Kelly Dunleavy O'Mara

I wanted a TV show, but a blog is almost as good.


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Races and writing and things

This morning I did my second “race” in three days. Then, I spent the last 6 hours working on stories for the launch of my site (which happens this Friday).

My brain is now fried. I was trying to come up with the phrase “…but after extensive opposition…” but I couldn’t think of the word “opposition,” to the point that I went and made food and came back and still had “…but after extensive concerns…” Hmm, can you extensively concern?

This is, of course, on top of my parents visiting this past week, me trying to write and report a ton, trying to get other people to write (yo, deadline means due on THAT day), and training — sorta.

I did finally get pictures of the lakes where I love running, since we went for a nice walk and I actually carried a camera. Crazy.

Not bad, huh?

And this was before my dad fell down a hill:

We also went to the Academy of Science on Thursday night for Nightlife, which is like ‘Hey, drinks and a DJ, now the museum is a coool place to be!’

The butterflies and birds were going nuts too, because it was night or something. This giant butterfly (the kind with the owl eye on the wing) started swooping and I had to resist not ducking. Like, holy shit, that thing could kill us!

This was not that butterfly:

Oh, and the “races”?

I showed up to a Tamalpa race on Friday without any idea how long it was. Figured they’re all kind of the same distance. I planned to make it part of a long run/tempo workout, so 6.5 miles, then 3.75 mile (-or something) race, then long cooldown. I didn’t win. SIGH. But, it was a good effort and I felt good. Except, of course, for the part where I thought ‘oh my god, I suck, this is really fucking painful, everyone’s passing me, I should just quit, I’m so slow.’

Fun.

Then, this morning, I did the Tiburon Triathlon. It’s the kind of race where if you want to be in the first wave you have to give them a reason. I think I wrote, “Because I’m fast” when I did the race two years ago.

The race was weird. I never saw anyone else until this guy passed me running 5:30 miles in the middle of the run.

I swam pretty much the same as when I did it two years ago, even though two years ago I stopped and took my goggles off and put them back on, and this time I actually tried to swim hard. But since they say that they don’t measure the course and it’s not accurate, I don’t think I can care too much.

I biked almost the exact same too, even though two years ago I thought I was awesome and this year I thought I was sucking. So. It took me a good five minutes of “OHMYGODTHISISPAINFUL, how am I ever going to be able to keep up this pace, this is stupidly hurtful” then I sort of settled in. Who knows. It’s pretty much a result of not racing at all this year, so I don’t know my pace. Though, it turns out my pace exactly matches the cadence of “Part of Your World” from the Little Mermaid, which I sang in my head the whole time.

The one thing I did a lot faster is run. I ran a 12:03 sorta two-mile at the end of the race and I felt good. My one memory of this race from two years ago is Steve telling me to keep it up and me NOT feeling good and running quite a bit slower.

I went a minute faster overall than before and only 6 guys beat me. I also out-kicked (hard) a 14-year-old boy because I thought he was a girl about to beat me. Then, I almost threw up.

No idea if I’m in shape for a half-Ironman or not — especially given the longest I’ve ridden my TT bike is 45 minutes. Guess we’ll see.


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All that nature shit around here.

You know when you see a snake or think a mountain lion is coming out of the bushes (or for you urbanites, see a guy following you at night down an empty street), and your body goes into fight or flight, and your heart rate sky-rockets and you get all focused and intense; and then the moment passes and you’re still ok, because of course you’re ok, so all you’re left with is an absurdly high heartrate that seems totally out of place and uncomfortable now?

Yeah, that happens to me all the time. It’s probably all the goddamn nature around here.

Last week, I ran on the ridge above my house. It’s a hillier run than I usually do, which says a lot around here, and it goes forever. I ran and ran and ran and then eventually I just turned around even though there was miles left to explore. It’s also a less well-trafficked, less manicured and groomed, less tamed area than I usually run at. Once you get past the first crest where everyone walks their dogs, you could get bit by a snake or attacked by a coyote (even though coyotes don’t really attack people) and no one would find you for hours if not days.

Then, Monday, I decided to jump back in to training with a 4 hour ride. Because, since I had only ridden longer than 1.5 hours in the last month, I figured why not.

