Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turns Out I'm A Big Fraidy Cat.

So to refresh you on my half Ironman attempt for 2012, I had planned on doing the Beach to Battleship half in November in Wilmington, NC.  I know several people who have done it and are still alive. The swim is a point to point with the current, the bike is flat and fast and the run is flat.  It has been super cold the last few years which makes me happy.  I recruited Cindy to do the swim, Courtney to do the bike and Doreen to do the run portion with me. It was all working out perfectly....until I got the email from Set Up Events that they were moving the date to October 20. NOOOOOO!  I had already committed to Cindy that I would do the Columbus half marathon with her that weekend.  I feel so badly I could not be with her when she finished her marathon this year, I really want to experience this race with her.  So not doing Columbus is not an option for me.

So I started looking for other 70.3 events.  I found a number that have cool themes but conflict with the MS ride.  Others were simply too far away to afford to do this coming year. I finally found one that is do-able: The REV3 Anderson 70.3 in Anderson, SC about 2 hours away from here.  Rev3 is a new events company that puts on triathlons that are very family and spectator friendly. Reviews online and from people I know are very favorable. The date is October 7 so it works being 2 weeks after MS ride and 2 weeks before Columbus. OK so I will do Anderson 70.3.

Then I looked at the course.  It's hilly; all of it - the bike and the run.  I looked at the elevation charts.  Yep, they are hilly.  Then I looked at the size - it's small which means that I might be last.  I started to freak out.  My freak out got worse. What if I can't do this? Why do I want to do this? Maybe I shouldn't do this. Maybe I should wait, knowing deep down waiting means I will never do it. 2012 is my year to do a 70.3. So I made an old fashioned Pros and Cons list.

  • Cheaper (entry and hotel fees)
  • Joe can travel with me
  • Timing works well with TIFL
  • Nice perks
  • Will feel more accomplished sine it isn’t an “easy” course
  • Close means easier for my parents to come
  • Close – means I can preview and even do a few training rides/run on actual course
  • Smaller race means it won’t be so overwhelming for my first
  • Very good reviews and freakishly passionate recommendations who have raced with Rev 3
  • Hot Air balloon Theme
  • Contact with them has been positive and encouraging
  • On Facebook and twitter – lots of communication
  • Race is on Sunday – means I don’t have to take a day off work
  • Bike course has turns which means I won’t want to get an aero bike
  • There is an Olympic distance if I really freak out

  • Hilly which means harder bike and harder run
  • Small means I could be last
  • Small means mostly everyone will be faster than me
  • It’s scary to do the distance alone, much less a hilly course
  • Temperature may be in the 80s – running in heat sucks
  • Swim is wave start, so relay option might not work out easily
  • It’s not ideal and it’s not what I had planned or thought about 

So as I look at this I realize that most of my cons are fear based. What if I can't do it?  It's going to be hard. What if I can't do it? What am I thinking? I'm slow, I'm fat, I'm not talented at any of these three things in any way.  WHAT. IF. I. CAN'T. DO. IT? It hit me. I'm scared.

Thinking about doing it makes me want to cry.  Thinking about NOT doing it makes me want to cry. Reading about other people doing an Ironman makes me cry. HOLY CRAP I AM SO SCARED. I know I am going to do Anderson, there are just too many reasons why I should and not really any good ones not to do it. I'll just train. I can do it. I think. I don't know. I think I can do it. I don't know. Wow. I am so scared.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Days of Thanks

Today is November 1 and apparently there is a 30 Days of Thanks "Challenge" going 'round the internets. Instead of posting each day of FB, I thought I would do a blog post so that I have a copy of it to keep.  I feel especially thankful at this moment, so I think the hardest part of this challenge is going to be narrowing down my thanks! 

