Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Walk of Pain ( I mean, shame)

I'm done.
I HATE triathlons!
I'm out.
When does the "fun" start?
I quit.

That was my thought process on Sunday as I miserably and painfully trudged through the 13.1 mile "run" portion of the South Carolina Half Iron man. My worst ever run a reality.

I texted Ryan after finishing: Horrible-worst race of my life. Never again!

But now with a few days distance-- but mostly because I can now walk without shooting pain from my feet and think I have not suffered permanent injury-- I can talk about the race in a better light.

Make no mistake.

I am utterly devastated by my performance. I absolutely want a do-over but sadly that isn't going to happen anytime soon because as soon as my feet are better I am going to dive head first into marathon training and pray and keep my fingers crossed that I get to have good race sometime this fall.

My silver lining is that you gotta have a bad race to really appreciate the great ones. Right?

And me? In retrospect. I think I've had more good races than bad. I just don't race enough so when that bad one comes along it is a bit harder to mentally get over it.

And if I don't have a good race then I am done racing. Maybe it just isn't something I do well and while not always the brightest Crayola in the pack I am smart enough to not keep up the motions of the Sisyphean stone.

Whatever. I so totally not smart.

Remember: Moth to a flame.

Damn me for writing this crap down. Ink is so freaking permanent and it always stains.

Okay, so here are the basics:

1.2 mile swim: 35 minutes 48 seconds. 1:40 per 100yds
T1: 2:26
56 mile bike: 3:07:43 17.9 mph
T2: 2:20
13.1 mile run: 2:22
Final time: 6:10:14

As the physical pain from the race fades I am able to get back to the fact that until the run I was having a PREFECT race. And yes, I knew it during the race too. And I was VERY, very happy about it.
This was only my second triathlon ever. My first a women's only sprint over a year ago.

But oh boy.The run. Did it ever disappoint.

You know. The only part of the race that mattered to me and where I really had expectations--expectations that I trained hard for, have experience in and expected without a shadow of doubt to meet them--was so awful I don't know if I will ever be able to get past it. It was by far, hands down the absolute worst, most painful and frustrating run of my entire life. The experience has left me seriously questioning my abilities as a runner. And because of that I am having a hard time getting past my disappointment. I am just embarrassed and sad about it.

Having said that I will now move on to bore you to tears with all the tiny details of a "race report." Read on, or move on to another blog where the blogger is a successful and happy triathlete. Me? I'm bitter and bitchy and a total Debbie Downer.

The weekend began Saturday where I completely lost my shit because one of my tires was flat.
The one that I changed.
I insisted on having new tubes put on both wheels. I wanted to take it to a "professional" but Ryan took offense and insisted he could do it. You would have thought I told him he didn't have a penis or asked him to hand over his man card the way he was so adamant about him changing it. I wondered out loud if it was going to bother him that it would be his name that I cursed out loud on the course if I got a flat and he said he wouldn't mind a single bit since he wouldn't be there to hear it.

After new tubes and packing up Ryan and the kids dropped me at Steph and Doug's. Ryan warned Doug about how awesome I am on a car ride and told him to not let me have any water. We made the 3+ hour boring ride to Greenwood, SC and as it was Steph who had to pee first so we didn't have to stop because of me. Just saying.

Upon arriving in Greenwood we went first to packet pick up. I was really sad to be given a purple swim cap. I really think purple is just such an unfortunate color but what can you do--all the girls were purple (well except the really fast ones. Must work on being really fast so I will not have to don the purple. Lots of work to do.).

We scoped out the transition area and the swim.
Steph and I poked our toes in the water.
It felt about 80 degrees to me but magically by that evening the water cooled to 73 degrees to make it wetsuit legal. Didn't matter for me since I had no wetsuit.

Then we went to check out the transition area and figure out where our racks would be. I was smack in the middle. Doug and Steph were near the swim finish. Steph was just happy to be near the johnny on the spots.

I practiced running from the swim finish to my bike rack and then to the bike/run start from my rack. I really think that made a HUGE difference in my transition performance. Not. Though I did not have any problem remembering where my bike was--it being one of the onlies without aerobars and all.

After Steph made Doug drive the run course so she could know where all the johnny on the spots were we went straight to Outback Steak's for dinner. Steak and sweet potatoes and, of course, beer.

After dinner we checked into our hotel. The Clarion. Clean. Nice and not so quiet. I was very aware of what everyone was doing all nice. Apparently everyone else needed to get and pee a million times too.

I got in bed at 8 pm and read but I don't think I really fell asleep until after 9 and then, of course, I woke up and pee'd every hour until 4 am when I got up to get dressed.

I forced down a whole wheat bagel with some peanut butter and ate a small bowl of dry Uncle Sam's cereal. Then I drank lots of water and a cup of coffee. After stretching for a bit it was time to go. I met Steph and Doug in the lobby and we drove to race site. I took my picture in the car on the way there. See how smart I was to bring a headlamp? See how happy I look?

What an idiot.

I don't know why I thought we would be early but we weren't. At all. We got there just before 6 am (when transition opened) and had to park what seemed like a million miles away from transition. Kevin, a fellow blogger, happened to park right next to us. Be sure to check out his blog for more race pictures. I am coming in right before him on the bike.

I went to work right away setting up my transition. I was all business (read sarcasm). I was the second one there on my rack so I had the opportunity to ask the poor guy next me lots of questions. He was really nice and patiently and politely answered them. There was a girl trying to meditate near me and I saw her try to muffle a laugh a few times at some of my, I am certain, very intelligent questions.

Wow! Look how much stuff I have.
There was lots to do: body marking, getting chip, pee (a lot), and worst of all get weighed! It was awful. I weighed 8 lbs more than I had the week before when I was at the doctor for a check up. Talk about carbo loading! Needless to say I could have done without knowing that. Immediately I felt way fat in my spandex, cause, well, I was. Ugh. Reality is a beotch.
I spent the rest of the time obsessing about my fatness and trying to burn some of it off by chatting with fellow triathletes, zipping around transition and dancing to the blaring techno music.

Finally at 7:20 it was time for us to make our way to the swim. I took this picture right before walking over there. Goggles. Pretty, I know. Just wait for the next one for what I look like after I take the goggles off. . .

Walking over to the swim I thought about all the other things that might be more fun than a half iron man; backpacking for 3 days without toilet paper, toothpicks under the fingernails, a week in a Peruvian prison, a 50 mile trail run in an ice storm . . .

I got to watch everyone finish struggling into their wetsuits and counted the 20 or so of us that were braving it without one. I tried to listen to what the director was saying but I couldn't hear anything--I think I had my purple swim cap pulled too tightly over my ears. But some guy managing the swim explained the course for me and I am so glad he did because I totally would have been swimming in the wrong direction. I am sure I would have figured it out.

