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?

In praise of my gym

I’ve been a member, sometimes in name only and sometimes in terms of actual attendance, at many gyms in the last 15 years or so. I’ve done the gyms at the various schools I’ve attended or worked at, I’ve belonged to swanky gyms with juice bars and fancy equipment and classes, I’ve gone to bare bones gyms with ancient cardio machines and no classes at all and now Mr. Monkey and I are members of our local YMCA.

And I love it.

I’ll preface my comments with an acknowledgement that I still don’t go nearly as often as I should but I am trying to get better about that and have stepped it up a bit this month. I feel that it is important to go to the gym as much as possible in December so you can legitimately complain about the lack of parking spaces and the crowding when the New Years Resolution crowd invades in January. One must take advantage of legitimate complaining opportunities when they arise.

I went to the Y last night to take a Zumba class and so the kiddo could take his Tumble Tots class. The Zumba class was fun as usual (a side note: taking Zumba while visibly pregnant is a really good decision for me. I tend to be VERY self-conscious of my lack of rhythm and coordination but being pregnant makes me feel like “eh, who cares? I’m not going to look sexy no matter what I do, so I may as well shake my ass with extra vigor”) but as I looked around the room, I saw everything that I like about the Y. There was an elderly man (somewhere between 75-80 years old, I’m guessing) wearing a red sweater and khakis doing his best to shake it and salsa and mambo with the rest of us. There was the teenage girl with Down Syndrome and her sister, dancing side by side. There was the preteen girl with coltishly long legs and excellent dance skills following the moves of her mother, the instructor, not yet old enough to pretend she didn’t think her mom was cool. There were the older white ladies and the younger African-American girls. There was me with my pregnant belly and my friend S. who is gorgeous and a good dancer and despite those two things, is super fun to take a class with. I’d think about being self-conscious dancing in front of her but I can’t muster the energy to do so as she is also delightfully sweet, funny and kind.

I love that our gym feels like a community center and that there is good stuff for the kid and plenty of treadmills for Mr. Monkey and a prenatal aqua aerobics class for me. I love that is $76 a month that I don’t mind spending at all. It is where the kid will learn to swim and where I’ll hopefully get into shape after the baby comes.

Now I just need to read this post every time I am sitting on the couch, tired and debating whether I really want to go shuffling into the cold to go to the aerobics class or the pool. Yes. Yes I do. Because I love my gym and I always feel better coming out than I did going in.

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.

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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.

Vacation

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 weather.com 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.

 

Why this is going to be a good week

1. I get to see the big boys this week! My stepsons are coming into town soon and I’m so excited to see them. They are great young men (20 and 17) and we miss them dearly and I’m just looking forward to seeing them. The weather is going to be dreadful this week so I’m not sure what we’ll do to entertain them, though I think seeing Harry Potter is a definite option. Maybe go to the big farmer’s market if it isn’t still as hot and sticky as Satan’s armpit by Saturday.

2. The kiddo gets to see his big brothers. He LOVES them. Talks about them all the time and will surely flip out when he gets to see them. It is always heartbreaking when the visit is over but getting to see all the boys together is great enough to make the heart ache worth it.

3. This week gets me another week closer to Bayfield and the big open water swim. I am so ready for a vacation (even just a short one) and I am feeling pretty good about the race at this point. I had two good swims this weekend and even did a 500 yard time trial and found that I was 27 seconds faster than I was when I last raced a 500, which was two years ago. I’m sure I’ll get nervous about the race once I get up there but right now I’m looking forward to it more with excitement than terror, so that is always a good thing.

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.

Sunday Photo Shoot

Do you ever find that you can go along for days and weeks and even months feeling like you are on a pretty even keel and then something happens that makes you once again FULLY AWARE of your particular kind of crazy?

Yeah.

I’ve been struggling with feeling comfortable in my skin lately, more so than usual. Part of it comes from the fact that the kiddo turned three last week and I had the uncomfortable realization that I weigh the exact same right now as the day I delivered him. Ouch. I didn’t gain very much weight when I was pregnant with him (about 15-16 pounds) but still.

Part of it comes from the fact that we had a family photo session scheduled for this morning and I get super nervous about how I look in pictures, which is why A) we’ve never had family pictures taken and B) there are probably 20 pictures (if that) of me and the boy in his first three years.

Our photographer is a friend and I saw a couple of the pictures of the kid and they look great but I’m still totally nervous about how I’m going to look in the pictures. I’m afraid that I’m not going to be able to see past the weight and like any of the pictures with me in them.

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I went swimming this afternoon and did the longest swim I’ve done in a long while (2000 yards). I’ve got about two months before the Bayfield swim and I’m determined to be better prepared than I was last year.

I want to feel fast.

Open Water

I did my first open water swim of the year today. I’ve been meaning to go to the nearby lake and swim for the last couple of weeks but I just kept putting it off. It just seemed like too much work or it was too cold or whatever…I just went to the pool instead.

The truth is that the first few open water swims always make me a little nervous. I’m a strong swimmer but open water swimming is harder both physically (no lane lines stopping the wave, no walls to push off of) and mentally (it is dark and murky and, oh God, what if something touches my foot?) and so I always feel a little frisson of nerves as I sand on the shore, plotting my route across the lake.

Tonight it was 59 degrees, windy and damp outside. The normally calm lake I swim in was choppy and the water is still shockingly cold (it has been a long, cool spring) which makes it perfect for training for the race in Lake Superior in August. The lake was totally empty as was the beach. I waded in and felt my breath catch as I got chest deep. I took a deep breath and dipped under water and started to swim.

It was hard and the waves were pushing me around but I found a groove. The dark of the water didn’t bother me. At one point I went too long with out spotting the bridge I was swimming toward and found myself swimming parallel to the beach when I should have been perpendicular. I corrected myself and kept swimming.

It was so very quiet under the water.

I don’t know how far I swam. I don’t care.

It felt good, awfully good, to just swim.

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!)

Slump

photo credit: Will Forbes

 

I’m in a bit of a slump right now. I’m tired a lot. I’m not getting enough exercise. I’m low on patience for myself and others.

I think I need to swim more. I need to watch TV less. I need to be about 5 times less obsessive about checking my Facebook page and Twitter.

I need to create more and consume less.