Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Time to review and look ahead...

Wow. This year has gone so fast and I can't stand that!

2009 has been a good year for us. There have been lots of changes, lots of challenges and lots of successes. I'll start by reviewing my goals for the year. The great thing about my blog is that I can look back and see what I said at this time last year. Here is what I said my goals were for 2009 and in bold, what I say about them now"

1. Continue to improve upon my swimming - get at least two pool workouts a week.
Work towards a 1/2 Iron man triathlon in August and be ready for it, complete it and be satisfied with my performance.
Done! My swimming really improved this year. I put a lot of time and effort into it. I completed the 1/2 Ironman in August and I felt great during the entire event. The swim was uneventful, I felt peaceful and calm and got out of the water ready to face the rest of the event. My half marathon time that day (after swimming and biking for over 4 hours) was the same as my previous free standing half marathon time. I loved this event. I loved training for it and completing it.

2. Live on a budget. Ugh. I think I say that every year...this year...I really mean it.
No comment.

3. Open our second store by the end of summer 2009.
We opened our second location on August 25th.

4. Fully embrace every change that is made at my job.
I no longer work at the job I was referring to here. This was one of those instances where my goal was ridiculous - my goal should have been to get the hell out of there before the year was over!

5. I also plan to work on not taking things so personal and letting at least some things roll off my back instead of jamming me up.
I used to make a goal every New Year's to be nicer. I stopped doing that because my heart wasn't in it, this goal will fall into that same category. I get jammed up. So be it.

So you can see, its been a good year! Our lives has changed a lot this year - we added two more pets - for a total now of 7. We made it through another year with all of the animals still with us. We have 4 of them over the age of 12, so that is an accomplishment. Everyone has been pretty healthy too - we had a few scares, but nothing too major.

This was the year of fitness for us - I would say that we were in the best shape of our lives this year. Between Trevor's MMA Fight in March, the triathlon in August and the marathon in October, we rocked it this year.

We have less than we have ever had - our income is much lower, we own less stuff, we took fewer trips and we are happier than we have ever been. Just goes to show that you don't need things to be happy. I am glad we learned that while we were still pretty young.

Time to look ahead. What do I want from 2010?
1. Continue to promote our businesses and a healthy lifestyle to our customers. We are promoting some events in 2010 - a half marathon, a 10k/5k, two triathlons. I want to do more of that. We are also getting our triathlon coaching certifications in January.

2. I want 2010 to surpass 2009 as the fittest year ever! August will bring the Ironman Canada. My goal is to spend all year training for this event and to complete it under the time limit, be safe, feel good and be happy with my performance.

3. We have two marathons before the Ironman, one in April, one in June. I want both to be better times than my Portland time in October (5 hours 14 minutes).

4. Spend time with our pets every single day.

5. I would like to make a trip back east this year. Its been too long since I've been back there and I miss it.

I may add to this list, but I find that 5 main goals are achieveable. Any more than that and I lose focus.

2010 is the beginning of another decade. The last 10 years have been awesome (I met Trevor in July of 2000), I want the next 10 years to be even better. I wish the same for you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Holiday letter

Every year my mom sends out a holiday letter with her Christmas Cards - telling everyone how our year went. I get a few of these from others as well and I have to tell you, I LOVE THEM. I love to hear about people's lives. I know it takes time, thought and effort to get those out and I appreciate that. I don't take any of that (time, thought or effort) and so no letter and even worse, no cards. Ugh. This year I haven't even put up the tree. I am going to take out my ornaments and visit with them, even though they won't get to hang on the tree this year.

If you read my blog regularly, you have gotten my Holiday letter in pieces all year long! I'm going to do a recap here...if I WERE to put out a letter, it would go like this...

2009 was a good year in the Bryant house. We have lots of plans and goals, most of which came to fruition this year. Some unexpected things appeared on our doorstep and we welcomed them with open arms!

January was a good month for our business - our first Max Muscle Sports Nutrition store really hit the ground running in January. Everyone was making resolutions to lose weight and be healthy. We were there to help!

February seems so long ago! We celebrated the 6th anniversary of my 29th birthday! 35 - hard to believe it.

March was a busy month for us - we headed to Denver for a few days for our nephew Bryce's 1st birthday party. Grammie Richards was there. We also got to visit with some friends from college that I have been out of touch with for about 10 years. It was so good to see Shellie, Matt and Tom - it was like no time had passed. At the end of March, Trevor had his first Mixed Martial Arts amateur cage match. He did not win, but he put up a great fight. It was a life changing time for us - click here to read all about it and watch the video if you can stand it!

Trevor broke his leg in the fight and was out of commission for a few weeks. At the end of March we officially began training for the Lake Stevens Half Ironman Triathlon AND the Portland Marathon. We were assistant coaches for Vancouver Fit, which is a 26 week training program. We met the most amazing, inspiring people, many of whom are now friends.

In April we went on our first and probably last cruise. We had won a gift certificate at an event and finally used it. It was good to get away, but wasn't as great as I had hoped.

Trevor graduated college in May with his Bachelor's degree. This was the end to a two year journey of night, weekend and online classes. I was really proud of him. It took a lot of hard work and dedication and he saw it through to the end.

June brought several surprises. The first was our initial triathlon of the season and the surprise was how difficult it was. I went into shock over what we were planning for the rest of the season and needed some serious talking to by some good friends to get myself back on track. The next surprise was a new addition to our family - a cat named Norwyn. That makes 4 cats for those of you keeping track. He showed up on our deck on night and wasn't leaving, so we brought him into our home and he became a part of our family.

July - another busy month full of triathlon training. This was the month that I really started to own my experiences with the multi-sport events. We completed our first Olympic distance triathlon and I have never felt more strong. In July we also celebrated our 9 year dating anniversary.

August was a big month - we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversay by completing a Half Ironman Triathlon. 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run. The 30 seconds before crossing the finish line were the most exhilirating seconds of my life. It made every minute of training and sacrafice worth it. I crossed that line and said to myself "there is nothing you can't do". Doing this with Trevor made it even better.

August was a big month for our business as well - we won the "Outstanding Store of the Year" award for our first store and opened our second store at the end of the month.

September brought one more triathlon and a focus on the upcoming Portland Marathon. The end of the month brought yet another surprise - a new puppy named Maggie. For those of you counting, that makes 3 dogs. Its a zoo here.

October was the marathon. I had a great day and overcame my previous experience with the marathon, which was not good. Trevor did not have such a good day - he stepped in a hole and broke his foot at mile 6. Another four weeks of being out of commission! I was blessed in October when the Phillies went to the World Series again and allowed me the opportunity to watch them on TV!

October 30th was my last day at The Oregonian. We parted ways and that was probably best for both of us. I loved working there and don't miss it one bit.

November brought a new addition to the Richards' side of the family, my brother and his wife had another baby. We'll go see him early next year.

Now December - Trevor turned 36. Holiday parties, catching up with friends. We lost a friend this December - Jake Jacobsen passed away, along with his brother in law Rick. This was a sad way to end the year.

As we prepare for 2010, we are looking back on this year. It was a good year - lots of things to be proud of. We are enjoying our family of animals and every day feel blessed that we have added to it and not lost any from it. Trevor and I are grateful for all that we have.

This would be my letter, if I were to write one!! I'll be preparing my year in review on our goals and thinking of goals for next year. Life is all about moving forward. That is what we plan to do now and always.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"This just sucks"

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days, but my computer has been out of commission, thanks to Maggie and her chewing. Its all fixed and now I can get all my thoughts out of my head and onto my blog!!

Saturday afternoon was the funeral/memorial service for our friend Jake and his brother in law, Rick. Rick was a firefighter, so the service was very official and full of tradition. Jake worked for Snap-on Tools. It was a sight to behold.

There was a procession of fire trucks and Snap-on vans that traveled to all three fire houses in the area. There was a sea of uniformed firemen and women and Snap-on jackets and hats.

Trevor worked for Snap-on for about 10 years. When I met him, that's where he worked. It was a family and they welcomed me in right away. This job consumed our lives, we truly lived Snap-on. Still today, there are alot of things in our house that are Snap-on. When Trevor worked there, all his clothes has the Snap-on logo. It was a big family. We spent a lot of time together and really got to know people. Like any family, not everyone got along all the time, but they were still a family.

