How does this happen? I start the day thinking I will go for a run and then go get some stuff for the pool,  buy some flowers and plant the gardens, and maybe get the raised bed ready for planting vegetables.

I start out by going out to the driveway to fetch the NYT, read and drink coffee until almost noon, walk the dog, then realize Easter is coming so I go get some things for the pool (that’s one on the morning list) and then end up downtown buying Easter presents.  And now it is 5.

Yesterday I left the house at 7:30 to go meet people for a 4 hour ride followed by a 1 hour run and got home at 3:30 because I had to stop at Jamba Juice and get a real food smoothie (it was yummy!).  After I showered and walked the dog it was 5:00 so I went to TJs, bought food, made food, watched TV and crashed.

This might just be why my projects never get done.   Maybe.  I’m thinking I need more discipline.  What do you think?


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Apparently I’m a descendant of the Fugawi tribe.  You know – that famous nomadic tribe that wanders around and finds themselves constantly asking, “Where the Fugawi?”   A little known fact regarding my navigational deficiencies is that, in spite of all this self awareness,  I will look at a set of directions, think “oh yea – I know the way” and then take off without benefit of carrying the directions with me. A smartphone helps but it does annoying things like tell me to go East or West when us Fugawis  only speak Left and Right. And so it is that I am often lost and in a panic and humming Stevie Winwood’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” in my head (generally sung by Eric Clapton but sometimes I go for the Blind Faith version)

The group ride this Saturday was from Danville to Pinole to go to the Bear Claw Bakery in honor of a friend’s birthday.  I loves me some uber fattening pastries but almost never eat them so I was very excited about this ride because it was long enough and hard enough to justify the calories. Yum!



I’m not a very fast rider and many of the people I ride with are, so we tend to break up into an A group and B group and some days I have a hard time hanging on to the B group. This was one of those days. All went well for the first 10 miles or so and then, going up a hill, I fell off the back but didn’t worry too much about it because I fully expected that once I got over the top I would see the other riders and they would wait for me at the next turn.  I was no more than a minute behind them.  Sadly,  I was wrong! and when I crested the hill and started my descent I never saw anyone and no one was at the bottom of the hill waiting.

No problem. I knew the way so I hung a left and rode on. And then it started – the moments of doubt; the moments of questioning where I was   and what I was seeing around me (Fugawi!) and so I stopped and called the ride leader who is quite skilled at answering her phone while riding. She assured me I was going the right way so on I went.

After some time I thought I would turn around and head back because I was alone and I’d left the dog in the house and it just seemed like a good idea so I called again and Carrie said no – keep coming. So I did – I rode some more. And after another while I thought about turning back again because I was pretty sure I’d never get there so I called again and Carrie said, “no – you’re almost there so keep coming.”  So I did. I kept going but I kept being sure I was in the wrong place. In fact I was sure I was in the wrong town like I had magically traversed a distance and put myself on the wrong end of the county.

I found the road she told me to take, asked another cyclist if going left was the way to Pinole and he confirmed so on I went. And then I ran out of road and the real panic set in. I called again and Carrie said “use your Google maps and you’ll find the way”. Did I do that? Oh no – as a Fugawi  I prefer a good stiff panic attack so I turned around, still convinced I was in the wrong town, and headed back the way I had come, up a giant hill. And then I stopped to look at the phone and saw I had  gotten a call from another rider so I called him and, in my state of panic and exhaustion,  swore and moaned and gnashed my teeth and he told me to just look at the map so  I finally did and lo and behold – I’d been in the right place all along.  I was not in the wrong town, I was not at the wrong end of the county and  and I had been very close to going to right way before I foolishly turned around and headed up that hill.  Too bad the road momentarily changes its name from San Pablo Ave. to Parker Rd.   Had I known that I would have been 100 Euromutt and 0% Fugawi.   And so I turned around and rode to the bakery and, at long last, I made it!

Much to his credit, my friend Harold waited a long time for me. Another guy who had intentionally gone a different route was also there and so after I chowed down on half a bear claw (these things are HUGE!) we took off.

I was shot. I was slow. Harold and Kevin waited for me over and over and over again even though I told them to go on but, as Harold said, “it’s a beautiful day to suffer” and it was. I suffered for being exhausted and he suffered waiting for me and between us we had a pretty good time.   4 hours and 45 minutes after I left my house, I got back home.

