Thursday, August 27, 2009

16 days ...

and this will be me!

SOS Triathlon 2008 from Don Davis on Vimeo.

i have a few back logged training posts to share with y'all. i am working on them with a VERY frustrating computer system.

in the meantime, if you can bear the buffering of the video (hint let it fully buffer while it's on pause) you'll get a sneak peek at what i'm in for on sept. 13th.

happy viewing!


Thursday, August 13, 2009

camp day 1 & 2

i haven't even gotten to the great training j. and i did for s.o.s. last sunday and already i have to skip ahead and tell you about now!

i'm in chicago training with liz, andrea and danni for a few days. we all arrived in chicago yesterday afternoon and we off and running ... literally.

i've met liz a few times before, but i know danni and andrea only from their blogs and facebook. they are both surprisingly what i would have imagined, awesome! i felt immediately at ease with them both as we got our stuff together and jumped in the odd s c and headed toward the wisconsin border to meet up with jen h. and swim at her wednesday night LITH (lake in the hills) swim and run. it's an informal gathering of triathletes. everyone is at different levels and have different goals. you can swim as much as you want and if you want to run a hilly 5k or 10k there is a fantastic marked course.

before we got to LITH we stopped off at trader joe's. i was in search of buckwheat cereal for the morning and everyone else wanted a little sumthin' sumthin' before hitting the water. never have i seen an elf swing a left turn off of the cereal aisle so fast as when she realized there was a coffee dispenser one aisle over. i was afraid she'd roll an ankle in her pursuit of a pre-swim boost. 

there were a few stare downs as i traipsed through the store in my one piece tri suit (folded over my hips, of course, rocker orange t-shirt and flip flops). i think i went from airplane to liz's to minivan to trader joe's so quickly that it hadn't quite sunk in that i was in the midwest and maybe i ought to show a little more ... midwest discretion.

buckwheatless we left and drove the run course. 
"lake in the hills", cat. 
right ... what was i expecting, flat?

andrea, liz and danni were planning on circling the entire lake twice for a total of two miles. i decided i would do an out and back swim for a half mile (shoes stuffed in drawers, of course), run the 5k and then jump back in for another half mile swim.

before the swim we hung out with jen a bit, met angela and scoped out the lake. before i knew it, we were off. i stayed on some feet for a bit and then as usual started futzing about with my sighting, essentially losing any chance of staying in anyone's draft. all i knew was to head to the last "buoy" (basically a pull buoy tied to some rope) and to make sure to not swim off the dam. HUH???!!!

andrea, me (in said questionable outfit), jen, danni & liz

i went out on the run while the rest of 'em were swimming. i was a little intimidated about running since i tend to not feel so hot training-wise when i travel, but pretty soon into the run my legs were there. it was warmer out than i am used to and evening instead of dawn, but it felt pretty good. i loved where i was running. i loved watching the dappled sun coming through the trees and seeing the folks out on their lawns. i've lived in big cities my whole life, but often think i'd be happy living a life surrounded by green trees, lakes, and little country roads.

i was pleased with my run time and jumped back in the lake for my second swim. we all finished up about the same time. washed the goose poop off our bodies as best we could and headed off to noodles. where we ate noodles (duh) and froze our wet-haired buns off!

then it was another 2 or 3 stores in quest of buckwheat cereal until it was obtained. we rolled into liz's, showered and collapsed. i was joined by maybe the cutest bed partner (after j. and fraidy of course). see for yourself ...

bossman waterstraat, in all his cute cha-hooah-hooah glory!

today it was fill our bellies, digest, go to the track for drills and a surprise two all out 800's. OUCH! it was hot, there was no shade ... it was "track". but ya know what? it was some of the best time i've ever spent on that blasted oval. liz filmed all three of us, watched us run and took notes, and encouraged us. (pictures later).

when we were done we sat down and went over what she noticed. not surprisingly, i have a weak core and it shows up in my running. the great thing about the time on the track was that it became clear that we were all there with a genuine desire to learn and improve. we cheered each other on and, as far as i'm concerned, there is nothing like a few great women shouting at me to motivate me through that last painful 50 meters.

later on we went swimming in a place that i am not sure i can accurately describe. instead i'll just show you pictures. 

way over to the right there are some 50 meter lap lanes

i learned that i don't rotate my hips. i knew that, but there's nothing like someone who's opinion you trust looking at you and saying "yup, you don't rotate". liz gave me what sounded like a simple enough drill to do and sent me on my way. yeah, notsomuch. i proceeded to completely humiliate myself in front of some pre-pubescent boys and girls bopping in and out of our lane. i continually jammed my fingers into the lane line and almost took out both danni and andrea as they swam by. but liz stuck with me, suggested a few things, walked along helping my body to feel what my mind wanted it to do and at the end of our hour there i can honestly say there was some progress. it left me breathless and wanting to hurl after 25 meters, but i'll stick with it and build some endurance with the new stroke and some new pathways to my brain!!

