Monday, February 21, 2011

Goodness. And Grape Sorbet.

SJV and I went to Denver this past weekend to attend the wedding of some truly amazing people. Kirk (one of SJV's best friends from childhood) and Carrie tied the knot on Saturday, and we were psyched to be part of their weekend. And I was psyched to meet many of SJV's childhood friends. They are, without a doubt, a fantastic crew.

Truth be told, I was a little nervous about meeting them.

They played central roles in SJV's stories about his childhood and, frankly, I wanted them to like me as much as I knew I would like them. They're also a very tight group, and I wanted SJV to have his time to catch up with them. I figured they might not want a chick hanging with the guys, and I worried I might not really get to know them. I promised myself that if it looked like they were going to hang back with me there, I would retreat to the sidelines and make sure SJV got his time with his guys.

I guess I shouldn't have worried.

By the end of the weekend my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. My cheeks were sore from smiling so much. And my memory bank was gloriously full. There were so many stories. Houses and health code violations; Adam and Eve bars and odd fungal infections; pick up lines revolving around grape sorbet lip balm (that were strangely successful)...

It was as if I was part of a 48-hour standup routine.

And I loved every minute of it. Every gut-busting, giggle-inducing, guffaw-creating second. But I especially loved those moments (between jokes) when these tough guys would look at one another, or at Kirk, with a softness that made me melt.

During the ceremony, the officiant relayed the answers Kirk and Carrie gave to some questions he had asked them. Responding to one of those questions, Kirk -- a guy who has been to hell and back and lived to tell the tale -- said something that really stuck with me. He said that there is such a thing as goodness in this world, and it should be pursued.


Before we left Denver, we had breakfast with everyone -- a few short hours after we had left them when the bars closed down. And as I looked around the breakfast table, I had to smile. Yes, there is such a thing as goodness. And Kirk pursued it. He found it in his wonderful wife, who's love for him is blinding. And he found it in each of those guys. They have it in spades.

We can't wait to see them again.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Year of the Half (or why we aren't doing IMOO this year)

Sweet Johnny V (now "the hubster") and I have decided that this is the Year of the Half. We'll be doing three of them -- two independent races, and one Ironman brand. Why would we do this to ourselves, you ask?

Good question.

The answer? So we can eat more food!
(Well, that's partially true. We've already proven that newlyweds do, indeed, gain weight... particularly in the off-season.)

But the real answer is that we opted out of Ironman Wisconsin - at least for 2011. The plan had always been to have the Racing Year To End All Years in 2011, so that if we do decide to have little people, we (errr... "I") would feel like we were ... ready. Ready to give up training and racing for a little while, and ready to embark on that new adventure. We both figured that if we were going to do Ironman together, 2011 would be the best time. As a DINK couple, we'd have the resources and the time.

So, we signed up to volunteer with some of our friends at Ironman Wisconsin. The plan? Ride the course on Saturday, volunteer on Sunday, and sign up for the race on Monday. We drove up on Friday after work, bikes in tow. Saturday morning it rained quite a bit, and we thought our plans would be thwarted. But by the afternoon the weather broke, and it was a perfect fall day for a ride. We got the bikes ready and headed out to the course. We would do just one loop of two, so "just" a 40 miler. Piece of cake. Right?

Now, normally SJV and I are extremely prepared. We carry i.d.s, money, extra fluids and food. For some reason -- perhaps because we felt particularly "expert" at the end of the season and because we had already taken our Speedfills off of our bikes, we brought two water bottles for each of us and a gel. We thought we were being pretty conservative.

As we got out onto the course, we began to see why Ironman Wisconsin is considered a "hilly" course. There are the mythic "three sisters" hills, and I hadn't mapped out where they were. The first five minutes into the ride, we went up a fairly impressive hill and I thought: "Ahhh. This must be the first of the three sisters!" Ummmm... no. Not by a long shot. That was a bunny hill compared to some of the monsters we encountered. Every few minutes we were going up or coming down a hill.
Screaming descents, grunting uphills -- it's a good thing that I like climbing and I have a good bike setup for it.

It became clear, however, that we had miscalculated our nutrition needs. Massively. By the time we got about 20 miles in (so that we couldn't really turn around) we realized our mistake. But with no cash and no way to get back, we had to push onward. Hard. And at this point, we were trying to beat dusk.

I've never used EVERY gear available on a ride. Now I have. And I've never been so happy to be done with a ride. Considering the fact that we had no nutrition and not much by way of fluids, we didn't do too bad -- I think it took us about 3:30, and we weren't really dawdling. And we were in excellent shape. For us, at least. So rather than giving each other a high-five at the end of the ride and having visions of IMOO dancing in our heads, we spent a good ten minutes silently contemplating whether this was such a good idea. I was more concerned about bike handling skills and descending; John was just less enthused because although the course is gorgeous, it was just a lot more challenging. Would this be fun? We both pondered, and decided to sleep on it.

The next day we volunteered at a water stop that had a "Super Hero" theme.
I waited until the second loop before I unveiled my costume.

That went over pretty well with the tired men-folk, and with the ladies who appreciated a little comedic relief. Nothing like catwoman screaming "Water! Perform!" (They were serving Ironman Perform rather than Gatorade...)

We volunteered all day, and then spent the evening cheering friends in to their finishes, finishing our night as the last racer came in at midnight. And even though we were inspired by the racers we saw finish, we were still left with the conclusion that we just enjoyed ourselves so much training for and racing at the half distance, that maybe an intense year of racing that distance would be more ... Fun.

And isn't that what this is all about anyhow?

So, 2011 will be the Year of the Half. Maybe 2012 with be the Year of the Full. We'll see...

Whatever you do, have fun...

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I didn't have the heart to replace the post detailing my grand-mama's incredibly strong heart for a very, very long time. So much has happened since that post.

There was Ironman Arizona, where I met the 2010 Ironman World Champion (Macca)
...and "One Arm Willie" - a very accomplished paratriathlete.
(More on that in another post.) There was our trip to Sedona after Ironman.

There was Sweet Johnny V's proposal in February on the beach in St. Joseph.
There was Steelhead.

And there was our wedding in St. Joseph, on the beach where we raced.
But now I'm back.

We'll be training for three 1/2s this year - Grand Rapids (June), Door County (July) and Steelhead redux (August). It's going to be an awesome year.


Idgy the Cat

Idgy the Cat