Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Race Report: Black Diamond Long Course Triathlon

Wayne and the kids decided not to come with me this time, the weather looked too dicey for camping and we've had a really busy few weeks. So it was just me, myself, and NPR toodling up the freeway. Getting to listen to several hours of uninterrupted NPR and music is a joy in and of itself:  an open treasury, from programs on the Nile river to interviews with Wall Street tycoons, it's like an Ironman for your mind.

Arriving in Washington, I was struck by the fact that it was Fall with a capital "F". Back home in Orygun, there's a few leaves drifting off of the trees and temperatures are still in the 80's. But here there were great drifts of leaves on the ground, crunching piles underfoot. All was gold and red in the hills and the evening air had a serious briskness about it. Luckily, the forecast for race day was clear skies and a high of 72.

The transition area was open for check-in in the afternoon/evening, so I unloaded my bike and covered it against the dew with my handy trash bags (if you've ever wondered why they're on my triathlon checklist, this is only one of many reasons!). All around me, triathletes were debating the possible weather combinations for race morning, and what to wear. In some areas of the country and at some times of the year, that's not really much of an issue. But fall in Western Washington for a race as long as a half-Iron distance, and you really have to think about how cold, wet, or overheated you want to be. I've worn a rainjacket in this race before, and I've gone without. This time I brought arm warmers and a waterproof vest, just to cover all of my bases, but I wasn't sure yet what I would be putting on in the race.

Race morning dawned very chilly, so I laid out the transition area with my arm warmers as an option. I met Teresa, a fellow Eugenean there, someone I had just talked with in the pool the other day and started getting to know. She's such a positive person, it was great fun to see her there. She had a Queen Jane water bottle, and I commented on it, which sent us both into a round of tears and hugs. Although it's been almost five years since we lost friend, mentor, and uber-triathlete Jane Higdon from our midst, sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes I still can't believe she's gone. She would be just there (probably telling us to stop whining about the weather and get going already), racking up her bike and getting ready to put some serious speed onto the course. Theresa and I headed out on our bikes to warm up together (warm up being the operative word, it was very very chilly!), and then crawled into wetsuits and headed toward the water.

SWIM: 29:57  (Goal: under :30)

Brrrrrrrrr! The water felt chilly. Much colder than last year. My thermometer the evening before the race said 59 degrees. But the small lake was beautiful in the morning sunlight with all of the fall colors in the trees around. Soon enough the waves of men were launched and we women were swimming for the first buoy. I set in a steady pace and enjoyed the swim. Caught up to the first of the men at the 2nd buoy and from there on out it was a bit of dodge'em but otherwise uneventful. I think this swim is always a bit longer than others, but that's okay by me. I was happy to come in under 30 minutes.

T1: 2:34  (-21 seconds from last year)

In T1 I decided I didn't need the arm warmers after all, just put on my helmet and biking shoes and off I went. I had hoped to shave some time off of my transitions this year, and ended up shaving off about 20 seconds from T1, so that's a good start!

BIKE: 2:50:12  (Goal: 2:51 or better)

This is such a nice bike course, you really can't help but enjoy yourself. The hills are mostly rolling, the fall foliage is lovely, and in the bottom part of the course you are treated to some really stupendous views of Mt. Rainier. Still, my first loop on the course, my muscles felt tight and sore. I think because it was just so damned cold. Coming out wet from a 59 degree lake into 40-something degree air and adding in the wind chill of the bike, I felt like it took my legs a long time to get warm. It wasn't until the second loop that I really started to feel like I was in my groove.  The other monkeywrench in the day was that I had to stop and use the porta-potty for some womanly issues. Bad timing of the month! I've never had that coincide on a half-Iron before, so that kinda sucked. Still, I knew I was the second woman out onto the bike course from the swim, and only one woman passed me in the 56 miles (and she rocketed on to a 4:54 finish time), so I was feeling pretty good about my bike split overall. My split was over 3 minutes faster than last year. Not bad! I felt really good about staying on my nutrition plan too, checking my watch to take in a gel or part of  a bar every 20 minutes. I went into the run feeling like I had plenty of energy.

T2: 1:55 (+5 seconds from last year)

I have no idea how my T2 managed to actually be slower than last year. I didn't even change socks this time! This one's a mystery.

