The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bahamian Vacation

Paradise Island, The Bahamas....... very nice this time of year! We are staying at a time share villa, which is down the beach from the "action" at Atlantis, and I am happy about that. It's kinda interesting, DH and I spent a few days here about 15 years ago. We stayed at Atlantis, when it was rundown and in need of a makeover. Well, now it is a sprawling mega-resort. We walked over there last night. DH and son#1 spent some time (and money) in the casino. I had to pretty much babysit son #2 since he isn't old enough to gamble. Nothing was going to make him happy, but I refused to allow him to make me miserable. We settled on watching some football at their Sports Book and then hit up Ben and Jerry's.

Today we went to the Blue Lagoon Island for an interactive program with dolphins-- a dolphin encounter. The "swim with the dolphins" program was sold out, so we got to play with a dolphin named Shawn with 9 other people. These animals are amazing, very beautiful and intelligent and trained to entertain. They dance with you and kiss you and you get to hug them and of course, the photographers are there documenting all. I thought my kids might have outgrown this kind of thing, but they both enjoyed it immensely. And we all took something away from the experience

I have been taking walks on the beach and of course, taking lots of pictures. Yesterday son #1 and I went on a photo safari to these amazing "Versailles" gardens at one of the nearby hotels. I would like to take more pictures of the local people and the island culture, instead of Americans on the beach and vacation culture. Hopefully I will have the chance over the next few days. Island life is good.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


The winter solstice marked the end of my winter pre-season with mixed results. Overall, I feel like I made good progress in building in some good habits, but it was difficult to get them all aligned simultaneously. I think I underestimated the reach of the "holiday season." Cookies and treats seem to abound and party buffets make it way too easy to overeat. As the days get longer and move toward the equinox, I know it is time to establish some goals and begin to plan how I am going to get there. So my fitness goals for 2009 are:

  • Harriman Triathlon
  • 100k bike ride (a metric century)

Training for a sprint triathlon is not rocket science (although some people may be tempted to develop spreadsheets with workouts and mileage goals, etc). Basically, you have to swim, bike and run, and mix in some strength training, core workouts and stretching. Some cross training keeps it fun, and for me, being outdoors is always a plus. Riding 62 miles requires riding progressively longer rides until you are ready for 100k. You can ride as slow as you want, so it’s more about focus than physical strength. For both of these goals, you always have to provide your body with good nutrition (and by that I mean food and not “products”).
I have decided to break my plan for achieving these fitness goals into months. This will give me the flexibility to re-evaluate and reconsider what is or is not working. My goal for January is to start getting all the pieces in the mix. From now until January 31, I plan to swim, bike run, lift, stretch and do core workouts. No mileage goals or emphasis or set number of days per week. I just want to start doing these activities to get a sense of what feels easy or hard. It’s more about making a commitment and mentally focusing on the roadmap to get there. The theme for the next 38 days will be “focus.”

Sunday, December 21, 2008

12 Inches

Snow, 12 inches of snow. Today I met my friend Nick at the golf course with our snowshoes. Nick is a great athlete and during the winter he competes in snowshoe races. He was kind enough to slow down for me and we snowshoed about 3 miles around the golf course. It was still snowing when we started but it cleared up, the sun came out and it morphed into a beautiful afternoon. Moving through 12 inches of snow (even on snowshoes) is hard work! When we were done, I was done, but Nick took off for a 2nd loop around, with much more speed. Anyway, it was a great way to get outside and celebrate the winter solstice. Much better than burning calories on the treadmill or even the expresso bike!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Expresso Bike

My gym has 2 Expresso bikes. Today I rode 4 miles on the recumbent and it was so fun! There is a video display and you pick your tour. You can do laps in a velodrome or a ride through a redwood forest. You have to steer to stay on the road and there are other riders on the tour. The resistance automatically changes as the terrain changes. You can set up an account and track your progress. It was much more fun than any of the programs on the regular exercise bikes.

I got in the pool with my iPod and the lifeguard got sooooo excited when she saw me swimming with my tunes. I told her the Otterbox/H20 Audio Waterproof Headphones totally rocks and she probably went straight home and ordered them. At my last Masters swim session, the coach really had me focus on connecting my breathing to my arms and emphasizing rolling to the air. Something clicked and my swimming feels much more connected. Swimming this morning and Wednesday evening reinforced this. I'm liking it. Swimming well is so much more difficult than most people realize. Making itsy bitsy improvements in your stroke can translate into big improvements in your efficiency. Eventually, that will make you a faster swimmer. But remember, slow is beautiful. I am becoming a beautiful swimmer if not a faster swimmer.

And now I am home watching it snow.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rock My World

I bought myself 2 "holiday gifts" (This works well because my family is relieved of the responsibility of figuring out what I might want to receive as a gift). The first self-gift is an 18 ounce pink stainless steel water bottle. It is perfect. It fits in the mesh pocket on my backpack and accompanies me on my daily travels -- commuting into NYC, various meetings and other work-related activities, driving around suburbia. I may have to give my pink companion a name!

The second self-gift is a waterproof "otterbox" for my Nano and waterproof headphones. The idea is to be able to listen to music while swimming. I used it last night for the first time and I have to tell you, it TOTALLY ROCKS. It took about 10 minutes to get it right-- to get the headphones positioned to create a waterproof seal and to get the volume right. But I'm sure it will be easier the next time I use it. But it is very comfortable, including having the ipod clipped to the side/back of my bathing suit and the sound quality, while not great, is good enough. I absolutely spent more time in the water because how can you turn off your ipod when you are listening to ultra classic rock like the Grateful Dead's Bertha or Springsteen's Born to Run. Or even new music like Ray LaMontagne. I just fell into my freestyle rhythm and kept on swimming propelled by my tunes. It felt awesome to be moving through the water.

So I am doing much better with my workouts in this Winter Pre-Season, but the holiday parties are wreaking havoc on my nutrition. Why is it so difficult to get all the pieces working simultaneously? I have also been making an effort to spend more time with DH and other people I love and cherish. We had dinner with some dear friends last weekend and tomorrow I am hosting a pot luck holiday dinner for my bookclub and our spouses. The bike club holiday party was Sunday and it was a good time. I hope to bring the feelings of love, friendship, and community into the new year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

WPS Update

The Winter Pre-Season has been going well in some respects and a disaster in others. I have been preparing meals based on fresh good-for-you ingredients—soup, stir fries, oatmeal for breakfast. I have packed lunch most days, usually leftovers. I also have a stash of lunchables in the freezer—mostly generous single servings of homemade soup, so I really don’t have an excuse for not bringing lunch to work. I have been microwaving my leftovers in cheapo plastic containers and I know this is bad. So today I brought some old dishes into work and put them in the little communal kitchen. This builds on my already established habit of packing real utensils and a cloth napkin in my lunchbag. As a result of this good habit, I am definitely spending less cash. But, there are days when I don’t get outside at all even for a walk down the street to buy lunch. I think I need to work on this (more about this later).

I am drinking more water during the workday. I fill my water bottle from the water fountain. I don’t drink bottled water. I have decorated my water bottle with reminders of my goals such as “100 k = 62 miles.” I plan to ride a metric century in 2009. As a holiday present to myself, I ordered a stainless steel bottle. I want to eliminate nalgene bottles from my life (I ordered bottles as gifts for my nieces and DH too).

I have not been inside the gym in just about 2 weeks. I had a nasty slow-moving cold that kept me home for a couple of days and feeling like total crap for over a week. Then I got my period just for good measure, which marked the beginning of the headache that will not leave. And finally I just felt sorry for myself for a few more days and convinced myself that I deserved to go home and sit in front of the TV.

I have had a headache off and on for about 4 or 5 days now. I think it’s from a combination of “triggers,” but not getting any exercise and not getting any real exposure to natural light is definitely not helping! The exercise part is easy to fix. It’s called “driving to the gym when I get off the train instead of driving home.” I also think I need to spend time outdoors. This is tough when sunrise is at 7:13 am and sunset is at 4:27 pm, but I need to make this happen. When the weather was warmer I used to bring my camera into the city and sneak out for walk around the neighborhood. Haven’t done that in a long while. And there is so much going on in NYC this time of year, starting with the holiday market across the street in Bryant Park. So the next 2 weeks of the WPS will be about getting to the gym and getting outside. And maintaining the other good habits I have put into play.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why I Like Winter

I’m definitely a summer person. I would much rather have a 90 degree day, than a 30 degree day. Winter is my least favorite season, but winter is okay. The more I think about it, the more reasons I like winter. Okay, so I’m stretching it. I am trying to rationalize why I shouldn’t totally hate every minute of winter. But isn’t it better to be an optimist and to see the glass at least half full? So here are the reasons I like winter.

