Friday, February 29, 2008
But as I surfed other blogs tonight (yes, this is what I do on Friday nights - the glamorous life of a big city gal - I can feel your jealousy through the computer screen), I realized that a lot of you all are posting accumulated miles/hours/yardages, and talking about different aspects of training that I guess I don't really mention.
Is this a bad thing? I know I started this blog to track my first IM experience, but over the last year, it has taken on more of a Megan-In-Daily-Life feel, with a tad bit of training thrown in.
In a lot of ways, training and IM has taken over my life, but my life still happens. In fact, it is often during these horrendously long training sessions that I think about things to talk about on here, which are always more entertaining to me than my actual workout.
The weird this is is that I actually really like reading about other people's training. In fact, there have been several posts in the last few weeks about people's training breakthroughs, nutrition, milage and times - all of which I love to read because I am in the exact same place. I have gotten a ton of good ideas, and have felt very validated reading these other posts.
It's just that my own training never seems that interesting.
So maybe I'll toss a couple more posts in about my sessions, especially in these upcoming weeks, as they get increasingly long and hard.
That's all I really have to say about that.
I seriously have issue with 40-50 year old women who write books and go on the Oprah show talking about how wonderful it is to be that old, and that women should embrace their age and their beauty that comes with being that age. Why? Because without fail, all these women are so nip/tucked and Botoxed that their faces don’t even move when they talk. How can one make proclamations about loving one’s beauty and then epitomize the definition of plastic surgery? And I’m not just talking a brow lips or some lipo (I mean, who can’t use those, you know?) but these women have plastic faces and plastic boobs to go along with it.
The Big O had Bette Midler on, and I swear I didn’t even recognize her without the identification scroll at the bottom of the screen. Seriously, she looked cut up like Jennifer Gray after that whole nose job fiasco circa Dirty Dancing success. I think Bette may tried to smile once, but who knows? And then Oprah sits there, nodding to these empty words of self-love, while the real women in the audience feel like shit because they can’t possibly ever achieve this false “beauty” unless they score a dying millionaire Anna-Nicole style. It’s bull shit.
And not that I have a problem with plastic surgery ‘cause I don’t. I mean, I’ll admit it – I’ve stood in front of the mirror lifting, ahem, things, just to see how it would look with a littler alteration. But just don’t preach self and body acceptance when you clearly can’t do it yourself. And my personal favorite? All those actresses that SWEAR they have never gone under the knife, yet they look younger than most 21 years olds cruising the bars on the Vegas Strip. It must be all the sleep and healthy Hollywood living they’ve been doing. Yeah.
Is gangster rap dead yet? I mean, I’ve been waiting since 1993, and yet it keeps hanging on like that crotchety old aunt with a secret Last Will. How many different ways can one “sing” about apple bottom booties, shorties, 40s, Cristal, Hennessy, dollar bills, and the overall degrading of the female species? The most egregious demonstration of why this form of expression needs to take a hike? YouTube videos of 5-year-olds dancing to the Superman song. Really, check out that link if you don’t know what "Superman" means (hint: it has nothing to do with Christopher Reeves), and then imagine that this is what we have young children choreographing dance routines to. This needs to end, people.
And someone else that needs to take a hike? Bobby Brown. Move on, Mr. Brown. It’s no longer your prerogative.
(note: this might be offensive so I apologize ahead of time)
I know it’s not politically correct to say, and I am even a tad ashamed to say this out loud, but I have a really hard time with old people. Not like, 60 year old-type people, but like the 80 and 90 ones.
Good luck to my mom in 20 years, right? “Hello? Yes, I would like to reserve a room for my mom at your Sleepy Oaks Mature Adults facility. What’s that? Only twin beds in shared rooms tended to by disgrunted minimum wage psuedo-nurses available? Great! Who do I make the check out to?”
It’s not that I don’t like them, per se, but rather I just struggle with them. I think it might be because I am in constant motion and on-the-go, and I hate to be slowed down and I have virtually no patience for anything, including waiting to check out in the Target line. But there must be something else that frustrates me. Today, for instance, I was in the pool, and without warning, this little old lady just gets in my lane, and then tries to signal to me that I should maybe change lanes so she could have mine. I was like, “Listen old lady, I know you’re, well, old, but we can share, right?” Apparently not, because she proceeds to take up both lanes with her stunning demonstration of the breast stroke. And being the ass that I am, I tucked in and kept swimming, refusing to relinquish my lane to anyone, old or young.
See, I want to like them, and respect them in all the ways a youngin should, what with all their years of history, wisdom and experiences. And I mostly do, and usually respond to minor irritations with a smile and friendly words. I do, I swear. I have witnesses. And truth be told, I probably get more annoyed with the general population of people between the age 13-18 than the elderly, but that's whole different post.
But get yelled at by enough elderly at the Y (who yell at you for taking too long to pee or showering too close to them or walking too fast up the stairs, and then watch as they roll their eyes, give the hand wave, and shuffle off mumbling something very un-grandmotherly under their breath) and you’re patience would be tested too.
Or not, whatever. Maybe you're better/more understanding than me.
Wow. I seriously hope the Karma police are on a donut break right now, ‘cause I pretty much just locked myself into a future of elderly abuse, bed sores, and children that don’t visit/can’t stand me during my twilight years.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go volunteer at a homeless shelter or newborn unit to eschew my place in hell.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
You girls know what I'm talkin about.
That was the one where the girl has sex for the first time. I'll tell ya what, I can't remember the name of my eight grade homeroom teacher, but I can pretty much read back that book verbatim even to this day. Within my group of girlfriends, that book got more play than...well...I guess it got more play than any of us, which is why we all read it 300 times each.
Ya know... just in case we ever did get some play, then we would know what to do. At least according to Judy Blume.
Sad, though, when I think about it. Real life "action" never did live up to her version.
That is so not what this post is supposed to be about.
Let's jump back a few million steps. Okay. Health. Got it.
So as I am sure bled through my posts, my health has not been so great these last about 10 days. Totally my fault, I messed up, I caught it, took advice and now I am totally back.
In addition to truly stuffing anything not nailed down into my mouth, I have powered successfully through all my workouts this week, and am feeling stronger than ever. I have also rediscovered my long lost love, Mr. Chocolate Milkshake, and he says he missed me too. So we have been meeting for secret love sessions at the Ice Cream store a couple times a week.
He makes me feel so alive, like a kid again.
Amazing what food can do to a body.
It can do three pounds, it what.
Right on my hips.
Not in my chest, which is where it belongs, but no, sadly, it hangs off my hips.
I am also exploring other race-day nutrition options. Now, I know this is not usually recommended six weeks out (holy begeez! six weeks!) but I really really working on getting my electrolytes back up. I tried those pills you drop in the water, and truth be told - not so bad.
I realized today that part of me might just have to wing it out there on the course. I mean, I know generally what works and what doesn't, and what I like and don't, and how much I will need, but I feel like the rest will kind of fall into place.
And I also just realized, after re-reading those last two paragraphs, how boring this post became. Honestly, I just fell asleep reading my own writings on race day nutrition.
This might an approriate to wrap this little ditty up. So let me end this with something funny.
Okay, maybe I'll just end it.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The pee was for my day-long diagnostic donor testing today.
I had a battery of tests that included:
Meeting with dietician
Psychosocial eval (weird being on the other end for once!)
CAT scan of abdomen
10 more vials of blood
The only thing I really have to report about all of this is that my heart rate is somewhat slow, though the tech guy said, "Do you work out?"
