Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking back, looking ahead

Well it's almost the end of 2012, so I thought I'd do a year in review post, and put some words to what I hope to accomplish in 2013. I can't believe it - this year has flown by! I guess that's a sign that I was having fun. Since my sports career took a turn this year, this entry, like the year, will be a little bit different. I thought I'd structure it with a few lists. I hope you enjoy!

Top Three Sports Moments of 2012 - Banzo Edition
1. Winning my first two bike races, both in solo breakaways. There is nothing like winning a race.
2. Joining my awesome new cycling team, Asphalt Green. What a fun, strong group of girls. And some excellent riding, with nice views.

3. Even though I didn't train for tris this year, I would put REV3 Maine in my top three sports moments - in spite of my lack of training, I was able to place third in my age group (second if you remove overall placers), in a pretty non-awful time. If I had actually swum in the six months prior to the race, who knows, I probably could have broken 5 hours!

Top Three Non-Sports Moments of 2012
1. My one year anniversary of moving to New York. I must admit, moving to New York was not my least impulsive decision ever. That could have not ended well. However, when I hit the one year milestone, I gave myself a big pat on the back for doing it. I love it here so much and I'm grateful every day that I get to live here, and have a life here.
2. My little sister Kelsey's wedding. There was family drama involved, but when isn't there?! How cute are they!!!

3. Getting it done in my career. Towards the end of the year I had to make a major job decision and I think I did well.  It's hard to know when you're making a decision based on the right factors. I frankly never do. But in my opinion, the most important thing to do is make the decision, and move forward with purpose.

Top Three Sports Goals - 2013
1. Get my Cat 3 Upgrade. I am so close - I just need one more win or a few decent places. This is so crazy to me. When I did my first bike race in 2011, I thought there was no way I could ever be a Cat 3 cyclist. And look at where I am now! I really can't wait.
2. Participate in a tri or two with actual swimming involved in the preparation to see how I can do. I am so fit on the bike now, and my running injuries from last year seem to be mostly behind me, so I think I could actually do fairly well.
3. This is a big one - but I want to make a strong push to get on the podium at GMSR. Although I couldn't have been happier to go to my sister's wedding, I missed this race in 2012 and I cannot wait to try it next year. It's probably my number one A race right now. The only thing that makes me sad is that I'll probably have to do some crits to get ready. Meh.

Top Three Non-Sports Goals for 2013
1. Be a better person every day. Who doesn't have this goal? I guess people who don't care, I don't know. It should be second nature, but I want to write it down and think about it with purpose every day.
2. Be Type A in the best possible way. As anyone who knows me know, I am a classic Type A Personality. I don't want to just do things - I want to do the BEST things, ALL the time!!! I want to continue to do this the right way, not in a douchey competitive way, but in a positive, affirming way. I want to crush anything I set my mind to in 2013. This picture reminds me of my goals - it's at the base of the big Bear Mountain climb. Whenever I see it, I think about attacking that climb.

3. Continue to work towards having a healthy, mindful relationship with food. I have always struggled with this and I made a conscious decision late in 2012 that it was time to focus on this and put some real energy into addressing it. I think I've made a ton of progress so far and I hope to get to a really good place in 2013. I think I can do it - and I think achieving this goal will help me accomplish the things I want in the sports area too.

Have you thought about your year? What are you proud of? What are you going to achieve in 2013? Something awesome I think. I'm sending positive energy into the universe for me and for all of my friends and family.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I went to Spain, and all you got was this lousy blog post

HAHAHA I suck at bringing back souvenirs. But I know my mom would want me to write a blog post and share some pictures from my trip to Barcelona last weekend, so ask and you shall receive!

Left on Thursday after a nice warm-ish ride for a red-eye. Luckily I had booked my ticket in first with miles. It was the type of seats that lay down completely so I think I slept for five of the seven hours I was on the plane! This is first class smile. The way back there was an 'I am sitting in Economy surrounded by a family with four children after being selected for special security screening and humiliation' grimace. That will not be pictured!!!

One famous thing in Barcelona is a big market called the Boqueria. They have lots of PIG, and chocolate, and produce, and awesomeness. Here is a whole stand devoted to the delightful pig.

I was trying to stay on New York time which meant sleeping until around 11:00 am every day. Luckily the Spanish lifestyle is quite conducive. It was best to start every day with copious amounts of strong, delicious coffee.

Next walking on the beach... there were these guys making elaborate sand castles and other sand art forms. I liked this one the best. I'm not sure if you can tell but it's a drunk passed out on the couch. Very apropos for Barcelona!

Not to give the impression that it was all sitting around on the beach eating pork, we did rent bikes and go up a pretty big hill with three gears. It was fun!

The view was great, the payoff I would say was definitely worth the 20 minutes of leg press, i.e. riding uphill.

The last full day we did a tour of Mont Serrat, which translated means 'serrated mountain'. There is a monastery and a church pretty close to the summit. Apparently a black virgin was found there. You could touch her and wish/pray for a miracle. I wanted to wish that I could come back and ride my bike up the mountain but I promise I tried to find something slightly more meaningful.

