Monday, June 30, 2008

Waves - again

It's hard to put thoughts into words sometimes.

This spring and now summer hasn't gone exactly the way I planned it in my head. I know I have written in the past about struggling with my workout program. Last winter I thought for sure I would cruising on my bike. Taking all the rides that I did last year and using them as a base, so this summer I would enjoy keeping up with the fast guys.

Life never goes as planned.

Just getting out of bed or getting out of an excuse to go and workout is difficult for me. Although I must say I am enjoying running again. And after Scott called me Friday night and said he was working Saturday morning, I was truly disappointed that I would miss the group swim/run. Thankfully Riley saved the day and came to my rescue by watching my kids. I was able to enjoy (well after 2 calls to Riley) my workout. The swim helped get rid of most of my separation anxiety and by the end of the run I was good.

Saturday night the hubby and I enjoyed a great dinner together. We talked and ate and ate and talked. I even had a Margaretta. We then watched No Country for Old Men. Violent is the best way to describe it. Oddly enough I liked it. Scott hated it. Wanted the bad guy to get it in the end.

Woke up Sunday. Got ready to ride with the group. Pumped my tires. Got my water cup on my bike, bottle in the holder. Wasn't looking forward to riding with the fast guys. Pedaled down my drive way and then the rains came. Turned around, rode back up my drive way and called Dennis. "Sorry, not coming, not riding in the rain." Went back in the house and back to bed. Woke up feeling depressed and really mad at myself for not going.

Caroline and I ended up riding 40 miles around 1:30 p.m. The sky was threatening and sure enough the rains came after about 20 miles of riding. I called Dennis and asked him if he was doing the rain dance so he could make a point that we wouldn't melt while riding out there. He just laughed. He told me how the group rode fast, really fast earlier that day. Part of me felt like I made the right decision but part of me felt like a real wus (is that how you spell wus?) for not trying. Last year I didn't care if the pack broke away from me, so why should I care this year?

Riding has turned into my waves on lake Michigan. I'm on the beach watching. Slowly making my way in.

I gotta stop the excuses and just go.

Monday, June 23, 2008

MetLife Duathlon

Ten Things I Love About the MetLife Duathlon .....

10. It's only 4 miles from my house.

9. The race caps out at 500 people.

8. Plenty of Port a Potties - not a long wait :)

7. Cool Shirt

6. Entry fee is only $30

5. Can always find room in the transition area.

4. Flat, shaded run.

3. Only 2 small hills on the bike

2. All proceeds go to a great cause. Together We Cope

1. The people :)

The MetLife Duathlon took place yesterday. This was the third year I had the privilege of volunteering for the race.

MetLife is pretty grassroots. It relies on donations for food and other things that the athletes need. Why? Because what ever money isn't spent on the race is donated to Together We Cope. Check out there website. This year we had a lot of great organizations help us out. Running for Kicks in Palos, Kohl's not only donated money but also volunteers who completely rocked the packet pick up tent/food tent, Lamdgrebe Chiropractors of Tinley Park , Cardinal Fitness, Body Tech Fitness in Mokena, Vitamin Water, Walgreens, My Bike of Tinley Park There were countless food donations by local grocery stores in the area. It was a great day and a great race.

Thanks to Val and Gil and their entire family. See you guys next year.

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to Make a Marshmallow

On our way home from the lakefront swim/run SI was telling us how he needed marshmallow's but didn't have any. No problem, he just made them ....

1/2 cup cold water
3 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2/3 cups corn syrup
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar

Get a 9×9 inch pan and line it with plastic wrap
Pour some oil on the plastic wrap and spread it all over the wrap with your hands so that the entire piece of plastic is oiled (this is going to keep your mixture from sticking to the plastic).
Get an electric mixer out and put 1/2 cup cold water into the bowl.
Pour the 3 envelopes of gelatin over the water and let it soak for about 10 minutes.
When the mixture has been soaking for about 5 minutes, get a sauce pan out and start combining your 2 cups of granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water and 2/3 cups corn syrup in the sauce pan.
Bring the mixture in the sauce pan to a boil and let it boil for about 1 minute.
Then pour the boiling mixture into the gelatin mixture and start mixing it at high speed. While mixing, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and beat for 10 - 12 minutes.
Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract and mix it into the mixture lightly.
You are now going to scrape the mixture into the 9×9 inch pan lined with oiled plastic. Before you scrape, make sure to oil whatever you are using to scrape it out with. If you decide to use your hands, oil your hands.
Scrape the mixture into your 9×9 inch pan and spread evenly. Cover with another piece of plastic and press the mixture into the pan.
Let the mixture sit for a few hours.
Remove the big piece of mixture from the pan and cover entirely with powdered sugar.
Take some kitchen scissors and cut into squares and cover the pieces with powdered sugar.

