Monday, May 24, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Workout 1: Bike - nice 2 hour spin. Banged this one out no problem. I LOVE my bike (well, bikes*, all of them).
Workout 2: Run - 75 minutes, hilly, pushing the pace - and I did just that... in pouring, driving rain. Then I hiked with the dog... in pouring, driving rain. And loved every minute.
Workout 3: Swim - just about 4k yards. and that will be done in time for me to tackle workout #4 - cleaning the house before LOST. Yes, I'm officially a loser. I admit I love that f-ing island. Maybe it's just that I had a hamster named Jacob.
Tomorrow marks the return of bike racing - I'll be racing with the FAST boys at the Bethel Summer Series Criterium. 1 hour, 1 mile loop, and a ridiculously fast pace. Now that I think about it, tomorrow will have a bit of swim/bike/run... with some nice aggravating time spent at the car dealership in the morning. Maybe that will help to fuel the workouts!
Monday, May 17, 2010
I'm in the midst of designing a new uniform for this year, adding events to the calendar, planning a family wedding (not mine, silly!), redesigning the BraveMandy site and so much more.
The new BraveMandy will be launching soon and I couldn't be more excited.
I've been slowly coming around - slowly being the optimal word here - recovering from St Croix always takes me longer than any other event.
Saturday I had a great ride with Dikran and Sam - Sadly my legs did not come along for the ride!
Sunday morning, fast-girl Joanne came to rock my world. We started with a hard 90 minute trail run and then a 90 minute road ride (with some dirt).
Today I'm sore and happier than ever!
Saturday, May 8, 2010
My mother makes me feel brave, safe, loved, nourished and so much more.
My Mom is one of a kind - selfless beyond measure, she is always there for me...and everyone.
Good times and bad, my mother always helps me to put things in perspective. I tell her everything and we are beyond friends. We are always connected, even when apart.
She even loves me enough to get on death trap airplanes like the one above.
Mom, I love you. Happy Mother's Day. I hope one day I can be even a sliver of the mother you have been to me.
Friday, May 7, 2010
"Done, done and I'm on to the next one." - Foo Fighters
So, as I sit here sniffling with a nice post-race cold (standing, actually... I don't like to sit down at the computer, or well, ever) I just signed up for the next big event before Ironman Lake Placid.
I want my dream (again, yes I've had it once before) and I'm going to get it.
Woot, Woot Woot! I CANNOT wait!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
A whole year has gone round from first triathlon of the season in 2009 to 2010. The same race, Ironman St Croix is always a marker for me. A staple in my race calendar.
Last year was a trial in so many ways, I was put through the ringer - fighting for my safety, my health, my business, my true friends.
It's amazing what happens in a year's time. I've come back stronger than I ever thought imaginable. Sam and I are quickly approaching our 2 year anniversary later this year. I'm LOVING my bike racing team and teammates and the results are a wonderful bonus. I'm fit, I'm healthy and I'm ready to rock this year.
Our first EndureIT event was a HUGE success, achieving carbon-neutrality, once again! A few days later (oof, that part was hard) I flew down to St Croix with my mom (Happy Early Mother's Day!) to race the hardest 70.3 on the planet.
Despite spf 70, I achieved a total body burn the first day and spent the rest of the time in the shade pre-race. I felt great in all my workouts and just in general. Relaxed and confident beyond measure. I wanted the win and I knew I would get it.
I had a great few days with my mom and she is truly a saint.
I woke up at about 3:30 to eat my patented QT2 SYSTEMS breakfast and it went down easy. At 5:30 the temps were in the 80's and humid, it was going to be HOT!
The race starts on a little island in the harbor - you have to swim there. At 6 AM I hugged my mom and swam to the Cay. Maggie and Duffy and many other friends were there and we all huddled together, trying to think of anything other than the pain to come.
At 6:30, the pro's were off. At 6:50 my wave went off, with no warning. I had a GREAT start and made a nice gap on the field, sadly, I led 3 other girls with me who then overtook me as we hit the traffic of all the men's waves. Ugg. I found the feet of the 4th girl and we swam together. The swim was gorgeous, as usual, but it always seems a bit long. I was aiming for a 25-28 min. swim and came out in about 31/32 min.
I had a quick transition (fastest of the day for both) and settled onto my bike.
Man-o-man are the roads rough in St Croix and exponentially so, since a few years ago. I rode steady, but didn't push too hard. There were many crashes and the heat/wind/humidity combo made for many DNF's. I could have ridden harder and perhaps I should have because I didn't really reel in the girls ahead of me (only a few minutes, since we all came out of the swim together, pretty much).
Coming off the bike, my right foot was killing me, still not sure what happened. That first run lap was pure pain. My chest was tight, my heart rate tacky, chills, nausea and just plain misery. I walked the aid stations and death-shuffled between. I dreamed of hiding in the woods instead of running my 2nd lap. How easy it would be to flag down a volunteer or cry on my mom that I wasn't feeling good. I thought of retiring from Triathlon - just forgetting it all. Somewhere around mile 5 of the run, I got excited. I thought of everyone pulling for me:
Sam watching Luna, My Dad, my friends, my sponsors - everyone sending and giving their all so that I can race triathlons.
As I made the turn to start my second run lap, I saw my mom. I told her I loved her and smiled. The crowds were great. I thought of my mom, waking up at 3 AM, in the sun all day with clipboard and stopwatch. The 2nd lap went MUCH better. I doused myself with water at every chance and walked the aid stations to get in fluids, ice, whatever I could get. I passed many athletes and felt really good about getting to finish (last year I had a mechanical and then a crash that dislocated my knee). Crossing that line was pure joy. So was the ice-cold towel the volunteers put on my back and legs.
I found the girls that beat me and congratulated them all. We had some nice chats and then I found Miss Jodie Ellis who had a FANTASTIC 2nd half-ironman race. Jodie was all smiles (somehow) after the effort and I could not be more proud of her. She will have an AMAZING season!
In the end, I was about 30 min. off my time from 2 years ago, but so were most of the pro women and other competitors. It wasn't my day. Maybe I was too conservative. Maybe I didn't push hard enough. Maybe the other girls were just fitter than me.
