Thursday, November 26, 2009

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot--"Race" Report

I am a sucker for the turkey trots. Nothing better than to prepare yourself for a day of guilt-free gluttony than an early-morning, run-your-ass-off-in-freezing-cold-weather (40s is "freezing cold" for me, okay?) until you can taste bile and almost puke at the finish. Great way to kick off Thanksgiving!

After hitting the snooze for 30 minutes, I finally got out of bed. I convinced myself I didn't need to wake up too early because I didn't have a zoo of animals to feed and walk. I was right. The battle was driving my parent's car to the start. They have this new Infiniti that looks like a big, purple eggplant. No offense, mom and dad, but it does. It's keyless. Keyless? WTF? I sat in the driver's seat for about 5 minutes, trying to convince the car how I wanted to position the mirrors, the seat, and figuring out how to turn the dang thing on. I cautiously drove it down the street, mild panic and terror rising in my chest. I'm convinced the purple eggplant has a higher IQ than I. At any minute, I fully expected a female voice to come blaring out of the dash, "Operation New World Order commence. Kill the humans! Robots attack!"

At the race site, I was freezing. It was 45 degrees, and my thin-skinned San Diego body can't take it. I feel like a wild animal that's been pampered in captivity for 4 years. Suddenly, I'm being reintroduced to the wild against my will. I want 70s and sun again! I stood in line, after line, trying to figure out the procedure of Race Day Registration. Being a planner, I've actually never registered on site before. I didn't like it. Way too stressful.

After finally procuring my bib and chip, hunger began gnawing at my insides. Great. I hadn't been hungry at the house! I began scanning the tables for food. Nothing. Jogging around to keep warm, I spotted a table at the far end of the park with mounds of crisp, yellow, savory bananas. I ran over, giving them my best puppy-dog look, "Can I please have a banana?" This big, fat woman, looked me down, sternly, with her hands on her hips and her chin bobbing ever so slightly back and forth, "No! If I give you one, I have to give everyone one." I looked around. I was alone. Everyone? No one would know! I pleaded to no avail. "Do you know where there is some pre-race food. Gu? Gels?" I asked, verrry politely. "I don't know anything. Everything is different this year." I came very, very close to saying, "Happy Thanksgiving!" in an overzealous tone but was too afraid of her wrath to be sarcastic. Instead, I gave her a long, pitiful look as I walked away. My look said it all: I just wanted a banana, and it's Thanksgiving, and I was very nice, and the least you could do is be nice back but, no, instead you took out your stress and bad day on me, and you're VOLUNTEERING! Next time? Stay home! I think my look made her feel very bad. At least I hope so. I continued my hunt for food. I spotted a volunteer's banana on a table as she handed out safety pins and shoe tags. I thought seriously about swiping it like an opportunistic (and ravenous) hyena but somehow restrained myself. Finally, I discovered a team tent with heaps and heaps of food: bagels, bananas, coffee, granola bars. I walked nonchalantly into the tent, smiling and nodding, and grabbed what I needed. Ah, food. So primal. We are only animals afterall.

I lined up on the start with 30 minutes to spare, satiated but shivering. I found a small patch of sunshine and stood as close as I could to a group of people to benefit from their body heat without invading their personal space...too much. They were probably wondering, "Why is this strange skinny girl trying to hug us?" I'm just cold, really!

The gun went off, and I was so relieved to start running. The crowds thinned out pretty quickly, and I let the adrenaline surge pick my way around and through, zig-zagging in and out of the crowd. Apparently, there were 11,000 runners! The cold morning air propagated missiles of snot rockets and spit bombs that I had to dodge, glistening like morning dew on grass. I glanced at my GPS. 7:20s? I felt SO good! I didn't have a time goal; I didn't care about pacing. I just ran. As fast as I wanted. It felt wonderful. Freeing. I ran like that for 2 miles before my pace slowed naturally.

The San Jose Fire Department kept me company, running along at a good clip in matching dark navy uniforms, chanting in unison. A fireman in front carried their flag. I love a man in uniform, and a fireman? Oh, rescue me! I drank in their chanting; it was extremely motivating. I was sorry to leave them at mile 2.5 but smiled and told them, "You guys are AWESOME!!!"

