Thursday, November 7, 2013

There is a light at the end of the tunnel

..and I can see it! (Not to be too cliche).

I have 4 more weeks of class and then one week of "finals" which I assume will be the week I hand in the final project. I just handed in project #2 on Monday at 5:30. Project #2 was much better than #1. I am feeling more confident and in control with this class than I was a mere 5 weeks ago. Our quiz grades are also being adjusted, so that means my grade will go up, AND the 2nd quiz has been eliminated altogether! Things are definitely looking up for my grade. I can't say that I have enjoyed this particular class, but it has earned my respect and I am so happy to be back in school again and in a challenging, learning environment. It brings out the best in me.

Because I am nearing the end of this hell course, I have started getting excited about all of the other things I can do with my free time once it's over! I have a big to-do list involving my house. (I know you ALL are dying to pitch in and help me with these projects). :) Also, a pile of books to read! And Christmas to get ready for! (Maybe it's a bit too early for that).

I'm going to get Hedwig set up on the trainer in the basement and get that party started. I am SO excited to start training in earnest again! I hope to start back up with coaching with MARY in January! Also, once it snows - XC skiing!

Also, I finally got my CAT3 upgrade in cyclocross after winning the CAT4 race at Ellison Park a few weeks ago. It took a while for the upgrade to go through but it finally did! I am not sure how much I will get to race for the rest of this season (I am thinking maybe once more) but it will be nice to start out next year as a legit Open rider.

There are so many good things to look forward to!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, October 21, 2013

October is my favorite month for a reason!

Two great weekends in a row? How is this happening? Things are looking up!!

Saturday I actually had time to go see Cherry in the morning, since I no longer have that whole "training for the marathon" commitment thing.. which means I don't have to squeeze 3+ hour runs in on Saturday mornings. I've taken 2 easy weeks of recovery from the marathon (first week I ran 0 miles, last week I ran 10) and now I am ready to get back into it, but it will be nice knowing that I don't HAVE to do these long runs on the weekend and can go see (and even ride) my poor neglected horse instead! However, I really don't want to lose my run fitness so I am going to try to keep my mileage steady. Maybe no 20 mile runs for a while but I would like to keep my long runs at about 2 hours on the weekends when I can.

After visiting with Cherry on Saturday and doing a bit of homework, I donned my ballgown, pinned on my race number, laced up my running sneakers, and walked the half-mile to Johnny's Irish Pub where the annual Johnny's Run Like Hell Halloween race is held. I love this race and I do it every year if possible! Usually I race it as a typical 5K but this year I was asked to be in a 6-pack (6 people dress up in a theme and have to run together, attached together) by my friend Rich. Our theme was Cinderella, and 6 of us ran together, with Rich pushing his daughter, Chloe, who was dressed as Cinderella, in a stroller that was paper mached to be a giant pumpkin (aka, Cinderella's pumpkin carriage). Rich was the stagecoach driver, we had a Prince Charming, a fairy godmother, 2 ugly stepsisters (I was one of them) and... the horse pulling the pumpkin carriage. It was pretty ridiculous but we ended up winning the costume originality contest!

a dress with puffy sleeves - not the easiest ensemble to run in
with medals and celebratory beers!
 I spent the rest of Saturday working on my homework, which I made a lot of progress on which left me feeling good for Sunday - Ellison Park Cyclocross day! This is a 2 day race but I had skipped Saturday's race so that I could do all of the things that I just talked about. I love cyclocross but it is definitely time consuming and sometimes I need to do other things instead. Anyways, waking up and dragging myself to the race on Sunday morning was a chore. I was tired, it was FREEZING in my house, I couldn't find any of
my gear (since I was too lazy to pack it up the night before) and I almost bailed. This seems like the story of every cyclocross race that I have done this year.

I am soooooooo glad I went.

