Friday, March 24, 2006

Spring Break

The calender tells us we are in the middle of Spring Break season, which seems to be running unusually long this year. Kids are out of school, parents have scheduled vacations, malls and airports are jammed with families and college students "getting away from it all".

Spring Break makes for a very interesting travel time for us business travelers. You know us -- we are the frenetic, cell phone/blackberry connected, caffeinated, yes-this-qualifies-for-carry-on-only, wrinkle-resistant, beat-you-to-the-gate travelers that can tell you where the nearest bathroom is in pretty much any US airport and where to get the best value for an airport snack.

You gotta have a lot of patience when traveling these days -- the tourists move slowly, apparently never having heard of a little thing called "airport security" and the "passenger screening" process; the parents with their "little darlings" in tow, who seem to believe that the airport corridors and furniture are actually their own little personal playgrounds; and the college students....well, what is there to say about them? What I try to do when traveling to increase my overall patience level is a lot of observing of the world around me. This helps me wile away the hours waiting for a delayed plane or waiting for checked baggage to arrive.

This is what I observed yesterday as I waited at baggage claim after arriving back from from San Diego:

My flight was full and the majority of passengers were of "elite" status, including me. So, instead of giving the elites the opportunity to board early, every one had to board row by row. I had a seat in the 6th row, which meant I watched pretty much everyone else board with their carry-on bags, computer cases, baby strollers, nappie bags, kiddie suitcases (don't even get me started on those...) blah, blah, blah. I knew that by the time I got on, there would be no overhead space and I'd have to have my bag checked, which is exactly what happened.

After I retrieved my bag at baggage claim, I noticed a number of college aged boys walking toward the exit, tanned, bleary eyed and wearing HUGE "si, yo estoy gingo-estupido" sombreros. They were obviously just returning from spring break some where south of the border, where they probably spent boatloads of their parent's cash doing tequilla shots off of various co-ed's tummies.

Right behind them were three other college-aged boys and a girl, dressed very differently. They were in army fatigues and walking out of the airport with family members. I couldn't really tell if they were home on leave or home from basics or just plain home.

I was struck by the juxtaposition of the two groups. Both the same ages, but living clearly different lives.

Although I am proud of the fact that people make a choice to serve our country, I feel very badly that this administration put them in a position where they have to go overseas to fight a war that should not have happened in the first place.

Putting political commentary aside, I think that most of us (at least those of us that think and listen and read) would agree that we ended up in Iraq under very false pretenses and have put thousands of people of all ages there in peril.

I watched the soldiers and wished that they could have been coming back from their spring break, tanned and full of crazy memories -- not memories that may make them crazy.

I also felt a twinge of "oh jeeze" about the sombereo chicos....I'm sure they had just a great time -- from what they can remember. I hope that they did not act the part of the ugly American tourist and that they are grateful that they CAN go to Mexico and live it up, while others in their peer group are worrying about a lot more than scrapping together beer money and passing their next exam.

I probably sound a bit judgemental -- am perhaps I am being so. The image just stuck me and stayed with me as I drove from the airport all the way back home.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ornery sumabit

So I've been just a little cranky lately.

Okay, a lot cranky.

Both work and my personal life have been a bit frustrating in recent months. Work for a variety of reasons too long to list here; my personal life partly because I feel like I'm not getting what I want/need out of my running group any more and I'm not yet sure what to do to fill that gap.

Our running group has gone under about five or six Director changes since I've been a member. The current (new) one is better than the last one, but the programs now are a bit confusing. I coach a Basics group and, this time around, there are about three classes going on at the same time, none of which have more than three members. Seems kind of silly to me -- but I'm not the director.

The Club, in general, has a reputation of being sort of "clicky". That was very true when I joined and, at that time, I was a very slow, much more overweight runner than I am today. I really got no respect at all and made no friends. (My sister and I had joined the club. The experience was so bad for her that she never went back). I only went back because I had run my first marathon without official training and decided to get some real training via the Club. At that time, it was just me and my Coach in the "slow runner" group. She was great and she got me through the training. I shaved over an hour off my finish time.

Since then, the "slow runners" have found a niche in the group, but we've really had to claw our way to get it. The fast runners barely give us the time of day and the new director had been a fast runner.

I will say, however, that pretty much everyone else thinks she is great.

I think I just may have outgrown the group.

I still love running with my friends, but may not need to be an official member anymore. I've been thinking long and hard about changing to a new running group -- I'll check them out after I get back from this business trip I'm on. (More about that below!)

Having said that, I did have a great run last night -- went about six miles. We are still struggling to get to spring, so the night was cold, but still beautiful.

Swimming has been coming along. I had my second lesson and have added a number of new drills to do before my third lesson. I'm really enjoying the water.

