Saturday, August 29, 2009

How Fast Can You Run?

I am not a good runner.

My form is awful, I am terribly slow.  I pant.  Groan.  Not a pretty sight.  Right now in my triathalon training, I can run 1 mile. Which I consider quite a feat considering that 7 weeks ago I panted walking up and down the stairs.

But back to running.

How bad is my running?  This bad.

When I was about 14, our dear friend Tom Brennan lived with us on Governors Island.  He was like a big brother to me.

And in true “big brother” fashion, he really knew how to piss me off.

We were playing cards one summer afternoon.  I am quite sure he was cheating.  Probably I thought that because I was losing.  But never mind.   I mean, I am not a sore loser or anything.


I am not exactly sure what happened.  I know I threw cards at him.  And he laughed in my face.  Then ran out the door and around the quad where we lived.

So, naturally, I chased him.  Eventually I caught up.  I was in an all out sprint.  He was barely breaking a sweat.  

Then came the huge insult.  He turned around and started running backwards.  I am chasing him like a crazy person, running as fast as I possibly can, and I could not come close to catching him.  Running backwards.  Laughing the whole damn time.

I can only  hope, that like wine,  I will get better with age.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aren’t You Brendan’s sister?

Old habits die hard.

Smoking. Which I don’t.

Swearing. Which I do.

Competing with your siblings and always wanting to win.  Check.

I spent the weekend in NJ visiting my parents.  They live on a lake, and the kids love swimming, tubing and fishing off the dock.

My sneakers made the trip with me, my resolve being to jog 2 miles once during the weekend.  I brought my bathing suit as well, in case Lucas wanted to go in.  I was really hoping not to have to wear it.

I love water.  Love to swim.  Love pools.  Like the ocean. 

Lakes.  Not so much.

Now I have two awesome brothers.  When we lived on Governors Island, my brother Brendan was like---a social butterfly on steroids.  He knew everyone.  He talked to everyone.   It got to the point where I would meet people at the baseball field,  or at the bowling alley—and they would say to me “Aren’t you Brendan’s sister"?”

“Ummm, no, he’s MY brother”.   What  oldest child wants to be defined by their LITTLE brother?

Yeah, me neither.

So as much as I was not wanting to swim in the lake-of-green-slimy-seaweed, when Brendan asked me to go for a swim I did not refuse.  Mostly because I have not had an open water swim and thought it would be good practice.

But I also knew that he was a good swimmer, would be good motivation and I thought it would be fun. Also, I thought maybe I could keep up with him. 

I pretty much looked at the back of his bald lovely head the whole way, but some things never change.  No matter how old you get, you don’t want to lose to your little brother.  I would pour on the gas for a few yards, chanting in my head “He’s your little brother, don’t let him win” over and over in my head.  

It made no difference.  His head got smaller and smaller in the distance.  And I was okay with that.

Until we got out of the water and he asked his wife if she had gotten pictures.  He wanted one showing how far ahead of me he had finished.

Like I said, old habits die hard.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The All Clear

Today I had a date with this:


And this:


And this:


Yes,  today was the day of my annual scolding  physical. 

When I mentioned to my doctor that I was training for a triathalon, her first look was of horror.   I am also pretty sure she stifled a gasp.

Once she righted herself in her chair, she asked me all the relevant questions.

How much do you exercise?

More than I ever thought I would.

What are you eating?

Too much it appears.

What distances are involved in the race?

600 meters swim,  14 mile bike ride and a 5K run. Or walk. Whatever I can manage.

It was after I answered that last question that she seemed to relax.  Apparently when I said “training for a triathalon” visions of Ironman popped into her head.  Marathon thin, muscle bound runners and olympic-rate athletes competing in grueling fashion.

Considering that, I am surprised she did not laugh me out of her office.

Apparently I am almost the picture of health.

Do you smoke?

Not since….never mind.

Do you do drugs?

Nope,  I’m square like that.

Do you drink alcohol?


How much?

One bottle  glass at night.

This is where she told me that alcohol involved empty calories.

And I nodded and smiled that “go to hell” smile that I get when I can tell I am about to get unsolicited advice.   She left it at that.  Which is a good thing.  I earn every single last one of those empty calories and I will spend them as I darn well please.  

