Friday, February 27, 2009

Maui Trip - Part 1

Geoff and I went to Maui the 3rd week of January to meet up with my parents. It was snowing fast and furiously the morning we left. Our 6:15am flight was delayed about 20 minutes for runway clearing and/or de-icing. We were lucky we got out - I heard that other flights were canceled that day.

We had a 2 1/2 hour flight to Chicago, then a 9 1/2 hour flight from Chicago to Maui. It was a long second leg, but we were on a 777 and it was relatively comfortable.

I had my nosed pressed against the window the whole time we were over the Rockies - it was so fun to see them from above, all covered in snow. We also flew over San Francisco, which was a treat. I've never been there, but would love to go one day. I took quite a few photos from the plane.

We arrived in Maui around 4pm and were pretty tired. We went to pick up our rental car and the office was seriously crowded. They must have had an influx of winter weather escapees, because the only cars they had left were luxury models. They told us that we had to take a black Lincoln Town Car or wait another hour or more.

So we drove the behemoth about 3 miles to the hotel in Kahului where we were staying for the night, checked in, attempted to park without hitting anything, changed into flip flops, strolled on the beach, took photos, then went to the local mall to stock up on sunscreen and find something to eat.

Monday morning we went back to the car rental office and exchanged the mafia mobile for a Mazda M6, which was much more comfortable for us - easier to maneuver on the twisty coastal and mountain roads.

We headed over to the Iao Valley State Monument to check out the Iao Needle and learn a little bit about the island's history. We were lucky to get in and out just before a large tour bus from one of the cruise ships arrived. Then we headed over to the beautiful Maui Tropical Plantation for lunch, where we our first (and possibly best) smoothies of the vacation.

After lunch we drove around to the west side of the island, where we would be staying with my parents for the rest of the week. We stopped at West Maui Cycles to pick up Geoff's rental bike, then headed to the timeshare resort on Kaanapali Beach.

My parents had reserved a beautiful oceanfront room with wonderful views of Molokai across the water. We unpacked some stuff and headed to dinner.

Iao Valley & Molokai photos.

End of Part 1, more to come.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


This is what my hair looked like this morning - for those of you that have been wondering.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Last minute decision

When I was planning my weekend, the forecast for Saturday was high wind and for Sunday they were predicting snow. Since I had a 1pm hair appointment on Saturday, I decided to do a trainer workout and planned to snowshoe or xc ski on Sunday.

I was surprised to wake up Sunday morning to see that it was dry. Unfortunately I had slept really late, wasting most of the dry time, as the rain was due to start around noon.

I wasn't sure what to do - I thought about going to the gym to do a session on a spin bike, but after being on the trainer twice this week, I didn't really want another day indoors. In the meantime, Geoff had gotten dressed and ready to ride, which helped to inspire me to get out on the road while I could. I scurried around getting ready, found my Showers Pass rain jacket, and put the fenders on.

I thought that I'd just do an hour or an hour and a half, so I headed out through Belmont and Lexington into Lincoln. I planned to loop back through Waltham, but I was having a really nice ride and it wasn't raining yet, so instead I turned towards Sudbury and Wayland.

About 15 minutes after I made that decision, it started raining. It was really gentle at first and I almost didn't notice. Then after a while I realized that my glasses and computer screen were wet, then finally my legs felt clammy and chilly.

At 1.5 hours I stopped near a flock of shaggy sheep to have some Sport Beans (and take a picture). It was a mistake, though, because it made me very cold and I lost my ability to spin fast.

I headed straight home from there, but it still left me with at 2.5 hour ride for the day - about twice as long as I thought I'd do when I left the house.

Time for a new look

Those of you that have known me for a long time understand that I get bored easily and need to change my hair drastically every once in a while. I used to change it regularly with the seasons, every 3-6 months or so. Blond in the spring & summer, red in the fall, brown in the winter. Since I started bike racing I haven't really had the opportunity to keep up with it as much, because I don't have time for anything other than cycling, working, eating and sleeping.

Yesterday I finally went to Maria at Hair Pluss after not having had scissors to my hair since September. I am no longer blond and have funky razor-cut layers. It's a really nice change, although I keep catching sight of my reflection and wondering, "Hey - who's that'?

