hi, September. bye, September.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My boss started a new meeting process called three things. (And no, this isn’t a reference to the number of snacks I eat in every meeting. Although it could be. There was that one time I dropped an entire salad on the boardroom floor in the middle of a meeting with our whole curatorial staff and the editor of an important arts publication. I’m still embarrassed.) It’s about sharing the three projects that are top of mind at the moment.

So I’ll get to the point. Three things:

One

I got into Wilder -- a writing and running retreat led by former pro runner Lauren Fleshman – and leave for Maine tomorrow morning. I haven’t started packing at all and will probably spend tonight frantically throwing shit into a suitcase, but I’m beyond excited. It’s an honor to be selected as a participant.

 
My relationship with writing is weird. (And wasn’t that just the most profoundly literary sentence you’ve ever read in your whole life?) I love it and am terrified of it all at the same time. I want to start writing fiction again, but I still have PTSD from grad school. There’s something about creating that feels so naked and vulnerable. It’s bizarre – I have no problem making an ass out of myself in the pool (want to see me attempt the fly, anyone?) and putting in the hours for a massive goal like Ironman, but when it comes to sitting down and starting a short story (much less finishing one), I’m scared shitless.

So I’m hoping Wilder will be what I need – a way to shed the icky, competitive grad school feelings, get messy, and channel some of the same energy and passion I’ve put into triathlon, all while exploring a beautiful place (autumn in Maine!) and meeting inspiring humans. (And maybe, if I’m really lucky, some inspiring cats too – because you never know. Like my ultimate fantasy would be waking up to the sound of meowing outside my cabin and finding a tiny orange kitten who would then be my muse for the rest of the trip and then I would take her home to Minnesota and name her Merwin after W.S. Merwin – who cares if he’s a man, minor detail – and then my army of cats would become even stronger.)

Two

I wasn’t lying about the fly. I joined a masters swim group and have officially survived Week 3 of my attempt to become a “real” swimmer. I can now not only do a flip-turn, but a backstroke flip-turn as well! However, I still resemble a dying frog during breaststroke, and I laugh hysterically when the coach asks us to do IMs. Equally hilarious: Dolphin kick with a board, a.k.a. spastic wiggling in the middle of the pool while clinging to a piece of foam. (Dear people with kids: Make them go to swim lessons so they don’t become me when they are adults.)

Full disclosure: This isn't the Phillips pool. But this is an accurate depiction of my swimming.


Oh, and inside tip: If you live in Minneapolis and are looking for a masters group that is primarily beginning-to-intermediate swimmers who are super welcoming and totally focused on learning, this is the workout for you. It’s at the brand-spanking-new Phillips Aquatic Center and only costs $30 for the entire session, which runs through Dec. 20. (For comparison, yesterday I spent $40 ordering Halloween costumes for cats, and I’m pretty sure that won’t make me a better swimmer, so $30 for masters swim is like the best deal ever.)

Three

Is it just me, or as you get older, do you become more of an introvert? Don’t get me wrong – I still love throwing a good party (like the time we had Yia Vang from Union Kitchen come over for a cooking class and then somehow stayed up until midnight and a bottle of 1977 Port was consumed, among many other things).


But I want to leave the house less and less. (This is not helped by the fact that I recently discovered Instacart.) And now that it’s fall and the daylight is waning (I like that word – “waning”), all I think about is sleeping. (I’m also reading this book, which is basically about a woman who quits her life and sleeps for a year. My feelings on it fluctuate between “Wow, this character is remarkably flawed, with some serious psychological issues” and “Dear god, she’s a freaking genius.”)

I'm racing again!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Remember how I made that joke about being in Triathlete magazine? So this happened:


It's a story about the YWCA Women's Triathlon, which took place this past Sunday. Everything about this race gives me glowy feelings. I love seeing the hard work of so many strong women pay off as they finish a tri for the very first time. I love how supportive all of the athletes are, how celebration is the focus, not competition. And I love how diverse the field is – women of all different body types, ages, ethnic backgrounds, and physical abilities.

