Run. Dog. Cat. Cat. Me.

Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

Archive for the tag “Felt F80”

This IS my Happy Face.

Here follows a riveting, step-by-step recap of last weekend’s rain-athlon.  You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  You’ll be forever changed.  You’ll never get this four minutes back.

After taking most of Thursday to get my head back on, I did well Friday.   It finally came down to the fact that I couldn’t face being a wimp.  It came down to ego.  Facing the triathlon was the lesser of two evils.  I needed the bragging rights, I couldn’t sit home pouting while everyone else put on their big pants and did the race.  Plus – did I mention? – they have free beer.

Once I figured that out and got moving I felt better.  I got organized, printed a triathlon check list and realized I’d done well getting everything arranged and packed.  The alarm went off at 4am, the car was loaded and we were set to go.  Weather.com never changed its mind; this is what our drive to Tunica looked like:

rainy

 That’s rain, not a crappy picture.  Although it is also a crappy picture.  Hey – it was 5am and I was only on my third coffee.

I stalled on the Happy Face a bit when we arrived, getting out of the car in 52 degrees of windy rain.  We set up my transition in the rain and mud and went into the hotel to stay as warm and dry as we could until the start.  The lobby was full of people in varying stages of concern, irritation, or resignation, making me not the only one with the Idonwannas.  One of my friends walked out and went home.  I felt slightly envious.

Sitting on the lobby floor I wrestled with the now sentient and obviously reluctant wetsuit which, as I pulled at the rubberized neoprene, continuously snapped back into its original shape like a new rubber band, clinging to my calves as I pulled and stretched with increasing effort.  I finally got the reluctant thing – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any happier than the rest of us –  about halfway up my thighs.  Standing, I jumped in place and tugged on the suit, because jumping up and down helps?  At one point I got my arms into the arm holes but couldn’t stand straight because the crotch was still halfway up my thighs.  Normally this type of thing would be a bit embarrassing, bent in half, in public, captive to a large stretchy garment of rubber, but everyone else was doing the same dance.

The best part?  When I finally got it on, found a stranger to zip me and was able to stand straight?  I had to go to the bathroom.  And it wasn’t optional.

Thank you, nice lady in the bathroom, whom I’ve never met before, because with my hair smashed inside the rubber swimming condom and my body squished flatter than a pancake you looked for a moment as though someone was not in the correct restroom, and yet you didn’t scream.

thankyou

Waiting for the start, standing in barefoot in the wet, muddy grass in a sleeveless wetsuit and 52-degree rain made the jump into 68-degree water feel nice.  Even nicer, I felt no fear of the swim.  I wasn’t much faster than last year, in fact it seemed to take much longer – because this time I knew where I was going? – but I made it.  I ran through the squishy muddy grass to my transition site.   The wetsuit that didn’t want me is now my best friend, “please, I love you, don’t leave me” and I plopped in the mud, finally jerking it off my feet, pulling socks on over the mud – who cared at this point – and crammed on my bike shoes.

Running through the grassy muddy transition I worried about all the stuff that could get crammed in my cleats and if I’d be able to clip in, but the Gods of Rainy Triathlons provided a handy-dandy shoe washing station:

IMG_0660

 That’s not me ^^

This is me:

MIM tri v.2

This IS my Happy Face ^^
(DISCLAIMER – I am not a member of the Very Awesome Thunder Tri Team, but Kat C. loaned me this jacket to stay warm on the bike.  See?  Awesome people.)

The bike was great!  I was hitting 20 – 21 mph!  It was so easy!  No strain, quads kicking in and not complaining, calves are silent – maybe it’s a miracle?  I’ve had a miraculous cycling miracle with my 2014 training plan of four bike rides?  This is AWESOME!  I’m golden!  I’m like … in a shitton of trouble, turning left halfway through the bike into a straight-on headwind blowing misty rain in my face.  I dropped from 20mph to 10 in about 13 seconds.  A woman in my age group passed me and disappeared into the distance.  Dammit.

If you’ve never done a run following a bike ride, even a really slow bike ride, it’s weird.  Cycling cadence is much higher than a run cadence; your legs get used to going round and round faster than usual, so when you head out on the run it feels like you’re still slogging through the mud of transition, yet you’re gasping for air, doing a 100-count-per-minute cadence.  It seems to take most of the first mile to get the message to my legs that they can relax now.  I managed to pass the lady who’d passed me on the bike and came into the chute knowing I’d left everything on the course, finishing 6 minutes slower than last year, all of it lost on the bike.

Saturday afternoon sitting around the pool with everyone I found myself thinking, “I could still register for tomorrow’s Olympic distance”, and I considered it for a moment, before realizing I was completely untrained for it.  I knew, given my sincere desire not to injure this year, that  it was a bad idea.  But if I were trained up enough…

WTH??

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OCD much?

Hubs and I were out of town last week.  You might think I would feel completely free to leave town now the kids are grown and gone, no worries, enjoy the trip, relax, eat drink and be merry.

But, no.  First, I no longer have that burning desire to desert Rome as it burns, my mother and four children waving forlornly as we back down the drive, desperately repressing the jiggling as my legs begin the Happy Dance under the dashboard.  NO VOMIT!  NO DIAPERS!  NO CRYING AND FIGHTING AND STEPPING ON DEADLY LEGOS!  I’m FREE!

