Sunday, December 31, 2006

31-12-06

I had a wonderful Christmas. I can't pinpoint any one thing that happened or tell you about any fantastics gifts that I received. I just was really happy all the time. First we had a Christmas at home in Modena because Olly was going to be in Viareggio with her father's side of the family. This is the first time we've ever done this and I will be doing it in the following years. We've always either been at Piero's family's house or Olly away. This year I told P that I absolutely wanted our family to have a Christmas first. We all loved it.

The next day P and Evan and I drove the 800 kms down to Puglia. It took us a record thirteen hours to get there. There was so much traffic and accidents it was ridiculous. We had prepared well though so we listened to lots of Christmas music and then a reading of the "Jungle Book" on CD for Evan. Actually we listened to it five times in a row...Evan napped for about four hours midway through the trip. He was so good I couldn't believe it. He never complained or cryed or anything! Just went with the flow with us.

In Puglia we have a second house but we convinced Evan to sleep over at Grandma's house , which gave us the opportunity to do a lot of unmuffled, unscheduled, spontaneous love making.
That in itself was a Christmas celebration!
The 26th is still a holiday over in Italy. Piero asked me what I wanted to do and I said I really wanted to go to the beach, have a coffee and watch the sunset. We brought a really good friend with us and set out towards the shore. About two miles from the beach we stopped to look at a property that's up for sale. We know that we don't want to stay in Modena forever and will be looking to move someplace else in about five years, but we haven't decided where yet. One thing we agree on is that it has to be near a beach. The property we look at was ridiculously expensive and way out of our budget, but it was nice to see and I loved the view from that side windows:


Part of my being happy was in not having anything "to do". Since I am self employed I could work like 24 hours a day. Somehow I never feel like I deserve time off, but I do. That is something that is going to change in 2007: more specific time off where I turn the computer off and just spend time doing nothing with my family. Or something with my family. Or just going to the beach to watch the sunset.

2006 was a good year. It was emotionally difficult but I solved a lot of problems that I'd had for years. No, nothing that I want to expose to the internet world, but problems that I had been pushing back, hoping they would go away on their own. When it was quite obvious they wouldn't, I am proud to say I dove straight into dealing with them. I feel like this year was a transition time, gearing up for what is to come. I feel extremely positive. I am so content it makes me break into a spontaneous smile just writing this sentence. 2007 is going to be a fantastic year. I can feel it.


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Gotta go gotta go gotta go....

I had a FANTASTIC Christmas...I just haven't had the time to post anything...but I will soon...I'm trying to set up the new site and in doing so came across this FANTASTIC tool.
It's called the Color Palette Generator. Very Cool. All you do is upload a photo and it then spits out a color palette that matches your photo. Try it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

OMG

If you knew me well you'd know that I am a rather unpolitical person. I still vote (by mail), but I don't get into debating anything or keep up on how many seats the democrats or republicans have in congress. But I was appalled this morning when I read this article. It makes me totally sick. The world is so screwed up sometimes...

Monday, December 18, 2006

R.I.P.

Yesterday I was able to talk Olivia into watching Evan for an hour while I went running. Actually, money talks...she accepted when she realized that I was paying her. "Watching" is also a big word since when I got home I found him in front of the television looking at cartoons and her reading a book in her room...anyway, I was able to run for an hour and ten minutes which was great. I went on a route near my house called "Tre Olmi" (three elms, still gotta search for where those trees are). It's a popular route for both runners and cyclists because there is not a lot of traffic and it's a perfect four km rectangle. Since Baldini lives five miles from here and runs all of his quality workouts on this road, they measured it with one of those accuracy wheels. Anyway, halfway through the workout, on the side of the road I found this wheel. So funny, could just imagine the scene...it says: "Veteran of successes from all around the world, during a training in balance devastatingly fell to the ground - causing general hilarity among all - His friends "will remember it!"

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Worry Not!


I wrote the Candia organization and asked them to send me the bike route altitudes. Though I still have to train for the race, if I don't day-dream I should be okay. It's flat as a pancake and actually sort of unchallenging. I'm going to have to also be patient with all the drafting that I'll be seeing. Maybe I'll make a "No Draft" sign to sew on the back of my bike outfit!
I went out for 50 minutes of pain free run today. My left leg is no longer bothering me. There is a strange pain when I breath on the left side of my chest, but anything different from what I'm used to is welcome. I went to the exercise class yesterday where the instructor had us do a ton of situps. I have no ab muscles and the minute I do one teeny weeny sit up I start to cramp. I'm so pathetic...My glutes are getting stronger though, I just have to do some more work in the tummy area.
Bye!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Winter Wakeup

The organization for the Candia (Long?) Triathlon came out with the rules and regulations. They're giving a four and a half hour cutoff for the combo on the swim (3km) and bike (80km). This basically means that I have to haul a** on the bike if I want to make the cutoff time. Good thing I have another five months to train for it! It's a good goal, I just need to sit down and map out how I'm going to go about doing this. I am inspired by the time rather than discouraged. This is good :-)

Friday, December 08, 2006

Festa della Madonna

Here in Italy today is a national holiday, the Immaculate Conception or Festa della Madonna. Banks and schools are closed, but there is mad holiday shopping going on. It's also my Dad's 75th birthday (Happy Birthday Dad!). Yesterday I went to an Arts and Crafts Christmas fair near my house. I did a lot of looking, skipped all the dolls and Christmas balls and then ended up at just one booth that had a ton of rubber stamps. I got two sets of letters, five colours of ink and this angel hole puncher. This could turn into a very expensive hobby. When I got home and showed them to the kids they went CRAZY over the letters. Evan was spelling his name quite well E-V-A-N until mid afternoon when he decided he really liked "S" and "M" too. So now he insists that his name is spelled E-S-A-M. I tried argueing with him about if for about five minutes and then gave up. Esam, pronounced Evan.

On the athletic side of my life I went swimming yesterday and repeated the 10 x 100mt workout I had done two months ago. I've gone from 2'10" to 1'55"/1'59" - yay me! And that's only on swimming once a week. Just think what I could do if I actually started, I don't know, training? I'll get there!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wrap me up in a red bow!

I received an email from one of the guys that I had trained for the Venicemarathon this year. I met him at the expo before the race with his wife and little girl. They were so nice, I really enjoyed talking to them and hearing the non running wife's tales about following her husbands training. He had a really good race for his first marathon too - 3h31'.
So today he wrote me to let me know that for Christmas his wife had given him six months of training with me. I am someone's Christmas present. That thought makes me smile :-)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A REAL bike workout

Outdoor bike workout

Outside temperature: 7 c° (44 f)
Total distance: 38km (23 m)
Clothing worn: two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, balaclava, skull cap, two long sleeve N1ke tees, winter cycle pants, winter cycle jacket.
Number of other cyclists seen: 12
Food consumed: 1 litre water, half a powerbar, one really delicious and piping hot cappuccino at the turnaround.
Money paid to babysitter: 18,00 euro (23 usd)

Piero is in Rome again and Evan is still sick. I had to get out of the house or I was going to go crazy. It's cold outside but no ice on the road so I thought I'd go for a spin on the bike. It was great! I don't know if I can keep it up (totally depends on the road conditions) but I'd love to be able to go out biking at least once a week. The other two workouts during the week could be done on the trainer, but I'd go nuts if I had to do it all winter long. I have to get those thingys that cover your shoes and I'll be set. Actually, if the roads did get too cold I could use the mountain bike since it has those big fat tires. Anyway, good workout :-)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Swim workout...sort of...

This morning I was able to find time to go swimming with Linda. I LOVE swimming with her since it seems to make the whole workout pass by faster...which it doesn't because we yack, yack, yack so much that we spend half the time chatting, which doubles the time in the pool. Sometimes we actually only start swimming again because we get cold talking while not moving...Oh, we're good on the run though!
I'm going to start using some workouts from this site. The workout timings are generated from parameters that you put in. I had already put in my times for 10 x 100mts but nothing else so I decided to time myself for the 3 x 500mts. They came out 11'49" - 11'42" - 11'44" which was actually not terrible for me. I thought I'd do worse. I was swimming slow and without much purpose so I feel pretty confident that I can improve once I have a little more swim direction.

