Friday, September 25, 2009

Motivated by popsicles

Today's run was less than stellar - a meager four miles until knee pain kicked in. So the run turned into a walk which turned into a cheese omelet that was completely unearned. Intended to go to yoga, but skipped that too. Gonna be a long training season if I keep this up.

If it's really possible to love and hate something at the same time, for me it's spin class.  Every minute feels like an eternity. Last night I went to spinning with my sadistic instructor Toni. Never take any sort of fitness class from someone named Toni. It's the name. Just sounds tough as nails. She's not afraid to make you hurt while screaming "faster, faster" in your face. I've always been a people pleaser, and I definitely don't want to piss off Toni, so I spin until my calves cramp. Then I drag my sorry butt home, shower and lay on the couch and moan while eating chocolate ice cream bars. It's all about balance.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Back in the saddle

Good news for readers who actually believe I do triathlons. A mere 12 months from now I'll be toeing the line at Ironman Wisconsin, God-willing. So that means plenty of time to contemplate exciting subjects such as periodization, nutrition, training plans and the current state of my general slothiness. Yippee.

I thought my Ironman days were behind me. After crossing my last finish line and feeling my knees seize up like at arthritic octogenarian, my brain said "no more!" Instead, I tried to become holistic and kind to my body. I meditated and practiced yoga. Tried to embrace leisurely walks instead of runs. I naively thought my appetite would decrease as my energy needs dropped. (Yeah, right.) I would become Sting-like with inner peace. The results of Project Peaceful Jen are in -- total failure.

Then David started grumbling about always wanting to do an Ironman. I inwardly groaned. Really? An Ironman? Why not a half? Maybe a couple sprints? Nope. He wants the whole enchilada. And he asked if I'd do it with him. I hemmed and hawed, listing all the reasons an Ironman hurts. Then I made the mistake of watching the finisher videos at this year's Wisconsin race. And so I said yes. September 12, 2010. Lake Monona here we come.

So, now I can actually blog about training, though we're still far, far away from racing. Saturday was a lovely 24 mile ride and three mile tempo run. Yesterday was the most pathetic 3.5  mile run ever at Shawnee Mission Park. So pathetic, I'm not even counting it. It is clear my endurance base is sadly eroded. Grrrr. Exciting plans today for lifting over lunch and a spin class tonight with psycho instructor Toni. The woman makes you hurt. But is a sadistic way, I'm ready for a little pain. Which is why I signed up in the first place.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bye Bye, Summer

As a holiday weekend comes to an end, nostalgia tugs at me. Labor Day is the end of summer. There still may be a brief stretch of hot days to come, but kids are at the bus stop, Halloween candy is on the shelves and leaves are covering my running trail.

Each year, summer seems to speed by more and more quickly. Barely have I settled into the warm-weather groove, than it's over with the quick shift to fall. I love fall, except that it's the prelude to winter. And winter is tough, long and cold.

So in an effort to put a positive spin on what's around the corner, here is my top ten reasons winter is good list.

1. You can put on jammies at 6 p.m. without looking like a crazy person.

2. The fleecy blanket recently bought at Costco will get lots of use.

3. Garbage doesn't smell before trash day.

4. Coats.

5. The smell of snow.

6. No more raking.

7. You can count shoveling as a cardio workout.

8. Snow days.

9. Bailey's Irish Cream.

10. Mashed potatoes.

Monday, August 24, 2009


It's that time of year again. As Ironman races click by, I wonder if another one is in the cards. The internal debate rages on, pro and con lists are made, finances examined, locales researched and my desire to once again embrace that lifestyle is scrutinized. Do I have another 140.6 mile day in me?

True blue triathletes don't need to think about it. It's what they live and breath. Two and sometimes three (freaks!) Ironman races a season are standard. I don't know these people personally, but I've heard the myths. Their social lives are based on swim, bike and run - and maybe one beer before their heads hit the pillow. This is not me.

Completing two IM races in eight years (plus one DNF at mile 13 of the run) does not make me seasoned. (Photo is from IM-Florida in 2007.) I'm no poser, but the 140.6 sticker on my car is starting to mock me. It's been nearly two years and it either needs to be removed or I have to step it up.

How can my desire to race a year from now be determined today? Wait and see, one might say. The sad fact is, I can't. Ironman races fill up in a matter of hours - a year before the race date. People gladly pay $525 for race entry to exert themselves physically for up to 17 hours. And it's not even race day that's daunting. It's the training. The six hour rides, no Friday night happy hours, the painfully sore hamstrings and substantial investment in Bodyglide. (It's not as cool as it sounds. Promise.)

