Now What?

The weather man was right about the weather today: there’s a lot of rain–which is a sign fall really is approaching. I know I’ve mentioned all the positive features of fall, and activities that are fun to do in the area, which all fine and dandy, but what does the change of seasons mean for duathlons and racing? It means the racing season has come to an end–the next duathlon/triathlons in this area are not until the spring of 2011. But fear not, fellow men and women who need to satisfy their racing addiction. There are still loads of road races you can compete in and help prepare you for the running portions of duathlon/triathlons next year!!

Unfortunately, my work schedule does not seem to give me much flexibility in terms of weekend races–nor does working at night. But, really, do I let things stop me? Nahh. I still plan on running in local 5/ 10k’s this fall, like the Harvest Half in October. I guess this means I’ll need to start running more again. I’m treating these as preparation for the running portions of duathlons next race season. Running in the USA has plenty of races that you can sign up for, depending on where you are living.

Thankfully, I’m not one to let the weather stop me from doing things outside. What happens when it’s raining, like today?Just wear a hat and waterproof jacket. I’ve found myself more often than not running or biking in torrential down pours. All you need to do is mentally prepare for the fact that you are going to be drenched and cold by the end of your workout. And make sure you do not skid into cars if on a bike.

Just because winter is approaching, does not mean you need to ignore your bike and store it in the back of your garage to get dusty. I cannot seem to part with my bike–it means too much to me (remember: it’s part of my family now). It has been awhile since I have had to bike in cold conditions–“while” meaning years–but you can get winterized cycling clothing to wear to keep you warm, and wear gloves. There are also indoor cycling trainers that you can get and put in your garage, or barn, or if you have no other space, in your living room, so you can spend time in the saddle when the weather is yucky. If you are a hardcore cyclist, you can get studded tires to ride in the snow and ice. I’m not sure I’m that hardcore, and we still are far away from snowy weather, hence I haven’t needed to consider that option yet.

The same thing applies to cold weather running. I found myself last winter running in sub-zero weather, dressed like I was about to ascend Mount Everest–it helps when you have mountaineering apparel.Honestly, though, I feel when it reaches a certain temperature, you are allowed to go and run on a treadmill, as breathing is very painful, even when you are bundled up and wearing a micro fleece balaclava.

So long, summer.

 

Pumpkins- a sure sign it's fall

 

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You know you are a triathlete when…

When asked, how old you are you answer 18-29

Your idea of a great b-day is to run your age in miles with a couple of friends.

Your idea of a great date is to go for a 10 mile run with your date.

You try to impress girls with your marathon time after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles.

When asked how long your training was today you answer: three to four hours.

Your traning is more limited by available time then how far you can run.

Your first thought when you wake up is how high your rest HR is.

You go for a run eventhough there’s a thunderstorm and you enjoy being wet and dirty.

You think an Ironman is easier then a Marathon because you don’t have to start by running fast.

You think it’s natural to do your ‘business’ behind a tree in the woods.

Nobody believes you when you say ‘Never again’.

You take part in the corporate challenge to improve your base speed.

You go for a 5 km cooldown run after a 5 km race just so that you can call it a training session.

You consider work, regeneration time between training sessions.

You co-workers don’t ask you if you’re going to train this weekend, but how long and how far.

You have a water bottle when you drive your car.

You spend your 2 weeks annual vacation at a training camp.

During the vacations, when everybody else is partying, you go to sleep at 10:00pm because you’re going for a long ride the next day.

You know inside out how much Protein each energy bar has.

You seriously consider applying for citizenship in Tonga, Jemen or Tschad so that you can participate in the olympic games.

When people praising you for being able to run 15 miles you’re feeling insulted.

In the summer your legs are smoother then your girlfriend’s.

Your kids grab water bottles and energy bars when you suggest a family stroll.

Your wife is not worried if you left for your run2 hours ago.

You need a picture for a job application and you only have race pictures.

You use running T-shirts to clean your bike.

You are up everyday by 5:00 am, but never in work before 9:30 am!

that charming “cologne” you wear to work is chlorine

you take more showers in a locker room than at home

6:30 am is sleeping in

the dog runs and hides when you get the leash!

