Friday, September 28, 2007

Observations on a quiet Friday

1. The legal side of the office always has a full candy jar
2. They deleted the track that I normally run at. Now its all just dirt and construction stuff.
3. Leaves are changing colors, falling down, September is almost over (where did THAT month go??), and yet, its 75 degrees and humid outside.
4. I have a blister on the palm of my hand that is the size of a dime
5. I get to race cyclocross this weekend!!!!

And some more pictures from last weekend. The running ones are from the relays, I have that confused look on my face of the "where the f*** am I!?" variety... cross pictures thanks to Sarah and Josh.

As you can see, everyone else uses flashy orienteering clothing. I wear spandex so ripped that I have to wear it backwards so my knees don't stick out.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

HELLO little white Honda!

I apparently can't get away from white hondas. The one I had before my old car was also a white honda. Each time, I've been getting a smaller one...

So I have a new car. I can now give other people rides to races too! Its a little white civic, and its so quiet! I'm just psyched to not be searching for cars anymore, that was incredibly stressful. Here's to a long and happy car-life for my new car!

Does having MA plates automatically make me a Masshole? Or do I need a MA license too to fit in that category?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Goodbye, little white honda

Goodbye, little white Honda. You treated me well, I'm sorry I didn't do the same. We had some good times together, you and I. Remember that time we drove to Rumford and you couldn't make it up any of the hills because there was so much snow on the road? We made it, though, and there was even more snow on the roads going home but you handled it just fine. Man you were good at getting back onto the road. Remember that time coming back from Farmington when it was raining so hard and your tires were so bald that we couldn't go faster than 35 mph? Remember all those trips to Clarkson? Tug Hill? Colby? Vermont? You've carried me many miles, and all of them safely.

I'm sorry I let your engine overheat so many times. Miraculously it still works, and you have no major mechanical flaws. I hope someone buys you and continues to love you, with perhaps better attention to details, like your leaking oil and coolant. I'm sorry I haven't fixed your exhaust system, but you didn't really want your exhaust going through those confining pipes, did you? I'm sure you'd be a lot happier if you could have a full tank of gas, too, but you're the one who decided to rust a hole in your tank. Maybe your next owner will replace your shocks and your broken windows, or fix that broken door handle. But I can't take the ringing ears after long trips anymore, or the lack of radio stations because you lost your antenna.

I hope you are happy in the rest of your life. I'm sorry I won't be around to pack you full of skis and bikes and intrepid friends to go on adventures, but I'm sure someone else will take full advantage of your large trunk and good gas mileage. Thanks for all the good times little Honda, you've treated me well.

Lucky Underwear

So, cyclists generally don't wear underwear when riding. Chafing, saddle sores, extra seams, chamois cream, vanity, whatever, name your reason, they're almost all valid. This is not really a problem at all, except when it comes to lucky underwear. How are you supposed to have a good race when you aren't wearing lucky underwear?

And this, my friends, is why I ski faster than I bike.

I bet those are Kristina Smigun's lucky underwear

Monday, September 24, 2007

Coonamesset Farms Eco-cross

How many people can you pack on the fewest number of bikes in the most number of races? Well, we did it with just four people on two bikes in five races. One car. No roofrack. And lots of ice cream!!

Eco-cross has a beginners' race, so Ed decided he would give it a shot, since Colin was willing to lend his bike. Anna Mcloon wanted to try cross too (maybe with a little pushing from me), so I lent her my bike. So we were good with two bikes, and four people. Josh and Sarah, Colby folks, stayed at my house friday night, in our luxurious "guestroom". They got to fight over who got the couch... So, they drove down with us too, and then Josh won the beginners' race so stuck around to race again, since he seems to really like getting it handed to him by doing two races in one day.

