Monday, July 31, 2006

Troubled Teen Mojo

I probably was the most difficult and disobedient child in my family. I think between the ages of 13-15, I drove my Mom to drink wine every night. My Mom hated two things, lying and black eyeliner.

When I turned 13, I started taking an interest in make-up. I was only allowed to wear Bonnie Bell lip gloss. A friend gave me a black eye liner and I thought it made me look so hot. One day, I came home from school with raccoon eyes and my Mom almost had a heart attack.

"What is that on your eyes? You look like a tramp! Take that off! You have natural beauty. You are never to wear that trashy make-up again."

Whatever, I decided just to put it on at school. Then, I'd wash it off before I came home. I wasn't a smart enough 13 year old to know that there was black smudges still around my eyes. When my mom came home, she asked me if I wore the black eye liner again. I lied and told her I didn't wear it. She went and got a Q-tip and circled my eyes with the white cotton tip. It turned black and I had black eye boogers. I got smacked with the hair brush and had to turn over my beloved black crayon.

But that paled in comparison to the July day before my eighth grade year. My mom and dad both worked so that left me home alone during summer break. I had rules, I wasn't to leave the neighborhood and only my best friend, Chrissy was allowed to come in our house. Chrissy and I got a phone call from some older high school boys. They wanted us to ride around with them in their parents' van. I would agree only if they took us to McDonald's, I was obsessed with super sized fries. They said we could stop for fries and I told them to meet us at the end of our street. I knew better than to let the nosey neighbors see me get into a van with boys, they'd tell on me.

They pick us up and we head to Mc'Ds. I was happily chowing down on my french fries when I heard a siren behind me. I turn around and a cop is following us , complete with siren blaring and flashing lights!
"Aren't you suppose to pull over?" I naively ask.

But we sped up and the cop is still on our tail. The older boys tell me to shut up. I can't eat my french fries because I sense trouble. A second police car comes flying out of a side street and is chasing us now too. Chrissy and I are screaming stop as we are sailing through a residential area at 55mph. Now we have four cop cars chasing us and I scream,
"If you do not stop, I will jump out of the van!"

The older boy comes to a screeching stop and the two of them jump out of the van. They try to run away but the cops are on them like flies on dog poo. They get clubbed in the dome piece with a night stick and cuffed. Chrissy and I are still sitting in the van holding our french fries, crying our fool heads off. I didn't know if I was going to get beat with the stick or not.

The cops take the boys away and come talk to us. I guess the brain trust boys hit a Porsche at the mall before they picked us up and drove away. It's called hit and run. I told the cop I didn't know anything about it, I just wanted some french fries. He told us we were too young to be hanging out with the bad boys. I told the cops I was sorry and I'd never see them again. I told them thanks for their concern and Chrissy and I would be moving along. We'd just walk home since the van was being impounded. I thought I was brilliant, our parents would never know!

The cop wasn't letting us off that easily though. "Where do you live?"
I assured him not very far away.
"What neighborhood and street?" he quizzed me.
I decided I better not lie and told the truth.
"Lowry Drive? That's over eight miles away. I am going to drive you girls home."

I broke out into the ugly cry, I was going to be driven home in a cop car! The neighbors would have a field day with this information. I had a plan, exit the cop car as quickly as possible. When he pulled up in my driveway, I'd jump out real fast and say "Thanks for the ride!"

When he pulled into the driveway, I couldn't find the handle to open the damn door. I was panicking, where is it? He informed me there was no handle, he had to open the door from the outside. I saw the neighbors looking through the windows as the cop walked me up to the house and invited himself inside. My parents weren't home yet. He left his number and told me my parents were to call him in the morning. If he didn't get a phone call, he'd come back to the house.

I saw my life flash before my eyes. My Mom was going to kill me. I called my oldest sister at work and told her what I did.

"You know Mom is going to really windmill you for this, don't you? You are only 13! You are way too worldly wise for your age. I think they need to send you to Christian school."

No sympathy.

My mom and her windmill. The windmill is when she smacks you repeatedly with both arms flailing. I asked my sister to send her boyfriend over, I needed some moral support when I broke the news to Mom.

I was grounded for the rest of the summer and couldn't hang out with Chrissy again. My sisters' boyfriend did come over when I told mom. It didn't spare me. Mom just had an audience while she windmilled me.

All for fucking super sized fries!?
** I couldn't resist playing Ice Ice Baby. It was the song that was playing on the stereo when we were pulled by the cops. My husband was begging me to remove the song from my blog, he hates it. Vanilla Ice is notorious on this farm. The baby goats dance like Vanilla Ice, the whipper snapping of the head and all. I've always questioned Ice, "Did you really hear shells hitting the pavement?"***

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Ten Years Ago

I realized I have never really written about the one experience that changed me and my life forever. I never really talk about it either. I thought about as time goes by, things get more fuzzy and I start forgetting the small details. Today, after my long run, I decided I'd write them all down.

My parents got a divorce when I turned 17. It was a bad time. It tore our family apart, my Mom was a mess. It was decided that I would move to NC. My Dad bought a home with his girlfriend on a golf course. My Dad worked in DC during the week, he only came home to NC on the weekends. His girlfriend was always around though.

I found a job as a waitress at Don's old restaurant. I finished my junior year. When my senior year of high school started, I started working more hours at the restaurant. I had two honor classes, English and creative writing. Some nights, I would stay up until 2am finishing papers. I thought I was just working very hard and that was the reason I was so tired.

One morning, after a shower, I noticed the left side of my upper body was bigger than my right. Especially my shoulder and armpit area. I thought maybe my left side was just fatter than my right since I am right handed. I did my Cindy Crawford workout more on my left side for a week. It didn't help.

When I was shaving my pits a few weeks later, I saw a lump. When I felt it, I felt many lumps, like a cluster of grapes. I had a bad feeling deep in my gut. I called my Dad and told him I think I need to see a doctor. He called Fort Bragg and I was to go to the Army hospital two days later.

