the new york cat experience

Monday, October 26, 2015

I was in New York the past few days for a big fancy wine event. I tasted a lot of Barolo, ate some great meals (the chicken at Untitled is insane), saw old friends and made new ones.

And witnessed some crazy-ass shit. Case in point:

And it just kept getting more and more bizarre.

You really had to pay attention to what was in your glass.

And on your plate.

And the presentations -- I couldn't look away.

There was even a raffle for a really cool prize.

(Thanks to CatPaint and Cat Bomb for the endless entertainment. Yes, folks, I believe I have found my calling as an artist.)

because more is more

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The other day I noticed my neighbors next door are planting a giant bamboo forest in front of their window. (OK, so it's not exactly a forest yet and is maybe just three bamboos, but I've heard those things spread like bunny rabbits so I'm pretty sure it will be a forest in no time and then I will have to dress the cats like pandas and take photos of them in their natural habitat so they can become internet famous and start paying some bills around here.) I'm going to assume my neighbors are sick of me staring into their house for hours while I'm on the trainer. Or else my sports bra offends them. Either way, now there is bamboo. And it's the end of an era.

Speaking of the end of things, I have no idea what to do with myself now that I'm not working out for eight-hour blocks of time or waking up at the crack of dawn to go to the pool or making chicken (again). It's funny -- when I'm training, I can list all of the things I plan to do once the race is over, but then when the race is actually over, I'm stumped.

Anyway, since I'm not quite ready to let Louisville go just yet, here are more photos from race weekend.

Dear Ryan Gosling: I want these boots for Christmas. Thanks.

Couldn't find a panda outfit that would fit this guy.

The Coeur Team! Have I mentioned how much I love these ladies?

Gear bags on point.

In case you're wondering, I really hate the phrase "on fleek." It's almost as bad as "moist." Or "irregardless" (which for the record, is totally not a word). Like the worst thing anyone could ever say to me would be: "Irregardless of the situation, that moist cake is on fleek." And then puke all over me afterward. And then toss me in a pit of slugs. And then I would officially be in my own personal definition of hell.

Don't get any ideas.

Almost as painful as my personal hell: Going to Louisville and sitting at a bar and staring at a bunch of bourbon but drinking a mocktail because pre-race, good-girl, no-alcohol choices.

(Although in all honesty, I really haven't had much to drink since the race, once again confirming the fact that I am all talk and no action when it comes to off-season plans.)

And this is about as close as I'll ever come to Kona in my life:

I was freezing, and the nice -- and obviously very fast -- man in line let me wear his jacket. Tell me that I look intimidating and bad-ass and not like a child playing dress-up.

Here are some adorable signs from my wonderful friends and family:

Cats, hot dogs, buckets of fries and tattoos -- Amy knows me so well!

Clearly, everyone knew what I really wanted at the finish line.

Can you hear the angels singing?

And about this last photo. Yeah. Don't ask. Just understand and accept that it makes me happy.

IM louisville race report

Saturday, October 17, 2015

True story: After the finish line, after the high-fives and the salty hugs, after I saw my time and did the math and realized I PR'd by an hour and 44 minutes, I went back to the hotel room and drank a Seagrams and Fresca and ate leftover lima beans. And then I cried in the shower because I couldn't believe what I had just done. (And I'm talking about the race, not about the Seagrams and the lima beans. That part I can totally believe. Also, the lima beans were from here and they were really good and you should order them.)

Also a true story: I've spent a good portion of this past season feeling inadequate. 

I know you're not supposed to compare yourself to others. It's the rabbit hole effect -- the second you start, you keep falling, and pretty soon that ugly feeling in the pit of your stomach becomes the only thing you know. But with triathlon, when you are surrounded by so many incredible athletes and your friends are bad-ass and it seems like everyone you know is in the top 10 in their age groups or qualifying for Worlds or shooting for Kona, it is hard not to feel like you don't fit in, like somehow you are a total fake.

And it makes you afraid to talk about goals because you second-guess your abilities. You make excuses and explain that you didn't grow up an athlete, that you never took a swim lesson in your life, that really you only like this sport because there are men in spandex with Australian accents. You sell yourself short. You hide behind humor. You get stuck on past performances that didn't work out the way you wanted them to.

My pre-race exchanges with Coach Mark went something like this:

As race day got closer, all I could think about was last year and how I barely made the bike cutoff. It took all of my strength to remind myself that Louisville was its own beast, that I needed to block out the noise and the doubt and remember this was a new race. And it was my race -- not my teammate's or my parents' or the guy standing behind me at the swim start who talked about how he peed in his wetsuit twice already and we were still on land. (Seriously.)

My race. And that became the mantra for the day. 

The Swim

The toxic algae did not win, so into the Ohio River we went. But this wasn't a mass start. Instead, everyone lined up (a painful process of standing in the pre-dawn cold for a long-ass time) and jumped off of two docks. (This video from 2014 is a pretty good idea of what that looked like.) Because it took awhile for everyone to enter the water, even though the race began at 7:30 a.m. (already 30 minutes later than the typical Ironman 7 a.m. start since we had to wait for sunrise), I didn't actually start my swim until 8 a.m. Which meant that in order to make the midnight cutoff, I had less than 16 hours to finish.

So cold and dark in line that my dad couldn't focus.

Instead of freaking out, I told myself this meant as long as I finished, I would PR. And then I jumped in (OK, so maybe I sat on the dock and pinched my nose and held my goggles and kind of awkwardly slid off) and swam. It was rough out there -- more body contact than last year's mass start at IMAZ. I was constantly being grabbed and had to kick people to avoid being swum over. However, the major positive about Louisville: The current. This was the fastest swim of my entire life: 1:29:51. (I know, right? I still think it's a lie.)

