opt outside

Sunday, November 26, 2017

You know what feels really damn good?

Being able to swim, bike and run outside in November.

Big Ginger and I spent the past week in Sacramento with my family. While we were there, we ran on the American River Trail ...

... swam in an outdoor pool ...

Can you tell I'm excited?

... and did the local turkey trot. (For the record, I missed a 5K PR by 11 seconds, which is amazing, since this race was super crowded, I haven't been running much recently, and I'm recovering from a bad cold.)

Official finish time: 25:31. My 5K PR is 25:21. So close!

And then we came home and -- holy holiday miracle -- it was warm enough to ride outside.

why my children are furry or fermented

Monday, November 20, 2017

I just wrote this crazy run-on paragraph about the big exhibition at work that I'm prepping for and how we're hosting media event after media event (one of which involved a trip to New York) and how I'm also auditing a graduate seminar in "Visuality and Japanese Modernity" (which requires so much reading of literary theory, a thing I haven't thought about since 2003), doing house remodeling stuff (like painting the guestroom a shade that can only really be described as mauve-ish pink-ish purple-ish -- I suspect Big Ginger secretly questions my judgment), taking an improv class, going back to ballet (this time I really mean it), attempting to bake my own gluten-free sourdough bread with a gluten-free sourdough starter named Pat (who needs to be fed all the time because he's way more delicate than a non-gluten-free sourdough starter), and trying to get triathlon workouts in so I don't forget everything I learned about swimming last season.

And then I felt guilty because people do this stuff all the time and have kids and manage to keep their kids and themselves alive, so I really should just shut it since I only have three cats and Pat and Big Ginger (who is a grown-ass adult and doesn't need a litterbox or feedings of brown rice flour every four to eight hours -- which I can't really say for some previous dating choices, but that's another story altogether).

Pat: More reliable than most men I've dated.

And I guess all of this sort of brings up the question that my aunt asked me when I was in New York and we were having dinner, post-media event, just us: "Do you want kids?"

I never felt like I was in a place where kids were actually an option. I was single. I moved often, reveling in the idea of reinventing myself, over and over. I traveled constantly for work. I fell in love with triathlon, and it consumed my time (and let's be honest, my paycheck).  I was around other people with similar lifestyles -- spontaneous happy hours were a regular and important thing. I honestly never really thought about kids at all.

But now I'm married to a kind, funny, wonderful person (who has great cycling thighs, so if our kid got his thighs and my gigantic calves, they could really kill it out there on the course -- or become a wrestler), entering a new age group (yes, we must use triathlon metaphors at all times), living in a city where pretty much everyone I know has kids, and ironically, facing the reality that I may have missed my kid window.

Much like human teenagers, our fur child hates us for making her do embarrassing things.

I've never had that "maternal instinct" (unless you count kittens), and pregnancy and childbirth freak me out (although if I did get pregnant, I would use it as an excuse to eat the entire world, all at once, immediately, and I would only wear sweats and do really weird shit and blame it on "pregnancy brain"). And sometimes I wonder if I've lived my life selfishly, thinking only about myself and my goals. But now I'm just really set in my ways and like having the ability to take a last-minute trip or spend 16 hours a week training for Ironman or not worry about getting reported to child services because I've forgotten to buy cat food, so my cats are eating turkey deli slices for dinner.

But I do wonder if one day I'll regret my decision. (Like maybe when I am dying all alone, with 20 cats hovering over me, waiting to devour my body as soon as I take my last breath. Yes, this actually really happens.)

Big Ginger and I talk about this. (The kid part. Not the being eaten by cats part.) He feels similarly. We talk about how maybe if we had met each other when we were younger we'd want kids. (Although I'm pretty sure he doesn't want me to ever name a child, because I would totally name it Clark Lewis since everyone always says "Lewis and Clark" and it's not fair that Clark is always second.) We both say we'll just be the best aunt and uncle to our niece and nephews that we can possibly be.

Which is why we're flying home to California with a suitcase full of cat books for these guys.

I'm so proud of them. They're already making such great life choices.

IMWI race report, are pantsuits aero?

Monday, October 30, 2017

In order to experience the full effect of this race report -- which comes to you almost two months after said race -- you need to wear pajamas (preferably the same set you've worn every single night since the race), get really, really bloated (work stress and a gluttonous weekend always do the trick), stop running (not due to injury but simply because it gets dark early now and your brain has fooled your body into thinking it is physically impossible to leave your house without daylight), and announce (in a wheezy, asthmatic voice while shoving Reese's pumpkins in your mouth because Halloween): "When I was fit and motivated ... "

Yeah. It's amazing how the off season always gets me.

