Sunday, December 23, 2007

Spain in '04

Ran into Lazy and Rick today. Really nice to see some tri team faces I haven't seen in a while.

Might be because I'm feeling better, and getting out of the house more.

Still no stamina, though.

But I'm working on it, and am definitely on the upswing.

In November, 2004, Mr. T and I went to Spain for a rock climbing trip on the southern Costa Blanca coast. We hadn't seen each other in almost a year, so we spent 3 weeks in Europe getting re-acquainted. My sister just happened to have a conference in Madrid and arranged to stay longer to meet us on the coast for a family vacation.

We stayed in the cutest little finca, in an agricultural valley lined with groves of orange trees, little towns, and meandering water ways. The driveway up to this place was flanked by large stone lions and had a huge gate. We had a private tennis court. T was enthralled by the olive trees and tried to eat an olive fresh from the branch. Something he won't repeat again.

Our first night we went to get something to eat. We walked into an entirely deserted restaurant, resplendent in white linen and crystal wine goblets. At 6:00 pm we were terribly gauche, but didn't know it. As T puts it, we must have been having an early evening snack--Spain custom doesn't even consider dining before 9:00 pm

We had home made antipasto plates everyday--olives, cheeses, good crusty bread, narrow, hard salami's, ai'oli, and red wine. We bought the wine at a mercado called "Mas-y-Mas,"--after becoming unintentionally tipsy in their wine tasting room. Mas-y-Mas is really just your typical supermarket, but with a better meat/seafood counter--and a wine tasting room, unattended, lined floor to ceiling with wooden casks, spigots, and little plastic cups.

We were so enamored of the olives, that we bought 2 pounds of assorted types from a street market vendor--only to find that they were marinated in a biting, astringent vinegar. We still ate them, but in small doses.

One evening we stopped in for tapas in a large bar, hidden behind thick stone walls and large, solid wooden doors. Older, grizzled men sat around wooden tables playing cards. The air was thick with smoke. We found kidneys, curdled blood, and very large, intact sardines. I don't recall eating anything--and think stateside tapas may be more appealing to me than the traditional fare.

We celebrated Thanksgiving, thankfully with my sister, in the small moorish village of Parcent, built on a hill. We toured on foot, walking small, narrow, crooked cobbled streets up to the top of the hill, then down the other side, and back again. Dinner was a large platter of seafood paella, bread, more red wine, and fruit.

One day, we climbed up the Penon de Ifach in the town of Calpe near Alicante. November is the off season, so the beach was entirely deserted and the water was COLD. Mr T dove in, and then just as quickly ran out. In the summer it's quite the beach resort and is elbow-to-elbow people--which accounts for the high rise condos lining the beach.

This photo is a shot my sister took on the climb up. She just found and sent it to me, which brought back memories, so I thought I'd share.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A L'il Bit of Grump

I am still sick.

My body feels like it's going through an inactive taper, achey and uncomfortable.

I tried to go back to work yesterday, but had to leave before noon.

Sitting still, I felt fine.

Being active (running around the gym) unexpectedly stressed me to the point where I felt worse than I had for the prior few days.

As I was leaving, I could hear a cacophony of coughing, sniffling and sneezing all around me. I'm almost glad I'm still sick, so I don't have to be around, well, all that sickness.

One of my co-workers said that he doesn't take time off, he just takes ibuprofen.

He said this at the top of his lungs while almost simultaneously sharing the factoid that one person can infect ten other people --and hacking and blowing into a tissue.

The altruistic side of me sends him best wishes, and hopes that he, and everyone else, gets better soon.

The grumpy, whadaya think your doing side, thinks he needs a swift kick to the dark side, where all the little hobgoblins can hack and spit on him. He probably wouldn't get it though, and would think it was some great new game where everybody hacked and spit on each other. Then he would just join in.

Maybe he could get buried by hacking goo, and just disappear.
That's what I wish for him.

People who don't go home when they're sick, deserve to buried by hacking goo.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Tagged for 5

I have been tagged by GG.

I didn’t pick up on it at first, as I have been lolling around in bed, trying, and I mean TRYING, to get myself better as fast as I can by doing absolutely nothing and laying around in bed in a stupor.

Having a fever, with all over skin hypersensitivity, a mushroom sized headache, deeply aching eye sockets, swollen neck lymph nodes, and a complete lack of appetite has helped the stupor immensely.

I’ve been stuporing for several days now.

I did rouse myself (before my symptoms increased) to attend my company’s annual Christmas party, where I joined a conga line (T did too), then fell into a chair with fatigue. Since I normally can be a dancing fool, this was not like me. I’m not sure if the $25 in movie theatre coupons I won were worth the increase in illness I felt the next day--which is when my stuporing began in earnest.

T “I’m So Glad I’m Done With Finals and Now I’m Enjoying My Time Off” was tooling around on my website and yelled “Hey! You’ve been tagged. What does that mean?”

Ummm…I’m not sure. But then I tooled around and found he’d been tagged, also. Kind of like 6 degrees of separation, you can follow the thread backward: GG, EPT, Cody, Mike Lovato—not sure where it will go from here, but can I tag someone twice? Well, I don’t see why not.

I have to write 5 unusual (?) or interesting (?) things about myself—I’m not sure which.

As I can be a bit wordy, be patient with me—or blame GG for the infliction.

So, here goes:

1. I fall under the definition of a “Little Person” which is 4’10” or under. When I came to the mainland after living in Hawaii, I was stricken on the first day of school at how large everyone was. I knew I’d picked the wrong career. How in the world could I be a physical therapist among all these large people? I was scared silly. Fortunately, after years of trial by fire, I’ve learned my craft—but it took a long time to get used to how BIG people are over here. I still think Big people use more resources than little ones....

2. When I was contacted by the Forest Service to work as a seasonal firefighter, I said everything I could to convince them that they didn’t want me. It was like talking to a blank wall. The person at the other end of the phone would politely listen, than continue on with the hiring spiel. What they didn’t say was: I was a desirable double minority (female and Asian), plus I’d been putting myself through school by working outdoors and was sharp with a chainsaw and whatever other tools (Pulaski, etc) that were required. I finally figured what the heck, I could try it, and if I failed, I would just bow out and return to normal life. I was so scared (again). I made sure to take the fitness exam at sea level, before I drove up to the mountains, because I knew I wouldn’t pass at elevation. I still don’t know how I passed. The examiner's heart-rate count was about ½ of what I counted. When I got to the station, none of the Nomex clothes fit, and I spent the first night taking in inches all the way down the sides of both pant legs and the sides of my shirt—all hand stitched—I was up late. Because of my light weight I crewed on an engine but was placed on helitack as an alternate. On my second day as an alternate, I was sent up—but that’s a whole ‘nother story (scrambling into orange helitack coveralls, I found they didn’t fit either…)

3. To get through my initial years of college I lived for one especially cold (it snowed on the coast) winter in a trailer with broken rear windows and no heat. I remember one night when it got so cold I could barely move my fingers to type. My thoughts were going at normal speed, but everything else was in slow-mo. I remember thinking “this must be what it feels like to be old.” In those days I slept fully clothed under a cotton and nylon sleeping bag. One morning I woke up to a positively luxurious warm feeling—and found it was 36 degrees, instead of below freezing. That was a really good feeling.

4. I was introduced to Jimmy Riccitello in 1987 (or thereabouts) at the Hawaii Ironman. I wasn’t there to do the race, just provide support and a cheering section. Jimmy had these riveting light eyes that looked directly into mine, and the kindest voice. I never forgot that moment. Years later, when I was re-visiting the sport after a ten year hiatus, I picked up a magazine, and was surprised to see an article with his name on it. I didn’t know he’d progressed into Officialdom with the USAT. In 2005, while doing the Honu Half Ironman, Mr. T dumped off his bike and ended up with a right side quad cramp. At mile 54 he literally fell over on his bike while climbing a hill because of the cramps. The head referee pulled up, got off the motorcycle, and rubbed the cramps out of T's leg. This enabled T to finish his race, albeit painfully. Imagine how envious I was, when T told me that Jimmy had rubbed out his thigh. Sigh…

5. One time I went through a hard break-up with a boy and lost a lot of weight. The result was that I became a really good rock climber. The moral of this story is that good things come in strong packages…no, light weight makes strong hands…no, I mean, just go out and live your life no matter what. It will all come out good in the end.

And that’s just what it has.