After going to the mountain we went to a gorgeous vineyard and did a wine tasting. It was so interesting. They only do organic wine. Organic wine is just as delicious as conventional wine. I love Spanish wine. They don't age their chardonnay in oak barrels so even the chardonnay is good. They also make a sparkling wine called Cava which is delicious. The Spanish like dry wine. I swear I could have been Spanish.

All in all it was a great and relaxing trip (until the worst flight back). I highly recommend Barcelona. I'd like to learn some more Spanish, go back at a warmer time of year (it was a bit brisk especially on the water), and somehow ride a bike there!!

Now believe it or not it is time to get serious about training and not being an off season fatty. Bike racing season starts in March and San Juan will be here before we know it. I will write a goal post (hahaha, PUN INTENDED!!!!) probably this weekend.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Well this has been different

So you may have noticed I didn't write a NYC Marathon race report, because it was canceled! We have had a lot going on here in the Northeast. Hurricane Sandy really beat the crap out of us, and then while we were still recovering (one of my clients STILL doesn't have power), we had a Nor'easter. In all that hullabaloo, they canceled the marathon, because it seemed gauche to create a lot of chaos especially on Staten Island which was really devastated by the hurricane.

So that happened.

Which was probably good from a purely physical perspective because I was in no shape to run a marathon. Although my butt (hips really) has been doing better, I still can't really run 20 miles, much less 26. I'm sure I could have gutted it out, but I wasn't disappointed. I still have to figure out whether or not I'm going to run NY next year, as I would assume anyone who was signed up this year will get a guaranteed 2013 entry. I am of two minds.

I also almost signed up for Philadelphia, since I'll be there next weekend anyway, but the process for NYC Marathon entrants included your confirmation number which I had totally forgotten and deleted any record of. So that didn't happen. Which is fine because I shall go to Philly, and have fun, and not care how far I run!

Anyway here is a snap from the post-Sandy wreckage.

Yeah that's a tree that fell on a car. There was a lot of this. I have to say, if I owned a car, I don't think I would have left it outside for the hurricane. Just saying.

So I know I never blog but life has been somewhat mellow. I have been riding my trainer during the week. I don't really mind it (I know, I am nuts). I have been riding outside on the weekends. You should have seen the roads near Piermont and Nyack. There are so many trees down, it is really sad. I am joining a new gym that is two blocks from my apartment so I have no excuse to not swim. That will be fun. I lifted for the first time in a few months yesterday, I am very very sore. That is a good feeling.

All in all, life is good. It has been so busy. I would like things to slow down just a little. I think December is  the time for that so I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Different type of blog entry - Per Se dining report!!!

As many people who know me know, I love to exercise and race, but I love to eat almost just as much. Which probably explains why I am a chubby little thing in spite of exercising all the time! Anyway, in that spirit, and because my mother has been asking about this a lot, I decided to do a Per Se dining report. Per Se is a restaurant that is super fancy. I had been wanting to go forever and when my friend Randy decided to come to town for a wedding I got us reservations. Which was kind of a quest in and of itself, and definitely took a while. It reminded me of when you really want to go to a concert and you have to get online the day tickets go on sale and you try and try to get them and hopefully you do. But I got us a lunch reservation and so we went!!

I thought I would go through the pictures and talk about everything we ate and the overall experience. We are food dorks so I made Randy take pictures of pretty much everything we ate. Luckily we did a five course lunch menu so there is only so much food you have to look at.

First up were two amuse bouches which we did not photograph. Tiny gougeres (basically bread wrapped around melted cheese, yum) and a little cone with salmon tartar inside it. Bananas.

Next was something I was nervous about - sea urchin "panna cotta". Now sea urchin (often called Uni at sushi restaurants where it is most commonly served) is definitely not beginner sushi. It is briny, funky, and can cause all kinds of weird feelings when you eat it. And I must say I know I must not have a sophisticated palate or whatever but I didn't love it. It is just a very strong flavor. 

For the rest of the courses there was often a choice so we would get one of each and trade halfway through. So many flavors. This was a kampachi dish (google it, I don't really know what it is) which was incredible. Very light, lots of citrus and bright flavors. I really enjoyed it. The picture doesn't do it justice but the colors were incredible.
That was a nice counterpoint to a much heavier dish which was veal sweetbreads. No this is not like a sweet roll (google it, I don't want to think about what it actually is, but it was delicious!!).
I think the next course was perhaps the highlight but well frankly everything was so amazing it's hard to say. I had half an order of these scallops:
I can't even remember everything that came with them (and they've already changed the menu) except I know there was pistachio involved. It reminded me of California. Awesome. We also split an order of halibut which was amazing:
There's crispy potato on top and then soft potato below it. So many flavors and textures that all went together so well.

After that we had a crazy Wagyu brisket that we forgot to take a picture of. It was amazing. They braised it for a day or something ridiculous so it was quite tender, and it came with pasta, spinach, and a crazy sauce. I can't give it a better description than that - it was insane.

