Sunday, December 28, 2008

Still the same old me



(photos courtesy of Amazon.com!)

Ever since I can remember, I have always received several animal-related books for Christmas. I've received general biology-related books, horse books (LOTS!), cat and dog books, breed-specific books, etc. The books that stick with me are the ones that celebrate the special bonds that develop between humans and animals. It has been what has drawn me to my career (a veterinary technician) and never fails to touch me deeply.

This year is no different as I received the above books from members of my boyfriend's family. The interesting thing to me is that I didn't need to ask for these books, they intuitively knew that I would no doubt enjoy them. That's how deeply I celebrate my love for animals.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some reading to do!

Friday, December 19, 2008

6th Photo Challenge

Another fun thing to do ~ the 6th Photo Challenge.

Here is how it works:
Check your Photo Archives (or wherever you store your images) then select the 6th folder, open it and post the 6th picture contained there, with the story behind it.

Here is my "6th " photo:

There's not too much of a story behind this. This "wreath" was created by my boyfriend and reflects our love of bicycles. I keep thinking someday I'll find some lights on sale after Christmas, but in reality, the simplicity of this wreath is what makes me love it so much.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"Closest Book Quote"

Here's a fun, quick little thing to do...
"closest book quote" game
my book quote:
 The only true cure for DOMS is time and prevention.
from "Weight Training for Cyclists by Eric Schmitz and Ken Doyle; VeloPress
DOMS is an acronym for "Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness"
How to play:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note in your BLOG.
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual... Use the CLOSEST.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

World Diabetes Day

I’d like to bring some attention to awareness of diabetes and the events being planned for “World Diabetes Day”. I know most people choose to support research geared to diseases which have afflicted their loved ones and I am no different. There are several people whom I am close to who deal with this disease on a daily basis. Through them, I have become much more aware of the long-term damage that diabetes can do to a body. I’ve also become aware that these side-effects can be greatly minimized by keeping tight control of blood glucose levels. Strict blood glucose control generally requires a combination of nutritional diligence and a regular exercise regimen.

As a result of my interest in both diabetes and professional cycling, I have been following a team of cyclists whose goal is to be included in the Tour de France in the near future. Four of the fifteen cyclists on the team are diabetic and it has been fascinating to follow their season on the team blog and see details of how they are using the latest technology to help them maintain their control. I believe non-athletic diabetics can use their success as a motivational factor to start a fitness or exercise program.

Friday, October 24, 2008

B-Fit B-Day Challenge



40 years old 10/23/08!
(Almost) Gold Challenge



10 mile run time =
swim time (unknown distance) =
40.54 mile bike time =
Total run/swim/bike time =
Start –
Finish –
Total time with transitions =
The beginning of my challenge day was bright, clear and cold. I am fortunate that I had an extra couple of day’s vacation from work, so I took two days off (one to complete the challenge, the other to rest up!) My co-workers weren’t shy about voicing their opinions that they thought I was nuts to want to spend my birthday running, biking and swimming.
My initial plan had been to ride first, and then swim, then run. That changed when I realized the temperature had dropped to 23°F overnight. Since the pool was only open for 70 minutes in the morning (vs. 2 hours in the afternoon), I knew I wanted to swim starting at . Thus, I decided to run my 10 miles first. After a couple of documentation photos, I was out the door.
What a chance for reflection. Perfectly dressed, I marveled at how effortlessly my steps were coming. Running is usually my least-favorite discipline, followed by swimming. Bicycling is my favorite of all. I found myself thinking of all the things I have to be thankful for, especially good health. And by maintaining a regular workout routine, I hope to be able to keep my fitness and to compete in triathlons for many, many years to come. Too soon, it seemed, my run was over and I was back home and definitely hungry!! After another couple of photos, it was time for a snack of toast with peanut butter. Since I had about an hour before I had to leave to get to the pool, I took advantage of the time to get my clothes set aside for the afternoon’s bike ride, fill water bottles and pump up my tires.
I took the “standard” B-Fit B-Day swim photo at home for two reasons. First, cameras are not allowed at the pool. Second, even if I sneaked my camera in and took a quick shot, I had no way of keeping it secure while I was swimming. I guess you’ll have to take my word on the swimming portion! And this leads me to the (almost) gold part. I don’t know how far I swam. It wasn’t even close to 4000 yards. I started counting laps and lost count three times before 10 laps, so I stopped counting. I then decided I would swim for the entire time the pool was open, 2 hours. After an hour, I was terribly bored and not really having a lot of fun. After and hour and a half, I decided that life was too short to make myself swim just for the sake of the complete challenge. The younger, “all-or-nothing” me would have canned the whole thing right then and given up on the bike ride. Now (being older and wiser!) I decided that the spirit of the challenge was to get out and do something, even if it wasn’t the “whole” challenge. As for total distance, I believe I probably swam about 2600 yards, based on time. Given that my longest swim previously had been about 1000 yards, I was very happy with my accomplishment. Besides, it gives me something to shoot for next year!
I returned home ravenous and took the time to dry my hair and re-heat some leftovers before my bike ride. At this point, I was starting to get worried about making sure I got out on the bike quickly. I dressed in several layers, took another batch of photos and was off.
Oh my! I had desperately underestimated the difficulty of this challenge. My legs definitely felt like lead. I can honestly say that yesterday’s bike ride was one of the three toughest in my life. Being that I hadn’t mapped out a precise 40-mile route, I made route decisions based on how I felt. I avoided as many hills as I could. By mile 18, I was already averaging about 3-4 mph slower that my usual rides and I was starting to get really cold. I was afraid that if I looped back towards the house, I’d abandon the challenge. So I chose a route that avoided any chance of a short-cut back to the house and committed myself to the full 40 miles. At approximately 26 miles, I was afraid that my planned route would fall short of the 40 miles and I very nearly chose a loop around a small reservoir that would have added about 6 miles. Thankfully, I continued as planned, figuring I could always extend the ride later if I needed to. Imagine my delight when I pulled into my driveway and my odometer read 40.54 miles! Originally, I had thought that I would have gladly put an extra few miles onto the bike ride, but I was more than ready to call it quits for the day.
I took one last photo of my ending time. Being easily amused, I got a big kick that I snapped the last photo at . I guess “4” will be my lucky number this year!! After a long hot shower, I refueled with a piping hot bowl of soup and thought about how I wanted to do my write-up. When I sat down at the computer the following morning, I couldn’t help but think that I would rather be out running or biking!
In closing, I’d like to say “thank-you” to Roman for creating the challenge and thanks to the sponsors who support us. Lastly, I’d like to extend huge congratulations to everybody who did the challenge this year and lots of inspiration to anybody who considers taking on the challenge for next year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Justice?

Yesterday morning, on my way to work, I was passed by a vehicle traveling very fast. A couple of miles up the road, this vehicle hit a dog. I was just a couple of hundred feet behind the accident. I immediately slowed down and that vehicle pulled over to the shoulder of the road. I continued slowly, debating whether I should go back and try to help. As I was turning around to go back, the vehicle pulled away from the shoulder and drove off. As far as I could tell, the driver didn’t take the time to even go check on the dog. When I arrived back at the dog, she was definitely deceased, but I had to wait for many, many vehicles to pass by before I could get her body off the road. I rang the doorbell of the nearest house, but nobody answered and since I had to get to work, I left without doing anything further. Not until I was 5-6 miles down the road did I think that I should have checked for a collar or tags. Further, not until this time did I remember that I have a cell phone! Of course, though, I couldn’t remember the non-emergency number and I didn’t want to call 9-1-1 for a non-emergency. So I continued into work and called the police department from work. They did say that they had received a couple of other calls and an officer had already gone to get ID on the dog and that the owner’s had been contacted. I gave them a description of the vehicle, but it wasn’t enough for them to do anything with. By the time I passed through on my way home, the dog’s body was gone; I hope the owner’s were able to get some closure.

