Monday, August 31, 2009

School Dazed

Today was the first day of a 5AM morning knowing that on there was no time to dawdle, students would be waiting. I didn't ride to school, I drove, bike on board. After school I headed out with 3 teachers for our first of many weekly rides. We started an informal cycling club. It was so great to be out riding with people. The bulk of my summer riding has been done on my own.

I was forced to reminisce a ride that Jim and I took when I first started working in New Canaan. Jim was then my boss. I was in tremendously good shape when I started teaching there. I proposed a very hilly ride that I knew I had mastered at a decent pace (Southbury to Bantam Lake and back- climbing through Woodbridge and Roxbury to get there). That Sunday morning Jim and his friend Peter met me in Southbury and despite the weather forecast for intermittent showers, we went anyway (hmmm- seems to be a trend) . We laugh now, but as we neared the 1/2 way point in Bantam the temperature dropped to 36 degrees and that light rain changed to a moderately hefty mix of sleet and snow. We rode for quite a while in those conditions and as we turned for home on 202 found a doughnut shop where we stopped to warm up. We stayed there for hours drinking coffee and trying to dry our clothing with the restroom hand dryers. Eventually, we knew we had to get going. So we headed out, mostly DOWNHILL, to our cars. I remember trying so hard to stay out of Jim's rooster tail as the spray was making the weather that much harder to deal with. On the way back everyone got really quiet and sluggish. This was our hell on Everest minus the altitude. The last 5 miles being some of the scariest I have ever ridden. I envisioned the headline- NEW TEACHER KILLS HER BOSS WITH MIXED PRECIP RIDE. Thankfully, we got back to our cars without incident. I actually had anticipated being wet so I had clothes to change into. I drove home with the heat BLASTING only stopping for coffee at the drive through. I think I drained out hot water tank with one shower that evening.

Today was so different. The weather was perfect. The only thing I was trying to figure out was my pace and HR? The pace was low the HR was high. I had taken 3 days off this week, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and Friday was my adventures with a NANTUCKET pace. So, I ask? Lack of sleep, stress of a parent in the hospital, hormones, stress of the start of school, NEW TIRES? (Brontrager Race Lites with Kevlar- heavy with more tread than I have ridden in a long, long time- this is RACING RUBBER?) UGGH, makes me want to rethink tomorrow's TT as I felt like I ran into a wall.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thars a hole in my bucket...

My name is not LIZA and I decided not to fix it either! I had less than optimal sleep last night, I was happy to be out on my bike at all. I decided it was a F*&k it day. Alison and Kelly in unison promptly tell me that my attitude its what is called a "Nantucket Day". We went out for a ride and I was so happy to have their company. My head was really not into anything at all. I had just come from the hospital, and while my mom looked so much better than the night before, I could not get the thoughts I had written about out of my head, matter of fact I have probably expanded upon them 100 fold. If I was by myself I probably would have ridden as hard and as long as I could have sustained, but somehow, with company decided that what I really needed was a day to forget about training and just ride for the sake of riding.
So what is a Nantucket day like, its daudling if you care to, talking while riding as if you were at home having coffee, lingering at a rest stop that you don't really need to begin with, and reflecting on a ghost bike that is on the side of the road like a makeshift shrine that marks a tragedy along a highway. Somehow, this ghost bike really stuck with me today. I pictured a spry young kid, half my age, loosing his life while doing what he enjoyed. I spoke at length with Kelly about it. Regardless of the bit of wallowing I seemed to be doing today, I needed this ride and the comradery that it offered. Kelly and Alison, thank you so much! Here is to IOWA

Thursday, August 27, 2009

inside out

So today I had planned on a weight room workout, this was going to be my initial experience in this training cycle with weights and I was excited to get that underway. Unfortunately, my day turned into a unexpected day off. My mom is in the hospital.
Before you get all uptight and nervous, don't. She is fine. She needed to have surgery to correct a problem, thats all. It wasn't elective but it wasn't emergency either. When I arrived at the hospital I expected to find her resting but alert. What I found was a woman in a tremendous amount of pain. Could this be my mother? I actually didn't recognize her. She is usually this very confident, very independent woman. The minister who has seen the good in some pretty ugly places in the world, sometimes even stuck in the line of fire. The thing is that Krisie Amanpour is someone my mom admires tremendously. To me, Krisie Amanpour has nothing on my mom. She goes into the line of fire because that is her job. My mom goes into the line of fire as a mission of her faith in humandkind (humanitarian). In anycase, tonight as I sat there quietly while my mom drifted in and out of consciousness, I realized that as much as my mom has always portrayed this ageless persona, she is getting old. Tonight was the first time I saw her age, and it saddened me a bit. I realized that I am at a place in my life where I need to start to let go of her a bit, not too unlike delivering my children to their independence, yet very different just the same. Its a celebration of our lives together, what is past, what is now, and what is yet to come.

Its the first time I have seen my mother as something other than this super human, pain in the ass, can leap tall buildings...heroine. Its the first time I realized that she is just human and this just floored me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

sunrise over MARTHA'S place

I got up this morning at 5AM so that I could have my gear together and be rolling at first light. As it happens, I cannot remember exactly if I have the necessary clothing and toiletries at work, I keep thinking I forgot something. So I load up my pack and contemplated putting coffee in one of my water bottles. I am out the door by 6:10 (10 minutes late). This means that I am RIDING to work rather than riding to work. My body feels pretty good actually, I am surprised. Could it be that last week was a light week so my physiological response to yesterday's time trial is not as dramatic? In any case, I am supposed to be spinning my way to work, in which most of the 25 miles is a climb to begin with, yet the first slight incline I hit my HR sky rockets to 176. Could it be that my body feels OK but really I haven't recovered? I was perplexed. With each progressive climb my HR continues to have a negative response (over 90%) and I am running out of gears and slowing way down. I am perplexed, not fully awake, just pedaling. I get over this rise and there between the trees is the most spectacular sunrise, of course it was over Martha's place. This got me to thinking, with all that this massive farm produces for her "LIVING" line, there has to be surplus? What happens to that surplus? Materialism sucked up my sunrise for a moment, then I decided to crop it out. This moment, after all was being enjoyed by me and most of my colleagues were not even on the the road yet, they are missing it, so is my family for that matter, and my friends. I had only one regret, I was too damn late to stop and document it.
This forces me to think about Andrew's FB comment the other day about a sunrise he saw that was too spectacular for words. Bill Daley had once told me to describe colors in jelly beans, tree bark, musical timbers, wine, and CRAYONS. This one was definitely Maze, Cornflower, Birch bark, and Pinot Noir mixed with licorice and vibrato. I still had well over 45 minutes left to think about it before having to engage in the wonders of educating.
So I arrived at school with exactly 7 minutes to spare, cleaned up, grabbed a cup of coffee, and pretended that my commute was mundane that was until I realized that I was so sore, tired, and extremely hungry. I had essentially ridden a TEMPO, thanks to that PACK on my back being like a weight vest. To think I had to do this all over again at 3PM? As the day rolled along to a close at school, I changed back into my chosen summer biking attire and headed home. Things were not as bad as I thought, my muscles welcomed being woken up again, though I developed an interesting case of saddle sores that caused every bump to be extremely painful.
Tomorrow? The pleasures of the weight room...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

On Trial

Yesterday my day on the bike was miserable, I think I was too caught up in Chicken Soup, the first day of school, and wallowing in my own soreness. I felt like my legs wanted to pedal, but wouldn't work the way I wanted them to. Needless to say, I had car troubles this morning so my weekly trip to New Paltz to time trial was DIVERTED and I was given a workout to do here at home. Spin to the Team in Training TT route on route 100 and ride the 4 mile course in both directions, do it early enough to beat rush hour so that a turn around could be made with less chance of interference with traffic. Then spin home. I timed things perfectly on many fronts!

