The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Fav Photos

For a good part of 2009, my camera(s) and I were inseparable. But there were definitely some holes in my photographic year, when I just wasn't motivated to take pictures. For me, taking pictures is an activity, and although I try to combine it with other activities, I have difficulty doing that. I much prefer to have my camera because shooting photographs is what I am doing. Anyway, here are some of my favorites from 2009. I tried selecting one for each month. That worked fairly well except for November when I didn't take any photos. So I present 2 from October when DH and I were on vacation.

2009 began on New Years Day in Nassau, The Bahamas, at Junkanoo, the Caribbean equivalent of Carnivale. The streets exploded with energy, colors, music and photo ops!

There was so much live music in 2009, from the big stadium shows to the more intimate shows at the Paramount Theatre in Peekskill. I love going to the Paramount because usually I can get close enough to take some shots with my little Canon. I love this sax man, and the way he pops out of the blackness.

This is just plain ridiculous. I came upon this sign while hiking.

Once April came, it was all about cycling with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Bike Shorts (and significant others). Eventually we traveled to the RI Century in September.
The spring also means baseball, and here is my son at the plate; his senior year, playing varsity.
Once summer came, there were more opportunities to love the outdoors and the Hudson Valley. This was taken from Boscobel on a beautiful evening when I went to see The Shakespearean Festival production of Much Ado About Nothing.

It was love at first sight. As soon as I walked into the "new" Yankee Stadium, I felt the magic. And indeed that magic culminated in a World Championship. I loved coming to the stadium and taking photos.

In August, I went to an outdoor concert at Lincoln Center, featuring Derk Trucks Band. But there were 2 performers before him, including this guy, Snehashish Mozumder, playing a double headed mandolin. The music was fascinating and powerful.

One of my photographic lapses was the RI Century in September. I guess I was investing so much energy in getting through it, that I just didn't think of photodocumenting our 100 mile journey. I certainly wish I had. Here is Sister Ellen, looking astonished at something, but I know not what.

October brought DH and I out west, to New Mexico and Colorado. One of my favorite places we visited was Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado. I love the shadows in this photo, and the feeling of the solitude up on the dunes.

We were lucky enough to be in Albuquerque for Balloon Fiesta! Talk about photo ops, as the sun came up and the balloons were inflated.

Finally December brought my declaration that I am going to walk a half marathon and I began my quest for 13 Sixteens. This seems like a good photo to close out 2009 and march right into 2010!

Looking forward to a fantastic photographic 2010!

Scooter Lady

I had a conversation this morning with the Scooter Lady. She arrives at the train station via scooter, folds it up and slings it across her shoulder, and when she arrives at Grand Central Terminal, she unfolds it and scoots off to her office. Her office is at Columbus Circle, which is not that far from Grand Central, but requires 2 trains if you wanted to get there by subway. It takes at least 20 minutes to walk it. Scooter time: 8 minutes. Out of the north end of the terminal, across 47th St. to Eighth Avenue, and up to Columbus Circle via the bike lane. She said once she saddles up, she can be on a train in 9 minutes. She has a heavy duty scooter, with big wheels and a hand brake; kinda like your kid’s razor scooter on steroids. She used to live in the city and the scooter was her primary means of transportation. She would travel with her daughter on the scooter, too, getting her to and from birthday parties, ice skating and dance lessons. When she moved to the suburbs, she quickly realized that the scooter was still an essential piece of her new life as a commuter. Even on a day like today, when the temperature is probably 20ish and there is a wicked wind blowing, she scoots. Eight minutes on the scooter; its over before you have time to think about how cold it is, and I’m sure she warms up in about 2 minutes! I don’t know the source of her motivation to scoot, probably convenience more than anything. But what a great way to start your day. Get your blood moving and arrive at your office in a snap. If you can overcome even one hurdle that nyc throws at you on a daily basis, think of what you can accomplish in that office in the next 7 hours! Carpe Diem! Seize the day!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

These Boots Are Made for Walking

A couple of years ago, I bought myself a pair of low-rise hiking boots. I then never wore them. I just realized I felt more secure with my regular hiking boots. If a trail is at all rocky, I appreciated the support for my ankles. My hiking boots are very comfortable, so there is no reason NOT to wear them. Until now.... I have found the perfect terrain for my low-rise hikers.
The Rockefeller State Preserve (better known to us locals as The Rockies) in Sleepy Hollow is 1,200+ acres deeded to New York State by the Rockefellers. It features 20 miles of carriage trails. The trails are much easier on your feet than roads, and being off the roads means I can put on my iPod without worrying. You don't need hiking boots for these trails, sneakers are fine, but they do get wet and muddy, so trail shoes or light hikers are ideal. On weekends, there are always people around, so I feel safe, but the place is so huge that it never feels crowded. I'm starting to love this place!
Today was a gift.... a December Sunday with temps into the 50s and bright sunshine. I wanted to go for a bike ride, but I couldn't find anyone who wanted to ride with me, so instead of riding alone, I opted for 2 hours of trails at the Rockies. I didn't even need a hat! I didn't push the speed today, just trying to get my feet accustomed to some serious mileage. And when I was done, I got to go to a party and EAT!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Morning Hike

Today was the bike club's traditional Christmas morning hike. We tromped around in the snow and walked around in circles in this relatively small park. Although it wasn't very strenuous, it was nice to be in the woods (off the roads) with a bunch of very nice people. Even when we are stomping around in the woods on snow covered trails, somehow, the conversations eventually find their way to talking about cycling!
For today's adventure, I chose a navy blue fleece Yankees hat (see red jacket, white neck warmer in front row in photo above). The hat "give-away" was sponsored by Nathan's, so there is also a Nathan's emblem on the hat. I don't remember ever getting fleece winter hats at Yankee Stadium, so I assume they were acquired while dining at Nathan's. It's your basic fleece hat, and it did a perfectly adequate job of keeping my head and ears warm during the outdoor trek.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

5 Miles Wearing a Hat With a PomPom

Today was a beautiful winter day. I opted for the roads. I walked 5 miles through my suburban neighborhood. I walked fast. At times, I wanted to run, but I kept walking. It was harder than I thought! My ankles and my shins were talking to me. And my toe. And when I was done, the balls of my feet were burning. So this 13 Sixteens challenge is indeed going to be a challenge.
I bought a couple of pair of sweat pants and cobbled together a complete set of winter fitness walking performance clothing. Lots of fleece-- pullover, gloves, socks, jacket. The last essential item required before leaving the house was a hat. I had several hats from which to choose. Over the years, the hats have accumulated. Today I chose a Team USA knit hat with a pompom. My husband bought it in a gas station during the '88 winter Olympics, which took place in Calgary. The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver are not very far away so it seemed a good choice. The red white and blue knit matches my red outdoor fitness jacket. My iPod headphones were in place beneath my hat. I was rocking and walking and it was a great workout.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sixteens on the Hills With Toe Socks

My quest for 13 sixteens continues with miles mostly on the treadmill. Today I set the pace but let the treadmill go random, up and down some hills. I haven't decided yet if this is a good way to train, since my pace did not change with the incline. It probably makes more sense to vary the speed as the incline changes, and hopefully average sixteen minutes per mile. But that will come at a later point. Today's goal was to see if I could reduce the incidence of blisters on my toes by wearing...............

toe socks! I received some advice from a couple of runner type people that toe socks would help , so I invested $12 in these. As you can see, even my toes are short (I am contemplating hemming the toes). But I wore them for 3.5 miles of treadmilling and.......... no blisters! They did feel weird but I can handle that, especially if my short toes will be blisterless.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

21 Years

Son #1 is celebrating his 21st birthday today. Most of my thoughts have been about him, and the man that he has become. There is also that sense of time slipping away, how can it possibly be 21 years since he was born. Then DH called me and we talked about our memories of his birth and what it meant for us, to become a family of 3. Then he had to throw in, “you were in really bad shape for a few days.” Yes I was, physically, but from my perspective, that was such a minor detail in the grand scheme. I have never been one to whine or complain, I am definitely more of a warrior, so there was no way a C-section was going to keep me down. But I do remember The Chair.

The day after my C-section, the nurse came into my room and announced that I was going to sit up and get out of bed. But first they gave me 2 Percosets and waited an hour for them to “kick in.” Two nurses helped me sit up and then helped me move into a chair. It felt like every muscle in my body was connected to my abdomen, including my fingers, toes and eyelids. Any movement of any part of my body hurt. There was no way I was getting back into that bed until it was time to go to sleep because I wasn’t going to get out of that bed again. So I sat in The Chair for about 12 hours. It wasn’t a very comfortable chair, but I considered the options and stayed put. The nurses made several offers to help me get back into bed. No way. I sat in The Chair. I don’t remember what the next day was like, but I do remember everyday was much better than the day before...... until my Milk Came In. But let’s not go there. I remember DH and I standing over his crib and thinking, “he’s so tiny, he’ll never outgrow this crib.” And now he has pretty much outgrown our house, in addition to the crib. There have been so many moments of wonder and joy (and fear), and I know there are many more to come.