there may have been some coffee consumed to get us from the swim to the next activity on the list: a ride through the arboretum. man was it beautiful! closed to traffic, nice sweeping roads, beautiful green everywhere!! liz narrated our tour and next time promised to wear a p.a. system on her back so that those of us in the back can follow along in learning about the different programs that take place on the grounds.

liz had a longer ride to do so andrea, danni and i headed home ... i believe with the intention of getting dinner started. we did our best to think about it, but no actual progress was made. i think we were all still unsure if perhaps we might need to bust out a fourth discipline or whether we were just going to fall asleep ... too tired to eat. once again, liz and all her energy saved us as she walked in the door and infused us all with a second wind and a scrumptious dinner was rustled up.

this post is way too long, but then again ... we've done A LOT in just a little over 24 hours. tomorrow we're starting out with a brick in the infamous fermilab and i've heard rumor of a mall outting. swim/bike/run i can handle, but swim/bike/run/shop? i may have to switch from tea to coffee for this one!


Sunday, August 9, 2009

staying on task, not!

i'm trying to write up a post about today's adventurous training. there's lots to tell, but i keep getting distracted by the yankee game-making the pizza dough-my cute cat-my iphone-stretching-uploading pictures-facebook ... i gotta get my priorities straight!

soon, i promise.

until then ... pizza time!!!


Friday, August 7, 2009

letter to the editor

i'm not really a "letter to the editor" type of gal or at least i haven't been for the first 41 years of my life, but a few weeks ago i sat at my computer searching for a job and in the background michael jackson's memorial service was on the television. as i watched all the grandeur unfold and read reports about the City of Los Angeles footing the bill ... well ... i was angered enough to launch my letter writing career!

yesterday as i was running i thought about the letter and that it was never published and then realized, doh!, i have my very own publishing vehicle. so, here ya go ... my very first "letter to the editor":

Dear Editor,

I am outraged by the City of Los Angeles’ spending on Michael Jackson’s memorial service. It’s not that I think Mr. Jackson shouldn’t be honored, I do. He made great contributions to us all and I have the fondest memories of boppin’ along to The Jackson 5 with my brothers and sisters throughout the 1970’s. However, as a now grown woman who was recently laid off from her job, I am dancing to a different tune.

For the past six years I have worked for a non-profit agency that relies heavily upon State and Federal contracts for a great portion of its budget. As we sat with an unapproved budget and a State in total financial crisis, we had to look at suspending services to our clients, cutting out programs and reducing our staff.

In an attempt to not leave our city’s most needy without the services they so desperately rely upon, a few of us lost our jobs. My hope is that with our education and skills the set back we experience will be less than what our clients would have faced had they not received the subsidies they need in order to meet their most basic needs.

That being said, I am appalled by the fact that the City of Los Angeles saw fit to spend, what reports are saying is upwards of $4 million, on Mr. Jackson’s memorial. While I am not privy to the Jackson family’s finances, I’d bet what money I do have that they have more than enough to appropriately memorialize him. The fact that Mayor Villaraigosa saw fit to Tweet throughout the day yesterday, appealing to the citizens of Los Angeles to donate to the Michael Jackson Memorial Fund to offset the costs is beyond comprehension to me.

The City has put up a webpage where you can make a donation through PayPal. Have they done that for the families that are at risk of losing their CalWorks benefits? What about for the hard working employees, such as myself, who no longer have jobs so that others can continue to thrive, is there a webpage to donate to that cause?

To me it is downright irresponsible of the City to have gone ahead with the memorial. What about honoring Mr. Jackson with a street in his name (though I am sure that is in the works too)? How about holding candle light vigils a la John Lennon’s passing? What about the City filling in where the State is failing our citizens and making donations, in Mr. Jackson’s name, to our cities neediest?

These are all honorable, responsible, inspiring acts that are much more sensitive to our current economic climate and much more in keeping with a budding young social consciousness that has started to take root with our new Presidential administration.

Writing a letter to the editor is something I have never done before, but I am so pained by our City’s insensitivity, I simply had to say something.