I told my coach about this and she said, “You have to work on this. This is what you do. You decide you’re in the wrong place or you can’t get there and you panic. You have to find a better way” So that’s my current task – finding a better way when I feel lost and Fugawi’d  or defeated (refer to quitting Ironman Canada in an earlier post - bad decision… very, very bad decision).

Meanwhile, I think I’ll indulge in another round of Can’t Find My Way Home. Care to come with? It’s okay to get lost in the music.

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In My Dreams

I watched a very engaging TED talk today. The content is about robots with emotions but what really pulled me in is that the guy who presented it, Guy Hoffman, left a great job and moved to NYC to live in a tenement building that was literally, falling apart. His ideas about emotionally engaging robots manifested when he watched a Pixar short so he wanted to learn how they made a desk lamp emotionally engaging. He could do because he’s very artistic.

Then he took what he learned and applied it to robotics but not before he started a PhD program. During that program he decided to take an acting class. And, as it turns out, he is a musician, as well.

So here we have this guy who is fully committed to exploring his interests, artistic, musical, has a mind for computer science and Artificial Intelligence and is articulate. Clearly, when God was passing out talent this guy cleaned out the candy bowl which turns out to be good for the rest of us because he is doing important and engaging work.



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Happy New Year!  Oh yes… today is a day that should be like any other and yet it is not because it is the first day we get to start ending the date we note with 2014, instead of 2013 and that makes all the difference in the world!

It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life
For me
And I’m feeling good

I’ve been hearing that song a lot lately, sung by Nina Simone, although she died 10 years ago.  It just keeps popping up and I’m doing my best to take it as a message to greet each day with an open heart and the will and desire to make it a good one.   Easy peasy, right?  Right.  Just shuck off those cranky pants, put on a smile and try not to be surprised when everyone wonders what you are doing running around with no pants on.  Wait… I mean.. you know…

I mean it, though.  I need to get my ass in gear and do stuff.  I need to quit just thinking about it and actually do it – this is a weakness of mine.  I suffer from an over abundance of inertia and I need to push myself to do things until doing them is more my habit than not doing them.  I’m kind of an old dog so we’ll see.

Several people posted funny or personal things to Facebook today in honor of the new year and I repeat them here for your pleasure:

From Tammy whose blog I would link to if I knew the URL   “I haven’t had any alcohol or sugar all year! Am I skinny yet?!?”  You’ve always looked great to me, Tammy.  Happy New Year!

From my nephew:

2014 goals:

•Be more open and adventurous with everything in life. People, experience, opportunity, everything.
•Be constantly challenged
•Don’t be a dick
•Hold on when I get love, let go when I give it
(totally stole that last one from a Stars song. Good advice though)
Happy New Year Everyone!

to which several of us responded “I think you forgot to include ‘spend more time with me!’”  because we like spending time with him.

From Katie who loves language “HNY”  Right back at you, girl!

From my friend Carrie – “Happy New Year to all of you!! We are just about to embark on a fun family adventure/goal for 2014. Our plan is to hike/run together as a family with Rico on as many trails as we can in the Bay Area. …We’ll make a Shutterfly book of all the pictures. Will be cool to look back on it at the end of the year. So many trails to choose from!!!”  I can’t wait to see the book and maybe, join your family on a hike or 2!  Happy New Year, my friend!

From my internet friend ROT: It’s hard to believe the Earth is 2014 years old! Amazing such a jokester!

From Clancy: Wouldn’t it be amazing if every morning was treated like the first day of the New Year?  Yes, yes it would and that’s what I’m working on.

And on that note I offer a hearty HAPPY NEW YEAR! to all and the entire song.

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The rest of the story goes like this:

I got my cast off, fully expecting to be able to use my hand at will.  Yay – opposable thumb recovered!!


I don’t have words for the pain I suffered after she pulled out those pins without benefit of any anesthetic at all but DayUm!  The extraction wasn’t so bad – it was the pain that came later.  My thumb was quite useless and I could not even consider riding a bike for another 2 weeks.

So there I was, 5 weeks out from Ironman Canada and still not really functioning.  My Ironman dreams dimmed but I kept my chin up and did not cancel my flight.

3 weeks before the event I went for my first ride.  51 miles and it was miserable. Slow and difficult and twitchy and scary and I hated it.  Things looked really grim but I decided the solution to that problem was to go out the next day and finish my 100 mile ride.  So I did. I rode 57 miles and it was fun and much faster and, in an overused word, awesome!

The next weekend I set out and rode 104 miles, all by myself. I climbed hills.  I worked hard.  I was ready to go!  Only problem was I didn’t really manage the long runs and I hadn’t been on a long swim for a while.

