Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Goal: Faster Longer Stronger

Ok. I'm putting this down. Goals for Ironman Canada:

Best case scenario:

Swim: 1:15
T1: :8
Bike: 6:40
T2: :5
Run: 4:50

Worst Case scenario (been there so this isn't that hard to come up with)

Swim: 1:25
T1: :10
Bike: 8:00
T2: :12
Run: 7:00

To be honest, I think I'll have a good swim, a good bike and a decent walk/run. No bee stings this year. I know I can improve upon my time from my first visit to IMCA. Today is 7 months to the day and counting. Today, I have no doubt that I can go the distance, its a question of how fast and how to manage the pain without an upset stomach.

So, there it is. I'd love to say that without illness I'd have an 11 and a half hour Ironman, but I can't. I don't live without illness. I'm finally admitting that to myself. Living in denial isn't good for anyone, least of all me. I have to factor "bad days" into everything that I do... that I want to do so as not to let people who count on me down. So as not to let myself down. I have to live within realistic terms. This isn't going to be easy for me. I have always been the overachiever type (2 bachelors degrees in 4 years, Varsity Crew, VP of the USC Tri Club, Volunteered for a Presidential campaign, boyfriends, triathlons, lifeguarding, studying in Moscow, going to as many Olympic events that I could squeeze into a day .... etc. all in my 4 years at USC) And even though I say that I am a recovering over achiever, let's face it: I still think I can do it all ... that is until its obvious that I can't. I don't want to say, "I used to be able to (fill in the blank)" anymore. I am who I am right now and right now I am trying to convince myself that I need to just be. I can't hide the pain anymore and suffering alone and making excuses are just not who I am nor who I want to be, even when things get tough.

I am already an Ironman. No one can take that away. And when I forget, I have a pretty tattoo on my wrist to remind me. (Crossing off N0.3 Sign-up for an IM, No. 45 Get my Mdot tattoo and No. 46 Get an inspirational tattoo off from my list of 47 things I need to do before I turn 48).

Now coffee, to the Farmers market, then a run on the beach and about 4-5 hours of work building training programs and filing 1099 forms!! I'm sure there will be teenage mischief throw in there too. Happy Saturday!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friday, January 30, 2009

It feels like ages since I last wrote. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks. About two weeks ago, I woke up in so much pain … I can’t really describe it. 9 on a scale of 10 maybe? I remember wanting to die. I remember lying in bed and looking up at the photos of my daughter when she was a baby and thinking that she’s old enough now that she would understand my wish to die. I thought that if I had to endure this kind of debilitation again … well, I thought that I couldn’t endure anymore. This was far worse than it has been and seems to have bumped up to twice a month (it had been once a month for a week for the last few years). I never wished to die before.

It’s more than just the pain. It’s like someone high-jacked my brain. I know it seems weird, but the hormones that are produced during one of these flare up makes even the most extreme PMS feel mild. I felt like I was mentally ill. I asked my friend Anne and my daughter repeatedly if I was acting “normal”. They didn’t see any difference, only that they could see the pain in my eyes. But I wasn’t myself. I didn’t care anymore. About anything. Work, a future, finding love, my goals, my hopes and dreams for my child, getting paid … I didn’t care. That scared me. I was high-jacked and if something didn’t change I was certain, in a short period of time, that I would be pushing a shopping cart up and down Wilshire Boulevard, filled with empty water bottles from races, hair long and wild covered by a tattered Ironman New Zealand beanie keeping it tame, bright red lipstick painted on like clown lips … cuz we know crazy people cannot apply make-up with precision … and I’d yell in the face of strangers, “I coulda won Ironman …. ahhhhg … I shoulda won Ironman … Bastards!”

After two days of being silent, I called Anne. She brought me eggs and Claritin D, that Saturday (and some food to feed my kid), and assured me that I wasn’t mentally ill and made me promise that I would go to the doctor’s. My daughter gave me 5 Advil and a cup of coffee and made French toast with cinnamon and made me swear that I would go to the doctor’s. Between the Claritin, the Advil, the piece of French toast and coffee, I managed to get it together enough for a walk.