Now this morning on my way to work, you can be sure my eyes were peeled for this vehicle. It was unique enough that I figured I could pick it out if I saw it again, plus I knew that the license plate began with a “B”. Sure enough, as I approached a stop light at the end of the road, I pulled up behind a vehicle which matched and which had a license plate beginning with “B”. So again, I called the police department when I got into work. I spoke with an officer who said he’d follow up on the case. I’m not sure what can be done after 24 hours, especially since we can’t be absolutely sure that it’s the same vehicle, let alone the same driver. In my own mind though, I would hope that if the person receives a phone call from the police, maybe they’ll realize that at least they should have gone back to check on the dog. How can people hit an animal and drive off?!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Excitement

I finally feel as if I might be able to make some progress towards correcting my poor eating habits. My company is partnering with a local fitness club to promote the “Strength For Life” fitness program. It is based on the book of the same name, written by Shawn Phillips. We have had two meetings to introduce us to the theories of the program. While I admit that I do not fully agree with the nutritional recommendations for the first twelve days of the program, I will commit to those requirements for the twelve days. Who knows? They may make a believer out of me. My main concerns – no dairy or bread (even whole wheat). I guess I will be filling up on salads! This will be the first time that I’ve followed a structured exercise and nutrition program, so I’m not sure how I’ll fare. Once past the twelve-day “base camp”, the exercise regimen will consist of weight training, which I’ve never done before. Much like the credit card challenge, I have my doubts; but since the credit card challenge opened my eyes to new behaviors, I’m hopeful that this program will do the same for me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tri-Day!

Cazenovia Triathlon

Sunday 8/10/08

I had been looking forward to this triathlon since the start of the summer, however, life turned pretty hectic and I wasn’t able to be as consistent with my workout and sleep schedule as I’d wanted to be. Oh well, life happens! Since the start is just a couple of miles from my house, I had planned on bicycling to the park. And typically, I prefer to arrive at the venue with at least two hours to spare (crazy, I know…pity poor Janet who frequently carpools with me!) However, upon crawling out of bed, I was immediately conscious of the very relentless rain coming down. I scratched the idea of arriving early and savored breakfast and coffee, even took a few minutes to check the weather forecast. The radar showed that the rain had already moved off to the east and with nothing behind it, I figured we might have a decent day. Having tortured my long-suffering boyfriend (Dave) with my tri-day exuberance (he’s not a morning person!) and since the rain had stopped, I decided I’d better get going. On my way past fellow cyclist Kate’s house, I noticed her car was open and she was loading her stuff for her trip to Auburn to compete in the Great Race. Forgetting that it was still early, I hollered out “Happy Tri-Day!” Pity her poor neighbors (anyone sensing a theme here…?) Sometimes my enthusiasm just can’t be contained. I did look pretty unprepared for a triathlon; since it was wet and rainy I had street clothes and a rain jacket over my tri outfit. I must have been a sight pedaling through Cazenovia! Kate snapped a quick picture, we exchanged wishes of luck and we were both off.

Registration, chip pick-up, body marking and transition set-up all went very smoothly. I had a bit of trouble deciding what time I wanted to put on my wet suit, as transition closed at 8:00 when the Olympic-distance athletes started. That left me with 45 minutes before my start. Ultimately, the weather dictated that I put it on earlier than later, because I was starting to get cold. I did manage to get a glimpse of Janet running from the swim finish to transition…she had a fantastic swim time and really hustled up the hill to transition. That would be the last I saw of her until the finish! Finally it was time for the first of the sprint waves. Wisely, I had seeded myself in the fourth and final wave. I spent the last few minutes conversing with two other women who were very nervous about the swim. One, doing her first ever tri, started sobbing a couple of minutes before we started. The support displayed from all the other women was very moving and once again, I felt tremendous pride in being involved in an incredible group of people.

The swim pace started fast and I rather surprisingly found myself sticking pretty well to the pace and feeling almost comfortable to boot. I settled into a somewhat steady rhythm and tried to maintain that pace. When I finally had the presence of mind to look for the first buoy, I realized I had strayed quite a bit into the center of the course. I corrected, slowed down and did fairy well for the rest of the swim. I sure wasn’t able to run up the hill to transition nearly as fast as Janet, though!

T-1. Well, what could go wrong, did go wrong. My wet suit caught on both arms and both legs, my socks didn’t want to go on my feet, I had trouble getting my bike off the rack and to top it off, I was a couple of paces away from my spot when I realized I forgot my race belt with my number. I had to set my bike down and go back for the belt. What fun.

Here’s what I look like when I’m trying to quell those evil voices that keep nagging me when I’m not doing so well. I was just thankful that the swim and T-1 was over and that I was finally able to get onto my favorite leg. In case you’re wondering, this bike course starts on a fiendishly steep hill out of the parking lot and onto the main road. Leaping onto the bike in traditional tri style is pretty difficult for most people (though I have witnessed Janet mastering it!) and impossible for me. I have to get one foot clipped in before I even think about moving forward. Once onto the main road, it’s mostly down hill or flat; then there’s a 90-degree right turn and you’re climbing another steep hill. To add some excitement, the race organizers offered a hill prime for the fastest time up the hill. Now, I had told myself before the race that I shouldn’t bury myself on the hill prime and I thought I was okay with that decision. Once the timing mats were in sight though, that competitive spirit took over and I was giving it all I had. To my great disappointment, the results of the hill climb were not posted, so I have no idea how I did (I do know that I didn’t win, though). I didn’t feel as good on the bike course as I usually do, but I did have a better swim and run time than last year, so I guess training is paying off and the three events are evening out for me. I purposely held back a little on the bike, hoping for something left for the run, but I don’t really think that strategy worked. I don’t think the time I made up on the run was worth what I spent on the bike leg. Oh well, each race there’s something new to learn!

The good part, though, was that I felt pretty strong on the run; I was even able to crack a smile when I saw Dave on the sideline with the camera! It turns out that I probably held back a little too much on both the run and the bike as I finished feeling better than at any of my previous triathlons. My biking and running could certainly handle the step up to Olympic-distance, but I’m sure my swimming couldn’t; so that will have to wait until next year, as I had originally planned. I will conclude my triathlon season in six weeks at the Finger Lakes triathlon in Canandaigua, NY. I’ve set a goal of 26 minutes or less on that run; lofty but I’m pretty sure I can do it. Now I’m off to go running so I have a chance of reaching that goal!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kids!

Here's one of the cutest video clips I've ever seen, sent to me by my mother. She never could keep me out of the water!

Friday, August 1, 2008

ICE your cell phone

A couple of years ago (maybe longer?), I started receiving e-mail messages about storing emergency contact information under ICE (In Case of Emergency) in one’s cell phone. Being a skeptic of all things delivered via e-mail, I didn’t act on it. I figured “someday” I’d get around to looking it up on Snopes. Today I researched it and it is indeed true that emergency personnel will check your cell phone for contact numbers. I now have the numbers programmed into my cell phone! There are a few things to remember, however. (For a full list of considerations, the Snopes review is here.)

1.) Many people have their phones password protected, so emergency personnel would not be able to access the information.

