Saturday, December 24, 2005


But I think Christmas is organized. I'm glad to be back in my own house--my mother is celebrating Christmas with my sisters in Connecticut and my sister Sheila had her vacation before Christmas and went back to Perkins. We leave the 27th for Belize. I got in two swims this past week, my two three mile runs and a 7.1 mile run, and two shortish bike rides. But the rest of my time since we got back from Concord has been spent getting ready for Christmas.

Friday, December 16, 2005

getting away from rigid thinking

I grew up in a family where there was only one right way of doing things (my mother's way), and I still fall easily into rigid thinking. Having decided to increase my long run by 1/2 mile a week, it literally never occurred to me that I could increase it by 1/2 mile some weeks and by 1 mile other weeks.

I'm trying to remember there are alternatives to that rigid thinking that says life is about trying hard to do everything right. Rather than looking for the right way to do something, I can look for flow and smoothness and creativity. I was talking to someone about my inner work and said that we need to think not in terms of getting it right but in terms of creativity. I imagine a choreographer saying: "Try this. No, that didn't work, try this." It isn't a matter of fixed right and wrong but of trying different things and feeling out what gives the most satisfying result.

We are off tomorrow for a visit to my mother, back Tuesday.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

one of those days

My alarm went off at 5:10 am for swimming. I went outside and there wasn't any ice on the driveway but there was a lot on the trees. I decided I've gone to too many things here in South Carolina in winter weather I thought was driveable only to find the building dark and locked. So I tried to find out if my daughter's school was closed, but it was too early for school closing reports.

About 8 am I called one of my son's teachers and heard that it was raining there but might get colder later, so I decided to try to head on up to pick him up. I didn't see any ice on the roads but the trees were bent over with ice and in many places trees were down blocking one lane of the road. Up at the Eastern Continental Divide on Highway 25 near Hendersonville there was slush on the road for a while, but then it got better again.

When I got to the school their power was out. The transformer at the school had blown, so they weren't expecting to get it back any time soon. I picked up my son, and when we got going he said he wasn't feeling well. We stopped at a barbecue restaurant to get some lunch and he threw up. I took my lunch to go but since the smell had bothered him so much I didn't eat it until I got home. So we set out for home, with my son crying in frustration over having the stomach flu.

We got down off the mountain and then came to a closed road, probably because wires were down. I thought I knew a back way, but I ended up making a circle and coming to the same roadblock again. I followed some cars another way and was able to get past the blocked road without having to sit in the same detour traffic jam a second time.

My son threw up again when we were most of the way home. I had provided him with a bag and at that point I just kept driving, feeling that we most of all needed to get home as quickly as possible. He was saying: "No, Stop, I can't breathe" to his stomach. We made it safely home about 2:30 pm. He has continued to be sick but at least I had a chance to eat and we are at home. We are supposed to be flying to Massachusetts Saturday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

exam done

I gave my last exam for the semester today. Only one lost sheep who had his schedule wrong and missed it. The next problem is weather--I am supposed to pick up my son tomorrow and the weather report up in the mountains where he is is for freezing rain. At least I got in my long run today, 6 1/2 miles.

I was writing an email today about being an older athlete. I've heard that people who take up running in mid life can expect to improve for 7 years, so I'm certainly still at a point where I can seek to beat my own personal best times. But eventually age wins. I imagined then that the goal might be to run and bike and swim more and more smoothly and efficiently. To flow rather than fight. I read a newspaper article a few years ago that talked about flow as what brings us happiness, and I was excited to be given the words to describe something I knew from experience.

Monday, December 12, 2005

believing in myself

I posted a message on my triathlon email group looking for feedback on my idea of doing a half marathon in February. Most people said go for it, your training is fine for what you want to do. But a few advised me not to rush it but rather to give myself more time to build up slowly. I got defensive and wrote:
Am I foolishly risking injury? That is the danger, but I'm trying to be careful and will drop the idea if I start to have problems in my training. I think I can probably do it safely if I don't push myself too much. Am I interfering with the seriousness of the event for real runners? I will be careful to start in the back and not get in anyone's way, and if the race organizers specify a 4 hour cutoff, I assume I won't be the only slow one. I want to do it because it would be fun and exciting and inspiring and I would be immensely proud of myself, no matter how slow I am. I don't have to be good at this (even relative to my age) to have fun and to be proud of myself.
Several people pointed out to me backchannel that I am a real runner. Oops, that was a revealing slip.

And then I went to the race site and the cutoff is now listed as three hours and I temporarily lost my confidence. There are programs that predict your time at one distance from another, and those predict from my best 5K time a half marathon time of about 2:50, but I'm not going to expect to be able to do that with less than ideal training. However, I know these race directors are very friendly about people finishing after the cutoff.

I did a three mile run this morning and it felt good and I got my confidence back. Maybe I just need to keep telling myself I am a real runner. If my knee and hip hold out and I do the half marathon I will do it more in the spirit of an organized century bicycle ride than of a race, but I will feel I have accomplished something big, and that is what it is all about.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

born alone

For several months a poem I memorized years ago has been popping up in my head now and again:
Now Let No Charitable Hope

Now let no charitable hope
Confuse my mind with images
Of eagle and of antelope:
I am by nature none of these.

I was, being human, born alone;
I am, being woman, hard beset;
I live by squeezing from a stone
What little nourishment I get.

In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear,
And none has quite escaped my smile.
I was convinced it was by Dorothy Parker (famous for "Men don't make passes/ at girls who wear glasses") but it turns out to be by Elinor Wylie.

But what struck me this week is that I am trying to learn to really believe something different: that I was, being human, born in intimate relationship with God.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


I went for a 6 month appointment with my doctor--she has wanted me to come in every 6 months because of the diabetes. It seems silly. I tested my A1c with a home test kit, which I then took in for the doctor to see. A1c measures average blood sugar for three months; mine was 5.1 (normal range is 4.7-5.7). My doctor said she has never seen anyone control their diabetes the way I have. I wish she didn't see what I am doing as quite so remarkable--it is as if she couldn't imagine that anyone else could do it. My approach suits a certain personality (who likes the idea of "my body, my science experiment"), but it isn't that hard. I don't do it by iron will or self-discipline or obsession but by finding what I enjoy and ways to work around things that cause me problems. I had a cup of supermarket eggnog today before I went out for a slow 6 mile run. It is something I used to enjoy that I couldn't normally have now, but it made a good source of fuel when I was going out for a long slow run right before lunch. (I know it wouldn't work for most people, but I have a cast iron stomach.) The exercise I am doing is a lot (about 10 hours a week) but it is an adventure for me. I told several people today how excited I am by the possibility of running the Clemson Half Marathon. I think I would even be prouder of than than I will be of doing my first international distance triathlon.

I did get one piece of useful feedback by going to the doctor--I got my hemoglobin tested and it was 13.2 (excellent--normal range for women is 12.1-15.1). I have a tendency to be low and since I'm having increased bleeding as a symptom of moving towards menopause it is something I need to manage carefully. Clearly what I am doing (Slow-Fe iron tablets about twice a week) is working.

Monday, December 05, 2005

further reflections

I like the quote Dave gave in his comment:
To ask for what we want is human, to accept what we are given is grace.
But I can accept that for adults more than I can for a child in pain she can't understand.

A friend commented by email that while things won't necessarily be well for individuals, she believes God is at work in leading the human race somewhere through all our pain and struggle. I believe that too, but it doesn't work for me as a way to live with the problem of undeserved suffering. I don't believe that a particular person's suffering is necessary to God's plan. (update 12/7: I didn't mean to imply God has a specific plan but something more like that God's intention for the world includes us learning by trial and error.)

I think the most helpful thing I have heard is the idea of just trying to be at peace when things aren't going to be ok. Peace is a good thing, whether justified or not, and I can see that if I am walking with someone going through a hard time I will be a better companion if I can find peace in myself than if I am frustrated that things aren't getting better.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

postal swim meet

I got the preliminary results for the 3,000 yard swim I did. I get the prize for bravery in participating--the slowest time posted (at least among the women). I didn't previously have a record of my final time; it was 1:26:55. I did the first 2,000 yards in 59 minutes so my time for the last 1,000 yards (done separately) was 28 minutes. I'm happy with that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

November totals

swim 13 workouts, 15 hours
bike 8 workouts, 21 1/2 hours
run 13 workouts, 47.7 miles (approx. 12 hours)

That is an increase in totals from last month in all three sports. Weekends away and weeks where I didn't get out on the bike during the workweek cut my number of bike workouts, but I got in long rides.

Today my long run was 5.5 miles, and we had done a breaststroke kick set at masters swim practice this morning. My legs were pretty sore by the time my run was done, but nothing that felt like injury.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


We had a good time at St. Christopher's talking with a historian of science who is currently working on science in the heroic age of Antarctic exploration. He has previously written several books on evolution. I was still sitting at brunch when he stopped by to say goodbye. When he had left, the woman sitting next to me said she had seen him quoted (assumably on the subject of evolution) and asked me if he took a Christian approach and talked about creationism. I said he is a Christian who believes in evolution, there are plenty of those. She started to say something and then stopped herself.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

what God gives us

Yes, I notice that I left out a line of the Johnny Appleseed grace. It actually says:
And so I thank the Lord
For giving me the things I need:
The sun, the rain and the appleseed;
But then I don't believe that God does give us everything we need, or in Julian of Norwich's words: "All will be well."