Jen said it best: “YWCA is one of those races you want to keep doing every single year for the rest of your life.”

Which is why I’m so glad this was my comeback race. Yes, folks, the photo doesn't lie: I’m racing again. And I managed to do the entire run without walk breaks. And I didn’t re-sprain my ankle. Glowy feelings all around!

Here’s a quick recap:

Pre-race: I rode to the start with my neighbor Alyssa, who was also racing. We gushed about how much we love this race and laughed over how we weren't nervous at all since we felt like we hadn't actually trained and therefore had zero expectations. 

Air quality wasn't great this weekend, which made for an epic pre-race sunrise.

Swim: Water temperatures were warm, so no wetsuits allowed. The swim at this race is heavily supported -- waves are spaced out really well, and there are tons of kayaks and noodle swimmers so you feel safe at all times. I took this as an opportunity to try to swim like a legit triathlete vs. tooling around like I normally do. So I positioned myself toward the front of my wave, swam tight against the buoy line (this was the straightest I’ve ever swum in my life -- we all know I’m not the best at sighting and most of my open water swims look like a scenic tour of the lake), and had surprisingly very little contact with other swimmers. Overall, pretty ideal conditions! Yet despite this and the fact that I felt like I was pushing myself, I still had a super slow swim time of 11:40. (What can I say? I excel at bad swimming.)

T1: I made some stupid decisions, like sitting down to put my shoes on, even though I really didn’t need to. I also tried to get on my bike before the mount line and got a little tsk-tsk from the volunteers. Oops! Took me 2:27 to get through T1.


Bike: My goal was to go all out and get uncomfortable since this is the only sport I’ve been doing somewhat consistently since my injury. I wanted to see if I could average close to 20 mph. I did OK on the way out, but then after the turnaround, I felt like my rear wheel was dragging, so I slowed down and asked another racer if my tire was flat. Surprise – it wasn’t flat; I was just tired and that dragging feeling was my legs! (Seriously, I am so dumb sometimes.) So I lost speed for a stupid reason. My bike time was 49:47 – 18.7 mph average.

T2: Once again, I fumbled around. My dismount was slow – I had passed all these people on the bike, but they still crossed the timing mat before I did. And then I got into transition and had no idea where my rack was. Dear god: SO RUSTY -- 1:43 T2 time.

Run: I was aiming for a 10:00 minute/mile pace – I just started running again two weeks ago, and I hadn’t run farther than two miles, done as a run-walk. The plan was to run for five minutes, see how that felt, and then either keep running or take walk breaks as needed. I felt pretty good, so I ran the entire time and ended up with 29:20 – a 9:28 pace! Yes, it was nowhere nearly as fast as I’ve run 5K in the past, but who cares. I am running again, and that’s a win!

Also, I convinced the body marker to draw a cat on my leg. Winning AF.

My overall time was 1:34:54 -- 31st in my age group out of a field of 165. This was slower than last year (although I improved a smidge on the bike and with transitions). But like I said, today wasn’t about breakthrough performances – I was just thrilled to finish a race and not end up in an X-ray machine. (For the record, all that talk about Canadian healthcare being free is a lie. I recently paid the bill for my ER adventure, and I’ll be eating lentils and rice for the next two weeks.)

And finally: Shoutout to all the first-time triathletes I met swimming at Nokomis this summer, especially Liz, Rebecca, and LaTanya. The best part about the sport of triathlon is the community, and I absolutely love welcoming more people into the fold. I’m so damn proud of these ladies and their accomplishments, and I hope YWCA is just the first of many races we’ll do together!

trainer meow-tivation

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Since it is International Cat Day, I’d like to show you what happens when I get on the trainer and Magnus decides he can’t live without me.

It's cute at first. He jumps up on the stool next to my bike and says hello.


But then he gets really excited and climbs onto my aerobars.


Imagine if I actually raced like this.

And then he gets mouthy.

For the record, he has terrible breath.

But aerobars are not enough.


He has to jump onto my shoulder ...


... and try to sit on my head.

And of course, he always does this when I'm supposed to be building in Z3 and Z4. Gah!


 
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