Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cycling as a natural anti-depressant

It is amazing how a good workout can fix a bad today.

And today was a bad day. It wasn't bad for any particular reason, more the culmination of a bunch of smaller things over which I have no control.

I have not gotten any of the jobs I have interviewed for, so now that there are no open positions left for me to apply, I am back to my old standby of networking and redoing my resume. We are losing a person in the lab tomorrow, so I will have to work more overnight shifts to accommodate that change.. which I am worried will trigger more insomnia nights. I am also in the longest stretch of being single that I can remember. Even for me, who certainly enjoys a lot of alone time, it's getting frustrating. My friends (who are ALL in relationships by the way) listen and try to help (and have gone so far as to actually introduce me to guys that I will like - and have liked) but it seems to be a perpetual case of wrong place, wrong time for me.

So with all of that weighing on my mind, I didn't have the most fun day of my life. And I knew I had to ride my bike for 2.5 hours after work (because I don't have time this Saturday to do it, which is when it's scheduled for). So if the ride went badly, I think it would have sent me over the edge.

I think I subconsciously knew that I NEEDED it to go well. It wasn't a super scenic route (although it was a loop instead of my typical out and back) and it was hot, and I didn't ride particularly fast, and there was a bit of traffic, but it was good. It just felt really good. And it made me happy to be riding. Spinning up hills, flying down hills, sweating, drinking when my timer went off.. all felt like second nature. Every time I ride, I can look down and see my Ironman stickers on my top tube, and it reminds me that I can do things that not everyone can do. And that even though parts of my life are not going as well as I'd like them, that other parts are going great. And that took away the bad feelings that were resonating throughout me.

And now I feel better.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Previewing the Musselman Bike Course

I have ridden the Musselman half-IM bike course the past 2 weekends. It has been pretty hot both times as well as windy. Since I haven't raced Musselman in 2009 and I am disadvantaged due to my issues this year, I wanted to do some recon so that I am as prepared as I can be.

My first ride of the course was good, albeit slow. It was very hot and I was testing out a new drink - Skratch Lab Secret Drink Mix - recommended by a whole bunch of people. (But that is for another post). I didn't get my ride started until noon because I wanted to sleep. Did I mention it was hot out? Yeah. I got fried in the sun for over 3 hours. But it was good to scope out the course because it's deceptively hard. It is also really, really boring to ride alone.

I went back this past Saturday to ride it again. This time, I had plans to go early and ride with company (I was meeting a friend at 8:15 to be riding by 8:30). I met her there and we were off.. and then 20 minutes into the ride, I got a flat tire. Ugh. We changed it, but since Jill was on a tight schedule, we decided to skip riding through Sampson State Park and to just ride back on 96A - no big deal. Until my tire went flat AGAIN about one minute later. I ended up walking down 96A for a good 30 minutes or more while Jill rode back to Geneva, put her bike in my car, got her car, came and got me, and we took my bike to Geneva Bike Center so that THEY could change flat #2. By the time they were done, it was after 10 am. Jill was no longer going to be able to ride the course, but we somehow picked up Solveig at the shop, and they rode the first 45 minutes of the course with me (past the flat tire stop) and then turned around while I continued on.

I really tried to take note the second time around of places where I could push, places where I needed to sit back and spin, and spots where I would need to be prepared for steep hills or sharp turns. I also got chased by 2 very scary dogs. The first one ran RIGHT in front of me, requiring me to slam on my brakes and skid past it. Solveig crashed her bike due to a loose dog on this very same course two years ago, so you can understand my fear. I BARELY missed that dog. Over an hour later, a different dog started chasing me, although this dog wouldn't let up and chased me for at least 45 seconds. I just couldn't drop the dog and I thought it was going to bite me! I kept trying to figure out if I could unclip and kick it in the face. I love dogs and don't condone that type of behavior, but I was scared to death!

Anyways, moral of the story - don't ride by yourself or you might be eaten by a dog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Growing Up is Part of the Game

I'm not quite sure what is happening to me.

Not only is my apartment clean (like, clean and picked up enough for company) at all times, I find myself vacuuming multiple times a week. Part of that is due to my cat shedding like CRAZY but also, I just am nuts about my carpet being clean. I feel the urge to immediately put things away once I use them. At one point in my life, I would throw clothes on the floor, leave items on the counter, have piles of paperwork sitting around. Now, I unpack my gym back immediately after getting home. I put groceries right away. I file my paid bills weekly. If I watch a DVD, I put it away right after I finish it, rather than leaving the DVD in the player and the case sitting on the floor. The only thing on the floor right now (other than my furniture, obviously) are my slippers.

Where is this neat-freak attitude coming from? God knows it wasn't there for the first 27 years of my life! What happened at age 28?!

I have also bought (and worn) a bunch of dresses this spring. Basically, whenever I go out with my friends now, I try to look nice and dresses are becoming more normal for me to wear. I even have a pair of heels! (There is a first for everything I guess).