Somewhere at mile 4, it started getting difficult. I wasn't breathing hard, my legs didn't hurt, but it just felt hard. Hmm. No biggie. I just slowed down for 30 seconds to 8:00s before recovering and surging forward again. I think it was more neuromuscular fatigue than aerobic fatigue. Afterall, I can't remember the last time I've done speed work. I slowed just a bit, running that fine line between laying it all on the line, that this hurts-I-can't-keep-this-up-another-minute feeling (anaerobic) and la-de-dah, I-could-do-this-all-day, let's-sing-a-song feeling (aerobic). All the runners were quiet now, running in blissful, peaceful, meditative solace, yet sharing the comfortable silence of other runners, sharing their sweet pain. We were all in our own private world, somewhere between heaven and hell. I was more near the heaven spot, bathed in waves of endorphins, akin (and healthier) than most narcotics. My body had become physically numb from head to toe, and I floated over the ground, barely feeling my feet spring from stride to stride.

At mile 5, I began to put some mustard on it. Whatever I had left. Now I was panting, gasping for breath. My lungs burned. It felt wonderful. My face was hot and read. Beads of sweat trickled down my forehead, tickling my temples. I can't keep this up, I can't, I told myself. Who cares? This is FUN! I forced myself to slow, knowing I still had 1/2 a mile to go. That can be a long way if you're going all out. I felt my breathing recover, my legs raring to go, chomping at the bit. The adrenaline surged through my veins, making my body tremble, my stomach slightly naseous, my legs wobbly. So hard to resist; so hard. Not yet, not yet. A little farther. Finally, I passed the 6 mile mark and knew there was only 0.2 miles to go. As if the gun was going off, I shot ahead, zig-zagging around the runners around me. I couldn't control myself. How can you not sprint through the chute when everyone else is sprinting and the crowds are cheering?

I surged through the finish, completely exhilarated. The crowds on the other side forced me to stop. Oh, God. Oh, God. I'm going to puke! I pushed people out of the way (Sorry but it was better than puking on you!) and walked out of the crowds, walking, walking, until the hot-red-faced and pukey feeling subsided (I get like that after every race). My legs felt rubbery. 10 minutes later, as if cooled into cement, they began to turn to rubber bands and I fought my way over to a fence for some well-deserved stretching. I'm back at my parents now and ready for some pumpkin pie!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Calm Before the Storm

Midst dropping my menagerie off at their various holiday boarding locations, packing, and rushing to the airport to throw myself at the mercy of the airport gods, I snuck in one last master's swim. I dove into the calm, silky waters. I had an entire lane to myself, the class mostly empty from earlier Thanksgiving departures. I could focus completely on myself, my swim stroke, and the rhythmic motion of my arms slipping in and out of the water, my torso twisting slightly from side-to-side.

Terry Martin, the most awesome coach ever, gave me extra special attention, given that the student-to-coach ratio was so low. Enter later, enter wider, don't twist so much, bring your arms back under you after you enter, don't do full catch-up on each stroke. So much to remember! Of course, being the overachiever, when first told about front-quadrant swimming, I practiced catch-up drill so much that each stroke is entirely catch-up, making my stroke turnover very low and creating a big dead zone in between each recovery. Egads! Then, apparently, I rotate from my hips so aggressively that I almost flip over onto my back with each stroke. (When I first started swimming, I was told to reach long with each stroke; I had to be told I was going to dislocate my shoulder if I continued to reach that far). I can never half-ass anything. If I'm going to do something, I gotta give it my all! Twist from the hips, I'll show you twist! Reach, I'll reach until my arm pops out! So now, I'm working on backing off a little.

The first 1000 meters was agonizing. I felt slow and sluggish. My time per 100 showed it. Ugh. I just had no strength. My shoulders ached. Around 1200 meters, something shifted. All of a sudden, I was zipping through the water. I shaved off 3 seconds/100. Then, another 2. Then another second....and held it. 100 meters after 100 meters. Suddenly, it snowballed and I was flying through the water with irrational exuberance. I finished off with 2800 meters (and I'm totally out of shape), exhilarated, red-faced, and rejuvenated. Off to the airport! The crowds, honking taxis, lines, nothing could touch me after that. Yay for fantastic workouts!

Workout (long course):
Warm Up--3x300, as follows:
1--50 drill/100 swim (x2)
2--3x100 on base+5 descending
3--6x50 on target test set time
Main Set:
13x100s (test set; 20 seconds rest)
100 ez
Cool Down:
6x100s--50 stroke/50 kick

Monday, November 23, 2009

Congratulations, Anita, You Are an Ironman!

