Thursday, December 31, 2009

Partyville

Oh, it's on... don't mind the 3+ inches of snow... the house is ready, the champagne is chilled and friends are on their way here from all corners of the world!

Since I'm on athletic probation until Monday, I've been walking the dog endlessly and doing yoga like crazy. The good news? I didn't go 1/2 as crazy as would have been appropriate at Costco last night!

I'll be sure to post photos and a full recap tomorrow. Going into the Cleanse to make it worthwhile - tonight is sure to be a blast!

Oh, and even better news....stay tuned for some exciting new sponsorship announcements!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Oof - Da

That midwestern phrase pretty much sums things up. Despite a brief respite from this nasty bug over Christmas, it's baaaaaaack. So yup, oof da.

I'm now in the process of building back my immunity - Coach Eric has ordered me to cease workouts until Monday and just rest, rest, rest. It's frustrating, but as he put it, "Better to work this out now rather than battle it in May" - Yup, that's why he's the voice of reason.

It's a bummer - I thought I was over the hump last week and got in 4 great runs. The good news is that I'll be EXTRA flexible by the end of this because of bonus yoga time each day. I'm hoping that will help me manage my stir-crazy mind as well!

Tomorrow I meet with another potential sponsor for 2010 - I'm beyond excited!

With that, my apologies, dear readers, for my absence.

Don't worry - once I'm back up and running there will be PLENTY to tell! That, and the Eric Hodska 2-Week Cleanse Diet begins on January 2nd. I can't wait!

Hopefully I can lose the little bit of extra holiday poundage and get on track for 2010 and ITALIA in Febuary!

If you are interested in the 2-week cleanse or the 3-day cleanse, leave a comment and I'll put you in touch with Eric directly.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Carebear

As if I didn't already appreciate him, my carebear of a boyfriend came
home from the market with not only groceries, but this quarter-machine
gem!

I hope having my carebear around cleans this bug right out of me!
Many thanks for the calls and wellwishes. Somehow having pneumonia
doesn't seem so bad with so many good vibes!

Sadly there is no training news since I get winded walking to the
bathroom. But the good news is that it forced me to finish my holiday
cards!

Oh, and my favorite carebear in carealot? Tenderheart.

Friday, December 18, 2009

KO'd

Yup, sorry for the blogging hiatus. I'm KO'd (knocked out) with a nasty bug. Be back for more blogging once I shake this!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dubbel Belgian Brew

All bottled and ready to drink in 2 weeks!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Presentation is everything!

Happy Chanukah!

The Truffle - Factory is in full swing! It's a holiday tradition and it's growing. This year, I've made 4 types of decadent vegan truffles and Sam has expanded his brewing capabilities from the basic set I gave him in the Spring. Another activity on the list this weekend will be
bottling and corking his Belgian Brew!

The Luna Pale Ale (LPA) was a hit and this one is even better! The
hardest part isn't the brewing... it's drinking all those Chimays and
others for bottles!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thanks...

...XTERRA and Runners Edge for the pre-Channukah goodness!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Juice Me!

"Posing. Posing with my leg. Posing. Posing a threat!" - Flight of the Concords

Why yes, those are 3D glasses. Thank you for noticing!

A few weeks ago I put on a fundraiser for the Steep Rock Association in Washington, CT

Before the race, I bought a traditional post-race food item: Cookies. I'm a cookie purist - it's all choco-chip, all the time for my people (yes, even on Passover we do choco-chip macaroons).

As I wheeled my overflowing cart of cookies towards the register, a woman stopped me and said, "girl, you must really like you some cookies!?"

"Yes," I replied, "I'm on a cookie diet and it's working great, don't you think?"

The conversation went on, but it stunned me that the woman didn't catch my facetious tone...in fact, she believed me!

Well, she believed me for good reason, apparently. A cookie diet is not so far from my lifestyle over the off season. Yes, I am admitting it:

Hello, my name is Mandy and I'm an addict. I first started eating cookies 24 years ago.

It's been a day since my last indiscretion and I'm ready to change.

Sadly, there are no yummy cookie tokens for resisting the sweet-temptations.

There is, however, a juice-fast diet option to break me of my bad habits in 3 days. Purge my body of that oh-so-evil sugar craving that is the real root cause of my addiction to cookies.

This by no means is a weight-loss technique, although that is sure to happen as a side effect. This is a pre-new years bad-habit break.

You all know what comes after the New Year...(cue scary music)...the CLEANSE DIET! Now, that is 2 weeks of super strict habit breaking.

So, since I'm starting to train the rest of me, it's time to start training the mind and well, for lack of a better word, my diet.

3 days of home-made juices:

Orange/Grapefruit, The Green Monster, Lemonade and Cashew/Almond Milk. Can't wait (and believe me, that's not sarcasm - it's pure, unbridled enthusiasm!).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Make New Friends

"This is my life, it's not what it was before" - Staind

Life is good - great actually! The first week of exercise after a 3-week break is in the books!

You can tell it's December without even looking at the calendar. The social schedule goes thru the roof! Saturday night was a get-together with a whole new group of girls in my life. Moms, single ladies, wives, girlfriends and all cycling and/or triathlon enthusiasts (even if only by spousal association!)! It was a fantastic time - my throat was sore from the cackling that emerged throughout the evening.

I am most happy now - in training and life - because I've finally found my balance. I have a supportive, dedicated and loyal boyfriend. A stable, healthy and enthusiastic family. The greatest, biggest group of crazy, varied, lovely friends I could ask for and a healthy body (yes!).

Finding the balance between working hard, playing hard and training hard has been difficult for me (and I'm sure many others). I used to think I had to close myself off from others, but then I realized that I get that when I need it. There are plenty of times I have great company for training, but other times when I forsake the comfort of jokes or the motivation of a feisty training partner to train alone and build the beast within.

It helps to have things put in perspective. My girlfriend, Joanne, is a mother of 2. She is a wife and she works. She is also a pretty speedy marathoner, cyclist and now she's tackling swimming. She 'makes it work', as Tim Gunn would say! Seeing her success in her own personal goals made me realize just how selfish I used to be when it came to training and racing. Maybe it wasn't a conscious decision, but it was a decision nonetheless.

A decision to take the attitude that you can't do it all or that "something's gotta give". It's that same defeatist attitude that causes burnout in my opinion. I race happy, so why not stay happy in life AND training? What a concept, eh?

Coach Eric jokes about "do as I say, not as I do" and I suppose in a way, we're all guilty of that. I tell people all the time that they should stay social. That doesn't mean getting fall-down drunk every weekend, but your life should not suffer because you've decided to train for and Ironman or a marathon.

This past year, I feel like I've finally been able to rediscover my friendships, to build new ones and to shed that attitude that training comes above all. It is important, certainly, but so is having a glass of wine or beer, cackling with the girls and then returning home late at night to ride a WD-40 lubed sled with the dog, the boy and even more friends.

Yes, you can do it all. For 2010, you can bet I've got some extreme goals and you can also bet I'll achieve them while holding up my end of the other bargains in my life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Treasure Hunting

It's back to the grind around here - lots of work and now, exercise (well, still not so much of it).

After a lovely run yesterday, I moseyed over to my 'Rent's house to help clear out some old bedrooms, closets, trunks and soon....the basement. We've been on full-on cleaning mode recently - tearing apart family storage spaces and showering the local VNA, Goodwill and Social Services with unwanted treasures.

While sorting thru an old trunk (in my old room), I found some real gems. Notebooks from my Montessori days. One of the entries was about Mesopotamia. I wrote (in script b/c they never taught us how to write in print) that it was the land between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers and is now known as Iran, Syria, Turkey and Iraq. I wrote that in 1989 at the age of 5. My mom and I started cracking up that a number of modern-day politicians that probably would not be able to provide such information.

Some other finds include a plethora of teeny, tiny leotards and tights... and slightly larger ballet shoes to pair with them.

The best find's of the day were hippy sticks - you know, a long stick w/ fringed ends and two drum-stick like instruments you use to toss the longer stick, without dropping it...and the VERY best find of the day was a MINT New Kids on the Block fanny pack. Awesome.

I'm debating about who will appreciate the fanny pack more:

1. my friend Robin who is a CRAZY nkotb fan.
2. Goodwill
3. Ebay crazies

Decisions, decisions.