2.) Due to differences in phones, emergency personnel may not be able to retrieve information stored in a phone they are unfamiliar with (especially true if time is a premium).

3.) Cell phone may become separated from the victim.

4.) Cell phone may be damaged and non-functional.

Thus, Snopes advocates carrying additional means of contact information with you at all times (something I’m very lax about…but I will try to be better!)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Credit card "challenge" update

Back in May, I wrote about a column by Michelle Singletary which quoted statistics regarding credit card usage studies. It indicated that even people who paid off their credit card balances each month spent more on purchases than if they paid cash. I have spent the past two months trying to pay cash for purchases. Here are my observations. First – I’m not used to carrying more than $20 cash!! I found I was extremely nervous being out in public with the amount of cash I needed for weekly purchases (primarily groceries and gasoline). Second, it’s terribly inconvenient for me to get to a bank to withdraw the cash I need (my paychecks are set up for direct-deposit, so no need to go for that anymore!) Third, since I have one of the credit cards where I earn a percentage back with every purchase, I would fork over the cash and mentally calculate how much money I *could* have been accruing. Fourth, since I hate, hate, hate shopping (did I mention I hate it?) budgeting a certain amount of cash is difficult because I tend to save all my shopping and do it in bunches (usually rainy days when I can’t be on the bike!) This means I need oodles of cash on one day and nothing for stretches in between. With all that said, however, I can definitely say that I have enjoyed not having to pay a credit card bill every month. I plan on continuing this experiment for several more months, to see how purchases average out. So far, my cash vs. credit expenses look to be very equal, but it will be interesting to see if there will be a difference long-term. To be continued!

Friday, July 25, 2008

It all works out

I almost didn’t ride my bike into work today as it was cold, damp and dark when I was starting out. However, the afternoon forecast called for 80 degree temperatures and lots of sunshine. I figured I’d regret it this afternoon if I didn’t ride in the morning. So I wore an extra layer and off I went. These days I’m back to starting out with the headlight on as it’s still quite dark when I’m setting off. I was rewarded by one of the most beautiful sunrises of the summer. And of course, my afternoon ride had perfect weather as well. Was it ever worth it!
On a separate, sobering note - I was saddened to see today that Randy Pausch lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. If you haven't listened to his "Last Lecture," here's the link. God called an amazing person to heaven today. RIP, Randy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birth Verse

Amidst all my doubts about committing to the training necessary for the Ironman, a message of faith and hope crosses my path. One of my co-workers mentioned a web site called Birthverse. Here's the blurb from their home page...

BIRTHVERSE consists of 366 verses chosen from the 66 books of the Bible. Each verse correlates the chapter and verse with its month and day. Your birth was appointed by God and has been recorded as your birthday. Our team spent countless hours searching the Bible for the perfect verse for each day of the year. Claim your verse, study it, memorize it and share it with others. But most of all, allow God to reveal Himself to you through your BIRTHVERSE.

Here's my verse -
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
Hebrews 10:23 NIV

Lots for me to think about in the next few months.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ironman Lake Placid

This past weekend was spent in Lake Placid, NY. We were scoping out the Ironman scene. Swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, run 26.2 miles. Talk about a run of emotions for me. During the drive up, I was all gung-ho about sticking with my long-range goal of competing in 2010. At the start of the swim, I was feeling melancholy about whether I really wanted to commit to the hours upon hours of training necessary for me to complete it successfully. While watching the bicyclists come through town after the bike course, I was convinced that yes; this is something I want to shoot for. Then, after four hours of volunteering, we went to the run course where some of the last competitors were still out running. It was 10:00 PM by this time, they had started at 7 AM and they still had about six miles to run to the finish. That was a reality check. That lonely solitude which I must be prepared to endure if this is to become a serious goal. I’m still thinking. I have time to decide. If I can make it through this winter with some serious training under my belt, I will volunteer again in 2009 and register for 2010.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ooh, ooh that smell

Ooh, ooh that smell
Can't you smell that smell? Lynyrd Skynyrd, "That Smell"


My day at the "Mini-Mussel" Triathlon; Seneca Lake State Park, Geneva, NY


Let me start by saying that the Musselman has a lot going for it. It has super organization, great volunteers, and good courses. But that smell! I am not one who is usually bothered by natural odors. I actually like the smell of skunk. I can pick up all sorts of animal waste and not think twice about it. I can ride by a farm where liquid manure has been spread and almost enjoy the odor. It just doesn't bother me (man-made perfume, though - that's a different story!) I had been warned that the smell at this triathlon was pretty objectionable, but I just didn't think it would be that bad. Was I ever wrong. It hit me when I first got out of the car at the park and it didn't go away (of course, we got away from it when we were on the bike course and you didn't notice it when swimming, but still!) There was lots of time spent setting up and waiting so it did get a little tiresome. But enough of the bad and on with the good!

My good friend Janet (who is mostly responsible for getting me into triathlons), had participated at this venue previously. She decided not to race this year, instead volunteering to help with the running of the race. We were able to carpool together, which made the drive so much more enjoyable for me, considering we left well before daybreak. We drove through substantial fog, but as the morning progressed, the fog started lifting. At one point, as we crested a hill overlooking a valley, I thought the fog below took on the appearance of a lake. Janet (being of Swedish descent) thought it looked like snow. Of course, my camera was stashed in a bag in the trunk, so I wasn't able to snap a photo. I doubt that the effect would have been the same, at least that’s what I’m telling myself to make me feel better!

Janet and I stayed together through registration which was held off site and which went very smoothly. Upon arriving at the park, she departed to fulfill her volunteer duties and I got my gear set up in transition in record time. Once set up, I made my way to the body marking, where Janet was ready with the permanent marker. We were numbered in five places! Janet included some smiley faces along with the numbers and they drew a couple of comments from fellow athletes. It's always good for morale!

I had lots and lots of time to debate with myself whether I wanted to wear my wet suit or not. The lake temperature was reported to be 72 degrees, so I didn't really need it for warmth. It does help with flotation, though, and since I'm not a good swimmer (in fact, I'm a terrible swimmer,) I ultimately decided to wear it. I managed to get a good warm up swim just before the start, something that I need to do to get into the rhythm of breathing and calm my butterflies. Seneca Lake is the second longest of the Finger Lakes (38 miles) but greatest in volume. It is 618 feet deep at its deepest point and has a mean depth of 291 feet. It rarely freezes in the winter. It has waves! Bigger waves than I have ever swum in before. I realized the wet suit was helping me to roll with the waves. I mentally congratulated myself for making a good decision for once.

There was a short pre-race meeting, and then it was time for the first of five waves of swimmers. My wave was the third to start. Once again, I saw Janet as she was helping give a hand to the athletes as we were stepping off the dock into the water. It was good to see her smiling face and her calm demeanor further quelled the uneasiness in my stomach. We quickly waded to deeper water, waited just a couple of minutes and then we were off. Within minutes I had gotten swiped in the face by a wave just as I was breathing in. Uh oh. It was similar to the feeling you have when you get the wind knocked out of you. But I was in the water. I wanted to yell for help from the kayakers, but I couldn’t get any words out of my mouth. I also couldn’t raise my hand, because I was busy treading water to stay afloat. Thankfully, my wet suit helped keep me buoyant enough that I was able to cough and sputter and finally get my breath. The entire episode seemed like an eternity, but probably was 1-2 minutes at most. I was able to get back into the rhythm of swimming and managed to make it out of the water in pretty decent shape. As I was running toward the transition area, I heard Janet running beside me, shouting encouragement and reminding me to remember to drink on the bike leg.

