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!