:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

donderdag 26 oktober 2006

My car has been completely encased in ice the past two mornings I've had to go babysit. Think it's time to invest in an ice scraper. In October. I'm not used to this.

The night I completely forget about Grey's Anatomy, it's new. The night I have nothing whatsoever to do, it's a rerun. Figures.

I love having Liz home (even if the first thing I had to do was pay her the cable bill, LOL). I mean, who else can join me in reciting the entire script of Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride & Prejudice, and every Disney movie on the planet? Scuttle the seagull's attempt at 'singing' in The Little Mermaid is our current favorite.

After all the talk about dressing up as Jack Sparrow for Halloween, I still failed to secure a wig - mostly because I couldn't find one under fifty bucks - and since one clearly cannot be Jack without the hair, I'm back to square one on a costume. Anybody have any simple ideas?

The Josh Groban contest winner will be notified tomorrow. I'm not really holding out any hope whatsoever - but I'll be keeping my phone on ring during class, and if I see a 407 area code, I can't promise I won't scream just a little.

Yeah - my finals schedule? Sucks. Even though I only have two. See, classes end Wednesday (the 6th), I have one final that Friday (the 8th) - and somehow the universe found it appropriate not to schedule the other one until the NEXT Friday. Otherwise known as (a) a full WEEK after my first one, (b) the LAST day of finals, and (c) the day before my cousin's wedding (in Birmingham). Meaning I have to take a final on Friday, hang around Chapel Hill for a full WEEK with absolutely no one to talk to and nothing to do, then take another final the NEXT Friday and immediately hop into the car, drive eight hours to Florida, get there at 11pm, then leave again the next morning to go to Birmingham with my family for the wedding. Grrr. I'll ask my Persian teacher to have mercy and let me take it early, but I doubt she will.

Not like anyone cares but me, but my final paper for syntax is going to be about complementizers in Dutch. At least I found a topic I'm actually somewhat interested in.

So Apple bumped their Macbook Pros up to Core 2 Duo processors. The hard drives are getting progressively bigger, too - apparently you can get them up to 200 GB now. My 60 GB is the Achilles heel of my Powerbook; I'm constantly having to dump non-crucial things onto the 80 GB backup and then delete them from the internal HD, just to make room. Come on, guys - let's have a 12" Macbook Pro along with the release of Leopard, huh? Core 2 Duo processor, OS Leopard, 100 GB, aluminum, around 4 pounds... I'm still waiting.

I am really, really rooting for Lorelai and Christopher on Gilmore Girls. Weigh in if you have an opinion.

zondag 22 oktober 2006

I can count on one hand the number of times that this has happened, but... words are failing me. I spent this weekend in Myrtle Beach with 9 members of the UF club swim team - several of whom were close friends of mine - and I'm having a hard time explaining just how great that was. I mean, it was amazing to see everyone again after so long (six months!), especially Anna and Shannon, and staying in an awesome hotel less than 100 yards from the beach was really cool too, but the biggest thing was that it felt so great to just be accepted, without question. (Ahh, THAT's it - words no longer failing me!) Here at UNC, I still feel like I'm trying to 'prove' myself to most people... professors, students, swimmers... pretty much everyone except Jenna and Liz... and I'm quickly losing the motivation to even continue bothering. But these guys know me, through and through. I don't have to worry about what they might be thinking about me or whether or not I'll be accepted - I'm just 'one of them'.

It was such a relief to fall back into my old role as one of the senior team members. It felt like UNC might have been just a dream, or maybe another exchange program or summer job, and that now I was finally back home again where I belonged. I savored everything... the Walgreens junk food run at midnight with eight people in a five-person car, Jenna accidentally beaning an innocent passerby square in the face with a disintegrating ball of wet beach sand, floating in the (71 F) ocean with Anna for a full hour while we got caught up, yelling encouragement to everyone during the swim meet, getting asked to enter as a deck entry and swim a few events myself (and declining - "I'm here for the food. And the beach."), roasting s'mores over a (very smoky) mini-bonfire whilst freezing outside in the dark in our T-shirts, not being self-conscious about wearing a two-piece swimsuit, driving and listening (and singing) to Shannon and Michael's random selections from all the music on my iPod, the mass (silent) laughing fit over the old, obese, oblivious man in Walgreens whose sagging pants revealed a good six inches of butt crack and white underwear as he deliberated among the selection of condoms (!), asking Conway cops for driving directions, gossiping with the girls about the guys on the team, cramming 10 people into the hot tub at 1:00am, eating shrimp at Margaritaville while singing Jimmy Buffett, mastering the workings of the waffle irons at the hotel continental breakfast, lying in the sun on a beach for the first time in what felt like forever... yeah, it was an awesome weekend. I missed some of my team friends who didn't go to the meet - Hayley, Nika, Jason, etc. - but it was great to see those who were there.

