Monthly Archives: February 2009

2/26/09 Potato Chips

Thursday.  Had to take a day of rest today.  I’ve been dashing around so much since I got back from Idaho that I just needed a day to get my regular life in order and get 8 hours of sleep.  So other than walking around town for my errands, today I did very little.  A little spin, nothing great.

Tuesday I did make it to the gym for a swim, some core and a sauna.  I drills for 45 minutes really trying to get aligned.  Alignment is my new focus…

Yesterday I had a great workout with Rhonda.  I really felt I worked hard and my shoulders are getting stronger.  I also noted that had I not been doing the balance stuff with Rhonda I would have twisted my ankle in the snow out in Idaho.  I really feel that balancing stuff is key to fending off an injury for me.  My ankles are so small and trying to support this big person, I feel bad for them, I really do.  Then I met up with my friend Karin for a nice walk along the promenade in Brooklyn, we had a nice time and took some pics wandering around the other side of the bridges.

Today I went off to visit the chiropractor.  My first time.  I think it went okay.  He’s going to help me get rid of my limp.

Basically he showed me that it all starts in my lower back (which doesn’t hurt.)  The muscles are tight and they start to pull and cause this extended curve in my lower back (which I can see).  (Usually caused by a weak core — shocker!)   That tightness is causing the back muscles to pull  on my psoas (the muscles which wraps around my hip.)  The pulled psoas is then pulling one hip down and back (and therefore the right one looks like it is up and forward.)  End result is is looks like my left leg is shorter and trying to dip down to reach the ground when in reality its just my hips are rotated and not starting out even.  Whew…. long explanation.  But when he showed me on the skeleton I got it.

So he assures me that NOTHING we will be doing will cause anything radical to happen, so I’m not going to be having some major change in my structure  before going into the desert.  It’s more like a deep massage to loosen up my muscles and some gentle pushing on my back and hips.  It didn’t hurt.  eventually he says I will find myself running easier (and in alignment) which will prevent damage to my spine and bones. Sounded good to me.  I felt fine afterwards — nothing crazy.

Of course all week I’ve been distracted by a discussion I had with Lisa out in Idaho.  While discussing my food and calories for the race with Lisa she gave me an option which I am so excited about I’m embarrassed.   I get to bring a bag of potato chips with me for each day in the desert!  Not a little bag of potato chips, a huge bag of potato chips.  Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a desert person.  Chocolate cake, pie, cookies — eh I can take ’em or leave them.  My downfall is fried potatoes in any way, shape or form.

Potato chips, french fries, home fries, baked potatoes, twice baked, hashed, mashed.  You name it, I love my taters.  Crispy fried with salt?  Shut up.  I can’t even talk about it….  So my answer to my adoration of the sacred spud is to just say no.  I am the original Lays girl.  I can’t eat just one potato chip so I choose to eat none.   I don’t know what it is but I love the carbs, the fat and the salt.    In WW we call that a red light food for me.  I’ll stare at a piece of cheesecake until the cows come home but a potato chip will not last long in my line of sight.

So when I found out that I can bring a bag of crushed potato chips to the desert I was so excited.  (Apparently you eat them with a spoon.)  The chips crush down into a very small pack and they are a kabillion calories (yeah, I knew that!)  All week long I’ve been dancing around singing “I’m going to the desert, I’m going to get potato chips.”  Who knew that all someone had to do to get me excited about running in the desert was to tell me that at the end of the day I get a guilt-free, jumbo-sized bag of my kettle chips?  150 miles?  Is that all? Are you sure?  Cause really, I’d be willing to go for two weeks now, let’s make it 300….   I’m pathetic.  I’m so embarrassed at this blatant adoration of a spud.  Throw in a glass of red wine and I’m gone.  4 weeks to potato chips!!!

Namaste

This reminds me of the cartoon of Lucy and Linus when they come across a potato chip on the sidewalk.

Lucy: Well, look here. A big yellow butterfly. It’s unusual to see one of those at THIS time of year, unless of course, it flew up from Brazil. I’ll bet that’s it. They DO that sometimes, you know. They fly up from Brazil.
Linus: That’s no butterfly! That’s a potato chip.
Lucy: Well, I’ll be. I wonder how a potato chip got all the way down here from Brazil!

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2/23/09 Over the Teton Pass

Monday.  At the airport heading back to NYC from Idaho.  Had a really lovely weekend with Colleen — great to have some time to really catch up.  Nothing like 5 and 6 hour workouts to pass the time!

On Saturday we headed out to Darby Canyon with our backpacks.  We found a magic trail that somehow managed to be uphill both ways!!  We kept saying “I don’t remember this as a downhill on the way out do you?  ‘Cause this is a long climb!”  We ran into the couple we had dinner with the previous evening.  Laurie is recovering from the Sustina 100 and was bouncing along the trail like it was nothing.  I’m huffing and puffing trying to keep up with Colleen stopping every so often to exclaim “I think I’m breathing, I feel the air going into my lungs but I’m not getting any oxygen.”  We stopped along the Fox river (which strangely doesn’t freeze over) and snapped a few shots.  I explained these are not really workouts, they are photo-ops.