I headed north to try a new route into Sonoma. This is what it looked like from the top of Wilson’s Hill:

The other thing about heading north is it is hot. Really HOT. And I was wearing a long-sleeved jersey to “heat acclimatize”. The last hour of the ride was really ugly. I maintained the same pace and power, but the internal struggle was fierce and brutal.

I stopped at a little shop about 45 minutes from home and grabbed a Gatorade and started drinking while I was standing in line. Then I saw they didn’t take credit card and I only had credit card. But, I looked so bright red and sweaty and about to drop dead, the guy told me just to drink it and come back with money next time.

Other than that, first week of training is well underway.


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State Champion

About a month ago, I saw this mile run listed on a race calendar for July 4. It said the race was the RRCA California State Mile Championships. Which sounded like fun.

I figured why not.

I just wanted to break 5:30. I know that there’s a lot of other big July 4th running races around here that people like to do, so it probably wouldn’t be as competitive as a state championship should be in theory, but I still thought there would be some fast people.

Nope. For some reason, there wasn’t. I won by a minute.

Which makes me a state champion I guess.

I also decided to finish the rest of the season, start training again, and not quit triathlon, by the way. I’ve sort of just been dicking around and hoping eventually I’d be re-motivated, but I can go a really, really long time without doing anything besides reading books and watching TV. If I kept waiting, I was going to read the whole Twilight series (oops, done), eat my weight in cookies (definitely done), and generally become a bum before anything changed.

So, new plan: fake it til you make it.

Training starts, uh…tomorrow.


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Almost ready to race?

I thought I was at a place where I was ready to make a calendar again last week and start training. But, the thought of racing still makes me want to throw up (side note: yesterday I started coughing because I had a tickle in the back of my throat, but I was trying not to cough because I was interviewing someone, so then I threw up a little in my mouth on accident).

So, I didn’t really start training again. I did some workouts last week and just sort of dicked around.

But, I’m not quite ready to give up totally on the season, or on triathlon. I think. Maybe. I don’t know.

And if you don’t train in July, then you might as well not race August and September and just give up.

So, officially, where I am at is: I guess I’ll start training and decide about racing later? Maybe.


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Fast?!

Today, I swam the fastest I’ve ever swum. Then, I had to lay in my car for 45 minutes until I could breathe right.

I haven’t swum in two weeks (remember, the whole break/sabbatical/doing whatever popped into my head thing), so I figured of course I’d be slow at practice today. Naturally, because swimming is stupid, I was faster than ever.

The whole practice I was swimming 1:16s easily, which is crazy. Anything under 1:20 is usually hard for me and it’s definitely not something I can do casually, repeatedly.

Whatever. Drafting, I figured.

Then, we got faster and faster with more and more rest as practice went on. And, suddenly, I was swimming 1:11s and 1:12s. I’ve never swum faster than that. Partially, I’ve only tried to swim faster than that a handful of times; partially, I’m not that fast; and partially, I can swim 1:20s for a long, long time but I can’t swim faster than that for shit.

Finally, we got to the end of practice, where we were going to take turns swimming an all-out 100y. I just thought it would be awesome if I could finally break 1:10. I swam so, so hard.

1:07!!!

Where the fuck did that come from?

I felt fine right after swimming, just breathing really hard. Then, after a couple minutes, we were supposed to swim another hard 50y. I started out, but I just couldn’t catch my breath. My heart started beating so hard and so fast. I could feel it everywhere and it wouldn’t slow down and it was pulsing through my whole body. Basically, I couldn’t breathe enough and when I wasn’t breathing my heart hurt. I slowed down, finished up the 50y, took a break and figured I’d just cool down nice and easy.

But, even swimming easy, I couldn’t catch my breath. When I wasn’t breathing, my heart was just going too fast still and so hard. I backstroked, figured it would stop eventually.

It didn’t stop.

Even 20 minutes after finishing swimming, in the locker room, my heart was still beating so, so fast and so, so hard. It felt like it might jump out of my chest or explode. Or, more logically, I might pass out. I also felt like as long as I kept breathing slow and not doing anything it would go away in a minute or two, but it kept not going away. I had to sit down in the car and call Steve and once I started talking that was too much talking and not enough breathing. My heart started beating so fast again and I laid down in the back seat for like 30 more minutes.

Then, eventually, it went away. Sort of.

