Friday, April 30, 2010

Live from St Croix

It's Brave Mandy!

No computer, so keep up with me via

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I've loved you so long

the fast women of stage1 / fusionTHINK (Joanne, Me and Siri)

I've been away for far too long, my poor blogger followers! It has been a busy week, but I'm back and feeling great!

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


Sorry for the hiatus y'all - I'll be back, with pictures and more next week. Right now, I'm doing


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


"Everything's coming up Roses" - Gypsy

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!

Carry on!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Speed Demon

Feeling good and deciding to stretch my legs a bit.

Feeling a bit better than expected... opened a gap!

Gliding right along... thanks for the wheels, love!

That's a multiple-time National Champ and the Overall General Classification Leader chasing me in the yellow.

Making the girls work on the hill. YAY!

Still cruising along, love the girls chasing.

Keeping an eye on the field - those Radical girls are tricky and smart!

The Final Sprint - the field is splintered and going all-out.

I'm in 5th, but just barely behind 1-4

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.

It was quite a weekend. On Friday night, Sam and I made our way up North for the epic adventure that IS Tour of the Battenkill. This was our third year racing and it was the biggest and best year yet. It is an absolutely stellar event (and one of the hardest).

We had a lovely breakfast at our B&B and then rolled to the start. Lots of familiar faces were found around every corner.

For the past 2 years, I have somehow managed to miss the race start - it's stupid, yes, of that I am aware, but now it's just comical. I left myself 20 minutes to get to the start this year and found - tada- the start was changed! I made it to the start line just as my field was pulling away. Grrrrreeeeeat. I caught on quick, but this meant I was all the way in the back of the field... and baby, I was not going anywhere. With a big field and yellow-line rule in place, it is near impossible to move around. Now, that's fine for the first few miles, but at mile 8 or so, you WANT to be in the front of the pack. At that point in the race, I managed a few crazy maneuvers and made my way up front.

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

A New Series Entitled: Stuff I Love

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!

Ready to Roll

The super stealth machine is ready for this weekend's 3 races. Full
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

Weekend Adventures and Exciting News

First off, since I just can't contain myself - CONGRATULATIONS to Hannah and Jer who announced last night that they will be parents come October! I'm just beyond excited for them!

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

The Wheels on the Bus... FALL OFF.

Training has been going amazingly well for the past few weeks. Getting in a ton of mileage on all fronts. This past week, I got in a total of about 30 hours of training. 15 of those hours over Fri/Sat/Sunday alone.

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

Happy Birthday, Cass!

17 Years ago, February, I met my very best friend, partner and essentially, myself in horse-form. I was 8 years old at the time and my first pony, Mimi, was in need of retirement. We looked at a bunch of horses and ponies, with the intention of buying one that I would ride for a few years, then sell when I outgrew him or her.

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!

Cass and West, Summer 2009
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.