C&C on Fox River Trail in Darby Canyon

C&C on Fox River Trail in Darby Canyon

 

The trail itself was groomed enough for us to wear our running shoes.  I had on some ground grippers (like yaktrax) to get some traction.  The first 4 hours went by relatively painlessly — I can’t say the word easy, we were definitely working hard with Colleen waiting for me every so often to catch up.  But the fifth and sixth hours were really hard.  We looped back to go back out on the trail again to make our time.  What was a hill the first time out was now a mountain.  Time was standing still.  Every five minutes felt like an hour.  The snow that was only slightly annoying before now felt like we were slogging through mashed pototoes (not my phrase — stole that from Laurie describing the Sustina 100.)  Slog, slog, slog finally finished our 6 hours with 18+ pounds on our backs.  (Lisa later estimated them to be much heavier than 18 pounds.)

A night of rest and then on Sunday we were to meet Lisa (my coach for MDS) for a workout.  Of course I was nervous my first time working out with Lisa and knowing that my legs were already taxed after our 2 1/2 hour snow shoe on Friday and our 6 hour trail rike on Saturday.   At first Lisa was going to take us on a snowshoe hike to mud lake but then decided it would be more “fun” to hike over the Teton pass.

I had driven over the Teton pass on my way to Driggs.  The rental car I had had a hard time chugging up over the pass so I was pretty sure it was going to be tough for me to.  But we headed out loaded with our backpacks and started climbing.  And climbing.  Then we had to go downhill which was almost worse for me.  I ran when I could but Lisa cautioned that if we ran all the way down our legs would be shot so we snaked back and forth down the steep and walked too.

Then we had to climb, climb, climb, climb, climb up to the top.  It was hard no doubt.  Lisa said it was like being on a never ending treadmill workout.  The inclines over the pass are 10% which is not as bad as say The Beast in St. Croix but when it goes on and on for miles your legs really start to feel it.  We crested the pass and headed halfway down to the town of Wilson and turned around and had to climb back up and up and up.  My legs were really starting to burn — my butt was hurting, my shoulders were hurting and my calves were cramping. Finally we made it back 5 hours in total with 18 pounds+ in our backpacks.  Yeah us!!

My impression of Driggs is that it is a town that it is really easy to feel at home in immediately.  For the sports minded it is Mecca.   It’s beautiful yet rugged.  Every sport you could want to do is available and people live outdoors all year round.  I can see why people would want to live there but I had to admit, I miss my NYC and happy to be heading home.  I think the best things about Idaho is that I know I’ll go back — much to explore but I’ll also go explore more of the Western United States.  We live in a beautiful country.

Namaste

Me and Lisa at the top of the Teton Pass

Me and Lisa at the top of the Teton Pass

 

We hiked along the road.  Not very much traffic but lots of curves and great views!!

We hiked along the road. Not very much traffic but lots of curves and great views!!

 

looking down from the Teton pass

looking down from the Teton pass

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2/21/09 Snow Deep

Saturday.  Was dismayed to find on Wednesday that I was coming down with a cold.  I thought I had made it through the entire season without a sniffle.  Watching people on my team and in my non-sporting life battle colds, flu and pneumonia for weeks on end I was worried that I was going to get seriously sick at at what I consider a key time in my training.  I started taking Zicam and every vitamin under the sun. 

On Thursday I was to fly to Idaho to visit my friend Colleen who is also doing MDS.  I was really worried that flying was going to make my cold worse.  Popped some Musinex and Tylenol cold and made it throught the flight.  Arrived in Idaho and muffled a little snicker that the very first person I saw in the airport after getting off the plane was wearing a cowboy hat.  You are not on 43rd street anymore Dora.

I had to drive over the Teton pass to get to Driggs where my friend lives.  The Teton mountains are aptly named The Grand Teton Mountains.  Made me realize how small Mohonk and  the little hills I call mountains in CT really are.  I think there should be some size factors in what you call a Mountain.  If you can hike to  the summit in less than 6 hours, let’s call it something else.  These mountains are MOUNTAINS.  The kind that make you feel picayune and ant-like.

I did a little shopping in the Dreamchasers office and got some more supplies for my trip.  I got my Petzl tikka XP as my headlamp.  It’s a couple of ounces heavier than the tikka plus I was going to get but it gives me a brighter beam and I will be able to see better in the dark.  I think I feel a little better now knowing I’ll actually be able to see what is under my feet in the desert.  I also got my Brunton compass that I’ll be using for the trip.  I stared at it for a few minutes and tossed it into my bag.  Got some little travel size stuff like sunscreen and I think I’m just about done with actual equipment buying now just have to organize everything into the bags.

