Monday, September 20, 2010

Second Tri

Yesterday, I participated in my second triathlon. I had five weeks between the first and second and spent a lot of time with my trainer focusing on things that would improve my endurance. I can now tell you that I felt a lot better at the end of the second triathlon that I did at the end of the first one.

Over the last five weeks I decided I wouldn't do this one about 35 times (that's at least once a day for the duration). The DH didn't know when I was doing this event and planned a trip with his sons to go see a Raiders game the same weekend. That was the first time I decided I wouldn't do it. I just couldn't fathom taking care of all the race prep and hauling and stuff all by myself. Enter Kathleen, outstanding friend, to the rescue. I asked her if she would help me and she was not just willing, but even excited to be there with me. Having done our first triathlon together, I knew I could count on her support and so I was back in.

Over the next few weeks, there were countless reasons why I didn't need to do the race or didn't want to do the race, or just didn't feel like doing the race. I'd paid the money though, so each time I wavered, I was back in shortly. Then, I started watching the weather. September in Seattle is often beautiful. It starts cooling down and the days are quite lovely -- except when they aren't. The forecast was for ugly storms that day, but you just can't trust the weather report around here. I was in. I was out. I was in again when the forecast was for clouds, but no rain. Then, for a good portion of the night before the race, I woke to hearing stormy, hard rain outside. I was out. I did NOT want to do the race in the middle of an ugly rainstorm. Then, around 3:00 a.m. when I woke up, the storm had stopped. I was back in. When I actually got up, the ground was wet, but it was really nice out. There were high clouds and a little bit of blue sky. I was definitely in. The weather held out for the race. Barely.

The race starts with the swim, so I wore my cycling/running clothes, but flip flops on my feet. There were a bunch of really muddy spots, so I was a bit of a mess by the time I got to the transition area. I had to wash my feet off before putting on the wet suit so I wouldn't get mud all over it. It was an extra challenge, but was actually more funny than difficult. While in flip flops or barefoot, at some point I hit my heal on a rock. I felt it, but didn't think too much of it at the time.

The swim went great and I beat my last time by half a minute. The first transition was quite a bit faster than last time. The bike was fine, but exactly 5 seconds slower than the first race. My second transition was super fast. The run was 3.5 minutes faster than the previous race. Total difference was seven and a half minutes faster. The biggest difference in how I did this race was that I decided not to worry about running the whole 5K run. I walked really fast for a bunch of it. It helped my regulate my heart rate and run faster when I did run. It seemed to be a good strategy. When I finished, I was super tired and my legs were screaming, but I actually felt really good. I'm excited to train more over the Winter and work on improving in all three areas.

Kathleen was there at every leg of the race and it was great to see her at the finish line. After it was done, I went to gather all my gear and we started walking to the car. It was about a ten-minute walk to where she was parked, and while I was walking I realized that my heal hurt where I had hit it on a rock earlier. I thought maybe I had bruised it a little. We packed all the gear in the car and headed home. By the time I got home, my heal REALLY hurt. All the endorphins had officially worn off and I was in pain. Once in the house, I took my shoe off and saw that there was a big circle of blood in the bottom of my shoe and then I saw that my sock had a matching stain. I couldn't really tell how bad it was until after I showered and it was all cleaned off. It looks like I cut it in a little half-moon shape about a half inch across. I had to laugh that my first "sports injury" is a cut from a rock. How silly! I think it will be fine in a day or two though. It already feels better today than it did yesterday, so I'm not too worried about it.

In the end, I'm really glad that I finally decided that I was in and that I finished the race. It was a lot more fun this time around and I was able to enjoy every moment of the camaraderie and support much more than I did last time.

Thanks again, Kathleen, for your help! It made all the difference. I'm pretty sure that I would have decided to sleep through it if I hadn't known Kathleen was up and on her way to my house to pick me up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Little Bee

I just finished the novel Little Bee. "No one likes each other, but everyone loves U2" is one of the truths in the book. Little Bee is a novel that tells the story of a Nigerian orphan and a British couple whose lives become entwined through some seemingly random events. It's an extremely well-written novel and I'm thinking I need to read Chris Clive's other novel now.

The beauty of the story is in the narrative that Clive gives us alternating chapters between narration from the Nigerian Little Bee and the British Sarah. Both have very different perspectives on their shared story that gives the reader a sense of time and space that might be missing from the telling by either one of them alone.

As the story unfolded, I realized that the themes were much deeper than just the story of these women and the people around them. It is about what it means to be part of a global community and how that may help and harm us. I found it to be a wonderful way to think about these profound ideas while enjoying such a skillfully crafted story.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Silly Dilly Beans

Over Labor Day weekend, the DH and I took a quick trip to his sister's house and came home with all kinds of wonderful things. From the SIL's land, we got red potatoes, yukon gold potatoes, patty pan squash, crookneck squash, pears, fresh eggs, a frozen chicken, and a lot of green beans. We also went down the road a piece and bought watermelon, cantaloupe, and corn on the cob. Then, on our trip home, we stopped in Yakima and bought local honey, peaches, and plums. The entire back of the car was filled with food.

