Friday, May 29, 2009

Just a few goodies that arrived today from my sponsor, Bear Naked yay!

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Happy Birthday Love!


I wrote a long post, filled with praise, but I'm pretty sure you know all the ways I love you. Happy birthday, my love.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Re-Arrange

I'm not sure why, but I'm always on a quest for "cozy". I like to find what's comfortable, what works. Not just in my home, but in my training. Coach Eric has been awesome at helping me to find my "cozy". We change up workouts, find what I respond to best and so far, I've had a number of amazing workouts that leave me feeling confident, motivated...and tired.

At home, it takes a bit more coaxing. Sam aka Danny Tanner, is into neatness. Now, I'm all about cleanliness, but take one look at my computer space and you can instantly tell that I'm a non-linear thinker. My mom used to say it was because I'm a Libra - the scales. I'm a walking contradiction. I love balance and order, but to achieve that, I need to make a mess first.

My home is constantly changing. I set things up and then want to move them again. Poor Sam, I'm always asking him where the bed should go or where I should hang something. Once it's right, I leave it, but until then, I fidget.

I'm always inspired by my friends. Erin and Erik, now living in Switzerland, made a house into a home in Danbury. Their house was perfect - eclectic and modern. Utilitarian and stylish - I LOVED it. Not to mention, they made a downstairs closet into a bathroom - something I'm trying to figure out how to do...

Aiding in the outdoor decor department, my buddies over at Homeward Bound sent over a sweet outdoor table and chair set that I've fallen in love with. 2 pink chairs, 2 lime green and a black bistro table. I'll post pictures later, but it will be perfect for some roof parties!! Little by little, the house is coming together (yes, I know I've lived here since November) and I can't wait to post pics on that too!

Tonight I'll get to share the evening with my ultimate "cozy-maker/bringer" - Sam. His birthday is tomorrow, but we are celebrating, just the two of us, tonight. I'm sure you can guess what tomorrow's post will be about!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Keeping the Balance

It is a wild time, but isn't every time a wild one? Here in CT, the leaves are out, the flowers in full bloom and weddings everywhere you look. One of those weddings happens to be in my family! This Saturday, my big sister will be married. She is the first child, grandchild, niece, etc. in my family to get married, so EVERYONE is coming into town for it.

On top of wedding excitement, this Friday is Sam's bday! We will be going from the rehearsal to the rehearsal dinner to the Tarrywile birthday event... all the night before the wedding. Can't wait!

Life stuff is fun - events like that are fun, bills and work stress, less so, but thank goodness for being a long-course athlete. I get a slew of workouts to banish my stress. Training has been awesome, I've felt fluid and strong and confident - it will be a lot of fun to finally race a tri this year after all of this bike racing! Sadly, I'll be missing the Ridgefield tri this year, but good luck, Evan!!

I thought I'd share on of my favorite swim workouts from coach Eric:

500 repeats, broken down as:

100 steady, 100 pull, 100 kick with fins and board, 100 kick on back no board, 100 FAST then rest :30 seconds.

This workout just flies by and is a lot of fun!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

It has been a busy week, but I think that's the sign of a good week! Lots happening here in Mandyland - new sponsorship opportunities, new charitable opportunities, it is all VERY cool!

The June 19th Lake Waramaug Eco-Friendly Charity Sprint tri is fast approaching and the 1/2 Iron too at this point.

My training has been going well and I'm working with Eric on nutrition now. With so much packed in, Sam and I have been eating dinner European style - around 10pm most nights. This weekend was a trip to New Hampshire for a birthday celebration. It was fantastic. Portsmouth is such a cute town - like a mini Boston! We had a superb dinner (yup, late again) at the Blue Mermaid, a kind of Caribbean fusion restaurant. The service was great and the meal delicious. Sunday was spent outdoors and with Sam's family, then it was back to CT for a wild memorial day party. We arrived around 10 PM and it was mayhem.

Yesterday, we woke up to the sounds of fire engines honking and some crazy military planes flying so low, the house shook. I looked out my window (there's a fire station across the street) and noticed all of the firemen dressed in matching uniforms. Excited, I pulled Sam and Luna out of bed and we walked up to the green of New Milford to watch the parade. Everyone was out and it was the perfect morning to soak up the sun.

