Dog Days

45 days.

45 days is how long I expect my work life to be at Def Con 4 levels of crazy. I work in higher ed, in a student services area, so while the faculty are out enjoying their summers and occasionally spotted wandering around campus in shorts and flip flops, I am gearing myself and my staff up for the coming onslaught of students. It is stressful and tiring and totally predictable. Despite our best efforts we know this to be true: August sucks and everyone feels overworked and underappreciated. It is a tough time for the front line staff and it is a tough time for me as a supervisor as I know I’m pushing them hard but I also know this is the make or break time for our institution to get our new class of students in.

Last year at this time I was working hard but also looking forward to a trip to Bayfield Wisconsin to do the Point to LaPointe race (I was also busy getting pregnant, but I didn’t know it at the time). This year I am not getting pregnant and I’m not swimming the race either.

I’m really bummed about one of those things.

I know I can’t do the race. I’ve swam once this summer. I’m out of shape, out of vacation days, out of money to travel with. I really am not sure that I’d want to drive 8 hours with an infant and a four year old. But, man, I’m feeling bummed about it today.

It has been a long hot summer already and I wish I had the cool of a lakeside town to look forward to right now.

Next year, next year.

How about you? Any late summer trips to look forward to?

Point to LaPointe 2011 race report

So, I did the Point to LaPointe race  last year and as my race report (here and here) indicates it did not exactly go according to plan. This is largely because my plan did NOT include massive amounts of wetsuit related claustrophobia and general freak outs. I stopped a lot and I finished the race feeling pleased to be done but pretty certain that I could do better.

It was almost impossible not to do better, really, in that I was slower than 96% of the other women in the race.

Going into the race this year I felt like I was better prepared overall. I’ve done more swimming, I’ve done more open water swimming and I had a better sense of what to expect. The only thing that I didn’t do was actually swim in the wetsuit. I hate that damn thing. I was not-so-secretly hoping that it would be warm enough to swim without it, but I knew that Lake Superior can be very chilly, even in summer, so I wasn’t counting on it.

So when we left for Wisconsin the wetsuit was safely tucked into the back of the car.

In the backseat of the car? This guy.

He did AMAZINGLY well for a three year old on an eight hour car trip. Good kid, that one.

The pre-race stuff was the usual for me. Go to packet pick up, get nervous, wonder why I do this to myself, wonder why I can’t just go to the gym and swim laps like a normal person. I wish I could bottle the feeling of post race so I could remember what it feels like pre-race.

After packet pick-up on Friday night we went to the beach and I put on the wetsuit for a trial run. I swam out for about 15 minutes and hated every second of it. While I was swimming Mr.Monkey and the kid were playing in the water, sans wetsuit, and didn’t appear to be getting hypothermia so I decided to try to swim a bit without the wetsuit. The water was cold but not take your breath away cold and it was then that I decided that I wasn’t going to wear the wetsuit unless the race director made me.

The next morning was the usual bustle of trying to get and keep food down before the race, getting all the gear together, and getting to the start of the race. The kid was excited. Super excited, really. Not about my race so much but about the promised ride on the ferry boat to the finish line.

Wondering where that ferry boat is.

I got approval from the race director and went to the starting area as one of the few racers not in a wetsuit. They announced that the water was about 69 degrees and I knew I’d made the right choice about the wetsuit.

Prior to the race I told Mr.Monkey that I had three goals: finish, beat my time from last year, and hopefully break an hour and 30 minutes. Within minutes of starting the race I knew that I was going to meet all of those goals. I just felt great. I was moving comfortably through the water, I was barely having to do any course corrections (we had picture perfect conditions, which certainly helped), and I was actually passing people. It felt as good as I’ve ever felt during a race.

I ended up finishing in 1 hour, 24 minutes, which was 20 minutes faster than last year. I beat more people in my age group and overall than last year. It was a great feeling.

Overall assessment? Point to LaPointe continues to be a well run race in an absolutely beautiful setting. I definitely want to do it again next year.


You’ll have to forgive me if this race report is a bit disorganized. It was my birthday yesterday (yay!) but I spent part of it at urgent care (boo!) being diagnosed with a kidney stone (double boo!) and so I’m pretty hopped up on goof balls right now, medicating until I can pass this thing.