Maybe I am growing up finally? I am proud of what I have accomplished, even though it may not be a lot compared to more successful people. But I have a job, an apartment, a car, good friends, I can support myself as well as my 2 pets (one which is expensive as s&%*), I can afford to do triathlons, at which I seem to do pretty well. It is time to be proud of the things that I have done rather than be hung up on the things that I want to do but haven't been successful at just yet.

I am just in an odd mood tonight. I have been streaming "Friday Night Lights" through Netflix. If you don't know, it's a TV show that ran a few years ago about a high school football team in Texas. I don't really care for football, but the show is good. And tonight, I cried during an episode. Not even cried.. SOBBED. For no reason other than it was a little sad.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Keuka Lake Tri Race Report


I got up at 4, showered, dressed, ate, and left at 5. I was wearing my new QT2 kit that I had just gotten in the mail and had yet to wear (classic mistake but it was a nice quality kit so I wasn't worried about trying it out first!). The drive to Penn Yan was uneventful, I just rocked out to my "running" playlist on the way down! While I was picking up my packet in the gym, I got a phone call from my dad (and of course my "You Can Call Me Al" ringtone was echoing all throughout the gym before I could dig it out of my bag to answer it!) saying that my mom didn't feel well and that they weren't going to come. I was disappointed because I haven't seen them in a while, AND they were going to bring the race T-shirt quilt that my cousin made me, and they usually bring the dog too, but it was a crappy day so I'm sure they had more fun at home and not standing in the rain in Penn Yan watching me do yet another race!

Solveig and I pre-race under the red tent
I set up my transition and then brought my bag to set it under Matt K's tent. It was pretty cold so Solveig and I wandered around with our wetsuits half on and coats on top. We watched the intermediate waves go off and then went back to put our stuff away. We were in the same wave which started at 8:30 - an hour after the first swim wave went off for the intermediate race. That's what sucks about the sprint.. standing around in your wetsuit while freezing your ass off for an hour!

I love seeing friends in transition before a race, or milling around the swim start. I am really in my element at a race and I am much more personable and outgoing than in other situations. I just think it's a lot of fun to see everyone!


The water was a lot warmer than it usually is at Keuka. I would say normally it is high 50s, maybe low 60s, but today it was 67 degrees. So basically, a bath. Our wave got in and only then did I realize how choppy the water was! I positioned myself in the front towards the outside (to avoid the crowd - ever since IMCDA I have been a little freaked out in the pack) and we were off! Once I started swimming, the chop wasn't too bad. I was swimming mid-pack for a while and then started passing girls once we rounded the first buoy. By the time I reached the 2nd buoy, I was catching swimmers from the previous wave and had pretty much settled in by myself - behind the fast ladies but ahead of the pack. That is usually how it goes for me.. I need to figure out how to jump to that next level! I was happy to finish the swim, like always!

15:32 - 11th OA, 2nd AG


I ripped off my cap and goggles, ran up the stairs, got the top half of my wetsuit off, gave a wave to Mary who was announcing, and ran to my spot transition. I had a pretty shitty transition. First race of the year is always rough and I had to put my Garmin on my wrist, and my new Garmin (Gary the vibrating Garmin to be specific) has a wristband that has holes in it - not velcro like my old one, so it took me a few tries to get it on. Everything else was smooth enough I guess.

1:28 - 7th OA, 2nd AG


I saw Jeremy as I was running through bike out and got mounted and headed out onto the course. Since it was such a short race I started hammering immediately. It was raining by this point but I don't mind riding in the rain, and even though it was chilly, I felt fine in just my tri kit. I am almost never cold in races so I didn't bother with arm warmers or anything - most of the other people I saw out there had the same idea as me. As in all sprint races, it was mostly a man-passing-fest. I like passing men so I had a lot of fun with it. More than halfway down the "out" part of the course, I passed a woman wearing an Erie Triathlon Club outfit that was in my swim wave. I made a hard pass and didn't see here again during the bike leg. I had originally gone into this race to "have fun" but of course that went out the window when I started racing. Especially since I won the stupid race last year, I had it in my head that I could get on the podium again (maybe not in first but at least top 3). So once I passed that chick, I laid down the hammer going down the long descent on 54A. For a while it was fun - I am pretty bold on downhills, but then I started reflecting back on my crash that happened just 2 weeks prior and remembered how unpleasant it was. That combined with the wet course, the debris on the road, the other riders (many who were probably beginners), and the upcoming 180 turnaround at the bottom of the hill, I decided that I was being an idiot so I sat up and slowed down a bit. I made the turn and started back up the hill. Since I am small, I always make a lot of passes going up hills. One guy even commented on how strong I was climbing the hill and I yelled back at him that it was because I only weigh 115 lbs. Sometimes, I don't know why I say the things I say, but it's true anyways.

looking happy in the new QT2 kit!
41:34 - 20.2 mph, 4th OA, 1st AG


I made it back into transition thoroughly soaked and sad that the bike was over. I had a little trouble finding my spot in transition, but got my stuff off easily enough, and grabbed my hat and race number. This transition should be under 1 minute and I just could not get my running sneakers on (they were soaked and  I could NOT figure out how to change my Garmin to "run" using the auto-multisport mode (this is one of those things that I need to learn BEFORE race day) so I had to reset it and just set it to run the regular way. As I was exiting transition and fiddling with my Garmin, Mary yelled to me, and then someone in front of me yelled "ALEXA" and turned to give me a high five. I had no idea who it was - turns out it was my friend Marty haha.