Whatever the reason, I'm happy to have the first tri of the season under my belt. A 5th place finish and plenty of beach time with good friends and my Momma.
The season is long and I can't wait to tell you all about it!
In other news, thank you to all of my fantastic sponsors - my personal website will be launching this week at www.BraveMandy.com and will be AWESOME.
I have some new sponsors and they will all be featured there and on my super-sweet kit!
Also, congrats to Alex M and M for his 10th place at Ironman St George and Cait Snow who ran her way into 3rd.
Onward!! I WILL make it to Kona this October. I will.
How do I measure my year? You'll just have to stick around to find out.
Friday, April 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Ok, so back to the start of it. A week ago Sunday was the final race of the Bethel Spring Series. I had a great run this year taking 5 top-5 finishes. This put me in 2nd Place Overall for the General Classification, behind a multiple-time National Champion. It was a nice motivation and confidence booster. To make things even better, the Stage 1 girls (all 3 of us) took on the larger teams from New England and NYC to take 2nd in the Team Category - WOOT!
Went home with some extra cash and some nice hardware for our efforts.
Then, last week was crazy week for EndureIT. The 4th running of the Nutmeg State Eco-Friendly Charity 1/2 Marathon, 10k and 5k race had record pre-reg and great attendance despite the rainy weather. Record setting times, great friends and volunteers that came out to support the event. I couldn't be more pleased (or grateful).
With all of that, I was worried about getting in my final push of training before St Croix. This is my 4th year doing this race and it is still the hardest on the circuit! Training has been AWESOME and I'm about 1 lb away from fighting weight. The last 2 weeks, Eric added in some track workouts, for fun and speed. The first week, I was struggling to keep a 6:45 pace. Panting and feeling like I could take a nap instead.
Last week, I hammered out the same workout, but held a 5:50 pace. Confidence is HIGH and I am actually excited to race - this is BIG, since I haven't been excited in a long while.
All week I've been thinking about my race plan, about how fit and ready I am. This is my year. It's official. I took 11th in the biggest one-day race in the Nation a few weeks ago on my bike. My swimming and running are feeling effortless and the body is healthy and happy.
I'm flying my Mom down to St Croix with me as an early Mother's day gift (happy mother's day, Mom - we need to fly out of Newark at 7 AM on Thursday haha).
The weather forecast so far is 87 degrees, 87 degrees and 90's and HUMID for race day. I can't wait. The harder the conditions, the better off I am!
Eric has me keeping some intensity this week - short workouts, but a lot of fun.
I promise to keep y'all updated from here on out!
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
If you're free on Sunday, I need volunteers anywhere between 6 AM and 12 PM - Registration, chip handout, Aid Stations, Finish Line - There are jobs for all ages (and time constraints).
Thursday, April 15, 2010
This song has been playing over and over again in my head this last week. Of course I'm not a psycho stage-mother, but you get the idea. For some reason, everything's coming up Mandy!!
Since there is so much good stuff and I don't have a photo to share today, I'm putting this in easy list form so I don't get carried away with details:
1. workouts are going great!!! I've gotten in a lot of intensity and a lot of mileage, good food and lots of rest with early wake-ups.
2. my confidence is SUPER high after some recent results and aforementioned workouts, eating and sleeping habits!
3. I've just inked ANOTHER BIG sponsor deal - to be properly announced when I get logos and items!
4. I'm working with an AWESOME designer for my 2010 race suit... can't wait to show it off!
5. Work is going well - the first EndureIT Race of the season is on April 25. If you want to run, come out and run, otherwise we need VOLUNTEERS! :)
6. I re-connected with long-lost super friend, Christian McEvoy - I'd say he inspires me, but it's so much more than that... he is literally changing the world. It's pretty rad.
7. Did I mention Sam is coming home tonight???
8. It's warm out and my plants are coming back to life!
9. I have been offered 3 new big-time job positions - ooh didleee - decisions, decisions!
10. I was told to treat Luna like an elite marathoner - I LOVE having a Veterinarian with an Ironman Brother. Yes, Luna should be 30 lbs heavier per breed standard, but she's FIT!
11. Today is my friend Noreen's bday - she is the person responsible for this whole Ironman thing entering my life!
12. My only Aunt is getting married this Fall... she's 56 and awesome...and you all thought the 1/2 Iron conflict was for me! Silly!
13. I'm modeling for 2 catalogs and for all of my sponsors... photoshoots galore ... I'm ready for my closeup!
14. I fixed my vacuum. All. By. My. Self. Yay, for clean house!
15. I have the best friends, family and boyfriend in the world!
Yup, life is good!
Monday, April 12, 2010
That's a multiple-time National Champ and the Overall General Classification Leader chasing me in the yellow.
Digging a bit deeper.... Sam was cheering so wildly, he put down the camera.. I threw the wheel and took 3rd, inches ahead of 4th, inches behind 1 and 2.
We had a lovely breakfast at our B&B and then rolled to the start. Lots of familiar faces were found around every corner.
Around mile 15 or so, the field Split - I was ever so slightly delayed behind a slower rider and that small gap defined the day.
I chased for 5 minutes, what felt like 5 hours and then grouped with a few other single riders. We started working together and for the next 30+ miles we could SEE the breakaway pack (and pace car) hanging about 15-20 seconds in front of us. It was brutally windy, from every angle. Ooh, diddleee - it was a challenge! Not to mention the crazy hills, dirt and otherwise, descents and simply demanding terrain.
Long story short, we worked and worked, toward the finish line, a few girls accelerated and I went with them. Sadly, the finish line inflatable blew away, so we were all sprinting blind. Had I thrown my wheel at the end, I would have been in the money. Instead I took 11th. I'm still pleased and had a great time riding with some very talented girls.
We stayed to watch the other events and to grab a bite at a super-sweet all-natural cafe. The drive home was looooong, but we still woke up early the following morning for the Bethel Criterium!
I had a nice time there, no breaks stuck, but I went for a bunch of sprints and pulled it out when I needed to in the final sprint.
11th and 3rd. Not a bad weekend.
