Thursday, August 30, 2012

Powered by imagination

Today's 20-mile ride was, as always, and adventure.


To start, for a mere split second or two, this girl found a few fast twitch fibers and snagged some Major Air jumping over the train tracks at the bottom of a 40mph descent! High enough that my heart skipped a beat when the tires did a little fishtailin' in mid-air, but it sure was fun! :)

(Disclaimer: I'm sure anyone watching would say I was a mere inch off the ground but, to me, it felt huge!)

My pace, however, was not as stellar as it should have been. Apparently, my mind was preoccupied with writing stories in my head, lost to my imagination and the fictional world I'm creating in my writing projects at home, instead of focusing on my workout. Probably not the safest way to travel, but is sure does make the miles fly by.

Overall, a great ride; excessively abundant, ripe and offensive eau de fertilizer, and surprising bit of loose gravel and bumpity bump on one of my main drags, not withstanding.

Be safe, train smart, stay fit & have fun!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Calorie Counting

After my 2500 swim left me nauseous, cold and depleted, I began to suspect that I'd fallen short on calories today--not on purpose, but I paid the price tonight and my workout suffered a bit too.

Out of curiosity, I went back and added up approximately how many calories I consumed today--every last morsel I put into my mouth--versus how many calories I burned. Here's the result:

Slice of whole grain toast with almond butter (210)

Protein shake (140)
Nuts (150)
Oatmeal (500)

Mid-day snack:
Medium Peach (60)
Cup of Chai (100)

Medium Salad with 1 T olive oil (300)
Dried Fruit (100)
Dark chocolate covered almonds (220)

Post-swim/Pre dinner: 
Nuts (150)

Added together, that's about 1930 calories. Not bad at all if all I did today was exist: the recommended number of calories for a woman of my age and weight is about 2000 daily.

However, I did more than just breathe and walk from point A to B: I went for a 25 mile bike ride (calories burned: about 1460) and a 2500 meter swim (calories burned: about 1000) for a total of 2460 extra calories burned. 

If I were to replace the calories burned, so that my input would be equal to my output, then I probably should have consumed 4460 calories today--so I'm about 2530 calories short! No wonder I felt like el crap-o after my swim.

Now, I'm busily (and happily) trying to make up for lost calories with a serving of a pasta casserole for dinner, and a side of tortilla chips with melted cheese (one of my favorite indulgences). Next up: ice cream for dessert (of course).

I'm feeling better already! :)

North East Triathlon

North East, MD
North East Community Park
Sunday, August 12, 2012

Race report--finally! Sorry for the delay, but I had a little skateboarding punk to deal with first! So, here goes . . .

Race Morning:

3:40 AM: (No, that is not a typo): Alarm is going off and, well, race day eve is never known for being very restful. This is probably the earliest I've ever gotten up for a race!

4:20 AM: We were out the door and heading north on I-95 toward the town of North East, MD, which is approximately 90 minutes from my house (with no traffic, of course. Of which there was really none on a Sunday morning before dawn.) Thankfully, there were no construction delays either, so we cruised along, sipping joe and jammin' to tunes, desperately trying to Wake. Up!!

5:50 AM: Arrived at the race venue. Well, near the race venue, is more accurate. Parking was a pretty healthy walk from the North East Community Park. Lugging bikes and gear bags to the transition area was a great way to get the heart pumping and the joe circulating.

6:00 AM: Completed packet pick up, chip pick up and body marking in record time--one of the benefits of a smaller race: 163 competitors in the Olympic distance and 200 in the sprint distance. With plenty of time to spare, setting up transition was peaceful and relaxing. There was even enough time to chat with fellow athletes, take a few pics, and visit the pots (they had port-o's and real ones!).

Sometimes it is fun to listen to other athletes' pre-race chatter, especially those who have done the race before, know the course and can possibly provide tips/insight. Other times, it's best to avoid those who are a nervous wreck or generally spewing negative energy. Of course, there will always be one who racks their bike wrong and messes up the whole bike racking feng shui, and the chatterbox who has had waaaay too much coffee! 

My chit-chatty neighbor wondered aloud why women always swim in the last wave and then answered her own question with "it's so the guys don't come up on their bikes and run us down." Speak for yourself, lady! Those guys have to catch me first :) Some women are nervous about racing with the guys; I'm not one of them. In fact, I quite enjoy passing (and beating) many of them! :) Chatty Cathy also had lengthy stories of saddle woes and her quest to find a "comfortable" seat. Why bust her bubble by letting her know there is no such thing

7:00 AM: We were booted from the transition area and had 20 minutes before the national anthem, so my husband and I used the time to walk the venue and scout the swim course and exit area. I found a grassy spot to throw in a few sun sals, squats, lunges and push ups for good measure. The sprint racers went first so we were pretty much chillin' 'til our approximate 8:00 and 8:10 start times. 

