Monday, June 13, 2011

Scars are Souvenirs

As I near 40 years of age, I can reflect back on my life so far with all the memories I have. I realized, though, that not all of my memories are in my brain. I can look at my body and find memories of good times, stupid ideas, and the battle wounds of growing up in my scars.

I have a mark on my left wrist - a jagged vertical line. I don't remember what happened, but I do remember the face of my friend Laura Lokay from the second grade who told me know to pick at it. When I look at that scar, I can see her face so clearly and even hear the wise words coming from her 7 year old mouth.

I have a chicken pox scar on my chest. I got chicken pox as a gift from a classmate for my 17th birthday. I remember being out of school for about 4 days and missing our homecoming game. I also remember the night before I broke out. My good friends to me out to celebrate my birthday and we returned to my house to watch movies. Sometime during "The Running Man," I realized I had a fever. We had to send my friends home, but I still remember having a good time.

On my leg ankle, there is a big spot on top of area where my foot and leg meet. I fell down the patio stairs at my fraternity house in college (Yes, it was a co-ed business fraternity called Alpha Kappa Psi and we had a house on fraternity/sorority row at UGA). I fell with my foot under my body and am really lucky I did not break anything. I was pretty drunk (surprise!) at the time, so it probably kept me from realizing I was falling. Man, there were some good times in that house and on that patio.

I cut off a big chuck of my right ring finger and you can still see the damage. I was trying to impress this wonderful guy by making dinner for him. I was using a mandolin cutter, and just when he asked me of I should be using the safety guard, I sliced off the side of my finger. He was so calm. He cleaned my up, threw out all the food (and I presume part of my finger), and ordered pizza for us. Thank goodness he decided to marry me despite my being an absolute klutz.

My most recent scar is from an attempt to do a muscle up at CrossFit. I never did get that move, but I will always have a discoloration on my right wrist as a memory of trying to do it.

My favorite scar, however, is from the cable car incident while on vacation in San Francisco. I have a nice scar in the middle of my right shin. Bill and I were riding on the running board of a cable car on our first day in San Fran. We went around the corner, but we were heavy. The operator asked all of us on our side to jump down and push us through the corner. Well, I jumped a second too late, and my shin banged the side of the car. I knew it hurt, but it wasn't until we got to the hotel that I saw I was bruised and cut. At least I knew it would make a good story, and it did.

Yes, I have many scars. Each one has a story - some I remember clearly, and some I can't recall. They are little stories of my life and I wear them proudly.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Change of Mind

Well, today was my last day at CrossFit Durham. I know I have been going on and on in this blog about my fitness program. I finally decided this month that I am done with Crossfit, at least for the near future. I need to get back to the core of triathlon training - swimming, biking, and running. I am looking forward to working out by myself again. I don't want to feel the pressure of the group fitness. I have watched my friends get better and better at different exercises while I feel like I have remained the same. At least now, I won't be competing against anyone but myself. I am also looking forward to those extra dollars in my pocket each month.

Maybe I will change my mind come the fall, but I think this is a good decision for now. I can't wait to run tomorrow.

Friday, May 06, 2011

And They Lived Happily Ever After

It's all I want for my books and movies - to end with and they lived happily ever after (I would have said a happy ending, but I was afraid it would be misconstrued). The plot should be boys meets girl, conflicts arise or bad guys make trouble, bad guys defeated, good guys triumph, and love conquers all. If the plot is going to vary, there should be some sort of disclaimer at the beginning of the book or movie. I don't want to waste my time reading or watching if the ending is tragic (I'm looking at you One Day, Cold Mountain, and Atonement). I want to be entertained and I want everyone to be happy in the end. Real life is difficult and disappointing. Books should be an escape.

I am reading a series now called The Hunger Games. It is a trilogy and I am reading the final book. I have really enjoyed the series, but I have heard that the finale is "frustrating." I was so upset by this notion that I had to ask the person who loaned me the books if she was satisfied with the way the series ended. She said that there is heartbreak along the way, but ultimately the ending is a good one. I have been nervous about reading all week. I feel like I have invested a lot of time getting to know these characters and to care what happens to them. In my mind, there is only one way for the series to end, but I have a feeling the author does not agree with me. I don't want to read an ending that will leave me feeling bad. I don't want to be upset. I just want the good guys to win and for lovers to be together. I am torn up about the book, and I am only 1/3 of the way done. I keep going because I hope the author would not have nurtured these characters through 2 books to make something horrible happen to them in the finale. I hope I am right.

