The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, July 31, 2006

Drink or Die

Yesterday was the Harlem Valley Rail Ride. I rode 55 miles at an average speed of 13 mph. That is further and faster than I have ever ridden. I ran into a few WCC riders at registration and I was able to ride with them. I was much happier riding with them than waiting for the 55 mile group ride, especially when Judy told me that 55 miles was going to be a stretch for her (me too!) and that she rides about 11-12 mph (me too!). She then proceeded to become the “rabbit,” taking off at about 17 mph down the rail trail! I guess she underestimates her riding ability (me too!). The second half of the ride was more difficult than the first half, and the last 5 miles were brutal. It was also hot and sunny (drink or die was the day’s mantra), so we slowed down quite a bit. At the 52 mile point ***tired legs*** we were climbing up a fairly long (but not steep) hill ***hot ***riders were stretched out over the entire length of the hill ***long***no one was talking ***water*** everyone put there head down ***hard work**** and just kept those wheels moving ***granny gears***the only sounds were shifting bicycle gears ***grind it out**** and heavy breathing ***arrrrgh***. I made it up that hill and the next 2 hills. I never got off to bike to walk. The whole thing worked out very well--I didn't have to ride alone or with a big group, I was pushed to ride a little bit harder (and proved to myself that I can do it), and DH was able to take off and ride as fast as he wanted. He was perfectly happy to ride 55 miles by himself. But of course he wasn't.really by himself because there were 1300 riders and excellent support services and rest stops. At the end of the ride we jumped into the town pool, had lunch, packed up the bikes, gear, and tired a$$es and then got our iced coffees for the ride home. Pure bliss.

We had decided to make a weekend out of it and stayed at a lovely B&B. There were group rides and some ''tourist'' activities available on Saturday. DH and I joined the 30 mile ride. As the shortest ride, this attracted the full spectrum of riders. We eventually split into 2 groups but stopped often to regroup and have lunch. It was the perfect prelude to the real ride. What could be better than riding down country roads on a beautiful summer day with DH and a group of friendly folks?

That's right, I rode the Black Trek 85 miles this weekend. Go Xena!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Running -- The Mind Game

On Friday, DH and I were all set to ride with the Cycling Club, but we bagged it because of severe T-storm warnings. The weather has been fairly violent over the past 2 weeks, and we decided to stay home. So I went over to the HS track to see what running a few miles would feel like. When I got there, it was just me and the track in the early evening, with ominous skies. After the first half mile, I settled into a nice easy (slow) pace (Mind: wow, this feels pretty good, no pain in toe or knee, I can just keep going! No one else around, I can even sing). At 1.0 miles, it started to rain, but lightly (Mind: this isn't too bad, I can run in this....can I get electrocuted wearing a heart rate monitor and an iPod in the rain? Maybe I should stop). At 1.50 miles, the wind picks up (Mind: this is getting harder, is that my knee I feel getting stiff? 1.5 miles is respectable for a 50 year old lady with a bad toe and a cranky knee.... but I did want to run at least 2). At 1.75 miles, the rain picks up (Mind: I am Xena the Warrior Princess, outrunning the evil storm) At 2.0 miles, the 17-19 year old soccer boys show up, totally ignoring the rain (Mind: ooooooh, I like the change in scenery. Well, if they can play in the rain, I can certainly run in the rain. I don't want them to think the mother of sons #1 and #2 is a total wimp). So I ran 2.5 miles, most of the time thinking positive thoughts. My HR monitor and iPod continued to function and I did not get electrocuted. My knee stiffened up a bit, but it seemed to ease up the next day when I took out my bike. I only ran 2.5 miles, but it was enlightening to think about what I was thinking about! For some reason, I became much more cognizant of the impact of state of mind on performance, and how quickly that state of mind can change. Now what I need to figure out is how much control I have over that "attitude." I want to keep Xena around and banish the fear of electrons. And of course this has other applications to other athletic endeavors and life in general! Yesterday there was a cycling club event which included rides for all level riders followed by a picnic. I had to choose between the D ride (25 miles) and the C ride (40 miles). I was leaning toward the C ride until I was told that the terrain was hillier than usual, so I took the D ride. I know I could have ridden another 15 miles, but I probably would have been on the edge, especially if I was pushing to keep up. Should I have brought forth Xena or is a slight fear of electrons a good thing? The D ride was challenging, and yes we took it slow, but it was still 25 miles! The bottom line, I guess, is that I went for a great bike ride, and had a lovely time at the picnic afterwards. I continue to be impressed by the friendliness and healthy attitude of almost every club member that I have met.