Yesterday Colleen and I went for a snowshoeing workout or as I like to call it a photoshoot.   We had a little disagreement as to whether we call this Colleen coming along on one of my little adventures or I was going along on one of hers.  We had a nice time either way.  We took our snowshoes up to the Grand Targhee ski resort and did a 5k course to get our legs moving.  I was having a little challenge in keeping up but Colleen waited for me.  It was deeper snow that I am used to and I fell a couple of times running downhill — it was really soft snow so no harm done.   I was breathing very deeply and aware that although air was getting all the way down into my stomach oxygen was not registering.  Colleen said we were at 8,000 feet so I would probably have a little difficulty breathing.  I thought my cold was doing rather well so I was pleased with that.

We met up with some of Colleen’s friends for dinner.  One gal had done MDS last year and this year just finished the Sustina in Alaska where she RAN 100 miles through the Alaskan wilderness pulling a sled behind her.  NONSTOP!!  Took her 41 hours going through remote forests and over rivers.  Less than 30 people running, the other options were BIKING (???) or skiing across the terrain.  It sounds absolutely nuts and I can’t imagine anyone doing anything that insane.  No sleeping either — ran right through.  Hallucinations and everything.  (Okay, i’ll admit for a second I thought it sounded kinda badass and cool but shook it off — I have my lunar walk to concentrate on after MDS.) 

It was great to talk to another woman who had finished MDS. She was giving us some great tips and advice on some of the more practical feminine issues that we will confront in the desert.  These are the things that we don’t get to discuss as openly with our male counterparts and she had a couple of good tips from her mountaineering days for in the desert (I didn’t even think of bringing panty liners, that was a brilliant tip!).  I think she was spot on when she said that mountaineering experience comes in more handy than actual racing experience in an event like MDS.  Of course I have never even slept in a sleeping bag so what do I know?

Today we are off to explore some canyon, we are going to check out a few options so not sure exactly where yet.  We have a daunting task of 7 hours on our feet.   Colleen was a genius yesterday when I needed stuff to pack my backpack with.  I was about 10 pounds short of the 16 I was to carry.  She gave me two 5 lb bags of flour!!  I rolled them up in my shirts and we are good to go.  The nice thing about carrying a backpack is there is no worries about carrying enough supplies for 7 hours… Eventually I’ll be carrying enough for 7 days!!!

Namaste

Some pics of Colleen and Connie’s Snowshoeing Day

Colleen getting ready to rumble on our snowshoe adventure!

Colleen getting ready to rumble on our snowshoe adventure!

 

Classic Cheesey Grin

Classic Cheesey Grin

 

Off our path to see how deep the snow was.

Off our path to see how deep the snow was.

 

My favorite shot. Colleen thinks its too corny.  I'm Corny!!

My favorite shot. Colleen thinks its too corny. I'm Corny!!

 

Colleen doing Yoga on snowshoes.

Colleen doing Yoga on snowshoes.

 

C&C with dog

C&C with dog

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2/17/09 When Going Through Hell…

Tuesday.  During my first Ironman training camp in Lake Placid Memorial Day camp 2007, I had one of those moments that has stuck in my memory.  I was with my team riding my bike back from Wilmington in a section I have personally dubbed “the walls of china – little wall and great wall.”  But in layman’s terms it merely means I was riding up a long ascent.  There was a terribly harsh headwind that afternoon and although I was working very hard I seemed to be standing still.  At one point I looked down at my speed and it said 5 mph.  I remember thinking I could run faster than I was biking.

I was by no means considered one of the faster cyclists on the team — in fact I was one of if not the slowest.  But of MY three sports (swim, bike, run) biking was/is my personal favorite and best.  It doesn’t mean that I’m great at it, it just means that of what I do I feel the most confident when I am cycling….  So it the  first time out there on the Ironman course  battling the wind and grinding away up a long climb was a real confidence knocker.  I was not just struggling, I was failing or perceived myself to be failing.

I could scream “it’s all relative” at the top of my voice to every athlete I train with but it wouldn’t matter.  We are all doomed to compare ourselves to one another.  That’s just how we work.  I don’t think it is just athletes either.  We compare ourselves to co-workers, neighbors and even advertisements.  It is a dangerous habit and an easy one to adopt.

That day at camp I was the last person on the team to make it into camp.   I fought to keep my lower lip from shaking.  I felt humbled and not confident at all — forget Ironman I just wanted to live through that weekend!  That’s when coach Earl said something that to this day I recall almost on a weekly basis.  “Maybe you found yourself struggling against the wind and the hills and found yourself going 5 miles per hour.  Instead of getting down on yourself, acknowledge that this is what it feels like to battle a headwind going uphill at 5 mph.  No judgment.  Just make note of it.  This is what it feels like.  And then later, you’ll go 40 mph downhill and note, this is what it feels like to go 40 mph with the wind at my back.”

I was immediately relieved because he said 5 mph.  I thought, oh maybe I wasn’t such a loser because I was only going 5 mph.  (Judgment!)   Of course I know the number didn’t matter — I have learned over and over again, numbers are relative and usually distant ones at that.  What really mattered was the revolutionary concept of not judging and to merely observe.  This is was radical thinking to me.  (Of course it is what they talk about in mediation all the time — observe your thoughts, don’t judge them.  Watch them come and go.)

