Wednesday, August 26, 2015

In Case of Emergency

It's no surprise to anyone that Derek and I are introverts. Our default mode is to spend time with each other as a family, do the things that are our routines. And that's not necessarily by choice, it's just what happens when you have little kids who nap and also have their own routines. And when you have two parents who train for triathlons (one a bit more than the other). And one who works A LOT.

But we don't have the chance to meet very many other people who are like us, because - you guessed it - they're often chained to their own routines and kids' routines. When people have older kids, the routines change but it usually makes it even more difficult for us to spend time with them.  And no-kids people usually just assume we are jerks and don't understand what's really going on in our home. ;-) (kidding)  So even though I am quickly in my seventh year of living in Raleigh - I don't have a huge number of close friends (but I do appreciate the ones I have). Various reasons - moved from Morrisville, stopped working full-time, had a second kid, queen bee(s), and the very first thing I mentioned. Derek and I are in our 'comfort zone' at home with each other.

My oldest child, Alex, quasi-started kindergarten yesterday. He had a staggered entry day, then the teachers will finalize class lists before Friday. As I considered all the worst-case scenarios (you know, because I excel at mental health), I recalled when I was filling out his paperwork earlier this year, and I had paused at "Emergency Contact." Hmm.

Last year, I needed our emergency contact to get Alex from pre-school because my van wouldn't start. They are Derek's oldest friends in Raleigh, live near the preschool, and I have known them nearly nine years. But Alex didn't recognize her right away, and that made me sad. I very much trust them with our children, but realized how little time we spend together (they are busy with two active kids) for my 4yo son to not remember her.

So, I simply filled in Derek's name again on the elementary school form. Then, ever so mental-healthily, it got me thinking - what if anything ever happened to us? We need to write up wills just because, but still - the situation is grim. My folks are older and have health issues. Derek's folks work full-time and have a few health issues. Both of our siblings (my brother and SIL, and Derek's sister and BIL) have three kids each. Neither could take on our two kids. Would our babysitter want to adopt them? Sigh. Sad face. Head-in-hands-face.

It's really hard to live somewhere and not have any family, nor have someone you can rely on who your children see often enough to know-know, and who isn't super busy. Even when I think about our family in Indiana, Madeleine doesn't even recognize her cousins or know them by name. Neither child even knows they have Godparents or who they are. 

One of the reasons we wanted a 5-bedroom house, was so family could come and visit. Travel is expensive though, people only get so much vacation time. But hey - the cats like our guest room. And so does Derek when he works late.  So, I've been saying we should move to San Diego. 

Some days, I think he agrees with me.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Judgers and Judges

If there is anything about my past that has served me well for dealing with triathlon, it's being a musician. Marching band?



Fartknockers. Eltitists. Practice room door opener/judging people. "I don't know if I can date you if you aren't a good enough musician"-er's. I had forgotten about all that, until recently.

It all came up, like a violent binge of bad seafood and cheap beer.

My own senior recital

I had forgotten about them - the musicians from my past. I know all too well about (some of) the snotty triathletes from now. They butt you out, belittle your speed, or just act cruddy to others. Thankfully not most triathletes, but enough of them to make you cringe.

Years ago, I attended a friend's senior recital at Indiana University. For one of the pieces, his friend sang the vocals for The Beatles' "Blackbird." I thought it was beautiful, but later on another friend  critiqued it as having "sloppy phrasing" and how the senior musician was disappointed at her performance.

Naive me thought, "what? It was moving,
touching, honest and beautiful."

Musician friends thought, "scoff - it was sloppy and weak."

(It was amazing. Really. I remember it 14 years later.)

Yeah. Assholes - all over. But ever since hearing "Blackbird" at his recital I had wanted to sing it, but I was too afraid. Too afraid about what they would think, how crappy my phrasing would be on a hard song. "What would they say about *me*? I sure as hell can't sing like her."

Anyway, tonight I sang that song via SingSnap. It isn't perfect. And I don't care. Good god. So not the point of the song, and so not the point of life.

"Take these broken wings and learn to fly." 