I can lazily drink coffee and read the paper daily now.  I don’t have to put on adult clothes to take the kids to school and work the phones in the office from 8am to noon or help in the clinic wiping snot and blood.  I don’t have to camp out in a hotel to have a bathroom all to myself.  I don’t have to hide the chocolates in a tampon box.  I don’t have to worry about organizing soccer/cheer/homework/scouts/cupcakes for the birthday party before leaving everyone.  No worries, now.  Free Free Free.

Instead I spent three days prior to leaving town waking at 3 and 4am worrying about — The Damn Cats.  What if they refuse to eat?  What if they pee on the bed?  What if they … I don’t know … jeeze, they’re CATS – how much could go wrong??  But, no…wake, roll over, worry.

Obsess much?

Meanwhile – no pressure here – every damn day hubs insists that I need to try on his wetsuit and be sure it fits.  Fine, I tried it on.  OK, right, it was on backward but what the hell.  It’s not like it’s gender specific.  If it fits backwards it should fit frontwards.  No, apparently it didn’t count, backwards negates the experience so now I have to try it on … again.

Then, after I try it on again, he thinks I need to take it to the Center and swim in the damn thing.  Remember the pool running incident (here)?  Where all the senior water exercise class people glared at Becky and me in shock and awe?  What do you think it will do to them if I show up at the pool in a f*cking wetsuit?  How long will it take management to get all the exploded brain matter out of that water?  And can they sue me for the damages?

Still hubs remains – daily – sincere in his insistent insistence that I must absolutely without doubt swim in water with the wetsuit.  I pointed out that if I fail to do so prior to the race, and it is a wetsuit legal race, I will swim in the water to warm up and I will be wearing the wetsuit.  I think that counts as swimming before the race.  I mean, what if I swim in the wetsuit at the Center and I find out it doesn’t work so well?  Is that going to change the temperature of the water Saturday?

Last week I ordered a tri-suit.  It was in the mail when we got home.  I pulled it out of the packaging.  This sucker will not fit a skinny pre-pubescent 13-year-old.  I don’t know why they wasted a 9×13 envelope to send it to me, it would have fit fine in a letter sized and saved some postage, which they handily charged me.  Now I’ve spent $79 + tax, shipping and handling on something that weighs about four ounces and I may wear only once in my life – if I can even get it on.  And hubs is happy I spent the money.  If I buy a new lipstick and he sees it he asks me how much it cost.  Tri-suit?  Wet-suit?  Bike?  Helmet?  Bike shoes?  He’s throwing money at it like it was beads in New Orleans and he might see some boobs.

I spent one morning at the hotel swimming, then got on the spin bike and did 13 miles, then ran three.  There, I’ve done the distance, so mentally I got that out of the way.  What I realized is that I do not care at all about this triathlon like I have all the races I’ve trained for.  I’m just as obsessive about getting everything organized, not forgetting anything, hoping I don’t bonk, but I don’t really care about doing the event.  All I really care about is getting it over with.

Training for halves, fulls, 50K’s, I check weather for weeks, mentally preparing for wind/rain/floods/solar flares and meteors.  I’m scared, nervous – but it’s an excited nervous fright.  It can still get ugly – marathoniritationitis (with a graphic, here) is nothing to laugh at, but there’s still an excitement about the whole thing.  This one:  if it rains, oh well.  If it’s hot, well damn.  If it’s cold, well sh*t.  Oh, well.  If I get there, and I don’t like the weather, I might just decide not to do the event, and right now I cannot dredge up any impending regret, other than I’d be forced to register for another one and go through all this again.

Last night I dreamed I had a curse that if I talked to someone it would take away one of their powers.   Unfortunately Becky asked me a question in my dream.  I replied without thinking and it stripped her power to do triathlons.

Obsess much?? This is going to be a bitch of a week…

You can’t fall off a marathon, and you can’t sink in a 50K, and all you need is some shorts, a shirt and some shoes.

The truth is:  I’m cranky and pissed and obsessed about the cats because I’m scared of this one and it’s not an excited nervousness.  It’s just fear.

Putting the fun in functional.

There’s so much I need to do and so little time to get it done.

First, and always:  coffee.  Make the coffee, drink the coffee.

Then I have to stretch, use the roller, use the racquet ball, do some exercises.

I’m lying.  I never do that.

Sh*t.  Our Lady Queen of Pain might read this.

YES, I do that every day.

Brush my teeth.  Every day I have to brush my teeth.  Someone needs to invent self-cleaning teeth.

Then I have to check out FB, of course, and post to the MRTC page.  Which I can’t do today because apparently the gods of FB are not allowing administrators to post to FB every Thursday that falls on September 27th.  So, if you’re reading this blog, YES you can get your shirts at every race now through the last 1/2 marathon.

OH, my gosh look at those cute kittens!

Seriously, that’s cute.  They look like mobsters patrolling their area.

Get the newspaper.  This is always an exercise in frustration.  If frustration burned calories I’d weigh 100 pounds.  I force myself to read the editorials and the op-eds.  The dog sees me sit down at the table with the paper and he runs for the door, “let me out, PLEASE!”   Apparently pounding the table and muttering  “are you a freeking IDIOT!? I vote YES you are!” irritates him.  I’m just guessing, but he does seem desperate.

Either that or he disagrees with my politics.  Yet, I continue to feed and house him.  I think he’s a Democan.  But he might be a Republicrat.

This could also explain why hubs leaves the house early every day to “work out” … hmmm …

The cat doesn’t give a sh*t and just wants to eat my shoelaces.  While I’m wearing the shoes.  And trying to walk.  And dammit, there I go.  Tripped up again.

