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)?