Catherine M. Griffin

*later reports indicated that the actual cost to the City was $1.4 million, but still ...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

laying low

let's see if i can remember how blogger works. let's hope i don't inadvertently post this before i'm done.

a lot has happened since my last blog post, heck it's been since mid-june ... how could it not!? yet at the same time, i've been uninspired to blog. i've guess i've been laying low.

at the end of june i was laid off from my job. i had worked there for the past six years and didn't really see it coming. i suppose in the abstract i did (it's a non-profit with a budget heavily reliant on state contracts) since our state/nation's economy is in the crapper ... but it was still a shock. i was leaving that evening for a trip with j.'s family to lake tahoe so ... we left a little earlier.

the trip was beautiful. i wasn't able to train at the level i would have liked since we were at altitude and as i discovered earlier this year ... me and altitude ... not so much. but we kayaked and took a few wonderful, peaceful, meditative swims in the lake. it was super cold, but so worth it! it was fun to be in the water with j. and his sister (we're all doing s.o.s. together in just a little over a month).

after the trip to tahoe we came home for the 4th and we ran one of our favorite 10k's. it's a super hilly course in a nice small town.

all the neighbors come out and cheer and the whole town is done up in red, white and blue. i went 57 seconds faster than last year and i was psyched because i went into it not feeling all that fit. bonus too was that my sister ran it! she and i trained for and ran the l.a. marathon together 9 years ago and it was fun to know she was out on the course as well.

for the month since i've been trying to find a balance between deciding what i want to be when i grow up, job searching and enjoying a little "down time". the best thing about not working is how much the level of chronic pain i have been living in for the past 8 years has been reduced. the hardest thing for me has always been sitting at a computer all day long. it makes my body feel so beat up that by the end of the day i feel like a pretzel. i still have some of the issues, but WOW, so much less.

speaking of which, i finally had an MRI on my hip and back. i have two compressed vertebrae, one with a bulging disk. the doctor said they weren't awful but he also said that the combination of the bulging disk and some thickening of bones in the same place has left little room for the nerves that run through that section of my back. hmmmm ... that sounds like a culprit! as for the hip, he saw a slight labral tear. based on what he said, that may be a bit of an overstatement ... it's more like the labrum is peeling up a bit (blech!). he prescribed 6 weeks of physical therapy, which due to a glitch in the switch over from regular insurance to COBRA, i haven't been able to start yet, but i am hoping soon!

training has been going well. i wish i was using this time off to do more of it, but liz didn't think that was a good idea. :( she said that i have "durability issues". that's tough for me to hear. i suppose it's true, to some extent, but i also know that now that i am not working i have a lot more time to put toward maintenance and recovery.

on the "racing" front, i swam the pier-to-pier 2 mile ocean swim this past sunday. it's one of those races i've heard about forever, but have feared. the thought of two miles without a wetsuit as a security blanket freaked me out, but this year i wanted to do it. a) s.o.s. is all non-wetsuit swimming and b) it was on my birthday and i love to try to do a race or some physical adventure on my birthday.

i wasn't feeling very well leading up to the race so i was playing it by ear on race day morning (but who was i kidding, barring a MAJOR freak out, i was swimming!) j. and josh and i went together. i wished my friend chris was swimming, but he's been having some physical stuff going on that's keeping him from training right now. chris is an awesome swimmer and has always been really encouraging to me about getting out there.

for the most part the swim was great. i never really felt like i found a rhythm and i certainly wasn't "racing", but i was just fine without the wetsuit. it's amazing how much more of a feel for the water you get without it. i was giddy to be enjoying myself as much as i was. and then it started to get a little old. the people tapping my feet, the swimming waaaay off course, the final pier not getting ANY closer despite the fact that it appeared to be right in front of me. i kept reminding myself that i had been really enjoying it and to just hold on to that, it actually worked for the most part. in the end it turns out there must have been a current as everyone's times were longer than usual (last year the winner swam it in :39, this year :45). it was a good mental boost to know i could do 2 miles straight without a wetsuit, but hysterical to me to see that i swam longer at IMUSA in less time (god bless mirror lake and neoprene).

i haven't decided yet about the shoes i am going to wear for s.o.s. i thought i was going with the teva x-1 racer trail shoe, but after a two hour run a week or so ago i had a mean blister, imagine running longer than that and with wet socks and shoes. i'm not sure they'll work.

i liked them because of the mesh on the sides and the drain holes on the bottom. hopefully i'm going to head out to a lake this weekend where i can actually try swimming with them in my shorts and then running with wet shoes like i will in the race. that'll give me a better sense if they are the right shoe or not. if anyone has any ideas, let me know ... just keep in mind it's 19 miles of trail running and i need some amount of support and cushion.

i'm a bit nervous about the bike for the race. i've been cycling only twice a week and that just never feels like enough to me. twice a week on the bike results in just holding on to my bike fitness, if not losing a little. while the bike portion is only 30 miles, part of it is quite demanding and i'd like to give away as little of my energy on it as possible. the only way i know to do that and still keep a decent pace and remain competitive is time in the saddle and getting used to some hard efforts.

in non-training news ... i am the proud new owner of an iphone! oh lord help me. it's been 3 days now and it's all just a big blur of photos, apps and IMing j. while he's sitting next to me.

f-u-n n-e-w t-o-y!!

okay, i felt like i had to get this one "catch up" post done (sorry it's so dry). i think that's it. now that i've gotten y'all caught up hopefully my intentions of regular blogging on life as it actually happens will pan out.