As an aside, DH faced a similar decision, either the C ride (40 miles) or the B ride (58 miles). He chose the B ride and totally rocked it. He came back so revved up and pleased with himself. Although he still needs to lose some weight, he is in very good shape. He attributes much of his success to having spent the "off-season" doing some serious swimming. The decision to hit the pool resulted from the need to rest and rehab his achilles tendon, which was chronically inflamed. Biking (and therefore spinning) and running were totally off-limits. He became a disciple of the Total Immersion approach to swimming and totally retaught himself the "proper" way to swim. When the outdoor cycling season started, I don't think he ever thought he would be able to ride 58 miles in July and ride strong! Although he is still cautious, so far his achilles has not been a problem. I don't know if his achilles will stand up to running, but I'm waiting to hear him say "triathlon." Wondering how long it will take for him to say it out loud.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Tour de Spin

During the Tour de France, spin classes mimic the tour. Yesterday was stage 15, from Gap to L’Alpe (as in mountains) D’Huez. There are 3 climbs; the third is 14 km, 8% incline with 21 switchbacks. In spin class (endurance, 75 minutes) this translated into going uphill for 55 minutes, feeling your heart pounding, wishing for an oxygen tank, and leaving giant sweat puddles on the floor. In other words, it was awesome. As an aside, the 116 mile stage was won by Schleck (Luxenberg) with an average speed of 24 mph! Don’t know how those guys do it, for 21 days. And I don’t know how they can eat enough. They burn on average 6,000 calories per day.

As spin class was starting, we got to watch another Mother Nature spectacular. There was a huge thunderstorm that brought hail that got progressively bigger until golf balls were falling. We had a tornado last week, which is a rare event in New York, so this storm was a little frightening.

On Saturday, I spent most of the day at the Pleasantville Music Festival. There were lots of musicians, many local, but a few big names. Roger McGuinn of the Byrds was the biggest. He opened with my favorite Byrds song of all time—Chestnut Mare—and got around to all their hits. The last band was World Party, which seems to be enjoying a comeback with a new “hit record.” I had a great time, sitting in a beach chair, listening to live music, wandering among all the vendors, picnicking and watching all the kids dancing, galavanting and eating continuously! Then there was dinner at a Thai restaurant to make the day complete.

As an extra perk, I got to introduce myself to a distant cousin who is a bit of a celebrity around NYC. Janet Maslin, long-time film critic and now book critic for the New York Times, introduced Roger McGuinn. We spoke for a few minutes, tried to figure out exactly how we are related. Our best guess is that our grandfathers were first cousins.

Son #2 came home for 2 days, when the camp switches over at the half-season. He devoured all the leftovers in the house—everything from a big bag of chips leftover from the World Cup Party and some chocolate chip cookies in the freezer (no need to defrost, they are good nice and crunchy), to a couple of slices of pizza, and a demented bagel. He was very happy to sit around, play video games and watch baseball games. He was very happy to get back to camp, too.

Friday, July 14, 2006

How to Weigh Yourself Correctly

I can't believe I've been doing it wrong for so many years!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Here’s a Haiku for yesterday’s “adventure in fitnessland.”

Four pound hula hoop
It’s much harder than it looks
Need ibuprofen

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had to move my day off around to get son #1 to the doctor (see entry on broken ankle) or to do some training at work. I’ve been using this as an opportunity to try some of the funkier classes at the gym. Last week it was urban rebounding, which involves jumping on a mini-trampoline for a half hour. Yesterday it was a hula hoop class. When I was a kid, I could kick anybody’s a$$ when it came to hula hoping, so I thought this was gonna be easy and fun. Well, it is NOT easy to keep a four pound hula hoop going for 15 minutes, even standing in one place. Try moving around or doing lunges while hula hooping and it gets even more difficult. Last night my waistline was really sore, but not a DOMS kind of sore. I was beaten up by the hula hoop, like getting punched in the arm, except it was consecutive punches around my waistline! OK, it wasn’t THAT bad, but it was bad enough that I certainly didn’t want my DH to embrace me! This morning it was much better, but I won’t be doing any hula hooping for a few days. It was definitely a fun workout and I am told that your waistline gets used to it. So I might try it again. Maybe I’ll take the ibuprofen BEFORE the class.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Tend to Your Garden

The theme of this past weekend was “friends” from my oldest friend to my newest friends. It made me realize how important friends are, and once again I promised myself that I will work harder on my friendships. I have a tendency to neglect my friends. Yes, we are all busy and don’t necessarily live close by, and I hate the telephone, but there really are no excuses for allowing friends to fade away. I remember a colleague, a man of great wisdom, who would often comment, “you have to tend to your garden” when he spoke of family and friends. So this weekend I tended to my garden of friends. I even got to water the family tree a little bit!