  1. Day 1: I work at a fantastic company, with some great people that are smart, funny, witty and make the days more bearable.  My boss is understanding, appreciative and always gives me far more credit than I deserve.  She is always looking for ways to help me improve myself and is supportive of my life and athletic pursuits outside work.  Sure there are bad days and annoying co-workers, but for the most part, I truly love the people that work here and consider many of them extended family.  It's a great place to sit my butt for 10 hours a day and I am thankful for the chance to learn, grow, be challenged and get paid. 
  2. Day 2: I am inherently lazy but have lofty dreams and goals.  Today I am very thankful to my running partner Cindy, who meets me well before the sunrises, no matter how hot or cold, or whether she is or isn't training for something and encourages me to run.  She keeps me focused, keeps me on pace and believes that I can do anything I want to do. I may do the actual running, but she is the reason I like it.  We've evolved from polite acquaintances to close friends and I am so thankful to have her in my life.
  3. Day 3: A little more than a year ago I could only run for one minute at a 17 mile/minute pace. And then I would puke.  While I am still slow, and I am still not sure I LOVE running, I am very thankful that I have the strength to run, and that my body responds to the challenges I give it. I can look down while I am running and see my legs performing and I realize how much I have grown and improved in that year. Today on day 3, I am thankful for no major injuries and the opportunity to get better.  
  4. Day 4: I hear tales from dysfunctional families where siblings don't speak or the kids no longer talk to the parents.  I consider myself very lucky to be close to my family. So for Day 4, I am thankful to have my brother Mike in my life.  Not only do I love him because he is my brother, but I really like him. The last few years we have made an effort to hang out more and instead of talking about family stuff, we have talked like friends, sharing silly drunk stories from college or talking about work struggles. He makes me laugh and I love spending every second with him. Even though he lives in Florida and I only see him one or two times a year and only talk with him every 3 months or so, I still consider us close and am very thankful that he is my brother and friend. 
  5. Day 5: I just finished watching Grey Gardens, the incredible true story of Edith Beale and her mother Edith Beale.  The two of them, once socialites, live in absolute squalor.  It is an incredible story that many people will probably find sad and a bit gross.  At the heart of it though is a love story between mother and daughter.  So today on Day 5, I am thankful for my mom.  She raised me to be strong, independent and smart because that is exactly what she is.  I am often told that I look just like her and I take this as a huge compliment because she is and always has been beautiful. She is my go to person for advice and to talk about every day issues.  I love her very much and am very thankful she is in my life, lives so close and supports me in everything I do. 
  6. Day 6: Joe's dad died on October 24.  For the most part, we are one of the few of our peer group to lose a parent. It's an odd and surreal and it's going to affect Joe in a million different ways over the next years. So on day 6, I am thankful for my father, James Mann.  I am a Daddy's Girl, through and through. My dad has always been the person I have long talks with and I remember vividly when I told him I kissed a boy for the first time. I worry about my dad more than any person and I am lucky to have him so close by.  We've had a few health scares and that has just made me more aware of how short life is and how much I need to cherish it.  I love my Daddy and am very thankful for him.
  7. Day 7: Today Cindy and I went swimming for the first time in months.  We've been concentrating on getting her ready for her marathon so running has been the training of choice. But we both agree swimming is a great exercise and cross training opportunity, so we hit the pool. I fell into my strokes pretty easily, despite the long absence. I realized as I swam, that I am very thankful for my overall health. With the exception of some aches and pains, my body responds to what I ask of it. As I get older, I realize how important this is and am very thankful for my health. 
  8. Day 8: I have always been a very vocal supporter of our right to vote.  I always vote, even those primary elections that most people don't even realize happen. So this year I was flattered when I got a letter from the Board of Elections asking since I had such a strong voting record, if I'd be interested in working at a precinct.  I said yes and began training.  Today was the election day and even though only 13% of the population voted, I am very thankful that we have the right to do so. I know we as a country take our right to vote very for granted, so I am glad that I do it and that 13% of people do it too.