First off I want to say that I wish people who drive cars were forced to ride a bike in heavy traffic before being given a license, then they would know that the reason a person riding a bike is not on the shoulder is because the shoulder is not safe, non-existent, etc. If there is a yield sign and a cyclist is in the lane with the right of way, guess what? They have the right of way. They would also understand that a person on two wheels going down a steep slope of over a mile can hit or exceed the HIGHWAY speed limit (55) and in my case, I have no qualms about exceeding that if the road surface is decent. In other words DON'T pull out of an intersection because me hitting you at 60 MPH is going to hurt and probably ruin your dinner and change our lives as we know it. OK, lecture over.

So I spin down to Whitehall Corners and set myself up for a sweet ride. I felt so much better than yesterday. I decided that since the course was marked in mile segments that I would watch my splits. it starts 3:16, 3:16, 3:16, 3:00, 2:56, 2:50, 2:50, 2:50 for a finish just over 24 minutes. After finishing I was not looking forward to climbing that hill back into town along a road with a narrow non-existent shoulder. I sucked it up and headed north, spinning away, and actually felt pretty good. As I crested the hill, I decided to scream down the other side. I was so in the mood to go fast. This is where I almost t-boned a guy pulling out of Plum Brook from the left, BEAT THE BIKER? He actually had to stay on the wrong side of the yellow line to avoid the collision.

I was so happy with my ride today, and was treated to arriving home to find Roseanne just getting in from her Chemo appointment. We talked, we laughed, we took a photo of her with her hair which she expects to loose within 2 weeks. Justin cooked us dinner (steak, mashed potatoes - made the way he learned to make them in OZ- no butter and milk but an egg instead, and an Israeli salad). When did he become such a good cook?

Tomorrow? As my family gets to sleep in I will be up at the crack of dawn pedaling to work (25 miles each way). Be sure to remember my lecture if you pass me along the road at 6AM.

Monday, August 24, 2009

chicken soup

My friend Rosanne started chemo today. I made a pot of chicken soup. After all she should have only good things for her body and soul after spending a day poisoning it. This is just middle of the beginning of what promises to be a long journey. My friend started menopause abruptly a four weeks ago after learning she had ovarian cancer, that was the true launching point. I should have made soup then too, but it was too bloody hot.

I think my soul needed soup today, out there on the road. It was supposed to be a long easy effort but my muscles were screaming and I found myself thinking about a comment Darra Torres made in her book, "why is it that 25 seconds of all out effort require four days recovery?" Summer is over for me. My schedule changes tomorrow. My heart is torn by everything that is going on around me and through me. I think I need soup for my soul. I am so ready to go back. I am exhausted enough to be numb; bone tired, brain tired. I managed a ride today, short on time and effort. I wonder if its just a matter of mental stress that is zapping my energy. I am in need of nourishment but am clueless about how to get what I need.

My friend started chemo today and I am too spent to wrap my head around it.

A trip to The Magic Garden

My training has taken on this character that is akin to chaos being at war with zen and attempting to fight to the death. Zen always wins without any sort of struggle, complete confidence is all it takes. The interesting part is that I know in my heart Zen will win, and I do listen and absorb lessons like a sponge soaking up a flood, but not without bitching about it. When I found myself confused about my training plan on Saturday evening, I was prompted to review my goals, given 2 choices, both work, but one is far superior. I am also given the rational behind both then left to ponder them for a bit. When I have decided on the option of my choice, Zen comes back in and offers another nugget, that forces my hand in the most fitting direction in relation to my goals. On Saturday night there was a discussion about the limited training time I would have on Sunday, something hard will probably be better suited to my goals: interval sets, hill repeats or time trial. After discussing the rationale for each he left the conversation wonder and a banter ensue. Just as I was about to let him know my plans Zen then asked if I knew of an 18 mile route and offers me that carrot that is so essential to my personality, RIDE IT IN AN HOUR!
So I set out at 7AM to ride my 18 mile route with one objective, being back in 60 minutes or less. I pummeled out the first 6 miles in 18 minutes. I was psyched until I realized my route had one MAJOR flaw in it, TRAFFIC LIGHTS, and a great deal of them (8). In the next two miles I hit four RED lights, all major intersections, all demanding that I pay attention and be law abiding. This was slowing me down big time. I make a left down route 100 and hammer out another 5 miles in 17 minutes. I was motoring, that was until I hit another RED light, for this one however, I sat and sat and sat for what seemed like an eternity. There was a cop sitting at this corner poised to meet quotas and a truck behind me trying to give me a wide berth. The only problem is that this intersection has a weight sensor that trips the light. The truck was not anywhere near it. I decided to move over to the shoulder, as if I was going to check on something on my bike, the truck driver finally gets antsy enough to move closer to the light, and it finally changed. I now have sat long enough for my HR to fully recover and I have about 150 feet before I have to start hammering out a mile climb. The CLOCK IS STILL TICKING! 5 miles, three traffic lights, 2 major climbs and only 16.5 minutes left to go. Only one light was GREEN, both climbs sucked up a bunch of time and energy, and 16.5 minutes became 24.5. I missed my goal by 8 minutes. I was wiped out and all I managed despite the my furious pace on the flats was 18 miles @ 16 MPH. Zen was very matter of fact about the choice of route, I could have stopped the clock at the lights, but recovery at each light also compromises the intensity so therefore avoid them and that was ALL he said. The unspoken lesson: this was not an IDEAL route.
Friday I dropped Mikey off at school, I think it hasn't fully hit me yet. I am sure it hasn't, actually and while I listened to the endless thunder on Saturday I eventually planted myself in front of my potters wheel and just threw, slipping into oblivion. Yesterday the reasoning for my limited training time was that Anna too was headed back to school (Temple U, Philadelphia). Besides having to move her into her new apartment, which is a 3 floor walk up and visiting IKEA for a bed frame, which turns out to be a design explosion in my head, I have plans of my own for this visit to the "City of Brotherly Love". I needed to see some ART which, by the way, is easy in this city. Public displays of expression are all over the place. There was however, a stipulation to my desires. The works had to be something that needed no explanation just pure contemplation...CHAOS meets ZEN... there was only one place in Phili that would satisfy my cravings, the Magic Garden (Isaiah Zagar's place). We walked around, not speaking much, immersed in the changes of texture and detail, completely satiated. I am now so excited about the upcoming year.
We ended our day with dinner at the Standard Tap before heading back to help Anna with a few last tasks in her new place. We finally said our good-byes and headed north, battling traffic and arriving home just exhausted enough to fall asleep as soon as the lights were out. This morning, Zen is calling for a long effort on the bike...and aero bars...and I am chaotically trying to meet those goals and visit my studio goals too, as there is another battle raging in my head thanks to my dose of the expressive thoughts of others.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Adventures in MUD

So it thundered ALL day today and my 40 mile adventure plans did not pan out. No bother, I needed a day in the studio anyway as well as to acknowledge the simple fact that I am exhausted and could use the rest. No sleep again last night, thanks to the weather and an electrical explosion nearby that has us wondering at 3AM if our own house was on fire (the oven and one ceiling fan fried).

