Wednesday, March 26, 2014

our normal ...


Six days a week, I spend hours devoted to shuttling my kids from one activity to the next. Occasionally, we spend our entire day sitting on a pool deck. Or the soccer field. Or in the audience of a theater. And on the really painful days, we are so busy that I don't get to see any of it. Instead, I drop off one kid, only to get back in my car to pick up another. It's hectic. It's chaotic. It's our normal.

I'm confident that there are people who look at us and think, "That family is crazy. Always jumping from one thing to the next." And I'm sure that's what it looks like. But actually, we are quite focused. Our lives are scheduled and organized and I can say without a doubt that my kids love every second of it.

Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure it would be fabulous to not run around like mad men every afternoon. And I know my wallet would love all the money we would save if we cut out these extracurriculars. But, ultimately, it is our children's choice to do these things (and trust me, we say no to a lot of other things they want to join). They are finding things they can be passionate about. Things that keep them engaged and that bolster their self confidence. Things they really want to do now and things they talk about continuing as they age - a fact that lets me know we are making the right decision for our kids.

I've learned over the years that as much as you may try to escape it, you ultimately end up parenting a lot like you were parented. Patterns repeat themselves. J and I played sports from a young age. We were academic overachievers from day one. We learned the importance of practice, hard work and commitment early on.

Now, all these years later, I see the same things happening with our children. The characteristics of our youth that we fondly look back on are the ones we foster in our girls. We take pride in their competitive drive. We encourage them to push through when things get tough. We preach about commitment in all aspects of your lives, whether it be in athletics, academics or friendship. They are learning life lessons every time they step out onto the field, jump into the pool or perform in front of an audience. And they are learning even more about themselves in all the moments in between - in the moments when no one is watching.

Yes, we live a life that's hectic and chaotic and perhaps, even overscheduled. Sure, life could be simpler and less stressful. And I know there are a thousand other ways to go about raising your family. But, those other ways just aren't what we are about. This life is what we want. It's our normal.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why long distance triathlon and I are on a break ...

Did you ever meet someone with an addictive personality?

Who am I kidding? If you are reading this you probably have an addictive personality. Those who get involved with endurance sports, don't do it for the leisure time. Or the spontaneity. We venture into this mythical world looking for a challenge. We stay because we are addicted to some aspect of the sport. Maybe it's the feeling of pushing yourself further than you did last time. Maybe it's the chase of a new PR. Maybe it's the overwhelming love of self-torture. Over time, your reason may change, but it's all the same - we stay because the thought of leaving (for good at least) is hard to deal with. There is always something pulling you back in.

For a long time, I have been drawn to endurance sports as a way of proving to myself (and if we're being honest, those around me) that no challenge was too great. If that guy over there could do it, so could I. And that's fantastic. It got me moving. It made me train. But eventually, you run out of "next big things". At some point, you have to ask yourself why you do the things you do. And even tougher, you might have to admit that your reasoning isn't valid.

By the end of last season, I realized that my training had lost it's purpose. I was racing "just because I could". I started to dread race day. And I hated how much time my training was taking away from my family. I hated the guilt I felt if I missed a workout. My hobby was having too much of an effect on my life. I needed to back away.

I started by taking an off-season and it made me realize a few things.
  • I really like to lift weights, yet it's always the first thing that gets cut when my training load increases.
  • I don't need a "goal" to get me to train. I love training. I love it a 1000 times more than I even like racing. If I was never to cross another finish line again, I would be fine with that. It wouldn't stop me from swimming, biking and running each week.
  • Speed isn't all that important to me. I used to get hung up on going faster and beating a younger version of myself. Well, guess what? If I run a 1:55 half marathon or a 2:02 half marathon, I still ran a half marathon. Those few minutes don't change me. I'm not a better or worse person because of it. And it's not like I was ever going to win the race anyway.
  • The pool is my favorite place to be. I constantly wish I had more time to get to the pool.
By the time 2014 started, I knew the direction my endurance sports (specifically triathlon) path would take me.

