A friend of mine has a cut-off temperature for outside biking. At one point it was 60 degrees, although she has been out in lower temps since she told me that. I think she might have dropped the threshold a few points as she became a more experienced rider. What’s my cut-off? I’m not exactly sure, but I think we’re there! I know I’m not happy riding in the 40s, and it snowed (ok, flurried) over the weekend. Sure, I’ll continue to commute my 3-4 miles each way to work and swim, bundled up like the Michelin tire guy – unless it’s icy – but I am by no means hard-core enough to road ride through the winter. Do you have a temperature range?
I did the Rapha Women’s metric century ride over the summer. FUN! There’s another one in December. The Rapha Women’s Braver than the Elements Ride. NOT SO FUN! I won’t be doing that one – I’m really not braver than the elements. I get cranky when my hands and feet go numb and turn funny colors.
SWIM! My last Walden Pond swim was on September 23rd. It wasn’t awful in terms of being cold, but I could tell I was done. I rejoined Cambridge Masters Swim Club and am happily (?) getting my ass kicked in the pool 3-4 times/week. I need a push every few years – I was due. I’m curious to see if my shoulders get bigger with the increased yardage and effort. I’ll keep you informed. I might even do a pool meet in the Spring. Oh shoot, now that I’ve said that, I might actually have to do it. Something I found out: stroke workout right after spin class doesn’t work so well for me. Swim fail!
BIKE! See above. No more outside riding for me. I finished the season by joining some friends to do another metric century: The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk on October 5th (early and chilly!). It was my first benefit ride, and I hope to do it again next year.
It was a very well-supported ride through a scenic part of CT. I got out for a few more rides after that, and now I’m adjusting to ~3-4 spin classes/week. It might be time to put a crappy tire on my bike and set up my trainer, though. There’s only so much “Maniac” and “Eye of the Tiger” that this former Deadhead can take. I get gym class music stuck in my head and it stays there for days. That can’t be healthy.
READ! The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Suspend disbelief and let yourself be taken away. A Nation in Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem, by Judy Foreman (friend from Cambridge Masters). This book explores chronic pain and how it is misunderstood and mistreated and a HUGE problem. It is accessible but still not a super easy read. I might be working on this one for a while. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach. I just started it.
and EAT! Fig and Pear Crumbles by Frugal Feeding. Wow! Next up: something with apples since we just bought 3 bags of them at Clarkdale Fruit Farms while in Western MA for Cider Days in Franklin County.
Last I posted, I had just completed a 3-mile swim at the end of June. My first! Now it’s the end of August and I can check a couple more things off my Summer to-do list.
SWIM! I swam a 2-mile race in CT in July. It was an interesting event: one could swim 1, 2, or 3-miles, or any combination of 1, 2, and 3 miles! I opted for doing only the 2-miler due to time constraints. I was happy with my time – just under 53 minutes – which was good enough for a 3rd place finish overall AND in my age group (40-59). The water was perfect: no need for a wetsuit. Ahhh! Maybe next year I’ll do a couple of the swims. Or all 3! We’ll see how my shoulders are doing before I commit to that. Oh, the best part? The buoys were big yellow rubber duckies! How cool is that?! ALL races should have such fun buoys. I wish I had a picture.
After that, I took a break from distance and swam 1/2 mile in a triathlon relay with my sister (on bike), and another Team EnVision member (for the run). We won! The award was a pint glass. Can’t have too many pint glasses, right?
And finally, the swim that got me thinking about competing in open water races in the first place! This past weekend, August 23rd, was the Race for Swim and Fin in Salem (MA) harbor.
I was worried it would be too cold. It wasn’t – I was comfortable in my wetsuit. I was worried it would be really rough. It was pretty choppy, but not awful.
What was tough was the sighting. The buoys were far apart, so it was too easy to sight on the wrong buoy, which I did for a little bit but figured it out before it was too late. Phew. There was another small mishap, but I still managed a 1st place
finish for women 50-54 (w/wetsuit). I can live with that.
BIKE! In July, some friends and I took part in the Rapha Women’s 100, a worldwide event promoting women and cycling. Our event was hosted by The Ride Studio Cafe. We had a choice of distances – 100km or 100 miles – and speed. We did the 100km at a leisurely pace. It was a great day of riding with friends. Next up? The Honey 100 in mid-September: 100km on cross bikes! It’s an off- and on-road adventure, thanks, again, to Ride Studio! I heard such good things about this ride last year, I decided I HAD to do it. And it was a good (?) excuse to buy a new bike!
After that, I’m joining some friends from high school for a charity ride in CT. The Calhoun Cancer Challenge Ride and Walk takes place on October 5th. Some of us are doing the metric century (that would include me) and some team members are opting for the 1/2 metric. 90% of the money raised goes to the cause, so I feel good about taking part. I don’t usually do charity rides because I don’t like fundraising, but the obligation for this one is very manageable. Thanks to everyone who helped me reach my goal!
READ! I’ve read a lot this summer. LOVED Chris Bohjalian’s newest: Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands. But then again, I love everything he writes! I’m currently reading Sally Ride, by Lynn Sherr, and Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaira. Both are great.
and EAT! Unfortunately, I have discovered Ben & Jerry’s Salted Caramel Core ice cream.
