Monday, December 3, 2012

Fuel to the Fire

Wow, is it December?  Has it really been a month since I've updated the ol' blog?  Yes, and yes.  Wacky.  

It's been a really fantastic month, though.  All my races from the second half of the season, and in particular November, were getting progressively better.  Fitness, starts, smarts.  And also just a lot of fun, too, which is pretty important.  

I had a podium finish at Northeast Velo Cross, then a great ride to 4th place the next day at Shedd Park in Lowell.  Last weekend I had two very good rides at the final Verge series races in Sterling, and then on Saturday I had a great ride at NBX in Warwick.  Really, I've been feeling great about everything concerning cyclocross lately.  But I guess sometimes being happy doesn't drive you to be your best, sometimes angry can work a lot better.  Which is why I'm going to call my race yesterday, Sunday at NBX, one of the best things that can have happened to me.  Fuel to power me through the next month of training before nationals.  

I had a good start, awesome power, and was riding with a group of very strong, fast girls.  For a lap and a half.  Then I crashed.  I was going for it and overcooked a corner.  It wasn't bad, but I landed on my right knee and lost a little skin. Okay, that's OK.  Get up, get going.  I might have lost one place to that. Then I was rolling into the smaller of the two sand pits.  I got off my bike to run and got sort of stuck and fell onto my bike, hitting my right knee again.  That one actually hurt.  Okay, no problem, get up, get going.  I was caught by a couple people here, and went to go with them, and realized my right shoe had come loose.  When I'd fallen in the sand I'd hit the little quick-release button on the buckle and it loosened way off.  Rats.  If you've never tried it, I recommend against trying to buckle a shoe while pedaling.  It just makes you look like an idiot.  Anyway, I rode around with it loose for a lap and a half, which was super problematic in the long sand run, and finally stopped and tightened it.  Also I think I'd jammed some dirt in my shifter or something, so I made a couple trips through the pit.  We'd practiced our bike exchanges prior to the race, and we executed one really nice one and one that left a little something to be desired.  Anyway, I rolled through somewhere in the 20's and super, super pissed off about the whole thing.  It was the last UCI race of my season, and I was in a perfect position, with good legs, to prove to myself what I can do, and all I proved is that I can fall apart after a couple minor crashes.  Meh.  

But I'm going to let myself be angry, because it will motivate me for good races at nationals.  Ice Weasels is next weekend, but I don't want to be angry at Ice Weasels, I want to have fun and get in some fun times with my NECX crew.  

Anyway, unfortunate day 2 race aside, it was a truly fantastic weekend, following a stellar month, with my super teammates, and our super duper support crew and cheering squad.  Why does CX season have to go by so fast?!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A couple good ones...

Okay, everyone stop, something pretty amazing has happened.  I had Two Good Race Weekends . . . in a row.  That's right.  Two consecutive strong, positive weekends.  What the...?

The weekend before last I did a couple regional races - Canton Cup and Orchard Cross.  I podiumed at Canton with a 3rd place finish in a smaller field, and had a great race with some strong riders to finish 6th at Orchard.  Seriously, Orchard?  I had a great start (!!!) and hung with the super-strong leaders for a lap or so.  That is progress, right there.  

Then last weekend was the Cycle-Smart International in Northampton.  I just did one day there last year and I really liked the course.  It's a power course with roots.  I dunno, not super technical, but it works for me.  And some good fast turns.  I like fast turns.  Both days I started poorly.  More so on Saturday, but Sunday was no clinic on good starts, either.  Both days I worked my way up to my teammate Christina.  On Saturday we worked together, but probably didn't use our strength very efficiently because we ended up getting attacked and dropped by two girls that were sitting on while we were attacking from the front.  Rookie move.  But it's not very common in cyclocross to find yourself in a position where you can benefit from team tactics, and we clearly weren't thinking straight.  Ah well.  We resolved on Sunday to be smarter if we ended up together.  I had to do a lot more hard work to catch up to Christina on Sunday - I think she had a pretty good start - and by the time I got there I was sort of worked.  This time I was hoping to get to the front and block so she could attack, but I didn't have the legs to move up, and I eventually got dropped from her group.  I was able to hold off a group of 4-5 girls who'd caught up, though, so that was really cool.  Both days I had really strong final laps, which is also cool, and a good sign of fitness.  I keep thinking if I could just pull my head out of my ass at the starts my life would be so much easier.  

The quote of the weekend definitely comes from coach Larry, yelled at me while I was trying to recover from my poor start on Sunday.  "Stop being so nice to the other women!"  It was totally what I needed to hear.  One of the chase girls passed me at the run up and I totally chopped her in the next corner.  Nothing dangerous, but I stuck out my elbows and got mad and didn't give her any choice but to Get Out of My Way.  I'm going to write that on my stem: "Stop being so nice to the other women."  

In the end I finished 19th and 20th, respectively.  Two fairly solid races, I just need to improve by, oh, 10 places or so and I'll be rockin' in.  It was a fun weekend with teammates and Cody came along to cheer and be awesome.  

Yay, two good race weekend, moving up in the world!

And I made cyclingnews, and not just as a "Ladiesfirst rider," but as me.  


Monday, October 8, 2012


I didn’t write a report for Gloucester.  Which is weird, because, you know, it’s Gloucester.  But too much time has elapsed and I don’t think I can do it justice.  Suffice to say I had pretty mediocre to poor races, but I really think I had the most amazing cheering section of anyone out there.  It’s almost like I’m a . . . local. 

Moving on.

Can we have a Monday holiday after every double race weekend?  Because sitting around, drinking tea, interneting, and actually getting my muddy skinsuit washed in a timely fashion is pretty rad.  Cody’s working (poor guy), and the remainder of the household has traveled north to see the brand new baby-in-law (niece or granddaughter, depending on where you stand).  They invited me to go with them and I’m all, “Baby?  Uh, does it race CX yet?”  But I digress.

Last year I had two pretty abysmal days at Providence (abysmal even relative to my generally abysmal season).  It was hot, the course was sort of boring and had a lot of pavement, etc.  And I was slow and off the back and there was nowhere to hide.  Anyway, I was hoping, of course, to have more fun there this year. 

I had no goals or serious aspirations regarding either Gloucester or Providence, I wasn’t targeting them for good results.  The fields are nationals-caliber, I’d be starting in the back, and it’s still early.   I’m putting more focus in the Verge series, where the fields are smaller, are almost strictly New England (which is fast, but weeds out some Olympians, Euros, and other pros), and where I can get some top 10 results to move me up a few rows by the time we hit Nationals, with any luck.  Nonetheless, it’s good to feel fast and competitive, and after being off the back at Gloucester I wanted to be racing where I belonged at Providence.

Day 1.

It was hot and dry.  Damnit.  Despite years of living in Reno (which isn’t nearly as hot as most New Englanders suppose it to be) and racing in NorCal (which is much hotter than that same group suspect) I seem to do really terribly in the heat.  On Saturday I had a slow start, a pretty blazing first lap and a half, then sort of wilted in the heat.  I lost 2-3 spots as I tried to survive the last 2 laps, wishing with all my heart that I’d mounted a bottle cage to my CX bike.  Whatever.  I ended up 29th, so top 30!  Not bad, but nothing to get excited about. 

Then came the horrible aftermath.  I don’t think I ever wrote about what happened to me after the Willowdale MTB race in the spring, but I overheated and spent the next 12 hours on my back, unable to eat or drink, puking up anything I tried to put down.  Pretty much the same thing happened on Saturday afternoon.  We got to our hotel and checked in.  Or, Cody checked in and I laid across the front seats of the car and tried to keep my recovery drink down.  We finally got to the room and were supposed to meet up with the team for dinner, but I was in no condition to go anywhere so Cody got us some Italian takeout.  I managed a slice of bread and 2 bites of pasta with marinara, and a few sips of water.  Any motion out of the horizontal resulted in immediate regurgitation.  I’m sure I was delightful company.  After sleeping a couple hours I awoke at midnight with a raging headache but a subdued stomach, so I ate some more pasta.  In bed.  I’m a class act like that.  I also drank two glasses of water, which proved to be a vain attempt at hydration because I awoke the next morning with no relief from the headache. 

