Monday, May 30, 2005

home again

We had a good trip to Washington DC, but I have just had too much going on this month. This is important summer work time and I haven't gotten focused at all. Next is preparations for my daughter's graduation from 6th grade, leaving the school she has been at since she was 2. She wants to do a slide show of her photographs, so I need to borrow and learn to work a portable computer projector.

Before we left I got a new rear tire for my bicycle, after three flats in three weeks. It took me a while to realize that the problem was that I have ridden so steadily (probably 2500 miles since I got the bicycle last July) that I had actually worn the tire thin.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

my son's graduation

The Montessori school where my son has spent the last two years has a tradition where they give each graduating eighth grader an Indian name. They said of my son:
We name you "Raven." Raven is known for his great abillity to know himself and to move forward with courage. You have repeatedly given us insight into your great character without fuss and have entered our lives, however briefly, with grace and gentleness. Before we knew it, every one of us has felt blessed by your quiet presence. Raven also comes with the courage to step out and become peacemaker; a peacemaker who has the ability to do so without offending anyone. That is a great gift and will carry you far into your future in science. Go in peace, Raven. You are loved and respected by all of us.
That means particularly much to me because within the last month I had to tell my son's doctor that I didn't want the diagnosis "autistic spectrum disorder: high functioning" listed on my son's school medical form.

At the retreat before graduation my son was asked to tell a dream, no matter how unrealistic, of what he would accomplish in life. He wrote:
P. was an excellent zoologist. He discovered a species known as "granpt" which although rare, is a species that is even closer to humans than chimpanzees. It is extremely hard to find. He also helped the ecologists of the Galapagos Islands with a plan that made everyone happy. He was a person who wanted humans to coexist with animals, and was good at stopping arguments without offending anyone.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

contrasting approaches

My son was in a school play last week, and my daughter was in one today. Both were the kind of effort where the whole class participates. My son goes to a larger Montessori school (which goes through eighth grade) and the music teacher directed the middle school students in a very professionally-done play. My daughter goes to a more purist Montessori school, where the senior elementary (4th-6th grade kids) wrote and put together their own play with no adult help. They didn't even have help from parents with costumes. Very different experiences, and I'm not sure which one taught the kids more.

I'm going to the convent for the weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


The event photographer's photos are here.

I'm trying to get focused again. However, I have a lot of balls in the air for the Science and Technology in Society program, none of which are pressing. Not a situation in which I am efficient. Plus my parents are coming next week for my son's 8th grade graduation. Time to stop avoiding thinking about that.

Monday, May 16, 2005


My most realistic worry about the triathlon was that I would injure myself running. My preparation was working my way up to running 2 1/2 miles three times a week, but all on a track, which is softer than the road and flat. I am very pleased that I have been only a little sore. This morning I felt well enough to go back to running, though after 2 miles my legs started to feel sore and I stopped.

What amazes me is that when I practice I run a mile in about 14 minutes (slower than that today). In the triathlon, after swimming and biking, I ran 3.1 miles at 13 minutes a mile. That is still very slow, but it amazes me that instead of being tired and slow I was significantly faster. I've never run that fast in practice; I think my best time for two miles was around 26 min. 30 sec.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Race Report

Clemson Sprint Triathlon, May 14, 2005
750 meter swim
11 mile bike
5 kilometer run
Starting the evening before I was in a daze, pulled into myself. I actually slept fairly well, woke up only maybe half an hour early. I ate toast and cheese, put some additional food into my bag so I would have it if I wanted it (I didn't). My daughter and I got to the race site just about 7 am, and I put my bike on the rack and laid out my gear first. There was enough time so I didn't feel too stressed about waiting in line to pick up the chip I would wear on my ankle and to get my race number written on my arms and legs. I was startled that they wrote my age on the back of my right leg. I got in line for the porta potty at what I thought was the right time, then put my glasses in my bike helmet and put on my goggles. I had decided not to wear my wetsuit as the water temperature was up to 75 degrees. When I went down to the beach I decided I didn't want to wet my goggles in the stirred up shallow water and found that the changing rooms were open, without any line for the toilets. I didn't do any warmup; it seemed too chilly to swim and then stand around.

I was in the third wave to start--all women. We spread out only two or three deep on the beach and I stayed to the back, so I didn't get jostled in the start. I didn't notice the water being cold, but I got a little out of breath at first, which probably was a reaction to cold water. I passed a few people just as I was really settling in to swimming, and that was very encouraging as I feel so slow in my swim group. I didn't fully settle into a comfortable swimming rhythm, but I did concentrate on kicking near the surface and the turns seemed to come up quickly. I did try to keep my speed up instead of settling into a leisurely pace but I couldn't push much without getting out of breath. The swim was the only time I got properly on my watch: 24 min. 16 sec. (from entering the water to leaving it--the official time will be longer because the timing mat was at the top of the hill coming up from the beach).