Most of the people that I know get used to this about me, but I just realized that the people in my 2-session cooking class don't have a chance. In the first class they met a blond, and this week they're all going to ask me who I am and why I didn't come to the last class.


p.s. Those interested are welcome to view 10 years of my different looks. I really should add more, because the last 10 years haven't really been that different, but the older photos need to be turned into pixels.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back pain is not fun

I have been having back spasms on and off ever since that difficult 12-hour overnight journey from Maui to SF, SF to Boston. I feel the need to blame the back spasms on the flight, since it was so horrible and cramped and uncomfortable. I don't understand why for the same length and the same distance (and did I mention that it was OVERNIGHT) we had to change in San Francisco from a nice, roomy 777 to something tiny, cramped, and horrible. I was squeezed in the middle seat and I could not get comfortable. Every time I fell asleep I woke up immediately due to random pain or numbness or cramping in some part of my body.

Two days later, as I was wrestling with a spin bike to raise the seat - SNAP! My back went out. Holy *&%$!, it was painful! I really should have gone straight home. That's what any sane person (read: non-cyclist) would have done. But I keep thinking that I am an athlete, so I got on the bike and began the class. It hurt so much at first, but then settled down to a dull ache after a while. Probably the endorphins kicked in and I didn't feel it so much.

The next day I could hardly walk. I had to take a day off work and go to the physical therapist. After a propitious spinal crack, the acute pain was gone and I felt lot better. I thought I was going to be fine, so I went back to my normal activities.

The next week it happened again (but not as acutely), and it has repeated for the past two weeks. There's a pattern here. Every Thursday or Friday, my back goes out. It's unlikely it's still fallout from the flight. Rather, I think that it's being aggravated by my activities. The most likely culprit is lifting weights on Wednesdays.

So I will stop doing lower body weights and see what happens. Hopefully that will make the difference.

On Saturday I went to my first Rolfing session, which was extremely helpful, but also quite painful. Hopefully it will help get my back into alignment and stable again. It was strange but nice to have a weekend day off the bike, and I felt awfully guilty about it.

Sunday I did a 40 mile ride with Janet and Christine. I met them in Lexington Center and we did a 27.5 mile loop from there into Lincoln, Sudbury & Wayland. For those who are interested, here's the route:

The good news is that cycling doesn't aggravate the back spasms. Unfortunately what does aggravate it is lifting and twisting. So it's difficult for me to carry around the laundry basket, pick up either of our (15 lb) cats, or take the vacuum cleaner up and down the stairs. (The kitten only weighs 8-9 lbs, so he's still fair game.)

Regrettably, the advanced, aspiring-teacher yoga class that I have been meaning to attend has been out of the question. On the two Fridays when the class was scheduled, I was having the worst pain. I'm almost wondering if my body is trying to sabotage me. Perhaps it's implying that I'm not ready for it yet and that I have more work to do before I start.

The next class is the first Friday in March and I'm going to do all I can to protect my back and get to 100% again so that I can finally go. I also intend to practice holding headstand and shoulder-stand for 3-5 minutes at a time. It's a course requirement, and while I'm "pretty sure" that I can do it, it would be better to "know" that I can do it.

I really do hope I can get the back spasms under control. It's difficult to feel somewhat impaired, but I'm grateful that it's not stopping me from cycling. As I have been looking forward to spring and being able to spend more time outside on my bike, I was recently reminded that it's only a few weeks until Daylight Savings Time begins, which means that it will be increasingly warmer and lighter and the racing will start again!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Loving the warm weather

What a nice weekend! I took advantage of the warmer weather and got out on my road bike both days this weekend. On Saturday I did a quick 18 mile solo ride and on Sunday I rode out to Lexington Center to do a group ride with my favorite girls from the cross season. Loraine, Leah, Christine, Janet R and I rode over to Trapelo Road and up to Walden Pond, across to Concord Center, then down 62 into Bedford, then over the Col du Lexington (Page Hill) and back to Lex Center. We clocked in around 22 miles. My personal total was 38 miles for the day.

It was extremely melty and although most of us were sporting fenders, the spray coming off the bikes was still epic. When I got home and saw my face I burst out laughing. I had speckles of mud all over it and I even had some on my teeth. Christine described it perfectly when she said she looked like a chimney sweep. We saw Jean C in Concord Center and we couldn't believe how clean she looked. Guess you get to stay that way when you don't have yourself glued to someone's wheel. :-)

I hosed down my bike when I got home and it almost looks new again. It was a great ride and so much fun to be out with friends I hadn't seen since my last cross race in November.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Where's your tan?

