Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Last of the Season

Somebody hit fast forward in the Harwood household around the beginning of July. Time has flown unbelievably fast. It's funny that some moments and hours drag by while overall the weeks fly by. I guess that's what happens when you watch a baby get bigger and fatter every day while learning new tricks.

Since July 4th we have taken three trips: one to Memphis, then to Vail for a week, and last week was spent in Little Rock. We're counting down the days 'til we get to move back to a real city (some of us more literally than others), and being in Little Rock reminded us again of what we are missing. Specifically, family, restaurants, Target, people who don't drive massive trucks, bodies of water like in actual rivers, tall trees, green things -- just to name a few. 

I've realized this is my last triathlon season in New Mexico, and while I'll miss a few things, there are some things I won't miss about training and racing around here: the wind, the dust storms, the completely wrong order of triathlons, the lack of races to choose from, the lack of oxygen to breathe, the lack of moisture in my mouth while riding leading to the inability of my tongue to work, the lack of people to train with or who know what a triathlon is, the darn gravel all over the roads, the endless chip seal, and "puncture weed." But really I know I'll be sentimental when we do move; this was the first home to Hunter, and the first place Jeremy and I lived together for longer than a few months. I miss the water, but love that I have only been caught on my bike in the rain twice in two years, and only a couple times have I skipped an outdoor ride because of it. The mountains are right out our back door, and to get to the top and some excellent riding and trail running, it's less than a 30 minute drive. The scenery is just gorgeous, and the sky is really actually blue. I get to see things like roadrunners, jackrabbits, and rattlesnakes regularly while riding and running (still looking for Jeremy's coyote), and we have some fantastic Mexican food for post workout recovery.

My schedule didn't allow me to do every local-ish race I wanted to do this year, but I think I'll round out the season with a couple of military base races. I have raced both before, and both are backward-- run first, swim last -- but you can't win 'em all. I mean, I'd like to win, of course.

At the end of August, even around here where it stays warm for a long time, I start thinking about fall and running in the cool weather. But also I think about how I'll miss my new found friend, the outdoor rec center pool, when they bubble it for the winter. It's so nice to need sunscreen while swimming a workout. Backstroke gets neglected due to the bright sun, and my clear lensed goggles have been fogging an extraordinary amount, but when I can see around me, the scenery, again, is fantastic. To one side are the mountains, and to the other is a row of palm trees. My sweet husband has been coming home at lunch on Mondays so I can sneak away for a swim, and one of these weekends I'm in town, I'm going to double my yardage.

Hunter couldn't get enough of the neighborhood pool in Little Rock. He had a ball, so we found a baby pool in the end-of-summer clearance section. It's not quite the same as having Ethan to splash with, but it'll do for now. We sure miss those cousins already; our house is so quiet and boring! We just wish little Annie could've come too.

It's gotten dark in the mornings here-- the mountain shades us from the sunrise for a while-- so my early bike rides may be coming to an end, just like the summer season. I try to drag it out as long as possible, hanging on to every last daylight moment. But with every end comes a new beginning, sure to be exciting.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the home front

It's a regular nursery around here. We have FIVE baby squirrels living in our back wall, and at least 3 tiny baby quail who live in some bush in the yard. And then we have a baby human who mostly lives inside. The squirrel babies roam around in the garden and surprisingly don't pick the cherry tomatoes that peek out from between the chicken wire cages. I have no idea what quail babies eat, but I can barely even see their cute little fluffy heads over the fresh cut grass. The human baby eats milk, and lots of it. I'm not  having much luck growing my veggies in the garden this year. The tomatoes are ok, the serrano peppers, which are supposed to be 6 inches long, max out at the size of Hunter's little finger. My yellow and red peppers are similarly dwarfish. We planted the okra late, so we've yet to see about that. But the weeds are growing well. At least I can grow weeds and babies. 

I don't even know how to eat these

I was hoping this year as well as last, to be part of a CSA. The deal was last year that you had to work on the farm for your food after the joining fee, but I was never told when to work, even after practically begging. I'm thinking a lot about food lately since Hunter will be getting to sample some in about a month. If he only knew how excited he should be!

Next week he will be 5 months old. He's checking off the boxes too. Interested in grabbing everything, check. Putting it all in his mouth, check. Sitting up with help, check. Rolling over when he feels like it and drooling massive amounts, check and check. He also sleeps through the night (he nurses a few times I think. But who knows, really --Mommy's a little groggy in the middle of the night). Now if he'd just start liking naps more! I mean, whose kid is this anyway? I'm a champion sleeper. But I also have to remember that everything is temporary with babies.