Sunday was a bit better and I managed to get out for a short run … Advil and endorphins – a magical combo!!

That Monday I called the doctor’s and they were closed for President’s Day. So I went the alternative route … acupuncture. Two hours and 30+ needles later, I went home feeling delicate. I walked gingerly and pretty much got into bed and didn’t move when I got home.

The next day, I was in the pool at 5:30 am, had a great swim. Did the mom thing: breakfast, lunch, drive the kid to school, try some early morning humor to help with teenage early-morning mood and then worked from 7:30 am – 3 pm. Did more mom stuff … worked some more until 9ish at night. Did the same thing on Wednesday, except I rode for an hour and a half instead of swimming. Thursday was another repeat. Friday too. And I no longer felt mentally ill. The acupuncture doctor told me that mentally ill people don’t know they're mentally ill and that I was suffering from two things: the mental effects of chronic pain and the hormone imbalance associated with a flare-up. YAY! I was cured.

Saturday, I went running with my daughter and her boyfriend. Ok, so they jogged past me pretty early on and I watched as they slowly pulled away and lovingly nudged each other every few feet; I’m used to that now – their youthful speed and their public displays of affection (yes, they received the 'I trust you, but I don't trust your hormones' talk - they are very caring and cuddly and, I have to say, quite cute together). But I didn’t have to stop and stretch every few minutes or walk for OVER ONE and a HALF HOURS!!!! It’s been years since I was able to do that. And Sunday? I rode for 2.5+ hours and averaged 17 mph on the rolling hills of PCH out to Malibu and yes, I was trying to keep up with Pete … at first. But really, I was just so excited to go that fast, have the endurance to go that long and feel that STRONG. It felt “normal” to me. Faster, longer, stronger.

Wow. WOW. WOW!!

I went back to acupuncture this last Monday feeling like a million bucks. Less needles this time, but still had to rest that day. Tuesday’s alarm went off at 5am and I couldn’t move. I was shaking with pain. BUT I WASN'T MENTALLY ILL! Ok, you laugh … but until your brain has been high-jacked you’ll never fully understand. It is kinda funny, when I look back on it from a two week perspective ☺ Who asks their friends and family if they seem deranged? And who says, "yes, you seem deranged, sweetie. Go lie down while we get out your white jacket," to someone who just asked if they seemed mental? Of course they're going to say, "no," while slowly backing out of the room dialing 911!

It’s Friday and I’ve had to take 4 days off from training. But I’m not fatigued or feel like I’m without hope. And the pain has been manageable enough to work my three jobs (coaching, business consulting and the thing with the guy) and be a mom and a friend and a daughter. Maybe I rode too hard. Maybe it was my allergies – I ran out of Claritin D. Who knows?!

What I do know is that the pain is endurable when not coupled by thoughts of giving up. And that the acupuncture is helping even if I have set-backs. And that listening to your coach makes good sense … don’t over do it. As a coach, I would have had me train differently. But we all know that I am an outstanding coach to everyone but myself. It's hard to coach oneself. I am trying to get better at it. I am getting better.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

how do people do it?

I just don't know how some people do it. I am just so tired these days by 9pm ... I just don't know how I'm going to do it all: make a living while starting a business, while building my coaching roster, training for an Ironman and being a mom, a friend, a daughter and ... on rare occasions these days ... a woman.

I know it would be easier if I had means (donations welcome ;) Oh ... I'm just so damn tired tonight and I have to be in the pool by 5:40am, breakfast and lunches made and kid to school by 7 ... at a client's by 7:30am. Work til 3pm. Pick-up the kid, do errands, answer emails, write workouts, design a new website and then have dinner with friends.