Thanks Mr. T

PS: I think everyone I know has been tagged so far. Still, I’d like to tag Bones (love to see it, Bones, love to see it), Al, Cindy, and Muffin.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Polar Bear Triathlon

The hard part about racing a race that you hadn't planned on racing is not how hard it is to push when you haven't been training--that parts easy, because you're usually nice and rested--the hard part is just how sore you feel the next day.

The day after doing the year-end, first-race-of-the-year, Polar Bear Triathlon (Dec. 8), I had a nice case of DOMS--delayed onset muscle soreness--a soreness that not only was delayed, but continued to progress as the hours passed. By that evening, I was barely able to mobilize my quads to allow me to step down two steps into the garage--a good excuse as any to NOT do the weekly laundry.

The Polar Bear triathlon is one of those events I used to avoid due to the possibility of the inclement weather that the name implies. For some reason, I went with T last year, and now I guess it's become one of our standards--at least this year it was just assumed that we were going and I went went with the flow, not thinking about what doing a race event, when I hadn't been training, might entail.

We drove down the night before. T set up everything, including a portable dinner for on-the-road feeding, so that I only had to wiggle my way out of work (5:10 "early"), grab my already packed bag, and jump into the truck. I always look forward to driving trips. They remind me of the years we spent driving out of town each weekend for camping and climbing trips. We'd pack the car with music, food, good books, and our coziest comforters. We'd drive away from the bright lights of the city and into skies that went on forever with an unbelievable number of stars and clean, crisp air. Even though I know that the drive down to the race is 3 hours of endless, gray highway, I still look forward to it. The feeling is that ingrained in me.

Race day morning, we headed to the White Sand Missile Range checkpoint/gate. Unfortunately, we ran a little late by somehow dropping our keys under the truck, and were unable to locate them in the dark. The gate at the base is notorious for bottle-necking the entire field of entrants, so our slightly late gate arrival at 6:25 am put us about 7 cars back in line, but about 40 minutes away from reaching the gate. By the time we reached the gate, we'd started grousing--only to have the security contractor find that our car registration was expired--and turn us back from the gate (T had moved recently, and his registration notice must not have been forwarded). This could have been grounds for more than "grousing" but as I had car-pooled in a vehicle the year before that did not have current car insurance (with the three "M's"), I was familiar with procedure and knew that we only had to park outside the gate, and ride in with all of our gear--which we did.

Somehow, there is a continuous disconnect between the private contractors hired to secure the gate, the current Threat Level ("alpha" in this case), and the race director and staff who are trying to get the race started on time. As was usual, a number of event participants don't make it through the gate on time, and the race director, caught between a military procedure that he has no control over, and expectant participants (many of whom had driven some distance), opted to start the race on time, and then allow the late arrivals a late start.

Due to gate delays, we barely made it to the 8:00 am start on time. Finding that I needed to hit the restroom just as they were calling the pre-race meeting, I ran to the nearest single stall toilet, which was occupied, and informed the occupant that the race meeting was being called--a gentle hint for her to galvanize herself and exit quickly, so that I could use the facilities myself-- a bit self-serving, but not outside the truth of the matter.

T's pre-race set up was occupied with creating a shoelace for the shoe that he brought that didn't have one. A key chain cord, plastic zip tie, and duct tape did the trick...

Even though the day was cold, and windy, I wore a sleeveless skinsuit. The wind, which had been gusting hard earlier that morning, dropped as soon as the sun rose and it was nice not to be wearing long sleeves. I actually wished the sun would go back behind the clouds.

The run was tough. Without training, a sprint race can really take it out of you. John L. passed me on mile 2 and was kind enough to say hello, then excuse me with a reminder that this is the off season. Thank you, John!--there's a reason for my huffing and puffing...

I did a lot of thinking during the start of the run, assessing myself, and mulling my options, and decided to run "for myself." I didn't want to focus on how others were doing, and decided not to look up to see where or even if my competition was present. I wanted to see how I would do compared to previous times and check on my early season fitness. I even fooled myself into thinking that I could just settle in, gauge my fitness, and enjoy the pre-season push.

Part way through the run, Eddie passed me. Eddie is significant as the partner of Mary, my Age Group Nemesis, so when I saw him, I knew SHE must be here, too. Thus, began the "I'm only racing for myself" vs. the "I need to go faster" internal dialog that pushed my untrained legs for the run and the bike. Still, I continued to opt not to "race," and pushed myself, but not too far.

The run was a relief to finish. Because I had missed the pre-race meeting, I thought is was a 5K, so the 7 K distance was unexpected and I lagged for the last mile.

The bike was WINDY through the first 20K, and the challenge was to continue to give my best without becoming demoralized. With 10K to go, my rear wheel felt slightly mushy, but I figured I was just imagining the loss of air. The tailwind for the next 5K was great, but the last section into the gate seemed the windiest and hardest of all. At the end of the race it turned out that I did have a flat, and, as T put it, he pulled out the "mother of all goatheads" from my rear tire.

When I hit the pool, I was tired, and concerned that I might panic, as I hadn't been in the water except for one session since August. I walked the transition, despite the encouragement of a fit looking finisher. When I reached the pool, I swam in a rather befuddled, tired, tentative way--looking so bad, that T said he didn't yell encouragement because he didn't want to overwhelm me. My fingers didn't thaw out until the third lap, and Cody swept by me in a tidal wave on about the fifth. When I finished I was happy to climb up the ladder, and into the waiting towel that T held out for me--but then noticed a bevy of people watching by the side of the pool--my Age Group Nemesis among them. Drat, yes, she had finished ahead of me, but then again, did it matter? I was happy just to be done, and to be there.

As I toweled dry, Age Group Nemesis came over to say hello (surely), but the first words out of her mouth were "Dale wants to know if you're 45," and thus, just like that, my warm fuzzy pre-season feeling disappeared, and the Age Group gauntlet for the 2008 season was laid down.

Age Group Nemesis, Dale and I finished 1-2-3. The unofficial results show that I was somewhat over one minute behind first place. Dale is the new-comer to the group, and if this race is an indication of things to come, I expect she'll add an element of spice. Judging from our finish times, if I choose to follow the challenge, this will be one heck of a triathlon season.

On a brighter (less competitive) note, I had a great lunch with Eddie and Age Group Nemesis, then headed over the to the year end award ceremony to collect my giant hand-painted and personalized Magnum of Champagne for being last year's Age Group champion. The best part of an already great day was seeing so many familiar faces and saying hello to so many people. Our series sponsor put on a great party with good eats. A HUGE thank you of appreciation goes out to all who made it happen.

To close the day, T slept all the way home, so he could return to his studies once we arrived, while I swigged diet caffeinated drinks and ate deep fried crunchy food to keep my sagging self awake. From such lofty heights to such nutritionally icky depths! Still, the caffeine did the trick, and 3 hours of grey highway somewhat sailed by.

BTW, T placed second in his Age Group, and collected a bottle of champagne also.

There's an awful lot of champagne in this house--

Now for some celebrating.....

Monday, December 10, 2007


5 cases of gels, for a discount plus free shipping.
What could be better than that?

I didn’t have to make an extra trip to the store—although a trip to the store might be good for me, as I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet.

The price per gel was less than at our local outlets—although I do feel guilty for not supporting local business.

And now I don’t have to worry about making that last minute run to the store when I find out that we’re out of gels on the eve of some important race next year--although the way Cranky "Shh, I'm Studying For Finals" Law Student Guy uses gels, we may run out before the year is through…

So, here’s how it goes: 24 gels per case yields 120 for the year. That’s 10 gels per month, divided by 2 mouths, for a grand total of 5 gels on average per household person, per month.

Now, here’s the rest of the story—Cranky "Shh, I'm Studying For Finals" Law Student Guy did 28 races last year—10 triathlons, including a half Ironman and full Ironman, and 18 bike races. I did 12 triathlons, including 2 half Ironman races, and 1 cycling time trial. The household total for 2007 is 41 race events. 120 gels spread over 41 race events is pretty thin.

And that doesn’t include training nutrition.

I'm thinking...

I probably should have ordered more gels.

Friday, December 7, 2007

'tis the Season

Kind of like
when you see early department store christmas decorations
you know triathlon season is
"just around the corner"
when 5 cases of gel arrive on your doorstep.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sometimes I Wonder


How early did the world of arts and letters touch my life?
I have a photo of me as an infant, with Henry Miller's personal assistant, a writer and artist in his own right, tickling my tummy with a delighted smile on his face.
Emil White.
A force of personality.
A man my sister and I have great and fond memories of.

