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

A Newly- Turned 29 Year Old’s Thoughts on Training and Life

I’ve been meaning to write a blog post for awhile now, and figured today would be the day. The next couple of weeks will be slightly busier than before: starting a new job, taking a summer course, and then ofcourse the training for IMLP and Quassy. Between the last post and this one, I managed to turn one year older (gasp!); the last year being in my 20’s. It is actually a bit crazy to think that I started this blog back when I was merely a 24 1/2 year old. Seems like yesterday, and yet it seems like an eternity ago. Gone are the days of last-minute-sans-training marathons and races….

After a recovery week (which was very nice with less than 6 hrs of training) I finished up last week’s of training with gusto. Actually, I felt a bit discouraged after my bike ride/brick yesterday. It being a long weekend, I really wanted to complete a century. I mean, if other people were up at Lake Placid doing 100 mile rides, why couldn’t I? Not even half way through the ride, I lost momentum.Those thoughts of the training I have not done began to creep up and doubts of finishing this ironman erupted. I realized it was tough riding alone and all of a sudden I felt I was slower than other rides. I decided to turn around and stop after 80 miles. This is too difficult. I’ll never finish. If i cannot even complete 100 miles now I am doomed. Don’t get me wrong– I completed an even longer ride last Monday, which did not seem nearly as difficult as yesterdays ride, despite, in fact, being a tougher ride.

This morning I had the chance to speak with a great friend about my fears: that I will not finish the bike portion in time, that I have not been following my training plan to a “T,” that I have not been putting enough miles on the bike compared to others, that, that, that….

She reminded me to trust what I have done and what training really is about: conditioning the body to accept the punishment it will be getting on race day. It’s about building up what my body can handle. Furthermore, that my body will gladly accept it and perform for me. She reminded me I’ve been missing one key element during my training: adrenaline. That pre-race/mid race excitement that only occurs on race day and always seems to help me push forward, focus, and see what I am made of. And this is all true: there is nothing like the feeling you have on race day, especially with triathlons, since they are new types of races for me.

In retrospect, last week I put in more training in one week than I ever have before. I completed my first full IM distance swim, and completed the longest ride I’ve ever done. I’ve found when I listen to my body, I can indeed go further and farther. It’s funny how training for an ironman puts the lengths of rides and runs into a different perspective. I remember last year when I was training for the Patriot Half I thought anything under 30 miles on the bike was an easy day, or anything under an 8 mile run was short. A year later? Most of my runs are at least 10 miles, and rides under 50 are considered a “short spin.”

Today is a complete rest day– I am not doing any-thing. (I am not one of those people who must train 7 days a week– I value my rest days!!) And after last week, I am okay with it. I may not follow my coach’s plan to a “T,” but I always end up completing the total number of miles that were meant to be completed by the end of the week. I need to remind myself not to compare my training to the training of other people– everyone is different, with different physiological make-ups and commitments. I need to focus on what I have done thus far, and what I will continue to do to prepare for IMLP, so that I will be able to finish it. (Which is in 9 weeks, not that I am counting or anything :-O )

Huge important note to self: chamois cream is your friend.I guess you learn things the hard way….

Pictures from the last couple weeks (because pictures speak louder than words)

Training-related

My longest training ride last week, including getting lost with more climbing than planned...

My longest training ride last week, including getting lost with the longest climb I’ve done on a bike

IMG_7178

One of my favorite roads to climb is through Peekamoose in the Catskills, along which are a plethora of waterfalls. It’s simply gorgeous.

Note: the name of any road that includes

Note: the name of any road that includes “Hill” really does include a hill. (This is where a map or working internet connection may have been useful)

Destination ride

Rondout reservoir in Catskill Park

Post- 80 mile ride t-run (yes I am not the best selfie taker by any means)

Post- 80 mile ride t-run (yes I am not the best selfie taker by any means)

How I feel after a long training day...

How I feel after a long training day…

Foodie photos

(cause we all know I’m like a pregnant woman with the munchies)

Yummy meals!

Yummy meals!

