportunity to scrutinize recent time trials and race finishes. It started to look possible but off by about two minutes, which is actually quite a bit. But I decided to commit to the time and start visualizing. So on all my runs (because I can’t visualize shit in the pool and visualizing during a bike is dangerous) I pictured myself crossing the finish line not just in the time allotted, but crossing as a winner.

And then I did a stupid thing the day before the race and I looked at last year’s results in my new age group. Based on those times, I knew that if I hit the goal, I actually would place. This seemed absurd to me. Nautica is a huge race and the field is competitive and people come from everywhere to do it and who the hell was I to think I could get my ass on the podium?

All of this thinking started making me very nervous. Suddenly there were stakes. Last year, there were stakes but they were basically about not drowning on the swim. Somehow, the thought of performing badly now trumps the fear of drowning. Shows you where my priorities are. At any rate, last year I had no base-line. Any finish was a PR. This year, I actually had something to prove; a time to beat; and a bet to win.

My way of dealing with nerves is to get very quite and go inside myself. I think I was a bitch before the race yesterday morning and if you and I crossed paths and I was anything but gracious and pleasant to you, I apologize. I am on a big team and we were all racked together and everyone was chatting but I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to answer anyone’s questions. I just wanted to be alone. When I was nervous before a fight (which was ALWAYS), I would shadow box and listen to music. Now, before races, I’ve learned that pacing transition and listening to music helps. So I put on my headphones and walked the path from swim out to bike out, mentally marking my racking area so I’d be sure not to miss it during T1.  I drank some water and then we took some team photos and then it was time to leave transition and head to the beach.

I confided to one of my closest friends on the team that I felt like I was being a bitch because I didn’t want to talk to anyone and she said she understood. “What are you going to talk about?” She asked. “What nice swim cap colors they gave us? Do your thing. Get into your zone.” See below, how everyone else looks happy and carefree and I look like I’m about to kill someone?

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After this picture, I decided that I should relax a little and smile and realize that I’d been training for this and that training is part of it and I love training and I love racing and I’m very lucky to be out here on this beautiful day doing this thing that I love with both arms and both legs and all these great people and I just needed to stop taking myself so seriously and yada yada yada.

OK. Then I got into the water and splashed around for a little bit. By then, the early waves were going off and before long it was my turn to line up with the other gold caps.

The swim felt great. I can’t believe I just wrote that.  Getting out to the first buoy was a little challenging but it’s always a little challenging so this didn’t feel any different. I’ve come to realize that there’s something about the frenzy of the swim start that I absolutely adore. The chaos of it all gets me really jazzed. Instead of going into flight mode, I go into fight mode and now that I can actually swim, I love jumping into the washing machine and then getting out of it quickly while everyone else is flailing around.

Edith Swim End

I sighted a lot yesterday and was really happy to discover that I was always on course. Also, for the first time ever, I was passing swim caps from the waves that had gone off before me. Sweet.

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I swallowed a lot of water on this swim because I’m still not breathing bilaterally but I made it in almost EXACTLY 18 minutes. 18:17 to be exact.

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Strippin’!

Edith swim out 3

As transitions runs go, Nautica’s is long and mostly through sand. Then, because of my racking position, I had to make it through pretty much the entire transition area before I hit my bike and, even though I’d spent ten minutes before the race marking my spot, I still managed to miss it by one row. I wasted about 15 seconds in T1 and that sucked. Lucky for me, one of my teammates was right there and we were racked right next to each other so she did me a solid and got me on track. After that, it was smooth sailing out onto the bike course.

The bike course takes you out over the McArthur causeway, into and north through downtown, over the Julia Tuttle and then back. There are a few climbs (by Miami standards, anyway) but that means there are also some swift downhills. I cranked it on the way up and I cranked it on the way down. Because I knew I could. It was awesome. At one point, with the wind behind me on a downhill, I went into aero and clocked over 30mph. I used as much of that momentum as possible and managed to cruise 26mph on a flat for a couple of miles. At the turnaround, I checked my time and knew I was on track to finish in 58 minutes. But I told myself to stay in the moment and do what I was doing without thinking too far ahead. Based on the conditions going out, I was pretty sure I’d hit some wind on the way back so I was trying not to get too excited about my pace.

There was another girl in my AG who I kept trading places with on the bike. She was awesome. We threw a couple words of encouragement at each other.  At one point, she was right in front of me and I saw her rubbing her calf so I thought she was cramping and I might be able to overtake her. I passed and she yelled, “Go get those boys!” I said I would. Then a minute later, she was passing me again. “You can draft off me,” she screamed. “I won’t tell anyone.” We were right on top of each other for a few miles but she dropped me going back over the McArthur. I kept her in my sights for a while but eventually lost her going into a headwind. I figured she was maybe a minute or so ahead of me and thought I’d be able to make up on the run if her legs were as tired as they looked. I never saw her again but I thank her for the push. I finished the bike in 56:39. 1 minute, 21 seconds under my goal and with a super PR for that course.

T2 was uneventful. I got into my shoes, grabbed my race belt, threw on my cap and sped off. I’d taken about 210 calories on the bike (3 scoops of Ironman Perform in my water–no more gels on the bike, just liquid) the majority of which I’d consumed during the first 2/3 of the ride. I was ready for more carbs as soon as I hit my feet so I dropped one caffeinated Powerbar chocolate gel immediately and then took in a couple ounces of plain water at the first aid station.

As soon as I got out of transition, one of my teammates who wasn’t racing was there screaming at me to go faster. “Faster Edith, run faster! Let’s get on the podium! Come on, you can do better than that.” And while I appreciated her words of encouragement, there were sort of ill timed. Like, maybe scream that at me on mile 3 when I need a push or in the homestretch. Not right after I’ve dismounted and am trying to get my legs back.

And of course she had to use that word. Podium. I didn’t want to think “podium.” I wanted to think “time.” Just get in under the allotted time, Edith, and the rest is gravy.” But right off the bat, I was feeling like the run wasn’t going to happen. To make 29 minutes, I was going to have to hit a 7:15 average, which is my best 5K pace and this run is 4 miles, not 3.1. I started off at 7:30 with very tired legs. My breathing was labored too so I kicked into some 3-2 rhythmic breathing (I’ve been working on this during training and it’s amazingly helpful) until I got my legs back and then I just let my breath happen the way it happens.

Still though, this run felt hard. In fact, the last two tri runs have felt hard. I can only attribute that to the fact I’m now pushing harder on both the swim and the bike.I’m making bigger gains in the first two legs, but I haven’t yet figured out to put together the full race given the new efforts. I had a feeling this was going to happen this season and my runs are still faster so it’s all good. Just something else to work on. At any rate, yeah, the run was a challenge. I was a little crampy on my right side and I couldn’t quite shake the leg fatigue. I had my best mile between 2 and 3, when the caffeine in the gel started to kick in and I actually got a surge of runners high. My time dipped down to 7:08 for a bit and I got hopeful. I passed some lady who called out, “Great pace, girl! GREAT PACE!” And then some spectator yelled my number and said I was looking awesome. I felt like if I could hold onto the surge, I might be able to dip down to 7:00 and come in just under the wire. But it was not to be. My run time, when all was said and done, was 30:46. Almost a full two minutes over the goal. Oh well.

I crossed the finish line feeling victorious but spent (the way it should be) and looked down at my Garmin. My heart sank. 1:50:07. The official time was 1:50:04 but still. 1 minute and 4 seconds off the damned goal. I owed donuts. There was no wiggle room.

Edith Hans middle finger

Me giving the coach the finger for setting a ridiculous goal time. In good spirits, of course.

It took the officials like AN HOUR to post the women’s classic results. And, of course, until they did I was doing my normal, “I know I should be happy about this and yet I’m not” routine. At that point, I knew that I’d shaved 15 minutes off my time from last year and had killed the bike but I still felt like I’d fallen short. I was desperately trying not to wear that feeling on my face as my teammates were finishing and all-smiles and congratulating each other and asking how the race went, etc…  Some of my people were racing for the first time or racing Nautica for the first time and I am tired of being the asshole who’s only thinking of herself after a race. I did my best but change is difficult. Baby steps.

post race happy team

Here’s one where we all look pretty happy. Kristin, the gal in pink, had the 2nd fastest overall women’s swim time!

I wasn’t the only one who was anxious for results. We were all milling around the board for a while. The organizers had tried to do right by mounting several Ipads in the sand so folks could search themselves but apparently, someone hacked the event wifi and that screwed everything up. After what felt like an eternity, we finally managed to get online and get our splits. And that’s when I stopped complaining.

I placed. At Nautica. I placed third AG.

edith medal body

My bronze medal!

Edith victory 1

On the podium at Nautica!

So now I’m over the moon, right? Because last year I was 16th in my age group and this year I’m third and I totally surpassed my top 10 goal. Also, I have no idea what my overall women’s placement was in 2012, but in 2013 I was 11th. I’m sad that I missed out on top-10 overall by a matter of seconds but I’ll take 11th in that field of super strong ladies! In terms of the overall race, I was 136th this year out of approximately 2600 finishers. Last year I think I was 535th. So I’m moving on up. And actually, moving on up quickly.

Because it turns out that I wasn’t 3rd: I was 2nd! The results were wrong when they first posted. The woman who was listed as 1st had no bike or T2 split and I had beaten both her her swim and run times by a wide margin. By Monday morning she’d dropped off the leader board and I was in 2nd place.

I was happy with third. I’m even happier with 2nd. 😉

Coach Frank made me this because he is awesome and I was bummed about the missed photo op.

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Of course I’ve still found a way to be disappointed in my time. Why not, right? If I’d come in as anticipated, I’d have won the fucker. If, if, if. All I can do now is savor the moment for another few and then keep pushing on towards Haines City on May 19th. That will be a very different race with very different goals but I’m psyched for my 2nd 70.3. Life is sweet right now.

class picture 2

The team again, getting loose way too early in the morning.

I continue to find irony in the fact that I have always preferred individual sports to team sports and yet, I choose to participate in solo sports with a team behind me. When I boxed, I had the girls of Team Freeform and the amazing Lee Shabaka pushing me through walls that I didn’t even know existed. Now I have all these fantastic Aliens and rock-star Coach Andy Clark helping me to realize what it possible out there on the course. Sure, I was alone out there repeating phrases like, “You want this bad, you want this bad,” and “you’re a champion, you’re a champion” and my ultimate favorite, “No excuses, no regrets,” but every time I saw an Alien uniform along the way, I pushed harder.

Even during those moments when we want to be alone, we are comfortable in our solitude because we know, on some level, that it will come to and end. Then we will return to our people and be embraced.

Edith Ale hug

Getting a big hug from Coach Ale, who I’ve been trying to catch up to for over a year now.

To everyone who raced Sunday, congrats on a fantastic swim, bike, run. Now, what’s next?

Photos Courtesy of Andy Clark

Easy as Pie. Sort of. Not Really.

27 Mar

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The pie chart above represents my workouts for TODAY.

Not for the last week or the last couple of days. TODAY. In a single day I did 30 minutes of strength training, went for an 18 minute open water swim, biked 2:12 hrs (including one hour that was just going back and forth over a bridge several times), and finished it all off with a 43 minute run.

I really can’t believe that anyone ever trains for a full Ironman because this is what training for a half is like. I also really don’t understand how anyone does this while working a 9-5 job. And I have the utmost, UTMOST respect for anyone who tackles this kind of endeavor while raising kids. Holy hell. I am so freaking lucky. And it’s kinda nuts that it takes a day like today to make me realize that.

Some of you out there are probably thinking that all of this makes me the opposite of lucky. “Four hours of training,” you exclaim to yourself. “That bitch isn’t lucky, she’s DUMB. Or at the very least insane.” And you may well be right on both counts. But I’m still grateful. And maybe it’s the overwhelming surge of endorphins rushing through my body right now but I just have to say thanks to the universe. Not only do I have the arms and legs and organs and overal health that makes it possible to even consider doing something like this, but I also have a great job and my independence and a team of training partners who push me and make me want to get out there and push myself. I also have friends and family who think that this is even moderately cool for me to be doing it.

I also have great weather. I mean, really? REALLY, FLORIDA? Really? Today? The weather today? Did that actually happen? Was it actually 45 degrees with no humidity this morning and then 70 degrees with no humidity and cloudless skies and like, zero wind when we were out on KB this afternoon? Was the water actually that blue? That clear? That flat? Really?

I don’t know what’s happening to me. I’m a little concerned about how I’m going to feel in 90 minutes. When whatever this is wears off and I go back to being grumpy or I just fall out on the couch in front of whatever shlock reality TV show is clogging up the airwaves tonight or my heart explodes or I have to eat two sweet potatoes. That last part would actually be pretty nice. And there are two in the oven right now so it could happen.

I don’t know how to end this post. I wish I could end it with pie. Sweet potato pie. I could. Hmmmm.

I won’t. I’ve seriously eaten so much sugar today it’s a little obscene.

OK. I’m going to go take a shower. And a breath.