Ok, enough BS-ing, it's time to hit the gym. While I like to use Eric's phrase, "My strength is my strength" - it wasn't enough of an argument for me to get out of lifting this base season. No complaining - time to slap on that makeup, push-up bra and fitness sneakers and get to it! Gym girl tirade will have to wait for another day.

Seriously, why wear makeup and useless clothing to the gym?!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cross, of course!

Well, dear readers, I finally did it. I got off my butt, put down the cookies and exercised. Yes, I've been staying "active" or "exceedingly active" according to my doctor, but if you ask me, I've been completely sedentary. Walking my dog, doing yoga and going out for trail rides on my horses are all enjoyable activities, but not strenuous (not that riding isn't strenuous, but relaxed trail rides are a pleasure).

I can't say I've missed my all-day workouts, but I do have some pangs of fitness memories, especially when I realize just how out of shape I've become. It's not a bad thing - in fact, it's precisely what I needed - time away from swimming/biking and running (or as far away as I can get, since I talk sbr daily for work).

Yesterday was different. Yesterday I finally christened my beautiful new birthday cross bike. I can't decide if it's a he or she yet, but I do know that it's awesome! Sam and I went riding from the horse farm for about 2 hours. We practiced technique (of which I have none) and etiquette.

I LOVE hopping back on my bike (a flying mount). I LIKE dismounting, riding uphill, downhill and everything in between. But I HATE carrying the bike - my poor bony shoulders are not a fan of top tubes.

It was a blast and my cross master of a boyfriend was a great teacher - he kept smiling even as saying, "you might want to brake" as I careened down a rocky path.

The verdict: Sam told me that I'm "Ignorantly aggressive...and that's a good thing!" Translation: I tackle scary, dangerous terrain and obstacles without thinking about them.... sounds like a cross mindset to me! Sweet!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holiday Behavior

You could say I started the holidays a bit early. Most people over-indulge, eating much more than they should and making poor food choices in general. I'd like to think I just "over-indulged", that there was some lack of knowledge associated with my poor eating habits, but I can't... I CHOSE to eat cookies, ice cream, chocolate and copious amounts of wine and beer. Yup. I take full responsibility for my actions.

Of course, this has all taken place in the 2 weeks following my final Ironman and race of the season. It's the time to walk my dog, ride my horses, do yoga for 90 minutes instead of 30 minutes each day, sleep, party and eaaaaaaaat!

All was well, I only gained 4 pounds, which is about par for the course in my book, but what I didn't realize was the monster growing inside.

Oh no, this monster doesn't weigh anything, the monster doesn't eat anything, it just craves exercise. I completely tuned out this monster, but apparently, my "selective hearing" of it's pleas were heard by none other than Sam.

Sunday was a great day - filled with fun and sun and activities. Sunday night quickly became your worst nightmare. Sam was running late, almost 2 hours late for dinner making. He called (like the wonderful boyfriend he is) and asked what I'd like for dinner... and so it began:

Hungry Monster (HM): Uggggggggggg, I don't know, I'm uninspired.

Sam (the hero of our tale): Well, how about I go to the store and I'll grab some stuff to make pizza and salad. How does that sound?

HM: ooooooof, uggggg, whatever, I'll just get dressed and go to the store. There's nothing at the house. This is going to take forever. Maybe I should just order Chinese... What do you want from there?

Sam: What do you usually get?

HM: GENERAL TSOS TOFU!!!!

Sam: And sides?

HM: they don't have sides....ugggggg....it's not NYC..... they don't have veggie steamed dumplings or anything good, god, I don't want CHinese food, I want something healthy. Whatever, I'm just going to not eat tonight, I feel fat and I uggggggggggggggg.

Sam: Ok, well, how about I go to the store?

HM: uggggg...silent for several moments.... I'm just going to go to bed, I want to have 1 early night, just hang out with the boys.

Sam: I'm going to the store, I'll be there as soon as I can. Ok?

HM: ok.

Yes, this overly dramatized scene did occur and yes, the Hungry Monster Within was responsible for those snide comments, extended huffing sounds and l0ng silences.

As soon as Sam walked in the door, the monster was sated - a hug and it was almost gone... I apologized for my physiological freakout (they are always related to 1 of 2 things: lack of exercise or hunger) and then Sam said this:

"Get on your bike tomorrow. I don't care what you do or how long you do it, ride to Dunkies and home. Just get some exercise....Seriously."

So, yesterday, I put my big girl undies back on (figuratively of course!) and went for a 20 minute run with the dog. It felt SO good.

Sam the hero helped me slay the Monster (for now).

What to do today? Perhaps a ride on the fixie?!

Monday, November 23, 2009

NEW!

The new and improved EndureIT site is up!!! Check it out HERE!!

The new Bravemandy site will launch before the New Year...stay tuned....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ani!

What better to inspire and uplift than Ani DiFranco live?

It was truly cathartic and healing. Thank you to my lovely friends
for arranging that evening!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dance all night

"I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night... " Bye Bye Birdie

My Uncle Joe. Joe DelGatto to be exact. No, I'm not related by blood to a feisty Italian Catholic. Our bond was deeper than that.

I last saw Joe two weeks ago after getting a phone call from him that the he was not longer a candidate for a new Parkinson's treatment, due to Cancer found in his brain. With the two diseases ravaging his body, he wasn't sure how much time he had left. So I got in the car and made the same pilgrimage he made 3 years ago...

He left his rent controlled apartment in New York City (in the Upper West 60's, mind you) and, despite his declining health via Parkinsons, he went to the city of his youth, Rochester, NY to visit his ailing mother. Her Alzeimers was steadily worsening and he went there to help her (and relieve his siblings). Sadly, he never returned to the city he loved so much.

Joe, the son of immigrant parents, grew up in Rochester, NY in the heavily settled Italian section of Manchester, NY. He was the first and only member of his family to attend college and leave the area and his Mother and Father could not have been more proud of him. She told him regularly that he was her favorite - probably not the best move with 2 other sons in the house, but she told it the way she saw it. And he was everyone's favorite...not just hers.

Joe began a successful career, moved to New York and while a marriage didn't last, his love affair with the city never waned. I don't know anyone more appreciative of New York, than Joe. Every night of the week, he would attend a concert at Carnegie Hall or an Opera, a reading at the 92nd street Y or Shakespeare in the park. He took full advantage of the food, art, culture and people around him and drank it all in.

Joe was a catalyst in the the success of my parents relationship. My mother met him at 17, my father at 22 - Joe was the driving force behind their move to Ohio - for my mother to become a Principal Dancer with Cleveland Ballet and for my Father to do his Residency at Case-Western.

Joe was always like that... caring, kind and compassionate - whether he knew you for 30 seconds or 30 years.

Joe was a part of my family before I even entered the world and when I finally did make an appearance, he was one of the first to welcome me. While it may sound cruel to my loving parents, my earliest memories are not of my mother, father or sister, but instead of my Uncle Joe. He would put on music and we would dance around the living room. I remember the feeling of his soft, curly gray hair in my hands as a child...the hair that felt the same when I last touched it 2 weeks ago. I remember the feeling of him scooping me up and putting me on his shoulders while ice-skating. I remember spending hours searching for the perfect Fall leaves...and rating them on a 1-5 scale.

For years, when moving books, I'd open them, only to have pressed leaves fall out of the pages.

Not a single holiday, birthday, chorus concert, musical or riding competition was missed. Joe was a part of my Batzmitvah ceremony and celebration, my travel companion thru Spain as a teenager. He was my opera buddy and the one that would always take me to Il Vagabondo in the city where we'd order Spaghetti and Meatballs (even though it wasn't on the menu) and watch the old men play Bocci.

Joe was always there - I'd save mementos for the times he was away - individual truffle boxes from Teuscher chocolatier - the card from flowers sent for my birthday - and the advice he would leave me to figure out as homework.

Joe was the man in my life for many years. He was the one I was close to, especially before my Father and I bonded. He was the one that encouraged me and retained interest in my activities - my business, my racing and every adventure in between.