San Diego: I'm posting from a hotel here. I'm attending a business meeting for a couple of days. The weather is cold (San Diego standards) but there is no snow and an ocean -- so that rocks.

I got here earlier this afternoon and took a long walk to get my bearings. I have my running stuff and will get a run in. I also found a health club with a lap pool (an OUTDOOR lap pool) and I may go there tomorrow. The interesting this will be getting in to that pool. The air temp is only in the 60s.

When I went to check out the place, there were a couple of guys in the pool. I asked them how the water was and they reported that the water temp was warmer than the air temp, so that is a big plus.

If I do get in to the water, I'll consider it practice for those early summer open-water swims. Brrrrr.....

Monday, March 13, 2006

Glub, glub

A very snowy day here in Minneapolis. Just as we were starting to actually believe that spring might be on its way, we got socked with about 10 inches of wet, heavy March snow. It is beautiful out -- the limbs on the trees are hanging low topped with big heavy blankets...There are no foot tracks or muddy mounds around from the constant meltingfreezingmeltingfreezing. Just nice, pristine snow.

Hubby and I are both working from home, which is a treat. We are still in our jammies and multitasking away. Sort of a nice way to start a work week.

Our weekend was good. Hubby's son was with us and they went to a game conference on Saturday. I ran some errands, but did not run. (Tisk, tisk).

Sunday, I met a friend of mine (AmyP) for coffee. She found out and her husband are expecting their first child, so this is a very exciting time for them.

I then went to my first Total Immersion swim lesson. My coach is pretty cool -- he swam competitively in high school and college and then "relearned" swimming the "TI" way. His recent claim to swimming fame is having swum the English Channel. Took him slightly over 13 hours.

The deal about these English Channel swims is that, unlike triathlons, you can't wear a wetsuit and you can't hold on to your support vehicle for a break or to get your nutrition. You are constantly either swimming or treading water.


I have no real interest in doing something like that. Even this goofy 0.9 mile swim in JULY in a land-locked lake (which, by the by, was a balmy 87 degrees last summer when I did the Sprint distance of this event...) seems like a long way. I couldn't imagine swimming the dang Channel with no protection or relief.

I do want to be a better swimmer, however. So I signed up for six lessons.

He had me do a couple of lenghts and then basically told me all that needed changing. And I mean ALL that needs changing.

I don't turn enough on my side. I roll my shoulders, but don't roll my hips. I kick "too much". These are things I knew, but until he had me break down the stroke and ONLY work on the "laying side in the water" thing, I had no idea just how poorly I was swimming.

So for now (until further notice), I'm "banned" from the freestyle. My first assignment is to practice doing laps just laying sideways in the water, my lead arm extended over my head, my other arm in my "tuck" position, with my head facing straight down, unless I'm coming up for air. I'll do one lap with my right lead arm up; then come back with my left lead arm up. I get to use swim fins to help with the kicking for now. (Boy, do those ROCK!)

He wants me to get 2 1/2 hours of this practice in between now and next Sunday, when I have Lesson Two.

He also works with a group called "Minnestoa TriMasters". I don't know much about that group yet, but will probably do some open water swims with them this summer.

I'm still reeling a bit from the big Grandma's rejection slip. This is the first time since 2000 that I will not be participating in a Grandma's event. (I suppose I could do the 5K the day before, but hotel prices are crazy and it seems like a lot of money for not much glory).

However, I have decided to do a few more triathlons in place of the 1/, where there is a ying, there seems to be a yang.

The final fun thing from the weekend was the long-awaited season premier of "The Sopranos". Hubby and I had his sister and his neice, my sister and brother-in-law, and his kids over for a big Italian dinner before the show. Dinner was a ton of fun and it was great to get back in to Tony and his family. Should be a good season of Sunday night episodes.

I'll run this week and get my swimming in. Will also keep an eye out for that first robin!

Friday, March 10, 2006

rejected and dejected

I got my registration check BACK from Grandma's 1/2 marathon today. I'm so bummed! I received a couple weeks ago and mailed it back the same day -- before the day's last pickup at the Post Office.

Grandma's 1/2 picks its 4,500 participants via lottery. They pick 1,000 two business days after the entries are mailed out; then 2,500 a few days later and the final 1,000 a few days after that. My entry had to have been in that bin the entire time and still -- no luck.

Everyone else that I know of made the cut. I'm very sad I won't be participating. Someone suggested that I contact some people to see if they have any numbers available (I work for a company that is a major sponsor of the event and, apparently, sponsors get some numbers to give out. I know someone that was a big-shot spokesperson for our company and the event, but we are not exactly on the greatest of terms. (I personally think he suffers from "little man syndrome". You know, the "stamp my feet, scream and shout, I know better than you" personality. I didn't take too kindly to his every (little man) requests (aka whines/demands)when we worked in the same area. Some how I think he won't be so willing to do me a big favor...)