There would be no 140.6. It's a great goal, it's just not mine.

There would be no 70.3. I don't have the time, or honestly the drive, to train for this the way I want to. Life is about balance. And at this point in my life, I don't have the skill set necessary to balance 70.3 training and my commitment to my family.

I'm going to race strategically. Three sprint triathlons, spread over 6 months. One Olympic triathlon as my "A" race. One fall marathon - because as much as marathoning wiped me out in 2011 (3 marathons in 6 months will do that to you - see? Addiction. It's hard to break). I miss training for that distance and I REALLY WANT TO DO IT.

And that's what it comes down to. You have to really want to do something for you to do it well and for you to feel like nothing else was sacrificed. I'm done sacrificing. And for now, long distance triathlon and I are on a break. Maybe one day we'll reunite. Maybe this is the end. Either way, I know it's the right choice for me.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Rev3 Summit - Last Thursday night, I headed up to Manassas (with my Rev3 spouse, Anne) for our annual team summit. Over the course of three days, we learned the ins and outs of our sponsors (loving me some SBR Sports and PowerBar right now), discussed the future of Rev3 (exciting things lay ahead - if you haven't raced Rev3 yet, now's the time) and bonded with our teammates. There was laughter. There were tears. And there were numerous hijinks that need to say locked up in the "what happens at summit" vault forever.

The majority of the 2014 Rev3 Age Group Team ...
All-in-all it was an amazing weekend. At times it can be hard to feel connected to your teammates when you are spread across the country and don't necessarily race with each other at all during the year. But, having this weekend to kick off the season has an amazing ability to unify and inspire us. I always leaving feeling honored to represent such an amazing company with true family values.

Toothless - I remember being little and being so excited when I had a loose tooth. I would mess with it endlessly and pull it out myself. For me, a loose tooth came with a sense of pride, both because it meant I was growing up and because I was brave enough to handle it on my own.

Doodle has had a loose front tooth for months now. Like 9 months. For a while there, it looked like it would be out within the week, but then it just kind of stalled. No matter how much she messed with it, it never fell out. Eventually, her adult tooth grew in behind it and prohibited her baby tooth from moving much at all.

A few weeks ago, I knew exactly where we were headed with this tooth - to the dentist's chair. So, I called the dentist and asked what they thought we should do. They said to give it two weeks more and then if it didn't fall out to call and make an appointment.

Two weeks passed and nothing.

On Tuesday, I finally took her in. After a quick shot of Novocain and a few tears, not only was her loose tooth gone, but so was her other front tooth, as the dentist felt that if it was not pulled, we were going to be back in the same situation a few months from now.

Poor Doodle. She's lost four teeth and all four have been pulled by the dentist for the same reason. Apparently, she's just really attached to her teeth.

My Pretty - In addition to coming home with epic memories of my Rev3 teammates, I also returned with my new bike - a Quintana Roo CD0.1.

It's a serious upgrade from my entry level Fuji and I am so excited to get her out on the road (a very wide road with no traffic). But, that will have to wait, because right now, she's pedal-less. Yes, I realize that I can take the ones off my old bike, but I am keeping that bike on the trainer and kind of need those to stay where they are. But, next month, I'll budget it and have her ready to race at my season opener on April 26th. And for now, I'll just admire her ...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Seven Things ...

Dear Doodle,

I have a hard time remembering my life without you. I can recall my life pre-kids and I distinctly remember becoming a parent. But that 22 months in between? I've got a lot of nothing. Maybe it's because Diz was so little when I was pregnant with you. Or maybe it's because you've been such a handful since day one, that my pre-Doodle life has been pushed aside. Either way, it feels like you've been with us for much longer than your seven years.

Doodle, 3 days old
Over the years we've had our challenges and your seventh year has been no different. We've laughed. We've cried. We've yelled. We've apologized. You challenge me more than any other person I've ever met and some days I'm not sure how we can co-exist. But then, you smile at me and I know we'll find a way.