Olivia and I went grocery shopping after school today. It was nice to go around with her and look at all the Christmas stuff they were putting out. She was sure to point out to me all things that I could buy her for Christmas. So many choices, so little money...but I will buy her one nice thing. She really deserves it :-)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The "How to make POLENTA" entry

A few weeks ago I switched from counting points on Weight Watchers to their Core Program. I don't know if it will work (still too early to say), but I have to say that I love it. They give you a list of foods that you can eat until you are satisfied (big key here) plus an extra 35 points during the week to play with. This works well for my triathlon and marathon training since a) I no longer feel like I'm starving myself to lose a few pounds b) the foods on the list is what I normally eat anyway.
So one of the foods on the WW Core list that you may eat when you want is...Polenta! I go on theWW boards every a few times a week and was sad to see that many of my fellow Americans have no idea what polenta is or (gasp) buy it ready made at the supermarket. So, I'm going tshow you how easy and inexpensive it is to make.

The first thing you want to do is go and buy a box or bag of polenta. It usually comes in 16 or 32 oz. When you open the box up you'll see that it is actually ground corn. It will be roughly ground up, not fine like flour. Don't be surprised to see little brown specks in it, especially if you buy an organic type. Please don't buy the "instant" kind. It's not the same. Sort of the same difference in buying instant oatmeal or steel cut oats.

Take a big pot, like a soup pot, and fill it with two litres (or 1 and 3/4 quarts) of luke warm water.



Add one tablespoon of rock salt.


Measure out 500 grams (or 1 lbs, 1 oz.) of dry polenta and slowly drizzle it into the WARM water while stirring. You want to then turn your stove on and cook it (moderate heat) while stirring it with a wood spoon at least every minute. In this first photo it's really watery and milky looking...

...this is five minutes later and it's already starting to firm up...


Geez...I'm such a bad photographer! Anyway, this is about fifteen minutes into cooking and you can see that it's getting clumpy. At this point you can put the flame (or electric coil?) on low and go back and stir it every few minutes so that it doesn't burn, but it still needs to cook another ten or fifteen minutes. You will know when it is done because when you stir, the polenta comes off and away from the bottom or sides of the pot. From start to finish this should be about 30 minutes. Now that it's cooked you want to take the whole pot of it...

...and spread it out on a clean table. You can just use a wood spoon to spread it out, it should be about an inch and a half high. In some rustic restaurants in the northern Italy they'll put the polenta directly on your table and have you eat off of it. At home you can either take a serving right there while it's hot, put it in a bowl and put your favorite topping on it OR you can wait until its cool and firm and...



...Grill it. I don't use any oil when I grill pieces of polenta but sometimes I'll put on a little olive oil once they're done. You can top them with - pieces of melted cheese - tomato sauce - vegetable sauces - cut up pieces and put them in salads.


If you have any leftover (or you want to cook it up to use for grilling later) just slice it into big chunks, put into plastic wrap, and put it in the fridge. It'll keep for up to a week, but I've never actually had it last that long since we eat it up pretty fast! Buon Appetito!!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ugh. It's Monday.


BOTH kids are now sick and I may go crazy doing ten loads of wash a day (one for every time one of them unloads the nothing they have in their stomach...). The only good news to this is that Piero and I seem immune to whatever strain of virus this is so we can give our full attention to the children.
I went and had an MRI on my back this afternoon. After seeing the x-rays I don't think that they'll find anything different here but it was already ordered and it only cost me twenty-five dollars so I had it done. I'll have the results ready on Thursday. It wasn't painful doing the actual process. It was just this big machine taking pictures, but I had to lie on my back in the same position without moving for forty minutes. My back hurt like crazy and then my left leg (the one that hurts more) fell asleep. It'll be cool to have the pictures though, certainly worth all the pain!
I was able to get a quick run in (see sidebar) which will save me from going house crazy...

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Poll

I went to Firenze yesterday on occasion of the Firenze Marathon. I didn't actually stay and watch the race, I just went to the expo cause I can get every business contact that I have under one roof and take care of business meetings in one big swoop. I do love Firenze, I spent a good twelve years of my life there...loads of fun, loads of boyfriends, my entire twenties and the first part of my thirties. I still have a lot of friends there so it's always nice to catch up with people. I don't regret moving away because the traffic there is hideous. I mean the whole town is pretty flat, you'd think that there'd be more bicycles use. I know I always used one, even if I lived on the hill above the Ponte Vecchio. Anyway, I had my second encounter with a live Tri Drs member! Lee Crumbaugh! We met for coffee, talked away an hour and then went to the expo together. I saw that he didn't have as good a race as he had hoped for :-( - Oh well.

Evan was with me and on the way home he threw up in the car in the first ten minutes of a ninety minute drive. I had a change of clothes so I did that on the side of the road and then had to have him ride with me up front since the back was no longer usable. We got home and then he started going to the bathroom. Continuously. Today he's heaved about twelve times, can't even keep water down. He seems okay now, he ate a banana few hours ago and that seems to be sticking. He'll be home this next week though so I've already lined up a babysitter for a few exercise sessions.

So, let's get to the title of this entry! I started "five in five" as a guerilla blog, to be put up and then taken down as soon as I got to my original goal. But then I kept blogging and this blog turned into something other than my losing five kgs (which I have to RE-do btw...). So. Poll.

a) Do I keep the Five in Five title and just keep blogging (thus keeping also all the archives)
b) Do I change it to a brand new blog with a more appropriate title (already chosen!) but losing those archives?

On one hand I love new changes, on the other I hate cutting with the past.
Cast your vote please!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Turnaround


So I woke up this morning and the sky was turquiose blue. Hey! Did I make that happen? It's amazing what a change of attitude can do. I brought Olly to school and then brought Evan to school and then rushed off to go get my new Ipod! Last April my best buddy, triathlon pal IronMauro presented me with an Ipod as a gift! I was moved to tears as it was totally unexpected and overgenerous. Now I know I'm a freak (because my daughter tells me this once a day) but I never use my ipod for music. I use it for listening to podcasts and audio books. I can clean the whole house effortlessly listening to a talk show, or go running with Zen and the Art of Triathlon. By the way, with so many triathlon podcasts out there, I had to sort through a lot of them before I settled on this one. My dad was a radio broadcaster (aka as a d.j.!), plus he taught voice for broadcasters for over forty years so whenever someone is "on the air" saying "hmmm, uhhhh, mmmmm, so, so, mmmm...) I just cringe. Brett (zen etc) did that at the begining but he seems to have gotten better at it and eliminated a lot of dead air time.

So the thing I love about this moment of my triathlon training is the dreaming. While I still sit here with ten extra pounds bolting me to the ground and I haven't even really taken a spin on the bike outside in like a month...I dream of myself going really fast and feeling really light and having a great time! Dream on...

Like yesterday, I couldn't find a photo that pertained to this post so I put up Evan's ten month old feet! Piero had to do a presentation for N1ke when they came out with the Free shoe so I told him that the best example of a human using their feet is in babies before their first birthday. They use them like they're hands. I call(ed) him "my little monkey". So cute!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Snap-Out-Of-It!


I gotta snap out of it...gotta gotta gotta... snap-out-of-it! Winter is here and it's grey outside. So grey that I have to have the lights on in the house in the morning because it's too dark to see. So grey that I wish I had one of those light lamps to make me peppy again instead of depressed. So grey that all I want to do is bake cookies for the kids instead of going out to run or bike or swim or exercise BUT if I keep this up for one more minute I will turn into a cow. A depressed cow. The only thing to do is to have a plan, so now I present to you the Five in Five "first half of 2007 race calendar"!! I knew you'd be just as excited as I am.