"Hey Kathy, where's your tan?" was the question I was asked by my friend Harry W only one day after returning from a week on Maui. "I am tan!" was my response.

It's really difficult to get a tan when you slather yourself from head to toe in SPF 50. But it's even more difficult to get a tan if your skin starts out being the color of parchment paper. The only person I've ever seen with a complexion paler than mine was an albino girl who I met in college.

I was explaining to my friend Monica at lunch the other day (who also asked, "Where's your tan?"), that when I am at my "most" tan, I am still slightly lighter than a light-skinned Italian. The difference is that I will have freckles, but the Italian will not.

When I was in high school, my locker was next to a boy who I once held hands with in junior high - but I didn't want to "go steady" with him and he resented it. Every single school day, for four years, he greeted me with, "Hi Ghost", referring of course to my translucent skin.

When you're a teenager and you're just a little bit insecure about your looks and it's the mid-80s with the perils of skin cancer yet to be taken seriously-- you want to be tan like everyone else. You don't want to be a ghost.

Some of the things that I did to myself included turning myself a putrid shade of orange with chemicals from a bottle and baking myself to the color of a lobster in a tanning bed.

I remember arguing with Monica (who has beautiful golden-brown skin) about going to the outdoor pool in the summer. On my tan-quest, I wanted to go to the outside pool to get burned and freckled. Monica's quest was different from mine - she wanted to go to the indoor pool so that she didn't get any darker. Go figure. (Monica, if you're reading this I hope you don't mind me giving away your childhood secrets!)

I think the turning point for me and my search for a tan came when I went to Hawaii for Christmas break with my family. We were in Hawaii for two weeks, and I dedicated a part of every day to lying in the sun trying to get some color. I was so thrilled the day we left, because I was absolutely the darkest I have ever been in my life. I couldn't wait to get back to see the pasty faces of all my friends who had stayed in the frozen tundra.

While we waited for our flight to board, I went into the airport shop and bought something to eat. As I was at the register, the saleswoman reached over to me, touched my arm, looked at me quite sincerely and said, "Don't worry Honey, by the time you leave you'll have a tan."

Shock. Horror. Shame. Devastation. Self-pity. Hopelessness.

I can't remember if I burst into tears in front of her or waited until I got out of the shop. Needless to say it hurt. A lot. It was probably the worst thing that had ever happened to me at the time, but now I think it's absolutely hysterical. In the end, it made me realize that it didn't matter what I did, I was never going to have the lovely golden-brown skin that I so coveted.

So now I don't really bother, because, what's the point? I've been burned too many times to want to ever take the chance of it happening again, so I wear SPF 40, 50, 60 or whatever it takes. Unfortunately, I also make mistakes, so I do sometimes get burned and peel and feel miserable about it.

But the point is that I have fair skin, and I will always have fair skin. I can't change it. If I'm not careful I will burn and if I am careful I will have a lot of freckles. If you're far enough away or if you squint a little the freckles might blur together and give the appearance of a tan, but I know that's not what it is.

Science has come a long way since I was 15 years old, and getting a tan from a bottle is better than it used to be. They've fixed the orange problem, but they haven't done anything about the smell. I'll admit that a couple of times a year I get a little vain and resort to self-tanner products. However, I just can't keep it going because I can't take the smell. I suffer through it for about a week and then I can't stand it anymore, so it just fades away again.

I actually did this for the Maui trip a few weeks ago. I decided to get a spray-tan before we left. My reasoning for this was not entirely selfish, however. In fact it was rather altruistic. The reason that I got a spray-tan before I went to Hawaii last month was to save the eyesight of the people of Maui.


Here's my reasoning. My skin is white. White reflects. Hawaii is VERY sunny. The Hawaiian sun hitting my skin will be reflected into people's eyeballs, and they will go blind. Ergo I must have a spray-tan. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? I know, I know - brilliant logic.

Anyway, I got the spray-tan. It smelled bad, but looked pretty good... for about 3 days. Then it started to fade away... unevenly.

Yeah. It was gross. All the places that were rough (knees, ankles, elbows) were still really dark, but the rest of me was getting lighter and lighter. After a while it just got funny. I left Hawaii lighter than the day I arrived. I'm probably the only person to ever have done that.

So it just comes back to the same thing over and over: I don't tan.

Accept it and move on. What is it they say, "Love the skin you're in"?

Yep. Got it!