That was followed by the fanciest "cookies and cream" dish I've ever had.

This kind of shows why I love Thomas Keller so much. He clearly was obsessed with Oreos as a child, as was I. Yet he elevates the idea of an Oreo to a fancy and amazing dessert. On the right it is a marshmallow-like substance that was bruleed. It was so good.

So you would think well that is pretty good. BUT there is more. After all that they bring you more treats in a fancy French thing called MIGNARDISES. I love them whatever they are. Some nice young man came by and showed us 24 chocolates and let us take as many as we wanted!!!
We only got four, I mean how gross can you be. They were fun to try. The best one was dark chocolate with salted caramel inside.

Then they brought something called 'coffee and donuts'. LOVE. The coffee substance was a semifreddo (kind of like ice cream) and then the donuts were warm and soft and perfect.  And there was also a tin with macarons, more chocolates, and then these little candies that looked like taffy inside.
This is seriously like heaven for me. They apparently have a five course dessert tasting menu which I will go and do if I ever reach my goal weight. Ha, like that'll happen in this lifetime, living where I live.

Anyway, I think we both agreed it was the best meal we'd ever had and just an incredible experience. The service was ridiculous. You couldn't even walk to the bathroom by yourself - they insisted on showing you the way. They sent us on our way with little bags of shortbread sandwich cookies and a book on where they get all their ingredients. Truly a meal of a lifetime and I am really lucky to have had it with my food soulmate!

Thanks also to Hurricane Sandy for barricading me in my apartment so I would get this written!

Saturday, October 13, 2012


I suppose it's a sign of a good off-season that I've been too busy having fun to write about it. And I mean this is kind of a sporty person's blog, so do you people really want to read about my lack of exercising? Doubtful!

So, the off-season has been great. Not any less busy but my time has been occupied with some fall riding and some other non-riding/exercising stuff.

My parents came to visit two weeks ago which was awesome. We are so codependent. But in a good way.  I took them over to Brooklyn to see an arts festival. There wasn't a ton of art there, but there were some nice views!

 Then I made reservations for a fancy dinner. I love having fancy dinners especially when someone else pays. Here is me and my stepmom. We are so fancy and cute!! You wouldn't know how humid it was, I don't know how my hair stayed even remotely normal.
 Fall riding has been a lot of fun. This is a view of the Hudson from a dirt path. I gotta say, I am really loving riding on the dirt. Too bad I refuse to buy a cross bike until after I sell my mountain bike, I'd really like to have one. But I can only hate my money so much!
 Last Saturday we went out to the Dirty Jerz for some riding. It was great to see a new route. You can tell I am happy. I love riding.
In other news I have a new team for next year and I am super excited. It is a truly awesome group of girls and I hope to make a positive impact on the team. They are all so much fun to hang out with and ride with. This also means NEW  KIT. God I love new kit, there is nothing like it.

I am off for a 'long' run soon. This marathon should be interesting considering my long run will probably be 13 miles. But you know the goal for the marathon is to have fun and finish - very low expectations! I hope to post some foliage snaps in the next couple weeks, it's still a little early but it's starting to look very pretty. I love the Northeast in the fall.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Where DID the summer go?!?!

Life has been so incredibly busy this summer, I seriously do not know where it went. It is insane. Now it is cold in the mornings and I have been riding in knee warmers and it gets dark a little after  7:00 and there is football on television (not that I would know, because I do not have time to watch it, but I believe it to be true based on many passionate posts on Facebook), and I am happy, because I love fall, and sad, because I love summer, and amazed that I will have lived here for a year before I know it! How's that for a Faulknerian life update (for those non-English majors, that means that was a very long sentence).

So what is new? Well the season is winding down. There's one more CRCA race on Saturday but I will be marshaling. Meaning that I am basically a volunteer for the race. I stand around and blow a whistle when the racers come by so that others in the park know not to run out in front of them. It is sometimes effective. So I may be done with bike races for the year. And back to half-hearted marathon training. I've decided I am running New York even though I am not in shape even a little bit. I just want to do it to have fun, and have the experience, so who cares if I run a 4:30? I certainly don't. Frankly it's really expensive so the longer it takes, the more I get my money's worth. Take that, NYRR.

Also I have been riding. I just cannot get enough. I went out Saturday after missing the ride I was supposed to go on for a solo jaunt and ran into a big group of dudes who were going the same place so I tagged along with them. It was awesome, and really really hard. I loved it. There is nothing I enjoy more than hanging on for dear life with a big group of guys. Also, guys are fun because they treat every ride like a buffet. So we made a number of stops for  snacks. Including at the Orchards for the best apple I have ever eaten.

It was so crisp and flavorful. The apple cider donuts weren't half bad either. Families were up there picking apples. It reminded me of a run we used to do in college every year - we'd run on these awesome snowmobile trails and then go apple picking.

I've also had some extra time, now that I don't go out of town every weekend, for meandering. On Sunday I had dinner with some friends and wanted to bring cupcakes so I wandered through the park and discovered a new spot. It was really peaceful and gorgeous.

