Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crossing the threshold

The debate starts at 5:15 a.m. when my alarm sounds. I made a commitment to myself last night that I'd swim at 6 a.m., as I do every Tuesday. I meet my friend, Susan, there, and we do laps and challenge each other with springs and laps.
I didn't confirm with Susan last night, so, as my alarm goes off at 5:15 I tell myself that I can just sleep in and tell Susan I didn't hear from her last night, so I wasn't sure if she was going to go. How awful is that? I would blame her for not confirming with me. It's not her responsibility!
Susan sent a text to me around 5:25 a.m. She doesn't drive and she wanted a ride. She gets ready at the gym, and this morning she was wearing a suit that she didn't want to wrinkle on her bicycle.
"Sure," I replied. "I'll pick you up at 5:55."
Thank goodness for friends and accountability. Had I not heard from her, I would have slept in. Once I cross that threshold from sleep to up and at 'em, I'm fine. In fact, this morning I had the best swim I've ever had! I swam a 300 in about 10 minutes, which is the longest set I've done. It's 100 meters shy of the Tri for the Cure, which I really struggled to get through in 17 minutes.
What is it that is so difficult about crossing that darn threshold from those comfy sheets and cushy pillows? I lay there and debate with myself and I remind myself that once I get up and get moving, I'm going to feel better and enjoy the swim. I'll feel powerful for having started my day with a swim and resistance training.
But these sheets feel ssssooooooo goooooooood.
It's like the first dip into the pool. You know it's going to feel cold. It's going to wrap your body and chill your skin, and your jaw is going to tighten as you brace yourself against the cool temperature. Then once you get moving ... it's nothing.
Thank goodness for my fried, Susan. Thank goodness for accountability. Thank goodness for my To Be Re family.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

People watching

I gave a lot of thought to the loss I experienced this week - the end of a relationship, perhaps the greatest love I have known in my 43 years (not counting a mother's love for her son, of course).
I told my friends that I am a better person for knowing and loving this man. I have more compassion for other people, and I am less judgmental.
At least, I thought I was.
My judgment of others was put to the test Friday night as I attended a fashion show at the trendy Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale.
To those of you who don't live in the area, the name of this establishment suggests a pay-by-the-hour enterprise, but be assured this hip urban boutique hotel is somewhat of a landmark in the Valley.
The fashion show was poolside, and as my friends and I awaited the start, we settled in to do some people-watching. I realize that people-watching is just another way to say "judge others," so you don't have to point that out.
The VIP area in front of us quickly caught my attention. A stunning 20-something blonde with shoulder-length straight hair in a tight-fitting aqua blue dress arrived on the arm of a squat middle-age man. Her entire right arm had a tattoo "sleeve," which is gonna look like shit when she's 50, but I'm getting off topic. Otherwise, she was drop-dead gorgeous.
The couple joined three other squat 50-something men and their 20-something dates.
As I watched the group, I kept asking myself, "Why do these people bother me?"
I thought about the ex-wives these men likely have collected, along with children who are likely the same ages as their dates. I thought how ridiculous the men looked in their tie-less suits, dyed hair and round bodies next to these svelt beautiful young women.
I judged the hell out of these dudes, and they probably didn't deserve it. Obviously they've done well for themselves, and they wear mid-life crises well (except for the tallest of the men ... he's had some bad plastic surgery.)
I watched the blond with the sleeve tattoo lean into her man and say something to him. I wondered what the two of them could possibly have in common to discuss. Maybe they were doing the same thing that I was doing - people-judging. We never seem to be too old to do that.
I chastised myself for spending so much thought-energy on people who were oblivious to my existence. And who were hurting no one by being together, as far as I could tell.
My judgment wasn't about them. It was about me feeling hurt, sad and angry that something I'd worked hard for - for nearly two years - and believe in 100 percent had failed.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tapping out

A guy I know, who I’ll call “Dan,” because that’s his name, sent me a message a couple months ago: “In your online dating series, you should do one about when we met, and I looked at you and tapped out ‘cause you were too cute.”
Online dating series? Really? I like the idea. ‘Cept I’ve been out of that scene for quite a while.
Anyway. Here’s what happened: Two years ago, Dan and I connected through Match.com. After a few e-mail exchanges and a phone conversation or two, we met at Scottsdale Fashion Square and had a bite to eat at Kona Grill. Midway through the meal, Dan said something like, “I’m going to make this easy on you. I don’t have a shot with you, do I? You’re out of my league.”
What does one say to that? How do I respond?
If I said, “That’s not true,” I would be lying. I didn’t feel chemistry, but it had nothing to do with any “league” nonsense.
You either have chemistry with someone, or you don’t. I met a couple dozen men through that Web site, and had mild chemistry with only a few and major instant chemistry with only one.
And, thank goodness, we don’t have chemistry with everyone we meet. Could you imagine? We’d be like … Tiger Woods.
Meeting Dan was a great lesson in vision.
My son and I regularly have this conversation. He says, “I can’t,” and I say, “Well, of course you can’t. If you say you can’t, then you won’t.” If you envision yourself succeeding, you have a greater chance.
Tonight I had dinner with an acquaintance visiting from Ohio – who I hope moves from acquaintance to friend – and we talked about envisioning ourselves doing what we want to do.
I used swimming as an example. For 42 years, I thought of myself as a non-swimmer. Well, let’s make that 30-ish years, because I’m pretty sure infancy through toddlerhood all I thought about was drooling and pooping (I got the word in again, Mary).
When I first got into the pool, I flailed around and broke several fingernails as I clung to the side of the pool gasping for air. “I’m never going to get this,” I told myself.
Had I adopted that as my mantra, I would have surely drowned. I definitely would not have completed two sprint triathlons.
I now practice envisioning myself gliding through the water with ease, gently rolling up to take a breath and pulling myself through with strong arms. It’s working.
This is not to say that things with Dan would have worked. It’s not to say that we will get everything we want. But think of opportunities missed because we “tapped out” early.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Get this thing away from me