After Sunday's race, I ran with super triathlete, race director, runner, momma and now bike racer extraordinaire, Megan! We cheered on athletes at the Danbury 1/2 and it was just a super way to end a super weekend.
In other news - my personal website is being redesigned as is my 2010 uniform - YAY!
Friday, April 9, 2010
Check out the sweetness that arrived today from local (outstanding) outerwear company, TrailHeads!
The company is the brainchild of husband and wife team, Ed and Steph Raftery, of Kent, CT.
I discovered their products years ago at Jack Rabbit in Brooklyn and fell in love instantly. TrailHeads has continued to grow and develop - innovating all along the way!
Check out the picture above - why yes, that is a key/chapstick/cash holder on the back of the gloves! And, yes, there is reflective material on everything - YAY safety!
The best part about TrailHeads hats and headbands? The pony-tail holes... Brilliant and oh-so-comfy.
Did I mention they are an eco-friendly and community-minded company? Yup! Part of every purchase goes directly to their designated charities. And you thought there couldn't be more to love!
Check out their website, HERE, and stay tuned for reviews of the budding Summer 2011 line that I'll be testing next week with Super-Mom and Designer, Stephanie!
bike porn pictures to follow.
Busy week prepping here. I'm feeling snappy again and heard from
another friend (also a Hannah) that she too is expecting a baby in
October (on the day of Kona, no less!). I'm, again, overjoyed!! I
love when good chromosomes combine!
Workwise there are exciting new sponsorships in the works... Stay
tuned and if you are free, I need volunteers for the 2010 races. Yay!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
In racing/training news, I'm a bit tired. Last week and weekend put me over the edge and I've spent this week trying to climb out of the pain cave. Eric ordered a 2nd Full day of rest... phewph, haven't had one of those in a while, not to mention 2! I'm hoping to come around in time for this weekend's races:
1. Battenkill-Roubaix, a 62-mile hurt-fest on dirt and paved roads. Dirt climbs that go up to 20% wowwweeee. This will be my 3rd year racing there and I can't wait to rock it! Also wishing a TON of luck to my teammates who will be out there in a variety of fields, too! Sam and I are headed up tomorrow night and staying with the Devine Duveens at the Hopkins House B and B. Aggy and Charlie have become treasured friends over the years and I can't wait to see them.
2. Topping off the weekend's festivities will be back-to-back Criterium races at Bethel this Sunday. Oh, the pain and the pleasure of it all! Top it off with some running and swimming and well, you've got yourself a winning weekend!
Tonight, however, is the farthest thing from training...though I'm sure my abs will get a great workout! We are lucky enough to see David Sedaris AGAIN! Sam and I saw him last year in New Haven and he's baaaaaaaack for more! Woot!
Have a great weekend, everyone, and I PROMISE to get some photos up here soon... everything is in bloom with this 85+ degree weather...the magnolias and more... just glorious!
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
There was some great riding with my teammates and a whole bunch of Pro/Cat-1 biker boys... There were some long runs and swims and needless to say, I woke up yesterday in all kinds of a funk. I'm a happy, chipper person. Not yesterday. Yesterday, I was irrationally angry and then immediately sad. I then started craving McDonald's french fries. I have not eaten McD's french fries in well over a decade. It was then, I knew it was time to shut things down for not just a recovery workout, but a full-on recovery DAY.
Luna and I sunbathed on the roof for a few hours and after a girl's night, I'm feeling like my normal self!
Today I have 3 wonderful workouts on the plan. This weekend is bound to be a good one... Battenkill-Roubaix on Saturday (a 62-mile, brutally hard dirt/road race) and then 2 back-to-back criterium races on Sunday. WOOHOO!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
A cold Winter day in February, a few days before Valentine's day, we ventured to a farm in Massachusetts at the urging of former Trick Rider and friend, Danny - who still owns and operates All the King's Horses in Ridgefield, CT.
Danny told us that a pony club was going to look at this pony and that we should get there first.
There was so much snow hard-packed on the ground that only the top layer of fencing was visible. The barn doors were snowed-shut and the horses were all outside. This adorable little dappled-grey pony came right up to me. He was skinny from lack of nourishment, but he had a certain fire in his eyes. As soon as I swung my leg over the top of him, I knew we were meant to be. We made our way around the field and even popped over a few little jumps. I was in love. We asked to come back with our Vet for a proper check in two days... those days seemed like an eternity. It was love at first sight.
We returned with the vet and the pony passed with flying colors. We asked to take him on a 1-week trial. My mom wrote a check for $2,000 (a pittance in the horse world - you'd earn more at the feed lot) for the little guy and off we went! He was scared of adults, horribly underfed and a bit of a wild man. Only my sister and I could catch him in the field and handle him. I'd barely get on for a ride and we'd gallop around the arena. So much for our meticulous workouts that came later!
After a week, there was no way I was giving him up. The check was deposited and it was tough luck for those Pony Clubbers that would have ridden him into the ground.
Casanova - my little Cass, Poe-Poe, The supernova, Houdini - he has more nick names than I can count! Our success was years in the making. We had a lot of fun and that pony taught me everything I know. He made me the rider that I am and he took away the fear entirely. You see, ponies are little terrors. They've got bigger brains than horses and smaller, more agile bodies. All they think about all day long is how to be mischievous. Cass was the worst - They say horses don't buck on downhills. Little Cass did. He pulled every nasty trick in the book, and I'm glad he did because I learned to spot it before it came to pass.
Of course, it helped that rather than cry at his bad behavior, I'd laugh... I have a special affinity for "hot" animals - ones that are full of piss and vinegar... and personality!
Cass was always talented - at our very first show together, we won - foreshadowing of what was to come. Of course, when I first got him, I was still doing the 4-H circuit. Every summer, Cass and I would pack up and go to sleep away horse camp together. All horses, all the time! We'd both come home dirty, exhausted and happy.
As I started getting interested in Dressage and Eventing, we began work with Kim Walnes, a former Olympian whose horse, The Grey Goose, is in the Kentucky Horse Park. He was named horse of the Century. He also appeared in a few movies.