I’m well aware that I am my own worst critic but I would be far worse than I am now without that day, countless meditation sessions and Weight Watchers.   I’ve gone through enough now to realize that there are moments when I feel like a million bucks.  This is what it feels like to ride really fast and pass that annoying person and leave him in the dust.  This is what it feels like to be in control and track every point.  This is what it feels like to kick it in the last mile and feel powerful.  But I also know what it feels like to pull and pull that water and find the shore is not getting any closer.  This is what it feels like to run, run, run up this hill and I feel like I am falling backwards.  This is what it feels like to succumb to temptation and eat an entire bag of potato chips.  These are moments that I can recall and remember what it felt like, but I remember them now as observations not judgments.

Of course we want to remember the good moments more than the bad but to start acknowledging that the bad moments are part of the process is really a very powerful step in the journey of self-discovery.  In some ways the bad moments are what make the memories rich.  I find I can use this same technique in my every day life.  No judgment, or as we say in WW all the time “Feedback not Failure.”  I am not a compulsive over-eater,  I overate at that meal.  I am not my actions.  I am not a slow rider, today I am riding this hill at 5 mph.  I am not a slow runner, today I am running a 12 minute mile, tomorrow I may run faster or slower but it does not change who I am.  (The me who is I or the I who is me?)

Difficult times abound for most of us.  Working until midnight at a new job.  Dealing with a sick friend or family member or sudden illness.  Hearing for the first time there is something suspicious on a medical report.  Perhaps you are sidelined with an injury or without a job for the first time in 20 years.  These are all hard moments to endure if you allow yourself to be swallowed up in the moment and judgment.  As soon as you hear “ould” take a step back.  Should, Would, Could are all the judging words.   Taking one step back and instead of judging acknowledging that this is how it feels to….  can be liberating.  “Stop Shoulding all over yourself.”

Lately I’ve been imagining a new Mom with babies screaming for her attention.  Diapers are dirty, sleep is deprived, shopping to be done, bottles to be washed and all the exhaustion is building up.   I can imagine that all of a sudden she cries to herself  “Where is the beauty of motherhood?  I SHOULD be happy and this just sucks!  I had a career and I was good and now look at me!!!  This is not who I thought I was!  I COULD do better!  If only I WOULD be better.  There must be something wrong with me!  I don’t know who I am!  Why am I not better at this?!?!”

Motherhood is like that headwind in Lake Placid.   This is what it feels like to be a mother.  This is what it feels like to be a tired and exhausted mother.  We don’t live in a Gerber advertisement.  All of her moments are not the same.  Experience each one without judgment because one day that Mother will look back on it and believe it or not may actually miss the struggle in a weird, sick, obsessively compulsive way.    To sit back for a moment, see it for what it is and to see that her own reaction to it is just a reaction and not who she is.   Ah, she realizes, THIS is what it feels like to be a new mother.  THIS is what I feel –it doesn’t have to be what anyone else feels.   There is a lot about this that is hard and challenging.

As one of my teammates used to say to me “Embrace the Suck!”

Namaste

If you're going through Hell, keep going.

If you're going through Hell, keep going...

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2/16/09 3 Bridges

Monday.  I find it somewhat humorous that I am beginning to feel like 8, 9 and 10 hour workout weekends are the norm and there is no bike involved.  I actually don’t feel too bad this morning after 4 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday.

My backpack is up to 16 pounds right now.  Not an ounce more, not an ounce less.  I stepped on the scale, recorded my weight then stepped on again holding my backpack in my arms.  I kept adding stuff to it until it weighed 16 pounds.  This is going to be interesting because I was throwing everything I had in there and I still had to throw some weights on top to make it 16.  I’m hoping that will bode well as I start replacing weights with real stuff.  I have to up it to 18 pounds next, not looking forward to that.

Thursday night I did interval repeats on the oval with my backpack.  Basically I wear my backpack for all my running now.   I have to say it was really hard to run fast with that thing on my back.  It didn’t hurt, per se, I was just aware of how little air I was getting in.  By the 4 billionth interval I wasn’t even aware I had the backpack on.  I was just sucking wind trying to run as fast as I could then rest in between.  It was a short but serious workout.

Friday I actually made it to Yoga.  Shut up!!  I know!!  Call the NY Times.  I made it to yoga and I did everything and I didn’t leave crying.  Everything hurt and I paid a huge penalty for not doing the pigeon pose every day but I did it.  I got back to class.  I made it through.

I even got into the pool on Friday.  Shut up!!!  I know!!  Yoga and Swim?  Yes, even I am a little scared of me.  I did about 30 minutes, just practicing my strokes and really trying to rotate and kick each leg.   After swim, I got in the Jacuzzi and stretched some more and then I hit the sauna.

