Thursday, December 31, 2009

Movie Reviews- Vacation Means Movie Times for Burro-Manns!

Up In The Air - (George Clooney)- *****
George Clooney is fantastic in this role as a man who has the horrible job of flying across the country and firing people. This movie is touching, poignant, sweet and sad and worth seeing. Worth knowing before you go see it, with the exception of the actors, all the interviews with people talking about how it felt to get fired are with people who actually were fired this past year. There are a couple people's speeches that brought tears to my eyes. 2009 was certainly a bad year for lay offs and Clear Channel was not immune. I was very fortunate to keep my job, but knowing so many that were not as lucky made this movie very real. It is a must see in my book. Well done, thought provoking and besides, George is a fine looking man!

It's Complicated - (Alec Baldwin, Meryl Streep) - ***
I must admit that I originally did not want to see this movie but went to get out of the house and enjoy some girl time with Erin and Sandy. I really enjoyed it though. There are parts that are hysterical laugh out loud funny but the ending is a little on the sad side so be prepared. Alec Baldwin is incredibly smarmy and Steve Martin is quiet and hardly used in my opinion. Meryl Streep is lovely and the movie is an overall reminder that people don't die or get uninteresting over the age of 35. There is a great message about acceptance and age that I think everyone should know.

Avatar in 3D - (Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington) - *****
This is a liberal sermon disguised as an action movie pretending to be a love story. That being said, it was beautiful to watch, technically seamless and overall is a great film. It is worth the extra money to see it in 3D and the effects of the movie are quite perfect. It is long at two hour and forty minutes, but it doesn't quite feel that long. As of right now it is pacing to be the second highest grossing movie of all time, behind Titanic, so I think you need to see this movie just to stay relevant in today's culture. The scenery alone is worth the time sacrifice.

The Ugly Truth
- (Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler) - *
The truth is, this movie is ugly and completely skippable as a film. It is predictable and corny and doesn't even have a good soundtrack. Maybe there are some women out there who don't think they can "get a guy" unless they completely change their personality, and if so, grow a self esteem. And for those who have a check list of items that the perfect man must have, grow up, no one is perfect. Skip this movie. You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Family...Know Your Roles!

I am not a huge fan of Christmas. I could go on and on about why, but basically I feel like there is too much emphasis on "stuff". One of my favorite Story People sums it up
"What do I get for this? I said & the angel gave me a catalog filled with toasters & clock radios & a basketball signed by Michael Jordan & I said, But this is just stuff & the angel smiled at me & swallowed me in her arms. I'm so glad you said that, she whispered to me. I knew you still had a chance."

This Christmas was very low key for me. I didn't decorate, didn't send cards and only got gifts for my family. It was a very nice, stress free time. We left a few days before Christmas to spend some time with Joe's family. To say the time was relaxing is an understatement. They were gracious enough to let us sleep late and take naps. All in all it was a nice, low key time.

We left on Christmas to spend time with my family in Port St. Lucie, Florida. We stopped off at a lovely bed and breakfast in Savannah where the owners Rocky and Jane made me feel like I was home from college. The house was gorgeous, they were fabulously nice and overall Joe and I ended Christmas night with lots of laughter, snuggled up in bed. Jane cooked us a huge breakfast the next morning and we were off.

I don't see my brother often. He is a golf pro and for the past 5 years he has been spending winters in Florida and summers in the mountains of NC. My vacations are usually traveling elsewhere so I have only seen him once or twice during the summers and I have never made it to Florida before this trip. I can go three or four months without speaking to him on the phone. Yet I would still consider us close which may seem odd to some.

Mike bought a house this year. He's 30 so this shouldn't seem odd to me, but yet it seems strange that my baby brother, that little boy in the picture above, bought a house. He's all grown up. We pulled in the driveway and Mike came out to greet us. The house is gorgeous; open floor plan and really cool archways and details throughout the house. I was so happy to see him enjoying the fruit of all his hard work; the home he shares with his girlfriend MaryBeth. My mom and dad were there and the 6 of us spent the next three days shopping, eating and laughing. We haven't been together in over a year but we all fell into our natural family roles, comfortable, familiar. I am the planner and the one that makes sure everyone is having a good time. My brother is the story teller and the comedian. My mom becomes the good natured mother, telling stories of us as kids and pretending to be shocked as we tell her our sides of those stories. My dad is the protector, taking it all in, filming or photographing the laughter. Joe and MaryBeth have their roles too; they are the crazy ones: we were born into the family, they chose it!

The last night we were there we all went to dinner in downtown Stuart. We ate too much and drank too much and our dinner discussion, like always, was filled with embarrassing topics that would make other families blush. We went back to Mike's house and while Joe watched football, Mike played his guitar and he and I came up with funny lyrics about my mom. My dad filmed the whole thing and I know we look ridiculous but it is a great memory already.

I should have gone to bed feeling happy but instead I felt sad. I am very aware of how lucky I am to be so close to my family. I understand that not everyone has the relationship I do with my mom or dad or brother. I honestly LIKE my family as people and would choose to hang out with them. This awareness makes me worry about change that I know will eventually happen. My parents are getting older. Mike is growing up. Over the next decade change is inevitable.

My friend Shelia has a saying from her favorite Jimmy Buffett song. I have heard her say it, even bought her a bracelet with it inscribed, but haven't really taken it to heart. After going to bed and thinking about how I was feeling quite sad after such a happy night I realized I needed to really think about the quote.
According to my watch, the time is now
The past is dead and gone
Don't try to shake it, just nod your head
Breathe in, breathe out, move on

I spend so much time worrying about how I am going to react when things change that I think that I do myself a great injustice by limiting the amount of pleasure I get out of how things are NOW.

I spent the last morning there talking alone with my brother. It is pretty neat to see him becoming a man and to hear him talk so assertively about mortgages and car loans and issues he is having at work. He is still worried about our feelings but is at that stage where he is choosing his path and independence. Things are going to change for him soon in a very positive way and my heart is warmed knowing he is happy and truly, that is what matters. I miss him dreadfully and wish we all lived closer but enjoy the time we have, even if it is only once a year.

So in this time of resolutions and toasting to a new year, I need to remember my role, the parts I play that are really important. I am a worrier and a planner but first and foremost I am a wife, a daughter, a sister and a friend. These are the roles that matter the most and I need to focus on being my best. The time is NOW. Sure things are going to change, but until they actually do, there is a lot of good going on right this minute. I have a great family that frustrates the hell out of me, makes me laugh until I cry and loves me for every flaw and every feature I have. I in turn frustrate them, plan every minute of our time together and love them for every part of their beings. And really, when it comes down to it, that is what family is for. Our most important role in life is to love each other, and that, I know, we do.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Movie review - Invictus

Invictus - Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon - ****

I didn't really want to see Invictus, but it was free and I figured it would be one of those movies that was super hyped so I should go before the hype began. I am so glad that I did.

The movie begins in 1990 with Nelson Mandela's release from prison and quickly covers the years until he is elected President of South Africa in 1994. The basis of the movie is Mandela's use of the Springbots, the South African rugby team, to bring a very divided country together. Freeman does a brilliant job as Mandela and while the accents aren't quite right (I was told by a South African), the entire cast is believable in the roles. Matt Damon has buffed up noticeably and the movie does a good job of balancing political commentary with actual rugby play. It sounds cliche to say that the movie is inspiring, but I think it is hard not to walk out of this movie with a sense of purpose to live a better life and be a better person.

As far as the title, "Invictus" is a short poem by the English poet William Ernest Henley published in 1875. Invictus is Latin for "unconquered".

Trivia: Timothy McVeigh chose this as his final statement.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Feeling Good...Doing Good....

As I talk to more and more of my friends and acquaintances, it seems like most people spent their 20s getting to know themselves, making mistakes and building a life. The 30s come and after getting comfortable with who they are, they decide to look at the bigger picture and ask some questions which have answers other than "me, me, me".

I know this has happened to me. It started slowly, feeling jealous of a friend who had a job at a non-profit. Sure the pay sucked I told her, but you are DOING something for the good of people. I started thinking more about it and entertained finding a non profit job myself. Alas, I love where I work too much. I committed to giving blood every 56 days. That wasn't enough though and the nagging feeling became more pronounced and I realized I needed to do SOMETHING, I just didn't know what.

Recently, the "what" or more accurately, the "whats" fell into my lap. I now have three non profits that I am helping in various different ways. I feel so strongly about each of these organizations so I think it is going to be easy for me to volunteer hours or time or whatever they need. I am sure at some point over the next year I am going to hit up everyone I know to help out in some way. I am warning you now! When I do hit you up, I want you to know a little about what each of these organizations do and why I care.

Tri It For Life - When I signed up for my first triathlon I had no idea how it would change my life. I am lazy so looked for a training group and stumbled upon this south Charlotte organization. It is a group of women who have one goal: to inspire women to move. As the year and training progressed, I fell in love with the group, the ideals and many of the women who started it. There are old women, fat women, skinny women, young women and all of them are triathletes. A few nights before the actual triathlon the group hosted a celebration dinner. I sat and looked around the room at the 200 or so women that were there. I bet you a million dollars you wouldn't have ever said that some of them were in shape to be a triathlete. Hell, I bet you wouldn't have looked at ME and thought I could do it. But I did. They did. We all did. And that is the beauty of this group. So many people think you have to be skinny or in shape to try, but you don't. You just need to TRY. I would much rather be fat and fit. Every person who signed up for this group finished the triathlon. Every single one. Crossing the finish line was a feeling I never thought I would experience. Yes, training in a group is helpful, but the day of the race, it is all about you and your ability to power on when it gets hard. Crossing the finish line is a perfect blend of self empowerment and group gratitude. I want every woman I know to have that for herself, to make the time for herself, to love herself enough to invest in herself. Yes, you can do it. You just need to try.

