2015 in review

Man, did this year go by fast, or what?

January

I turned 40!

In Barcelona!

Then celebrated again with my friends once I was back home.

February

Not much besides Mardi Gras, really.

My Achilles’ tendon started hurting.

Went to Vegas for Kiki’s 40th.

March

Spoke at my first WordCamp, in Dayton.

Ran the Shamrockin’ Run for the third time.

Emily and Ellie visited.

Scott Bakula was in our front yard.

April

Kiki came to visit and we had a garage sale.

We also went on a big boat and watched missed seeing Heather finish her first Ironman triathlon.

It was…a slow month.

May

I took the boys to Virginia.

The boys made a movie.

Miles danced.

I wrote a v popular post for the New Orleans Moms Blog.

Started physical therapy for my Achilles’ tendon.

June

George and I gallivanted around England.

July

I went to NYC for BlogHer.

Completed my third (and last) triathlon.

August

Got the attic insulated.

My coworker came to visit.

I photographed my friends’ wedding.

The boys started 2nd grade.

I went uber-Goth for the NOMB Mom’s Night Out.

September

We got a new fridge!

I was volunteer coordinator at WordCamp DFW.

The boys started playing soccer.

October

We were devastated by the loss of our dear friend Gareth.

I went to Park City again for the Automattic Grand Meetup

I got another tattoo.

Ran my twelfth half marathon.

November

George and I celebrated our tenth anniversary!

We went on a big cruise.

December

The boys turned 8!

We got a dog!

My ankle still hurts.

In blogging news…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2015. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 8 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Triathlon #3 recap: Rocketchix

This morning, Heather and I got up in the middle of the night to drive to Baton Rouge for our second Rocketchix triathlon. Honestly, neither of us had done much training so we were kind of not sure how we’d end up doing.

I hadn’t given a ton of thought to my preparation for this race, either, and kind of threw everything I’d need into a bag last night. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t forget anything.)

We arrive at the LSU Natatorium and go to pick up our packets. While Heather is applying the sticker to her bike, I notice it’s a different color than mine. And it says “Rocketchix Duathlon.”

Uh oh.

Turns out Heather accidentally registered for the duathlon instead of the triathlon. I was actually kind of jealous of her, because the swim for this triathlon was going to be the longest so far, and like I said, I hadn’t done much training for it. (A few weeks ago I did 350 yards in the pool with long breaks between each length, but that’s about it.)

There were a lot fewer participants this year than last year, so it didn’t take nearly as long to get in the pool. And I’m happy to say that while I wasn’t swimming particularly fast, I also didn’t panic and flail around like I had in the past. I even passed a few people!

While we were lined up, I just willed myself to stay calm and channel Dori. “Just keep swimming.” So that’s what I did, and it worked out fairly well. (I didn’t drown.)

Once out of the pool, I got through transition pretty quickly, and I was on my bike (with the seat set at the proper height) before too long. I get so focused on the swim for these races that I forget that being on a bike for 12 miles is…kind of boring. I am using George’s bike, which is not exactly meant for speed.

But the bike portion also went better than last year. I got into a groove, and it went by pretty swiftly. (Well, swiftly for me.) I even passed a few people! That’s a first for me.

The next transition was easy – just throw off the helmet, really, and I was off and running quickly. Well. “Running.” Only two miles. That’s nothing. But it seemed to last forever. I ran when I could (not much) and walked a lot.

Selfie during the run! Mike the Tiger is somewhere back there.

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I was looking at my watch a lot, hoping I could beat my time from last year, even taking into account that the swim was nearly twice as far this time. I wasn’t even daring to hope that I could beat my run time, since my legs were just worn out and it was pretty hot.

Finally, the finish line was in sight, and I was done, with Heather and Tee and her sister and my friend Jane cheering me on. Woot!

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When I picked up Heather this morning, we realized we bought matching shirts at Academy yesterday. Aren’t we adorbs?

Now, the important part. How did I do?