But there is a pay-off. The feeling of peace right before the cannon goes off. Looking around at 2,000 other athletes are in the same boat. Meeting some of the best people ever, especially on the run. Crossing the finish line - the only place where regular people feel like a rockstar. And the day after. Rehashing the small details with your friends while barely able to walk down stairs.

More internal debate to come. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sophie Day

I've been dogsitting for Sophie the last couple days, so dog thoughts are running through my mind...

Sophie was born on Christmas Eve 1998 in Richmond, Missouri, one of a litter of fourteen. By the time I first laid eyes on her two months later, it was just she and a sister pup left. “Pick me!” she seemed to say, paws propped up on the plywood divider. Her sister was more docile, which I thought might be a better choice. Never having owned a dog, I believed docile meant easy. But Mike convinced me otherwise.

The breeder was tired. Selling 12 golden retrievers would be enough to wear anyone out. She said she’d give us a hell of a deal if we took them both. But I was overwhelmed with just one puppy, so we declined. Instead, Sophie Day (named after Sophia Loren and her penchant for black eyeliner) boarded the SUV bound for Kansas City.

It has been over a decade since Sophie trotted into my life and to regale all the dog stories would require a novel instead of a blog entry.

She is still around, living with Mike and going to ‘work” everyday at the office. She is slower, as a ten year dog is apt to be. Her back paw never quite healed from a scuffle with the FedEx truck and the golden has turned to white. Golf course runs are now block walks. But she still begs furiously for your last bite of food, greets visitors with a wagging tail and loves a drive to Dairy Queen.

Someday, sooner rather than later, I’ll have to blog something much sadder. But for today, I am fortunate to see the dimming of an era before it’s totally gone. And be nudged by a wet nose for just one more peanut butter treat.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Meet the Republicans, er…Parents

David and I road tripped to Nebraska for our rendition of  “Meet the Parents.” Fortunately, his mother is nothing like Barbra Streisand. They do, however, watch Fox News. All. Day. Long.

For a girl raised by a Democratic politician, this is eye opening.  The anti-Obama sentiment is strong.  My party is responsible for ruining the country. Liberals make decisions based on emotions, not facts. Cap and trade is a disaster. The proposed healthcare plan will lead to a country of crooked teeth. (See Canada.) Why hasn’t Obama fixed things? (Seriously, in seven months Obama is supposed to make up for eight years of Cheney, I mean Bush?)

The truth is, neither party does much for me right now. I’m adrift in my beliefs, needing to brush-up on details, but struggling to tear myself away from Perez long enough to do so. Because watching celebrities self-destruct is much less stressful.

It is David’s goal to “convert” me to the Republican Party, though he thinks I’m already there and still brainwashed Democrat by my upbringing. He may be right. I’m in political transit and not sure where I’ll land.

Politics aside, his parents were kind and welcoming. His mom is the quintessential grandma, overindulging the grandkids and making massive amounts of food. His stepfather is a good ‘ole boy, partial to Budweiser and the recently installed tiki hut next to the pool. (With a flat screen TV so you can watch while in the pool. Awesome.) They are salt of the earth and darn good people.

Not unlike may parents. I think they’d get along fine. As long as no one brings up politics.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Sister I Choose

Blood may be thicker than water for some, but not for me.

Don’t misunderstand. My family is incredibly important to me. We are a hodgepodge of steps, half’s and even some full-blood relations. And while I love them all, the person that knows me best is not a family member.

Becca is my memory keeper, confidante and sounding board. We met as wary six and eight-year olds after a 25 meter backstroke race. My third place finish surprised Becca, the winner and year-round swimmer.


She sauntered up and said, “You’re pretty good.”

Me: “You’re pretty good, too.”

Becca: “You wanna come over and play?”

Me: “Yeah, but I gotta ask my mom.”

And that was the birth of our sisterhood.

We spent hours in her dad’s workshop inventing household items. (Who wouldn’t want a sign for the dishwasher that stated “clean” or “dirty?”) Our makeshift haunted house in her basement nearly torched the house. The Halloween costumes that left paint in my dad’s new Oldsmobile. She taught me how to shave my legs, smoke a cigarette and set me up with college guys when I was still in high school. Becca single-handedly increased my coolness factor.

She remembers and celebrates my mother, reminds me of bad dates I would choose to forget and is my voice of reason when I overreact. Without our daily conversations, something feels amiss.  And our significant others should be grateful, as it relieves them from having to listen to every, single detail of our day.

Maybe I didn’t choose Becca. Maybe something bigger just knew I needed a sister like her. Either way, I’m lucky.

Happy 38th birthday, Becca Jane.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

My feet have a resumé.

(Apologies for the delay, my three loyal readers. Vacation and general life chaos have been time consuming. Per your request, I'm back in the blogging saddle.)

