Trying the Olympic tri

This weekend I will be competing in my first Olympic tri. Strangely enough, I feel confident. Confidence is a scary feeling. Will I be prepared??

So far the weather for the race looks challenging. It is supposed to be very windy with highs in the upper 80’s…a possible heat advisory…the warmest day so far this year. But I feel ready.

I spent the last 2 weekends swimming across the lake up north. The total distance each time equaling approximately 1 mile.

Seriously, I am not going to bore you with the details. I’ll tell you if something exciting happens…like the time I almost hit a skunk on my bike..

I was feeling a little afraid of swimming long distance in open water but got used to the feeling. Anxiety and fear is not exactly a new feeling for me. Maybe it is better to face these obstacles in real life because I know how to handle feeling this way in a race.

Tomorrow I will pack my bags and head out of town. I hope I don’t forget anything!

I love trying new races.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like some tried and true races close to home. There is an advantage knowing the route. Plus every race is different, even the same race. The weather is different…I meet different people…sometimes I feel nervous, sick, hurt, or unhealthy…and sometimes I feel strong and confident like I do now.

I’m ready to do this…even in a heat advisory.

Bring it on!

 

The same old demons, shaken and stirred

Once again, I don’t particularly feel like writing. But here I am sucked into this strange compulsion to tell my story.

My youngest daughter, Arabella, was planning on having a friend up north with us this past weekend. We had to cancel those plans. The old Matt was back in town.

When Matt went off of his medication, the voices came back…the ones that told him to hurt little girls. He said that he wanted to kill our 10 year old niece. He said the voices scared him.

Matt was going to be up north this weekend. Arabella wanted to bring a friend that had long glossy hair down to her waist. She was the kind of girl that Matt might want to wrap his fingers around. He might want to pull her hair and make her cry. Or maybe he would sink his nails into her skin. I imagine those things because those things are possible.

Arabella didn’t understand why I changed my mind about letting her have a friend up north. She never saw the old Matt. She didn’t understand not being able to have friends over like I did. She was angry at me.

At first, I felt a great sadness over the whole situation. But it is strange how soon it became normal again. The agitated Matt…the man with fire red ears and constricted pupils muttering like a mad man. The Matt that flapped his hands together against his chest and paced the floors. The same Matt that hurt me…my family…my mother…my friends…my oldest daughter.

Isolation…but this time it won’t be me. Luke will have to spend some time away. He can’t risk his daughters being hurt.

I feel his pain.

I know what it feels like to see someone I love hurt by someone I love…the conflicting emotions of anger and compassion.

Matt’s needs were always and will always be more important than that of us, his siblings.

All of the old feelings popped up again. It probably didn’t help that I was already diving into it by reading old journals.

I was stirring up old demons while being shaken by the new ones.

I feel bad that I probably won’t be able to see Luke and his family much this summer. I hope that this passes soon now that Matt is back on his medicine again.

Sibling bonds

I saw my mother-in-law last night…it was the first time I’ve seen her since she died. She told me that she would be there for me. But I wasn’t in my house…I was in my childhood home. My husband was there too. He was trying to fix something that was  not fixable..

I woke up crying at 4:30 AM. I feel it happening again.

When I got the news, I was driving my car. I wanted to cry.

Then I felt angry. I drove faster than usual. I wanted to punch someone. I almost wanted someone to hurt me so I could kick, punch, scream, and fight back.

When I got home from my swimming class, I wanted to go for a long hard run. But it was getting dark out.

I felt deep sorrow. It took me to some dark places. It brought back demons so ugly, dark, and evil that I couldn’t possibly outrun them by running hard.

How could we not see what was happening? When Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic medicine what did we expect would happen?

Matt was taken off of his medication because long term use was straining his liver..

Then started the sleepless nights of agitation. The tics and Tourette’s. The gagging and throwing up of meals. The extreme anxiety.

It wasn’t withdrawal. It wasn’t a virus. The old Matt was back. We just didn’t recognize him because he was gone for so long.

Don’t you remember Alissa? I used to read you books at night…books like Little Women. But Matt would pace the floors in agitation keeping everyone up until midnight. I had to stop reading to you. I had to be with him.

