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On the Merits of Red Wine

August 26, 2011 Family, Fitness, Food, Fun 1 Comment

For a gal with all this Irish blood in her (I’ve got Sweeney, Leahy, and Sheridan in my family tree), you wouldn’t expect the sun to love me so much. And that’s a real blessing for me because I love it, too.

Which one of these is not like the others?

Being a triathlete, I’m in the sun a lot while training and racing. Even in the off-season, I love to bask in it. Sure, I slather my face and chest with sunscreen and wear a floppy hat or visor whenever possible, but I don’t do much in the way of sun protection other than that. I rarely burn, and it turns to a golden tan within 24 hours if I do.

Perhaps it’s because I drink so much red wine.

No really.

A study published in the May 11 issue of The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (and translated into common-speak by CBS News) reveals that “flavonoids help prevent the skin from forming reactive oxygen species. It’s these ROSs that react with UV rays to destroy cells and cause sunburn.”

In other words, with the amount of red wine I drink, I’M GOLDEN. 

I’m also digging what another study says about red wine being “exercise in a bottle,” especially during the off-season. At this rate, I can’t go wrong!

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Molly’s Law

August 14, 2011 Family, Fear No Comments

We all know that Murphy’s Law states the following: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong”.

In the last two weeks, I’ve discovered an emerging trend that I fear is on its way to becoming a law. Molly’s Law, if you will:

“When I am more prepared than I normally would be, something will go wrong.”

I guess the good news is that my over-preparedness makes me “ready” for a disaster to take place… but it’s still no fun. Two weeks ago, it was Argus getting sick and dying the night before my race. I was so grateful that I had gotten all my race gear ready immediately when we got home from packet pick-up. I needed that confidence that everything was ready to go in the morning — and it was!

Today, it was an avoidable disaster.

I don’t know whatthefuck Greg thought he was doing lighting this gunpowder in the driveway. “It was old,” he said. “I didn’t think it would do anything.” All I know is that he asked me to get him an ice pack in a tone of voice that I am not sure I’ve ever heard him use. I went running to the kitchen to tend to him.

He has burns on his right arm from the hand to the elbow. His face was also burned, but not nearly as badly. We got ice packs on everything immediately and changed them out for about an hour. He just took a cold shower to clean everything off and have a look. I’m officially out of my league on how to help, even with Google as my assistant. Pete is coming by with his big ol’ bag of first aid (and his extensive knowledge). Still, we might be headed to Urgent Care tonight.

My plan is/was to hit 6:30 AM yoga and then rush to an all-day babysitting job tomorrow. Dinner for tonight is ready for whenever we’re ready to eat it. My breakfast and lunch are packed for tomorrow. My workout clothes are laid out, as is the bag I’ll bring for anything that might arise watching a 16-month old (swimsuit, change of clothes, running shoes, book, etc…).

I am so grateful that he wasn’t hurt worse. The night/tomorrow/week is still very much salvageable. And I dare-say I’m ready for it!

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Argus The Dog: 10/15/05 – 7/29/11

August 5, 2011 Family, Fido 1 Comment

Argus left this world with a howl on Friday July 29, 2011. Diagnosed with bone cancer in October 2010, Argus fought hard until the very end and never lost his sense of humor — he snagged a piece of fresh salmon off the dining room table the night before he died.

Argus’ early life was fraught with peril. Rescued by a shelter in Woodland, CA, “Tad” had already suffered a broken leg by the time he was three months old. Just as he was getting used to his new name and home in San Mateo, Argus contracted a mild case of parvo and fought bravely to overcome it. There were numerous other near-death experiences during his puppyhood, often triggered by his own misbehavior. It was joked that he was just one poo-rolling incident away from an early demise. He was famous for escaping from the back yard and splashing around in the nearby creek, choosing to beg forgiveness rather than ask permission.

