Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Help please...

OK, all you internet gurus. I gotta set up a new high speed internet account at my new digs.

Cable or DSL connection? If you're adamant about one over the other, why?

I won't have a phone land line, just my cell.

And I'm trying to avoid Comcast if possible.

Midtown Atlantians are most welcome to weigh in...


Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Fun - Especially for Children of the 80s...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention...

I've been pretty disconnected from the news lately - my aunt made me aware of this story today and it made me sick and afraid. How are we letting history repeat itself in realms like this? It doesn't make any sense to me.

PLEASE take the time to read about these kids and sign the petition.


Read the NAACP's report on the whole situation here.

You can get to the online petition from either of the above links but just in case you miss it, it's HERE. SIGN IT.

The national media has been unusually quiet about this story. Go figure. If you have a blog, use it to educate your friends and others. If we can't go mainstream, take it to the underground. It's too important.

Use your voice to stand up for these kids and their civil rights. When it's time for others to stand up for your civil rights, there might not be anyone left.

Monday, July 23, 2007

How come...

...when I'm riding my bike NORTH, it always feels like I'm climbing??

Friday, July 20, 2007

Where in the World...

Where I'm going, there are lots of these:

Training this week is taking a back seat to the torrential downpours and fierce thunderstorms. Finally a break in the action today might actually get me out on my bike. Here's hopin'. Maybe it's been a sign that I was supposed to take it easy after the century.

BLou's ribs are slowly healing. Another week and she'll be chomping at the bit to get on the trainer.

My response to that, "SLOW DOWN THE'A, GUNPOWDA!!!"

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Damn, this is cool...

This You Tube video is titled "What Happens When Graphic Artists Get Bored."

It's also clue #1 about what the near future holds for me... Where, when, why and how will become more clear in the next few weeks so stay tuned...

...and train hard!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

2007 Audrey Prouty Century Ride Report

I did it! 100 miles. Not sure I could've conceived of that distance only a few short years ago. And I felt REALLY good the whole time... SWEET.

AND, I raised $1095 to go toward cancer research!!! EXTRA special thanks to all who donated to my ride. The goal for the event, in its 26th year, was $1.5 million... they're still counting all the donations but on event day, they'd reached $1.6 million and past years have shown that typically between $300K and $400K come in on the actual day of the event from last minute donations and registrants. And these totals are from individual contributions and don't include the corporate sponsors. Overall, it looks to be more than $2 million raised for cancer research! I'll watch the totals as they become available and report back. It was a banner day!! Thanks again to all who contributed. It means a lot!!

OK, so the report...

My riding partner, BLou, and I started the day at 4:50 am when the alarm woke us out of a hazy sleep. It had finally stopped raining and while the sun hadn't yet poked over the horizon, we could tell it would be a fantastic day.

Some of you know that I'm not a very peppy morning person. I'd really really like to be. I'm still in transition and triathlon is certainly helping my progress but overall, I'd much rather snuggle back under the warm covers, see you after 8, thank you very much. So 4:50 isn't my greatest hour. BUT, it was Saturday... and it was EVENT day.

Recall Shel Silverstein:

"I cannot go to school today,"

Said little Peggy Ann McKay.

"I have the measles and the mumps,

A gash, a rash and purple bumps.


and she goes on and on about why she can't go to school until:

... I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?

What's that? What's that you say?

You say today is. . .Saturday?

G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

Yeah, that was me.


I can't really explain why I was so excited but I was. I really wanted to know how it would feel, being out there for 7-8 hours. I felt strong and rested and ready for the day and it was time to have preparation meet opportunity, as Bold would put it. I had decided that I would use this day as a nutrition and pacing test for Timberman, my first half ironman (aiye, which is coming right up!!!) My TM goal is to finish in under 7 hours so I really needed to know how it would feel to be "on my feet" for that long. AND how a nutrition plan would shake out.*