On Friday evening I rode with the cycle club. Whoever shows up for the “fling” picks a ride according to their level, given about 2 hours of daylight. Just to be on the safe side, I chose the shortest ride, 15 miles, and rode with 3 other women. We finished well ahead of the other riders, so next time I will probably go on the longer ride. Afterwards, everyone is invited to hit the local pub for food and drinks and assorted chit chat, so I joined the dinner group. It was quite friendly and I’d like to think that I made some new friends.

On Saturday evening, we went to a 50th birthday party for my oldest friend. Judy and I grew up next door to each other and we moved in when we were 2 years old. Over the years, we have drifted apart, but we always drifted back together. Since we’ve gotten married and raised families, we have managed to speak to each other and see each other fairly regularly. Several of my childhood friends were there, some of whom I haven’t seen in years, so we took lots of photos. And of course Judy got out the pictures, including the class photos from elementary school. That was good for more than a few laughs. When we left, I turned to my husband and said, “my friends got fat.” None of them are obese, but they all need to lose at least 15-20 pounds. That was the only disappointment of the evening. I hate to see them struggling with their weight, because you know it isn’t going to get any easier as we get older. None of them have particulary active lifestyles either.

Yesterday, DH and I hosted a World Cup Party and BBQ. For every friend that did make it, at least 1 friend was unable to get there. So we had a small but enthusiastic crowd. Of course I had way too much food, and then one friend who is Indian and has a small catering business brought a small tray of roasted chicken with delicious Indian spices and then made shishkebabs! We finished off with an ice cream cake because Saturday was DH’s 51st birthday. About half of the group actually watched the game!

And on a final note, family. My uncle was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. They discovered something in his lung quite by accident, when they did a CT scan looking at something else. He will require surgery but may not need either radiation or chemotherapy. DH lost his uncle to lung cancer a couple of years ago. He fought the disease for 3 years, and during that time, I would constantly remind (even nag) DH to call him. DH was grateful that I did that, so he is now returning the favor. He has been reminding me that I need to call my uncle, and I finally did. He sounds very upbeat and wants to get on with the surgery so he can get on with his life! The man is 78 years old and behaves as if he is half that age. He works full-time, travels, skiis, hikes, and just lives life to the fullest. Go Uncle Go.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Fitness, Food and a Broken Ankle

We spent the long holiday weekend at Skytop Lodge in the Poconos with my mother, brother, sister-in-law, and 2 nieces. It was loads of fun and quality family time. DH and I brought our road bikes and went out for a nice ride on Saturday. The only problem is that the lodge is on top of a fairly large hill, large enough that the first 5 miles were downhill. As we are coasting along I kept thinking “it’s going to be a tough ride back!” The uphills were steep! The next day we rented mountain bikes and took off on the muddy trails. That was really fun. We were only on relatively flat roads, so I know mountain biking can be much more difficult but I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity too try something different. On the last day we went hiking. There was a guided “fitness” hike which was described with verbiage to keep beginners away. Well, good thing it wasn’t really all that difficult or that guy in penny loafers would not have made it. Or the other people who should not be partaking in anything described as physically demanding. I wish I could get into their heads—do they really think they are “fit” or do they think the description is inaccurate or that there will be options if they can’t climb out of the ravine? Anyway, with hearts pounding, they put one penny loafer in front of the other and made it out alive. Then brother, nieces and I went for a real fitness hike, complete with switchbacks and a gazebo atop the mountain. The view was awesome and we could see all the way to the Delaware Water Gap. In between all these outdoor activities, there was a belly dancing class, water aerobics, and the great indoor sport of eating large quantities of food. In addition to huge buffets for breakfast and lunch, there was the omelet man, the crepe man, and the stir fry guy. Luckily there were lots of healthy choices, so while I definitely ate too much, at least I ate too much good food and not junk. Except for the chocolate obsession dessert, with ice cream.

So at one point I decided to call the kids at camp especially so they could talk to grandma. Son #1 gets on the phone and the first sentence he utters is “I broke my ankle.” That kinda put a damper on things, especially since the camp had called my cell phone but I didn’t have it turned on. To make a long story short, we were not that far away from the camp, so we picked up his xray at the hospital, picked him up at camp, brought him home, had our favorite orthopedist check him out and put a real cast on, and then took him back to camp. The only glitch is that the break is oblique, kinda like a fault line in his bone. The doctor wants to be sure it doesn’t slide out of alignment, so he needs to see the doctor and have it xrayed once a week for the next 3 weeks. Luckily the camp is only 80 miles from home, so DH will pick him up on Monday evenings and I will take him to the doctor and then bring him back to camp on Tuesdays. Ah, keeps life interesting. It’s always something, right?