Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm Not Tri'ing (duh)...

I love the sport, but after my last attempt at Ironman (Canada in '07), I lost ALLLL motivation, fire, and drive. Of course, it might have something to do with my latest job (working for a major aerospace manufacturer) and the shift I'm on (I start work at 2PM). Almost all my energy goes into my job. What's left is devoted to my spouse, home, dogs,and other interests.

Hmmmm...I put up hummingbird feeders and took a video this morning. I need a way to view it with others when I'm not at home. I need to see if I can upload it. Never having done it before, it could be interesting. Not sure what type of hummingbird this is, either, except that I suspect it is female (because of the lack of coloring).

Here goes...

Assuming that works, enjoy!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Training Ride

Okay, so two weeks from today, I'm supposed to do the Seattle to Portland (STP) bicycle ride in one day. That's 200 miles of riding in one sitting (more or less). I'm not sure I'm ready for that.

I did an 80 mile ride today and my quads were killing me. I was trying to figure out why. Maybe my nutrition wasn't spot on? Possible. Then I looked at the bike profile as uploaded to my TrainingPeakstraining log. They have a beta viewer they are trying out and it's actually pretty cool. Anyway, this is what my ride profile looked like (the red line is my HR, the green is the elevation). It would seem I did a fair amount of climbing!

After the ride, I showered, went to the grocery store for dinner, cooked it, and blogged. Now I'm ready to hit the hay. I think the sun made me tired...or maybe it was just all the fresh air (which is so rural that the air was permeated with the smell of fresh manure!).

What's An Ironman Swim Look Like?

Yeah, yeah, it's been a while. I've been busy. The new puppy has kept us busy, but then I got laid off, had to find new employment and still try to keep up with my training for Ironman Canada 2007.

In the meantime, I like volunteering at Ironman Coeur d'Alene, usually because I know so many people doing it. This year, instead of having the heat of the past few years, we had wind. It made the swim portion challenging at best and, and worst, potentially dangerous. In fact, it was so bad, that the race officials offered up the option of doing a duathlon.

Anyway, I managed to snap a photo, from afar (if you are familiar with the venue, I was sitting on the steps near the Gatorade bottle) of the 2007 Ironman Coeur d'Alene swim start.


New Puppy Pics

Just because I've had people bugging me for them. :-)

Here's one that shows how much bigger than the cat she has gotten.

I caught this pose of her chillin' out on the steps leading upstairs.

Oh, and her name is Smudge (or Smudgers), for the smudge of white on her nose:


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Our Little Angel Is Here

And she is beyond being cute. She is so soft and so little, but thinks she's a *BIG* dog. Our cat, named Puppy, of all things (different story), isn't terribly impressed. And in true puppy fashion, our little Angel (which is what we are thinking we will name her), is busy chewing on whatever she can, sleeping, or peeing and pooping where ever she pleases. Oh, yeah. I'm looking foward to squishy toe stuff in the mornings (NOT!).

Since I can't resist, here are a couple more shots of our newest little darling and her proud surrogate papa.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Good-bye Empty Nest!

Well, that level of freedom lasted all of a month. Pat just couldn't stand it anymore. The house was simply too quiet for his tastes. So, we will soon be getting THIS little doll. Isn't she just tooooo cute? We pick her up tomorrow and we can hardly wait.

And don't you just want to smooch on that face (yes, the one looking at the camera? Well, okay, maybe YOU don't want to, but I can assure you, she is irresistable to us.

She doesn't have a name yet, but she is a fawn boxer, born on 10/24, and currently weighs in at a whopping 6 pounds. She is not expected to get any bigger than 45-50 pounds which, by boxer standards, is relatively small, even for a female. We didn't care. We loved her as soon as we saw her picture (found her through a newspaper ad, but she lives 2 hours away). I don't mind saying we feel just like expectant parents.

This means the search for a motorhome is on once again.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fall Flood 2006

Here are some of the photos I took during the recent flood. Of course, there is a story to go along with the photos, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, so maybe you can figure it out. Let me just say, it was a sleepless night as we watched the river rise.

Here is a picture of my neighbor's picnic shelter when the river is running high, but not cresting the banks (taken in 2005).

This is the same picnic shelter as the water began to overflow its banks.

Before completely evacuating, the neighbor's son (?) took time to do a little "fishing." Just by dipping his net into the murky water, he managed to snag two salmon!

To add a little perspective, before it started to rain, this is what the river looked like (take from a bridge just a mile from my home and looking south).

Compare and contrast that with this picture, taken from almost the same viewpoint. The difference between the two is only 5 days and a whole lot of rain! Even at that, the river had not yet jumped its banks.