  • Winter solstice-- Winter officially begins on the winter solstice—the day with the least amount of daylight, the “shortest day of the year.” So, winter means the days are getting longer!
  • Root vegetables—winter means roasting carrots and parsnips, turnips, and yams. I love root vegetables. And kale. Yes, I really like kale. (kale is not a root vegetable).
  • Hot chocolate—spend some time outdoors and you are entitled to a big mug of hot chocolate when you are done.
  • Hard core status—when you go out for a run or a bike ride or even a walk on a cold winter day, people are very impressed by your dedication. They typically comment, “wow, you are hard core.”
  • Books—it is okay to spend time indoors, curled up on the couch with a good book. Napping is also acceptable.
  • Snowshoeing and cross country skiing—if its going to snow, you might as well enjoy it. I love these winter sports. Also see #3.
  • Body heat—not the movie. The best way to warm up when you get into a cold bed!

Friday, December 05, 2008

The Long Sudafed Night

I'm still sick. This is some rhinovirus! It seems intent on staying with me for as long as possible. On Wednesday night I was so stuffy and sneezy that I took a Sudafed. One little 30 mg expired little red pill. And it kept me up until at least 4:00 am. That's an awfully long time to lie awake in your bed and not sleep.

I am one of those people that does not like to take medicine. Luckily, I am healthy enough that I don't need to take very much medicine. I am also one of those people that believes that one way to prolong a cold is to take cold medicine instead of just letting it run its course. So why did I take that 1 stupid little Sudafed!?!? I guess I was just so miserable after coughing and sneezing for 96 hours (but who's counting) that I just wanted to sleep. That's the irony!

Now, the active ingredient in this Sudafed, which has probably been hanging around the house for years, is pseudoephedrine, the chemical that is used to manufacture crystal meth. Hmmm, I'll bet crystal meth is a stimulant! According to Wikipedia, methylamphetamine " is also used illegally for weight loss and to maintain alertness, focus, motivation, and mental clarity for extended periods of time." Damn, all that alertness, focus, motivation and mental clarity and I was trying to sleep through it! I could have spent the hours between 11 pm and 4 am cooking and cleaning and writing articles for publication in prestigious journals. I didn't even get up to watch TV. I just listened to DH breathe and stared at the clock for hours through the darkness of that sudafed night.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Green Thoughts

Still sick. My cold has marched northward from my lungs to my nose. The intense coughing has subsided, but the runny nose and sneezing has commenced. I did go to work today and got some things done, but left a little early, after coating all available surfaces with rhinovirus. Getting out of the house and not wearing pajamas all day was a delightful change. But I must admit that the option of planting myself in front of the TV for yet another day and watching back-to-back-to-back episodes of television shows that I never really watched did have a certain appeal. The X Files—might be worth renting on Netflix. Ditto NCIS. And of course, there’s always episodes of Law and Order or Law and Order SVU or Law and Order Criminal Intent on at least one channel within the Direct TV spectrum. But I digress.

The other activity in which I invested some time while home was blogatation; reading other blogs and pondering where I want to take my own blog. But that assumes I want to take my blog in a specific direction, which I don’t believe I do. I actually prefer to drag my blog along behind me, wherever I am going, instead of the other way around. On the other hand, reading other blogs has taught me a great deal and has provided me with many moments where I have had serious conversations with myself about what I believe and how I should behave. My sick days were spent pondering blogs about living simple, green and frugal. My general feeling is that while I have made some small steps in this direction, there is more that I can be doing. But far more thought provoking is trying to decide how far I should expect my family to accompany me along this road. As the person in charge of 90% of the food functions in this household, my family is getting dragged down this road, whether they know it or not. But son #2 will be off to camp this summer and then off to college and DH and I will become empty-nesters. We will have more opportunity to change our lifestyle and daily routines. We have already had a few conversations about selling the house, downsizing and moving to a community with lower property taxes. As much as I hate the idea of sorting through everything we own and selling, freecycling, and trashing a good chunk of it, I love the idea of having less stuff. I think that means I have to start thinking about downsizing my life now, regardless of whether we decide to sell the house or not. It’s far easier to keep something than to make the decision to get rid of it and then devise a plan to actually make that happen. What ever happened to the 7 Things Project? It may be time to resurrect this promise to myself to get rid of stuff I don’t need.

Monday, December 01, 2008


I am sick. For the past 2 or 3 days. Didn't go to work today. No energy. Television. Reruns. Tea. Bathrobe and slippers.

On the bright side, I made root vegetable-split pea soup in the pressure cooker. Carrots, parsnips, celeriac, onions, and green split peas. 10 minutes at high pressure, immersion blender, green creamy goodness. Yummy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pay it Forward

I posted a ride on the club ride board for today, the "After the Pumpkin Pie, Pay it Forward" ride. The "after the pumpkin pie" part is obvious, you know, burn off all the extra calories consumed yesterday in the name of being thankful. But I also made a unilateral decision that any miles ridden between Thanksgiving and December 31 can be logged as 2009 miles. That's the "pay it forward" part. I looked at this as an opportunity to get a head start on putting in the mileage to be a better cyclist in 2009. I actually had 4 people come out to join me on what turned out to be a really beautiful day. The temp was already 42 degrees when we headed out, and the sun was shining. Our group of 5 rode 28 miles, along the shores of the reservoirs and past the horse farms in the northern county. With a headband under my helmet, and fuzzy gloves and socks, I was very comfortable. You have to be more motivated to get out there, but once you get moving, its fine! I really enjoy riding through the seasons. I have learned to appreciate the beauty of the subdued landscape, the shades of brown against the blue water, and the softer light of a sun that never rises very high in the sky. It was great day to be on a bike and I am thankful that a few other hearty riders came out to share the day with me. This is the winter pre-season at its best!

Family Time

Yesterday I spent Thanksgiving with my family-- DH and our 2 sons, my brother, sister-in-law and 2 nieces, and my mom (she came up from Florida). My sister-in-law is a fantastic cook and baker and prepares a Thanksgiving extravaganza. We ate in 3 "sittings"-- soup and salad -- then rest -- main meal -- then rest -- and dessert. And we all spent the rest time playing cards and board games. My brother and I both have memories of playing Michigan Rummy with our family, so we taught the kids how to play. It was hilarious. Son #2 is so much a member of the video generation, that he did not know how to shuffle a deck of cards or fan out the cards in his hand so he could see all of them. It's amazing how excited every one got when they played a money card and got a little pile of plastic poker chips! Then after dinner we played Cranium. DH and I were a team, and we got stuck on Creative Cat for most of the game! Do you have any idea how hard it is to draw an angel with your eyes closed! or draw a flying buttress. It was pretty funny listening to my brother hum Like a Virgin (Madonna). It was just so much fun to all be sharing this time together. I hope the 4 cousins will always have this memory and build on it for many years to come.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Return of WPS

WPS -- Winter Pre-Season.
Rather than wait for the new year to make resolutions and set goals, I prefer to start this process on the winter solstice. After all, the solstice marks a natural turning point, as daylight hours begin to increase. And having a plan in place on December 21 makes it a little easier to get through the feeding frenzy between Christmas and New Years Day.
And so I am announcing the beginning of WPS -- the Winter Pre-Season. I feel like I have let my good habits fall away and I am having difficulty being consistent about anything other than being inconsistent. Instead of focusing on eliminating my bad habits, I am going to spend the next 4 weeks focusing on building in the good habits. Clean eating. Food prep. Exercise diversity. Masters Swim Team. Time with people I love. Drinking water. Reading. Flossing!
Building on good habits forces out the bad habits, without really trying! With a solid foundation, I can put a realistic plan in place to achieve my goals for the coming year. I'm already thinking about those goals, too, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now I have to fill my water bottle!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Winter Ride -- Short and Sweet

Today is my friend Katie's birthday. To celebrate, she organized a bunch of bike rides starting and ending at her house. To get people motivated, she promised cake and beer after the ride. She talked me into leading the C ride. When I agreed to do this, I assumed it would get warmer as the weekend approached. Bad assumption. There were only 23 degrees out there today when I got out of the car. About 15 riders came out for a ride and a birthday party, but (not surprisingly) only 1 other person showed up for my ride. We came close to riding 1 mile to the local coffee joint, but we didn't want to be total wimps so we set out on our cycling adventure. And I am so glad we did! We only rode 14 miles, so maybe I would feel differently if we were out there for a longer ride. But I was dressed right and I was not at all unhappy being out there. It made me realize that riding through the winter is totally doable. I probably need to make a few tweaks to my gear (better gloves and maybe neoprene booties), but I can do this!