- "Madonnina 12,2 km" - January 14 - This is our neighborhood race which usually hosts about 1500 runners. I'd consider this a "C" race for me but a good indication whether I'm heading in a good direction. Last year I completed it in 1h06'30".

- "San Gemingano" - January 31 - SG is the patron saint of Modena and this is a classic road race of 13,7 km. It's a holiday for the city so it's held at 3.00pm in the afternoon and they close most of the streets off for it. There are usually about 2500 runners, even the President of Italy runs it every year. Last year I didn't run it 'cause I was sick (or that's what it says on the running diary), so I'm looking forward to running this year.

- "Roma-Ostia Half Marathon" - February 25 - Definately an "A" race. This is the largest half marathon in Italy with 8000 runners. I ran it last year in 1h59'15". The girl in the photos on this entry is Piero's athlete R0salba C0nsole. She came in second. I always feel bad that Piero has to wait around an hour for his wife to finish, but that's life. (btw, the pics are of her in San Moritz doing exercises). I have decided that I won't be running any marathons in 2007 unless I can get down to like a 1h51'00" on the half. A lot of cosmic stars would have to line up for that to happen...but you never know. I love half marathons, so that is a plus.

- April - Still undecided. I'm sure I'll be doing a medio fondo bike race (around 100km) and/or another half marathon but I won't be able to plan until the beginning of the year when work plans take shape.

- "Candia Long Distance Triathlon" - May 13 - This year the organization is conforming to ITU standards and changing their formula to 3000mt/80km/20km which in reality is just doubling the Olympic race length. I like this since it's just a change in the swim from what I did in Mergozzo this last summer. I sort of choked at looking at the swim, but the truth is that a) if I actually do some training, I'm a good swimmer. I was just looking at some old race times...36 minutes for 2000mt in 2001! I-need-to-train. b) It gets me close to that Ironman standard length so that if I do attempt the Ironman in the future (2008?) 3,800mt won't be so intimidating.

My Calendar plan has to stop here and then be revised for the summer since we never know how our work schedules are for the summer. I already feel less depressed (plus I just looked out the window and it's stopped raining and I see a patch of blue sky!!!)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Me and my back - Part 2

For as far back as I can remember, I have always turned to alternative medicine when I was having too many aches and pains. Granted, if there is an emergency I do take antibiotics. Both my children are vaccinated. But the thing that draws me to alternative medicine is that they always look at the cause of the problem rather than trying to fix what has already happened.
This is really important in athletics because if you have say a tendinitis and you try and heal the tendine without looking at how or why you developed it in the first place, it will most likely come back or never heal properly. I'm also very lucky in my amateur athletic endeavors because with my husband dealing with elite athletes and their injuries, he knows who the best and most effective doctors, therapists and treatments are for running injuries. We chose who we consider the best Osteopath in Italy, whose name is Gianni. First he had me do some x-rays which revealed: Scoliosis on upper back along with Spondylosis At the D6 - D8 where the two conditions coincide. In the lombar-sacral area there's a bunch of stuff that's difficult for me to translate but...I can say that my L5 has slipped down (you can see it protruding out with the naked eye) and loss of space around surrounding L3 and L4.
On my first visit with Gianni he took about 30 minutes to...do whatever he does...worked on my hips and then neck and head area. About two weeks later I was able to magically get out of bed. Like a normal person. After three years of pain. On the second visit he did his treatment and again, two weeks later I am feeling fine. I asked him if I'd ever be "cured". He asked me what I meant by that. I guess what I mean is without pain. The scoliosis I've always had since as far back as I can remember I've always had one shoulder lower than the other. The slipped disk has happened over time. There are things that I can do to help them not get worse, but I do have to live with them. In any case he said that yes, I would be without pain. That in itself would be fantastic.
So, now that I can stand up straight without taking ten minutes to stretch out, there are a few things that I'll be changing in my sports life in order to not go back to crawling out of bed.
a) Exercises. I've started going once a week to an exercise class which mainly works on squats, lunges, shoulders, arms and back. The first time I did it I was hobbling around for the following five days. After the second lesson it was only two days of hobbling. Now I'm actually starting to enjoy it and can see that it's really good for my rear-end.
b) More swimming. Well, more than I usually do which is nil.
c) Less weight. Gotta get the famous five kg OFF again if...
d) ...I want to run. Right now I'm running three days a week for only 40 or 50 minutes. I'll be upping that to an hour in december but I've pretty much decided that I will only allow myself to do another marathon if I can break 1h55' on the half. Last year I ran 1h59' into headwinds so there might be a chance to actually so that . I mean, it's not a totally unattainable goal. But with my back situation it's useless to run a marathon if I'm not going to be going toward my ultimate goal, a Boston Qualification. Besides I love half marathons, not too short, not too long.

But I am running again. Without back pain. Straight and upright. It feels so good!

Me and my back - Part 1

The first time I started having problems with my back was in 1992. I remember one day I bent over and couldn't get back up again. I found a chiropractor who could see me that day, he put me on a special table that had these punching things that shot out and cracked the various vertebrae in place. I was good for two years, then it happened again. This time I couldn't get out of bed. I found another doctor who lived only ten minutes away. He didn't have the fancy punching table, he just jumped on top of my back for what seemed like forever. The results were good and I never had the problem again. Move ahead to 2003. While pregnant with Evan my left leg started hurting me at night. The only thing that would give me relief was to sleep in a really contorting position, not easy to do when you have a ten pound fetus in your stomach. The real trouble started after I gave birth. I had a really difficult time getting out of bed in the morning. It improved a little as my fitness came back, but I always had a few moments in the morning where I felt like I was about 80 years old. I started running marathons again, having a little trouble with pain in my shoulders and hips. This last spring while I was out running a race, someone came up to me and said that I was really leaning to the right. I've always had one shoulder lower than the other so I didn't give it a lot of thought. Then in May I was running another race in town where my elite coach husband was on his bike following the lead pack. Afterwards he swung around to find me. When he did he asked (while I was running) "is this as fast as you can go?" After i practically spit on him he told me that I was "twisted". I told him it's been that way for a long time, he just hasn't been paying attention to me. The next day he came with me on a run to watch me and stopped me after three minutes. He said that I was running so contorted that he couldn't bare to watch. Then he had me run with my hands clasped and stretched out on top of my head. It was really difficult to do but after one minute when I would let go I could fly down the road (well, let's say I could run 30 seconds per km faster...). After that it was hard for me to go back to just regular running because now I could really feel the difference between what if felt like to run normal and what if felt like to run contorted. Plus, my back pain was starting to get worse. In the mornings it went all the way from my hips, through my glutes and down the back side of my legs. I had to back up off the bed and get near a wall to be able to stand up. After ten or fifteen minutes I was good to go, but it was obvious that I really needed to get some help.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Picture Pretty

