Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dull Moments

Yes, I'm still around but it's just been a hectic time around here and I haven't had time to document my training. Rest assured that it has included strength training, the bike trainer, and some yoga... and too much food.

Way, way too much food.

After the horrific tragedy in Connecticut mid-month, I hope everyone finally gets a chance to enjoy a little Peace on this planet. Many of my co-workers and friends have decided that what we normally see as dull moments are actually seriously underrated. We're hoping for more dull moments in 2013.

I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. There are some schedule changes coming soon in my life and I'll be able to update more frequently than I have in the past. My favorite Christmas present this year is undoubtedly the fact that I've had a 4-day weekend and have enjoyed sleeping in past 5:00am. Yeah. That's the good life, people.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself OW!

It seems like everyone I talk to these days has had to deal with more than their usual share of medical nastiness to the point where I started saying we're suffering from "Humpty Dumpty Syndrome."

First, let me give a shout out to my friend Roy from the Pedal Pushers. Roy landed hard after a nasty spill on a ride and is in for a winter of recovery and rehab. You can read more of his story here. Best wishes for a speedy and successful recovery!

Locally, Hurricane Sandy came and went and left some rain in my parking lot. There's a bit of survivor's guilt here knowing that the people in this immediate area were left with some debris to clean up while not 100 miles away, houses were literally swept into the sea. Here's hoping that most of the most pressing clean up can get done before the first snowfall of the season. My thoughts and prayers also going out today to those who lost loved ones because of that monster.

I'm about half-way through my dental drama with the messiest and most painful procedures now behind me. I have follow-up evaluations in about 3 weeks to determine if surgery will be necessary. Even if it is, it won't be that big of a concern as the procedure that has been discussed LANAP (Laser Assisted Near Attachment Procedure) while costly, has no "down time." Luckily, I have good dental insurance this year.

In other good news, the pain in my knee and ankle has subsided and I don't think a special trip to the doctor will be necessary now. That's a good thing since my doctor left her practice and I have to pick a new doctor. This may take awhile as I wasn't happy with the last one but the office is local and local is always good when you need a doctor. So now that my knee is functional, I can do a full fitness evaluation and develop a program that works for me and make a decision on a new primary care physician without being under duress.

I'm really fascinated with a book I purchased entitled, Anatomy for Yoga by Nicky Jenkins and Leigh Brandon It's in the same series that Professor Patti Mantea loved when we were in her class for personal training. While it doesn't delve into the more difficult yoga positions (which is a good thing since you can really hurt yourself by doing yoga incorrectly,) it separates moves into stretches and exercises that are effective for four different postural deviations; Kyphosis, Lordosis, Flat Back and Sway Back. The book tells you to get your posture checked by a professional to determine your deviations. During my class sessions for personal trainer certification, we used each other as guinea pigs models and one of our classes included how to check for postural deviations. I was the only person in the class without a categorized postural deviation. Go figure. Since each section in the book is a complete routine that starts with three to six rounds of a Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) and ends in Savasana, what I'll do is work through a different section each day. If I can make it to my friend's class at some point for a challenge and professional guidance, so much the better otherwise, I'm sticking to the easier stretches and exercises.

So now it's on to the business of getting stronger, faster, and, as they say in New England, whatevah.

This pose ain't evah gonna happen
Monday, October 15, 2012
Now that Autumn is here, my bike riding has tailed off considerably and a very noisy knee that started out as a, "What the heck is that? My knee?" sound in June turned into an, "Uh,oh...." sound in October and is now something that I'll need to address over the next couple of months. It's been enough of a concern that I stopped running again but it will have to wait until after I deal with the abscess on my gum line and some deep scaling that my dentist lined up for me. I swear, he only decides to do these things when the holidays are around the corner.

Meanwhile, it's just about that time of year when I need to do some evaluations on my strength and mobility. There's really no point in starting a strength training program until I figure out what muscle groups are out of balance so that's my first goal of this week.

0% Body Fat!

As a subscriber of the Voler Apparel email newsletter, I came across this interview Marilyn Trout did with Masters world record holder, Charlotte Miller. She went into detail regarding some of her training and this winter, I'll be incorporating the Arnie Baker 12-Week Progressive Workout Series on the trainer which he discusses in his book, Smart Cycling (available used via Amazon).

