Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Hooker (and not the rugby kind)

Last Saturday I went to the latest Pink Kitten showcase. For once I wasn't performing but sitting in the audience and watching the rest of the girls perform.

Since it was one of those rare occasions when I go out for the evenings I spent most of the day trying to figure out whether I should go with a tunic style dress and leggings or my short purple dress. Despite the fact that I'd been leaning towards the more informal outfit I ended up going with the purple dress.

After sorting out my hair and make-up and slipping into my outfit I took one look at myself in the mirror and thought "OMG, I look like a hooker". Now that probably wouldn't have been a bad idea but the area where the studio is located, although really close to the city centre, is not far from some rough areas. Also as I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to get into the building when I arrived there was the possibility that I'd be stood around outside on the street corner waiting for them to open up. Oh well, what's the worst that could happen. Its not like I'd dozens of guys walk past me while I was waiting.

Er, well yes actually or more accurately 4 guys as I was waiting outside, another half dozen as I walked back to my car rather that stand around outside and another bunch as I was getting back into my car and sitting in it waiting. Typical.

On the plus side I did notice one guy checking me out as I was getting back into the car.

On the plus plus side I wore a pair of stilettos to go somewhere for the first time and I didn't break a leg while doing so. You never know I just might get used to wearing drop dead sexy shoes at some point.

You can't see the shoes in this shot but they are about a 3 inch heel. In the end I decided not to wear the jacket and wore something a bit longer.

Eventually I managed to get into the venue, there had been a bit of a delay due to some technical problems and the final rehearsals taking a bit longer than planned.

As usual the show was a mix of burlesque and pole dancing. One of the Pink Kitten teachers that runs hula hoop classes performed and her act was amazing. In fact all of the acts were superb. L, who I've known pretty much since I started burlesque and have worked with a number of times in the past during classes and when preparing for shows and performances, performed a truly amazing routine based on a robot. I'm so glad that I got to see her performed as its something she's been working on for a while.

It was a change to be in the audience and not back stage or on stage. However, it did make me keen to develop some more routines and to be up in front of the audience next time. I'm not sure that I'll have something ready for the next show which is in August I believe but I will have something ready for the Halloween show. With a bit of luck I'll even be fresh back from my first paying gig by then.

Whatever, happens I do know that I wont be wearing a dress or skirt that short to go to places where I might have to hang around on a street corner in future.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Half an Outlaw

Last weekend we traveled to Nottingham so that I could take part in the inaugral Outlaw Half triathlon. Its going to be my last triathlon for a while. The next one that I do will probably be next year and its most likely that it will be the Outlaw Half again.

Apologies for the long post, it was a long day if not weekend. I've included a couple of pictures of me and also a link to the video of me finishing the race.  Its not very often that you'll see pics of me without make-up while doing insane exercise. I also try to avoid including pictures of my family, especially my son so this is one of those rare occasions. Skip to the bottom if you want to see me after a day out in the sun.

Last weekend was fun, if hard.

Our arrival at Holme Pierrepont, which was hosting the race, provided an interesting highlight to the weekend.
As I'm pre-op at the moment and, at least to me, still look masculine without my make-up I'd decided that I was going to race under my birth gender. Still to avoid any confusion I'd shorted my first name to Jen when I'd entered.
On arrival we made our way straight to the registration tent. I found my race number and we joined the queue.
Now I should point out that I'd traveled as Jen and not as my old self, because I have no idea in his name anymore, even my British triathlon membership shows me as female.
After queuing for a few minutes it was my turn to register. I gave the woman that was taking names and crossing them off a list my name. She looked at me, looked at the list and the details and said "I'm not sure why you've been put in this group". I was down to start in the second men's wave.
She was looking at me and simply seeing a woman. Result!!!
Of course I had to break the moment in case she decided to swap me to another wave so I simply replied "I'm transsexual". She simply crossed my name off the list and gave my name and number to the next person in the registration process.