So, welcome back to training, Kelly!


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I don’t think I’ve ever written about a product I liked before

This a really brief thing I wanted to write last week before I went on my sabbatical.

It is, briefly, this:

I love these shoes.

I’m not sponsored by Nike (though that would be awesome), I have no interest in Nike, I don’t know anyone at Nike, etc, etc, but oh man I loved these shoes.

Steve got them for me for my quarter-century, after I told him I tried them on and I’m a 7.5 and I liked the purple.

The idea is that they mimic barefoot running. I know the whole barefoot running craze is, well, a craze. And I get the idea. It totally makes sense that some barefoot running would force you to be more efficient and economical than you are with shoes. And that shoes have cushioned and weakened your feet, so some barefoot running will strengthen them and help prevent injury.

But.

But. I did some barefoot running around the track after a workout and hurt myself. Which isn’t good. It’s too rough on your feet, which have been cushioned and weakened, and you can’t just jump right in.

These shoes, though, felt awesome.

I felt light and gazelle-like and fast and like I wasn’t even wearing shoes (which is the point I suppose). I’m sure I didn’t look gazelle-like, because whenever I feel like I’m look amazing running then I see a picture and somehow I managed to look shorter and squat, but I felt good.

I’ve only worn them on one run, because 1. I’ve only run twice in the last 10 days and 2. I’m on sabbatical and 3. I do think you need to build into wearing them for long runs or hilly runs, because they do have less cushioning and support and your body isn’t used to that. So don’t be a dumbass.

Still, highly recommended.


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Sort of a race report

Yesterday, I did half of a triathlon.

(Someone asked which half. The first one.)

I’ve been a little bit tired lately. Not tired of training. Not of running and biking and, sometimes, not of swimming. But worn out of all the other shit. The stressing about it, the having to figure out all the little things, the cramming in the calendar, the making the calendar, and double-checking it. The I want to go for a bike ride, but it doesn’t fit and is hurting my knee, so I need to go back to the bike fitter, but I need to bring my other bike also in order to do that, but the other bike doesn’t have cranks, so I need to buy a bottom bracket to switch the cranks out. Aghhkcneln,rmv…

And that’s how everything’s been going lately.

It’s like Erin was saying after I did the half the race yesterday: starting a new job and buying a house are like two of the most stressful things. At least I didn’t have a baby too.

So, I felt terrible before the race. I felt like I want to quit triathlon; I hate this; I don’t want to be here; I don’t want to do this. But whatever. Sometimes you feel terrible and still race awesome. Who knows. It’s a mystery. So I went even though I felt terrible and I thought it would work out.

I was supposed to be in the elite wave, but when I got there they had me in the 25-29 age group. I was like ‘hey, that’s not right,’ because I figured I should start in the right wave and I figured all the other elite girls would be in the elite wave and I figured when there is an elite wave and you have an elite license you’re not supposed to race in an age group (there’s pretty specific rules about that), but I am a dumbass it turns out. And the one or two other elite girls didn’t race in the elite wave. They were put in their respective age groups.

Which meant I got to the start and it was 7 elite guys and me. As I started to realize this while I was heading to warmup, I felt an overwhelming wave of nausea and crying.

Being the only girl with 7 elite guys, fyi, SUCKS. Actually, it really just sucks if you’re not an awesome swimmer.

After the first 100y or so, I swam by myself. I was ahead of one elite guy (YES!) and I just kept swimming along and along, talking to myself. I made it to the finish with only one guy from the 29 and under men’s wave (which started 4 minutes after me) passing me. I figured that was good, but who knows?!? I was totally by myself. Maybe I swam the slowest ever. Maybe I swam totally off course. WHO KNOWS.

Then I got on my bike. By myself. And biked along. By myself. I could see one guy about a half-mile ahead in the distance, but then I couldn’t see him anymore. I didn’t even get passed by any more guys from the men’s wave behind me for awhile. So, I was just biking along. Feeling terrible.

I was doing pretty well for about 5 to 10 minutes. Then, it was just a struggle. I couldn’t keep my power up at all. The numbers were just terrible. I felt uncomfortable on my bike and not strong, like I was all over the place. I could get in a rhythm, sure, it was just a slow sucky rhythm. I was really struggling. And I was really unmotivated.