...And more food!

…And more food!

The best raw-vegan cake I've made (Happy Birthday to me)--it is hard to believe it is actually healthy for you!

The best raw-vegan cake I’ve made (Happy Birthday to me)–it is hard to believe it is actually healthy for you!

My new addiction: water with mint and cucumber (and, I don't even like cucumber!)

My new addiction: water with mint and cucumber (and, I don’t even like cucumber!)

Non-Training

Good times with good friends

Good times with good friends

Wedding time! My man and I

Wedding time! My man and I

I love this guy.

I love this guy.

My beautiful cousin <3

My beautiful cousin ❤

Last Week’s Training Totals:

Running: 29miles

Swimming: 3.07miles

Biking: 164 miles 

= 19hrs 25 min 

Girrrrl…You Be Fine in Those….Pearl Izumis?!?

Nah, I’m only kidding.  It’s almost impossible to look good in padded, spandex shorts–unless you are one of those “less-than-3-percent-body-fat-getting-paid-to-ride-all-those-miles” athletes out there. Believe you me, if I was paid to bike, perhaps I would be able to model cycling gear. And, as much as I think I’m close to looking like the Assos™ model below, I’m further than looking that way in Pearl Izumis™ than circling the entire universe twenty times.

Do you think she rides? I mean, if she is modeling cycling bibs, she must.

Seriously, how often do you see riders strutin’ their stuff in cycling gear when off the bike? Usually, there is a mad dash to the baggy pants or shorts once a ride is over with (there are exceptions, of course…Races, mostly). Really. I’m starting to think that I should start downhill biking. Those riders have it figured out:

(1) The knee pads, elbow pads….Heck, full body armour. I could have used that on my fall fests mountain bike rides.

(2) Baggy baggy. No doubt, there are usually padded tighter garments underneath, but who knows? With the shorts, long jersey… you could be hiding all sorts of stuff under your clothes (not that I do that…But, if I were to, my wads of tissues and chap sticks wouldn’t be all over the place).

(3) You still get the thrill of riding, and keep all body parts nicely hidden and, well, hidden.

She’s got the idea.

The thought of how I must look was brought to my attention the other morning at 0430 when I was caught on the torture device–sweating more than the average person, in those great pearl izumis and sports top. I’ve mentioned it before: no one under any circumstance is allowed to see me on the indoor trainer. My man included. But alas, he did not know me when I first started riding indoors, and although we’ve joked about how one day, I will have my own “workout space,” he has never actually seen me in the act. And, he didn’t get the memo of “let the house burn down before you dare see me,” as I nearly died of a heart attack that morning when he appeared at my side. The blaring “Energy 52’s Cafe Del Mar” from my iPod silenced everything around me out; yes, that is what I listen to; hence not hearing him approach.

“WHAT THE–GO! YOU CAN’T SEE ME!” I screeched, ripping out my ear phones.

“I’ve never actually seen you on the TD.”* My man even calls the trainer the “torture device” now. I told him once I would get him one for Christmas, so he can ride inside like all the cool kids when it is super cold out, but his mental images of me falling off and how “dangerous they are” has him swearing never to get on one.

“Well, that is for a reason. Go…Run…Or something.” Yes, I’m Miss Pleasant Personality when on the trainer, even to those I love, ignoring his attempts to save himself with his, “but you look great” comments. Now, the Fox Racing™ downhill long-sleeve jersey and shorts will be worn while on the trainer.

Despite my unflattering, fashion backwards cycling-running-scrubs- or, everything in my ownership, Tom Ford and Óscar de la Renta would hail my amazing fashion sense as of late. Yup, I actually bought a real person shirt, grown up jeans…AND boots. All you fashionistas out there better watch your backs cause this girl does in fact know a thing or two about how to ‘work-itttt’ in kick-butt high-heeled boots and skinny jeans.** So, I might still have issues actually walking in the boots (going down stairs is a real kicker), but I have them to drool over. Furthermore, the sneakers and new carbon cycling shoes I acquired the same time as my amazing shopping spree might just get more wear and tear than the boots…Pshh, minor details.