We arrived just as one of the vets was playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes and looking around, most everyone was moved to near tears. Seeing these dapper, proud men and women, reminded me of those in my family that served our country.

Both of my Grandfathers served during World War II. My Mom's Father served in the Navy and my Father's Father was a Bomber Pilot in those tiny planes. I had the great fortune of getting to know both of these men, they were an active part of my life until their deaths while I was in high school. They had never spoken about their war experiences until my sister and I were asked, as children in Montessorri school, to interview our grandparents. It was an eye opening experience and though we are at war today, I feel somehow removed from it. Maybe because of my own political leanings, maybe because I've never been asked to serve or had the bravery to seek out combat. Whatever politics or ideals one holds, there should always be a certain amount of reverance and respect for those that do serve. BBQ's, warm weather and a day off are nice, and it's wonderful to know that is all possible because of those that have taken a stand for our Country.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Sunday Ride

To cap off a full week of training and other fun - weddings and celebrations - Sam and I headed out for a long ride and run. Enjoying the luxury of not having the dog at home, we slept in late and then went out to the cute diner for a proper pre-ride breakfast.

The heat and humidity of Saturday gave way to a cool, breezy, cloudy Sunday. Even at noon, I was searching for my rain cape for warmth (why yes, I have gone soft!).

We decided to drive to Washington and do our ride out of my folk's place - making out way through Warren, Cornwall, Cornwall Bridge, Sharon, Falls Village, Canaan, Salisbury, Massachusetts, New York State and then home again.

The plan called for a 4 hour ride followed by a brick run. Well, 3 hours into the ride and still in Salisbury, I broke the news to Sam. "Um, babes? I kinda mis-calculated the distance of this ride...this isn't realy my 4-hour loop - it's a bit longer."

'No worries,' he says, ' About how much longer is it?'

'Well, um, er, about an hour ... maybe 2?" I replied.

Boyfriend extraordinaire didn't freak out - he did a food check, then got in his drops and proceeded to pull me home at a pace of over 20 mph. Well, that is until we got to the climb on Rte 45 from Cornwall up to Warren. 6k and a an average grade of nearly 14%. Yup, hurts so good.

I had orders to keep my cadence at 90 on the flats and 70-80on the climbs. So I just tootled right along. Sam, blasted away from me right at the start of the climb and as I saw him disappear up the road, all I could feel were pride and admiration. He put a good 1/4 mile or so gap into me and after completing the uphill time trial, pedaled down to me and did the last crest again...and then sprinted past me for the town line win.

I would have objected, but I was ready to die from climbing while he was smiling and barely breathing hard. Yes, Cat 3's out there - you better watch out for Sam at Housy Hills this year b/c he is going to dominate.

we pulled into the driveway 4 hours and 40 minutes later with a total trip distance of a little over 92 miles. Hard, mountainous miles. Thank gawd Sam pulled me butt around all day.

Strapping on the shoes and grabbing the dog, I headed out for the brick run in Steep Rock preserve where Sam met us a while later.

Homemade fajitas, a bottle of Chimay ale and a bit of leftover chocolate mousse cake made for a perfect end to a perfect [Sun]day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Not a bird fan

So you may all hate me for saying this, but despite my love of animals and the earth's creatures in general, I am not a fan of birds.

The pooping, the sounds, those early wake-ups? No thank you. I think I've only liked one bird ever - my friend Michele's pet parrot, Dexter. Well, and maybe the parrot from the liquor store that had a foul mouth. Yea, so parrots are cool, they can be taken off the bird list since they actually talk and exhibit some kind of higher brain function. Ducks, Herons and hummingbirds are ok too. Pelicans look funny and Robins are pretty against the snow, but that doesn't make up for the hell on earth that is pigeons, crows and barn swallows.

Where does this come from, you ask? Well, I'm not entirely sure, but I think it may have to do with being pooped on an excessive number of times. As a kid, barn swallows were constantly pooing on me. In Brooklyn, I was once pooed on 3x in a single day. And today, after a long hiatus, I was pooed on while running. Not a full-on hit, but enough to make me gag and wash my hand repeatedly when I got home.