I also found out that my brother was admitted to the hospital tonight because he is declining pretty quick. My mom wouldn't say it, but part of me wonders if they will want to move up the kidney transplant before the race, thus taking me out of it. AGAIN.
I am not going to agonize over this until it happens.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Raise of hands of anyone who can open their purse and pull out their own piss.
And if there might, in fact, be someone that can challenge this – let me take it a step further.
Today, I also did my two hour run on the treadmill. Piss collection had already started before I left for the gym, but the jug was safe at home, tucked in the fridge. Next to the salad dressing.
So when the first hour was done, I noticed a…well…fullness in my belly.
It was the piss.
And no jug to put it in.
So I ran through it, the whole next hour wondering what on earth I was going to do with a bladder full of the good stuff and no place to put it.
It was genius.
Two hours hit, I stopped the treadmill, jumped off, ran to the bathroom, poured the rest of my water down the drain and used my empty water bottle.
Once I got home, I put the “collection” in the official jug, tossed the water/piss bottle, and headed to the bike store to replace it.
I then proceeded to leave the jug in my sister's fridge when I was over there this afternoon, which made for a pleasant surprise as she reached for the grapes and a cup of pudding for her afternoon snack.
So yeah, that pretty much sums up Tuesday.
Monday, February 25, 2008
As I drove down the main road leading to the NIU campus, it wasn’t immediately noticeable that something had changed.
But if you looked closely, you could see it in the small things.
The light post banners that read “Forward, Together Forward.”
The signs at the La Tan, liquor store, Subway, or Pizza Hut, all proclaiming their thoughts and prayers for the NIU family.
The red and black balloons that flew from fence posts and mailboxes.
The multitude of students in their red and black attire, from the girls working at Starbucks with red headbands, to the group of four athletes walking across campus in their matching read and black gym suits. I don’t remember seeing a single student in a different color, or without the NIU logo.
On my first day there yesterday, I pulled into campus and parked in my usual Visitor’s parking lot. I walked over to the check-in point for therapists, but got a bit turned around, and ended up face-to-face with five white crosses covered in flowers and signs, representing the five students that were killed. Next to this, four huge billboard-type posters were set up, all covered with words of hope, loss, support and grief by the NIU community. And just beyond that, the yellow police tape marking off the building in which the shooting took place, flapped in the light breeze of the afternoon.
And it was silent.
This shocked me. There were people – students, parents, faculty - milling around, but it was silent.
I found my building, went to orientation, got my assignment for the following day and had dinner.
It wasn’t until the end of the day that I was really able to put my finger on what I was experiencing. And I pinpointed two very distinct feelings on that first day.
The first is discomfort, and the sense of being intrusive.
I feel almost like a voyeur, watching as this unfolds in front of me, like an outsider. This is their community, their grief, and it is towards each other that they will turn for support.
As grief counselors, we are assigned to a classroom or an academic department, and are supposed to act as a supportive presence to the student and staff, if they need to talk or needs information regarding further counseling. We were told to “watch” for individuals that may look like they are struggling, and offer assistance if needed. But tonight, during the Memorial Service, it more like being the Emotion Police, like I was monitoring and surveying the situation for potential problems.
But what I saw was a community supporting itself with its own strength and resilience.
As we were shuttled to dinner, I watched parents drop their kids off at the curbs, as if it were the first day of school all over again. But this time, both the parents and students looked apprehensive, scared. They hugged just a little bit longer on those curbs, and the parents lingered just a little bit longer as their children disappeared into those buildings.
I watched students embracing each other in the light of day, girls with their faces buried in the hooded sweatshirts of their boyfriends. Students standing in front of those white crosses, holding hands, silent. Signs in almost every window of every dorm room, reading “God Bless NIU. We Are The Huskies.”
I thought, “I shouldn’t be seeing this. This is not my grief. This is theirs. They should have their privacy.” I was embarrassed, as if my presence was as unwanted as the plethora of reporters, who literally chase down the kids, asking, “Are you a student here? How are you feeling? What’s it like to be back on campus?”
The second feeling was profound sadness, but not about what I thought. It occurred towards the end of the memorial service, during a slide show of pictures of students from other universities.
What made me so sad was watching these pictures of students from other campuses, especially Virginia Tech, hold prayer vigils, or send their own words of support NIU, proclaiming, “Today, we are all Huskies.” This should not be their reality. Death should not be the common thread that connects them.
I went to college in downtown Chicago, close to the infamous West Side. It was dangerous, to say the least. But 10 years ago, my biggest worry was how to get an A in a class after ditching too many sessions, or making the deadline for my story in the newspaper. I never hesitated to walk into my classroom, never thought twice about where to sit in lecture hall, and never looked over my shoulder as I walked between buildings.
But these students now do. Every time the door to the lecture hall opens, they’ll jump. When a book drops off the desk, their hearts will leap in fear. College is a time for exploring one’s identity, but will they always give a second glance to the kid that looks just a little different, a little unusual, a little outside the norm?
How is that normal? How has it come to this? One of the speakers at the memorial last night said, “Today, we are a little bit older than yesterday…we have lost a little of our youth.” And later on the shuttle with other counselors, I overheard someone quoting another speaker and stating, “Parents send their kids to school to learn, not to die.”
That these words ever had to be spoken is so very wrong.
Today, I was assigned to an academic department in the building that is directly next to Cole Hall. In fact, the office I was in was the one place students ran to when the shootings happened, given that the doors of each building are literally steps away from each other.
I had the honor of talking with students and professors, as well as office workers and grad students, all of whom were there and touched by the events of that day. Some witnessed the students being carried out, some were the actual students that were carried out. The emotions ranged from hope to despair, from sadness to guilt, from resilience to fear. The greatest concern appeared to be safety, both from the students and the professors. Although the gunman took his own life that day, there have been two separate incidents in which hate messages were scrawled on the campus, neither of which were connected to the shootings, but both of which remain unsolved.
So the question in the minds of almost all students remains: Can this happen again?
I can’t say a ton more about what was discussed, but I will say this: If I walked away with anything today, it is that I had the honor of being present with these individuals. The solidarity and strength of the bond that the entire campus now has was astounding. You see it on the news or read it in the paper, but to feel it across campus, across social groups, across ages and races – this community came together in a way I have never seen. It was truly an honor to be welcomed into it, to be accepted into their circle of grief and hope, and to be able to just listen to their stories, their experiences of that day and the subsequent days.
NIU gave me more today than I could have given them.
Last week, Laura said to me, “Life is short.”
And today NIU said, "It goes on."
Sunday, February 24, 2008
I am sort of confused about this fatigued because I ate so well yesterday and my brick was only 3.5 hours, but yet I feel like it was 6 hours.
Oh well. Shower time. My arms are so tired that washing my hair should be a treat.
I will try to write more after my training this afternoon.
Friday, February 22, 2008
You might have missed it on your calenders, but it was there - a day dedicated all to Megan and her well-being.
See, with all the training and hubbub of the last few weeks, there have been some lady things that I have neglected. And let me just say that, no one really needs to see me hanging around the pool in my bathing suit after neglecting, ahem, "things" for the last few weeks.
In fact, it's been a good four weeks since any part of this body has seen the wax lady. I called for an emergency appointment, and was squeezed in.
Now, I love being a girl, but yet I hate it. One of the times I most hate it is when I find myself laying half naked in a tiny room while my pal, Yolanda, stands over me with hot wax dripping of the end of a tongue depressor, and deciding with furrowed brow how I should position my legs so she can best attack "the problem."
