William’s Lake Race Report!

There were mountain bikers everywhere on the trails…Riding around you and over you on tiny mountain bike trails. Kicking, punching, fighting to get ahead. 

Oh wait, that is a triathlon swim start, not mountain bike race.

That is what I thought a mountain bike race would be like: people scrambling all around you, yelling “move over!” when there is no space for you to move…Falling, crashes, broken bones, blood.

It was none of that.

Since I had the day off, I decided to  pay the $35 registration fee for my first ever mountain bike race: Williams Lake Mountain bike race. It is a race that is part of the New York State Mountain Bike Series. I have always wanted to try one out, and a mountain bike race was on my bucket list of things to try before I turned 30. Alright, so I’m just a year late in checking it off the list. The thing about mountain bike racing, is that during the spring and summer months, 99.99% of my training is for the triathlons, and my mountain bike is forgotten in the back, collecting dust and becoming the residence of insects. My biggest fear about trying one out during tri season, is falling and breaking something, which would mean saying sayounara to racing for the rest of the summer.

But this year I decided, what the heck? I would pre-ride the course the day before, and if I felt it was too intimidating, then I simply wouldn’t do the race. It wasn’t like it cost me the $$$ race fee that I am used to paying for races.

So I went for two mountain bike rides to remember what it is like to be off road and was able to pre-ride the course with a friend of mine (who was one of the reasons I decided to do it– knowing someone else there always helps!).

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Only females would say it is time to stop for a selfie.

I’m not going to lie, I’m not uber confident on my mountain bike…The fear of breaking anything stops me from trying out obstacles, like go over large logs or rock piles. The pre-ride was good in that I was familiar with times when I had to get off my bike (hah!) It was also a time where I realized I should probably do more mountain bike riding before attempting my first mountain bike race, and maybe take care of my mountain bike a little more instead of forgetting about it :-\  Numerous times on the pre-ride my friend Kellie chimed, ” You need to look at Molly’s bike before she goes– it’s making a lot noise…Make sure you look at Molly’s bike…” I guess the fact I didn’t completely trust my bike would survive the race didn’t help my confidence levels either. Thankfully, one of her friends took a look at my bike before I left, and no, I cannot remember the last time I actually put lube on my mountain bike chain (my bad).

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Come race day. My normal pre-race “Ugh I’m going to vomit any minute…why am I doing this again?” thoughts claimed their territory in my head and I drove to the venue. Mountain bike races are very different than triathlons. People aren’t as uptight and the atmosphere is much more of a relaxed one. Kellie showed me how to put the race number on the bike and introduced me to tons of super friendly people.

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The race began with different “categories” starting a couple minutes after each other–similar to a swim start. There weren’t too many women starting, which was nice, because it lessened my fears of the mass start, and our category had to do two laps on the course. (I don’t know how other riders are able to do five laps– I would never be able to survive that).

I’m not going to lie, it was tough. Roots were slippery, rocks were slippery, heck, everything was slippery. I’m not used to, basically, sprinting on the bike for two hours. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I was able to get my HR up as high as it was on a bike in long time. There is more thinking that is involved on the mountain bike: which is the best way to go over/through this? The trails on the course are more technical than I’m used to, and you really don’t have as much time to recover as you do when riding on the road. Not to mention, you use your upper body a lot more than when you are riding in the aero position on your tri bike.

I got off my bike when I had to, and let people pass when they needed to. I tried to keep up with my friend/ mountain bike teacher, who reminded me when to drink (when do you drink during a mountain bike race?!?)

On the second lap, I felt my confidence rise and rode over things I didn’t on the first lap and surprisingly I only fell twice (in the same spot on both laps).

The best part of the race, other than not dying, was being able to ride through a cave. It isn’t every day you have that on a race course.

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I think this is what you do if you are a mountain biker

All in all, I had a total blast. I was reminded how much I love mountain biking, and that I should really spend more quality time with my mountain bike. Everyone I met was super awesome, friendly, and completely down to earth– which is, I guess, how most mountain bikers I’ve met are. It is a type of race I never really thought I would ever do, yet one that I cannot wait to do again!

Thanks for all your help, Kellie! It’s a lot more fun when you get to do a race with a familiar face! And thanks for the tips/ taking a quick look at my super-noisy bike Martin!

 

Lessons from a Stranger

Have you ever met someone who instantly knew who you are as a person, and changed the way you think about life? A couple months ago I had the chance to spend 24 hours with a man who changed not only the way I think about triathlons, but about life.

As much as you  might find me complaining about being a bedside nurse, this profession has lead me to meet some incredible individuals. I had the opportunity to be Mr. X’s nurse, an incredibly talented athlete whom fascinated me. I’ve met other athletes and triathletes, have had coaches, etc., but have never learnt so much about myself, about racing and training in under twenty-four hours. Well, perhaps in the back of my mind I knew some of the things he told me, but I’ve never had anyone tell them to me to my face. He gave me tips, hints, and advice that I would end up using for the last three races of the season.

Numerous times, he suggested I read Golf is Not a Game of Perfect; he said it was a “game changer” and should be read by everyone– not only athletes.  I went to a local library and glanced at it. Sure enough, it was about golf. You probably have the same thought as I did when I first took a peek at the book: I am not a golfer. I do not know anything about golf. High handicapper? Have no idea what that means. The only thing I know about golf is that golf carts are fun to drive (hah). I decided to rent it because, what the heck, and realized that Mr. X was correct:the psychology in the book can be applied to other aspects of life and other sports.

So I thought I would share some things that I learned both from those twenty-four hours, and take away messages from the book.

