Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Wrinkle in Time

Well, despite some people's doubts that I might not use half the crap I brought with me on my giant road trip...some people were wrong!

The only thing I didn't use was the wetsuit.

But that is part 2 of my tale. Part 1 starts in New Haven, Connecticut, my hometown.

There is nothing quite like rolling down the road in a brand new (rental) car (Hyundai Sonata, it rocks), a cuppa 'bucks in one hand, XM radio blasting.

This trip was intended to be therapeutic. I haven't been to New Haven (place of my birth and where I grew up and where I left the minute I turned 18) probably for 30 years. I had never visited my brother. It was time to go back and face the demons.

It literally felt like I was time traveling, since XM radio has stations devoted solely to the '80s, '70s, '60s, '50s, '40s. As the wheels rolled, I slowly rolled back the dial, and the clock, until I was young again...

I spent the first day driving around by myself, getting reacquainted, and amazingly, easily remembered exactly where everything was. First stop was the house I lived in until age 11, in Hamden, Conn., a woodsy still-largely undeveloped suburb of New Haven. Just how undeveloped, you ask?

Main St., Hamden, Ct., where my very first boyfriend (in kindergarten), Charlie Shanley, lived. (I believe he now plays for the other team. NOT MY FAULT.)

A more accurate shot of Main St., Hamden, Conn. Go Hamden, keeping it real!

5 Carbonella Drive THEN.

5 Carbonella Drive NOW.

A stream ran through my front yard. I was forever falling in it and getting yelled at. There were nine houses on my street and no other neighbors.

The stream has a name.

We lived next door to the Nature Center. It was a big treat to go there.

At the Nature Center, walk down this hill to get to the stream.

This is what's left of the petting zoo. Can you believe the size of the foundations? So tiny! I think they held a few owls and some turtles.

A very magical stone. I'm still waiting...

There's more, oh so much more.

I visited my high school, my grammar school, my two middle schools, my church, my sister's high school, the Yale Law School, where I spent so much time sitting on the steps waiting for my mother to pick up or drop off manuscripts (she was a typist), the apartment we lived in for a year when my parents split up, the house we moved to when they got back together the next year...And maybe the best surprise of all, I visited my very good friend from 8th grade, Rosemary, who I just reconnected with on FaceBook and who filled in a lot of holes for me.

You see, I have seriously blocked out a lot of my childhood. Until recently, I hadn't realized exactly how much. In the middle of one night during that pivotal 8th grade year, my mother moved out of our house, leaving me and my crazy brother behind, with no goodbye. I remember my father coming to school to tell me he'd changed the locks, and giving me a new key...but did I really remember that? Oh yes, it really happened. Rosemary remembers it, too. She remembers thinking there was "something wrong" in my family, but you just didn't discuss those kind of things. I remember being deeply ashamed. Humor became my refuge.

There were a lot of sad memories, but some happy ones too. Pizza! Guitar lessons for $1 a pop from a nun! Choir practice! Rosemary reminded me how we both lusted after a Carman Ghia that we passed every day as we walked home from school. She reminded me that we both swore we'd be journalists when we grew up (eh, I came close. Sort of.), and that I actually WAS the editor of my high school newspaper.

Remember that advice to "do one thing everyday that scares you?" Well, my thing was visiting my brother.

Nothing to fear there anymore.

I grew up in a magical place. A place with wishing stones, and and hills with special names. I can see now exactly why I love being outdoors and being around nature. It's what I grew up with.

View from my house.

I miss it all dearly.

Friday, July 17, 2009

NBTR: Out!

I've got Big Plans for next week people.

First, I rented a car, because I don't trust my car as far as I can throw it. Renting a car involved finding the cheapest one, and checking 20,000 web sites and the whole thing was hair raising.

Next: On Sunday I will load up the car with bike, wetsuit, various electronic gizmos and chargers, yoga mat, running shoes, bike shoes, bathing suit, workout clothes, (and maybe some other stuff to wear...do people actually take all this crap on a PLANE when they travel??) and drive to my hometown, New Haven, for a reunion with an old high school friend, plus visit all my old haunts, maybe go back to my high school and terrorize the nuns, and visit my brother for the first time ever.