The Bike

The course was pretty much the life I dreamed of when I was 10 years old and mad about anything with four legs and a whinny -- gorgeous green pastures, leaves turning gold and orange with fall color, stately brick homes and so many horses.  

Like a Marguerite Henry novel.

Good thing it was so scenic because it was a challenge -- lots of rollers, constant gear changes, no rest. Granted, this wasn't hilly compared to the terrain here in Washington, but if you went out hard, you could definitely blow up. I told myself all I wanted was to make the bike cutoff (and thankfully my unnaturally fast swim gave me a nice cushion), so I rode conservatively and reminded myself to stay alert. (I used to work with a guy who often said: "Be a lert. The world needs more lerts." He had really cool action figures on his desk.) I also imagined Coach Mark as a miniature elf sitting on my shoulder, giving me a pep talk. And then I imagined him in a cow costume. And also as a jester. This was so amusing that I spent a portion of the bike laughing to myself. 

I had no problem making the cutoff. The only issue I had was nutrition -- around Mile 67 or so, I started to get really shaky and felt like I might pass out. So I pulled over, ate a caffeinated gel and a bar and downed a ton of Skratch, and then I was fine. Problem solved. Bike time: 7:41:18. Slow but steady, and being conservative paid off on the run.

The Run

The course was a pancake flat double loop. My goal was to run the entire marathon, one foot in front of the other, only walking through aid stations and only stopping to use the bathroom (which happened three times, actually). I took a gel every 4-5 miles and alternated between Skratch, water and cola for liquids. (Cola is the best thing ever when you need a caffeine boost.)

Running with my mama for a bit!

I settled into the run and held steady the whole way. I didn't feel spent or sore. I just ran. Chatted with people as I went. Passed a lot of guys who had given their all on the bike and couldn't run anymore. Cheered for my Coeur Sports (side note: meeting these gals in person for the first time was incredible -- this is an amazing bunch of talented, humble, generous, inspiring women) and tn Multisports teammates when I saw them go by. Thanked volunteers. Got a big smooch from the mister as I started the second loop. (I know. I was totally that person.) Ran a few miles with a guy in a huge rainbow Native American headdress and glow sticks. And tried really hard to ignore the people barfing. (There were several. And one of my biggest fears in life is to be randomly vomited on by a total stranger, so I was kind of terrified. Someone please tell me I'm not the only one who feels this way.) Run time: 5:05:24, just 15 minutes slower than my very first marathon ever.

Coming down the chute to the finish line was amazing. I still felt emotional and slightly incredulous, even though this was my second Ironman. I high-fived a ton of spectators, saw my parents (I love how much they enjoy triathlon and Ironman especially -- they get so into it), saw the mister and his parents (who had the world's loudest cowbell -- so loud the spectators next to them told them to stop ringing it) and crossed that line.

And the announcer pronounced my name correctly. And I ended up with a massive PR.

Swim: 1:29:51
T1: 12:41 (one day I will learn to pee in my wetsuit and not use the port-a-potty)
Bike: 7:41:18
T2: 7:33
Run: 5:05:24
Overall: 14:36:47 -- an hour and 44-minute PR

Note to self: Stop bitching. No excuses. You earned this. And no one can take it away. Also, high-five for not getting puked on. (Which could actually be the real definition of winning.)

made it to louisville

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Not going to lie: Packing Minivan for the first time was scary.

Pool noodles are the best bike packing life hack ever.

But we made it safely to Louisville.

With my tn Multisports teammate Char, who's hungry for a Kona qualifier.

And thanks to the incredible Mike at Old Bikes Belong, Minivan is reassembled and ready for a test ride tomorrow. (Louisville will be Mike's first Ironman. And his first triathlon ever. Talk about balls out. Figuratively, of course. We really wouldn't want Mike to race with his balls out because it would probably hurt.)

Mike also took Char and me to the swim start (assuming the swim will actually happen). At night, the Ohio River doesn't look scary. In fact, I'd venture to say it's downright pretty.

And then we went to the transition area, and I found where Minivan will be racked.

Can't believe it's finally race weekend.


Sunday, October 04, 2015

I love taper. I know some people hate it and feel restless, but I welcome the extra time and use it to get a lot of important life stuff done. Like napping. And baking a quiche.

And teaching the kitten how to walk on a leash.

The best part was when my neighbor came home and found me outside with the cat. My response: "Hi. This is totally normal."


Yesterday I had my last brick workout -- two hours on the bike, followed by an hour run. And even though the weather was gorgeous, Coach Mark put me on the trainer. Smart move, considering my recent history of slipping on railroad tracks and riding into walls. Best not to crash one week before race day.

Unfortunately, I made the poor choice of watching "Spring Breakers" during my workout. Pro tip: Do not ever, ever subject yourself to this. Life is better without the horror of James Franco with dreads and a grill leading a trio of bikini-clad, gun-wielding college girls. 


So my toxic Ohio River stress dream may actually become reality. Surprisingly, I'm not that worried about it. I'll roll with whatever they decide. Mostly, I just don't want to get sick and end up with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomit on the bike. Or the run. Or pretty much any time ever. (Side note: A good ice-breaker is to ask total strangers: "Would you rather have explosive diarrhea or projectile vomit?" Never fails to result in a passionate reaction. Try it as an interview question some time.)

Ironman Louisville: One week.
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