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Nothing makes you want to do an iron-distance race more than watching your friend go through the experience. I flew back to California this past weekend (I think maybe I'm addicted to airports?) to volunteer at the Vineman 140.6 and support Arvan for his first full.

This involved getting up at an obscenely early hour to start my shift as a bodymarker (yes, that's a real thing, and yes, I got to touch a lot of biceps and legs) at 4:30 a.m. I can't believe people trusted me with a Sharpie and their limbs after I got only 2.5 hours of sleep and was quite possibly a little bit hungover.

We can thank the Postal Service for that one.

(By the way, if I bought tickets months and months in advance to see a band who released only one album a decade ago and then I flew from out of state to use said tickets, does this mean I'm somehow psychologically stuck in my mid-20s? Perhaps that example of overanalysis is yes.)

Anyway. So I was saying: Arvan.   

I remember the first time I met him. I had signed up for Heart & Sole's marathon training group to prepare for Portland in 2010. Our first long group run was in Sonoma, and Arvan was there, doing the Jeff Galloway run-walk thing. He had never completed a marathon before. 

And now look at him. All pumped up and ready for those 140.6 miles. I will never stop being amazed by where life can take you.

I bodymarked Arvan on race morning and drew a happy face on his leg for good luck.

(A few random side thoughts on bodymarking, since this was the first time I ever did it: It's a little strange and oddly personal. You touch strangers and get up close to their skin. You see the scars on their knees from when they crashed their bikes, or grim lines that are reminders of past surgeries. You feel the stubble on the men who tried to shave for the event but didn't quite get it right, and you feel the stubble on the women who basically just don't believe in shaving, period. You see people's tattoos and you wonder about the story behind them. You feel a little apologetic when a shivering athlete has to take off her sweatshirt so you can write on her bicep, a little awkward when you have to kneel in front of a male athlete with his sweats around his ankles. And sometimes those strangers ask you to write a name on their arms -- something they can look at and remember and honor during the toughest parts of their race.)

The other fun thing about Saturday's race: The full and half Aquabike and Barb's Race were also happening at the same time, so I got to see several familiar faces, including Gwen.

Isn't she adorable waving in her wetsuit? 

Gwen was an incredible mentor when I started getting into open water. She printed out aerial maps of the Russian River for me, pointed out all the shallow parts, warned me about the big "weed patch" growing in the water and basically just kept me from freaking out. I wouldn't be where I am now without her.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Friends are the best part of triathlon.

That and scavenging (well, if you're a hoarder, which I am not, except for maybe when it comes to cats and any kind of food item that has truffles in it -- I seem to have endless jars of truffle salt). Because so much shit gets abandoned at races that you could basically redo your entire summer shoe wardrobe:

Arvan finished in 14:48:18. I wasn't at the finish line (largely due to my lack of sleep the night before -- ack!), but Thai was there -- she ran him in and said he was practically glowing. Then she texted me this photo:

Rock star status!

adult happiness is overrated

The only German phrase I know is: "Haribo macht kinder froh!" This is the first line of the Haribo candy song (did you know Haribo invented the gummy bear?), and it means "Haribo makes children happy." The next verse is something about making adults happy too, but I can't pronounce it, so too bad for adult happiness. (That's what Prozac and molten chocolate cake are for anyway.)

So why exactly do I even know the Haribo song (or at least part of it)? Because Karen insisted I learn it to prepare myself for the Berlin Marathon, which is in two months. I love Karen's logic: Who cares if I can't ask anyone where the bathroom is or how to find the subway? I can sing about gummy bears making children happy!

If only gummy bears would do something miraculous for my running because it sucks right now. I started my brand-spanking-new training plan (thank you, Coach Mark) on Monday. And the two runs I've done so far have been god-awful. I have zero speed. This morning's run was so bad that I started to hope my Garmin was broken.

