Tuesday, February 27, 2007
But here's a funny story to leave you with -
So I am driving down I88 to Aurora today (round trip from home is over 100 miles - awesome). And I88 is like the Indy 500, but with a lot more soccer moms in big-ass Suburbans (how fitting) and corporate male imbeciles with slicked back hair in suits and on the their way to a "client meeting" that blow past you in their Audi's if you are going slower than 90, and then turn to look at you as if to say, "You deserve to be sentenced to some Autobahn hell" and you look back, wanting to scream, "Yeah, well I'm a doctor!" and pray that you make it to your destination going 65 in the far right lane for fear your tiny will car will explode if you go any faster. Assholes.
Anyhoo. So this particular moment, I actually had to pass someone, so I quickly switched to the middle lane. And it was right at that moment that my car decided to SHUT OFF. Seriously. The car actually shut itself off. Like it was Kit from Knight Rider. There was this jerky movement - then it slowed and just started to roll. In the middle of traffic. On a major toll road. By the time I figured out what was going on, I was basically just rolling down the lane while these cars are literally zipping by my head like bullets.
I managed to think quick (saved only for emergency) and jumped a lane to get to the shoulder, where I turned the key to manually shut the car off (as it clearly no longer needed me to be driving it and - god forbid - making decisions about it's actions) and waited. I got really nervous, and started to rub the dashboard, cooing sweet-nothings with promises of regular washes and premium fuel if she would just this once - just once - kick back in.
And then my thoughts were in this order - "Oh F-it! Now I'm going to be late...Of course, my car is now officially 15 miles over the 100,000 mile marker when the warranty runs out....Crap that semi is going to suck me under - Geesh!!!!!!...Yeah, 'eff you right back Mister Audi - my idling shoulder-bound car is of no consequence on your lateness - try waking up earlier next time and by the way, 1985 called and it wants it's crappy hair gel back." Gross. And all that within about three seconds, after which I decided to turn the car on.
To my surprise it started. And I made it to work on time (although I then proceeded to get my self lost and ended up two towns over, but no worries). And then I also made it home without incident. So alls well that ends well. Or whatever.
So until Thursday, I'll leave you with the image of me helpless in the middle lane of a major toll road with the traffic roaring by, and my car shutting itself off. Woa is me.
And just wait - WAIT - till you hear about my new toothbrush. It's magical. Just wait.
Monday, February 26, 2007
I love, love, love my new job, but commuting between training obligations all around the northern part of the state is T.O.U.G.H. But scheduling the training, an out-of-towner this weekend and a mid-week sleepover (at a friend's house to help with the commute) is sort of a little a fun little game. There's nothing I love more than a To-Do list organized by 15-minute increments. Oddly intoxicating.
But I really do love the job. Awesome.
Saturday, February 24, 2007
When I went to my first meeting, I was determined to figure out how to help the alcoholic in my life. Very quickly, however, I realized that the program was about helping myself, changing my behaviors and creating some spirituality in my life to help sort out years of my own insanity.
It may come as no surprise to some of you, but I am a bit crazy. See, I have this thing where I truly believe that if people should just listen to me because I have all the answers. And when people don't listen to me, or I can't change them or their thinking, I go to the "crazy place" myself, forcing solutions to situations that I can't control. And while the first step is admitting we are powerless over alcohol and the alcoholic, I could really apply that to almost all aspects of my life. I want(ed) to know all, and be all. Ask my family - this is the Megan that drove them crazy all these years. I had the answers to all the problems, and sometimes, when it worked for them, they left me take control. But mostly, my attitude didn't work for anyone.
Ahh, control. The bane of my existence. I try to control EVERYTHING. I can't just let things go, and I will literally keep myself up at night, tossing and turning, ruminating about things or people that make me mad, creating fake conversations in my head that will never happen - it can be maddening.
So when I was presented with another relationship in which an alcoholic was present, I thought, "Well, I will just go to Al Anon and figure out how I can be there for him, how to make the situation better." Yeah, not so much. My shit got called out immediately. But what I began to notice was how impaired my behavior made me, but yet how hard it was to talk about things. See, one of the gifts of being raised in an alcoholic home is the sense that your feelings aren't worth anything, that your voice should not be heard, that your opinion doesn't really matter. So in response, we children develop interesting personality traits - for me, it was shame about my experiences and feelings, and feeling like I was never good enough. Crying was the most shameful of all, and even though I do it easily, it makes me feel so ashamed to show it.
So here I am, so many months later, going to my meetings twice weekly, sometimes willingly and sometimes begrudgingly. I may go for the rest of my life, and figure that it took me all these years to develop these flaws, so it will likely take me years to work them out. And from what I understand, it's an active recovery, so it is something you can't cure, but rather keep working on throughout your life.
So where's my point in all this. Oh yeah. So today, I finally got up the courage to approach this veteran woman and ask her to be my sponsor. I know, sounds little probably, but to me its huge. See, I also fear rejection, judgement and criticism (I know, who doesn't?). So if she were to say no, I would have literally beat myself over it, thought maybe I wasn't witty enough or said the right things in meetings. But she said yes. She said yes. So I have a sponsor.
Having read through what I wrote, I guess it's probably easy to see why sometimes I have a hard time working through these mental blocks, why I can get so down on myself about this, why I set my expectations and goals super high. So, in turn, I guess it's easy to see why the Ironman seemed like a logical choice I would make. I read another blogger who wrote something to the effect of, "I couldn't just run, I had to do marathons...I couldn't just do triathlons, I had to do Ironman." Amen, sister. Like a page in my diary of life.