Last week I had to go to the doctors to order some exams for my (bad) back. I had gotten up at about 6.30 am, taken Olly to school and then Evan to nursery school and thus off to the doctor to sit it out in his office. We have socialized medicine over here, but you choose your family doctor and he works with you in getting other specialist appointments. Every time I go to my doctor's office it is absolutely filled with elderly people waiting to see him. I guess as you get older you probably DO need the doctor more, but it always looks like a bunch of people that just aren't really taking good care of themselves! So while I sat in the waiting room with a dozen elderlys over 65, in walked a pharmaceutical representative. She was female and about...40? Give or take a few years. It was a beautiful day out and she was in a white airy skirt, a white blouse with three quarter sleeves, a pair of gold sandles with low heels and perfectly manicured feet. She had on light make-up, a nice haircut that was easy to manage. She also had a nice briefcase with a matching purse. She sat and chit chatted with us all in a pleasant way, asking about the weather, light politics...And while she talked I looked down at myself. I had on some khaki pants but I had spilled tea on them in the morning so there was a little stain, a N1ke t-shirt, a pair of white socks (clean!), and a pair of really comfortable but really really unattractive N1ke clogs (white with orange trim). Hey, they were free! I hadn't put any makeup on. I think I had run a brush through my hair but I can't be sure, I had brushed my teeth. My purse (N1ke again, free again) was the same one I use every single day, no matter what the situation. I suddenly felt like a slob.
See the picture up here? It was taken at a wedding during the summer and it took me three damn days to get ready for it. A leg wax, a manicure, a pedicure, a haircut and blow dry (I have wild hair!) and a new outfit that took me two days to pick out. Once upon a time it was not like this. I used to have a job in fashion where I had to look nice every day. I would get up in the morning and put my make-up on before I got dressed. On weekends I would go clothes shopping for nice outfits to wear at work. Now I am self-employed and spend a lot of my time in my office space at home where I can wear my pajamas all day if I want. Since I go and do some sort of form of exercise every day I usually just throw on a workout clothes in the morning so that I'm already ready to go when I decide it's time to run or bike or swim. Not that I have to put make up on every single day, but maybe I should start having a little more pride in what I wear if I have to leave the house to do errands or shop? I know that I'll always having to force myself to do it, it'll never come as natural to me as the pharmaceutical lady. On the other hand, I DO like feel better about myself when I take some time in the morning to get dressed, even if my three year old is the only one to see me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

The photo on the left is four guys that are part of a group I've trained this year for the Venicemarathon. There were 94 people signed up to the program. They do their longest run (two hours) two weeks before the event and I always invite them to come to my house and do a group run and pot luck lunch. This year twenty people showed up! That's not a lot for a run, but it is for my little house. Good thing the weather was nice and I could seat half of them outdoors. It was fun to have them over, I love the energy of new runners. They're all so excited about getting ready for their first marathon. I get pretty emotional watching them take off and then of course I'll be at the finish line. Their big day is this next Sunday, I can't wait!

The month of september and october have been filled with lots of busy stuff...

- Getting the kids back in school. Evan is now in nursery school full time and it's been a dramatic change for him. We had him ease into it by staying first just an hour with me, then an hour without me, then half a day, and now a full day until four o'clock. He takes a little nap there (I had to make a sleeping bag) which is nice 'cause that way he doesn't come home cranky.

- My work. I'm back logged with projects and plans and it seems like I don't make any headway with anything. I'm really really frustrated here...sometimes it's almost like I have to put my work in last place. Piero is gone a LOT and so I have the children responsability all day, every day. But we do need my income SO I better find a way for this to all work out really fast.

- My sports... I have a bad back. I had x-rays. It doesn't look good. Scoliosis, hyper-lordosis, a slipped disc (L-5) and a bunch of other stuff that I'm too lazy to translate right now. Oh THAT'S why it takes me ten minutes to get out of bed in the morning! I'll write more about this on my next post.

- Five in Five? Need to start over again if you get my drift ...sigh...

Monday, October 02, 2006

I only walked for about two minutes when I decided I'd try and run. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I COULD run. No muscular pain, no heavy legs, just a little fatigued which I'm thinking is normal. The best thing was that I was in really good spirits. I was smiling and talking to people passing me that were on their second loop (of the two 10km loops). It was a beautiful route that went along the lake. I ran from km mark to km mark and then I would walk for about a minute with my arms above my head to stretch out my back. The first loop went fine and when we headed into town and up some stone steps through a small pathway Giorgio and Linda were waiting for me while sitting at a patio restaurant. They had instructed all the patrons in the restaurant to yell my name as I went by - that gave me a real boost! Up a hill and down a dirt road, I drank some coke at the turn around and then went passed the finish area and straight on for my last 10km loop. Now I was really really all alone. Then the strangest thing happened. The 10km loop/route was roped off but people were just milling around. I dodged people and asked others to move out of the way so I could get through but then I got to a wall. There were six (SIX) triathletes that had finished the race that were walking back to their car. They were walking side by side with their bikes and big bags thrown over their shoulders. They were talking and laughing and walking slow and there wasn't any room to get around them. "Excuse me..." but they didn't turn or move. "Sorry, can I get by..." didn't work either. I had to sort of yell "let me through!!!! I'm the last one anyway!", meaning no one else should be wanting to get past and they can hog the entire road up after I passed. The girl, about 26 years old said "Oh Ho! The last one! Well, let me just bow down to you! I didn't realize there were people that slow!". This last comment won her friends approval and they all started laughing. So now they're six years old and I'm four and the best I could do was show them a couple middle fingers as I ran off. Now I was really excited about running those last 10km all alone...NOT! I did have a small breakdown moment but I just talked myself out of it (I swear between the bike and the run I must have looked like some crazy lady!) and started the countdown to the end. I did a lot of walking. I think if there had been somebody else out there with me I might have run some more. One of the volunteers ran with me for a kilometre and then I headed back to town. I couldn't really see my watch without my glasses but then when I realised that I could break six hours I ran the last kilometre without stopping. When I turned the corner and went down the shute there must have been at least a hundred people at the finish line. They all cheered...actually they were all waiting for the winners ceremony to begin, but I got the benefit from it.

Final time: 5:57:03

The next day I was up and about and feeling fantastic when I got a call from the President and organizer from the Mergozzo race. He called to apologize about the bike turn around snafu and let me know they were taking 25 minutes off my final time. He justified ten minutes for the lost time and another fifteen for the "demotivation" that occured in being so far behind. I told him it didn't really matter to me. I don't race, I participate. Besides, I'm already thinking about what improvements I can make for next year.
This last photo is me and Giorgio's daughter - she's so sweet! She watched the whole race too.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

I started the swim out okay though I did get a little panicky every once in awhile. I couldn't tell you why, but whenever it happened I'd just flip over and backstroke. Two women passed by me and I looked back and could see that I STILL wasn't the last - which made me feel better. The course was a rectangle and it was marked by white buoys. The women's caps were also white, so when I looked up or back I couldn't tell if I was looking at a buoy or a cap. Breaststroke, backstroke, freestyle...I would have thrown in the butterfly but it's the only one I don't know how to do. I just kept going and going and switching and doing whatever I could do to go forward. I finally made it to the shore and thought to myself "I survived the swim!!".

2km = 55:00

Just as I stepped out of the water and up the stone stairs I got this MEGA huge cramp in my left calf. There were two volunteers helping me out of the water but I was paralyzed and couldn't move from the pain. It had just completely seized up. Another woman ran over and started to massage it and after what seemed to be about a minute (with two more swimmers coming out of the water and passing me) it finally relaxed and I limped my way towards transition. The rain had stopped by now but water had seeped into my bags. I had a hard time taking my wetsuit off and even more difficulty putting on the biking clothes. Six full minutes later I was out of there and on my way on the bike.

That morning they had announced that they had cut a steep hill out of the bike course because of the rain. They'd already accidents on it last year when it was dry and they didn't want to risk it this year on wet pavement. I knew that the course would be shorter, probably 80km instead of 90km, but nobody would confirm exactly how many kilometres they had cut out. The course was two loops out and back. While going out on the first loop I was passed by the last stragglers from the swim and then by the pros who were on the second loop. The road went up and down and curved around here and there but I never felt it was difficult. The only thing I had to be really careful about were these huge speed bumps that were placed in the town of Vogogno. There were about four of them and they were pretty high and wide. I had to slow down so that my tires wouldn't blow and then try and speed up to make up for the time lost in slowing down. When I started to get back to the turnaround I looked at my odometer and couldn't believe that there were only 37kms. I passed by some official that yelled "first loop!" and then heard Giorgio yell my name and saw Linda standing on the side of the road. I went past all of this and it didn't seem right so I slowed down and asked one of the officials where the turn around was. He pointed me down towards the lake so I went straight ahead but it still didn't feel right. When I finally got down to the lake and asked another official where the turn around was he said "It's not here! It was at the top of the hill!" I whispered "vaffanculo" under my breathe and headed back up the hill. Giorgio and Linda had all my special stuff so I stopped and got my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (thanks Nancy Toby!) and refilled my water and took off. Now I was definately last. I talked out loud to myself for a few minutes, I don't think anybody was listening which is why I did it. I just said that I was there to enjoy my day and who cared if I had ****ed up on the bike course, I was still going fine and I felt good and I was going to make the bike cutoff...I came to the turnaround and then started on the final 18km stretch of the bike. At one point I heard the sound of a truck following me. I knew what that was. It was the ambulance that follows the last person on the course. I motioned for them to come closer to me and even though I knew the answer I asked "am I last?". They confirmed it and told me to take my time, that I was doing great and that I was almost there. A half hour later I rolled into transition and had a little difficulty getting off the bike.

