Archive for May, 2007

Who is on your life soundtrack?

May 29, 2007

I have always been a music person. I remember getting my first record player at age 4 (maybe 5?) and listening to my Sesame Street album over and over. Then I quickly moved on to 45s and I developed quite a collection (which I still have in a closet upstairs). I remember listening to the Top 40 and running out to buy the number one song on a 45 record for a dollar. Captain and Tennille and their horrible Muskrat Love song comes to mind as one I “had to have”. There were also many times when I held a tape machine up to the speaker on the radio to record my favorite songs. Oh, the one hit wonders! Do you remember A Taste of Honey’s Sukiyaki? I would pick up the needle and play it back line by line to learn all the words. “It’s all because of you. I’m feeling sad and blue. You went away and now my life is just a rainy day”. It is engraved in my brain forever.
By junior high I began to stretch out a bit beyond the number one hits. I was “alternative” – at least for a girl from Salisbury – remember we only had a few radio channels and no MTV yet! I joined BMG and ordered albums – Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Billy Joel’s Glass Houses, ACDC Back in Black, Styx, Foreigner, etc. – still have those too. I went to my first concert (Duran Duran – aren’t you jealous!) in 1984 and spent many a teenage angst- filled evening listening to Depeche Mode’s Fly on the Windscreen on the tape player of my friend Michelle’s car (the Ford Fiesta lovingly known as the “tomato”). Boy, those guys in Depeche Mode sure were depressed! Finally by high school I had discovered REM and that one stuck for quite a while. My greatest college memories involve going to incredible shows at the Cat’s Cradle and elsewhere. There is just nothing like the impact of good music.

Even now that I’m “old” I still love music of almost any sort (and, if you don’t believe I’m old just reread the above references to record players and Captain and Tennille). By marrying Dave my taste broadened a bit to include blue grass (Doc Watson is one of his favorites) and sometimes I even tolerate his Beastie Boys CDs. I still don’t get his love of the Chemical Brothers and his constant listening to WXYC (the UNC student station) even when the music on it is mostly terrible.

I am writing about this today because I realized recently that my training for this triathlon has been punctuated by various songs that I have placed on my ipod and like the rest of my life this time will always be remembered by the soundtrack surrounding it. I have run over 150 miles since this started and ridden many, many more while listening to lots of different music. Recently I set my ipod to shuffle on all the music I’ve purchased from the itunes music store and the variety is impressive. There is the Cheetah Girls (Eden’s choice, not mine, but I’ve been known to sing along), Yo Yo Ma, Justin Timberlake (if you say you don’t like his song Sexy Back I’m sorry you’re just lying), Lucinda Williams, Kanye West, U2, Johnny Cash, Joni Mitchell, India.Arie, Melissa Ethridge, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Nirvana, Coldplay, Kacy Crowley (my neighbor’s sister and a great singer/songwriter) and much, much more. Music helps motivate me and keeps my feet moving. Sometimes I discover I’m singing out loud as I run down the street which can be rather embarrassing.

My most recent music discoveries have come from animated movie soundtracks – Shark Tale, Curious George, Happy Feet, The Wild, Meet the Robinsons – all have had good music. My wild nights of concert going have given way to matinees with the kids and I guess it shows, but at least it’s not Lawrence Welk.. yet. But, I’m always looking for new music. Think Lawrence is on i tunes?


lesson #1 – don’t start celebrating too soon

May 21, 2007

topsail-may-07-008.jpgSurf and Turf triathlon at Topsail went well. I cut 6 minutes off my time (1:13 down from 1:19 before) – all from the bike and run sections. The swim was a bit disappointing as I HATED the way my wet suit felt in the water. Turns out it’s too big and there was lots of air between me and the suit all accumulating around my shoulders and back. It made my stroke feel off and my arms tired. Good I found this out now since this is the wetsuit I was going to wear in Philadelphia. Now I’ve got to figure out what to do about it. At Topsail, I ended up breaststroking a lot of the way. Plus, the waves were big and I thought it was harder getting in and out of the water to get to a calm place to swim. Despite all that though my swim time turned out to be exactly the same (to the second!) as last time I did this race. Odd.