Training for IMOO was easier than this. I think I'm going to just buy them.

I was supposed to do HHH 100K this week-end. After a couple of sleepless nights thinking about it I decided to back out. It was painful to call Rick and tell him. He was very understanding. For as unready as I was for the ride, he was that much more prepared. When we signed on for the ride we did agree he would break away if I was holding him back but I know Rick. (He would deny this) But I know he would stick with me. So anyway. Then he slammed with with the question - "Girl, what happened on that swim up in Rockford last week?" I did my best to explain but he wasn't buying it. "Do I need to get out there and build up that confidence?" See, I told ya I got some great, GREAT tribuddies.

One more thing, Happy Belated Father's day. So I'm talking to my father, who lives in Texas. The conversation was pleasant and short. And just like all father's do, mine gives me advise that it's time to stop doing tri's and stop running. "Ya know you're moving on age wise, you've done what you need to do and proven what you need to prove .... " Scott thinks this is the spark I needed to get me moving again. :)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

HE is my Rockman

HE is my Rockman

He brought us to His beautiful forest where we could be at peace; where we could camp near His beautiful lake.
He blessed us with a sprinkling during the night; sleep well my brothers and sisters but let this shower be a prelude of what’s in store for the day ahead.
He was with us as we awoke; He nourished our bodies and filled us with excitement.

We felt Him as we swam; His water was refreshing, His seaweed was His way of providing an additional challenge.

He was with us as we biked; His 60+ mph tailwinds gave us strength as we sped across His land.
Once again, He blessed us…He showered us to keep us cool and to keep us on our toes.
He showed His Rockman strength when He flashed a bolt of lightening across the sky as His way to say; ride swifter my son.

He was with us as we arrived back at transition, when we emptied our running shoes of His waters.
He again showed His Rockman strength when he toppled His large trees onto His running path as if to say; it’s simply another challenge, my sons…keep running.

He was with us at the finish; He greeted us with His cheers, He helped us smile, He helped us cross the line, He proclaimed, well done my children…
for you are now Mightier, Stronger, and Magnificent!

Wow, I wish I could get my mind to put words together like this. Thanks Gil for letting me share it. :)

Monday, June 9, 2008


Dinner at the Erickson's last Tuesday night -

Me - You know I'm signed up to do Rockman 1/2 IM on Sunday.

Scott - You prepared for that? You haven't been doing much. Is there anyone you can race with?

Me - NO, there's no one I can race with. And, no I'm not prepared to race but I am prepared to just finish. The tri-mates are camping the night before, is that ok with you?

Scott - Camping? You camping? ....

And so the choice was made. I would do Rockman.

Saturday Afternoon -

The hubby and kids dropped me off at S.I.'s right around 1:30 p.m. Me, Michelle, Laura and SI packed up the car, hugged our families good bye and we were off.

We are about 3 miles from the state park and packet pick up. The radio starts making that weird high pitched Meep, Meep, Meep -oooooooo. Then - warnings are announced about bad thunderstorms, high winds, hail, and tornado's in the area. Hmmm.

Get to transition. Check in. The sky starts to turn dark and the wind picks up. We rack our bikes. I go to the end. Don't want to interfere with anyone racing. As I'm maneuvering the bike onto the rack I hear this very soft, "Mrs. Erickson". Is someone calling me? Is there another Mrs. Erickson here? Why wouldn't they just call me Pam? So I look up and I see a group of boys standing at the end of transition with their dads. I kind of smile and wave. No one looked familiar. I even did the corny thing of tilting my sunglasses down to get a better look. Then one of the men says, "It's Dr. B...." And an immediate "OH CRAP" rushes around in my head, and almost out my mouth. Luckily I got some kind of pleasantry out and I hear him say, "Ok, see ya in the morning." My mind was RACING. My trimates knew I was just doing this and trying to get the spark back how would I explain this to my kids pediatrician. It took me a while to calm my thoughts. I just reminded myself that it really didn't matter.

Shortly after my anxiety attack we met up with some more tri mates and we were joking (but serious) that we were going to camp on their hotel room floor. We got to the car when the sky opened up and dumped a lot of rain down.