You think there are only two seasons during the year, racing and off.

you can’t change the oil in your car but you can completly rebuild your bike in 45 mins

you spend more $ on training and racing clothes then work clothes

you spend 7 days going to 8 stores in 4 malls before buying a pair of running shoes but you take 1 afternoon to go to 1 car dealership and walk out with a new car 4 hours later.

when you see some lady watering her flowers and ask her if you can borrow the hose for a minute so you can fill up your water bottles.

You clean your bike more often than your car

Your car smells like a locker room.

You have everything needed in your car to be Swimming, Biking or Running with 5 minutes notice.

When asked to mow the lawn in 90 degree heat, you say that its too hot to do that (and you mean it) and then an hour later you go on a century ride because its so nice out.

you mow your legs more often than your lawn.

You tell your co-workers that you are going to “do a long brick” on saturday and just expect that they know what you are talking about.

When a co-worker asks if you are racing this weekend, you say “yeah, but I’m just running a 10k, so that is not REALLY a race”.

You have more water bottles than glasses in your cupboard

You consider you bike saddle your “couch”

You consider Clif Bars as one of the four food groups

you are sick to your stomach at 2:00 in the morning and check the back of the Pepto Bismol bottle for caloric content and grams ofcarbohydrates, fat and protein.

you have plenty of water bottles, safety pins, and t-shirts.

you have trouble keeping lunch under 2000 calories.

you usually wake up at 4:00 in the morning but do not get to work until way after 9:00.

you have a $4000 bike strapped on top of your $2000 car.

you have no trouble pushing a day’s caloric intake to over 8000 calories.

your area needs rain real bad but you’re mad when it does cause it screws up your run and bike schedule… ,actually, you might be mad, but you still go out for your ride or your run in the rain…
you’re always wet! Either sweat water, pool water, sea water, shower water, bath water or its p*****g down outside!

your bed-time reading on your night stand consists of a pile of: DeSoto catalogs; InsideTri; Triathlete, VeloNews, USMA Swim, etc.

you haven’t bought work clothes in two years, yet you own bike shorts made by every manufacturer under the sun and can recite the merits of CoolMax, Supplex, etc. in your sleep!

your car has at least one Power Bar wrapper and two sets of work out clothes!

you know you could make a killing at Jeopardy if only the categories were: – Past winners of Hawaii Ironman – Legs shaving techniques – 40-30-30 diet – Aerodynamics racing wheels – Gastrointestinal problems and long runs – How to justify a 4000$ bike

your kids idea of playing is a bike and run race followed by clif bars, water bottles and awards ceremony.

your laundry continually smells like someone locked the cat in overnight…

you leave your apartment or house in the morning with your swim bag on one arm, bike on one shoulder, a change of clothes in another bag, and your running stuff in another bag in case you can get away at lunch for a workout.

you look like a pack mule wherever you go.

you wave at other cyclists, because all triathletes are friendly and if they are not, they are probably purist cyclists trying to get intotriathlons and they do not know that triathletes are friendly.

you can’t decide what tee shirt to where to your next race.

you no longer take vacations but weekend triathlon junkets.

you have far more pairs of shoes in your closet than your non-tri wife does in hers

the one “suit” you own has a QR on the chest.

you think about having sex, but you don’t want it to effect your morning run splits. (Or if you do, you wear a heart rate monitor and measure your recovery time afterwards)

your living room has the “swim pile” and the “bike pile” and the “run pile” and the “weight room pile” and you pick and choose kind of like a cafeteria on your way out the door.

your kitchen cupboards are organized into “protein”, “carbs” and “etc”

your breakfast consists of enough bagels that the bagel guy hands you a freezer bag with your order.

you’re tempted to do your long rides in a speedo so that you don’t have a stupid tan for your next race.

your bath towel is never dry.

you bring bottled water to a party so that you’re properly hydrated for the next morning’s long run, everyone else at the party also brought their own bottled water because you don’t have a social life outside of triathlon. Oh yeah, and they all showed up by 7pm and left by 10pm.

your company announces mandatory unpaid shutdown days – every other Friday thoughout the summer – in order to cut costs and stay in business, and your response is “Great – now I can do two long workouts on the weekends and still have an easy day.”

you buy a separate dresser for all your race t-shirts.

your 8 year old comes home with the school record for the mile and says, he took it out in a nice pace he could hold…..everyone else died.

you fill your kids’ water bottles with Cytomax instead of blue gatorade.

you can ask your mom and your sister and all other girlfriends for shaving advice!!!

