Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shoes Required

My tri team had a practice triathlon scheduled for last Saturday morning. We were going to go through all of the motions, including transitions. The coach opted to have us meet at a lake just south of town instead of the lake we did our open water swims at last year. The traffic near that park has steadily increased over the last couple years, making it not as safe once we head out on the bikes...such a shame. :(

We would have to leave the house around 7 am so I had all of my gear (minus the bike) laid out the night before. Triathlons definitely need a lot more gear compared to the marathon.

I have a bag that is always at the ready just for my bike crap....
Cycle Shoes
And then I toss in my Shot Blocs, sunglasses and cell phone

Then I had my swim/run bag...
Swim cap
2 pairs of goggles (One clear pair, one tinted pair)
Socks (for both cycle and run)
An extra pair of running shorts (you never know)
Fuel Belt and 2 bottles of water for the run

I also have a bag that has my wetsuit. All of the bags were hanging from the back of a kitchen chair. My running shoes were by the door and the bikes were in the shed. All of that (including The Pilot's cycle gear as he was coming along) needed to go into the car in the morning. You can probably figure out where this is going.

We left the house right on schedule and headed towards the lake. About 1/2 way there a image flashed in my brain. The wet suit hanging from the kitchen chair. I glanced in my rear view mirror. No wet suit bag. I told The Pilot to look in the back. Definitely no wet suit. Dang it! That water was going to be freezing! It was also overcast and only about 65 degrees at 7:30 am. Oh well. There wasn't enough time to go back for the wetsuit. I'd either have to suck it up and be cold...or just not swim (ugh).

We kept driving. I swear, I'm starting sound like a crazy person....but I had another image flash in my mind. My $@#% running shoes were still sitting by the front door. I felt like I was rolling with the punches when I realized the wet suit was still at home but when I realized that my running shoes weren't in the car, I was just frustrated.

I'm known for being extremely prepared for events. Didn't get safety pins with your race packet to pin your race bib to your shirt? Amber's got extra! Need toenail clippers the night before a race? Amber's got 'em? Need pink duct tape and a Sharpie? Ask Amber. Need a bike tool to fix that pedal? Yup, Amber's got it in her bag. Need some sunshine blown up your backside at mile 16 of a marathon? Amber's usually got it for ya!

So as a strong, organized type-A, forgetting stuff drives me nuts! It made me realize that with one month until the wedding and things starting to pick up at work on top of training and coaching with TNT, I just can't keep it all straight right now. I have lists within lists but there are just so many details floating around in my head, I'm starting to drop things. Ugh.

But moving on...we approached the lake and I tried to let it go. I would just do a swim/bike brick workout and try to get in a bike to run brick later in the weekend. Our coach was running a few minutes late so the others started to get their wet suits on while The Pilot and I walked down to the beach to test out the water. Yup...it was cold. A teammate mentioned that the news reported the lake water to be 75. That doesn't sound that cold but it sure felt cold! Our coach arrived and he mentioned he had forgotten his wet suit as well. Two of us that have done this before and we are the two that show up unprepared. Classic.

We headed to the beach and the coach mentioned he was going to have the team do 2 starts (run into the water as a group twice, as if it was a race) but because he didn't have a wet suit, he was only going to run in once and suggested I might want to do the same. Once in the water, you would NOT want to get back out, especially since at the time, the air temp was colder than the water temp.

I waited on the beach until the team ran in for the second time. This was my first open water swim since the race last July...not ideal. After a not-so-graceful entry (I cannot seem to figure out the dolphin kicks as you transition from running into the water and then getting out to water deep enough to get a full arm stoke), the open water swim didn't go too bad. I'm the slowest swimmer on the team and not having a wet suit just slowed me down even more. Despite my lack of speed, I was able to get my breathing under control and once my heart rate settled down after the run into the water, it started to feel like I can just keep swimming for a really long time. I sometimes struggle to find my focus and get distracted by waves, boats, other swimmers, shiny objects but once I get in a zone, I just keep going. Again, I think this ability to zone out and keep going is why I am built for slow, long distances....or something like that.

There we go....and that's our coach in the orange swim cap....stopping to make sure I'm still afloat. :) Sloooooow and steady.

Sometimes it gets under my skin that I'm slow and I do wish that I could just miraculously speed up and keep up with the group. But after years of coaching and racing, I know that everyone is built for different paces. You can certainty improve your pace but that takes a lot of long, hard work and sometimes, you really do reach your peak performance...and you aren't going to get much faster. I think I am almost at that point with my race walking but I still have a LOT of room for improvement in the triathlon disciplines.

Oh, shiny....back to the lake. After about 3/4 of a mile in the open water, we headed out of the water and up to the cars to get our bikes. Holy shivering! It was so cold when I got out of the water. I tried to dry off quickly and keep moving around but it was still really chilly! I was wearing tri clothes (designed to go from the water to the bike and to the run) so I didn't bring anything else to change into for the bike. I did have a cotton t-shirt with me that I opted to put on over my tri top because now I was wet and about to get on the bike and would be creating a breeze on top of the light wind that was going on.