Then yesterday my mom told me that the hallucinations came back.

It started with a dream. A dream of Matt hurting my niece. In the dream, he killed her. He has become fixated on hurting her.

You see, I was Matt’s first victim. Year after year, day after day..it was me that he hurt. He punched me. He kicked me. He clawed me. He bit me.

After awhile, it seemed almost normal.

I wasn’t allowed to fight back. I wasn’t allowed to feel anything.

Then I grew up and had a little girl of my own.

Matt became obsessed with her…or I should say that he became obsessed with hurting her. What would happen if I held her head under water? What would happen if I twist her arm? Would she cry? The voices told him to hurt her.

Then one day he did.

He hurt my daughter on her 4th birthday. After my brother and husband wrestled Matt off of her, my brother Luke took Matt home. Matt went into a psychotic episode so bizarre. He muttered to himself for hours not seeming to be aware of his surroundings.

He still obsessed about hurting my daughter for years afterwards. I had to isolate myself from my family. I did not allow Matt around my daughter for years after that.

Then Matt went on anti-psychotic medicine and became a very peaceful loving person. He started giving hugs instead of bruises. Eventually we were able to reunite as a family once again.

But then this happened.

My mom decided to put Matt back on his medication despite the possible health risks.

Matt loves his family and doesn’t understand why he would want to hurt them.

My brother Luke is keeping his little girls away from Matt until he gets better again.

I never understood how autistic people could be violent. Hearing voices that tell you to hurt someone you love does not seem like a symptom of autism to me. But, a lot of autistic people I know who are violent are non-verbal. Would they be telling the same stories if they could talk?? How is this even possible?

I took the news about this pretty hard.

We will be okay. We will get through this again.

I just feel very compelled to share my story with you.

Please, if you are going through something similar…I would love to hear from you. I feel very alone in all of this.

 

Journal 4

I decided to move on from journal 3 to journal 4.

There were a few things from journal 3 that I didn’t want to get into with you. When I was a child, my dad was cruel towards us. I am not ready to face that demon yet. I just want to face growing up with a violent autistic sibling…so much easier?

I will talk about my relationship with my dad some other time…later perhaps…maybe when his feet no longer touch the ground on this earth.

So far journal 4 is a bit of a steamy romance written when I was 17. In high school, we were required to write in a journal everyday for English class. I honestly can’t believe some of the things that I wrote. What if the teacher randomly collected our journals??

So far I am planning on burning this journal. I want to purge its existence off of the face of this planet.

How can it be that I want to destroy a part of me? A part of my life?

It is all foolishness people…It is about hating my parents, wanting my freedom…feeling bored and depressed…wanting more…waiting for a letter in the mail or a phone call from that special someone…trying out new things like drinking and smoking cigarettes…and don’t forget the steamy romance…Blaahhh

Normal teenage experiences re-read as a 40 something year old with kids that age..I almost threw up!

I want my kids to think that I was always old and dreadfully boring! I am doing a great job keeping up the facade.

Best to burn it before my teens find it and discover that I was once young and dumb…

Then I have to take the thought one step further….Will I think that the things I wrote on here when I am in my 40’s are immature and dumb when I am in my 60’s? Time will tell..but paper is so much easier to burn!

Maybe I should share an excerpt with you for a good laugh…Or maybe I will just burn it instead!

I haven’t decided…

???

 

Salt Lake City, Utah

On our free evening in Salt Lake City, we decided to go to the Mormon Tabernacle to hear the choir practice. The most impressive building shown in the picture above is  the Mormon Temple (not where the choir practiced). The practice was held in the dome shaped tabernacle. Before entering, there was a group of kind elderly ladies that searched our purses. People were sitting informally in the pews to listen. It attracted an international audience.

By far my favorite instrument is the pipe organ. This was the largest pipe organ that I have ever seen. The sound was rich. Too bad I couldn’t fit it in my suitcase!

The tabernacle was inside of Temple Square which was surrounded by a large wall. Once I passed through the gates, I felt like I was in a different world. Everything inside was green and lush. There were immaculate gardens. It was peaceful and beautiful.