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I figured out how to be the superstar during Masters Swim workouts-- wear flippers.

Friday, November 21, 2008

If the Shoe Fits.....

Buy it in every color! That is one of the defining principles of my adult life. I have a tough time finding shoes that fit. After 2 babies, I wear a size 5 shoe (maybe its a myth, but I know many women who agree that their feet got bigger after having a baby). And in a perfect world, it's a 5 Wide! Yes, I have short fat feet, which is exaggerated by the bone spur on my right big toe which makes right shoes feel even tighter in the width. Since Americans seem to be getting bigger (and by that I mean taller), shoe companies have shifted shoe production away from the smaller sizes toward the opposite end of the spectrum. Most shoes are no longer available in a size smaller than a 6. If they are available, then each store will usually stock one size 5 in each style. I have learned a few strategies to maximize my ability to find shoes in my size:
  1. Make friends with the salesperson at your favorite shoe store. I have had salespeople call me to tell me they just received their shipment, and actually put aside a few pair in my size. This works well if you happen to like a certain brand of shoes. It also depends on putting a trip to the mall into your schedule when they call, and being open to buying shoes because they fit and not because you need them. It is also dependent upon that salesperson keeping their job for a while-- and that's where this principle often fails.
  2. Nordstroms-- they seem to carry lots of shoes in size 5. The problem here is that I don't like 85% of the shoes they carry. Most of them are "dressy" and not very practical for 95% of the time that I wear shoes, and half of them are ridiculously expensive (the other 50% are just plain expensive)! But if I need a dressier shoe, I can often find it at Nordstroms.
  3. Giordano's-- a store in Manhattan specifically for women with "petite feet." They carry only sizes 4-5.5. They are pricey, but they do seem to stock more shoes with sane heels.
  4. Call mom. My mother and I wear the same size shoe (actually, my mother and I wear the same size everything--I have gone shopping in her closet). This has its limitations because my mother usually wants to keep her shoes, especially since she also spends considerable energy finding shoes in her size.
  5. If the shoe fits, buy it in every color! This is where online shopping has shown me the way! Last weekend I bought a pair of shoes at Easy Spirit. They are brown. I am wearing them today and they feel great. A few minutes on their website, and I will soon be in possession of the same shoe in black. And they are on sale. And free shipping.
Aren't you jealous?
Don't you wish you had these shoes in multiple colors?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I Found My Pressure Cooker

Leslie has been raving about her new pressure cooker, so I decided to give it a try. I have a pressure cooker that my sister-in-law gave me, but I haven't used it in a long time. I had an electric stove and after burning just about everything I attempted to cook in it, I gave up. But I am now cooking with gas so I decided to try again. First I had to find it, which wasn't as easy as it should have been, but I found it and washed it out. Then I looked through my recipe files for something that sounded good. I made "Split Pea Sup with Sweet Potatoes and Mint." It totally rocks! This soup is delicious and perfect for this time of year. I put 3 lunch sized portions in the freezer and the rest is in the frig. And when I got to the bottom of the pressure cooker, there wasn't even one tiny morsel of burned food. It really was easy. Hmmm, I can see cooking soup once a week in the PC!
Here's the recipe. I have no idea where it came from, so I cannot give credit where credit is due. Oh well.

Split Peas Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Mint
2 Tb butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery chopped
2 cups split peas rinsed
4 cups water
2 cups chicken stock
2 med sweet potatoes peeled and chunked
2 large apples, peeled cored and cut into eighths
1 bay leaf
2-3 Tb dried mint
1 tsp salt

Heat oil in cooker. Saute onion until soft. Add celery and split peas, stirring to coat with the oil. Add the water and stock. Scrape up any bits of onion that might be sticking to the bottom of the cooker. Add all the other ingredients.
Lock the lid in place and bring up to pressure. Cook for 10 minutes.
Let the pressure drop naturally (or run under cold water).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Raising the Dead: Dark Star Orchestra

"Using entire shows from the Grateful Dead's 30 years of extensive touring as a launching pad, Dark Star Orchestra recreates the original song for song performance set list for an entirely new generation of, as well as old school, Deadheads."

What a rockin' party! As soon as the music started, the dancing and spinning started. Sugar Magnolia brought down the house! It was quite a scene. Deadheads are the friendliest, happiest fans, it really was all about sharing the music and good times. These guys delivered a great experience. And, when it was all done, I was 5 minutes from home!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Uh Oh

I did a serious upper body workout today. My shoulders and back are already feeling sore. Its gonna be interesting getting in the pool tomorrow morning!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Swimming and Spinning

When I came home from California, I gave myself a week to get my act together. Then I got back in the pool. Even though I have lost the edge on my "conditioning," my stroke seems to have remained largely intact. I only swam 25 yards when the coach told me I was looking surprisingly good. After 3 swim workouts with the Masters Team, I am starting to feel like I have something in the tank. I only have 2 speeds in the pool-- "slow" and "really slow"-- but in another week or two I should be able to add a third speed-- "slightly faster than slow." I have been feeling it-- my shoulders and back are usually a little sore the next morning. So I guess I am doing something right!

Today I took my first spin class in months. I do hope to stay on my bike during the "off-season," but that's not going to happen on weekdays. Today's class was endurance, 75 minutes! We did hill repeats, 8 minutes seated climb, 2 minute recovery, then 4 minute climbing out of the saddle, 2 min recovery. Four sets. I didn't have difficulty getting through this but I noticed that my recovery is not as fast. It was taking a little longer for my heart rate to come down during recovery. So there is plenty of work to be done. It sure feels good to be working at it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Lessons Learned on California Road Trip

  • If you need to rent a car in Palm Springs CA, do not rent it from Enterprise. Their idea of a standard car (seats 5, luggage for 4) is either a VW Beetle or a full sized Ford Frontier truck.
  • If you think you might be spending any significant time in the Pittsburgh airport on a Saturday evening, bring food. The only “restaurant” open after 6 pm is McDonalds.
  • Temperatures in the mid-90s with humidity around 20% is quite pleasant, especially when floating down the “lazy river” in an inner tube.
  • An Australian cork hat has little strings with little corks dangling from the rim. When you shake your head around, the corks chase away the flies. You can wear a cork hat to a party, even when the party is indoors.
  • In order to qualify for “flight pay” in the Navy, you have to be able to swim 1 mile wearing your flight suit, boots and helmet.
  • Many people blame the airlines for flight delays caused by bad weather.
  • The Pittsburgh airport has free wi-fi. The Santa Ana (John Wayne) airport does not.
  • Football games starting at 10:00 am is wrong.
  • Flight to California--$312, registration for conference--$325, hotel bill-- $458, spending an hour talking with an old friend that you haven’t seen in at least 5 years—priceless.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Continental Breakfast

I do not like the “continental breakfast.” Over the last 10 days, I have probably eaten at 7 free continental breakfasts. All those processed white foods and sugar and no protein! No wonder my pants are feeling a bit too tight. Yesterday my friend Michele and I were contemplating whether to get up early to attend the 8 am awards lectures. These lectures are often quite boring. The hotel fitness center is usually jam-packed during these lectures. But we both looked at each other and simultaneously cried out “EGGS!” We were willing to endure 2 hours of just about anything because we knew they would be serving us a real breakfast.

Getting Noticed

The meeting of the Academy is serious. There are lectures and symposia, scientific posters and research presentations. There are meetings and receptions and opportunities to showcase your talents. If you play the game right, you may find yourself being recruited for a great position. The number of really intelligent and talented women in the profession is clearly on the rise. In fact it is sky-rocketing. So why would you show up to these meetings wearing stilettos and a skirt that barely covers what needs to be covered. Then follow that up at a reception with a cocktail dress more appropriate for a wedding when everyone else is wearing “business casual.” And if you go to the pool during the day, be sure to wear the thong bikini (because you can’t show up totally naked). Maybe I’m just “old-fashioned” (more likely I’m just old!). Thankfully these women are few in number. They just don’t get it. Brainiac is the new black.

