Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New job, new blog!

Me, post-Xterra!
Just wanted to let all of you know that I've started a new job as the online editor for Cyclocross Magazine, which, if you've been following this blog you would know, is the perfect job for me.  I'm really excited about it!

To that end, I've also started another blog in Wordpress,, which will be tracking my attempts to podium in the MAC and Verge Cyclocross Series' this fall.  So stop by and say hello!

In other triathlon-news, I just did an X-terra (my first!) last weekend, and ended up 6th overall female, which was pretty good considering my lack of mountain bike finesse.

That's all for now- hope to see you over on my new blog, and hope everyone's racing/training is going wonderfully!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hello (again) and Goodbye (For Now)

For those of you who still come by and check on this blog occasionally, I again offer my humblest apologies.  But, then again, as Adam Myerson told (ok, mocked) me, I seem to spend most of my posts lately apologizing for the lack of posts.  So maybe I'm not sorry!!

OK, I really am sorry.  But I'm more apologetic towards myself- I didn't give myself enough time during the semester, and now other me-centered projects have taken precedence over this blog, which is why I'm posting this now. 

It has been a whirlwind these past couple of months.  A full cyclocross season, almost 3 months of racing every single weekend, capped off by a trip to Cyclocross Nationals in Bend, Oregon to race collegiate nats.  And while they didn't go quite as well as I had hoped, I had an amazing time!  Pat, Charlie, Matt and I had a fantastic trip, we got to spend time hanging out with some of our CX idols, had a wonderful time watching the pro race, seeing friends, and hitting up some of the great restuarants Bend had to offer.  It was amazing. 

The semester ended, and I made some big decisions.  First of all, I realized that teaching is not necesarily for me at this point in my life.  Not to say I'll never want to be a teacher, but I want to do what I went to school for in the first place- be a journalist.  I'm also looking at working in publishing, given my crazy love for reading.  So, I'm taking only 1 teaching class, and the rest of the time, I'm working and pitching articles and looking for real jobs in NYC. 

That's the other decision, by the way.  When my lease ends here, I'm moving to NYC and working there.

That was always the plan, but somewhere along the line, I let myself be persuaded that a "normal" life in the suburbs being a teacher and being like my parents was the "good" life.  I'm slowly re-realizing that that's certainly not the case for me.  I'm happiest in a crazy busy environment, and I love working in a field with people who have the same interests as me.  My good life is somewhere else, and as it turns out, after a long talk with my mom and dad, they knew that all along.

So a lot of things are up in the air right now, but it feels like I'm finally figuring out just who it is that I really want to be.

Unfortunately, that means I'm going to have even less time for this blog at the moment.  I'm working on a bunch of projects right now, so this is definitely going to be put on the back burner.  Gone but not forgotten. 

For those of you on Twitter, look me up (!/mollyjhurford), since apparently that's a thing you're supposed to do to be "in" in the world of publishing and journalism.  My, how the world is changing! 

Anyway, thanks for caring, and maybe once the dust settles, I'll be back.  I'm certainly not giving up on cycling, triathlon, training, and most importantly, never giving up on the idea of Death Before DNF!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Heading to CX Nationals! (and also, Win!)

In less than 2 days, I'll be in Oregon, getting ready to race at CX Nationals with Pat, Charlie, and Matt. The ECCC season just ended in a great way: I won the B Women field, got 2nd in the A Women field (since I couldn't do UCI races, I had to race A and B depending on the race.)

I also managed to get third on the second day of NBX, an insanely great race for me. It was a big and really strong field, as the New England women's fields tend to be, so that was a huge victory for me, and a great way to be going into Nationals. I'll post from Bend when I get there, I can't wait!

3rd place at NBX!

Winning the ECCC CX Conference 5 years in a row!
Post-race hangouts in the team van. <3

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Dear Blog-o-sphere

Again, I've gone off the grid.  I know that at this point, there aren't many people out there who are checking this regularly, and it's my own fault for being such a bad poster in the past couple of months.  This has been what can be referred to as a "transitional time" in my life, and also one of the most hectic semesters that I have ever had.  I've had a million huge projects to do for my classes, races every weekend, and next week, I head to Oregon for Cyclocross Nationals.  I can't believe it's only 8 days away!