Day 2.

I told Cody, “I don’t know if I should race.  I didn’t eat anything, so I wasn’t able to replenish my glycogen, and I’m dehydrated and I feel like crap.”  He was all, “Shut up, we’re already down here, let’s get some food, and you’re going to race your bike.”  I’m paraphrasing.  Sort of.  The joke was that if I managed a decent race I would pioneer a new method of race preparation that involves fasting the night before the big event, and not eating after one.  Ha.  Ha. 

By the time we got to Panera for breakfast I was weak with hunger and about to murder a person for a pain au chocolat, but after stuffing myself with a breakfast sandwich and a pecan role, and OJ, and ibuprophen, I was feeling somewhat recovered. 

We went to the venue early to cheer for our friends in the amateur women’s field (right, cause everyone in the elite’s is pro?).  It wasn’t nearly as cool or wet out as I’d hoped, but I needn’t have feared as that would change later in the day. 

I got Cody to go pre-ride a couple laps with me – his first lap of a CX course!  Can we start a petition to get him to enter a race before the season is over?  Everyone wants to see him out there, right?  We’ll just have to make sure someone gives him a beer and/or bacon hand up.  Anyway, he’s got mad bike handling skills and is great at selecting lines so it was fun riding and talking through the course with him.  I felt alternately OK and awful, and really had no expectations for the race.

Just as we were sitting down on our trainers to warm up it started to sprinkle.  ‘Whoa.  This is going to change the course.  It is going to get slimy.’  Looking at the numbers on my power meter was making me sad, so I didn’t do much warm up and instead went out for a lap on the newly slicked up course.  It lived up to the expectation, but it was also super duper fun!

Fast forward . . . start of the race.  I’ll admit, I didn’t really “try” at the start of the race.  I settled into the back with no serious effort, which was sort of my strategy (start slow, and see if I can pick people off).  Given my lack of expectation it seemed like a good one.   The course started with a couple slimy turns, then there was an off camber straight away that was very slippery.  I was just planning on running it since I knew the first lap would be carnage.  I got off right before it and sure enough, there were 3 separate pile ups that I was able to trot around before jumping back on.  As I rode by the pit the first time I heard Cody say, “Yeah, great start, now start picking people off.”  Great start?  More like smart racing.  Good to finally put that stuff between my ears to use (apparently I haven’t huffed enough Vittoria Mastik glue this season…). 

Anyway, I actually was moving pretty good, and passed a couple more people before I bobbled a remount and hit the deck, with my leg wedged between my tire and my frame.  Seriously.  My right lower leg got stuck between my downtube and my front tire.  How the hell did that happen?  I can’t even recall how I bobbled the remount, I was just on the ground, stuck, laughing at myself, while 6-7 girls passed me.  Damn.  I had to laugh though, it was so ridiculous, and it took me a literal 30 seconds to disentangle myself.  Of all the stupid things. 

I passed a couple girls, and was riding pretty well.  Or, more accurately, running smartly.  There were some slippery sections where, if you rode them cleanly you were quick, but there was probably a 90% chance of sliding out on them, which made you slower than if you were running.  I just ran them.  It had worked at the start for me, so I figured it was a smart strategy.  And I didn’t lose any places from it. 

It’s sort of trite, but I wanted to mention that I tried to pass a girl, first lap, as we were passing the pit, and she tried to ride me into the course tape.  It was lame.  I passed her on the next straight away, then she passed me again on the pavement.  Then she crashed most spectacularly into the course tape, and I felt like, hey, maybe there’s such a thing as karma.  Cody says I should race like that, pushing people in to the tape and stuff, but when you’re fighting for 25th place on the first lap?  Really?  I think that’s a little inappropriate. 

Anyway, myself and probably 14 other girls ended up getting pulled one lap down.  Which I didn’t mind too much, because I was happy with my race and I got to watch the finish where my teammates rode to 4th and 7th.  I do feel the need to mention, however, that they did not placed the pulled riders correctly in the results.  They took down everyone’s numbers, but when the put them in the results they reversed them, so the first person to get pulled, who was in 26th, was listed as the last person to get pulled, in 42nd.  I was the second person pulled and I finished 27th, even though the results put me in 41st.  I sort of figure that if you get pulled you shouldn’t be complaining about the results, but I’m quite proud of that 27th place and I’m sort of embarrassed to be listed as coming in 3rd from last after I had a good race.  So for everyone reading this, I got 27th!  Now I’ll drop it. 

It was great to have a fun race after being so sure I was going to suck and quit.  I did fade in the last 2 laps, but given my poor nutrition the day before it’s pretty amazing to me that I had anything in the tank at all.  It was rad that Cody came down to the race and made me go race on Sunday, because it would have sucked if I’d just gone home.  Now I get a weekend off!  But you know what?  I don’t even want a weekend off!  I want to go race again!  That’s the sign of a good weekend, or at least, a good race.  Today’s supposed to be my rest day and all I want to do is go ride my bike!  But I have weird sore muscles and inexplicable bruises and an oddly sore left knee, so maybe rest is best.  Yay bike racing!  I really love this sport.  And you know what?  After Saturday’s race, when I was laying around feeling like death, I was thinking that maybe it’s just not for me.  Maybe I’ll never be successful.  Terrible thoughts.  But after yesterday, and a good race, and so much slippery fun?  I’m thinking I don’t care how long it takes, or how hard I have to work, I need to get to the front.  I want to be part of the action up there.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Catamount GP

Whoa, what a weekend.  Yesterday I was just too knackered and scattered to put down my thoughts, but I think with the added rest and a chance to reflect I'll be able to do it justice.

It began with a cheerful drive north with two of my lovely teammates, albeit arriving way past my bedtime.  We were able to sleep in a little the next day, however, so it wasn't too bad.  On Saturday morning I was able to go through my super-relaxing routine of toast and tea, followed by some more substantial breakfast.  It was rainy but the sky cleared as we drove out to Catamount in time to catch most of the women's 3/4 race.

A couple hours before the Elite Women's race I got out on the course for a lap.  Ouch.  I knew there would be climbing, but ouch.  The nice thing was the climbing was in two big chunks, which were followed by fun, fast descents.  There were two lung-busting sets of steps, and some nice fast barriers.  Despite the rain the night before the course was dry and dusty.  I felt good about my warm up, good about the course, and sort of bummed about my last row call up, but it was a position I could only improve upon.

My start was . . . uneven.  I got going all right, passed some people, and then seized up.  I suspect it's more mental than anything else, but as we hit the first grinding climb I found myself going backwards fast.  My legs came around, however, and I was able to pass some pretty big chunks of people within the first lap and a half.  Suddenly I heard people yelling at me, "10th place is right there!"  I dug, joined a group of 2-3 at one point who were fighting for 8th place.  In the end I ended up 10th, despite almost face planting the final time through the barriers.

I had a hard time believing it until I saw it printed in the results.  My first UCI top 10!  My first UCI point!  And the funny thing was, it wasn't any harder than being at the back was last year.  In the (paraphrased?) words of Greg LeMond, "It never hurts less, you just go faster."

The usual post-race recovery eating, spinning and rehashing commenced, followed by dinner at the condo and an early bedtime.  The next day we were up a bit earlier.  It was cold out!  37F isn't really that cold I suppose, except when you're coming off of a hot summer and haven't had time to adjust to the chill.  Again I arrived early enough to cheer for the 3/4 women.  When we got out on course it initially seemed like it might be easier than Saturday, as we really only had one sustained climb.  At race pace, however, the dirt mound you had to ride/run over, the BMX jump you had to ride up, and the incessant accelerations ended up being equally tough.

I had a 2nd row call up, and I positioned myself squarely behind Crystal Anthony, Saturday's winner and former LadiesFirst teammate.  And I had the Start Of My Life.  By the time we hit the first turn I was 4th wheel, behind Crystal, Sally Annis, and Mo.  I wish I could say that I held that position, but I wasn't aggressive enough in the turns, and I ended up having to do the same game of catch-up that I had the day before.  Between a couple strong ladies who hadn't raced on Saturday and not having the legs I had the day before, I only managed 15th.  In the money!  (Because, you know, women's cycling is all about the money....)

