Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thinking about LAST...

I've been mulling over this topic of "LAST" for a while now - my sister Heather and I talk often and this is topic we come back to again and again.


Okay, I will be the first to tell you that I don't like being slow, I think it is why the BIKE is my first love because a bike means INSTANT SPEED.  Give me a downhill and I excel!  I am an ATHENA and baby, I can descend - I've got SKILLZ and I have weight on my side.

I digress....

Whenever I meet a new athlete, somebody new to triathlon, biking or running - the thing that I always hear is "But I don't want to be LAST..."  In fact, used often enough it becomes a great excuse and scape-goat...

"I didn't sign up for the race, I didn't want to be LAST..."

"I stopped half-way, I didn't want to be LAST..."

"I'm not sure I want to sign up for that distance, what if I am LAST?"

SO I CHALLENGE YOU: (cause I know you guys are lurking out there...) 


Is LAST worse than never having gotten off the couch?

Is LAST worse than never having started the race?

Is LAST worse than quitting?

Does being LAST make you a bad person?

The answer to all these questions is NO!

I think people confuse LAST with SLOW and nobody wants to be seen as SLOW. And I am here to tell you that SLOW is completely relative.  My average Marathon Pace is 12:30 per mile. 10:00 minute miles are fast to me! Once I ran a 5K in 27:00 - ONCE - sub 9:00 minute miles at the age of 32 - I'd like to see that speed again when I am 42 at least once but I have a long road ahead...

BUT: A 9:00 minute mile wont even get you out the door and on your way to qualifying for the Boston Marathon at my age (38). You are looking at an 8:40 pace or faster. Oh and by the way - 8:40 pace is SLOW for a person who might run 6:00 minute miles!

You get my point, SLOW is relative. 

Now SLOW does matter when it comes to most RACES, I know that - I understand the concern you have!  Race Directors work closely with towns, police and road closures so cut-off times are there for a reason.  They keep the athletes safe and keep the volunteers and race workers from being out all night.  The CUTOFF is there for a reason.

And for full disclosure let me say that I am a FULLY AWARE that the time cuttoff for the Jim MacDonnell 2-Mile Swim was 90:00 minutes.  My official finish time was 96:07 - 6 minutes beyond the advertised limit.  

Did I think that I was going to miss the limit when I signed up for the race?  

No, I knew I would be close and that is what scared the *BLEEP* out of me.  But I was willing, based on my POOL times for 1650 (40:00) to sign up for the race and take a chance.

I was lucky and can only assume that the Race Officials decided that since I was close to being finished and not appearing to be in distress, they let me finish the race.  I could also have been within the 90:00 time for the last wave.  All I know is that I was not pulled out of the water nor was I disqualified and I am listed as an official finisher - that was the decision of the race director on that give day.  

So again I say : SO WHAT!!  BIG DEAL, YOUR SLOW!

The bigger questions for slower athletes are these?

Are you too slow for the cuttoff times of the event?

Are you willing to do the hard work it takes to get faster?

Are you willing to take the risk, do the work, and face the clock - accepting the possibility that you might be pulled from the race because you are not fast enough but knowing that you will have given it the best effort that you have in that race, on that day?

If your not willing or able to take that risk, then stay home, stay safe and stop using "LAST" as the catch-all excuse because there will always be somebody else out there who may not like being SLOW but would be just fine with being LAST...

especially since FIRST and LAST both cross the SAME FINISH LINE!

Just my 02 cents on the subject...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

RR: Jim McDonnell 2-MILE Swim

Jim McDonnell 2-Mile Swim
Reston, VA
1:36:07 - 310/310

Summary: Last and damn proud of it...I finished the swim and then did an 83 mile Bike ride on my own - just another day on the road to Ironman USA.

You'll never know if you don't go
You'll never shine if you don't glow

Hey now you're an All Star get your game on, go play
Hey now you're a Rock Star get the show on, get paid
(And all that glitters is gold)
Only shooting stars break the mold

The Rest of the Story:
Saturday there was an open water clinic sponsored by the Reston Masters (race organizers) - it was a great chance to swim in the lake and the weather was perfect.  I got out there and swam the one-mile loop in my usual fashion - SLOW with lots of pauses for sighting. I'm glad I took the time to go to the clinic so I could get comfortable with the course and the lake but that still didn't stop the "inner swim demons" from doing their dirty work. We got some great tips from a panel of swimmers with varied experience.  Three things stood out at the clinic for me - 1.) Just take it one stroke at at time 2.) Find a song or something to distract you 3.) One swimmer said "I was last but I finished - I did it."