Fairy tales and romance novels have the right idea.

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Shamrock Half Marathon

Yesterday, I ran my 7th half marathon and second Shamrock Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. I had high hope going in to this event because I had set my PR here in 2009. Well, the day did not disappoint.

Now, on paper, this race should not have been great for me. The weather on Friday was spectacular, so hubby and I decided to sit outside on our deck and drink beer. Well, one beer led to another, which then led to getting a pizza because we were not in the mood to cook. Overindulging two days before a race is probably not in the manual under "good ideas." We were much better on Saturday, however. We ate well and went to sleep early. Despite our going to bed at a reasonable hour, we did not get as much sleep as we had hoped. The winds were blowing so hard (16-17 mph) that is was causing the balcony railing to shake and make noise. I woke up several times and wondered how it would affect the race. It was still windy in the morning, but I don't think it was a huge factor in the race overall. Once you add that I have not been running long distances (I think I did 8 miles in January, last 13.1 was at the Kiawah Island Half in December) and have only been running once a week, I should not have done well at all. My attitude when I started the race was not to worry about a PR, but to just have fun. If it didn't happen, it didn't happen.

I started the race feeling pretty good. I knew the course and knew that it was pretty darn flat. This race is known for it's crazy costumes, and this year was no different. Everyone is in such a good mood - people are just out to have fun and get the beach party sponsored by Yuengling at the end of the race. I was running along feeling pretty good at about mile 4, and I decided to check my watch. I was a little slow off my PR pace, but it wasn't too far off. I had lots of race left, so I decided to experiment. I thought of my intervals like a CrossFit WOD. I thought I would see what would happen if I pushed a little bit harder through the last 45 seconds of my two minute run interval. I worked on it for awhile, and saw that my pace was now at my PR pace. I was encouraged.

I decided that I was going to go for it. I was going to leave everything on the course. I thought about my friends at CrossFit and about the mental toughness to get through those difficult workouts. It's OK to take a break, but then get right back to it. Try to get just a little bit more before the beep lets you know that it is time for a walk break. I stuck to that idea, and it worked. By the halfway point in the race, I was below my PR pace. I knew it wasn't over yet - I would have to keep pushing and get a negative split (faster on the second half of the race than the first) to get the PR. I kept pushing, and when I got tired, I would adjust the surge time - 30 seconds, 25 seconds, then 20 seconds. Then, there was the wall.

At about mile 11.5, everything seemed to go. I was really tired and my left IT band at the knee was really hurting. I was checking my watch, and I could see my pace slowing. People were lining the road, yelling for the runners. I was trying to suck it up, counting down the distance remaining with each interval. For the last mile, I had to literally concentrate on two minutes of running at a time. We made the turn onto the boardwalk, and I could see the finish about a 1/2 mile away. I was aching, but I ran it in. I could see my time, and I knew it was close.

I managed my way through the gauntlet of folks with the medals, water, finisher's hat, finisher's shirt, and food. I found Bill, and thought I might collapse. My legs just could not take my weight anymore. I was so thankful that our hotel was about 50 yards away. I did manage to make it back to our room, but nearly lost it when we could not get the door open. Standing hurt too much. I went right in to a cool bath, and I really think it helped my legs. After soaking for a bit, I was able to take a shower and get dressed so we could leave the hotel and get a much needed celebratory burger and beer.

I checked the website for my official time last night, and it was to the second the exact time of my previous PR. Sure, I wish I could have broken it, but I am happy. I did second guess myself for awhile - what if I hadn't stopped to drink the water at that one stop? What if I had had my Sports Beans instead of Gu? What if I hadn't done CrossFit and actually trained to run? Well, it doesn't matter now. I did it, I finished it, and I am happy with the overall race. I learned that I can push myself. Just wait until next year.

