New-ier and improve-ier for 2007.


Race Report: SORT tri, Version the (VERY) Verbose

You need to know this about me: I am a champion sleeper. I can fall asleep anywhere, sleep through anything. I slept between contractions through both labors with my daughters – sans epidural. I’ve slept in bathtubs, in airports, under desks.

The night before Spirit of Racine, I could not fall asleep.

I dutifully went off to bed at 9:30, lay down, did my mental run-through of T1 and T2 and. . . lay there. I refused to open my eyes to look at the clock, but my watch beeps on the hour, and let me know that time was ticking by. 10:00. . . 11:00. . . 12:00. I did a relatively good job of keeping myself from freaking out over it, figuring that relaxation and rest was better than nothing It was what it was, so I should just ride it out and see what would come of it.

It was a mindset that would serve me well in the hours to come.

I think I finally drifted off sometime before 2:00. My alarm sounded at quarter to five, and I dragged myself out of bed to get ready for the day ahead. Everything was packed. Nutrition was consumed. The morning was clear and cool – an absolutely perfect day.

Hooked up with Portly Training Partner and headed down to the start. Busted out the cheesy sing-along music in the car. It’s easier to forget that you’ve got a stomach full of butterflies when you’re raucously encouraging Virginia to laugh with the sinners instead of crying with the saints.

Achieved rockstar parking at the race – two blocks from T1. Muy bien. Got everything all sit-chee-ated just the way I wanted it. Met up with our friends who were also doing the tri: Tall Man, Liz, and Tara, as well as SherpaDave and HotSteve, who were there to cheer us on.

We walked down to the lake, laughing and talking. Then we got closer, and the chatter came to an abrupt halt.

I thought I’d done my due diligence regarding the lake swim. I’d spent time over the course of several weeks putting in the open-water practice at the lake. It had been a little wave-y, a little bobbly. But nothing that I couldn’t handle.

Apparently the lake had decided that it could afford to wait and bide its time. I’d been over-confident, and now I was going to pay for my insolence. There were some very large waves, y’all. Very.

And I was very large scared. Very.

I made myself go out and swim around some, so that I would know what was ahead of me. I hoped it would help my confidence level. I got totally dunked by a wave on my way back to the beach and came up sputtering and coughing.

Confidence? Not helped.

I had trouble remembering to breathe. Standing with my wave. On the beach. I wondered if I could sneak off my swim cap and wetsuit so I didn’t have to do this stupid, asinine thing.

Tall Man’s wave left. Portly Training Partner’s wave left. I pulled it together enough to say a quick prayer for his safety (he pretty much refuses to put his head in the water and is what one would call a “weak swimmer.” If they were being charitable.).

Far too soon, the air horn signaling the start of our wave sounded. We splashed into the water. And the fight with myself began.

For those of you who regularly do ocean swims, the swim probably wouldn’t have been a big deal. But I was lacking both physical and mental coping skills, so it was a grit-fest from the beginning.

The first time I went to reach for water and felt nothing, I freaked. And the second time. And the third. I’ve sucked down enough water in my training that I coped reasonably well with the faces full of lake water I’d get as waves washed over me when I tried to breathe, but it’s still never pleasant. I was in full-out panic mode, totally hypoxic, even though I was hardly making any progress. Keeping myself swimming any sort of stroke at all was a challenge. Continuing to put my face back into the water took every ounce of awareness and concentration I had. My form was, I am sure, utterly spastic and inefficient.

”You’re a damn fool. You’re going to drown. You can’t do this. Turn around and go back. It’s only a stupid bet.”

NO! Keep going. You’re just scared. Calm down. It will get easier. It has to get easier. Just relax. Take it as it comes. You have the whole day ahead of you.

Then, shortly before the first buoy and the turn and the promise of not having to swim directly into the mother.fucking.waves, I swallowed a deluge of water. And it came right back up. Precious.