Anyway, I'm looking forward to putting more pieces of the puzzle down in the coming weeks.  If I'm successful it's because I have amazing support from my team, coach, our awesome race mechanic, and of course my friends and family, many of whom have no idea what a UCI point is but still get excited when I tell them I got one.


With my race wheels on my bike was ridiculously light.  Every time I had to lift it I wanted to smile.  That's never happened before!

Below you can see evidence of my fantastic start!

Sufferface.  This was nearing the top of the climb.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Green Mountains of Awesomeness

I can't even begin to write a race report right now.  I'm incredibly scattered and excited and my thoughts are going a million directions.  I'll have to save it for another day.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How Not to Race Cyclocross - Quad

After being sort-of sick last week, missing some workouts, and really hoping I wasn't going to get gnarly-sick for Green Mountain weekend, I wasn't even sure I was going to go race the season opener, Quad Cross, on Sunday.  I wasn't sure the night before, telling myself "If I wake up and I feel lousy I won't go."

Then when I woke up and felt pretty OK, telling myself, "I'll head down there and if I feel lousy I won't ride."

Then "I'll start my warm up and if I feel bad I won't race."

Finally, "I'll start the race and if I feel bad I won't finish."

No pressure.  Stay healthy.  It's too early in the season to get laid out with some stupid cold.

As it turned out I felt pretty good the whole time, maybe a little sluggish after the unplanned time off during the preceding week, but not a hacking, snotty mess as I'd feared.

How Not to Race Cross

#1:  I had the start of my life.  I was third wheel behind Mo and Ellen Noble.  And what did I do?   I panicked.  "Oh shit, I shouldn't be here, I'm going to slow someone down and ruin their race and I should just let them go by me."  Seriously.  A split second of meekness immediately followed by, "D'oh!  The whole damn field just passed me!  Move up!  Move up!"  Yeah....  I'm now working on "visualizing riding at the front."  Seriously, that was just ridiculous.  That

Anyway, I made some good passes and caught up to my teammate and was pretty happy to be on her wheel.  On the fast fireroad descent I was sitting near the back of the saddle powering in my big ring when, after hitting a bump, the nose of my saddle was pointing skyward.  Yes, my seat clamp was torqued to spec, it still slipped.  This was not my error, but it brings us to-

#2:  I had a pit bike, but it wasn't in the pit.  Sigh...  In all the happy NECX reunion gibber gabber I was like, "oh, pit bike?  It's fine right where it is."  On my car.  As I rode by the pit with my saddle in a most uncomfortable position I hollered at my teammate who had raced earlier, "CAN YOU GET MY PIT BIKE OFF MY CAR FOR ME?!"  What a doll, she not only had to run back to the parking area, but had to figure out which car was mine.  And she made it back with my bike within half lap so I could get it the next time through the pit.  Gold star.

Armed with my wonderfully flat-saddled bike, I started trying to make up the time I'd lost.  Unfortuantely . . .

#3:  I didn't check the tire pressure in my pit bike.  Right?  Right?  I think I had 20 PSI in there.  In clinchers.  For those not in the know, that's not enough.  Not only was I hitting the rim over ever root, I washed out in two corners.  I actually thought I had a flat, my tires were so soft.  Fortunately, the next time I went through the pit they had my A bike for me.  With the saddle leveled out, bless them.  I think I said something like, "Cool, 'cause I have a flat. Fun day!"  I was informed the next time through that I didn't have a flat, I'm just a bonehead.


With much encouragement from the ECV/Seaside/LadiesFirst crews, I worked my way back up to the spot behind my teammate, albeit 30 seconds back or so.

#4:  On the last lap, I pinch flatted.  Pretty darn far from the pits.  I was trying to maintain my position and I got sloppy over the roots.  I had to run/ride super slow around to the pit, get a wheel, and finish in not-quite-last (which is pretty remarkable given how slowly I was riding/running).

C'est la course.

The good news?  I am so jazzed on racing cyclocross.  I'm fit, and lean, and so totally in love with NECX.  It's going to be a fantastic season.

Here's a picture of my awesome start:!i=2078246864&k=tj5v6DV

And here's one of my saddle-nose pointing heavenward:!i=2078248358&k=R7cMJbm

And here's one of my dog telling me that flexibility is overrated.

Why is my yoga mat always so gritty?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Thoughts on Training

Tuesday is generally my favorite day of the week.  I take off Tuesday and Sunday from work, you see. Sundays are full of riding, society, and sometimes chores about the house.  Tuesdays are all mine.  I can sleep as late as I like (wow, 7:30!!!), sit in bed drinking coffee and catching up on the internet, and then go out for my ride whenever I feel like it.  It doesn't make me feel especially productive or industrious, but it is really good for general feelings of well-being.  Usually I spend some time in there cleaning the house or running errands, but I do them at my leisure, which is exactly how I like to take care of such things.

After three weeks of hard rides on my Tuesdays, I've earned a rest week and all I plan on doing on my bike today is an easy spin with some cyclocross drills (I seem to have misplaced my practice barrier so today's errands include a trip to the hardware store for PVC joints).  I'm pretty excited about a nice easy week on the bike, as are my legs, which are sort of aching as I'm just sitting here.  But it's that building-muscle-ache, so I think I'm doing something right.  We're 3.5 weeks out from the informal CX season opener, and I am so anxious to see how much the hard work will show in my results.  While I agree that hard training and dedication are a reward in themselves, let's be honest, this is about winning races. Or at least coming closer than before.

Saturdays are generally the hardest day I have.  I've been up at 5 so I can be on my bike at 6 and do a hard 2 hour ride before coming home and getting ready to work 9-5.  I realized this past Saturday that there is an added benefit to getting up at such an obscene hour on a weekend day.  It's as though my body is still so groggy for the first part of my ride that it doesn't register what it's being put through, and my head is so foggy that there are no intervening thoughts to distract me from the task at hand.   It makes those super long, tough intervals go by so easily.

On Sunday I went out for a long, solo ride on my cyclocross bike.  I rode pavement out to Appleton Farms, cut through on the double and singletrack that run through there, rode through Bradley Palmer State Park and hit some fantastic singletrack that runs along the edge there, and then rode through Willowdale, hitting most of the XC race course in there.  The roots were pretty wet and slick, and I wiped out on one section, causing a guy on a MTB to catch me.  He stopped to chat and said something to the effect of, "Oh, it's a little rocky for a CX bike in here."  At that very moment, Tim Johnson (multi-time CX national champion and North Shore resident) rode up on his CX bike.  He proceeded to compliment my choice of steed, note that we were running the same tires, and invite me to ride with him and his friend.  They were heading in the opposite direction as me so I declined, but it was sort of a neat encounter, as I've not been in the area long enough to be desensitized to running into national champions on the trails.  Anyway, I rode out to Linebrook Rd. on the other side of Willowdale and looped back home on the pavement.  It was such a fun ride, I really can't wait to do it again.

Anyway, now I suppose I ought to make my leisurely way out of bed and do some things.  'Til next time, here's another Europe pic.  It's me at the Eiffel Tower.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

All In

Whoa, long time without a blog post.  What have I been doing?  What haven't I been doing?

I did some more bike racing.  Didn't go too well, but it's cool.

I went to Europe for two weeks with my dad.  A week in Denmark,  a week in Paris.  It was indescribable.  I can't possibly write a blog post about it, seriously.  Maybe I'll post a couple pictures from time to time, but I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Came back, worked a bit, rode some.  My mom came out to visit me, and we're at the tail end of her visit.  Today we rode, then went for a sail.  I have a pretty spectacular sunburn.

That pretty much gets us caught up.

So what am I blogging about then?


Without getting into it too much, the time I spent in Europe opened my eyes to possibilities.  Endless, endless possibilities.  And I want to be free to explore those possibilities, without having any regrets.  Of all the things I anticipate regretting, top of the list would be never committing myself fully to racing my bike.  So this cyclocross season I'm going all in.  Okay, I'm still working 40 hours a week, but I'm approaching my training and my life with a level of serious commitment that I've never practiced.