(*aside: last week I did a 60 mile ride that was BRUTAL as far as hills - it had two climbs that were over 5 miles long and one other with a 13% grade. It started pouring about 25 miles in and the temperature dropped about 15 degrees. I was eating clif blocks and drinking gatorade and had what I thought was a reasonable amount of fuel on board. And I BONKED, big time. Serious bonk. Like, dizzy, black spots, can't take another step, getting off my bike NOW bonk. Sheesh. Have not experienced going from 60 to ZERO in the space of 2 minutes. It's HORRIBLE. I had to bail around mile 56 and BLou went to get the truck to pick me up. Maybe having to work to stay warm burned a whole bunch of extra calories. Who knows. It was NOT pleasant. Alas, a big part of the 100 mile ride would be to make sure there were enough calories on board. Now, back to your regularly scheduled report... )

OK, so the plan was in place for the day. I was fired up. We ate a good breakfast and were headed to the start by 5:30 to meet up with Tomomma, aka Badass Runrgurl, aka CB, by 6:15. All of us had registered the day before so we could just head right out and head we did.

Riding by 6:14, CB, BLou and I were happy to be on the road. There were lots of other century riders getting going that early too and we were psyched to have so much company. This ride also offers a 50 mile and 25 mile bike option as well as a fitness walk... most of those folks would be getting started a little bit later. The CT River valley is almost always foggy on cool summer mornings so for the first 20 miles or so, we rode in a damp fog. It almost always burns off by 9 each morning... but we were a good 3 hours from 9!

BLou in the fog (photo by Dan Grossman)

a small pack of foggy riders (photo by Dan Grossman)

We zoomed thru the first SAG stop at mile 10 feeling great. There were groups of riders, presumably teams that had entered together so they'd ride together and we'd hop on their pace lines for a bit and then let them pull ahead. I was aware that as a triathlete, drafting wasn't something I really needed to be practicing for and that my training would be stronger and more realistic if I avoided it. BUT, this day was also about just riding and being out there and thinking about all the people who couldn't be. Besides, drafting is as much fun as ANY amusement park ride is to an 8 year old. I had yet to TRULY experience it's power.

We passed by the 2nd SAG stop at mile 17 and began the first big climb still feeling fresh. We were now leaving the river valley for the mountains and soon realized that we were about to climb out of the fog into a bright sunshiny day. It was pretty incredible ascending Mt. Cube into pools of early morning sunlight. I was conscious of not pushing too hard and just tried to hold a steady and high cadence - somewhere above 80, optimally above 90. The climbs went slowly but I felt strong and so so happy to be outside in the beautiful mountains. There were signs along the route that had cute little rhymes and poems that were supposed to keep you smiling and motivated. I passed a few people that seemed kinda grumpy and tried cheering them up with some sarcasm about what ugly scenery we were riding by... I dont' think they got it. They were just grumpy. Not enough hill training, apparently! We also passed an older couple riding a tandem recumbent bike. WHOA!! Totally impressive.

(photo by Dan Grossman)

At the top of the climb was SAG #3 and we stopped to fill and drain liquids. The sun was out in full force here and would be for the rest of the day. Kids from one of the residential summer camps were staffing the stop and were totally enthusiastic and comical. They were "selling" sunscreen, pb & j wedges and candy bites as if they were working the stands at Fenway and having a blast! I was struck, at every station we stopped at, by the volunteers who, when I thanked them, they would look at me with a funny expression and say, "No, thank YOU for being out here riding." As if it were a ridiculous thing that I was thanking them for supporting me. It felt pretty good and kept the whole experience in perspective for me. It was much bigger than just the training ride I had planned for the day... we were part of a larger whole and it felt good to belong and contribute.

New pavement just after SAG #3 made for a speedy and thrilling descent - for what goes up must come down (if you want to check out the elevation profile, click on the map and then check the box on the left side that says "display elevation"). The sun was bright but the air was still cool and the route shady so we were pretty comfortable overall. It was right about now that I started to appreciate the value of Chamois Buttr. Pretty amazing stuff! I was skeptical but will not doubt again...

We hit the next turn to the north and started climbing steadily up the Mt. Moosilauke Highway. The views were spectacular (I didn't have a camera but the World Wide Web is pretty amazing):

And here's a shot of a section of the road - at around mile 45:

Along this stretch, we were swept up by a group of about 8 riders - big guys - who blew by us and without saying much, paused just enough to show us they thought we should hop on their train and then proceeded to carry us along at about 22 mph for a good ten miles. UNreal. Like I said, I hadn't really experienced more than 1 or 2 people in a pace line... and this, THIS was like The Tour. We were a peloton of about 10 and it was REALLY fun - just getting pulled along. It certainly requires quite a bit of concentration, care and trust but once you get the feel for it - HOLY COW. We rotated leaders and I led the pack for a few miles with another guy who turned out to be on my swim team (it's amazing how different people look when not in their speedos). The road had a super wide shoulder so we could be two or three abreast and still be between the white line and the edge so it was ideal. The pavement was also super smooth. We sucked up almost every rider we passed and by the time we got to the next SAG stop at around mile 50, we had grown to about 20 riders. We came piling in to the stop with the biggest grins on our faces. Something I won't soon forget.

