Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summer's over

Not much went on this weekend, I wisely chose to take a day off while the hurricane soaked the Massachusetts coast, spent four hours making a lasagne, and rollerskied with CSU. Peter Breu sent me a pair of wooden rollerskis to test out, I'll put up a product review once I've skied on them, since today was a classic day. Oh, and I start working Monday. Summer vacation is over. It sure was good while it lasted... now its back to the real world, lets see if I can handle the stress. I'd better take a nap while I still have time!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I love being home. Its a mix of naps with my beagle, crazy training (although not too crazy) with Jess, and wegmans. The real world is calling, but I think I'll stay another day... or three...

Working on the cx bike, with a tray full of peaches. Thank god for toothpicks, those are some dirty fingers. Really I should have been working on the mountain bike, that poor beast is a wreck right now...

I went riding at Dryer with Jess, Graham, a guy named Sean, and Eric Metzler. I tried to take a picture of Eric in the parking lot, and only managed half my head and the bottom of his face... for a guy with a six month old kid, hes in damn good shape.

Jess and Graham - you can tell by Jess' face how sweaty Graham's back probably is...

We got caught on camera during a warmup run. Wheeee!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Attempt at a race report

You can read this two ways, either its an attempt at writing a race report, or its a report about an attempt at a race. Anyway, I showed up to Bikes for Bovines, since it was in Keene, which is pretty close to Weston (the site of the festivities for Virginia's wedding), and I was working the sports psychology. I hear that your subconscious is super gullible, in other words you can tell it lies and it just doesn't know the difference. So driving to the race, I was telling myself how I felt great, and was going to have a great race, and I was feeling pretty chipper on the start line. The course started with a six-mile uphill, so I figured I wouldn't see Cathy much, I was just going to ride my own race. But by the time we got off the dirt road and onto a slightly muddier dirt road, I had caught back up to Cathy, telling myself non-stop, "I love hills! I'm good at hills! I love hills!" This is a blatant lie, but I guess I don't know the difference, because I was almost enjoying myself.

Then there got to be a couple more rocks in the road, and on one of them I just sort of whacked into it, since I was tired and and kind of zigzagging and just not paying attention, since I'm on a road, after all. It was a sharp rock, and shortly thereafter things were feeling a little squishier than I like... I tried to keep riding for a while, knowing that all I had was one tube and one CO2, but eventually I just had to change it. Everything was mud-covered, and I think I got more mud in there, because a few miles of uphill later and the new tube was feeling a little squishy. I don't know if this was just my head making things up, it probably was, but luckily that debate ended quickly when I hit a hidden rock on an innocent-looking grassy downhill. This one notched my rim, the wheel is definitely not round right now. The good news is that I was almost at the aid station, so it wasn't too long a walk to get back. The bad news is that now I have a dented rim, and I rode 6 miles of uphill and didn't get to enjoy any of the sweet singletrack downhill. Grr.


Anyway, the shortened race meant I got to come back to Rochester sooner, to see my dog. I walked in the door, and Tira was standing there wagging her tail, and she saw me and started making the little whimpering noises that the dogs have always made when they're just so happy they can't contain themselves, finally somebody is HOME! What can I say, I slumped against a wall and burst into tears, and Tira just came over and buried her nose in my lap, making those happy snuffing noises, wagging her tail, trying to cheer me up. How do dogs get so close to our hearts so quickly?

She has perked up significantly since I got home, we went sniffercizing through three different fields yesterday morning, hunting those rabbits and chipmunks and fieldmice until they'd fled the county. She doesn't move too fast these days, so you can just sort of stand there as she hunts the same trail in circles for a while, until she has ranged far enough to catch another track. Its beautiful to see, especially in the tall grasses, all you see is the white tail wagging excitedly in time to the bugling voice.

But that was too much excitement, after a while reality cuts through even a beagle's thick skull, and she walked back over to me slowly, panting, tail down. Its hard for her to breathe, and hard for me to watch. She sat down, still panting hard, and hung her head. It was like she wanted to apologize for not catching me anything today. At this point, you have to carry her home, because just slowly walking the couple hundred feet up the hill back to the house is just too much, but she was still breathing so heavily that we just sat there in the grass for a while. Its terrifying, the transformation between energetic little rabbit-hunter to a sick old dog who can't breathe.