How serious am I?  Pretty darn serious.  I'm not drinking alcohol until January 14th (the day after nationals).  I am, so far, 7 pounds lighter than I was when I got back from Europe.  I have done all the little extra things that make a better athlete - daily yoga, daily core strength exercises.  I have two gorgeous new bikes to race on.  I am on a fantastically supportive team.  I am going all in.

If I do something crazy next spring, like sail to the caribbean or ride around Europe (I'm not saying I will, I'm just saying anything is possible) I will have no regrets, no "what might have been" moments to look back on.

Okay, here's one Europe picture.  It's me and Napoleon.  Seriously.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Stages of Acceptance

Finally, several days after the fact, I'm writing about What Happened At Sterling.  It's taken me this long to process it and come to terms with, well, what happened.  

Basically, I got dropped on the first climb.  

Now, leading up to this race I was having some of the best training rides of my life, objectively.  My power numbers are higher than they've ever been, my nutrition has been excellent, and my life is very low in stress and high in quality sleep.  I spent the week leading up to it working on my mental preparation.  I have a beautiful new-ish bike that was functioning perfectly (well, until the flat tire, but that's actually pretty irrelevant), fantastic equipment, food, support, etc.  Shouldn't this equal improved results?  

This is how my emotions went during and after the event.

"I'm getting dropped."  - comic incredulity, in other words, disbelief.

To Cody, "I suck, I'm no good at this, I'm going to quit bike racing.  I'm a failure."  - bitter depression, obviously.  Give Cody a gold star for talking me down from the ledge, by the way.  Poor fella.

To my co-workers/family, "I don't want to talk about it."  - denial.  

And finally, "I understand what happened.  This is what I can do to not have that happen again."  - acceptance.

During my painful (Zone 5 interval) training ride today, I realized that I just totally choked.  My legs weren't so great, there were skinny people on the front making it hard, it was a steep hill.  I spent so much time mentally preparing for the race that instead of just riding intuitively and sticking on the wheel ahead of me, I started over thinking.  I got in my own way, stuck in my own head.  I want a do-over.  But there are no do-overs in life, just next time.  

I've got to go now, because Cody's coming home with baby ducks.  Seriously, guys, Baby.  Ducks.  Can we all agree that there's nothing cuter than a baby duck?  Of course we can.

By the way, I'm just joking about that whole stages of grieving shit, you know?  If the worst tragedy that happens to me is to get dropped in a bike race my life is pretty sweet.  

Seriously, there's going to be like, 6 of these at our house any minute now!!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Racing Bikes is Fun

I've been waiting to write a race report for this one because I was hoping someone would put up some sweet pics of me looking competent on my bike.  After several days and nothing surfacing I've decided I should just write the darn report already.

The night after Quabbin I had this recurring dream that I was riding in a pack and the girl in front of me slammed on her brakes.  I'd jerk awake, only to have the dream again (that's why I used the word "recurring").  Anyway, I thought maybe I'd have more fun racing in the dirt, so I opted out of Bennington and drove to RI for the Battle at Burlingame.  As additional incentive, I have a shiny new Trek Fuel EX.  It's a sick trail bike, and I have it set up stock with the huge 2.3 tires that came on it.  Perfect for the trail riding I do out here, not exactly an uphill speed-machine, though.  But the whole point of racing MTBs is to have fun, and that bike is wicked fun.

Wicked sexy, too.

Cody was off at Highlands DH park for opening weekend, so on Sunday morning I loaded up my dog and my bike and drove to Charleston, RI.  I pulled into Burlingame State Park and the attendant at the gate told me, "You can't bring a dog in here.  They were supposed to tell you."  Um.  Crap.  It's possible that "they" did tell me and I just didn't read the small print, but come on!  This is a MTB race.  Bikes, beer, dogs, right?  "But you can bring your dog in if you rent a camp site."  Oh.  Ok.  Well, I drove all this way.  And it was just $20, practically free by campground standard rates, these days.  Stressful decision making averted, I paid my fee and parked.

I got my number, suited up, and realized I'd forgotten my gloves.  S&^%!  It's OK, it'll be OK.  What's 27 miles of trails without gloves?   (Did I mention the race was 27.5 miles?  5 x 5.5 miles.  That's pretty darn long for a mountain bike race.  I cat'ed down and raced Expert, too.  The pros did 33.  F&^% that.).  Anyway, I headed out to warm up a bit.  I didn't have a ton of time, so I rode out on the course for a few minutes, then back.  I had about 40 oz of water in my hydration pack, 4 Gu shots, and some Chomps.  I had some nutrition issues at Quabbin, and I was determined not to let that happen today.

We lined up at the start.  All 2 of us.  Yes, 2 expert women in the 19-39 age range showed up.  We started chit chatting and she asked if I'd pre-ridden the course.  "Only the first part."  "Did you get to The Bridges?"  Um.  Bridges?  Maybe I should have gotten up earlier and gotten in a lap.  C'est la vie.  We were sent off last, at least 10 minutes behind the pro women (of whom there were 4).  Anyway, I let the other girl take the lead as she clearly had spent more time on course than me and I figured I could follow her lines.  There was one somewhat large log across the trail near the beginning, and we were both off our bikes running over it.  One super-smooth CX remount later, I realized I had a problem.  My saddle had slipped.  Ok.  It's OK.  It's not that bad, right?  I stayed with the other girl until we hit The Bridges.

I really should have pre-ridden.  They were wide bridges, but they had these steep little ramps leading up and down them, and between that was all wet roots and rocks.  And it was sort of a long section.  I only cleaned the whole thing once - on my final lap.  Anyway, since I was off my bike sucking at riding up these things I decided I might as well fix my seat height.  I still have the stock QR seatpost clamp on there, so at least I didn't need a tool.  Seat up, moving on.  By this point she was out of sight.  Okay, it's OK.  There's only 2 of you, the worst thing that can happen is 2nd place.  (I spend a lot of time telling myself things are going to be OK.)

The course was mostly fast, hard packed single and double track, with fast, not overly-steep climbs and some super fun railing descents.  But.  There was one section that was clearly freshly cut, and it had all the annoyingness of a freshly cut trail that isn't terribly well thought out  hasn't been ridden on much, until 200 bike racers try to ride it at speed.  It was sort of up and down, with rocks and roots and no flow at all.  It ended with a rock roller into a loose, rooty chute.  Wee.  Again, I only rode it completely cleanly on 1 out of 5 laps.  After that you had a super fast descent, two short steep climbs, and then a bunch of grinding back to the start/finish.

The Bad

  • I got 2nd.  Also, last.
  • I ran out of water on my last lap.
  • My seat slipped again.
  • I got lapped by a bunch of dudes.
The Good
  • I got 2nd!
  • I managed to keep my head when I ran out of water.  "It's OK.  You're going to be OK."  I was.
  • When I put my seat back up for a second time I tightened the clamp down more and it stayed there.
  • Those dudes that lapped me started at least 10 minutes ahead of me.
  • My bike is sick.  People would be catching me on the climbs and then we'd hit the fast descents and I'd totally gap them again.  2.3's might suck on the way up, but they're money on the way down.
  • I stayed positive the whole race.  After the first two laps I was like, "Really?  3 more of those?"  But I rode strong the whole time.  I was exhausted at the end, so I left it all out there, but even on the last lap I had some power in the legs.
Afterwards I decided to stick around for podiums since the race flier promised "merch" to the Expert women.  They finally did awards 40 minutes after the race finished, but just handed stuff out, not calling people onto the podium that was 5 feet away.  Whatevs.   But you know what I got?  A medal and a $15 gift certificate to NBX (it's a bike shop in RI).  Seriously?  I work at a bike shop, and I'm never going to be in Narragansett to redeem a gift certificate. I was pretty pissed off that I'd delayed my long drive home for that.  Oh well.  I'm not bagging on the race organizer, by the way.  Okay, maybe I am.  But the race was really well put on, it was a super fun course, and for the average person who lives in RI and doesn't work at shop that's a pretty killer prize.  


Hey race organizers!  Stop giving out medals!  Unless it's for a kids race or your event is called "The Olympics" it just ends up on a dusty shelf somewhere.  

Anyway, the good news is that without that medal I wouldn't be able to bring you this adorable photo of my dog.

