Sunday, May 31, 2009

Three Weeks Out.

I have wanted to blog my thoughts lately so badly, yet the words just wouldn't come out. I've sat down to blog numerous times, then shut it down and walked away. However, being that today was the last day of real "work" in my training for Ironman (i.e. now we begin 3 weeks of taper/rest/recovery), I think it's a good time to reflect on where I am. I'll give it my best.

On June 23, 2008, at about 2:00pm, I sat in my office shrieking at the confirmation page on my laptop. "This message is generated as confirmation of your recent registration on You have been successfully registered for the following: Registration:2009 Ford Ironman Coeur d'Alene."

"Holy Shit," I thought. "What the hell did I just do?"

I'll be honest. I had no intention of actually doing Ironman. I was having a FOMO (fear of missing out) moment, chatting with Dionn and looking at the T3 message boards. Every minute another few people would add their comments to the Ironman Coeur D'Alene post: "In." I remember thinking that I had earned nearly enough to pay for this thing from my cycling studies at UT. So I didn't feel like I would be losing money. I also thought: I would hate to miss out in case I change my mind and decide I do want to do IMCDA. And, well, everyone else is doing it. I have said I always wanted to do an Ironman, why not now.

I'll be honest again... life, outside of triathlon, was a mental mess. I was in the midst of major changes and major decisions. Besides, I thought you had to have some solid, inner reasoning, longing and committment in order to commit to Ironman. I didn't have any of that. Yes, I will always consider Dionn my guardian angel, for she gave me the final nudge I needed to register for CDA. (Damnit if that woman doesn't have all-knowing super powers.)

So I registered for CDA and something strange happened... I had a goal, looming in the future. Not one I had to think about anytime soon, but something out in the future to look forward to. I'll be honest, it was a good feeling. Something that I could do for me...devote myself to... escape into, even.

However, as the time to begin the 6 month periodization training grew near, my mind was consumed with everything but Ironman. Add running injuries to the equation, and my outlook was not looking good. I hoped that my attitude would change as June came nearer. Thankfully, I was at least willing to give my attitude some time.

Come January, I mostly stayed a hermit from T3 practices, swimming on my own at the gym, doing the run workouts alone, and convincing Esther to ride my long rides with me, away from the team. I was depressed about my complete lack of fitness. I was discouraged to see everyone else making so much progress while I stayed stagnant, sometimes even reinjuring myself.

But, little by little, things did get better. I started to give up my need for control and my obsession with returning to the athletic state I had achieved in 2008. I got some wise advice: "Just give it time. Stop beating yourself up and be patient." I tried my best to follow it.

I also had some key things that shifted my outlook to a more positive direction. Off the top of my head, some of these were:
1) Running & walking 10 miles (partly with Alisa and Carrie, then on my own) and realizing that it would be okay to walk an Ironman. (My biggest fear was suddenly alleviated that day.)
2) Meeting Natalie at swim practice and forming a Barton Springs/Swim team that would carry me through the open water swim schedule.
3) Some key long bikes, including the 75 mile Flex Team ride on Parmer, the ride I managed to hang on to Opre's Angels, the Armadillo Classic with Katy, and then finally this weekend's long ride where I ate Fitzhough up. (finally!)
4) So many runs with Alisa (and the rest of the bunnies) - though Alisa became my running angel this season.
5) Developing a love for morning spin classes and an unspoken promise to Esther that I would always show up.
6) Lonestar Half Iron.

And lastly, but I think most important:
7) Going to the Art Festival & going to Dallas. Realizing that I didn't have to compromise the things most important to me in order to achieve this goal gave me something more valuable than all of my training - an appreciation of balance.

Who would have thought that just 10-15 hours per week, devoted to running, biking, swimming or getting your butt kicked in Coach Pain's core classes, would offer some of life's best insights?
Yet, through this training I have learned patience - not everything has to happen right here, right now. I have learned trust - that things will work out and be okay, even if it seems near impossible at the time. I have learned how to (sometimes) give up my ego, and be truly happy for others without the need to compare myself. And, little by little, I'm learning acceptance - that I am okay the way I am, and people love me regardless of the stuff I seem to place so much importance on.

If you would have told me 5 months ago, as I froze and cried riding down 360 and only barely collected myself in a coffee shop with Esther, that I would be in this mental place... I would have laughed in your face. But I'm here... I'm in a place of loving this training, loving my friends and loving what I've accomplished. Oddly enough, much of the things causing me so much turmoil haven't changed. But my outlook has changed.

Training for Ironman has been a lesson in humility, patience, trust and committment. It's about hanging on in the face of adversity and believing that you really are capable of whatever you put your mind to.