The Swim

The water was warm. Really warm--I'm talking 80s--so wetsuits were prohibited. The water, while calm and at slack tide, was murky, as it always is in the Chesapeake Bay. I have mastered my open water swim game and no longer suffer from panic attacks and so, with confidence, started near the front of the pack, ready to focus on my own swim and not on the swimmers around me. As it usually shakes out, I end up somewhere near the front 1/3 of the group and typically pass some other colored caps along the way. The swim was pleasant & uneventful. I placed 64th out of 163 in the 1500 meter swim. Pretty typical for me. 


Pretty long run from swim exit to T1, which counts as part of the swim time, but otherwise uneventful. I managed to find my bike on the first try and went out the correct exit too! Victory!!

The Bike

If there is a moment for me to shine, this is usually it. The bike leg is always my favorite, and my one and only opportunity to pass lots of people--men who started in the waves before me and women who swam faster than me. I loved this bike course--rolling hills, mix of shade and sun, beautiful scenery, nice road conditions--and I gunned it for as long as I could, riding near 21 mph for most of the course, until my legs hit a point of total fatigue during the last 5 miles, the hills taking their toll, and I dropped to approximately 18.6. That's okay though; coming into this race, I was more unprepared and under-trained than usual. I finished 63rd out of 163 on the bike. 


Having only to drop my helmet and switch my shoes, I managed in and out of this one pretty quickly--32nd out of 163 competitors. Nice! 

The Run

Oh, the dreaded run. This is where I lose my sparkle. Any shine or verve I had on the bike disappears and I am about as shiny as a rusty, old penny. To my credit, I ran the first 1.5-miles pretty fast on my tired legs and looked longingly at the turnaround point for the 5K-ers, while staring ahead in dismay at the first of two big (and unexpected) hills. I did not like the run. (Big surprise). It was hillier than anticipated, in full sun, and on the shoulder of a busy road--no vista to speak. Mile 1.5 to mile 4 was a trudge and my average pace slipped 20 seconds per mile. Somehow, I found a tiny second wind for the final 2-mile stretched and recouped about 5 of those seconds to finish (sort of) strong. Not surprisingly, I came in 81st out of 163 in the run. The run has always been, and still is, my Achilles heel. The top 5 women all averaged between 7 - 8.5 min miles. 8-8.5 is something I can do for 5K distances, but not more. (One of the top 5 women, I might add, was 58 years old and she finished 10 minutes ahead of me. She rocks!! I hope I can be like her when I grow up!) 


Though my overall performance, with all the youngsters and the men thrown in, was pretty average, my standings against the women fared better:

Division Place: 1st of 7 (and with the next closest competitor 7 minutes behind!) 
Overall Women: 14th of 60. 

So, in all, a pretty fine day, especially for a race I went into feeling unprepared. That said, I'd put no pressure on myself and really just enjoyed the experience. I would do this race again. 


The food was pretty good; much of the usual--bagels (but only with cream cheese; I prefer PB), orange slices, bananas, fruit snacks, Nature Valley Granola bars, chips and an assortment of sandwiches. I felt yucky enough immediately post-race that food didn't appeal to me but, knowing how important it is to refuel quickly, I retrieved the bottle of Recoverite I'd brought from home and choked it down. Eventually, I grabbed a banana and a bag of chips but only managed to eat half of each. Though it was lunch time when we were leaving the venue, and I'd been hoping to check out one of the cute little restaurants, cafes or pubs in North East, my stomach just wasn't ready for it, and neither was my husband's (he finished 3rd in his division and 21st overall) so we pointed the car south and headed for home.

Ninety minute later, we were on the outdoor patio of a favorite local haunt, enjoying lunch and some of the best-tasting beers ever! 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Confronting the skate rat

If you read my post last week you will know that, while running, a kid on a skateboard followed me and engaged in extremely lewd and unacceptable behavior. (Read the post "Harassed" Here.)

A neighbor helped me identify the boy and, armed with this information, I went home to consider my options. Call the cops? Call the school? Call his parents? I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I knew the behavior could not be ignored.

Did I want to bring the cops down on a neighbor, a kid? No. Should I have? Maybe. I also had some interest in addressing the issue somewhat anonymously. Who knows what else the boy is capable of--A brick through my window? A baseball bat to my mailbox?

So, here's what I decided to do and what happened next . . .

Click to show "Telephone" result 30

I called his parents. After several unsuccessful attempts to reach them by phone in the morning or in the evening, my husband and I ended up on their doorstep. The boy's mother, a petite, friendly woman, answered the door.