  9. Day 9: Ten years ago I married my best friend.  That is such a cliche and brings to mind cheap invitations and Precious Moments figurines, but in this case, it really applies. Joe and I have been married for 10 years, together for 18, and during that time we've fought, cried, grown, changed, apologized, talked until the sun came up, but more than anything, we've laughed.  Marriage is both the hardest and easiest thing I've ever done. It takes work, care and lots of laughter, so today, on my 10th wedding anniversary, I am very thankful to be married to Joe.  He is my best friend, my confidante, my safe place to be the silly, stupid, actual me.  I am thankful that he is committed to making our marriage last, admits mistakes and works every day to make me feel special and loved. My life is better because he is in it and I am very thankful for our friendship, our marriage and our laugh-until-I-snort-and-cry silliness that only makes sense to us.
  10. Day 10: I had no real ambitions to work in radio; it just kinda happened to me.  I had always imagined I'd work in corporate America, wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. Now, I cannot fathom how I ever wanted that.  Today we had an annual sale day called the PAE.  It was an Olympic theme so the sales staff broke into teams, dressed as countries and competed for prizes throughout the day.  The management staff had to dress up as well with one coming as a coach, another as a tennis player, while I came dressed as a referee.  I brought a flame, played Olympic music over a loud speaker all day, gave out gold medals and trophies for hourly awards. I know I've been thankful for my work already once this month, so maybe today I am thankful that life got in the way of my plan and instead of carrying a briefcase, today I wore jeans, a ref shirt and carried in a bag full of streamers and pom poms.
  11. Day 11: Today was a rough day.  Not bad, just overly busy and one of those days where nothing seemed to go the way it was supposed to go.  I ignored some advice I should have taken, got lost, ended up with 2 blisters a day before a race and wasn't able to catch up on much needed work.  So today I am very thankful for my home and my couch. My home is my safe place, where I feel comfortable, my haven. On a bad day, being home is just the best.
  12. Day 12: It always seems like a good idea to run a race...when I sign up.  The morning of always brings dread though.  Today was the Thunder Road half marathon in Charlotte.  I wanted to run it to get a double medal for running two halfs in a month (Rocktoberfest in October was the first).  Cindy and Doreen decided to do it with me and we agreed to run to together.  The day ended up being a comedy of errors; the train left early so we had to stand in the cold for 45 minutes, the convention center was not open so we didn't have the warm place to wait pre-race, my stomach was stressing me out and none of us were exceptionally happy to be running the race.  We got started and almost immediately I knew I would need to stop at the first porta johns, which were at mile 2.  I ran a little ahead of both of them, knowing I would need to stop.  I got to the portajohns, stopped, waited in line and Doreen stopped and waited with me.  We looked for Cindy but never saw her.  We waited until the cop car indicating the last runner was right behind us and figured either something bad happened and she stopped running, or just somehow made it past us without her seeing us, or us seeing her.  The bathroom break was just what I needed so Doreen and I continued our run.  We have been working on running continuously without walk breaks and we were able to do the first 7 miles only walking through water stops.   The miles went by quickly, I felt great.  Doreen started to fade though so the last few miles were filled with walk breaks and lots of whining from her and encouragement from me.  I remembered how I felt at my last race, less than 30 days ago and smiled when I thought about my run today.  So today, I am thankful for not giving up; for knowing bad days and bad races are just that; days and races.  Poor performance does not a life make.