This year the women's only Ramblin Rose will take place in Rock Hill in July and Huntersville in September. Tri IT For Life is fortunate to be the charity of choice for the July event. That means that money raised will directly go to Tri It. It also means that we need to provide a certain amount of volunteers to help defray costs. I am the Volunteer Coordinator for the event and will probably be asking you to spend a few hours on a Sunday morning helping the event. We will need people helping cheer people on, mark race numbers, hand out water and other small jobs that make a huge difference to people running the race. It only takes a few hours but I can personally tell you that I had an extra spring in my step when I heard some random person yell out my race number. So take out a pen....write down Amy - July 11- 7A-11AM!

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - I had always heard of St. Jude growing up and since my brother had a childhood cancer, it had a special place in my heart. One of the stations I work for has done a yearly radiothon for St. Jude and I was lucky enough to be flown to Memphis for a tour of the hospital. Wow. This place is utterly amazing. I was worried in the beginning how I would react, that the place would be sad and depressing but it is far from that. There are so many little touches that make this a special haven. There aren't any wheelchairs. Kids are brought from place to place in wagons. All the reception areas are kid height so kids can check themselves in and talk directly to the nurses. The walls are brightly colored and each room has a different theme. The entire place is centered around kids. There are some things that people won't tell you about this place and those are the things that I think really make it different. You may have heard about the cafeteria. When Danny Thomas founded the hospital it was the height of race issues in the country. He wanted to make sure that everyone ate together regardless of color, creed or class. There is still one big cafeteria and all the doctors, researchers, patients and parents eat there. One researcher told me it is the greatest thing. Imagine having a bad day at work and being able to go look at EXACTLY the reason why you are there working. Talk about a sense of purpose! The cafeteria is open 24 hours a day. This may not seem like a huge deal, but imagine you are a kid going through chemo and you have no appetite. Suddenly at 3AM you wake up craving mashed potatoes, pancakes and a hot dog. At St. Jude, you will get it. They know that eating is important but is sometimes really hard, so if you are craving it, you get it. The people at St. Jude want to make sure that each child has as normal a childhood experience as possible. This means that they have proms, dances, movie nights, social, etc. There are teachers there that work individually with patients to teach them the curriculum that their school is actually using so when the child goes back to school, they haven't missed a lesson. That means that the teachers need to be certified to teach in every state since the kids come from every state. It also means that one teacher might have 5 kids of the same age, all with completely different work to be done.

So you don't have kids or your kids have grown up so you don't think you will ever have to face childhood cancer? The other amazing thing about this place is the Research Center part of the name. When you walk through the hospital you will come to this huge atrium that opens up to research labs. There are researchers from literally every nation. Obviously, when a child is fighting cancer his or her body is weak and a common cold could be deadly. So along with research on the latest cancer protocols, there is research being done on all other infectious diseases including the flu and AIDS. I had the chance to talk with a man who was studying avian flu and ways to fight that. And because of the money that St. Jude raises, the research is all free for anyone to use.

I literally could go on for hours about why you should send every cent you have to St. Jude, but instead of doing that I will ask you to trust me that this place is amazing and needs help. I am working with the St. Jude Charlotte office to create a Charlotte St. Jude Heroes program where we recruit people to run races and raise money for St. Jude. I will be running a half marathon in November as a St. Jude Hero. In the next few months I will have several opportunities for you to help. Contributions are always welcome and I will have a dedicated website where you can give directly to St. Jude, but I will also have special jewelry for sale and have a few raffle items as well. Running is one of the most daunting tasks I have ever committed myself to but I know that being a St. Jude Hero will keep me running when I want to quit.

For Your Cure - I blogged about Stephen Fogg,the friend of a friend who was battling cancer at 26. A bunch of people came up with the idea to sell those bracelets like the LiveStrong ones, except these are orange and say "FU Cancer". All proceeds went to Stephen, aka Foggy. Well to show you how awesome Foggy is, he is taking all that money and starting a charity. There are a lot of support groups for kids with cancer and older people with cancer, but there isn't a lot out there specifically for adults 18-34. Foggy is changing that. His main objective is to is to provide patients of cancer or cancer related treatments an outlet to occupy their mind and body through the gift of creative expression. We are starting this truly from the ground up. Foggy is doing the paperwork for 501C3 status and I am using my anal retentive skills to help organize. Shelia is working on a station event along with the Checkers to help raise more money and exposure.

We had our first meeting to brainstorm what we wanted to do and where we wanted to grow. I walked out feeling 100 pounds lighter. Yes...this is what it is about. It might have taken me 35 years to get here, but I think it all happened as it should have. I needed those other years of me, me, me to develop skills, contacts, ideas and focus. This is exactly where I need to be right now, helping others. I'm doing good and it feels really good.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


This is my favorite holiday (unless you consider my birthday a holiday, as I do). I won't go on my rant about how I feel about Christmas, just know that I would choose Thanksgiving over Christmas any day. Thanksgiving seems pure to me. No obligatory gift giving. No stress over giving the perfect present. Thanksgiving is simply a day to gather with people you love and have dinner.

Dinner in my family has always been loud and long, with everyone talking, sharing and laughing. We didn't always have the most intelligent conversations (I remember discussing how each of us would go to the bathroom if locked in our rooms. Why? I don't know.) but they made us laugh. For a few years my parents and Joe and I would go to dinner every Thursday night and I knew that we would be there from 6pm to after 9 most nights. To use Joe's word, we are verbose.

Since we got married, Joe and I have had both families to our house for dinner. Joe makes an amazing turkey and each mom brings sides. It works out really well. My favorite Thanksgiving hands down is the year that my best friend Margaret and her then boyfriend (now hubby) Dan joined us for dinner. In so many ways Margaret is part of my family anyway, knowing my relatives almost as well as I do. She also has this amazing ability to get along with anyone and the room lights up when she is in it. I am sure that helped make it special but I think there is something else. It felt comfortable; it felt like home. It was what Thanksgiving is all about- joining and celebrating the mere fact that we are all here.
There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other's cooking & say it was good.

So as I type this Joe is finishing up the turkey (thanks Alton Brown!) and I feel compelled to write the cliche, but nevertheless sincere Thanksgiving post, "What I am thankful for this year:"

I am thankful.....
that I consider my mom, dad, husband and brother my best friends.

that I have close girl friends that have known me before I had boobs.
that I am developing an amazing group of supportive friends, some old, some new, who make me feel like I can do anything and are truly my champions.

that my friends feel comfortable kicking off their shoes, wearing jammies and helping themselves when in my home.

that I have the physical strength to work out, that I was able to complete a triathlon and was able to experience that with my mom.

that I have a job where I can grow and learn.

that my cat gets up in the middle of the night with me when I have to go to the bathroom. He always looks half asleep, but he still comes anyway.

That I Am Happy.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you have be surrounded by family and friends, laughter and love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rupdate- So That's Why People Use Those...

You ever have those moments when you realize that for as long as you can remember you have been ignoring some very good advice and regret all that time? That's how I feel this morning about heart rate monitors. I got one about 4 years ago and used it once. I remember feeling like I wanted to run faster than my heart rate would let me so I never used it again. When I realized that my puking was related to heart rate issues, I invested in a nice Garmin heart rate monitor (I chose Garmin solely because they sponsored Edward Norton in his NYC marathon fundraiser for the Massai people - marketing works!). I used it for the first time today and wow, what a difference. I was worried I was going to max out in the first two minutes. I didn't. I was able to stay in a comfortable zone and really never felt like I was super out of breath or was going to die. In fact, I might flirt with the term "enjoyable.". At least, it was the most enjoyable run so far.

The thing about running, especially when you are running without a buddy as I did this morning, is that at any point, you can just stop. No bells will ring, no warning signs will flash. You can just stop and go on about your day. I sure thought about it. Last week wasn't a good week for me. I felt like I was fighting a cold and on my run day was exhausted. I listened to my body though, didn't push it and walked instead of running. Luckily I never actually got sick, but it pushed my running training schedule back a week. So this morning I chose to jump ahead and do what was scheduled...a 15 minute solid run, followed by a 10 minute run. It honestly wasn't bad. I still am really slow and hoping that my heart will let me run faster, but if not so be it.

I really do think that our bodies are far smarter than we could imagine. I am trying really hard to listen to mine. I won't over exert myself when I am feeling like I am fighting something. I will let me heart guide my cardiovascular training. Already I am seeing the rewards.

I still don't know that I will ever love running like I do biking or swimming, but I am excited by the challenge of it. There is nothing that is making me do this. I can stop at anytime. Joe doesn't think I can do it. He hasn't said that but I can tell he doesn't think I will finish a half marathon. Honestly, I don't know if I can either and that scares me. The scarier part is that I don't think my ability is physical at all. I have to train my brain to push through the fear, the pain, the self doubt. Yet maybe that is why I am drawn to this right now in my life; to feel all that and know that I can power through it. I want to feel accomplished, that I did something that did not come easily to me.

I went to lunch with my friend Jenni who is running a marathon in two weeks. She was not a runner but joined Team In Training and loves that she is doing it but hates running. I have followed her journey and am amazed at her ability to conquer the demons that I am feeling right now. I told her that I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to do it and she assured me that I could. She reminded me of how I felt invincible after the tri and told me that I will feel that way again. I told her how I couldn't explain how I, a non runner, have this desire to run. But she understood how I cried watching someone finish a marathon on TV, how I felt as happy for Edward Norton finishing as I would for a dear friend. I am invested in it and while I can't tell you why and I know it doesn't make sense, I am drawn to it.

