scar tissue

scar tissue  

if i peel back the layers, my skin is a series of lines burnt into the living that happens but even scar tissue heals, it just does, the lines live under the skin marked in the stories that are no longer told, marked in the memories that surface less and less and a new and markedly different woman emerges, one that you don't recognize in the mirror, one that smiles differently, the bones underneath shifted and turned around, unfathomable.

if i peel back the layers, the lines of the tree trunk reveal the lives lived, the transitions, the years sloughed off and embedded deeply, printed on black and white paper reminiscent of an era that cannot be revisited because the world has changed and so have you even if you are only now catching up and re-learning who exactly you have become, unfit for public consumption.

if i peel back the layers, i see all the selves holding her close and nodding and smiling and awed at it all, awed at what they have become and who they are becoming and the validation it gives them for the choices they made.  and they rub their scars and flatten them into smoothness.

and i look in the mirror and marvel at them all even as i tentatively smile hello and begin the conversation with the woman in the mirror.

mash up - October 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. October 2014

  • the season of tights is upon us. taking advantage before it becomes the season of snow pants. hah.

tightsseason

  • she rustled her skirts and pieces of gold fell at her feet while she stretched her lonely limbs skyward bracing for the north wind's howl and the smell of burnt pumpkin lingered in the wood filled night.
  • one can do everything right and still, still get sick. walking dead over here. so obviously I am making homemade chicken soup and drinking lemon, garlic and honey tea. and rest. always rest.
  • flu bombs and spicy chicken noodle soup and vitamin c rich smoothies and the hot orange dance of sleep melded in melody with the clicking keys of work. the world spins on and i make love to the scent of being alive.
  • pumpkin patch orange dreams that had nothing to do with pie and i can't shake the sense i am sleeping and the dreams are where reality sits underneath the watchful eye of myself.
  • thinking i might dust off the paint bins over the weekend and see if i have any spare canvases to play with. it has been a long while and since this sick doesn't allow me to work out, i will have some time on my hands, they might as well be paint splattered too.
  • today. planted garlic and the sweetest cherry tree because I need another, dog walks in the park and again in the hood. and the leaves are like gold and the sun was hot against a pale blue sky. it was a good day.

gold

  • crocus bulbs planted in the lawn, charcoal stained fingers as I fill an empty sketchpad with play, pumpkin tartlets, sleeping dog, sunlight yellow glaze and the whisper of leaves. soft saturday.
  • thankful for the loves of my heart, family and friends and my fur baby, for my bright sanctuary of a home on the prettiest street enveloped by a canopy of elm trees, for the freedoms I enjoy, the food bubbling away, the laughter and the tears, the breeze blowing through windows and the billow of white, for the soft glow of candles when night falls and for the sweat and strain of my determination and this body that allows it, for the work I do both for money and spirit and for the man by my side who came to me 12 thanksgivings ago. happy thanksgiving my canadian friends.
  • today:*so proud of my boy as he flies back to work with a white hat instead of a blue hat, his first shift as a foreman. so young but such a hard worker and he will be on a learning curve but i believe in him. gosh, i am proud of him for this and for so many other reasons.*today is a bright, blue sky day, the autumn light that is short lived but so beautifully vibrant. and i fall in love with the world over and over again, how can i not?

    *the news breaks my heart but the light heals it all. and i feel re-energized after a weekend filled with laughter and love. and grateful that i am no longer sick and i am ready to hit the gym again. and hopefully the weather holds for many more runs outside on the crunch of leaves with the light casting a glow over the falling leaves.

  • she shivered in the thick mist of dark slow grey clouds and then she heard a flutter and watched as a magpie soared down low beside her, so close she could have reached out and plucked a wing and she watched as the magpie looped up to the tree in front of her. and she was suddenly warmed. she used to call them maggie pies, they were the birds of her granny.
  • I think I have finally learned how to not cut my fingers while chopping vegetables. instead I just swing my knife down in an attempt to lop off my toes. ‪#‎klutzinthekitchenwholovestocook‬ ‪#‎dangertomyself‬
  • i love this. this is my city and what i love about this video, is that every single thing captured, i have done, walked, lived. so beautiful.

  • just saw a scraggly large coyote cross the road in front of us. the commute home just got wild. did I mention I live the middle of a city. cause I do. uh huh.
  • did i mention that i was a contributor for the upcoming issue of Mabel Magazine because I am and you can pre-order this beautiful magazine that i am oh so honoured to be in, ships to your door in mid-November. http://mabelmag.com/shop/
  • a boot stomping kind of day ‪#‎inthecube‬

bootstomp

  • while I was at the gym, hubs completely rearranged his studio. I came home and all I could hear was "check check check". so of course, I had to go down and slobber and howl bad notes on every mic. hah. and now music blaring. impromptu dance party.
  • she sat outside on a bench, the hot heat of the sun warming her face and for a moment forgot about the dark shaped trees, brown with lost leaves for her face could feel the bright green of summer's release.
  • *white sheets *blood red pomegranate seeds *the night air of an open window *soft snores of a boxer dog *dreams that cross over the coyote howl of night magic. *last night. October you never disappoint.
  • i really didn't want to work out last night, a heavy weight session. today i am feeling that good sore of having worked hard and am glad i went even though i really just wanted to put on some flannel and eat something doughy. today i ate some things doughy and chocolate-based and i need to remind my future self that my tummy hurts and i am regretting the eating but i sure never regret the work outs. ‪#‎notestofutureself‬
  • a good long saltwater swim is a balm for all things and saltwater tears heal the heart and feed the soul. and the world of bubbles breath is its own kind of saving grace.
  • just over 20 years ago. i was 25 and a new mama, he was just a couple of weeks old at most and i was completely utterly smitten. my life was changed forever and i am eternally grateful to him for making me a mama, his mama.‪#‎throwbackthursday‬

new mama

  • she noted that sometimes it takes a couple of silver bullets lodged deep into your heart before you feel the sting and wake up but once you wake up, you never go back to sleep and there is beauty and grace in that kind of self preservation. love even.
  • I pushed myself so hard tonight in my weight workout that I found myself an hour later drowning on the stretching mat in a pool of my sweat wondering how I was going to get back up. it was a good night. glad I talked my tired self into it because I really really didn't want to haul myself to the gym tonight. it is always worth going. always. ‪#‎notestoself‬ now if I can just get to the car. hah.
  • it is a scruffy unedited kind of saturday, the kind that is sweatpants all day, baking and rolling around the floor and play fighting with a boxer dog, the kind of day that demands nothing and allows for breathing.

scruffy saturday

  • a golden light, a dark night, a breath that lives and dances out of you like the fog rolling out across a highway that never seems to end and she pulls the grey wool sweater closer around her and wonders at the trouble it caused her then and how the unraveling never happened at all the way she thought it would. and the pigeons peddle their wares atop a high roof, whispering dark secrets beneath steel exhaust pipes.
  • a white cloak of air settled onto her shoulders and she breathed in sharply, the taste of ice cutting her tongue, the very tongue that she used to spill her opinions and her knee jerk reactions but only in the safe coated spaces of those who hold her heart firmly in the warmth of their understanding. and the city buzzed with the birdsong hum of flapping wings beneath the soft clouded warmth of an icy tone.

whitecity

  • what happens when you get to the saltwater pool for your swim workout and realize that you have forgotten the bag that holds your swim goggles and swim cap? that's right, a whole lot of backstroke. whoa, my shoulders are sore today. note to self: incorporate more backstroke into my swim training.
  • she was a stoic branch, a mend for broken wings, a stopover from the relentless ache of howling winds cutting into the very veins of her strength but she had the watchers, the magpies' song fluttering in circles bringing stories of the world above her deeply embedded roots, stories of the world beneath her twisted brittle arms. and for a moment, that was enough.

stoicbranch

  • 1974, trick or treating at my granny and grandpa's house so of course they had to take a polaroid picture. my brother and i were happy to be witches. and more proof as to how expressive and weird my expressions are, pretty sure i was trying out my witch face. throw back thursday, the halloween edition. and awwwws, i just noticed that we are holding hands. i love my brother.

halloweenwitches

 

mash up - September 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. September 2014

  • there is tired and then there is exhaustion, the dust from the burning of the fire and the need to retreat into a clear breath sanctuary, space and freedom to swim in cool waters of the earth womb. also. it is clear to me that i need a new dentist. because i am still in pain from friday's procedure and i really need my head to stop pounding and my neck to feel like my neck again. grablegoshfuckthis.
  • it is amazing, how a little bit of misalignment can cause a whole lot of pain. and five minutes at the dentist to grind down the problem and fix my bite and i am suddenly myself again. no pain. and it feels so good. and it makes me think about how when one part of our life is a little bit out of whack, it can affect all the parts which reminds me that it is all so interconnected, all of it. everything.
  • a quiet day with my brave boy. he had major dental surgery yesterday and had 20 teeth extracted and his gums cut back. he is on medication and has a mouth full of stitches. but he is doing really well and though I had to hand feed him wet food last night, this morning he devoured his food with his normal boxer apetite. and today will be a healing day of rest. and love. always love.tydogseptember
  • um. yeah. so it is snowing. as I type this. sigh. (september 8!!)
  • septemberprofile
  • puffer coat and toque kind of day. feeling like I fast forwarded a couple of months. very disorienting.

puffercoat

  • peach cobbler, slow cooker stews, tomato soup and hot tea is my norm right now and i am not ready for winter and i shouldn't be because it is only early september. i am exhausted by all this cold, snow, wet rain and dreary sky, this late october, early november weather. i was in shorts and tanks a week ago and by the looks of things, i will be shorts and tanks in a few days. all this quick change weather. is exhausting. i feel like i have traveled miles in a plane without moving an inch. oh well whatcanyoudo? nothing that's what. so i will stop complaining and commence with the shivering. hah.
  • i neeeeeeeeeeeed a vacation. and i will have said vacation if i can just survive today's workday. and by vacation, of course i mean staycation because autumn staycations are the best.
  • makeup less, filter less, after the massage. happily on vacation staycation.

staycation

  • early morning terry fox run.

terryfoxrun

  • painting day. wheeee. it will be like having a new bedroom!!
  • it is good to have a selective memory otherwise I would never embark upon painting projects especially those involving pink walls and a large wall painted chalkboard black. but after days of spackling and washing and sanding and washing and painting coat after coat of kilz, I now have a white bedroom. soon to be robin blue. and by soon, I mean by tomorrow.
  • I love my street always but especially in autumn.

autumn

  • wispy smoke, the crunch of footsteps wading through gold and the barking howl of distant dogs as a sliver of white trembles upwards and the light begins the die back and fade dance. and I exhale.

mash up - August 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. August 2014

  • staycation weeks are the best

garden ii

  • hours upon hours of working in the garden is rewarded by a swim workout and then making basil pesto cause I have a lot of basil. good times.
  • will pose for pets and scratches behind ears,

poser

  • weight training means I am a sore sore girl. bring it on.
  • sort of ticked that I can no longer access my facebook messages without downloading the new messanger app. I am seriously considering leaving facebook.
  • yard and gardens cleaned, weeded and plants staked and tied, house clean and fridge stocked, laundry done, all but one house project completed and I am ready to return to work and schedules again. I actually enjoy my regular routines of living because it is a good life I have.
  • back at work but at least it is jeans week. easing into my routines with gratitude for all that is.
  • *hot summer sun *letting go because holding on to what once supported me or brought me pleasure for the sake of nostalgia or habit no longer works for me when i have changed so much over the past year *a wall of purple cone flowers (echinacea) along my brick patio bring me so much pleasure that i have decided to grow another wall in the front *weight training and new muscles *long runs, long bike rides, long swims of the slow and steady variety *hot tomatoes juicy and ripe off the vine *raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cherries picked and popped into my mouth every time i walk through my back yard *supporting and loving myself and it is good. this life. of mine.
  • one day, New Zealand Triathlon
  • gunmetal grey skies and the humid thick heat of wrap around porches and mint juleps, dangling long fingers and long lean cigarettes kissed with bright smeared lipstick and dreams of toes coated with soft grained sand and a breeze billowed pink scarf hanging from a shattered twig dug deep into the earth announcing that i am here
  • dark rich coffee and the scent of orange and fennel on paint chipped nails that trace back to cherry stained knuckles that fought the demons across concrete's sweat stained stench and the miles of highway go on forever and tear streaked laughter floats above the orange haze that is this morning.
  • i am just overcome by all of this.
  • tears. anger. and so many other emotions. share. pay attention. this cannot keep happening.
  • feeling shattered by the state of the world right now. shattered. on the advice of loved ones, I am doing a news and media fast until I can reground myself. it is a luxury that I can do that and I recognize that but I am coming undone. love and peace to all.