Two weeks ago, I said goodbye to my friend. While everyone around us was moping and writing him off, I chose to take his mind off his ailments. He lit up and we talked for hours straight. I hugged him and kissed him and told him how much I love him. I told him what an incredible force he's been in my life and that I am me, because of him. I told him I would forever find beauty in the simple, because of him. I told him I will always strive to love and live better, because of him. Some part of me knew I wouldn't see him again, but I found comfort then and I found comfort this morning when the call came: My last words to him were, 'I love you'.

As I went to leave, he smiled and reminded me to save a dance for him at my wedding.


Monday, November 16, 2009

I like to Oat, Oat, Oat.

So I've gotten a number of emails in the past few days about race nutrition. I'm happy to share my nutrition plan and what I actually did on race day. Each day is different and like anything with Ironman (or life) you need to be flexible and adaptable. It's science, but it's also trial and error. My original plan called for gels, caffeine and a variety of other items that I can't use or tolerate.

So, here's how race day broke down for me at Ironman Florida. Keep in mind, you need to eat for the race in the days leading up to it. Race day at Ironman Florida was 79-80, clear, sunny skies, wind and humidity. I added extra salt to my food the days before and stayed hydrated.

Saturday:

3:30 AM 2-3 cups of applesauce, 1 scoop protein powder w/ milk, 8 0z sports drink (with extra salt) and a banana.

6 AM - 1/2 power bar and 8 oz of water

7 AM race start

8 AM on bike and a bit of water to clean off and get the salt out of my mouth

Every 10 min. on the bike I take a sip of water and gatorade.

Every 30 minutes I eat 1/2 a powerbar (later on in the bike, I'll switch to either sharky's chews or clif bloks).

Every 1 hour, 1 thermo-tab salt tablet

I switched to jelly chews with about 90 min. left on the bike and I spread out my bar-eating to about 45 min. rather than 1/2 hour to settle my tummy.

On the run: swig of gatorade and water at each aid station. I like to chew on ice, stuff some down my shirt and use a sponge on my face, chest, head and arms. I try to keep my feet as dry as possible.

So there you go, it's not the scientific breakdown, but it is what I did and I did not take any bathroom stops on the run, I peed a few times on the bike (yea, it smells great... and it's for sale!). Walking the aid stations helped my tummy settle and I read myself correctly - on the bike and the run. Listening to your body for what it wants and what it needs is key.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Photos!


At the start line, waiting for the pain to begin. Just me and 3,000 of my closest friends!
Onto the bike - somehow, this is my only bike picture. A bit of a funny camera angle. Ah well! Love my sweet ride and can't wait to present the 2010 ride and tricked-out components!
Looking tough in front of some K-swiss banners, EH?
I have no idea what I'm doing w/ my arms here, but it kept me going thru the 2nd lap!
Happy to be done. I didn't even look at the clock when I finished and yea, based on my prep, I was planning on being an hour faster, but you take the day you're given and like I said before, I enjoyed every second and every step of this journey to number 8.

Next challenge? Choosing which ice cream to have after dinner.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ironman Florida

Wheee - somehow the days have escaped me - so here it is, finally, my report and review of Ironman Florida.

Ironman starts before the race even begins. The travel, waiting in line and just general stress effect everyone's race. This year, I tried something different and flew from small airport to small airport - Westchester to Panama City Airport. To limit stress further, I shipped my bike down to the hotel, so I got to travel light!

American Express helped me offset my carbon emissions from the trip and rental car - and we even got the sweet Prius I asked for! 15 minutes after landing, we were in the hotel and changing into some clothes made for an 80 degree sunny day.

We mozeyed over to check-in and I hit it just right, it all took less than 10 minutes. A little walk thru the expo, a visit with Lawrence and Matt (my guardian angels at Inside Out Sports) and it was back to the beach for a little run and swim. I felt great, combine that with an extra hour of fall-back time and I was just peachy. Some yummy Asian Fusion capped off an early night.

Thursday came and went with a nice morning swim and bike. The bike went together like butter (Thanks, C-dale!) and little beach time and then it was off to the Ironman Welcome dinner. Nothing get's you more amped to race than that first IM video.

That night is when things went downhill - a scratch in my throat got me worried beyond belief and I didn't sleep at all. I woke up to a full-blown upper respiratory infection. God bless my Father who called in a prescription right away.

I checked in my gear and just took the day easy. Amazingly, I slept really well the night before the race. I had a great talk with Eric and he reminded me that this race is a celebration - I've done the training and there is nothing I could do about the sickness, I'd just have to ignore it. I'd just have to keep going. He reminded me that I survived a lot worse this year and this was the time to turn the tide. He told me to take the swim easy, back off the bike and just run. I was happy and relaxed going into it.

Race morning came and I downed my assigned QT2 Breakfast of applesauce, banana, protein shake and gatorade. I got my gear together and my mom and I realized just how good we're getting at this Ironman thing - I was all set to go within 10 minutes... unfortunately, the race wasn't for another hour and a half, so we found a nice warm, quiet spot in the hotel and just relaxed, stretched and chilled out.

Mom and I said our goodbyes and I made my way to the front of the start line, prepared to swim under an hour. I looked over and my mom was right there! Standing in the water, she gave me one last hug and we both had tears in our eyes.

The water was ROUGH! With the fast approaching hurricane, combined with the sandbars, it was an interesting event. Lots of jellyfish were out and dolphins, too! Many more people were swimming on the inside line this year and as usual, it was rough (as evidenced by the bruises on my face and chest). I came out of the first lap slower than usual, but decided that it was slow going for everyone. Trying to get back in the water for lap 2 was comical... I'd dolphin in and then get tousled back to shore... again and again. Finally, I started cracking up and just waded into the water.

Transition was changed this year due to the extra athletes (nearly 3,000 in all!). Transition was nearly a mile, up from the beach, thru the hotel, into the bag area, then across transition to the hotel ballroom, into the ballroom, out off the ballroom, back across transition, across transition again to get bike, then out. Oof, it was mayhem!

Onto the bike, I could not wipe the smile from my face - The wind was at my back and I was going about 26 mph with a low HR. I squirted myself down with water and just settled in for the long day ahead.

Florida is notorious for it's packs and drafting. This year was no different. About 50 miles in, I got so fed up with either pulling a group along or being passed by packs of 50 riders, that I finally called out " Ironman is an individual event, you cheaters!"... Not 5 minutes later a guy comes up along side me. He says he and the guys behind me were happy I said something and that I should race Penticton. Next thing I know, a ref is next to us and he holds out a red card... We both got penalties. Tears filled my eyes and I just was burning. 8 Ironmans and countless other races... here I am, the only idiot not drafting and I get a penalty as I watch 6 girls in my age group go time trialing by with a big pack. Argh!

I let myself feel it, fester for a minute and then I decided that it would be an advantage. I would get a 4 minute break in the bike to stretch, loosen up and hydrate. I just kept positive.

I was moving well along at about a 20mph average, until the last section. That headwind came up and us small people just suffer in that. My pace dropped off, but I made the executive decision to go easy and save my legs. It worked as many people were walking out of transition, my legs felt great (for an Ironman).

My tummy was not very settled, so after a few miles, I decided to walk an aid station. That went well, so I decided I would walk the aid stations and get in my fluids. Although is cost me 30-45 minutes in the end, I think it was worth it.

I got to see my mom out on course 4 times during the run and it gave me such a lift - that and all of the other atheltes, volunteers and spectators. I was happy. The ENTIRE race! This is the first race where I can truly say, I had no demons to battle, no negative thoughts, no wanting to stop. I just enjoyed every step. I thought of Sam, Murray and my Dad watching the animals so I could be there. I thought of my Mom who flew down and gave up days to do things for me. I thought of the 3500 volunteers on course feeding me, encouraging me and keeping me safe. I thought about the spectators. I thought about Eric and his belief in me. I thought about the finish and I thought about the future.

There is a reason that older athletes excel in the sport and I think it comes from their appreciation, their patience and relaxation. They understand that it's a gift to be able to do this.

Post race, I felt great and changed my clothes (myself, for the first time!) and made my way to the exit before being stopped by a medical professional. He led me back into the med tent where they took my vitals. They were not so good, so I lay back and took in 4 bags of IV fluid. The massage tent was empty and I was treated to a massage by 3 therapists! It was heaven and exactly what I needed. I woke up the day after with no soreness, only a bit of bruising and chafing. .. and a BIG SMILE.

