Sunday, May 8, 2011

Breaking up with Jimmy Dean - Polar Bear Tri Race Report

I'm back!!!!!!!!  Race reports are fun to write and gives me a chance to reflect on my performance.  And since school is winding down - perhaps I will be more consistent.  

Yesterday was the season opener of the tri season in Maine and I was there – PolarBear Tri at Bowdoin college.  I have this mixed bag of emotions now that I am a day removed from the race.  It was definitely – the good, bad and the ugly!

Picked BFF, Jen, up LATE because of an early morning snafu – a whole other story in and of itself – and we arrived with about 15 minutes before transition closed.  This is a strange race that starts with a pool swim so there are multiple waves that go off all morning.  Jen’s wave was at 10:05 and mine was at 10:30 so it was major HURRY UP and then WAIT for like two and a half hours.  I personally like getting to a race venue SUPER EARLY – but wasn’t going to happen this year.

Goal for the day – improve upon last year’s time.  Secret goal of the day – come close to placing in AG. More on that later.

One of the best things of the day: My coach competes in this race!  So that means I get some personal encouragement and pre and post race chat.  J  I am really close to his mom and dad (work with his dad at the high school) so they cheer for me too!  My coach competes at the professional level and travels to many of his races, so it’s rare that I am at ANY of his races and he at mine.

Jen and I wandered around the race for an hour or so, watched a few waves go by and seriously watched the fastest wave of swimmers.  And then booked it outside to watch their transitions – super smooth.  

Nothing extra in the transition area – everything is at a minimum.  They don’t wear socks with their bike shoes and racing shoes.  Talked it over with coach prior to the race – not worth the risk of blisters today – keep the socks on for the bike and run.  We will maybe try it during a brick – but I seriously DO NOT want stinky bike and race shoes.  Weird – I know.  But both are brand-spanking new and I have a few too many stinky shoe relationships.  I have shoe crushes right now and hoping this feeling lasts for a little while longer.

Went for a warm-up run for 20 minutes and did 10 accelerations, went in to check on my wave and discovered it was up next!  Oh crap.  Time to go.  Coach gave me some last minute tips for transition, the bike and the run and I was off.  Grab goggles and cap, shed all extra clothing and hit the deck.

I was nervous sitting on the deck waiting for my wave and warned my lap counter that to leave the “last lap” signal in the water waaaaaaaaayy longer than normal.  Had a little incident last year where I didn’t see it and did an extra lap! Slightly embarrassing!

Pushed off and tried to get into a rhythm.  The Bowdoin pool is beautiful but I always find it disconcerting to do flip turns when the markings on the bottom of the pool are on an angle.  My lane was on the area of the pool where it was angled from shallow to deep.  Tried to keep my core rotating to breathe and not lift my head too much.  My goal was to swim smooth and steady.  I wasn’t ready to go ALL OUT, seeing as this was the first race of the season.  I know I could go faster, but, I was scared to blow up later on. 

Of course, even though I strived to stay on-task with counting laps……I lost count. And it felt like forever until I saw the last lap sign waved across the end of the pool.  Gave my counter the thumbs up for making sure I saw it and pushed for one more length.  Glanced at the clock to see what time I ended up with: 9:36.  Not bad.  And now, I’m off to transition.

I really wanted some free speed from transitions.  Ran to my bike.  Helmet on; glasses on; socks; bike shoes Velcro tightened, grabbed my bike and off I went.  I knew I had a smooth transition and there were still guys at the rack that had gotten there before me.

The first part of the bike felt a little slow.  I was trying to keep my cadence up and get my legs working.  Passed a guy who just looked weird.  He wasn’t wearing a helmet.  Yelled to him thinking that he just forgot to put it on.  Turns out it wasn’t there when he got to transition.  That just sucks.  He probably knew he would be DQ’ed but raced anyway.  I don’t think I would have left without my helmet.  That is taking a chance that wouldn’t be worth it.

The bike course “seems” flat, but it is really a whole bunch of little inclines that forces you to work harder than you want to.  I really wanted to keep an average speed of 19+ mph but was having a really hard time doing so.  It might also be that I haven’t spent enough time riding outside this spring.  It’s just not the same riding the stat bike or the trainer.  You can’t simulate hills. 