The coach had warned us that there were hills out on the bike course. As much as I hate hills, I knew that I needed the practice because the race course is really hilly. I was pretty tired from the swim but I was ready to tackle the hills.... Until I got to the first hill. I didn't change my gears quickly enough and I got stuck in too hard of a gear. I had too much weight on my chain and I just couldn't keep pedaling. I had to get off the bike and push it up the hill. That's the first time I've ever had to do that. :( I really think this set the tone for the rest of the ~17 mile ride. It was such a frustrating ride that I don't even want to re-live it on here. I'll just say that tears, hyperventilating, choice words with The Pilot and another walk up a hill were all involved. At least it was a quiet, wide open course. Even though there isn't much to look at, sometimes its kind of nice to be out in the WIIIIIIDE open, especially when you live in the suburbs.

The best part of the ride was the last 1/4 mile....my teammates were all well ahead of me (naturally) and were out on their run. They were running up on the dam, which was overhead, just to my right as I headed back into the parking lot. Several of them cheered for me and after a crappy ride, that was just what I needed to hear. If I haven't said it enough on this blog, I LOVE TEAM IN TRAINING!! When it gets really hard, your teammates are right there with you....even if you are the last one in.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Biking in heels: A do or don't?

While I sort of understand it's probably easier than walking, it's still silly and unsafe in my opinion.

Stay Classy, San Diego - Part 2

I promised a recap of the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll Marathon from June 5 but I came home with a cold, a nasty sunburn and then the poison ivy outbreak. It's been a ROUGH couple of weeks but I finally had a chance to upload all of the pictures from race weekend.

Our team arrived in San Diego on Friday, June 4 and we went to dinner at the Fish Market, right on the bay. I'm not a fan of seafood but it was good and it was nice to relax with the team after a really long flight.

On Saturday morning, our TNT staffer, Nick, and I headed to a staff and coaches meeting. I am always amazed at how many of us there are! TNT brought over 3,100 participants, 150 coaches and 100 staffers. We painted San Diego PURPLE!

After the meeting, we hit up the expo and then I met some of the team for a boat ride around the bay. It was the perfect day! The weather was beautiful and the boat ride was a lot of fun. These travel events with TNT are such a whirlwind and it's hard to do any sightseeing. Especially since you don't want to be on your feet too much the day before a race. The board ride was perfect because we could just sit on the top deck while the tour guide pointed out the landmarks.
Sea lions sunning themselves.

I didn't realize that San Diego was a naval town.
Here's a brand new ship that was being moved around by tugs.

Naval hospital ship...it's a fully functioning hospital...on a boat.
Only downside to the boat ride was that there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Despite the sunscreen, I burned my face to a crisp! I am the sunscreen Nazi so I find it very embarrassing when I get a sunburn. :(

Later on Saturday afternoon was our Inspirational Pasta Party. I LOVE TNT pasta parties! The staff and coaches form a "red carpet" to welcome all of the participants and their loved ones. There were so many participants that they had to have 2 parties. Luckily we were in the first seating so that we could get back to the hotel to get ready for the race.

During the party we honor the team heroes, cancer patients and survivors. Our team hero is Parker. He's 10 years old and recently celebrated 5 years in remission. For those that have been touched by cancer, you know that 5 years is the magic number. You are considered "cured," so this is a big year for Parker and his family. To celebrate this special milestone, Parker's mom, Ann and her sister, Mary, decided to do FIVE endurance events this year. They did the Cap City 1/2 marathon with TNT back in May and San Diego was race #2 for them. They are also planning to do the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco this October with TNT. The other two events are cycle events for other charities doing great things in our community, Bike MS and Pelotonia.

Ann said it best when she told our team that cancer doesn't attack just the patient. It goes after the entire family. This is a strong family that pulled together to tackle Parker's cancer. Parker is our official hero but the rest of his family, including little brother, Mile (our "side-hero") are all heroes in my opinion! Especially since at the end of their 5 for 5 year, they will have raised over $65,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! Click on any of the links above to donate to their events.

Our hero, Parker, super-mama, Ann and the side-hero, Miles.
Our team met in the hotel lobby at 4 am to take a team photo and to head to the starting line. Everyone seemed to be really excited, even a little relaxed! We had several alumni on the team so this wasn't their first show. I still felt like a parent sending a kid off to kindergarten though...especially as I watched them board the bus, with their names taped to the front of their shirts. :)

As a TNT coach, we are assigned zones to make sure that the coaches are evenly distributed on the race course. With 150 coaches but 3100 participants, we want to make sure no one is left behind. I was assigned to the full marathon course, miles 14-17. That meant that I couldn't take the bus with my team to the start line. Shhh....don't tell my team this but I actually went back up to my hotel room and laid down for about an hour. Then, armed with a map in a strange city, I made my way to a trolley station. I knew I was in the right place when I found a group of probably 30 coaches standing on the street corner, wearing wings, capes, lights and other assorted costumes. I love it! I was bummed because I forgot my light-up stars. I have worn these for every event that I've coached since 2007! They have survived A LOT of miles but also the rain from the 2010 Cap City 1/2 and 2010 Nike Women's Marathon.

After a trolley ride, I found my assigned zone on the course. I lucked out that I could actually see both the half and full marathoners. Mile 10 of the 1/2 course is also about mile 14 of the full marathon course. It turns out that our 1/2 marathoners though were walking and the full marathoners were running. Since I was assigned to the full course, that meant that I was supposed to stay with that group. I never did see my 1/2 marathoners because the full runners got to mile 14 before the 1/2 marathoners got to mile 10. I knew the 1/2 marathoners would be in good hands with the other coaches though.