The first group to go was all the professionals and then I had to wait for 3 or 4 other groups to go. All us purple caps were told to get in the water. We had to walk down some stone steps and then jump off the wall into the water. Then we had to tread water for what seemed like 5 minutes. I am sure it wasn't really that long and I didn't care anyway since I was thrilled that I didn't have to touch the creepy lake bottom. Already off to a good start! I wasn't cold at all either--another bonus and I was totally ready to swim. Yay swimming.

The foghorn went and we all started swimming. I purposely reigned it in since even in the pool I have a tendency to go a little crazy on that first 100. Well before I reached the first buoy I was well in front of the main pack and definitely behind the super speedsters. I was in a nice little empty pocket by myself. After I made the turn at the first buoy I caught up with the stragglers from the wave that had gone 4 minutes before ours. I never felt particularly crowded but I definitely made an effort to avoid the swimmers doing breast stroke. Nothing like a leg jab to the flank to ruin a good swim.

After awhile I didn't see any purple caps but only bright blue and light blue and then white caps. I did see one guy with a snorkel and I had to lift my head up and make sure that is what I really saw. Yep, guy with snorkel and swim mask. I didn't know that was allowed! Gave me a good laugh and was glad there were other non hard core athletes out there too.

I picked it up in the final 500 and was elated to be done. Time had flown by and upon exiting I heard someone say "Wow! And she doesn't even have a wetsuit." I certainly wasn't the first or fastest girl by any means but I think I was probably the first purple cap girl out of the water sans wetsuit. It ain't much but after how the run went down I'll take whatever compliment I can get.

I ran to my rack and I took this picture. Brace yourself, it is a little scary.

I put my helmet on first and then socks and bike shoes (no flying mount or dismount for me), glasses and gloves, grabbed my peanut butter crackers and ran out of transition. I waited until they told me I could get on my bike and then I was off.

And then I got passed. A lot. By everyone. Only one girl passed me in the first 5 or so miles but after the ten mile point lots of girls passed me. And then people kept right on passing me until around 45 or so miles and then at the end I did start passing people that had passed me--but not many and that was only because they slowed down. I was very even paced the whole time.

It was really, really depressing to get passed so much but there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. No one believes me but I saw 2 different people snicker at my bike. Now, I don't know for a fact they were laughing at my bike but they looked at my bike and then me and then chuckled. So I am pretty sure it was either the bike or my fatness. So I was a little sad on the bike. It was lonely. 56 miles is a long way with no one to chat with and no music. So I ate a lot of snacks for entertainment: 2 packages of peanut butter crackers, 3 gu's, HEED and water. Lots of water.

Luckily the bike was for the most part uneventful but also, unfortunately, quite boring. I kinda was holding my breath the whole time and was just saying please don't get a flat, please don't wreck over and over again. It was by far the easiest 56 mile course I have ridden as far as elevation goes. I never once had to get out of the saddle. The road itself was quite bumpy but so long as I didn't get a flat I didn't care.

The only thing that perpetually annoyed me--besides just getting passed by everyone--was having someone pass and then whip right in front of me and put me in a draft zone; thus forcing me to drop back and go slower to avoid getting a penalty. Then they would decide to eat a snack and would slow down. So of course I would pass them knowing that in a few minutes they would pass me again. Why in the world would you not wait until after your snack to pass someone? I just found it very obnoxious. Not to mention there were several times it happened when the penalty lady was going by so I had to be very vigilant and drop back. Last thing I needed was a 4 minute penalty for drafting when I was already getting my ass handed to me.

I did pick up the pace a tiny bit at the end because I was so excited to be done. I was feeling good and was eager to get off the bike and run. Not that I necessarily was dying to run but I knew that I would be that much closer to being done. Which was what I really wanted.

Here is the picture I took right before heading out for the run. I think this might be the last time I smiled all day.

I ran out transition with so much optimism. I reminded myself I could run no faster than an 8:30 pace until mile 3--as I had practiced in my mini triathlons I've done for the past 5 Fridays--and then I could continue to pick up the pace. I felt pretty good for the first quarter mile and then I hit the tiniest of uphills. My calves immediately locked up and I slowed it down to 9:30 miles. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath and vowed to keep running through it. It hurt so bad! A minute later I was walking. I just absolutely cannot run when my calves are locked. I was so, so mad! But I decided I would stop to pee as I did kinda have to go. I figured that would get my heart rate down and I would feel more comfortable and could maybe better run. I knew time wise I would good.

So after a bit of the walk/run shuffle a potty appeared and I ducked in. I came out and gingerly started to run. I was into the second mile and out on the stretch of the course that was in the blazing sun. It was hot but not really all that bad. My calves were starting to relax and I tried to run and find my pace. I thought I was doing pretty good and then I looked down: 6:56. Damn it! Didn't feel like that so I reeled it in and I checked again still in the low 7's. I realized then that I wasn't feeling either of my feet. So weird. My calves started hurting and I had this crazy shooting pain in my hip. So I started walking. Everything below the waist just hurt.

By mile 3 I was ready to quit. Doug passed me at this point and I told him as much. He said "whatever" not at all believing me. I continued to struggle with my numb feet and did the run/walk shuffle. And believe me, I wasn't the only one. There were more people shuffling that actually running. And I saw so many people pass me in compression socks that I started jonesing big time for mine. I don't think they would have made a difference but at the time maybe.

In the fourth mile I stopped and took off my shoes. I wanted to check my feet. I still could not feel them at all and it was totally freaking me out. The feeling in the right was starting to come back but the left one I could not even feel my fingers touching it. Everything below the ankle on the left side was completely numb. (Right side just the toes.)It felt from the ankle down like I had a wooden block for a foot. And well, that is a little scary when you actually still have a foot there and not a wooden block.

Everyone around me, despite their apparent discomfort, were so amazingly encouraging. Keep going forward. You can do it! You look great! Keep it up! I wanted to smack them all.

What the hell is wrong with these people, I thought. Clearly they look as miserable as me, some even more so--especially the ones that I passed puking or limping worse than I was-- but they were all so much more determined. I just wanted to quit. I started trying to form a plan on how you quit.

By mile 5 my feet were still numb and Steph caught up to me. She was the biggest ball of joy you have every seen. I started to tell her all my maladies and she exchanged with me about her GI issues. I told her I was going to quit but she didn't believe me either. She left me when I stopped yet again to take off my shoe and look at my foot.

So puzzling. I could move it but not feel it. I kept trying to run but it was so awkward and uncomfortable and really made my hip and other leg hurt. I guess from the awkward stride. You really do need to feel your feet to run I think.