you say that you went to a race last weekend…and somebody responds “running or biking” and you are again forced to explain….

your co-workers catch you with a ‘King Sized’ meal deal from Burger King, and you can smile and tell them that you will have no problem working this off on the way home.

you started the day with a protein shake, had a scone and latte after swimming and commuting, then head out for coffee with the coworkers and have a a bagel and cream cheese.

you wear your bathing suit under your work clothes to make a fast transition from work to swim on your lunch hour.

you name your two new puppies Kona and Hawi

your RST time is cut short by training.

the dog hides until you’ve showered.

your spouse wants dinner out and a movie, so you agree, but fall asleep during the previews and catch hell.

mowing the lawn really smarts after being aero all morning.

you show up at the neighborhood pool on your bike in a speedo and embarrass your teenage daughters.

you’ve spent more on bikes in the last 10 years than you have on clothes for the past 50!

your hair is never dry.

you were awake for the Northridge quake (4:30 AM) because you were out running … and you showed up for 6 AM Masters swim workout and wondered where everybody was.

somebody hands you a cup of water and you have to restrain yourself from pouring it on your head.

you forget that talking about daily LSD [Long Slow Distance] and speed weirds some people out.

you have no FRIGGIN idea what to do with yourself on your off day. Damnit, I mowed the lawn, cleaned the house, washed the car, and there’s STILL 4 hours of daylight left! Aarrgghh!

you come into the office every morning and check RST before you check your email.

you return from your *Mini-vacation* more exhausted than before you left!

you feel like you took the day off because all you did was swim 3000 yards.

You get done with a hard workout and drink a recovery drink while on the toilet and in the shower.

At any given moment you know exactly where your heart rate monitor and your swim googles are, but cannot remember where you left you car keys. (turns 90% of the time they are in your bike bag

When non-racer friends tell you they ran/rode you automatically calculate their pace to see if you’re still in better shape.

Cars pass you on the road when you’re driving and you either drop back to get out of draft zone or speed up to attack!

Inaugural Tri/Du for Suicide Prevention

Sunrise

While my friend was completing his first marathon (and, might I add, did a fabulous job!!!), I fought sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion and finished my third duathlon this morning. It’s true what they say about triathletes/duathletes–or anyone who is serious about racing: they are crazy. And I’ve turned into one of those crazy people.

The race was the Inaugural Triathlon/Duathlon for Suicide Prevention, and took place at Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, NY, which had a strong resemblance to Davy Crockett Ranch at Eurodisney. I am assuming if there is a Davy Crockett Ranch in Paris, there is an identical location in Florida–just to give you a little information of race location.

inside the ranch

Rocking Horse Ranch

Similar to the last two duathlons I did, the weather was perfect. A crisp, fresh autumn morning. Learning from my mistake with the last race in Pleasant Valley, I wrote down specific directions to get to the ranch (and, it helped that I used to live close to the ranch, so I knew its whereabouts) so there were no issues with getting lost. With this race, I was able to convince my father to actually compete with me. He’s 65– goes to show that not only is it never too late for you to complete your first duathlon, but that my whole family nuts.

Check-in was flawless (how hard is it to hand someone your I.D. and ask for your number?), and you could feel the anticipation and excitement for the race in the air. I know I’ve mentioned triathlons/duathlons are different than road races, and it is true. There is an actual triathlon community, and these races provide opportunities for the members of that community to congregate, catch up, and work their asses off trying to beat each other (all in good friendly fun, ofcourse). You begin to recognize other athletes from previous races, and to my surprise, I was recognized today as I went to pick up my timing chip.

“You were at the Vassar race, weren’t you?”

Yes, I am famous around these parts now.

A.Geuss in his first duathlon at 65--never too old to start racing!

I must admit, I have never been nervous before a race; excited perhaps. This morning, however, was different. I woke up after two hours of sleep actually nervous about the race. In retrospect, I know most of my anxiety had to do with the fact it was the first time I was going to ride in my cleats–meaning transitions would be a bit harder since I would have to switch out of the cycling shoes and into running shoes and vice versa.