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Swim: My pace was 3:23/100m…slower than last year, but faster than the 3:27/100m I swam at Girl Power in September. I’ll take it! (Also, it’s so much harder to swim a 50m pool than a 25 yard one.)

Transition 1: Last year was 5:12, this year was 3:15. Nearly two minutes shaved off!

Bike: Remember last year, I neglected to raise my seat to the proper height, so I had a hard time. I’m happy to say with a higher seat, I finished 12 miles in 57:01, compared with 1:01:08 last year. (Still slow as molasses. Oh well.)

Transition 2: 1:40 last year, 1:29 this year.

Run: I was positive this was going to be at least a couple of minutes slower. I was stunned to see I finished the run faster! 23:44, compared to 24:06 last year. Woot!

Finish time…10 seconds faster than last year!

So overall, a pretty good race. But you know, I think I’m done with triathlons. It’s not triathlon’s fault. I am never going to improve a ton at swimming, and I’m not willing to invest in a faster bike for that portion. I could probably get faster at running, but I already run races, so I think I’ll just stick to that.

I may have committed to running a half marathon in October, even though I’d sworn them off. Ha! We’ll see.

Thursday stuff

Oliver lost one of his top teeth, finally! Poor dude was getting a complex about it. Woke me up at 1am to show me. Glad he didn’t swallow it in his sleep! Looks like the adult tooth is already coming in.

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While getting in the van to take the boys to camp this morning, I stepped in a red ant pile that was hidden under some Asian jasmine. A lot of cursing and slapping at my feet followed. I hate those assholes. (Here’s the full video if you want to see them up close.)

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Today a company is coming by to give us an estimate on having the attic insulated. Hopefully we can afford to do it, because I imagine it would pay for itself in a couple of years. Upstairs gets so, so hot. Anyone have experience with this? Our a/c is just struggling to keep up with the heat.

I also am scheming to get the living room in order. Painting, first of all. And then just making it look a little nicer. Maybe it’s time to take down the baby gate at the top of the stairs? I dunno if I’m ready for that. Here’s what it looks like currently. At least I moved the lego table into the boys’ room. It’s a start.

Oh shoot. Two days til the triathlon. Better start thinking about that.



Other things also to blog about

Mmm, oysters.
Mmm, oysters.

Kristina and I tried out this new food market the other day before she went back home. We had some really delicious raw oysters, a cheese board, a salad, and a crepe stuffed with macaroni and cheese and pulled pork. I mean, yeah. It was good.

We also attended the boys’ school fundraiser on Sunday night. More good food, especially the brisket tacos from Taceaux Loceaux (the name annoys me greatly, but what can you do?) (PS It’s pronounced Taco Loco. I don’t know how obvious that is if you’re not from here.)

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Entertainment at the fundraiser

I may have hit the open bar a few times, because by the time we left, I had a fancy bottle of wine from one raffle and I’d outbid everyone for some hair salon services in the silent auction. It’s all for a good cause, at least.

Sunday was a really big day, actually. Between the garage sale and the school fundraiser, we also went out to cheer on my friend Heather as she finished her first half Ironman triathlon!

Well, I should say we attempted to cheer her on. Thanks to some gross ineptitude by local organizers, the website said the race finished at City Park. But no, it actually finished several miles away at the lakefront.

By the time we finally go there, she had already finished. 😦 I was so upset about it, and really freaking angry at the organizers. I wonder how many other people missed seeing finishers?

The kids made a poster for her, and the adults made a few too.
The kids made a poster for her, and the adults made a few too.

On the bright side, I almost got to see fellow identical triplet mom Kim close to the finish line. You may remember me posting about her husband, who was killed last year in a training ride for this very same triathlon. She decided to train for it and race it in his memory. So inspiring.

(My friend Robin, also a mom of triplets, also finished it. I know so many kick ass women!)

IMG_1501In horticultural news, a couple of weeks ago, I planted some jasmine along our iron fence. We only have a side yard, so hopefully this will add some privacy as well as some beauty and nice scents. And probably bees.