So I have been given the all clear.  Good thing since I started this exercise program about 6 weeks ago.  Kind of like closing the barn door after the horse is already out.  Me being the horse.  

I left with a request to come back in 6 months to “chart my progress”.  I think that might be code for “I want to see if you are capable of sticking with this” but that could be the cynic in me talking.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different

I am a Weight Watchers know-it-all.

I know it all, but I can’t apply it all. Ever.

I am quite sure I could teach an entire class on the ins and outs of point exchanges, the value of water consumption, the conversion of exercise points. Except that when it comes to getting off those last 10 pounds and maintaining goal weight, I fall flat on my face.

Weight Watchers saw me through close to 100 pounds of baby weight. I am pretty sure 50 of those pounds were lost without a drop of sweat.

Just sayin’.

WW has always been a plan I have had success with.

Until now. I am stumped.

When I started working towards my triathalon goal over a month ago, I made a conscious effort to count points. I cut back on alcohol (no easy feat), started drinking tons of water, getting in lots of fiber and veggies. I exercise 5-6 times a week for an average of 40 minutes per workout.

And I have lost 5 pounds. The same 5 pounds I had lost 2 weeks ago. And I must admit I am beginning to get discouraged.

Now, I have never been one for fad diets. Except for one brief flirtation with the Scarsdale diet when I was in high school. But we no longer speak of that. Except in therapy. Suffice it to say the only thing I learned from that escapade was if you want to eat chocolate chip cookies, do it in the closet.

Come to think of it, that explains a lot.

But I digress.

So this journey is certainly not to attain a weight loss goal. But one would think that all this exercise would yield some weight loss benefit. Right???? Not so much. So I am going to try something completely different.

Now, before you go all “Oh no she didn’t” on me (Leigh), it is not the "eat only cabbage one day, only bananas the next" diet. Although that has been utilized by someone in my family who shall remain nameless. Dad. It appears to be a balanced and moderated approach to shaking up your metabolism and eating healthy. And right now I am willing to try something different to see what happens.

I found it here: The Flat Belly Diet.

The book should be here in a few days. Now I am off to chew on bark baby carrots.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spinning Prince Found

And he lives here:

And he rides this:



When I went in I looked like this:


And I left looking like this:



Amazing, no?

Actually that lovely lady in blue is my friend Julia who was so kind as to coerce me   invite me to Spincity. 

It was fantabulous.  The music was awesome.  The instructor was great.  A true motivator.   I realized that I have been spinning for the sweat, and not for the form.  I learned a lot about good form.   Seems I have a long way to go. 

One ride at a time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To Clip or Not to Clip?

REI is the bomb.

We spent an air-conditioned afternoon there last beastly-hot weekend, scoping out all of our triathalon-related necessary items.

Bikes. Helmets. Clothing you can swim in. Wet suits to put over the clothes you swim in. Learning the difference between clip and clip less bike pedals.

I know from close-to-my-heart experience that I am going to have trouble getting used to the bike clips. Or anything that requires a tremendous amount of coordination. My nickname in college was Grace. Need I explain?

Okay then.

I worked in a deli at the University of Michigan. One of my jobs was to use the meat slicer. (You can open your eyes, this has nothing to do with missing digits). So I had to open all the necessary items and slice them up- turkey, corned beef, cheese, the works.

The ham came shrink wrapped in this long metal container. I would open one end of the long can, tip it upside down and the ham would slide out.

Except this one time. The wrapping was melted to the other end. So I could not get it out. So I took the long metal container in both hands and started to shake it up side down. Still nothing. I shook harder. And harder. And harder.

And in one quick motion the ham went flying out into the sink. But I had so much momentum going with my arms that when the can lost all it's contents, I ended up smacking myself between the eyes with the can. I hit myself so hard I had a golf ball sized egg between my eyes. Very attractive. After nearly passing out, the manager of the deli made me go to University Health Services to get checked out.

That was quite embarrassing. Was injury work related? Sort of. Explain what happened. I hit myself in the head with a can of ham.

I just hoped that the doctor wasn't that cute.

It went from being grotesquely bruised, to moderately red, to just looking like a large pimple in a few weeks.

Which brings me back to our current question. To clip, or not to clip?

Kissing Frogs

I have taken a fair amount of exercise classes in my life. When we lived in ND I was an aerobics nut. I practically lived at the Y every morning.