overcome

  • last night i went for a long swim and then watched so you think you can dance, this performance healed something in me and i am reminded that art and nature have the amazing ability to heal the soul and the heart,

  • yes, this.  In My Garden of Solitude.
  • a sheen of hot heat drenched across her face and she moves slowly through the soupy air longing for a cool dunk in a glacier cold breath and the fans whirr and she sits beneath a tall cool elm tree swatting mosquitoes as blood droplets form a constellation across her bare ravaged skin and she remembers and she forgets and the cool white cotton sheets beckon her as a hint of peppermint catches in her swallowed throat.
  • re-evaluating, re-adjusting, re-setting and remembering and reminding myself that it is okay to walk away from all that does not give me what i need. it is okay to look after myself even if it means letting go of what no longer works for me, what makes me feel badly about myself, what brings me pain or drives my insecurities. i can only do good in this world when i am at my strongest. i am always amazed at the perspective i gain while running.
  • boyhood. I absolutely loved it.
  • the bees mingle with the flies and the butterflies wander across zooming dragonflies as moths flutter through dark leafy kale and in the soft buzz of stillness I hear the quiet work of my soul as warm tomato juice drips down my chin.
  • it's hot. it's humid. the air is thick with mosquitos. I don't care because I am going to miss these long bike rides once the snow flies.
  • cause yogurt and freshly made boubon black plum compote
  • he is pretty darn cool. well played sir indeed.
  • Not Pocahontas, not a super-Indian, not a drunk and not a slut.
  • exactly. cannot believe how many people have said this too me. do they freaking know how hard it is??!! and hey, i want to get muscular and strong. my body, my right. An Open Letter to Everyone who has told women, Don't get Too Muscular.
  • 12 things white people can do now cause ferguson.
  • every human life is precious and of great value. I am bone tired of the disregard, the racism, the senseless killings. saddened and angry. it really has to stop. vigil for tina fontaine and faron hall.
  • anyone want to buy me this in turquoise, anyone? hahahaha.bia.
  • wishbones drying on a sunlit ledge waiting for something the heart can't release as a shooting star eclipses the moon and brown knees become a soft landing for a thoughtful chin as pine needles poke into worn toes.
  • word.

feminism

  • "Aboriginal people account for 5.6% of the total population in the City of Edmonton. As of 2012, Aboriginal people accounted for 46% of the homeless population.The following is a discourse into this extreme disparity."

Pehonan from Coty Savard on Vimeo.

  • she reached up and hooked her baby finger on the edge of the cloud, puffed up and out and was surprised to find her feet floating upwards towards a bright yellow umbrella and she laughed and enjoyed a sip of tea with clotted cream, raspberry jam and a perfect scone because she knew she would land soon with a thud.
  • in the sad, the grief, the horror. this. this is beautiful. hopeful. bravely talk about what it means to be family. yes. Have We Reached a Turning Point.
  • she tripped over the line of a song while dancing to the notes of long buried poem and dropped her book, splayed out on the concrete, a blood red spot on the hot white walk.
  • for crying out loud harper.  really!?
  • sparkling clean house, dance party in the the kitchen with my boy, his girl and ty dog while the band rehearses downstairs, doctor who, and now I am at the gym to throw some weights around. a very good sunday.
  • holy cranky, pushy, frowny elevator people. take your crank to the stairs. sheesh.
  • my word for 2014 was awake. so i find this to be absolutely true.

ironman

  • i got chills listening to this, the kind that come when you hear truth.
  • omgosh. left work and there are triathletes everywhere. world triathlon grand final. so exciting and inspirational.
  • i have been eating saskatoons since i was in diapers. juneberry what the what??!! just no.
  • 4 ways to honour native americans without appropriating our culture.
  • how is it that we feel impossibly young then. of course because it was then and we have aged unlike henry (and eliot who is not in this photo) who are forever babies. for some reason this month has me remembering then and you know that is okay and it doesn't matter why, love holds no reason or rhyme or schedule. it just is. and it has been a while since i have done a throwbackthursday.

2006

 

building a life

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The echinacea bloomed early this year and now they form a massive thick stemmed fence on one side of my patio which reminds me that I need to separate them and move at least a quarter, if not a half, of them to another area.  My garden was interesting this year, seedlings sprouting in different parts of the garden, some mint here, and dill over there and so many cranesbill geraniums popping up all over the place and the daisy's seem to have taken over even as the elephant ears attempt to become their own hedge.  It is an adventure every year and one that I love.

 

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I am amazed at how many loving habits I can add to my life over time.  It starts off as an all consuming obsession that eventually becomes a normal part of my daily routine.  The garden was like that, it was a huge undertaking as these things are, a new to us historical house and a yard that had suffered from decades of neglect and a thumb that waggled black or so I thought.  It consumed me, the digging, the placement of brick and wood and planning and planting and tasting and replanning and more planting and as the years went by, it became more about maintenance, a few days here and there taken over by planting and weeding and gathering the bounty but otherwise, a normal routine of a bit here and there and the soft quiet watering of the evening.

Then there was our rescue dog ty, a year of being consumed with healing him, learning, training, classes and oh so much love lavished on his existence.  And now, he just is, a member of our family, a set routine of feeding and snacking and walking, a habit that feels like normal, not a chore, just a regular part of our days along with evening cuddles and snuggles and goofy play.

Triathlon training and working out has become much the same.  At first it was an obsessive amount of reading and studying and trying out new pools and gyms and running paths and researching how to and what for and what not and hours spent discussing training and best ways and the exhaustion of getting back into shape.  And now, it has already become just a thing that I do, a part of my days, a routine, a habit that spreads to other things that contribute to the wall of healthy muscle that has become my way of being.

It all starts with the little tiny seedlings that are spread so thin, you wonder how they will ever become a solid thing.  That first year, the echinacea were a splattering of straggly things, rare purple cones of flowers that I didn't dare cut for fear my garden would be even more ragged and when I stopped noticing, they became something else, a wall of colour, a force to be reckoned with, a solid strong being.

And I keep adding little things and those little things grow into big beautiful forces of their own and my life becomes fuller and richer and that good kind of busy that feels like I am truly living it.

and i wonder.  what i will add next.  or what will find me.  or whether this is it, this life i have build from tiny seedlings born out of the quiet walk of listening to my inner self.

mash up - July 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. July 2014

  • yeah babies. 2014 I tri'd. and broke all my individual training records and was almost 20 minutes faster than my target time. wow. I feel pretty amazing!! it was hard. and wonderful.

i trid

  • saturday's adventure

rad

 

color

  • listening to today. as relevant now as it was, gulp, 3 decades ago. okay, now i feel old. hah.

  • 20 years ago today, i gave birth to the sweetest little boy baby. today he is 20, a man. i love him and all his wonderful ways.
  • after a week of recovery and a lot of walking, am back at it. first swim since my triathlon. wheeee. I do love the training almost as much as I loved the racing.
  • i drink a lot of water from the office water cooler. which is a problem when you are in a meeting. or trying to get work done. ‪#‎firstworldproblems‬
  • the forecast all week is hot, hotter, soooo hot. which theoretically is great except I am sweating all over my house and the fans are just blowing hot air around. dreaming of air conditioning or a lakefront breeze. summer in the city. so not equipped for these temperatures.
  • oh summer hi-jinxs. first it was the sewer back up, then the hot water tank wasn't heating up and now the fridge repair guy is coming tomorrow because the fridge is not really cold at all. hopefully this is the end of our this old house on the fritz problems.
  • grilled home made pizza. friends who cook make me happy.

pizza

  • just paid $105 to be told we need to buy a new fridge. apparently the life span of a fridge is about 8 years (which is how long we have had ours) which is mostly a sad commentary on our disposable society because i remember living in rental houses that had ancient old fridges that were still running fine. i will suck it up, take the hit and buy a new fridge but i do wonder what ever happened to making things that last and what happens to all these big fridges that end up in a landfill somewhere, all that plastic. good grief.
  • there are not a lot of films that i like anymore, it feels like they are few and far between which is why i am so excited for a couple that are coming soon. This one which opens here on July 25th which is revolutionary in its making and Linklater has been a favourite of mine for well over a decade.

  • pretty new fridge is in the kitchen. it is pretty empty as we had to throw almost everything out but I don't even care. we noticed portable air conditioners were on sale and that they would work with our old sash windows soooooo we done did it. it is heat wave weather and I will finally be able to sleep at night. for the win.
  • going into a cool house to get an ice cold glass of water after a couple of hours of sweaty hot yard and garden work. priceless. why did I resist the cold air of air conditioning for so long?
  • 2015. run a marathon. do an olympic or possibly a half ironman triathlon. setting big intentions because why not?
  • ty had a boxer dog date with lily, a pretty white boxer and he did really well. so proud of my boy. of course, I took zero photos. next time.
  • wishing I were home in my garden instead of working today. 3 days until vacation!!

garden

  • the sun is red, there is an orange cast over the city and there are tiny bits of ash floating through like snowflakes. the haze of all the forest fires burning through the province combined with bc and northwest territories fires. the smell of smoke permeates the hot air.

smoke

  • officially on vacation
  • After weeks of hot dry heat, rain and cooler temperatures should be a relief but thinking it is not the best welcome for a first time visit from a friend who is used to LA temperatures.
  • vacation = happiness
  • disheveled, raw and filterless vacation me. I really need a shower. oh well.

vaca

  • lightning. thunder. lightning. thunder. blustery storm tonight.
  • rainy and windy movie day with comfy cosy ty dog. him on the sofa and me on the chaise. blankies for all.
  • After days of cozy rain and grey gloom, the sun blazed out in dancing light and this entire vacation has relaxed my shoulders and reminded me that my life is filled with simple joys.
  • his "I don't care if it is too early for dinner, I want dinner woman!" look

dinner

  • i wonder when, as human beings, we will stop judging others based on our limited views of how one lives, the choices we make and the paths we follow. none of us has the answers for everyone and all of us have the answers for ourselves. but that is just one woman's opinion based on her limited view of the world beneath her feet.
  • i want an adventure. i want routine and comfort. i want a challenge. i want endless summer just not in this extreme heat. i want the cool brisk wind of autumn. i want that first wide awake snowflake. i want to run away. i want to be at home. i want a dream rolled down a river sitting under storm cloud bursting to explode across a parched desert mirage. actually, i think i just want a glass of cold water. in this moment.
  • holy hot. I think my bones are melting or sweating or both.
  • a hot pink post it flag stuck to my forearm and a bright orange one stuck to my forehead next to a lime green post it note with a reminder that the world is vast but the heart is even brighter and bigger than all the roads that lead from here to there and back again not to mention the ocean waves and rivers strong flow. and then i carefully whisk them off my body and press them gently into the pages of worlds that carry my smudged words.

swimming

People often ask me about the swim portion of the triathlon.  Other triathletes I meet always bring up the swim, oh the swim portion.  I have learned that for most people who do triathlons, the swim is the most dreaded, the most worrisome and for those who don't do triathlons but have a longing to do them, the swim is often what keeps them from participating. When I tell other triathletes that I used to competitive swim, that I used to be a lifeguard, that I am more at home in water than anywhere else in this world, they sigh and tell me that I am so lucky, that I have nothing to worry about with regards to triathlons.  Of course, all of these people have been running since they were wee little so they don't understand my running fears surrounding my asthma or my legs that were growing wrong when I was young and had to wear those torturous shoes.  Anyway, this post isn't about running but rather about swimming.

The thing is, I grew up next to a beautiful lake and that may have something to do with it but I have always loved swimming likely helped along by the fact that my dad is also a lover of swimming.  I was crawling to the water before I could even walk and my dad tells me that the first time I was in the lake, I paddled about gurgling with a smile on my face.

With a lake like this at my disposal, who wouldn't?