Only one girl legitimately passed me on the bike.  Two other girls did later in the bike – but I’m not going to count those two because they were CHEATING!!!!  They were drafting in a tight little pack with three other guys.   They kept switching off the pull and just conserving energy.  I hoped they were the ones with drafting penalties at the end.  Who knows?

About three quarters of the way through the bike, I remembered I forgot to have a GU pre-race.  Yikes.  Oh well, I’m okay so far.  Legs did feel sluggish, but I attribute that to early season bike fitness.
Ride into transition two – almost hit an elderly gentleman who crosses the opening where right before you dismount.  Of course I yell, and then he freezes right in the middle of the driveway.  He doesn’t know where to go, so neither do I.  “PICK LEFT OR RIGHT!  PICK BEFORE I RUN YOU DOWN!!!!”  He was like a gray squirrel who darts into the road in front of an oncoming car.  “Which way do I go? This way or that way?” Finally he chooses to retreat to the right and I swerve left.   Old guy crash averted!

Transition two felt super quick too.  Helmet off; bike shoes Velcro ripped; new Zoot racing shoes – slip in and tug the laces; race belt on; and grab the Garmin.  I had already zeroed out the Garmin and just pressed start as I crossed the T2 mat. 

First ½ mile was 8:25ish and just tried to get my cement legs moving as fast as I could.  I know it takes me almost a mile before my legs feel okay, so I just keep moving and glancing at my Garmin to stay on pace. 

I reached the first aid station and noticed my GPS has only clocked .87 of a mile.  The aid station clearly says “Mile 1”.  What a crock!  But then I was hopeful that the course was a little short – no such luck! 
Mile two was sortof, how do I say this, UGLY!   Legs slowed down quite a bit, but we are now on a trail run for the duration of the race and I don’t mind that as much.  A few fast chicks pass me and I wish I could make my legs go with them.  Strange how your mind won’t let you push past the fatigue.  I hit the mile 2 aid station and see that the Garmin registers 2.2 miles.  So Tri Maine is off with ALL of its course markings.  HACK!  And they ran out of Subway when I finished my race.  All they had left were these pathetic pieces of bread and peanut butter.....I just finished a triathlon and they want me to make my own pb & j.  Are you kidding me?  It's not like we pay $75 bucks or anything!!!!!  But back to the run!

The good thing about this is that I only have .8 miles to go and it’s a small loop back around the trail.  I am actually able to pick up my pace a little bit and pass a few people on my way to the finish.  Again, I glance at my Garmin and now it reads 2.87.  Not bad – only a little further.  A little further, 3.0.  A little further 3.1.  WHAT?????  Finally, I emerge from the trail and see a photographer friend from Capstone Photography who recognizes me and gives me a little boost.  Only a sprint to the finish and I want to look strong coming in and not like I am about to puke. I’ve done that before – right at the finish.  But not this time.

So many fellow KBTC teammates at the finish cheering me on.  Love that!  I just LOVE my teammates.
So many KBTC friends got podium finishes – Keith, Todd, Joe, Jen R. – Wow!!!! BFF Jen – JUST missed third place.  So close….her time would have put her 2nd last year – me too for that matter. 

So the here’s the breakdown:

  • ·      3 minute 27 second improvement over last year
  • ·      did not do extra laps
  • ·      Transition 1 – 50 seconds!
  • ·      Transition 2 – 53 seconds!

  • ·      bike split – awful – down 2.5mph average from last August races
  • ·      mile 2 of the run.

  • ·      me in my tri kit. 

Someone should have told me I looked like a stuffed sausage! Ughhhh!  Just the motivation I needed to get SUPER SERIOUS about nutrition.  I know there is a fast runner chick inside crying to get out!

Okay.  Let’s do the math.  I can lose thirty pounds.  Seriously people.  I am carrying a small child around with me when I run.  I. am. not. joking.  In fact, if I was to be completely lean and runner-like I probably could stand to lose 40 lbs.  I wish I was exaggerating – but, sadly, I am not.  In fact, I have already lost about 10 lbs. since the beginning of March.  I wish I didn’t LOVE food quite so much.  It’s soooooo good and soooooooo bad!

So, I run an 8:00 min. mile at race pace.  For every pound you lose – you also lose 3 seconds per mile.  So that’s 75 seconds off my mile time.  That means I would be running  a 6:55 mile without any additional run training.  That would put me at a 21-ish 5k. 


