Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Let it snow

Happy almost new year!!
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's almost New Years

...and I still have a lot to do in THIS year! In party prep mode, while conference calling and getting the 2009 races all lined up.

Gatorade sponsorship application officially went out this AM and getting a roll on the others. Nice to check things off that looming to-do list! Love that new Gmail add on, but I can always see it's looming orange glow in the corner of my screen, reminding me to stop checking facebook status updates and get back to work!

The workout plan for the week is running heavy and I'm trying to build up to running 6-7 days a week. Had a fun run yesterday and will have an even better one today in my new Bear Naked, Patagonia down vest! Sweet!!

There is a 90 minute ride on my schedule for today in addition to the run, core and plyometrics, but it may end up being a roller ride. It is freakin' freezing outside... though Sam rode his motorcycle to work this AM, so I shouldn't be such a baby.

Tonight is another round of Texas hold'em and Rockband. Am I in for another Texas style a$$ kicking?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Skype, Webcams and other technological fun

I should start all of this off by saying that I love my blackberry - it has served me well in various places and is super easy to use. That being said, I'm debating about becoming an Iphone user. I have a few needs that cannot be met by my humble blackberry Curve. Maybe it's the farting application that is now available, but dammit if I can't get my mind off all of the incredible features of the iphone!

With Spain fast approaching, I've been debating as to whether I should keep my blackberry and just add the international calling application for $5 (making my phone calls 1 dollar a minute) versus a new iphone that has wifi capabilities. My other option (that I am leaning towards) is bringing my laptop that has wifi and hooking up a Skype system w/ webcam. Skype-to-Skype calling and video calling is free.

UPDATE ***

In the short time I spent blogging/preparing for my run/researching Skype - I just purchased 2 Skype headsets. Still researching the webcams - any recommendations or suggestions are greatly appreciated as I have no clue what I'm doing with all of this!

Lots of fun news to come on my Earth Day 10k and 1/2 Marathon race. Check out www.endureitmultisports.com for more details and reg page. Lots of cool stuff happening with that race!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yes, I am supposed to be training (and blogging)

Howdy y'all! Hope everyone had a fantastic holiday - my apologies for the blogging hiatus. Thank you for the emails asking for updates - all is well here!

The past few days have been a whirlwind of visits, car rides and lots and lots of cookies. Tonight I opted out of a family dinner to get some alone time at home - do laundry, clean the apartment, pay bills - all that fun stuff.

That careful balance of social life and training that I strive to maintain tipped entirely in favor of social events and I'd like to say I'm upset for missing workouts, but the energy I didn't expend working out was put to good use meeting new people and exploring new places.

On Tuesday night my very good friend Annie Rogers and her boyfriend, Jamie, came into town all the way from South Dakota. We headed out for a multiple-hour snowshoe hike and then went into town for dinner. Hilarity ensued.

At the last minute, Sam and I changed our plans and headed up to New Hampshire together to visit his family just outside Exeter. We arrived late and unfortunately Luna was not interested in letting us sleep in. We spent the day (Christmas Eve) bopping around Portsmouth - one of the cutest towns I've visited. It's like a mini, friendlier Boston. We drank coffee, window shopped and grabbed some last minute gifts before Christmas eve Mass - yes, I may be a Jew, but there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to sing!

That afternoon, I dragged the boy out for an hour run. He is seriously mister fitness - the boy hasn't worked out (he's in the off season) and has not run in who knows how long, but he def. put the hurt on me!

After mass (and an incident where a parishioner queried as to why I was not kneeling - "I'm Jewish") we made our way to the first of several holiday parties. It was a lot of fun getting to see Sam's hometown, the house he grew up in and hear stories of childhood debauchery straight from his best buds.

Christmas morning I found that Santa loves the chosen people too, as he brought fun presents and a stocking full of goodies - and no coal, thank you very much. After presents I took the dog for a short run around town and we piled in the car: Jersey bound.

Amazingly, Sam's family lives in the town where my Mom and Dad grew up - just wild. We recently moved my Grandma out of her house and into an apartment here in CT and it brought back a lot of memories being in her neighborhood. Christmas dinner, playtime with baby Liam and a yankee swap (where I scored a sweet Patagonia hat and calendar) made for great memories of a first Christmas experience.

The following day we hung with the fam and took Luna for a walk on a fantastic bike path that meanders along the Saddle River. It was packed with people and just beautiful. On our way home, we got an invite to another party, so we made a detour and met a crowd of ballet dancers for dinner. It was a great event and since there were vegans there, we weren't so out of place being vegetarian.

Saturday brought more fun with Annie and Jamie as it was their last night in town. Annie is my family and no matter how much time goes by between conversations or visits, we pick up right where we left off. We found a few other girlfriends that were in town, so we all met up for dinner. Poor Sam and Jamie were stuck in a country-girls version of Sex and the City.

While I'd love to be hammering my training right now, I think my happiness has a lot to do with how I train and if I like my training. I race happy, I train happy. Had I forced myself to get in the workouts, I would have sacrificed time with the people I really care about and that would have made for some serious resentment against my workouts.

Coach E has been amazingly understanding, though the whip will be cracked after the New Year, I can finally say I'm ready to train. I needed to top off the social tank (it's almost full and I'm sure I'll be fully ready after the New Year's party). Hopefully it can keep me running all year long.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

On the road again

We started in CT, then went to New Hampshire, now we're off to New Jersey. All the excitement is too much for little Luna (seen here napping in the car).
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Merry Christmas

Happy holidays everyone!
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Luna in the snow

Luna LOVES the snow - she went rip-roaring thru it and then would launch off the snow embankments! Here is the happy dog:

Deeper than expected!
A few of the Tarrywile boys enjoying nap time - I believe that is the universal sign for "the party was good"

SNOW!!!!

The first real snow has fallen and I can't think of a better way to welcome Winter (officially starting today!). There is a foot on the ground and it's still falling. The snow started early Friday and hasn't stopped yet.

Friday night, dress up clothes were swapped for winter gear as the Cannondale holiday party morphed into sled-run, mountain bike, anything-you-can-ride-down-the-hill fest! Great times were had by all and the next morning, after breakfast, I peered into the too-quiet living room to see Joey and Bill taking a nap.

Since I as of yet do not own a cross bike, my 3 hour base ride was out of the question, so I emailed with Coach E-Rock and we came up with some winter weather alternatives. I brought my cross county skis with me, but that was a no go, so Sam, Joey and I strapped on snowshoes and went out for about a 3 hour mountainous trek. I didn't think it would be a workout, but I was definitely wrong on that front.

It was a blasts and I'll have to get pictures from the boys to post here. It was beautiful - the woods were silent, except for the sound of the snowfall.

Once home, there was just enough time for a sled run before getting ready for dinner.

Another cozy morning later and I'm back home for a bit. Tonight is the 1st night of Chanukah, so we'll brave the weather again to join the fam for the festival of lights.

Happy Holidays and Happy Winter Solstice everyone!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parties and other fun

It's a fun week and weekend here in Mandy-land! Tonight is the Cannondale holiday party, so last night I helped the boys decorate the house and hang mistletoe EVERYWHERE! YAY!

Training is going awesomely well - I'm just finishing up week 3 of training. I promised Eric I would commit myself completely to his training - he's been a saint and put up with my endless questions. After 2 weeks of getting back into the swing of things, I thought I was geared for a recovery week. Mind you, the recovery week I used to take were 1 workout a day, less than an hour and a full day off. Eric emailed me my plan for this week on Monday morning and as I looked it over, there were still 2 workouts a day plus core and plyometrics. I emailed him immediately : "E, I think I'm supposed to be on a recovery week". As calmly and patiently as ever, E explained to me that he wanted to keep up this fitness momentum, that I'm supposed to do these workouts, stay consistent, but keep everything "guilty easy".

Well, yesterday, I emailed Eric to tell him that my workouts have been going great, I've been sleeping a lot and I'm coming around, despite doing multiple workouts a day. He said it's all about the appropriate level of exertion and he was right.

Yup, I thought I trusted him before, but now I'm an even bigger believer.

Ok, off for a run and swim!

Stay warm everyone!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make your own sunshine

It's been wintery-mix for the past few days here in CT and the view from The Booth House (as the neighbors call it, despite the fact that it hasn't been in that family since about 1812 - the Booth family - the northern, liberal half of the same Booth family that assassinated Lincoln) is one straight from a Christmas card - now all I need is to strap a sleigh to Luna and we'll be a modern day Courier and Ives.