I continue to plot and plan for next year, but that's another topic altogether, that I'll think and write about later. But right now my primary goal, and I must say I seem to be doing fairly well at achieving it, is to make every year better than the last one. It's nice to feel happy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Hunter Mountain Fall Classic Race Report

Or, how to be stupid and still win a bike race.

So I didn't really want to race yesterday but I knew it was a decent sized field so there were points up for grabs. I am a points slut now that I got a taste of them! For those who don't know what I am talking about, here's a link to the USA Cycling rules. But basically in cycling the way we race is in categories. 1 is the best category, going down through 4 for women and 5 for men (there are way fewer women who participate in bike racing). Everyone starts in the lowest category and the way you move up is by amassing points by placing in races, or participating in lots and lots of races. With my win the other week I started accumulating points towards a Cat 3 upgrade, and now I want to get the rest of them as quickly as I can to become a Cat 3. Not any big deal but it would be cool, it's been a goal of mine once I kind of knew how cycling worked.

But anyway I digress. So this race was up near where Tour of the Catskills was, and it wasn't too far, and three other girls from my team were going so I decided to go. I am so, so glad I went! First of all we had a great time. Two of the girls had done GMSR (a big stage race in Vermont) the previous weekend when I was in Colorado and I wanted  to hear EVERYTHING about it!!! It sounded amazing, I can't wait to do it next year. Also they are generally a really fun and entertaining group of friends and I just love them. So it was great.

We left the city around 7:15 and got to the race right around 10:00. With a 10:40 start time this didn't leave a ton of time for a warmup but I figured the neutral rollout would serve as a warmup anyway. It was a 39 mile, one loop road race with one not insignificant climb. If you want to see how it looks on Strava click here. Not bad though, nothing like the crazy climbs we had to deal with in the Tour of the Catskills thank heavens. So we started out and the pace was pretty nice and mellow. I tried to stay about third to fifth wheel back for the most part to avoid squirrelly behavior. There's always someone who can't ride in a straight line in these races. I like to keep out of trouble. We started trying a few attacks but nothing would stick, partly because it was really windy, partly we just couldn't get any separation. But it helped to drive the pace a little better than just kind of cruising along which gets boring. I knew if we just rode all together until the end and left things to a field sprint I would not get points!

About halfway through we started the longest and steepest climb of the day. Now why I said I am stupid is that I had no idea how long or steep the climb would be, but I decided to attack anyway. So I break and no one goes with me. What the heck?! No idea how that happened. So I just rode as hard as I could until I got to the top of the climb which I believe took about 20 minutes. It was brutal! I was so tired and my heart was beating out of my chest. But I looked back and I couldn't really see the pack anymore so I just told my legs to shut up and I kept going. Once I got to the top I was so relieved but I knew I had to keep pushing the pace if I didn't want to get swallowed back up into the pack again, which would have sucked. After all that work I'd have been spent and useless in a sprint.

The moto (a motorcycle who has to stay with the leader) kept telling me how much time I had up on the pack so at 25 miles I had 30 seconds, at 30 miles I had 48 seconds, and then at 35 miles I had over a minute. So I knew by then I was in good shape although I was really surprised because around mile 30 I turned into a massive headwind which sucked. In that type of situation a pack is going to have a huge advantage over one person because the pack can take turns leading whereas when it's just a solo rider, you have to take the beating from the wind all by yourself. But I just got as low as I could and pushed as hard as I could. And I guess it was enough! I ended up winning by about a minute over the rest of the field. I was super happy and excited. I knew this was a bigger field so it meant MORE POINTS. Awesome. Also my teammates ended up in 5th and 6th I think (or 6th and 7th), either way very good for them. One of our girls had to DNF due to a cramp which sucked so much for her, I feel terrible she had to go all that way! But overall it was a great day and I had a fabulous time. I am very happy with the results. Solo breaks are a hard way to win a race and I don't recommend it, but it is effective!

Now I am chilling on my couch after a nice but somewhat tough ride with my friend Sydney this morning, it feels like ages since I've had time to relax on the couch so I am really enjoying it. What a beautiful late summer weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

So I went back to Colorado...

I spent the last 5 days in Colorado for my little sister's wedding and some friend/family visiting, and of course since I am a lunatic, I brought my bike. I really wanted to see how I liked riding my new road bike on all the roads I used to ride all the time. And the verdict is, I LOVE MY BIKE!!!

It is awesome. Look how cute it is at the top of High Grade.

(It's the one on the left)

I also realized that even though there is way more climbing in Colorado, it is NOT steep! So if I ever moved back I would want a different gear setup. I kept running out of gears going downhill and on flats. Weird.

Here are a few observations about Colorado.

It is very DRY. It is hot as blazes. It is always windy. When I get to 8,000 feet in elevation, it is hard for me to breathe!

Anyway it was a ton of fun. The wedding was super cute. Here is a picture of my little sister dancing with her husband. They were an adorable couple!