  I got there, rode the course once to get a feel for the hills and the rhythm. It wasn't very muddy which was good, although there were some sketchy sections and a muddy run-up called "the ladder" plus the famous section going up the hill that they love referring to as the Alpe d'Huez. I raced Saturday last year (as my first cyclocross race ever), which is ridden in the reverse direction. I've heard that Saturday is harder than Sunday.. which, after yesterday, I can agree with. Either way, it's still hard in both directions and it has the most climbing out of any of the cross races I've ever done. There were 5 women in the CAT4 race and I needed to either get 1st or 2nd to get my points for my upgrade to CAT3. I really didn't care which place I got going in.. but then we started racing and I was right on the tail of the leader, Leah, for the whole first lap, and the other 3 women had fallen behind. So I am thinking "don't do anything stupid, and you'll get 2nd" fully knowing that ANYTHING can happen in a cyclocross race. She wasn't able to pull away from me in the first lap, and she was riding more conservatively than I was on the downhills. I was following her up the switchbacks and the last turn at the top of the Alpe d'Huez was muddy, and she jumped off and ran it while I was able to ride it, so once we rounded out the top of the hill and started going down, I made my pass going around a corner. And that was it.. I led for the remaining 2 laps, although she was not very far behind me. I had the world's best cheerleader there - Emily - who also took some great photos. I managed to not mess up at all except when I caught one of the CAT4 men that had started 1 min before us. He had some trouble at the muddy, squirrel corner at the top of the hill and slid out right in front of me, which caused me to stop, and I had to hop off my bike (on the wrong side), run around him, get on the left side of my bike, get back on and get going again, still while going up the hill. Not happy. Then he passed me going back down the hill. Seriously, just make up your mind and get away!! Ugh.
down the hill
the barriers, where the race announcer complimented me on my technique :)
the ladder.. I need spikes in my shoes!
pushing it into the finish (that's my game face for the entire 40 mins)
 Anyways, I won! It was awesome and I loved being referred to as "the women's leader" by the announcer (yes, at these pro races they actually have an announcer!). I got a sweet medal and (I think) my upgrade points! The 2nd place woman, Leah, also got her upgrade points so YAY for more women in the open races that are around my speed! I stuck around for a bit to eat some food, drink some Rohrbach's delicious root beer, and spectate the female pro race.
women's CAT4 podium! sadly missing 2nd place

Emily, Ken, me, Solveig cheering for pro women

I then had to head home and finish the rest of my homework, which took much longer than expected - oh well. Also, I finally had to turn on my heat last evening. I was wearing a coat while trying to do my homework which is just ridiculous. My AC units are still in my windows (that is a whole different story) so I haven't wanted to turn on the heat because it will just go right out through those vents and talk about throwing your money away! But I had to because it was 62 degrees in my house! I NEED to get those things out this week!

I'm trying to tone down the next few weekends. I need a break. It's been fun but there is always a "homework panic" on Sunday night and it really stressed me out!

Also, for some other (much more interesting) blog reading, check out Jennie's Kona race report here!

Friday, October 18, 2013

You're gonna hear me ROAR

I had the most fantastic weekend at one of my closest friend's bachelorette party. Even though Jessie lives in New Jersey and most of her friends are from the Philadelphia area, she wanted her bachelorette party to be a wine tour in the Finger Lakes! (Lucky for me). We rented a huge house in Geneva on Seneca Lake, got a limo for the day on Saturday, and went to ~5 wineries (plus 3 other wineries on Friday night). Everyone else had a 6+ hour drive but mine was only 1!

this was my first time in a limo!

No details ;) .. but it was awesome. I was apprehensive going in because I had never met any of the other girls and being in a house with 9 other people is not my ideal situation. It was amazing how much fun we all had and how it didn't even matter that I had never met any of them! I kept saying "I was so worried about this, I am an introvert" and they kept telling me that there was no way that I am an introvert. (True story - I am totally an introvert though). We even jumped in Seneca Lake in freakin' October!

there was a lot of screaming going on here

good thing I am used to freezing cold lakes

This is my first time being a bridesmaid and I am very excited. Jessie has been a very close friend since college. Even though we don't see each other very often, when I do see her it's like no time has passed at all! I am sooooooo excited for her wedding which is next spring!

me and Jessie!!
Anyways, the weekend was exactly what I needed. I have been so stressed and bogged down with lots of things lately.. going away for 2 whole days and not thinking or worrying about anything was perfect. I came home with a clearer head (plus a hangover and 3 misc. bottles of wine) and with a new attitude. Mostly just to do what I need to do in order to be happy.