  1.  I remember Mr. X stating, “You are an anxious racer, aren’t you?” after just twenty minutes talking to him. When he said that, I felt like he could see into my soul :-p Being an anxious racer was brought to my attention back in June in Tupper Lake when someone else mentioned it to me. Yes, I am an anxious racer. I stress over everything. I stress over the appearances of other people in the race (and compare myself to them). Stress leads to doubts about my abilities. A certain amount of excitement and adrenalin is good in a race. But when doubt replaces trust, you are screwed. A [triathlete] must train herself in physical technique and then learn to trust what she’s trained. You spend hours during the week training for the big day, and you have to learn to trust yourself and all the hard effort you have put into preparing for the event. I’ve found I doubt my training and capabilities, ultimately leading to feelings of anxiety.
  2. This leads to the next point from the book: People by and large become what they think about themselves and Confidence is crucial [to a good game]…Confidence is simply the aggregate of the thoughts you have about yourself. If you don’t think you can do well in a race, you won’t do well. You “psych yourself out.” If you think you can win, you can win. Go to a race with confidence. “Don’t stray to the back of the pack. Push yourself. When you get to the race, think, ‘I’m going to own this motherf-ing course, and no one can stop me.’ Believe in yourself and start at the front. You are there to dominate.'” A little intimidating? Maybe. But I’ve become one of those people who starts at the front of the pack.
  3. [Athletes] who realize their potential generally cultivate the three D’s– desire, determination and discipline; the three P’s– persistence, patience and practice; and the three C’s– confidence, concentration and composure. I found it incredibly interesting to hear about Mr. X’s training routine when he trained for 140.3 races and other triathlons. He had three workout sessions a day, 6 days a week. It was not just the number of hours he put into his training, but he went into training sessions with a focus. “What is your plan today? What is your focus? Every training session should have a focus– whether it is a speed session on the track, power work on the trainer, or drills in the pool. Never go into a session without a plan….Train like you race. If you aren’t seeing stars at the end of a swim workout, you did not swim hard enough.” When training for my first two 70.3 distance triathlons, as well as IMLP, I put the training in “to log in the hours.” I didn’t focus on speed in the pool. I didn’t focus on speed on the track. I did workouts without any thought to it. When I was injured and started training for Aquabikes last March, my mindset regarding training changed, and meeting Mr. X emphasized that new mindset: train like you race. If you don’t train like you race, how will you perform on race day? If you don’t practice your transitions, how will you do no race day? “Don’t be that person who will not ride in the heat or the cold. Train in the elements. Know what it is like to push hard in the humidity or in the hail. Know what your body will do. Practice changing tires. Sit in front of the TV and change them over and over and over again until you can change a flat in under 60 seconds. When you are out on the bike course, concentrate on the road. Know the course. Never go into a race not knowing what to expect.”
  4. A golfer cannot let the first few holes, shots, or putts determine his thinking for the rest of the round. Okay, so how does this relate to triathlons? Triathlons are more complicated than a running race or swim competition: there are more elements involved, meaning there are more opportunities for problems and potential obstacles. I can give you a perfect example with my most recent race: the swim start was one of my most horrible swim starts ever. It was windy and extremely choppy, and I was unprepared for the choppiness. I felt confident when I first started but then found myself swallowing gulp after gulp of lake water, choking and coughing. I hated the swim start. It was not going the “way I wanted”. I freaked out and had to swim breaststroke for the first couple hundred yards to help gain composure, which means I was not swimming as fast as I had hoped. I could have just given up on the race then, and a part of me thought, “F- this.” But, another thought crept in, “no, don’t let this bad swim start ruin the whole race.”  Instead of dwelling on the negative, I accepted that the swim was not what I planned, and continued with the race….Golfers must learn to love the challenge when they hit a ball into the rough, trees, or sand. The alternatives–anger, fear, whining…do no good.
  5. Attitude and self-talk can make or break an athlete. I would say that I am probably one of the greatest negative self-talkers of all time. Unfortunetly, thinking negatively about myself has become such a habit after all these years, to actually have positive self-talk is rare (sad, I know). This negative self-talk does a triathlete no good during race day. Imagine being at the start of a race and thinking, “you suck, you are not going to do well, why do you even do this?” Fortunately, on race day, I’ve actually been able to change my negative self-talk into some positive self “pep-talk”–and I think those positive thoughts have changed the person I am. [Athletes] with great attitudes constantly monitor their thinking and catch themselves as soon as it begins to falter. It would be so much easier for me to tell myself that I am a horrible triathlete, that I cannot place, that the other women look like “true, slim and strong athletes.” And in the past, those thoughts have crept up in my head, like at the beginning of Tupper Lake. Now, if I start to have those questioning thoughts, I try to change them and rephrase them. I am *just* as good of an athlete as those other women out there.
  6. Which leads me to another lesson: If a [triathlete] chooses to compete, he must choose to believe that he can win. Winners and losers in life are completely self-determined, but only the winners are willing to admit it. It is highly unlikely that you are going to win a race if you don’t believe that you can win it. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.
  7. Another thing: fear. I learned that fear is completely normal in an athlete. Personally, I have a fear of failure and of another DNF in my life. That one DNF left such an imprint on my life that I fear it happening again. I know in reality there are possibilities of future DNFs that are outside my control. Heck, the professionals have DNFs and DNS’s, so why can’t us “common athletes” have them? But you need to overcome that fear and not let it consume you. Courage is a necessary quality in all champions. But an athlete cannot be courageous without first being afraid. 
  8. (Okay, so this does not come from the book, but after recent news, I thought it  to be an important subject to bring up). You are not a product of your coach. You are a product of your own hard work and dedication. What a coach does in his or her own personal life is not a reflection of the you; their values and their life decisions do not represent the person you are.  I used to think having a coach whose athletes pulled off podium results was the one to look for. It did not matter if they were expensive: if they were able to have athletes win, then why not pay the money for them to coach you? But I came to realize that my own growth and progress as a triathlete was not because of my coach. My growth was because of the dedication and hard work I put into my training…It was for the mornings I woke up early on my days off to go to the pool, when I really wanted to sleep in and be lazy. My growth was because I followed a plan, and attempted things that were outside my comfort zone. The one person who had the biggest impact in my “triathlon career” would have to be my swim coach. She is the one I spent the least amount of time around, and met late into my training for IMLP. She is first one to push me to test my limits during an actual race– and for that I will be forever thankful.
  9. Lastly, A person with great dreams can achieve great things. If you asked me last year at this time if I would compete in a championship race, I probably would have laughed in your face. I think there is a little section in each of us that wants to excel at something, whether it is athletic or non-athletic. But before you can excel, you need to have a dream. I admit my dream has been to qualify for something– even if it was not the Ironman World Championships. And you can’t let anyone else belittle that dream or criticize you for it. Emotionally, participating in aquabike races last season instead of triathlons  was difficult. More than once I heard people say, “She only did the aquabike– she did not do the whole race,” and hearing that was hard. It is like telling a sprinter who does 5K races that “he only did a 5k and not a half marathon.” My reasons for not competing in full triathlons races was beyond my control, and it was not by choice I cut out the run portion. I was overjoyed to find races that had aquabike options.  I decided to dedicate myself to the disciplines that I could still complete, when I could have simply given up on the sports all together. To hear people say I didn’t finish the whole race felt like someone was telling me all my training for the events was not true training. But you know what? I trained long and hard for those races I participated in, and even if I was not able to finish the run portion, doesn’t mean I did not try or work as hard as the others who were able to run. If I let those people impact how I did in events, I would never have qualified for a race. Don’t let anyone belittle your dreams. They are just jealous because they may not have dreams of their own.

