Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot Stuff

News flash: I had the entire weekend to myself. Alone. No, really. Not even the dog was around. Chris took Max up to the family home in Michigan and Boss spent the weekend at Shangri-La. What’s a girl to do with herself? Some women might go shopping, take a trip to the spa, spend the weekend with girlfriends. Not this girl.

This girl’s gonna race!

(I should add that within one hour of getting on the road, Chris had already called me to report that Max had pooped himself up his back, out of the diaper and into his shorts. Is it wrong that I could only laugh?)

On Saturday, there was a race about 2 hours south of here that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s fairly competitive, has an elite wave and a prize purse. I traveled solo to the race with a feeling of freedom that I don’t get too often anymore. Just me, in the car, windows down, driving west on 80, miles of corn with the music turned up loud.

I checked into the race site and found two of my athletes. We had a quick dinner and then I headed out to my luxurious hotel. All that I will say is that when you pay $53 for a room, you get a room that’s worth 53 dollars. But it had a bed (may I add a really REALLY hairy bed) and I was in that bed at 7:30 pm. My rule is that even if you don’t sleep for 8 hours straight before a race, you should give your body a rest in bed for at least 8 hours.

I woke up way too early but ready to go. I arrived so early at the race site that I was able to park right across from transition. After making a very girly stop at the bike mechanic tent to have them put air in my tires (I never pump my own tires on race morning – it’s a superstition), I found my rack amongst the elite/collegiate wave. Once again I could have given birth to my entire rack. I have GOT to stop doing these races that mix me in with collegiate athletes. This sport is not making me feel any younger!

I connected with a few of my athletes then got ready to warm up. The water was 83 degrees – no wetsuit. I had used my brand new TYR Torque at Eagleman – it looked fast and felt fast. Yes, I need a shoe horn and some Body Glide to get into the damn thing but once it gets over my hips it fits very well! (I swear, some sports gear makes me feel like I should be nicknamed Jumbo) I put it on right before my warm up and asked some guy to help me zip it up. He tells me the zipper is caught in the fabric. Knowing that a good tug can fix anything, I give the zipper a good tug. And then in a moment of OH CRAP THAT DID NOT JUST HAPPEN, I am standing knee deep in water with a zipper plus cord in my hand.

File that under things you never want to happen 15 minutes before the swim start.

And now on to plan B. There really was no Plan B. I never anticipate my $250 piece of equipment will completely fall apart at the race start! But the first thing that popped into my mind was something I always tell my athletes: No wet/speedsuit, no problem. I swim open water twice a week at the quarry with nothing but a swimsuit. The tri top and tri shorts which at times can feel like one of Max’s diapers after he wakes up from a good night’s sleep wasn’t ideal but would have to do.

The elite field was pretty small but the collegiate field was big. After each college did a team cheer (which reminds me, I really need to put together my own cheer AND come up with a theme song), we all started together. I expected to be pummeled by a dozen overzealous youth who would fizzle in 100 yards but instead I found myself just swimming along with them. Where is the brutality! Can someone please throw a punch? Rip at my goggles? There was one guy who I couldn’t shake off and then found myself waiting for him to get away from me. Then it hit me – how about YOU get away from him?

So I did – I took off and then found myself swimming from group to group, right up to some feet, riding it for awhile then making a move to the next group. The water was calm and felt just like the quarry. After the last buoy, I ran out of groups to catch, sat behind two other collegiate swimmers and swam into the shore.

The bike course was just like any other course I ride at home – mostly flat with lots of corn. In the background, there were giant windmills spread through the cornfields. Not exactly something you want to see on a race course but today they weren’t moving (kudos to the race director for turning off those giant fans!). There was hardly any wind. But sometimes these days are the hardest to ride – the humid days with no wind. I can’t say that I like headwind but I’ll never turn down tailwind. Humidity doesn’t move though. You just grind your way through it.

I passed a few collegiate athletes but rode the course mostly alone. It was one of those rides where I found myself thinking – is my rear brake on? Is my rear tire flat? I had the feeling that I was moving but felt slow. I was passing no one which made me wonder if I had gone off course. Is there really a race going on here? It was one of those rides where 40K felt like 100 miles.