In adolescence, Argus developed characteristics of the breed his trainers believe he was partially descended from — Anatolian Shepherd. With acute hearing, exceptional eyesight, and the strength to take down wolves, horses, and even lions, the Anatolian Shepherd Dog is a superb guardian of his flock. Argus took his role of guarding his flock very seriously, lovingly earning him the nickname “Killer” by friends. He loved adults and children of all ages, but did not take kindly to dogs he felt were a threat to his territory.

Most notably, Argus was an adventurous dog and enjoyed exploring new places with his people:

Tahoe!

The Beach!

Yosemite!

Camping!

Hiking!

Kayaking!

Stand-up Paddling!

He mostly just wanted to be along for the ride…

Argus is survived by his adoptive parents, Greg and Molly, and numerous friends — both human and canine — who will miss his stoic charm and unconditional love.

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Farewell, Good Boy

August 1, 2011 Family, Fido 3 Comments

Twelve hours before the gun went off for my Half Ironman on Saturday morning, Argus took his last breath on this earth.

Here he is a couple of hours before that, relaxing with us along the Russian River:

We’re heartbroken, but relieved he is no longer in pain.

There is much more to say. But for now, this sums it up: we miss our good boy.

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Work In Progress?

June 28, 2011 Family, Freewheeling 1 Comment

It has been EIGHT DAYS since there has been any progress on Project Door Handle Replacement.

I ask every day if the project is at a place where I can finish it. A spark of recognition lights in Greg’s eyes (“Oh yeah, I need to finish that.”), and then he assures me he’ll get to it. His priority is the van. Sure, the van project is sexier than the door handle project… but is also going to take 174 times longer to complete.

At this rate, maybe only 173 times longer.

Snapshot of the corner of my living room

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Perspective from 245 Feet (and WWW: June 19)

June 27, 2011 Family, Fear, Friends 2 Comments

Last week’s excitement was the would-be jumper on the Golden Gate Bridge. The GREAT news is that he didn’t end up jumping! Several friends have sent me links to news stories that ran about this man and another person who was talked down on Wednesday. What a relief!

I promise I won’t go on and on about this incident beyond today, but the dichotomy between me and a fellow human being was just so stark. Thanks to all of you who have reached out via email, blog comments, on Facebook and Twitter, and over wine. I suppose that level of support adds to the dichotomy… which is where I’ll pick this back up.

Most days, I have the luxury of waking up roughly 9 hours after I went to bed. For the last week or so, there has even been sunshine streaming through my windows. Have you heard? I love sunshine! Thursday was one of those days where I woke up — and STAYED — grateful for the wonderful life I live. I knew I had a long run in front of me. I knew it would be the longest distance I had run since the Big Sur Half Marathon and the longest distance I would run before Barb’s Race.

But I couldn’t be bothered to let this run loom over me and bring me down. I drove to San Francisco, fighting traffic to get to the Marina Green, parked my car, and set out. If you’ve done anything like participate in endurance events (long distances could mean 4 miles if you’ve never run beyond a 5K before!) or suffered from an injury, you know that the battle is at least as much mental as it is physical. It’s best to start off with positive thoughts and let them snowball. The worst thing you can do — AND I SPEAK FROM EXPERIENCE — is start off in a negative frame of mind. So I was out there with the feel-good vibes going right from the get-go, and they were sincere!

What a beautiful day!

I am so fortunate to get to run in such a beautiful place!

Hell, who am I kidding? I’m so fortunate that I can walk without a limp!

I’m meeting with someone about a Big Idea after this. How exciting!

I love having a lemon tree in my backyard. Every time a recipe calls for lemon juice, this is such a blessing.

I have such good friends. I saw friends Tuesday night and I’m supposed to meet up with more friends tonight at a free concert in the park. There will be wine.

I realize my car is 15 years old, but I love it when we get 10 convertible-perfect days in a row. And it’s paid for!

I am so lucky my skin deals with sun exposure well.

I can’t believe Argus has lived almost two months longer than the doctors predicted, and he isn’t showing signs of nearing The End yet.