Eventually the panting died down a little, and she sat up when I stood up. You have to be careful when you carry her home, because she'll yelp if you pick her up wrong, her back has something wrong with it. We got inside, and then she just sleeps for many hours, occasionally waking up to wheeze. Oh Tira.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Virginia and Kristen got married last weekend, and Ed was their local contact, since they're in Ohio and hes closest to Vermont. I did my best to not really get involved at all, meaning Ed did all the heavy lifting and I was quality control. It was a beautiful ceremony and a great party, complete with a Lightspace LED floor that Ed brought up from Boston, a band from Cincinnati (I've already forgotten their name, but they were really good), and Bullitts from all over. Poor Kristen's family...

Friday night was the pig roast, courtesy of Rob (a cousin), and the wedding was Saturday. And I did a bike race Sunday, but thats a different post.

Rob pulling the pig during the pig roast Friday night. Later, Ed tried eating the brain, and was very proud of this fact. I tried a kidney, but that was as exotic as I'd go.

Ed and his father puzzling over their beer-chilling-thing. The beer ran from the keg, through tubes that were kept in ice, out a spout.

This is what the freezer looked like - Elise made the wedding cake, and also a gazillion petit fours, which she was being a little anal about protecting... Luckily, there was one cake that was a casualty of the drive up to VT, and labeled as damaged goods, so Jackie and I took full advantage of that.

The wedding cake itself, next to the beer for special people - a three liter bottle of Chimay! And other good beer.

The girls looked gorgeous, and the ceremony finished just as the thunder started rolling and the rain drops started coming down. Luckily we had a covered veranda and a big tent over the dance floor, so it was all good.

Somebody gave Ed a silly hat to wear during the photos...

Shortly after the band started playing my camera died, otherwise I would have had some actual good shots of the floor with people dancing on it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Raw emotions

The parental units called yesterday with news about Tira. Her heart started to slowly fail a while ago, so we put her on medicine, but shes been laboring more and more to breathe and yesterday she had a back spasm, or something like that. She can't really walk anymore, isn't all that interested in food, and can't breathe too well. Its kind of rough news, so I'll be heading home to hopefully catch her in time to say goodbye after Virginia's wedding this weekend. Tira is my dog, we got her when I was in 7th grade and I trained her and walked her and came home in between school and cross country to make sure we could go sniff rabbits in the cemetery. She is also far more adept at reading emotions than most dogs - she knows what is going on in your head, whether or not you tell her, although she sure is a good listener.

Anyway, maybe it was because of the bad news about Tira, or maybe I'm just having a bad day, but it was sort of one thing after another today. First, my binding broke in half off of my classic rollerski. That was a relatively short walk home, since it happened early on. Then my heart rate monitor died. Then I had to bike in to the city and naturally got a flat on the conti's, which I can't change alone, so busted up one tube before walking two miles to a bike shop, where I paid $17.44 to fix a flat. God damn, thats how they make their money, isn't it. Somebody call the waahmbulance. Given my rate of equipment failure, I'm a little worried about driving back to VT this afternoon... hopefully the car holds it together. I've been on these big emotional swings all day, from feeling great to just sobbing, I guess maybe feeling great actually means maniacally laughing at something that isn't funny, I kind of feel like a bundle of jangling nerves. Don't cross me today, you don't know what you'll get...

Monday, August 17, 2009

NENSA Gaining Ground Coaches Clinic

This weekend was one of those super-invigorating clinics (I guess work-type people call them workshops, but its all the same), where you leave so full of ideas you think you'll burst. At least, thats how I feel. It was also great to see how many things CSU does right, even if we've arrived at these things by different routes. We had Nina from Gunstock (I can't spell her last name), who was a multi-time olympian and I think had at least one medal, and Andy Newell, from the USST, come talk to us. It was really interesting to see the difference between their skiing styles - not only was it the male/female skiing differences, but the sprinting/distance differences. Fred Griffin (another presenter, but not quite an olympian) described some of his skiers as "hungry, and ready to eat raw meat". Well, Andy's skiing was the raw-meat-eating style of skiing, and Nina was a ballerina. Really interesting to compare.

Nina floating up the hill.

Andy showing us how NOT to classic ski. It was pretty amusing watching him try to ski incorrectly, he couldn't really do it.

Fred pointing out something Andy is doing while skating.

Now that I'm full of ideas, its time to see what the people actually in charge think of these ideas... step 1, acquire some wicked slow rollerskis for Frank so the kids can keep up in L1!