The first order of business was to confirm that we had the right house--that this woman did indeed have a teenage son that liked to ride a skateboard, who had in fact been out riding that very morning.

An array of emotions played across her face--from concern (when two strangers appear on your doorstep asking if you have a son) to confusion, to dismay (when my husband began to explain, a bit heatedly, why we were there.)

"My wife had a very disturbing experience with your son today."

"What do you mean? What happened?"

"Your son followed her and behaved completely inappropriately."

"What do you mean inappropriate? What did he do?"

At this point, I jumped in, somehow finding the words to accurately describe, in detail, what happened.

"Are you sure it was my son?" she asked, shocked. "I've never heard anything like this." (To which I had my doubts; the neighbor who identified the boy said he'd been known as a troublemaker when he was younger, but seemed to have gotten better as he'd gotten older. I was about to shatter that myth to pieces).

Broken_glass : broken glass on a black background Stock Photo

"Is your son here?" I asked.

"No, but I can call him." And so she did. Turns out, he was in the neighborhood, just down the street, on his bike, hanging out with some friends.

As he approached the house, the mom asked, "Is this him?"

"Oh yeah. That's him." He looked even smaller without the extra inches the skateboard had given him. I would love to have known what was going through his head when he saw me standing there . . . at his house . . . talking to his mother.

"Did you follow this lady today?" The mother asked. Moment of truth: Would he lie? Would he try to deny it?

"Yes," he finally said.


"I don't know."

"What were you doing?"

"Weird stuff."

"What kind of weird stuff?"

"Stupid things."

All the while, the kid is furiously plucking at the bushes in front of his house.

Click to show "Shrubs" result 28

"Do you know how serious this is? They are here talking to us but they could have gone to the police."

"I know, Mom."

"They could have called the police!"

"Mom, I know!" I didn't care for the slightly defiant edge to his voice. I hoped it was due to utter embarrassment then another display of disrespect.

"You can't do that. You can't do that to a woman, or a girl, or even a boy."

"Mom, that's sick." (Look who's talking!)

"You owe this lady an apology."

To me: "I'm sorry." This was my cue. He'd had his say, now it was my turn. Here are the main points I addressed to the little punk:

1) It was not cool, it was entirely unacceptable, I was not impressed, and I don't know what the hell you were thinking.

2) I should not have to deal with that kind of behavior. I should be able to go out for a run and not have to worry about some jerk acting the way you did. It's called harassment and I absolutely could have called the cops.

3) You are 16. You will be an adult in two years. Do you want something like this on your record? Do you want to have to register as some sort of offender for the rest of your life?

4) You need to think about what kind of man you want to grow up to be.

"I'm really sorry, m'am." I was not impressed by the apology or the "m'am." Nor was I entirely convinced of his sincerity. It was hard to tell if he was mortified beyond belief (one can only hope) or was just saying the words he knew he had to say to make this whole thing end (more likely true.)

His mom then told the kid to head inside, that they were going to have a little talk. And that was pretty much it.

So, having a few days to think about it, I'm not all that satisfied with the outcome. I wish the father had been there. I wish I knew what the boy's consequences were going to be. I wish the mother would call to follow up or make the boy write a note of apology, but I know neither will happen because we didn't identify ourselves beyond being "neighbors." I wish I could know what the boy was thinking--is he truly just a confused, misguided kid? Is he frustrated that no girls his own age are interested? Is he teased at school? Or is he just disturbed? I guess I will never know the answer to these questions and will have to have faith that his parents will handle the situation. I hope he gets the help and guidance he needs.

I do know that I've been out for two or three more runs in the neighborhood since then and I've not seen the kid out and about, nor on his skateboard. I can tell you one thing--if I see him out on his board anytime in the near future, I'll be bringing a can of whoop-ass to that doorstep next time.

I will never have all the answers I want, but at least I know I did something and I will just have to hope that it's enough.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Why can't we (and by "we," I mean women) just go out for a run and not have to worry about catcalls and horn-honking and what time of day it is? Why can't we enjoy the serenity and seclusion of a wooded trail or an isolated road? Why do we have to think about becoming an easier target every time we twist a ponytail holder around our hair or pop ear buds into our ears?

Yes, I avoid running in the woods or in the dark when I'm alone. Yes, I still wear my hair in a ponytail and listen to my iPod while running. Yes, my heart breaks every time I hear about women who've lost their lives for no other reason than simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And, yes, I heed warnings about suspicious vehicles. Instead of indulging in the luxury of zoning out, I try to stay alert and focused while running, staying aware of my surroundings and keeping my eyes open.