And as sick as I just described myself, I am getting better. I really take an active role in this process, and some days, like training, are good, and some aren't. Sometimes I can step back and take pause before I jump in, and some days I just react, and react poorly. But I keep trying to be a better person, and I figure that, if done honestly, that counts for something. For nothing worth having is even come upon easily, and in this case, like training, the journey is what builds the character, not the breaking of the tape at the finish.
Friday, February 23, 2007
And by treat, I mean mental torture.
The day started with uber-excitement about riding outside - excitement that was cut short in it's prime about 20 minutes into the ride, when it was so cold, my fingers felt like they were being repeatedly slammed in a door jam. Usually I can deal with finger coldness (it is Chicago after all) but today was different. The pain of the cold was literally making me physically ill, and it starting shooting up my forearms, so supporting myself on my bars became problematic. The rest of me was fine, more appropriately clothed and covered, but I guess maybe I need better gloves. Or new hands.
So I left Larry to fend for himself for the rest of the ride, and pedaled my sorry-ass back home. Defeated (yes, that quick - I really do go from "I'm cold" to "I'll never finish this race, I quit" in the time it takes most people to take a piss), I disrobed my layered attire, packed the swim bag, and went to the gym. All good so far, until I was standing IN THE POOL with my gear on, and I actually got right back out and went home. Seriously. You know how they say that you just have to get the suit on and get in the pool and the battle's over, you might as well swim? Yeah, not so much today. In fact, the suit was only wet to my waist, and I was out of the gym so quick that I managed to benefit from the "first hour free" parking in the garage where I parked. So bonus!
I did, however, redeem myself, by coming home and biking the session that I should have done yesterday while watching last night's Grey's Anatomy and being disappointed that Meredith lived. Yeah, she's my least favorite - sorry.
Frankly, I can't even wax poetic tonight about this stage in training. I could talk again about burnout (which I refuse to admit I have) or about overtraining and needing a break (which I have taken plenty of this recovery week). I have been feeling lately that I am giving Training a bad rap because I have been shit-talking it to the point that the Training wants to meet me behind the school at 3PM, but I should reiterate that I love, love love Training - sometimes, it's my own little feeble mind that gets in the way. That has, by far, been the biggest obstacle in this whole thing. My body seems to be handling it, and for the most part, I have managed these last few months with only minor problems (aside from the knee). Ahh, but the mind - it can be troublesome at times - both my best friend and my worst enemy.
So I think today I am just going to chalk it up to "Some days you're on, some days you're off." Today I was off, but perhaps tomorrow will be a different story. I am hoping that these mental blocks are normal at this point in training, particularly for first timers. And the craziness of it all? I believe, without a doubt, that I will finish this race. There's no question. I just need to make it through the training...
Thursday, February 22, 2007
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Have you ever had the experience of being pulled between two opposing, but brutally powerful feelings of hopefulness and hopelessness? Where, on one hand, you are overwhelmed by the enormity of a problem that is so deeply and historically rooted in dysfunction and despair, but, on the other hand, you are giddy with excitement at the fact that you have the opportunity to make a real change in the system, contribute to the well-being of others, and actually help a human life?
I imagine teachers vacillate through this continuum frequently, as do maybe medical doctors and social workers. Today was my day to join the ranks, get on the emotional roller coaster, and feel my stomach leep into my throat at the task before me.
See, although I "started" my job Friday, I participated in my first job-related activity today. I spent today (and tomorrow) at a seminar regarding the effects of trauma on children. In addition to discussing the neurobiological aspects of trauma, the presenter spent a great deal of time identifying problems in the child welfare system and with us as clinicians that further perpetuate the problems, ultimately setting the kids up for chronic misunderstanding, distress, and ultimate failure. Moreover, he talked, in brief, about funding issues, and the amount of money spent on reactive services, like psychotherapy, for traumatized children who really need change at the vary basic neuronal levels that can't come through simple psychotherapy, once a week for one hour. So here is the hopelessness.
Then he talked about relationships, human connections, ideas as small as sustained eye contact or tactile comfort...so many things that, when done with repetition for extended time, can bring about change. He used real examples of both success and failure, and let me tell you - just when you think you have heard the worst of the stories (and I've heard some that make you actually ache with sickness), there is always another that is worse. I am really simplifying this, I know, but this seminar was dead-on. And the thing is, he wasn't trying to "sell" anything, but rather was passionately putting forth his life's research and experiences in a way to educate and motivate us to make some real change.
While I have been in the child welfare system now for the last five or six years as a clinician, I have always provided "reactive" services, like therapy and consultation for kids "at the end of the line," at a point when all other service providers were throwing their hands in the air, giving the kid up as a "total loss." Today, I was informed that my new position is actually part of a larger state-wide initiative that is trying to overhaul the child welfare system in this state, trying to identify and tackle the issues at the very heart of this chaotic mess, and make some policy, structural, clinical and practical changes. And to do this, we are finally starting to educate those cogs (I am one) in the system who are front-line providers about the cyclic nature of abuse and trauma, a point that sounds so common sense, yet has clearly taken so long to come to fruition. So now I am coming at this from a new angle.
From a hopeful angle.
The reality is is that we have a massive and bottomless pit of a system that is historically flawed and overwhelmed. Workers (caseowrkers to therapist alike) are overworked and underpaid, andultimately under invested, and we give that feeling right back out to these kids that have been neglected and abused from day one. We then expect these kids to form connections with us (therapists) based on once/weekly interactions, and pour their souls out to strangers when most of their social interactions have reinforced the idea that people will hurt and abuse them. At some point, the other providers stand back and wonder why the kids won't change. And that's just the surface level issues.
