Thursday, April 30, 2009

I just rode in and boy my legs are tired!

So much riding outside in the good weather all this week! By Wednesday I had sort of snapped out of my slump, and Ricardo and I went on a modified A loop hill ride (3 big big hills and 33 or so miles of riding) after I had done a thirty minute run. I felt pretty solid on the hills, especially towards the end. As we were going up Washington Road, I realized that I wasn't working very hard at all, and still moving pretty quick, so I pushed a little harder and realized it was a lot easier than the other two hills had felt, even though it was longer and steeper with a wicked switchback.

Two and a half hours later, Ricardo and I made it home, tired but feeling good. I ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich, stretched, and headed to the pool, where I swam for an hour and talked to the guy who used to run the Masters Swim program. They ceased to exist, but a lot of the members swim three times a week. I asked if I could tag along for a set sometime, and he said yes. I have reservations about it though- they use a ton of gear like flippers and I'm not crazy about that, plus (honestly) they didn't seem all that friendly. I think I'll continue to watch them from afar, though I will try to hang in when they're just doing freestyle sets. It'd be cool to have people to swim with and an actual swim workout that isn't just "swim for 60 minutes."

After that, I did a weight set and rode home. Felt pretty exhausted though, so I actually fell asleep while Robbie was rubbing my legs for me!

Found out that Karina can't race Saturday, so no team time trial for us- meaning that I can drive with my parents and Robbie on Saturday morning instead of leaving Friday night. It's a bummer we can't race, but at least it makes my life easier.

Today Karina and I went for a first bridge ride, after I spent the morning around New Brunswick and Piscataway running errands. We threw a few sprints into an otherwise relaxed ride (well, relaxed for us anyway). I'm going to be seriously bummed when she leaves for Germany for a few weeks!

I'm really psyched about the road race at Penn State this weekend, though I wish B women got to race more than 20 miles. But like Karina said, "you can just sprint the whole thing." The ECCC banquet Saturday night should be a lot of fun as well, and I'm really looking forward to the weekend. I'm going to seriously miss collegiate racing over the summer- it won't be the same at races without the usual cast of characters, and I'll especially miss my racing sister!! Don was right, we really are a family, and I'm going to be super homesick without them. At least cyclocross isn't too far off!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Less Than Stellar Monday

Today was amazing outside, but I think adjusting to this heat has made me feel sort of sluggish and down. Went for a short swim and did a weight set this morning. The weight set felt good but I was pretty exhausted by the time I got in the pool.

Got home, made oatmeal and got some work accomplished. Interviewed a guy about a Green Tech Ph.D program for an article I'm working on. I'm not a huge fan of phone interviews, but this one wasn't too bad. Now I just have to write the article...

Then, off to class. Nothing worse than a sweaty ride to an un-air-conditioned classroom. The ride was great but the class sucked, being tired and sweaty and generally uncomfortable. But afterwards, we got to stop at the farmer's market for tofu, honey, and watermelon. You know it's summer when you get to eat watermelon!!

Then, off to a 5pm first bridge with Don, Jay and another Rutgers Cycling dude (who's name I unfortunately totally forgot, oops)! I felt good riding, but mentally, it felt like something was just off. Maybe it was the heat, maybe I was just in a weird mood, but it was a pretty uninspired ride. I got a decent workout, but just wasn't happy about the ride in general- I just wasn't 'in the zone' I guess.

On the bright side, got to eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich for dinner.

Feeling sort of annoyed about my weight again. It's so hard to lose just a couple of pounds when every weekend I'm racing, so I can't really cut that many calories. Still, the eliminating junk food thing hasn't been too bad thus far, so I can't complain. If anything, I don't feel like I'm doing enough, but at the same time, cutting more calories will make me even more tired. I think once we move it'll be easier to clean up my diet even more. Right now, I'm doing all that I can, it's just hard to accept sometimes that my body is never going to get super skinny. I'm really muscular and I'm a small person, so while I have low body fat, I'm never going to be as skinny as some pros. On the up side, I really am starting to resemble a lot of elite female triathletes- the muscular ones at least. I have lost weight and my stomach and arms are slowly getting even more defined, it's just taking longer to see real results that I would have hoped. Still, it's not like I've been trying that long. It's just weird that with the insane amount of training that I do that I have any weight to lose, considering it's not like I eat all that much. Oh well.

So to sum up: crappy day on a lot of fronts. My legs feel beat, my self-esteem is gone, and I'm super frustrated.

Rant over. Tomorrow should be cheerier.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Best Weekend Ever!

(Warning: seriously long post, but well worth it to describe such a great couple of days.)
This weekend was incredible!

Seriously. We left Friday at 8, 7 of us squeezing ourselves, our bikes, an air mattress, and pillows and blankets into one Rutgers van. It was impressive! The cast included: Chris, Dave Kim, Karina, Zen, Charlie, and myself. Of course, the bikes are the most important part, so:

After a very long drive, we got to our Motel 6 and settled in for the night, knowing we'd be up in only a few short hours. Morning came fast, but instead of being bummed about waking up, I was super psyched to get out and race. After all, it was 65 and sunny by 7 in the morning! It only got warmer and nicer as the day progressed (ok, maybe a bit too warm.)

My collection of stuff: (note the running shoes, bike shoes, and ever important flip-flops, as well as the pink changing skirt, Rudy Project helmet, Rutgers kit, camera case, and god knows what else stuffed in my incredible Bailey Works bag that never fails to astonish me with how much it holds.)