I know triathlon has taught many friends just that, and maybe it's taught me as well. A lot of people want to be good and get better, and that's ok. 

But sometimes it's ok to not be perfect, and to enjoy trying really hard. Your own thing. Into whatever kind of night you want.


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Fartknockers and Doorbells

While I try to mostly post optimistic and positive things on the interwebs - and actually try to embrace that approach to life - the truth is, I can be a real snarky witch who has boundary issues sometimes. I just don't say it out loud other than to my husband. And maybe two friends, who I know (think?) won't judge me.

I mean, we are talking serious snark. Over the last 12 hours, I have said/thought the following about actual people:

• "You're an idiot. Good luck with your holier-than-thou attitude. Yeah, you've got it all figured out, self-righteous #%*$&". (This person was a seriously see-you-next-Tuesday to me. If you're reading this, no, it wasn't you. They don't read my blog).

• For this one, I didn't think any actual words, but visualized myself flipping off a group of people. Like, standing there and pow-pow-pow, flipping multiple birds, in between turning around and smacking my butt at them. It was a satisfying thought.

• "Nice failure at Wheaton's Law".

I do have some people in my outer circle who say and think meh things about me. Admittedly, they probably don't think about me very often at all - they have lives.  But, when they do, I know they've said things about my parenting. About my training - too much, not enough, this and that. About my career on hold. About me missing my career and not being thankful for my stay-at-home-ing. The things I did 20 years ago. The people I did 20- wait what?  Um, anyway. :-)

So, on my way home I had a "no, really. No REALLY. F. Those. People."

All of them. All the fartknockers. But by "F" I mean forget them.


Do I train? Hell yes. Does it take away from my time with my kids? Yes. Do they still spend a crap ton of time with their mommy? Yes. Lord, yes.

Fairly certain my kids go to bed each night feeling very loved, and very confident. And knowing that both Mommy and Daddy work very hard to take care of ourselves AND our family.

I try each day to inspire someone else to move, to care. It's never too late (for now...). And that you should allow yourself a sense of accomplishment because we so rarely do. That our bodies are a precious gift, and we should treat each moment of every day with as much grace as possible. (Other than the aforementioned rants, of course). And definitely to help others.

But those darn fartknockers. Grr. "Well I do it this way." 

*slow clapping*

The fartknockers aren't really doing anything wrong. (Yes, they are.
Ok, ok. No - they're not.) They are just different. They are not me. I am not them.

I was rambling about an issue that has been bothering me and a friend tonight said, "you've already invested way too much time worrying about this than it deserves." (Or something more grammatically correct).

She is right. The very first moment you KNOW irritation is ringing your doorbell, pull the plug. Immediately.

Disable the doorbell and go back to what you were doing.

That's it. Period. Life is too short for fartknockers. So - here's a cat with a pancake on its head instead.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sometimes, The Grass is Dormant

For now, I am in a waiting period.

I've finished two 70.3 races - one of them within a time frame I'd never imagined possible for me.

I'm waiting. To race the ultimate long race. The full Iron. 140.6. (Or, in the case of Chattanooga - 144.6!). It's going to take a lot of work.

Why. Why would you do this? I used to have no idea why I raced. But I do now - I know. I know.

Ironman. "Heather Scott, You Are An..." Could I be the I-word?  Two years ago - not even close. I had finished a mud run, but didn't own a bike. Five miles was my longest run.

Now I sit here, 112 ride - completed (last year). 70.3 triathlons? Two. That's not a lot, but it's more than I ever imagined possible.

So, I will volunteer at Ironman Chattanooga this year and my heart will really know then. If it doesn't seem like it's for me, that's perfectly fine.

Oh - but why? We get one life, one chance. One opportunity. We never know how long it is, never. We can know if we are investing all we've got each day. And I think it's worth it, no - I know it is. Try to fly, to soar.