Shoes, shoes, shoes

Pro triathletes/duathletes can transition in less than 40 seconds. My attempts at practicing last night on a gravel hilly driveway was unsuccessful to say the least. I realized that the cycling shoes I have are perfect for cycling races, but not meant for tri/duathlons. The type of cycling shoe you want for this type of race is one which only has velcro straps, and a loop at the back, which make taking them on and off a synch. If you notice pro athletes don’t even unclip out of the pedals when they transition–they take their feet out of their shoes and then run barefoot until switching into normal running shoes. I tried that on my gravel driveway last night as well, which is something I urge you NOT to try at home. It’s a little tough on the soles of your feet, especially when barefoot.

Tight squeeze

The course was the same distance as the last race I completed: for the duathlon, a one mile run, then fourteen mile bike ride, ending with a three mile run. The mile sprint was not too bad, and I decided, or rather, my fatigued body decided for me, that this was not going to be a fast sprint. It did go quickly, and the dreaded transition was soon upon me. With my other races, I never had to worry about changing shoes, because I did not have cycling shoes, so I rode in my running sneakers (which saves time in transitions).However, with my new clip in pedals, things were a tad more complicated, as I mentioned above–not to mention the fact that I am still having issues trying to clip into the pedals. Fellow cyclists tell me it will become more second nature as I spend more time clipping in-and-out. Yet, I managed, and the ride went by quickly. I must admit, the course was a lot hillier than in Pleasant Valley. Much hillier.Which meant there was more burning of the thighs. The scenery made up for the hills.

third time's a charm. Yes I have loads of photos of my baby.

The second transition was a tad more complicated than the first, and sure enough my fear of being unable to clip out of my right pedal and fall over happened (everyone needs to fall atleast once, right?). My practice sessions last night were of no help whatsoever, go figure. And the complexity of the straps of my cycling shoe (okay, for me they are complex) only added to the frustration of trying to switch into my running shoes. Ohh, another helpful hint if you are going to take part in a triathlon/duathlon: I strongly suggest having running shoes that have no tie elastic shoe laces. You do not want to waste time tying laces. Zoots actually has specific triathlon running shoes, created to help ease transitioning from cycling to running shoes. (those will be my next purchase). And added bonus: they look cool.

What I like about tri/duathlons, which differs from running races, is, even though there is a fair amount of competition between entrants, people are friendly. Fellow athletes are encouraging when they pass you, especially on the last running leg. “Great job- almost there;” that being said when you still have the three mile run to complete. However, I am not sure if they say that because they think you are about to keel over and die, or if they really mean it.

The support in the race was fabulous, too. The last portion of the race was actually a 1.5mile run up and back (to make a total of 3 miles) and on this course, the turning point was on a hill. There was definitely some internal silent crying deep within me when I saw the hill. I’m really not a hill person, as you’ve probably come to realize if you’ve read other posts. Yes, they are challenging, and I feel good after I’ve completed it. But in the midst of running, or biking, up a hill, I’m not a happy person (hard to imagine, huh?). Almost at the top of this hill, there was a lady–I think her name was Nancy, if not, she looked like a Nancy to me–who was the most incredibly motivating volunteer I have come across in a race, and I’ve completed my fair share of races.

“Keep it up! You look great! You’re one of the top ten females so far, girl! The hill is almost over! Woohoo!” She exclaimed with a huge grin as she gave me a high five, and a strong pat on the back. Despite feelings of fatigue and nausea, you cannot help but smile when someone like that is urging you to keep up the good work. After the race I found out she herself is a triathlete, and knows how motivating volunteers can be. And she did it with every runner. She is my hero.

The best part of the race: the finish

To my pleasant surprise, I managed to finish the race in decent time, but was a minute slower than my last race. Yes, I was aiming for a quicker time than my last race, but when running on an empty tank and lack of sleep, I realized early on that was not going to happen. So, I was pleased.

Still awake!

Here are the race results through the New York Triathlon Oganization

When’s the next one?

Okay, who turned the coffee pot off?