By the end of the 6th mile the feeling was back in both my feet and it was like little knifes were stabbing me and sending electric shocks up my leg. I have never ever, in the 6 marathons I have run, 11 half marathons, and countless 10k's and long training runs ever experienced anything like it. There were a few times it was so painful I started to cry. Then I would walk and chide myself and curse that I was having such a terrible run. I was so, so angry because I had trained so hard and so specifically to be able to run well. It was really the focus of my training. It was like having studied hard for a test and you get wrong all the material you studied and right the stuff you'd never even seen before. Really, really pissed me off.

I hated every second of the run. I so very very much wanted to quit. At every aid station I looked for medical personal but saw none. I just felt completely abandoned on the course. I kept up with the forward progression but I walked most of every single mile. I don't think managed to run at all for more than 3-5 minutes at a time. I could never get a rhythm, I couldn't divorce myself from the pain and all I could do was obsess and worry that I was doing permanent damage.

I honestly have no idea how I made it 13.1 miles but I did. I ran across the finish line and went directly to the medical tent. But they made me get on the scale first. Oh the insults never ended. Guess what? I had lost half a pound. They all seemed so proud of me. But I pointed out to them that I was swollen:my fingers looked like sausages in casings. My legs had no muscular definition and I knew my feet were badly swollen. That gained me entrance into the tent and I went straight to a cot in front of a fan and laid down.

They kept asking me what was wrong but all I could say was my feet hurt. Some very kind and brave lady took my shoes off and commented that my feet were very swollen and put ice on them for me. Ah, happiness. . .

I don't know how long I laid there but after my feet were cold and numb I put my shoes on and left the tent. I found Steph and Doug and then told anyone who would listen how that was by far the most miserable experience of my life.

And you know what? It still is. That run was just horrible. But the knots in my arches are almost completely gone and I can stand on my feet without pain. Yesterday I ran and there was some tenderness in the arches and on the outside of my foot but no numbness and today they feel pretty good. So while I am sad about my race I am very happy I made it through it without serious injury and can now move onto marathon training.

I don't know what marathon to do. My plan had been Chickamuaga as a training race and then Rocket City in mid December as my "A" race but that seems far off and quite honestly I don't know if I want to spend the money to travel and then have a bad race. I think Chickamuaga might be too soon for me to pull out a good race. So then I think about doing the Atlanta full instead of the half on Thanksgiving. But oh boy, that last 10k uphill is just setting myself up for a bad race I think. Suggestions? Just give it up???

At the very least I am officially signed up for the Silver Comet half marathon at the end of the month. I typically have a good race at the Silver Comet races so I am cautiously optimistic. . .

Lastly, congrats to all my friends that did South Carolina. I am so proud of all of you and I again apologize for being such a whiner.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Gas Crisis

In case you haven't heard, or are not from the metro Atlanta area, we have been suffering a gas crisis. I am not certain exactly when the crisis started but I noticed Monday that the stations were starting to run out of gas and there were really long lines just waiting to get gas.

I only had a 1/4 tank Monday so I went and found a station and got gas. There was no line at the particular station I went to but there was also only regular. While pumping I saw lots of Mercedes, Lexus and BMW's pull in and then pull right out in search of their premium gas. Lucky I am poor and just drive a Ford. I also got to pay $3.99 gal. A verified bargain after yesterday I noted those stations around me that had gas regular was going for $4.29 a gal.

So with my full tank I headed back home and that got me thinking. It really is ridiculous that I have to get in my car and drive just a few miles I have to do errands like go to the bank, grocery store, take kids on play dates etc. Especially since I am fully capable of running over 20 miles and/or can ride my bike even further.

The problem is, of course, what to do with the kids. I mean a 6 mile round trip run to the grocery store or bank isn't a big deal for me but for the kids it would be tough. Sure they could ride their bikes but it is pretty hilly and not very safe--even on the sidewalk.

Then it hit me.

What I need is a rickshaw!

Think about it.

I could get in marathon training and save money! Oh, and you know, help the environment. The buzz slogan is "Go Green!" right?

So, how's that for multi-tasking?

The kids could do their homework while I was getting my workout in and running errands. Heck, I could even pack a meal for them and they could eat their snacks or dinner while ran around town getting my workout in and running errands. I could even figure out a way to hook Lola to it and she could help me with the load and get her exercise in.

Of course, I would have to get a rickshaw that had a trunk so I could cart the groceries home. I'd probably have to put a cooler in there too so that stuff wouldn't spoil.

Details. Details. . .

Yesterday though, as I drove both kids to their gymnastics class in Roswell, it occurred to me that time might be the limiting factor in my rickshaw plan.

It is 10-11 miles to the gymnastic facility. The fastest I have run 12 miles in recent time is just under an hour and thirty minutes. And that was on a flat trail. I think pulling a rickshaw up hill--not to mention the load that will easily be over a hundred pounds with both kids-- might slow me down a little.

So I figure it will take at least 2 hours to get the kids to their gymnastic class. Doable, but I would have to check them out of school early since gymnastics starts at 4 pm. This will also be a problem since we will barely make it home by their bedtime. I guess I could pack their pj's and we could stop by Lala's on the way home from gymnastics and get them a bath. Could work.

Again, details.

So I was telling Ryan about my rickshaw idea and I thought he would totally appreciate my innovative solution. But he was very unhappy to hear about it.

He said: No. Absolutely not. No rickshaw. I do not want to be married to a woman that looks like a dude.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Cue Music

Last night I dreamed that the half iron man took me over 9 hours to complete. 7 hours were on the bike. For 56 miles. It didn't even take me 7 hours to ride 100 miles but whatever. I am losing it. Good news is (in my dream at least) my swim and run totally rocked.

But you know, if you are finishing a half ironman in 9 hours it really doesn't matter how fast you swim or run because you just plain suck. Especially since the cut off time is 8 hours.


And the whole wetsuit thing admittedly has me totally freaked out. And I very very much appreciate all the people--even those who don't really know me--that have emailed me and offered to lend me their suits. Triathletes are way nice, is all I can say.

In my fit of panic yesterday, while Ryan and I were at REI getting stuff I found a wetsuit on the clearance rack in my size. It was the only wetsuit in the whole store. Knowing all that I know about wetsuits (uhm, nothing) I figured it might work. So I bought it and figured I would look online and ask around if it would work.

The opinions I got were a resounding no with some kindly optimistic "try it out and see and return it if not" suggestions.

Steph and Doug allowed me to come along and practice wetsuit fun in their neighborhood pool this morning.

You know, I am constantly finding myself in the position that I might be interrupting some some afternoon (or in this case morning) delight plans they might have.

But I guess until they blatantly tell me to get lost they are stuck with me.

I pretty much knew as soon as I had on my suit which took all of one minute and was 5 minutes after Doug had started putting on his suit and was still struggling with his--that mine wasn't going to work.

It was too easy to put on.