There were several statues in Temple Square, one of a seagull. Our Salt Lake tour guide said that when the original Mormon settlers came there was a cricket plague. The seagulls swooped in to devour the crickets. Now the seagull has a monument erected in its honor. It is also the state bird. Who would’ve guessed?

Right upon leaving the grounds, there was a young group of Christians evangelizing to the people as they exited.

Outside the gates there were several outdoor fountains that at certain times of the day had a water show, but I didn’t see that.

Down the road from Temple Square was a place that had a lot of signs for tourist photos. It seemed like a traffic hazard more than anything. It was something different.

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Like major cities, there was a homeless population. There were kids that came by on skateboards asking for money to buy drugs.

The city itself is very clean. It was hard to find a cigarette butt or a candy wrapper. It would be nice if such care was taken towards preserving the polluted Great Salt Lake. Although it is nice to know that they weren’t serving fish from the Great Salt Lake at local restaurants since the lake is much too salty for fish.

One major misconception I had about Salt Lake City before visiting was that it was a dry city (as in hard to find alcohol, not as in climate). I didn’t find that to be the case, although the beer on tap has only 4% alcohol. Some of my local favorites are the Moab Brewery Porcupine Pilsner, Squatters Arnold Palmer Ale, and Wasatch’s Polygamy Porter. The good thing about less alcohol was that I was able to sample more. Although Utah law says that you can only have two drinks in front of you at a time, even if those drinks are 2 ounces each.

I was surprised at some of the restaurants in the city. I had an unbelievably good burger at Fat Jack’s Burger Emporium. I built my own and it included some unusual ingredients like Spam, avocado, cilantro, and a fried egg.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city, we were able to see a lot of the major highlights.

The Great Salt Lake

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Paul and I went on a business trip this past week to Utah. We had one afternoon free to see the local sights. I’ve always thought it would be cool to check swimming in the Great Salt Lake off of my bucket list.

It was a cool day when we visited. It was 65 degrees and the water was about the same temperature. We took a tour bus to the site.

It was eerily silent at the Great Salt Lake. No jet skis, no power boats…nothing.

There were some sailboats that weren’t in their slips yet. It still is a little too early for the sailing season. I did hear that the Great Salt Lake has some of the saltiest sailors around.

The lake is very shallow, 11 feet at the deepest.

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Here is a picture of Paul about to make the plunge with his foot. You could see the little sea monkeys in the water. It is too salty for fish, 5 times saltier than the ocean.

The locals warned against swimming in the lake. Unfortunately, the water is polluted from nearby factory run off and has high levels of mercury.

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Here is a picture of Paul and I ‘swimming’ in the Great Salt Lake. A few people braved the cool water and air temps to swim. I opted not to this time, but wouldn’t be opposed to it in the future.

My 3rd marathon

I was really anxious the day before the race. I couldn’t describe it as a positive or negative feeling. I was restless, but needed to stay still. Mainly, I felt a nervous excitement. It felt like it was the first time. 

I was hoping that having my cousin come from out of town would keep me distracted from what was before me. But he was injured and cancelled the 10 hour drive to get here. 

I decided to run with Lisa, she is a crazy good runner. She is not quite as disciplined as me but apparently she doesn’t need it. This was her 2nd marathon. She was afraid she was going to be slow because she got a little carried away at a party a few nights before. She hopped on a kid’s bike and crashed it banging up her leg. 

It was raining like crazy the day before the marathon. The original forecast said it would be dry for the marathon, but they were wrong. It rained the first hour and a half of the marathon. I grabbed a couple of garbage bags from home to cover Lisa and I. 

There was a traffic jam near the parking area and it took longer than we thought to get to the event. We even left early. We had to run to the bathroom. We stopped first by some Portapots that were fenced in with a large security guard in front. Apparently they were for the elite and not us. By the time we got out of the bathroom the anthem was playing. There were long lines and I think some people would rather stay in the stinky bathrooms than get soaking wet.

Lisa stayed with me for the first 2 miles. I couldn’t keep up and stayed with the 4:20 pacer group the first half of the race. It was cold (50F), windy, and rainy. My shoes were soaked before the race began. Any loose areas on my wet clothes caused some pretty nasty chafing. But I didn’t feel excessively cold. 