75km = 2:44:22

The weird thing about being last on the course is that people act as if the whole race is over. There were some people mulling around the trasition area and BLOCKING my way.
I did the best I could to quickly change out of my clothes. The transition guy made sure that I went the right way and I was off and...walking...

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Mergozzo Half Ironman - Part III

After record highs in the 100's throughout Europe all summer long, in september it started to rain. It rained so hard it started to flood parts northern Italy with weather alerts and mudslide warnings. Whenever I had daydreamed about my race, rain had never been part of it. I sort of saw it as a farewell to summer celebration, except good weather was part of the day. When they started to predict thunderstorms I started to panic. The saturday before the race going up to Mergozzo, Linda (my traveling companion) and I stopped off at the Bike show in Milan. Besides checking out all the bikes I'll never be able to buy, I did manage to purchase some arm gloves and those booties for my bike shoes. Just in case. I mean saturday was sweltering hot and even in Mergozzo while I was standing in line to pick up my packet it must have been about 80 degrees.
But that night while I was in bed I heard a *CRASH* and recognized it as lightening and then *RUMBLE* came the thunder. It was 5:00 a.m. My friend Giorgio was coming the next day to watch the race and since he was still at home I texted him to bring some trash bags so that I could put my transition stuff in them. He answered me within a minute and then I fell back to sleep for another hour.
I woke up and it was pouring rain. It wasn't really cold but very very wet. When I got down to the transition area NOBODY had set their bike up. Everybody was just sort of huddling under the buildings and waiting until the last minute so that their stuff wouldn't get too wet. At 15 minutes before the men's start I decided to set up my transition and put on my wetsuit. Oops! Haven't tried that on in four years! With a little wiggling around I was able to slip it on, whew! It was still pouring. I separated my running and bike stuff into two different plastic bags, placed my helmet on my bike and hoped that I had remembered to do everything right. I watched the men's start. They had to be called back like ten times and delayed the start by almost ten minutes. After they took off I got in the water to check it out. It was actually warm compared to the outside temperature, plus I forgot how much bouyancy a wetsuit gives you. I just sort of floated in the water for a few minutes and then got ready to start. I positioned myself in the back and just waited for them to give the women's start.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Mergozzo Half Ironman - Part II

My training had its ups and downs all summer. I'm sure that it wasn't "conventional" triathlon training, at least nothing like what I've seen on this list. In June and July I tried to get to the pool a couple times a week and swim at least 2km. I have a chlorine allergy problem and they really load the pools up with it during the summer over here which is why I could never stay in for more than an hour. I went out on the bike as much as I could, which was probably not often enough. My running...well, it just was. I've been having back problems this year which extend to my left leg and hips. Sometimes it's not pretty to watch. My husband had me doing posture exercises while I ran and I was finally able to see my favourite osteopath in August who thinks part of the problem is in the lung region. I had x-rays done the other day that will be ready in a few days...(UPDATE: x-rays came back and I have a really bad scoliosi which curves right where the lungs are) .I needed to keep my running to a minimum so as not to aggravate the problem.
For the month of August we went down to our summer house in Apulia on the Ionian Sea. http://tinyurl.com/eteqs Since I couldn't bring my road bike with me I bought a really cheap mountain bike (usd 130!!) but it was so uncomfortable after a few hours that I never stayed on it for more than that. What I did do was a lot of uphill intervals. Once a week I picked this hill that was about two km straight up and I just road it up and down until I dropped (an hour and a half - I have no resistance). My thighs would quiver when I got off the bike, but the next day I was fine so I knew that I just needed to keep it up. It really worked because when I got back home to Modena in September it was like I had little jets on my legs, riding about 5kph faster than before. My tapering was, hmmm, long. I went on a five day trip to London with my daughter. We had a hotel room next to Kensington Gardens so I went running every morning, but... that was counterbalanced by a visit to Starbucks twice a day and many delicious English Carbohydrates.
The week before the race I went to the pool once and then road my bike for a 45km jaunt...and I started to have my doubts on whether I would actually finish this race or not.

My main problem was this: I knew I would be last. People always talk about what a wonderful country Italy is with the Italians so laid back. Yeah, they have siestas and two hour lunches and one month vacations, but when it comes to sports, they are very very competitive. It's not entirely their fault, they're bred that way. In school when they play sports they're encouraged to participate only in sports that they excel in . No, you're not supposed to run because you enjoy it, you run if you're fast and can be competitive at it. Otherwise it's considered a waste of time. They carry this mentality with them into adulthood and that's where you'll find your competitive "amateurs" . This mentality has laxed a little on the running scene, but not yet with the triathletes. My age group, 45-49 women? There are four of us. Four. In the entire country.
The second problem was this: even though there was no drafting allowed in this race, from the look at the previous year's results everybody was drafting. I knew this because I had already competed against some of the women in Olympic triathlons and they had ALWAYS come in behind me. Knowing that I absolutely would-not-draft I was pretty sure I would be last. The time limits were 1.5 hours for the swim, 6 hours for the swim/bike and 8 for the whole race. My main goal was to finish within the eight hour time limit.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mergozzo Half Ironman - Part II

My training had its ups and downs all summer. I'm sure that it wasn't "conventional" triathlon training, at least nothing like what I've seen on this list. In June and July I tried to get to the pool a couple times a week and swim at least 2km. I have a chlorine allergy problem and they really load the pools up with it during the summer over here which is why I could never stay in for more than an hour. I went out on the bike as much as I could, which was probably not often enough. My running...well, it just was. I've been having back problems this year which extend to my left leg and hips. Sometimes it's not pretty to watch. My husband had me doing posture exercises while I ran and I was finally able to see my favourite osteopath in August who thinks part of the problem is in the lung region. I had x-rays done the other day that will be ready in a few days...(UPDATE: x-rays came back and I have a really bad scoliosi which curves right where the lungs are) .I needed to keep my running to a minimum so as not to aggravate the problem.
For the month of August we went down to our summer house in Apulia on the Ionian Sea. http://tinyurl.com/eteqs Since I couldn't bring my road bike with me I bought a really cheap mountain bike (usd 130!!) but it was so uncomfortable after a few hours that I never stayed on it for more than that. What I did do was a lot of uphill intervals. Once a week I picked this hill that was about two km straight up and I just road it up and down until I dropped (an hour and a half - I have no resistance). My thighs would quiver when I got off the bike, but the next day I was fine so I knew that I just needed to keep it up. It really worked because when I got back home to Modena in September it was like I had little jets on my legs, riding about 5kph faster than before. My tapering was, hmmm, long. I went on a five day trip to London with my daughter. We had a hotel room next to Kensington Gardens so I went running every morning, but... that was counterbalanced by a visit to Starbucks twice a day and many delicious English Carbohydrates.
The week before the race I went to the pool once and then road my bike for a 45km jaunt...and I started to have my doubts on whether I would actually finish this race or not.

