Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A bumpy, lumpy road

First, another race report: the Holyoke St. Patrick's Day 10K. About 6,000 runners, and probably the same number of spectators, many of whom appeared to be drunk (but a happy, enthusiastic drunk, not a mean drunk). This is a very hilly course--you go up and up, then come crashing down. How much up and down? I was keeping about the same HR for the first 3 or 4 miles, and my splits were 7:28 (flat), 8:16 (uphill), 8:07 (uphill), 8:15 (uphill), 6:22 (um, downhill), 7:18 (some down, some up). My splits were almost exactly the same as last year through the first 5 miles, but my last mile (plus 0.2) was significantly faster this year. Not because I'm in better shape, mind you, but because last year mother nature sprung a 70+ degree day on us for the race, and I was a hot, cranky, sweating mess. This year I felt good. At least until the final stretch, where the smell of grilling hamburgers was almost more than I could take. Apparently it really was more than my friend Alicia could take, because she hurled in the finishing chute.

I really have nothing else to report on the racing/training front, and in fact I don't have another race scheduled until May 22.  (No, I'm not doing that May 8 season opener--I sobered up on that one.) I rode my bike outside once, and other than the half mile portage (thanks, Nancy!) over an uncleared section of the bike trail, plus the resulting fun of chipping ice out of our cleats with sticks, it was awesome. This past weekend I had thought about doing the bike portion of my brick outside. I even recruited my super-fast friend Madeline to do it with me, and then the night before she called to highlight the phrases "record cold" and "high winds" from the weather report, so I went to Plan B and set up an extra trainer in our guest room. There Madeline and I enjoyed some not-too-intense intervals while Patrick sat on the bed in his storm trooper costume and explained intricate plot details of several Star Wars movies to us. It really just heightened the whole riding-your-trainer-in-March experience.

After our brick I refueled with a classic recovery meal of chocolate chip pancakes, requested by storm troopers and others.

I drank Recoverite while I made them, so I think that counts.

March is just an awesome all-around experience in Western MA this year. If you look closely here, you can see some brave tulip shoots making an appearance in our front yard.

Suckers. And no, it looks like we didn't do a lot of garden raking before the snows hit.

So why a bumpy, lumpy road? Well, the obvious reference was to the bumpy (i.e. hilly) race. Then I hit another bump, literally, when I managed to drive my car too far forward into a parking space and pretty much rip the front bumper off. Yes, the same car whose trunk was hit in December. Frankly, I was a little shocked to realize how flimsy one's front bumper is. Was. Only it is again, because I paid $150 the next day to have it reinstalled, including the random piece of styrofoam that fell off at the site of the incident. Seriously, I mail packages with more protection than my front bumper seems to provide the speeding missile in which I drive my children.

And then the lumpy finale of the kind every woman loves, which is to say I found a lump where you don't want a lump. It is all good and apparently benign, and while I rationally knew it would probably turn out that way, of course I spent the weekend imagining melodramatic scenarios of my children growing up without me. So I spent most of my "work" day Monday in one or another medical office, and I have this to say about said offices: really, could you not shell out for a couple decent magazine subscriptions? When I am waiting for a mammogram, here's what I don't want to read: health-related "magazines" with articles about new cancer treatments. Here's what I do want to read: People magazine. And for people who can focus in such situations, a nice New Yorker or Atlantic would be great. But me, in that situation, I pretty much want to find out what Miley Cyrus is up to.

The other magazine everyone seems to favor (meaning they must get it free) is Parents. Or maybe it's Parenting. Whichever one always has the cover headline that loosely translates as "Freak tragic accident that probably won't ever happen to your kid but that you can now lie awake worrying about." Because I couldn't bear to read about cancer, instead I got sucked into an article about 7 and 8 year old girls with eating disorders. Which is great, because now that I'm done worrying about which of our single friends would make a good mother for my kids when I'm gone, I can go back to worrying about my daughter falling prey to the same illness that killed my sister in law. And please know that my dark humor here is, as usual, just a cover for real, sometimes paralyzing fear. And that I spent a lot of time thinking about people whose lumps don't turn out to be benign. But for real: People magazine. Or Glamour. Thanks.

To bring this back to the realm of triathlon, though, I would like to report that my athletic narcissism was not completely obliterated by this little reminder of my own potential mortality. (Or more pragmatically, by this little reminder that maybe I should get a physical exam every year like I'm supposed to.) When the mammographer (is that a word?) was showing me my photos--and she was awesome, by the way, as was the ultrasound technician--she said, "Wow, you have a ton of pectoral muscle!" And I was, of course, totally stoked.

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