Tuesday, June 7, 2011

My First Masters Swim Class

Last night I went to my very first masters swim practice. It was AWESOME. Although I have improved so much over the last several months with my lessons, my instructor thought I would benefit from joining a masters swim group. I'm am still a beginner on many levels but doing this could move me to an intermediate skill level.

I am driving about 40 miles to get there either before work, after work or on Saturdays. There may be a masters swim closer but I really wanted to be coached by Leah Nyikes at www.liquidlifestyles.com because she is the one giving me lessons and knows my skill level and what I am capable of pushing myself to do.

Doing something like this can be intimidating but Leah made everyone at every skill level feel comfortable. I cannot wait to see how the summer progresses.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Triathlon Topic Not Often Discussed (aka: The best manicure I ever had!)

I wanted to discuss a much ignored topic in triathlons. I’m a bit of a princess - even when it comes to triathlon. I don’t mean that I’m high maintenance – I’m not. I just mean that I like things to look a certain way. Maybe I’m more anal retentive. THAT’S IT – I’m an anal retentive princess triathlete. For example, I like my tri shoes to match my bike. Last year, when I was buying my bike shoes, I purchased and returned three different pairs of shoes before I was satisfied by the fit and shade of blue that matched my bike and tri suit on the fourth pair. I think the guys at Performance Bike were ready to kill me by the time I finally settled on the right pair.

On that note, I also like to have my fingernails painted. I have always had nice nails and would give myself manicures weekly (see – I’m not high maintenance- self manicures – too cheap to pay salon prices). Not so, since I’ve been training for triathlons the last three years. Every time I’d paint my nails, it would chip off the first time I went swimming. That made my nails look terrible. I felt it was better to not paint them at all than to have them looking all chipped up.

Skip ahead to March 2011. I was at my son’s end of basketball season pizza party. I noticed the nails of one of the moms. We got to talking and she told me about this new fingernail polish called ‘Shellac.’ She said it lasted for 14-21 days without chipping, cracking or losing its shine. I said no way. I’m too hard on my nails because I swim so much. She said she was a nurse and went swimming 2-3 times a week too. I looked closer at her nails and they were perfect. She was on day 7 of her manicure. I still didn’t believe her but looked it up on the internet. Sure enough, that was the claim of every testimony I read. I had to have my nails looking like hers. So I did something I never do (or at least not done in 20 years) - I got a manicure at a salon. My husband rolled his eyes and said – here we go! I explained I had to see how it was done if I wanted to do it myself. I guess the fingernail polish is cured with a UV lamp but is easily removed with acetone polish remover – WITH NO DAMAGE TO YOUR NAIL!

I typically swim 3-4 days a week and after 21 days the manicure still looked perfect. There was only a bit of growth. That is the only reason I switched colors. After that I invested in my own personal UV lamp and the special Shellac nail polish and have been giving myself Shellac manicures ever since. My investment has already paid for itself.

I realize this is not at the top of most triathletes list of important stuff, but for me it is. I stare at my nails for a long time on the bike. I like them to look pretty and shiny. The attached picture is 20 full days after I gave myself this manicure. Still looks awesome.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What I have been doing since Wednesday...

My mom and dad's house was a century home and the original Powell Dairy farmhouse with beautiful old construction and 5 huge bedrooms. It was a total loss. The only thing they managed to save before the fire was the push mower and my mom's car. Thankfully, both were outside at the time of the fire. Hours after the fire, my friend Missy, her husband Alan and I managed to get most of the pictures and slides out of the house. Alan is a local fire fighter and he went into the house while we sorted through the stuff loading up our vehicles. He also found some of my mom's jewelry. They lost their cell phones, ID's, wallets, purses, credit cards, cash... The local American Red Cross has been amazingly helpful providing guidance and assistance and we are thankful for theirs and everyone's help.


The following day, my husband Lou, brother Peter and friend Alan helped do most of the heavy lifting - salvaging as much from the house as possible. There was not much left. My friend Missy and I spent most of the afternoon removing wet pictures from photo albums we found later.

I have worked as a fire protection engineer in the industrial and commercial property insurance industry my entire 22 year career and it is as if I have been preparing for this moment the entire time. I have been able to assist my parents with their home owners policy and the claims adjusters. They have been in such a daze that most of it just went over their heads. It is a bunch of jibbirish under normal circumstances. It is 1000 times worse under duress.