**Somehow, wearing tight jeans is okay compared to tight padded athletic leggings, especially in boots you can’t walk in.

Riding High and Riding Low

Working as a nurse, or in any profession where you are scheduled to work every other weekend, one tends to savor the weekends they do have off. Of course, being the person I am, I decided to go to work on Saturday (they were short staffed) missing what might have been one of the most gorgeous autumn days we have had to date. I recall seeing a fellow colleague who rides and having a short conversation about how devestating it was being inside with the perfect riding conditions just outside.

Yes, the weekend was cut short, but I was able to bring X on my northern Dutchess County/ Southern Columbia County folliage tour (or as I call it “foilage”) the next day as we had planned on doing the day before when I chose to go to work instead (smacking my forehead). Ok, I promise, these are the last photos of trees for this season. The weather was not as amazing as the day before, but it was still enjoyable. And, I need to give my riding companion credit for taking some of the photos. Obviously, the tour guide cannot do everything. 

Sheep

Nourishment is key on long rides. One whole serving of fruit in this.*Note: the caps are a hazard to children under three.

Sometimes the tour guide gets a little lost….

…And you cannot forget the mountain biking, which I definitely feel I am improving at. I (for the second or third time since “the incident”) made it over bridges that I have a fear of biking over. I was on cloud nine at the fact my tires moved swiftly over the bridges, effortlessly. I was so excited at the fact that afterwards, continuing on my route, I ran straight into a tree and fell. I guess with the “biking highs” come the “biking lows.”

I’m pretty sure another key point of mountain biking is actually trusting the bike. Like when you rock climb, to trust your feet. For heavens sake Mols, your mountain bike has FULL suspension! I realized that having a death grip on the bars makes it harder for the bike to move the way it wants to move. And the less control you attempt to have over the bike, the easier it is to actually move over obstacles.

My ultimate riding motivator at Jockey Hill

Someone created something new at Ferncliff

Mountain Biking Bliss

Part Two: Baking/Cooking

In an attempt to continue on my “Fall baking challenge” I have succeeded in creating a couple more fall-themed baked items, they are not, however, on the list I mentioned in one of my posts.

Yesterday after the realization I had forgotten my muffin tin that I needed in order to bake the maple cupcakes I had planned on, and frantically searching X’s cupboards for a baking dish of any kind, I decided to bake a maple cake with maple frosting instead. This cake recipe has real maple syrup in both the cake mix and frosting versus other recipes I found which used maple flavoring.

During the kitchen raid, I proceeded to find a handheld mixer which, I swear, is some sort of psychotic mixer whose slowest speed caused a hurricane of butter and sugar to splatter the walls of X’s kitchen.

As some of you may know, I dislike cakes and cupcakes. But if you like pancakes, this is the cake for you (thank you to The Baker’s Daughter website for the recipe). The aroma of maple pancakes filled the kitchen after I took the finished product out of the oven. I was caught in the act of frosting the cake–the part of cake decorating I am still working on.

Yup, frosting the cake.

Maple Cake, with Maple Buttercream drizzled with maple syrup

The finished product was, if I may say so myself, pretty incredible. And, if one of X’s co-workers shows up with some of the cake in his mouth saying, “Your girlfriend is a keeper,” than I guess it really was a good recipe.

Lastly, I need to tell the world that there are a couple food items my man can make which are drool-worthy (the pita chips for one, that I mentioned in a previous post). The other is guac (which I might have mentioned, but actually have a photo), home made pizza, and his grilled cheese sandwiches are pretty hard to beat. But, I did manage to make my first quesadilla ever, and think it turned out well (okay okay, make-shift quesadilla…more like a grilled cheese in-between two tortillas).

Perfect post-47mile ride snack for X

And now, X’s creations….