Going to brush my teeth now and go to bed. MMMMmmmmmmmmmmmm! My big old bed has become my favorite place. I may not buy myself that new mattress this year. If it gets more comfy, I might never get out!! Night.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Guy

I wrote a series of articles for a prominent triathlon magazine awhile back for a column idea that my editor liked. Obviously, he and I were the only ones who thought a little light- heartedness was due in the world of Multi-sport publishing. The column went no where. Seems the big publishers believe that if its not about getting faster, going longer or getting stronger then its not an interesting read. I think its not all about the training. Here's one of the articles that I wrote for this series.
A really weird thing happened the other day. I was off on my regular Saturday ride with my regular Saturday riding folks (except Doug; he’s injured – Doug, we miss you) and about 10 miles into the ride, Nancy asked me if I had asked “the Guy” if he wanted to ride with us. I thought about asking “the Guy”. I had seen him and talked with him several times the day before. I even picked up the phone at 7am and started to dial his number. I thought about saying something like, “hey, the sun’s out so get your butt out of bed and meet us at Sunset and PCH at 8”. But I didn’t. I didn’t even finish dialing.

I told Nancy and Tim (who was riding next to me) that I just couldn’t ask him. It was a weird thing, I know, but I just couldn’t. I wasn’t ready for him to see me in that way. Of course, they all laughed at me like I was insane because they knew I’ve ridden with “the Guy” before. I said, “Yeah, but that was before … before I started to really, really like him”. What was I in middle school all of a sudden?! Tim said it sounded like a Sex and the City episode. And you know what? It did.

I went on to explain that something had changed. Sure we worked out together as part of the Zuma Sunday regulars from spring until October. Sure we’ve raced together. We swam together. The last time I rode my bike before Ironman Canada was with him. We even did the LA Triathlon as a relay team. But somehow something had changed. I just didn’t want to ride next to him and blow snot at the same time. Is that so weird? We all know, I’m the snot blowing queen (can hit the head light of a Mercedes going 65 mph on PCH with exact precision, over and over again. Really. Whenever I have one of those “bad days”, Doug always emails me the top 10 things I am good at. Blowing snot is always on the list). Actually, “the Guy” doesn’t know that about me and I’d like to keep it that way, at least for a little while. And I sure didn’t want him to hear some of the things we say to each other. Geez, were regular truck drivers out there sometimes.

I think I discovered that even with triathletes, there exists a kind of courtship ritual. You meet usually while training or doing something tri-like. Then you begin to regularly see each other at workouts … maybe even plan workouts to make sure you run into your “Crush”. Then there’s that moment when you see each other in real clothes for the first time at a party or a tri club function. This is an important progression. It can also be a deal breaker. Everyone pretty much looks the same in workout attire. But seeing someone in real clothes for the first time can either perpetuate the crush … or crush it completely.

If you make it passed the seeing someone outside of working out and they don’t dress too geeky stage and you continue to hang and train together ... the next step is planning something socially. This is an interesting moment. It can mean everything. Lunch, dinner, drinks, coffee … it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are hanging out together in real clothes doing something that’s not tri related. The dynamic of the relationship, whether is moves towards romance or remains friends has completely changed. You have reached the next stage. You start thinking about things that are important to you: Can he/she talk about anything other than triathlon? Are they funny? Smart? Is there chemistry? When the crush gets to this stage, the stakes are higher. And that’s when you can no longer ride next to them and blow snot or joke about how Tom’s shorts are see-through from wear or, in my case, ride like one of the boys.

All of us on the ride that day did talk about how great it would be to have a boyfriend/ girlfriend or spouse to ride with. How cool would that be! But “the Guy” and I are hardly there. We’ve never actually had a real date. I’m not even sure if he has similar feelings, let alone if he’s “the one”.

You know, Tim is right. This does sounds like a Sex and the City episode. And along those lines … I really do think I would look exquisite in Prada. And … have you ever tried on a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes? Seriously … I tried on a pair at a designer resale store near my house that, slightly used, were more than my car payment and rent (in Santa Monica) combined. But they were beautiful and … I could run in them. No really! They were amazingly comfortable for 3 inch heels. I can just picture myself crossing the finish line at Ironman Wisconsin next year wearing a pair of vintage Manolo's … ones that match my bike, of course. But, unlike the thousands and thousands of dollars I justify spending each year on the sport of triathlon, I just couldn’t buy the shoes. Hmmm …maybe someday … after I make it as a writer?