And it’s already growing! I don’t know how much I am supposed to nudge it along the fence, but it seems to be doing okay. I guess it’ll be a few years before the fence is covered, but it’s fun to watch the progress now.

On the other hand, the Bradford pear I planted when we moved in eleven years ago has some weird black spots on the leaves, which also look like they’ve been eaten. I need to figure out what to do about that.

Remember when my friend Matt got very very sick about five years ago? Well, the husband of another mom of multiples is currently very ill with the same kind of situation. A flesh eating bacteria. Matt pulled through, and I’m confident Melissa’s husband will as well, but they can use all the positive thinking (and other support) we can send their way.

I remember Alicia saying that Matt did as well as he did because he was a rugby player, so big and muscly and solid. Melissa’s husband Josh is a police officer, so similarly brawny, so I think this is a good sign. Keep them in your thoughts.

Next week, the boys and I are headed to Virginia for Emily’s first communion. A plane ride with all three – hopefully I won’t get barfed on this time. Hmm.

Fitness accountability

I’ve been rather lax lately in my gym attendance. Ironically, part of it is because I got that treadmill that I walk on when working. I suppose I feel like that’s enough exercise. Of course it’s not. Then again, I haven’t been walking a ton either, so really it just comes down to laziness.

I thought about joining a bootcamp that meets at 5:30 on weekday mornings, but why should I shell out a bunch of money when I already belong to a gym?

Instead, I’m going to commit to going to the gym early in the morning (5:30 am) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. And I’m going to bore you all to death by posting afterwards, so I can be accountable to someone other than myself.

And I need a plan for when I’m at the gym. While I know I won’t be working as hard as I would be if I were participating in a fitness boot camp, I do need to make sure I don’t totally slack off. My main goal here is to not feel like a blobby sloth when we go to England in June.

I also want to do the Rocketchix triathlon again in July. Remembering I’ll be wearing black spandex again is a powerful motivator.

I’ll start with 35 minutes of cardio (3 mile run, more than likely) and then spend 15 minutes doing strength training. I should probably do more strength training, but I get bored easily. My gym has a 12 minute abs circuit, which would be a good use of my time, but no one uses it properly and it’s kind of infuriating. Hmm.Okay, so look out for my first post tomorrow! And I apologize in advance for the super boring posts.

Triathlon #2 recap – Girl Power

10354156_10152508670346725_9178356250560875686_nToday, my friend Heather and I finished our second triathlon. I had high hopes that I’d do better this time, for a few reasons.

  1. It’s September, not July.
  2. I spent a week in the mountains doing a 5k, a 20 mile bike ride, a Crossfit class, a Barre Method class, and hiking. (Fine. Eating and drinking too.)
  3. I knew what to expect.
  4. I knew what to do and what not to do, based on what I learned last time.

Alas, in some regards I did do better, and in others, I did worse.

My official results:

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So, the swim was further, the bike was shorter, and the run was the same length as the Rocketchix triathlon.

I picked up Heather at 6 am, and we headed across town to the UNO campus where the race was being held. We’d been keeping an eye on the weather, and the chance of rain was hovering around 50% for the morning. I was glad for the clouds, but nervous that it would start pouring.

We got there, got our bikes set up (with a tote bag this time, not a crate) and set up everything in the transition area. I appreciated that this race had specific spots for each of us, not just “find a spot on the rack.” Made things a lot more organized.

Soon enough it was time to go inside to the aquatic center. Just like at Rocketchix, we were self-seeded. I thought I might be able to finish the swim in about 9 minutes, based on my previous time. So basically, I headed to the back of the line. There were about six women behind me and 340 in front of me. Yeah, it took a while to get in the pool. Heather went in very early, so I was able to watch her swim, which was nice. Forty-five minutes, later, it was my turn. This pool was 50 meters long, not at all what I was used to. And let’s face it, it’s not like I’d done much swimming before this race. But I got in, and since the timing chip around my ankle wasn’t too tight, my foot didn’t cramp up.

