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back to normal life now

And that pretty much sums up how I feel about last week. I love my job and I love introducing people to Washington wine country, but man, pooping in your own toilet without worrying if anyone will hear or need to use the bathroom afterward feels really, really good.

And believe me, you make a lot of poop when you find yourself having so little time that breakfast means guiltily shoveling fast food into your face in the corner of a hotel ballroom while setting up for a wine seminar.

So much shame.
I'm also really thrilled to get back to a regular training schedule. I only managed one workout last week -- a short, 30-minute run through the vineyard. The view was gorgeous; my huffing and puffing was not.

I love me a good sunrise.

Anyway, as I make the transition back to normal life, I thought I'd share some fashion highlights from this weekend's tasting. (You know, since I'm the epitome of age-appropriate workplace fashion in my Uggs, leggings-as-pants and puffy NorthFace jackets.)

First, let me point out that Comicon was also happening in Seattle at the same time. So I think this is a costume for that, or else maybe someone was pouring mead at one of the tables and of course it had to be magical mead with the secret power to open a time-traveling doorway to another period and then she stepped through and boom, things got crazy.

Although not quite as crazy as when the Sugar Plum Fairy arrived and we all found ourselves in Prom 2. Cue up the Alphaville, folks.

"Forever young, I want to be forever young ..."

Best part: She showed up again the next day, ready for the races. 

(Seriously, though, I think she was a vendor at the event and decided to dress a little wacky to stand out from the crowd. Which clearly worked because now I can't stop writing about her. Dear crazy fashion lady: I applaud you.)

And then there was this:

Again, I'm pretty sure he was a vendor and this was the outfit he had to wear for work (where do these people work and why?), but the denim on denim plus the overall romper plus the rugby socks? Amazing.

Obviously, I celebrated the culmination of a successful event by rushing out and buying the Exact Same Denim Overall Romper.

Just kidding. I drank whiskey and ate a huge steak. 

playing tour guide

Don't worry. I'm not still on the trainer.

I'm in wine country for yet another crazy whirlwind multi-day media tour during which I make my guests sleep in a different part of Washington State every single night because unpacking your suitcase is overrated.

I also subject them to discussions of topics such as "What is the weirdest food you've ever eaten?"

Guest: "I tried grasshoppers. Just to say I tried them."

Coworker: "I've eaten a cricket."

Me: "I had worms once!"

Insert awkward pause here.

Anyway, Tuesday night we were in the Horse Heaven Hills AVA. This was the view from our guest house: 

Almost as good as worms.

And this was my bathroom.

I made an effort to poop a lot just so I could spend as much time in it as possible.

Wednesday we toured The Rocks District of Milton-Freewater AVA, which was just approved as an appellation in February and is the Walla Walla Valley's first sub-appellation and also located entirely in Oregon, which at first might seem confusing since I work for Washington, but the Walla Walla Valley actually crosses the border into Oregon and since The Rocks District is part of Walla Walla, I get to go there and bring people with me. 

And if this still doesn't make sense, stop asking, just accept and pick up that bottle.

Gee, I wonder why it's called The Rocks District.

Today we explored the Red Mountain AVA, where we hiked up a hillside to the highest-elevation vineyard in the appellation. I sang "Climb Every Mountain" and imagined we were escaping to Switzerland. 

Which one of us is Gretl?

Now I'm in this fancy tent. (I almost chose the fancy yurt instead, but the fancy yurt is shared with other people, and I didn't want to force my fancy neuroses on them, so I opted for solo fancy-ness.)

The fancy tent has better decor than my apartment.

Tomorrow we make one more stop in the Yakima Valley AVA and then head into Seattle for this big shindig all weekend. 

This has nothing to do with wine, but it's pretty.

(Side note: Today I did a phone interview with a local paper about the weekend's festivities. I said: "Everything starts tomorrow -- Thursday." And then went on and on about the itinerary for the next few days. And then after we hung up, I realized today is actually Thursday, not tomorrow. Which means everything is actually starting right now. But since I am in the middle of nowhere and living out of a suitcase, I have lost all sense of time. I may have also lost all sense of sanity. But that's assuming I had any sanity to begin with.)

tgif. or something.

Guess how I'm spending my Friday night?

I have four hours on the trainer, and I'm only 30 minutes in.

Dear downstairs neighbors: I am so, so very sorry.

Also, does anyone know if the Octopus Bar delivers? (Is it bad to want nachos and a Slow & Low on the trainer?)

adult decisions

I heard somewhere that you're not supposed to eat after a certain time at night because something about your metabolism and something else about being more likely to gain weight. (Hey, I never said I was a scientist. I just listen. And obviously retain in great detail.)

Anyway, I'm eating a bunch of pizza with ranch dressing right now. And I'm in pajamas. And it's bedtime.

I never said listening means practicing what you hear.

Kind of like how being a journalist doesn't automatically equal accuracy.

This is an actual real thing from my actual real job actually really recently.

