Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Here I am posting after however many days of already neglecting my new blog. Those who know me well, know that I am a champion of distraction, procrastination, and overall confusion. Those who don't know me well, will soon find out.

As the city of New Orleans sinks deeper under water, as the people there who have even survived wonder where they can go to stay dry, where they can get a drink of water, where they can go to the bathroom.... I am here in Western Maryland, not exactly high and dry, as we had driving wind and drizzle today, the fragments of spit left from Hurricane Katrina which has demolished the Gulf Coast. But I am concerned not with how to stay dry, or where I can get a drink, or where to go the bathroom, but with what hardly seems worth worrying about: how tomorrow I will resume training for my Ironman triathlon, after loafing for 3 days in the name of recovery after a 107-mile training bike-ride. Oh, yeah, and a 1.2-mile swim immediately before that, and about a 2-mile jog after... and then a 3+ hour drive home.

For posterity who may be coming in late on this.... at age 53 I have been a marathon-runner for 19 years, and a triathlete for about 4. This means you swim a given distance, get out of the water and onto a bike and ride a given distance, then get off the bike and run a given distance. Why? Because you can. Or to prove you can. Or to see if you can.

The current challenge I have set for myself is the ChesapeakeMan Ultra-Distance Triathlon on October 1, 2005. This is an "Ironman-Distance" triathlon consisting of a 2.4-mile swim immediately followed by a 112-mile bike immediately followed by a 26.2 run, which I will, quite possibly, mostly walk. But in the second half of the year I have spent being 53 years old, this is what I am up to. At least, I hope I'm up to it.

In the 8 days from Aug. 20-28, I swam a total of 5 miles, biked a total of 187 miles, and ran a total of about 18 miles. The bike miles consisted of 80 miles on the 20th, then a "rest" (at least from biking) during the week, and then the 107 on the 28th, an organized (more or less) Century Ride in Reston, Virginia. Swimming consisted of a 2.5-mile swim, a 1.3-mile swim, and the 1.2 before the Century. The running miles were divided into about a 16-mile training run, plus the 2 miles or so after the Century.

Many people who read this already know everything I have just written. But, if anyone 50 years from now has access to this writing, my athletic aspirations may well have passed into oblivion. I might be remembered as a singer, or a photographer, or a reader of bedtime stories, or a gypsy-come-lately who lived nowhereand everywhere with her husband in a travel trailer. But at this moment in my life I would most like to be remembered as an athlete.

This is enough blathering for one day. Hopefully tomorrow I'll write more. I need to record what I learned by my long ride, about how to do long rides. Then, if I forget, I can come back and read what I wrote.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Imagine my surprise on visiting my own blog for the first time and finding I had 5 responses to my first post!!

There is fall in the air today in Garrett County, Maryland. This feels good but it depresses me. The first signs of fall always cause my heart to drop. I can almost feel the thud. Out biking the other day, I saw red leaves on the road. Yes, in mid-August. My husband, a forester, has always dismissed my claims of seeing leaves start to turn on the trees the last days of July. Yet every year I see them, and every year by mid-August I see the first ones on the ground. It takes another two weeks for the less-vigilant to begin to see them, but by Labor Day they are on the way down even to the eyes of the inattentive.

I have struggled for years with the question of why the fall makes me heartsick. It's not that I don't love the cooler, crisper air, the clear skies, the pretty colors -- and with an abundance of maples in Garrett County, they certainly are rich. I am aware with my mind that it is beautiful and sensuously delightful, but my soul does not feel it, only this heaviness, the sensation that everything I had ever hoped for is over. Summer was here and it's gone and I blinked and I missed it.

Oddly, when the leaves are actually down, the trees bare, I feel better. It's over with, I can move on. The true magic wand that lets me breathe again is snow. Just a dusting will do it. an outline of fringe on the unprotected twigs. An embryonic spark of joy ignites tangibly somewhere inside.

I hate scraping my windshield, pouring cat litter under stuck tires, digging a path to where I want to go, just as much as the next person. I do not enjoy the ferocious wind blowing bits of sleet that cut little bleeding dots into my face. But the snow magically lightens the autumn heaviness inside me. It smells good. And I love to see the snow-laden hibernating landscape all winter, knowing that, perhaps like my spirit in autumn, the earth is still alive under its burden.

I won't be seeing snow this winter. As soon as my Ironman is over, we'll be heading south, following the autumn into Texas and then across the southwest into Arizona, where it does not snow in winter, where it stays warm, dry, and sunny. One would think that eternal summer would forestall whatever it is that grips me in fall. But it only seems to me to represent not seeing snow, not having that sense of release and relief when the first flakes touch me.

I am such a puzzle. No matter how long I live, I will never figure me out.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Getting started on what? My story? My life (I'm 53...)?
My story, and my life, may or may not be profound. Or they may each have their profound moments.
Anyway, this is my story.... or will be, as I write it.