It would be easy for me to sit here and say that you should conform to the ideals I carry around in my head. And some days, I wish for nothing more. I can imagine a world where we never fight or get angry with each other. But honestly, that isn't fair to you. I would never ask you to squelch who you are just to make my life easier. It's not like I'm going to change who I am just because I am your mother and you shouldn't need to change to be my daughter.

So, today, on your seventh birthday, I want to celebrate the seven things that make you who you are, yet drive me batty at the same time. I want to show them the appreciation they deserve and let you know that even if it doesn't always seem like it, I love these things - because they help make you exactly who you are.

Doodle, age 7
1. Your personal style - I might not want you to wear clashing colors and patterns on picture day, but your style is the ultimate outward display of your personality. It's crazy, adorable, unencumbered, scattered and hectic, yet it somehow always works. No one else could pull it off, but you do. I may not understand it, but I love it.

2. Your smarty pants nature -  I have never met another person who hates being wrong more than you. Everything is happy-go-lucky when you think you are right or you think you know more than everyone else. But the second someone suggests that you may be wrong or that their might be a better way to do something, you can't handle it. You pout. You cry. You storm away. It drives me nuts, but I try to embrace the fact that this will get you far one day. If for no other reason than you want to prove everyone wrong. It will give you the drive to always be improving. And I love that.

3. Your quick temper - If anyone can escalate a situation, it's you. Nine times out of 10, you get in trouble not for what you did, but for how you react when you get caught. I know with age you will learn to absorb and defuse, but I'm sure we have a lot of good fights left before then. Remember that a quick temper just shows that you are passionate. That's something you will never lose. And I love it.

4. Your inability to take a joke - Doodle, you can dish it out with the best of them, but the second the tables are turned, you freak the freak out. It makes me want to tell you to "suck it up," but deep down I know you are just sensitive - a trait that I love.

5. Your messiness - For someone who can be so particular at times, you are incredibly disorganized. If I say, "Everything has it's place", you say, "Everything has a place and I don't care where it is as long as it looks clean." Maybe I'm just high-strung, which would make you totally chill. And I love that about you.

6. Your high-pitched screams - There is no sound I like less than your "angry" scream. It's loud and painful and simply horrible. But is no one I'd rather be stuck with in an emergency situation than you. If nothing else, that scream will get us help and I have to love that.

7. Your tendency to take the easy way out - For a while, I thought your work ethic was defined by laziness. You do just what's required and nothing more. And sometimes, not even that. But then I realized that you're just working smarter, not harder. And who wouldn't love that?

Doodle, you are so much more than the little things that make you who you are and I am blessed to see how you take all those little things and make them into the person you'll become. I love you more than I could ever express and I wish you a very happy seventh birthday.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three Things Thursday ...

Team Rev3 - Later today, I will be picking up my Rev3 Roomie extraordinaire, Anne, from the airport and we will be headed to the Rev3 Team Summit.

Anne and me at last year's summit. God, I loved my hair then ...
Three days of teammates, sponsors, triathlon love and all around crazy antics. Kidding aside, it's the one time each year that the majority of our team will be together. Last year was simply amazing and I expect nothing less this go-round. Plus, I'll be sharing a house with like 14 women with access to lots of wine. If nothing else, it promises to be memorable.

In other exciting Summit news, since we will be at Rev3 Headquarters in Manassas, I will finally get to pick up my new bike - a Quintana Roo CD0.1

Isn't she pretty? Yeah, I know she is.

Allergy update - Immediately after finding out I am allergic to 14 different food, most of which I eat every day, I cut every last trace of those allergens out of my diet. Now seven days later, I am happy to report my rash and itchiness has gone away COMPLETELY. Well, except that time I got peanut butter on my hands while making the girls lunch and broke out in a rash an hour later. But that was just one time, and I don't really count that.