Numbers alway seem to be involved in this hair-removal strategy, like "Put your right leg in a figure four" or "get on all fours," or "hold this back like a seven" or "gimme a high five." Weird.
And let me say that, for today, it was not, in fact, the actual ripping of the hair out of my body that made me howl in pain. No, oddly enough, the stripped hair attached to the hot wax off my naked parts was not all that bad today (someone once said that if you get the bikini wax often enough, it gets easier - And I am fairly certain that the person was probably a man with a porn addiction and a wife with a wax phobia and some uncontrollable "nether regions.")
Today, the main issue was the temperature of the wax itself. At one point, it was so hot, the smell of burning flesh overtook the room, and the smoke stung my eyes. I finally turned to my girl and I said, "Listen, Yolanda. I do love ya, and hell, I give you credit for be willing to stick your face down in the parts that I only touch with a washcloth, 'cause that's really got to suck, no matter how much you charge for this. And despite the pain you inflict upon me every three to four weeks, I would like to continue coming to see you so you can take care of my female business...however, if you don't turn down the heat on that bowl of pink wax soup over there, you will burn the crap out of my lady parts, thus forcing me to regrow all the hair to cover the deformaties you are leaving behind. And then I will be forced to sue you for ruining my hoo-ha."
She just chuckled in her little Yolanda way, shook her head as if to say, "This girl is one crazy ass bitch," and started blowing on the wax before applying.
And no, it did not help.
So after I hobbled out of there, holding onto my self like a 5-year-old in need of a bathroom break, I treated myself to a milkshake. I figured that, given the current state of affairs with my body, a milkshake would hit the spot and hit me up with calories so I can do that brick tomorrow. And it did, for like five gulps. And then it started to bubble back up into my throat and I had to dump it down the sink.
Is it weird to cry when a chocolate flows down the drain?
No? Huh. Maybe it's just PMS then.
Holy crap, did this post just get off track.
Where was I?
Oh, self-care. Right.
Yeah, so I also got a massage.
Odd, I was naked for that too.
I guess in hindsight, this was kind of a weird naked day.
And I just realized I have absolutely nothing else to say about that.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
It might take me but a minute to get to the point of why I did it, so hang in there with me.
See, the Wall of Shame consisted mostly of missed swims. I will ride my bike 'til next Tuesday, or put my running shoes on any time of day and jump on the treamill or hit the path. But I hate swimming. Hate it, hate it.
I hate it because I am not good at it. I hate it because everytime I get in that freezing water, I worry that I am not fast enough, or my stroke is not effecient enough, or that my butt is not toned enough and it makes my bathing suit creep up the crack.
I hate it because it shows me all my imperfections.
And I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect.
I dreaded today's swim. It's freezing here, I didn't want to get back in my car, the gym would be packed...all the reasons I usually use to talk myself out of it. But at some point, I sucked it up, grabbed my bag and my little swim workout index card and went.
When I got there, all lanes were taken. And we all know how much I hate sharing a lane. I almost turned around and went back to the locker room, but a nice woman invited me into hers, so I took it.
As I kicked off my flip flops, I looked at my card, trying to remember all the different drills. But then, standing on the pool side, something clicked. Maybe it was my coach's voice that told me yesterday that missing a workout is not the end of the world, or maybe it was just my own voice, telling me that, hey, making it here today is a victory in itself.
Whatever it was, I slipped the card back into my swim bag. And I just jumped in. No lollygagging on the edge, flopping my legs in the water, fighting with myself about "Oh, it's too cold" or "Oh, I don't want to be here." I just jumped in.
And I swam.
I didn't count the laps, and I didn't look at the clock. Somewhere in the span of about one minute, I decided that I was going to swim how I felt, and that I had to just "be okay" with it.
So I did. I just swam.
There were some lengths that were hard, when I truly felt like I was sinking. This time though, instead of berating myself with "You've been doing this for HOW long and you still suck?!" I just tucked my head down and kept trying. As I swam, I would think about my stroke, and instead of trying to make it perfect, I just tried to do better.
And then there were the laps that were easy, and I glided. My elbows were high, my hips rotated, my catch was smooth. And I didn't take those laps for granted, or expect that the next ones should be as easy. I took each lap for itself - maybe it would be good, and maybe it would not.
But I stopped trying to be perfect. I started trying to be better.
Better to my body by not pushing through a long swim when I knew I was still weak, and better to my mind for even having the strength to show up.
And then I stopped when I felt like it. I stopped when I didn't want to swim anymore.
I am sure I didn't make the total yardage that was on my schedule, but I actually didn't care. I didn't care because I didn't see my "imperfect" swim as a sign of weakness. I actually saw it as taking care of myself.
Crazy - when I got out of the pool, time didn't stop, the world didn't crumble, I didn't collapse.
The world did not, in fact, end because the swim, and I, were less-than-perfect.
I know I am tough at this point. I know that I have mentally and physically battled through some really grueling workouts, and that I am not a quitter. I have run for 90 minutes with blisters bleeding through my shoes. I have run in sub zero weather and pouring rain. I have pedaled through trainer rides for hours on end and saddle sores of unimaginable proportions. I have done mind numbing treadmill runs. I have woken up at 430am to go to the pool or run or ride.
I just saw this shortened workout as a sign that I know when to say when, for my health and my sanity.
And I started to accept that not being the best swimmer is okay. That for today, for right now, just plain swimming is good enough.
So I took down the Wall of Shame because there is no shame in missing a workout. There's no shame in shortening it when you just need a break. There's no shame in being human, and sometimes letting life get in the way. And there is no shame in not being perfect.
Ironman training sure is teaching me a lot about myself.
When he called last night, he expalined what is happening to my body - that when the body eats up all the carbs and protiens, it begins to attack the muscles, which is why I feel so fatigued all the time.
He gave me a ton of recommendations outside of solid food (of course, not dismissing the importance of solid foods), which I am working on obtaining today. Ensure, protien powder, etc.
We talked about the training schedule, especially this weekend's five hour trainer ride. He explained that his approach to my training this year has been in an effort to save my back and knees, so he has had me an alternating weeks of long run versus long brick, rather then put them both in the same week, as a traditional build program.
I probably totally lost you or bored you to death with that technical stuff. I get a little lost sometimes too.
Basically, he acknoweldged that, with this pattern, I have never had an actual "recovery" week. I have had some shorter workouts, sure, but never a solid week of short workouts. While that has served the purpose of keeping the body parts safe, it has also contributed to the fatigue.
So given the NIU trip on Sunday and the current state of my depletion, we agreed that we would use the rest of this week as recovery, so that my body can catch up. The trainer ride was cut to three hours (so very doable) and he said not to try to make up the lost long run. Rather, we are back on track next week, and hopefully on a body that's not eating itself.
So I am using these next few workouts - today's swim and bike, tomorrow's brick- as more maintainence, rather then building workouts. He pointed out that, even with the race seven weeks away (!), we still have time, and that I have already built enough base to step back.
So as long as one foot is in front of the other, I am still moving forward.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
I often talk about the fact that I work for the child welfare department, who is my ultimate employer. However, my program is actually contracted through Northern Illinois University (NIU). While I do not visit the campus regularly except for the random meetings, my supervisor and the program director's offices are in the Psychology building on the campus, and both were there the day of the shootings.
This morning, I received a call from one of the child welfare administrators, asking if I would volunteer to be a trauma counselor when the students return on Monday. I would have to attend training all day Sunday, and then stay on campus Monday and Tuesday to provide counseling to students that want it.