Anita did it!!!! She became an Ironman yesterday! I am SO proud. This is a person who had to fight all odds. She was in a traumatic car accident when she was a little girl, putting her into a coma. She was not expected to leave. She awakened with total amnesia and had to start over from scratch with no memories prior to her 7 years of age. As she progressed, it became apparent she had suffered severe brain damage. As a result, Anita has a difficult time with spatial reasoning, communication, and memory, making it challenging to complete day-to-day tasks. Despite it all, she completed a masters in film-making from the Chicago Institute of Art on a Fulbright Scholarship. Can we say, "Wow!"? Afterwards, she battled with a period of severe depression.

One day, she had an awakening, and on an impulse, moved out to San Diego to embrace the triathlon lifestyle. She had a feeling it would help her to heal and move on. She's had to fight poverty, loneliness, and a very conservative family background. The Triathlon Club of San Diego (, inspired by her drive, helped fund her pursuit of becoming an Ironman, and we all raised money for her slot at Ironman Arizona. Meanwhile, Anita trained like a demon. Her coach (Terry Martin, empathizing with her, charitably donated her services), had to constantly convince her not to overtrain. Anita also took classes to enrich her film-making skills at a local community college. With barely any money and living on disability, Anita somehow managed to make ends meet.

With a freshly tuned up bike and a new pair of running shoes, a fellow TCSD member picked her up on Thursday and they set off for Tempe. I waved goodbye with a huge lump in my throat. Sunday morning, I tracked her on-line. All of us in TCSD did as well. Somewhere around 8:30 pm, it said "DNF". I was devastated. Holding back tears, I went to bed, thinking of words to console her the next day. But on the phone (in line to sign up for 2010), she told me she had finished.
"What happened?" I asked. "I thought you DNF'ed."
"Oh, I got lost," she admitted. "I missed the last 6 miles."
I chuckled to myself, shaking my head. Ah, Anita. She was always getting lost, everywhere she went. She proceeded to tell me how she had crossed the finish line, in disbelief at her incredible 11-something hour time.
"It's a miracle!" she thought. She went back to her hotel room, changed into her sweats, and called her coach. Her coach looked on-line, and told her the facts.
"You didn't finish. You missed the last 6 miles."
"What do I do?" Anita asked.
"Go back and finish!" her coach urged. Wearily, she put her running clothes back on, and fighting exhaustion, went back to the course. She convinced the race officials to let her back onto the course. More than an hour had elapsed since her first "finish." She ran the last 6-miles, finishing for real this time. She persevered, and became an Ironman, against all odds. I can't imagine how amazing she will be next year.

Her story is incredibly fascinating. There are many more twists and turns but it's not my place to divulge it all here. That is for her to tell one day. Anita is an inspiration to us all. She became an Ironman when the whole world seemed to be against her. Anita has proven to us that if your will is strong enough, and you want something badly enough, you can overcome. Anything is possible. And that is a gift for all of us.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fantastic Weekend

I had a fantastic weekend. Can't get into all the gory details but it's definitely in the top 10. Started Saturday with a 50-miler in Camp Pendleton. Felt so good to be back in the saddle. Rode with a few good friends at a social pace for most of the ride. Perfect weather, gorgeous views, good company, what more can you ask for? We picked up the pace the last 10 miles, finishing strong. I didn't even feel tired (and it's been a long time since I rode 50); I felt invigorated. Afterwards, I had some coffee with a friend, took Travis to dog beach and ran sprints with him in the water for 45 minutes until we were both exhausted.

I stayed out late Saturday (like the 1 time a year I do that) so I napped most of Sunday away. Soooo relaxing. Sunday night, I grabbed Travis (my protector) and my headlamp and ventured out for a nighttime run. It was gorgeous. Just cool enough that my breath puffed smoke with each breath like a dragon. My legs felt like springs; I floated over the ground. Travis trotted happily beside me; my steadfast companion. The stars glittered spectacularly overhead, blinded only by the sliver of the new moon, smiling like the Cheshire Cat. Indeed, I felt like Alice running along in the surreal shrouded darkness. Afterwards, I was both tired and energized somehow, stuck in a paradox. I followed it up with weights on my new Life Fitness Functional Trainer (soooo nice) while watching Grey's Anatomy re-runs. Think it's time for sleep!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adventures with Travis