After the halfway point, I had to wait in line for the bathroom. I passed several full ones with lines before I was forced to stop. When I got out, I lost sight of my pacer group. Then I meandered on my own for the next 7 miles without stopping. Then right around the 20 mile mark I lost steam. I did a walking slow jog thing. 

My son texted me that he needed gas in the car. 

Hello, I’m running a marathon here! 

Then my phone died. 

But I couldn’t muster up enough anger to light a fire under my butt.

A man passed me and asked if I was okay. 

I was feeling angry that I didn’t have a big support group. My son was more concerned about the car.  

My husband was there for me every step of he way though. He tried to get me moving. I knew no other spectators. 

I remembered my goal to do a full Ironman. I started to see it slip through my fingers again. 

My arms and legs felt numb. I tried to tell my legs to move faster but they weren’t responding to prompts from my brain. 

My mind felt muddled and I was confused. I kept asking those around me what mile we were on. I felt this strong desire to wander off and lie down in a random person’s yard. 

I smelled bacon frying from an open window of a nearby house. Jerk! I longed for the leftover macaroni and cheese leftover from the night before. I thought bad thoughts towards those who might eat it before I got back. 

I wanted to give up. 

Then I met Hank from Detroit. He seemed kind of mafia to me. We spent the last four miles limping, walking, and running together. 

I finished the marathon beating the times of my first two marathons by over a half an hour. Victory! But still not enough to beat my goal of under 5 hours. I just have to work harder. Lisa finished in a little over 4 hours. 

I had mixed feelings. I majorly beat my old times but I still wanted better.

I went home exhausted. But I had a party to go to. Cindy’s son was getting confirmed. Plus I was flying out in less than 24 hours and didn’t even start to pack. 

After I got home later that evening, I laid in bed feeling feverish. I didn’t want to talk to anyone but didn’t want to be alone. For a few hours, I felt totally relaxed almost delirious. All worried faded from my mind completely. 

I outran my demons that day. 

Thoughts in flight

I am sitting at the airport waiting for my plane. I deliberately scheduled almost a 3 hour layover because who wants to sprint across the airport the day after a marathon? We already had to switch planes because our scheduled flight was delayed. We would have had 15 minutes to run across the airport to catch our flight if we didn’t switch. I almost laughed. 

The other option was to take a later flight in the opposite direction from our destination. I almost had a panic attack at the thought. Both afternoon flights to Chicago were delayed due to mechanical issues. 

I can tolerate an hour flight unmedicated…even with mechanical issues…on a small plane that once had ashtrays in it…I can’t remember the days that smoking was allowed on a plane. I suppose that would be very bad to be caught smoking on a plane. Almost as bad as having your mug shot hanging up at the post office. 

Did I mention the turbulence?? Apparently most plane crashes happen during take off and landing, not due to turbulence. I decided to educate myself on flying because supposedly education about fears alleviates anxiety. Nope, now I am pretty much afraid the whole flight. I think about things like how can planes see other planes through the clouds.

Then my mind grows darker.. I remember every story, tragedy, TV show, or movie that portrays a plane crash…an air traffic controller not paying attention on the job causing a crash like in Breaking Bad, mechanical failure, a gaggle of geese flying north into the propellers, terrorists. 

Too bad I’m not flying over a deserted tropical island like on Lost. It might be nice to live in seclusion for awhile. 

Yet, despite my fear, I feel captivated by seeing skyscrapers and water from a different perspective from my perch in the sky. 

I wonder if the little oxygen masks ever drop down if we need them. Does anyone ever live to tell us if the safety precautions actually work? 

I think of the scariest caravel ride I’ve been on. I think of falling, fast..I wonder what people think about right before they die. What if they don’t know it is their last breath?

I wonder if the pilot is drunk or high. I search for signs of problems with the plane. What was that sound? Is it me or is the flight attendant looking a little stressed?? 

We had to fly with a different airline when we switched our flight. I had to hobble down to a far terminal. I didn’t see one little train, escalator, or people mover. I hobbled around feeling like I was slowing down traffic. I wore my marathon shirt with fierce pride. 