My day in the studio, started with the reading of a book my friend Lovey sent me from her travels home called Tukililt, The Stone People Who Live in the Wind (Hallendy, 2009) It is a book about the stone sculptures found in the Arctic. What I found myself doing was sketching and pondering how many times I have come across similar sculptures or petroglyphs. I reflect on my face pots and feel the need to move forward in a new direction, which for me is revisiting a previous thread of thought. I say this with a show on the front burner, and firing deadlines fast approaching. So, with Castle Point in mind, I am hurling myself off that proverbial cliff and hope that my work will serve as a belay.

I write this covered in clay and excited as I have been about studio work as I have been about physical challenges. I know that the time has finally come to strike that balance between work and working out. Summer has come to a screeching halt despite the temps and life returns to a schedule. Todays adventures in mud made me feel better about that reality.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Castle Point

I don't know why I am having such pangs for that ridge but I found myself up there again today, by myself no less. I wasn't particularly nervous about mtn biking alone, aside from the cliff edges, the carriage trails aren't particularly technical. Don't get me wrong, there are a few spots that were dicey but I just focused and held my line. I was riding along side the cliff edge, climbing the ridge towards Castle Point, and I see this hawk so close soaring along the edge, swooping into the scrub trees, and gliding again. At first it looked as she was protecting a nest that I was perilously close to, and I got a bit nervous that she was going to dive bomb my head any second. As I got closer I realized that she was catching an air current. She was so close I could have knocked her out of the sky.

As I got closer to Castle Point, it appeared that the weather was going to change. I started to think that I might very well be out on the exposed ridge in a thunderstorm. I stopped long enough to grab a few pics, some hikers even took one of me at Castle Point you can see Awosting in the background. The storm never materialized. Coming down from the escarpment, I was thinking about the time I skied undercliff this winter, and how nervous I was about loosing my footing and being flung into midair, yet how inspired I was by its beauty. I guess I had the same thought about the bike in a sense as there were some technical spots where rocks were really loose and riding over them was like hitting a slide. Overall though, this was a fun ride, lots of great views, lunch at the beach and swimming in two lakes (Minnewaska and Awosting). My only wish was that I could have shared it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Mountain REST Road

The key word here to focus on is REST, which is not in any equation of tonight's time trial attempt. The course (8 miles) starts out flat, then pitches sharply up Dug Road, decends a bit then hits the monster, chew you up, spit you out, 2 mile climb before ending at the bridge in front of the entrance to the Mohonk Mtn House. It was 95 degrees at the start.
I had several epiphanies tonight. I realized that even after a couple of days of really pour sleep and 3 days off the bike, my legs felt really good. Rich also worked on my hip for an hour this morning, which felt as if it had a full range of motion for the first time in years. Spending 5 hours up at Minnewaska, hanging out with Pete, while really relaxing, was somewhat taxing, the sun and the water made my more tired. Pizza, while usually a really good fuel, doesn't do so well under anaerobic conditions.

We pedaled to the start, I was lagging behind a bit, but I just decided to increase my cadence (spin) and found that I caught up easily. I still had to pee. When we started, every tree was covered with Poison Ivy , so I decided to hang up the stump queen act and tough it out. Ok we start, 5 miles flat, several things I noticed in that 15 minutes. I was caught much later tonight, last week on this course it was 4:38 with 30 second interval starts, tonight, it was 7:58 with my start being a minute and the rest 30 seconds (same amount of people). I was excited about that. I hit the first climb at the 15 minute mark (5 miles) and managed to climb well at first holding off going anaerobic until the really steep part, which then I buried my heart rate to the point of feeling like I was going to pass out. Jon had gotten a flat so at the top of the climb I stopped to give him my supplies (really I was trying to get my HR to recover a bit- sorry Jon, I did want to help too). I got a stern "you still have some climbing to do so get out of here..." only to loose my chain in front of an old cemetery 3 times after hitting that climb. I get myself underway and it was grueling, at one point right before the preserve, where it gets really steep my dinner decided to make an exceptional and forceful exit, the only problem was that I was clipped in and could not unclip under that pressure so rather than hurl while pedaling and risk a crash I made the split second decision to turn around, unclip, leave my mark and then continue up the hill. OK, I know you are all thinking this is a race against the clock and...
I had a number in my head that was very conservative, given the heat, knowing that course, and given my ability. I only wanted to make the bridge in an hour. I made it in 55 minutes. It was slow, it was grueling, it was my 110% without passing out. The only thing I would have changed about tonight's ride was my sunglass lenses. I had to descend without glasses, and between the bugs and the dust, I had to take that fairly slow too.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On Happiness...and being competitive

I have always been a competitive person, even if the only competition I allow myself to experience is with myself. I strive to do everything not to WIN, but to the BEST of my ability, anything short of 100% is not acceptable. I am very unhappy when I have not put in that effort, and yet I wonder am I happy when I do strive for the top? I have to say, that I think that this drive is part of my nature, my personality, my being, its who I am, and it has nothing to do with happiness. As I read this article "Are You Happy Now?" (Winter, Utne Reader, Oct 2009) I am trying to analyze my own thoughts about happiness or pleasurable, positive emotions.
I think about how, as a teacher, I am often forced to make the best of a great deal of situations. Getting young adults to see the big picture is a required task, and as a professional, whether teaching or coaching, I try to instill a positive motivating outlook on those I interact with. I ask myself, as I read this article however, do I apply this to my own life? I can be by far one of the most intensely critical people on the planet, especially of myself. This morning I found myself in a state of self- pity, frustrated about my battle with a number on the scale, despite everyone around me telling me that I look like have lost weight. I wallowed for about 5 or 10 minutes in private, only to be discovered by Kenny, who reminded me that I was happy to be doing all the hard work I was doing. I found myself lifting my own attitude by chalking things up to being exhausted. Being positive in the face of adversity, maybe this is becoming second nature, or maybe its all part of being a dreamer?
My parents always encouraged us to dream big, you can achieve anything that you can imagine, as long as you are willing to put in the work behind it. I have always seen myself as truly open-minded. I tend to look at life from every angle and see GRANDE possibilities. As I read though I realize that I can also be too intense for my own good as well. Managing emotions boils down to balance. Seeing the big picture often produces and sustains positive emotions for a greater period of time. Narrowing the focus produces more destructively critical emotions (negative). The key is to teach oneself to widen the scope when the blues invade. According to this article, the balance of positive:negative should be 3:1, but ideally 5:1, 6:1, or even as high as 11:1 is best. Feeling content in life is based upon this ratio as well as your outlook on your worthiness to society, are you learning, growing, and contributing? If this is the measure of true happiness, then I can say unequivocally, that yes I am happy. I am recharged by every challenge I take on, every lesson I learn, every contribution I make. I am enlightened by being part of the GLOBAL community. That drive is essential to who I am, and possibly something I learned early in my life as a survival skill growing up as the child of an alcoholic.
Increasing positive outlooks happens not only when you acknowledge others but when you help grow the community (think holistically here) and acknowledge your own kindness. The key is self- efficacy. With this said I find myself returning to the necessity of the big picture and why I keep returning to talking about my plans and the process behind achieving those goals.
I reflect back to a few summers ago when I took a graduate course on building self esteem and positive outcomes in students. The text was a book called Positive Coaching (Thompson, 1995). What I learned was the self advocacy goes a very long way in creating a positive outcome. Not to be selfish or anything, but there is some truth to taking care of oneself first. Creating ownership of emotions is a key to successful outcome. I am told by many that this is the foundation of achieving those pipe dreams and the processes that go along with it. This is the foundation to being successfully competitive.
Where am I going with this? I am not sure, I guess I am really trying to convince my friends that tell me I am an inspiration that training and riding across the country for a charitable cause is not inspiring stuff. This journey is as simple in believing you can do it and acting upon it, without worrying about the overall outcome (flying by the seat of your pants and worrying about the details later). What is important is that I tried, it made me feel good about myself, which in turn made me a happier person. The hope is that this happiness will be contagious and I will be inspiring others to go out and do the same. Think globally, even in terms of your own being. Its healthy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Awosting, FINALLY!!!