Ooooh, looky! The Golden Gate Bridge!

Admittedly, the mind wanders a bit during a long run, but I was really feeling good about how the run was going (despite the hills and getting lost in the Presidio construction mess) and life in general. I was excited about running across the bridge for the first time and let the good times roll all the way there… and almost all the way back.

Having another human being almost take his life right in front of you will really put a damper on things.

When the police officer told me to keep on running, I did. But I couldn’t keep my brain from going right back to the situation, wondering what I could have/should have/would have done differently. There was also the incredulous almost “giddiness” (and I feel terrible saying that) about having witnessed something so raw. A la, “My friends are never going to believe this!” And that made me feel bad. I was nothing more than a rubber-necker at that point (although I had more couth than to take pictures, like the tourists had…).

I went from being really high to being really low in a matter of about 90 seconds.

But even so, I was nowhere near as low as that man was. And I never have been. I am sure it’s a combination of a lot of things — a great support network of family and friends, an ability to put things in perspective, a love for (but not addiction to) wine as a means to take the edge off,  an optimist’s disposition. Hell, maybe it’s just a fear of missing out on something when I’m gone! Honestly, I don’t know what separates me from people who have the courage (some call it cowardice) to take their own lives.

I got home from my meeting that afternoon and canceled my plans to meet friends at the free concert in the park. Greg was mountain biking with his buddies and I was relishing the alone time in my house, thinking about the events of the day. I found myself even more grateful for all the things I had been thinking about.  And for even smaller things, like how pleased I am that I cleaned out my refrigerator last week and that the shelves are still shiny.

I rode my bike across the Golden Gate on Saturday. It was much busier with tourists, which made it more miserable (in that sense) than Thursday had been. I kept my eye out for anyone suspicious-looking, but mostly did my best to remain considerate of others taking in the majesty of the bridge and its views. I made a commitment to myself to do a better job of living among a population of people who may not have such a positive outlook on things. They are the ones that need a smile or a dose of patience the most.

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday – 1500-yard swim

Monday – 21-mile bike ride (first time with aero bars!)

Tuesday – 5 mile run

Wednesday – 90-min bike ride with 45 mins climbing

Thursday –  11.5 mile run

Friday – OFF

Saturday – 67-mile bike ride

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06 07 08

June 7, 2011 Family, Fun 2 Comments

To Greg on our third wedding anniversary. I love you!

Despite seeming a little… uh… apprehensive the night before the wedding,

you were excited (or maybe delirious?) as you took this self-portrait while waiting for me to get ready on our big day!

Only an hour later than planned, rain clouds looming in the distance, I made my grand entrance…

I loved walking down the aisle to meet you!

After a few kind words from the High Priestess,

we sealed the deal.

Happy anniversary, love! I’d do it all over again!

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Sea Otter 2011

April 24, 2011 Family, Fido, Fitness 3 Comments

Greg competed in the 2011 Sea Otter Classic road race this year. He’s done it in the past and specifically signed up this year to get his “race legs” ready for Wildflower on April 30. Argus and I went along for the ride, enjoying a sunny Friday along the coast. The race is held at Laguna Seca Recreational Area just outside of Monterey. It was a little windy at race time (Greg’s race started at 3:35 PM), but otherwise a nice day.

The expo area was set up a little differently this year than in the past. Greg said you used to be able to drive right in the main gates and do a quick packet pick-up. That’s what we had intended to do, then I was going to leave there and find a good vantage point to watch the race. The course consisted of a short prologue out of the expo area and then six laps through the hills of Monterey County before an uphill finish back at Laguna Seca. This year, they re-routed us to a back entrance where we had to park and walk to the packet pick-up area, all of which was up the hill from the expo.

Argus made himself at home on a nice sandy spot in the parking lot while Greg got ready. He usually parks himself right in the middle of the lane, so I was glad he was mostly out of the way. He was about 5 cars down from us, exercising his independence.

