Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Laughing at Myself

It does not feel like ten years has passed since I first started blogging about my adventures in far-flung places. This blog started as a response to a friend who jokingly told me I should have a website keeping everyone up to date on where I am at any given time.  It has evolved into more than just a vacation log, and it now includes race reports, random stuff I find, relationship venting, and the occasional profound musing.  

In many ways my life has felt not so much like a stream but more like a class-III rapids.  There have been ups and downs, definitely over the past few years, and this year has been no different.  We always try to plan, maneuver, change, tweak, and hope that if we just do this one thing life will be better, it will be different, it will be amazing.  This year it truly hit me, like the anvil in the Wil E. Coyote cartoons, that no matter what you set out to do, shit is going to happen.  There was very clear evidence of this in the delays to close on my new apartment.  No matter how many hoops I jumped through to keep the process moving, regardless of how accommodating I was to deliver, I have to pay a fairly fee to extend my mortgage interest rate because someone else did not deliver on time.  The seller refuses to reimburse me even though I feel this delay is a product of his broker's disorganization.  I have dropped more f-bombs in the past week than in the previous six months combined.  Now before you write me off as being defeatist, I have not thrown in the towel and eschewed all of my goals and ambitions out of frustration with other people's ridiculousness.  If I really wanted to, I could have found a way to get out of the contract.  Quite the contrary, I am pushing through.  If all goes well, I will own my second home within 7 days.  And I'm just getting started....

I have decided to practice equanimity through humor in 2014.  Rather than get all wound up, stressed, and pissed off at the various curveballs thrown my way, I resolved to stare BS in the face, blink a couple times, and then bust out laughing.  Why the heck should I raise my blood pressure and decrease my life expectancy because someone else sucks?!  No way.  Now, I know this may not be the easiest task, and there are some people whom I won't be able to guffaw in their face.  I also acknowledge that my nerves may get the best of me and I won't find much to laugh about.  The key is, I will practice flexing this humor muscle until it is much stronger and becomes a more habitual part of my life.  I'd also like to finally kick my bike anxiety once and for all, but maybe part of that will be to laugh when I feel afraid instead of bursting into tears or dry heaving. If I can stay good-humored when the fit hits the shan, I hope it will help me stay focused and consistent on the things I truly care about.

Thanks for keeping me company over these ten years.  I have appreciated having those of you out there share my journey, especially those of you I have met along the way who found your way to this page and chose to email me.  Have a wonderful 2014, may you have many good times as well as a few good laughs from the blips along the way.  Go have some Champagne and celebrate!


Monday, November 04, 2013

A Tale of Two Marathons

A marathon is a marathon, right?  No way!  The 26.2-mile distance is not one size fits all.  The experience varies depending on so many factors - course scenery, race organization, weather, you name it.  The same race can be awesome or a death march depending on the year.  With that in mind, imagine running two marathons within three weeks of each other.  Not exactly the wisest race planning on my part, but the point was not necessarily beating my personal best, although I did in one race.  I ended up learning a lot about myself in the process.

Buenos Aires was meant to be a fun race.  It was supposed to allow me to eat and drink whatever I wanted while in Argentina.  Having run outside the US, I was prepared for a more no-frills experience, and the expo definitely had less swag than others.  The custom t-shirt printing and photo booths were really nice touches tho.  We all have some nice memories from the day.  There is also minimal pomp and circumstance on race morning.  We were able to take pictures on the winner's podium, which probably would have gotten us arrested in New York, but otherwise you are on your own for refreshments,

If you're going to run a race in South America, it really helps to speak and read Spanish.  The website is not translated well, and it helps to compare with the Spanish pages.  Moreover, there are some English speakers, but it is so much easier to get around in the native tongue.  We also warmed up with a bunch of Chileans, and those of us who understand Spanish were able to follow along with the coach's affirmations - "You all have earned the right to be here!"