My New Year’s Resolutions are probably no different than they have been for years. I guess I’m on the Resolution Maintenance Program. They revolve around a healthy lifestyle and finding a way to balance work, family and fitness. Many times these pieces have a wonderful synergy; but at other times they pull in opposite directions. I know I can always do better but I try to keep things in perspective and not get obsessive. There will be good days and bad days. As long as the net sum is positive, I think I’m doing well. Having goals or resolutions helps me to Keep Moving Forward (KMF). I shall make that my “theme” for 2010. So here are my KMF Resolutions for 2010.

  • I will eat more vegetarian meals. They are good for me and good for the planet.
  • I will clean up my personal spaces and maintain them. This will probably include getting rid of stuff that I don’t need/don’t use/don’t like.
  • I will spend more time interacting with people LIVE instead of online.
  • I will do what it takes to get ready to walk the More Half Marathon on April 25, 2010.
  • I will help DH do what he needs to do but I will not nag him.
  • I will pack lunch often and plan food in order to go to the gym after work and avoid purchasing snacks in Grand Central Terminal. Black and White cookies, our relationship is ending.
  • I will continue to find ways to use fewer resources and reduce my carbon footprint.
  • I will use commuter train time to an advantage, to read and write.
  • I will mix and match Swim/Bike/Walk/Strength/Yoga.
  • I will blog about KMF even if no one is reading because it is more fun than keeping a pen & paper version.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


I have been getting to know a 16 minute mile on the treadmill. The result: a blister on my little toe and shin splints! It's a good thing I have 4 months to get ready for this Big Walk.

Today I got on a treadmill and used a program with a targeted heart rates. But the heart rate monitor wasn't working real well, so when it read 67 bpm, the treadmill kept increasing the incline until it was practically vertical and it kept telling me to go faster! It should have been telling me to hang on! It was kind of funny.

I'm sitting around waiting for the snowstorm. I hope there's enough snow to get out on snowshoes tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Swim Bike Walk Strength Yoga

Back in 2008, when I registered for my first triathlon in 21 years, I started researching triathlon training programs. I checked books out of the library, and I was all over the web. That lasted a week or two. I decided I didn’t need to box myself into a training program. Training wasn’t going to make me much faster, especially in a sprint. My goal was to complete the race with greater ease and comfort. To achieve that goal, I just started swimming, biking and running. There were no magic formulas or mileage goals. I looked a the resources I had available, worked with those, and then filled in the missing pieces. I had workouts with the Masters Swim Team and club bike rides. I continued a strength program, working with a trainer once a week. What evolved is a 4 piece program – Swim/Bike/Run/Strength – but the 4 pieces are fluid and flexible. In 2008, the triathlon became my motivation for staying with it and to challenge myself to take it a little bit further. In 2009, my goal was to ride my first century. The 4 piece program stayed the same – Swim/Bike/Run/Strength – but the balance shifted toward more bike miles. And now in 2010, I have registered for a half marathon in late April and a sprint tri in early June. Run will morph into Walk, and I would like to add Yoga to the blend. Swim/Bike/Walk/Strength/Yoga. Once again, I have to find a way to balance all the pieces and not create a regimen. Boxing myself into something I can’t live with would be worse than a DNF. That’s the plan, put swim, bike, walk, strength and yoga in a mixing bowl, put in a little more of this and a little less of that, blend it all together and cook up a half marathon, a sprint tri and maybe another century ride.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What Have I Gotten Myself Into!!

After some prodding and poking from some very athletic girlfriends, I registered for the More Half Marathon in Central Park on April 25, 2010. I am going to WALK 13.1 miles. There is a 3.5 hour cutoff, which translates to 16 minutes/mile. Now that may seem incredibly slow to some of you, but for those of us with short strides, maintaining that pace for 3.5 hours is a challenge. But challenge is good (at least for me). It motivates me and keeps me moving forward. I am a little concerned about my knees and toes. My knees definitely can't take the mileage required to train for and run a half marathon, that's why I have to walk it if I am going to do this. And my right big toe has a bone spur which means it doesn't bend real well and gets to hurtin'. But I am optimistic that I can find a way to do this. Advil, ice, and some common sense. So I think I am going to have to buy some sweatpants because it looks like I'm going to be spending alot of time outdoors this winter!! I'm also going to need some new high spirited playlists on the iPod!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Team Rock Stars

Several members of my Masters Swim Team competed in a regional Masters swim meet and totally kicked ass! In their age groups, Kirsten took 1st place in 100 Fly and 800 Free, and 3rd in 400 Free. Luke, at his first competitive swim event EVAR took 5th place in 50 Back. And Bey, our coach and former Olympian was 1st in 100 Fly and 100 IM. Congratulations! I am inspired to keep working on my swimming, so last night I got in the pool and swam hard. I worked hard enough that I actually felt like the pool was too warm (or maybe I was having a hot flash in the pool?!). 1900 yards later I got out and my arms were toast. I'm feeling the love this morning in my back and shoulders. Just enough to remind me that I worked hard and I need to do it again later today, this time on land.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


November was a good month and My Iron Miles Challenge is going well, except for the running miles. I was considering running after swimming today but when I got to the gym this morning for Masters Swim, I discovered that the coach wasn't there. So I decided to switch it up and do the "landsports" first (the staff is never happy when the triathletes jump on the bikes and treadmills after swimming and leave little puddles behind). I warmed up on the arc trainer, then I switched to the treadmill. I walked up a steep incline then I did some walk/run intervals. I clocked 4 miles and headed for the pool. I swam. No workout or drills or fins or pull buoys. I just got in the pool and swam laps, taking it slow and trying to be fishlike. I was thinking 1000 yards but I guess I found my groove because I swam 1500. I could have swam more, but for the last 500, all I could think about was food. I was really hungry! So I called it quits so I could get home to some really yummy leftovers. Not a bad morning.

Then I spent part of the afternoon refreshing my memory on how to use my sewing machine. I made a bag for my yoga mat, so I can leave it in my car. Even something as simple as this is a challenge for me (I won't be selling yoga mat bags on Etsy any time soon)). I did add a big zippered pocket on the outside so I can pack some yoga clothes and flip flops too. I figured I saved $20. It was fun to exercise my creative spirit! and making something instead of buying it saves resources, very crunchy.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The In Between Parts

The 4-day Thanksgiving weekend was filled with bright moments, surrounding the Big Event. In addition to the usual Thanksgiving feast, we celebrated my mom’s 80th birthday. Children, grandchildren, 1 boyfriend, spouses, aunt and uncle went to see a contemporary ballet performance and then to dinner. Yes, DH and sons #1 and #2 sat through 90 minutes of modern dance without muttering one complaint or negative comment. My mom loved it. She loved the ballet and spending the day with the people she loves.

We have a family tradition of playing a game at big holiday gathering. On Thanksgiving it was Malarky. One person has the right answer to a question, such as “why do dogs dislike it when you blow in their ears,” or “why is the shot clock in an NBA game set at 24 seconds?” Everyone else has to make up an answer and try to get the other players to vote for your answer. It was hilarious. My mom is a bad liar.

My gym has a tradition of a 90 minute spin class on Thanksgiving Day, appropriately called the Pilgrim Pedal. It always features a 2nd “guest instructor,” T-shirts and water bottles, raffles for some bike apparel and gift cards, and lots of snarkety backtalk and comraderie. Plus you have a negative caloric balance when you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner.

I bought this jacket from LLBean to wear cycling and during other outdoor adventures into the winter months. I wore it on Sunday when I went for a bike ride with 3 other GirlsOnBikes (GOBs). We started a little later to let the day warm up. We rode some fabulous backroads and stopped at the indie coffee shop for some beverages. It wasn’t about the mileage or speed, it was just an opportunity to be outdoors and ride on a glorious November day. The jacket worked well and will work well in colder weather.

Son #2 left late Saturday night to return to college, and son #1 left on Sunday afternoon. So Sunday was a day to think about how lucky (and thankful) I am and try to hold onto the warm and fuzzy feelings. I went to a yoga class in the afternoon, prepared a light and easy vegetarian dinner, and watched some football. I feel fortified to face the craziness of December.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Pink Glove Dance

We all know somebody who was taken from us by breast cancer. Share this, spread the word, raise awareness.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Riding with the Human Rain Delay

Yesterday I did a nice and easy club ride. I haven't been on my bike in 2 months, so I decided to dial it back and just enjoy being out there on a really beautiful autumn day. I waited until the late morning to get started to take advantage of the warmer temps. That also allowed me to get to my Masters swim workout (yes, I know, I am a beast). Two people showed up to ride with me, one of whom shall now be known as the "Human Rain Delay." As soon as he saw the cue sheet, he started whining about the hills, so I told him we could go as slow as he wanted, no hurry. He rides a cheap bike that is falling apart. About 8 miles into the ride he got a flat, which is a weekly event. For some reason, he has schraeder rims but presta tubes, so he uses these little adapters on the valve so he can use a schraeder pump (last week, the tire came off the rim while riding!?!). After fixing the flat, we needed to stop 2 more times for adjustments. A few miles later his pedal fell off. That was it. Paula and I finished the ride and then I drove back to pick him up. The Human Rain Delay is going to Florida this week for the winter. I hope he buys a new bike when he comes back north in the spring!