I just saw a GP during that appointment. He drew blood and start feeling my lumps. He called in a nurse and she watched while he checked my breasts. I felt humiliated, warm tears were rolling down my cheeks. Little did I know, this was just the beginning.

It all happened pretty fast after that, the GP was so concerned he wanted me to stay in the hospital over night so the head pediatrician could see me first thing in the morning. The next day, about ten different doctors asked me questions, poked and felt my lumps. They called my Dad at the Pentagon and asked him about my family's history of cancer. Had anyone ever had Hodgkin's Lymphoma? I wasn't shocked because deep down, I had known. I knew the day I felt them when I was shaving.

My oldest sister and mom rushed down to be with me during the biopsy. They had an awful time drawing blood and getting IV's in my arms. My mom was in the room when the nurse was attempting to get the IV in, it was attempt number twelve. My arms were black and blue from blown veins, I looked like a junkie. I started crying, not because the IV attempts hurt so bad but I was mentally scared and tired. My Mom ran out of the room. I could hear her sobbing in the hallway talking to the doctor. Nobody ever wanted to cry with me. They wanted to pretend they were strong and I'd be just fine.

Once the surgeon cut open my armpit, he said "Wow! We've got a lot of good samples here." He told me it didn't look good. The thing about military hospitals is that they don't bullshit. You don't get a lot of bedside manner. If I'd cry, they'd tell me to "steel myself, it would get worse before better". Those doctors helped toughen me up and helped shape a part of me today. I'm more likely to laugh than cry when I'm hurt now. I asked to see the tumors he cut out. They looked like little balls of 80/20 raw hamburger. They were shipped to Bethesda, MD.

Everyone already knew but they wanted the oncologist to officially break the news to me when the results came back. I remember him sitting on the bed and saying "Something has happened that will change your life forever sweetie, you have cancer." He scheduled all sorts of tests; bone marrow biopsy, CT scans, bone scans, blood tests.

The worse test was the bone marrow biopsy. My oncologist had to do it. I got no pain killers or anesthesia. I guess you can't numb a bone anyway. When I saw Dr.C come in with a hand auger/drill, I started to get scared. When he called four soldiers to hold me down on the table, I was terrified. On one side of my hips, Dr.C had to drill through my hip bone down into the marrow for a sample. As he drilled, he said my bones were so hard. It felt like my hip was going to shatter with all the pressure and force.

He'd stick a piece a metal down through the drill to see if he'd hit the marrow yet. When it first started, I was crying, hard. Then, it got to a point of shock and I just made some weird noises. The other side, he chipped a piece of bone off for the sample. When the soldiers released me, I saw tears in Dr.C's eyes. "I'm so sorry, I know how painful that was, it hurt me to do that to you." When I turned around to look at my hips, I noticed it looked like a smiley face. The two holes he drilled in were the eyes and my where my butt cheeks' creased was the mouth. Dr.C laughed hard.

After all the tests were done, I learned I had stage 3. I had lots of tumors in my chest, around my lungs and heart. I decided against letting them cut me open and take samples of my liver, spleen and bladder. I just felt it wasn't necessary. I had cancer, I was going to have chemo so it didn't matter if it was in my liver. I was going to start four chemo drugs, Adriamycin, Bleomycin, Vinblastine and DTIC. The worst of these drugs were the A and B. They cause heart and lung damage. Lance Armstrong refused bleomycin during his treatment due to lung damage. Before chemo started, they had to install a port-a-cath. I needed the port in my chest because my veins were so small and if the chemo leaked out, it would destroy the vein.

The port surgery would be my first surgery ever. I arrived at 7am but there was emergencies and I didn't go into surgery until 1pm. I was so hungry and thirsty but had to go under general anesthesia on an empty stomach. I remember the nurses giving me the gown and instructing me to take off all my clothes. I didn't listen, I left my underwear on. They wheeled me into the operating room, it was cold and full of shiny metal. They put a mask on my face and I only got to number 96.

The next thing I remember, is laying on a gurney flying down the hall. I was very upset and trying to get up. People kept yelling at me to lay down. I looked down at my chest and had a large needle sticking out of it. I couldn't stop crying, anesthesia does that to me, I get hysterical. They told me if I didn't calm down, I wouldn't get to go home. I started doing the snotty, hiccupping, gulping sob because I really wanted to go home. I looked at the clock at it was 6pm. I was in surgery for over five hours? They said it would take two max.

I guess I'm like a horse, they couldn't knock me out. I woke up during surgery and put my hands over my chest, trying to stop them. I broke the sterile environment and they had to start over. They had problems threading the tubing into my jugular vein. Because I'm so small in my chest, it was difficult to anchor the port and pull skin back over it.

The port bothered me a lot during my entire treatment. It felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. I didn't like touching it. I didn't want people hugging me too tight. I could feel the tubing pull when I'd turn my head too far. It was working though, they could draw blood and administer chemo. In the long run, it would save my veins.

I had my treatments every other Monday. It would take about four hours for chemo. First, I'd have a bag of anti-nausea medication, then steroids, then Vinblastine and DTIC. They'd have to push the Adriamycin and Bleomycin in slowly. If you pushed the Adriamycin in too quickly, I could have a heart attack. I could taste the bleomycin and at the end of my chemotherapy treatments, I would gag when I got that drug.

After the first treatment, I had very bad jaw and back pain. I felt like I got hit by a truck. I wasn't vomiting my head off like what I saw in the movies, that would come later. The first treatment, I was a strong 18 year old and my body fought against the poison. My hair started coming out the second round. Mostly in the shower, big handfuls. I had loved to dye my hair. Black, brown, red, blonde it would make my parents so mad. Dr.C was thoroughly impressed because I never lost all my hair. A bit of fuzz always remained, I never got a chrome dome. The hair that remained was striped like a skunk. Each treatment would leave a thin ring, the next week my hair would grow thick again. My family would send me hats, scarves and flowers. I was alone with my dad's girlfriend most of the time.