The proper steps of vacation preparation, especially when said vacation includes an athletic race of some sort:

1. A few days before you leave, lay in bed and begin to think about what you’ll pack. Think to yourself “You must remember to pack your wetsuit.” Try to fall asleep. Fail because, oh God, what if you forget to pack the wetsuit and you can’t swim? Oh no!

2. Randomly think “remember the wetsuit!” during the next several days. Do this when you are at work, in meetings that require your attention.

3. Go to the library. Check out more books than you can possibly read on a short trip, especially a short trip that involves a toddler.

4. Think about that wetsuit again but add in an extra layer of “must remember the no poop pills” as you know that your stomach gets a bit frantic pre-race and that Pepto is the only thing that stands in the way of a wetsuit disaster.

5. Begin to think about all of the things you need to do on Wednesday night after work in order to be ready to leave at 5am on Thursday morning. Freak out. Email boss and request Wednesday off.

6. Try, with limited success, to get work done at work. Feel distracted by the hum of “vacation vacation vacation” in your head. Realize that obsessively checking the forecast for your destination city on is probably not helping.

7. Distract yourself from thoughts about vacation by indulging in a brief day dream about your upcoming birthday and the presents you might be getting from your spouse. Some new goggles and a swim cap, perhaps? A book?

8. Frantic house cleaning so that if you die in a car crash on vacation people won’t judge you when they come pack up your house after your dead. Or, less morbidly, clean the house so you can come home to a  nice clean house.

9. Careful deliberations on the ideal snack/toy/distractions mixture to keep your three year old happy(ish) on an eight hour drive.

10. Packing and stuff.


A Month Out

So, I’m about a month out from my next race, the Point to LaPointe in beee-uuu-tttiful Bayfield, Wisconsin. I am excited to go back to Bayfield (this time with Mr. Monkey and the kiddo, which will be nice) and I am DETERMINED to have a better showing in the race than I did last year.

(As a recap, last year I finished in the bottom of my age group and 15th from last overall. In a distance swim race. My high school self would die of embarrassment. I *FREAKED OUT* multiple times during the race, largely due to wetsuit induced claustrophobia)

There are a variety of things that I’ve done better in terms of prep this year: more open water swims, longer training swims, more consistent training. There are some things I still wish I had done better (practiced in the wetsuit, trained more during the winter) but overall I feel like I could do better this time around.

In terms of goals for the race, it is somewhat tricky to set a time goal since weather can be such a big factor and we had pretty much perfect weather last year and while it would be nice to plan for that again I have to remind myself that Lake Superior can unpredictable. That said, I’d like:

1. To finish in under 1 hour, 45 minutes. Ideally in 90 minutes or so.

2. I’d like to finish ahead of 30 people

3. I want to beat at least one person in my age group.

We’ll see. I need spend some serious time in the pool this month.

Races and baseball and Sunday night exhaustion

We had a fine weekend in the monkey household.

Mr. Monkey ran a 5K and finished 4th in his age group. Good job Mr.Monkey!


After the race we went and spent most of Saturday and a big old chunk of money buying a new car to replace the 1999 Saturn that I’ve had for eight years and that finally gave up the ghost on Friday. The whole car buying thing could be a post in and off its self, but the short version is that one point Mr. Monkey told me that he felt sorry for the dealers because they didn’t know what they were getting into when they started bargaining with me because I am A) Dutch and cheap and B) really persistent when it comes to stuff that relates to our money. Eight and a half hours later I drove off in a very red new Nissan Versa.

Today we took the kiddo to his first baseball game. He loved it, especially when they let the kids run the bases after the game ended.



Now it is Sunday night and I have a sunburned nose and the lingering vestiges of this damned cold (a week now. Argh! I tried to swim today and the whole not able to breathe thing is still a problem) but I think I will sleep the sleep of someone who has had a fine and happy weekend with her little family.

Summer To Do List

A friend recently had a summer fun to do list on her Facebook page and so I am totally stealing the idea. I’m sort of stunned that is is already near the end of June and I want to make sure that we take advantage of some of the summer specific things to do here in Iowa.

So, while the days are long I want to:

– go to the Farmer’s Market at least once

– go to a minor league baseball game with the kiddo and the husband

– go on a hike with the kid (while he still fits in the backpack carrier)

– take the kiddo to see Cars 2 at the movie theatre

– have friends over for game night

– have a picnic at the park or the beach

– go on a really long bike ride

– take a day off of work and spend it by myself, doing whatever I want.