Saturday Evening -

Jeff and his daughter, Craig and Amy came to visit the camp site. Jeff ate with us. Scott made steak, pesto pasta salad, and grilled vegi's. It was so good. Then Laura whips out these rice crispy/chocolaty/peanut butter bars. I know, without a doubt I could have eaten the entire container. I ate one. Can't look like a pig in front of my tri-friends. :)

Finally the rest of the group got to the camp site around 7:30. Geez I'm thinking. They are Lolly gaggers. While the guys were eating their dinner Tom R. tells us that about a mile from the Rockford exit his bike fell off the back of the car. Oh man. The bike is in pieces. Thankfully no one was hurt. Tom is amazing. Truly. I would have been inconsolable. As luck would have it, Laura's husband was coming up the next morning to watch the race and agreed to bring up Tom's road bike. Tom didn't like the bike but it was better than nothing.
After all the tents were set up with air mattresses (thankfully Tom brought an extra for me) Gil and Ed left to rack their bikes. 20 minutes later Gil calls saying the race director can help Tom and Tom needs to go to the RD's house and check out a bike. What a great guy to lend Tom his bike. Laura, Michelle and I just laid in our tent listening to the wind in the trees. It's about 10:30. Scott and Tom are back and laughing. We could hear them saying something about the bike. Soon he had all of us laughing. And I'm thinking, no way, tomorrow Tom will be riding a pink bike.

Sunday Morning -

Sometime around 12:30 it started to pour rain. Laura closed up her window and then Michelle closed hers. Luckily the back one and the one next to me could stay open. The rain stopped eventually but we were under a tree that just kept dripping onto our tent. I ended up putting the pillow over my head. I know I slept about 2 hour hours cause the next time I looked at my watch it was 3:48. Ok, good. 4:30 came and it was time to get up. None of us really slept but the mood in the camp was a good one.

Thankfully Ed brought bagels, peanut butter and banana's for everyone. Good thing, I packed for a week but forgot breakfast. The rain started up again. I brought the rain ponchos from our trip to Disney. Just Tom's luck - he picks one sized for kids. He wore it.

Drove to transition and the nerves were starting. The drive was short and quiet. We had about a 1/2 mile walk from parking to transition. Of course the pink bike helped ease the nerves. I saw a lot of people from the club and past club members. Everyone was excited and ready. I love this feeling and hate it all at the same time.

On the way into the water I see Dr. B. again. He was smiling and looked ready. I apologized for not recognizing him a day earlier. Let's face it that blue lab coat he always wears is enough to change anyones appearance. You know just like Bruce Wayne/Batman. I almost said how I was doing this for fun and then stopped myself. Why bother. Wished him luck and went to the very back of the pack. Sang the National Anthem. There was about a minute I had my chance to get out of the water and just cheer my mates on - then the horn blasted. Oh well, to late.

Took my time on the swim. The seaweed was still a problem. Luckily I didn't get completely tangled in it. Was about 2/3 done with the swim when I saw a woman swimming next to me. She was doing the side stroke. Wow I thought, she's doing really good. The side stroke and she's right next to me. Um, how slow as I actually going? Obviously to slow. Started to breath every 3rd stroke and kick a little harder. Couldn't believe I actually swam up next to SI. Recognized his wetsuit. Would have to ask if he knew I swam next to him at the end of the race.

Out of the water in 50 minutes. 50 MINUTES! Settle the mind. SI slaps me on the shoulder on his way to T1. We high five. I take my time. Turn on the Garmin. I was racing with my heart. Completely with my heart so I figured the Garmin wouldn't hurt. Used the PAP. On my way out of T1 they were announcing that there were only 10 swimmers left in the water. UGH! Just go I told myself, have fun and go.

Rick didn't know it but he came with me on this ride. I figured his spirit was about the only thing that could pull me thru this mentally. Keep in mind, since Ironman I was on my bike twice before this,20 miles in September and then 27 miles 3 weeks ago. Much to my surprise, coming right out of transition is a guy riding a bike just like Rick's :). I was smiling and soon I passed him. Hey, wow, what ya know. As rode I was thanking volunteers, the police and the sheriffs. Saw Craig 1st on the bike. Checked the Garmin. He was about 20 miles ahead of me. And then started seeing everyone else. It was so uplifting seeing them. At the turn around point I thanked God for keeping the weather so nice for us and putting a lot of wind at my back.

Around mile 30 I saw Laura's husband. Cheering and video taping. Just after that the sky turned dark. Around mile 33 the rolling thunder and then lighting. It's going to pass I told myself. Then the wind and finally pounding pouring rain. I started to pray the Lord's prayer. I said it so many times and then started Hail Mary. It was still coming down. I then I was talking to God asking him to keep everyone safe. I knew to many people out there to start naming names. I prayed - "Please God keep us all safe from harm - please keep me safe from harm" over and over and over.

A short time later the rain stopped. Ah, I did my climbs thru the tough part of the ride. Was about 7 miles from the finish and in a flash the weather turned again. This time winds. Winds like nothing I have ever experienced. You know the scene from the Wizard of Oz, where the witch is pedaling and then she's in the air? Hmmm, maybe E.T. would be a kinder choice for describing this. Well, I felt just like that, not once but twice. I had no control over the situation, which is a terrible feeling. Just minutes before a truck drove by and asked if I was ok and if I wanted to stop - I said no. If he had been there at that moment I would have said yes. I'm glad he wasn't there.

I made it back to transition in 3:38 minutes. Just about what I planned on. Coming in I saw vans and cars leaving. I was hoping one of them wasn't Dr. B. I didn't want the crappy weather to spoil his experience. Then I thought - ut oh, what if they are cancelling the race. I told myself to ignore them. People kept going thru the Chicago marathon. I was going to finish no matter what. Turns out some people were quitting. Which I completely and totally understood. The weather had been miserable and turned bad quickly. It was sunny now but 5 minutes from now, who knew. But I had to keep going.

I started the run by walking with Tom N. out of T2. He left me at the bridge and on just the otherside I see Craig. I was calling Scott to let him know I was starting the run so couldn't say anything to Craig but the look on my face said it all. He was just finishing. Man, he's fast!

I wanted to keep a 10:30 pace on the run. Ended up averaging around 10:45. I was thrilled to see Laura and Michelle around mile 6. They told me that a tree had fallen in the road by our campsite. We couldn't get out. Nice. Thank God no one was around when it fell. Then my phone rings. Of course, it Dennis. "Hey, ya done?" I just started laughing. "No." I told him, "I'm on your favorite hill." He did this race last year. "My battery is dying, I'll call when it's over in about an hour and 10 minutes." "Yup, call me", he said. He convinced me I have to do this just to get me moving again.

Coming into the finish Laura's hubby was at the bridge, right were I left him. We ran in together and talked about his plans to run Boston. Oh, they are going to have a great time out there. Then he left me and told me to finish strong. I almost started crying, which was fueled by my tri-mates at the top of the hill cheering. I attempted to look at them and smile but couldn't. It would have been all over at that point and I was just 200 yrds from the finish.

I did it. I had a great time. Well not a great finishing time but a good time none the less. I would have had huge regrets not doing it. I loved hearing about how everyone felt out on the course during the crazy winds and rain. Gil knew I was praying. He was praying too. :) The pink bike helped Tom finish the bike leg with a smile on his face. I don't think I'll ever look at a pink bike the same way again. Dr. B. finished, I checked his time (of course -I had too), he was well ahead of me. And Michelle raced with Laura who finished her first 1/2 IM. Again, she has reached another milestone in miserable, crappy weather. She has a lot to be proud of. SI missed the middle of the pack award by about 30 people. Bummer. He's so even tempered about EVERYTHING!

I know a great group of people. They are my trimates and my friends. Life is blessed. :) Life is good. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth! (?) :)

We spent 12 days away from home. Traveling via airplane to Orange county Florida (we learned among other things about Disney World that it isn't in Orlando but in Orange county). Disney World is a great place to vacation. Here is my description of some of what we experienced during our 12 days ....

"Not So Happiest Place on Earth"

Let's face it. Parents have expectations, children live in the moment. Parents want to do one thing and kids another. There are lots of crying children at the happiest place on earth. Doesn't matter what time of day it is. Some where on the grounds of Disney a child is crying and a parent is probably yelling. Scott and I weren't exempt from this. We definitely had our moments.

"Sensory Overload"

Without fail, 3 things are always happening at the same time here. Music is constantly playing, then you can hear the rides moving about and then characters come at you from any direction. Parades and fireworks at all times of the day. I have trouble with this part of Disney. Really, it relates heavily to the "Not so Happy" part for me. I can only process so much and then I start to get overwhelmed and angry. Which is weird for me cause my mind races in every direction and doesn't ever really rest so you would think this wouldn't be hard for me to process. Go figure.

"Shinny Happy People"

I have to give double kudos to the Disney employees. It was obvious to me these are a group of people that actually enjoy going to work everyday. From the moment we got on the bus from the airport everyone was genuinely nice to us. You don't see that very often.

