Friday, August 31, 2007

The Simple Things....

Sometimes you just forget about the simple things in life that make our daily routines just say, being able to communicate with someone or just breathe on your own.

Yesterday, my mom had open heart surgery to replace a leaky valve. Standard procedure. They do it all time. Simple crack of the sternum. Hook you up to Heart/Lung bypass machine. Run cold water through your heart. Stop the heart. Lift it out. Cut it open. Replace valve. Sew it back up. Put it back in. Restart heart. Yada, Yada. You know...just standard, everyday stuff.

She did great. Doctor said everything went as expected. No surprises or anything. YEA!!!!

But then comes the tough part...recovery.

I thought seeing mom in ICU, intubated was tough. That was until she woke up. Typically, when a patient has a breathing tube, they put "soft" restraints on their arms so if they wake up from anethesia, they don't start pulling tubes and stuff. So I'm holding mom's hand next to the railing where it is restrained and her eyes begin to flutter and slowly open.

I smile and say "Hi mom! You did great!". I can see her struggling to focus as she emerges from the wonderland of vercet. She squeezes my hand back and I audibly sigh in relief. We sit quietly for a few moments like that as mom continues to shake off the effects of the drugs. I can feel her lightly stroking my hand with her finger as it seems that is all she has the strength to move at the moment.

I look up from the IV-laden hand and into her eyes and she is staring at my face, eyes wide open. Her gaze doesn't waver and it is piercingly strong, holding me, imploring me to understand, to read her mind almost. Immediately I know she wants to tell me something, but she can't speak with the tube down her throat. And suddenly I realize the light stroking on my palm wasn't just a loving touch...she's writing letters on my palm.

I switch and look closely at my hand now, trying to marry the visual image with the feel on my palm to decipher each letter. H-O-T. "Mom, you are hot?" She nods softly. "OK". I start pulling off the heated blankets they put on her during surgery.

I get that cleared away and reach back for her hand. "You ok now?" She closes her eyes and a tear slips out under the closed lashes.

She starts drawing on my palm again. H-U-R-T. I feel a lump in my throat. "Mom, you're need more pain meds?" Her eyes open, she nods and another tear falls. I hustle to get the ICU nurse and tell her what's going on and she comes back with some vicodin for mom's IV. We get that on board and just wait for the meds to kick in. And wait. And wait.

" it better yet?" Her eyes are still closed. She just shakes her head, no. I get the nurse. She pushes more vicodin. And we wait. And wait.

About 15 minutes later, Mom opens her eyes again and is looking around, surveying the room. She sees the TV on. She holds my hand again and starts writing. F-O-O-T. "Mom, your foot itches. Do you want me to scratch it? Do you want me to move it?"

She shakes her head no and continues writing. B-A-L-L. A huge grin steals across my face. Of course. How could I be so dense? My love of sports is genetic, from my mom. I grab the remote control and change the channel to ESPN. Today is college football kickoff. 24 hours of College Football coverage on ESPN. Mom smiles.

She's gonna be just fine.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Big Boy

Today is the first day of school for the new year. It is a always a bitter-sweet moment for me as I realize my babies are growing up so fast. Where the hell does the time go? ...sniff...

Accidental Duathlete

There are some days that go perfectly as planned and then, well, there was Saturday.

Here was the original plan, arrive at 9am at RunTex Riverside to do a race simulation of the Austin Tri. That is ride the downtown course and do the run route as well. The reason for starting so late (vs. our usual 7am) was so that any of the folks racing on Sunday could do one lap of the bike course and a short run and then go to packet pick up that began at 10am. Sounds simply enough, right? cha. But just to confirm I had the time right, I had sent Panther a txt to verify the time.

And here's how Saturday went:

0700: Receive txt from Panther "8 am start"
0701: Receive txt from Panther "No. 9"

I go back to sleep. My plan was to get up around 7:30, get in a swim and then meet for the ride.

0725: Receive vm from Panther "uh....I was wrong...Kris is already there and she was supposed to meet an hour before to run 7 miles, so we must be riding at 8"


So I throw on my bike/run gear, load up the car and head out..breakfast shake in the car on the way.