When Trevor left Snap-on, we knew that we were kind of divorcing the family. There are a few people that we still keep in touch with, but for the most part, we moved on to a different life. We haven't seen many of these people in over three years.

It was a very strange feeling to see all these people who used to be our life. When we walked in, Tammy, who used to work at the Branch office gave us both a Snap-on pin with a black and red ribbon. We still felt like part of the family.

The service was moving and sad, just as you would imagine the funeral of two 40 something men who died unexpectedly would be. I really didn't want to break down, so I kept my mind as removed from the situation as I could. Sitting next to me was one of the men that Trevor worked with. Trevor was a field manager and there were about 12 other guys who had the same job. Jake was one of them. They had Field Manager meetings once a month - they all got together and spent the day in meetings. I looked over and the guy next to me was holding the program with the picture of Jake on it. It hit me hard - these guys used to all sit in a room together and now, they were all sitting in a room together because one of them was dead. I kind of lost it then.

After the service we went to talk to Jake's wife Kay for a minute. We waiting in line as a sea of people waited to get a minute with Kay. She was standing there all alone and it again hit me - she is all alone. When we got to talk to her she turned and looked at us and said, "he always loved you guys". We talked about a few things and then she said, "this just sucks". No words could say more than that.

So many times you go to funerals and people are like "they are in a better place" and "I'm doing okay". To hear Kay say that her husband and brother beind dead sucked, really got to me - because it does suck and nothing will ever make it better.

We headed for home and I couldn't stop thinking about how this used to be something we were so much a part of. Now, after all these years, we are a part of other things, we have moved on - but a little piece of us will always be with the Snap-on family and vice versa.

I don't miss it and I don't want to go back, but I can now appreciate it for what it was...a way of life....a family...of which, we were lucky to be a part.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Love it when people surprise me...in a good way...

I am a very skeptical person. I expect the worst of everything and everyone. You have to win me over. I think its in my blood, I don't trust anyone and it takes a lot to earn my trust. I usually hate something before I even give it a chance. Great qualities...I know...but I'm being truthful here.

I am working to be more open-minded about things and people. I've been doing a lot of networking lately and am consiously keeping myself open to these new people. Shutting down will defeat the purpose of networking.

We have been working with a new training at our store - he puts on a bootcamp class two nights a week at his gym. I went to one of the classes a few weeks ago and watched. Afterwards, I did a nutrition seminar. The class was very straightforward, one minute at each station, 10 seconds between. All the stations were basic - push ups, planks, squats, stair machine. I actually thought to myself "How easy is that?"

Trevor and I signed up to take the class one night a week and I told Trevor he'd probably feel like the workout wasn't enough. HOLY CRAP was I wrong. We've done two weeks of the class so far and it has just about killed me. seriously. What the hell is that about? My heart rate is super high, my muscles burn, I sweat like a maniac. This guy is good.

I love that. I love that I was surprised and it makes me feel good to know that I was wrong. The Universe is punishing me for doubting. My body is completely wiped out today and I like that....alot....

Monday, December 7, 2009

It can all change in an instant.

We've been so busy these last few weeks, Saturday was no different. We were up early to workout, then headed to our 10K Holiday Fun Run with friends, then to drop the truck off to have the snow tires put on, then home to clean up and get ready to go to a party, then to come home and host our annual Oregonian holiday party. Early afternoon, Trevor got a text message from our friend Donnie that said, "did you hear about Jake". Jake is someone that Trevor worked with at Snap-on Tools for about 10 years. He and his wife Kay were at our wedding, we've spent many a Snap-on trip with them. They were a daily part of our life for many years.

We haven't seen much of Jake and Kay in the three years since Trevor left Snap-on. There is so much turmoil going on in that company, just like every where else, we never really know who is coming and who is going. Trevor read that text to me and I said, "I hope he means that he was let go, laid off or fired...not that he's dead". A text like that could really only mean one of those two things and we certainly didn't want him to be dead.

Trevor texted back "no" and a minute later the phone rang. It was Donnie and Jake was dead. He died in a car accident earlier that day in Montana. He, his brother in law and nephew were headed to pick up a vintage fire truck. That was their hobby. His brother in law was a firefighter and Jake loved the trucks. Every year they'd drive them in the local parade.

They had the trailer on their truck and when they hit an icy patch on an overpass, the trailer jack-knifed, the truck seperated from the trailer and went over the guardrail, landing on its top. Jake and his brother in law Rick were killed instantly, his nephew is in the hospital.

I cannot wrap my mind around this. I cannot understand how Kay got the phone call. I will never understand how she and the others will go on. I know there is no choice but to go on, I just don't understand it.

My heart aches for Kay. It was always just she and Jake. They had no children, just like Trevor and I. Both had good jobs, both worked hard and dedicated their lives to their respective companies. I think of our life and try to imagine it without one of us and I can't. I know Kay it a tough lady and can do anything, survive anything. I am just so sad about this for her and the rest of her family.

I am always struck by how things like this can change your life in a second. A single moment in time and nothing is every the same again. There will be an outpouring for these families, a circle of love and support. But things will never be the same.

We went on with our day Saturday, every little bit, we'd look at each other and say "I can't believe that Jake is dead". Still hard to believe, such a tragedy. Rest in Peace Jake.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Motivation?

I got an email from a friend today on facebook and he asked me what my motivation was for doing all the activities that I've been doing - is it to fit into "barbie jeans"? did I have health problems? What is it?

I can't remember the last time someone asked me that kind of question. And he really wanted to know, which made it even more thought provoking. I had to think about that because I wanted to give him an answer that matched the quality of the question.

I am so in the habit of working out and participating in events that I don't really think about the motivation behind it. I don't feel like I need motivation to get up in the morning and workout, its so routine that I just do it - no matter what the weather, no matter how I feel or what else is on the schedule.

Motivation...hmmmm...I guess it all started about 7 years ago - I was motivated to train for and run the Portland marathon because I wanted to prove that I could see something through to the end. After that was done, I gained about 15 pounds because I had no motivation to continue.

Then, one night, we were going to our neighbors to watch TV (big night out) and I couldn't find ANYTHING to wear that I felt comfortable in. I realized that I needed to lose some weight and get control of life. So I joined weight watchers and went back to the gym. I lost about 20 pounds and have kept it off for 7 years.

Eating healthy became normal. Then, I had a test done for food intolerances and uncovered a bunch of things that were causing me to feel crappy. So my motivation now for eating well is feeling good. I find that I feel SO much better when I eat a diet full of lean proteins, complex carbs and healthy fat. The more sugar I eat, the shittier I feel.

I also found that I LOVE to workout. I don't have to convince myself to get up and run or lift weights, because I really enjoy it....its....fun. I hear people talk about how they hate to workout, but do it to stay thin. I do it because I enjoy it. I zone out when I am working out and I love that feeling - I really feel my body and I feel my body working. Something about that is so empowering to me.

The combination of the eating well and working out does provide me the ability to fit into a smaller size clothing. However, I try not to get so wrapped up in the size of my clothes, its more just feeling comfortable in whatever size I happen to be wearing.

My weight fluctuates 5-7 pounds all year round depending on how much junk I am eating and what we are training for.

The events we have started to participate in - the marathons, the triathlons - the motivation for that is kind of the same as it was with the first marathon....to prove that I can! I did my first triathlon because I didn't know how to swim and I decided I would learn to swim and go do it. Once I got a taste of that feeling of accomplishment, I couldn't stop.

Now, it seems these events have become a challenge between me and Trevor - who can come up with the next crazy idea. My motivation is being with Trevor. This is something we can enjoy together, we can work hard together and we can both have that feeling of accomplishment. I am motivated by Trevor being proud of me. I am movited by being proud of myself.

Then, there are our friends. We've built this crazy social network of runners and triathletes. They challenge us all the time - they'll say "hey - let's do the turkey trot" and we say "okay" because we don't want to miss out on a good time. I look forward to all the minutes I spend out running, biking, swimming with those friends. Pushing each other further, cheering each other on - that motivates me.

What's my motivation? Its not an easy answer. Its complicated. If I had to come up with a simple answer for what motivates me, I'd have to steal a quote from my friend Karen...I want to live out loud. Every minute that I am out there pushing myself, physically and mentally, I am living out loud. That motivates me.