Now go, rent that book and read it 🙂

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All quotes taken from Golf is Not a Game of Perfect, by Dr. Bob Rotella

Aquabike Training

I sat down to start my last project of the semester and somehow ended up on my wordpress site starting a blog post instead. What can I say? Apparently I have no self discipline when it comes to end-of-semester-powerpoints…Especially when they are about Nursing Leadership (yawn).

I figured I would blog about training, since I’m almost finished with my second full month of training after a four month swim/bike hiatus.It is hard to believe I started this blog about running and duathlons, and now it has turned into a blog about biking and swimming…How does that happen?

I can’t remember if I blogged about it, but I signed up for the Tupper Lake Tinman aquabike in June! I am overjoyed that I remembered some races have an aquabike option– which is awesome for people who cannot run. In fact, a fellow nurse is doing it too! I figured an aquabike would be good prep for my race in September, even if I am not running yet. Might as well focus on the sports I still can do, right? The event is composed of a 1.2 mile swim and then a 56 mile bike.* Woot woot! My racing life is not over just yet! It is crazy, but after IMLP last summer, those distances seem like a piece of cake.

Swimming

From the beginning of March when I started to swim and bike again, I’ve put in some major pool time (for me): swimming 3-4 times per week. To put it into perspective, 3-4 swims last year is what I would do in two or three weeks!

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I cannot believe I am going to say this, but I think not being able to run and focus on swimming has definitely changed my views of the sport. Truth be told, when I trained for my past two half IM’s and Ironman Lake Placid, I swam once *maybe* twice a week if I was feeling “inspired.” There were some weeks when I never swam at all. I thought that since I “was not a swimmer” I would never get better at it, and might as well focus on the run and biking. I was always reading how athletes should focus on their weak sports, but I never took on that mentality. Plus, being in the pool was a complete bore. I still have no idea how I was able to finish the 2.4 mile swim at LP only swimming once per week. My prior training methods should NOT be followed. Hah.

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All prepared for training!

After consistent swimming for the first time in my life (well, since I was maybe 10 years old) I actually see myself improving. Not only improving, but I’m pushing myself harder at the sport than I ever have, and pushing through my fears of swimming that still haunt me occasionally. I still basically have two swim speeds (fast and easy) and would love to learn how to do a kick turn, but I’m pretty excited about how far I have come from this point last year. Focusing on my weakness is slowly transforming it to a strength.

Training

Back to aquabike training. Training for this race is basically the same as training for a triathlon, minus the run. Part of me thought training for just two sports instead of three would be easier, but aquabike training is actually difficult. Part of the difficulty is probably due to the months I missed of all swimming/biking. The other difficulty is the fact I am trying to follow all the workouts the way they are meant to be, and pushing myself harder in my training than I did in prior years.

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A snapshot of last weeks training

My weeks are composed of 3-4 swims and 3-4 bikes, with a couple strength sessions thrown in,** and range from 6-9+hrs per week. Last week I swam more in one week than I ever have (totaling over 6 miles). I was looking back at my training for my first half IM and the hours I spent training for that race ranged were really not enough for that distance. Heck, for that half IM I went two months without swimming…No wonder it took me 55 minutes to complete the swim. Training sessions are short and focused, which I like. (In my opinion, there is no need to spend more than 2.5 hrs on an indoor trainer). There are still about two months before Tinman, but I am focused and dedicated to doing my best on this aquabike….Especially the swim portion!

I am SUPER excited that my doc gave me the go ahead to bike outside and not only on the trainer! I’ve missed riding up hills 😛 (No really, I’ve missed riding up hills! All about feeling the burn.) Being outside makes me feel like a human again.

Happy training everyone!

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“My attitude is if you push me towards a weakness, I will turn that weakness into a strength.”- Michael Jordan

* I also signed up for another aquabike later in July in the Hudson Valley! How could I not? I mean, without the running, it should be easier on my body…Right?!? 

**I went for a walk to see how my ankle and foot would do (lets be honest, it was a walk/slowwwww jog/walk/slowwwww jog) and the foot did not hurt! My leg muscles on the other hand felt as if I had just run a marathon. Baby steps! Shhh, don’t tell my doctor. 

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My $$$$$$ orthotics, the cure for my foot problems…Hopefully

Stages of a Trainer Session

Since the blistery cold weather has returned to us (or atleast is knocking on our door), my poor circulation has deemed it nearly impossible to ride outside anymore. Hence, the trainer is once again getting some love and attention.