In a few weeks, I’m hoping my 100 mile rides feel like 40K.

The run course was flat. Historically this race has been a cooker but today it was overcast and tolerable. A few out and backs so I could see how I was doing – I was 2nd elite and held that until the end of the race. My goal was to place top 3 overall (check), took home 500 bucks (the salt tabs are on me!) and 2nd in the Best of the US Illinois ranking.

(interesting side note: the woman who won the race was the pro who also went on to win Racine 70.3 the next day)

The next day I decided to head up to Racine 70.3 to spectate. Between my own athletes, the Well-Fit Ironman group and all of the other people I know/have met/stalk from racing over 10 years, it’s safe to say I could identify 99 percent of those on course by name.

I found a few of the old IronCrew and we walked over to the run course. Racine is actually a beautiful course – it’s set against what is a strangely majestic beach along Lake Michigan. But with beaches come sun and very little shade. I found the one sliver of shade along the course – the shadow of a lamppost, stood by it and shouted for the next 4 hours.

It was hot. Brutally hot. Around 98 degrees. I think the heat index was 115. Yet even in the roughest of conditions, there’s always something inspirational (and yes, easier!) about being on the other side. You can’t stand on the sidelines without getting a little fire in your belly for your next race. You connect to what you’re seeing, what they’re feeling, you see them hurting, sweating, suffering and what is wrong with us….why do I find myself thinking I wish that was me! And the most inspirational – the girl from Dare2Tri with one leg, the man doing the entire bike and run in full firefighter gear (and you thought you were hot in your tri onesie!) or Bob Scott – 81 years young, recently qualified for Kona at Eagleman – yeah, he finished.

(incidentally, I was running at the Arboretum a few weeks ago, 91 degrees in the shade as I ran to the top of a big hill, Bob was out there, picked up the pace to beat me to the top of the hill and then said “come on, Elizabeth.”)

Most of the problems in the heat were remedied by one of three things; slowing down, popping a salt tab or switching to Coke. Remember that, folks! I had more than a few sweaty hugs, wet-handed high fives, cups thrown my direction and even some tears. I wanted to give a big mom-hug to some random guy who was walking up the hill saying to me “but my nutrition plan has never let me down.” This whole spectathlon (and now sunburn) experience made me think: they’ve got to start doing 70.3s in the winter.

The rest of Sunday night – I didn’t feel so well. I think I ate too much kale in the past 24 hours or had too much triathlon. My stomach felt off. Probably should have popped a salt tab. And looking at the forecast for this week – I’m going to need that. Triple digit heat indexes ahead.

Hot stuff? You bet. But I never expect anything less of the midwest in summer (but as I ride two loops in Verona this weekend I have the right to curse the midwest, for at least 4 hours).

Friday, July 08, 2011

Catching Up

Because someone to me to stop neglecting my blog.

Unfortunately, given the choice to neglect my child, my business, myself, my husband, my house or the 1000 fruit flies and ants that have recently taken up residence – I’ve had no choice but to neglect the blog. If only there were another 3 hours in every day.

Put that on the list of things to request when I finally get time to write the letter to god.

Catching up...

Eventually I emerged from recovery week.

Like two weeks ago.

Since then I’ve had some epic moments in both parenting and training.

According to the most recent polls, I am still in the running for Parent of the Year. Not an easy award to win. It requires a fair amount of negligence (we showed up at the family Fourth of July party with no shoes, no food and no extra outfit for Max – we couldn’t find his shoes before we left, but we found them when we came home, in the street at the end of our driveway), a fair amount of recklessness (his favorite toy is the dishwasher, and when I found him with an old onion in his mouth I thought…that’s awesome) and a fair amount of “if he needs me, I’ll hear him” (we don’t use a baby monitor, honestly if they need you, you’ll hear them – through the door).

Our approach to parenting is not exactly conventional. Nor careful. Nor approved by the grandparents. We don’t walk around armed with a baby wipe to keep him clean. We don’t always put shoes on him (mostly because we can never find them) and sometimes we highly encourage nudity (though this is never advised around carpet, it only takes one time to learn this lesson).

