Saturday, April 5, 2008

The great outdoors

FINALLY! I finally got outdoors for a ride. Yay me, I feel smugly superior to all of you who are sitting on your couches thinking that maybe you ought to drag your bikes out for a ride. Don't worry, it won't last, as most of you are in much greater physical condition than I am and no matter how early I get out, I'll never , ever, beat you. But I'll enjoy it for a while. There is still snow on the ground in places, and the roads are wet, but the sun was shining and I was able to find all my colder weather cycling gear because we finally got to unpacking most of our boxes from the storage facility we rented. I was a vision in black, with a racy red bike, going very, very slowly, especially up hills. I had a nice hour long spin this morning, touring neighborhoods, waving gleefully to anyone looking my way. "Hi, how are ya! Yep, I'm one of those dedicated cyclists, out in all sorts of weather, yep, that's me!" I WISH.
I also managed a 30 min swim today, as specified in my training plan. On my way back home I passed lots of other cyclists, but I still felt pretty smug, as "I" got up early and did my ride, while these slackers obviously slept in, or puttered around drinking coffee and reading the New York Times until the mood struck them to suit up in loud lycra colors and head out for a spin. Each one of them could drop me in a NY minute, even on the flats, but you are as slow and fat as I am, you have to take your feelings of superiority when you can get them! As a matter of fact, I will probably continue to ride early on Saturday and Sunday, JUST so I won't ever encounter these people, and therefore never be embarassed by them!
Actually, starting in June, I'll be riding a hilly loop every Sunday with the SWC, and I want to be able to ride it with ease ( okay, "ease" is a misnomer for me, I want to be able to ride it without throwing up..) and I'd like to be quite a bit lighter by then, as dragging my butt up the hills is getting old.
All of this should translate into a better skating season next year. I'm lifting 2x a week, and in June, I'll start some dryland work, building in intensity in July and August, so that (theoretically) by Septeember I'll be in much better shape and be more powerful than I am now. I'd settle for 30 lbs lighter!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Ice Ice Everywhere, except at the Bay

Another ice storm here in Saratoga, where the only two questions that are relevant first thing in the morning in winter are whether it is STILL snowing or whether it is snowing AGAIN? The answer determining whether you have to haul out the snowblower or you whether you can blast through it and leave the snowblowing until after work.

The latter was the answer today, however it was challenging to open the doors on the van. We seem to have had plenty of ice events here this year, but further west in Webster, NY, just outside of Rochester it is not the case. This weekend was to be the inaugural Skate the Bay event. My friends Karen and Robert Varrone and the RSST team put a lot of effort into getting this marathon skating event off the ground. There were to be several marathon distances as well as two fun shorter distances for the general public to try. We were all looking forward to skating, but a few thaws made the ice unstable and the event had to be cancelled at the last moment. I visited the site at Christmas with members of the master's ladies RSST team.

These women are all seasoned speedskaters and it would have been fun to compete with them. I'll see many of them in a few weeks at another ST event, but I do enjoy getting together with them any time I have the opportunity!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Long Track Nationals

Because I swore that I'd try long track skating, and because everyone tells me that I'd be much better at it than I am at short track ( I couldn't be much worse and still be skating) I purchased a pair of Bont Spirit boots with Maple clap blades this summer from John Dimon, who I am bound to purchase things from every time I enter his shop. I always ask how his kids are doing in College, since I figure I am paying for part of their education. John and I are roughly the same age and like me, he struggles with the balancing act. John is not like me in that in his younger years he was a crazy nutty marathon skier/skater type guy, whilst I was just a little crazy.

All summer long and into the fall, I eyed those skates, envisioning weekends training in Lake Placid, and eventually competing at the LT Nationals, which were to be held at Lake Placid for the first time in 12 years, but one thing led to another ( see above post) and the event arrived and I had only skated on my LT set up once, for about 15 minutes at ST practice. Thinking that this venue wouldn't be the best to debut as a long track skater, I offered last minute to help out at the meet. I just happen to be a starter, or rather I just happen to have been to an officials clinic a few years ago, and someone showed me how to authoritatively say "Go to the start.....Reaaaaddddddyyyyy" then fire the pistol and declared me officially a "starter". How that translates to being qualified to start at the Nationals I don't know, but there I was ( thank you Spencer for the photo).

Now, anyone who knows me knows that it is impossible for me to keep my mouth shut, literally, I am always saying something, which I think is informative to other people. Whether it is or not may be in question, but generally people are polite and wait for me to take a breath then interject their comments. Starting is NOT a job for motor mouths. Firing the gun is fun, but then you basically have to shut up until it's time for you to fire the gun again. I did not know this, however the chief starter, politely reminded me time and time again that as an official, I had to NOT show a preference for any team or racer, and I certainly couldn't yell or cheer during the races. What??? Are you kidding?? This is exciting racing, and I actually KNOW some of the racers out there! I even have two teams to cheer for! Every fiber of my body wanted to be yelling like crazy. I wanted to race back to the heat box and congratulate the skaters who had great races and console the ones who didn't. I think I will have to turn in my starters pistol ( figuratively, because I don't own one...) and revert to my competitor/coach role.

This is my teammate Kelly, who also wears quite a few hats, but somehow manages to balance things in her life a little better than I do. She skated very well for her first year at LT, AND she coordinated the banquet on Saturday night. How cool is that, LT folks have banquets? I think some serious calorie loading is in order after skating outdoors all day. I hear that next year the timers have requested a hot tub and umbrella drinks.

It's all about Balance

Work, family, and training. It sounds easy, only three variables, right? But all three spill over into each other, and the first two speak louder to me most of the time, leaving the third off in a corner and lonely, just ask my bike... Once in a while I do manage to strike a nice balance and then everything is right with the world. Such was the case late this past summer, when we had just moved to the Saratoga area, I was starting a new job, and training for my first triathlon, thinking this was going to be a GREAT year speedskating. What was I thinking??? The accumulated stress of moving and maintining two houses while searching for a third got to me just before Christmas and I holed up when I really needed to be training more. Funny thing about humans, sometimes it's hard for us to do what's clearly best for us! So here I am nearing the end of another season with barely any training and racing, 40 lbs overweight, swearing the NEXT season is gonna be different ( AGAIN ). You would think that after a few years of this blind ambition, I'd realize it wasn't going to happen, but that's also what is funny about humans, sometimes we are incredibly optimisitc about what we can accomplish, and it keeps us going forward. So I have to figure out how to make the training animal talk a bit louder and pay attention to it, because, as my car nut husband tells me, the first thing you do to make a car faster is to make it LIGHTER.