  13. Day 13: I feel really good today, such a dramatic difference from last race where I was sore for days. Joe and I went on a bike ride, our first in a few months. I love being on my bike; I feel like a kid. We didn't go very fast, or very far, but today I am so very thankful that after 18 of years of being together, Joe and I have something we both enjoy doing. It makes such a difference. I have a friend who is going through a really rough time with her husband.  Today a bunch of girls went over there and I have to say it was really kinda odd knowing how unhappy she is. I am thankful that Joe and I work on our marriage. I also saw a number of people that I used to work with; some I have remained close to, others not.  I am thankful for the friends I have in my life and glad I realized that I do not need to remain friends with everyone I've ever known. Realizing that my life is better without some people in it is a lesson I am thankful for having learned.
  14. Day 14: The last few months I have been working with the Young Leaders for McCrory group in Charlotte and taken the lead planning our first event which was tonight at The Gin Mill. I didn't know what to expect, but we ended up with over 90 people showing up and staying after Pat left.  When I was younger I wanted to be a speech writer for a president so it has been so fun for me to be involved with politics, get to know some key people and dip my toe into these waters. I've loved getting a glimpse into this life and am thankful for the new experience.
  15. Day 15: I am an animal lover and we have an eclectic mix with two cats, a parrot and a ferret at our house. One cat is basically a wild kitty and the other cat, Pablo, is amazingly awesome. He's like a dog and a baby all in one super snuggly mix. He sleeps between us and follows me around.  I can't explain how much I love this little kitty and I simply fall  in love each morning as he sleepily follows me into the bathroom to get ready for my early morning runs. He is just the greatest cat ever and I am thankful we have him in our home.
  16. Day 16: Today is my friend Shelia's birthday.  I've worked with Shelia for years, but gotten closer over the last few years. She is my cheerleader when I need it, my honest critic when I ask and is the perfect travel companion. I am thankful to have her in my life and very excited we are headed to Key West for a week in 2012!
  17. Day 17: This morning was a Calgon morning.  It was pouring, I had a meeting at 7:30 but Miller had spent the night and the earliest I can drop him off at daycare is 7:30 so I knew I was going to be late to the meeting. Of course, five year olds have little sense of urgency so we didn't even leave until 7:20 and with traffic, I knew there would be no way to make it to the meeting.  Plus, going to the meeting would have made me late for work, which my boss said was OK...but I didn't want to push it. Something had to give. So I emailed the head of the meeting and explained I couldn't make it.  Miller and I took our time getting to daycare and I took my time getting him settled. I was able to stop for breakfast and get to work 15 minutes early. So today, on November 17, and at the age of 37, I am thankful for the recognition that sometimes I can't do it all and that is perfectly, wonderfully OK.
  18. Day 18: Today I took a vacation day and slept in until almost 11.  This is super simple, but today, I am thankful for my bed and my ability to sleep.  Gosh, I love my bed.  Today was also a fun day with Joe.  We met at Bonefish Grill, ordered take out, sat at the bar and got a bit tipsy. Joe and I spend a lot of time together, and we talk a lot, but there is something wonderful about concentrated alone time talking and catching up.
  19. Day 19: Ahhh Saturdays.  Lazy days, naps, catching up on TV. My home is my comfy place so I love my weekends. However, I'm in training for a marathon so my weekends now start with a run. Now things have been stressful at work and I've been on a bit of an unhealthy eating kick.  I am not exxagerating when I say I have eaten McDonalds for every meal.  On the training plan: 8 miles.  UGH.  Wow, McDonald's does NOT do a body good.  I got through it...but barely. But I am thankful for running buddies, understanding husbands and mostly that my body, despite being fueled by complete crap, does what I ask of it.
  20. Day 20: My Sundays are usually super lazy.  Well today, Joe and I decided to completely re-organize our closet. Our bedroom looked like it threw up. BUT...I finally got all my laundry put away, switched out summer with winter clothes and feel really productive. I feel like I am always doing laundry and putting it away, but really I am very fortunate enough to have enough clothing to even have a summer and winter stash. I may not make a ton of money, and gosh knows I do not save enough, but I have enough to get by and my basic needs are always taken care of.  I am thankful for the laundry because it means I have clothing.