The hotel we were staying at we've used before, its about 20 minutes drive away so we headed there and tried to check in. This is where we hit our first snag. The manager that was dealing with us took my name, looked it up, asked for the confirmation email and then asked if we had had someone else check in earlier. Well there was only the 3 of us so no.
It seemed that there had been a mix up and someone with the same surname and initial as me had checked in and been given our room. As we'd needed a twin double room they now had a problem because they didn't have any other rooms like that available. The manager tried to find us a two rooms with a interconnecting door but he couldn't manage that so we ended up accepting an upgrade to an executive room with a folding bed for our son to sleep on. It was only for one night after all.

Rather than eat at the hotel, which we know is expensive and doesn't have a wide variety of things my family will eat we popped to a Harvester restaurant about 100 yards away and had a relaxing meal there.

The rest of the evening passed quietly and we were in bed early due to needing to be up at 4:30am.

Sunday dawned a little bit overcast and after a quick bite to eat and drink we checked out and made our way back to Holme Pierrepont. Even at that early hour there were lots of people around, whether competitors or spectators. I set up my gear in transition and got into my wetsuit.

All too soon the first wave of swimmers had gotten underway. As soon as possible I got into the water and proceeded to do a quick warm up and get my face used to the water. I was pleasantly surprised as the water was quite warm and so I was ready for the swim to get underway.

At 6:38 my wave started, I hung back a bit to allow other people to get off and then started my own swim. With plenty of space and lot clear water around me I had a good swim, not fast but uneventful. 56 minutes later I was climbing back out of the lake and making my way to my bike.

A quick change, suntan lotion smothered all over my face and shoulders and away I went. L, who does my laser, and all those people that have told me that I should wear suncream when I turn up with a bright red face would have been proud of me. I just wished that I'd remembered to do my legs as well. The white feet and ankles and white top of thighs with a large red area between them is so not a good look. Bare legs for the entire week!!!

The 56 mile bike leg was mostly flat. There was a combination of completely closed, open and managed roads along the route which made it a very safe and enjoyable ride. There is only one real hill on the course and I've cycled up worse around where I live so it didn't worry me. The downhill sections were fun as I managed to pick up speed, I even managed to get down into the drops on my racing bike for some decent stretches, which is something I don't normally do at home.

There was only one real incident on the bike and that happened at the second feed station. At the first feed station I'd stopped to use the facilities and as a result had grabbed a bottle of energy drink while I was off the bike. At the second station I decided that I'd try something I'd not practiced before and grab a bottle while still moving. Well they say never do something in a race that you've not tried in training. I learned that the hard way.
I took the bottle from the lady holding it out, lost control of the bike and then my balance and realised that I was going to end up in a heap. The bike was heading towards the grass verge opposite and there was nothing I could do to stop it with one hand full with a bottle. Down I went in a heap on the grass in full view of everyone.
One of the guys came over to make sure I was OK and help me up. The woman that had handed me the bottle was apologizing so I told her it was my fault for trying to take the bottle without stopping. After reattaching the chain on my bike to the front set of cogs I was able to get started again. The rest of the ride was a bit painful as my left hand and wrist were sore. A week on and my wrist is still sore so I think I managed to sprain it.

Back at Holme Pierrepont I was just under two minutes over 4 hours for the bike, which for me is amazing as it has to be the fastest that I've ever cycled that distance in my life.

The run section was an out and back course along the river Trent and around the lake we'd swum in that morning. On my first lap there was a lot of people heading in the both the same and opposite directions to me. On the second lap there was a lot less people but I knew I wasn't the last person because I could see people heading out as I was heading back.

On the day I'd race under the Pirate banner. On the run course there were 5 Pirates that had set up camp at a spot where they could see people going past. Their support was amazing and a real boost when it was needed. I saw a few other Pirates during the run and said hello to each. One of the other Pirates was at one of the feed stations on the lakeside and I spoke to her briefly.

After 7 hours and 49 minutes of swimming, cycling and running (and yes walking) I finally approached the finish chute. My son was waiting just before it and I was able to grab his hand and the two of us made our way down to the finish and through the finishing tape that was being held up for those of us that weren't coming through in a mass group.

In all the races that I've down that was the first time that my son has crossed the line with me and it was one of the proudest moments in my life.