First half of Buenos Aires is pretty cool.  Big boulevards, nice neighborhoods, some spectating.  It helped that a fellow English-speaker ran with me for the first half of the race.  He was an Aussie who used to live in New York, so we had much to discuss that helped the first 21.1k pass quickly.  This all changes around the halfway mark.  There was a fire off to the right as we hung a left through La Boca that we later found out was a Molotov cocktail that destroyed someone's house.  Running under a highway through illegal squats was pretty depressing.  Children waved at us, but the adults did not seem pleased we were running through their backyard.  Otherwise there were no spectators, which is expected near a marsh and next to the commercial shipyard.  Those spectators that were there only seemed to care about their friends, though our USA t-shirts probably didn't help.  At some point there was no shade either, and for the last 10k the sun came out.  Add to that no more water and refreshments at the later kilometers for my compatriots, which is pretty poor.  I managed to squeak out a 9-minute PR, but then trying to find a bus or a cab was sheer torture.  Between traffic and crowding, I'm lucky I located my friends and made it back to the hotel intact.  Lesson learned: arrange post-race transportation ahead of time.  The consomme they prepared for us back at the hotel hit the spot, and post-race steak and Cabernet filled us all up.

New York is a whole other story.  Weekly emails, multilingual support, advertising, massive spectating, the New York Marathon is an Event, capital E, like no other.  It spoils you for most other races.  Plus it's my hometown so I was guaranteed to know racers and spectators.  Having already had a good marathon, and having slacked off in my training after Argentina, I wanted to focus on having fun and just taking it all in.  The Javits Center is about 20 times the size of the BA expo, and NYRR really outdid themselves to make this year even more fantastic.  Getting there is an easy subway ride, and you don't have to speak English.  My aunt even let me crash at her place the night before which saved me so much time.  Getting to Staten Island was a bit stressful as I just missed getting on my ferry, but there was another.  I ended up having plenty of time to get ready on the other side and was able to hang with friends and take pictures.  The energy is palpable in the waiting areas, especially as prior waves take off.  And then in the blink of an eye, you peel off your old clothes and make your way over the Verrazano.  The wind ripped the electrical tape right off my chest within a mile.  Plus you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a police helicopter.  No one was getting away with any funny business.  Brooklynites had a lot of spirit, and I gave out my first hugs about an hour and a half into the race.  It was so awesome to see old friends out there, really kept me going.  Having my phone and texting spectators made a big difference and didn't slow me down.  I made sure to give out big hugs.  Even Hasidic Williamsburg, thought modestly silent, had a decent amount of spectators.  I also had phenomenal splits heading to the 59th St Bridge (sorry Ed Koch, I refuse to change).  My joints started to creak once I hit First Avenue from the headwinds and the cold.  No more PR.  Though I was still excited to see friends, I slowed down a lot and had to stop and stretch very frequently.  I think I even cried a few times from the pain.  At one point I ran into an acquaintance alongside Central Park, and his response to my lamentation was, "Of course it's going to hurt, you're running a marathon!"  My parents were waiting for me at mile 25, which gave me another boost to keep going.  Somehow, I made it across the finish line.  While the Hospital for Special Surgery swag bags were great, the death march to the exit was awful.  The moaning and groaning on the way out of the park corroborated how I felt.  My early exit couldn't have come soon enough!  How my parents thought I'd be able to get to the east side, I have no idea, and it took them forever to get to the west side.  I was really upset to find out once I moved west that I did not get an early exit poncho.  Grrrrr!  Despite all that, the New York Marathon was an awesome experience, and I'm proud to have taken part.

Having my friends and family along the way was awesome, which only reinforced what I know I need in my own life.  Also, it really hit me that I do need to work a bit harder to make my goals a reality, plan better and be more consistent.  It's OK for me to prioritize training and relaxation, and it's not something I should shunt to the side for a deadline or someone else's change of plans.  Most of all, it's OK to not have a solid measurable goal and to just enjoy the moment.  I would like to run faster, but to just be able to run this year and have the race happen, was enough in the end for me.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