Years ago, someone told me it was good luck to get pooed on by a bird. For me, I find it happens when I'm most stressed out and as un-enjoyable as it is, there is something oddly comical about it that snaps me back into reality. Shit happens (excuse the language! but that term encompasses stress, poo and a variety of other items) and part of life is taking stock of the situation and then cleaning things up until they are presentable again.

Having this happen today only served to remind me to laugh at the stress. To laugh at the thought that I believed nothing would be more stressful than the teenage years, then college- but it's the real-life bit after all of it that really causes stress. Writing papers, worrying about grades or what to wear to class or if you'll get that job are stressers for sure, but they are nothing compared to what life throws at you when it really begins.

My very best friend, Joe, cracked me up a few years ago - we're both small business owners and had faced obstacles and the normal hiccups getting started. He called me one day and said, 'All of those years of school, all of those specific business courses and not one really prepared me for what I'd face as an entrepreneur. I wish there was a class called all the ways things will go wrong and the art of surviving on the dented cans from the grocery store.'

He was so on target. Nothing really prepares you for what you'll face. You can try and get a general outline for what may come, but real life doesn't follow a course syllabus.

This of course is also true for Ironman - you can prepare to a point, but it's the skills you learn by doing that really serve you best of all. 2 times now, I've been crashed out of big races by another competitor. This isn't something you can prepare for - Ironman is an individual event - you don't expect someone to cut your day short. It just happens.

Sometimes life (or a bird) poops on you and you've got to count it as another lesson learned.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Words to Live By

I like mantras. I like having a positive outlook. And I like some of the following quotes, lyrics and statements from friends, famous people I'd like to have as friends or dead people who were just smart and witty...

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning." -Mitch Albom


"If you've got nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all." - My Grandmother (and Mother)

"Some people have brains." - from a sentence I wrote in 1st grade using the vocabulary word "brains" - the teacher called my Mother after reading that.

"Count yourself incredibly blessed if you can count your true friends on one hand." - My Grandmother

"You've gotta have heart." - Damn Yankees

"The mouth is for eating, the nose is for breathing." - My Yoga/Meditation instructor

"I think you just scared all the patients out of my waiting room" - My doctor last week after re-setting my knee

"Don't let your dreams be dreams, this living isn't as hard as it seems." - Jack Johnson

"Every little thing is gonna be alright." - Bob Marley

"Consider yourself" - Oliver

ok, enough of the song lyrics, I promise!

"I pledge
My head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service, and
My health to better living,
For my club, my community, my country, my world...and my horse" - well, we added that last part at 4-H horse camp... and got yelled at every morning for it.

"Oh the places you'll go... this one is too long to type - Dr. Seuss

"All you need is love" - The Beatles

To Be Continued... But just a few that have been on my mind

Chin up, y'all!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

La Alma de mi Madre

My Momma has got soul. The woman is the definition of kindness and compassion - and she is liberal with these things when it comes to family. I don't believe there has ever been a moment when I doubted my Mother's love and commitment to me. She is my constant. When everything else changes in the world, in my world, she is there.

I can talk to my Mother about anything, and I do talk to her about everything! She is my friend, my confidant, my mentor. She helps reel me back to myself when I start moving in too many directions. She keeps me from eating crap - all it took was one pinch on the butt and a "are you sure you want to eat that chocolate brioche" to snap me back into reality.

So, with that - a few things about my Mother:

She reminds me that there is a time for indulgence - a time to splurge and many more times when you need to save instead.

She reminds me that plans are just that - skipping yoga class to have a glass of wine with girlfriends on the porch achieves the same serenity and joy.

She is always right - from what color looks good on me to what boyfriend is bad for me - but she'll wait for me to find out on my own.

She lets me make mistakes and doesn't hold them against me afterward.

She can still do a split and I still think it's one of the coolest things ever.

I call my mom "the ant", because she is freakishly strong for her tiny ballet dancer build.

I love my mom because she and my Dad "don't sweat the small stuff". Their relationship is the strongest, most loving I know - over 30 years and they still love one another as much as the day they met.

She reminds me that relationships and the things you do for others in the world are what count - no one remembers that your house was always in House and Garden Magazine condition, they remember generosity, sincerity and warmth.

She made sure I knew my Grandparents and makes sure that my 91 (almost 92) year old Grandma and I have plenty of time together - that I learn my family history.