Friday, August 14, 2009

[Northern] Vermont

This weekend I'm attending the Gaining Ground clinic with NENSA - its a coaching certification thing, and CSU thinks its a good idea I learn how to coach before I inflict any permanent damage to our juniors. Anyway, its up in Craftsbury, and it doesn't start until 2pm on Friday, which meant one thing to me - Kingdom Trails Friday morning! I don't really have anything to add about that except that there was not one moment during three hours where I ever thought anything different than "holy crap I am having so much fun right now!". Well, there was one moment when I was thinking "I wonder what that squeaking is?", but I generally don't worry too much about that sort of thing. Thom fixes my bike when it breaks, its all good.

The next two days should be fun, we have Janice Sibilia (NENSA head of competitive programs) directing the thing, Nina (the superfast Russian olympian from Gunstock) and Andy Newell are helping out, and Pepa Miloucheva and the Craftsbury Green Team are giving us talks and stuff in the evening. Action packed!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Back to... reality?

Ski camp in Lake Placid is over, but life on the ranch here is hardly different than an extended summer vacation, thanks to the unemployment thing. It will (hopefully) be ending soon, so I figure I have to take advantage of having the days all to myself while I can. In this vein of thought, I bleached all my water bottles today. Its a busy life, ok?

Placid wrapped up well, with one of my biggest weeks of training in my life. I guess there are some advantages to training four or five hours a day but it makes you kind of tired and not at all in the mood to move fast. It was a good group of people at the camp, and the camp did exactly what it should in terms of mental motivation to keep things going into the fall in a quality manner, rather than filling every day with easy bike rides. We finished it up with a rollerski OD on some new roads, then we stole some more chocolate soy milk (that stuff is awesome, I highly recommend it) from the cafeteria and all went our separate ways. Hopefully Jess and I will meet up for some mini-training weekends this fall, it really helps to keep me motivated.

The theme last week seemed to be dayglo everywhere, NENSA provided us with some sweet dayglo synthetic shirts, to add to my already-large collection of disgustingly bright shirts, and coaches everywhere are cracking down on wearing either a reflective vest or a yellow shirt while rollerskiing. A skier in Maine was hit by a car and killed earlier this summer, so this seems to be the first action to take to become defensive skiers. I just wanted to say that I approve. Rollerskiers benefit from the gawk-factor, but sometimes, we're just hard to see. And we have these things attached to our hands and feet that make it difficult to get off the road quickly. So, wear those reflective vests. I figure I already look like a doofus since I'm on rollerskis, so adding the vest isn't making me any geekier.

Thats Jennie, not me. I didn't do the time trial, so I took some pictures. Shes modeling a yellow shirt, although its not quite bright enough...

In other geek news, I've managed to strip out two of three screws holding my binding to my classic rollerskis (oh, THAT was that rattling noise?), so I better do something about that soon, or bad things will happen. Along those lines, I also managed to break two snow tips by being a beast - I double pole with so much force that the metal tip got pounded into the plastic basket. The pullups work?

Who says maintenance is necessary in rollerskiing, too?

Friday, August 7, 2009

The guilty feeling

I almost did the time trial today, and then I did something smart and didn't race because of the rattling noises in my chest when I skied hard. Boo. There is nothing worse than having to can a quality workout because of sickness. Even though I know it wouldn't have been smart, I still feel super guilty for not racing. I'm such a master-blaster-wannabe.

Jennie, Jess and me on the catwalk next to Avalanche lake.

Yes, I know there is a knee warmer in my mouth. It was on top of my camera in my pocket.

All the slash they had to cut through after the last big avalanche on avalanche pass.

The turban made an appearance.

Avalanche lake.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Ski camp update

We've been training a bunch up here, having a great time, and the weather has been perfect. Only problem is that I am slowly relapsing into the cold I had two weeks ago... darn you body, can't we cooperate? Tomorrow is the Franklin Falls time trial, which I'm really excited to try again. The only problem will be if my chest decides to fill in with green goo, in which case I'll have to scratch the time trial, which would be truly unfortunate. But probably smart... we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mini tri, team-style

Triathlons aren't really my thing. I can't swim (I'm not just saying that; my favorite stroke is the doggy paddle), my worst discipline on a bike is a time trial, and my running has only landed me injured in the past couple years. The only place I really shine in triathlons are the transitions - I have those transitions DOWN!