In a way, though, it's also made me a little more homesick (if that's the right word). I'm quickly realizing that what I was told about the 'Carolina attitude' really is true. A lot of people on the UNC team are... I hate to say it... snobs. Or at least a lot of the good swimmers are. Most of the people in my lane are pretty nice - there are two or three girls I like a lot - but others, most notably the team president, act like they don't want to have anything to do with me. They're not mean, per se, but they just totally ignore me. Granted, there could be all kinds of reasons for that which have nothing to do with me as an individual - it's a big team, I don't swim in their lane, they have no REASON to say anything to me, etc. - but because I'm new, it feels like it's me as an individual that people don't like. Same with my classmates and even professors. I just came off a summer spent working with people I hated, and I don't like having to 'work at' making friends in arenas (school and swimming) in which I've always been happy and fit in well (since after middle school, anyway) without having to really work at it. I don't know if the difference is in the school or in me, but it's frustrating.

Upside: Liz comes back from China tomorrow. Yippee!

And: Obama just might run for president after all! Double yippee!

donderdag 19 oktober 2006

OK, so. Wow. Lots of stuff to write about all of a sudden.

First, my grandparents are... well... melting down. I'll spare everyone most of the gory details, since my family makes up probably half of the people who read this site regularly anyway, but suffice it to say that my grandmother's "intermediate"-level Alzheimer's has suddenly progressed to "advanced" ("extreme", "psychotic", pick your adjective). As is typical for the disease, she has 'better' and 'worse' moments, but still, it's a sudden and severe change. The stories I'm hearing involve her not recognizing my grandfather, trying to call the police about a "strange man in the house", calling him names and saying he's "stealing from us", packing suitcases and sitting out on the driveway waiting for someone to pick her up so she can "go live somewhere else", etc. Yeah... it's bad. Part of me is glad I'm up here and not involved, and the other part of me feels like I should be involved. Needless to say, Mom is no longer coming to visit for fall break.

Which brings me to my next point... that I am finally out of school for four blissful days. I'm excited. I had a Persian exam today (which went decently well, if not perfectly - I memorized a ton of stuff we turned out not to need, then forgot how to say the simple words 'nine' and 'also') so she didn't give us any homework, and neither did the phonetics teacher (who even let us out ten minutes early - a first for him). Except... at around 3pm today, my Mayan languages teacher sent us an email detailing two assignments we need to do for next week, then had the gall to end the message with, "Have a really great break!" Sure. Yeah. Whatever you say. Along with that, I have to do my portion of our article report for phonetics, but that isn't a big deal - it'll actually be enjoyable, because Jenna, my class partner, found a really cool article for us to do. It's about whether or not it's possible to obtain a nativelike accent in a foreign language after the supposed Critical Period for language-learning (which ends at puberty). That's something I've often wondered about myself, because so many people have mistaken me for a native Dutch speaker, even though I didn't start learning the language until I was 18. Basically, what the article concludes is that a very small population of language learners CAN develop a nativelike accent, but a number of factors have to be in play, like a high level of motivation to sound native (I definitely had that) and a certain innate ability to adjust the parameters of one's sound perceptions. That's because they say native speakers of one language tend to classify sounds they hear in a foreign language by the same classifications they use for their native language - meaning English 'oh', like 'over', and Dutch 'eu', like 'leuk', actually SOUND the same to them. The difference is plain as day to me and always has been, even from my very first 'vocabulary lessons' at camp with Linde (that's another one! LindA vs LindE... I hear the difference easily, but native English speakers don't), and I always wondered why other English speakers had such horrible accents in Dutch and Spanish. I assumed it was just because they felt stupid trying to 'put on' an accent that didn't come naturally. But apparently it's just because they really can't hear a difference. Amazing.