No llorer por mi, Argentina

If Spain and Italy were to have a lovechild and stash it far away from the Continent, Argentina would be the fruit of their loins.  It's very Euro-feeling, with the buildings and the wide boulevards, even the Spanish has the cadence and expressiveness of Italian.  For my first trip to South America, I thought another foreign marathon would be appropriate.  Maybe not the best idea leading up to NYC, but I threw race planning prudence to the wind and went for it.  Four of us (was supposed to be five) set out to run Evita's streets and enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors along the way.
Pro tip - do NOT exchange money through official means or use a credit card.  Rather, find someone who will trade you dollars for pesos at almost twice the posted rate.  It makes a huge difference and is so much more affordable.
Carb-loading before the race was not ideal.  For a country with so many Italian immigrants, there is hardly any produce to be found on a menu.  Our usual meals consisted of steak and some form of potatoes.  Boy was it fabulous.  Our first stop once settled into the hotel was La Cabrera.  Empanadas were out of this world, so good that one of my traveling companions took some to go for her red-eye flight back home.  As we would soon discover, requesting the steaks be cooked "a punto" cooks the steak much more than the American palate prefers.  We also had good steaks post-race (more on that later) at Lo De Jesus, although service could have been a bit friendlier and intestines (chinchulines) are not "tripe".  Hands-down, the best steak we had was at La Brigada in San Telmo.  When we finally discovered that ordering steaks "jugoso" was the way to go, the waiter was able to cut our order with a spoon.  Like buttah, I tell you....
Tango is a really sexy dance.  However, it's not pornographic sport-shtupping, there's a plot, and it's not always romantic and loving.  Rather, there is an undercurrent of angry passion, longing, sadness, melancholy.  This comes out in spades at Rojo Tango at the Hotel Faena.  Amazing stuff, made me want to learn how to tango.  As our luck would have it, Steven Tyler was also at the show while in town for a concert, and after the show he had the pleasure of meeting the cast and posing for pictures.  The Puerto Madero area is much newer and swankier (read: more expensive) than other parts of Buenos Aires, but the show and our pre-theater dinner at Osaka were definitely well worth it.
I could feel some of the sadness that oozes out of the tango while walking around town.  La Recoleta Cemetary felt a bit creepy, with coffins exposed within the mausoleums rather than being sealed behind concrete or stone.  Outside the burial site, the political graffiti and demonstrations near the Casa Rosada and the murals that decorate the otherwise bleak La Boca made you feel that the wounds from La Guerra Sucia and prior have not fully healed.  However, this does give the city some soul and prevents it from feeling like any other place. Having a lomo de cerdo sandwich from a sidewalk parrilla that cost the equivalent of $3 is incredible, especially for the quality.  I hope Buenos Aires does not get too trendy and overpriced.
Mendoza was a nice respite after the race and usual hustle and bustle of life.  Despite obnoxious ticket prices on Aerolineas Argentinas (nice work creating a state monopoly, Kirschner), Entre Cielos was the ideal place to relax in between wine tours.  Rest was definitely what we needed after a marathon, steak meals at least twice a day, and then three wineries per day, which the hotel graciously set up.  M and I took advantage of the hotel's hammam, which involved several Turkish bath treatments before a massage.  How heavenly t odo nothing but relax and be pampered.  We ended up visiting Achaval Ferrer, Finca Decero, Septima, Catena Zapata, Ruca Malen, and Vina Cobos.  The landscape is stunning, and while the surrounding areas are not posh like in some American winegrowing regions, it still had incredibly charm.  Brindillas is a phenomenal restaurant, serving a beautiful tasting menu with impeccable service.  While the food was equally as good at Francis Mallman 1884, the maitre'd was a bit rude (aparently our reservation was misbooked but he insisted that reservations cannot be changed) and the service was just OK.
Before our trek home, one of M's colleagues took us for a boat ride on Rio de la Plata, and we floated our way through El Tigre.  The spring weather was perfect for a day on the water and was a nice closing for our South American adventure.  I'm looking forward to exploring more....

Monday, August 05, 2013


Most people have never heard of Sardinia.  The majority of visitors are Italian, so it is somewhat off the beaten path from an American perspective.  Maybe when Anthony Bourdain visited with his wife did it get some attention, although I'd be willing to be most people couldn't find it on a map (it's west of Italy, just south of Corsica).  It's a place I've been dying to see, and it coincided well with TT's Eurotrip with two friends and his cousin.  Convincing them did not take much work, especially since I speak proficient Italian.