I have a bunch of new friends :)
And, I am over halfway through my class! As of right now, the class average on the one quiz was a 55 (which I got a 60 on) and the professor already said that he would do something about that grade (either adjust it or make it worth less). I have gotten at least a 9/10 on every homework assignment (except perhaps this last one that I handed in on Tuesday - oh well). And the project that I spent 20 hours working on before and after the marathon (which I definitely handed in with parts incomplete because I ran out of time/patience).. I got an 89% on.. and with the class average at about an 80, means I got an A on it. It also turns out he "intended" the project to take 7-ish hours and it took everyone WAY more than that, so he is going to cut the following two projects in half in terms of size! Which means that I won't have to kill myself two more times. So it will be manageable, and I am certain I will pass (barring any disasters).. just whether or not I will get the A or B that I need to be reimbursed remains to be seen.

If there is anything to be learned from this class (other than the obvious which is programming in SAS and R) is that I am incredibly tenacious. Sometimes I will get really upset - there are rumpled, tear-stained pages of my textbooks to prove that - and I am terrified of failing and want to quit, but I don't. I will fight on, and on, and on for what I want and think that I deserve. Sometimes it gets me into trouble, but most of the time it enables me to do things like Ironman, grad. school, etc.

I think I am going to keep writing. I took a loooong break and most of my blogger friends have also ceased writing, but it's very therapeutic for me. I can spew my thoughts into the world without anyone having to actually be on the opposite end of the complaining (unless they choose to click the link).


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wineglass Marathon Race Report

Sunday I ran my 2nd ever marathon (I don't count the IM marathon as a real marathon since for me.. there is not much real "running" after about mile 13) and first marathon since 2009!

I didn't really have a time goal going into this race. Due to my 9 week training plan and stress from school, I was happy to make it to the starting line. I was also grumpy because I had spent about 20 hours in the 3 previous days working on a huge project for class. I guess I hoped to run faster than I did in Philly (3:59) but I really had no idea what was going to happen.

me and Solveig at the start of our trip
I rode down to Corning with Solveig and we picked up our packets and wine glasses. For some reason, the half-marathoners got really nice colored shirts and the full marathoners got construction cone orange ones. Awful! We hung around Corning for a bit until it was time to go to the pasta dinner at the Radisson where we both met Bart Yasso (of Yasso 800 fame) and got autographed copies of his book. He was awesome! If you ever have a chance to go see him speak - do it! He's hilarious and even though he once was pretty fast and now is not (due to Lyme Disease) he still runs, loves it, and advocates for it around the world. Then we went to our hotel in Elmira and went to bed. Woke up at 5 and took a shower, stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for coffee and a bagel and then got on the shuttle to take me to the marathon start. It was about a 30 min. ride on a school bus. The start was pretty laid back. There were lots of porta-potties so the bathroom lines weren't unreasonable, and while it was a bit chilly, the weather could have been much worse (i.e. rain) at the start. I headed over to the start line at about 10 til 8 and lined up with the 3:55 pace group.


Bart Yasso!
impossible to run the Wineglass Marathon  without having a glass of wine the night before the race!
The start is downhill and I immediately felt like crap. I felt like I couldn't stick with the pace group which was slightly disheartening. This went on for about 4 miles - I didn't like running in the middle of the pace group because it was really crowded, hot, loud, and smelled like BO. But I didn't want to run behind it because I thought I might lose it. I ended up running right in front of it while worrying that it was going to engulf me if I slowed down, and then after about 4 miles I started to feel really good and dropped them. I ran along by myself just listening to music (good decision to wear the headphones) until about the halfway point where I then found myself running and chatting with a random lady. I ran with her until about mile 18 (and my friend Will for a while in there too) and at that point, I started to feel REALLY good and eventually took off from them. Somehow, my fastest 2 miles of the day were miles 19 and 20 at 8:16 and 8:15 pace. Considering my longest run since 2011 was 18 miles and most of my long runs were done at about 9:30 pace, I don't know how I did this. All I know is that I was FLYING through marathoners. I was passing people like they had been running for 20 miles and I had just started. I don't know where this burst of speed/energy came from or how I was able to do it. I ran like that until about mile 22 and then my quads started to really complain. At mile 24, I was done. At that point I was forcing myself to keep running (hobbling) and not to walk. My Garmin was also 0.20 miles ahead of the actual distance so that was annoying, I would look at it and think I was closer to the finish than I actually was. I crossed the finish line in 3:53 and was sooooooo happy to be done!

right after finishing - too hot for that space blanket!

