Sunday, October 18, 2009

I TRIed it

Today I ran my first triathlon. I wish I could say I had been training rigorously to prepare, but I really had not. I have ventured out on my bike twice since we bought it, and I swam ONCE in August with Jeff and Elaina. The only thing I had been doing with much regularity was running, and this was sparse at best. In hindsight, I was crazy to think I was in any way prepared for this, but I did it anyway.

I had three goals for each event:
  1. Keep a steady pace with the crawl stroke for the swim, and don't drown in the pool
  2. Stay on my bike and keep pedaling during the bike portion.
  3. Run the entire run, no matter how slow the trot.

I would be lying to say I wasn't nervous, but I was more excited than anything. So excited that I yelled out, "We are going to have so much fun!" while waiting to check in. (Extroversion sometimes can get the better of me).


The swim took place in an indoor pool. There were three-hundred participants and eight lanes. EIGHT. A new racer started every eight seconds and swam up the lane, back, and then moved to the next lane. Watching this was horrifying as clearly there were some faster swimmers than others. There were four people abreast in a lane at times. I was bib number #119 and was in the pool before I knew it. Keeping my limbs long and my stroke even, I tried to roll with each breath as to keep my head even with my body. Fortunately I had room to get in some kick turns at the wall almost every time. I even passed three mo-fo-ing people. To say I was Phelps-like is an understatement. It. Was. AWESOME. 400 meters in TEN MINUTES. I f*cking rocked the swim. It felt amazing and was by far, my favorite part of the whole race.

First Transition

It was flipping cold out this morning. When someone from Maine says it's cold, then you know it's friggin cold out. We were given the option to use the locker room to towel off and put on our clothing (if you as a racer wanted to take the extra time). I was not doing this race for speed, so of course I went and changed in the locker room. I quickly dried off, stripped off my bathing suit and threw on my shorts and top on over my sopping wet sports bra. Being a bit of a genius, I threw my hair up in a turban with my towel before I ran out to the "real" transition area to get my bike. There were a lot of laughs from Rob, Jeff, and the race officials, BUT letting the cottony absorption work to my benefit before I put on my helmet was just plain smart. (Rob later informed me I was the only racer to come running out with a towel on their head. I'm really not surprised I was the only one fabulous enough to come up with this idea).

The Bike

I came to the realization today that I am not a huge fan of riding a bike. Especially half wet and freezing. I really don't like it when there are lots and lots of "fun" hills to conquer. As easy as it was channeling my inner Michael Phelps, my inner Lance Armstrong was NO WHERE to be found. He was busy tuning into the thirty or more racers that ended up passing me. I'm not exaggerating. I passed ONE guy, who then passed me about two minutes later. When I came upon a sign bearing the number 5, I was a bit confused. Then I realized that was the mile marker, and I feared I would be on my bike THE REST OF THE DAY. Around mile 9 on a stretch I referred to as the "Hill de Hades" (the "Hill of Hell", per my Tour de France lingo) the chain came off my bike. Awesome. Thankfully I remembered what Jeff had told me to do in that situation and I had it back on in a matter of seconds. With my chin up, I just kept thinking to myself, "I'm just this girl, out here, riding my bike." It helped me find a rhythm and get through the fifteen plus miles of many hills.

Second Transition

I was so excited to get off my bike, because as fabulous as my seat is, my crotch was killing me. The sweet escape was temporary as I realized my legs were frozen and felt like noodles. I retied my hair, threw on some sunglasses, and as I passed a handful of volunteers and my support (Rob & Jeff) I rallied with, "Alright bitches, let's do this."

The Run

The first half mile I was just going through the motions of running. My legs were cold, numb, and exhausted. I kept at it and somehow, I found my stride. It was an odd feeling. My body still had some push, and I went for it. Running along, listening to the rhythm of my stride, I no longer cared about who passed me or vice versa. Just like in the pool, on the bike, and then jogging along. It was all me. My pace, my race.