I try very hard to believe in God's abundance, particularly in the sense of not seeing life as a zero-sum game. But I also have seen friends who tried so hard to heal and make a life and just kept getting beaten down by more bad things happening. One friend in particular is at peace now, but I don't believe God gave her in her lifetime enough for her to find any way out of terrible suffering, even though she tried so hard for so long.

I don't like the theory that God doesn't intervene because that would take away our free will--follow that to its logical conclusion and you end up believing God never intervenes, and what use is that? I certainly don't believe that God sends us bad experiences for our own good (though we may in the end be able to extract good from them). So I end up believing that God does help us, but not enough. For some reason (something like it causes too much confusion if God goes around violating the laws of nature), God can't help us very much, but God tries and we can look for that.

I don't believe we are necessarily going to get what we need, only that we can focus on what God does give us. Barbara Crafton says today:
Live in the present, but live also in hopeful preparation for good things. That way, your happiness is increased: you get to anticipate delight and then you get to enjoy it.

Now, the reverse isn't true: we're never well served by dreading the future. It just ensures that we will experience every bad thing twice, once before it happens and then again when it does.
It isn't good logic, but looking on the good side I find helpful as a way to live.

Friday, November 25, 2005

long bike ride

I skipped lunch today to take a 50 mile bike ride and had a lovely time. A few stretches were on busy roads but by going that far I got to the prettiest country roads. A turf farm is rather a funny sight--all those fields of lawn. I also went out before breakfast on the beach with my daughter on the kids' mountain bikes. It was very beautiful.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


We are at St. Christophers for Thanksgiving for the third year. I got up about 6:30 this morning and ran on the beach. I saw dolphins and pelicans and the sun rising out of the water. I ran 5 miles for the first time, here where I first started running a year and a half ago. I was very thankful. For a while a Thanksgiving song ran through my head:
The Lord is good to me
And so I thank the Lord
For the sun and the rain and the apple seed
The Lord is good to me.
After brunch I went for a two hour bike ride, but that was as much as I was going to enjoy. A beautiful day but windy, and my legs were tired.

Monday, November 21, 2005


The trouble with having release time to do administrative work (organizing the STS program) is that administrative work comes in much smaller pieces than teaching so I feel like I am juggling many more balls and not keeping track of them all. I got lots of bits done today but I have a feeling there are more I am missing. I need the stress relief of running and didn't go out this morning because of cold rain. It has hardly rained here all fall; I've forgotten I can run in the rain. I need to go to a lecture at 5:30--I don't know whether I will try to go out and run later this evening. It won't be any darker than at 5:30 am.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

C. S. Lewis

The New Yorker has a startling piece this week on C. S. Lewis. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia as a child but when I tried reading them to my children I was bothered by the British social snobbery (most noticeable in the beavers who are condescending described as honorable poor people). I think I read one of Lewis's Christian books, or maybe I have just heard them referred to so many times I think I have. The article points out that there is a different view of Lewis than the Christian one. I don't agree with the conclusions drawn, for example the author apparently cannot grasp at all the religious value of doubt. But the article is full of fascinating things I didn't know about Lewis, as well as a very interesting critique of the Christian symbolism in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Friday, November 18, 2005

fathers and God

The book that started me on the journey towards being baptised (in 1981) and joining a church was Beyond God the Father by Mary Daly. So I'm not someone who thinks of God as father, in fact I am careful not to use "he" for God. But child experience still has a lot to do with our concepts of God. I realized yesterday while talking with my spiritual director that because I am feeling so abandoned by the death of my fathers (one when I was two and one not quite two months ago) I am feeling disconnected from God. She talked about feeling that God is present so everything will be ok. I felt that implied that God would protect us and I very intensely said God can't be counted on to do that. I do believe that when I was a child God helped me survive, but oh I needed so much more.

I tend to experience God with me in the healing process, but before I turn that corner to healing I'm not good at being aware of God with me. I think I'm beginning to turn the corner, at least to work more productively on the abandonment feelings. I'm glad to be reminded to look for God.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

long run

I ran 4 1/2 miles yesterday in about an hour and 7 minutes--a bit faster pace than my 4 mile long run last week because I was worried about it getting dark. My hip was sore afterwards but stretching seemed to help. What impressed me most was how I settled in and didn't think about what I was doing and the time passed quickly. I had swum in the morning but then had a busy day with teaching and finishing up preliminary interviews for the search I am running and it felt really good to get out and run. If I can keep increasing my long run by 1/2 mile a week I will run the Clemson Half Marathon in February. I think my husband and daughter are going to speedwalk the 5k held at the same time. The cutoffs are four hours for the half marathon (I hope to do it in three) and one hour for the 5k, so it is definitely a slow people welcome event.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


I discovered two mistakes today. I arranged with the other members of the search committee to do telephone interviews Monday, and then when I emailed the candidates I wrote Nov. 15 as the date for the interview. I sent a second email to one candidate saying Monday, and he pointed out the mistake and we straightened it out. I just this minute got an email from the other one saying that Monday will work for him too.

Then I started to fill out a form for my daughter to participate in the Duke University Talent Identification Program, and discovered that the postmark deadline was Nov. 1. I filled it out anyway and wrote a note asking for it to be considered late (explaining I lost track of it because my father had died). But there are some benefits to blogging. I went to their web site to put a link in this post, and discovered the deadline has been extended and I could sign up on-line!

A 2 1/2 hour bike ride had helped how badly I was feeling about the mistakes only a little, but a shower and finding that they can be fixed has me feeling much better.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

long swim

2,000 yards in 59 minutes! Not fast by real swimmer standards, but I am happy. And I didn't feel beat when I was done--if I had had time I would have been comfortable going for the whole 3,000 yards.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

hanging in there

I'm struggling with childhood feelings of being left alone with my pain. Worked on it yesterday but ended up somewhat retraumatized, though I also got to some healing. So I distract myself with my training. Today we were supposed to do a swim competition--3,000 yards (or however much I could do in an hour). It is what is called a postal swim meet: you swim wherever you usually swim and send in a time. But the coach forgot to set his alarm, and he was going to do all the timing, so when he didn't show up we couldn't do it. Beautiful weather this afternoon and the workshop I was supposed to go to was postponed so I got in a long run--4 miles. That is the farthest I have run, and it felt good.

Monday, November 07, 2005

home again

The conference was hard. I chaired one committee meeting and participated actively in three others. I went to two interest group meetings. I didn't get to many sessions but I heard a wonderful lecture on how discussions of Darwin's character have changed over time. I received an award.

The strangest thing was that when I stood up to say my few words when I received my award, I couldn't speak for a moment. I don't remember that ever happening to me before. It was partly that what I had written out presumed that the citation for the award would be focused differently than it was, but I was more aware of looking out and seeing all those people. I wonder if it was somehow a delayed reaction from my father's funeral--I was wearing the same pants and jacket and similarly standing at a high podium.

Thursday, November 03, 2005


I'm off later today to Minneapolis for a professional conference, where I am interviewing job candidates, chairing a committee that has a lot of work to do, participating in two other committees, and receiving an award. It is going to be exhausting.

Monday, October 31, 2005

October training

swim 10 workouts, 10 1/2 hours
bike 9 workouts, 21 hours
run 14 workouts, 42 miles

That's a big record for me for running. Travel and my father's death got in the way of biking very much--I got some good long rides in but 9 workouts is pretty sad.

home again

So many people told us what a wonderful memorial service it was. We kept the service short, but the receiving line took well more than an hour, and after the reception at the church family and out-of-town friends came back to the house. I got involved in talking to lots of people, then crashed about 7 pm (the service had started at 2 pm). We were staying with friends so we could leave. Sunday we went back to the house for a long meeting with the lawyer--no problems, just very complicated. Then we hurried to catch our plane home. I'm not doing too well underneath.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

cold weather

We had warm weather until Monday, and then suddenly it went from summer to winter: lows in the 40s and a cold cold wind. For several days I couldn't face going out on my bicycle in the cold, but finally today I got myself out for a little under two hours, wearing long sleeves and a wind vest and knickers and wool knee socks. It was lovely! I had forgotten how nice it is not to be hot.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

going in opposite directions

I did some more work with childhood feelings from my first father's death, and ended up angry that I had felt I had to help my mother and my feelings weren't honored. As an adult I am now trying to help my mother; Friday we head to Massachusetts for the memorial service.

Monday, October 24, 2005

the race I'm missing

If I weren't going away this weekend I would have been tempted to sign up for the Orange Crush Duathlon. Though I have my doubts--I looked at the run course map and it includes several of the worst hills in town. My husband gets his heart rate up to his max by walking those hills fast.