Now comes the rebuilding - getting ID's replaced, temporary housing, credit cards replaced, utilities shut off, newspaper and mail delivery revised, new vehicle for my dad, permanent housing plans... Very overwhelming.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I read this on Facebook the other day. It cracked me up:

If the opposite of pro is con, then what must be the opposite of progress?

Anyway, this will be short. So I finally timed myself swimming 100 yards. I did it several times during my workout to be sure I was accurate. I was not swimming with all out exertion. I was giving an effort close to what I would give for a 1.2 mile swim during a race.

Little bit of background: As we all know I’m fairly slow but I can get it done. I’ve been working all winter improving my stroke technique and nothing else regarding swimming. Although improved speed is a benefit of improved technique, my main goal was technique.

A little more background: This is my information that is in the books. Granted, open water swimming is different from doing laps but you will get an idea of my progress.

My first triathlon in 2009: Average 4:23/100 yds
Sprint tri in July 2010: Average 3:06/100 yds
Olympic tri in August 2010: Average 2:59/100 yds
Rev3 Half Iron tri in Sept 2010: 3:29/100 yds

That last one resulted in a 1.2 mile swim of 1hr 7 min.

Drum roll please:

I was swimming between a 2:07/100 yds and a 2:09/100 yds the entire workout (1500 yds yesterday). That is nearly 1 minute off my average – for 100 yards. What does that translate to? As long as I can maintain that pace – and I plan to – My swim for 1.2 miles would be around 43 minutes.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The ABC's of Me

I guess I'm jumping on the bandwagon. I figured why not.

A~Age: 44 in June

B~ Bed Size: King – I’m a sprawler

C~Chore you hate: Yes

D~Dogs: Disclaimer: These are the express opinions of this writer and is not meant to insult anyone. Please take the following statement for which it was intended - humor. This writer is not a fan of dogs. Thank you for your support. OK now that that is said. I say – Dogs. I love dogs. They taste like chicken.

E~Essential Start your Day Item: Hard boiled egg. Oatmeal. Hot tea. I do not like coffee.

F~Favorite Color: Blue, but I like pink too. As the only female in my household, I wear pink to remind myself that I’m a girl.

G~Gold or Silver: Definitely gold. The more the merrier.

H~Height: 5 ft. 8 in. and I’m the short one in my family.

I~Instruments you play: None. I used to take piano lesson in the 3rd and 4th grade. I can still play ‘All the girls in France do the Hoochi Coochi Dance’ song. Now that is talent I’m telling ya.

J~Job Title: Senior Loss Prevention Consultant. I guess this means I qualify for discount coffee at McDonalds. If only I liked it

K~Kids: Two boys, 13 and 10

L~Live: Cleveland, Ohio area

M~Mom’s Name: Emily, or MOE as some of her mail says. OK – now say each individual letter M—O—E and you will know what I mean. A telemarketer with bad hearing heard her wrong.

N~Nicknames: None. I guess I’m not a nick namey type person.

O~Overnight Hospital Stays: When I had my kids, and when those kids were in the hospital.

P~Pet Peeve: People who pronounce nuclear – NEW-CUE-LER. It is NEW-CLE-ER

Q~Quote from a Movie: "Its so fluffy" Despicable Me

R~Right or Left Handed: Right, but I’m left eyed. Makes it hard to shoot a rifle – and a camera for that matter.

S~Siblings: Two brothers (see favorite color and why I wear pink)

T~Time you wake up: 6am

U~Underwear: Neeeeeext

V~Vegetable you Dislike: Brussel Sprouts

W~What Makes You Late: My children – what else.

X~X-rays You’ve had Done: mostly just teeth at the dentist

Y~Yummy Food you Make: Cookies and cakes. I’m a great baker. I made my brother’s wedding cake (see above. It tasted even better than it looked. At Christmas time I routinely make 40-50 dozen cookies. They are all fabulous. I give most away as gifts.

Z~Zoo Animal Favorite: Giraffe – they seem so elegant and peaceful.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Swimming lesson update

So I’ve been taking swimming lessons the last couple of months. Let me tell you – I’m a different person (swimmer). My swim coach is Leah Nyikes at www.liquidlifestyles.com. She is awesome and I have learned so much from her it is unbelievable. I still haven’t timed myself but I can tell I’m getting faster – just from sheer efficiency. I know this because I have usually been the fastest swimmer at the pool in the last month. That was typically not the case in the past. I will time myself soon and post it here when I do.