I've been making a lot of big life decisions lately.  First, I thought about just finishing the teaching certification program.  Then, I wanted to do Teach for America.  Then, I decided to forget the certification and just get my Masters this Spring.  But...

I decided the most rational course of action: I'm going to take the one class I need to take in the Spring to start my student teaching in the Fall, but rather than starting in the Fall with student teaching, I'm going to defer for a year, and try to find a full time job in journalism, or at least focus on freelancing, working to save money, and of course, focus on my racing.  I'll move back to my parent's house, unless I find a full time job in NYC.  This way, I'll save money, be able to race and really see how far I can go with that, and really explore my options for that year.  If I don't find a full time job I love after that year, I'll start at Rutgers again and finish student teaching and get my certification and Masters.

I'm feeling pretty good about this plan, it definitely seems like the most realistic plan, and the most rational, since it gives me time to figure out what it is that I want to do, since lately I've been kind of freaking out about all of my options.  It's been a rough couple of months, personally.

Race-wise, it's been pretty awesome and fun.  A few pictures to make this post much less of a bummer:

Super sexy, I know!
I love Pat's face in this picture, watching me take the barrier soooo bad.

At the start at Staten Island!

I look sooooo fast!

Finish at West Point- I got to race with the A/B Men!

Post Race with my fellow racers!

Podium- 1st and 2nd A Men, 1st and 2nd B Men, and 1st and only A woman!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bad Blogger Award

So I know I'm in serious contention for the worst blooger ever award.  And I know that I was planning on updating more when I got back to school and back into routine. What I didn't anticipate was just how crazy busy I was going to be.  Between classes, work, and now, cyclocross every weekend through mid-December including a trip to freaking OREGON to race at Nats, it's been sort of... insane?

This weekend was awesome.  We went up to Massachusetts for Cycle-Smart International, a weekend put on by the team's biggest collective crush, Adam Meyerson.  It was a super-good time, I had some decent but definitely "needs improvement" results in the biggest field I've ever raced in, and had a blast doing so.  It was the first super-cold weekend, which lent itself nicely to lots of hot apple cider and lots of free oatmeal.  And a whole lot of awesome team antics.  We got amazing seitan burritos at a place in Northampton, which is the cutest town ever, and then got really good beer at a great bar nearby.  In general, it was a fantastic time.  The only downside is coming home and remembering that I'm not a bike racer full-time.  There's work to do!

But there's also a lot to do bike racing.  The whole vegan thing is coming along very nicely, I dropped a couple of pounds this week and honestly, I am feeling really really good!  I always forget just how good I feel when I'm vegan because, come on, ice cream is delicious.  But so far it hasn't been too hard- it also helps that I spend weekends not eating pizza as per usual, but traveling with a lot of vegan teammates.  It is weird how easily I've fallen back into the habit of checking labels and paying attention to stuff like that, and I'm eating a whole lot more whole foods- a lot of fruit for snacking!  The only problem is that sometimes I get hungry when I'm working a full day- like today- and I can't really hit a vending machine for snacks (this is a good and bad thing, I think).  I would pack stuff like trail mix, but nuts and me don't agree in a lot of ways.  I could pack pita chips or crackers, easily, but I never think about it.

In addition to the vegan thing, I also need to work on my pitting skills.  At Nats, I'll be pitting for three of my teammates at the same time, and my knowledge of mechanics is not great.  Nor is my ability to hand off a bike effectively.  On the flip side, I need to learn how to take a pit bike and not lose time.  So my teammates and I need to start working on things like that.  Additionally, I need to work on going HARD for 45 min, my starts, and riding WITH people, including things like bumping, and just cornering with people in front of me- I brake too much as it is.  So we're going to start really focusing on those things, and instead of our usual Wednesday night team dinners, we're going to combine dinner with some serious mechanic lessons so I can hopefully be a teensy bit competent in the pit.