0755: I'm en route...but will be late so I send Panther at txt: ETA 5 min.
0800: Receive vm from Panther..."uh..I was wrong...we aren't riding until 9, so you can either go to breakfast or do a little run...actually, you need to run." great.

So I arrive at RunTex and begin what was to become my first ever duathlon. I did an easy pace 4-mile loop around the trail. It was nice.. a little crowded...but felt very Austin-ish.

So, then the plan was to just meet up and begin the ride. Again..very theory.

However, after arriving back in the parking lot, we began discussing the logistics of transporting the keg (which was currently on melting ice in the back of Shorey's truck because it had to be picked up on Thursday because the warehouse was going to be closed on Friday and Panther was out of town, etc, etc, yada, yada...) down to the race the next morning. Since Shorey was actually racing and the rest of us were just going to volunteer and party, we finally (after much, MUCH debate) convinced Shorey to let me deal with the keg and get it down to the race so that she could focus on nothing else but having a great race.

Then of course was the issue of actually removing the large trash can filled with ice/water and full keg out of Shorey's truck and into mine. Oh, did I mention that it was Panther, Shorey, Kris, Glenda and myself? (Where are the meatheads when you need them?)

So Panther decides that we need to dump all the ice/water out of the trash can so we can move the keg and the can separately. (Anyone else not following Panther's logic???) But before I can get so much as a "Why don't we just lift the keg out of the trash can" out, Panther is pouring the ice/water out into the parking lot. I shoot Panther a quizzical look and he just responds. "Zip it."

No with the trash can emptied, Panther and I hoist the keg out of Shorey's car and into mine. (I knew all that keg training with my sorority would come in handy some day!) But now, of course, we have a the back of my car...where it will be in the sun for the next 3 hours or so...with no ice....cause Panther poured it on the street. Great. With a quick call to Ruth, we are able to "borrow" some ice and ice down the keg. CHECK.

Now, onto the workout. (Note: it's about 9:30 at this point.) So, we proceed to attempt to ride the Austin Tri course but are thwarted at almost every turn by road closures (due to FlugTag) and extensive traffic. We decide to bail on riding downtown and opt to ride out to Buda and back instead. Shorey (with a standard wave-off) goes off to do her pre-race brick.

I was a little worried about the ride when I looked around and noticed it was Panther, Glenda, Kris...and me. Uh oh. How quickly can you say, "dropped"?

The ride was nice...but very, very, very hot!!! Panther took us on a route that passed by almost every active construction site between here and Buda so we were able to provide some..uh...mid-morning distractions for the guys out working. Plus, I was able to keep up with everyone and didn't get dropped after all! HOORAY!

After we got back to the Annex, it was time for the run. Yes it was around NOON by this time and very, very, very, very, very HOT. After much debate on whether to just start drinking margaritas or actually do the run. We decided to do the run (surprise! I know...but we are staring down the barrell of World's and the half-Iron).

So now I'm looking around and realizing that I have to RUN with Panther, Glenda and Kris. Uh oh. Cómo usted dice, caído? Panther assures me that they are going at an easy pace so it will be fine. Of course, their easy pace is a hard run for me. But whatever.

Fortunately, I think the heat was getting to everyone so they kept the pace somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30 and I was able to keep up! HOORAY!

All in all, it was quite the adventure, but loads of fun. I semi-did a duathlon and didn't get dropped. For me, I call that a GREAT workout! :)

Big thanks to Panther, Kris, Glenda and Shorey for concocting a crazy, fun day!


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Monday, August 20, 2007

Dollie Reunion '07

Dollies (1989)

Dollies (2007)

Such a FANTASTIC week in the beautiful Casa Bahia at Real del Mar in Mexico with 24 of my closest friends and family! WOW!