I had plenty of room, and I even passed some women without too much trouble. I did a lot of backstroke, though, which probably explains why my time was a bit slower. But I felt so much stronger and less panicky, so I’ll take it.

Funny aside…Heather and I were really dismayed by our swim times. We were comparing our pace to the last race, and it just seemed way off. Turns out, the first race was 200 yards, and this one was 300 meters. Whew. In the end, I figured out that for Rocketchix I swam 1 yard every 1.63 seconds, and this one was 1 yard every 1.89 seconds. I think I did the math right. Hmm.

After the swim, I got out of the pool and walked to transition. It had started sprinkling, so the concrete was very slick. No biggie. I don’t care that much about transition times. Nevertheless, I shaved a couple of minutes off. Got my damp socks and damp shoes on, threw on my helmet, and off I went on the bike. Right up a hill and into the wind. Fantastic.

The bike course went along the lakefront, and remember, it was a cloudy day. A storm was rolling in. The wind was fierce. The course was a lopsided T shape. We turned right onto Lakeshore Drive for about a mile (into the wind), then we turned around with the wind at our backs for about 5 miles. Ahhh, that was nice. But every foot I rode I knew it was going to be hellish coming back. And so it was. At the turnaround, the wall of wind hit me like…a wall of wind. I mean, no point in being poetic about it. It sucked. Oh, and there were hills. I mean, technically they were levees and overpasses, but hills nonetheless. Going up a hill with the wind pushing you back is pretty sucky.

Since we couldn’t have music or anything, I spent the time making up songs about how much the wind and hills sucked. I wonder how many people were singing “Against the Wind” to themselves? Probably a lot. I also made up songs like, “Stupid Hill,” sung to the tune of Garbage’s “Stupid Girl.”

But eventually it ended. (Not until the person in front of me took a wrong turn and led me UP A HILL WE DIDN’T HAVE TO GO UP. That was suboptimal.)

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fakest smile ever.

When I got to transition, there were people all over the place who had already finished, getting their bikes and generally being in the way. I don’t think they realized that the swimmers from the back of the pack were only just then getting back from their bike ride. A little crappy, but whatever. I chucked my helmet off, racked the bike, and off I went for a very slow run/walk.

Well, I say very slow, but it was really faster than at Rocketchix. I managed to finish the run with faster than 12 minute miles, which surprised me. I felt like I was running through sludge. Anyway, before too long (the run was only two miles, after all), I was done! My friend Robin (who sang the national anthem at the beginning, beautifully) was there at the finish with her husband and their triplets, cheering me on. That was nice. 🙂 And Heather was there too, of course. She had finished about an hour earlier, so I’m sure she was glad to see me finally cross the finish line. Ha!

Next up I have a four mile race in November, and I might try to find some 5Ks to do in the meantime. I just rejoined Weight Watchers so hopefully by next spring I’ll be better shape for another sprint tri. We’ll see…

Triathlon #1 recap – Rocketchix

Nervous pre-race selfie
Nervous pre-race selfie

Finished my first triathlon today! I was never super sure about doing a triathlon, mostly because of the swimming. But as I’ve probably posted a jillion times, I’ve been training over the summer and have been feeling pretty confident about my swimming. So then I’d get nervous about the bike ride, or maybe the run (or more accurately doing the run after swimming and biking.) I’m going to recap the race here, along with some tips and tricks so I’ll remember them for next time.

I did the race with my friends Heather and Maggie (well, we all did it today, not exactly together) and we drove up to Baton Rouge from New Orleans last night to stay at my mom’s house. On the way there, we stopped for dinner at a Mexican restaurant.

Tip #1: Don’t eat Mexican the night before a big race. I’m not saying it caused any major issues for me, but it just wasn’t the best choice.