Kenny and I had a few hours to kill this morning while waiting for my mother who was dropping off Chris and Mikey in New Paltz. We decided to hit up the Bakery for breakfast to go and head up to Awosting. For those of you who do not know about Awostingits one of the "sky" lakes in the Gunks. It is about 4 miles from the parking lot to the beach, and because of this it was the best place to swim when I was in college as there was hardly anyone there. This was prior to the ridge being accessible by mtn bikes. Awosting is a beautiful place, and unfortunately has lost something now that it is a short ride on a carriage road. (We overheard someone mutter how they wouldn't be caught dead walking out as it was too far just to take a swim)

Our trip basically consisted of walking out, taking a five minute dip, and then walking back. It was really hard to leave once we got there, but at least we got there this summer. We hiked as quickly as we could in both directions, as we were pressed for time. What was supposed to be a leisurely workout day was indeed a workout. I chose to carry a camelback today, the 100 oz one. I was surprised at just how heavy that pack was, and thought about how I used to ride all over creation with that thing filled to the gills with water, bike gear, food, a first-aid kit, etc. Today I felt like I was wearing a weight vest as I walked and all I had was a 5"x12" camp towel, 100 oz of water, cell phone, wallet, 1/2 cup of granola, and a sketchbook. As Kenny and I walked we talked a great deal about the area, and our love of it. We talked about our kids, its still so hard to believe how old they are already. I can't believe we are dropping Mikey off at school this week. It went by so fast. We also talked a great deal about Milwaukee. We are so excited about going out for the Trials in October. We even planned a trip to Madison for the rest day so that Chris can look at the University of Wisconsin. THIS WAS THE PERFECT HIKE. I only wish we could have spent the day at the lake.

OH- one more thought... if you know know what kind of flowers the white ones are can you please let me know. We both noticed how fragrant they are. It was kind of a gardenia, jasmine smell.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Training wheels

Last night I was talking about my incredible day, and wondering what more I could write and the suggestion was to just write that. I knew that regardless of how perfectly fitting and the less is more concept, I still insisted that this was not nearly enough. My training at this relaxed pace (few other demands due to my summer schedule as a teacher) will be coming to a crashing halt in 11 days. Then, I am going to have to keep this going along with my classroom schedule, Chris's skating schedule, etc., etc., etc...

The push to train hard for the last 5 weeks has been due to this eventuality, I knew for me to keep up my work ethic on the bike I would have to get back into that adrenaline junkie mindset. The only way to do that was to train hard (and smart) all summer so that it would be more than a habit, and more like a necessity. I can't allow it to unravel, I just can't.
The amount of support has been incredible, so many people, including those who I haven't had in my life for a very long time, seem to be so connected to my journey. As I was perusing FB this afternoon, I came across Andrew's status which were the lyrics to "The Rainbow Connection" and Liz's thought about Jason Mraz's version This sent an eerie chill up my spine as well as gave me inspiration to write.

I spent my whole day with my oldest friend, Pete, and as always nostalgia grabs us. We were talking about a variety of things about our childhood, honestly though we were in New Paltz walking around and today it was mostly me talking about my connections to the town. With that this thought of perfect harmony came up and I started to think about people who I have connected with again, people who I have lost track of, and people who are gone forever.

I had one childhood connection, Michael, that had such spirit, such curiosity, and such drive. He died after a very long battle of brain cancer about a dozen years ago. This is the reason for the eeriness to my interaction with the Rainbow Connection. He used to sing about rainbows to his sister Karen. He loved to write, and create. I was always so impressed by his personality growing up, even though I only really knew him as a young person as he was five years younger than me. I wrote him a note shortly before he passed away. This letter took a great deal of guts for me to write, I essentially shared some things I remembered about him as a teenager (speedskating included). I also thanked him for leaving an impression on my life. I would like to hope he found peace in that. As I write this I have a good friend just starting her battle with Cancer and her life has always been about seeking harmony. My incredible journey is beginning with these (and countless other) stories. This is why I am riding 3500 miles next June, this will be my "Rainbow Connection"

So far this summer so many of you have played a role in getting me on my way and I feel the need to THANK YOU. I feel like the kid learning to ride without training wheels finally getting it at the final extension of the push and release. My family is there for me, continually encouraging me, putting up with my schedule, my moods and my weariness. I cannot even find enough words to describe just how indebted I am to them for allowing me to be me.

Jon, who has been acting as coach has been encouraging me to train smart, and TRAIN period and listening to me tell him he is crazy and ordering me to sleep (and encouraging me to become a really big fan of sleep)... As new things are added to my schedule and tasks are taken care of I am starting to feel like I am some grand physiology experiment. Believe me I am chuckling. I am still trying to figure out how he got me to ride time trials every week (to realize that I am a great deal faster) or why he asked me if stretching is easier (to get me to realize that I have lost inches). His philosophy of training seems to be based on self advocacy and insight. Thanks for getting me to figure out what works. I actually found myself laughing while racing the clock the other day even though I was SUCKING MAJOR WIND! (oops, not supposed to tell you that am I?) To tell you the truth, Alison and I came up with the ultimate HR training plan ( just stand at the end of a driveway where there is an invisible dog fence and you'll think I have been working too hard and grant me a day of rest, LOL)

Alison, Kelly and Amy, OMG, you three have been so incredible at actually keeping me going. The physical beatings you have endured at my expense to help me reach objectives... LAUGHING AGAIN...between tempo rides, spins that are actual spins, and getting me to stop racing those tri guru's to the island...who knew that you could actually make hills disappear, get legs to do that on skate blades after heavy duty bike sprints, or smell BBQ in the middle of the lake.

Steve, a ride without being pummeled would be nice! I guess you are going to continue to do so until I get it right by riding at YOUR pace. We need to talk about the nudging, the nagging, the baiting...(and then feeding me dinner). I am totally understanding Wild E Coyote's psyche. Just wait, that climb up Watchussett will be mine (eventually). You and Ellen are the best!