What motivates you. Maybe no one has asked you in a while. Its a great question. Thanks Brian for asking me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Clark County Turkey Trot race report

Yesterday morning, we participated in the Clark County Turkey Trot. Everyone we knew was doing it, so we did it too. It took place at the Klineline park about one mile from our house. So convienent!!

The run started at 9, we got there around 8 to get a parking spot and pick up our numbers. It was drizzling when we left the house and as the day went on, that drizzle turned to rain, then pouring rain.

This event was much bigger that I expected, over 700 people came out to run or walk the 10k or 5k. The Salmon Creek path isn't really big enough to hold all those people. I knew that would make for an interesting start.

I was planning to run with our friend Trish. Her heartrate monitor was dead, so we decided we would share my heart for the run...a nice way to spend Thanksgiving morning! Our friend Doug asked Trevor what his pace was going to be and Trevor said around 8 min. miles, Doug had run every day this week and said, "I'll go find the girls". So, he came back to run with us. He's quite a bit faster, so I knew we'd be chasing him the entire time!

Start time came and off we went. It was a big traffic jam. As in every race, walkers started close to the front, so you had to dodge them. There were some people with their dogs, who did not stay to the back, had to dodge them. Then the best part of all was a husband and wife BOTH pushing strollers. They started at the back and wanted to pass everyone. The trail was packed with runners and walkers and they kept saying "on your left", like all 700 people were going to part like the sea and let them through. They were SO annoyed. People. I'll tell you!

Things thinned out a bit as we got going and by the time we got to the turn around for the 5k, things really got better. It felt like we had the whole path to ourselves! Trish runs a bit faster then me, so I was pushing my pace. I tried to keep thinking positive thoughts and just stay with her. Doug was a bit ahead of us and we knew we wouldn't catch him.

After our turn around we saw our friend Angel, who was having a shin split issue. Doug was talking with her, waiting for us. Then we all ran together, we caught up with more friends Tom and Jo and ran with them for a while.

With about a mile left, there was a girl in front of us - the back of her shirt said "commitment". Dough said, "let's catch her". Well, we picked up our pace, caught her and never slowed down. My heart rate was REALLY high. We crossed the finish line in the pouring rain!! So great to be done.

Its good to have someone push you out of your comfort zone once in a while. I need that more often. I usually just go at a comfortable pace - all the time! We circled with our friends, Doug, Ike, Jo, Tom, Trish, Jim, Sherri. So many familiar faces. We waited for others to finish up and cheered them across the line - Robin, Angel, Liz.

All of our favorite people were there (well, not everyone, we were missing a few), it was the perfect way to start Thanksgiving. I looked around and saw people I was thankful for doing something I was so thankful I was able to do.

Our finishing time was just under 1 hour. Its been a LONG time since I finished a 10k in that amount of time.

Done. Now, time for everyone to go refuel with turkey. So much to be thankful for. So. Much.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving.

I doubt that I will have time to post here tomorrow, so I better do it today.

We have yoga first thing in the morning and then the Turkey Trot 10k at 9. Dinner is at 1. I am already looking forward to laying on my couch tomorrow night!! Friday we have our big sale at the store - that will be an 11 hour day for all of us, followed by a full day on Sat and running group on Sunday morning. Whew, tired already.

For the last 9 years, I have spent Thanksgivings at Trevor's parent's house. Every year, Sheila (Trevor's mom) makes it clear that she doesn't want to have it anymore. None of us kids care, we always tell her that we've always gone there - we will always go there. Some years, my parents come - I love that. Everyone together.

This year, we are going out to dinner. About two months ago, Sheila broke her knee and is still using crutches to get around. I am pretty sure this was all a set up so she wouldn't have to have Thanksgiving. I was going to volunteer to have it at our house, but Trevor's sister in law started talking about going out to dinner and I didn't stop her! So, out to eat it is...we'll see how that goes.

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. No pressure to get the right present, just good food and usually good company. Growing up, I always looked forward to it. In high school, I worked at a bakery and we were open Thanksgiving morning for last minute rolls and pies. We were always so busy and by the time I got to the my Grammie's or Aunt Pearl's house, I was usually exhausted. I have some memories of going in to the bedroom and sleeping! I have a lot of good memories from those days and from the years with the Bryants.

So, let's see....what am I thankful for this year....

1. My health. And the health of my friends and family.

2. My friends. This year, we have met a lot of new people. We are very fortunate to be involved in the Vancouver Fit running group. Those people are amazing and inspiring. Being around them makes me want to be better. I also have good friends from my previous job and from our business contact. I feel more connected than I have in years.

3. Our business. We made it through our first year in business. We are learning a lot! I am SO thankful that we work together so well. Husband and wife in business together could spell divorce, I don't think it will for us.

4. Our pets. Our family has grown by 2 this past year. We still have everyone - we have 4 pets over the age of 11 and that scares me. We are still a whole family and I love those pets more than any words could ever express. I am probably the most thankful for them.

5. My current state of employment. I am SO happy to be doing what I am doing right now. Enough said.

6. I guess I could go on and on. But I'll stop at 6 main things. Number 6 is Trevor and really he should be number 1, because without him, none of the other things would be possible. I am thankful for my life with Trevor and all that entails. He makes me laugh when things aren't really funny, he pushes me further when I want to stop, he makes me feel loved when I feel alone. He is my best friend and because of him, I am Thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Don't eat too much...oh, what the hell, go ahead and eat too much...its Thanksgiving!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Everyone's an Ironman...

In our normal lives, we don't know too many people who have completed an Ironman triathlon. There were two people at my job that had done them, I always thought they were crazy. Then I started blogging and found a friend friends in the blogsphere who were Ironmen/women. After opening our stores, we met one or two customers who have done a them. Then, of course, there is Doug, who we run with - he's the one to blame for our impending Ironman Canada participation. Randy, another person we run with, also an Ironman. Pretty much, though, people in our lives think its crazy.

Our friend Doug invited us to a dinner last night of his triathlon friends. They all get together every now and then. We got there last night and everyone in the room had done multiple Ironman events. Not just one, most of them had done like four or more. The person who's house it was at, didn't even have a count. ummmmmm.....I thought WE were crazy.

It was like being in bizarro world. No one acted like we were nuts, no one acted shocked. Everyone was excited about the fact that Trevor and I would be competing in our FIRST Ironman. Everyone had questions and advice and shared our love of the craziness. It felt normal. Which was strange.

I looked around the room, there were probably 6 couples there and they were all Ironman. Yet, they all looked like regular people. We had great food, great conversation and just a ton of fun. It was nice to hear their stories, learn from their experiences and start to feel like this WAS a good idea!!!

Just about everyone there has done Ironman Canada. At least three of them will be doing it when we do it next August. I really look forward to following their training and spending time with them in Penticton before and after the event.

Most of the people were quite a bit faster than me. For example, my half ironman time was 7 hours, one of the women we were talking to - her time was 5 hours and 30 minutes. UH....maybe they'll all finish up, take showers, eat, clean up and head back down to watch me finish.

It was good motivation. Nice to know that there are other crazier than we are out there. Now we have something to shoot for....thanks again Doug....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Get in the water.


Its no secret that I have issues with the water. I've been afraid of it most my life and until 16 months ago, couldn't swim one length of a pool. I have worked really hard to overcome this fear. I took lessons, I spent LOTS of time in the pool and plenty of time in the lake. Swimming, swimming and more swimming. Then there were the triathlons...the sprint distance, the Olympic and of course the half ironman. Nothing says "I've overcome my fear of water" like jumping in with 1500 other people to swim 1.2 miles in the fog covered waters of Lake Stevens...except maybe jumping in the water with 2000 other people to swim 2.4 miles in the waters of Lake Okanagan at Ironman Canada.

That's right, I've got 10 months until Ironman Cananda. The last time I was in the water was at the Vancouver Triathlon in mid-September. After that I decided to take a little break - the marathon was the next big event and I really wanted to focus on that. I didn't have a lot of training time and I was so tired of getting up at 4 am.

I've enjoyed my little break and now that I am not working, my schedule is a bit more flexible. I can go to the pool in the middle of the day instead of at 4:30 am. That is what I did today.