My biggest problem lately has been finding a pool to work out. I have access to 4 (yes 4) pools within my scope of travel. Granted, one is the Lakewood YMCA, where I take my lessons – it is slightly out of my normal drive pattern (20 miles) – but I have to go where the lessons are! That pool is spectacular. It is new and has dedicated lanes for lap swimming and is maintained at about 86-87 degrees. I like it like that. However, going there more than once a week is not practical. The other three are much closer. However, I am having recurring problems:

1. Bally’s Beachwood – 0.1 miles from my office and the one I swim in nearly every weekday at lunch. It has been hovering around 72-73 degrees. The idiots at the front desk keep telling me it is at 82 degrees and no one else has been complaining. Yeah right. That’s because there is no one else in the pool but me.

2. Bally’s Willoughby – 3 miles from my house and on my direct route to work. As an alternative to freezing to death, I started going here either before or after work. Its not ideal because its more crowded, but oh well. Anyway I get there one day and the water is green. It was so green I couldn’t see the bottom of the pool. So yes – I’m saying I went swimming in it anyway. At least it was warm. I held my mouth close so tight I got a cramp in my jaw. I also showered so long afterwards washing everything 2-3 times I determined it wasn’t worth it.

3. YMCA Willoughby – 2.5 miles from my house. It was warm – fantastic. It was crystal clear – wonderful. It had 7-8 people doing circle swimming per lane. There are only 2 lanes for circle swimming. Crap! It was my only choice. This has been the best alternative to being a popsicle or an algae parade. It also only has lap swim form 5-7am; 11-12am; and 9-10pm. The rest of the time the pool is used for classes. Gee those times are almost convenient.

So what would your choice be: big commute, freezing, green or overcrowded?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yea Florida!

Yeah, I know, its been a while. My only excuse is I was out of town on vacation for a week and I was inundated with work when I got back. Sometimes vacation is no vacation. The good news is I went to Orlando with my family (my parents have a condo in Orlando) and got to escape the horrible weather in Ohio for 8 glorious days. It was a little chilly in FL - but when I say chilly – I mean upper 60’s and lower 70’s. We went to the both the Disney parks and Universal Studios. Everyone was most excited to see the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter.’ It is everything it advertises and more. I’m not even a Harry Potter fan and it was amazing. We rode ‘Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.” For those of you that have been there before it is kinda like Spiderman. Yes - the picture above shows a 10 minute wait for the ride. Incredible - I know.

I am seriously prone to motion sickness and that ride kinda did me in but it was worth it. I just have a question for BDD – do I qualify for a pukie if I ran the fastest mile of my life toting a 25 lb. backpack with water and snacks – to beat the line at this ride - only to toss my cookies after it was done? I think I should because it was truly a sprint to beat out everyone to get to that line. Anyway - just saying.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Here We Go Steelers, Here We Go

I grew up 30 miles from beautiful downtown Pittsburgh and all I know is the Steelers. As a little girl I knew the starting line up of every Steelers team for years. The Super Bowl and winning is all I knew growing up. Now that I live in Cleveland, OH, for the most part I keep my love of the Steelers under wraps. I have one shirt, one sweatshirt and jibbits on my crocs, but that is it. I will not be doing anything beneficial to my triathlon training between 6pm and 10 pm this Sunday evening.

The following is an interesting article I read in the Cleveland Plain Dealer last weekend:

There are XLV reasons to be interested in the Steelers-Packers Super BowlPublished: Saturday, January 29, 2011
By Tony Grossi, The Plain Dealer

Keith Srakocic / Associated Press

Green Bay still calls itself "Titletown, U.S.A.", but it's the Steelers who have more Lombardi trophies than any other NFL team.

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Super Bowl XLV, featuring bedrock NFL franchises Green Bay and Pittsburgh, is being touted as one of the sport's greatest championship matchups. What a way to kick off a work stoppage.

The game will be played next Sunday in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Because of temporary seating and standing room areas, the game is expected to break the Super Bowl attendance record of 103,985.

Analysts are predicting the game will also attract a record viewing audience and top the 153.4 million total viewers of last year's game, which was the most watched television event in history.

To get a jump on the game, here are 45 interesting tidbits about Super Bowl XLV.


1. The Super Bowl trophy is named after Vince Lombardi, who became a legend as coach of the Packers from 1959-67 and died in 1970. The team that has won the most Lombardi trophies is the Steelers (six).