I did get new compression tights today, which I'm very excited about!  I did a run this morning to drop off some forms, and it was probably a bad idea.  I've never been one for recovery, but it's clear I need to start, judging by how much going down stairs is hurting now.  I need to do things like stretch, wear compression stuff, and actually recover.  And I need to avoid getting sick!  I keep forgetting to take vitamins and use my Neti pot on a regular basis, despite really needing to, since I'm outside in the cold every weekend.  Also, I keep underpacking for races and end up freezing and/or stealing teammates clothing (I had Matt's legwarmers for the past month, and I warmed up in Charlie's jacket all weekend). 

The next few weeks are going to be super fun though- we have a lot of my favorite races, Thanksgiving weekend off, a couple of local weekends and a couple of travel weekends to places I love, and then Nationals!  I'm super excited but also really nervous about stuff like getting our bikes there, our flights working out, getting to sit together on the plane, not losing our luggage, car rental, stuff like that.  Details are nerve-wracking, but flying doesn't bug me too much.  Just the part leading up to getting on the plane and taking off.  We still have 5 weeks until we leave, but it's hard to believe that it's already November and most of my classes are starting to wind down somewhat and final projects are starting to be due.  This means I'll be keeping my Bad Blogger Award for a while, but I'll try to post more, for my sanity more than anything else!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan Til Nats

I recently came to a realization: my nutrition sucks.

I realized this when, in one day, and not as a substitute for any meals, I finished 8 Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.  That's over 1000 extra calories, in addition to the regular 3 meals (including 3 sodas) that I was having over the course of the day.  Not OK!

So, I basically decided to take the most stringent anti-Reeses approach possible: until Nats, I'm going vegan.  As some of you may know, I used to be vegan, and I've tossed around the idea of going vegan again.  The next 6 weeks will be sort of my testing ground, so to speak, to see if it's a feasibility.  This will also make me cut the junk out of my diet, eat more fruit and vegetables, and hopefully shed those few pounds that have not wanted to come off since Ironman.  I have faith!  It's been a couple of days and I feel better, maybe from a psychological standpoint, but I think in general, I feel healthier.  I felt better as a vegan before, but I enjoy being vegetarian more, and it works better in Robbie and my lifestyle.  At the moment though, I spend my weekends with the team instead of at Robbie's parents, an half of the team is vegan, so weekends aren't an issue during the season.  So it's a tossup, really.  Happier with how I feel or happier with what I get to eat?  We'll see.  I'm expecting to see some major changes in my training because of it though.  I'm going to start watching my weight- literally- and weighing myself every day or two on my good body fat composition scale, just to see what happens on a vegan diet.  Of course, it's not just a vegan diet, I'm trying to make sure that it's a healthy one: little/no vegan junkfood for me!  Of course, I'm still drinking 2-3 soft drinks per day (can't give that up just yet) and eating junk food on occasion, but the focus is on being a healthy vegan, not just substituting the bad vegetarian stuff for bad vegan stuff.  That would be what we call counter-intuitive. 

To catch everyone up to speed, this weekend was a 12th place at Beacon CX and a 13th place at HPCX.  I'm getting better, and I'm beating more women who used to easily beat me, so I'm happy about that. 

More later, but right now I'm busy reading a sports nutrition guidebook from 1990 that advocates, when at restaurants and dealing with pasta, to, quote, "PILE IT ON."  Also, order extra rice with Chinese food.  This author is my hero!  She's also really into muffins.  I could live with this diet.

Oh yeah- the title of this post!  It looks like Pat, Charlie, Matt and I will be representing Rutgers out in Bend, Oregon this December at Cyclocross Nationals.  We still have to get final approval and book everything, but it's looking good!  I'm beyond excited, we're going to have a blast!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Long Long Long Weekend.

Some weekends just don't turn out the way you plan.  For instance, this one. 

For starters, RedCross 2.0 was a cyclocross race on a motocross course.  All mud, all technical.  Still, I finished 5th in an open field and won the Collegiate A race.