My transition to the bike was uneventful but the first couple of miles of the bike leg were very crowded. The first several miles of the bike course are a gradual climb and we had a pretty stiff headwind to boot. It took a lot of mental effort to keep fighting into the wind, but I hoped the tailwind at the far end of the course would make up for it (it did.) About half-way into the course, we turned west and after another mile or two, crested a hill with a beautiful view overlooking the lake. I felt so completely happy and lucky that I am able to participate in something which brings me tremendous joy. It was about this time that I passed three women standing on the side of the course cheering wildly. They each had on grass skirts and I wondered for a minute if our own VeloBella LiLynn was there. I gave them a good “woo-hooo” as I went by and felt completely stoked!

It seemed I had a pretty clumsy dismount from the bike, probably should practice that a little more. I did hear Janet in the background, again shouting encouragement, but this time I didn’t see her. My transition into running gear went very smoothly and before I knew it I was out on the run course. It was in full sunshine and hot! Did I say hot? I love the heat, but it was hot even by my standards. I had trouble keeping my breathing deep and even. I settled into a pace I figured I could maintain to the end. Lo and behold, I started to feel better and was able to pick up the pace a little for the last mile.

The finish area was lined with spectators for quite a while, which really helped make the last few yards painless. Next thing I knew, I was handed a cowbell with a special mini-mussel finisher paint scheme and a bottle of water, which I desperately needed (even though I had remembered to drink on the bike leg!) Janet and I reconnected and after a short rest, we headed out onto the bike course for a little cool-down lap. We returned with plenty of time to get to the start of the men’s elite race. My biggest disappointment of the day came when I discovered that the battery in my camera was dead. No photos. Oh well, there’s always next year. It was pretty neat to hear the athletes’ accomplishments introduced over the PA as they made their way down the dock into the water. When the start gun went off, my overwhelming impression was astonishment at how fast they swam! As they neared the completion of their swim, we walked to their transition area so we could watch them. Since none of them wore wet suits, and their bike shoes are already clipped into their pedals, all they had to do was throw down their goggles and swim caps, put on their bike helmet and run to the bike mount line. Our original intention was to watch the start of the women’s race and the end of the men’s race, but by this time both Janet and I were feeling pretty tired and we still had to drive home. We made our way back to the car, loaded up our gear and we were on our way.

Did I mention that it was hot? We stopped a few miles down the road at a donut shop where Janet got an iced coffee and I decided on a strawberry-banana smoothie. I had never had a smoothie from this particular chain before. It was awful! I don’t have the most discerning taste buds, but this was on the verge of being un-drinkable. What a disappointment. All-in-all, I was pretty happy with the results - 8th in my age group. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but hey, that's all the more incentive to get out and train!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Busy, busy


Just a short post today...I've really been busy exercising - even did another 10-mile run a week ago on July 4th. It was right here in my town, so I figured I couldn't pass it up. I was really happy with my overall time and the fact that I was able to maintain an even, steady pace. My splits at each mile only differed by 30 seconds. This spurs my hope that I might be able to tackle a marathon someday (but I will need a lot more steady training!) In addition to the running race, the weather here has been beautiful and dry most of the week, enabling me to bike to work four times.

Tomorrow I will compete in my second triathlon of the season, my fifth ever. I haven't competed at this particular venue before, so I have no expectations about my performance. The neat part about this venue is that they run four separate races throughout the weekend, including an Olympic qualifying race for professional triathletes. The start times are staggered so that the amateur athletes will be able to watch the professionals. Talk about inspiration! I can't wait. Hopefully I will be able to get a report written on Sunday and possibly even snap a few photos!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cat Humor

This is a rare, unstructured weekend for me. No races, no planned training, just a day to relax and maybe do a few chores around the house. Since I am usually out of bed by 4:30, I am awake before the dog and the cat. However, this morning I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping in. I managed to sleep until 7:25, at which point my cat was bouncing on the bed trying to wake me up. It reminded me of a video clip that had been sent to me several months ago and which I have attempted to post here. Make sure your audio is turned up and enjoy!

If the above clip doesn't play, you can find the video here at YouTube.

Friday, June 27, 2008

CPR/Automatic Defibrillator Training

Here's my public-service announcement for June. Yes, I know - it's almost July. It's actually good that I'm only a month behind...usually it's more like three or four months. It seems that June 1-7 was National CPR & AED Awareness Week. Thanks to the generosity of my employer, I was able to attend a training session and I am now certified by the American Heart Association to perform emergency CPR. I can also use one of the portable automatic defibrillators should one be available. I had taken the CPR and First Aid training course about 13 years ago and remember that it was two days of instruction! Not anymore. There have been some changes to the technique and it seems like it's much easier to remember now. Total training time was approximately 2 hours, including the defribrillator use. Interestingly, upon reviewing the course with a co-worker, we both commented that we got the impression that even if a bystander isn't sure about the exact "proper" technique for CPR; the underlying message was that it's better to try to do something, rather than nothing. I sure do hope that I never have to use this training, but I am very glad that I have a basic understanding of the technique. I definitely encourage everyone to take this training. Here are just a few facts, taken from the American Heart Association’s web site.

  • About 75 percent to 80 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home, so being trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can mean the difference between life and death for a loved one.
  • Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after cardiac arrest, can double a victim’s chance of survival.
  • CPR helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain and increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective.
  • Approximately 95 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital.
  • Death from sudden cardiac arrest is not inevitable. If more people knew CPR, more lives could be saved.

The course was a combination of video training, instructor training and hands-on training with a manikin. There was no written test, you were simply observed by the instructor to be sure you demonstrated proficiency at the procedure. Quick, easy, painless and quite possibly lifesaving. What could be better?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rhubarb cake

Besides triathlons, one of my biggest passions is cooking and baking - especially baking. Unfortunately, baking leads to eating, so I don’t bake often. When I do, though, I’ll try to post some recipes here. Today, I’ve made a batch of rhubarb cake. This is from a recipe that came from one of my Dad’s aunts. Since my Dad favors pie over cake, my mother didn’t make this cake often, but it was (and still is) one of my favorites. Interestingly enough, before today, I’d only made it myself one other time. That first time that I made it, it came out extremely moist – too moist for my taste, so I have modified the recipe just a bit.

Rhubarb Cake

serves 12

½ C butter or margarine
1 ½ C brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1 C sour or buttermilk
2 ¼ C flour
½ t salt
1 t baking soda
2 C finely chopped rhubarb

Topping:

½ C sugar
1 t cinnamon
½ C chopped nuts

Cream butter, brown sugar, egg, vanilla and buttermilk. Mix flour, salt and baking soda in separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir. Add the rhubarb. Pour into a 9x13” pan. Then combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle over cake batter. Bake at 350° for 35-45 minutes. (The baking time is where I’ve had to do most of the adjustments with this recipe. The original recipe says to bake for 25 – 30 minutes. The first time I made this, I started testing at 30 minutes and it wasn’t done. I left it in for another 5 minutes and it tested done, but it was still pretty gooey in the center of the cake. Today I started testing at 35 minutes, still not done. I ended up leaving it for another 10 minutes, making the total baking time 45 minutes). Now, I do not have a thermometer in my oven, so it *is* possible that my oven temperature is off; however, I have no troubles with other recipes. I suspect the moisture content of the rhubarb plays a significant role in the moistness of the cake.