My cousin recommended renting a car and taking the auto-ferry.  While this was an interesting experience, I wouldn't do it again.  For starters, TT's choice to decline a GPS coinciding with his cousin's tablet not being able to get turn-by-turn directions delayed us an hour leaving Rome for Civitavecchia, and resulted in much strife. Lesson learned : 55 euros is worth every penny when reducing travel-induced stress.  If we had known that we could have camped out on the ferry, we wouldn't have booked a cabin.  However, seeing the stars over the Meditterranean was a beautiful sight.  It's not often you get to see that many twinkling bodies living in the city.

Olbia is about an hour drive to Santa Teresa Gallura.  While not as glitzy and overrun as Costa Smeralda, it still attracts a good number of tourists.  I stumbled across a cute B&B on Tripadvisor called Domus de Janas.  We had such a great time staying with them.  The proprietors both speak English and are very pleasant.  Our daily breakfast had a lovely assortment of fruit, pastries, homemade preserves, and espresso. Guests have access to two roof terraces, which adds to the experience.  I'm so glad I stumbled across it in my webtrolling.

The local beach is gorgeous - Rena Bianca is packed for a reason.  None of the other beaches really compared to it.  We drove within half an hour to find some of the others and had mixed experiences.  Rena di Matteu required a bit of a hike on some sandy hills, and on the way back to the car I stubbed my toe on a rock and had to hobble with a bloody foot.  Luckily it didn't get infected.  The previous day, when we tried to find the beach, we ended up further down at Cala Pischina, where we had made camp next to washed-up WWII ordnance.  This only became apparent to us when the carabinieri, the forest police, and the military all showed up to remove it.  After that, we stuck to Rena Bianca.

There were some decent restaurants in Santa Teresa Gallura.  I got to try horsemeat and wild boar cold cuts.  Fresh fruit was also quite good.  The real highlight was dining at the nearest agriturismo in Saltara.  We stuffed ourselves silly with pasta, homemade salumi and cheese, and the famous porcheddu.  The house red wine, served cold in pitchers, was awesome.  Our innkeeper couldn't recommend a good local winery, but this was good enough.

My only regret was not staying longer here.  We had such a pleasant time between the beach, local food, and just general relaxation.  Despite some of the logistical difficulties, it was worth the journey off the well-beaten tourist trap paths in Europe.  Buon viaggio!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Third Time's Almost the Charm

The NYC Triathlon is one of my favorite races.  It was my first tri back in 2009, and despite all the logistics involved from registration on still feels like a great local race.  It brings out most of the team, either to race or to spectate.  I've done it every other year since then and was the reason I discovered triathlon and AG.  Hitting 72 St on the run is one of my favorite moments.  For this year I set an ambitious goal of breaking 3 hours.  Given the training I had done and my numbers leading up to my half Ironman, I figured it could be done.  

Since early June I've gained at least 5 pounds and have felt significant periods of fatigue and/or lack of interest in doing much.  I have swum and run maybe four times after the debacle that was Cuse.  The lack of support I get on the home front really disappointed me.  I almost bagged the race and had to jump through a bunch of hoops to race back from my cousin's wedding in Binghamton to make packet pickup.  In the end I decided to go for it, sitting at home watching TV and eating bonbons doesn't appeal much.  Neither does quitting nor doing what someone else tells me to.  I figured I'd go out and have some fun, and hopefully finish the race and feel like I can do this.

The heat and humidity in transition were the most I've experienced in all three tries.  Too bad the overnight rain did not cool things down.  This time around I have been taking in as much salt pre-race as I can, and even got Hammer Electrolyte tabs at Expo.  I waited as long as possible to get my wetsuit on so I wouldn't dehydrate.  Got on the barge with AT, and off we go.  First my frigging new goggles leaked - my favorite pair snapped at Cuse.  It was disorienting for me while right breathing, so I periodically emptied them out.  Lesson learned - TYR special ops goggles are not for me.  As a result, I didn't sight that well, at first swimming too far to the right, then zigzagging a bit.  Other than that, I felt smooth in the water, dropping several people in previous waves.  Close to the stairs, I felt resistance, almost like a current pushing me back.  Maybe I was hallucinating.  

