Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year, Starting Right!

I know every year I make resolutions. But this year, I'm already on a very good track towards keeping them. After a lot of thought and inner debate, I decided that the smartest way to get ready for Ironman while not sacrificing road season, killing myself overtraining, and risking some injury, would be to hire a coach. Luckily, there was one right around the corner, or rather, right at the edge of the pool during the Fall semester. Keith Cook and I have known each other for a while, and he's seen me race- including at the half-Ironman in September- and he knows my goals and how serious I am about triathlon. Plus, he's an awesome guy who actually listens to what I want in my workout- more yoga, a real road season, and the Nautica Triathlon before Ironman.

We met a couple times, once for a terrific and very fun workout (TRX workout, so awesome and in 25 minutes hits your whole body), and a couple to sort of get an idea where the season is going. Yesterday, we made it official, and Monday will mark the beginning of a very long and very exciting training season. Hooray!

Not only is that starting, but my good friend from the team, Matt, and I made a new Year's resolution to go on a healthy eating diet together to drop to a good lean race weight for road season. Finally, someone to bitch to about how my diet is going. (If you were wondering: not great. 1 can of Mountain Dew a day is leaving me very caffeine deprived.) In addition, Matt has volunteered to be my training partner on rides and with weight training. Poor guy doesn't know what he's getting into...

And lastly, to complete the triage of good self-improvement news, my foot seems to be healed, and I've been back to running! Just every other day, with my longest run being 45 min thus far, but it feels great. Luckily, I don't think I lost too much speed or fitness, thanks to aquajogging, cyclocross, cross training, and a sweet elliptical that mimics natural running stride. Still, it's slow-going. I think I'm going to treat myself to a new pair of running shoes though. Any suggestions?

That means.... a return to blogging!

Thanks for bearing with me while I struggled through an off-season. I haven't read blogs, written in mine, or done anything that would make me miss training. Instead, I worked out when I felt like it, took rest days, got a tattoo (you can't swim for 2 weeks after you get one), cut my hair into what may or may not be a pseudo-mohawk, enjoyed Christmas with the family and Robbie, and vegged out. Ironically, I think I lost weight.

Christmas came and definitely boosted my excitement about training: I got a Garmin Forerunner 305, a pair of compression socks, a shirt my mom made that says "Kona or Bust" (an awesome nod to my great great uncle who biked cross country in the early 1900's and wrote a book called "Frisco or Bust"), a body stick (my quads are very happy), a shiatsu massage pillow (my back is also very happy), a Road ID (it says "hang in there hurf!" on it, a reference to a banner mom held for dad during his first triathlon) and a gift card to Eastern Mountain Sports (yak traks for running outside, yay!). Plenty of other great stuff, but those were the athletic highlights of the year. (My mom before Christmas: "is there anything on your list not sports related?" me: "no.")

But anyway, my New Year's Resolutions:

1. Blog more. This will happen on it's own, I think, once I get back into a training groove. It's just been tough to blog about, well, pretty mediocre and mundane stuff. Besides, I'll be taking very good notes for Keith anyway, so naturally they'll find their way onto here as well.

2. IRONMAN! Isn't it obvious? Let's be totally frank here: I want to race at Kona this year. Really badly. So I don't' just want to do Ironman Kentucky, I want to kick its ass.

3. Have a solid road season. Last year was understandably bad, I was new to riding with people. After a season of road and one of CX, I don't have that excuse. While none of the races are going to be "A" races for me, I want to do well and be much more confident on the bike. Besides, I have a sweet new women's kit (finally, a kit that fits!!!) so I feel obligated to do well.

4. Have a solid tri season. Same deal- I have a few races before IM, and while they may not be top priority, I want to really push myself this year and see what I can do.

5. Stay in the game, mentally. I want to stay focused, stay motivated, and stay strong throughout the season. No excuses, no whining, just positivity. I've said it before, I'll say it again: "Stay Posi" is the goal for 2010.

6. Get down to race weight. It's tough because of training, trying to lose weight. But I'm going to try to hit a good race weight by road season and get used to it. This means less soda and junk food, smaller meals, and eating more during training for fuel. Keith was saying that by June, most of my calories should be taken in while training, and I want to accomplish that. I love food, and it's hard to think of it as "fuel" instead of "fun" but that's what I'm going to try to do.

7. Do more writing, focus on freelancing. I've done it before, I can do it again! I have a lot of ideas in the works, and a few plans. I'm just hoping to get it together and get motivated enough to get some work done.

Those are the main ones I can think of at the moment, at least for now. I'm sure I'll have plenty more in the coming days. Right now, I don't want to just have 2010 start, I'm ready for Monday and training to start! I'm going to enjoy a weekend of cramming as much family, friends and relaxing in before it starts, but I'm still excited for it!

Monday, December 21, 2009


My new tattoo:

If you're confused, you've never been to a 'cross race, or any cycling race. But...

The Rutgers Cyclocross team wanted to get tattoos to commemorate the time we've spent together on the team, and how awesome we've done, all our hard work, and of course, our friendship. It's a team thing.

We didn't want a bike, or a Rutgers emblem, or anything really obvious. Someone mentioned the cowbell, and it seemed perfect. Especially appropriate for us, since the trophy for winning the ECCC overall for cyclocross is a huge cowbell that we've now had for 4 years. I'll get pictures of all of us with our sweet tats when I can, but I wanted to show that I'm still alive.

It's been a couple of rest weeks for me, so I've been remiss in blogging simply because I don't want to be tempted to start training without recovering as much as I should.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Posts to Come, I promise!

I've been a bad bad blogger (hangs head in shame).

Finals, an injured foot, a long cross season, and an actual rest week, plus a lot of extra work have made posting less than frequent. But.... I went on my first run in a month the other day- just a short 30 minute one- and my foot felt ok! So I think the healing process is moving along, I'm just happy that and a lot of my other health issues decided to pop up now instead of earlier in the season. More on that to come later, but for now, I'm going to bed in a few minutes to prep for a day in NYC and a tattoo adventure tomorrow.

Before I go, my friend Matt and I also made a million of these shirts last week:

Cute, right?

We think so.

It's been a long couple of weeks....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Accidental Cyclocross Racer

This is my sum up of the season for the RU cycling blog but I wanted to post it here too. Thanks for putting up with my cyclocross ramblings for the past couple months!

As I write this, my first season of cyclocross has come to an end, and it’s bittersweet. It’s nice to have time to do laundry- and not have so much of it! It’s nice to be home on weekends, to get work done, to not be driving all over creation for races, to be able to take a little break for a change, and to not have mystery cuts and bruises crop up every Monday after a weekend of racing. But I miss it so much already!

I miss the camaraderie, the excitement of racing, the sore throat from cheering everyone on, the teamwork, and heck, even the riding itself. I admit, I started out a skeptic, thinking nothing could replace triathlon as my most fun sport. But now, I’m already looking to next year, thinking of how to make improvements, to move up in my category, and to start really racing, not just trying to ride the course without falling down. In short, there is a decided chance that I have succumbed to the desire to be a legit cyclocross racer.

In one season, I went from a new racer to the #1 Women’s B racer and #2 Women’s A racer, and helped the Rutgers University Cycling Team maintain our dominance in collegiate cyclocross. It felt pretty great to be part of it.

Earlier in the season, I borrowed a cyclocross bike, “just to test out and race a couple times.”

Then, I raced at Granogue, in freezing rain and mud up to my shins. I fell, I slid, I was one of the last people to finish, and I ended up with a myriad of cuts and bruises to show for it. But, I had fun. And it didn’t hurt that just by racing, I had accrued a lot of collegiate points for the team.

So, I raced again at Highland Park, and didn’t do too badly- in fact, I was pretty decent. I was 12th in the Women’s ¾ race, and the first collegiate woman. I admit, I was hooked. I was also doing well, by collegiate standards. By my second week of ECCC ‘cross, I was ranked #1 in Women’s B. Mainly because I was the one of about five on the list. However, I had a marathon in late November, so HPCX looked like it would be my last serious race. I hadn’t learned dismounts, barriers, or how to ride anything technical. My season was pretty much over, barring maybe a race or two after the marathon. My ranking went from #1 to #10 or so as other women raced and I stayed home and did long runs.

Then, a tendon in my foot did something kinda weird, and all of a sudden, I couldn’t run for a few weeks. I took this as a sign- I was meant to race ‘cross.

So, I started practicing dismounts in my backyard, signed up for all of the races for the last 3 weeks, and attempted to become a decent rider. While that may not have happened, I felt fairly decent going into the last three weeks.

More than that, I learned how much fun cyclocross and spending time with the team really was. From the killer course at Whitmore to racing singlespeed (not by choice) at Allentown, the team was there cheering like crazy every time I raced. And it helped a lot.

I’m not going to go into too many details, as to avoid the longest post in the world, but Rhode Island and the NBX race was probably the most fun weekend that I’ve ever had. It was great racing, an awesome course, vegan pizza, and serious team bonding. I may not have done amazing in the race, but I definitely realized how much progress that I’ve made in the past months. I only wish I had figured out that I wasn’t going to be able to run the marathon earlier, so I could have been working on my ‘cross skills much earlier. As it was, it was a pretty piecemeal season and training schedule. Next year will be a lot different, and I’m expecting pretty good things from myself, not just in the collegiate context, but in the broader context of the ¾ women in general.

When I joined the cycling team, I had no idea what was so great about cyclocross and why everyone on the team was so excited about the season instead of road season. But after this, I can see why, and I think I’ve joined the ranks of the cyclocross devotees.

So, a final round of HUGE thank you’s to everyone who helped make this season so great for me.

Of course, thank you to the Team. Without them, I never would have been able to have the confidence and drive to get on the bike, much less ride. They helped me whenever I needed it, offered tons of great advice, and cheered like crazy for a newbie racer. Especially to Mark, who kept me and everyone else organized and sane though out the season, and Charlie, who did so much by way of bike repair on my borrowed bike. Everyone: it was much appreciated.

Huge thank you to my Dad, who drove to nearly every race, yelled like crazy and forced me to try as hard as I could and put as much effort possible into every race. He really is the Team Dad, and hopefully next year we’ll get to see him race, since he’s pretty hooked on it too.

My whole family- including Mom, Colleen and Robbie- for not just coming to some races but for being so incredibly supportive and doing so much (mostly laundry) for me as I drove them nuts every weekend with racing.

Thank you to all of the promoters for putting on awesome races, to all of my non-collegiate cyclocross friends (both old and new) for cheering and generally making the season super fun for all of us.

Overall, thank you for a great season, and I can’t wait to kick ass next year!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Some RI Love

1st Women's B racer
2nd Women's A racer
Rutgers is overall champion of the ECCC Cyclocross season for the 4th consecutive season.

We're getting cowbell tattoos. Also, All American Rejects song Gives You Hell totally got me to pass a few people when racing. Awesome.

Best. Weekend. Ever.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

On the Road to Rhode Island

Rutger cyclocross racers rock so freaking hard.

Rhodie Island for the weekend racing. Had a sweet race, basically sealed the deal for number 1 Women's B racer, and then we went to a sick party at a bike shop with some awesome new friends.

Having an amazing weekend, and I'm very happy about it.

More later, but for now... waking up in 4 hours to race again. In the snow. Excellent.