Thankfully, I'm on the road to getting myself back in shape. In addition to an actual training plan, I've started Pilates again. Before I moved, I was taking private reformer sessions once a week -- I did this for about two years, and it helped so much with injury prevention. I've definitely noticed a difference since I stopped classes -- my body has felt a little off-kilter and uneven, and I've had more aches and soreness.

But now I've found a fantastic instructor here: Jessica Notman of Emerald City Pilates. Not only is she a Pilates guru (with a Stott background to boot), but she's a triathlete who comes from the competitive swimming world. And she works in nutrition and gut health too! Match made in heaven, I tell you.

Tonight we did exercises focusing on scapula rotation -- in other words, stuff that leads to better swimming form and improved efficiency. She also helped iron out the tightness in my quads and lower back.

I felt so good and relaxed afterward that I walked home instead of catching the bus. A smart decision, since I was treated to this gorgeous view:

Contrary to popular belief, there is sun in Seattle.

officially crazy

Some time in June, this conversation happened:

And it's haunted me ever since. All I have thought about for the past few weeks (besides cats and molten chocolate lava cake and how I really should get my Washington state license plates already but I dread standing in line at the vehicle licensing office) has been: I want to do an Ironman.

Here are the top five reasons why:

1. The past few months have been all about big life changes and doing things that scare me. I am terrified of Ironman. Which makes it perfect.

2. I have no friends here in Seattle. (OK, I take that back. I have two friends. And no, I'm not referring to my cats.) Therefore I have no social life to give up and no one to piss off when I devote myself completely and totally to Ironman training.

3. If I'm going to blend in with the locals, I need more tattoos. M-dot, here I come.

4. I've never formally trained for a triathlon. Sure, I swam and rode and ran, but I never had a plan on paper. I can't do that for Ironman -- there's no faking your way through 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of riding and a marathon. I want to know how my body will respond if I actually take training seriously. If I can knock 29 minutes off of my bike leg having ridden only three times (no joke) in the two months leading up to Vineman, what would happen if I had a real plan?

5. I fucking love triathlon. It's challenging and painful and consuming, but it's a ridiculous amount of fun.

So what I'm trying to say (but having a tough time admitting because then it will be in print and not just a drunken declaration and I will actually be accountable) is: Ironman 2014. I'm going for it. I've hired a coach (with my travel schedule and total lack of discipline, I felt this would be the smartest move), joined a tri team, opened a Training Peaks account (quite possibly the most Type A training tool I have ever encountered -- I'm surprised it doesn't allow you to submit photos of your poo, since it pretty much records everything else) and started researching races (more on this later, but the two I'm deciding between couldn't possibly be more different from each other).

I'm not quite sure what to expect from the next 12-16 months, but here's to adventure and a heavy dose of insanity.

wheatless in seattle

This food post is long overdue. Seattle is an incredible place to eat. I can go on and on about the seafood here and how I had the best oysters of my life at The Walrus and the Carpenter and how I died over my first Copper River salmon experience and how I ate my way through 10 rounds of omakase sushi at Shiro's. (No joke. Ten rounds. I win.)

But instead I'll focus on gluten-free eating in the Emerald City. I gave up the wheat in the weeks leading to Vineman (no soy sauce on those 10 rounds of sushi, by the way). As a result, I feel like so much less of a fat-ass and just so much better physically. So I'm planning to stick to the diet. Yes, I think it's fine to cheat every now and then (with, for example, foie gras sliders at RN74 paired with Washington Riesling -- the ultimate sin in so many ways) since I don't have celiac disease, but for the most part, no gluten for me.

Thankfully, wheatless in Seattle (sorry, had to) doesn't mean boring. Here are a few of my favorite food finds:

Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery: Do I really have to say more? Molten chocolate cakery. Holy freaking orgasm and a half.

