the off season is a vortex

Thursday, December 01, 2016

In case you're wondering, yes, the bathroom sink is still broken.

Meanwhile, I went to Mexico for my friend Jessica's wedding and there were so many cats and a burrito wrapped in fried cheese instead of a tortilla and I got to sniff a donkey's ear.

And then we went to L.A. for Thanksgiving and there was food and hiking and more food and I started to suspect my parents were trying to turn me into some kind of human foie gras by constantly feeding me.

Basically a slab of pork belly.

And after that we turned around and drove to Wisconsin for even more family time and I went to a cheese factory and bought a bunch of cheese curds but I didn't learn how to play Sheephead or Smear because I wasn't in the mood for strategy.

Also, deer season.

Let's just say I've been making workouts a priority this week.

#questionmadness (and the bathroom drain)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

So the mister and I swam tonight (we're both targeting Madison 70.3 in June and need to get back in the pool more regularly), and his ear was full of water afterward, so he decided to use the ear wax removal system on it, but unfortunately he chose the "questionable" sink in the house for this procedure, and as luck would have it, the stopper got stuck in the drain, and he now is trying to learn plumbing from YouTube.

Which brings me to tonight's question: Why live a life that's perceived as mad? Or in this particular instance: Why train for a crazy-ass sport like triathlon when it means you're up until midnight taking your sink apart and attempting to unstick the stopper by pushing it up from underneath with a screwdriver? 

Or perhaps even more pressing: Why spend half your rent on Ironman registration and devote six months (or more) to training and have no social life and then cross the finish line but not get anything but a medal, a hat, a T-shirt and some pizza that you can't eat anyway because you're allergic to gluten?

Because I can't imagine living life any other way. I love the people I've met through triathlon. I love the never-ending quest for self-improvement. I love being able to swim, bike and run in beautiful places. I love how triathlon keeps me honest and shows me that anything is possible.

Even learning plumbing from YouTube. 

Madness is a beautiful thing.

why I ate a sandwich just now

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Is it just me, or does swimming make you ridiculously hungry, hungrier even than long rides or long runs or long rides followed by long runs?

I'm back in the pool. Not going to lie -- it's been awhile. In fact, it's been since the end of August, which is when open water swim season came to a close here in Minneapolis. (I had been swimming at Cedar Lake every Monday night throughout the summer -- absolutely loved it, even though sometimes it was windy and choppy and the buoys drifted around a lot.)

Random thoughts I had in the pool tonight:
  1. This swimsuit still fits, so at least there's that.
  2. Oh wait. I take that back. Side boob.
  3. At least I'm not out of breath and dying.
  4. Everything about swimming is a mystery to me and I feel like I'm trying really hard to solve it but I haven't had a breakthrough yet.
  5. I should find a masters group. Maybe that will help.
  6. Wow, this isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.
  7. I can't believe the mister and I met at team swim when I was in goggles and a swim cap. Good lord.
  8. I wonder how often they clean this pool.
  9. The last time I practiced flip turns, I got food poisoning afterward and threw up. Flip turns and food poisoning are likely totally unrelated, but now I'm afraid.
  10. Remember when I could barely swim one length of the pool?
  11. September 2017. Lake Monona. And then running up the helix afterward to transition.
  12. Must. Swim. More. Often.

taking the leap, again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

I could list all of my excuses, such as "I was in New York eating fried chicken" or "My cat has seasonal allergies" or "The weather was perfect so I rode 70 miles with no prior training or preparation and then slept for like 48 hours afterward." All of these things are absolutely true, but really aren't good enough to explain my disappearance. Therefore: Profuse apologies, etc.

Lazy bloggers go straight to hell, obviously.

Anyway, here's the most exciting thing that's happened since I last wrote:

New bike! (Kidding.)

Arvan, Andrew, Kendra, Megan and I rented a house with a horse-bike in the basement and went to Ironman Wisconsin to cheer, volunteer and -- gasp -- sign up for next year. (Can we just pause for a moment and talk about how awesome it is that my long-time California friends now know my brand-new Minnesota friends, and everyone likes each other, and now we are all going to climb ridiculous hills and moo at cows together? Triathlon is such a beautiful thing.)