My main problem was this: I knew I would be last. People always talk about what a wonderful country Italy is with the Italians so laid back. Yeah, they have siestas and two hour lunches and one month vacations, but when it comes to sports, they are very very competitive. It's not entirely their fault, they're bred that way. In school when they play sports they're encouraged to participate only in sports that they excel in . No, you're not supposed to run because you enjoy it, you run if you're fast and can be competitive at it. Otherwise it's considered a waste of time. They carry this mentality with them into adulthood and that's where you'll find your competitive "amateurs" . This mentality has laxed a little on the running scene, but not yet with the triathletes. My age group, 45-49 women? There are four of us. Four. In the entire country.
The second problem was this: even though there was no drafting allowed in this race, from the look at the previous year's results everybody was drafting. I knew this because I had already competed against some of the women in Olympic triathlons and they had ALWAYS come in behind me. Knowing that I absolutely would-not-draft I was pretty sure I would be last. The time limits were 1.5 hours for the swim, 6 hours for the swim/bike and 8 for the whole race. My main goal was to finish within the eight hour time limit.

Mergozzo Half Ironman - Part I

The last triathlon I remember participating in was in 2002 near Trieste. There was a Bora blowing (http://tinyurl.com/guhk4) and I nearly drowned during the swim and could barely get any speed going on the bike portion. I guess that was part of the adventure though because at the end of the race I was already making plans with my friend Giorgio to go back the next year. That never happened though because that winter I was pregnant at 42 with my second child. I had Evan the following fall and had a tough time getting back in shape. I did though. I lost the pregnancy weight and I was running again fairly decently after a year. Eighteen months later I ran my first post pregnancy marathon. I really wanted to get back into triathlons but now I had two children and a husband that was away for work almost every single week so I just couldn't find the time to get to a pool or go for a two or three hour bike ride. Running was always easy though so I kept that up. I ran another marathon and then another and then...yawn...another...
One more year passed, and one became two and the thought of running another marathon just wasn't doing it for me any more. That's when I saw the advertisement for the Monaco Half Ironman. OOHHHHhhh...I could do that...now THAT excited me! They hadn't started accepting registrations yet but I got all the information on it from the tridrs list and then from some forums in Italy from people that had participated the previous inaugural year. I was visiting that site every second I could , studying the course, waiting for them to open registration. At the same time I started my triathlon training again: hitting the pool a couple of times a week (the baby was now in daycare), and going for long scenic rides on my bike on the weekends. I had that buzz back, I had a purpose to my training again which is really (for me) ninety percent of my incentive. An email from the Monaco organization announced that they were open for registration and that I'd better hurry since all the spots would be taken immediately. I typed as fast as I could and had nearly gotten to the end of the form when I noticed the price tag. 300,00 euro. A thirty percent increase in price from the previous year. It's not that I couldn't afford it, but I just couldn't justify plopping down 300,00 euro for a half ironman. Not right now. Not for a re-entry race. I was a little crushed but then my friend (and ex tridrs member) Mauro Mongarli suggested the Mergozzo "Medio" of 2km/90km/20km. Mergozzo is a very very small lake an hour north of Milan right above Lago Maggiore and just a few kilometres from the Swiss border. The entry fee was only 60,00. I signed up the next day.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Happy Birthday Cutey Pie!


Birthday number three!! (Isn't he just the cutest thing you've ever seen?!)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

London

I can't remember the last time Olly and I had some one-on-one time together. Probably years, probably too long. She has a lot of behavior that she puts out that shows that she craves my attention, but sometimes I just don't have it. Too much work or Evan needs my attention or I'm busy with something else. Or can find it, and that's a horrible thing. So I told her we could go on vacation together, just the two of us. She chose London. We left Evan with his grandmother at the beach and P went to work for the week in Rome. It was a wonderful vacation for both of us and I learned a lot from spending time with her. I don't know if any of you have teenage children but somewhere around the age of ten or eleven they are at school all day and then they come home and close themselves in their room and play loud electric guitar music full blast. At least that's what's happened over here for the last three years. She's also had problems fitting into the small urban catholic school that she chose to go to. Well, when we landed in London she really fit in. I could really see her leaving Italy for a few years and living abroad when she gets older. She's very creative and has a lot of fantasy and ideas, she just needs to be stimulated more. She is also a hot head and loses her temper quite easily, and that is something we have to work on. We walked everywhere! I booked a hotel room right next to Kensington Gardens so I could go running in the morning while she slept in. We went shopping and marketing and took all the obligatory photos of the various monuments that she could show her English teacher. We went to Starbucks twice a day. I ate too many empty carbohydrates but they were delicious...We're already thinking about where to go next year, she's mentioned Berlin. I'll go wherever she wants.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Magic

We have two cars. One is a 1999 Volkswagon Polo (mine) and the other is a Lancia Dedra (sedan, Piero's). He bought it in 1996 and it has 412,000 kms on it. While all you Americans are trying to figure out the mileage, let me tell you, it's a lot. He travels a lot for training plus we go back and forth to his hometown at least twice a year and each drive round trip is 1400 kms.We've known for about a year that we'd have to start saving money to get a new car, and we have been saving, but then we had to get two new computers and I had to borrow some money out of the savings...anyway, we had enough to buy about a quarter of a car. The insides but not the body, the engine but not the rest of the car.
In the meantime P kept looking at what kind of car he wanted. He looked on the internet, we went to several dealerships: Toyota, Volkswagon, Audi, Fiat. We got in behind steering wheels and pretended they were our cars for several minutes. He would pour over the car manuals and add up how much it would cost to get the extras that he wanted. "So, what car should we get?" he would ask me. A few years ago I had a definate opinion. I didn't want a SUV and I didn't want an oriental car (Mitsubishi, Yyangsong, Toyota). As the years passed however and P changed his mind several times over on what he wanted, I started to not really care. I don't know about you, but I think this is much more a guy's thing. Cars. Too me a car is a car. I see if it pleases me ecsteticly, if it gets good gas mileage, but that's about where it ends for me. Guys get into fuel injection and horsepower and engine mechanics. I do get it, I mean I do understand where that can get really interesting and exciting but after you've been talking about it for two years solid in your free time, I just wanna get it over with. We finally settled on our dream car being a Volkswagon Passat station wagon. Last year we even went to this used car place in the south of Italy where they have new cars with under 5000 miles on them that they sell with a twenty five percent discount. Apart from the fact that we didn't have the money, P wanted to wait until the "new" model came out because he like the look better. Whatever. We were just dreaming anyway.
One day in the month of august, the eighth of august to be precise, P was looking on the internet for the dream car for the 128,948 time. I told him "Look, you talk about this car all the time but you're not doing anything to really make it happen. You just talk about it. You have to make it a REAL thing, something that you can touch or see." I told him that in order for it to be real, something he really wanted he had to print out a picture of his dream car and put it up in our office space so that he could see it every day. He was hesitant about printing up the best car. "Don't question whether you have the money or how much the car is going to cost or how it will happen. Just print up the car and it will happen".
On august 10th we drove down to Puglia clocking another 800 kms on the odometer. On August 12th P drove two of his athletes to the airport to go to the European championchips. Two hundred kms round trip. When he arrived back in town he took the road that headed to the beach but after five minutes on the road the car died. He said it made a big "click" sound and just died. Right on front of our mechanics house. The mechanic had been eating lunch and heard the noise and came out. He pronounced it dead on arrival.
The next day we went to the New/Used dealership. The one affordable car they had was a Volkswagon Passat tdi diesel, sedan. It only had 10,000 miles on it. We really wanted the station wagon but then the dealer showed us that the back seats come all the way down on the inside so that if you open the trunk and have the seats down you can fit as many bikes as you want in it (our main concern). The super magic part came when he showed us that he had a really good financeing for it and we could sign up right then and there and take the car away right immediately. And we did. The car is a HUGE improvement over the Dedra, but that's mainly car technology that's changed in the last ten years.
Please note that from the time I made P make his dream real and the moment we had a new car in our hands not more than a week had passed. I don't know how this works, but it does.
When explaining it to his brother P said "Do you have a favorite actress? Well, print out a photo of her..."

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Buone Ferie!