But that just gave me time to take pictures of them while they struggled into theirs.
Another difference I noted was that mine only took me to put on.
They needed each other to get theirs on.

See why I think I might be foiling some husband and wife plans?

Nevertheless I gamely hopped in the pool and swam a 50. I knew it wasn't going to work at all. I especially didn't like that it had water in it ( which Doug and Steph said was normal but it felt like too much). I am not certain it weighed me down so much but it definitely didn't make me feel buoyant. I felt slower. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. But I didn't feel that I-am-wetsuit-I-am-faster-magic everyone keeps yammering on about. I could see the buoyant thing working for Doug and Steph. They floated. I had to use my arms and legs and body to, you know, get it through and on top of the water. I think that is the part they refer to as "swimming."

I stripped out of it and swam 2000 yds sans suit--wait, I did have my swim suit on. Good news is the water was much colder than any water I ever swim in and I was fine so I am a teeny tiny bit hopeful that I will be okay without a suit.

So what if I am last because I am not wearing a wetsuit.

Doug suggested I call everyone wearing one a cheater. And I thought I might even say here "kitty kitty kitty" too as well.

But the fun didn't end with the swim. So besides my swim and the trail run I did before meeting Steph and Doug I got in another cool workout today.

All I can say is please dear baby Jesus do not let me get a flat tire.

Okay, I lied. I totally have a lot more to say than that.

You bitches totally lied to me. It is not easy. It is totally worth it, not to mention faster, to drive over to Roswell bikes and pay them 12 dollars to do it.

But for your entertainment I had Ryan photograph the evidence that I learned how to change a bike tire.

Please note that there is no video. And that is because the amount of cussing and yelling that went into putting the tire and tube on the wheel would probably have my blog flagged for inappropriate material. But to my defense I only had one melt down where I came inside to consult and then cuss out while I watched this youtube video (which I had used as my guidance).

Here I am getting down to business:
Happy am I! Got wheel off. Ryan took it off for me and I made him put it back on so I could take it off all by myself.
I. Did. It!

Putting tube and tire back on the rim.
This is the beginning of where I start to lose my shit.

The kids got onto me to "keep it together". Oh, and they were running all around me while this was going on. Like clowns I tell you.
I figured it might sort of simulate race conditions to have pandemonium going on so I didn't tell them to get lost.
But boy. Was I pissed. Not easy. At all. Liars!
See this face? This is that look I give that scares the kids into acting good.
It is not a happy face.
But I got the tube and tire on the wheel and then the wheel back on my bike. I am thinking though I should take it to my friends at Roswell Bikes just to make sure I have it on right.

The real question now is if I get a flat will I have the energy to ride my bike after I change a tire?
No, probably not.
And that my friends, I am guessing, is how a 7 hour bike will go down.

Please baby Jesus do not let me get a flat tire.

Monday, September 22, 2008

So I Can Swim . . .

I went for my open water swim yesterday morning . . .

and all is good.

Getting there yesterday though I had my doubts.

It was a morning of signs-that-point-to-that-maybe-this-isn't-such-great-idea-after all.

Night before we had attended Tara's daughter's 2nd birthday party.

I know.

You are thinking: 2 year old birthday party, whatever.


The party was not so much for Ellie. Started at 4pm: we left at 10pm. And that is only because I was designated driver and I wanted to go to bed. Ryan and kids were a bit argumentative about--in their opinion--cutting the night early.

So I went to bed around midnight. Ugh.

I got up around 6 am. I wasn't meeting the group at Red Top Mountain Lodge until 8:30 am but I like to have time to wake up.

I left at 7:30 am and headed up hwy 92 to 75. I note, a bit unhappily, that the temperature displayed on my dash is 59 degrees. Great. I am going to be cold.

Did I mention I don't have a wetsuit?

Well, I don't.

And for the record I would really appreciate if everyone else racing at the South Carolina 70.3 next weekend would also NOT wear their wetsuits. You know. Just so it is fair.

Oh. And it would also be great if everyone else would race on an entry level road bike rather than their regular fancy tri bikes.


Never hurts to ask, right . . .

So yeah, anyway . . . I figured my race in a week might very well be in the high 50's at the start so I might as well get use to it. It will be good practice, I told myself. Maybe even build character, I thought. Right? Isn't that what miserable situations do????

While driving I was checking my phone for messages and my phone died. It would power on and say "Welcome to T-mobile!" And then it would say "Goodbye!"
No, not goodbye.
No, no, no, no. . .

I have terrible luck with all electronics: Garmin, mp3 players, computers, etc but cell phones are the worst. I just don't understand it. Do not ever lend me anything. I will break it. I will try not to but apparently me and careful are archenemies.

The good news is that my phone is not broken after all.

Apparently, you have to actually plug in the phone charger for it to charge your phone. Just saying in case you didn't know that either. Der.

At any rate I didn't have my phone to drive up to meet the group for an open water swim in North Georgia. And I was by myself. Not having my phone in situations like that makes me nervous. Not that my phone has the power of Wonder Woman's bracelet or her lasso of truth but I like knowing that I can call people. You know, like 911.

So while I am fiddling with my phone I realize the exit I needed to get onto 75N from hwy 92 was closed. I obediently followed the detour-- South!!!

I wanted to go NORTH!

I kept looking at all the people going north and desperately wanted to be one of them. I hate that I'm-trapped-on-the-freeway-going-the-wrong-way feeling. Especially when it is for real.

Finally the next exit appeared (5 miles down the road) and got off and back on 75 so I could go north. Very frustrating.

After about 5 minutes I saw the sign for my exit "Glade Road Next Exit". Oh so happy am I. Almost there!

But wait. What's this? No, no, no, no. Exit Closed. Are you kidding. Why? Why does the universe not want me to swim? Why does my phone not work so I can't at least call someone ask what to do.

Detour. Again.

So I unhappily pass the Glade Road exit and get off at the next exit--about 5 miles down the road-- and go back SOUTH down 75 to the south bound Glade Road exit--which at the time I wasn't so sure it was going to be open. But it was. Thank you baby Jesus.

So I get to the lodge surprisingly on time. Happy am I to see Sarah's car and then I spot Wes as I am paying my parking fee. Relief washes over. People. I know. Yay! Rest of the group though does not show. . .

I was also happy to find that I was not cold. And the water was perfect. Could have even stood to be a little colder. I imagine that Wes and Sarah were maybe a little warm in their wetsuits.

Touching creepy lake bottom was still, well, creepy. But that was absolutely the only terrible thing about the swim. Rest was good. Well, I could have been much faster but I wasn't really trying for fast yesterday (and no worries, I wasn't). I just wanted to get an idea of what a long open water swim felt like.