Tuesday the week before the race I managed to swim 3600 yards at masters.  So I was good, right?  I could ride my bike over 100 miles and I could swim 2 miles and maybe I would walk the marathon but that’s okay!

And off to Canada I went, filled with renewed hope although truth be told, I was really just cautiously optimistic.

IMC Swag

IM Bags – getting ready to roll!

Race day I set off with 2500 other people on the swim. The first lap was fine but the 2nd lap was exhausting.  I felt myself getting slower and slower and slower but I made it.  1:50 after the gun went off I was out of the water and I met my goal of being on the bike by 9 AM which left me with 8.5 hours to finish the ride.  I could do that!

I have to tell you that when you race triathlon and you are one of the last ones out of the water it doesn’t feel good.  Those bike racks that had been filled with bikes are just about empty and it’s really hard to remember that you are a winner for being there and not a loser for being way off the back.  But I was determined not to let that bother me and off I went.

IMC Bike in T1

My trusty ride the night before the race

There were 4 cutoffs for this race.  The first came at 62K (this was Canada so we’re all about kilometers, not miles) and was at 12:30;  the second one at 94K and 1:40, the third at 148K at 4:30 and then the final cut off was at 5:30 at T2, 180K from the bike start.

I was worried about making the first 2 cutoffs but at 12:15 I was at about 75K and confused about things (thinking the 2nd one was at 64K) so I had to stop being disappointed that I had made the cut off. That’s right – this ride was HARD and part of me wanted to quit really badly.  In fact, part of me wanted to be fished out of the water but anyhow… on I went with the mantra of ‘just keep going – just see how it goes’.

I knew we had another hard climb and then a descent and then 30 miles flat and then a climb back.  I got out there to the flat and about 1/2 way back pulled into an aid station and said, “I don’t think I can make the cut off” wanting to stop.  The Volunteer said, “SURE YOU CAN!” keep going!  Damnit! – So I did.  I pulled out of Pemberton at about 3:30 or something like that so I had made that cut off.


IMC Pemberton

Pemberton Meadow Rd. – flat, flat, flat


Then the real climbing started and I was so tired.. so very tired.  I even pushed my bike up a hill that apparently a lot of other people had pushed their bikes up.  Then I got back on and kept riding but at some point I got to the last aid station and I was certain – 100% certain that the 1 hour I had left would not get me back to T2 in time.  I thought I was 17 miles out due to my Garmin getting screwed up.  Turns out I was wrong and I was probably more like 10 or 11 miles out but I wasn’t moving at 10 or 11 MPH.  I was climbing at about 6 – 7 MPH and I had a lot of miles of that to go.  So I bailed.  I quit.  I stopped.  I waited for a SAG wagon to pick me up.

I rode in in a truck and we followed the last riders. I watched them pedal and pedal and pedal and I watched the clock turn to 5:30 and they were not going to make it and I was glad I had done myself a favor and quit.  That is until I wasn’t glad.

I’ve triangulated the numbers a 1,000 times. I’ve looked up the results of others who were near me and sure enough, they mostly didn’t make the cut off.   Most of them took about 2 hrs and 15 minutes to get to T2 from the last timing mat and I only had 2 hours to work with.  All but 1 person; 1 woman my age who did make it. She made it by about 30 seconds and she finished the run and she’s happy.  Of course she was about 2 minutes ahead of me at the last timing split so I suspect I would have ended up like those other women who missed the cut off by minutes.  And that makes me glad again. I would have been bitterly disappointed to have climbed another 6+ miles of hills only to have missed the cut off.

I’m kind of happy.  I’m glad I went in spite of the injury and work travel (I didn’t mention that part) and the utter lack of training. I learned that I have a really good base and it’s commendable that could get as far as I did under the circumstances.  Sadly, I’m not done.  I have unfinished business.

Whistler is beautiful, though. I’m happy to head back there for Round 2.

IMC Whistler


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It’s been a while since I update this blog thingie. That’s partly because I work a lot and partly because the whole typing thing was impacted for 8 weeks due to my hand being in a cast. So here’s what happened:
1). May 18th, 2013 during a group ride returning from watching the Amgen Tour of California I got in an accident and hurt my thumb

2). May 19th I swam Sharkfest with my hand taped up because I figured it was just jammed up – no biggie

3). May 20th I got to the doctor, demure on getting an x-ray, am told to go get an x-ray, end up in a cast.The cast was waterproof so I could swim and run and spin and I did

4). June 7th I decide I need to check my cast and get new one because it’s sore under the cast and my thumb has too much movement (why I waited that long I will never know!)