The wedding was a lot of fun. Some people got drunk. That was funny. At one point I think my brother was dancing with four dwarves. He knows how to have a good time.

I got to do all my favorite rides which was awesome. I am tired now but I feel good. That said I did get a crazy massage from my awesome massage therapist back in Boulder, and she always beats the crap out of me, so I'm more sore from the massage than riding. I know, it's weird, but it was great.

Here is my favorite picture from Brainard Lake, which is at 10,000 feet. I really couldn't breathe there!

When I got back last night (very late due to some delay or another), the air felt so thick, holy crap. It was great. My skin feels better. I miss my family and I do really miss Boulder, but I'm glad to be back.

I may have one more race this weekend although I am debating - I am so, so tired! I think my legs will be recovered but sleeping in four places in five nights was not super restful. So we'll see. I may just call it a season, it's been a good one, albeit different from what I expected when the year started. I've given a lot of thought to what I want to do next year - racing bikes, perhaps a tri comeback, who knows. I want to decide soon just because if I want to do a few tris I need to start signing up, because tris are annoying like that! Who knows, I may even blog about it soon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

On a roll - Central Park Women's 4 Open Race Report

So now that I actually have time to write a race report or two... here is the report from my first win of my racing career (that I can remember at least). It was at 6:15 in the morning two weeks ago in Central Park. Five lap race, women's Category 4 only. Woke up and it was pouring rain. Felt sad that I had bullied my coach into writing me a race plan, because if he hadn't I probably would have turned off the alarm and slept in!

But I could not do that so I woke up, had a protein shake, and headed to the park and registered.

We started off and I tried to sit in as much as possible. It was hard staying on a wheel the first two laps because I kept getting spray in my eyes but I did it. The laps were exactly 18:00 each. Then on the third lap I kind of lucked out because one of the women in the race started to attack on the very end of the descent to the start of Harlem Hill. I got on her wheel and as soon as the road started to ascend I went off the front as hard as I could. I rode at my top effort until I crested Harlem Hill. My heart rate at the top was 191 so it was a good effort. I didn't look back and just TTed as hard as I could to finish that lap (the third one) and apparently got enough separation to win. The last two laps I tried to keep the effort up as much as I could in case there was a chase that could catch me.

The only thing that was confusing was that I got passed by a large men's field and then they slowed down so I wanted to pass them back but I wasn't sure what to do so I just dropped back and hoped they would speed up (they did). That was going into the last lap. My laps were in the 16:00-17:00 range. I came into the finish and I was so happy that I held everyone off and won. It was definitely a great feeling and I also am happy that I conquered one of my fears - racing in the rain. I raced in the rain and didn't die! I still don't love it - I was really not happy on every descent. But living in the Northeast you are going to race in the rain, so I figure I may as well stop being a baby about it.

At this point there is one more bike race this season and then after that it's off season. It will be nice to have a break, do some fun fall rides, and sleep more! I've had so much fun racing my bike so far.

Last things first - REV3 Maine Race Report!

I still haven't written a race report for my last bike race (i.e. my first bike race win) but I have pictures from Maine this weekend so I suppose I am doing that one first! I also have the day off and I'm back in town so I have this crazy thing called free time. It feels weird.

Anyway Maine was awesome. It is so beautiful there. This is the scene of our swim!

Now do I recommend doing a tri with an ocean swim involved after not swimming for four months? Definitely not. But I'll get to that. First things first. My awesome friend Tamra and I headed up Friday morning and went to packet pickup and then since we still felt relatively energetic we headed up the coast a little further to see my old school, Bowdoin. I hadn't been back in a while and it has changed a lot and not at all, at the same time.

One thing that hasn't changed is how stunning the campus is. Wow. Here are a few shots. This is the chapel:

Me in front of the Student Union posing with the Polar Bear (our mascot):

Hubbard Hall where I took government classes:

The Bowdoin Pines, a little trail you can walk along outside the back of the alumni house:

It is my happy place, I love it there.

We also checked out the island where I lived my senior year and had dinner at a cheesy but tasty restaurant called Cook's. This is the sunset that evening outside at Cook's:

The next day we did our little pre-race workouts and then had breakfast. This snap is for Kim (who is Tamra's coach and told her to eat a lot of food for breakfast that morning).

Those are pancakes with real Maine blueberries. YUM.

So anyway that was fun, but I know what you really want to know is, how was the race? Well it was awesome. And not awesome all at once but I had a great time. We got up Sunday around 4:00 and had breakfast and headed down to the race. This was such a great venue - very easy to get around, tons of parking, very supportive community. It could not have been easier. So we got there so early because everything was so easy, which was fine. We set up our transition spots and walked about half a mile down to the start.