The Godfather

I had dinner with the Godfather. Sorta. I attended a corporate event held at a local restaurant. There was a dinner served buffet style, an open bar, and a band. The place was packed and my friends and I ended up sharing a table with some people we didn’t know. Including the Godfather. Just about everyone who came through the restaurant stopped at our table to pay their respects to him, to “chit-chat” about the past year, and perhaps to ask for some advice. They brought him drinks and food. He introduced himself as Uncle Frank. He asked us our names and where we are from and we exchanged business cards. He wanted to know what we are doing (professionally speaking) and offered us words of encouragement. Then he told us stories about being stationed in NYC during WW II, and the beautiful girl he never saw again. I’m not sure why he picked that story. But next year I’m going to stop by his table to say hello and reminisce about the BBQ ribs we shared in Anaheim.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Road Trip

I usually attend 2 annual meetings of professional organizations to which I belong. They used to be in October and December. Then last year the December meeting was moved up tp October as well. Luckily, the 2 meetings were just a few days apart and in the same city! This year it worked out the same. So I am in California, first in Palm Springs. On Monday I will be heading to LA to spend a couple of days with a friend, then I will be in Anaheim for a meeting #2. So 10 days in California. I packed a big fat suitcase!

Palm Springs is beautiful. We are at a beautiful resort with a water park, swimming pools, and a decent fitness center. I am told it hasn't rained here in a year. The sun is shining and the temp goes up to the mid 90's in the afternoon. The company is great (this is my favorite meeting, featuring my favorite people) and there is some "play time" built into the schedule. Yesterday I floated down the lazy river with some friends for about an hour! then I worked out in the fitness center and went for a real swim. That's the good news. But the nutrition part is rough. The food is plentiful, and I don't always have the opportunity to eat what I want or when I want. There are desserts at every meal, and the "hospitality suite" features free booze. Luckily, I don't really drink. My friend says I'm a candy-ass ( I describe myself as having poorly developed social drinking skills).

I have decided not to worry about the food, but not go crazy either. I will eat "right" when given the choice, try not to eat too many desserts, keep the alcohol down to a socially acceptable minimum, and try to take advantage of the pool and the opportunity to be outdoors.

I miss my family, but I must admit, I like the "me" time. I'm not exactly alone, but I like having some time to focus inward. I don't have to think about taking care of other people. I don't really have to worry about taking care of myself either. I'm sure I will ge tired of the hotels, the forced conversations with people you don't know very well, and the "shop talk." But I'm looking forward to more time at the pool (and even sitting through some more lectures).

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Estrogen and Inflammation

I did a little bit of research and I learned about the relationship between menopause, estrogen and inflammation. Joint pain is a very common symptom of menopause because estrogen is an anti-inflammatory. As estrogen levels drop, inflammatory "noise" increases. Many women have chronic inflammation which is kept under control by estrogen. But once that estrogen starts to disappear, inflammation starts to show its ugly face. And I think that is what is happening to me. I still need to get back to a weight lifting program to improve my shoulder strength, but I need to clean up my diet too. I have gotten away from my usually good habits. I have been eating too much processed carbohydrates and sugary treats and even red meat. Over the past week, I went to a big dinner with family, a wedding and a graduation party. Pasta, chips, cake, chocolate, beef, you get the idea. These foods all contribute to inflammation. So it is time to turn this around. Back to brown bagging lunch, fish, lots of greens and other vegetables, nuts and seeds, and soy. Time to cut down on meat, pasta, bagels, white foods. I know what to do, I just have to make the effort to make it happen. But I am beginning to realize that I have to do this if I am going to get through The Change without feeling like crap.

My shoulder is getting better. Now I have to clean up my nutrition and my habits, in order to eliminate the inflammatory buzz inside my body.

Monday, October 06, 2008

10-Day Disabled List

I am injured. I have put myself on the 10-Day Disabled List. I'm pretty sure I have tendinitis in my left shoulder. I have limited mobility and pain associated with certain movements. I'm at day 4 and its getting better but there is no way I could swim. I might be able to ride my bike but keeping my arm straight and pulling going up hills is probably going to hurt over time. I could run but pumping my arms over several miles is probably going to be uncomfortable. The biggest problem, though, is putting on a sports bra and other athletic clothes. I can't do it. And if I did manage to get it on, I probably couldn't get it off. That crossing your arms and pulling it over your head thing is not possible at this time. So I am just taking it easy and not worrying about not exercising. The weird part about this "injury" is that I think I did it by sleeping on my side and therefore on my shoulder. It started on Friday morning when I got out of bed and just seemed to get worse over the day. By Friday evening I could not turn the steering wheel on my car without real pain. So I am training myself to sleep either on my back or my stomach with my arms down. And when I get through this, I know that I have to get back to the weight room. I have totally neglected this part of my fitness for several months. I have to build up the muscles in my shoulders and arms as a preventative measure. Most athletes worry about injuries associated with working out and overtraining. I have to worry about getting hurt while sleeping! I wonder if I can blame this on "The Change." What do falling levels of hormones do to your joints?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fat Speed.....An Oxymoron?

P.S. Congratulations to Katie, Eve and Carolyn, they are all extraordinary Tough woMen!

Last Sunday, my friend Jill and I cheered on our girl Katie who was competing in her first half iron/toughman triathlon (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run). It took her 6+ hours to finish, so even though we didn't get there until she was out there on her bike, we still had lots of time to sit and chat and well, enjoy the scenery! There was a good amount of eye candy, athletic hard bodies coming and going (Jill and I quickly discovered we have very different preferences. She likes men with powerful legs and with a little more meat on their frames, the better to storm up the hills on a bike; I prefer the leaner look, the weight lifting runner boys).

Every once in a while, a fat traithlete would pass by. It was impossible to tell how competitive they are, since everyone is moving at the same speed more or less in the transition area, but the fact that they were powering themselves through a 70.3 mile traithlon course speaks volumes. I know that size and weight are related to speed and endurance, but clearly that is a small part of the equation (otherwise, I would be a speed demon!). But it is widely accepted in the cycling community that riding a lightweight bicycle isn't going to make a big difference going uphill if you're moving an extra 20+ pounds up that hill. If you want to get faster, you have to jettison the extra pounds. On the other hand, triathlons often have Clydesdale (men over 200 lbs) and Athena (women over 160 lbs) categories and many of these athletes are very competitive. There are some Athenas and Clydesdales in the bike club and most of them ride faster than I do!
Then on Tuesday at Masters Swim Team workout, we were joined by Big Tom. Tom is at least 50 pounds overweight. I don't know how much swimming experience he has, but on Tuesday he swam far and fast. Does being horizontal in the pool negate the impact of gravity and those extra pounds? Although I don't recall seeing any Olympic swimmers with "love handles."

So is fat speed an oxymoron? Can you be an overweight competitive athlete? Does being fat decrease performance more over longer race courses? How much faster (or slower) would these athletes be if they lost weight? Should I worry about fat or formerly fat triathletes passing me on all 3 events? Should I start training with a 20 pound weight vest?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Getting Emotional About ..... A Building?

I am watching the last baseball game that will ever be played at Yankee Stadium..... The "original" Yankee Stadium. The "new" Yankee Stadium is being built across the street and will open next season. Before the game, there was a special ceremony, featuring guest appearances by some of the greatest Yankees ever. Some of these greats were represented by their widows or children. And of course there was some wonderful video from classic moments at the stadium. DH and son #2 are both at the stadium. I'm willing to bet DH was crying. He and I both grew up in the Bronx. He's been going to Yankee games (and Giants football games for a while) since he was 3 years old! Yankee Stadium and baseball are woven into his soul.