It was a hard day but one that I'm glad I experienced because even though my training this year hasn't gone to plan I still managed to get a good time, in fact it was almost an hour quicker than my previous attempt at the distance. Who knows, with some focused training I might be able to do even better still. In fact I know I will.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Having fun

Yesterday I finally made the decision that I was going to pull out of the race that I'd been aiming for since the end of last year.
I'd been so focused on things on achieving goals and completing races that I'd forgotten one of the most basic reasons that I run, swim or even cycle (although I'm still working on that one). Yes I do them to keep fit but I also do them because I enjoy them and want to have fun.

The last 6 months I've been beating myself up because I should have been training 6 days a week and although throughout December I managed that in January the weather made getting out and cycling more difficult and I missed some sessions.

In February when I started working at our Malvern office I wasn't able to do the training I needed because of not realising how near the swimming pool was to the hotel and not taking my bike with me (although cycling the roads around Malvern in the dark wasn't something I would have contemplated at the time anyway) left me with just running as an option. With 3 days left when I was back home in Yeovil there was a lot of pressure on me to get complete training sessions.

The closer I've got to the race the more stressed out about it I've become. I know that my fitness levels are at the point where I can complete a race up to half Ironman distance , which I'll be doing next weekend. However, between knowing that I've only done a fraction of the training I needed, breaking my toe and still not being confident enough in my cycling ability, my motivation has taken an enormous dive.

Its not just the race though. There are other things that I've not been doing recently, I've not been going to church on Sunday evenings, partly because my son has stopped going to his group but also because the service that I was going to is one that although I enjoy it, is too formal for me.

Burlesque has also taken a bit of a backseat. I have several routines I want to develop and I just don't have the time to do that either.

All in all although life is OK, transition is going fine, work is not overly taxing at the moment but I'm enjoying being back at our Yeovil office, there is something that I'm missing and that's having fun. I want to have fun back in my life.

So after next week I'm going to put my sporting ambitions on hold. If I want to swim, run or cycle (which I still plan on doing a couple of times a week) then I'll go out on the spur of the moment with no set plan for what I'm going to do. If I'm awake at 5 in the morning and the sun is shining then I'll get my bike out and go for a ride. I'm going to work on developing that balloon strip routine to the Beep Beep song by the Playmates and the Diamond Heist routine to Stand and Deliver and I'm going to start going to the Sunday morning church service once more.

Having fun and getting back in touch with the reason I do things is the priority right now, something that I'd lost sight of.

So here's The Playmates with Beep Beep.

And Adam Ant with Stand and Deliver

Feeling vulnerable

Last Sunday I took part in the Outlaw Half triathlon in Nottingham. The weather was better than it has been for ages, blue skies, hot weather. A perfect summer day.
Of course when you are spending 4 hours cycling in bike shorts and you haven't applied suncream to your legs, are fair skinned then there's a very good chance that you are going to end up with sunburn. My legs were a lovely shade of red from where my shorts ended to where my cycling socks started.

Normally when I go to work I wear tights, regardless of whether I'm wearing a skirt, dress or trousers. With sore legs that's just not possible. So this week for the first time I've gone into work without tights. In fact to try and make things easier on my legs I've even worn skirts with bare legs.

Over the last few days I've been aware of the bare legs under my skirts. Today as I was driving to work something that had been slowly sneaking up on me over the last 3 days finally dawned on me.

With no tights on, the only thing that was between what I have between my legs and the outside world is the material of my underwear. This morning I was painfully aware of just how little that actually is.

We've all heard how guys wanted to get into girls knickers, well this morning I realised just how little protection they provide us. It made me realise just how vulnerable we are if someone wanted to take advantage of us. I realised just how vulnerable women can feel, especially during summer time when the weather and fashion can mean that we wear items of clothing that really don't offer us much protection if someone wanted to take advantage of us.

Shorts and trousers, even a pair of tights afford us with more protection simply because they deny easy access to parts of our bodies.

When I lived as a male I never experienced that sort of sensation or sense of being vulnerable because the clothes I wore provided me with a degree of protection, as did the fact that I was seen as a male.

Living as a female I'm beginning to understand just how vulnerable we can be.

Perhaps I should invest in some protection like these chaps are wearing

Or alternatively go for something a bit more futuristic