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! 



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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!