It was a beautiful afternoon for a ride, and I enjoyed being out there very much. It was in the mid 50s, and it was totally doable. It made me think that I might try to stay with it. So today I ordered a vest and jacket that I can hopefully wear to stay warm as the weather gets colder. Outdoor activities trump indoor workouts any day of the year.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Yoga Where Art Thou

I have always felt that gym time should be spent either lifting weights or sweating. I do a strength work-out with a trainer once a week; I swim with the Masters Swim Team twice a week; and I run and ride (indoors or outdoors, depending on the season). I have little patience for women who lift light and/or think walking and talking is exercise. And I never thought yoga would have a place in my fitness plan. I always thought of yoga as an "activity" for people who don't want to exercise but still want to feel like they're becoming more fit. Then I started to notice that as I get older, I have less flexibility and poor balance. Add to that the repetitive motion of hundreds of miles of swimming, biking and running and pretty soon your hamstrings, hips and shoulders are tighter than tight. This was my attitude when I took my 1st yoga class ever on Wednesday. It was medicine for my aging body. But I enjoyed it, and I found it challenging. And that didn't change the next day when I was so sore, I could barely get out of bed. I took my second yoga class ever this evening. It was totally different from the Wednesday class (different teacher). It was less physically demanding and much more focused on breathing and using your breath to maintaining attention and focus on the movements. And I am starting to see after these 2 classes that a consistent yoga practice will improve my flexibility and balance. AND it will make me stronger in my core and enhance my ability to use my breath to enhance my performance in any sport but especially in swimming. Swimming is all about efficiency. Flexibility and balance are important components of that efficiency. But mostly it's about controlling your breathing and linking your breathing to your body movements. I can already visualize smoother longer strokes with my arms and head linked to my rhythmic breathing.

So somewhere in the time I spend at the gym, I will find the time for yoga. Between the swimming, lifting, spinning and running, I will bend, balance and pose. And I will take what I learn on the road and into the pool. Right now I am less inclined to work with the more cerebral side of yoga, but maybe I'll find ways to make connections to my life in general.

BTW, I still think yoga is not a substitute for other activities that build muscle and make you sweat. But as a powerful complement to these activities, I'm on the bus.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Words cannot describe the degree of delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS) I am experiencing today. I am sore in places I didn't even know I had muscles. The combination of kettlebells and yoga was way more new experience than my body can handle. The only thing I can do without feeling the soreness is breathing. Well, this will pass and I am still glad I did it. I don't know if I will be swinging kettlebells, since there are no kettlebell classes at times when I can get to them. But I will be back at yoga.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Day Off ... Day On

Veteran's Day is a state holiday in NY, so as a state employee, I have the day off today. So I decided to take advantage of some exercise classes at the gym in which I don't normally have the opportunity to participate. I took a kettlebells class, and about 15 minutes into the class I was thinking, "holy crap how am I going to survive another hour of this!!!???"I was amazed at how quickly swinging a kettlebell became exhausting. Of course doing planks and push ups between sets didn't make it easier either. I can already feel my butt getting sore from doing a few hundred squats!

I also took my first ever yoga class. There are yoga classes every day of the week at my gym, but the only beginner yoga class is Wednesday morning. So this was the perfect opportunity to see what it's all about. Now, for several years I have been telling myself that I'm not a yoga-type person, and that time spent at the gym should focus on burning calories. But I know I don't spend nearly enough time stretching and I have lousy balance. And as an "over 50" person, these are 2 skills that are important to maintaining an active lifestyle. So I went into this with an "it will be good for me" attitude. I was pleasantly surprised that, not only did I find myself stretching and balancing, but it was quite challenging and I liked it quite a bit. And now, I can feel lots of muscles in my back that are getting sore, I woke them up today! I would like to invest more time in yoga classes; I think it will be time well spent. I am going to see if I can get DH to come with me, too. He had started taking yoga classes about a year ago but didn't stick with it. I won't be able to go to the beginner class, so I guess I will have to jump into the real yoga class, but I already know this won't be a problem. You just do what you can do and with practice, you get better at it! I must admit it was difficult for me to stay focused and move slowly and thoughtfully for 90 minutes, but again, this is a good thing to practice.

Friday, November 06, 2009

My Indoor Iron Miles Challenge

In my world of a commuter, changing the clocks marks the beginning of the indoor season. I have not abandoned outdoor activities on weekends, but the shorter daylight hours and colder weather means that the gym is often the best option. This is not necessarily a bad thing, because the gym imposes a more consistent routine on my life. My life has been quite inconsistent, almost chaotic for the past 6 weeks and I have neglected to keep many of my “healthy habits” in play. I have also felt adrift. After completing the Rhode Island Century in September, I have struggled to find the motivation to work out. Certainly part of that was burnout. But part of it is just not having a goal. “Being healthy” only gets me so far. I need to commit to something bigger, a target, to keep my wheels turning.

I have decided I want to get back to triathlons next year. And the training starts now, with My Indoor Iron Miles Challenge (MIIMC). How long will it take me to accumulate the distances of an Ironman—2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling, 26 miles running. How many cycles of Iron Miles can I complete in the next 6 months (November-April). Now since I have invented this challenge, I can also invent all the rules that will govern it. The swimming is the most straightforward. Get in the pool and count laps. The biking is a bit more complicated because I do 95% of my indoor riding in spin class. So I will convert to mileage based on the assumption that I ride 12-14 mph (yes, I am THAT SLOW). Running is the most difficult because my knees cannot tolerate that pounding. I have to cross train. Once again I will supplement running with other cardio and convert based on time, using 4.5-5.0 mph.

My Indoor Iron Miles Challenge kicked off on Tuesday with a spin class. I felt my lack of cardio over the past 6 weeks—my heart rate was higher than typical and I kept looking at the clock to gauge whether I could sustain the effort. But I went with the music and nailed down my first 13 miles. Today I used the arc trainer to warm up for my weight training, so I put down 1 mile of “running.” Only 99 more miles on the bike, 25 more miles on my feet, and 2.4 miles in the pool to complete my first cycle of MIIMC.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Adventures at 8200 Feet

Today we made our way from Santa Fe to Mosca Colorado, home to Great Sand Dunes National Park. This park has to be one of the best kept secrets of the National Parks. It is fairly remote and there is no lodge inside the park. We are staying in a motel just outside the park, which closes for the season at the end of October. This place is beautiful and fascinating. Basically the winds have piled the sand against the mountains, creating dunes as high as 750 feet off the valley floor. There are no restrictions, you can walk, hike, and/or surf on the dunes 24/7. At this time of year, the temperature hovers around 60 on a sunny day and the fall foliage contrasts with the colors of the dunes. The Sangre de Christo Mountains which lie on the eastern edge of the park are already dusted with snow. DH and I went on 2 little hikes today and I don't think we saw more than 5 people.

We started at a trailhead a few miles outside the park to hike to Zapata Falls. The hike started at about 8600 feet and I could feel the paucity of oxygen molecules as soon as we started walking up. Even though we were in Santa Fe for 4 days, the elevation really made it tough. When we got to the creek, 1 of the 5 people we met on our adventures today told us that we had to hike IN the stream to get to the waterfall. So we had to skip across the rocks and scoot around the edges to get to the waterfall inside a little cave. It was a little bit challenging but we made it without getting wet. It was a fun little adventure.

Our second hike started at the Point of No Return-- the furthest point on the "primitive road" unless you have real 4 wheel drive (our Toyota RAV4 did not qualify). From there we hiked a half mile through the sand to the base of the dunes. We hiked up onto the dunes a bit. This was hard work! (Luckily we did not bite off more than we could chew). But standing on the dunes beneath the snow capped mountains was awesome. Tomorrow we will hike up to the top of one of the tallest dunes to view the entire dunefield. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Change of Venue

Change is good, especially when change involves traveling to incredibly beautiful places where you spend time exploring, and challenging yourself in new ways DH and I are in New Mexico. Yesterday we spent time at Bandelier National Monument, experiencing the culture of Native Americans who lived in and around these striking volcanic cliffs and canyons. Our hike took us to a cave dwelling 140 feet above the floor of the canyon. We had to climb a series of ladders, which wasn't easy at any elevation, but especially at 6000+ feet. DH and I were both huffing and puffing going up those ladders. I am glad that I was up to the challenge. It never occurred to me that I couldn't do it. It was a wonderful experience, to be up there looking down the canyon, and thinking about the people who made their home in those caves.