As the treatments went on, I got weaker. I was very nauseated by cycle three. Dr. C prescribed me a drug called Marinol. Marinol was the shit, it was weed in a pill. They were little round brown pills. I loved Marinol so much but there were days I was really sick. I'd sometimes vomit them up right after I'd swallow them. I'd pick them back out of the bile and swallow them again. They were the only medicine that gave me an appetite. I'd beg people to take me to Sonic after two Marinol pills. I'd get a double cheeseburger, tater tots and a limeade.

I was only supposed have eight cycles. I remember walking into the hospital, thinking this was my last one. I went into Dr. C's office, he told me that the cancer wasn't responding to the chemo like he hoped. He wanted to go to the maximum amount and do a total of 16 treatments. I was so sad that day. A soldier was in the chemo room having a party because it was his last treatment that same day. I gagged and wept, I didn't know if I could handle eight more.

I got to go see my Mom and sisters one week for a vacation. It was hard for people that loved me to look at me at first. I could see the sadness and tears in their eyes. I think being sick was harder on them than it was me. We never really talked about it. Nobody ever talked to me about death and dying. It was easier to pretend death didn't exist. I happily caught crabs and ate them(thanks to Marinol) during that vacation.

I quit my job working as a waitress for Don right when I got sick. He still kept in contact with me and told me as soon as I got better, he wanted me to come back to work. He kept asking me to come into the restaurant to see him. Sometimes, I felt like a freak show. People would ask me if I was a boy or girl. Kids would run away from me. I still remember the day I went and saw Don at the restaurant. He was so happy to see me. He gave me such a big hug, I had to tell him not so hard because he was hurting my port. His eyes filled with tears and was one of the few to cry in front of me. I sometimes think that was the moment I decided he was good enough to be my husband. That didn't happen until four years later, the cradle robber!

How my life had changed. I once was a homecoming princess, now people were confused about my sex. I used to love make-up but with no eyebrows or eyelashes it all looked weird. I used to love to color and style my hair but it was gone. My body had become just a shell. That was the year I learned about who I truly was.

I became strong even though my body had failed me. It humbled me. It taught me not to look only skin deep. It taught me to be thankful for each day. It made me a fighter. All this triathlon talk was started because during my last treatment Dr.C told me two things. First, not to try to have a baby for at least five years. It would be too much for my body to handle. Second, the only thing I couldn't do would be an endurance event due to heart and lung damage. It took me ten years but I proved him wrong.

Today, when I was running in the heat, I didn't complain. I'm alive. I feel the heat. I feel the sweat dripping from my hair into my eyes. I am stronger than I have ever been. My husband can hug me hard without hurting my port. I want to always remember because I think as hard as the cancer was, it made me a better person.

Hellooo McFly

Last night, right before I was getting ready to go to bed, the phone rang. It was only 9:30pm, I'm getting old. After my bike ride, brick run, cleaning the house and making dinner, I was ready to pass out. Sometimes, I make my husband lie and tell people that I'm sleeping or in the shower. He acted like this phone call was important. I picked up.

"Hello, Auntie! Going to see you tomorrow?" It was my 3 year old nephew. My sister is racing her first Oly triathlon today in Charlottesville, VA. I had called her in the afternoon to wish her luck but I had only left a message on her answering machine.

"No, buddy. I'm not racing with your Mommy tomorrow. It's her big day though, yell very loud for her, okay?"

My sister gets on the phone and explained that since the Pee-Dee race, her little boy thinks he'll see me at every triathlon. I could hear my 3 yro nephew and 5 yro niece squealing in the background.

"Stop jumping on the bed, lay down and go to sleep!" my sister told them.

I asked her where she was because it was past the kids' bedtime. She got a hotel for the big race, she was in Charlottesville already.

"I had to call you because I knew you'd get a kick out of this one!" she said chuckling. "I did all the packing for me, CB(her husband) and the kids. CB packed the bike and stroller. When we got here and unloaded the car, CB started to panic."

He said, "You wouldn't believe what I forgot! I forgot to put your front tire in the car!"

Oh my God. That's worse than Ookla!

The funniest part of the story is my 5yro niece said, "Daddy, how is Mommy supposed to race without her bike's front tire?"

Good question Meggers, that is why Daddy gets to drive two hours home and two hours back to the hotel to fetch the front tire. My sister was laughing about it. Let's hope the race goes better than the packing for the trip.

At the gym on Friday, I was in the free weight room, doing squats. Some guy comes in the room but isn't paying attention to where he is walking. He walks right into the end of the chest press barbell. He hits it so hard, it throws him backward and he makes a sound like the wind got knocked out of him. "HHHHuuUUUUUHhhhhh"

I couldn't control myself. I started laughing out loud, he could hear me. I was laughing so hard, I could barely get my barbell back on the rack. I wanted to yell out "Hello McFly! That smarted didn't it?"

He ran out of the room too fast though.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Dumbest Things I'll Ever Say

To help you laugh your way into the weekend, I'll tell you three short stories.

1. When I was 20, my husband and I were driving to South Carolina. I saw a big, round sign off I-95.

I said, "Honey, what is googaas? Is it some infant and toddler store or something? Like goo-goo-gaa-gaa's?"

My husband could barely contain himself. "You mean Go-Gas?? That would be a gas station sweetie!"

2. Again, my husband and I were in the car. This time driving 1-95 north, going to DC. (I'm going to blame car rides for my lack of brain cells. ) There was an accident, maybe three cars. It was a very bad wreck, one car was crushed. The police, ambulance and fire fighters were at the scene. As we were driving by, I saw a fire fighter with a big piece of equipment.

