Saturday, December 10, 2011

Missing in (In)Action

I looked at my last post, and read it as if I had just written it yesterday. How, then, could the date on the post be 2009? It's really been 2 years? Where the heck have I been? What have I been doing? the answer to both is....working, and NOT working OUT. MIIA.
I now work full time at a job that is roughly an hour from my house, on a good day. So that's 10 hours a week that I don't have anymore, about twice the lost time I had two years ago. I've been driving myself to work, but I'm going to try and recapture some of that time lost to commuting by taking the bus. Commuter buses traveling from the northern end of the county have free WiFi ( ON the bus. I know, freaky, right?), so I figure I can get about 45 min of work done on each leg of my commute, which will help free my time up once I get home. I've done it once already, and based on that ride, I think not having to deal with other drivers outweighs the lack of flexibility in departure times.
It probably comes as no surprise that I didn't skate the Marathon two years ago. Until the past few weeks, I hadn't been on skates since late 2009. October 2009, to be precise. Things got complicated in October, but the broken bones mended, and oddly enough, we still have the TV. This year, we planned to spend our Thanksgiving holiday in Rochester, with family we have there. Rochester is home to the Rochester Speedskating Team. This is the team that taught me to skate, train in increasing increments of volume and intensity, rest, then race hard, leaving everything on the ice. I miss my Rochester teammates terribly. When they invited me to skate with them after the holiday, I couldn't pass up the chance.
Panic set in seconds after I agreed to join them. Where were my skates? Helmet? neckguard, skinsuit, pads, gloves,etc? What condition were my blades in, and if they were in bad shape, where on earth was my jig and stones? Oh G_d, what had I agreed to do? What was I thinking, skating with my old team in my current roundish shape? I really should have skated at some open ice times at my rink, but somehow, I couldn't quite get my act together before the holiday to accomplish that. In the end, I grabbed my old skate bag, tossed it into the car, and hoped for the best.
I arrived at the rink early in the morning. RSST practices at two rinks, and that day, they were at the warm, sunlight rink. I had neglected to bring sneakers so I had to choose to warm up wearing clogs, or in my socks. I chose socks. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened my skate bag. Obviously when I repacked it, I had intended to skate again before too long. My blades were even in decent shape, no rust, no dings, and moderately sharp. Yay me.
The good news: skating felt familiar, and I welcomed the routine of set work, and the friendly banter in between sets as we skated around. The bad news: I am horribly out of shape and my legs were toast by the end of each set. I skated safely though, no sense in ending up on the mats, I had to work on Monday, after all. Even so, it felt great to be out doing something. Enough so that I knew I needed to skate again sometime soon.
Soon turned out to be the next weekend, at a public skate with my daughter. I mostly skated very slow laps while she twirled around in the center with her friend, but I noticed the last 20 minutes or so the of long public session were nearly devoid of people. The track marker dots are quite visible, so I had both time and space to skate a decent track, slowly....It still felt great.
So now I think I will be skating every Sunday we are in town. It won't get me trained for competition, but maybe I'm done with that, maybe I just want to skate.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Long Way to the Marathon (metaphorically, that is...)

The Lake Placid Marathon is next month, almost EXACTLY a month, to be precise. That is, if the weather is cold enough to hold the ice. It could well be the first weekend of ice there. It could also well be my first time on long track skates since last year. I really want to skate long track this year, not that I'd be tremendously better at it than I am at short track, but the few times I've skated at the oval, I have enjoyed it more than short track. I enjoy being outside, I enjoy the longer strokes and glide on the straights. That being said, I thought I'd enjoy skating a marathon on natural ice, and we all know how THAT turned out...
Five weeks ago, I was approaching my fitness goal, and was looking forward to a nice vacation before training on the ice. I had a few ice sessions and was starting to feel like I could do some training. Our trip was relaxing, even though our daughter came down with an ear infection, and then Strep throat. This kid is such a trooper, with lots of sleep and Tylenol, she managed to rally and enjoy herself every day. A quick visit to the urgent care once we got off the plane in Albany, a trip to the pharmacy, and presumably, we'd be back to normal. Our older boys are past the age where they get ear infections, and, since we were back in town, I'd be right on top of any sign of Strep. What I didn't see coming, and really who does, was novel H1N1 for the whole family, followed immediately by a high energy interaction between a 150 lb TV set and a 58 lb 8 yr old. The TV set was undamaged. Not so much with the 8 yr old.