Today's adventure had us exploring Santa Fe on foot. We walked.... and walked.... and walked. We saw some incredible art and learned about the history of New Mexico. Both of us are now sitting around with our feet up! This was much harder on our feet than going out for a run. We're loving being out here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why This Hotel Sucks

Once again I am on the road, this time in Kansas City for Moodle Boot Camp (Moodle is a learning management system used to develop all kinds of ways for teachers to torture students of all ages). I am staying at the Ramada in Overland Park, KS. I won't be coming back here ever. Even if I have a good reason to come back to Overland Park, I won't be staying here. Here's why:

1. The air conditioner/ventilation system is VERY loud. So loud that when I first walked into the room, I immediately walked back to the reception desk and had them give me a different room. The second room is a little better but not much. They then put my colleague in the first room when she arrived.

2. There is one restaurant within walking distance, called Steak and Shake. Guess what I will be having for dinner tonight.

3. There is no desk in the room.

4. There is no light switch within easy reach when you walk into the room. I had to wheel my luggage into a dark room and wander around in the dark until I stumbled upon a lamp to turn on a light.

5. There is no natural light in my room. My room is on the inside of the building and the window (which doesn't open) faces the indoor atrium. I have to keep the curtain closed; otherwise people walking around would be able to see me sitting on the bed (because there is no desk) surfing the internet.

6. The towels are subpar. And one of them had many little black spots as if it had been used to clean a bicycle chain, but then washed and put back into circulation. I took it out of circulation, at least in my part of the universe.

7. There are a few tiny little bugs (fruit flies?) flying around.

8. The TV has crappy audio.

9. There is no van service to get to and from the airport or anywhere else.

10. There is only 1 electric outlet that does not have something plugged into it.

There are a few positives. I have free wireless in my room. The free breakfast includes all the fruit loops and frosted flakes I can eat. The bed is very comfie. And I have a friend that lives in Kansas City that I haven't seen in about 1 year and she recently remarried. I will be spending tomorrow evening with her. So thankfully tonight will be my last night in this hotel room. She might even have fruit loops for breakfast (doubtful).

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am at a meeting, and yesterday I had a small sliver of time so I visited the hotel fitness center. Hotel fitness centers in general tend to be crappy, unless you are staying at a major resort. This one was a little better than average. There were 3 treadmills, 3 recumbent bikes, a stepper, and a multi-station weight machine. There was a nice matted area about 5ft x 5 ft, and a full rack of really nice free weights. This was certainly adequate for a good away from home workout. I returned to the hotel fitness center this morning and pounded out a few miles on the treadmill. I glanced over to the rack holding the free weights and most of them were gone! A hotel staff person came in to make sure everything was in order, and almost had a cow when he saw the almost empty rack. I told him they were all there yesterday afternoon, but he already knew this because its his job to make sure the room is well-maintained and he checks twice a day. He said hotel guests take the free weights back to their rooms. How selfish is that! Are they too lazy to change out of their pajamas and take the elevator down to the fitness center? Are they so completely out of shape that they have decided not to be seen by other humans? Do they not belong to health clubs where the free weights are shared by all the members? Didn’t their parents and kindergarten teachers teach them about sharing? Sometimes housekeeping staff will find the weights and bring them back down, and sometimes not. Do people put these weights in their bags and take them home? Pathetic.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I find that having a goal, something I hope to achieve, is a very big motivator. Last year it was a triathlon. This year it was a metric century and a century ride. Done and done. So now what? What should be my next goal?

Then I read about Amber Monforte in Sports Illustrated.
"Monforte, a 31 year-old registered nurse from Reno, NV, won the women's division of the Ultraman Canada race, a 3 day event consisting of a 6.2 mile swim and a 90 mile bike ride on Day 1, a 170 mile bike ride on Day 2, and a 52.4 mile run on Day 3. Her total time of 25:36:49 beat the women's record by more than 3 hours."

Maybe not in 3 days, but seriously, how long to accumulate 6.2 miles of swimming, 260 miles of riding and 52 miles of running? oh boy, my knees get wobbling at the mere mention of 52 miles of running. OK, then what would be some realistic mileage goals for all 3 sports and a realistic time frame for accumulating those miles? Hmmm, gonna have to think about this one.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Rhode Island Century and the Sisterhood of the GOBs

The Rhode Island Century is advertised as "The Flattest Century in the East." That's why the sisters decided to make this our first century. And it was pretty flat. Someone told me the elevation gain is about 2500 feet; I would be surprised if it was that much. But compared to the hills of Westchester County, this was not challenging terrain for us. However, even 100 flat miles is a long way to go on a bike. It wasn't easy; it just could have been alot more difficult. We all made it. It was tough. And I don't know if I would have been able to do it without the sisterhood of the GOBs as my support team.

The plan was to arrive on Saturday afternoon and go out for a short 20 mile ride to check out our bikes and get a little loose. Sisters Ellen and Judy had some major work done on their bikes in the last week and wanted to make sure all the parts were working. But Saturday was a wash-out. So we had a lovely dinner and went to sleep early. We arrived at registration at about 6:30 and got on the road at 7 am. The first 30 miles went down easy, but I have no impressions of where I was. It was pretty foggy. Sister Ellen lost her rear derailleur at mile 7. She had to call for the SAG wagon. They picked her up and brought her to the first rest stop where there was a bike mechanic. The diagnosis was obvious-- the cable had snapped and he replaced it! Off we went in a paceline, and before we knew it, we were at the second rest stop at mile 47. We shed some clothes and I put on my sunglasses. We were starting to see little breaks in the clouds and I was optimistic that the sun was going to shine on us. The next 30 miles were beautiful. We ride along the beaches and channels and back country roads and the sun was dipping in and out of the clouds. When we got to the third rest stop at mile 70, we were all getting tired. We tried to think of it as 70 miles done instead of 30 miles left, but 30 more miles....... Miles 70-85 were the toughest. It was hard to enjoy the scenery, I think all I saw was my odometer, ticking off 1 mile at a time. At about mile 85 I sucked down a Hammer gel, and that definitely helped. My legs were tired but I didn't seem to mind quite as much. I coasted as much as possible; didn't try to push the big ring to move faster. Even the littlest rise in the road felt like a mountain. The last 5 miles were kinda irrelevant. I knew we were all going to make it, and I just kept pedaling to be done with it and get off the bike. When we finally finished, there were hugs and kisses all around and hamburgers! It took us about 9 hours; yes, the sisters are slow but we are still mighty.

At 5:00 I got in my car and began the long trip home. The other sisters stayed over and are returning today. If I had realized how far it was (about 200 miles!), I probably would have done the same. I did get to sleep in my own bed, although I'm sure I would have slept well almost anywhere. Today my legs are tired, and the back of my neck and shoulders are a bit sore. But it sure feels good to have completed my first century and to be able to share that with the sisterhood of the GOBs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Road Trip

I'm getting ready to drive to Rhode Island for the RI Century. Tomorrow is the day. The GOBs started the season with a bicycling adventure in Northampton MA and we are making this second trip for another bicycling adventure, in pursuit of our first century. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Empty Nest Week 1

On Friday, son #2 was deposited in his dorm at Northeastern University in Boston (Son #1 had taken himself back to school a week earlier). DH and I spent Friday evening with some friends in the Boston area and came home on Saturday evening. We were up early on Sunday for the Golden Apple, our bike club's annual bike touring event. DH was a marshall and I was a Gatorade Barista at one of the food stops. On Monday, I went for my ride with the boys, went food shopping, did some cooking, and had a little BBQ at a friends house. I've been trying to keep myself busy and not spend too much time at home because it feels a little too quiet. Even though I am used to them being gone during the summer, this feels different. It really is bittersweet. On one hand, the freedom from the daily activities of parenting is awesome. And then there is the pride at looking at them as independent young men. But I guess I just plain miss them, too. I want to hear their voices and share stories. I want to help them and protect them, too and it's hard to let go. I know they can help themselves and I can't protect them from all the bumps and bruises that may come their way.

I was putting away some laundry and I came upon a stack of T-shirts that son #2 had stashed away, his own little T-shirt Hall of Fame. One was a shirt he wore when he was about 3 years old, and it came down to his knees. Where has the time gone, it doesn't seem possible that he is now 18 and a freshman in college!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Riding with the Boys

Today was another great day-- temps in the mid 70s, sunny skies (that gave away to clouds in the afternoon). The roads were surprisingly quiet on a holiday morning. It doesn't get much better when you are setting out for a bike ride. Today I rode with 3 guys that I had never met. None of the GOBs showed up, so I rode with the boys. They are all stronger faster riders than me, but they waited for me for the first half of the ride. Then Mark and Paul took off. Charlie stayed with me. He was my GPS.

Charlie's nickname is Action Figure. He had both of his knees replaced about 1.5 years ago, and after the grueling rehab process, he is determined not to smash them or otherwise screw them up on a bike ride. He rides slower than he used to, in lower gears, and never stands on his bike. And, he wears mountain biker protective gear on his legs and elbows. I'm not sure why he wears the elbow gear as well, but when he gets into it, he looks like an action figure with articulated joints. But he is low key and was humming and singing as we rode along.