When it finally did, THIS is what it looked like.

Now, same bridge, same sequence, but looking north instead.

Note the depth from the top of the levee to the river in this picture is about 10-12 feet.

A few days later, the distance between the top of the levee and the river had been reduced to no more than a couple feet.

Sometime during the late evening hours, the levee had been breeched and began to flood the fields.

This is what it looked like the next day.

Meanwhile, back at my house, the water continued to rise all night. When morning finally dawned, this is what the back part of my property looked like. The picnic shelter is in back of that blue house in the distance. (Dang, this pic isn't cooperating. I'll put up a different one.)

This is half of the picture above and shows part of my property and my next door neighbor's flooded barn.

Taking a walk that day and this is some of what we saw.

Clearly, this is now the road to nowhere and mail delivery is NOT going to happen.

Just a few inches are what kept this house from being completely flooded.

This house is next door to the log cabin, but sits ever so slightly lower in elevation. The end result is evident.

I believe this mobile home park made national news. It is only a mile from my home.

Back in my yard...

Here is a photo taken somewhat from ground level and looking towards where the river should be. Note all the debris in the water.

What a difference just a few hours can make. Same view, but taken after the rain had stopped. The waters have obviously begun to recede. Again, note all the debris; that's someone's siding in my yard.

And in the midst of all the chaos is beauty, found in a sunset reflection.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Good-bye Precious, Hello Empty Nest

Well, I've finally figured out why I never got the "empty-nest" syndrome when my kids moved out. I always had a house full of pets! When the kids left (well, they left, came back, left again, and with 5 of them, that's a lot of coming and going), I still had 4 cats, a dog, and a bird to take care of. My house was never really empty.

Shortly before moving into this house, though, we gave the bird (a Nanday Conure named Echo, who would always start squawking when you got on the phone) to someone better able to take care of him. Then, I lost my first cat (a gray long-hair domestic named Spanky) shortly after I moved into this house six years ago. He either ran away or was caught by a coyote (we didn't find him in the streets or anything).

This year has been one of the toughest, though. I lost PuddyRat, my most favorite and cherished cat, earlier in the year (followed on the heels of my mother's death). I'd had him for close to 15 years and he was most definitely MY cat.

Then, a few weeks ago, we made the decision to let our very vocal tuxedo cat go after a bite he got became infected. He was a good cat, but not terribly cuddly, so no one was really close to him. Still, it was another in a long line of recent losses.

Yesterday, however, we had to make the decision to let our dog, Precious, go. Precious was our Boxer Baby, and about as sweet a dog as one could ask for. She was always good around my grandchildren from the time they were infants, through toddler stage, to young children. She was a wonderful guard dog, always letting us know when someone was approaching the house or at the door. She was even more alert, barking constantly, when either of us was in the house alone and taking a shower, or if we were both home, but otherwise, um, engaged.

When she was still well, she used to like to zip around the yard as fast as she could. We'd stand in the center and clap our hands and she'd run around in circles around us. She had floppy ears and when she wanted to play, she'd get down on her "elbows" with her butt up in the air and that little docked tail wig-wig-wigging back and forth. She couldn't wag her tail as there simply wasn't enough there, so we called it wigging.

This month, Precious would have turned 10, which is moderately old for a Boxer, but not so old for a dog. As she got older, she became only a little less rambunctious. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. While she was no longer consumed with puppy-itis (that lasted about four years), she was still able to chase the squirelly squirrels and dig holes with exuberence.

However, while we realized she was getting on (she could no longer travel long distances in the car), we didn't realize how bad until we took her with us to a race. Pat was running a half marathon and I was standing on the sidelines. We parked our car and walked to the race start. It was only then that we realized she'd been dragging one of her back paws as the "knuckle" was raw and bleeding. This was the beginning of what I consider to be a fairly rapid decline in our dog's health. I mean, we knew she was getting worse, but I don't think either of us realized (much less admitted), just how bad she was.

In the last few weeks, she's gotten to the point where the nerve damage in her back was so bad that she was walking on her knuckles without even realizing it. She walked sideways because she had no control in where her back legs were going. We had throw rugs spread out in all the areas of the house with bare floor because she couldn't get any traction and her legs would splay out behind her. When her back legs weren't going opposite directions, she would trip over them and fall down. We would carry her up and down the stairs, but carrying 60 pounds of solid dog up and down stairs was a little much for even our aging backs. We got to the point where we would help her up the stairs by wrapping our arms around her middle (she didn't like the strap we had), and crawling up on all fours ourselves.

It was excruciating to watch her decline, but she was Pat's dog and I had to let him make the decision to put her out of her misery. My heart ached whenever I'd watch her walk or get up or down out of a chair. When it became evident that her front legs were also starting to exhibit some of the same symptoms, he finally decided it was time to say good-bye.