And regrets,
at not seeing him towards the end of his life.
My sister thought he would not remember her, years later, when she was driving through Big Sur. But he did, and was disappointed that she did not stop to visit.
She had mentioned her early association with Emil to someone in the area, and word got back to him.
She told me this later, when I told her that I had not seen Michael McClure for the same reason, when he toured here several years ago.
Regrets and memories.
Another life and time.
I remember the feel of metal roller skates on the rough cement sidewalk in front of the McClures house on the hill.
The adults were inside on a weekend afternoon.
Down the hill, the local laundromat advertised 10 cent wash, 5 cent dry.
The Coppertone billboard with the little girl hung over the city.
Sometimes I imagine Jane and see that blonde, blonde, blonde head of hair, here comes the sun...
Sometimes I wonder.

I would like to go to the Henry Miller Museum, housed in Emil White’s home. My hope is to see the photo of a younger Emil, peering from the side of a woman’s hips, gleeful, mischievous eyes, black and white.
It was my favorite when we used to visit.
Somewhere I have a Henry Miller signed hard cover copy of Tropic of Cancer.
It’s somewhere,
and that’s where I think it will stay.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Literary License

In August of this year, I wrote a brief essay - summation - thought about the death, and life, of Michael Reardon. It was a piece of writing that came from the heart and poured out as a single piece of celebration and anguish. It was one of those pieces of writing that form themselves, with a minimum of contrivance, adjustment, or editing. It was a piece that started with a great introduction (kind of my signature), went a bit downhill from there, but still included a facile use of words, with attention to the juxtaposition of this with that to add poetry and prose to what was a painful wrench of a subject.

Sometime later, I received a copy of ROCK and ICE, a rock climbing magazine "built by climbers", which 1) addressed the death of Michael Reardon, and 2) offered a pair of climbing shoes to a letter selected as the lead-off for their letters section.

So, I sent them a copy of what I had written.

I was already a bit incensed that they had not featured a photo of Michael on the cover of this particular issue, and wanted to give them a lay persons perspective on this larger than life man.

As well as the fact that a free pair of rock shoes is nothing to sneeze at--especially for this household.

Then I forgot about it.

Until the January '08 issue arrived.


In my mailbox.

I turned to the letters section first, because it's one I like to read for the various input and feedback from the community.

A letter caught my eye.

Gee, this one sounds familiar.

Could it be that essay that I sent in? Naw--can't be--reads like just about some of the worst writing I've ever read--but still--Nope--I would never have said that--plus some of it doesn't pertain at all--Wait--WHAT?--that's my name printed at the end of it--OMG!!! --who the heck changed around what I wrote then attached my name to it?--It's so awful, they should have put their own name to it--better yet, they should have just burned their creation in some eternal fire somewhere--plus whoever added in all that awful English, also added some things that I didn't write and are strictly UNTRUE--

Does writing a letter to the editor allow for literary license? Falsehood? Extremely BAD writing (or extremely bad editing)??

After making a considerable amount of noise around the house,
disturbing my bear of a patient man,
re-reading the worst parts at the top of my lungs,
and re-living the embarrassment of having my name attached to the "thing,"
I am considering asking for a retraction.

Finally, distrust worms its way through my vocal outburst, and I wonder --what else is being changed by this magazine (in the interest of bad editing or self promotion)?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

T looking awfully relaxed the day after Thanksgiving...

Sisters...Giant Hachi photos from October Reunion weekend:
Looking over the top of the fence...

Playing with Bob...

Two smiles (sort of)...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving in NM with T and Ra

I started to write about Thanksgiving, but realized I couldn't really delve into the why's and wherefores.

So, instead, I just want to say that my sister flew in this past Tuesday and stayed through Saturday. She telecommutes, so she spent her first day working from the back area of Flying Star cafe until her 2 pm cut off time and then did some casual window shopping at Nob Hill. That evening we went to an actual movie theatre and saw Into the Wild, which was shot beautifully and much better than I thought it would be, but could really only be as good as the actual story iself (true tale that it is).

For the rest of her stay, T took a hiatus from studying and we tramped around for 3 days. We potlucked an "orphan" Thanksgiving dinner with a co-worker who lost everything in Katrina, her mother visiting from Biloxi, Mississippi, and a friend, also new to the area.

After watching a CRAZY movie, called "Crazy Love," we opened our curtains to a white world, as the first snow of the year fell, blanketing everything.

The next day we drove up to the Ojo Caliente hot springs for a few hours of soaking, had dinner at Rancho de Chimayo, and stopped in Santa Fe for an acrobatic circus a la (junior) Cirque du Soleil.

Ojo was nice, but I realized it really wasn't for me when my favorite part was the large, clear, cool temperatured pool that you could actually swim in. Sitting and soaking in murky, alkaloid, iron, and arsenic waters, with the possibility of bacterrhea (sic), didn't really appeal to me. The lithium spring tasted BAD, and Ra and I spit for a long time afterwards.

Rancho De Chimayo is cute, affordable, big on New Mexican atmosphere, and the food is good, but could use a little more seasoning /spice/chile to add panache the to the New Mexican mexican menu.

The circus started slow, but took off with fun and high flying acrobatics on trapeze, bicycles, curtains, and ropes. It was whimsical and athletic. Parts were absolutely astonishing. If you've seen Cirque du Soleil, than this is where those performers start out.

Our final day was spent breakfasting at The Grove, then scanning a lifetime of our childhood photos onto CD, so that Ra could take them back with her.

The trip was too short, too fast.

I've been lucky enough to see my sister this past August (Barb's race), October (high school reunion), and now in November. Plans are to meet up in January (southern California or Baja), but it never seems to be enough. As T says, we never stop talking. I think if we lived near each other, we'd have nothing but fun. Still, it's nice to show each other a different part of the world.

She's been a part of my whole life, except for the first year and 4 months. She is a remarkable, outspoken, smart, funny, and beautiful person, and I am truly lucky to have her in my life.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Snow Under a Full Moon

Holy Potato--(that’s Muffin’s eruditism that I’ve pirated as mine) –it is cold out there!

Mr. T – ostensibly attracted by the siren seduction of a possible cash prize, but secretly probably just jonesing for the novelty –raced cyclocross this evening.
That’s right—
As in night
After the sun goes down
And the light of day turns into the depths of night,
And the temperature turns itself upside down
And NO LIVING CREATURE should be stirring about.

The event was called the KHS Night Cross New Mexico.

It was held in Tijeras, a scenic little town that is at 6300’ ELEVATION (colder temps), inside a NARROW ROCKY CANYON (even colder temps), with SNOW on the ground (coldest temps of all).

Combine this with a recent cold front --28 degrees at 5:00 pm, plummeting to 16 degrees at 7:00 pm.

The race started at 6:20 pm.

Crazy-Crosser-Man-With-Gonads-Of-Pure-Ice drove out to the race before me so he would have time to “warm up.”

I got myself dressed, stepped outside, and immediately returned indoors to put on more clothes.

I layered doubley well. The whole kit and kaboodle. Wool socks, extra long underwear, sweater, fleece top and bottom, down jacket, gloves, hat, boots.

And I STILL FROZE everywhere.

The full moon, however, was not to be missed.
Nor the flat blackness of the rocks silhouetted high against the moon-lit black sky.
The crispness of the clean, still air.
The absence of light-pollution from the nearby city.
Trees lit only by moonlight.
The brightness of the snow.

Neither was the race, but I’ll let Crazy-Crosser-Man-With-Gonads-Of-Pure-Ice tell you about that.

It was amazing to see how much community support an atypical event like this could generate: 10,000 watts of flood lights donated by a local construction company, the venue donated by Los Vecinos Community Center, KHS New Mexico designed and implemented the course as well as provided a warm, heated tent, and a surprising number of spectators provided enthusiastic encouragement complete with cowbells and cameras. Cash prizes went 20 deep for the “A” race. Once the race was over, local cyclists donated plenty of hot eats: hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee, brownies, cookies and chile.

The first ten minutes of spectating were fun.

The rest was just hanging in there, while the pain of intense cold seeped into various body parts.

Still, just to be there,
Under a black sky,
Deep shadows among trees garnished with snow,
The bright light of a full moon
Set square between the tops of the canyon walls,

And to breath.

Monday, November 12, 2007


Southwest Challenge Triathlon & Duathlon Series Age Group Champion here.


At least I think I am.

I worked hard enough for it.

I even got into the water more than once a week.

Now, that’s a biggie.