I said yes, of course.
It's kinda weird. Not so sure how I feel about it yet.
Yeah, that Megan's gone. Or at least she's taking a bit of a vacation.
Thanks for hanging in there and dealing with her while she visited.
Now back to the regular scheduled programming.
I woke up at 3AM this morning to do my long run. Actually, the alarm was set for 4am, but I was awoken by phone call an hour earlier than expected, so 3 it was.
This should have been my first clue that things would not work in my favor today (hold on, this is not a downer post - I said that Megan was on vacation - hang in there, it gets better).
I got out of my house by 430 (good), prompty fell on the ice outside my front door (bad), considered calling it a day right then but instead dusted myself off (good), got in the car and realized I forgot the IPod (bad) but the ultimately made it to the gym by 5 (excellent!)
The run was to be 2hour and 45 minutes. At about 30 miunutes, my heart rate skyrocketed. I tried to manage it - to no avail. Kept going, but by 1 hour 15 minutes, I was beaten.
I worked it out in my head that I would just switch this run with Friday's run, and try it then. The flip side is that it should be warmer, so perhaps I can take it to the streets.
Well, let's see...According to my doctor:
Megan is compeltely depleted of electrolytes.
Megan has no magnesium or potassium.
Megan thought she knew more than everyone else and stop taking her supplements.
Megan needs to eat more than coffee, water, bananas, and the occasional Go Lean bar and bowl fo cereal. For the day.
Megan needs to stop whining about having no appitite and choke down whatever she can, even if she wants to hurl.
Megan need to have more salt.
Megan needs to drink Ensure.
Megan is basically an idiot who is throwing away two years of training cause she fell into the pitty pot and couldn't find her way out until yesterday. And boy was it stinky down there...
The doctor also said that the complete depletion state I am in is contributing to my muscle reactions, my calves stiffening, and my hip locking.
So I am back on the supplements, salt water and whole bunch of other stuff that should set me right.
This is all my fault. I take total ownership of this. I knew better, but I let myself get all worked up into a frenzy, all anxious and stressed, and it took a toll on the eating and sleeping. Now here I am, trying to be reactive rather than proactive, and that's not really the place you want to be in so close to the race.
Oh, and this weekend marks the one year anniversery of my back injury. This time last year, I got taken out of the race. And here I am, effing around with this stuff.
I should kick my own ass.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We buy a piece of property and build a house. We fill this house with all the things we love – all the things that make us feel good, and warm, and secure. We feel comforted and safe by the containment of the four walls. We bask in the laughter and the love of the people we allow inside these walls.
However, we discover later, that house was built on sand. And when the house starts to sink and takes everything we know and love with it, we panic. We feel helpless to stop the destruction.
And then when you least expect it, neighbors come rushing with stilts and cement. They do not shake their heads in disdain, and they do not say “I told you so.”
No, they help you solidify that foundation. They help you save that house. And you are amazed, because you never even knew you had neighbors.
My lesson learned today is that you never know who these neighbors are or how much strength they will give you if you don’t ask. And that maybe that house will still sink, but at least it gave you a chance to meet them.
And then maybe they will stick around to help you build a new one.
Monday, February 18, 2008
1. As if my program hasn't taken enough hits as it is of late, what with all the threats of a shutdown, my Supervisor's meeting this morning yeilded this nugget of information: Due to the lack of a state budget (which should have been signed last summer, mind you), my last paycheck will be February 29th. Yup, apparently child welfare is not on the list of state priorities at the moment, or really any moment in the last 10 months. So funding is gone, and so is my income.
2. Still haven't done my taxes.
3. I would complain about the weather here, but why bother at this point. This has been, by far, the worst winter in recent memory, with the record snowfall and freezing temps. To say it is cold here today is an understatement. I wouldn't really care all that much, given my stock pile of fleece pullovers, but the windchill on Wednesday means a 2:45 treadmill run. Again.
4. My sister is having a really tough time with this weekend's marathon performance. I am not sure how to help her with this, and maybe it's not my place, and maybe she doesn't want my help. But it breaks my heart to watch her be so disappointed with herself when she has nothing to disappointed about.
5. My donor testing has been moved to the 27th, and it sounds like the entire battery of tests will be completed all in one day. One very, very long day.
6. I blew two swims last week, and frankly feel that making the pool this week will be a struggle. I can barely warm up in my apartment, much less don a swimsuit and jump into some freezing water. I have a five-hour trainer ride this weekend, which I am stressing about, even though I have already done a handful of 4.5 hour rides. Why this is freaking me out I don't know. This race is in less than eight weeks. The pressure is mounting to suffocating proportions at this point.
Some days I wonder if I will crack under the pressure of all that I am biting off (and I fully acknowledge that this is all of my own doing). I have had some anxiety in the past about this race or whatever, and for the most part, it's been quieted. But some days, I just feel like I will break.
For whatever reason, this race seems much larger than anything else I have done, including my doctoral dissertation, and THAT really sucked. Maybe it's because I need to be "on" both physically and mentally, or maybe because it makes me confront all my demons on a daily basis - eating, self-esteem, and, most of all, fear of failure.
And that fear is always there. Some days this fear makes me want to stay in bed, but I don't - I keep getting up and facing it. But it's there.
Always effing there.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
The race consisted of 26 1-mile loops, and the course was steps outside of our hotel. The race started in pouring rain, heavy winds and freezing cold.
Devin ran a blistering 19 miles, but the wind and her nutrition would compromise her final miles and her ultimate goal of qualifying. She finished in 3:48, just over her needed qualifying time.
However, Devin placed THIRD in her age group. THIRD!!!!!!!
That is the race in summary. However, I have a few thoughts I wanted to share (you know I do - I always have something to say!)
I had the honor of running with Devin for the last three and a half miles. By that point, she had dug about as deep as she could to pull out whatever she had left. I am not sure at what point she realized she did not make the cut, but it didn't matter - she kept going. In those miles I ran next to her, she spoke not one word. She pulled her arms in close, held her head high, set her eyes ahead, and plodded along. What she was thinking, I may never know. But what I did know is that she left it out there, that she did everything she could to meet the goal she set, and she finished. That, despite feeling the worst pain she has ever felt, she finished her 26 loops.
Devin never once quit. Devin never quits. Devin never looked at that clock and thought, "Eff it, it's over, I am done." Just like everything else she does in her life, she saw it through to the end.
At about Mile 25, I looked over at her and I knew she was struggling. I would have given anything at that point to strap her to my back and carry her home. I felt helpless, so I just keep talking, joking, even singing "Thunder Road" by Bruce Springsteen. I told her small steps, high cadence, I told her she was stronger than the wind, I told her she was toughest person I knew. I didn't tell her I loved her, but I hoped she knew it.
And when I left her at that final 1/4 mile before the finish, I told her that I was proud of her. It was all I could to do to hold back my tears, but it wasn't because I was sad. In fact, I was so bursting with pride that she let me join her, that she fought it out, and that she never once let the race break her.
And that I can call this woman my sister is the biggest honor I have.
In eight weeks from today, I hope that I can attack my own race with the same intensity and focus and strength that Devin put out there today. I hope that, no matter what is thrown at me that day, that I will overcome it. I hope that my family will watch me with the same pride as I had today, and that they will walk away knowing that I left it all on the road.