Mind you, that's what training is. I can only imagine what completing is.

I've been so dismissive of what lies ahead on June 21st. (Probably my protective nature mixed in with a healthy dose of ignorance.) However, today I am ready to embrace it. Three weeks of tapering, planning, pondering, reflecting and preparation, and then a day where I will learn more about myself than perhaps any other day of my life.

By the way, in reference to learning to appreciate balance: I don't have any *big* goals lined up post Ironman. There is a huge part of me that is scared of not having something ahead, and scared of the unknown, really. However, I'm giving up fear and instead I'm going to embrace whatever lies ahead in my life. I have more confidence than ever that I will always land on my feet and that I can do anything if I just believe in myself.

(If I never made it to CDA, I would be okay. It will be the icing on the cake, definitely. But I happily can say that I have loved every piece of the cake. I am full, and I am thankful.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cap Tex

Another triathlon comes and goes without me entering the waters of Lady Bird Lake. (I consider this to be a great success!) However, I got plenty of water on me as I, along with some of my T3 teammates, pulled nearly 3,000 people out of the water Monday morning.

In years past, I always volunteered for body marking. The benefits of this job are: 1) you are finished before the race starts, 2) you get to write all over the arms and legs of beautiful, fit triathletes, and 3) you get to write all over the arms and legs of beautiful, fit triathletes. :)

However, T3 does the swim - so this year, I did the swim. Alisa, Katy, Ben, Jess, Dionn, Mike, Lisa, Robert, Sunday & I were stationed at the swim exit, pulling athletes out of the water, ripping down their wetsuit cords, stabilizing them as they moved from horizontal to vertical, and handing them their legs.

Yes, that's right, I wrote "handing them their legs." I was so amazed at the disabled athletes who competed, unassisted, without arms or legs. Talk about inspiring! However, the running laugh of yesterday was about the moment when Katy, trying to encourage an athlete to "stand up, you can do it!" was greeted with "no, I can't stand." Meanwhile, I was tapping Katy with the athlete's prosthetic leg, saying "Katy, really, he can't stand." If the athlete wasn't such a great spirit about it, it might have been incredibly awkward. Instead, he was a great sport, and thus gave us great fodder to tease Katy the rest of the day.

Add some jokes about armpit hair, Ben continually yelling "just 3 more strokes", athletes grabbing Alisa in inappropriate places, white tri shorts (WTF?!), a USA flag speedo, and tons of smiles and thank-you's.... well, you've got yourself a damn good CapTex Triathlon. Nice work, team!

Here are a few shots from the amazing Gordon McGregor. Check out the rest HERE.

Above: Dionn, Katy & me
Below: Ben, Dionn and me (probably reliving why D was so happy to be volunteering and not swimming!)

Friday, May 22, 2009

All Smiles

I'm not sure if it's because it's Friday, or because I had a fun (work!) trip to & from Houston, or because I slept in (til 6am!) and am taking it easy today.... but I cannot stop smiling.

Or laughing.

Or plotting my world domination.


Seriously, I know that life has its ups & downs, but today is a beautiful, wonderful day...

And I love it!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Batter Up!

I was reading the comics, and this was today's Peanuts! I can't help but laugh in recognition!!!

I never played on a sports team. This may be partially because I never showed any interest in team sports and partially because my dad is smart. He recognized at a very early point in my life that he was tired of chasing softballs all over the yard because I had no hand-eye coordination, skill, endurance or talent.

So, I was a cheerleader instead. Loved it then, and still love it now. You need a pep talk? I'm your girl! I always prefer cheering to playing. Less accountability, more fun! At least that's what I tell myself.

Anyway, there is something I want to do, but I'm scared because it involves an election... a popularity contest, to be more accurate... and judgment about whether or not I am worthy to win. Perhaps I'm totally making this out to be something bigger than it is - and wow, I *never* do that - but, it is what it is. Meaning, it may be small, but to me - it's important. Also, I'm very afraid to lose.

Today, I got the pep talk. "Please do not back out now. You can't hit the home-run unless you get up to bat and swing."

Gotta remember this one, it's so simple but so true.

... Batter Up!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Never Follow Your Passion

Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel, wrote this in the business magazine Fast Company: "Never follow your passion, but by all means bring it with you.

""Follow your passion' is the worst advice you can give someone," he says. "Exhibit A: our 200 dirty jobs—Rene the fish gutter, or the guy who makes flowerpots out of cow shit. Once they found a thing they could make a living from, they figured out how to get great at it and how to love it. If you bring your passion with you, you can apply it to anything that makes sense. If you follow it, you're going to be miserable until X, Y, Z happens, which might be never."