Anyway, we got there and Karina and I got ready for our 7 mile rolling team time trial. I was feeling pretty good, so I took the first pull. I managed to clip in with no problems (yay) and we were off to a great start. I pushed it the whole way, and I think our average speed was around 21 mph, with highs of 26 and lows of only 18. Still, we figured we'd be one of the last teams, since there are only 2 of us and most teams have 4 women on them. So when results came in, we were amazed to see:
3rd place!

After that race, we started getting ready for our 36 mile long road race- 4 9 mile loops, with one huge hill. I felt good but was wishing that I had a second water bottle cage. I had to fill my only bottle with Tango Mango Gu2O, which tastes awesome, though not as good warm...

The race started well, I was staying with the pack for the first few miles easily. Then, the hill. At first, it seems like a short steep incline. Then, when you think you're done, you realize that there's another just like it. And then another. This is the one time I missed my Trek with it's granny gear. My Cannondale doesn't do that- it's too manly, so I was standing while other girls were spinning in their granny gears. Still, managed to catch the dwindling pack easily and keep up. By the second lap, I realized that I should start drinking, so I did. Only to find that I couldn't swallow, thanks to all the crap in my throat. It felt like I had an entire Gu pack that I couldn't swallow lodged in my throat. All I wanted was water, but warm Mango was all I had. I took a sip, and immediately felt like I was starting to throw up. Bad sign. So, I stopped drinking it. 36 miles with only about 2 oz of fluid from my bottle gone by the end. Yikes.

Last lap, Karina and I took the lead for a couple miles. Being up front is so much fun! Then, the hill hit. I was dehydrated and pushing as hard as I could but falling behind. Got behind the pack with 5 miles to go. They were about 30 seconds ahead of me after the hill, and I passed a few that fell back, but couldn't catch back on, so I was alone for the rest of the circuit. Finally, finish line in sight, I pushed as hard as I could and finished behind Karina, who was at the back of the pack, ahead of me by around 30 seconds- meaning I hadn't lost any time on the pack since the hill, which rules considering I was almost entirely solo. We got 15th and 16th, and I was super pissed about missing points, but such is life. Drank about a gallon of water, threw up, then did a 20 minute hellish run.

Pizza Hut and watching Just Married at the hotel was a pretty great way to spend the night and relax before the insane crit the next day.

Women's B was the third group on the course, which was great because it meant that before 10 AM we would be done for the day and could relax and cheer everyone else on. I wasn't feeling great, still dehydrated a bit and generally feeling sluggish, but I was hoping I'd snap out of it. The crit course was a very very crappy road, an even crappier turn onto a (you guessed it) even crappier hill. So many potholes! Then, a downhill, a turn, and start over again- a ~1 mile loop. I started ok, hanging with the pack. Then, a couple of loops in, the worst case scenario happened- a girl crashed on the turn after the downhill, took a few girls out with her, and started screaming "my back!" I was behind her and just managed to avoid it, but the sound of the crash and her saying that just shot all of the adrenaline out of my body and my legs pretty much turned to mush. I tried to hang in, and did a decent job, but my legs were just sluggish and unresponsive. I didn't drink because I was working so hard to catch up, but I think that worked against me, since I was dehydrated from the start. I was in a lower gear pedaling faster than normal but couldn't keep up. I ended up getting 24th, Karina got 18th, so I wasn't totally unhappy, since the field was in the 40's. I just hope that the other girl who crashed is ok!

I talked to Charlie afterwards, and he told me that it's weird because I have a style of pedaling and pushing bigger gears and timing for switching gears that they've never seen before. I guess it's from triathlon, trying to use more power but less cardiovascular for the bike to save my legs for the run. That and it's how dad rides.

After I ate and drank some more and started feeling better so I went for a 45 min run along the time trial course:
View of my new haircut from the road: (I didn't mean to take this picture, I was just swinging my camera phone around to get the scenery and got this!)
And came back to this: (Charlie is wearing the changing skirt that I made for him, but we had to trim it down because it was too long, leaving him with this gorgeous ensemble. Sexy, right? Rutgers Cyling: Always Classy)

And at the end of the day, I was looking like this: (very sweaty, very suntan-lotion covered, very unshowered, and very happy)

I survived a long ride home, including a ridiculously roundabout but totally worth it trip to Taco Bell, and finally got home to my bed, my shower, and my ridiculously good recovery Powerbar in chocolate-caramel-peanut-butter amazing-ness.

This morning, I staggered out of bed, rode over to the gym, swam alone for an hour, then went for an hour of cornering practice in the park (including some turnaround practice for the next time trial) and ran 30 minutes. I'm feeling recovered and back in action after all of my various medical problems. My run isn't amazing yet, but it's getting so much better. It feels great ot be back to (almost) normal, and just in time for the great weather!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Gonna be a Loooong Summer

I'm officially a bi-team kinda gal. And by that, I mean I actually joined the Somerset Wheelmen (Team Somerset). I have an awesome new kit with stuff in women's sizes, which is fantastic, and some super cool armwarmers. But more important, I met a lot of really great people last night, and as it turns out, one of the women on the team actually went to high school with my mom's brother, and used to live in Annandale, so she grew up playing basketball and hanging out with my dad and his brother.

I found this out when she nudged me during the meeting and asked me "so, which one are you?" Oddly enough, being from Hunterdon County, I knew that the answer was "Dave's daughter, not Steve's." (This is a good thing, as the response is usually "Oh thank god.")

Long story short, I joined the team, am riding in their time trial on May 9, and am fully expecting to kick ass for this awesome bunch of serious cyclists. It's cool to (sorry to anyone on the team) hang out with older cyclists. I love the college kids, obviously, but there's a huge font of knowledge with this crew that I'm super psyched to tap into. There's an ex-bike shop owner that Betty told me can look at my bike fit, and a lot of people who know people at Bicycling magazine.