Aside: I'm starting to like phonetics a little more than I did at first. I got a 100 on the midterm, and ever since then, things have been a little more enjoyable for me in there. We've also moved on to subjects I've had before, like IPA sounds, so I grasp the concepts a little better than I did at first, too. It's by no means fantastic, but I don't dread class anymore. Today we got to look at spectrograms (funny zigzaggy lines tracing people's speech) and try to figure out what was being said. We could usually get the vowels easily, but had more trouble with the consonants. It was a fun game. At one point, there were some letters filled in and others still blank, and after calling out a vowel possibility (which turned out to be right), I started to giggle. When everyone turned to look at me, I said, "This has got to be the weirdest game of Wheel of Fortune I've ever played!" (The whole class cracked up.)

...What I DO dread are syntax and Mayan languages. Syntax, which I at first thought would be cool, is the most boring class I've ever taken in my life (with the possible exception of Mr. O'Connor's Contemporary History class at Stanton), and Mayan languages, which I thought would get better as it went on, has gotten worse. All the grades I've gotten in there have been high, but I'm becoming more and more of a slacker just because I totally hate what I'm doing. Picking out bits and pieces of a little picture, which doesn't even look like what the teacher says it represents, and trying to find similar representations in other places, which look EQUALLY as cryptic... how am I supposed to realize that this particular muddle of shapes is a bird's head and that one is a crocodile? They look exactly the same, and NEITHER ONE of them looks like an animal! And supposedly this one represents the sound 'pi', and this one represents 'tsi', except sometimes the vowels can be different, and sometimes they drew it different ways, and "we don't really know why, that's just how it is." GRRRR. I should have just sucked it up and gotten up two hours earlier every day to take Sociolinguistics - something I'm actually good at and ENJOY. Sigh. Maybe next year.

Anyway, the newest development is that I think I'm going to go to Myrtle Beach this weekend and visit the UF club team. They're going to a meet at Coastal Carolina University, which we were also going to go to except that there wasn't enough interest due to fall break and people going out of town. But it's only a 4-hour drive, and I know Anna and Shannon (two of my closest friends from that team) will be there, and it sounds like it'll be a fun weekend - they have a really nice hotel reserved, right on the beach. I'll probably end up sleeping on the floor, but since I don't have to swim in the meet, it won't matter. I'll just be there for the beach-going and restaurant-meal-eating. :) I really miss everyone and can't wait to see them all again.

Not to get all 'heavy' on you guys, but this is the first time I can remember feeling genuinely EXCITED about something in a while. The triathlon made me happy, as does the anticipation of the new Josh Groban album/tour (I'm on those messageboards almost every day chatting with other fans and looking for info), and the baby I take care of often cheers me up (because you can't help but feel maternal when you go to pick up a sleepy-eyed, tousle-haired, binky-mouthed one-year-old from his crib), but those are about the only things these days. Liz is usually my primary source of amusement/diversion (conversations, pizza, Disney movies, cookies, Bridget Jones, fits of laughter...), and she's in China for another five days. It feels like I'm just going about my business - going to class, doing homework, working out, eating, sleeping - with nothing much to look forward to. I mean, I do like it here in NC, don't get me wrong - but this swim team, although it has a few cool people on it, is nowhere near as awesome as UF's, and that was my primary social connection there. Of my three roommates, Liz is the only one I genuinely like a lot, and of my three fellow new linguistics graduate students, it's Jenna. (She's also the only other one who's a master's candidate like me - maybe that has something to do with it.) So they're basically my only two close friends here - I have friendly acquaintances, sure, but not a lot of people I'm really close to. My first year at UF was this way too, I remember, but I was close to home then, plus I had a network of high school friends that I was still in close contact with, even if they weren't physically present. And I liked my classes back then... that was the beginning of my infatuation with the Dutch language. *wistful sigh* I really needed that Dixie Chicks concert this weekend (with my EIGHTH ROW CENTER ticket!), and this stupid red state couldn't dig up enough people to sell it out, so it got canceled. Boooo!

I can't wait for this semester to be over. My classes next semester are better (Persian II, Phonology, Language Acquisition, and Historical Linguistics), and I can't stop kicking myself for ever signing up for Mayan languages, or for not dropping it during the first week when I had an inkling of foreboding. I COULD technically still drop it now, but I'm in so deep (and with good grades) that it would be stupid, since it counts toward my degree. Ah, well. I'll stick it out. Only nine more weeks of classes, and there's Thanksgiving to look forward to, too.