The other day, someone was asking me what you really need to register for when you have a baby. Ah, the baby registry. Horrific, nightmarish memories of walking circles around BuyBuyBaby with one of those scanners that always seemed to freeze after three items. How do you choose amongst 20 different types of baby bottles? Are they really all that different? I registered for all sorts of stuff, most of it which you don’t really need. In fact, I’ve boiled it down to three items that you must have with a baby:

1 – Diapers. We go through $80 worth of diapers a month. There’s this urban myth out there that the cost of diapers will eat into your savings fund and leave you broke on the side of the street. I’m not sure what these people are feeding their kids. Some people spend 80 bucks a month on coffee. Diapers are really not that expensive.

2 – Boobs. Because they are the best and most convenient source of food for your baby. And, they are free! Unless you factor in the aftermath of what’s left of your boobs after nursing. In that case, the cost is about 4 to 8 grand for a new set. Yes, I’ve done research.

3 – Old towels. About 100 of them. Forget registering for all those cute blankets and washcloths. You need old ratty towels to clean up anything – the highchair (I have literally spent 30 minutes a day cleaning that thing), the water from the dog bowl that just got dumped for the 100th time (you’d think I learn already), dirt from plants and other “things” (see a few paragraphs below).

You also need a cooperative spouse. And when I say cooperative, I really mean a spouse who will say ‘yes’ to anything. A cooperative spouse walks in the door and takes over. No questions asked! In that regard, I have the world’s most cooperative spouse. Soon to be parents, if you are reading this, go to the nearest mirror and repeat this over and over again “Ok”. Can you take out the dog? Ok. Can you cook dinner? Ok. Can you pick up more bananas? Ok.

Though Chris might need some gentle reminders (Chris are you watching him – yes – as Max climbs into the kiddie pool, Chris are you watching him – yes – as Max grabs a fork), we mostly agree on parenting. And so when he had the idea to let Max “air out” on the deck the other night – meaning, crawl around with no clothes on – I had to agree (in my free time, I stand in front of the mirror and say “ok” – I have freetime for approximately 32 minutes a week). In theory, it was a good idea because Max has a raging case of diaper rash.

And so Max crawled around, naked, free, happy. There is nothing more happy than a naked baby. Also, nothing more loaded and dangerous.

What’s on his leg?

There are few times in life when I have almost shit myself. This was one of them. If there was any doubt in the polls as to whether we should win Parent of the Year, this definitely pulls us ahead. Our naked and happy son just took a massive crap in the corner of the deck.

How you go about cleaning this requires a lot of…you got it – old towels.

(how you convince the dog to stay away while you’re cleaning it is an entirely different story)

I’d like to say my training has gone better but some interrupted sleep has left me feeling a little like that pile of poo on my deck for a few days. Three weeks ago, Max started getting two new teeth. Why on earth we painfully cut a whole mouth full of teeth only to lose them is beyond me. I’ve been meaning to write a letter to god about it. But I just haven’t had time. There were a few nights in a row where he kept waking up. Which meant I kept waking up. And thus my body adopted a new circadian rhythm; middle of the night, WAKE UP!

So, about training…

On Saturday I went out for a moderately long brick. I didn’t realize the challenge of the weather until I got a text from a friend that said something about the wind, like “get out there soon because the wind is already blowing”. Before 8 am. Never a good sign. The temperature was climbing into the 90s, the dewpoint was 78, and I was surrounded by corn that was pointing in the direction of west wind – stiff and dehydrating.

You know you’re being beat by the training on a ridiculously hot day when you find yourself riding by a cemetery and thinking “that would be a great place to take a nap.” I had about a dozen or so moments like this on my Saturday workout. Out there in the middle of nowhere when I just wanted to crawl into the corn for some shade. All 1 inch of shade that you get from the cornstalk. At one point, I noticed a bizarre path that something had made into the corn. Either from a corn bear or a very desperate cyclist.

It was one of those rides where I found myself 20 minutes away from the car and it might as well have been 2 hours. The last few miles where you start to fantasize about water – cold. Where you start to come up with plans of how you will find more water. You see a kid with a garden hose watering flowers and wonder if it would be too awkward to ride up to him, sweaty and sunburnt, begging to fill your bottles. You get to the car 5 miles later and you’re like – were you really on the edge of death there, Fedofsky? You could have ran the 5 miles back to the car wheeling the bike next to you. It was that bad?