But maybe the race organizers sensed my irritation, because they gave me the medal for 1st place.  

Now I can fool my friends and relatives into thinking I won.

Monday, April 30, 2012


I remember last year hearing about this non-USAC race, and people were going back and forth about why don't they make it USAC vs. why it's good that it's not.  I don't actually have an opinion on the subject, but the race in question was the Quabbin Reservoir Road Race.  I pre-reg'ed early because they threatened to cancel the women's field if it didn't look like there would be a very big field, so I was committed, more or less.  The preceding week my training was going really well.  Numbers-wise I was back to where I was before getting sick, and actually up a couple of watts.  That was really encouraging, and a relief to know my whole season wasn't going to be a game of catch-up.  

I got up early on Saturday morning for the 2+ hour drive to Ware, MA.  My googlemaps directions totally sucked and I got incredibly lost once I got off I-90.  Some guy in an Audi decided he was going to follow me - joke's on him, I had no idea where I was going.  Eventually I found my own way to get there, no thanks to my abysmal directions, and arrived with adequate time.  It was cold.  The race begins with a 3 mile gradual descent (that you then climb back up for the finish) and it was hard to dress properly knowing how chilly it was going to be on the way down.  I hear that last year it was raining, so it was nice that at least the sun was shining down on us.  

The majority of the 3000 feet of climbing on this course is in the first 34 of 65 miles.  The field was pretty large, and I haven't ridden in a large pack in almost two years.  I kept telling myself to relax and just work on positioning.  I didn't want to be last wheel when we hit some climbs and people started getting shelled. For the first 30 miles or so that worked out really well for me.  I was near the front and feeling very comfortable.  One girl was off the front but no one seemed very concerned because it was so early in the race and very windy out.  After about 30 miles we hit one longer climb and I started going backwards.  C'est la vie, it was nice while it lasted.  I ended up with a group of 5 girls who, well, I've never been stuck in a race with a group with such a poor grasp on how to organize a paceline.  Seriously.  One girl would get on the front and hammer her brains out, then yell at everyone else for not pulling through.  I decided someone needed to organize things a little and started giving directions.  "Okay, let's get a nice little paceline going and catch up to the pack!  Come on, nice short pulls and then move over and drop back so the next person can pull through!"  I moved over to let someone pull through and it was the girl who'd been dragging everyone else around.  I motioned her through and she yelled, "But I've been doing all the work!"  To which I responded, "It's OK, everyone's cool, just pull through and then get off the front and move to the back to recover.  Come on ladies, we need each other, let's work together and communicate nicely, OK?"  As everyone in the group started to organize we started making time on the pack.  We had to go through a caravan of non-race related vehicles to get up there which was wicked sketchy.  But, we caught the pack.  I told everyone "nice work!  Thanks for helping out!"  Sheesh.  Seriously, I don't mean to get negative here, but I know this wasn't anyone's first race or time riding in a group, you KNOW how to paceline.  And what's with all the angry people?  Maybe I've just been away from road racing for a while, but I don't remember my NCNCA peeps being so bitchy.  Whatevs.  

Anyway, we hadn't been back with the lead pack for very long before we hit another punchy little climb and I went backwards again.  Long and short of it is - I had 30 miles of awesome in my legs, not 65.  The second half of the race I spent working with a different, slightly more friendly and cooperative (although totally clueless on how to form a nice paceline) group of girls who'd gotten dropped well before me but worked together to catch me.  That is, until we hit the last climb and I went backwards, again.  

But I'd prefer not to think about limping across the line alone, off the back, but rather focus on the good.  I had a truly stellar first 30 miles.  My endurance apparently sucks, and I haven't gotten many long rides in since March, but I'm good for the short distance, which, really, is what's going to count come September.  And there's plenty of time for long rides as we ease into summer, here.  

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to follow up Saturday's sufferfest with a lovely Sunday that included mountain biking, sailing, napping, motorcycle rides, PBR, and ice cream.  

Anyway.  Happy Monday!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Busy busy!

It's sort of crazy how much less time I have for all the little things when my work schedule goes from 25 hrs a week to 40+ (full time at the shop and continuing with a couple personal training clients - to say nothing of the 12+ hours I should be spending on my bike).  But it's good.  I feel good about the change.  Working at the shop is fun.

Anyway, I am super pumped on life today because I had a fantastic ride yesterday.  It's the first time I've felt really strong since getting sick a month ago.  And the numbers backed me up - highest power output for the given workout to date!  It was one of those days that I had to drag myself out the door to ride, too. The winds were gusting, it wasn't particularly warm, and I was feeling sort of tired and blah.  So it was pretty cool to have such a great workout.  Positive Reinforcement.

This photo was actually from a week ago, when it was almost 90 degrees out and I stopped to soak my legs in the ocean on the way home.  When I miss the Sierra Nevada and Tahoe it helps to spend time on the ocean.  It's the only thing big enough out here to compare.  We went for a sail on Saturday night.  It was pretty cool, until it got dark and the wind sort of wasn't doing us any favors.  But it's such a contrast to sailing in the summer, where you've got dozens of powerboats zooming by, and you can't really stay out until past dark (it's sort of illegal), but harbor patrol isn't out yet, and it was so quiet.

Anywho, I have a race this weekend that I'm actually pretty excited for now that I've had a good, encouraging ride.  There's a huge women's field too, so yay bike racing!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Back at it

I had a good weekend.  It started with a fun party for Cody at the house that involved a game of glow-in-the-dark ultimate frisbee that was, I would venture to say, a spectacular success.  Especially since no one was seriously injured, which seemed like a very real possibility when you have 30 adults running around a dark field littered with hidden rocks, bushes and furry black dogs, and with nothing but a glowing dollar-store necklace to illuminate them.  Well, not quite.  I think our saving grace was the enormous full moon that actually lit up the field pretty well.  Anyway, glow-in-the-dark ultimate.  Awesome.  And it helped work out the rest of the crap left in my lungs from 2 weeks of sick.  And I made chili, that everyone seemed to enjoy, despite the fact that, uh, I just dumped everything in a big pot and cooked it for a day.  Master chef here.  Right.  Secret ingredients or something.  And cupcakes!
This was the tiramisu batch, which was probably the most photogenic, what with the marscapone/whipped cream topping.  Yeah, and sometimes I eat cupcakes full of wheat, sugar, and butter.  Yum.

Anyway, while the party was incredibly fun, by far the highlight of the weekend for me was getting out for 3 hours on my shiny new bike on Sunday, with some 3x8 LT intervals.  They hurt!*  I wanted to quit a thousand times, my HR was sky high and my power really dropped off by the last one, but I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in 2 weeks.  Physically, yes, but mostly it helped my head a ton.  Motivation, enthusiasm, morale, and overall cheerfulness have returned.  Excellent.  But I've decided to bail on Battenkill, since I feel like I need to regain any  lost fitness to jump into a race like that.  Instead I'll head down to Plymouth for the little Myles Standish State Forest Road Race.  It's shorter, and closer, and generally less demanding.  But I need to race my bike!

*I feel compelled to add that, yes, of course they always hurt, but aiming for the same power range I was training in 2 weeks ago, after 2 weeks of no intensity at all, was unusually, but unsurprisingly, difficult.  But my new bike is rad!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Food to the Next Level

I'm often accused of taking my nutrition "to the next level."  Or, as Cody says, "you're really picky."  It's not so much that I'm picky, but when it comes to cooking dinner I consider what I ate for breakfast and lunch and all my various snacks throughout the day and come up with something that's not redundent and fills any holes that I think I have in my daily nutrient intake.  It just makes sense to me.  Like, if a person (not me) had bacon and eggs for breakfast and some sort of pasta dish for lunch, you're not going to have a bacon quiche or pasta for dinner, right?  Am I right?  Well, that's how I look at it.  If my major protein during the day is soy, in the form of tofu, or a protein shake, I'm not going to have soy at dinner, much like the bacon thing (okay, I know there are lots of people who eat bacon more than once a day, that's cool, do what you want, but it doesn't work for me).  So when Cody says, "why don't we have veggie burritos for dinner?"  And I already had Mexican food inspired salad with black beans and avocado at lunch, I'm probably going to veto that.  And suffer the consequence of being labeled picky.  For the record, Cody understands why I make the choices I do, he's just pretty much given up on cooking for me.  That's cool, I like to cook, and I hate doing the dishes, so it's win-win. 