As far as my training is going, I'm just not really worrying about it right now. I still get up every morning to do an early ride or run, but they're pretty short. I've run out of local races except for one in October on base, so I'm just doing it all for fun and to stay in some sort of shape. When talking to Laura the other day, I said I don't feel much mommy guilt for training. But I realized that's why I don't do longer rides or more swimming. Hunter does not like missing meals, and only once has he taken a bottle of milk. (Jeremy said he kept looking at the bottle, then looking at J, then the bottle -- very confusing that this takes just like mama milk!) I hate leaving him for long periods, and I keep thinking that he'll only be this little once. He'll only need me this much for such a short time. There will be other times to do long bike rides and swim more than once a week.
I do love coming home to him. Many times he's in the Bjorn with Daddy, his favorite place, and gives me a huge excited smile when he sees me. Now that's the way to end a training session.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thinner Air

We took a vacation to Vail last week -- actually Jeremy had a conference to go to, and Hunter and I tagged along. I've never been to that area in the summer and it looks completely different than wintertime. It was cool and green and beautiful. Walking a few blocks to the coffee shop to get breakfast every morning in our pajamas, hiking in the creek, taking the gondola to the top of the mountain, and walking the streets just to see the sights are some things we will definitely miss back at home. We miss Charlie too, since we got to see him while we were there. Funny how you can meet up with a friend from 1000 miles away when you're 500 miles from home in a different direction. 

Jeremy found me a race on Monday night about 10 miles away that included one or two times a half mile swim, racer's choice, then a 5k. It's a series, and this was the fourth of five, so I saw in the results from weeks ago that a certain world champion Xterra pro had done the run plus transition in the high 23s. So I wasn't expecting to be speedy. I had  a few concerns about swimming in an unfamiliar lake, since I tend to panic if the water is too deep, too dark, too murky, too clear, there are too many other people, too few other people, etc. The water was nice and cool in the 60s -- warm for them -- and the perfect combination of murky and light colored for me. I didn't really warm up, since I had things like Hunter baby to tend to (nurse) beforehand. But I got in the water with time enough to stick my head under, realize my ring was too loose, run back to Jeremy to give him the ring, and line up again. 

I think there were about 50 of us, and I was to the outside near the back, so I didn't get too many punches in the gut. However, the new combination of a heavy duty sports bra and a larger chest in the same small wetsuit meant I couldn't breathe. Usually I panic for some reason, then get short of breath, then panic more, repeat. But this time I only started panicking when I couldn't breathe to begin with. We went straight into the sun for a while, and my goggles fogged bad enough that I had to stop and wipe them several times. So it went like this: stroke stroke breathe breaststroke try-to-sight breaststroke gasp stroke breathe... for almost the whole lap. By 2/3 of the way through, having not calmed down much at all, and still unable to get a full breath, I decided that I was most certainly not doing the second lap. I really didn't want to be the last one out there. As it turned out there were several people behind me, but they didn't do the second loop either.

This is my "that was the worst experience of my triathlon life" face

Onto the run, I was very upset with myself for being such a bad swimmer, and I kept thinking about how I won't get many, if any, opportunities to do open water swimming again before that half ironman I've signed up for next spring, which will take place in the Pacific Ocean. I felt like I ran ok considering that I was at a higher elevation and had nobody to catch except a random few racers and some joggers out on the paved path by the river. I enjoyed the sights and was impressed that the Westin had a ski lift coming right out from the lobby going straight up the mountain. Very nice. I ran just under 7:20 pace for a little over 5k. It seemed to be one of the faster runs (transition time is included in the results), and I wasn't too far off the pro's time :). 

With that out of the way, I ran every other day we were there. There was a path along Gore Creek going both ways from town, so I alternated. 

The scenery wasn't too bad along the trail

The last day, I found an off road trail on my way back, which of course I had to follow for a bit. I was surprised at my legs and lungs doing well and letting me run relatively fast for being up in the mountains. 

Hunter loves being in the Bjorn these days, so we spent a lot of time hiking and walking. We could definitely feel the thin air when carrying him up stairs and hills. 

We took the gondola up to the top of the mountain, and two of us hiked while one of us slept. 

We did a little swimming in the pool, which Hunter has realized is what he's been training for in the little bathtub all this time; he loves to kick and splash. We're trying to make him watch lots of Olympic swimming.

It was hard to come home to the hot, dry, boring neighborhood where we can't walk anywhere fun, but it's also nice to be home in familiar surroundings. Hunter seems to recognize his things already.

I was hoping the altitude training had given me a little boost, but it seems just the opposite from my swim and run. Oh well, time to focus on the bike power anyway :)