Be brave - Andrea Peet.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Go Jump in a Lake! IM70.3 Steelhead Race Report

Before I talk about race day - let me quickly summarize why I signed up for Steelhead. My folks have had a rough couple of years. From my Dad working again (and his Myasthenia Gravis) to my mom's recent COPD diagnosis, they pretty much get pummeled with crappy luck. It didn't look like they would be able to come out to watch me cross the finish line at Ironman 70.3 Raleigh, so while browsing Facebook in March, a friend-of-a-friend mentioned her husband was racing Ironman 70.3 Steelhead. In Benton Harbor.  !!  An hour and a half from my folks' door?!?!

Hmm. Two months out of IM70.3 Raleigh? A Lake Michigan swim (shudder)? *But* my folks could watch me cross the finish line at a big race...

I signed up pretty much immediately. As fate would have it, they did get to come out for Raleigh (yay!) - but I still continued training for Steelhead. 

We arrived in Portage, Indiana on a Monday thanks to my wonderful and generous friend watching our kitties and house. In Indiana, we were able to visit with both sets of parents and even got to see my brother. I also ate... everything. *wide eyed emoji*

Friday we drove up to Benton Harbor for packet pick-up and to drive the bike course - it was not flat and had a few substantial hills, but honestly just one. So, I've been eating poultry lately. I know, I know and I know. But my body had been craving it. I still eat plant-based as often as possible. I was extremely hungry when we finally got back to Indiana and suddenly craved Portillos. You know, a beef sandwich.  You know, mounds of dead cow muscle in quantities I haven't consumed in years. Brilliant idea.

It should come as no surprise that I woke up Saturday and developed pretty bad abdominal cramps. Was it lady times? Maybe. But it got worse. OhmyGod - I have food poisoning. I started sweating profusely. OhmyGod. My race is tomorrow. I was waiting for my stomach to start the vomit cramps, but it didn't. Nor did "the other". Then it was hard to breathe and chest felt tight. My clothes were sticking to me and my hair was soaked - I crawled out of the bathroom to Derek. "Honey, I don't know what's happening to me," I said, out of breath. He shot up and immediately took me to the ER at the Portage Hospital. I was taken back right away, passed my EKG, but had a really low pulse and low blood pressure. I tried to explain my low pulse (we are talking 40's), and when I told them my long endurance training/racing they said, "ahhh." Never questioned it again. Gave me a bag of fluids, some sort of non-narcotic pain medicine and anti-abdominal cramp medicine (after assuring me it was fine, if I was in fact cleared to race the next day). I started to feel more human again - especially after hearing I wasn't having (and didn't have) a heart attack.

Finally, everything checked out. Doctor assumed I just let my nerves spiral out of control. And I will never eat cow again. 
 Yep - this was *before* the race. Thankfully not after. 

The rest of the day went as scheduled - checked in my bike and had dinner with my family.


I stayed at the Super 8 in Sawyer, Michigan. Was the closest hotel with vacancy to the race site (about 20-25 minute drive). I slept for, hmm, maybe two hours. The bed was horribly uncomfortable and the hotel was pretty gross. I don't know why I got a jacuzzi room, but Good God Lemon I did NOT use it.

Woke up at 3:30AM, forced myself to eat oatmeal, packed up, drank coffee and drove to the remote parking lot where they were shuttling athletes. Arrived around 5:00AM.

Note to self: Purchase and bring a headlamp to races like these. It was DARK in transition. DARK. But it was also 65, a mild breeze and the lake was calm.


I took Lucy to get her tires pumped up, set up my area and stared at it for quite some time. Adjusted a few things. Then I stood in line to potty. I came back to see a beautiful thank you card from Andrea that a Team Drea mate had left for me. 

I took a moment to really let the experience sink in, to feel so thankful for everyone and the ability to race. I said a prayer.

Suddenly it was 6:20! I ate a Stinger waffle and nibbled on a PowerBar, drank some water. Stood in line to have a more productive potty trip with success. Aunt Florence still hadn't made an appearance - whew.

It was time to get into the wetsuit. 


After I put on my suit, I swam a bit to warm up. The water was very clear, felt perfect in my sleeveless, I felt … ready.

Swim Leg:
The first waves were lining up at the start. National Anthem followed by the canon *boom*! Wow. I teared up a bit (the first of many times) and waited patiently for 7:12AM.

