Thursday, March 29, 2007

Set the Wayback Machine for...


Yesterday I took the TT bike out for a spin. It's been more than a few months since I've been on it. The weather was great; sun was shining, great temperature ... even the wild turkeys were having a good time.

I love riding my TT bike. It's fun to crank up the speed and feel the wind rush around your body. I imagine it's how birds must feel when they're swooping out of the sky.

So I'm tooling along...keeping an eye on the speedo just for kicks. The way out is into the wind and I'm only able to manage the low 20's without going completely out of the zone. After the turn, with the wind at my back, it was hammer time. As my speed snuck into the 30's I suddenly found myself thinking back to my first Triathlon.

My first triathlon was the Bud Light Triathlon in Del Mar in 1992. I wasn't in very good shape and at the start line had no idea how much pain I was about to endure. As a former swimmer I came out of the water OK and then spent the rest of the day being passed by just about everyone. I learned a lot that day and have a bunch of vivid memories but yesterday was linked to September 13, 1992 by my awe for the race winner. Perhaps best known for his six Ironman Championship victories, Mark Allen could also blast an Olympic distance race. I vividly remember staring at the results sheet (I still have my copy) in disbelief at Mark's average speed on the bike ... 27.8 Mph. Never mind that he had just swam a sub-19 minute 1.5 K ocean swim or was about to run a 32:39 10K. That is one fast TT.

Yesterday, for some reason, I found myself in awe all over again.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thanks, Olaf

This week has left me sharing a lot with Mr. Alexander. Nothing horrible has happened, but it has been the 'perfect storm' of overwhelming, events which just didn't seem to let up.

In light of this, I decided to race twice today in Santa Rosa. All I wanted was to go out there and have a kick ass time with my beloved teammates as I knew no better way to let go of the week's events.

We won the 3/4 race with Laurie's fabulous attack with 1 to go where she stayed away just enough to grab the win. Her win was no thanks to the guy on the back side yelling, "She's dying!!!" to the ensuing pack which was nipping at her heels.

And later in the afternoon, I accomplished 2 new things in just one race. I raced twice in one day for the first time AND I did my first 1-2-3 crit (which I also finished). Last week at Zamora I chickened out of attacking before the QOM on the last lap to set up our leadout. My mind kept telling me that as a new 3, I had no business off the front. But TODAY, Kristen was my little angel, and kept urging me to do it. I attacked twice, once mid-race and the second time as we crossed the line with 1 to go. I was caught within 1/2 lap (and the 2nd attack, with 1 to go, I made it to the front, but not a whole lot further), but it was a good confidence booster. Thanks, Kristin!

Oh, but there's more thanks to be had. I spent a lot longer in the 4s than many (just over 2 seasons). Commitments to teammates and a true appreciation and respect for my team's philosophy were the main reasons, but another important one stemmed from this post which has stayed with me since Olaf wrote it in March 2006. Today, mid-race in the 1-2-3s, there was a moment (during a slower lap, thank god) where my mind wandered to the zillion pieces of advice I've gotten as a racer over the last two seasons and how so much of it seems to be coming together. Although I still need some work on learning how to win, I'm realizing how far I've come. Those moments, where you get to see how much you've grown and appreciate those who pushed you to do so, are a treat. I'd name all of you personally, but the music would drown me out as the network goes to a commercial break. Instead, since Mike is at Orosi, I've got Brokeback Mountain fired up on my laptop and am curling up into bed.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Taking responsibility

Tomorrow is my least favorite day of the teaching quarter: the day the grade books close for the quarter.

Although they've known this date for weeks, there will inevitably be 10-20 students in my room tomorrow after school, scrambling to get in late assignments. They will beg for another day. I will say no. They will keep begging. They will drive me crazy. I wish they would take responsibility for their quarter grades EARLIER. My urgings don't seem to help.

And then, there's always the last exam of the quarter. Someone panics about their grade and cheats. Today was no different. Prior to today, the girl in question had gotten no better than a D on any exam. Today she got 95%. Hooray! I even called in her UC Berkeley mentor to let her know how proud I was of their work together. The mentor mentioned that they actually have done very little math together. Hmmm...I took a closer look. Not only was her work identical to the girl sitting next to her who got 100%, but even the DOODLES which the 100% girl made in the corner of one problem were identical to the cheater.

I hate the heart to heart which must now ensue tomorrow. Too many tears and disappointed parents. And then, there's the subsequent conversation with each of my classes where I try to instill the fear of god (or the fear of me, which can be far worse) in all of them if anyone ever attempts to cheat again.

Ay! The 7th grade drama never ends.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Things that make you go...


Yesterday I read this article in the Chronicle and could only shake my head in wonder. As a long time Bezerkeley resident this isn't the first time I've seen the City Council formally express an opinion on world politics and I have to say it drives me crazy. While I'm all for freedom of speech and even agree with the sentiment of this 'non-binding' resolution, I want my local tax dollars spent on local issues!

This resolution is particularly absurd given my daily insiders report on the state of some local schools. It's a well kept secret that this is a special time of year in many Bay Area public schools, perhaps best named 'End Of Supplies Season'. While there are still three months left on the academic calendar, schools are running out of basic supplies. No more pencils, no more copy paper, no more standard forms and even toilet paper can be in short supply. Effective public school teachers have a hard enough job under normal circumstances. Without supplies it seems impossible. Rather than rail against the bureaucracy, many teachers bite the bullet and pay for supplies out of their own pocket, effectively reducing their already modest salaries. WTF!!!

Given our community value of education and high expectations codified in NCLB, this situation is mind boggling to me.

...and makes City Council resolutions like the one described above even more absurd. Come on Council members, pull you heads out of the clouds and look around. There are plenty of local issues that need your attention!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dear Pab

And anyone else with a hankering for these annual treats.
Racing Zamora? Let us know and we'll bring cookies to fuel the addiction.

Monday, March 12, 2007

From the Sidelines...

I woke up Friday with a cold and decided to watch Saturday's Tri-Flow festivities from the sidelines. It was a good excuse to try out the new camera. I managed to snap a few good shots of EMC-ers, Dot-Racers and Bloggers. Check them out here.

No offense boys but the women's races were more interesting and strategic (Boys = Arm wrestling, Women = Fencing).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Cool holiday

It has been an especially good week for special events.

The cool holiday was the celebration of International Women's Day at Willard Middle School on Thursday. Many years ago (more years ago than I have been teaching) a male history teacher at Willard decided that the male teaching staff at Willard should honor the women teaching staff of Willard by having an annual breakfast for them. As this is my first year at Willard, I was unaware of this tradition.


Breakfast started at 7:45. The school library had been transformed into a gourmet restaurant. Tables etched by students' pencil scribblings were covered in white tablecloths. Each table bore a vase of daffodils. Upon entering the room, I was greeted at the door by a male teacher who handed me a rose and escorted me to a seat. I was immediately approached by a second teacher and asked me my drink preferences, from juice, to tea, to coffee. After sipping fresh Peet's Coffee, I was ready for the breakfast buffet. The men had prepared a feast: homemade scones, coffee cake, muffins, fritattas, breakfast burritos, tofu scrambles, fruit salad, and much, much more.

As I looked around the room, there were many unfamiliar faces, of both men and women. The tradition is to invite all Willard staff alumnae to the breakfast, so I was surrounded by former teachers, vice principals, and parent-liaisons.

And finally, just before the bell, we were serenaded by the men with a song they had written for us about the Women of Willard.

Like I said, WOW.

And in terms of the other events which happened this week:
* Metromint women's team dinner was one big unforgettable wow.
* But most importantly, earlier in the week, an especially beautiful ring was offered to me by Mike. And I said yes. (Now THIS was definitely the event of the year!! I am in total bliss!).

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Que Paso?

Today's 3/4 field at Merco felt sketchier than anything I've done before. It felt like a lot of negative racing with around 10 of us who were willing to work and around 40 others who were content in the peanut gallery, spread every which way along the road. Those of you who were there, correct me if I'm wrong, but all the mid-race conversations I had seemed to assure me that I wasn't the only one who thought this.

But, among our blogger community, I have a lot to be thankful for today, so here's my top 10:

10) To Andrea for getting the ice cream bar at the gas station which inspired Mike and I to do the same.

9) To Mike for loading the cases of Metromint in the car which came in handy at the impromptu EMC/Metromint/Left Coast Quizmo's post-race gathering.

8) To Deb for looking out for our safety and encouraging me to help her stretch the pack out early on in lap 1.

7) To Erica and Linda for inspiring me by racing with the 45+ men.

6) To Sabine for her wise 411 on the important course features, keeping us on our toes by attacking several times, and for joining in my suffering up the climb on the last lap. You were amazing.

5) To Heather, for finding me before every crucial part of the course on the first lap so I'd know what was coming up.

4) To Vera for twice attacking before the corners which gave me a fast, safe wheel around the turns.

3) To Mike for being willing to go out for ice cream twice today.
2) I'm thankful that the Bella who went down next to me with 200m to go is ok. Who was she? Let me know how she's doing.

1) And most of all, I'm thankful to have stayed safe in what felt like stop & go rush hour traffic.

I'm upgrading this week (!!) and could definitely use some lessons in how to stay near the front without spending too much time on the front. I worked hard the end, too hard as I couldn't quite hang onto the deciding split a few rollers before the finish. But I was among the top 5 wheels for virtually the entire race (of course, it's only the end which matters). It was hard work to stay there, but the rest of the pack simply felt too sketchy for me. I need to learn to be more efficient up there as I covered one too many surges and had nothing left in at the end. It was a good learning experience and I'm looking forward to Zamora.

Words of wisdom???