Feet are ugly. Home to toe jam, nail fungus, bunions, callouses, corns and hammer toes. While mine don't suffer all these maladies, they did elicit a strong reaction from my first pedicurist. She called over three women to witness the extent of my callouses, while shrieking in a language I didn't understand. It was horrifying.

But a pedicure is just putting lipstick on the pig. Razor off the callouses and pumice my heels , but three runs later and sandpaper feet return. And there's nothing to be done (short of surgery) for the sweet bunion forming on my right foot. And the occassional missing toenail and blisters just goes without saying for a triathlete. (See above blister, post Ironman Florida.)

As I bemoaned my ugly feet, a kind soul told me, "Your feet have a resumé." I was taken aback.

Why did I care what my feet look like? A lifelong athlete, they have crossed multiple Ironman and marathon finish lines. Pedaled endlessly on my bike. Ran around tennis courts, danced through endless ballet classes and even high kicked on my college pom squad. Of course they are not the Giselle Bundchen of feet. They're barely Howard Stern.

So as I give myself a Swiss Family Robinson self-pedicure, (Wusthauf knife and sand block from Lowe's) I have a new appreciation for my gnarly wheels. It's not about how they look, it's where they're going.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Strange denizens of the yoga studio.

I love yoga. I love my yoga studio. I do not, however, love all my fellow students. Allow me to introduce.... strange denizens of the yoga studio. 

The Jingler. 
This woman wears more jewelry than Mr. T. And every necklace and bracelet has various charms. It only takes the tiniest shift in body positioning to sound like a bell choir. Thank you, Jingler, for adding your personal soundtrack to the class.

The Porno-breather.
Yes, yoga is all about breath. I work hard to make my inhales and exhales sound like a mockery of Darth Vador. But, Mr. Porno-breather, you scare me. The HVAC noises that you emit nearly block out the instructor's commentary. Frankly, I think you're just showing off.

Anti-antiperspirant Man.
Ah, geez. Does this even need mentioning? We're in a heated studio. In the summer. Doing an activity that requires deep breathing. I don't care if you're Matthew McConaughey, do us all a favor and throw on some Speedstick.

The Gadget Gal. 
I'm not talking about yoga props. Her mat is surrounded by towels, keys, a cup of water, cell phone, extra t-shirt, a watch, hair accessories and socks. See the wall at the back of the room? Those are shelves. Give 'em a shot.

The Preemptive Poser.
The PP likes to anticipate the next pose. She's always one step ahead, unless she's wrong. Which is almost all the time. PP's aren't really bothersome unless they're on the mat next to you. Then you spend the class fascinated by how many times they screw up. (Maybe that's just me. I've always been competitive.)

Ms. Madonna Arms.
I have no complaints about you except that I am jealous. Seriously, all you do is yoga? No weights? No swimming? No P90X? Because I covet your arm definition. You are an inspiration. Or a freak of nature.

Feel like I should end on a positive note, but just don't have one today. Namaste. 

Friday, June 12, 2009

Water girl...

There are those that like being on the water and those that love being in it. I'm of the second camp. Always have been.

The smell of chlorine. Shoulders like a linebacker. Goggle marks that stick around for hours. Love it all.

I have been a swimmer for 30 years. Three decades after mom dropped me off for swim practice, my alarm still goes off at 5:30 a.m. three times a week, telling me to get my butt to the pool. So I do. (The pic is circa 1981 of me before the start of a race.)

People question my sanity. How far do you swim? (3,500-5,000 meters) That has to be incredibly boring. (Not boring. Peaceful.) You must be training for something. (Not currently.) How hard is it to get out of a warm bed and into a cold pool? (Okay, sometimes that is hard.)

Other swimmers get it. The same way runners brag of a high, swimmers operate at a hum. The rhythm, mechanics and breathe work together to achieve an efficiency not found in other sports. After a workout I feel the good exhaustion, without my joints shouting obscenities at me.

I'll continue to run as long as my knees hold up. My bike will see the road for as long as I feel comfortable in lycra shorts. But speedos will hang from my bedroom doorknob, well, until I no longer have a doorknob to hang them from.

Happy 30th anniversary, pool.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I can do it

I'm fretting. It's what women do. Worry and metaphorically wring their hands. 

As a single gal homeowner, there is plenty to fret about. Today's concern is water in the basement. I'm at work and fear what's waiting for me at home. Maybe a closet full of towels can contain any damage, but some sort of shop vac may be required. I don’t own a shop vac.

Fortunately, my new beau does. Along with Craftsman tools, a stainless steel grill, Costco membership and the ability to perform car maintenance in his garage. It’s all very impressive. And completely out of my realm of talent.

