Monday, August 25, 2008
In the past, Erika always looked for only one thing in her shoes. Do they look hot? Are they cute on my feet? Am I stylin'?
(Erika's old running shoes: fashionable, but blister-inducing)
I told her this was an awful way to shop for athletic shoes. I told her it was unreliable, invalid, and cause for further future hot spots, blisters, soreness, or all of the above. I talked her into having higher standards, and with open minds and coupon in hand, we tried on New Balance and Asics, with a eye on Reebok, Adidas, and a brand or two I'd never heard of.
An hour later, we're elated with our choices. They're light as a feather and simulate running on pillows, as we learned from taking laps on Dick's 50 meter indoor track.
Now for the irony. Erika's are stylin'. She's a hip running chick.
Mine are...kinda ugly.
They're clearly the best shoe for me, but do they have to have metallic space suit stripes? And seriously...paisley? On a running shoe?
This is what I get for having higher standards.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I believe "Rhythmic Gymnastics" is the Hallmark Holiday of the Olympics. Hm, what sports drive people to turn on their TVs and watch for hours on end? Gymnastics? Okay, let's make up a sport that looks something like it so we can double our coverage. Please.
Everyone loves Dara Torres for showing young girls that age doesn't matter, and I love her for it too. I also love the subtler, more powerful message she gives just by standing on a swimming block--I am thin because I am healthy and fast, I am not thin just to be thin.
A sport should only be in the Olympics if you break a sweat. Guns do not belong in the Olympics, unless the wielder is being chased by a bear.
I feel badly for Olympians whose experience boils down to one race. Four years of six-hour training days, lives and families on hold, and all their biggest dreams culminate in one day, one event. What if they get the flu? Some bad chicken in their lo mein? What if their bike gets a flat, or a runner cuts them off and they fall down and sprain something? On the other hand, what if a no-name from a lonely poor country has the perfect day, and everything comes together? I guess it goes both ways. Hats off to the marathoners, triathletes, road racers, and distance swimmers who pin all their hopes on one good race.
Fencing freaks me out a little. Here! Let me stab you with my pointer until your helmet beeps, and then we'll stop, take a break, then do it again!
We will never again see an opening ceremony like the one in Beijing. I think 2012 will look 180 degrees different, because London isn't even going to try to compete with that one.
It's tough to compete in a sport with judges. Essentially the athlete is pinning their hopes on the opinions of judges, and I wonder sometimes how often a fourth-place finisher feels jilted or robbed. How often do they blame the judges? Does that make it easier to lose?
Michael Phelps for President.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I obsessed about this race--was my training adequate? Why are my legs always sore? If I'm peeling off my wetsuit and it sticks to my feet, will I tip over? And the ultimate dwell: I want to finish this race in three hours. For the week leading up, I managed to turn conversations about politics or our checking account back to the race, and it was starting to take the fun out of the sport (and our marriage). Lesson Number One is to focus on having the best race I can have that day and let the rest take care of itself.
Lesson Number Two is to cut my toenails. I didn't fully realize until the race was over and the shoes came off how bloodied and wounded my toes had become, thanks to a rogue pinky toenail that had free reign during an hour-long run.
Lesson Number Three applies to the swim portion as well as real life--be careful who you follow.
Drafting is perfectly legal and very advantageous in swimming; simply sidle yourself behind a comparable swimmer (without getting kicked in the head) and ride their current. On the long side of our .9-mile triangle I did just that. As we were swimming directly into the rising sun and it was near impossible to see the buoys, I figured I would draft behind this kind lady and let her guide me to the next turn. A few minutes into it I stopped seeing others around us, and a quick look around found us in the middle of the lake, twenty yards from the rest of the pack. Drat.
After my post-race nap I checked the results online. I already knew from my own watch about how fast I had completed each leg, but the online version gives me my times compared to all other females age 35-39. Lesson Number Four comes here. My overall age group rank was 41st out of 58--not in the top half (as I'm accustomed) for any portion except the swim. But here's the thing--I finished in less than three hours. So I think I'm slowly learning (the hard way) that it doesn't matter how well I do compared to others, so long as I'm improving myself.
Yesterday was the last triathlon of my '08 season. I already have plans for the off-season; I know how I can improve. Lessons learned.