Solveig and I with our medals!
what a lovely finisher's medal!
I found Solveig and my parents, got changed, pounded some caffeine (mmmm Coke.. liquid crack), went to lunch (where I couldn't eat anything because my stomach was messed up still) and then headed home to.. do more homework! And eat a TON of desserts that I shamelessly bought from Wegmans.

Nutrition worked out well for me - I ate a Shot Blok every 2 miles and drank mostly Gatorade at every aid station. I guess it was pretty hot and humid out, but there was no sun, so the heat didn't bother me until I finished, and then I felt like I was on fire.

So, thoughts on my race.

It's weird, in some ways I am really happy with my race. I knew going in that it was going to be a crap shoot. My knee has still not 100% recovered from my injury (from almost 2 years ago now), I essentially did all of my training runs at endurance pace, my weekly mileage peaked at about 40 mpw, and my long runs did not give me a lot of confidence towards the race. Just a lot of mediocre feelings going in (plus so much school stress in the weeks leading up to the race that it was literally the LAST thing on my mind).. so the fact that I a) ran the entire race (with the exception of a few walk breaks at aid stations to avoid splashing Gatorade all over myself) and b) I did PR - make me happy. I was really happy that I was able to pick it up so much at the +18 mile mark. I have never been able to do that before, that's for sure. And I definitely have more durability after the 3 Ironmans.

That being said - it was an easier course than Philly and I think I paced better (did not go out too fast) because my goals were much less optimistic than they were in Philly. So only a 6 minute PR after 4 years of massive amounts of training hours and an easier course is not very impressive to me.

It really just lit the fire to do another stupid marathon. I am looking towards Pittsburgh in May. (Even I am not stupid enough to try to do anymore serious training until this class is over).

Friday, October 4, 2013

Graduate School as a (Relatively) Serious Athlete


Let me recap my life since my last post. It's been: marathon training, house painting, more biathlon, some roller-skiing, a bunch of cyclocross races, and class.

Now, it's basically just class.

My marathon is Sunday. Sadly, I have barely had any time to get excited about it because I also have a GIANT-ASS project due for class on Monday. So if "tapering" means "4+ hours of sitting at my kitchen table writing code every night of the week" then yes, my taper is going swell!

I am just happy that I am still doing the marathon (I considered dropping out due to this project) and I am going to try to just enjoy it, not think about school for the duration of the race (hah), and not get upset when I don't do very well (which is probably the case since I definitely crammed all of my training in last-minute). Although I will thank Jennie for writing me a training plan and being very reassuring that I will make it though in one piece! Thanks Jennie!

So let me talk about my class. I am 6 weeks into the hell known as "Statistical Software" at RIT. My first class in this M.S. program (Applied Statistics). Some background. I was a 3.98 student in undergrad. Graduated Summa Cum Laude from Slippery Rock U. and won the "Outstanding Biology Senior" award. I have taken graduate level classes before when I was in graduate school that other time (which I also did well in). Nothing.. NOTHING prepared me for this god-awful class. Three hours of class on Monday night where we execute code for two different statistical computer programs. (SAS and R). I have actually used SAS before so I thought I would have a slight advantage: wrong. Then homework outside of class which takes at LEAST 12 hours to do. Every week. Plus reading the assigned chapters in the book. Plus going through all of the in-class code that we don't get to in class because we are learning not 1, but 2 programs simultaneously. It's basically - here's 2 books (I bought a 3rd book to help myself out), google, and 2000 lines of code as notes - have fun. Trying to actually absorb and understand the material is just out of the question, as I am struggling to just get the homework completed every week.

What's sad is that I actually kind of like the programming. It's basically data manipulation and problem solving. I don't even mind doing it. It's just too much all at once I think and it's like my brain is just overloaded with information and things to try.. and it takes HOURS to figure a problem out.