It’s right there in front of me!!!!  Just get serious about my nutrition and I’ll be looking at the top of my Age Group! 

Okay all of you former chubby runners out there – help me out.  I’ve read your blogs – I know the journeys you all took.  It’s time for mine.  For real this time.  I am going to need some MAJOR support.  It’s almost like I need a sponsor for this.  Maybe even a twelve step program.  Someone to call when I feel myself wanting to fall off the wagon.  I live within a ¼ mile of a Dairy Queen, BK, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Chinese restaurant, Starbucks and a Dunkin Donuts.  I am probably going to need multiple sponsors on speed-dial!!!

I am going to print the picture of me at the Polar Bear for motivation.  I will print a dozen copies and tape it to the inside of the refrigerator, inside my lunch bag, on the dashboard of my car.  Anywhere I may feel my willpower slipping.
Goodbye to the stuffed sausage in the tri suit.   Jimmy Dean and I are O-V-E-R!!!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Setting goals while running naked!

After about a two-second deliberation, I decided to try and work things out with my blog.  We have been having issues lately.  I told it "it's not you, it's me."  We've had a few "breaks" but I believe in commitment, so I want to work things out.

Sooooo...I'm setting goals while running naked!

No, I'm not an exhibitionist.  Actually, probably the furthest thing from it.  You see....if you are more well-endowed in the upstairs region - ironically - you tend not to call attention to your assets.  Meanwhile, anyone who wants a little upstairs padding is willing to pay big $ for it and then put it ALL out there....

So not what I was going to write about, but I am taking a cue from Mary Iron Matron and dipping my toes into "going there" when I feel I shouldn't.

So the title does mean something.  After my first month of base training and a HORRIBLE month of searching for my run fitness - I am setting goals and I am running naked! This is my lame attempt to drum up some more non-tri friend followers by appealing to their voyeuristic tendencies.  Not out of some vain self interest -- but more out of a OMG can't stop looking at a car accident sort-of thing.

Alright -- I probably should have some pictures -- but they would be really boring.  For my non-tri/running friends, running naked is just running without any sort of feedback, music, running partner or device to distract you from the hour of monotony.  So that means for me -- no Garmin (GPS watch that tells me my heart rate, my speed, and how far I have left to go), and no Ipod with Pink, Adam Lambert & K$SHA to drown out my heavy breathing.  Just me, myself and my thoughts.

A couple of reasons for this:
  1. I have become obsessed and neurotic about the Garmin numbers.
  2. My Ipod battery died, needs recharging and I haven't plugged it back in.
  3. My triathlons are run semi-naked and I need to occasionally rely on my feel for my race.
  4. It's one of those rare times during my day -- that I get to think about whatever I want to think about.  Not what I am going to get Elijah to eat for breakfast, when I am I going find time to plan my grammar lesson or what I left in the pantry for dinner.
The Garmin neurosis should be a positive -- but it has become a negative.  I am so concerned with my HR jumping to 170 at glacially slow running pace that it becomes a hinderance to any enjoyment on a run.  Not that I truly ever loved running.  But most days I didn't mind it.  And some days I even actually liked it.  But lately -- it's been this "oh my god -- it's climbing again/well...I think this is a hill so that may be why the HR is spiking/yikes there is major decoupling/I am going so slow/why in the hell am I going to Nationals in August with my run speed like this/I just suck!!!"

Yesterday -- I ran naked and had a great run.  It was beautiful outside.  The yucky roadside slush had reduced to where I could at least jump over most of it.  I had no idea what my HR was and my breathing seemed fine.  So then I could just concentrate on my goals and my upcoming race season.

Here are the races I have in mind:
  • March - Eastern States 1/2 marathon (never done anything more than a 5k in an "official" race, so God help me.
  • May - Polar Bear Triathlon
  • June - Mooseman Olympic Tri
  • July - Black Fly International Distance Tri
  • August - Gloucester Fisherman Tri & NATIONALS in Burlington, Vermont
  • September - Pumpkinman Sprint Tri
I'm also going to throw in a few 5k and 10k races between the triathlons and then thinking about maybe even the Kennebunk Firemen Tri and/or the Maniac Tri.  

So now that I have my race schedule solidified -- time for goals.  I know Mike (my coach) is going to want my goals within the month, so I've started thinking.