Pete and Roy you have proved that there is hope to keeping me sane through all my craziness. Don't worry doing hill repeats on Candelstick Hill Road scares me too. I wonder if you think that my bike is actually a permanent fixture on my car.

Rich, I am glad someone understands how to deal with screaming muscles...who knew it could be by making them scream some more.

Tom, did you really need to tell the swim team about this crazy old lady who plans on burying herself in 3500 miles, not to mention the training regime. Oh, the pressure...LOL (its inspiring)

Andrew, the zen like comments and the lectures about training and rest...totally impossible to live without. I wish we could actually ride together on one of your recovery days. HMM maybe in the spring for altitude training.

Everyone else, your support has really made my training more tolerable. Thank you so much. OK, now that I blew off Candelstick hill Rd today because I was short on time and I know I will have to answer to myself if I don't get some repeats in, I am off for an hour of pain before dark.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Arles??? Giverny???

What strikes me every time I ride, even when I am racing the clock, is that I always notice something. Yesterday I was noticing just how many horse farms there were on Springtown Road and how certain sections reminded me of the Western Slope of Colorado. Today, while I was spinning along I was struck by how many panoramas could be inserted into other places.

Today was the optimal time to notice things as I was spinning a 17 mile route that had a few significant climbs on it (OK, I'll define myself: climbs that are greater than 7% and .5 miles or longer) I was also trying to keep my HR at or below 75% of max including those climbs. I chose the route I rode today because it was a route that I used to ride for recovery 6 years ago when I was in stellar shape. I rode it at the beginning of this season and it was a workout. I wanted to see where it would fit in now. Could it now be classified in my could be used as an active recovery route file? I am thinking that the answer to this is yes, but it depends on the extent of the recovery needed. I am still climbing a little too close to the top of my HR objectives so I might not choose this route when I really need to just get my legs moving and blood flowing a bit.

I was inspired by todays tasks, mostly because in one 5 minute online chat yesterday my attitude changed and in one five minute online chat today (different person) I was told that my writing has helped that person be inspired to reach for something that they want to achieve. So I left today with a bit of spring in my weary step. Thanks. I just hope I can keep this going.

Tomorrow? Back to Saratoga to bike and swim with Alison.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Going Up the Country

I'm going to some place where I've never been before

Tonight it was sticky, uncomfortable, hot... and yet I managed to drag myself and my gear up to New Paltz to pummel myself in a flat 10 mile time trial. I had this conversation this morning that helped to ease my training head a bit. I think that I was starting to get a bit discouraged because I was not seeing the results I wanted to see. I have been paying close attention to every detail, too close attention. The conversation put me into a much better frame of mind. I had prepared well today! I took it easy, made sure to hydrate, went to the lake and immersed myself in the cool water for 20 minutes and stretched. I drove the hour with the music blasting (of course I sung the whole way- hey I was alone!). I had a number in my head and I arrived so ready to pummel the course.

I get a chance to spin a bit and warm up. I am so pumped that I am actually relaxed. I know I will be caught at some point as I always am. Hmmm, the thing I really noticed about my attitude is that when this happened today, it didn't bother me, I just tried like hell to stay in contact with them. I did for a bit, then there was this guy cutting hay and chipping wood, and I happened to take a big breath of saturated air. I lost my focus for a second, weeezzzz. I played this game "I only have to get to that road and I am home free". I kept thinking the road was coming up, and it was still further along... I wouldn't let up...that road was a 1/4 mile from the finish, my cue to give everything left...I rode like "a woman possessed" I wanted that number that was swimming around in my head!

Riding a flat TT is a great deal harder than I thought it would be. With the first twitch of muscle fatigue I started to realize that the lack of hills meant no chance to recover. This poses all sorts of issues, including the potential for MENTAL ANGUISH. I wouldn't give in, I wanted that number!

Ok, I should let you know that I was just 27 seconds off that number but I improved over last week and I am told that my time is NOT THE SLOWEST TIME REGISTERED ON THAT COURSE! (10 miles in 31:57) BTW- I ride a road bike, no aero bars, no zipps.

Tomorrow a nice spin and a swim shared with a mind that is focused and no longer hyper-focused!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Roller-coaster

I have been reading Dara Torres's book Age is Just a Number and decided to talk about my battle with nutrition. As a 44 year old, mother of four, my body has been through many changes in my lifetime. I went from being a what my parents thought was a stocky pre-teen, quite frankly looking back at those pictures I don't see it, to a HS athlete with an eating disorder, to a college athlete with an eating disorder, to a pregnant mother who did not want to risk her children's health, to a very overweight mother, to an obese athlete, to a trim athlete, and now back to an overweight athlete. What hasn't changed in all of this time is my self-image. I have always, regardless of my weight, been that twig trapped inside the whale. What I have learned in the past 10 years that there is some legitimacy to the phrase "fit and fat", and I would challenge my skinny sedentary counterparts to anything to prove that, VO2 Max test, resting heart rate, jump test, etc. Yet deep inside there is still this thought on some back burner of my conscience that weight is some how connected to self worth. I often sit and reflect on how I got to that place.

I had very active parents and we were an adventurous family. I skied from the time I could stand, played all kinds of sports, raced on skis, skates, my feet and bikes, before settling on swimming in college. I loved to hike, backpack, boulder, you name it, if it was a physical challenge, I was up for it. That was the essence of our life, being active was essential to living. My mother was a Physical Education/Health teacher so nutrition at home was important, but so were manners and the "clean plate club" applied as a form of respect, regardless of hunger level. I know now that eating too much good food is just as bad as eating junk, but when I was about 10, I came to realize in one instance when I ate myself sick that I felt better after I got rid of the contents of my stomach. This slowly developed into a habit, I would purge whenever I could if I was uncomfortable after eating. It was a way of managing that "clean plate". This early experiment had nothing to do with my weight, it was just a convenient way of appeasing my parents and family elders wishes at the dinner table and not feeling bloated for the rest of the night.

When I became a HS athlete, I thought I had a good self image at first, that was until I had a soccer coach tell me I was too heavy. If I lost some weight I would be more valuable to the team as I would be able to move faster. I was 5'6" tall and weighed 118LBS with big BUTT muscles, which he attributed to too much pasta. In my 10 grade year in HS I began to realize that I could use the same principles of overcoming feeling stuffed to curb calories so I began this life of either not eating, or throwing up 10 minutes after I ate (waiting a bit so that I would not starve). I maintained this as a carnivore and vegetarian alike right up until I learned I was pregnant with my oldest, Justin. What I remember about the day I learned I was going to be a mother was that I was relieved that I was being given permission to eat, and to get fat. I was so ecstatic in both the usual ways and because I wouldn't be pressured to be hungry for awhile. I gained 60 lbs with that pregnancy. I lost all but 10 afterwards doing 3 workouts a day.