Since writing this up, I have googled "rhubarb cake" and came up with several almost identical recipes. Hmmmm. So much for this being an old family recipe! Incidentally, they all say to bake at least 45 minutes, some closer to an hour. Just goes to show - I should have googled it first and left it in to bake a little longer.

Rough calorie count = 343 cal

Triathlon Fun!

Saturday 6/21/08

Green Lakes Triathlon; Green Lakes State Park; Fayetteville, NY
(aka Fayetteville Triathlon, Syracuse Triathlon or YMCA Triathlon)

Green Lakes Park is home to a couple of meromictic lakes, which are deep glacial lakes where there is no fall and spring mixing of surface and bottom waters. A wonderful description of the park can be found on the Wikipedia site.

This is where it all began for me one year ago…my first triathlon was here in 2007. I never got around to documenting that first triathlon, but I do remember the terrible time I had during the swim leg. I remember resorting to every stroke, even the doggy paddle, just to maintain some semblance of forward momentum. I was seventh to last coming out of the water that first year! This year I did much better. I settled into a nice rhythm and even had the energy and presence of mind to enjoy the beautiful aquamarine blue water. The lakes are each about 200 feet deep and swimming is usually confined to a shallow beach area. As far as I know this triathlon is the only time that people can swim legally in the deeper portion of the lake. I even managed to get my wet suit off without too much difficulty. All other times I have swum with the suit on, I have struggled to remove it (in my mind I imagine it must be somewhat like having a full-grown octopus clinging to your arms and legs which you must remove before you can hop on your bike). Who wants to bike 12 miles with an octopus clinging to them? Once on the bike, I felt strong on the flats, but a little weaker than usual on the hills. I did get a burst of adrenaline from fellow bicyclist Kate, cheering us on at the top of the steepest climb. Amazing how someone screaming at you can do that! Silly pride!

It was a different story for me on the run, however. Upon starting the run, I was seriously out of breath, even though my heart rate was reasonable, considering my exertion level. Within a few hundred feet of the start of the run, I entered the part of the path where I had hiked with my parents a couple of months previously. This is what it looked like then….

I felt a calm come over me and I just kept telling myself not to worry about staying ahead of the other competitors, just to do my best. I expected to get passed by some men, but deep down I was hoping to stay ahead of the other women. I did end up getting passed by a couple of women, including one from Cazenovia whom I had met at a training clinic. This was her first triathlon and she did terrific! She even had a few words of encouragement for me as she passed by. Somewhere between miles two and three, I was really starting to have trouble maintaining my pace and was starting to really slow down. This also happens to be one of the prettiest views of the lake.

Another runner passed me and again I heard words of encouragement and we commented to each other on the beauty of the lake. Soon enough, I was approaching the finish area and by this time my good friend Janet (who had already finished her race with an awesome time) was there to cheer me on. Again, another burst of adrenaline and I was able to get to the finish.

Janet and I walked around a little bit to cool down and search for Kate, but we never found her. We both considered another dip in the lake to cool off, but realized we needed to get our gear out of the transition area so they could start tearing down the equipment. By the time we loaded our gear into the cars, we were both ravenous and headed over to the picnic area where the volunteers had been preparing tossed salad, hamburgers and hot dogs. Mmmm! There’s nothing like some exercise to work up a hearty appetite.

All in all, I managed to shave almost six minutes off last year’s time, which I was very happy with. I placed 8th out of 22 in my age category and Janet placed 7th out of 12. Most of all, I am inspired to keep steady training and maintain my goal of Ironman Lake Placid in July 2010.

Finally, I’d like to leave with a link to a YouTube video – “The Triathlon Song.” It sums up this wacky lifestyle perfectly. Feels so good when you are done!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tracking physical activity

I am a natural “data” person. I enjoy facts and figures, comparisons and visuals of how I am performing. In past years, I’ve gotten a little too wrapped up in data keeping and have spent so much time documenting my progress that I end up with less time spent exercising (not a significant amount of time, but some nonetheless). Most of my data in past years has been tracked on my own spreadsheets, but for the true triathlete geek, I found “BeginnerTriathlete” to have the best free tracking site. However, if you’re not interested in getting that technical, I also found a couple of sites which encourage simpler tracking (one based on mileage, the other based on time). The "President's Challenge" awards points for virtually any activity you can imagine (mowing your lawn, gardening, baton twirling (!), trampoline, etc, etc) and tracking is done by minutes, so logging is extremely easy. The other site I've become fascinated with is from a researcher at Berkeley who has developed a transcontinental virtual trip across the United States. Each time you enter your mileage, it is added to your total and shows you exactly what you would see if you had been traveling from Yorktown, Virginia to Florence, Oregon. For example, if you ran two miles one day, walked four miles the next, and cycled six miles on the third day, you would see the views at 2, 6, and 12 miles west of Yorktown on days one, two and three. They also provide maps that show your progress. The disadvantage to this site is that they only provide for walking, running and biking mileage. Since I do many other things, it's nice to use the other sites to track progress. However, it is neat to explore the site and see your progress on the maps. I have been tracking my daily mileage since June 4th and I'm already at 176.5 miles, which puts me near Woodridge, VA , just south east of Charlottesville. Pretty cool. Both sites allow you to enter activities retroactively, so you don't have to log on the computer daily. Happy walking!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Handyman vs. squirrels

If you read my post a couple of weeks ago about volunteering at the bike race, you know how disappointed I was when I broke our rain canopy the second time we set it up. A visit to the company’s web site confirmed our suspicions that we couldn’t purchase just one replacement rod, we’d have to purchase the entire framework. So my talented boyfriend ordered a similar-sized steel rod and modified it so that it could take the place of the manufactured support. We opened the framework to full size yesterday afternoon and it worked like a charm!

The other thing he rigged up for me was a fine-mesh wire cage to put around my pot of basil. We don’t have space for much of a garden, but last year I decided to plant some basil in a large pot. It did well, except the squirrels kept getting in the pot and digging it up. I managed to get enough basil for one batch of homemade pesto (my favorite!) before giving up. Against my better judgment (and because I’m an eternal optimist), I decided to plant some more this year. Within a day and a half, the squirrels had uprooted the basil! (Had I been blogging earlier, you would have been privy to our struggles with the squirrels in our attic). Maybe if I ever run out of things to write about, I’ll fill you in. Suffice it to say, I have no love for squirrels. The basil stayed indoors (where I had to protect it from the cat) until he could rig up the basil enclosure. It does look a little funny to have the container of basil completely enclosed in mesh on our front porch. We joked about putting up a sign warning against the “Attack Basil”, but thought the mailman might stop delivering since its right next to the mailbox. So far, it is keeping the squirrels out and most of the basil is doing well. I may lose one plant; it was the one that was dug up the most by the squirrels. Darn things!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Team Hoyt

This has been a "catch-up" day for me. As I move through the house and see things to be done, I do them right then and there rather than wait. Of course, not *everything* gets done, but it is an extremely satisfying feeling of accomplishment (since I have a natural tendency towards procrastination)! I even managed to break away mid-morning and did a 44-mile bike ride. I was especially pleased with myself because I have been eating better (no snacking), so this ride was a legitimate training/fun ride, not perceived "punishment" for having over eaten. Now if I could just maintain that willpower!