Last year's goals:
  • Break 25 minutes in a 5k (24:40) -  CHECK
  • Place consistently in my AG - PolarBear (4th and very close); Kennebunk Firemen (3rd); Pumpkinman (3rd); and Maniac (3rd) - CHECK
  • Qualify for Nationals - CHECK
  • Increase average bike speed to over 20mph - 20.5 and 21.4 in two races -- CHECK
Once I started being coached by Mike -- things changed DRAMATICALLY!  My previous swim workouts were just the "warm-up" from Mike's plan.  Although having Mike for a coach is a little overkill - I LOVE IT!  What I mean is this: it's like some old guy playing in an intramural men's basketball league at a community center coached by....say.....Michael Jordan.  Severe overkill -- but oh well.  How many times in my life am I going to be able to say my coach is a professional athlete? (husband as pro beach volleyball player/coach not included - we all know how my husband "coaching" me worked out! )

So this year's goals.........Goals 2011 (sounds like the old Clinton National Education Goals 2000 initiative)......drum roll please.......
  • Lose 20lbs. to help me get "runner lean" and give me some free speed.  (The upstairs twins probably hold at least 8 of those to get a breast reduction!)  I know 20lbs. seems like a lot -- but people are always shocked to hear what I really weigh - as if I couldn't possibly weigh what I do.  But I do and it needs to go!!!  Jen and I have been going Paleo -- more Paleo for Athletes -- me more Paleo for Athletes + some dairy and low-carb bread and sugar-free chocolate.  (shhhh.....don't tell Jen and I HAVE seen some caveman bowling and eating dinner out on the Geico commercials - so it's plausible they eat milk, bread and chocolate!)  I am losing even with my transgressions.
  • Break 22 minutes in a 5k.  At the end of last season, Mike projected that we would take 3 - 5 minutes off my 5k this season.  Damn.  I'm a little scared -- but if he believes....I'll believe.
  • Break this damn 3rd place plateau in my age group.  I would LOVE to win my AG just once.  It's probably like anything else though - once you win, you'll want it again and again and again....
  • Compete with the really, really fast girls. You know who you are and I want to be right there with ya!
  • Drop my average 100 yd swim time to below 1:30.  Just two weeks ago - I jumped into a master's swim practice and equaled my last year's avg. of 1:40 without anything but TI technique and long slow distance training.
  • Increase average bike speed one mile per hour - depending on course - gotta start concentrating on single leg drills. :)
  • Survive the Olympic distance -- well more than survive -- but I really am scared about the jump from sprints to olympic.  I want to jump to half iron next year - but Olympic feels so "racey" to me.
Life Goals (even if I have to wait until I hit the 60 - 70 year old Age Group):
  1. Make the National Team and go to the AG World Championships
  2. Qualify for Half Iron World Championships
  3. KONA! enough said.
So.....I've got some very ambitious goals and time is ticking.....I'm off to the pool to start working on that 100m time.  And I probably won't be running naked much once I start working with Mike again.

Here's to my on-again/off-again relationship with my blog and a few more weeks of running NAKED!

Hope the neighbors don't mind ;)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

slowly blog that is.

Digital Overload

I can't keep up.  I can't.  I've said it.  I like blogging.  I LOVE reading other people's blogs.  It's one of those after dinner/before school work/before putting my son to bed, type of wind down from the day activities.  I connect (by myself) with others in the triathlon world -- albeit remotely and from a distance -- but, it reaffirms that I am not alone in trying to slog through workouts....and life.

I don't really slog through life.  Life is terrific.  But sometimes, well, more than sometimes -- it's just too damn busy.  I am a full-time English teacher, own a photography business, a triathlete, a wife and a mom.  And to add to all that -- I chair an eleven member English dept., and advise both the yearbook and newspaper.

I think it's time to give myself permission to let go of the blog occasionally and not feel guilty.  I have this wonderful friend.  She is also an English teacher.  But she also is the most terrific homemaker, making amazing dinners and baking for her family, redecorating her house, starring in local theater productions, etc..  She is simply amazing.  And then she started her blog -- which I LOVE.  But she started 28 days ago and she has posted a blog entry 28 times!!!!!!

I can't compete with that.  And why the hell am I trying to compete at all?  Well, if you know me -- that really isn't a difficult question to answer.  The point is -- I shouldn't be.  Who the hell cares if I post every few weeks?