This time I brought a magazine with me to the sauna because I didn’t last very long last time before I went crazy.  I lasted 15 minutes reading.  I actually could have stuck it out longer but I was trying to get to my WW meeting.  Before I left I checked the temp.  Just shy of 180 in there.  Okay I wasn’t dead, it’s survivable.

Or so I thought.  I got back up to my apartment and I was wiped out.  I really felt anemic.  I just couldn’t bring myself to get to my meeting.  I was zonked.  I opted to go to work instead which is a sure sign that I am not feeling well….

Saturday was a 4 hour workout.  I say workout because to call it a 4 hour run would not be fair.  I run a little, walk a little, skip a little…  If I had to guess I would say 60/40 run/walk.  I try to run as much as I can but if I feel any pain, I walk (knock on wood my knees have been pretty good all things considered).  If I start sucking wind on the uphills I start to walk (though I had a mysterious surge on the Manhattan Bridge on Sunday).  The last 1/2 hour I just walked.  Downhills are usually running unless they are steep then they hurt more than uphills.  On the flats I just keep reminding myself to try to run as much as I can.  It’s a mish mosh.  Stay out there, keep moving, keep trying.  I keep pretending that I am trying to get to the next check point — just figure out someway to get there — constant forward motion.

During my Saturday rung I decided to jump off and explore the Northern Woods. I’ve never done those trails in there.  They are hilly.  Which is probably why I have not spent a lot of time there.  So that was  a lot of little hiking in that section.  I played around up and down a  few paths and then jumped back out onto the East drive intent to find the Conservatory Gardens which I have yet to find.

The Conservatory Gardens run along 5th avenue from about the beginning of Harlem Hill to I don’t know exactly where they stop because I just kept following trails until I got back to Engineer’s gate.  I ran back and forth amongst the gardens (one other runner came through and I think I surprised him that someone else was running in his sanctuary).  The gardens must be gorgeous in the Spring and they are a quiet zone — so no dogs, no radios….  What a beautiful place to bring a book and read.  Unfortunately not quite yet, still winter.  First on my to-do list for Spring.   (There is also another little lake up in that corner that I did not know about.)

I made my way down to the Museum and jumped onto the bridle path.  For some strange reason I got a really good groove going in there.  The dirt felt good under my feet.  I ran the loop from reservoir to 102nd 3 times with some walk breaks in there.  Then I did two regular reservoir loops which weren’t as good because it was kind of muddy but  it was flat so I could keep moving. It ended up being more than 4 hours if I included the walk home, but there was a lot of walking in there.  Got home stretched and fell asleep.

Very anemic this week, very tired.  Pumped myself full of iron pills and b12 and my new kick BLACK CURRENT OIL pills and I’m going to start taking evening primrose oil as well.  Apparently these will help to relieve aches and pains and PMS symptoms.   I am very wary of all of my exaggerated mood swings and monthly fluctuations.  Wouldn’t it be just my luck to get my first hot flash in the Sahara?

Jac gave me an idea for my Sunday run.  I had to do 6 hours.  The problem with 6 hours is that it doesn’t really give me time to drive somewhere scenic and different.  Jac suggested I run the bridges.  At first it seemed too complicated but when faced with the alternative of more loops of the park, I started to plot out my course.

Basically I ran down the west side highway to Warren street, ran across Warren street into the Brooklyn Bridge, over the Brooklyn Bridge, went down a couple of blocks to see if anything interestign was going on, turned left and worked my way back up Jay street and onto the Manhattan Bridge.  Then I wound my way through China town took a right on Delancy and ran over the Williamsburg bridge.  I was going to try to run to the 59th street bridge but I didn’t like the section where I was running in Williamsburg so I turned around and ran back over the Williamsburg bridge (walking at this point.)  (Now that I know what I want to avoid I will be able to map that better.)

After Williamsburg I hit the East river path and made my way up to the dead end turned around and headed back across town to the westside path.  I had to do another half hour of out and backs to finish to 6 hours.  Total mileage was only 20 miles in 6 hours which doesn’t sound that good but considering I did 4 hours the day before and I had 16 pounds on my back and I’m old — I’m saying GOOD ENOUGH!

I actually had a nice time exploring the city over the weekend.  I maintained a good attitude — I’m not freaking about MDS anymore.  I’m considering every step part of the adventure.  I look at this way.  Say I get to Morocco and I get on the bus and take the 5 hour ride to the desert.  Right there, i’ve never done that.  Even if I get that far, that’s an adventure.  If I make it through just sleeping in the desert for 2 nights before the race even starts, I can say I went to Morocco and slept in the desert for 2 nights.  I’ve never done that.

