Sunday, August 21, 2011

Race Report: Donner Lake Chill 1 Mile Open Water Swim

This is hard to write. In fact, I've been dreading this post all day because I know I will disappoint you (all of you who happen to read this) just as much as I've disappointed myself. Athletics, you know, is founded on the notion of triumph, of overcoming incredible odds and most importantly, sports are about WINNING. I competed today in my first race of the season-- and my first race since I was injured months and months ago-- and I wish I could say I overcame everything and did something extraordinary in that mile-long swim.

But, I didn't. In fact, I didn't even do reasonably well. Pitted against some inanimate object-- a rock or a turd, perhaps-- I might have come in behind that, too. 

I panicked. Badly. Really, really badly. I have a fear of water I thought I conquered in the pool and the triathlon I did back in 2009. But the fear came back and perhaps a dozen strokes into the race I felt as though I couldn't breathe. I was sure I was going to suffocate to death.

And so, I stopped. I turned and looked at the shore as everyone swam past me. I watched them go, their splashes becoming smaller. A support kayak piloted by a lovely woman with an Aussie accent asked me if I was OK. She said I could hold onto the boat if I wanted and I would not be disqualified.

I remember saying "No." But I also remember looking at that shore and wanting nothing more than to be back on solid land again. I thought about eating pancakes (I hate pancakes) and how much better that would be than swimming in open water.

The Aussie asked me again to hold on to her boat.

Again, the "No."

And then a voice inside my head said: "Put your f***ing head back in the water and swim. You look stupid, hanging out here like a ninny."

I did. I swam. With my wetsuit trying to strangle me to death the entire way. And, everyone so far ahead of me. I don't know how I did it, honestly. It was pathetic and awful and I knew it. I had wanted to swim a mile in under thirty minutes and I knew there was no way I was going to do that.  I counted the rhythm of my strokes: the 1-2-3-breathe-cadence. I saw flashes of feet and torsos. Not many, but a few.

The panic lay beneath the precarious breath. One missed beat and there I was again, feeling as though death's grip was around my neck. I wanted shore. I stopped after the first buoy and the second seemed so incredibly far. Again, the shaking and the lizard part of my brain wired to survival. Again, I put my head in the water. "Just f***ing swim." On any other day, in any other place, I could. I would. But now, I prayed, not now. Not now.

No matter what, I told myself, I was going to swim this stupid mile in this stupid wetsuit that was trying to kill me even if it took me over an hour and they had to drag my lifeless body behind a paddleboard. I was going to finish. Period. 

And, without pancakes.

I did. I finished. I rounded the final buoy and pointed myself toward shore. But I'm not proud of today. I feel just awful, if you want to know the truth. I'm not sure what I learned other than I am terrified of water and if I'm going to try and compete in triathlons in the future, I'm going to have to train in open water on a consistent basis to get over this fear. I suppose there is value in not giving up despite wanting to very badly. I suppose, too, I ought to be proud that this was my fastest open water swim ever despite the many times I stopped. Despite the fact that, for thirty-one minutes, I felt as though I was going to die like some big gigantic sissy.

But I suppose this is all apart of this athletic life: along with good days, there will be bad ones. Extraordinarily bad ones, if you are me.

I have set the bar extremely low. I have to focus on what lies ahead; on what I can do to be better. I am not going to give up. I'm going to run 12 miles and go to swim practice tomorrow. I am going to be patient with myself. And when it's time, I will try again.

I wish I could feel good about that; but for today, that is all I can do.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Where My Spirit Roams, On Mountains, High

OK so I just stole a line from a Joe Cocker song and changed it. Bad form for a blog, I know. And yet, I wasn't sure what to call this post, exactly. On the one hand, I'm going to write about the race I'm in tomorrow-- about how nervous I am and how I wish I knew that I could do these things I sign up for-- and do them well. But I also want to write about the 18-mile trail run I did yesterday and the two subjects seemed so different, I needed a type of musical overture to link them.

But then, I sat here tap-tap-tapping on the keyboard, I realized these things are related, very closely, in fact. So closely I can't tell the difference any more. And perhaps it's about time I could.

When I first started running three years go, I made a habit out of doing my long runs on various trails around the Tahoe Basin. At first, this was for purely motivational purposes: I told myself "if you run X miles, you can do it in a pretty place whereas if you run less, you have to do the same old route you do everyday." I don't know if I would have gotten in those 2-4 hour efforts if it hadn't been for the trails I discovered.