I learned turning off the coffee pot at night is a big "No No"

I feel like it’s been awhile since I have written on this blog, when in fact, I think my last post was written yesterday. Even so, I have the opportunity to reflect on night shifts, and life in general (perhaps you’ve noticed, I do a lot of reflecting). If by any chance you are a fellow night shift worker you might be able to understand what I talk about when your days seem to mesh into one big “glob” of days when you work night shifts, at least that is what it feels like to me. You become incredibly disoriented to the time of day-day of the week and month of the year you are in because your internal clock is so screwed up.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I started working nights in the ICU, and working at night is a whole different world than working during the day. I do not mean to offend any of my day-shift colleagues (who have been amazing), but nothing beats the fellow staff members I work with at night. Nurses and staff who work on a unit at night become a family–they reach out to one another before you can ask for help. And, depending on the staff you work with, night shifts can be fun. You make it entertaining in order to survive. There is a lack of support during the night shift–by that I mean fewer people on the floor to help you accomplish tasks–especially fewer patient care technicians (who are the nurses best friend). There are fewer nurses scheduled to work night shifts, even though there is the same number of patients on the floor (I know, it makes no sense). The pharmacy closes at 11pm and does not open until 6am, so you are mixing your own medications for patients if there are none made up.

Your critical thinking skills come into play more on night shifts, since there are no doctors around (yes, they can be contacted for emergencies, don’t get me wrong). The doctors rely on your critical care skills to be their eyes and ears when the are not there. “His blood pressure has been trending down; his MAPs are lower than 60, he’s throwing PVCs everywhere, his urine output is poor–would you like to give a bolus, or start him on some pressors?” If you are working in the ICU as a nurse, you need to be on the ball all-the-time for all your patients. There’s really no room for errors or mistakes, but we are still human and, mistakes and errors do occur. And yes, the number of law suits against nurses is on the rise in the United States, sad, but true.

For the first time in my nursing career, I now have malpractice insurance. On that note, that’s why documentation is drilled into your head from the beginning of nursing school. If you did not document that you did something–an intervention or give a medication–then you didn’t do it (even if, in reality, you did). During hospital orientation, the Hospitals legal representative came in to speak with the nurses just about documentation (kind of like a “freak-you-out” session of what happen in the United States with all the malpractice suits). Yes, in school we learned about documentation. But I never knew I’d end up needing to get my own malpractice insurance one day.

Back to night shifts. Nurse deals with more paperwork at night, more chart checking, wash and bath the patients, on top of the “normal” nursing activities that must be done for patients–medications, weaning from ventilators, dressing changes, etc. If you are a nurse, you know what I mean.

And let me tell you, even though one might assume that the night shift is a “slower” shift than day shifts, since there are fewer people around, fewer medical students to get in your way and asking questions that you knew the answers to when you were in nursing school. But, they can be busy. Very. Busy. For example, the other night, we had two patients discharged to different floors, four admissions from the emergency department, a code in house that had to be brought up to the ICU, and a rapid response that was brought up to the unit–all happening within the span of four hours. Right as I was helping the code get settled in one room I gazed up from the leads I was placing and just so happened to see my admission from the ER being rolled into another room. As you read it, it might not seem as insane as it was. Ofcourse, my admission was in DKA who needed hourly blood glucose testing and sliding of insulin, and all the admissions orders were messed up, so the time I was outside this patients room, I was on the phone with the doctor. Thank goodness my other patient was “stable.” Just crazy. Yet, craziness on night shift is good because it keeps you going. Otherwise, it can get painful trying to stay awake when you are exhausted.

After working three nights in a row, and averaging a solid four hours of sleep a day, I feel like I am living in a daze right now. You know that marathon I was going to do–tomorrow? I was “training” for it. Well, after a good solid week of trying to decide whether to do it or not (I’m incredibly indecisive, and if you were around me at that time, it is the only thing I talked about “Should I, or shouldn’t I?”), a sane friend told me it would probably be a bad idea to run and I’d wreck my already exhausted body. I’m fighting feelings of guilt and sense of disappointment since I am not doing it. But now, I realize it would have been really stupid to do, and there is no way I could have the energy to do it after my crazy nights.Thank God for the people in my life who do have normal views of sports and can talk sense into my stubborn self. (I do wish my friend incredible amounts of luck for running his first ever marathon–Go out there, run quickly, and don’t break a leg!!) I warned him that they are addicting (that’s another one of my many “gifts”– inspiring people to run long distances), and I can’t believe how hardcore of a runner he’s turned into since I’ve known him.Rock on, T.R!

Fall

With this incredibly gorgeous fall weather we are having, it’s painful for me not to be outside. So after a three hour nap, I got up and washed my car (I think it loves me now–it was just a tad dusty), and am about to head out for a bike ride. To satisfy the need of putting my body through pain, since I am not running the marathon tomorrow morning, as well as to help fight the feelings of failure, the insane person within me signed up for a duathlon that is only 30 minutes away from where I live. Replace a marathon with another race. Why not? It’s my day off.