I ran 3.6 miles this morning, beginning to increase one run a week beyond the 3 miles three times a week I have been doing for several weeks. I want to do olympic distance triathlons next year, with a 10 K run (6.2 miles). I wouldn't mind doing some running races at that distance this winter, but there isn't much locally at distances in between 5 K and a half marathon.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


It is a week until the memorial service. I went to Talbots last week to try on the cotton sweater I was interested in, and they didn't have it. Instead, I found a very lightweight fitted boiled wool jacket in black. I bought purple and dark red lightweight stretch cotton-rayon long sleeved tees at Target, so I am all set.

I've been working with the feelings from my first father's death. I was discouraged from expressing those feelings when I was a child, and so I came to believe that if I let them out they would tear me apart. I had a safe place last night to let some out, and when I was done I felt so strange, as if I was now a different person.

Monday, October 17, 2005

running and life

My son's soccer coach told him to run over the break so I said I would wait for him to wake up so we could run together this morning. We set out on my new usual 3.1 mile out and back to the sewage treatment plant. For a little while he ran alongside me, then he started walking and then running to catch up (actually, if he walked fast he could walk as fast as I was running). I tried briefly running fast for me, but that was still easy for him. After we turned around he didn't catch up, but by the time I realized he was out of sight behind me I decided to just finish my run and then drive back and get him. I figured he probably hadn't been paying attention and wouldn't know the route back to the car. The last part of my run I was thinking about what I wanted to say to him about how he needs to find inside himself the willingness to work hard and the motivation to do his best. Then as I was finishing my walking cool down, he came running down the road to the car. I had to table everything I had been thinking about saying to him.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


The black dress I ordered came and I really wasn't very happy with the way it fit. I had ordered some black washable wool pants and they came and fit perfectly, so I'm going to go try the sweater.

Friday and Saturday was my son's parents weekend, then he came home for fall break. He's still struggling to get all his work done, but his teachers spoke positively about his contributions in class and his understanding the work. It was stressful having 10 minute conferences with all the teachers.

I got in a swim and a bicycle ride of nearly three hours today after church, so I'm behind on my next task to get done during fall break--reading files for a search committee I am chairing. No classes Monday, but I have to take my son to a doctors appointment and a dentist appointment, and that will eat up a lot of the day.

The memorial service for my father is Oct. 29, so we go up there not this week but the end of next week.

Monday, October 10, 2005


My daughter is on fall break this week, which means an hour more in my day and not having to be out of the house at 7:35 am to drive her to school. Today I headed out to run at 6:30 instead of 5:30 and got in 3 miles. It felt better than I expected after biking three hours Saturday and two and a half hours Sunday.

Night before last I had an elaborate dream that my husband had not brought me the shoes I asked for so I was going to have to get remarried barefoot. That persuaded me to order a pair of black clogs. I've been struggling with the question of what to wear to the memorial service for my father. I really don't ever dress up. I don't want to feel I am wearing a costume but I also want to give a positive impression. I don't think I can go with too simple an outfit because I don't ever wear jewelry (except a wedding ring); doing so would really feel like dressing up as someone else.

I think I will wear a black dress, for one thing because my daughter wants to wear a skirt. But I will wear clogs, as I don't want to stand all afternoon without my custom orthotics. The other approach I have considered is black wool pants and a black cardigan sweater, but I haven't found the right sweater. I would want something somewhat fitted and what I have found that interests me so far is cotton. My sister told me once I wasn't supposed to mix cotton and wool.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

nice weather

We had a couple of rainy days and last night's forecast was for 60% chance of showers today, so when I got up and it wasn't raining I went for a run (not quite 3 miles). When the sun rose I realized that the sky was mostly clear and it was warm and very humid. So instead of waiting until afternoon to ride my bike I decided to hurry to join an 8:30 am group ride. The group was doing 62 miles but I decided that after not riding for more than a week it would be unwise to do the whole ride, so I cut off after 28 and rode about 10 miles back to my car. The temperature was up to 80 by the time I got home.

Friday, October 07, 2005


I had a very sore shoulder yesterday--I left swim practice early in tears. It felt almost as sore when I woke up this morning, and by evening the soreness was almost gone. I did think from the beginning that it felt like muscle soreness, not an injury, but that is still weird. I happened to have a massage appointment yesterday and my massage therapist told me that according to a mind-body therapist he works with, shoulders carry grief. I don't feel like I have made any progress in working throught my grief that would make my shoulders better. I did spend an hour in a gathered silence group yesterday, but today has just been busy with work.

I'm doing Community of Hope pastoral care training at church and last night's session was about grief. I asked what is grief, anyway, and how do you feel it? What I finally figured out this morning is that grief isn't a feeling (like happiness or sadness or anger), it is a whole lot of different feelings that come as one adjusts to a loss or change.

An email from JW inspires me to give a little background. My father was a good person and a positive figure in my life, but he was very emotionally shut down. He showed love in actions, never in words or gestures. What strikes me now about losing him is how it changes the pattern and balance of family relationships. And I've lost my dream that this time I would be able to say goodbye--my first father died in an automobile accident a month before my third birthday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


I'm working on writing a tribute for my father. So many people would want to speak that it is going to be strictly limited to my father's sisters and daughters to keep the service short. My father's sisters and one of my sisters want to do readings, and my other sister wants to talk about what he meant to her. So any more general tribute will be what I do. My mother doesn't want a formal eulogy, so I am trying to put together brief telling anecdotes that add up to something like a story.

Monday, October 03, 2005

home again/Sept. training

I'm home after a weekend in Massachusetts with my mother. It went smoothly, but I don't think I am up to writing about it yet. I have started to write a tribute to my father for the memorial service Oct. 29.

So my month of training instead:

swim: 11 workouts, 10 hrs. 40 min
bike: 14 workouts, 24 hours
run: 12 workouts, 30 miles

The swim and bike are almost double the last couple of months and the run is 25% more, so I am happy with those numbers.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


I am currently teaching an STS course to about 125 students, and they tend to get very passive. Yesterday I started out by tying the history I wanted to cover (early textile factories in the U.S.) to current issues (via the theme of technology and democracy). I asked them about some currents issues and got no response. I felt angry and realized I was feeling angry because of all my feelings about my father. And then I decided to use that anger, and I told my students in no uncertain terms that they had better care because these things are going to have a big impact on their lives. I think it was a useful rant--they certainly paid more attention the rest of the class period.

I will be going up to Concord tomorrow just for the weekend, with my daughter. I had a lot of things I needed to get done this week, but I have had all day today to work in my office and I have made good progress.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

things are smoothing out

My mother found a funeral director in London willing to expedite the process and she and my sisters will be flying home tomorrow evening with the ashes (in a plastic box so that security doesn't have to inspect it). My daughter and I will go up to Massachusetts Friday just for the weekend.

I turned off my alarm this morning because the night before I lay awake and so I wanted to catch up on my sleep. That didn't work, though at least I slept until almost 5 am (a lot better than 3:30) and then I got up and went running. There were many cars going to the track, probably the big army ROTC group. So I decided to run on the road instead--part of it has a huge shoulder and part is a dead-end road to the sewage treatment plant so it is fairly safe running in the dark. It was lovely--the stars were bright and the dead end part of the road runs on top of the dike along the lake. I felt strong running up the gentle hills and fast running down and the temperature was perfect.

Monday, September 26, 2005

my father

shocking news

I learned a couple of hours ago that my (step)father died suddenly of a massive stroke this morning. I'm still in shock, not feeling anything clear yet. What happens next isn't going to be known for a while--my parents were getting ready to board a plane in London to come home from a trip. At least one of my sisters is going to London tonight.

Update: My mother called my sister this morning and said he was dead, but that turns out to have been premature. When they took him off the ventilator he didn't immediately die (as the doctor had predicted). Apparently it is just a matter of hours while the blood seeps down into the brain stem.

Further update: He died peacefully about 8:15 pm eastern U.S. time, one in the morning there.

Friday, September 23, 2005


There was a small group of ROTCers on the track this morning, probably Air Force or Marines. They were being trained in mindless obedience. At one point they jogged around the track several times chanting "Die for freedom, Die for liberty." I ran my 2 1/2 miles faster than usual.

For something completely different see: the giant pink bunny.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


and more here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I have such a hard time feeling the pattern of forgiveness--I didn't grow up with it. I was trying today to work with child feelings, with me as an older child who blamed me as a younger child for wanting the abuse. On one level I can understand it wasn't my fault, it is never the fault of a child. But there were things I did to provoke it, not knowing any better, and I thought maybe it would be more helpful to try to work with the idea of forgiving. The trouble is, it is just so hard to grasp that idea that one can say what I did sometimes made it worse but it can be forgiven, I am still deserving of love. I said I could feel that maybe 20%.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Second place in my age group!!