She loves her mother.

And I love her.

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Thoughts and Prayers

Friends and Readers:

I just found out today that my friend's house burned down. He and his girlfriend are great athletes and great friends. They lost everything - literally, everything in the fire, so I'm trying to put together a care package of items for them to get started again.

Richard is fit and a size Medium in most clothes (cycling too). Steph is a women's small. If you have anything that you'd like to contribute - even something as small as goggles or a swim cap, it would be awesome to be able to send it up to them.

Welcome to my office

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Calendar

It is not an uncommon thing to look at one's calendar and realize there is not a single day that is blank. I'm not sure why the lack of "free days" stuns me, since it seems that each year there are more and more events. It's at these times that I realize I'd rather my calendar be chocked-full rather than empty (though the few technology-free days in St Croix were GLORIOUS!).

Lots of weddings coming up, but post injury, I'm forced to skip racing until June. I should be back into my training in another week or so and I'm just staying as positive and productive as I can in the meantime. I think what is making this a more productive time is that this injury was a freak accident - so it gives me hope - (knock on wood) I have no other nagging injuries at all. My training has been great and a little re-coup time should do a body good.... I'm already raring to go for Rev 3 and Placid... not to mention all the bike races in there! WOOT!

By the way, a HUGE shout out to my Teany teammates, they are rocking it and we are really making our presence known! Can't wait to get back out there with all of them... we're trying to find a weekend to do a training camp here in CT, so if anyone wants to ride with 10 hot, fast (get your mind out of the gutter) women, we're happy for the company!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bigger Fish to Fry

Sometimes no matter what preparation you do, things don't turn out your way. I can't complain, my race didn't end so well this weekend, but my training, pre-race and race (up to the bad part) were great.

As I said to Eric, "No tears, there are bigger fish to fry."

Pre-race felt good - on Wednesday night Eric let me hop into the Bethel Summer Series race - Took a nice top-10 finish in the B field and felt great. Sam took top 10 in the A-race - making the breakaway group with some INCREDIBLE riders!

After a lovely dinner out with my boy, it was a few hours of sleep, then an early pick-up for the airport. The driver scooped up my Momma-bear as well and we flew to St Croix together. I love my Mom and it's amazing, no matter how much time we spend together, we're always happy for more!

Pre-race was uneventful, I got some great meals and practice workouts - I read 3 books (Angels and Demons, Slumdog Millionaire(formelry Q and A) and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) and I recommend them all!

The heat was no problem and the choppy water was a welcome sight for me. The night before the race, Eric and I got in a nice pre-race chat. We talked about one of my top goals this year - to stay relaxed before and during races. To not worry about jokeying for position, but biding my time. Focussing on my Pranayama breathing - something I do in my yoga practice each day to center myself. It helps to banish any bad thoughts or worries and remind me to focus on the present, the now, what's happening with my own body, not the woman with really fit legs that is riding just behind me!

Race morning came and I loaded up with my usual pre-race breakfast (part of my race nutrition plan made by Jesse of QT2 Systems. After eating, I hopped back into bed for another hour, woke up and body marked myself before hitting transition. Hannah and a few other girls were there. The pro women were on the rack next to us and were fighting about racking position... seemed like a real waste of energy to me. Maybe next year Tom will just number the racks like Ironman so there can be no arguments, well, or less fighting! I suppose that is what happens when there is a lot of money on the line!

The girl racked next to me asked if I had lost my luggage, confused, I asked her what she meant - "well, where is all of your stuff? Your towel and such?" I just smiled - you see, I'm a minimalist when it comes to racing - I think wearing my visor is a bit of overkill. My transition area takes up a tiny bit of room - there is the bike w/ everything on it and then directly next to my front wheel are my running shoes and visor ready to go! That's all you need!

Ok, so onto the race - I swam over to the race start in my glorious Xterra Speedsuit and felt great - my arms were loose, the water comfortable with a slight current. The skies were clear and the sun was rising slowly. On the beach I found Hannah, Noah, Maggie, Duffy - a really nice volunteer who owns my favorite restaurant, Savant, and another Eric Hodska athlete - miss Margaret Coffey - who won my 1/2 marathon the first year I put it on.