I went back to one of those trails yesterday to do an 18-miler. As far as trails go, it's my very favorite. Aspens line the first four miles that, if you catch them at the right instant in the fall, are all ablaze in golden yellow and burnt umber. Then, there's the western shore of Marlette Lake you trace until you come to the Flume Trail-- where the timber that fed the Comstock was cut and put into a water trench-- the Flume-- and jettisoned to Carson and Virginia City where it was used to support the various gold and sliver mines there. Now, it's a trail that cuts into the side of the Tahoe Basin, offering panoramic views of Lake Tahoe and the wide Sierra sky, above.

Yes, it's beautiful. But it's also hard as hell. That first four miles is like a kick to the gut. You start at Spooner Summit (7,000 feet and change) and climb into the 8,000s. Then, down again (but not as much) to Marlette and finally to the Flume where you sort of bob between the high 7,000s and low 8,000s. And, if you do an out and back (like I was) you get the joy of climbing that glorious hill again-- only the second time around on legs that have 12-15 miles on them. In other words, it's a challenging run no matter how you slice it.

And slice it I did, yesterday. All I can say is "Oi!" That was HARD. 

Luckily, a group of collegiate runners joined me around mile 15 and lifted my spirits. A dozen glistening, shirtless and fat-free young men emerged from the woods as I rounded a bend, and I thought of that song, "Hallelujah! It's raining men!" For the final three miles, I had something to chase. :-)

Joking aside, back before I was racing, I told myself that mountains would teach me to run. At the time, I didn't know how right I was: mountains have not only taught me to run, but to live. If you've ever run up difficult terrain, you know what I mean when I say it's EFFING hard.

You can't seem to breathe enough and your legs-- once springy-- have turned themselves into motionless lead weights. But up you go. If you're anything like me, you might want to stop. Your brain will say: "Stop, fool. Your heart rate is at 190 and you might just keel over and die." But, you keep going anyway. Someone may pass you. Many people may. And you might tell yourself how slow you are and how pointless the pain you are in is. But you still keep going. You cheer yourself on.  You crest the summit.

And here's the thing: life is full of mountains. Maybe more metaphorical than actual ones. But there's always that challenge that hurts you in some way. And you will want to quit because you feel as though you aren't doing well. Those are the times you have to look within yourself for that firm resolve that tells you to keep on, no matter what the outside world says or does. That's how you accomplish dreams. You have to keep on trying despite the discomfort.

And so, tomorrow, I'm going to compete in an open-water swim race. I'm nervous--despite my current swim practice of 3 x week in the pool with a master's team-- I'm still slightly afraid of water. But, those mountain trail runs have taught me that there are mountains, too, in lakes and pools. Times you wish you could just give up.

Don't. Keep at it.

Keep at it.

That's my mantra.

Don't stop. Never, ever stop.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Timex After Timex

It finally happened: my Timex watch is no more. I bought this one back in 2010 when I re-started my training again after taking a year off my feet to allow various injuries to heal. When I bought it, it was purple, with a slender (if plastic) strap: feminine yet sporty. Something to wear to the track or with formal wear. Just my kind of watch.

For me, watches-- like certain songs-- are talismans of various stages of training and/or life. My first timex watch was two shades of blue and had a square face. It's redeeming feature-- a thing I didn't know about until I'd worn it for nearly a year-- was that the face would do that indigo thing with a flick of the wrist, not a push of the button. How I'd managed to miss that, I'll never know. I still remember the day I bought that watch. I'd already signed up for my first marathon. I'd read a few training books. All of them said I'd need a watch. A digital watch.

This was news to me: I never wore a watch then.

So, clad in my running gear (I was going to test the watch out after I bought it, after all), I drove to the only running specialty store in town and gazed into the glass case wondering which one I wanted as my latest accessory.

I remember thinking most were extraordinarily ugly. Male to the extreme. Or, just too girly (hence, the blue color I finally settled on.) It also happened to match my outfit that day.

I didn't take that watch off for at least a year and a half. It was the watch I wore when I ran my first marathon, the watch I wore when I trained with the UNR Tri Club, the watch I wore to run the Boston Marathon. From 2007 to sometime in 2009. That was my only watch.