Now lets say I get through day 1.  I get to say I made it Mororcco, took a bus ride to the desert, slept in the desert, RAN in the desert and made it back to camp.  Right there, that’s an adventure.  Every mile I last out there is just more adventure.  So now my goal is to see how long I can last?  Can I make it one more foot?  Can I make it to the next rock?  If I make it over that sand dune, that will be my first sand dune.  A milestone.  Everywhere I look there will be something new and exciting to experience.  I can’t lose.  Even if I don’t finish (which I will) every step is an experience.    I’m now approaching this as the great exploration of 2009.  I’ve poked around Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Connecticut, Arizona and this weekend Idaho.  I’m going to the Sahara to see what I can see…  And I’m no longer scared, I’m excited…

Namaste

So I have a lot of pics from my Sunday expedition:

Brooklyn Bridge.  Definitely the most beautiful of the bridges — worth bringing your friends to come view.  You must walk over it at least once.  It is not that far at all.

View of Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge

View of Manhattan Bridge from Brooklyn Bridge

On the Brooklyn Bridge

On the Brooklyn Bridge

Between Bridges -- not lost yet!!

Between Bridges -- not lost yet!!

On the Manhattan Bridge

On the Manhattan Bridge

View of Chinatown from the Manhattan Bridge

View of Chinatown from the Manhattan Bridge

Time to tackle the Williamsburg Bridge.

Time to tackle the Williamsburg Bridge.

Much funkier bridge.

Much funkier bridge.

Messages from the Universe spray painted on the bridge.

Messages from the Universe spray painted on the bridge.

Stating the Obvious.

Stating the Obvious.

On the Manhattan Bridge.

On the Manhattan Bridge.

Two Fencers on a mound of snow.

Two Fencers on a mound of snow.

The unrun 59th street bridge in the background.

The unrun 59th street bridge in the background.

I ran into two Trilife Teammates who are also doing the Marathon Des Sables and they snapped this picture for me.  What a small world is that?  They were doing almost the same run…

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2/12/09 Eerieness

Thursday. Part Deux. How did I come back from the darkside? Hmmm am I even back from the darkside? I guess I can say I am back because I am back to being more excited about doing the Marathon des Sables now. Excited vs. scared is a good thing. There were a couple of things that lead up to my change.

Without getting too metaphysical here, I believe that there are signs of our correct path around us all the time. Sometimes we ignore them and the universe has to come knocking again and again. Sometimes it has to knock us all the way down to get our attention. I think I got knocked down so I could have a different view from the floor.  Maybe just standing up can be a goal.

My fundraiser was a huge success. I was overwhelmed and verklempt again at how all my friends stepped up and volunteered to help. Every time I turned around someone was asking me “what can I do?” My friends offered to help get the theater. I’d go to an art show and see an old friend and they would offer to donate something. I went to my SHBC dinner and my friends all offered to donate amazing stuff. My Rumble gals were just above and beyond as usual. Even old coaches and teammates stepped in from out of the woodwork and offered product and assistance — bartending, video taping and general all around helping out. It was eerie how the planning of the event almost seemed to have a life of its own.

Puttting on the production itself at the theater was relatively hitchless. The stage floor at the theater was covered in a grass for the show so the kids couldn’t dance on it. Turns out the school had mats that fit the area and the dance instructor modified their routine to fit on the mats. No problem. Eerie — dimensions were perfect and a flawless production from someone who has no production experience.

The portable screen at the theater had been chewed up by a rabbit (long story). At the last minute we had to find a screen. My friend (a stage manager) took a ladder, climbed up to the rafters and hung an old wrinkled tarp. We turned on the projector and in one click the image showed up on the “screen” — and we couldn’t even see the wrinkles. The picture fit perfectly on the first try and not a hitch with the computer or projector or the DVD’s. Anyone who works with computers knows that NEVER happpens!! Eerie technology actually working in a crunch?

The morning of the event Dr. Donna and I went to Costco. In and out in one hour and to the theater. They happened to be doing construction in front of the theater and we slipped our car in right behind a construction vehicle and had the car unloaded in minutes. No hassles, no problems. Eerie, parking spot in Manhattan?  (And, Dr. Donna turned the food at the event into a beautiful display that looked like it cost a lot more!)

The list of eeire little things that just happened without effort were long. I needed goodie bags. Looked around couldn’t find any, my friend ACK said call Mike. I called Mike and boom, 100 Jack Rabbit eco bags ready the next day. No problem. Eerie…

I didn’t have time to really rehearse the production with my friend who was going to be the MC for the “show.”  I wrote a few notes. She showed up and pulled off a flawless evening. It was like she knew what to say from day one. Not a hiccup, not a pause, not a glitch. Everyone showed up on time, the kids were awesome and everyone enjoyed watching the movie. Eerie, New Yorkers and a production on time?

My friends stayed and cleaned up. There was no damage to the theater. The owners were happy with that and that means we left a good impression (and possibility to return next year?) No problems. Eerie, not even a spill of red wine on a carpet…

I think the big change came for me when I got to meet the kids and they were all so excited to be a part of what I was doing. After the show some kids wanted to have their picture taken with me and I was so touched. In one second it all became very real to me. It was no longer about myself. Now it was about doing it for these kids. To set an example, to demonstrate a work ethic, to show that the very difficult is achievable by planning, preparation and executing one step at a time. There is no one thing that would happen to me in the desert that I could not overcome with preparedness and tenacity. My biggest fear is failure but I realized that was really a long shot and my energy was best served in putting it into being excited about going and not about being fearful.