We got there at 8:30 for a 10am race, and although parking was set up, registration was nowhere to be found. By 9:15 they got their act together, but it was pretty sloppy. Meanwhile, Josh had gone out to see the course, and he came back pretty soon saying he'd gotten lost. Lost? On a cross course? Me and Colin went out to walk the course as Anna and Ed warmed up on our bikes, and we realized that the course wasn't fully set up yet. We put some branches out to help define switchbacks, and basked in the glory that is a technical cross course.

Beginners' race goes off, first the men, then the women. Josh fought for a bit then ended up way out front, so we heckled a little bit. Ed had a really good race too, as far as he was racing, beating a bunch of people and generally looking like he was having a good time. For some reason, I cheered him on by telling him he looked like a lumberjack as he did the one-armed bike carry up a runup... don't know where that came from, but when you can make racers laugh you know you're doing a good job cheering. Sarah and Anna were doing well, too. Sarah was riding really solidly, and Anna ended up third in her first race, if a little shaky at times on the bike handling side of things.

Once I got my bike back, I lowered the seat to my position, and went to tighten it up. *SNAP*! Oh shit what had I done??? Relatively minor, I just broke the bolt that clamps the seat post down, but that essentially made my bike unrideable unless I wanted the saddle all the way down. Luckily, Sarah lent me her bike. Then there was some fiasco with Colin's bike's wheels, because Anna was going to use that bike to race in the open race. She'd had so much fun she wanted to do it again, perfect! We start out with the juniors, and the pay included them, so essentially there are three spots gone already. Ah, well. Jess Ingram took out the start, and led until I couldn't see her anymore, so I figured she'd gone out too hard since she was ahead of Amy Wallace and Rebecca Wellons. But you never know. I decided to ride at my own pace, and not go too hard, since instead of legs I had jello-filled sacks of skin. I guess the stress of last week had caught up at last, and I could feel that I was just exhausted. I caught Allie Kenzer at some point, but she let me go by so I assumed something was wrong. For the rest of the race I was chasing an indefab girl, to no avail. I guess she's a mt biker too, because I wasn't putting any time on the technical sections, just the runups.

With three to go I had almost made contact with indefab. I figured I would get lapped by a Keough, so it was actually 2 to go. I had almost made contact going up the runup that it turns out is actually rideable, and then I dropped my chain and with typical race-hands I couldn't get it back on for a solid 10-15 seconds. Then she was gone, and I was chasing again. She held me off, but I was still pleased with my race, for what it was, because I rode it at a sustainable pace. I was maybe a little redlined at the crests of hills, but it wasn't the pure pain that cross can be--it was pacing! Crazy, I've never done this.

So, after Colin fixed his bike (apparently Ed broke his shoe and Anna broke the handlebar tape and the front brakes), he and Josh went off to race the open men, while the rest of us ate amazing food and heckled. Overall, a spectacular day, just in terms of the funness of the course (that is most definitely a word) and the good food and good friends. I love cross! And of course, the alpacas (is that what they were?). I think the ice cream there is possibly the best ice cream I've had in my whole life. I'll need to find some excuse to go back there.

Sunday I got up really early to drive down to CT for the US Orienteering Relay Championships. I got a ride with a fellow CSUer, and as I was lining up to start (I was first leg), Brendan suggested that I follow JJ Cote. Who happens to be on the national team. Yeah, sure. Going in to control 1 I was completely redlined, and as we headed to 2 I knew I had to race my own race. My legs wouldn't let me run up hills, it was more of a fast wheezing hike, and I wasn't running all that fast on the non-uphill parts of the course. Navigation was good overall, but that is probably because I ran so slowly. Probably had the slowest leg on my whole team, which is not a good thing, even though they're all pretty good. At least we were the B team, our A team took 2nd, which is pretty cool. But my legs were definitely feeling the effort from saturday, as well as exhaustion from the week before. Time to recover so I can race fast!

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Moral Dilemma

Do I ride women's A or B at Gloucester? Comment freely...