Actually there were only two women in my age group, but I'm still proud of my hat (which is embroidered with "age group 2nd place" on the back) and I had a good race. This was the Hartsville Sprint: swim 750 meters, bike 14 miles (actually 15.5 miles), run 5 K. My total time was a few seconds under 2 hours 5 min. Times on my watch were 22:39 swim, 1:00:44 bike, 36.41 run. In my first triathlon in May the swim and run distances were the same (bike was shorter) and my times were swim 25:02 and run 40:27.

Considering I got injured in July and spent half of August not able to swim, bike, or run, I'm very happy with that. Only in the last two weeks have I been able to swim freestyle without my shoulder hurting. I had requested my money back for this race back in July but when a friend contacted me last week and said she saw my name on the participant list I decided to do it after all (my cancellation hadn't been processed).

My son was home for the weekend, so my daughter and I had an early dinner at home and then hit the road. The only trouble was that I had misguessed the scale of the map showing where the race was and what I thought would be about a two hour and 15 minute drive took three hours, plus we learned it would take us at least half an hour to get from our motel to the race site in the morning.

We got up at 5:15 and got to the race site in good time, in fact it was still completely dark. I picked up my packet and my chip then unloaded my bike and started to set up in transition. No running shoes in my transition backpack! I went back to the car, hoping they had fallen out. No. I've driven all this way and gotten up at 5:15 on a Sunday morning and now what? I know I packed them, but I must have taken them out to pack something else and not put them back in. I began to contemplate whether it would work to run in the custom-orthotic sandals I was wearing. Then my daughter suggested I wear the shoes she was wearing. She wears a full size bigger than me, but my running shoes are larger than my regular shoes. I had recently bought her running shoes with a lot of arch support so I thought that might work, but it was nowhere near enough arch support for me. She suggested I add the arch supports I use in my bicycling shoes, and amazingly enough that worked very well.

We had planned a picnic breakfast, but by that point it was hard to think about eating. Still, I did eat grapes and cheese and a cracker with peanut butter (and then a banana just before the start). I went back to transition and put my eyeglasses in my helmet and put on my prescription goggles, and then we headed to the beach for announcements. There was both an international distance and a sprint distance race. For the bike, the international distance race was twice around the sprint loop (after an out and back section). They announced the international distance route was 27 miles instead of 25 as had been posted (I just checked the sprint route on Google Pedometer and got 15.5 miles).

As of two days before the race there were 90 registered for the sprint and 116 for the international distance so it wasn't a big race. I didn't go in the water before the swim, but the international distance waves went off first so watching them I realized the water stayed shallow for a long time. When my wave started I ended up running fairly far out--I watched the people around me who started swimming and I was keeping up with them. But then I was out of breath when I started to swim and it took me a while to settle down. The water was amazingly black and murky, except every now and then I could see a can on the bottom. When I finally settled down I had a comfortable swim and even passed someone.

I got happily onto my bike, but it seemed like the first five miles was all uphill, though not steep. With a fair number of international distance people finishing the swim behind me I probably passed and was passed about equally. I realized it was much hotter than I expected and one water bottle wasn't going to be enough, so I was very grateful that because of the international distance there was a water bottle handoff. I felt I kept up my level of effort, but I haven't gotten back to working on my speed on the bike.

My rack was near the edge of the transition area and my daughter talked me through the second transition to make sure I didn't forget to change the orthotics from one pair of shoes to the other or to put on my race belt. I did forget to take an electrolyte capsule, which I usually do if I drink two bottles of water. The run was gently uphill for the first mile and it felt really hard. I walked the water station. There was a downhill and then a steeper uphill to the turnaround, which I walked. But then suddenly it felt easy and I enjoyed running, though I did walk one more hill. On the first downhill on the way back I told everyone I passed who was behind me in the sprint that it felt much easier after the turn around. I pushed to catch up with a friend I saw ahead of me, but it wasn't easy to gain ground on her. We did talk as we ran for a little while and then I moved ahead a little. I ran the last bit to the finish enthusiastically, though I was a little disappointed I hadn't broken two hours (less so now when I adjust for the different length bike course--1 hour for 15.5 miles is about the same as 43 minutes for 11 miles).

My daughter and I decided to wait around for the awards and I was glad we did--I was excited about getting an age group award and my friend left after the race so I picked up her second place Athena hat for her. But it was terribly hot--the high today in that area was 96.6. We had a long drive home but it was good to be in an air conditioned car.

Official results:
overall time 2:04:56
23rd out of 28 women and ahead of 5 men
Swim 750 meters 22.14
T1 3:33
Bike 15 miles 1:00:46
T2 2:22
Run 5 K 36:02

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Christ School

My son is at Christ School, in Arden NC. The school does not bill itself as specializing in learning disabilities, but we picked it because it has a good support program. Thursday I got an email from a teacher, a weekly report, that said my son had not turned in his rough draft of his first major paper and should go talk to the teacher about it Friday because the paper is due Monday. Other reports show some missing homework. I told my son he needed to talk to the teacher before he came home for the weekend, and I alerted my son's advisor that I had done so. The advisor saw my son at 7:45 am and told him to go talk to the English teacher during extra help time at 8. He didn't. Meanwhile I contacted the learning resource teacher to ask if it would be a good idea to sign my son up for supervised study hall in the evenings, and he said yes, so I contacted the director of the learning resource program and signed my son up, starting Sunday. By the time my son got to his weekly meeting with his advisor Friday afternoon he was signed up for supervised study hall and mandatory extra help, and the advisor had made an appointment and walked him to meet with the English teacher then and there.

I am very relieved that the support my son needs is there, even his advisor walking him to an appointment with the English teacher. My son said he was "a little bit mad" at us when this all hit him, but I promised him when his grades are all B or above he won't have to do supervised study hall any more, and I pointed out that the mandatory extra help was the consequence of not going to see the English teacher when told to do so (by the teacher and his advisor). And all of this happened before the paper was actually due. I said to someone that I wanted a school where my son would get a second chance, and they immediately became worried that I thought my son would get into serious trouble. But that wasn't what I meant, this is what I meant. Not ending up hopelessly in a hole with his grades if he messes up.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


My hip that was bothering me is definitely getting better, and my shoulder is better, I can now breathe to both sides when I swim freestyle. So I'm psyched for the Hartsville Sprint Triathlon early this Sunday morning. I had cancelled out of this race in July, only they never processed my cancellation. I looked for a sprint distance race later in the fall, but I couldn't find one in reasonable driving distance. So when a friend said she had seen my name still listed, I decided to do it. I'm not expecting to be faster than in May--I'm too recently back to full training after my injury. But it will be fun! I will try to remember that while I get ready for a church class tonight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

many directions

I'm busy with STS and professional society business. But beneath that I wonder where I am going. I can't imagine that I can continue to expand in all directions equally. But which one? Last week I was talking about this with my husband and came up with a list of where I might put my additional energy as we move towards an empty nest and as my physical and internal healing gives me more energy. Over the next several years I could:
  • train for an ironman triathlon
  • focus on my spiritual life and expand my calling as a spiritual director
  • put my energy into doing much more with my scholarly research
  • expand what I am doing with Science, Technology and Society

Today for the second time I had a stranger call me looking for a spiritual director, and the conversation went well. I'm so happy to be back to my full training that I decided to do a sprint triathlon this upcoming weekend after all--I had cancelled out in July but they hadn't processed my cancellation. I'm really getting close to finishing the last research project and I'm excited about the next one. Doors continue to open for expanding STS at Clemson. So far I feel called to do it all.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I woke up this morning a little earlier than I wanted to, and realized after a while that "I want to run" was running around and around in my head. That seemed a little bizarre even to me, but I decided to listen. I usually run Mon. Wed. Fri, but I decided to go ahead and run Sunday instead of Monday. It was a lovely morning, but my hip does hurt more now. I had this problem when I first started and I kept going slowly and it slowly went away. It came back a couple of weeks ago when I tried picking up my feet more when I run. I've stopped doing that and I got my new orthotics and I'm putting ice on it and trusting it will go away.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ride Report: Tour de Paws

I did a 40 mile ride last weekend, the first ride over 30 miles I've done since mid-June. So signing up to do a rolling 61 mile ride today was pushing myself, and I had no goal to go fast. My riding partner and I decided to get an early start while it was still cool and we got off about 8:15. The peloton didn't pass us until after the first rest stop. The ride was extremely well organized--mostly lightly traveled roads and good rest stops and sag. We started and ended at a church that was open with bathrooms, etc.

The first 20 miles seemed easy, the second section was harder (and with one particularly steep hill). My riding partner started to have bad cramps in his legs and turned back after leaving the second rest stop. But after riding the sag wagon to the third rest stop he got back on his bike. I rode on when he stopped because of cramps again, but after pushing his bike up that hill he was able to ride the last 10 miles. He was having cramps in several different places in his legs so it may have been an electrolyte issue--I gave him a couple of succeed capsules, which I take when I ride long in hot weather. I started after reading the stories of the marathoners who were dangerously low on electrolytes--the newspaper coverage tended to say they drank too much water but the other side of that is not taking in enough sodium. It is hard to drink too much water--someone in a running group did a weight test recently and found he was losing a pound of water for every 20 minutes he ran.