While it wasn't my fastest race, it's not always about that. Sometimes you don't get to podium or be the star. Of all of my races to date, I can say that #8 was the most enjoyable of them all. I found my inner peace, my inner OM and I finished out the year on a positive note. I rediscovered why I love the sport and Ironman in particular. It's not about battling demons in those solitary hours, it's about discovering the love in your life. That was my transformation - finally getting passed the hurt, the ups and downs, the excitement of the distance itself and discovering that I can do this because of love. That is the purpose that emereges from the simplicity of swimming, biking and running.

It gives me renewed hope for 2010 and as Eric said, "We'll get you that 10:30". And now I know I can, I will and I am going to do that.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hip Hip Hooray!


I've just been selected to represent NUUN Hydration as one of their elite athletes - Doing a little "Woot! Woot! Dance" as I sign my contract. I'll keep y'all posted (and hooked up) with all the great deals!

Many thanks again to all of my fabulous sponsors that have stuck by me since the beginning: My loyalty is a reflection of yours:

Xterra Wetsuits
The fastest wetsuits on the planet. Email me for a great deal on wetsuits and how/where to get fitted. Any time!

Cannondale Bicycles
USA made - top bikes at Kona! Hey, if it's good enough for World Champions and King(s) of the Mountains, it's good enough for you! Also, they make a variety of sizes and take their women's products just as seriously as the mens... yes!

Bear Naked Granola
Mmmmm- granola. Founded in CT and just as good as it was when I first sampled it at Stew's all those year's ago.

KIND Bars
5 ingredients or less. Pure YUM! Nuts, fruit and honey. Nom, Nom, Nom - sooooo good! They also promote random acts of KINDness - yea, they are very cool!

Athletes for a Fit Planet
Helping athletes, race directors and the world be more eco-friendly. "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

Harney and Sons Tea
BEST. TEA. EVER. Also, a local CT company for generations. What could be better?! They also have a bunch of pretty (and tasty) gifts for the holidays on sale right now!

SRAM
SPEEEEEEEEED. Need I say more?

53x11 Coffee
Organic, strong and with names like "The Chain Breaker" you better not turn it down!

Coach Eric
9-Time Kona Finisher with a PB of 9:10 at that race, Age Group records at Ironmans and a penchant for kicking many pro-athlete tuchus' at races all over the world. Dedicated, determined and driven, Eric is at the top of the coaching heap. Eric goes beyond what is expected - he is attentive, and not just to training, but to overall health, wellbeing, livelyhood and the occasional athletic neurosis.

Thanks also to Modulus Custom Carbon wheels, Teany cycling team and my new cycling team, To be announced!

HOME!

....and I promise to write a proper blog post soon! Another 3 AM wake-up means I'm a tired pony, but I picked up Luna-girl (thanks Sam and Murray!) and am making my way to go take care of horses. Race report coming soon.

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's almost time...

To race Ironman! Big thanks to my mom, support crew extraordinaire!
Thanks to Sam, Murray and my Dad for taking care of the animals. To
coach Eric for being awesomely supportive this whole year and this
morning when I woke up sick and freaking out. Thanks also to my super
fabulous friends and last, but not least, to all of my
sponsors....more on that next week! Great changes for 2010 and I
can't wait to usher this year out with a rockin race tomorrow.

Those of you following online, if my transitions look shockingly slow
for me, don't worry, they've changed the whole transition layout
because there are almost 2800 athletes competing tomorrow, nearly
50percent of those are 1st timers!! Wowza!

I'll be thinking of you all tomorrow and all the time, energy and care
you spend in allowing me to feed my ironman habit. Much love and I
promise a report tomorrow night!

Oh, and ps we are 1 hour behind here! Yay sleeping in!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Home Sweet Home

...at least for the next few days. Feeling relaxed and ready for
Saturday. Many thanks for all of the well wishes! I'll carry them
with me on race day! Now time to find food and wine.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I get by with a little help from my friends


Lara Croft, Tomb Raider, meets up with Aeon Flux.

Michael Phelps was spotted with a "roadie cup" - I'm guessing it was Gatorade.

...And there's Borat about to "maka sexy time", opening his famous green man-thong-kini.


These are a few pictures from Saturday's madness, I'll be sure to post more, just after I'm done getting reamed out by my coach for partying a bit too hard. In other news, Sam woke up with a black eye. That's what you get for messing with Lara Croft!

I should take it as a good sign that my energy is returning and I was able to last the night! A few more days until Fla... hopefully I can detox my system by then!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Life in Fruit

My Life in Fruit

I'm a healthy eater, ironman being a little over a week away doesn't change my eating habits much, save for the fact I'm eating A LOT!  

Lots of seasonal fruits and veggies (and a few splurges in there -raspberries) and plenty of carbs, protein and good
 fats.  As y'all know, I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian (eat eggs, milk), but I'm also anemic and b12 defficient. So to combat those deficiencies and the sleepiness they bring, I do a lot of combining of food.  OJ with iron rich foods and well, b12 shots don't exactly fall into the food category, but they make me feel better instantly!

Onward for this last bit of training! 



Sent from my iPhone

Monday, October 26, 2009

Horsin' Around

Despite some heavy training leading up to Ironman, I got the OK from Coach Eric to do a Hunter Pace on my pony. Now, a Hunter Pace is not an easy event by any means - I'm sore as heck today - but I think Eric acknowledged that it was important for my mental wellness more than anything.

We packed up the horses early and made our way to the pace. So, now you're wondering, what is a hunter pace? Well, let me first describe Equine sports from a cycling/triathlon perspective:

There are many equine disciplines: Dressage, Western, Equitation, Eventing and so on. Hunter pacing generally takes place in late Summer and into the Fall, much like Cyclocross. Like Cyclocross, there are those of us that treat it as fun competition - bonus to the year we've completed. For others (notably Hunt Clubs), it is cut-throat competition.

Hunter Paces themselves are essentially trail rides. The course is marked with arrows and signs and there are between 1-2 aid station stops along the way where you can get a drink, hydrate your horse and pass thru a vet check. You do not know the course before you complete it and you ride at your own pace. Riding at a good clip, you will cover the course and its obstacles anywhere between 1 to 2.5 hours.

At some point during the day, a designated team will go out and do the course. Their time is the "optimum time" for the competition. No one is aware of this time (sealed up in an envelope) until awards are presented. As with cycling and triathlon, anything can happen: A horse can lose a shoe, forcing the team to walk the course. A team could cheat and cut off parts of the course and so on.

As with any competition, there are different categories: Hunt (the fastest and most competitive), Pleasure (slower and more for beginners), Western (pretty obvious) and Juniors (18 and under).

There are also bonus awards at certain competitions for oldest horse/rider competition, peanut awards (which I used to miss by days as a kid - I was 6 when I did my first hunter pace - yesterday the winner was 10!).

After the rain on Saturday, the course was quite sloppy in certain areas. Getting to ride with my parents was a throwback experience. For one reason or another, I haven't had the chance to ride a hunter pace in many years. My pony on the other hand has enjoyed a healthy schedule of hunter paces over the years with my mother on board.

We just enjoyed the day, and passed 10 teams along the nearly 90 minute route. We were held up a bit at the aid station, but just laughed and reminisced about previous paces.

After washing down the horses with some nice linament for their muscles, we made our way to lunch and awards. As they began presenting awards, I had an incling that we would be close, and we were! 2nd place by a tiny margin. While it would have been nice to take home the win, 2nd place was a nice bonus to the glorious reward that was riding a pace on my off day!

Today is a long run, no more horsin' around until after Ironman...well, maybe a bit!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flying Solo

No, I'm not single, although the boy is out in Seattle for work, so....... Hah! Just kidding, babe!

No, I'm talking about training solo. Long hours biking, running and swimming - SANS-IPOD thank you very much! Nothing makes you tougher or keeps you on program like training alone. While I love my buddies, I think it's important to train alone - especially in the final weeks leading up to Ironman. I need to get my brain used to the quiet. I need to battle the "bad voice" demons on my own - banish them - and ride on.

Sunday morning brought snow and sleet and I ran anyways. Early. Alone. In silence. It was tough and pleasurable all the same.