A funny post script to all of this: the Wednesday after that particular Saturday ride, I saw “the Guy” riding south on PCH as I was riding north. I was quite sure I had escaped unrecognized and continued on completely enraptured by the beauty surrounding me and the surprisingly fast pace my body was able to keep after being ill … until I heard yelling from behind. I turned to see that it was him. I stopped and let him catch me. We ended up riding together and yes, I did blow snot while riding next to him. I was also covered in sweat and mud, soaked from the rain and my hair was a mess. Yet, I was in one of those incredible moods that you have when being out on your bike, with the ocean sparkling on one side of you and the wildflowers blooming on the other side, reminds you there’s no place you’d rather be. Except, perhaps

Monday, January 19, 2009

A BIG Name Sports Drink Producer Paid me $200 for this:

Ode to Triathlon

I have a crazy, passionate love for the sport of triathlon.
I love it when the alarm goes off at five
And the sun has yet to rise
And your heart skips a beat when you think
The gun goes off
In less than two hours.

I love my new wetsuit, goggles and bright orange cap
I put on my head
And joking said,
”look, I’m a buoy”,
while registering for my first race this season.

I love my bike,
My blue Rudy’s,
My pink sleeveless jersey that’s carried money and bananas and cell phones and jackets and packets of gu and pop tarts and an assortment of plastic bottles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and black arm warmers
a precious special note from my daughter to be opened only at the run turn around at Ironman.

I love the Monday morning emails:
How was your race?
Did you ride?
How’s your shoulder, your back, your IT pain?
You placed? How great!
We riding Wed? Hills.
Trail run on Thursday.
Ride long on Saturday.
Ocean swim Sunday, breakfast burritos, volleyball and surfing if there are waves.

I especially love that very private feeling when mile nine is faster than mile eight and mile thirteen is faster yet.

And yes!
That quite smiling moment just after a race
When you reflect on what happened
And what might have been
And you make plans for the future
And you pat yourself on the back
For you’ve finished another,
completed another,
reached another goal.

To travel to places near and far
To race in a small French village and be rock stars
To ride every weekend with the boys
To meet the best friends a girl could ever have
To be part of the family
The family that is Triathlon.

Monday, January 12, 2009

If you scream, "Mother F***ing Son of a B***h into the wind, does anyone hear?

I loved the wind when I was younger. I remember going with my brother and dad to fly kites all the time when we were little. Once, we saved up a bunch of labels off of the canned peas and corn my mother would serve with dinner, (my! how times have changed - my kid is quite spoiled on Farmer's Market organic), put them in an envelope and sent them to some far off Valley of the Jolly. A few weeks later, we got our very own, very big, Jolly Green Giant Kite. The kite was surely bigger than my brother and was nearly my height. My dad said we needed to work as a team to fly this one, it was that big! So, that Sunday, when the winds whipped the undeveloped section of the Palos Verdes Penninsula, the three of us set off to fly the Giant.

It was tough going. The Santa Ana's were blowing making it nearly impossible to get the kite off the ground. I seem to recall my brother getting lifted under the kite and squealing with joy and then, he let go, and the kite sailed up and up and up. The wind was great! So great!! Well, until it blew so hard that it snapped the cord connecting that very giant kite (now looking so very tiny waaaaaay far up into the sky) to the wooden reel that we held. Sadness ensued. Walking home with lowered heads, past a gorgeous view of the Pacific dotted with white sails of varying sizes, my father told us stories of the greatness of wind and its amazing power.

It seemed like we'd only been home for an instant when the phone rang. It was our uncle in New York City. He was calling with some strange news ... he had just been up on the Empire State Building and saw a Jolly Green Giant kite fly by, with a tail made from a pillow case. That was our kite!! Wow. The wind was great. Our kite went all the way to New York City. All that Sunday, and probably for days to come, my brother and I bragged about the wind and our kite and the glorious trip it took for free.