2. The Packers won nine NFL championship titles before the Super Bowl was born for the 1966 season, then they won the first two AFL-NFL World Championship Games before it was renamed the Super Bowl. They have three Super Bowl titles overall.

3. The Steelers are 6-1 in seven Super Bowl appearances. The Packers are 3-1.

4. The Steelers' 33 postseason wins are tied with Dallas for first in history. The Packers' 28 are third. Green Bay's .636 win percentage in postseason games (28-16) ranks No. 1 in the league. Pittsburgh's .623 (33-20) is second.

5. As the NFC's No. 6 playoff seed, Green Bay defeated the top three seeds on the road -- Atlanta, Chicago and Philadelphia -- to get here. The last team to win the Super Bowl after winning three playoff games on the road was Pittsburgh in 2005.

6. The Packers and Steelers have co-existed 78 years. (The Steelers were the Pirates until 1940). This is their first meeting in a postseason game.

7. The Packers have 21 players and coaches in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Steelers have 18, including current defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and chairman emeritus Dan Rooney, the current U.S. Ambassador to Ireland.

8. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger can join elite company if he wins his third Super Bowl. Only Terry Bradshaw, Joe Montana, Tom Brady and Troy Aikman have at least three Super Bowl wins in their careers. Brady, who is still active, is the only one not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

9. Roethlisberger's 10-2 (.833) record as a starting quarterback in the postseason ranks second in history to former Packers QB Bart Starr (.900, 9-1).

10. Roethlisberger wears No. 7 and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers wears No. 12. The last time opposing QBs in a Super Bowl wore those numbers was in the 1999 game when Denver's John Elway (7) opposed Atlanta's Chris Chandler (12).

11. Packers fullback John Kuhn earned a Super Bowl ring on the Pittsburgh practice squad after the 2005 season. He could become the 48th player to win a Super Bowl with more than one team.

12. Steelers linebacker James Harrison was the NFL defensive player of the year for 2008, the last time the Steelers went to the Super Bowl. Packers cornerback Charles Woodson was the NFL defensive player of the year for 2009. Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III is a leading candidate for the award this year.

13. Matthews is the son of former Browns linebacker Clay Matthews and is the third generation of his family to play in the NFL. Grandpa Clay, 83, was a defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1950s.

14. Steelers safety Troy Polamalu has celebrated shoulder-length hair that earned him a lucrative marketing deal with Head & Shoulders shampoo. Matthews has shoulder-length hair and earned a lucrative deal with Suave shampoo.

15. The Packers have nine players who played for Mid-American Conference schools. The Steelers have six.

16. Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham was on the Browns' roster for one month in spring of 2010. One day at an organized team activity practice, he missed three field goals in a row.


17. Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, 38, is the youngest coach to take his team to a Super Bowl twice. He won at age 36. The next-youngest winning coach was Jon Gruden, 39.

18. Green Bay's Mike McCarthy is a native of the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

19. McCarthy was 38-26 in his first four seasons as Packers coach and reached the Super Bowl in his fifth season. Former Packers coach Mike Holmgren was 38-26 in his first four seasons and reached the Super Bowl in his fifth season. McCarthy is 4-2 in postseason games. Holmgren was 6-3 prior to his first Super Bowl.

20. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers held the same job with the Steelers from 1992-94.

21. Packers outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene played with the Steelers from 1993-95.

22. Packers quarterbacks coach Tom Clements is from McKees Rocks, Pa., and coached with the Steelers from 2001-03.

23. Packers secondary-safeties coach Darren Perry played for the Steelers from 1992-98 and coached for them 2003-06.

24. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau coached defensive backs for the Packers from 1976-79.

25. Steelers assistant coaches Bruce Arians, John Mitchell and Keith Butler formerly coached with the Browns.

26. Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner is the son of former Browns cornerback Ross Fichtner and was born in Cleveland.

27. Steelers defensive end Nick Eason is making his second Super Bowl appearance since leaving the Browns following the 2006 season.


28. The Steelers ranked first in fewest points and fewest touchdowns allowed. The Packers ranked second.

29. Both teams play the 3-4 defensive system, making it the first Super Bowl to match two 3-4 defenses.

30. The Packers led the NFL in holding opposing quarterbacks to a composite passer rating of 67.2. The Steelers were second at 73.1.

31. The Steelers and Ravens tied for the league lead by yielding five rushing touchdowns. The Packers were next with six.

