Thursday, January 27, 2011

I have been thinking about this all week

Tomorrow I leave once again for Lake Placid. This is the time of year where it becomes a weekly thing, and quite honestly as much as I love that town, getting there is starting to get to me. Next weekend we are off to Milwaukee for the biggest meet of the season so far. At least the it will be some new scenery without the 5 hour drive.

I have watched Chris train all season, and have not been as big a part of it as I would have liked, but non the less I have been processing. I watched Chris try so hard to pull some technical stuff together as well as pull off an incredible 10 day peak training stint, that left him puking and tired. I know how bad he felt, and I know how hard he was working despite. He was so frustrated, so exhausted, and so incredibly ready to give up. When he did this Vo2 workout last weekend and collapsed after the first 3 minute effort, pushed through the the second on the verge of tears, and was pissed off on the third, I knew just how ready he was to taper.

The taper, is hard after all the prior go, go, go... all week I have been watching him have a hard time doing short intense workouts because he wants to push beyond what is necessary, but it is so necessary for him to pull back on volume. I hope that next week he understands that the little bit he does is not going to let him fall behind but it will be the much needed rest to rejuvenate.

Chris, I am so, so, so proud of you! (one DAY, one NIGHT)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

There is a point to this I swear...

Form this weekend...

A few days ago my friend told me how my writing was completely all over the place and in the end he wasn't sure what the point was. I chuckle at that remark as it makes me think of my daughter who can talk up a storm, then I think of my where she got it from and know that I am about as scattered there too. So, I guess I am putting my thought process on the table more than anything in this blog.

I spent the day yesterday thinking about all these poignant things to write about. I had finally found and settled on something really ICONIC. Do you know what happened? By the time I got to a place I could sit down and write about it I forgot what it was that I wanted to express. I am not sure if it had to do with me cross country skiing quite a bit this week, or if it was the snow days? I am certain it wasn't anything to do with speedskating, though that seems to be my life lately.

Chris and I left home at 11AM yesterday, we both had a snow day. I was hoping to be on our way by 9, but for more reasons than I can count we couldn't get it together despite the snow stopping by 8AM. We were on our way up the Thruway, just past the 787/Albany exit when traffic came to a dead stop and we sat for a bit. It seems that a certain motorcade was in town and we were victims of the impending road closure. Once we were on our way again we stopped by the Jr Short Track Trials going on in Saratoga to see how CT Speedskating was fairing. Claude was one spot out of contention for the team (5), Kristen was in 8th, Ryan was in 28th and Kyle 30th. The mood was so light, almost festive, which is so not what I expected for a national level competition.

We finally made it to Lake Placid in time for the evening session on the ice. It was cold. I was so sore. I also couldn't seem to get my right foot under me but the important thing was that I skated. I put in a few good laps. After skating, dinner, and a bit of TV we both crashed by 9:30. This morning was lazy enough to feel relaxed. This was probably a good thing as Chris had a rough work session on track and it was bitterly cold, -4.

I spent the morning session video taping his workout and skating in his downtime. I realized that I have seen him skate more from behind the camera lens than anything else this season. I am trying to decide how I feel about this. Actually, I think that its made me want to coach even more. First, I need to take care of my own training though.

I have registered for my first race in 6 years. The thing is that I am not really sure why I ever stopped training and racing. I think it was one part burnt, one part work stress, and one part overwhelmed by life. Now, I am feeling like I am not ready, but know that its just step one. It doesn't matter how I do, it just matters that I DO, that I TRY, that I WORK at it. I can do this.

We stopped by Lyseks this evening after ice and ended up having dinner with the crowd. This was totally unexpected. We were merely stopping by to say hello. I love chatting with Marilyn and Richard. I feel so at home when I am in Lake Placid, sometimes I wish we lived here.There is this thing about the high peaks that is as inviting as the ocean and the people are not in as much of a rush.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

skiing alone (in the woods)

My 46 year old mind thought that there was something a bit stupid nuts about skiing alone in a park on a wooded trail, my heart said it would be a soul searching and incredible endeavor. I was taught that when you were in doubt you should go with the heart, so I did. I have to say that this was a wonderful experience. It was only Lasdon Arboretum  but it was still the woods and still beautiful, also free and close to home.