It’s funny because I can confess to my friends and say “I’m so scared.” But what am I scared of? It’s not the desert — I think that will be actually beautiful and part of a dream come true to see such an exotic locale. The heat? Yeah, that’s going to be really hard and I am going to have to really fight some discomfort there. The list goes on and on. Ironically I’m really not afraid of any of the physical stuff. I proved that I can hang out there for 16 hours and still keep going during Ironman. I have the physical strength to persevere. What I am afraid of is failing to finish.

The idea of failing is really hard for me to take. That’s all wrapped up in stuff from a long time ago and obviously a lesson the universe has brought up time and time again for me to learn to deal with. There is no lack of irony in this to me that Marlie (a person a friend and life-mentor) helped me try to deal with my fear of failing on the tennis court years ago when I tried to come back to tennis is now a key player in my attempt at an event that is so big that it must confront one of my biggest demons — the fear of failure.

I’m not one of those people who says “I’m just out here for the fun of it.” I am out here for the fun of it, no doubt but not “JUST” for the fun of it.  I am out here to finish it and do the best I can.  What the sport of triathlon has taught me is humility. (A lesson I get to learn over and over again.)  I am not now and probably will never be one of the best in the sport of triathlon. I have learned to appreciate setting personal goals and taking pride in that instead of having to be the best. I get that.  I have to do MY best which sometimes is just to finish.

So Marathon des Sables poses so many obstacles and brings up so many inadequacies in me that make me afraid  that I many not finish. I think the universe also offers help when you need it. I’ve been feeling really guilty about not addressing the problem with the lack of strength in my shoulder. It’s coming to haunt me now because of the backpack. I need my shoulder strength. (Coincidence or destiny that I hurt my shoulder in July 2007?).

At my fundraiser all of a sudden I found myself face to face with my former personal trainer Rhonda. Without thinking, I suddenly blurted “I need your help. All that stuff we worked on 4 years ago, I need to go back to square one. I can’t do a pushup. I can’t support this backpack. I need help and I need it now.”   Monday morning Rhonda called me and yesterday I went and worked out with her.   Back to basics, learning to balance and rebuilding the strength in my shoulder.  Ask and you shall receive.

When I started to tally the money raised for Abundant Waters, I was overwhelmed by the support I felt from my friends. We are at $7,500 and still climbing  (how awesome will it be to actually reach the $10,000?). The support was not just from the money, it was from them actually showing up for me, for the kids, for the cause. I was reminded how lucky I am to even have this opportunity. I was reminded to stop taking myself so seriously. Have fun with this. This is a huge adventure and I LOVE adventure. Even if I just make it to the Sahara desert and spend the morning in the sand. That’s an adventure in itself. Every moment that I last out there is more adventure. When I think that there is a possibility that I could really do this I realize this could be the adventure of a lifetime.  I’m getting very excited about the opportunity to try to do this.

I read in a blog a quote about a healthy person needing only six weeks to regain their fitness. Not sure I believe that (will research that some more) but I’ve decided that from right now until I leave for the desert,  everything I do is going to be about getting stronger and fitter. I’m not wasting any energy on fear. I have the love and support of my family and friends. I have some amazing kids who are waiting for me to come back and show them that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I feel truly ready to rumble.  Tonight I am off to do speed work with a 16 pounds in my backpack.

Namaste

I’m looking for the postit to write it on but meanwhile a quote from my friend Rob:

“the more thou sweateth in training, the less thou bleedeth in war”

I wanted to share a couple of video clips from my fundraiser. The first clip is of my mentor Ed telling the story of my first practice with Team in Training back in May of 2003. I can watch this a hundred times and it will always bring a smile to my face.  It reminds me to respect how far I have come more than how far I have to go:

Then I have these kids performing at my event to think about.  Their enthusiasm and excitement really pulls at my heartstrings:

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2/11/09 To the Bronx and Back

Wednesday. It’s been a long week +, I’m forcing myself to update the blog because I know there is an important lesson in here for me — I just don’t know what it is. Last week was a real low point in my training. After training camp I was feeling fine. I took Monday off to rest. Tuesday was a travel/work day and I got slammed with a backlog of work so I couldn’t work out. My guilt (fear) started to build along with a stomach bug that was really bothering me.

Our coaches talk about the “piano dropping on your head” during the Ironman. I never really experienced that per se (probably because I am not one of the fastie fasts and I’m just used to suffering for hours.) But I had my own version of a piano dropping on my head last Wednesday. It was a perfect storm of hormones, build up of chemicals in my muscles (my theory, nothing scientific to back that up), a psyche feeding-frenzy by my own demons. I had a system crash. I was ready to walk away from everything. Trilife, Marathon des Sables, Life (well maybe not life but my routine.) I just wanted to give up. I felt inadequate and incapable and burnt out.