Reasons to ride A:
-prove (to myself) that I can ride with the big girls
-I won 1 VERGE and took 2nd in another last year (and a 5th, 6th, 4th).
-I have a cat3 license
-Because Callie did it

Reasons to ride B:
-Ego (although I would still get a run for my money)
-I don't want to buy a UCI license
-Although they don't care, my parents will be there and I'd rather be at the front of the race so they can find me
-Sue, Erin, Cathy, and some other fast girls are riding B
-I don't ride a bike during the week anymore

Ideas? I'm leaning toward B's. Decision will be made after this weekend, I think.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My brush with fame

So, I got on the T last night, and found myself standing next to this guy with a pedros bag and a Minuteman Road Club waterbottle. Normally, when I see clues like this, I get excited and ask if they ride bikes and they usually don't and I feel like an idiot, so I decided to not say anything. Then I noticed those black lines on his waterbottle that you get from sliding them in and out of cages, and figured he's GOTTA ride bikes. He said he rode, but didn't race much anymore, he did a lot of announcing. We started talking and it turns out he had announced at the Weston sprints last year, and knew my name through 'cross. I found out today that this was apparently Richard Fries, and he's famous, at least in the cycling world. But, I talked to a famous guy! Moving up in the world, oh yeah.

And then I almost put pepper in my coffee because someone put pepper packets with all the sugar packets at work. Some things don't change...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sucker Brook CX

Thanks to CTodd for the tire
Thanks to Josh for the wheel
Thanks to Marvin for the skinsuit (daaaamn I felt fast)
Thanks to Craig for the ride
Thanks to Sucker brook volunteers for a very well run race!

I’m sitting here nursing a post race hack and wishing my legs weren’t so tired, but I guess this is what you get for racing cross. I raced my new Pinarello for the first time today, and decided that yes indeedy, steel bikes are heavy and you notice it… I think with some lighter wheels I won’t notice, either that or I better start doing one armed bike raises when I do strength. However, I had an absolute blast out there on the course, despite the fact that it was fast, flat, and offered little room for rest.

Yesterday I put a new tire on my rear wheel, and realized that while I had thought I had bought two tires (no wonder I got such a good deal!), I had in fact only gotten one. Oops. But, I figured I had one tire, I may as well go test it out. I went down to Cutler park, and after some bumbling around I finally found the trails. Once I let some air out of my front tire things really started to flow. I don’t think it was until I said to myself “ooh, I really want to do that part again” that I realized how much fun I was having. Its not like the trails were super technical or anything, but parts of them just flowed so nicely that I never noticed I was on a rigid bike with skinny tires. The weather was perfect, too, its just the beginning of Indian summer, and you could smell the leaves that were still damp from the rain that morning. This is my favorite time of year. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed being outside on my bike this much in a very long time; the only thing that would have made it better would be apples and donuts afterwards…

Of course, afterwards my knee was pretty sore, yes the one I busted at great glen. Probably running/orienteering in the rain that morning didn’t help. For perhaps a nanosecond, I considered not racing, but as usual my addiction to racing overruled common sense by a long shot, so I headed up to Sucker brook this morning with CTodd and Craig Labadie. I was there in time to watch the women’s B go off, as well as the men’s C and masters 35+, so I took a bunch of pictures of IBC folks and other CX friends.

A couple hours later, I lined up with the A women. They blew the whistle, and we took off up the pavement false flat. I felt like people were going too slow for a cross race, so I moved towards the front and found myself in fifth as we hit the grass. So much for riding a controlled race and not going out too hard… I went around some corners and discovered that although I felt great cornering alone, it was tough to do with lots of other girls around, and I lost some time. By the time we hit the barriers, I was maybe still in the top 10, but not on anyone’s wheel as we went into the woods. This long rolly mostly downhill not technical enough section sucked for me every time, probably because I can’t ride down hills when I have to pedal. My legs just don’t go. Maybe not riding a bike in four weeks affects that, who knows. So, I got behind a bunch of girls and tried to wheel suck.

