Wednesday, November 29, 2006


As I was sitting and eating my reheated turkey, candied yams, and brussel sprouts tonight, I realized that I never posted anything about my spectacular Thanksgiving!

Ward and I had been excited about hosting our families for Thanksgiving ever since we first walked through our new empty apartment together in August. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, due to the sentiment evoked on the day and naturally, the food. It would be wonderful to share this day together with both our families.

I was nervous about cooking for 12 people, although I've had a little bit of practice cooking for a crew at our Tuesday night "workout-pigout" training nights. This was a bit different, since cooking for friends is one thing, but pleasing two moms simultaneously is truly another. :)

We managed to fit everyone at the table with a borrowed folding table and all the chairs we could gather. IKEA afforded us the possibility of matching tableware and servingware for cheap, and my brother's boss gifted him a 23 lb turkey for the meal!

Ward did a great job stuffing and roasting his first turkey with delicious giblet gravy. I made candied yams, mashed root vegetables with buttermilk and chives, brussel sprouts with lemon-walnut dressing, green beans with toasted hazelnut-butter, gingered cranberry-raspberry relish, and whole wheat rolls. The moms brought homemade pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies, indian pudding, and brownies. Naturally, Dad brought many bottles of wine. Greg brought some beers and sang us some tunes at the end of the night. And a wonderful day was had by all! It may have been the best Thanksgiving ever!

Monday, November 27, 2006

that which is possible with clear lungs and a day off before a race

After a fun and successful weekend of local races in Plymouth and Lowell, Mass, I was looking forward to UCI competition again. So naturally, I got a nasty cold again. Maybe it was the same illness continued... I don't even know anymore. Phlem-filled fun from Tuesday through, well, even today. I was feeling a little better by the weekend, but should I have raced? Perhaps you would argue that I shouldn't have. But I'm so glad I did! With Gearworks Cyclery and my coach sponsoring the race, I really wanted to have a good showing. Plus, there was no mud and no tape in the course, so I had no excuses. :)
I didn't have the greatest start. Just didn't seem to have a hard enough jump right away. Probably chose the wrong start position, too, and got pinched. I ended up around 5th or 6th around the track and up the hill, then made sure I ramped up my chase on the flat section after I got over the horse jump. Now comes the amazing part: I don't know exactly where my energy came from, but I could always "go" during the race. Usually I experience a "lull" in the middle of the race, slowing up a lot in the third lap, but not this time. Ward was taking lap times, and I gained over 10 seconds on Lyne that lap. (Of course, she could afford to slow up.) I could still push the accelerator. (Wish I had had a better start!!) I think that despite my cold I was relatively rested since I didn't travel to North Carolina or the USGP the previous weekend. (Of course, hosting Thanksgiving was pretty tiring!) I had Friday off work, which allowed me to decompress after the week and the holiday. Have you ever had the experience of being so focused that only the present moment exists? Musicians call it "in the pocket" when you're smack in the groove. Maybe athletes refer to it as "in the zone." Whatever you call it, I was there. I felt very focused. It was me and the ground beneath my tires, ahead of me, smooth corners, the barrier, the gravel, the hill. Later in the race, when the course doubled back and Lyne would pass by, I found myself thinking, "She's ahead of me, but not by as much as I expected! What's she doing, knitting a sweater up there?" While I would certainly never wish for success through an opponent's misfortune, anything can happen in cross, and I found some dark region of my brain imagining how a flat tire might shrink that lead.... Can you ever be "comfortably in the lead" in cyclocross? A mechanical could always happen. A crash. Anything. You always ride on hard. Although I was "comfortably in the lead" at Plymouth, I visualized having to run half a lap to the finish with a mechanical... would I still come out up top? It kept me riding hard.
As I hit the pavement the last time, Lyne was finishing. 26 seconds later, a solid second place finish was quite a thrill. Now I know I can ride that hard, and I hope I can push myself there again.

These photos of the podium above and us below are from Dave M's site.
Check it out!

This photo by Paul Weiss on Cyclingnews is a bit disconcerting.... and how come Mo's smiling??

Ahh. What to do this weekend?? I WANT to race UCI in Reston. But a weekend trip to D.C. for a Sunday race is crazy when I have to be back at work at 7:30 am Monday and the sad reality is that the bald tires on my car probably won't make it that far........

Monday, November 13, 2006

Please Pray for Rain so I can Practice in the Mud!

(Damn it I have a lot of hair. When'd that happen? ) This pic's from some great race pics on there.

I felt better on Friday and decided to make the insane, long drive down to Harrisburg, PA for the Lower Allen Classic. Weather was stellar and the competition super fun. The race began with a "prologue" loop around the ball field, around a tree, down a chute to the loose gravel staging/start area, and up the road. I had a good start, first couple into the field. I came around Wallace hoping to be the first into the right-hand turn around the ball field, looked up and saw... tape across the course! This was rather unexpected, and in that confused, split-second decision making moment, I made the wrong one. I should have just plowed over it, but thinking about the whole pack barreling down on me, the prospect of potential carnage if I became ensnarled in tape frightened me into a fast dismount and jump. In that moment, I went from first to 12th with no momentum going into the soft grass section. Everyone passed me! Well, almost everyone. It took me 3/4 of a lap to regain 3rd or 4th place, and Mandy and I battled it out for awhile until she picked up the pace and shed me. I put it all out in the last lap, and almost caught her, but it was "too little, too late." Fun race, though.