So goes the modern girl’s dilemma. We have careers, manage finances, juggle social lives, take care of family and sometimes raise children on our own. We can do it all. But do we have to? Is it pathetic to let someone else install a faucet?

Last Sunday the wheel came off the lawnmower mid-mow and my floral tool set (thanks, Dad) couldn’t make the repair. Feminist convictions wavered. Go to Home Depot and spend two hours fixing it. Or call David.

It took him four minutes. Good as new.

We’ve had this debate before. As I bemoaned not owning a cordless drill and tall ladder, David informed me what I really needed was a man. I bristled. I can clean gutters/replace well windows/plant landscaping myself, I told him. And he agreed. But it would be so much easier if I accepted help. So I did.

And now a thank you dinner is in order. Where’s my apron?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Three months and counting....

Don't let the heading fool you, I am not pregnant. Dad, pick yourself up off the floor. Instead, I'm celebrating (okay, acknowledging) three months of no TV. Truth be told, I do own a TV. A sharp 42-inch plasma. It's shiny and impressive in my living room. It's just never on. I'll start at the beginning...

I found myself in this position, not to make a statement about the mind-numbing effects of television, but for a far simpler reason – needing to save money. Cable cost $92 monthly. The rational side of my brain screamed $92 is a lot of jack for little return. The emotional side cried but which stripper Bret Michaels will choose on Rock of Love Tour Bus?

So I canceled my cable. While this is certainly not earth-shaking, it must be mentioned the role television fills to a person who lives alone. It is almost always on. From the morning newscast and weather to the last Law & Order, the barrage of voices was a constant hum in my life. It staved off the silence that can overwhelm single life existence.

TV characters were my friends. Matt Lauer and I dined together for breakfast. Meredith Grey helped clean my house. Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) directed my dinner menu. Feeling down? The real housewives of Orange County lifted my self-esteem. Yes, I have real flesh and blood friends. But they have lives of their own.

The first month was tough. More than I'd anticipated. Being alone with my thoughts is not all that interesting. But like with any habit, it gets easier. I eat slower, read more and sadly, talk to myself more. Or maybe that's just the multiple personalities. And when it gets too quiet, hello music.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The kinda, sorta vegetarian.

I'm a vegetarian that sometimes eats meat, which probably angers both camps. Make a decision. Stand by your convictions. And I do stand by my convictions. Until I stand by a pepperoni pizza and then the wavering begins.

Being a vegetarian is simple. Plants or animals. Yay or nay. Black or white. There's no negotiation. You like the sizzle of steak or you don't. I like it. The smell of grilling. The worcestershire sauce. A glass of pinot to go along side it. The whole experience is pleasing.

So why not call myself a carnivore and be done with it? Because there's more to it. It fundamentally bothers me that an animal was killed so I can eat. Even if that is the sole purpose of the animal being created, I'm saddened. Truth be told, I feel better eating plants. Lighter. Healthier. More efficient. So I waver. Apparently others do, too. There's now a word to describe people like me -- flexitarian. Which sounds more applicable to yoga than diet.

And a little tip for the single girl. Many dudes don't like vegetarians. So what, you say? And I agree. If one is passionately against the eating of animal and animal product, hell with a guy who doesn't like it. However, know that vegetarian can be construed as high maintenance. Unfortunate, but true. I once dated a guy who's previous girlfriend had been a vegetarian. The first time we ate pizza together - sausage and pepperoni - he was giddy. Apparently men like to share their meat.

(I'm halfway through Omnivore's Dilemma, which is what sparked this entry. Excellent read.)

Training update. Had a lovely 6.5 mile hill run last night. Love this time of year before the humidity sets in. 3,700 in the pool this morning and the countdown is on. Only three more days until the outdoor pool opens and long course begins. Three months of heaven.

As for dating stories, been fairly routine the last few weeks. I'll have to open the vault to find an entertaining tale. Stay tuned for tomorrow, when I regale the "Science Olympiad"debacle...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Welcome to my often entertaining, sometimes pathetic life...

I'm late to the blogging party. Extremely late. As a writer, this is inexcusable. And it's not for lack of material. My single, triathlon-style life is interesting and amusing. (At least to my married friends. Or maybe they're faking it. Hmm.) So here we go.

The name 3athletejen is a bit misleading, as I haven't raced since Ironman Florida 2007. Still swim, bike and run. Just haven't broke the tape in a while. Hoping the competitive urge resurfaces soon. And that I recognize it. It might well be ignored for a cold glass of pinot grigio and the chance to sleep in on a Saturday.

Truth by told, my dating stories are far more entertaining. Names will be changed to protect the innocent. Unless someone really pissed me off. Then social security numbers will be included.