Running is basic, primal; One foot in front of the other, repeat. It's the repeating that is the hard part and the part that I need to embrace and accept. I am going to be a runner. I am going to push myself even though it hurts. I am going to run when I don't feel like it. There are lots of people facing lots of challenges out there. I am healthy. I have a happy life. I have all my limbs and can use them. I don't have to battle a wheel chair every moment of life. I will run simply because I can.

But I'll still probably hate it. :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Reviews of All Things Media

This week I met Matisyahu and was fortunate enough to hear an acoustic performance of a few songs. Matisyahu burst onto the scene a few years ago with his poppy-reggae "King Without A Crown." Turns out he is a hascidic Jew that raps which makes him stand out just a little. His songs are beautiful, soulful and have a "love everyone" feel. He is tall, long armed and funny. We have so many bands and artists that come through the station, I am always happy when it is someone I know and really like. If you don't know who he is, check him out. His song "One Day" was just selected by NBC to be the official song of the Olympics, so I am sure you will be hearing him soon enough.

BOOKS (Fight Club Book Selections of late)
Siddartha by Hermen Hesse
We chose this as a token "classic" and had the additional support of Erin and Joe who read it in high school and loved it. The book is thin and easy to read but I did not like it at all. I thought Siddartha is a a pompous ass. I won't give it away, but it is about the spiritual journey of Siddarth but even as he grows he does not become a very likable character for me. I am curious how I would have liked this book had I read it in high school when I thought I was better than the world. Would I have related and liked him better? Perhaps it is the old woman in me that thinks "Shut up punk and be nice!" I like studying religions and this is an obvious allegory for Buddism, but I think I would have rather read a direct study of it.

G-Spot by Noire
This was an optional book for us to read. Joe brought it as a recommendation as a genre we have never read: Urban Erotica. Apparently this series is very popular with his students so I decided to read it. At first, it was hysterical. The dialects, phrasing and graphic depictions of sex and masturbation were at the same time startling and humorous. I joked that we were going to discuss nature versus nurture; since Juicy's mom was a "skank ass ho" does that mean Juicy is destined to become on as well? The book was a quick read and I won't spoil the ending for you, but I did really want to discuss it. There was so much accepted violence in the book it really surprised me. We talked about Twilight versus G-Spot. Twilight leaves young girls wishing they could be fall in love wiht a vampire which can't happen. G-Spot leaves young girls wishing they could fall in love with a violent drug dealer, a goal they could acheive. It just seems wrong to me to further a negative stereotype in girls so young. I have to say the highlight of this book was the language. I am now incorporating several different phrases into my everyday speach. Ya feel me?

The Blind Side
Sandra Bullock's accent in this is annoying. Really annoying. Besdides that, the movie is sweet and well acted. It is the true story of a boy from the wrong side of town, who has nohting, who because of hte kindness of strangers,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Rupdate- Getting Stronger

For the record I still hate running.

This weekend I watched a documentary on marathons that Joe had recorded for me. I watched with awe and tears in my eyes as they crossed the finish line. Yep, I want to do that. I asked Joe if I was crazy and he pretty much said yes. Honestly, I don't think he thinks I can do it. And if we are really being truthful, I worry too. But something in me is making me do it. I don't want to climb Everest, I don't want to hike the Appalachian Trail. I want to run a half marathon, maybe a marathon. Maybe. I think I am drawn to the struggle. I want the accomplishment. I want to challenge myself in a way I never have before. For the most part things come easily to me so I have grown to expect things to come easy to me. When they didn't, I usually just quit out of frustration (hello piano lessons!) This isn't easy for me and I think finally I want to push through something and see if I can do it. Funny, I just got an email from my dear friend Peggy that said :
'To get something you never had, you have to do something you never did.'
I actually have a version of this on my fridge and my friend Shelia tweeted it last week, but today it strikes a chord and I am thinking of this as it relates to my running. I have no idea how the training and the actual finishing of such a lofty goal will change me but I am looking forward to finding out.

I ran this morning and it actually went well. I ran 5 minutes, walked a minute. The plan still is to be running non stop for 30 minutes by Christmas. So far, so good. I really like having a daily goal. It gives me something to shoot for and I know the next run will be easier if I suck it up and do that day's goal. I bought a new ipod and a heart rate monitor as well so I can start to track my heart's progress. Hopefully I can at least minimize my puking.

Alyse Kelly-Jones,the founder of the tri training group I joined, Tri It For Life, did her first Ironman triathlon this past weekend. An Ironman is a 2.4 mile ocean swim, 112 mile bike ride and then a marathon run, 26.2 miles. All in one day. She did it this past Saturday and I followed her progress on Twitter. I got out of bed and read that she was already in the ocean. As I was sitting down for lunch she was starting the bike ride. I was catching up on TV from the week when she started the marathon and as I went out that night at 9, she was finishing. She came in third with an overall time of 13 hours 43 minutes. That is almost 14 hours of constant activity. I am so in awe of her and her ability. I have no idea how old she is but I'd be safe saying over 35. She has a job, a life, and yet she trained for and completed an Ironman. I don't know if I have that in me, and yet part of me thinks....of course I do.

Baby steps for now. I have chosen a half marathon to do and it isn't until next November, 2010. I will use this half marathon to raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, a place for which I have tremendous passion. The Ramblin Rose dates for 2010 were announced and the timing is perfect. I will have a triathlon to do in March, July and September which will have me well trained for the half marathon in November. Depending on how I do at the half marathon, I might entertain doing a half Ironman and maybe someday a marathon. In the meantime, I am going to get in the best shape of my life, maybe lose a little weight and hopefully enjoy not being good at something from the start and maybe even learning a little about myself.

Date 11/10/2009
Time: 35 minutes
2 minute warm up, 5 minutes running, 1 minute walking, repeat with 5 minute cool down then 10 minutes of extra walking.
Incline 1.0
Total Run: 25 minutes at 4.3
Total Walk: 5 minutes at 3.5
Total Mileage: 2.23 miles (treadmill only - this doesn't include the extra 10 minutes)
Puke: No
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs an hour before the run

Monday, November 9, 2009

Please Excuse The Mushiness For One Blog Entry

Joe and I were married eight years ago today. It seems like just yesterday and at the same time I can't remember a time when I wasn't with Joe.

I love being his wife. We dated for 7 years before we got married and yet still had a bit of a whirlwind romance. We met in August, moved in together in September and in October were in a car on our way to elope (we got matching tattoos instead.) That Thanksgiving I told my mom I wanted to marry him. I was 18. She told me that we both had a lot of growing up to do and we needed to make sure we grew up together. So over the next few years we lived together, apart, then next to each other. We broke up for a month, Joe got a job and moved to Columbia, South Carolina and then a year later moved to Charlotte. Just when we were talking about keeping separate places, his apartment burned down and Joe, his cat and a pair of shoes moved into my place. One day he surprised me and proposed in the most perfect for me, story book way. Two years later, on a deck overlooking Hart Bay in the US Virgin Islands, with a rainbow over our heads and 27 of our closest family and friends surrounding us, we got married.

It hasn't always been easy and we have gone through our share of grumpiness, arguments, bad days and therapy sessions. But we also have talked until the sun comes up, had tickle fights (I always lose) and have giggled until we snorted. I firmly believe that all of that makes us a stronger couple. I do know that we have been lucky and while I don't know what the future holds, I do know I will fight like hell for our marriage because it means the world to me.

So to Joe on our 8th Wedding Anniversary; I love you and am so very glad to be married to you. Thank you for always meeting me at the door and kissing me hello when I get home. Thank you for standing in the back of the shower. Thanks for always cooking and eating all the moldy food. Thank you for your honesty, your tenderness, your efforts in making our marriage stronger. Thank you for making me laugh when all I want to do is cry, for taking my headaches away, for hooking up TiVo even though it was a pain, for sharing your awesome rhyming ability and for always pumping the gas. Thank you for loving me even when I am unlovable. I think you are the smartest, most talented, wonderful, funny man with the cutest nose I have ever known and I am glad we have grown up together. Thank you for being my best friend. Curling up in bed with you and Pablo is the best part of any day for me too.

I love you.

Pictures above are: New York City to see The Gates, February 2005, Charleston for my 30th birthday and our wedding, November 9, 2001.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Movie Review: The Men Who Stare At Goats. Not for goat lovers...

A few years ago Fight Club read a book called "Them, Adventures with Extremists" by British journalist Jon Ronson. I enjoyed the book and found it funny, scary and so incredulous it had to be true. I have not read Ronson's other book but based on Them, I was very excited to see the movie version of "Men Who Stare at Goats." Starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey and a host of others, I was sure the theater would be packed. Nope. Joe and I went with Charlie, Ben and Sarah. About 10 minutes in I could hear Sarah sighing and she looked at me and said "This isn't funny." At least I think that is what she said. I had a hard time hearing her because I was laughing so loudly.

The basic premise of the movie is that the US Government had a secret unit called the First Earth Army based on the New Age movement. The FEA trained a group of men to develop their psychic abilities, helping them "Be all they could be." The secret group of warrier monks would:
Seek your own personal path to God
Actively improve your physical condition.
Master mental self control for combat.
Understand others.
Reinforce team interdependence.
Actively serve people and planet.
Indulge in happiness and humor.

There were several levels of ability ranging from sparkly eyes and total observation to remote viewing, running through walls and the ability to stop the heart of an animal by staring at it, hence the movie and book title. The premise to the average person probably sounds a little far fetched, and that is the appeal of the movie. It sounds so ridiculous and yet I tend to think a lot of it probably happened!

George Clooney is fantastic in this role. He has a great sense of comedic timing and his facial expressions sell the role. Throughout the movie you know he is crazy and yet you grow to admire his belief system. There are so many layers of humor that I think I laughed pretty much non stop. The super spies are also referred to as Jedis and there are some great lines with Ewan McGregor saying things like "You really think I could be a Jedi?" Kevin Spacey plays a snobbish ass like no one else and overall the casting is perfect.