The next flight I took my anxiety meds. I worried that I would have an allergic reaction and die in flight . 

Then the worry goes away. I don’t clench my husband’s hand quite as hard. 

I imagine floating in the air towards God in the clouds. 

When we land, I don’t worry about getting to our hotel. The methodically planned arrangements bounce off my medicated mind. I walk slow…lethargic…unworried…with a heavy lead marathon limp. 

Somehow we arrive safely to our destination the day after the marathon. 

The third time’s the charm? Right??

The terror is starting to set in. This weekend I will be running my third marathon. Seriously, at this point, I want to run away. I feel discouraged. I’m having some doubt.

There will be no excuses this time. I am healthy. The weather conditions look absolutely ideal for running. It should be cloudy, dry, and cool.

Last month was the first race of the season. I did an 18 mile trail run with my cousin out of state. I was satisfied with how it went. My cousin was going to join me for this marathon, but due to injury he had to cancel out. I feel disappointment. I had a lot of fun things planned for the weekend besides the marathon.

Now I will be running with Lisa. This is her second marathon. She finished her first in just over 4 hours along with our other friend Cori. I had the expectation on myself that I would complete my first marathon with a similar time. I finished my first half in a little over 2 hours. A marathon should just be double the time, right?? Nope, not for me.

I was injured on my first marathon. I rolled my ankle a couple weeks before the event and still had a little pain. After 26.2 miles of pounding, I was in rough shape and ended in 6 hours. My 2nd marathon, I was afraid. Afraid of getting hurt, afraid of pushing it. It was hot that day, very hot. I ended in 6 hours.

This time the weather conditions are ideal, I am injury free, and there are no excuses.

But I am afraid, very afraid. I am afraid that I am going to fail.

You might be asking yourself…how can any marathon runner be a failure?

I want more for myself…I have goals..I want to compete in a full Ironman by the time I am 45. If I don’t do well this time, there is no way that I will be able to make the time limit for the Ironman. This race is going to make it or break it for me. It will be the deciding factor for future races.

I won’t be making up time lost on running in the swimming or biking department. Running is my strong suit. I can finish a shorter race in a pretty impressive time.

I am a beginning swimmer. I am just learning how to do the breast stroke. Sometimes after finishing my swimming class I am full of confidence, but most of the time I am not.

Can I really do this?? How am I going to feel if I fail in my own eyes?

Everyone around me has been very encouraging. Most people think that I am crazy. This is just the crazy that I allow people to see on the outside of me. But you, my followers and friends, really get to see the full picture. Lol.

As you look in as a spectator of the event, you will see an outward struggle for endurance. But inwardly, I want to outrun my demons. I want to conquer the feeling of not being good enough. I want to be a stronger person. I want to succeed. It’s the inward fight that requires so much more stamina.

The third time is the charm. Right??IMG_0579

On being a mother, their mother

I had a pretty low key Mother’s Day. That’s the way I wanted it. The last thing I wanted was to take my teens somewhere they didn’t want to be surrounded by hordes of whining little kids. Been there, done that…

Instead, Paul grilled ribs and we played yard games.

My mom stopped by with Matt for awhile. He is slowly starting to get better. Now the doctors think he may have had a virus. No one really knows for sure..but he is starting to get better which is all that matters. I was worried there for awhile.

My daughter came home from college for the summer. It seems like yesterday that I told you I was dropping her off. I can’t believe the year went by so fast.

My baby turned 14 a few days ago. We had her last middle school choir concert. Soon she will be starting high school. The first of the lasts for her, the last of the firsts for us.

Time seems to be whirling by fast for the young folks, but here I am still the same.

At church on Sunday, we decided to sponsor a boy from Africa. He looked so skinny and sad that we turned in the money pretty quickly. The paperwork said that he is an average student. My son is pretty happy that I will now be nagging someone else about grades.

My son wants to get a motorcycle. He will be 17 next month. You better get your grades up son! If I let him get his temps now, maybe he will develop good habits. If I make him wait until 18, he might just say that he is an adult and can do what he wants…blah, blah, blah..

Even though my kids are all teens now, they still keep me on my feet.

But I am happy to be a mother, their mother.