Then we hit the sand. Apparently, I am a sand goddess, and I took an outside line and passed four girls. I have no idea how to ride sand, I just know that I did it really fast, and the important part was that it was a lot faster than everyone else. Of course, they passed me back since my legs don’t go in circles too well, but I tried to just let it slide and ride smoothly. I had done a hot lap in the warmup following Tal’s line through the corners, and that really helped. My bike started to feel mighty heavy going over the barriers, though.
Sarah ripping it up after the sand

I suffered along for four laps, deep in the pain cave, wondering why everything was hurting so much. When I saw the four to go sign, my first thought was that I hoped I got lapped. At some point I got passed by Anna Milkowski, who had flatted on the first corner of the first lap, and she must have been going three times my speed, although its not like I was moving fast; there was one lap where I pretty much walked the barriers. A HUP rider passed me soon after Anna, and although I tried to get on her wheel it wasn’t happening. I started trying to figure out if the distance between me and the HUP rider was bigger, or the distance between me and Cathy Rowell (NEBC rider just behind me) was bigger. I soon decided that Cathy was much closer to me than I was to HUP, and she was moving up fast.

With probably two to go, Cathy caught me, and I wheelsucked for all I was worth. I made it through the woods still on her wheel, then put some time on her in the sandpit. She caught up again on the far side of the course in the field, and I was actually glad she caught up, because it meant I could rest a bit. I was practically seeing stars, I was gasping so hard for breath. My lungs haven’t had this sort of abuse yet this summer. I made it over the barriers without A) dropping my bike or B) slamming into one of them, and I was wheelsucking so hard over the rollers that I completely didn’t see the sharp-ish lefthand corner in the woods. Cathy got a decent gap on me there, since I was in way too high a gear and trying to find my way out of the bushes. I tried really hard to catch up to her, because I knew I had to put time on her in the sandpits again since she would dust me on the road if I wasn’t ahead of her by a bit. Luckily, I was close enough that I put on maybe 10 feet going through that sand pit, and I held it to the line, though barely.

It was a tough race, mostly because there was absolutely no recovery. I think maybe if I had stayed a little closer to someone so as to draft a bit more, or started a bit slower, it would have been easier, but these are shoulda woulda couldas. I was happy with my result, 12th of ~20, mostly because it wasn’t dead last (my goal for this race being to finish not dead last). I’m definitely looking forward to the eco-cross next weekend though, if not for the hills then for the delicious food at the farm!!!

Cary laying it all out there

Josh before he took himself out of his second race of the day

Tal is freakn strong

Justin, one of the race organizers

Tal and Pierre chatting it up after getting the hole shot. Geez guys, didn't you get the memo that this here is a race?

Friday, September 14, 2007

As one can see, I was paying very close attention to the speakers, and was incredibly productive this past week. Its their own fault they gave us toys to play with!!

...I may have gotten carried away when I gave the rider a jersey. And then added a drivetrain to my pipecleaner bike.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hell starts with a P, and rhymes with "awtuckaway state park"

It wouldn't be orienteering if I didn't get lost getting to the meet. I claim that I get my navigational errors out of the way while driving, but usually I make just as many while running. Today was particularly bad, though.

The map of Pawtuckaway has lots of rocks. Big rocks, little rocks, clumps of rocks, scattered rocks, piles of rocks, and swamps. Lots of swamps. Luckily, its been so dry that the swamps have no water. Unfortunately, its been so dry that the swamps have no water. So, you run through said swamps wondering when you're going to see the swamp you're using as an attackpoint. Only minor inconveniences, really. Because you're thinking about rocks, and which of these dratted rocks actually got marked on the map as opposed to all the other rocks that randomly aren't on the map.