I can’t seem to access the Southwest Challenge points page, so going on my (somewhat biased) recollection, here goes:

OVERALL FEMALE WIN (I’m proud of this one)(Plus I got shwag—or whatever you call it)
Stealth Duathlon (Fastest female bike!! –what I live for)

SECOND OVERALL FEMALE (Proud of these, too)
John Stermer Duathlon (Fastest female bike – yup, I’m livin’ large!!)
Sully Super Sprint A.K.A. Alpine Triathlon

AGE GROUP WINS (First, first, first among women my age!)
Stealth Duathlon
Alpine Triathlon
F1 Triathlon (swim-swim-bike-run-bike-run)
Cotton Country Triathlon

SECOND PLACE AGE GROUP (Drat—there really are people better than me…)
Polar Bear Triathlon
John Stermer Duathlon
Atomic Duathlon—the FAT BOY (l-o-o-o-g version) (pg. 2)
Gallup Triathlon (inaugural)
Bottomless Triathlon

MISC FINISHES (OK, I know, I know, I really do need to work harder…)
Mesilla Valley Track Club Triathlon – 4th AG
Jay Benson Triathlon—6th AG
Grady Williams Memorial Triathlon (Olympic) – 3rd AG

PLUS, TWO HALF IRONMAN RACES (travel, friends, and good fun endurance--love this stuff):
Ford 70.3 Half Ironman Honu—June 3rd, Hapuna Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
Barbs Race – August 4th, Guerneville, California (flat tire, 5th AG)


I've finally progressed past the 8-Day training program I used to use just prior to a race event in 2003, my year of Tri-Team Southwest training where I got left behind a lot in 2004, my very haphazard training program in 2005 (just do what feels good, and be grumpy when you don't get results), and my "off year" of next to no training in 2006 (try doing a Half Ironman off the couch...ooh, my knees...).

Along the way I shed a job that was taking Way, WAY, WAY too much of my time.

I had a great training year in 2007, bettered myself, and earned the trophy.

Looking forward to unknowns and betterment next year.

See y'all at the races.

Now-- Back to the off season





Sunday, November 11, 2007

Flying In From Dallas-Fort Worth, TX

Waiting for the airline to find my lost luggage.

So far it hasn't been "located."

It was a direct flight. We checked in an hour and a half early.
We had time to do all kinds of good airport things:
  • eat french fries
  • peruse entertainment/gossip/relationship magazines
  • discuss clothing
  • dissect our current relationships in good girlfriend fashion
  • tell old dating stories (now that was funny)
We were good airport people.

And BOTH of our bags got lost.

How in the world am I going to get around the house at night without my (Magoo) glasses?
Or my favorite pajama top?
My too cute Zoot capri workout leggings?
Or my all important electric toothbrush?

"24 hours" the website says.

Well, I hope so.

I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


At class tonight, I danced solo.

Not only that, but I had to improvise, AND "work the stage."

Imagine doing this to a Tahitian beat, when you've only participated 4 times, and at the back of the class, which consists mostly of 20-somethings, who have been dancing since they were small children, and who move really well, are more flexible and sway a whole lot better.

I on the other hand barely hang in, can't hear the count,
lose the "bump" over and over again, and have shadowed thoughts of joint damage.

Hip circles at high speed are hard.

Hip circles at high speed while traveling by yourself around the room with an audience that is LOOKing at you, is really hard.

The hula solo went a whole lot better, although I did get a little nervous, distracted by the eyes of the audience, and lost the movement by "thinking too hard."

Since I tend to panic in public, hyperventilate or get flushed at just the thought of speaking up in front of a group, this could have been a really stressful evening.

Instead I didn't panic, and only felt mildly foolish.

Mostly, I was surprised at just how comfortable I felt, and how, in this environment, there was no judgement of quality or performance.

Just a wide eyed expectation that you loved the dance as much as they.

In this cement floored garage, tinged with the stink of cigarette smoke, flanked by a vehicle in repair and shelves of miscellaneous storage boxes, Auntie R and Auntie T passing the culture to the next generation, appreciation of dance and movement, a family collective to make it better for all, no competition or rating scale, 'ohana and hula in a high-desert, land-locked state, truly blessed to be there, I found that I did.

My only real concern? I may get sick more often this cold season--I must get, and give, 10 hula-sister and hula-bro hugs every night I go to dance.

Photo #1: Tahitian dancers
Photo #2: Keiki (child) hula
Photo #3: Kahiko (ancient) hula
Photo #4: Auana (modern hula) grace at sunset

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Had So Much Fun...!

I went to my high school reunion, and found I was beautiful.

Also, optimistic, and highly enthusiastic.

I found I could walk into a room crowded with people I really didn't know, start up a conversation, and enjoy myself.

I had so much fun!

Well, to some extent.

There were those awkward moments.

The Kava champagne and white wine probably helped a bit in this regard.

Ohhh dear....

I hope I didn't have "too much fun."

Lately, though, I 've been walking on air.

The mean man at work barely even phased me.

I feel beautiful.

Inside and out!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wow! Kapow! People Are Great

So, here I am blogging in the company of my dedicated team member triathletes. Feel like a square peg in a round hole, but that’s me—I take the off-season OFF—and do everything else instead. Trust me-- it is nothing but fun.

First, I would like to congratulate each and every one who toed the starting line at SOMA. You did it. Trained, planned, sacrificed, focused, made adjustments to family, work, and mental status, dug down deep when you had to, groaned and moaned for that last ounce of commitment.
(Yes, you)

Congratulate yourselves.

As they say—everyone is invited to the dance.
The kicker is --not everyone makes that choice to get out there and do it.

Pirate: BUMMER and MORE! I am so sorry about the mechanical. I would have felt the same way, but not have acted with such grace. How absolutely and utterly frustrating, especially when it was beyond your control. Having the support of so many people who cared—now that is irreplaceable. Finishing a half? Yes, you can replace that one. Loved your post.

Hartley: Congratulations on your first half. I know that not finishing must have really been difficult. Taking care of an injury is priority, and you did right, by not pushing yourself beyond what your body was telling you. I know there will be other half’s. Even though you didn’t finish, I’m guessing you learned some valuable lessons that will only make the next one better. My first was an experiment, my second was a race!

GG: Kudos for listening to your true self and not bowing down to ego or perspectives outside of yourself. You probably avoided some real damage to yourself both physically and mentally. I think what you did was the strongest choice of all. You will get your heart again and that will be the best race of all. I know you know this. We’ve both been there when it all comes together. Now, that’s having FUN.

SWTrigal: Congratulations on the race of your triathlon career. Wow. Breaking your PR by 27 minutes. Finishing in the top third (give or take a hair) of your age group. GREAT bike time. I see Age Group accomplishments in your future. Go out and get ‘em—I know you can do it.

Mr. S. Baboo: Great PR time! Looks like a great race. Way to allay the demons of IMAz. Think a PR more than makes up for the upcoming loss of your Clydesdale status? Bet you do! Looking forward to the race report.

Now, as I said, I’m kind of a square peg in a round hole. Always have been. My time is complete with hula and Tahitian dance, rock climbing, reorganizing my body (working on healthy joints and tissue), reorganizing my mind (yup, need to grind it up now and then), reconnecting with old friends, supporting my forever T on his journey through law school (YES—HE POSTED!!!) living the life of a domestic diva to the extent that I am able, cooking (a lot) and, as always, figuring out “there” from “here.”

I don’t have a minute to spare.

Recently, and briefly, I did attend my 30-year high school reunion.

There was so much energy, I didn’t want it to end

It was poignant and fun.

Disconcerting and life affirming.

There were only a few people that I recognized outright—the rest had “changed” enough that I had to look at their nametags and ask questions.

I didn’t have enough time to meet and talk with everyone.

Unfortunately, I limited myself, by being too shy to approach those that I didn’t know at all, and intimidated by a few others.

Funny enough, I was snubbed by a few—but maybe they were too shy also (OK-- I really don’t believe that…)

I missed the picnic the next day and I’m sorry I did. My sister had house pipe plumbing problems, Hachi the giant dog had to be walked on a beautiful wooded hilly trail, and I hadn’t gone to bed until 4:30 am the night before—bad planning on my part.

I wish we all could do it again next year. Really.

This—coming from the one who didn’t “know” anybody, and who had a heck of a time in high school.

The best part of all? Reconnecting and connecting with some of the greatest people: Charlie and his wife Karrie, Lisa, and Karen Q—thank you for such a warm, funny evening—rescuing me over and over again…. Mike B. (Charlie’s friend), Christine, April, Tim A., Aneeta, Scott and Denise, Iana, Tori, Nicole V., Robt T from NJ, and the RN whose name escapes me, and everyone else I talked to. Gillie--you get honorable mention.