While I sometimes wish for the safety of Greg, Matt or Sam's wheels, it's important for ME to do those interval sets, to take it easy when I have to and go hard when I have to...all on my own power.

Today was a fun day and during my run, like anyone, I had a few ups and downs. There were moments when I thought "I can take that shortcut and be home early - I'll call Eric and tell him I woosed out" - But then I think of what one of my riding teachers used to say, " If you don't do it ('it' being practice, the work, etc) you are only cheating yourself".

How unbelievably true and applicable for Ironman! It is a solo effort and in the end you can say well, "everyone else was drafting", "I didn't get good feet in the swim", "I bonked on the run" - it's you that makes everything happen, it's your training and preparation that defines success. True, things happen along the way that may alter your day, some things are even out of your control, but it's a long day and one way or another, you can get thru it.

I'm not cheating myself. I'm kicking my own butt... and my reward? Sugar free/fat free chocolate jello mini pies and a glass of wine with Amelia!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Going Long

"[S]he's going the distance. [S]he's going for speeeeeeed." - Cake

A few more weeks left in Ironmanland. You know, that lofty place where no work gets done, social opportunities are limited to a single drink and the body completely forgets what it's like to NOT be sore? Yea, it's heavenly. It's magical. It's Ironmanland.

It has been a busy few days... filled with some great long workout, spectating my spectacular boyfriend racing Cyclo-Cross and visiting the man I call my Uncle Joe - the man that I consider another Father figure.

More to come on this weekend's pilgrimage to visit Joe up in Rochester, NY, but for now, suffice to say I have a whole new inspiration and motivation for racing...and it's not just for it to be over with so that I can see him again.

Last night, after a full day on the road, I made a b-line for the pool. After Sunday's long run in the snow, I wasn't sure how I'd feel, but I got in the pool and it felt so natural. Simply wonderful! I was in a great mood for the whole workout. Some of you asked to know what the workouts are exactly, so here's what I did:

1500 warm up on 1:25 pace
200 kick drill
2000 continuous set as 250 swim, 250 fins, 250 pull, 250 swim with no breaks
then 3 x 50 FAST
then 50 cool down.

4,000meters just flew by!

Today was a 5 hour ride to a 45 minute run - covered a lot of ground around CT and NY State - then took the dog with me for a run in the sun. Not that I could feel the sun on my skin as I'm heat acclimating and wearing winter coats everywhere...even on today's 60 degree day!

Countdown is coming on!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mmmmm bagels

I love me some swimsuits!

What better to inspire swim workouts (and training buddies) than some
new suits!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

25

As unoriginal as this may be, I thought I'd share with you all the 25 things you may or may not know about me... guilty pleasures, random crap and the occasional gem. Since my brain is now in full-on Ironman Mode, I can't promise a whole lot of intelligent writings, but entertaining? Yes. Picture filled? Hopefully!

1. My favorite color is Orange - bright, beautiful Orange.

2. Despite my favorite color being orange, I painted my bedroom red. The bathroom and kitchen are orange...tough break.

3. I speak Spanish better than a speak English.

4. I did a whole variety of things early: (I had my Bat Mitzvah early, graduate from college early) yet it took me an eternity to start walking... I'd scoot around on my butt instead, earning the
nickname "scoots"

5. I have a picture of Dara Torres on my fridge, but I put the magnet over her face. What can I say, she's an awesome athlete....buttaface?!

6. I'm pretty sure I used to have a problem with obsessive compulsive behaviors as a kid - I'd wash my hands excessively.... I still wash my hands a lot, but I don't think I'm obsessive when I do things in 3's, refuse to use pens or pencils besides my own or check that the door is locked repeatedly.... What of it?

7. I have traveled all over the world, but no places more times than Spain. My heart has always felt most at home in Sevilla, Spain. The Gypsy culture, the people, the FOOD! I say Sevilla, but really, anywhere in the Andalucia region.

8. I am the kid everyone hates, I grew up with pony's and horses and I still have my pony. He is 25 (just like me!) and is still as spunky as ever. His name is Casanova and Sam still won't ask me who I love more.

9. I love a whole variety of [vegetarian] foods, but when left to my own devices, am a rut eater. I grew up on bagels (real, Jewish, BOILED bagels) for breakfast, water during the day and pasta and salad for dinner. I still follow this method, but now I eat a lot more of it.

10. I grew up believing I could do anything - with that, I spread myself thin: Riding lessons, Ballet classes, Violin lessons, voice lessons, sitting in on my sister's Spanish tutorials - anything I could learn, I wanted to. To this day, I still believe that I could enter any of those careers: Become a translator, open a bakery, audition for a broadway musical. Lofty? Yes, but aren't all of our fantasies?

11. I will only eat dark chocolate...immediately afterwards, I'll chow down a piece of fruit to make myself feel less guilty.

12. I always line up in the longest grocery store line so that I can read the trashy magazines without buying them (because I have self control. Or something).

13. Bodily functions are funny and appropriate dinner conversation [at my parents house]. That's what happens when you are the daughter of a gastrointerologist and the only non-lactose intollerant member of a family.

14. I appreciate Sam (my boyfriend) only because I've had such crappy boyfriends in the past. Had I met him a few years ago, I probably would have horribly mis-treated him. Now that I know he's the prince among frogs, I try to be well behaved!

15. When I first started riding my bicycle, I had to ask someone if you wore underwear under cycling shorts.

16. As a child, I dressed up as the same things over and over again: A cat and the Grim Reaper.

17. I don't feel like myself if I miss a day of NPR and the NY Times.

18. I read. A lot. Although, not as much as the woman in the Times who read a book a day for a year. Maybe when I win the lottery or stop, um, having a life I can do that. For now, I'll settle for a book every few days or week.

19. I worked on an Organic farm in High School and College. I also had a pixie cut. One day, despite working in the field in my bikini, sunglasses and flip flops, a woman in town walking bye asked my boss, "who that cute boy" was in the field. Horrified, I started growing my hair out immediately AND wearing victoria's secret push up bras. Once the hair grew out I abandoned bras again.

20. I hate dried fruit. Except for mangos.

21. My mom is 55 and I think she has better legs than me.

22. My Dad is a very reserved man and not very demonstrative (I'm the exact opposite and force-hug him at every opportunity). He still listens to the recordings of me singing the Mozart Requiem and the Schubert Mass in G at Carnegie Hall. It melts me when I find the CD's in the player of his car.

23. I'm scared of my 5 year plan.

24. While I can't remember the names of some of my last college professors, I can remember the name of my Kindergarten, 1st grade and Montessori teachers (although only the 1st names of my Montessori teachers... God, I love Hippie school!).

25. I'm finally starting to realize that none of us every really figure life out... we just do the best we can, moment by moment, day by day.

Whewph - you all know waaaay too much about me know. Go on - nothing to see here. Keep on movin' right along!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ready to get dirrrrrrty!

Custom paint job and it just gets better from there. Looks like I
don't have an excuse to skip cross racing this year... That and sam is
tired of me rising my road bike on dirt all the time!

Many, many thanks for all of the birthday calls and wishes - the 25th
anniversary year is off to a good start! :)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Baking!

And We all Fall Down

Well, maybe not us, but the leaves for sure!

Usually, my birthday weekend means the height of the Fall Foliage coloring here in CT - not so much this year. Rain and crazy wind has dimmed the colors on most trees, but you can find a few beauties out there!

Things are returning to normal training-wise after last weekend's 1/2 Iron tri - a massage on Tuesday brought me right round, I'm even napping less this week than I was last week! By napping less, I mean that I nap on purpose...once...not multiple involuntary naps.

Someone asked me this week if I was sad to not be racing Kona this year and all I could say was "Thank goodness I'm not racing Kona this weekend!" I don't think he understood my excitement at NOT racing, but perhaps watching it this weekend online will inspire me to go back again...

Lots happening this week with race prep, Ironman prep and PARTY prep! This weekend marks my 25th year on this earth - woot!

After finishing 'The Lost Symbol' this morning, I decided to do a bit of cleanup for celebrations this weekend. It got me thinking about where I'm going, what I'd like to do, who I'd like to be and where I've been. I decided a long time ago to stop feeling regret, anger or upset about anything in the past. Even something horrific can be looked at in a positive light if given enough distance (and overused cliches).