Part of the problem is that I think I have to have some profound idea or craft some clever writing in order  to be "blog worthy."  Again -- who the hell cares?

I can't keep up my digital life....and it's slowly dying.  Facebook, Daily Mile, Twitter, Google sites, SKYPE, my website, email (4 different accounts for all different reasons), three listserves, texting, apps......... I think I could go on, on, on, on, on, on, on, on........

I LOVE information. I spend my day sharing information, showing how to access information, analyzing information, synthesizing information, creating information, removing information, appreciating information.......and when I get home -- I think that I can't process any more information.

Yes, reading blogs is taking in more information -- but it's temporary.  I connect with someone's experience, relate it to my own and let it go.  Maybe that's why I LOVE those horrible "Real Housewives of Wherever" programs -- they have absolutely NOTHING to do with my life and when the program is over -- I can let it go.

Hats off to all of you who can keep up.  I can't.  I hate being that kid that can't keep up with the bigger kids.  And in most cases -- that would motivate me to work harder.  I don't want to be left out.

But it's self preservation at this point.  I will make appearances when I can.  When I can't -- I have to let it go.  I have to let myself "dump" my digital life.

But today -- we're "back together."  I'm worse than a teenager.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 Favorite Photos

Happy New Year!!!  And the best way I know to look forward -- is to look back a bit.  Today I look back at my year in photography.  I do some part-time photography in my spare time (yeah right - what spare time?)  And I rarely look back at photos from the year -- they just languish and die in the microchips of my computer hard drive.  It's good to reflect on what on what was done well and not so well.  I won't share the "not-so-well" -- I've already reflected on those.  But I will share a few of my others.

My FAVORITE photo sessions are of high school seniors!  There are only a few times in your life when I really believe you need to do a "formal" photo session - when you are born, when you get married and when you become a senior in high school.  I love high school kids during the summer before their senior year.  They are excited about FINALLY becoming a senior and at the same time a little bit nervous and feeling vulnerable about their future.  I love to capture that in a portrait.

Some of these photos have never been seen by anyone other than the senior and me.  Some of these photos are not ones the client chose so they would just live in my computer files forever.  I tend to like some of the more artistic, more unconventional portraits - but that isn't always the way high school seniors' see themselves.

Tomorrow -- I'll do a look back at the year in general.  I probably should have done this last week.  But now that is 2011 - it is truly a "look back" at the year of 2010!

Happy 2011!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Believe - 2011 Tri Season

Dear Coach,

It's been a long off-season (probably too long.)  And now I am ready to swim/bike/run into the 2011 season.  I got some new toys for this season -- a Garmin, leg compression sleeves, arm warmers, a new training partner, new Aquasphere goggles (that actually fit my face) and a new dedication and focus for the season.

As you know, this is my last season in the 35 - 39 year age group category.  I need this year to be THE year to take triathlon to a new level.  That darn 40 - 44 year old category is so DARN fast!!!  I want to be ready for it and need to gain some speed in the 2011 season.

So here is my race plan for 2011

YMCA Indoor Tri - Mar. 7th (just to feel some speed again even though I will still be in the base period)
Eastern States 1/2 marathon - Mar 27th (the end of my base training)
Polarbear Tri - May ?
Mooseman Olympic distance Tri - June 4th
Black Fly International distance Tri - July 9th
Gloucester Fisherman Sprint Tri - August 7th
Age Group National Championship - August 20th
Pumpkinman Sprint Tri - Sept. 10th

My "A" races are definitely the Mooseman, AG National Championships and the Pumpkinman Sprint.

I have been getting back into swim/bike/run gradually but more consistently these past two weeks.  I am following Joel Friel's "Your Best Triathlon" base training so I'll be ready for a butt kicking once I get to you in March.

Coach -- I am being serious -- I am ready for whatever you have to dish out....track workouts, bike intervals until I puke, constant salt water hair......I'm ready.

BTW - I won't be ready for the nutrition portion until after January 1st, 2011.  These are my last few days of indulgent eating.  I know, I know, I just makes me have to work that much harder on 1/1/2011.  But the biggest sacrifice and commitment I am making is to the nutrition piece.


Doing the calculations -- I can shave 4 minutes just by dropping the weight I need to.  You did say we were going to drop my 5k time down 3 - 5 minutes this season.  This SCARES and EXCITES the heck out of me.  This would put me @ 19:30 - 21:30.  HOLY COW!