YES, I had fun.

Life IS fragile and brief.

Make the most of it.

WOW (kapow!),
people are great.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

High School Dress Anxiety Revisited

I love those mornings when you jump out of bed, and the sun is coming in through the windows at a slant, making the room light and white, the wooden floors are soft underfoot (not too cold yet, because winter is only just around the corner), the jungle of green that you have jumbled up everywhere (because you just took in the plants due to the impending winter just around the corner) looks healthy with sunlight interplaying through the leaves, and the radio (satellite) plays just about the best songs to jump and sing out to.

I love those mornings.

Of course, I hate the Bruce Cockburn remake. But it’s only a temporary set back. And then I get to jump and sing again.

The best part about this particular morning is that I finally figured out what I am going to wear to my high school reunion and I don’t have to go shopping. Since I haven’t bought anything dressy in about ten years, and still seem to have a lot of my ‘80’s wardrobe, I’m concerned about the large-flower print filmy almost mini -skirt, but think I can pull off retro chic with my “lean” (hee hee) tri legs ensheathed in sheerness of some sort and a fitted mature-yet-sexy (meaning “not too tight”) top.
Dress code?
Haven’t received one yet.
Anyway. I love those mornings.
Now I’m off for a run.

IMPORTANT UPDATE TO POST (in honor of the wishes of others…)

The patients I work with are more excited than I am about this reunion thing. I mean, they are really excited. “Have you gone shopping yet?” was the question of the day. Hour after hour I received advice.
“You have to be sexy.”
“Wear something tight with a push up bra.”
“You need a sparkly mini-dress.”
The ever present, “With a figure like yours….” Which was nice to hear, but I’m pretty much disguised at work—lots of loose PC clothing, that I almost get lost in. Someone twice my size could probably fit into what I wear. How could anyone know what I really look like?

Frannie, the mother of one of my patients, waved at me from across the gym, then heaved up her blue eye-shadowed, bouffant hair-do'd, 60 plus year old, non-active body to “dash” over to me. She looked so anxious, I was sure she wanted to talk about her daughter, who’s impending discharge, initiated by the insurance company, brings tears to her eyes. You have to go to “Ritzy Rags!” she tells me, breathless from her 30 foot maneuver across the gym. It's nice to see her smile with the conviction of having given me good advice.

I feel like I should get dressed up for them.
Tell them that I wore that sparkly mini-cocktail dress, walked in and wowed the whole room.
I’m not sure a filmy retro large-flower print skirt that must be 15 years old is what they’re envisioning for me.
I guess I have to go shopping.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

James Quinn: The Death of a Cyclist

This past weekend, Mr. T volunteered his time to drive support for the James Quinn Memorial Bicycle Ride. He packed up his truck with extra wheels, tubes, tools, and pump, and rode as sweep and mechanic at the tail end of the ride.

He fixed innumerable flats.
He saw bikes of every age, model, and level of decrepitude—from department store mountain bikes with rotten tires and fraying brake cables, to high-end road models that hummed up the hills.
He saw people of every ability, including the woman who looked as if she had never ridden a bike in her life trying to go up Tramway with her hands in the air (?), and the man who tried to go up Tramway by zig zagging across the yellow line in the center of the road—until he was told him that if he didn’t stop doing that he would be pulled from the ride for endangering himself and others.
Nob Hill Velo showed up, including their juniors, as well as Sports Outdoors, KHS, BikeABQ, UNM Cycling, and the New Mexico Velo Sport.
83-year-old Gus the Pig Farmer came out because his wife saw it in the newspaper and made him do it, pacemaker and all.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff Department sent 5 cars, and the Albuquerque Police Department sent 3. There was police escort front, side, and back—every which way you looked.
The ride attracted at least 200 cyclists.
All riding in tribute and in support. As a way to raise awareness, some in anger and protest, and as a way to show a recently widowed young woman and grieving family how much they cared.

James Quinn arrived in New Mexico less than 2 months ago. He came with Ashley, his wife of 15 months, to attend the UNM Law School. On September 15th, he was riding with his wife toward Tijeras on Old Route 66, when he was hit by car and killed. He died at the scene. He was 28 years old.

The outpouring of support on this recent Saturday morning was overwhelming. James Quinn’s wife, sister and mother were present. There is still a lot of anger and controversy over this most recent cycling death. And concern over the increasing number of bicycle deaths and injuries. The accident occurred on a straight stretch of highway that each of us has ridden innumerable times. It’s a reminder to please be careful.

My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of James Quinn.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Barkley "Hosts" Two of Our Own

Ok, so I've been gone for two days, and someone's been dipping their hand into the cookie jar--not once, not twice, but three times over. Pirate is fascinated. And funny! And, I can't blame her.

Meanwhile, after further reading and research, I stumbled across two of our own.

Two of our own New Mexicans, that is.

New Mexicans that run Ultra's.

Actually, I found a whole host of New Mexican's that run Ultra's.

Ultrarunner's with incredible accomplishments.

But it is these two who I want to mention.

Randy Isler is an acquaintance of ours from the rock gym, a quiet, whip-thin, dark complected man, who we see in the gym sporadically, probably when he's not running/training for an event--and when we happen to be in the climbing mode (which hasn't happened much in recent years due to our focus on triathlon).

Coincidentally enough, Bearded Cross Guy With Impact Tattoos and A Black Eye and I were in Arizona these past few days, on our first climbing trip in a year, when we came across Randy in the literature.


Yes, talk about coincidences.

He was mentioned in an essay by Blake Wood, who wrote the story about one of his years at the Barkley. He titled it: Going Nowhere Fast on Fatal Terrain at the 2000 Barkley Marathons.

Randy and his big white dog, Argus.

"I know Argus!" Says Bearded Cross Guy with Impact Tattoos and a Black Eye.

Unfortunately, Randy did not finish the Barkley that year due to a wrong turn and ending up miles off course.

He did go on to finish the Barkley "fun run" in 2001. Randy is an accomplished Ultrarunner. In 2006 he completed his 10th Hardrock 100 Endurance Run. The Hardrock is considered the pinnacle challenge of the 100 mile trail races (I don't think the Barkleys are included in this assessment) and advertises itself as a "post graduate" trail run that consists of 11 peaks over 12,000'. Imagine running over the Sandias 11 times, and then add a bit of elevation. People get pulmonary edema while doing this run. And, in 2006, Randy was one of only six people who had done it at least 10 times. Wow. (Actually, 3 of those 6 were from NM--are we crazy or what?)

Blake Wood is from NM also.

Blake Wood is a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 2001 he partnered up with David Horton to complete the Barkley for the second and third finishes ever. They both completed the race in 58:21, just under the cutoff time of 60 hours. Ultrarunning magazine called it the most significant achievement of that year.

Remember how the RD is a s*distic mother? After these two finished the Barkley together, he changed the rules so that each runner has to alternate direction on the loop course--so no one can team up like that again. But they did it at the time, and became the first American finishers, and one of them is from New Mexico. How cool is that?

I am very impressed with these two, both from our home state.

Next time I see Randy, I will know that underneath that mild mannered exterior lies an existential, tenacious, and competitive Superman.

And I will know that we New Mexicans are certifiably nuts!
(Ok, that comment is courtesy of T, who is sporting more impact tattoos than I want to think about--now, who's nuts here?!)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

You MIGHT convince me to try it...on second thought, "No!"

I stumbled upon the Barkley Marathons when I picked up a book on Ultramarathons. The essay I read started with the words:

"No American had ever finished the 100-mile Barkley Marathon.....I had been there eight times, and I wanted it bad."

This made me pause.
Did I read that right? No American?
The race was held in Tennessee. How could that be?

I re-read those opening words to make sure I was reading and comprehending correctly. And I was. A quick internet search became an extended visit to various blogs and web pages as I read about this unique event. Bit by bit, I pieced together what this race was about, and along the way I learned some intriguing facts:

  • The Barkley Marathon was conceived in the 1970's after James Earl Jones, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., escaped from the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee, ran for 55 hours, and was captured just 8 miles from the prison. A local ultramarathoner thought that this was pathetic, "I could have gone 100 miles in that amount of time," he thought, and ultimately came up with this course

  • The current incarnation of the event is a 100 mile course with a 60 hour cut off time. That's 36 minutes per mile. A pace of less than 2 miles per hour.