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heartbeat

Our little town had a little pool back when I was a kid, I think it was all of 15 metres long but I took and zipped through all my swimming lessons there and with my desire to swim stronger than ever, my mom enrolled me in the local swim club. At the time, the club didn't do any competitions but that summer we managed to go to a nearby (a couple of hours away) town for our first swim meet. I remember going in someone's converted old school bus and I was so excited. We had never learned the butterfly stroke so the other team's coach gave us a brief introduction to it so that we could race in every event. The first time I swam butterfly, I won a red ribbon first place. In fact, this klutzy non-athlete came home with 4 first place ribbons and 1 blue second place. I was over the moon. I loved everything about racing and over the years perfected my butterfly and along with the IM (Individual Medly - butterfly/back/breast/free), it became my race. And then, I blew my shoulder. I had to stop competitive swimming for at least a year to heal and I was devastated and I never returned to racing. The last race I did had me screaming and crying in pain down the pool to my gold medal, it was a hell of a way to finish but finish I did. Sort of.

I became a lifeguard and I taught swimming lessons and I even coached a swim team one year. I never completely let go of my love of swimming. I also participated in triathlons as part of a team. I swam, of course. The races I did were lake races which is why I don't have a single fear around doing the open water swim. I have already experienced that and I am a strong and fast swimmer who is used to swimming in lake and river conditions so my strategy was pretty much to start strong and fast and get ahead to avoid the tangle of arms and legs and thrashing of bodies through waves. Of course, I was also used to training in a pool with a slew of other swimmers and let me tell you, you get pretty used to climbing out of the pool with scratches and bruises from being kicked in the head, being scratched by people on the other side of you not to mention missing your mark on the flip turn and whacking your legs into the side of the wall. You never stop, you just keep going.

In those triathlons, I was always the first one out of the water running to pass the chip to the bicyclist on my team. Of course, I wouldn't go that fast now that I am doing the whole triathlon because that would be a waste of needed energy but I think my strategy of getting in front to avoid the swimming crowd is still a smart choice for me. I know how to sight line and my years of lifeguard training help me to know what to do in a panic situation. Also, I am used to swimming in a cold cold lake so while pretty much everyone else was swimming in a wet suit, I just wore a regular old bathing suit. I am going to have to figure out wet suit swimming before next year because sometimes there is a requirement to wear them and I will need them for lakes in the mountains especially as I am planning on doing Ironman in Whistler.

One time, to raise money for our swim club, I swam from the island in our lake to the beach. It is a good 6 km swim. It's funny actually because I wasn't intending on swimming it, my brother was but I went out with my grandpa and boyfriend in the rowboat and when we got to the island, it turned out my brother just wasn't up to it, so I stripped down to my bra and panties and swam it for him because the thing about me and water is that I am pretty fearless and it was an easy swim for me though the weeds reaching up to grab at my legs in certain parts freaked me just a little bit. My hometown holds something called Riverboat Daze every summer with a parade and a big race. My family used to do when I was a kid and usually won though sometimes the forestry folks would beat them. It was a relay race that included a swim across the river, a bike, a run, a wagon, a raft, an inner tube and other things I am likely forgetting. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to participate and when I was, I swam the river and sometimes doubled up paddling on the raft.

So yeah, triathlon swimming is not a big deal for me. Swimming is always my go to exercise for getting back into shape and this past January was no exception. By the end of January, I was swimming front crawl laps for about an hour. The Ironman swim distance of 2.4-mile (3.86 km), I can already do without any trouble at all. It is why I never talk about my swim training because there is not much to talk about. I go to the pool and sometimes, I just swim laps upon laps of front crawl for an hour or more and sometimes I go to the pool and I do drills or sprints or a combination of things to build up my speed but it is easy for me. I sometimes switch things up and do backcrawl or breaststroke and if I am feeling really happy, I will do some butterfly just for fun but not too much of it because I am leery of aggravating old injuries. Mostly, I just do front crawl, I move my arms in a slow but powerful way and I move fast through the water with not a whole lot of effort. I have strong arms and shoulders and they get stronger by the month. All those years of competitive swim training have honed my stroke so that it is efficient and doesn't waste a lot of energy which is what is needed for triathlon swimming. If I were training for short distance racing, it definitely would not feel as easy to me but at this point, I am not. Though I do toy with the idea of joining the Master's Swim and I may do that just to push myself harder. Or maybe not. Maybe it is something I will pick up once I meet my goal of completing an Ironman. Who knows. Life is a beautiful mystery and the journey is always filled with twists and unexpected turns.

When I did the swim during my first triathlon, it felt like the perfect warm up for the rest of the race and I am pretty sure that is how I will always view the swim portion, as a warm up. And that serves me well for doing triathlons especially given my challenges with the other legs of the race. Also, it is a nice way to start the race with something familiar and easy, something that helps calm my nerves, something that relaxes me. And then I wonder if runners feel like that on the run, if the run is something that brings them ease at the end while I am struggling and fearful. And I wonder if I can learn to be easy with the run in the way that I am with the swim or if it will always be a struggle because I don't have decades of it behind me, body memory and emotional ties like I do with swimming.

I read somewhere in the many articles and books that most triathletes come to the sport through their love of running or cycling. but that the lucky ones are the few, like me, that come to it through their love of swimming because with running, you can always walk and with cycling, you can always stop and rest but the swimming is the dangerous one because stopping can mean drowning. So maybe I am lucky because I don't have that particular fear and I suspect it is really more of a fear than a reality because there are always lifeguards and volunteers to help the swimmers in trouble and they tell me their are shark spotters for ocean swims. I must confess, I have never swam in the ocean so I do have a healthy dose of fear for that unknown and I would like to log some time before I attempt an Ironman that involves an ocean swim. I have a healthy respect for the every changing weather patterns that can wreak havoc in a large lake and I have a healthy respect for river currents and for all the things that can go wrong even if you are a strong swimmer so I think I will take that same philosophy into my ocean swims and that is all I can do.

When I swim, this is how I view the world of water,

Untitled

 

It is home to me.

 

washed up on the shores of my dreams from hippyurbangirl on Vimeo.

my first triathlon

It has been a week since I raced in my first triathlon and it almost feels like a dream at this point.  I have no idea how to describe it never mind how I feel about it but I am going to try. It was, in a word, amazing.

My son picked me up at 6 in the morning, the sun was shining bright as we packed up our bikes and I hefted my triathlon gear over my shoulder.  I put on my tri-suit before we left and grabbed some hard boiled eggs and chopped up fruit from the fridge along with my water bottles filled with water, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar.  We drove the 30 or so minutes to the site, arriving at 6:30.  There were already athletes racking their bikes and setting up the transition area but we were early enough to get a good spot so we were able to set up at the end of a rack beside each other.  I carefully laid out my transition area on top of my mat and towel and we wandered around, ate some fruit and eggs, talked to people until it was time to get our bodies marked.

They marked my number, 16, with a black sharpie marker on both my calves and on my left shoulder and in that moment I felt like a triathlete.  There were so many people, athletes and spectators and everyone was so friendly and smiling and it sort of felt like a big love festival.  There was a lot of nervous energy as we waited for the swim and the wonderful volunteers wrapped the timing chip attached to velcro around our ankles.  Everyone I talked to was excited for me that it was my first one and they were very encouraging and also thought it was cool that my son and I were doing it together.  It sort of reminded me of my competitive swim days only with more love.

And when it started, I just went for it and all the nervousness that had been buzzing through my body just fled.  I felt focused on the task at hand.  I swam hard and was slightly faster than my training pace but not too much so.  After the swim, I pulled off my cap and googles as I ran across the dusty concrete to the transition area and I felt slow on the transition, having to clean my feet more than I thought before getting my socks and shoes on but it only took me just over a minute so I guess I was faster than it seemed.  I was successful running my bike out of the transition area, holding onto the seat like I had practiced.  I hopped on my bike and bam, I was biking and I had a smile on my face and I didn't even think about the fact that I was wet.  I was too focused on just going hard.  And I did, I rode hard the whole way and I didn't let up like I had thought I would.  I thought that if I was tired, I would coast a bit to save my legs for the run but I didn't, I pedaled furiously and I even dropped down into my low handlebars even though I had never done that before.  It felt great, the wind in my face, people shouting out, "you're doing great".  And in a blink I was at the turnaround and the second half seemed like it was over in no time and I was back to the transition.  I hopped off my bike and ran back to the transition area.

I confess I had a little bit of trouble during this transition and I kept trying to rack my bike wrong but I finally figured it out and I totally remembered to take off my helmet and have a drink of water.  Then I got a little confused and lost and I started running the wrong way, I couldn't find the exit to the run but my family was watching and they screamed and pointed the way and then I was off for the final leg, the run.

holy fuck.  The Run.  My legs felt like lead and jelly all at the same time.  It hurt so bad and clearly I didn't do enough brick workouts because I didn't adjust to it for the entire run portion.  There were four laps that ran through the spectators and around a green space by a pond, across and by some apartment buildings and then back into the spectators.  There was one water station just after the spectators.  When I saw my family after the first lap, apparently I looked like I wanted to kill someone and my garmin watch was annoying me so I pulled it off and threw it at them.  Luckily it was fine.  It was freaky hot and sunny and I felt like dying.  I felt like I was running through wet cement and I felt like I was going so incredibly slow even though I passed a few people and I passed some walkers.  When I saw some people walking, I felt like it gave me permission to walk if I needed to but I didn't want to.  So, as I sort of gave up on my target time of 1:40:00, I made myself a new goal - just keep going, don't stop, don't walk, just keep going.  And so I did.  Runners would pass me and they would yell out, "you are doing great!!  Keep going!! and other words of encouragement which felt so helpful.  I kept running through the wet cement and someone said to me, the first two laps are the worst, it will get easier.  I held on to that as I started the third lap as i swallowed water and threw my cup to the side where all the cups were hurled.  But it didn't get easier.  Not for me.  I ran on.  After the third lap, when I took water from a volunteer at the water station, I dumped it over my head without even taking a drink because I was burning up from the heat.  I decided to just run as fast as I could to get it over with.  So I did.  I ran, sweat dripping off of me, my face burning, my breath ragged and jagged.  It hurt so bad, I cannot even describe the pain.  The last 200 or so metres, I gave it everything I had left in me.  I crossed the finish line, heard the beep from my ankle timing chip and felt someone put a medal around my neck and then I fell into my husband's arms.

My legs were wobbly and I could barely stand.  He helped me over to the food and water area and I drank some water.  I looked at the food and felt like puking so all I ate was a little piece of blueberry bagel as I held onto him until I could feel my legs again.

My time was an unbelievable for me 1:23:24 !!!!  Um.  Whoa.  Wow.  Crazy.  Apparently, I ran the fastest 5 km I have ever run.  I still can't believe it because it was so hard, all that running through cement.  My bike time was shocking to me though I was pretty true on the swim.  And not that it matters at all but I didn't come in last like I thought I would.  I was in the bottom half of things as was to be expected given I started my training not able to run at all and barely able to swim 100 metres.  I got to race with some amazing athletes, some of who finished in 40 minutes!!  It was inspiring and I was only 12 minutes slower than my very in shape son which was sort of cool and he is super proud of me and I am super proud of him because he did it with a mountain bike. and I am so proud of myself.

It was in a word, amazing and I can't wait to do it again which makes me laugh because I am pretty sure that I thought more than once while I was on the run portion that there was no way in hell I was ever doing this again. It was one of the most fun and most painful things I have ever experienced.  It was exhilarating and afterwards I felt so incredibly wide awake.

I was smart and had booked myself a massage that afternoon in order to flush out any lactic acid build up so I wasn't sore at all, other than a slight stiffness in my shoulders which was likely due to dropping down in the handlebars because I hadn't trained for that.  My muscles were like wet noodles the next day but I had taken the day off to recover, laze about with my dog and take it easy on myself.

So, six months ago, I agreed to do a sprint triathlon even though my body was pretty much used to doing nothing but walking around the neighborhood.  It was a crazy thing to do but I worked hard.  The first 3-4 months were pretty much just getting into some sort of shape which left me not quite 2 months to actually train for it and in those two months, I saw a lot of gains, I was getting faster and so I am excited to see what next year brings.  I definitely want to do this sprint triathlon again now that I have a time to beat.  In fact I want to do at least 2 sprint triathlons next year as well as doing my first Olympic distance.

I started recovery training yesterday and I felt strong and powerful, like my body has some wisdom now.   The past week, my body has felt sort of thin, stretched out like gum.  But yesterday when I swan, I feel like it snapped back and my body feels different having done a triathlon now.  It feels more knowing, my body that is. 