There were a few instructors that I loved, some were okay, some I really disliked. I kissed a lot of frogs, and found a couple of princes.

Adrienne and I are still looking for our spinning prince. So far we have kissed 2 frogs. The last one was the yuckiest.

Monday morning Adrienne I arose and headed for the Y. Adrienne does not speak for at least an hour after waking up. Sometimes 2 hours. So our morning routine is entirely without words. I shake her foot at 5:35, she gets up, gets dressed, comes downstairs, gets her water, gets in the car. All without a word. We drive to the Y. In silence. We enter the Y. In silence.

When we got to the spinning room, there was this chatter coming from inside. I figured the instructor just chatted a bit before class began.

I wish.

She had this twangy, kind of grating voice. And she never shut up. Not for the whole entire hour. She played really loud Woodstock music. Adrienne loved that. Not. And kept talking to us about visualizing cycling through a corn maze. When all I was really visualizing was a muzzle. It was excruciating.

So we still have 4 more instructors to try.

Here's hoping one of them turns into a prince.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Ugliest Suit in the World?

The weekend I agreed to do the triathalon with my sister, I went for my first real swim in a long while. No "wading" in the ocean, taking a "dip" in the lake. I put on goggles and swam. In my size never-you-mind red floral Lands End mama bathing suit.

I soon realized that if I wanted this bathing suit to remain decently beach-worthy and not have the resistance of the entire pool working against me, I would have to get a **gasp** Speedo.

Now I am inherently cheap. I come by it honestly. My mother used to cut the alligator off Izod shirts and reapply them to larger sized generic shirts so my brother would think he was wearing a name brand.

I made a pact with myself that this journey would not break the bank. I was going to try and do this as inexpensively as possible. So with that in mind, when it came to a VERY large Speedo, I turned to Ebay.

The thought of buying a not-new suit might make some cringe. Or even turn white. I didn't even tell my daughter because I knew I would get the look of horror that comes with the realization that a previously worn bathing suit was going to enter her home.

I mean, it can be washed right? And sterilized? And washed again?

In any case, it was not used but NWOT (which is New Without Tags for you non-Ebayers). And it is butt-ugly. My husband advised me not to wear it in the ocean when the blues are running for fear I might be mistaken for a lure.

I don't care. It was $9. And I don't think it's THAT ugly. You be the judge.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I Have a Co-Conspirator

I have a co-conspirator. If I'm not careful, she just might kick my butt.

Adrienne was in Virginia visiting my brother last week. Last Sunday Brendan did a Dog Days of Summer triathalon, and since it was a relay, asked Adrienne if she wanted to run the 5k leg. She agreed.

She came home with a Speedo, bike shorts and the announcement that she was going to do the Tri For A Cure with me next August. Which is huge because Adrienne has never been keen on her swimming skills.

She is an awesome kid. Determined, motivated, empathetic, driven. And stubborn. Really, really stubborn.

Hmm, I wonder where she gets that from? Never mind.

When she was 8 we used to take swimming lessons at the Warwick Valley High School in New York. She got to the point where she was paddling upright, keeping herself buoyant. Until one day during class her bikini top fell off. She was mortified, ran into the bathroom and announced she was never taking swimming lessons again.

And she never did. This is where the stubborn comes in. Like her.....father. Right.

So she steadfastly refused to take lessons from there on in. But now she has had a change of heart, and I have made it my mission to get her swimming ready for the Tri next August.

The swim is, however, in the ocean.

One step at a time.

Friday, August 14, 2009

500 Meters

I swam in junior high and high school. Not super fast, but proficiently. My first taste of an organized swim team was when I lived on Governors Island in New York. We swam under the auspices of a local YMCA, coached by the indomitable Captain Cadigan, who was a tad scary looking only because he was like a million feet tall. But he was really a gigantic teddy bear.

He used to requisition the big blue GI school bus and drive us up the West Side Highway to swim team practice every Saturday. I don't know how all those kids and all that noise didn't drive him out of his mind.

One meet we participated in was an overnighter. We spent the night camped out in what I think might have been a church, then bombarded a local McDonalds or donut shop (I don't remember which one) for breakfast the next morning. Captain Jack and 30 kids. The place may never have been the same again.