We said our farewells to Greg as he made his way down to the start and went in search of a good vantage point. For all the other races I have been to, this usually requires a fair amount of jockeying to park and then walking … and then requires standing in a big crowd of people trying to see your guy as they all whiz by.

I had scouted the map of the area and knew right where I wanted to be. I drove right to it, only to find one other car and a Monterey County Sherriff’s car. I figured the area must be closed to spectators since there was no one there, but I thought I’d ask the policeman if he knew of an alternate spot to spectate. He said that I could park right in front of him and watch from right here. Score!

The only down-side to this was that I had intended to enjoy a glass of wine or two while waiting ~30 minutes between each of the six laps… but that wasn’t happening with it pretty much being me and the cop hanging out there. Oh well! We had a great spot in the sun and out of the wind — and we were right between two curves so the guys had to slow down each time coming around this bend.

There were a few age groups racing at the same time, but not many guys in each group so it wasn’t that hard to pick out Greg the first time they came through. He was riding around the middle of the pack that first time and he estimated it would be about 30 minutes between laps. His peloton ended up averaging 25-26 minutes each time and I was able to get a couple of good shots with my point-and-shoot camera since I had an idea of when to be ready.

By the second lap Greg was at the front of the pack and he stayed there for the next three laps that we watched. We left after the fifth lap to get back to the finish line. I was hoping that Greg was dropping back on the other side of the loop, letting other guys do the work while he drafted. The side of the course that we were on was heading into the wind and right between two hills. He was doing a lot of the pulling!

In the end, Greg finished 9th out of 21 riders. To me, the ranking feels really disappointing, especially considering he was in front the whole way. Of note, the time difference between the #1 guy and Greg was about 30 seconds. He said it was an interesting race this year, where none of the guys stepped up to take on the job of pulling. Most waited until the end, having drafted off of him (and others) for ~45 miles, and made their push right at the uphill finish. He also said his average speed was a full mile per hour slower this year than it was last year. Just a different group of guys, I guess. The “nice” thing is that several guys did thank him for doing a lot of the work, so I guess that’s sportsman-like.

The reason that Greg isn’t disappointed with his ranking is that he wasn’t going after a win. He was going out to use his race legs. If he’d wanted to win, he would have dropped back into the peloton for several laps and let other guys do the work — regardless of what that did to overall speed. His goal was to work hard and that’s what he did. He felt good about his performance and his endurance throughout the race; his nutrition plan was appropriate. The bike race during a triathlon is not draft-legal, so he won’t have the benefit of letting someone else pull him around for 56 miles next week. He will have to do the work then, so he went out at Sea Otter knowing he would do it now.

This illustrates the importance of setting your race goals ahead of race day. These goals are the things that are entirely within your control — not things like weather or a flat tire or a crash ahead of you that slows the field down. Set your personal goals and train for them, then do your best to perform well and meet them. In Greg’s Sea Otter example, if he had wanted to win, his race strategy would have been entirely different. His time would have been slower, he would have worked less hard, and he wouldn’t be as prepared for his first Half Ironman triathlon next weekend. Mission accomplished!

After the race, Argus tested Greg’s legs and squeezed a little more work out of them just for the fun of it:

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Best Laid Plans (and WWW: 4/10)

April 18, 2011 Family, Fitness, Fun 5 Comments

I have mentioned our annual Sisters Trip in a few recent posts. It’s a trip where five of us — me, my mom, her sister, my sister, and my sister-in-law-to-be — get together to drink a bunch of booze in a rented house on a beach, telling stories and peeing our pants from too much laughter. This year’s trip was hands-down the best yet!

Except for one mishap.

We borrowed a friend’s mini van and were pulling it into the driveway in front of my house on Saturday afternoon. My sister was driving and my Cabrio was hanging just a few inches over the edge of the driveway. I jumped out of the van and said I’d move my car forward to make room.