”Niiice, puker. Seriously? Will you turn around now? Can you not see how totally dumbassed this is? Look. That chick is calling for a BOAT to come help her for Jebus’ sake!”

Cram it! Man! What is with all the whining? Sack UP, ho!

And then, it came to me. The mantra that would give me some focus, pull me through the water, take me past those people ahead of me that were totally losing their shit, through the part where I once again got rolled over by a wave on the way into the beach, and bring me staggering up onto the sand.

I don’t know what, if anything, the content of the mantra says about me. Please keep in mind that this was total spur-of-the-moment inspiration and not a pre-meditated choice. Try not to judge.

My swimming mantra (which has completely become a brain worm which I cannot seem to shake. I cannot confirm or deny whether I’m singing it under my breath right.this.minute.) was Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy?”

Um, you can feel free to pretend you don’t know me now.

My watch read 21:something when I got out of the water, which is slow even for me, but I had finished and not died and even managed to sight the way I’d hoped. I then had the fun run through the sand to the transition area. I jogged it, but my stomach was still queasy from the rolling and the shots of lake water I’d slugged back, so I didn’t push too hard.

T1 was textbook. Stripped off the suit, rinsed off my feet, put on socks and shoes, had a gel, got on my glasses, helmet, and gloves (right-side out!), and I was good to go.

Immediately upon commencing the bike, there’s a big-ass hill – pretty much the only hill on the course. I relaxed and went up at a comfortable spin, giving my legs a chance to find their groove. The course followed mostly-shady city streets, and there was just a little bit of a headwind, which felt nice. I was trying to push my pace up, but had a tough time (um, headwind, brainy girl). The course was an out-and-back with a loop on the far side. My inlaws’ house was right at the beginning (and end) of the loop, so I had a big fan club there cheering for me, which was nice.

At the top of the loop, the biking started to feel a lot easier (tailwind!), and I was consistently up in the 19-20 mph range, even on the flats.

The ride back in was pretty uneventful. I felt good. I drank a bunch. I stretched my neck a little bit. I eased down the big-ass hill (seriously GENIUS move having the bike dismount right at the bottom of that, folks), dismounted and trucked into T2.

The plus side to my lack of appropriate bike shoes is that it makes T2 pretty darn quick. The negative is that my feet are numb for pretty much the first three-quarters of a mile of the run. But, they were working, and the longer bricks that I’d been doing had trained me to just chill out through the numbness and focus on my knees/hamstrings for that part of the run. The feet would sort themselves out.

The run was just a simple out-and-back, part of which was run through the zoo. I could’ve done without the animal scents at that particular point in the race, since my stomach was getting a little cranky with me, but it was just a few minutes, and very heavily shaded.

The run course was pretty sparsely populated as far as the spectators went. But, except for the part in the zoo, it went along the lakefront, so at least there were some spectacular views to distract you.

I locked in on a petite short-haired woman who was about 200 yards ahead of me, and decided that I would catch her by the time I finished. I passed a few people, although not very many. Sprint triathletes are some DANG fast runners!

I kept looking for Tall Man, and didn’t see him. I was impressed, figuring that he had beat me out of the water by a large margin, and had a great bike and run, finishing before I’d started. But, shortly before the turn-around, I spotted him coming back the other direction. He did not look good. Later, I’d find out that he totally freaked out during the swim and ended up backstroking the whole time, pushed hard on the bike (and forgot to drink), and got hit with really bad stomach cramps at the beginning of the run. He finished the day feeling very disappointed with himself, which isn’t ever an outcome that you want for anyone.

We had a little bit of breeze going out, but once we turned around, the air felt totally dead. I started to get warm and wanted to be done, so I pushed the pace up a little bit. I still had a ways to go to catch up with the tiny lady.

