There are some things in life that come easy and there are some you have to work for and yearn for and keep after.  I am partially through realizing a dream that has taken quite some time but the icing on the cake is just around the corner.

Sunday I race Ironman Canada in Whistler and I really could not be more excited and happy. I have trained, I am ready, and in the process of getting here, lived exactly the experience I played in my head more times than I can count.

I’ve been on this journey for 3 years.  In 2012 I signed up because some other friends had signed up and I thought it would be fun to train with them and race with them. Ultimately  I could not rise to the occasion. I whined about my injuries. I was too slow, I couldn’t train with my race day partners because they were too fast or, in one case, her life was fully impacted by a parent dying of cancer and twins graduating from high school and she was never around and really couldn’t train.  By the time race weekend arrived I had withdrawn from the race, cancelled my airline reservations and just paid for my spot in a house I never saw.  She went and did not make the swim cut off because she spent about 2 hours training for a 2.4 mile swim which never goes well.

Last year I hired a coach and was training in earnest but not with anyone else doing the race.  It was fine and I was enjoying it some  but I got in a minor bike accident that resulted in a broken thumb.  I had on a waterproof cast and continued to train for 3 weeks but then the thumb didn’t heal, I had surgery and ended up in plaster cast. Could not swim and running was very uncomfortable as was working out on a spin bike.  I went to Whistler with friends, toed the line and then pulled myself off of the bike course at what I thought was mile 95 but was really closer to mile 102.  I thought I couldn’t make the cut off. I could have made the cut off.  I’ve beat myself up about it a lot but now I’m glad it happened because it lead to this year.

Team Redeem

This year I hired the same coach and my IM partner from 2012 who also DNF’d hired the same coach and thus began 7 months of camaraderie and training together on the weekends.  We are roughly the same speed and so we spent many, many hours riding and running and doing open water swims and anticipating this day and discussing our fears and our glee at overcoming our DNFs.  We are Team Redeem and come Sunday we will swim, ride, run and conquer.

 

 

photo (35)

Thursday we will board the same plan and then the same bus and stay in the same condo. We will go to athlete registration together and eat together and go for quick swim/ride/run sessions together and go to the athlete briefing together and get up at the ass crack of dawn Sunday together and board the bus together and hug each other good luck and then  get in the water at the same time.   And then we will part ways and I will be out of the water before her because I’m a faster swimmer but I hope to be united later in the race.

In my head we will meet up on the run course and keep each other going and we will finish together.  And maybe it will go that way and maybe she will pass me at some point on the bike (she rides faster than me) and maybe I will stay ahead of her (not likely) but eventually we will both cross that line and we will be Team Redeemed.

My goal is to make it as big in real life as it is in my head and so far, so good. That doesn’t mean I need to finish in a certain time although I have my goals.  It doesn’t mean the dream has to come exactly true although I hope it does. It means I need to keep going no matter what the day hands me and I need to finish and have that medal hung around my neck and I need Kaaren to finish and have that medal hung around her neck and I need us to get a picture together in front of the M-dot background and I need us to feel that overwhelming sense of accomplishment and relief and pride.  That will be plenty to make my dream come true.

Let the games begin!

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I did a ride this weekend called the BOB which stands for Best of the Bay. And by  “best’, they mean climbs – the best climbs.  Truth is, there are so many great climbs around here that you could actually argue over which constitute the Best but there’s no arguing that this was one of the best organized rides I’ve ever been on.

The aid stations featured, in order:

1). Latkes and applesauce, fruit, Peets coffee (and water, heed and fruit)

2).  Fritatas, goat cheese and almond crostini (and water, heed and fruit)

3). Lunch – wraps, chips, fruit, great drinks including Pelligrino sodas

4).  chips, little brownies with peanut butter on them and some other stuff. This one was more standard but we were close to end where you got a free ride at a buffet restaurant.