Then I shaved at least a minute off each 4 mile bike section and a minute off each mile of the run. I think my transitions were faster too. All in all I was pleased. I was fourth in my age group but in the spirit of full disclosure I should tell you that there were only four of us in my age group! Turns out my age group is pretty competitive though. Had I been in some of the younger age groups where there were many more people I would’ve easily placed in the top three. Strange that us older ladies are fewer but faster. Also, had I entered as a novice female, which I felt I shouldn’t do since I’d actually done one triathlon before, I actually would’ve won that category! Anyway, I was solidly in the middle of the pack. 30th out of 60 women to be exact which is much better than I anticipated and nothing to be ashamed of for sure. I was really pleased to see my run and bike times improve and I know I felt better at the end than I did the first time. I wasn’t even sore the next day which goes to show you regular training is helpful (!).

Other than the fact that I hate my wetsuit, the biggest lesson I learned is to check out the finish line before the race. Turns out this finish line was not where I thought it was. I crossed over a little platform where I heard my timer chip beep (like it did at ever transition spot) and a guy called out my name. I thought I was done so I raised my arms in victory and walked slowly forward. Turns out the finish line was still a few yards away. Mom, Dave and others were telling me to run and I was arguing with them saying I was done already. The picture below shows me at my imaginary finish line where I came to a grinding halt!

topsail-may-07-006.jpgI suspect this story may get embellished as time goes on. I’m already telling people that must have cost me several minutes on my overall time. It’s my story and I’m sticking with it!

So, now back to the grindstone with less than 5 more weeks to go before Phili where the race is more than twice what I did this weekend. Better get to it.

Training Update – 5 weeks to go!

May 17, 2007

You may remember that when I started this blog it was to record and update my training progress, but as you can see I got a bit off track. It seemed a record of things like the number of miles I ran, etc. just seemed boring and even I didn’t want to read about that. Lately though lots of folks have been asking how my training is going and the triathlon is quickly approaching so I thought it is about time for an update on my progress.

First I can’t believe how the time has flown by. Seemed like I just started this whole thing but I know a lot of time and miles have passed – 14 weeks down to be exact. When I first started this back in February I glanced ahead at some of the later workouts with fear and a bit of skepticism at the idea that I would actually do some of those. But, here I am, actually doing the miles and doing them pretty well.

In case you are interested in the nitty gritty details, although every week is a little different in workout duration and intensity,  I am now generally running and biking three times a week, swimming twice and trying to squeeze in a strength training session each week as well. The running has built up to 6 miles and the biking up to 25 with swims as long as 2000 meters. On the two days I don’t work (Mon and Thurs) I do two things – biking and swimming this past Monday for instance and running and swimming on Thursdays, and on other days I run or bike only. I still meet up with the team for a group work out on Saturday mornings. I try to take two days off a week if possible and never run two days in a row. I think this rest time has been crucial to prevent injuries and save my knees. I do less swimming than biking or running because it is my strength. I swam in high school and feel pretty good about swimming. It is also the shortest portion of the race and improving in the swim (which I’m unlikely to do anyway) won’t buy me much overall. My goal with the swim is to finish the 1500 meters feeling like I’ve done nothing yet so I have energy left for the bike and run. The run will take it all out of me.

Last Saturday’s group workout was another “brick” with biking and then running. It was our longest thus far and basically was the same as the race we will do without the swim. We biked 25 miles down to Jordan Lake and then ran 6. I felt surprisingly good the whole time and was thrilled with the sense of accomplishment at the end. I have learned the benefit of strategic fueling along the way with Gu products (Vanilla Bean flavor with caffeine is my favorite) along with something to eat before the workout of course. That really seems to prevent that total body exhaustion I had felt in prior long bricks and I hope it helps in the race too.

It has been an amazing experience so far – a true mental and physical challenge. With a life as busy as mine filled with lots of day to day “fires” to put out it was easy to never try anything new or push myself in a different way. I think I used to do this more as a kid – learning something new or trying something different, and I’m enjoying that sense of accomplishment I had missed. And… in addition to being good for me, I’m now pushing $7000 raised for the LLS (the website is very slow to show it all) which is unbelievable.

So, in the spirit of further challenge, I’m off this weekend to Topsail Beach to do a sprint triathlon. It is shorter than our big one in June and arranged a bit differently but it will allow for good practice swimming in open water, putting the wetsuit on and off and transitioning from the bike to run (twice!) plus it will allow me to judge how far I’ve come and feel good about it. I did this race before two years ago (first and only triathlon so far) and I expect to blow my old time out of the water, but we’ll see. I’m fighting a bad cold and sore throat so I’m ready with my excuses. Even if the race goes badly it’ll certainly be fun to be back at Surf City where I spent many wonderful childhood days and hang out with my extended family for the weekend. I’ll try to post a picture or at least update when we’re back. Thanks for all the support!