Interesting perspective. A reminder that there are always different ways of looking at things.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have been a Renthead since February 14, 1998. I first saw Rent in Dallas at the Majestic Theatre. I loved it so much that I went to buy the soundtrack the next day. They didn't have it on tape, so I bought my very first CD player just so I could listen to the CD. I saw the Puccini's opera La Boheme that summer at Bass in Forth Worth. I brought in the millennium when I saw Rent again on Broadway - just days after the new year. I drove Jenna (my college roommate) crazy pretending that I was Mimi, running around our room singing "Out Tonight."

Last night, I saw Rent yet again. The original stars, Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal starred. Elizabeth & I had amazing seats - 10 rows back, dead center. (Thanks, D!) I have to say, it was the best I've ever seen. I laughed, I cried, I poked at Elizabeth, I resisted singing the entire soundtrack (which I know by heart) and I smiled the entire time.

I am at a loss for words at how amazing the show was. I'm just so happy I went... perhaps one of the best nights I have had in as long as I can remember.

Monday, May 11, 2009

frozen corn

Working from home definitely has its advantages. Frozen corn makes for an excellent ice pack.

In case you were wondering what my calf stretcher looked like, here it is. I spent a lot of time like this in Dallas, and I am proud to report that I now use it every day.

Mentally, I am feeling fantastic. Perhaps the best I've felt all season. My body is a bit beat up, but I'm going to focus the next few weeks on good nutrition, stretching, icing and quality time with my compression socks.

I'm almost there!!!!!!

current status

Here's my current Facebook Status:

Erin is smiling at being told this: I know you can take it. You're an animal. One that hibernates from time to time. But a serious badass animal none the less.

I like that! It makes me giggle. :) By the way, I think I'm done hibernating for the time being. I'm actually quite happy to be out in the world lately!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Best Mother's Day

I celebrated Mother's Day a week early this year. I was so excited to spot an easy training weekend that I called my parents instantly to see if they wanted to visit me. (Perhaps how a 75 mile ride + 9 mile run became an "easy weekend" is another post all together. Anyway...)

My parents are very smart people. The conversation went like this:

E: I just looked at my training calendar and I'm thinking this upcoming weekend would be a great one for you guys to visit me! I have a long bike ride, but otherwise we'd have lots of time with each other.

D(ad): That's great news honey! Let me get your mom on the phone... pause... Carol, Erin wants us to come visit her this weekend.

M(om): Why don't you come visit us, honey?

E: Um, because I asked y'all first! Yay for YOU guys driving, not me! Unless, well, I guess I could drive... hmmmm....

D: I'll take you to the gym and we can work out together!

M: I'll buy you tons of fresh fruit and anything else you want!

D: We'll play lots of Scrabble, and I'll save the crosswords for you!

M: And the Cottonwood Art Festival is this weekend, we could all go to that!

E: OKAY!!! ... pause... Dammit, you guys got me where it counts.

Like I said, my parents are clever. Dangle an art festival in front of me and I'm there.

So, I packed up early on Friday and headed to Dallas for the weekend. It was fantastic - relaxed, laid back, full of movies, crosswords, food, Scrabble, art and SHOPPING! Shopping?! I hate shopping. I will do anything to avoid shopping. However, it's become very clear that my 5 year old running and biking apparel are not getting the job done anymore. After mentioning this to my mom, she insisted that we go look for new gear. I'll be honest, one thing I hate more than shopping is having other people buy stuff for me. Maybe it's a Jewish guilt thing, but I just don't like it. My mom, on the other hand, loves buying stuff for me. So, who am I to refuse her such pleasure.

After 2 hours in Richardson Bike Mart (which had Grease Monkey Wipes on the shelves!!!), Run On & Academy, I walked away with 3 pairs of bike shorts, 6 pairs of bike socks, 2 pairs of running shorts, 3 running tops, a new pair of shoes, 2 packages of body glide, and a calf stretcher. (My very own calf stretcher - what every girl wants!!) I told my folks I don't ever want to know the total of those receipts. I really would never have purchased that stuff on my own. But I am so thankful to them for all of my new stuff, and I can't wait to try it all out.

My mother had never reminded me more of my grandmother than she did this weekend. She said that shopping for me, and buying me new stuff, was the best mother's day gift ever. I've mentioned before how selfless she is - and this weekend was no different. (Except I got to be the really big benefactor this time!)

Yes, of course the stuff I brought home is fantastic. But more so, I am just overwhelmed with gratitude of how much my parents care about me and want me to be happy. They are 100% behind me in whatever I want to do - and in this case - they are doing everything they can to ensure I am successful at Ironman. Rather than expressing how crazy they think I am, they have embraced it because they know it makes me happy. I am one lucky girl.