Monday, May 30, 2011

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

This weekend, the kids and I set out for another holiday adventure at "Camp Rob". This is my nickname for the amazing home my Uncle Rob and Aunt Marianne have in West Virginia. They live in a beautiful community about 20 minutes from Shepherdstown. My sister and I have made a tradition out of spending Labor Day/Memorial Day weekends at Rob's whenever possible. We love this place so much that my sister got married there last October.

I call it "Camp Rob" for two reasons:
1. It is like summer camp for kids and adults alike. (Swimming, fishing, biking, checking out the alpacas and horses in the neighborhood, cycling, bonfires, etc.)
2. Visiting Rob and Marianne generally turns into a great tri training weekend for me. This was my first outdoor ride since October, the pond is great for swimming, and their neighborhood has rolling hills for running.

Of course weekends in WVA begin with a stop at the outlets. (The only store-specific credit card I have is for The Children's Place....I always clean up for the kids there). The kids were troopers, and we had my cousin Marie along for the trip. They did find some fun along the way.

Of course the outlets have nothing on "Camp Rob". Did I mention that the meals are incredible? We all pitch in with prep and cleaning, but Rob and Marianne cook amazing meals when we visit. Even burgers taste better in WVA.

(My daughter helping with breakfast preparations)

Sunday, after a wonderful breakfast, Rob, Marianne, and I set out for a ride. (After I oogled Marianne's SRAM shifters). The scenery there is beautiful. We rode through historic Civil War areas, beautiful countryside, and into historic Shepherdstown. There was one really "nice" hill, and lots of rollers. My quads burned like they hadn't in ages. I was thankful for First Endurance EFS and my super comfy Canari cycling shorts to keep me from bonking.

It felt so good to ride. I MISSED that feeling. It has only been in the past two weeks that I felt the spark to train and compete again, and this ride totally fueled the fire. The post-ride cool-down was a swim in the pond with the kids. (This meant me swimming and pushing them around on rafts, plus a serious water fight).

I got in a little Mommy time, too. I love to read, and it is something I don't get to do much of. While icing my knee, and enjoying an adult beverage, I got to finish The Paris Wife. (A fantastic read, I must say). My son kept me company, very content to do his own thing.

It dawned on me yesterday that it was the first time in a VERY long time that I wasn't planning or prepping for the next thing. I was just enjoying BEING with my children and my family. Of course I missed Tommy, but I am glad he got to enjoy some "down" time (he didn't get to relax a whole lot between home improvements and a softball tournament). It felt so good for me to really be "in the moment". I wish I was better at doing that more often.

What better way to end a wonderful day than with a bonfire. I can't stand milk chocolate, so I modified the traditional Smores recipe to include dark chocolate..... Y-U-M!

I am so thankful to have awesome family, and a heavenly place to spend a holiday weekend. Thank you Rob and Marianne (and Mere, Trevor, and Marie for helping with the kids so I could ride and run).

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rev3 Knoxville Volunteer Report

After being sidelined by injury for the first part of the season, my "race" plan has changed repeatedly. Last year I missed out on Rev3 Knoxville, which was the first meeting for our team. I didn't want to miss out again this year. When I realized I wouldn't be racing in May/June, the trip became more of a possibility. Even better- my teammate Laura was driving down from Connecticut, so we could travel together.

The weekend was bittersweet for me. Our dogs were sick and I had a lot of guilt about leaving. They had been declining for months, so this wasn't particularly new, but it still tore at my heart to leave them. At the same time, I knew seeing my teammates would be good for my soul, and my amazing husband never said a word about keeping it all together at home. I am so thankful for his support of this crazy tri habit (and everything that has come before).

In true Team Trakkers style, my first in-person meeting with Laura M. was as we left for our 8.5 hour drive. Thankfully, our team is full of amazing people. Laura and I got to know each other well on the drive...and while waiting for "fast" food (and coffee)on the way down. I don't think my endless rambling drove her too crazy...she has twin 5-year-olds, so she can handle me!

We were rooming with Laura W., who arrived earlier in the day. Saturday was up early for the practice swim. It was like a reunion seeing so many good friends, and meeting new teammates. Thanks to social networking, the ice had been broken months ago. My dear friend and teammate Kati and I hung out while everyone else swam. Kati was awesome to babysit for Jill's kids, and I got to hang with them for a bit during the swim. Of course Kati and I did a little goofing off, with the munchkins egging us on. All I can say is thank goodness I jump higher than her, because she definitely swims, bikes, and runs faster than me! ;)

At the expo, we checked out the Recovery Pump booth with "Recovery Pump Doug", and met Trakkers Pro Courtenay Brown at the Kestrel Booth.
On to Volunteering
I got to volunteer packet pickup with Laura M., Colleen, and Kristin. I managed to elbow, er, work my way to the pro line at registration. It was a lot of fun checking in a mix of pros and age groupers. I got to tell Julie Dibens how much I enjoy following her on twitter. Laura and I got to goof off a bit, too.