I hit the two mile marker, checked my watch, and was pleasantly surprised that I was ahead of my predicted pace. The last part of the run was downhill, and I just cranked it. I caught the teeny woman about halfway down the hill. I hit the three mile marker and started getting all hot-and-cold and goosebumpy, but it was only a minute more of running and then I’d be done. I can handle anything for a minute. I crossed the finish going hard and feeling a little bit tunnel-vision-y, but I did remember to smile for the finish photo. (Never let it be said that I don’t implement my lessons-learned from previous races!)

I feel really good about the race. I felt like I actually raced it, instead of just trying to make it through, and I didn’t blow up at any point. I hung tough through the swim, and I know that I can do it now – I just need some more choppy open-water swims so I can improve my skills and comfort level. I had enough in the tank to really push at the end of the run, but not so much that the pushing felt easy. It’s a solid effort to build on, and I’m looking forward to seeing where I can go from here!



Tall Man in a Little Skirt

Since Tall Man got beaten by a chick, he got to play a little v-ball in a skirt.

Isn't he purty?



Race Report: Spirit of Racine Sprint Tri, Version The Pithy

750 m swim, 13.3 mile bike, 5K run

Swim: 23:43.71 (158/238, 50:28/mile pace)
T1: 3:20.82
Bike: 44:57.20 (148/238, 17.8 pace)
T2: 1:10.84
Run: 28:14.81 (153/238, 9:06 pace)
Overall: 1:41:27.38 (149/238 overall, 7/14 ag)

Terrifying swim. Improved bike. Improved run. Yeah. I'll take that.

(Oh, and Tall Man's overall time: 1:48:25.46. Heh.)



Throwin' Down: reeeeeeally ol' skool-style

Remember thou, my children, yon December last, when first I, Gee of the Vee, agreed to partake of the loss of mental faculties known as triathlon? When my Portly Training Partner, in fury and face-saving-post-snowy-5k-schooling desperation, demanded a rematch at the Spirit of Racine sprint tri?

Lo, these many months have seen mine plodding turn to striding. Mine mashing turn to spinning. Mine flailing turn to. . . something ever-so-slightly better than flailing. The bricks hath rained down on me, and they were beheld, and they were good, if by “good” one meaneth “painful but effective.”

So it came to pass that the Portly Training Partner did not partake in the monthly rigors of sport, thus ensuring a victory for thy humble servant, Gee of the Vee, but a victory that tasteth bland and mealy.

And in the circle of acquaintance of these two tri-warriors, there dwelleth one known as “Tall Man.” Tall Man couldst not stand idly by and let thy noble narrator, Gee of the Vee, so blithely float to victory and rights of bragging thereafter. For Tall Man had an ego of insurmountable proportion, and also a skill for the speaking of boasts, and also a much-protested secret love for thy humble servant, Gee of the Vee (and really, yo, who wouldn’t? I gots it goin’ ON! Uh, race photo-esque proof to the contrary.).

Tall Man harkened to the days of his youth, whence he did battle with the tri-beast, and emerged victorious. Tall Man goaded Gee of the Vee (thy sweet and modest and gentle and COMPLETELY never-smack-talking bard of this tale) into wagering on the outcome of Spirit of Racine.

Aye, the sense of Tall Man is outweighed mightily by his competitive spirit and also his sense of athletic ability, and thy dainty and retiring maid, Gee of the Vee quails in her delicate soul to be pressed into such service of delivering yon tri smackdown.

And yet, this manful boasting and metaphorical chest-beating shall not, nay CAN NOT be borne.

Tall Man, mark this well: It. Is. On-eth.



Get bent, Lemony Snicket

Dear Lemony,

You seem to have mistaken my life as of late for an installment in your children’s novels, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

Example 1: As documented in the post below, I drove my bike into my garage. And when I say “drove,” Lemony, let’s think “pile driver” rather than “piloting.”

Example 2: After my Monday-night swim, I had a HORRIBLE night of sleep, and woke up a whole bunch of times with my body feeling like my heart was totally racing. When I checked my heartrate, it was pumping along at a nice, steady 48-50. It was just the muscles in my arms and chest that were tripping out, like there were electrodes attached or something. It freaked me out, Lemony.