So, Saturday morning, she got to eat a whole steak all by herself. Pat cooked it for her. I lay on the floor with her for an hour just holding and cuddling her, and kissing her soft ears. Just before we left for the vet, I let her lick a large spoon with peanutbutter on it as I ate my toast. She sure did like peanutbutter!

When we arrived at the vet's, they took her weight, then took her into the lab (without us) to insert the catheter. Meanwhile, we were escorted into a small waiting room. The room comes complete with a stuffed couch and chair. Mats are placed on the floor along with blankets. I lay on the floor with her once again and held her. She was very excited as she was unclear about what was going on. She couldn't understand what we were so upset about and who was this man holding something in his palm. As we said our good-byes, the vet surreptitiously inserted the needle into the catheter. Seconds later, she was gone.

Pat and I both sobbed. Precious had been such a large part of our lives for the last 10 years. She was one of our surrogate children and one of the most favored. We didn't do anything without considering the ramifications to the her. We hesitated to go anywhere unless someone we trusted was able to watch her. Pat stayed home with her this last August while I did Ironman Canada because she was doing so poorly. I don't regret that decision. After a short time with her now lifeless, but still warm body, we left. We opted for a private cremation, so now we wait for their call saying her ashes are ready to be picked up.

When we came home, I immediately started clearing her things out. It was something I felt like I needed to do while I was still slightly numb. I also did it in the hopes it would help my husband, so he wouldn't have to deal with it. He is more devastated by her departure than even I. In the same way that PuddyRat was MY cat, Precious was HIS dog. We refered to her as "Daddy's Girl." She was his buddy, his pal, his best friend. She was always there for hime, always glad to see him, she never complained (even when she wasn't feeling well), and she never criticized.

I emptied her food bowl and cleaned it, then gave it and the left over bag to my step-son for his dog. I picked up some of the extra throw rugs and threw them into the laundry room for washing later (some I threw out). I collected her medicines and treats and removed them from the cupboard. As she became increasingly crippled, Pat had built stairs for her so she could still climb up onto our bed (yes, she ocassionally slept with us). I moved those out of the way. I picked up her basket and moved it outside.

Now I wonder if I was mistaken to do all that so quickly. Suddenly, my house feels so damned empty. I only have one cat now (called "Puppy" of all things, but that is a different story). I guess I've finally come face to face with that "empty nest" syndrome I've heard people talk about, but never really understood. I didn't understand because my house, my home was never really empty. I always had stuff going on. If one child wasn't living with me, another one was. When I finally didn't have any children living with me, I had parents living with or near me.

Always, I had a house FULL of activity. Now, I have next to nothing and I don't quite know what to do about it. We've chosen, for the time being, not to get another dog. While we are devastated by the loss of our pets, there is also a certain sense of freedom and relief that comes with it (along with a small dose of guilt for feeling free and relieved). Now if we want to take off to Vegas or Phoenix or San Diego or Mexico for a weekend, the only thing holding us back is money and time off from work. We don't need to worry about who will watch over all the animals. After all, cat's are pretty self-sufficient for about a week so long as they have food, water, and a litter box, so that is not a worry.

I suppose once Monday comes around and we get back into our regular routine of going to work and the general vagaries of life, we will feel the losses a little less acutely. For now, though, the pain is sharp and I suspect we will have at least a dull ache for some time to come. The fact that it's winter and the weather is quite dull, gray, wet, and dreary probably doesn't help us much, either. Stupid to blame the weather, but I can't help but think if we had sunshine it might somehow be easier. Then, again, maybe not. I don't and won't really know, now will I. What I do know is that it hurts and the silence is overwhelming.

And wow...if you read all that depressing drivel, I'm impressed. I wrote all this down for me and no one else. I've been so negligent about my blog, I find it unlikely anyone still pays any attention to it. I guess I really should finish my race report. At the very least, my coach will be expecting it.

Anyway, I expect I'll be back to my usual cheerful and chipper self soon enough. Rock on.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

IMC 2006 -- The Swim

The alarm went off around 4:00, not that I needed an alarm. I had slept fitfully most of the night. First off, I was afraid I’d miss the alarm and second, it wasn’t my bed. Nerves weren’t as big an issue this year as they were last year. Last year, I couldn’t eat for several days prior to the event and I darn sure didn’t sleep. This year, eating and sleeping weren’t really a problem.

After making some coffee and eating some toast, I realized I’d forgotten my Boost Plus at home. That was something I was going to ingest 30 minutes or so before race start. I would be starting the race out at a calorie deficit. That wasn’t good, but there was nothing I could do about it now.