I got 2 hours of sleep on Saturday night, woke up sick from walking in the cold rain, and drove 3 hours to Saratoga Spa CX.  My race there defied description: it was cold, rainy, and miserable, and I was sick and tired, so I was off to a bad start, despite the course being great for me.  My back shifter wasn't working, then I tipped over in a corner and managed to jam my brake into my wheel, so I rode a full lap with a brake on.  Then, Charlie gave me his bike in the pit.  His bike is the same frame, but very very very different setup.  Wow.  Then, my bike came back to me a lap later, and immediately the chain jammed.  Then, the front shifter wouldn't work.  I finished last in a field of 11.  I may have finished better if I hadn't had mechanical issues, but frankly, I wasn't in the race.  On the bright side, I won collegiate A's, since I chose to race the open women's field.  It was a pretty legit field too!
The one shining moment both days was when I was taking the barriers and doing remounts.  The guys said on Saturday that mine were the best out of the field, and on Sunday, a guy pointed me out as a great example of how you should take barriers.

Finally, we were heading home, and my mom called to tell me that my great uncle, who I was really close with growing up, just passed away on Saturday.  So, sick, sad, and very tired, I finally got home.  Hearing about Uncle Steve made me realize how trivial one race really is.  He was awesome, a minor league baseball player back in the 50s, and he and my aunt owned an amazing ice cream place where I had my first job.  I'm going to miss him very much.

I'll end on a happier note though, because there are still plenty of things to make me smile:
Charlie and I with the 2 cutest puppies on the planet, right after my race on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Westwood Pictures and general notions...

It's been a hectic couple of weeks.  Not because anything has gone wrong, more because nothing has!  (Knock on wood.)  What I mean is, no reasons (like getting a car door to the face) have prevented me from doing my full load of tutoring, classes, and work.  Plus, I've been racing both days every weekend, except this past Sunday, when I was at a wedding all day, so it wasn't really a day off. 

My poor new apartment!  I'm there for a couple hours during the day but mainly to sleep, and it seriously needs some TLC.  Doing dishes is hard enough, much less cleaning the kitchen and bathroom and keeping my stuff neat.  It's making me crazy!  I was hoping to have a chance tonight, but after tutoring- after fieldwork with the 7th graders all morning- I have 'cross practice, then talking to the professor for a class that I tutor, then I have to meet my mom for dinner because she has my long-armed stapler, which I need for the aforementioned 7th graders.  Then, home to get homework done.  This weekend is no better, I'm racing both Saturday and Sunday in upstate NY, thanks to collegiate cross finally kicking off.  They're really tiny races, so it should be fun, and hopefully the weather will cooperate. 

My real reason for making this entry though, is to show off these amazing pictures I finally found from Westwood Velo (Day 1, 2nd place; Day 2, 1st place)!
The weird part is that I had no idea anyone was taking a picture, I was just looking that way.

And up the hill... again.

And over the barriers... also, again.

It's blurry because I'm going so fast, right?

Is it over yet?

I really like them, and there are more here:

Back to work!

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Photogenic Weekend

12th place in a 50+ field at Granogue, which some of you may remember as my first ever CX race last year.  Very exciting to see how far I've come in a year, and how different the course felt this time around. 
pre-race hangout!

all of our new bikes, in a row!

charlie, one of my all-time favorite people and teammates!

the course- how neat is that tower?

off camber, no problem!

post-race, still stoked!

an image to leave you with- yeah, we ride for raleigh!

Then, Sunday was my best friend from childhood's wedding!  I was his first fiance, I'm proud to say.  We were 3 at the time, but still!  It was a lovely wedding, and I'm putting up a bunch of pictures because come on, how often am I in a dress?  And wearing makeup?

we clean up nice.

i don't like this picture but colleen and robbie did!

only time colleen is taller, because her heels were higher!

my crew.

picture hijnks.

More later, but for now, it's a long work-week ahead!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally, A Good Weekend!!

So, as the title reads, I finally had a successful weekend!  (Now, if only I could be as successful at figuring out how the new formatting works on this blog.  The image upload is driving me nuts!)