SWIM! I’m hoping to do a 5k swim “race”, maybe 2 of them, over the summer. The first opportunity is on June 21st (Mashpee Super Swim), the second is in August (Race for Swim & Fin). We’ll see. I got a 2-mile swim in yesterday, so doing 3 miles in another week could happen… I’m a little nervous, not so much because of the distance, but that it could be choppy, and the water might still be a little chilly. I wore a shorty wetsuit yesterday and was shivering for quite a while after being in the water for an hour.
Yes, I’m a bit of a cold wimp – I think the water temp was around 73F
I figure the 3 miles (3 x 1-mile loops) will take me a about an hour and a half. I just want to settle into a forever pace and not blow out my shoulder (thus the quotation marks around race).
BIKE! I signed up to do the Rapha Women’s 100 on July 20th. I’ll be doing the 101km ride through Ride Studio Cafe with some friends (unless it’s raining). It’s my anniversary, so that’s my husband’s present to me: I get to ride all day. I’ve got the best husband ever!
READ! Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. One of the best books I’ve read in a while.
and Eat! nothing too exciting in the eating department, but we have greens coming up in our garden and it’s grilling season!
I LOVE SUMMER
So what’s all this about mason jar koozies? Apparently the hipsters in Union Square are enjoying their coffee in mason jars these days. My husband, not one to miss out on such a fun fad, told me about it. But glass jars full of coffee are HOT! Enter, the KOOZIE, or COZY. Are koozies only for cold beer? But cozies are for teapots… (they seem to be interchangeable). Anyway, after a few false starts (pics if you’re interested) – one being so small and cone-shaped that it has been re-purposed as a bear hat – I finally got it right. Or at least right enough.
Swim! My old swimp3 died – it wouldn’t hold a charge – so I contacted Finis Inc. and they sent me a new one. I was expecting to get the same kind I sent back, the yellow and black 2g, but when I opened the box, I saw that they had sent me the new Neptune. Hmmm. I wasn’t so sure about this: it looked a little like the original SwimP3 I had oh-so-many years ago: a chunky box-like contraption to clip onto my goggle strap in addition to the ear paddles that I was used to. I kind of liked the streamlined ear paddles + small, light USB port of the 2g. But after trying it out, I’m a convert! The Neptune is really light and the ear paddles are smaller and lighter, too. The sound is great, not that I ever had an issue with the sound in earlier models. And the part that clips to the goggle strap is actually informative! There’s a small screen so I can see what’s playing (if I want to stop and look), and I can choose among playlists and whether to shuffle songs or not. I used to have to guess if shuffle was on by the frequency of the blinking green light. I hope this device lasts a while!
Bike! Spin class is all fine and good, but no comparison to being outside. Except maybe the no cars or pot-holes part… In addition to other rides, for the last couple years I’ve been riding weekly, weather permitting, with a great group of women. We’re compatible in terms of speed, temperament, and desired ride distance, so it works out really well. It’s such a gift to have found the right group. I ride with others, too, and it’s fun, but this group feels like home. Now that it’s finally warm enough, the group is heading out again!
Read! I’ve read quite a lot since I wrote my last blog, so I’ll only mention a few highlights. Thirty Girls, by Susan Minot; Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson; Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman; Swimming Studies, by Leanne Shapton; and Ripper, by Isabel Allende. I also read The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt. A lot of hype about that one, but it didn’t really work for me, and it was too long. Actually a lot of books seem to be a little too long to me lately! Even some of the ones I mention above could have been cut by about 100 pages give or take. Not Shapton’s book though. That one was just about perfect. As a longtime swimmer, I struggle with how competitive swimming fits into my life, so I can relate to what she says (on a completely different ability level, though, of course!)
and EAT! boring, boring, boring. Except for cookies. Oh, and I made a killer Chicken Marbella (mostly like this recipe) for Shady and a friend. I don’t eat chicken, so I didn’t have any, but it smelled really good!
Now what? The race season is over – and has been, for me, for a couple months already. My husband and I went on a VBT cycling trip to Croatia in mid-September – it was fantastic.
And now it’s Fall in New England. There’s still outdoor riding to be done, but it’s definitely getting colder, and I’m not sure how many layers it’s worth putting on! – especially when my feet turn a funny shade of yellow and/or purple, even with shoe covers! So spin classes and gym classes here I come. I’m still trying to venture out of my comfort zone (once in a while) so this might be the year I try a step class. I just hope there’s enough room around me so when I go the wrong way I don’t take anybody out like I almost did in cardiokicks (not pretty) a couple weeks ago. And there’s always the pool.
SWIM: trying to get to the pool 3-4 times per week. That’s the goal, anyway. Sometimes it’s only 2xweek. I didn’t swim much while on vacation, so I’m just starting up again. I do ~2000-3000 yds each time – more often 2k than 3k! Here’s a fun swim workout I did today.
BIKE: hoping for a few more rides outside before heading indoors to spin class hell.
