Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Attention and Control

I went to see my acupuncturist yesterday, who is married to a family friend of mine. (I'm having back pain that he is unable to treat directly. He can't get close to my hips, since I'm pregnant.) He is teaching his first lecture course at an acupuncture school. He said there were a couple of students who were disruptive in the classroom. That's Flip Flop for you. College students are like junior high school students, except they don't bathe as regularly.

He talked to my dad, who is a retired junior high school teacher, and he gave him what turned out to be some very useful advice. He said disruptive students are of two types: ones who just want attention, and ones who want to control the classroom. You have to figure out what type you are dealing with, and act accordingly. If you give the one who want attention what they want, their discipline problems stop. But if you give attention to the ones who want control, you're just playing into their game, and they will just continue being disruptive.

I thought this was interesting advice. I have a few teachers who read this blog, so I thought they might find it interesting. I also wonder how much this can apply to people in general, and not just students. I think I generally assume that people just need to know you care about them, and they will start to treat you well, but maybe that isn't always the case.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Seattle Highlights - Draft 2

Um... I published this last night when I was very, very tired. I still am very, very tired, so there might still be mistakes. I know there are still fragmented sentences and don't care, but at least what is written below makes a bit more sense than what I wrote last night. I hardly ever go back and fix my mistakes, but it was way too embarrassing.

I spent last week in Seattle with my family. My father, mother, sister, two brothers, two sister-in-laws, two nieces, and my husband. It was nice to get away from work, and to be surrounded by family. We rented a big house on Lake Washington. My mom did tons of cooking, and I helped a little by making fried chicken one night and pasta another. It was fun, although sometimes a little overwhelming.

Highlights:

1. Swimming with my mom. We found a pool close by, which was old, but clean, and we were lucky enough to be able to split a lane both times we swam. I made up little workouts which we sort of stuck to. She acted proud of me when I tried to keep up with some high schoolers in a lane adjacent to ours. Not bad for 17 weeks pregnant.

2. Meeting a third cousin of mine, who is family historian. I learned a few interesting things about my family. One thing I learned is that my great, great grandmother was illegitimate, and the details surrounding her birth are a complete mystery. I knew a bit about it beforehand, but was told what was apparently a tall tale that her mother was made pregnant before her wedding night by a Jewish baron a "rite of the first night" sort of like in Braveheart. This was apparently not true, as my great, great grandmother was born 5 years after the husband of my great, great, great grandmother died. Various stories surround how it happens, but no one knows for sure. Most people don't want to talk about it, and those that do have different stories.

I also learned that it is sort of in the habit of my ancestors to move around quite a bit, which might explain a bit of my own restless nature. What else? One of my ancestors invented the sign that businesses hang in windows that says "Will Return" with a clock where you move the hands to a time. Another designed a large church in Rotterdam, which is where my family in the Netherlands is from. That's kind of funny, if you know my husband Raybon's last name. Also, my great grandfather, who I always knew as Harry, was actually named Hendrik. At his funeral, he was called Henry, which confused me, but Hendrik makes sense, since he was born in the Netherlands. Apparently, he, like lots of people in my family went around changing their names a lot.

So now I know lots about my great grandfather's portion of the family. I know a bit about my Japanese family, at least I know they are from Japan, which is helpful. I know little about the rest of my Dad's family though. I don't even know where my last name came from. Could be Irish, Scottish, French, English, or German. It's a Latin, biblical name and has origins in many countries in Europe. I always thought I was Irish, and there may be some basis to that, but my family tree ends before it gets back there.

3. My hilarious niece Aliana. She's only 3, but smart as a whip, and has a natural sense of humor. My other niece Anjali is 6, and is shy, so sometimes Aliana fills us in on what Anjali is thinking when she won't speak up herself. She seemed upset, and wouldn't answer why, when we all piled into the minivan to take a trip into downtown Seattle. Aliana explained "She's upset because she has to sit next to that guy." That guy was her uncle, my brother. We all cracked up. When we exchanged presents later, Rose and my brother signed the card on Aliana's present "From Rose and That Guy." After everyone cracked up again, Aliana spent the rest of the week referring to her uncle as "That Guy" in order to get more laughs.

4. Sitting and reading with my Dad while everyone else watched Wall-E.

5. Having time to read, and just get out of my daily routine and habits. Finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Secret Life of Bees, started a hastily written book about Michael Phelps.

6. Seeing how beautiful Washington State was, especially the views of the mountains on the flight over.

7. Buying my first maternity clothes.

8. Getting to know my older brother and his family a bit better, and spending time with the rest of my siblings.

9. Raybon being a real trooper and chauffeuring everyone around in our rented minivan.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Harry Potter

I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I started it shortly after it was released in July 2007, after Raybon, who always has first dibs on the books finished it in a couple of days. When I first started reading it, I was kind of sick of Harry Potter. I felt like J.K. Rowling had blown her wad in Book 4, wtih the rise of Voldemort. So much of the next couple of books seemed like annoying filler in overly long books where not enough plot advancement or character development to merit the pages. Hermione and Ron's bickering was annoying, Harry's anger got old. But I feel like the last half of Book 7 redeemed it for me, and I again love Harry Potter.

Harry Potter is my hero. Why?

1. He genuinely loves his friends. They are more than sidekicks to him. He appreciates them, relies on them, and lets them feel like heroes, too. Since I feel like I am much more the sidekick type than the hero type, I can genuinely appreciate this.

2. He is both goodhearted and modest against all odds. He was brought up by a cruel and neglectful Aunt and Uncle, then thrown into fame and glory in the wizarding world. Neither of these things spoil him.

3. He's brave. It's one thing I admire in people more than almost anything. I know almost no one I would think of as truly brave. To me, courage means more than what it takes to be an amazing athlete or war hero. Someone who is brave has integrity, will stand up for his friends at any cost, and has the courage to love others.

4. He's a fictional character. The series is over, so he'll never break my heart.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Everyone Be Nice To Me

I should wear a sign that says this for the duration of my pregnancy, perhaps? Obviously, I don't have PMS right now, but being pregnant sometimes feels like having it for months on end.

This is totally lame, but this is just a reprint of a post from October 2007.

I'm in a super sensitive, paranoid, PMS-y, should-lock-myself-in-a-padded-room-for-the-next-few-days-kind-of-mood. I could elaborate over and over again about the weird interactions I've had from people, but it would break my rules of using my blog as a rant. Over and over and over again. People are mean! Or I'm too sensitive. That is probably it.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Traffic Surge

I got a huge surge of hits on my blog this weekend, too big to be a coincidence. I'm not asking individual people to out themselves yet (although that would be nice to know), but can anyone at least help account for why this might be?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I've Been So Quiet Lately

I'm the sort of person who when she speaks, generally speaks her mind. Sometimes I think it is why I am so shy. I don't have normal social defense mechanisms like small talk, and it is very hard for me to lie. My dad says I, like my mom, am honest to a fault.

So I've been quiet on this blog, and quiet in real life. I'm been hiding something. I found out 7 weeks ago that I am pregnant.

Apologies to everyone I've been evasive with. I don't think I've flat out lied to anyone. Using "I don't feel well as an excuse" is easy when you're almost constantly feeling a little tired, headachy, and queasy. When people ask me about my plans for the next year, if I'm doing an Ironman or some huge swim, rather than telling them I'm pregnant, I tell them we're planning on starting a family soon.

I can't complain too much. The sickness hasn't been too bad. Sometimes I'll gag on my toothbrush, but that's the worst of it. Hormone headaches suck, though.

So far it has been an amazing experience. I'm bringing with it all my strengths and all my weaknesses. How much to divulge? I wasn't sure that I was ready when I found out, but it's been a huge experience in trusting myself, God, and the universe that it is all going to work out, one way or another.

Great things about being pregnant:

1. Believing I'm ready to bring a life into this world has made me accept myself and my life in a way I never have. I think I've always thought of being a parent as the most important job in the world, and convincing myself I'm worthy of this role has given me a sense of peace I lacked.

2. Nothing else seems like as big a deal. The economy is falling apart, but I figure "Whatever will be, will be." I can't say I'm always peaceful, though. I can be downright ornery... Work has been stressful lately.

3. It's nice having an excuse to take good care of myself. Why should I feel like I ever needed an excuse? I shouldn't... But I've always found it easier to stick up for another person than myself. Me and the baby are a team. :)

4. For once in my life, I'm not trying to lose weight. I am worried about gaining too much, much more so than I thought I would be. I always announced happily to people that I would get fat as a cow when I was pregnant, and wouldn't worry at all, but it's been harder letting go of that than I thought.

This all sounds a tad bit narcissistic. I'm having a baby! It's not all about me and my personal growth! The whole baby thing hasn't sunk in entirely. I'm going to take this thing as it comes, I guess. Right now I'm pregnant. Later, I'll be in labor. Then I'll have an infant. Then a toddler. Then a child. Then a teenager....

It's been interesting going back and forth between being in the moment and planning for the future. I'm much happier when I'm a little more fuzzy brained about the whole thing. When I think too hard about it, I'm liable to freak out. But when I relax, I can feel all I'm feeling, and sometimes I'm joyful, sometimes quietly content, sometimes overwhelmed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I'm OK

I know I haven't blogged since Willow died. In case any of you think I may have slipped into a deep depression and am avoiding all communication with the rest of the human world, rest assured, I'm actually OK. I miss her, but life does go on.

