Sunday, November 30, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

I started re-reading Eat, Pray, Love. It's funny how things take on different meaning when you're in a different point in your life. Although I loved the book, the first time I read it, I thought that the author was whiny and self-indulgent. This time I find myself empathizing with her. It's a funny old life, innit?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Yoga and two weeks off the bike

When my coach told me to take two weeks off the bike, I thought he was crazy. I didn't want to have to take the bus to work every day and I didn't want to miss out on riding with my friends. But then I had some upheaval in my personal life that left me questioning my priorities, and it didn't seem like such a bad idea after all.

So I went back to yoga.

Wow, did I miss it. I can't believe that I gave up my regular yoga practice to race my bike. Don't get me wrong, I love bike racing and I'm certainly not ready to 'retire' yet, but I'm going to have to find a way to make yoga a weekly ritual (at the least) whille I train and race.

Bike racing is fun, but yoga grounds me. I feel it to the very core of my body, mind, and soul. It gives me peace.

It makes me feel connected - to myself and to the universe. It forces me to be in the present. I have no choice but to channel all of my focus on the perfection of whatever asana I am practicing and to let go of everything else.

It let's me simply be.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lowell Shedd Park Cyclocross Race

(All photos courtesy of Geoff Martin: &
Lowell was my last race of the year. I went into the race hoping to perform similarly to the previous week at Plymouth South, were my legs felt good and I enjoyed the technical stuff. Unfortunately, I miscalculated about the weather. When I left my house it was 60 degrees. I didn't realize how quickly the temperature was going to drop, and when I got to the venue it was pretty chilly. I hadn't brought knee warmers or my winter team jacket. All I had were arm warmers and a wind vest. Yikes! So I put those on and got out on the course as quickly as possible for a warmup and preview. Unfortunately there was a race on before mine, so I only had about 15 minutes for recon. I quickly realized that I was still VERY cold. I put some embrocation on my legs, but it was only for mild conditions, and I could barely feel it. I went to register, got pinned, chatted with teammates, and then went to continue warming up. The wind was so strong and so cold that I didn't ever really get properly warm. I was shivering when I lined up at the start and wasn't feeling too well.

I didn't get a good jump off the line and when we came around to the u-turn around the big tree, someone went down in the chaos, forcing me off my bike. I ran around the tree, then had issues getting back on my bike and clipped in. I slogged across the field and up the muddy incline, where I felt like the ground was sucking me down into it. When we got to the first run up, I tried to ride it because I was able to in the course preview, but my heart and lungs were about to burst and I just couldn't turn the pedals over. I had to get off and walk the rest of the incline. I did all right in the twisty sections, then fumbled my remount after the second run up. Coming into the mud, I decided to try to ride it. I have been practicing riding in mud recently, so thought, why not? I am proud to say that I rode the mud successfully! Of my 4 lap race, I only put a foot down one time in the muddy section. Needless to say, it was so nice that there were so many people there cheering. They seemed to give extra cheers and motivation to those of us who attempted to ride it. Personally, riding the mud was WAY faster then the folks that were running it, plus it was a lot more fun than trudging through mud up to your ankles. ;-)

The next three laps were pretty uneventful. I found myself in no man's land. Couldn't see anyone ahead or behind, and I suppose that made me lose some motivation. Also, my legs just wouldn't go. Every time I finished a technical section and knew that I had to sprint out of a corner, or push as hard as I could on the track, I just couldn't do it. Nothing there. It was disappointing, to say the least. On my third lap at one point where the course doubled back on itself, I saw the person behind me getting lapped by the leader. Although they were a long, long way away, I decided then and there that I didn't want to get lapped at my last race! So I picked it up a bit and was never really in any danger of getting lapped. I completed my last lap pretty slowly but satisfied that I hadn't been lapped and reveling in the mud riding.

I look forward to a nice rest and an active winter of fun cross training (mountain biking, xc skiing, swimming, snowboarding, show shoeing, yoga) and getting out on the bike whenever I can.

Here's to a great road and cross season in 2009!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Plymouth South Race Report

Well, it was nice to finish in the top 10 instead of 40 something (or 50 something)! Granted this was a Cat 4 only race and there were only 17 competitors... but still... it felt good. It was fun to hear Geoff and Cathy R shouting "you're in the top 10!" as I came by them - I think it inspired me to keep going faster than I might have otherwise. Thanks for the encouragement!

When I previewed the course the first time I was a little scared about how slippery it seemed. Everything was still wet from the last couple of days of rain, and there were lots of tight twisty corners. There were also quite a few short power climbs, which was interesting. On the second warm-up lap I started to loosen up a bit and found I could take the corners tighter and faster. The third time, I only practiced the technical sections and was happy to be able to ride up all the hills. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do that in the race or not, but wanted to give it a shot.

On the start line, I stood next to Leah, who was really, really nervous. I tried to "talk her down", but I don't think it had much effect, sadly. However, she rallied enough to grab the hole shot at the start. I think she held it for half of the first lap - that was cool!
The first off-road section of hairpins was carnage as expected. I think I managed to get around a few people here. Then I passed a few in the sand, and the first power climb, which I could ride. Coming onto the flat grass section, I drafted Emily C. and then passed her on the dirt. I don't know when she passed me back though - the results have her finishing ahead of me. I made it just to the top of the climb by the football stands, but was forced to dismount by other riders in the way. I think I passed someone at the barriers, and then going down the slippery tight turn before the finish, I saw Leah wipe out (oh no!) but was able to get around her without going down myself. The next lap I don't remember so well. I think I might have gotten passed by Rebekah and Alison on the flat bits during this lap, but not sure. I rode all the climbs again (well, except for the one after the stadium with the tires - I never did get that one right).

Janet L and I duked it out a little bit playing leapfrog.
On the
last lap I was following Janet after she passed me at the barriers (need to get better at this!), planning to stay on her wheel and then sprint it out for the finish, but she took the super muddy corner at a bad angle for me, and my back wheel slid out and I nearly went down, but instead went off the course (flags, not tape, luckily) and then got back on track, but had lost her wheel. I just didn't have enough oomph to catch her before the finish. Oh well. All in all a great race for me since I actually passed a lot of people instead of the other way around. Hooray for the technical sections! :-) I ended up in 10th place, according to the results they posted at the race, but they still have not posted the results up on BikeReg, unfortunately.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Book review

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This book was a little difficult to read, but very intriguing. I felt that I learned a lot about the history of the Dominican Republic during the course of reading the book, which I enjoyed. My difficulty came from the copious use of Spanish slang. There were many sentences in the book that I did not understand. There were also many references to role playing games, Lord of the Rings, and science fiction, most of which I did understand, but I think it would make it more difficult for someone who is not as familiar with that sort of thing. Very interesting plot, though. I was never really sure where it was going to go.

View all my reviews.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Welcome to my new blog

Well if my mom (who's in her 70s) can have a blog, then so can I! I wonder what I shall write about...