My trouble with obesity started with my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pregnancies. What I gained I could not loose but there was no way I was going back to purging, I was so sick during my second pregnancy that I became claustrophobic with the amount of regurgitating I did. I now hated to throw up. To this day doing so really gets me upset because I feel like I am choking and there is some lack of control that I cannot get past. In the years between Anna and Chris I ballooned to well over 200 LBS. I tried everything to loose the weight, including endurance cycling, and for 4 years (1998-2002) I was averaging 250-400 miles per week at 15-16 MPH. What did I get for my efforts? I was a whopping 6 lbs lighter. It was at that point that I realized that this was going to be a lifelong battle. My doctor sent me to all these other doctors, who insisted of course that I was lying about what I ate and how much exercise I did, and one even insisted that I had tampered with her equipment when my resting HR was logging in at 53 BPM in her office. Needless to say, my doctor was furious and told me that I would have better success seeking the answers to Syndrome X on the internet than to deal with an endocrinologist. So that was what I did. I started my life of eating healthy on a low Glycemic Index meal plan. I lost 70lbs within months, weight fell off. I swore that this was the answer to everything and it was for about 3 years when life stress slowly replaced workout stress and the number on the scale started to climb.

At some point I had had enough and decided to change all this again. So I needed a goal that I was committed to and I needed help getting there. After a few attempts of jump-starting my decision, my journey really began in earnest about 5 weeks ago. In that time I have followed my training plan to the best of my ability, only wavering on effort when I was physically challenged. I have lost only 5 lbs, to date, which creates a whole wealth of emotions, from discouragement to encouragement. I eat healthy and within my caloric projections to loose weight and I feel much better. I tend to get emotional when I am treated like I don't know anything about training.I have studied exercise physiology quite a bit. I also get upset when I am told that my cross country trip will be a great deal easier if I loose the weight (unless you are directly involved with my training plan). Trust me I know, and I am working at it.

With that said, one problem that I find with being heavy while I am training is dealing with heat. Today was a scorcher and spent a good 3.5 hours in it working hard. I put in 58 miles before I bailed. I spent a good deal of time getting emotional about the shortcoming, especially after having to take extra time off this weekend, but I do know as a coach that I would probably be writing this from the hospital if I had continued. I was riding along, just starting to feel kind of sluggish and started to notice that my hamstring was getting painfully cramped up. I changed my position, even stopped for a few minutes to try to resolve things, in 10 minutes I went from riding well to hardly being able to support my pedaling. It hurt so bad. It took until I threw up to call home. I knew that even just trying to make it the last 8 miles after experiencing those symptoms could be perilous. Before you comment, In the 3.5 hours I went through 5 bottles (2 electrolyte, 3 water) and I ate as well. My daughter Anna came to my rescue and after a long cold shower, some lunch, and some sleep, I still have a major headache and I am still a bit queazy, but I am working at re-hydrating. I know that tomorrow is a new day! I also know that I am not due in Seattle until the 25th of June. I am taking the suggestions I have gotten today for managing heat and will start a trial and error study of what works.

Tomorrow? A day in the cold waters of Minnewaska and an evening time trial!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

About REST

So I spent the day yesterday in a catatonic state. I had trouble with everything that involved any kind of thought. My body was so stressed that I was a basket case. I couldn't figure out why I was that bad off, yeah, I did have a hard week of training, but not anything different from previous weeks. Then as I was perusing my log I realized that I had paid attention to nutrition so well this week that I actually ended up way behind the curve, to the tune of about 8,000 calories (3 days worth of food). My carbohydrate intake was too low prior to and during workouts and my protein intake was too low all together. No wonder I was so tired.

I woke up this morning still pretty beat up. I decided to spend the day with Kenny in the city. Walking felt good. It was hard to take a second day off, but I think that I have to also understand that being over 40 also has its special needs, recovery time is a bigger consideration. I knew from all my studies of exercise physiology that rest is as important as working. As hard as it is to rest, I know its a necessary component of my program (thanks Mike for recommending the Dara Torres book).

I think about the entry from yesterday about my ride in Boston. As I reflect upon it, despite the pain, it really was a fun ride and I did see some cool things, we were just moving so fast that I couldn't stop to take my signature shot. I did have a few great conversations on this ride. I talked about climbing and weight with Jeff and I always seemed to catch the most breathtaking views with John, who by the way was happy to ride with me at my pace and of course Steve has been hounding me to do the PMC next year.

I think I beat myself up about my performance at times because I want to be further along than I am. I want to be capable of a 18-19 mph effort without it being a stretch. I want to be strong enough to DUST people off on climbs. I think that when I work so hard at improving and feel like I am still not even on the approach to base camp I get emotional. Steve has been one of the most supportive people, pushing me to get back on the bike, pushing me to see the pleasure in riding again. I am so grateful that he would even entertain me riding with him.

I was prompted to write tonight as I received a note from my former swim coach. Tom told me that his has been sharing my quest to cross the country by bike with his current swim team as a motivation for them to keep reaching for athletic challenges after college. I was tickled and I started to think about how there is no turning back now, its going to be like shaving my head all over again, which I did this spring to support the St. Baldricks event at my school, only this one involves a bit more than going bald. I think that I really needed to hear that I was a role model for some young athletes I don't know. It helps to put this whole idea into perspective, especially since this effort will be a grass roots fundraiser for a charity (I am leaning towards the Jimmy Fund). Knowing that others are rooting for me increases that drive to succeed.

Tomorrow, just in time for the first heat wave of the summer, I am planning to hop on my bike at 6:30 AM, braving the morning rush hour. I will try to put in 5 hours before it gets too hot. My thoughts so far are to head to Danbury and then down to the sound shore (wish I could hop in), then head back through New Canaan and Bedford. I am hoping that my efforts are met by a willing body and soul.

With that said, thanks to all of you who have encouraged to keep reaching!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I will gladly pay you on Tuesday for a hamburger today

Sometimes when I am training I feel like I am at the top of the world. I am really strong and have prepared well, despite being in a continuum. Then there are those times that I feel like I have been whipped, run over (don't forget the tire tracks) and plowed under. Its akin to the relationship between Popeye and Wimpy, with a little, no a lot, of Brutus encounters along the way. Every morning I wake up trying to decide which of the three I feel like, yet at the same time I try not to let that interfere with that sequence of training.

Thursday afternoon I was on top of my world, I felt like I was really onto something grande. With that, I arrived in Needham, MA yesterday with the intentions of showing off all my hard work. I was going to be riding with a bunch of friends that on a typical day call 19MPH a relaxed pace. As much as I was eager to see what I was made of, there was still part of me that was tentative about holding them back. In this case I am thinking that I should have listened to my head.

We got on our bikes and within 10 minutes of leaving my HR was maxed out. At first, I was thinking I just really need to warm up a bit more and I will settle into the pace. My computer is busted on my bike so I felt like I was riding blind in a sense, all I knew was time, HR, and perceived effort. Fifteen, twenty, thirty-eight minutes in, I am still riding between 85-100%MHR and wondering if its a sign that I need rest, or if I am still way behind in terms of conditioning? All I know is that I was doing my damnedest to keep up, to not show my pain, to not be dropped every single time on the climbs so that at the end I would know that all my hard work has paid off. For the most part, as many endurance athletes will tell you, there is something about that pain that is blinding enough to let you keep going. I knew it was temporary, that all I had to do was hang on for a few hours and it would be over. I was trying desperately not to be dropped to the point of having to be fetched or waited for, because that, is humiliating.