I can’t recommend this ride enough if you live in the Bay Area. Kudos to the Cherry City Cyclists for putting on a great event.  I hope they use the proceeds to throw themselves a big old party!

I skipped one of the climbs (the extra 2100 ft at the end)  but here is what I did:

BOB 2014

 

According to my training partner’s Garmin that is about 8800 ft of climbing. Mine said 8600 ft.  She really kicked ass on this ride so maybe that’s why she gets the extra credit.   Either way, can you say Badass?

 

And then today was run day so I did this:

Mt. D Run

 

And that’s 1,256 ft of climbing

So, mileage and elevation on the weekend was 112 and 8856 ft.

 

I wish my race were in 2 weeks because I am ready. Ready for the course, ready to stop training, ready to get it done!  As it is, I get a rest week and then it’s back to a long combo workout July 4th weekend and maybe a local 10K, too.

 

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The weekend started out with SHARKFEST!  which is a swim from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park.  This was my 6th run at it and so far it was Sharks 0/21CM 5.  I intended to keep it that way but you just never know when you’re going to need a bigger boat.

 

 

I was accompanied by my local friend Kathy and my long distance, creepy internet friend what I love, Dread Pirate Rackham.

 

Sharkfest Sharkfest 3 Amigas Sharkfest Bia

 

We suited up, including strapping on our Bias   walked to the ferry, rode out to Alcatraz where we  jumped off a perfectly servicable ferry, into 55 degree water.  WHOO!  Cold and shocking and then, there you are – out in the middle of San Francisco bay – WITH SHARKS!   DPR and I attempted to stay together but it really doesn’t take long to get separated in a crowd of 800 swimmers.  Good thing sharks don’t like crowds.

Off I went, happily sighting off the lead boat and thinking I was doing so great!  I would be with people then alone, then with people, then alone and then… disaster!  SHARK ATTACK!! No, not really.

I got such a wicked cramp in  my leg I thought I was going to cry.  A kayaker saw my sad, pained face and paddled over to see if I was okay.  I ended up putting my feet on on her kayak and she was nice enough to massage the cramp away.  This was a such a touching sight and such a fantastic example of how great the support is out there that someone snapped a picture so we can all enjoy my little swimming interlude.

Alcatraz Cramp

This picture also covers reason 2,367 of why I love the internet because it was posted on Facebook and I got a chance to thank this lovely young woman for helping me out.

I wanted to hug her but I was still pretty far out  and still wanting to get to shore before a shark ate me that  I took off.    Only problem was I took off heading a little too far west, and  got caught in the current AGAIN! (just like last year).   You can see how quickly I got dragged out and let me tell you, once you get caught in that current you are not likely to get out without assistance and so, for the 2nd time on the day, I got help. This time it was from an SFPD guy on a ski-doo with a sled thing on the back.  I climbed up and held on for dear life while he trolled the waters for others to rescue. He picked up another guy and we crossed arms and hung on for dear life while this cop  drove like a maniac, twisting and swerving all over the place – it was awesome!  I wish I had left the Bia on because I’m sure it would have been an interesting path.

Anyhow, he got us to the opening of Aquatic Park where we rolled off and swam to shore, chagrined but happy to be alive, all limbs attached.  I was also frozen – it took until I got changed and into a heated car to stop shaking.

Sharkfest Trace

 

Alcatraz Exit

We did what any sensible people would do and went out for a giant breakfast – yum! After that I drove home, met up with my training partner, Kaaren and off we went to Folsom because we were racing Folsom Long Course Triathlon!  Do  I hear your head ringing with the word BADASS?!! I believe I do!

Here we are pre-race – so fresh, so ready to conquer the day!  You can’t even tell it is 6AM because as you can see, it is so very bright and sunny!

 

 

FLCT Before

Our swim wave went off at 6:36 and that part went okay.  It seemed a little long but doesn’t 1.2 miles of swimming always seem a little long?  The water was nice, though.