My (cycling) race season will now last all summer instead of ending May 3rd. Awesome.

Other than that, Wednesday was really good. Had a hour and a half trainer ride in the morning followed by a 30 min run for a short brick, and my legs felt really good after. No pain while running!

In fact, I did so well that in the afternoon I went running for 45 min with Stephanie. Then, off to the gym for 30 min of weights and a 30 min swim. By the swim, I was pretty beat though. I guess since I've cut out candy and chocolate, I'm taking in a lot less calories than I was before. I didn't realize just how much crap I was eating during the day between classes and work and training. So I'm trying to add on more snacks, but it's hard to think in terms of eating more while dieting. I did stop on the way home and got a Nesquick chocolate milk- protein and carbs, and while it's not a super low fat or healthy chocolate milk, it was the best the Krauzers had to offer and I had to make it to the Wheelmen meeting on time.

Moral of the story: all the fruits and veggies I've been eating are great, but with my training especially on Tuesday and Wednesday when it's over 4 hours, I really need to boost caloric intake by a lot if I'm not eating mini-Snickers between classes.

Today, Karina and I went for a ride, and I realized how much I'm going to miss her when she goes to Germany for a few weeks this summer! I have so few girlfriends, and NO other girlfriends to ride with. On the bright side, we talked about how much ass we're going to kick this weekend at the team time trial on Saturday at MIT. (75 and sunny is the forecast. Perfect.)

I made plans to go to SBR as soon as possible so Blake can help me find a wetsuit, so I'll be totally set for the 23rd. I'm also making plans for figuring out my life next year: meeting with the grad school advisor on Monday, talking to my boss soon, getting ready to move into Robbie and my new apartment in a little over a month.

Basic plan: pay rent, pay for school, race as much as possible, freelance as much as possible, have an amazing tri season this summer, and take care of my apartment/kitchen starting in June. It'll be great.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More New Goals

So I got a look at the tri coming up May 23. It's a 1/4 mile swim, 12 mile bike and 5k run. The site says that it's "flat and fast." Fantastic.

Today was all right. Did yoga, had an interview to conduct for a class, got yummy black bean soup and bread from Panera for lunch, got to bike to class and to the gym in the lovely sunshine, had a great weight session at the gym, and then got to use the trainer for an hour and a half, getting super sweaty and gross but enjoying myself a great deal.

I think in the next month I need to:
1- get a wetsuit
2- get used to said wetsuit
3- practice transitions
4- work on swim
5- work on speedy runs

In keeping with this, I decided that instead of just doing recovery swims a couple times a week, I was going to start doing 150 yards of breathing on my left (I'm getting a little better already!) and sprinting for 400 yards, making sure I'm not totally wasted by the end. I'm hoping to be able to do the 1/4 m swim in around 6 minutes. So, today after not having really been seriously swimming for about 3 months, I did my first 400 yard swim in the middle of my 30 min swim after my weight set. Now, I know a lot of swimmers won't consider this particularly impressive, but I was pretty psyched. I finished in 6:23 feeling good after, and I think that with 3-4 swims per week I should be able to get it down by race time.

I need to get back to my running. Right now, it's been maintenance, so I need to spend some serious time working on my speedwork and trying for a sub-20 min 5k, which I should be able to do.

I'm a lot less worried about the bike. But I am going to try to start doing bricks by running 1-3 miles after cycling races in the coming weeks.

Hopefully I can get a wetsuit soon so I can go to Spruce Run and work on transitions.

This race should be great for learning what areas that I really need to focus on for the NJ State Tri and the Spruce Run sprint in September. And it'll be cool to race with people from Rutgers that are my age.

So in short, I'm really psyched. This is going to be awesome. Assuming I can get a wetsuit and my legs don't cramp, that is. I have high hopes for this one though!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Hoooooo Boy.

I know it's pathetic. I know it's lame.

But I seriously miss cookies.

I had a protein bar, I had strawberries, and they were great. I had peanut butter with carrots this afternoon and I remembered how delicious that combination is. I had pita with hummus, cucumbers, and peppers and it was lovely. I had scrambled eggs and a bagel for breakfast and it ruled. And I had veggie lasagna with half tofu/half cheese that mom made Robbie and I, which was lovely. But I still really really miss my baked goods and chocolate!

It's a tough adjustment but I'm just trying to remind myself how great it'll be once I can lose a few pounds and get down to my preferred race weight. I have every intention of going nuts and buying a ton of awesome new swimsuits and tri stuff if I manage to get down to the right weight by the end of May. It's totally worth it.

Anyway, pity party aside... today was a mixed bag training-wise. I woke up at 7 and ran to the gym. Amazingly, it didn't hurt at all! My hips actually felt ok. Then, met Don to go swimming, and as always, had a great time. An hour later, got out, showered, and ran back. I was so happy that it didn't hurt! Finally, I think I'm almost totally recovered from the marathon- took me long enough!

Did an hour and a half of intervals on the trainer because the weather sucked. My legs felt tired, but I don't know if it was boredom or legitimate tiredness.

Either way, I totally need to HTFU and stop moping about missing eating yummy stuff. I can get through this month and change my eating habits, and I can easily drop down to race weight. I may be doing a tri May 23 with some kids that are in a "triathlon class" at the Rutgers fitness center. It might be kind of cool, though I'm worried I may need to get a wet suit. It'll be a good gauge for figuring out what to focus on when I transition from cycling season to tri season though- and the open water swim will let me know how much I need to focus on that before the NJ State Tri. It could be fun- gettig the email about it from the tri class coach made me realize how much I miss triathlons. Bike racing is awesome and a huge part of my life, but I definitely miss my multisport life!