We're off to the beach for the month. My husband's family has a huge house in Puglia just two minutes from the Ionian Sea. In the morning I can go for a swim in crystal clear warm water, bike on the coast and then go running on the hills. Oh, I'm bringing my computer too 'cause I do have to work...gotta make a living. But there's nothing better than working for yourself and being able to move your "desk" wherever you want. I'll post from the coast!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dream Conclusion

Do you remember that dream question I wrote about in my May entry? If you're new you can go back and read it. I think it's somewhere around the 18th of May...anyway, I did come to a conclusion. An anonymous "Rusty" is the one that I think came pretty close as he/she said in the comments section:

"The fear of leaving things behind may not be the worst one, but for sure is the one more able to destroy our present – I mean making you unable to live it full force! The ability to live the present is probably the life itself, anyway, but a recurrent dream tie us to the past just because we want it, I think. In the end, it's always us: it can be scary to think we're not so different from 20 years ago, but it's always scary when you're TRULY in touch with youself, isn't it! hugs! Rusty"

I read that over and over. I thought about it a lot. Like three months worth of thinking. It's sort of hard to explain the whole thing without going into a huge autobiographical entry about my life, which could be boring and over dramatic. Then again I don't want to not complete the May entry, so I'll just try and keep it short.

I had one of those typical write-a-book-about-it childhoods...Mother dies in car crash when I was ten, alcoholic, separated father who works night shifts left with four children to care for on his own. He remarries twice to the wrong women, all within four years. I left home when I was sixteen and managed to finish high school and get a B.A. all on my own.

I had lived in Italy for a year after high school and then a year in college and I decided to go back there to work for a few years after I finished school. Everything had been so difficult up to that point that I just remembering thinking to myself - from now on life is just going to be grand! And it was for a while. I had a nice job and a boyfriend and I was young and living in Europe. But I never really thought that I would stay, I just wanted to play for a few years and then I'd go back home...
...and then my little brother died in a car crash and I just wanted to run away. I went back to Mill Valley for the funeral and we spread his ashes on top of Mt.Tamalpais and he was gone. I went back to Italy and picked up my plans to move to San Diego with my then boyfriend...but now I didn't want to go back. I just wanted to avoid reality for a bit and pretend that nothing ever happened. What happened was I fell apart. Before Billy's death I felt like I had already paid my karmic dues. As if all the bad things that were supposed to happen had been put into this little package that lasted until I was 21 and then after that I wouldn't have any more worries. Well, now I know that life doesn't exactly work that way, but it was a little more difficult for me to take when I was younger.
So the boyfriend moved to San Diego and I stayed at my job in Italy. It payed well and I liked it and I met another guy, and another...and all of the sudden I had a job in television, then modeling, and a few years went by and then a few more and then it gets to a point where it's more difficult to go back and start over again than stay where you are.

Twenty eight years have passed since I came to Italy. I've spent more time here than I have in the States. But there was never a moment when I ever said to myself "Okay, this is where I want to stay. This is my home."

Since I came upon this realization some of my attitude has changed.

More importantly, I've stopped having the dream.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Aceto Balsamico


I love Balsamic Vinegar. Love, love, love it. Whenever I've done test for food intolerance they always find me intolerant to yeasts. I can do without bread and cookies and even tea for a certain amount of time, but I absolutely CRAVE the balsamic vinegar. It totally changes the flavour of a salad or even on other vegetables. My bonus is that I live in the town where BV originated. They have "Acetaia", vinegar estates everywhere and they put it all sorts of food preparations, even ice cream. Balsamic vinegar is different because it's made with a specific grape (usually trebbiano) and then at harvest they're crushed and boiled down to 50% volume. Then theyt're aged in wood barrels for at least ten years...and voilĂ , you get this thick, aged liquid to pour on your veggies.
The other day I was at the supermarket getting groceries and I ventured to the Balsamic Vinegar section. Up until now I've always gone for the moderately priced ones that didn't have any artificial colouring in them because what many will do is take regular vinegar, dye it black and slap a BV label on it. While I was studying the various brands labels there was another man next to me doing the same thing. All of the sudden this lady plowed between the two of us and grabbed five bottles of one brand called "Due Ponti". The gentleman and I exchanged popped eyed stares at each other. I stopped the lady as she was walking away and asked her about her choice. She said she thought this was the best choice with a quality/price balance. A 250ml bottle costed € 9,10 euro, twice the price I've been paying. But I decided to try it out and see if she was right. OMG! What have I been ingesting all these years? The new brand was thick as syrup and you really only needed a few drops to get this wonderful cherry flavour. Makes me want to lick my plate!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Internet Fancy and rain break

I'm not very good at codeing...or rather I actually could be good but I don't have the patience to sit there and figure it out for very long. Short attention span. Anyway, please notice that I've put a new feature in my right side bar: my workouts. Fancy, fancy!
This morning I had scheduled the babysitter to come at 8.00 am so I could go running. Instead she came at 8.30. This is totally inconvenient because it's like a hundred degrees here every day right now and I don't do well in the heat (Thailand withstanding...). I was supposed to do 1km intervals but all I could do was just run them without looking at the watch. I DO have a new determination because even though I was really going slow I just kept saying to myself that I HAD to get through the workout. And I did.

It finally rained here today after two months of no rain at all. Too bad I couldn't have gone running this afternoon!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

My longest ride

My original plan was to go out for a three hour bike ride. My instructions from IronMauro (friend and personal Triathlon Guru ) was to find some hills. So I headed out towards Reggio Emilia and turned up to a little town named Baiso. The most important thing I learned today was that I really do have to eat or ingest something every 30 minutes. At 30 minutes and then 60 I took a PowerGel and was doing fine. Then I started on the uphill portion of the ride and met with two guys that were riding up also. We started chatting and I forgot to take my gel. At the 40' mark I started to get the shakes. My hands were trembling and I grabbed the other gel I had and took that. Within two minutes I was fine again. At the top of the hill I refilled on the water, stopped at a bar to eat a simple briosche and then take off back down the hill (wheee!!!) . Going home I took another Gel, stopped and bought (and ate) a banana and then had still some energy to cruise at a decent 25km/hour.

Total distance: 85.39 km
Time: 3h44'10"
Average: 22.8 km/hr.

I got home and felt fine. Felt really good. So now I just have to persist!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Fickle

Did I tell you that I was training for a half Ironman? I don't remember 'cause I talk to myself a lot and think I've told someone or written about it and then realize I just have lots of scenarios running around in my head.
First I was going to do the Monaco 70.3, but then they wanted to charge 350,00 euro for the entry fee and I just won't pay that kind of money for a half ironman. A full yes, a half no. So then I found an alternative Half in Italy at the Lago di Mergozzo in the lakes area above Milan. So I was training for that but then Piero started going on week long, out of town business trips and I was discouraged about actually finding the time (and babysitter) to train for the race. So I slacked off. Then those scenarios in my head started playing around and all of the sudden me, myself and I decided that I wasn't doing the Half anymore.
Fastrack to yesterday afternoon when Hubby and I are looking at our calendars from now until the end of september. First we're here in Modena, then he goes to Gotenbourg for the European Athletic Championships (he has three marathoners running on the teams), then down to Puglia to the beach for the rest of august, and then before school starts I'm taking Olly for a "girls only" trip to London.
"And then you have that Half Ironman Race on the 17th"
"Oh, I'm not doing it anymore".
(Blank stare)
I started to explain that I didn't have time and he wasn't helping me out and I really needed some encouragement. He went on that I knew how to train myself better than he ever could and that my schedule was so erratic that I really had to live it day by day rather than write out a schedule that I try to stick to.
One hour later I was on my bike doing a 60km workout.
I have eight weeks to get ready for it.
If I cut out all my "waste" time I can do this.
Today I'm going swimming. Maybe running too...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Epilogue: Bangkok