32. The Steelers were first in sacks with 48. The Packers were second with 47.

33. The Packers led the league with 91 projected games missed by injured starters. The Steelers were third with 51 games lost.

34. The Packers did not lose a game by more than four points and never trailed by more than seven points all season.

35. The last time the teams met was on Dec. 20, 2009, in Pittsburgh. The Steelers won, 37-36, as the teams combined for 1,011 total yards.

36. The Packers had six players selected to the Pro Bowl. The Steelers had four. Neither team's quarterback was selected.

37. The Steelers were 4-2 against common opponents. The Packers were 3-3. Both teams lost to the New England Patriots. The Browns beat the Patriots.

38. The Steelers have 15 players on their Super Bowl roster 30 years old or more. The Packers have eight. The Browns had 19 last year.

39. The Packers' NFC championship season began with a 27-24 loss to the Browns in the first exhibition game.


40. The Terrible Towel, created by former Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope, made its debut at a playoff game in 1975. Since 1997, the Terrible Towel has been made by McArthur Towel and Sports based in Madison, Wisc. The company is rushing to produce a batch of Titletown Towels to honor the hometown Packers.

41. Packers fans wear Cheesehead hats, which were first made in 1987 by Foamation, Inc., of St. Francis, Wisc.

42. The Packers are the only community-owned franchise in American professional sports with more than 112,000 shareholders. Subsequent to their existence, the NFL passed ownership rules that prohibit more than 32 owners of a club and mandate at least one hold at least 30 percent ownership.

43. The Packers are designated the home team and will wear their green jerseys. The Steelers will wear white jerseys, just as they did when they won the Super Bowl title following the 2005 and 2008 seasons.

44. With a population of 101,412, Green Bay is the smallest city with a major professional sports franchise. There will be more people in Cowboys Stadium for the Super Bowl.

45. Ticket prices for Green Bay's first appearance in Super Bowl I were $12, $10 and $6. Ticket prices for this year's game are $1,200, $900, $800, $600, $350 and $200.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Real Swimming Lessons

OK. So I’ve been taking swimming lessons. Real swimming lessons. I just was not getting what I needed from videos on YouTube :-) Holy cow - what a difference. Clearly my form was awful. I wasn't keeping my head down, the timing on my arms were completely off, I wasn't rotating my hips as much as I should, the timing on my breathing was off.... About the only thing I am doing right is bilateral breathing. I learned to do the 2-beat kick yesterday. Yikes-that was way harder than I thought. I gotta practice that - a lot! I was getting the hang of it by the end of the lesson but the first time I tried it I'm sure I looked hilarious. However, I am getting better. My stroke count started at 19-20 stokes/25yds and is now down to 16 consistently and I feel less tired because I'm doing less work.

I like the class so much. It is what I have needed for a long time. I almost feel as if I wasted last year swimming the wrong way. I guess if I can make the swimming cutoff with the wrong technique then I can only improve my time with an improved technique – right?

Also because I want to win a Garmin 310XT, I’m mentioning the following blog:


Go there if you want to register to win too.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Absolutely Epic 1974 Letter From Cleveland Browns to a Fan

I saw this in the local newspaper yesterday and thought it was hilarious. I doubt many letters like this are sent out nowadays.

In November of 1974, a Browns fan and season ticket holder sent a letter to the team regarding a concern of his.

The Cleveland Browns (specifically, their general counsel) sent back an absolutely epic response.

Here are their two letters:

If that's not clear, here's the transcribed text:


I am one of your season ticket holders who attends or tries to attend every game. It appears one of the pastimes of several fans has become the sailing of paper airplanes generally made out of the game program. As you know, there is the risk of serious eye injury and perhaps an ear injury as a result of such airplanes. I am sure that this has been called to your attention and that several of your ushers and policemen witnessed the same.

Please be advised that since you are in a position to control or terminate such action on the part of fans, I will hold you responsible for any injury sustained by any person in my party attending one of your sporting events. It is hoped that this disrespectful and possibly dangerous activity will be terminated.

Very truly yours,
Roetzel & Andress
By Dale O. Cox

And here's the Browns response:

The transcribes response:

Dear Mr Cox:

Attached is a letter that we received on November 19, 1974. I feel that you should be aware that some asshole is signing your name to stupid letters.

Very Truely Yours,
Cleveland Stadium Corp.
James N. Bailey
General Counsel

cc: Arthur B. Modell