One of the subjects I've wanted to write about is a father-son duo who compete in marathons and triathlons. Today's title links to their web page, if you click on "Who are we", it opens their story. My original intent was to summarize their story, but I don’t trust myself to convey it like they can. I've also included a link to their video below. If you get a chance to watch it, I don't think you'll regret it. Their story is so amazing to me and inspires me to try to be the best person I can every day. They are extraordinary. Go Team Hoyt! I hope I can meet you at a race someday. YouTube link here.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Week in review

My previous two entries are postdated, that's how hectic the past few days have been for me, but I felt that each post was significant enough to warrant it's own space. Now, I'd like to touch on a couple of things that came about this week and fill you in on today. First, going back to the finding of the crocodile -- I have decided to name her "Faith". I am going through a period where I am questioning existence and purpose and I cannot shake a feeling of dread over where our society is headed. This is unusual for me, as I am usually an optimist. So, she sits on my desk at work where she reminds me that there's always going to be people who care and hopefully they will outnumber the people who don't care.

As if to shore up that notion, I received a phone call from a good friend yesterday and she invited me to go swimming with her today in one of the local lakes. She's one of those friends where we don't get together very often, but when we do, it's very uplifting. She was my inspiration for doing triathlons and is continuing to be my mentor. She's 11 years my senior, but she can beat me in any triathlon we do! Of course, when we made our plans yesterday, the temperature was in the nineties and it was easy to think about taking a dip in 60 degree water. I was having my doubts as I was driving to the lake this morning, though. But, with wet suits on, we jumped into the lake at 8:30. It was beautiful!! Bright blue sky, perfectly white fluffy clouds and calm waters! We enjoyed about 45 minutes in the water, now it's time to get some work done.

I plan on watching the running of the Belmont Stakes this afternoon, hoping that Big Brown will pull off a Triple Crown win. I think it would be a fitting memorial to Eight Belles, the filly who gave her all in the Kentucky Derby this year. Hopefully all horses will make it around without incident.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cat Clinic Day

After very little sleep from Saturday night (I arrived home from the duathlon at about ), I was up early to get ready to help out at a feral cat spay/neuter clinic. There is a facility about 45 minutes from me where Oneida county residents can bring stray and/or feral cats for free spaying (for the girls), neutering (for the boys) and vaccinations. This is *not* a clinic designed for house pets belonging to people with low incomes. Most of our cats come from one of two situations: some are part of colonies which hang around restaurants, strip malls, etc (usually where there's waste food around a dumpster area). Sometimes these colonies exist without anyone ever knowing they're there, but there are groups of individuals who will monitor the colony and attempt to help, sometimes just by leaving food during the winter. Some people will actually try to help control the population by trapping the cats and bring them to our clinic for surgery, thus breaking the cycle. The other cats we see are usually brought by farmers who are constantly having cats dropped off at their barns. We usually neuter about 30 boys and about 20 girls at each clinic and we hold clinics once a month, except January and February (because it's too cold for the cats to recuperate) and June (because of a lack of volunteers). Most of these cats are very afraid of people and getting them sedated can be quite a challenge. I happen to work in the anesthesia area with the girls. The cats arrive in wire traps, which I can weigh with the cat right in the trap. I then calculate the dose of sedative combined with a pain reliever and give them an injection into their muscle. They sit for about 15 minutes for that to take effect, then I give them a second injection of their main anesthetic. After about another 5-10 minutes, they are completely anesthetized and they leave my station to go to the prep area where they're shaved and scrubbed for surgery. It is labor intensive and sometimes I wonder if we're doing the right thing, but there's a good feeling from knowing that these female cats won't be faced with a lifetime of bearing litter after litter after litter. Our program is not unique; there are many others across the country. Here is a link to an excellent article (with additional links) which explains the benefits of sterilization and releasing, versus euthanizing the cats. And here is a link to our particular program. I wish nobody would have to address this issue -- I wish everybody would spay and neuter their pets and I really wish people wouldn't drop off their unwanted pets in the country. But until that day happens, we try our best to stop the cycle from repeating endlessly.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What an experience!

Yesterday was spent at the Watkins Glen International Speedway for the fourth running of the "Fly By Night" Duathlon. I had stumbled across this race purely by chance in late 2007 while hunting for races to do during the 2008 season. When I went to the event website, it was reported that due to low attendance, the race was not going to be run again. Needless to say, I was very disappointed. However, I returned to the site a few weeks later only to find out that it was indeed going to be run at least one more year. I registered that day. A duathlon is usually performed in a run-bike-run format, but this event included an extra bike and run leg. This made it a run-bike-run-bike-run! Each run segment was 1.75 miles and each bike segment was 10.2 miles. The real draw for me was the chance to ride my bike on the Watkins Glen track. How many people can say that they’ve ridden their bicycles on a motor speedway? I had never been to watch a motor race at “the Glen”, but having grown up just a couple of hours away, I had heard about it. I don’t know the official designation of the track, but it’s not just an oval like what I picture with NASCAR races. It’s twisty, and hilly, too. Here’s an excerpt from the event website regarding the twists, turns and hills of the track……’hammer down the frontstretch into the Ninety, twist, climb and claw your way up through the Esses and onto the backstretch, white-knuckling the brakes as you hit the Inner Loop and navigate the Carousel turn, then drop off the face of the earth into the depths of the turn-heavy Boot. Climb your way out into Turn Ten, regain your senses and make a run for the finish line.’ Now how could I resist that?!

The duathlon was scheduled to start at 6:15 PM, but duathlon participants were encouraged to arrive early to watch the racing of the “Porsche Clash”, races which featured many different models of Porsche’s. I am not a car enthusiast, but I did enjoy watching the drivers negotiate the turns. I walked over to a woman who sitting by herself because I had a few questions regarding the race and we ended up chatting throughout the race (difficult to do, though, because of the roar of the engines).

Soon enough, the Porsche's were done and it was time for us to start warming up and getting ready. I was able to get one lap of the track in before it neared the start time and I realized I had underestimated the difficulty of the bike course. After checking my equipment over in the transition area, I walked to the start of the race. By now the wind had picked up, the temperature had dropped to about 60 degrees and it was sprinkling. While waiting for the race to start, the rain started downpouring! It rained all through my first run (15 minutes) and all of the way through my first bike lap (about 11 minutes) before stopping entirely. By this time everybody was soaked to the bone, but the worst part was that we all had to take the bike laps easier than we would have otherwise because the track was slippery from the rain. Still, it was pretty awesome. I started out at a higher pace than I should have and kind of burned out pretty fast, but when starting my last run, I thought there was a chance I could finish in under two hours. I pushed as hard as I could on that last run - didn't make it in under two hours, but did it in 2 hours, 4 minutes and 15 seconds. Now I have a concrete goal to shoot for next year! My time was good enough for third place in my age group, so I was really pleased with that. After going back to the car, drying off and changing clothes, I made my way over to the tent where there was a post-race gathering. Some hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and a really classy awards ceremony! This was the hardest race I've done to date, but also one of the most exciting. I will probably never forget the feeling of swooping through the turns on the track and feeling so lucky that I've been blessed with the ability to get out and enjoy pushing my body to the limit. (Additional race photos can be found here).

Thursday, May 29, 2008

What *was* that?!