The little match girls

May 14, 2007

Back when I was pregnant with Meg and first discovered I was going to have another girl I immediately thought of dressing the two of them up in matching outfits for holidays and photos. I couldn’t help it. Maybe it was the hormones. Anyway, when Meg arrived she came with her own surprises and in the thick of other more important matters I quickly forgot all about the matching outfits. It seemed trivial in the great scheme of things.

As they’ve gotten older though, I admit I do buy them matching dresses on occasion as do their grandmothers. Perhaps it fulfills some sort of fantasy of the perfect family with the two beautiful perfect girls – one big and one small. For Mother’s Day this year, Dave secretly took the girls to Picture People and had a lovely photo made of them in matching Hanna Andersson dresses I recently ordered. This is a much more difficult feat than you might imagine since it involved schlepping them both to Southpoint mall.  Parking there on a Saturday is enough to wear your patience even without two kids in tow. Then trying to make both of them photogenic, which doesn’t run in their genes on either side, is no small task. Meg is especially hard since the usual attempts to get her attention are generally less likely to work. I’ve watched those photographers almost perform circus acts while she stares off to the side as if nothing was happening. But, Dave did it! He managed to get not just one but two nice poses of both girls looking almost catalog perfect and it made a great surprise present for me yesterday.

I would download the perfect little girls photo here if I had a scanner – and any technical skills whatsoever, but I think the one I managed to download here is more appropriate anyway. This one is of Eden and Meg last week wearing their matching horsey tee shirts that Eden picked out during her birthday shopping trip last December. She was so thrilled to find tee shirts with both horses AND glitter! She was even more excited to discover a size for Meg too. I was a bit horrified but bit my tongue. Eden prefers what I consider the Princess/Vegas Showgirl/Deadhead look – imagine glitter and sequins on prarie skirts and tank tops with some butterflies or unicorns printed on it and you’ve got the idea. Those of you who know me know this was not my influence. Dave lovingly calls me “monochrome” since for me to wear something with more than one color is really getting wild. My wardrobe tends to consist of Lands End sweater sets and sweaty work out clothes. Anyway, as long as Eden is not showing too much skin or endangering herself in some way, I don’t fight it. She is who she is after all, just like Meg. So, I really love this photo because it’s the anti-catalog children. I was a lucky Mom on mother’s day because my children are real and wonderful and everything I ever wanted, but didn’t know it. Hanna might not be proud, but I sure am!  img_1174.jpg


May 6, 2007

Meg’s got a new perspective too - glasses!I’ve been thinking about this word, perspective, and found one particular definition I like.. the ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or level of importance.

This is something I really didn’t have as a teenager and probably not as a twenty-something. I wish sometimes I could go back and relive a day or two at various ages but take my thirty-seven year old perspective with me. I think I’d have more fun than I did then.

Perspective is something I’ve gained with age and time and unfortunately, with difficult circumstances. It helps me see the small stuff for what it is and let it go. There’s been a lot of small stuff lately – gripes at work, GI viruses, dental work, etc. but the impact of each is short and fleeting.

Having a clearer perspective and a handle on what really matters is freeing and grounding for me. Did it come after Meg was born? Maybe.. I know that certainly helped me redefine my goals and thoughts about being a parent. Once I had a child who will never be “perfect” I learned to appreciate my kids for new reasons and accept imperfections as part of life. That was hard for a type A competitive person like myself. Did it come after Dave was diagnosed with lymphoma? Maybe.. I know those little irritating parts of living in the same household aren’t so irritating anymore. When Dave leaves the kitchen cabinet doors open after taking something out of them, as he is so prone to do, I often smile and think “Dave’s been here this morning” – rather than “Damn, why can’t he close those cabinets?!”.

Maybe it’s just come with age and with living, but whatever the reason I know it’s helped me live happier and better lately. It’s what helped me choose better friendships, say no to things when I don’t have time, ignore people and circumstances that are negative and unhelpful, and even sign up for something I never thought I could do – an olympic distance triathlon! So, would I choose different circumstances in my life? Of course, I’m not that foolish, but, I’d sure like to keep this same perspective!

Did you notice Meg’s new perspective? Glasses!