OK, I'm sure I'm bumming everyone out at this point, so I'll shut up.

Tomorrow = homework, Gray's Anatomy
Friday = drive to Myrtle Beach
Saturday = hang out with the UF team, yay!
Sunday = possibly go see Flicka
Monday = back to school

zaterdag 14 oktober 2006

Anyone who wants to be my friend forever, go to this link


and enter the contest. It'll only let you enter once, but it says you AND a guest can go... the 'guest' then being me, of course... LOL...

Yeah, yeah, I know I haven't been posting. I'll try to put something up soon, but nothing of note has really happened this week, besides:

1) having University Day on the 12th, meaning morning classes were canceled, so I didn't have to babysit and got to sleep in,

2) getting my hair cut for $12 at Hair Cuttery and (for once) being pleased with the result (the same woman has been cutting my hair since I was a baby, and she's normally the ONLY one who can do it right),

3) taking a break from running and doing only swimming for a couple of weeks, since my half marathon training will start soon enough and my foot needs to get better before then,

4) getting the email announcement that, hurrah, there WILL be an Internet-fan-only version (with extra tracks, DVD footage, etc.) of Josh Groban's next CD (which, incidentally, comes out on election day) and preordering it, and

5) teaming up with Jenna to work on the phonetics and syntax, so I didn't have to do either one alone. Especially the syntax; I was dreading that.

Other than that, it's just been homework, swimming, and more homework. I am sooo ready for fall break. Only three more days of school. I'm practically counting the hours.

zaterdag 7 oktober 2006

The triathlon was a blast! (Well, at least the swim and bike were - I could have done without the run, but what else is new?) Anyway, I wasn't very enthusiastic initially - the weather was miserable (49 F and rainy) and I had to get up at 4:00 and drive 70 miles down a dark, wet, 15-501 (with very few streetlights, I might add), essentially thinking to myself, "Yeah, OK, so signing up was probably really stupid, but you're in it now, so just go and DO it, and then you'll be DONE with it, and can move on to the next thing." I was still worrying about the fact that I'd done so little cycling in preparation for this (a few times back and forth to classes plus two or three days of circling local neighborhoods for an hour or so) and that my foot had been acting up. Plus, I'd woken up on Friday with the beginnings of a cold (which is now in full swing, hurrah). And once I got there, it turned out that the weather wasn't really going to warm up, and that I had been unbelievably stupid to leave the house in only track pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt. At this point, the whole thing was so ludicrous as to be almost funny; I was already planning a mocking blog post in my head about my own stupidity. Luckily, the guy next to me (who got out of his car, smiled, and asked, "Ready to freeze?") lent me a sweatshirt, which I didn't use during the actual race but which was a big help during the long, cold, dark wait beforehand.

Anyway, I was number 573 (our of about 800 competitors), so I checked in, found my spot on the bike racks, got my race packet (which included a pair of green-and-white socks and a really cool race shirt, long-sleeved and black with a green and blue design), got my timing chip, got my body marking, attached my race numbers to my bike, helmet, and shirt, and set up my transition area. (For those who aren't familiar with how a triathlon works, there are two 'transitions' - swim-to-bike and bike-to-run - which are added into your overall time. All the bikes are numbered and racked together in the 'transition area', and everyone puts their stuff on the ground next to their bike in the order in which they'll need it - i.e. for the first transition, you need a towel, shoes and socks, sunglasses, a dry shirt, etc. for the bike. Elite triathletes try to do their transitions as quickly as possible, since that's the easiest way to drop their time.)

I could have competed in my age group or as an Athena (category for females over 150 pounds), so I chose Athena since that was a much smaller field (even though I didn't really have any illusions of winning anything). Athenas had dark green caps and started in wave 6 for the swim, along with all the women under 34, at 8:15 (the elite athletes had been wave 1, at 8:00; there were about 11 waves in total, all starting about two minutes apart). It was finally light outside at this point, but not more than a degree or two warmer; we were all barefoot and shivering in our swim gear. Many people wore wetsuits; I didn't (in the open water swimming world, they're considered to be 'for wimps', but in triathlons they add buoyancy, thus increasing your speed), which meant I was that much colder than the others, but luckily the water was 72 F. That's actually on the cool side (as anyone who's been to Ichetucknee Springs knows), but to us, it felt like a warm bath. I was wearing a sports bra underneath a lycra bathing suit, with bike shorts over that. (I'd considered putting on the shorts during the transition, but figured it wasn't going to keep them any drier and would be difficult to do with wet skin anyway, so I might as well just wear them.)