Kim and I would work together for years to come. She taught me many valuable life lessons via my equine activities. During a lesson, Cass ran away with me. Literally. She yelled out, "Rip his teeth out". I got him to stop, then broke down in tears. I wouldn't even carry a crop or whip (later called the "stick of knowledge") at the time because I didn't want to "hurt" my pony. Of course, when used correctly, none of these tools actually "hurt" anything - they are simply for training.
Over the course of our competitive years, Cass and I trained with a number of prestigious trainers. We competed on the Rated Show Circuit and were ranked Nationally and Internationally in Eventing and Dressage. Both sports were (and are) dominated by large HORSES bred specifically for their respective sports.
Cass was a tiny pony with no papers (tracking a specific bloodline) and we were learning the ropes together. We made our way up through the levels of Dressage and Eventing, competing against what we call "Made" horses - or those that have been trained to the highest levels - and their inexperienced riders. Some judges loved us and rewarded us for our hard work and good performances. Others were biased and gave us poor scores because they did not think a pony belonged.
It was at the Dressage Championships one year, when Lendon Gray, a former Olympian (aboard a Connemara pony that looked strikingly similar to Cass) told me that we had great potential, that I reaffirmed my belief: We belonged there. We went on to great success, competing in Championships year after year in both Dressage AND Eventing. It was the key to our success. Our advanced dressage work meant that the dressage portion of Eventing was EASY! We would start off in the lead with a great score and keep it because we always jumped clean rounds on Cross Country and Stadium.
That pony has a heart of gold - Kim Walnes used to say he had an 18-hand heart (18 hand being a VERY tall horse). He would have done anything for me out there and we trusted eachother completely. Our last Eventing competition was the Eventing Championships in Cobbleskill, NY. It was a challenging course with even more challenging conditions. The jumps were of maximum difficulty, made more difficult by the rainy, windy conditions. We had a stellar dressage round, earning perfect 10's on a number of movements. Out on the cross country course, at fence 2, Cass and I came galloping downhill. We were carried with the mud right into the fence. Forced to circle around, it was counted as a "refusal" - a 20 point penalty. Undaunted, we rode on, making up time and finishing the round cleanly. Many riders crashed and burned on the course, and amazingly, we only fell to 8th place. During that round, the announcer commented that we proved that "size doesn't matter" - it still makes me smile hearing that when watching the video. A clean stadium round left us in 6th place.
After that competition, we had a family discussion with my trainers. We all agreed that Cass and I could compete at a higher level, but that we would risk injury or an early, painful retirement. Pleased with our accomplishments, I decided we would just do Dressage. We continued to move up through 4th level and FEI levels. By the time I retired Cass from Dressage competition, they had created a special award and categories for ponies in competition.
It always made us smile when we'd be approached at competitions by people looking to buy Cass. We were offered $150,000 for him after one of my wins. The guy wanted a "made" pony for his daughter. It was amazing to think that a pony we once thought I'd ride for a few years, then sell became my greatest friend, teacher and partner. We are still inseparable!
Nowadays, Poe Poe and I do Hunter Paces (fun adventure-type trail races). He acted as teacher and mentor to my Mom and a young student when they sought out some lower-level competition. I ride him almost every day and we spend time snuggling and preening eachother daily.
Never one to lose his mischievous streak, Cass still continues to challenge me. He'll squeal and buck - he pushed me over in the snow as I went to pick up a dropped carrot this Winter. He never misses an opportunity.
Cass has taught me so much about who I am, how I react to adversity, how to handle a challenge. Because of him, I was successful on Bulletproof (My Eventing horse) and on West (my Dressage Master). Because of him I have great time management skills. Because of him, I can ride any horse without fear. I can anticipate the actions and motives of others and react accordingly.
Because of him, I know what true, deep, fulfilling love is. I know how to trust completely. I know how to laugh at myself. I know how to pick myself up from disappointment, heartbreak or failure. Because of him, I know how to celebrate. I know how to clear my head and enjoy a view. Because of him, I know what it feels like to fly over 4 foot solid fences at 30+ mph.
Because he is, I am.
I love you, Little Poe. Happy Birthday!
Photos, top left - dressage competition in New Jersey, top right - dressage competition, MA.
bottom left - 4-H animal Project day - it took weeks for that paint to wear off. And, yes, I grew awkwardly - I was ALL legs for a while :)
bottom center - Dressage competition - MA
Bottom right - Cross Country fence on the Stoneleigh Burnham course. What you can't tell is that the fence is at the top of a steep hill. As you approach it, it looks as though you're jumping off the edge of the earth.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Huge thanks to Joanne for shattering the field, I almost got boxed in and managed to break through, jump on the hill and sprint! The field was demolished, but I didn't bother looking back. Just behind me is the hard-charging Siri... the Norwegian Sensation! Man, oh man, can that girl sprint! She saved me late in the race, giving a nice strong pull and allowing me to recover a bit. I was so happy to look over my shoulder once across the line to see her smiling face! It is unusual to be able to give a leadout and then hang on to sprint for the next spot!
Happy Stage 1 / fusionTHINK girls, post race! Our unis arrive soon, until then, we're just bundled up and having fun hiding in the field(s).
Big ups to miss Joanne (on the left), miss Legs McGee, herself! Jo decided to launch a few attacks and try to break the current GC leader - sadly, she ended up getting used by her a bit... But Jo's tactic worked...she splintered the field, forcing everyone to chase and get tired on the last 3 laps - it was great!
After the women's race, I warmed up in the car, ate a poptart (sorry coach) and an hour later, warmed up for the men's race. I had Andrea Myers (pro roadie) and Audrey (another pro roadie) join me in the race and we sat in and chatted the 30 fast miles away! A nice 45 min. transition run to top the day off and then it was home for beer and Mexican food with the C-dale crew!
We're all looking forward to Battenkill in a few weeks - and a super hard Birthday ride on Sunday for my girl Joanne! - and a few more weeks of these girls-only races at Bethel. Stage 1 girls WILL go 1,2,3!!!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
A huge welcome to my newest sponsor, Adina Holistics!
We finalized and inked our deal over the weekend and I could not be more pleased with our partnership! I'll be monkeying around at triathlons, bike races, trade shows and more! I'll keep you posted on exciting news within the company as well as hosting tastings at various events, including all of the EndureIT races!
