Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Things I Learned on the Road to Divorce(or from It).

It's been over a year since I was officially divorced on June 5, 2009. To commemorate the wonderful event, I looked back on what I journaled about last year. What I noticed:

1. The pain persists, but it loses intensity. You mourn what you think you lost, but you accept that it's gone. The expectations that you had for an easy, happy life are gone and you have to create your own happiness which is a lot of work. Without the delusion, you have to work on the reality of your relationships.

2. The anger persists, but it fades away. You don't excuse the bad behavior of your former spouse, but you accept that he or she is a douche and you are better off without that person. Some people are on their own path to douchiness and won't change. Anger takes energy and living in itself is exhausting.

3. You gradually gain some optimism that your life someday will be good, even if there is no sign that that is going to happen. You have to have faith in the process of healing, otherwise you don't have the courage to move on. I don't know if I will ever be happy, but I am working on it.

4. You gradually get back some self-esteem. It takes a lot of work, support from others and therapy, but you end up feeling better than when you were married. Whatever your spouse thought of you doesn't matter anymore. You expand your world, try new things and learn to trust yourself.

5. Doing everything around the house by yourself sucks, but you end up accepting your incompetence. My garbage disposal wasn't working until I read the manual to find out that their was a reset button on the bottom. Problem fixed. The pool pump hasn't been back washed in two years. Maybe I will pay someone to do that.

6. There is still the vast divide among you and people that seem to be happily married. I still marvel about the people in their own happy world with me on the outside looking in. It doesn't bother me as much as it used to because I know things aren't always what they seem to be.

7. The negative feelings persist, but you acquire tools to fight them. You step back from your emotions and ask yourself why you are feeling that way. The emotions may not go away, but at least you are looking at the cause and maybe thinking in a new, more positive way.

8. Healing takes time. Everyone heals at their own rate. I feel like I haven't come along fast enough, but then I had a bad day last week, which reminded me how paralyzing depression is. Sometimes depression is an unwelcome guest that pays you an unexpected visit. You have to come out of it in order to gather your energy to face the difficult things that you need to do.

9. The world is still scary, but you gradually gain a little more confidence in yourself to deal with it. Until last year I had never traveled much by myself outside of the state, but I gritted my teeth and got out there. It wasn't fun, but I did it. The world seems to be going to hell and the economy still sucks. I don't know if I will be able to take care of myself. I have to suck it up and try.

10. All the stuff you neglected while you were married come back to haunt you. Lack of friends, lack of investment in your career, lack of investment in yourself have to be dealt with. You have to go out in the world to re-build these things and it takes time and energy.

11. All the childhood issues that you have come out again-fear of abandonment, neediness, fear, rejection all rear their ugly heads. Your inner child is unhappy and needs to be dealt with. You have to grow up and it's painful.

At least I am in a better place than I was last year. That give me hope that the demons will go away, the inner child will shut up, and the pool pump will fix itself.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Deuces Wild Xterra Race Report

Sometimes races are difficult to the point that no matter how much you train, all you can do is get through the race. Xterra races usually fall into this category. The swim may be like any other triathlon, but the bike and the run require strength and technical skill. Riding and running up a steep hill are HARD. A lot of times these races are at locations with altitude, which adds another challenge. You are exerting yourself physically, but without enough oxygen.

Deuces Wild Triathlon is held in Show Low, Arizona with an altitude of about 6000 feet. It's actually an Olympic and half iron on Saturday, with the Xterra on Sunday. Some people are insane enough to race on Saturday AND Sunday. It's held at Fool Hollow Lake.

You would think that the weather at 6000 feet in June would be cool. You would be wrong. It was hellaciously hot in the afternoon. To make matters worse, I decided to try camping. I was hoping to camp at Fool Hollow Lake so that I wouldn't have to drive around a lot, but the campground filled up early. It is the nicest campground in the area. Instead I ended up camping at Show Low Lake. It turned out to be party central for a group of people. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep Friday night. The partiers fell asleep, then the birds started singing at 3:45. Normally, I like hearing birds, but I just wish they wouldn't start so damn early in the morning.

Saturday, I got up and had a hard time convincing myself to run. Altitude makes me feel crappy the first day. I felt better when I was running, but it was really beginning to get warm. I was planning on doing the bike pre-ride, but I was doubtful about doing the whole thing in the heat. I decided to jump in the Show Low Lake to cool off. It felt great and I was even shivering a little when I got out.