At first I was confused about where we were swimming. Once I understood where and which pile of rocks I became more comfortable and stopped using Wes as my sight object. I was surprised to find, once at the rocks that we had just swam 800 meters and it had been 15 minutes. I thought I had been swimming for only 5 minutes. Cool. Time flies in open water.

I say this because 5 minutes in the pool will feel like an eternity to me. In the pool I don't even consider the distance until I am at the 1000 yd mark. In the pool that is usually 17 minutes in and even then I think: Oh sweet baby Jesus. I have to go another 1000 yds (at least) and I am so unbelievably bored. See, and that is why I was worried about the swim. I thought it was going to feel like forever. I don't even mind if it takes forever. Just so long as it doesn't feel like it. Anytime I have to consider time I have a problem. I just don't appreciate the feeling of time creeping by. I like it to fly by. Even when having fun.

Though I will say that looking up while swimming in a lake definitely lends itself to the feeling that you are not moving. After noting this sensation I started counting strokes and looked up every 20 or so just so I felt like I was making some headway. Worked much better.

Oh, and best of all I didn't have to worry about counting laps. I have such a hard time with that in the pool.

So anyway. We swam to the rock and back and then Wes and I swam to the dock and back. Sarah swam to a log or some other point in the cove while we did that.

Since there was only 3 of us we tried to stay together for the most part. So I did some back tracking a few times. Swim ahead, swim back and then ahead. It was all fine. Wes says easily the distance was 2000 meters and we swam for 45 minutes total. Since I know I can do that distance in the pool in under 35 minutes I should hope that in the race my time in the water will be a good bit less than 45 minutes but if it isn't, 45 minutes didn't feel at all like forever so I suppose it will be what it will be. But, yeah. I hope it will be faster for reasons previously stated.

I don't think I have talked about time goals specifically for this race other than to try and finish under 6 hours. And that is mostly because I just can't fathom doing anything for any longer than that.

So that is my goal: sub 6.

Geez that sounds ridiculously like forever.

Based on what I do in training I know I am capable of faster but putting it all together, well that is the mystery and most decidedly, the hard part. So yeah, I hope to be faster than 6 hours but am not optimistic about it.

If you wanted me to break it down I would say my goals are this:
under 40 minutes for the swim.
3 hours and 15 minutes for the bike.
one hour and 50 minutes for the run.
That leaves me 15 minutes for transitions, potty breaks, melt downs, fixing a flat(that I won't know how to fix), and whatever else might come my way.

Best-case-scenario-dream-race that isn't going to happen? Oh well, that would be this:
35 minute swim
3 hour bike
1:45 run <--- okay really I want to run sub 1:40 and I could if I didn't have to ride my damn bike and swim before it. But apparently in a triathlon they require you to do those things first.

But that ain't gonna happen so I'm not even considering it because I think I will be lucky just to finish in one piece.

And I promise.

I will be happy if do.

Finish in one piece that is.

So now I just have to try and get through this week on minimal workouts and not ruin myself. And that is going to be hard. Very, very hard. This great fall weather is leaving me jonesing for a 21 mile run.

Oh, and one last thing, the pictures are not from yesterday. They are from 2 weeks ago and are for Lala and those that only read my blog because they like to look at pictures. We did go to the lake yesterday but my camera was uncooperative. Again. I am not so good with electronics.

Friday, September 19, 2008

All the Pieces of the Puzzle

Are coming together.

There is one final one to put in there before I will call the picture of--for me--near perfect training done.

Still gotta do that open water swim. . .

I am a little ill about it, to be perfectly honest.

I have no doubts that I can swim the distance. I swim it regularly.
But in a pool.
And well, the race part does have me a bit nervous too.

Sure I was competitive swimmer once upon a time 25 years ago but even then I got to have my own lane-- in a pool. And sure, I clearly remember getting kicked in the face and swam over in practice but again: in a pool.

A pool where only a leg's length separated me from stopping and standing up to adjust goggles, catch my breath or whatever. Not to mention that every 25 yds (or 50meters depending if it is long or short course) a wall was forth coming. There is a bit of comfort in doing a 5k swim and knowing that every 25 yds you get to touch a solid surface.

So yesterday as I did my final self imposed mini triathlon I played out in my head all my race anxieties-- as if just thinking about them would make it all a little better.

No, not so much.

As I swam my 1600 yds back and forth, back and forth I thought about how I am still scared that I am going to crash my bike and at the very least worried that I will get a flat. Which, no, I still don't know how to change. But I can rationalize with myself that is a scenario that could happen on any given day I ride my bike. Admittedly, I have learned to set that fear on a shelf and only look at it in passing moments. I tell myself there is no reason to pull it down and play with it on race day.

And on my 5k run yesterday I was sad to find that no matter how many bricks I have done this summer it still sucks to get off the bike and run. So sure, despite the 4 long runs I have done over 21 miles, and the 5 16 mile runs and even the 2 twelve mile runs I have done at a sub 8 min mile (and one at a sub 7:30 minute mile) I am STILL anxious that my run is going to be terribly slow and is going to hurt.

But hey, at least I am use to it.

Without a doubt I know what to expect. It will absolutely be no surprise for me if my run sucks. I am certain it is going to. And I have to admit that I have sort of tried in training to make my runs suck to prepare for it: running in the hottest part of the day, long runs in 90 degree heat, running almost every long run a bit faster than I should. I am for sure banking on the misery I embraced in training to get me through the 13.1 mile run portion of the race next Sunday. And oddly enough, I find comfort in that.

But for 30 miles on my bike yesterday I thought about the swim portion of the race and-- I am not sure how I am going to get over this-- my fear of the creepy lake bottom.

I do not like to touch lake bottoms.
Totally skeeves me out.
I don't think I am going to get past this either.

I have tried consoling myself with thoughts about all times in my life I have swam in open water. And I have realized it is not at all open water that bothers me. I am actually quite comfortable in water.

I mean, after all, I grew up with a lake in my backyard. I spent most of the year swimming in that lake from age 13 until college. But when I thought about it I never ever walked into the lake and certainly never ever touched the creepy lake bottom. I either jumped off the dock or was out in the middle of lake when someone would flip the canoe or suicide boat over.

The suicide boat?

Okay, quick stroll down memory lane as this memory totally played itself out to me in my head yesterday as I riding. Funny the things that pop in your head, you know.

The suicide boat was suppose to be a homemade kayak. My uncle was making it but never finished it. I have no idea why we had it but we did. Growing up my dad and his brothers were always swapping, "borrowing" or stealing various rag tagged things from each other that they deemed valuable; like, a 1980 Landcruiser, a Boston Whaler fishing boat, a row boat, various canoes, kayaks, camping equipment, and even a cement mixer etc. Things that sometimes became a fixture-- or just an annoying joke at our house. Other times they would disappear for awhile; only to show back up in the driveway or down at the lake. Ownership of such items was untenable and was usually based on some bet or a wager or bartered form of payment.