PS. For the record, let it be known to the world that for the first time in months, I got dressed up in something other than scrubs or athletic attire for a “night out on the town.” At 6:30pm after dinner, exhausted, I kept asking X how long we had to wait until it was “socially acceptable” to go out on a Saturday night–knowing that usually I’m in bed by 9pm now a days (complete opposite of years in the past, huh?) anything later than 8pm causes me internal stress…Okay, slight exaggeration. Anywho, going out, blow drying my hair, and “dressing up” is such a rarity, not only X is surprised, but, apparently, family members are as well: “So, I guess Mol cleans up pretty nicely, doesn’t she?”

After an Attack by a Dog…

….I realized my fear of dogs chasing me while biking is a valid fear to have.

However, dear readers, this is not about the dog attack. But, before I do start, do not fret; the bite did not break skin, incase you were worried. It did “freak me out,” and, increase my speed. It has always been something that has caused my heart rate to increase: when a dog starts to chase you on a bike. I’ve heard of it happening to other people, but never to me. I guess I can now say that it has, indeed happened to me.

I thought, as I sit here waiting for my homemade pita chips to cook in the oven at 1am (something my man has always made…watch me, and I will probably screw it up), I thought I would continue this post I began before work. And  as a warning, if you are someone who hates trees, or leaves, or nature, you might want to stop reading this now–although there is more than just photos in this post.

Knowing the weather later today would be rainy, I decided to wake up early and get a road ride in before work–mostly because I wanted to document how amazingly stunning it is in Dutchess County at this time of year. And, after todays ride (and a recent mountain bike ride), I think I am gaining the strength I lost from Lymes back, which is awesome. I plan tri training sometime in the near future, once work settles down and I don’t work an insane amount.*Note: since writing this, I have signed up for some running races on my weekends off! 🙂 **Second note: going for a 30 mile road ride before working a 9hr shift where you are on your feet for about 98% of those 9 hrs with no breaks whatsoever, isn’t the best idea in the world. Ohh how I love nursing.

View from Ferncliff fire tower

Onteora Lake in the fall….

As for the baking, I did manage to make cinnamon buns with maple frosting, however forgot to add the yeast (perhaps a sign I’ve been working too much?), but was successful at making one of my recipe goals: homemade pumpkin pop tarts, which are pictured below, before I added a glaze. They were delicious.  I am pretty sure once (1) my schedule settles down and (2) the weather turns horrible, my baking will increase.

Mmmmmm

In addition, I made caramel marbled apple bundt cake which turned out as shown below:

It looked good in the pan…Not so appealing on the ground

Yes, I dropped in on the ground. Kitchen mishap. Major bummer, because it smelled delicious. Probably  would have tasted yummy, too.

Alas, the pita chips are finished, and it’s time to get some food…I hope this finds you happy, healthy, and well!

To the One I Love

Dearest X,

As the blogging world knows you as “X” or “K” or “The Man,” to me, you will, and always will be, mine.

I know that life has brought its challenges, to both with you and me. And I apologize for those long awkward silences in cars whilst you would drive when I  would attempt to keep the tears streaming from behind my glasses a secret from you, in fear that you would judge me….Or judge my ability to be that strong independent girl who always kept it together. And this kind of scares me, because it has never happened before.For the 26 years I have never had to hide myself from another being– lest alone, an amazing one at that.

 

For years I have spent protecting myself from love–from the possibility of a man loving me. Furthermore  after different times of heatbreak…ones which I feel happened right after the other, I gave up on the possibility of love.

But you, Kevin, are different from all those other men who’ve caused me heartbreak and anguish.

Kevin, (and yes I am referring to you by your real name…let the blogging world know), I love you.

This past year as we’ve grown to know each other as people, I grew to know a man who is honest, sincere, accepting, and loving. It doesn’t matter whether or not I still cannot ride over certain obstacles—you merely stop and tell me it is okay if I cannot ride over–that it is difficult–that one day I will to make it …

We’ve shared numerous bike rides of different kinds, experimented with new dishes, gone cross country skiing, fished in the back yard pond, taken a couple road trips, gone for evening walks after dinner, or simply gone for walks, picking out the houses in a different life we would want. We swam at Lake Onteora for the first time together with high hopes the rope swing would be there, only to find it was no longer there.