Friday, March 18, 2011

What to eat?

I am becoming more and more interested in nutrition as I continue to train and exercise. I know that my diet is not optimal. I pretty much eat what I want when I want to eat it. I do manage some restraint and try to eat somewhat healthy when we are eating at home. However, when I am eating out, well, all bets are off.

The problem is that there are so many different ideas for how one should eat. Hubby and I are lifetime members of Weight Watchers. I can't argue with the success I have had on their program. I lost over 60 pounds by lowering portion size and eating items with low point values (all foods are given point values in the WW system we used and you are given a certain amount of total points to eat on a given day). After I reached my goal weight, I naively figured I would just stick to the plan without having to count anymore. Well, it didn't work, and I would guess I am about 25 over my goal weight now.

But is WW the right plan for me now? Then, I wasn't really into fitness like I am now. I certainly was not running or participating in triathlons. There just seem to be so many options out there. I have several different cookbooks that are supposedly for athletes:
The Athlete's Plate
The Runner's Cookbook
Food for Fitness

They are all great books, and I have enjoyed recipes from all of them.

CrossFit is big on The Paleo Diet. Paleo Diets are supposed to be made up of things that our hunter gatherer ancestors could eat - lean meats, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. I like the idea of this diet, but the recipes I found in the cookbook all seem pretty complicated to make. Our gym is trying to rollout a new nutrition program based on this idea. I hope to be able to attend their upcoming Q&A session to find out more.

This week I also received an e-mail from a yoga/spinning studio I have attended that was promoting a raw food diet. I was immediately intrigued by this idea and have added the blog associated with this e-mail to my favorites list. I do want to find out more. The woman at the studio took a raw food challenge with her friend (the blog author) for 30 days and said she felt fantastic.

I don't know. Maybe my ideal diet is something in the middle. A portion controlled veggie, fruit, nuts, and sushi diet-with beer.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Well, it can't be good

OK, so if you have read this blog at all, you know I am a triathlete. I am starting to train for the longest race of my career, a half iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run). Well, I guess I am training with my friends who have long races earlier in the season (my race is at the end of October, so I will start focused training this summer.) I realized a few weeks ago that I don't really like bike riding. That could be a bit of a problem over a 56 mile course.

I am a decent swimmer and I can manage a half marathon. I just really don't like to bike. It hurts - plain and simple. It is just an uncomfortable thing for me. It hurts my shoulders, my lower back, my elbows, and my...lady parts. That darn saddle is not pleasant. I also find that I am just not good at biking. I will go riding with friends, and even when I think I am doing well, I fall far behind. It is just so disheartening.

I did my longest ride ever a few weekends ago. It was 50 miles over a fairly hilly course. I did it, but it just took everything out of me. My body was so achy, I told AC at one point that I would walk back to the start pushing my bike if I could. I can't really imagine running after it, but, then again, I will be so happy to be out of the saddle that running may be a breeze.

People keep telling me that I will love the course of my half iron distance because it is really flat (hubby and several friends did this race last year.) Still, I don't know that a flat course will help. I will still have to be on the darn bike for 56 miles.

One woman told me that I should do upper body work to help my biking. I am already doing CrossFit, and I will continue to CrossFit to build strength. Will it be enough? The same friend said to carry pain relievers with me during the race. That may be my best bet.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Reflection on Oscars - One week later

OK, so I have been a slacker about blogging lately. Sometimes, I just don't have anything to say. Other times, I just can't find the time to say it. Well, I figured after going on and on about the Oscars, I had better finish the thoughts with my review of the actual show.

This year's show was underwhelming, to say the least. The fashions were amazing - I was not disappointed there. The show itself was just...bad. I don't know what happened. I was so looking forward to seeing Anne Hathaway and James Franco host the show. The commercials the two of them made for the show were so cute!! Once they started, it was like there was no chemistry. Anne was very enthusiastic about being a host. She is GORGEOUS beyond words, but her hosting was nothing special. James is also quite handsome, but he just seemed like he didn't want to be there. He didn't really seem all that interested in the proceedings. They seemed so good on paper, but it didn't work. I hope they go back to older comedians next year.

