Thursday, April 25, 2013

Catching Up

Yes, I've been neglecting my blog.  It's not for lack of time, energy, or material, but more just due to laziness and a little bit of writer's block.  So now, I'm going to take the easy way out and do a little bullet-pointed catch-up post, and then be better about the updating. 
  • Boston
Like most everyone, I had a lot of feelings and emotions about the bombings in Boston and subsequent events.  Not that I'm unique in this regard, at all, but I felt personally affected both as an athlete (and one who has done the Boston Marathon) and, perhaps more so, as a person who lived in the Boston area for three years.  I wrote up a whole blog post about my thoughts, even, gasp, edited it a couple times, and then threw it out.  It felt a little too personal, and frankly, I don't have much to say that hasn't been said by lots of other people already.

So in short, I'll just say that though the events of that week were horrible and scary, for me, they brought forth an immense pride and affection for the city of Boston that I hadn't really felt before.  What we saw last week.... the gritty, bad-ass refusal to back down....that's what I did and do love about Boston.

  • Heathens' Easter
 And in a completely different direction....
Me and my grandma
It should come as no surprise to anyone that has met me and/or my brother that my family is pretty ridiculously competitive.  We're also really into silly traditions, some of which are roughly rooted in our Hungarian background, most of which are not.  And we've always tended to celebrate holidays (well, mostly birthdays) without regard for the day on which the holiday actually falls, but when it's more convenient based on our schedule.

One of my favorite traditions that has endured over the years is the Easter Egg Hunt.  We had the Easter Egg Hunt when we were all kids, and as we've grown into full-fledged adults, the tradition has lived on and gotten increasingly competitive, to the point that there is now pre-Hunt trash talking, physical blocking, and frequent attempts by one certain participant to cheat by stealing eggs out of other players' baskets.  Over the years, various significant others have also participated (although none has emerged victorious), and the Hunt has emerged as sort of a test of compatibility with the family.  I'm not naming names, but a certain ex-boyfriend of mine may have been a little overly pouty when he lost, even accusing the Easter Bunny of rigging things against him, and I dare say that was the beginning of the end of that relationship,  at least in my mind.
On my way to victory

Looking for eggs so quickly he became a blur
Anyway, what to say about this year's Hunt?  Oh yeah....I won.  For the second year in a row.  In record time.  I was so fast it was scary.
I made myself a trophy in honor of my victory and gloated the rest of the day
Also, we did the Hunt a week after Easter.  That seems a little (lot) sacrilegious, but aside from my sister, none of us are particularly religious, so we didn't think much of it.  Heathens.
Egg Hunt 2013 Participants
  • It's Tri Season!
Speaking of competitions.  I guess it's safe to say that triathlon season is getting going.  For others.   Results are coming in, races are getting closer and closer, and I keep expecting myself to get excited about getting out there and racing again.....but I'm not.  I've already had two races that I planned to do and backed out of, and I cannot bring myself to fully commit to anything in the next couple months.

I'm not sure what the problem is or why I have no desire whatsoever to compete when racing is usually the part of triathlon that I love, but frankly, I'm not really in the mood to over-analyze myself or think too much about it.  So for now, I'm just going with the flow, trying to get and stay consistent with my training, and assuming that the competitive spirit will return, eventually.   If it doesn't, I guess I'll have to force myself into some races, but that's not a worry for today.  Or really, for tomorrow.  I forget sometimes how LONG the triathlon season can be, and particularly in my case, where I peaked for races in January and March and have sorta big races in September and October, I think it's OK to have a nice long downtime from racing, even if it is when everyone else is getting fired up. 
  • TriSports!
I really should have blogged about this earlier. Once I do start up racing again, I'm going to be doing so while proudly wearing a kit.  I am so honored to have been selected as part of the Team for this year.  If you're not familiar with, you really should be.  Over the past couple years, I've gotten the vast majority of my gear from  They have the widest selection and best prices and customer service of anyone out there.  Even for you non-triathletes....if you want running shoes or clothes for the gym, or anything like that, check them out (and use my discount code (AWENDORFF) for 15% off most items).

  • Miscellaneous Stuff 
In terms of big major life events (i.e., jobs), wheels are still in motion and I'm keeping my mouth shut for now.  I'm back in the Chicagoland area (but not Chicago itself) relying once again on the ridiculous, amazing kindness of friends to keep me off the street as my condo is still occupied for a little while longer.  I'm swimming a lot, riding a fair amount, running a bit, and recovering like a boss.
Compression boots and Mad Men.  Not sure it gets better
Basically, I'm easing back into life, little-by-little.  The nice, slow re-entry is keeping me sane and, dare I say, happy?  Although this weather??? As Gob Bluth would say:  "C'MON!!!"

Words cannot express my love for Arrested Development
 Yes, I know I pretty much completely dodged winter this year and I probably haven't earned the right to complain about the weather, but I couldn't care less.  It needs to warm up.  Now.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

There's No Place Like Home

Two things today.