All this Winter chill gets me thinking about warm weather. A few years ago I was finishing up college at Boston University. I finished up a semester early and I remember plotting what I'd do with that extra semester.

When my sister graduated from college a few years before, she wanted a truck and trailer (she's in the horse business). When I graduated, I wanted a trip around Europe - some of it on bicycle. At that time, I was getting ready for my first Ironman in Lake Placid and wanted to get in training amidst the trip. I planned a tour around Italy, Austria and Spain - planning hotel stays, historic stops and finding pools, places to train and people to train with. Some of my favorite and funniest memories were my pool escapades in Vienna! Before planning the trip, I met a man online (that sounds a lot worse than it is) named Andy. He and his wife were living in Southern Spain and beginning to build a triathlon training facility. They came from Northern England and along with their two daughters, agreed that sunny Spain was healthier for all!

Talking and emailing with Andy and his wife, we became instant friends. Andy and Tracy since then, opened their doors to the creation of the Strong Like Bull training camp, now entering it's 3rd year! On these chilly days, I think of their warmth and of the land I call home.

I've always loved Spain - I've traveled there more than a dozen times at this point - all over, but Andalucia, the southern region and its capital city, Sevilla, have me in a spell. Studying Spanish for as long as I can remember, the connection has always been to this small area. Spanish is spoken the world over - in different accents and dialects, and yet none is more beautiful than in that small region. So too are the people, warm and kind - A perfect example is my friend Alf - a flight attendant I became instant friends with on the plane ride home. Alf visits when he flies into New York and I always have a place to stay in Madrid and Granada.

While talking triathlon is a great passion (well, talking in general), talking about Spain, about Spanish history and culture is a pleasure. Getting to share those loves with new groups of athletes every February makes me incredibly happy. Many of our campers travel from CT, NY and MA - places with some of the oldest US history - it always astounds me that our oldest history, is young for many of the places we visit!

I was chatting with a friend the other day about the changes of power in Spain - there was only one time in history when all faiths lived in peace and that was under the control of the Moors. Now there's a thought - live in peace - all faiths, all practices, all walks of life. We all know what happened when the Moors were removed from power - a little movement, called the Inquisition.

It's a good reminder at this time of year - to keep peace in our hearts, no matter what.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Party!

Click HERE for the evite!

Hope you can make it!!

The Holidays

Since I've been listening to endless amounts of holiday music, in between NPR that bookends my day, I've been thinking about the holidays. About what each of them means and about what I want them to mean for me and the people I care about.

Growing up, I was pretty much the only Jew. What always amazed me was that no one knew the major holidays, the pillars of my religion, but everyone knew Chanukah. Now, I love Chanukah - everyone does - but it is not a major holiday. The only reason it gets any attention really is because it falls around the same time as Christmas. Presents are wonderful, but it's always funny to me that people feel it's important to wish me a happy Chanukah.

My Grandmother (on my Mom's side) is without religion - she never saw a place for it in her life. She refuses to send out holiday cards that have anything to do with any holiday - she'll send out Happy New Year cards, which I always love. Send her a card that says "Season's Greetings" and she'll claw your eyes out. The way I feel about the words "Ain't" and "funner" do not even compare to how she feels about "season's greetings".

It's funny how the holidays bring out these parts of our personalities - parts that maybe we should keep to ourselves. Whether it is stress-induced or due to a lack of sunshine, I'm not sure, but I know that I plan to make a concerted effort this season to not let anything get me down. Being surrounded by positive, caring people that are truthful, honest and kind-hearted makes a world of difference.

And that leads me to the things I'm most thankful for:

I'm thankful for my friends and family - this year, you have all shown me that you are in it for the long haul. Your support of me in all pursuits - business and otherwise - means more to me than I could possibly express in words. I'm thankful for my parents who show me every day what love is. Who taught me the meaning of hard work and dedication and are always there for me in good and bad times.

I'm thankful for my boyfriend (yes, Sam, I finally said it - are you proud of me?!) who can make me laugh and has made me believe that I have more to give than I ever thought possible.

I'm thankful for my new home - a space all my own. (and the dishwasher, washer and dryer that are installed in it - hallelujah!)

I'm thankful for my puppy Luna, who is at once the greatest love and pain in the ass of my life.

I'm thankful for my horses - Cass and West - that always remind me of where I've been and where I'm going. They are the best friends - without judgment, always there and always up for some fun.

I'm thankful for my new coach, Eric Hodska, who answers every one of my millions of questions with humor, patience and the expertise only he has.

I'm thankful for Tuesday Night Texas Hold'em, where even if you don't win, you get to be (or at least play) a rockstar.

I'm thankful for my business that has taught me so much and opened so many doors to me and others. The people I work with are not just business contacts, but friends. Being able to do something good for charity and the environment softens the hard edges and stresses that come with the territory of running a small business.

I'm thankful for Ironman - an event and a sport that has added new dimensions to my being.

I'm thankful for my sponsors that will be staying with me for 2009: The Block Island Sport Shop, Cannondale, Xterra Wetsuits, Larabar, Bear Naked, Perfect 3 nutrition and JCT Racing

And mostly, I'm thankful that every January 1st brings the possibility of a new year and a new beginning.

I wish you all every possibly joy these next few weeks and in the new year!

Observation of the day

Rest days go by fast!

Got in a mini visit w/ Sam and the boys last night, I have such a blast with that whole crew - made a yummy meal for the travel-weary.

Now back to more year-end tax work, training and plotting a New Years/House Warming Party...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Pedal On

I headed into the city yesterday afternoon after dropping Luna off for some quality time with her Grandparents. Steph was nice enough to put me up for the night and we went out for a girl-talk filled dinner w/ super athlete, Anna Banana.

While the service was bad, the extra time that the waiter spent hiding was great for extra story telling!

This morning, the alarm went off and Steph and I prepared for a ride with the girl's team. A few of the guys joined us as we headed up Riverside Drive en-route to Nyack and some cycling drill-playing.

First off, I love these girls - we are a diverse group of women (well, the men are diverse too) from all over the world and all over New York. It is so much fun spending time w/ these chicks on and off the bike and I was psyched we could all coordinate schedules for a fun outing.

The goal today was to get comfy riding w/ one another and to do some drills. Mercifully, drills are not particularly taxing as I've been on my bike maybe 3 times since Ironman. Out in Nyack we stopped for coffee and bathrooms with running water. Then it was time to head back into the big city to complete what ended up being a 4 hour ride (granted, some of that was tooling around the field to stay warm during drills).

My voice is hoarse from laughing and chatting against the wind - but today was an awesome day - a fun experience and as someone noted, I'm happier than I've been in a long time and it shows on my face. Could it be that this is a recovery week??!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Idle Hands

What do you do when the boy is away? Spend time with the girls of course!!

This has been a week of girly activities - keeping these idle hands from doing the devil's work! Pretty much, it means getting down to the business of doing my workouts, holiday cards and lots of year end tax work!

Each day this week I had random drop-by visits from friends, family and my sister (well, I guess she falls into the family category). Wedding update - we found her a dress! I can't believe my sis is getting married. I'm just hoping no one will notice that I'm not lining up to get married! I can commit to my training - that must count for something?!

Last night was Holiday in the Depot - my hometown has an event with lots of singing, shopping, food, wine and good cheer. It was a blast to see familiar faces and sing endlessly! I also picked up some hilarious little gifts that I can't wait to give!

This weekend is training, training and more training, but with lots of inapropriate girl fun thrown in. After today's workouts, I'm headed into the city to see Steph and Anna. Tomorrow morning, the women's road cycling team that I was asked to join this year is having a morning bonding session. Riding, gossip, games, coffee and more riding. I love these girls!

Will try to remember by camera!

Somewhere this weekend, I need to make time to make my chocolate truffles! Don't worry, Coach, I won't be eating them myself!

Friday, December 12, 2008

A legend leaves

Sat down with my cup of tea this AM and NYTimes.com - and was saddened to see that a female icon and legend has died. The gorgeous and notorious Betty Page has died. You can read the obituary HERE. She was a phenomenal lady who pushed the envelope - not to mention she spiced up people's lives all over the country during her heyday.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Espana!

Well, y'all - it's that time of year again! Almost time for the Strong Like Bull Spain Training camp!

We filled the majority of the camp spots internally, and now we are extending an invitation to you lucky people! Details on the camp are HERE

Airfare is dropping daily making this trip more affordable than traveling on your own!

Imagine this:

You land in sunny Spain - it is about 75 degrees. A driver picks you up from the airport and brings you to the villa just south of Granada. There you have all the amenities - semi-private apartment, lounge/bar, 3-lane 25 meter pool, hot tub, cold tub, trails to hike and ride and the most beautiful view you've ever seen.