Adina is a very cool new company with an even cooler concept: Drink no Evil. All of their products are created with the utmost care and consideration for your health and that of the environment. Organic, Gluten-Free, Kosher and based on the Ayurvedic Calendar all packed into a tasty elixir with - BONUS - recyclable packaging!
Click HERE to follow the Monkey on Twitter or HERE to check out their website!
Click HERE to follow me on Twitter!
Friday, March 19, 2010
We all get sick and there is really no good time to get sick. I like to say to people that there are "better and worse" times to get sick/injured/go through something crappy, but in truth, there's never really a good time... well, unless it is raining/sleeting/snowing/wind blowing 70mph outside...then it's ok get stuck inside!
It is not, however, ok to get sick when it happens to be sunny and 70 outside.
Ok, enough complaining, I'm on the mend, but I need to let my body do just that. Signing off until I've actually come up with something interesting and noteworthy to write about!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Training and business are both going well. Life, as usual (how cool is it to say that!?), is fantastic.
Last week I had a few days of really bad headaches...the turn off the lights and pull up the covers kind...This in no way could be related to my accountant calling to tell me that my Business (and Personal) taxes had to be filed by MARCH 15 this year, because EndureIT is now a Corporation.
Yup, excuses, excuses. Fast forward to Friday night - taxes done and good to go - a night out with [many] friends meant a nice late night. We awoke to rain on Saturday and while Sam went to teach Spin, I reveled in my extra hour of sleep.
Rather than risk: a. Sickness and b. loss of mental toughness early in the season, coach Eric had me ride the rollers and swim. Both workouts were fantastic and I got to catch up on some television while riding the bike indoors - for some reason, it makes it that much more satisfying to do both activities.
Saturday night was a blur, setting the clocks forward is always disruptive and knowing we'd wake up to rain AND darkness was less than inspiring. Add on to that, Sam's sniffles and you've got yourself a household of lackluster Mo-Mo.
But motivate we did! On the bike for a nice long warm-up, I wasn't feeling so bad. The race started and Kim from CVC-Subaru attacked on the rollout...nice. I expected some antics with the weather and depleted field, but I thought I would be the clever one. Turns out I was just tactically retarded (excuse my use of that word, but we used to be able to use that without any sort of bigoted connotation). I pulled everyone through the wind, attempted a few breaks and just had fun. One of the juniors in the field decided to go for the prime (a product giveaway) and we let her take a solo 1-lap flyer and cheered her across the line. The boys watching were dumbfounded by this.
I was hoping to get a few people organized, but no one really wanted to work. With about 7 laps to go, I thought I might launch and a few other girls had the same idea. Kim, who had gone on that solo attack right off the bat, ended up launching Pan Pan Fan off the front. Pan Pan is a friend and super-strong rider from the CRCA Metro team. I was on the opposite side of the field and didn't pick up her wheel in time. She dangled in front of me for the rest of the race. Kim had hopped on my wheel when she saw the break and said, "let's get her and work together". Turns out she meant, "You do all the work and I'll sit in". Tactical mistake number 2000 of the day. I thought she was tired and encouraged her. I told her, "short pulls" - we can reel her in and work together... figure it out in the sprint. Well, Kim decided to sit on my wheel and do zero work for those 7 laps. Well, maybe she did take two 3-second pulls on the easiest part of the course. Pan Pan expanded her lead to between 20-30 seconds and I was happy for her to have the win. At the base of the hill before the final sprint, Kim came next to me and ensured I wouldn't have a good line (or any momentum) going into the sprint. She took off and I half-halfheartedly chased her, until I decided : 1. no one was behind me and 2. I was still going home with money.
4th place last week and 3rd this week - no complaints here...but you can bet I'll be winning soon. Count on it!
A brick run after the race warmed me up...slightly. I opted out of my 2nd race with the guys and cheered Sam who took 10th. While sick, might I add?!
On to the next adventure...pictures to follow!
Monday, March 8, 2010
A few shots of my 2nd race of the day - trying to close a gap in the men's 3/4 race.
Sunday marked the first race(s) of 2010 for me! The Bethel Spring Series, run by friend and super-fast racer, Aki, are just awesome. The races are affordable, well-run and just great training for the season ahead!
I had pipe-dreams of doing 3 races on Sunday, but after a 5-6 hour training day on Saturday, I opted to not crush myself in the first outing of high-intensity work.
Saturday night, we had a final farewell dinner with Erik and got to bed fairly early. Thank goodness our jet-lag is still hanging on (or has this early-wake-up become habit again?!), because I woke up nice and early, took the dog out and had a leisurely breakfast with my boy.
Checking in at Bethel this year was excellent, well, it's always excellent, but this year, the gracious and talented, Frank Navone, lent his new studio space for registration.
I got in a nice, long warm-up on the rollers - an act that always invites spectators - and a bathroom break before lining up for the women's race. The girls were excited to be out and we had a large field. Anne Marie Miller (multiple-time National Champion) was out with her teammates and I knew we'd be in for some pain. There were many familiar faces and a few new ones. Fellow Iron-athlete (super mom and my Kona racing buddy), Meghan, was out and looking FIT!
The race was fairly safe and despite a few attacks, stayed pretty together. After a prime, Anne Marie got off the front and none of us could organize to catch her, so she just dangled in front of the field. I had ok position going into the final sprint, but had been out in the wind too long and was just inched out and took 4th. I was the only idiot "sprinting" on my hoods, instead of in my drop bars. Oops! Alliances were made shortly-after with other teams for the upcoming weeks. My new teammate, Joanne (a super-fasty Cat 2 racer), and I agreed on some new tactics and that we'll be ready with a few attacks, counter-attacks and tricky moves of our own in the weeks to come. YES!
With 90 minutes in between my races, I opted to get warm, stay loose and take in some calories. Something I love about bike racing (especially on a nice day), is the social aspect. To chat with everyone during and post-race makes you just love the sport even more. The women this year seem especially well-behaved and welcoming - a nice change from some of the shrill whining and catty fights of year's past.