The bike was good.  I loved the course and the intersections were well managed and protected and it didn’t seem that hot. I probably should have gone a little harder but I knew I had long, hot run coming up so I held back a little.

Did I mention hot?  Holy Hell, people, it was 105 out there.  The second I started running I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me – no way!”  But on I went.  I stopped at every aid station and put ice down my bra, down my pants and in my hat. I drank, drank, drank and I ran when I could.  I managed to run from one aid station to the next for a long time but after about 10 miles it didn’t even seem like a good idea.  I figured there was no sense in dying out there so I walked a bunch of the last 3 miles.  And then I was done.  And here we are, burned to a crisp, fried in every way and wearing our much deserved medals.

FLCT After 1

After we got home I did the only sensible thing a person could do.  I sent my baby girl out for Chipotle and then after we ate I took her to BART and then stopped at Safeway for some recovery food and I sat on the couch eating this stuff and watching Orange is the New Black and let my head ring with the word “BADASS!  Oh yes you are”

FLCT After 3

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I have a new toy and her name is Sweet Bia. She is a new GPS device built by 2 uber smart and ambitious women who didn’t like what the market had to offer so they built their own. You can read all about it here at your leisure. I am going to do a full blown, feature rich review soon but for now I want to review how it did on my swims today.

 

I did a 1K swim followed by a 2.5K swim.  I wore both the Bia and the Garmin and here’s what I got.  The title of each image tells you how long the swim is in kilometers and how many miles that is supposed to be.  It also tells you what each device measured in miles.

Bia was way closer than Garmin.  For the 2.5K swim I forgot to turn the Bia off for 7 minutes and wandered around a  bit (okay, fine – I really had to pee and I was in a wetsuit so I just got back in the water – so sue me!) so that accounts for some of it. NB – the Garmin was off during this maneuver so that accounts for none of its extra distance.

If you look at the trace of my swim from either device you can see what accounts for, you know, a wee extra distance on both.  Swimming in a straight line is not my strong suit. Conclusion – Bia beats the stuffing out of Garmin for OWS accuracy.  Sadly, neither device can help me swim without wandering about the course in search of the next buoy.   1K swim 2.5K swim

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If I were feeling more prolific and profound I would write a bunch of stuff about how different this year is. I would reminisce about how fit I was in 2009 when I raced B2B and how I started working again in 2010 and never trained but still raced and how I kept on racing in 2011 and it got worse and worse and worse until I finally crashed my bike at Vineman at mile 13 on the bike but I finished the race and then went into shock and got really sick and then I got MRSA in my injuries and couldn’t train for weeks and then how deflated and fat and inept I felt. And then I could talk about how I tried to come back in 2012 and signed up for Ironman Canada in Penticton but I was all whiney and bummed out about my lack of fitness plus I had a really painful neuroma and couldn’t ride my bike more than 50 miles without it killing me and I couldn’t really run so I withdrew from the race. And then in 2013 I signed up again and I was training (or so I thought) but then I broke my thumb and that tanked my training but I showed up anyhow and raced but pulled out at what turned out to be about mile 102 on the bike only I thought it was mile 95 and I only had an hour and no way to make that (but I could have made it).  And here I am again and although I’m working I have a different job that doesn’t own me and my neuroma is still there but not so bad and I am training for real and I fit feel and strong again.  And this is what that looks like:

 

Training Volume

 

 

I’m not sure I tracked my swimming before last year but anyhow, I think we see a trend and I’m feeling good about my race this year.  May 12 is when I broke my thumb so if I keep making these charts we can expect to see the delta between last year and this year grow – and that’s a good thing.

 

 

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I just threw my fat pants away – HA!

I don’t know how it happened. I don’t feel like I changed much of anything except you know, training for Ironman.   But I’ve been doing that since early Feb and the weight would not budge. And then it did. And then it fled.  Not complaining… nope.

 

So adios fat pants – and don’t come back!

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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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Jan20
0

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.

Enjoy!

 

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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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