I didn't start to appreciate baseball until I was out of high school, but when I "discovered" baseball, I really took to it! I would watch Yankee games with my dad. I can still hear him saying, "It's 0-2, he's got no business throwing him anything he can hit." When I went to school in Boston for 4 years, I cemented my loyalty to the Yankees while surrounded by rabid Red Sox fans (thank you Bucky Dent). When I came back to NYC and got married, Yankee history became part of our history. We were at the final game of the '96 World Series when Wade Boggs jumped on the horse with the policeman. I remember taking son #1 to his first game at Yankee Stadium. When we ran out of food in the 2nd inning, he wanted to go home!

I have a friend from high school who is still a beer vendor at the Stadium. He's been working there for at least 35 years. The man is a C.P.A., but he sells beer at Yankee Stadium. I always see him when we go to games. I hope he is there tonight selling beer, closing down the stadium, making his own memories.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Gone Gone Gone

Gone Gone Gone.
That is what has happened to my swimming fitness. I now realize how far I had come because I'm back at the starting line. The good news is that I expect I will be able to get it back relatively quickly, if I stick with it. There are also 2 other women who have joined the team and have joined me in the slow lane. So I have company. The next day I was a little bit sore in alot of places-- my shoulders, my back, even my quads. But it actually felt really good to be back in the pool. The hardest part was making it happen.

The bike club had a dinner meeting on Wednesday evening with a presentation on nutrition. The speaker is a woman who has an education in nutrition and health counseling AND she's also a triathlete. Other than some specific suggestions, she didn't say anything I didn't already know. But it sure is good to hear it again and reinforce these concepts. Oatmeal for breakfast. Lots of greens. Smaller portions of animal protein. Reduce the dairy. Hydrate!!! I know what I should be doing.

I saw my friend Mabel at the dinner and she told me she has started swimming. She is also taking some lessons, starting this week. She wants to do a tri next season, and she wants me to do it with her. So that has got me thinking. Do I want to do another triathlon next summer? And the answer is yes and no. I am hoping that blogging about this will help me decide, so more to come.

Monday, September 15, 2008


The new session of the Master's Swim Team starts tomorrow. I will be there. I emailed the coach to let him know I am coming back. I told him it won't be pretty but that's the price I will pay for staying away for so long. His response: I promise it won't be as ugly as when you first started! Ouch!

Meeting and Greeting

Yesterday was the Golden Apple, the bike club's big event. It's a self-paced bike tour through northern Westchester County. You have your choice of 25, 50, 75, 100 and 125 mile routes. We had about 900 riders. The profits bankroll most of the club's events for the year, and we donate a nice chunk of money to various charities. The club needs over 100 volunteers to run smoothly-- registration, food stops and marshalling along the route, SAG and mechanical support, putting up signs, taking down signs, etc. The week before the event, there are "volunteer only" rides so we don't feel like we are being deprived of the opportunity to ride. There is also a big "thank you" party for the volunteers. So yesterday I was the Gatorade lady at one of the busiest rest stops. I spent several hours scooping Gatorade powder into a 5 gallon cooler while Cathy poured in the water. And in that time, I got to visit with so many people! When I ride with the club, I tend to see the same group of people all the time (other "slow is beautiful" riders). But yesterday, all the rides came through, from the speedy big mileage riders to the pokey beautiful scenery people. I got to spend a few minutes with some of them. I even met some new people. I met a whole group of guys from Ecuador who are all living in Brewster. I was delighted to see Judit, who had a nasty biking accident in the early spring and has gotten back on her bike. DH came through with his buddy Jim who had the most interesting case of helmet hair I have ever seen! When we packed up our rest stop, I headed back to the main event, where lunch was been served and club socks were being sold for $2/pair! I met up with more of my people and had more than a few laughs, took more than a few photos. It was a great day NOT to be on a bike!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Summer. The End. Not Really.

I hate what Labor Day has come to symbolize-- the end of summer. Yes, it does mark back to school, and that means back to work for many people. Yes, the daylight hours are noticeably shorter, and that means indoor workouts more of the time. My mother won't wear white shoes after Labor Day, but I don't have white shoes anyway. Yes, summer is transitioning into autumn, but summer is not over. There is still much ice cream that needs to be consumed, and we are getting into apple pie season to go with the ice cream. Apples, peaches, tomatoes, corn, so much good food. And then there is Indian Summer, which we seem to have every year thanks to global warming. These days are glorious and the great outdoors beckons. I spent the last 3 days riding and photographing, two of my favorite "hobbies." On Sunday I went up to Red Hook for the day. A whole bunch of bike club people spend Labor Day weekend up there, riding and exploring northern Dutchess County. I opted for a 30 miler over country roads with virtually no traffic and beautiful vistas. Later in the afternoon, Betsy and I went on a little "photo safari." Before heading home, I drove over to Bard College, home of the Fisher Performing Arts Center, designed by Frank Gehry. More photos. Then I stopped at a local farm to buy some peaches. I asked if I could walk around and take some photos, and the farmer lady even told me where to go to get some good views. Then the farmer girl asked me if I wanted to see the pig and the baby chicks. So I had a private tour of this beautiful farm. More photos! This morning I went for a club ride, another 22 miles, another beautiful day. When we were done, Billy pulled a big bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies out of his car. No photos of the cookies, just some good eating. That got me thinking about food, so I made gazpacho, a classic summer soup. So, if somebody tells you summer is over, tell them the truth, that this is a big fat lie propagated by corporate America to get you to buy notebooks and sweaters. Fight back. Eat a peach (and then listen to the Allman Brothers). Go for a run. Take some pictures of children in their summer clothes. Turn on the air conditioning. Drive with the sun roof open all the way. Go to the beach. Get on your bike and ride!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Recalibration and a Lunch Date

My DH offered to ride with me today. He suggested we ride to Stone Barns and have lunch in the cafe. Stone Barns is one of my favorite cycling destinations. It is a beautiful place and believe in the concept-- locally grown food and sustainable agriculture. And the food is delicious! Thre is also a 4-star very expensive restaurant there, the kind of restaurant where you need to make reservations months in advance, the kind of restaurant we don't patronize. But I am a big fan of the little cafe. A little soup, a sandwich, and a sweet treat, and I'm good!

Before setting off on our lunch date cycling adventure, we stopped at the bike shop to
a) fix my handlebar tape which was unwinding
b) get a new little metal thingie for the wheel for DH's bike computer and
c) get help recalibrating my bike computer which has my mileage off by about 10%, since I changed the battery. It has been gypping me 10% of my mileage, which also means it has been calculating a slower average speed. Now I need all the speed I can get, so I can document my beautiful slowness accurately! Turns out you need to know the magic number which the bike dude read off of a chart, to put into your computer (that magic number is 2105 for my bike and my computer).

Mission accomplished-- handlebar tape rewound, computer recalibrated, and little metal thingie purchased. Off we went. Just before Stone Barns we stopped at the Union Church of Pocantico Hills. This little known treasure has several works of art commissioned by various Rockefellers, including 9 stain glass windows by Marc Chagall.

What a great day! I got to spend some time on my bike with DH. We visited places of great beauty and values. And I know for sure that I rode 22 miles at 11 mph. Ah, sweet slowness.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Delightfully Tacky Yet Unrefined

Yesterday I finally got back to the gym, after an absence of about 2 months! It's not that I haven't been working out, just that I haven't been working out indoors. So there I was, happily going nowhere on the arc trainer plugged into my iPod, when I saw her...... I call her the Hooter Lady. She is rather petite probably a size 6P, and she is in good shape, but her most noticeable feature is.... well.... her big boobs. She is usually wearing very tight tights and an even tighter Hooters tank top. Her big boobs are on display (especially when she lies down on the mats to stretch and do sit-ups!). And her tank top includes the Hooters slogan across the back-- Delightfully Tacky Yet Unrefined. There are plenty of other women wearing camis and sports bras and tight tights and yet she stands out (at least to me) because f the Hooters tank top. She's old enough to know better. And if she is/was a Hooters Girl, I would think she has had enough of being viewed as a D cup. Delightfully Tacky Yet Unrefined. Looky Yet No Touchy. Incredibly Bitchy Yet Of No Great Consequence. Incredibly Sexy Yet Misguided. Incredibly Big Yet Fake. Hehe, now who is bitchy.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The 35-Mile 30-Mile Ride

Sunday was the Tour de Putnam, which is a self-paced (self-inflicted) bike ride through lovely and almost rural Putnam County. It should be subtitled Tour de Hills. I knew it was going to be hilly so I opted for the 30 mile ride instead of the 50 miler. I met up with some of my club buddies and we set off on our journey. As we left the park, a photographer snapped a couple of shots and we ended up on the website of the local newspaper. That's me in front!