I headed over to the pool around 2 pm and there were a few others there. It was quiet and calm. I had forgotten how much I love that part of lap swimming. I put in my earplugs and put on my swim cap. I got in and started to swim. The water felt so good. I swam about 1000 meters freestyle and then did some drills, just to get the feel of the water. I tried not to put any pressure on myself. I tried not to think about all the swimming that will happen in the next year. I just enjoyed the silence.

After a while, I started to get a little sea sick. I have motion sickness issues and some days I have a tough time. I felt good for a while, then felt kind of yuck. I finished up my swim and spent some time in the sauna.

I guess I'm not really a beginner anymore, however, I still feel like it. So every time I swim, I feel very proud of myself. Very accomplished. So many people out there doing triathlons don't realize what a struggle that swim is for people like me. They don't understand why I get out of the lake with a huge smile on my face. To many, its not big deal. To me, it is the BIGGEST deal...every time, every lap, every event. Today was no exception.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Quote of the Day

I get an email from The Columbian newspaper every day. Its their business update and at the bottom there is always a quote of the day. Some days its stupid, some days its meaningful. Here is the one from today...

"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
- Sparrowrose Howard Thurman, American theologian and activist, (1900 - 1981).

This rings particularly true for me these days. There are so many people who are being laid off or losing their jobs. It can be a very scary time. I know so many people (myself and Trevor included) who were prisoners of their jobs, of their own success. After several years of moving up the ladder, we found ourselves in a position where we were making great money, but hated what we did every day. We built a life that depended on making that great money. It became a trap.

I believe this is the case for many people. They are not satisfied with their place in life, the career they built, but they are a slave to the money. If people take the opportunity that this tough economy is presenting, they could find themselves in a much different place. When you lose the job you thought you could never afford to do without, what do you do? I say, you figure out what it is you really want to do and go do it. Let go of all the things you had and build a new life that allows you to do and be the things you want.

Trevor and I have a lot of stuff. We used to have a lot more stuff. Over the last two years, we have learned to live with less. A lot less. And we are more happy than we have ever been. Without that stuff, we have all kinds of time and space to enjoy our lives. It has been very freeing. For so long we felt trapped. And now....we feel alive.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The dog days of Fall

As you may or may not know - Friday, October 30th was my last day of work at the paper. Lots to say about this, nothing that I feel like I can post here on the WORLD WIDE web.


Over the last week I've been able to spend some more time with the pets. Specifically, Maggie. We've made trips to the dog park and the pet store. We've gone on a few runs. All of this, really, is an effort to tire her out and hopefully make her a little more well-behaved (aka - less of a chewer). It has worked some days, not so much others.

Here she is in her wide open space.


Right now, Opal and Maggie are wrestling. Wookie is hiding in the front room, so he doesn't have to be involved. Sometimes, when I let Maggie out in the backyard, I"ll see her running circles at full speed, while Opal stands on the deck and watches.

We got her a toy that she really loves.

Instead of squeezing it with her mouth, she chewed it with her teeth. The bear needs a kevlar jacket.

When she gets tired and turns into a noodle, she is very cute. Opal likes that too.


On Sunday we took all three dogs for a long walk. We went and had coffee and left them all in the car. When we got back, Opal and Wookie were laying next to each other and Opal had her paws on Wookie's paws. I think she was telling him it would all be okay. Wookie is afraid of the beep the camera makes before it takes a shot, so he got up, but you can see her holding his paw. I love that.



Whenever I hear silence, I know something is being destroyed. I'll call Maggie and she'll come to me...this is usually what I see.

"I didn't do it"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Owie.

Its always something around our house. One of us is always feeling some pain, discomfort, soreness, tiredness....

Trevor has his broken foot and is making progress towards a full recovery. He started running a week ago and is up to 2.5 miles. Pain Free. Good News!

I have been slogging along, feeling just fine...finally over my post marathon binge. I got some new running shoes last week. I wasn't planning to wear them for my long run on Sunday, but my old shoes were soaking wet from my Thursday run in the rain. I figured, what could it hurt? I've been running in the same brand of shoes forever. So, like a dumbass, I put on the new shoes, hooked up my shoe pod (that measures my distance, pace, etc) and off I went. 10 miles. A few miles in, I started having some pain on the inside of my ankle, but didn't worry too much about it.

Sunday afternoon, my foot really started to hurt. I again, didn't think too much about it. Monday, still hurting. Tuesday morning, ran again and now it REALLY hurt. Went to see Dr. Jake, my awesome miracle working and he did some work on it, but I don't think I was clear about where it hurt. Wed morning it hurt worse. Thursday - owie. By the end of the day Thursday it was swollen. I put some ice on it and made an appt to see Jake on Friday.

I was able to pinpoint the pain to Jake and after he spent some time poking and proding he said it was probably a sprained ligament. That ligament is really hard to injury. Figures. So he worked some magic and sent me on my way. No running for a few days, but I can ride the bike and do my other workouts. I have a cycling class on Monday night, I'll go see him again on Tuesday and we'll see where we are at.

Its kind of nice to have an injury during a time of year when it doesn't really matter. No stress about how I NEED to be ready by a certain date to run, ride or swim a certain distance. So I'll rest a few days. Then back to it. I swear, its like we are 100 years old!! At least with my new job situtation I don't have to be in bed at 9 and up at 4:30. I can go to bed when I like and sleep until I am ready to get up. A good plan for recovery.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The old and the young

Until recently, our house has been full of older animals. Wookie is 13, Opal and Daisy are 12, Gus is 11. We had our routine and we liked our routine. Lots of sleeping on the couch and early to bed. Everyone moved kind of slow. Everyone got along. We try not to think about the aging of our pets. They are all getting up in age and every once in a while we realize how old they are getting. It makes us sad, because we can't imagine our lives without a single one of them.

Enter the next generation. Roxie was the first on the scene. We call her "the baby". She is in love with Gus. She follows him everywhere. I think she has made him a little younger, they run and play together. Daisy is not interested in playing. Roxie is just a kitten, she's a little more than a year old now, and she really likes to play. It makes me smile to see her and Gus run from room to room chasing each other. But when it is time for bed, Gus wants to go to bed and he gets upset with Roxie if she tries to play with him when it is bedtime. Roxie has now started to sleep on the bed during the day with Daisy. I love that.

Next came Norwyn. He is about 3 and he likes to play too. When we first brought him into the house he hissed at the other cats. Gus has forgotten that and will play with him. Roxie has not forgotten and every time Norwyn tries to play with her, she hisses and runs under the bed. When we are downstairs, its like a herd of elephants upstairs - Gus and Norwyn running and playing. We didn't hear much of that before the younger cats came into our home.

Wookie is just a grumpy old man and no puppy or new dog will change that. Maggie tries to be his friend, but he is not interested. When Wookie goes up to bed, Maggie wants to be right up against him as they climb the stairs. This has been tough for Wookie and it has made him slip and fall a few times. That makes me sad, because he really is old. Maggie doesn't understand and just wants to be near him. She tries to play with him, he growls. Maggie tries to apologize and Wookie growls louder.

Maggie LOVES to play with Opal. They'll run around the living room. Well, Maggie will run around, Opal stands and barks and watches her run by. They will wrestle and roll around on the floor together. This has been exhausting for Opal. It is hard to wake her up in the morning, she is sleeping so hard from all this new activity. Some times Opal doesn't want to play and she'll get up on the couch next to me or Trevor and lay down. Maggie will jump up on the couch and sit on her, so she has no choice but to engage and off they go!

Maggie goes with us during the day. This is for a few reasons, first we want her to get used to being in public places, being in the car, meeting new people. We also need to give Opal and Wookie a break and a bit of their normal life back. When we get home at the end of the day, Maggie runs to see Wookie and Opal. She really does love them. They are her family. I think they love her too. They just aren't sure why we have a baby in the house.

It makes me happy to see them all interact - the old and young. It also makes me incredibly sad to think that the young will eventually have to go on without the old. I know that is how life works, but I don't like it. I love all these animals. There are seven of them now and that'a lot to love! I love when all three dogs are sleeping on the floor - like they are right now. I like when all four cats sleep on the bed with us. I really love how the old (with the exception of Wookie) have taken in the young. There has been no real fighting or aggression. They just roll with it and welcome the new ones into the house as if they have always been here.