The swim is a beach start, and I placed myself smack dab in the middle of the ladies. My wave consisted of women 25-29 and women 40-44. *HORN BLARE* We didn’t get a canon. That’s ok. ;-)
Lots of high knee through the water, which had small one-foot waves. Lake Michigan’s waves aren’t as steady as the ocean but are more frequent, and once you get away from the shore it’s just random swells. We all kept running and running and I wondered when the water was going to get deeper! I know that I waste time running in water. Finally the water was mid-thigh and even though some ladies were still wading, I made a beautiful dolphin dive into the water. Not really. :-D I just started swimming.

Because of the sand bar, we all came upon the first sight buoy pretty early after actually swimming. I had found a position in between two women and held steady for another few minutes, thinking “so *this* is drafting!” Didn’t last long, and they lost me. I kept a very steady line, using swim caps to sight and looking for the sight buoys, which I SWEAR seemed smaller and farther apart than Raleigh IM70.3. I started seeing swim caps from the wave behind me, and that trend continued to the end.

The long second line of the triangle is always difficult for me, and I am not sure why. I just focused on getting my elbows up, breathing steadily and pulling as much water as I could. I want to say here - my GOSH what a gorgeous swim. Definitely had some swells and one spot tasted like diesel, but other than that it was beautifully clear and cool water - 72 degrees. I was very comfortable in my sleeveless Blue Seventy wetsuit.

The third line of the swim, the last part, is where people start to beat you up and my sighting completely fell apart. I was like a pinball. A pink-cap man clocked me right in the back of the head and it made my swim cap slide off. This is the only place I stopped swimming for a second to adjust my goggles and mutter a “jfc, dude.” He looked back at me but said nothing. Swim happens. It didn’t hurt me, thank goodness. Finally, FINALLY, after what I knew was going to be another close call, people started walking in front of me. Not me, I swam until the water was knee-deep, of course that made it hard to stand up! Ran to the shore while unzipping my wetsuit and yanking down the top. I looked at my watch and it said… *Drumroll* 1:00:00! HORNBERGER! Whew.

Ran up to transition and the EXTREMELY long run to my bike, which was closer to the bike/run start.

Stepped out of my wetsuit and quickly prepared for the ride. I sort of had to pee, but… I can do that on the bike! I’ll just do it on the bike - first time for everything, right?

Swim: 1:01:11 3:10/100m pace
T1:  6:26

Bike Leg:
I made sure to take in nutrition right away - specifically Tailwind - from my aero bottle.  The one thing I took away from driving the bike course on Friday was “potholes.” The road conditions appeared to be extremely rough compared to Raleigh (we don’t have the extreme weather conditions, so this is understandable). I wasn’t expecting to be able to ride very fast. But the roads never seemed to be that awful, I just maneuvered around the rough spots without incident. I was passing people - a LOT of people, both men and women. Hmm, I wondered. How fast am I going? I glanced at my watch a few times and saw 19mph, 21mph - but I really didn’t know. I felt strong and knew that the bike is really my only strong suit, so I just kept pushing it. And passing people. I said hello to a Tri-Fecta woman wearing a Tri*Fe kit, told a Soas woman I liked her kit, and was ECSTATIC to see Team Hoyt! Wasn’t the original father/son, but still - so, so inspiring.

Speaking of pushing it, I had to pee. It was a moral imperative. So, I tried. I splashed some water I had taken from the first aid station on my crotch, stood up and waited. And waited. Nothing. UGH. I knew I was going to have to get off the bike, and I was guesstimating that I had enough wiggle room to take a few minutes and still average 16+mph. (yup - I still had no idea how fast I was going. Math is hard. I teach music: 1-2-3-4 repeat).

Stopped at the second rest stop and quickly headed for a portajon and they were all TAKEN! MotherFarter. So, I decided to pause my watch... that had already auto-paused. It said “Bike complete, transition 2.” ARGH!!!! No way to fix that. As I squatted over the portajon seat, I just started an entirely new triathlon. What had my time said? Damn it! I don’t remember! Oh well, just keep going.