I apologize for those nights after work, or me working 12+ hours away, not coming home to meals specially prepared by you, because you already  knew I would be an emotional rollercoaster by the time i got home.

You kill or trap spiders on my walls for me, listen to me rant, and never complain. You tell me, whether or not my day at work was shitty– that I am still an amazing nurse….If one batch of cookies comes out bad, I always have another time to make them,

And despite the person inside me who wants to be perfect at anything I do, I do know that it takes time to navigate the perfect line on a bunch of crooked rocks in order to ” flow over them whenever I  ease,” while on a mountain bike, and a long life ahead of me to do athletic events that I want.

You know me better than anyone–you know exactly what I am thinking, and are definitely the voice of reason between us, i.e. when I was sick from Lyme you told me not to do a race I  really wanted to do, knowing that if I did attempt it, I would not get the result I wanted, leaving me with a heavy heart….Which is exactly what would have happened.

One day, I promise, I will be able to ride over those ridges with ease; without you having to wait for me.  I will finish the line; I will finish my baked good or what have you. I will finish it, with a smile on my face, and you to thanks.

 

And, the thing is, whether you gave me a hug or made dinner for me–the moment you held me in your arms I knew I was safe and loved, and everything would be okay.And after one full year…

Kevin, I love you.

Pure and simple. You are the man who has saved me from my fears, taught me to face my fears and have  loved me unconditionally. And for that, I love you, X, “the Man,” or for the first time ever spoken, Kevin.My best friend,and teacher.

Love, Me

 

 

26, Already?

It seems like only yesterday I was turning a year older. But now  I can already feel my body aching when I wake up, people need to speak up, and my tricepts are flabby–getting up and down stairs is a chore–and this all happened overnight between turning 25 and 26 (that’s all a joke btw, except for body aching).

I must say I haven’t really had a birthday “celebration” in awhile–last year I had a raging fever and strep throat. Other years I have been working. So, since this has been the most memorable one, it deserves a post.

Last night out as a 25 year old with El Presidente

My friend and I decided to go on a 50 mile bike ride (well I decided to, since I need to train, and invited him to go along. I must admit it was a leisurly ride through the catskills with lots of picture taking stops. K is in much better shape then me, and kept me going when on my own I’d be left behind (I did let him go ahead and crush hills.)

New Haircut! Bangs bangs bangs

Before we left, we had a fuel filled breakfast, and I was greeted by homemade suprises!

Le chef

starting on Dug Hill

Thumbs up for 28A

Ashokan Resevoir

A fuzzy “26”

K. checkin it out.

Ewwww bug

Jumped over the fence–for a justifiable birthday pose.

zooming along

Yup, let’s see those guns.Show off.

The start of taking my hands off the handle bars

Almost!

Now when I win races, I’ll be able to look like a pro.

He takes more photos than I do!!!

Not expecting a photo to be taken….As if I could duck out of sight in that location….

Infront of a fountain. See, wasn’t lying when I said we had a lot of photos

going to go up soon

Maybe be I’ll do some hiking in my road riding shoes.

Made it- despite some slipping off slippery rocks…where were my mtn bike shoes when I needed them?

Then the fun happened….We found free stuff on the side of the road

Our rides

Ouuu! Free stuff!

Readjusting

We did have little free space to carry the goods between us, so I decided to empty my water bladder in my camel bak to make things fit. I was determined. Who needs water with 20 more miles to go?pshh.

Three good tuberware safely and finally fit

Our loot we lugged back! Go team M-K!

Our route is the below link. After the ride, a trip to my favorite restaurant, Santa Fe in Tivoli, and homemade apple pie–K remembered I hate cake 🙂

50 mile birthday ride

New, more bad-ass Luxembourg jersey!

26-er Apple Pie

And ofcourse, I make K get up at 4am to go see the sunrise at Ferncliff forest 🙂

Waiting

Sunrise!

Thank you, KJY, for the best birthday day.