Example 3: During my five-mile run yesterday, I was hit with an epic level of stomach distress. I NEVER get nauseated when I run (with the exception of the ill-advised, eating-disordered early-morning team runs in college to “purge” the excess pizza and alcohol from our systems). I had to stop for simultaneous ab workout/defuel TWICE. Once I got home, though, I was fine. Can you tell me, Lemony, what theeeeeee hell that was all about?

Example 4: During my volleyball match last night, I served a point and felt a very unwelcome shot of pain across my right shoulder. Immediately thereafter, setting became toe-curlingly painful. Lemony. Buddy. Come ON. A rotator cuff injury FOUR days before my real, live, proving-ground-type tri? Seriously?

I’m sure this is amusing to you and all. And if I believed in omens, I would be an absolute SPAZ right now. But, between you and me, this is getting PRETTY tiresome. And as one of my employees said the other day, “you don’t want to mess with her. She will cut you.”

So let’s knock this shit off, Lemony. Don’t make me tell you twice.




Y'all, I am so traumatized.

I had an awesome (if REALLY FREAKIN HOT) ride yesterday on the Spirit of Racine bike course. It was slow, but steady.

I loaded my bike back on my roof rack and headed home.

When I was almost home, I received a call from my client site. The application that I support was throwing errors, and the data center wanted to know what they should do.

I was talking the server ops guy through the correct order to restart the various servers while I turned into my driveway and pulled into the garage.

With my bike. On my ROOF RACK.

There was a horrific crunching noise. Followed by some horrific profanity.

The front wheel is toast. The Yakrack is also toast. My garage door is slightly worse for wear. But, preliminary inspection does lead me to believe that my Grey Lady's frame is okay.

My Rav4, though, is sporting some NASTY headwounds.

I need to suck up the humiliation that will be involved with taking my poor battered girl to my LBS for triage. I hope that she'll forgive me in time for Saturday.

I am SUCH a dumbass. :(



My first race photos.

It cracks me up how you have this mental image of the way you look as you're racing, and then you see the photos of yourself and it's all shot to heck.

Veeg says, "What in the HELL do you want?"

Veeg's midsection says, "Mmmmmm. Muffin."

Veeg says, "Whoo yeah. I SCHMOKED that chick in blue. And now, I must make a face as though I may vomit."

I suspect that Danskin will be contacting me ANY.DAY.NOW. with a spokesmodel offer.




I rode the route this morning that left me feeling like ass (with a little help from a beyatch of a virus). I've been avoiding it out of superstition and fear ever since.

But today, I sacked up.

And it was beeyouteeful. 30 miles. 16.somethin pace, including the stop to re-attach my bike bag and all of the waiting for lights (hate). Demons banished, baybee.

Tonight, I swim. Tomorrow morning. . . 15 miles.

It's like I think I'm athletic or something.




It's Bike To Work Week at my client site. I was planning to make the 16-mile trip this morning, despite the 80% chance of thunderstorms in the forecast. But when I got out to the bike this morning, the front tire's tube had left this mortal coil. And the tubes that I have? Wrong size.

There's always tomorrow, right?



Race Report: Danskin Chicagoland, Version The Verbose

3:30 is EARLY, yo. I really did not want to get out of bed, but I knew that I had not set a back-up alarm, so there was no “I’ll get up later” available.

Had a protein drink and a bottle of water. Waking up way early always does a number on my stomach, and Sunday was no exception. But, I anticipated it, and went with what I knew I could tolerate.

Double-checked my bag. Then triple-checked. Started to quadruple-check but felt a little OCD, even for me. Applied aloe to my sunburn. Stretched and massaged my cranky calf. Tried not to wear a tread in the floor from all of my nervous pacing.

Pulchritudinous Training Partner arrived about 4:30, and we were off.

We watched the horizon turn cotton-candy pink as we drove to the parking area. We got on a shuttle right away, and had no problems or time worries at all. We were just relaxed and smiling and having fun. It was awesome.