We go to my mom’s, went to bed fairly early, and were up at 4:30 a.m. Got dressed, hit up Starbucks for a bagel and coffee, and got to the race area in good time. Picked up our numbers, got our stuff together, racked our bikes. On the advice of a friend, we put our stuff in crates so we could sit on them during the transitions.

After getting all set up, we found Teresa, who came to cheer us on and take pictures.

Tip #2: Bring your own paparazzi. Especially if you like seeing pictures of yourself in spandex.

It was time to go get in line for the race! Everyone got in groups according to when they anticipated finishing the swim. Since Heather is a former swimming champ, she was way at the front, and Maggie and I were closer to the back of the pack. I was pretty confident in where I seeded myself. It was a little slower than I could do, but not too bad.

Photo Jul 26, 6 11 28 PM

After a million years, it was finally time for me and Maggie to swim. By this time, Heather was well on her way to being done with the bike portion of the race! Kind of crazy since her swim time was about two or three minutes faster than us, but she ended up finishing about 45 minutes before us. (At least.)

So it’s time for me to get in. I’m strangely calm. I knew I could do this. I get in the pool, and off I go. And…I feel awkward. I can’t get into a rhythm. My foot cramps up. I feel like my ankle chip thingy is too tight, causing this foot cramping.

Tip #3: Don’t put on your ankle chip thingy too tight.

Maggie started just after me, but passed me. I don’t know why, I just am not doing great. I am doggy paddling. I’m breast-stroking. I’m doing it all wrong. I feel bad – did I seed myself all wrong? There are other swimmers (doing about as well as me) clumping up around me. We pass each other a few times, and thankfully, before too long, I’m done with the swim.

I go to the transition area, and sit down to dry my feet off, put my shoes and socks and helmet and number on, and get my bike off the rack. The damn crate is in the way. But I get the bike down, walk to the bike start and off I go!

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Almost immediately, I know something’s wrong. See, the day before, I’d picked up George’s bike (that’s what I was using) from a tune-up at the bike shop. And here’s where I made a big mistake. I didn’t even get on the bike until this very moment. And I discovered that the bike shop must’ve moved the seat all the way down.

Tip #4: Always get on the bike before the race. Duh.

I could barely straighten my legs, and I felt like Donkey Kong with my knees practically up to my ears. Or that’s how it felt.

donkey kong

I assumed I’d need a tool to raise the seat (my bike does) and I didn’t want to get off the bike to check, so I just kept going. I was pretty down at this point. I couldn’t go very fast on the bike, I’d just choked on the swim, and I was getting passed left and right. (Actually, just on the left. Heh.) But I just kept on. My quads were burning, and I was worried I’d pay for it during the run, but what could I do? I just kept on. Most of the ride was on River Road, which is pretty rural-feeling, with the levee on one side and cows or fields or trees on the other. At one point, I turned on some music (not with headphones, and just loud enough for me to hear. Not that it would have mattered. The only people who were riding near me were just passing me.)

I got passed a lot. I only passed one person during the entire 12 mile ride, and she passed me again at the end. But once I hit the halfway point, I was in decent spirits again. Everyone was so supportive of each other, and it was a beautiful day. I mean, for July in Louisiana.

I finished the bike and was happy that my legs weren’t too jelly-like. I had done a few “brick” workouts (triathlon-speak for a bike-then-run so you can get used to the feeling) so maybe that had helped. Or maybe doing slow did. Who knows, but I was pleasantly surprised. But I was getting nervous about the run. I just didn’t wanna. I don’t run outside in the summer. I just don’t. And I was about to have to do it.

Got to transition, dropped off my helmet, and headed out on the run. I felt like I was going incredibly slowly. I walked and ran, not really worrying about my time. Just wanted to finish. The run course was a little shady, which was nice, and it was also great to see Teresa (and Heather, who’d finished long before) cheering me on. When I got to the turnaround, I had the best-tasting cup of blue Gatorade of my life.

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And really, before too long, I was at the finish! I high-fived some random kid, and got my medal and stuff. Woo! Love medals.