"Carol & the Upgrade"

We checked into the resort and Carol, the very happy woman behind the counter told me that the "Erickson family will be receiving a little Disney upgrade! We have moved you to a room with a view of the Magic Kingdom!" I was so excited. When planning the trip I actually booked the Magic Kingdom view but then realized we could eat off the Disney Meal plan for the same price as a room with a view. I obviously switched to a garden view and got the food included in the price of the trip. Well, we walked into our room with a view. Here's a picture ..... the view is behind the overgrown, palmy bush :)

It really was nice though, having this room. The kids literally could walk out the door and on to the beach. They played there a lot in the mornings while we would get ready to either go to the pool or a park. The other nice thing about the beach. You could see the fireworks from over the Magic Kingdom at night. Gracie and Scott would always fall asleep first so Zak and I would go outside and watch the show and then head back into the room. Good memories.

"The Picture You Want to Forget"

Vacations are classic for having bad pictures taken. The kids love this one of me, grimicing down the splash ride at Islands of Adventure. The picture proves that Gracie is definitely Scott's daughter and Zak is definitely my son .... :)

"The Pool!"

We had a great pool at the resort and spent a lot of time there. Zak, who is skittish around water eventually warmed up to the whole pool experience (with the help of his life vest) and probably slid down the water slide 25 times one night. I think I went down with him 15 of the 25 times but the 36 steps (we counted them, out loud, each trip up) started to wear me down. :) Gracie couldn't decide which she liked more the beach or the pool and we had to remind her a couple of times that she couldn't just head off to the beach without one of us. Ah, the independence at 5 years old.

"Moments We Won't Forget"

We went to Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory and Gracie was picked out of the audience and identified at the character "Boo". It was really, really funny to us because Scott was holding her on his lap. She thought is was going to be a scary ride and when she saw herself on the screen she made the cutest face, the audience oooo'd and then laughed.

On the Energy ride over at Epcot, we were worried the kids might get scared of the dinosaurs. Instead Zak stands up and starts shouting at them, "I love you dinosaurs. I love you T-Rex. Really, I do." The man sitting behind us couldn't stop laughing.

Both kids have a need for speed. They loved the Test Track at Epcot. They thought they were driving "race cars" at the Magic Kingdom until they got in the car at Epcot.

Gracie couldn't get enough of all the slides at Blizzard Beach but let out the most terrifying scream when she started to float away from us on the lazy river.

The entire Pirates and Princes party was a blast! The Magic Kingdom closes 7 p.m. to everyone except for 1,000 people who bought tickets to the party. Guests are encouraged to dress up like a priate or princess. Zak didn't want to be a priate so he dressed up like Stitch. We didn't wait to get on any rides. The park stays open until midnight. We ended up leaving, exhausted around 11:30.

We took the kids to Sea World and the kids love just about everything there. We went to the Animal Kingdom and they weren't that impressed, except for the Dino part. We spent almost 2 hours there. But Sea World - the entire park was good. They loved feeding the sting rays and trying to pet the dolphins. They loved learning about the manitees and watching the dolphins / bird show (which had some Cirque D'Soliel stuff thrown into it) and the Shamu show. This was the only day Zak took a nap. He fell asleep in his stroller (yes, we ended up buying stroller to keep our happy vacation happy) and slept for almost an hour. He woke up ready to have fun that night.

Lilo and Stitch breakfast was a blast, although Zak tells me now that he didn't like dancing around the dining room. And if you like meat on a stick, Ohana's for dinner can't be beat. Oh, and how could I forget Tonga toast. It's this sugary french toast type of breakfast. If you love sweet stuff then you'll love this.

Riding in the nose of the monahail, I mean monorail. It's a completely different ride up in the front. The kids got their license to drive it when the ride was over.

Gracie and I made a pact to eat cotton candy every day we were there. Well, some days we couldn't find it but we did have it probably one day to many. The Thursday before we left I ordered dessert. When it came the plate was wrapped in cotton candy. I thought I was gonna get sick just looking at it. I tried to give it to Grace and she just made a face. :)

We had a lot of great family moments. To many to write about but ones we will talk about for the rest of our lives. Our lives are truly blessed. Life is good. :)

Monday, June 2, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Yeah - We are home from our 12 day trip to see Mickey and the gang. I will write a long report about the entire experience once I find my way thru the ocean of laundry, suitcases and souviners we brought back from the "happiest place on earth". Be assured I will include lots of pictures. Ok, well maybe not lots, it's a pain in the butt downloading them but I will include some. Oh it's good to be home and have nice weather. Oooh, I hear the dryer time to change loads. More later :)