I don't think i have ever been this solidly happy in my life and I am so grateful I took the challenge, decided to do something I always dreamed about, something I thought was impossible for me. I feel like anything is possible again. I feel like the walls and barriers have been broken down and the world is this vast beautiful wide open space.

And I can't wait to see what I do next.  I can't wait train harder and faster.  I can't wait to run my first 10 km race this fall and I can't wait to run some 5 km races and knock that time down and down some more.  And I am already plotting bigger bike distances and perhaps a gran fondo next year.  This week has felt surreal and my friends tell me I look different, I stand taller and perhaps my smile has grown just a little bit bigger.

triathlete

 

(selfie once i could stand on my own again, after the race)

 

mash up - June 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. June 2014

  • one month until my first triathlon. i am scared. wondering why on earth am i putting myself through this while at the same time am determined to finish even if i have to go slow to do it. i can do this. right? blerg.
  • "I'd Rather Finish Last than Never Start".  exactly this. this is my mantra as i train over the next three weeks and calm my nerves by reminding myself where i was when i started training for this triathlon (unable to swim more than 10 laps, unable to run more than 100 metres and i might have been able to bike a km on a good day)
  • 65 minutes on my roadbike immediately followed by a 10 minute run and yeah I feel like puking but I'm not but I am sweating at least half my body weight. no joke. holy.
  • i have been reading her words in some form or another for a couple years shy of a decade and i have to say, her words, always leave me a little bit awed in that good way, in the way that makes the world still for just a moment. Story.
  • "If you want to see something different, you have to do something different" (found written on the window in my boss' office. i sort of love her.)
  • A still, warm night and a kick ass swim where I realized fully how strong I have become and the trees are plump with life and the air feels like like summer is coming and the dusky light and the trilling birds and everything feels absolutely just right.
  • a beautiful sunny morning. its a good morning for a long road ride so am popping the bike in my son's truck and we are heading out to a good out of city road. good times. sunny morning long ride with my son. it doesn't get better than this.
  • a quick shower and off to pick up nat and aiden and watch duke play his drums and sing in the park at porkapooloza. wheeee. is a good good day.
  • tackled the crazy weeds in my yard and garden this evening and finished the last bit of reseeding on the back lawn patch and pruned up all the rose bushes. five garden bags later and scratches up my arms but I am so happy and my yard looks so amazing that I happy dance when I look at it.
  • one more week of hard (for me) training and then an easy (for me) taper week and then it is on. my first triathlon. my brother reminded me last night that there is nothing i can really do at this point, either i am physically ready or i am not, we think i am. so am really concentrating on the technical things, practicing my transitions, practicing grabbing my water bottle and drinking while biking (why is this so hard for me??!!), practicing my gears on hills (the course is hilly, glad i went and biked it so i am mentally prepared for that), practicing my bike to run brick (my legs feel like jelly and oh man it is so much harder than i anticipated) and just breathing through my fear of the unknown knowing that this first one will teach me so much as i continue onwards.
  • after running for 60 minutes, I stretched it out with this guy,

swimming

  • there are days when all i want to do is rock in my hammock and let the sun warm my bare legs while the breeze tickles my face. today is one of those days. unfortunately, it is not to be. and that is life right? we don't always get to do what we want, life isn't always fair or just or even forgiving and there are so many shades of grey and perspectives and ways of twisting the glass globe of our thoughts. and so i will be grateful that i am breathing, that the sun is shining and that in a few hours, i will set off on my bike and enjoy the breeze on my sun-kissed face.
  • *salted caramel chocolate covered hagan daz bar *sunshine melted away the layers of my skin *sweat rolling down tanned skin long after the ride is over *10 days until my first triathlon and the nerves sit just under a layer of determination *amazed at what one can accomplish in 6 short months and how that knowing changes everything *working hard at something is the shizzle *i used to be lazy and filled with deep longings and want. *i am strong and powerful and content in a different kind of way *i am happy in a different kind of way *life is good. so good.
  • happy solstice

solstice

  • today,

me today

  • you would think that the fact that the parked vehicles on both side of the street facing you would clue you in that you are going the wrong way down a one way street. or, you know, the one way sign.‪#‎idiotswhodrivedownmystreet‬ ‪#‎epicfail‬
  • one week from today. I tri.
  • crying like a baby watching this. this. this is why completing an ironman is my long term triathlon goal and has been a dream of mine since i was a young girl.

  • when the guys come over to rehearse or like tonight, record, ty turns into a teenage girl filled with excitement and adoration. it is pretty adorable how much my dog loves those guys and the music they play.
  • hot sweaty redfaced and filterless but fastest 5 km training run to date. with hills. feels like I had a good confidence run before the triathlon on tuesday. for the win.

sweaty

  • a calm sort of nervous,

a calm sort of nervous

  • did a mini tri this morning to practice my transitions. first time wearing my tri kit and was super pleased with comfy it was swimming, biking and running and it dried really fast. duke took this afterwards while I was debriefing my transitions with my brother so I am pretty sweaty and disheveled but happy,

practice

by this time tomorrow ...

I will be a triathlete.  Even though I have been training for the past 6 months though the first month I wasn't really training, I was just trying to coax this body into some gentle activity after the years of dormancy.  I sort of chuckle now when I think of my leisurely walks around the neighbourhood as exercise, though it was and it was a needed and necessary part of this evolution I now think. I have a good life and I sit here at my window watching the roses sway in the breeze, the bees and dragonflies work wild pops of colour in my gardens and listen to the birds serenade me and the chimes accompany their song.  The big old elms are heavy with leaves and whisper their secrets, a rustling meander on a morning attempting to shine.  I have good friends and good family and a good job that I actually like getting up for every morning.  I have a good life and yet there has been something missing, the ache settled deep in my bones, an old friend.  I thought it was the leftover ache of grief until I realized it wasn't.  So I tried to fill it and it seems looking back, I methodically tried all the things I love, all the leftover dreams.  I wrote a book but the ache was still there, I painted canvases and I dived into photography and started a business on the side, had some gallery shows but the ache was still there and even seeing my words and photographs in print didn't subside the ache.  I wondered if I was destined to be a malcontent.

I watched my son graduate, helped him move into his first apartment, watched him sprout his own wings as lives his life so very well and I settled into the silence filling it will quiet walks, sitting in my garden pulling leaves, training and loving on a rescue boxer who has become a light in my life, moving furniture from here to there and back again.  A good life filled with music and laughter and long stretches of solitude and quiet, watching the snow fall and feeling grateful to live here in this neighbourhood so close to my work.

but the ache, oh the ache.

To pick up an old dream and to not spend much time thinking about the how's, the why's, to just say yes and to start working towards it, this gift from my son and a late night text and a yes.

And I sit here less than 24 hours from actually doing it, actually swimming, biking and running my first triathlon and I feel the nerves sitting just under my skin, thumping on my heart and it feels almost like the ache that has been missing for the past 5 months.  The ache that was filled with a hundred little truimphs, the day that I ran 20 minutes without stopping, the day that I let myself fly down that hill on my bike without feathering the breaks, the days that I ran even though my legs ached and my lungs felt like exploding out of my chest, the long boring tedious hours spent swimming up and down lanes in a pool staring at that black line until I thought that I would see black lines in my sleep, those early days running around the indoor track feeling like a fool, red-faced with my rolls bouncing around me as walkers passed me on the outside lane, all those times I didn't want to go but I went anyway, that time I drove through a blizzard to run around the track only to realize that I had left my running shoes at home and so I drove back through the blizzard to pick up my shoes and headed back to the gym when it would have been so easy to just stay home and curl on the couch with my husband and dog.  All those days add up to something even the ones that didn't feel like much of anything.  They add up to today, to right now, to where I sit.

and I practiced a mini triathlon on the weekend with my brother and my husband sitting with my bike and my transition area.  It was only 8 minutes swimming at the outdoor pool, 20 minutes cycling and 10 minutes running but it was to try out the transitions, to make sure I knew what I was doing and to learn from my mistakes.  And it went well though I did, of course, forget to take off my bike helmet as I started to head off on the run and I joked beforehand that would be something I would do in the race.  I am glad I did it because now I will remember to pull it off tomorrow.  And I was pleased with the tri suit that I bought because I had stressed about what to wear for a good month, trying this and that and not liking the feeling of wet clothes on my body but the suit I bought dried in about 5 minutes which makes me happy and it is designed like a swim suit so it felt good in the water which also makes me happy.

tripractice

And I sometimes wonder why I am doing this?  And I think because I can and I like the words that a friend said to me, "why not?" which she says is the kind of the answer to every self-doubt in advance of every extraordinary scary thing.  and really, these past 5 months of training, of going from doing not much of anything to being a person who runs and bikes and swims and lifts weights and trains 6 days of week and realizing that I am still capable of so much more than I realized and having all that time to really push through heavy dark walls and to discover the me that I had thought was long gone, to peel away those layers and realize she is more than I even thought and I continue to change and to wonder who I am but even if I don't always know, I know that I like her a whole lot and I know that she is on the right path.

Sometimes when I am training and it hurts and it feels uncomfortable and I want to stop, I remember the pain I went through giving birth to my twin boys, henry and eliot and I remember how I was a warrior for those hours and hours coping with the emotional fall out of the not knowing whether they would live or die, coping with the pain of their deaths almost a month apart.  All that warrior pain only to have my heart ripped out of its soft home and the years that followed, the continual walk through the fire that burned my skin in blackened chars on the roadways.  I think about them and they are with me in my gasping breaths and I think about my sister and her lit up face that even death cannot extinguish and I think about me and my strength and I know that the pain of this is temporary and at the end of it all, I will feel amazing, it will be a celebration of laughter and love and fireworks (so glad I chose to race my first triathlon on Canada Day).

So often in my life, I have had to endure physical pain thrust upon me only to be followed by days, months, years of emotional pain.  This is different.  I choose this.  I have endured painful training days and afterwards I felt amazing, joyous, connected to the life force and to the beauty of that.  I choose this.  The race will have moments of pain, there will be moments when my body wants to quit, I know this because I have experienced this but I always choose to go on.  I am good at that, good at moving through the pain.  But how often in life do we get to celebrate and to feel joy and spirit and light after we put ourselves through great challenges, great pain?   We have to choose the "why not?" and tackle those scary fearful things, those hard things that we don't know we are capable of and they are different for all of us but they live in our dreams, in the secret recesses of our desires.  They are worth the struggle, the hard work and the nervous energy that sits under our skin less than 24 hours beforehand.

grounded

And I remember that I only get one, I only get one first.  I will do more and will go on to do longer distances and they will each have their challenges and their celebrations but this one will always be special because you only get one first time.  And so I want to remember that tomorrow while I am in the midst of it, while I am swimming, while I am cycling, while I am running, I want to remember that this is my first and I am doing what I always felt was impossible and I want to smile and laugh in the midst of the sweat and uncomfortableness, the sore muscles, the legs like lead and I want to celebrate all those days that came before and the fact that I am doing it because damn there is such a joy in that and I want to enjoy it, to celebrate this life, this good, good life.

I always did think that 45 was the ultimate age and it sure does feel like it is a beautiful beginning.

re-learning the cycling

I spent the bulk of my bike training at the gym due to the cold and snowy months pushing well into the spring cycle.  This included stationary biking and spin classes and I actually started this sort of biking much earlier than I did my learning to run sessions so I sort of deluded myself into thinking that I had the bike down.  No problem I told myself.  I grew up cycling all over the place and I have the scars on my body to prove it, childhood road rash was a common klutzoid theme for me.  I have a lovely scar from a large gash on my jawline from that time when I was 5 and was trying to keep up with my dad and hit a rock or a pothole and flew off my bike, blood dripping down my body.  Or that time I was bicycling back from the playground with friends and somehow managed to run into a parked truck likely because I was blathering on or was distracted by pretty shiny and um yeah pretty sure I was biking with no hands because that was my thing for a while there after I got my 10 speed road bike, "look ma no hands mcgee.  yeah, that's mee".   I mean I rode a lot and was excited the first time my dad and uncles let me ride from town out to my grandfather's farm for the first time, on my 10 speed, on a gravel road.  huh?!  no problem.  I would bike out in the morning to the beach, bears be damned because I was safe on my bicycle, go for a swim, lie in the sand and then bike home.  I biked to school and all over town until I got my first car.  I so knew how to bike. And then when I was 25, I got my first mountain bike.  They were all the rage and so I abandoned my lame-o road bike, road bikes were for dorks, no-one rode a road bike.  I biked around the city and there were even a couple of winters that found me biking through the snow to university.  I was badass.  Not really but we were having car issues so you know poverty makes you badass.  Hah.  And I bike to work, you know in the summer months, here and there, sometimes more than other times over the past 6 years.  It is such a long way, a whole 5 km.  errrrr.  hmmmm.  an easy ride really but in my mind it was much further.  because I like to delude myself.  Apparently.