The strap broke or eroded away. And then I was injured. While I was injured, I stopped wearing a watch. What was there to time, after all? The time I wasn't running? The time it took to... clean the cat box? Knowing minutes and seconds was pointless, or so my depression told me. It wasn't until I started running again that I made my way back to the running speciality store-- the same one-- to buy another watch.

There was less in their case this second time around: a bunch of clunky black ones and a single, slender purple one. Of course, I chose the latter even though NONE of my running apparel is any of that royal shade.

That watch had memories, too. I went through a lot of pain with that watch on a treadmill in Tahoe City while the snow piled outside. That watch saw me compete in my first triathlon ever. That watch got me to run a 2:47 at the California International Marathon. That watch went with me to every track session leading up to the marathon. The watch was my alarm clock, waking me every morning with a cheery-chime that got annoying. But it also got me out of bed.

The plastic band that was once a light violet is now turned yellow from chlorine and God knows what else. The strap's pulled away from the watch face, and threatens to free itself any minute. But the coup de grace came after the last pool workout. I left the watch in the bag with my wet swim suit. And when I pulled it out, there's still water beneath the glass, hovering over the digital display. So much so that I can't see the time any longer.

And so I think it's time for a new watch. And perhaps a new "cycle" of my training life. Who knows what "bells and whistles" await on the horizon? What athletic feats I'll accomplish with a flick of the wrist? Or, low times I'll have to go through? All I know is: it's time for a new Timex.

While I'm training, I'm lost without it. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

There's nothing like the Stomach Flu to really put things in perspective

OK: so you're strong and healthy. You can run at a pretty fast clip and cycle for six hours without breaking down. Your swimming is coming along, too, so that you can keep up with everyone in your lane. You're feeling on top of the world, in other words. And then it happens: the stomach flu. 

I think the last time I was this sick, I was old enough to be placed under my mother's care and given the day off from school. Those were the days of recess and fruit-roll ups and crayon boxes with their smell of sticky wax. Though it was no fun to be sick, I loved those days when it was just my mom and I-- and I could do the things I was never allowed to do on normal days: wear my pajamas past seven am, watch movies in broad daylight, eat whatever food I wanted (and could keep down.) And to have my mom make it, especially for me. 

Illness is a lot less fun when you're an adult... and when you're an athlete. Lately, I've been impressed with my return to the sport despite my sad spring season of injury. I was feeling strong-- and independent-- sort of like the archetypal runner you see on those motivational posters all alone, scaling some rocky cliff against a lit background of twilight sky. 

This illness was something of a reality check. No running for me: I was on all fours, if mobile at all. And food-- or fluids-- forget it.  It was all my humanity, in other words, bare for me to see. It's funny: so often we (or, I) get caught up in writing or running or work and I forget how precious and special existence is. All it took to lay me low was a virus, a creature so small I'll never own and instrument that would allow me to see it. 

And so, now that I'm able to walk, drink water, and enjoy a saltine cracker, I want to try and remember that every moment is a gift. It doesn't matter how far or fast; the gift is the ability to try.  And for now, the gift is smaller still but no less precious: I'm me again. Happily, healthfully, me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A History of Pages

Maybe it’s because I rode up Mt. Diablo last night in the golden sunlight that only an August day at dusk can produce. Up the winding road I pedaled, and as I rounded a bend I imagined myself surrounded by sage and bitter brush and I was transported home, to the remote rural regions of northern Nevada, where I am from. 