You have a healthy chef that prepares 3 meals a day. You have a lead and follow vehicle and custom designed training rides lasting from 2-6 or 7 hours! You have the option of a morning yoga practice, run and swim.

You have the chance to visit one of the wonders of the world - in a city that dwarfs our oldest history in the US.

We promise the pro-training of a lifetime for all ability levels!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Construction-Disruption

Sorry for the blogging hiatus, y'all! It's always funny to me when people say "it's the busy season" because every season is the busy season! I do have to admit, this year went by incredibly fast!

The past few nights have seen very little sleep - partly due to stress, but partly due to my neighbor who is putting in a new driveway. The tree guys arrived at 6:30 the other morning and were bull-dozing trees behind my house. Yup - right of way means you can kill things for convenience.

I started thinking back to just a few years ago - when I was in college, I didn't even shower and get ready to go out until 10PM. Now, a few nights of going to bed at midnight and I'm burnt toast. When did that happen? When did high schoolers start carrying around blackberries and Iphones? All of this got me thinking about milestones. At 24, I pretty much have 1 birthday milestone coming up, but after that - is 30 as exciting as making it to 16, 18, 21?

With all of that, I decided to start making more milestones. Ironmans count. Time with friends counts. Pillow talk counts. Hopefully, with the help of this self-indulgent medium, I'll be able to keep track of these mini-milestones a bit better.

Doing 2-3 workouts a day in my first 2 weeks back in training is a major milestone! Never done that before and I'm hoping that starting off right will lead to big dividends later on.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Busy little (Mandy) B(ee)

"If I could escape, and recreate a place that's my own world. And I could be your favorite girl, forever, perfectly together, now tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet?

If I could be sweet, I know I've been a real bad girl. I didn't mean for you to get hurt whatsoever, we can make it better, now tell me boy, now wouldn't that be sweet. The sweet escape." - Gwen Stefani



Well, my dear readers, it has been a fun-filled weekend here in Mandy-land! Friday was a night out with family and friends - it's so nice getting to catch up with everyone and I love New Englanders - it doesn't matter the weather, they are game for any outing!

Saturday Sam and I headed out for my longest ride since Ironman. 2 hours followed by a 20-30 minute brick and core work- you may laugh, but it was pushing it! The orders were to find a rolling/hilly course, but keep heart rate low and stay seated on the climbs. After a breakfast that would have fueled me thru a ride 3x as long, we geared up and got on bikes. The night before we ran into Bryan (a Cat 2 cyclist) and he made the comment - "there is no such thing as bad weather if you have the right gear". He was right. The temp didn't break 31, but we stayed toasty.

Heading out of town, there was a trailhead I had spotted the week prior. Bow hunting signs were posted, but it looked like a fun place to explore - I thought it would be dirt road. Mind you, I currently ride a POS road bike for training with the cheapest components you can buy. Sam on the other hand, was riding a brand new super six. A cross racer at heart, there was no way the boy could say no to some off-road adventuring! The "dirt road" ended up being more of a single-track path that traveled along the risers over the housatonic river. It was quiet, windless and just plain gorgeous. I got a taste for cross riding and will def. be racing that next year!

The path popped us out about 40 minutes later onto a dirt road that is a true running mecca. It was fun to bomb down the dirt descents and try to climb out of them w/0 the rear wheel skidding away.

We continued the ride toward Kent, veering off the main road to cross the Covered Bull's Bridge and ride along the dirt road thru the Indian reservation. Refueling on this ride meant stopping for tea and hot chocolate and then riding home the way we came. Amazingly, neither of us got flat tires and it was the perfect workout. I can't wait to run in there!

The transition run went better than expected. My new neighbors are all so nice - I'm known as "pigtails with puppy" and it's awesome encouragement.

After thawing out a bit, we went into the city for the Koru DesigNZ launch party - a fashion and jewelery line started by my cycling teammate and women's team captain, Peta Takai. The C-dale crew rolled mob deep - and after a fun vegetarian pan-Asian dinner, we made our way to the Tribeca bar for the party.

Sadly, I didn't bring my camera for the workouts, but I will post some pictures from the launch party. In the meantime, go visit Peta's website.

Today was a blast - a silent run thru Steep Rock land trust. The snow was still falling hard this afternoon in NorthWest CT - with the elevation, we get more snow than other parts of the state. It was pure joy blinking the snowflakes from my eyelashes and making the only (human)footprints that would appear in Steep Rock today. While it wasn't one of those "effortless" runs, things are certainly getting better after my first week of training.

I'm looking forward to Spain in February, but it's nice to know I can find my own "sweet escapes" right here.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Friday Observation

Today is a great day - Woke up early to walk the dog, hopped on my bike, got tons of work done and will head to the pool soon.

I thought I'd start a little series here - every once in a while - post "observation of the day". It may be more like "wish of the day" or "crabby comment of the day", but just go with it.

Today's observation: I am jealous of Advent Calendars. Yes, I get 8 nights of Channukah, and depending on who I'm dating, I get a Christmas present (Santa loves good Jewish girls) - but I love the idea of counting down days, preferably with pop-open boxes filled with chocolate. New business venture, perhaps?

Ok, so that wasn't so painful - was it?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Shock and Awe

"Grab hold of her feet before she floats of the floor. Before she floats out that door. You want to put her in your pocket." The White Stripes

I emailed coach E-Rock last night... I am to contact him every day - yup, pretty much the coolest thing ever for a hyper-active chatterbox that loves talking tri! On Sunday night Eric sent me my training plan for the week. "Consistency is key this week", he said - yup, got it. I always seem to forget how out of touch my mind is with my body during the off season. My brain says "yes, you can run 18 miles at a 7:02 pace" but my body can barely shuffle thru a 40 minute easy run. "Tune out" He said.

In all honesty, I wasn't sure I'd get in any of the workouts E gave me, but I did as he said, tuned out and just suffered thru. Here we are on day 3. It's been a busy day of moving furniture from storage and getting the house in order - Can't wait for the grand unveiling!
So tonight I got my bike all set up in front of the TV (SO much good tv tivo'd) - I ride for about 30 seconds and my derailer(sp?) cracked clear in half. Yup. Mandy goes boom - thankfully into the plush new (to me) living room set!

So today's workout was fouled up, but I'll get to the shop in the AM and get in a good ride and swim tomorrow and continue with the training plan I'm calling "shock and awe". 50 x 50 - can't wait! Consistency - it's amazing how much we take for granted when we're fit... I know how bad I feel 5 lbs overweight - I can't imagine carrying around any more than that... it makes something challenging that much more so. Then again, I don't do this stuff because it's easy - I do it because I love the challenge, I love to push, I love to shock and awe (sometimes at Texas Hold 'Em).

Rock on y'all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Me and my buddy

Luna and me after our run today. She immediately retreated to the bedroom for a nap and yes, that's really how big her head is... Just about 10 months and she'll get even bigger.

today was day 2 of my training with coach Eric...wasn't sure I'd get in either workout and did both! And they went well!

Ok, off to play texas hold 'em with 2 pro downhillers - wish me luck!
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Pure Sweet Hell

Yes, this movie rocks - go watch it, and then go ride your road bike (I mean, cross bike) in the mud.

HUGE congrats to someone who I know enjoys that pure sweet hell - Mr. Michael Seiler - the Kentucky cyclocross state champion - WOOT! M also has an awesome blog, not to mention I'm pretty fond of his girls!

Sunday night YUM


It was like the last supper - my training for 2009 officially starts TODAY! That means I'm not only getting off my badonkadonk, but I'm also (ahem) eating healthy. Yes, you may say, you are vegetarian and have a very clean diet - oh, but dear reader, do you know my love for all things sweet, baked and delicious?!

Thankfully, I have been able to pawn off my dessert creations on others - family, Sam and the C-dale crew, the doctors and nurses at the office, the post man (Surprise! There's a cookie in the mailbox for you! He didn't take it the first day, so I put a note on it the day after). Last night I decided I needed a new "decadent/healthy" dessert, so I checked a blog that is fantastic - take a look HERE

Last night we had home-made (by my friend Michael) corn chowder soup, swiss cheese grilled cheese on Newfoundland bread (a whole-wheat, molasses bread - also by Michael), decorative veggies and vegan double-layer pumpkin cheesecake. The meal wasn't all selfish - while I am vegetarian (NOT vegan), my whole family is lactose intolerant - vegan recipes do the trick, esp. when it comes to dessert - though smart balance does make a good substitute in times of need.