Anyway, at work I've been accused of "taking it to the next level" after drinking a green smoothie, kombucha (which like, everyone drinks), and fresh veggie juice. 

Cucumber, kale, carrot and beet.  Pretty much the elixer of life, as far as I'm concerned.

Even my uber-healthy marathon-running personal trainer extraordinaire friend told me that.  And my mom told me that my green juice "looks like snot."  Come on, lots of people drink beet juice!  Or maybe I just have an inordinant number of friends and acquaintances who are elite cyclists.

Anyway, after thinking I was so healthy on Monday, I woke up on Tuesday with what I can only assume was a sinus infection.  Another day Off The Bike.  WTF?  I followed my mother's advice and used my neti pot and breathed lots of hot steam and applied hot compresses.  This morning all that pressure is off my sinues, but all that stuff drained into my throat.  I am so over this sick crap.  And I'm especially pissed off that I've been taking such ridiculously good care of myself and yet not getting healthy. 

Fine, Immune System, we'll play it your way.  I'll do hard training rides with no leg warmers and no hat, and then when I get home I'll eat white flour and sugar, and follow it up with a drink of bourbon and then smoke a cigarette.  Fruits and vegetables?  Never heard of 'em.  Maybe after this you'll learn to appreciate how good you have it and start doing your f'in job. 

In an unrelated note, I love this post from one of my favorite bloggers.  The focus in the fitness industry on body image and not health is something I'm actually sort of happy to get away from.  I find it really frustrating to have clients who are totally healthy, have low body fat, and aren't happy because they don't look like someone in a fitness magazine.  Dude, stop.  When I tell them what they'd have to do to look like that they think I'm joking, then they notice I'm not laughing.  Right. 

Okay, I guess I should go do some work or something.  I've got wicked short-timers'.  1 more week! 

Monday, April 2, 2012

5 to go!

Yes, 5 more mornings of rising at 4 AM to open the stupid club.  Right.  Not to be overly dramatic, but I truly believe my life will be a lot better (not that it's bad right now, quite the opposite) when I'm not struggling to get my beauty sleep several days a week.  Say what you want about studies about sleep patterns and people who can function at a high level on 6 hours a night - if I'm not getting at least 8 I am not going to be at my best (that's putting it mildly...). 

Welp. I had the entirety of last week off the bike.  Yes.  The entire week.  It's like my immune system just totally quit on me. Pretty much total system failure.  I got out for 1.5 hours yesterday (it was lovely) and am feeling super pumped, and also apprehensive, about diving back into training this week.  What if I can't get through my intervals?  What if my power sucks?  What does this mean for Battenkill?  I found myself looking at the course map for Battenkill and the elevation profile and thinking, "If I can just make it until mile 45 or so when it looks like it really kicks up then I'll be happy."  First of all, it's impossible (for me, at least) to make any sort of realistic assessment of the course based on the profile and map.  And even more important than that, what the hell kind of set up for success is that?  No, really, what?  If a client, or a friend, or anyone for that matter started telling me that I'd tell them that they'd just lost the race before it even started.  So no more negative thoughts, Mar, got that?


Positive thinking.

Climbing strong, feeling light and fast and effortless.  I feel so good on my fancy new bike!

Confident on the descents.  Confident in the dirt.  My technical skills elevate me from a back-of-the-pack cat 2 to competitor.

Calm.  Relaxed.  Confident in my ability to read the race. 

Fun.  Bike racing is fun. 

Dude, I'm going to be so fast for CX season.  This time last year I was running lots and occasionally getting out on the bike.  This year I'm doing a big hard road race with the best on the east coast.  Money in the bank. 

There, better?

Much.  Actually, I really do feel a lot less anxious than before I typed that.

Regardless of result, I'm totally pumped to go race bikes again.  I'm happy to have two weeks of training to get back after being sick, and I'm so psyched to do some suffering tomorrow. 

Friday, March 30, 2012


Still sick.  Wahh.  But I'm being "patient" and letting myself "recover".  I guess I really did a number on my immune system.  Sorry 'bout that, Immune System.

Anyway, this is day 3 sitting at home slowly working through various house cleaning projects (if you can call doing one load of laundry a "project").  I did get out last night - I made Cody take me to see The Hunger Games.  It was rad-tast-some (rad+fantastic+awesome).  Cody thought they left out too many details from the book, but I was all, "Whatever, dude, if they included every damn detail the movie would be 10 hours long."  

Last night I made this for dinner:

Sorry, that's a really lousy picture.  It's a TLT (tofu, lettuce and tomato) sandwhich on GF bread with homemade kale chips.  I marinated slices of tofu in soy sauce, a touch of vegan worcestershire sauce, and a touch of liquid smoke, then fried until crispy in olive oil.  Except I ran out of propane before they really reached "crispy bacon" status.  Anyway, it was really good.  Bacon's a tough one, as a non-meat eater.  I don't have particularly strong bacon cravings, but there are some dishes that it's just so key in.  Like a BLT.  Or pasta with pesto.  I mean, bacon really makes that dish.  Or quiche.  Maybe today I'll try to make a totally vegan GF "bacon" spinach quiche.  Or . . . maybe some other time.  Anyway, I think the tofu I made last night was the best bacon substitute I've tried.  I've done the fake, pre-packaged stuff (bad, in so many ways), I've tried eggplant bacon from The PPK, and I've tried tempeh bacon, but none of them really did it for me.  But this tofu stuff came pretty darn close.

In similar, picky food preference news, I've decided to capitulate and make Cody's birthday ice cream cake full of gluten and sugar and eggs and stuff.  I mean, it's his birthday after all.  And if I made it all Marian-esque I'd end up eating like, half of it, instead of just a little bit.  Which would be unfortunate, because . . .  

I just pre-reg'd for Tour of the Battenkill.  Yeah.  It's in 2 weeks.  I realized something, right after I did that.  I haven't done a big road race since I crashed out of Cascade.  Um.  Uhh.  So I guess I need to do some heavy-duty positive visualization about riding in a pack on a fast descent.  And stuff.  Whatever, it'll be fun.  Guess I should buy my cycling license . . .


Well, I'm going to go back to being sick and staring at my 4+ loads of laundry that need to be done and thinking about recipes that I could try but probably won't.  

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

First World Problem: Boo hoo, I'm sick and can't ride my new bike.

So, on Friday I had food poisoning, which pretty much wrecked my weekend.  I mean, first of all, dealing with getting all the nastiness out of my system, then feeling the residual effects of losing 7 pounds of water weight and absorbing no nutrition for a day.  I missed my last day of hard intervals for March and my long ride.  That was really annoying.

Oh yeah, and it was cold.  Not unseasonably so, but I have to admit to being extremely spoiled by a couple days of 80+ degree temps.  Shorts and short sleeves.  My spandex tan, which had been but a happy memory, started to return (if you squinted at it, in the right light, or if you have a very active imagination).  We started working on getting the boat in the water.  Flowers were blooming.  And then . . . 50 degrees.  I know, HTFU, that's not cold.  But I really do love the heat.  90+?  I'll take it.

Okay, moving on.

On Monday my new bike came in!!!  

Sorry, that's not a very good picture.  Getting pumped to go race that thing, though!

Then on Tuesday I woke up with a sore throat.  Later that day I gave notice on my job at the gym.  Yeah, just bikes bikes bikes from here on out.  Bike fits, bike rides, bike coaching, talking about bikes, etc etc. 
Later in the day I started feeling pretty yucky and spent the whole evening trying to consume every food/vitamin/remedy I could to avoid coming down with what I knew I already had - the flu.  This morning, blech.  Not so good. 