Sarah and Ben hated it and she said if she was on the aisle she would have left. Joe, Charlie and I liked it and Joe and I were laughing about scenes all the way home. Maybe the fact that we read "Them" helped Joe, Charlie and me like this movie so much. Ronson has a unique way of story telling and he has a dry, almost subtle sense of humor. I have talked to a few other co-workers who also saw it and most enjoyed it immensely. I am worried it is not going to do well, but I loved it and am interested in reading the book which apparently has a darker ending than the movie.

The Men Who Stare at Goats opens this weekend or you can check out the book by the same name by Jon Ronson. I'd recommend either for a story too good not to be true.

From the First Earth Battalion website (yes, this is real):
Between the crack of time and the fold of space there is an impulse to seek the fullness of life. Let there be the slipstream of knowing that penetrates in the flash of an eye to the core of the prize. Let that edge of knowing blaze a trail of pure magic for the spiritual warriors of the galaxy to rise again in the grist of the great surge forward and strike the banner of pure heart into the midst of the fury and bring her all — home again.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Road Not Taken and a Little Rupdate

Yesterday I had a glimpse of the road not taken. Sandy was out of town so I had Miller. He was up early and while content playing, when we went to get dressed, everything went down hill. He wanted to keep playing; he whined. Whining turned into crying and that continued for an impressive 20 minutes. He let me get him dressed and afterwards I was able to tickle him back into a seemingly good mood. When we got to daycare he wanted to be held and didn't want me to leave. He started screaming at the top of his lungs that he wanted me and the teacher, Ms. Joyce, had to forcibly remove him from my arms.

I don't know how working moms do it.

All I wanted was to grab him back, cuddle him until he stopped crying and then take him home and play. Instead I tried not to turn around and look at him again (I couldn't help it and did - poor little guy) and went to work. Around 10:30 Ms. Joyce called and said he still hadn't calmed down. He would cry for no reason and he had worked himself into a crying fit that resulted in throwing up phlegm from the cold he had been fighting. It was slow at work, I have 56 sick days available to me so I told her I would come pick him up even though I am sure he could have made it through the day.

So Miller and I played hookie. We went and voted, we went shopping, he napped, we played with bubbles, puzzles, he helped me clean. I was able to get some work done and some chores around the house so it was overall a good day. He was definitely off and would still cry for no reason, but I think he had a much better time being home with me. I know I did.

Joe and I have chosen not to have children. This was not an easy decision to make and we analyzed, over analyzed and then analyzed it again. It was all I could think about over the course of 2 years. The many reasons why we chose not to have children could easily be a novel on its own, but that isn't the reason for this post. Having a child is the natural progression of life. You grow up, go to school, graduate, get a job, get married, buy a house....have a child. It is the circle of life, or at least the straight line of most lives. It is expected. I followed that line but now am veering off the path onto uncommon ground.

I have several friends that are pregnant, trying to get pregnant desperately, or trying to decide if they want to have children. For some reason, I do not have that desire. I do love Miller and enjoy the time with him. I think Joe and I would be fantastic parents and that we would love our family and never look back. But since I have a choice, I choose a different path for our lives, one that involves traveling, enriching our lives in other ways and concentrating on our relationships.

I wish I DID have the desire for children: it would make things so much easier socially. It is very hard to be a 35 year old woman and not have any children. In any given gathering of women the conversation turns to children and while I have child birth stories and funny tales to share, most times I am excluded from the conversation. I have actually had a woman ask if I had children and when I said no, she said "oh" and turned and walked away from me. I am jealous of my friends that know that they want children so badly that there isn't an option. I am left to walk down my path and wonder if I made the right choice.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both

The Robert Frost poem seems so cliche, but I really can relate. I can see myself and my friends standing at the fork in the road and I choose left and they choose right. As we walk on, we are close in the beginning, but as time moves on the distance between the two paths becomes larger and larger until it is harder to see them and eventually I don't see them at all. For some people I made sure to tie a rope around their waists. Some of the ropes are strong as ever, some are elastic with periods of closeness and then further away. Some are getting frayed and some are so ruined I know the connection will break any moment if it hasn't already.

My mom once said the funniest thing to me when we were talking about having kids. (She has been annoyingly supportive saying it was a decision only Joe and I could make.) We were talking one day and she said it was so much easier before birth control. You didn't have to make the choice to have children, you just got knocked up. I am glad I do have the choice, but also see the ease in just having it happen and dealing with the situation.

Every choice has the option that wasn't chosen and I firmly believe that even the most resolute in their choice have moments where they wonder if they were wise when they stood at that fork. I am sure that going left is the correct choice for me and days like yesterday make me feel confident in that decision. I have fun playing. It made my heart hurt to leave him in pain. I love snuggling with him. And yet somehow I feel that not having kids is the right choice for me.

I remember one time I was with Erin and we were in line behind a baby. She was oohing and ahhing and said she was aching for a baby. I asked her if it literally hurt and she said yes, she felt empty inside. Cara has said she doesn't know why, can't really describe it, but she always knew she wanted to be a mom and have children. I don't have that feeling about kids and for a time worried because I didn't. Now I think of current goals in my life and know that I do have an indescribable want - just not for kids but for a half marathon. I mean really, I hate running. It's hard. Training for it is hard. But for some reason I can't explain, I know I want to do one. And I know as I cross the finish line all the pain, bad days and self doubt will be worth it.

I feel so incredibly lucky to have a friend like Sandy who has let me be such a major part of her son's life. I am so grateful to be able to spend time with him and create such a loving relationship with him. I love hearing him laugh and am amazed at how quickly he learns things. I am excited to watch him develop and wonder how I can help him become the best little man he can be. We've had great days, good days and some Calgon Take Me Away days. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what being a mom is like and that has helped me become confident in my choice not to be one. I have an unbelievable amount of respect and am in awe of my mom-friends and especially my stay at home mom friends. The amount of mental exhaustion they must feel is overwhelming to me and I'm not living it! I do think not being a mom allows me to be an incredibly awesome aunt. I feel like I am making a difference in the life of a child, just not my own.

I remember a scene in Say Anything when Diane Court is giving the graduation speech. She says "Having taken a few classes at the University this year, I have glimpsed our future. And all I can say is.....go back." I kinda feel this way about having kids. Miller allows me to glimpse the motherhood future and I'm choosing to go back. Finally, I'm OK with that.

I had one of those mornings where I forgot a million things so had to keep running back upstairs. So I got to the gym 20 minutes late. I did a quick 15 minute run and then did my endurance swim of a mile, non stop. Both were good, although I was reminded how much I enjoy swimming, just swimming. I'm still slow, but I enjoy it. My running development is so far behind, I am so slow but I have to believe I am doing it correctly. My heart rate is still an issue and if it doesn't improve over the next month, I am going to see someone. Right now it stops me right when I feel like I am getting in a groove. I worked out solo again this morning. While I miss my mom, I did enjoy the solitude of the workout. I think that is one aspect of running I am going to enjoy, once I get going.

Joe and I stayed up way too late on Monday so I can feel my exhaustion setting in. It is going to be a challenge for me to continue to get up and work out. Finally though, the guilt I feel for not working out really outweighs the tiredness. It only took me four months, but I think I finally can do this on my own. I hope. :)

Date 11/4/2009 (Holy crap it's November!)
Time: 15 minutes
2 minute warm up, 5 minutes running, 2 minute walking, 5 minutes running
Incline 1.0
Total Run: 10 minutes at 4.5
Total Walk: 5 minutes at 3.0
Total Mileage: 1.25 miles
Puke: No
Breakfast: 1 Kashi Go Lean Protein Bar

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rupdate: Runway 5K and Solo Workout...Yay Me!

This Saturday Joe and I ran the Runway 5K at the Charlotte airport. It is a really cool run. It is flat which is always nice and you literally run on the runway. There are planes taking off and landing around you and it makes the time seemingly fly by. They were hoping for 1,000 people but had 1,600 so there was a great feeling of excitement in the air. I hadn't really trained for the 5K, but was looking forward to the experience more than anything. Now Joe is a better runner than I am and always has been. When we were running together in 2003 he was always faster and stronger and that was when he weighed 150 pounds more than he does now. He literally did no training for the run and honestly, I was worried he would beat me and make all my work seem meaningless. It's not easy getting up every morning to work out and I need to have it matter that I do. So we started the run and I know he could have gone faster but he stayed with me. He jogged almost in place when I took my walk breaks and made me laugh several times and made the run fun.

My goal was to not puke and to listen to my body. It's frustrating though because what is a comfortable pace for my legs to run is not comfortable for my heart and I start to feel the pre-puke come on. I need to buy a heart rate monitor and hopefully the more I run, the more my heart will tolerate. I did let Joe convince me to sprint the last quarter of a mile. I told him he'd have to pay me $10 if I puked...he said no but I went ahead and puked anyway. I had crossed the finish line smiling but then went on a hunt for a nice private patch of ground. Blah. I really hate puking.

Joe ended up tearing his calf muscle so we had a pretty lazy rest of the weekend. He woke up on Sunday sore and tired. His knees and ankles were hurting and his hip was tight. Conversely, I felt completely fine. I certainly hate that he hurt himself so badly, especially because it was a lot of fun to run with him, but do know that my training has its purpose. My body may not run quickly, but it tolerated the exercise and didn't rebel against me on Sunday morning.