I share this as a reminder to myself that all things are cyclical and as a response to my friends who ask me all the time how do I stay motivated? The honest answer is I’m not always motivated. Sometimes I really just want to go play tennis, go shopping and have a nice lunch. I don’t want to put a backpack on and go climb every mountain. I don’t feel like being cold any more and I don’t feel like making my daily fashion decision which Under Armor shirt will I wear? Sometimes Central Park doesn’t feel like a Cathedral to me it feels like a prison and I’m being let out into the yard to do my requisite “exercise time.” So I’m not the bearer of this indomitable spirit that people seem to think I have (yeah, okay smart alecs I can see you rolling your eyes saying ‘we weren’t thinking that…’) Sometimes I just don’t feel like Rumbling….

Last Thursday was really hard for me. I did a 2 mile walk earlier in the day thinking it would lift my mood — it didn’t. I hit that place between guilt and fear. I can usually avoid working out if I am experiencing only one of them, but when I get the guilt and fear double whammy that usually gets me up off my butt. I managed to get down to the gym after much cajoling and a lot of self-loathing. I manged to eek out the humblest of workouts. An hour and a half of bouncing between machines desperately looking for anything that wouldn’t drive me over the brink into insanity.

The last half hour was pretty funny (in retrospect). At the time it was really painful. After bopping from treadmill to rowing machine to elliptical I forced myself to get back onto the treadmill. Just 30 more minutes you only have to do 30 minutes. What’s 30 minutes? That’s usually nothing. As it happens, it can actually be an eternity. After 10 minutes I noticed that my right hand hit the stop button and the treadmill was slowing down. What the heck are you doing? I was mortified. I started it again with my left hand and upped the speed a notch for extra punishment. 10 more minutes and my right hand just hit the stop button again. This time I cursed at myself out loud which caused the woman on the next treadmill to chuckle. I looked at her with the most pathetic face and shrugged my shoulders as I hit the “on” button again with my left hand. This is unbelievable. You think you can run 150 miles in the desert but you can’t finish 20 minutes on the treadmill. You are the biggest poser.

Friday was a frenzy of activity running from location to location gathering material for my fundraiser. By the time I had finished I had been walking around the city for close to 4 hours. Okay that’s time on my feet, that’s something, right? Right?

Saturday was an easy 2 1/2 in the park with the backpack. I was up to 12 pounds + water and I was feeling the 2 pound difference. My knee was feeling a little wonky. I was making lists of my lists of excuses. The weather was nice, my mood was not. I called Lynne who is also doing MDS and she was about to come out to do her workout so she met me in the park to do a little power walking — my cool down, her warmup. That cheered me a little to have some company — not much.

Sunday was the big day. I was to do the Bronx half with backpack. Extra time before and after. How was I going to motivate myself to do this? I finally decided the only way was to make it an adventure and I decided to do the half marathon and keep going all the way home (walking home). The weather was nothing short of glorious. If I had not gone out with friends the night before and if I had not been wearing a 12 pound backpack + water, I am sure I would have PR’d that course. It was really amazing weather. Perfect. There was a gentle breeze that made it so easy to breathe. I’d take an inhale and it felt like 3 breaths. It was amazing. My legs felt fine. My knees felt fine. I just had that stupid backpack on my back so every time I went up hill I went into a slog.

I wasn’t even trying to race it, I was just using the people around me for motivation to keep moving and that worked. I got a little lazy the last two miles when I saw I had plenty of time and I walked a little too much. The last half mile I had to sprint it in to break 3 hours (by 30 seconds.) Although I wasn’t racing, I still didn’t want to see 3+ hours.

Then my “adventure” began. I had a directions from my friend Sunshine which I had plotted on a map. I thought it would be a very “adventure race” thing to do to try to find my way out of the Bronx and back to 43rd street in Manhattan. At first it was very exciting until I hit Broadway and saw the old donut shop. Then I realized I was right near Baker’s field (Columbia University). The tennis courts are right up that road. Chapstick, I know where I am!!! Where’s the adventure in that?!?! I continued on and found my way into Riverside park and down to the Hudson River. Ah, back on the ole westside path… Nothing exciting but I did it. I walked home. Another 11.5 miles. I mapped it out on this cool site called walkjogrun.net which is so easy to use.
It was nothing spectacular 6:40 for 24.5 miles. A couple of stops in there for a bagel and red lights and couple of stretches — but still not that impressive. But I did it with my backpack… oh who am I kidding? I should just be happy that I did it.

Now that I have totally depressed everyone, the antidote blog entry will be tomorrow — a Dickensian cliff hanger…

Namaste

Some fun pictures came out of it though….

Brons Half Starting out was late getting to the start

Bronx Half Starting out. Was late getting to the start

My spiffy wrun.

My spiffy wrun.

Early in the race working harder.

Early in the race working harder.

My Favorite shot.

My Favorite shot.

Happy to finish the 1/2 marathon.  Now just 11.5 miles to get home.

Happy to finish the 1/2 marathon. Now just 11.5 miles to get home.

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