At (just about) 25, I all of a sudden realized that my new 5 year plan includes some major life changes. It is pretty likely that in these next 5 years, I will finally want to settle down, start a family, buy a house. Gosh, I'm just not ready to be that adult yet! (Of course, the other part of my 5-year plan is to build my business, race and win a 100 mile running race, travel a bit more and climb a mountain - maybe not Everest in 5 years, but sometime!).

Chatting with a friend when out for a run this week, I asked her when she started her retirement fund, a fund for children and so on. I should preface this by saying that she is one of the most "together" people I know - her reply to me? "We didn't start any of that until well into our 30's - relax already, Mandy!"

Oh yea, Relaxing, why didn't I think of that? I remind myself to do that when training, racing, enjoying time with friends... why didn't it occur to me as I had this life-flip-out?! I suppose like a long distance race, we just need to take it one step, one moment, one feeling at a time.

Happy long weekend y'all and GOOD LUCK to everyone racing in Kona, Hartford and Chicago this weekend!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Felt the Air Rise Up in Me

This weekend was a test of sorts - a benchmark in this "new year". I loaded up the car - with pillows and blankets in case I could not find a place to crash besides my car - and made my way to dirty Jerz to RACE!

With test after test behind me and a nice 25+ hour training week in the books, I was looking to cap the week with a 1/2 Iron. The race seemed a good match, cold, long swim, windy long bike and long run.

What I got, beyond bonus fitness, was a lot of fun and a nice confidence boost. Sure as heck wasn't my fastest race, but on that day, it was good enough. A field of over 500 athletes made it that much more fun and a different crowd of competitors - mostly from the South, DC, Philly and Baltimore area.

My arrival on Saturday was pretty uneventful, I checked in and asked for suggestions on where to stay... "umm, there are a few 'lean-to's' open"... yea, I don't think so! The race is in this beautiful and massive park, but there's nothing else in the area, except Atlantic city a few stops down the Garden State. Back on the road, it occurred to me, all through the meeting I was looking at people, men and women and thinking, "I am going to kick her ass. I'm going to crush him. I'm going to win."

Yea, not the kindest thoughts, but there was a recognition there - FINALLY - after feeling so crummy and some dissapointments this year due to health or technical failures, I'm getting my groove back. That competitive edge usually shows up when I'm well rested, not suffering from Lyme, Mono and a faulty ticker simultaneasouly - and after a big training week.

Needless to say, I was amped. Comfy hotel, good food and a few chapters in my book later accompanied by some vino (yes, I drink wine before all of my races) and it was sleepy time.

The morning came fast, but I was eerily relaxed. Driving to the race site, I missed the exit - still no anxiety. Traffic at the entrance - no problem!

7 AM rolls around and the Sprint athletes are still mulling around. 7:30, they still haven't started. Some volunteer asks me why I don't have my wetsuit on and I smile and tell them, "if the sprint is 30 min. late, so are we - and my race doesn't start until 1 hr after the sprint!".

We ended up being delayed by about 90 min. and boy, was I happy for that extra comfort I got from my kick-around clothes. Some athletes were still soaked and freezing from the 62 degree water - they chose to get in the water early and it just looked painful.

The swim was uneventful - a 4ft deep pond was a better description of the "lake", but who cares - the course was long and we all swam slowly - I just laughed when I saw my swim time. A group of girls had dropped me early on as we started overtaking the men's swim waves and I never reconnected with them. They exited the water about 1:30 ahead of me, but I beat most out of the sandy transition.

Onto the bike, the wind was howling and - pop! - damn, my bottles fly clear out of the cages. I pulled the bike off, knowing the water stop wasn;t for another 29 miles, I ran back, grabbed the bottles and moved on. Better to get the bad luck out of the way early!

A lot of athletes were grumbling "I thought this course was flat!" - to which I could only laugh in response - there was maybe 80 feet of total climbing on this bike course. The one hill on the course, I didn't even notice. It was a lot of fun and a great prep - to get in 60 windy miles never leaving the aero position.

Onto the run, the sun was out and I was excited at how well my legs had performed on the bike. I picked people off the whole time and was in a happy space. Tummy felt good and so I skipped the first few aid stations to let it empty a bit.

The run was a blast - an xterra style off-road/on road mix of trails and paths in the park. I was feeling happy, just letting the legs come around for the first few miles and then things turned bad as I tried to speed up a bit. The tummy was all puffed out and distended and I was not feeling good at all. A few puke spurts later and I felt 5x5 again! I apologized to those around me for my "unlady-like" behavior and turned on the gas. The last few miles didn't "fly" by, but they definitely went by quick!

Across the finish and it was straight to a hose for a shower. I spoke with the RD and gave him my congrats on a fun event and told him I was heading out. A quick peak at the results made me smile, but I didn't feel the need to stay for the trophy.

While this was a strong race, it is just a stepping stone for the biggie. With a bit more focus, I"m ready to tackle the last training for Fla and really shine when I need to. Big hugs and many thanks to you all!! It is a happy new year already!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Multimedia message

I could get used to this pre-race routine!

Friday, October 2, 2009

TGIF

Wow, how'd that happen? All of a sudden, another week has gone by! It's been a busy one - in the middle of a BIG training block ending this weekend with a race - FINALLY! I am determined to kick this mono in the arse! Yea, I keep waking up from involuntary naps - in parking lots at the super market, working in my kitchen and so on, but the good news is that I'm getting in my training and it's going well.

Last night, I was swimming on a base pace of 1:25 and doing my speed sets on a 1:10-1:15 pace - yeeehaw! Coach Eric and I have backed off the swimming a lot this year. In the scheme of things, I was looking to improve my bike and run even more. Yea, I could swim 5x a week, but we've found swimming 2-3 times a week has kept me at a steady level, with maybe a bit of speed loss, but I'm not worrying about it.

The sun is finally shining, I'm getting to race and I will be 25 next week - Turnin' the tides, y'all!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Welcome Capo! Thanks, Cannondale!

Is this a hint to get into track cycling? Or maybe to become a hipster?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Atonement

*Note to my readers, I've been fasting and still training, so anything said hereafter is subject to the rantings of a calorically-depleted athlete whose moods are related to blood sugar :) *

It has been a day of remembrance, one of reflection. Each year, in the Jewish faith, we celebrate our New Year followed by Yom Kippur - our day of atonement. The New Year always falls on the darkest night, when the moon is least visible. Traditionally, about 1/2 way between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, we write down our sins or disappointments from the past year and we cast them away in a flowing river. It is a ritual, but one that provides comfort in a variety of ways. I've been holding onto so much this past year and I think, on occasion, I've let it overshadow all of the good and positive things in my life. I am an emotional creature and I hold onto every achievement and everything that I perceive as a disappointment or regret.

Letting go of the things we cannot change is big. Coming to terms with yourself is the largest part of the day of Atonement. Yes, we ask forgiveness from God for the actions, words, events of the last year, but more importantly, we ask for forgiveness of ourselves. To let go of regret, anger and fear.

It is easy to spiral into remembrance of that which we regret and on a day like today, when we fast, it is the point. But now, as I've finished my long run for the week, sitting with my loving boyfriend to "break"fast, I feel nothing but hope.

Without the hindrance of that excessive mental weight (not to mention it's apparently good for me to destress for my heart!), I plan to make 2009 great again and keep this positive flow of energy, enthusiasm and love thru 2010.

Lots of news to share this week...a new bike has joined the family, an athlete has just committed to her first Ironman and other plans are in the works.

Happy New Year to all, and here is to finding peace with yourself at the end of this day of atonement.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Walkin' the Walk

"Have faith in you and the things you do" - From the disco classic ' We are Family' (yes, I listen to disco and every other type of music! What of it?!)

It has been a super few days for training. I'm still combating paperwork from the 1/2 Iron on the 20th, but looking forward to the next plans for this season. IMFL, The Turkey Trot and Italy!

Training has been great - a few solid swims, runs and bikes. Finally ramping up the intensity a bit, which feels GREAT!