Is the above photo not the most amazing thing you've ever seen in your whole life? That's the Peanut Butter Cup, a gluten-free milk chocolate cake with peanut butter fudge, peanut butter ganache and vanilla ice cream. I waited in a very long line for this, and it was worth every second. In fact, it was so good that I went back two days later and waited in a very long line again. And now I want to move into the Hot Cakes kitchen. Do you think they charge pet rent? (Side note: For those freakshows who don't like peanut butter as much as I do, the Dark Decadence cake is also gluten-free.)

Juicy Cafe: The menu here is pretty much everything I like to eat when I'm feeling healthiest -- juices, green smoothies, quinoa bowls overflowing with vegetables, gluten-free oat "energy balls" (again, go with the peanut butter -- it's awesome). I've made the roughly 1.5 mile round-trip walk to Juicy Cafe from my office at least one or two times a week since I discovered this place.

Biscuit Bitch: Yes, folks, gluten-free biscuits and gravy exist! And they are ridiculously good. I'm a fan of the Gritty Scrambled Cheesy Bitch with gluten-free biscuits and gluten-free/vegetarian mushroom gravy: 

Fatty goodness, even without the wheat. The only downside to this place: Its proximity to Pike Place Market. The line is almost always out the door, and you have to battle tourists. (I say that like I've lived here longer than two months. Ha. I'm a bitch. A bitch who eats at Biscuit Bitch.)

Thanh Son Tofu: This is a teeny-tiny Vietnamese deli that makes fresh tofu and soy milk -- so fresh that when you buy it, the tofu and the soy milk are still warm. I've been using the soy milk in tea and smoothies here at home, and the tofu is fantastic for all kinds of vegetarian cooking. The best part: This place is ridiculously inexpensive. You can buy an insane amount of food for $12. (Also, there are a lot of other Vietnamese foods here, as well as a sticky rice bar and a fried tofu bar.) 

I Love My GFF: Found this little food cart tonight at the Queen Anne Farmers Market. They make quinoa bowls with tons of vegetables, beans and pumpkin seeds. I ordered the Fiesta Bowl, sat barefoot on the grass and basically just had a glorious eating experience.

Flying Apron: A gluten-free vegan bakery. My jaw dropped when I walked in because I took one look at the bakery case and its cookies and muffins and pastries and breads and thought: I can haz all the things and not poop! My favorite items are the chocolate chip coconut muffin (it's like crack) and the plain old chocolate chip cookie.

Cafe Flora: This is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant very close to one of the beaches I swim at, making it the perfect post-workout reward. But only if the workout was a really tough one, since this place is a little pricier than some of the other options in this post. This was the arugula and potato cake with English peas, green beans, fennel and port-infused cherries:  

Pie: My obsession with savory pies began when I went to Australia, and it has never waned since. Pie has one gluten-free savory option available each day, and I usually just roll with whatever that option is because it's pretty much always good. Like this broccoli and cheese pie (which I liked so much that I couldn't even wait to take a photo before I started eating it):

Silence-Heart-Nest: Hippie food at its hippiest (the servers wear saris and there are cards with inspirational quotes at every table -- brace yourself if you're not into this feel-good, positive-thinking stuff) and a great spot for a vegan gluten-free brunch. I like the huevos rancheros, and I'm also a fan of the Ginger Blast, a drink made with lemon, ginger, honey and cayenne that comes iced or hot (I prefer hot -- it's more soothing).

As for beer alternatives (that aren't wine or gin, which is what I typically drink), I love the Sea Cider Wild English Brett Aged Dry Cider, which I found at Brouwer's (fantastic spot if you're a beer lover). I normally don't like cider because it's too sweet (and brings back bad memories from college), but the Brettanomyces in this one really adds another dimension -- makes the cider much more refreshing and "manly" (is that a descriptor?) vs. cloying and sweet. Also, it's really nice to have something to drink in a beer bar so you don't feel like an awkward loser.