(Yes, for the un-indoctrinated of Stanford lore... members of the dance line at Stanford are referred to as "Dollies". No, we are not offended....we love it! And no, our year did not wear the knee-high kick boots. And yes, not one but TWO of our choreographed routines are now a part of Dollie legacy and are considered "Traditionals" in that every year these routines are learned and performed by the current set of Dollies. There are currently only about 8 traditionals since the establishment of the university in 1891. Yes, we rock!)

Where to begin? How about just the highlights...

- getting to see my girlfriends again

- fabulous food from our chef, Francisco

- fully stocked beer fridge

- fantastic margaritas made with love from "Roy"

- Dr. Steele on hand 24/7 to deal with all medical emergencies

- Gina and Adrianna - our full-time babysitters for the week

- negative-edge pools

- the beach

- Cesar's Real del Mar adult beverage

- Scott's Tina Turner impression during Celebrity Bowl

- Prisoner Ball

- Building hotels for the hermit crabs with the boyz

- Open water swim practice complete with attacking seaweed and rocks

- Posting up Big Daddy during beach football

- Exterminator Fest '07

- Dollie Cousins (all 14 of them)

- Categories

- Long naps in the sun by the pool

- Planes, trains and automobiles to get home
And finally the Celebrity Bowl Awards:
Best Clue: "Chick" (for Isadora Duncan) - Matt Browne
Best Impression: Tina Turner - Scott Schaffner
Best Gesture: Andy Geiger injecting cocaine into his Penis
Best Misunderstood Celebrity: Bill Walton
Best Penis Reference: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Good times...

Monday, August 6, 2007

Race Report (keeping in the theme of Jack's Generic!)

Ticket Attendant: Welcome back, Ms. Schaffner. Glad to see you've chosen Camp Punishment for your travels again!
Dionn: Thanks! Glad to be back!
TA: May I have your ticket please?
D: (hands over ticket) Actually, I'd like to exchange this 3-segment Flat Out 'til You Puke ticket for 3 Sustained Hard Efforts, please? And I'm kind of on a schedule so can you verify that the third segement will be less than 24 minutes?
TA: Hmmm...let me see if we have that available. AHA! Yes we do! Here you go! And of course, we always try to be on time, but unexpected delays may occur that we cannot predict nor are responsible for...but we will certainly try to get you there ON TIME!
D: Thank you! (takes tickets and proceeds to jetway)

D: (settles into seat and looks sadly at the empty seat beside her and mutters softly to herself)...Dammit...I can't believe Shorey is not taking this trip with me! (then looks across the aisle and sees Arch Nemesis #1 give a slight wave and a smile)
D: (inside voice) Great!

Flight Attendant: Welcome aboard Flight #99, service around New Braunfels. It's a great day for traveling! Our first segment will take us 500m around Goat Island..and with the recent rains, we've got plenty of water for everyone! The second segment will be a 14.8 m rolling jaunt through the countryside and finally, of course, a 3 mile out and back cruise on the blacktop. You'll also be pleased to note that you are riding in our newly acquired 737! Have a great trip!

And so yet another race began. It was different atmosphere as my partner in crime Shorey was adorned in a black shirt that simply said "Volunteer" instead of the familiar J&A's jersey. While I was sad about that, it was kinda cool to have a whole team of folks out there volunteering and cheering for me on the side including the intrepid leader, Panther and his faithful minions Bibiana, Shorey, Kris, and Glenda. As a perennial cheerleader, I'm used to cheering everyone else on, but how fun to have someone cheering for you! WOOT! Also, I got to hang out pre-race with Stacey - who is a riot! LOVE HER! She rocks.

Additionally, there were a bunch of the Austin favorites there including Desiree and Amy and Brandon Marsh. It is always inspiring to see those guys and watch them compete....just gets you all FIRED UP!

So after racking my bike (about 8 bikes away from nemesis, Tracy Lord) I diligently went about my pre-race activities. These include going to the potty 3-5 times (yes, I know...but what can you it's habit..) and adhering to my agreement to actually do both a warm-up run and swim.