"Oh NO! Someone really must be hurt honey! That fire fighter has to use the claws of death!"

My observation almost made my husband crash our car. He was laughing so hard, he was crying and couldn't see the road. I didn't know what was so funny until he caught his breath.

"That fireman is holding the Jaws of Life not the Claws of Death!"

I think my name for those giant metal scissors is better. If a fireman ever has to use those things to get me out of a car, I know I just escaped death.

3. One summer afternoon, when I was 14, my sister and I were looking at the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. We were judging all the hot babes, rating them on our scale. I held up a picture of a beautiful, blonde girl on a beach wearing a silver bikini. I crowned her queen of that edition.

My sister asked, "What's her name? She is very pretty, I think I've seen her on TV before."

I searched the page for her name. "Ummmmm, uhhhhhhhh... I think she's Swiss or something. Her name looks foreign. It says her name is Ookla Freshman."

"What?? No beautiful woman wouldn't have that type of name! She'd change it." My sister snatched the magazine out of my hands to check.

"You are such a fucking retard! It says UCLA freshman!"

I never could live that one down. After that, anytime I ever said something smart-assed to my sister, she'd just say "Whatever, Oookla!" to put me in my place.

The scary thing is, I only have blonde highlights. No telling what I'd say if I was all blonde!

How about sharing the Tri love? Stop by to wish
  • Miss Jenny
  • good luck on her very first triathlon this weekend. It's her first open water swim and I'm sending her some good Mojo!
    Go baby, go go!

    Thursday, July 27, 2006

    The Making of a Sea Hawk

    When my husband and I first moved in together, I was throwing out some letters and pictures. I threw out two little pictures in gold frames of me in my Sea Hawk's swim team suit when I was six. My husband got really upset and dug the pictures out of the trash. He said it was one of his favorite pictures of me when I was young. Ten years ago, I didn't think I'd ever swim again so they didn't mean anything to me. When I saw that picture this morning, sitting in the desk drawer, I was glad my husband made me save it. Because it means something to me today as a triathlete.

    Today, I'm thankful to my parents for signing me up for swim lessons when I was four. It means I am thankful for my swim team coach for teaching me how to do free style when I was five. It was really the only sport my sister and I did during the cold, snowy, winters in Germany. I don't remember too much about learning to swim. I do remember the first race I did when I was six, 25 meter free-style. Coach told me I could win if I didn't stop and hold on to the lane line. I swam my little heart out, without stopping and got my first blue ribbon. I smiled real big but was missing my two front teeth.

    When we moved to Spain when I was nine, there was no swim team. I'd ride "Sweet Thunder", my pink dirt bike to the pool every summer day. I'd entertain myself by throwing coins in the bottom of the pool and pretending I found secret treasures. For lunch, I'd spend my coins on a Snicker's Bar and Coke. The best summer day at that pool was when I found a $20.00 bill floating at the bottom. I thought I was a millionaire! I was so proud when I brought it home. My mom made me take it back and give it to the lifeguards to put in the lost and found. Nobody claimed the $20.00 after three days so I got to keep it. I bought trivial Pursuit with that money because I wanted my sister to play games with me. I never won that game, it was way over my head. My sister enjoyed playing it with my oldest sister though.

    We came home to the US when I was eleven. My parents signed me up for the summer swim team in Virginia. I learned to do flip-turns and butterfly. The kids were really good in Fairfax, most of them were on winter swim leagues. I still would place in my two main events, 50-meter fly and free. In relay's I was always the fly girl. Maybe I was the only kid that didn't look like they were drowning while doing butterfly. Once I turned 14, swimming wasn't interesting or cool anymore. I never swam on a team again.

    I was thinking a lot about it while I was doing my 1800 swim last night. I started doing flip-turns again this week. It seems more tiring to do flip turns, maybe from holding your breath. Next year at MAP, the first triathlon I did this year, I want to swim the 500 doing flip-turns. It's been over 15 years since I've raced that way, scary!

    Most of all, I am thankful for my parents for making me learn how to swim when I was so young. I truly feel for the triathletes that are just learning how to swim as adults. I'm sure it's very scary to look at a lake and not feel comfortable with your swim skills. Swimming isn't like running or biking. If you don't run or bike well, you won't choke to death. I think swimming is probably the most difficult leg to master. I'm thankful it's been my strongest discipline but I started out as a toofless, baby Sea Hawk many years ago.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2006

    Some Funny Pictures From Pee Dee Race

    Before I started farming, I would foster rescued Dobermans. Most of these dogs were gentle and just needed some unconditional love. Once, we got a female named Abby that was hard-core. She wanted through the door first, she would steal other dogs food or toys and she would pee like Monty. Yes, that is right. Abby could lift her leg and piss like a male. If Monty marked a spot, she'd have to pee over it. Like, "Whatever Monty, it really is mine."

    When I uploaded this picture, it reminded me of Abby. I look like a dominant bitch marking Falcor. Mine! I swear, I don't have any good pictures of me on the bike.

    I seriously would have paid for someone to get a picture of me crashing when I was stuck in the clips. Now that would be funny! My husband was running to the rescue during the crash. He managed to get this picture after he hit me in the dome piece with the aero bars. Notice how my sunglasses are all cattywhompus? At least I can laugh at myself. Hope you do too!

    Tuesday, July 25, 2006

    So Long First Place Finishes

    I have decided to finish my first year of triathlon racing with a bust. I have two Olympic races left, Bandit's Challenge and Pinehurst. I wrote the race director a few nights ago and asked if I could be moved from novice to age group. I got a reply this morning that I would be switched over and I'll race my last races in 2006 will be in the real triathlon world.

    North Carolina has so many talented, tough, competitive men and women triathletes. Maybe it's because we can train all year due to mild winters. I just know I'm in for an ass kicking racing triathlons in NC until I turn 50. Or until I can have a runner's legs' transplant which will make me faster.

