The days after a race

from Runners World

It’s been a week since my last post–work has been keeping me away from the computer.

This week, I am not sure if it is because I had just fininished a great race and felt on cloud nice, and the fact my friends were there for me made all the difference in the world, but I feel odd. Probably because I was on two nights, off one, then back on three in a row, which can make you exhausted, or the fact I did no workouts last week, except for a small jog, and now I’m kicking myself for taking a week off, because my next race is at the end of april. But this “funk” I’m in, really needs to stop. Now.

I think it all has to do with the “Runners High.” If you are a runner, or other athlete, you know what I’m talking about. The feeling of euphoria after you complete a great work out. I was so estatic the race was over, so happy and excited, and then, BOOM. Back to reality. And then, BOOM, feelings of almost… Depression. But, I have  my bike tuned and ready for my long ride this week, and can’t wait to be out there, exploring more of Dutchess county, or possibly go over to Greene county….Who knows really.

Below is my schedule for this week (from my coach) which upon thinking, I’ve never actually written what a week for me looks like on this blog (or, have I?):
Tuesday
bike = 56 mile LSD
you can start to ride the hills harder. Getting your HR into zone 3 (HR = 155-164bpm)

T-run = 20 minutes

Wednesday:
swim = total 2100 yards    repeat but with shorter rest

Warmup = total 300 yards.
swim 3 x (swim 50 yards / kick 50 yards) focus on one aspect for each 50 yard swim (such as high elbow, hand enrty, fingers, pull technique.)

Mainset = 1600 yards
4 x 400 yards with :30 RI between

Cooldown as you like for 200 yards

Thursday
run = hill repeats.
Warmup first then:
6 x 3:00 up burger hill. Easy 3:00 jog down and recovery before repeating.

Friday
swim = total 1800  yards   repeat

Warmup = total 300 yards.
swim 3 x (swim 50 yards / kick 50 yards) focus on one aspect for each 50 yard swim (such as high elbow, hand enrty, fingers, pull technique.)

main set = 1300 yards
10 x 50 as:  (25 yards FAST then settle into 25 yards easy) :45-60 RI
8 x 100. alternate between fast and easy :30 RI

cooldown as you like for 200 yards

Saturday
Bike =  big gear. Elevate front wheel 4-6″ on block. repeat

warmup: 10:00 – 15:00

main set: 5 x (2:00 big gear <80 rpm / 1:00 >100 rpm /  2:00 big gear 50-60 rpm / 1:00 >100 rpm) 2:00 RI between intervals. HR 3+ to low zone 4

cooldown: 10:00

Sunday
9 miles LSD

After a monster work week, I’m actually going to get this done.

Man, I cannot wait for the next duathlon!

Interesting article from the NY times about Runners Highs

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NYC Half Race Report Part deux

Bib number 8288

Well, it’s over. First race of the season, and I must admit, the season could not have started off any better. The racing weekend started off on a semi-stressful note, as I somehow managed to lose my drivers license and credit card somewhere between Poughkeepsie and Grand Central Station, but without some sort of issues on a racing weekend, it just wouldn’t be right–at least in my case. As mentioned in “part one,” I was able to get my bib without my ID–thank heavens,because it really would have sucked to be all the way in NYC to run a race and not be able to run in it.

I’ll continue from where I left off last night before attempting to sleep.

I did get a good 4 hours of shut-eye last night; my attempts to switch my body starting Thursday from nocturnal mode to day time mode was unsuccessful to say the least. I have a feeling if I decide to go pro, i might need to switch to working day shift, because the constant “back-and-forth” with sleeping during the day but needing to sleep at night before a race just does not work. Unfortunetly, I don’t see myself switching to day shift anytime before the “big race,” so I’ll need to grin and bear entering races already exhausted. A positive, though, was that I was up at 0300 and was able to hydrate and eat and let it “digest” before starting the run, hence not having to run with the feeling that you have a brick in your stomach.

lemon-lime= deliciousness

Up at 0300, filled with anticipation and excitement, like other races I’ve done, I hydrated, and decided to eat that gu gummy blok. As I’ve mentioned before I’m just not a fan of eating while exercising, dont like anything gummy or sweet–which rules out most energy bars/gels. However, the lemon flavored gu energy block I ate tasted fan-tast-ic. I’m not sure if it was because I was incredibly nervous and that is the only thing I could manage to eat before the race, or that my body just craves more sugar, electrolytes, and caffeiene, that if i had a whole box infront of me, it would have been consumed in less than five minutes.