This is our family. I want to enjoy them all together while I can. Its a strange mix, the seniors and the babies, but we love it and we love them. Every. single. one.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Focus like a laser beam

I've written before about the daily emails I received from Jeff Young (www.friendsofjeff.com). Jeff lives in Lake Oswego, OR and has ALS. He sends out a motivational email and he somehow reads my mind. Whatever I have going on in my life, whatever the struggle, his email will pop up on my screen and the topic will be exactly what I need to hear. This was his email today....

Title: A Burning Focus

Life is full of so many good things we could be spending our time doing that one of our chief responsibilities is to make distinctions not only between good and great uses of our time, but to decide what is the absolute best use of our time. We need to keep our focus concentrated on the job in front of us. To do that, we need to have confidence that what we are doing is the best use of our time. We need to create large “chunks” of time in order to gain precious momentum on projects needed in order to fully engage the brain and all its faculties. Take it as a challenge and a test of your character to focus single-minded
on your most important task, and to persevere until its completion. Focus your mind’s “rays” in this manner and see what kind of “magic” begins to appear in your life.

Good advice. Thanks again Jeff.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Stop the madness!

I need Susan Powter to come to my house and yell at me "STOP THE MADNESS" Ever since the marathon, three weeks ago, I have been eating like a ferocious jackass and it is now officially out of hand. The first week, I was like "well, I ran 26.2 miles on Sunday, so I need to refuel". I was refueling with a lot of junk. We usually have treats on the weekends. Cupcakes with lunch on Saturday from the awesome bakery next to our store and then ice cream for dessert on Sat and Sun nights. It has stretched from that normalness to an every day quest for something sweet.

I feel like total crap. My clothes are starting to fit tight from all the bloating I am having due to the unusual amount of salt, sugar and preservatives I have been inhaling. Here's just an example of what just about every day this week has been like:

-My usual pre and post workout shake
-Americano and oatmeal from Starbucks (usually I have a hard boiled egg and english muffin, but this week that oatmeal just seemed so much better, plus, I ran out of eggs)
-Lunch - burrito and chips, philly steak pita or a quesidilla. I usually bring lunch from home, but a friend has decided we need to eat out every day and instead of making my usual good choices, 've gone for what looks best on the menu. Not such a bad idea when you eat out once in a while, but four days in a row....not so much
-Afternoon snack - this is where is goes down hill and fast. Instead of my normal trail mix, I've been adding m&ms. Or taking a trip to Starbucks and getting a latte (no so bad) and a muffin.
-Dinner is usually pretty on track, just because by that time I am starting to feel like crap. Usually because of the Halloween candy I get when I stop at the grocery store for cat litter or some other item that I really don't need, but use as an excuse to go the place where I can get Halloween candy. Or cake. Or cookies.
8 o'clock rolls around and I have come down off my sugar high and tell myself that tomorrow will be different. Then tomorrow comes and I do okay until my morning snack. Then I climb up the ladder to the biggest slide around and its all downhill from there.

Thank goodness that I have been sticking to my workout routine. I haven't weighed myself, mostly because I figure - what's the point? Like I don't know that what has been happening the last few weeks isn't a good thing. I figure when I eventually feel crappy enough, I'll go back to normal. I am pretty sure I've hit that point.

There's nothing wrong with the occassional splurge. That can, in fact, be healthy by keeping you on track. There is a lot wrong with what's been happening around here lately!! Time to get back to normal. As my boss says, "enough of this hilarity, get back to work". Time to get back to work.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Girlfriends 1/2 Marathon Race Report

This has been a FULL race season. We've done lots of events, lots of training. Sunday was really the culmination. I knew that I just needed to make it through this event and then things could ease up and perhaps the pressure could be off a bit. Running a half marathon two weeks after a full marathon wasn't something I would have ever considered before. Both are pretty major undertakings. I am very proud of myself for making it through both of these major events in such a short time and living to talk about it!!!

This event is one of my favorites. It is put on by a local gym owner, Sherri from NW Personal Training. Her events are always awesome. We've been a part of many of them and always enjoy it. This year we have gotten into the habit of participating in the events, not just sponsoring. This event is a women only half marathon to raise money for breast cancer research. The participant field is limited to 1500 and it sold out about 5 months ago.

The race started at 9, we got there around 7:30 to set up the booth. When we got there, things were already in full swing! Lots going on. We unloaded the cars and realized that I had grabbed some chairs instead of the tent, so I drove back home to get the tent (This is the second time I've made this mistake...note to self...remember to check and be sure you have the tent!). Luckily, we live about 5 miles away, so it was no big deal. By the time I got back, Trevor and Ryan (one of our employees) had the booth all set up and were already talking to many women. What a surprise!!

We saw so many familiar faces. All of our favorite people had a part in this event. Its so interesting how people from different parts of our lives all converge on this event. There were many Vancouver/Portland Fit women participating in the event and many of the men were volunteering. Our Doug was on the bike, as the course marshal.

Here's Rob - one of the trainers at NW Personal Training. He is AWESOME!!


Finally, 9 am rolled around and it was time to start. Off we went. The weather was perfect, it had rained all night long, but had stopped in the early morning. It was cool, but not cold. I was glad that I was running in shorts and tshirt. Very comfortable.

The course was a great tour of downtown Vancouver. We ran through the Farmer's Market and all the vendors stopped to watch us. Everyone was wearing pink, so all I could see ahead of me was a sea of pink. About a mile in, I saw Pete - a VFit coach - cheering us on! Yay Pete!! We made our way down by the river and out to Wintler Park. Our Sunday group has run this route many, many times - it was so familiar.

On the way out to the park, I saw one of our VFit members, Nick, out for his own Sunday run. Nick lost over 70 pounds during the marathon training and is a true inspiration. To see him out there, still going, really gave me strength. I yelled to him and he blew me a kiss.

Around this time, Trish and Jo passed me. Not a surprise. A bit later I saw the other Trish and she was hobbling. She hurt herself a while back and has been pushing through the injury. She wasn't sure how she'd do today, she decided to call it quits before she REALLY hurt herself. We waddled along together for a bit, then she saw a friend and hitched a ride with him.

We headed back towards town, then over the new land bridge. I love that land bridge - so pretty. I met up with a gal named Missy. We ran together for a while and talked. We made our way down towards the airport and back around through Fort Vancouver. 13.1 miles really didn't seem so far today. I was feeling really good - just taking it nice and slow.

I met up with another friend, Michelle and ran the last two miles with her. As we came into town, I saw Trevor, waiting to take some pictures. Then we got to the second to last turn and all our VFit guys were there cheering us on. They saw me and started yelling my name and cheering. Michelle said, "you've got a great cheering section, I should run with you more often". As I made the final turn I saw a stranger wearing a Phillies coat - so I yelled to him! What a great day.



We crossed the line in 2 hours and 20 mins. Not bad. We were greeted by girl scouts handing us our finisher's medals, which were these awesome necklaces. There were also firemen handing out water bottles. I wandered around for a while - went back to the booth and had a recovery drink. Then I changed into dry clothes and got some soup.

Sherri always has us help with the awards, which I love. I made my way up the podium and handed out awards to the top finishers. These people always amaze and inspire me and its an honor to be part of the awards ceremony.

After that was over, I wandered around some more and enjoyed more of the awesomeness of the event. I had some fudge, a coffee and a sugar cookie. You could not ask for more yummy stuff than that!!

It was a great day. Maggie even enjoyed herself. This was her first official Max Muscle event - there will be many more to come!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tales of mayhem and darkness

First of all, it is mayhem. I just typed up a big long blog, uploaded a video and then saved it. When I went to view it, 90% of the post was gone. So, I'll try to recreate what I wrote earlier.

I feel like I've written a hundred posts where I've said this - Its been a crazy few weeks around our house. But it has, in fact, been a crazy few weeks.

Our little Maggie, the new 7 month old puppy in our house, has been keeping us up at night. Two nights ago, for the first time, we didn't have to let her out at 2 am. For the first time in three weeks, I was able to sleep through the night. This is a big deal.