The swim went pretty well. My goal had been to beat 30 minutes, which I did by something like five or ten seconds. (My last one-mile open-water swim, in April 2005, was 32 minutes.) I passed a lot of people, including a few people with yellow, black, and blue caps - the slowest members of previous waves of swimmers. (All of whom passed me again later on the bike and run, I'm sure, but it was a confidence boost anyway.) I didn't do that great a job of sighting ahead, and zigzagged a little bit, thus adding unnecessary time, but it kept me out of the worst of the flailing arms and legs, meaning I could swim more easily without being kicked (or kicking anyone else). I tried to swim hard, since I knew the swim would be the only time all day that I would use my arms. I probably would have done a little better had there not been dozens of thrashing limbs around me churning up the water, but hey, that's the nature of the beast.

By the time I got out, I wasn't shivering anymore. Most people jogged from the water to the transition area, but I walked - running isn't a good idea on my feet to begin with, let alone barefoot on cold concrete. The more of my feet I could 'save' for the run, the better. People lining the chute were yelling, "All right, let's go! The hard part's over!" I thought to myself, with an ironic smile, Who are you kidding? The hard part is just beginning.

Anyway, I got to my transition area, sat down on my towel, used my chamois to rub as much of the dirt and grass off my feet as I could, put on my shoes and socks, debated for a moment what to do about a shirt (the long-sleeved TriGators shirt I'd come with, or the borrowed sweatshirt, or both?), decided on just the TriGators tee, put it on, jammed my helmet on my head and sunglasses on my face, grabbed my bike, and headed out. I tried to be efficient without rushing - thirty seconds here or there wasn't going to make one bit of difference to my overall standings, and it was better to remember everything than to screw up because I'd been trying to go too fast.

Thus began the bike leg of the race. I was pleasantly surprised that the course was not as hilly as I'd anticipated. The website had said it was tough, and we were pretty much always on one side or another of a slope, but they were manageable hills, nothing huge. I'd been worrying, because I have a really tough time with some of the hills in Chapel Hill, but it turns out there's a reson it's called Chapel HILL - there are a lot more/steeper hills here than there were on the Pinehurst course. That was a relief. I did have to stand up out of the saddle a few times (okay, more than a few) when going uphill, but I certainly wasn't the only one doing that, and at no time did I think I might have to get off and walk the rest of the way up a particular hill, the way I have to do on the way to school every day (there's one monster hill that I just cannot handle). I was constantly being passed - I think I myself passed a grand total of three people the whole way - but I knew it was going to be like that and I didn't really mind. (And when people pass you, they always say 'good job' or 'keep it up', which is nice. Or, in the case of this one guy who saw my TriGators shirt, they say, "Okay, let's go - ORANGE!" "BLUE!" "ORANGE!" "BLUE!" LOL!) And the temperature was fine - we'd all anticipated being practically frozen to our bikes, but it felt great, even with my wet clothes and lack of gloves. Wearing just the long-sleeved tee was the right choice.

Actually, the halfway point of the bike course was when I started thinking to myself, "You know what? I am having a BLAST!" With open water swimming, there's always a point (as much mental as physical) where the swim becomes completely un-fun and you start thinking to yourself, "Yeah, uh, this SUCKS. Remind me WHY exactly I'm putting myself through this?!" But I didn't feel like that at all on this bike course (well, I got sick of it in the last 20 minutes or so, but I knew the end was in sight, so it was okay). I was truly having a good time, which is not something I'm used to feeling in these athletic events. I do them to give myself something to work towards in my daily workouts (otherwise it's hard to motivate myself to get up and go), and because I meet great people and enjoy the camaraderie - not because the event itself normally brings me any particular joy. But today was really fun. Regardless of the fact that I was being passed, I felt strong and felt like I was racing well. Not being sure how the hills would be or how I'd feel, my tentative goal had been to beat two hours, which I did easily; I finished the bike (25 miles) in something like 1:37.