The other takeaway for me was Max Testa's concept of periodization. He briefly discusses this in Chapter 6: Better Progress of the book he co-authored with Dr. Eric Heiden, "Faster, Better, Stronger." I'll be implementing the third type of periodization he discusses (Hardest, Hard, Moderate, Easiest, Repeat).

I'll also be adding in some yoga. I hate yoga. I loathe yoga. But,like my friend who's a certified yoga instructor says, "It feels so good when you stop." It's the kind of thing that should be done with an instructor to watch your form but I also hit the Sadie Nardini YouTube channel for hints and reminders when I want to practice at home.

First things first though. I'll be hitting the drugstore for more dental floss... and Halloween candy.
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Semi-Bricked Kind of Life

I was in a quandary the other day about how I was going to fit a running program into my other training - specifically that I have days that I spin and days that I'm on the bike and I have to fit swimming in there somewhere.

In triathlon jargon, a, "brick," is when you practice two of the three disciplines back-to-back. They usually follow the same sequence in training as they do in a race so, a swim session is quickly followed by a cycling session or a cycling session is followed by a run. The idea is to get a feel for the transition so your body doesn't rebel at the start of next discipline. It doesn't work - you will always feel miserable immediately following a transition, but it's the thought that counts.

I did a variation on that when my second scheduled run fell on the same day I teach spin. My day started with a session with my client, then I taught spin and then jumped in the car, drove down the street 4 miles to the WWI Memorial Park and did a run on the same field (Vincent R. Petti Memorial Field) that I did the last time.

My Training Ground.

Yeah, that was my brick. Not much to write about here.

One thing I'm noticing about running for time and not paying any attention to distance is how much easier it is for me to mentally, "check out," and let my mind wander. Without the fear of traffic or the worry of tracking mileage I seem to be easily distracted by.... ummm... all of the voices in my head.

Of course, these runs are nowhere near comfortable (I can't imagine what a comfortable run feels like) and so I'm always calling on those "perseverance" role models to motivate me to the next minute.

I recently read a great article at by Chrissie Wellington and how she managed to win the Ironman World Championships in 2011. For those who don't know, Wellington is the most dominant force in women's triathlon racing. Also known as "The Queen of Kona," her athleticism is far and above most of us mere mortals. This year, her training was brought to an abrupt halt by a severe cycling crash a couple of weeks before the championships. In the article, Chrissie shares her mind-set and how she overcame a lot of pain to achieve another title.

I was particularly moved by her comparison of her injuries to that of the late Jon Blais.  The story of Jon Blais and his determination to finish the Ironman in Hawaii in 2005 while dealing with ALS has been an inspiration to many people, myself included. So, as I'm (barely) running back and forth across the soccer/lacrosse field, I think about Chrissie and how she wouldn't give in to her pain because Jon Blais wouldn't give up and I think about Jon Blais and then I think how dumb it would be of me to give up since I just have to (barely) run on grass for only a few minutes at a time. By the time I finish thinking all of that, it's time to stop and the voices in my head, along with the discomfort, fade away and my almost-brick is done.

Then I go home and eat the kitchen.

If you would like to be inspired by the Blazeman today, watch this footage from YouTube's IronmanTriathlon video and this excerpt from their DVD of the 2005 race in Hawaii.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Return of Shuffle/Jog

To get myself motivated to ride my bike again, I ordered an el cheapo computer for my bike (Blackburn Delphi 3.0) but I still had no inclination to put air in my tires.

The easiest way for me to get motivated to ride is to do the thing I really detest the most - running. So, I picked a race that doesn't exist yet (the Hopkinton Paws and Claws 5K has been tentatively scheduled but not confirmed means there's no sign-up yet) and arbitrarily picked a running program. The idea is that it shouldn't matter what race I do, I should just be able to run a 5K and since most online running programs for beginners are set up as various timed interval workouts, anything that gets my heart rate up would suffice. Googling "5K online running programs" I quickly found one that I could use over at

Instead of going back to my usual flat, closed-circuit road, I headed over to the WWI Memorial Park. Down the park road past the petting zoo, there's a parking lot near a path that leads to three adjoining soccer fields. I've never been a fan of running in the street - the slanting asphalt puts an uncomfortable amount of stress on my knee ligaments - so for this go 'round, I want to try running in the grass or on dirt trails as much as possible.