Tuesday night: Drive to .... CAPE COD!!! Vacation starts!! I'll be visiting partying with my college roommate, she of Boston Marathon photography fame. I found Cape Cod Athletic Club, and I hope I can join them for track, open water swim, maybe a run or two. Lots of laying around doing nothing. Possibly a trip to Martha's vineyard. Let's see how much I can pack into four days. Be afraid Renee, be very afraid.

Saturday: Drive to NYC! Meet friends, tool around town, hopefully find some place to stay Saturday night, the chairs on Times Square if all else fails,

and on

Sunday: Cheer friends on at NYC Triathlon!


Oh, and also? Fall in love and lose 10 lbs.

Drive home Sunday night.

Return to work renewed and rejuvenated!

That, or move to Maine.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Training Tri Race Report: Plus ça change ...

(Now with table fixed!) Last Sunday (wow, it seems so long ago!) was my first D.C. Tri training tri of the season. D.C. Tri's training tris are legendary. $5, limited to 120 people, they take place at evil (or delightful, depends) Haine's Point, in the Haine's Point 50 m pool, 3 long loops around the point on the bike (16.8 miles) and a 5k run. It's a great event, run entirely by volunteers, held early in the a.m. to beat the traffic since roads are not closed. Transition takes place on the grassy median strip, where bikes are laid down (chainring side UP please!)

So it's also a terrific way to judge your level of fitness from year to year, since the only (external) thing that changes is the weather. Internal changes, on the other hand...

Oh let's cut to the chase. This year versus last year looks like this:

July 12, 2009July 13, 2008
swim 400 yards 10:34 (2:39/100m)11:11 (2:48/100m)
t1 4:053:47
bike 16.8 miles 1:04:58 (15.52mph)1:04:51 (15.54 mph)
t2 1:321:24
run 5k38:37 (12:27 min/mile)36:50 (11:53 min/mile)
Total 1:59:461:58:03

Well, on the one hand I had high hopes this year of crushing last year's time. On the other, I thought: What better time and place to experiment?? So my first big experiment was using all the skills that have been beaten into me by the swim nazi. The swim works like this: the field is divided in half; people start in the middle lanes and work their way up 50 meters using one side of the lane, back 50 meters on the other side of the same lane, under the rope, and etc., to the end like this:

You give your 100m time to the folks at the sign-up table, and get seeded accordingly. So I said "2:30", meaning that people who swim say, 2:20, would be in front of me. Theoretically. If they actually, you know, tell the truth. Well, I happened to overhear a few (two) little birdies give their estimated swim times, and let's just say that I had my doubts about said times, which of course I voiced. Why does this matter, you ask? Because, if you are slower than you say you are, well, the people behind you are not going to be happy. It's not terrifically easy (see technical diagram) to swim around people, since other peeps are coming right towards you, in the other half of the lane.

So all I'm saying is: I could SOOOOO have knocked another 15 seconds off my swim time except for the person in front of me, for whom I had to actually STOP swimming, cuz I couldn't pass him! FIFTEEN SECONDS! (Not that it matters.) When I got to 200 meters, I asked him if I could cut ahead. Cuz I was brought up polite like that.

Even so, the swim was my one bright spot over last year. Well, ok, I did shave I meant ADD 7 seconds off to my bike. And it's entirely possible that I was a wee bit too laid back during transitions.

My bike "experiment" I learned from watching the Tour. Turns out those dudes? When they want to go faster? They use bigger gears! WHO. FREAKING. KNEW. Since Haine's Point is flat as a pancake, I tried to stay in my big giant gear, and push as hard as I could. I'm actually happy with my bike time because a) it practically killed me (always a good thing, right?), and 2) last year I did not use the Big Girl gear AT ALL, NEVER. (I'm not totally sure what that means in terms of performance, or smartness. Bike people, weigh in please.)