First, some scuba pictures from when I went to the Great Barrier Reef weeks ago.  I've still not found the USB cord for my underwater camera, but I put on my thinking cap for a little (I haven't had my thinking cap on a whole lot lately) and devised a scheme whereby I could upload the pictures from that camera without a USB cord (in other words, I found a memory card reader in my dad's desk).  Here are a few, with some more at the end.  It wasn't terribly sunny and I'm not terribly gifted when it comes to photography, so these don't even come close to doing the reef justice, but oh well.
The sea was rough and that's why I almost puked.
Shark.  I remember him being bigger and scarier looking.


Second, a little update on life.

I guess I'm not technically the Traveling Triathlete anymore, so I've lost some of my story and will probably at some point need to put my thinking cap back on and come up with a new blog title and all that.  I'll do that later.   But I'm not going to stop updating my blog.  I've found that I really enjoy writing.  This has served as a bit of a journal for me, it's fun for me to look back at, it's kept me in better touch with family and friends, and it has allowed me to connect a little more with a lot of people I either fell out of touch with or didn't know all that well (or at all) in the first place.  I like these things.  My entries, from here on out, might not be full of so many pictures of exotic places, and the hits might decrease, but that's OK with me.  I'll try to be interesting and tell good stories and I may or may not succeed,  but I've got a pretty big doozy of a summer sitting in front of me, including quite a lot of travel and then topped by a little Hawaii trip, so I'm hoping life will still provide good material.
To keep with tradition, a picture of sheep I saw during my ride, except it doesn't look so cool in Ohio.
For now, I'm still in Ohio enjoying time with the family before I head back to Chicagoland.  My little brother, who's been going through the various phases of training required to become a real, full-fledged soldier, is home on leave having just finished his second round of sorta-boot-camp.  I don't understand the technicalities of it, but for the past six months, he's been in Texas, taking classes and still not getting a whole lot of freedom.  He had another graduation ceremony and of course finished first in his class (again) and of course got some sorta fancy-pants merit award for being a good leader (again), and now is off to D.C. where he will allegedly be treated more like a real adult and work in a medical lab.  My brother's one of those kind of people that....just when you think you couldn't be more proud of him, he goes off and does something even more awesome.  So having him around has lightened the mood in these parts, and it's been a treat.
Li'l Brudder home from the Army
My own readjustment into real life has been relatively painless.   I had a lot of fears about re-entry, but they've all proven to be fairly ridiculous worries.  I worried that I'd be jetlagged forever.  I'm not.  It took a few sleepless nights filled, of course, with relentless googling of "how do I immigrate to New Zealand?" but I'm now back on a fairly normal sleep schedule.  Sure, I stay up a little too late and sleep in a little too late, but that's a luxury I have right now and I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

I worried I'd struggle with the switch to right-side driving and do something stupid.  I haven't.  I've been fine, save for a few very minor incidents.   I worried I'd miss everything about New Zealand.   I do (sorta), but there's a ton of things about the States that I realized I missed as well.  I worried that when it came to thinking about my career, I'd freak out and feel completely lost and panicked.  I'm not.  I'm not going to talk about it here, at least not for a while, but things are falling into place on that front and in a pretty big way, I'm looking forward to getting back to work and expending my mental energy on things that don't involve swimming, biking, running, or flying on airplanes.
Columbus from a bike path that did not exist when I left in 2003.
As for that swimming, biking, and running thing....I worried about that, too.  I worried that in my last few weeks in Australia and New Zealand, I'd let myself get completely out of shape, and that I'd arrive back in Ohio slow, discouraged, and perhaps worse, lacking motivation.   In reality, I've unexpectedly gotten my triathlon mojo back.  After a couple days of panic when every swim, bike and run felt slow and hard and the days until my first post-mid-season break race seemed so few, something just clicked with me.  I can't explain it, but like a light switching on, I suddenly just stopped panicking and, instead, accepted where I am right now.  Yes, I'm a little slow; yes, I'm in the worst shape I've been in in a while;  yes, I've got a long ways to go....but for some reason that doesn't bother me anymore.  I'm working hard, I'm getting stronger every day, and I'm actually enjoying it.

It's sort of fun tackling workouts that were once easy but no longer are, pushing myself as hard as I can to the point that I sit in the hot tub post-swim a little dazed, a little confused, a lot nauseous, and knowing that I'm going to see quick results despite the lower watts, the slower splits, the leisurely paces.  Perhaps I'm not explaining it well, but there's a freedom in being able to say "tomorrow, I'm going to be stronger than I am today," and fully, 100% believing it because really, there's no place to go but up.
Almost every day I walk past my favorite building (OSU Stadium) and swim in the bestest pools ever
In a way, I feel like the end of my trip brought the triathlon mojo back.  I think it's perspective.  Now that I'm forced to start thinking again about other things in career, my future, my relationships, my finances, my home...I fixate on triathlon a little less and, in turn, like it a little more.  Yeah, it's only been a little over a week since I got home, but I'm feeling good about this.  I'm feeling more like my pre-trip self-- the one who absolutely loved the training and the sport because it was a release from life, and not the only thing in life.  I really think, for me, that's the way it has to be.

At any rate, life is good.  It's cold, and I don't enjoy scraping frost off my windshield, and my toes were so frozen after my ride today that it took almost an hour (including a 30 minute run) to regain feeling, and there's no pretty mountains or oceans to look at.....but I'm really, really happy to be home.