It was as though I was a child again, smelling like the sweating-sweet sagebrush under the hot summer sun; running along the paths formed by mule deer or those minuscule arroyos, products of the rare flash-flood summer rain. It was there, long ago, I decided to be a writer. 
Age nine: my button collection, collected at from the sewing room at the retirement community where my grandmother lived, was none other than a cast of characters that may have peopled my own day-time soap opera. The “wealthy” family: a matching set of rhinestone-studded buttons from some long-dismantled evening gown. The “working class:” plastic buttons in shapes of fruit (suggesting a coarse, if wholesome existence.) These were my first “stories” I told myself since both parents worked and it was my job to keep myself entertained. 
I tried to write my first novel when I was twelve. Thirty or so handwritten pages: a narrative describing the life of a young girl suddenly left parentless who flees to a nearby mountain range to live in a grove of aspen trees (left unfinished for the obvious lack of plot.) My stepfather worked for a mining company and so we moved at least once a year, sometimes more. I missed taking some required standardized tests and was placed in remedial English my freshman year of high school. The first assignment in the class was to write about a “crush.” I turned in a twenty-page fictional story with the requisite qualities of rising action, climax and denouement. The teacher took the essay directly to the office and switched me into the honors section.
After I returned from France as an exchange student, however, I was once again forced to take “remedial” English courses. 
Despite all of this, I loved writing. It was the thing that defined me. It’s how my mind works: ever-framing, always recounting, re-arranging, revising. It’s no surprise I was an English major in college. Or that I dreamed of getting an MFA in Creative Writing
And so, when the time came to apply for graduate programs, I thought I was ready. I’d spent the entire summer living in a cabin on the west shore of Lake Tahoe with no TV, no internet, no phone. Just myself and books and my writing. 
I wrote every morning and night. Revised the things I had written. I put together application packets and sent them to twelve MFA programs around the country. Some very well known. Others, more obscure. I thought I was on the path to being a Writer (writ large.)
The rejection letters came in, one after another. I lost my job and the place I was living. Professors who knew me well from my undergraduate studies let me live in an extra room of theirs until I regained some semblance of a life. I found work in a ski shop and hated it. And worse: the rejection letters kept coming. San Francisco State University sent me four rejection letters in total. I cried every night, wondering how I had become such a loser. 
And, for a while, I gave up. I went to work and sold ski parkas to elderly women. I was miserable. I thought my life would amount to nothing. 
And that’s about the time I started running. So slow: only a half mile at first. And then, a mile perhaps-- the ten minutes of every day I had without my horrible retail job and the inner-critic in me was silenced. After a few weeks of running, a miracle happened: a former French professor came into the shop where I worked and offered me a teaching assistantship. I only had to fill out the application. 
And so that night, I did. 
I was accepted. 
I continued to run, building my mileage from one mile a day, to two. Then three. Then an hour. Then, more. 
As I enrolled for the required French courses in the Master of Arts program, I added additional writing courses though they would not contribute to my degree. They were “free”-- and I thought “if I can x- miles a day, I can take a writing course.” And so, I did. 
We all know the story: I signed up for a marathon; and I won. But perhaps you don’t know is that, in 2010 (four years after I applied to 12 MFA programs and was rejected by them all) I applied again, to one. And not only was I accepted, I was given a scholarship to go. And it’s where I am now, once again having been awarded a scholarship in my second year to continue my dream of one day being a writer
I tell this story because, for me, running (or, athletics) isn’t only about physical accomplishment. Running has taught me to believe in myself and to pursue my dreams no matter what the world tells me I can and cannot do.
Each day, running reinforces the sense that I am strong; and that “big goals” can be tackled with a “one-step-at-a-time” approach. 
But mostly it’s what I feel as I pedal up Mt. Diablo in the fading summer light: I’m letting that little girl who was once me live her dream. She’ll be a writer one day... on her own merit, earned mile after mile.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I've noticed that there are two ways of looking at athletes in the world today. The misconception seems to be that the athlete is a figure of pure strength-- or, to frame this image with more precision-- the athlete is the embodiment of physical fitness. This is simply not the case. 

Or-- it's complicated. :) In many ways, an athlete is very strong. Though it's been a while since I've taken my resting heart rate (whatever it boom-boom it does upon waking) I've noticed it sits around 55 in the middle of the day after a few cups of coffee. I can do 140 man-push-ups and run a sub-40-minute 10k on any given day. So, yes, in the sense of my cardiovascular health I am indeed a specimen of strength. 

Yet, I'm struck by the contradiction between that and many other aspects of my life. Since I began training for long-distance events, I've had: Peroneal tendonitis, shin splits, runner's knee, Achilles tendonitis, bursitis of the hips, anemia, amenorrhoea and those are just the ailments I can name. There's been countless shadow injuries: days I can't walk right, nights I can't sleep for the pain that throbs that in one place or another.  Or little things: side stitches that just won't away, pain while sitting, pain while standing still. Pain I try not to think about when I'm running.

Then there is the issue of prevention: the hours (weekly) of foam rolling, elastic bands to strengthen various areas, stretching and calling upon my boyfriend to rub that spot on my calf just one more time... The visits to the chiropractor where he realigns my skeleton and rips adhesions that seem to develop bi-weekly in my calves. (And trust me: I'm no specimen of strength when he does that. One elbow in my soleus and I scream like a little girl.) 