Wednesday I made my way to Dr. Chris Dembski for some ART torture, I mean work. Hurts like hell while he's working, but I feel amazing once it's over. That afternoon brought a beautiful and hilly tempo ride around my quiet local, foliage-filled roads, followed by a sweet muscle strength swim... I LOVE paddles. Nothing makes me feel stronger, meaner or leaner in the pool than paddles. They force you to correct your stroke and are a real strength-building tool. Go get some. It didn't hurt that I had a cute boy swimming next to me and that I got to take him home afterwards!

Thursday brought an open water swim - my first with a wetsuit this season. All these chilly nights have made the lake positively brisk. Lovely, but brisk. It was the first time I've ever felt that tight chest, gasping for breath sensation. It went away after a few strokes and I had a super swim accompanied by my kayaking-fiend of a Mother.

After a family ride on the horses, I pulled on my zoots and hit the pavement for a fun run. 30 Min. steady warm up, 20 min. pick-up and 10 min. cool down. I love running - it's so efficient and yesterday I just floated through the workout.

Today is a nice base ride and swim leading into a big weekend of bricks and possibly another point-to-point run! Woot!

Sunday I'll be volunteering at the 10k race in Southbury, come out an run or just support this great local event!

Have a great weekend y'all!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Check it out! Goodies from my girl Tracy

Visit www.chomperbody.com for her full line of awesome all natural
products!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Momma mouse

She traveled indide the AstroTurf. Survived it being tossed around, so
I found a safe spot for the momma and her babies!

My pumpkin patch

Just because I love October, here is a pic of my pumpkin patch - I have 10 nice ones coming along!!

Tired Pony

It was a whirl-wind weekend, but now it's on to the next project. Lots of paperwork, lots of unpacking, lots of planning for the next event and Italy camp and Ironman training again!

The event was super this past weekend and I have renewed enthusiasm to train!

We're a few short days away from the start of my birthday month... yes, I celebrate for the whole month, that way no one feels badly if they miss the day itself! Plus, I like having an excuse to celebrate continuously!

It's back on the cleanse diet to prep for Florida and loose a few pounds. Feeling good and after ART on Wednesday and a massage this weekend, I'll be squared and ready to go!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma and L'Shanah Tovah!

Happy New Year all my fellow "Chosen People" and to my Grandmother who turns 92 today. I told her I think it's a good omen to have your birthday on the New Year when we inscribe ourselves in the book of life for another year.

I look forward to this new start, to enjoying some apples and honey to toast the sweetness of a new year and a new beginning. To celebrate and find comfort in the rituals of my religion (despite my more spiritual nature) is important and the whole experience is heightened by the fact I am surrounded by (multiple generations of) family, friends and this weekend, many athletes!

This weekend is a wild ride with the 1/2 Iron the culmination on Sunday. The race is better this year than any other year with great sponsors, talented athletes and the low-key vibe I strive for!

Until Monday.... L'shanah Tovah - Happy New Year!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Go...and then Go Some More

With "race week" upon me, I knew I wanted to make this weekend epic. It started with a nice strength swim on Friday night (my favorite time to swim!), then, after watching Paris J'Taime (I highly recommend it - a bunch of French Film shorts about love - great actors) I got a full night's sleep. Saturday was gloomy, but I was determined to have a great long run.

I've always wanted to do a point-to-point run and looking at the map, I found the perfect route - leave from my house, head out on roads for a bit and then hit the dirt from New Milford, thru Roxbury and Bridgewater and into Washington. It was peaceful and perfect - absolutely silent outside except for the rain falling.

A family friend was visiting this weekend and that afternoon, after a ride on the horses, we opened beers and enjoyed the mild evening weather. She lives out in California and commented that she has trouble finding a place where she can just enjoy nature and the quiet - to really listen to her inner voice. It was something I was thinking about earlier in the day.

I never train with music (with the exception of indoor workouts in the winter on rollers), I like to hear my inner dialogue, to think of work, of my relationships, commitments - or even nothing at all. We started talking about this phenomena - I think a lot of people constantly play music when working out or enjoying nature to mute that inner voice, maybe for fear of what it has to say? There are definitely times when thoughts enter my mind - thoughts I'd rather not think - but it's only when we face those that we can really find that inner peace, no?

Sunday brought sunshine and a new riding buddy! My friend Chuck agreed to a nice long ride and we chose to ride the super-fun Housatonic Hills course with a few bonus climbs in there. 4 hours flew by in a nano-second. Didn't feel so hot after the ride - a stop at a local well for water resulted in my throwing up for a few hours.. yucko.

Finishing out a great day, was the return on my boy! All I can say is I need to send him away with the boys more often - it's definitely worth the reward when he gets home! Being swept off to a lovely Indian Dinner at Thali.

Best yet - it's a beautiful Monday morning!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rest In Peace

The local community and outdoor adventure world lost a great man. Dear friend and outdoor junkie, Duncan Boyle died suddenly at the age of 52. He was a kind and wonderful man and I will think of him fondly. Many ridiculously early mornings were spent in the pool with Duncan and he was the first person to sign on to help or participate in any and every endeavor of mine since I was a child.

I will miss him and I know the community will miss him. My thoughts go out to his wonderful family. On a day like this, when we are already remembering the losses suffered, it is important to appreciate those we do have in our lives.

On NPR this morning, a Father was recounting his final conversation with his son, a NYC firefighter just as he was leaving to assess the damage when the first plane hit. When asked if he had any regrets, he said, "No, I have none. How many people can you say that your last words to them before they died were 'I love you' and their final reply to you was 'I love you'."

I suppose it's fitting that on a day of mourning, it is raining outside. Each time I have suffered a loss, it has been raining. Maybe it's overly simplistic to make such an observation - a dark, dreary day makes one contemplative - but it is apt. It poured the day in July that I said my final goodbye to West and it only seems right that it should be the same while mourning Duncan and the victims of 9/11.

This afternoon, when I go for my swim workout, I know exactly whom I'll be thinking of. We all say goodbye in a different way and perhaps this will help me come to terms with the loss of this friend.

New Beginnings

2010 is going to be good. Yea, I said it - I'm already looking forward to 2010!

Last night I was in the city meeting with my new cycling teammates. It was an awesome time - such empowering and exciting women and we are looking to rock it while having fun next year. We came into it with great enthusiasm and organization - the results will definitely speak for themselves.

I'm looking forward to having some more direction cycling-wise for next year and it is helpful to get an outside perspective about what others think are my strengths.

All in all, very cool evening.

We're looking for additional sponsors, so email me if you're interested!! mandy (dot) braverman (at) gmail (dot) com.

YAY, racing!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Eating the 'Humble Pie'

So this weekend I got an invite for a ride w/ the Cannondale/Stage 1 Crew. They are a FAST bunch and a fun group. I was planning on a long-ish ride for Saturday and a brick run to follow. The ride was touted as a nice 2-hour loop. Ok, so a bottle of water and a banana should do it for that part and I'll restock for my own rider later!

2 hours became just about 4 of me falling off the back for the entirety of it. Mercifully, different ride participants (Joanne, Murray, Dan, Joey, My Sam Boy and Craig) came back to pull my sorry a$$ back up to the group.

Totally depleted nutritionally (and the ego was in pretty bad shape too), I got my butt back to the boy's house and passed out until well into dinner time.

Sunday was touted as a T1 brick day - a 1 hour HARD swim, folllowed by a 2 hour steady ride. I wanted to add a short brick run to it to make up for the day before. Well, I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck... this Lyme is seriously kicking my butt. After a hike and splash with the dog, I made my way to the couch for a few hours of napping. While most of the day was shot, I was not wasting it! Headed out for a nice run and got the legs moving. It didn't hurt that at the end of my run, the Whalen family - out for a Sunday ride on their bikes - called out "nice butt!". Before I had time to turn around and glare, I realized that sly, smiling face was my Johnny Whalen's!!

A family dinner topped off the schedule and led into a lovely Monday of long runs and family swims in the Lake. End THAT night with a BBQ at the Tarrywile and I still don't know where the time went.

All I do know is that the 1/2 Iron is fast approaching (on Sept 20th if you want to race or volunteer!) and that not long after that, I'll be off to Florida for IM!

In the meantime, I'm trying to find some other races to pop into - any suggestions? Running, cycling, tris... looking into tris in October...