Sometimes, however, you do have to proofread pick the adult choice. Which is what I had to do when the most unfortunately timed food poisoning incident ever was followed last week by some kind of viral thing that took out my lungs (please refer to the previous statement about not being a scientist).

(Your eyes do not deceive you. It's entirely possible I brainwashed my phone to always refer to me as "The Greatest Cat Lady Ever.")

So yes, I have withdrawn from New Orleans. We all know Sazeracs triathlons aren't cheap, and I couldn't justify the cost of airfare, lodging, rental car, getting my bike there, etc., when I know I'm not where I should be with training and fitness (see earlier comment about pizza and ranch dressing) and would just end up fumbling through the race and most likely not feeling very well afterward.

I know this is the responsible choice. (And Coach Mark strongly encouraged it.) But I do feel a bit like a quitter. And it's bizarre not to have a 70.3 lined up for this year anymore -- makes me feel a little unmoored. (If you're reading this and have race suggestions, I'm all ears. And I promise I'll pay more attention than I did with the optimal time for pizza-eating.)

So I guess I am taking each day as it comes, baby steps, focusing on building my bike fitness up again. Went for a two-hour ride (outdoors, with sun!) last weekend. I definitely have a long road ahead, but I'm ready to work. I may not be headed to New Orleans anymore, but let's see where else this adventure will go.

let it go

(I'm sorry. I like that movie.)

One thing I've noticed about triathletes: The vast majority of us are Type A control freaks who get off on solving problems. And because of this, when we encounter something we can't fix or change or help in some way, we have an extraordinarily difficult time letting it go. (Don't believe me? Read everything that exists in the "Archive" section of this blog.)

Anyway, I'm currently six days into an eight-day, multi-city stretch of travel that started in New York with a wine event, a FOX News interview (I know, right?) and some quiet time remembering my cousin on the one-year anniversary of her death, which was Wednesday.

This girl was fierce. Terrified of chickens, but still fierce.

I met one of her best friends for breakfast. We talked for a long time -- sad, funny, honest conversation. (Death is so strange -- it hurts so much, but at the same time, you don't want the hurt to stop because you don't want it to become a blip, something that just "happened that one time.") I drank a glass of fresh-pressed green juice and ate half a bowl of soft-scrambled cacio e pepe eggs. Then I went to the airport to catch my flight to Phoenix -- the next stop on this whirlwind trip -- where I'd pick up a rental car and head to Tucson for bike camp with the tri team.

But there was something horribly, horribly wrong with that green juice and those eggs. Let's just say I now know what it is like to puke in an airport bathroom, attempt to get on the plane anyway, immediately puke in the airplane bathroom right after boarding, get escorted off the plane in front of everyone for being a "liability," watch the plane pull out of the gate with my luggage still on board and then spend the rest of the afternoon sitting on the floor of a bathroom stall at EWR, puking non-stop. (Don't worry, germaphobes -- I picked a freshly-mopped stall and made a little spot for myself with a pile of toilet seat covers so I wasn't directly sitting on the bathroom floor.)

I never want to see this bathroom again.

It was so bad that I was fantasizing about a gurney and an IV bag, with my mom standing next to the bed, holding my hand. (I told you it was bad.) Finally, there was a break in the purging, so I picked myself up, got a plastic bag from a Hudson News store, called a cab and went to a hotel. (Cab driver: "Do you have luggage?" Me: "No. Long story. Please just drive.") 

I got to my room just in time for Phase 2 -- a.k.a. The Pooping -- to begin. (Honestly, I would much rather deal with poop over vomit any day.)

Eventually the horror ended, and I made it to Arizona on Thursday night. I was a day late, I arrived in the same clothes I had spent the previous day puking in and I hadn't eaten anything for more than 24 hours, but I was there. And I wanted to get as much out of camp as I could.

Friday started with a swim. 

Four words: Outdoor pool in winter. Bonus word: YES.

I made it through -- had a really strong swim, in fact -- but as soon as I got out of the pool, I started feeling shaky. I took a gel and some water and got on the bike anyway.

Calm before the storm.

I lasted six miles. My heart rate skyrocketed, I couldn't catch my breath and I thought I was going to hurl. I had to get off my bike and walk, stopping every few steps to heave a little. (Confession: I also cried. A lot.) I ended up in the SAG vehicle with water in one hand and Gatorade in the other. It felt humiliating.

And even though the coaches and my teammates told me over and over again that it was not my fault, that food poisoning was beyond my control, that it was better to have this happen at camp than in a race, I still felt like a failure -- so much so that as soon as I had downed some liquids, I got back on the bike and rode another 11 miles. (Which, in hindsight, was probably really stupid considering how dehydrated I was. But I felt like I had to do it or I would've kept feeling terrible about myself.)

The rest of camp turned out to be a wash for me. I couldn't run, either, so I ended up hiking a lot.

At least the scenery was pretty. And there was sun. And good people. And I wasn't on the floor of a Newark bathroom anymore. But the frustration: When your mind and heart are there and you want something so much, but your body has a different plan.

How to let go, when to know it's time for that to happen ...