The suicide boat was at our house for several years. It looked like a canoe but was much less stable as it was just the bottom shell part of a kayak. The sides were very low since it was missing the top cover part.

We called it the suicide boat because it always flipped over from the very slightest of movement. So if you took your chances in the suicide boat you knew you were going swimming. It also wasn't terribly bouyant so you would have swim back to the dock while trying to keep the suicide boat from sinking. Talk about honing some swim strength. Try swimming 500 yds dragging a waterlogged boat.

But even worse than the flipping and the sinking was the fact that it was made of unfinished fiberglass. So sitting in it, or even just touching it would get fiberglass in your skin. In case you have never experienced fiberglass in your skin it is very uncomfortable and itchy and I am guessing not too healthy.

You'd think we would have learned our lesson the first few times we went out on the lake in the suicide boat but no. That boat was around until Brent, Sean, Liz and I completely destroyed it.

One year it snowed. And see that is headline news here in Georgia on its own. But that year it actually stuck. There was a ton of snow--again, by Georgia standards. So the 4 of us ran down to the lake and got the suicide boat. I don't know if we drug it down the street to the dam or rowed from my dock to the dam but I am guessing that we drug it not wanting to fall in the lake in January. Which, while not completely unheard of in our group, I am sure --well almost sure--that falling in the lake on a snow day is something we would have avoided. I think.

Anyway, the street I lived on was flat. And while the houses on the street sat a top a hill that slopped down the lake; the hill was densely wooded. The only clear hill on the road was the back side of the dam. It was a steep embankment that bottomed out at the foot of a waterfall. A waterfall that was also great fun to play in and yes, we did entertain sliding down the waterfall in the boat but decided against it since it was quite treacherous.

The four of us hopped in the suicide boat and shot down the back side of the damn. The suicide boat went air born and we jumped over the low fence into the creek bed. The suicide boat broke into two pieces upon impact. And we sat in the creek wet and laughing our asses off. It was even better we now because we had two pieces of boat and spent the entire day sliding down the dam into the creek. After awhile my dad showed up--and I was a little worried that we were going to be in big trouble for breaking the suicide boat he seemed not to care. Instead he hooked the larger piece of the boat up to his Bronco and drug us up and down the road.

No. We were not wearing helmets.

That was such a fun day.

And what, by tale you may ask is the point.
Sorry. I don't think I have one.

It is just a tangent that I wanted to set down before it was completely lost in the recesses of my mind.

Or perhaps this memory, and not my missing open water swim, is the final puzzle piece. A piece that revealed itself in memory to remind me that there was a time in my life that I did risky things with abandon and had a freaking fabulous time doing them.

Maybe it is the piece of the puzzle telling me that I have been taking myself and my training too seriously and I need to remember that this is suppose to be fun.

Hmmm, something to definitely ponder tomorrow during my open water swim.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dinner a la Taper

Sure sign that I am in the throes of the ugliness that is a taper is a dinner menu such as this:

Pulled BBQ Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches (slow simmered all day long, so, so good)

Roasted Sweet Potatoes (with butter, cinnamon and maple syrup)

Homemade Mac n Cheese Florentine (read lots of butter and cheese and oh, yeah, a little spinach)

Magic Hat number 9

I think I gained weight just preparing this meal. And I don't think the calories I burned from my 6 mile run and 2200 yd swim can even touch it. Things are not going to be looking pretty at the start line of the S.C half iron man. And by things I mean my bulging gut and big fat ass.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I have a cold

I know that is lame.

But I woke up with a runny nose this morning. I rode my bike and was annoyed by my nose that is now more faucet than nose. And you know. This is just the beginning of my fall allergies. Just in time for my race. Fabulous.

Big, giant sigh. Isn't that how it always seems to go though?

And, I know I had a sinus infection this time last year for a fact because my sister got married and I remember being sick the week before her wedding. I think she got married on the 29th of September. So I should have known better than to sign up for a race in September. There is a reason I don't usually do any races until the end of October. Fall allergies.

At least I still have 13 days to still train with my new handicap. As if just sucking in general wasn't enough of one.

Yay me!

I'll post something else when I am done feeling sorry for my poor pathetic self.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Feeling Like a Guy

As I have previously bemoaned in my post Hot Meal I hate it that I never get to experience going for a run and coming home to a hot prepared meal waiting for me. Actually, I never get to experience that-- regardless of after a run-- since I am the one that always cooks.

And that is fine.

It is Ryan and I's arrangement with the housewife package he has. There are pros and cons to each package (working wife vs house wife) and I quite honestly like the housewife package. Suits me, my choices and my workouts just fine-- most of the time.

But, you know, it would be nice to come home and have dinner waiting on me once in awhile. . .

And last night it kinda happened. It for one second made me wish that I was a guy. (Which, let me be perfectly clear, never happens. I think being a girl is the bestest.)

But it didn't happen because Ryan made dinner. Don't be ridiculous.

As mentioned in yesterday's post Carmella has a sinus infection and was home from school. With a visit to the vet (for the dog, not Carmella), pediatrician and just having a sick kid home I couldn't get my workout in morning or afternoon. Though it should be said that had I been a better planner I could have gotten up at 4:30 and gone to the gym and swam and still been home by 6 to get the kids ready for school. I just wasn't thinking clearly. Piss poor planner am I. I think that might also come with the housewife package-- time management issues. There just never seems to be enough of it, time that is. In fact, I am thinking I am going to vote this year for the candidate that has that super secret extra day--the one between Wednesday and Thursday and no one but you knows about-- on their platform. Since they both suck that will be my deciding factor of who sucks the least.

Well, Carmella's fever was 102.7 at the doctor's so clearly I couldn't put her in the gym nursery. Carmella actually felt okay--according her own assessment--but it just wouldn't be fair for the other kids in the gym nursery. Not to mention it is against policy to bring sickies to the nursery. Not that anyone else seems to follow policy that I've seen. . .

I will say I always feel bamboozled when my kids are sick since they don't do that lying around and act sick bit. Carmella begged and pleaded and I relented because if you feel well enough to do it then you should. So she actually went outside and played in the afternoon. I figured it might get all that clogged up snot moving around. Uninvited neighbor kids might get sick though . . . But hey, that's what happens when you invite yourself over even though I told both you and your mother that I had sick kid in house. Play at your own risk.

So gym workout was out and I don't bother calling Lala or Bubbles since they are afraid of the germs. Which for the record, sinus infections are not typically contagious as they are a secondary infection caused from a virus (which would have been contagious) or allergies (which would not have been contagious and is the source of Carmella's infection). Just saying.