While it is definitely not Junior's cheesecake (Gawd I miss Brooklyn) - it was a nice consistency. OH! And I made a granola crust - See E-Rock - I'm trying!

I may or may not have had a slice after breakfast this AM, but mercifully (for my diet that is), I'm getting it out of the house and into someone else's kitchen.

Here are a few pics of the lovely finished product. The lighting makes it look very orange, but it is actually a pretty pale-peach color.

Off for a run and a swim - more on that later!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday top 5

Here's a little list - taking notes from my favorite poet, Todd Colby. You can check out his work HERE. it's a great way to appreciate little things every once in a while.

1. Snow falling softy on a Sunday morning
2. Kona Coffee in my sweet Italian percolator, chased by a cup of herbal tea and hot cider from the farm down the road.
3. Walks with Luna - every day is a new adventure - she can smell the same tree day after day and it's like she's just discovering it.
4. Pandora Radio - www.pandora.com - I can't get enough of this, esp. when NPR turns into crappy talk radio during the day.
5. Worn out zoot ultra sneakers - they are like slippers and I was so excited when I got to retire them!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happy bike

My bike post ride in the guest room (aka the bike room). It feels good to be active again (and burn off some holiday calories). As a vegetarian it's stuffing and pie for days.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Update - everything is ok

Even more to be thankful for today - we heard from Liz and her boyfriend - they are OK.

Many thanks for sending all of your positive thoughts and wishes. Their plans took them elsewhere which may be why the embassy was having so much trouble tracking them down. All of that drama is forgotten now that we know they are ok!

Happy Thanksgiving all and many, many thanks for your love and support.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thoughts and prayers

Today's post was going to be very different, but I wanted to keep you all updated. Today in India there were a number of bombings and specifically, attacks on Americans. American frequented hotels were bombed as were local police stations in what NPR is calling a distinctly plotted attack.

One of the hotels that was bombed was by the Taj Majal - the hotel my sister and her boyfriend have been staying in. We have been unable to reach them or the hotel and the US Embassy has not identified any of the 200 + dead and injured. There is also no information on hostages. Right now my family is waiting, because that's all we can do until the Embassy compiles a list.

Trying to stay positive and hold it together and I will update you all as soon as I find out.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Still beaming after Franti

And I can't stop finding beautiful, positive messages surrounding me. When I train, I connect to nature, I connect to myself. When I'm not training I focus on connecting to others. It's taken just over 3 weeks of off season to begin feeling human again. As we near thanksgiving day, I'm more and more thankful for my friends and family. No matter what path I choose, they are all there to either cheer or strap on their boots and trek it with me. You are all super-fabulous!
In other news, yesterday was a fun day. I met with coach E-Rock in the afternoon and had a great chat about goals, my athletic history, and the most common athletic pitfalls (to which none of us are immune). It was a great chat and the open dialogue between Eric and myself will make this a great coach-athlete relationship. I feel comfortable asking questions and confident in his answers. A few days ago, he asked me to write down a list of goals/points of weakness/etc. At the top of my list was to commit myself completely to his coaching. I've printed out the goals and they are sticking to my fridge. (another goal is about healthy eating - damn you dark chocolate pudding snacks!).

After the meeting, I went to the horse farm to do afternoon chores for my family's 13 horses. As soon as I walk into the barn, I'm greeted by a chorus of nickers. It is the most heart warming, silly sound! It was dark when I arrived, but a lovely and mild 45 degrees outside. I tacked up Little Cass(Casanova, aka the little poe, cass, super little poe, supernova - and so on) and we danced in the moonlight. The sky was clear and the moon shone bright enough to light up the ring. After a bit, I turned on the ring lights and it was a flashback to our days competing on the national and international stage. We spoke silently - a language all our own. He was relaxed and supple and it was one of the most wonderful rides I've had. I retired Cass years ago and yet at 23, he's still as limber, energetic and acrobatic as ever. We mostly trail ride, but every once in a while, I'll bring him back to the ring and we'll pull out all the stops - seamlessly drawing together challenging movements. It is at those moments of perfect harmony I believe I can do anything.

People said Cass and I would never excel in the sports of Eventing or Dressage. He was a pony without papers - no fancy bloodlines to speak of and he is tiny. A little silver being with long white eyelashes. We worked for years, with coaches that believed in us and we believed in ourselves. When we gained recognition, I never said "I told you so". The satisfaction of accomplishment was enough. I want that again.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oh happy day!

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Daily dose of cute

Just another day at the office - with a 110 lb puppy in my lap. Yup - she's 9 1/2 months and getting bigger!

We will make our way to meet coach E-Rock this afternoon.

Congrats to all at ironman arizona! It was a day of PR's! Woohoo!

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Power to the peaceful

Franti was everything I could have asked for and more.
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Friday, November 21, 2008

Day is Dawning

"yonder come day, day is a breakin', yonder come day, oh my soul. Yonder come day, day is a breakin', sun is a risin' on my soul"

My big sister is away in India with her boyfriend (soon to be my brother in law - YAY!), so I've been supervising her students riding and covering her share of barn chores. It's a blast and I'm happiest in the sunshine and around my horses. As Sam found out last night, I'm also happier when I've had something to eat.

In talking to one of the moms, she made a comment - "you are just like that pony of yours - energetic, but laid back - every day is a new day, no grudges, no negativity." It was a nice reminder. The past few months have been tricky - a journey on re-discovering and appreciating all aspects of my life. I think I'm a naturally happy person - I think upsets should be temporary. My family still jokes that I've only been angry 3 times in my life. Which is really true. If I'm angry or upset, it usually lasts 3-5 minutes and then I'm over it. Dwelling on negativity or upset does no one any good.

Years ago, my polar opposite of a sister, gave me a birthday present(now she just gives me presents and attaches what she'd like for her birthday with it - yup, $500 north face coat - hope you are staying warm in India, Sis!). She usually gives a serious and gag gift. The gag gift a few years ago was a self help book called "happiness is a choice". I almost died laughing. An entire book on how to choose to be happy. Might be me, but I feel like happiness isn't some transient thing or even something you can choose or force. It is a state of being - you either are or you are not.

All of this got me thinking on my friends - many of the people that I love the most are complicated personalities. Anna for example - Anna banana aka AnnaChrist is one of the fiercest competitors - angry and intense. She scares people and I love that - yet we get together and the world cannot stop us - or shush us.... not even that angry guy w/ his dowdy wife on the airplane! Anna is confident beyond measure and it's her friendship. The friendships I have that make me confident and happy. Making others happy makes me happy. Waking up to my puppy or a warm smile makes me happy.

So come on day - I can't wait to see what's next.

Oh, and I promise, dear readers, I will start training again soon! I'm sitting down with Coach E-Rock on Monday and you will all get a close look into my 2009 season!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

All I can see is Red

"He's been pretty much yellow and I've been pretty much blue. But all I can see is red, red, red all the time." -Fiona Apple

In my bedroom that is. I just finished painting that room - phewph! 2 more rooms to go. Can't wait for the grand unveiling.

This morning I actually did yoga again. It is the first time in 2 weeks I've done something more than a few dog walks. The body was hurting from all this painting - yes, I am totally pathetic. You won't find me complaining about holding onto my handlebars for 112 miles, but ask me to hold a paint brush for a few days and I'll go on a diatribe about how my hands feel like that of a 112 year old woman.

It's fun to delve into other professions, but man-o-man, am I happy I'm not a painter. I love it and it's satisfying to see my home coming together - happy also to help friends - but it's hard work. messy, fun, hard work.

Luna is a multi-colored dog. A neighbor asked me when I was going to bathe her and I flat out said I was not bathing her until after I was done. 1 more color to go.

This house is happy and bright and every time I look at a room I've finished, I smile. This place is mine. Just mine and I love it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Snuggle time

The weather has turned cold and who better to snuggle with than my little Poe? Training has been put off for another week. Too much fun to be had. Too much work to do and oh yea, I have no desire to ride my bike. Maybe Monday. In the meantime, I'm getting back to discovering my favorite things. It's glorious. .
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Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting back on the healthy eating train.

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It's my race and I'll hawk if I want to, hawk if I want to

Howdy y'all! Well, I'm still not training yet, so I've been filling my time with lots of administrative work. While you plan your race calendars, please consider doing something good for your health, the health of the environment and the local and global community. You can do all of these things at once by supporting the 2009 EndureIT MultiSports Eco-Friendly Charity races.