I know that I am whining. But I am a hard worker. I am smart. I am a good student. I love to learn. I love to be challenged. What I don't love is busting my ass on these homework assignments, which I have managed to do well on (at a great personal sacrifice called my life) and then going to class to take a quiz which I had no time to study for (due to aforementioned homework assignments).. and then getting a 60 on the quiz because it was so specific and detailed that I had no idea what some of the answers were. I don't get 60s. What was the class average? A 55. I feel slightly better.

Like I said, I am ok with working hard. What I don't like is being asked to work at a level that is beyond my ability as a 29 year old woman with a full time job, a home, hobbies, and daily life responsibilities.. to give more hours for which I have time, to sacrifice the things in my life that I enjoy and make my life happy and worth being here for (like exercising, riding my horse, seeing my friends, working on my house) in order to *barely* get my work done. I can't even get the things done that *need* to get done (like mowing my lawn, getting the oil changed in my car, taking the AC units out of my window.. I could go on and on - my house is falling apart). I didn't expect going into graduate school that I would be able to keep a lazy schedule. I didn't think I could go to class and then spend the rest of my time lying around on the couch watching Netflix. However, I did expect there to be some balance. Like maybe I have to cut out weeknight activities sometimes because I need to study. Or I spend some time Saturday and Sunday afternoons doing homework. Not spending hours every day writing programs or fiddling with code, and then mentally breaking down about it because I can't commit at that level. I don't want to feel guilty doing the things that I love because I am worried about all of the homework I have to do. I don't want to have to leave my friend's birthday party before getting to eat cake because all I can think about is the pile of homework waiting for me at home. I don't want to be a bitch to everyone all the time because I am that stressed out.

Being able to balance is incredibly important to me.

I hit my limit this weekend with this class. I cried every day last week, I called my parents and cried on Sunday, I went to see my RIT adviser (who I had never met) and cried to him. I was ready to give up, withdraw from the class and the program, and go on with my life $5000 poorer but ultimately happier. Because for me - happy needs to come first. Talking to my adviser saved me I think. He assured me that this particular class is not indicative of this program. That if I can make it though this class, it WILL get better. I WANT to do this Master's Degree. I just have to get over this hurdle first. It's going to be 9 more weeks of major suck-fest, but I know I can do it now. I have made my decision and I am determined. And if I can get an A, that will just be a big F-you to this stupid class!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Just Keep Shooting

Two weekends ago I tried something completely foreign to me - summer biathlon! K-Dub somehow coerced me to travel south of Syracuse to partake in a 5K running/shooting race when I have barely been running and have shot a gun only once in my entire life (last summer). I had not had the greatest week of my life and I thought that it would be a really good break from thinking about that, plus a lot of fun anyways! Jochen ended up going as well and the 3 of us carpooled to this really nice park - Pratt's Falls - which is south of Syracuse (not too far from Jamesville Beach which is where the Syr 70.3 is held).

The race was held by the Syracuse Biathlon Club and I figured it would be pretty small, which it was, but there were a whole bunch of novices racing, so that was good (as I am definitely a novice too). They gave us a safety clinic, then we ran one loop of the course (it was a 1K loop), which of COURSE was trails, and then we did a gun demo where we all got to try the guns.

The basic format is as follows: time trial start, run 1K loop, shoot gun at 5 targets, for all targets missed - run ~250 m penalty loop, proceed to next 1K loop, repeat repeat so that you run 5K (minus penalty loops) and shoot 4 times (4 x 5 targets = 20 shots total).

me, Jochen, Kevin pre-race!

Somehow, I started this race off as the first to go in the time trial. Ridiculous. But it meant a completely clear shooting range as I got there first! Novices shot prone as it is MUCH easier (apparently) and we got to shoot the larger targets. Someone like Kevin who races open had to shoot twice prone (at smaller targets) and twice standing. I actually shot pretty well; in my 4 "rounds" of shooting I hit 3, 3, 1 (oops) and 2 of the 5 targets. Doesn't look that impressive but it's pretty hard when you've been running and then you have to stop, lie down on the ground, pick up a gun, and shoot, all while your heart is still pounding and you are still out of breath!

I am sooooooo badass

heading out for loop #2

I ended up winning the women's novice division (there were only 3 of us though) but I shot pretty well.. easily in the top half and I think probably better than that!