It turned out that the pre-ride was too hot. I lasted about 30 minutes, then turned around with some other people when I started getting heat stress. It turned out that the worst of the ride was what I missed. I ended up getting a lot of surprises on race day.

Race day night was even worse that Friday. Late partiers, dog barking, car alarm and what not contributed to another lousy night of sleeping. Hopefully, I disturbed the partiers when I got up at 4:30 a.m., but I doubt it. Loud partiers deserve a special place in hell.

Race day, the weather started cool, but rapidly got warmer. I was a little warm in my wetsuit. The water was fairly warm. I had on a full wetsuit anyway, since I thought the water would be too cool for a sleeveless.

Swimming in altitude requires a strategy on not starting out too hard. If you start too hard, then it's difficult to make up the oxygen deficiency because you can't pant when you swim, so you end up hyperventilating to try and make up the deficit. I started out slow and didn't go much faster. I was able to go at a steady rate without having to stop and pant. Others in the back of the pack with me weren't so fortunate from the amount of moaning and groaning I heard. I have been there. It isn't much fun panicking in the middle of the lake. I though the water was a little nasty. It was cloudy with algae and it had a boat fuel smell. I finished in 28 minutes.

I started out the bike leg by falling in the first mile. The trail goes under a highway underpass, which is a lot of loose dirt and rocks. Then you head into the woods. Riding in the woods is a new experience for me. The dirt and rocks seemed the same as the desert, but the trees cast shadows on the trail making it hard to see all the hazards. There was the usual rocks and dirt to try and manuever through.

The first obstacle is a four foot fence that you have to lift your bike over and then climb over. The trail gradually ascends to a water tower. You turn right and try to make a descent of a steep rutted drop. I went down this cautiously because there were some deep trenches to trip you up. You actually go on a paved road for a while, then into the dirt. The climb goes up gradually through burned out forest, then turns into the trail from hell. Climbing up a steep hill on a mountain bike is hard enough. Add some rocks and it is doublly difficult. They also threw in some giant logs to crawl over or under. I ran out of energy and oxygen before I could make it to the top. I ended up walking, which I hate. I think these races would be a lot more fun if the bike leg was shorter-by about seven miles.

You get to the top and then have the problem of getting down. The descent had areas that scared the hell out of me. Part of the difficulty of mountain biking is the fear factor. You see a steep descent and you have to decide if it's doeable or if you are risking bodily injury by attempting it. It's like skiing, where you get to the top of a steep descent and then freak out. I erred on the side of caution, maybe too much. But when you are tired, your skills levels go down. By this time I wanted to be in easier terrain and my knee was hurting. It seemed like the trail was going forever. Having not ridden the trail, I didn't know what was ahead.

I got to the only aid station, which was less than halfway through. I was getting worried because I had already ridden 80 minutes. They told me the way back was much easier and it was. The trail lets out on a forest road, which was downhill and a breeze to ride. Then you go back the same way you went out with a final push up to the water tower. I made the hill yesterday, but I was out of gas at that point and walked. There is a steep descent and I chickened out on that as well. It was probably rideable, but I was out of ride. You go through the woods and then have to climb over the fence again to get back to transition.

By the time I started the run, I was exhausted. I had hoped to actually race the run, but it wasn't to be. The first mile features a hill called the Eliminator. It lived up to it's name. The first mile took me fifteen minutes. I hoping it would get better. I was pouring water over myself and stuffing ice down my bra because it was really hot at this point. Faster people have no idea how bad it gets on the run in the heat when you are slow. I made up some time after the Eliminator and was going fairly well, then tripped. Wet shirt covered with dirt. Wonderful. How Xterra.

I got to wash the dirt off later on the trail. The scenery was pretty when you ran over the dam. There were cliffs to the left. You ran down to the water and then had to wade into the water for 25 feet. It was shallow, so I just waded. The water felt really good. You come to a second water crossing which is chest high. I ended up swimming the last 15 feet. Swimming in running shoes is awkward. They fill up with water and weigh down your legs. I got out the water and sloshed to the finish line. Total time was about 3:50. I was well down in the standings, but second in my age group because there were only two of us. We get credit for showing up.

I am glad I did this race for experience, but I am not sure if I will do it again. The races are well organized, but they are tough. Maybe too tough. Even though I did my best, I felt like the trail was conquering me rather than I conquering it. It's nice to have a challenge to see what you can accomplish even if you aren't quite up to doing it really well. If I always stayed in my comfort zone, I would be bored. Maybe I will try the road Olympic. When it isn't hotter than hell. And NO camping.