The last 10 miles there were a couple of sections where I was hot and my back was sore and I wasn't enjoying myself. But then I would cheer up again when there was something interesting to see. I passed a big plant compressing natural gas and an apple orchard with branches so loaded with apples they were bent to the ground and I was passed twice by a tractor with a disk plow (uphill--I was as fast as he was downhill). After the ride I ate hot dogs without buns and tiny amounts of baked beans and chips and my blood glucose still went a little high--I don't have that post-exercise carb uptake that other people write about. Still, I did a couple of errands on the way home and got home feeling charged up, though my legs feel virtuously sore.

Friday, September 09, 2005

middle school

I gave a talk to my daughter's middle school class today, on the history of computers. I got lucky, I started out by asking them what questions one might ask about the history of computers and what I got from them had about a 60% overlap with what I had planned to cover. Then they didn't want to stop asking questions, some somewhat random. The school's computer projector turned out at the last minute to be missing--I should have commented on the dangers of dependence on technology. But I always somewhat enjoy having to wing it when the technology is down; the pieces tend to come together in interesting ways.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

bike ride

I had a lovely bike ride before dinner today in the new cooler weather. I just did my Old Six Mile Highway loop of a little more than an hour. About 3/4 of the way home I saw an owl fly over me and land in a tree near the road, and I stopped my bike to look at it. It was big and brown with no ear tufts--a barred owl. It felt like a good omen.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Hurricane Katrina

I believe in the principle that if you can't help someone who is in pain, at least don't avert your eyes. But I've been slow to understand and haven't had anything of my own to say. I read some of the live blog from New Orleans. I remember the mud we shoveled out of houses north of Charleston when I went for a weekend to help after hurricane Hugo. I invited my students to write reflections on what we might learn about technology from the situation in New Orleans.

What I would like to see discussed further is the future impact of global warming. Does it make any sense to rebuild a city much of which is already below sea level if sea level is going to increase 3 feet by the end of the century? That number comes from a Japanese environmental site, many estimates are lower but at least some of those presume no increase in the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere. Could New Orleans the commercial center be rebuilt somewhere else, leaving the old city as a tourist attaction only (as when Houston replaced Galveston)?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

visiting my son

My son's boarding school is less than two hours away, so we drove up this afternoon to take him out to dinner. He clearly is adjusting well. Still no complaints (though it is typical of him not to talk about problems until they are over). I asked him if the adjustment was still hard or whether it had started to get easier and he said it has gotten easier, the week had gone very fast. Progress reports from teachers are beginning to trickle in and look pretty good. The report from the math teacher was phrased rather negatively, but the learning resource teacher said my son understands his math so hopefully it is a matter of figuring out expectations. My son is rather proud that he is neater and more organized than his roommate--he is used to being the one everyone else tries to organize.

Friday, September 02, 2005

My new hero

is Sister Madonna Buder. She recently won her age group at Ironman Canada: swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles, all in 16 hours and 46 minutes. She is 75 years old and a Roman Catholic nun. She started running at age 48 and then took up triathlons. She holds two age group records at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii and four for Ironman Canada.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

August training

I started back to training after my accident about three weeks ago, but I had to start back slowly. I had only been able to do short rides on the exercise bike for three weeks before that. At swim practice I'm still doing mostly just kicking and one arm drills, but I've found a way to swim a gentle freestyle with a snorkel and underwater recovery that puts very little strain on my shoulder. I saw the doctor today and he moved my arm around and said the pain I still have is specifically associated with the AC joint(there isn't anything else wrong). He said we just heal more slowly at our age.

Swim: 5 workouts, about 5.8 hours
Bike: 14 workouts, about 10.6 hours
Run: 10 workouts, about 21 miles and 5.3 hours

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


As a teenager I once said something about being sweaty and my grandmother drew herself up and in an authoritarian tone said:
Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow.
She also complained that public displays of affection were inappropriate.

Monday, August 29, 2005

come see

When a toothless-sounding late middle-aged man driving a beat up car says to me "come 'ere, lady, and see this," my defenses go up. But it turned out he wanted to show me one of these on the ground next to the gas pump:

He kept saying he had never seen anything like it. I'm not sure I've got the right species, but it was a rhinocerous beetle or hercules beetle. It was big and still alive.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

partial race report

Step Toward a Cure 5K, benefiting the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation

My daughter's best friend was having her Bat Mitzvah at 10:30 am almost an hour away. So I knew a race starting at 8:30 am was marginal, but it started half a mile from my house and was for a good cause so I signed up. I rode around on my mountain bike for a while to warm up and then left my bike at the top of a steep hill near the park where the race started.

The really really frustrating thing was that the race started 10 minutes late. It was a hilly course and started up hill, but by half a mile or so I had the feel of keeping running up hill and speeding up down hill. The miles weren't marked (this was very much a local race, no numbers or chips) but it was 8:56 am when I got to the place where the route turned away from my home, so I decided I had to go home a shorter way. I ran back to my bicycle, though I slowed down a bit after I left the race. I got to my bicycle in 38:36 and hurried home to shower and throw on a dress.

I was ready to leave at 9:30 am, as I had planned, and I got very angry when my husband wasn't ready to go. I had told him that I needed him to be in the car waiting impatiently for me at 9:30. We actually got to the Bat Mitzvah in time, so I feel guilty for how angry I was.

But I was very disappointed not to be able to finish the race, so it was very frustrating to sacrifice what I wanted to do in order to be on time and then have to wait for him. When we got home again after the Bat Mitzvah I drove the route I ran to see how long it was. To my surprise it was 3.1 miles, according to my car odometer. I don't know if the race route was long or whether I was wrong in thinking my route would be shorter. My fastest race pace yet, and on a hillier course: 12.4 minute miles.

It was actually the first real 5 K race I have entered, running only instead of a triathlon. I started in the back of the group of runners (there were walkers too) and I think I passed more people than passed me. I felt like I belonged.

Friday, August 26, 2005

moving forward

It is still just such a shock to have my son away. But I'm also very busy with classes starting and needing to move forward with Science, Technology, and Society organizing. I didn't run today because I'm running at least part of a 5K race tomorrow. I have to be home and ready to go out to a Bat Mitzvah an hour after the start time, so depending on whether it starts on time I may cut off for home before the finish. I should have ridden my bike this evening, but I just felt so tired. I hadn't taken a day off from my training in more than a week, so maybe that was what I needed.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


My son has called several times to ask me to send things he needs and to report that he signed up to do volunteer work at a wolf park. No complaints (he's not a complainer). I feel better having heard from him and that he is managing things well enough to know what he needs (though a couple of things I told him he could buy himself).

My classes started today. I can't tell much yet about how the new general education requirements will change the students and their expectations in my course, beyond that I have a full classroom (125 students).

Monday, August 22, 2005


I suspect that the people who wrote this church sign only meant that with God all things are possible. But it strikes me that the deeper meaning is that it is hubris, particularly technological hubris, that does us in. We do much better when we admit that we are not in control.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


My son is at boarding school--my husband and daughter and I drove him up to Asheville yesterday so we could be there bright and early this morning. Everything went smoothly but it was a long day. It is hard now imagining him on his own. Thanks to those who sent support; it is a big scary transition.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

last minute panics

My son's new school sent lists of "what a student needs" and "what a student may bring." The list of needs includes 3-4 pairs of dress pants and 6-8 Oxford-style long-sleeved shirts. The list of what a student may bring includes "Cargo pants or shorts (NOT to be worn to class)." Nowhere on the lists is there any other mention of shorts or any mention of short-sleeved dress shirts.

I grew up in the northeast where men like my father wore long-sleeved dress shirts all summer, so it didn't even occur to me to think the lists unreasonable. At this school some days the boys wear polo shirts to class, and other days they have to wear dress shirts and tie. When another mother told me that the boys are allowed to wear dress shorts to class I figured that might be on the days when they can wear polo shirts. So only after I thought about it some more did I email my son's advisor to ask if the boys are allowed to wear short-sleeved dress shirts. She wrote: "The boys may wear 'dressy' khaki or dark colored shorts to class in the fall and spring. Short sleeved shirts with ties are also okay on tie days, and the shorts may be worn with them.... Most of the classrooms are not air-conditioned, so he will want some short sleeved shirts for the first few weeks, for sure."

I happened to have bought some dress shorts because I saw boys size 18 slim on sale. But I had to go to three department stores today to find short-sleeved Oxford cloth shirts in both white and blue, and the six shirts that I bought were all that the stores had in boys size 18 and 20 (I did also look for men's size 14 1/2 but there was very little available in that size). I would rather have ordered from Lands End, as the fabric is more comfortable, but it is too late for that. We take my son to school Saturday.

Be thinking of me Saturday. I was in tears of frustration after I succeeded in buying the shirts. It is going to be so hard to see my son go off to school.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I'm in a workshop all week on teaching online courses. It doesn't leave me much time, plus last night there was a long meeting at my daughter's school. In what time I have I'm organizing my son's clothing to take to school. I'm frustrated with the list I'm following. I talked to another parent last night and was told kids can wear dress shorts to class until Fall Break, which the list says isn't allowed.