It’ll be a piece of gluten-free cake–if I can get my legs to move that is.

Experiment

A lot has happened to me this past year, and I’ve come to accept what has happened, happened. It’s never to late to look back on your life, and decide to change. And with night shifts starting, I’ve noticed my body has been affected negatively and something needs to change.

With the night shifts, my eating habits have been poor, my caffeine intake has skyrocketed, and I am exhausted. It messes up your sleep pattern. Actually, it just messes you up, period. Even though now I have the ability to go for a run or ride before work, which I could not do when it was so dark in the mornings (but my Petzel headlamp always helped when I ran in the dark–which is a positive,) my body feels yucky. Ohh Memories of running up and down, zigzagging through the streets of alexandria, met the newspaper man delivering newspapers to all the shops along King Street, and Starbucks on Orocono preparing for their first customers…

Anyway, I’ve decided it’s come to make a change–wipe my palate clean, so to say. My experiment is more like a lifestyle change. My friend is completing a  “cleanse” as we speak. She said she feels amazing–and her face is glowing. I tried going two days on her cleanse but could not survive without the caffeine during night shifts. But, I  have a feeling the change in eating will help me feel better, both inside and out, and give my body a break.

So what does that mean? Nix the sugar–of any kind. Nothing artificial–no diet cokes, no “diet” anything…Waaaay to many chemicals in those foods.  I read once an athletic journal on how athletes, switch to gluten-free diets during their training and this seems to improve their performance. Honestly, I forgot the Journal’s name. Therefore, I’m trying this gluten free diet- it may be easier on my intestines, and may make my stomach less irritable. The body is incredible at sensing the smallest changes your body makes. So, no more gluten (for now)–this might actually help with my horrible stomach disomfort I always have. I am also cutting out anything that is canned . If it’s fresh and colorful, I can eat it. Cutting out meat will not be an issue, because I’m already a vegetarian. No dairy. Only fresh foods. I can eat seeds, lentils, nuts, soy, etc. I actually just  cooked up kale for the first time in my life the other day, and realized there are so many different wonderful, exotic fruits and vegetables that we never eat.

Kale chips--actually pretty tasty- mine did not come out as pretty as the ones in this picture

It’s just an experiment to see how I feel. I’m hoping it will give me more energy, help me improve physically, and give my body a rest from all the crap I’ve been doing to it.

Welcome, Fall

 

 

this tree has it's leaves changing!

I just got back from a fabulous last minute short ride this afternoon, and boy, is it turning into fall quickly, which makes sense, since it is almost October. There are so my trees which are changing colors, the scent of people containing with their barbeques. The fresh, crisp, cool are, albeit  it turned a bit muggy quickly but who cares, right? The weather has been in the– 70’s–perfect clycling or running conditions.

view from river road of sun setting,with the Catskills in the back ground

I cannot believe that it is already October and we’re getting ready for the fall festivities of Halloween and Thanksgiving. Growing up in Europe, those holidays were not celebrated, so I never had the full American holiday experiences. My family, however, always cooked a little thanksgiving for our Luxembourgish neighbors, or for the single american teachers who were working in Luxembourg.It meant a lot for them, because they were not with their family. I’ve come to appreciate my family more as I have gotten older, and definitely appreciate the times we all get together.This past year might have been the toughest I’ve experienced, and I do not know what I would have done had I no family around. They come first im my life .

There is something special about fall, excluding the fact it leads to winter. Something about the crisp fresh dew on the grass in the mornings, and the freshness of the air as you take your first breath outside after arising from slumber. The haze has settle along the grass pastures, looking thick enough to walk on, but in reality, it only makes your feet we. The leaves of the trees turn a golden, maroon color; becoming  live masterpieces before your very eyes; the smell of warm pumpkin bread or fresh-out of the oven apple pie– the scent of cinnamon and allspice in the kitchen. Mmmm.. Fall is a busy season for farmers here as well, esp when they have fields of hay. There is a certain time frame, simlilar to luxembourg, that the farmers make huge hay rolls in preparation for winter–and before it rains–for the winter months, to keep a large stock of food for the cattle.