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Found everyone and of course we posed for a pic.

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We did it!

After the race, we went to get our bikes and stuff out of the transition area, and while struggling with a crate and my bike, I was given more good advice by some other women nearby. “Girl, get a bucket! It has a handle!”

Tip #5: Get a bucket instead of a crate. It has a handle.

We were able to get our official times, and I was so excited to see I placed ninth in my age group! (In my bike’s division.) (Okay, it was out of 14. But still.) And while I didn’t really have a goal time (honestly, I had no clue how long it’d take, but as the race went on, I was shooting for under 1:45) I was thrilled to see my chip time was 1:37!

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Everyone said I’d be hooked after my first triathlon. I’m not entirely sure I’m hooked yet, but I definitely want to try again, knowing what I now know. I know I can get faster times in transition, and I know I can bike faster. In cooler weather, I’m sure I can run faster too. It’s too bad all of these sprint triathlons are different lengths, so it’s hard to compare apples to apples, but at least I can get my pace up.

This was a great beginner’s race. I didn’t feel terribly intimidated by the other athletes, and we talked to some great ladies in the line waiting for the swim. I think I’m going to have to try just one more, and then I’ll see if I’m hooked. There’s one in September (another all-female race with similar distances as this one) that I’ll probably do. I do love that I wasn’t just running the whole time. I’ve already said my half-marathon days are over, and I stand by that. So we’ll just have to see if triathlons take their place.

Three to the three!

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The only photographic evidence of my swimming you will ever see.

The countdown is on! Three days until my friends Maggie and Heather and I do the Rocketchix Triathlon. (Huh, three really kind of is my number, huh?)

When I signed up for this, I was very nervous about the swim. Now I’m feeling pretty good about the swim (it’s amazing how fast you can improve with swimming) and it’s the run I’m nervous about. Funny, considering I’ve completed two full marathons, 11 half marathons, and dozens of shorter races. But I’ve never done one after swimming and biking for an hour. At least the run is only two miles. And even if I walk it won’t take that long.

I’m not looking forward to wearing so much black spandex, though. Shudder.

If anyone wants to come cheer us on at the end, that would be great! Just remember. No pictures.

I’ll be thinking of the Guinn girls as I finish this race. Girl power!

What have I gotten myself into?

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This is never, ever going to be me.

After my last half-marathon, I vowed never to do another one. I just am kind of bored with long distances, and the weather here is too unpredictable (by which I mean, it might be too freaking hot even in October) so since I’m not really getting much enjoyment out of them, no more. I think eleven is plenty, don’t you?

My friend Heather suggested we try a duathalon, and I briefly considered it until I realized how ridiculous I’d look trying to cross the Mississippi River bridge twice on my pink cruiser. Plus, it was in June, and I don’t run outside between March and September. So then she suggested a sprint triathlon, and okay, I caved. I’m curious. I’ll try it. So we’re going to be signing up for one next month in Baton Rouge. Yeah, that’s right, in July.

It’s 200 yards in a pool, 12 miles on a bike, and a 2 mile run. I know I can do the bike, I’m sure I can do the run (though I know I’ll have to practice running after biking), but the swim…that makes me nervous. Oh, and did I mention it’s in July? This seems insane.

The only reason I agreed to this particular race is because the swimming portion is in a pool. I have never liked natural bodies of water, especially the stagnant lake type. No freaking way will I ever do a triathlon that involves open water swimming. I’m declaring that now, and I can pretty much guarantee that is not going to change, ever.

So yeah. Heather and I went to the pool this morning, just so I could get an idea of how my swimming skills are. Yeah, not so good. I flailed my way through two lengths of the pool before basically wanting to pass out. What the hell? I can run five miles, but swim 50 yards? Forget it. I was a doggy-paddling mess. It’s gonna be ugly.

I’ve already done some reading over at Swim Bike Mom (awesome blog!) but if anyone has any tips or advice for me, feel free to share. Please.