Adopting Travis has been one of the best decisions I've made in my life. I was warned, "Dogs are a lot of work," but it's been nothing but rewards on my end. I have to walk him 3x a day. Woe is me. You mean, I have to spend 30 minutes a couple times a day running and walking on trails, enjoying the sunshine and stopping every now and then to smell the flowers? Oh, the agony! There is nothing better than waking up and going for a walk with your best friend first thing in the morning. It's a great way to warm up before a work out. In addition, he's always happy to see me when I get home (aka the nickname "Mr. Wiggles" when I walk in the door). After dinner and an evening walk, we work on obedience commands. He is a fast learner and has gotten, "Sit", "Shake", "Down", "Stay", "Come", "Beg", and "Roll Over" down pat. He's also a very good snuggler. On weekends, we frequent all the dog parks and beaches (Travis is a guy magnet). I take him everywhere with me.

I've been starting to train again. Very unofficial. Just a lot of relaxed group runs, some masters swims, and group rides. Ah, it feels good to feel sore again.

P.S.--Got a LifeFitness functional trainer today. Most awesome home gym EVER!!!

Photo Journal:

"Hurry up, Mom! Let's go!"

"I'm coming, I'm coming." (love it when his tongue hangs out).


"WAIT! What's that? Is it a rabbit?!"

"I smell a rabbit!"

"Time for a nap."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Good Luck!

To everyone doing Ironman Arizona this weekend, I'll be thinking of you. My friend, Anita (#2433), is doing her first Ironman in Tempe this weekend. Her story is very inspiring as she is living below poverty level, on disability due to brain damage she suffered in a car accident as a child. Despite all adversities, she managed to achieve a masters in film-making from the Chicago Institute of Art on a Fulbright Scholarship. Her goal is to make a triathlon documentary. Triathlon has helped give her new chances and heal herself. I found her story so inspiring, I helped her on her Ironman journey by asking the Triathlon Club of San Diego to donate money for her slot. I feel very fortunate to be included in helping her achieve her dream of becoming an Ironman. I know the journey will change her life and give her strength as it did for me. I helped pack her bags last night and had a hard time getting to sleep because I was so vicariously excited. Tears welled up in my throat as I watched her ride away to Tempe this morning. Her journey has begun!

Find out more about Anita here:

Also, good luck to my dear friend, Audrey, this weekend as she does her 2nd 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. Her sister suffered from breast cancer a few years ago and since then, they have raised money for the Komen Foundation to fight breast cancer and participated in the walk. As my mother suffered from breast cancer (2x), I am personally moved by Audrey's journey. It's no small feat as she will be walking 60 miles in 3-days (that's 20 miles a day for 3 days!). She has been training very hard. I'm so proud of her! Go, Audrey!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Letter to the Editor!

My letter to the editor of Triathlete got published in the December issue! Check it:

Motivation Inspiration
"I cannot thank you enough for the Sports Psychology Edition (September 2009), particularly Ben Greenfield's article, "What Really Motivates You?" I happened to read it just 24 hours before my second Ironman, Ironman Canada. Little did I realize how much I would rely on this article to overcome my inner demons on race day. I woke up race morning with a stomach bug, which became progressively worse throughout the day. At mile 92 of the bike course I wanted to quit--very badly. I was weak and sick and couldn't eat or drink enough. I debated whether finishing was worth it. Just as Greenfield warned, here I was asking myself, 'Why am I doing this to myself?' I had to dig very deep. None of my pre-planned answers were good enough. Finally, it came to me: because it makes me feel strong. What better way to define strength than to finish an Ironman with a sick stomach? I kept telling myself, ;I'm strong, I'm strong,' all the way to the finish. Crossing that finish line was one of the sweetes victories I've every had. Overcoming that battle on the racecourse taught me a lot about myself and made me stronger because of it. I wouldn't have had it any other way."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Prep Phase--My Favorite Season

As I shake off the cobwebs from my long off-season, I began the arduous journey back into Iron-fitness. It seems daunting. Every little workout I do makes my lungs burn and my muscles ache. I feel weak and soft. I hate the off-season. I needed the rest but weeks of unnecessary naps and junk food have taken its toll. Granted, I had a lot of personal crap I was dealing with. At least I took lots of walks. Lots and lots of walks. One week, Travis and I walked 5-7 miles a day. My legs were SO sore! Walking uses totally different muscles than running. Over time, day after day of sleeping in, eating junk food, and skipping workouts, I felt like crap. In all honesty, I felt depressed.