Well, we were riding along going up and up and up and occasionally down. It was mostly rolling hills with a few challenging climbs. It was not a really nice day, but we were thankful for the cloud cover which kept the temperature down. When we stopped at mile 19 for a bathroom break and refreshments (yummm, Fig Newtons!) I was thinking, "10 more miles, time to bring it home!" Then I looked at the cue sheet and the ride was actually 35 miles. I didn't actual mind the extra 5 miles. In fact, that made the ride just about perfect for me. But I can't figure out why they would advertise a 30 mile ride and then give you a 35 mile route. The last 5 miles were probably the flattest part of the ride, anyway, but I was glad to see the park and get some real food. I talked with some of my friends who did the 50 miler, and they said their route was only 45 miles!! Well, I know where the missing 5 miles ended up-- on my ride! Not a big deal, just something to blog about.

(Photo with Buddha at the entrance to the Chuang Yen Monastery, Kent NY)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Another Milestone

On Saturday, my husband and I helped our son move into an apartment. He is returning to college for his sophomore year, and has opted for off-campus living with 3 buddies. Saturday consisted of driving in heavy traffic, lifting heavy items, and for me, contemplation. First I thought about whether it is wise to let him move into an apartment as a sophomore. Second, I looked around this apartment and trying to keep things in perspective, considered whether this apartment is inhabitable for 4 young men. And third, I considered this milestone in my son's life, as time marches on.

Time will tell whether his moving into an apartment is a wise decision, but based on the available evidence, DH and I both felt comfortable with it. Academically he had a stupendous freshman year. He has shown great initiative and responsibility already in dealing with the management company and buying used furniture. He has shown us that he makes good decisions, most of the time.

The apartment was basically what I expected. It is beat up and worn out by years of college students. But it is reasonably clean and functional. There is even a washer and dryer in there! What it will look like by Thanksgiving, I have no idea. Hopefully they will clean it before any parents come to visit!

And so time marches on. And when I consider the type of person my son is becoming and the choices he is making, I start beaming. I don't want to get into a nature v. nurture debate, but I do feel lucky. And as son #2 begins his senior year, I hope he will also show off his good qualities as he begins to spread his wings and move into his adult life.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


There has been a noticeable shift in my ordinary life over the last month or so, because I bought the DSLR. I have become obsessed with my photography. I seek out photo ops. I spend too much time on Flickr. As a result, I have not been working out or blogging or cooking or watching TV (well, I am also obsessed with the Olympics, so I have been watching TV this past week. I will watch just about any Olympic event). But I digress. So I have been taking pictures of people on the street, musicians in Bryant Park, the view from a canoe, teenage girls camped out for the Jonas Brothers concert, Yankee Stadium, cyclists at a time trial, and statues and sculptures. I have been viewing my world monocularly, through the lens of a Canon XTi. I have been enjoying it immensely, but I need to start looking at everything with BOTH eyes OPEN. I need to get back to the gym. I have to get more productive both at home and at work. I want to catch up with my blogging buddies. Balance. I have to find balance........ ying...... yang....... priorities......... camera...... gym...... family...... laundry........ Olympics...... family........ job........ friends......... everything that defines an ordinary life.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Great Kayak Adventure -- Caught Between the Tide and a Monsoon

Just sit right back and read this tale, the tale of a fateful trip. Back in December at the Bike Club's holiday party, I was one of eight ride leaders that won a special “mystery prize.” The prize was a gift certificate for a “kayak adventure” from Hudson Valley Outfitters in Cold Spring. On Saturday morning August 2, 7 castaways, oh I mean ride leaders set out for a 3 hour tour of Constitution Marsh.

After getting “fit” for our kayaks and a few minutes of instruction, we were ready to put our ship, oh I mean kayaks in the water. I very casually mentioned the possibility of a thunderstorm, and was told by the fearless crew, oh I mean kayak guides, not to worry. They would know what to do in the event of bad weather and I should just have a good time.. I was assured that the thundering noise I was hearing was not thunder, but artillery at West Point.

Entering Constitution Marsh via kayak requires passing underneath the railroad bridge. There is not very much clearance, and this is highly dependent upon the tides. But obviously the Professor, oh I mean Matt the kayak guide, had knowledge of the tide schedule and we entered the Marsh. Even on a cloudy day, my first impression was of the overwhelming beauty of the marsh—the tall grasses, the beautiful flowers and the calls of the birds. As we paddled along, it started to drizzle, but it was actually quite pleasant and we moved along through the channels in the marsh. A few minutes later, we heard thunder. Very clearly thunder and not artillery at West Point. The 3 guides had a brief conference and decided we should make our way to the Audobon Center just in case we needed to get off the water. At this point the tide was coming in and getting back under the bridge to get back to Cold Spring was not really an option.

Guess what happened next, my friend. The weather started getting rough, VERY rough. It was becoming obvious to the crew that we were not going to get to the Audobon Center quickly enough and that we needed to get off the water. The kayakers set ground on the shore of this unchartered piece of Constitution Marsh. We disembarked; over the rocks, between the large tree limbs and through the poison ivy patch. One or two people fell out of their kayaks, but it was warmer in the water than standing in the now torrential downpour. If not for the courage and fast acting guides, the kayakers would have been lost! We spent the next 20 minutes huddled together in a very small clearing along the shore, waiting for this monsoon to pass. But it did pass, and we were able to get back in our kayaks. Most of them were now little floating bathtubs. We continued on our journey and made our way to the Audobon Center, where we were able to wring out our clothes, bail out the kayaks, eat our lunches and make a few more analogies to Gilligan’s Island. At this point it was abundantly clear that the monsoon was not going to repeat, and we were given the choice of a ride back to Cold Spring or returning via kayak. All 7 of us proudly got back in our kayaks and we set off. The Marsh was peaceful and cool and quite beautiful and the tide did most of the work, pulling us along. When we got near the railroad bridge, the guides had us practice crouching in our kayaks to make sure we didn’t get bonked in the head. We all made it under the bridge and back to Cold Spring. You can be sure that all 7 of us will be at the Holiday party in December, hoping that our names are pulled out of the bag for another Great Kayak Adventure!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

A Little Bit of Everything

This past weekend was the perfect blend of activities. On Friday afternoon, I made a trip to the Bronx Botanical Gardens to see and photograph the Moore sculpture exhibit. Moore's sculptures are quite large and the beautiful gardens are the perfect backdrop. The only problem was that I really didn't like his sculptures. I liked seeing them in this setting--it provided a great excuse to wander through the Botanical Gardens.

On Saturday and Sunday mornings I went out for easy club rides to get my legs turning and my butt used to sitting on a bike saddle. I haven't done any real bike riding in about a month and it felt good to be out there covering some miles and feeling my heart pound on the climbs. This was good stuff!

On Saturday night we went to a 50th birthday party for a dear friend. She hasn't had an easy time in the past year, but she seemed happy to be surrounded by her friends and family. The invite said no gifts, so I didn't buy her anything. Instead I printed out 2 nice photographs I had taken on occasions when we were together-- one was from when we went to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Bronx Botanical Gardens, as a matter of fact. And the other was an autumn hike overlooking the Hudson River. Then I burned a collection of 50 songs covering 5 decades-- from Peggy Lee to Coldplay. I'm sure she will appreciate these gifts more than a gift certificate to Sports Authority or something similar.

And Sunday night featured a trip to Giants Stadium for a Bruce Springsteen concert. Every time I see the man perform, I am more impressed with his musical genius. It was 3 hours of kick ass rock n roll. DH went back for more. He has a serious Boss addiction.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Public Display of Slowness

Yesterday evening was the bike club's first Time Trials, to coincide with the Tour de France. Nineteen riders showed up at the park. Although it was made perfectly clear that the event was open to ALL riders from A down to D, most of the participants were A and B riders (that's really fast and fast). First, each racer (and I use that term loosely) was timed on 1 lap (the course is a 1.8 mile loop). Based on those times, we were divided into 6 teams of 3 riders. Then we each rode 3 laps and team scores were derived simply by adding the times of the 3 team members. Each rider started individually, and the original plan was to start racers from fastest to slowest. As the slowest rider, that would have meant that I not only would start last, but everyone else would be done and watching me drag my slow self around for 3 laps! So in an uncharacteristic episode of whining, I whined my way from starting last to starting first (it helped that my DH was one of the officials).