Things started out alright. I was having trouble finding good attackpoints, but I was getting there none the less. Number 1 wasn't much of a problem, and number 2 wasn't so bad either. Then I made a sloppy move going to 3, and got a little turned around. Normally this isn't a problem, you lose maybe 15-30 seconds finding a different feature to attack from, and you get your control. For some reason, I couldn't find any features distinctive enough, and I spent a serious amount of time wandering around cursing the gods of orienteering. The problem with the Pawtuckaway map, is that it shows these big distinctive rocks on the map, but when you get out on the terrain, and there are so many big rocks that there aren't any distinctive rocks, and its basically your best guess as to which rock the map maker thought ought to be on the map. So, number 3 was bad. After that I got a little smarter, and chose attackpoints along the route, so that I at least got to the right area, which is something I should have done all along. Dummy.

Number 3 to 4 I navigated off the lakes, since they're big, and hard to miss, even if the water level is low. It was funny that even though it was raining, everything was super dry, so I ran through many marshes without realizing it. This got me in trouble a couple times. Number 4 was another one that I think I got lucky in finding, but I did find it. After that I got a lot more confident, an I hit numbers 5 through 8 without much of a problem. Number 8 to 9 was a long leg, and I thought I did pretty well getting close to the control, but thats where I made the fatal mistake. I found two little damp spots that I thought were the two lakes I was going to attack off of, and they were not those lakes. So I ended up running down the wrong swamp, and running around in that area for about 15-20 minutes before I finally hit a stone wall, and realized what I'd done. At this point my spirit was pretty well crushed, and I limped on back to the finish in a pretty black mood. Overall, a pretty sucky run, particularly because so little of it was running because I felt so unconfident in myself. I think I won, by default since all the other girls (the fast girls), ran down on the green course.

Relay champs are in a couple weeks, and they're putting me on a team... this is probably not a good move on the part of the CSU runners, but at least its not at Pawtuckaway. Time for more o-training...

Thursday, September 6, 2007

You know your parents love you when...

They send you a vaccuum cleaner in the mail. I suppose I'm at fault for not communicating that I had already bought a new vaccuum cleaner. Does anyone who reads this nonsense need a vaccuum cleaner?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The real world is boring

Normally when I'm not racing much, at least I've been doing fun, interesting training things. Well, I needed a break, so I haven't even been doing that. And I came to the conclusion that without some sort of obsession taking over all your free time, life is pretty boring. What do people DO all day if they have an extra like 8 hours each week? Work more? Oh wait, other people watch tv. We don't have a tv. Maybe I should start knitting.

Rest weeks suck, in my opinion. Some people like them. I recognize that I need to rest to go fast, but beyond that, there is no love between me and my rest weeks. I hate not training. I hate sitting around, knowing that other people are out there working hard, and you're sitting on your butt feeling like your muscles are melting away into nothingness, wondering what normal people do with all that spare time.

It struck me, yesterday, the enormity of what I'm trying to do. I live in Boston. We get maybe three inches of snow each winter? And I'm training to be a pro what? Yeah there is a disconnect somewhere, but for some reason I haven't realized it yet, and I'm still plugging away, ready to wrap up some mediocre results. I should either learn to be happy with what I got or start my excuses list now. I was injured. I was sick. I didn't do enough summer intensity. I rode my bike too much. I don't train enough hours. I don't have the hills to train on. I don't have a team. I don't have the talent. I don't have the genes. I don't have the results. I am a nobody on paper, a nobody with these lofty expectations that can only be shot down and ground into the dirty snow by a herd of other middle of the pack skiers rushing by. I have left that gray area of "an athlete with lots of potential", and I'm moving into masterblaster ranks, where at least I can win age group shit since there aren't any women masters (I apologize to the couple exceptions, you are extraordinary women and I admire you for continuing with this crazy sport). Who will put money into an athlete who has never really shone, in a sport that is slowly dying, in a country where sports are appreciated on tv, not in the big scary outdoor world?

This is why I hate rest weeks. I start thinking.