Now I really had not swum a stroke since late April. NOT RECOMMENDED. I did swim on Saturday for maybe 20 minutes and my arms didn't fall off and I noticed with the current it would be good to sight often. It was a beach start but there wasn't much contact at all so I just started swimming along and tried to swim in a straight line. I was all alone except at the last turn some guy swam over me for no reason so that was annoying! I didn't really get tired except I guess my back felt tired. When I exited the water I realized that was because I swam a 44! Nice personal worst swim. But what do you expect when you don't train? Pretty much that. There was a long run to T1 so I just said well what can you do and started running. There were virtually no bikes left in my area so I knew that the swim wasn't just way long, good to know. But I knew the bike was where I was fit.

So the bike was so great. I loved the course. Almost totally flat. I got into my small chain ring twice, each time for under two minutes. I probably passed 300 people. And this was NOT that big a race. One guy asked me what I ate for breakfast. I said oh that's not it sir, all I've done for the last few months is ride my bike! I wanted to have the fastest bike split and I didn't quite do it but I was close. I was told the course was a little long but my time was 2:34. I guess it was a little windy but I don't know, I feel like I could have ridden a little faster. I suppose that the swim actually taking something out of me had something to do with it! Who knows. I had a great time though, just enjoying being out there. The scenery was beautiful - all these lovely trees and farms and just MAINE. I love that place.

I got off the bike and the good news was that I felt fine. After riding as much as I have this summer I didn't feel like it took anything out of me. Which was good because I needed everything for this run.

So I don't know if I have said anything about this because I never blog but my butt is really jacked. I keep going to people here and I don't know if anything is working. It seems like there is this tightness in the insertion of my hamstring and then on the side and on the top, pretty much all over on the right side. It is really painful when I run but it doesn't hurt when I ride so I've just been riding and not running. I hoped I could finish but I wasn't sure. My friend Randy told me to take 4 Advil at the start of the run so I grabbed all my normal stuff plus a pile of Advil and headed out. I immediately felt my butt - however, it wasn't that bad so I said well worst case let's try to run the Olympic run course (a 10k) and if that's all I can do I'll come back and DQ myself.

I also had no idea how fast I would go if I could run but I knew that when I got back from the bike there were hardly any bikes in my area so I thought well maybe I can get top 5 in my age group and that would be nice. Then I hit mile 1 in 8:16 and my butt hurt so I said maybe not, I am sure someone will pass me! But I just kept running and once we got past about mile 2.5 we were on this awesome trail. It was flat, smooth, and almost totally shaded, and the surface was dirt which was a godsend, it was so much easier on my body and allowed me to continue without too much pain in my butt! I also tried out a new EFS gel flavor - the Kona mocha one - which was delicious, that helped too! I was also just having so much fun out there. Every person I passed I told them good job and if they said oh you look so strong or whatever I said you know I am just happy to be out here. It was so much fun. I was running around 8:00 pace for a while and then slowed down to around 8:30 pace for a while but just kept saying to myself just keep running, and each mile that went by I was happy that I could run that far.

I came into the finish just under 5:15. I think I ran a 1:49 - definitely not a great time, but I'm happy with it considering my lack of training. I don't think I would even have started had the race not been in such a special location for me. I am so glad I did! I still don't know if I want to do any tris next year or just keep racing my bike, because I am really enjoying that. But I do really love tris. I think because I love to run so much. I just hope I can fix my butt either way, so that I can find that joy in running again - it's not fun when it hurts!

Here is a scene from the finish line. REV3 put on such a good race. They were getting ready to cheer like crazy for the last finishers.

And here is a snap of the medal I received along with the finishers medal - they snap together, pretty sweet!

The finisher's medal is the lobster claw and the podium medal or whatever is behind it (I think it is a pot you cook a lobster in or something). Again I just can't say enough good things about this race. The course, organization, location - all incredible. You should definitely consider it for next year. I might be back if I get my butt healthy!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tour of the Catskills

So Tour of the Catskills. Such an epic weekend, so much to say, so many great memories. Most of all it was a really fun weekend with my teammates, they are great girls and I love hanging out with them.

I tried to relax as much as I could, sitting on the front porch of the house we rented. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful!

The Catskills remind me of the smaller mountain towns in Colorado. Very pretty and nice and quiet in the summer. But more like the mountain towns like when I was a little kid, now the ones in Colorado are much busier and larger. Anyway after hearing of their existence for so long it was fun to see them.

So we started off with a 12 mile time trial. My goals were:
1. Ride hard
2. Finish in time to hand my bike off to my teammate who is my exact size, so she could use it too
3. Put myself in a decent position for the GC (like any other stage race the winner of the race is the person with the fastest time overall)

I would say all three goals were met. I was 4th in the Women's 3/4 category and the fastest of all the Cat 4 women. I was under a minute back from the leader of the GC. And I got to give BrittLee my bike! She had an awesome TT and was second in her category (P/1/2/3). I like to think I helped with that a little bit!

After that I tooled around a little to cool down and then we ran around trying to get dinner, food, etc. I also had to wash my kit because I only have one and it was already disgusting. Next year I am ordering so much kit I swear. It was fun and relaxing. We knew we had a big day Saturday so we tried to go to bed at a nice reasonable time.