I can hear the soapbox starting to creak underneath my weight so I will step down. But I just feel that, for the first time since I have been in this field, in this state agency, that maybe, just maybe, things can change. This is huge to me.
It gives me hope.
Monday, February 19, 2007
I met Larry at the pool for a swim. When we got there, the pool was empty, and, as usual, we set our buoys, paddles and flip-flops at the top of our respective lanes. As we swam, people came and went. About 1700 meters into it, I noticed that familiar pressure in my abdominal that signaled it was time for a pee-break. So I got out of the pool, and went to the bathroom. I noticed that all the lanes were taken and made sure that my aforementioned collection of toys was at the top of the lane to indicate that it was taken.
However, as I was walking back down the hall to the pool after my momentary break (45 seconds later, thankyouverymuch), I noticed a rather hairy, 25-ish male wearing (no joke) Jams (remember those?) popping his goggles on his face, stepping over my buoy and paddles and jumping into my lane.
My first thought was, "Son of a b--. Seriously?" Now, I have NO problems splitting a lane, and frankly, that is usually the case when the pool gets filled. However, as I walked onto the deck, I noticed that he was seal-like swimming down half the lane, then sort of walking, then swimming on his back, then walking again, then breast-stroking and then some more walking and finally what can only be described as "water wiggling." It was clear that there would be no room for me to share the lane, nor was Dolphin Man having anyone break his flopping rhythm.
Oh, and my personal favorite? At one point, his incredible aquatic skills must have worn him out, so he needed to relax by resting his head against the ledge of the pool while on his back, his Jam-covered legs floating out in front of him, as if to suggest, "Hey, this is almost like being on a beach somewhere, only without the cool frosty drink, sun or sand." I half expected him to tuck a fiver in my suit and ask me to shake cute little self over to the bar for a pina colada.
I noticed Larry staring at me through his goggles as if to gauge my reaction, which, to the knowing eye, was utter disbelief. In order to avoid confrontation (which I so, so despise, as I would rather just suck down my frustration until it gives me a bleeding ulcer) Larry offered to let me share his lane.
So why was I so pissed?
First off, it was clear someone was swimming in the lane, given the apparatus at the top of it. Now, unless this guy has some knowledge of the rare phenomenon of ghost swimming that I did not, it was pretty clear someone was in the lane. So etiquette (and correct me if I am wrong) would suggest that he wait a moment until I return, and then ask me politely if he could share my already marked lane. To which I would have stated, "Sure, no problem," as I usually do. But no.
And then he didn't even seem to get it when I picked up ALL of my belongings and brought them over to Larry's lane. I felt like I should have even apologized for cluttering up his entrance into the (my) lane.
For the rest of time, I just shot him the glare of death underwater through my goggles as he meandered himself down (my) lane. See, he was swimming to my right, and since I can't bilaterally breathe yet, I can only go to my right side, which he happened to be on.
I know it's not nice to claim lanes, and I hate when people get all entitled and shit just because they might be more highly skilled than me, but this is SO not the case here. I wasn't feeling entitled to the lane just because I don't wear Jams and I can actually swim (well, at least today I could, ask me again tomorrow). Rather, it was just lack of courtesy. That's all. A simple, "Hey, I think maybe I took your lane - want to share?" would have even lessened the blow. But nothing.
So lesson learned today?
Next time, just pee in the pool.
Today, I started my real life adult job.
Well, technically, I started last Friday, but today I actually had to show up today, go through benefits orientation (I have health insurance! dental! vision! life! and a pension!) and then some other paperwork. I even told them that I needed my days off to go to IM AZ, and they said yes! And they pay me to take off! Utter craziness. So much for one day. Ahh, to be a working girl.
Wait, not that kind of working girl, I mean the one that gets paid...I mean legitimately...I mean - whatever, you get it.
There are still some loose ends with this whole thing, but I now work for the state, so I guess they should be tied up probably about...well, let's see...well, hopefully by the time that pension (!) kicks in. I still need to be assigned an office, which I am hoping is the region office right down the street. I need a list of my required meetings (because that is now mostly what I will be doing is going to meetings), my phone and my computer. I guess when you work for the state, things move at a slightly different pace than what I am used to, so patience (not my strong point) must be engaged.
So I got home about 1PM (again, I work for the state - haha), and I am off to meet Larry at the pool and then a short spin. I indulged in some movie theatre popcorn and Twizzlers last night and then a piece of ice cream cake for Patrick's birthday, so I got some 'splaining to do. Bring on the laps!
Sunday, February 18, 2007
What is up with Britney Spears being a total hot mess? I have my own psychologically-oriented interpretations but, lordy, it's like a big nasty locomotive wreck. Yikes. However, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think to myself, "Hmm, bald...now that would make for an easier IM day." 'Cause it all comes back to the IM...
So yesterday is now a figment of my imagination, with only some shake-rattle-and-roll in the knees this morning as evidence that it actually happened. Here's how it went down: While on the bike (inside, on the trainer), the knee pain started at about 2:30 in, and rather than throwing my hands up and moaning, "F-it all" in my all-or-nothing way, I calmed my mind, quietly got off the bike, stretched, and proceeded to do this every 20-30 minutes, as needed (and it was needed). I guess it worked, 'cause I made it through the five hours with only minor pain, but nothing that I couldn't work through.