I'm a slow swimmer and I have never felt comfortable in the swim portion of a triathlon, ever. It just doesn't seem to be coming easily to me. As my husband Jim and my close friend Keri have said "Something is *broke* in your stroke."  I just don't seem to be able to go anywhere fast in the water but I am working on it slowly.  I am told it takes time and lots of practice. All my swims to date have been 1.2 miles or shorter in a race.  This would be the first time I attempted 2 miles in open water.

Saturday Night, I stood in the kitchen with my husband Jim and cried tears of FEAR for the first time since my Ironman journey began. "Jim, I'm afraid that I am not going to be able to swim 2 miles." I was facing an unknown distance in an event that I already have worries about - this race was a moment that could change everything for me.  "What if I can't do this?"  "What if I'm too slow?" "What if I come out of the water and I don't want to go back in?" 

Sunday morning came to soon, so I focused on my morning race routine: Peanut butter and Bagel, glass of skim milk, pack up the gear and nutrition for the 80 mile bike ride I had planned to do after the swim, pack the car, and off we go to my first Open Water Swim Race.

We got there around 8AM as the 1-milers started their race and sat under the Team Z tent, relaxing and chatting until it was time to line up. 30 minutes after the race brief - spent standing in the sun in a full sleeve wetsuit with the rest of the 2-mile group of racers and they finally started the event.  16 waves were put in the water - 30 seconds per wave - by 1650 predicted seed times. I was in wave 15 - 40 minute seed time.

We jumped in the water and within a few seconds we were on our way.  I just put my face in the water and spent my time focusing on stretching out, pulling water and making sure I could feel the air on my feet when I did kick, which meant that I was on top of the water to some extent.

The first loop went okay.  I found that "Soak up the Sun" by Sheryl Crow, "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys, and "All Star" by Smash Mouth are good songs to pass the time between sighting.  I also learned, when being lapped by the faster swimmers - that I can suffer a punch to the back of the head and keep on going.  I also learned that "Sorry" sounds garbled in water but it was nice that the guy thought to apologize.

Second loop was quite sad and lonely so I just kept doing my thing - running through songs - sighting as best I could.  The negative thoughts came rolling in as I noticed that my not so pretty stroke was getting worse due to some soreness in my left shoulder. As I looked up to sight at one point, I wondered if I should just lift my cap and wave the canoe on over and be done. In that moment, I was close to quitting and then I thought about the Black Bear email that I got for a race next week.  There is a relay team that is doing the race and the swimmer for that team was born with no arms or legs and he is going to swim. Then I thought I Dick and Rick Hoyt - Dick pulls his son in a boat behind him as he swims. If somebody born with no arms or legs can swim 1.2 miles and if Dick Hoyt can swim Ironman's with a boat in tow - then I needed to put my head back down and KEEP SWIMMING.

I relaxed in that moment - because I had finally made my decision.  I was going to swim.  Mine is not a fast or a pretty swim but I wasn't tired - just slow.  To quit now, just because I might be last was not an option - the only option was to finish.

I was the LAST 2-MILE SWIMMER out of the water: 1:36:07

But more importantly, I gained confidence in myself. 

If I had 0.4 miles left - I have no doubts that I had the energy to continue and I would have finished the swim. I would have finished under 2-hours. While my swim won't break any records - that is 20 minutes under the swim cuttoff for Ironman USA which means that I would be out of the water and on my bike and like all the other athletes on that race day in July, I will be that much closer to the finish line.

The dream is still alive - and the reality check was worth the fear. Of course 83 miles on the Bike post-swim, helped to ease the mind a little. 

Work to do and time left to do it in! 


Thursday, May 21, 2009

LIARS! Both of them...

I feel that I need to tell you about two big LIARS who are very, very close to me that I have discovered whose treachery was uncovered yesterday afternoon during my speed-work session.