 

I’m not sure about you, but I dread the trainer. I have written numerous posts about hating it. Yes, when I first bought mine years ago working nights, I was stoked to have it so I could ride at night in the dark. Now, though, I drag my feet walking upstairs to where I have my trainer parked. I know trainer sessions are an integral part of training for a triathlon, and I just have to buck up and do trainer workouts as planned. I’m simply not happy about them. I am not saying that they are easy workouts; I’m pretty sure I sweat more than an overweight man in a sauna when I am riding; and my heart rate is able to skyrocket in minutes. But, the simple fact I am riding so hard and so far and getting no where drives me nuts (like running on the dreadmill).

When I was finishing up my trainer workout the other day I came up with the emotional stages one might go through while on the trainer…And I have pictures that go along with the stages. (What else do you do when you are bored out of your mind than take incredibly awkward selfies of yourself looking horribly sweaty and disgusting?) Note: I am not one of those people who find it necessary to be caked in makeup whilst exercising. Infact, I am not one to feel it necessary to brush her hair before it, either.

Stage 1: The Warm Up

At this point, you have just started, warming up your legs, becoming adjusted to the bike

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“I’m just flipping through the songs on my iPod. Only 55 minutes to go”

 

Stage 2:  Boredom 

At this stage, you start looking at your surroundings, wishing you were somewhere else. Envy of people doing any activity other than riding on a trainer starts erupting.

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“Hmm, I wonder what is happening outside. Look at the snow; I could be skiing right now.”

 

Stage 3: The Pain

Whether it the big chainring on an incline or “speed ups,” you feel the pain in your legs, grit your teeth, and pedal pedal pedal.

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“Oh man oh man my legs my legs. THEYYYY BURRRRNNNNNN OMGGGGGGGG.”

Stage 4: Your Second Wind

Between sets, your heart rate comes down a bit, and the burning legs ceases.

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“Grrrr.F-ck the burn, I’ve got this. This is EASY! Eye of the tiger, baby, eye of the tiger. BRING IT!”

Stage 5: Depression and sadness

With more sets, and increasing leg burn, you become depressed and sad, questioning life and why you have to be on this stupid machine.

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“I never did anything to deserve this. All I want to do is be outside.”

Stage 6: Mental breakdown

At this point, the workout is almost done. Your legs feel like they are no longer a part of your body. You feel like giving up all together. Flashes of your life start flooding your brain. Your eyes well with tears from the pain.

 

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“Why me, God, why meeeee?”

Stage 7: The Finish

You’ve finished the cool-down; you have completed the workout. Life feels like it is full of rainbows and sunshine. Relief, happiness, and joy fill your body. It.Is.Done.

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“Pshh, that was easy.”

Happy Trainer-Riding!

Ending notes:

Yes, I realized that my earphones were all knotted up, but you can’t untangle headphones while in pain. I feel like Roseanne Roseannadanna pointing out that “little bead of sweat on her nose” when flipping through the photos. 

 

 

 

 

Life Lately

I thought it was about time to play catch-up on my blogging which has been lacking as of late.

Between full time work, training, and a “side business,” there is not a lot of down time nowadays to sit down and write.

The Patriot Half is in exactly one month from today.

How is training for that, you might ask?

I’m feeling mostly confident with the bike. My LSD rides have been up in the Catskills mainly, so I feel all the climbing will be to my benefit. I already know riding 50+ mile rides makes my 25mile ride this week feel like a walk in the park. I guess my perception of long distance rides has changed when training for this. I am more than thankful that the weather is turning nice and perhaps the wind might be calming down for awhile. 95% of my long rides have been in horribly windy conditions, testing me physically and psychologically. My coach told me riding in the wind was good because of exactly that: it prepares you for potential race day conditions.

Wouldn’t you know, last weekend’s Trooper Duathlon took place on a morning where the wind was fierce. So bad, they had to take down the race banner and tent because they kept blowing over. I remember asking myself why I was doing a duathlon in less than ideal conditions. I’m not sure what the answer is, maybe because I paid to race in it? It was the first time I have completed this race as an individual and not as part of a relay team since 2011. It was not as bad as I thought it would be. Having no expectations for yourself race day helps. I’m familiar with the race course, and racing up Dug Hill is always a pleasure.

From the Trooper Duathlon...Ohh how I long for a Tri bike....

From the Trooper Duathlon…Ohh how I long for a Tri bike….

 

Riding up Dug Hill pre-race might have paid off...

Riding up Dug Hill pre-race might have paid off…

 

Running has been good. I know I am capable of running a half marathon; I’ve already completed two this year. After swimming and biking? Yeah, I am pretty sure it is possible. A couple weeks ago I managed to get third place in my age group in the first Kingston Kiwanis Half Marathon in a town close to home. I never thought I was a good runner for some reason. I guess training is paying off?!? Despite starting at a wickedly early time (who starts a half marathon at 7am?!?) it was a nice race, mostly because I had people along the course whom I knew, and it was close enough for family/friends to come. We cannot forget that Meb Keflezighi was there too, which made the experience even more special.

My mom and my man came to support me :)

My mom and my man came to support me 🙂

Hanging out with my new bestie, Meb Keflezighi

Hanging out with my new bestie, Meb Keflezighi

 

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Swimming. Ah, swimming. Pool swims have been going well. I’ve seen myself improving. What about OWS you might ask? I tried on a new wet suit the other day and decided to go for a swim. Long story short, I am not sure if I will be doing this race in a wetsuit. I despise wetsuits. The panicked feelings of claustraphobia in one are not fun. It reminded me of the feelings from a couple years ago when I attempted Mooseman. I know they give you buoyancy while in the water, but is the added fear of not being able to breathe worth it in the end during the race? A difference in my training in open water and the race is, there will actually be people out in the water during the race who will be able to help me incase I have trouble swimming. Now, my swims in open water have been solo. So, why use a wetsuit? (Maybe any of you triathletes out there might be able to have an answer for this).

First OWS of 2014 at Onteora Lake

First OWS of 2014 at Onteora Lake

So, that has been my life as of late. I know the next couple weeks will fly by, and the Patriot Half will be here before I know it. I’m sure I’ll be posting before then 🙂

 

She’s Baaaaack

Wow, has it been over a month since I have written a post? It is crazy how fast time goes. I feel the older I get, the faster months fly by!