  21. Day 21: Today is my friend Mandy's birthday.  We have been friends for over 20 years, meeting when I was in high school and working at Ann's Hallmark. It seemed that no matter what happened, the other knew exactly what to say to make it better.  As we grew up, we stayed in touch, writing letters through college then talking on the way to our jobs after graduation. We both got married, she moved to Boston and then DC but email was now a way of life and we had long conversations throughout the work days. She has since had two children and is a stay at home mom so our lives, once so mirrored, are completely different with not a lot of common interests. We still email and share book recommendations but we are not as close as we once were.  I know that this is natural in friendships, but with Mandy, I am not worried.  I know things might be different now, but I also know she'd be there if I needed her and eventually, our lives will converge on common ground again. So today, I am thankful for old friends that share a lifetime of memories and look forward to seeing how our friendship continues to evolve.
  22. Day 22: This morning I finally made it back to the gym.  Cindy is amazingly awesome and has basically taken on the job as my own private, personal trainer. We worked on arms, abs and back.  Then I went to Walmart and bought all the food that we need for Thanksgiving and also got some really super cute holiday stuff to wear.  Cindy, Doreen and I are doing a 5K Jingle Jog so we are all going to dress up. I got to work feeling healthy and accomplished and in love with my friends.  I have so very much to be thankful for, but today I am thankful for productivity and happiness.
  23. Day 23: Tomorrow is the release of the Muppet movie. I am a muppet fan and many of the movies, shows and characters play major parts in my life. But I really didn't realize how much so until I started talking with other people about the muppets and was very surprised when others in my age group were not excited about the movie. What else is better than sitting with a group of people and identifying who is what muppet?  (Unanimously, I'm Kermit) Then I found Muppet Radio. There are interviews with muppets, snippets of comedy bits and song after song. I laughed and I cried and that was just on the way home from work.  So this may seem ridiculous, but today I am thankful for Jim Henson, who shared such sweetness and innocence and joy. From one Kermit to another, thanks for sharing your vision with the lovers and the dreamers.
  24. Day 24: Thanksgiving is by far my most favorite Holiday.  It's all the family and friends without the guilt or commercialism of Christmas.  This year Joe's mom and brother came to our house for dinner. It has been exactly a month since Joe's dad died and it still seems like he is just in another room.  I was happy they came down and we made the traditional dinner.  Joe invited his best friend Anthony and I invited my friend Molly. It was an eclectic crowd, but those are the best times.  Before we knew it, conversation had taken a slightly dirty turn and we were all laughing with tears in our eyes. So today I am thankful for a lot: my husband, my family, new friends, good food, but mostly, laughter.
  25. Day 25: Today I am thankful for long hugs and set a new goal: to never be the one who breaks off a hug first. It's been 5 years since I've seen Joe's Aunt AnnaLee and cousins. We went over today and I just loved it. I don't know if it is because AnnaLee is from York, PA (where my family is from) or it is just her, but she is the one person in his family that I instantly felt a connection to. I've loved every time we see her, which isn't that often even though she lives in Charlotte. It was neat to see his cousins too...all of which have always been so very nice to me. They all have kids who are now in college and high school and are amazingly smart and interesting. It was just a neat visit, catching up with each of them and getting to know them a little more than "Joe's younger second cousins." When we were leaving AnnaLee and I hugged each other...a long hug that just made my heart smile. Long hugs are the best and it was the highlight of the trip.  So I am thankful for long hugs and vow to never be the one who stops hugging first.
  26. Day 26: I've mentioned Cindy and Doreen a bunch, in this thanks blog and also in several other entries. I truly believe that my guardian angel brought us together because we needed it. Today I was reminded of how lucky I am to have them in my life, for a number of reasons.  We met for a 6 mile run as part of my scheduled training. I don't think any of us wanted to...but we all got started.  Cindy wasn't feeling it so Doreen and I ran ahead, knowing that Cindy (who is the turtle with us being the stupid ahres) would catch up in no time once we burned out. Doreen lost her mom a little more than a year ago, so she has been a good person to talk to about Joe losing his dad. I was telling her about a dream I had last night. It was so vivid, so real, it has really affected me. It was simple too. Joe, his brother and my were sitting around a table.  