So I need to get back to running more, and quick!!

In the meantime, motivate me, please!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Weekend Without Racing Isn't a Weekend.

I had to miss Dartmouth this weekend, and I admit, I was pretty disappointed to not be racing. Still, it gave me a chance to catch up on a few things:
1. making changing skirts for the team
2. seeing the Hannah Montana movie with my sister
3. getting the new Triathlete magazine
4. finishing a Native American lit paper
5. fixing my front derailleur on the Cannondale because it wasn't shifting right
6. sitting on the porch with mom and chatting for a while

Also, 50 mile ride in the amazing weather yesterday! I went from my house to Stockton, passing through Frenchtown. Along the Delaware is relatively flat, but the ride to Frenchtown and then home again is very very hilly. And along the river was super windy! A bee hit me in the face as I was going down a hill and it felt like a rock.

I got an amazing sunburn/tan on my arms (pictures asap) so there's an amazingly prominent line where my jersey was. Awesome.

After the ride, I put on my sneakers and ran a few minutes to the Bagelsmith to get a Gatorade, leaving a hose in my trash can so by the time I got back, it was half full of very chilly water. I sloshed in and stayed there for a good half hour. Chilly!

The ice bath worked better than I could have hoped, and instead of being sore after the ride, I actually felt pretty good!

Today was less awesome. I had job training, so I woke up, hung out with the parents and worked on changing skirts, then headed to New Brunswick. Biked to Livingston for the job training, which lasted a few hours, and afterwards I went to the gym. Elliptical because I didn't want to run after yesterdays ride, since my hip was bothering me, then some weights, then elliptical again. My hip started hurting, so I switched to the stationary bike and just did some serious spinning for half an hour. It wasn't anywhere near as good as racing, but at least I didn't feel too lazy.

Went grocery shopping and stocked up on stuff like cottage cheese, strawberries, pineapple, and other healthy things that I can eat instead of cookies and candy at night. I also got Pure Protein chocolate bars, 20 g protein wiht only 200 calories, so when the chocolate cravings hit, I can have one of those. I think that even after this month, that's what I'll do. Honestly, they may not taste amazing but I don't really mind eating them instead of candy bars.

Two days without any crappy dessert food, so I'm doing good- let's just see if this VERY stressful week goes as well as this weekend. I have 2 papers, all of my tutoring students are on their last week and final papers so they'll be nuts, Robbie and I have to interview a guy for a class, I have to set up interviews for 2 different stores, meet with the woman I'm a research assistant for, Wednesday is the Somerset Wheelmen team meeting (I'm probably going to join them for racing this summer), and this weekend is the race at MIT, so I want to get in as many really solid rides as I can. It's going to be a rough week.

Is it next Sunday yet?

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's that time of year...

You know what I'm talking about. It's race weight time!

(Insert groan and sniffle here.)

That's right. I waited until now because I wanted to test the waters of bike racing before starting any serious dieting regimen, since I didn't want to end up seriously underfueled and seriously grumpy. That and holidays like Valentines Day, Easter, St. Patrick's Day, Robbie's birthday, et cetera, have been happening the last few months. But no more! The last of the Reeses and Cadbury eggs have been eaten, the raisin bread polished off, and the refridgerator all but empty. Perfect time to start.

I decided that the fastest way to shed the last couple of pounds before tri and non-collegiate seasons start is to just cut out all candy, chocolate, and baked goods (bagels excluded for obvious athlete on the go reasons) for a month. Since I eat like crap right now, I figure that's anywhere from 400 to (pathetic) 800 calories a day that are going tobe getting cut, replaced by whole grains, extra protein and fruits. Kill me now.

I've been saying for ages that I need to improve my nutrition. This time, I mean it!

So, this means:
1. No baked goods, no candy, no chocolate through May
2. More protein, more fruit, more veggies
3. Keep a food diary for this month
4. Actually get on a scale weekly

I should explain: I loathe scales. With a burning passion. I used to not mind them, when all I cared about was maintaining a decent shape. But since I got serious about training, I tend to put on weight instead of losing it, and I tend to not lose it very easily. The problem, of course, is that I gain muscle mass really really quickly, so it's frustrating to lose inches but gain pounds. Ideally though, I'd like to drop about 5 lbs before the end of the month. It's just hard when training and racing so much!

It's also tough when sharing a fridge and pantry with 5 other guys, especially when there are shows at the house. This means a)people eat my food, b) I have minimal storage space, and c) the kitchen is gross as all hell. I cannot wait for June when Robbie and I can have a nice, neat kitchen where we can keep all of our food, as opposed to now, where we have to hide stuff in our tiny tiny room.

So yeah. Any motivation would be appreciated, and apologies to any of you that I see on a regular basis- anything I do in the next month is under the influence of severe lack of chocolate in my bloodstream!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

There's a Reason my Swimsuit says KILLA on the Ass.

Yesterday was a pretty great day.

I ran for the first time in a week and a half. The first two blocks felt pretty awful, and my hips were hurting, but I kept going and after a few minutes, I felt fine. It was a short run- 30 min- but I didn't want to push my legs yet. Still, it felt good.
Then, I hopped on the trainer for 30 min- sort of a reverse brick so I could cool down. Showered, then realized I still had dirt in my ears from the wet and muddy ride the day before.

Later, did another hour of intervals while watching Bridget Jones Diary. Great fight scene in that movie!

Headed to the gym for a swim, and was really not looking forward to it. I was just going for an hour by myself, and not exactly thrilled. The first 20 minutes were great because I had the lane to myself, but naturally, a breast-stroker (minds outta the gutter!) got in the lane with me. Another 15 minutes passed with me dodging kicks to the head.