The men's 3/4 race started off quick, but was an accordion race. We'd be chasing a break and things would string out, then everyone would bunch-up REALFAST! OOf, I just tried to stay on the outside line and on "safe wheels". Most of the men were great, but a few were just plain rude - pushing me - LITERALLY - off wheels. Next week, I'm getting more aggressive and not losing my wheels to guys that then can't stay on them.
I had originally planned to go for the final sprint to try and win some cash and points, but opted to avoid potential crashes and slipped out of the field near the end. I changed my clothes, grabbed the dog and we were off for a nice transition run.
The final race of the day, the Pro 1,2,3 was LOADED with my teammates - at least 10 Cannondale riders were out, including the newest Cannondale Employee, Bobby, who absolutely DOMINATED the field of spectacularly fit riders. Making note of their speed, I was super happy I'd opted out of that 3rd race. My lack of high-intensity fitness was evident enough in the previous two.
Towards the end of the race, Lu and I were going crazy cheering. On the last lap, I was looking for Sam and a few other guys and didn't see them. Before I could even hear the word, "crash" - Lu and I were off in a full sprint to see if everyone was alright. It felt like Triage - I checked in with Sam first, who was beaten up a bit, his brand new bike was looking rough, but he was smiling like someone in shock. There were at least 8 guys that were in rough shape - road rash, cracked helmets and more. It happens, accidents are just that, accidents. I was glad to see everyone pretty much behaving themselves. Help came and race officials took numbers for insurance purposes.
Despite a minor heart attack, everything is ok - we had the crew over for Mexican food post-race and then it was early to bed. Sam has some lovely road rash and a nice 6 inch gash up the side of his right quad, but he's managing (self medicating with margaritas).
Today was (mercifully) a recovery day - yoga, swimming and horseback riding. Tomorrow it's back to the grind... a long run to start things off. Woohoo! The racing season is finally here!
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
Weekends mean fun, racing, sleep, wine, and so much more! This weekend will be filled with all of the aforementioned! Tonight is the Stage-1 FusionTHINK GNO (girl's night only/out). Talk tactics, drink wine and celebrate in classic cackling style.
Tomorrow is an early wake-up call for a run with the dog, then I'll be off for a nice long base ride with Chris (pro-roadie extraordinaire) and the Stage-1 girls. After that, Sam and I will hit the pool before a pre-race dinner out w/ my 'rents.
Sunday... drumroll please... is the first race of 2010. And not just one race, but three! I'll be doing a nice long warm-up, then racing the women's race at 10:30. At 1 PM, I'll be racing the men's 3/4 race, after that, the men's Pro 1, 2, 3 race and then a nice transition run with the dog.
Sunday night is bound to be filled with a community dinner at Tarrywile where we'll all recount the pain and pleasure of the first race(s) of the season.
No rest for the wicked (er, not so wicked?!) as Monday brings with it a recovery swim and a long run.
With a weekend like that, it's easy to be excited. This blog is a nice place where I can remind myself to appreciate just how good I've got it!
Disfruten su fin de semana! Enjoy your weekend!
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I've been having wild dreams for a few weeks now - some are exhausting, others just plain exciting. Since returning from Italia, my dreams have centered around the experiences I had there. No doubt, it has me nostalgic for waking up to a relaxed Sam, and tea/coffee and early bike rides with Erik and Erin
Since returning home, I've had awesome workouts. It only reiterates that the training I did in Italy was at the appropriate level. Running yesterday, I found that while I ran at the same heart rate as before (my base, aerobic zone), I ran 1 minute per mile faster. It's pretty cool when that happens! Swimming, which I thought would be horribly painful after 10 days off, was oddly effortless. I held my fitness and got in a strong 3200 muscle strength swim w/ short rest in about 40 minutes. I was only a second or two off my training pace and it was encouraging!
I still haven't adjusted to the time being home...I find going to Europe easier (yes, I know it should be easier coming home). I'm still 6 hours ahead and really liking my early wake-ups. Of course, my sleepiness did catch up with me today as I fell asleep for 2 hours this afternoon.
Italy was a blur of total splendor. I'm writhing about in the sheets in the bed of my memory. Thinking of the great conversation, incredible riding and running, the wine, the food; it all was so much to take in, so much to digest. This trip was so good for me mentally and physically.
There was not a single argument (a true feat when traveling with anyone, let alone another couple and your significant other), not a single upset at anyone on the trip. I tend to be a peacemaker, and a worrier (thanks, Mom). So I think about how everyone else is doing, how they are feeling at any particular moment. Sam eventually told me to stop worrying, everyone was having a great time. I can't help it - I read a lot of David Sedaris, and while he is hilarious, some of his travel stories (of other people) are downright horrifying.
That said, getting to spend time with friends from far away (Erik and Erin live in Switzerland) was priceless. It was important to say the things I've been meaning to express, in person. Erin is a real source of inspiration to anyone she meets, without even trying. She is a naturally good and kind person. Erin and I bonded quickly a few years ago when we learned we're twins in a way. We both went to school to pursue the same paths, graduated with the same obscure double majors and then proceeded to take entirely different life directions. Erin and Erik travel a lot. They are frugal, smart and savvy. Having another person fluent in Spanish was fun and helpful in Italy... while my Italian is remedial, at best, my Spanish (and Erin's), made communicating far easier since Italians tend to understand Spanish and vice-versa.
I could go on and on (and I will in the posts to come), but suffice to say, I am as in awe of my friend as ever. Especially in her new athletic prowess. Riding alongside Erin for 10 days was a true highlight and our conversations, ranging from silly to serious, made the hours fly by.
In the days to come, I promise to post about each day - the places we visited, hopefully some maps, details on feet of climbing, etc. if I can figure out how to unload my Garmin.
Sam, Euro-Driver Extraordinaire. This is us in our Fiat Punto...the sweetest, tiniest car you've ever seen.
Early morning start from our villa. Riding along the Pave (hard-packed dirt roads built over original Roman and cobble roads).
Action shot! Eric and I take a taste of some incredible Brunellos, Barberas and Barbarescos at the famous Enoteca Italiana (wine library) in Siena, Italy - a collection of almost every wine in Italy...that you can taste! Located under, yes, UNDER, the Fortress Medicea.