Picking a hotel that had a shuttle to the starting are–let me correct myself, booking through an agency linked with NYRR and the race–saved a lot of grief when it was time to leave. If you are looking for a place to stay before a race, and the race organizers have certain companies they are partnering with (be it hotels or whatnot), make sure you book through that company. There were a lot of runners who stayed at my hotel who did not book through that agency, and, my heart went out to them, because the shuttle was only for people who were with the agency. Just a heads up.

Bag checks were organized according to coral numbers

The race was extremely well organized, and had bag drop-offs according to your coral number. Each runner also had a brightly colored sparkly ID band which allowed them into the coral zone (I love sparkly things). We got to Central Park by 0610, and it was quite chilly. Next time, I’m going to wear a crappy pair of sweatpants with the crappy shirt that I can keep on until the race starts, because I was on the brink of hypothermia wearing shorts, the t-shirt, arm warmers, gloves, and a thin cotton long sleeved shirt on. I advise that you wear something that you don’t mind throwing out to wear after you check your bags, because there is a heck of a lot of waiting around before the race starts. And, even though it was above freezing, it was still 33 degrees and the sun wasn’t out yet. (That was lesson one). Lesson two is that you should not walk for hours around New York City the day before you need to run 13.1 miles. Because that is not considered rest, especially if your feet hurt and you haven’t even run the race yet.

Central Park at 0600

I met up with the other members of the DetermiNation team at 0630 and continued to wait and freeze, making new acquaintances and taking team pictures. It was nice “knowing” people in the race, even if i had just met them. They were all in the same boat. The DetermiNation team coaches were awesome, upbeat, and at different points along the race course to cheer you on. It was around 0645 when we finally took a whole group picture and made our way to our different corals that the gal I was talking to started to mention the hills on the course.

“There are hills in New York City? I thought it was just flat,” was my dumb struck response.

“Yea, there are a couple short inclines in Central Park.”

Since I’ve never been to Central Park, I had no idea what to expect. Considering I’ve done trail running in the Gunks and Catskill mountains, the panic feeling I had about the inclines went away (kind of).

From around 0650 to 0730, there was standing. And waiting. And teeth chattering, as all the 10,000 runners stood in place trying to keep warm until the race began. A neat thing was that I saw Central Park in the dark, and was there when the sun was rising, and as the temperature rose to 37 degrees.  I met some fellow runners whose lips were just as blue as mine, and matched my blue DetermiNation T-shirt, and prayed that the feeling in my legs would come back before the start. *This is the time you want to be wearing the throw-away sweats–standing in the cold is miserable. And, once you shed them at the start, you are doing the homeless people a favor by giving them free clothes! Heaven forbid you find yourself living on the streets and can no longer afford to buy clothes, just head to the nearest race start, and you’ll find a whole new wardrobe of clothes!

After the NYRR organizers speeches and introductions of all the famous runners whose names i can’t remember because I wasn’t paying attention due to the incessant teeth chattering, the race started. It was a nice loop around Central Park (I had no idea Central Park was so big), and by mile 2 I was pretty warmed up and feeling good. It was a picture perfect day for a race- blue sky, sunny, a tad chilly, but I’m not going to complain, since there have been races I’ve done where its 98% humidity and 90 degrees (that is hell).

Race Course

After completing about 6 miles, the course headed down 7th avenue, which was by far the best part of the race. Scratch that, the best part of any race is when you are done. Running down 7th Ave was the most memorable part of the race. I’ve been to NYC only a couple times before, and it’s always been crowded and people bumping into each other trying to avoid all the tourists taking photos of every billboard imaginable. There was still bumping into each other, it’s just that the bumping was faster, since it was now runners running into each other at the water stations.

It was awesome. The people on the sides of the roads cheering for you as you ran down towards Times Square where cars usually are was incredible. I would have taken pictures with my phone, but thought it would look too weird snaping pictures of buildings while running a race. Similarly, the texts I was going to send to my friend never occured because, again, I felt it would be weird texting and running at the same time. I feel it’s a racing faux-pas to be on your phone texting. So, I didn’t. (And, the zipper to the pocket holding my phone was stuck, therefore i couldn’t even get my phone if I wanted to).