Then she hauls a$$ and hides in the 2″ space under the couch while I cuss.

Look what an anonymous friend gave me:

Why did she think of me when she saw it?

I’ve used her several times already.  And, why do I immediately think she’s female?  This could be a male dammit doll.

Nah.

Every time I slam her head on the desk DAMMIT DAMMIT DAMMIT, afterward I straighten her hair and kiss her.  Sorry, Dammit Doll, you were born into a life of pain and sorrow.

Neither of you two Faithful Followers of my World Famous Blog will believe this, but sometimes I have to work.

WTH that’s about, I do not know.

Ok, I’m back, sorry – had to play some Spider Solitaire.  Damn game.  I’m at like, 32% win rate.  The rule is, you have to play until you win.  Then when you win a game, you seem to think that can happen again, but it doesn’t, it can’t, there’s some quantum mechanics that could explain why but I still can’t figure out why mechanics are quantum, so now you’re stuck in the endless loop of playing until you win a game….and there’s no way to cheat on that damn game.  Yet, I continue to return.  It’s like when you get a piece of popcorn stuck in your tooth and it hurts.  Then you finally get it out, but you keep putting your tongue where it hurt even though that hurts.  And each time you think, this time it won’t hurt.  Because?  You’re an idiot?

Speaking of mechanics that are quantum, I posted this yesterday and tagged my daughter, since we’re both math inept past multiplication:

Photo

So T1 almost immediately posts, “Shrodinger’s Cat, right?”

WTH??????

Why, yes, Mr. Google reveals, that is, indeed, Shrodinger’s equation.  Now it’s no longer funny because I didn’t know that and I thought not knowing that was funny because NO ONE would know it.  But, no.  The Misters Smart A$$es read the damn books in high school.

I’m not burning off enough energy every day.

Can you tell?

I should ride my bike, but I have to make myself do it.  I have to ride nearly twice as long to burn the energy I use running and frankly, it’s boring.  I guess it’s like when you start running and it’s not as much fun as other people make it look.  They all look like they’re glowing and model for Vogue while you’re slogging along, red-faced and sweating like a pig at a ham eating contest.

No, it’s really not.  When I started running I liked it.  I wanted to do it.  Not that I don’t like biking, I do like it OK.  It’s like broccoli.  I like broccoli.  I just don’t want to eat it every day.  Running is like chocolate.

I really miss my chocolate.

‘Round and ’round and ’round she goes…

One of my teammates was walking across the grass toward me, making a “WTH??” gesture.

I was lying in the grass, part of me under the bike, part of me on top of the bike.  I’d unclipped my right foot but when I tried to unclip my left foot the cramp started, my leg folded like a cheap camp chair, and down I went.

I stared at the lovely blue sky while I yelled.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARG!!!”  “CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMP!!!!!”

The lady in the camp next to us calmly continued packing.  She’s seen this before.

Both calves and my entire abdomen were cramping so tightly that, two days later, I am still sore.

A can of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles appeared, floating above my face in the pretty blue sky.

“You need some salt,” he intoned.

How do I always end up in these situations?  I think I have “Here, Hold My Beer, Watch This” Syndrome.

Lisa, my friend and a certifiable lunatic, sent out an email a couple of months ago.  I should have kept it as proof that she’s insane.  We could have had her locked up and this would all have been nothing but a bad dream.

But, no.  “Hey!” she emailed, “this looks like fun!  Who wants to join?”

“Fun” as described by Lisa, is a 24 hour bike ride.

Are you nucking futs??

I’m frequently Little Debbie Downer.  I thought I should reply with something a bit more positive than my usual disdain for crazy things and people (especially since Hubs was on the email list too, I need to look like a Team Player, right?), so I said something like “well, yeah, maybe.”

Here’s a clue:  if you say “well, yeah, maybe”, crazy people read that as Y-E-S.

Next thing I know I’m on the email string, oh, wow, how fun, we have a site, here’s the schedule, everyone’s taking 2-hour intervals, rah-rah-sis-boom-bah and I’m sucked into the vortex.

Well, I’m getting a bit cocky here, I’ve been riding the bike, I’m clipping in, I’m hot Shizzoozle, I can do this.  It started to sound like fun.  It was fun.  We had a campsite on the bluff overlooking the Mighty (low) Mississippi River.  We hauled our gear down, had a beer and watched the sunset.  We ate a catered pasta dinner (all you can eat, I’m with ya, babe!)

Sunset on the Mississippi River

Hubs and I headed home, he had the 4am-6am shift and I had the noon-2pm shift and we needed to take care of Cat and Dog.

It was a beautiful day which dawned nice and cool.  Hubs had loaded Matilda in the truck for me so Babs, Matilda and I headed downtown.  “Bill” had the 8-10am slot, “John” the 10-noon slot.  Bill and I watched the river go by and visited.  We cheered John on.  I had some lunch and got ready to pick up my two hours when John came in.

The ride benefits St. Jude and if you’ve never done a charity event for St. Jude you are missing out.  They do a great job; they get the details right, and they do it with their hearts.  They are doing this for the kids and it takes it to a new level.  I’m riding a bike, but it’s not just for me, it’s for those kids.  In two hours I can get off that bike and take a break.  Those kids don’t get to take a break after a couple of hours, and their family doesn’t either.  St. Jude volunteers are doing it all for the kids, but they treated the bikers like royalty.  Every meal provided.  Music and live bands.  Pizza and Movie at 10pm.  “Portajohns” that were in a trailer!  With a sink with running water!  Snacks and beverages 24/7.  Every volunteer smiled constantly and did everything they could to accommodate everyone.