There’s enough other stuff in a race that goes on, that you don’t need to be trying to convince yourself not to quit the sport too.

I’m going to quit the sport after this race. I’m going to cancel all my other races for the next month. Maybe I should just quit now. No, that’s dumb. I’m already here. Maybe I shouldn’t quit the sport. Stop being stupid.

And, as a side note, the swim course was longer and the bike was slow because of the wind. But I didn’t know any of this. I figured I was just sucking more.

After going back and forth and fighting with myself for about half the bike, I just pulled over and stopped.

And I leaned over on my handlebars. And I just started sobbing and shaking hysterically. I cried for 10 minutes and I couldn’t stop.

Eventually, after I stopped bawling, I was like well, I’ll just get back on my bike and finish. That lasted about 5 more minutes. Then, no, no I’m not finishing.

I’m on an indefinite break now. With no planning. And no scheduling. And hopefully everything will come back soon.

I thought I was feeling a lot better today and that the break wouldn’t be that long.

Then, I was reading a couple articles about the Dipsea, which also happened yesterday, and I started to tear up. Awwwww, she stopped and helped her competitor up after she fell. Sniff, Sniff, she proved everyone wrong when she earned her shirt.

Maybe, a good sign of when I’m ready to come back is when newspaper stories don’t make me want to cry.


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Add compression tights to my list of birthday presents I’d like

I am tired. So tired. I’m sorry, I’m too tired to think of a more clever way to say that.

I’m running the Memorial Day 10K tomorrow (because I enjoy having my ass kicked — good for your humility or something), but I think I might fall asleep during it. I sort of fell asleep during the Giants game today. The sun was so warm and sitting still was so soothing and zzzz….

My legs have also just been aching, like painfully throbbing, almost constantly. The massive, lower-body-wide pain has been very demoralizing. It’s hard to care about biking faster when you just want your hamstring to stop feeling like someone is tearing it apart with their bare hands.

And that’s how you end up eating a cinnamon, morning bun, coffee cake with frosting halfway through a 3 hour ride and then wondering why you really don’t feel so good now.

Even though it feels debilitating, I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation for why I’m exhausted. Like maybe starting a new job with a huge company, where you’re actually in charge of shit and need to be self-motivated and you have to figure it all out on your own, is kind of stressful. And maybe closing on the condo and needing to move is sort of tiring. [No, we have not moved. We fixed the sink and the lights instead. And by we, I mean some guys.] Oh yeah, and then there’s the fact that I’ve done more training in the last three weeks than in the previous two months.

I was sort of out of training for a few weeks in March and couldn’t run for a month and then I knew there was no reason to jam in a bunch of training before Alcatraz if I wanted to be on for it. Which means I had 6 weeks where I didn’t crack 10 hours of training.

Which, fyi, mom, is not very much.

So my 12 hours, 13.5, 14.5 and now 16 on the schedule for this week, is a lot in comparison.

Also, I fried my back. Evidently, swimming at noon outside is a recipe for crispy Kelly.

Just so you don’t think I’m a total whiner, I did get to ride my time trial bike for the first time in 9 months, which was very exciting. (Why yes, that is SRAM Red on the bike. It is quite nice, thanks for asking.)

Of course, it would have been more exciting like three months ago. But who’s complaining.


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A real adult

This morning, before work (more on that in a second), I was running mile repeats at the track. And there’s this point only 150m in where everything seizes up. My legs and arms are as heavy as bricks and ache. I feel like just melting into the ground.

Then it passes.

Every single repeat I felt like I was going to die. Literally, die from running. Like those deer.

I tell myself ‘it’ll pass, it’ll pass.’ And (almost) every single time it does.

Pain is weird like that.

Other than that, mile repeats sucked this morning. I don’t even know how I got through the last two since the only reason I didn’t throw up is I hadn’t had anything to eat yet.

Then, my legs hurt the rest of the day.

The rest of the day I was a busy, important person. Sort of.

I started my fancy, new job on Monday. I had to ride the ferry with all these other fancy business people. I have a fancy blackberry too, which I used on my fancy first day. You almost would have mistaken me for a real adult.

We’re launching the new site at the end of August. Right now, I need to talk to people in the community. Explain to them that we’re launching this site at the end of August. Etc.