LIAR #1 - My conscious MIND


I'm going on 4 weeks of solid and consistent Ironman training volume with no illness or issues (please let this trend continue!!). This past weekend had me putting in a long run of 14 miles on Saturday and a long bike of 79 (VERY WINDY) mile on Sunday.  No rest for the weary though - REST days are FRIDAY so Monday consisted of WEIGHTS and a RUN, Tuesday was SWIM, 14 miles on the BIKE and CANCER to 5K workout, which I took EASY and simply did 2.0 miles of run/walking to support my runners and volunteers.

So yesterday when I woke up, my legs were feeling pretty empty and all day I dragged around feeling generally tired and fatigued .  All day I dreaded the RUN speed work that was planned for the evening that I was choosing do alone because I wanted to stick close to home after work.

I was COMPLETELY SURE that this was going to be the WORST WORKOUT EVER! I was just so darn tired all day long and even walking up the Metro Escalator seemed like an all out effort on my way home - how on earth was I going to get in 45 minutes to an hour of running FAST?

So I decided the only way to look at this workout was for what it was:  Training for Ironman - Get it Done!  The workout needs to get done and on race day I am going to feel even more tired than this so it was time to EMBRACE THE FEELING OF RUNNING TIRED.

The first 5 minutes were like slogging through a mud bog both physically and mentally and then it happened...My LEGS, who had previously been feeling like logs, who had been refusing to put it even the least bit of enthusiasm all day -  began to settle into the rhythm and do their thing - and do their thing QUICKLY when I asked them too!

The workout was hard but not nearly as miserable and torturous as my MIND had led me to believe it would be....

So, take it from me, your consciousness can be a "Dirty Lying B*tch" when she wants to...AND will take advantage of every opportunity she has to make you think you should skip a training day, including recruiting your LEGS to fake it for about 5 minutes.


LEGS love to RUN!  They are like two big beautiful golden retrievers just waiting to be let off the leash and PLAY, PLAY, PLAY - if only you let them!

Looks like today is a great day for another SWIM and some speed work on the BIKE!

Life is GOOD!  Live STRONG!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Melanoma Update - 4 Years!!

Yesterday was my 6-month follow-up with my Oncologist, Dr. B.  We are "old friends" now. We talk running, triathlon, and cancer. 

Dr. B is a good man and a great doctor but I still wish I didn't have to wait several hours for my "scheduled appointments" - Seriously, they should just say "Be here between 9 - 11AM, the DR will see you sometime in between those hours" instead of pretending that I have a 10AM appointment.  But to his credit, Dr. B gives me his time when he does get to me.  I never feel rushed out the door, he remembers MORE than just my blood counts and he takes time to answer my questions, big and small.

Since the beginning of my diagnosis in Feb 2005; Dr. B. has never sent me for a test that I didn't need. So when he told me yesterday that he felt that I was doing well and with 3 clean CT Scans in my cancer history, he felt that we could wait on a CT Scan this year unless I present warning signs of a "reoccurrence" at a later date, I was THRILLED!

No more "apple juice with barium" x3 and Iodine via IV?  WAHOO!

This May is my 4th year as a Melanoma Cancer Survivor. Next year (5 years) is a significant milestone, especially for Nodular Melanoma. My survival rate which is currently 50%, jumps to a range of 57-73%. 

 I'll take every percent I can and in the mean time, I am going to ENJOY skipping those 3 bottles of the "Nastiest Apple Juice, Ever!"

Dr. B, my stomach thanks you! LOL

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DNF: Kinetic Half Ironman

Nobody starts the first race of the season with the intention of a DNF (Did Not Finish), certainly I was more worried about being pulled off the course for not making the time cutoffs but I made some mistakes with my nutrition early on in the bike and when it came time to start the second loop of the run - I felt that my body had done enough.  As my husband said "Recover and Live to Race Another Day..."

So that is exactly what I did - time on the course 6:35. No Regrets - A good training day.


Kinetic Half Ironman - 1.2m Swim / 56M Bike / 13.1m Run
Time until DNF: 6:30

Short Summary: DNF after the first loop of the run (4.0 miles completed of 13.1) - serious nutrition issues - gas, nausea, diarrhea - not much fun...

We started out right on time at 7AM with Wave Swims starting every 3 minutes. I swam in Wave 4 with the 45+ women, Athenas, and Relay Swimmers.