Hmmm... I guess we can cross skis off her Christmas list. The smile was Codeine induced. The first two weeks were rough, but once she got a new, lighter cast on and the xrays this week showed that the bones were beginning to knit together, we were all much happier.
I returned her skates and skin suit to the club this week, so it looks like it's just me skating this season. Which brings me to this week. After some sleepless nights while the kids were fighting 103 degree fevers, I've spent a week sleeping on the floor next to the couch, a week sleeping in the guest bed when we managed to get our daughter moved upstairs, and finally this week sleeping in my own bed. I've been living on coffee, Halloween candy, prepackaged snacks, and pizza. We are so indebted to our family and friends, who came to our rescue with meals, and sitting services so that we could return to work while our daughter is recuperating. Now that our life is a little more calm, I'm thinking about skating.
Five weeks.....I can feel it, pudgy and slow. In one of my last posts, I mentioned needing a goal. I'm very goal oriented. This Marathon would be a great goal. I've never skated more than 9000 meters at a time, and that was on a 111 meter rink, and this season I haven't done more than a few laps at a time while I'm coaching. How to train for the entry event of Marathon skating, the 10K? I think fitness level is the key. I won't be able to get much continuous skating in during our Tues/Thur sessions but perhaps during the more lightly attended Wed sessions. Times for this event range from 15 to 38 minutes. I'm shooting for a 30 minute finish. I think it's much like training for a 5K, which for me used to be slightly more than a 30 minute continuous effort.
With that in mind, I have some very specific things I need to accomplish. First, I have to drop the weight I have put back on in the past five weeks. Second, I need to get back to my pre vacation/flu/medical emergency fitness level. These go hand in hand. I have my bike set up in the basement, waiting for me, and a slide board right next to it, gathering dust. Third, and possibly the hardest, is to get enough ice time and specifically, continuous skate time to be able to skate a 10K. Squeezing in some training while I'm coaching on T/TH and longer sessions on Wednesday nights until the oval opens, then at least 1 session at the oval before the Marathon should allow me to complete the 10K. Skating a 10K would force me to address my issues in the turns. Once I get comfortable doing these long track crossovers and keep my fitness level up, I should be able to skate other events. Participation and completion, that's the goal this year.
Sounds like a plan...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ice is Nice, but Sun is Fun!

You are looking at our late afternoon routine this past week. We've been in Siesta Key, FL, for a little R & R. For the past five or six years, our family has been learning to live "more economically ", due to layoffs, job changes, location changes, and the economy. We've been lucky to have relatives in Northerneastern coastal locations who have graciously invited us to stay with them in the summer. That leaves a long, cold, and frequently dark winter with no breaks for us. Don't get me wrong, our family loves winter, we sled, snowshoe, and two of us speedskate. Downhill skiing is beyond us now financially, but used cross country skis are cheap, and the skiing is (usually) free, so we plan to take up that sport as well.

When friends of ours, who have a daughter in our daughter's class, asked if we might like to join them in their parent's TWO condos on Siesta Key, we jumped at the offer. We cashed in the last of our frequent flyer miles and launched our family on a wonderful, warm, and relaxing trip south.
October is not a terribly popular month to visit Florida, for reasons I don't understand. It was warm and sunny every day. We had rain for a short time on the last two days, which didn't interfere with anything we did. The evenings were the best, though. Doing our best to avoid the damaging rays of the sun, we limited our swimming to mornings and late afternoon, each time with plenty of sunblock. Even so, we got plenty of "color"! The waters of the Gulf of Mexico were warm and clear, with just enough surf to make it fun for the kids. The sunsets were spectacular, even more so with a glass of Chardonnay! Most nights we had to pull the kids out of the water because we could no longer see them. Siesta Key is famous for it's white sandy beaches, which are mostly quartz, and have been ground to a flour like consistancy. It also makes great sand castles, and the kids made all sorts of creations.

For four days, we did little more than sleep late, have coffee, float in the pool, eat and nap, do a little shopping (Sarasota Goodwill, plenty of bargains, LOL!), and sit on the beach. Our youngest was sick (as it turned out upon returning, QUITE sick) but with lots of rest, tylenol, and motrin, was able to have fun with her siblings and her best friend from school. I put in one night of work, but other than that, I didn't think about work or skating.
I return to the cold north tan and rested, and unfortunately a few pounds heavier. I had intended to workout every day, but the pace in Florida is much slower. I did swim laps one day, but my heart wasn't in it. I am energized though and ready to start training again. Goal, I need a goal, has anyone seen one I could use?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


I ran the blog through Wordle ( and this is the word cloud that emerged. Pretty neat huh? Right now my head resembles this cloud, any number of things swirling around, certain topics rise to the top. It is actually therapeutic to view this. I wonder what it will look like at the end of the skating season?
I'm very busy these days, reading and writing, morping myself back into a grad student. As always trying to keep everything in balance....