We left our cocooned existence in Phuket on thursday morning, but before returning to Italy we decided to stop in Bangkok for three days. Our first wake up was at the Phuket airport where we realized that Linda's travel agent had not put us on the same flight, and she had missed her's by two hours. A little scrambling around and exchange of credits cards, they were able to put her on a flight right then and there, but in first class. Not only did she have to pay for the upgrade but she also had to pay a penalty on not taking the other flight. Never heard of this before, but, whatever. In the end it all worked out and we met up again at the Bangkok airport. Bangkok was sweltering hot and we took a bus to our hotel. By now we were slightly spoiled by our luxury resort enviroment and the more than adequate hotel room in Bangkok seemed small to us. Oh, well, we didn't really have to spend a lot of time in the room...It was about five o'clock at this point and the we just started wandering the streets looking around. Bangkok is an insane city. It has tons of traffic, lots of pollution intermixed with all different kinds of people. At one point we were just starved so we walked into this local restaurant where they had a picture of the food for a menu. Guess they're used to the international crowd... There were about ten cooks crowded into this little kitchen. I ordered some sort of chicken curry with rice dish and Linda a vegetable and noodle dish. It was really,really, really good and we only paid six dollars for the entire meal for BOTH of us. On the way back to the hotel to watch the world cup game (Italy vs Rep. Ceca) we stopped in an eyeglass shop where I ordered a new pair for myself (only seventy dollars!). Day two in Bangkok is sort of a blur. We started out thinking that we would just go shopping and actually we DID do that but we had two problems. Problem one: We couldn't find the stores we really wanted to go to. We kept getting sidetracked down all sorts of strange and crowded streets that then lead to scary quiet ones. Problem two: I ate something that my intestines did not like. I had to keep finding bathrooms and at the end of the day had hit them a total of about fourteen times. I was afraid to really go to far from anyplace that looked like it might have a restroom 'cause when I had to go, I had to go. A few times we were so frazzled and hot that we went back to the hotel just to sit in a quiet air conditioned room for an hour. On our last and final day we decided to go to a huge market on the outskirts of town. We found directions on how to get there by public transportation and were successful in getting there (Whee!!!) . It more than made up for our no shopping day from the day before. The market had everything we had hoped for: food, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, spices, paper (I love buying paper in foreign countries), shoes. It also had animals and a lot of local Thais doing their weekly shopping for food and fruit and veggies. The one thing that I haven't talked about on this trip are the Monsoons. Every day has been in the 90's and then about three times a day it rains. But it doesn't just rain a little tropical rain, it pours like someone is pouring a big bucket of water from the sky. It usually doesn't last for very long but the force is so strong that the sewage system that they have can't handle it. Everything clogs up and gets swamped. This happened both in the city and at our little market place on saturday. We were pretty much trapped for about an hour because anyplace we wanted to walk to had a foot of water. We both had on disposable shoes but Linda was kind of squeemish about not knowing what was in that water. The monsoons reminded me of all those Vietnam films where they picture troops in the rain for days and days. It was always this pouring rain, at that really is how it is. We finally made our way back to the overrail transportation and went back into Bangkok. We stopped at a few of the really huge , five story, indoor malls (gigantic!) and then went back to the hotel to pack and leave. I'm pretty sure that I will go back to Thailand again one day. It is a really beautiful country and has such wonderful people. Definately a part of the world that I've enjoyed visiting.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Phuket Marathon, Part II

Running in heat and humidity is not easy. To run 42km (a.k.a. 26 miles) in heat and humidity is even more difficult. It's doable, but you do have to set a few rules for yourself from the startline. Rule number one: forget about any record times. You just have to concentrate on the experience and not pay much attention to your stopwatch. Rule number two: drink, drink, drink. Throw water on yourself, dunk your head in it, do whatever you can to cool down. The organization had set up water stations every 2.5 kms which was really great. Only trouble was that when we came up to the first water station (and it was still pitch black dark out) I think I was one of the few that actually stopped. It was really humid out even at 5.00 a.m. They had big tubs of ice so I took handfuls of that and put it down the front and back of my bra and inside my hat to try and cool off. I ran the first kilometre with all the other journalists but then Liz and the Running Times girl took off so I just stuck to my own pace. Around 6.00 am it started to get light and there was a nice breeze that came along with it. The course went down a lot of country roads where people were sitting around breakfast tables on the sides of the roads looking sleepy but awake. There were some really cute kids in pajamas sitting on their front porches waving to us as we went by also. Someplace around the 21km mark we hit the coast...ahhhhh, a really nice sea breeze accompanied us for about 5km. My half marathon time was 2h15. The refreshment stations started to have a better selection with the halfmarathon one full of fruit. You could also see who was in front (or in back) of you. I was surprised to see Liz only about 3km in front of me, and even more surprised to see Julia (RW Australia) 3km BEHIND me. Last year at the Thailand Temple run she had run an hour faster than me. As soon as I came off the coast and headed back to the inland it started to get hot. It was about 8.00 a.m. at this point and I would estimate it to be 30° (about 90 degrees fahrenheit), but the humidity is what kept me filling myself with ice and trying to stay cool. We were routed on a main road with a little traffic. The drivers were cool though and not zooming too fast as they went by. There were some big hills that we had to climb up and I opted to just power walk them. I was doing fine, humming along, passing people that were walking but pretty much having a good time when I came upon Liz, the RW UK journalist. She was walking really slow and not having a good time. Don't ask why but she was wearing LONG pants and a LONG SLEEVE shirt. I don't know how she thought up this outfit. I mean, I would have run naked if I could, it was so dang hot. She said she felt dizzy but she didn't want to take off any clothing for fear of getting sunburned (she was that pasty white, english pale rose type). So I had her stop at the next water station and fill up her shirt with ice and drink more gatorade instead of just water. I made her walk a little faster and then got her to run one minute and walk one minute while I talked away...and this is what we did for seven miles, all the way to the end of the marathon. My thinking was that it was better to get her out of the sun and finish the race rather than walk a slow death march. It worked. She actually wanted run the last kilometre in. Our final time was 5h21'. We were 159 and 160 out of 280 runners. The first thing I did was hit the massage tent and have a foot and leg massage. Now this is something they should have at EVERY marathon. They had also set up a VIP tent for us where I had a delicious meal of rice and some Thai cooked veggies with curry. Yum! I would probably vomit at the thought of eating something like that after an Italian marathon, but it seemed to fit in fine in Thailand.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Phuket Marathon, Part I

Those squinty eyes come from me sleeping about four hours for the night. I tried as hard as I could to get to bed early, but when you're not tired there's just no way. The alarm clock went off at 3 a.m. and I immediately turned on the television to get in some Italy vs. USA soccer World Cup action, unfortunately I didn't get to see the best part. Anyway, I got dressed, ate a Powerbar, a banana and made myself some tea. Linda was also up and about and concerned I wasn't eating enough. I wasn't hungry at all and frankly just couldn't stomach anything at that hour of the morning. We went down to the reception where they were very sweet to have prepared a breakfast box for us to eat (bread, fruit, cookies, and other unidentified foodstuff). Too bad I hadn't seen it earlier. We took the hotel bus to the start which was only about a kilometre from the hotel. People were just kind of roaming around, getting excited. There were all the Japanese journalists filming everybody and a few Japanese personalities trying to get in their TV appearances. I just walked around, went to the restroom a few times and tried to relax. My favorite pre-race photo (courtesy of Linda) is this one of the product "Counter Pain Cream". That's what the girls t's spell out and they had to walk around together in the same line order for about two hours. At about 4.40 am the speaker for the race started asking us to line up. There were 280 runners signed up for the marathon so it wasn't a huge crowd yet. A lot of the half marathoners were already there even though they weren't schedule to start until 6.00 am. I lined up with a few of the other journalist that I knew: Liz from RW UK and Julia from RW Australia. There was a new girl that hadn't really introduced herself but I knew she was from Running Times. Slim and fast with about 2% body fat. Definately not in my league. Just as we were about to take off other journalists from Australia came racing down the road towards us. Apparently they didn't hear the alarm clock and woke up at 4.30 am! They blew some sort of horn and we were off...