SWIM: 59:35

My first open swim of the season. Two Loop Swim Course. My new wetsuit fit perfectly - no tired arms, no neck issues, no calf cramps from too much kicking, face in the water even though it was too murky to have anything to look at. I am happy to say there were no real freak outs about being in the water - just the typical sighting issues and stroke mechanics. I did freestyle the entire time but often found myself stopping to sight instead of just breathing "tarzan-style" to sight while still swimming. My pool swims have been around 45:00 for a mile and I was hoping that I would come in around 45-50 minutes but all the stopping and sighting took too much time.

SWIM: Lessons Learned/Issues:
1.) As much open water practice as I can get over the next 12 weeks will be very beneficial.
2.) I would be "satisfied" if I could get my 1.2 mile time down to 45:00 in the open water for IM USA
3.) Keep up the drills and keep going to Team Z swim practice - no matter how ackward and uncomfy it makes me feel

T1: 4:44 - About where I expected Transition One to be. That is fine for a long race day.

BIKE: 4:12:30

This was a beautiful bike course, long rollers and some long but easy climbs - plenty of time in the big chain ring - even after the headwinds kicked in on the second lap. This was a two loop course with 3 water stops and no port-o-potties. WHO HAS A 56 mile bike course with NO POTTIES? That is my biggest race organization complaint.

LAP ONE: I was not last out of the water - at least 2-3 people behind me. Even so, I only ever saw one other person on the Bike Course until around Mile 20 when the front of the race began to lap me. All the fast folks were super friendly and encouraging, which was nice of them. I was riding blind, without a bike computer or my Garmin so I relied on the watch to tell me where I was in terms of pace. I hit the 15 mile course marker at 50:00 minutes in, right on target for a sub 4:00 Bike. Nurition was fine at that point, I had been eating Cliff Blocks and drinking Gatorade and Water with the occasion peice of Power Bar.

Bottle exchange at Mile 18, I picked up water, mixed my second bottle of Gatoraide & a Nuun Tablet - opened more Cliff Blocks to snack on and continued on. Winds started to pick up at this point. Mile 30, another bottle exchange of water - about 2:15 into the ride. I was frustrated to have lost some of my early pace and having started the second lap, was all alone on the course and my stomach was feeling rather full and sloshy so I backed off the fluids for a few minutes - just chewing on some more power bar peices and hoping for the best.

Around Mile 35 - a white motorcycle with a side car pulled up next to me and very man with a big smile said "Are you in the triathlon?"

"Yep, am I the last rider on the road?"


Internal Dialog: "F*#% Me, Damnit!"

What a blow, to be the last bike on the course AND to now have an escort and headwinds. You can imagine the thoughts that started flying through my head. All of them very negative but I would counter each thought the best I could before it could turn into more by telling myself "You are having a bad moment, bad moments happen - let it pass" or saying "You have a personal escort, you don't have to worry about traffic" and FINALLY I just said to myself "Hey, nobody had taken my chip, nobody has told me to stop and I am just passed the 40 mile mark at just over 3:00 on the clock - I have time." Unfortunately, my stomach issues were getting worse - I had a serious case of belly slosh and had switched to just Gatorade, Water and Cliff Shots for the last 16 miles.

Around Mile 45 and the last Bottle Exchange, my motorcycle escort left me and was replaced with a Sag Van that had picked up the one rider that I did pass, who had a mechanical around Mile 40. By then, being followed no longer bothered me, I had become immune to the thoughts of quitting or feeling sorry for myself for being last. Not long after I passed Mile 50 - my watch alarm went off - It was NOON. 5 hours into the race start - as far as I knew, I had missed the Bike to Run cuttoff and my day was done.

I had decided that I was going to finish my bike and if they pulled my chip at transition - then that was it - but I wouldn't know until I got to transition so I was not going to "give up" or slow down because my overall elapsed bike time was 3:50 and I was less than 6 miles from Transition and a freaking Port-O-Potty.

I pulled into transition as the last official bike on the course - and apparently - I had come in well under the cutoff because it was based on the start of the last swim wave getting started. I was free to start my 13.1 mile run. The question now was - could I run?