I am planning on heading out again tomorrow, before we loose the snow pack to rain. I am hoping that the rain snow line is far south of here with this next storm as I am really getting into the XC ski scene this year. Maybe Fahnstalk or the Ridge will survive the warm weather and precipitation. In any case there will always be Cascade next weekend AFTER skating. 
I came home and made a fantastic lunch: fresh sardines pan fried stuffed with chermoula which was placed on a toasted baguette round. A small glass of red wine to go with it. It was a wonderful ending! Now? Its a few hours later and I am off to skate! 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Has it changed?

Me skating on the lake in 1971

Skaters about the same age skating after Wednesday's 20 inch snowfall. A Hockey Box was plowed in a matter of hours. The fire was lit and people remained on the ice until well after dark. The light you see it from a golf cart which was parked to illuminate the ice. When I was growing up we used to use flashlights or candles stuck into the snowbanks.

I posted a few pictures of my neighborhood in the snow and I was asked by two people I grew up with if it has changed. I have been thinking about this question since Wednesday. In some respects the neighborhood has changed but what I marvel at most is the fact that as much as it has changed it has stayed the same. Sometimes I feel like a sports team 20 years later; same establishment, different players.

As I walked by the lake the other day I started to think about the evolution of skating in my family. My parents bought the house here for two reasons, kids playing at the lake in summer and kids playing at the lake in the winter. The common denominator has been the lake.

The lake in winter when I was young cleared the minute snow fell and skated on until it was almost too late to skate. It was a place where there were 2 types of skaters, figure and speed. Hockey was in a class by itself, it was strictly a game and hockey skates or slippery shoes/boots were required to play. The figure skating crowd was more old school and cautious, the speedskaters were fast and reckless. We were a serious lot, clearing an oval, maintaining it with buckets, practicing daily, forming secret relay teams for the annual competition between the lakes at the town's winter carnival and occasional jaunt to places such as the Newburgh Oval. Skating was real. Skating was fun. Skating was essential to life in this community.

My kids have grown up in the same house. They learned how to skate on the ice at the lake. They loved playing hockey in both skates and boots. Chris, my youngest has made skating his life, training seriously, hoping for a spot on the National Team. There was a time that we would have an oval cleared immediately after a snowfall, and illuminate the track with candles and flashlights, scrape the shale ice off with ice choppers, flood the track, spend hours and hours practicing on FREE ice. Sadly , we don't skate on the lake anymore. Our equipment too high tech and expensive to risk on natural ice. I am determined to find blades that we can trash, either this year or next.

As I walked by the lake a few nights ago, I realized how important it is for Chris to give back to the sport he loves so much. His presence on that ice with those up and coming skaters might inspire them to reach for a goal.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

funky feet?

Its been a weekend! It started with an 8.5 hour, 256 mile drive to Lake Placid. I have seen white out conditions, but never in my life has 8.5 hours of not being able to see been an issue. Thankfully, we made it to Lake Placid unscathed. The weather cleared at the Cascade Lakes, where it usually takes a turn for the worse. We stashed our stuff at Carol's place and headed out for a long awaited beer. After that ride I had contemplated something stiffer, but I felt as under the weather as the road we traveled on.
Saturday was a different story, still feeling ill but excited by the prospect of a new first for Chris I looked forward to the day. It was a fantastic morning, hockey fans screaming USA, USA, USA from the fence, Ottowa boys chanting COBRA, COBRA, COBRA from the hut, Mike teasing me about being cold despite my sniffles... I even skated the afternoon session with Alicia and Jenn, hoping that a workout would make me feel more normal. We had a bunch of fun, though as we were concentrating on technique we had to laugh at ORDA's choice of music, REally? ABBA? I think we were having as much fun with the blast from the past...My childhood friend Janice, who I think was the one who purchased the speedskates I had in HS for the price of a bus ticket when I was 17 so that I could run away from home commented on my remark about skating to ABBA making the whole thing ironic. Janice do you still have those skates? You should come skate with us!!!
After a fantastic meal that included bread from the newly opened Village Bakery in the old IGA shopping center (thanks Kathy for finding the place last week), we headed to Lysek's to hang out with the Ottawa crowd. We spent the evening discussing war stories such as bears, hiking with kids, loosing kids. I never did tell them how I was lost on a trip to Europe 3 times when I was 7 but I did get Kenny and I's bear encounter on the Palenville Path out... YO, YO, YO....(meet up with the suspected bear only to find a guy named JOE petrified that someone in the woods would be calling out his name so aggressively).
This morning I woke up feeling like I had swallowed all that sand I felt like my head was buried in on Friday. I felt crappy. I tried to put it out of my mind as the exhibition reception was today. We closed up the condo, headed to the oval to watch Chris skate, then headed to the Jonesville Store. I was so happy to see Alison there. We even managed to make some minor adjustments to my exhibition, which made my day!
So we are home now and I am so beat! I will update you on our TEAM Beads of Courage activities in the next day or two...