Then, for some reason, a gaggle of girls in what I have to assume was some swim club (given the 20 or so people standing together looking super fit and ready to swim hard) got in the lane next to me. They started going, and my competitive instincts kicked in. First, I passed the slower girl. Then, the medium girl. Then, I figured I only had 18 minutes to go, so I took on the fast girl.

All I could think of was that my suit reads "killa" on the ass and has the grim reaper on the front, so I had an obligation to be awesome. They were going 300 meter sets and stopping, but I kept swimming at the same fast pace for the last 25 min of the set. It felt great- normally I'm just swimming as a rest from biking and to keep my swimming skills intact, but this time, I was legitimately swimming hard. Finished strong, got out, and headed for the gym to cool down on the bike- finally, a correct brick!

After that, 30 minutes of weights. Lots of abs and arms, but I noticed 2 bodybuilder types on the leg press putting up ~450 lbs. Feeling cheeky, I decided to hang around until they finished their set. They must have noticed, because I saw them glance at me and start talking. Finally, one asked if I was waiting. I said yes, and they said they were done and started taking weights off. "Oh, don't bother," I said and slid into the seat. They looked at each other and stepped back.

10 reps later, one of the guys was turned around doubled over laughing and the other was just staring. I stopped. "Well, you just made me look like an asshole," the one guy said.


"My friend bet me that you'd put up the same weight as me and I said there was no way in hell."

"I can put up way more than that if I'm trying and don't have to ride home or again in the morning."

So I did another 15 reps, laughed, and walked away, leaving them staring. It felt awesome.

I think that I'm joining a non-collegiate team (Somerset Wheelmen) so I have a team to race with locally over the summer. I'm also doing a time trial in Readington with them in May, and the Giro Di Jersey, a 3 day stage race starting the day after my birthday. Of course, Rutgers Cycling will always be my #1 priority, but I'd like to branch out a bit too. The women on the team seem super nice, at least via email, and I'm going to a meeting next Wednesday. I figure if I'm ever going to start a tri team or do any coaching, the more credentials I have, the better!

Either way, I'm bummed I'm missing racing this weekend for job training and family life, but I expect great things at MIT next weekend. This weekend off is just what I need to refocus, I think.

Also, after this weekend, no more baked goods or candy for a month. Gotta get to serious race weight!

I somehow got the theme song from Friends stuck in my head, and now I really really miss my best friend from high school. Maybe a road trip to Rhode Island is in order as soon as the semester ends...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cold, Wet, Rainy, Awesome.

It seems like the best rides are those in crappy weather with good friends. Today, I woke up, did yoga, and then sat around and was unproductive until almost 2 pm when Robbie and I had class. I was feeling hideously unproductive and sluggish. Right before we left for class, I got an email from Karina asking if anyone wanted to ride this afternoon. I figured why not and emailed her back.

Turns out it was just what I needed. The time was set for a "spirited paced" first bridge ride, and I was committed to going.

Karina, Pat, Don, Mark, Ricardo and I set out (after a mishap with Don's tire delayed us by a few minutes) in the misty gloomy day. We got a few miles in and Mark's tire went flat, leaving us hanging around a gas station parking lot for a few minutes while he fixed it. (Note to self: carry spare tube on these rides! Also, pump.)

It started to rain progressively more, but we endured. At the crazy Bound Brook traffic circle, half of us took the sidewalk, and the more foolhardy (myself included) took the bridge. It has metal grating, and in the rain, Karina and I were wobbling across it nearly falling, scaring ourselves to death. My heart was racing when we finally got over it and all I could think was "oh thank God we stayed upright." I don't want to think about what may have happened if we fell.

Then, the pace picked up. For a while we were a pack, but then Ricardo, Pat and Don started to get ahead. I- again, foolhardy- decided to try to bridge back up alone. So for two miles (ish), the chase was on. I was only a couple hundred yards behind them when they turned in traffic and I had to wait for cars to come. We all grouped back up then, but I was pretty psyched that I kept a pretty steady gap between us the whole time I was riding alone.

We rode together for a while, then hit sprinting again. This time, Pat, Karina and Ricardo started. I was with them until a pothole made Ricardo swerve, and in swerving behind him, a gap opened. It didn't open too much, and I was about 50 yards behind them, but couldn't catch back on.

The rest of the ride was cold and wet and the water splashing off of the tires of the bike in front of you was insane. I've never been so happy to take the turn that brings us to Easton Ave. I led a few times- something that I haven't done often on group rides- and I think that in all, I did really well. My hip and knee were definitely feeling it by the end, but it was well worth it. I needed that kick to get up and get moving. Most of the ride, even the painful catch-ups, I was grinning.

When I got back, I walked in the house dripping wet and freezing cold. Jay looked at me and said, "you look like a human sponge." I klomped back to the porch, wrung myself out, and stood in a hot shower until I had feeling in my toes again.

Not only do I have feeling in my toes, I have a lot of really great feelings about my life (cycling and non-cycling aspects) again! And all it took was a nearly 2 hour ride in the rain to get there.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What a Week...

I don't know where to start.