DetermiNation Cheerleaders along the course (from NYRR site)

I was feeling pretty good, running faster than my anticipated 10minute miles (yes, my goal is that slow). After passing times square, I think the adrenelin started to wear off (around mile eight) and I began to wonder how I ever ran marathons because I was beginning to feel the run.And then the thoughts of  “wait, why do I think this is fun again?” begin to creep into my thoughts. But the cheering was helpful, and I was able to keep my mind occupied by taking in the sights of the City.

The last three miles were along the water on West Side Highway. Even though the distance was only a half marathon, those last three miles seemed to be painful. It’s like other races–the last leg is just horrible, because you know you are so close to the finish, and yet still need to continue to run. (I still don’t know how I ever managed to run marathons).

Finally, after 2hrs and 2 minutes, it was done. In retrospect, it went really quickly. And with my fatigue and lack of rest, I was content with how I did (okay, I really could have done better, but, whatever, I was doing it for “fun”–and yes, I just said “whatever”).

Despite the thousands of people (literally, thousands) at the finish line, I was able to find my most dear and amazing friend, who was waiting at the end at 0930 with camera in one hand, and flowers in the other, for me. There really isn’t anything better than being greeted by a familiar face, especially in a city like New York, and especially if it’s the dearest, most thoughful friend and reason you were running the race. That was definitely a highlight, thank you, T.Linscott. You’re a rockstar.

This brings me to my third lesson: it’s virtually impossible for the majority of runners to look presentable and not like complete disasters after finishing races for the pictures. Yes, snapshots are required of you after you have completed any distance race–whether it be 2 miles or 60miles. Pictures are a reminder that you accomplished something, no matter how big or small it might have been. But I’ve learned after 99.9% of the races I have finished, there is just no humanly possible way for me to look like I’m pain-free and happy, when in reality, I’m estatic that the race is over. I always appear to be a miserable mess, and really do envy people who can complete races and are in mint condition. I really want to know their secret to how they look incredible. If you are one of those people who look incredible after a race, tell me, what is your secret to looking amazing?

Anyway, after picture taking (my attempts to look somewhat presentable for the photo shoot were very unsuccessful) and getting situated, we headed back to the hotel where I could finally get warm, which brings me to lesson numero quatre: pack sweatpants to wear post race. When you are finished running, you are sweaty and warm, but if it is a blistery cold windy day like it was this morning, the sweat and heat is replaced by ice. There is a reason for why runners get those gray shiny aluminum looking sheets (in all honesty I forgot the technical name for them) after they finish. They really help keep you warm. In the bag I checked, all I put in it was my warm-up jacket, and that was not enough, even with wrapping the shiny sheet around my legs like a towel.

NYC Half 2011 frozen finisher

my cheerleader

I was so thankful to have T.Linscott with me and guide me back to the hotel, as I really had no idea where we were. I keep forgetting NYC is so big! I took a quick shower, checked out of the hotel (and learned you don’t have to literally “check out” in hotels–you can express check out!) and lugged my big hiking bag garbed in a sweatsuit, passing women in the lobby wearing coats and bags that cost more than my car. We met some fellow Kingstonians for brunch at Cafe Ronda which was very good, and I highly recommend it if you are in that area of the city and want brunch.

 

Cab after brunch...I felt like I was about to fall asleep

Kingstonians + New Yorkers all together...Notice my coordinated sweatsuit

After a delicious meal we headed back to my friends car (they had driven down, and had an extra place for me). One of my favorite quotes of the day is when Povill said to me,  “You know, you look like one of those high schoolers who are traveling with their sports team in your addidas sweatsuit lugging that huge hiking bag around.” (Lesson 5: it is vital to have your track suit color coordinated. It just so happened the pink strips on my sleeves matched the pink on my sneakers).

The short road trip back from the city to Kingston/Poughkeepsie, where I had parked my car, was full of singing along to songs, laugher and jokes. Being surrounded by the people I love just made the day even more special than it already was.

Thea's flowers

Many of the races I’ve done, I’ve done alone. Going to and from race location by myself. Today I realized the importance of friendship, and how it’s so much more fun when you have other people doing the race with you, or on the sidelines cheering for you. I was blessed with friends like that.

All in all, the race was awesome. Being able to experience what it is like running such a big race (well, I guess the Boston Marathon was just as big) through the Big Apple was an experience I will never forget. I definitley recommend it to people looking for a good half marathon to do.