5). June 7th I return to the doctor, ready to get the cast off – yay! Cast is removed, thumb is x-rayed- bad news… the bone slipped and I need surgery so they can pin it together. I am very, very sad. She wants to do the surgery the following Friday, June 14th but I have a 1/2 marathon to run so I beg to put it off until Monday and she agrees.

6). June 16th I have surgery – the full blown deal where you are put under. I wake up and have this enormous plaster 1/2 cast wrapped on to my hand with an ace bandage and I’m grateful that God invented vicoden.

7). June 25th it’s back to the doctor to remove the crazy plaster thing and get a real cast. I now have 4 pins sticking out of my hand and it’s gross.

8). July 5th I go in for surgery follow up and I’m all excited because I’m SURE they are going to take the pins out! WRONG!! She just wanted to get a look and make sure it was healing well. I am devastated because training in this cast is not good and it hurts and the not waterproof cast gets wet and gross and, like I said, it hurts. So my training goes to hell and I feel my Ironman slipping away. Not happy but grateful I have a hand to be unhappy about.

9). July 19 – FINALLY!! I go to get the pins out and she pulls them out without benefit of any anesthetic. That was pleasant – NOT! But they are out and my hand is going to be perfect!

10). July 20 – my hand hurts so much I think I need to go to the ER. It’s Saturday night and the local hospital has a trauma center and decide I’ll probably wake up the morning so I take some blessed vicoden and go to bed.

11). July 21 – I wake up and it feels better but I am confronted with the reality that my hand isn’t just going to come back in a flash – it’s going to be a while.

12) July 22 – Aug 2…. I get back on the trainer, I swim a little, I run a little but my hand is a weak, whimpering shadow of its former self and I can’t squeeze the brakes on my bike and I am sad. But I am grateful to have a hand to be sad about.

My Ironman dreams are very dim at this point but the IChing tells us perseverance furthers and so I hang on for a better day……

1st  Cast

blackthumbkin on the mend pinkpins

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There’s a funny picture of Mr. Rogers apparently flipping someone off on the internet. I took one look at it and knew perfectly well that wasn’t what was happening. Mr. Rogers give someone the bird?  I don’t think so.  I mean really, look at that smile.



No – Mr. Rogers was singing “Where is Thumbkin?” a 50s classic.

You can’t tell from this video but it starts with “Where is Thumbkin”

Here is Miss Holly from Skokie with her rendition (skip to 40 to get to the point)

Speaking of getting to the point – the point of this post isn’t to educate you about Mr. Rogers or kid songs from the 50s; the point is to bring you up to speed on me. I have a broken thumbkin!  On May 18 while on a group ride I slowed down at a stop sign and, as I was speeding back up, something happened and down I went.  Another woman went down, too.  It happened fast so who knows?  I think she crashed into me and she thinks I wobbled into her but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that my thumb hurt like hell.

Undaunted, I taped it on Sunday and headed off to swim Sharkfest 2013.  One thing I know about this swim, since I’ve done it a few times before, is that you must head to the left of the opening in the breakwater to get into Aquatic Park where it finishes. If you don’t, you get caught in a current that is, at best, really difficult to fight and at worst, impossible to fight.

Sharkfest 2013 annotated  That arrow represents the point of no return.  I saw that I was to the right of the opening and so I swam and swam and swam as hard as I could.  I was okay with that because I figured it gave me lots of extra yards. At some point I looked up and realized that I was getting further and further and further away from the opening and then I looked all around me to see people in boats.  Game over.  I also got in a boat that took us over to the opening and then we jumped off and swam in.  My time was not stellar but I didn’t really care. It was a beautiful day and I got in a beautiful swim and for a little while my thumb hurt a little less.

Monday I made an appointment with an orthopedist and then Tuesday I almost cancelled it because “Hey!  my thumb feels better!”  but I reminded myself that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV so I went.

The technicians tried to give me an x-ray right away and I waved them off, “Oh no – it feels better. The doctor just needs to give it a little exam”.  And she did – and then told me I needed x-rays.  (side note – that rebel thing has never worked for me so you’d think I’d just give it up, right?)  The x-rays revealed a break and where Thumbkin went from there was right here:



Damnit!  I spent 3 weeks in that cast and then, on Monday June 21 when I went to have it removed she took more x-rays and said, “Oh darn. So sorry. The bone has slipped and now you need surgery.”