So bike training started outside when the snow finally fled and the north wind finally released the icy grip of frozen shakes.  I took out my 2 year old new mountain bike, proudly rode 3 times.  because um hello, I have been a couch potato for years.  And it was hard.  I chugged up little hills, sweat pouring off of me, my legs shaking and was I ever slow.  So all that bike riding on the stationary and spin bikes seemed to have fled my consciousness as I swatted at mosquitoes determined to make a home in my eyeballs.  Glasses.  I needed to wear glasses.  Okay, I sort of started to get the hang of it.

Enter an unexpected windfall of money.  I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed a road bike because road bikes are lighter and faster and I needed all the help I could get.  So I went out and found myself a nice little entry level road bike, the specialized dolce compact woman's road bike.  Now I likely wouldn't have went out and purchased a road bike if I were only going to be doing this one triathlon but I know that I am committed to fulfilling my childhood dream of completing an Ironman so I figured it was worth it to me.  I chose to pay less and get an entry level bike because the less money you pay for a bike, the less it will actually depreciate if I chose to sell it in a couple of years to upgrade to a better machine.

I opted not to get the add on aerobars this year and I opted to just get toe cages on the pedals instead of figuring out clipless pedals and all that entails and how to even choose which ones boggles my mind at the moment.  I figured just adjusting to the positioning of a road bike after 20 years on a mountain bike would be a big enough learning curve without having to deal with falling over on my bike while learning how to unclip my bike shoes.   "Clipless Pedals" is a misnomer because you actually click into them with your shoes and twist out of them, apparently.  I haven't done it so I don't really know how it all works yet.  Also, it is a big added expense because you have to buy the pedals and also the accompanying shoes.

As it turned out, I was right about re-learning how to ride a road bike being enough to deal with.  My first ride had to have been hilarious to anyone who actually saw me out there on the road.  I was wobbly, my helmet had a visor on it and so I had a hard time actually seeing the road because one is much more bent over on a road bike than on a mountain bike where you are more upright.  So yeah, I also ended up going out and buying a new helmet because though my helmet visor clips off, I realized that my helmet was old and sweaty and I definitely wanted something lighter and more cooling.  Anyway, back to my first ride, not only was I wobbly but I was also scared because whoa the road bike just automatically goes so much faster and whoa those tires are really skinny and whoa bumps on the road.  So I spent most of my ride feathering the breaks, feathering (ohhhh roadie term) as opposed to pressing hard on them because I was seriously scared of flying over the handlebars which apparently can actually happen.

Other things I really noticed in subsequent rides on the new road bike, you feel the bumps much more than on a good mountain bike with a kickass suspension system, you have to turn with your body not just by turning the handlebars.  Become one with the machine little grasshopper ran through my mind on a loop.  And it did sort of start coming back to me instinctively and I am so thankful that I had all those years on my trusty 10 speed all those years ago because the body remembers and that is a beautiful thing.

But, I am old.  And I was super out of shape when I started this endeavor back in January soooooo ... my upper back muscles really take a beating, not helped by the fact that I still grip the hoods (grip the hoods look at me and the lingo). Here is an example of how you hold the hoods if you care.  Also, the brakes and the gear shifting are all accessible in one place and yeah, I had to draw myself a diagram outlining which side braked what and which side changed which gears, press for breaks and oh you shift gears by pushing the levers under the brake levers but there are 2 shift levers on each side and which does what and what is best for hills and I watched a lot of youtube videos and read a lot of gear shifting explained and oh my gosh, don't cross your chain and there are certain gears that you should never use because it can stretch out and damage your chain and watch my head explode.

I am a visual person so I sketched it all out and then next time I got on my bike, I visualized and tried it out and I am definitely getting there and going up hills is marginally easier so long as I anticipate right and shift the gears at the right time.  The idea is to keep your cadence (revolutions per minute) the same regardless of the terrain and so the anticipating is important.  Driving stick on a car is much easier hah.

Oh and did I mention the numb hands?  Numb hands.  My hands get really numb and I have to shake them out while riding.  Apparently getting numb hands is a thing especially if you are gripping the hoods to tightly and you know, the lack of good mountain bike suspension.  I am trying to stay loose, elbows bend and all that but the hands, they still get numb.  So I went out and bought some road bike gloves and they have lovely gel in them which helps.  Actually it helps a lot!!  My last couple of rides didn't find me wanting to cry because of numb painful hands.  For the win.

So last weekend, my son and I took our bikes out to give the triathlon course a test drive because we thought it might be smart to gauge what we were in for.  Me on my road bike and him on his clunky mountain bike and you know that of course he is much faster than me on his mountain bike because at the end of the day, it comes down to the human power and human power wins over fancy schmancy bike power any day.  That said, I would have been even slower on my mountain bike so I am okay with that.  So, the course is beautiful, wavy country grass and beautiful old barns and birds singing and the road is lovely, a lovely roll over hills in the country.  SCREECH.  hills.  The course is really quite hilly starting off with a big hill right out of the gate.  I haven't trained for hills, not really.  I suck at hills.  In fact, my son told me after that I was actually pretty fast until I hit a hill and then I slowed right down the higher up the hill I got.  Good grief.  I was in the wrong gears the entire time and was so flustered because I was not really prepared for all those hills.  Okay, it is not like we were in the mountains and an experienced biker might scoff at what I call a hill but it was definitely not as flat as what I had been riding.  On the upside, I managed to do the hills without having to get off my bike so that is pretty awesome.  There is zero time between now and the race to train for hills so I am going to have to do the best I can and that means practicing my gearing which means doing hills on the rest of my training rides but as far as conditioning goes, it is really too late for this race.  It is what it is.  It is going to make for a very painful run I suspect.

I will keep training on my bike over the summer and fall and I will continue to master the finer points and build up my conditioning and this winter I will buy a bike trainer so I can set up my bike in the basement in front of the big plasma television and I will continue riding that bike while watching girl movies or old favourite television seasons.  I will likely continue with spin classes because it is fun to mix it up but no more stationary bikes for this girl.

More overwhelming things I am learning

  • Bicycle cleaning and maintenance.  So you own a road bike and you ride it a lot which I do because hello triathlon training .. well you have to keep it cleaned and maintained and running smoothly.  In the past, with my mountain bike, I would just take it in seasonally to have a tune up.  But I wasn't riding like I do now and you know, bike maintenance is expensive.  And the thing is you don't want shizzle going wrong while you are in the middle of the race.  So, I had to buy cleaning solutions and lubes and brushes and a fancy chain cleaner.  This guy totally helped me out on how to use it and I also like this video on how to lube your bicycle chain and trinewbies bicycle cleaning 101.
  • Changing a tire tube.  So, you are out on the road and you get a flat.  No biggie, you pull out your cell phone and call your husband to come pick you up right?   I mean sure your ride is interrupted but its not the end of the world.  But what happens if you get a flat in the middle of the race?  It happens, exhibit one:

  • As per Triathlon Rules ... you cannot get outside help or you are disqualified. Now I am no Chrissie Wellington that is for sure and I am not going to be winning any races anytime soon, never mind Kona, but you so have to both know how to change a tire and have that equipment with you if you don't want to risk disqualification and who wants to do all this training for a DNF (did not finish), not me.  So, I had to buy some tools, a little pump, some CO2 cartridges, some tire tubes and a little saddlebag that fits just under behind the saddle (bicycle seat).  As of last weekend, I have all the equipment I need to successfully change a tire and this weekend, I am going to practice practice practice until it is second nature.  It is unlikely I will get a flat on this race but I want to feel prepared and I will need to know how to do this for next year when I am doing longer races.

The most important thing in this bicycle adventure is that it is actually really fun!!  Like I feel free now that I am mostly over my fear ... I travel well over 20 km fairly easily and the wind in my face and the road rushing past me and the sites and views.  It is pretty awesome just being out there.  I feel like a kid again and that is a really amazing feeling and I am amazed at how far I can go in a short time and the routes I travel are much nicer than being in a car for sure.

adventures in bicycling

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mash up - May 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. May 2014

  • 1983. grade 10 so I was 13 almost 14. my flirtation with short hair. and yes this would be the ubiquitous school photo. wheeee. (throwbackthursday)

me

  • nothing like filing your taxes at the last possible moment. yup. two years in a row. down to the wire. happily done.
  • the real question is not whether I am physically able to do a triathlon but whether I should be allowed to. thoughts I had while attempting somewhat unsuccessfully to stop from face planting on the sidewalk. while walking. tripping over um nothing but my own feet. epic fail. I am such a klutz.
  • so proud of Kristen Perman who is a featured artist in the second issue of seeMag and there is a polaroid girls photo set included so wheeee i also have a photo published thanks to her talent of awesomeness .
  • a beautiful walk with my dog, sun shining and birds singing and white puffs of seed floating down on my face. screeeeeech. no. not seed. snow. good grief. c'mon already.
  • 32, newly seperated, co-parenting, dating, making my own money and finding my groove and learning myself all over again. 13 years later and I am learning myself all over again. its an endless cycle of growth. I love her. (throwbackthursday)

me2

  • biking over hills, the sun on my face, the breeze kissing my lips, the smell of spring's growth teasing me with her fragrance. a good ride and I actually believe spring has arrived. finally.
  • I haven't ridden a road bike since I was 23. today I bought a pretty new road bike and I love her and whoa she goes so much faster than my mountain bike and holy soooo light. instant love.
  • I SO do not feel like running tonight but ima doing it. blerg. even writing this is a procrastination. I recognize that. okay. doin' it.
  • lunch time yoga relax and stretch followed by a massage tonight after work, i love you tuesday.
  • dirt under my fingernails, the smell of mint and tomato leaves on my fingers, freshly growing plants unearthed from the dead bracken of winter, the sweat of sunshine and I am home in my heart.
  • everyone heads out for a run after spending the day lugging heavy things and digging and turning dirt right? good grief.

may long weekend

  • a space has opened up inside of me, a wide open space that is like peace and it comes from doing the uplifting kind of work, the work that reconnects me to what is important, to myself. working the earth, the soil, hands deep into the heartbeat of life, planting seeds and uncovering life. gardening is truly good for the soul.
  • a long sweat filled ride on my road bike which is still a bit of a learning curve because the feel and positioning is so different than a mountain bike but it's coming back to me followed by a late mother's day dinner out with my boy. sushi of course because that is our favourite along with such a good conversation. and he and nat made me cookies. too full to eat them but they will keep. life is good. really good.
  • running is hard in heat and humidity so I have decided to fall in love with slick sweat soaked skin and imagine I am swimming through the heat of the sexy seductress wooing me with every step as rivers flow and pool across my curves.
  • see you on the flip side, today is not a good day for me to be online, listening to myself on this one. have a beautiful friday everyone.
  • was a beautiful morning for a run .. cool breezes off the river is a nice way to finish up. found myself at the park at the same time a 5k race was starting so found myself starting in the fray and veered off as soon as could after crossing the bridge. ran 5 k and headed back only to find myself in the fray again as the racers were finishing up. I should have just signed up for the race. hah.

river

  •  I sort of love my city!
  • this weekend was sort of perfect. no, not sort of. it was the perfect weekend. and for no particular moment or reason and for each and every one of all the moments and reasons.
  • listening to. all things Little Miss Higgins
  • today is a yoga and massage day. i like today.
  • currently listening to close talker, "by the lake"
  • in the first 3 and a half months, I was exhausted. all the time. and sore. all the time. and then. something changed, a flip was switched seemingly over night. and now I am running/swimming/biking harder and faster and longer and lifting heavier and planking longer and I have more energy than I have had in well over a decade. and I am changing and morphing into someone I don't know yet but I sure do like her. she is who I used to dream about. so glad that I finally got to meet her and I cannot wait to learn more about her. in fact, I am pretty much falling in love with her.
  • the dark grey clouds lumber across a wet plump sky and the fountains at city hall rise up to embrace the rain and a tear floats across a stormy thought. and the work day comes to thundering end.
  • I didn't feel like running. got to the park and it poured. it seemed to be a sign. but I waited. and the rain stopped and the sun blazed out behind the clouds low and bright in the sky and I ran and I ran through the magic hour glow and 4 km later, the sky is clear and pale blue and I am so glad I ran. the world always feels so much more beautiful after I run.

sky

4 months into my running journey

why yes i have taken to matching my toes to my workout gear. girl athlete antics.  