You see, I need sleep. Uninterrupted sleep. On a normal day I walk the line between reasonable and unreasonable. I've been called "tempermental". With no sleep or worse yet, interrupted sleep, I am a complete maniac. I'm not proud, but its true. So, when the dog starts crying and yipping at 2 am and Trevor's broken foot keeps him in bed, I have to get up and take Maggie outside.

Usually, when something happens in the middle of the night or needs to be taken care of, Trevor does it. A few months ago, a house across the street was on fire. Our bedroom was full of smoke, there were sirens blaring and lighting up our house. I slept through the entire thing and didn't believe Trevor until I saw the scorched earth later that morning. Trevor said he thought I was dead because no living person would sleep through that. But I did.

Trevor, is the opposite as far as sleep goes. He barely sleeps all night, then he gets his most solid sleep from about 4:30 am to 6 am. The days when I get up and ride my bike on the trainer in the garage are okay for this. Maggie comes out there with me, I'll open the car and she sits in the drivers seat and watches me ride. Then she lays down and sleeps. When I go for a run or do weights, it is not such a good day for Trevor. Maggie doesn't run with me, mostly because I am nervous about running her in the dark. I need to get comfortable running her in the light first. When I am in the workout room, Maggie will come in there with me, but doesn't settle down and will go jump in bed with Trevor.

All of this equals sleep deprivation in our house. It is getting better, I feel like my part of the battle is winding down, I've had three nights of a solid 6 hours sleep. I prefer 8, but considering what its been lately, 6 is a dream come true.

With Trevor's broken foot, he can't go with us on our walks. Three dogs is a little more than I can handle. My hands aren't big enough to really control two leashes in one hand. My knuckles are raw. I've started wearing gloves. Today was warm and by the end of the walk I thought I would pass out from overheating. If you have ever seen the movie Moonstruck - think of the grandfather who lives upstairs and has all the dogs. He takes them for a walk and they are all over the place, they go to the cemetary and they are all over the grave. That's how the walks are. I have had two neighbors ask if I need help. I respond "I do, but not the kind you can give, but thanks!". I think I am finally getting it under control. By the time I do, Trevor will be back with us and it won't matter.

The title of this post is tales of mayhem and darkness. That was the mayhem, now for the darkness. I cannot believe how dark it is when I get up in the morning. I take the dogs for a walk around 6:45 and this last week it has been pitch black. I also notice that I don't need my sunglasses on the drive home. I hate that. I do love Fall and I love the changing colors of the trees. I could sit and look at that all day long, I just love it. It reminds me of home. But the darkness, can't stand it. And the rain has started too - dark and rainy. God help me. I guess I need to start taking some megadoses of Vitamin D. Did you know that our bodies don't make any of that from November to Februray. Seasonal Affect Disorder. SAD. Yes, I have it.

We are really just getting by around here - just like every other family out there. Here are some pictures to make it all better.

Here's Opal and Maggie when I left for work the other morning.


Maggie has a little coat and pack that she wears when we walk. I think she likes it!
Our first trip to the park.
Norwyn watching Maggie get her first bath.
Maggie's first bath.

We are really trying to do the things with Maggie that we wish we would have done with our other dogs. Opal is 12, Wookie is 13, so trying to give them their first bath would go terribly wrong. We figured we start early with Maggie. Same thing with the coat and pack, that way she is ready to run or hike. The others wouldn't stand for it and at this point in their lives, we don't make them do much that they don't want to do.

Word for the day - exhausted. Opal feels the same way - she sleeps downstairs on the couch and when I get down there in the morning, she is usually up. She hears me on the stairs and gets up. The last few days, she is still on the couch, she lifts her head and looks at me, then puts it back down and goes back to sleep. This little puppy is wearing her out. Our favorite part of the day is when Opal and Maggie play. It happens every night and it is so funny. It is clear that it making Opal very tired. Watch this video, you'll see how it goes.

video

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good times around our house...

I've finally been able to get these pictures up on the computer. Lots going on around here lately!!

The first night we had Maggie at home we walked her with Opal and Wookie. Here she is on her first walk as part of our family.

Maggie likes to look at the computer, can you see her little head to Trevor's right.


Time for bed - Maggie wants upstairs, Norwyn wants downstairs. What to do?

Maggie makes a broken foot feel a little better

One of the last days of summer weather before the rains start. Everyone enjoys the sun! Especially Norwyn and Wookie.


So as you can see, things are good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Portland Marathon Race Report Part 2

Always more to say, plus I have pictures!

Crazy things can happen during 26.2 miles. Around mile 22, I heard a familiar voice. I turned around and there was Steve - a friend of a friend. He is a super fast runner and I couldn't figure out why he'd be running at my pace. I saw that he was running with another guy, obviously helping him along. I said hi to him and we laughed about meeting there! He had his camera with him and kept running ahead to take some pictures. So I ended up with these pictures, all from mile 21 on. That was a nice surprise. I think I look pretty good for being 4 hour into the run. What do you think?

Mile 21 - eating the last of my Hammer Gels. I was worried about them, usually they are smooth, but today they were gritty. I don't know what that was about, but my stomach was not upset even one time during the run so it must have been okay!


Running down Greeley, it was probably about 1/2 a mile or more and my legs were SCREAMING. I wanted to walk, but knew that would provide no relief and would only take me longer to finish.


This is my favorite picture. I knew Steve was taking it and unlike the other pictures, I had no energy to smile. I was really wondering how I would make it the next mile. Trevor loves this picture because the others are walking and I am running. My mom said, "The last one looks like you are cool and the rest are fighting the run - I can imagine that you will pull out ahead of them." I love that.


Pictures are always fun!

I still cannot believe that it was such a good day. I mean, 10 days before I couldn't even get out of bed without falling to the floor. My back hurt so bad. I wasn't sure I'd even make it to the start line. The idea that I ran 26.2 miles, only walked through water stations and have NO PAIN in my back is really impossible for me to believe. I have these the drs at Clearwater Clinic to thank. Dr. Jake and Greg - if you ever need something fixed, they are your men - here's their website -

I downloaded the information from my heart rate monitor and was looking at what my pace was and where my heart rate was for the marathon. I swear, I have one speed - its called "Go". My average pace for the first six miles was only 13 seconds faster than my average pace for the last six miles. So I basically ran the entire 26.2 miles at the same speed. The last time I ran a marathon, I ran the first 16 miles at one pace and then the last 10 miles were about 4 minutes per mile slower. I know I've said it before, its true, I am so different now than I was then.

I didn't get much time to really reflect on the event because I was so concerned with getting Trevor home and settled. That broken foot really upset me and I couldn't stand watching him hobble around. I wanted him to have run the race so that we could compare notes and talk about how we had done. It wasn't the same to do it by myself. The thing I love most about doing these crazy things is doing them with Trevor. Some of the joy goes away when he can't share it with me.

At the finish line, when I hugged Trevor, I cried and told him how sorry I was that he didn't get to feel what I was feeling. I was also sorry that we didn't get to spend time enjoying it with all our friends who had run the race. We got to celebrate with them on Monday night at our "celebration dinner".
Trevor altered his "finisher shirt" to accurately reflect his course that day.

Vancouver folks. I love these people. Seriously. Love. Them.


All in all, it was a good day. I have been sore and tired all week, but overall, feel pretty good. I am ready to look ahead and figure out what the next year will bring. I'm sure it will be beyond my wildest imagination. If someone else had my life...I'd be jealous.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Portland Marathon Race Report

I would normally have written this on Sunday or Monday, but Maggie (our new puppy) chewed through the power cord on our computer. It has taken us a few days to get that fixed.

It was a tough week leading up to the marathon. I hurt my back about 10 days before and spent all my time trying to get that fixed so that I could even make it to the start line. Then, a week before, we added Maggie to our family. Maggie did not sleep through the night until Friday. I was very concerned about fatigue and injury. I knew it was a crap shoot and anything could happen. I just wanted to make it to the start line.

I took it easy on Friday and Saturday, got two good nights sleep. Sunday morning, when the alarm went off at 4:15 am, I was actually ready to get up. We got our stuff together and headed downtown. It was so nice to have such few things to take with us! I am so used to our triathlons, where we take the whole house with us!

We got downtown and parked, we were early. This is a first. Usually we are rushing around, not today. We met with our training group from 6 to 6:15, headed to use the restroom and then to the start line. It was really chilly and so I had worn a sweatshirt and sweatpants that I planned to leave behind at the start. Everyone does that and then the marathon donates the clothes to charity.