  • Only six runners have ever finished the 100-mile course since it's inception in 1986
  • The entry procedure is secret. You have to know someone who has run it before. Cost of entry has been listed as $1.60

  • 35 runners are accepted annually, based on an application that includes an essay, "Why I should be allowed to run the Barkley."
  • The race fills up quickly, in a matter of hours. In 2007 there was a 20 person waiting list.

  • People come back for a repeat--year after year after year.....
  • The race director appears to be a sadistic m*ther.

Below are links with photos and stories.

The slide show with narration and sound effects gives a nice feel for the race.

Enjoy in astonishment.

Now, admit it. Isn't there a small part of you that wants to give it a try?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Once Upon A Time, 30 years Ago...

I have been invited to my 30th year high school reunion. Mill Valley, California, 1977. Along with all the memories that this brings up, the heming and hawing about whether or not I am going to go, the reconnections I am making with friends from 30 years ago, and the ever present quesion, "what am I going to wear?", I also have been asked to do, what has turned out to be, a lot of mental prep work.

So, what have you been doing for the last 30 years?

That's one of the questions I have not responded to yet. It's a bit thought provoking, and I've been mulling it over in my mind. Not the nuts and bolts of the last 30 years. Those are immutable and in place. But I've been thinking about just what my actions and decisions of the last 30 years have created, and where they have brought me. This one is still an ongoing pondering.

However, there have been plenty of other mental exercises, including the questionaire below. It was fun to do. You might think about it. If not these questions, then definitely, the question listed above. I think you'll find it interesting.

1. How many biological kids do you have? None.
2. How many times have you been married? Not.
3. How long have you been married? See question #2
4. How long have you been single? As long as I have not been married.
5. Are you a grandparent? Are you kidding me?
6. How many U.S. states have you lived in? Three: CA, HI, and NM
7. How many countries have you lived in? I haven’t.
8. What City/Country are you coming from to attend the Reunion? Albuquerque, New Mexico.
9. What unusual occupation have you had? Does firefighter/helitack count?
10. Have you played any professional sports? Always amateur, but I did recently qualify for triathlon age group nationals.
11. Traveled any exotic destinations? Nothing too exotic. Japan, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and various U.S. states.
12. Served in the Armed Forces? Served time, yes. Stateside civilian while my boyfriend was in Iraq during the first year of the war.
13. Worked at sea? No, but I have gone to sea for pleasure with resulting seasickness (there was a storm in the Alaskan gulf).
14. Written anything published? A poem and a tribute/in memorium—both as letters to the editor—do these count? Oh yeah—20 plus science publications in refereed journals—have almost completely forgotten about those…
15. Fly an airplane? No, but I’ve driven a dump truck, ridden a motorcycle for pleasure, and almost convinced the captain to allow me to drive the fire truck—but my feet wouldn’t reach the pedals…
16. Invent anything of significance? My life. Really. But as an aside...I was part and parcel to elucidating pesticide resistance and the mechanisms of naturally occurring toxins with specificity of action and non-damaging environmental effects. Clear? OK—So, not an invention, but elucidation of a mechanism heretofore un-elucidated.
17. Successful Actor/Actress? No, but I did spend time onstage, holding a curtain prop for the Bread and Puppet theatre in the 60’s.
18. Oldest car you own? 16 years old, 1991 Honda Civic.
19. Car that you drive everyday? Same.
20. Greatest contribution to mankind? Fixing people, mitzvahs, and being a sister.
21. Own a hybrid car? No, just a recycled one, that gets 36-38 mpg (actually, over 40 mpg if I draft off of large trucks).
22. Do you play a musical instrument professionally? No. But I did play membranophone-djembe and sabar-nightclub gigs and parties, for about two years.
23. Record or write any music professionally? No, unfortunately, and fortunately, not.
24. Career in the church? No. Dad was supposed to be a Rabbi, though.
25. Career in the Outdoors? Not a career, but I did fund my college education by working maintenance on Mt. Tam weekends and summers (built and maintained those trails, fences, signs, and ranger abodes), and seasonal work as a firefighter based out of Lassen National Forest. (Being on those trails during the David Carpenter serial killings was beyond frightening)
26. Are you considered famous in the public eye? Hmmm-you got me stumped here.
27. Since High School, how many jobs have you had? Eight?
28. Longest time with one job? 11 years research, followed in length by 8 years self-employed licensed massage therapist, concurrent.
29. Have you lived in Mill Valley all your life? No, just stopped by for an interlude, 1971 to 1977.
30. Married to a 1977 classmate? No. Refer back to the ever-popular question #2

Go ahead and grab a pencil. It makes you think back and it's fun. Share it with a partner or a friend. You might learn something new. If not, you can at least share a laugh.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If you had gone to the Outlaw picnic, you would know that I wear rainbow-striped undies.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A Fun Sprint in Cotton Country (Oil Wells Included)

This entry is dedicated to Kenneth O’Connor, my partner in pace. Ken and I got to know each other long before we ever spoke or knew each other’s names. He was a presence at most of my early races, first running away from me, now running closer. I used to see his name in the results, just next to mine. I learned to look for those long legs, and try to keep up. Ken is 68. We race each other. I’m fortunate that through the years, we’ve continued at a similar pace. It gives me a familiar person to look for, and a smile and a talk after a race.

On Saturday, September 15, we both participated in the Cotton Country Sprint Triathlon in Levelland, TX. I had thought the race was in Loveland or Lovelland, but found out that it was really “Level” land—as in extremely level. No hills here. Just fields and fields of cotton (which I thought were rose bushes), a smattering of oil wells, and a big stinky smell, which I now attribute to the ethanol factory somewhere in the area, although I could be wrong.

The race was held on the South Plains College campus. Low brick buildings, green lawns, locker rooms about as old as the ones you remember in high school. One toilet hidden behind a curtain. The humidity was visible. The cloud cover and relative coolness a nice way to start a race.

Race start was 9:00 a.m. for the initial 3 mile run. I was happy with that, as we had driven 5 hours the previous evening, gotten the last room in our hotel (Best Western), and gone to bed at midnight. Turns out that Texas time is one hour later than our time, so we lost an hour on the drive. The start was divided up into two waves, men first, women two minutes later, to decrease the crowd in the swim pool for the last leg of the race. When the gun went off, some women went with the first group, and two turned back when they realized their error, but it was hard to know if there were other women in the large crowd of men.

“Right, left, right” were our run directions, and they were apt. Sharp turns around corners led us off campus and out onto a small two-lane road with fields on either side. The water station was less than a mile from the start, on a corner, that was easy to access on the way out, but hard to access for the lead men on the way back, due to the women still making their way from the later start. I was lucky enough to find a runner who was slightly faster than my pace, to pull me pretty much through the entire 3 mile run. I was trying to run hard, knowing there were 6 women in my age group, and that both Helen and Marti could swim faster than me. A good gap in the beginning might allow me to place ahead of them.

I gave thanks for the extra oxygen at a lower altitude.

I chuckled internally at the distraction of our race numbers, which noted we were running for the NCAAA national championships for Cleveland Athletics (now, where did they get these numbers?).

I just about choked on the petroleum product smell that wafted thickly in the air.

I saw the lead male, Bobby Gonzales, flying towards me, well ahead of any nearby competition.

I saw my Law-School-Guy-Who-Doesn’t-Have-Time-To-Train-Anymore, following him in 7th place.

I finished 10th female overall in the run, after sprinting to pass a woman just before the transition area.

My transition stunk. Because I’d sprinted just before the finish, I was now out of breath, and couldn’t move well. I was panting so hard I didn’t drink any water. I’m lucky I didn’t put on my aero helmet backwards.

The bike was a left turn out of the transition area, then “left, right, left” onto a two-lane highway. The headwind was deafening. Not to mention, mind numbing, and leg crushing. I always dump into a larger gear as soon as possible, but the head wind wouldn’t let me. It wouldn’t let me do anything, like make head way, pick up my speed, or feel good about myself. The rough road reduced forward momentum even further. Flip passed me with his usual large-geared, low-cadenced effort, but this time he was surprisingly silent, the usual roar of his disc blown away on the wind.

I saw Law-School-Guy-Who-Doesn’t-Have-Time-To-Train-Anymore had moved up to 5th place. Eventually, he hit T2 in 3rd place. Bobby was still out in front.

The turn around was one of the scariest, for me. There was no one around to stop or warn traffic, or warn the cyclists of cars coming up from behind. There were no orange cones or signs warning traffic of a bicycle race, or that bikes would be crossing the road. I turned to look back, but it’s hard to be 100 % sure at high effort, and the turn just flat out scared me. I’ve never done a high speed race turn around across a road without a grounded human to help me out. I didn’t like doing that.