Monday, August 11, 2008
10. A chilly morning prevented me from arriving in my usual red sassy shorts. Instead I kept my ginormous blue scrub pajama bottoms until it warmed a little. I won't complain; a chilly morning means comfortable race weather, in this case sunny and 72 degrees.
9. Camp's bike route is known for its hills--big and small, steep and rolling, all adorned with the curse words of triathletes who just want to finish, damnit. I put my quads to the test in this race, and did okay.
6. I also look cute in a swim cap.
5. I began working summers at Camp Whitcomb-Mason in 1996, and still have friends there today. This place holds a special spot in my heart--it was here at the fire ring, singing songs like "Princess Pat" and "Friends" that I began to learn who I am. I never in a million years thought I could finish the triathlon, though.
4. The delicious banana nut muffins were free to athletes after the race.
3. The lake was a bath-water 79 degrees, but the first and last 50 yards (not the middle) were marred with seaweed. I will use it as my excuse for the slow swim time. Yes. Seaweed.
1. The majority of volunteers in this race are camp summer staff. This means you will encounter twentysomethings at every turn singing "Boom Chicka Boom", doing the wave for you, or naively but supportively cheering "Almost there!" when you have four miles left to bike and a 5K to run. They're the best volunteers of any race I've done.
Next race--Pleasant Praire Triathlon, Olympic distance.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Erika has been out shopping with her mother for the past four hours, so I have the apartment to myself.
Welcome to my life if I were single and lazy.
So how have I spent the day?
1. Drive to Half Price Books to buy a book Erika wanted.
2. Stop at GNC to pick up a multivitamin (we're both low in iron).
3. Stop at Target for sundries.
4. Swing by Good Harvest Market to get a post-race recovery snack and Erika's favorite cookie.
And once I'm home:
A. Disassemble the fan and air conditioner to wipe down each, as the dust is giving Erika headaches.
B. Clean out the dishwasher, because it's ready and I'm bored and Erika hates doing it.
C. Blog (about life without Erika).
If it isn't painfully obvious, 85% of my daily activities somehow involve my lobster, and the percentage jumps dramatically if she's actually with me. Which begs the question: What the hell did I do with my life before I was hitched?
Does anyone out there remember their single life?
Sunday, August 3, 2008
She pauses midway to fix a snack and I'm reminded of recent advice from the eye surgeon: take the prism off your eyeglasses once in a while to test your progress and get your eyes used to working on their own again.
Why am I reminded of this in the middle of The West Wing? The truth is, with the TV on "pause", the room dark, I had nothing else to think about but how irritated I was with my one cloudy lens (the left lens with the prism on it gets cloudy from time to time). (Since we're on a truth tangent, Erika and I didn't beat off any incoming offers to hang out, either. We welcome them, if anyone is interested.)
Sitting in one place and watching TV seems like a safe way to experiment, so I go to the bathroom and take off the prism (it peels off like a thin rubber magnet). Instantly I'm back to double--two picture frames of Grandma Clare, two Erikas, two frozen images of the Deputy Chief of Staff. I think, it's too early. I'm not ready.
Fortunately, Erika takes a while to make brownie sundaes with strawberries. While I continue to wait, they continue to adjust. By the time she's ready, so am I. My vision has somehow become single and we watch the rest of the episode. Feeling like my lucky night, I go spend some time on the computer. At first, I'm feeling my eyes working--a strange sensation. Normally we go through day-to-day movements that our muscles never feel, like drumming your fingers or blinking. I could feel the muscles around my eyes concentrating on pulling it all together; they're like a tweezers we squeeze shut, and at any moment they could spring back open. But they never did.
Yesterday I put the prism back on for my bike ride. (I'm not crashing that stupid bike twice.) Hopeful and curious about last night's new territory, I peel it off once I'm home and get ready for a cookout with Erika's family. With no eye strain and good single vision, I drive us there. Talk about appreciating the simple things in life...Look at me, mom! I can drive with no prism! I actually choked up. The bright sun was brutal, but thankfully I only saw one of each relative.
Today I laid all my cards on the table. I woke up, put in my contacts...and went running. The ultimate test, running. Talk about massive unnecessary movement, not at all like The West Wing. The world was shaky, but now I'm starting to wonder if the world was always shaky when I ran and I never noticed. No double vision.
Here I sit, a nap and several hours later. A headache and some eye strain have forced my contacts out and glasses back on, but they are still without prism.
Nearly two months later, I'm almost better.