At times, it was pretty scary though - after awhile the road narrowed and the pavement reverted to potholes, vertical fissures and frost heaves... and I was quite a bit less comfortable. I discovered that you can still get into the slipstream by hanging just off the back, far enough that you can see the road you're about to ride over, not so close that you're IN the pothole before you see it. My lack of experience left me feeling uneasy that I would mess up and hurt someone else...

So my plan for nutrition called for 200-300 calories per hour and I wanted to try to stick to what I thought I'd be able to carry on my bike for Timberman. So, I let myself have things from the SAG stops only at times when I might've been passing thru transition during the HIM. The Hammer gels I brought fit in my shirt pockets and were going down well with Gatorade... plus two halves of pb&j on english muffin also fit just fine and were easy to access. I did best with pb&j on wheat which was available at every SAG stop... after 4 hours of riding, I stopped worrying about whether I was eating what I brought or what the SAG offered... Timberman will have me on the bike for 3.5 hours so I felt confident that I would be able to fuel well for that time. I will likely have a sandwich in T2 as I head out on the run and follow it up with gels over the half marathon. By mile 90, I was still feeling fresh and well nourished... on the whole, I could tell when I was starting to get hungry and could head it off before I'd gone too far toward the bonk. Lots of confidence on this plan now - but I will of course continue to refine it.

We wanted to stick with the huge pack so hopped on our bikes just before they seemed to be heading out. CB wasn't as comfortable riding with a group as BLou and I were so we just decided to play it by ear... BLou and I stayed with them for a bit, lost them on a hill, caught them again with some help from my aero position and then finally gave up trying to stay with them - they were just moving a little faster than we could sustain. We had backed off and were catching our breath - just BLou and I with CB a ways back but in view, when things went south.

We'd been concentrating in the pack for so long that once we were on our own again, complacency set in. The scenery was beautiful, there was a light headwind and puffy white clouds with bright sunshine...it's SO easy to let your guard down and lose focus for a split second. B was behind me, just over my shoulder or so I thought, when I heard that horrible sound of tangling bike and human hitting the ground. ugh. SUCH a terrible sound. She had just grazed my rear wheel and then gone down - luckily into the grass on the right side of the road - but very hard. I stopped immediately and ran back, telling her not to move. She was pretty tangled in her bike and trying to catch her breath. CB pulled up having seen the whole thing and asked a passing motorist to call 9-1-1.

Pretty quickly a support van came by and it turned out we were only about a quarter mile from the next SAG stop and the ambulance was hanging out there. I used to be an EMT so had a pretty good idea that B was ok - her ABC's checked out as she was talking (and was PISSED - that's always a good sign when hurt people have enough energy to be pissed... unless they're combative - then that's not good...heh) in the 5 minutes while waited for the medics, and she had no neck pain but we kept her still anyway. Her chief complaint was rib pain - upper right side - and she couldn't comfortably take a deep breath. Ayie. Not a good presentation at the 60 mile mark of a century ride. Because she had fallen on the grass, there was only minimal road rash so that was a plus.

The medics were set to put her on a backboard and do the whole shebang, which I knew would just bum her out more but I kept my mouth shut and just asked what she felt like she wanted to do. She asked if she could try to sit up so they cleared her neck and she was able to actually get up. I think she was considering trying to go on, but after a few more minutes of letting the hurt sink in, she decided to go get checked out at the hospital, which was thankfully only a mile up the road. She insisted that I keep riding with CB, was totally relieved that she hadn't taken me down with her, and she put on a brave face as they closed the ambulance doors. The perfect day wasn't quite so perfect any more.