Friday, September 4, 2009

First week of the rest of my life

Whew, I survived the first week of classes ( hat #2), a full week of weights for training ( hat #3), and collected all my articles that have been assigned for the upcoming week in the class I'm taking (hat #4), and managed to be at home and present mentally while my kids and husband were awake (yes....hat #1). This is apparently, how my life is going to be for at least the next 5 years. When my kids start back at school next week, I'll have to carve myself up into a few more slices. The thing is, though, that wearing any one of these hats to the exclusion of the others, induces great instability in the wearer (me).

I know this from experience. I test this theory regularly, and it always holds up. This week, I was able to wear each hat for just enough time, but it was tough. In the past year, I've bagged going to the gym for a few days, in favor of getting "just a few more things done" until the days became weeks and soon I had packed on quite a bit on extra insulation. Every day this week I forced myself put down my work for an hour and got a workout in, I was very glad I did. For me, exercising "resets" my internal balance. I am much more productive and less anxious for the rest of the day.

This summer I have worked hard to get rid of the excess baggage. I had an injury at the start of the summer which essentially scared me straight. I was able to rehab on my own, rediscover my love of distance swimming, develop a no nonsense nutrition strategy, drop half the total weight I need to get rid of, and put alot of miles on my bike. Fantastic! I went for a fast ( for me) 20 miler on Friday that seemed to be over way too soon. I'm finally ready to start "training" September. Normally, I would expect to be in this phase, say, in April, leaving the rest of the summer to build volume and intensity, and finish with sport specific training, so that by the time regular ice season starts, I'm ready to work hard. Only, for me, it never seems to work that way. One thing or another gets in the way and only 1 year out of 5 was I really "ready" for the ice in September.

Rather than panic, I'm now old enough to accept my limitations, and realize that I need to keep myself in fairly good overall shape, since I can no longer do the running, low walking, squatting, and low dry skating I used to do. I can, however, increase my aerobic fitness, my flexibility, my overall strength, using the sports I can still do, with the time I have (about 5-7 hrs a week) so that I can continue skating, and continue to enjoy it. Short track competition is probably a thing of the past for me, but Long Track beckons, and THAT ice doesn't start until mid December.....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I've been away for a few weeks, figuratively and literally. Away, out of town, out of state, on "vacation". I liken getting ready to leave on vacation this year to Odysseus' journey back to Ithaca, fraught with setback after setback, sometimes brought on by our own pride. Eventually Odysseus did return to his rocky home, and like our hero, we eventually reached our rocky destination. Thanks to the cavernous trunk of Nick's Ford Taurus sedan, we were able to get clothes for 5 people for two weeks, an aerobed, 2 gym bags, Nick's suit ( mid vacation meeting, ughh) laptops ( who goes on vacation without them these days...), 3 cases of diet Vernor's Gingerale, purchased in Michigan as a surprise for my mother in law, and my bike. That last item was going to be left behind, but Nick insisted I bring it. (THANK YOU!!!).

I wish I had taken a picture of the trunk fully loaded, Rubik's cubes were easier to solve. I was debating loading the bike, thinking instead I'd do ALOT of swimming, but the morning after we arrived in Rhode Island, I did a double take as I walked through the garage out to the car. That's nice, I thought, someone took my bike out and put it back together. Then I realized it wasn't my bike! There was someone else at the cottage who brought their bike too! An hour later, Jerry, my stepsister's boyfriend and I were spinning happily on the first of our 3 early morning rides to Watch Hill. Despite looking a bit like Mutt and Jeff, we were well matched speed wise, and pushed each other to keep the pace up. On the more quiet roads we were able to converse as well, and had some great discussions about family, injuries, and God's role in our lives. Riding with Jerry allowed me to ramp up my riding and I logged over 100 miles that first week. I also managed to squeeze in a long swim one day as well, in the almost tropical waters off Quonnie. I even rode in the rain one day after Jerry departed for the Vineyard, uphill, both ways..... at least it seemed both ways at the time. On each of these rides I reclaimed something I had left behind two years ago, a faster spin, sitting in the saddle for an hour or more, popping up out of the saddle for short climbs, shifting without thinking, it was all good. I could have easily continued this schedule for another week, or more.

We split our vacation time between my parents, so after a week of riding, relaxing on the beach, and trying to outsmart the dampness in the cottage, we shuffled up to Maine. Riding in Georgetown, Maine, isn't as easy as riding in Rhode Island, but again, I was able to reclaim the ability to climb without my knees falling apart afterwards. I did get to ride out on a quiet peninsula, past several Andrew Wyeth like farms. It was very peaceful, but hot and humid, unseasonably hot and humid, the hottest weather of the season in Maine, so the day after my ride, we elected to spend inside. Next year I'm going to explore the routes north of Bath.