Yes, athletes are strong. But in some ways, we are also weaker than the general population. If someone came to you with that laundry list of complaints and attempts to amend them, you'd think they were eighty, not twenty-nine.

And yet, here I am, up again this morning, ready to do it again. And again. I love the wind on my face and the sense that I'm accomplishing something. After certain races and workouts, I've had the thought that: well, I did that. What is there on this Earth I CAN'T do? And so maybe that's the sense of strength I see-- and most of us see- when we watch our sports idols achieve incredible feats-- it's our humanity, stretched to the max.  

And maybe that's why I always frame my writing by my running experiences. Writing, too, can be painful and unrewarding. (Anyone who types a lot fears carpal tunnel-- right?) But seriously: the hours of sitting, the time away from family and friends; the memories that might be painful to recall. But it's all in the service of something greater: to tell your story, to create something that is "bigger" than whatever discomfort you feel in the moment. 

That is what running has taught me. Not to be strong, necessarily, but to have a goal and pursue it with reckless abandon. And while I have "miles to go before I sleep" as Frost wrote, I am willing to go the distance, if one uncomfortable step at a time.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Little Miss Sunshine

After a 16 mile run yesterday, I took the night off and watched a movie at the Tahoe cabin with boyfriend, Steve. The movie of choice was one of my favorites, but one that I haven't seen in a while: Little Miss Sunshine. If you haven't seen it, I think you should probably just drop whatever you are doing now, drive to your nearest video rental store and check it out (or watch it streaming live if you aren't still living in the 20th century like I am.) 

I'm not going to spoil the movie; but the character Olive--- who's an 8 year-old girl-- is one I identify with, particularly in the field of athletics. Let me explain.... 

Olive wants to be a beauty queen; she wants to win the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. Or, she really only wants to compete, to do the dance routine her grandfather taught her and to receive praise for doing so. Her father, a motivational speaker, puts the idea into her head that anything but winning is unacceptable. And so, little Olive wants to win. The trouble? The would of beauty pageants, like the world of any specific pursuit, is one rife with its own oddities. It's a world of spray-on tans and airbrushed makeup-- foreign things to a "normal" little girl. 

Me, running the Tahoe Marathon in 2007.
I sometimes feel this way when I participate in larger, athletic events, such as a major marathon. There, I am corralled with people who look the part of the role we are supposed to play as runners. They have the aerodynamic sunglasses, the tight singlets, the short-shorts that show the lean legs that make them run faster than the wind. I always (still) think: I don't belong here. 

I believed this so strongly my senior year in high school, I quit running despite my love of the sport. I didn't run in college, either, because I thought I was too fat to even try. It wasn't until 2007 when I was in my first grad program that I started to run again because I missed it so much. I signed up for a marathon on a whim and trained myself from a book that had been gathering dust on my shelf. 

There were many road blocks in my way to achieving my dream of running a 26.2 mile race, just as Olive has many (literal) road blocks on her way to the Little Miss Sunshine pageant. But we both arrived-- amazingly-- and this is why I love that film so much: Olive "competes" as only Olive can. It's an incredible-- and unforgettable-- scene of absolute courage in the face of adversity. So too, back in 2007, I toed the line of my first marathon race, as myself, ready to do whatever I would do in the unknown distance ahead.

I didn't "look" like a runner: I wasn't rail-thin or (I believed) particularly fast. But I was there. Most importantly, I was there as MYSELF, as only I could be. 

And you know, I not only completed that race, but I won it.  I was ahead of the elite women by about ten minutes, finishing with a time that was forty minutes faster than I thought I could run. It was the race that changed my life, showing me that the pursuit of a dream is a worthy endeavor.... And more importantly, the worst reason not to try is because you think you don't "look" the part. 

I still don't think I "look" like a runner, but that is the last thing that stops me from doing this sport I love. Instead, I focus on my breath and the flicker of shadow and light that crosses my path. The sound of my footfalls, a lovely cadence. And the sense of satisfaction I gain from having covered my miles; they are the miles that have made this life a celebration, each and every moment.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Back in the Lake Again...

I'm not really a swimmer. I mean: I swam in the pool as a kid as a way to pass the lazy summer months away when I wasn't in school. I was an expert at fetching objects from the deep-diving end of any number of swimming pools: quarters, lost rings, plastic hair bobbles and let's not forget all the paraphernalia that ends up down there anyway.  I once found a silver (colored) ring at the deepest part of the Bower's Mansion pool in Washoe Valley, Nevada. I was nine and wore that ring for a year-- my prized possession. I think I even found a wad of dollar bills once, floating below the depths and me, squinting because I had no goggles.