Anyway, thanks to this lack of skill in these disciplines, my triathlon experiences have been few and far between, and mostly just because I've forgotten how much I disliked the last one. I might not enjoy any one of the individual pieces of a triathlon, but its ok as a whole, and so when I found out that Lake Placid has a mini triathlon every monday night, I really wanted to do it. So did a couple other people at the camp, even though we all realized that doing a triathlon the night of the same day we'd already done some quality L3 skate intervals was a dumb idea. We decided on a compromise of doing teams, which is super lame. But really, it was the only way to make it through a 20+ hour week with three (well, now four) intensity sessions. There are my excuses.
Lucy modeling Team Pink's swimwear.

I teamed up with Lucy Garrec (swim) and Jennie Bender (bike) to be team pink - I was running. Lucy was swimming in a hot pink bikini, and Jennie was riding in some sexy pink shades. I didn't have anything pink to wear (how could I let that happen??), although I played with putting Lucy's bikini top over my t-shirt. We were clearly being serious about this.
Jess came to spectate.

The swimmers took off, and Lucy held her own against aggro master blasters. She came in somewhere around mid-pack, tagged off to Jennie, and Jennie bolted off down the bike course. Soon, she came back after 13 short miles, and off I went on the run. I should mention that I really haven't run too much since this knee injury. I did my first running speedwork while in Switzerland, 4x5min threshold on grass. It was supposed to be 5x5, but, my knee had started hurting so I cut it short. I was hoping it would be fine for the full 5k...
Team Pink's first tag.

The run started on a flat paved road, and then transitioned to a marginally rolling dirt road, and the runners were told to turn around at telephone pole 13. Our guys' team runner didn't see the pole, and lost their second-place position by running six minutes too far. Pays to listen to the instructions at the beginning of the race... I started out pretty conservatively, since my warmup had really just been plodding around town and I didn't quite feel ready to fly, but I quickly passed a couple guys who were doing the whole thing. I got passed soon thereafter by another two guys, and picked up the pace to match the slower one. Shortly we came to the dirt road, and I used some of the hills to put some time on this guy. I was starting to see a couple people coming back, but I was pretty sure we were holding fast as the second female, behind some chick who had started the run 4 minutes ahead of me and looked pretty pro. After the turn-around I was starting to feel it a bit in my legs, and more worrisomely (is that even a word?) my knee was starting to hurt a bit. Just feeling a bit stiff on the swing-through. I tried to just ignore it and passed a couple more guys who weren't on teams, most impressively a guy who I had thought was going to be really fast, but clearly he just owned fast-looking clothing.

Nearing the end, I was trying not to limp - the knee didn't really hurt enough to limp, but my brain was being scared that it was going to get hurt worse and so it was trying to make me limp. Those damn brains. I was also trying to run more heel-toe rather than striking with my toe like I normally do, because my achilles was aching. I'm just a mess. Anyway, I heard breathing behind me, and it was definitely feminine breathing. Crap! I turned to look and it was indeed a girl, it was Margaret Maher, the NYSEF coach who I think is currently doing ironmans for fun. We had really hoped to beat her, and I realized it was up to me. Yargh. The finish was near, but not that near, so I decided to try picking up the pace. She held fast, and I realized an actual kick was required. I don't think I've had to really kick it in in a race in a long time, but it felt extremely good to just turn on the jets and leave my more tired competitor in the dust. Not that I could have kicked like that if I had actually done the triathlon... but it felt good nonetheless.

We left before they did awards, if they even did do awards. I don't think teams should get prizes anyway, so its just as well. Good times, but I don't think I'm going to be doing two intensity sessions in one day again any time soon. Thats just not smart.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Weddings and macroinvertebrates

Friday I found myself at the Friends of Alewife Reservation office helping out the Summer Ecology Institute - Arlene, one of my [ex-] colleagues, does a day on benthic macroinvertebrates each year at this camp, and I was helping her out with the kids. The plan was to identify dead bugs in the morning and then find our own live bugs, worms, and leeches in the afternoon. Unfortunately, we were rained out in the afternoon, but the kids had a great time identifying the samples in the morning. I had fun with that too, but would have really enjoyed walking around in the muck turning over rocks.

Saturday was Callie's wedding, which was beautiful - on the coast in Maine, and they served lobsters, it doesn't get much better than that. I ran into Pat Dean there, he's back in the states for the summer after teaching physics in Jordan all year, and he basically arrived in NYC and bought a bike and thats how he got to Maine. He wanted to get to upstate NY, and I was heading to Lake Placid, so after dropping Ed at the train station sunday morning, I picked up Pat somewhere on the road near Brunswick and we headed west. Which brings me to my current location - the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, for the SR/U23 ski camp. I'll keep you updated...