So that's my gluten-free roundup for now. The only thing I'm still really searching for is a good pizza option. So far, I've sampled three places, and all three of them use Udi's pizza crust as a base, which tastes good, but seems lazy and overpriced to me. Why should I pay $19 for a gluten-free pizza when I can go to the grocery store and buy the same crust for $5 and make my own damn pizza at home? Dear pizza places: Fail. Maybe I will have to make a slice of pizza one of my occasional cheat foods and hit up Serious Pie

another vineman in the books

You know what the best post-race reward is? The Nordstrom anniversary pre-sale. There's nothing quite like limping into the store to meet your personal shopper (yes, folks, this is how I roll) and slip your blistered feet, black toenails and all, into pair after pair of new shoes for the fall. (Confession: I didn't buy everything I tried on. So someone somewhere is going to end up with the shoes my gross feet have been in. Sorry.)

In other words: I successfully finished my second 70.3. And I miraculously took 10 minutes off of last year's time. Yes, I missed my secretly hoped-for goal of a sub-7 finish, which was a little disappointing, but considering I didn't really train and was in bed with a 101-degree fever exactly three weeks before race day, I'm not going to complain. I'm just going to shop.

Here's how race day went:

Mentally, I felt suspiciously calm leading up to the race. This was most likely complete and total denial. Reality struck on race morning when I found myself surrounded by very expensive bikes and very fit-looking people. I clearly remember turning to my friend Megan and announcing: "I feel like I'm going to shit my pants."

Luckily, my parents were there to cheer me on, and since I haven't shit my pants in front of them since that time in the second grade when I had really, really bad stomach flu, I wasn't about to start. Instead, I took goofy pre-swim photos and hoped for the best.

Side note: I love that my dad's pre-race advice was to take it easy, try not to go for a personal best and basically just don't die or get injured. Clearly, this is why I never played sports as a child.

Swim: OK, but not great. I started off way too fast and had to calm myself down. And then the water got really shallow, so I ended up wading a lot. Overall, I found it difficult to gauge my speed, and I generally felt slow since it seemed like three waves of people (pink caps, dark green caps, blue caps) passed me. But the funny thing was I finished in 49:11, compared to last year's 49:00.

T1: That would be me sitting on the ground in the center of this photo. 

I know they say no sitting in transition, but hey, I'm a rule-breaker. And I'm also really clumsy, so if I don't sit to take my wetsuit off, I'll fall and probably knock over all of the bike racks. Anyway, I was out of there in 5:12, compared to last year's 6:12.

Bike: I cannot tell you how much I love my bike. I cannot even begin to explain it, except that it involves singing cheesy Taylor Swift songs to her ("It's a love story / Baby, just say yes") while I pedal. The second I climb on board Muppet, it just feels right. Yes, the first little hill after the right turn on Sunset scared me some because I huffed and puffed up it, but it always takes me a few miles to warm up. And once I got going, I really enjoyed those rollers and playing with momentum. All I have to say is the bike leg this year was worlds better than last year -- faster, more fun, less stressful. The only real awkward moment was when a Picky Bar slipped out of my shorts and somehow ended up underneath me on the saddle, so my race-addled mind for a moment thought: Why is this so uncomfortable? What happened to my saddle? Omg, did I grow a penis?! And then I figured it out and sort of moved my butt around until I ejected the Picky Bar behind me. You know, like if Muppet pooped gluten-free nutritional products. I finished the bike leg in 3:42:56, compared to last year's painful 4:11:21. (And then I kind of wanted to make out with Muppet afterward because I was so freaking excited to cut so much time off of my split.) 

T2: Nothing out of the ordinary. Although I probably should've eaten my bag of Kettle Chips because it soon became apparent that I was seriously lacking salt -- 4:44, compared to 5:24 last year.