Dinner was great, with Mike, Laura, and Laura. Nothing like some good Southern BBQ. Then Laura x2 and I wandered looking to get some coffee for the next such luck. Thankfully it was there in the lobby when we woke up.

Sunday brought the Tri-Slide Pit. Team Mom Carole asked if we would help spray athletes down with Tri Slide in Transition. Hmmm.... let me think....spray down a bunch of triathletes with lube...including some very fit men...I'm in! (Of course it really wasn't quite that exciting, but tons of fun). Being the vocal one, I did lots of yelling to encourage people to come visit us. Lesson learned: don't spray 9 cans of TriSlide near the black transition mats...thankfully we fixed that problem. It was great to encourage teammates as they got ready for their races, and promote a great product.

Teammates Mike Moore and Jeff Vanis
The next stop was the finish line. I think this was seriously the coolest part of volunteering. Yes, I got to see the pros finish, but my favorite part was even neater than that. I worked at the beginning of the finish chute, making sure spectators didn't cross in front of athletes. Once the age groupers started coming in, I had the pleasure of helping kids connect with their athlete family members to run to the finish line. This is why I LOVE Rev3.

There were two incredibly inspiring moments at Rev3 Knoxville:
- The first was a wife whose husband passed away three weeks prior. They were supposed to complete the race together, and she chose to continue in his honor. She finished with several family members, and the race announcer had the crowd worked into a frenzy for her.
- The other amazing group were the Owen family. They founded an organization called Caroline Can! Caroline suffered a traumatic brain injury, and her family works to raise funds and raise awareness. Caroline and two family members completed the race as a challenged athlete relay team. The spirit of their team and all of their cheerleaders was amazing!

Laura and I had to pack up before the end of the race, but it was an awesome weekend. I am so thankful to be on a team with such amazing people. I look forward to seeing them like I look forward to catching up with an old friend. Did I mention our teammates have awesome spouses, too? (Emily, Michele, Paul.....all of the Team Trakkers family members rock!).

Knoxville was awesome. (There was even a great Farmers Market up the street from the host hotel on Saturday). The drive home, not so much fun. After sitting in traffic for 90+ minutes (literally parked for a period of it), we passed this sign.....

You think?

Laura was an awesome travel buddy (though she is a super healthy eater so I was worried about being the "bad" one). Thankfully, she has a dark chocolate habit. I knew I liked her!

Next up...Volunteering Rev3 Quassy

Monday, May 16, 2011

Goodbye, Sweet Boys

Today was a very hard day. We had to say goodbye to Spanner and Spridel, our beloved companions for almost 14 years. When we grieve, we remember, so today we are thinking about them. We got out a lot of old pictures, which has brought a lot of laughs and reminiscing.

Tommy and I began dating 18 years ago, but took a three-year "intermission". During a phase where we weren't speaking, we both got dogs (literally within weeks of one another). Tommy rescued Spridel from a woman in Virginia who advertised the puppies but had them flea-ridden and in bad shape. He also bought Spridel's sister. Both dogs came down with Parvo, but we always joked that Spridel was too stubborn to succumb. Tommy trained Spridel, and he was always a great listener. Spridel got his name from the cartoon "Speed Racer", and was nicknamed "Sprinkle" for his tendency to lose control of his bladder when he was a puppy and got excited.

I hadn't planned on getting a dog, but then my friends Catherine and Larry had a pregnant Golden Retriever. I was there when the puppies were born on July 4, 1997. Some time later, the dogs did not all have homes. I became the proud owner of Spanner (aka Star Spangled Banner, aka Sir Spanner of Ashton, aka Spanks), a reddish Golden Retriever. He went to formal puppy school, and never listened nearly as well as Spridel.

Spridel and Spanner became brothers before they were a year old. They were very different dogs, but spent their lives together. Spridel loved his personal space, but was never mean. Spanner thought he was a lap dog and would try to sit all 90+ pounds in my lap on a regular basis. Spridel loved to smell everything (especially as his hearing went). Spanner had breath you avoided smelling at all costs. Spridel had his ear cut by the tooth of another dog while playing. Spanner had belly surgery after eating a tin can.

When we had our children, Spridel and Spanner welcomed the onslaught of crumbs on the floor, and were always very mild-mannered. We will miss our boys terribly, but they gave us so many wonderful years. Their time had come, and they are no longer in pain. I am so thankful that they passed peacefully, and together, after spending so much of their lives together. Rest in Peace, sweet boys.