The return on the bike was high speed and smooth. The reward for the outgoing head wind was the tailwind going back. The high speed made the sandy turns apprehensive. I almost caught up with Flip. I was fortunate enough to move up to 3rd place on the bike.

T2 was characterized by donning a swim cap with my sunglasses on.

The barefoot run to the pool was fine, but once inside the pool area, the slippery, puddled tile was a high-risk fall area. Law-School-Guy-Who-Doesn’t-Have-Time-To-Train-Anymore actually slipped, with a controlled lower to the floor—but it could easily have been worse. Does signing a liability waiver mitigate race director responsibility if someone takes a fall with injury? I almost tiptoed to the pool ladder, losing time but saving my skin, unaware that, at this point, I was looking at a top three podium finish.

The pool swim was a short 300 yards, 6 narrow 25-yard lanes, out and back in each lane. The pool was crowded. Somehow, a number of very large men turned out to be behind me, because they all passed me in the pool. It was a splash fest. Bobby and Law-School-Guy-Who-Doesn’t-Have-Time-To-Train-Anymore were watching from the side of the pool. “Wow,” said Bobby, “I’m glad I don’t have to swim in that.” Never thought about that, but that’s one of those first place perks I guess I’ll never get to know.

I was passed by one woman in the pool (amazing, since usually, it’s the whole field) for a 4th overall finish, but first in my Age Group, 1:15:04.

Law-School-Guy-Who-Doesn’t-Have-Time-To-Train-Anymore finished 4th overall, just 11 seconds out of a third overall podium finish, also first in his Age Group, 1:00:32

Bobby won the whole dang thing in 53-plus minutes. That's for a 5K mi run, 13mi bike, 300 yd swim.

Ken, my partner in pace, won his Age Group. He said he looked for me, but the wave starts separated us by too much.

We all took home miniature cotton bale awards, wrapped in blue, for first place.

All in all, a nice day, with the friendliest, nicest race staff and fellow triathletes. The petroleum smell would probably be the only reason for me not to return—and I’ll probably have forgotten it by next year.

Other Outlaws of the day included (but are not limited to): Helen (my competition, 4th AG), Stuart (6th AG), Carl (1st AG), and Brian (1st AG).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Bear of a Tale

My sister is backpacking in Yellowstone.
She went with her boyfriend, Bob, her very good and long time friend Anne from Oregon, and a gentleman from Montana. I think that’s the size of the group. She is going to be backpacking for 4 days, then spend two nights in a lodge. The backpacking is far, far, away from the lodge. They will have to drive “all the way around” to get from the trail to the lodge. It sounds pretty remote to me.

My sister called to tell me from Salt Lake City airport. “Oh yeah, last weekend we were in Yosemite. This week we’re going to Yellowstone.” She always seems to be on the go.

I asked her about bears.

Recently, bears have been in the news.

The ones in Yosemite have progressed from breaking neatly into cars (removing the weather stripping from around the edge of the car window), to breaking messily into houses. The bears have become fairly domesticated. They know where to find food, whether it’s hidden in a cooler or a refrigerator. Yosemite has a comprehensive program to reduce the interaction of bear and man, but the park has over 3 million visitors a year, and human food is highly attractive. This week alone, there have been 22 “bear incidents”. If you leave anything in a vehicle, it could attract a bear. If a Yosemite ranger sees an item in your car, they will wake you up anytime of night, have you remove the item, and fine you $5000.

These are Black bears, and generally weigh in the range of 300 pounds. However, the largest bear ever measured in Yosemite was 700 pounds. That’s a lot of bear.

The bears in Yellowstone are not so domesticated to human behavior. They are much more remote. “Elusive” as the park website describes them. Still, you do not want to stumble onto a bear. Black bears are more tolerant of humans, Grizzly bears less so. You do not want to get too close to a Grizzly.

In 1995, my sister and I were hiking down the wide expanse of a braided riverbed, in Denali National Park. Braided riverbeds are wide due to the meandering of the river, from year to year. The riverbed was crunchy gravel and silty sand, with occasional patches of pale, scrubby willow and brush. The sky was a wide expanse of washed out blue. Away to the left of us, some very nice men waved from the top of a remote cliff. They were tiny, and we could just see their arms moving.

They were pretty persistent wavers.

We kept hiking along, until it dawned on us, that maybe they weren’t waving just to say hello. We turned, hiked across the riverbed, and scrambled up a steep dirt embankment. At the top was a small construction site. Looking down into the riverbed, the men could see a Grizzly bear in front of us. We had been hiking straight towards the bear.

There was a dirt road that went along the embankment, paralleling the river, so we followed it, because we were pretty excited and wanted to get a closer look. We were pretty high up and could see down into the scrubby bush below. The bear was huge. A big, brown Grizzly. He was on the other side of the river—which at this point, was really just a narrow stream meandering through white, worn riverbed rocks. The bear was beautiful. You could see the power of his legs when he moved, walking from bush to bush, grazing on scrubby willow leaves. He didn’t pay any attention to us.

As we walked, the road started descending down hill. We were so excited, chattering to each other, that initially, we didn’t notice. Then the bear abruptly turned and crossed the stream, and we realized that we weren’t so high up, after all. Up until that moment, we had had this subconscious understanding that the stream, and the hill we were on, were some kind of demarcation of safety between us and the bear. The bear crossed the stream in what seemed to be two steps and started angling up the hill on the same side of the stream that we were on. Suddenly, we realized that we weren’t in a good place. We turned, and quickly made our way back up the road, fear now shadowing our thoughts, realizing that the natural world doesn’t subscribe to the same demarcations as man.

Now, my sister was calling to tell me she was going backpacking in another bear habitat.

When I asked her about bears, she said they had purchased bear spray.

The directions say that bears can run 40 miles an hour. Think about that.

When the bear is 40 feet away, you are supposed to give it a spray from the canister. If the bear keeps coming toward you, you are supposed to repeat this. If it continues to approach, you empty the can. Ha.

At 40 miles per hour, we figured you wouldn’t be taking the time to count your bear spray squirts.

We got off the phone, giggling.

Still, I’m worried about her.


Even though we found the bear spray to be hysterically funny, I promised myself I wouldn’t post about it, until she came back safe and sound.

My sister called from among a throng of people at Old Faithful to tell me she was out of the bush, and OK. Didn’t see a bear the whole trip, but had a great time. Hot springs, good food, great people, beautiful countryside. That’s the way it should be when I’m worrying about my sister. No bears.

(There was another time in Alaska when we were truly scared out of our skin. Caused by a large bird. But could have been a bear. We screamed so loud, lost in a moment of utter, complete panic, that I can’t imagine having the wherewithal to manage a can of bear spray.)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Visit From A Friend

Renee and her son Harry.
Visiting Albuquerque.
A foreign, beautiful voice.
An unexpected phone call.
A gathering.
I can't believe it. And yet it seems so natural. I haven't seen Renee in over ten years.

On Sunday, July 29th, I missed the phone and heard the machine: "Naomi, I hope this is you, this is Renee..." In that deep, musical, UNMISTAKABLE voice. Renee. From a time in Honolulu, when the world was music and dance, and there was a happening on every day. I used to talk to Renee daily. At work. On the phone. Dance classes and music on the weekends. Weeknights. Gatherings. People. Color. Clothing. Jewelry. Music. Food. We played downtown New Years Eve until just before the fireworks came on, performed for parties in strange, large beautiful houses, eventually were part of a fairly consistent nightclub gig. The multiple threads of a cloth, woven together, torn apart, weaving in and out of each other. So much was happening then. I think of Renee's penthouse apartment. Her sheer joy and enthusiasm for the open lanai, the ocean trade winds, rippling curtains, the sun, Hawaii, life on the Ala Wai canal.

Tonight, Renee and her son Harry are here. They are driving and flying, tripping around the United States. Washington, Oregon, Sedona, Santa Fe (where the hotels were full), Albuquerque (where we visited tonight), and Taos. Renee and Harry spent the day in Taos, drove a dirt highway, with two-house towns which they’d never seen before, cliffs dropping from the edge of the road down to the Rio Grande, boulders, Pueblo Indians, Indian bread, and hot springs. They arrive back in Albuquerque at 11:00 pm, Renee so tired that she can't think of going out to eat. I volunteer to bring food, but she isn't hungry now. So we settle on coffee and chocolate ice cream, which I pick up from a nearby Walmart at midnight and bring to the room. The hotel is a dump. The living room is dark, and the receptionist says that there is no one to fix the lights. The kitchenette has no utensils, dishes, napkins. It is bare. But we are good.