My main conclusion so far is that online couses are a lot of work. But that's why I'm taking the time to sit in this workshop, because that means I get part of the work done for next summer. I do already have a lot of online material I use in my classroom classes. And I hope what I develop for an online course can be useful in the classroom courses too.

Yesterday I went back to swimming. I thought I would just do the kick set and leave, but the coach is working on basic skills so I was able to do pretty much the whole workout. I couldn't use my arms much but I could do a drill swimming three strokes and then 6 kicks without using my arms. I was very happy to be back to swimming.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

slowly back to my training

Wednesday the doctor told me I could resume my normal activities, except swimming. I ran 1 1/2 miles on Thursday and then stopped because my knee started to hurt. My massage therapist said it was an arch problem and so I put my newer custom orthotics into my running shoes and today ran 2 miles without pain. I think I was right to stop then; there is some soreness in my legs. Before the accident I was running 2 3/4 miles three days a week, so I'm discouraged by how much 2 1/2 weeks off has set me back. When I built up originally I had hip problems that I worked through by only increasing my three day a week runs by 1/4 mile each month. Hopefully I can build up more quickly this time.

My bike isn't ready yet, which is frustrating. The rubber on the brifters was torn, and when they replaced it the bike didn't shift properly. They finally figured out that the new rubber covers were the wrong model but now we have to wait for new ones to come in. In the meantime I am riding my yard sale mountain bike, 20 minutes yesterday, 40 minutes today. It doesn't hurt, but I do feel some strain in my shoulder.

I can go back to swimming in three weeks or so. I'm actually going to go back to my masters group when it starts up for the year next week, and do the kick set only. I am doing six arm and shoulder strengthening exercises given to me by the physical therapist.

I was scheduled to do my fourth sprint triathlon September 17, but I cancelled out of that. There is a race Sept. 25, the Octoberfest Triathlon in Hiawassee, Georgia, that would be easy to get to: the web site describes it as international distance but then says 8/10 mile swim, 17 mile bike, 4 mile run. Last year's winner's run time was 23 minutes, so that suggests it really is 4 miles, not six. Or I could do the Hickory Knob Triathlon Oct. 15 but that really is an international distance race--swim 1500 meters, bike 28 miles, run 6.2 miles--and it conflicts with my son's fall break.

So am I foolish to want to do a race this fall? The season starts in April here, so I'm surprised there aren't any sprint distance races in October. At least I haven't been able to find one within a half day's drive.

Friday, August 12, 2005

pictures from the July triathlon

The pictures from the professional photographer finally came and I wanted to see what the detail of the faces looked like. Here is the beginning of the first run and the finish:
The race report is here.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

no more sling!

I went to see the orthopedist yesterday and he said I didn't need to wear the sling any longer, can resume normal activities except swimming and lifting anything heavy with my right arm. That was faster than he had originally predicted and my bike isn't ready! I would have liked to get some credit for following all instructions and healing well.

The discouraging thing was I only ran a mile and a half this morning before my knee started to hurt. So I just rode to the bank and the bike shop (less than a mile round trip) on my yard sale mountain bike. Tomorrow I will try a longer ride. The bike shop figured out the problem with my good bike so it should be ready when the part comes in, tomorrow or Monday.

My daughter went back to school today and it makes my son going off to boarding school in a week and a half seem realer. Someone said that when their child went away they got intense about gathering the things the child needed as a way of avoiding their feelings of loss. And I realized that is what I am doing. I don't even know how to feel the loss.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

boarding school

I went into high gear when I got home ordering what my son needs for boarding school. The list includes a hunter green comforter, a color none of the usual mail order places are carrying this year. I finally found one (or close enough) at LL Bean.

When I was in college I bought a lot of my clothes in boys size 18, so I was suprised how hard it is to find boys size 18 and 20. The profits are higher for young men's clothing, I guess. Boys sizes are cheaper, and my son is getting tall (about 5 ft. 8 in.) but is so skinny that the smallest men's sizes don't really fit him. Lands End was the best bet (Talbots had everything at considerably higher cost) and I saved a few dollars in shipping by ordering Lands End items through Sears. I thought I had found lower-cost oxford cloth shirts at JC Penny online, but the color and size I wanted most were sold out. All of this took about 5 hours of searching and comparing, but I'm glad to have avoided malls and department stores.

Friday, August 05, 2005

July training

My first reaction was not to post training numbers when I can't even run because of my shoulder. But then I decided that I might as well have the comparison--I can feel good when it goes up again. I spent 10 days of July in Montana with no pool and a bike with an uncomfortable saddle. The last week of the month I was injured--the orthopedist said nothing but walking and the exercise bike. The exercise bike is so different from riding my real bike and so boring that I'm doing 1/2 hour sessions.


Swim: 6 sessions, about 6 1/2 hours
Run: 10 sessions, 27 miles, about 6 1/2 hours
Bike: 13 sessions, about 10 1/2 hours

Thursday, August 04, 2005


O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer: When I call, answer me.
O Lord hear my prayer, O Lord hear my prayer: Come and listen to me. (From Taize)

My favorite hike this year is up Wolf Mountain, the hill behind the boat house in the picture below. It takes me about an hour and a half round trip and is a good uphill workout.

Monday, August 01, 2005

good vacation

I took an hour and a half hike this morning up a nearby mountain, and was pleased I didn't have to stop to rest the way I used to. I used one of my husband's hiking poles, and that seemed to compensate well from the loss of balance of having my right arm in a sling. The weather is cloudy with occasional rain but it is so nice to have a break from the heat. We picked up the kids from sleepaway camp yesterday; they had a good time.

Friday, July 29, 2005


I'm trying to collect all the corrections I have received on my Forest Service at SRS manuscript to enter them next week when we are at Kanuga. I guess I will have time--last year I filled up my time hiking and biking and running and swimming, this year I will only be able to hike. But I'm feeling more positive about recovering from the injury; the exercises the physical therapist gave me have already resulted in improved range of motion in the shoulder. I was, however, sad to withdraw from the triathlon I had signed up for on Sept. 18.

Thursday, July 28, 2005


Some of my husband's pictures of the triathlon:
Finishing the first run, when things were still going well
Starting the second swim--you can see a little road rash on my shoulder but most of it is higher up. The paddle boat followed me and watched out for me during the swim

Running from the second swim to the finish--I think the photographer's photo shows more pain and this one shows more sense of accomplishment

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


are here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

doctor's appointment

The orthopedist told me I was very lucky--if I had hit a little further forward on my shoulder I would have broken something. He rated it as a grade 2 to 3 A-C separation. The bad news is that he wants me not to run for two weeks, and predicts I will be off the bike for 3-4 weeks and not swimming for 6-8 weeks. I told him I can't manage my diabetes without exercise and he suggested using an exercise bike. We actually have an old Schwinn Airdyne that I can ride no-handed, but I'm resisting the idea of being able to do only that. Next week we go for a week's vacation in North Carolina, where I have always loved swimming across the lake. At least I can hike.

The obvious thing to do at home is to walk hills in the morning and ride the exercise bike in the evening. But I'm not ready to be flexible and creative yet.

Monday, July 25, 2005


It is 97 degrees in this small town with a dew point of 76 degrees. When it is this hot dew point is a more useful number than the relative humidity because such hot air can hold a lot of water vapor--the relative humidity is 50% but it would only take cooling the air down to 76 degrees before the water vapor would have to start condensing out because the air couldn't hold it. The heat index is 110 degrees. I ran 2 miles about 7 am--humid but not unbearably hot and it didn't hurt my shoulder to run.

I ordered a new wheel for my bike--the bike should actually be ready by the end of the week. I have an orthopedist appointment tomorrow. I'm hoping for a better experience than the last time I saw a doctor in this practice, some 15 years ago. I was concerned then about my kneecap that occasionally dislocated and he said that he could cut the tendon on the other side so both sides would be equally weak. I said I would wait until they invented a better cure. A massage therapist taught me to stretch it and it hasn't gone out since.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

race results

swim 1: 13:30
run 1: 28:48
bike: 55:27
run 2: 28:21
swim 2: 20:42
total: 2:26:46

My second run shows up as shorter than my first run because the first run time includes going to the portapotty and then into transition and then being told to go out again and cross the mat. The second swim was swimming with one arm only.

I was third from last of the finishers and there were five who did not finish.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Race Report: J.F. Hurley Formula 1 Sprint Triathlon

swim: 375 meters
run: 1.9 miles
bike: 20 k
run: 1.9 miles
swim: 375 meters

Quick version: wiped out on my bike and got hurt but finished anyway: 2 hours 27 minutes by my watch.