Saturday was Stage 2 and a 65 mile road race. Here is the course:

It doesn't look that crazy but the last big climb is ridiculous. Like it's not even like riding a bicycle. But I'll get to that.

So I was feeling good and I was with the leaders like maybe 3rd to 8th wheel back for a long time. It was kind of boring for a while to be honest - I don't have a power meter but my teammate Meredith said we were pushing like 80 watts which is not a lot! The ride was beautiful though and I was enjoying that. One funny thing happened - I'm riding along down a long descent and a bee flies into my leg and stings me. Of course, this would only happen to me. Now the reason everything was cruisey however is because of this crazy climb. So we come to the climb and it is like 'oh you have got to be kidding'. So steep. I was determined not to get off my bike and walk, because everyone said I'd have to because I had a 12-25 cassette. Well yeah, I ended up walking for a little while. I literally could not help it - my brain said pedal, my foot said clip out. So there I was! I felt like a douche but then I found out that everyone in the 3/4 field walked. So I didn't feel that bad.

Once I got to the top I was pretty far from the leaders so I started TTing my butt as fast as it would go. I caught Meredith after maybe 5 minutes and we worked together and caught two more girls and then we got into a little sprint with them at the finish and I tied the other girl who was sprinting fast. Not bad. I was dead when I finished though. It was really hot so we just ate a sandwich, drank like 13 bottles of water, and sat down in the shade on the sidewalk. This stage I finished in 10th. Oops. Not great but I mean really I could not have climbed that crazy climb any faster on that day.

The rest of the day we pretty much loafed like champs, made dinner, did more laundry, nothing too exciting. It was nice.

Sunday was Stage 3 which was a 61 mile road race with two climbs. I didn't feel awful when I woke up but I didn't feel great. I mean come on, who would? That would be ridiculous. So we got to the start and did a little warmup and then lined up. Since I was top 10 in the GC I got to start at the front, that was kind of cool. I felt very pro. We started out and the first 20 miles were easy which was alarming because what goes down must come back up. The field held together until I would say partway through the first climb which was around a 5k in length and fairly steep. I just lost it mentally and lost the leaders. I was bummed because I thought I could stay with them if I had just had more mental fortitude. But once again there I was off the back TTing as hard as I could. I caught Meredith again and we pacelined to the next climb which was later in the race. The second climb was crazy steep but not as bad as Saturday's. I managed to stay on my bike the entire time. At this point it was pouring which was annoying but also meant it wasn't nearly as hot as Saturday which was a blessing.

I suck at descending in the rain because I am afraid of crashing, I must say. Meredith TTed to catch me and we just worked together as much as we could to get to the finish. I sprinted into the finish as hard as I could and ended up 9th in that stage, bringing my final position to 10th in the GC. I won $20 so that was cute.

Here is the view from the finish:

Overall I am so happy with how I did. It was so hard but so much fun. I love my teammates. I love the Catskills. I really, really love stage races and I can't wait to do another. I am already plotting the next one which is probably next year - the season is going to wind down after Labor Day weekend and I can't race that weekend because I'll be in Denver for a wedding. Oh well! Just gotta hit it hard next year. I have a few more races this year but nothing that exciting. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

I (heart) Summer

Summer in New York is even more awesome than summer anywhere else I've lived. It is so much fun. And as  you may guess, it is busy, because I never blog. I've  been racing a little more - did a road race up in Pawling, New York, last Sunday. It was so much fun. The race consisted of two challenging, beautiful loops in hot weather. I ended up 14th, which I was not delighted by, but I was delighted by swimming in an awesome lake after the race. They had a few laps set up, which was fun. I swam a 150. Pretty much the extent of my swimming recently, oops! It felt amazing after racing though. Mostly we just floated around and chatted. Very good times.

I also recently went to the beach for the first time since I moved. It is so easy, and absolutely beautiful!

We had such a good time, just running around playing in the waves, loafing, and gossiping. Here is me and my friend Nancy:

After the beach we headed back to the city and watched the longest fireworks show of any major city, from a friend's rooftop. Very good times.

Pictures don't really do it justice. As rough as a July 4th in the middle of the week was the next day, it was definitely worth it!

I've also been spending more time in Brooklyn. It is great. This is a view from the Brooklyn Promenade. Boy, that's hard to get sick of. It's a nice quiet break from Manhattan. We've also been doing some crit practice there, let me tell you that's a great way to make yourself want to hurl!

In other news I've replaced my road bike with a new, aero, much better-fitting bike. It is so much fun to ride. I really can't wait to get on my bike every day, which is good, since I'm riding a lot. This weekend I didn't race (there weren't really any 4 fields except out in New Jersey and I wanted to get marshaling out of the way), so I rode 70 yesterday and 65 today. Yesterday included hill repeats so it was a lot of climbing. Today was more mellow yet also lots of fun. Now I am just napping on and off and watching the Tour before I go meet a girlfriend. Life is good.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Bike Race Number Two - Alpine Hill Climb!