I began to think about how critical I am of myself when it comes to life. Being the right size, a good wife, and definitely the perfect mother. Running along I realized the only person I need to live up to is me. I'm the only me there is, no matter what size I come in. I'm the only wife Rob has (hopefully), and I am irreplaceable as Grace's mother.

I crossed the finish, having ran the whole while (and thus completed all my goals). Right before I finished I made myself a promise. I will remind myself more often that I am not just "good enough," I'm great. In fact, I'm actually fabulous.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

our non-cation, the vacation that wasn't: Part I

Although this is much overdue, it's come time to finally write about our two week excursion in September. The vacation plan was to travel to Florida and visit my Grandmother (Memere) and her boyfriend Sam at the Villages for two nights (that's all anyone can handle in the land of free-roaming, cranky retirees). Then we were to venture over to Hudson, FL to spend the week with Rob's parents, where we would leave Grace and the dogs while we flew from Tampa to Boston a Thursday through Sunday for THE WEDDING.

This wedding was my fault, my fault entirely. The bride was my cousin and had been my maid of honor. The groom was Rob's best friend from college, and had also been his best man. With a well doctored garter toss and some friendly reception make out action, the rest became history. This was October 29, 2005. Fast forward to the weekend of September 19, 2009, their wedding at a very pricey resort in coastal Massachusetts. No children please.

Our two day stint at Memere's was great. As Memere-tastic as any visit can get. One must understand a few things about my Memere. She is French Canadian, has a limited working ability with the English language, but wields it well. She is old school and true to her heritage. Men come first, men are pampered, food and meals are non-negotiable, and you never ever want to piss her off. I'm pretty sure I can commit an entire blog topic to describing this fabulous lady, and someday I will. She is doting and bluntly critical. Memere stories are always funnier told in person because I do a damn good job imitating her voice and getting the tone of the story just right.

The food was too much as usual. Memere will tell you you're "bigger since last time" and that you're not eating enough all in the same breath. She loads our plates with servings large enough to bring Bob Green to tears, will get mad when we don't eat everything, and then rants about how much we should "hate ourselves" if we let ourselves go and get fatter. I told her about my training and my upcoming triathlon and she bluntly responded that I was "tinner at Christmas". She also came to the conclusion that Rob was "spoiled" because he worked a "lazy job" and this was all because the Navy "pays our electric bill." You just can't win with Memere.

Eager to get out for a break, I ventured out one morning to take a run. I had forgotten how hot it was in Florida. Hot all the effing time. The heat torture was probably made worse by the fact that Memere likes to keep her house at 80 degrees. (Rules of Lilah #364: heat only puts me in a bad mood and I cannot be held responsible for being short tempered when experiencing hot temperatures). It was early, but still too hot for a run, and I went anyway. Memere lives in a gated retirement community where there are no sidewalks. (There are plenty of golf-carts scooting around with the cars. The majority of drivers are at that very sensitive, yet very ill-equipped age to operate any sort of vehicle. A very SAFE set up, you know, having a gate and everything.) The distance from Memere's house to the front gate is three miles round-trip. A nice flat, easy run to keep up with my training while away and get a little stress relief. Wrong. It was hot as balls. I was sweating my shorts off the first quarter mile in. The humidity is just plain ridiculous and anyone who likes this weather is crazy in my opinion. Mark my words, I will NEVER live in Florida EVER again. Following the rules of the road I made sure to run against traffic (20 mph speed limit throughout, mind you). Whenever an oncoming car or cart approached I even straddled the adjacent lawn and rain gutter as to grant PLENTY of berth for the oncoming "traffic" (and also look out for my own safety). The few friendly waves or thumbs up were unquestionably outnumbered by the FINGER WAGS and disproving glares. Clearly a 27-year-old married white mother in Nike running shorts is up to NO GOOD disturbing the peace trotting down the street at seven in the morning.

It was not a relaxing jog at all, especially when I had an 80 degree household to cool down in, a Memere criticizing that my child is fussy because I don't feed her enough (not because she is a giant ball of sweat), and a very loving, patient Rob giving me The Look. We left the next day and I never ran again during this vacation.