I think the other problem is that it is the last award show of a long season. There are no surprises anymore. The same 4 people took the awards for acting in the major categories. We have just done it to death now. There is no intrigue, no anticipation as the envelope is opened. You know which name will be called. At one point, I wanted to yell at the TV "just give Colin his award so I can go to sleep!" It was taking too long to get to the end we all knew was going to happen.

I almost wish I didn't watch the show. I didn't learn anything unique or different with the show. I could have watched a 10 minute wrap up of the event and probably been OK with it. I used to enjoy the Oscars so much, but they have lost their spark. I will still watch all the nominated films (6 of 10!), but will I watch the show again? Time will tell.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Halfway through the Best

I love movies. I love movie award shows. So, I am in seventh heaven during this time of year. Each year, I try to see all of the Best Picture Oscar Nominees. Last year, I saw 9 of the 10 nominees (I skipped A Serious Man - it only got two stars on Netflix, so why bother?) This year, I am a little behind. I have only seen 5 of the nominees so far. Luckily, I have time left.

The interesting thing is that this year, I actually want to see all of the nominees. Three of the nominated films - Inception, Toy Story 3, and Black Swan -appeared in my post "Best of 2010" so you know how I feel about them. I have also seem The Kids are All Right, which was well, just all right. Since the "Best of 2010" post, I have seen The Social Network. I thought SN was well acted and really interesting. If I were to go back to edit my best of list, The Social Network would probably be on top.

That leaves The King's Speech, The Fighter, Winter's Bone, True Grit, and 127 Hours for my viewing pleasure. I am really, really dying to see The King's Speech and The Fighter. I am a bit nervous about 127 hours because I don't know what to expect from "the scene," but I am looking forward to seeing James Franco's performance. I plan to take a day off from work next week, so I think an afternoon at the movies is in order.

What was your Best Picture of 2010? Will you be watching the Oscars on February 27?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Knit One, Purl Never

I am convinced that there is a gene that make one crafty. I know this because I was born without one. I don't know how it happened - I come from crafty stock. My maternal grandmother was very good a needlepoint. She was so talented, in fact, that I have several of her pieces framed in my house now. My mother was also crafty. She wasn't as persistent in her practice as my grandmother, but my mom could make beautiful needlepoints and crochet afghans if she wanted to do it. You guessed it - I have several of her pillow and an afghan at my house.

I started off OK. When I was a kid, I used to love to needlepoint. I had several of the kid's kits with the huge plastic needle. I loved them and would finish one after another. I even did latch hook rugs. Soon, other things took precedent and I stopped my crafts.

Around the time of college, I noticed the girls around me were pretty talented. Everyone seems to be doing cross stitch. I figure I could pick it up easily. I bought a kit at Michael's and started my little project. I even got a basic kit - the pattern was pre-printed on the cloth. All I had to do was follow the color chart and I would have a cute little picture of bears in a bath tub. Well, I got about halfway through it and never touched it again.

So, a few years after that debacle, I thought maybe the project was just not important enough to me. I decided I wanted to cross stitch a Christmas stocking for my then boyfriend. After all, my grandmother had needlepointed stockings for each of her 3 granddaughters and made stockings for 7 other members of the family. I never even opened the kit bag.

I thought maybe the project was just too big. So, back to Michael's I went to buy a small ornament to cross stitch. I sold that kit at a garage sale about 2 years ago - unopened, of course.

Maybe I needed something other than a cross stitch. I bought a cute little box for Halloween when you just sew the bead on the top of the box to make a ghost. Two rows done. I think I still have it in a closet somewhere.

Perhaps I needed to move out of needlecrafts. I tried jewelry making. I have made all sort of necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and even two rings. They are all in my jewelry box, but will likely never see the light of day. It looks as if a small child with poor motor skills made them. The jewelry making supplies were slowly sold off in the garage sales. I also painted. I finished two of the four class projects and they are not so bad. Of course, the final project was never completed and was thrown in the garbage can at the conclusion of class.