I was the slowest rider. And not by a little. But, my team of 3 included Hagen, the fastest rider! There was hope for a team trophy! But alas, even Hagen (with wheels that seemed to fly) could not compensate for my slowness (my wheels seemed to be riding through quicksand!). My slowness brought my team the glory of finishing last.

The yellow jersey goes to Hagen. I have decided that I, too, deserve a jersey, for displaying my ultimate slowness in a public forum. And since there is no official jersey to recognize the slowest rider in the Tour de France, it seems to me that I can design this jersey from scratch, with whatever colors or icons I would like. I'm still working on it. Originally I was thinking pink or purple, but I don't want people to think that only women can earn the jersey. Maybe blue, the color of the sky, for when I dream about speed. Add some squares, for when it seems that my wheels couldn't possibly be round.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My Ride

Today I drove to Hamilton in central New York. There is a funky conference center here, very laid back with cabins and a dining room overlooking the lake. I have a meeting that starts tomorrow at noon, so rather than getting up at the crack of dawn (it’s a 4+ hour drive), I drove up today. And I brought my bike. And my little Canon. I went for a fantastic ride in the late afternoon. It was all back roads, through farm country, over rolling hills (no killer climbs). The temp was in the mid 70s with big puffy clouds floating by. People working on the farms waved to me, and cars waited for me at intersections. And when I got back into town, I stopped at Maxwell’s for an ice cream cone. The only downside was being alone. I don’t mind being alone, but I just wanted to share the experience with someone who would appreciate it as much as I did.
Here’s my ride:

Monday, June 16, 2008

Mileage and Images

I spent most of the day Saturday taking pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. The thing I love about a digital camera is not paying for film. I didn't run out of power, but I'm sure I would run out of power before I ran out of space on a 2 GB memory card.

I spent a good part of the day on Sunday on my bike. It was a beautiful ride, along the shores of the reservoirs, with a rest stop at the bagel shop. Bike riders love bagel shop rest stops!

In the evening I prepared a simple but delicious dinner for Father's Day. I could get used to this!

Friday, June 13, 2008

After Tri, Before DSLR

Having the triathlon on my schedule was a wonderful goal and really motivated me to work hard and challenge myself, mentally and physically. So, as might be expected, I have let things slide since the race. I think I needed the “vacation,” especially mentally. But now I am trying to find another direction or goal, to get me back in the game. I looked at the triathlon schedules for the rest of the season and nothing popped out as being both in the realm of possibility and at a time when I am not traveling. I am going to be traveling quite a bit in the next 6 weeks, which makes training for any race difficult. So I have decided to focus more on what I enjoy the most—being outdoors and riding my bike. Yesterday was a beautiful day and I went out for a ride by myself, something I don’t do very often. But it was nice to ride at whatever pace felt right, stop to take a few pictures, and make my own decisions about whether to make that right knowing it would take me uphill. In the evening, I volunteered to row my little boat for tri-friend K, who is getting ready for the Philly Tri (an Olympic). We were joined by another club member who brought his kayak, just to get out on the water. Then we made friends with another kayaker, and our little flotilla surrounded K as she swam about a mile. We finished up with a little picnic. So overall, it was a great day! I made that right turn and climbed to the top of Moseman Avenue. I rowed my little boat on a beautiful little lake and picnicked with some friends. When I got home, I spent some time with DH. And when the day was done, I slept like a baby.

Over the last month or so, I have been taking my camera along and taking pictures wherever I go. Yankee Stadium, Batavia, biking and hiking. I went to the Fat Tire Festival last weekend just to take photos. DH and I are going to Israel next month, so I decided it was now or never. I bought the digital SLR that I have coveted for so long. I bought a Canon Rebel XTi with a 28-135 zoom. DH called to tell me that it was delivered. My Before DSLR days are over. Tomorrow is the first day of my DSLR Life. First stop: Cold Spring Triathlon, which features a 1 mile kayak in lieu of a swim segment.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Tri Truth

Arrive at Lakeside Park, get set up, notice all the really incredibly fit-looking athletes, feel a bit intimidated, but quickly banish those thoughts. Take some photos with my tri-friends and tri-DH. Having fun. Put on my wetsuit, start to feel nervous. I am in the 6th wave, standing on the beach watching how slowly the swimmers are moving through the water and how far away that big yellow buoy seems. Decide I would like to go home. Quickly banish that thought. Line up at the waters edge, all the way at the back of the wave, on the inside. The horn blows and I wait 2 or 3 seconds to let everyone else hit the water and then I very gently dive in. The water is not nearly as cold as last week, and I fall into my own slow even rhythm. Just about the time I am turning around, the faster swimmers in the next wave start to swim over me. I gasp and snort a bit, but keep on moving forward. The swim was mentally the most challenging. I had to keep focused on maintaining that rhythm and not thinking about how slow I was moving. I am in the water for 15 minutes and it feels like much longer. But I tell myself the hardest part is done.

My bike is the only one still on the rack. I feel my confidence falling away, but I remind myself it's my race. By the time I get the wetsuit off and my socks, shoes, helmet, gloves, and glasses on, I have settled down a bit and I'm off on the bike. After a half mile, I am smiling because it feels so good and I feel so good about what I am doing. I am getting passed by athletes with much higher numbers (which means they started way after me). I don't let it bother me because it's my race and they can't take that away from me! I go as hard as I can, hit the turnaround, tried to keep the pace, hit T2, and head out for the run. The run was physically the most difficult. I was hoping the feeling would ease after 1/2 mile or so, but I never really got comfortable. All I saw was the road, and all I kept thinking was keep going, don't stop. The higher numbers are still passing me. Oh well. Then I see one lady really struggling and she is wearing a much lower number. I pass her! Yeah, I passed someone, I won't be dead last! I hear the crowds, I see the finish line! I did it.

I finished in 1:46 (1/3 mi swim, 12 mi ride, 3 mi run). I am 386 in a field of 423. I am 12/13 in my age group. So no trophy. I am slow. I will never be fast. I am convinced that all the training in the world ain't gonna make me faster. It may make it easier, but I don't think I'm going to find much speed. But I feel great and I am a triathlete!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Swim Bike Run DONE!

It was a challenge, mentally and physically, but I did it! After 21 years, I am a triathlete once again.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Weather report

Tomorrow is my triathlon (the race is scheduled for 9-11 am).
This is the weather report:

Scattered thunderstorms in the morning, then strong thunderstorms likely during the afternoon. Storms may produce large hail and strong winds. High 78F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph. Chance of rain 70%.

This could be interesting!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Batavian Taper

I have mentioned previously that as an employee of the State University of New York, I get to travel to various campuses across NY for assorted meetings. So here I am in Batavia (I had friends and family believing that Batavia is a small town in Bulgaria). In order to get here, I had to fly to Rochester, rent a toy car (Kia Rio), and drive 30 miles toward Buffalo. I had the option of spending 2 nights in the Genessee Community College dormitory, but opted for the Days Inn. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the hotel has wireless.

I did bring a pair of sneakers and the college does have a decent fitness center, so I may jump on the treadmill, but I'm pretty much "tapering" for the triathlon on Saturday. Not that I was swimming, biking or running huge mileage from which I need to taper, but it sounds good. Mostly I'm just doing the academic thing, listening to people talk and eating. I did bring my little Canon and I have been taking pictures around Batavia. So that's keeping me on my toes-- you never know when the perfect Batavian photo-op is going to strike! Like having lunch in the physical therapy lab and finding an entire table of little skeletons that have been decorated. Having discovered that you can make little slideshow movies with iMovie, I can't resist including Batavian Taper, a photo blog.

Soundtrack by John Mellencamp, Small Town

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Yankee Stadium

Yesterday we went to Yankee Stadium to see the Yanks battle the Seattle Mariners. Since this is the last season that the Yankees will be playing in the "old" Yankee Stadium, I brought my camera and tried to capture the feeling of a trip to the ballpark. Here is a slideshow of my efforts.