Once I got back home, things got crazy for a few days, and I didn't get a ride in until Tuesday, when I had a few hours to myself. It was wonderful and I have no idea where I went, I headed north for about 5 miles, then east for a few, back north a few more, east, and so on, grabbing views of the ridge line just west of me, and then the bigger mountains on the edge of Vermont to the east of the Hudson. The air was warm and humid, and whatever was in bloom cast off a sweet almond smell that hit me full force when the breeze dropped. I remember backpacking on the Long Trail in Vermont and catching that same scent on hot August days. I eventually zigzagged my way home with 25 miles logged onto my cycle computer and in a great mood.
Now it's Friday, and I've been at working the past few days and haven't gotten to ride or swim, and I'm starting to get grumpy. The fall semester starts on Monday, and I've 150 or so students coming through my lab next week. I'm going to have to ( gasp) ride indoors tomorrow or I might bite someone's head off. I also have to figure out how I'm going to get some riding and weight training in at work. Priorities....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Training Interrupted...

Yesterday (actually, two days ago, read on...) started out beautifully, we were very productive in the morning, getting our house ready for the renters, and when we could stand being inside no longer, we had the rest of the warm, clear day to enjoy the outside. I swam on the cable for 20 minutes then hopped on my bike, with just enough time for a 15 mile ride before we had to leave for dinner with friends. I'm gradually ramping up my mileage and speed, but until I can ride for a few hours each time at a decent pace, I've found that combining swimming with riding allows me to get the aerobic benefit without stressing my knee unduly. Today (two days ago) was the first day I was able to bike right after swimming.

Riding in the warm, sweet, August sun just after swimming was a treat. My hair kept me cool for at least 30 minutes. Riding north, I had the sun at my left shoulder. I spun in my middle chain ring for most of the ride, taking joy at the increasing speed. After turning around I was lost in the middle of a thought when I rolled over a large rock in the breakdown lane. Rookie Mistake #1. Keep your eyes on where you are going. I continued on and waited..... hmmm maybe it won't flat and I'll be lucky. Drats, seconds later I was riding on the rim. Sighing audibly I pulled over, hopped off the bike, and started taking off the front wheel. The tube was out in a jiffy, thanks to my speed lever. Here is where I KNOW better, Rookie Mistake #2. I had forgotten to put a spare tube in my pack. Tubes are cheap, and I usually keep 1 in my pack and several at home, but I not only forgot to pack one, I also had used up the ones at home. @#$%$#@. I did have a patch kit, though and two patches left, so I put some air in the tube and opened up my water bottle and found the snake bite pinch, or I should say I found MOST of it, because right after I patched it and put the tube back in, zipped the tire back on the rim with the speed lever, inflated it with my CO2 cartridge, and put it back in the fork, it was flat again @@#&$!!!@#%&. By this time I had used up most of my alloted ride time, so I grabbed my phone and called for my support team (Nick). While I waited, I found the small hole that I had missed, millimeters away from the edge of the patch, and put a patch over THAT, and reinflated the tube, just to be sure. Not sure why I did that, because now the tube is horribly bumpy and won't be very good to ride on, but I wasn't going to let it get the best of me.

Fast forward a few hours and we are enjoying deckside dining up on the ridge at our friend's house, looking down at the Hudson Valley, as the sun gently dipped behind the ridge line. We'd been here two days before celebrating their oldest son's graduation from highschool, but things were hectic and we really had missed talking with each other, and they had tons of food leftover! Never ones to refuse a free meal and some great conversation back up we went. Somehow peanuts and conversation go hand in hand and there was plenty of both. All of us dug in heartily to the leftovers, but by the end of the meal I started to feel like I had been hit HARD in the stomach, every 45 sec or so. After hanging out for an hour or so, relaxing, I figured it was just too many beans, but when I stood up I nearly fell flat on my face. Again, probably too many beans, but I really needed to get home, if you know what I mean. This wasn't beans.

I'm a scientist by trade, and my training has been in bacterial infections, specifically, pediatric respiratory infections, but I've been teaching Microbiology at the college level for several years, and one of the things I make sure my students understand is the difference between food "poisoning" and food bourne "intoxication". Without giving you all one of my lectures, I clearly was suffering from food bourne "intoxicaton". Rapid onset of violent symptoms. The toxin was very quick acting, affecting my stomach as soon as it hit. I did manage to make it home before "reverse peristalsis" set in, along with a bunch of other textbook symptoms that were with me the entire night until I passed out, literally, after I crawled to the couch. Two days later I've managed to rehydrate myself, and eat some solid food. I'm fairly certain the toxin I ingested was on the peanuts I ate. Everyone else had the same food, but I ate the most peanuts (Just typing this is making me queasy). I've lost almost two days of cleaning the house for our renters who are arriving this weekend, two days of getting ready for our vacation, and two days of riding and swimming. There was no way I could do more than drag myself around the house until this afternoon, so I've "lost" a few days, and a few pounds, gained some stress, and I won't be eating peanuts anytime soon.