November was composed of mostly working, trying to overcome colds, with some runs and rides thrown in with the mix. The bad thing about being a nurse (or, any other employee who must work on Thanksgiving for that matter) is that you miss out on family gatherings. But, let me say despite missing out on the big turkey dinner (actually I did not miss the turkey, since I don’t eat turkey), I am thankful for getting to see a sister for a couple hours, thankful for my wonderful family, Kevin, and great friends, my health, and for where I am today.

Homemade noodle soup delivered to me by a special colleague

Homemade noodle soup delivered to me by a special colleague

Cleaning your bike and derailleur every ten minutes because of mud accumulation isn't too fun...

Cleaning your bike and derailleur every ten minutes because of mud accumulation isn’t too fun…

What I'm thankful for: reminders on my way to work not to sweat the small stuff

What I’m thankful for: reminders on my way to work not to sweat the small stuff

So, what is with the title?

I was lucky enough to have two Saturdays in a row off and was able to participate in two races, and I feel I am back and better than ever.

Last weekend, I ran my first 5k in three years, the Run Santa Run:Return of the Claus 5k. Since I do not really ever run for speed, I used it as a test to see how I could do in a 5k that was not at the end of a duathlon. To my surprise, I did not do too shabby. Thirteenth place out of 400+ runners, plus third female overall made for a happy end-of November. My personal photographer/ support team/ race day chauffeur, Kevin, tolerated my Christmas music in the car the hour + ride to the race to snatch a few pictures of the exciting day. Before the start of the race, there was a fitness instructor who led a “warm up.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that warming up before a race is actually beneficial (wait, did I just say that?!?). For running with a sinus infection,the race wasn’t that bad at all. I still enjoy longer distance races, however, as you do not have to run as fast (well, for your average runner you don’t…Just wait and I might change my mind when I decide I want to run a marathon in a certain time period).

Race day go boom

Race day go boom

Look Kevin! Aerobics at a race!!!

Kevin, do you see this?!? Aerobics at a race!!! (I’m the crazy one turning around)
Okay. Enough of organized pre-race aerobics

Okay. Enough of organized pre-race aerobics

Annnnd, we are off! If you can spot me, I'll pay you a million dollars.

Annnnd, we are off! If you can spot me, I’ll pay you a million dollars.

Today, I ran my first 5 mile race, and got to do it with friends of mine which was a true blessing. It was the MHRRC Knights of Columbus Holiday Run . We did have a threat of snow last night, and I was extremely glad that it did not snow so I could partake in the race. However, even if it did snow, I would still run…I mean, if one of my patients exclaimed, ” you can still run if it snows!” then, I can technically run in the snow. It is just slushier, that’s all.

I had no idea what the course was going to be like, and it did have it’s rolling terrain that I was not expecting. I went hoping I would finish in under 40 minutes, and I managed 36:46–another PR for 5 miles. Not only that, the only female who beat me is a professional duathlete on team USA (my role model). I was pretty stoked. Lets see how my legs feel tomorrow. I was also able to witness friends run their fastest five milers, too, which was even more exciting. It is such a wonderful feeling to see others accomplish something–and to see them happy.

Jen (a mountain biker-turned fellow duathlete- turned runner) close to the finish

Jen (a mountain biker-turned duathlete- turned runner) close to the finish

My first running trophy ever

My first running trophy ever

Cycling chicks turned runners (but still spend plenty of time with their bikes!)

Cycling chicks turned runners (but still spend plenty of time with their bikes!)

In other (exciting) news,  met with my coach last week and decided to face my fear of triathlons and fear of failure and sign up for another half IM distance race next spring! Is it weird that planning/ choosing races do to brings me joy and excitement? I picked a few other races to do before the Patriot Half–I plan on running the Shires of Vermont marathon again, as it was such a (shall I say fun?) lovely race….Well, it was fun when it was overwith 😉 My main concern regarding the Patriot Half is the swim; I went for a swim for the first time since I saw at Onteora Lake this past summer, and it was—ehh—embarrassing. (The last time I was in a pool was over a year ago!) I guess this past race season I spent more time on biking and running instead of swimming. Thankfully, I have a few months to gain back my courage with the swim portion of races.

In the non-athletic news, I’ve experimented with new cupcake recipes. Thank goodness other people like cupcakes, otherwise, I do not know what I would do with all the baked goods I bake. I was also blessed to help decorate more than one Christmas tree. (If you don’t know, I am a complete Christmas dork and love everything about the season!)

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Gingerbread latte cupcakes with lemon cream cheese buttercream and little gingerbread boys

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Mocha peppermint cupcakes with peppermint buttercream swirl

eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum buttercream...Good for warming your soul...I mean tummy

eggnog cupcakes with spiced rum buttercream…Good for warming your soul…I mean tummy

First attempt at homemade peppermint chocolate bark= a delicious success!

First attempt at homemade peppermint chocolate bark= a delicious success!

Kevin's tree--he chose for a snowflake to be the tree topper this year instead of a nutcracker.

Kevin’s tree–he chose for a snowflake to be the tree topper this year instead of a nutcracker.

My favorite snowman nurse

My favorite snowman nurse

The 2013 Geuss Christmas tree

The 2013 Geuss Christmas tree

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My 2013 Christmas tree!

I wish everyone a wonderful Holiday season!

Fall Foliage Half RR and Other Fall Ramblings

I know I said the last race I would be doing was the Adirondack Half, but, did you really believe me when I said that?

I had been scheming ways to get last Sunday off, as there was a half marathon to happen in my hometown, and I figured, there is no better location for a race than the town in which you live…And, even though the Adirondack half was my last scheduled race, there was still a part of me that wanted to do another one this fall. Thankfully I managed to get the whole weekend off, giving me the opportunity to partake in yet another half marathon in which I was unprepared for (as well as to spend time doing fall activities I’ve been wanting to do, like pumpkin picking!)

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Now that I think about it, I guess I was somewhat prepared for this one, as I ran a half marathon only a couple weeks before.