Run: Immediately, I knew something was wrong. The stomach cramps started. And I tried so hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other (thank you so much to my awesome friend Greg for riding along next to me, chatting and encouraging me to keep going), but it was tough. I walked most of those first two miles and would've kept doing the death march if a volunteer hadn't suggested I take some salt tabs. And then I remembered I had salt tabs in the pocket of my water bottle. (See? Total race-addled brain.) And then I started taking them and -- surprise! -- I could run again! Unfortunately, I think I was so dehydrated already by that point (also, it was really hot) that I kept feeling like I had to pee, but every time I tried to use the port-a-potty, nothing would come out. This happened three times, and it wasn't pleasant. And I started to worry that I had somehow given myself a urinary tract infection mid-race. (Again, was it sitting on that damn Picky Bar?) Anyway, I pushed through and ended up running most of the course. Granted, my running is really slow since I basically haven't been training at all, and I finished in a dismal 2:40:26, compared to last year's decent 2:20:48. (And this is what cost me my sub-7 finish. Ugh!)

Still, when someone's taking a photo, try to look like your insides don't hurt (thanks again to Greg for this shot):

I finished with an overall time of 7:22:29, compared to last year's 7:32:45. It wasn't my perfect race, but I was ecstatic about my bike split and learned a lot about what I need to do for nutrition (salt, salt, salt). And hey, a 10-minute PR is still a PR, even if I didn't make my goal time.

Onward and upward!

pro vs. age grouper

So the friend I'm crashing with for race weekend is also hosting a pro triathlete from Denmark.

Don't worry. I didn't secretly go through the guy's things and start trying on his gear. Even I have limits. This is actually the shirt Martin gave to my friend as a thank-you for hosting. (I really want to steal it, though.)

Chatting with a pro has been interesting. He told us all about pee testing and how he has to be available every single day from 6 to 7 a.m. in case a random pee test needs to be done.

We also discussed white tri suits. He likes them (ack!), but says he gets them custom-made so the suits are not completely white but have strategic color-blocking in "key" areas. Apparently, his sponsor will pretty much make any tri suit for him exactly the way he wants it. If he's going to wear black and yellow shoes, for instance, they'll make him a suit to match. And then he showed us what I like to refer to as "outfit options" for tomorrow, and it was kind of awesome to help him choose what to wear. I'm such a girl.

(On a side note: Custom-made tri suits?! I am insanely jealous. Can you imagine the joy of designing gear however way you want it? I would make a tri suit to match my cats! Hell, I would make tri suits for my cats!)

(Clearly this is why I will never be a pro. That and total mediocrity.)

Other pro vs. age-grouper conversation highlights:

Me: Are you worried about the heat tomorrow?
Martin: No. I'll be done by 10 or 10:30.
Me: Oh. Nevermind.

Me: I'm thinking about one day doing Ironman Arizona, but it sells out so quickly.
Martin: I had no problem getting in.
Me: Um, you're a pro.

Also, while I shipped Muppet to the tri store in town and had them re-assemble her and tune her up, pros apparently travel with their bikes and assemble them themselves. If I tried that, my bike would probably fall apart mid-race and then I would cry and hate myself.

However, I bet Martin's bike doesn't have a name.

And finally, no conversation with me is truly complete until you talk about poo. Key topic: When it's OK to shit your pants during a race. If you're a pro and you have a chance at the podium, it's OK. If you're a pro and you don't really have a chance at the podium, but you're still trying really hard, it's gross, but people will think you're bad-ass and crazy because you don't care about running in your own poop.

But if you're an age-grouper, the answer is pretty much no. Do NOT shit your pants. It's not worth it. Ever.

And with that, I'll now finish putting my run gear together and head over to the expo.

reunited and it feels so good

Arrived in Sonoma County this evening. And as I think about Vineman and what I'm most excited for this weekend, it's definitely seeing the pro men in spandex.

Oh wait.

Joking aside, what I am absolutely thrilled about is seeing my friends. Man, I've missed them. Friends are such a big part of why I love triathlon -- I've met the most incredible, inspiring, goofy and sometimes downright insane (because you have to be a little loopy to like doing this shit) people through this sport.