And, if you know me, it totally stresses me out to not get a workout in. I know, I know. People take days off. But I am not one of those people. I do not like to skip a workout. Ever. I fully admit to being addicted. And, if you know me, you don't want me to skip a workout either. It is like Xanax for me. I am much more palatable if I get to sweat a little each day. Okay, the more the better but even I do get tired; so some days a short workout is fine. I consider a workout as key to my day as showering or brushing my teeth. And, if you know me, you know showering and teeth brushing ranks high on my list of things to do every single day.

So yesterday-- because we have the housewife package installed-- I was home with a sick child and the potential of my workout happening was contingent on Ryan coming home early enough from work. And since we own our own business this is never a sure thing. In fact, more often than not Ryan works until almost 8 pm. When you get up at 6 am an 8pm workout is a bit of challenge energy wise. I also don't run in the dark-- at least not by myself. Excuses, excuses. I know. I'm not a fan of them either but sometimes they are valid.

Since my only hope yesterday of a run was after Ryan got home-- which typically coincides with when I am making dinner, helping the kids with their homework, getting them ready for bed, and helping make sure they have everything ready for the next day, a late afternoon/early evening workout is tough to juggle.

To be "proactive" about it I made dinner early and fed the kids early and got all their stuff ready for bath/school/bed done. Check check check. I had everything ready so that when Ryan got home I could just head out the door for a short run. And for his part Ryan actually got home a little after six so I was still able to be back and tuck the kids into bed.

I use to be an afternoon runner. My body actually prefers that time of day but since I've had kids I've made the switch to morning/early afternoon. So I was worried it would not go well but it felt pretty good. Nothing fancy, just a 6 mile recovery run from yesterday's 12 miles @ "marathon pace" (Which was hard as crap but I did negative split the run and ran a 7:43 avg pace. However, does not seem likely I can do that for a full marathon. But that is a whiny story for another day.)

The magic for me happened when I got back from my run. I am talking about the magical moment where for one teeny tiny second I almost understood why guys totally don't mind spending their life with something hanging between their legs.
Get this.
And the "this" I am referring to is how I imagine it to be for men when they come at the end of the day after a work out or from long day at work:
I walked in the door.
Said hi and thanks to Ryan.
Kissed and tucked the kids into bed.
Then, wait for it.
I. Ate. My. Dinner.
It was already there.
Ready and waiting.
Oh, it was just the best ever.
So perfect.

People are always talking about those "ah ha!" moments. I think Oprah calls them "light bulb moments"--why does everything Oprah automatically make me roll my eyes? Point is that this was my "light bulb" moment: I should just make dinner everyday early so I can have a penis moment every night.


That came out wrong but yes, I know Ryan would like to add a penis moment with me to the housewife package every single night. . .

Anyway . . . I am now remembering that Lala use to make dinner at 3 or 4 pm in the afternoon--she called it "making plates"--because she would go workout in the evenings. So that way no one had to wait on dinner ever. Hot meal whenever you are ready!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The School Nurse

I am getting to know her very well. We speak at least several times a week. And I am none too happy about this new relationship.

This is Carmella's third year at this school. And until this year she has never been to see the school nurse. I don't even think she knew she existed.

But then she went and got herself all allergic to cashews and the nurse and Carmella and I have all become the bestest of friends.

I am not sure if I ever gave an update to Carmella's allergic reaction but when I took her for the initial skin test she only showed allergic to environmental stuff: every kind of tree pollen, grasses etc. But they didn't have a scratch test for cashews so they took her blood and sent it off to be tested. Sure enough she is severely allergic to cashews. Apparently there is a scale. Anything over an 8 on this scale is considered severely allergic. She is a 12 for cashews. She is also a 7 for sesame seeds and a 6 for pecans. That is thought of as just "sensitive to" so it is advised we avoid those things too. So far only the cashew allergy will cause the anaphylaxis reaction.

So while Carmella's allergy is severe it is fairly simple to avoid by her just not eating cashews. Sure cashews might be hidden in a few foods but Carmella doesn't like those foods. But just in case someone pins Carmella to the ground and pries open her mouth and shoves in a fistful of cashews and then makes her chew them up and swallow them she has an epi pen.

And in case your child doesn't require an epi pen then you have no idea the amount of paper work and protocol that is involved letting your child have one at school. I think it is easier for a convicted felon to purchase a gun than it is for a 7 year old to have her medically necessary epi pen and benedrayl at a public school.

So I spent the first week of school getting forms filled out, meeting with doctors, the county nurse, Principal and school nurse so that Carmella would be eligible to have her epi pen at school.

The reality of Carmella ever needing to use her epi pen gets slimmer and slimmer each day. The child is well on her way to developing an eating disorder because she is terrified all foods might have cashews, sesame seeds or pecans.

She asks in the lunch room about every single item they put on her plate even though they already know she is allergic to cashews, sesame seeds and pecans because it is on the computer and warns them when she purchases her lunch. Not to mention that we go over every morning the menu of what she can eat. Not to mention she doesn't even like foods that might contain cashews, pecans or sesame seeds. Not to mention they are a peanut and nut free cafeteria. However, Carmella, since birth and was clearly a double agent in past life, operates under the assumption of "trust no one"-- especially your mother. She is the one who fed you those cashew nuts in the first place.

But even out of the lunch room at any given moment someone might be trying to feed her a cashew, sesame seed or pecan. They get lots of treats at school. And even though we sent a note home explaining her allergy and to please not feed Carmella a cashew, sesame seed or pecan she is still suspicious, worried. Every other day I get a call from Carmella, her teacher, or the school nurse reading me some label or asking me if Carmella can have such and such.
Gummy bears?
Oh for Christ's sake, yes.

If it doesn't say cashews, sesame seeds or pecans she can eat it. But nevertheless I got a call the other day because they were making ice cream.
These are the ingredients the nurse said:Sugar, half and half, vanilla, ice, rock salt. Can Carmella have some?
Yes. Wait, is there nuts in that ice?
What? Oh, ha ha, well I just wanted to be sure. . .

So all this attention and allergy awareness has made Carmella very paranoid. So she goes to visit the nurse at least once a week if not more often for various allergy related complaints. I can't blame her. When she had her reaction to cashews she experienced every symptom of an allergic reaction you can have: burning mouth, sneezing, vomiting, GI distress, itchy eyes, hives, wheezing, shortness of breath etc-- in the span of 3 hours. She's 7. How is she to know that every time she doesn't sneeze her throat might be about to close up. I get that she is worried but if the adults could do a little to ease her anxiety it might be a tad helpful. Instead, they are more paranoid than she is.

The first time she went to see the school nurse was because she was sneezing too much. The nurse called the house and Ryan happened to be home. The nurse wanted to know if she could give Carmella some Benedrayl. Ryan said sure. So she gave Carmella 2 teaspoons of Benedryal. Later, Carmella came home complaining that all day she felt "dizzy" at school. Well, duh! I'm surprised you were able to remain upright. I told her if she had a problem with just sneezing to request the Claritan. Benedrayl makes you sleepy.