In order to stay focused on the process and avoid worrying about progress e.g.,how many feet did I run and how many feet per hour was that, exactly? I deliberately ran back and forth across the width of the three fields and the outside boundaries. Running this way instead of running laps around one field would kill the temptation to chart my mileage.

The upshot is that after a year of rarely running, I made it through the first session (run 5 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat 3 more times at my usual shuffle/jog pace) with much less difficulty than I had anticipated. That tells me that the time I've spent on the bike has definitely increased my aerobic base.

So, I'm running again. Now, where did I put that bicycle pump?
Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back Into a Routine

It's taken quite some time to get the bad taste out of my mouth from the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred. Getting back to work has helped divert my attention from what happened. Working in a gym, you get to know all of the members with all of their injuries and traumas and it's a little more difficult to feel sorry for myself when someone is talking about their back fusion surgery or shattered ankle. So, onward we go.

I received a comment on my HH100 report from my pal Roy from the Pedal-Pushers which said in part,"...I am already thinking about trying it again next year."

Eh, not so much yet. I'm still reticent about what I'll be doing next year. I didn't even finish putting my bike back together until Labor Day and I still haven't put any air in the tires. In the meantime, it's been raining steadily around here over the past couple of days. In fact, there are flash flood warnings just south of here as some of the local towns have recorded rainfall today of around 3 inches. We've also had high surf warnings in the same area as tropical storm Leslie moves northward.

So, rain on the roads, high surf at the beaches (I wonder if we'll wind up with more beached great white sharks)... I'm getting the feeling that it's a good time to go for a walk. I'm going to head on over to one of the local state parks and tackle a short hiking trail tomorrow. The parks offer scheduled guided hikes and since I know people that have gotten lost in those woods, I figure that a guided hike would be a good way to get acquainted with the local flora and fauna (which is usually nocturnal so it will be mostly flora). The skies are already clearing up and I have a Honey Stinger Waffle and Power Bar to easily get me through the 3 to 4 mile jaunt.

I've been told that this particular park is good for beginner mountain bikers as well so it should be a good scouting expedition.

It would appear that all I'll have to worry about Lyme ticks, EEE, and West Nile.

Ah, the Great Outdoors. I think I'm ready for some football.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Something About Lasagna and Cycling

Well, it's been awhile.
Lemme tell you about the Hotter 'n Hell Hundred on Saturday, the 25th, by telling a story that happened the next day.

On Sunday, sister decided to make lasagna from scratch. She cooked up the pasta, removed sausage from its casings and browned it. She prepared 3 kinds of cheese. She sliced mushrooms, made a marinara, and at my request, rinsed, dried, and chopped some spinach. She carefully layered it and put it in the refrigerator with the intention of baking it right before dinner.

My cousin came over for a visit. At one point, my sister got up, turned on the oven and went over to the fridge and picked up the pan of lasagna whereupon she dropped it all on the floor. It was a beautiful mess that couldn't be salvaged. She was mortified. I knew exactly how she felt.

That is the perfect metaphor for my ride as I spent the last year hour training hour after hour, building on miles, adding in more training, trying to peak at the right time, only to have the whole thing fall apart within 30 miles or so of the starting line. I had a toe injury that wouldn't heal in time and I'm guessing that the added stress and pain was playing with my head. I do know that by the end of my ride and decision to finally pack it in, it was 94 degrees outside and I was chilled. I had on arm cooler sleeves and didn't want to pull them up because I was afraid it would make me colder. That is the kind of body signal I am compelled to listen to. I felt bad that I had to bail on my riding buddy, Roy from Pedal Pushers, but I knew I wasn't going to get past that chill by "riding through it."

So that was it. I trained. I rode. I failed. The End.

My sister regrouped and made a new lasagna the next day. I don't know if I'll see the window of opportunity open for redemption on this ride again but I'm not willing to face that yet. How annoying.

The HH100 was my one and only event this year so... back to the drawing board.
Sunday, July 22, 2012

As a Matter of Fact, I AM Still Here

Sort of. Wow. Nearly two months of down time. Well, things have been busy. So much so that the only event I'm now training for this year is the Hotter n Hell Hundred. No triathlons whatsoever. I might try and squeeze in a 5K before the end of the year but that would be it.