What I mean to say is that I'm no swimmer. Or-- not a swimmer like those kids who join teams and learn strokes and all of that. I learned to swim the way we learned to walk: as a method of transportation, to take me from water's surface to water's depths.

So for me to be swimming now is really quite amazing. Add this to my history of disordered eating and body image issues and well: any sport that would require minimal apparel and wetness, well, forget it.

Only: I want to be an athlete. And swimming seems to help the various lower-leg issues that creep up from so much running. I completed (and won my age group) in a triathlon last summer; but since I'd shelved the wetsuit and the swimming. I worried, coming back, if I would remember how to do this odd thing I'd taught myself to do in adulthood: move through the water, not under it.

Tahoe: the early evening westward wind. The azure-blue chop. And me, wetsuited, suited up to swim. And in I go. I panicked twice, feeling as though my lungs refused to take in oxygen. But then, I settled into a cadence of 3-3-3-look up... and I swam a mile. A MILE! Me, the non-swimmer.

The light is fading now; my hair still wet. I've won no world record and yet-- I did something I didn't think I could do; I swam to the farthest dock you can see and back.  The sky is azure turned crimson fading to violet-- a farewell to the day and my small efforts in it.  A breath, a motion: I move through space and time. Yet, I'm grateful for each step, each stroke, each second. Grateful for my life. My beautiful life made so lovely by the people in it.

As I swam, I thought of all my friends who read my writing; my boyfriend, Steve, who motored by me in a dingy to make sure no one ran me over; my coach, Carl, who still coaches me and believes I will run a fast marathon one day; to my parents I carry in my soul, always telling me I can, I can.

And maybe I can. But as I watch the twilight fade to night, I feel so privileged to try.

Friday, August 5, 2011


What have you wanted to do, but you think "you can't?" 

Today I ran 7 x 1,000 repeats. My coach told me: run them in 3:35-3:40 minutes. My first reaction? I can't!

But then, my alarm sounded at 5am. I peeled myself out of bed. Made coffee in the dark. Drove to the track with my favorite song on repeat. 

An easy warm up in the dark and fog. I put on my track shoes, and beep (from my watch) I was off....

And you know-- I did it--!

I ran faster than my coach said I would. And not just once. 7 times, over and over again.

So much of this sport-- and of life-- is hard work. But then another part is showing up, doing your best, and believing in yourself. I always tell myself I can't. Maybe it's time I start telling myself "I can."

A challenge: what if from now on, we all just show up and believe? I wonder how much more I'd accomplish with that outlook....

Fresh Start: 7 x 1000 meters on a track and beyond...

Well, I dropped "elite" from my blog title just like I dropped it from my training logs. I'm not even sure what a word like that means. "Elite"-- who's elite? Obviously athletes like Kara Goucher, Deena Kastor. Perhaps the term should be reserved for those who perform in the top 5% in their sport.... which means, me, no I'm not elite.

But if you use another measure, I might fare better. Must you win a race to be elite? I've won a race-- two, actually, in the three years I've been running (Lake Tahoe Marathon and the San Francisco Half-- the first half, that is)... and yet, I still don't think that makes me elite even though those wins felt amazing and make me smile when I think of them.

And so, because of its hazy definition, I've dropped it from my list of goals. I don't want to be something I can't even define! Instead, I'm choosing to focus on being the best athlete I can be. I don't know if I will make the 2012 Olympic Trials in the Marathon. I've got one last shot at the 2011 California International Marathon in December-- the race I ran 2:47 in last year. It's not ideal-- that would give me a mere month before the Trials, but I would still get to go; I will not have failed.

I've come to realize, I haven't failed even if I don't make the cut this time around. I've overcome a serious injury and I've gained fitness in both swimming and cycling that I didn't have before. In outlining my race schedule, I pride myself on having an open water swim as well as a century ride in the mix. Those things have become joys-- just as running is slowly becoming a source of happiness-- for me.

Though not a complete re-lauch, my blog (and life) are shifting slightly-- instead of focusing on the unattainable "elite", it's all about achieving MY personal best. And that's pretty nifty.

Now: it's off to the track for 1,000 meter repeats.