The first 30 minutes of the run (treadmill) were perfect, almost too good. I eased into it, and felt stronger with every five minute increment. The last 30 however, were a bit tougher, and the knees began to really creak and ache with each step. I had moderate pain when I stopped, which more or less hung in there for the rest of the day. This morning, as mentioned, they are still a'creakin, but I am not freaking out, instead just acknowledging that I worked hard yesterday, and there is bound to be some soreness. So today, instead of cramming in my last swim of the week, I have opted to take the day off, move it to tomorrow, and enjoy the upcoming recovery week.
Is it weird to clap for yourself and scream "Yah!" when you get done with a hard workout when you're at a full gym in front of total strangers and they stare? Yeah, I didn't think so, but I pretended I was just cheering for the televised basketball game anyways.
Yeah, I'm that girl.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
Now it's back to the Megan burrito cocoon, otherwise know as my comforter. So until we meet again in the morning sun...
Friday, February 16, 2007
Friday is just about at a close over here in the frozen Chi-town, and I would like to end the work week with some thoughts.
First, I have to say that the last two days have been filled with uber-support and warm feelings. Not just for me, but for a lot of us who are struggling with tough training plans, upcoming races, high expectations, injuries, and basically our own minds working against us. This thing called triathlon, and it's beast of a mother, Ironman, can bring out the best and worst in us. It can give us super highs, but challenge us with painful lows. What looks, on the outside, to be simply a physical endurance test, turns out to be a test of will, determination, self-exploration and confrontation, and mind-wrestling that can bring even the grandest narcissistic to his/her knees. But yet we come in droves to toe the line, give it a shot, prove our worth. I can honestly say that I never anticipated the emotional investment in this monster, and yet it is turning out to be the best part (well, that and my rocking new arms and shoulders).
Second, I have read a lot of sites in the last few days, in part to avoid my work, but mostly to help manage my own anxiety and feel like I am not alone in this. And it is amazing how brutally honest people can be in identifying their issues/fears/weaknesses. I even hesitate to use the word "weakness" because we are far from it. I appreciate the honesty, and all the things people give me to think about (lifetime IM's, my "people"). My mind never stops, and in this regard, its a good thing.
Finally (here comes the cheese and sap) I am very grateful to everybody who actively participates in my progress, mental and physical. To those who listen to me bitch and moan, meet me at the pool at 6AM, run next to me on the treadmill (even if not for the full two hours), ride with me in the living room, let me project my disappointment onto you because I can't yet admit it in myself, indulge my "me, me, me" tendencies when all I talk about is me, don't roll their eyes when I post pictures of my nephew that make me laugh and pick my spirits up, and just ask me how things are going. It means a lot. So while I will be the only one in the picture they snap when I cross the finish line in AZ, the background of that photo will be filled with all those who got me here, real or virtual.
Lots of big sloppy, GU-and-Gatorade-flavored kisses,
Thursday, February 15, 2007
Now, I am not all too sure what is happening in this picture, but whatever it is, the look on Baby Nolan's face is priceless (click on to expand to get full effect). This is easily the funniest picture I have ever seen, though I am not sure why, and I am not just saying that because he's my nephew.
And this one, the little dude looks like he's onto my sister, got her number, knows her game. And if he could talk, it would sound a little something like this:
"So what I know so far is that, if I cry I get food, if I cry I get changed, and if I cry you give me kisses? And if I just give you a couple of cute-pie yawns, a handful of gummy mouth smiles and a couple hours of sleep here and there, you'll keep telling me how wonderful I am and rocking me to sleep? Life is good, baby, life is good...now how about a little snack?"
Little dude is wise beyond his years...Just like his aunt.
And now my day is officially better.
This morning was one of the those mornings I wish my mom could have called me in "sick" to the pool, allowing me a mental health day from my laps and drills that seemingly mocked me as soon as I stepped foot on the pool deck. Larry met me there, as usual, and we waited for some lanes to open, but then once in the pool it took me almost 10 minutes to actually put my face in the water. Once I did, I made it 400 yards, or ten minutes, and just got out. I wasn't feeling it. Not today.
Now this has happened once before, where I just quit the swim. But I have to say, terminating any workout sucks, because it just makes me feel like such a loser.
Moreover, this knee thing is nagging still from yesterday, and there is nothing more mentally defeating them waking up with the pain of the day before that you had hoped a good night sleep would cure. Not so much this morning. So I was already mentally out of the game as soon as my feet hit the floor of the side of my bed. Literally.
I am getting feedback that maybe I need to take a break, take a day off from the riding and running. And I could not agree more. But yet, that little M-Dot demon keeps yapping in my ear, "You can't stop now, only 58 days left - you want to finish this race don't you? An Ironman never quits and that's what your doing...get your ass on that bike and spin off some of those Starbursts you ate before bed last night!"
Why is it that I can't just admit I need to stop, take a break? The reality is that this training plan, which I adhere to 99.9% of the time (some strength sessions fall to wayside-oops) is tough on a body that has only logged a couple of marathons in her past. But yet it's almost like admitting defeat, or weakness to say, "Okay, no more for today." Do I fear I might lose some fitness by taking a day off? Am I worried that my coach might think I am whining and disapprovingly call my need for a break "another complication?" Is it that I fear quitting one training session will make it that much easier to quit the race? Is it all of the above? Yes, yes, yes and yes.
I think for today I might take someone else's advice outside my own, especially given that my own seems to get me in the most trouble. I think I might just take the day off, because with a five hour trainer ride coming up in a few days, I need all the rest I can manage. Thanks all for the feedback - I'm going to step outside my comfort zone and take it.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
First, my knees are KILLING. I did a two hour run today (on the treadmill) and dang, I could barely get off of the thing at the end. I had physical therapy immediately afterwards (which was slightly embarrassing because I cut time so close I couldn't even shower and then the therapist had to feel all up on my legs and whatnot, and my skin was literally still hot, so I made sure to repeatedly tell him I at least changed my socks). Anyway, the knee problem from bike riding this weekend is still there, which makes me nervous about this upcoming weekend's ride (five hours, in the trainer). This trainer business is tearing me up, I have decided.