Here are the dates:

3rd Annual Nutmeg State 1/2 Marathon and 10k Sunday April 26th

9th Annual Lake Waramaug Sprint Tri Friday June 19th

3rd Annual Nutmegman 1/2 Iron Sunday September 20th

Information can be found HERE and reg will open shortly.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Because Michael Asked Me To

Well, that and I owe you all a new blog post. Sorry y'all - being gross makes me giggle... I think that's why miss Kate Seiler and I are such good buds!

So the off season continues with lots of fun and social stuff. I'm painting the new place and that is a chore-and-a-half. 9+ foot cielings and just massive wall space makes for a tough job - that, and the blinding white that is currently on the walls. 3 coats of paint and the white is still showing thru. On my 3rd gallon of paint - goodness! Can't wait for the unveiling when I finish it up!

Last night I met up with my girlfriend, Aubrey. Aubs is an amazing athlete, Ironman and just an awesome chick. She is living with my good friend Ken. Girl's night out meant Ken had to stay home alone, wondering what we were up to. Don't worry Ken, it's not like we were up to any trouble - hah! It was nice to catch up and nourish our friendship - it seems most of the time we see one another we are either doing a race or running one. It was a novelty to sit down and just chat. Well chat AND order dessert - god, I love dessert - dark chocolate mousse - I'm still thinking about it!

More painting and lots of business admin. fun today. Tonight is a Peruvian dinner party - pictures to come!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Your daily dose of gross

While vegging out tonight something fell on the floor. Yup, that would be a big toenail. First time I've ever lost that particular nail...gosh, I used to have pretty feet - now they are just blisters on top of old blisters framed with short toenails. At least they are painted anna-christ fast black!

Someday I'll have pretty feet again, but for now, I'd rather they were tough and always battle ready!
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One for the morning.

Off season means no swimming/biking/ running, but it also means lots of dog walking in the new trails behind our house. Buenos dias!!
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One for the morning.

Off season means no swimming/biking/ running, but it also means lots of dog walking in the new trails behind our house. Buenos dias!!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's you know who!

So as many of you know, I modeled for Cannondale's 2009 catalogue - well, apparently I'm also on the website: HERE

It's fun being in multiple places as the same time... b/c apparently I was also at Interbike for Diadora/Cannondale - tracking down those pictures - will post them soon!!

So this is....

This time of year, I find myself thinking and saying things that begin with the words "So this is....".

For example: "so this is how everyone else eats" or "so this is how it feels to only take 1 shower a day instead of 3". It's a strange sensation and I have to say, I'm happy to have this for about 2 weeks and then get back to crazy athlete land. There are so many projects that I let collect until the off season - painting walls, moving things from storage, getting my year end tax documents ready - getting next year's races ready!

I think with Ironman and long distance racing in general, it is so much of what defines us throughout the year. Social plans are made around workouts (and energy levels). Meals are determined by nutritional guidelines and calorie counts. I forget that not everyone functions and works and lives while training 20-30 hours a week. Granted, my work is very flexible, but it's pretty cool to sit back and appreciate what we all do - riding bikes for hours, running for hours and swimming and being functional people on top of it with families, jobs and time for some fun.

So I'll take another week like this one - my hair is happy to be free of chlorine and my feet, well, those look permanently gnarly, esp. after the double Ironman... pretty feet are on the list of "to-do's". Yes.... before and after pics to come!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rise and Shine

"Sticks and stones have broken my bones
but words hurt even more
and I wonder why
when all I feel is love inside.

So I'll rise,
rise and shine for me." - Poe

It's been a hectic weekend in Mandy-land - lots of fun with new friends. Team Teany is officially united - we have a squad of 10 girls that are going to rock the house this year. We are a CRCA team and so much more. It is a team with a purpose - a team with not just an awesome roster, but an awesome vibe. Supportive spouses and significant others make social visits a blast and it is truly inspiring to be around these strong chicks. Strong in life and strong on a bike.

We have many things in the works - yes, we'll do more than just race - like give back to our sponsors that give to us. Give back to the community in which we live. Give back to one another.

All I can say is I am psyched and for the first time, I can't wait for my off season to be over so I can go train with the team.

On another front - tomorrow is a big step in a new direction - and it feels really good.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Where I lay me down to rest

I am now the proud owner of a queen size bed set! Not too soft, not too hard - just right! Luna is very excited!
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Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Off Season - part I

I've been thinking of posting about my off season - though "thinking" implies that I'm actually able to do so right now. I'm always surprised by my level of fatigue when I actual let myself rest.

It was a post by my friend and mentor, Eric Hodska, that got me thinking of the best ways to describe an off season. Eric is a scientist in a lot of ways - he studies sport, athletes and everything in between. What is great about Eric is, you ask him a question and get a bulleted answer - so thorough and in-depth that he explores avenues you hadn't even thought of. It's pretty cool to call him friend!

Eric breaks down an ideal off season. I definitely agree with his philosophy - though I think some take longer than others to decompress and feel rejuvenated for the next season. My first off season was about 8 weeks long - I had no desire to do any swim/bike/run... over the years, it has gotten progressively shorter, and this year I am trying the 2 weeks totally off then 2 weeks active recovery formula. It's something Jimmy and I discussed last year and yet I still took 4 weeks completely off.

The off season for me ends up being about business - catching up on business and all of the social fun I've missed. This year it means a lot of life changes and I'm hoping the fresh start will be good for all areas of my life.

The off season means fun food, drink, lots of massage/acupuncture, doctors visits and rest. Sleeping as much as I can and just getting the body and mind to come back together. I don't know if it's the intense focus required all year that makes me so mentally useless right now, or what, but the only signals my brain is sending are request for Food, Sleep and - well, let's not go there.

I'll embrace the simple-creature-ness for these 2 weeks, then it's back to life, back to reality.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Oh Happy Day!

Tears of joy and pride filled my eyes when our new president was announced. I can honestly say for the first time in 8 years, I have renewed hope for our country, our world and our future. I'm excited to see our country united again - YES WE CAN!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Homemade apple pie

Seriously yum. Making whipped cream now!
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Proof!

Luna got a bone and a walk out of the deal, not bad!

If you haven't done so already, go vote! Polls are open until 8 PM
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On our way to vote.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

We've only just begun

2008 has been a year of lessons, that's for sure. I've mentioned before that I was thrown for a loop when I qualified in the spring for Kona. Achieving a long-term goal before many of my short term ones left me a bit up in the air. I opted to still race lake placid and I had thoughts of doing florida (both races I signed up for in 2007).

As you all know, I was having the 10:30 day of my life when I was crashed out at mile 86. It was a huge blow to my confidence and it took me a while to climb out of that upset and dissapointment. It was an email from amanda lovato that got me out of the slump. She suggested I try on my big girl undies. I did. They still fit and I toughened up.

Yesterday was an experiment. This year I did 3 ironmans within a 4 month span, 2 of those within 3 weeks. The advice from the coaches? "You've got nothing to lose". I went in with an open mind, hoping for that 10:30 time, but having no real expectations.

When I spoke with Jim today, I said, "well, now we know I can't do ironmans back-to-back". His response: "not yet. Give it a few years". Pretty cool to have someone believe in you like that. I really appreciated that neither John nor Jim told me no - they both supported my desire to try.

I felt great going into this race, snappy, fit and relaxed. Had a great practice swim 2 days before and had a renewed desire to crush it.

Race day came and I was excited but relaxed. Joey was awesome, giving my bike one last tuning and bearing with my pre- race silence - contrary to popular belief, I get quieter, the more focused I get before a competition.

The swim felt better this year than last, still rough, but much more enjoyabe. I knew I wasn't my snappy self when I exited the water in the same time as at hawaii - really slow for me. With a wetsuit and the salt water, I should have been faster, it was a tip off to the day ahead. The bike had a honkin' headwind the whole day. Cheating was rampant and I went back and forth as to whether I should hang with a group or stick to my own race. Each time I thought of sitting in to gain some relief, a ref would come and penalize a peleton of 80 - I took it as a sigfn to stick to the iron-code. The first 40 miles I averaged 22 mph abd I payed for it, blowing up and essentially soft-pedaling until mile 86 when my nutrition (ahem caffeine ahem) kicked in. I picked it up going home and had a camera man eztra for those last 12 miles.

I was happy to be off the bike, very happy. I started into the run and the first 7 or ao miles clicked by slowly , but comfotably enough, it's ironman, it's always painful. Then around mile 9 I began melting down. By mile 11 I was stumbling, then I lay on someone's lawn for a good 20 minutes before getting up and run walking my way to the start of lap 2. I've never had to wlk during a marathon before, not even to throw up. I was in deep trouble. I went into panic mode - ice, gatorade, cola, water, cookies...lots of cookies. I then atarted thinking about everyone that supports me and I vowed to finish. I walked the aid stations, but kept moving forward.