I need to get in the right mindset for this.  And the theme for this year (thanks to you and my tri BFF Jen) is BELIEVE.

There are obstacles in my way from now until August -- no doubt.  But if you lay out the plan - I will push, run, bike, swim, crawl, lift, puke, cry and scream my way to the end.  Sometimes for me it is the mental part of triathlon that gets me in the end.  If you provide me the physical tools -- I will work on the mental one:

I will believe.

See you in March coach.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

First "Race" of the Season - a long way to go....

Today was my first race of the new season.  Well……wasn’t really a race – more of an organized run.  It was for Operation Jack, a satellite run for Train for Autism.  My tri BFF Jen talked me into running it and I finally registered the day before.

This was before:

Let’s just say – the during wasn’t pretty.  I definitely had an off-season after my last triathlon.  I trained from January all the way until the end of September and really needed to not do or think bike/swim/run for a long time.  I complied for the most part about the “do” but definitely not about the “think.”  But “thinking” did not help me today. Some "doing" might have made it a lot better.

This morning – 18 degrees.  BRRRRRRR……no……effin BRRRRRRR.  And this would be the one time I don’t bring eight different outfit options with me.  Jen showed up at 7:00 a.m. and I picked up another runner friend, Misty, and off we went up to Southern Maine Community College for the run.
Now – the longest distance I’ve done in a  strictly running race is a 5k.  I actually swore I wouldn’t ever do a 10K – I was going to jump up to the half-iron distance  and skip over the whole Olympic distance triathlon.  Today – I did my first 10K…….and not well.

Granted  -- let me get my “excuses” out of the way:

  1.  Started base training three days ago.  Running on the dreadmill, at a speed I am embarrassed to admit to, yielded a 169 heart rate three days ago.
  2. Prior to three days ago – no running since the third week in November. I was up to 8 miles at that time. After that: nada – because…
  3. I got very sick right after Thanksgiving – bronchitis and pneumonia that basically trashed my lungs for almost three weeks.  Strong, strong antibiotics, and orders forbidding me from running and had to stay out of the cold air as much as possible.

So today was my first 10k “race.”   Two words: it sucked.  The air was so cold and raw that it felt like all my airways constricted.  I was breathing really shallow and basically my lungs burned for the first two miles.  Thank God Jen was there to distract me from myself.  I vaguely remember her singing Christmas carols and pointing out a Santa that had fallen drunk along the route(I think it was an inflatable one – but I can’t be sure.)  The pace was glacial for her – but she is an awesome friend and stuck with me. 

Oh and one more thing about the route – how in the hell can there be that many HILLS in one South Portland neighborhood????  For crying out loud – Jen finally just said “don’t look up.”  She kept asking me these questions – I don’t even remember what she asked me – but my answer was the same “Do you want me to puke?”  Literally, it was the answer to at least four separate questions.

Alas – one foot in front of the other – I finished.  It was one of those terrible, awful runs that you just have to get through.  And I did.  I looked at my Garmin close to the end and realized that I was close to breaking 60 minutes.  I did.  Whew.   

Oh man. Six months from now I need to be sub 45 minutes.  This is where I begin.   Bring it on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

If you really knew me.....

Today I gave over a hundred hugs.  Today my principal sat on my lap.  Today I danced on a chair.  Today I put my arm around a kid who mourned the loss of a childhood he never had.  Today was Challenge Day at Biddeford High School.

Challenge Day is a 6.5 hour experiential experience for high school students to help them understand that it is okay for them to be real and show who they really are. 

I’ve done it a few times.  The first time blew me away. I had no idea what to expect.  I had never heard of Challenge Day and knew nothing about it.  The second time, it was good – just not as good as the first time.  I took last year off and wanted to let other teachers have a chance.  And this year, they had trouble finding adult facilitators so I said if they needed me – I would do one of the days.

I expected that the third time would barely register a blip on my emotional temperature. I know the drill -- we play games, listen to the leaders' stories, get in our families and share our stories, walk the line, write our cards and go home feeling good about ourselves and everyone in the room.  I know, I know, I sound kind of jaded.  Yes, all those things happened.  But I decided to make it different today -- for me.