So now that the training update is out of the way, on to bigger and better things - mainly, me. I had a lot of alone time today to contemplate my little quirks, which, for some reason, kept coming up all day long. So in addition to the Oddities , I would like to add this to my repertoire of weirdness:
Quirk 1. Despite having lived in Chicago all my 30 years and suffered through some miserable winters (this one included), I do not own a pair of snow boots. Stilettos to go out in? Sure. But trekking through the tundra to the train? Not so much. Weird? There's more: I don't own my own hat or gloves, and got my first winter jacket last year for Christmas (I had been wearing the equivalent of a windbreaker for the last six winters). Yep, that's me - the lone girl waiting for the "L" on the platform, wind whipping her hair across her face, ears bright red, snot dripping, eyes tearing, hopping from foot to foot to initiate circulation in Adidas running shoes no longer used for running, and hands pulled into her sleeves (and if it's really cold, I actually go ahead and pull them all the way into my jacket and hug myself). If you see me, be sure to say "hi," but don't be mad if I can't part my frozen chapped lips to return the salutation.
Quirk 2: I wear makeup three times a year. That's it. Why three? Because I figure that's as many parties I go to in a year's time, and that's really the only time I doll-up. The other 362 days, I might pinch my checks for some natural flush, slap on some chap stick and call it a day. Some people call me low maintenance, but I prefer "natural." I hear (from my sisters) that I might look better if I put some on once and a while, and they are right, I probably would. But why? I work primarily with kids, wear jeans and gym shoes to work, and mostly sit in a windowless office writing reports. Also, with my life currently consumed with training, I spend more time sweating than I do sleeping, so it almost gives me a built-in excuse to go goop-free. That, and frankly, I don't think I really need it.
So that's what I thought about today. That, and how all that "smoking" talk yesterday made me even more aware of people lighting up today. You ever see that movie "40 Days and 40 Nights" with Josh Harnett, where he gives up sex for 40 days, but then starts to hallucinate that all the women walking around on the street are naked or wearing bras and panties? Yeah, kinda like that but with North Face jackets, freezing breath, salty streets, and cigarettes dangling from hands and mouths.
On that note, I gotta bust. It's getting late and I still need that shower (totally yuck, I know). Later skaters.
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I am a smoker.
Well, maybe a better term is "was." I was a smoker. But since this nasty habit is never far from my consciousness, I might as well just own the fact that I smoked for about twelve years and finally quit two years ago, FOR GOOD (I hope). Of course, like any smoker, I quit several times before that.
Smoking has always been a huge part of my life. It was the key to meeting new people at school, like outside on smoke breaks, commiserating over the craziness of psychoanalysis, or at a party outside on the porch, flirting with guys and making small talk. It is connected to high school, driving around with my best friends, smoking and trying to find the next party while listening to "Me and Bobby McGee" on the mix tape. It got me through the loneliness of college, the desperation of bad break-ups, the excitement of new apartments, and frankly, the day-in/day-outs of life.
So how has it come up recently? And why am I coming clean now? Well first, it came up a couple weeks ago when I read a fellow blogger's back-posts, and saw his confession. Then two days ago, my brother offered me one (the same type I used to smoke) and dang if I almost said yes. And then today it actually came up because a friend of mine was smoking during one of our conversations, and boy did I want one.
And I am now just coming clean about it because I have been communicating with other people in this triathlon world who have been or are currently smokers, so I finally feel like maybe its not as super horrible as I make it out to be. In fact, I attribute my current "quit" status not to my stunningly strong will, but rather my dedication to finishing this Ironman without dropping a lung or vomiting blood somewhere around mile 102.
You have to understand how much I truly hated that I did this. This is the epitome of the dirty little secret, as I never told anybody, never smoked with anybody, and usually hide it tight from all my boyfriends until I either got caught or...well, I usually got caught. I would probably post a picture of me smoking on honor of my quit status, but I refused to ever be seen or photographed in such a state. I though it was ugly when I did it, I thought it was ugly when other people did it, and I lied all the time about doing it. My dad was a smoker, quit for 20 years, then got diagnosed with lung cancer and I STILL smoked. When he was sick, my cousin and uncle used to come over to give me a break from taking care of him, and I used that time to walk around the block and smoke. That makes me sad to even read that sentence.
I finally quit when I got a new job to which I took the train everyday. Prior to that, I worked 50 miles away from home, and smoke in the car during the commute. But without the sanctuary of my car, I felt exposed. I could have just smoked outside of my building, but for fear that my new boss would see me, I just figured it would be easier to quit. So I did.
And there it is, my lovelies. I guess as far as secrets go, that's pretty lame, but to me, it's huge. And I do take pride in knowing that I no longer succumb to the cravings (but they are still there, even two years later). So I guess that's pretty good, at least for me. So speaking of my dad, and co-dependence, and vices, I have to go my ALANON meeting now. Later skaters.
But since I have elected not to moan about the weather in a city I choose to live, I will take the lemons I was given and go make myself some liquor-laced lemonade while I cool off from the aforementioned escapade and dream about the warm breeze under the Arizona sun as I pedal my little heart out in April. Can you hear me sun? It's me, Megan, and I'm missing on you.