T1 usually takes me a while.  it's a long way back and I usually sit on a bench to pull my wetsuit off.  Off we go on the bike.  I kept coach's voice in my head - "Easy gear to start" Made it out of the park and onto the west side highway.  Felt reasonably well on the way out.  My lower back tightened up a couple of times, and my wheels felt like they might have gone flat.  I stopped a couple times to stretch, check the tires, and drink.  Felt great towards the end of the bike.  Once I got to the run, that's when the heat really got to me.  Lesson learned: need to eat and drink more on the bike.  Had to walk quite a bit, but saw my folks and JT along the way which lifted me up a lot.  I especially got pumped seeing my teammates at the homestretch.

In the end, it was not my best time, but it was not my worst.  In a way it was redemption for my horrible day a few weeks earlier.  Will I do it again?  Part of me thinks, never again in the Hudson.  However, there's a little voice inside of me that still wants to break three hours.  We shall see what the future holds.  Don't call it a comeback!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pay the Piper

Syracuse 70.3 has come and gone. Five months ago registering had relit the spark for my enthusiasm to work out and train for a race.  I shook things up a bit with a new coach, albeit again with a small team, more intensity and willingness to let the workout bring the pain.  I had high hopes for today and did what I could to work toward that goal. Given the timing, a new PR would have been a birthday present to myself.

It's been another four and a half months of craziness, juggling training with health, family time, QT with TT, seeking real estate in a market with low inventory, work, and fun.  Once again it has been a struggle to get everything done. One thing I have learned, life never stops throwing me curveballs, I just have to stay on my toes fielding them.  Add to that a handful of health crises-cancer scare that took seven moths to rule out, parasite, hundred day cough, pulled gluteus medius, adenovirus and strep throat in a one-two punch two weeks before race day.
It's enough to make getting out of bed an achievement, which of course is not enough for me.  I missed a bit of training which made me a bit nervous but figured muscle memory from last year would kick in.

Leading up to race day, I have not felt my best. Even though I managed to hold off stomach issues while bedridden, they have lingered and popped up at the worst moments. Plus, I have felt really tired.  My weight fluctuated a bit, first it dropped (yes!) then felt like it came back. The lymph node near my jaw has not fully subsided either, but I shrugged it off.  Part of me wanted to drop this down to a relay with a friend biking, but the part of me that wants to push and get out of my comfort zone to conquer the bike won. I stuck with pre-race water glugging and cut out alcohol and caffeine for the week prior, doing my best to eat well too.

Left later than expected and hit traffic almost the whole drive up to Cuse. Lesson learned- take the day off. The next day we took it easy in the morning and went to expo in the afternoon. The beach closed for swimming and all the medium size t-shirts were out. Why they don't order based on responses is beyond me -how many XL triathletes and runners do you know? Lesson learned- go to expo early, rest later.  Then anxiety hits on my mini-ride-argh! Pep talk with my coach takes me down. Wegman's for dinner and driving the course made it better.

Race day is here!!! I'm packed and ready. The walk to transition from parking is a good 10 minutes. The bike check tells us all floor pumps have to go back to the car, ugh!!! Ok no biggee. Take it back and put my wetsuit on outside of transition. Then my favorite pair of goggles break after transition was scheduled to close. Nooooo! Luckily I had a spare (learned from last weekend). Crisis averted. Take a gel and get to the water.

And here we go. The water was pretty crowded, and I found myself sighting a lot in the beginning to keep my bearings and bumping into people most of the way out to the first turn. Weeds were not so bad, Lake Sebago in Harriman State Park is worse. Feeling good, felt like a long time to the first turn, but we keep going. During the middle, my stomach felt a little off, but I ignored it and focused on getting to the second turn. The way back to shore seemed shorter, and then I was climbing out of the water. The wetsuit stripper was really handy, and even with the wetsuit removal I finished the swim portion faster than last year by 45 seconds, which probably comes to at least a 2 to 3 minute PR. Solid.