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Weekly Winners

A Romantic Adventure?

Kenny and I have the opportunity to travel in April to La-Plangne for a week. I am seriously contemplating giving up the trip to Tampa for NCECA to go. There is this sense of romantic adventure. Packing only what we can fit in a back-pack, flying to Geneva, making our way by train to the French alps to meet up with my friend Camille in La-Plangne for a few days stay. We will have no agenda other than spending as little as possible and having almost no baggage.
Planning travel like this is so exciting. As of right now the trip will take us through Albertville, I am wondering if we can arrange a short lay-over there so we can check out the town? We will also spend two days in Geneva, any suggestions on where to stay? Any friends with friends out there that can put us up for  2 nights? The more I write about this the more I want to do this. I am so close to taking that leap of faith...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Ridge

I have said it before and I will say it again and again I am so enchanted by that ridge! I was told yesterday that whatever you are doing on New Years you will be doing for the year. In this case, I spent the evening with m favorite people and then I spent the day skiing the ridge with my one of my favorite friends and coach. I am wondering if that means I will be spending my year with my favorite people and in my favorite places? This makes me really excited.

The snow was almost gone as you can see. In places it was as if we were water skiing. I found it intriguing that as tired and sore as I was from a week on the oval (2x a day) I really wanted to be out there moving. I woke up thinking I would ride. I was so happy to get the offer to ski. Jon has coached me on the bike for a few years now, although last year I kind of blew him and my BIKE off using the excuse that I needed to be in the studio. Maybe this year will afford me more time trials, long rides and impeccable fitness. Jon if you read this my goal is a double century by the end of the summer. I would also like to conquer that stupid Mtn Rest Tt in less than 35 min and without having to hurl because I hate loosing my cookies, I am so claustrophobic. Steve if you are reading this I am not riding with you until I can get you to slow down and enjoy the beautiful glaze palette we are riding by. (John D. it just might work, or at the very least we will have something more to contemplate at the kiln). Kelly and Alison, what else am I going to be training for?

On another note, I was thinking about my upcoming week. I am back to school and its the end of the semester. This means lots of firing and stress this week. I am hoping that this means I am not caught up in it. We will be off to Lake Placid again next weekend. I so wish Pete could come with us. I really think he would like to see that side of my current life but then again I think he would be as bored as Kenny often is. I found myself daydreaming about what they might do while we skated, after all, one can only watch speedskating practice so much. But then again? Here's more from the adventures of Pete. If the days are at all like the last 3 on the oval and the snow, we would be right back where we were all those years ago, catching those rays.

The Beach
Everything about life from the first really warm days in April until the last of those days in October was about the sun and the sand. Fortunately, we lived within an hour of several.  Sometimes we would even create our own long weekends, finding an excuse to cut out of school and head to Sherwood Island State Park, stopping at a nearby grocery for the essentials, lunch, beverages, ice and baby oil or if we had the funds, a fresh supply of Ban de Soleil for that tan only achievable in the South of France. What I find ironic is that there was a park with a chivalrous name for us to rob ourselves of rote knowledge and skin cells.  Our education in social skills grew by leaps and bounds. The beach was the place to be, period.