The ride is a closed course, Riverside Drive is closed and the bikers have a continuous 2.8 mile loop they can ride in safety.  The crisply cool morning gave way to a hot, dry (for Memphis) and completely sunny day.  I set out.  I knew I needed to stay hydrated.  Lisa and John met me on the course with water and Powerade about 30 minutes in.

Two hours later I pulled off and “A” headed out.  I knew I’d sweat a lot when I saw the salt crystals on my bike shorts.  I tried to get as many fluids and salty junk in as I could.  We had 11 on our team, so the last two hours didn’t have a designated rider.  “A” agreed to ride until 4:30, I’d pick up 4:30-5 and John would close it out.

We were desperately trying to hold onto our 11th place standing.  Pride.  It’s a terrible thing.

So it was – a little after 5pm I finished my last loop and ended up in the grass.  Dehydrated and depleted, yelling in pain, a can of Pringles levitating above my face.

I HAD A BLAST!!!!!!!

We’re doing it again next year!!!

You learn something new every day.

“They” say you learn something new every day.

I’ve never learned who the “they” people are.

Today I learned to put the dust bin back in the vacuum cleaner before you start it.

And I learned if you don’t, you’ll probably sneeze.  Maybe a lot.

Yesterday I learned you should put the beans in the coffee pot when making coffee.  Otherwise, when the coffee is done and you’re so happy because you finally get to have a cup of fresh hot coffee which you’ve had to wait for, like, at least ten minutes for it to brew, you will look in your mug, then you will look in the pot.  You will think, What the heck? and you’ll look back at your mug.  Finally it will dawn on your decaffeinated Brain that you have:  Hot water.

It will be extremely sad and you’ll have to wait another 10 minutes for your coffee.  This is also not safe for family members or pets but that’s not news to anyone.

Yesterday one of my BRFF’s whom I shall call, Um, Ursula (which you have to pronounce like this:  ERR-sue-lah whether that’s actually right or not, because that’s how I’m pronouncing it and it’s my blog.  And I still don’t like Brussels Sprouts so don’t hold your breath for recipes, although if I get the Cajun popcorn recipe I’ll pass it along) learned that if you have spicy shrimp boil with corn on the cob followed by a movie and two tubs of Cajun popcorn and then head out early the next morning to run 9 miles you will probably have a Code Cajun or perhaps a Code Jet Exhaust.

Her running buddy learned to stay slightly ahead of Ursula.

I went riding with Ursula’s hubs and learned some new courses.  It was a beautiful morning. We biked through the country roads, trees arching over the roads, pretty country houses set back from the road, lovely cool breeze and a bit of fall starting to scent the air. We hit one spot on Memphis-Arlington Rd that was downhill for at least a mile. I dropped and let Matilda have fun coasting rapidly down. At the bottom I told Mr. Ursula, if he told me we were turning back on this course, I was bagging it and going home! WOW what a stretch, no way I’m strong enough right now to tackle that hill going up!

He told me the first time he took Ursula on the course going uphill he reached the top and could hear her as she ascended.  “You *&%% hill what the &*(+ are you thinking you &^%% ‘ing *&^% idiot”.  I learned that did not surprise me in the least.  Ursula and I can sound quite like the sailor sometimes.  We do it on purpose.  Then we think we’re just ^%$$ing hilarious.

OH – hey – here’s a good thing to learn.  If you’re completely drunk on a Saturday morning about 7:30am and you want to get home, but there’s a bunch of cops in the street directing traffic and letting ladies cross to get to a race start, and you don’t want to stop so you go ahead and hit the gas while aiming for the cop, who fortunately bounces off your bumper and just lands on his butt:  about 1,487 cops are going to find your house, put your car on a flat-bed tow truck, take you both downtown, and I bet you are not getting pancakes for breakfast.

I’m learning it’s still a good thing to move slowly and think carefully while paying close attention to what you are doing when you stop your bike while clipped in.

I learned that I will not actually die immediately if I start to topple over but I might hyperventilate.

Oh – another one you might appreciate:  If you are sweaty and trying to put on your bike shorts it will take you a couple of minutes to get those suckers pulled up, your HR will be 125 and you can burn about 25 calories!  Sweet, eh?  I don’t need to actually ride the bike, I just need to put on damp bike shorts.  You can learn a lot from a Garmin.

Last week I learned if you’re stressing yourself over something and don’t get to run, you just get more stressed.  Brain loves to find an issue and jump on that sucker like it was a blow up trampoline at a 1st grader’s birthday party:  JUMP JUMP JUMP

But best of all, on Sunday I learned that you can blow out energy on a bike ride and get as many endorphins stuck to you as you can running.

Sweet!   I’m a very lucky person.  I can’t indulge my first love right now, but biking came along at just the right time and the joy of being a Newbie is filling the gap nicely.

I’ve been running, off and on, for 30 years.  I’ve never experienced a ‘runner’s high’ or endorphin rush – unless I was mistaking it for something else, like the incredible euphoria I felt when my first ever 20 miler was done.  I don’t think that was a runner’s high because mostly I just managed to drive home and collapse.  I know for certain the ice bath following that 20 miler had nothing to do with any type of physical or emotional high, and I can also assure you that sitting in the bathtub clutching a hot mug of coffee while wearing a sweatshirt is fairly ineffectual while sitting in cold water surrounded by a couple bags of little icebergs from the 7/11.