I will definitely be going back to the next race in August and now I totally want to buy a gun.. yikes!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well, I have less than 48 hours before I leave for Europe. I'll be arriving in Berlin on Friday, going to Matthias' wedding in a town outside of Berlin on Saturday, then staying in Berlin for a few days. I will then head to the Czech Republic to visit Prague for a few days, and then back to Munich. I'll be in Europe for almost 2 weeks! Crazy how quickly this trip approached!

Matthias and I after a ride!

My life.. has been absolute insanity for the last several months. Let's see.. what have I done:

1) I did the Seneca7 relay around Seneca Lake with the best team anyone could ever ask for (Inside Voices). We had a great day and it was definitely the most fun race I've ever done. I probably should have written a race report but I forgot, and the race was too awesome for words anyways. You'll have to be satisfied with a few photos.

being silly in the team car - Don's Tahoe

after the race - Inside Voices!
2) I bought a house. Yup. Ms. "Terrified-of-Commitment" bought a house! It's a small 2 bedroom ranch in E. Irondequoit. I LOVE it! It's totally my style (small, unique, and as of right now - a complete blank slate to be changed to fit my personality). I close on June 21st, which is 8 days after I get back from my trip. Yikes! I was so tired of renting a tiny apartment where I had no storage or space, and after talking it over with my parents, decided to go for it! I enlisted the help of my realtor friend Eddy, and together, in a mere 7 days (I KNOW) we found and put an offer in on this house!! I am in love and sooooooooo excited, and so proud of myself for taking what I consider to be a pretty big step in my life! It's kind of crazy too.. I feel like I never do anything the "normal" way. The housing market in Rochester is pretty hot right now - at least in the neighborhood in which I was looking. A beautiful house will go on the market, and within one day, there will be multiple offers and an ongoing bidding war. Alternatively, my house sat on the market for 2 months before I found it and put in the one and only offer. Eddy had added this house last minute after another one that we had an appointment to see went off the market.. I had looked at it on the real estate website multiple times.. clicked past it due to the photos. I'm not sure if it was out there for that long because it's small (980 sq. feet) or because it doesn't have a ton of curb appeal (although I think it's uniquely adorable), or because the listing photos were awful (seriously - AWFUL) but the minute I walked in the door, I loved it. And that was it! Shockingly, I don't have any photos of it besides one of the roof.. I have been nervous about this whole process and haven't wanted to jinx it by taking photos and plastering them everywhere since I don't even own it yet!

3) I finished Calc II at MCC. With an A. BAM! It was hard - I am not going to deny that. I spent Monday and Wednesday evenings in class every week. Often I then had to pull an overnight shift AFTER spending 2 hours in class. I spent every Tuesday night doing homework, and many, many Friday and Saturday nights as well. I am not going to lie.. it was challenging to get everything done and a lot of the time I felt like I was falling behind on my homework. I definitely fell off the radar in terms of my social life. It was bad and it's something I need to work on as I continue with the balance of work, education, exercise, and social life. The last 2 took a HUGE hit this semester. But I am glad that I got through the class, did well, and turns out - my brain does still work!! I did really, really well in the class and I am glad that I did. Next time, I might be able to get through a class without such a giant effort (basically - I was incredibly over-prepared for every exam and had a 106% going into the final exam.. so probably didn't need to work QUITE so hard).


4) I have ridden Cherry every single weekend that I have been in Rochester (except when there were horse shows going on at the barn or when I was sick). This has been really good for me (mentally) and for Cherry as well, and I have LOVED it. She is such a blessing in my life.

who wouldn't love that face?!

5) A few weeks ago I saw Les Mis at the Auditorium Theatre. I got invited by my friend Rachel who was coming to Rochester with her band kids (she teaches band at a high school near where I went to high school) for their band trip and they had an extra ticket! Of course I snatched that opportunity up and it was freakin' amazing. Rachel also did IMLP last year with her husband Mike (who was my high school XC coach). They are both phenomenal runners and if you want to read her truly captivating blog post about her experience at the 2013 Boston Marathon, click here.

6) Signed up for the Wineglass Marathon! Woo! (Because who wouldn't be motivated to run towards a glass of wine?)

7) Bought an iPad mini! I have been eyeing an iPad for a while because they are neat-o but could never justify the cost of such an unnecessary gadget. However, since planning this two week solo expedition to Europe, I determined that the iPad was the perfect tool for traveling and staying connected with friends/family, uploading photos to facebook, navigating, etc. I love the smaller size of the mini and I have been using it constantly since I bought it a few weeks ago.