RUN: 2:12:12 (Goal: 2:05)

The run felt pretty good. I hit my goal paces for most of the first 8 miles (9:15 - 9:45). It did start to get pretty hot (comparatively) on the run. Not a lot of shade and although it only topped out at 78 degrees, that felt unusually warm after the cold morning. I definitely regretted wearing a black shirt!! I kept up with my nutrition plan though, and felt really good energy-wise through the run course. I had to use the porta-potty again and this time I had to wait for someone else to get out (it was either that or wait another 2 miles to use the next one: Not An Option). The run time on my watch says 2:09:47 (I paused it during the stop), so although I didn't hit my goal of 2:05, that's the fastest HIM run I've done in the last 15 years. At the end of the run my legs started cramping up somewhat. I was not alone as it seems like a LOT of athletes had leg cramps, more than the normal "walking wounded" of the last few miles of a 70.3. Lots of athletes in the massage tent afterwards too, some of them with screaming knots in their legs. I think it might've been the combo of a very cold morning (biking hard to warm up with legs that were too cold and stiff), possibly not drinking enough early on (harder to make yourself drink when it's cold), and then the weather turning warmer quickly. Luckily, mine didn't seize up at all, just got a little stiff.  After walking around for a few minutes I got back to the finish line just in time to cheer in Teresa who won her age group!

OVERALL: 5:36:50  4th in AG, 12th OA Woman

This is a PKPR for me at the distance (that stands for post-kids PR, so it's my fastest HIM in the last 15 years). It was also a PKPR in each of the three disciplines for this distance, so I'm very happy with that. I was a little disappointed that I couldn't pull in a faster run time. My biking has gotten much much better in the last few years, but running continues to be my big limiter. If I had the money, a run coach would be in my future for sure! Still, I am extremely happy to still be able to chip away at my times and to find little ways to improve my performance. As always, this is a beautiful race with some very amiable triathletes in a lovely little corner of the earth. I got to make a new friend in the sport, and share some memories of an old friend who is gone. I got to be reminded of how good it is to be alive and have a body that can do such amazing things.

That's a good way to end the season!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Back from the Black Diamond Triathlon

I'll post a full race report later, but I'm back at home from the Black Diamond half-Iron distance tri, and had a terrific time. It rained the day before and the day after, but it was beautiful weather for the race day. How lucky is that? I posted my fastest half-Iron time in the last fifteen years at 5:36:50, so I'm very happy with that!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Feeling Strong, Feeling Ready

I got to spend some time this week getting to know JulieJulie from the Chubby Mommy Running Club (from whom I've shamelessly stolen this photo). She's an energetic mom, social media expert, blogger, organizer and only semi-reluctant runner who is currently considering possibly giving some thought to maybe doing a triathlon next year.... and even letting me coach her through the process!  Whenever I meet with a new athlete, the first thing I start formulating in my mind is a plan that works for them. That means thinking about what might motivate them, how a plan will fit with their life, and what things might detract from being able to complete their plan.

As self-coached athletes, how many of us fail to have a plan? I know I've spent many years doing just that. You all know I'm married to an ex-Army sergeant right? And they have this saying about " "Failure to plan is planning to fail." I'm not sure I would categorize any of my years in the sport or my triathlons as "failures" per say because I love it too much to think about it in such narrow terms. But I do know that for many years I did not perform according to my potential. Now in my mid-40's, my potential may come to a point where it's limited more by age than by training, but at least I know that with better planning I'm reaching closer to that potential than ever. At least I hope so.

This year I think I've done everything right. My nutrition has been great, I've been sleeping 7 - 8 hours most nights, I built strength through the winter and even persevered through a broken bone and injured joint to come out strong on the other side. I created a training plan for my half-Iron and although my crazy life with kids, dogs, chickens, robotics, homeschooling, teaching, coaching, etc. has inevitably gotten in the way more than once, I've stuck to the plan reasonably well. Now I've tapered, am packing my bags, and tomorrow I'll drive to Washington for the 3rd time's a charm try at the Black Diamond Half Ironman distance race. Last year was marred by an experimental training plan gone badly awry. Although my race performance was still reasonable, it didn't feel optimal. Two years before that, I felt terrific until I missed taking my nutrition on the run course and gave myself the Bonk from Hell.  All lessons taken to heart.

My goals this year:
- Sub-30:00 swim: Might it be possible, given my strong swim performances in all races this year, despite broken arm recovery?
- 2:51 or better on the bike: This would be 2 minutes faster than last year, a reasonable improvement.
- 2:05 on the run: This is the biggest stretch of all, it would mean a 5-minute PR on the HIM run. I've put in some good long runs on hills and trails this season. Will it pay off? Pacing is key here.
- 30 seconds off of my total T1 + T2. I have always changed socks in T2, I think I'm going to give that a miss this time and see what happens.

if I can do all of that, I can come in sub 5:39, which is my post-kids PR time. If I can really nail all of it, I can hopefully close in on a sub-5:30 time which is a goal I'd like to hit.

So what can I do this year? Stay tuned and find out!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I'm Not Sure if That Was the Way to Taper

So I've read plenty on tapering, and even written up a Tapering Guide myself. You'd think I'd be smart enough to follow it, right?

I spent my last week in Reno, in a very very nice VIP tent provided by Dassault (makers of the wonderful Falcon jets), eating from really tasty buffets. They even brought in a Haagen-Dazs ice cream cart every afternoon just chock full of goodies, and I cannot tell a lie... I didn't stop at just one Haagen-Dazs bar a day.

So let's see, who tapers by training almost not at all and overeating sinfully rich desserts? Well, that would be me. Okay, I did go running, and I did do laps in that ridiculous hotel pool. And maybe if I'm really lucky, the altitude of 5,000 feet gave me a little burst of the altitude training that elite athletes do and will hand me a few more red blood cells for race day.

But other than that, this is what I spent my week doing: eating, enjoying the hotel hot tub, and watching really really really fast cool old airplanes fly twenty feet overhead doing five hundred miles and hour. It may have messed up my taper, and I guess I'll know how much come race day. But just hearing the roar of the engines on planes like this Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was well worth it.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fitting It In, Hotel Pool Style

We just got back from the Reno Air Races, a fantastic experience (can you beat sitting out at the pylons while planes like Corsairs, twin-engined Hellcats, and P-51 Mustangs zoom just over your head at near 500 mph???)! While in Reno, we went running a couple of times in the very early morning before heading out to the races. The air was quite chilly and the altitude was definitely a factor (almost a mile high, wheeze, wheeze), and the strip of casinos isn't a running route I would normally pick. Without my bike, I tried to fit in my workouts as best as I could. Of course I didn't want to go five days without swimming, so you know what that means.....

The Hotel Pool (cue dramatic music).

You've probably been there before: traveling for business or with your family, wanting to squeeze in a swim workout, faced with The Hotel Pool. Maybe it's kidney shaped, or round, maybe it's only three feet deep, maybe it has a staircase that spans one end, preventing turns. It's always a challenge. This one was at least rectangular in shape (that's a bonus), and the staircase didn't reach ALL the way across, leaving me a narrow strip of wall on which to turn (I'll count that in the "plus" category too), plus it was saltwater (niiiiiiice). But it took me six, count them six strokes to get from one end to the other. This, as you might imagine, made for some very vexing lap swimming.

My motto however is Just Get the Workout In, so laps I did, probably hundreds in all (I didn't count, that would've been too depressing) and after awhile I just found my rhythm, got in the groove, and got the swim done. So instead of looking as bad as it might've with the vacation thrown into the mix, my first week of taper looked rather reasonable. I bookended the time I was gone with bike rides, so I got at least two into the week, three relatively short runs, and three forty-five minute sessions in the 12 yard hotel pool left me with a decent workout schedule for the week. That and all the airplanes I could ever hope to watch!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Worth It After All

We're packing up today to head south to the Reno Air Races tomorrow. It'll be the first time that hubby and I are away from the kids for several days (can you believe it?) and we're picking up my dad along the way to take him with us and celebrate his birthday. You see, my dad's been a pilot for over 50 years, and my earliest memories of airplanes come from our trips to the airport together and flying touch-n-goes in a small plane. When I got my pilot's license, he (very bravely I might add) was one of my first passengers. As I recall, it was a windy day as I was trying to land on the runway at Orcas island and I might've bounced the wheels one or two times along the way, but he was still smiling when he got out. So we share a love of airplanes, and most especially warbirds, that goes back a long time. As hubby is a pilot and a plane nut as well, the three of us are bound to have a great time.

But this does mean that with eleven days to go until my last triathlon of the season, I'll be without my bike for the rest of the week. So I just HAD to squeeze in a ride today. It was late, I had to be at work at 7:15, I had a dance team parents' meeting that went until 6:30, so there was precious little time but I set out anyways. The bike path was under construction, now I had a detour to go around, by the time I hit the country road that I was intending to ride on, I had about twelve minutes left in my ride. Racing the clock and the setting sun. Just enough time to go up and over the one hill at the start of the road and that's about it.

Sometimes in a hectic life, it seems like I have almost, but not quite enough time to get something done. This was one of those days. Sometimes it almost seems not worth it to try and fit something in when what I really wanted to accomplish was longer or more focused. Today, when I got to the top of that hill on the road, feeling just a bit frustrated by my lack of time, I was greeted with the sight of the sun setting over a bend in the river. I never bike on that road so late in the day, so I've never seen it look just that way. Suddenly I began noticing all sorts of different things: the way the air smelled like blackberries warmed by the sun, the fact that I could hear the crickets in the hay fields, the sunset turning the water into molten gold. Being in a familiar place at an unfamiliar time made it all seem new and different, and although the ride was short, it was worth it to go.

Sometimes although we may only have a few minutes to do something, we forget that minutes are all we really have anyways. We let them slip by unnoticed, or we get frustrated. I was lucky today to be reminded to appreciate them no matter what.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Full Circle Relationship Ride

Two weeks out from my half Ironman, we come to the last long bike and run of the season. Mother Nature has obligingly parted with some sunny mid-70's September weather, and hubby decided to accompany me on my long bike ride yesterday. This is a banner year for us, we've come full circle back to a point where we can do things together again. We started our relationship skydiving together, hiking, scuba diving, snowboarding, mountain climbing. Then enter the kids and Screeeeeech... it all comes to a halt for many years. For a long time it's been "can you watch the kids so I can go for a run?", "Okay, but I'd like to go for a bike ride tomorrow". We've traded off. But here we are again, able to go out together. The kids are often busy, at activities and friends' houses, and we have plenty of time to enjoy our sports with each other.

So yesterday it was sixty-five sunny miles up to the lake, along the shore and back. Sharing Clif bars and conversation, just enjoying some time together. Next month it's been eighteen years since we met, and part of the glue that has stuck us together has been these things we love to do. Are there any sweeter words a man could utter than "I think next year when you train for the Ironman, I'll go with you on all of your long rides"??? I think not.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ironman Dream #4 and My Cheap Attempt at Freudian Analysis

The Dream

I am competing in my 2nd Ironman, I'm so excited. The swim has gone very well, I'm through the changing tents in under an hour, right on my goal time. It's obviously Cozumel because I'm on an island with the sea on my right as I'm bicycling along. I go past a lagoon and Asa is swimming there with her friends. But I don't see Wayne anywhere, and I can tell that the tide is coming in and big waves are threatening to wash over the seawall into the lagoon. Any kids in there when that happens will be drug out to sea. I throw my bike down on the side of the road and go get her out of the water. Of course she wants to keep swimming and starts arguing with me (sometimes dreams are SO realistic!) I finally get her to see the danger and move to a safe place, get Wayne on the phone and make sure he's headed over to keep an eye on her. I get back on my bike and start pedaling, noticing that on my watch I've already lost twenty minutes to all of this.

Once I rack my bike and head out on the run course, I'm feeling good. The weather is warm and the glimpses of the ocean are beautiful. My finish time goal has been compromised though and I feel sad about that. I had hoped to be in the running for a Kona slot and I think that might be out of the question now. As I'm running along, I see an athlete on the side of the road. He's having leg cramps and is hollering and curled up in a ball. I know if I stop again, my whole race plan will have gone out the window, but I can't leave him lying there. I stop running. There's no one around. I give him some of my water and electrolytes and move him into the shade. I massage his calf until it unknots and he is able to sit up and drink some more water. I leave the water bottle with him and promise to send help back.

Now the run course takes a strange turn onto some old residential streets. The houses are brightly colored Victorians with peeling paint. It looks a lot like Key West Florida. The run course goes into a house, we have to run upstairs and down these hallways. We do this through multiple big old three-story houses. There are all kinds of things in the way like kids toys, dogs, and the people who live in the houses. I keep saying "excuse me!" and "I'm sorry" every time I am in someone's way. I think what an inconvenience it must be to these people to have all these athletes running through their house. Now I'm at the run turnaround, I see that it's already eleven hours into the race, and I still have half of the marathon to go. Because of all the stairs and the crazy race course, I'm way off the pace I wanted to run. I know I won't finish in under thirteen hours, way slower than my last Ironman. I feel like I've failed all of my goals for the race. I wake up feeling disappointed and sad.

The Cheap Analysis

I know I don't usually start having dreams about a race until I'm a few months or weeks out. I'm guessing I had this dream for two reasons. One is that I do have a half-Ironman coming up in a few weeks, and the Ironman in this dream could be a stand-in for that race. I could be worried about accomplishing my goals for that race. Also, if I'm going to do an Ironman like Cozumel in 2011, I'll have to sign up in a couple of months. I know that if I sign up, I'll be making big sacrifices again in the year to come.

The first thing that will be compromised is some of the time I spend with the kids and my husband. I think the dream shows that I'm worried about putting more of the family burden onto his shoulders again like I did the last time, and that I worry that without my constant care and attention, disaster may strike my family (as if my vigilance alone holds it off, LOL).

The second thing I worry about is that the Ironman is essentially a selfish goal. The man by the side of the road says I will be forced to choose between being selfish (focusing on my own goals) and being selfless and helping others around me. Friends, family, and strangers will be by the side of the road and I will have to choose to put my own goals first and run on by, or to set my goals aside to help them.

The last thing I worry about is disappointing myself and others if I don't fulfill my goals for the race. If I spend all this time, energy, and money training, and then I fall short of what I set out to do, I worry that it will all be for nothing. Of course, I know that the journey is really the destination and all of that, but you can't fool your subconscious and I know my dream is telling me that my goals for the race will be important to me and there's no getting around that.

Well, that's my cheap analysis of the dream. Unlike my friend Jody Mace, a professional writer who draws her own dreams and puts them on Facebook, regularly causing me to spew tea on my monitor (well, Jody is that kind of funny person anyways), I don't dream a lot lately. Some of that may have to do with the half-Ironman training which is reaching its peak this week. Mostly I fall into something akin to a coma when my head hits the pillow. Luckily, I've been getting a steady eight hours lately, which is probably why I finally got to do some dreaming.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Race Report: Scoggins Valley Olympic Triathlon

I bet you've never read a race report that starts like this: I was awakened at 3:00 am by a screaming chicken...

But oh, I'm getting ahead of myself. First off, this race was a last-minute entry to my race calendar. The Olympic race that I had planned on doing (my all-time favorite Black Hills Triathlon) was cancelled due to some bonehead type-A triathlete cussing out some poor old couple in the park that it's held in. So I had to scramble to find another Oly that fit into my shrinking September timeframe. I already have a half-Iron in the last week of the month, so I couldn't put anything too close to that. The Scoggins Valley is a course I've done before (in the sprint and Enduro distances only though, never an Oly distance) so I thought it would be a good one. It's a very hilly and challenging course, but one that suits me. And I've done a LOT of hills this year in training.

Goals for this race: Mostly train through, no taper, use race to dial in transitions, nutrition, pacing, etc. for half-Iron. BUT, I was hoping to do fairly well (I know, conflicting goals there), thinking that a top-5 women's finish was within the realms of possibility. However, in the week before the race, I did a 60 mile bike and a 3-hour trail run, so I knew I would not be on fresh legs.

Okay, back to the screaming chicken. I was camping the week before the race, and we had so much fun up at the lake that we didn't roll back into town until about 8:30 Friday night. Uh Oh. I haven't packed for my Saturday triathlon yet, and it's 120 miles away so I have to leave at 4:30 am. I hurriedly throw my tri gear together and sling it in the car. Since I was home late, I assumed that hubby put the chickens up (it was dark when I got home). Since I was coming home, I guess he thought that I would do it when I got there. That explains why at 3:00 am the chickens were screaming - a raccoon was in the henhouse! Wow, there's nothing like a big shot of adrenaline to boost you out of a deep sleep. After scaring off the raccoon (and sadly dispatching the one chicken he managed to get ahold of), there was no point in going back to bed. So it was eat some breakfast, make tea, and off to the race. In the craziness, I left my Accelerade bottles in the fridge. Luckily I always pack along a ziploc baggie of extra powder, so I just mixed some up at the race course.