I’ve tripped lightly and sometimes heavily through the past thirty years, running and then not running, then getting back to it.  For the past 10 years I’ve been steady except for the Plantar Fasciitis detour.  Some days I don’t want to run, but once I get out there I’m glad I did.  Other times I’m ready for a run but it’s not so great.  I knew I cherished running but I hadn’t realize how much I’d come to rely on the friendships, the social aspect of the run, the runs by myself as I ironed things out in my mind, loosened up my shoulders, let the troubles slip off – until once again the chance to do so was eluding me.  I was certain there is no other activity that could fill the gap not running leaves, and I was once again sad and rather angry to be out of it again.  Friends kept encouraging me to bike, I knew I should, I knew it would help, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same.  I don’t mean this in an elitist way but I’ve always felt kind of sorry for my running friends who had to turn to biking when injured.  Sure, it probably kept them in shape but, still – it wouldn’t, couldn’t be the same as a run.

Sunday morning I got home, tired, sweaty, stinky, ready for a shower and the egg & veggie tortilla wrap I’d spent about the last 1/2 hour of the ride thinking about.  Fresh out of the shower, clean and happy, I sat down with my tortilla wrap and the newspaper.  I noticed my legs kinda humming a bit, that feeling when you’ve worked out hard and the muscles seem to hum?  I checked in with Brain.  He was pretty mellow, sitting back, legs crossed, just checking things out.  Do you remember Wooly Willy?

You would take the little red magnet and move it underneath the cardboard, smoothing all the iron filings in the same direction, lining them up in designs and directions.  That’s what running does for me.  It’s the magnet that smooths things out, lines things up, gets Brain all organized and orderly, everything in there aiming in the same direction.  And that’s what I learned Sunday:  it’s not a loss, it’s a gain.  I haven’t lost running, I’ve added biking.

How many times in life have I thought not getting something, not doing something was a loss, and it’s turned out to be for the better?  And yet I continue to have to re-learn that.

Just try something … new

This is how I feel when I try to swim.  Only I don’t float that well.

This morning a friend posted on FB  “Even after all this time I still get butterflies! *6.1* here I come.”  It made me think, being a runner is like falling in love.

The theme right now seems to be Newbies.  As administrator of the MRTC FB site I never know what reaction the posts will get; something I think is very interesting flops, other times I throw something up and it goes like wildfire.  This week I posted a story from from a newbie and a photo I thought someone might like.  I think they struck such a chord with the runners because we all remember being a newbie.  Heading out the door in shoes from Target, wearing a cotton t-shirt and our old PE shorts, not carrying water, trying to figure out how far we’d gone by driving the course and watching the car’s odometer.

Somehow we made it.  We saw a poster at the sports store, which we’d finally discovered for shoes, and timidly registered for a 5K.  Feeling like a flashing blue light at WalMart, standing in the crowd at the start thinking OMG what have I just done?? we managed to get to the finish line.  We met other runners; although we denied we were a *RUNNER* because we didn’t go as fast, or as long, or didn’t understand what a “negative split” was, we managed to learn the talk and start getting hints for shoes, hydration, shin splints.  Runners love running, and they love to talk running.  A newbie, to an older runner, is like Christmas.  OH BOY!  NEW!  SHINING!  MEMORIES!  To share with a newbie is like crack.  Feels so good (so I assume, about the crack, I mean) and the up side is, it’s legal, and it benefits everyone.

The FB posts were awesome, I’ve read them several times. I love the enthusiasm, the joy, the memories.  I love the hesitant questions from the newbies, their excitement, their nervousness.  I love how the runners cheer each other on, the incredible stories of overcoming illnesses, injuries, weigh loss and reclaimed health.  If you can, read the links above.  You’ll smile.

You only get to be a newbie once.  Then you’re a runner.  You may be a runner who is not running right now, you may be a runner who is injured, or a runner not training for anything, but you’re a runner.  It’s like coloring your hair.  You’re a blond or redhead now, and it looks great, but the roots are Runner.

I, however, have discovered the Fountain Of Newbie.  You can be a newbie again. You just have to go back to the scared, hesitant, awkward, worried place.

This is what I feel like on my bike, only I look more worried.  And I wear a helmet.  Which, the first time I wore it, was on backward.  Hey, it gave T1 and T2 a laugh.

This is how I feel when I go really really fast, like 14 mph.  (Kristin Armstrong, Olympic Time Trials Gold Medalist, 18 miles in  37:34.81; if the online converter is correct that is 28.748890860692104 MPH)

It is a bit like falling in love.  Shiny object: boyfriend.  Shiny object:  bicycle.  Scary: first date.  Scary: first ride.  Revealing yourself:  maybe you won’t measure up.  Revealing yourself on the ride: maybe you won’t be able to keep up.  Sticking with it the first time it gets rough:  your first fight.  Sticking with it the first time it gets rough:  clipping in.

Thus I found myself early Labor Day morning enthusiastically donning the riding gear I’d carefully set out the night before.  Newbie, checking:  Shorts, gloves, helmet, water bottles… nervously excited I drove to B’s house and met H and Mr. B for a ride.  I felt so official, pulling on my bike gloves, helmet facing forward, gleaming new white shoes.  We took off.  Well, they took off.  I was facing the wrong direction!  hahahahaha!  I clipped in, too scared to try a tight turn on the neighborhood street, I went the opposite way and met them at the corner.  It was a beautiful morning as we rode through the countryside.  The ravens on the power lines laughed at me, but I knew they were wrong.  Laugh away, I said, laugh away, and I rode on.