Du Fast, Du Furious

Du Fast Du Furious

NYTRI

I cannot believe it’s already been a year since I raced in the 8th Annual Trooper Duathlon, which you can read about here, organized by the NYS Troopers, as well as the New York Triathlon Organization, which organizes similar sprint duathlins and triathlons in the Hudson Valley. It was the same course as last year – a 2-mile sprint run, followed by a 14-mile bike ride, and then a 2-mile sprint run.

However, this race was different than last years in that I was part of a relay team. I decided to do the relay with a friend of mine, SB, who did the running, while I did the biking. We were the Valley Girls. Might I add, the t-shirts we designed received a lot of praise around the course. All of the duathlons I have competed individually in. Being a part of a team added an extra element of possible complications, esp. with the handing off of the timing chip with each transition. My race day jitters were higher than normal, since in this race, I was a member of a team, so I had to work hard to not let the Valley Girls down. I think my jitters were shared by my partner. Normally, I’d warm up and run and then have the bike ride, so my legs would be warmed up. Only doing the bike portion was a little trickier since there was a delay from when the timer started, and when you biked. I should have brought my trainer with me….And a TT bike.

Showing how to warm up

Pre-race massage is what should be required at races. Don’t worry, they know each other.

BB transitioning, biking, and finishing the race strong.

BB did an awesome job considering he was basically on his feet most of the day before with the Fats in the Cats Annual Bike Swap. I am envious at both his run time and bike time. He was only 20 sec away from placing third in his category. Next year, BB, next year.

SB doing her part for the team, also finishing strong to bring in our first place!

Steph started the sprints and finished the sprints (both two miles each) strong–leading us to first place. She was consistent with her running, and, apparently, ran a quicker pace than she normally does–managing about an 8 min/min pace!

Zooming by

I cannot really remember the bike portion of the course form last year, or how I did, but this course is basically rolling hills that lead to the bottom of Dug Hill road–a hill that can make a grown man cry. It is a hill that messes with your soul and emotions. It is 4 miles– and the last 4 miles of the bike course. It goes up and up. Then, it has small sections of “flat” which are deceiving because just around the corner you’ll have a steep incline, and other steep incline. I did have a better time than last year, yet my thighs still burned (I definitely need to work on sprinting, and climbing–long road rides are good for Timberman training, but the sprinting is good for smaller distance triathlons or duathlons).

Race in Progress

Cheering on my partner at the finish line

Valley Girls post race–still strong. Let’s do another one!

The post-race refreshments were not your average bagels and bananas. The Troopers had a full BBQ with salads and ziti. I was stoked at the chocolate milk that they had. We all stayed for the award ceremony.

Valley Girls get First place!

I don’t know why I was slouching…Taken before we had to give the plaques back, because they were the plaques for the Co-Ed Relay Team. At least we got a picture. There will need to be a celebratory dinner when our real plaques come in.

SB and BB, what a great team in real life

My best supporter and me

All in all, it was a well organized race. Thank you, NYTRI.ORG, especially the NY State Troopers and those who have been lost doing their job. Another thank you to the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department and Ulster Police for keeping the roads safe for riders along the course, and to all the EMT’s, dedicating their time incase something happened to a participant. All of your services are greatly appreciated. Thank you, again. And a special thanks to K for taking all the photos 🙂

9th Annual Trooper Duathlon
co. of NYTri.org

Something New, Something Tri-ed

I was supposed to write this post yesterday….And, really, had no excuse not to write it, since it was rainy and yucky outside all day. I know we need the rain, but after being incredibly happy with the gorgeous weather we had last week and all the rides and runs (oops okay, run) I was able to go on, having grey, gloomy, rain and wind is simply not my cup of tea. By the way, like my play on words in the title there?

Training

Yes, last week we had amazing weather. And I was able to enjoy almost all of it. I stuck to the triathlon training plan posted last week except for the speed run work out and one swim workout. I still cannot get over the fact that I simply dislike swimming. Especially in pools. Ohh lake water, when will you be warm enough so that I can swim in you and not get hypothermia? I did some more mountain bike rides thrown into the bunch as well, since I need to get somewhat better by June 10th when my first ever mountain bike race is (that has a cave….a cave…darkness…scared? Slightly). I still fall, but not as much, at least I don’t think.