Got my transition area set up (I had a super easy-to-find spot – straight out of the swim exit, down to the first port-a-potty, hang a left. I am so glamorous!). We walked over the swim start, just enjoying the incredible morning. It was clear and mild and beautiful. We played in the lake for a while, and then PTP had to go get set up for her wave (she is a cancer survivor, and so was in Wave 3. I had a leeeeetle bit longer to wait.)

The lake was warm. The sun made it glow like liquid gold. I got all choked up during the Star Spangled Banner. I made some new friends waiting for the start. Sally Edwards does a bang-up job of encouraging and motivating the waves before their start, but I do have to say that the spiel did start to lose a little of its luster by the 21st iteration.

I thought that I would be all butterflies and jangly nerves. I totally wasn’t. I was happy. I was calm. I was looking forward to getting in that water.

So then. . . I did.

I positioned myself pretty much dead-center of the pack. I was hoping for some drafting and sighting guidance, and wasn’t afraid of a bit of smackage. There was a little bit of bumping and grabbing, but I think an all-women event tends to be a bit kinder and gentler in that respect. It was definitely not freak-out inspiring.

I quickly settled into a good pattern, with a decent amount of space around me. 20 strokes, and sight. Stay long. Stay streamlined. Roll the hips. I smiled in the water. I had been SO afraid of this, just a few months ago. And now it felt. . . good. And fun. This was totally the best part of my whole day – I felt totally strong and invincible.

I got a wee bit overconfident, though, and switched to sighting every 30 strokes. Bit of a mistake – I soon found myself having a lovely conversation with some very helpful folks in kayaks. They were wonderful people, but I’d just as soon skip that friend-making opportunity next time.

With about 200 yards to go, I felt a familiar but rather unwelcome sensation – boot to the head, goggles going haywire. Apparently, my sighting didn’t include the near area quite thoroughly enough, and I missed the backstroker from the previous wave in my path.

While I’d learned my lesson from the training swim, and had the straps UNDER my swim cap, I still needed to stop and get the goggles from my forehead back over my eyes. And once I did, they leaked. Stroke, stroke, dump out water, stroke, stroke, dump out water. . . not making for very fast progress. I finally managed to squinch my eye mostly shut so that I could make my way to the swim finish. I glanced at my watch after coming over the mat, and it read 17:43. I was pleased that even with my ziggy-zaggy swimming and goggle issues, I’d turned in a sub-20:00 swim.

Suit off. Bike shorts on. Feet dried. Socks on. Shoes on. Helmet on. Glasses on. Gloves. . . YARGH! Gloves inside out. Hate. Turn gloves. . . turn gloves. . . turn gloves. . . turn gloves. Gloves on. Go!

I got too spazzy while mounting the bike and had the misfortune of stepping ON my toe clip and jamming the clippie part down so it hooked under the pedal. (I don’t know how I misspelled that word, but it just autocorrected as “panda.”). Cussing ensued. I decided not to attempt a stop/get off/fix it maneuver, because there were people POURING out of T1, and I was afeared of causing a wreck.

The bike was mostly: “Tailwind: Yay!/Headwind: Boo!” And admiring the hawt tri-chicas from the later waves that blew by me like I was standing still. Day-um, I need to work on my bike skillz.

The winds. . . blew. At one point, I was on a decent downhill, hittin’ it in the big gears, and was not even hitting 18 mph. Feh! Momentous internal cussing.

The volunteers out on the course were GREAT. So supportive and awesome.

I had a lot of fun out there. Played some tag. Tested some limits. It was all good.

I glided to a stop at the bike finish, and PTP was there with her husband. They were going crazy yelling for me, which was really fun. I ran across the mat and allllll the way across the transition area to re-rack.

Bike on rack. Helmet off. Race belt. . . urh? WHERE is my race belt? Tear through bag. Nothin’. Hate. Oh well, just gotta run.