I had a big training weekend planned so I demurred on having surgery Friday, but Monday it is.  And then Thumbkin will go back to jail for another month.

That pretty red cast was waterproof so I could swim and workout on a spin bike and run.  Hopefully, after my incision heals I can get another one of those for the last 2 weeks of  Thumbkin Goes to Jail.  Crossed fingers and prayers on that (if you are the praying type)  would be most appreciated.

Next up  - my SF Half Marathon but I had to get up at 3:30 AM to race it so for now it’s nap time.  ‘Night, internet people!



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I did a ‘century’ ride on Saturday (The Motherlode Century – great ride) . My intention was to ride the 94 mile version but things happen and that wasn’t one of them.

This ride had a lot of climbing – a LOT of climbing. It was hot.  The people I was with dropped me.  I got into a very bad spin cycle in which I flushed myself down the crapper emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  The route looks like this:


elevation 64 mi

The elevation map for the metric century part of the Motherlode Century

I got to that arrow  and then cried Uncle when someone said the climb out of the gorge was at 12% – 15%.  I just couldn’t hack the load.  So I got in the sag  truck with my bike and rode up to the second peak there where they had the lunch stop.  I ate, met my friends who all managed to climb that thing, and easily rode back to the start with them because they were spent and I was rested.  Maybe not easily as my legs were just screaming in pain when we had to ride  anything you could describe as ‘up’ but I kept up.   It was the best part of the day for me – almost.

The best part was sitting in the freezing cold river after the ride and then getting a massage.

The worst part was how mean and nasty I was to myself on that ride.  It was the part where I was sure I had made a big mistake, that I have no business doing an Ironman, that I am old, and weak, and not worthy and I shouldn’t bother even trying. That was the darkness I leveled on myself.

Yesterday I was supposed to go for a 2 hour run. I really didn’t want to. I was pretty sure it would be awful.  It was a hot, hot day and so I put I off until 7 PM and then I thought – “I hate this crap; but I’ll run 30 minutes;  maybe I’ll run an hour.”

I threw myself out the door and started running and it did not suck. It did not feel terrible and therefore it felt great!  I felt like Superwoman.  I felt like I could run just about forever and so I ran. Or rather I did was I was supposed to do which was run 10 minutes and walk 30 seconds. And I did it over and over and over.

I only did it for 1:25 because I ran out light and I ran out of fuel due to grabbing a caffeinated gel.  There was no way I was swallowing that thing at 8:00 PM but it was okay. I was so happy to have enjoyed my run that I didn’t worry about it.

And now I feel okay.  Now I feel like I can. And I need to remember this – I need to remember there are good days and there are bad days and there are days when I can’t live up to my own (unrealistic) expectations.  And it’s okay as long as I keep putting on the suit or the shoes and I keep trying.  It’s okay.

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My daughter’s Mother in law wrote this.  She is a wonderful writer and it’s a great story.



I Can’t Promise to Obey




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So – I haven’t written about it but I signed up for IM Canada again. I’ve seen a podiatrist and my foot issues are under control. I have a coach and a plan and I am training. It’s going well and I’m excited.

I just decided to compare my training volume from last year to this year to make myself feel really good about how hard I am working and you know what I found?  I was training a year ago. Not as well as now, not as deliberately but I was training. I could have done that race if I could have found the heart.  And you know what contributed to me not finding the heart? My friends who said,  “if you aren’t in to it don’t do it”. That is a very, very bad piece of advice to give someone looking for an excuse to back out.  It would have been really great if someone would have said, “think carefully before you  bail – once you quit you’re done”.  That’s what I would say.

So I quit and I spent months whining and hating on myself.  I stopped trying. Big mistake.  Huge mistake.

It didn’t help that I had a job that owned me (I have a new job now) or that I had no faith in myself.  It didn’t help that I was feeling like a failure and hating on the whole world.  I’m not sure any words from anyone could have turned me around but I am sure that helping someone quit when they are down in the dumps is not a good thing to do. Don’t do that.  Ask questions.  Offer support.  Don’t give advice.

I’m back in the saddle and working hard and I have many days where I think it’s stupid and I feel crappy and I’m still suffering some odd and unjustified malaise but I’m pushing through and doing things that are hard that I don’t want to do and I’m feeling stronger.  I’m on my side now and so are my friends and it’s good – it’s really good.

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