As I sit with my compression socks on and my sleeping cat by my side, I can’t begin to fathom how my body will deal with the Mooseman that is coming up shortly. I guess the quote below sums it up.

‎”Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves. It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.” -PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Below is a link to a video of the race–take a look–you’ll want to do it next year for sure!

NYRR Video re-cap of NYC Half 2011

Today was awesome. Thank you, NYRR, for an awesome race, and special thanks to T.Linscott for being at the finish line,J.Povill for holding my backpack, and N. Conklin for the laughter in the back seat.

You have to wonder at times what you’re doing out there. Over the years, I’ve given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement.” – Steve Prefontaine

The perfect song for the perfect day.


New York City Half Marathon

 

copyright NYRR

Part one of a two part story

I’m here! New York City–the “Big Apple”–the “City that never sleeps” and just  checked into my very fancy hotel room after meandering through the city streets. The sweet smell of polution and the honking of horns blare outside my window. There is a reason why I live in the country.

I made it safe and sound after taking the train south, hoping to catch a few zzz’s while the train rumbled on the tracks but alas, if this girl cannot sleep during the day, there is no chance she’ll sleep on a train…Or tonight before the race for that matter.

I rode the NYC subway for the first time and managed to get to  the expo and as I reached through my wallet, I thought, “ohhhh shit.Where is my ID?”

Now, for you runners/triathletes/cyclists…or any race you are in. Tell me, what are the two things that you need in order to pick up your bib number? Your confirmation email of registration, and YOUR IDENTIFICATION. Then the panic kicked in. What if they don’t let me race? I can’t go all the way back to Rhinebeck to get my passport and then come down. Is this really happening to me?

It was.

Thankfully, I was able to get my prized NY half t-shirt (only do races where you can get shirts! All my racing shirts are like a racing diary) and not have to sit out on this race. I met the other people from the team DetermiNation, who were all great. Thank you to all of you who donated– the American Cancer Society raised over 200,000 dollars– thats the most any charity has raised for a half marathon. Not only do i thank you, but millions of other  people living with cancer are thanking you as well. And if you still would like to donate, just let me know and we can work it out.

 

in Memory of, In honor of Wall at DetermiNation

 

 

infront of the wall

 

I walked around times square which was bustling with tourists and people throwing paper advertisements at you. Can you imagine the amount of energy they waste on all those neon signs?!?I acted like a complete tourist, and really should have gotten a map (my earlier words: Pshh, I don’t need a map, how lost can I get?–those were my famous last words). I zigzagged my way through the streets and managed to find gatorade and cliff shot bloks, which I have never tried on a run before and might be having one tomorrow…I know you should never try something new in a race, but I need to try them at some point. Plus, I already paid for them. On my long runs, I’ve never eaten food, just drank lots of water….We will see.

I got back to my room and set everything up for tomorrow for my 0500 wake up call. Our hotel has  shuttle busses that will bring us to the start (one reason why I chose the hotel, so I wouldn’t have to deal with the subway that early in the morning. )

My outfit

It’s supposed to be a nice day out, and i just found out my dear friend Thea will be there cheering me on! (and part of why i’m running this race is for her!!!)

I should probably hit the sack now…Part two will be here after!

“In running, it doesn’t matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, ‘I have finished.’ There is a lot of satisfaction in that.”
-Fred Lebow

I Can

“So, what will you do when it’s over?”

“It’s never over. That’s the awesome thing. There will always be something I can do.”

“But, why?”

“Because…I can.”

Over these past couple months, I’ve dedicated my life outside of work to training. There have been setbacks–illness, weather, work commitments. Training is tough. Anyone who has trained for any type of race–either  running, swimming, biking (or all three), knows that it is hard. It takes mental and physical strength to push yourself further than you think you can handle–to move each leg, one foot in front of the other, on a run after you’ve put in miles on a bike and your legs feel like jelly. It takes patience with yourself–to continue that bilateral breathing and practicing those strokes, even after frustration kicks in. It takes commitment, to spending those hours in the saddle. It takes…Determination to do hill work in downpour. It takes admitting your flaws, and dissecting them, so you can improve what is incorrect. Most of all, it takes…Time.