Monday, February 12, 2007
I also didn't tell my coach, because a couple weeks ago, he referred to my knee injury and flu as "complications," but the way he phrased it made me think he thought I was whining. I just felt really shamed (my own issue, most likely) so I didn't tell him. I just had to send him an email to fill him in because my physical therapist would have anyway. Great.
See the thing about this training is this: the longest distances I have trained for have been a stand-alone marathon (twice) and a half-IM (twice), though the half-IM training was really just me deciding how far and how hard I wanted to go on any given day. This structured, high intensity and regular workouts can be really traumatizing to a body, I have discovered, and truth be told, I mostly (aside from the knee) feel great. I love this, am totally addicted to it, and can't imagine stopping. In fact, my little brother just called me from TN, and he asked me if this was going to be my only IM, and my response was , "Hell no. This is just the beginning of what I hope to be a long and glorious relationship with the M-Dot." To which he responded, "So are you ever going to get married?" And the funniest thing happened - the phone just went dead before I could respond. Oops. Oh well.
Just kidding, I didn't hang up, but, as a 30 year old female, I get that question more than you could actually imagine in this day and age. But I stopped and thought for a second before I rattled off my usual "Everyone makes choices in their lives, and just because you chose to get married and have kids does not mean it's the best and only option" spiel I usually reserve for my overly-disapproving aunts and cousins who never fail to give me that sad-eyed, sympathetic half-smile and slight head nod when this topic arises, as if I just told them both of my legs fell victim to a flesh-eating parasite and were going to be amputated the next morning. Oh, and these would also be the same cousins who are, by the way, all married and mothered and unhappy, but I'm not judging.
Marriage - I have never really planned on it, and honestly, after spending eight years in grad school while all my friends got to go do their own things, I am finally free to do mine, and I kinda want to be selfish. That's not to say I would never get married, and I certainly look forward to being in a relationship, but I really like my "Megan time" right now. And when the right person does come along (that sounds so 1950s), I hope that the person would support this little vice of mine and maybe even be into it themselves.
So I just totally re-read all that, and wow, did I get sidetracked. Well, that's par for the course today. There are no real straight lines in my life, I guess. Perhaps once I eat dinner I might wander back to the blog and post my nagging little secret. Maybe.
Sunday, February 11, 2007
1. Was anyone else slightly disappointed with the Police opening at the Grammy's? Call it wishful thinking, but I was kinda hoping at least for a medley, and you can be dang sure my ass is the first in line should a tour be spawned from this (yes, I totally realize I am about 20 years too young to be riding this bandwagon, but you can't help who you love). And seriously, how the hell old ARE those guys? Yikes.
2. And speaking of tours, I heard The Who might also be touring. Can anyone confirm this? Mucho fabuloso if true (wowed ya with my bilingual skills, yeah?)
3. In the rush of today's draft, I ate handfuls of Cheetos, some Lime Tostitos, and eight brownies. Is that so wrong? Perhaps, but if so, I don't want to be right.
4. Speaking of the draft, I wanted to thank everybody who sent me supportive words over the last few days, both about the draft and just regarding my life in general. I read all my comments and emails, and am so, so appreciative of how thoughtful people can be. So thanks blogger community!
5. Right now, my dog is having what I believe is a nightmare, and is convulsing and grunting on the floor next to me. A little scary, but nonetheless giggle-worthy.
To summarize our draft, I have to say that I am really satisfied with how things came out. My family really worked together for a situation that was anything but ideal, and it came out good. For all of our issues at times, I really love my family, and they can really rise to the occasion and step up to the plate (wow, no pun intended but impressive, nonetheless). Is that enough cliches yet? I got some more, just let me know....
Oh and the training. How could I post without an update on the ever-nearing IM AZ training? I did yet another trainer ride. However, what was supposed to be 4:30 ended up at 4:07 due to a brand new injury (lucky!). The fleshy part of my inside right knee (maybe not fleshy on anyone else, but I did have eight brownies so...) was brutally sore at about 3:45 when I tried to jump off the bike for to use the potty, and I could barely extend or bend it. I stupidly tried to continue and finish the ride (come on now, you all know you would have done the same thing) but at 4:07, I decided that if I had any hope of trying the run portion, I should stop. I got through the run, but not without truly immobilizing my knee to the point that I could not get off the treadmill and down the stairs to leave the gym (I waited until the coast was clear and then took the stairs one by one, like a toddler, which is how I imagine I will be crossing the finish line so I chalk this up to thorough training). I think this is just a muscular thing, maybe from so many 4+ hour rides in the trainer, or my new orthotics or whatever, so I am not too worried. But dang if it didn't hurt like a motha'. Oh, I blew my swim this morning - doin' it tomorrow.
So that's me for a Sunday. Sorry it's slightly scattered. I hope everyone's weekend went super, training session pulled off without incident, and a new training week ready to be conquered. I am ending with a picture of Devin and her fiance, Patrick, who have graciously given their house over to the storage of the draft goods (and a homeless sister, but whose really keeping track?) Later skaters.
Friday, February 9, 2007
As most of you know, my dad died about three years ago from a really brief but painful illness of lung cancer. By the time it was discovered, it was all over his body. Even though he went through the motions of radiation and chemo, he lived for only six months. It was a tough time, still is at times, for many reasons. At the time of his death, he was a HIGHLY celebrated Chicago Police Captain, who, after his death, had the Roll Call Room at the 18th District dedicated to him (the first known dedication of that kind in the history of the police department, as far as we've been told). Many on the department who ever knew or worked with him were devastated, and spent the last six months of his life making sure he knew what he meant to them.