I spent a couple hours at mile 14. That time was spent crashing a nearby Carl Jr. restaurant with a coach from Canada to use their restroom and cheering for the marathoners but cheering extra loud for the TNT peeps. There isn't much to do other than that for the first pack of runners. Those people are running so darn fast that they don't really want people jumping out at them and running alongside. Plus, I can't keep up with those people anyways. Once the pace starts to slow though and you can start to see pain on faces, that's when TNT coaches tend to spring into action. Even if it's for only a few feet, we reinforce why they are out there and encourage them to keep moving.

My first marathoner to get to mile 14 was Jim, aka The Silver Fox. He happens to be a run coach with our chapter. He's been with TNT since 1875 and just now took two seasons off from his coaching duties to enjoy his real life retirement. He couldn't stay away though and signed up to do the Country Music Marathon back in April and San Diego since he wasn't coaching (we can't race if we are coaching). He hasn't really been around since 1875 but he's been involved with TNT for about 19 years....17 of those years have been spent coaching. San Diego was marathon #93 for him so I wasn't too worried about him. When I did see him though, he stopped to walk with me and said he was just going to enjoy the rest of the race and take his time. When he says something like that, you never know what's going to happen. His race antics have included stopping at a White Castle, playing a hole of golf and having a beer all while on the course. Jim is a legend around Central Ohio. :)

Once I saw sisters, Ann and Mary, I jumped out and ran with them until almost mile 17. Yeay for runners that I can actually run with! :) The sun was so intense by this point. The breeze made the temperatures feel ok but my fair skin and the sunburn from the day before was angry. There is a long out and back on the course between 16 and 18 so I sent the sisters on their way while I waited under a bridge (shade!) for one of our other marathoners.

Ingrid! I met my other marathoner around mile 16. Bless her heart! By the time she got to me, she was walking and had her knee wrapped up....but she also had a smile on her face. Her knee was not having it but she smiled her way to through that race! I walked with her for awhile and then cut the course to meet her again around mile 18 to take her in to the finish. The last couple miles of that course are pretty rough (on concrete instead of blacktop and no shade). The last 2 miles are DESOLATE as it circles around Fiesta Island but Ingrid kept the team spirit and despite her gimpy knee, she just kept smiling and I crossed the finish line with her.

And because TNT is awesome and Central Ohio had an amazing team, almost the entire team was waiting at the finish line to cheer us in. Even after finishing their own races, they stuck it out and waited. Love it! We shared our war stories before heading back to the hotel to wash the stink off. The entire team finished and they were all happy! Happy participants = happy coach!

It was about a 8 hour day for me out on the course and I estimate that I covered about 18 miles. That was the furthest I have been since the Goofy Challenge back in January. The good news is that the tri training must be keeping me in distance shape because I wasn't sore at all after the race. Even during the height of marathon/Goofy training, 18 miles would have made me sore, even if I walked the entire distance, but I felt great!

Let me rephrase...my legs felt great. Eight hours in the sun with only one application of sunscreen is not enough. I burned in the "high sweat" locations...backs of the knees, inside of the elbows and along my shirt collar (minus the void where my ponytail was hanging). Ouch. That wasn't pleasant.

After cleaning up and resting, we headed to the TNT Victory Party to refuel and relax. It was a perfect evening so we ended up sitting out on a patio, having a few drinks and enjoying each others' company.

We had a later flight home on Monday but it wasn't quite enough time to do any sightseeing so I took advantage of the room service and the fact that I DIDN'T have a laptop and just laid in bed most of the morning...until a trip to the drug store was required. I ended up being so sunburned that I started to feel sick. I walked to a nearby drug store for some aloe (the heavy duty kind with lidocaine) and ibuprofen. Yuck. I did enjoy having a quiet morning to myself though. Despite being exhausted from the race and the sunburn, I felt like I got a chance to recharge my batteries. Sometimes you need to unplug in order to do that though!

It was a great trip! I once again got to be apart of a wonderful experience as a TNT coach...part of a team that raised over NINE MILLION DOLLARS for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I get chills just typing that! That's nine million reasons why Parker is still here with us today. But we haven't found a cure yet. So we will keep racing and keep raising money until we find it because you never know, that next dollar and that next mile might be the one that finds the cure.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crazy Beagle!

I met up with my tri team last Saturday for a 90 minute ride. I was looking forward to it but was a little anxious because this was the same ride that we did last year and it was a miracle that I didn't have to push my bike up some of the hills. While I was anxious, I knew I really needed the hills in preparation for the tri. The bike portion has some crazy hills. No pain, no gain, right?

It went as expected. I was dropped by my teammates on the first hill while my lungs and heart did their best to actually hop out of my chest. It's kind of insulting that just to get out of the metro park that we met at, you have to climb a hill that's nearly a mile long...and the first .5 mile feels like it's straight up. I caught my breath pretty easily once it started to level out a bit but by then, the team had spread out but most of them were still within eye sight. That's usually my goal...even though I'm in the back, it's always good to know that you can still see the people you are training with. It's all mental.

I did catch up with one teammate as we had to stop to check our maps to make sure we made the right turn. But then right after that stop, we had to climb the biggest hill of the day. I was SO close to falling over again. I really wanted to stop and walk up the hill. I reminded myself that I was able to get up that hill last year without walking and I could do it again. Last year, I know that I was in my granny gear but in my recent efforts to stay in a harder gear, I avoided the granny gear and slowly made it up to the top. No joke, I was going 4 mph at one point. And then it took me forever to catch my breath. That was annoying to me for some reason.

By that point, my entire team was long gone. Luckily I had remembered the next street that I was looking for and was able to make the correct turn without stopping to check my map. I cruised along and enjoyed the lack of scenery. We were way out in the country and it was soooo quiet. It was really nice. lately I've had this really strong urge to completely unplug and just sit in silence. The ride is as close as I'm going to get to quiet time until after the wedding.

Nothing but power lines and the corn seedlings out here.
I was also thinking to myself that despite how hard the hills are, I should really come back out here before the race because these hills are the closest to my house that actually resemble the hills I'm going to face during the race.

We were only supposed to ride 45 minutes and then turn back. Knowing it took me forever to climb those hills, I figured it wouldn't take me as long to get back so I rode for about 48 minutes before turning back. Then it all went to hell. The quiet was short lived.

Just as I turned around, I noticed a dog running through a yard on my left. My brain acknowledged the dog but since I'm not afraid of dogs, I didn't become alarmed. From afar, it looked like a medium-size beagle. Not exactly the ferocious type. Even as I saw the dog running full force towards the road, I didn't become alarmed. But then all of the sudden, I realized that even if that dog had an electric fence, it was not stopping. As soon as that crazy beagle's paws hit the pavement, I knew he was coming for me. I yelled "STOP!" (I'm a cat person, what the heck was I supposed to yell?). Crazy beagle didn't like this one bit. It kept running right at the side of my bike, showed it's teeth and growled! I'm not sure if the dog actually grazed my pedal or if I just bobbled a little but I quickly straightened out and started pedaling like I was on fire.

In my brain, this is what I saw:
I was really hoping that I wasn't overreacting in the surprise of the moment and
that the dog didn't actually look like this:

That dog must be experienced at chasing bikes because it quickly realized that it wasn't getting enough traction on the pavement and went behind me and around to my right side and started chasing along side me from the dirt berm! Part of me wanted to turn around in the middle of the road and go up to the house where he came from but I sensed that if he made contact and knocked me off my bike, he would bite me for sure. Damn it! I'm getting married in a month, I'm not going to let a crazy beagle maul me! I kept pedaling as hard as I possibly could but that darn dog kept after me! I honestly couldn't believe it. After about a quarter of a mile, I could still see him off my right shoulder so I yelled at it again...this time I screeched out a "NO!" and finally, it started to drop off. I think he just couldn't maintain the pace anymore because he was still running towards me but eventually, I couldn't see him in my peripheral vision anymore. I glanced back and saw that he had started walking home. I was so angry that I still wanted to turn around and give his owners a piece of my mind but I didn't want to go anywhere near that dog again.

What happened next came as a bit of a surprise. I had a panic attack. This is something that has challenged me over the past 10 years or so but I've mellowed a lot over the past two years so that is why I was taken by surprise. As soon as my brain realized it was out of danger and the adrenaline started to wear off, the panic attack started. It's as if a switch is flipped and I couldn't seem to reason with myself. I started to cry and hyperventilate (I was still riding my bike also). It seemed so stupid! I was safe and I didn't get bit by the crazy beagle, but after lack of sleep (I was still recovering from the poison ivy), I just couldn't get it together.

Right before the ride started, my coach joked that I needed to live in a bubble from now until the wedding because of my bad luck (mostly referring to the poison ivy but also my general clumsiness probably). I told him that I promised my mom and my future mother-in-law that I wouldn't do anything crazy before the wedding and that riding my bike was probably the most dangerous activity I'd be involved in before the wedding. I figured falling off my bike and scuffing up my knees would be more likely than being chased by a crazy beagle. Ugh. Sorry Mom and Beth....

Anyways, I argued with myself for about a mile or two. Part of me wanted to stop and sit in the ditch to wait for my teammates to come by and comfort me and another, more reasonable, part of my brain told me to suck it up, stop crying and keep riding. I'm glad the reasonable voice on my shoulder won that internal battle. I got it together in just enough time to enjoy going DOWN that monster hill that I climbed on the way out. Flying down a hill and getting up to 30 mph on a bike is just as fun as a roller coaster!

I rolled up to my car in exactly 90 minutes. 18.5 miles for the day. I find my 12 mph average pace for that ride downright comical. Despite the downhills and getting up to 20 mph as I tried to out run a crazy beagle, my average pace was STILL at 12 mph. Damn those UPHILLS!

I NEVER make it back to my car before the rest of the team but I was was the first one back. I was still so shaken up that I didn't wait around for my teammates (I later found out that some went longer...and some made a wrong turn). I wanted to get the heck out of there and forget the whole morning ever happened!

And for the record, if you search for beagle images, some incredible cuteness comes up in the results....too bad this little guy wasn't chasing me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Are you OK? Are you OK? Someone go get help!

As a Team in Training coach, it is required that I am CPR certified. I'm pretty sure I would still take the course even if it wasn't required, especially after hearing some of the statistics. Your chances of surviving cardiac arrest, even if 911 response times in your area are top notch, are slim to none if there isn't someone doing CPR on you while you wait for EMS to get there. Only about 5% of the population knows CPR and less than 1/2 of those people are actually willing to perform CPR on someone if needed. That's pretty grim. I encourage EVERYONE to get certified. At the very least, check out this website to learn enough to potentially keep someone alive long enough for 911 to arrive. Stepping off my soap box now.

Anyways, my CPR certification was about to expire and I heard that there were new guidelines so some TNT buddies and I headed to class last night. We were re-certified in infant, child and adult CPR, abdominal thrusts (AKA the Heimlich maneuver) and how to use a AED.

We had to each grab a "face" to use for the evening because two people had to share one of the CPR training dummies. You used your own "face" for the evening so you wouldn't have to keep disinfecting the thing after each practice. There were entire bins filled with these things...it was a little creepy.

I swear that we were taking the course seriously and I feel confident that I could and would perform CPR if needed....but we couldn't help but get a little inappropriate with the infant dummies.

She takes after her father...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Uphill, in the snow, without any shoes

This has been one of the most miserable weeks I've EVER had. And I had A LOT of miserable weeks several years ago. I blogged about my poison ivy a couple days ago and I'm STILL dealing with it. It just wouldn't go away despite a trip to the doctor, a shot and a prescription. Other than the uncontrollable itching, the lack of sleep is what broke me down. As in, I sat in bed sobbing the other night because I couldn't sleep for the 5th night in a row.

I had tried several over the counter remedies in addition to the shot but nothing was working. Finally, the doctor called in a steroid dose pack to the pharmacy and the suggested an oatmeal bath and 2 Benadryl before I went to bed. Finally! On Thursday night and last night, I was able to sleep through the night. No tears. :)

That Mud Run ended up costing a whole lot more than the entry fee.
  • Entry fee $65
  • Doctor co-pay $30
  • Useless prescription $9
  • Calamine $6
  • Domeboro $12
  • Cortisone Cream $3
  • Aveeno Bath $9
  • Benadryl $5
  • Prescription steroid $15
  • Laffy Taffy to easy my suffering $1
That's $150! Not counting the gas to drive to the doctor's office, to the pharmacy multiple times, and having to use up a personal day at work for all this drama. Ugh.

I finally made it back to a team practice, a bike ride this morning, and was talking to one of my teammates that did the Mud Run. I was telling him about the past week and I told him that I was really regretting doing the Mud Run because I have been so miserable. I told him that I didn't think it was worth it even though we had a blast. He pointed out that it was a great experience and now I have a gnarly story to tell about it. Kind of like my own version of "I had to walk uphill, both directions to school, in the snow, without any shoes."

Still, even though my Mud Run experience was pretty epic, I'm not sure that I'd do it again unless I could be guaranteed there wouldn't be any poison ivy along the way.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

$5 an Hour

Remember when I was whining about The Pilot's crappy schedule and his $13/hour day? Yeah, well I jinxed his day completely by 1) blogging about it and 2) buying him a burrito for lunch because he was supposed to be home by 1 pm that day.

The day went horribly awry from there. After several delays (and several hours sitting in the airport, on duty), his flight home was canceled due to a mechanical problem with his plane. It happens. But that meant that he didn't have a plane to fly home. So his company scheduled him to deadhead on a later flight. That flight kept getting delayed which meant more time sitting in the airport, on duty but not getting paid. When I say on duty, that means he has to be at the airport and ready to fly but he's not getting paid for that time. In my own words , that means he has to be in uniform and sober. :) Anyways...he deadheaded home. When deadheading he is only paid 75% of his normal flight pay because he's not actually doing anything associated with operating the plane. He was sitting in the back next to some random passenger who smelled bad and may or may not have been picking his nose.

He didn't get home until after 9 pm, having left home sixteen hours earlier. So instead of having his burrito for lunch or dinner, he had a late night snack. When we were doing the math based on the amount of time he was on duty and the time he actually got paid, he made about $5 per hour for the 14.5 hours he spent on duty. Let me point out that those $5 are BEFORE taxes. When he told me this, I think there was smoke coming out of my ears. I just don't understand how his airline can do that. In my opinion, that just doesn't seem ethical.

Hot, Itchy Mess

The other day I mentioned that a "medical situation" came up that prevented me from meeting my tri team from a practice triathlon. No, I am not prego. That thought never crossed my mind until The Pilot mentioned that is probably what people were thinking when I referenced the medical situation. Ack. That is definitely not the situation....I was referring to poison ivy. Remember how much fun I had sliding down steep ravines on my a$$ during the Mud Run TWO weeks ago? Not so fun now. Apparently it can really take up to two weeks for the symptoms to appear.

If you get grossed out easily, you may want to turn back now.

I noticed what I thought was a bug bite on Thursday. Then on Friday morning, that bug bite itched like no other bug bite in the history of the world. By Friday night, I was on the phone with my mom and wanting to claw my legs off. My mother, the nurse, has had many run-ins with poison ivy herself and with my older brother. I was the clean, weenie kid that never wandered around in the bushes so I have never had it before. So my wonderful mother diagnosed me over the phone. It was poison ivy for reals. Damn! The only time in my whole life that I've wandered around in the bushes was two weeks ago at the Mud Run.

By Saturday morning, it was all over my feet, legs and a$$. :( I barely slept because it itched so bad! I knew that I would be miserable if I went to the practice tri and tried to hike up that wetsuit over my legs. Instead I laid in bed and tried my hardest to not scratch as I waited for the doctor's office to open. When they did answer the phone, they told me to try Calamine lotion and if that didn't help or if it got worse, to schedule an appointment on Monday.

The Pilot ended up having to call off his most recent trip because he now has the nasty cold that I had last week. So after two more near sleepless nights for me, The Pilot called the doctor's office on Monday to schedule his and hers appointments with the nurse practitioner. The nurses joked that we were really taking that in sickness and in health vow seriously before we even make it official.

Anyways, they gave me a shot in the hip and sent me home with one prescription to fill immediately and another to fill in case it doesn't get better or goes away and comes back (what??!!) by the end of the week. A few people told me that the shot seemed to clear it up really quickly. I was hoping for instantaneously but no such luck. I slept horrible again last night so I feel like a zombie and I'm doing my darnedest to not scratch the itches....or itch the scratches. If the government needs a new way to torture people, then they should roll them around in poison ivy and then tie their arms down so they can't scratch.

So it's been over 24 hours since the cortisone shot and no relief yet. Ugh. If you see me, please don't judge if you notice me trying to scratch my backside on a street sign. And for the record, I've been told by a medical professional that I can't spread it to someone else....unless you happen to share the same street sign.

Internet research says to discard or wash thoroughly in bleach any clothing that came into contact with the poison ivy. The only thing I kept after the Mud Run were the tank top, capris and the tutu. I'll be washing the clothes again but I'm not sure what to do about the tutu. I should probably burn it but that thing wasn't cheap...and it makes for some great conversation starters during races....

So we are a hot, itchy mess at our house. The Pilot already caught my cold and I think he's a little leery of even looking in my direction for fear I'll give him my poison ivy. He might call off the wedding if that does happen. And speaking of the wedding...I promise my mother and my future mother-in-law, on all that is Holy that I will NOT do anything else fun, crazy stupid before the wedding.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Back in the Saddle and Suicidal Wildlife

The weather and my schedule has really put a hurt on my bike riding time. The rides I have done have been decent but I know that I just need more time on the bike before this triathlon. Luckily I'm only doing the sprint distance so it is a 22k ride (almost 14 miles).

I was supposed to do a practice triathlon yesterday but I had a....medical situation...come up (more on that later, aren't you excited?!) so The Pilot and I headed out for a bike ride later in the morning. He got clipless pedals/shoes so it was his first ride with them and he did great! He didn't fall...yet. :) I told him it was just a matter of time.

He was so comfortable in fact that he decided to take a photo of my a$$. Not sure why it looks like I'm about to ride through the grass...

We got in 15 miles in a decent time (finally no wind!) so I was happy.

This morning I met up with my friend Holly. We both live within a couple miles of a bike trail so we both rode to the trail head to meet. Before I got to the trail head though, I encountered some suicidal wildlife. First, it was a flock of Canadian geese. These birds are everywhere around here! The babies have hatched and are learning to fly...and make a mess just like their parents. They are mean, dumb animals. And I love animals but these things are just dumb. They nest is weird places, they hiss if you get too close and will chase you! So I'm on a path and there are at least a dozen crossing in front of me. I wasn't sure what to do. I can barely whistle so I did my best to make some noise so they would at least look up. Luckily they moved just enough to maneuver past them. They weren't happy about it but crisis was averted.

Then, right before I got to the trail head, a bunny ran out in front of me. I swerved, the bunny probably crapped itself and we narrowly missed a collision. When I made it to the trail head and was telling Holly about the bunny, a runner who had witnessed the near bunny collision caught up to us and he told me that he was sure I was going to crash and was worried for me. How nice! At least someone was nearby in case the bunny met my tire and I ended up a$$ over tea kettle.

Stop! I is a cute little bunny wabbit. Please don't run me over.
It was pretty uneventful from there and Holly and I just enjoyed our ride. We haven't had a chance to hang out lately so it was great to catch up with her. And chatting with someone while you ride makes the miles go by so much faster! Before I knew it, I was back home an my bike computer showed 23 miles. Not bad! It was pretty slow on the way out (boo for the headwind!) but the way back was easy and fast (yeay for tailwind!). When I say fast, that is a relative term. I was only averaging 16 mph on my way home but that's good for me.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Myth: Pilots All Make A Lot of Money

I honestly didn't ever really think about the pilots when I was traveling before last year. I never gave it much thought if they were making much money or being treated well by their employers. As long as my flight was smooth and on time (ha!), I was happy. So naive!

I'll be the wife of a regional pilot in 50 days and while I'm still somewhat naive to many things, I've learned a lot about the airline industry in the past year. Probably more than I want to know but I have so much respect for ALL airline employees now.

There is a common misconception that pilots all make a lot of money (I recently read an article that claimed that the AVERAGE salary of pilots is over 6-figures). It's true that some of the major airlines pay their senior captains pretty well and yes, some of those captains are making six-figures. They may also have the seniority so that they can pick their flights and some even come home every night.

Our household is not operating with a 6-figure income. The Pilot is a first officer at a regional airline. That means he's second in command for a "small" airline. Captains on regional airlines aren't making much either but I'm not sure what the pay difference is between CA and FO.

I follow another pilot wife's blog and she recently made a post about this same subject. She is very general but you get the picture. Check it out here.

And to explain it even more....The Pilot leaves soon on a one day trip. Leaving in the morning and returning in the afternoon on the same day. Which sounds great to me. I love when he comes home; except then he explained how crappy the schedule is for the day. His schedule has him on duty(in uniform and "working") seven hours. When he accounts for how his time will be spent during those seven hours doing paperwork, waiting in airports (pilots have the same layovers that the rest of us do), preparing the plane for flight, and actually flying the plane, he's going to make about $13 an hour(dividing the pay he'll make for flying the plane by the number of hours he's on duty). I've blogged about it before but pilots and flight attendants at his airline and many others only get paid when they are on the plane and the door is closed. When he's inspecting that plane to make sure it is safe to fly, he's NOT getting paid. When he's sitting in an airport waiting for his plane to arrive, he's NOT getting paid. When he's sitting on the airplane waiting for the passengers to find their seats and figure out where to shove their four carry-on bags, he's NOT getting paid. Now doesn't that sound like a glamorous lifestyle??

He could probably go work at the local hardware store and make $13 an hour. But he doesn't because he has a passion for flying. And that is what I admire about him. He makes a lot of sacrifices so that he can fly. There are some days it probably doesn't feel worth it to him. But if you see him after he's been home for 4-5 days, he's ready to get his head back in the clouds.

I won't lie, I often think about how we are going to make it work if we decide to have kids. Obviously lots of pilots have families and they have all found a way so I know it can be done. I wonder what effect it will have on him to be away from our family and on these hypothetical children to have a dad that isn't home every day. What I do know is that these hypothetical kids will see their dad in a career that he is passionate about. And that's a pretty good example to set, don't you think?

So The Pilot may never make six figures but he's seniority will improve, the trips will get better, the pay might even get better someday but we aren't holding our breath. He may even change his mind some day and decide he'd rather work at a hardware store. Either way, I've got his back. I wasn't looking for a sugar daddy anyways. ;) I was just looking for a nice guy that would laugh with me at traffic lights and to follow me around and take pictures while I race...in the mud...in a pink tutu.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stay Classy, San Diego - Part 1

I'm back from my 4 day technology break (It's AHHMAZING how nice it was to unplug!). I spent 4 days in San Diego with Team in Training and I came home burnt to a crisp, jet-lagged, and exhausted but proud of my team and more inspired than ever! Full report coming as soon as my eyes stop crossing every time I try to focus....sooooo sleeeeeepy.

You can almost hear my big white forehead sizzling as I enjoyed a boat ride around the bay...darn that misleading SPF 50!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Nom Nom Continued

So I was pretty pumped that after lunch today I had only consumed 730 calories for the day. Much better than my last swim day calorie count. It's 8:45 pm and I'm at 1532! Booya for not getting completely derailed by hunger on a swim day. It was a decent workout (1500 yards) even though my arms felt like I was learning to swim all over again. That Mud Run is still fresh in my muscle memory.

Anyhoodles....here's the food low down for today:

5:30 am
Light/whole grain English Muffin with Olivio spread (180)

7:30 am
Muscle Milk Light-Chocolate (100) - I've never had anything like this before and while it certainly wasn't a chocolate milk substitute, I was able to get it down without gagging.

8:30 am
Medium Orange (75)
Medium Apple (100)

12:30 pm
Select Harvest Light-Southwestern-Style Vegetable Soup (25) - This was gross. It advertises only 50 calories on the package but when you look at the label, there are 2 servings in the microwavable container. Stupid. Anyways, it was gross so I only ate about 1/4 of it.
Carrots (50)
Reduced Fat Cottage Cheese (100)
Organic/no sugar added applesauce (100)

4:00 pm
Special K Cereal Bar (90) - I was get crazy hungry and sleepy by this time and I had to force myself to not have a Coke.

5:30 pm
Luna Burger with provolone cheese on a sandwich thin (340)
Potato Salad (250) - Yikes!
Salad (green leaf lettuce, feta cheese, carrots, 1 tbs dressing) (77)

I have to proclaim my love for Luna Burgers! They are veggie burgers made here in Ohio with Ohio ingredients. The Pilot is a vegetarian but I am not. He's opened my eyes and tastebuds to some yummy (and some not so yummy) things. I don't like to cook so I can't complain what's for dinner when The Pilot has it waiting for me when I walk in the door. Yes, sometimes that makes up for the nights when I have to eat on my own. Anyways, he made me try these burgers and I love them. My favorite are the Garden Thyme burgers.

I'm hoping to stay out of the kitchen for the rest of the night but I still have to pack for my trip to San Diego tomorrow so it might be a late night. Hunger might strike if I stay up too late. We'll see how that goes....oh wait... A wildberry fruit strip (45)

I'm going to be off the grid until Tuesday as I head to San Diego to coach the Rock 'n Roll Marathon for Team in Training. I've never been to the city and I always have an amazing time when I get to coach a large race like this. Our local Team in Training chapter is taking 8 people that have raised a boatload of money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I'll have a full report next week.