We rode up and down the hills between Bedford, Titicus Reservoir, and the Salems for 40 miles. It was all good.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tour de Putnam

I returned home from DC on Saturday evening and immediately checked my email to see if the GOBs had plans for the Tour de Putnam. This bike tour through Putnam County has several mileage options. The GOBs had decided on the 50 miler, starting at 7:30. When we all arrived and checked in, Gail had a brilliant idea. The 75 mile ride has an option to bail at 48 miles. The 75 miler is on much nicer roads than the 50 mile route, so we decided on that option. The only downside is that everyone passes you. You are traveling with riders on the 75 and 100 mile routes, who are stronger faster riders needing to move to cover the mileage. But that never bothered me or the other GOBs. In fact, we are used to it. So off we went in the morning fog on our 50ish mile voyage.

We stopped to admire some beautiful gardens.
Gail, Judy, me, Irene.

Billy (a friend of the GOBS) took the photo. He surprised us with his new look. He was too lazy to trim his beard so he shaved it off instead.

We rode up and down many hills, through portions of Fahnstock Park, and along the reservoirs. The sun came out but it never got really hot. We ate watermelon and fig newtons at the rest stops. We had the chance to talk about planning for more bike adventures, soon-to-be-born grandkids, the new Yankee Stadium, and how much Irene can eat on a 50 mile ride. The last few miles were kinda ugly as we made our way back to the park where we started. But there was lunch and some other club members who had returned from their rides. Our ride was 53 miles with about 1900 ft. of elevation. I must admit, I thought it was much hillier than that. But it was a beautiful ride and a great way to spend some time with the GOBs and Billy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Call Mom Now

On Thursday night I went to a wake for my friend’s mom. She was 88 years old and reminded me of my grandmother. Both were thoughtful and vibrant until their final days. A few days before her mom died, when it was obvious that she was going to lose her, my friend told me how she was losing, not only her mother but her best friend. She was really struggling with letting her go and making decisions about her mother’s medical care, but knew in her heart that there was no choice. My mom will turn 80 this fall. She lives in Florida and I live in NY. We usually talk about once a week, sometimes more sometimes less. I think of my mom often, but I don’t call her often enough. It’s me, not her. We have always had a wonderful relationship and though I still have 1 or 2 secrets, I don’t consciously hold back. I just don’t like talking on the telephone. But that’s an incredibly lame excuse for not calling. What about you? Call your mom right now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Extraordinarily Ordinary

I have not been working out or spending much time on my bike since my 100 k ride, mostly because I have been spending more time doing other things. Sons #1 and #2 came home from working at Camp Shohola and I have been spending time with them, and preparing them both to go off to college. The weather has been uncooperative as well, and I have way too much work at work. Here are some observations from my extraordinarily ordinary life.

1. When sons #1 and #2 returned home from camp, they began to spread out until they have taken over the entire house. Their crap, oh I mean belongings cover every surface in virtually every room in the house. The house is a disaster zone. They do not have any of their crap in the master bedroom, they just REMOVE items that belong that they have no business removing. Then DH and I have to wade through all of their belongings looking for items they have attempted to assimilate into their possessions (EXAMPLE: power cord for my Mac).

2. There is not a twin XL sheet in a color other than pink to be found within a 40 mile radius of my home.

3. Young men (ages 18-20) eat enormous amounts of food and generate large quantities of dirty dishes. They also seem unable to turn on the dishwasher when it is full. Instead, they using mixing bowls, plastic utensils and empty yogurt containers to hold and eat the large quantities of food. It's one of those vicious cycles.

4. The Yankees are in 1st place. This is the way the universe is supposed to be arranged. This is normal. The new Yankee Stadium is one of my favorite places in this universe.

5. The hot flashes are ramping up. Now they occur during the day as well as overnight. I seem to be learning to live with this. As long as I am sleeping reasonably well, I think I can deal with it. Haven't gotten my period in 2 months.

6. I find the amount of cleavage on display during these summer months to be astonishing. The other day I was in a doctors office and the mother of a young boy desperately needed a larger shirt! Maybe I am old fashioned, but is that how people dress when they are taking their children to the doctor? (Maybe its the hot flashes talking).

7. My niece lost her job. She did marketing for a real estate company. She thought she would be okay even in this market because she was the only marketing person in the company. She didn't see it coming. Then her air conditioner broke and she got strep throat. Not a good week.

8. Project Runway is back. Yippee!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

100 K

I did it, I rode 62 miles, my first metric century. I did it as a club ride, and 13 people showed up. The riders included Marty, a club veteran, a man in his 70s who loves long rides and knows the roads very well; Kas who never says no and is always willing to help out any way he can; Richard and his 12 year old son, Gabriel. Gabe and I both completed our first metric century. I wanted to get a photo of the 2 of us, but he and his father stopped for an ice cream cone pick-me-up and finished a little bit later than the rest of us.

Our adventure began at 8 am with some significant fog. I knew it would burn off, but fog that thick can be a safety issue. Kas has a good blinkie on his bike and he graciously agreed to ride at the back so cars pulling up would see his blinkie thingy and then see us (gotta get me some blinkies). By 9 am the fog was gone, and the sun was upon us. Most of the ride was shaded, but there were some stretches where we absolutley roasted. It was approaching 90 degrees when we finished. The last few miles were really tough. I really felt all used up. This wasn't an especially hilly ride, but those last few hills, as small as they were, felt like mountains. When we were all done and packed up our bikes and gear, Kas treated me to a Coolata. When I got home, I got all clenaed up and then spent a few hours in front of the TV. I was asleep by 10:00. I don;t know if I could have squeezed out another 40 miles. The idea of a full century is still a bit intimidating..... but it's good to have a goal.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Flat v. Fitted Sheets

I went to a meeting at SUNY Delhi. This was a meeting on a shoestring, so most of us stayed in one of the dorms. No, there were no wild parties. Most of the people in attendance were (and still are) geeks, so I imagine everyone took advantage of the available wireless and then went to sleep. The Delhi residence life folks provided sheets, pillows, blankets and towels, so there was no need to bring that along. I looked at the bed and it brought back a flood of memories. I can't believe how many nights my boyfriend and I shared a bed that size. But I digress....Now, how long does a flat sheet stay on a dorm room mattress once one person lies down on the bed? The answer is 2-5 seconds. As soon as I moved a body part, the sheet was sliding off the mattress. The room was hot and staff people had very loud conversations beneath my window at 6 am. That's when I gave up, got out of bed, put on some workout clothes and headed for the gym. Just about every college has a gym that rivals the best health club, and this one is no exception. Plus the cardio equipment is lined up in front of huge glass windows overlooking the Catskill Mountains. Except it was so foggy this morning that you couldn't see anything. It was like working out in the Twilight Zone. I was hungry by the time I got to breakfast, which was a good thing because that was the best meal the food service served up. The meeting was interesting and the peopl were friendly and I would do it again, but next year I'm bringing a fitted sheet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Wall is NOT a Parking Lot

I was tired and I had a headache, but I went to Masters swim practice anyway. Usually, when I feel crappy, working out does wonders (if I can convince myself to go workout). So yesterday I got into the pool, hoping it would be a positive experience. Well, it wasn't. I had nothing. Zero. Nada. The coach reminded me that the wall is NOT a parking lot. I couldn't swim slow enough to get through 100 yards without hanging on the wall. Uggh. I finally got out and went home. Still had the headache. Oh well, I guess we are all entitled to "off" days. I will try again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

106 Miles, Mud Tracks and a Massage

(For starters, my friend Laurie is doing great. She is still in the hospital, but her surgery was very successful and she is starting to move around. Hopefully she will be coming home soon)

Today was the Harlem Valley Rail Ride, which has evolved into a getaway weekend for DH and me. I rode 106 miles over 2 days, which translates into almost 8 hours on a bike. During that time, I find my mind wandering and going in all directions. Much of the time, those thought are directed at life as a cyclist, past, present and future. But other random thoughts find their way into the mix:

Seems like I am going to have plenty of time to get to know the sweep. I'm faster than the lady in the yellow jersey...... damn, she's bailing, she's getting into the van. If Lance can climb for 6 miles up a mountain, then I can climb over this ridge. Where are those ladies going? Why do I do this? I could live in that house. Wish I knew more about flowers and birds. Who is being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame tomorrow other than Ricky Henderson? I really need to pee. I really need to drink more water. I hope they have Fig Newtons at the rest stops. I like Blue Gatorade. Hmmmm, should I put on my rain vest? Glad I'm not riding 50 miles on a mountain bike. Wow, look at that, sheep! Woodstock was 40 years ago.