My mom is out of town so this morning I kinda had the option to work out. It is really nice to know that someone is counting on you to get up and out so without that I really thought about sleeping in. I went back and forth - would I feel better sleeping in and would that out weigh how bad I would feel for not working out? I finally decided on working out. I want to get better and the only way to do that is to work out. I have Miller this week so it is going to be a challenge to fit in a work out so I needed to go. I did and managed to run and swim. I am so glad I did it. I read a quote once about running and working out where someone said that you just need to get to a point where it is like brushing your is just something you do every day no matter what. I am trying to get there. It can't be an option.

Running was good; much easier on a treadmill than outside. I need to incorporate more outside runs into my training. I ran for 30 minutes, 4 minutes of running, 1 minute of walking. I could feel my legs were a little tired, but they hung in there. I think I need to get comfortable being uncomfortable. I tend to like feeling good and honestly, running doesn't. There is a point where my legs are tired, my lungs get tight and that doesn't even include the puking. But I know to get better I need to tolerate this discomfort and know that it will get easier, get better.

Swimming was also good. The pool was crowded so I had to share a lane but I went through the my drills and tacked on an extra few laps for good measure. I was certainly out of breath, but felt good for swimming almost a half mile. I also have to remember that in April when I started swimming I couldn't even do one lap. Really! So overall I am glad I worked out this morning and glad that it is becoming a non negotiable part of my life. Getting up early in the mornings suck and getting up early on Saturdays also sucks. I do it though, because I am always glad that I did. Soon it won't be a question of if I should or have time to work out. I simply will.

Running Summary:
Date 11/2/2009
Time: 30 minutes
4 minutes walking/1 minute running
Incline 1.0
Total Run: 24 minutes at 4.3
Total Walk: 6 minutes at 3.5
Total Mileage: 2.52 miles
Puke: No
Breakfast: 1 mini cliff bar, 30 minutes before the run

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I am only going to post updates of my runs because that is the one area where I am most challenged. Plus, I think even I'd get bored if I posted about EVERY workout. So look for Rupdates on Tuesdays and one other time during the week.

I will mention this morning's swim...because it was FUN. I spent way more time than necessary coming up with a training session and we did a technique focused swim this morning. Some of the drills were new so felt very awkward, but it takes 4 weeks for practice to become form so I am not worried. After the drills I swam 250 meters, the length of the Ramblin Rose. The last 2 laps I swam as fast as I could. I was horribly out of breath when I finished, but it was great.

After I caught my breath I noticed the pool was surprisingly empty. I moved into another lane in the deep end to try to teach myself to flip over at the end of the lane. This is one skill that I really feel like I need before I will feel "professional". I have never been able to do a forward flip under water without holding my nose. This morning, I figured the worst thing that would happen was water in my nose, which happens so frequently now it isn't that big of a deal. So I tried and rolled with no water in my nose! I was so excited. I called my mom and she wanted to see too. So I did it again! Now I am just doing a forward somersault in the water, but still - it's an achievement for me and one step closer to the flip.

I left the pool giddy. It was a great swim. I challenged my self, learned I could do something new and walked away happy. Sure I also swallowed a ton of water, coughing so much I alarmed the lifeguard, barely swam 4 laps using a buoy that made me look like I couldn't even float and swam so crookedly I punched a strange man in the face. But I did a somersault underwater without holding my nose. Five times! It's all about attitude right? So I am choosing to laugh at all that other stuff and celebrate my achievement. Maybe next time I see some 7 year olds we can compare form!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Running Update aka Rupdate One

I read a great list of tips to keep motivated while running and the first one was to create a blog where you list your running times and then give it out to people so you feel pressure to run, since you know people will be looking for it. So for all my 4 readers, here are my details so you know when to call me on my laziness. I work out 6 days a week. Right now my schedule is Swim/Walk on Monday, Run and weight class Tuesday, Long Swim Wednesday, Pilates and weight class on Thursday, Kickboxing or walking on Friday, Zoomba and Walking on Saturday.

Yesterday I scaled back my training program and made it the same as my mom's. If I could figure out how to include a word document on here, I would attach it so you could see it. I did our first program the week after the tri and I was still on a tri-high so the plan was very aggressive. I had one schedule for my mom and then one for me but my plan didn't include the very basic fact that I hate running. This new schedule is better and slowly increases the amount of running while decreasing walking time. The end goal is the same - running 30 minutes straight (about 3 miles for me) on Christmas morning. Since we are both non-runners, I am not concentrating on pace at all at this point, just building cardiovascular endurance and getting my body used to the idea that I am running now.

This morning was my first running workout on the new schedule: run for 3 minutes, walk for 2 minutes, repeat. We use the treadmill which is not perfect since there is a 30 minute time limit, but it allows my mom and I to chat while running completely different paces. I am a slow runner, so my running is at 4.5 or 4.7 on the treadmill and walking is at 4.0. I also do all of this on an incline of 1. I am quite pleased to report several things:
I did not puke. (Mom, you were right about the heart rate)
I ran farther than I ever have.
I was always happy for a walk break; I was never dying for one.
There is a 30 min limit at the Y, otherwise I could have gone longer.
I did this without an ipod (still had TV).
My mom ran the entire time for every run break.
My body felt and feels pretty good.
Overall I am pretty excited about the potential. I still don't like running, but am excited to see my growth in this area. After this morning's run, I feel like doing a half marathon is pretty attainable and I know it will also improve my running time in my next tri. I also think my body will be happy that I finally picked up on the subtle clues it was sending and will be more aware of my heart rate and hopefully won't puke as much. (Yes Mom, you were right.) Realizing that I want my first half marathon to mean something and help a charity alleviated the pressure to be prepared in a brutally short (and ultimately unrealistic) amount of time. I read a great quote the other day: "Everything changed the day I understood that if I was to become a runner, I would have to run with the body I had*." This body is still not sure about running. But I am going to convince it, the slow way, the right way.
"Sweat cleanses from the inside. It comes from places a shower will never reach."*
I love this quote from famed runner and cardiologist Dr. George Sheehan. I have never felt a burst of energy from working out, but I have felt positive mental health changes. Working out has always kept me sane, but now it also makes me happy, giddy almost. I am sure Joe is both glad and annoyed to have me this way. We are laughing more, being silly, poking fun and tickling, laughing until tears come from our eyes. I am excited to improve, to plan my run and pick my big race. I still hate running and am hoping that will change. But until then, the effects of running are enough for me.
"Play is where life lives.**"
Let's play.

Rupdate Summary:
Date 10/27/09
Time: 30 minutes
2 minutes walking/3 minutes running
Incline 1.0
Total Run: 12 minutes at 4.5
Total Walk: 8 minutes at 4.0
Total Mileage: 2.23 miles
Puke: No
Breakfast: 2 pieces of PB toast, an hour before the run

*John Bingham, The Courage to Start
** Dr. George Sheehan

Monday, October 26, 2009

Finding a Way Through the Suck

I am feeling inspired this morning; inspired to make a difference, to DO something, to feel proud and be a part of something larger than me.

A friend of a friend is fighting cancer. He is 27 and after a few surgeries, decided to start chemo in an effort to knock it all out of his system. He has a blog detailing each day. This is going to sound like a ridiculous statement, but I am surprised at how rough chemo is. I know the basics- it's poison. I get that this would be a rough process, but I guess I am used to the movie version of chemo.

Cue music montage...
Scene 1 -hospital room with cheery nurse, tired patient with head of hair.
Scene 2 -patient brushing hair, strand falling out, family shaving heads
Scene 3 -patient, bandanna on head, family gathered around holding hands.
Scene 4 -patient wearily getting out of bed, going home, regaining strength.

I'm sure you can see it in your head too and while you know that it is bad, you kinda block out the actual details. So reading Stephen's blog has made it more real, more visceral, my reaction more guttural. I don't even really know him. We have mutual friends and I have seen him around at pool parties or at the bar. Besides "hey grab me a beer too please" I don't think I have really spoken to him. And yet I am having a hard time getting him off my mind.

Maybe it is his age that makes it more real for me. Maybe it is his openness about the process; reading his blog has made our online-only relationship intimate. Maybe it is the mentions of his girlfriend which makes me think of how she is feeling, coping, helping; how this is changing their relationship and hoping it is making them stronger. How would I help Joe through that? How would he help me? Would we be OK? (Are people only affected by tragedy if they can see themselves in that situation?)

Whatever the reason, I feel irrationally connected to him and this fight. I want to help and yet I feel helpless. And while this morning it is centered around this one person, this sense of wanting to do something meaningful has been growing lately. I started feeling it while training for the triathlon. Helping my mom was fun for me and at the Tri It For Life celebration dinner, I knew I would become a mentor for the 2010 season. The group takes time off in October so I think I am just getting itchy and starting to look at other places. I have been following the actor Ed Norton as he runs a marathon this weekend to raise money for the Maasai people and this morning looked into Team in Training. The more I think about my plans to run in a half marathon, the more I think that that goal needs to be closely tied into a charity. Instead of finding a cute theme run, I am going to find a run that makes a difference for a charity I care about. I don't know what or when, but will let you know as soon as I do.

It feels silly to say I have decided to make a difference so I am going to run a half marathon and maybe a marathon. Whoop dee do. That isn't going to make Stephen or his girlfriend Julie feel better. It isn't going to help the countless thousands of other people who in an instant had their life changed by a cancer diagnosis. It's going to make ME feel better; quite the selfish way to give of myself. I just have to hope that I am only seeing my tiny part. Isn't there a saying about a drop of water making rings that travel over the lake? If you know what I am talking about, please let me know. I do remember a Buddha quote: Even a water pot is filled by the falling of water-drops. So this will be my drop for now and who knows what will come of it. What I do know is that I need to do something because my soul is crying out.

Until I find the event for me, I will keep reading Stephen's blog, keep thinking of ways that I can help him, even if that is just sending healing thoughts out there. I am inspired to help, inspired to inspire and who knows: This might just be the beginning.