My wave was about second to last, so I had lots of time to watch, review the plan and get down right nervous. Here was the plan ala Panther and I quote:
"I want you to have a good, hard sustained effort on the swim and bike, then, on the run, I want you to run sub-8s. That's your outside goal. Your INSIDE goal is to run 7:30s"

To which my response had been: "sub-8s? Have you been smoking crack or has the Houston weather finally drown your brain?? And a 7:30?? I need to talk to the Tour de France boyz and see if they can hook me up...I mean seriously..."

After much negotiation back and forth I got Panther to concede to the following:" Hit 8:00 on your first mile and see how you feel. If you're blowing up...screw it,we screwed the pooch. Slow down for mile 2, then pick it back up to 8:00 for mile 3. If you feel GOOD, then try to kick it up to 7:50 on mile 2. If you still feel good, try kicking it up to 7:30 for mile 3."


All this was great, however, I still had one other thing I had to do, regardless....and that was too beat Ms. Lord. (It always helps to have a place to focus your competitive energy, doesn't it?? Or is that just me...)

So, I parked myself on my favorite spot for the swim, front row outside lane. The thing I love about the 500m swim at the Ski Ranch is that all you have to do is follow the cable and it keeps you right where you need to be. So as you breathe, just take a peek up and check the cable and keep plowing ahead. Of course, you have to check for traffic every now and then, but until I start running into the wave ahead of me, it's a great way to swim.

The swim wave went off and WOW...were there some fast swimmers in that group! 5 swimmers swimming a sub-1:45 pace! While I probably could've hung with a few of them, I referred back to my ticket that cleared stated "Sustained Hard" and not flat out, so I let them go. I came out of the water 6th...which is kinda far back for me. Shorey later even mentioned, "what happened on your swim?" To which I replied, "I was going 1:47! It's not like I was lolligagging out there!"

I hurried out for a (I think) respectable 1:33 T1 and hopped on my bike and took off. Of course, I took a sideways glance during T1 and noticed the blue bike was still there...good.

I rode hard but not too hard. At one point during the rollers, I must have been dawdling because a gaggle of the young 30 girls came by me. They were all bunched up and there was definitely not 3 bike lengths between them. But as they passed me, I was forced to slow down to follow the rules. However, I didn't like the new pace that forced me into since it felt slower than what I was going I had no choice but to put the hammer down on them...strategically of course.

So we were on this flat getting ready to go uphill and the whole group was in front of me. I clicked to a bigger gear and started peddling...HARD. I timed it pretty well so just as the incline was getting substantial and they were all clicking down, I took some polyjuice and transfigured into Kris and blew their freakin doors off, going uphill! Mentally I said, "fine you can pass me if you want, but you are going to have to do it going UP this hill...come and get me bitches!" I hammered down the other side of the hill and up one more roller just for good measure and then backed off to get back to my "sustained Hard" for the duration of the ride. Needless to say, they didn't catch me again.

I rolled into T2 mentally preparing for my first ever attempt at sub-8s. And just as I was on my way out, guess who appears with her blue bike. Yep. "What to go Tracy...a supporter yelled to her." "Sssshhhhh!", she responded back. "Oh yea..sorry I forgot!" the supporter replied.

Oooohhh, I see. You didn't want me to know you were that close, huh? Alright...IT'S ON! Sub-8' we fucking come!

I came out of transition and saw Shorey. I mouthed to her, "she's right there, right?" Shorey peered around me and shook her head no...but then looked again and quickly looked back at me, raising her eyes and nodded Yes, yes! Fuck.

Quick feet, quick feet. Turnover, Turnover. That's what I kept saying to myself. If I can just make it through the first mile at 8:00, I know I will settle in and work it.

Panther came by on his bike, "Looking strong Kegel....find your zone!"

Quick feet, quick feet. Turnover, Turnover. Blackeyed Peas, "Pump it" playing in my head. Ears tuned for the telltale sound of feet settling in behind me, matching my pace....wasn't hearing it.

Before you know it, I was actually passing people on the run. That's right...ME...PASSING PEOPLE...ON THE RUN! It was invigorating, motivating...all the while unbelievable..because I still felt good.