This week, I started working out again. I had forgotten how wonderful it felt to workout upon rising. The rising part, not so fun. But once I was out of bed and moving, I felt so alive. Invigorated. Better than a cup of coffee. The morning workout set the tone for the whole day. Injected me with productive and creative energy. I remembered how much I loved to move, to be active, to feel my body work hard, to break a sweat.

This week, I'm beginning the Prep phase: getting my body used to consistent workouts again. It's my favorite part of the whole season. This will begin my long, slow journey to Ironman Utah. I will post more details on that training plan soon. Of course, I will also have to post my 2009 race season re-cap. Yes, it's that time again. But right now, I'm enjoying the Prep phase. I love how rewarding this phase is. I start from nothing and become an Ironman at the end. I am at the bottom of this steep, impossible mountain, yet I know from past experiences, that anything is possible. That excites me. The Prep phase is full of prospect, potential; it is limitless. I am full of energy, healed, well-rested, and ready to take on new challenges. Finally, the Prep phase doesn't take as much hard work and offers more flexibility than the other phases of training. All that matters is that I get out there and move! Time doesn't matter; I don't even have to work out that much. Because in the Prep phase, the body responds the most quickly to the smallest amount of stress. I'm going to have so much fun.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ironman Canada Plan--ReCap

As I crawl my way out of hibernation, I want to take one last look behind me before I move forward. Below, are the details of my Ironman Canada training plan. I designed it myself, using the knowledge of my first Ironman, the many books I've read (my favorite is Joe Friel's Triathlete Training Bible), on-line training plans, and the help of TCSD ( I then use the nerdy scientist in me to concoct a very customized training plan.

Note--If you have a hard time reading the script in the Excel snapshots, click on the image and it will get bigger in its own window.

First is the proposed plan (shown below):

Note that I've only shown my longest swim, bike and run for each week. Obviously, the total volume is much more. Basically, Ironman training can be divided into 4 phases: 1 the Prep phase, preparing your body for the Ironman training. 2, the Base phase, preparing your body for the distance, and 3, the Build phase--the most intense, highest volume (and therefore the shortest overall period because of the increased danger of damaging your body). The Build phase lasts only a total of 6-8 weeks (including ~2-3 recovery weeks) and should lead into the taper (the 4th phase). The Taper is often overlooked but definitely as critical.

Below, for the first time ever, I've shown the details of my "actual" training plan. Each block of 3-4 weeks (including a recovery week) had a specific purpose. At the end of each block, I went back to my proposed plan, and compared the 2 to see if I was on track. Then, I re-designed my next block, scaling back if I had done too much volume, or bringing up a sport that needed a little attention (adding running after a bike block, etc.). For Ironman Canada, I alternated between "run specific" and "bike specific" blocks to specialize in my skills in each sport (while maintaining the swim). For those blocks, I did the specialized sport 4x/week while doing the others 2-3x/week. In retrospect, this was probably too much. For future, if I'm doing one sport 4x, I will only do the other 2 twice to avoid overtraining. Keep in mind, I do weights 2x/week throughout (3x when the volume is lower) religiously to increase core and prevent injury (this allows me to delay fatigue and maintain better form on race day).

Take a look! Half of a training plan is documenting what you're doing and evaluating your progress! Hope this helps!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Mouse Problem? What Mouse Problem?!

Ironically, one of the biggest arguments Brent and I used to have was about the mice in the garage. They are attracted to the hay I store there for the bunnies. I love animals and feel guilty about the heart disease research I practice (as humanely as possible) in mice. So when I saw a few mice in the garage, I chose to ignore them, believing we could co-exist. Brent decided to wage war. I guess you can take the guy out of Texas but....well, you know. He wanted to use rat poison. Glue traps. Snap traps. Anyway, I put my foot down. Absolutely NOT! What's with all the killing?

The mice, as if sensing his animosity, chewed through the electrical wires of Brent's car, requiring an expensive trip to the dealer. My truck was left untouched, however. Again, more arguing. Kill the mice....hug the the planet. You get the picture. We often butted heads over stuff like this: me the tree-hugging, NPR-listening, left-winged, bleeding heart liberal and Brent, the gun-toting, right-winged, Sean Hannity-DVRing-obsessed, conservative. Not exactly a recipe for peace and calm. And the poor mice were caught right in the middle.
Desperate, I tried to compromise. What about catch-and-release traps? I'll even pay for them! Reluctantly, he agreed. I went to Home Depot, purchased several humane, live traps, baited them with peanut butter, and dispersed them throughout the garage. Weeks elapsed. Nothing. One night, I saw a mouse run right OVER the trap. Argh. Clearly, they weren't working. The mice were too smart for that! Again, more arguing. Maybe those weren't the right traps?
After Brent went to bed, determined to buy wire (snap) traps the next day, I went on-line and ordered about 10 different catch-and-release traps. As many different ones as I could find. It's not that I have a problem with killing mice that have invaded the home. I just want it done humanely. How can you assure me that the wire traps will instantly break their neck every time and not just maim them? And was Brent going to do cervical dislocation on each poor victim to finish the job the trap had failed to do? We do so much killing and torture as humans on this planet (including me); can't we minimize our damage just a little bit?
Ironically, the traps arrived on the same day Brent moved out. Even more ironically, the mice disappeared after Brent disappeared. I guess my "pest" problem was gone. Both literally and figuratively. I returned the catch-and-release traps, stacked from floor to ceiling in boxes in the gargage. Unfortunately, with my new box of hay for the bunnies came the mice. They're baaaack! Shoot. I don't want to kill them but I don't exactly want a mouse infestation either. What's a girl to do?
Then, I got Travis. He's prey instinct is sky-high, which has been something we've been working on due to the house bunnies. Last night, I was refilling the bag of hay for the buns in the garage with Travis by my side (he follows me everywhere). The FATTEST mouse I've ever seen ran out from behind the box. He must have been 40 grams. Seriously, he looked like one of the mice I use for my atherosclerosis studies that's been on high-fat diet for 16 weeks. "Get 'em!" I squealed. Travis, ears perked, nose to the ground, began rooting behind the boxes where the mouse was hiding. Using teamwork, Travis stood waiting on one side, while I swept the mouse towards him with a broom. In a lightning-fast pounce, Travis leapt over the box of hay, snapped the mouse in his mouth, and broke his neck. It was so quick, if I had blinked, I would have missed it. There wasn't a trace of blood or broken skin. Personally, I don't think it gets more humane than that. I gave Travis LOTS of praise and a treat, he gave me the dead mouse, and I gingerly wrapped it in a paper towel and put in the garbage. Now, Travis has a new job: mouser. And we're both quite happy about it.
The story gets even better. I introduced Travis to Babs and Taz a few days after I brought him home. Unfortunately, he lunged for Taz's little, innocent, precious head. Since then, I've forbidden Travis to come into the bedroom. I keep the door close. Problem solved. He's been a saint about "STAY" when I go into the bedroom. I say, "STAY" sternly with finger pointed at his nose and he lays down. I go into the bedroom and he remains like a statue in his prone position until I return, upon which, I give him loads of praise.
This morning, Babs kept waking me at the wee hours of the morning with load, incessant stomping. A bunny stomps as a warning to alert other to danger. However, sometimes, as a nervous bunny, Babs alerts me to invisible monsters that I would rather not be bothered about. I guess she's cried, "Fire!" too many times. This morning, her stomping was insistent.
"What is it?"
"Ugh, it's okay. It's nothing."
"Babs, let me sleep!"
Upon which, I rolled over, ignored her, and tried to go back to sleep. When I finally dragged myself from bed, I saw what the problem was. I had inadvertently left the door ajar. Travis, wanting to be as close to me as possible, had pushed the door open, laid down at the threshold, and remained, statue-still, all night long, despite the what must have been, tantalizing, yummy morsels bouncing around freely in the bedroom, inches from his nose. Wonderfully obedient Travis, knowing he was forbidden from entering the bedroom, had resisted what must have been an overwhelming temptation to chase-attack-kill, and remained in the prone position at the foot of the doorway. This, only hours after killing a mouse in the garage! Travis continues to amaze and fascinate me.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

When did volunteering become so difficult?

I thought I would try something new and do something nice by volunteering to a local group that I felt strongly about. Animal rescue, for instance. I filled out applications and joined 3...count them....3...different organizations. No word. I sent e-mails. One group responded demanding a minimum of 4 hours per week for a minimum of 6 months during the middle of the work day. Hello?! I work full-time!!! And the only positions they had available were manning the phones or database entry. Yuk! If I'm going to donate my time, I want to find the work rewarding. I wanted something more hands-on with the animals. Apparently, that group is totally saturated with volunteers.

Strike 1. Onto the next group. I missed the orientation meeting. However, I filled out reams and reams of paperwork, wrote carefully thought-out essays and applied. Nothing. I sent an e-mail. They don't need me for this term, turns out. They'll get back to me next year. Next year?!

Strike 2. The third group, I was most excited about. They seemed more laid-back and focused on transporting injured animals to rehab facilities. I joined, and checked out their very out-of-date website. I e-mailed. Nothing. I called. Nothing. I left messages. I finally called their emergency hotline and got the founder of the organization. Score! One would think. She proceeded to YELL, yes, yell at me that the work wasn't glamorous and I should go somewhere else. Then, she said she desperately needed volunteers. I kept repeating, "I just want to help. What can I do?" She accused me of "interrupting her" and that she "couldn't get a word in". Then she said, "It sounds like you're high on caffeine or something. I don't think we're a good fit. This isn't the group for you." Click. I was on the brink of tears. Strike 3.

Are you f*cking kidding me? How can I be turned down for volunteering from THREE different groups? Are there really that many volunteers out there? Screw that! I don't want to help unless I'm needed. I would think they would welcome me with open arms. At this point, I'm taking a hiatus. To be honest, I'm very busy and want to be careful about giving away my precious time. I am concentrating on finishing my postdoc and searching for a job, not to mention gearing up for another Ironman (and I have A LOT of work cut out for me to whip my ass back into shape after my hibernation). Finally, I want to carve out some time for myself...working on some of my memoir writing projects, watercolor painting, hiking with Travis, and horseback riding (I may actually end up volunteering for Pony Club, which I was involved in heavily as a girl; this would mesh my strange urge to volunteer with my love of horses and mentoring kids). I even have the urge to learn how to play the guitar! Needless to say, I have my hands full. I certainly don't need to waste my efforts on areas that aren't rewarding. Those guys can SUCK IT!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Moving Forward

"The best way out is always through."
--Robert Frost

Week 3. I am moving forward. Travis has really completed my life. I am discovering new trails, new parks, new beaches. We go everywhere together.

My dad sent me the lyrics from a Carrie Underwood song:
"And, I, I close my eyes; And, I kiss that frog
Each time finding
The more boys I meet
the more I love my dog"

Travis and I are doing great. I'm healing well. Last night, I redecorated. I love having my own schedule, my own freedom, the liberty to try new things I've always wanted. I can turn the heat on whenever I want, I can go to bed whenever I want, watch whatever I want on tv, listen to whatever music I want; I'm loving it. I've never had such freedom before.

I've enjoyed my off season. I'm ready to start getting back into shape, preparing for Ironman Utah. November will be all about getting my body used to consistent, regular workouts again without overdoing it. Saturday, I went for a short, hard ride. Such an adrenaline rush. Sunday, I ran a very slow 9-miles on trails. Later, Travis and I hiked down to the beach. Travis guarantees I will always be moving out in the fresh air and sunshine!

Moving forward. One step at a time.

My friend e-mailed me this:
Dogs do not have problems expressing affection in public.
Dogs miss you when you're gone.
You never wonder if your dog is good enough for you.
Dogs feel guilt when they've done something wrong.
Dog's don't brag about whom they have slept with.
Dogs don't criticize your friends.
Dogs admit when they're jealous.
Dogs do not play games with you--except fetch (and they never laugh at how you throw).
Dogs are happy with any video you choose to rent, because they know the most important thing is that you're together.
Dogs don't feel threatened by your intelligence.
You can train a dog.
Dogs are already in touch with their inner puppies.
You are never suspicious of your dog's dreams.
Gorgeous dogs don't know they're gorgeous.
The worst social disease you can get from dogs is fleas.
Dogs understand what "no" means.
Dogs don't need therapy to undo their bad socialization.
Dogs don't make a practice of killing their own species.
Dogs understand if some of their friends can't come insde.
Dogs think you're a culinary genius.
You can house train a dog.
You can force a dog to take a bath.
Dogs don't correct your stories.
Middle-aged dogs don't feel the need to abandon you for a younger owner.
Dogs aren't threatened by a woman with short hair.
Dogs aren't threatened by two women with short hair.
Dogs don't mind if you do all the driving.
Dogs don't step on the imaginary brake.
Dogs admit it when they're lost.
Dogs don't weigh down your purse with their stuff.
Dogs do not care whether you shave your legs.
Dogs take care of their own needs.
Dogs aren't threatened if you earn more than they do.
Dogs mean it when they kiss you.
Dogs are nice to your relatives.