Quoted in Stephen's recent blog: "Only after disaster can we be resurrected." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club

Monday, October 19, 2009

Working Away My Wanderlust

I need to do some work. But I don't want to.

Don't get me wrong; I am thankful to have a job and know that I have it pretty good. I work in a fantastic field, with young, creative and spunky people. I have a great deal of flexibility when I need it and amazing perks. I have been here for 13 years and while there are ups and downs, I really do love where I work and can't imagine going anywhere else.

That being said, I also have a huge case of wanderlust. I think I have always had this particular affliction but it was fostered by my parents. We moved around, not so often that it was annoying, but just enough for me to understand that new places helped me grow as a person. We took vacations and spending 8 hours in a car was never a big deal as a child. Once we got older we spent weekends at the beach and were constantly thinking about "the next time." When I was 12 I was allowed to fly by myself and by 16 was completely comfortable driving or flying alone. At 18 my best friend and I spent a month traveling England and Scotland and I had a fantastic time seeing such history and differences in culture. At 19 I took off in the middle of the night for a 8 hour road trip alone and did another solo 18 hour road trip a few years ago. I have tag team driven through the night with Cara, alternating sleeping and driving. I have slept for a few hours alongside the truckers at a rest stop off the interstate. I love road trips, flying, train trips, boat trips, sailing, you name it. I love the mountains and I love the ocean and I ESPECIALLY love mountains in the oceans.

Lucky for me I met and fell in love with someone who also enjoys traveling. Joe comes from a family of non-travelers, his mother has never flown on an airplane, but somehow he has the bug too. We have chosen not to have children, for a variety of reasons, but one being our ability to travel. Ideally I'd like to go on two major vacations a year and for the most part, we have done that so life is good. But as I was driving to work today I pulled up next to someone with Idaho license plates and a trunk full of luggage. I instantly felt the pull.

It has been 4 months since my last trip. Joe, Shelia, our friend Adrienne and I went to Key West for a week over July 4th. We had a fantastically exhausting time. We didn't really DO much - a lot of drinking and walking, but somehow the perfect week flew by too quickly. We had an amazing day of sailing and plenty of days of laughter followed by more laughter. It wasn't my first time in Key West; I had surprised Joe this year for his birthday, but it was my first time in Key West LIKE THAT and it was a blast. As far as future plans we are headed down to Florida to visit Mike over Christmas and then we are going to Cancun and spoiling ourselves by staying here to celebrate Valentine's Day. We are planning on going to Wilmington to compete in another triathlon; it will be Joe's first and a longer distance for me. I am also going on a week long girl's cruise with Margaret. We had such a good time for my uncle's wedding last year we decided to do a 4 day cruise in lieu of our annual mountain weekend in February. Well, 4 days became 7 days and now we are headed to St. Thomas, Bahamas and St. Maartin on a brand new cruise ship. It seems like that should be enough to keep my wanderlust at bay. This morning, it's not.

Last year my friend from work Cindi and her now fiance Jason, quit their jobs, packed up all their belongings and traveled around the world for 18 months. They didn't have an agenda, just a list of places they wanted to see. They are big divers so the first 2 months were in Central America getting their dive master certifications and from there visited Vietnam, South Africa, India and many other beautiful places around the world that I would love to see. They kept a blog and I followed their trip with amazement and a large dose of jealousy. This wasn't the first time Cindi quit everything and traveled...she did it in college as well. I often think about doing that but right now see too many responsibilities. I do wish I had met someone like Cindi while I was in college - someone to suggest that it was even possible - becuase I really think that Joe and I might have done that before we got bogged down with the house, the bird and the bills (along with a snobby standard of resort living).

For now I will have to be happy that I am still able to travel at all. Things have been tight in the Burro-Mann household, mostly due to us redoing the floors and me getting braces. But luckily we still have our vacation fund. I am traveling in December, February, March, April and June and yet I still feel a longing and I think it is my own fault.

I set running a half marathon as my next challenge goal. I started looking for cool race themes because I really wanted my first half marathon to be fun and different and NOT NASCAR themed. I found the perfect one - the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando. It was in March, Princess themed, and the best part is that you run through the parks - guaranteed mental stimulus to think the pain away! I came up with the perfect travel plan and ran it by my mom and Joe. The idea was completely flawless....if only we were millionaires. Unfortunately, we just can't afford it. Or rather, we could do it at the expense of our Wilmington Tri trip and/or our summer vacation. I will admit I got snarky with Joe, but ultimately it isn't fair to him and really, I need to focus my physical goals. I don't want to give up a summer vacation and I know for sure I want to do more triathlons. I can't imagine choosing running over the tris, so no Princess Half Marathon for me this year.

I still want to complete a half marathon and I think it would be ideal to have a cute Princess theme for my first time (Is it worth setting my goal back a year to do it in such an ideal way? hmmmm), but I think I was more excited about going somewhere I have never been before. I have never been to Disney and it would be a fun trip with my family to somewhere new. I love traveling for travelling's sake. I would gladly go to Sheboygan, Wisconsin just because I have never been there. Having a possible new trip with my family, going through all the planning to see if we could afford it and then realizing we can't, has made me a little sad for a trip to somewhere I haven't been. I guess I am loquaciously and virtually pouting.

Tim Kenny, a wise and dear friend of mine who also has wanderlust, has been my sounding board for years. We have had several conversations about places to go, why we love to travel and who we become when we are looking at the ocean. I worked with Tim for over 10 years and when you see pictures of him on vacation he truly looks like a different person, almost unrecognizable. I don't know if my pictures are as drastic, but I feel like they should. I feel relaxed and happy and like who I am supposed to be. Tim also has warned me about letting the lust take over my life and because of him I try not to let it consume me. I have days where all I do is dream of trips and plan vacations. I can feel one of those planning binges coming on now.

I guess I wonder if other people love to travel as much as I do and if so, how do they cope having to work? I do know that I work in order to have a life, and for me part of that life is travel. I can't imagine not doing it or not planning something. I have friends who say they don't travel well and I don't know what that means. While I love our home, I cannot think of a trip where I was ready to leave or come back. I can't imagine going a year without a trip, seeing Caribbean waters on TV and not aching for the chance to be there in person or not feeling the adrenaline rush when thinking about traveling somewhere new and foreign.

I just touched base with Tim; I needed a reality check. He doesn't work with me anymore so our contact has been more sporadic over this last year; sharing trip pictures and links of nice places to stay for the next one. But even a quick hello from him reminds me that I cannot let this take over my life. To travel I must have a job to fund it and to have a job, I need to get some work done.

So off to work, for now. But I really, really, really need to start planning what we are doing Christmas 2010. I am thinking of chartering a sailboat for a week and cruising around the Virgin fact maybe I should check into rates for that. Oh and I really need to firm up my summer ideas so I can make sure my budget is accurate and then I need to check in with Margaret about the beach house...and email the cruise lady to confirm I am paid in full...and I want to do the Midnight in the Garden bike ride in Savannah in September and I still need to price out Wilmington trip....

See? How am I supposed to work when I have all THAT to do?!?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Half Marathon Training Update aka Amy is Out Of Her Mind

I hate running. Really, I do not enjoy it. So OF COURSE I think a half marathon is a good goal. My mom decided she wanted to improve her running so we both have a new goal and can continue to train together. Yay! Well I am a bit anal so set up a lovely training session for myself and a different one for my mom. It really is a lovely chart and took me most of the day to do. I used pictures and quotes and factored in vacation days, etc. I had a lot of fun PLANNING the running.

This morning was our first day of the new running plan. We decided to try the treadmills since this will allow us to track our pace better. The goal was to do 30 minutes, 1 minute running, 2 minutes walking. After 1 minute I felt good, so decided to see how far I could go before I really wanted to stop. The answer: half a mile. I kept walking for another half mile and then ran another half mile (total 1.5 miles). At this point I only had half a mile left and less than 4 minutes. I really wanted to hit two miles total so I pushed it. Hy heart rate was 181 and I got to 2 miles. And then I continued running into the nearby bathroom to throw up. I know I'm a puker, but really, it is annoying. I hate throwing up and it really gets in the way of a proper cool down. My mother, who has been a patient friend, kicked into mom mode and said that maybe I should look into WHY I throw up and that I need to lower my heart rate. I did sorta kinda notice that around 171 I started to feel a little pukey, but if I slowed down it went away. Once I kicked it into high gear and my heart rate reached 181, there was no turning back.

After my public puke of a few weeks ago, I did do a little research on exercises induced vomiting and found lots of people do it and not a lot of people know why. A couple of the prevailing theories (or as I call them Reasons For Puking, RFP) are:

1. Too much fluid/food too soon before working out or conversely you are dehydrated.
2. As your body reaches its limits, it starts shutting down the less important systems first in order to protect the vital organs. The GI tract is one of the things it starts with. That means it stops processing fluids, or at least slows down dramatically. It does this by constricting flow from the stomach into the intestines. Suddenly you have fluid/food in your stomach that isn't digesting, so you need to vomit.
3. The workout has gone into the anaerobic realm and a buildup of lactic acid occurs.
4. You are working out too hard and this is your body's way of telling you to stop.

After this morning's puke, I decided to look into my mom's theory of the heart rate, since I really wasn't sure of what my heart rate should be. I had a vague recollection of a 220 minus your age equation and thought I was just fine. Well...turns out that 220-age thing is outdated, was never based on science and is flat out wrong. The actual way to find your max heart rate is more complicated, but I just went here. My heart rate when I threw up was 181. My max heart rate? 157. So maybe mom was right. That also makes RFP #3 seem logical which also ties in well with RFP #4. Chalk one up for mom.