Last week is sort of a huge blur- I was at the conference, I had to work, training was screw-y, and I had a ton of stuff for classes. Then, Easter weekend. So here's the break down:

  • Tuesday I had work all day. We were helping out with the various pickets at state worker agencies, so I was taking photo and video all day. So many people outside picketing and chanting, it made me nostalgic for the crazy punk days where I would protest anything!
  • Wednesday morning I went on a hill ride with Chris and Ricardo. It was the route we took when I crashed in February, so I was a little nervous. When we were on our way home after an hour and a half, I thought, "wait, where are the hills?" I was expecting so much worse, but in the past month I've gotten so much better!
  • The Health and Science Journalism conference started on Wednesday late afternoon, so I biked up to the University Inn where everyone was staying. Had a terrible vegetarian dinner- when will people learn that vegetarians need protein and don't just eat vegetables cooking in oil?! Chatted and schmoozed and had a decent time, but I was totally beat when I got home at night.
  • Thursday was the trip to New York for the conference, seeing the Wall Street Journal and New York Times science editors. I think that for me, it wasn't as interesting as it was for the out of state conference attendees. NYC is much less exciting when you used to be there nearly every day, particularly when you actually used to work for a big media company as a journalist. But it was still fun!
  • Frustrating not getting to train at all on Thursday, except the 30 min riding to and from the conference. Bummer.
  • Friday we visited the Merck laboratories, and heard a LOT about pharmaceuticals. Not really my thing. However, had fun at the banquet that night (I dressed up and my professor saw me and goes, "wow, you look... you look GREAT!").
  • Got my $1000 check and award, made Rutgers proud by striking an awesome pose when we were taking pictures with the awards.
  • My stomach started to hurt, and I started thinking about the eggplant I'd had for lunch.
  • Then, went home and passed out at midnight, all in preparation for...
I woke up in the middle of the night and realized something was wrong. Then I realized the problem was that I was dry heaving in bed. I stumbled to the bathroom, threw up, and passed out again. Not a way to start a race day! I thought about staying home, but decided to HTFU and go anyway.
Dad and I were up bright and early on Saturday morning. (Well, not bright. It was 3:30 AM.)
The trip to New Haven took about 3 hours, counting the rest stops, but it wasn't too bad. I love Dad, he let me sleep most of it. My stomach was still hurting and I felt sick but not quite as bad as a few hours prior. We beat the rest of the team there, but by the time I got registered, they had showed up.

The hill time trial was first, and I wasn't feeling too psyched. I started, felt sluggish, and tried to speed up. My body wasn't interested, and I pushed my way through a bit over 4 miles of hills trying not to puke. I made it to the top a few seconds behind the girl who started 20 seconds in front of me, so I wasn't doing too bad.
We rode down together and I think that I made a friend- Meg form U Del is pretty awesome, and like me, has a lot of knee problems and has trouble running. I'm trying to convince her to hobble through a brick with me in two weeks at MIT after our race.
I placed 26th, which was about mid-pack, so it wasn't too bad of an ending, just a generically unimpressive one.

We made it back to the car after the race just as it started to rain. We hoped it would pass, but no such luck. A few hours later, I was feeling a little better and warming up for the circuit race. Dad was at the start so he could let us know when first call was. First and second calls were pretty close together though, so Karina and I ended up toward the back.
The race started and we were totally drenched in minutes. I shouldn't have worn so many layers, they just weighed me down once they saturated.
I stayed with the pack, as did most of the girls, and I think we were all focusing on the last mile or two of the race when we'd climb the hill from the time trial again in a race for the finish.
I practiced moving around in the pack, practiced pack dynamics, remembering to yell if we were slowing (with the rain slicked roads, you had to warn people.)
I need to work on sprinting out of corners, but in all, I was doing really well. The yellow line rule left very little chance to get up to the front of the pack, so I sat fairly comfortably in the same position about mid-pack for most of the race, getting closer to the front on hills and falling behind on the curving downhill.
We hit the hill and Karina and I were next to each other again, urging each other on. We hit the second to last switchback, and I pushed hard to stay fast.
My legs felt like lead, and my chest felt like it was going to explode. Then, I saw two girls in front of us and completely forgot how much I was dying, how hard it was to breathe, and went for it. I could hear Karina yelling and I passed both girls before we hit the finish line.
Karina whizzed by me on the long way down to the start, but I took my time on the very winding downhill.
Got back totally soaked and starting to get very cold. What a week to forget my towel! Luckily, the school we were at actually had bathrooms open, so there was a decent place to get changed.
Girl's locker rooms make me happy- after a race where we're all trying very hard to beat each other and trying to pass and yelling, we're all super nice and sweet once we're getting out of wet clothes. Girls are lending each other socks, talking, laughing. It's great to be in this kind of community.
I found out that I finished 14th, and I'm pretty happy with that. I wish I had been able to move up before the hill because then I would have been in the lead group heading up, but like I said, it was almost impossible to get up that much before it. But in all, I'm happy with the result.

Riding with mild food poisoning is a dumb but ultimately awesome idea.

Today, Don and I went swimming (well, aquajogging, since he was hella late and we wanted to catch up) and he said something as we were leaving. We were talking about some guys on the team (all good things!) and he said, "yeah- the Charlies are like my brothers. And you're my sister."

It's funny, because a few days ago, I was thinking the same thing, though different family relations (Karina is my sister, Pat's my kid brother that can kick my ass, Cristian is the loud cousin that took you to your first punk show, Don is the cousin that might as well be your brother, etc.). We're one very screwed up family tree, and I love it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Escape from Reality