I wish I had the same fondness for the wind this last Sunday as I did so long ago, even with the made-up story that our kite flew to NYC. I checked several weather sites and they all said that the Santa Ana's had moved south and that no wind was predicted for Sunday in the Malibu area. When we started out on our 3 hour bike ride (my 3rd ride since October) that prediction seemed to be so. But then the canyon gusts kicked in, and tucking low on the handle bars became necessary. And the head winds started and we took faster turns leading the pace line. Anne and Kouy, having completed half of their ride at Cross Creek, turned around and headed back. Pete, Adam and I decided to go further reasoning that if the head wind was this bad going out, we will be flying home. HA!!!!!!!

Each of our fitness levels and strength began to show on the way back. I kept falling back. I honestly never thought I could go 1 mile per hour and spend so much energy. It was all I could do to keep from falling over. The side gusts were crazy. We rode as far over to the right side of PCH as possible. My hands are sore from white knuckling in the successful attempts to keep from getting blown into the traffic lanes. To keep on track I sang songs in my head ("Tomorrow" from the musical Annie- story for another time, and ... "whose tripping down the streets of the city, smiling at everybody she sees ... everyone knows its Windy!" and thought about what I was going to write about in this very blog.

Hills, although I am not the best climber, I can mentally handle with ease. You can see the top. You know when it's going to stop. Even if you're surprised by a false flat or another rise on a hill that you haven't climbed before, it is not the same as wind. The wind messes with you. One second your peddling at 25 mph and smiling and the next ... you're yelling, ""Mother F***ing Son of a B***h," and ... no one can hear you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

It doesn't have to be all about training!!

I wrote a series of articles for a prominent triathlon magazine awhile back for a column idea that my editor liked. Obviously, he and I were the only ones who thought a little light- heartedness was due in the world of Multi-sport publishing. The column went no where. Seems the big publishers believe that if its not about getting faster, going longer or getting stronger then its not an interesting read. I think its not all about the training. Here's an intro into and the article that got the column idea started.

After a long season, the Zuma Sunday regulars of the LA Tri Club were goofing off in the parking lot after a swim/bike/run workout. They were all laughing and trying to do everything in slow motion. The idea struck me that we needed to bring some of the original silliness of the sport of triathlon back ... and thus, the World's Slowest Triathlon was born. Here's the race report as it was published in Triathlete Mag March 2005:

It was a beautiful day to go slow. The water was crisp and clear. The surf moderate. The Santa Ana's were blowing .. so hard in fact, they blew the START sign into shreds. But that only aided those in the first (do I hear second?) World's Slowest Triathlon.

The hysterics began well before the sun came up as Nancy called me in the early am to say that she had the clown suits, had picked up the Kazoos and was running late. No worries. I passed Scott, Jamie and Ian on the road up to Zuma. Each had their game face on ... giant smiles. I love the smell of competition in the morning.

At about 9am, racers began to set up their transitions ... ok ... so they were a little slow to show up on time. As I watched the racers and the volunteers getting ready, I wasn't quite sure who this race was being put on for ... we were all having so much fun. When was the last time you laughed so hard you snorted and drooled?!

After a brief Athlete meeting to go over the course (ok, every time I look at the race map I giggle. Anyone wanting a good giggle just reply to this message and I'll send you a copy), rules and regulations (of course there are rules ... geez ... you think we'd promote chaos with our obsessive compulsive over-achieving control freak triathlete personalities?! My favorite rule is rule number 5. which reads: One, two or three wheeled bikes only (however if you can manage to get a four-wheel beach buggy to Zuma, go for it). No walkers, wheelchairs, skateboards, or any type of locomotion that requires an engine [so don't show up with your uncle's old Fiat and say I can't move because it doesn't start]. Long story. Any other methods of transportation are subject to a Judges approval) ... then the racers walked en mass to the start.