I have never been a runner.  In 2009, I took a learn to run clinic and it was hard.  Really hard.  I wheezed a lot, red faced and gasping for breath.  My shins constantly hurt and I dreaded each and every run and only did the requisite 3 times a week.  I did do a 5k after the clinic where I ran/limped/gasped my way through 10 minutes of shuffling and 1 minute of walking and I will admit that I was pretty darn proud of myself for finishing even though there were walkers that finished faster than I did.  And then I promptly never ran again.  Until January 1, 2014 where for 20 minutes I jogged along the snowy paths for 1 minute and walked for 2 minutes figuring I would follow a similar learn to run plan I had done in 2009.

This plan has you running 3 days a week for 20 minutes:

week 1 - run 1 minute/walk 2 minutes week 2 - run 1 minute/walk 1 minute week 3 - run 2 minutes/walk 1 minute week 4 - run 3 minutes/walk 1 minute week 5 - run 4 minutes/walk 1 minute week 6 - run 5 minutes/walk 1 minute week 7 - run 6 minutes/walk 1 minute week 8 - run 7 minutes / walk 1 minute week 9 - run 8 minutes/walk 1 minute week 10 - run 10 minutes/walk 1 minute

So I ran on January 1st and then I concentrated on swimming and biking the stationary bike at the gym. I kept putting off my runs because they scared me and I had no real good excuse because the gym I go to has an indoor track so the weather wasn't a deterrent. In my defense, I hadn't done any physical activity other than walking and spinning my hoop, well since 2009. So I figured I needed to build up a base of cardio endurance and it was just easier to do the things that I already knew how to do. As January neared to an end, I started freaking out. I had to start running. So I went to the track with my loosely fitting stretched out sports bra and thought I would just run and see how far I could go. First of all, that stretched out old sports bra wasn't doing me any favors if you know what I mean. OUCH. Second of all, the swimming and biking hadn't seemed to develop any sort of good lung capacity because I ran about 100 metres and died, sweat pouring off my red faced gasping breath and my legs not only felt like lead but man they hurt.

This was not going to be easy. Not at all. So I did what I always do, I went searching for inspiration and help.  I searched the internet for breathing techniques and I picked up some books and they sort of changed everything for me. First I read Born To Run and it was such a fun read but more than that, it really made me aware of the mechanics of running.  I was a heel striker and I knew it wasn't doing me any favors because my shins always hurt when I ran and then I remembered when I was learning to run in 2009 and how everyone seemed to be able to run so much more fluid than I did except, this one day, when we were running up this really big hill and I found it so easy and I remembered remarking that if I could just run up hills, I could be a runner because running up hills was so much easier than running on flat ground.  Of course everyone laughed at me because honestly what a ridiculous statement but it was true, I found running up hills easier because when you are running up a hill, you use a forefront strike, which is more towards your toes.  Reading this book made me realize that I needed to re-learn how to run.  I also remember my brother giving me some running lessons some 20 years ago and that is how he taught me to run but I had forgotten because I never followed through with running even back then.  I also learned about cadence which is how often your feet touch the ground.  I had always run slow with a slow cadence but optimally, one should aim for about 180 strikes per minute whether you are going slow or fast.  In fact speed is more closely related to your stride length.  So as a beginner, a short stride length with a high cadence is your best chance of reducing injury and running efficiently.  I only manage to reach 180 spm's occasionally still and hover around 160 on average but I have increased my cadence a lot since January.  Another book that I found both inspirational and helpful on my quest was Finding Ultra.  This book reinforced my running goals and gave me hope that at 45, I could actually become a runner, a triathlete.

I would like to tell you that with new information running through my head on breathing, body alignment, soft gaze, short stride, higher cadence and forefront striking instead of  heel striking that I was able to hit the track and run like the wind.  Ahahahaha.  No.  It was still hard and I started all over again, running 3 times a week following the above plan but at least I had something to focus on while I ran.  I dreaded my runs for those first few weeks, dreaded them.  I felt ridiculous run/walking around the track, my loose thighs and loose belly and loose ass flapping away around me while my face was beet red and I would sweat and constantly look at my watch waiting for the seconds to tick down so I could walk.  I kept at it only out of fear, fear that I wouldn't be able to do a triathlon, that I would have to walk the entire 5 km after swimming and biking.  I was scared.  And determined.

Because Triathlon rules are that you cannot listen to music while participating, I choose not to tune out or into music while I ran instead I was fully aware of my ragged breathing, my clumsy sounding foot strike and the way my body felt and that was a really good thing because the entire time I was running, I would focus on my form:  was I leaning slightly forward from my ankles?  was my body relaxed and straight?  were my shoulders down? were my arms relaxed?  were my hands relaxed and loose?  was I breathing in and out in equal measures, slowly and surely?  Was my gaze soft and in front of me?  Was I light on my feet or as light as I could be?   Were my legs under my hips? Was I going to die?  I am happy to report that I had no shin pain whatsoever and while my muscles got sore (of course), it was a good sore and not a scary injury pain and my ankles got stronger and stronger as did the muscles in my legs.  I warmed out with a brisk walk prior to running but I didn't stretch until after my run and I stretched for almost as long as I ran because I am old and stretching is important.

About 4 weeks into my running, I got a trainer (aka my wonderful brother) who set me up with a program and introduced me to periodization and so I was armed with 4 weeks at a time which were progressively harder with week 4 being nice and easy.  He kept me on the running program because it was working for me though he increased my times and by that point I was ready for that.  There were runs that amazed me because even though I was still run/walking as per the progressively increasing schedule, I was doing it for longer and longer and found that I was actually no longer focusing on my breathing.  I was just breathing fairly easily and not wheezing and coughing like an old woman and my legs were getting stronger and stronger.  I felt like I was running like the wind and I was even smiling a lot of time.  Note, I was not and am still not running like the wind but I was running at a higher cadence and I was going longer at a slow but faster than before pace.  He also introduced weight training into my running/swimming and biking training and so there were runs that were so freaking hard because I was already sore and I remember one in particular where I just wanted to quit so badly because my leg muscles hurt and that is when I discovered my mental strength.  I had to run/walk for 40 minutes and I was at 7 minutes running/1 minute walking and it seemed impossible to me but I refused to stop.  I screamed at myself internally, I screamed at my muscles internally and I carried on, one foot after another and when my timer on my watch went off, I felt like a million dollars.  I felt like I could do anything.  I discovered the power of my mind when it came to running.  I learned that my body could be pushed and it would keep going so long as I kept going.  It was a good lesson.

And then I got injured.  No, not a running injury which would have made sense given that running is my weakest link in the tri sport arena.  I injured a little muscle that connects my shoulder to my ribcage.  I injured it while swimming and it was painful, it hurt to breathe and I was off training for a good two weeks while I healed.  I also managed to get a flu during that two weeks which might have been a blessing as I spent a good 3 days in bed sleeping and feverish.  I was scared that I had lost momentum just as I had reached my 10 minute run/1 minute walks and I was devastated that I would have to start all over again.  But my base training had paid off and while I started my first run back at a 6 and 1, I was back up to 10 and 1's within 2 weeks.  I had also started interval training (at the time 100m fast/100 m shuffle run) and some walking drills (buttkickers and highknees).  I mention interval training because I was blocked at the run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute and intervals saved me.  I needed that 1 minute walk, NEEDED it, depended on it, it was my crutch.  I could run/walk for a good hour, no problem.  And then.  I did a set of 12 intervals and uploaded my garmin watch information into my computer and the truth stared me in the face.  I had ran for 20 some minutes without stopping.  head smack moment.  and that was a game changer for me, I didn't need the walk crutch and so I abandoned it.

So now I am running anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on the week and whether it is a slow run (over distance with a specific heart rate range) or a faster run (endurance with a higher specific heart rate range) or intervals (fast (with an even higher specific heart rate) and slow shuffle jog) without stopping people!!!  And I know that I am still slow compared to most runners because I am and I know I have a long way to go before I can run a marathon (which I need to be able to do eventually to meet my ironman goal) but damn I am so proud of me and how far I have come since January when I couldn't run 100 metres without dying a fast and furious death.  Is running still hard?  um yes because I am continuing to make it hard in order to get faster, in order to go longer and further.  But, I can run 100 metres without breaking a sweat, heck I can run 3 km without breaking a sweat at an over distance pace and I can run for an hour without needing to stop.  And once I get past the first 10 minutes or so, I even enjoy it especially now that I am running outside, the birds singing around me, the trees in bloom, the breeze across my face, the sun shining down.  I tend to run in the evenings when it is cooler but I want to transition to mornings now that the sun rises around 5 am.  Do I still dread going for a run?  Sure, of course I do but the past few months have taught me a lot, if I just change into my training gear and lace up my running shoes and just go and do it, I will always feel amazing afterwards whether it is a hard day or an easy day.  Always.  In fact the harder the work out is, the better I feel when I am stretching out my muscles and that good feeling lasts for hours and hours and hours, way longer than the actual work out.

I now consider myself a runner.  A beginner runner.  It takes a good 3 years of continual training to get to any sort of optimal running (or so they say and I believe them) and that is if you have a base from high school or whatever.  I am starting with no base so it could take me longer.  Also, at 45, I have already long passed my running speed potential peak but I sort of see that as a good thing.  Any races I do over the next 5 years should show an increase in my personal best because I am still working towards my optimal and if I had done so in my 20s or even early 30s, I would be declining in speed now and that would feel a bit heartbreaking I think.  I will never know how fast I could have gone only how fast I can go from here and I am not out to break any records or win any races and that is the beauty of getting older, we do things for our own personal reasons, you know for fun (I never thought I would talk about running and fun in the same breath, hah).  Since transitioning from couch potato status to 4 months of running time, the increase in my endurance and speed has been amazing to me and frankly just getting off the couch has already made me a winner, in my mind and that is all that matters.

Running Books because I am a research geek and I need inspiration, always:

I mentioned Born To Run and Finding Ultra  above but these other books also helped me and are helping me with my running journey:  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; Eat & Run; A Life Without Limits; and Running with the Mind of Meditation.

Others on my list to read over the summer include: Sole Sisters, Stories of Women and Running; Running Like a Girl; Running Crazy; Marathon Man; Ultramarathon Man; Running on Empty; The Extra Mile: One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultra-Running Greatness; and Mile Markers: The 26.2 Most Important Reasons Why Women Run.

Also, I invested in some good sport bras, these are my favourites:  Adidas Techfit Molded Bra and Under Armour Bra Top.