SWIM: 21:31
Beautiful day. Promises to be sunny, yet not too hot. The lake is warm, mid-70s. I decide on full-sleeve suit anyways, for speed. One of my goals this year is to lose my trepidation about getting out right in front of the swim pack so I positioned myself front and center, not my usual to-the-side approach. Two women that were fast broke away from the pack and I went with them. Damn, these gals are smokin! I decided to go for it and try for a good swim split, was feeling very froggy. VERY happy with my swim time: 21:31. I think that's a PKPR (post kids PR). The other two women came in just ahead of me and believe it or not the three of us turned in the three fastest swim splits of the day (faster than ALL of the men in the race!)

T1 2:29
Went as planned. Well executed.. Tied for fastest women's T1 split. I'm getting my game down. However, several men went under 2:00. Clearly I could improve!

BIKE  1:19:33
This course is hilly. Nothing but hills. Up. Down. Up. Down. Most of them are rolling so you don't notice a lot of extra effort, but there are a couple of sustained climbs. Two-loop course lets you see it all a second time. My second loop was slightly faster than my first as I became more confident of the course. My goal was not to use my brakes at all. When I did this course in a sprint race, I braked down too many of the hills, making me use more energy going up the next one. Mission accomplished, I hit a tuck on the hills and roared along. I kept it very aerobic and felt strong. My split put me about at a 19 mph average. A bit slower than I want to go at the Half-Iron, but a much hillier course. Also, legs did not feel fresh, which I expected with no taper. I used the course to practice my race nutrition. One gel every half an hour plus Accelerade. Stomach felt great.

During the bike loops, the duathlon and sprint races disgorged all of their athletes onto the course, so there was no real way to tell where I was at in the race. The only data point I had was that no women had passed me, so I knew at a minimum I was in 3rd overall.

T2  1:22

A little slower than I wanted. I had trouble with my right shoelace which popped out of where I had it tucked. Could've saved 15 - 20 seconds here.

RUN  57:25

What can I say, the run is never my strong point. This was however a VERY hilly run. Most of the women's run times were over 50 minutes. So my time is not as slow as it looks :-)  Mostly I just kept it aerobic, wanting to feel like I was training for more of a half-Iron pace. I thought I was well within my goal of still finishing top 5 in the women's race, so I stayed mellow.

That is, until I got to the aid station just before the run turn-around and the volunteers yelled "First Place Woman!!!!" at me. SAY WHAT?? I think I might've run just a teeny bit faster if I'd known that. Cripes! Now all of a sudden I was interested in pace. One gal caught me just after that, a seventeen year old who went on to win the race. She was also the fastest swimmer, a great all-around athlete! After the turnaround, I took a hard look at who was behind me. Looked like five women within 2 - 4 minutes, all within striking range. I picked up the pace for a negative run split and tried to hold them off. One caught me in the last two miles, and I kept the rest at bay for an overall 3rd place women's finish.


I'm very happy with my race as I accomplished both of my goals. I feel like I set myself up to have a good half-Iron by practicing my nutrition and pacing. And I turned in a top-3 finish on a hard course.I was 3:40 behind 1st place and 1:50 behind 2nd place.  I think I could decide to go back to this course in another year and really nail it. My training on the hills payed off as I felt strong and confident, especially on the bike. I've run a lot of hill repeats this year too. That doesn't really look very evident in my run split, but given the fact that my legs were not all tapered and fresh, I'm pretty happy with even my run performance.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Off to Paradise

The rains here have stopped, delaying us only a day. We're off to my favorite place on earth for a few days of camping in heaven. Mountain pine forests, wilderness trails, endless stars at night, and one of the world's clearest lakes to swim in. I've packed my trail running shoes and my wetsuit. The visibility is 100 feet, when you're swimming there it's like swimming in glass.

I wish you all a wonderful week in these last days of summer. Doesn't it seem like you enjoy them more at this time of the year? They're coming to a close, it's bittersweet. You can hear the cricket's mournful song, and feel a tang in the air in the mornings that wasn't there a week or so ago. My heart always pulls me out into nature in September. I know the rains are coming and the seasons will go 'round again.