But, today, I just couldn't believe my eyes.

At 10:30 AM, I set out for a short, 30-minute run around my neighborhood. The houses on the street behind mine form a loop and, while running the loop, I encountered a skateboarder. I estimated him to be about 14 years old, lean, with brown hair, wearing loose black shorts with white stripes down the sides and a light blue t-shirt, with what looked like black and white Vans on his feet.

As I exited the loop, he did too. Coincidence, I thought. The next street I headed for was a lightly traveled, shady road that dead-ends at a park. The road borders my neighborhood and two others before becoming slightly less populated. As I started down the road, I glanced behind me and saw that skater boy had followed me. He caught up to me and passed, looking directly at me. When he got approximately three car-lengths ahead, he turned sideways and started thrusting his hips. Weirdo, I thought, and kept running. He repeated this pattern, heading back as if he were going home and then passing me again. The next time he got in front of me, he started rubbing and stroking himself through his shorts until his little weenie was sticking straight out, making a tent, before resuming his hip thrusts and gyrations.

If at first I wasn't sure what he was doing or what I was seeing, there was no mistaking it now. If, at first, he'd done this only once and scurried home, I might have blown it off as stupid teenage-boy antics. But he persisted. By the third time he did this, each time getting a little closer, a little bolder, a little more vulgar, I was both angry and unnerved. He'd crossed the line from merely being an annoying little punk on a skateboard to someone who was clearly harassing me, being entirely lewd and inappropriate, and making me uncomfortable--to the point that I altered my route; I didn't want to continue down that road with him following me, so I turned back. When I did, he was so close behind that he almost ran me over. He smirked.

"Watch out!" I shouted and picked up the pace. I wondered, would he now continue on his way or follow me? He followed. Passing again, stroking and thrusting, scanning the surrounding area to make sure no one else was watching, the movements had become so thorough and exaggerated that I worried he might actually pull the little thing out of his pants.

As I approached my neighborhood again, the road angled upward in a slight rise. Skate-rat punk was nearing the crest and had slowed almost to a stop, as if waiting for me. I quickly realized that if I kept running, I would indeed catch up to him and have to pass by, his hands still groping and grabbing his crotch.

I had at least 10 pounds, a few inches and twenty-some years on this kid. What he had was a large skateboard and a slightly secluded area in which to carry on with this disturbing behavior. Feeling threatened and having few defenses at my disposal, I decided on my voice as a weapon and aimed to humiliate him if I could.

"You're a loser!" I yelled loudly and disgustedly, slowing my pace.

"What?" he said.

"I said you're a loser!" I repeated. "Do you really want me to laugh at it?" (One good smirk deserves another.)

"What?" he said again, stepping off his skateboard and holding it in front of him with both hands. I had a vision of him hitting me with it, or maybe throwing it at me as I went by. I kept running and swung wide.

"Go home to your mom!" I admonished. (This last bit aimed to point out his immaturity as well as possibly strike fear into his heart by planting the seed: maybe she knows my mom!) The verbal confrontation seemed to work.

"What? What did you say?" He asked again. But, by then, I was past him and simply muttered "nevermind" to which I heard him mutter "whatever" in return. I glanced over my shoulder to see him disappearing into the backyards of the houses bordering the road. Maybe antagonizing him wasn't a good idea. And, perhaps I could have been more savvy or selective in my word choice, but it's what I blurted out in the moment. Confronting him, however, seemed to put an end to his shenanigans as he indeed seemed to be headed home, thinking better of pursuing me further.

Once in the neighborhood, I returned to the loop where I'd started my run. He was still riding his skateboard but now pointedly avoiding me, riding away from me whenever he saw me. I found a neighbor who was outside and asked if she'd seen the kid on the skateboard. She had, and she knew who he was. I told her what happened and she show me where he lives, told me who his parents are. He is 16-years-old. Sixteen!

To be a lewd, rude, punk kid is one thing. To cross the line into harassing me to the point of making me feel extremely uncomfortable, making me alter my running route, is beyond unacceptable.

So what to do about it? Call his parents? My husband is livid, contemplating calling the authorities, but considering a sit-down with the punk and his parents instead. The fact that the kid and his parents are neighbors, though I don't know them at all, complicates things. However, the fact that he has been identified gives us the opportunity to address the issue instead of letting some "unknown" punk get away with what he's done. The fact that he could do this to someone else is worrisome, dangerous and scary. What if it's a young girl running down that road next time? What if he has like-minded friends with him next time? What if he decide to take a swing with his skateboard next time, or carries a pocket knife?

Can you imagine your daughter going to school with a jerk like this? Can you imagine what kind of man he will become?

The kind that makes me have to worry about just going for a run.