But somewhere around 50 miles into the ride I reached that point. The point of negotiations where it’s you pitted against yourself. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. It’s not like this workout was hard, it’s just that it’s been a long time (uh, 3+ years) since I’ve gone someplace terribly uncomfortable, moderately long and very very hot on my bike. This is one of the reasons I love training for long course triathlons. You go to places in training and racing that you simply cannot replicate in any other area of life. It becomes almost like an animal survival. Water – I need water, NOW. It’s very raw. Sometimes I think endurance athletes are people who have come to feel unchallenged by daily life. They seek something bigger to overcome. The biggest thing you can overcome is yourself.

Near the end of the ride I found myself thinking, wow I’d really like to get off my bike but once I do I’m going to have to run so maybe I’ll just stay on my bike instead. Eventually, by miracle of tailwind, I got back to the car. The only thing waiting there for me was a Garmin and a pair of running shoes. I then began what’s becoming a pattern of slow runs in oppressive heat. At this point I am convinced if only the temperature would drop 40 degrees I would be really, really fast.

But it’s all good training. Good because I’m doing this little race in October which promises 10+ hours of oppressive heat. Speaking of which, at some point in the next 4 weeks I will begin training for Ironman. I’ve seen the plan ahead, I looked once then slowly backed away from it with my hands over my eyes and butterflies in my stomach. I saw something like “52 miles of running” on one week in September and almost shot myself in the foot just to get it over with more quickly and painlessly.

Fear not, come late July I suspect I’ll have many more stories about training. And speaking on late July - we are fast approaching Max’s first birthday. It’s hard to believe a year has gone by! Ok, that’s bullshit. I still remember being up at all hours of the night for months on end, sitting in the rocking chair, wishing people would update their Facebook more often so I had something to read during late night feedings. Each day seemed like forever! I don’t know how I did it. But you quickly adapt and it becomes your new normal. In fact, I think that is the key to making progress after pregnancy. You accept that you have a new normal and you work with it. When you continually lament for what you once had, you get stuck and go in circles. There are parts of me that will never be “normal” again. That is ok. Even if it’s not ok, you just learn to move on and put your focus on something else. It’s is like endurance racing – keep moving forward.

There has been much talk about Max’s first birthday. I put my foot down at moon jump and clowns. Max might enjoy a clown but clowns scare the shit out of me! Someone asked what types of toys Max enjoys, so here’s a list: spoons, large household appliances, cords, the dog’s bone, remote controls, coffee cup lids, magazine pages. Don’t register for baby toys – babies don’t need them. If you’ve got a wooden spoon, you’re set! I’m pretty sure that Max will also enjoy a birthday cake (maybe not, but I will). Cake thick with frosting and I don’t care what it says – happy birthday Max or congrats mom for surviving one year of limited sleep and hips that never stop aching.

So when’s the happy first year of parenting party? The party where we do a shot for every diaper we changed in those first few weeks – I remember 18 in one day. The party where we learn that this was the easiest year – they don’t really move and they don’t talk (yet)!. The party where we get so drunk we risk creating #2 - public service announcement: when going out for drinks on a weekday night, never ever bring a pen…there’s a list they pass around where you sign up for parenting if you’re not careful!

Now that I’ve written a blog, I’ve spent the past 15 minutes neglecting my child. He’s currently in his crib throwing all 6 of the pacifiers I put in there with him (I just gave you Awesome Parenting Tip #107 right there). Where they land is anyone’s guess. I suspect only when we move will we find the other dozens of pacifiers that have gone missing. Just yesterday one completely disappeared while Max was playing in my closet (Awesome Parenting Tip #108 – the contents of your closet are 100 times more entertaining than any toy chest). If I don’t get up there next 5 minutes, he’ll go into full blown YOU’VE LEFT ME IN THIS WILDERNESS mode.

In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1….yup. Wilderness, people. The nonparents reading this are mortified by my (lack of) parenting skills; can you believe she left him awake and alone in the crib for 15 minutes? The parents reading this are thinking she could probably milk that freetime for another 5 minutes before he moves into hysterics.

In 5, 4…waiting….