There is a section during the day where they talk about "dropping your water line."  They use an iceberg analogy to explain this.  Icebergs are huge -- but only a little bit shows above the surface.  If you could look below the water -- there is so much more hidden under there.  People are like icebergs.  They only show about 10% of who they are -- mostly their "image."  The other 90% exists below the water line.  This is the real stuff.  This is who you really are.  This is where you hold your emotions like fear, jealousy, loneliness, anger, and your hopes and dreams.  They encourage students to "drop their water line" and show the stuff they hide away.  They encourage the kids to get "real."

Usually when we get to this part of the program, I think through what I am willing to share with students and pre-program it in my brain and then do my sharing.  Today was different.

All the adults have a small "family" group of four or five students. We get together and each student has two minutes to share "If you really knew me you would know...." I had a student who not only the had the courage to share first, but shared the most heartbreaking and heart-lifting story.  For confidentiality purposes - what is said in Challenge Day...stays in Challenge Day.  But let's just say - this kid has NEVER known what it was like to be a child....ever.

In that moment, I forgot what I had pre-selected to share with the students and when my turn came -- I said whatever came into my head and my heart.

It's funny.  The whole program is designed to help students get real with who they are, but today it was me.

If you ever have a chance to be an adult facilitator for a Challenge Day -- do it once.  If you would like to do it in Biddeford -- I can get you in.

Today I played hug tag.  Today I danced an Irish jig with 125 other people. Today I saw a thousand tears fall for all the kids who have been teased or bullied, lost a parent, suffered physical or emotional abuse, or just felt completely alone in a building filled with a thousand other people.

Today I was challenged to "be the change I want to see in the world." (Ghandi)

So, I begin here.

If you really knew me......

You would know that I am most proud of being the first in my family to earn a college degree and now a master's degree.

You would know that the hardest thing I have ever done is let go of a guy I loved who was hurting me.  That sounds like it would be easy to do -- but it truly wasn't.

You would know that one piece of good news from my life this week is that my in-laws want to come and watch me compete at the AG national championships next summer.  It kind of touches my heart that they would want to travel to watch and support me.

You would know that my husband and son are the most important people in the world to me.  Although sometimes I get caught up in my job, activities and interests -- I couldn't derive any enjoyment from those things if it weren't for those two in my life.

You would know that my relationship with my family is complicated.  While I resented my father's stern and gruff manner growing up, I now treasure the moments I have with him.  He instilled in me a strong work ethic and a sense of if I am going to do something -- I am going to do it the right way the first time and to the best of my ability.  He has begun to teach me woodworking and taught me how to build new doors and faceplates for my bathroom cabinets.  He has a heart condition and I worry that I might lose him.  My relationship with my mother is not the same as it once was -- for many reasons.  I need to continue to work at that.  I guess I am at that age where I have begun to truly fear the day I lose my parents.

You would know that my favorite part about teaching is pushing to kids to think.  It's easy to just require students to do work or complete assignments.  It's much more difficult to help kids LEARN and thinking leads to learning.

You would know that my biggest dreams are to write a book, get my doctorate, qualify for Boston and Kona and make Team USA in triathlon.  I might have to wait until I hit the 60 - 70 year old age group to do it :)  But damn it -- I want to wear a uniform that says USA and represent my country at the world championships.  I've often toyed with convincing Cabela's to sponsor me in skeet shooting for the next Olympic Games.  It's one of the only sports I can start now and have a shot at making an actual Olympic team.

You would know I speak my mind.  I hate to hurt people -- sometimes to a fault. I dislike conflict and avoid it for as long as possible -- which I know conflicts with the "I speak my mind."  I am ultra-competitive.  I am a hard worker.  I am a procrastinator. I am afraid of pain.  I love and hate the mental challenge of triathlons.

If you really, really knew me you would know that I'm not as confident or assertive as I appear to be.  I think it is challenging to make real friends.  I have a lot of acquaintances but I tend to personalize EVERYTHING and that leads to insecurities.  I do have a small core of women that I trust and know that I can be "me" around and know that they will support me -- warts and all.

If you really knew me you would know that I am full of contradictions -- good and bad.  And this drives my wonderful husband crazy!

If you really knew me you would know that starting and writing this blog is one of scariest and most vulnerable things I have ever done. I constantly think....why would anyone care what I have to say?

After today, I challenge myself to think....why wouldn't someone care what I have to say?

If I really knew you.....what would I know?