Training for triathlons and duathlons has become my life. It’s become a passion. I’m excited when I meet someone else who is training for a tri–whatever distance it is. “Which races have you done? Woahh!” Seems to be my reaction to any race completed by a triathlete I’ve met. Start talking about Scott’s Plasma 3 bike (which almost became a future member of my household today–save the fact I no longer allow myself to bring my wallet into bicycle shops with me), and you have my full attention. Food is now fuel for my workouts. Everything I put into my body has the potential to affect how I perform in races this season.

Yes, there are days when I’m exhausted and mustering up the energy to do an endurance swim workout is painful. But, after those first fifteen minutes in the water, from somewhere, you find this energy–this, renewed sense of self. You think, “Holy shit, I think I can do this.”

And, yes, to be honest, I’m scared of this race, mostly though, the swim portion of it. And, especially after I meet triathlete’s who say, “that’s a tough race. And the water is cold…Like, 58 degrees cold.”

Yet, this girl who would never be caught dead in the water five months ago, can now sense when her strokes are correct and breathing is efficient. Today, she tried on a wetsuit for the first time in her life.

My colleague was spot on the other night when he said, “There is no ‘I can’t’ in Molly’s vocabulary.” What he forgot to say was, “There’s no ‘I can’t’ in yours, either.”

Just try. Odds are, you’ll be able to do what you thought was impossible. If there is one thing I’ve learnt from this journey I’ve started, it’s this: nothing can stop human will when it wants something badly enough.

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”- Unknown


I Think I’m Going to Die

Life is all about learning lessons, and I’m going to share some that I’ve learnt the hard way, with you, so that you will not repeat them, as in many of my blog posts. This might be one of the most important lessons yet: It’s really, really, REALLY stupid to go for a 46mile tough ride after being deathly ill with whatever gastrointestinal bug that was going around work. Believe me when I tell you this. Learn from my mistakes. Don’t do it.

After spending the last 48 hours cooped up inside, and cancelling a coffee meeting due to this illness (which upon finding out, I was scolded by my friend for doing) I awoke feeling refreshed and needing to spend time in the fresh air.

J.G.: “Um, you canceled meeting K to go for a bike ride?”

Me: “But I was sick!”

J.G.: “Mol, you went for a freaking 46 mile bike ride!”

Me: “But, when I cancelled, I was sick!I couldn’t consume caffeine.”

J.G.: “You’re NUTS!”

Me (after a long sigh): “Yeah, I know.”

If you are nuts like me, and could consume a banana without vomiting, perhaps you would have done the same thing. Or, maybe not. It was in the high 40’s for goodness sake. I couldn’t bear to sit inside on my couch.

A couple weeks ago I complained to my coach that I was getting tired of riding on route 9 and asked her if she had any routes that I could do. In response, she told me I could bring my bike somewhere and ride–I didn’t always have to ride from my house–and gave me a website with routes that she has completed. And today I thought, why not go for a ride? My stomach can tolerate the consumption of a banana, and I’m game for an adventure.

Oh, was I wrong.

I decided to go somewhere I’ve never been before. A friend asked me if I tell people where I’m going when I go for long rides, or on “Molly adventures” as she calls them. “No, but I do bring my cell phone with me, and a first aid kit.” (Note: make sure your cell phone is fully charged before you go. Having a cell phone with a dead battery is of no use whatsoever incase you do have an emergency).

I started off in Phoenicia, a little town where I’ve never been. In fact, you really do not need to go there either. There isn’t really anything there. Sitting in the front seat of my car with a sick-to-my-stomach feeling, I looked down at the directions in my lap and it dawned on me,  no wonder I get lost easily. My “directions” are really the worst directions anyone could ever write.

So, I thought, perhaps it might be a good idea to see if the “grocery store” had a map. And, I needed gatorade and felt my sugar begin to drop and I wanted to also get a powerbar. I entered the small shop, and was actually slightly creeped out, which rarely happens to me. I walked down the aisles of dust covered cereal boxes and overpriced food and managed to find a Gatorade, but to my dismay, there were no powerbars. They did have maps though! I asked the kind lady behind the counter if there was anyplace to park in this lovely small quaint town, and she said I was welcome to park across from the post office.

I sat back in the front seat of my horribly dirty car and studied the map in my lap and chugged the gatorade.Okay, I’m ready. I unpacked my car, hopped on my bike, clipped in, and was off. Note: Chugging Gatorade after being unable to even consume Ginger Ale, is not a good idea. Emesis of fruit punch flavored fluids may occur.