This is the second time I’ve run a race in my “hometown” (first being a 5k a couple years ago) and this half marathon had a great course, one which I’ve run a couple times before.

My only criticism of the race was packet pick-up. It was at Dutchess County Fairgrounds, and it took me walking up to four different fair entrances to get to. (There was another event happening that weekend, and no one at the entrances would let me get through to where I wanted to go…Even if packet pick up was less than 15 feet away!) Actually, my other criticism was that it was another late race start. What is wrong with having a race start early?The earlier you start, the earlier you are done. I guess others do not think the same way I do. 

Since I was not planning on doing the race until the day before, I did not really have a “time goal” in which to finish. Gauging from the Adirondack Half, and Lake George Half, and considering this course had some uphills, I decided to just go for anything under two hours.

Race day could not have been more perfect for a race. It was a clear, crisp, sunny, perfect autumn day. At the start of the run, I picked out another female runner who seemed to run at the same pace as I was, and decided to use her as my own (pretend) pacer. The first four miles of the race are pretty much down hill. Then the rolling hills start. It was nice knowing the course, and the “ups” and “downs” as I knew when to ease up and when to speed up.

Picture snapping mid race

Picture snapping mid race

At about mile seven, since I was still feeling okay, I decided, why not just push yourself? Other halves I’ve run to “finish” and, yes, I did push myself in those races. But, this race was in my territory. I couldn’t allow myself to run an easy race in my home town. So, I just went ahead and challenged myself. Maybe this is not a good race strategy, or maybe it is. I don’t know. I just wanted to see what I was capable of.  This meant I had to find another pacer to run with.

Which I did, and I have no idea how some people, who may not look fast, end up being really fast. (In case you were wondering, I figured out the reason why they are fast: they actually train. Duhhh.) 

I will admit, I did walk up the small “hill” at the mile eleven mark (on Mill Road if you are familiar with the area). Walking up was not part of the “race strategy” I created at mile seven, but I had to.

After “mini mini heart break hill on Mill” I started running again. When I looked down at my Garmin and realized I could finish in 1:50 (which would be my fastest half time yet), I decided to just go for it. Pain is only temporary, right?

Despite feeling like vomit was creeping its way up into my throat, and legs that felt like bricks,  I finished with a sprint and managed 1:50 (even though Strava said I finished it in 1:49). I think when the MC said, ” Here’s a fast finisher”…and then pronounced my name correctly (which never happens!), a smile might have crept across my face.

If you look really hard, you can see me.

If you look really hard, you can see me.

Thirsty much?

Thirsty much?

However, no smiles were caught on camera. But, I was really happy inside…Trust me. 5th in my age group, in a race I wasn’t even planning to do. Goes to show if you push yourself, you can surprise yourself.

I was happy, I swear.

I was happy, I swear.

Best tasting iced coffee. Ever.

Best tasting iced coffee. Ever.

Onto Other Fall Ramblings

Later that day, Kevin (who was able to go to a Fall Foliage even of his own) was a super trooper and allowed for me to drag him pumpkin picking. Have I mentioned how amazing he is to put up with my requests to do corny things? We came home with mini pumpkins, and more apples than I knew what to do with.

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion."-Henry D. Thoreau

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.”-Henry D. Thoreau

We found the really big pumpkins.

We found the really big pumpkins.

Just like last year's shot.

Annual picking shot

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There always needs to be a blooper picture

There always needs to be a blooper picture

I let the tree do most of the work...

I let the tree do most of the work…

And Fall Shots

Below are some reasons why I am so grateful to live where I do.  Photos taken on rides around the Hudson Valley. I’m most certainly thankful for the amazing fall weather we’ve had, and thankful to my legs for allowing me to put some major miles on my road bike these past couple months…

Somewhere in Columbia County

Somewhere in Columbia County

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Shokan (I think)

The Ashokan resevoir

The Ashokan resevoir

The Catskills

The Catskills

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Milan, NY

Milan, NY

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Our second annual Geuss Fall Foliage tour

Our second annual Geuss Fall Foliage tour

Kevin preparing for Cross

Kevin preparing for Cross

The Road Less Traveled

The Road Less Traveled

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New Paltz

New Paltz

Some climbing

Some climbing

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Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, NY

Love is when one person falls into stride with another.

Let’s Du This…Olympic Style

The lack of creativity in the title for this post may be due to recent lack of sleep, or due to the fact that, after writing about six duathlon races since beginning this blog, there simply comes a time when it can be hard to think of a fun title.

Last Sunday I took part in New York Triathlon Club’s Wheel and Heel Olypmic (distance) Duathlon. I participated in the W &H sprint duathlons twice, and was supposed to do this particular race last year, but from what I remember, I could not get anyone at work to switch a weekend with me. Bring on 2013 with new distance duathlons. Whereas a sprint duathlon is usually a 1 mile run, 14mile ride, 3.2mile run (some of the NYTRI sprints vary in their leg lengths), the olympic duathlon has a 5k run, a 40k bike , and a 10k mile run. (You math wizards out there will notice that is about 9.5miles of running total).

Just a tad bit longer.

I must admit, I had a lot of pre-race jitters before this race. I am not really sure why….I was not worried about the riding part. Dutchess County has given me a plethora of opportunities to work on riding up hills (and racing up them, too).  I was worried about the running. The last time I ran over 6.1 miles in one day was back in May, and that was for a marathon–slow, steady run. The Mad Dash killed my legs, and for six days prior to this race, I did not run whatsoever. Minus all the running around at work. I think another contributing factor to the pre-race jitters was the fact this would also be my first race being solo.*

Anyway, come race morning when the alarm went off, a part of me wanted to stay in bed and ignore the race. But, after some contemplating, I decided I would hate myself for not at least trying the race. I gulped some coffee and, I admit it, I did not give myself loads of la-de-daa time to get to the race.

My goal: to finish in under 3.5 hrs. No records needed to be broken, no muscles torn…Just attempt it. 30minutes for the 5k, 2 hrs for the bike, and one hour for the 10k.