This picture was taken just two months before his death, at a ceremony where he won an award on Officer Appreciation Day. The Aldermen were there, the room was FILLED with officers and civilians just waiting to talk to him, hear him speak (he was a legend for his public speaking abilities). Obviously, he was pretty sick, and even looking at the picture as I type this, its weird to see him like that. That was my dad. Was. It's still weird to say. Three years later.
When my dad died, part of what was left to the kids (five of us) was his MASSIVE sports memorabilia collection to divide up and distribute. Not so easy of a task. So we decided to give it to an auction house and just cut the proceeds, but the auction house only took some of the stuff, leaving us with the rest. So this weekend, we are having a "draft." We have all made lists of things we might want (for monetary or sentimental value) and will pick numbers and take turns making our selections.
The crazy part about this is that my dad literally spent years collecting this stuff, and if there is anything I have that even remotely reminds me of him (other than my glaring personality disorder and knack for picking the "wrong" guys), it's this stuff. So this whole division process is just a bit...I don't know...weird, I guess, for lack of better word.
So that's what I face come Sunday. I hope it goes smooth, and I think it should, but you never know. That, plus my training, should make for a really wiped out little Meggie by Sunday night. Thanks for letting me vent this out today. I think I have some more "emotion" sorting out to do. Later.
Thursday, February 8, 2007
This is me in Hilton Head at my friend Suzanne's wedding. Ahhh. I can almost feel the sun on my face and the sand in my toes. I remember thinking, "Dang it's hot!" that day, because it was about 100 degrees with that much humidity, but, geesh, if I could only go back.
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Nolan: Hmm, now the last time I was able to cut the transition time from feeding to poopy by two minutes....this time around I feel a bit slow, but maybe I haven't gotten my kicking legs back fast enough, and the kicking does help move things along...
Ellen: Hi baby! Hi Baby! Whose a good baby? Whose a good baby? Who made stinkies?
Nolan: So if I could just keep kicking through the feeding, it might help cut down the time even more, so I can just slide into the nap even quicker. Form, man, it's all about the form. See, I knew Baby Sam over in the nursery was just talking smack, cause there is no way he can make that transition in less then three minutes. No Way! Ooh, these extra padding, non-chafe Pampers feel awfully nice...
Ellen: Oh, big stinkies! Let's get you cleaned up here...now there we go, here's some ointment...and a wipe...and we're all done! That's my little boy, now let's get you down for a nap so mommy can sleep too!
Nolan: So that's the game plan. Kick through feeding, poopy and then nap. Man, I keep training like this and there'll be no stopping me by the time I reach age-group on the playground. Yo mom! What's up with this blanket? We outta foils again? Geesh, and I asked for a "silicon" cap - this wool is gonna create some serious drag! Sigh. So much to teach them.
So that's how I think it goes down. Or at least if it were my kid it would. But no matter what Baby Nolan is in to (sports, music, drag racing) I'll love him no matter what. How could you not?
I fully acknowledge that training for an IM is tough no matter where you are. However, its just slightly more psychologically challenging doing in the Arctic blast that is wreaking havoc on the Midwest. So to all those in this mess - hang in there, you'll be better for it in the end. For those currently sitting under an 85 degree sun, bless you. Enjoy it, soak it up, and I'll see you at the start in just a few short weeks. Train on, trainers!
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
However, I noticed that, more than ever before, I am paying attention to the wrath of Mother Nature. Why now? Ironman training, baby! Because I leave my house at 6AM to swim, and notice that the temp (alone, without windchill) is -9. As in, below zero nine. And because of where we live, I have to sit in my car as it warms, or risk one of my neighbors warming it for me (if you know what I mean), so that always adds a nice element of discomfort in the morning. To deal, I take a mug of coffee and just sit behind the wheel, bent over the top of the cup, letting the steam warm my burning cheeks. And riding? Forget it. Running? Possible, but today we got snow and the temps have just frozen everything. Yikes. Long run on the treadmill tomorrow.
The winters before IM training are just a fuzzy memory. Long gone are the days where I could sleep in until the temp peeked to at least 10 degrees, and then lazily pull myself out of the tiny little burrito cocoon I created from my down comforter. Gone are the carefree winter days of running from the gym to the car in shorts, as now you risk black leg and amputation. Gone are the days when you could run without attaching chains to your shoes for stability. Sigh. But I still love ya, Chicago.
There are a number of people that, for whatever reason, have chosen to leave this end-all-be-all city for warmer climates. And to those that fall in this category (unless you are over 65 and severely arthritic) I say: You are a sissy (okay, really that means I'm jealous, but jealousy is so ugly, right?). Anyone could ride outside in 70-85 degree weather to train for a Spring race, and anyone could go for long rides and runs when the mood strikes when you're living in a state of sunshine. It takes a real wo/man to train in the land where winter tends to be the only season, punctuated here and there with some colored leaves and heat spells, where Mother Nature comes to unleash a year's worth of rage on those who destroy her delicate skin with their big SUVs and energy waste, where North Face is truly "survival gear," and where blood runs thicker than any other place on Earth. Freezing boogs, dry chapped skin, layered clothing and frozen toes while waiting for a morning train that never comes - That's Chicago living. That's what I'm talking about.
Monday, February 5, 2007
I attempt to go to my physical therapist just now, who apparently FORGOT he had an appointment with me. I suspected something was up as I made my way over to the office and got a call from Larry (who himself was jsut leaving the physical therapist office). He said, "Dr. K told me to tell you call him to make an appointment." And I said, "That's funny because I have one with him in about five minutes - I'm just parking." So when I got to his office, he was already in with another patient (during my scheduled time) I didn't know what to do, so I waited outside his office while he worked with another patient, but 40 minutes into what would have been our session, I decided to leave a note and go home.