My time was way slower than last year and I was just about 10 percent off where I'd like to have been all day, but some days aren't about pr's or splits, they are about testing your limits and seeing what you can do. I made it to that line and felt better post race than I ever have before.

Now I'll shut things down for a bit and get my 20090goals in order.

Huge thank you's to my coaches Jim ortel and John Hirsch for letting me learn the tough lessons and never limiting me.

My parents - esp my mom who has this ironman thing down.

Joey - my super ninja mechanic - thank you for not getting sick of me - I'm so psyched we're friends and I will def pay your support crew expertise forward. You will rock ironman!!

Thank you to my sponsors: xterra wetsuits, block island sport shop, perfect 3 nutrition, cannondale, louis garneau, bear naked granola, elizabeth braverman horse training.

Many many thnks for your patience and support this experimental season.

Next year def includes st croix, ironman lake placid and plenty of cycling races with my new team...more on that soon!!
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Continuing the tradition with the victory mug

Well, I learned a number of lessons yesterday, more on that later. I didn't post the 10:30 I was hoping for, but I made it to the line. No upset, no disapointment. Thank you for all the support and I'll post the full report later!
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Friday, October 31, 2008

Good night and good luck

In a few hours it will be go time for the 3rd time this year. I'm relaxed, but nervous...the good, excited kind of nervous.

I just talked to the coaches and both said go out and take big risks. I plan to.

Joey has been awesome - mechanic, iron sherpa and exactly the energy I love to have around - super positive...he's def got the iron bug and that's the coolest. Will def have to pay it forward and get a big crowd out for him when he races.

Big thank yous to my friends, family and sponsors:

Jimmy ortel of the bi sport shop, matt dirzius of perfect 3 nutrition, glynn of xterra wetsuits, joey, sam, matt and the whole cannondale crew for not just an awesome bike, but for sending down my own mechanic, larabar for yummy snacks, bear naked that can keep me on the right nutririon plan, elizabeth braverman horse training (happy bday today sis), jh.org for expert coaching even in new territories.

I'll be thinking of you all - kind words and fighting words.

Rrrrawk
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Keep it calssy panama city

Sitting at breakfast, we noticed this gem of a place...
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Thursday, October 30, 2008

And then we got a bonus

Red velvet waffle cake - yea, joey 's got a honey at waffle house...
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Waffle house - an experiment in yum!

Pic is of joey's waffle, as I inhaled 2 of those with a side of scrambled eggs... Yes, ironman panic eating has begun... More later. Just an fyi - joey is awesome... He pulled some super engineer ninja moves to save my necklace from under the boardwalk - rawk!
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Wake up call

White, expansive sand beaches... Yup, pretty much awesome.

Joey and I arrived at the hotel around 1 am and it's off for a practice swim with Maggie, Duffy, Alan Margit and joey then... Waffle House!!!
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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I'm leaving on a jet plane....again.

Tomorrow I fly out for Ironman Florida - my 3rd Ironman start this year and exactly 3 weeks after Kona. I'm feeling good - like rip people's legs off good. I'm relaxed and motivated and it's pretty freakin' cool. I'm going for it - going all out and leaving nothing. I'm going to have my day.

RRRRAWK!!


Luna was a big help packing today. I believe hopping in the bike box is the universal symbol for "don't leave me". I'll miss my girl, but she'll be in good hands.I took her with me for a short run and here we are working on "stay"...
The hydrangea are no longer their brilliant blue hue, but in many ways, I find them just as beautiful this time of year when the petals begin to dry and take on an iridescent pinky/brown hue. I love Fall!
See you all on the flipside. I'll try to get Joey (My super special Cannondale Support crew!) to do some updates for y'all on race day!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Shout out

Got a little press: http://www.rep-am.com/articles/2008/10/20/sports/local_sports/doc48fbd88962d26543346331.txt

Swimmy Time

The Shepaug pool is awesome. It's like open water and heat acclimation training in one place. With no lane lines, the packed pool becomes wavier than any ocean I've swum in. The temp is also turned waaaay up... As sluggish as it can make you feel, it's great training and workouts there seem to fly by. I find just having someone close to me in a pool is enough for me to feel I'm not doing a workout alone.

Keeping as busy as possible lately - which is a good thing. But I'll have to shut things down big time this week and rest up as much as I can for Florida on Saturday.

I have a super fabulous business meeting later and I'll announce all of that excitement soon! And yes, of course it has to do with triathlon!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Fun in the sun

Well, almost - it's not beachy time, but this sunshine today is brilliant. After a great party, this morning led to a fun, social breakfast/brunch. Reliving the nights hilarity in pictures and video. Nice job to my Cannondale boys for a great event. It was nice meeting so many incredible new people and running into old classmates.

I think I love spending time w/ this crew so much is that they are all so positive. They love their jobs and their spouses do too. Happiness is the culmination of so many forces and it's great to see so many people truly engaged in the pursuit.

Today is a "life" day. Lots to do - an athlete meeting this afternoon, chores at the farm b/c the fam is away and just catching up on those long-standing to-do's: Put together stuff for goodwill, vacuum and clean the car, wash my bicycles and other office duty.

It will all get done, but first, I need to go for a run/hike with the Luna dog.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Approved!

I just got an email from USA Cycling - I am now a Category 3 women's road cyclist!

Another goal to add to the list for 2009: Earn my Cat 2 road cycling license.

Rawk!

Ch ch changes

Before:

After:
"She needs wide open spaces" - Some country song that I amazingly listened to b/c it didn't force me to claw my ears off.

Sorry for the hiatus and for not blogging the past two days - Bad mandy! Things are in overdrive here in mandyland - setting the schedule for next year's events and a bunch of other top secret projects that I'll fill you all in on soon! Also, in high gear for Ironman Florida - A WEEK FROM TODAY! ACK!

I love my Cannondale Slice - it's comfortable, responsive and even when crashed at 35mph, it didn't break - I think the R&D mountain guys must have had a hand in designing it! The bike is a 51cm frame. I've never ridden a 51, because, well, I'm barely 5'1". My old bikes were both 48cm - just right. Well, until I start winning Ironmans, I don't think I'll be getting a slice that's any smaller. So over the past season, there's been a lot of tweaking going on to get my perfect fit.

For Placid, I wanted to be aero, but able to be in a strong power, climbing position. For Hawaii I was working from a power position as well - I wanted to feel secure and safe in those winds. For Florida, I want to be as low as possible.

Starting out I had about 4 inches of drop. It's hard for me to get much more b/c I'm not taller and well, they don't make stems with more than 20 degree angles to them.

So, while no huge, earthshattering changes, I did swap out stems - a sad moment when I realized I wouldn't have the first 3 of my 5 Ironman bike stickers to look at anymore - and I moved my seat forward a bit. It feels good, it feels fast and I'm ready to crush it.

Anyone free to go to Florida next week? I have a fully paid trip, but need someone to go as support crew. Beaches, beaches and more beaches!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Burn, baby burn

Boston was fantastic - my apologies for the lack of blogging yesterday... there was too much fun being had. Breakfast and a good business talk with Joe. A walk around my old campus. It's amazing how much has changed in the few years I've been gone. Super high tech and artsy interiors dominate, beautiful lounges... and everyone has a laptop and blackberry. I didn't have either until I started a business. Joe and I reminisced about how he was a bit of a weirdo for carrying his laptop around with him everywhere. We didn't do that. We took notes in notebooks and then went home to huge desktop systems and typed up whatever needed to be done. Wireless was still a far-away idea and blackberries were only for wall street types.

The city itself was as wonderful as I remember. Terrible, aggressive drivers and all :)

I hopped in the car around 12 and headed to the South End to meet Hannah (aka "the Machine") England for lunch. Hannah is coached by Dede Griesbauer (sp?) and is an amazing athlete herself. She raced Kona last year and we trained in Spain together this past winter.

We had a blast catching up, talking tri - even spotted Dede cruising by our cute lunch spot. Hannah was great for my motivation. I hope bad-ass-ness rubs off! I'm praying I find feet like hers in Florida.

After a long lunch, it was time to go to see my Luna - Lu and visit Sean and Jen. They were more generous than mother theresa and took care of Lu for the past month.