I can't believe I am seeing Renee walk down the hall towards me, but it also seems as if no time has passed. It's Renee, as beautiful as ever. Slender, white jeans, white decorated top, those signature braids. I meet her son Harry for the first time. He has a daughter who is no longer as small as she was when she visited Renee in Hawaii those years ago. He is lean, fit, braided to his mid-back, and in awe of, and enthusiastic about, the nature, country that he has seen. Renee and Harry have a bottle of wine. I bring coffee, chocolate ice cream, and home made oatmeal cookies. I'm glad I added extra cranberries and blueberries, but regret not having enough walnuts. We talk about their trip to Taos, their trip in general, the red rocks and colors of Sedona, Harry climbing a rock and sitting in a cave so high he was on eye level with a helicopter, the bad hotel (Best Western on Louisiana, which had them walk room to room, carrying their own linens to find and then move into a new room, when their original room was not workable), Hawaii, Harry's work as a fitness trainer and the fitness boot camps he runs in Georgia, a brief review of our recent working lives with Renee having climbed the corporate ladder via computer, her purchase of a five story Brownstone in Harlem in 2000, the crash of computer related work in 2003, my upcoming race and recent athleticism. Somewhere, around, 4:00 am, our conversation becomes vague and wanders off as fatigue hits all of us. I say goodbye, this brief interlude with these special people. Tomorrow, Renee flies to New York and Harry flies to Georgia.

Feed your heart, says Harry. Find what you can do that feeds your heart.
Harry tells me he'd like to be less urban. The image of the single house, in the middle of nowhere, somewhere outside of Taos, on some obscure dirt road, has not left him.

Out of a dark Albuquerque night, in a dark shabby hotel, with these bright, beautiful people.

Feed your heart.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Living My Life As Beautiful

I went for a swim today, and left feeling pretty darn good about myself.

  • I had gone swimming despite trying to talk myself out of it over the entire course of driving from work to the pool
  • I had gone to the weight gym and was happy to note that I had progressed from spindly I-can’t-lift-this arms to doing 15 pound dumb bell bicep curls (yes, the miniature Hulkette in the re-making—ask Mr. T what he thought when he first saw me in a sleeveless feminine dress, during my rock climbing years, eight years ago)
  • I had stretched really well—probably the first time this whole season, so I was patting myself on the back
  • I performed my mitzvah of the day, an unasked for kindness to another individual—who was grateful enough to thank me several times.
  • I had stepped out of my trying-to-hide-behind-the-scenery self, and was wearing a cute outfit—and I felt it, too
  • Some guy named “Biff” thought it was cute, too, and actually tried to pursue me in what was an initially flattering, but became annoying, kind of way (OK—he only looked like he was named Biff. I think his real name was Ben).
  • Due to the fact that I was not in the competition/training mode, I didn’t have that feeling of short-changing a workout (by not going hard enough, or long enough, or skipping an interval)—and that hadn’t happened for a long time (like the whole training season).

All these factors combined to form this inner feeling that just seemed to radiate all the way through to the outside.

I was feeling so good, that I probably let my guard down.
Because, suddenly, it popped into my head how sad it was that I would never know myself as beautiful.

Now, that’s an interesting thought.
Because, in many ways, it’s very true. Not just for me, but for many, if not most, of the female gender. At least in this country, which is the only country/culture I am at least somewhat familiar with.

When I was young, in my pre-teen and teenage years, I had an inner, almost unknown longing to be blonde and willowy (note “miniature Hulkette” reference above”). I went to a primarily Caucasian high school. Fashion advertising in the 1970s mostly used Caucasian models. Those were the days before “ethnic” models. Sometimes, I find it hard to believe that there was a time, when my look, a mixed Eurasian blend, was undesirable in the public arena—and that this undesirability was generally accepted. Blonde and thin was in—and I was imprinted with this model of beauty, and found myself lacking, without being aware of it.

There are other reasons that I’ve never found myself beautiful. Growing up without much in an overly abundant world has certainly contributed. Being called “fat” and “ugly” during my growing years didn’t help. “Frog eyes” was another one—which reflected my “not normal” eye shape, and made me acutely aware of those Japanese women who had surgery (blepharoplasty) to make their eyes look more “Western”.

But, I think there’s another part to this that is shared by a large number of women in America. And, that is, we are immersed in a cultural standard that doesn’t accept women (and, possibly, men, now) for their real, natural, honest-to-goodness beauty, and instead models an almost impossible perfection, that reflects weight, height, proportion, and color standards.

I have somewhat outgrown those currents of my youth, but I still don’t think I am beautiful.

Can you imagine going through your whole life, not living up to SOMEONE ELSE'S standard of beauty? I think that’s how most of us live our lives. It certainly is how I have lived mine. It really is sad, not to know oneself as beautiful—especially, when all of us really are. If I can live my life, with the feeling that I had as I left the pool / gym, then I will be living my life as beautiful. As for knowing myself as beautiful, well, that will still be some time coming.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A challenging Record

Today’s entry is dedicated to Bones MacKenzie, who, after years of fielding my avoidance, finally got me to ride his disc wheel.

This morning, for some reason that is beyond me, I got up at 5:30 a.m. to participate in the Paula Higgins Memorial Record Challenge USCF District Championship Time Trial in Moriarity, New Mexico.

Of course, I dusted off my neon yellow and purple corporate logo’d jersey that I wear once a year to pretend that I’m cool.
Mr. T, however, was even cooler—wearing an HIC rash guard that is almost as old as he is (it was given to me as secondhand-used in 1987 to promote my fledgling pursuit as a surfer—you can imagine it as pretty aerodynamic on Mr. T).

I drank coffee.
I even stretched.

After that, I didn’t give my race or race strategy another thought.
Kind of the way, that I hadn’t given it a thought all year, until Mr. T surprised me by telling me we had a competition this weekend.
I thought I was done with competing after I had done Barb’s women’s-only half-Ironman distance race on August 4th.
I actually had hoped I was done, after I completed the Honu half-Ironman race on June 3.
I had gamely made the best of the F-1 whatever-distance race on August 26.
Aren’t I done yet?

As with all good triathletes, I haven’t been training much. Although, this year, it’s true. After the Honu, I became subtly ill.
For five weeks.
It lasted so long, it scared me.
I was only able to complete Barb’s Race because,
1) I had a good base from doing the Honu in June, and
2) I stopped training long enough for my body to finally get better.
Five weeks of being ill.
Two weeks of no training.
Then Barb’s.

Now, I get to try to set a National Record.

Last year I was Age-Group 45-49 State Champion, merely by dint of being the only one in my age group.
This year there were over one hundred starters.

The pretty paper certificate I received shows that I rode 40k (24.854848 miles) in a time of 1:08:04.21
That’s something like 21.9 miles per hour.
I am mightily disappointed. So much so, that I can’t even enjoy the fact that I beat last years time of 1:12:24.17 by 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
Now, that’s bad.
Secretly, I was hoping to go under 1:06:00
OK—not really--that’s just a number I arbitrarily chose, about five miles into the time trial, when I was supposed to be cycling my heart out, but my mind was focusing on everything but the ride and I was feeling like “when is this going to be over,” and “I can’t believe I put myself into this situation again,” and “It sure would feel better if I would just stop right now.”
Really, I wanted to break one hour.
At my age and ability, that will never happen.
My Greatest Admirer thinks that of course it can.
Nothing like a little pressure.

I do hope to be like Martha Hanson, who at 85-plus, truly is in the record books.

She was there today, in a national champion stars and stripes jersey, spare and spry, setting another national record.
The second national record was set in the 70 plus age group.
I, on the other hand, was beat handily by over 7 minutes by the first place finisher in my age group--a woman who I have never seen before (that’s the usual way, isn’t it—work your behind off to beat the local competition, and then someone new shows up…), and who, at the speed she rides, I will probably never see again.
She is about 4 feet taller than me, so I figure she has an advantage (us little people can do that you know—find ways to make our littleness a handicap AND advantageous).
Maybe, when I am 85, I will be truly pleased with my accomplishments.
On the other hand, maybe Martha Hanson wanted to do better also.
I bet she has a pretty competitive streak.

The long and the short of it all is that, next year, I should probably train for the darn thing. Then I truly will have a valid reason for being disappointed.