My plan of race attack: Go out on the first 5k easy. Go out on the bike easy. Go out on the last 10k easy and walk if need be. 

What actually happened:

I got to the race with barely enough time to collect my bib, but did decide it might be smart, for this distance, to actually warm up and stretch.  (Yup, I just said I stretched. For reals.)

There was a fair number of racers, and the venue was quite serene: Lake Taghkanic is lovely. 

I set up my bike, and spoke with a few racers I’ve met at other races, or know from the non-racing world, and kept telling myself, “It’s just a long run and ride.” My main competition was an athlete (I can say that, because she truly is one) from up north who beat me in another race earlier this year. Mind you, she is almost twice my age,just competed in the International Duathlon Championships up in Ottawa, and has a tri-bike. Oh, she also was wearing a race kit from the championships. If you are thinking the same thing as I am, than yes, she is quite good at the sport. She also looks like a duathlete. Pshh, maybe next year I will just order a race kit to wear from the championships…It might help my race self-esteem 😉

The field of athletes doing the duathlon was quite small, and the first 5k was an out-and-back run through the state park. Rolling hills. I actually wore my garmin watch for the first time in about a year so I could keep track of my pace. Did I remember how to use the watch? Kind of, at least basics. I did not want to sprint to fast and have no energy for the rest of the race. Nine minute or so miles is what I was aiming for. I kept up with Ms. Championships the whole 5k, and felt good after the first run was over. The bike, ohh the bike portion. It was two loops around the park, and, I have come to the conclusion that in order for a race to be one of the New York Triathlon races, it must involve hills. Having not pre-ridden the course, I had no idea what the extent of the hills would be. Below is the image posted on the Facebook page of the race course….

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The elevation guide does not do it justice, and is actually a bit confusing.

On the second loop, I managed to find a gel (they are growing on me) which I do not think necessarily gave me energy physically, but mentally. Going up the same set of hills twice is just wrong in my book.

For some odd reason, I thought the 10k would be in the Park around the lake. That is what it looks like according to their website photo, right? Or, was it just me and my innate inability to read maps correctly?

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Well, the last three miles were in the park. The first four followed the bike course. Up the same hills. At this point, I was pretty fatigued, not going to lie. But, I kept thinking, “C’mon, you’ve ran marathons…you’ve climbed mountains…This, this is just another hilly run.” When my legs wanted to walk, I walked. When they felt good to run again, I ran. Once the course veered back into the park, I remember continuing to wonder when the finish would come.  Things people have said crossed my mind, “Go get em’ killer!” Finally, after what seems to be the longest 10k I have ever run/walked, I crossed the finish line. 3:02.

With tears in my eyes.

I do not know what brought the tears on. Maybe it was the fact I finished my first olympic distance race quicker than I thought I would. Maybe it was the fact that I finished, but had no one I knew there to give a sweaty, exhausted, thrilled-that-I-finished hug to.** Maybe it was because I finished my last duathlon of the season, and managed to pull off second overall in the Women’s duathlon. Who knows. I did have to pull some major self-control in order to keep the tears from continuing to stream down my face. You ever try to stop yourself from crying in public when your body is exhausted? It’s really hard to do, and I kept trying to cough in order to hide the fact I was crying, and then choked, which wasn’t helpful. Lake Taghkanic State Park  has a paved sidewalk along the beach near the parking lot which was perfect for cooling down and gaining composure.

After packing up all my gear and brining my bike back to my car, I headed to the post race food to score some free water and mini- cliff bars. On my way, I bumped into a fellow Fats in the Cats member who is also a duathlete/triathlete/runner. In her first olympic triathlon, she placed first in her age group. See? Mountain bikers are hardcore. We not only ride bikes over logs and roots, but can kick ass in the water and in a pair of running shoes.

Fats in the Cats!

Bev and I…Way to go fats!

God bless the volunteers along this race course. They were amazing. So so encouraging, especially the volunteers along the hills. I even got a smile and nod from a State Police officer when I said, “Hills are my favorite!” on the bike.

A huge thanks to the New York Triathlon Club for an incredible event, and awesome race season!

* Except for races back in college, I’ve been blessed to have friends or family either participate in a race with me, or at least be present at some stage of the race, even if it was only the end of the race.  I guess I got a little too used to this “luxury.”

**Don’t worry, I awkwardly gave that hug to a random other female duathlete who finished her first olympic duathlon that day.

***If you want to see the real elevation change, the link to my Strava activity is here. I am not tech savvy enough to get the “imbed link” to pop up on this blog.

My apologies for the lack of photos in this. Out of all the photos taken at the race, there failed to be just one caught of me. I think I searched through the events photos at least three times. Ohh well.  Win some, and lose some.

😉

“I Guess That Means We Can Start Running”

…Were the words  of another duathlete as a distant shot-gun went off at last Sunday’s Wheel and Heel Sprint Tri/Duathlon. I was at the front of the small pack of athletes eyeing my competition, wondering how we would know when to start running. *By competition, I mean others in my age group; specifically, one young woman who really concerned me from the start. I knew she was good just by the stretches she was doing pre race. Hardcore running stretches. At one point, she even had a roller and was rolling out her legs. My warm up, on the other hand, was merely a couple skips and play “air punching” with Kevin. I think I need to seriously reconsider how I stretch before races. For one thing, I’ll be bringing my own roller to my next race. Next minute, we were off.

I should get first place for most awkward photo...My concept of stretching before a race (sporting a new Mtn bike jersey)

First place for most awkward photo! This is my concept of stretching before a race

The 2013 Wheel and Heel Sprint Duathlon had a different course than last year’s event. Last year, the first mile sprint was up a nasty hill (almost like the Healthy Ulster duathlon in Ulster County). This year, organizers decided to be nice, and have runners go up a hill, only this time the hill was not as steep. Having hills at the start of a race is a theme for New York Triathlon events in the Hudson Valley.

My competition...She even looks fast.

My competition…She even looks fast.