Transition two - bike-to-run. I reached this point at something like 2 hours 15 minutes, meaning quite a few people had already finished (beating 2:30 seems to be a common goal at this distance for the really serious triathletes). Which was a little discouraging, but I had met both of my time goals so far and knew there were still plenty of people behind me. I hopped off my bike (accompanied by the usual rubber-legs feeling), stuck it back on the rack, shed my long-sleeved T-shirt, put on my sleeveless T-shirt with race number attached, grabbed a bottle of water and my inhaler (which I didn't need - and haven't used in weeks (the cooler weather seems to agree with my lungs) - but thought I should have it just in case, because I remembered having a little trouble at the end of the River Run), tied my shoes more tightly, smeared some gel under my arms to prevent chafing, did a couple of stretches to try to alleviate the 'why-aren't-we-pushing-pedals-anymore' sensation in my legs, then headed out into the (six-mile) run. I was starving (it was nice to feel a normal sensation during an athletic event - during swims, all too often it's nausea that I feel, or at the very least, a lack of desire to eat anything for at least an hour afterwards), and couldn't wait to get the run over with so I could eat.

Ugh. The first part was not fun at all. A (very Southern) guy who passed me complained, "My feet feel like bricks!" and he was absolutely right. The hills which had been such a pleasant surprise on the bike were hell on the run. Luckily, I caught up to another Athena who was about my pace, a woman in her 40s named Jennifer, and jogged along with her for a while, chatting - which was great because it got me to forget about how uncomfortable I was. I wish I'd been able to stay with her the whole way, but just past the halfway point, at the top of a particularly tough hill, I started to feel the burning fatigue in my calves that means a cramp may not be far away. So I reluctantly told her to go on ahead, that I needed to walk for a minute to avoid cramping. So I slowed down, drank some water, and waited until my muscles felt better. From that point on, I alternated walking and running (mostly running, but with several short walking breaks, which I normally never do in my workouts). I had been worried about making the 4-hour cutoff time, but I could see from my watch that I was going to make it easily, and I was pretty proud of how well I'd done (by my standards) up to that point, so I didn't feel too bad about walking a couple of minutes here and there. I didn't really talk to anyone else after Jennifer, so it was a pretty boring course - winding through residential neighborhoods - but the cold, drizzly weather was finally working in our favor - it felt good on the run. At the five-mile mark, I took a cup of Cytomax from the aid station and gulped it down, and I swear I could feel the little 'sensors' in my stomach go, "Thank GOODNESS! Something we can USE!" I'd eaten breakfast (at 4 AM) and forced down a gel pack before the start, but that energy was long gone; I was running on water.

Finally, finally, finally, I could hear the announcer in the distance, and spectators were sprinkled along the side of the road. "Last hill!" "Keep it up, 573, you're doing great!" "Just two more turns, almost there!"
"Great - I'm starving!" I said, making them laugh.

They announced my name and "from Chapel Hill" when I came through the chute, and I checked my watch - total time, about 3 hours 36 minutes, meaning my run was about an hour and 18 minutes. I didn't really have a specific goal for the run other than to get through it without feeling like I was dying - and the one specific time I had thrown around in my head to try to beat had been "1:30, maybe 1:20" - so I was happy with 1:18.

Anyway, so I had some of the post-race food, headed back to my car, and left, sucking down a gel pack on the way to help with recovery. Those gel packs are really pretty gross - they're only palatable when your body's really craving the carbs. I tried to force one down before the start and only got about halfway through it, but I sucked that one down after the race with no hesitation. I got home around 2pm, made a 'real' meal (scrambled eggs, a bagel with hummus, hash browns, and orange juice), watched The Little Mermaid with Liz (we're both Disney fans), and then essentially passed out in my room with Liz's hot pack on my knees. I feel fine now - my shoulders are a little stiff (I tend to hold them rigid during runs, which isn't good, but it's habit) and my heel is sore, but that's nothing new. My knees are the only other 'casualty' - the band of tissue running just to the inside of the kneecap is sore on both sides, meaning stuff like transitioning from standing up to sitting down or vice versa is a little painful, but it's nothing too bad. The same thing happened after that ridiculous 90-km round trip to Waddinxveen on my bike in the Netherlands last fall, and I was fine within a day or two of that, so I'm not too worried.

Anyway, so I was really happy with this whole race. With my lack of cycling and with my foot acting up, I've been pretty worried for the past month about not being ready - Why the hell did I sign up for this? What was I thinking?! I've only ever done one triathlon in my life and that was an incredibly short one. I'm not ready for this. I'm going to die in the first mile of the bike. Why did I think this was a good idea?! But I WAS ready. I didn't think I was, but I was. This was the perfect distance for me - long enough to be a challenge, but not so long that it was discouraging. I met all my time goals - :30 swim (29:55), 2:00 bike (1:37), 1:30 run (1:18), 4:00 total (3:37) - and felt good almost the whole way through. Even when my legs were dying on the run, I still felt okay, hungry even, and not as if my whole system were going on the fritz the way I often feel during very long swims. It turns out I WAS thinking clearly when I thought this would be a good race for me, and that I made the right decision after all.

It was a great race and a fun day, and I'm looking forward to next year.

maandag 2 oktober 2006

I'm sitting in class, so I shouldn't actually be typing this, but this is so unbelievable I just have to. Remember my phonetics midterm, how much I was freaking out, how I kept saying I didn't know anything and that the other grad students were completely responsible for saving me? Yeah? Well, we just got them back... and guess who was the only one in the class to get a hundred percent?!

Yeah. I know. I can't believe it either.

zondag 1 oktober 2006

All things considered, this weekend has been a wash. First, I get up at 3:30am to meet the rest of the swim team and ride down to Georgia, only to discover that one car had elected to drive down the previous night, so as to get a full night's sleep. Wow, guys - would have been nice if that option had been extended to the rest of us. Then we arrive and swim (my times are pretty much the same as always), and though the facilities are gorgeous, the natatorium is freezing (partly because people keep leaving doors open) and we're repeatedly banned from the hot tub and the (warmed, unused) diving pool. (WHY?! It's been fine at other meets.) Then we get shafted afterwards - no award announcement/presentation and no pizza lunch (two things which are pretty much standard among club meets). Meaning that at 4:30pm, none of us have eaten since our 7am Hardees stop. We end up sending team representatives to McDonalds to order double cheeseburgers and fries off the dollar menu, which we wolf down in record time.

We crash for an hour or two, then go to dinner, then come back to get ready for the (80s-themed) party. The four of us girls in my room are last to get back, thus not involved in any pre-drinking, but everybody else is (pretty heavily, I might add). So I end up being DD for one of the vans. Okay, I can deal. Then one of the cars gets pulled over. We're thinking the worst - open containers, citations, the works. Turns out it's just for having both taillights out. (Somehow, despite the fact that there are two people in the front seat and the driver doesn't even have her license with her, he lets her off - probably because she's being a responsible DD for a car full of drunks.) We get back together, then lose two of the cars once we're almost to the party. Upon calling them, it turns out that one car is lost in Hickville and in the other, one of the freshman girls, Dori, is (already!) throwing up, so they've had to turn around and take her back. Once everyone finally makes it to the party (which really wasn't that great), it turns out they haven't left anyone behind with Dori. Great, guys - way to watch out for your friends.

Jamie and I finally organize a first car back at around 1am, but no sooner do we all crawl into bed than more people come crashing in. Amanda, another freshman girl (who is sharing our room, although, thank goodness, not my bed), has thrown up in the (rented, state-owned) van, meaning a group has to go out at two in the morning and buy carpet cleaners and deodorizers. Amanda proceeds to puke, alternately over the toilet and trash can next to her bed, for a good hour. Then we get word that yet another freshman, this one a guy, is (a) passed out cold, (b) naked, and (c) on the toilet. I don't know the sordid details of how they deal with that, nor do I want to. Then, on the drive home this morning, Amanda is still feeling sick and, when we stop for lunch, has to go straight to the bathroom of Zaxby's and throw up some more. Then I get home, exhausted, and have to plunge straight into the homework I didn't get a chance to do all weekend...

And now, to top it all off, the one thing I've been looking forward to all weekend - watching the Jaguars beat the Redskins - has just been taken away too, after an exciting, nail-biter of a game, by a Redskins touchdown run in overtime.


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