What can I take from this?  That the sunshine turns me into an idiot, convincing me to do things like a hard 1 hr MTB after doing a really hard training ride.  And riding to a group ride that I should have driven to, so as not to get stuck out in the chilly air.  And finally, feeling totally lousy but making myself go do a hard workout anyway.  Lucky for me (um, what?!) the sunshine seems to have left us for the time being and my judgement seems to have returned in its wake.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Springtime in Bad Photography

Last tuesday I drove out to Fitchburg to ride up Wachusett a couple times.  Ouch.  People were trying to ski, which looked miserable.  Seriously, if something looks miserable to a person doing zone 4 hill intervals you know that it probably really sucks.  By contrast, I was wearing short sleeves, and after my ride I stepped into a pond to ice the legs.  Ice is right - that water was bitterly cold.  I pretty much just stayed in long enough to get a picture.  In retrospect it was probably frozen a week before.

On Saturday I made vegan Irish Cream.  It was delicious.  It had coconut milk, sugar, chocolate, coffee, and Jamesons.  Not sure how the name of that company made it through spell check - everyone know's you spell it Jamison.  (haha, right?  We all know that's a joke?)

 I did a hard ride on Saturday, and when I got home I cooked myself this amazing meal.  Salad, homemade Kale Chips (we've established how awesome my kale chips are, right?), and two soyrizo tacos with avocado and cabbage salad.  Holy crap that was good.

And then yesterday (Sunday) we got out for almost 4 hours in the dirt.  Did I mention Cody's home?  For good(ish)?  Yep.  Anyway, it was awesome, even though my legs were kind of ouchie from the training I've been doing.  But we rode in shorts and no-sleeves.  Love the dirt.

See?  No sleeves.  I've determined that if I were to open a paint store I would invent a color called "New England Pale" which is basically the color every pasty person like me turns through the colder months in the Northeast.  It's sort of sad and sickly looking.

Anyway, life is good.  Need more coffee.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Spring Forward

While I rejoiced in it staying light until 7 I've heard many people bemoaning having to get up an hour earlier, then this morning there was a Yahoo headline about how daylight savings time increases your risk of heart attack because you lose an hour of sleep.  Seriously?  Really, are you f'in kidding me?  In my experience  the vast majority of people don't get enough sleep because of lifestyle choices that don't prioritize rest, and experience poor sleep quality due to lack of physical activity and poor diet, yet something as simple as setting your clock forward is a "risk"?  Really?  What's wrong with people?  Of course then there was the "every 6 seconds a child is injured on stairs" headline this morning, too.  Come on folks, the world isn't that scary.  It's going to be OK.  We'll survive the time change, and with any luck our next trip to the second story.  Worry about climate change or losing your reproductive rights, not a time change and your children being exposed to stairs.

Sorry, I'm done now.

It's been a while since I last blogged because I'm pretty boring.  Also, I outlined a list of things I'd be doing while Cody was gone, and I'm sad to say I've failed miserably at being a social butterfly.  Flutterby. 

As for the rest of it, I've been riding lots and seeing definite improvement in my fitness.  That is really cool.  Sometimes you progress in baby steps that are hard to even notice, and sometimes you take these big ol' strides forward, and you add 20 watts in 3 weeks.  That's the best feeling ever.  It's supposed to be almost seventy degrees this week!!!!!!!!  I cannot possibly add enough exclamation points to that statement to convey my level of excitement.  Tomorrow I'm going to drive out to Fitchburg and do some intervals up Wachusett.  I haven't done a hill interval in a year and a half.  Are they as fun as I remember?  I'll let you know.

Hmm . . . what else?

Oh yeah, as probably anyone who reads this knows (because you saw my pics on FB) I went to Philly for a couple days last weekend.  It was pretty cool.  When I got back Cody's brother asked me, "Was it nice to be back in the city?"  I was really puzzled by that.  It took me a minute of. "Oh, um, no?  But, uh, back . . . in the city?" before I realized he was comparing Philly to Reno.  Like I'd feel like I was in Reno because I was in Philadelphia.  WHAT?!  There are what, just under half a million people in the greater Reno area?  And Philly proper has 1.5 million, and you're an hour from Washington DC, 2 hours from NYC, with lots and lots of people covering every mile of that.  I mean, really, in what world is hanging out in Reno like hanging out in Philadelphia?  Hilarious.  Living in Reno is a lot more like living in Gloucester than living in a truly big city, like Boston, Philly, NYC, etc. 

Cody came home from Philly on Friday, but he had to head back last night.  This is ridiculous.  I suggested that if I hit him in the kneecap with a tire iron, not too hard, just enough for a fractured patella, that they would let him stay home, but he declined my offer at this time.  Weird, right?  Anyway, we had a pretty mellow weekend.  On Saturday we went to a garage sale at this unbelievably huge, ostentatious house in Magnolia.  I got a - drumroll please - pasta maker!  "But Marian," you say, "you don't eat wheat!"  But this morning I found a pasta recipe that only uses water, flax meal, and garbanzo bean flour (my favorite GF flour)!!!!!!!  Yes.  More exclamation points.  And the best part?  It only set me back $5!!!!!!  So I'm going to make some vegan/GF pasta.  And it's going to be amazing.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Good Morning, Sunshine!

Somehow it's only Monday.  Not sure how that could be. 

Anyway, I've been super boring lately.  Like, really, really boring. 

I tried to buy Kraftwerk tickets (playing at MOMA in April) but failed, despite signing on to buy them 30 seconds after they went on sale.  No big surprise there, I guess.

Seriously, how mindblowingly awesome would that show have been?

I lost the only key we have for Cody's Jetta.  I was walking the dog at Stage Fort Park and thought it would be fun to scramble around on the slimy rocks (low tide).  I fell straight onto my ass and I think the key fell out of my pocket and into the ocean.  W.  T.  F.  No one but the VW dealership could code a new key for me (damn you, German engineering) so I had to have it towed to Danvers and get new keys ordered.  You know the little flippy, remote lock/unlock keys?  Yeah, don't lose those, they're $260 bucks.  Your typical coded Jetta key?  $70. 

We won't be remotely unlocking the Jetta anymore. 

Cody himself is still in Philly working a glamourous 58 hour night-shift work week.  If he doesn't come home this weekend I'll be taking Amtrak down there for a visit.  For his sake I hope he gets to come home (chances are slim, however) but I'm getting pretty amped at the idea of taking a little weekend vacation to some place I've never been.  I get sort of bummed if I go too long without a good road (rail?) trip, and I'm overdue.

Otherwise it's just business as usual, fitting my rides in around work and life and wishing it could be the other way around.  A friend poked me in the bicep on Friday and told me I was getting soft (I tried to start a fight with him for that comment, but he merely went on calmy with his conversation) so I'm prioritizing doing some upper-body and core work at the gym.  Or I did, yesterday, and today I think my triceps and deltoids are going to detach from their respective insertion points.  It's good.  When I start riding lots I get lazy about doing anything other the biking, a little core, and a few pushups.  It's bad news when my middle-aged detrained PT clients can bench press more than me.  No one will be poking me in the arm and calling me soft.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Some of you may remember last April when Cody was sent to Philadelphia to work on the Philly Museum of Art - I guess they're expanding it or something.  (This is usually where people ask, "what does he do?" to which I can only answered with a confused headshake "he's a hydrogeologist."  What does that have to do with an art museum in Philly?  You'll have to ask him.)  Well, yesterday he got word that he's headed back there for a couple weeks as the project comes to a close.  Oh yeah, and he's leaving today. 

At any rate, I'm flying solo for a couple weeks.  I'm not particularly prone to loneliness or boredom when I'm by myself, and my productivity tends to go way up when I'm not trying to accomodate another human being in my life.  Don't get me wrong - I'll miss Cody a ton, but that's different than being lonely because you're alone.  Here's what I'll have going on for the next couple weeks:
  • Work.  Yeah, some of that.  Getting a new project up and running. 
  • Riding bikes.  Week 2 of 2012 training and my legs are already feeling a bit ouchy.  That's rad.  Also rad is that I work in a place that I can foam roller myself when ever I want.  Yes.
  • All that off-the-bike training and recovery crap.  I'm not particularly good at that.  I'm working on getting better, but it's easier with fewer distractions.
  • Not cooking meat.  Several times a week I end up cooking 2 dinners - one veg for me, one with some kind of animal protein for Cody. 
  • Watching stupid movies.  Look, Cody thought that Bridesmaids was too much of a chick flick, how do you think he'd take to watching the new Twilight movie?  (Oh crap, did I just admit to watching Twilight?  Can I take it back?  Please?  F*%#.  Look, we all have things we're not proud of, quit acting all superior.)
  • Being social.  Last time Cody was gone I was a total hermit.  This time I'm going to get out, see people, be a normal person, lest he come home to something like this:

    Or maybe this:
Ugh.  Sorry about that. 