After about a million waves went off, they lined up the first group of amateur women (18-29). I found Hannah and stayed in her shadow. I don't think she found this as amusing as I did! The gun goes off, I get a great start and am staying on Hannah's unbelievably fast feet when I get a hard elbow to the ribs - it sends me into the ropes and I lose Hannah's feet. I start sprinting to try and catch back on, but it's fruitless. A few seconds later, I notice a girl to my right swimming just a hair faster than me. I bee-line it for her feet and she pulls me thru the course. At a few times, the men got rough. The girl decided to take the course a bit wide, so we lost some time, but I'm still positive swimming on her feet was tactically the best choice and I came out of the water fresh.

I passed her in transition and thanked her for the tow. Onto the bike, I could not wait. With all the bike racing, I'm feeling super strong on my bike - even though this was my first ride on my tri-bike since Florida last November... oops! Maybe I'm liking that road cycling too much!

Eric instructed me to keep it controlled until after the Beast, so that's what I was doing - amazingly, even keeping it easy I was averaging over 20 mph. That first section is protected and you can really move. Through town I was feeling great, I saw my mom and I had moved up a few slots. My friend Monica came by me a minute or so before and I cheered and cheered - she has been suffering from a groin injury and was having a great day despite it.

A few miles before "the Beast" I heard that unwelcome sound of pssssssssshhhhhhhhtttttt! I pulled over and saw that my rear tire was entirely flat. So much for my "all-condition tires" plan. I get to the side of the road and find that one of my rear carbon cages has shattered off, thankfully it was my right one and not my left that contained my flat kit. Well, not so lucky, I found the jostling opened my flat kit bag and I had tube, tire levers, C02, but no trigger for the C02. I did what I could with the tire and realized my front was going flat too- slowly. Some people on the side of the road asked if I was ok, but I found they had no pump. So I waited. After 45 minutes, I asked if I could borrow their cell phone. I called my mom and told her what was happening, that I was going to continue, but that my day was pretty much done. Sometimes it's just not your day. Last year I had a flawless race, so I can't be upset.

I waited for almost 90 minutes for the sag vehicle on course. I used the time wisely - drank, ate, took a pee and chatted with the spectators. The sag vehicle was awesome and very nice. They got me up and running. A few miles later, on cold legs, I hit the beast. I was excited and amped and began climbing. Well, after 90 minutes on the side of the road, there are some less experienced cyclists on the road. The beast was lined with walkers, not a single other person on their bike but me. I get to about .4 the way up it and after weaving thru people, I'm calling out for people to move left (St Croix drives on the left, so we cycle on the left and pass on the right). Well, a guy moved left and then moved right - and right into me. I slammed my knee into my bike and heard a nasty sound and just felt this white-hot pain, I death wobbled and then recoverd to get to the top. I knew I had done something bad b/c the pain was extreme.

I finished the bike portion of the race - my bike computer read just under 3 hours, but my wristwatch exposed the time I had lost waiting. I thought to myself, "not finishing is not an option." Coming into town, I didn't take me feet out of my shoes, I went to dismount and couldn't bear weight on my leg. Before I could even call out for medical assitance, my mom was there propped under me. Tears filled my eyes with thanks. I wanted so much from the day, but ruining the rest of the season, or my athletic career for one race was not worth it.

In the med tent, the doctor came over to examine my knee. He started to torque it and immediately he said he had to set it. Well, besides the fact that he wreaked of pot, there was no way he was setting my knee. I called my doctor right then and made an appointment for when I got home.

So, like I said, no tears. It was a great day for competiton and a huge congrats go out to my friends who rocked the day: Monica took 3rd in her division, Amanda Lovato took 7th overall, Cait Snow took 3rd Overall - Jesse, Timmy and the QT2 crew had awesome results and my friend Hannah won our age group in spectacular fashion and is going to Kona again!!

When my sister and I competed, she used to say, "if I'm going to lose to someone, I want it to be you". I felt the same way. And I feel the same way with Hannah. She is so strong and she and I have jokeyed for years. In 2007 she took the Kona spot. Last year she had a mechanical and I took the Kona spot, This year, she won it and her text message after the race simply said:

"Next year is your year".

While I'm def. returning next year, I'm already thinking about my upcoming races this year. Gosh, and you all thought I was motivated before... watch out now!!!