Some of my favorite tri moments over the past two years:

Arvan, who knows every word to every song and will sing through an entire metric century without losing breath ...

Our road trip to San Luis Obispo for MTS in 2012 ...

Finishing my first 70.3 ...

(Thank you, Layla, for this photo -- a moment I'll never forget!)

My last long ride in Sonoma County before the big move (of course it included a bakery stop!) ...

How triathlon (and the interwebs) brought Kimra and I together for cycling and cheese tasting ...

And I can't say enough about Thai and our shenanigans ...

I told her last night that I imagine us running across the transition area to each other, sort of like in a romance novel, but with wetsuits.

And there are so many other moments -- learning the ins and outs of the Russian River with Gwen on our post-work swims, masters classes with David and Coach Karen, braving riding with the Red Peloton gals (one of the scariest things I have ever done), soul-baring talks with Neveia while running, exploring Seattle's open water with Heidi.

Grateful to have met such amazing folks.


Six days until the big race. I think maybe this means I'm tapering now. But if I didn't actually really train, am I actually really tapering? Such are the big questions in my life at the moment. (Other big questions: What can I eat next? Is it time for third lunch? What do cats think about all day?)

I did my last long ride this past Thursday -- 56 miles. Which brought my total bike mileage last week to 109 -- the most I've ever ridden in one week in my whole life. (By the way, I don't necessarily recommend going from zero miles one week to 109 miles the next. Especially if you'd like to retain sensation in your lady parts.) Highlights from the ride included this random field somewhere near Redmond:

The random guy who rode up next to me just to tell me that the matchy-matchiness of my bike kit was awesome. (Seriously, why isn't the fourth event in triathlon a fashion contest? I could go pro.)

And this random prison park bathroom that was much worse than any dirty port-a-potty I have ever been in:

There were no stall doors. And no toilet seats. And dirty toilet paper everywhere. And have I ever told you that I have recurring dreams about awkward horrible bathrooms? Like bathrooms where the stall door is too short, so everyone can see you sitting there on the toilet. And bathrooms where the toilets are overflowing. And bathrooms where the toilets are arranged in a group format, so everyone goes together. And bathrooms where the floor leading up to the toilet is so steep that you have to crawl on your hands and knees to make it to the commode without slipping. (I am a normal person, I swear.)

Imagine my horror when I stepped into this bathroom and my nightmares became reality! And yet I went anyway, because I really had to go and I pee really fast, so I figured I could out-pee anyone who might walk in. (Peeing should be another triathlon event. I would also win that one.)

I also swam at Alki over the weekend. (Look! I have friends here in Seattle!)

And then did a little SUP afterward.

Another personal nightmare: Photos of myself in a bikini. Apparently, tapering means facing your demons head-on. Or maybe butt-on, as this photo would imply.

it's (not) always a good time

Toughest swim of my life this evening.

Perhaps I should've known things would not bode well when I arrived at Madison Park Beach (an hour early, by the way, just to add to the awkwardness) and found the place completely overrun by tattooed hipsters chain-smoking and basically just re-enacting that Owl City song.

If there's anything that makes me feel old and frumpy and like someone who would make a lame Owl City reference about a song that is overplayed and so six months ago, it's hipsters. But the worst part: I'm strangely jealous of those girls in their mismatched bikinis with their bearded boyfriends. For example, today I saw one such girl with a tattoo that said "Meow." And all I could think about was: Why the hell didn't I come up with that first? Instead I have a stupid unicorn on my ass.

But let's just pretend you don't know about the tattoo I got when I was 18 or about my secret hipster envy-hatred. (Is that a term? And, more importantly, when did I suddenly become the angry jock?) Because this is really all just verbal diarrhea anyway since my brain can no longer function due to the complete and total ass-kicking I received tonight.

(Also, my cats are actually the ones who are typing this right now since I can't lift my arms. If anything in this post is TMI, blame the cats.)