Onward, y'all!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More tests

And this time, someone thought I was going to blow up cvs. Yup,
aparently being blonde and 5'1" makes me look pretty scary... Or maybe
it's just the wires. Could be.

The good news is, with this baby hooked up, I get to race HARD
tonight! Sweeet!!!

Can't wait and as the Lyme meds are finally kicking on, I'm feeling
more like myself. Had a great swim and run yesterday and it was the me
I haven't felt in months. What a difference!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Race site, post cleanup

Beautiful Lake Zoar at Kettletown Park. Just before Sunset yesterday.


So, a few days ago I visited our 1/2 Iron race site. P.s. Still time to reg for the 1/2 Iron Individual, Aqua-bike and Relay divisions on Sept 20th. Visit www.endureitmultisports.com for more info!


I went for a swim at the park, that was packed, I think in large part due to stay-cation craziness! The water was perfect - clear and beautiful, but I did see a few weeds. I decided to be pro-active and before any of those buggers even made it close to surface level, I wanted to nip them in the bud. Yesterday, Mother extraordinaire and Corinne (friend extraoridnaire) hopped in kayaks, grabbed some garden tools and we spent hours pulling out any and every week we could see. A lot of fun and very satisfying work. What a way to spend a day off!!


Lots doin' this week - another Eric Hodska set of DVD shoots this week - can someone say starting a cleanse diet again so I look good on camera?!


You know it's Fall when Texas Hold 'em games start up again - many of the C-dale crew ship off to Germany for Eurobike and the Eaglemans have made their way back to Switzerland.


I finished another book (I'll post a full list here on all my summer reading) yesterday - David Sedaris' "Barrel Fever". So great. I'm hoping to snag tickets to see him in October here in CT.


In other news -huge congrats to Victoria on her kickass race at Canada, Michael Seiler - an Ironman, officially! and to Kate who took 4th in the female pros at IMLou. You all are awesome!!


I had another solid weekend of training - with a nice 4 hour ride and brick, and a long run on Saturday followed by a swim. Today it's back to the grind and tomorrow, I get to race!! I'm on my way to the hospital early to get hooked up to the Halter monitor and I've been instructed to "go as hard as possible". Wohoo!!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

When Life Gives you Lyme(s), make... Margaritas?

No, technically* it's not funny, but it kinda is... seems tests have come back and I tested positive for Lyme disease and Ehrlichia. Yay. Docs think that compounded the other things going on to make me feel so poo-ey the last few months. Just been tired all the time and not functioning, racing or training like myself at all.

Now that I'm on meds, I'm hoping to be feeling tip top in a few days and get back to what this blog is about... training and racing!!

Since I have been training, albeit super, super easy, here are some observations about life recently:

1. Keeping your HR low on a hill sometimes means having to walk or death shuffle. Other times, you will think you are running well and the dog will be walking as you huff and puff away.

2. Running in 90 degree heat with no humidity feels great!

3. Construction guys are always creepy and no one likes to be cat-called. I've now taken to reminding them that they wake me up at 5:30 every morning. And I might use a bad word or two. Hey, I need something to atone for on Yom Kippur!

4. A lot of people think I'm crazy w/ Ironman and all, but my friend Kate is SUPER crazy. (good luck and I hope you kick all those pro-lady butts at IMLOU this weekend!). She is beyond vegan, well, beyond anything I know. Ultramarathoner champion multiple times over.. she lives on Bananas and the occasional nut. Literally, like 10 bananas a day.

5. Wednesday night, post bike race is made for Mexican meals - SO good after a hard race!

6. Dexter re-runs are not good for treating insomnia.

7. Having new Sponsors vying for my promotions and sending lots of cool stuff? Awesome!

8. Looking into MBA programs with the boyfriend - super cool.

9. If you aren't feeling like yourself and are sleeping for 3 hours instead of that nice little 30 minute nap you plan, go get tested for Lyme. It's evil... evil I tell you!

10. Planning kick-ass Italian escapes is one of the most fun activities ever!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Goal list

Just off the top of my head!

Athletic Goals for 2009/2o10:
Cat 2 cycling card
Run a 50 miler
Run a 100 miler
Run 25 miles for my 25 bday - point to point
Sub 11 at Ironman FL, Sub 10:40 at Ironman FL
Sub 1:30 1/2 mar during a 1/2 Iron
Sub 3:45 marathon at IM
Sub 3 marathon on it's own
Sub 2:30 1/2 Iron bike split
Sub 5 bike split at IM
Sub 55 Swim at IM
Swim marathon - 5 miles or more
Climb Everest (or maybe another mountain - an no, not in 2010)
Qualify to race Pro
Top Amateur at IM LP
Other IM to do in this lifetime:
IM Canada, France, CDA, UK, Switzerland, Australia, W. Australia, Canary Islands, Malaysia, SOuth Africa, Brazil, Barcelona.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wicked

WoWza - thanks for the Target Training folks for finding THIS super sweet video.

Fun in the Sun!

So yesterday I was not the one being cheered, but the one doing the cheering... along with Luna girl and Miss Hannah.

Jer and Sam took on their first Olympic distance race and the best thing to make you want to race has to be watching one! The boys were super relaxed before the start - the rumored wetsuitless swim ended up allowing wetsuits and that seemed to calm everyone's nerves.

There was something wonderful about standing on the shore of the water, watching all of these athletes prepare for their race. Standing there in flip flops and jeans, walking my dog and talking with Hannah about everything from babies to MBA's. The gun went off and while I was nervous and excited for Sam and Jer, that usual panic I feel was missing - 1. I was not in charge of all of these people, 2. I wasn't maxing out my heart rate to be first out of the water!

The boys both had great swims, especially considering Jer had never swum that far and Sam doesn't do any tri training (Yea, and there is something great about that too!).

Once out of the water, I could finally relax - those two are machines on their bikes and can run just as well. Sam debuted his beautiful new Slice - in a new paint job that has not been previewed yet. It was FAST!! Just as I was expecting him back in from the bike portion, I heard an ambulance and it immediately turned me into "mother hen". All I could think was that his bars were not tightened and had fallen or something of the sort... and yes, I am officially becoming my Mother.

Thankfully, both Sam and Jer made it in just fine - everyone was entertained by our cheering and antics. Just a blast. There is nothing like seeing people coming out of transition for the run portion (well, maybe coming across the finish), but there is so much energy, exhuberance and excitement, it's impossible not to cheer!

Like a total do-do bird, I missed Sam and Jer coming across the line, but it was a great day all-around. Sam took 16th overall, not a bad day at all!

Being on the sidelines meant a bit of recon work - I always like to see what other race directors are doing and it's something you can't really grasp when you're in the midst of a lactate threshold endeavor. Beyond that, I was able to scope out the short course competition, which still includes Ironman champ, Donna Kay-Ness. She demolished the women's field, but my friend Cassie came in a strong 2nd place. Her boyfriend, Max from Thule I believe smashed the aqua-bike and it was great to see all the HEAT athletes and other tri friends.

In other news, CONGRATULATIONS TO HANNAH AND NOAH - game over. Just kidding!! Congrats on your nuptials, you two make a beautiful couple!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Today's hilarity - luna calls to the noon whistle (and anytime the fire whistle goes off)

video

Oh Happy Day

"Don't let the past remind you of what you are not now. I am yours, you are mine, you are what you are." - Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

Goodness, here I have these good intentions to keep you all updated, and I haven't blogged since Sunday! Things are great - LOVING this heat, despite all the heat-haters. Believe me, all I have to think of is a single moment in -5 degree weather, 3 feet of snow and I'm praising the heat! It's not all that bad, neither is the humidity. Makes you tough and makes you learn how to dress and hydrate.

I'm still on training parole - keeping the heart rate below 145 - and it's a challenge! Today I walked up a hill (granted, it was 22 percent grade for those 500 feet), but it's the first time I've walked during a run in years. I tried to remind myself this is fine for right now - keeping things easy and just staying active.

Sam and the boys are gearing up for an Olympic distance tri this Sunday and I'm bummed that I'll be on the sidelines... especially since I've vowed for a re-match against the boy!

Tonight we celebrate though - we celebrate eachother and today's milestone!

Open water swim, hot run and now... champagne! I am so blessed to have a partner that is not only my love, but my friend, my family, a part of me.