One Year

August 18, 2009

On Sunday GB and I had our first wedding anniversary.  I think in some ways we were dreading it a little because our wedding was so amazing and so far above any other experience either of us has ever had that we knew our anniversary would not compare.  However, we really had the most amazing day and were able to reminisce about our wedding without being sad about the fact that we won’t be living together (or even in the same country) for another year.

We played a shocking amount of The Farming Game, a board game from GB’s youth that we both love, played some cards, did our respective workouts, hung out with the dogs, went out and played pool, and had the most romantic dinner ever at our newly-discovered restaurant on the river.  It’s weird to think about how little of our first year of marriage we actually spent in the same country.  And this year will be even less, but with the hope of being reunited next Fall for good.

It’s starting to feel like my return to the Island is imminent.  All signs point to Fall: the corn is now taller than I am, my priority race is just around the corner, and the back-to-school commercials have started.  Although I’m sad to be going back and leaving GB and the dogs, I am looking forward to being back at work and to having a routine.  I can only handle this summer vacation business for so long before I go a little loopy.  I’ve been studying for the GRE, but that doesn’t account for 10 hours in a day.  I’m also considering taking up mountain biking when I go back to the rock.  I’ve always been a little scared of it, but I’m leaning towards bike commuting for this year and that would require a mountain bike to be off the road and out of the traffic.  If I have a mountain bike, I might as well compete, right?  We’ll see.I still have four triathlon events between now and November, so I need to stay healthy for that.

Jack, taking a break in the shade

Jack, taking a break in the shade

Finn having fun in the warm weather

Finn having fun in the warm weather

It has been so great having the dogs around all summer.  Finn seems really well adjusted to life on the farm here and he seems a little less freaked out by my long-time disappearances and short appearances in his life.  I wish I could take him back with me, but that wouldn’t be the best choice for any of us since he’s such a neurotic dog, so I’ll just have to settle for being happy that he’s happy and knowing that GB is doing an awesome job of taking care of both of them.

And now, off to do a couple of workouts.  I’m well into my taper now and my body is possibly on the upswing.  My last few runs have felt loose and quick, so maybe the taper is working.

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Feeling a Little Different

August 10, 2009

Clearly having fun

Yesterday I did a small-town sprint tri and chased after the still-elusive win.  My cousin-in-law was also racing and it was his first tri, so there was no shortage of family support, making for a really fun race.

It was the first triathlon I’ve ever done that had a pool swim.  Interesting, to say the least.  We ranked ourselves for heat assignments and then had to decide amongst our randomly-assigned lanemates who should lead and who should follow.  You can imagine how those conversations went.  So…are you fast?  nope.  you? nope.

Anyway, my two lanemates and I got it figured out pretty well and the swim ended up being fairly painless.  I have to say, I am so at home in a pool that I wanted the swim portion to go on and on.  Sadly, it only lasted 500m and then I was off into anaerobic hell for an hour.  I had forgotten how different sprint racing is than Olympic distance.

I had a solid ride and in spite of three close calls, made it back to T2 safely.  I did get schooled in a big way on the bike by the woman who won the race.  I had a decent lead out of the pool, but I was no match for her on the bike.  She blew by me at lightning speed and it was only a few minutes before I couldn’t tell her apart from the mailboxes in the distance.

Although my run was not shockingly fast, I’m really pleased with how it went.  I have put a lot of mental and physical energy into my run this season and I have felt a real shift of late.  I really feel like I take the run on aggressively now rather than just enduring it and hanging on.  I felt strong and fast and was actually enjoying myself on the run yesterday which is an enormous deal for me.  All those workouts on the black track in the mid-day heat with no shade – those are what I remembered when I was on the run.  Those are the workouts I have in the bank that bolster me when the pain sets in.

Slowly, slowly, I am getting there.  I am turning into the triathlete I want to become.  Lots of days it feels like nothing has changed: I do the workouts, I eat the food, I dream about how things will be.  But days like yesterday remind me that I am actually there.  This is the stuff – it’s the consistent, often not-especially-exciting training that is moving me in the right direction.  The richness comes from doing the little things consistently and well.  Winning would be fun, but nothing is better than the feeling that I am improving and growing as an athlete and a person.  Except maybe the feeling of GB smiling and screaming at me from the side of the road while all the pieces of my training come together in a race.

Molasses and Teddy

Molasses and Teddy

On Friday we took GB’s cousin’s kids camping. They are four and seven and this was their first real camping trip. It was also our first camping trip with young children and although we have both worked in the outdoors with young kids, it is not really the same experience.

We piled into the car with our backpacks and car seats and all the extra things one takes when kids are involved (like teddy bears, for example). We had reserved a campsite that involved a mile and a half hike in, half of which was up a very steep hill. We spent the car ride talking up size of the “mountain” to the kids, so they would know what to expect, and we taught them how to call a break when they needed one.

The kids were actually pretty amazing on the hike and remained in good spirits for the whole thing. In addition to carrying our own packs weighing about 50lbs, we did end up carrying their packs as well by the end, but that is to be expected.  We are not sure how an overnight with kids requires having heavier packs than we normally would on a week-long backpacking trip, but I guess we were prepared for any emergency that might arise.

The kids and I collected wood and set up the tent while GB started dinner. We played a little frisbee and then settled in for a delicious dinner and of course, s’mores. Once we had reviewed and identified all the scary noises outside (so as to make them less scary), the kids drifted off to sleep and we followed closely behind. That is, until the wind and rain arrived. Within a few minutes one side of the tent was blowing like crazy and water was pouring in the roof. We were terrified that the youngest, being already a little wary of things, would wake up and completely fall to pieces with fear. Thankfully, the storm only lasted a couple of hours and neither of the kids woke up at all during that time. Somehow the rain only leaked on us and they both remained dry and warm in their sleeping bags. Neither GB and I got a wink of sleep until the last drop of rain and crash of thunder were long gone.

The kids surprised us again in the morning by sleeping in past 7am. We were up and making coffee and breakfast before they even stirred. When they did wake up we dined and then went about the business of taking down our campsite and preparing to hike out. Since I had foolishly packed the frisbee at the bottom of my pack, the kids played “Toilet paper catch” at GB’s genius suggestion. It was then that we decided that when we have kids, we’d like to have that kind: the kind that will happily throw a toilet paper roll back and forth for entertainment; the kind that don’t really need toys.

They were also extremely polite all the time. The four year old was sipping on his morning hot chocolate and suddenly looked up, eyes bright, and said “thanks for making us hot chocolate!”. Priceless.

The hike back down the mountain was equally well-managed by the little ones and they were all giggles and laughs on the drive home. Given their exceptional behavior, I would not be surprised if they climbed into their parents’ car and had complete exhaustive meltdowns. It was an awesome trip all around and both GB and I are glad we suggested it. Over s’mores the idea of making it an annual trip was thrown around and all were amenable. I figure we have about two more years before we’ll need a bigger tent to accommodate us all. And I’m curious to see how many years until Teddy and Molasses no longer make the trip.

The kids and Molasses enjoy a quick "sitting break" by the stream.

The kids and Molasses enjoy a quick "sitting break" by the stream.