Lake Washington pummeled me for 1.2 miles -- I've never swum in water this choppy before. I felt like I was getting slapped in the face over and over again, sometimes even with little bits of debris. And to add to the fun, both of my calves cramped at the same time not just once, but twice. And then a stray rope of milfoil wrapped itself around me, and I couldn't get it off.

Not too long ago, I would've completely freaked out and started crying and hauled myself up on some stranger's boat deck and begged for a ride back to my car. But this time, I literally just put my head down and fought through it. I knew I had the physical ability to do the swim -- I just needed to control what was happening psychologically. Because really, the worst thing you can possibly do in water is panic.

And I was fine. My swim buddies stuck with me, even with the cramping, so I was never alone. I focused on keeping my legs relaxed and just used my arms to pull me in. And I slowed my mind down -- no racing thoughts about being strangled by milfoil.

It worked. I made it in. This wasn't a great swim by any means -- god knows I probably looked like I was flailing -- but I'll take mental fortitude as a small victory. 

Also, I refuse to show fear in front of hipsters.

cautiously optimistic

Vineman is 12 days away. And even though I've had an assload my fair share of setbacks -- including ever-so-slightly spraining my ankle this past Sunday night when I tripped over a pair of shoes in my hotel room in the dark (sometimes even I am truly amazed by my talent) -- I'm telling myself everything will be OK on race day.

Yes, the nasty, juicy, I'm-hacking-so-hard-I-might-barf coughs are still happening. (And so is the non-stop travel -- I was in SF this weekend.) But I can swim without discomfort. In fact, I got my first open water workout as a Seattle-ite (is that a word?) done last week. The PR gal at one of the major wine companies here is a swimmer, and she encouraged me to join an organized swim -- complete with kayak support and coaching -- on Lake Washington, from Martha Washington Park to Seward and back.

The experience was absolutely incredible -- an amazing, supportive group of people who truly love swimming and an unbelievably gorgeous location. The water was a just-right 66 degrees, and at one point after the turnaround, the clouds parted and the sun shot through -- if only I could describe the way the light looked on the water. We swam 1.2 miles (though I suspect I swam more, since my sighting was horrible and I basically zig-zagged all over the place), and I felt so happy and so lucky to be out there in the water. (Never in my life did I think swimming would make me feel this high, by the way.)

I'm also running again. It's slow-going, and if I have to stop at a crosswalk or take a break for any reason, the cough-gag thing kicks in pretty violently. But I slogged through a short heat run last week (it's possible race day temps could be around 100 degrees, so I'm trying to brace myself for the worst) and got an 8-miler in on Sunday.

Sweaty, post-run me -- kind of ick, but pretty happy to be running again. (And yes, I guess I'm officially the dorky person who snaps workout selfies at the gym. But I try to do it only when no one is looking. At least, when I hope no one is looking.)

And I am finally back on my bike. I went a little nutso yesterday and rode 53 miles. This really wasn't what I was planning to do, but I couldn't help it. Once Muppet and I were reunited, we just couldn't stop. Yes, there were scary moments (I officially hate riding across the Ballard Bridge -- the bike lane is one person wide, and you end up playing chicken with people coming the opposite direction -- it's all kinds of horrible), but for the most part, I had a great time out there. Rode all the way out to Woodinville and back.

The "back" part was interesting, though. Since I live on top of a ginormous hill, there's really no easy way to get home. I finished my ride with about a 1-mile steady climb and was pretty much a mess of sweat, snot and dead bugs (yup -- it was death to winged insects if they flew into my sticky, sunscreen-slathered legs) when I returned to the house.

So tired that I couldn't even get Muppet up the stairs!

So I'm hoping for the best and trying to stay out of panic mode. Yes, I do feel a little like I'm cramming for a test at this point, but I'm just going to keep reminding myself that everything will be fine. I've done what I can. This has been far from a perfect training cycle (can you really even call this training?), but it is without a doubt an adventure.