Vibrant greens, vineyards, olive groves, sky, mountains and mountains and mountains!
Same day, overdressed, but happy as can be. That's my Italian supermodel face...although I don't think they ride bikes...
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Up at 6 AM to get back to life, back to reality. A big training week in the Tuscan sun is now over, along with many adventures I plan to share here (and I few I'll just keep to myself!).
I'll get some photos loaded up and then you'll be looking at 10 days of Italian adventuring and some training in there!
Sunday marks the start of the Bike Racing season and I can't wait... the women's race, the men's 3/4 race and the Pro 1,2,3 race, if I'm feeling snappy. That's a total of right around 75-80 miles of RACING every sunday, plus a 1 hour warm-up and running afterwards... oh, and this Sunday? As a bonus, I get to go ice skating with the girls after all of that. CAN'T WAIT!!!!!!!
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In other news, training is going well - swimming is finally coming along. After a crappy swim on Saturday where I called Eric and told him that I'm fat and slow, things turned around and I was swimming fast (relatively) and effortlessly (again, relatively). I got in a bunch of long muscle strength sets on a 1:15 pace and it was exactly what I needed to get my mind right again.
Today I went for a super run - it was hilly and snowy and beautiful. About 10 minutes in, as I ran in the oncoming lane (on the side of the road, of course), I heard a car coming up behind me (on the opposite side of the road). I didn't think anything of it, until I heard them swerve and just as they passed me; drove through the nasty slush in the center of the road....Soaking me in nasty slush. I was so shocked, I stopped in my tracks and threw my hands in the air.
A few guys in a moving truck were about to pull out of a driveway and saw the whole thing. They asked if I was alright and if I wanted them to go hunt the car down... nice offer, but I declined.
It's amazing what a little empathy will do for a person. Rather than cry about my inadvertent (er, intentional!) shower, the fact that someone took the time to smile and ask about my condition put a smile back on my face. The world is filled with good people, (and a few crappy ones), just as I thought.
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
It's snowing like crazy out here - but should that interrupt workouts? Heck no!
The pool is open, running is more fun in a winter wonderland and as for the bike - well, I got to reward myself with a bunch of DVR'ed programs! Oh yes, that's my reward for indoor riding - some great TV watching (sans-commercials, yes, that is ironic given my ad-history).
You can't say the weather interrupted your workout when you've got rollers or a trainer. You can dress as well (or poorly, depending on your cycling fashion sense) for indoor riding and if you've got a TV (yea, music doesn't cut it anymore), life is even better!
Come Friday, we'll fly far, far away to the land of beautiful cycling. Home to some find cycling craftsmanship and arguably, the best riders in the world. Certainly, the best wines in the world (yup, all you Frenchies are def. going to flame me!).
Ahhh... a few more days... I hope I don't run out of shows to watch!
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
"I've been crazy for you since the day we met..." - The Veronicas
I can't help but love Valentine's day and what's better than waking up to the one you love. What's better? That same lovely person making breakfast...and cleaning up after breakfast as you lazily sip tea (that he has made and served you) while listening to NPR and reading the New York Times Magazine and Sunday Styles Section.
Yes, if I were to believe in heaven, this would be it. I'm blessed with Sam's love, support and devotion every day: His warm smile and comforting embrace.
There's a quote from Marilyn Monroe where she says something to the effect of, "If you can't handle me at my worst, you certainly don't deserve me at my best." - Of course, I'm more of a Mae West girl, myself. "When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad, I'm better."
During my long run today, I couldn't help but reminisce on what has become my new "normal". And I put that in quotes because it is so far from being average or normal. Sam was there for me before I knew I needed him. He was there for the most hellish period of my life and he has been there for what I believe are some of the best moments of my life. Whatever I give back to him is a pittance compared to what he has given me.
So this is what love's supposed to be, eh? I'm counting my blessings and I'm sure you can guess which one I'm celebrating today!
Happy Valentine's Day, Sam. I love you a bushel and a peck... plus many pecks!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
So, you know how I fell off the proverbial [healthy food] wagon yesterday? Yea, my indiscretions payed me back all last night and most of today. And they did not taste good the second time around.
Sometime around midnight I felt a grumblin' and ran to the bathroom. My lovin' man slept soundly (and the dog, too) as I wretched for hours... Around 2 AM I decided my knees needed a break and I moved the bathmat into position for my repentant act.
This morning, I thought I was in the clear. I took the dog for a hike, put on NPR and proceeded to make breakfast. And then things turned bad again...
I'm not sure what it was that set off my tiny tum, but I know I won't combine that concoction of food for a while! Thanks to the irritation, I opted to shorten today's workouts, but I did get them in... onward and hopefully my food will not come "upward" again!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
I don't want it to happen. Well, maybe I do.
Who am I kidding? Of course, I do!
I'm a healthy eater. I prefer fresh fruits to anything and if you ask me my favorite food, I'll tell you it's salad. Of course, that's only one of my halves speaking. The other half wants dark chocolate, muffins and cookies. And Wine... lots of really good wine!
I wouldn't say I "suppress" the unhealthy eater in me - I generally don't want or crave any bad-for-me foods... but occasionally, I fall off the wagon in a major way. Today started off well enough - a balanced breakfast before my swim. That's about where the good eating choices ended...
My 1 hour drive home took me past Dunkies and well, that egg and cheese on a croissant with orange juice was just too irresistible...and for the first time in who knows how long, I got a donut. I wanted it. There's no other reason that went into it. I simply wanted it. So I got it.
I didn't feel guilty at that point knowing I had hill-repeats to run, a horse to ride and a dog to exercise. Of course, what happened after all of those activities cannot be reversed: An afternoon snack was in the "healthy" range, until someone decided to offer me a muffin. Forgive me dear readers, but how could I say "no" to a coffee-cake muffin, prepared to perfection?!
I've decided that rather than feel badly about falling off the wagon, I should be happy - I obviously needed to feed my hormonal (or whatever it is) craving. Sugar is not a necessary part of your diet, but it can bring its own happiness...meanwhile, my friend Kate is yelling at her computer screen reading this. :) And I'm sure I'll get a note from Eric reminding me I have a few more pounds to lose.