When it was all done, and we changed our clothes and packed up the bikes and the gear, I told DH I needed ice cream. We stopped in Amenia NY at a great little ice cream stand and I had a Mud Tracks cone (vanilla ice cream with chocolate pieces and tiny Reeses peanut butter cups. It was awesome. On the way home, DH mentioned that he was supposed to have a massage that evening and I knew that I wanted one too. Luckily Michele the massage therapist had time for 2 massages. After that, I was content to sit in front of the TV. I plan on getting into bed early. I could get used to this.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Prayer for Laurie

On Friday night we had a bookclub meeting. Laurie was a little late and she seemed a bit frazzled when she arrived. We asked her if she was OK and she proceeded to tell us that no, she is not okay. She has a benign brain tumor and is scheduled for neurosurgery on Wednesday morning. Her only symptom is a slight tremor in her left hand. She and her husband were "brought to their knees" after meeting with the surgeon, but have quickly gotten back up in order to deal with reality and all that needs to be done in a short amount of time. Although the doctor is optimistic, she understands the risks. She knows that the best outcome is that her life as she knows it is put on hold for 2 months; the worst is that she never wakes up. One of the remaining tasks for her is writing letters to her 2 sons, 19 and 16 years old, in case she doesn't wake up. We know she is in good hands and that in all likelihood, she will be fine. But I have thought of her often over the last few days, trying to picture her sitting down to write letters to her children because she might die on Wednesday. When we each went our own way on Friday evening, we all had our own thoughts but I am sure we all began we the same basic premise-- you never know, whether it's you or someone you love dearly. So make sure you cherish those people and the time you are together. Tell them how much you love them. And find beauty in everyday that you spend with them. I know Laurie lives her life this way. My prayer is that Laurie's lovelight will shine bright for many more years.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It Was HIS Idea

I got home late last night, starting the day in Syracuse, flying into LaGuardia Airport, driving to the gym, and running 4 miles. DH had already been home for a couple of hours. Our conversation went something like this:

DH: What do you want to do for dinner?
S: I don't know, is there anything in the frig?
DH: Not really....... want to go to Carvel?

We had hot fudge sundaes for dinner.
Yet another example of why I love the man.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Running Within

When I went to bike camp, we talked about "climbing within." You can't follow someone else up the hill, you have to do it yourself, find the gear and the pace that works for you. And sometimes you have to find your inner strength to take you to the top. Today I went running, and for whatever reason, I found the gear and the pace that worked for me and when I decided I was going to run another mile (to make it 4), I found the inner strength to get it done! I find running to be tough, mostly physically but also mentally. But today everything seemed to come together and I felt great. It was still tough, but I didn't seem to mind. I was running within instead of pounding the pavement and running around in circles (I was at the track). I wish I could figure out what came together to create this so I could potentially replicate it, but I think there was probably something that cannot be identified. But here are some of the parameters that did contribute to this experience-
It was about 7 pm, the sky was cloudy and it had cooled down into the 70s.
I was rested; hadn't worked out over the last 4 days.
I wasn't at all hungry (not sure why, I probably should have been).
The iPod-- I let the music take me and it kept me going.

Last week I had a conversation with Dave, someone I don't know very well (at last not yet). Dave loves music. He is single and he remarked that he finds it difficult to meet women who are "into music." I was astonished. I can't imagine not having music in my life. And I certainly can't imagine running without music. This evening the music and the running came together within me and carried me for 4 miles. I may be hurting tomorrow, but it will be worth it.

Monday, July 13, 2009


These are not GOBs in fancy dresses. These are my childhood friends. We grew up together in the Bronx. We're talking 40+ years of friendship. Three of us live fairly close to each other, but we still only manage to get together a few times a year, mostly on special occasions. Friday evening was one of those special occasions--Judy's daughter got married. We had the chance to catch up and eat and drink and dance and celebrate because life is good.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Indoors and Outdoors

On Thursday I didn't feel like hanging around until 7:30 for Masters Swim, so I decided to do something I haven't done in months-- I took a spin class. During the Tour de France, all the spin classes at my gym "mimic" the tour. Thursday's wasn't a mountain stage but it was mostly uphill with sprints on the flats to break away from the peloton. It was fun for a change and I had the opportunity to make some observations.
1. Jacques-- the instructor-- ooh lala! how do you say eye candy in French?
2. I am much more comfortable on my road bike (sweet Dolce, you rock!)than on the spin bike.
3. Riding over 900 miles so far this season has payed off. I was working hard and my heart rate was relatively low. I really had to kick it up 2 or 3 notches to get my heart rate into the strength zone. And as soon as I laid off, my heart rate came down very quickly. Seems I am in good shape, aerobically (then why is swimming 25 yards a killer?).

On Friday I somehow managed to pull this off-- it took some real planning but I didn't forget anything or leave anything behind, so I got it right. I had to get my car inspected, so I threw my bike in the car, dropped off the car, rode to the gym, let my personal trainer beat me up, then I went for a nice ride. Even though I tried to keep it relatively flat, it seems like I did an awful lot of climbing. But if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger. I stopped for a lovely lunch and took some photos along the way. When my car was ready, I made my way back, picked up my car, picked up whatever I had left at the gym, and drove my newly inspected car home. Then I ran a few errands and got ready to go to a wedding! More about that later.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Change

When I saw the gynecologist in March, I had not gotten my period in 3 months, and my symptoms of menopause had increased. She ordered blood work in order to ""see where you're at." She called me a week later to tell me that I was done. Well, she said, "it could happen, but I would be very surprised if you got your period." My symptoms subsided almost immediately after that, and I got my period a few weeks later. Aftr I had mentally gotten over the hurdle of being "old," I got slammed. Now my period won't go away, and my symptoms are escalating again. For a while it was one or the other, now it's both. I really wish my body would make up its mind! It's making me hot and sweaty and tired and grumpy. And I don't like being those things, especially tired and grumpy.But i guess I have to HTFU, because I don't really have a choice, do I?

Sunday, July 05, 2009


The theme for the 3 day weekend was go out for a bike ride, then go to a party. Each day featured a 30ish mile ride and hamburgers and hotdogs, but each event was also unique and had different footprints.

On Friday, I led a club ride named "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough"in honor of the King of Pop. One of my GOBs, Jill, broke her foot 2 months ago and hasn't been able to ride. She's finally back on 2 wheels, but she doesn't have the endurance or the speed that the other GOBs and friends have at this point in the season. But she was determined not to stop until she got enough. She wore herself out but she made it! DH went on a different ride with a few friends, one of whom owns a million dollar home on Winged Foot Golf Club. This is a very exclusive club-- the US Open has been played there many times, most recently in 2006. They have fireworks every year so he had a big BBQ/party for his friends and family and his kids friends. So there was an interesting mix of young and old people wandering through the backyard onto the 10th tee. When it got dark, we walked onto the golf course and watched a great fireworks show. It was really awesome! On a scale of 1-10, 7 for the ride, 6 for the food, and 9 for the party/fireworks. Total of 22 points.

On Saturday I went out for the easy ride, but we were a small group and we were able to ride at a faster pace than advertised. It was a beautiful day, the first really beautiful day in a very long time. You could actually FEEL the sun. In the late afternoon we headed over to GOB Judy's lake house for a potluck BBQ. DH took advantage of the lake to do an open water swim, since he is scheduled for a triathlon next month. I am the designated paddler when he swims. I do NOT let him swim unless accompanied by a boat. He had a crappy swim but we had a lovely time at the party. Ride gets 8 points, 8 for the food, and 8 for the party (really nice people and awesome location) for 24 points.

Sunday was the club's July 4th shindig at the John Jay Heritage Center-- a perfect place to have an event celebrating the birth of our nation! GOB Jill wanted to do the 31 mile C ride but was concerned about not being able to keep up. So I told her it was time to HTFU (Harden the F*&k Up), but I would cut her a little slack by starting a little earlier to get a head start. This turned out to be a perfect strategy. A few other riders joined us on our slower paced journey and I enjoyed the smaller group and the easier pace. It was another beautiful day (that's 2 in a row!). After the rides we had a giant pot luck lunch and BBQ, and the food was fantastic! There were so many different and delicious salads and desserts, and so many people to spend time with-- old members, new members, fast riders, slow riders. The ride gets 8 points, the food gets 9 points (for diversity and deliciousness) and the party gets 9 (for getting over 100 club members in the same place to share a meal and the historic location). So 26 points! and the trophy for the best holiday weekend ride+party.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


I HAD a fairly gnarly scab on my elbow from the road rash I incurred when I fell off my bike on my Hamilton ride. Over th last few days its been getting smaller as little fragments kinda chipped off around the edges. Last night when I got in the pool, the remaining scab got all soft and well, I'm pretty sure I left my scab in the hot tub. Eeeeeeew. I know, it kinda grosses me out too.