It feels good to have direction. I am not racing anything specifically this year other than Wineglass (and that is so I can wait until after this class/house/Europe nonsense is over with so I can focus on some actual training) but I am ok with that. I am excited about the house, excited to go back to school, REALLY excited to go to Europe (also terrified to be going alone!).

I will see everyone when I get back from Europe! Apparently Berlin is really rolling out the welcome wagon for me.. they are erecting buildings in my honor even (HAH)!

there is a shopping center in Berlin named after me! or perhaps I am named after it..?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Happy Winter Storm Nemo!

What have I been up to?

Since all of the snow melted, I have not been skiing but for 3 times since my weekend in Lake Placid. Luckily, Winter Storm Nemo dropped some snow on us on Friday, so I was able to get some skiing in both Saturday and Sunday at Mendon Ponds Park. In typical Alexa fashion, I got lost on Sunday trying to ski the Quaker Pond trail (that's the purple trail for all of you who can actually follow a map) and emerged at a trailhead that was so not the one I parked at. Since it was getting dark soon (again, seems to be theme with me), a nice couple drove me back to my car.


I am also several weeks into Calculus 2 at Monroe Community College. It's fun and I really like being in class again, doing homework (WHAT), and all that jazz, but it is HARD to adjust to being away from the apartment for so many more hours per week. Especially since I have been on nights the entire time so far, so I will get home from work at 8 am, sleep until 4 pm, get up and get a quick workout in, eat dinner super early at 5:15, hop in the shower at around 5:40, and then I am out the door at 6:15 to be at class from 7-8:50. After class, I have been going to a random lounge (I like it because it's heated) in one of the MCC buildings and doing homework or practice problems until about 10:30 pm, which is when I head back to work for another night shift. It's been doable, but by Thursday evening (my class is Monday and Wednesday) I am EXHAUSTED and still have a night shift to get through. Maybe it will be better when I work days? Not sure yet.

However, I am one of those people that gets more done when they are busy. So this class, while adding quite a bit of stress to my mundane life, is helping me with time management. Because I know that homework is a priority, I will get my workouts done right away so that I can then do stuff for class, rather than sit around for hours dreading my workouts, only to eventually skip them because it has gotten "too late." I also like that I am being forced into critical thinking situations. Since I took Calculus 1 in 2002, I haven't looked a a derivative or an integral since then, and now I am being forced to work with both, which was stressful at first trying to recall this information but I guess it was buried in my head somewhere!

I actually have my first exam today! First exam since 2007!!!!!! Wish me luck!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ski Weekend in Lake Placid!

Day 1 at Mt. Van Hoevenberg
Things I learned this weekend:

1) Lake Placid is beautiful year round.

1) Ski pants are AWESOME! I am going to wear them at home and never turn my heat on again!

3) Men only talk to me in Lake Placid. A guy talked to me randomly on Saturday and then skied with us all day!

4) Learning to snowplow isn't too bad. Learning to turn.. hasn't happened yet.

Day 2 at Mt. Van Hoevenberg
5) It's actually possible to ENJOY winter! And now I am upset that it is 40 degrees in Rochester and the snow is all melting. :(

6) Hello hip flexors!

7) No bridge should cross a creek without guardrails.

8) I am sooooooo slow at XC skiing!

9) My "screaming while riding down hills on my cyclocross bike" thing definitely translates to skiing as well!

10) I can't wait to go back!

Kevin racing!

Solveig skate skiing

me skiing!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013: Keep calm, carry on, and play in the snow!

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2013!

Sometimes I do resolutions.. I can't remember if I did last year or not (I'd have to look back and check) but I don't think I'm going to do them this year. Other than simply: keep calm and carry on. More of a state of mind.

We got a bunch of snow right after Christmas. Almost 2 feet, which is a lot if you look at the last few winters in Rochester. I am not much for snow. I like not having to shovel my car out. I like having dry feet. I like being able to drive at normal speeds (especially when I time my arrival for everything at 1 minute before I have to be there). I like being reasonably warm when I'm outside. But considering where I live, I have decided to deal with it and embrace the suck snow this year.