I didn't feel shaky; I ran fairly comfortably up the hill and around to the entrance at the far side of the transition area. My daughter and some people from my swim group cheered for me as I ran and that was an amazing feeling. I took off my goggles and put on my glasses and then sat down and wiped my feet with a towel and put on my socks and bike shoes. I ate half a banana I had intended to eat before the start. I put on a headwrap under my helmet and then gloves--a lot of steps but it still seemed like it was time to head out before I felt ready for the next stage.

I got on my bike and felt comfortable. About two miles in I passed two people going up hill, so that made me feel strong. I passed a number of people on the bike, so a fair bit of the time I was thinking about when I would reach the drafting zone and then that I had to push to pass the person within 15 seconds. I ate most of a peanut butter and caramel sandwich and drank most of a bottle of water on the downhills. I saw one person fixing a flat and one poor woman with a broken chain--I heard later she walked her bike 6 miles in order to finish the race. I was breathing fairly hard almost the whole way, but there was a long downhill towards the end that felt like a particularly helpful rest.

I put on my running shoes and ate the other half banana and headed out on the run. I realized I had forgotten to take off my cycling gloves so I threw them at the base of a tree. I had my hair in two braids and it didn't bother me. During the first half mile of the run I was going out as the fast age groupers were coming back, and people kept saying "good job" to me. I was frustrated because the runners going out were running on the concrete sidewalk, which I didn't want to do, and the runners coming back were running in the bike lane right next to the sidewalk. I ran some in the grass next to the sidewalk, not wanting to hurt my joints running on concrete (which is significantly harder than asphalt). Once I made the first turn I was on a road with no traffic and no sidewalk, so that worry went away. There was a steep uphill which I walked and felt comfortable with that--I felt I could walk it as fast as I could run it. It felt awkward to start to run again at the top; I hadn't realized how different running and walking feel to the muscles. The course was mostly hills, three of which I walked up. I took water at the aid station, didn't want to drink something sweet. As I came to the YMCA driveway at the end of the run, the policeman who was blocking one lane of the road cheered me on, saying 99% of the American people couldn't do it. That he was cheering for me (after about 350 runners had already passed) really inspired me. I ran strong down the driveway to the finish, cheered by my husband and kids.

My finish time was 2 hours 1 minute, but I think that was counting from the start of the first wave so I actually beat two hours. I had figured 30 minutes for the swim, 45 minutes for the bike, and 45 minutes for the run, plus time for transitions, so I beat that by at least 5 minutes. I was thrilled--I never thought I would break two hours. I didn't feel out of energy at the finish, and my knee felt fine. I stayed around for the award ceremony--two people I knew took second in their respective age groups. I don't know yet how I placed in my age group.

more pictures

Update: Total time: 1:55:02--swim 25:02, bike 47:38 (including the swim to bike transition), run 40:27. Fourth in my age group out of six, 95th out of 102 women, ahead of 10 of 247 men.

Friday, May 13, 2005


There was a triathlon meeting this afternoon to explain the course to us. It all feels pretty unreal right now. Found my bike had a flat tire and changed it. Made a peanut butter and caramel sandwich. Decided to pack my running shoes in my bag instead of wearing them in the morning for fear I would somehow forget them if they weren't in the bag (which is in the car so I won't forget it).

being left behind

I realize as a child I felt I had to keep up with the grownups in order to be accepted. But remembering going with my great aunt on dog walks, I remember the fear of being left behind, not the physical feelings of trying to keep up. It has struck me that the fears I used to have about losing weight were fears about how other people would react to me. I haven't actually gotten much reaction from other people, but I'm amazed by my own body. I think what I need to try to do is get out of my head, the fears that grow out of other people's reactions, and pay attention to my body. The Clemson Triathlon starts at 8 am tomorrow, May 14.

Monday, May 09, 2005


I'm organizing an STS workshop tomorrow, and I'm exhausted. I spend too much energy when the burden is on me to get everything right. It looks like we will have a good turnout.

I checked the participant list for the triathlon. Seven women registered in my age group (45-49), six who are 50-54 (one of whom is in my swim group and is much faster than me), and one in the 60-64 year old age group.