Full disclosure: I was on the fence about IM Wisconsin. I originally thought I wanted to do it, but then the bike course changed and Barlow Hill happened. And on top of that, the mister and I have been discussing big life choices and were considering moving back to the West Coast, and I didn't want to commit to 140.6 while moving across the country and looking for a new job and trying to build a new friend network.

I was also sick with the weather-is-changing cold that always seems to happen to me at this time of year.

But in typical fashion, there's just something about Ironman that sucks you in.

Maybe it's the beauty of the swim start, sun rising over the water, the air full of energy and nerves and excitement and hope and yes, a little bit of fear.

Maybe it's getting together with friends and teammates and cheering each other on.

Or maybe it's this song playing while runners head into Run Aid Station 1 and Arvan asks them to wiggle-wiggle-wiggle for ice and they actually laugh and do it.

So I signed up. Which means I will have to live on my bike for the next year and make leg presses part of my normal routine and teach myself to come to terms with hills.

And it also means we're staying put in Minneapolis.

cat lady

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

I am pretty sure this is how you stay single for the rest of your life.

Not pictured: My plush slippers. Because one of the cats puked in them, and I haven't gotten around to washing them yet.

Also: My shirt says "You've cat to be kitten me."

(Can you tell the mister is traveling for work again?) 

soaking up summer

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Everyone is freaking out because Labor Day came and went and summer is supposedly now over and it's just a matter of time before we're all wearing wool sweaters and buried under a layer of ice.

So I'm making the most of these final pre-snowpocalypse days. I've been riding outside as much as possible, whether that means on one of my bikes ...

Made it to the Cathedral of St. Paul!

Or on a bikeshare.

This weekend I cut my run short because I found a Gnarly Ride and absolutely had to grab it. And just where did I take it?

Chocolate almond with an Izzy scoop of raspberry sorbet. Oh yeah!

Ice cream. Duh.

Speaking of adventures in dairy, I went to my very first Minnesota State Fair, where being a princess means you get your face sculpted out of butter.

I told the mister we should have a kid just so she can become a princess and be immortalized in butter and it is our duty as parents to do everything we can to ensure her success. His response: "Have you heard the term 'butter face'?"

OK, mister. You win. This time. (Also, maybe the State Fair people should look at because I'm pretty sure these nice teenage girls don't want to be called butter faces.)

Here's to the final few weeks of not having to wear down-filled coats.

a half marathon happened

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

When Layla and I get together -- like we did for the SeaWheeze half marathon in Vancouver earlier this month -- hilarity ensues.

Dear Vancouver: You were warned.

It's like we forget how to be adults.

Absolutely play with your food.

And pose with taxidermy.

Wait, it gets so much better. Better than you ever thought possible. In fact, the Best Thing Ever.


Dear Asian cosmetics store that convinced us to buy these masks age-defying beauty treatments that allow us to live our dream of being in the cast of "Cats": Thank you. (Although maybe being in "Cats" was entirely my dream and not Layla's. Dear Layla: Thank you for supporting my dream. You are a good friend. And now there is a scary photo of us on the internet forever.)

Oh, and the race? That was fun too. Yes, we waited in line for three hours to get into the expo store and then promptly proceeded to lose our minds and start grabbing everything in sight. But in the end we were rational, narrowed down our purchases and avoided being in debt for the next 20 years due to Luxtreme.

Spotted: The fine line between entrepreneurial and insane.

Shenanigans and shopping aside, the race itself was great -- a lot better than I expected. We all know I've been struggling with motivation when it comes to running. (I can ride my bike all day, every day, but lately with running, I'll do everything possible to come up with excuses. I've actually started running point-to-point routes and taking the Nice Ride bikeshare home because biking has become how I reward myself for slogging through a run.)

Meanwhile, Layla was recovering from an achilles injury. We didn't have high hopes, so we seeded ourselves with the 2:20 pace group. Our plan was to start together and then see what happened -- no pressure to stay together. (Because we're chill and well-adjusted like that.)

At the starting line!

Yet somehow -- I've never done this with anyone ever -- we ran every single step of the race together. The only times we got separated were at the aid stations, but then we always found each other afterward. Both of us finished in exactly 2:13:17. (Feel free to interpret this as a metaphor of our deep and profound friendship.)

And then we took photos with towels on our heads because that's the sort of thing we do. (Again: Friendship.)

Other thoughts on the race: Grab your girl friends and sign up. SeaWheeze is well-organized, the course is pretty (a few little hills -- nice change from the Midwest), the crowd support is awesome and the swag is good (shorts!). But know that the course is long (my Garmin said 13.45), the lines can try your patience (getting the post-race breakfast was insane) and some of the aid stations this year had people dressed in nude full-body leotards jumping around and cheering and it was really scary and I could barely handle it because nude full-body leotards.

However, at Mile 12, there was a man with a sign that said "Think Happy Thoughts," and I may or may not have said "Penis!"


Since SeaWheeze is a lululemon event, there was also a lot of yoga.

I didn't participate; I just took awkward photos of a sea of strangers' butts. 

recent conversation

Monday, August 22, 2016

Me: So if these crackers are called Partners and you are my partner, does this mean I can call you --

The mister: No. Just no.

not your average bike race

Monday, August 08, 2016

You know when something is so awesome you want everyone you like to experience it too? (Meanwhile, the people you don't like can learn about it, only they find out too late, after the event has already sold out, so they stare wistfully at their computer screens while a loud "WOMP WOMP" plays in the background.) That's how I feel about the Urban Assault Ride -- a wacky bike event that's part "Amazing Race," part obstacle course and designed to get you outside, exploring urban trails and learning about the city you live in.

Seriously, it is so much fun.

The mister and I saddled up yesterday to compete as Team Tubby Sharks. (Backstory: He's had a fat stuffed shark named Shark Dog since college. And I had the same exact shark growing up, so clearly it's fate we're together. Only he's a better shark parent than I am, since I have no idea where my shark is now and I periodically text my mom and ask her to look for it, and then she ignores my texts. I have a strong suspicion she's donated my shark to Goodwill. I also have a strong suspicion I may get in trouble for telling the whole world about my boyfriend's stuffed animal.)

Shark Dog is locked and loaded.

The event started at Surly Brewing, and there were five regular checkpoints with challenges (everything from puzzles to obstacles to jumping in a pool with all your clothes on) and two "mystery stops." (You had to solve an anagram to find the first mystery stop, and once you got there, they gave you the clue for the second mystery stop, which was a photo of a tower -- you had to figure out what the tower was and where it was located, and then bike there.)

I was excited to unearth my commuter bike (whose name is Maude and who has been sadly neglected for years and years) and not wear spandex for once. Shark Dog was excited to make new friends.

Here we are at the first checkpoint!

And the mister was excited about our detour to the new Vikings stadium. 

Gorgeous, isn't it? Plus I ate a hot dog while we were there. Because why not preview the food too, right? (Don't worry -- I'm still a Niners fan.)

Then it was off to the first mystery stop at First Avenue ...

... followed by some skateboard bowling at another checkpoint ...

... and some slingshot action. (Note: They make you wear your helmet the whole time, even when you're not on the bike. Clearly, they know how clumsy I am.)

Isn't this a really attractive pose?

My favorite challenge was the paperboy route -- the mister rode in circles and threw newspapers at me, and I had to catch three of them in a plastic USPS box. Super fun and ridiculous.

The event finished back at Surly, with a big wheel ride.

And then everyone got two beer tickets. I gave mine to Shark Dog since I'm a glutard.

"Mmm. Surly Hell is delicious!"

And then we hung out, ate food truck fare and rode mini bikes.

This is way more difficult than it looks.
An awesome way to spend the morning!

return to my roots

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Before I was mediocre at triathlon, I was mediocre at ballet.

And I loved it. I loved the discipline, the technique, the pianist playing in the corner, the French words, the counting to eight and then counting to eight again and again. And even though I knew I'd never have the right feet and I'd started too late to ever be on pointe, I still spent most of my free time every summer in ballet class.

And now, 18 years later, I've finally gone back. I took a beginning ballet class tonight at the Minnesota Dance Theatre & School.

It felt good to put these shoes on again. (I can't believe I actually still have them.) And the pianist played the "Star Wars" theme when we did grand battement at the barre. 

And look at how beautiful this studio is: 

I didn't care that I have pretty much zero flexibility now and that my saute is like maybe a centimeter off the ground (the teacher actually yelled "Jump higher!" at me) and that fondue really just makes me think of cheese. It simply felt wonderful to be there again.