There have been a lot of things happening on the job front but I can't discuss all of it yet. One thing I can talk about; I now have a client that hired me for personal training. I wasn't planning on promoting anything of this nature until after I returned from Texas but I've known this woman from my spin classes and she asked if I could help her out. I like helping out other people (especially when they're willing to pay me) so I agreed.

On the training front, I've been out riding what I call, "Easy 50's". These are rides where I ride just below my lactate threshold for 10 minutes, do a recovery, find a hill to climb, recover and start over until I hit about the 50-mile mark. When I'm finished, I usually feel like I've complete a solid workout - nothing too spectacular but nothing so overwhelming that I'm exhausted. I can do these 3 - 4 times a week. I'm still teaching spinning and that has kept my speed solid on the bike.

I've also been swimming at Hopkinton State Park. My friend/swim instructor/colleague has been coaching me in some open water tactics because I might have recently mentioned something about wanting to do a Half Ironman next year. That's a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike leg, and 13.1 mile run (half-marathon). I figured if I can already swim 3/4 mile with no hassles, can ride 50 miles with no hassles, and can WALK 14 miles on a charity walk without any preparation, I pretty much have the endurance I need to cover the course. I just need to build the speed to finish under the cut-off time. Because of the work I do for my friend's business, she has been coaching me for free and that fits nicely into my budget.

So, 7 weeks out and you're all pretty much caught up with my life... swimming, cycling, lots of dirty laundry.
Glad to be here.
Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sunday Adventures

After a miserable cold and wet Saturday, Sunday was predicted to hit a high of 74 degrees with rain coming in later in the day. That, coupled with a return to off and on showers forecast for the first part of the week made me determined to get out. I had received a call earlier in the week from Julie of the Rhode Island Ocean Tides Senior Games that our Saturday race had been canceled. We were the only two women that had signed up again. Oh, well. Julie gets to keep the crown for another year.

Back to the Bikeway. After an overcast start to the day, the skies were perfect. The winds... oh, that's another issue. There were crosswinds galore and headwinds on the climbs that slowed me down to nearly 10 mph. I was very happy to be wearing a vest and arm warmers.

For the first 20 miles or so, I was averaging around 16 mph. I came upon a couple that were cruising around 13 mph and I decided to slow down and follow them to an extended part of the path that I had never ventured to. This took us across across some roads where the motorists were very mindful of us. Unfortunately, the woman in front of me slowed down considerably at a narrow section of path and while keeping an eye on her, I wound up dropping into the grass. Not usually a big deal but it felt like I had a flat. When we were in the middle of a town with "sharrows" (Share the Road arrows are common in the Providence area where the roads are too narrow to paint a dedicated bike path,) I decided it would be best to turn back.

I went decided to follow an access path that I had not previously taken (what was with the Marco Polo attitude this morning, I haven't a clue). It was very short but steep enough that I decided to do a few hill repeats. These felt very difficult and I decided that I was old, heavy and out of shape, and was getting worried about being in shape for the Hotter n Hell Hundred. What happened to that 16 mph average? It had gone to I-don't-whereville - knowing my toughest headwinds were ahead, I took time to take some breaks and grabbed some pics of the beautiful morning.

The bridge near my turnaround point.
Upper Falls near School Street

One of the things I love about the Blackstone River Bikeway is a tiny tributary on my right-hand side that looks more like a pond near the path where the marshlands are in view. Birds like heron and the deer feed there. All of the pollen falls and collects like a natural sludge factory. I call this "The Pond of Scum."

Why do I like The Pond of Scum? Because as soon as I see it, I just have to look over and up on my left where I see a hill above the fence line that is covered with trees. It's a brief view of greenery that looks magnificent and probably hardly noticeable from any other vantage point in the area. I call this "The Wall of Trees." The Wall of Trees is less than 3 miles to my car and then I know I've nearly completed another lap of the Bikeway.

Pond of Scum on my right.

Wall of trees on my left.

I finally got to the car and, as I was loading the bike in the back, I noticed that the rear tire was actually rubbing against the frame. Getting it home for a closer inspection, it turns out that when I went off the path, my wheel hit the asphalt hard enough that it forced the wheel partially out of the dropouts. That explains the labored drop in speed. It was very fortunate that I didn't crash - especially in the traffic in town.