Long version:

I was looking for a race that would fit into my schedule in late July or early Aug., and the format of this one in Salisbury NC sounded like a good idea for summer in the Carolinas. Set-Up runs both a North Carolina Triathlon Series and an Endurance Development Series which is less competitive--this was in the more serious series but I had focused on finding a good location and date and didn't think about that, since the first race I did was in South Carolina where there aren't separate series. When I checked a few days ago there were 8 women signed up in my age group: 50-54. It was about 2 1/2 hours drive from home so I decided to go up the night before and my husband went with me. I picked up my packet and we drove the bike course and then struggled to find a nice restaurant for dinner.

We had breakfast about 6:20 at a Waffle House--I had a very greasy omelette and one slice of wheat toast (because of diabetes I can't eat many carbs until the last hour before a race but my body is pretty well trained to burn fat). We got to the race site about 7 so I had plenty of time to set up and take a warmup swim before the 8 am start. I even ate a banana. The water was warmer than the pool I swim in and very murky. Before the start the organizer announced that each run was not 1.5 miles as advertised but 1.9 miles. I was in the fifth wave--all age group women. The start was from hanging onto a dock.

Because the first swim was half the distance of the first triathlon I did, I tried to push harder, but I got out of breath. I then settled in fairly comfortably, but I was a bit discouraged when the fastest swimmers in the next wave (3 minutes later) caught up to me at the turn buoy. I'm just a slow swimmer--seven months of coached swim practices with the masters group of the local swim team has gotten me only so far.

I put on my eyeglasses and socks and shoes on and headed out for the run. It was on a trail--fairly smooth though I felt a little hesitant on parts that were wet grass. It was all shaded, which was lovely, and three water stops. I felt good running and passed one person. However, I had been trying too hard to hydrate before the race for temperatures in the 80s even at 9 am and I was aware of needing to pee. I decided that while it wasn't pressing I didn't want to be worrying about it on the bike, so I stopped at a portapotty right by the entrance to transition. I then went into transition without running over the proper mat so I had to go back out again to run over the mat.

I changed shoes and put on my helmet. At the last minute I had bought a camelback, on the theory that it would be easier to drink the water I needed that way than from a waterbottle (I don't have aerobars). So I put that on and headed out on the bike. I thought the camelback worked well and it was more comfortable than I had expected. I also ate a large half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I felt good on the bike, which is relatively speaking my strongest leg, and passed about 6 people.

The bike course started and ended with the driveway to the park where the race was held, which had a speed bump. The race organizers had put a wooden ramp on the side of the speed bump where bikes approached in each direction, and going out I had felt comfortable going over it. Coming back in the driveway I was still going fairly fast, and when I went over the speed bump my bike started to go out of control on the other side. I oscillated back and forth for a terrible moment and then wiped out. Some people who had completed the race (the winning time was 1:09) were headed out the driveway for a run, and they immediately came up to me and asked me if I was ok. I had no idea. As the first pain subsided I though maybe I was, and stood up. I had road rash on my knee and shoulder, and clearly I had hurt muscles in my shoulder, but my knee felt fine other than the skin and the shoulder wasn't terrible.

My first thought lying on the ground once I realized I was in one piece was frustration that I came all this way to not finish. When I picked myself up I realized I might try to finish. My bike wouldn't roll-I had broken 13 spokes on the front wheel--but I was only maybe 200 or 300 yards from the bike finish. The people who had stopped to help me suggested taking off my bike shoes and walking in my socks--we tried putting my bike shoes in the empty water bottle cages and velcroing them to the top tube but in both cases they fell off almost immediately. I finally stuck them in the back waist of my tri-shorts. I lifted the front wheel of the bike and let it roll on the back wheel and walked to the bike finish. As I went past the medical vehicle I called out that I thought I was going to try to finish the race but could use some antibiotic ointment. Two overweight EMTs moved so slowly that I gave up and kept going. I was disappointed not to see my husband--he thought he had missed me and had left the bike finish.

I took off my helmet and changed shoes and headed out on the second run, and it didn't feel badly. I was aware my shoulder was hurt, but I wasn't aggravating it by running. I was a bit shaken by stress and pain and ran even more slowly than usual, but I didn't feel badly about that--my only goal was to finish. The second run was the same course as the first. The kids handing out water saw my bleeding knee and were concerned about me. It was only oozing--the blood didn't reach my sock. I started crying coming into the run finish, but it was mostly feeling alone.

I ran back into transition and took off my shoes and it wasn't easy to put on my swim cap. I was aware that my shoulder might hurt too much when I started the second swim, but I had now invested a lot in trying to finish. As I went into the water I said to someone supervising the dock that I had wiped out on the bike and hurt my shoulder and didn't know if I would be able to swim. I just meant that I might have to turn back, but my husband says she told a paddle boat to accompany me. Lifting my arm didn't hurt that much, but pulling hurt a lot. I tried breast stroke and it was the same problem. So I tried swimming with one arm only, the sore arm bent at my waist. That felt comfortable. I've done one arm drills in swim practice, but in this case I didn't try to rotate both ways but rather swam somewhat on my side. I got into a comfortable rhythm, and I actually enjoyed the swim more than I did the first swim. I didn't hurry, just found what worked for me and I could keep up. My only problem was my goggles fogged up and I had a hard time seeing the swim finish. By that point I had two paddle boats accompanying me and they told me which way to head. When I got to the finish I told the volunteer helping me up onto a wooden ramp not to touch my right arm.

The group at the swim finish cheered for me and there was someone manning the finish line, but no longer an announcer. I had assumed the cut-off time for the race was 2 1/2 hours (actually it was listed on the web site as two hours) and so I was very happy to look at my watch and see I had finished in under 2 1/2 hours. I wasn't even last; there was someone still swimming when I finished.

My husband half carried my bike to the car and I went back to the EMT vehicle. They said they had run out of antibiotic ointment, and I refused their suggestion of disinfecting it with alcohol. We had planned to go back to our hotel so I could shower and I had some antibiotic ointment there. The EMT moved my arm through a range of motion and none of it hurt much, so I figured nothing was broken. The trick is that it doesn't hurt much when someone moves it for me but it hurts a lot when it has to lift its own weight.

I showered and changed and we got in the car to drive home with a bag of ice to put on my shoulder. I didn't notice until we made a pit stop that my forehead was bruised--apparently I hit hard enough that my helmet raised a bruise on my head. We stopped for lunch at Carolina Barbecue in Spartanburg and a man working in the kitchen (the only African-American there) saw that there was blood on my knee (I had washed it up but it was still oozing a little). He brought me a wet washcloth to wipe it off with and a giant bandaid. We had a good lunch and the waitress gave me a fresh bag of ice for my shoulder. As I left I looked through the kitchen window and said to the man: "God bless you--the kindness of strangers means a lot." He said "God bless you, sister."

By the time we got close to home I had decided to go to the urgent care center near my home. They cleaned up my road rash some (with a sponge--ouch!). The doctor said I should have an x-ray because sometimes a shoulder can be mildly dislocated and it only shows up on an x-ray. I thought they were just making money off me, but the x-ray showed separation of the A-C joint between the collarbone and the shoulder. It apparently wasn't very severe--the doctor thought I could just wear a sling for a couple of weeks but when I started asking about when I could go back to swimming he suggested seeing an orthopedist.

So I'm home with my arm in a sling. Anyone have experience with shoulder separation and know whether I can run in a few days, and bike if it doesn't hurt? I don't know how quickly I will be able to get an appointment with the orthopedist. My first problem is how am I going to wash my hair when it hurts so much to raise my arm, but I will put that off until tomorrow. My husband dropped my bike off at the bike shop but didn't learn much except that with that many broken spokes they felt I needed a new wheel.

I'm glad I finished--it gives me something to feel good about instead of feeling disappointment. But I certainly hope that I'm not laid up too long. If I can't exercise I'm going to have to go on a really restricted diet to control my blood sugar.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

a morning at the dentist

I had never gotten a crown before, but I boldly said I wanted to do the two I needed at once because I hate the feeling of the local anesthetic wearing off. It worked: my dentist has the technology to produce the final crown while you wait, so I was out of the office in about two hours with both crowns completely done.

I got up early to run beforehand, wanting those endorphins in my body for the dental work. And I took a walkman-style CD player even though I rarely listen to music. For the drilling part I listened to Sacred Ground by Sweet Honey in the Rock. It really helped, both to take me someplace else and to help with the noise of the drill. I wished I had brought something to help me with the smell--that became the most unpleasant thing.

After I had been home a little while I suddenly had the idea of going bike riding. I figured that would distract me from my tingling jaw and maybe even pump more blood and clear the medication faster. At the end of an hours ride I could talk comfortably again (and I had even thought to put on chapstick). It is a new pattern to me, to exercise to feel better.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

training theory

Chris on TRI-DRS says:
Improvement in cycling is almost directly proportional to the mileage you accumulate. When planning my training I consider these a very basic rules of thumb - swimming responds first to technique and second to intensity; running responds first to frequency and second to intensity; and riding responds first to volume and second to intensity.
That sounds right to me--time for more long bicycle rides. I just need to organize myself to get out early, at 8 am it is 76 degrees and 100% humidity. High of 95 degrees yesterday.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Elkhorn Ranch

The cabins and other buildings of the ranch are visible at the end of the valley. One of the longest all-day rides goes to the inverted-v-shaped dark area in the snow-capped mountain in the distance. If you click on the picture you can see a larger version.