Maybe I’ll save swimming for awhile so I can be a newbie again, again.

BFOS – The Saga Continues

Last Sunday’s run sucked like a Dyson on steroids. I’d had a great tempo run last Wednesday and had a target pace in mind, which I held for exactly 2 miles and then the Butt fell off the bus. I ran, I walked, I cussed, I hurt, I limped. I’d done two slow miles to warm up before the race, did the 5 Miler and gave up. My butt was trying to fall off and I was about fed up with it. I’d hoped to do twelve last Sunday since I’ve got the Tupelo run this weekend; unless I wanted to run the final 5 hopping on one foot – and I didn’t – I needed to bag it for the day.

This race, btw, is my absolute favorite, check it out: http://tupelorunningclub.homestead.com/tupelomarathon.html. The race starts at 5am – pitch dark – from a huge furniture facility and is an out-and-back course through the Mississippi farmland. The half is actually 14.2 miles. The turnaround is 1.1 miles from the start/finish, so the halvers have to run an extra 1.1 to the finish line. They didn’t do medals for the halvers until a few years ago. You could do the half, but no medal. And the medal is awesome, you do want one: a skull with gleaming red enamel eyes. The half medal is even better: it’s a little bigger than a half a skull, with ragged edges as though it were torn in half. The t-shirt is always a long sleeve tie-dye with a skull and crossbones on the front and the race’s motto: “Hurdle the Dead. Trample the Weak.” Last week the RD sent the following announcement, in view of possible bad weather due to Isaac:

Special notice: Tupelo Marathon and 14.2 Miler Contingency plans regarding Hurricane Isaac

After consulting with Tupelo Running club Staff Meteorologist Michelle Rupp and long time, former Race Director Mike Lail I am announcing the contingency plan for this year’s race:

 A. In the event of rain we will get wet
B. In the case of heavy rain we will get really wet
C. In the case of REALLY heavy rain I will wait in the building until you’re all back

I’m concerned about the run tomorrow, I haven’t done more than 10 in a few weeks, and my butt tried to fall off yesterday at 6 miles. I’ve been doing some BFOS research and will report in later; I’m hopeful I’ve found some help but I doubt it’s going to work within 24 hours.

After the pain of Sunday I took Monday off and woke Tuesday with a plan. I was going to run four miles.

And….

Then….

I was going to….

RIDE MATILDA!!!!!! This was the day. This was the plan. I was firm in my resolve and when Brain tried to squeak in my ear that maybe we should wait until tomorrow I squished him firmly back into his little dark corner and told him in no uncertain terms to Shut. Up.

I put her in the car and drove to a church about a mile from our house. It’s a great little church, very traditional Episcopalian church, white boxy old-fashioned building with a little steeple on the top, rather like Little House on the Prairie. They are really nice people, allowing a 5k/10k race to be held on their grounds every year, and they don’t mind runners using their parking lot to meet up and head out for a run so I figured they would not mind if I rode my bike in circles in their grass. Plus with it being a church and all, maybe God would be extra close at hand to rescue crazy women learning to ride a bike.

I took a deep breath and saddled up. We can do this. Just stay focused and stay calm. No panicking allowed. One thing I’d noticed when I was practicing clipping the last time is that I tend to stop my bike while still on the seat and then put my feet down. This worked fine when I was 12 and riding my Schwinn Stingray with the banana seat. On a street bike you can’t do that, the seat is too high, you can’t reach the ground. I’d never thought about it, though, when using the regular pedals as my foot was freer to pop off at the last second and land. Voilà – there was the main issue: I was trying to stop first and then unclip.

The ladies coming out of the exercise class at the church looked at me a bit funny as I pedaled in circles, focused: pedalpedalpedal, unclip, brake, slow almost to a stop, put foot down, unclip left foot. I did it! Look, Ma! No Cavities!

Emboldened by my success I decided to take a spin around the parking lot. Two exercise ladies were standing by their cars talking as I wobbled around the corner and almost took them both out – my bad, sorry! I told them I was just learning. They looked a bit alarmed and asked if they were going to have to scrape me off the asphalt, but I wobbled onward, thanking them.

12.5 miles and 51 minutes later I returned to the parking lot, unclipped and glided to a stop. I am a cyclist.

I am a runner, and I am a cyclist. And since I swam 10 laps last week, I’m claiming that, too.

I am not, however, a triathlete. nopenopenopenopenope.

How do you spell that?

My daughter once spent an irritating and frustrating week in a grade school English class learning to use the dictionary.  She carted the thing home to do her homework, spastically shoving the pages back and forth exclaiming, “If I don’t know how to spell the word how can I find it in the dictionary by spelling it??”

Personally, I thought she had a point – but that wasn’t going to get her homework done.  My solution was always to open the dictionary at the page most closely resembling the start of the word (as I imagined it) and read every entry until I found it.  If that didn’t work I would think of a different word to use.  In English class substitutions are not allowed, but now I’m a grown up and this is my blog so I can use any word I feel like using, which is one of the many perks of growing up, and old.  For instance I can randomly write, right here and now, Abercrombie and Fitch (one of my favorites.  I just like how it sounds.  Someday I may get two cats and name them Abercrombie and Fitch).  And also, nanner-nanner.