Despite knowing all of this information about myself, I agreed to take a knitting class with my friend a few years ago. Lisa is a craft person. I found out after we started class that she was accomplished as a crochet crafter, but wanted to learn knitting. It took me all 6 weeks to do a straight stitch scarf for myself. Lisa had made a scarf with tassels for herself, then knitted a multi color scarf for her husband. She was planning her next project, a knitted top, by the end of class. I didn't even learn to purl.

Well, I decided to pick up the knitting needles again about 6 weeks ago despite my past history. I still had the yarn that my husband picked out for a scarf I said I would knit for him. So, I called on my good friend Michelle, who is a master crafter, to help me remember how to knit. She invited me to a knitting group and I was off to a promising start. I told myself that I would work on the scarf at least a little each day, even if it was just two rows. I have picked it up about 3 times since then. The thing is that I can't knit while watching TV. I have to focus 100% of my attention on the knitting. Since I am not used to doing it, it also makes my fingers hurt (I think I hold the yarn too tight - I don't know). After years of waiting, hubby's scarf is about 6 inches long.

Perhaps this blog will inspire me to find my crafty side so I can finish the scarf. Or perhaps it will sit in the bag for another 6 or so years until I try again.

Decision Made - Fitness is worth it

Well, I decided I have too much more to learn at CrossFit to give it up now. I really, really like the strength I am feeling from my workouts and I love my CF friends. I am going to cut back slightly from 4 times a week to 3, but I think I will still reap the benefits. I have never done any form of strength training, so I know this decision will have many long term benefits. I think, ultimately, it will also help my triathlon training.

I may have to reconsider in the summer when tri training really ramps up, but for now - I am still a CrossFitter.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Great Contest Follow Up

I recently mentioned a great contest from the blog at Killer Fiction. Well, I didn't win the Kindle, but I did win one of the daily drawings. I received a $25.00 gift card from from author Christie Craig as well as a copy of one of her books. Winning contests is cool.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Price of Fitness

I have a dilemma. I have never really been into fitness. A few years back, my husband suggested that I join a women's running group that was for women who had never really run. I was skeptical, but decided to join it anyway. Now, nearly 5 years later, I have run a marathon and am a triathlete. I was training in the regular triathlon sports-swimming, biking, and running, but not doing any sort of strength workouts. So, my wonderful hubby had another great suggestion - join CrossFit.

He had been doing CrossFit for a while at that point. He really liked the feel of the gym and the killer workouts. I had been to the gym during an open house, and I frankly thought those folks at CrossFit were crazy. Hubby knew there was a way to try CrossFit without being a full member - going to one of the bootcamps. I hated the bootcamp at first (I mean, it was hard!), but then I really started liking it. I completed 2 1/2 camps (I was injured about a third of the way through the first one), and met a great group of friends. When the latest camp ended in December, my friends and workout group decided to be real Crossfitters. I debated for a long time, but decided to join them.

We had our first Foundations class on January 4. There are several classes that you must take to learn the various power lifting techniques used in CrossFit. After the first class, you are allowed to take any of the regular CrossFit workouts. My group and I took our first regular class on January 10 when the new 7:15am time became available.

Here's the dilemma part. The 7:15 bootcamp was always finished by 8:00am, but the regular class will be one hour. That means I hit more traffic on the way home and have 15 less minutes to get ready for work which starts at 9:00am. It is very difficult to get to work. My boss is OK with me being just a little late, but I worry that it is being noticed by my colleagues. So, do I continue with CrossFit or not?

1. It is a strength workout that I don't get
2. I have a strong bond with my group - they encourage me during the workouts and to go to the workouts
3. It is hard and continues to push me to do better
4. It is a different workout every day
5. The coaches are wonderful

1. It is difficult to get to work on time
2. It is expensive
3. I already pay to belong to another gym. They have morning classes that I could take that would have a strength element, but would not be the same as CrossFit.
4. I would miss my friends
5. It is not really triathlon training.

What's a girl to do?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Great Contest

Killer Fiction is running a great contest right now. I am mentioning it here because I would love to win a Kindle. My dad and his wife gave each other Kindles for Christmas, and I am a bit jealous. I would love to have one. It would be great to get books instantly.

Do you have an e-reader? What do you think of it?