I was wearing my favorite pair of purple sweatpants. I've had them for 9 years and Trevor HATES them. Sunday was going to be the day I let them go. We stopped at my work (which is about 3 blocks from the start line) to use the bathroom. I took of my purple sweats and left them there. I couldn't bear to let them go, I figured I'd stop on the way back to the car after the run and get them. Needles to say, when I walked out of the bathroom, Trevor wasn't super happy that the purple sweats were no where to be seen!

We got down to the start line and found some friends. Everyone was so nervous. I couldn't believe it had been 7 years since I last ran this marathon. So much has changed.

The gun went off and we finally got the start line. I hit my watch and off we went! The weather was perfect for a long run, cloudy and cool. I warmed up right away. I was very nervous about how my body was going to feel. My plan for the day was to run by my heart rate. I wanted to keep it under 155. I also planned to stay in the middle of the road, or on any part of the road that did not have a slope. The slope in the road causes my right leg to hurt after about 9 miles. I knew if I could make it past 9 miles with no pain, I'd be in good shape. My final plan was to walk through every water station, but run the rest of the day. I had three Hammer Gels, two Nuuns (electrolyte tabs)and that was all I planned to injest, other than water.

Things were going pretty well. I was surprise how long it took to the crowd to thin out. We were headed towards mile six, the beginning of an out and back portion of the route. I was excited because I figured I would pass Trevor here and get a chance to see how he was doing. As we got past the 6 mile marker, I saw Trevor, standing on the side of the road, apparently waiting for me. Several thoughts went through my mind - maybe he wanted to run with me, maybe he wanted to tell me something or he saw someone that he needed to point out to me. Those thoughts went out of my mind as fast as they came in and I knew there was no good reason for him to be standing there.

I stopped and Trevor told me that he had stepped in a pot hole and fell down. His foot hurt so badly that he felt sick to his stomach. He was almost in tears and I almost cried too. It just sucked to go through all the training and prep and have your day end that way. I asked if he wanted me to stop too and take him home. He said no, to keep going. So I took his bib and put it around my waist. I was going to run for both of us.

We kissed and went our seperate ways - Trevor, walking back to the start, me, on my way to the finish. I spent the rest of the day worrying about Trevor. Every time it got really hard, I reminded myself that Trevor was sitting somewhere, wishing he could be out there running. That kept me on track.

The miles were going by pretty quickly. My heart rate kept getting up around 158, so I'd slow down. I stopped to use the restroom a few times. I was following my plan and I felt good. I ran into several people I knew and ran with them for a while.

We hit the St Johns bridge - that's about mile 16. I thought back to my marathon in 2002, this was where I fell apart. I refused to fall apart this time. After the bridge, we took a turn and went downhill for a bit. My quads were killing me!!

Miles 17-22 flew by. Once I got to around 19, I could fell the finish line moving closer to me. I kept thinking "7 more miles, that's a long weekday run", "5 more miles, that's a short weekday run". When I got to 24, I knew I would finish. There was a long downhill and it really hurt my legs. I thought about walking, but knew that would not make things feel any better and it would only take longer to get done. So I just kept running.

I crossed the Broadway Bridge and got to mile 25. My God. How can 1.2 miles seem so far?! It was at this point that I wanted to fall apart. This was the hardest part of the day for me. Luckily, there was only 1.2 miles left. There were alot of people who I saw falling apart way earlier!!

We turned onto Naito Parkway and I kept trying to see where the turn off to Salmon Street was. I knew that once I got there I was almost home. I walked through one last water station and then I could see it - I could see the masses of people turning off the main road. I finally got there and made the turn.

The turn onto Salmon is one of the best parts of the run. This is where all the spectators start piling up to see the finishers. The energy is just amazing. As I turned the corner, I saw our friend Doug. He cheered for me and opened his arms. I ran straight to him and almost knocked him over as we hugged. He let go and said "go finish this thing". At that point I started to cry, I kept running and then I saw Trevor. Then I really lost it. I made the final turn and ran across the finish line.

Time: 5 hours 14 min
That's 50 minutes faster than my 2002 finishing time.

As I walked through the finishers area I was overcome with relief. and pride. My main goal for this marathon was to enjoy every minute. And I did. I loved how it felt to push through something hard. I loved how it felt. That may be sick, but its true.

I spent the last 7 or so miles thinking about the why. Why do I do this? What about this makes it worth it? To be out there running for 5 hours? Why? The feeling I had in the last .2 miles is the why. You can't get to that any other way than through the 26 miles before it. You can't cheat it, you can't fake it. You have to earn it. Every step, every inch, every minute. You have to earn it. And unless you have ever earned it, you cannot understand how that feels. But I'll tell you this, nothing feels better.

I walked over to Trevor and cried for him because he didn't get to feel that today. And that just sucks.

We made our way back to the car and headed for home. It wasn't until we were home that I realized I had not gone back to get my purple sweats. I wouldn't be back to work until at least Tuesday and I had left them in the bathroom. I knew they were done. Trevor smiled a big smile. Finally, no more purple sweats. Luckily for me, I have another pair, only worse. They are pajama bottoms, purple with cats on them and they say things like "Feline Groovy" and "its a great day to be a cat". I've been wearing them for a few days now!

Its been a crazy few days since then - Trevor has a broken foot, he's on crutches and should be for about two weeks, then it will just be a couple weeks and he'll be back to normal! We'll need to find a winter marathon so that Trevor can complete it!

I tried to not think too hard about the Ironman next year. I'll get to do another marathon then - only there will be a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike ride first. I don't want to get ahead of myself. For now, I just want to process my marathon. And bask in the satisfaction. Because I did it.

I'll post a few pictures in a day or so.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It ends where it began

This morning was the last workout before the marathon on Sunday. I did a short, 3 mile-ish loop by my house. This was the first workout I did back in March when the training was just beginning.

This run is such a familiar, comfortable course. I run out of my neighborhood and down the main road. Over the course of the past six months, I have run in all sorts of weather. I have run in the dark and cold of early spring, the dark and rain of actual Spring, the early dawn light of Summer and now the fading light and coolness of Fall. When there is a full moon, I see it as I run out of my neighborhood and over the first little hill. I love that.

I go for about half a mile and then cross the only major intersection of this run. I used to go through it against the light or with the light - when I saw no traffic. After my brush with the law this summer for crossing through a green light, with no walk sign, I always stop now and wait for the "walk" sign.

I follow the road past the new park they are building, that was just an open field back in March. I pass the elementary school where I have watched the sign out front say "spring break", "have a great summer", "back to school night". I turn into a neighborhood where I have watched boats appear in driveways and no go away to be stored for the winter. I pass the liliacs that were in full bloom in May.

I turn to go down a small, paved path between houses. The path is lined with trees. I remember how the trees were bare when training began, then they budded. One day, I turned down the path and was overwhelmed by the pink flowers that filled the branches. The pink turned to brown and now those branches are losing their leaves. They showed me the way one last time before Sunday.

I looped around and headed for home. Its been a hectic, crazy six months since the first training run. I have had my ups and downs, good days and bad. Some of the time, this run has been so simple, other days, it has been a back breaking slog. It has been a journey of self-reflection. I have learned about myself and what I am capable of during this time.

I hurt my back last week and was really wondering if I would even make it to the start line on Sunday. I'm not saying I feel great. I am certainly exhausted - our new addition, Maggie, has been keeping me up all night. I am still having some aching and stiffness in my back/hips/legs. But on Sunday at 7 am, I'll stand at the start line with thousands of others. And I'll be ready for whatever that day and that race gives me. It may be a good day, it may not, but I will be proud to be at the start and let it unfold how it will.

I love these days of reflection. Sometimes I get out there and get so caught up in all that is going on, what we are training for, all the stress of it, all the worry and the work. Every once in a while, its awesome to sit back, look at where I've been and see how far I've come.

I'm ready for Sunday. 26.2. Its just a thing.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Say hi to....

We have 6 pets, two dogs and four cats. Two of the dogs and two of the cats are older than 11 and we know that we are closer to sunset than to sunrise with them. I try not to think about that too much, because if I do, I break down into sobs that can't be controlled. Instead, I try to enjoy every minute with them. I make a conscious effort to never walk by one of them without touching or speaking kindly to them. I make an effort to not push them away if I am doing something else. I want to take time to give them love while I can.