Now that everything is fixed, cleaned and all gussied up for another ride, I'm really anxious to hit that access path again.
Monday, May 28, 2012

Day in the Park

Since we moved to Plainville over 20 years ago, I have celebrated an odd tradition of visiting the North Attleboro WWI Memorial Park less than a mile away from my home. Now, since my birthday is never far from Memorial Day, visiting a Memorial Park isn't so strange, what is a little odd is that the park, which has grown by leaps and bounds over the years, features a small Children's zoo and part of my birthday visit includes a bag of carrots to feed some of the creatures.

The town and its volunteers have been revitalizing tbe park for a couple of years now. Their efforts are paying off with some great recreation areas for the kids, a marked walking path, and some fresh sheds and such for the animals.

I have been so swamped with work and that,coupled with a sore knee that kept me off the bike all weekend (if I want to keep my job, I can't go into detail about that,) meant I wasn't going to leave here today, but my husband enticed me with the promise of a trip to Dairy Queen if I'd go to the zoo. That is the easiest bribe in the book and works every time.

I decided to use the trip to try and figure out my camera again. Fresh batteries and a small fidget with the SDM card seems to have done the trick.

Many of the animals, unless noted on their pens, are allowed to be fed pieces of carrots and slices of apples. The animals certainly know this and are eager to exploit their cuteness in exchange for a healthy handout.

This llama wouldn't stray too far from my bag of carrots. She isn't snarling here. She's chewing a piece of carrot.
"Howdy, Neighbor!"

On the quieter side of the zoo was Milly. An obviously aging donkey is on a special diet and so simply enjoys a nap in the warm sun.
One thing I noticed was that if the carrots or apples had fallen to the ground, most of the animals wouldn't touch them. It was as if they were saying, "5 second rule in effect."

In the midst of this animal madness, there's another section called "Julia's Garden." Julia Cekala was a little local girl that passed away in 2003 after battling more diseases than I can list here. This part of the park was developed in her memory as she loved the park just like the rest of us. It is loaded with beautiful flowers - a nice sanctuary in the middle of town. Click here if you'd like to read more about Julia.

The park, like the rest of the area, is very hilly. The designers of the park put this to good use for a very long children's slide.
I don't see a slide. I see stairs and a possible training ground.

There was a nice seating area in the garden as well.

Then, on our way out... uh, oh.

I ran out of carrots and had nothing left for the emu.
Is that I look of contempt I see on that birdie's face?
Hopefully, there won't be any karmic backlash to this unintentional slight during the HH100.
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Walk for Hunger and a Monday Ride

Sunday's Project Bread's Walk for Hunger was pretty nice but none of the pictures I took came out. What else is new? At about 65 degrees F and overcast most of the day, it was a very good day for a long walk.
Last report was more than 43,000 people walked and volunteered. Our collective efforts raised over $3.6 million dollars that will go to over 450 emergency programs in the state. It's such a great cause that's backed by a well-managed charity that seems to get stronger every year.

I was walking with my sister-in-law and her husband and we managed to go 14 miles before taking the bus back to Boston Common, grabbing the free ice cream offered by Hood and then heading on home. It's always a good day to help out those less fortunate and I managed to raise $140. Thanks again to all those who gave!!

Monday (yesterday) was forecast to be the best day of the week and I was bound and determined to make the most of it. It marked my first visit out to the bike paths this year. My other rides have been shorter local stints. Not knowing how my legs would hold up after the 14 mile walk on the previous day, I took it easy by pacing myself behind slower people that way I managed an easy 35 miles and can continue on with my training without missing a beat.

We're back to dreary weather in the mid-50's and showers for the rest of the week so it's back to indoor workouts for awhile.
Actor's portrayal of a week in Plainville

Friday, April 20, 2012

Going Nowhere Fast

Maybe some dang star or planet has gone retrograde but I can't seem to get moving lately. Oh, I did get my bike out on the road... and that's all I have to say about that. Then something weird happened. The spin classes are still going well and I've even started putting together some 1-hour playlists for subbing. I got a call to teach last Sunday which made me feel very good since I knew the instructor takes a poll as to which sub they want back. It's the first time in 50 years that I've been the popular girl.

Superior Super Gals
As a side note to the photo above, I have heard many positive things about kinesiology tape recently.