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Great Expectations for 2011

2011 is the year I will turn 40. It's funny. I remember as a young teen thinking the year 2000 was so far away, and I would be 28 then. It seemed so strange. I never really though further out than 2000, but here we are 11 years later. I guess the good thing is that I don't feel like I am almost 40 years old. I still feel like a 28 year old.

So, to celebrate this milestone, I have decided to participate in the hardest, longest triathlon race of my life on the last day of my 39th year. I will be racing in the Beach 2 Battleship Half Iron Distance Triathlon. The race will be a 1.2 mile ocean swim, a 56 mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. All of these events must be completed within 9 hours. Luckily, I have about 9 more months to prepare for the race.

I was inspired to do this event after watching our group of tri friends finish it this past November. I trained with most of them during their preparations. I may not have trained for as long or as hard, but I was there. I felt that I wasn't ready to move on to the longer distance - that it was just too much for me to accomplish. I began to change my mind while sitting out and being the team photographer during the 2010 race. I kept thinking to myself that I should be out there with them. I may not be as fast as any of them, but I still have the ability to complete the race. So, on the day registration opened for 2011, I was ready.

It will be a challenge, but I think (hope) it will be a attainable goal. There is a lot of work ahead, but I feel that I will conquer 70.3 miles on October 29.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Best of 2010

So, I know I probably should have written this post during the last week of December, but I have been busy. Sue me.

Hubby and I are big movie fans. Our normal routine seems to be to watch the new discs that arrived from Netflix each week over Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Of course, we may have other things to do those evenings, but we do seem to watch a ton of movies. Provided I have not seen every movie that came out in 2010, here are a few of my favorites:
Inception-Unique, thought provoking, and full of action
Toy Story 3-Made me long to play with my Barbies and remember the beauty of childhood
Easy A-Smart, funny, made me want Patricia Clarkson & Stanley Tucci for my parents
Black Swan-Beautiful, fragile, absolutely insane

We do watch TV, and really like our DVR. I have to say though, there are not many new shows that debuted in 2010 that have made me a loyal viewer. We have watched No Ordinary Family and Raising Hope, but I have to say I wouldn't be terribly disappointed if they were gone. I am much more impressed by the shows that are still going strong in their second seasons:
Modern Family-this crazy family makes me laugh every week
The Good Wife-passion, drama, and law with the amazing Julianna Margulies
The Vampire Diaries-tense, sexy, always twisting plot of vampire goodness
Being Human-what's not to love about about a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost living together as roommates?

One exception - FX's Archer. This cartoon about an inept spy agency is definitely for adults. It make us laugh out loud every episode with its outrageousness. Look for Season 2 to start January 27.

Hubby is definitely a classic rock guy, and I guess I enjoy a strange mash up of music that is not necessarily current, but not really classic either. We did see some kick butt shows this year:
Steve Winwood-we had never seem a harpsichord in action
Eric Clapton with Roger Daltrey-Hubby says Slow Hand was the best concert he'd ever seen
Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon-Double trouble from the 80's under the stars at Koka Booth Amphitheater
Joe Bonamassa-The best young Blues guitarist around - it was our 3rd time seeing him
Mollybond-our neighbor and her 6 bandmates making amazing music. Each woman writes and performs lead vocals on their own songs
Daniel Tosh-the handsome comedian has great sense of humor. Check out Tosh.0 on Comedy Central starting January 11.

The Netherlands and Belgium-the best vacation we have taken to date. The beer was intense!
Asheville-our first trip with the dogs. It didn't go as expected, but we will try again.
Wilmington, NC-our first real visit to this great seaside city that hosts NC's only Iron distance triathlon
Charleston/Kiawah Island-One can never be tired of Charleston. We have been over and over and I will always want to go back. This trip included a new destination - Kiawah Island.

This year was full of races for us. We each completed our first international distance triathlon (1500m swim, 45K bike, 10k run) in White Lake, NC, with our group of tri friends. Hubby went on to complete his first Half Iron distance (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run) race in Wilmington, while I finished an additional 6 triathlons at the sprint distance. We both completed the Kiawah Island half marathon as well.

What a great year 2010 was!! What was your best of 2010?