What an interesting commute on my bicycle today! About 5 miles into my ride, while going down a slight grade, something lying by the side of the road caught my eye. From the quick glance that I had, it appeared to be a reptile of some sort. For the record – I had not yet had any coffee! It took me a couple of hundred feet to ponder the situation and I decided it was worth going back to check it out. It was in a swampy area, at the northern end of a small lake, so while riding back to the site I convinced myself that it was possible that it was some sort of reptile. (Remember = no coffee!) As I approached, I could see that it was brownish-green, scaly with a long tail and short, crooked legs. It looked like a crocodile. But this was a 40-degree morning in upstate NY. We don’t have crocs up here. Or so I thought. The more I stood there looking at it, the more I thought it was a crocodile. But it wasn't moving. Brain says to self, 'of course he's not moving, it's too cold for him'. Self argues back, 'this is New York, we don't have crocs up here!' After about 10 seconds, I realized it *was* a crocodile. A rubber toy crocodile! For a brief second, I thought I was so stupid, then I immediately thought of Morning Dove and realized I had to pick him up and bring him with me. So he was tucked into my pocket and given a nice warm ride into work. This afternoon, he rode home tucked into my pocket so that I could get a photograph of him. He'll go back to work with me next week so he can offer encouragement to me throughout the days. I think he's awfully cute and I'll have fun keeping him at work with me. Any thoughts on names are appreciated because I'm pretty lame when it comes to naming things. The connection that blows my mind with this is that Morning Dove posted that she found a prayer CD on Thursday while on her walk with her dog, thought of me, picked it up and brought it home. We each thought of each other when we found our treasures and that has me convinced that the hand of God must have had something to do with this. Here's a photo of my new friend.....

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Credit Card “Challenge”

I am a big fan of Michelle Singletary’s commentary in the Business/Money Management section in the Sunday paper. She was raised on a shoestring budget by her grandmother and has a very sensible approach to money management. I, too, have always been very frugal with my money and really only spend what I really perceive as necessary. Sometimes I’ll splurge, but not often! Since I have been fortunate enough to have avoided running up credit card debt, I do use a “cash-back” card for everyday purchases and pay the balance off each month. Here’s my surprise, though….according to Michelle, consumers who use a credit card (even if they pay the balance off each month) spend more than people who pay cash for purchases. Of course, as I was reading that, my mind was screaming that I didn’t fall into that category. But, she had the figures from a study to back it up. To further prove her point, she issued a challenge for people like me. Simply stop using your card for one month and then compare with previous months to see if you’ve spent less. Now, I don’t know exactly how detailed I’ll keep my records, especially since many expenses are lumped together rather than spread out evenly through the year, but I’m going to try this for the month of June. I’ll keep you posted! The link to this particular column can be found here. I think you may have to register with the Washington Post in order to view the article, though.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

Some interesting things for me this Memorial Day. As some of you may be aware, some of the major search engines (Yahoo, Google, Dogpile, and Ask) change the appearance of their websites for major holidays. I always look forward to seeing what designs the various sites choose to use. This morning when I checked, Yahoo, Ask and Dogpile all had special tributes to commemorate Memorial Day, but Google did not. I'd love to know if anybody else noticed this absence.

However, while taking my afternoon walk with my dog, I noticed the above poppy from the American Legion laying on the side of the road. I do usually try to purchase a poppy, but I had not been in any stores the past few days where I ran into anyone selling them. It made me happy to have found this one! I took the photo for Morning Dove, because she's having to go without photos on her blog.

I had spent the past couple of days visiting my parents - taking walks in the woods, playing with my 5-year old niece, having dinner with extended family, and helping my parents with light chores. It is always like a mini-vacation to spend time at their house. We stay busy, but I come home so relaxed, just from the peace of mind from having spent some time with them. They have recently had solar panels installed on the southern exposure of their house. It is so cool to see their electric meter running backwards on a sunny day!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How I spent a day standing on a street corner….

in rainy, 50 degree F weather! After rushing home and preparing a quick dinner on Saturday night, I hit the sack so I could be well-rested for my big day in downtown Syracuse. The Syracuse Race Weekend continued on Sunday with a criterium. I left the house around 8:00 for a planned 8:30 arrival on-site. I checked in with the marshal coordinator and received an orange vest and flag. I also received a two-way walkie-talkie which would be used for communication, since many of the marshals were about a mile away from the start/finish line. I had brought the pop-up canopy with me, as the weather was supposed to be rainy. While walking to my corner, the sun actually started to peek out and it seemed like it was promising to be a very nice day. I was having an inner debate about whether to put up the canopy or not. Upon arriving at my designated corner, there was nobody around to help me with the canopy anyway, so I figured my decision was made. Shortly, however, a spectator arrived with a camera and she looked like she was going to hang out for a while. I asked if she would mind helping me set up the canopy and she agreed. I made sure to tell her that she would be welcome to use it if it started raining later in the day. Well, somehow we got our signals crossed and she wasn’t raising her corner pole at the same rate that I was raising mine. I heard a “snap” and next thing I knew, an edge support was broken. About this time, one of the racers from our club was arriving and he helped me get the canopy set up the rest of the way. I will have to check out the company web site and see if I can get a replacement pole. Being that it was only the second time I’ve used, it, I’m rather disappointed. Lesson learned…I should have waited for help from someone I knew. Oh well.

Since it was almost time for the first race to start, I turned my attention to my marshaling duties. Primarily, this meant being aware of pedestrians who may try to cross the street while the racers were approaching. This might seem to be a no-brainer, but when the riders are approaching speeds of 30-35 mph, the general public underestimates how much time they have to get across the street. Luckily (?) the threat of rain and the cool temperatures kept many people from attending the event.

Included in the day’s events is a kids’ race, which is quite well-attended. Participants included kids from a local program – B.I.K.E. Syracuse. In a nutshell, it’s a program which uses bicycling as a way of introducing disadvantaged kids to positive role models. Volunteers with the program spend Saturdays going on a bike ride with the kids and spending valuable time with them. These kids provided me with my most memorable event of the day. Before the kids’ race started, there was a group of older, un-chaperoned BIKE Syracuse kids who were approaching my intersection. I knew the riders would be approaching soon, so I asked the kids to please wait where they were until the riders passed. The kids immediately stopped and waited (even though they could have made it across, I felt it was in everybody’s best interest to have them wait). They didn’t question my decision, didn’t act rude or put out and we even talked a little about the race and how much they were looking forward to participating. What a refreshing breath of fresh air!! Gave me hope for the future, it did!! As a result, I have decided to name BIKE Syracuse as my “charity of choice” for the B-Fit B-Day challenge. Who knows, if I get really adventuresome, I may even do some Saturday rides with them.

Pictures taken by the local newspaper (The Post Standard) can be found here. Look in the middle column under sports photos, then 14th Annual Race Weekend.
Pictures taken by a fellow corner marshal can be found here. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

B-FitB-Day

I've taken another leap, folks! This one's going to be a real challenge. There's a grassroots group of individuals who are taking their chronological age and turning it into an athletic challenge. Take your age and in any order:
1) Swim the number of miles in the first number
2) Run the number of miles in the second number
3) Bike the number of miles in the combined number

So a 45-year-old athlete would: 1) Swim 4 miles 2) Run 5 miles 3) Bike 45 miles

Since “0” Birthdays like 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, and so on are important milestones the "0" in your birthday represents a 10. This means that on those “0” Birthdays you get to celebrate this big milestone by running ten miles.

This should give me adequate incentive to actually put some thought into my training, rather than just stringing along whatever I feel like doing on a particular day. Hopefully this will improve my consistency and thus my overall performance. Since this is a "0" year for me, I will be trying for a 4 mile swim, 40 mile bike and 10 mile run.

You can navigate to the B-FitB-Day home page by the banner on the left, or by the title of this post. My personal page within the B-Fit site is here. There are three different time frames to accomplish the birthday mileage:
Bronze: Do all three (swim/bike/run) during the week of your birthday
Silver: Do all three (swim/bike/run) in the three days before, after, or on your birthday
Gold: Do all three (swim/bike/run) in 24-hours to celebrate your birthday!