Fur Ball getting her tan on

I actually found some new routes around my neck of the woods for road rides which was awesome; and found roads which should not be ridden on a road bike. **Note: if a sign says “Uneven, Unpaved Road Ahead,” they ain’t lyin’.

Catskills in the background

What I consider my artsy shot

I also learned (even though I am a nurse and know SO much better than to do this, I do) that water and gu (ewwww I hate gu) do not really help you when heat stroke strikes. Yes, I decided to get my long ride over and done with last monday–ohh, and also decided it would be a good idea to go for 60 miles instead of the 45 scheduled– on the hottest day this year. You know, at noon when it’s ninety degrees outside. STUPID STUPID. Don’t do it. Just DON’T. Despite the consequences of my ride, I did get one good picture in, which is below.

Side of a barn in the middle of fields

My IT band injury/hip/knee problem seems to be okay, and I was able to go for a run last week–it took longer than I have ever run in my life, but I had no problems afterwards. Not that you really care about that. On that note, I was recently introduced to Strava™. Have you heard of it? It’s this program that records your rides/runs/routes, kind of like a Garmin watch, but you can compare yourself to other people who have ridden/run the same route, and see who is fastest. Perfect discovery for the non-competitive over the top competitive person I can be. Usually, though, the competitiveness was just during races. But now with Strava™….

My first duathlon is this upcoming Saturday. I’m not quite sure how I’m feeling. Well, truth be told, I’m fine about the biking, just terrified of the running. I know the course–it is nice and flat–and in my old ‘hood, so we shall see how that goes, and how my hip and knee will like my sprinting (insert terrified face here).

The Saturday after (I cannot believe racing season is here already!), I’m doing the Trooper Biathlon which I did last year (if you are bored you can read about it here). It is actually a duathlon–run then bike then run). But this year, I decided to do it as a team–I will do the biking, and she will do the running. Perfect! We are actually trying to think of team names for ourselves, so if you have any ideas, feel free to give your suggestions.

Strawberry Cake Pops

Back in February it was my friend’s birthday, and I wanted to bake her a surprise birthday cake. I did most of it, but something came up and couldn’t make it. So, two months later, I decided to finally bake a cake for her. Well, cake pops to be more precise. I also made cake balls, as I soon tired of making the cake pops. I didn’t make ordinary pops either. I made strawberry cake pops. If you want to see how I make my basic cake pops, I wrote a post about it here.  I’m still new with the whole cake pop making thing, so they aren’t perfect.

Ingredients

  • Red Velvet cake with Cream Cheese frosting
  • Haribo sour straws (green colored–cut into 1/4 inch pieces)
  • Green, red, and multi-colored candy coating
  • Sprinkles
  • Sugar pearls
Flowers
First, I made the flower tops for the strawberries. To do that, I melted green candy coating in a candy piping bag until it was melted enough to use, and piped flowers onto grease proof paper. It took a couple tried before I actually got the look I was aiming for, so in the picture, that is why you might see loads of flowers. I piped the outline of the flower first, then filled it in.

Ingredients, and melted candy coating in piping bag

Once the flowers were dry, which doesn’t take long at all, I removed them from the grease proof paper and turned them onto the other side, which was completely smooth. I then piped a dot of green onto the middle of the flower and placed a sour straw and let them dry.

Before....After

I know they aren’t perfect…As I said before, it’s still a learn-as-you-go-trial-and-error baking craft
Cake Pops

I actually made the cake in advance and froze it then defrosted it, which came out fine–I’ve never frozen a cake before so was slightly concerned about that at first. Anyway, I formed the cake balls in the normal fashion, but for the strawberries, shaped them into rounded cones (thank you, Bakerella–I still strive to have my cake pops look as good as yours).