Pool Love

I went swimming last night! It's been about 2 months since an inflamed shoulder forced me out of the pool. The doctor told me to take it slow, so I only did about half of the workout, but you have to start somewhere. I really felt like I was starting from scratch. I had to think about everything and it was very difficult to put it together. Breathing, arms, rolling to the air, kicking, timing. And then there's just the sense of not having the ability to kick it up a notch and survive. Right now I have 2 speeds-- slow and really slow. But the good news is that I did not have even the slightest twinge in my shoulder (although I did sense that my right shoulder is not as strong as my left) and it just felt great to be moving through the water. I feel fine this morning. My shoulders and arms aren't sore but I do feel like I did something last night. My back is a little sore, all those little core muscles are waking up. More pool love scheduled for tomorrow.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tour de Ulster

Yesterday DH and I and our friend Mary rode the Tour de Ulster. This tour started in Kingston and wandered through various towns in Ulster county. What a beautiful ride on a surprisingly beautiful day. As in finally a day in June with NO RAIN. Mary is an outstanding cyclist and athlete but she hasn't ridden much this season, so she was happy to slow down to my pace. And DH was hoping to meet me in the middle. He agreed to ride at my pace but was hoping he could gently push me to a slightly faster pace (he was only moderately successful). Between my beautiful slowness over a 51 mile route and Mary's flat, we were not quite the last people to finish up. This was not a problem at all, because we really enjoyed being out there, being with each other and rolling along. DH and I rarely ride together, and I really enjoyed having him with me but not pushing me. The only downside--by the time we finished, all the food was gone. I was really hoping for a hamburger after riding 51 miles. I did eat a banana and 3 Fig Newtons at the 30 mile rest stop, but I was really looking forward to a hamburger. So guess what, DH bought me a hamburger at the diner. Now you know why I love the man!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I’m in Hamilton NY for a meeting. This is the third year that I have come to this meeting and the third time I came a day early and brought my bike. And each year I have ventured on longer and more difficult rides. Hamilton is surrounded by hills on three sides. You can ride south without hitting difficult terrain. As soon as you go east or west, you start climbing. Today I challenged myself with a ride that includes east-west roads. This ride was challenging for many reasons: 35 miles, challenging terrain, a route I have never ridden, and riding solo.

My DH will often go out and ride 40 miles by himself, no problem. I find riding solo to be mentally challenging. Part of it is purely a gender thing. A woman traveling by herself (especially a 110 pounder) is an easy target for a wacko. Part of it is not having the backup inherent in a club ride. Even though I can take care of myself and my bike, I still worry about finding myself in more trouble than I can handle. And during my ride today, that was made clear when I took a fall. Nothing worse than a little road rash and a dropped chain, but I can’t help but think, “what if.” But the biggest part is just that riding up and down hills for 35 miles is hard work and its hard to find the motivation to get it done when you are alone (at least for me). It would be easy to pick an easy ride or find a reason to cut it short. There’s nobody up front pushing the pace so it’s easy to “lollygag.” Who would know? Just me.

In the end, what a beautiful day and a beautiful ride. The roads (which are in great shape) wind through beautiful farming communities. I even saw some Amish farmers. The blue sky was punctuated with big puffy clouds. Did I mention the wind, which was always a headwind, and the never-ending hills, and the stealth dogs? It was a challenge, but I got it done. And then I had pizza and a Dr.Pepper, the perfect ending to a perfect day.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Goodbye from Dr. S, a Flat Ride and Falafel

I had a follow-up visit with Dr. S today for my inflamed shoulder. It took 5 minutes.
"How are you feeling."
"Great, like a new woman."
"Any pain?"

I then went through a series of movements so he could evaluate the range of motion in my shoulder. His response was very simple. "Goodbye."

No limitations, just to take it slow and gradually build up strength and endurance.

So today I did a strength workout involving lifting weight overhead. Yay! Then I went for a flat ride with a friend who is just getting started on her cycling career. After our 15 mile ride, we tried this hole-in-the-wall Mediterranean type restuarant and had the best falafel. Best of all, it did not rain today.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


The bike club has a tradition of long rides on the longest days of the year. Today is still a week short of the summer solstice, but today's schedule of rides included a double century, a 300k ride, a 1.5 century and a regular century. It would seem that today was the day to declare "I am not a weenie" and push up the mileage. And so I rose to the challenge with a 50 mile ride. If you don't live in the northeast than you don't know that we have had about 6 inches of rain in the last 30 days. It seems like it has been raining every day. So no surprise, it was raining all night, and at 7 am, it was drippy and dreary. But the forecast was for clearing skies, so off I went. To make a long story short, 4 of us rode the flat fast fifty. Except it was fairly flat (as flat as you're gonna get around these parts), kinda slow (12 mph) and forty eight (close enough to count as a half century). We rode in a light rain for the first hour, but then it started to clear and we ended with beautiful sunny skies. We had a lovely lunch along the way and overall, it was a great ride.

On Friday evening I rode 18 miles and yesterday I rode a tough 34 miles, so this was a 100 mile weekend. I know, I totally rock.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My Back Door

On Wednesdays I usually work a half day. Sometimes I get stuck at work but today I made it a point to be on the 1:50 train. In the late afternoon, I opened my back door and headed out for a ride. It wasn't a very nice day; damp, cool, dreary, but at least it wasn't raining. So off I went. DH and I both feel lucky to live in a place where we can just open the back door and go for a ride or a run or a walk. The roads are scenic and not overly congested. We can ride 11 miles or 40 miles (or 111 if we really wanted to). Although we can't ride flat roads, we can make it more or less challenging by adding or deleting significant climbs. We often build a ride on the fly, making decisions when we get to the turn. Today as I headed out DH asked me where I was going and i said "I don't know" because I really didn't know. I can ride along the reservoirs and over the dam, or north on the bike path to Starbucks or the bagel shop. I can ride along the river and look for hawks and herons. Today I rode 16 miles, much of it along the reservoirs. I dialed back the hills a bit, but made sure to include my favorite roller coaster road. I was feeling a bit like the weather, dreary, before I left, and I almost found an excuse not to go. But I got my act together and headed out my back door, and I'm glad I did!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

It IS About the Bike

This morning, the 5 GOBs plus David met up at 8 am to practice riding in a paceline. It was more difficult than on the flatter less traveled roads of western MA. It was at times a little scary pulling off the lead on Rt. 100, with cars whizzing by. But we stuck with it as best we could and it definitely made a difference. Today was a beautiful day and after taking care of a few errands, I really wanted to get outside again. So I went over to the bike path and rode another 20 (flat) miles.

The odometer on my bike computer reads 625. Not too shabby, considering most of the miles came in 25-30 mile increments. It made me realize that this is what I am about this season. Perhaps it is partly because of getting forced out of the pool by my inflamed shoulder. I do plan to resume swimming as soon as I am able, but I don't miss the running. Well, maybe I miss running a little, but I can easily live without "cranky knee syndrome." I can think about triathlons again next winter. But not this season. I am planning on leading a slow paced metric century in August and I am signed up to ride the Rhode Island Century in September-- advertised as the flattest century in the east. So for June, I have to think about longer rides, because for 2009, it IS about the bike.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

All Good

Today the club had a "tailgate party." All the rides started at the same location and when we all rolled in, we pulled out all the food. No grills are permitted, so people prepared assorted salads and desserts and other goodies. The vegetarians in the group were very happy, since there were very few dishes with meat. One person lives very near the park, so she stopped at home to heat up the scallop empanadas! That's pretty serious tailgating!

I went on the C ride and we were a large group, so I decided I would hang in the back to make sure everyone was OK (I guess I volunteered to be the sweep). Sure enough, about 3 miles out, the guy in front of me got a flat and he didn't know how to change it. No problem! One of the skills I had practiced last week at bike camp was changing flats. I stepped up and got it done. I actaully got it done twice because the first tube wouldn't hold air. By the time we caught up to the rest of the ride, they were on their way back, so my ride was a little short (27 v. 31 miles) but I felt strong (I must admit it was not a particularly challenging ride).

When I got home, it was obvious that someone on the street was having a party. My neighbor is having a birthday party for one of her daughters and they have a slip n slide set up on their front lawn. This is becoming an annual event. Last year the slip n slide was relatively small. This year he covered the entire lawn with it. There are about 30 kids having the best time. They are non-stop sliders!. I love seeing active kids. There are way too many fat kids who never get outside and never move their bodies. Seeing these kids having so much fun and being physically active makes me happy.

Now a shower and then I will start to prepare dinner for my family-- all 4 of us. Son #1 is home from college for another week, before he and son #2 both head off to their jobs at Camp Shohola. And then it's the empty nest. So I am trying to enjoy the time we have together.

All good, it's a beautiful Saturday in my part of the universe.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Learning to Love the Pace Line

I went up to Northampton, MA to go to bike camp with 3 other GOBs (girls on bikes). It was a 3 day experience on some of the most beautiful back country roads I've ever had the opportunity to explore on a bike. On Friday, we talked about and "practiced" some techniques and skills, such as ascending and descending, generating power through the entire pedal stroke (think round pedal strokes), counter-steering, and riding on rough pavement. On Saturday we learned how to ride in a pace line with rotations. It was amazing! First we experimented by moving closer and further and lateral to the lead rider to feel the draft. Then we rode in one long pace line, then we started rotations, dropping off the front and taking turns leading with a nice headwind. Before long we were working as a group and cruising down the road with less effort and more speed. It was really incredible to experience the pull of the draft and how to make it work for you. It is easy to understand how a group of riders can work together especially on longer rides (like the RI Century we are planning on in Septmeber). It was a fun 3 days. We learned new skills, rode about 100 miles, ate good food, and had many good laughs. Gotta love me some GOBs.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Good Luck Katie

My friend Katie has become a randonnuese. What is a randonnuese, you ask? A randonnuese is a woman who goes on randonne`e. And what is a randonne`e? A randonne`e is a long distance cycling event. It is not a race, although there are time limits. It is about finding your competitive spirit and self-sufficiency to compete against the clock, the weather and a challenging route. Unlike endurance cycling races, randonne’e events (which are called brevet) have limited support. You may receive support at the checkpoints, but not in between. You can buy food, supplies, and even repairs along the route, but you may not have a crew helping you between checkpoints.