Anyway, in other, more savory news, Cody picked up take-out from the Organic Garden Cafe in Beverly last night.  I told him that all I wanted for Valentine's Day was dinner from a vegetarian restaurant, because there is hardly a restaurant in Gloucester that serves anything without meat in it.  The Squash Nutbutter Ravioli were amazing.  Cody picked up some of their kale chips, too, but I've gotta say, with no undo immodesty, that my own kale chips are superior.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


At the persuading of a friend, and because I like to work out, I went to CrossFit for the very first time last night.  I'd been meaning to check it out during my off-season, so I was running out of time to do so as I'm reincorporating intervals into my time on the bike.  It was FUN!  But it's definitely possible that I enjoyed it because it was running and deadlifts (core, lower body and cardio), and the upper body stuff (my weakest area, duh) was kept to a minimum.  But the fitness of many of the attendants was really impressive and the atmosphere was really fun and supportive.  I can see why people enjoy it, fo' shizzle.

I was talking to Cody about it last night and he was all, "duh, Marian, most people don't like doing 6 hour bike rides by themselves." so I guess it's good for my cycling fitness that I hold such misanthropic tendencies.   Anyway, I'm happy I checked it out and I plan on going back when the next off-season rolls around, or my racing/bike workload go down.

And in the CrossFit spirit, I was introduced to Go Kaleo yesterday.  This lady is incredibly healthy and fit on a vegan, plant based diet.  She incorporates some grains and legumes and soy, and tons of fruit, into her diet.  It's a great model of how I try to eat, and I find it really inspiring that she can maintain that level of fitness without meat or dairy.

But now it's time to go do intervals on my bike, and I'm glad for the sake of my legs that we didn't do a ton of squats last night.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


So yesterday I had to do a power test.  You know, baseline for the start of the season and all that.  8 minutes as hard as you can go, on the trainer.  Everything about it is pretty unpleasant. 

The process, for me, began with getting my road bike up and running.  I needed my big ring, otherwise I end up spun out on my trainer pretty fast.  An hour of work got it to the patented Marian "good enough" stage.  Bike set upon the trainer, big fan pointed right at my face, get-pumped playlist on, and I even ate a Gu shot.  Yeah, a Gu shot, not for a bike race.  For an hour on the trainer.  Blech.  Started warming up.  Heart rate isn't getting picked up by my computer.  Hmm...  needs a new battery?  I opened it up and, lo and behold, it had no battery in it.  Poached for some other bike-related computer electronic device?  Undoubtedly.  Cool, easy fix.  For once in my life I actually had a 2032 battery sitting around and didn't have to run out to buy one.  Okay, back on the bike, I started my warm-up.  After approximately 4 minutes of easy spinning there was a clunk noise followed by a whole lot of nasty metal-on-metal grinding.  My trainer, that has been slowly disintegrating for the past several years but I've put off replacing because riding-the-trainer-sucks-and-who-wants-to-drop-$200-on-that-shit-anyways, died.  RIP.  It's probably for the best.  But I still had a ride to do. 

So I loaded up the bike and drove to the shop to use the trainer sitting in the fit studio.  Their super nice fluid trainer is a lot nicer than my erstwhile Blackburn mag, and the resistance is high enough that I probably could have put off my morning of bike maintenance for another month.  C'est la vie.  At this point it had been 40 minutes since I'd eaten my Gu shot so I ate another Gu shot.  Yes.  2 in one non-race day.  What is wrong with me?!  Anyway, I've been off the coffee for a couple days now and both Gus had caffeine in them so my heart rate was instantly through the roof.  Long story short, I finished warm-up, buried myself in 8 minutes in hell, cooled down and went home to look at my power file. 

You know what's worse than all that stupid time-wasting crap that I went through to get those numbers?  Going through it all and having those numbers suck.  But that's bike racing.  Or training.  Or trainer power testing, at any rate. 

Sorry, that was 5 minutes of your life you'll probably never get back. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Totally (mostly) Super Sunday

Every couple months I decide that my coffee addiction is getting a little out of hand and I decide to phase it out of my routine for a week or so.  I tried last week, but things kind of got away from me.  So this morning I'm having black tea.  Tomorrow it'll be green tea.  Then, erm, maybe more green tea.  I mean, let's not go totally crazy here.  But it's tough.  All the black tea does is stave off the detox headache.  Seriously.

We kicked the weekend off getting drinks with friends (apparently it was everybody's birthday this weekend).  I have a fairly regular drinking schedule of 2 beers/month, so when I do drink I usually get something special.  I ended up with a 6 year aged Aventinus Wheat Doppelbock.  It was $12.00.  Seriously?  A $12.00 beer?  Yes.  Seriously.

Anyway, it was pretty good, but the wheat kind of messed up my stomach the next day.  I guess it also didn't help that I had whole wheat pasta for dinner, but still.  I guess the longer you go sans gluten the more you notice it when you have some. 

On Saturday, not to be deterred by wheaty stomach upset, we started the day off right with gluten free, vegan Chunky Monkey pancakes.  Oat and almond flour, chocolate chips, walnuts, and bananas.  It was amazing.  This was followed by a couple hours on the mountain bike.  I haven't been out on the trails much lately but my bike handling was dialed, which is a nice feeling.

On Saturday night there was yet another birthday related social gathering, but this one involved the burning of christmas trees and the roasting of meat.  If you've never been privy to such an event, let me offer some advice.  If in the event your flame-retardent treated Christmas tree does ignate (as it can and will, if given the right combination of fire and drunk people), I highly advise not breathing in the toxic blackened smoke that will almost certainly rise from it.  Anyway, I made it an early night because I had big plans for Sunday.

Anyone who races bike in California knows about Paskenta.  It's an unsupported century ride every Super Bowl Sunday that becomes a race for people going fast in February.  It's pretty flat.  I've done it a couple times with my dad.  Sometimes we hang with a group for a while, but mostly we just do it to log miles and enjoy the (usually) sunny weather.  Plus, the roads are usually pretty free from traffic as people get their pre-game on.  In the spirit of Paskenta I set out to do 100 miles before the Super Bowl (go Pats!).  I only got in 86, due to a late start, a couple wrong turns that cut off a few miles, and the fact that the high for the day was 39 degrees farenheit.  But it was sunny and virtually wind-free, and I had a great ride. 

This was my route:

FYI - Dunkin Donuts will make you a double expresso (ed. note:  I wrote this early in the morning on nothing but black tea - this is my excuse for spelling espresso eXpresso.  The reality is that I'm always correcting people when the say expresso, in the same way I correct them when they say nucular.  Now I've done it, in print no less, and I look like a jerk).  It's nothing special, but it gets the job done.  And it's a lot better than the drip coffee.  Pictured below in Haverhill.  I chased mine with a chocolate frosted donut and a croissant.  Not on the GF/Vegan/Bike Racer diet, but they got me all the way from Haverhill to West Gloucester, which was about 2.5 hours.  Also pictured, my Sierra Nevada Brewery water bottle, which is kind of like carrying a little piece of Paskenta with me.  Not pictured is my sweet Patriots sweat/snot absorbing wristband that Cody bought me when we saw the game in Foxboro.  It would seem that wiping my runny nose on it for 6 hours didn't actually help them win, despite all indications to the contrary.

A little bit of dirt.

Anyway, I got home, showered, shovelled food, and watched the game.  The second and third quarters were fantastic!  Uhh, probably the less said about the first and last the better.  Fortunately, as much as I enjoy cheering for the Patriots, my happiness does not depend upon their success.  Oddly enough, I had dreams all night about the game.  I find that odd, because I spent 6 hours on my bike before the game, so it semes like that would make a bigger impression upon my subconscious, but I guess not.

And now to proceed through the rest of this coffee-free morning.