Wow. This. Sucks.

None of my run-offs have ever felt this. . . gooey. It’s not that it was humid. It’s that I felt like I was in one of those dreams where you’re trying to flee some terror and just can’t make your body move. Struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle. I felt like a fly stuck on a porch-strip.

As an added unpleasant bonus, my feet were numb from the biking, which was a new and unexpected sensation. But we were running along a beautiful lake, under a perfectly blue sky, and I can handle any suckiness for half an hour, right? Right.

I ran. Felt like I was plodding. Tried to pick up the pace. Failed. Chanted “light steps! Lift knees! Feet under! Hammies up!” as I ran. Tried to actually implement the slogans. Failed marginally less than the pace.

Hit the 1 mile mark.

Got a second wind.

The last 2.1 miles were just. . . fun. I wasn’t going fast, but I was at least able to ratchet up a bit from the death slog that I’d been feeling for the first mile. There was an out-and-back section where you could just watch all of these women, at all different levels, streaming past you, and wonder about what their stories were and why they were out there and what they were feeling right then, and it was awesome.

And then, the last half mile along the lake, you could hear the crowds, and the announcer, and see the finish line and the women crossing it with their arms held high. It was just an incredible rush. PTP and her husband were there right before the finish, cheering for me. The Weez and the kidlets were just beyond the mat.

1:37:49. And so it begins.



Race Report: Danskin Tri, version The Pithy

That? Was SO. MUCH. FUN! Is it wrong to be champing at the bit to go train right after you've finished a race?

Overall rank: 959 of 3620
Class Rank: 145 of 379
Swim: 17:31 (rank: 1562)
T1: 4:38 (note to self: turn biking gloves right-side out BEFORE you need them)
Bike: 43:44 (rank: 1036, MPH: 17.0)
T2: 1:56
Run: 29:59 (rank: 953, pace: 9:40)


3:00 a.m. eternal (well, almost 4:00, I guess)

I'm racked. I'm packed.

I took a page from the Book of Bolder and got myself sunburned yesterday. Brilliant!

Mis-estimated the amount of rub-off from my wetsuit, AND the number of hours I would need to be standing in line outside.

Danskin = one HECK of a lot of women, all crammed into a little area.

I'm outta here at 4:15, and I can't stop smiling!



The last stage is Acceptance, right?

First off, Iron Pol is the best Tri Big Brother a girl could ever hope for. He gets many, many thanks for all of the encouragement and positive reinforcement!

I went out to do my long run yesterday evening, which I was supposed to do last weekend, but family obligations/vacations interfered. So, whaddayagonnado? Adapt and overcome, right?

The sun was setting orange in the sky. The sky was streaked pink and lilac. The air smelled like wildflowers and fresh-cut grass.

Running felt like kinetic joy. My legs felt light and springy. I couldn’t stop smiling. And I remembered, again, what a privilege and blessing it is to be able to train. I am physically and mentally healthy. I am financially secure. I have an amazingly supportive husband. I have available time.

Around the 6-mile mark, my left calf started to complain. A year ago, heck, five months ago, I would’ve just been done. I would’ve stopped. Phoned home for a ride. But that limit – the instinctual fear of pain during the run -- doesn’t exist for me any longer. I evaluated what I was feeling – what was the sensation telling me? No damage. . . just the start of a cramp, maybe a tiny tear. Nothing that wouldn’t be better by morning with the judicious use of ischemic massage and stretching. Change up the gait. Keep going. All is well.

I thought about the other limits that don’t exist for me any longer. Six months ago, I couldn’t swim 200 yards with my face in the water. This morning, I completed a mile swim.

Four weeks ago, I thought that I couldn’t sustain a sub 10:00 pace for more than five miles. Last night, I did my 10-miler at a solid 9:40 pace and felt great.