Once we got home, we had to figure out what to do with all of this bounty. I'm not a big fan of frozen beans, so I chatted with a few folks and decided to make Dilly Beans. First, we had to wash all the beans and trim the ends.
Once all the beans were trimmed, they were ready to go. Don't they look wonderful?

Almost good enough to eat! It took two trips to the store to get everything we needed to make the recipe. They only had tiny containers of dill weed at the grocery store I went to on the first trip and that just wouldn't do.
Once we had everything, we put most of the ingredients in the bottom of the jars. I also put the lids in a pan to sterilize and put the vinegar/water/salt mixture on the stove to boil while we stuffed the jars.Stuffing the jars was the hardest part of this recipe. Overall, the recipe is pretty easy, so the hardest part wasn't that bad.Once the jars were filled, we poured in the vinegar mixture, put the lids on, tightened them, and turned the jars over.When I turned them all right-side-up after they were cooled, all but one had sealed. When I got up the next morning, that 12th jar was sealed too.

Of course, now comes the hard part. We have to wait three months for the beans to really pickle before we eat any.

Dilly Beans
For each pint jar of beans, place the following in the bottom of the jar:
1-1/2 T dill seed
1/2 t mustard seed
1/8 t powdered alum
4 cloves garlic
1 sprig dill weed

Brine for all jars:
3 quarts water
1-1/2 quarts apple cider vinegar (not apple cider flavored vinegar)
1 C pickling salt (the green box if you're getting Morton's)

Sterilize jars. Place flat lids in boiling water. Bring brine to a simmer and leave on the stove as you pack the jars. Fill each jar with ingredients, packing the beans as tightly as you can and ensuring that all beans are 1/2-3/4 inch below the top of the jar. Also, make sure that dill does not poke out of the jar. Pour brine in until the jar is filled to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. place flat lid on jar and put ring on tightly. Turn jars upside-down to cool. After cooled, turn right-side-up and store for three months while the beans pickle.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Glutton for Punishment

I signed up for another fitness event that happened this week. It was the Islander Aquathon sponsored by BTO Multisport. It would be just a simple 500-yard swim and 5K run. No big deal! In fact, it seemed like such a pleasant event that the DH decided to do it with me. We swam at the pool last Saturday and he got tired out, but his swimming was great. We both were sure he could do it.

Then Wednesday came along. The day was turned out to be beautiful after starting a little wet and cloudy. By the time we got to Mercer Island, it was in the low 70's and sunny. We got checked in and I got my wetsuit on and we headed to the water for the start of the race. They separated the men and women for swimming waves, so the DH had to go in without me.

What I didn't realize while I was that while I was hoping the DH would have a good swim, it was decidedly not good. The water was extremely choppy and by the time he got close to the first buoy, he was in over his head. Literally. The waves knocked water into over his head and he got a mouthful of water. When he tried to get a breath, there was another wave of water. The result was a panicked swimmer who decided to cut his losses and get back to dry ground.

While that was happening, I got started on my own swim. When I got close to the first buoy, I was shocked at how big the waves were. It was so choppy that I felt like I was swimming backwards. I did OK when I was just swimming and not trying to breath or sight, but those two things are required when swimming, especially when it's a race. I got several mouths full of water, but fortunately didn't panic and could keep going. However, for the first time in a long time, I did roll over to my back and try to breath for a moment before continuing the swim. While swimming from the first buoy to the second buoy, it felt like someone was slamming against my right side the entire time and the waves went over my head several times while I was either trying to breath or sight. It was NOT fun. When I finally got out of the water, I was a little beat up and a lot tired. It was much more difficult than any other swim I've done.

Fortunately, when I got back to the transition area, the DH was there and helped me get my wetsuit off. It was much easier with his help than it would have been on my own. I was really glad to see him. When we started the run, he told me about his adventure. I was proud of him for trying to do the swim, because I knew he hadn't spent much time preparing, but I was really glad I hadn't know he was struggling while I was swimming. I just got to find out about it when he was safe on dry land.

The run was super hilly, so I walked up some of the hills, but it was a strong power-walk. We ran most of the time though and our times were OK. I was really glad when we were done. We each got a handful of Dilettante mint chocolate truffles and we headed home to warm showers and soft pillows. All in all, it was a good event, but not our best night.

Thursday, I had thought that I would get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning, but my body said NO. I was really sore from the swim. I took a day to rest and then I was back at it again today. Only two more weeks to my second triathlon!