As my battle ensued, it became more about me against my capabilities than me against the boys. They were just riding, not particularly fast either, and I was just hanging on for dear life. I started to think about a conversation that I had with Jon before leaving that morning about tempos, and why on Thursday riding and swimming at 80% did not feel overly taxing. It was because the effort was too short. On this ride I came to the conclusion that I would be cognizant of the point in which my life went from riding a bike at a high effort, to having to really concentrate on that effort to keep it going. I knew that I was averaging 85%MHR. That point came when I was close to two hours in, 1:51:38 to be exact. At this point something in my head said pull back as the GREAT WALL is coming up quick and this time you wont be able to smash through it. At 2:08:00 I was getting pretty close to done, cooked beyond repair. "I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!" as Popeye would have said, though no amount of spinach would have taken care of me. We stopped for awhile to look at a kiln, I was so relieved to be allowed to let my HR recover. I knew that we still had a half dozen miles to go, but that could really be spun, as it would just be me and Steve. As he waited for me to catch up at the place that there is a usual sprint for home, my head was light-hearted and wanted to engage in that game, but my legs basically said, in no uncertain terms, F*&^% Y*&^!!!I immediately started to feel like that stone in the bottom of the river. As we rode towards home I spent a few minutes fishing for approval. What I really wanted to know, was I a different rider than last month? I had felt like I had failed to prove myself in any convincing manner. The ego blow was crushing. The improvement over the past month seemed negligible.

As I dwelled on this for the three hour drive home, I rehearsed that ride over and over in my head. I thought about where I was dropped, by how much, where I wish I could have stopped to enjoy the scenery, what I was training for anyway, and why did I feel like I needed to prove myself. I'm doing this for me, and it needs to be what I want it to be and nothing else. I think back to that stone in the bottom of the river and know that the best polishing stones in my studio are the ones that have been allowed to exist on the river bottom for several lifetimes. The time for fetching this stone from that riverbed has not come yet.

So why the title? I have been hooked on these time trials that occur on Tuesday nights and my training has been structured to have them be the mirror I that need them to be, a measure of feedback. I feed on my training all week and pay on Tuesday with my heart and soul. My rationale about the scheme of training is that it ebbs and flows all week as if it is tidal and often the last day in that micro-cycle is the most tenuous, as if a storm is brewing (exhaustion) and its about to railroad the circle. As I sit here this morning knowing that today is my day off, I couldn't ride if I wanted to, I know that I fed myself well this week and on Tuesday it will be a sweet payday!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Desolation Highway

As I sit and write this I have to admit, I am spent, tired beyond belief, too wired to sleep, have a sore throat, and have to say that I almost bagged my drive up to Toga because I woke up that way. The funny thing about this is that as much as I wanted to bag the whole thing, I knew I needed that long swim with company and I knew I needed a tempo ride with company so I whined about it but I did get my ass up here.
The route I had planned for this afternoon's tempo ride consisted of these specs: 36 miles- 6 miles of rolling, 2 mile decent, 20 miles of flat, 2 mile climb and 6 miles of rolling. I had arrived at this route after much contemplation over my goals. Lake Desolation is at the top of a mountain and we wanted to ride out and back from there, this seemed like the most suitable direction for a true tempo. Alison and I headed up to the lake. On the way, Amy informed me that 2 miles of our planned route was unpaved, but she believed it was ridable. I decided that we better do a quick scouting run. It was a good thing I did. The route was completely unfit for a road bike for most of the 8 miles to the lake. It took us almost 30 minutes to drive it. So we decided to bag that part of the route and just ride the flats. We had a great ride, though a bit shorter than planned, we covered 17 miles in 55 minutes but my HR stayed right were it was supposed to be and for the first time in a very long time I can honestly say that this felt almost too comfortable. Alison seemed to think that there had been some positive training response since the day we rode last week. I guess I can feel it. I am definitely way more comfortable on the bike, its become a part of me. This was by far one of the most scenic rides I have taken this year.

Tonight's swim was interesting. I had this desire to understand what my body was made of, though I really didn't feel up to much. Tonight was about preventing a fear response to water. I needed to know that my breathing and cadence were matched, that I could pull up brick walls that weigh a ton from the underwater and glide like a bird through it. I needed to convince myself of the power I know I have in the water. So I swam out hard, at the perceived effort of that eddy crossing last Sunday. At first I was keeping up with the front of the pack, then I felt myself slipping because I lost sight of them. What I didn't realize was that they were still there, I was just swimming in the moment. I arrived at the half way point, popped my head up just long enough for the kayaker to keep track of me. I headed for home. At first I was swimming just as hard as I was on the way out, then I feel something swim right into my face. My head was turned for a breath so I could not tell what it was at first but as I rolled back I got a glimpse of the legs, then the body. I had just had a head on collision with a huge BULLFROG. I think we both were startled. This seemed to break my pace a bit. which was OK, I was starting to cramp up a bit, which is not unusual for me after a ride.
Now looking back on the frog incident, I could get all philosophical, after all I consider frogs to be my alter ego in some sense. They are thought to bring the rains to wash sins from the earth. When I set my record across CT in 2005, frogs were a very big part of it. By the way, the animal that I think embodies my spirit is the hawk, but that is a very long story, with too many components, and best suited for another day.
The only question I really have about the workout is one that Alison asked. What does it mean when a black cat crosses your path in front of a historical cemetery?
I did take pictures, but have not had the chance to upload them yet. Not to worry, I did not break my tempo to take them!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Cusp of a Vortex

So as I reflect on the past two days of training I have had some interesting experiences, its been like standing on the cusp of a vortex in many ways. I have noticed a training response, I have gotten to a time trial, almost at the expense of my car's engine, and I have gotten sucked into a part of the cycling world that I have never really played with, riding in a paceline that is not strung out, but rather bunched up with me in the middle. Not to mention, I have already talked, and been lectured about my adventures in the Hudson River, which has prompted me to consider a whole new set of goals, swimming from the Rockwell Paper factory to the Corinth Beach (7 miles), but that is another story for another day.

Kenny has reminded me that I seem to like to push the envelope of experience this week, so did Pete, and Kelly, and a wealth of others. I have realized that I don't really thrive on competition but on personal challenges. To me, its more about reaching the back of that top shelf to retrieve the most random item, sometimes not even knowing what that item is. This is what I do "like a woman possessed" as Amy coined. When I set my mind to it, it usually means <120%. This is where the envelope comes in I guess. Its often ready despite the rest of the world not being able to deliver it properly (if that makes any sense?). I guess what I am saying is that somewhere between being sane and a pipe-dreamer I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, making sure I try to keep it feet first.

So this week, as I pounded away at my tempo on Monday, I was secretly thinking about the goals I had for the next night's TT. It was a 10 mile rolling course that went past my old house in New Paltz. I wanted to be sure to at least match last week's times, I wanted a good negative split, I wanted to better the time at which I was caught, and most of all, I wanted to peg my HR at 95-100%, no excuses, no backing down. So when my car started to give me the inkling of trouble when I was half way there, I decided to go anyway. So, today I spent the day trying to rehash the night's results, goals, conversations, and extended training. How did I do?

My time trial on a rolling course that seemed to have hills at awkward intervals, which made it feel more hilly that rolling, was grueling. I nailed my HR at 170-174 and kept it there. Mind you, I was stuck in the middle chain ring so I got a lesson in spinning and hitting the wall for free. I managed a negative split, but think this may have had more to do with the route and wind than my effort, but it still was encouraging. After the TT I took another 10 mile ride on Springtown to spin out my legs, what I got was a lesson in pacelines. I was so spent, couldn't focus on the math of my TT time, much less my front wheel sandwiched precariously close between two wheels and pedaling at an incredible rate of speed, for me. Then just as I got really hungry, both figuratively and literally, it ended. Then my car broke down. But now, after the conversations in the downtime dealing with the car I found that I am CRAVING THAT SPEED and THAT TECHNICAL RIDING!