Last week she went because she had the tiniest patch of poison ivy. I don't mean to make fun of her as poison ivy is in the cashew family. But I was on top it. She was getting Claritan everyday and calamine lotion. It had been a few days so I slacked on the meds. But apparently the tiny patch started to itch again and Carmella got worried it was going to spread to her whole body. This is what I get for googling poison ivy rashes with her right next to me.

Apparently the nurse felt sorry for her because the nurse also has poison ivy. So I was summoned to bring the calamine lotion and claritain to school. Which I did and then spent 30 minutes talking with the nurse about poison ivy.

Now I don't know about any of the other times Carmella goes to see the nurse as I am only called if there needs to be medication administered or I have to come get her. So she could very well be visiting the nurse everyday for all I know.

Again, yesterday I saw the school nurse pop up on my caller ID. I knew I sent her to school healthy and had packed her lunch myself so I couldn't even guess what the problem was going to be.

The nurse informed me that Carmella had a headache. She had taken her temperature and sure enough Carmella had a fever. 101.1 I had to come get her. This was at 2 pm. They get out at 2:20. So I just got Beau too.

And because she wasn't feeling well I let Carmella lay in my bed and watch TV all afternoon. And she didn't have to do her homework. Beau however, did have to do his homework. And he wanted to know why I was being so nice to Carmella and not him. Which, in my defense I don't think I was being mean to Beau. I was just letting Carmella watch TV. Which I suppose they don't normally get to do during the school week. But what else are you suppose to do when you are sick? I mean, I would go ride my bike if I were sick but Carmella isn't like me so I let her do that thing that I hear most people do when they are sick, you know, rest.

I explained this to Beau but he didn't seem to understand. . .

I took Carmella to the doctor today and she has a sinus infection. A result of all those environmental allergies, I guess. I definitely empathise as that is my plight too.

This business with the school nurse it getting out of hand. I am thinking I am going to have not only put her on my Christmas card list but might as well start inviting her to parties.

So today Carmella stayed home from school and you'd think the school nurse got a reprieve but no. When I picked Beau up he told me that he went to see the school nurse today.

Oh really. Why?

Because I had a headache, he explained.

Oh. I see. And did the nurse take your temperature?


Did you have a fever?


That's because you are not sick!

I know. I just wanted you to be nice to me too.

Whatever, go do your homework.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Carrying on the Tradition of "Character Building"

As a kid my dad, and to a certain extent my mom, use to make me go back packing.

Now, I know lots of kids went camping with their families but I am guessing you got to drive up to a campsite, park your car and then pitch a tent. You might do a day hike for a few miles and you might even have to carry your own water.


That is not back packing. My dad made me and I say me because there were often times when it was just me, my dad and his two brothers go back packing. Here is how I have long imagined the conversation went:

Dad: Hey Sally, I think David and Vinton and I are going to go backpacking this weekend.

Mom: That's fine but you have to take Natalie. Justin and Sarah can stay here.

I was 9. My dad and his brothers were in their late 20's/early 30's and rode their bikes to work and trained for marathons.

And I had to carry my own pack.

And no, it wasn't just water. I had to carry all my clothes, my sleeping bag, part of the tent, my own water and then if it still wasn't heavy enough then I had to carry some of the other crap. My dad would weigh me, figure out 30 percent of my weight and pack my pack to that weight. There was a lot of packing, getting on the scale, taking stuff out of the pack and putting different items in until I reached this optimal weight that somehow my dad had figured was the ideal weight for someone of my height and weight to manage on however many mile backpacking trip. No matter what it always felt too heavy.

Oh,and guess when we went backpacking?
Nooooo. Too hot, snakes. Too many insects.
Early fall?
I wish! Still snakes. Insects etc.
Late spring?
Yeah, right. No. Still snakes.

Winter. We went November to March.

It was fucking cold! I was delicate child flower. Or rather I was. Apparently, as I was told often while back packing, my character was being built on these trips. I am sure they could see it transforming right before their very eyes. So see, they really can't fault me can they?

Oh and to make sure my character was firmly in place we always did this trail. Not too hard at all. But it crosses the river a bazillion times and that is great fun--until you fall in, like I always did. In the winter. And trust me. It was cold. It sucks when your jeans are frozen. And no one believes you when you tell them your legs are going to freeze off your body.

Some times we just did Blood Mountain. I hated it that more because there was no water on the mountain and that meant more to carry. More weight. It also meant that I couldn't have a fire in the morning because we would have to waste what precious water we had by putting the fire out. Nevermind if it was February and 8 degrees outside.

Okay. I admit it. I did like it when we would go to Cumberland Island. You know why I liked it?

Because it was flat and there was water on the island at pumps. Easier and less weight.

But again. It was almost always cold. Hi Atlantic Ocean. Oh how my little 10 year old self wants to swim in you but no, it is December and 34 degrees.

Fond, fond memories.

Okay. Really there were things I loved about it and I still do love being outside because of those backpacking trips. But the memories of those times and what I didn't like and why are still very clearly with me.

But just in case I had any chance of forgetting any of those things I've now got kids of my own to remind me of what it was like to have your parents force you into doing things you are not totally on board with. Right right right. I've now got kids that I must build character into.

Ryan and I have decided that now that both kids are older it is high time we got on with those character building experiences. I mean introduce them to the joy hiking and soon enough the joy of carrying all your crap for miles through the woods so you can be as far away from electricity and plumbing and all other creature comforts as possible. I mean to foster a love of nature in our children too.

But unlike my dad we are taking baby steps. So while the kids and I often enjoy hiking on the Sope Creek and Leita Thompson trails they've never had to climb any real mountains.

So yesterday we took them to Kennesaw Mountain and hiked around for a few hours.

Beau hiked a lot like I did as a kid. He is what I call a 50 yd dasher: sprints ahead and then has to rest, we pass him and then he'll sprint ahead, rest, rinse repeat.
He also talks non stop the whole time. Really there isn't a single thought he has that you are not aware of. The kid does not internalize anything.
At all.

Yeah, I can't imagine where he gets that from either.
Carmella on the other hand is the walk slowly and carry a big stick type. Seriously. She will walk so slow up a hill I can't even believe that she is acutally moving.
She won't really complain but will just say that is the best her legs can do. But then when we get to the downhill parts she takes off running. Yesterday she and I ran the whole way down the mountain. We finished 10 minutes before Ryan and Beau who just walked down.

So it was a fun and good day but today when I mentioned to the kids the possiblity of a hike at the Leita they both jinx buy me a coke said emphatically "No!"

And I couldn't help but devilishly smile. The character is already setting its mold.