T2: 3:58 - Could have saved myself 2 minutes if I had not felt so sick and unsure if I should even start. I futzed around trying to decide what to do. Reaching T2 with nobody taking my chip was a shock. Another fellow Athena who had come in a few minutes before me and was on my same rack and on Team Z told me her day was done - she was not getting out on the run. That was a temptation for me - especially feeling like I did. I ran to Jim before heading out on the run and told him that I was really hurting but I was going to try a lap of the run and see if finding a damn "Port-O-Potty" might actually help alleviate some of the pain. I knew I had 3 hours still on the race clock and nothing to loose by continuing on, so I got a kiss from my husband and headed to Run OUT.

BIKE Lessons Learned/Issues:
1.) I increased the number of Clif Blocks that I normally eat and tried to take on more calories early on - THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR ME
2.) I can fight the "voices" in my head - and successfully tell them to "shut the heck up" when I have to
3.) Being last isn't really that big a freaking deal the important thing is to keep your eyes on the time and NOT GIVE UP
4.) Use the next 12 weeks of long bike rides to figure out what will work - KEEP RECORDS!

RUN: 4 miles of 13.1 miles (1 loop) - 1:15:05

I have raced and officially finished the Half Ironman distance 2 times before. I know what it feels like to get off the bike and be tired. I have NEVER until this race, known what it felt like to get off the bike and be in PAIN. My digestive system was a mess - my stomach was making noises that I have never heard before and the gas pain was incredible. I decided that I would power walk the first mile, because I knew that was where there was a Potty and a Water Station. First stop was the potty and emptying my bladder for the first time in 5 hours helped somewhat. Second stop - the water station where I took 2 Endurolyte Salt tabs and Ice Chips with some water. I was hoping the extra salt might somehow help me balance out my tummy issues or at least settle them down some. For Mile 2, I was able to do some run/walking - stomach pain would come and go - it came with the run and would go with the walking. As we came back around near Mile 2.5 and another waterstop and Potty and things changed - at first I thought for the better. I had to GO! So I ducked in and did what I could. My first thoughts: "Allright! Got that out - now let's get back to the work at hand." Sadly that was not the case...Instead it was the beginning of much worse.

For the next 1.5 miles, every time that I tried to run - I had the feeling that I was going to have a very embarrassing accident and my stomach would make sounds that made me think of scenes from the movie Alien. For 1.5 miles I did what I could - I sucked ice chips, I ate some chex mix, I stayed away from simple sugar (since I had so much on the bike) and nothing changed. The most frustrating part of all of this was that as far as my legs were concerned - they were tired but I definatley felt that I could have run. I just couldn't make my digestive system calm down enough to find a nice easy pace.

I hit the first lap, got my hand marked and passed the finish line to start the next lap up the steep hill. Jim was standing at the Aid Station - looking concerned but said " One Lap Down, you still have time to finish one more." It was when I said " Honey there are two more laps I need to do..." that he looked at me with some concern and said "What are you going to do?" I thought about it, knowing that it had taken me 1:15 to cover 4 miles. My digestive issues were not getting better and I had been out of the course for 6:30. This was a "training race" - there was no glory for me in gutting this race out (literally at this point) - there was nothing more that I was going to gain in training today. Clearly I was not going to be able to ingest any more calories. It was time to turn in my chip and declare myself officialy a DNF for this race.

Jim was super supportive and my good friend, Keri, who had come to watch me finish, was supportive and kept things upbeat as we sat down at the Team Z tent and I tried to get my body to relax a little. While it felt good to have stop moving, there was nothing that I could do to settle my stomach. I tried a little real food, I tried some soda water, I tried a few trips to the Ladies Room but the issues kept on. I finished the my race day at about 1:30 in the afternoon and when I went to bed at 9:30 - my stomach was feeling just as bad. I went to bed last night with no regrets on choosing to DNF. Clearly, my body was in distress and I will need to find out how to fix that but I have time still to get the nutricion mix right.

When I woke up this morning, I was feeling nearly normal, physically. My stomach is nearly back to normal and my body feels like it should have after a long swim and long bike - tired but not spent, none of this was "new milage" in terms of training volume. Emotionally, I'm not sad or mad or angry. I'm just doing my best to process this race day experience, figure out what I did wrong and what I did right and how to course correct my training to fix the issues before July 26, 2009.

While 12 weeks is not alot of time, I'm not as far behind as I thought considering the 2 weeks of illness that I had and my short "wedding break". I have work to do but I also still have time to do it.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Let the SEASON begin...

Ready or not, here it comes...