After freezing, I dipped them into the red candy coating and immediately added sugar pearls. After they dried, I added the top “flower” by adding a touch of red coloring as glue. Then, for the first time, I actually put the pops in styrofoam to dry, which is SO much easier, and sturdier, to keep them from tipping over, than an egg craton that I used in the past. Although, a flower holder (which is in the picture below) works well, too. It is important to refrigerate the pops afterwards, because of the cream cheese frosting….And, so that they do not melt.

Before entering the fridge

Since my friend likes to plant, I decided to display the cake pops in a terra-cotta planter that she could re-use later.

End result

And, to be somewhat crafty, I individually wrapped the cake balls (made out of the same Red Velvet cake) into a box. For the cake balls, right after I dipped them in coating, I sprinkled the toppings on top.

Now, I’m off to the dreaded pool to show off my lovely bruised and scratched legs, thanks to you, mountain biking.

Back to Tri’s

I feel like it’s been forever since I have written about some sort of training, and, indeed, it has. Creating Cake Pops, trying new foods, fevers, building a bike, and attempting to get my cat Lucky to accept my newly adopted kitten Fur Ball (well, she’s about a year old, still a kitten in my eyes) has been taking me away from training. I’m not saying I’ve been inactive. But it’s February already–can you believe it–and time to settle down and get back on track.

Meet Fur Ball, the newest addition to the family (and no, for the first time, the newest addition is actually NOT a bike!)

Yesterday we were blessed with almost- mid 50 degree weather–in February! Last year at this time we were still up to our knees in snow. I’m happy with such forgiving nice weather, but it does kind of inhibit my use of my new cross country skis. Anyway, even though according to my plan for the week, my longer ride isn’t scheduled until Saturday (with a transition to run afterwards), I had to take advantage of the blue sky and went for an amazing ride on some roads I’ve actually never been on.

Just a heads up: If a sign on a road warns that the surface is uneven, for once road authorities are not lying. Despite the warning sign, I did decide to take a road that had a surface which was rideable, and it was gorgeous. Upon stopping to take the photo below, and wipe my non-stop dripping nose on the sleeve of my jacket, I noticed someone driving in an old red Kawasaki tractor from behind the farm close to where I was standing. As the farmer drove up to me, I put my phone back in my pocket and started to clip in. Then, he stopped next to me with a huge toothless grin. I noticed an old Border Collie in the back of the truck next to a well-used wooden cane.

“You okay?” He asked, cheerfully.

“Oh, yeah, I’m fine, thanks.”

He nodded to my bike, “you broken? I have tools if you need help.”

I think my heart melted inside. It is rare to meet genuinely sweet people in this world full of  greed–where people only think of themselves.

“No, no, it’s not broken, I was just taking a break. Cute dog!”

“Okay then, you drive safe,” the farmer nodded and smiled with his toothless grin and drove off, the border collie taking in the scene. I could not help but feel a grin appear across my face and thought of the farmer’s words for me to “drive” safe on my bike.

My almost-40 mile loop through Dutchess County

Our interaction may have lasted less than two minutes, but it reminded me that not everyone out there is a self-centered human being—something which I worry about when I see a lot of people nowadays who could care less about other people. It made me happy.

View from Odak Farm Road

The 40 (well, 39.98)mile ride was awesome, and it felt wonderful to be in the sun, even though some little things somewhat annoyed me (i.e. the odometer on my bike wasn’t working, not was my HR monitor). Today’s plan is a long run, and depending on the weather later, I might take my Contessa out for a spin.

Goals for 2012 Race Season (yes, I said race season)

  • Compete in a mountain bike race (meaning I need to get over my fear of going fast through trees) without killing myself
  • Finish a road (bike) race–nothing to insane
  • Finish an actual triathlon (not a duathlon)–to be more specific, finish Timberman
  • Finish a half marathon (totally do-able, since I ran 14 miles for “fun” a couple weeks ago)
  • Work on race nutrition (so I don’t “bonk” on long rides/runs)
  • Biggest goal: not compare myself to other people training for race

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
Mark Twain

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