Sunday it was MUDDY. I felt good warming up, but I think my warm-up laps might have been faster than I rode during the race. The first half of the course killed me. I rode the mucky grass section then the run around the trees then remounting and climbing the hill just killed me, especially on the first lap. Maybe I didn't warm up enough. Maybe I rode the course too many times before the race and sapped some of my energy. I don't know. But I died. And that compunded with the changing course conditions as it began to pour mid-race. It got slippery, and there were lots of slick off-cambre corners. I had no juice, then I made mistakes and it cost me my confidence. I felt like a fish out of water. I managed to hold off a charging and frighteningly strong Mega for 10th. Please pray for rain because I need practice in the mud!

It was great to see prices like this in NJ!! I think I put 40,000 miles on my car over the past year. Notice the 100K mark. I wonder how many hours I've spent sitting in my red rollerskate.... would be awfully depressing to know!!

So I'm still wheezing and coughing a little, but looks like I'm on the up and up. If only it's not to late to build for nats...

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Breathing Chronicles

Today was my biggest effort yet towards getting well. I rested all day. Napped, read, knitted a little. I can't take being sick anymore! Too bad Saturday's race in PA is pre-reg only.... I have to decide on making the trip by noon tomorrow. I really want to race.

A pic I meant to share 2 weekends ago... I was sitting sadly in my papazan chair, knitting by the window in our sunroom, missing out on the excitement of racing Canton, when Mr. Squirrel appeared climbing on the screen. Kind of cool to be able to climb all over the side of houses and stuff.

Wow, I wish I had something better to write about.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Another doctor's visit. Finally a chest x-ray. The doc says the x-rays look fine. She listens to my chest. "Sounds clear," she says. (Ok, come listen at 3 am when I awake wheezing and coughing.) Apparently, I just need to drink fluids and get some rest. (There's a new idea.) And I certainly should not be doing any kind of aerobic exercise, she says. Training is a distant memory to me. And I feel no worse after racing this past weekend than I did before. Feeling crappy with a massive post-nasal drip and and coughing is just status quo now. Sorry I am so frustrated. I just want to feel healthy again. And I just want to ride my bike!!

See the pics from Colorado? Damn it looks beautiful there.

Monday, November 06, 2006

What a Weekend

I sure can't complain about this past weekend. (But I will complain about my health!) All logic pointed to rest; after two rounds of antibiotics, I still have a massive post-nasal drip, chest congestion which causes me to wheeze and cough all night, and a general fatigue. But I LOVE the Chainbiter and CycleSmart races, and I was feeling so pent-up I just couldn't resist.

So I arrived at Farmington without really having ridden since the race in Ludwig's corner, PA. I tried a workout 2 Wednesdays ago, but just felt like crap and got sicker afterwards. I was a little bit worried about racing, but I had similar situation going into Gloucester and decided just to go have some fun and try to hack the rest of the phlem out of my lungs. I had a good start. Amy and I hit the curb first, and she performed a pretty spectacular endo, allowing me to continue on out front. Mackenzie passed me going into the first sand section, which I completely expected. What I didn't expect was to see Amy on my wheel at the end of the first lap! What a come back! I just didn't have the extra juice to catch them; I almost caught on several times, especially up the hill, coming within just a few seconds, but I just couldn't make it. It was torture to see them right there, 5-11 seconds ahead for almost the entire race, but my legs felt totally flat and I just couldn't push that extra. I will not complain about my first Verge podium ever. :)

Sunday the legs were tired and the lungs were wheezy, but I was psyched to race! Mackenzie went out hard as always. I didn't want to be out in the wind too early so I stayed 4th wheel at the start, but moved up before the sand. I felt like I was closing on Mackenzie in the second lap and in my excitement went into the barriers a little hotter than I thought... I think my front wheel didn't clear the first barrier, whipping me off balance and sending me headplanting into the second barrier. I cracked my helmet and bashed my right shifter. Cyclocrossworld's race report said I "cartwheeled," and I appreciate the graceful assumption, but I can assure you it was nowhere near that nice. I managed to get up as fast as possible and assess the damage to the bike. By some luck, Ward had run over to this section of the course to cheer me on and saw the whole thing. He came running over thinking I had surely broken bones, so I could yell "PIT!!" to him when I saw my shifter. It was bent in making my rear brake and shifter almost completely inaccessible. I couldn't afford to try and bend it back stading there, I had just been passed and had fallen to 4th place with 5th coming up fast. He B-lined for the pit, grabbing Matt to help. I rode in the drops to the pit with my helmet flopping on my head. I wouldn't feel my neck and back aching until much later.... I grabbed my heavier-than-hell Voodoo and went after Amy and Betsy. After catching them, I rode past, knowing I would pit again to get my lighter Stevens bike back the next time through. I got passed again when I took the Stevens back, but when I hit the road section the next time, attacked as if it were a crit, wishing I could make it up to Mackenzie for the last lap. I rode clean and fast the rest of the race. I wish there was one more lap!! But I am very happy to have finished second place, and only 16 seconds back- not too far considering my crash and two bike exchanges. Thanks so much, Matt for helping out in the pit!! And best wishes to Mandy, who raced and still made top 10 with the FLU!!

So next weekend... I really want to do the mid-Atlantic races... but that PA race near Harrisburg is sooooo far....

So, check this out! What a lovely afternoon for a cyclocross race! I mean... a nap. I got a little nervous.... I couldn't believe this sight. These people didn't move for a LONG time. It was frightening - they looked dead. Guess cyclocross isn't as exciting to everyone!