Soundtrack by Jimmy Cliff, The Harder They Come

Slaying Demons

Today was the perfect day for almost anything, especially killing off swimming demons. DH and I went to visit my aunt who still has a summer bungalow on a lake. My family had a summer home for many years here, and I spent the first 18 summers of my life in, on, and around this lake. I even worked as a lifeguard at the camp across the lake for 2 years! So it is a very familiar and very comfortable place. We brought a little inflatable boat, and first he rowed while I swam, and then we switched. The water was still very cold, probably about the same as last week. But this time I stood waist high in the water for a few minutes, and went in nice and easy. The first 3 minutes or so were a little uncomfortable (cold, difficult to get into a rhythm), but then I got more comfortable. I swam out for 10 minutes and turned around. On the way back I actually started feeling pretty good! My ears were feeling cold, but the rest of me was OK, even my arms. I'm not sure how far I swam, but it was more than 1/3 mile. DH was equally successful. Mission accomplished. Begone Evil Open Water Swimming Demons!!

Today was probably one of the most beautiful days of the year-- not a cloud in the sky, temp in the low 70s. So I brought my bike up to the lake, and after visiting with my aunt for a little while, I rode Lew's Flat 15. It's actually 16 miles, but Flat 15 sounds better than Flat 16. I rode it hard and fast (for me). It felt good.

Tomorrow's agenda: ride with the club, barbecue with friends. I could get used to this!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Cold Water Freak Out

This morning I met 3 other triathletes for an open water swim at a nearby pond. We all had wetsuits we had never worn and we are all registered for races in 2 weeks. I'm glad we did it-- but I did not have a very successful swim.

It rained most of the day yesterday, and overnight it was coming down hard. But the morning was bright and sunny, just a little cool-- it was only 53 degrees when we were suited up and ready to go. Even with the wetsuit, that water was COLD. My wetsuit is sleeveless and my arms were really cold. As soon as I hit the water, I felt like my heart rate went sky high and I couldn't find my breath. I could not get any kind of rhythm going. I couldn't calm myself down to get control, and that feeling of not having control made it worse. I'm not sure how long I tried (not very long) or how far I had gotten (not very far) before I decided to turn around. We had someone rowing a little boat and she followed me back to the dock and then turned around to catch up with my 3 friends. They all swam across the pond and back.

So I have next weekend to conquer the swimming demon. Suprisingly, I am not all worried about this. It would have been a real problem if I hadn't done this before the race. But now that I know what to expect, I think I will be able to handle it. I'm already formulating a plan for next weekend, when I will be swimming in the lake where my family had a summer home for years and years.

Today I realized that triathlons are not just swimming, biking and running, they are also a mind game, and your mind can shut you down in a flash.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Peace On Your Path

I had dinner with a bunch of ladies to celebrate J’s new job and her birthday. The ladies present were an expanded version of the “Book Club that Doesn’t Read the Book.” They would pick a book, not read it, but then spend hours talking about life in general (sex, boyfriends, sex, lovers, sex, husbands, sex). It’s all about supporting each other and the stories. In fact, one of the ladies is the designated “Keeper of the Stories.” There may be a book, and after one evening, I can see that she has a lot of material to work with!

  • Going to a bar mitzvah service (to which you have not been invited) to see how your lover and his wife interact—is the magic really gone? (I have definitely seen this episode of Sex and the City). Having fat wife sit directly behind you and greet you with “Shabbat Shalom.”
  • Getting fired because you used your boss’ credit card to pay for a hotel room for some nookie with your lover, then having to intercept FedEx delivery of severance agreement (which very clearly states the reason you are being canned) and substitute a forged copy which has very carefully been prepared on stolen company letterhead so your husband doesn’t find out.
  • Being told by your physician that the reason you have a puffy face, a black eye, and blood all over your pillow is because you probably smashed into a wall while sleepwalking after taking Ambien.

The winning story belongs to L, who made a trip to Europe with a dear friend. Before leaving, her boyfriend gave her a beautifully wrapped gift and told her not to open it until she got to her destination and had some quiet time. When she got to Berlin and opened the package, she found a small box of cheap chocolates (the type you can buy at the check-out counter at CVS) and an envelope. On the envelope was written, “Make this the best trip of your life.” Inside was a typed letter, beginning with “I am breaking up with you.” She spent the next week traveling through Germany sharing the letter with every tourist she met along the way, and took pictures of each of them holding the letter. Most agreed it was the most demented and self-serving bullshit they had ever read. The letter’s signature line was “Peace on your path.”

Today I couldn't resist. I signed one of my emails, “Peace on your path, Shelly."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Dark Side

Google "benefits exercise" and you will get over 5 million hits! But google "disadvantages exercise and you only get 460,000 hits. The fit life does have its dark side, and it should not be ignored. So here it is: the Top Ten Disadvantages of a Healthy Lifestyle.
  1. Excessive laundry. When DH and I were sick for a week, I only had half as much laundry. Working out increases the amount of laundry by close to 100%. That's alot of clothes to fold and put away! As a corollary, somewhere between entering the washing machine and exiting the dryer, socks seem to be running away, perhaps to a singles sock hop in a secret location. I sure as hell can't figure out where all the missing socks have gone!
  2. Helmet hair, goggle eyes and ugly toe syndrome. Need I say more?
  3. Too many T-shirts and water bottles. Not only do they accumulate from various races and events, but athletic type people have some kind of force field surrounding them that attracts T-shirts and water bottles. "Oh, I can wear that shirt working out." "Sure, I'll take it, I can sleep in it even if it's size triple XL." "I like this water bottle because I can fit ice cubes in it." In my house, we even have a T-Shirt Hall of Fame (I'm not kidding). Sometimes we just can't get rid of a favorite shirt, even if it's full of holes and doesn't fit.
  4. Lopsided shoulders from always carrying at least 1 extra bag. Gym bag, lunch bag, change of clothes. Even if you're just carrying it to your car, when was the last time you left the house with only 1 bag?
  5. You are either too lazy or just don't have the time to change the playlists on your iPod. You are stuck in a musical rut. And you are bored with it but you still don't get around to changing it.
  6. You are obsessed with numbers-- heart rate, mileage, speed, cadence, calories, laps. The need to remember and contemplate the meaning of all these numbers leaves less room in your brain for other information, like your dental appointment and the need to buy food.
  7. Hair removal-- you have to be more diligent. You can't let it slide, even in the winter.
  8. All your towels end up as gym towels. No matter how many towels you buy, no matter what color, you never have nice clean towels for your guests.
  9. Catalogs seem to be breeding in your mailbox. Most of these companies also send you daily emails to remind you of free shipping for the rest of your life, 10% off of everything you don't need and closeouts on ugly apparel. As a result, your recycling bins (both real and virtual) are overflowing.
  10. Maintaining good vision is a full-time job, between glasses, contact lenses, goggles, sunglasses, protective eyewear, reading glasses, putting them in, taking them off, keeping them on, prescription this, and non-prescription that. You need a flow chart to keep track of all the options. Lose 1 item in your visual system and you are screwed.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Butt Buster

Are you tired of your flabby ass? Or maybe your ass is MIA. Either way, you can have a better bootie. All you need is this new exciting technology-- The Butt Buster.

Before using The Butt Buster, I highly recommend that you put on some appropriate work out clothes and fill up your XL water bottle. You might want to prepare a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because building a better bootie is hard work. You are going to get hungry, so be prepared. Sneakers are usually sufficient, but hiking boots are better. Two pair of socks may make your feet a little warm, but that's better than having butt busting blisters. Are you ready? Good. Now get in your car, drive to a nearby mountain, and walk up to the summit. If you can find a trail that traverses several peaks, that's even better. Spend 3-4 hours walking up and down mountains and your butt will be screaming at you, "Here I am, back here. Remember me now?" As an added benefit, your butt will probably reacquaint you with some other long lost friends-- your quads and your calves.

The Butt Buster Basic edition is inexpensive, but if you want to throw some money on it, you can opt for the Deluxe version with various add-ons: GPS system, heart rate monitor, camelback, camera (to take photos of friends when they fall on their butts), bug repellent clothing, pants with multiple zippers, and a sherpa carrying all the fixin's for a gourmet lunch.

The Butt Buster is easy to use and readily available in many (but not all) locations. It can be used by multiple people simultaneously, which makes it easier to appreciate butt humor ("I'm going to slide down these rocks on my ass, that's why I grew it"). No need to go online, no deposit required, just call up a friend, ask them to join you and start Butt Busting today.