The keys were all the way in the house and I didn’t want to get them, so I took the Greg Approach. I opened the car door, put the car in neutral, and began pushing it forward. And it worked! The car was moving forward with relative ease. I AM SO STRONG! I BET THEY ARE SO IMPRESSED! WHO NEEDS KEYS TO MOVE A CAR?

And then my flip flops lost traction on the dried leaves in the road. My feet slipped out from under me and —

I was on the ground, my knee scuffed.

I popped up, my arms in the air to let them know I was okay! They all burst out laughing, but much to my dismay, they hadn’t even seen what I was doing. They weren’t impressed at all. I bandaged my knee and they called me a fool and we laughed about it some more. No harm, no foul.

(except for the huge glass of red wine that was spilled on the rug – unrelated to the car moving incident)

The trouble came about soon after waking on Sunday morning. At this point, I wish with all my might I had a hangover. Amazingly, no. I have an injured rotator cuff or something else related to my shoulder. Motherfucker. I must have tried to catch myself in the fall and grabbed the car, tweaking something in there. I can’t lift my arm up to shoulder height without sharp pain. Motherfucker.

My first race is in two weeks and my swimming had really come along well. I really thought I could improve my swim time considerably this year (my split was 30:41 last year). Best laid plans… It, of course, hurts to swim. So, I’m icing it a couple of times a day and using the TENS machine on it. If I can limit use, perhaps I’ll be okay come race day and still perform well.

Moral of the story: Don’t be a hero. Walk 20 feet into the house to get your keys if your car needs moved.

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: OFF

Monday: 2000 yard swim — NOT SMART

Tuesday: 24 mile bike ride + 3 mile run

Wednesday: 5 mile run

Thursday: 21-mile bike ride + 3.5 mile walk with a friend

Friday: 1800 yard swim — WHO WAS I KIDDING?

Saturday: OFF

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First Open Water Swim (and WWW: 4/3)

April 11, 2011 Family, Fitness No Comments

I finally took the plunge — my first open water swim of the 2011 season. I was in Santa Cruz for the 6th Annual Sisters Trip and thought the Beach Boardwalk area would be a good place to test the waters.

It was sunny and reasonably warm on the beach (~60). I wasn’t sure if I’d have a rocky water entry, so I chose to wear my Vibrams. My intention was to swim out to the end of the wharf and back. I didn’t measure the distance, but I had my watch on so I figured I’d go for 30 minutes or so and call it good.

A wetsuit is really a great thing. The water was cold — colder than I thought it would be — but between my “shoes” and wetsuit, it didn’t feel horrible.

But I won’t lie: putting my face in the water was worse than I thought it would be. Way worse. My hands do that crazy Raynaud’s thing when they’re only slightly cold, so I knew I wouldn’t have feeling in them for the entire 30 minutes. I was right. This was great practice, though! I had to force myself to breathe deeply and make full strokes. I had to force myself to calm down and settle in. As I looked up and saw fishermen casting their lines from the wharf, I had to stop thinking about the sea life that was likely swimming right under me…

My mom and sister kind of panicked when they couldn’t see me anymore, so they walked out onto the wharf to spot me. The Harbormaster had noted on a public chalkboard the water temperature: 52* F.

I finished in 24 minutes and my body was tingling from being so cold when I got out and started to warm up. It took a good hour to get feeling back in my toes, even after a hot shower. I ran 7.5 miles on Saturday, including to the end of the wharf and back. I was really pleased that the distance from where I went in the water to the end of the wharf was a half mile. If I can swim roughly a mile in roughly 24 minutes, I will be very pleased! My time last year at Wildflower was 30 minutes!

It was a great training weekend, performance-wise and scenery-wise!

Weekly Workout Wrap-up

Sunday: 33 mile bike ride + 4.5 mile run

Monday: 2100-yard swim

Tuesday: 19-mile bike ride

Wednesday: 5 mile run

Thursday: Hill repeats – bike ride

Friday: 1-mile open water swim

Saturday: 7.5 mile run

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