This weekend, Katie is attempting to become a super-randonnuese, which is the title given to women who complete a sequence of 200, 300, 400 and 600k brevets in a single season. She has completed the 200, 300, and 400 k brevets. This weekend is the eastern PA 600k. That’s 374 miles, with 26,000 ft of climbing. They start at about 4 am on Saturday, ride 400k, sleep a few hours, then ride 200k on Sunday. And what do you get upon becoming a super-randonneuse? Bling, a very pretty medal. But we all know it’s not about bringing home the bling.

Good luck Katie! And Victor! Who will become a super-randonnuer. And I promise, wimp that I am, that I will never complain about the rigors of completing a metric century, a mere 62 miles. I’m just going to do it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Time Flies When You're Battling Inflammation

Wow, has it really been 6 weeks since I've posted anything! It was about 6 weeks ago that I started having pain and discomfort in my right shoulder and arm. It became more of an issue when I was swimming, so I decided I needed to take a break and rest my shoulder. That's when it actually got MUCH worse, to the point where I could not straighten my arm without significant pain. I couldn't even ride my bike because I couldn't adequately shift or use the breaks. I went to see my doctor who prescribed an anti-inflammatory med and did some bloodwork to rule out autoimmune/inflammatory disease. Happily, the pain started to subside about 1 hour after taking the first pill. After 5 or 6 days I was back where I started, with pain and discomfort, not very severe but fairly constant and fear of getting back in the pool. After a few more weeks of total rest it was very clear that total rest was not the solution, so today I saw the orthopod. The diagnosis is calcific burstitis and the treatment is a cortisone injection. Injection? Like big needle...... in my shoulder? Now? I am such a sissy when it comes to needles. Luckily, I didn't really have time to think about it. I asked a few questions, the nurse cleaned up my shoulder and then it was done! Now I have to rest my arm/shoulder for another 3 weeks, so no weight lifting or swimming (he said that twice and the second time he added "definitely" no swimming). So I have a 3 week prescription for dialing it back. I have been on my bike and I will continue to ride and that's all good. Now I am kicking myself for not going to see an orthopedist sooner. But hopefully in 3 weeks I will be on my way to a recovery and back in the pool.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

JGOB and Friends

I ride with a core group of 6 or 7 women. We have been known as “The Ladies of C” (we are C level riders, as in A through D) and more recently simply GOBs (Girls on Bikes). Today, Easter Sunday, I thought we would be the JGOBs – Jewish Girls on Bikes. But in fact 15 men and women of diverse religious backgrounds (as least that is my assumption because I certainly didn’t ask) showed up, including 2 other JGOBs. This was a surprise because at 10 am, the temp was 40 at most and a cold steady wind was blowing (it was warmer in Juneau Alaska). We were dressed in varying degrees of winter gear. As we headed north on Rt. 22 with a fierce headwind, I thought to myself, “if we have to battle this for 34 miles, I am dead meat.” And indeed I am dead meat. The ride was pretty hilly especially the first half and the winds picked up on the return. At certain points I had to pedal going downhill to keep moving and on the flats so I wouldn’t get blown backward. This was the most difficult ride I have done yet this season. I had to go to that place within me to find my inner beast, something to keep me moving forward. The title of this ride was “If I Should Fall Behind,” (Bruce Springsteen song) which was a very apt description, as the JGOBs stuck together in the back. But at one point I thought the title should have been Give Me Novocaine. But we did it. Mighty GOBs, Fierce GOBS, Beautiful GOBs, GOBs Who Get the Job Done, Slow and Steady GOBs, GOB Goddesses, The GOB Force. I think we need GOB jerseys.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

The Medicine Ball

I'm moving slow today, all because of a 6 pound medicine ball. After spin class and an upper body workout yesterday, I took the medicine ball down to the gym and did wall ball squats and wall slams. Wasn't really counting or anything, just doing something different since I had to workout indoors. I spent more time watching the kids on the other side of the gym play dodgeball, wishing I could play too. Well, today I am surprisingly sore in my lower back and glutes. There sure are alot of muscles in the human body, and I guess its easy not to use them. And all it took to rediscover them was a ball and a wall. It made me realize you really have to work at the total body thing, cross train, mix it up. And every once in a while, you have to suffer through a day or two of some really sore muscles that you rediscover.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bike Camp

I’m going to Bike Camp with some other GOBs (Girls on Bikes). It’s a 3 day program in Northampton MA for improving the riding skills of intermediate cyclists. You ride for 3 or 4 hours in the morning, have lunch, spend the afternoon doing other things (shopping), regroup for dinner and then a classroom lecture on certain skills. Then you fall sound asleep in your hotel bed. If nothing else, you spend 3 days riding in a really beautiful part of Massachusetts with some really nice people, make a few new friends perhaps, eat some good food, and pick up a few pointers. Or, you spend 3 days learning to suck it up as you climb mountains and find your inner beast to be released when you return home with quads of steel.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Psycho Bike Computer

At the beginning of the month, I took the battery out of my bike computer to set the odometer back to ZERO for the new season. I rode about 25 miles. But the next week when I went to put my bike in the car, I noticed that I had over 3,000 miles on the odometer! WTF? Well, maybe my bike, Dolce, is having a relationship with DH's bike, Isaac, and her wheels are spinning all night long every night! Or maybe there was a spike in the time space continuum. So I pulled out the battery and reset the odometer again. This time I didn't put the computer back on the bike and kept it in the house. This time the bike computer only rode 1900 miles. Okay, time to consult with the bike shop dudes. The only thing they could suggest was to change the batteries. So I did that and psycho still rode 3899 miles, at an average speed of 28 mph. Now I am forced to conclude that the bike computer is terminally demented. So today psycho bike computer was replaced. There's just so much we GOBs (Girls on Bikes) can take! Don't mess with my equipment.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I LOVE the feeling of spring emerging. I have been on my bike (155 miles in March!!!). I went hiking. I took pictures of my son playing baseball. I love seeing color at the very tippy top of the trees. I love hearing the frogs singing whenever I ride past a pond. I love sweating when I am wearing 2 or 3 layers of clothes to stay warm. I love knowing I have the spring and the summer ahead of me. I love being back with the GOB (Girls on Bikes). LOVE LOVE LOVE.

I have been trying to visualize how I want to look and perform when I am swimming. I see myself in the pool as if I am the coach standing on the pool deck. I see my long powerful strokes, my rotation, my head down, my breathing linked to my arms, and an easy flutter kick. And I think it is helping me swim better.

Speaking of swimming….. have you ever tried to swim with a large rubber band around your legs, just below your knees? Neither had I, until last week. And quite frankly, I hope I never have to do it again! The only way to move across the pool is to turn your arms really fast, keep your head down so you feel like you are swimming underwater, and rotate until you are almost doing the backstroke. After this one, my arms were sore for 2 days.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big Fat Junkanoo Metric Century

One of my goals for this cycling season is to ride my first metric century (that’s 100k or 62 miles). This is actually taking precedence over triathlons. I am still committed to swimming with the Masters Team and I try to run a few miles once a week, but more than anything, I want to be on my bike. I felt it 2 weeks ago when the temperature shot up into the 60s and I went out for my first ride. I felt it this past weekend when I was ready to ride on a morning when the temp was only 27! Luckily we deferred until the day morphed into a totally beautiful afternoon. And I felt it the following day when I rode with my cycling friends, as we all struggled to conquer the hills on a 20 mile ride. So I am starting to put a plan into place to accomplish this goal. First, I am recruiting other club members who want to join me, other slowpokes, who may or may not have ridden a metric century. If I’m going to be spending more time on my bike, going out for longer rides, I would like some company. I expect there are quite a few club members who are in the same place. They would like to get stronger and welcome a challenge, but a full century is just too much (unless it is really flat), and they lack the speed to go on longer club rides (because the longer rides are typically faster as well). But you have to be willing to commit the time. Going out for a 35-40 mile ride when you only ride 12 mph is gonna suck up a good piece of your day. We can obviously support each other and hopefully share the responsibility for leading rides. I don’t mind being the “organizer,” but I don’t want to be the person making all the decisions about where, when and how much to ride. Second, I have started to put together a schedule of rides that work towards this goal. There are already some club rides that are a little bit longer than usual, and some events that present opportunities.

I guess I have spring fever! I’m not sure how long this heightened motivation will last, so I might as well use it to create a plan to achieve this goal. Tapping into the power of community and making a commitment to myself and my community of slowpokes; it’s the Big Fat Junkanoo working its magic.