Yesterday the mechanic called from the bike shop.  I believe mechanic is a poor term.  Wizard, perhaps.  The Bike Wizard called.  He said, and I am not making this up:  On the Front Derailleur the Barrel Guide Adjuster had broken.  This would cause problems with shifting.  We’ll get to that in a minute.

Of the entire sentence I understood “front” and “broken”.  We can thus deduce that if Johnny had three apples and Susie had 17, and train number one left Poughkeepsie at 12:37pm doing 1,486 mph and train number two left Hoboken at Oh700Hours doing 1,032 mph, that something on the front of my bike:  Broke.

He told me they had no new ones in inventory but did have a used one, so he put it on the bike at No Charge.  Hubs understands ‘No Charge’ better than any two words in the English language, please believe me, and I have my suspicions he can say it in 27 more, so he was happy that the Thing on the front of the bike that looks like a Barrel without a Guide and is in need of Adjustment (chiropractor?  counseling?) was fixed for Free.  Bike Wizard went on to explain, apologetically, that all they had in stock was a silver-colored Wonderworking Thingamajig not a white one to match my bike.

Well that’s it then.  Take the bike back, I’ll sacrifice myself and not ride it, I’m not sure I can be seen in public with a silver thingie instead of a white one and I might lose my mancard over this.

I’m lying.  I don’t really have a mancard.   And anyone close enough to see if my thingie is silver is probably going to get punched in the head.

Due to the wonders of the internet, thank you, Mr. Gore, for inventing it or whatever it is you did, I no longer have to slap the pages of the dictionary back and forth, I just google it.  After a couple minutes of Google thinking I wanted to know about Derrick Rose or train derailment (which this was beginning to feel like) I found how to spell derailleur and here you go, in case you don’t know any more about bikes than me:

  • Derailleur gears are a variable-ratio transmission system commonly used on bicycles, consisting of a chain, multiple sprockets of different sizes, and a mechanism to move the chain from one sprocket to another.  Although referred to as gears in the bike world, these bicycle gears are technically sprockets since they drive or are driven by a chain, and are not driven by one another.
  • Modern front and rear derailleurs typically consist of a movable chain-guide that is operated remotely by a Bowden cable attached to a shifter mounted on the down tube, handlebar stem, or handlebar. When a rider operates the lever while pedaling, the change in cable tension moves the chain-guide from side to side, “derailing” the chain onto different sprockets.

The much more important thing that happened was that the broken derailleur can cause problems shifting – derailing my attempts to shift into lower and higher gears to make my ride a bit easier on me.  I swanny!  I’m not an idiot!

And the most important thing is Matilda got new handlebar tape (two-toned black and red) and she is looking extremely fine and stylin’ with her new threads and the new gear box and Bento box.  Oh, and he tuned up the brakes.  Brakes I understand.  I hit those suckers without getting unclipped properly and probably my face is going to get broken.  *LALALALALA* I can’t HEAR you.  (Brain here:  she went somewhere for a moment.  Hold on.  She’ll be back.)

Where was I?  Anyway, the most important thing is Matilda got new handlebar tape (two-toned black and red) and she is looking extremely fine and stylin’ with her new threads and the new gear box and Bento box.  Oh, and he tuned up the brakes which were sticky.  There was something else about brakes but now I can’t remember.

She’s loaded in the back of Babs (my Explorer aka “Truck”) and waiting for her first shakeout.  Becky may be able to ride tomorrow, we’ll see.  I’ve taken yesterday and today off so it will be nice if I can get a good workout tomorrow.  This afternoon I might go to Walgreen’s to buy elbow and knee covers.  You know those stretchy things you wear if your hurt your knee or elbow?  I could pretend that’s what I did, and wear them.  Hopefully if I fall they’ll tear, instead of me.

It will be like being back in 5th grade wearing cotton crew socks.  I’m used to it.

Matilda

Note the barrel guide adjuster inside the circle, where the arrow is pointing.  Get out that magnifying glass thingie you have with the light and use it, that might help.  You might be able to see it, it’s about a quarter-inch long.  Doesn’t take much to derail a bike I guess.  And doesn’t she look fine?  See the lollipop pedals?  Meh.  Probably it’s better to just look at her for a while.  A year.  Maybe two.

Well. I swanny.

Mary Lou sat at the oversized, ancient wooden desk which had been her cotton merchant husband’s (until he’d passed), quietly regal and southern; her shiny grey hair pulled tightly and smoothly back into a schoolmarm bun, her bright red, perfectly manicured nails clicking on the 10 key as she punched in and totaled the weights of her Pima cotton bales for shipment.  “Well.  I swanny,” she’d murmur occasionally, “I swanny, Clive, I cannot get these numbers to add up.”

She’d been born and raised in Kentucky, married her southern gentleman cotton merchant husband and had been involved in the cotton business with him her entire life.  A tiny sigh and “I swanny” was the toughest thing to come out of her mouth – but she was solid metal top to bottom.  No messing with Mary Lou.  I loved her like another mother and when I got the job with Clive she acted like a mother to me from day one, taking care of me and watching out for me the way southern women do.

“Heather” and “Becky” were at it again.  Someone has got to quit feeding them vitamins.

*BOINK*

– 9 or 9:30?

– 9:30 is good

– my house?

– sure, that works

— (Brain jumps in front of my face and grabs the keyboard) Hey.  9:30 what?  What are you doing?

– I’ll bring that book for you, too

— (Brain can’t quit, it’s like its had too much coffee) Hey.  What are you doing?  Are you going somewhere?

– Cool, thanks!