I'm just going to have to give up the thought that I'll be running that event this year.

There are a couple other events that I'm going to do this spring/summer that require some thoughtful training: Wells Fargo 1/2 marathon in May and LifeTime Tri in July. So, maybe I should think of this as a blessing in disguise. There are only three weeks between Grandma's and the Tri, so my peak training weeks and tapers would be screwed up if I participated in both events. This way, I can concentrate on really having a great performance in the Tri.

I start some swimming lessons on Sunday. I'm working with a coach that uses the "Total Immersion" approach. I signed up for a package of six lessons. One of the things that he'll do is video tape my swimming. That should be absolutely horrifying.

My hope is that I'll pick up on some techniques that will help my swimming be more comfortable for longer stretches. The swim in the Tri is 0.9, which is a long way for me.

I also plan on actually buying a wetsuit and doing a lot more open water swims this year. Hard to imagine that, as I gaze out on the still-frozen lakes here in the heart of Minneapolis.

As for Grandma's, I'll still go up to Duluth for the day to cheer on my friends, cuz, you know -- that's what friends are for.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Makes It All Worthwhile....

I had a great run last night. Really great. I felt strong, my breathing was just right. The evening was beautiful (above freezing and clear). Ran with some friends (Marcia, Kathy and Sarah), which always makes it worth while.

This is really only the second run of the year (!) that I can remember feeling breathing has been way off and I've been sluggish on most runs.

We started the "strength" phase of the training, so we ran hills. It was the first night of hill training, so no repeats -- just rolling hills starting at the Health Club and winding though parts of Theodore Wirth Parkway. Total mileage last night was five (5).

It was great.

Also ran last Saturday. I didn't run with the group. I'm so tired from the week that getting up at 7:00 when it is cold to go and run seems like an huge task. So, I slept in and ran later in the afternoon, when the temps were "managable" (30's). Ran Calhoun, Harriet and part of Minnehaha Parkway -- total mileage 8.25. The creek that runs through the Parkway was melted. It was great to see some open water. Spring has to be coming!

The run Saturday wasn't bad -- felt pretty okay, although my breathing was off. Bumped in to another running buddy (Amy K) who was out taking a walk with a friend of hers.

I'm a little concerned because my check for Grandma's 1/2 has not cleared yet. A couple of my friend's have had theirs clear. I'm thinking there is a possiblity I won't get in that race. I'm hoping that I will get in -- I love that event. Duluth is a very cute town and they really do the weekend right. If I don't get in, I'll figure out another event to do and really concentrate on my Tri event.

I'm supposed to start coaching a Beginning Running Group tonight. Usually I love doing this, but for what ever reason, I'm less excited about it this time around. I'm sure I'll pep up once I'm out there.

Food continues to be an issue, but....on the other hand, I consider how lucky I really am to have my health and only a few problems. Kirby Puckett and Dana Reeve passed away within the last 24 hours. Both were in their early 40's -- (44 and 45).

I'm glad to be her, breathing air and feeling, for the most part, pretty darn good.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

I have no willpower...

I'm back from San Francisco. I took the red eye home this morning. I got bumped up to first class, so I had a little more room to stretch out and get a bit of sleep. We arrived at 6:10 am -- I came home and slept for a couple hours. Now I'm catching up on work from my home office. It is nice to be home with the cats and in my jammies.

I am dismayed, however, at my lack of willpower (again). I'm heavier than I'd like to be; I'm in a "biggest loser" challenge with a few girlfriends; my pants are about as tight as they can get without going up a size and yet, I'm unable to string too many days of "good eating" together without faltering.

The meeting I attended brought lunch in -- standard sandwich, side salad and cookie. I made my lunch decision based on the size and type of cookie -- big and chocolate chip.

I was able to meet my brother, sister-in-law and neice for dinner and ate more than I should have there too. The snack shop was still open at the airport so, in addition to buying a book, I bought a bag of M & Ms...

I'm not always like this. When I turn it on, I can make very good choices and I go way out of my way to keep things "in control". (For example, I could very well have come to the meeting with my own lunch (sans cookie)).

For what ever reason, I'm just not wanting to turn it on right now. The irony is that I also don't want to pay the consequences (bigger pants; slower running times; seat belt extensions...)

I don't have much of any thing profound to say or add about all the reasons why I might be less inclined to stick with a program right now (frustrations at work; sick of winter; general case of "acting-like-a-baby-itis"...), but that is where I am for today.