1:17 -  39th OA, 4th AG


My goal for the run was just to run. I have barely run this entire year, I have had runner's knee and now a really sore right leg from the crash. I knew I COULD run 3 miles, just slowly. At least it was raining and not hot. I just tried to keep my head down and my pace as fast as possible. The Erie chick passed me back a little before the mile mark and she was going too fast for me to keep up with. Otherwise, I saw a bunch of Train-This and QT2 teammates out on the course so that was good. Dan Jareke and Rich Clark were watching/cheering and yelled for me too!

it's so pretty!

25:06 - 8:06 min/mile, 20th OA, 4th AG

Finish Time: 1:24:57 - 4th OA, 1st AG

F25-29 Sprint Podium

Matt Kellman in his mullet wig. sexy.
My performance at this race ended up being about 5 minutes slower than last year, where I finished in 1:19:53 and won the race. I will contribute part of it to the race conditions (choppier water and rain/wind on the bike) and part of it to my lack of in-shape-ness (last year I was in peak Ironman condition for the upcoming IMCDA). I still managed to do pretty well in the race - I did not make the podium but I was 4th OA female and won my age group. Prizes were pretty good too - instead of a plaque or a medal that would just get stuck in a drawer, I got a bottle of wine (YES MORE WINE) and a jar of almond butter. Yum! Greg also got on the podium with a win in his age group for the intermediate distance, which qualified him for Age Group Nationals, so congrats to GREG! Score-This always puts on a great race at Keuka!

Afterwards, I went to this ice cream place with Greg, his wife Amanda, his parents, and 2 of his friends that I met that day. Who turns down homemade ice cream? Not this girl!

On my drive home from Penn Yan, my windshield wipers broke and are now stuck halfway up my windshield. So that looks awesome when I am driving around. I have to take my car to the Hyundai dealer tomorrow to have it looked at. Thank god for warranties!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Ins and Outs

So my Keuka Lake Tri race report is written, but I am waiting on photos before I publish it! In the meantime, I have done a bunch of fun things recently that don't involve triathlon.

me and Jessie in Jim Thorpe
A few weeks ago, I took a weekend trip to the Poconos area to visit one of my best friends in the entire world. Jessie and I were college roommates at Slippery Rock and fellow pre-physical therapy majors, although I am a year older than her. She went on to get her DPT whereas I changed my course of study junior year to straight biology. Even though I hadn't seen her since 2009 when I ran the Philadelphia Marathon (she lives in Philly and came to see me after the race), it really made no difference. We ate some food, hit up some wineries, did some drinking, got pedicures, and in general just had a fun, relaxing weekend. We have vowed to get together at LEAST once a year from now on!

Ari and I got a bottle of wine at Aladdin's
Memorial Day weekend was fun - I had 4 days off. I took Friday off specifically because Chrissie Wellington's book tour was coming to Toronto and I was going to drive up to see her. Yes, I am that obsessed that I will drive over 300 miles and into a different country just to hug Chrissie. I was about 10 minutes outside of Buffalo when I got a bunch of messages saying that Chrissie had canceled her event at GEARS bike shop because she had lost her passport and couldn't fly to Canada. I was not happy. At all. I *may* have cried. Thank god I was told before I crossed into Canada and turned off my cell phone! I turned a sad day into a happier one by going shopping at the Galleria and buying a cute dress at least. I then spent the rest of the weekend drinking. I think.. at least Thursday night, Friday night and Sunday night. And then I got yelled at by Mary so no more wine for me.. for a while. :)
Ari was also drinking water as to stay properly hydrated

This past Friday, I went to see Michael Franti and Spearhead with Steve Winwood at CMAC with Solveig. I like Michael Franti and I am pretty much open to most musical experiences. The problem - we had lawn tickets and it was a 100% chance of rain. We said "screw it" and went anyways, managed to get seats under the cover of the amphitheatre, and had lots of fun! We left early (after Franti but about halfway through Steve Winwood). He was just too mellow with too many saxophone solos and we were both freezing and tired by 10:30 pm. Basically, we are grandmas. It was a good time though. I would love to go to a show and actually be able to lie on the lawn on a blanket and not freeze my ass off!
we were freezing our butts off under a giant umbrella

I am obviously doing well with the "be more social" New Years Resolution that I made! :)