Yesterday was sort of a downer. Got up, rode the trainer for an hour because there was a huge thunderstorm, had to walk to tutoring because of the rain, galoshes hurt my feet, walking hurt my hip, tutoring was very slow, and I was just feeling unproductive and downright lazy. Ate lunch while watching Frasier instead of getting work done, and then after my last tutoring session, finally got some work done (handed in paperwork for a new part time job for the fall, etc.) and rolled off to the gym.
Got in the pool and felt sluggish for the first 25 minutes. My right arm still feels a bit off, though it doesn't hurt as much now. Then, Cristian showed up and saved the day- or the swim set, at least. Having someone to swim next to makes things go so much faster, and racing Cristian is even better. Made it through the hour, but I'm psyched to get back to Monday recover swims with Don starting next Monday bright and early! I miss the race talk and advice... (Not that I don't get it from my dad too, of course.)
Then, hit the gym but instead of running, I stuck to the elliptical. My hip still is really bugging me, so I'm trying to take a couple weeks off of running, for the most part. I think it's healing, just slower than I would prefer.
Did half an hour of weights and got falafel and fries for dinner. We didn't grocery shop this week because I'll be gone Wed-Fri except for sleeping. I'm going to this Health and Science Journalism conference, and it's "kind of a big deal," in terms of getting a chance to really meet some of the people in the industry. Eep- I should really get business cards!!
So this week is super light in terms of training, since today I'm at work and the next 3 days are pretty much packed. I got in a full training day yesterday and I will tomorrow morning before I leave for the conference, but Thursday is a rest day and Friday is just super light spinning. I think that last week's ride I did on Friday- just a super relaxed 60 min ride around Robbie's neighborhood did good with keeping my legs loose for the races.
Still need to figure out plans for Yale this weekend...

In the meantime, I also am starting to think about going a month without eating any baked goods, candy, or soda. I'd like to go down a few pounds before tri season really starts, but I don't want to be making big changes to my diet during this race season. I think I'll start in May...

Need to figure out what I'm doing with my life as well- I got into grad school here, so now it's a matter of how to go about paying for it, how long to take doing it, if I can race while doing it, and what kind of job I'll have. Yeesh.
My dad says that he thinks I should work enough to pay rent and expenses and take one class a semester for now, and really focus on racing while I can. My mom points out that I need health insurance, and wants me to go to grad school full time. The problem with that idea, of course, is that I can't afford full time grad school and I don't want to take out loans just yet. Not in this economy. So I'm just not sure. I keep putting off making decisions, but in my defense, grad school got back to me a month late, so I'm already behind. I know I'm living in New Brunswick, obviously, and I have a job tutoring and working at the computer labs. I just don't know what my course of action should be, and it makes me very nervous.

I'm just feeling beat this week- physically and mentally. At least the conference will provide a much needed break from real life for a while.

In more frivolous news, here is Don using the the changing skirt that I made for him (the one I made myself is pink with stars on it). I'm very proud of it, and so is he. ("Why would I change in a bathroom when I have this awesome skirt?")

Perhaps I can make a career out of this?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Hang in there!

Oh man.

What a good weekend.

It's been a very tiring, very long weekend, and I owe my dad, my mom, and all of my teammates huge thank you's. My dad got up at 4:30 both mornings in order to drive me to West Point and then back again- staying awake while I slept in the car on the way. My mom only came Saturday, but her cheering definitely pushed me to go harder. My teammates are becoming my second family, and without all of their advice and cheering and yelling before, during and after races, I doubt I could do nearly as well.

The first race of Saturday was dismal- it was freezing cold and wet out, and we got lost of the way there, leaving me with very little warm-up time. Karina got there at about the same time as I did, so we were in the same boat for the Team Time Trial. It was 7.5 miles of rolling hills and brutal wind, but it was so much fun. Karina led us out, since there was a corner and she's better at leading into them. Then, we were off. We worked well together, taking long pulls and working against the wind. The one shining moment was rocketing down a hill at 39 mph, in the drops, off the brakes. I was grinning ear to ear. When we headed into the final half mile, I hopped in front of Karina and yelled, "let's go!" and just gave it everything that I had.

We finished, and I looked at Karina and just said, "Man, that was fun." She told me I was crazy. We ended up 7th and got points for the team.

Then, froze for a few hours until the circuit race. It was cold, rainy, and I was in absolutely no mood to race. But I htfu'd as soon as I realized that my parents were willing to sit through the day, so I should be able to race and actually try to do well. I started towards the back of the pack, which was a mistake. When the race started, I was at a huge disadvantage, and the girls around me weren't holding lines and making it difficult and scary to move up. Before I knew it, we were on the windiest road that I had ever been on, and the back of the pack that I was in started to drift away from the main pack. Then, the hill. It was a super hard short climb, and it definitely separated the "men from the boys" (you know what I mean.)

Then, an insane downhill. My parents were waiting at the top of the short hill after it, and Dad was screaming "go harder! Catch that draft!" I listened and caught a girl, but then passed her. As I got back onto the windy stretch, I realized I had girls in my draft, quietly sitting in. I sped up, lost them, and grabbed a lovely girl from UNH (I think) that I spent a few laps hanging out with, working together. Then, Dad screamed (as I passed) "Karina's in front of you. Catch her!"

I finally caught her on the windy stretch with a couple laps to go, and passed her to give her a rest in my draft, saying, "hey, aren't you from that party school?"

For the rest of the race, we worked together, agreeing to cross the finish together.

It was fun racing together, but I'm super annoyed that I didn't stay with the pack. As Don said on Sunday, "you should have been with the pack. You had the fitness for it. What happened?"

So Sunday I was determined to not let that happen again.

Saturday night, Robbie and I were at a jazz performance that went til 11- his parents got us tickets for his birthday, and while it was great, I was totally exhausted when I got home.

Sunday morning came too fast, and I was totally beat. I wasn't the only one- Dad and I stopped at a rest area on the way and ran into Chris and his girlfriend getting coffee.

