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season opener

Did my first triathlon of the season yesterday -- the March Triathlon Series Sprint.

Perhaps the most challenging part of the event was the horribly awkward moment in the transition area, when my friend was setting up his gear and I happened to glance over and realize his brand-new tri suit -- which he was very excited to wear -- was pretty much completely see-through in the back. 

He may as well have been wearing chaps.

Of course I said something. (Wouldn't you want to know if your ass was on display?) And I tried to shield him as best as I could until he put his wetsuit on. But alas, I couldn't do the same on the bike leg. Though perhaps the peepshow worked to his advantage -- he was happy with his race results.

Meanwhile, I most definitely had the best tri kit out there. SOAS Racing: You rock. And you should sponsor me. Becomes I'm so slow that everyone will get to see me in your outfit and think it's cute and want to buy it. Case in point: Yesterday. Nothing like getting complimented on your looks while being passed on the course. Ha.

Too bad the race didn't go exactly as I hoped. Yes, it wasn't the comedy show from last year (thank god), but I didn't do as well as I could have.

Swim: The water was 58 degrees. Normally, I am a freak of nature and this doesn't bother me. But this time, I was so cold that I couldn't take full breaths -- I felt like I was hyperventilating, and I kept having to roll over into the backstroke to catch my breath. I finished in 29:16 -- I had been hoping for closer to 25, if not faster. Horrible, horrible. (But still better than last year's absolutely humiliating, they-should-strip-me-of-my-USAT-card 40:44.)

T1: As usual, my wetsuit got stuck around my ankles -- 2:56. (Again, better than last year's 3:58.)

Bike: My goal was to maintain a 15 mph average pace (I know that is really slow, but one turtle-paced step at a time here). I failed -- hit about a 14.3 mph average. Granted, I had some obstacles (there was a horrible-looking three-person crash, complete with ambulance, on the first downhill, and the volunteers were slowing bikes) and then on the way to T2, I got stuck behind a car that for some reason was trying to drive into the transition area (WTF). Finished in 52:39 (compared to last year's 54:36).

T2: No issues -- out of there in 1:22 (compared to 1:41).

Run: As soon as I started running, I knew this was not my day. Usually running is my favorite event because I'm just so relieved to get off the bike, which usually feels like a tedious grind. Strangely, the bike was my favorite this time around, and running felt like a chore. I was hot. I was parched. And I just barely kept it going -- finished in a stupid 32:19 (I even did better last year -- 27:34).

Overall time was 1:58:35, knocking off 10 minutes from last year's 2:08:37. Not awful, but I feel like I have a lot of work to do. Thankfully, the season has only just begun.

And at least I had a cute outfit.


The good news: I'm officially a certified diver. Which is pretty much awesome.

The bad news: For about two days afterward, I couldn't turn my head, cough, swallow or bend over to pick something up off of the floor without neck pain. I've just started feeling better today (largely due to acupuncture, but we'll save that for a later post).

That scuba equipment was heavy as hell, especially for my shrimpy ass. Imagine strapping a giant anvil to your back and then walking down a long flight of stairs to the beach below, swimming/bobbing around in the waves for a few hours (yes, hours), then hauling yourself out of the ocean and climbing back up all of those stairs.

On the bright side: At least I didn't slip and crack my head open. I'll take neck pain over a broken skull any day.

Anyway, in typical Michaela fashion, I managed to turn the diving experience into a big comedy show. Highlights included:
  • Falling in the surf while trying to put my fins on and not being able to get up. Yes, folks, I was literally that idiot rolling around on her back on the beach, arms and legs flailing. And it took two people to pull me upright. (I fully expect to see this on YouTube.) The performance was then repeated trying to pull my fins off and get out of the water. I believe I was crawling on my hands and knees at one point. And I had to cling to a dive master while he took my fins off for me. I've got talent.
  • Discovering it's completely possible to suddenly feel extremely seasick underwater. Thankfully, this happened during the last dive on Saturday, and I got out of the water without barfing into my regulator. (Side note: Am I the only one who hears that term and automatically thinks of Warren G?) And on Sunday, I took some Bonine, which kept the nausea away, making it possible for me to watch the swaying anemones without feeling like the world was spinning.
  • Losing stuff. Like the snorkel I borrowed from Neveia, which now lies at the bottom of the sea. Oops. I also lost my dive buddy, but I guess that's what happens when the visibility is only 3-4 feet (hooray for cold water diving in Northern California) and they pair you with the guy who shows up late because he's hungover.
Despite these setbacks, I still passed. (Sure, I may not be able to stand upright on the beach, but I can clear my mask underwater and share my air source in an emergency situation, and that counts for something.) And it was pretty sweet under those waves. My deepest dive was 40 feet, and I saw sea urchins (which I really wanted to eat), sand dabs (again, eat), anemones, sand dollars and thick ropes of kelp anchored on rocks -- not too bad considering the visibility was far from great. I also got a few feet away from a sea otter.

Hoping I can do it all again soon. Only with less ridiculousness the next time around.

things that are exciting

Daylight Savings Time. I love it. If it were a person, I'd throw my arms around it and give it a big, huge, slobbery kiss. Because thanks to good ol' DST, I fit in an awesome brick workout Monday night (12-mile ride, followed by 3-mile run) and yesterday managed to ride most of Chalk Hill (just shy of 21 miles) after work with Karen.

You know those people who are obsessed with cycling? I think I get it now. It truly is the best feeling to leave my desk and get on my bike -- it's like a transformation. As cheesy as this sounds, when that wind starts rushing over me, all of the silly worries and stresses of the day are forgotten. (Although this could also be because cycling into a headwind really sucks, and when you're doing it, it's hard to think about anything else.)

This weather. It's March and 70 degrees here. And I spent today's lunch break at the pool with a 900-yard workout (300 warmup, 100 single-arm drills, 200 pull, 8 x 25 on the 45, 50 kickboard, 50 cool down). And if my toenails weren't totally disgusting right now, I'd probably be in sandals.

Cured meats. Last week, I took a fantastic meat-curing and sausage-making class led by Berry from Butcher & Cook and Sarah from Fork Catering. See this slab of pork belly?

It's been covered in salt, garlic and rosemary and curing in my refrigerator for the past week. Tomorrow I get to take it out, rinse it off and figure out where on earth I'm going to put it to finish the curing process. That's right -- I live in a shoebox with two very hungry cats, and I somehow have to find a place to hang a piece of meat for, oh, a good month or so. I'm leaning toward the topmost kitchen cabinet (you know, the one that short people like me pretty much never use because we can't reach it). Will keep you posted.

Scuba. I know I only briefly alluded to getting scuba certified, but it's happening! I finished the classroom and pool work last month, and this weekend, I'm headed to Monterey to tackle the open water skills test -- in what will likely be ridiculously frigid water with only about 5 feet of visibility. But I bet it will still be beautiful down there. Monterey is supposed to have some gorgeous kelp forests.

The one thing that will suck: Hauling all of this stuff around.

It took me four trips to take all of this out of my car and lug it to the pool. Bringing it to the ocean will definitely be interesting.

Europe. It's early, but plane tickets for Berlin have been purchased and a tentative itinerary has been set. Looks like Germany, Slovenia and Croatia (with some diving off the Dalmatian Coast) are in my future. Thankfully, the marathon is in the early part of the trip, so I can go completely food-crazy afterward. Oh, sausage and seafood and palańćinka -- here I come!

the birds and the bikes

Perhaps when the scientific community came up with the term "ornithology," what they really meant was porno-thology. Because first there were the ducks, and then there was the horny chicken and today there were hawks.

Karen and I were enjoying a wonderful yay-it's-Daylight-Savings-so-we-can-ride-our-bikes-more experience on Burndale Road in Sonoma (part of a 27-mile-ride), when I heard strange chirping noises, looked upward and was greeted by the sight of hawks humping on a telephone wire.

Luckily for you, I didn't take any photos of the amorous couple. (I was too busy yelling "Hawks are having sex!" at the top of my lungs. Dear residents of Burndale Road: Sorry.)

But I did take a photo of this guy:

I have no idea what he is (Pan, is that you? Where is your flute?), but look at those horns! He puts unicorns to shame!

Oh, and we also stopped at the Epicurean Connection and had a cheese plate. (Side note: If you ever have the chance to experience Dunbarton Blue at some point in your life, do it.)

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a Very Serious Cyclist.

(Actually, though, these tooling-around-town rides really do have a point. I'm much more comfortable in traffic now. And today I practiced riding with one hand and sprinting in the drops. And riding is so fun now that I look forward to it every weekend.)

spring has sprung

How did it suddenly become March?

I guess this is what happens when weekdays are spent in meetings, weekends on ridiculously long bike rides (I've already hit the 57-mile mark) and mornings helping chickens masturbate.

Yes, you read that correctly. And yes, this is probably something I should not admit to the entire world, especially via the Interwebs. (To everyone I know or will end up knowing at some point in my life: I'm normal. I swear.)

The whole thing started when I noticed McNugget would squat down and push up her elbows (do chickens have elbows?) every time I walked next to her. I thought this meant she wanted to be picked up, so I would carry her around while I refreshed the feeding troughs, worked in the garden, etc. (In case you are wondering, this was awkward. And I was constantly scared she was going to poop on me.) But then I told a friend's mom (who is my chicken guru) about McNugget's behavior.

The chicken guru conclusion: McNugget thinks I'm a rooster (maybe it's the awesome blue rubber boots I wear to work in the chicken yard?), and I should "tickle her under her wings and see what happens."

So I did.

And that chicken's ass swiveled up into the air faster than you could say "Sexual healing."

One more skill I can add to my resume.