When I started re-passing a few people, I knew I was still doing alright. Someone on a Facebook group warned me about the return trip and she was right. It was definitely steady climbing and quite a bit. A few times I got stuck behind people going a littler slower than I wanted. I remembered Raleigh - where I just stayed behind them and had a slower bike time than I had wanted. So… I stood up, stepped up and went around them - “on your left.” Unfortunately, I was also starting to get a little nauseous. I stopped taking in the Tailwind and just had small sips of water. This happened in Raleigh, but much earlier. However, it’s telling me that perhaps liquid nutrition isn’t my thing. There are two more brands I will try, then I am switching to solid foods on the bike.

The bike back into the park is truly bizarre, you ride along a sidewalk and then a boardwalk. People were staying in the middle of the walkways and I couldn’t safely pass them, so I just took it easy and let my legs relax for the run. Of course, as soon as I stepped off my bike my left thigh tightened up like a dried up rope. Oooof. As I hit the lap button on my watch to start the transition for my new triathlon, I looked at the race clock on the finish line, which said 4:17 or so. As I prepared for the run, I tried to figure out how fast my ride was. “Four hours minus one hour minus twelve minus 5 equals…” Good God Lemon, just start running, Heather.

Nutrition taken in on bike: ~500 calories of Tailwind unflavored (which still tastes really, really sweet) and approximately 8 ounces of plain water.

Bike: 2:57:56 18.88mph/pace
T2: 4:56

Run Leg:
I decided to only take two of my three bottles of water on my belt because I knew the aid stations would be plentiful and it wasn’t hot at all. No humidity and it was overcast. I changed socks for the run - Swiftwicks Performance, trying to avoid the blisters I had in Raleigh. The plan for my run was six minutes run, thirty seconds walk. I knew I could manage this as soon as I started, but it was going to be slow. I definitely had pushed it too hard on the bike. As the scores of people I had blown by on the bike started running past me, I thought two things: Good luck with that pace and don’t worry about it. Run your own race. I knew my coach wanted to me to run either A Pace of a 2:52 half-marathon or B Pace of 3:04 (or something like that). 

After running six minutes at a slow 13:00/mile pace, I walked and chewed a few Quic Discs. These came in the swag bags at Raleigh, and I have been using them - I like them. It’s like chewing a salty, bitter piece of chalk - but it instantly melts, doesn’t hurt my stomach and gives me a little boost. Time to run again, and I did.

I was definitely not going to have a 2:52 half marathon today, but I still felt really strong. My right heel had started hurting on the bike - I think I had been pedaling in a weird position. My hips definitely hurt on the run - I need to work on hip flexor exercises and core, core, core. But cardio-respiratory and mentally - I felt strong and was guesstimating (four hours and ten-ish minutes plus three hours is … wait, that can’t be right, plus five minutes, plus.. GOOD. GOD. LEMON. Just run, Heather.)... Well, let’s just say I knew I was going to beat my Raleigh time and definitely finish under my “B Race” time for my coach.

The run course is not flat-flat. Has rolling hills throughout and two big hills - one at the beginning and one of the course (that you get twice). I never made a course buddy, and that was ok. I just tried to run as much as possible and kept my slow pace. I had started hoping for a 2:50 half-marathon, but then realized I was actually going to have to push it to keep it under 3:00.

I saw Fireman Rob on the course! He was also at Raleigh IM70.3, and I stopped to talk with him a bit as he walked along. He remarked how beautiful Raleigh had been. I agreed it was and made sure to thank him for all he did before picking up my pace again.

Run nutrition: I took sips of water at each aid station, ate my Base Salt every mile with water from my flasks - sometimes sooner if the legs started cramping - sips of Gatorade, ate my Quic Discs (only about 210 calories total), a banana, a few orange slices, sips of coke, a bite of a cookie toward the end. I never bonked, so I think I properly fueled for that run considering my pace, the weather and the elevation gain.