Ian was sacked with the first penalty of the race by pushing a fellow racer to get him to go fast. Then the gun went off and the racers began their slow pursuit of the finish. Konrad flopped like a fish. Ian perfected the "slug" strategy. Nancy P. and Adina, who had lured the fire department over to help pump up their boat, tried unsuccessfully to launch until the lifeguard came by to say it was unsafe and then they proceeded to swim Esther Willams-like onward.

When the racers reached the first human buoy on a surfboard, Scott, instead of rounding it (him) most grabbed onto his surfboard and used it as a kick board. Paul chose an alternate race strategy. He got up on the board and surfed while slowing being propelled by the other racers kicking toward human buoy number two, Mo on his surfboard.

The first out of the water was DJ who's transition area was monitored by his mom Leslie who was cooking breakfast on a Colman stove and reading the paper (the hot cocoa was great, Les. I hope you're satisfied with how DJ placed ... wink wink). DJ's transition was extra long after his cycling attire accidentally caught on fire while his mom was laying it out. Thank goodness we had the Eric and Rosalind relay team representing the Fire Dept to stomp out the fire. No one was hurt.

The girls, Jamie W., Adina and Nancy P. dolled it up for the bike riding two and three wheeled transportation in sparkly colors while sporting wigs, equestrian attire and a pink nightie. Konrad fell off his bike. I believe there was a crash at the turn around that involved Jose, Paul and Champ (some people were so ashamed to participate that they registered under a false identity - probably stolen - and wore a long black wig and ski goggles!)

Crazy antics ensued in T1, T2 and T3 (don't ask). Naps were taken, costumes were changed. At one point, I think someone was leading the group in stretching. Our wonderful volunteers gave racers penalties and points that either added to or subtracted from their overall time.

Ian was last off the bike and was last out of the water ... boy is that guy competitive! He was the favorite to win ... but he went screaming by in a woman's bathing suit, thong underwear on his head, chocolate cigarette dangling from his mouth saying, "I've got to get home". He was penalized for running on the run and ended up with a negative time of -18 hours defying the time/space continuum.

Others found themselves siamesed (yep, new word soon to be added to Webster's Dictionary) to other racers making their way on the run. In fact, I think this may be the first triathlon in the history of the sport where an athlete finished that didn't start: Gabriela was tied to Konrad as he doubled over with cramps. She finished with a respectable time while never having started.

So who won? The relay team of Tran, Lori and John. They played it safe and kept clear of the penalties while John racked up points for being a cute kid in a very adult world. Congratulations to the World's Slowest family.

Actually everyone went home with a medal. Ok, so they were hand-me-downs from a Wildflower race a million years ago with WST 2004 written with a sharpie on the back. Everyone was a winner and enjoyed homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the World's Slowest Tri in anyway, shape or form. Special thanks goes to Nancy, Tom and Stephanie, the not so Regular Zuma Regulars and Jeannie, Steve, Colin, Elsa and Gabriela. Jamie S. for filming. Brian for the photography. The Academy for my nomination. We love our volunteers too!

Race results and photo's will be posted … slowly.

Yours in slowness,

Julie Silber
Location: Malibu, CA

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

IMCA 2004 Race Report or Open Letter to my friends

Ironman. It was amazing. The whole experience from start to finish was truly awesome... does this feeling have to end? I hope not. Seems like it has been an idea for 20 some odd years for me. And a pretty steady goal over the last year. A daily commitment since May. Why do an Ironman? I bet there are a million reasons why folks choose to train 20 hours a week for months on end in order to put themselves through 140+ miles of pain, the likes of which they may never have experienced before. For me, it was a "reaching my potential" kind-of thing - something that I just had to do in order to be true to me. I've had to tackle many demons, injuries, health issues etc. over the years and work really hard in order to allow myself this achievement. It was neither too soon nor too late. I am an Ironman.