The first race was a 2.5 mile hill climb (!) ITT. Awesome. I was pretty psyched about it, since ITTs are like triathlon bike courses, which are sort of my thing... It was a ridiculous climb but it was awesome. I passed 4 people along the way, and wasn't passed until the very end by Sarah from Yale. I love her!! I sort of want to her be my best friend. She ended up placing second, so I don't begrudge her passing me. We were on a flat about a quarter mile from the finish, and her in front of me gave me someone to chase. It got bad when we were almost done and a huge hill came out of nowhere, going to the finish. I was in heavy gears and I was about to switch down, but a huge gust of wind came up and hit me squarely in the face. It kinda sucked, because I was so thrown off by the wind and hill that I took it slower than I could have. But the B women were congregated at the top, screaming and cheering the finishers on.

The ride back down to the start was terrifying. The downhills were a lot sharper than the uphill, and we had traffic to contend with. But it was totally worth it. I came in grinning. I wasn't sure how well I did or anything, but I was feeling great. I didn't expect a great placing because obviously most of the girls have more race experience on me, so when I was heading to the bathroom and Pat stopped me and said, "awesome job on the TT," I was confused. Then, I checked results and realized that I was 13th out of 44, and had gotten points for my team!

High fives ensued, of course, and I was absurdly happy.

I was less excited about the criterium, since corners aren't my friends, per se. But with Dad and Don both reminding me to stay with the pack and try to start in the middle, I was feeling ok about it. I admit, I got frustrated at being given the same advice by two people so many times, but I really needed it. The weather got a ton nicer, so I was hanging out in just bike shorts and a tank top, so my mood was great. I was still super nervous starting, but I made the goal to ride with the pack the entire time, and went for it, with Don and Dad's advice in my head the entire time. "Stay with the pack" was my chant for the first 3 laps, before I realized I was actually having fun and doing good, and could just totally let go.

Letting go of my fears of cornering and riding in a huge pack changed everything. I just didn't think about it and focused on staying on wheels for the first two laps. Feeling great, I started actually trying to move up, switch positioning, and actually be a bike racer. While I may have finished mid-pack, there were a few laps where I was at the head of the pack, which felt great. I think next time I can go harder and really try to do well, now that I know I can stay in the pack. I also know that I can start closer to the front, which made a big difference, I think. Dad spent the whole race right by the corner that was the toughest, and if I was falling back in the pack, he'd yell to move up. But mostly, he was just yelling, "All right! Stay with them!" or "Doing great Molly!" or "Hang in there!"

It was incredible. Riding in a pack really is more fun!

This weekend was a huge turning point for me- getting points in both time trials, finishing with Karina in the circuit race, and hanging with the pack on the crit just felt so good, and now I think I'm shifting from wanting to race in order to get better and just learn to race to wanting to actually do really well and win!

So while I can only race at Yale on Saturday and I'm missing the Dartmouth race the next weekend, I'm stoked to race at all! And I'm going to kick ass....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Oh man.

I had a great day yesterday and now I can't wait for this weekend. Karina and I will once again be time trialing, and hopefully kicking some serious ass. We have a great game plan: "go fast and win."

Yesterday I decided to wake up, do some hardcore yoga, and then do a non-weight weight set (read:abs!) Since Sunday's race, I've been feeling pretty 'blah.' I think it was fatigue and just not eating enough protein. That and the fact that my legs- especially my hip- are still recovering to some extent from the marathon, since running with cramping does even more damage to my legs than a normal runner does to theirs during a marathon. I was definitely off my game, and even an hour of swimming on Monday night felt like it was beating me up. I think I pulled a muscle in my arm, though it's healing pretty well. However, Tuesday afternoon was so nice, it perked me up and I realized that it was time to HTFU and get out of the slump I was resting in.

So, I decided to go to the sprint practice at 5, which wasn't meeting at its regular spot. Rather, the plan was to ride to Bound Brook and ride until we found a good place. It was super warm out, so I finally go to wear just bibs and my long sleeved jersey. I was the only girl, which was no surprise, but I was also the only person new to racing there. (Ricardo may be a D, but he's hella fast.) Everyone was well beyond my cycling abilities, in terms of handling and the obvious physical capabilities (i.e Will, Pat, Don, Ray, etc. All dudes with crazy raw power. And man, Ray's leg muscles are freakin' insane.)

Even just riding to Bound Brook along River Road, we were going a good 5 mph faster than we normally would on a typical ride. I kept up and was feeling pretty good. We slowly made our way around Bound Brook, scouting for good locations, but after 45 min, we decided to head towards a more industrial area to find an industrial parking lot to sprint in. We found an industrial area, and started heading into each parking lot, scouting them out. *This is where the ominous music starts to play.* Ricardo and I slowly traversed a parking lot, and when we came out and moved up to everyone else, we saw Will stretched out on the ground, bleeding a lot from the lip and chin. He had turned into a lot, not realizing that it was chained off, and hit the chain hard and went over it. It's always scary realizing just how dangerous biking can be, even for something that simple.

We waited for him to get picked up, and by then the sun was starting to set and it was getting pretty chilly. We had obviously missed our chance at sprint practice, so everyone decided to get home fast to make up for it and to warm back up. So we set off.

It was fast, it was hard, it was brutal, and I didn't think I was going to be able to keep up. With under a mile to go, I was breathinghard and having a very hard time hanging onto a wheel as we started pounding up a long hill. I ended up getting dropped for a few hundred yards, but Charlie slowed os we caught back on. At first, I felt super lame, getting dropped on a training ride. Then, it hit me: these are all GOOD guys and they are going hard and I'm almost keeping up.

When we slowed as we entered New Brunswick, Don told me he was very proud of me, and I realized that even though my legs were dying on the hill, they were already recovered and feeling great.

I got home and I was so happy with myself I ended up changing my facebook status to "feelin' awesome and proud," to which Pat commented, "I'm proud too, that was a hard fast haul back to school."

I'm getting there. Just wait for next Tuesday...