Monday, May 28, 2007

Heavy Breathing and a Little Screaming

This morning I took my mountain bike out for some girl-on-dirt action.

I hauled some serious ass. (Seriously, my ass is huge lately) I hauled it uphill for 5+ miles.

In last week's fiery extravaganza I found the perfect excuse not to run but to put on about 5 pounds of soda weight instead (I know, I know). Needless to say, it was a little difficult for me to find good lines on the trail today.

Confidence: shaken, not stirred.

The picture is of the Cathedral section of the trail, which I did not get to today. I didn't eat enough breakfast before I headed out. Sucked a lot of wind. Almost blew chunks. Took the easy way out.

The "easy way" is to just ride the long slow uphill for about 2.6 miles to where the really fun and technical downhill section ends (if you're going the other way). My friend, Zack, (who also got me started rock climbing, btw) did our usual loop and met me there. Then when we got back to the trailhead, he talked me into doing it again -- which I am so glad I did.

The second round was MUCH better. After taking in a gel, I could BREATHE and I definitely felt more connected to the trail.

I ended up riding about 10.5 miles, with half of that uphill. Not bad, but TONS better than the crappy 5.2 miles I almost ended the day on.

Confidence: stirred.

I topped off the day with 20 minutes of trail running at sunset, which was a real gasp-fest. Then I apparently got a little too close to an owl's nest (or some other bird-of-prey's territory). In the last 2 minutes of the run, this bird swooped my head TWICE, screaming at me. Then I was screaming. And then I was running really fast...not because I'm hardcore, but because I was SCARED, okay? I don't know if that really qualifies as an intact finishing kick because it was fueled by adrenaline, not will or might.

Conclusion: I am in deep doo-doo for Saturday's race.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Unhappy Campers

Hi Everyone.

You wanted some good stories about my camping trip, but I'm afraid I don't have any. We didn't even make it through the first night before we had a very serious accident.

Under the circumstances, it's a bit difficult to pick and choose which details to share and which to omit in order to give you a clear understanding, but without embarrassing those involved. I have a lot to say about the bigger picture surrounding this incident, but I may need to wait a while before I write about it, if I ever decide to share it in this venue.

Here's the short version:

Heavy drinking + falling asleep next to a campfire = trip to the emergency room.

Let me pause here to explain that I am not a teetotaler. I enjoy whooping it up as much as the next guy. But I know my limits. This day, I had a glass at a nearby winery at 2:00 in the afternoon, then a nap and nothing else for the rest of the day. I had plans to get up and run in the morning, so I cut myself off. Though I seldom get drunk anymore since I've started triathlon, I am better than no one in this story.

After dinner, we got a campfire going and my camping companions were coming into the complete idiot stage of drunkenness. Stone sober and irritated, I went to bed. Around midnight, one of them woke me up and said, "I burned myself. I burned my hands." This person is a musician. His reason for getting up in the morning is in his hands. He gave up rock climbing two years ago -- an activity he loves -- because he didn't want to risk injuring his hands. Anyway, he either rolled into the fire, or else stumbled in an attempt to go to his tent. The only detail that is clear to him is that he found himself in the fire.

In the dark, I found some ice and put it in his hands...and felt his skin. The flashlight revealed what was already obvious: he needed to get to the hospital immediately. Thank God I wasn't drinking with them.

The nearest hospital was 45 minutes away, the paramedics met us halfway.

This was Monday night/Tuesday morning. After three hours of sleep, I drove him 3 1/2 hours to Albuquerque to the state's only burn center, where he is currently recovering from second degree burns to his entire left palm, the thumb pad on his right palm, and the outer portion of his left leg. He has lost all the skin on these areas (twice on the left palm), but he is fortunate in that there is no nerve or muscle damage, which means he should be able to play music again in about a month or so. He also has less serious burns on his back and foot.

And as if all this weren't enough...

After postponing my return for a day so I could be supportive, I had plans to start my trip home at 3:00 yesterday afternoon only to be greeted by not one, but TWO FLAT TIRES! Once I finally got on the road, I had to contend with thunderstorms the entire way (I've mentioned my slobbery Basset Hound's issues with thunderstorms before). Luckily, the Benadryl did its duty. Though she drooled and panted for the whole three-hour drive, she did not whine and she didn't get any slobber on me. (BTW: all three dogs accompanied me to the ER in Farmington, to Albuquerque, the tires, the whole shebang. )

Oy vey.

At midnight last night, the dogs and I finally arrived home and slept like, well, dogs.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Thursday, May 17, 2007

...And Then Endorphins Made It Better

Four miles of snake-free trail later...

Tell Me Again Why I'm A Dog Person

On a regular day, Bootsie's jowls collect drool, chewed up food, and oh yeah, drool. It gets nice and stale in there so when she shakes her head later, she can launch little strings of slobber onto the walls and across her nose. It also makes greetings, shall we say, bittersweet.

Her jowls also rub up against her ears and coat them with a nice glue...which, come bath time, presents a hardened mystery goo on the inside ridge of her ears that does NOT come off easily and makes me dry heave just thinking about it.

But here's the thing. Basset Hounds were bred for hunting and tracking. That explains the short legs, but what good would it do to have this dog keep its snout to the ground for a few miles only to have it emerge with about three tons of mud (if you're lucky) collected on its lips AND happy to see you?

Allright, here's where this is coming from: We had LOUD thunderstorms last night...which wouldn't have bothered me except that it made Boots SUPER drooly, whiny, shaky, and climby. Since I was already asleep as this storm brewed, I couldn't give her a pre-emptive Benadryl (which is about the only way it works) I awoke to her clawing me and licking my face, and utterly inconsolable.

Meanwhile, Dinah had yet another seizure yesterday morning. And Rocky, who ate about $250 worth of my shoes PLUS both of my parents' couches when I first got him, has a tremor that has spread from his front left paw throughout his body and has recently emerged in his mouth -- making him chatter his teeth intermittently throughout the day. Oh yeah, and he recently ate the front off of MY sofa because his ball got trapped under there. Still, he is the Good One.

So what does this have to do with training?

I have no idea. But I have a lot of frustration to work off today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ride of Silence 2007

Tonight we number many but ride as one
In honor of those not with us, friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, sons
With helmets on tight and heads down low,
We ride in silence, cautious and slow
The wheels start spinning in the lead pack
But tonight we ride and no one attacks
The dark sunglasses cover our tears
Remembering those we held so dear
Tonight's ride is to make others aware
The road is there for all to share
To those not with us or by our side,
May God be your partner on your final ride
- Mugai

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hey, Ain't This a TRI Blog?!

What's all this nonsense about tequila and asparagus and epileptic dogs? Aren't you supposed to be out running and swimming and biking?

Well, yes.

So I swam today. And I'm going to run this afternoon.

See, that's not nearly as interesting as me standing in the street, sizing up the plants in my yard for moonshine, is it?

En serio, my neighbor talked me into signing up for a trail race -- my first ever -- at the beginning of June. It's 8.1 miles. Elevation change of 951 feet. At 8000 feet.

I can't believe it myself.

Hey, what's that you're eating?

It's a new candy bar called 'More Than You Can Chew."

Oh yeah? Can I have a bite?

SO...the new trail shoes I bought over a month ago, and started breaking in last week are going on their first trail run this afternoon. This oughta be interesting. I think I've mentioned that I am afraid of snakes. With the heat the way it is around here, dawn and dusk are about the only times it's pleasant to run -- and the same time the snakes are out marauding around. I know this because I've seen 'em out there on my mountain bike. Several times. And in my yard. Several times. Every time, marauding.

You know, they're more afraid of you than you are of them.

I doubt it.

Umm...that's a python.

Fine, fine. We don't have pythons here. But we do have all kinds of other snakes.

Yes, but rattlesnakes are the only venomous snakes in New Mexico except for the Arizona coral snake.

Yeah, well...have a look at this guy. He's scary.

*Sigh* Again, I ask you: ain't this a tri blog? Use your fear for speedwork, nimrod. Enough with the Wild Kingdom already.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Asparagus, Part 2

Well, I was half right.

Unfortunately, it was not the fun half.

It turns out that plant in my yard IS really big asparagus:

Desert Agave

Scientific classification
Species: A. deserti

It is not the source of tequila. THAT plant is appropriately called 'agave tequiliana.' But if I act now, I can still harvest sap from this one and make mezcal...if only I had a pot large enough to boil it in.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

Remember that time I cut half of the fur off the tip of Lucas' tail? And I blamed it on Daddy? And you believed me?'re the greatest. :D

Friday, May 11, 2007

World's Largest Asparagus

AAGGGGHH! It's growing in my front yard!!!

Actually, it's a century plant (or agave). These plants grow for about ten years, then bloom and die -- which tells you about lifespan when this plant got its name). That stalk in the middle just appeared about two weeks ago. For the last decade, the plant has just been the spiky part at the bottom. This is one of my favorite desert plants -- mostly because it looks like really big asparagus.

My parents planted this when they moved into the house a little over ten years ago. I guess it's appropo that it should bloom and die now, as no one from the family will be moving in after I leave. :(

Agaves are also the same plants where TEQUILA comes from.
PLEASE let there be some kind of instructions for harvesting tequila out of these things on the Internet...
Ummm...did I mention I don't have school for the next three weeks? Guess how I'll be spending it!
That's right...DRIN-- oh wait, training. :D
(Damn you, Smiley D!)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Bring Your Epileptic Dog to Work Day

Well, it's finals week. Things are winding down, I'm getting my grades done and turned in. Hardly anyone is around. It would be bliss, except...

Dinah had another seizure this morning, her first in a few weeks. This meant I had to give her the heavy meds (she's come to think that her daily phenobarbitol is a treat that only she gets -- hey, whatever it takes). Anyway, this other pill is so strong that I can only give her half without making her puke. Also, it makes her pretty incoherent, even for a dog, so I don't like to leave her alone (or with the other two rowdy dogs who are two- and four times her size).

So she got to come to work with me today. If there was ever a reason I've chosen academia for my career (aside from the bitchin' vacation time -- oh yeah, and shaping the minds of tomorrow), it is moments like this one. I'm at work with a little dog on my lap while I blog away. This beats the Dilbert life any day.

For the record, all of my actual tasks are done, I just have to sit here for my office hours and be available for the stream of students who will not show up.

*pauses for a visitor*

Hey, whattaya know? As soon as I typed that sentence, one showed up. No foolin'. So I guess I'd better go!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Gadget-Free and Smiley D

I went for a run today and left all the gadgets behind.

No watch. No heart rate monitor. No iPod.

I went running just for the sake of it. I wasn't concerned with how fast I was going, how hard or how little I was working, or whether I was adhering to any training plan (this wasn't on the schedule). I just ran and enjoyed the view.
I immediately felt the liberating effects of leaving the watch and HRM behind. It was nice to just enjoy a run without the weight of some other goal on top of it. My legs moved without much coaxing, my breathing was cleansing.

The absence of the iPod was a little different.

I admit, part of the reason I went out today was to get out of the house and into my head (I grew up as an only child and I have turned this space into quite the playground). For the first quarter-mile, I hummed some little songs (iPod residue). That quickly gave way to daydreaming about things to come.

But once I got into my groove, the real playtime started.

I'm sure you all experience some sort of meditative state when you run alone, with or without music. For the first year or so that I ran, I had no music, so it was always a mental retreat. Once I started setting race goals, workouts became a chore. That's how the iPod entered the picture -- I needed something to get me through it. Today, I got back to the retreat aspects, and it was refreshing in so many ways.

My thoughts meandered and played. I thought of Iowa, road trips past, ridiculous schemes (like the time I announced to Scott that I was going to teach myself calculus), etc. Here's where I wound up after about an hour:

Whenever Smiley D makes an appearance online (a smiley with a capital D, rather than the widely-used parenthetical smiley), I picture this dog in my head:

Every. single. time. And I always get a little kick out of it.

Really, the parenthetical smiley is so POLITE. But Smiley D is a real cheeseball. A hambone, if you will. He tells you that he likes you, is aware that he is dangerously close to The Line (or else is looking at it in his rearview mirror), is a little pleased with his handywork and hopes you are too. Other times, he's telling you that you'd better have some treats and is drooling on your shoes.

Here, let's put them side-by-side:

:) vs :D

Now that you have this dog in your head, doesn't that capital D put a little silly in those eyes? Parenthesis Smiley looks like he's trying to get away with eating your chocolate chip cookies. Smiley D's got chocolate all over his face and is happy to see you.

The Moral of the Story:

Umm...It's gotta be one of three things:

  1. A low-tech workout is magic elixir for a rut.
  2. A low-tech workout is a quick way to discover just how crazy you are.


3. In addition to the three dogs I already have to keep me company in the trailer park, I also have a junkyard dawg inside my head named Smiley D.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Why I REALLY Tri...

So I dabbled in a little celebrity look-alike this morning...

First, I put in a picture from what I call my Prime Time (right after I moved to Seattle from DC and was in the best shape of my life). Here's what I got:

Not bad...these are all very pretty ladies...more than enough to make a girl feel good about herself.

I should have quit while I was ahead.

But no, I went and used a more recent picture from here in New Mexico:

Oh dear. We are not in CuteGirl-Ville anymore. Seriously, Regis Philbin?!!?!

What. The. Mother. CRAP?!

That's it. I'm going for a run.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Anyone Got A Bridge For Sale?

Well, I did it. I purchased a mobile home in Iowa. Yes, I bought a non-permanent dwelling in Tornado Alley.

I ran the numbers on rent+pet fees over the four years, and $32K for rent compared to $18K for this place -- which I could sell later -- seemed like a no-brainer.

And to soothe your concerns about tornadoes (okay, MINE), you see that sidewalk in the photo that runs down the back of my place? It leads to the storm shelter. I dunno...I like adventure. I guess the tornado angle is my way of injecting some risk into an otherwise responsible life choice (going back to school, etc.).

I guess you could say it's more like a Fisher Price My-First-Home. The park that it's in takes care of the lawn, SNOW REMOVAL (a super bonus for my winter-averse California-come-New Mexico roots), water and trash. PLUS, I get free cable. Ahh...the joys of ownership with the responsibilities of apartment living. Perfect-O.

So there it is. I have embraced my inner yokel. Join me next time, when you can hear me say:

Cletus, git yer dawg off the shed!