I remember this meet and this one race like it was yesterday. We were at Marist College for an invitational meet. The fastest swimmer on our team, Kaela Kozlovsky, had to scratch from the 500 meter freestyle. Lucky her. So Coach Cadigan thought it would be a good idea for me to swim it.

Or not.

I am a go-out-quick, give-it-all-you've got kinda swimmer. Sprints. 100 meters tops. It was kind of like sending your 50-meter dash person to run a marathon.

50-meters in I was thinking this wasn't so bad. 100-meters, I was still hanging in there.

By the time I got to 250 meters I thought I was going to drown. Thank God there was someone flipping a "laps swam" card at one end of the pool. It was all I could do to keep going, forget counting how many laps I had done.

I kept plodding along like an injured whale. The rest of the field finished. I was still swimming. For a while.

When I saw that orange card get flipped over, I heard the Hallelujah Chorus in my head. One lap to go and this would be over. I got out of the pool and promptly threw-up.

I never swam that distance again.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I am pleased to note that progress is being made.

1. I have now lost 5 pounds. A bag of sugar as my Weight Watchers leader used to remind us. Not that I would strap a bag of sugar to my behind, but you get the point.

2. I went to the running clinic last night, and could actually walk up and down the stairs without wincing. All day.

3. I did not spend the entire hour of spinning class willing the hands on the clock to move faster.

I consider that progress!


Monday, August 10, 2009


Yesterday's Tri for A Cure in Maine was awesome. Amazing. Inspiring. Watching the wave of survivors jump into the ocean, swimming together--phenomenal.

I cannot wait until next year, this is me......

Oh who the hell am I kidding? I will never look like that. But it really doesn't matter. I will do this on my own terms, at my own pace.

And after yesterday, I am so freakin' excited for next August.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It's Goin'

So how's it going?

It's goin'

I have fallen into a routine of swim/spin/elliptical/power walk. And I think it really is becoming a routine. Which is good. I guess it takes three weeks to make something you do "routine". I might be on to something here.

Adrienne and I took a spinning class at the Y yesterday. Very enjoyable. I love that she likes to come with me. Not that she speaks to me at 6am mind you, but it is still nice to have company. Yesterday my bike registered 13.5 miles in an hour. That was pretty cool. Of course out on the open road there are hills and diversions so I am sure I won't go that far in an hour but it was still cool to see that on the monitor.

Pluggin' along! Next a mile!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Okay, Ouch.

These are my new puppies. I bought them yesterday for the start of the running clinic I signed up for. It started last night. This morning, my body is screaming at me. Wanna know what it is saying?

Are you nuts?

Do you think you are 21 again?

Can you take it easy on me??

I have not run in almost.....hmmm... 15 years? Maybe longer. Truth is, I don't really enjoy running. But I am trying to come to an agreement with it we can both live with. I just want to be able to run a 5K without puking. Setting the bar low? Perhaps. But for now, that is my goal.

Last night was challenging. Good, but challenging. When I arrived at the track, I was handed a sticky with my workout on it. 200, 200, 400, 200, 200, 400. Just numbers to me, but soon I realized how much sweat they would represent.

We began by taking a jog 2 times around the track. Two times. 800 meters. Truth be told, I was pretty much ready to call it a night after those 2 laps. Then we stretched, and then began the workout. 200, 200, 400, 200, 200, 400. Wow! Lots of sweat and some new friends later, we were done with our speed runs. I use the word speed lightly. I was at one point passed by a kid playing lacrosse who looked like he was out for a Sunday stroll. But never mind that I half-walked the last 200, I finished and that's that.

I am actually looking forward to next Tuesday. I may never love running, but maybe I can start to like it. Maybe.

Monday, August 3, 2009

From Couch to Triathlete in 10 months or less

I love my sister.

She is an inspiration, an amazing person. And a pain in the you-know-what.

She challenged me to do a triathalon with her. Me. The formerly-in-shape person turned couch potato. So I took her up on it. And in return she is going to wear the cutest "Crop Till You Drop" sweatshirt at our first scrapbooking weekend together. But first I have to get my majorly out of shape, overweight body on the road to biking/swimming/running at a sprint triathalon. OMG. This is a blog to document the journey.

Follow along--it may prove to be a fun ride!