I am in awe of the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Living in Alexandria, you did not really see a change in seasons as well….probably because I lived downtown and there weren’t many trees to begin with. But up here, it’s evident we are moving away from summer. Welcome, fall.

Fall in the Hudson Valley offers numerous fall activities for the family, and people living solo like myself. I admit I took advantage of only a few last year, and plan on taking advantage of what there is to offer this year like a dork. There are  hayrides, farms where you pick your own pumpkins (definitely reminds me of my childhood in NJ), pick your own apples…the list goes on. In Ulster Park, there is the Headless Horesman, which has haunted hayrides and haunted houses around Halloween time. I would not suggest it for little children, as points can be a little scary (I have no back bone whatsoever–I was scared when I went). But, it’s an interesting show.

Headless Horseman

pumpkins on the front porch

Fall, that not-yet winter and not-yet end-of-summer time frame is perfect for being outside when you can. Like Christmas, you can see some houses decorated with the seasonal goods. I know, I am one of those people who insist on artfully decorating for every season. No worries though, I am not crazed in my decorating and do not go “overboard” like some houses you might have seen before. I’m a Mini Martha when it comes to internal decoration, and actually, am not too bad at it– another talent of mine: interior decorating. I should have my own show one day. Mini Martha Stewart. What do you think?

Pumpkins pumpkins everywhere

Below are are a couple places I have passed where you can pick your own pumpkins (and I squeezed in a maze of corn for ya.) Make sure you get out–there is  plethora of different places you can bring a friend, child, go by yourself, or bring along the whole family!

Pauls Maze

Maynard Farms.

Wonderland Farms in Rhinebeck, NY

Apple Hill Farm

Jenkins and Leuken Orchard, located outside of New Paltz

Neer too young to pick apples!

Wallkill View Farm Market (right outside of New Paltz, and has amazing apple cider)

Hudson Valley Farms

Barton Orchards in Hopewell Junction,NY

A gift of fall festivities for my friends in PDub

Mead Orchards in Tivoli, NY

Many of the above farms also serve hot, fresh, apple cider and baked goods (yumm!).

The Hudson Valley Magazine also offers ideas of what you can do in the area during the fall. I strongly suggest checking it out!

Hudson Valley Parent Magazine has a section on family friendly orchard fun.

Music Selection

I know I criticized people for always listening to their ipods in this post, but the thought of running without music is an unappealing one for me. The only times I am not listening to music is when I go on trail runs, or bike. It’s simply too dangerous to listen to music while riding, and I find with all the changes in scenery on the rides, and the constant changes in elevation on trail runs, that I do not need to be listening to music. Whilst running along the road, however, I tend to get bored quickly and music helps keep me going.

What do I listen to? Everything. I grew up with music, singing or either playing some sort of instrument, and it’s something I really enjoy. Nothing like going to see a live band for sure. The European in me listens to crappy techno/dance songs (okay I admit it!), which have the perfect beat for fast runs (and perfect for people who cannot dance to dance to). I also have lots of accoustic guitar–stemming back from my guitar-playing days with Francois Marie Austin Scarlet II. Yes, I named my guitars. I’m crazy, remember?

I started my first marathon, and conincidentally finished the marathon, listening to Robert Miles’ “Children.”

MDI’s was to Cary Brothers “Ride.”

Boston‘s was Mika

I know, its weird that I remember where I was when listening to music. I guess it is just one of my many talents: telling you my location with songs I’ve listened to.

The song below is great for keeping your tempo up, and might be one of my favorite songs period. JB is brilliant–watch the video and you will not disagree, believe me.

If you are running up a long hill, Fort Minor has a good lyrics to keep you going. I’ve spent many uphills listening to it. I think it’s the only rap song I have (I’m not a huge rap/R&B fan).

I recently went for a run listening to Rusted Root’s “Send Me On My Way,” trying to decipher the lyrics. The run went by quickly, but after listening to the song about fifteen times, I could not listen to it again.

And I leave you to Keep on Running.

Shortcut

I’ve always wanted to ride from Rhinebeck to New Paltz, and I woke up to find blue, cloudless sky and thought my day off would be the perfect day for the ride.

It was a gorgeous, almost-autumn day– warm, and a little windy at times, but a bearable windy. I decided that I’d give myself an hour and a half to get to New Paltz, where I would meet up with my friend. That would give me plenty of time to get there.