Anyway, we raced at Westwood Velo, up in Harriman State Park (I've done tri's there before, it's beautiful) and the weather couldn't have been better.  By "we raced," I mean Matt and I on Saturday and just me on Sunday.  Of course, I also had Andy, Konrad, Emily, Chris, Liz, Blake, et cetera... mostly kids I met at the track over the summer, with the exception of Blake, but you all know him as the guy who got me into this craziness years ago!

The weekend started off great- Matt and I drove up early in amazing fall weather, got to see some great leaf-changing scenery, and got to the race, which was small, but stellar.  My race was at 11, so I was there and getting ready to go.  We spun around a bit, and I flatted my rear wheel (somehow, this is entirely Matt's fault) but we replaced it with the pit wheel Matt had brought.  We just got our amazing new bikes, so we have the same wheels now, which makes pitting super easy. 

My race was 15 women, which is about half the size of a normal race, but I was happy about that.  Much less stress!  I managed to finagle my way into a good starting position, and when the whistle blew, I went hard, putting all the start practice I've been doing to good use.  I was sitting fourth or fifth wheel as we hit the grass, and managed to move up pretty fast to third.  I sat in third for the first half, then found myself in second, only a few seconds off of the winner.  The course was tough- 2 sets of barriers, a hill run up, a stair run up, some mud, and lots and lots of technical cornering.  Still, it was fun!  I couldn't close the gap between myself and first, which I believe was primarily a psychological issue as opposed to a real race issue.  So, I got my first ever second place CX finish, which included a medal, some oatmeal (!) and arm-warmers.  Stoked!!

Very excited about my first 'cross medal!  2nd place, heck yeah!
After that, I stayed and watched Matt and Blake- Blake did awesome and ended up third in B's- and watched all my track buddies race before heading home.

Blake, the one who got me into bike racing, taking a barrier.  He also took me to my first cross race 6 years ago!

Matt about to flawlessly go over the barriers!
Matt chasing down the competition.
Sunday was just me driving up to Harriman, but I was ok with it.  It was another great day and the drive was gorgeous.  I got there, got myself somewhat warmed up (Matt on Saturday: "Rutgers Cycling doesn't do warmups!") and race-ready.  The pressure was on!

Got to the line and ready to go, feeling a little nervous about the newly-reversed course with even more mud than Saturday.  55+ men went out before us, and the announcer didn't give us a 30 second warning, just blew the whistle.  That threw me off, but I managed to sprint out and get up in the top 4 as they broke off from the main pack.  About a quarter mile in, we hit the hill run-up and I passed two women to get into second place.  I followed the first place woman closely until she missed a turn and hit the tape, then sprinted out hard, trying to separate from 3rd and 4th.  It worked, and I held first place from midway through lap one until the end of the race, beating 2nd place by almost 2 minutes.  It was HARD!  I just kept pushing and trying to extend my lead, worried that if I crashed, I would lose it.  Luckily, that didn't happen. 

Despite no teammates being at the race, Blake and my track friends were there cheering.  At one point, I saw Blake and he yelled "go faster!" and I yelled back, "I'm in first, what more do you want!?"

After the race, the second place woman came up, hugged me, told me my barriers and remounts were amazing, and yelled at me for beating her by 2 minutes.  It was great!  So many of the women came up to congratulate me and (I think it's a good thing) claim that I was "an animal" on the course.  Hooray!

So, finally, it seems like I don't totally suck at cyclocross.  I'm really happy to finally have a few good results under my belt- the first win of the season on the team!  I'm feeling really good now, totally stoked for Granogue next weekend.

And, of course, with "great power comes great responsibility," and now I have to really go all out in training now.  Not like I wasn't before, but I feel like the pressure is on.  I was talking to Joe, a Team Somerset guy, and I said I was glad I was getting competent at CX, and he said, "not just competent... confident."  And he's right.  I feel much better about racing, and I think that's going to make a huge difference in the way I race.  At least, I hope so.

New favorite CX advice from Adam Myerson, cross guru and collective team crush: "If you're not sprinting out of every corner for 60 minutes [or 40 minutes, ed.] like it's the last lap of a crit, you're doing it wrong." 

One final picture, and my personal favorite: