Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Aftermath and an Explanation

So before I go into my glowingly happy review of my loooong training weekend in Lake Placid, I'll briefly explain why in the heck I've been progressively getting more and more lax about updating this darn thing.

Really, I blame the bedbugs.

What started out as a problem on the first floor of the house where Robbie and I reside in a teensy attic apartment moved its way upstairs floor by floor. In March, just in time for Robbie's birthday, we had our first infestation. Some of you may know the drill: move every bit of clothing and fabric out, wash and dry on high heat. Exterminator comes in, steams and sprays, life goes back to normal. This happened in March, and until June, it really had seemed like the problem was gone. Then, with my birthday just around the corner- the say after Rev 3 to be precise- I woke up with bites. Last time, I had avoided getting bitten for some reason. This time, Robbie and I were both getting bit. Not great. We tried to write it off as allergies, but we both ended up with infections, and doctors confirmed that they were bedbug bites. Enter the exterminators for round two. Again, everything moved out, cleaned, steamed and sprayed. We figured this had to be the end of it- the universe was clearly testing our relationship, but rather than growing apart and getting in fights, if anything it cheesily brought us closer together. We have a united front against bugs!

So, last Tuesday, we moved back in. Wednesday as I woke up for work and woke Robbie up to say goodbye, he looked at his arm. "Crap." 2 lovely new bites. These are some kind of evolved species of bedbugs or something, a superstrong variety, probably robots put in place by government agents, set up to look like devilish bedbugs but really a ruse to get DNA samples... or maybe we've just been watching waaaay too many seasons of the X-Files.

Of course, this happened less than 24 hours before I was leaving for Lake Placid for training for 4 days, but I was mad as hell. That day, we decided to tell our landlord that we were leaving. The upshot is that we called him when I got back from training, and he agreed to let us out of the lease in September. He's a pretty nice guy and we felt bad about having to leave, but we can't stay there. However, clearly this presents a problem: we move out now, but can't move anywhere else until September, so all of our stuff needs to go to our parent's homes. And since we can't afford to pay 2 rents, we're stuck without our own place until September, assuming we can find one by then. Fantastic.

So, now that I'm 23, the year my best friend's dad once told me was the best age of his life, I'm somewhat homeless. Or rather, we've sort of become vagabonds, shifting from Robbie's parents house to mine. Not the way one wants to go about Ironman training- especially since this limits my pool access a bit.

The worst part about all of this- other than the bites and the inconvenience of moving- is just how crappy it makes you feel, being embarrassed to admit that you have bugs in your house. Even though we did everything right, have a nice clean place, followed the exterminators instructions to the letter, we can't seem to get rid of these godforsaken bugs. They're obviously in the walls, and god knows our apartment is pretty substandard in terms of construction. It sucks to feel like something is your fault when you know you've done all you can.

Yesterday was a whirlwind of moving and the rest of the week will be more of the same. In the meantime, I have pictures and tons of great stuff from Lake Placid, and I'll get them posted soon!

That's really the long and short of why my posting has been so erratic for the past few months- it seems like every time we fix one thing, another minor crisis ensues, so it's been damage control pretty much daily. I find myself wishing I could skip the next couple of months- even though it's summer vacation and my favorite season- and just get everything over with so we can just be settled in somewhere again. Before either of us has a nervous breakdown.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

(Bad News)

While it seems like I'm chock full of good news these days, a lot of why I haven't been posting much has to do with the bad news. Because as we all know, you can't have the good without the bad. So, without further ado, here it is!

1. Asthma: I need to go to a doctor to look into the possibility that I have exercise induced asthma, like I had when I was a kid (luckily, when I was young I was anti-sports, so it was never really much of an issue). However...

2. I don't have health insurance at the moment. My school has a policy that I had been using but it looks like I may be able to get on my Dad's plan since I'll be a full time student in the Fall. But right this second, I am un-covered. This whole insurance issue came about because...

3. I have this charming problem on my inner lip where a membrane went kind of nuts. The oral surgeon told me that I needed surgery, but the day before I was supposed to have it, the thing disappeared on it's own. I was obviously happy, since it was going to cost about $700 to get fixed. However, it seems like it might possibly be coming back. So right now I'm a little on edge about that. And on that same note, I had to take Robbie to the doctor yesterday about a rash that we both seem to have on our hands and elbows. The doctor had the worst possible news...

3. It seems that we still have a bedbug problem in our apartment (thank you guys on the first floor who brought it into our house). Last time, they didn't seem to bother me, just Robbie. Either they've evolved and gotten really angry, or suddenly I'm a whole lot tastier, because now they're going for me too. And naturally this is happening after the warranty on the exterminator who supposedly got rid of the damn things the first time has already lapsed. Granted, our landlord is the one who pays for it, but still, that sucks. Also, now it looks like we have to again tear everything in our apartment apart, clean and re-wash everything, and this time, we can't use my parent's washer/dryer so we have to take everything to the laundromat. I'm not looking forward to living out of bags again, but luckily I can go stay at the parent's for the days that we're banned from the apartment without it being a huge hassle. It's not like I'll be missing much, since...

4. It seems like everyone except Charlie (and my new pals Andy and Konrad) is gone for the summer. Matt is in MA doing a theater internship, Mark is all over the place, and even Charlie is at his parent's house most of the time, so there aren't too many people to hang out with on nights Robbie's at work, which also sucks because...

5. Robbie's schedule is literally the opposite of mine. He works Mon-Wed nights, I work Wed 8-5, and then on Thurs and Fri. Of course, this schedule won't last forever, which is kind of bad because starting in July, I'll be working a whole lot less since...

6. The kids I nanny for are moving a month earlier than planned, which leaves me with a huge chunk of the summer where I don't have enough time to find another job, but I could really use one. I'm talking to one of the mother's of a kid in Ella's class about sitting for her, but it won't be the same. And I'm gonna miss my kids!!

So, that's the long and short of it. It's been a frustrating couple of days, just a whole lot of stuff piling up on me at once. We'll manage to get through it and everything, it just seems like the universe is lined up against us at the moment.

Still, I was reading my old zine that I wrote about 4 years ago, and my New Year's Resolution for that year was sort of the theme of the issue. The resolution was to STAY POSI. So I'm attempting to do so, tough as it may be.

(Good News)

1st of all, the big news:
I finally got my Cat 3 upgrade in Road Racing!
Very exciting stuff.

Also in the "Good News Category":
1. Won my first track race 3 weeks ago

2. Every week I race track, I get better and beat girls that were beating me the previous week

3. Just got my very own (cheap) track bike. So psyched to use it!

4. My birthday is this Friday- finally I'll be my race age (23)

5. My mom got me some sweet new shoes for my b-day (ok, I picked them out. And went and bought them for her. But still.)

6. I got these excellent posters for my room at my parent's house (don't laugh):
My room looks like a 15 year old dokry kid's room- the walls are painted gray, it's really small, and I've got a record player, my record collection, my sweet posters, and a bunch of stuff my mom picked out, like cute jewelry boxes and nice framed pictures of me as a kid, stuffed animals on the bed (and a zebra print throw and pillows). It's pretty excellent, it makes me feel like I should be talking on my old phone (with my old phone line that was also out internet hookup) to my old best friend about boys and clothes.

7. And this poster was for Robbie and my place in New Brunswick: (We're nerds. Obviously.)

8. Next weekend I'll be in Lake Placid for 4 days of jam-packed solid training time. I'm stoked! It'll be good to refocus, and it gives me a few days to really start thinking about IronMan, spend more time blogging and writing, and do all good for me stuff like actually eat fruits and vegetables and start leaning towards eating more vegan-friendly again.

9. Speaking of vegan, this article on "Diet and Exercise to the Extremes" about vegan ultramarathoner Scott Jurek has me seriously considering a return to being vegan. For those of you who don't know, I was vegan for a couple years, I've been vegetarian/vegan for 6 years now. When Robbie and I moved in together, I went to being vegetarian and he stopped eating meat, a good compromise. Now that we've been together for quite some time, I think it would be possible for me to go back to being vegan. The only problem is that I really really really love pizza...

10. There was also this article, and it made me go out and buy a couple of nifty huge glass vases for a new "project". Just what I needed! I used to have an obsession with terrariums as a kid, it's clearly back again.

11. Speaking of projects, I have some great fabric and I have big plans for it. Also, more changing skirts are currently in the works for Andy, Konrad, and myself.

Lots going on, as per usual. But what else is new?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rev3 Race Report

(Finally) time for the Rev3 "race report."
As a rule, I'm not overly fond of writing race reports, but I'm willing to give it a shot. We headed for Connecticut on Saturday (June 5, not this past Saturday!). Dad had to work until alter in the afternoon so mom and I headed up on our own. This wasn't great, as neither of us knew how to get there and the Mapquest directions apparently didn't either. This resulted in sitting on the side of the NY Turnpike looking at a map and trying to decide on the best course of action. Thankfully, I figured it out and we made it in 4 hours- an hour over what the driving time should have been.

I planned on getting there in time to utilize their 1.5 hr open swim time, and I got there with just enough time to sprint for the beach, pull on my bathing suit and goggles, and hop int he balmy water for about 20 min. I chatted with some people, spotted Matty Reed and Natasha Badmann, got entirely too intimidated to even say hello, and generally got used to the water. It was warm, decent visibility, but lots of seaweed on the bottom, which freaks me out a bit.

Then, registered and went onward to our hotel about 20 min away. I had to check my bike but I was waiting on Dad to get there to help decide if I should go road or tri bike (the weather channel was predicting thunderstorms for the race day), and to check my bikes over. We got to the hotel early and had to wait for our room, but it was ok since Antiques Roadshow was actually happening in the hotel lobby (no joke!) It was pretty awesome giggling with mom about other people's "treasures."

Finally, Dad showed up and we headed back to Rev3. While checking my bike (road, in case you were wondering- I race well int eh rain on it and I've never ridden the new tri bike in the rain), I realized my transition spot (they were numbered) was literally the best seat in the house. It was right by the exit, set perpendicular to all of the other racks, and it was my bike and 4 others. Talk about easy to spot! I couldn't have asked for a better spot to put my stuff. While I was in transition, a guy with some really awesome tattoos came over to the fence and asked if I lived in Philly. I said I used to be there a lot and I race a lot in that area, and he said he absolutely had seen/talked to me before. So, I made a friend! Funny, he reminded me so much of Matt form the team, yet rather than only bike racing, he's strictly a triathlete! Matt wasn't thrilled with my comparison...

Anyway, we went to the briefing, got lost on the bike course while attempting to preview it, and got pretty substandard pizza at a place by the hotel.

Sunday at 4 a.m., Dad and I were up and getting ready. Because of the humidity, the Clif Shot Bloks (Margarita- yum!) that I had cut into smaller pieces (the regular size is too big) were stuck together, the tap water tasted terrible when I went to fill my bottles, and generally I wasn't feeling too hot.

We got to the race site and I was attempting to get a bagel down but just couldn't. I wasn't nervous, just kind of queasy. Still, I managed to hit the bathrooms enough times, get my wetsuit on and get down to the beach with time to spare.

I was expecting to be more panicky, but even standing in the water and sneaking up towards the front of the pack, I was feeling pretty relaxed. Then, the horn sounded and off we went! I got out quick, and got into a comfortable stride pretty fast. My goal was just to stay ahead of most of the pack, stay comfortable and not use up much energy at all on the swim, saving it for the bike. I think I could have pushed a little more, but I came out pretty well. There were about 20 women ahead of me, but it was a pretty huge pack we started with, so that wasn't too bad. This was my first BIG race, with an actual pro field and some pretty serious amateurs, so it was kind of intimidating. Still, I was feeling pretty good about my position as I left on the bike.

The bike course was VERY hilly- someone later told me it had about 2000 feet more climbing per loop that IM Lake Placid-- having never been there, I don't know, but it felt like a whole lot of climbing and not a whole lot of downhill or flat sections. I realized just how much road, cyclocross and track have helped my racing though- when it came to corners or technical sections, I was zooming past people! The bike went pretty well overall, nothing spectacular, other than being super stoked I managed to get water twice from aid stations, put it in my aero bottle, and toss the bottle while still riding. I drank, I ate, I felt pretty decent, and I was still trying to save stuff for the run. Finished with about 18.5 mph for my average speed, and with the amount of hills there were, I was pretty happy about that.

By the end of the bike, I was second in my AG, and about 30th overall. Even with forgetting to have my shoes unlaced and ready to go on, my transition time was pretty awesome, but as soon as I started the run, I could tell something was off. By now, it was about 85 degrees out and you could feel the humidity pressing down. I normally have no problems with running in heat or humidity, but as a kid I had exercise induced asthma, and it looks like that kicked in again. By mile marker 1, I was starting to really had trouble breathing, every time I took a breath, it came out a squeak. By mile 2, I was starting to get pretty freaked out. I kept pushing on though, wheezing like crazy and not being able to get a decent deep breath in. Finally, by mile 6, I had to stop to walk for about 150 feet or so, just so I could walk with my hands behind my head to open up my lungs to get some air in. The rest of the race, I was alternating between walking like that and running, and it was getting harder and harder to breathe. I couldn't drink or eat, I was starting to feel really sick and generally not good. But still, Death Before DNF!

I kept pushing, running when I could, walking when I couldn't. I was drenching myself in water at every aid station, just trying to keep my body cooled down a little. It wasn't helping all that much, but at least I was moving. Turns out I ran 9:40s, which is waaaay better than I expected, given how much I had to walk.

Finally, hit mile 13, and with the finish in sight, I realized that I had another woman coming up right behind me. I saw the finishing chute, and just gave it everything I had- who needs to breathe EVERY minute, anyway? I sprinted down the chute so I beat her by 4 seconds, surprising myself, and the announcer, judging by his commentary ("And look at her goooo!")

Finished, saw Mom and Dad, and laid down on the ground trying to breathe again. I ended up 50th female (out of 250 including pros) and 2nd in my AG, which earned me a pink Fuel Belt (so cute), and a $75 Cannondale certificate. Not bad!

It took all Sunday before I started feeling normal again, since eating and drinking and breathing were hard even after the race finished.

Pictures are forthcoming, though there aren't too many. Amazingly, my running pictures make me look much better than I felt at the time! Here's a preview:
Please note the sweet RUCX (Rutgers Cyclocross) top that I'm wearing. Represent!!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Weekend Before Last

Some snapshots from last weekend and the weekend before up in NY State Parks (Harriman and Bear Mountain.)

Lots of bike riding, gorgeous views, and swimming in a lake that ended up being heavily populated by poisonous watersnakes, as we found out thanks to a Russian fisherman who came up to Andy and I while we were waist-deep in water and said, "no swim. are many snakes." Fantastic.

Isnt' it pretty?

Here's Andy, the poor guy who got sucked into training with me.

The amazing lake we were swimming in.

Can you find the water snake?