At least it all keeps me away from my feelings about mother's day. I sent my mother several kinds of white tea--I figure if I send a gift I don't have to actually say anything. But there was a prayer in church Sunday about how wonderful our mothers were, and it just made me feel that there must be something wrong with me. One of the nice things about the Episcopal church is that the service is so set that that kind of thing usually doesn't happen.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Today is the closest I will come to doing the whole triathlon beforehand. I swam 20 minutes in the lake, no wetsuit, and got to a very comfortable rhythm. Then I got on my bike in my wet clothes and rode the whole 11 mile bike course. Then I put on my running shoes and ran just the YMCA driveway--only 1/4 mile but just to test out how it will feel.

The clothes worked well, though I learned I need to tie the drawstring of my shorts if I swim without a wetsuit (haven't decided). I tried drinking water and eating half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while on the bike and that seemed to work well. After I got home and stretched my blood glucose was 118, which is just where I would want it to be. My only problem was that my wet braid flopped on my back in a most annoying way while running. Tomorrow when I do my usual 2 1/2 mile run I will try tucking it into a hat, though it won't be wet.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

I'm actually scared, you know

Another inspiring quote, thanks to All Downhill from Here:
“There is no such thing as last. In every race, there is an invisible crowd of thousands behind you who didn’t have the guts to start.”
- seen recently on a Penguin Yahoogroups message board
The pictures of strong women are spreading; see Nancy Toby.

Issaqueena's Last Ride

I only did the 31 mile route of this ride because I didn't want to risk overstraining anything a week before my triathlon. They say the 31 is flat compared to the century, but it was pretty hilly, just no mountains. Beautiful roads--I hardly saw a car from mile 5 to mile 15. And I was happy after the ride; they had chili soup which exactly hit the spot.

I ended up riding alone so I used it as an opportunity to work on keeping my level of effort up for nearly 2 1/2 hours--a similar length of time to the triathlon. I felt it at the time but my legs feel ok now. That doesn't mean much because bicycling is an awful lot easier for me than running. I'm not going to test myself on the running, just keep to my training of running 2.5 miles on the track three days a week and see what happens when it comes to the triathlon. Too many knee twinges to risk trying anything new beforehand.

I was convinced for a while that I had lost my cell phone (I usually put it in my bento box and thought it had fallen out). I struggled to get to a mental place where I wouldn't spend the whole ride worrying about it. Then when I got to the rest stop I discovered it was in my jersey pocket. It will be interesting to see if it is easier to keep focused during the actual triathlon.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

end of the semester

My husband forgot our daughter's riding lesson today. I thought I had lost the medical forms the doctor had filled out for camp and school, though now my husband thinks the problem is that he forgot to pick them up from the doctor's office. I lost a parking ticket before I paid it (but then discovered I could pay it on the web). The sudden lack of structure after classes are over makes me fear I am dropping too many balls (and want to take out my panic on my husband).

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

bargains are expensive

I bought a mountain bike (non-suspension) at a yard sale so I can ride on dirt roads with my kids. The bike only cost $20, but it is going to cost me $150 to put it into good working order(having the bike shop do the finicky work and buying tires and seat cheap by mail order and doing that work myself). This is why last year I initially wanted to take up running rather than going back to bicycling--too many tempting gadgets in bicycling.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


I hadn't run into this triathlon pose until I saw it on another blog (another site calls it a Wendy Ingraham imitation). I thought about doing it myself, but not very seriously until I got into a conversation today about how strong the messages are in my head telling me not to say anything positive about myself. I struggled to say: "I am strong." So here is the picture:

Monday, May 02, 2005

race philosophy

Dot says: "I'm usually one of the last to finish. I run for the scenery, challenge, and the fun, not for time. I like to get my money's worth from my entry fee."

swimming in the lake

Having decided it was easy, I went for a swim in the lake yesterday evening after supper. The wetsuit seemed to work well, at least I didn't feel my arm movement was restricted. It was really hard to start swimming in 66 degree water. I didn't feel cold, but I got tired easily and was particularly clumsy and unsteady when I got out. The lake is supposed to have warmed to about 76 degrees by the time of the triathlon. The other triathlon I have signed up for expects water temperatures in the low 60s, but it has a 1/4 mile swim instead of a half mile swim.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

bike ride

I rode with my group today and we had a lovely ride, except I got a little pepper spray in my eye when another rider tried to zap a dog and then had a flat tire. We went to Yonah Dam, which dates back to 1925--an early hydroelectric project.

My triathlon is in less than two weeks and I haven't tried my wetsuit or swum in the lake. It suddenly occurred to me that doing so is easier than I have been thinking; I can swim off our own dock. We had a meadow instead of a lake behind our house for five years of drought so I am not used to the idea that I could swim there.