My grandparents lived close to Jones Beach and there was a bike path to get there, so essentially, from the time I was about 12, Pete and I used to bring our bikes to Bellmore and ride the 10 miles to field 6. We would carry our lunch, water, a small radio, a towel, sun tan oil, and a few dollars for french-fries dawn our sun-glasses and head out for the day. We would find a spot as close to the water as we possibly cold get without getting wet. This way we could run in and cool off at will without breaking up the conversation too much. We would people watch, this was a necessary part of our day. There was always the old guy wearing a Speedo that was six sizes too small and the wrinkly woman with a cigarette hanging out of her lips and her chest among other things hanging out of her suit. We would try to coax the seagulls by throwing French fries to them and laugh hysterically when they would poop on someone. Sometimes we  would head to the pool for a bit, it was a way to get wet without getting the sand in places where it would make the ride home uncomfortable. This was always an interesting endeavor as well. We wondered why the pool at the East Bathhouse was always so cold and the one at the West bathhouse was always so warm? We would spend a good hour or so swimming in the lap lane, racing back and forth across the long course. Eventually we would call it a day and head for home, often not arriving until the last bit of light was hitting Merrick Road and the street-lights would light the rest of the way. Once there, we would compare our degrees of lobster, take showers with Yardley’s oatmeal soap and then proceed to indulge in the cool, yet highly mentholated, contents of a whole jar of Noxema, eat the dinner my grandmother slaved over and then walk to the ice cream stand on Sunrise Highway to get black raspberry soft-serve and sneak the cigarettes we would swipe from either my grandmother, my uncle or my mother. We would also be sure to grab a pack of the Trident Spearmint from the cabinet to cover up our smoky breath.

Life around my grand parents house was always an adventure in itself. They lived in this 200 year old colonial on Washington Ave. The house had a lot of secret rooms, this giant copper beech in front, a chicken coop and detached garage in the back, a tire swing, a tree fort, and plenty of population surrounding them to make life interesting. It was a quite acre in an urban setting.

We would often climb that copper beach to the point of being higher than the roof of the house. We were so high into the canopy that we would often go unnoticed by the pedestrians that would pass by. Of course we took great advantage of that situation, making strange noises and watching them look around trying to locate the source. Sometimes they would laugh with us but often we would be messing with this one up-tight lady who had the little ankle-biter dog. She was insistent on the fact that she knew my grandparents well enough to know that they did not have grandchildren even though there were 5 of us. This woman would often yell at us to get out of that tree and off that property or she would call the police on us. We were, after-all, trespassing in her mind.

Inevitably, she would walk up the path and knock on the door with such vigor that my grandmother would think we had fallen out of the tree or there was some other grave emergency. My grandmother would assure her that we did in fact belong to her and summon us to terra-firma to introduce us to her, hoping that maybe this time she would get a good look at us and never scare the bejesus out of her again. We would be begged to make better use of our voices than animal sounds, handed a few dollars and encouraged to go to the country store for candy.  Of course we would go get our Old Fashioned Lozenges and candy necklaces before heading right back up that incredible tree.

Eventually all this time spent with Pete at the beach would turn into a major crush. I went to great lengths to be noticed. I remember this one rust colored string bikini I purchased. It was skimpy enough to come in a small bag. It barely held anything in and the front was held to the back by ties that often came undone. I was a devastated 14 year old when Pete’s reaction was not what I expected but like a true gentlemen he was so afraid it would somehow fail and I would be embarrassed on a beach that had no public facility and be a ferry ride away from the safety of the car. He marveled at the fact that my mom had nothing to say about the apparel, matter of fact she even purchased it for me in one of her make her daughter happy moments. Poor Pete, I held onto that suit for way longer than I should have and he had to endure the stress for two years. The strings finally met their demise in a game of Frisbee at Sherwood Island as I ran past a picnic table to catch the disc and caught the string on a nail. With a quick rip it fell loose. Thankfully the beach was nearly empty, a towel, my change of clothing and the bathhouse were right there, not that my really short jean shorts with all the holes in it were any better. 

Now that I have spent a week working on a resolution, breaking it into small chunks, enjoying the ice, and the sun, and the town, and skiing the ridge ...eating soba and grapes at midnight and talking to Anna who is on the farm (bring me home some hickory syrup!) ...HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!