Ironman is different from any sport I've ever done. It's the only race that I've participated in where those who finish with longer times are held in equal esteem with those who fly through the course. No one can just do an Ironman. No one. Everyone has to put in the training. Everyone. In fact, the ovation at the awards dinner for those who finished last is longer and louder and much more emotional. Those who are newly crowned Ironmen and woman and those who are the true veterans of the sport all know the sacrifices, commitment and support it takes to cross the finish line. We are all equal in that.

Curtis, 30-34, from Calgary, a new found buddy with whom I traded places with on the bike for over 80 miles and last saw at mile 10 on the run when he succumbed to knee pain, asked me which was more difficult childbirth or an Ironman. I said Ironman; I never had to dig that deep to find new strengths during the birth of my child and my "labor" was 12 hours and 20 minutes. Becoming an Ironman was 20 years, 16 hours and 45 minutes in the making. Wouldn't it be nice to have an Ironman time matching the duration of my labor? I wish! Maybe someday. Maybe there’s my next goal. Maybe.

There are only a few life-changing milestones we go through in life: graduating from college, getting married and having a child are the most common ones. And now, for me, becoming an Ironman. I feel like, not only have I joined an elite group, but that I have grown as a person through the pursuit and attainment of this goal. It's awesome. Did I make some newbie mistakes? Sure. I didn’t plan on drinking Gatorade and I also didn’t plan on the Special Needs bags on the bike to be somewhere near mile 75. Who knew that, after I chucked my empty water bottle with accurate aim and precision into the bin that I would discover that the Gatorade bottles didn’t fit in my bottle cage? So I shoved them down my jersey (hey, if they can do it in the Tour de France, then I can certainly do it. I still have pink stains on my shirt … but I digress). And, I could have done without the two flats, the CO2's that didn't work, the wasp sting, and the really, really bad reaction to the epinephrine shot (story for another time). But nothing was going to stop me, not even the fact that I had missed my time goal by 3 hours! I may no longer be a top notch athlete and that's OK. But I still and will always have the determination to achieve the things I set my mind to and the humor to carry me through anything.

Will I do it again? You betcha, eh. Probably after hockey season, eh.

Here are a few highlights from my race:
• Having the canon go off and not being near the water yet.
• I never saw Ogopogo, the monster of Lake Okanogan. But I think I saw Oingo Boingo in scuba gear!
• Then there was the mortified semi driver who blocked the road about 30 miles into the ride, stopping hundreds of cyclists in pursuit of the finish. As we grew more and more upset, he began to stall and backed into a tree. None of us were willing to risk disqualification by crossing the double yellow line.
• Butt crack boy. OK, if you're going to do an Ironman, wear shorts that fit.
• Looking up at the town of Penticton 10 running miles away and seeing the endless string of green glow tubes bobbing up and down and reflecting on the lake in complete darkness. Totally surreal.
• Finding mental relief at mile 16 on the run when Ian and Jamie rode up behind me. I was worried that they were worried and I didn't want to worry about them worrying about me. Solved.
• Having my own Secret Service for about a mile: Ian blocking all those wonderful kids still out there cheering and wanting to high-five me. Really, at that point, I think my lats were made of ceramic and ready to shatter if I tried to move in a new direction. I never thought that high-fives could not only be dangerous, but horrifying as well! And Jamie had the task of blocking vehicles trying to cross; not that there were many, but he had fun shouting, "Hey, we have a runner here!" Remember, they too had just done an Ironman.
• Running down the finishing shoot and crossing the line - there are no words to describe that feeling. And finding Jamie, my brother there. I think, no I know I asked if I could do it again.
I want you all to know that I thought about each and everyone of you during the hours of 7:00a and 11:46p on August 29th. Really I did. I was out there a loooong time! There were several times when I was completely by myself, yet I never felt alone. Thank you all for your support, words of encouragement and inspiration. And, for some of you back home, for the emails and voicemails at 12:03a - your day was as long as mine.

One last thing ... they put on a spectacular show up there in British Columbia. The people of Penticton are absolute gems. And the volunteers were, in a word, awesome. Oh Canada ... thank you.