My first TRI of the 2009 Season is tomorrow morning at 7AM.

I'll be doing the Kinetic Half Ironman:70.3 miles of FUN - 1.2 mile SWIM, 56 mile BIKE, 13.1 mile RUN

Coach Ed has said "just a training day, not an A race" but when the race cutoff is 8:00 hours and your half Ironman PR is 8:01 the event becomes a chance to PR on a training day.

DId 2000 yards in the pool the other day - felt good - time to see where my training has gotten me so far this year.

Race Report on the FLIP SIDE!

Have a good weekend and remember LIFE IS GOOD so Live STRONG!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

"Oddest Weekend of Training, YET!"

Seriously, I am thinking this weekend goes in the record books at the "Oddest Weekend of Training, YET!"

First on Saturday was a 5K run with Team Z at the Arlington Science Focus 5K. It was a hilly course that raised money for the Arlington Science Focus Elementary School. The run itself was pretty uneventful and hard with the constant hills. I ran a 36:40 and I'll take it since the first two miles I held a solid sub 11:30 pace - not melting or slowing until near the end of the last mile. I also got a chance to meet a few more Team Z Ladies, thanks to Priscilla. There was Christine, Mary and Alison (who also did the Princess Half Marathon!!) Go TEAM Z!

The ODD part of the day was the "Swat Team" and Police that were down the street about 2-blocks from the school in a gun-stand off. Of course, I had foolishly parked down *that end* of the street (along with some other runners) and we had to wait about 15 minutes after the end of the award ceremony to get access to our cars.

Now let me tell you about THIS MORNING:

So like a good little dedicated Ironman-distance triathlete in training, I got up today to go out to MD to do my long ride with Team Z, despite the rain that had been falling all night and was expected to continue to fall all day. At 6:30AM I left the house on the hour drive to the ride start. I was ready for a long day in the rain, knowing based on my trip to Lake Placid last season to sign up, that there could be rain - all day - on race day.

Apparently, riding of any kind was not in the cards for me today.

About 30 minutes into the drive, as I took the exit ramp off I-495, I felt the Ford's wheels slip a little and I did my best to correct it, as I remembered from the few track days I have been on (very few) but as the wheels finally caught pavement, I probably over corrected and the Ford decided to take me for a ride - into the guardrail and then for a few spins and a very UNNECESSARY bit of rocking which scared me clean out of my mind since I know Ford Explorers have a low center of gravity and therefor are known to roll. There was some rocking but no rolling and no airbag deployment.

Luckily nobody else was around so the only things that got hurt were the aforementioned guardrail, the driver side of the Ford (some bumper and side panel damage), the right front tire (rolled off the rim and flattened), my Garmin 305 and me.

At some point during the Ford's "WILD RIDE", my bike came out of it's holder and decided to take a look at the view closer to the front. Jim and I can't determine if it was my bike or if it was a cooler full of water bottles - but one of those two things came forward from the back and smacked the back of my head, hard enough to leave a huge bump ( I think they call it an egg on your head) and cause a serious headache. The ER DR said I can expect to feel horribly stiff and sore tomorrow and gave me and R/X for muscle relaxants and 600 mg of Ibuprofen every 6 hours for a day or two until the pain is gone. I am under "observation" with my husband Jim by my side for the next 24 hours to make sure that I didn't suffer a concussion or other complications. So far, other than feeling progressively stiffer and more sore and having a sore spot on my head and a headache, I'm OK.

I'm thankful that nobody else was involved in my spin out and that the only serious injuries were the car and a bump on my head. I'm thankful for the good Samaritan who stopped and waited with me until the police, ambulance and my husband to arrive, to the Potomac Ambulance Crew who brought me to the hospital to make sure everything was okay and to the ER doctor who not only decided not to do a CT scan because she was concerned at exposing me to any unnecessary radiation but who also confidently told me that as long as I was not having any headaches or pain in 7 days, I was free to do the Kinetic Half Ironman next weekend. She smiled when I asked her about doing my race and asked me about how we fit two bikes in the Ford, I suspect I encountered a fellow rider.

Now as for this weekend, I am now on the couch - and staying here for the time being. It seems to be the safest place for me right now - at least until something else ODD happens (Can you be smooshed while sitting in your own recliner?)

Life is still good, at least I raced a hilly 5K. ONWARD!