Like many things in life - racing, relationships, work- we don't always know how things are going to turn out. Sometimes all we can do is set goals, try our best, and hope for the best. For me, the best I can do is put all my heart into these aspects of my life, and then walk away knowing I did what I could. I know life isn't easy - I don't expect it to be - but I know that, so far, I have been able to take on and over "the difficult." Do I overanalyze my life? Absolutely (have you read my blog?!?!) But beyond the obsessive compulsiveness it might present as, this need to look so deeply at things, to me, is my way of showing how much I truly care about that issue.
If I didn't care, I wouldn't waste my time.
And like Devin's race, the things in my life may not always work out how I had hoped. Sometimes, they work out better, and sometimes not at all. But if I can say anything about myself, it's that I never walk away leaving stones unturned. If I truly love something or someone, I give my heart, my energy, my being to making it the best it can be.
So if things don't work out how I hope for them, then I can be at peace knowing at least I took that risk. For Devin, she may not have qualified, but she found out something about herself today, she never quit, and she came in third for her age group. She learned a lot of lessons on the course, some race-related (like nutrition), and some personal (like how to run through the worst pain she has ever known).
For me, the multitude of life issues I have on my plate will all ultimately teach me something, even if they do not work out as I hope. Does that thought break my heart? Absolutely. Even writing out the words "do not work out" squeezes my heart. Sometimes I can barely breathe with the thought of certain things not developing into what I believe they can be – but I have the utmost faith in things working. However, I can only do my part, and you can bet I will do it to the best of my abilities.
Friday, February 15, 2008
In all the hub-bub of this last week, I have been sadly neglectful of one of the biggest events in the family - my sister Devin is running her Boston-qualifying marathon on Sunday!
She is already out there in Ohio, while my other sister Ellen, my mom, and I are leaving in the morning. The race itself is 26 loops (one mile each in distance) around basically buildings. 26 loops!!!!! It'll be cold, but hopefully not snowing.
For those of you that don't know Devin, she is one of the most dedicated, intense, focused and goal-oriented people I know. Her training for this race has been nothing short of astounding - I'm talking about multiple 90-180 minute treadmill runs several times a week. It's been super grueling, but she hung in there and is ready to race. She's a marathon superstar, with four under her belt at this point - but she basically had to cut about 30 minutes off her PR, and has only been training for 16 weeks.
I am so overwhelmingly proud of what she is trying to accomplish, and I am crazy excited to be out there this weekend. I have all the confidence in the world in her, and I know she'll do it.
Oh, and did I mention that she is trying to qualify for this year's Boston? Yeah, that would be the one in about nine weeks, and if you're counting, it's the weekend after Ironman.
Two marathons in two months? Geesh.
But that's Devin - there's nothing she can't do.
Love ya, kid. You make me proud to be your sister.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
I was tested today for my donor status. At this point, there’s not a whole lot to tell– they took a sample of my urine, and 11 (!) vials of my blood. The donor coordinator talked to me for a while, explained the whole procedure and a bunch of other stuff I won’t bore you with. Then they had me meet with the surgeon, “Dr. O.”
Dr. O is himself a marathon runner, not to mention about 38 and well, let’s just say good looking. He spent about 30 minutes talking to me about the surgery, and then he got to the part about risk.
All told, this is a fairly easy surgery, but, he said, as with every surgery comes risk, including death. Uh, okay. I asked for the option of getting the surgery where death wasn’t included.
Silence. Blank stare. I don’t think he got the joke.
Cute or not, he’s still a doctor and they’re not really known for their social skills.
Anyhoo, he also talked about all the things that could happen if a person only has one kidney. He said that we can function just like people that have two, but that if something were to happen, like cancer or getting in a car accident where your kidney is damaged, I would essentially be screwed. He read down this list of all the things that could happen to me, and at the end said, “So this comes with a certain degree of risk. You have to be willing to take that risk.”
What he said was something I have been thinking about a lot lately - what if something happens to me down the road, and I end up being the one who needs a kidney? What if one of my other family members needs one? What if….? The list goes on and on. But the reality is I never know what’s going to happen in the future – these things may NEVER happen to me – but that’s the risk I take.
Ironman is the same. With Ironman, there is so much invested – more than I could have comprehended when I signed up – but yet there are so many variables that you can’t control. There’s so much risk involved in committing an entire year (or two) to something, only to have it possibly ripped away with a herniated disk, or torn cartilage, or bonking on race day. Last year, I jumped in, challenged myself to do something I actually never really thought I could do, and then got hurt so close to the race. That was the risk I took, and at the time, I thought I lost.
It took a couple weeks, but I finally accepted that I didn’t lose – I gained a whole aspect of training that I didn’t have before – I gained a whole extra year of developing my body so I would be even stronger this time around. I gained a greater focus and determination, and most of all, appreciation for this event. I gained respect for the 140.6 miles I would take on – I don’t know if I had that last year.
The most obvious place this happens is in relationships. A friend of mine recently started a relationship with a woman, and is experiencing all the nerves and insecurities that go along with it. It’s been a while since he’s been in a relationship, and he really likes this woman, so he feels pretty vulnerable right now – worried that he’s going to get hurt, she won’t reciprocate his feelings, etc.
During one of our conversations, he said, “It’s just not worth it.”
There is always the risk that someone might not reciprocate in the beginning, just as your feelings start to grow. Or worse - that you do jump in and bathe in all the love and attention and affection that is showered on you, and allow yourself to be vulnerable and open and loved and giving back in return – Only to have someone stop loving you later, once you have already given over all your emotions. Is that pain of having someone fall out of love with you worth the risk of loving at all? What do you do with all those big plans, hopes and dreams? How do you learn to live and love again so freely, when you know that it might be taken away again? How do you RECOVER and RESTART?
I like to think that the risk is worth it. Just like Ironman, when relationships go south, you can still walk away learning something from them. The lessons are impossible to see through the pain of a break-up, the devastation of having someone lose interest or make you less of a priority or (the worst) stop loving you – but with enough time and space, the lessons become clearer. I have said before that relationships are like looking in the mirror – they reveal all of our deepest interpersonal flaws and beauty. We need then to help us figure out what works and what needs to be fixed. Just like the stray gray hair we might see in the mirror, a relationship can show us the insecurities, fears, and scars of our psyches. If there is the potential for self-growth, then I would like to believe that the risk is worth it.
Getting back to the donor thing – Dr. O concluded our time together by saying, “Your brother is very sick, and the odds of his new pancreas functioning in the absence of healthy kidneys is slim, meaning he will go on dialysis, and his chance of survival is even slimmer. So this isn’t about making someone else’s life comfortable – this is about saving his life.”
Before he said that, I didn’t really know how sick my brother was, so I didn’t think about it like that before – I thought I was just sort of helping out.
So I told him, “Yes, this is a risk worth taking.”
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
I know, I know - it's fuel, I need it, blah, blah...but some days, choking down a turkey sandwich takes about all the stomach energy I can muster.
Now, don't get me wrong - I can power down some chow with the best of them. Things can get really ugly when there's a bag of movie theatre popcorn or some cake in front of me. Like, parents-sheild-your-small-children-type ugly. And pasta, hot pretzels, Tostidos Lime Chips, fruit, chili or sushi? Lemme at it.
But I am noticing that some days, I just don't feel like eating. My stomach feels clenched and my gag reflex is in full force. It's like sleeping - there are spans of days where I just go and go, when my body just doesn't want to cooperate and sleep.
I noticed that this is really a problem when I went to the store today, and walked past the candy isle - my first thought was "Oh candy!" But then I fast forwarded to the image of me binging on a box of Mike n Ikes or a JuJu Bees, and I almost threw up on the Milk Duds I was standing in front of.