Completed my second sprint triathlon yesterday - 400-meter swim, 8-mile bike and 2.5-mile run.
I continue to struggle with the swim.
Last week, my swim coach introduced me to a Tempo Trainer, a small device that's about the size of a peppermint patty, that beeps. The swimmer's goal is to do arm strokes to the tempo of the beeps. We started with one stroke every 1.5 minute, and she encouraged me to move up to every 1.3 seconds. She said that 1.3 will be the slowest I'll use, eventually. The body has memory and becomes conditioned to certain tempos. Right now, mine is conditioned to, oh, I'd say flailing about and making waves. It moves to a beat of a different TT, let's say.
At my swim lesson, I was excited to use the Tempo Trainer. For once, I focused on something other than my strokes and kicks and just moved through the water to the little blip, blip, blip of my Tempo Trainer. In fact, I took fewer breaths using the TT, on one lap taking only two breaths! Go me.
This, I thought, is really going to help me on Sunday at Tri for the Cure.
My three friends - Lori, Debbie and Aubree - and I scouted the site Friday afternoon. Imagine my shock to learn that the pool is a 50-meter pool and not a 25-meter pool, as I have been practicing in. "I can do this," I told myself. "You can do this," my friends said.
Sunday morning, during the pre-race meeting poolside, imagine my shock and horror when, as the host reads the rules of the race, I hear him say, "No swimming on your back."
But that's home, I thought to myself. What am I going to do if I can't go home? I've been swimming for only five months, don't they know that? When I get tired, I roll to my back and kick like mad.
All week, I'd been envisioning myself gliding powerfully through the water. I can swim, you know. I CAN swim.
"171, 3, 2, 1" the guy with the timer told me as I pushed off the wall and started my first lap.
I don't get it. I'm a brilliantly talented swimmer when my swim coach is standing on the side of the pool, and then I turn to a flailing maniac when the whistle blows. When I practice during the week, I'm somewhere between brilliance and mania.
My 400-meter swim took me 17 minutes. My boyfriend and To Be Re friends stood poolside cheering me on. "Are you OK?" they asked me at the end of Lap 4. I nodded yes, but I wanted to tell them to get me the F out of this water.
At the end of the sixth lap, I pulled the Tempo Trainer from under my swim cap, handed it to my boyfriend and said, "Get this thing away from me." The steady blip, blip of the TT became like a nagging voice in my ear singing, "Stroke, Stroke, Faster, Faster, Why-are-you-slowing-down, Zip, Zip, Come-on-come-on, Slowpoke, Slowpoke, Nanny, nanny boo boo ..."
Seventeen minutes. I lost count of how many women passed me in the water.
My cycling was my strongest stint. NO ONE passed me on my bike. NO ONE. I lost count of how many women I passed while riding my beautiful Jamis.
I completed the triathlon in 1:08:52. Not the time I was hoping for, but (1) I finished, (2) I did the swim without rolling onto my back and (3) I finished that f-ing 400 meters.
My goal for 2011 Tri for the Cure is to finish that swim in half the time.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ta-tas are way sexier than tickers.

One thing I love about my job is that I get to learn a little bit about a lot of things, which makes me think I might be good, some day, on "Jeopardy."
We are going a special section in az magazine for May to promote Go Red, the heart-disease awareness campaign for the American Heart Association. Our team and the AHA's team recruited a bunch of well-known Arizona women (Gena Lee Nolin, Brenda Warner, local news anchor Sue Lin Cooney, to name a few) to pose for a photo that will be used for the AHA's billboard and magazine campaign.
I learned that heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women, yet when we're surveyed about top killers, we name breast cancer.
Heart disease beats out all cancers combined.
Thanks to great awareness efforts like Komen for the Cure, breast cancer has moved to the top of our awareness lists. Those pink-ribbon marketing folks have done their jobs superbly.
And, let's face it, breasts are sexier than hearts, and we've always thought of heart disease as a man's disease.
I also learned that heart disease is more preventable than breast cancer. Our controllable risk factors include diet, tobacco use and exposure, weight, alcohol use and physical activity.
Breast cancer has become more easily detectable and treatable than it was in the past, thanks to the pink-ribbon folks who've pounded in our heads to get regular mammograms, especially if we have family histories of breast disease. And these days, we don't have to dig deep in our family trees to find that.
You likely don't have to dig deep in your family trees to detect heart disease, either. Ladies, this is not a man's disease. Our tickers need regular check-ups, just like our ta-tas do. Treat your heart to an annual trip to the cardiologist.
I saw one for the first time this year, and he detected mitral valve prolapse. Nothing to concern myself with at this point, because I maintain a healthy lifestyle. I don't drink, I don't smoke and (for the most part) I eat well. But none of my family practitioners before him found that MVP.
I'm definitely not bashing the boob-lovers! In fact, next Sunday, I'll participate in the Tri for the Cure - another breast-cancer fundraiser/awareness event (wanna sponsor me?). But the little-red-dress people have some work to do!

Thank you for listening to this public-service announcement. I promise to return to my usual drivel about life, love and things that annoy me.