That feels kinda bad.
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Though I was young, I remember the town literally feeling as if it were on fire, the electricity and excitement was so stifling. My family, who has owned Bears season tickets since before I was even a thought in my parent's mind, treated it like it was Christmas, and I remember literally giving myself a headache from my excitement.
Of course, as you might remember, the Bears came out on top early, and never looked back. A blowout made the second half a little less exciting, but damned if we didn't bang our pots and pans at the final seconds wound down.
This year, there is definitely excitement, but given the slight uncertainty of the regular season, there seems to be a bit of hesitant celebration, or at least I think that it why it hasn't felt quite the same as I remember it. But hey, we're still there, and were still gonna fight for a win. And in case there is any argument, Chicago is by and large the best city to live in. Anywhere.
So if you live far and can't hear my voice - GO BEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now go get your game on.
So yesterday I posted a follow-up to a previous post about honesty. I pretty much reiterated my thoughts on liars, and that there is no good excuse to blatantly lie to people, which is the epitome of disrespect (to me). Moreover, I also owned up to my own dishonesty at times, which I still struggle with, and see it as a flaw in me. I ended it by saying "Please, if you know me, don't ask me if this post is about you, because if you think it is, maybe you have something to get honest about."
Now while I meant that statement, at the time I wrote it, I was a bit salty and sour about something (not quite sure what it was though) and just felt like venting. After some thought, I deleted it, but not after I received a comment along these lines (and this is paraphrased):
"Parents try to raise kids to trust them and are always honest with them, but then kids always end up lying to their parents, so do you chalked that up to them being kids or is lying okay for them?"
Needless to say, I had a burning reaction to this comment, mostly because of what's gone down in my own home over the last, hmm, about five to seven years. But I told myself to give it pause, to mull it over, and then come back to it after I simmered down. And while I certainly have an opinion about it, I would like to hear what other people have to say regarding lying: Is it okay? Never okay? What are the exceptions? What about parents lying to their kids? Leave a comment in the comment section, or email me (see profile for address). Please, I really want feedback on this before I shoot my mouth off about it.
Saturday, February 3, 2007
It is now 730AM, 1 degree outside, with a wind chill below zero this morning, and the wind is howling so fast and hard it is literally rattling the window panes. Rattling. Like Old Man Marley. The dog poop was frozen before it even hit the ground this morning.
So if you do not live close this this hell frozen over, count your blessings this morning. Get to go for a long ride outside? Bless you. Maybe a nice leisurely run around a park? Right on! Maybe even in shorts? Go on with your bad self! But for those of us who made an impulsive and somewhat ill-informed decision to sign up for a spring race while forgetting that this is how we roll in winter in these parts - we can be found logging in (the 4th) four-hour ride in the trainer, and likely even having to do the run at the gym. But I am sure that the frozen air will soothe the raw, open wounds of chaffing gifted to me by the stationary ride. Awesome. Totally, 100% awesome.
Note to self: next year, do IM Florida.
Big, sloppy, frozen kisses and runny noses,
Friday, February 2, 2007
My sister has been recovering nicely after giving birth, and tomorrow I get to hold the new little dude for the first time. I saw him today before she fed him in the nursery and honestly, he is a mushy mound of screaming preciousness. He somehow managed to get a rash on his cheeks, so that's interesting. But I find myself wondering if his skin is soft, or if his red ears feel hot, or how much light he can see through the slits, or if he will scream when I hold him, as if sensing my baby-fear. When he opens his mouth, I noticed that its really just this tiny gaping hole. So weird. And his feet are the best because the feet-part seems awfully long, and the toes look like little tiny balls at the top of the feet-part. Like little balls, I swear. Just glued right up there. Geesh. These baby things sure are funny...
So maybe, MAYBE, I will have pictures tomorrow. I sense my baby bragging rights are just about up, so when the pictures come, I will shut up. But until then, deal.
See? I told you I'm salty. Double geesh.
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Now onto the addictions:
3. Not in that order - lesson learned.
4. 30 minute recovery swims - always on a Friday.
5. Steams - the hotter, the better and also on Fridays.
6. Instant message - despite my pop-culture prowess, this is new to me.
7. The Office - no addictions list is complete without it.
8. Go Lean Rolls - my new candy bar, but with more protein! Dee-lish!
9. My physical therapist - aka voodoo witch doctor.
10. Fleece pants - so warm and toasty.
11. Bike shopping - so much sparkle, so little time...
13. Pool paddles - newly acquired gift from my sister
14. Hot showers after long bricks - aaahhhhh.
15. Working from home - a luxury soon to be lost.
Last night, my little sister Elbow gave birth to a baby boy, Nolan Joseph (named after my little brother and late father). Weighing in at a healthy 9.3, and 21 inches, he was kicking those legs as if a Cerevelo was already underneath him (and if I have anything to say about it...)
Things got a little scary for a while, because the labor was difficult, and they ended up giving my sister a C-section, which was not expected. He was born with a fever because the trauma of the labor gave my sister a fever, so no one could really hold him or touch him, so we just looked at him through the window while the doctors all worked on him. I am on my way to the hospital in a bit to see the little dude.
I feel as if this post requires more words, and I know they are in me, but they are so jumbled and so happy and so relieved and overwhelmed that I can't seem to get them out in a sensible way. I will try to post later (hopefully with pics) once I sort it out.