Who have I become?!?!?!?
So food is my enemy today. Maybe I will kiss and make up with it tomorrow.
P.S. If I have to see that damn "What is Love" Pepsi commercial one more time, I am going to throw the tv out the window.
P.S.S. And why does the media call the deaths of people mike Brad Renfo or Anna Nicole Smith "tragic?" What the hell is tragic about the death of a drug addicts? I know that's not nice of a psychologist to say, but I'll tell you what's tragic - adults locking their mentally and physically disabled kids in cages 24/7 for 4 years, or parents videotaping themselves having sex with their toddler children. Now that's tragic. And yes, those are true stories. Very true, and very, very tragic.
Give me an effing break.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Geesh, this game is hard.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
5.25 hours in the bank.
4.5 on the trainer, 45 on the treadmill.
The run should have been 30 minutes, but I felt good so I kept going. I was going to try and push for 30 minutes, but decided after the additional 15, I should just keep it safe. If my coach wanted me to run for an hour, he would have said an hour. So instead, I ran 45 minutes.
Enough boring training talk. I am trying to post this video I stole from Krissy, but haven't figured it out yet. Hopefully I will by the time the race rolls around.
The sleep was not great - in fact, it was riddled with Ironman nightmares (not even kidding - like waking up late and then not having everything, and then when I get there, all the athletes are getting in the water, and I can't even find transition and no one would help me and I had nothing organized and no wetsuit and no nutrition - augh - I can't relive it any further than that). Nonetheless, I woke up several times SOAKED through my clothes and sheets. With sweat, no pee. It was so uncomfortable.
So 830am it was. So much for getting on my trainer by 8.
Speaking of, I have have half a cup of coffee left to down, and then date with a hunk of black and yellow metal, and the third season of Rescue Me.
Oh, and p.s. - I woke up to a temp of NEGATIVE 5 this morning.
See ya on the other side of the brick.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
And I am B.E.A.T.
It is Saturday night, about 6pm, and I am about to shove some salmon into my mouth so I can go back to bed and save some energy for my 5 hour brick tomorrow (4.5 on the trainer, 30 minute run). The muscle fatigue is so deep today that, this afternoon, I was craving an apple but didn't want to eat it because it would have required too much energy to chew. I chose, instead, a banana.
In all the months so far, this is about as bad as it's been.
I am truly stuggling to move right now. But I am not sore. Just unfathomably fatigued.
It's days like this I wish my mom lived with me. She would take care of me, make me chicken soup, give me tea and rub my back.
I just looked up at the weather channel and it's 71 degrees in Phoenix right now. It's snowing and -3 degrees here. NEGATIVE THREE.
That has nothing to do with nothing. I'm just saying. But seriously, come on with this weather.
(Imagine that said in my bestest whiney voice - frankly, imagine this whole post in the same voice)
As I said weeks ago:
I chose this, I chose this, I chose this....
Friday, February 8, 2008
The reason I ask this hypothetical question is because next week I will be tested to be a potential kidney donor for my brother. It looks like I am a good candidate, especially due to my lack of medical issues, healthy lifestyle, and matching blood type.
I spoke with the donor coordinator today, and it sounds like the procedure (should it happen) is fairly simple, especially these days. She said a whole bunch of technical medical stuff I didn't really understand, but mostly because I was listening for things like "how much pain" and "recovery time." I was like, "Yo, let's cut to the chase - what kind of pain meds we talking about here?"
Again, just kidding - I couldn't even stomach the Vicodin they gave me after my knee surgery...so if you know anyone willing to take my stash off my hands...
My street cred is just disappearing by the word...
But seriously, we all know by now I am no fan of the pain. AT. ALL.
But I guess there's not a whole lot of pain. Sounds like there are four small incisions, minimal pain, and I will be out of the hospital in two days. The coordinator said I can't do anything really intensive for about three months post operation, and of course I immediatly think, "But what about my racing season?" and start counting the months from between April (when the surgery would be) and July (when my next race is).
Then I thought, "You are a selfish ass. Shut up."
The coordinator also said that my brother is holding up pretty well after his pancreas transplant a couple months ago, and that they would be willing to wait until after IM to do the transplant.
So hey, we all win.
Fingers crossed I am a match.
I'll let ya know what happens....
Thursday, February 7, 2008
But before I do, I just got off my trainer and was taking a shower (yet another place where most of my best thinking is done) and it occurred to me: Who really cares to read a rundown of your week? And then I thought: I don't know, but since this is kinda like my journal (if I wrote in a journal), I get to write what I feel like, and maybe I just feel like recording it for recording sake.
1. BLIND LEADING THE BURNED OUT - I got huge props at work this week from my boss. He's not really one to hand out compliments, so it meant a lot. But then the very next day, we had an hour long argument about how to handle a situation, ending with him basically telling me I was wrong, and that me and the other supervisors were trying to push for something that would ultimately be "self destructive."
The point of the argument? Me and the supervisors are trying to have a "process" group for our workers so that they can voice their concerns, feelings, and opinions about the rush and severity of the cases recently (we have a lot of workers wanting to quit, getting burned out, crying all the time, and just overwhelmed because the case are just so many and so sick). By definition, my job is to mediate these things, be the go-between with the workers and our boss to make sure the cases go smoothly, including keeping the workers happy and cared for. So part of my job is to be like a grown-up cheerleader. But theraputically. But for some reason, my boss thinks acknowledging their feelings and supporting them within the group is "self destructive" and "can only turn out negative." He says we should "have parties where we play games like Charades" to celebrate their success.
But apparently workers having chronic breakdowns is not negative. So let's just avert our eyes and carry on. Lemme ask you this: If you went to therapy, and you told your therapist, "Hey listen, I have been really stressed out, and feeling kind depressed and just want to quit the wolrd." And he said, "I know! You should have a party! And play Hopscotch!" Would you pay for that shit? You better not.
2. JET PLANE - I bought my plane ticket for AZ. I was reluctant to say anything or even do it, because last year I got injured about two weeks after I bought my ticket. And how odd - it's two weeks away from the anniversery of the injury. Maybe I already said too much...
3. ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID....I picked up my bridesmaid dress for my brother Nolan's wedding. I must say, it is quite beautiful. It is strapless, black, and floorlength, with a champagne colored sash around the middle. The only problem? The dress came from Tennessee, and had to be ordered about three months ago, hence with my measurements of three months ago (in the beginning of IM training). When I tried it on today, it promptly fell off. Literally. While this might have to do with the weight loss from training, I am sure this might also have to do with the fact that I measured myself with a metal tapemeasure I borrowed from the construction guys in my building, so perhaps the accuracy of those numbers might have been a wee bit off. In any case, my mom and I got a good laugh off it, and decided that I either need a tailor, or I'll be the life of the party.
4. THE ICE QUEEN - It took three guys to get my car out of the parking space today. Three. See, the problem was that we got snow, but before that, we got about three inches of slush, that promptly froze into ice, thus making my street a thick slick of of ice, the likes of which I have never seen in all my days in Chicago. Pure ice, for blocks.
So my car was essentially frozen in. The first guy dug his shovel in, raised it up, and snapped it in half. So much for that. The second guy came over, looked at the wheels, shrugged his shoulders, and then told me to go boil some water. Ass. The third guy, a 60-year-old man from across the street, came over with his metal ditch digger, chopped up the ice, then proceeded to push my car out of the space. Literally pushed it out.