I didn't dare turn around and see where Ms. Lord was...I just kept pushing...quick feet, quick feet, turn over, turn over. I kept my stride short and tried to keep over my heel striking today.

There wasn't a mile marker so I wasn't sure how I was doing, so I figured once I got to the turnaround I could figure out two things: 1. My pace and 2. Exactly where Ms. Lord was..

Hit the turnaround, looked at my watch 11:something.....can that be right?? Threw a cup of water over me. I needed to be south of 12:00 to be sub-8, right? right? SWEET! I'm on pace....and wait....I don't see her. I kept going the other direction...quick feet, quick feet, turnover, turnover.

Finally, I saw her coming the other way...there was no waving, no "hi"...just competitive sparks flying across the road. Shit. She looks like she's ready to drop the hammer and come get me. I'd better giddyap!

Still feeling good, I picked up my pace and kept my ears tuned for the pitter-patter of feet behind me. I saw Bibiana on her bike patrolling the course. "BIBI!" I yelled. She slowed down until I came up to her. "Girl. Texas Iron. How close." I panted. Bibiana turned her head and scanned.... "I don't even see her." What? Can that be right???

I could see the end of the road where we were to turn left into the park. Up this hill and then fire the guns baby!!!

Got to the top and saw Panther again...gave him the "You Da Man!" point with the fingers and he yelled, "Drop the Hammer, Drop the Hammer!!"

Looked in my pocket, lo and behold, A HAMMER!!! WOOOT!

Sprinted hard to the end and clicked the stop button on my watch! After they took my chip, I went and literally ran and fell back into the lake to recover. Damn..I was tired. Looked at the run split on my watch....... 23:01. WHAT? Is that right? HELL YA!!!!!!

Official run split pace was: 7:37 !!! FUCK YEA! WOOT!!!!! I rocked it!

Turns out, I just missed 3rd place by 2 seconds. Oh well, 4th place seems to be home this season (Danskin- 4th, Rogue Women's - 4th). But MOST importantly, I had an absolutely TERRIFIC run! I couldn't believe it. I've NEVER run a sub-8 in a tri before. Even my time trial was 7:47....but 7:37??????? WWWWOOOOOOHHHHHHOOOOOO!

Final stats:
Swim: 8:55.3 (1:47 pace) - 6th
Bike: 45:17.9 (19.6) - 7th
Run: 22:50.5 (7:37) - 6th
Total: 1:19:35.5

Age Group Finish: 4th
Overall Women: 17th

Run Pace PR!
Course PR (last year was 1:22:29.9)

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Today's Rant

So I'm at the grocery store playing Super Mom and after hauling the 40-lb bag of Large Breed Weight Management dog food into the cart (yes, I have over 400 pounds of dogs in my house...and yes, only 2 dogs), I round the end cap of the aisle where the is a large display of cokes (or soda or cola or whatever the hell you want to call it depending on where you are from...).

Only these are the little bitty kind that are designed to fit in say... A LUNCH BOX!

I mean, what the hell? Haven't you heard???

"In just two decades, the prevalence of overweight doubled for U.S. children ages 6 to 11 — and tripled for American teenagers. The annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight. In total, about 25 million U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or nearly overweight." (from the Mayo Clinic)

And did you know that it is virtual IMPOSSIBLE to find those cute little cartons of milk (like the sell at the public school cafeterias) in any grocery store. So for those families, like mine, who's kids are extremely picky eaters or who have to pack their lunches for school or daycare, we CANNOT find a place to buy milk to put in the lunch box, but everywhere you turn there is a high fructose corn syrup-laden, caffeinated monstrosity to offer to your child as part of their nutrious lunch???

I mean...COME ON!!!

Add that to the fact that kids only have PE twice a week at school (remember when we went EVERY DAMN DAY!), have motorized scooters (what happened to good ol' pedal power?) and spend hours everyday hunkered over their gameboy/xbox/DS/computer instead of horsing around outside climbing trees, pestering the neighbor's dog, building forts or just farting around.

And we wonder why.....