I completed my second bike race yesterday. This was somewhat delayed just because of weather and then me being an idiot, so I was eager to get another race under my belt. Now considering the fact that my longest race last year took over 11 hours, this was a silly event - a hill climb up Alpine Hill in Palisades just across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. Convenient yet I only expected the race to take around six minutes. Ha! The last time I raced in a six minute race was probably in college.

This is a snap from the base of the hill that I took on Wednesday, when we practiced climbing it four times. In 95 degree, humid weather. Good times, good times.

It's actually really, really pretty, and the road was paved about a week ago, so that was nice. It used to have a ton of potholes. So I woke up around 5:45 Saturday morning and met a few teammates to ride over. Our warmup was around an hour, just because that's about how long it takes to get to the base. My legs felt somewhat busted but I hoped I would be able to push hard for six minutes.

The best part of everything was that since it was technically a Time Trial, a nice man held me up, clipped in, before I started. That was fun. Once I started I just tried to ride hard. I couldn't get my legs to do what I wanted but I tried to push and definitely picked it up towards the top where it levels out a little. The general profile of the ride is medium, then steep, then medium again. I finished in 6:34 which I was a little disappointed with - I thought I could do a little closer to 6:00. But sometimes your legs just don't agree with plans!

After the race I rode to Nyack and back with my friend Anneliese and this cool guy Nobby, it was really fun and mellow. That was probably the most fun part of the ride aspect of the day. Although I did enjoy the race and I ended up fifth in the Women's 3/4 category which I am happy about.

I have been taking a few cool pictures when I see things I like. New York is amazing in the summer.

Here is a picture from my ride  on Friday, this is the sun setting over the Hudson.

I am such a poor photographer but it was stunning in person. And here is a view from a little nook in the park I found on Saturday after wandering around with a few friends.

I love it. The city is so nice and quiet on summer weekends unless you're in really touristy areas. I had a beautiful ride today with my friend Max. I did bonk towards the end - just didn't bring enough nutrition with me, oops! - but it was an awesome ride with several fun climbs. Then I crashed on the couch for a while before I had to go out. I swear I do not know how I fit everything in on the weekends, but that's a good problem to have!

Next weekend is another Central Park race, a little longer at around 42 miles. Should be fun!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Catch-Up in Pictures...

Once again I am alive! I know, even I have no excuses for my pathetic lack of blogging. But here I am. I figured the best way to catch up on what's been going on is in pictures.

Sooo.... I've been riding!!! I took this shot off my bike, that is my friend Richard. He is becoming quite the bomb cyclist. This is up in Westchester near Armonk. It is beautiful. And really only requires about 45 minutes of annoying city riding to get into a nice, peaceful area with great roads and some  decent hills. Richard is great to  ride with.

The day after I rode with Richard I had a friend in town and we went to a Yankees game. It was my first game in the Yankees' plush, beautiful new ballpark. Wow. It was a perfect day for a ball game. I actually got a little sunburn even.

After that visit, my mom came to town for 10 days. What a cute little thing!!!! She was in a state when she arrived (another entry on that another day) but by the end of her visit she was doing really well. I am proud of her, she is trying to make some changes after years of bad habits, and she is doing a good job.

When she was here she had her first sushi experience, and she loved it!!!

What a cute little thing. I don't think I had ever seen her try something new like this, it was a little bit weird, but not in a bad way!! She had a great time in New York and I really enjoyed having her. Not only is she a fun little person to hang out with, but she was basically my personal assistant. I could really use a permanent assistant. But what can you do, only so much money in the world!

While she was here I raced my bike for the first time. It was so fun. Here I am post-race in my bomb new kit.

It is such a great team of girls and I love how we look bombing around the park in our sweet kit. I haven't raced since then just due to weather - I'm not quite ready to race around in the rain.

Last weekend since I didn't race I went for two really fun rides. Here is one of the highlights of the first ride:

These are from a new joint in Nyack called Gypsy Donut. They were totally homemade and incredible. I spoke to the owner for a while and he was a really cool guy who is clearly passionate about making the best possible donuts in all kinds of unique flavors. The rest of the ride was great too - I started out from the Soldiers and Sailors monument with  my friend Wayne...

We ended up running into his girlfriend and some of her friends when we were almost in Nyack and did the rest of the ride, including the donut adventure, with them. I always enjoy meeting a nice group of strong women to ride with.

Then on Sunday I went for a great ride with my friend Joe. He is one of those people I randomly meet out and about on my bike because I am that obnoxious chick who will ride up to you and say 'Hi!!! I'm Barb!!! Where are you riding today??? Can I come???' I am exaggerating but not much. I met Joe last weekend when my friend Scott was in town and he is so fun to ride with. He has a Brooklyn accent and is a very good cyclist, and he is also really fun to hang out with. So we rode to the apple orchards and back.

Even though I love summer I'm really excited to head back in the fall for apple picking!!! It was a beautiful and really fun ride.

Last night I was in the park not riding for once, and it rained a little, leaving a rainbow over the park. Beautiful.

This weekend should have more of the same - ride, food, fun, friends. I am feeling lucky to live the life I've got right now.