P.S. Here's my finishing photo. I had been practicing and planning on doing a double twist, triple ring, no foam latte dismount and sticking it at the finish, but just lifting my arms was hard enough! And really ... I'm using a stylist for my next big race - that shirt is sooo unflattering. What was I thinking? Oh, yeah, about finishing my first Ironman.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Endorphins, Perfect Form and U2

"Endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during strenuous exercise, excitement, and climax, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a sense of well-being."

For me, earlier today, they kicked in after 20 minutes on my run/walk. Yippee!!! Hallelujah!! And I managed to pull-off four miles of mostly running. Of course, the 90-year-old woman and her little itty-bitty doggie passed me, twice … seriously. Well, maybe not. But it was slow. At least I was able to maintain perfect form.

And I had U2 in my ear the whole time. Another producer of a sense of well-being. U2 saved me more than once, but that’s a story for another time.

Pain turned to a sense of well-being and walk turned to run. For my next trick, I’ll try to turn water into a fine Pinot and newsprint into hundred dollar bills. Night.

You can take the girl out of the race, but you can't take the race out of the girl

Its 9:18 on Saturday morning. I should be two hours into a ride right now. But I'm not. I got up, struggled out of bed and took a handful of Advil, made some coffee (1/2 decaf) and started stretching. My pain level was high enough to effect my mood and the air was cold enough for me to want to crawl back into bed to stay warm and wait for the Advil to kick in. That was over two hours ago. I'm warm, but it still hurts. Its been a difficult couple of weeks.

I was diagnosed with Lupus when I was a freshman in college. It was a diagnosis received with mixed feelings: No F***ing Way! ... and ... I guess the pain wasn't all in my head as some people suggested. I used to joke before that that I was like the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz and would mumble out of the corner of my mouth, "Oil can. Oil can." I always had a hard time getting going and seemed to be a bit more "stiff" in the joints than those around me. My doctor put me on a regimen of steroids and NSAIDs. The steroids made me loopie and I decided to go off them about 6 weeks later (yeah, I was found by my boyfriend at the time handing out flowers in Westwood near the UCLA campus trying to make peace as a USC freshman - now that would have been funny to see.) But I did get back into the pool ... low impact exercise was part of the prescription.

Ok, so ... I was a competitive athlete at heart, dealing with the possibility that my days of competition were over at age 19. I'm not sure why, but I thought that not being an athlete meant that I would be sitting on the sofa the rest of my life knitting. That was the kiss of death for me. Sitting on the sofa knitting the rest of my life (in my fantasy, the sofa was cream colored and the scarf I was knitting was blue.) I'm also not sure why there were no "grown-ups" trying to shatter this fantasy of knitting blue scarfs the rest of my life instead of running 10k's. But there it was.

The first day I was allowed to swim, I was told to swim no more than 10 minutes and to use a kick-board. I think I did 20 minutes. 2 swims a week quickly became 4, then 5 ... then 6. 30 minute swims soon became 2000 yards. 2000 yards quickly became a warm-up, a main set, an endurance set, a speed set ... get the picture. Prescription strength Naprosin was my friend and my spirit was my fuel. By the spring of 1983, I was a walk-on on the USC swim team. Sitting on a sofa knitting the rest of my life? No way in hell.

And with that, I am going to get out of bed and go for a walk. Who knows, maybe it will turn into a run.

No Pain, No Gain

I've been an athlete all my life. A pretty good one once upon a time. I am also a coach. I know all to well what, "No Pain, No Gain" means: if you don't give it your all in training then you're not training hard enough to succeed in competition.

That kind of pain is a good pain. I love that feeling where your quads remind you the rest of the day that you rode over 80 hilly miles that morning. No one else knows it. Its like a secret, a secret accomplishment that you can relished all day.

But what happens when the pain is too great to even train? Down a handful of Advil and suck it up?! What happens when that no longer works? That is the question that keeps coming up for me. Stay tuned to the blog and we'll find out together.