    I know some will say, it's not about winning. It was fun to win though. It's my nature and drive to want to win. It gave me a high for a few hours. I saw the pride my family had when they'd call my name for my award. All good things must come to an end. It's time to say so long novice Mojo.

    I read this quote by Marian Wright Edelman,
    "You're not obligated to win. You're obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day."

    Today, I was feeling tired after lifting weights and doing the elliptical at the gym with my Mom. When she left, I seriously considered leaving and not doing my 1700 yard swim. I knew I wouldn't be doing the best thing if I ditched the swim, I'd just be cheating myself. I went and put my swim suit on and jumped in the water.

    I had to do 10 x 100 sprints/60 second rest. Around number eight, I thought again about quitting and starting the cool down. I know all those age group winners complete their workouts, you can't win by slacking on workouts. I sucked it up and did an extra 100 for good measure. If I ever want to place in age group, I'll have to trainer harder, become faster and mentally stronger.

    I do have doubts though when I look at the top women's run times. I am highly skeptical I could ever keep a 7:30 5k pace, no matter how much I train. I look back at myself this time last year, I couldn't run one mile without stopping to walk. I couldn't swim 100 meters without gasping for breath at the wall. I didn't even own a bike. Maybe my short, slow twitch legs will surprise me. Maybe they'll be able to carry me through a 21 minute 5k this time next year. I love a challenge, so I keep trying until I succeed.

    Monday, July 24, 2006

    Try It, You'll Like It!

    Since I had been on vacation for a week, I had culinary withdrawal. I found some recipes yesterday morning for a Mexican fiesta feast. The recipes looked so scrumpdiddlydumpcious, I'll share them with my fellow bloggers. Maybe you'll also appreciate how long it took me to prepare three dishes.

    Mexican Taqueria style Carne Asada Tacos

    3 pounds flank steak
    1/3 cup white vinegar
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    4 cloves garlic, minced
    2 limes, juiced
    1/2 cup olive oil
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon ground white pepper
    1 teaspoon garlic powder
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1 teaspoon paprika

    1 white onion, chopped
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    1 lime, juiced

    2 large tomatoes, chopped
    2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
    1 white onion, quartered
    4 cloves garlic, peeled
    2 dried New Mexico chile pods
    1 pinch salt and pepper to taste

    1 (32 ounce) package corn tortillas
    2 cups grated cotija cheese (optional)
    2 limes, cut into wedges

    Lay the flank steak in a large glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, soy sauce, 4 cloves of garlic, juice of two limes, and olive oil. Season with salt, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder, chili powder, oregano, cumin and paprika. Whisk until well blended, then pour over the steak in the dish. Turn over once to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and marinate for 1 to 8 hours.

    In a small bowl, stir together 1 chopped white onion, cilantro, and the juice of 1 lime. Set aside to use as a relish for the tacos.

    Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Toast chile pods in the skillet for a few minutes, then remove to a bowl of water to soak for about 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).

    Place the tomatoes, 1 onion, jalapenos, and 4 cloves of garlic onto a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until toasted but not burnt. Place the roasted vegetables, and soaked chile pods into a blender or food processor, along with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth.
    Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cut the marinated flank steak into cubes or strips. Cook, stirring constantly, until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has evaporated.

    Warm the tortillas in a skillet for about a minute on each side to make them pliable. Tortillas may also be warmed in a microwave oven. Arrange two or three tortillas on a plate, and lay a generous amount of beef over them. Top with a sprinkle of the onion relish and a large spoonful of the pureed salsa. Add as much cheese as you like. Garnish with lime wedges, and serve.

    Mexican Rice

    1 cup long grain white rice
    1 tablespoon vegetable oil
    1 1/2 cups chicken broth
    1/2 onion, finely chopped
    1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
    1 fresh jalapeno pepper, chopped
    1 tomato, seeded and chopped
    1 cube chicken bouillon
    salt and pepper to taste
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    1 clove garlic, halved

    In a medium sauce pan, cook rice in oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Pour in chicken broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in onion, green pepper, jalapeno, and diced tomato. Season with bouillon cube, salt and pepper, cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes.

    Drunken Beans

    1 pound dried pinto beans, washed
    2 quarts chicken stock
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
    1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle dark beer
    2 (14.5 ounce) cans chopped stewed tomatoes
    1 white onion, diced
    1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers
    6 cloves garlic, chopped
    3 bay leaves
    1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
    1 1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro


    Soak beans in a large pot of water overnight.
    Drain beans, and refill the pot with chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans with 2 inches of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Stir the beans occasionally through out the entire cooking process to make sure they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.
    Stir beer, tomatoes, onion, jalapeno peppers, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, and cilantro into the beans. Continue to cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until beans are tender.
    With a potato masher, crush the beans slightly to thicken the bean liquid. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.

    With my shopping list made out, I headed to the park for an 11 mile run. After the run, I planned to go grocery shopping. Since we live 15 miles from town, I try to train/go to the gym and then run errands to save gas.

    Yesterday was a wonderful day for a long run. It was cloudy and although it was humid, the high didn't reach 90 degrees. It seemed cool after last week's highs of 100. It was looking like rain and around mile 9, it starting to fall from the sky. I was determined to finish my run so I ran in the rain. It felt good because I was hot and sweaty, I felt like a kid running in a sprinkler. I didn't give it a second thought until I got into the van and saw my shopping list.

    I was soaked. I looked like a drowned rat with two dreadlocks. When I run with my headphones on, my hair somehow gets all tangled around the headphone sides to form to dreadlocks above my ears. I looked in the rear view mirror and I had little gnats suck on my face, arms and chest. My top was dripping, thank God it wasn't white. My running shorts looked like they were glued to me. I was a sight to behold and my gym bag contain a dreadlock detangler and dry clothes was at home. I had a good idea though. My husband got off work around this time. If he was driving home, maybe he'd give me the shirt off his back.

    I called my husband at work. No answer. I called his cell phone. Still no answer. I called home and Snaggle answered.

    "Hey Snag. Is your Dad home?"

    "No why?"

    "Because I ran my last two miles in the rain, I'm soaked and need to go to the grocery store."

    "Why can't you go to the grocery store if you were rained on?" Snaggle asked

    "Because when I have to walk through the produce and frozen food section, I'll have major THO. My shorts are stuck to my thighs. I have gnats covering me like freckles. I look like a homeless person that ran to the store in the rain because I can't afford a cab. I was going to see if your Dad would let me borrow his shirt if he was on his way home."

    Snaggle thought I was funny. I decided to head to the Hispanic grocery store with dripping wet clothes. I pretended like I was on Supermarket Sweep, I have never ran through a grocery store so fast in my entire life. I tried to keep my purse close to my chest when I passed the chilly sections.

    I came home, stripped off my clothes and started to prepare my fiesta. I chopped lots of onions, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro. I grilled the beef I had marinated for hours. I made homemade salsa, I even had to break out the blender. I made a simple box of Betty Crocker brownies for dessert.

    I assembled the meal that was a labor of love. Warm tortillas, filled with beef. I even brought the true Mexican cheese, cotija. I called my husband in to admire my creation.

    "Is it spicy?" were the first words out of his mouth.

    I cut the jalepenos in half because my husband is a spice sissy. I love hot and spicy food. Maybe because I was born in the year of the dragon, I don't know. When I go to the Thai place they always ask "How Hot?". I tell them I like very hot food. They always like to make sure by asking "Fire hot?" Yeah, sure, make me a fire breathing dragon.

    Once after my fire hot Thai dinner, I gave my husband a wet, sloppy kiss. He acted like I killed him. He was running around screaming his mouth was burning, his eyes were watering. He drank a gallon of water and was still whimpering like I'd blistered his mouth. You understand about him being a spice sissy now, right?

    He took a bite of the rice and beans I'd slaved over and spit it out like I'd poisoned him. He refused to eat anything except the beef. Same with Snaggle. All that work and preparation and I was the only one that would eat it. Fine, I packed some up for bike shop friends that aren't afraid of hotness.

    Remember those Betty Crocker brownies that took me five minutes to prepare? This is what I found when I woke up this morning.

    They almost ate them all but wouldn't touch my food with a ten foot pole. I think I need to be less complicated. Stop thinking outside the box.

    Friday, July 21, 2006

    Tri The Pee-Dee Race Report

    Did you miss me and my endless blog of blabber? I decided to stay at the beach house for an extra two days. I didn't train too much but ate and drank to make up for it. It was a lot of fun but I'm ready to get back to real life and training.

    I was gone from the farm for a week,and most of the animals survived. A few baby chicks got out and were eaten by a 'coon or other violent predator. The goat-sitter hates me because it took her over 3 hours to catch Maple to milk her one morning. My dairy goats are funny that way. They only want me to squeeze their teats.

    The race was an adventure. I'm not sure what it is about the bike portions of the Tri races in South Carolina. This was the second I have done, the first was Cheraw. Both have some bad biking surfaces for tri- bikes. I brought Falcor because I know the low country is flat, I wanted to really fly with him. When we drove to the race site after packet pick-up, I thought it was a joke. The first mile out and back was a sand road. It was the beach !(I could build a sand castle in this shit) The lake was clear and beautiful, my sister was really excited about it. I think we raced on someone's private property. They had a beautiful, large white house. Most all of the races in NC have good bike courses. I'm not sure why it varies so much state to state.

    My Mom, sister and I arrived around 7am. We decided to try riding down the sand road pre-race. It was difficult, especially if you hit the thick sand. Falcor acted real squirrelly in the sand. I was worried about Val in the sand with her new bike and clips. I knew I wouldn't be riding very fast for the first and last mile. My husband arrived after our pre-race sand ride. He's so sweet, he woke up at 4:30am and drove to SC to see me race. He's my biggest fan, I tell you!

    Val bought me the new tri suit I was wearing for this race. I told her I didn't want a one piece because I think they are difficult to take off. When we stood in the line for the port-a-potty's, I started getting nervous. I hate getting into those portable pee and poop cubicles. I am always drawn into peering down into the port-a-potty hole of feces. Yes, yes, I know I shouldn't look. I just can't help myself. Then, I'll start dry heaving as I stare at the different colored and shaped turds, it's like a train wreck. I come out of the port-a-potty's with a red face and watery eyes from gagging. I got out of my pothole and Val was still in line.

    "Did you pee or poop? You pooped that fast?" she inquired as she passed me.

    "Hell ya! I can't waste anytime in that environment, the gagging wears me out."

    I asked Val if it was hard to keep her zip-up one piece tri-suit from touching the poop germs on the port-a-potty floor. She told me to "Shut-up!" and we went to get ready for the swim.

    Of all the events, the swim was the leg I feared the most while racing against my sister. She has always been a great swimmer. She swam in high school. My goal was to keep her in sight during the swim. I'd try to make up time on the bike.

    The novice men and women started together. The men seemed pretty aggressive this race start. It's been the first time I was punched, kicked and swam on top of during a race start. Women just aren't as violent. I have been know to stop during the swim and say "sorry" when I smack someone.

    Val and I ran into the water together but I decided not to be abused and let people pummel me. I dropped back and went to the inside left. About 200 yards into the race, the Mark Spitz novice men triathletes' that were caving my dome in the first 25 meters were now doing the breast stroke. "All that pounding I received for nothing," I thought as I passed them. After dodging them, I could spot Val ahead of me in her new purple tri suit.

    I came out of the water one second behind Val with a swim split of 13:38 for 700 meters. You can see me running up that bank right on her skinny booty. I know she made me swim harder than I probably ever had during a race. She also made me have super fast transitions. T1 was 1:05.

    I was out of the transition area on the bike before Val. She said she could see me for the first mile, down the sand dune alley. Once I made the turn to pavement and got into my aero bars, she lost me.

    I felt really good on the bike course and I tried to keep my Cats-eye at 20mph during the race. Beside the sand road, the course was fast and flat, Falcor was really flying!

    When I rode into the transition area, I was feeling happy and confident. Approaching the dismount line, I tried to un-clip but I was stuck. I tried again and nothing, I was locked in. I starting to get scared and was searching the crowd for my husband.

    "Honey, Help Me, Help Me, I'm stuck in my clips." I yelled and nobody came.

    Volunteers and spectators were yelling, "Dismount! Dismount! Stop! The transition area is over here!"

    I was running out of sand dune road and was about to take down the flags for the run course. I yelled out to anyone, someone, everyone,

    I felt like everything was happening in slow motion. Everyone was staring but not moving. I knew I was going to go down, I decided against taking out the run course flags at that moment. I braked, Falcor and I went falling to our right sides. I had my first crash during a race, in front of a lot of people. Once I did finally fall, a woman runs over and tries to help. Better late than never, I guess.

    My feet were still stuck in the clips after the crash. The lady is asking what to do when my husband come sliding to my rescue like a short-stop ball player. I think he almost shoved the poor woman to the side. It all happened real fast during those moments. He unstrapped my foot out of my shoe, yanks the bike up, hits me in the head with the handle bars and tells me to hurry. I run into T2 with one shoe on and one shoe off. The right side of my body was coated in sand because I was so sweaty when I fell. The temperature was 97 in Florence on Saturday. My knee burned but I had my best transition time ever, T2- 0:43 I found out later that sand had gotten wedged in my clips and locked my pedals to my clips.

    My bike and humiliating crash(Poor Falcor, he wanted to disown me for tarnishing his reputation) time: 49:38

    By the time I got to the run, I was roasting and feeling a little battered. It was three loops on the sand around the lake. It helped that I could pace myself by running laps but my run time was still poor. I never feel fast in the heat, I feel like my face is on fire, my blood is boiling and I'll blow a valve. My track workouts don't seem to be helping. Run time : 25:45

    My final time- 1:30:48
    Val's final time- 1:35:11

    We came in first and second novice! How cool is that? We couldn't ask for a better race. We won these caps! They are the nice mesh material, they have 1st and 2nd sewn into the sides.

    My sister is good though, the bike and transitions saved me. She doesn't have as much time to train as I do but if she finds a babysitter, she'll kick my ass!

    Thursday, July 13, 2006

    Chubby Chaffed Thigh and Carton of Kitties

    Yesterday night, I did a track workout. Ever since I started these track workouts and running faster, I have had chafing issues. Maybe my inner thigh fat doesn't like to jiggle faster than 8 minute miles. It's only on my left thigh. Can my left thigh be fatter than my right? I felt the seam of my shorts rubbing it last night but I kept running. I looked at my inner thigh when I was done and it was bleeding.

    When I got home I thought I should use a Noxema face pad to cleanse the wound. Bad choice, because then I had a burning, raw left thigh. I saw flames. I need to go to some thrift shops and find some spandex shorts or something. Maybe I should be like fat bottomed girl and run in my bikini.

    I sleep on my side and this morning when I woke up, my thighs were stuck together. The chafing was oozing during the night and acted like glue. When I went to run errands today, I wore jean shorts. I ended up walking around like I had poo-poo pants because the jeans were rubbing my chubby thigh. My husband came home from work while I was cleaning house and found me wearing this outfit.

    He was hysterical. I found a pair of his silk boxers to wear but they kept falling down. Since I am a genius, I used a hair elastic to tighten them around my waist. They are the most comfortable shorts I have worn in days!

    Well, I better finish packing. My Mom and I are leaving for the race in SC tomorrow. We'll meet my sister in Florence. After the race, we are all heading to Pawley's Island, SC for a beach vacation. I'll be back with a race report Wednesday. Have a great weekend!

    I'll miss the pussy boys, they are lots of fun now!

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    My Sister is Supposed to Love Me, Not Beat Me!

    I've spent Monday and Tuesday with my sister. We went on bike rides both days. The first day, we rode in my Mom's gated golf community. I wanted my sister to get comfortable in her clips and new shoes, without dogs and speeding rednecks with big wheel pick-up trucks. I didn't want her to fall and hurt herself. I was showing sisterly love.

    Yesterday, we went on a ride in my neighborhood. I live in the couuuuntry! I warned her about the dogs. I told her to just stop and unclip right away if a dogs comes after us. We drive down my road and I warn her about this little Jacked-UP Russell Terror about 500 yards ahead. He comes yipping out and chasing Val's rear tire. I scream, "NOOOO! You little fuckin' BASTARD! NOOOO!"

    Val was cracking up. Everyone that rides with me knows I will colorfully yell at the dogs. Most of the time it works. I try to sound like a crazed drill instructor. I was protecting my sister.

    Do you know what my sister told me last night while we ate at my favorite Mexican restaurant? That she is competitive and wants to beat me, she tries to beat her husband too. She is excited to race and will probably be so nervous she won't sleep much Friday night. Then I remembered, the entire time we had been riding the last two days, she had been glued to my rear tire.

    I'm starting to get concerned. This was the same sister that would hold pillows over my face and I'd have a suffocation melt down. She would hold my legs behind my head like I was pretzel girl. It would make my lungs feel collapsed and I couldn't breathe. (ahhh..sisterly love!!)