Interesting Facts after 4 months of training:  my legs have real muscles; I have gone down 2 clothing sizes; my ass no longer flaps around and neither does my thighs (still working on my stomach ahem but it has shrunk considerably); gardening is easy for me and the may long weekend of putting in my gardens didn't kill me like it usually does; i get stiff occasionally but i never get sore anymore; i have so much more energy than i have had in decades which makes me feel like i am 20 again; i am off my asthma medication; i crave vegetables and fruit and beans and brown rice and chocolate ice cream like crazy.

mash up - April 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. April 2014

  • *dr. pepper licorice twists. *sore aching muscles. *an exhaustion that just won't let up. i might need a good 12 hours sleep and i might just do that tonight. *veronica mars movie tonight. excited. *i love tuesdays, rest days, the only day of the week that i don't work out approximately 2 hours a day. tuesdays are my healing days.
  • horribly strained back muscle + hurts to breathe + work = painkillers = whoa dang what work ahahahaha zzzzzzzzzzz. yeah and i am officially on a training break for the next week which really sucks rotton eggs but honestly i just don't want to hurt anymore. painkiller muscle relaxants nom nom nom.
  • 15 years ago, he was months away from turning 5 and i had turned 30 months before and we loved to eat freezies in the snow  (throw back thursday)

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  • happy birthday henry and eliot. we love you, our forever babies in all your light sweet souls.
  • projectile vomiting - its not just for kids.
  • I have survived the most epic flu. I am 5 pounds lighter and it is apparent to everyone I have seen today as their eyes widen and they exclaim, wow. Because yes, it was that bad. fever. delusions. puking. chills. and the dreams, oh the dreams I had. This flu has changed something inside me and in some ways I felt like I have been on a vision quest of sorts. I am looking forward to getting back to the gym though my amazeballs trainer/brother/friend says I must wait until next week and in the meantime, I am shedding, letting go of everything and anything that no longer serves the me that I know and love. Is good. Sometimes getting really really sick allows us to see and strengthen ourselves. I suppose that is true of anything that throws us out of our comfort zone.
  • i guess i think i am john travolta, we are fancy, me and my brother before my sister was born. early 70's if the suit didn't give that away. i love him. (throwback thursday)

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  • canada day (July 1) sprint triathlon. all registered up. *gulp good thing i start up training again after my 2 week forced hiatus. It be on.
  • first day back in gym since injured. intravels of high knees and butt kickers. oh i missed the track. feels good to be back. feels like coming home.
  • relieved. apparently, i didn't lose the 3 months of hard work that i put in with my 2 week forced rest. because i went for a run and had my watch set on my heart rate and after running for a few minutes, thought i would check my pace, scrolled down only to discover that i had actually been running for 20 minutes. um. for the win.
  • massage. where have you been all my life? sooooo good. will see you again in a couple of weeks.
  • "so glad I didn't go for that run!" no one said. ever. word.
  • I had the absolute best girl night last night. amazing food and yummy drinks. the best conversation and hot tub soak under the stars. and um. I made a wand!! April is a magical beautiful and insanely talented host. thank you April and Celeste. it was just what I needed.

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  • running outside is infinitely more fun than running around an indoor track and also marginally harder due to the wind and hills. but. not bad and I am grateful I stayed away from the treadmill for indoor running because I think that would have made it even harder. happy dance. I feel good.
  • last night. speed work. drills and running intravels. I thought I was going to die but watching the sun set behind the trees with the cacophony of geese and seagulls and other birds at my side as I pounded the pavement made it somewhat pleasurable and definitely rewarding.
  • my legs have been so tight and sore and now after my most amazing massage, they feel so goooood and ready for another 2 weeks of pounding the pavement and trails. massage has become my body's reward for working so hard. I have come to believe that the best kind of self care is the well earned kind.

mash up - March 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. March 2014

  • 24. so what 1993 i guess. girl had some attitude, everything circles back. (throwbackthursday)

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  • she realized that the movement that happens in the stillness is the kind of movement that brings out the truth of her soul and for those years of walking through her silence, she holds the upmost gratitude and reverence.
  • dear gym dude who thinks its okay to hog the rope pull down weight machine with your 40 odd sets ... you can suck it.
  • we wander across tracks and crossroads, sink our hands into the dust of ourselves and one day we look up at the dazzling sky of starry light and remember who we are and that we are made of the solid stardust of love's light and in that breath of remembrance, the jagged ragged falls away and we are revealed. whole.
  • "beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction" (william james)
  • sooooo just about 2 months into my triathlon training and it turns out i am in love with running. no one is more surprised than me.
  • some running days i feel like i could run forever and i love those days. today was one of those days.
  • mondays are hard. they just are.
  • and then. there are the hard running days, the days where your legs are still burning from the lunges and squats from the other day and you want to quit every 30 seconds of all those excrutiating 40 minutes. but you don't because this is its own kind of training abd preparation. and in your head you scream fuck you to your glutes and your calves. and for the last 2 minutes, instead of slowing down, you push harder, faster, and the sweat slides down your face and you think, baby you so got this.
  • it just wouldn't be the first day of spring without a huge snowfall and plummeting temperatures now would it?
  • she closed her eyes and could feel the soft water waves supporting her as the stars rose up from the inky water reflection and landed across her face finding their way into the solid center of her softly opening gaze.
  • dear winter,

    we have had some laughs, some spills and some comfy cozy times. but i am here to tell you, this latest snow stunt and cold winds has reminded me how done i am with you. it is time for you to leave and let spring have her way with us. you are like a bad drunken obnoxious guest at this point so i am here to tell you, eff off already.

    don't let my snowshoes hit you on your way out, dar

  • you know you either are committed or should be "committed" when you are just leaving the gym at 10 pm. good grief this makes me happy. ahaha.
  • today: yoga, swimming, laundry, hot tub, and coffee.
  • “Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren't involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It's precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive--or at least a partial sense of it. Your quality of experience is based not on standards such as time or ranking, but on finally awakening to an awareness of the fluidity within action itself.” ( Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running)

mash up - February 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. February 2014

  • sometimes the voices in her head muffled the sound of her own voice to the point that she couldn't find herself anymore. and so she turned off the computer, set her phone down and walked out the door so she could hear the quiet voices of the trees, the wind and her own heart beating.
  • the city of edmonton raised a pride flag at city hall and so did the alberta legislature for the duration of the olympics. edmonton, i like you.
  • "Just move your legs. Because if you don't think you were born to run, you're not only denying history. You're denying who you are." (born to run)
  • spent valentine's eve in the gym loving on my sweat. good times. 
  • "i don't wanna. yes you do. i really don't. you will feel so good when you are done. but. oh. fine. i'll do it." my inner mind as i head out to the track. this week feels like a neverending loop of a fight with myself.
  • dear yoga, you complete me. thank you. me
  • training for a triathlon is as much about strengthening the mind as it is about the body. that said, this momma's body is gonna be sore tomorrrow 
  • she thought she had lost her poetry on the sweat soaked track or down the chlorine drained shower but then she remembered that it found her at every workout leaping across new muscles and bending across her soft gaze.
  • this. so beautiful. and inspiring. and real.

 

  • 2017. here.

 

  • 2016. here.

  • 2015 (olympic distance). here.

  • cold biting wind. get to the gym, exhausted. in the locker room. bare feet. realized my runners were not in my bag. rebundle up. go home and pick up runners. back to gym. work out. just got home. i should be committed but at least i know i am committed. g'night.

mash up - January 2014

facebook snippets because this is my space and facebook is easier but things have a tendency to get lost in the ether of too muchness. January 2014

  • 2014 entered while she slept and the quiet snow breathed soft thoughts and she considered curling up on the couch under a blanket of softness but instead laced up her running shoes and opened her eyes to the possibilities before her.
  • She remembered that the hardest challenges were the most satisfying and it felt good to be awake in the world and working hard at the seemingly impossible. yes, that's right i am reviving a childhood dream and training for a triathlon. a sprint triathlon for this year with a long term goal of doing an ironman before i turn 50 which means just shy of 5 years. doing it. oh yes i am.
  • when facebook and real world collide it can be absolutely magical. and it was. grateful for an afternoon spent with april.

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  • she hemmed and hawed and shuffled her feet this way and that way because she really felt too tired to move them but she shuffled off to the gym anyway and now she is tapping away in the light of the afternoon. i really must remember this when i feel like giving up and giving in.
  • so exhausted. so very very exhausted.
  • contemplating cutting my hair supra short. it is currently down to my lower back and has been for well over a decade. insane or brilliant, i can't decide.
  • her days are made up of run, bike, swim. repeat. and she stares down the pool lanes and stares down the track lanes and hops on the stationary bike and waits for the ice to melt so she can be out in the trees. she uses her fear as motivation to go when all she wants to do is sit back with a chocolate croissant and a latte and a good book. fear has become her friend and she kisses her fear on the nose and pushes through. again.
  • tonight. pushed myself hard at the pool, arms that good exhausted and then i drive home to discover the graters have been by and decided to pile the bulk of snow and ice right in front of my house and walk, you know, where i park my car. 40 minutes and a shovel and hauling huge chunks of dirty ice to the curb and i don't actually think i am going to be able to lift said arms tomorrow. *insert expletive*
  • my mantra this year ... sweat is my friend. making friends with the crazy amount of sweat that pours off me on a daily basis. whew. currently, sweating in the cube because it doesn't stop immediately after i stop moving. good times i tell you, good times.
  • she quietly went on her way until the need to shout became to much for her and so she burrowed under the salty waters of her heart.
  • 48 hour drive stopping only for food and you know bathroom stops generally at whatever gas station was open, enough money for gas and a fistful of subway stamp filled cards (does anyone remember those?) and the best time in wyoming. 1998. (throwback thursday)

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  •  she realized that the juggling balls create there own kind of exhaustive rhythm and so she let them fall and she watched them bounce across the floor for a moment before she turned and walked away.

mud girl

mudgirlii Sometimes I forget.  I forget what it is that feeds my soul, that makes me shine, that brings out my light.  But lately, lately it is all that I can remember and it is these memories that are shaping my new realities, my new ways of moving through the world, moving through myself. 

I shine when I am happy and I am happiest when I am fully in my body, aware of all the sensations, interacting with the truest part of the world, the earth and all its delights.  I can live too much in my mind and living in the mind is not necessarily a wrong way to live but I can take it too far especially when I have had so many experiences that made it easy for me to disassociate from my body, made me want to disconnect from my body, things like being violated against my will, giving birth to twins that died and blaming my body for not being able to keep them safe, you know that sort of thing.  I clung to these words for the longest time,

"It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinions, it is because they only know their side of the question." (John Stuart Mill). 

 

Following the Greatest Happiness Principle, I could justify my pleasures of the mind, my appreciation for my bookworm tendancies, for artistic endeavours over any sort of bodily pleasure.  But really, deep down, I knew better.  And I am not going to get into Descartes' Mind-Body Dualism or the Mind-Body Problem because this is not a dissertation.  This is a realization that I have had since I started training.

My body is a crucial part of who I am.  The ways in which my mind and my body interact are meaningful and together they shape me, who I am and how I am and how I feel and so on and so forth.  When I was 7, my sister was born and when she was born, she had a seizure which scarred a part of her brain and left her with cerebral palsy and not a mild form.  Of course this affected who she was and how she moved through the world and not necessarily in a bad way.  She was love and light and all things beautiful (I say was because she died at the age of 27) and that is because she was loved, very much so but all who knew her.  She was never able to walk, to feed herself, to talk with words in strung out sentences, to do any of the things that I take for granted on a daily basis.  She needed 24/7 care and our family and friends and loved ones ensured she had that and more up until the day she died.  Her life was often filled with pain but it had so much beauty to compensate for that.  She had a good life.  But this isn't about her, it is about me and I think because of growing up with her, I tended to have a love-hate affair with my body, which is to say, I appreciated it and was always incredibly grateful for my abilities but at the same time, I suffered a great deal of guilt over the fact that I was healthy.

And as these photographs that I recently came across show, even prior to my sister being born, I was more than happy to slop around in the mud.  In fact I was quite ecstatic about it.  Clearly I was not ever a girly girl though I do also like many girly girl pastimes.  We are all so much more complicated than even a single shade of grey.  I am the girl in the piggy tails, obviously.  And no, that is not at the beach but rather a mud pit in a playground, the result of a long rainstorm.

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mudgirl I have no idea who the other kids in this photograph are her than the cute little boy sitting next to the girl holding the crying baby. He is my brother.  Clearly, I didn't want to sit still for this photo, "Take the damn picture and let me back in the mud please!"

Before I even started triathlon training, I took stock of how I wanted to approach it.  In 2009, I took a learn to run clinic in the hopes that running would help me lose weight.  It didn't.  And I believe that is because I went into it with a bad attitude.  I was still grieving, lamenting the pregnancy and grief weight gain and I hated running.  Hated it.  It was hard and I hated it.  I did run a 5 k that year but it was painful and I was slow, chugging and breathing hard, shin splints and after the race, I never ran again.  Well until this year.