Nom Nom

Despite The Great Cupcake Showdown yesterday, I did pretty well when I took a look at just the calories that I took in. I'm not keeping track of protein, fats or anything like that right now. I'm just looking at calories. Remember, I'm aiming for 1,759 calories per day in order to lose approximately 1 pound per week. While I do have some weight to lose, my short term goal is to make my wedding dress a little more comfortable. That's a legit goal, right?

So here's the good and the bad of yesterday:

7:15 am
Bagel with veggie cream cheese (380)
Small Pepsi (100)
Ugh. This is NOT the breakfast of champions. :(

12:30 pm
Peanut Butter & Jelly (Whole wheat/high protein bread, reduced fat PB, "just fruit"
jelly (350)
Carrots (30)
Cheese & Triscuits (170)
Medium Orange (75)

It was a very orange lunch.

7:30 pm
Leftover Japanese Pan Noodles with Organic Tofu from Noodles & Co. (435)
I actually ordered this on Tuesday evening. The Pilot was away and I can barely fend for myself in the kitchen so I picked this up on my way home from my workout. The Pilot ordered this the last time we went to Noodles & Co and it looked good. And it is good. Until you stop to take a drink or jump up from the couch to chase the cat who is trying to eat a plastic bag. Then all of the sudden your lips catch on fire. This thing has a kick to it. At least for me it does. I'm very sensitive to spicy food. I tried to eat more but it was just too much heat. I talked to The Pilot and told him I'd save the leftovers for him when he got home on Wednesday.

Well after my bike ride last night, I was really hungry. I know that 7 hours in between meals is not a good idea....) and again, I was on my own for dinner so I threw the leftovers in the microwave and scarfed down the rest of the bowl (sorry Pilot, no leftovers for you). And as soon as I stopped eating, my lips caught on fire. That's one way to cut down on calories, just eat things so spicy you don't want to finish the entire thing!

So back to the calories....it looks like I consumed about 1,540 calories for the day. Yeay! That's under my goal but with the exception of just waiting too darn long between lunch and dinner, I didn't really feel like I was deprived of anything. I just really need to make the time to put more thought into breakfast and some snack options for days when I go right from work to a workout.

I'm a work in progress obviously but keeping track of the calories has been a definite eye-opener. I don't think I'll keep tracking my calories for too long but I certainly think twice (or all day as in the case of the cupcakes) about what I eat...even if I completely cave and eat something absolutely ridiculous (Hello, I'm convinced Diary Queen Blizzards should be their own food group).

And by the way, I'm only at 730 calories for the day so far. This is MUCH better than my last swim day when I was at 1345 calories by the end of lunch. I've gotten some additional advice on how to deal with my post-swim munchies. More on that later...it's back to work!

The Great Cupcake Showdown

I'm an event planner so from time to time, sales people from the local hotels show up at our office to say hello. Sometimes they bring treats. I don't mind when they stop in (even if it interrupts my day) but I feel very torn when they drop off cookies or cupcakes. I have a hard time saying no to sweets. A VERY hard time. So this sales person showed up yesterday with cupcakes. I was about to get on a conference call though so I couldn't tell her to not leave any cupcakes.

She left six.

There were only two of us in the office yesterday and neither of us wanted the cupcakes (well I wanted the cupcakes, I just didn't need them.). Six cupcakes sat on a desk, within eye sight of my desk, for several hours. I was busy but kept looking up at them, trying to decide what to do with the darn things.

Finally, at 5 pm, I tried to convince my boss to take them. No such luck. I pawned two of them off on another tenant in our building. Two of them went into the trash (such a shame) and two went home with me. I made the 40 minute commute home with the two cupcakes sitting on the passenger seat. When I got stuck in traffic, I looked over at the cupcakes with longing in my heart. There was a devil on one shoulder saying "Just eat one! You are going on a bike ride when you get home and you have swim practice in the morning." The angel on the other shoulder was reminding me that I am getting married in less than two months and I want to lose some of my wobbly bits by then.

I got home, put the cupcakes in the fridge and headed out for a bike ride. It was a tough ride. I haven't spent nearly enough time on my bike this season. I got in just over 13 miles. I averaged about 10 mph (crappy, even for me) on the way out but then about 16 mph (good for me) on the way back. I hate wind. I was discouraged but I kept telling myself that it was good for me because wind creates similar conditions as hills (at least as far as my legs are concerned). The triathlon I'm training for has some crazy hills. I'm only doing the sprint distance this year but the bike course from last year's Olympic tri is still pretty fresh in my mind. During the last couple of miles though, I had almost convinced myself that I had earned a cupcake. Seriously? I don't think it works that way when you are trying to lose a couple pounds.

The Pilot came home last night from a 4-day trip and as we were falling asleep, I told him that he had to eat or throw away those cupcakes before I got home from work the next day. I don't think I have the will power to say no to the cupcakes for another day. Especially since today was a swim day and I'm always a hungry beast after I swim. If The Pilot has a heart, he will make sure those cupcakes aren't in the house when I get home. I just can't take the torture.

OK, maybe I took this a little too far by doctoring up the photo but in my head, this is what they looked like.