I took a nice detour on the way there and spent 3 hours paying for my mistake, made it to the house as Sean pulled in, so I think that means I was on time! It was dark, cold and rainy, but I knew Sean is never one to pass up an adventure (and he's on his off season so he's bouncing off the walls with energy) so we took a night-time hike with the doggies. It was awesome and the perfect way to get my head straight after hours in the car.

Sean and Jen are two of the most genuine people I know. That is such an American expression, but I digress. They are kind because that is their nature. We chatted about vacations and trips in the past and planned new ones. It seems Jen and I were duped by John and Sean... they are adventurers and Jen and I are relaxers - on vacation that is. Jen - I'm ready for the beach when you are!

Tomorrow morning I see Juancito for some make-my-bike-faster fun. Will post pics then!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Going back to Boston

"I'm going back to Boston, gonna find my winning ways". -drop kick murphys

There is always some letdown after ironman, even after a brilliant race, a bit more so after one that catches you off guard. No doubt, I enjoyed every moment of kona, but I was not prepared for the level of difficulty of each of those obstacles. It was a wake up call and it is getting the gears going on some new goals.

In just under 2 weeks I am going to attempt another Ironman in florida. It will either be a brilliant or brilliantly stupid idea, but I owe it to myself to try.

Today I made my way to Boston. I love it here. New yorkers are tough, but bostonites are brutal. Driving into the city where I lived my undergraduate life is a wonderdful homecoming. It's strange to think I was so eager to leave, that I graduated early and took off for europe with a bicycle.

When I came to boston, I didn't even know what the ironman was. I remember calling John after I ran my first 10 mile run. I had never run that far. Same with swimming and cycling. I saved his voicemail response for years.

Coming back to boston is a reminder to celebrate the knowledge and experience I've gained. Smile at the memories of the girl that had no swim/bike/run background, but a lot of determination.

Yup, I'm back in boston to find me all over again, to find that fire, newness and excitement and give old mandy a good old fashion ass kicking!
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Boston fun

Joe and nicole in a moment of cuteness... That hat!
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

How to lose a day in 2 days.

So it's now Sunday. I'm not entirely sure where Saturday went. I do know that at Friday at 4 PM we left the hotel and headed to town for dinner before checking in at the airport. We took off at about 8:30 PM and next thing I know, I wake up this morning with the remnants of vegetarian Chinese leftovers scattered in the apartment and it's Sunday.

Excited and stunned to be home. It's 55 degrees outside and it's 12 PM. A bit different from 92 and 100% humidity at 9 AM! I have no other footwear besides flip flops, but college students wear theirs until snow falls, so I think I'm ok (at least in this neighborhood).

Thank goodness I'll be on a beach in another few weeks...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Good Bye, Farewell, Afeitasen (dear lord i have no clue how to spell that), so long!

Enjoying the last few hours here in Kailua-Kona Hawaii before the flight back to LA then NYC. It was a last day to remember as Pele gave me some great memories. Today at breakfast a pod of dolphins played in the harbor, then during my last swim a giant sea turtle came over and I put on my goggles, swimming around with it underwater. I wanted desperately to touch it, but some things are better left undone.

Thankfully this race will always be close to my heart:

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Somewhere to lay down my weary head

Post race with my Ironman medal, lei and trophy. Yup, you've got to be a nut with a hole in your head to want to do this... Someone asked me if I had a brain at all when I told them I'm planning on racing Florida - it will be my 3rd Ironman start this year...and 2nd ironman in 3 weeks.
Today was another adventure - this time to the City of Refuge. Just South of the Captain Cook monument and snorkeling haven is this ancient city. While in ruins now, it once was a space reserved for Hawaiian Royalty (the Alii - pronounced A-lee-hee, yup, the famed Alii drive gets its name from there!) and for those seeking refuge. You could not enter the royal compound if you were not royalty (under penalty of death - yowza!), but you could be in the other majestic areas.


Step 1. Flee from whatever people are chasing you for a crime you may or may not have committed.

Step 2. make your way to the bay.

Step 3. Swim across the bay to the lava rock shores of the place of refuge.

Step 4. Be absolved by a Hawaiian Priest and return home

Pretty cool if you ask me. The swim looked pretty dinky and short, but I guess it's harder when you're being chased by people who plan to kill you, also, that lava rock is pretty freakin sharp and filled with sea urchins...nasty creatures!



After exploring the place of refuge, it was time for some beaching. The Magic Sands beach is beautiful and I will miss it terribly. The water is always the perfect temperature and is clear, clear clear. Today while old-lady-breaststroking in the water (you know, when you don't put your head under), I felt something against my foot... creepy old guy is not next to me, that means it's some kind of sea life. Please don't let this be a shark bumping me before it bites!!

I turned around and it was a GIANT sea turtle - it popped its head up and just looked at me for a bit. I said "hey dude" and it went under again. We continued like this about 5 more times and I watched the turtle scare about a dozen people -which was great - and then he or she swam away.

I love these turtles, they are so gentle and kind. Not like our northern turtles. Our snappers look pre-historic with nasty claws, spikes and that hissing... not to mention that they can bite your fingers off. The ones here have these soft, sloping extremities. Smooth, peaceful faces. They don't fight the water, they move with it.

Tomorrow the plane leaves for LA, then NYC and part of me is excited to go home - see Luna, Cass, West and my human friends, but I know as soon as I go, I'll miss the relaxation of the Big Island.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Adventuring!

The past few days have been a blast - I planned this trip with about a week extra beyond the Ironman so I could do and see all the fun stuff Hawaii has to offer. The day after the Ironman we piled in the car and drove to the volcano. No matter how many times you say it, "liquid hot magma" in a Dr. Evil voice never gets old. I took a few pics as we were driving, then fell asleep for the whole middle section of the trip.


The scenery was incredible - you go from barren landscape to lush greenery - from high priced hotels to small window-less shacks. The two lane road, pretty much the only one, meanders high above the ocean, then drops back down into the "tsunami zone". It's spectacular.

Volcanoes National Park is incredible. It sits about 5,000 ft above sea level and you can see the smokey plume from miles away. Like, 90 miles away. Once in the park, you enter into land of the lost - totally Jurassic Park style. Ferns are bigger than most of our trees back home and the banyans weave an eerie landscape. Lush meets iridescent black volcanic rock. Signs in the park dictate the dates of certain lava flows - craters the size of football stadiums are considered "small".


Sadly, because of massive amounts of dangerous Sulfur Dioxide being emitted by the volcano, we were not able to get close and see flowing lava. Bummer. It was still amazing to be standing on ground with liquid lava flowing underneath. Well, cool and scary as hell - especially when you're hobbling like a cowboy.

We took a hike through the lava tubes and a beautiful rain forest before taking in the craters with cracks and lava and smoke bubbling out.


It certainly was an adventure and we saw a zebra farm among other curious sites on our way home.



On the drive back I desperately wanted to visit the black sand beach. Everyone was ready for some splashing time, so we pulled into the park - the only non-locals there. Everyone was so sweet and wished me well on my Ironman.

The "sand" is actually smashed up lava rock and it is shiny, soft and beautiful. Larger granules than white sand, but still lovely. Palm trees sprout out in the surf line and seem to bask in the warmth emitted from the stones. The water, takes on a beautiful deep hue as the light blue meets the black sand beneath. Huge Hanu were everywhere - this beach is apparently a popular napping spot for the turtles and a place with mystical powers according to the locals.

I was worried one of the turtles was dead, but was assured repeatedly that it was napping. They are beautiful animals and I do love a good nap.


It's strange to be a northerner down here - We are so used to rushing and here, there is none of that. I've begun to settle into the relaxed pace. Maybe it's the heat, or maybe it's some greater wisdom - take it slow, enjoy the ride, hang loose, dude.

I sure will try...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Arts and crafts

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another huge thank you

So I'm a bird...can I blame it on ironman or being blonde?

Huge thanks to michael seiler www.justsocks.com for being wicked awesome and for building and launching bravemandy.com.
And for putting up with my total web ignorance!

Thanks also to Sean and Jen for taking care of the Luna-lu, not many people would willingly dog sit for three weeks!
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The Best is Yet To Come

Checking in the bike on Friday afternoon w/ the Momma Bear. The machine is sweet as is my awesome pink skulls bento box... and Louis Garneau 2009 helmet!
The bikes tucked in for the night on the pier.

Yup, Race day was my birthday. Smiled all day long.
At 6:30 AM on race day 3 navy seals sky-dived into the water before racing. Very coolModeling the sweetest skinsuits on the planet, made by the fastest wetsuit brand on the planet - Xterra. Thanks, Glynn, Victoria and the whole Xterra crew!!!