When the dogs were younger, Trevor use to run with them. Now that they are older, its all they can do to get around the neighborhood for our morning walks. Trevor has been watching the shelter websites and petfinder.com for a certain breed of dog - I believe an Australian Sheppard or a mix. These are supposed to be good ruuners and Trevor really wants a dog who can run miles and miles with him.

Friday, Trevor emailed me pictures of a dog that fit his requirements. She was only 7 months old and living in a foster home. I didn't think he seriously wanted to bring her home, because, let's face it - we have 6 pets. We are all full, no room at the Inn. Right?

Well, he kept brining up this dog, had her picture on the computer. Finally, on Saturday night I said to him "you are talking to me like I have told you we can't have her. If you want her, fill out the application." So he did. And on Sunday, they called us and asked if we wanted to come meet her. So we did.

And here she is. This is Maggie.


Maggie spent all but the last week of her short life living in someone's backyard. Her mom was a stray and they gave away all the other pups, but couldn't give her away. So they kept her outside, fed her whatever food was cheapest and didn't even give her a name. We are pretty sure they yelled at and probably hit her but the way she cowers.

She was dropped at the local shelter and was so afraid, they couldn't show her to prospective pet owners. She was put into foster care just last week. This wonderful family has helped her progress and she can now walk on a leash and is fairly well potty trained.

As we left her foster home yesterday, I cried. I cannot imagine being a foster parent to pets. I loved her within 10 minutes. It made me so sad that they had to give her away and so grateful that they got her ready for us. They told her yesterday that "her people" were coming to get her.

We introduced her to the dogs and that went well. She is so submissive that it was no problem. Opal is OBSESSED with her and follows her everywhere, wanting to smell her. Maggie slept in bed with us last night. That did not make the cats happy. Roxie hid under the bed, Norwyn kept his distance. Gus and Daisy slept with us, but not in our normal spot. Every time they moved, Maggie got up and wanted to sniff them to death.

We were awake half the night and finally, she went to sleep. This morning she came down and layed in the garage while I rode my bike. Such a sweetie. Today, she is at work with Trevor and he is teaching her to sit. I'll pick her up on the way home and give her lots of love. Then when we get home, I'll spend about an hour giving each one of the others some love too.

You would think there isn't enough to go around, but I have to say, all this love has expanded my heart to a size I never imagined. I am overwhelmed with it. Seven is our magic number. At least for a little while.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Just a hypothetical.

So here's a story...we can say its a hypothetical...

Let's say that I have a friend, her name is Fancy. Fancy has worked at a great company for just about 10 years. She has had her ups and downs, its a love/hate relationship. Lately, its been much more hate than love. Some days, she feels like it is killing her.

Fancy is in sales and her sales are WAY down - like 70% down from last year, which was down quite a bit from the year before. Fancy has watched many decisions be made by the management team at her company. Most of these decisions made no sense. In fact, most of these decisions pushed customers away in a fashion that would make those customers never come back. Then the economy hit the skids - hence the 70% down.

Fancy has always expressed her concern and has always been told to just be quiet and do what is asked. Quite a challenge for Fancy. So, her attitude has gotten worse and worse.

About a year ago, Fancy's company announced that they were in financial trouble and needed to set the ship right. So they did a buyout offer. A very generous buyout offer. Fancy was not eligible. Many people were, some took the offer, some (for reasons beyond Fancy's understanding) did not.

Well, these buyouts didn't really help and next thing you know, the company is in trouble again. It is announced that there will be paycuts, furlough days, a portion of healthcare must be paid by employees. Then it is announced that there will be another buyout offer, but not for salespeople. But, if you wake up every day and say "I hate my job", talk to your manager.

Next thing you know, Fancy hears about sales people who have been giving some sort of severance/buyout and are leaving. Fancy really wants a buyout. So, she goes and talks to her boss and says "I'm interested". She is then told that she is not on the list of people they want to manage out. She does too good of a job and so they won't give her anything to leave. If she wants to leave, she'll leave with nothing.

Fancy doesn't understand this. She thinks about it for a few days and then decides she needs to talk to her boss's boss and see what he says. She gets the opportunity to meet with him and pleads her case. She is told that she is the type of employee the company wants and they will not pay her to leave. He also tells her that another buyout offer is being announced that day, but not for sales people - only for people who's positions won't need to be filled. Fancy says "I'm at 30% of my goal, my work could easily be divided amoung the remaining workers". He disagrees. After much emotional discussion and debate, Fancy leaves the meeting being told "I'll see what I can do, but can't promise anything".

Fancy feels good that she has at least been able to express some important feelings about the company and her work there. Later in the day, Fancy is at her desk, and the email come out with the buyout offer. As she opens it, she sees that over 350 people are eligible for the it, but not her. 40% of the company, but not her. It is all Fancy can do to not fall down on the floor and cry her eyes out in utter frustration and disgust.

How can you say that the kind of person you want to keep is the person who hates her job? How can you say that its better to pay people who are not performing to leave, yet not offer that chance to someone who is ready to go? Fancy's company is looking at possible layoffs in 2010, in order to reduce the workforce, why not let anyone who wants it have it? Fancy's job is not rocket science. She can look around her office and she many, many people who could do her job and do it well. So, why not let one of those people who wants to continue working there have it?

Fancy does not understand. At all. Any of it. At the same time, the truth is that Fancy cannot afford to just quit without any sort of severance. So, Fancy is screwed. It is ironic, really, so many people out there who really want and need a job, and Fancy has a good one and can't get rid of it.

Several years ago, Fancy was a manager at this company and she used to tell the people who worked for her "don't try to make sense of it...its non-sensical. You'll go crazy if you try to understand it". Fancy should take some of her own advice, but this is seriously effed up and there is nothing more she can do. Nothing. More.

But then again....this is all just a hypothetical situation.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Marathon Gods are laughing at my lazy ass.



The Portland Marathon is 10 days away - October 4th. Its been a long year of training. It really started last Fall, when I made the decision to run through the winter. Normally, I have a season ending run, then its too dark, cold and rainy to run in the mornings, so I move on to kickboxing or step aerobics. Last year, we planned some early Spring runs and so I ran through the winter. Got up in the pitch dark, wore my reflective gear and ran. We ran the Lief Erickson trail all winter long - several times in a foot of snow.

What I'm saying, is that I had a good base. I was running 7-10 miles on the weekend and 4-5 miles a few days a week. I felt strong. This was a great way to lead into my triathlon/marathon training. I've had relatively few issues this year. My main problem has been a nagging issue with my IT band and my right hip/quad. This usually flares up every month or so, I get some treatment and then I am fine. If I get past the 8 mile make on a run without pain, I'm usually in the clear. If it starts to hurt, it will nag at me until I am done my run. This pain showed up during my 21 mile run and I've been having it treated ever since.

I have a great chiropractor who is really more of a physical therapist. He doesn't just adjust me, he uses ultrasound and electronic stimulation, as well as massage. He can make anything better. Seriously. Trevor hurt his lower back big time, two weeks before the 1/2 Ironman and Dr. Jake had him ready to compete just in time.

I don't know what the hell is going on with me. I went and saw Jake on Monday and he got the knots in my muscles to release. Yesterday morning I did upper body weights, abs and a 3.5 mile run. This morning, I woke up and my low back was hurting. It has gotten progressively worse during the day. I'm walking like I'm 9 months pregnant...kind of shuffling along, holding my back and groaning. Nice.

I used to get this back pain often. I haven't had it in over two years. Yet, here it is, 10 days before the marathon. Just to make things interesting. Probably as a pay back for when Trevor hurt his back and I commented that he always has something like that happen before an event! Bam. Here you go.

I have an appt this afternoon to see the Dr. I also have appts all scheduled for next week leading up to the big day, so there will be plenty of opportunity for my back to get the attention it needs. Actually, its not my back, its my butt. My quads are much stronger than my glutes and that makes my body try to compensate and it trys to use other muscles to get the job done - enter the lower back. Its called "lazy Glute syndrome". You know what the glutes are right? My ass. So I have lazy ass syndrome. Anyone have a cure for that?