– do a late summer/early fall sprint tri (if I can get my currently wonky hip to cooperate so I can run)


What about you? Any summer ambitions?

Patience and Persistence

I was driving into work this morning with a head full of worries and frustrations about work stuff. The project that isn’t going as fast as I want it to largely due to people’s resistance to change, even if the change would make life easier for almost everyone involved. The staff member who I have concerns about. The sheer volume of work that I need to do. My car doesn’t have a working radio so there is nothing to distract me from the swirl of thoughts as I make the 25 minute drive in.

Sometimes I don’t know if I’m up to the challenges of this job. I don’t know if I have thick enough skin or enough patience or enough energy to fix the problems of my department. Sometimes I feel exhausted just thinking about it and we are still a month away from hitting our busy season.

I’m trying not to be discouraged. I keep reminding myself that most problems can be solved with patience and persistence so that is my mantra for this week. Patience and persistence. Patience and persistence. Patience and persistence.

(and the occasional closed office door silent scream).


On a totally unrelated note: I hit 316 minutes of exercise for the month of April, not the 500 I was aiming for. I blame the move, and the fact that I did nothing but moving tasks for the first two weeks of the month.

May goal: 600 minutes with lots of swimming as the Point to LaPointe swim will be here sooner than I think.

Absolutely Stupid Money Things

April has been a spendy, spendy, spendy month for the Monkey household. We moved, so of course there is always cost associated with that including, but not limited to, paying the movers, buying pizza for friends who are kind enough to help with packing boxes, eating out when all your plates are still packed, but new household things like shower curtain liners and toilet brushes and on and on.

But there have been a few other hiccups with money this month that are just making me feel absolutely crazy.

The first one is all my fault. I pay our car payment on-line and for some reason I made the car payment but forgot to enter into the checkbook register. Then I was paying the rest of the bills and couldn’t for sure remember if I had paid the car payment yet so I checked on-line and discovered it was still showing as due. So I quickly paid it again and then discovered a day later that the first payment just hadn’t posted yet. So I paid a double car payment this month.

The second thing is just totally aggravating. The house we just moved out of was basically a duplex and through a chain of events that I will not bore you with, we discovered this week that we’ve been paying the neighbor’s electric bill and they’ve been paying our for the last YEAR. The problem with this? We have had the bigger part of the duplex and so we now owe them just over $200.

On top of the $200 we owe the old neighbors, I’ve had to pay three electric bills this month: one for the old place, one for the new place and one final bill. That combined with setting up and having to put down a deposit to start a water account on the new place has led to a month with a truly ridiculous amount of money going toward utilities.

I also had to upgrade my phone and internet connector thingy last month, so our bill for that (bundled service) is much bigger than usual this month as well.

Basically I feel like the month of April has grabbed me by the ankles and is holding me upside down and shaking all the change out of my pockets.

That didn’t stop me from spending a chunk of change to sign up for the Point to LaPointe race though! Bayfield, Wisconsin, here I come!

(I might not have any money to spend when I get there, if May-July are anything like April, but I’m coming!)

Get me to a pool

So,  after a looonnnngggg winter of sluggishness and no racing at all, I think I might be signing up for two races for the summer/early fall.

I want to take a crack at the Pointe to LaPointe swim again (I KNOW I can do better than I did last year) and I’d like to try the sprint tri I did last fall again. I need to make sure I can get the time off the job as August is our busiest month of the year, but as soon as I get the okay from the boss lady I am signing up. I feel a little tingle of anticipation just thinking about it.

I got my ass reintroduced with my bike this weekend and now I need to get myself to the pool. I think I need about a month of pool time and then I need to find some large bodies of open water and get in some practice with my wetsuit. The whole wetsuit thing was one of the worst parts of the swim last summer and I just need to get over the trapped feeling that I get when I swim in one.

It is ON.


So, it feels like there are about 1000 things that I am just not on top of right now. Work is hectic, we’re moving soon and there has been some bumps in the road with that, and I got some medical news recently (that I may or may not talk about here, still debating that) that has really forced me to think about what my expectations and ambitions for myself as an athlete are going to be. So–things are in flux with me and I feel always behind.

But, I totalled up my exercise minutes from March and I was at 391 for the month. Is this a lot for some super studly people? Probably not. But is it an improvement for me, right here, right now? Yep. And I’ll take it.

My goal for April: 500 minutes.