Anyway, I finished Ironman Wisconsin on Sept. 10. (Can we pause for just one second to reflect on the fact that this was Ironman No. 3? I mean, who would've ever thought I'd do one Ironman, much less three? I am legit crazy. Also, I still feel like I have to say "the race, not the person" every time I say "do an Ironman." Tell me I'm not the only one with a dirty mind.) The day was as hard as I thought it would be, but so much fun and so rewarding.

The Swim: 1:37:46

You guys, I swam under 1:40 in a race that wasn't downstream! And I would've been faster if I hadn't gotten completely beat up by the 40 to 44-year-old men in the wave behind me. (I'm not a fan of the wave start by age -- would've preferred a mass start or self-seeding by expected swim time.) Those bastards ran me over and punched me in the head, and at one point, I thought someone had unzipped my wetsuit because the neck started to come loose. I felt angry and afraid at the same time, so I did what any normal person would do and started pretending I was Hillary Clinton. (Isn't that where you'd go too?) And I told myself: "I am Hillary Rodham Clinton! I may not win today. I may get bullied by a bunch of asshole men who are rude and selfish. But I will not give up. And I will finish this race with grace!" (This also became a mantra on the bike, when I'm pretty sure some dude peed on me as he rode past.) 

This nice man wasn't shoving me back into the water, so clearly he wasn't to blame.

Later, I looked at my Garmin, and it said I swam more than 2.7 miles. (Yes, I know I was zigzagging, but I wanted to get away from those guys and find clean water, and holy shit, if you do the math that's a 2:00/100! All that time in the pool paid off! Do I get extra credit?)  

The Bike: 7:49:45

Nutrition and hydration were top priorities. I had temporary tattoos on both arms reminding me to eat and drink. (I also had a tattoo of three cats reading a book. Because you should never forget what's truly important in life.) I was carrying tons of food, I had packed my special needs bag like a freaking 7-Eleven (three different kinds of chips, Dr. Pepper, Sour Patch Kids, gluten-free pretzels, Immodium, electrolyte pills) and my mind was in a good place.

But then stomach cramps hit me at mile 25. I kept hydrating and switched from solid food to gels, but the cramps stayed. So I tried to focus on other things -- scenery, spectators (the crowd support in this race is amazing -- you can be in the middle of nowhere, riding past a freaking cornfield, and there are dudes in costumes drinking beer and cheering for you), saying encouraging things to other athletes (except for the guy who peed on me).

I went a little too hard on the first loop -- walked Barlow to save my legs as planned, but I was whooping and hollering and flying down hills and pushing watts everywhere else. Definitely felt more tired on the second loop, but I kept eating and drinking, the energy returned and I was able to pick up the pace at the end. (Also, hello, I am Hillary Clinton and I've got this, mofos.)

That's my thumb, not a hot dog. But yes, I had to look closely at the photo too.

The cramps, however, never left. I stopped at special needs for electrolyte pills and chips, and yes, I drank that can of Dr. Pepper. And I kept hydrating. But the cramps stayed.

The Run: 5:30:10

I came off of the bike in under eight hours -- faster than I expected. My run started off really strong, but the cramps got steadily worse. By Mile 5-ish, I was in the port-a-potty. I thought the cramps would stop after that, but they continued. I tried Base Salt, more hydration, cola, broth -- but nothing helped. (What does Hillary Clinton do for cramps? Someone please tell me.) I ended up in the port-a-potty three more times and also felt like I could barf.

Still, I kept smiling and tried my best to run as much as possible. 

This is me running as far away as I can from the thing I left in the port-a-potty.

I cheered for the people around me and high-fived spectators. (You know what the best part of the IM run is? All the great people you meet and the random conversations you have. God bless the wonderful woman who called all the volunteers "honey" and "baby" and told me that when I'm her age, I'll give zero fucks about anything.) But when I got to the dark part on the second loop (literally dark -- no lights), the walking (and possibly also the imagining that I might get kidnapped and murdered) started. 

I ended up walking most of the last five miles (would've totally been an easy murder target), although I was able to pick it up on State Street and finish with a smile. My final time was 15:16:06. And yes, I teared up in that finish chute. I don't think there will ever be a day when those words -- "You are an Ironman!" -- don't mean the world to me.

The "Yes! I did not shit my pants!" feeling. Also, this was gun time, not chip time.

I look back on this now (despite being bloated, lazy and in pajamas) the same way I looked back on it the next day: Wondering "what if?" (Like, what if James Comey hadn't said all that stuff about the e-mails? Oh wait -- wrong story.) What if I hadn't swam, oh, 700 extra yards? What if I hadn't gotten cramps on the bike? What if I had forced myself to keep running? Could I have set a PR on an exceptionally challenging course?

The thought almost -- almost -- makes me want to get off the couch right now. Except it's dark out.
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