Further examples of new "snow-loving Alexa" to follow.

I have Dion running snowshoes from a few years ago when my ex-boyfriend got me more involved in trail running, including snowshoe running. (I actually met him at a night-time winter trail series.. if only I still did crazy stuff like that!). I got them for Christmas from my parents. They tend to oblige even my crazier Christmas present requests (I also have an acoustic guitar which I soooo don't know how to play still). I hadn't used them since 2010 due to a hamstring issue in 2011 and a knee issue (and no snow) in 2012. I took them out for a run on Friday (the day after our snowstorm) for about 90 minutes in Mendon Ponds Park, got lost (typical) and had a blast! I also did some snowshoeing on New Year's Eve at the party I went to, at my friends' Ken and Emily's place!

Dions - made in Vermont!

 Saturday, I had my first foray into XC skiing at Bristol Mountain Nordic Center. I carpooled up there with Solveig and we met our friend Jill so that we could all take a lesson - Solveig owns skate skis and Jill and I rented them. Let me tell you, skate skiing is HARD! Solveig took to it really naturally (due to her Scandinavian background - or her super strong core - which is what I think), but it was definitely harder for Jill and I think hardest for me (as a total XC ski virgin). The lesson was great though, and despite getting Solveig's Prius stuck in the snow on the access road on our way home (the nordic center is at the TOP of stupid Bristol Mt.) and having to be towed by Jill's boyfriend and his truck, we had a blast!

terrible weather for driving

but BEAUTIFUL weather for skiing!

trying to look legit on my skis (probably barely staying upright)

Jill, me, and Solveig!

Sunday I rode Cherry on a trail ride through the snow, which was awesome, despite my toes freezing.

Monday, I bought XC skis. Yup! Totally spur of the moment because I also planned an XC ski birthday party for myself (because everyone I know XC skis AND my birthday is on a Saturday this year, what better way to celebrate!) and I totally wanted to have my own skis for the party! I decided to buy classic skis instead of skate-skis for a few reasons. 1) It was tricky when I tried it on Saturday, and I know myself well enough that if I get frustrated with something, I am more likely to quit, thus not helping my "embrace the snow" personal challenge. 2) They are cheaper. 3) They can go a lot more places: groomed trails, non-groomed trails, and basically anyplace that is not *too* much bush-whacking (I got regular length skis and not compact ones because I want to be able to go relatively fast, but they are wider than regular classic skis so they can also do some trail blazing). 4) I don't have to deal with waxing them.

I bought them from Park Ave Bike Shop here in Rochester, which is a shop that I frequent often with my bikes, and they did a great job hooking me up with skis! They know their shit, AND they do rentals, so if you want to come play with me in the snow, you can! :)

here they are!! so pretty!
Also, my parents (who are super awesome by the way) are going to pay for them as my birthday present! Seriously, I have the best parents ever.. they totally do not question my need for crazy outdoor gear and I know they just want me to do things that make me happy (even if that happiness comes from peeing on myself during 112 miles of an Ironman cycling leg or face-planting in a snow bank because I haven't yet figured out how to stop while skiing).

I actually skied on my new skis yesterday with Ari, Sam, Amy, and Ari's friend Seann (who is an actual ski instructor - HUGE HELP) for like 2 hours in Mendon Ponds Park and it was spectacular! I loved the whole thing and I love my skis! I also need a LOT of practice, especially going downhill. And turning. And stopping. You know, basically everything. Who knew it was possible to fall over while cross country skiing on a flat section!

Did I mention.. I am going to Lake Placid to SKI this weekend?? Lake Placid AKA the happiest place on Earth? Can't wait!! 

If I didn't live and breathe endurance sports, I honestly don't know what I would do with myself. And now I have another one to add to the mix! Hooray!

So no resolutions this year.. just continue searching for methods to deal with my sleep problems/anxiety as best as I can, stay with the exercising even though I don't feel like racing, and play with my friends (remain social!)! And maybe make some more new friends! I also wouldn't mind it if I rolled down a hill on my skis and accidentally plowed over a cute, single, outdoorsy boy with a beard and great sense of humor (or any of these guys) who I could apologize to over coffee and then go play outside with.. a girl can dream. :)