    I could never physically give my sister a whomping so I would come up with mental punishment. Like the few months the Jehovah Witness would come to our house. I would answer the door and tell them my sister had been waiting for them, have a seat in the living room. Then I'd call down to her room, "Val your friends are here to see you!" She would have to spend at least 15 minutes with them if I had them seated.
    She would pummel me for that shit!

    Oh yeah, this is the first race my Mom will be attending too. Maybe with all this sibling rivalry, I'll make some personal records. We shall see, we shall see.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Surprise! Surprise!

    I have been holding out for almost two months on a big surprise! I deserve a reward.. I shocked myself because I have a big mouth. I talked my Mom into buying a tri bike for my sister Val.(Don and I bought the Cat's Eye and water bottles) My Mom deserves major props for her generous nature!

    My sister did her last tri with a bike from 1996, no clips. She came in 5th place age group in the Lurray, VA Tri a few months ago. I know she'll rock with this new Fuji Aloha. She has natural talent, I know it!

    My sister is a wonderful person. She decided to quit her job to stay at home with her kids. You can tell because they mind well, you can take them to fancy restaurants! We went to Brasa last night after we picked them up at the train station in Raleigh. Her kids happily peeled and dined on shrimp.

    She doesn't expect things and makes sacrifices. She's a giving person, she's decided to be with her kids and go back to work when her little boy enters school. She thought my Mom and I were buying her only shoes and clips for her old Trek Fast Trac. Little did she know. She was afraid to take the bike outside to try the clips/shoes because she didn't want to wreck and scratch it.

    When my Mom said "Happy Birthday! This is your bike!", my sister broke into tears. It was a beautiful moment I will always remember. The moment with emotional overload takes someone over, I love it! (Thanks to bike shop friends for helping make it happen)

    There are moments in life you will never forget. Today was one of those days. Her face when she realized it was hers and the reaction. Knowing that she feels like she deserves that bike. I swear, almost everyone in the bike shop was crying. I am so happy for her but I hope she doesn't beat me this weekend. She kept on my tail the entire time we rode this afternoon. We are doing our first tri together in SC this Saturday! How cool is that? :)

    Oh yeah, I love my Mom. How can you resist a green M&M with long eyelashes?

    Friday, July 07, 2006

    Full of Sweat and Stink Now

    I got home from vacation and tackled some farm chores. I did the 50k Firecracker ride in Cary and didn't wreck. I did a track workout in cotton shorts and got inner thigh chafing.

    I cleaned out the baby chick pens.
    I got lots of dust up my schnoze.

    Then,I decided we should tackle the goat barn. Because the flies are as thick as thugs. The fly population is inconceivable this year. I think our winter was too warm. At that bike race in Cary, there were flies on the cookies. I didn't feel so bad, even Cary has flies.

    I don't know which idiot said goats will eat anything, they don't know the goaties!
    They are picky, stubborn animals!Our goats will not eat "dirty" hay that touches the ground and is stepped on. This leads to a 20 tractor bucket loads of wasted hay in a few months.

    We scooped and cleaned up crap today but we accomplished a dirty, back muscle building job.
    It was a cooler and it was much easier to do it without dying from heat stroke. Dumbass me weight trained my biceps and back today though. I'll pay tomorrow.

    My goats are extremely wasteful. I think I need to send them to a starving, 3rd world country. After one hour of a full rack of hay, this is what is left. They only eat the tops of the oats, and leave the stems on the ground to build up over time....then WE have to scoop it up pitch it!

    I feel like I clean and feed the humans' and beasts' all time. I think I would make an excellent maid. I could get paid a lot for this if I went full time. I can deal with the never-ending cleaning and feeding battle.

    I have this awful thigh chafing though. Is it because I ate too much ice-cream during my vacation?

    The warm fuzzy I had this week..
    I made Chai tea soap for this lady.It has been curing for about 4 weeks. I called her today to tell her it was ready. She was so excited, it is her favorite soap. She came over right away and bought the whole log!
    70 dollars worth.

    I didn't have to print or wrap anything!

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    I'm back.... And full of Piss and Vinegar

    I had a great weekend! It was the first time the family has been together for long time. Since the oldest boys have been in the Marines, it's harder and harder to get good family pictures. Most of all, we had good times and made lasting memories.

    I watched people struggle with water sports. Then conquer and get up with smiling faces. They'd climb up the ladder with pride. I laughed a lot, especially on the boat. I ate wonderful food and was well fed by my mother in law. I didn't train and it didn't kill me. I got my hair done today by Becky and I look like a baby T-Rex. I missed my animals, my home and my rountine(In that order). Waking up at 6am to bike in the morning doesn't sound as fun tonight. I have to decide by 8am if I want to do the 50 or 100k "Firecracker" ride in Cary tomorrow morning...

    Some slide-show highlights..
    Nick and Joy catching air in the tube, these two were tough! They were the best tube riders.
    Nick's face right before crashing on the kneeboard.
    Lucy's life vest's straps.
    Snaggles scissor legs while mounting the knee board.
    Monty pouting and refusing to look at the camera because I went
    on vacation for a few days.

    Fun times, I tell you.

    Upload photos at Bolt.

    Sunday, July 02, 2006

    Farm Pit Stop

    We went to White Lake on Friday morning for a mini vacation. We had to come home this morning. I had to milk the goats (I'm trying to dry them off) and Don had some business. We are going to back to the lake in about an hour until Monday night.

    Just you wait my little pretty's. I am going to have some good pictures of a southern campground. It's beer, golf cart and confederate flag city. They can even line dance to rap music!

    I am a knee boarding natural. I may struggle with water skiing but so far, I am the only one that can knee board. Not even my coach of a husband! :) He has been calling me "hotdog" because I'm now doing turns and jumping over the boats' wake.

    I did swim in the lake but haven't run or biked for two days. I guess there is more to life other than training. I'm trying to learn how to relax.

    Hope you have a great 4th Of July, full of laughs, food and fireworks!