I had looked at a map before my ride to make sure I knew where I was going. One would think, after living in New Paltz for a year, and my constant back-and-forths to Rhinebeck, I would know where I am going. And, I did. But this was different, as I would not be driving a car nor going on the highway.My plan was to go through East Kingston down to Rondout, over through Rifton, and eventually make my way to Rt 32, to bring me into New Paltz.

Looking back at Rondout

I found out the hard way that East Kingston has many “dead end” streets. But made it to Rondout. Making my way down Abeel street I could not help but notice an old New York Floating Hospital. This hospital, as I found out later, still serves the homeless population down in New York City.

The floating hospital

The ride was going well, not too difficult, and the weather was perfect. I passed through Rifton, and decided to take a short cut to New Paltz, which would be quicker than going all the way to Rt 32. I knew I would have to go uphill, but that did not bother me, as I’d stay on the ridge, and my apartment in New Paltz is somewhat on a hill.

The first mile of the incline was not bothersome. But, after six miles of going uphill, my thighs were burning, my lungs felt like they were on fire, and my breathing was labored times three. I kept thinking, “what goes up must come down.” Eventually, the incline turned into a sharp downhill which intersected with North Ohioville. I would be a little late, but was almost there.

As I was approaching the intersection, about to stop and concentrated on unclipping my left foot to keep my right foot clipped in, I noticed a firehouse on my right. And that’s when it dawned on me– there is no firehouse on North Ohioville. I stopped and looked straight ahead to a sign: “Rt 9W.” Ohh crap (maybe what I really thought is not appropriate to write). If you are familiar with the area, you know that 9W parallels the Hudson River…And is not close to New Paltz at all.

My route

My shortcut was no shortcut. In fact, it brought me further away from where I wanted to get to. So, I was a little annoyed, and going to be a little late. I never realized heading south on 9W, that it is rather a hilly road. My legs were mad at me, and I had run out of water. But, I had to get to New Paltz.

Finally, my 15 mile “shortcut” brought me to where I wanted to be. From now on, I’ll be steering clear of shortcuts of any kind.

Why?

I wrote a small blurb once about why I run in my “introductions.” Any activity, if you do it enough, becomes a part of who you are.

The endorphins released during cycling or biking are definintley play a factor in why I do them so much. If you’ve finished a long run, or an exceptional bike ride, you can identify with the feeling of satisfaction you have once you finish. It’s hard to recreate in other situations.

The year after I was told by a neurologist I was to stay away from anything which was “dangerous,” I took up climbing. Every Thursday night you could find me with my Belgian climbing parter, Jacques, climbing. I went on to climb the highest peak in Europe three years later.

My shoes were waiting in the store for me

There is no question. If I let circumstances govern how I live my life, I would never have used crampons or ice climb or face my fears of heights. Yes, I have a huge fear of heights, and I love to rock climb. Kind of weird. Rock climbing is as much mental as it is physical, which is appealing. It’s like completing a puzzle–where do I place my foot? That crevasse is just large enough to squeeze my finger into…Jacques never ceased to tell me, “Trust your feet.”

If I listened to people who told me I would never be able to finish 26.2 miles running without training, I never would have completed my first marathon. Nor go on to finish a second. Or third.

And, I admit, there is a sense of accomplishment when you can say, “I’ve completed three marathons” before you are in your mid-twenties.

After completing two duathlons I can see how triathlons and racing can become life consuming, and how easy it is to become drawn to the sport. I’ve run in more 5k’s than I have fingers, and always ran them because I enjoyed them, not ever to attempt to win. Then the little competitive me sprung into existence with the duathlons–one I never knew existed–and whose “birth” so to say goes hand in hand with the fact I was able to place in my age group in the races I did. Mind you, the races were small, so it was easier for me to do well. Furthermore, from what I’ve noticed, most triathletes tend to be in their late twenties to mid forties or older. Hence it was easier to do well. Now, I’ve found when I enter these races, my motivation is to see how I’ve improved. What has changed? What can I improve upon?

In the past, I’ve done things to prove people wrong (you are treading on eggshells if you tell me I cannot do something, I kid you not). Now, I do things for me. When I’m clipped into my pedals, I’m whole. When I’m pressed up upon a rock face deciding where to move next, I feel complete. As I unlace my sneakers after a run, I am at peace.

Cycling Inspiration

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