Two days ago, I thought that I couldn’t both get my head in the game and come to terms with “just finishing.” But last night, as I ran along the tree-lined trail at dusk, and the fireflies danced around me like I was some Disney princess, I realized that there is no “just” about finishing. I’ve come so far this year, and it’s only a hint of the possibilities.

Sunday’s race is a benchmark. And an important one. But not one that needs to be feared, any more than I should fear a scale or a ruler or an IQ test. It’s just a measure. And measures do not define who we are. They are just guideposts on the journey – not a destination.

As I watch the last rosy light fade from the sky last night, I remembered a quote that I used to keep next to my computer monitor, so I would look at it often and remind myself of its truth.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson



The Avatar

He showed up in my dream last night.

Same “confident, not cocky” smile (an old joke between us: “Crispy, not crunchy. Confident, not cocky.”) Same mischievous twinkle in his eye. Same flecks of early grey around the temples, just underneath the faded Notre Dame cap. Same feelings of being towed along in his presence, without any will of my own.

In my dream he says, “Stay and have dinner with me,” and DreamMe thinks, “I have to get home to my girls!” But DreamMe pulls out a chair, orders a drink, smiles as the floaty adrenaline-laced laughter-to-the-point-of-tears feeling reels her in, makes her stay longer, longer, longer.

It’s been many years since I’ve seen him. Many years before that since he had the ability to inspire the floaty feeling that blotted out all will and reason. But my subconscious likes to trot him out as handy shorthand whenever I feel that I’m in a situation that is spiraling out of my control. My own little Anxiety Avatar.

It took me a long time to realize what his appearance in my dreams meant. For years, I thought it meant that I wanted to flee the confines of my current situation, because no matter what it was, its draw was always inconsequential in the face of attention from The Avatar.

It’s disturbing, to say the least, when you’re haunted by dreams of former love in the nights before your wedding, before giving birth to a child, before moving into a long-planned home. But experience does occasionally bring insight, and although I’m no Fibonacci, I’ve learned to spot the pattern.

When I am standing at the edge of change, staring into the abyss, watching the events of my life teeter for an instant before they rush Niagra-like away from me, he appears. When life’s fire leaves me molten and awaiting the forge, or ashen and awaiting a rise and cry to the new dawn. . . he reminds me that I have borne this heat before. I have allowed my world to lose its order, whirl crazily like the snow granules in a water globe, nauseating and thrilling and wild and unpredictable until they once again settle. And they do settle. Of course, not exactly as they were. . . never exactly as they were.

Which is, I believe, The Avatar’s point.

Danskin is bearing down on me like a freight train. Actually. . . no. I have no suitable metaphor for the way it is rushing toward me, weighing on me. I alternately view it as some sort of momentous crucible, from which I will emerge A Triathlete, and as a mere formality. . . a blip on the road to Somewhere Else. I think the truth of the matter lies between the two. Or, perhaps more accurately, it lies equally in both extremes.

I am gut-wrenchingly afraid of failure, although what that means specifically. . . I find nearly impossible to define. I want more for myself than “just finishing,” and yet, I can’t even begin to hope for more than that. Do I have the audacity to dream big? Am I willing to risk failure to see what I’m capable of?

I do not risk failure readily. And simply toeing the start line puts me at far greater risk for failure than I generally undertake. Failure meaning, in this case, disappointment with myself.

Rationally, I know that it’s entirely possible that I will completely lose my shit on the swim. Or crash my bike. Or. . . I don’t know, Mary Decker Slaney it out on the run. But I can’t allow myself to spend more than a cursory glance in that direction, or I know that I will turn back.

And I can't turn back.

So here I sit, with this little sprint tri looming as large as any Godot, chanting: “I can’t go on. I must go on. I’ll go on.”

And perhaps again tonight, my Avatar will appear to remind me that it is better to have risked love and lost, than never to have loved at all.

And perhaps I will have all of this sorted out in my head before Sunday. I truly hope so. I imagine that it will be nearly impossible to swim with my gaze so firmly fixed on my navel.