CB's hubby TB had planned to meet us at the upcoming SAG and ride the last 40 miles with us so when we were a little past our ETA, he started to worry... and then saw the ambulance pull out and heard the radio crackling about a rider down - and of course assumed the worst. So he rode at mach 12 and found us just as CB was pulling up - it was nice to have one more person for moral support. Once the ambulance had pulled away, we made plans with the support van to transport the bike back and then we got back on the road. I was a little shaken but BLou is tough and I knew that she'd be much more pissed off than hurt or upset. Somehow that made me feel better.

The rest of the ride was as beautiful as the first half. The wind started to pick up but we were back down in the river valley so there were just small rollers and long stretches of flat to contend with. We mostly stayed as a threesome but tagged along with a few different pace lines and groups. We had returned to the part of the route that the 50 mile riders were on so we started to pass much slower groups, kids, and lots of mountain bikes. Plus, it was closer to lunchtime so the traffic had picked up and there was a lot to pay attention to.

I was feeling pretty strong still and kind of marveled at that fact for awhile. My legs felt good, I still had power and was having a really easy time keeping my cadence above 90 for the most part. I fell behind on a hill at one point and TB came back to get me, said "Hop on" and within 5 minutes we had caught CB and were together again.

I said to him, "HOW cool is it that you can just pull me along at that pace and we make up that much ground??"

His reply, "How cool is it that you're at mile 85 of a bike ride and you can sustain 23 mph for 5 minutes while we make up that much ground??" Heh. Yeah, you're right, I thought. Pretty damn cool.

We stopped at the last SAG, got more liquids and had some pictures taken:

me 'n CB (photo by Dan Grossman)

CB 'n TB (photo by Dan Grossman)

My fuel situation was still perfect and I felt tired but great. My butt was the most sad of any body part. And my shoulders weren't all that comfy either. I think if I ever attempt an ironman, I'll need a slightly different aero setup because my upper back and neck were screaming toward the end. Not sure if it's fit or just that I need to spend more time in that position...it'd be nice to think it was just fit though.

The last 5 miles of the route took us right down along the river and we just kinda rolled on thru. TB was schooling me on how to tackle the tiny hills - keeping myself in a higher gear and standing to power thru them so as to maintain my momentum. I see the benefit but wonder how taxing my legs like that on the bike would translate to the run in a tri. I'm curious about specific bike techniques for tri - I know that a high cadence in a lower gear is beneficial in saving your legs for later... any other tips?

With about two miles to go, a green pickup passed us carrying BLou, who booyaa-ed out the window at us. I was SO relieved to see and hear her - and to see that she was ok and in good spirits. She wound up with two broken ribs and a handful of pretty impressive bruises. It's been a rough few days for her but today she's finally starting to be able to take deeper breaths. Sneezing will have to wait another week or two though. I'm looking forward to the return of my biking partner. It'll be all I can do to keep her off the trainer for another few days. Crazy cyclists...

Oh, as you can see from the map data, the route is about 3 miles short of a full century. I decided that I really didn't care since I knew that tacking on 3 more miles would've been no problem. CB decided to ride around the parking lot a few dozen times to make up the difference just to see her bike computer showing 100+ miles. TB laughed at her the whole time. Crazy triathletes...

During the ride, I thought about all the people in my life that are affected by cancer. And I thought hard about the fact that I was out there riding, enjoying the summer air, taking in the beautiful scenery with my friends...and that there are so many people that can't do that because they're sick. I dedicate this ride to them. To my mom, my brother and my cousin who have won their battles for now, to my aunt and especially to my dad who are fighting hard to stay ahead of it all. To Warren and Alix, to Abby, to Eric's dad, to Dave's mom, and to all the many many parents, children, aunts, uncles, grandparents, partners and friends that are out there fighting every day. We raised many toasts to each of you over the course of our ride and you will forever have our love and support as you continue to be strong and brave each day.

At the finish (photo by Dan Grossman)

Century rides are amazing and I will definitely be doing another one. In fact, I'm strongly considering the AIDS Life Cycle ride in June of 2009.

Anyone else game?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Prouty Century Ride for Cancer Research

So my 100 mile ride is coming up this Saturday, July 14th and I've almost reached my fundraising goal of $1000!! Every little bit helps so if you're so inclined, head on over to my sidebar and click on the Prouty image. There's still time!!!!

And thanks so very much...