What have I been up to? I haven't been racing. I've cut way back on training, although I still do some kind of exercising most days, just not Half Ironman style. I've been doing lots of cooking. I baked cookies for the first time in well over a year. I've been thinking about the economy, the presidential race, and have started looking at moving over the hill closer to work. Raybon doesn't think we'll be able to sell our house, but I figure it might be worth a shot. I'll sort of miss the Flip Flop area. More later... I have to get back to work.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Willow passed very peacefully today.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Congratulations Mike!

By now the news has spread far and wide, so you may have already heard, but Mike made it across the Catalina Channel. Read more about his amazing accomplishment on his blog:

http://catalinachannelswim.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Commitment

I had the idea of doing Big Kahuna in the back of my mind the past few months. I never signed up for the race, figuring I could sign up at the Expo at the last minute if I wanted to do it. I just felt like I needed a break from the stress of a difficult event being my main focus in my training. I guess you could say I was burnt out.

I think what I've learned from this is that I should either be in or out when it comes to races. I seem flakey to everyone around me if I don't do the race I talked about maybe doing. And I'm not committed to what it is I was trying to do, taking a break from training for a huge race and feeling burnt out.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Rebuttals to Sarah Palin's Speech at RNC

Claim:

Sen. Barack Obama "is a man who has authored two memoirs but not a single major law or reform -- not even in the state senate."

Rebuttal:

http://mediamatters.org/items/200809040007?f=h_latest

Claim:

"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities."

Rebuttal:

http://www.time-blog.com/swampland/2008/09/what_a_community_organizer_doe.html

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Willow

The news from the oncologist was not very good. Willow is unlikely to live very long no matter what we decide to do. She still seems very happy. I just took her for a walk, and she wagged her tail the whole time. Of course the time we have left with her is now very precious, and we hope to make it as happy for her as we can.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

New Update on Willow

I have an appointment with a veterinary oncologist tomorrow morning. I'll keep you all posted with anything new. Thanks to all of you who have asked about her.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Shout Outs

Kudos to some of the amazing athletes I have the pleasure of being acquainted with.

- Tim, Kirsten, Michele, Sally, and David (actually I don't know that I've ever met him) from T.S. who all did 24 Hours of Triathlon SOLO on Saturday and Sunday. This is a race where people do as many laps of mini triathlons in 24 hours. Tim got first place and may have set the record. Kirsten, Michele, and Sally got first 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively. The relays from T.S. also did awesomely, too, placing first in the 4+ team division (Mike, Sarah, Joe, Bob, Keith, and Mirella) and almost tying for first in the team of 2 division (Lennard and Ian). Mary, the wife of David (one of the soloists), and their two sons (Brian and Eric) made up a team of 3, making for a superbly fit and adventurous family. Congrats all! All of us at T.S. are proud of you.

- Mike, who is swimming the Catalina Channel solo on Wednesday. This is more than 20miles of swimming in shark infested water, and he'll start swimming for hours in the dark. Best of luck, Mike! I can't wait to hear all about your success.

- Jocelyn who is leaving Wednesday to pursue her dream of becoming a professional triathlete by going to a training camp with her team, TeamTBB in the Philippines. Bon Voyage, Joey! I'm so excited for you! Don't forget us little people when you're Ironman World Champion!

- This congralations is a long time coming (at least on this blog), but one of my other Catalina Channel Relay members, Emily, did the Catalina Channel solo this year. Read all about the fulfilmment of her dream at http://rosewaterswim.blogspot.com/

Friday, August 29, 2008

Update on Willow

I took Willow to get an ultrasound today. She doesn't have any growths or signs of heart disease, but her pleural cavity has an abnormal lining of cells. This makes diagnosis a little more tricky, because there is no growth to extract cells from. She may have mesothelioma or adenocarcinoma. Inflammation or infection could also be a cause, but the lab work probably would have showed higher white blood cell counts if that were problem.

Other than heavier than normal breathing, she doesn't seem too bad. The vet who did the ultrasound was surprised by how much fluid was in her lungs, because she seemed like such a happy dog. The other vet remarked that she probably has no idea what is going on with her.

So we'll talk to an oncologist and figure out what to do. My initial thought was to make her more comfortable, but we'll consider the other options. The approach to chemotherapy is not the same in animals as in people. It doesn't make them sick or make their hair fall out, because the goal isn't necessarily to completely eradicate it, but to control it.

I was anxious all day, but I'm feeling a little better thinking about how we might be able to cure her. I'm trying to be strong for Willow, because she is happier if I am happy.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Antidote to Whining

So, as I've said before, the antidote to whining is probably gratitude.

Thanks to (almost all people who don't even know about this blog, and should probably thank in person):

- Kathy for being my cycling partner for most of the ride. She spent a lot of time waiting for me, as she climbs and descends much faster than I do. I felt safer knowing someone was keeping track of where I was.

- Tim for sending the route out for the ride weeks ahead of time, for carefully planning a safe, manageable, but challenging route, and for arranging SAG support for this tough ride. Also, just for being a supportive coach and a good guy.

- Jeff for helping Tim plan the route and giving me encouragement. Also that East Bay cyclist who came with us on the ride, but whose name I don't remember.

- Mike, for providing SAG support and encouragement.

- Kim, for keeping me company for a good part of the climb up Mt. Diablo, for being willing to ride the course with me if I decided to make the entire climb, and just being a comforting, kind person.

- Sally for sharing her water and salt tablets with me.

- Martin for calling me to congratulate me and making sure I was OK.

- Amy for emailing me encouragement before the ride.

- Tons of other people who gave me encouragement along the route: Mike, Lennard, Tanja, Kathryn C, Cara, Michele, and people I may have forgotten or whose names I don't know.

- God for getting me safely through it all.

- Me for being gutsy enough to do a ride like this.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Willow

Willow has had abnormal breathing, so I took her to the vet on Friday. The vet did an X-ray that showed she had fluid in her lungs. They did a bunch of lab work, gave her some medicine, and told me they'd let us know what they'd find. She seemed to be getting better, so I thought all the worry was for naught. But then I got a call late last night from the vet, and found out that her test results are most likely to be consistent with lung cancer.

I won't go into the personal details about how I feel about this. If you've ever loved and lost a pet you probably know. I don't have any deep thoughts about this, and any that I might have would sort of sound detached, analytical and callous anyways. This blog is mostly read by people who care about me more than what I write about anyways, so I just thought I'd let you all know what is going on, so you can understand if I seem a little subdued.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mt. Diablo - First Attempt

View Interactive Map on MapMyTri.com

I did most of the ride linked above on Sunday. I didn't quite make it to the top of Mt. Diablo, because of a miscommunication between myself and my cycling partner. We had about 20 minutes to go when we turned around. Still the second climb of the day had more elevation gain than the amount we had to go up Mt. Diablo, so I feel like I had a successful ride nonetheless. It was my longest, hottest (93 degrees) ride I've ever done, with the most climbing. The ride up Mt. Diablo itself was fun. It hadn't gotten too hot yet, and I think summiting peaks on my bike has the same sort of appeal as swimming across bodies of water. I don't want to say that you feel like you've conquered it, but you have a feeling of attachment to something powerful. And though it was almost too hot to enjoy it, the sky was beautiful and blue against a sea of yellow grass.

A lot of awful things happened on this ride, but I suppose it is just more to whine/brag about. I told my Auntie Shirley that trying to be an athlete was supposed to teach me to be less of a whiner, and she said that maybe it would just afford more opportunities to whine. Here I go with the whining:

- I'm a chicken at descents, and lots of climbing means lots of descending. I really freaked out on the last descent of the day. It was really steep, and the caffeine gel I consumed probably made me more nervous. (Me and caffeine don't generally mix. See http://www.homestarrunner.com/sbemail91.html to get some understanding.) My contact lenses also dried up a bit, and at one point sort of came slightly unseated, which was really freaky on a steep curvy road. Gotta work this out before I ever do a ride like this again. I also somehow forgot to go easy on the front brake. I haven't been on my bike in about a month (other than the trainer) so maybe I'm out of practice, and maybe I was just not thinking clearly. My right leg started shaking violently and uncontrollably from nervousness, which made me feel even more unstable.

- I got a flat 2.5 miles from my car! I don't know what happened to my tire. I stopped because it was making funny noises. When I looked at it, it was bulging out from the sides. I thought I could ride on it for 2.5 more miles, even though it stuck on every rotation on the bump, but it popped shortly after that. Thank goodness that didn't happen when I was going fast downhill. I think I would have lost it. I was a mess and somehow incapable to changing my flat. The tire itself was thrashed, not just the tube. Luckily, one of my teammates, Kathy, who rode with me for most of the ride, drove her car to see if I was OK. I guess I would have eventually managed that flat, but I was having a hard time. I think I would have not taken her up on the offer of a ride if the tire wasn't thrashed, but I figured I'd have to change it again when I bought a new tire, so it wasn't worth it.

- The second climb was just plain hot and miserable. At least one person on the road that day, a much better cyclist than me, ended up lying down for a while. I went my own pace, and I'm sure that's the only way I survived.

- I lost my salt tablets. At some point, I guess the plastic baggy fell out of my "Bento Box."

- I got a cramp in my right hamstring. This actually wasn't so bad. I took a short break, ate a Gu, and drank some diluted Perpetuem and it seemed to go away pretty quickly.