Turns out there is way more science involved in this getting active thing. I don't think I really needed to be SUPER concerned about nutrition and dehydration for the triathlon, but it is dawning on me that the half marathon is a whole other beast, which makes me feel a tad idiotic for even thinking about doing this. I mean really, I hate running. What was I thinking?!

In May I had just really started training for the triathlon. I could ride a bike but after riding 3 miles felt winded and tired. If you had offered me a million dollars to run a mile after that first bike ride I would have sat on the curb and cried because I could not have done it. I alternated between thinking signing up for a tri was the best thing I ever did and the dumbest. I was fat, out of shape and didn't know how to swim with my head in the water. That was in May. I stuck with it and I did it. So I have to believe (quite literally - HAVE TO BELIEVE) that this will get easier too. I knew it was going to be rough and I knew I was going to have to push myself. None of that sounds easy so I really don't know why I am shocked with today's run. You know what is easy though? Beating yourself up and convincing yourself to quit. I am good at that...I can do THAT. I could take a backseat and help my mom, only challenging her. Running is hard on a body and I hate it so it actually makes a lot of sense to quit. Even as I type that I can feel tears in my eyes. I don't want to quit. I WANT to finish a half marathon. I WANT to push myself and feel myself grow. I WANT to know I can do it. Strike that, I KNOW I can do it.

I can't explain any of this rationally or logically. Yes, I hate running but somehow I know I need to do this for me. So maybe I give myself a break and say if not Thunder Road on 12/12 then for sure The Corporate Cup in March. That gives me more time to train, more time to learn and more time for my body to get used to the idea that it is going to be a runner. Maybe going from not running at all to a half marathon in less than 2 months was a bit ambitious. I can change the goal now that I am more informed, just as long as the end result is the same. I will be a half marathoner.

So yes, I am probably out of my mind. But hopefully in a few months I will be a half marathoner with super cute training guides who is out of her mind. Now most importantly...what am I going to wear on my first half marathon???

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Goal: Half Marathon. Wait, what?

Let me tell you how different my life is now that I am a triathlete. Go ahead, roll your eyes, I know what you are thinking. "Get over it, it was one day!". I will, I promise. In fact, I'm halfway there.

I will admit that the day after the triathlon was pretty fun. I KNOW I was walking with a little more sass in my step. I wore my "Congrats to Me" dress that I bought specifically for that day and I felt pretty hot. Joe took me out to dinner and I was riding high on self pride. That first week I would have shouted it to anyone that listened; "So I did a triathlon last weekend..." I looked at my body differently as well. I haven't lost any weight training for the tri, but my legs have some pretty nice definition now; I might even use the term sexy. I now would rather be fat and fit than skinny and slothy (I know, but you come up with a word that starts with S that means "not in shape"!) Don't get me wrong, I still am pretty proud of myself, but as I get further and further away from the actual date it is becoming less of a big deal. So what? I did a triathlon.

I knew I would be in better shape at the end of my training, but what I didn't expect was how it really did alter my feeling about what I can and can't accomplish. I am hooked on triathlons and want to compete in more next year (my goal is 3, maybe 4). I want to better my time in the Ramblin Rose and I think that is completely doable. Suddenly longer tri distances didn't seem so demanding and were approachable. I was online looking for different races coming up and I noticed a Half Marathon in December. In the past I would have kept looking. I HATE running after all. But this time I stopped and thought "13.1 miles. I can do that." WHAT? I can do WHAT? In April I would have laughed at you for suggesting that. But now, it was do-able. After all I did 4 miles at the Ramblin Rose, so how much harder is 13.1? I can run/walk it and just need to keep up a pace of 14 minutes per mile. Surely I can do that! I haven't signed up, but it is rolling around in my brain, just the way signing up for the triathlon did. I have a feeling I am going to do it; if not this one in November, one in March for sure.

The funny thing about this was how other people responded and how that made me feel. I first told my co-worker Courtney. I convinced her to do the Ramblin Rose and also connected her with Tri It For Life. I told her and her first response was "Do it...I know you can. When is it? I'll do it with you." Now you are talking about two "pleasantly plump" woman who were moderately athletic in April of this year. Now we are talking about doing a half marathon? There is part of me that finds it quite laughable. Next I put it on my facebook page. Overwhelmingly I got positive responses from my fellow friends; people who currently are training for some race, just completed the RR with me, or people who had watched my progress as I learned to swim and cheered me on from afar. "You can do it" was the chorus. Maybe everyone who thinks I am crazy just kept quiet! Then I told Joe that I was seriously considering it and why I thought it was a good idea. He paused...for longer than I would like, but then said he knew I could do it. But he knows just how much I hate to run and I am sure he first thought was not positive. Thank goodness he kept his mouth shut! I almost want to pick a fight with someone who dares to tell me I can't do it. Yes I can....if I want to.

So in one year I might go from casual gym go-er to triathlete to half marathoner. Crazy. That is what doing the Ramblin Rose did for me: convince me that I can do anything. Am I going to win? No...but I will finish, especially if I train for it. I will have to push myself harder than I did for tri training and that actually excites me even though that means there will surely be more puking in my future. I think I am ready though, just not sure if all my friends are ready for how much I will be strutting my butt around once I finish a half marathon! I for sure need to find a cute little short something to show off my legs for the day after that race!

At the Carb/celebration dinner for Tri It For Life we were given little cards that said "As I reflect on my journey of becoming a tri-athlete, I learned......I never thought I could.....I am most proud of......". At the time I didn't really know what to put in there so instead of leaving the card like was supposed to I brought it with me, knowing I would eventually have the words to fill in. I think I am finally ready, almost a month later.

I learned that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have heard that all my life, but now I actually believe it about myself (and others).

I never thought I could push myself to accomplish a physical goal.

I am most proud of doing this with my mother, helping her helped me become a better athlete and person. Seeing her achieve after so much struggling made me want to push myself that hard and to be a role model for someone else.

I am again reminded of that poem, that in the beginning didn't mean anything to me. Now it is echoed in my head at least everyday:

All your life
You are told the things
You cannot do.

All your life they will say
You're not good enough
Or strong enough
Or talented enough.
They'll say you are the wrong height
Or the wrong weight
Or the wrong type to
Play this or be this or achieve this.

A thousand times no
Until all the No's become meaningless.
All your life they will tell you no,
Quite firmly and very quickly,
They will tell you no.

And you...
YOU will tell them....YES!!!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

And All of a Sudden I Am Back In High School

I have been going to the gym every morning since the middle of August. I have fallen into the natural pattern of the place, coming at the same time, seeing the same people, using the same locker space, around the same people. The man at the front desk now says "see you tomorrow" instead of "have a nice day". I like this. It is comfortable and it makes me feel good about this new habit that I have developed and been able to keep up.

My mom and I use the same row of lockers each morning and there is always another girl that is on our same schedule and says "Hi Friends" every time she sees us. She is friendly and after a few days of close proximity, we started chatting. We told her of our upcoming tri, and the girl, Sarah, told us of this class that has helped her lose inches off her body and recommended we try it. So one morning we went to "Power Hour". It was challenging and I really pushed myself. If you have read any of my other blogs, I am sure you can guess what happened as we finished the running drills. Yep, I puked. I found a trash can...I'm not an inconsiderate puker...but the whole class saw me and I had to explain to about 40 people that it was OK - I'm just a puker. That was a couple of weeks ago and we haven't been back to class, mostly because of scheduling for the tri training.

We took a week off after the tri to recover and reward ourselves so started back and decided to come up with a new new workout schedule. I suggested adding pilates on Thursday mornings. Sarah was there for this discussion and agreed it was a great class that she goes to and we should for sure come with her.

So Thursday morning I donned my cute little yoga pants and matching tank top and went to the pilates room feeling pretty sassy. It was still dark and I took a seat in an open space and waited for my mom. There were 6 other people in the room and you could instantly tell that this group comes to class every week and knows one another. Sarah finally came in but didn't see me and went straight the group. She said that her friends were coming to pilates class today. One of the other girls said "hope it isn't like last time." The instructor asked what she meant and the girl, I'll call her Bitchy, says "the last time Sarah brought friends one of them threw up." Now by this point Sarah noticed me and pointed me out. Bitchy says "yeah I'm not kidding. Her last friend she brought to a class threw up." I paused and simply said "Yes, that was me." She looked down, embarrassed (I hope!) and quietly said "oh sorry" but damage was done. All of a sudden I was back in high school.

I've never been a super popular person. I got along with a lot of different groups of people because I am generally a friendly and nice person. But I have never been part of a group of "cool kids." I was closest to the dorks. I didn't let people cheat off my tests. I didn't drink. I read a lot and was not very involved with high school athletics. I was in the drama club and had one of the leads. I wasn't super skinny or super pretty and I didn't kiss a boy until I was 16. I was kind and average so people were nice to me. After we moved to NC, my general state of dorkdom was amplified when I went from an all girl school where make up was shunned to a co-ed school where pretty was required. I wouldn't say I was picked on but I know what it is like to walk into a situation and realize that I was what people were laughing at, or that I was excluded from cool places and parties. But I was nice, so I think people felt bad when they saw I was in the room, but nevertheless, I was pretty much a dork.

So on Thursday, in seconds, when I became acutely aware that Bitchy was making fun of me...and that they probably made fun of me the next class...and that meant that 40people that I don't know were laughing at me, I was right back in high school. I wanted to go home. I wanted to cry. I wanted to yell "There are people that LOVE me. I'm funny. I'm Smart. YOU'RE the dorks" and run over and puke on her. Instead I brushed it off with a joke and went on and did pilates. Of course, I felt uncomfortable the entire hour. My cute outfit suddenly looked too tight and made Gertie my Gut look even bigger. I was cold and my skin was an uncomfortable pale blue color. My mom never showed up so when class was over I scurried out of the room, my yoga mat tucked between my legs. As soon as I got in the car I called Joe; "The kids at school made fun of me" with tears in my eyes.