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Now that Vineman is over and there is no pressure to ride for a set number of hours at a target effort, I can get back on my road bike and tool around.

Which is exactly what I did today. Muppet and I took a leisurely cruise, exploring the bike trails around Minneapolis. We stopped for photos when we felt like it, ate and drank when we felt like it, made U-turns and backtracked and said "I wonder where this goes."

And yes, I absolutely refer to us as "we." Because Muppet and I are life partners.

Four young bucks, antlers still covered in velvet.

The country's first public-access natural swimming pool -- gorgeous!

I have no idea what this is, but it makes me think: "Mosquitos!"

finished vineman, hit a toilet

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Today I injured myself on the toilet.

But not the way you think.

I was hanging a mirror on the wall behind the toilet (it's a mirror with little mustaches on it, and I like to hang it behind the toilet so when guys come over -- which really means when the mister comes over since the days of other guys at my house are long gone and not even my dad will visit me because my parents think Minnesota is cold all the time and are afraid of it -- and pee, it looks like they have a mustache on their man parts) and somehow rammed my left shin really hard against the toilet bowl. And now my shin hurts, and a bruise is forming.

But I can't wait for the mister to come back from his business trip to Asia so he can pee at my house.

Anyway, that's kind of what my life has been like lately: Muddling through, nesting, occasionally having misadventures. (Two weeks ago I puked at the ferry terminal in Seattle. But that's another story for another time. And it doesn't involve man parts, so it's not as interesting.)

I did, however, finish Vineman. It seems like awhile ago (especially since the full Ironman Vineman 140.6 happened today, and other bloggers who are better about being bloggers are probably blogging about the 140.6 on their blogs while I'm just now -- almost three weeks later -- getting around to casually mentioning the 70.3).

In a nutshell: I forgot my Garmin, so I did the entire race with no clue what my pace was. (At first, I freaked out a little. But after awhile, not having a watch was refreshing.) I ended up doing a few seconds better than my last Vineman in 2014 on the swim and the bike, and then totally blew up on the run, which was not surprising since I had a late wave start, got caught in the heat and had some stomach problems. And I also haven't been running as much or doing any track workouts this year, so I didn't really deserve a good run anyway.

Out of T2: The best I looked on the run (photo by Layla).

Swim: 47:43 (one day, I swear it, I'll hit 45:00)
T1: 4:03
Bike: 3:25:16 (I love this course more than any other course ever and it will always be joyous)
T2: 3:25
Run: 2:37:17 (I ended up in a port-a-potty for a very long time)
Overall: 6:57:44 (which I'm OK with -- I just wanted a sub-7)

I hate gun time vs. chip time on this thing.

Other random thoughts about Vineman: It's not the race I remember anymore. Ironman completely took it over, so instead of wine barrels at the finish and local sponsors at the expo, the finish line was typical Ironman-style and the sponsors were all national companies. We also had gear bags for the first time ever. And mandatory bike drop-off on Saturday. And there were 500 more athletes in the field, so the race was crowded -- I actually got boxed in on the bike and was worried about drafting penalties (which is something I've never worried about ever because I am usually slow and alone). And at packet pick-up, they routed you through the merchandise tent (which is so Ironman). And no more misting station at La Crema (which was sad, since it was really freaking hot out there).

Pre-race checklist: "Oh shit. My Garmin."

I missed the smaller race feel, and I'll admit I made a few grumpy "back in my day" comments. But that said, I thought T1 was better organized, the buoys on the swim were better and the swim finish was much easier to navigate. I also liked the new T2 setup -- less time awkwardly running with your bike into transition. Oh, and the medals this year were much cooler.

But as always, the very best thing ever about Vineman is how it feels like coming home. I love seeing my friends and riding through my old stomping grounds and feeling grateful for the way triathlon has taught me to be brave when I was going through some really rough times in my life (divorce! death! depression!). I will forever have a special place in my heart for this race.

Best body marking ever.

Vineman isn't Vineman without Layla.

Thank you to Jason, my buddy from IMAZ and sherpa for the day.

Much love also to Coeur Sports -- proud to be an ambassador and represent out there alongside my teammates!
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