I was so hopeful that I had stretched out the tendon that gave me such trouble when we went to the ranch 5 years ago, and I would be able to ride comfortably. I didn't have the same sharp pain on the outside of my knees, but when I tried to do an all day ride (7 hours total, 5 hours in the saddle) I came back in tears from the pain in my legs. Nothing I've done in triathlons has hurt that much. After that I stuck to half day rides and enjoyed the views enough to outweigh the minor pain. I'm sure if I rode once or twice a week for a year I could build my legs up to it, but I'm not that interested in riding.

We got home early Sunday morning--our 7 pm Saturday flight to from Cinncinnati to Greenville-Spartanburg was cancelled and they put us on a 11:10 pm flight. Early Sunday afternoon we took the kids to North Carolina for two weeks of sleepaway camp. So I'm just settling in to being home. It was hot (80s) in the afternoons in Montana, though where we were at 6800 feet it went down to the 40s at night. The biggest shock coming home is the humidity--at that altitude the air is very dry.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


View from our hike Friday, with Old Faithful erupting in the distance.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

getting ready to go away again

We actually had a fairly quiet holiday weekend: yesterday I ran in the morning but then instead of a bike ride we did a family hike and then picked blackberries and blueberries. Except my son who was in tennis camp from 8:30 am to 5 pm--an awful lot of tennis in the hot part of the summer. Thursday we leave again for a couple of days in Yellowstone and then Elkhorn Ranch. When we get back the kids leave the next day for two weeks of sleepaway camp, so there is a lot to get organized now.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

training totals for June

Swim: 13 sessions totaling 10.7 hours
Bike: 11 sessions totaling 22.4 hours
Run: 11 sessions totaling 27.5 miles (about 6 1/2 hours)

That compares to 10 1/2 hours, 15 hours, and 28 1/2 miles last month, so I am more consistent than I feel.

accepting bad days

Susan wrote:
I'm chalking it up to needing a bad run to have a great one tomorrow.
I had just run into that idea yesterday and it is a new one for me (in life, not just in running), seeing the bad days as a step towards the good days.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005


I'm not a collector, but I like using stamps that have meaning to me. The recent architecture stamps include a house I once housesat in. Today I went to the post office and when I saw stamps honoring U.S. scientists, I bought a set. I'm very amused by the selection of scientists. That there is a token woman is no suprise: Barbara McClintock. The others are Josiah Willard Gibbs, John von Neumann, and Richard Feynman. I'm surprised the Joseph Henry papers folks didn't get Joseph Henry in as the token 19th century scientist. What did it take to be an American scientist? von Neumann was not born in the United States, but he was apparently counted as more American than Einstein? Apparently there was a letter writing campaign to get Feynman on a stamp, so that may be the origin of this.

Monday, June 27, 2005

my mother

My mother has long had a tendency to take over my interests. When I got interested in horses in elementary school she went back to riding, and after I had lost interest and we had moved from New York City to Concord, Massachusetts, she bought a horse. In 11th grade in Concord I developed an interest in Concord authors. I moved on to major in history of science in college, but when my parents moved to New Jersey the year I graduated from college my mother got a very part time job working on the new edition of Thoreau's complete works.

Saturday before we left, my mother and my kids and I went for a walk. My son and I started talking about running--he is trying to figure out how I can be happy about running 13 minute miles when he feels slow running a 9 minute mile. My mother said: "In this family we reach our athletic peak late: when I was in my 40s and 50s I was winning championships." None of us asked her to tell us more and I wasn't paying much attention in those years (I turned 25 the year she turned 50), but I assume she was talking about winning championships in local horseshows.

In some old way I feel my accomplishments are less mine after her comment. Luckily it goes away when I run or bike or swim and feel myself using my body. One of the nice things about physical accomplishments is that they feel real physically.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

home again

I'm very glad to be back to my own home again. It is actually cooler here in South Carolina than it was in Boston.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


We took the ferry to Nantucket yesterday and rented two tandems. I planned what I thought was a short bike ride, but everyone else thought 12 miles was too much. I said if they didn't like what I planned they needed to get involved in the planning next time instead of leaving it to me.

Today is my 50th birthday. It isn't that I mind getting older--so far it has been a good thing--but being celebrated just makes me feel bad.

Friday, June 17, 2005


The wind was cold but the sun came out. And the herring gulls were nesting.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


It is hard to relax, but I am catching up on some sleep. This morning I took an early bike ride by myself, and then bicycled with my kids into town to shop. In the afternoon we all bicycled to the lighthouse and walked on the beach. The temperature didn't get above about 62, but a pleasant day none the less.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

pictures from Saturday

I'm in the wetsuit with red shoulders

Over 700 people is a lot

They announced my name as I was about to finish and that I was from South Carolina

race results

I finally found the race results.
swim .25 mi: 7:21
bike 10 mi: 44.48
run 3.5 mi: 44:26
Total 1:36:36
place: 719 out of 766

Transition is included in the bike time. My son timed my bike time as 37 minutes, which comes out to 16.2 mph. I'm again very happy with the running, which is a pace of 12.7 minutes a mile--a little faster than at the Clemson race in May and over a longer distance. I'm not at all sure that .25 miles is an accurate swim distance, though it is what is posted on the results page.

I've expanded the race report I posted yesterday now that we have our phone and internet working and I could spend more time on it.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Race Report: Hyannis Sprint Triathlon

I picked up my husband and kids at the Boston airport Friday afternoon, and we hit a lot of traffic driving to Cape Cod. We stopped at the race site to pick up my packet, and didn't get to the family summer house where we are staying until around 7. My first priority was to test out the bike my parents had had checked out so I could ride it. The bike seemed to work and fit fine--I rode with friction shifters when I biked seriously in college so I don't mind them (though these were on the stem when I prefer the downtube). I had ordered a Brooks B-17S to have a comfortable saddle and I struggled to get the old saddle off the clamp to put on my new one. Things went wrong though, when I decided to pump up the tires to make sure they were right, and the pump fell apart, after letting air out of the tire I was working on. We had to drive the bike to a gas station and pump it up with the air pump there, which is risky because it can overinflate the tires. The gauge didn't work well enough to get a pressure, so I had to estimate. I feared disaster, particularly since the bike has 27 inch tires, which is no longer a standard size, but it worked out ok. I packed up my gear and got to bed not too late.

My kids agreed to come with me to cheer me and take pictures. We left the house at 5:20 am Saturday, and even then we got stuck in an impossible traffic jam the last mile to get into the parking. Mmy father's car overheated, but I decided to keep going (turning it off when we were stopped in the traffic jam) and hope it cooled off during the race. We did get parked in time for me to quickly set up in the transition area. Then there was a long wait on the beach--the race started half an hour late.

The swim was shortened--the results list it as .25 mile but I think it was shorter than that--because of wind and a fairly rough sea. We were swimming in Nantucket Sound, not the open ocean but with a south wind it is a large enough area of open water that a pretty good swell builds up. The water was actually fairly warm; I think they said 67. I breathed to one side only and enjoyed the waves. Running up the beach was no fun, and I felt very slow in transition. But I didn't forget anything.

The 10 mile bike ride felt long because I had never been on the course before, but I passed a fair number of people and ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I felt I found a good pace, pushing myself but comfortable. Pretty views, and not much traffic.

The run was longer--I've seen it reported as 3.5 and 3.6 miles. I was dragging a bit but then the last mile I ran with a woman who caught up with me. We talked, and it made the run pass very quickly. I think I also ran faster than I would have to keep up with her. She sprinted to the finish and I didn't have that in me, but I was happy.

I was a bit sorer and more tired than the Clemson race--I pushed myself a little more and felt good about it.

But then when we got back into the car the warning light went on immediately and steam started coming out. I stopped the first likely place I saw--a Honda dealer. They said they couldn't work on the car, couldn't even put coolant in it because Audis take special coolant. But they told me I was only 2 miles from the only Audi dealer on Cape Cod, which did also have Saturday morning service. The Audi dealer said they couldn't look at it until Monday. My husband was at home, but it turned out the phone hadn't been turned on after the winter. I had to call an aunt to go over and tell him what was going on. She loaned him a car to come get us. The kids and I went to get some lunch, as it would take him at least 40 minutes to get to us (it took longer, as the car he borrowed had to be jumped). When we went back to the Audi dealer they had had a chance to look at the car and been able to fix it. The radiator fan had come unplugged. It took a gallon of coolant, so I had pushed it in how far I drove with it overheating, but no damage. We had to wait for my husband to arrive to tell him the car was fixed, but then finally we could head home. I was sticky with salt and really desperate for a shower--it was very hard to deal with the car (and being optimistic for the sake of my kids and show them how to think through car trouble) right after the race.

The car trouble really took away the glow of the race, but I'm getting some of it back and hope to get more back when I get the pictures.