The last mile - oh, the last mile. I had been running pretty steadily throughout the second half, except for the dang hill. I was ready to stop. I could hear the finish line and broke my pace and started walking. “I’ll run again when I turn the corner.” There were quite a few people in front of me and a steady stream behind, and I knew the Blazeman Roll wasn’t an option this race. I think that also defeated me, but then this man popped me with his elbow. I like to think it was Jon Blais’ spirit, especially when he said - and I swear with a New England accent - “uh-uh,” while shaking his head at me, “you keep running to the end. My Dad always told me when I was in track - you better pick it up at the end, and leave every bit of energy on that course. Keep running.” And he took off in front of me. I started running again.

I had made it. There was the finish line. The looooooooong chute to the finish line, and I saw my family. I kissed my babies and high fived them, along with anyone else who had their hand out to high five and THEN, THEN I saw the clock. It said 7:20ish. What THE FREAKING WHAT?!?!?! YES! YES! YES!

Run:  2:56:50 13:19/mi pace
Overall: 7:07:19

Biggest differences in this race: weather, weather and the weather. Wetsuit. A flatter bike course (1200ft gain) and flatter run (360ft gain). Weather. 

My coach. He is amazing. The training I am doing made me feel prepared (but obviously my head got in the way for a bit). I trust him with my whole being - thank you, Brooks.

My family. They're just so supportive.

My friends. All of you. Everything. You're all so awesome.

Andrea. For changing my life.

Will I race Steelhead again? No. It is just not spectator-friendly for *us.* If you have older kids who can hang at the beach alllll day and be happy using portajons, and can walk and walk and walk - go for it.

Is it a good course for a first-timer? Yes - if the weather is like it was Sunday. If not, look out. The triangle course on Lake Michigan is not easy. Had it been larger waves and swells, a windy bike course and a sunny run - I would have been lucky to have finished in eight hours.

But I am so glad I had the opportunity to race it, to have a strong race (everyone had fantastic times!), and most importantly that my folks could see me being strong and determined. Lord knows they saw me struggle through a lot in my life. Not this past Sunday.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Bigger Fields

If I told you I was swimming in a lake this Sunday, you might picture a body of water, lined with trees, and small waves of water gently rolling along the sandy edge of the water.

Lake Michigan is indistinguishable from an ocean, though. Sometimes the waves are small, and it looks like this:

And sometimes it looks like this:

There is story after story about people drowning in Lake Michigan - mostly to do with rip currents and holes in the sand underwater - these are most common in the southern shores of the lake.  Basically, when the wind kicks up it causes the water to churn a bit more, and in turn the sand bars shift and sometimes collapse. The water then sucks back out away from the shore. People will get caught in the rushing water and panic when they can't swim back to shore. Or they lose their footing on a sandbar. It's a really scary body of water. I enjoyed playing in it when I was younger, but the thought of swimming 1.2 miles in it just terrifies me.

I am sure a lot of it has to do with confidence. I don't have very high self esteem about my swimming ability. I may swim "better" than people who can't swim, but the cold hard truth is I am a very back-of-the-packer when it comes to open water swims. I don't have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to cut-off's.

Toss in some waves, currents, scores of stronger, younger swimmers trying to push past me - well, I am scared out of my mind.


But there's also a part of me that knows I need to do this. Even if they pull me out of the water (alive! I just mean because of cutoff), I need to try. This is a different race from Raleigh 70.3. I knew what to expect in Raleigh, the signs throughout the bike course - #179, War on ALS, Team Drea - kept me going. Knowing my race was dedicated to Andrea and to Jon Blais kept me going. This time, it's different.

It's still for Team Drea, and for The Blazeman Foundation. 179 is in my heart.

But I don't know the course, I don't know the roads, I don't know what the lake is going to be like Sunday. I don't know what my body will feel like (my knees and right hip have been hurting a bit lately).

And then I remind myself it's really about confidence and self-esteem. Low self-esteem does nothing but breed awful things and it brings out the worst in people. I don't want that right now, or ever for that matter.

Well. I've got some business to take care of with this thing. *breathe in* *breathe out* Going for a practice swim...