Out of T1 pretty quickly, onto the bike.  My CatEye pops off right as I start. Pull over, go get it, resume.  Feeling good, then come the climbs. Everyone seems to slow down up the hills so I take my  time.  Holding off to drink and eat and just get my bearings, remembering from the drive that the climbs are not that long. Feeling good. Stomach feels a little bloated again early on, stop take a break, get back on. no biggee, if i need to stop stop. Stop at first aid station for a Gu some chomps and more water. Big descent comes around mile 23 or so and I am squeezing my brakes for dear life.  That is where my quad first starts to seize. I tell it to shut up and help me get up the big climb after the descent. The climb is long and I end up dismounting 2/3 of the way up.  I have company so it's not so bad.  Get back on at the top and go. At mile 25 the cramps are overwhelming. A nice guy stopped to  give me two salt tablets so I can try again. I remount and take it slow, and the salt caps seems to work. This is not something I trained with given the weather so I want to see how I react. So far so good, hit some good stretches, roll back my time goal to a six-handle, just keep moving. I think I was so focused on going that I did not drink enough consistently, but started before I really felt the thirst.   cramps return at mile 45. I try to coast down some hills, and even granny gear to go up small inclines hurts. Stop, stretch flood myself with fluids and electrolytes, try again. I told my legs to STFU, almost there. Thought about my coach's voice, my team, everyone who emailed and texted good luck, a teammate struggling with cornea transplant issues, and pushed.  Anyone who saw me at the side of the road shrieking must have thought I was a banshee. It was excruciating and I was determined to make it back for the run. After a while of waiting for it to let up, I felt like i was losing control of the bike. Thinking of my mom and her receiving a phone call that I fell and got seriously hurt, I stopped. A cop found me and radioed the SAG wagon. A teammate who roomed with me stopped but I told her to keep going. I would never want to stop someone else from racing their best for me. It took 20 minutes to get a ride and another 15 to get to transition, and even there they had to figure out how to get me to the med tent. I was in a hot car with cramped legs and two Advil were not doing much. Finally the gurney mobile came by and whisked me away. I got hooked up to an IV, handed a water a chocolate milk and half a banana, and had my blood pressure and glucose checked- they were fine, especially considering all the shit I was stuffing in my gullet. Getting an IV was not bad, the tape holding it down that kept peeling off hurt more. I was miserable. All these other people with finisher medals and me just with a lot of  chain grease on my leg to show for. IV made me have to pee and feel a bit woozy as I discovered when I stood up to go to the port a John
, so they have me come back for a Gatorade.  While in there, thunder struck and the skies opened. With all the lightning they shut down the race. Everyone crowds into the med tent so that the people who actually need assistance can't get in. A golf cart almost hit a spectator yapping on her cell phone, and I don't think I would have felt too bad for her. All my stuff in transition was soaked. After leaving medical I packed my car and attempted to return merchandise to the ironman store. They closed up and told me everything is non-refundable. Lesson learned: never buy photos or clothing from Ironman until after the race. Getting out of the grass parking lot after the rain was a cluster f- since I had to shift the car into low gear to avoid getting stuck on an incline in mud. We got home with minimal traffic so I could lick my wounds in the comfort of my own bed.
I still feel crushed, the product of a drunk frat boy smashing his beverage container against his forehead in a drunken show of bravado. Part of me started to reconsider going for an Ironman or continuing to do tris in general. I feel like maybe I am not cut out for this or should at least lower my expectations. And I only have myself to hold accountable.  Long-course triathlon is a high-maintenance demanding significant other. If I wanted to do this race, I should have prioritized my training over what other people need from me. If I was having problems with anxiety on the bike, I should see a shrink or at least work more on it. If I wasn't ready, I should have assessed my limitations more honestly and backed off so the event would have been more fun. But I wanted to go all-out and reach a very lofty goal. I tried my hardest. And I paid the piper for not bringing my A game.  I didn't fully step toe to toe with my fear of failure and beat it in this instance. But maybe I had to fail now to see it's really not a big deal.

