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.

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