But all in all, I'm carrying away good feelings about this ride. One of my teammates, who is an experienced cyclist, told me it was the hardest 75 mile ride he'd ever done, mostly because of the heat. I think about what I did, and I feel like a badass when I consider how far I've come in the last year.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Dad's best friend, S.S., died on Wednesday. Our families grew up together, which made them as much part of my family in my heart as people related to my by blood. I think of people as family when they are bound to you in such a way that time and distance and circumstance don't sever the bond you feel with them, and this is the way I feel about the man who died and his family.

While I was growing up, our families had bible study with them every week at the church. Our parents had discussions, while we played in the adjacent nursery. The bible studies sort of evolved into "salons" met in our homes where philosophy, religion, family life, and world politics were discussed. As I got older, I preferred to sit in the hallway and listen to their conversations instead of playing with the other kids sometimes. These discussion I eavesdropped on shaped me into the person I am today.

I related to my Dad's friend for most of my life as a child to an adult, so the picture of him in my mind is sort of immature and largely shaped by the opinions of the other adults who knew him. My mom told me he was a genius, one of the few true intellectuals she knew. My main impression of him is of someone who was intelligent, conscientious, but dissatisfied with himself. At the funeral yesterday, I learned more about him as he was outside of the context of my family. People talked about how he was sort of both a jester and a Socrates, challenging and questioning everything, and distancing himself from all of it a bit with a sense of humor. This is exactly how my father was, and how he tried to teach me to be. I'd say of the two of them, my dad had the dominant, extroverted personality, so maybe that is why it was harder to see S.S. in that way. Maybe what I saw of him was really himself all along, but I thought of it as a reflection of my father. I then adored and still love my father, but I remember one moment being slightly envious of S.S.'s children, because his slightly more apologetic, humble nature was refreshing.

The service yesterday was beautiful in its simplicity and earnestness. The decorations were simple: photos of S.S. and his family, the awards he received as an aerospace engineer, and bouquets of wild, colorful flowers arranged simply. We met under some trees in the back of the church. S.S. didn't like church and all of its churchiness: the buildings, the institution, the structure of the service, and the elaborate robes the priest wore. Those are all things I personally like, but I appreciated the honesty of this service. The priest herself spoke a little and gave an abbreviated version of an Episcopal memorial service. The rest was people sharing their love and appreciation for S.S. as a person, and offering their support to his family.

People didn't sugarcoat or hyperbolise his life. They spoke fondly of the love he had for his wife and children, the pride he took in his work, his generous nature, the care he gave to his wife's ailing parents, and his intelligence and humor. I liked what my Dad said about his life best of all. No one should have suffered in his life the way S.S. did, but he fought for happiness anyways, so that he could hand it over to his children. It's the type of legacy and accomplishment that doesn't fit into the type of thing that most people find it easy to measure, to describe in sound bites or paragraphs, or hand out gold medals for, but it is a type of heroism nonetheless.

"After All" - Dar Williams

Go ahead, push your luck
Find out how much love the world can hold
Once upon a time I had control
And reigned my soul in tight

Well the whole truth
Is like the story of a wave unfurled
But I held the evil of the world
So I stopped the tide
Froze it up from inside

And it felt like a winter machine
That you go through and then
You catch your breath and winter starts again
And everyone else is spring bound

And when I chose to live
There was no joy - it's just a line I crossed
It wasn't worth the pain my death would cost
So I was not lost or found

And if I was to sleep
I knew my family had more truth to tell
And so I traveled down a whispering well
To know myself through them

Growing up, my Mom had a room full of books
And hid away in there
Her father raging down a spiral stair
'Til he found someone
Most days his son

And sometimes I think
My father, too, was a refugee
I know they tried to keep their pain from me
They could not see what it was for

But now I'm sleeping fine
Sometimes the truth is like a second chance
I am the daughter of a great romance
And they are the children of the war

Well the sun rose with so many colors
It nearly broke my heart
And worked me over like a work of art
And I was a part of all that

So go ahead, push your luck
Say what it is you've got to say to me
We will push on into that mystery
And it'll push right back
And there are worse things than that

'Cause for every price
And every penance that I could think of
It's better to have fallen in love
Than never to have fallen at all

'Cause when you live in a world
Well it gets in to who you thought you'd be
And now I laugh at how the world changed me
I think life chose me after all

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Matthew 25:33-40

The Son of Man will put the sheep (good people) on his right and the goats (bad people) on his left. "Then the king will say to those good people on his right, 'Come. My Father has given you great blessings. Come and get the kingdom God promised you. That kingdom has been prepared for you since the world was made. You can have this kingdom, because I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was alone and away from home, and you invited me into your home. I was without clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me.' "Then the good people will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food? When did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our home? When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and care for you?' "Then the king will answer, 'I tell you the truth. Anything you did for any of my people here, you also did for me.'

Maybe I met Jesus today and totally blew it. I was having lunch with Oxy in Flip Flop at the Walnut Ave Cafe. She was on a short lunch break, so we took seats at the counter instead of waiting for a table. We sat next to an older gentleman. He started talking to us. And he wouldn't stop. Long after he was done with his lunch and got his bill and change, he kept sitting with us and talking. He was waiting for his car to get fixed, and lived far away, so he had time to burn. He was retired and was probably lonely. It's not that he wasn't an interesting guy, it sounded like he maybe was. I just didn't feel like extending myself.

Oxy kindly asked him questions, smiled and engaged him. I sat there quietly, hoping he would leave. I'd occasionally feel bad about this and smile and ask a question, but mostly I wanted to sit and talk with my friend. I was working at home that day, and was a little lonely myself, and I don't get to see Oxy all that much, especially not alone, so I really wanted to talk. I love all my friends, but she's a rare friend in that she's both a good listener and discrete, and I have a rapport with her that I have with almost no one else. I felt selfish for wanting her all to myself. I felt intruded upon, but maybe that is just "lunch counter culture." When he left, we shook hands and exchanged names and smiles, and when he apologized for monopolizing the conversation, Oxy and I both insisted that he didn't. So maybe I'm not as evil as I think I am. Maybe I'm just tired and lonely and shy.

Why am I blogging about this? To punish myself by letting everyone know how rotten I can be sometimes? I just remember things better when I blog about them. I hope next time I meet someone who could be Jesus in disguise I'll remember to be kind and think what I would do if he were Jesus, or maybe even better, to remember what I would want someone to do if I were a lonely stranger. I honestly think this was a bad moment for me, and not a reflection of my true character, but it's one more opportunity to reflect on how I could be a better person. Thanks for being a good role model, Oxy. Please forgive me old man, wherever you are, if I came off as rude. Oxy said I didn't, but I feel like I was.

I Hate Everybody

This is a post of mine that I wrote, but didn't publish almost a year ago (9/1/07 at 2:09 am). I didn't publish it because I was afraid it was too negative. I'm not in a "I Hate Everybody" kind of a mood at the moment, actually. I guess I'm publishing it because I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. (And I figure my blog readers might want something to read. Lazy, I know.) I think I may have reached a level of maturity about this in the last year that I should also write about, so I'll write more later.

I'm in that kind of a mood. I don't hate everybody. Actually, Raybon says I don't really hate anybody. He says I just dislike people, and that hate is too strong a word for how I feel. So...

I don't like you if:

1) You act like you like me, but put me down
2) You malign my accomplishments and celebrate my failures
3) You assume I have bad intentions when I don't
4) You talk about me behind my back
5) You use me for what I have to offer, but don't appreciate me

The worst part about all this is, the more I dislike people because of the above things, the more I become everything I hate. My bad attitude to some people colors my perception of people who have done nothing bad to me, and I have trouble celebrating and appreciating other people. I feel evil. This is going to take some prayer and reflection. How do you learn to forgive, but have a healthy amount of caution about making yourself vulnerable to others? How do you guard your heart and love others at the same time?

I bought a book today by Anne Lamott called "Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith." I heard her interviewed on NPR, and she said she almost called the book "Forgiveshness", because forgiveness is a central concern to her, but is almost impossibly hard. She writes "I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things, that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival. But no, it's clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark."

*Sigh.* My life has been so easy, relatively. No one very close to me has died tragically. I've never wanted for anything necessary for my survival, never been threatened by terminal illness, and never been hurt by an act of deliberate violence. I think sometimes I must have a very young soul, because I'm so easily tripped up on my path to enlightenment by silly things like not being invited to a co-worker's birthday party. My life is cushy enough that I have to seek out challenge and adventure. I need to reflect on what I've been given, be grateful, and try to give back as much as I can, with a sense of love and gratitude towards God and the universe.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Cruz Cruise - Progress Over 5 years

My Time Top Time Percent Difference My Rank Total Rank Percentile
2004 71.03 45.44 36% 46 72 36%
2005 42.42 32.9 22% 30 52 48%
2006 56.9 46.5 18% 19 66 71%
2007 46.6 37.7 19% 29 65 55%
2008 45.7 38.1 17% 22 78 72%


Comments:
2004: Had been swimming Masters a little over a year at that point. One of the choppiest swims I've ever swam. I remember ending up with a sore neck from cranking it from sighting.

2005: I barely remember this swim, except that it foggy, so they shortened the course. My biggest improvement was made this year, as this was the year I first started swimming seriously and regularly with the larger Master's group at UC Flip Flop.

2006: When I swam this race, I remember feeling like it was the best race of my life. I went into it not even thinking I was going to race hard, but ended up wondering if I'd skipped a buoy, because I came in behind a woman who swam a lane up from me, and my times were much closer to the leaders than I expected. This was the year I trained at Cowell's more than any other year, favoring the ocean to the pool.

2007: It looks like my progress slipped this year a bit, and I wasn't very happy with my performance.

2008: Back in the game. I swam for fun, bit I swam hard, and was pretty surprised at how well I did, considering I've been swimming much less this year than last, and my Parkside Aquatic Mile results were not great.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Things I'm Grateful For

- That I can run 11 miles and feel tired, but otherwise not too bad
- That I can swim 11 miles, even if I'm a wreck afterwards
- That I'm of sound mind and body (most of the time)
- For the ocean, whose power to calm and energize me are beyond my ability to explain
- For a family that loves me
- For a good husband, who has stood by me at my worst moments
- For Willow, my snuggly doggy
- For forgiving friends, and friends who ask for forgiveness
- For the sweet kids that I tutor, who teach me so much about how great life is by their curiosity and the ease with which they like and trust me
- For the challenges that face me in my life, and the strength God gives me to rise up to them
- For easy times that I can coast and relax and rejuvenate

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Winner and Defending Champion!!!

I swam the 2 mile Cruz Cruise today. I just realized that this is the 5th year in a row I've done this race. It's the only race I've done every year since I started competing in swimming.

I got first place in my age group. Out of 1. Same as last year. I got first out of 3 two years ago, so that makes me three year defending champion!!! That's kind of goofy. I looked up my old results, and I got 2nd out of 3 the previous couple of years.

That's all... I'm too tired to say anything else. Fodder for all of you who think all I do is talk about my results.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Raw

I feel like my skin is thin and my nerves are inflamed.

Noises are too loud.

I feel like I need a break from feeling anything.

What's that called? Oh yeah, sleep.... Didn't sleep enough last night... Worked over the hill 3 days in a row. Both are bad ideas.

Just a heads up if I don't seem like myself. Hopefully you'll get your Nori back shortly.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

E-mail Addiction Remedy

I am an email addict. I check my email habitually. Since I got a cell phone with the capability of checking my email, it has gotten even worse. If I'm expecting an email from someone, sometimes I get very anxious and cannot concentrate. This is a bad thing if I am at work and really need to get stuff done. Last night I had a breakthrough idea on how to mitigate this problem.

1. While on your home computer. Open up notepad, Word, or some other text or Word processing program.
2. Randomly type a bunch of letters on the keyboard. Just move your fingers and don't think about it until you have a password-sized amount of characters.
3. Save the file and/or print it out. Printing it out is probably best, in case your hard drive crashes.
4. Copy the password, using Ctrl-C. Login to your email, go to your account settings, and change your password. Use Ctrl-V to paste the copied password to create your new password.

Now I can't check my email until I get home. It's pretty liberating. Of course, it didn't stop me from blogging at work, but that only took a few minutes. This works well for Gmail, because although there is a security question with which you can recover your password, it will only work if your account has been inactive for 5 days.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wharf to Wharf

I had the worst day of my life yesterday. I won't go into details but it was pretty terrible.

Today totally made up for it. After finishing Honu, I made a list of possible events I'd be interested this summer and early fall, and the Wharf to Wharf, a 6 mile run in Flip Flop was at the top of my list. I ran the Wharf to Wharf for the second time, my first time since 2004. Since then, some combination of injury and focus on swimming instead of running has prevented me from doing it. So I was stoked about being able to do it this year, as a celebration of doing something I was afraid I'd never be able to do again, because I was afraid I just wasn't cut out to be a runner.

Since in the back of my mind, I'm training for a Big Kahuna, another Half Ironman distance triathlon, I warmed up by running 4 miles before the race.

Probably no one cares but me, but here are my splits:

Mile 1: 10:21.25. Not bad considering we were hindered by the crowd of people in front of us.

Mile 2: 9:01.45.

Mile 3: 9:13.09

Mile 4: 8:53.94

Mile 5: 9:12.68

Mile 6: 8:28.53

Throwing out the silly first mile, that's like an 8 minute 58 second pace, which is about the same pace a the fastest 10K I've ever run, which was 4 years ago. Considering I ran 4 miles beforehand, I guess that's not too bad. I've been so bummed about not being as fast as I used to be, so I'm stoked to get back on pace. I didn't think very hard about keeping a particular pace, or talk back and forth to my body about whether I was pushing hard enough. I just told myself to let the energy of the race carry me through it.

What was also great about this race was being able to do with some old friends I haven't been able to see enough of this lately, my friend Erin and my godfather Ric. Erin was my college roommate and one of my bridesmaids. She's been a runner for quite a while, and done a couple marathons. My godfather Ric, once upon a time my college professor, is a pretty fast runner and accomplished mountaineer. Being a Dad has cut into his climbing quite a bit, but he loves it so much that he thinks it is totally worth it. I see a lot more of the people I train with than my old friends, so it was great getting a chance to see them. I love my team, but I miss the people I've been friends with since college. So today was just an awesome celebration of friendship, fitness, and just being alive for me. I think I spent most of my life in my head, and disconnected from my physical self. But my body is what ties me to this world, so in some ways celebrating my body is celebrating life itself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

There's a Waterbug on My Channel Changer

My favorite show on TV is 30 Rock. Renting a DVD and watching multiple shows in a row has gotten me through many a session on my bike trainer. There’s this part on one of the episodes where Kenneth, the page at NBC that loves his job doing the bidding or everyone else who works there, is applying for a job as a page for the Beijing Olympics. He can’t fill out his personal statement, because he doesn't know how to brag about himself. He tells this to Jenna, one of the stars of TGS, the SNL-like show 30 Rock is about, and she tries to help him out. She tells him to try a backdoor brag, which is slipping self-praise into ordinary sentences like:

“It’s hard for me to watch American Idol, because I have perfect pitch.”

Kenneth tries it:

“It’s hard for me to watch American Idol, cause there’s a waterbug on my channel changer.”

I hope I’m not a Jenna, but I’m certainly no Kenneth. Almost any time I’m feeling nervous about an event, or feeling outclassed by my fellow athletes, I find some way of bringing up the fact that I swam Tahoe solo. I’ve backdoor bragged about being my high school class valedictorian on this blog several times (oh, there I go again.)

But at the moment I’m feeling a little bit like Kenneth. I was nominated for Athlete of the Month for my triathlon club, T.S. Last month, Mojojoey was nominated for AOM and sent out a hilarious e-mail to everyone on T.S.’s roster, about why she should be AOM over the other two people nominated. She encouraged me to campaign for myself on this blog. Really, shouldn't I be able to think of enough nice things to say about myself to write a good campaign letter?

The thing is, the other people nominated totally deserve to win. Here is what the people who nominated them said about them:

Tiffany

My Nomination for AOM is Tiffany Medina. It could be said that we are all doing amazing things with our athlete pursuits but, attempting these pursuits with out our sight would be unimaginable for most of us. This is exactly what Tiffany does. On top of that she always seems to have a great attitude and a big smile! I have been impressed from day one with her an continue to be more impressed.

Mike

Mike has impressed me as both a great athlete and team player. He always has a smile on his face and seems to be instrumental in fostering team spirit. He is always there giving you a vote of confidence, no matter how challenging an event might be. "Look, you can do this...it's easy" etc. That's Mike for you.


Chas

[There wasn’t anything about Chas from the person who nominated him, but he’s 60 years old and can kick my butt in cycling and running. Actually, that's an understatement.]



Tiffany is really one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. And Mike has been incredibly encouraging to me. They are both warm and generous people. I barely know Chas, but he seems like a nice guy, too.

But I voted for myself! Why? If someone I was very close and loyal to was nominated for something like this, I’d have to vote for him or her. While I’m inclined to think the others deserve it more than I do, out of loyalty to myself, I voted for me.

But, I’m totally and utterly tongue-tied when I think about comparing myself to the other people nominated.

I do what I can for the team when I can. I volunteered to watch the bikes for the Fearsome Triathlon, timed and did clean up for our swim meet, hosted a triathlon slumber party for a few of my teammates, and do what I can to be encouraging and supportive when I see the opportunity when I’m not so wrapped up in my own nervousness or wiped out by training. But I can’t compare this to what Mike has done, probably for years before I ever joined the team. He was great about encouraging me to sign up for Honu, and had positive words and smiles for me during my training. He set up the tents for everyone for Wildflower a few days before the event, and he wasn’t even doing the race! He has a strong love for his team that shines through in his interactions with everyone and the pride he shows in wearing our team colors.

I think what’s most impressive about my athletic accomplishments is how far I’ve come in a short amount of time. I had only swam for four years when I did Tahoe solo. Less than a year ago, I couldn’t even ride my bike down my block without my whole body shaking in violently in fear, and somehow managed to make it through a hilly, hot, very windy 56 mile bike ride. I was told by a physical therapist last year that I should never run more than 10 km, but I followed that scary bike ride with 13.1 miles on my feet. But how can I compare that to someone who last year did a Half Ironman without being able to see? That takes a level of courage, trust, and patience that I can’t even imagine.

I feel like I do what I can, working with a body that spent many years not having any athletic ambitions. But Chas is 60 years old and accomplishes things that would be kids in their 20’s to shame. He lets those of us who started dreaming of being athletes a little later in life think we have something to look forward to.

In short, I feel like I should be proud of myself. I have a right to call myself brave, committed, supportive, and loyal. I’m not perfect, but I’m a work in progress, and I really do think I’m committed to that work. But without a trace of jealousy (OK, maybe a little) I can be grateful that, as a person committed to her self improvement, I have great role models like Tiffany, Mike, and Chas.

(And no, the irony of my backdoor bragging when complimenting my competitors is not lost on me. I guess I am a bit of a Jenna)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Ka Ching!!! Then, sadly, denied...

I found a way to fund the Swim Around the Rock. I can expense all my old DSL bills, which comes to $884.80. But when I went to register on Active.com, it said it is too late to register. Oh well... At least I have a 10K run and a nice buoy swim with Oceana and Gurley Girl to look forward to this weekend. And maybe I can think of something else fun I can do with $884.80.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

If I had $385

There's a race this weekend that I am interested in doing. It is the Swim Around the Rock, where you swim from San Francisco around Alcatraz and back, a total of 3.25 miles. The main deterrent from me doing it is that it costs $385. We had expensive car problems this month, and I've spent a lot of money on races already this year, so it's hard to justify doing this.

It's a little embarrassing now that I think about it, but I actually asked them if I could do the test swim they are doing the day before for free instead of the race. They didn't even email me back. Hmm... So now, even if I did decide it was worth it to put the $385 on the credit card, I'm too embarrassed to sign up for the race.

I was talking to the women in the locker room about it, and I said my reason for wanting to do it is because I felt like I needed an ego boost, and swimming around Alcatraz would provide lots of opportunities to brag. But honestly, this is the kind of swim that is right up my alley. Cold and rough, it's two things that other people hate and I don't mind. And it does capture my imagination because, you know, it's Alcatraz. And I think capturing your imagination is the most rewarding motivation when it comes to athletic events.

Registration is still open... Maybe I'll go beg Raybon right now.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Everyone Be Nice to Me

This is totally lame, but this is just a reprint of a post from October 2007.

I'm in a super sensitive, paranoid, PMS-y, should-lock-myself-in-a-padded-room-for-the-next-few-days-kind-of-mood. I could elaborate over and over again about the weird interactions I've had from people, but it would break my rules of using my blog as a rant. Over and over and over again. People are mean! Or I'm too sensitive. That is probably it.

Here's a link to a blog about how I felt about the same as I do about a year ago:

How to Eat Fried Worms

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Few Other Things I'd Like to Change About Myself

- I'd like to be less judgmental
- I'd like to read more
- I'd like to take a stand politically

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Apology to Myself

I'd like to make a public apology to myself about some of the mean things I said on this blog.

"My 400 free sucked." Nori, you were tired. You didn't feel like racing. Big deal. You should congratulate yourself for all the hard work you did in Hawaii. Next time race harder, because you'll have a better experience, but don't be so hard on yourself.

"Right now, I kinda feel like I suck at triathlon." Nori, you don't suck at triathlon! You're a beginner at triathlon. You kick beginner ass!

"This is some kind of benchmark that makes me feel a little more like an athlete." You ARE an athlete. You are an athlete in terms of your focus, determination, and drive. You swam across Lake Tahoe and did a Half Ironman, no small feats. You've earned the right to consider yourself more than a wannabe.

"My main hobby is something I don't have any particular talent for." This isn't true. The effort you put into your swimming that has developed your talent. Lots of people would say that you have talent in this area. Don't knock yourself by comparing yourself to other people.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Why I Shouldn't Miss Saturday Practice

I skipped my workout yesterday. Normally, I swim and then ride my bike on Saturdays. I was ambivalent about riding my bike in the heat (especially since I'd likely end up riding by myself), my house was a mess, I have a cold, and there was laundry to be done. But when I went to bed last night, I was actually kind of sorry that it was Saturday night and not Sunday night. I was pining for my pool, and wished it was Monday the next day. I realize now that I've only swam 7 Masters practices in the last month, and only 3 in the lat 3 weeks. It seems a little sick to want to forgo a weekend day just so I can get in the pool, but I really wished I could wake up at 5 am in the morning and go workout, even if it meant that I'd have to work that day.

I confessed this to Oxy, and she got upset about my selfish wish. She said "What if it came true? Then everyone else in the whole world would lose a Sunday just so that you could swim. That's just mean." Sometimes when I wish things they do oddly come true, but I don't think my wishes are so powerful that I could disrupt space and time, or convince the powers that be to change the calendars world wide just for me. But you never know. I could be more powerful than I think. Maybe the safe thing would be not skip my Saturday workouts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Someone I Forgot To Thank

Thanks, Jac, for being my original cycling partner, for doing my first triathlon with me, for coming to cheer for me on my second, and being a positive, supportive friend. I don't think I would have ever done Hawaii 70.3 if it wasn't for you.

I hope I didn't forget anyone else. :(. I guess that's the problem with making lists, you might forget someone important and hurt someone's feelings. There are lots of people I love who didn't make the list. You may have even wished me well, but I forgot. If you care enough about me to read this blog, you're the best. :) Andy, my brother, you're one of them.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My Defense of Being an Average Athlete

I told someone recently that I qualified for Long Course Nationals. He asked me "What does that mean?" I answered, "I guess it doesn't really mean anything. Just like most qualifications, it might be sort of an arbitrary benchmark." He didn't seem to understand, so I tried to drop it, but he insisted I explain what it meant. I said "What it means is that my time was within 10% of the top 10 times at the previous National Championships." (Not that it really matters, but this is not quite true. See http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=5883 for discussion.) He said to me "Oh. So that means maybe you can do better in the future, right?" I answered sort of sheepishly and let down a bit, "Well, I don't know if I'll ever do better than this. It's better than I've ever done, though, so I'm happy that I improved."

Someone who reads this blog once asked me why I do what I do. She said that I talk a lot about my results and numbers, but not a lot about why I do them. I didn't think this was true, but maybe it is. The whole point of swimming across Lake Tahoe, to my mind, was to make me a stronger person by committing to something challenging.

Here are some posts that relate to my reasons I like to do challenging athletic events:

What I Got Out of Swimming Tahoe
Battling Uncertainty
Jesus is My Lane Line
Let's try this again

I'm tired at the moment, and feel like my main hobby deserves a better defense than I might give. Usually when someone asks me why I do what I do, I brush it off by answering "Everyone needs to do something to pass the time, right?" I feel like my real reasons might come off as pretentious and annoying. Maybe I should stop doing that. Maybe people might learn something or be inspired (although I still think it's more likely they will be annoyed.)

The reason I first started swimming is the reason most people start exercising: everyone knows exercise is good for you. I've always had this in the back of my mind, but was never committed to it until about 5 years ago. I had graduated from college, gotten married, had a decent paying job, and bought a house. The above things, in that order, were the focuses of my adult life up until 5 years ago. They took up a lot of time and energy, and were a higher priority in my life than being healthy. But at the age of 27 and having my life somewhat settled, I felt like I had to ask myself what my life should look like. I started taking art classes and joined Masters swimming, because art and exercise were two of the things that were part of what I wanted my life to look like.

Completely unexpectedly, I fell in love with swimming. I felt so good after my morning workouts; I became addicted without knowing it. I realized it the first couple times I was forced to take a break, once because I injured my toe taking the pool covers off, and once when Raybon's family came to stay and I felt like I needed to spend time with them (and make them breakfast.) Each time I got back in the pool I felt joy. It was not just the pleasure of activity (a big part of it), but it also fed my soul to know that I was doing something just for me, that I loved myself enough to make my well being a priority.

I did a one-mile practice open water swim, and fell even harder in love with swimming. I loved the freedom of the open water, and the feeling of accomplishment or doing something I thought only people amazing, brave, athletic, and disciplined could do. At this first open water swim I did, I heard people talking about a 10K open water swim and thought at once "That's crazy. That's awesome. That's something I want to do." I signed up for a 10K run as well, wanting Raybon, a former runner, to catch some of the excitement I got from swimming. I told people that I needed to sign up for races in order to motivate myself to train hard. I may have believed this, but that wasn't all there was to it. I was excited by the goals themselves, and wanted more of that feeling of accomplishment I felt after my first swim around the Pier by setting harder and harder goals for myself.

I firmly believe that anyone of any background and ability can get as much out of competing as the people who win. All the good reasons for competing are available to everyone: e.g. pushing your limits, getting over your fears, the camaraderie felt with you fellow athletes, motivation to be in good physical shape, learning about commitment and discipline, building your confidence, feeling the joy of completing your hard earned goals. Really, it's only the bad reason for competing that is available only to the best of the best: wanting to feel superior to everyone around them. This is not to say that the best of the best compete for bad reasons, and not to say that slower athletes like myself aren't susceptible to bad motivations like petty jealousy. We definitely are. Working through those human foibles is just one more challenge in athletics, maybe the most important one. Patience with ourselves and others when confronted with pettiness is another.

So, I'm proud of myself for qualifying for Nationals. It might seem like an arbitrary cutoff, but it still means something to me. It shows how much I've improved, because I used to read the time standards and think they were way out of my reach. Honestly, I suppose part of the reason it is satisfying is it would give some legitimacy to my passion for swimming. I've spent the past few years being slightly embarrassed that my main hobby is something I don't have any particular talent for. Ideally, I could look into myself and tell myself honestly that I gave it my best, and the shiny medals and numbers and web results wouldn't matter. I know it seems contradictory, but I hope those arbitrary things will build my confidence that someday I won't care as much about them.

Things I'd like to change about myself

Just a few things that come to mind:

- I'd like to be more confident
- I'd like to be more deliberate
- I'd like to be less whiny

The whiny thing is actually number one on my list. My life is pretty great, when I think about it, but I spend way too much time wishing it was different. It saps my energy and my enjoyment of life, and probably distracts other people from their enjoyment as well. Maybe the antidote to whinyness is a sense of gratitude. To God, to life, and to others.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

What's Harder, Open Water Swimming or Triathlon?

A couple of people have asked me this. Actually, one person didn't exactly ask. She declared Hawaii 70.3 to be the hardest thing I'd ever done (as I crossed the finish line.) Questions I've heard that are similar:

What's harder, childbirth or an Ironman?
What's harder, an Ironman or the English Channel?
What's harder, childbirth or the English Channel?
What's harder swimming across Lake Tahoe or a Half Ironman?

I've never swam the English Channel, done an Ironman, or given birth to a child. So maybe I have no business answering these questions. But I think the questions are silly, because they are all probably hard in completely different ways, and therefore harder for different people. Someone who doesn't know how to swim would find it much harder to swim the English Channel than to give birth to a child. Someone who is a beginning swimmer or has no cold tolerance would find an Ironman easier than the English Channel, and a Half Ironman easier than swimming across Lake Tahoe. Someone who has only swam and never biked or run would find any kind of triathlon more difficult than a swimming race. People are born with different talents and abilities, and they also have different backgrounds they bring to athletic events.

You could say that I trained for 4 years to swim across Lake Tahoe. I didn't know this is what I was doing, but all the swimming training I'd done previous to the race prepared me for it. I trained for maybe 6 months for the Half Ironman. So if the 8 hours I spent in the heat were harder for me than the 6 hours I spent in the lake, that doesn't make swimming Lake Tahoe less of an accomplishment. (And I can't say my time spent in the Lake was easier. A comparison deserves another post.) I dislike the idea that suffering is what makes an athletic accomplishment great. This would mean that someone who isn't disciplined in their training is a better athlete, because a less trained athlete would suffer more. I think the mental strength to endure discomfort during an event is just one of many things I admire about endurance athletes. Discipline and commitment in training are at least equally important.

I don't think I'll ever be able to answer any of these question, even if I did all the above things. I felt more fully recovered from Hawaii 70.3 in a shorter amount of time than it took me to recover from swimming Tahoe solo, but maybe that's because I'd already done a big endurance event and am simply in better shape, and also know more about nutrition and recovery than I did before.

What's the real point of these questions anyways? I'd think they were legitimate if it might give someone confidence in trying another challenge, knowing that they'd already done something equally difficult, but sometimes I think the point is to rank ourselves and others in some kind of pecking order. What's the point of that? How can you possibly take someone's entire life and compare one to another? In life, we've all had different starting lines (even siblings), different obstacles, and different goals. Some of these are mental, some are physiological, some are internal, some are external. Take your challenges as they come or as you choose them, give it your best and enjoy the rewards.

Meet Report

I dragged my heels to the meet yesterday. I made excuses for how slow I was, even before I raced. Waah, waah, waah. I'm jet lagged. I've only swam for an hour and 20 minutes in the last two weeks. I haven't been swimming as much as last year in general.

(For the uninitiated, most pool meets are swum in a 50 meter pool [Long Course Meters (LCM)] or a 25 yard pool [Short Course Yards (SCY)]. Since a meter is longer than a yard, and flip turns make you faster, you have to do a little math to figure out how times convert from one course to the other.)

My 400 free sucked. I got like a 6:10, not a fast time for me. Based on the time conversion utility from Swimming World Magazine, I should have gone a 5:56, based on my 500 time from last year. 14 seconds difference. What's past is past. Next time I'll bring a better attitude to the race, even if I don't feel prepared.

I scratched my 100 free. I figured I'd come to support my team, and done my part by swimming the 400 free, and would just help time.

After sitting around and timing for a while, I decided I'd swim the 200 Back. I started making the excuses again while talking to M.A. Then like mid sentence, I told myself "Shut up. You're a swimmer. You're a backstroker. You may have just done a triathlon, but today you're here to swim. You're going to swim that 200 back hard." I did my normal race ritual of talking to my coach first. So I gave it a go, and remembered what it felt like to race a 200. When my arms and legs started to burn to the last 50 meters I told myself "Burn, baby, burn." I got a 3:10, I ended up beating my previous best time for a 200 M Back by 7 seconds. I also beat my converted SCY P.R. (2:45.70 short course yards converts to 3:13.35 long course meters) by 3 seconds. OK, I did wear the Fastskin.

Hey, I qualified for Nationals in 200 back!!! This is pretty exciting for me, because I think it is the first time. Apparently, LCM qualifying times are a little more generous than SCY, but I'm still pleased. This is some kind of benchmark that makes me feel a little more like an athlete. I told Raybon this morning, and he asked me if I was going. I told him no, because it was all the way in Oregon, and he mocked me, "Wow, that's soooo far away. You even know people you could stay with." Meh.... Maybe qualifying is enough for now.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Hooray for Me!

Here is a link to the cute PowerPoint my Dad made about my Hawaii 70.3 race:



Comments on the slides:

Slide 1:

I had wonderwoman underoos as a 5 year old, would make bracelets out of tin foil, and would pretend my tricycle was my invisible jet.

Slide 3:

Boy, I was a cutie back then, wasn't I?

Slide 4:
The frowny picture of me with my family is from when I was 11 and had a humongous overbite that I was trying to cover up in the picture. I wasn't being sulky, I just didn't want to smile and show my teeth. I got teased a lot about them, a source of trauma that explains a lot about my feelings about my looks today.


Slide 12:
That's my Mommy hugging me, before the race actually.

Slide 13:

Just got off the plane. Tired, but happy to be in Hawaii and greeted by Auntie Shirley (enough that I didn't balk at the camera.) Actually, thanks Shirley for all the great pictures you took of us. You've got talent if you can take a picture of me that I could be happy with.

Slide 14:

My Daddy and my niece Anjali.

Slide 15:

Mom, Shirley, Raybon, Bob, and me at Auntie Shirley and Uncle Bob's lovely home in Kona.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What's Next

Everyone keeps asking me what's next. What's literally next in terms of athletic events is a swim meet this weekend that my team is putting on. I was going to shine it on, but my team is putting it on, and I get enough out of the team that I figure I should offer my support if the team needs it. I haven't been focused on swimming all that much, and have only swam twice in the last two weeks (unless you count snorkeling and boogie boarding), so I'm not likely to get great results, unless I'm lucky or that Fastskin (should I decide to wear it) does wonders.

But is there something next on the horizon, some challenging endurance event similar to Tahoe Solo or Hawaii 70.3? Am I on track for a marathon? A marathon swim? An Ironman?

When I was relaxing in Hawaii after the race, I thought I might be done, that I had gotten this all out of my system, and maybe I should focus on other things in life that are scary and challenging, and more practical. Like looking into moving out of the Flip Flop Mountains. Like listening to that ticking biological clock. (No, this is not an opening to ask nosey questions, not that anyone waits for an opening.) Yes, these are things to think about. But can't I think about these things and a race at the same time?

There are two things that pop into my mind as potential goals:

1. Catalina Channel Solo
2. Big Kahuna Half Ironman

I'm not sure a marathon is in my future, at least not immediately. I think if I were to do one, it'd after open water and triathlon season is over. Ironman? I probably couldn't get into one, even I felt up to one. (I don't.) Now that I've done a longish solo swim, and a Half Ironman, I have at least some sense of what I'd be getting into.

Catalina Channel Big Kahuna
Would probably be the most challenging athletic event I've ever done. Would be in familiar territory, literally, since it is close to home, and I've done at least part of every of the course in all 3 disciplines.
I know people doing it solo this year, so I could potentially have people to train with. I wouldn't necessarily have that opportunity again. Would be flatter and cooler, hence easier than Hawaii 70.3.
I'm a more talented long distance open water swimmer than a triathlete. How much of this is nature and how much of it is just what I'm experienced in, I'm not sure about. But why shouldn't I try for something I might excel in? Part of the race is in what I consider to be my home turf, that is around the Flip Flop Wharf.
I'm afraid if I switch to triathlon, I'll lose some of the cold tolerance I've built up over the past few years. This probably isn't a legitimate fear. My cold tolerance wasn't too hard to build up before. After the heat in Hawaii 70.3 kicked my ass, I'd like to see what I could do in a race where the temperature is more to my liking.
I'd stand out more amongst the triathletes on my team by doing something not many people have done. (Only 140 people from around the world have ever swum the Catalina Channel.) Honestly, this sounds like a Pro, but maybe actually be a Con. Would be a lot cheaper than swimming the Catalina Channel.
Right now, I kinda feel like I suck at triathlon, and triathlon is a highly competitive sport. Open water swimming is competitive, too, but honestly, not as much. It is more about getting across a body of water than it is about speed. Wouldn't need a support crew. I actually find it very hard to be so dependent on people, and to feel like I owe them a favor in return.
I'd prove I could do it to someone who suggested I wasn't ready. While Hawaii 70.3 was hot and miserable, I recovered from it much more quickly than my Tahoe solo swim. It was hard, but I wasn't drained to my core like I felt after swimming across Tahoe solo. There could be lots of reasons for this, a lot of it mental, but there it is. I don't think Big Kahuna would take a big old chunk out of my life like swimming Catalina solo would.
  Swimming is still my favorite thing, but I do like the biking and running, too. And they make swimming better, too, because I don't burn out as easily. I went on a ride with the team this week, and it made me very happy. I'd been debating with myself whether or not I should continue with the Tri Team, and I think the relief and happiness I felt getting back on my bike proves that it is something I'd miss a lot.
  I like the social aspect of triathlons, especially training and doing them with a team. I was sad after finishing Tahoe solo, not having anyone who had also done it to talk about my experience with.


This isn't really a Pro vs. Con list, because I think it is just in the nature of challenges that it's hard to tell what counts as Pro and what counts as a Con. It all depends on how big of a challenge I'm up for. I don't know that I'll do either, but at least it gives me something to think about.

Fastskin

Even people who aren't swimmers know something about the new, expensive swimsuits that people breaking world records are wearing. I bought myself a Speedo Fastskin II in Hawaii to wear for the race. It was only $60, marked down from $200. (The Fastskin II was their fast suit way back in 2004.) My other choice was to swim in my team jersey and shorts, or bra and shorts. I figured this would slow me down a bit. Since my swim split was really my only time I had any hope of being proud of, I figured it was worth the $60. It would just be too annoying if after working hard at my swimming for 5 years, someone who paid $300 for a suit but didn't work as hard as me whipped my butt.

I'd never been tempted to buy one of these suits for a number of reasons:

- Too expensive. I'm too cheap.

- My goal swimming is generally to P.R., not to beat anyone else. Could I feel like my P.R. is meaningful if I'm faster just because of my suit?

-Generally, people in my league don't wear these suits anyway. I've seen people slower than me wear them, but generally they aren't in my age group (they are older.)

- I'd feel dumb, for the reasons above.

- As a matter of principal, I'd rather swimming races were won by skill instead of expensive suits. Triathlons, since they involve bikes, can't have such principles, so I didn't worry about this for Hawaii 70.3

But now I have a Fastskin, and I have a meet in 2 days. It may be yesterday's second best, but it is probably faster than my skimpier Illusions tank suit. Since it wasn't much more expensive than a regular suit (cheaper than some actually), it throws some of the above reasons out the window.

Hmmm... If I get a stellar time (stellar being relative to my past times, and not fast swimmers), it'll make it that much harder to P.R. again if I don't ever buy another fast suit. But who knows? Maybe this will be the last time I ever swim in a long course meet. It's only my second in my Masters swimming career anyway. Maybe I'll never be in as good shape as I am now. Maybe the suits will get so cheap, everyone will be wearing them next year.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hawaii 70.3 Recap

In November, Coach sent out a newsletter to M.M., in which he presented the opportunity to interested Masters participants of training with the Tri Team (T.S.) for a Half Ironman on the Big Island of Hawaii. At first, I was adamantly not interested, but after riding around with Mojojoey and Tanja, and being encouraged by Big L, I realized it was something I really wanted to do. The idea of training for and participating in an event with such great people (28 people from our team ended up going) was very appealing to me. The thought was more than a little scary, but they all seemed to think I could do it. I emailed Coach, telling him I was interested, but these were my concerns:

- Bike handling skills are almost zilch. I rode down 84 Saturday, and stopped 2 or 3 times because my hands were fatigued and I was generally feeling a little freaked out. I've only ridden my road bike a dozen times off the trainer. I was terrified just riding down my block as early as August, so I'm hopeful I'll continue to get over my biking fears.
- Have never run more than 10K, and now only run 3 miles at a time, at a snails pace.
- Don't do well in hot weather. Even the little 5K Splash and Dash's at Stevens Canyon in the summer were uncomfortable.

Coach emailed me back to tell me that if I was doing it for the right reasons, he was certain I’d be able to finish the race. After a week or so of obsessing nervously over it, I signed up for the race. I immediately felt happy and relieved.

Training for the event was hard in ways I hadn’t expected it to be. I got dropped on rides more than a few times, and was certain I was the slowest person on my triathlon team, (at least for biking and running.) I’ve been lectured a couple of times about how I shouldn’t care about this sort of thing. I’ve also had kind responses from Coach and Mojojoey that my frustration is understandable. Feelings are what they are; they occasionally surface sometimes no matter how much we try to counteract them with positive beliefs. But after completing Wildflower Olympic in the top 40% of my age group, I was grateful for the toughness of the training I’d gone through with the team.

I was nervous going into this event, but not nearly as much as I have been for some past ones, even some pool meets. The training I’ve done leading up to this has changed my personality in positive ways that has helped me deal with my nervousness. Climbing up Old La Honda, and being the last person up the hill, but still feeling triumphant (in part because of my supportive team) may have helped with my confidence in doing something hard, not matter how I place. Calming myself while being terrified descending 84 has given me a steadiness that has translated into my entire life, including preparing for races. I’ve also learned to be happy enough with myself that I don’t feel like I have anything to prove. If I didn’t finish the race or go as fast as I liked, it isn’t absolute proof that I have weakness of character.

Still, while my anxiety was less than it was swimming across Lake Tahoe solo, it was still pretty high. The day before the race, I considered just doing the swim and bike and pulling out before the run. My foot and shins were bothering me even while treading water and walking on the beach. I was afraid of doing irreparable damage to myself. I talked it over with Coach, and decided to take a stab at the race, but just be very cautious, and to walk if it hurt to run, and to pull out if it was too painful to walk. I suspected that my pain was to some degree psychosomatic. I did have physical symptoms, such as swelling, and not just mental pain, but this is something I’ve experienced before other races, and they’ve cleared up as soon as I relax after being done with a race. Having a body that tries to sabotage me is not a great trait to have as an aspiring athlete, but I’ll have to look at it as yet another challenge that faces me. While saddened by the thought that I might not finish the race due to injury, I was also relieved to the point that my body already started to feel better after my talk with Coach. It relieved some of the pressure of feeling like I had to finish the race no matter what.

I was both nervous and happy as I started my race. I set up my transition area, and made my way down to the beach. I try not to be negative or rant on this blog, but I feel like it is part of the story that someone tried to psych me out before I started the race, which considering I am a beginner at this, was sort of appalling. Luckily it didn't work, and I did my best to focus on positive thoughts, rather than the negative ones she fed me. The positive energy of most of the athletes around made her attempt to psych me out innocuous. The hugs and best wishes from my family (Mom and Aunt, who volunteered for the race, and my husband, who was also there) helped as well. As they played the National Anthem while I treaded water at the start line with 1300 other people (this is how many people signed up for the race, but a good percentage of these people either didn't show up or didn't finish even the swim), I sang along loudly and out of key. The cannon went off suddenly without a countdown, and the frantic mass of bodies began the race.

When I first heard that everyone would start at once, I was shocked. I'd never done a start like that, and even small triathlon starts are spastic swarms of flying arms and legs. I ended up enjoying the swim anyways. A lot of people don’t like the claustrophobic feeling of swimming in a pack, but it makes me feel like a badass. We were told to take the turn around the first buoy wide, but I wasn’t sighting so much as following the people in front of me, and the people in front of me turned right at the buoy. I almost never do this even for small open water swims, but I took sharp turns around the buoys. Everyone’s swim times (including mine) were slow due to rough conditions, but I hardly noticed, enjoying the draft of the huge pack of people in front of me. I ended up with at time of 35 minutes and some seconds, and finished 7th out of 81 in my age group, and 213th overall.

I took my time in the transition area. I took a long rinse in the shower, wanting to avoid uncomfortable chafing, and reapplied body glide and sunscreen. A lot of the time advantage I’d earned in the swim was lost in transition. One more thing to practice. My bike chain was off my bike, which I noticed, when I first tried to mount. I pulled off to the side and fixed it, while a woman behind me in an Aero helmet yelled at me angrily for slowing her down. Pbbbt… Wonder if she was racing for prize money or ego…

I got on my bike and started my ride finally. There was a strong cross wind throughout my ride. This was only my second time riding with a strong wind, and also only my second experience with aerobars, and I’d never done both at the same time. The ride was harder than I expected. The heat got to me, and I felt nauseous for the last third of my ride from the Perpetuem slurry and heat. I also had problems with the water I had mounted on my water bottle cage mounted behind my seat. I'd never used it before. If I was smart, I would have had one bottle of Perpetuem and one bottle of water mounted on the frame, and the extra bottle of Perpetuem mounted behind my seat, but I didn't think this through enough. I had no problems getting it out of the cage, but couldn't get it back in. I actually stopped and got off my bike to put it back 2 or 3 times. I guess the even smarter think to do would be to have practiced this in training.

I finished the ride in 4 hours and 10 minutes; about 10 minutes longer than what I had guestimated. I was slightly slower than my pace at Wildflower. This was the longest ride I’d ever done, save one training ride along the coast, but I maintained a faster speed than any of my long training rides by about 1.5 MPH. I was still slower than almost anyone racing that day. I got 976th place on the bike, so considering I got 213th on the swim, I got passed over and over and over again. I might have passed a couple people, but they also may have eventually passed me back, after I got freaked out by being nearly knocked over by cross winds and slowing down due to heat and nausea. This race was much more competitive than Wildflower, where I actually was able to pass some people who started in heats before me, and performed about average for my age group on the bike.

I started my "run." I walked a good part of the first mile, trying to get a feel for how my ankles and calves were doing. They felt stiff, but not unbearably painful, and I hoped they’d loosen up eventually. I did my first mile in 15 minutes. My brain was a little too fuzzy to do math, but I was figuring I might not make it if I didn’t pick up my pace a little bit. I walked through the aid stations in kind of a haze, stopping and thinking for a moment when offered sponges, water, ice and Gatorade. I stopped to force down a Clif Shot block gulped down water and poured some over my head, and squeezed the cold sponges over my head, too.

I decided to try to shuffle through the rest of the race, walking the aid stations and hills, and ended up doing a 14 minute mile my second mile. This frustrated me quite a bit. I think in my mind I hoped for a 10 minute mile pace best case scenario, but a 12 minute mile pace was my cutoff for acceptable. I tried to pick it up a little bit for the 3rd mile, but nausea and disorientation making it through the aid stations held me back a bit. Again, another 14 minute mile. I decided to turn off my watch and slow down my pace until the nausea subsided. I wasn’t sure whether this was good strategizing or wimpiness, but I figured if I ended up retching on the side of the road, I could get pulled from the race and wouldn’t be able to finish anyways.

I told myself I had to go at least 7 miles in order to feel triumphant, since I had run 6.2 at the end of my longest triathlon. When I reached mile 7, I congratulated myself and kept going. I don’t remember at what point I figured out that pouring ice down my bra would help me keep cool, but that seemed to help a lot. (Plus the small part of me that is an exhibitionist enjoyed doing this.) I tried to shuffle comfortably as I could until I reached mile 10, when I figured having only 5 Km left, a distance I’d done in uncomfortable heat before, I could push it. I didn’t time it, but I’d feel comfortable saying I at least jogged it rather than shuffling through it. At the last mile, I wished I had the choice to swim it, rather than running it, I was so tired of running. I ended up averaging 13 minute miles.

I finished the race strongly. My worried mom who had probably expected me to come in sooner, was walking towards me away from the finish line. Coach patted my back and sort of pushed me through the final stretch leading to finish line. I was greeted at the end by Big L. who gave me a huge bear hug. Despite the fact that I felt strong as I finished the race, I felt exhausted after I crossed the finish line. I wanted to lie down and not talk to anyone. As someone who is taciturn anyways, it takes a lot of energy for me to talk, so when people would ask me something, it would take a few seconds for it to sink into my brain and a few seconds to answer. Tanja suggested I go to the med tent if I felt a little funny. I decided to take her advice, wanting a quiet place to lie down and some ice for my shins. They put me on ice, and I gradually recovered, after maybe half an hour.

I recovered from this race quickly, despite how exhausted I felt when it first ended. My legs feel better than they have throughout most of my training. By the time I got to the awards banquet, my Mom said I was glowing.

Thanks to my friends and family who offered their support and congratulations:

- My Mom who came to Hawaii to support me, and volunteered for the race. My Auntie Shirley and Uncle Bob who met us at the airport, cooked for us, and opened her home up to us out first night here, and after the race. Glenn, who cheered for me and the team. He stood for 8 hours in the hot sun to wish us all well. My Dad for being proud of me, encouraging my Mom to come to Hawaii, and making a Power Point to tell my story to my family. The rest of the family for offering their congratulations and best wishes, including Monica, Toni, Barbara, Emily, Danny, Patty, Gary, Grandma, and Cathrine. My great friends Angel, Marc, and Sara. All your love and support makes me feel like a champ just for finishing the race.

Thanks also to my team:

- Tim for telling me I could do this, letting a little newbie like me train with the amazing people that make up T.S., and helping me with the confidence it took to finish it. Jocelyn, for being a great friend and source of inspiration and encouragement. The rest of the team, especially Lorraine, Tanja, Cindy, Edie, Sue, and Martin.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Today's Miracles

- I finished a Half Ironman in Hawaii
- I didn't crash
- I didn't have any flats
- I didn't chafe at all
- I didn't have any blisters, despite the fact that I ran 13.1 miles in soaked socks, and had prune feet by the end
- I finished in the top 10% of the swim
- I did something a little faster than walking the run
- I'm in only slightly more pain than I was yesterday
- My NexcareTM waterproof bandages on my feet to cover my blisters from Mondays Run-Swim-Run-Swim-Run didn't fall off during the whole event. If you ever need a waterproof bandage, forget Bandaid brand.

It was a hard, hard race. It was windy. It was hot, at least for me. I get hot running in 60 degree weather, so 80 something with some degree of humidity was brutal. I biked farther than I've ever biked, save on bike ride. I ran farther than I've ever run. I've never done close to those distances at once, and the times I've done long combo workouts, I never swam before. My time was slow, pretty close to last place in my age group. But I finished. I'm happy about that.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Crash

Friday, I crashed on my bike for the first time since the time I first tried my clipless pedals.

I had a family party to go to today, so I knew I had to miss my normal Saturday ride. I decided to make up for it by riding up the coast from Flip Flop for an hour and a half and turning around. I had a really nice ride, and enjoyed the lovely views, and tried out my new aerobars for the first time. On my way back, when I was about 45 minutes from Flip Flop, I went over some diagonal railroad tracks. About 14years ago I crashed going over diagonal tracks, and have always been super careful going over them since, but for some reason I thought I'd try my luck going straight over them, rather than squaring them off. Dumb move. I fell over.

I feel OK. I don't have any significant road rash to show off, just a small scrape and a bruise. Some guy came by and checked out my bike right after my crash, and declared it to be in good working order. I was actually not as freaked out about crashing. I'm kind of glad to get my first crash out of the way. It wasn't so terrible. I feel only slightly banged up today.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Parkside Aquatic Mile - Or Do I Suck at Open Water?

Here are my open water swimming creds:

1. First place - PMS Open Water Points Competition 25-29 age group, 2004
2. Second place - PMS Open Water Points Competition 30-34 age group, 2005
3. Trans-Tahoe Solo Swim - 11.5 Miles
4. Catalina Channel Relay

You'd think with all this practice, and by the fact that my favorite thing to do in the summer is swim out to buoys, I'd be a decent open water swimmer. But:

My mile time for a 1650 pool swim: 22:56.
My time for Parkside Aquatic Mile: 27:21.

I got fourth place in my age group for the the Parkside Aquatic Mile. Here are some times for the third place person:

1650: 22:28
Parkside Aquatic Mile: 25:18


Yes, she was less than 30 seconds faster than me for the 1650, but this somehow amplified into over 2 minutes faster for the Parkside Aquatic Mile.

Maybe I just had a bad race. Maybe I didn't pace myself well. Maybe I didn't sight well enough. Maybe I don't know how to draft. Maybe I don't take tight enough turns around the buoys. Maybe I should have warmed up. Maybe I went out too fast, and sighted too often, instead of finding a good rhythm. Maybe... Maybe... Maybe... Maybe I suck at open water?

This annoys me enough that I want to race again and see if I can do better. Next time:

1. New goggles, or at least spraying anti-fog into them.
2. Take a risk at trying something new and try to find someone to draft off of
3. Be aggressive in my turns around the buoys
4. Warm up beforehand

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hey, Mom, I Did This Triathlon...

Because I lived in and loved Flip Flop, I've wanted for years to do the Flip Flop Sentinel Triathlon. I've gone to watch it a couple of times. Last year, I sort of started training for it, thinking I might be able to get in shape for it in about 2 months. I barely knew how to ride my road bike at the time. I tried, even did the whole course over a weekend, but had pain in various parts of my body that convinced me I wasn't ready. I was pretty disappointed, but sort of made up for it by hosting a triathlon slumber party for Big L., Ultra-M, and Mojojoey, cooking for them the night before and cheering for them during the race.

The Wildflower triathlon is the same distances as the Sentinel, but everyone says it is way harder. W.F. is hot and hilly, the Sentinel is cool, with a rolling bike and a flat run. So now I feel satisfied in feeling like I've finished something harder than a goal I was afraid I might never be able to finish.

What made this a really great experience was hanging out with Team S., cheering for them, benefiting from their advice and experience, and seeing how happy some of them were for me as I raced and as I finished. Coach had to miss W.F. this year, but was clearly proud of me when he heard how I did. The kind of pride he takes in his athletes, even little newbies like me, is one of the many things that make him a great coach. I don't think I've ever felt so supported in any of the events I've participated in.

I had a nightmare two nights before that I did a triathlon, and everyone had gone home by the time I was done with 1 of 2 laps of the run. I was kind of glad I had the nightmare, because I knew reality could never be that bad.

I'm pretty pleased with my results. I finished in the top 40% of my age group. Somewhere in the back of my head, I was afraid I'd finish a lot closer to last place. It took me 3 hours and 24 minutes. In my hopes of hopes, I wanted to do a 3:15, but I was afraid I'd do more like 4 hours.

Top 40% of my age group? That's as good or better than results in a lot of my swims, and I've only just started with the triathlon thing. I'm not sure that makes me as good or better a triathlete than a swimmer, but I think if I can ever work out my shin splints thing (yes, I'm training and racing injured), I'd feel confident in thinking triathlon could someday be more my thing than swimming.

I can't say I'm prouder of this experience than swimming Tahoe solo, but it's more satisfying in a lot of ways. A woman at my work says "Now that you've done Wildflower, I think I can say you're an athlete. I wasn't so sure before." PBBBBTTTT!!!!!! When I did my first triathlon, just a sprint, a lot of people thought it was a bigger deal than a 6 hour swim in choppy, cold water. Swimmers don't get enough respect. I'll always hold open water swimmers in as high regard as people who complete triathlons. But I don't think it is the respect of clueless people that makes this satisfying. It's satisfying accomplishing something I wasn't sure I could ever do, something I thought might be beyond my abilities.

Thanks to Jocelyn, Michele, Tanya, Lorraine, Cindy (who was sooo helpful to me in setting up my transition area), and the rest of the team for your help and encouragement. Thanks to Tim for turning me into a triathlete.