Anyway, I have to call the doctor on Monday and let him know how things are going. When we last spoke, he told me that if my symptoms went away, our course of action would be to have me continue with a modified diet. He thinks I may be able to occasionally tolerate small amounts of some of these allergens, but I don't know that it's a route I want to go. Think about this, if you are allergic to something it causes inflammation in your system. The more you have, the more the inflammation builds up. Inflammation is not good for your body. So why would I knowingly cause inflammation when I can just as easily avoid it? You're right, I probably wouldn't, because that would be stupid.

Planning - I know I am incredibly OCD and what not, but am I the only person who knows what their family's schedule for the 2014-2015 school year is going to look like? I went to four different stores the other day looking for planners that ran from July 2014 - June 2015 (I like my calendar to run based on school year, not calendar year) and I couldn't find a single one. July is only three and a half months away. I mean, I have firm plans for December already, but no where to write them. I find this completely frustrating. And now that I write this, I am 100% sure that I sound like a complete freak ...

Friday, March 7, 2014

allergy testing ...

For about a month now, I have be itchy. Like "wake up in the middle of the night to scratch" itchy. It hasn't been pleasant. After about two weeks, I decided to go see an allergist. I knew I hadn't changed any of my body care products or detergents, so I suspected that this itchy rash was caused my something I was ingesting. (Note: even after the testing, we're still not sure that's the case).

Bright and early this morning, I finally had my appointment. The allergist's office said to be prepared for a four to six hour appointment (it only took three), so that's what I did. Snacks and drinks were packed. Books were brought. My cell phone charger was ready.

Upon arrival, I filled out your standard paper work and was quickly brought back to have my vitals checked. Then, I sat down with the doctor to discuss what's been going on, my medical history and a million other things as we tried to pinpoint whether or not skin testing was needed.

With all his questions answered and a quick physical out of the way, it was decided that an environmental or food allergen was likely contributing to my itchiness. And that's where the fun began.

Moments later, my back was being pricked with 61 different allergens. 15 minutes later, it was clear that I had an allergy to almonds, mustard, sesame seeds and lima beans, as well as a slight reaction to peanuts and soybeans.

Following the first round of tests, my nurse walked in with this tray...

Yeah, that's another 61 vials of allergens. But even better than last time, these ones were to be injected under my skin and then I would be left to bake for another 15 minutes.

Fun times for all!

Rather quickly this time, I could tell I was having reactions to the injections. It took all my power not to scratch. When time was up, there were 11 new allergies to add to my list. And most of them were things I eat EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

So, here's where I stand. For the next 10 days, I am on a strict elimination diet of the following foods.
(ranked on severity of my allergy):
  • Almonds
  • Mustard
  • Sesame Seed
  • Lima Beans
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Hops (fortunately I hate beer)
  • Hazelnut
  • Walnut
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Cottonseed
  • Cantaloupe
  • Peach
So basically, if it's a tree nut or a legume, my body hates it.

After the 10 days, we hope my itchiness and rash are gone. If so, I will simply modify my diet. Avoiding (but not necessarily eliminating completely) these foods. If it doesn't work, who knows? I'll probably end up at yet another type of doctor. For now, I am at least happy to have more information to work with.

Have you ever had allergy testing done? How did you incorporate the results into your life?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February Rewind ...

Miles Run:  97.43 miles. Kind of wish I had checked on Friday. I would have totally run another 2.6 miles ...

Bike Miles Rode: 126.7 miles. My bike trainer and I are so totally BFFs ...