The last few years I have really come to terms with who I am and generally accept that. Sure there are days here and there that I question things, but for the most part I feel like I have a healthy, slightly flawed self esteem. I AM a dork. I still won't let you cheat off my test, still am a big reader and don't drink that much. In meetings I still sit in the front row, take notes and don't talk. I have never done any cool drugs and still don't care about college or high school sports. But I have a great group of friends that love me. For New Year's Eve Joe and I gave Fight Club matching pajamas and without any prodding or asking, we all wore them and got a fantastically gay picture of all of us. I can't tell you how happy that made me to feel completely, 100% comfortable with me. So I was a little shocked and pissed at how easily I went right back to feeling awkward and out of place at the gym. And to be honest, the rest of Thursday sucked. I wasn't in a good mood and think I could have cried at the drop of a hat. I started analyzing every social interaction I had at work, questioning if they like me; if I am doing a good job; if I am smart. It was horrible. I recently read that the human mood changes every 5 seconds and if that is true, it is no wonder why I felt like I was on a roller coaster going deeper and deeper into yuck. I was also angry at myself. I am better than this. I have people that love me and most importantly, I LIKE ME. Why am I letting this get to me?

So I got home last night, had dinner and gave Miller a super long bath. We snuggled in bed as we read Teddy Bear's Picnic and I smiled when he told me "I wuv vouuu Amy". I hung out with Joe for a bit and then we snuggled in bed and I smiled when he told me he loved me, with better accentuation than Miller. And everything was perfect.

I really feel like I am a work in progress. I don't know how people say they are completely happy with who they are. How do they know who they are? Maybe they do and I am the one that is off, but I really think I am in a constant evolution, learning and growing. I don't think it is wrong to want to be accepted. In fact, in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, being part of a group is up there with shelter and food. Actually, according to Maslow I am doing pretty OK. I do have my biological, physiological and safety needs met. I am accepted by a group, feel loved and have close relationships. All that allows me to work on the top two levels of his famous hierarchy: esteem needs and self actualization. I am working on achievements and personal fulfillment. So I know that a slip up here and there with my self esteem is OK. I just need to learn and grow and possibly use that awkward feeling to motivate me. I'm a dork and I'm OK with that. I'm also OK with every once and a while not being OK with that. And on those days I need to remember what is really important. Like Miller says "I'm funny, I'm silly, I'm strong, I can do it, I can reach the handle." OK that last one doesn't really apply as much, but I have a great life with people who love every little geeky thing I do. In truth I love every little geeky thing THEY do, and that makes us pretty perfect for each other.

So screw you Bitchy McBitcherson. Make fun of me all you want...I'm just going to be super nice to you so that you feel bad. Oh and I am going to do that pilates class until I am so flexible that I can bend my foot over my head and insert it up your ass. Thanks for the motivation.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hello my name is Amy and I'm a Triathlete!

Holy crap I completed a triathlon! I am a TRIATHLETE! Whoo hoo!

I slept horribly last night after going to bed way too late and fighting a "destabilized" stomach. I woke up at 4am and was aware of every pain, tight muscle and ache. I took a long, hot shower then ate toast with peanut butter. Joe and I loaded up the car and away we went. We left the house at 5:30 and it was still raining so I was just a tad grumpy and nervous. We got up there right after 6 which was my plan, giving me 2 hours to get ready without feeling rushed. Being early was great: we got a fantastic parking space, got my timing chip without waiting and had my numbers marked on both arms front of one leg and my age on the back of the other in permanent marker. I set up my transition area in the mist and was all set up by 6:20. I was feeling good and just worried about the now heavy falling rain. The last hour and half FLEW by. I really don't know what we did but all of a sudden it was 7:45 and we were listening to the announcements, National Anthem and lining up in the pool area.

My start time was 8:26 so I was in the first group to go. All the things that I had worried about seemed to solve themselves and I got in the water feeling confident and excited. I knew I could do this. I started swimming.....and sucked. I don't know why but after lap 3 I was exhausted. I alternated freestyle to breast stroke to side stroke. I mentally calmed myself down, knowing I still had a run and a bike ride to come. I let people pass me, those "have fun, just finish" comments finally hitting home. I was going to have fun, damn it!

I finished my swim, still thinking it sucked (actual time was 7:06) and ran to my transition area. It was still misting a bit so getting into wet clothing really didn't matter. I sat on my beautiful bucket and really took my time getting ready, brushing my hair, blowing my nose and taking some sips of water. I got on my bike and was off, feeling good. I waved to Joe, smiled for the cameras, made it through the first turn, yelled thank you to all the volunteers, got mid way up the first hill and promptly puked all over my bike and arm. Luckily there was no one behind me. A couple more gags and I felt fine and continued on my way.

Of all the three areas the biking is the thing I enjoy the most. I crave it. I kept up my "have fun" attitude, thanking all the police and volunteers, cheering people as I passed them, high fiving other Tri team members. I made it up the horrible hill at the end, cleared into transition and puked. Yep, again. This time at least I had made it past the crowds and was off to the side. I was able to stop so I didn't hit my arm or bike. A volunteer came running over to ask if I needed medic but I just said "Nope, I'm a puker" and she walked away. I really need a shirt that says that! I had anticipated my bike time to be 45 minutes. It was actually 30!

My transition to running was also faster than I thought and my legs also felt stronger; I was able to run right from the start. I still walked a large majority of it, but I finished strong and felt incredible crossing the finish line. There was music, a man calling my name, pictures being taken and I got a necklace that says Swim Bike Run. I had tears in my eyes and really felt incredible. I am a triathlete. I was hoping to finish in two hours; my actual total time was one hour 15 minutes!

My mom's start time was almost an hour and 30 minutes after mine so as I was finishing the run, she was getting on the bike. I saw her off and then cheered on other runners. Sandy and Miller showed up which made me so happy to see them. I had told them to be there by 10 but since I finished early, they missed it, but hung around to cheer on "Nana Kathy". My mom's biggest challenge was the bike, so I grew anxious waiting for her. After 50 minutes she finally turned the corner and walked up the horrible hill at the end. She walked into transition and I knew she was in pain. I ran back, helped her change, fearing she might quit. But she didn't.

We started walking; her hematoma from her July fall still bothering her. I threw my jacket to Joe, hugged her and told her we could do it. This triathlon had a staggered start so people compete against the clock. A person might cross the finish line first, but have a slow overall time so someone crossing the finish line 456th might actually win. My mom's start time was so late and her bike ride was a bit long, so it ended up that she was one of the last 4 people. We walked the entire time, me obnoxiously making pointless chatter to keep her mind off the pain. At one point she hugged me and said "Thank you for doing this with me." I hugged her back and thanked HER for doing this with ME.

The last mile of the walk was brutal for her I could tell. I'd ask her if she was OK and she'd nod and say her leg hurt. She fought back tears at points but kept walking. As we rounded the bend to the last quarter of a mile, a group of Tri It members started cheering for us and actually joined the walk. We had a little pack, all of them cheering for her to keep going. At this point she was the last one...but she wasn't quitting. As we neared the finish lines the entire place was packed and everyone started screaming. All the Tri It members were there screaming and I looked at my mom and smiled. She looked at me and said "I'm going to finish". I grabbed her hand and we took the final steps across the finish line together as she too became a triathlete. The entire Tri It Team gathered around her, everyone hugging her and congratulating her. Sandy was crying, random volunteers were crying. It was absolutely the most wonderful feeling I have experienced.

We gathered for a group shot and then packed up our stuff and headed home. On the drive home Joe asked me what I thought. I can't explain why, but I love it. I'm hooked. Everything about it is SO not me. I don't like to walk barefoot outside, yet today I RAN across an entire parking lot. I hate being wet, but today I was soaked and got onto a bike, dripping wet and it didn't bother me. I HATE throwing up, yet today I did it twice, once all over myself and my bike. Normally that would totally freak me out but for some reason I just wiped it away and went on with things. I hate running, yet am encouraged with my opportunity to see visible growth results. I can't wait for my body to recover to start working out again. I want to register for a longer co-ed tri in March. I am hooked. I asked my mom as she finished if she would do it again and she said no. By the end of the awards ceremony it was "I don't think so". I just talked to her and she said "She'd think about it". So I give her another week and she will be in too.

The Ramblin' Rose is a women's only triathlon sprint and is perfect as a first time triathlon. I don't know if is the woman thing or the first timers thing, but I was blown away by the support. People in the neighborhood came out and cheered. There were so many people yelling support for race numbers. Every time I heard a "Great Job 276!" I perked up a bit. A group of people stayed and cheered on my mom as she finished the bike ride and the support at the end was surreal.

I have always felt like I have a strong support system but usually I think of Joe and my immediate family. The triathlon experience showed me what support really is and how vital it is. I am eternally grateful to Margaret for sending me fruit on Friday and starting the weekend off. Random people cheering made me smile every time. I was so happy that Sandy and Miller showed up, when they didn't need to and probably didn't enjoy it; it was pretty boring for spectators. I got home and had so many facebook postings wishing me luck, then telling me congrats. About an hour after we were home the doorbell rang and there was a care package from my friend Sarah Waterrose; roses and awesome home made chocolate chip cookies. I almost cried. My phone and email has been inundated with people thinking of me and congratulating me. I have rarely felt more loved in my life.

People keep asking how I feel and I think they are wondering if I am sore. So how do I feel? I feel empowered that I finished, thankful for encouragement of strangers, the Tri It Team (, and my fabulous group of friends. Most of all I feel incredibly lucky to have shared this experience with my mom. In the movie of my life, this was a tear jerker, and even better than I could have imagined.