— (Brain again, “SHUT UP BRAIN!” I scream silently, trying to shove my way in front to the keyboard) Hey.  Whatcha doing tomorrow?

– Riding

— (Brain.  “OMG,” I’m thinking, “Get OFF my keyboard, Brain” but I can’t seem to stop it) Are you riding with Rob’s group?

– “B” and I are riding from her house at 9:30

— (Brain is apparently on ‘roids, I can’t stop it, it won’t quit) Can I come?

– SURE! (one of the idiot twins chimes.)

— Cool!  See ya! (types Brain, apparently thinking it finally got accepted by the cool kids, little realizing they fully intend to jump off the bridge).

In middle school they used to have dances in the cafeteria.  You’ll both find it hard to believe, knowing me as you do now, classy, smooth, sophisticated, that I was a bit of a nerd back then.  When I got to the new school in 5th grade I showed up bright and shining the first day wearing crew socks, tennies and whatever new skirt my mom had made me.  All the other girls were wearing anklets.  Cute little white socks that skimmed the rim of their tennies.  Me:  fat white cotton socks carefully and neatly folded over.  Took me weeks to get my mother to even grasp the concept, and weeks longer to convince her to purchase them for me.  Now it’s time for the sock hop dance at school.  Scarred forever by the Cotton Crew Socks Incident I assumed everyone would wear anklets to the sock hop.  No.

That’s rather how I felt showing up with my sweet little Felt F80 — with sissy pedals and tennis shoes.  I have bike shorts, but I couldn’t find them.  I have bike gloves, but I couldn’t find them.  I have a helmet that the cushy stuff is falling out of the inside.  I have an extra tube, tools and cartridge in a zip-up plastic carry hanging off the front handle bars rather like one of the B-ster’s little “packpacks”.  The handlebar tape is coming unraveled, I’ve tucked it back into itself but the sticky side is out now, with little fluffs of lint stuck to it.

“B and H” are slicked out with their bike shoes and bike shorts and bike shirts and Bento boxes comparing air pressure levels and programming computers for-the-love-of-all-that’s-holy on their aero bars.  Brain appears in shock, apparently beginning to realize what’s it gotten us into.  “I swanny,” sighs Brain, “this could hurt.”

“Ya think?,” I reply, silently, sarcastically.  “I tried to tell you.”

B & H, however, are nothing but cool.  They truly don’t care about looks, they care about heart.  They will cheer on anyone, any age, size, sex or ability if that person is honestly trying.  I think a lot of athletes are like that – and by athletes I mean anyone getting off the couch and trying something outside their comfort range, no matter if outside that comfort range means a 15 minute walk.  Are you trying?  Are you dying?  YOU ROCK.

I got my Felt about 4-5 years ago.  I convinced dad that I really would feed that kitten and clean the litter box, that I really would take care of that dolly, that I really would feed and walk that puppy – I talked hubs into helping me find a bike.  We got that thing pimped out with handle bar tape and lollipop pedals and a pair of Shimano clip-in shoes.  They measured and tweaked the bike, got it on the trainer, taught me how to shift, had me practice clipping in and out.

I took my shiny new toy home and out to the street.  I got on.  I clipped.  I slipped.  I tipped.  I managed to get to the end of the block and out of sight.  I clipped, I unclipped, I tipped.  I think I’ve told this story before.  I went home, got out the tool box, took off the lollipops and put the sissy pedals back on.  And in the storage room, to the disgust of hubs, sat the clips and shiny white shoes ($100 value?) for the next four years.

I did ride the bike, usually several times each summer.  Nothing strenuous, nothing tough, no racing up and down hill and dale, just tooling around town, through the park.

B, H & I set out.  I couldn’t seem to get my bike to shift properly.  It was stuck.  Then it worked.  Then the chain fell off.  I kept working with it.  I thought I was doing something wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what.  I mentally reviewed shifting.  Maybe I should do this, or that – but it didn’t seem to be working.  The bike has never been serviced since I bought it, maybe the chain is hanging up or rusty or something.

“B” rode alongside.  Sweet, southern, always helpful and motherly.  She’s patiently teaching me to swim, and now she’s teaching me to bike.  “Try this,” she said, and played with the right-hand shifters.  I copied her and felt it slip into gear.

“Good,” she said, “try this now” and played with the shifter some more.  I copied her and felt the gears slip into place.

*sigh* I swanny.  I’d forgotten how to shift.

We biked 26 miles in 2 hours and 3 minutes.  I’m pretty sure B & H would have gotten it done quite a bit faster without me, but they are team players, they are true athletes and they acted like this was exactly what they needed and wanted.  My legs announced in the last couple miles that they were done but I convinced them it was bike or walk pulling the bike, no other way out of it, so they pulled some more.

I woke the next day expecting to shuffle, hobbled and in pain, to the bathroom.  I stood.  I took a cautious step and then another.  My hip flexors were tender and that was it. In fact, my legs felt good!  My hamstrings weren’t trying to spasm; my legs had that tired that buzzes in your muscles, the good feeling.  I felt relaxed.  I even seemed to be standing straighter.  I felt GREAT!

This morning I took the bike to RB’s.  He’s giving her a little tune-up.  I bought a Bento box complete with plastic, water-proof cover for my phone so I can text and bike.  I got a utility pouch for under my seat.  I’m getting sweet red & black striped handle bar tape.

And I’m having them put the lollipops back on.

I swanny.  I am NOT going to start doing triathlons.  Don’t even think it.

I’m Serious.

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