Today's ride was supposed to be a very long spin, 5 hours or so, but after getting home well after midnight and only sleeping for a few hours, I abbreviated my plans to be a 2 hour spin, when I got on my bike however, it became an hour ride that ended at the bike shop where Tim slaved over my latest borage of shifting and noise issues while serving what seemed to be a world of a customer base. I felt ready and willing to pour out the training miles today, but my body had other ideas. As Dara Torres questions "I know I am in my 40's but does it really need to take a week to recover from 100% effort?"

Tomorrow? Well a tempo ride along the shores of Sacandaga and a swim in Desolation with the girls. With this said, as I prepare to call it a wrap I really need to thank Jon, for all his help with training and for giving me the courage to fend off the most incorrigible and scary tow truck driver on the planet! (and driving me the 15.5 miles to the dealer in Poughkeepsie)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Random Smileys

My goal was to ride a 2 hour tempo, which with the exception of these 3 pictures I was right on target. I even managed keeping the numbers in check on the climbs. I actually had more trouble with the descents. I found this quite interesting as I chose to do my usual tempo route backwards which tends to favor the climb. In any case I think that I am noticing a training response, actually I know I am.

After my brush with uncertainty the day before I found this ride to be very lighthearted despite the grueling nature of keeping my heart rate pegged at 80% for 2 solid hours. I found it funny that Apolo Ohno had posted this to his FB page "#1 training 4 the week. Don't think about it-DO IT! If your mind says YES- your body will follow. Don't forget to smile along the way. :-)" right before I was headed out the door. I felt like our worlds were in sync in some crazy way. (I know, that is really corny) So with that statement in mind I headed out the door for my pummeling. I was so happy to be working out. About 1/2 way through my ride I noticed a trail of smileys. I passed at least 5 before I snapped the one picture. Each one was different, and each one was entertaining. What I didn't get is why the county (Putnam) actually spent money trying to eradicate them by painting over them. Interesting thought, the smileys prevailed as the paint the county used wore away to reveal the smiles underneath.

As I cruised along I spent endless time trying to dodge people on the path. It was an interesting Monday, there was a great deal of foot traffic for the middle of the day. At one point, I came flying down this hill at 30+ miles an hour to find a tree across the path. I almost barreled into it as I had looked away for a split second. My workout on the bike ended uneventfully at the bike shop. The bottom bracket creaking due to all the rain I have ridden in. I wanted to have Tim clean it out before it became a costly problem. Its so nice to have kids that drive, as I got to ask them to play chauffeur for me.

Yesterday was a double duty day. I was relieved to know that my legs have finally let me skate in their fatigued state. I had fun with Lovey, Courtney and Bill. Justin also joined me on the ice for the first time in 5 years, using baby bros gear as his own blades need work. He may make a return to the sport, which hopefully, for his sake will be in SO CAL. He is waiting to hear about an internship. As much as I enjoy having him around, home is really not where a recent college grad needs to be. So keep your fingers crossed, hold your breath, scrunch your face and pass on the positive energy.

Today? Its a time trial day!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

me vs. the rivers

I spent the weekend upstate at a friends house in Lake Luzerne . They have a cabin at the confluence of the Sacandaga and the Hudson, just below Rockwell Falls. I tell you this because Rockwell Falls has seen its share of tragedy this year, as the current is really swift and there are a great deal of huge rocks. Yet every time I go up there we swim towards the falls and hang out on the rocks just across from the old paper mill. This visit started with a short bike ride but one that was quick enough to warrant a swim, it was hot. Kaoru, Mary and I headed up the river and hung out for a long while talking to these two ladies about the river, Arizona, the overuse of pesticides in Lake George, algae blooms, etc. We then headed back to the cabin and hung out on the beach watching the tubers and kayakers coming down the Sacandaga. We were talking about how it looked like so much fun. So...of course we got a lift a mile upstream with tubes and headed down the rapids. It was so scary, lots of huge rocks, lots of huge waves, lots of very fast water. They are class III rapids that were re-worked for the potential to host the Olympic trails a few years ago. As scary as this trip was I was so ready to do it again. I felt like I had challenged the rivers. It was exhilarating.

Today was a different story. After spending the night drinking one too many G&T's I woke up with the classic symptoms of one to many, exhausted, headache, stomachache, etc. There is one thing I have learned about situations like this, eating potassium rich foods, drinking fluids, exercising and a nap usually take care of it. I really don't know what possessed me to forge ahead on my plan for getting the blood pumping this morning. My friends were headed downstream with the kayak so I decided to swim along with them. It was 4 mile swim, with the current. I was thinking that I would have no problem with this, I would just have to clear the eddy in the cove and then I would catch the current and use it to help me swim downstream. I started out with fins, which helped get me through that eddy without a challenge to my muscles. What I did find however was that there was a great deal of chop in the water, the wind was blowing upstream, against the current and almost immediately I was faced with water in my nose and mouth every-time I needed to breath. I was choking, gaging, coughing, spitting. I couldn't find my rhythm because I couldn't find my breath. I thought for sure that once I got past this area things would change. They did, as the river flows south it gets wider, which increases the surface contact with the wind, the waves picked up in both height and frequency. I was at the point of no return and had to make the best of it. I swam for a bit and hung on to the back of the kayak when the waves got be too much. I was grateful for their patience, but also felt bad as I seemed to be spoiling their morning paddle. We passed under the Hadley bridge and for a short time after that the water calmed a bit so I swam, only holding onto the boat when there was motor boat traffic. Within the next mile however, the conditions got far worse, and a storm was evident. The wave heights were engulfing and hanging onto the boat did not help at all, I was in a bit of a panic as I couldn't catch my breath. I had this thought, this is what drowning felt like, it was only unpleasant because in my case it was prolonged, and for the first time in my life, I had understood that death by drowning could be a remote possibility. At around 3.5 miles I saw Kenny and Dan out of the corner of my eye stop on River Rd. to watch our progress, I swam to the dock they were near and got out of the water. Chris and Kaoru had planned to continue to the boat launch, I hopped in the car and we headed down there to help them out of the water, but somehow we lost them. We spent a good deal of time looking for them, trying not to fear the worst. It was pouring at this point and the water changed significantly. They had thought that they overshot the launch so they turned around and found the nearest dock to the road to pull out. They carried the boat up through the yard of the house that the dock belonged to and waited by the side of the road as Kenny drove by them twice as he looked in the water for them, not ever thinking they would be standing on the road. This story ended well, but it almost did not.
I spent the day reliving that swim in my head, every stitch of it, every stroke, every choke. I felt elated to be fetched from the river, angry at the fact that I had to be fetched from the river, mad that I had not really scouted it it beyond the bridge, ashamed that I put some dear friends in a serious predicament, and let down that I did not reach that damn landing on my own power. Most of all I was humbled by the water. I learned some key lessons today and despite being a very strong swimmer I have learned that forces of nature should not be underestimated.