Swim Meters Completed: 16050 meters or 9.97 miles

Rest Days Taken: 4
Highest Run Mileage Week: 2/17-2/23: 28.25 miles
Highest Bike Mileage Week: 2/24-2/28: 52.4 miles
Highest Swim Volume Week: 2/10-2/16: 4600 meters or 2.86 miles
Long Runs Completed (1 hr+ miles): 5
Current Book: Right now, I am reading Lemonade Mouth by Hughes. But, I finished a few other books in February. (Note: For those of you who have asked, if it's on this or any of my lists, I would recommend the book. If I don't like the story or the book doesn't grasp my attention, I don't bother finishing it, thus it wouldn't be listed here.) 
  • United We Spy by Carter
  • Faking 19 by Noel
  • Out of Sight, Out of Time by Carter
  • Only the Good Spy Young by Carter
  • Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Carter
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty by Han
  • It's Not Summer Without You by Han
  • Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Carter
  • Awaken by Cabot
  • The Cuckoo's Calling by Galbraith
  • The 5th Wave by Yancey
  • Allegiance by Kluver
  • Legacy by Kluver
  • Fragments by Wells
Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Nutella. A buy one, get one coupon and a spoon have been the death of me.

Current Colors: Orange and Pink.

Current Drink: Hot tea with cream and stevia. All day, every day.

Current Song: Be Okay - Oh Honey
Current Triumph: I've totally purged my kids rooms of all the excess stuff. With no tears. It was awesome.
Current Goal: Be a better me. Each and every day. And crush 2014 goals ...
Current Blessing: Health, happiness and love. I've got all three.
Current Excitement: Rev3 Team Summit is just 9 days from now! I can't wait to see all my teammates. Oh, and last night, J and I booked a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary (sans kids). It's kind of a big deal.
  • Get back to running 30-40 miles per week. For most of 2012 and 2013, I focused on 70.3 training. The only way for me to improve my cycling and swimming was to spend less time running. Eventually, my strongest discipline became my weakest and honestly, I am kind of over it. This year I won't race longer than an Olympic distance triathlon. Hopefully, this will allow me to balance my training loads and life a little better than in the past. - Getting there. I peaked at 28.25 miles last month.
  • Strength train two times per week. In the past, I have dropped strength training as my training volume went up. I'm not letting that happen in 2014. - Crushing it! Haven't missed a day.
  • Run 1,400 miles. A huge jump from 2013, but far less than what I used to run. - As of March 1st, 171.09 miles logged.
  • Bike 1,400 miles A huge drop from 2013, but if I am going to find time for those run miles something will have to give. - As of March 1st, 239.7 miles logged.
  • Swim 140 miles. Pretty much where I finished up in 2013. This will probably be the most challenging mileage to hit. - As of March 1st, 30,850m or 19.17 miles logged.
  • Race a 10K with a finish time much faster than your very dated current PR of 53:17. I never managed to register for a 10K in 2012 and I'm not sure where it will fit in this year, but it's on my radar. As it has been since 2009. - I'm registered! That's further than I've ever gotten on this goal.
  • Run a negative split marathon. I'm not looking for a PR. Just a well executed race.
  • Run a 5K with Dizzle and Doodle. I'm thinking a Rev3 Glow Run for this one.

  • Only say yes to the projects I REALLY want to work on. An honest no is much better than a halfhearted yes.
  • Stick to our budget. We were at about 90% with this last year, but I have a good feeling about 2014. - So far so good.
  • Take a picture a day for a year. - 62 days in and going strong. You can see all my #project365 pictures on my Instagram account HERE
  • Read 150 books. - As of March 3rd, 32 books read.
  • Go the entire year without cutting my hair (unless I start to get a mullet, at which point a trim is required). - Haven't cut it yet!
  • Relearn Spanish. Just letting that Rosetta Stone course sit on the shelf isn't helping anyone. - The course is still sitting on the shelf.
  • Blog at least two times per week. 2013 left me uninspired and stressed when it came to blogging. I'm hoping a new perspective will change this. - Made this happen thus far!
  • Have a date night with J, once a month. Considering that we only manage about two dates per year at this point, I'd be super impressed if we pulled this off half of the time. - Two month down and still on track!
  • Continue to balance family life, training and now, work.
  • Prioritize and be a good example for the people in your life.
  • Help and support J and the kids in reaching their goals. We are a team and that must always be the primary focus of our lives. No one should have to sacrifice so that someone else can reach their goal. If a balance can't be found, it's not worth pursuing.