I’m not going to lie, the ride was hard. Very hard. So hard that, for the majority of the ride, I thought I might die. “Ride the hills harder on this ride, so your heart rate is in zone 3” were the weekly directions from my coach. It’s safe to say my watch kept beeping to tell me I was in zone 4, and my heart rate was too high. No wonder at some points I thought my heart was fibrillating and going to jump out of my throat; my heart rate was in the 190’s.

Ouu, I've never been so close to Hunter Mountain before!

I rode up, and down, and around on winding roads that I’ve never been on, and managed to survive the waves of nausea that accompanied the twisting roads. I passed through Tannersville, which oddly reminded me a bit of Woodstock, and through Pallenville, which I haven’t been to since I was a youngster. And, I passed Kaaterskill Falls, thanking God as I coasted down the long, long hill on route 23A that I did not decide to do this route in reverse like I had originally planned. Because going in reverse, there is a MAJOR incline. For miles. And, had I done that, I think I really would have died.

Looking back up at what would have killed me.

Who knew the highest waterfalls in NY were so close by?

Whilst riding, I realized that there is a reason why my coach, who has completed full Ironman races, the  S.O.S., and other major triathlons (she’s truly amazing) is in amazing shape. If I did these rides like her on a regular basis, I’d be in terrific shape, too.

Phoenicia->Palenville->Phoenicia Route

The roads continued to go up, and down, and around. I stopped a couple times to glance at my map (BEST purchase ever) because I was afraid I was lost, and being lost in the Catskills is not where you want to be. But, upon reaching Glasco Turnpike, I knew exactly where I was. Then again, there are only so many Glasco Turnpikes outside of Woodstock of which I’m aware.

When dehydration sets in, you find signs like this funny.

In all honesty, it was perfect weather for riding, and going down hills were nice. When you go for long rides, or tough ones I should say, you really should bring something to eat incase your blood sugar plummets, and make sure you have enough water. Thankfully I was smart enough to pack a banana with me which I think might have saved me from a hypoglycemic coma in Shandaken.

On all of my recent rides, to my dismay, I have not passed other cyclists. I know other people do go out for rides, just not on weekdays when I go, since I tend to work on weekends. However, I was very excited to pass two cyclists, who, imagine this, I actually recognized. Okay, the fact I was close to Woodstock, and the fact they were wearing yellow jackets with red, green, and black stripes across the chest, kind of gave them away.

Sickler Road

Finally, after what I felt was hours of pedaling (and indeed, it was hours), I made it safely back to my embarrassingly dirty car.

Upon arriving home, I opened my e-mail to find one from my coach which read the following:

How was your long ride today? You weren’t on 212 by any chance–Steve said he passed someone who looked like you.

And, after laughing, I replied,

Yes, that was me. I thought I passed him. Your routes are killers!

Breakfast at Tiffany’s was in my head for the majority of the ride. Thank you, Pandora, for putting me through even more pain than I was already in.

Don’t give up.

I just received a photocopy of a letter I wrote to a friend a couple months ago, by a complete stranger (how they got my address I will never know), but with two words “Thank you” written on the back of the letter. As honest as it is about who I am, I thought, if you are going through a rough period in your life, please, know this: it gets better.

Dearest X,

It’s taken me awhile to figure out what to say, and I’ve finally found the right words to scribble with this mere pen and blank piece of paper staring in front of me. I could not not write to you, knowing you are going through a tough time. I do pray with these simple words you may find comfort, peace, and hope.

I’ve experienced first hand how cruel people can be–how hateful they are, corrupt, evil, and mean, and wondered how it’s possible to be so thoughtless, uncaring, and brutal to another individual. I’d never wish for what has happened in my past to occur to my worst enemy, and it’s hard for me to comprehend the thought processes of mankind sometimes, or why they do what they do. I’ve felt hate, been afraid, endured heartbreak, battled feelings of self doubt, overcome addiction, and have questioned if my life is really worth living. There is nothing scarier than when you question your own life. Nothing.

But, I’ve also felt compassion, witnessed the tears of joy streaming from the eyes of parents after their first child was delivered; experienced the heartfelt, unfailing love of friends and family; held the hand of a complete stranger in need; laughed over mindless matters; and was blessed with the ability to sense the rays of sun on my skin, and hear the beauty of an amazing song. I’ve felt victory. I’ve rocked an orphaned infant who lost his parents from AIDS to sleep, and hugged a wife the moment after her husband passed away. I’ve sat down and cried with parents of a daughter who was my patient, and hearing the mother tell me I was a light in her present darkness, and gave her hope that things would be okay, far surpasses all the negatives I have experienced.