His dad was there and he simply put his hands on the boys arms and said "It's OK". We all started crying. I woke up. I asked Joe if by any chance he had the same dream; it felt that real.  So I told Doreen about it and we shared some common beliefs we had. It was great to be able to talk about that with someone who understood and feels the same way. We met up with Cindy and were talking about running and that none of us had wanted to do it but we did.  Then Doreen told me that they were in it for me; unless I cancelled, they were going to suck it up and show up for me. I got teary eyed. Seriously, training for a marathon is a huge time commitment and here they are volunteering the time and they are not even doing the race!  They are giving up their time and pushing themselves completely just for me. I was so touched I can't even really express how wonderful that felt to hear. It's very random how the three of us came to be running partners, but I am so very lucky we did. They have changed what I think I can do.  It's really great and I am very, very fortunate to have them in my life.
  27. Day 27: I have been a pretty consistent blood donator all my life and about two years ago finally got Joe to come with me.  Now we do it every 56 days and we compete about who bleeds the fastest. We know the names of the people at the Red Cross and they know us. It's fun. So today I am thankful that I am able to give blood. I know that someone that needs it will get it and I am glad something so easy for me can make a huge difference for someone else.
  28. Day 28:  Joe and I have chosen not to have children.  This was a decision that I agonized over for a couple of years. I knew that not having a child was what I felt was the right way to go for us; I even donated eggs when I was younger because I felt selfish sitting on this "gift"-the ability to have a child.  So even though my gut said no, I was worried about missing out on something or always regretting it when I was older. I talked with people who had kids and asked them how they knew they wanted them.  Several people said it was because all their other friends were having them.  Others said they just always knew that they did. Another said there was actual, physical pain when they saw women with babies.  I never had any of that.  But I had always been the girl who does exactly what is expected....school, college, job, etc, following along with societal norms.  A woman who chooses not to have a baby is not normal. So after years of discussion, debate, visits with doctors and an online community of child free adults, I finally felt at peace with my decision. I am not going to be a mother.  A few years later Sandy and I started working together and she told me about her efforts to become pregnant.  I was familiar with IVF after my egg donations so volunteered to help.  This evolved into me being her birth partner and being in the room when Miller was born. Over the last 5 years, my relationship with Miller has grown and I am so lucky that Sandy has allowed me to be part of his life. He's got a room at my house; I have a car seat.  I've taken him to soccer practice, games, birthday parties and he's spent the last 3 of my birthdays with my family and me. He's an absolutely adorable, fantastic, kid.  He's also had meltdowns, we've left the house without shoes or a toy for show and tell, we've had a balloon pop that turned into an all night cry fest, whined until I winced and had several nights of wet beds, bad dreams and tears.  We've snuggled all day when he wasn't feeling well, we've read book after book and we've played tickle monster til I lost my voice.  People tell me Sandy is lucky to have me, but it's me that is the lucky one.  She has allowed me to share in the most intimate details of her life and to visit the ups and downs of motherhood every once and a while.  She has allowed me to experience the love of a child and for that I am eternally, forever thankful.
  29. Day 29: I am so very lucky to have a close relationship with my mom.  I am even luckier that my mom happens to be an absolutely amazing woman who is smart and funny and always knows what I need to hear...even if I don't want to hear it.  She's out of town right now and I really wish she wasn't because right now I really want to talk to her.  So today I am especially missing and thankful for my mom.

October Music

Teardrop by The Collective
When I was Younger by Rizzle Kicks
Cemetery by Charlie Simpson
Metronomy by The Look
New York City Moves to the Sound of LA by Funeral Party
Midnight City by M83 (every time this song comes on I look up to see who it is.  I really like)
Don't Stop by Foster the People
Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men (from Iceland...who knew?  Folky, but I love her voice)