I wanted it to be different this time.  And it already was because I wasn't doing it to lose weight, not at all.  I had already lost a lot of weight and I didn't really care about that anymore.  I was no longer grieving and I thought I was embodied again.  As it turns out I was wrong about that but I didn't realize that part of it until I started deep into my training and discovered what it was to actually be embodied.

embodied.  In philosophy, the embodied mind thesis holds that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body. Philosophers, psychologists, cognitive scientists, and artificial intelligence researchers who study embodied cognition and the embodied mind argue that all aspects of cognition are shaped by aspects of the body. The aspects of cognition include high level mental constructs (such as concepts and categories) and human performance on various cognitive tasks (such as reasoning or judgment). The aspects of the body include the motor system, the perceptual system, the body's interactions with the environment (situatedness) and the ontological assumptions about the world that are built into the body and the brain. (wikipedia)

 

I wanted it to be fun.  I did a lot of visualization before I even strapped on my running shoes.  I remembered playing Tag, Bloody Murder, Kick the Can, Sardines and such when I was a kid and remembered what it felt like to run and scream and laugh, my hair flying behind me as my feet danced over the streets and large fields of dandelion green grass.  I remembered running up and down the white sand beach of my lake and biking all over town, racing to keep up with my dad, skidding on my face bloody knees when I would fall over a rock until the day that my dad finally let me bicycle out to my grandfather's ranch with him and my uncles and how that felt like the greatest day of my life (it was a very long ride for kid (40 km)  down gravel roads on a road bike because no one had mountain bikes back then).  Swimming was easier to visualize, I had always loved swimming from the time I tipped my toes and then threw my whole body into the lake (when I was barely walking) to the years and years of competative swimming, lifeguarding, teaching lessons and coaching.  I didn't really need to spend much time visualizing my love of swimming, it was firmly entrenched.

I guess I wanted it to feel like playing in the mud.  And it did.  And it does.  Not always, there are really hard days when it feels like work but a good 80% of the time, it feels like I am out there playing with a big ol goofy smile on my face.  And reconnecting to my inner mudgirl, that in and of itself makes this journey I am on already worth everything.  to me.

the grandfathers

April 1st is the birthday of my Poppa, my Grumpy, my Grandpa.  So today felt like a good day to finally get around to posting this.  I wrote it almost 2 years ago and when I came here to blog, today, I saw it saved in draft form, found sometime last November in the archives of my hard-drive.  So, yeah, I guess a double post on my first day back to blogging.  On April Fool's day.  No joke. The Grandfathers

They came to Canada, crossing that imaginary border, a fire in their belly for a land that had yet to be worked over by too many hands.  My grandpa, born in Idaho, moved to the shores of Slave Lake when he could barely toddle around on legs soon made strong by crisscrossing the bush with traps while drilling holes into the frozen lake ice of winter, small hands grasping the eyeballs of inquisitive fish.  My granddad, born in Missouri, eight years before my birth, packed up my grandma and seven kids moving across the land until he found himself in a valley of towering trees, muskeg and papery thin birch.  He made camp by the river, water flowing from the lake that holds softly the roots of my truth.

My grandpa was a boxer.  He also won an arm wrestling championship when he was in his sixties.  I watched him standing beside this much taller, 30 years his junior, muscled up man as the organizers handed out trophies.  Beside that second place winner, my grandfather looked small, old and fragile.  This man, who would fight a grizzly bear for a moose, who knew his way through the bush and across the lake and around the winding spaces of my granny, looked unimaginably fragile to me.  The first time my grandpa put boxing gloves on me, I felt awkward and unstable and in need of protection as though wearing the gloves made me less invincible, more vulnerable.

My little town had far more boys than girls, young men working the oil rigs and cutting back trees rooted deeply in rough-hewn hands and the promise of freedom.  I was the only girl in a sea of boy cousins yearning for the swirl of a pink frothy dress hiding behind a spunky, feisty attitude fueled by the red neck anger of something I didn't yet understand, the clinging hands of poverty.  I wore it in darkly drawn on eyeliner and big black boots topped off with a sullen scowl and bright orange hair, a splattering of freckles across the bridge of a broken nose, invisible boxing gloves not quite hiding ragged fingernails.

I watched the orange glow of the fire as I tipped the bottle and felt the burn of vodka, music floating over me as the trees towered above.  One of the ever changing bush party sites was a campsite directly across the river from my granddad's farm, black angus breathing out snot and snorts, stomping the earth.  By the time I was old enough to party at the site known only by his last name, he had long since died.

When I was 12, my granddad died quite suddenly of a brain aneurysm.  It was my first experience with death, so different from my son who, by the age of 12, had watched his great grandpa; aunt; and two brothers die.  It was unexpected and brutal as death often is.  My mother told us he was at the hospital as we drove out to the farm and in my head, I knew he was dead.  We pulled up alongside the river, drove up the long driveway parking in front of the white picket fence, incongruous from the sturdy buildings and knotty wire fences separating the pastures filled with drying cow pies.  I sat on the light blue velvet cushions of the van, sweating in the beating heat of all those windows, in the knowing and I could see him - a battered cowboy hat, scuffed boots, strumming his guitar, fingers cracked and dry from wrangling the bull and birthing the baby calf, blue eyes staring down the moon.

Vodka hit my brain, warm waves hovering above the lick of orange flame and shadow illuminations beneath the fuzzy stars of “I love you man.”  I watched the stars, separating myself from the drunken laughter, the endless conversation but I could feel the collective pull as chalky smoke drifted up from across the river.  A larger fire, bright orange ribbons dancing, distracting from the wooden pallet campfire at my feet.  Young men, drunken sways in the night air, stumbled over themselves, over the bridge, weaving towards the shape of my uncle, begging to help, to be of some service.  Stars collided with the knowing.  It was a normal burn, controlled and necessary.  I wondered where were those helpers at that other party, under the towering jack pines, soft spongy ground coated with white sand icing as I lost my virginity, torn open under a full moon, pine needles sticking into my ass like an acupuncture I didn't ask for, screams lost to the howls of the owl, the fire crackle too far away to see, drunken laughter splayed in the distance.  The boys were busy doing what boys do, tending the fire.

I rode my bicycle with streamers on the handlebars, staring up at the bright blue sky as the fire bomber planes soaked trails behind them.  My grandpa tugged my pigtails reassuringly in the sunlight of his driveway swept clean of pine needles and bits of soft sandy dust and I was reassured that the fire was out there and towns didn't burn the way that the bush was prone to.  I promised him, that last time, hollowed out cheeks laid white against the hospital sheets, that I would quit smoking, the burning ember flickering between my fingers, smoke rings blown out.

When the fires hit my home town this spring there was a shattering.  My parents had been visiting for the weekend, back yard barbecues and greenhouse shopping.  Flowers and seedlings lined my patio waiting to be planted into the fresh spring earth.  They were on their way home when my phone began its incessant buzzing and sometime after midnight, we opened the door to their weary faces, tired eyes.

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The summer following the fire, I walked through the town where I grew up and saw the devastation, burned out vehicles piled high on top of each other next to blocks of emptiness, piles of rubble sitting next to a sunflower patch, face turned towards the sun, smiling as though it had never happened.  Even though I had heard the stories and saw the photographs, it was still jarring to see, to feel my memories eroding and changing and I wondered at the memories cleared away, razed down in a blackened fight of smoke and flame.

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There was no one left to tug my pigtails reassuringly as I admired the poppies in my mom's front beds, her lawn grass green.  I tried to imagine the smoke so thick that my uncle could barely make it down the street, floating embers landing on concrete as he rescued their dog shaking in the farthest reaches of the darkest corner.  I looked over at my grandpa's pretty wood slated house, spared from the fire that took out blocks of houses in seemingly random disorder.  I always found it hard to believe that the house started its life as two skid shacks pushed together and that my granny left a perfectly good hospital to trudge miles through the snow to give birth to my father in the cold of winter's night in what became the kitchen where I learned to bake bread.  The house had been sold years before and when the new owner gutted it, he proudly walked me through the rooms pointing out the new features and I took a Polaroid photograph of the faded linoleum that my grandfather installed for my granny when I was still able to reach up and pluck the mints out of his front pocket, white peppermints that cleared his throat during the long days at the lumber mill.

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Fire is a fierce and powerful force fueled by wind, the summer storm of lightning strikes and cigarettes carelessly thrown out of cars moving as fast as the conversations that threaten Bambi and the field mice scurrying across the jack pine floor.  Dead and old trees are burned to make way for the dense green of the new.  There are pine trees that need the heat of fire to open up their cones, to create the seeds that repopulate.

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I wandered along the ridges of the beach road, the sun dipping into the lake, blackened trees reflecting her light even as fresh new green swished in bright tutu layers and I breathed in the clearing of space.

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A fire rips through me and sparks out of my fingertips as I clear away the dust and debris, the interfering clutter, the frayed edges of my boxing gloves held together by a thin band of leather string.  The fire is burning away the last of the deadened branches and cracking open pods, releasing new, soft seeds and I look down and smooth my fresh new green skirt.

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And high above the bright lights of the city glow ... I watch the stars, the grandfathers tending to the glittering fire.

awake

Sometime in early December 2013, I chose a word as I always do and every single year that I have done so, I find myself surprised by the direction my life goes.  Perhaps my subconscious knows a little bit more about what I need than my conscious self. I chose "awake".

Because I felt at the time that I had been curled inwards sleeping for a couple of years now.  That is my perception and my perception is often skewed so I take it with a grain of salt.  I wasn't really sleeping per say but I had been focused on what was exactly in front of me, figuring out this new life with a son that was grown and again finding myself with a lack of friends who were in my particular situation.  When I had my son, I was the only person I knew who had a baby and now I know so many people with babies or children but no one who was on the brink and in the 'empty nest syndrome'.  So I rearranged my house, cleaned my garage, continued the ever ongoing landscape/gardening/outdoor beautification projects; remodeled and decorated my basement; concentrated on work; adopted a rescue dog who has enriched my life beyond belief (in 2013, my word was enrich and said dog came into our lives mere weeks into 2013); embarked on a crazy assed budget which altered the way I spend money and consequently altered my lifestyle (and also brought my shoulders down because saving for a future and getting a grip on finances is a real stress reliever) and spent a lot of time just walking around my neighbourhood and breathing into my solitary thoughts.

Life is good and when I chose the word 'awake', I thought I would re-enter my creative life even if I wasn't sure what form that would take, would I pick up my cameras again?  Would I start writing again?  Would I play with the shelves and buckets of art supplies?  No clue.  As it turns out, this new creative journey that I have embarked on looks nothing like I thought it would.

Since 2011, the weight that had continually spiralled upwards since the pregnancy and death of my twins, suddenly started melting off me.  I still have no idea why, not really.  Perhaps because I was shedding the pain and grief, time has a way of getting you through.  I knew that I was no longer depressed or manically happy and then manically angry and then manically sad.  My emotions had leveled and my life was quiet.  I shedded a lot of my commitments along with the weight and I pretty much just felt lighter all the way around.  While I had lost a lot of weight, perspective is everything and while I was lighter, I was still heavier than I had been for most of my life.

And then.  One night about a week before Christmas, my son texted me about his working out and seemingly out of the blue asked, "Do you want to do a triathlon with me this spring/summer?"  And I instantly typed back, "yes.  I am in".

And then I woke up.  Turned to my husband the next morning and asked, "good grief, did I really say yes to that?"  I had.  Here I was a newly turned 45 year old woman who had done zero exercising other than hooping since 2009.  I walked a lot.  That was it.  And I was still a good 35-40 pounds overweight even with all the weight loss.

On January 1, 2014, I laced up my running shoes, layered up and went for the first run I had attempted in almost 5 years.  I did a combination of run/walk obviously but I went for 30 minutes and it felt almost good.  Almost.  Mostly it felt hard and I wondered, could I really do this?  I had no idea.  But I was going to find out I suppose.

so this happened

I celebrated (well I didn't actually celebrate at all, in fact I completely missed it) my 10 year blog anniversary last July (2013) and then save for a couple of blog posts here and there pretty much stopped blogging and nothing at all in 2014 up until today.  It isn't even that I have nothing to say but how to write when you are in the deep change, the deepest change.  But I sort of miss coming here and I realized that I want to sort of document this new journey of mine that may seem like it is about completing an Ironman before I turn 50 but is really about so much more or at least that is what I have realized in the 3 months that I have been training. 

So this is the sort bare bones of the backstory.  There really is so much more to it and I am going to attempt to come here more regularly so that I can get it all out for myself, for anyone who might be interested.  I have been googling a lot triathlon blog stories and reading a lot of books about people who run marathons or ultramarathons or triathlons and I find it both incredibly inspirational as well as interesting to read about the personalities and backstories of those who embark upon this sort of crazy and there is no doubt in my mind that it is a little bit crazy, mad even while at the same time making more sense than anything else in my rambling life.