I quickly ate my breakfast and got dressed, putting my special needs bags into a backpack. I remember all too well what it was like trying to carry the special needs bags by their skinny little plastic handles. They stretch out by the weight of their contents and those skinny little handles bite into your fingers causing pain before they cause numbness. I didn’t want whoever was going to transport my bags this year to experience that.

Feeling ready, I headed out the door. I reminded myself to take it easy getting to the race start. I wasn’t racing yet, I wasn’t late, so I didn’t need to hurry the mile or so to the race site.

Almost on automatic, I dropped off my special needs, got body marked and headed to the transition area. I checked my bike tires and they seemed to be fully inflated. I added my water bottles to my bike and filled my front aerobar water system. Before I realized it, the time had come to put on my wetsuit and head for the start.

On my way, I ran into Kelly Heizenger, an incredibly gifted over-40 athlete, who I am really glad will never catch up to my age group. Finally, after the Canadian national anthem was sung (the refrains of which I would hear in my head THE REST OF THE DAY – and I’m not Canadian!), we moved en masse to the swim start.

As I headed out to the beach, I saw Darcy on the sidelines. She waved excitedly and I smiled back, but in my haste to get in the water, I didn’t stop. I regret that now as she could have taken a picture that may have been only slightly more flattering than the one she did get of my swim exit (I’m astonished she was able to do that much).

I entered the lake and prepared to flood my wetsuit with the cool morning water. This first part is always one of the hardest for me. As soon as I get over the shock of the chill, I’m usually okay, but if I don’t do this first, I’m prone to panic in the first part of the swim. After a few strokes, I felt relatively comfortable and I continued to marvel at how calm I felt. Gone were the butterflies that plagued me last year. While some niggling doubt remained regarding my ability to finish the bike, I was feeling mostly confident.

Back on the beach waiting for the cannon to go off, I saw Seujan. We hugged and chatted briefly, then moved off to find our respective positions in the water. Seujan is a bit of a fish, so she moved closer to the front. I’m not as confident as that, but more confident than I’ve been in years prior, so while I didn’t move to the front of the line, I did manage to position myself somewhat in the middle of the pack. No longer did I feel the need to position myself way off to the side and in the back. I only hoped I wouldn’t get clobbered by anyone as a result of my decision.

Before I knew it, the cannon sounded and everyone surged forwards. It was hard to want to swim right away for three reasons. First, I hadn’t yet reached the official start line (a row of flags hung up over the water, second, I was still only knee deep in water, and last, because no one else started swimming until the water got a little deeper.

As I began swimming, I did my best to find the path of least resistance. That meant I did what I could to not run into other athletes. I don’t know anything about drafting and have yet to practice that particular art form. I wasn’t going to start it now.

One of the first things I noticed, though, was how loose my timing chip strap seemed to feel. Mind you, I have opted for one of those extremely comfortable neoprene straps. If you've never used one, I highly recommend you get one. They are so comfortable you don't even realize it's there, they don’t cut into your ankle like those damned plastic straps can, and they are just nicer looking than the plain velcro straps.

Anyway, during the swim, I was absolutely convinced the damn thing was going to come off and find it’s way to the bottom of the lake, then I’d be on the hook to cough up the dollars for its replacement. As such, I found myself doing very little kicking. Instead, I tried to pretend I had a pull buoy between my knees and I'd lift my hips in an effort to take advantage of the natural buoyancy of the wetsuit.

I managed to stay relatively contact free during the swim except a few times. This can be extemely difficult to do. Ironman Canada is a mass swim start (as are most Ironmans) and not the more civilized wave start of smaller (and usually shorter) triathlons. There was one time, though, when someone was touching my feet so repeatedly that I resorted to kicking very quickly and strongly just to lose them. Geez, but that was annoying. To be honest, though, I was worried that my chip strap was loose and I was afraid they would inadvertantly grab it and I would end up S.O.L.!

I remember NOT looking at my watch. I didn't want to be distracted by how much time had passed, how far I had gone, how much further I had to go, how fast I might or might not be, so through supreme effort on my part, I refrained from looking until I climbed out of the water. When I did, I was both surprised and thrilled. It read 1:33 and change. OMG! When did I get that fast? Of course, the official time was 1:34:44, but that was definitely faster than the 1:42 I did last year. Wooohooo!

I did make one mistake during my swim and that was at the swim exit. I learned early on to swim until my hands touched the bottom. I didn't do that this year and I should have. Since I didn't, I ended up losing some time just because I was fighting water that was hip deep when it should have been no deeper than my knees.

Well, lesson learned, and I headed in to T1...