Right away I knew the sprint would not be my best sprint as I felt that my legs were tight (probably because I didn’t roll them out first). But I did my best, and was able to complete it in under eight minutes. I continue to be awestruck by anyone who can run a sub seven minute mile.

The bike portion was not what I remembered it to be, in fact, I believe it is different than last years race.After about four miles, there were four miles of steady climbing. Throughout the climb, I was challenged by another duathlete who I’m guessing was double my age, in his orange jersey. He simply would not ease up and let me pass!  At different points, both of us would sprint ahead of one other, only to slow down again after burning legs (atleast on my part). Finally, I was able to pass him, but he did not make it easy. Psh, you thought I was competitive against women my age? Puh-lease. I’m more competitive against older men who aren’t even in my age/gender race category! Back to the course….It is not an easy sprint course.

Don't mind the triathlete running into transition...I know it is difficult to do

Don’t mind the triathlete running into transition…I know it is difficult to do

The problems of sunglasses: they can fall off your face easily

The problems of sunglasses: they can fall off your face easily

The last leg of the race was also shorter than last years by a mile. It started off similar to the sprint; you had to run up a hill right out of transition; and I will continue to blame my tired legs on the fact I did not roll them out pre-race.  I guess I have a way of showing the exact opposite of the exhaustion l felt by cracking jokes with each volunteer I passed…Perhaps some people would consider my jokes more like the crazy exclamations of a dreary, exhausted, semi-prepared-for-an-event participant. Knowing I was far behind Miss Intense Racer, I did not push myself as hard as I could, and walked (gasp!) some parts. We all have times when we have walked portions of a race, right?

Despite painfully exhausted limbs, I was able to finish four minutes slower than Miss Racer, and place third overall in the Women’s Duathlon. As I’ve mentioned before, in my opinion, the best part of a race is when you cross the finish line 🙂

I'd like to thank my mascot, a rubber chicken I found in my car, for my race success

I’d like to thank my mascot, a rubber chicken I found in my car, for my race success

A week after the race, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can still practice sprinting, and really should practice sprinting up hills if I wish to continue participating in New York Triathlon events. That would probably be to my benefit, don’t you think?

Other Thoughts

Last month, Fats in the Cats, a local mountain biking club, was looking for a new t-shirt design. As the weather was crappy for a couple days, I decided to dabble in t-shirt designing. I was under the impression I could draw something, scan it in, and submit it. But, they needed specific formats for the t-shirt submissions. Lo and behold, Adobe Illustrator has a trial free edition that I was able to download. Now, give me something medical, and I can probably do it. As for computers, I would consider my knowledge to be basic. I am no graphic artist by any means. I did fool around for a couple hours and figure out how to make lines and fonts, and submitted a design that ended up being chosen as one of the new t-shirts. A picture of my design is below. The other design is on the pint glass. Holy crap was his design freaking awesome. I may not be a computer graphics wizard, but I know super computer graphic skills when I see them. And that guy has some skill-z.

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Innocent little mountain bike rider

Enjoying a post-race beverage in a new club pint glass

Boom! Power to the pedal…Freaking amazing design.

And Even More of Molly’s Nonsense

If you are familiar with this blog, you may have race about my addiction to registering for races. Well, as of late I have been debating on doing another half marathon in September on one of the weekends I have off from work. (My other weekend off I am registered for an olympic duathlon…Now that will be a story in itself). I took my charge card from my wallet to register, and decided to “sleep on it.” The next morning, specifically the morning of the Wheel and Heel race, I could not find the card anywhere. Family members know the desperation I had in finding my card. Who knows where it disappeared to during the twelve hours it was not in my grasp. I came to the conclusion that the race gods, or perhaps it is the anti-race gods,were against my compulsive race-registering, therefore are to blame for my lost card. Since the episode, however, I do have a new card, and have signed up for the half….Not even anti-race gods can stop me.

 

30 before 30

I just came across this list I had started earlier this year (before my birthday in May) and decided to finish the list and post it. 🙂

Last year I thought about a list of things I would like to accomplish before my 30th birthday. I accomplished most, but many of the things I wanted to accomplish I simply forgot about :-/ As I am soon to turn 27, I decided to make another list–a more accieveable list, with more amount of time.  My priorities changed when I started working at my current place of employment, and I actually started exploring different avenues of life and living.

1. Complete another marathon.  Shires of Vermont Marathon on my 27th birthday!

2. Make homemade nut butter(s).  Have made almond butter and peanut butter.

3. Make my own milk (nut, oat, or other).

4. Compete in a mountain bike race.

5. Go vegan completely for one month.

6. Try vegan baking (eeek! Baking without real butter and eggs?) Done! Vegan and non-vegans have approved.

7.Take a yoga class.

8. Read a book in one month.

9. Try a new recipe at least once a week for a year (progress can be seen at my “That Vegan Girl In Sneakers” page)

10. Go on a weekend biking trip.

11. Bike 100miles a week. Done! The week of August 27th, 2013…Strava is the entity that knows I actually completed it!

12. Run 5 miles in 40 minutes or under. Done! Sept 2nd 2013 during the Mad Dash 10k…Read about it here!

13. Compete in all 4 New York State Triathlon Series events.

14. Go on an overnight hiking trip.

15. Run a 50k race, or try a half ironman again.

16. Host a dinner party, shower, or other fancy event.

17. Take a cooking class.

18. Submit my writing to a publication of some sort.

19. Refresh my climbing skills and take a rock climbing clinic.

20. Go on a spontaneous adventure.  I consider our trip to Canada a pretty spontaneous adventure.

21. Crochet a blanket.

22. Have someone take my photographs, naked, and not worry about my appearance, whether I am not in shape or not.

23. Go to New York City during Christmas time.

24. Throw away my scale.

25. Go to a broadway show.

26. Get new glasses.

27. Go back to school/apply for graduate school.

28. Take a stretching class

29. Move into a house with the love of my life.

30. Start my own business (whatever that may be).

Are there things that you would like to accomplish?

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