How you decide to live your life is your choice.  You can choose to give up, or you can choose to fight. You asked how I do it. It’s all about your perspective. I’ve decided to focus on the positives. There is pain in my past, but hope in my future, as there is in yours, even though you may not see it now.

You were given the chance to live. Do it. Live life to its fullest, everyday, each day. Yes, tomorrow matters, and no doubt about it: your past is important–what you’ve experienced, endured, the challenges you’ve faced, the happiness you have felt in your heart, are all factors in the person you have become. There’s no other way to put it: life is fucking hard. And I’m not going to lie, times will continue to be tough. I’m convinced whoever says life is easy has not experienced what it is all about. I could not agree more with the lyrics to a certain band: the grass is greener on the other side, but just as hard to mow. I admit it, I need to remind myself of that sometimes.

But today is now. You were blessed with an amazing gift, as corny as it sounds: the gift of life.

My friend, you are cherished by more people than you may ever realize. You have touched the lives of troubled individuals, and are truly, deeply, loved by so, so many. Never forget that.

Don’t give up on today.

Please, don’t ever, ever give up.

My love always.

Mol

Bicycle Dreams and Bicycle Rides

I’m not much of a sleeper; it’s not that I dislike sleeping, I just don’t for some odd reason, which makes working at night, and training during the day/night, exhausting. My colleague so eloquently brought it to my attention last night as she said, “You look like sh-t, you need to sleep more.” But after years of this, my body has somewhat learnt how to function on short amounts of sleep. When I do doze off, I rarely dream. And,  I think I was slightly alarmed waking up today after having the most vivid dreams I’ve had in a very long time. Undoubtably, you could guess what the dreams were about: biking. I have a feeling this sport has been on my mind too much. Okay,  the constant looking at Cervélo’s and Scott’s new bikes, and possibly the next addition to the Geuss household probably had something to do with why bicycles were present in my REM sleep.

The last dream I about biking involved Tim Robbins and Lance Armstrong. Why I remember that, well, first of all, who dreams of those two people together on a ride in Luxembourg? Second of all, who dreams of Tim Robbins getting mad at Lance for his amazingly awesome ride, and Armstrong who has cycled in Luxembourg, needing directions from an already directionally challenged individual like myself? I do.

This dream, however, took place in New Paltz/ Kingston, and involved: my coach, iPhones, my bike, bike stores (pretty much a combination of the store where I got my bike from, the Bicycle Depot in New Paltz, and a store back home), Shimano Tri cycling shoes (obviously if my coach says I need them in my dream, I need them in real life), and fellow crazy cyclists. I think it is safe to say I’m somewhat scared/nervous/terrified of this race in June after being out for a couple long rides and realizing my workouts on the trainer did squat for me. Well, maybe cardiovascular wise, it kept me in shape. But, in terms of hills which Mooseman is known to have on its bike course (and came up in a conversation with my coach the night before the dream of mine), the trainer did nothing for me.

Ohh the things I learn.

Somewhere in Columbia County, looking at the Catskill Mountains

I did, however, get out for a fantastic ride today–all thanks to my coach of course, who suggested the route to me. After three nights of hell at work (remember that post I wrote about what I love and hate about my profession? I think I’ve come up with more things I hate about it), I woke up today excited because the snow is melting and I think spring is approaching the tundra of New York, finally. And, I can honestly say, the ride made up for the crappy nights at work.

47 Mile Route

It was perfect. No chain issues. No flat. There were hills (what you go down you need to go back up), and my thighs were angry at me. But it was sunny. Grass could be seen. I had feeling in my hands and feet for the majority of the ride. I didn’t get lost. Endorphins were released, and much appreciated. The last couple rides I’ve had have been miserable, because I was so cold. This, I enjoyed.

There is no better feeling than just being and riding in the present. Not being consumed with the past, or what happened hours ago, or concerned about what the future will bring. Concentrated on the stretch of road lying before your bike and only that; breathing in the crisp, fresh air; the world around you ceases to exist for those few precious hours you are out. You’re at peace. You have the ability to be out there. And when you return, fatigued, with that grin across your face, you are reminded of how awesome life is.

When was the last crazy post written?

March 2011
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