I was like, "Hey, you're mightly strong for an old man," to which he responded with a three-tooth smile, waved off my attempt to pay him with what I had in my pocket (3 dollars for Starbucks, a pen, an empty Orbit box, and an old gas station reciept), mumbled something in a foreign language, then ran back across the street to finish what he was originally doing. So I just drove away, fishtailing down the street and whispering Hail Mary's all the way downtown.
5. IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK - And finally, ladies and gentlemen, there have been no more mice sightings since the fiasco of yesterday. Although I will admit that, as I was yet again forcing myself to sleep last night, every creek and crack in the walls made me shoot up. On my bed, not like with a needle.
6. FINAL FINALLY- again, please excuse any hellacious spelling errors throughout this and the last several posts. For some reasons, my spell check is boycotting me (obviously from overuse) and we all know that I spell like a first grader.
Maybe in tonight's state of awakeness I will come up with some life altering post.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
He didn't leave a name, but he was small, brown, furry and had a long tail. He hung out by the fridge, had a seizure, and the proceeded to die.
After I threw up on myself, I frantically called the front desk, and had them clean the carnage.
The maintence man said that he probably came in from the outside (really? no kidding? thanks for that insight), especially since they are doing a ton of renovation on my building and are putting a ceiling in the hallway right now. He assured me that there were no more, that there would be no more, and that this was isolated.
Yeah, that reassurance helped NONE.
So for now, I am refusing to leave my bed, eat, or even go to the bathroom.
I think I am going to throw up again.
Most of my training is done in the afternoons or evenings, and I have been really fortunate that my last two jobs have been really flexible and allow me to work around my training.
But given my ongoing difficulty with sleep, I find myself often awake early in the morning with nothing to do except, well, train. So I will go to the gym, get a run or a swim in, or jump on my trainer in my house.
This morning, thanks to Mother Nature's ongoing gifts of sleet, snow and rain, I was forced to do my 2.5 hour run on a treadmill. Yeah, you read that right - two and a half hours. On a treadmill. That broke my own record of 2:15, set just a while back.
The first two hours were fine, but that last 30 minutes were like running up the stairs of the Sears Tower with dumb bells attached to my ankles and bonfires behind my kneecaps. My heart rate for some reason skyrocketted and refused to come down, so breathing also became difficult.
But I got it done. That is all. No more to that story.
But 2.5 hours is a lot of time to do some thinking. And here is what occupied me for all that time:
1. Seriously, what is up with John McCain's wife? Just how does a 106 year old man land a 30 year old woman? And moreso, does anyone else think she looks a bit, well, plastic-y? She has this whole creepy, "I used to be a child beauty pagent star" thing going on. Weird.
2. I am really grateful for the recent support of friends, family and bloggers to my posts about anxiety. I have received the nicest emails and comments of support, and I really just wanted to say thanks. In the same way, I have also been working through some personal stuff, and have been really blessed by the insight and support of a fellow blogger. Your emails are invaluable. I can't say thank you enough.
3. Having said that, I had two really good face-to-face conversations yesterday with two guys that are recent Ironman finishers - one at my pool (after my longest swim yet) and one in my neighborhood. Much in the same way as you all have been supportive, these conversations have really boosted my esteem about my ability (especially the compliments about my swimming!), and soothed my freak-outs about the race (perhaps my trouble sleeping has to do the intensity of the training -never thought about that!) Even a few words go a long way, so thanks guys.
4. I really don't understand why people pass gas in the gym when on the treadmill. Gyms are not particularly known for their stellar cooling systems and superb ventilation, so when someone drops a stinky, it lingers. For a really long time. When you are running on the treadmill in front of me and you decide that excusing yourself for two minutes to go to the bathroom ('cause when you have such deathly gas, it's usually a sign you have to go poop - just a piece of free advice) is simply too much effort, and instead you just lay one down for the rest of the patrons to breathe in, I will stab you in the back of your neck with my eye daggers. Sure, you may not know I am doing this, but maybe one day, just one day, you will feel my scorn.
5. It's snowing here again. Again.
So I need to go change the ice on my knees now and get my butt to the office. So I am going to sign off. It's going to be a long day, but at least the run is already out of the way.
Yay for me.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Me: Yeah, I know, little man. I am really sorry. I talked to your mom and told her I was going to be in Miami that day. But I heard you all had lots of fun!
BN: Huh. Fun. Yeah, if being blown off by your favorite aunt counts as fun, then yeah, it was a total blast.
Me: Oh, don't be like that. I did call - in fact I called your mom while you were at the airport on the actual day of your birthday.
BN: Funny, she didn't give me the message. But that might have been because she loased me up with Baby Tylenol to get on that damn plane.
Me: Hee hee. But ya had a nice nap, yeah?
BN: Hey! No jokes here! There's this whole matter of a present that needs to be addressed. And when might I be expecting that? Perhaps by my next birthday?
Me: Yeah, you got me there. I guess I have been really busy with all this training and traveling and work that I didn't get around to it.
BN: Didn't get around to it?!?!?! Lemme ask you something, Auntie Megan. How many nephews do you have?
BN: One. That's right. ONE. So how hard is it to squeeze in some retail therapy for your one and only nephew. My mommy does it everyday - she says she NEEDS it, and I've gone with her - I know it's not that hard to shop. Nobody else forgot...
Me: You're right. I messed up. Can I make it up to you?
BN: Grrrr. But now that you mentioned it, I have been eyeing that Tonka Dump Truck and Big Wheel. Yeah, I know I can't use it yet, but just like my mommy, I like to be the first kid on the block with EVERYTHING. CAn you work on it?
Me: I can, I think that's doable.
BN: Then all is forgiven...until next year. Then the stakes get doubled.
BN: Well, I gotta go now, Auntie Megan. There's a whole lotta snow out there I need to get to eatin!
Me: Play on, Player!
Monday, February 4, 2008
So here I am, it's midnight here, and although I was about to go to bed about two hours ago, I find myself doing a little Ironman Arizona web research.
Someone seriously should come and confiscate my computer.
Because I stumbled upon a site written by a guy who has done like 29 Ironman races.
Psychoooo... (read: I am in jealous awe)
But with all that experience comes a crap load of wisdom, especially about the IM AZ course. And of course, I devoured every word he said.
Extreme paranoia, tears shed, some re-grouping, and then return to extreme paranoia.
The upshot is that he basically is like, "Yo newbies, chill the eff out and you'll be fine." He literally lays out every step of the process, from pre-race traveling and packing to crossing the finish line, and everything in between. So while I was really looking for some insight into the course, I got a whole lot more.
He has some really good advice on how to line up for the swim in the yucky brown water, how to shake your head from the water-bobbing once in transition, what the bike course holds and how to manage your engery and liquids, and most importantly, what and how to pack nutrition (by far my weakest area, just ask my distended gut from yesterday's brick). He talked about how to pack the bike up and tape things to your bars, and keep a film tube of salt tablets and ibuprophen.
I know to most of you who have already done this race, this stuff might sound like, "Yeah no kidding." But seriously, I didn't know some of this stuff.
And while this was all good and fine on the Educating Myself front, the other side of this is "How the eff am I going to remember this all? For crying out loud, I can barely remember to brush my hair once a week, and now I gotta remember Co2 cartridges can't go on an airplane?!?!"
Hence, the paranoia-slash-tears.