READ: The Shell Collector: Stories, by Anthony Doerr was a really nice collection. Where’d You Go Bernadette, by Maria Semple, was a fun quick read. I’m into Claire Messud right now. I read The Woman Upstairs – wow what well-described rage!, and I just started The Emperor’s Children. I really like her writing. I’m looking forward to reading Survival Lessons, by Alice Hoffman, one of my favorite authors.
and eat! I haven’t been that inspired lately. But I did manage to make jam bars and peanut butter squares (yum), and vegan banana biscuits (from Julie Hasson’s Vegan Diner) recently.
And that’s a wrap. My season is over. Can’t say I’m sad about that. I’ve been struggling with the whole competing thing all summer, and was kind of dreading this race. I was irritable, stressed, cranky. So maybe not too much different from my usual self… (Just kidding?)
Race day Sunday: I had eaten a delicious chocolate espresso brownie a little too late on Saturday, so my sleep sucked, but I don’t sleep well before a race anyway, so it probably didn’t make much difference. That night I just happened to have caffeinated bad sleep instead of just regular bad sleep. Moving ahead… Up at 4:15am, out the door at 5. The weather seemed good, although it was dark, so I couldn’t be sure. I saw stars though, a good sign. An hour drive to the Ted Williams Camp in Lakeville, MA for Sun Multisport’s Cranberry Trifest. Set up, stress, wander around, stress, talk to Team EnVision teammates, shiver in the cold, stress some more. There were 4 TE women doing the aquabike (25 women aquabikers total), 4 doing the full olympic tri and 2 joining together to do a relay. A good team turnout!
The race: .9 mile swim, but most people agree it felt short. Last year the pond was really shallow and a lot of folks ended up running (swimming?) aground, but the water seemed a little deeper this year. There was only one, well-marked, problem area that was easy to avoid. I was in the last wave: aquabikers and relays. It was a small manageable wave, and by the time I started swimming through the group ahead of me, it was easy to weave in, out, and around flailing arms and beating legs. The longer races are nice that way – athletes get spread out. Out of the water in 19:18 (first of the aquabikers, thank you very much!), skipped up the stone stairs without falling, phew!, all the way to the back of transition and on to the bike. If I do this again (what?!), I should probably get different bike shoes. The tongue gets in the way, and it’s hard to pull out when it gets mushed down there trapped by my wet foot. Ran the bike out of transition, kept running by the people stopping to get on their bikes and HURLED myself on the bike. Pedal, pedal, pedal, get moving! Only to be held up after maybe a mile or two – HEY! – by a police officer letting the accumulated traffic go. ARGGHH! Frustrating, yes, and it probably cost me a place (no doubt I would have been 4th for the women instead of 5th), but you never know what will happen on race day and you just have to go with it.
26.2 miles of mostly flat terrain with some rolling hills. If I was more leisurely about it, I would have noticed the beautiful ponds and fields we rode through. I hear it’s very pretty in the Lakeville, Marlboro area! Gasping for breath, trying to inhale a gu (yum, salted caramel), occasionally taking a sip of water, I finished with a bike split of 1:23:47 (good for 15th out of the 34 aquabikers), for a total time of 1:45:22 and 5th place (by a second). All of my splits were faster this year than last – that was my goal, so yeah for me! And no run. Double yeah! I’m sure my shorty wetsuit helped with the swim (I didn’t wear it last year), but faster is still faster! Another goal was to finish no more than 15 minutes behind my sister, and I did that, too. She’s a solid swimmer and kicks ass on the bike – she placed 2nd. I believe she caught up and flew past me at around mile 11 (she says it was closer to mile 13, but whatever).
Will I race next year? I’m not sure. I’ve been so ambivalent, and even negative, that maybe I should take time off from competing. I really enjoy swimming and biking with my friends and teammates, so perhaps I’ll leave it at that for a while. I want to keep it fun.
Special thanks to Greg M Cooper Photography for use of his photos. Thanks, also, to Paula and Trinity for their pictures.
SWIM – BIKE One more race to go for the season. I’ve been dreading, I mean looking forward to, this one for a while now. On August 25th I’m doing an Olympic distance Aquabike, which means .9 mile swim followed by a 26.2 mile bike, and NO run. Hurray for no running (I should probably say “no hobbling”)! I did the full Oly tri last year, so I have an idea of how I’d like to do on the swim and bike legs. And without having to slog through a 10K after riding, who knows? I just might be a little quicker. That would be nice. We’ll see. Anything can happen on race day. Oh, did I mention my sister is competing in this too? Yikes! Well, not really. She kicks my ass in biking. I should be out of the water first, but I’ll be watching for her to fly past me pretty directly. Luckily my ego can handle it.
Damage report to follow.
READ The Shell Collector: Stories, by Anthony Doerr
Beautifully written, emotionally rich. A really nice change from creepy, dark, and twisted Gillian Flynn! Whose books I loved, by the way.
EAT! I made a couple batches of jalapeno cornbread. YUM! But I need to get over my fear of using too much jalapeno. First batch had no bite at all and the second had a little heat, but could use EVEN more. I’ll get it.
I’m going to make espresso brownies for a party later in the week. I hope they come out ok.