All in good time, and now that I've rewarded myself by being bad, I can get back to being good again (for a while, at least)!
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
I was lacking motivation a few weekends ago. Something that is rare for me. I tend to consider myself a highly motivated person. I enjoy my work and my workouts. When I'm not feeling like doing something, there is usually good reason (or some really major fatigue).
A few weekends ago the freezing rain was falling and I was more inclined to curl up with the boy and the dog than I was to go out for my long run. A quick call to Eric got me hopping to!
He reminded me that sitting on my a$$ is exactly what the competition would LOVE for me to do. I've got big goals for the season and in order to achieve those, I need to put in the work now. Eric instructed me to not run long outdoors, but instead, do a speed workout on the treadmill.
Those of you that know me, know that I am not a fan of the "dreadmill", but this would be fun. I always like to see how fast I can go without falling off the back (something my good friend Cappie has done!! :)
Eric's point was that getting in a workout is important. Getting my motivation back was also important. Burning myself out and taxing the body physically and mentally in the rain was not a priority - as Eric put it, "You will have plenty of long workouts to get in while it's raining." Good point - most of my long rides and runs for the past 2 years have been in rain, hail and thunder and lightening. They are epic workouts that leave me pumped up rather than drained, but they also come far closer to my key races.
January is not the time to struggle mentally - it is not the time to overtax your physical and mental capacities. January and February should be base-building, confidence-building months where you make deposits into the piggy bank of race preparation. Making withdrawals now would only serve to leave you with a deficit later on.
Of course, all this talk is useless if you simply sit on your butt. The point is to find your motivation, build and nurture it without over-taxing yourself. As the song says, "You've got to bet on yourself". "The first can be last" and so you better, "get off your ass".
Monday, February 1, 2010
Home-made Belgian Waffles (and homemade Belgian brew), whipped cream, blueberry compote, syrup, brownies, homemade frittes w/ sauces, Belgian stew and lots and lots of Belgian Ales.
The race was epic to watch and I cannot wait for 2013 when the World Championships comes Stateside!
It was a wild weekend - birthday parties, charity events, a Uconn basketball game and SO much good cheer... oh yea, and some GREAT training!
This whole "keeping the balance" thing is working for me (so far). Lots and lots of running with swims, bikes and strength fun peppered in makes for a good base-building season!
I also just found a long-lost friend who is now a Dr. living in Oahu... I told him I'm going to be back to the big Island to see him this Fall and I don't break my promises.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
These yummy, spicy cashews are my FAVORITE!
How to make them:
2 1 lb bags of roasted, un-salted cashews
2 tbsp of brown sugar (or sugar substitute), butter (or butter substitute), fresh rosemary, sea salt and cayenne pepper.
Set the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the cashews on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
Mix the other ingredients in a bowl and when the cashews are warmed, combine them with the mixture.
Let them cool before putting the tops on your containers.
I add some extra cayenne for more kick!
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
I woke up this morning after an epic and excellent weekend feeling a little less than excellent. Maybe it was the gray, rainy sky, maybe it was the 3 AM bedtimes, but whatever the reason, I was lacking mo-mo (aka motivation) in a BIG way.
I puttered around the house finding everything BUT my workouts to do...and then I called Eric. I told him that my brain was telling me to just do it. That I want big things from this year and that in order for that to happen, I need to put in the time now. My brain was telling my sad, pathetic body to get out there on this rainy day b/c I know my competition is out there.
Eric told me exactly what I needed to hear - sadly, not what my body wanted to hear... it kept yelling "take a nap with the puppy!!" - he told me that I need to think 6 months from now - think about what I want on that day. To think about my competition that is just PRAYING that I'll skip today's workout. He then told me, "you'll have enough days training in the rain - today, just go to the gym, hop on the treadmill and do a speed workout - you'll feel better!"
Man, oh, man - that Eric was right! Although I hate running on a treadmill, it was a lot of fun today. Running with music is something I'll only do on the treadmill and I had some great tunes pumping!
The workout sped by and I did Eric's "strength Challenge" of the day - check it out HERE.
The run put me back in a competitive mindset and the day began anew!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
This morning I met a friend at the pool to work on swim form and technique. She's a brand newbie to all 3 sports and is planning to race her first ever tri at St Anthony's.
She's a Mother, a Nurse and one tough chick.
She texted me, frantic the other night - "everything hurts! Not 'sore' hurt, but 'hurt', hurt."
I suggested we get together and do some drills.
Watching her in the water, she has great body alignment, a super strong kick and a fairly strong stroke, but breathing is what's hard... it's also what wreaks havoc on her form.
It's amazing to see how one small movement can have such big effects on the overall mechanics. By pulling her head up and out of the water rather than simply turning to the side in a 45 degree rotation (in line with her body), it was forcing the opposite arm (supposedly in mid-pull) out and straight, dropping the shoulder and the legs, thus disrupting the entire stroke. Dropping the shoulders and straightening out that arm caused stress on the wrong muscles and was causing the pain.
It's one thing to watch a video or read an article. It's another to actually have someone watch you. To direct you, physically and then repeat correct exercises together.
We finished up a successful hour in the pool and it reminded me how such small changes can have HUGE impacts. This is true for all 3 sports. Hydrodynamics and proper form are the keys to swimming - enabling the athlete to use less energy to propel the body faster across a prescribed distance. Isn't this something we all strive for?
Efficiency is necessary before you can even begin to consider speed. You've got to love the process is what it comes down to and, learn to breathe.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Monday, January 18, 2010
So, on Saturday I jumped in 36 degree water to help Eric raise funds for families in need. You can find out more about The Plunge on his website.
We had a big group, as you can see!
Moments before the plunge, I started taking off layers... oooh didlee, it was cold!
Off and running!
Almost in, preparing to dive...
A dunk under and we're OUT!
It didn't feel so bad to me, but the guys around me were howling in pain!
Yum, salt! That's Mr. Alan MacDougal there in the yellow cap. Also, notice the only person going in as we're coming out... that's Eric.
Begging Sam for a towel!
A happy pony.
Enjoying the sun and sea...and warming up on the rocks.
Luna didn't plunge all the way, but did manage to cover the car in sand.