I talked about this in a recent post - the fear, the anxiety - but it was mostly about my physical ability. Right now, I feel fine with that (but there's always tomorrow and my insecurities don't EVER take vacations). I am coming to terms with the fact that, yeah, it's gonna hurt, and hurt bad, like no other I have ever exprienced. But for someone who has to check eight times if the coffee pot is off before she leaves the house but still manages to forget the hair straightener is on for, like, two days - keeping all this stuff straight is making my head spin.
This is a whole different kind of anxiety.
What the heck have I gotten myself into?
I can just see myself now, standing in the bedroom, 430 am race morning, pounding coffee while stuffing a banana in my mouth and panicking because I can't find my Mocha GUs, or my socks have decided to elope with my sunglasses (though I wouldn't blame them - my feet can get stinky, being in those running shoes all the time), the sunscreen exploded or the pins are missing from my bib number.
Okay, I need to put myself in a corner and take a time-out. Breathe, Megan, breathe.
Suddenly, it's like a lamaze class over in my apartment.
Funny, that makes me wonder if having a baby might have just been easier.
Maybe my mother was right....
God, I despise winter.
My nagging sore throat continues to nag, and my body feels like it got steam rolled today. Funny how sometimes I can walk away from long bricks with no issues, but then other ones literally incapacitate me for entire days.
So that's it.
Another Monday in the can.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Me: UGH! These last 30 minutes are impossible! I just want to get off this thing!
Him: I don't want to hear that. It's only 30 minutes more. You've sat on that thing for 4 1/2 hours before. It's more in your head than your legs now.
Me: I know, I know.
Him: Who owns that bike?
Him: I said, 'Who owns that bike?'
Me (meekly, breathing heavy): M-me.
Him: Who owns that bike?
Him: WHO. OWNS. THAT. BIKE?!?!
Me (screaming): MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!
Him: That's what I thought. Now put those 30 minutes in the bank and let's get moving.
40 minutes later, at the gym and on the treadmill for the run portion (thanks to the 8 inches of snow the other day). I have my soon-to-be-qualified-for-Boston sister on my left, and the newly minted half-marathoner man to my right. I have a solid breathing pattern, strength in my legs, a visor to catch the sweat, and my new pink running shirt (ya know, to feel like a girly). I got Bruce screaming through my earbuds, and smiles from my running partners when I glance to the left and right.
What I don't have?
I even managed to get through the whole run without crapping myself all over the treadmill from the major GI distress I was having, mostly due to my thus-far ineffective nutrition plan.
This alone is a victory.
Yeah, it's gross. But hey, I'm learning that training is not only about bike splits, swim yards or run mileage. I also belch a lot when I ride the bike, so yeah, there's that.
All in all, I would say this was about as perfect a Sunday as I could imagine.
Friday, February 1, 2008
You know how you can listen to the same song, over and over, and then you can hear at just the right moment, and the words just squeeze your heart and put the tears right in the corner of your eyes?
Yeah, that happened to me today.
And yeah, I am that girl next to you that cries on the treadmill. Divert your eyes.
I was trottin’ along on the treadmill, had a quick 50 minute run (which was made slightly more difficult by that nagging knee pain that has decided to revisit me after the ½ marathon – how lovely) and with every step I was trying to gage, “Does it hurt? Does it not hurt? What if I land my foot this way? How about this?” And then out of nowhere, I heard “The Rising” by Bruce Springsteen.
Now, I saw Bruce in concert when this album came out, and if memory serves me, it was after 9.11. In fact, this song, I believe, is about that day, and about moving forward and rebuilding with a mix of sorrow and hope and faith.
But that’s why it hit me. I guess coming off of an incredible ½ marathon, the realization of having no back pain just as the anniversary of the injury approaches, then worrying about the knee pain – all while trying to wrap my mind around this whole Ironman thing – it all just came together this afternoon in one big emotional heap at my feet.
Here’s the thing I never talk about. I am scared. To my core. I do so much visualizing during the long workouts (you know, the one of yourself coming down the finishers chute, the family and friends screaming from behind the gates…makes me teary thinking about it) but it’s always about the fun and exciting and wonderful things about this day I have come to glorify.
But sometimes I wonder if I truly get it. Can I really comprehend the distance of the day? What does 140.6 feel like? I read the blogs of other who have gone before me, and wonder, “Am I doing enough?” Five hour trainer ride followed by a 90 minute run? In January? Does that somehow qualify me for Ironman? I compare, I read all race reports – I want to know just what to expect. Does my fantasy match up with the reality?
But the "reality" is that I have no idea. There is no way I could possibly know without having done it myself. I don’t know what I will feel like that day, if my knee will hurt, if I will get kicked in the face during the swim, or feel my quads burn off during ride. How long will my transitions be? What will I put inside my special needs bag? How hard will it really be?
How bad will I hurt?
It’s all of this unknown that is reeking havoc on my brain. On the positive side, the unknown makes me get my ass to that pool and make all my swims (fear of drowning will do that) and makes me stick out those long rides all the way to the end (no skimping on those last five minutes!) I want to be as prepared as possible, and the fear of not being so will make me do anything.
But boy do I hate admitting fear. I like my control. I like knowing. And I don't like that others see me as anything less than this tough chick that can do anything. And I know that all my fears are rooted deep in my insecuritires about myself, about not measuring up, about not being good enough. I carry so much fear - for this race, for my relationships, for my career and my life - that it is just so stifling at times.
But there are times when I can’t escape it, when I wake up literally sweating through my clothes at 3am after having a dream that I kept getting flats and people were flying by me on their bikes, or that I get lost during the marathon….it goes on and on. And I wake up sick, worried, stressed. I have runs where I just start to cry because I am so overwhelmed by the rush of emotions attached to this.
After last year’s disappointment, I can honestly say I have never wanted anything more than I want this race.
Than I want to start.
Than I want to finish.
So back to my original thought – When this song came on, I actually took a pause in my knee analysis and all the millions of thoughts running through my brain. When the song came on, I heard it as one about loss and rebuilding, and the path that one must travel between the two. The inability to know the future, but the willingness to keep moving forward and the courage to find out. Those moments of self-doubt, and the places I have to go to get out of it. And then finally, the recognition and appreciation of all those who carry me on their shoulders when my legs are simply too tired to move.
I don't need to finish in a specific time. I have no goals except to finish.
For my first Ironman, I just want to be "good enough."
Can't see nothin' in front of me
Can't see nothin' coming up behind
I make my way through this darkness
I can't feel nothing but this chain that binds me
Lost track of how far I've gone
How far I've gone, how high I've climbed
On my back's a sixty pound stone
On my shoulder a half mile of line
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Left the house this morning
Bells ringing filled the air
Wearin' the cross of my calling
On wheels of fire I come rollin' down here
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li
There's spirits above and behind me
Faces gone black, eyes burnin' bright
May their precious blood bind me
Lord, as I stand before your fiery light
Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li
I see you Mary in the garden
In the garden of a thousand sighs
There's holy pictures of our children
Dancin' in a sky filled with light
May I feel your arms around me
May I feel your blood mix with mine
A dream of life comes to me
Like a catfish dancin' on the end of my line
Sky of blackness and sorrow ( a dream of life)
Sky of love, sky of tears (a dream of life)
Sky of glory and sadness ( a dream of life)
Sky of mercy, sky of fear ( a dream of life)
Sky of memory and shadow ( a dream of life)
Your burnin' wind fills my arms tonight
Sky of longing and emptiness (a dream of life)
Sky of fullness, sky of blessed life
Come on up for the rising
Come on up, lay your hands in mine
Come on up for the rising
Come on up for the rising tonight
Li,li, li,li,li,li, li,li,li