And then there's the run. I have no idea what happened because 1) I did not walk (I know, hard to believe, right?) and b) I did not give up nor did I feel like giving up. This is big progress people! Going from T2 into the run was way tougher than I remember from last year, and way way tougher than it was during the ITU sprint just four weeks ago, when my 5k time was 35:32 (11:28 min./mile).

So, with all that in mind, and the Nation's Tri (Olympic) the only thing left on my dance card this season on Sept. 13, over which I am already freaked, and which sounded just tough enough, I did the only thing I know how to do: When I heard that the MidAtlantic Regional Club Championship, the North East Triathlon on August 16th, had some extra spots open for DC Tri peeps, I took the plunge and signed up.

As someone told me at the track tonight: "Just think of it as a great big party."

Or a wake.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I Am a Moron

On the schedule: Wednesday night track workout, with the D.C. Road Runners: 10x400, with 100 recovery, which, with a 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown, would give me a nice 5 miles.

I haven't been on the track in <cough> weeks, so I was a little worried. Ten repeats? Really? Maybe I could shoot for five and see if I'm coughing up a lung.

I met up with my New Triathlon Program mentee, who is two years my senior (yes, you read that right), and runs 7 minute miles. Yes, I'm mentoring her. Don't ask.

She agreed to pace me to hit my target 400 time, 2:16-2:22, based on the handy McMillan running calculator.

Off we go! Whee! I am FEELING GOOD!

First 400: 2:22


2nd 400: 2:03

Damn! But, OK, that was a total fluke. No way did I just run an 8 minute mile.

3rd 400: 1:58

What??! I'm not even out of breath! I must be in way better shape than I thought.

4th 400: 2:01

OK, I am in AWESOME SHAPE. I can do 10 of these standing on my head. I'm barely sweating! I am en fuego.

5th 400: 1:55 I am seriously not even trying. Have I finally conquered running?? I RULE!

And that's when my mentee and I split up, so she could, as she colloquially put it, "Challenge myself a little bit."

No problem.

I'm amazed I managed to carry on a conversation. How is that possible?? In fact, I vaguely recall um, being unbelievably annoyed by peeps chatting on the track. "If you're chatting, you ain't working!"

So, you know where this is going, right?

6th 400: 1:55 God, I'm so consistent!

7th 400: 1:5...wait a minute....how come I'm starting and ending at the exact same place even though I have 100 recovery in between? How is that possible??? [Wheels start slowly turning as brain processes question. And...cue lightbulb.]


YOU ARE DOING 300s!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Nevermind 10x400, you need 10xdopeslap!

8th 400: 2:22 Ah, yes, this suddenly feels harder. And familiar.

9th 400: 2:34 Oh HOW THE MIGHTY FALL.

10th 400: 2:23 Le sigh.

In my defense, if I hadn't broken my NO TALKING rule, I would have been paying attention, and I would have realized that if you run 400, with 100 recovery, it's not really possible, mathematically, physically, or on any other plane of existence, to start and end at the same place.

Oh yes, you want ME as your MENTOR.

Sign up here.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Fourth of July: The Day in Pictures

Fourth of July, Part Un. The annual Autism Speaks Fourth of July 5k, Potomac, Maryland.

The kid really loves this race. No, really.


Bad. Ass.

A joyful runner.


Self-portrait, running.

Deirdre on the run.

More running.

Bad ass? Or big ass? You decide.

Fourth of July, Part Deux: Annual Capitol Hill street party: the water balloon toss. Get outta the way kid!

Eat crackers and whistle contest. Not as easy as it looks.

Everybody limbo!

Low, low, low, low, low, low, low.

Fourth of July, Part Trois: On the mall.

Someone crashes.

Et, voila.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

July 4th 5k, the Streak Continues!

It's another (course) PR at the annual July 4 Autism Speaks 5k:

2009: F52 784/1216 23/40 32:10 10:22

2008: F51 936/1393 21/42 32:33 10:28

2007: F50 614/883 14/26 32:18 10:23

2006: F49 474/728 21/37 32:42 10:31

2005: F48 566/709 28/34 34:41 11:10