The swim start. They call it the "washing machine" . Roughest swim of my life. But by far the most beautiful
Momma B finds the Tsunami evacuation route and practices her safety plan!
Out on the run w/ Julie. We had a great time running together - until she dropped me at mile 24.5
The finish!! Being interviewed by Ironman and NBC crews. I then spent a few hours in the med tent when they discovered I was covered in blood.
Jubilant!!!
Best breakfast ever. "YAY Cake! I love cake!!" - this one's for you Hot Toddie!




So you've all been asking for it - the race report.

Race morning began like any other - wake up early and get the body fueled - 3 cups of applesauce, sports drink, protein shake and a banana... all crammed into less than 100 lbs of me. We all headed out to the race start about 4:45 as you have to line up and get body marked one-by-one before going to transition - and it's a long walk all over. The day before the race I hurt my big toe while running for 5 minutes... it was painful to walk or move it and I was all worried about racing. Yet another example that my Mom is always right - she said I wouldn't even notice it on race day and surprise, surprise - Momma bear was right!

Once on the pier I pumped tires and got my nutrition ready on the bike - that took about 5 minutes and it wasn't even 6 AM. Hung out w/ the Fam and tried to stay relaxed. At 6 AM a conch shell blew and these Tribal drums began to sound. My eyes welled up as I realized I was actually standing on that pier that I've seen on TV for years. The Hawaiin Priest said a blessing and then they announced "Happy Birthday to Amanda Braverman, 24 today!" on the loudspeaker. SO COOL!

At 6:30 3 navy seals sky dived into the water, then came into transition to prepare for their race. I can't imaging starting the day like that.

At 6:45 the pros went off and I entered the water. The NBC camera crew was there and we chatted a bit b/c I was with Rick James, an amazing young athlete that lost use of his legs in a moto-cross accident. He still races motorcross and WINS! He is such an inspiration and he even did the "I'm Rick James!" from the Chappelle show. Such a badass dude! Ironman is hard enough w/ all your limbs to use, I can't imagine doing the whole thing with your arms. Inspiring beyond belief.

I made my way to the front of the pier and began the 15 minute tread water session. Below the surface are divers and camera crews and amazing sea-life paying no mind to the 1800 athletes above!

The pre-swim was as rough as the race - a lot of the men were pushy and dangerous. I looked up to see mike Reilly talking to someone and managed to catch a 5 second countdown. The drums still beating I smiled and then went deaf in my right ear from the cannon. Thought I was having a great swim, but guess the currents were stronger than I thought as my swim was SLOW! As I went around the turn-around sailboat, A guy that had been swimming on me clawed up and ripped off my cap and goggles. I frantically searched for them and not sure how, but I found them just as they were sinking. Strapped the goggles on and continued on my way. Came out of the water and was shocked to see my bad time, but didn't really care - the swim was amazing.

Onto the bike I let people go. Alex M and M warned me not to go too hard in the first little out and back. I heeded the advice and loosened the legs up. Good thing b/c a lot of people got penalties there.

I saw Mom and John and Dad and they said I was 8th - nice, top 10, though I didn't really care where I was today - this was my day to enjoy, no matter the finishing place.

The first 40 miles of the bike were awesome - averaged about 20 mph and then the wind hit. Hawaii, despite the TV coverage, is quite hilly - if you're not going up, you're going down. Mostly with a honking head wind and unpredictable cross-winds. Race day favored the larger athletes and us small folk got tossed around. Heading up to Hawi (and on many downhills) I was barely averaging 10 mph - Instead of getting demoralized, I just focused on my nutrition and on not getting blown over. I was blown across the road a few times and just tried to take it all in. Everyone was going thru the same thing.

Leaving the turn-around at Hawi was a pick-me up as we were headed home. There was a nice respite from the headwind, though the cross winds were still brutal.

I was hoping for some downhill and tailwind. No luck. The winds changed on me on my way home and it was just HARD! Before the race they announced the aid stations would be every 5 miles. I thought that was overkill. I took bottles from every aid station on the bike. Pouring cola over myself accidentally at one. THe volunteers were amazing and militant. Such great folk! It's hard work!

Coming off the bike I wrote off the bike time and just looked forward to running. The run around the pier takes a while and I think should be part of the marathon - no matter! Out on the run I felt good and saw friends and family instantly. It was like Alpe D'huez! The first bit of the run takes you uphill on Palani and then out and down t o Alii Drive, past our condo (which I refused to look at) and out to a sweet church that opens on the water about 6 miles later.

I was feeling good - legs weren't super snappy, but going into this race sick ( which I've never done before), I kinda expected the body to not feel really fresh. I just chugged long and at mile 11-12 I was headed back up Palani Hill and saw my family - and the crowd sang happy birthday. I saw Juancito and pointed to my visor - represent, represent! Farther up the hill was Eric Hodska - my Hawaii Guru.

I caught a girl in my age group on the hill and she asked me if I'd keep her company. We ran together all the way until mile 24.5 when she dropped me. Thanks, chica! Just kidding - so excited you were able to open it up!

I did the run taking in the scenery and going aid station to aid station. Despite the slow pace, we never walked a step and it was great to have company. About mile 19, Megan Searfoss (one of Eric's athletes) came around us and I told her I hoped my butt looked that good after 3 kids! She crushed it and had a great finish.

At mile 24.5 Amy girl came up on us and accelerated. I was so excited and I told Amy I was so proud of her - she was going to be an Ironman and I was so happy she beat me to the line. Just awesome Amy girl!

Coming down Alii to the finish was surreal. It is one of the greatest feelings in the world, aside from riding my horses. I crossed the line in my slowest Ironman time to date, but absolutely stoked to be there. The NBC and Ironman crews interviewed me and I finally got my lei. I saw my parents and John and wanted to thank them, but could not get the words out, I think I just smiled and shook my head.

Then the medical team came up to me. I was covered in blood and they asked where it was from. "my feet? I don't know, didn't know I was bleeding!" They rushed me to the medical tent for an exam to make sure I wasn't hemorrhaging and we found that it was some really bad chaffing on my poor lady bits (sorry to be graphic guys- ladies, you KNOW how much this hurts). After a few hours in the med tent I was finally allowed to leave. Got a massage and headed home.

I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to race the Ironman World Championships. I could not have done it without the friendship, support and generosity of so many people. I thought about you all day and it reminded me to stay positive and enjoy the experience more than anything. This was by far the hardest race I've ever done and it gave me new perspective.

BIG Mahalos to:

Mom and Dad - first of all for having me 24 years ago and for giving me some pretty sweet athletic genes. You are my greatest inspiration and I have no doubt, my biggest supporters.

John - I never thought I'd call myself Ironman, not to mention 4 times, 5 years ago. Thank you for making me believe my dreams can come true and to never limit myself.

Jim - Thank you for being my super motivator. Can't wait to watch you cross the line this November!

Eric - Your friendship, guidance and advice mean more to me than I can express. No matter how random or ridiculous the question, you always have an answer for me.

To all of my friends and family - you remind me on a daily basis of how lucky I am to do all this and to have such amazing supporters. Your calls, emails and texts were the foundation of yesterday's race.

Huge congrats to Cait and Tim Snow and Jesse of qt2systems. Cait won IM LP this year and toop 12 here!! WOW! Alex M and M, Sue and all of my other buddies who raced yesterday!!

To my sponsors:

Block Island Sport shop: Jim and Marion run the shop and it is the hub of everything athletic on the island. Huge thank you for your support of me this year. From shoes to clothing to sweet bags and sunglasses, I know I'm covered head to toe in the sweetest gear around.

Xterra Wetsuits - The fastest wetsuits on the planet - they got me to Hawaii and had me comfy in the water on race day.

Bear Naked - Yummiest granola ever. Go eat some. Banana Nut.

Cannondale Bicycles - fastest bikes. The slice felt solid and comfy. Can't wait to ride the '09! Thanks to Murray, Bill, Matt and the whole C-dale crew for getting me decked out and taking care of me and my ride!!

Perfect 3 nutrition - Thank you to Matt for his guidance. Registered dietitian with experience with top level athletes. And he tells me to eat more. I love Matt.

Larabar - 5 ingredients or less. Totally natural. Totally yummy.

Elizabeth Braverman Horse Training - pony rides to experienced dressage riders - she'll make you better.

Louis Garneau - Thanks to Pierre for hooking me up with the sweetest new LG aero brain bucket for this race... you can get yours in 2009!



So where to next? I'm still registered for Florida - not sure if I'll race or not. 3 weeks.

Now it's time to think about next year's goals....