If I learned anything else, I still have a lot of fight. My friend told me I looked like a warrior on the bike course, so I am improving. It is not all for naught. My level of disappointment shows me that I want to still keep at it and keep trying. And I don't have to cross the finish line to be an athlete. (Thanks Galvan)

Next up? Get my shit together a little more. Gather strength to make some tough decisions. out myself first more. that could probably be a better gift than a finisher medal.  After that? NYC tri in three weeks, maybe another half in late September, who knows. My work here is not finished, time to get back in the ring.....

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

It Was The Best Of Times, It Was The Worst Of Times

At midnight we welcomed a new year.  The earth completed another revolution around the sun, and the Mayans and doomsday Jesus freaks whipped out calculators to check their math.  Seeing 2012 off is bittersweet for me, as there were many new beginnings and positive achievements.  However, in a way I'm glad to see it go.  It was definitely a year that felt like a ride on the Cyclone - lots of sudden ups and downs coupled with sharp turns, and at the end your brain is so rattled around in your skull you're not sure if you want to take advantage of the discount and go for another spin.  

At this time last year, I had a lot to look forward to: brand new job, Mom's new kidney, somewhat-new boyfriend, the Olympics, IMNY training, a clean fridge, friends' weddings and babies.  As time passed, I found myself struggling and fighting, seemingly more so than I have in a long time.  After all the work I put into clearing out the food stash mom assembled over years, everything was replenished two weeks after she returned home.  Mom is still alive, I'd laugh to myself, but then juggling work with assisting her left me frazzled.  The bike anxiety I tried so hard to conquer never fully went away.  Sometimes I felt great on a ride, while other times I could barely hold it together.  It's gotten to the point where I have not touched my road bike in three months.   Panic jumped out of the trees during the Escape to the Palisades half, but luckily a friend racing with me helped me push through it.  The anxiety started to elbow its way into other areas.  During crunch time on my first assignment, I almost burst into tears for no outwardly apparent reason.  In a cramped room full of men, that would have been devastating.  Lately I've noticed my heart race if someone drives too close to the cars parked on the passenger side of the road.  

I'm not 100% sure what I'm so afraid of - failure, injury, being alone - but it upsets me to experience it.  Perhaps it's lingering disappointment over missing some great opportunities.  Maybe trying to do too many things left me overwhelmed rather than engaged, or the time spent helping others has been at the expense of my individual goals and dreams.  Significant fatigue has started to ebb and flow, whether I'm over-scheduled or being lazy.  Getting out of bed for early workouts became more challenging, and in one case I blew off a race (I wasn't registered so no big loss, but still).  Since I moved out of my apartment, splitting between my parents' house and TT's apartment means multiple trips back and forth and the frustration of not having everything I need in one place.  Often I overbook or forget about plans and then get stressed when I'm sprinting between obligations.  TT and I fight a fair bit too, mostly over what I consider petty items, which only makes me feel worse. These all pale in comparison to a health scare that took over six months to get some reassuring news, and that's nothing compared to what friends and family encountered with deaths or storms.  

Maybe I'm being too hard on myself, as usual.  This year Mom had her first rebirthday and has been thriving since her transplant.  TT and I celebrated 18 months in October.  I bested my 10k, half marathon, and marathon times and completed my first half Ironman.  My new job is fantastic, and even though I did not add a new country to my passport stamps I got to visit a few new cities.  By collecting rent I have saved a fair bit of money for my next place.  Over the past twelve months I feel very connected to friends and family and have been able to reach out to people I haven't seen in a while.  I feel bad for feeling bad, but it's what I'm authentically feeling.

Coming into 2013, I feel a combination of things: exhausted, guardedly optimistic, hopeful.  This year, instead of setting a bunch of goals and twisting myself into a pretzel to complete them, I'd like to focus more on finding joy every day as much as I possibly can.  I sense the universe telling me to take a break, and it seems better to simplify, take better care of myself, and go with the flow rather than list out a bunch of goals and drive myself crazy to achieve them or feel disappointed when life throws a wrench in the works and it doesn't materialize.  This in and of itself will be incredibly difficult for results-oriented, overachieving, type-A-minus me.  Maybe it's a bit selfish to focus on my wellbeing and stop over-committing, but it's something I feel like I must do.  Here goes....