I plan on taking my birthday off of work and will attempt to go for the "gold" challenge all within the 24 hours on my birthday. Come to think of it, maybe I should take the day *after* my birthday off, too!! The site has some great training plans and tips for getting started with exercising -- I could spend way too much time there!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Syracuse Race Weekend


Our cycling club organizes a stage race every year in May. It consists of a road race on Saturday morning, a time trial Saturday afternoon/evening, and a criterium all day Sunday. Usually, I participate in the fun of racing, but this year I decided to help the club by volunteering. I started Saturday morning at the registration desk. Thankfully, with the advent of online registration, this job has gotten much easier. Participants who choose to pre-register enter their appropriate category and payment online and then we just have to check that they are currently licensed by USA Cycling and hand them their bib number.
After registration closed, I rode (via car) with a friend to the northernmost part of the course which features a long climb. This is the established area for team support personnel to hand off extra water bottles and food to the riders. It's also a good spot for photo opportunities because the riders are going slower up the hill. After we saw most of the riders pass through the feed zone (some categories did two loops of the 33-mile course), we rode back to the starting area. There was about a two-hour delay before the first riders in the time trial were to go off, so we killed time mingling amongst the riders and chatting. Then the rain came. Thankfully, my parents had gotten us a 10'x10' pop-up canopy, which we set up directly behind our cars. It was great to be able to hang out comfortably out of the rain! I would have loved to get a photo of that, too, but it was raining too hard! Being that I had no official duties for the time trial, I was able to go to the start line and get some shots there. I watched a few of the riders in my boyfriend's category, then left the site and booked for home.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Do dogs get headaches?

I believe so, and here’s why. Ever since our dog was a puppy, one of us would take her for a walk nearly every night. Most days she is enthusiastic and seemingly very happy on our walk around the village. Occasionally however, she makes it clear via her body language that she doesn’t want to be out and about. Granted, she is a black, long-haired dog, so I can understand if it’s a hot day and she’s in the sun. But sometimes, it’s on a day which seems to be the perfect temperature for her. She’ll walk about a block at a really slow pace with a really depressed body position (tail down and not wagging, ears and head lowered). Sometimes she’ll actually turn around so she’s facing home and sit down as if to say she’s not going any further. I have thought that perhaps she gets sore muscles, like we would if we ran without conditioning ourselves first, but her activity levels are very consistent (long, slow walks – nothing very strenuous). I have to believe a headache would be the most likely explanation. Physiologically speaking, I can’t see why dogs wouldn’t get headaches. Sure wish they could talk sometimes!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A journey of 1,000 miles begins with…


…one step.
My first step is to admit that I have an unhealthy relationship with food. To those of you who know me, you will probably be very surprised about this. I’m not carrying a lot of extra weight. Sure, I’d like to lose a few nagging pounds, but I don’t think most people would view me as overweight. See, I’m a closet eater who then proceeds to exercise compulsively. I never perceived this as a particular problem until, while perusing the library shelves one afternoon recently, I stumbled upon a book about healthy eating habits (or rather, unhealthy eating habits). Entitled Runaway Eating: The 8-Point Plan to Conquer Adult Food and Weight Obsessions, by Cynthia Bulik and Nadine Taylor, it focused my awareness that I really did have a problem. Here's a review. I have found two tips to be particularly helpful for me. First, if I have a “craving”, I do something entirely different to get my mind off of eating that desired food item (lucky you, that’s when I usually do some writing). Second, you can’t eat what you don’t bring home from the store. Whatever your weakness is, if you can resist it in the store, you won’t have to resist it at home. Yes, I’m still working on that one, as there are occasional bags of M&M’s that end up making their way home with me (hey - I said I’m working on it). I highly recommend this book for helping to establish healthier eating patterns.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Derby Sadness

Words cannot begin to describe the grief I felt when I saw the filly, Eight Belles, lying on the track after having broken both front ankles during her run for second place at Saturday’s Kentucky Derby. Somehow, seeing a Triple Crown winner no longer seems to have any importance for me. I’m not of the opinion that horse racing should be banned, but I’m not sure I have the stomach to watch it anymore. Oh sure, I know that one less person watching the sportscast will have no effect whatsoever on the big business of horse racing. But it might make me feel a bit better. After all, the horse racing business is just that, a business. Without racing, the horses would never be bred to the extent that they are. So I understand that. But maybe, just maybe, they’re being pushed too far, too fast, too early in their young lives.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Mountain Goat

I did it! After much hemming and hawing, I decided to go for the 10-mile race. I figured I could always walk if I needed to and still finish under the time limit. I’m very happy to say that I didn’t have to walk at all and I finished in about 1 hour and 44 minutes. I loved it! This particular event has been run in Syracuse for 30 years and the community really comes out to support the runners. There were spectators all throughout the course cheering on all competitors. There were musicians along the way, even a high school marching band playing as we went by. Even amongst the competitors, there was a spirit of camaraderie and support which was very inspirational. What a day! I’ll be back for next year’s event!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Derby Day!

When I was a kid, I was certifiably horse-crazy. I ate, drank and breathed horses, though I never had one of my own. I think I read nearly every story that was written about horses. I was nine years old when Affirmed won the Kentucky Derby in 1978, but that was before I was really into watching the race. The first Derby I can clearly remember was in 1980 which was won by a filly, Genuine Risk. Since I would dearly love to see a Triple Crown winner race, I continue to tune in to every running of the Derby, Preakness, and Belmont, even though I am no longer horse crazy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I’m in love…

(with my parents’ Prius!) My Mom & Dad purchased a Prius a few weeks ago and used it when they came to visit us last week. I thought I was doing well by squeezing an average of 33 mpg out of my Honda Accord by driving conservatively. They’re getting about 52-53 mpg with their hybrid. They were gracious enough to let me drive the car while we went sightseeing for a couple of days and was I ever impressed! We fit three people (one of whom is over 6’ tall), two dogs (both over 50 lbs), and our gear into the car comfortably. It is fun to drive and handles very well. If anybody’s considering a hybrid vehicle I strongly recommend you take one for a test drive and seriously check them out. Hopefully I won’t be replacing my car very soon, but when that time rolls around, I will definitely think long and hard about a Prius.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Welcome, Mom!

Well, I mentioned that I wanted to put up some details about what we did while my Mom & Dad were in town. I don’t have anything ready yet, but I wrote to my Mom this morning and told her about my blog (I haven’t told too many people about this blog yet because I wanted to be certain it was something I was going to stick with). I explained that I wanted to write about our sightseeing and asked her to send a couple of photos as long as she wouldn’t mind if I posted them here. They’re terribly busy, though, so it may be several days before she checks in and then a few more before she gets the photos sent. That’s okay because I need time to write up the dialog!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dreams vs. goals

Please forgive me for having piqued your curiosity yesterday and then leaving you hanging. I have been giving a lot of thought to the fact that I committed to the Mountain Goat and now I am backing out of it. I suppose most of my turmoil lies in the fact that I have been toying with the idea of doing a long-distance triathlon. I dabbled last season with “Sprint” distance triathlons, which were a ton of fun. However, I’m very inconsistent with training. I will go great guns for a few weeks, then slack off. That’s okay with the shorter distances but I will really need to step up the consistency if I want to do longer distances. So I really had to make up my mind that this is something I really want to focus on, before “going public”. For now, doing a longer distance is still a dream….I won’t consider it a goal until several things happen. But the dream is becoming more and more clear as every day goes by.