It’s actually really cool.

AND. We closed on the condo today. It’s official.

So, if I like you I might tell you my new phone number and new address.


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1%

I’m reading Superfreakonomics (which is infuriating in that the assumptions the authors make in order to justify their arguments are leaps of faith off very shaky platforms), and I started thinking about the 99% accurate test that they put forward.

If a test is 99% accurate, most people would agree that’s really, really good. If any of the kids I tutored got 99% they certainly wouldn’t need me to tutor them.

But consider a test that is 99% accurate. In the book they imagine a test that is 99% accurate in identifying terrorists. But, what about a test that is 99% accurate in identifying dopers.

Out of 100 people that are dopers, it would correctly identify 99 of them as dopers. Out of 100 people that aren’t dopers, it would incorrectly identify 1 of them as a doper. But what if that 1% error is out of lots and lots of innocent people. Out of 100,000 non-dopers, it would incorrectly identify 1,000 as dopers.

For identifying terrorists this doesn’t really work, obviously, because most, most people are not terrorists, so you get an overwhelming number of people wrongly identified, which means for any one person identified as a terrorist there’s a pretty good chance they’re not.

Whether or not it works for doping kind of depends in part on how prevalent you think it is, but also on what we’re doing with all these false positives. Since the terrorist test is imaginary I wasn’t really interested in it. But, doping tests are not imaginary. They are real and they’re pretty high stakes and they are not 100% accurate.

It depends obviously on the particular test and newer, better ones are being developed all the time, but even if they have 99.9% accuracy those tests are incorrectly identifying some people as having used performance-enhancing drugs. And when you multiply that by the hundreds, if not the thousands, of tests that professional (and now, amateur) athletes have to take that’s a scary number of false positives.

And, that’s assuming no human error. [Kind of like how condom use's effectiveness in the real world is actually much lower than 98%.]

And, that’s not even talking about the athletes who get positive doping tests because they fail to fill out the right forms to get their asthma medication approved or didn’t know certain medicines on a long list of scientific names would trigger the tests. (On the email I got about banned substances, it listed a bunch of things that are banned “in competition,” but not out of. It took me a while to figure it out, but then it became clear you’re not allowed to be on Sudefed, Nyquil or Tylenol during a race, which means it has to clear your system before the race. How long does it take to clear your system? I really don’t know. Maybe just don’t take it 3-4 weeks before a race. But you’re racing every other weekend, so, just don’t get sick.)

And, we’re not even mentioning the fact that the World Anti-Doping Agency’s online tracking system is supposedly impossible to understand.

WADA is under fire – and rightly so – for an ill conceived system that now forces athletes to provide three months’ notice of their location an an hour each day for seven days a week between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. for testing.

Even ignoring all of those issues (because WADA and USADA certainly are), I’m still concerned about the 1% error. Or .1% error. Because .1% out of 100,000 tests is still 100 people.

So, let’s assume, of course there are mistakes in drug testing. Of course. There’s technician error. There’s biological differences between people that would mean a test may fall outside the range of “normal.” There’s people who have filled out the forms wrong or didn’t mean to take performance-enhancing drugs with their over-the-counter medication. And, then there’s downright false positives. So, sure, of course, mistakes happen.

Except, according to USADA, they pretty much never make mistakes.

Which is why it’s totally ok that the high-stakes process operates completely outside of the confines of the pesky legal system. Who needs trials and evidence and defenders when you have “arbitration.” Why give the athletes access to legal assistance and their own test results; that seems so unnecessary.

It really shouldn’t be a surprise that few athletes appeal a sanction once it’s handed down and that on appeal the USADA seldom loses. USADA didn’t lose its first appeal until 2007 and that was only after a law professor and four law students worked pro bono on the case.

(USADA also shortened a hammer-thrower’s suspension earlier this week because she had taken a diuretic after being horribly depressed. It was a “rare loss.”)

So, if you experience human error in your test or make a mistake in the bureaucracy or are simply one of the false positives, then you are faced with an overwhelmingly biased, complicated, and opaque arbitration system, which makes it nearly impossible to prove your innocence and which almost never finds in your — the athlete’s — favor.

I would have more faith in a system that admitted it makes mistakes. Justice that claims to be all-knowing is seldom just or all-knowing.

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