There was another bright spot. I have recently noticed that some of the trees around here were in dire shape. In fact, I was at the mall the other day picking up bird seed when I noticed an entire line of trees with the same malady and it concerned me so much that I snapped a picture of them with my cell phone.

Yes. I had forgotten what trees in bloom look like. Then I started feeling a little better.

Something I like to do as a pick-me-up is to help out other people so first off, there's a site I found online that I'd like to share. It's from a guy named Michael that has a site called Lean Body Lifestyle.

I think his primary motivation for this is looking lean (maybe a "6-pack for the Ladies" kind of guy) and he has some of the BEST TASTING healthy recipes I've ever tried which is saying something since I know that what you can get stuck eating when trying to get lean usually tastes like almost-cooked egg whites :shudder:. These recipes make me feel like I can actually eat food again without feeling guilty! If you're looking to sneak in a few lighter meals without alerting your loved ones that you're trying to be healthy, this is a good place to start.

The next thing is that I've decided to do Boston's Walk for Hunger on May 6th. It's 20 miles of walking with several thousand of your closest friends through Boston's neighborhoods. I've done it several times in the past and it's always interesting. The Walk for Hunger is put together by Project Bread which raises money for regional soup kitchens, churches, and other local groups that feed the poor. If you'd like to help me out with a small donation, you can visit my personal donation page by clicking here.

You can read more about Project Bread here.

Now, back to focusing on those goals I had set plus I noticed that the Rhode Island Ocean Tides Senior Games are back this year. I think I'll sign up for those bike races again and my goal will try to stay on course for a change.

Time to get rolling...
Saturday, March 31, 2012

Good Week

It was a pretty good week, starting right off with Monday (yes, Monday!) My husband came home from work, bringing up the mail as usual and asked, "Do you have a boyfriend named, Ben?"

All excited, I said, "WHY YES!! YES I DO!!! Did he send me a package?"

"Yes, he did."

"Oh, awesome!"

Can you tell we've been married for over 25 years?

All kidding aside, the package was from Ben from Becoming Timberman.

Ben is a frequent commenter here as we have about the same run times and have the same amount of fun trying to get faster which is to say, it's less than fun but we're always hoping to turn that around. He hired a personal trainer so I'm guessing he'll get on track faster than this personal trainer will.

He's a triathlete and chronicles his races, weight loss trials and tribulations, and stories about his beautiful new wife, Rachelle, and their newest addition - their pup, Stanley - on his blog. Ben is a very generous man who races for charities. This year, he's on the race team for the Eleonore Rocks Foundation which donates rocking chairs to birthing units in hospital rooms and NICUs. They also provide support to families that find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having their newborn baby needing the care that can only be found in a pediatric or neo-natal ICU ward.

In the tradition of raising money online, Ben recently held a raffle with a nice selection of prize packages and guess who won a Polar FT40 heart rate monitor!! It wasn't just the HRM either, along with the watch, strap and WearLink® transmitter, he put together a nice package from Polar that included a hat, t-shirt, stickers and heavy-duty nylon bag. The t-shirt is an XL so I gave that to my husband (who now knows what a heart rate monitor looks like). I generally have a rule of using as little tech gear as possible but working out without a heart rate monitor is like driving without a gas gauge - you never know how much fuel you have left in the tank.

Moving forward, Ben's ultimate fundraising goal is to raise enough money to donate 5 rocking chairs. To that end, everyone who donates in $5 increments gets an entry to win an iPad so if you're interested in a chance at winning an iPad by supporting a great cause, head on over to Becoming Timberman and check him out.

Oh, yeah... back to me (hey, it's my blog, right?)... I wound up subbing in a spin class again last Sunday at the very last minute - i.e., I received a call at 8:25 AM to teach a 9:00AM class! Yikes! My manager and I have received a lot of positive feedback on my classes this week and I'm starting to pull in some new people into my Friday class because of the exposure. I was just happy that the previous spinners came back after my first class!

In Road Cycling News.. Motivated by a woman at work who, along with her ex-husband, wants to go riding with me (with a nickname around the gym like, Edie the Animal, it rarely happens that anyone wants to ride with me which I don't understand because the name came from someone in my kickboxing classes,) I FINALLY switched out the tire and skewer off the back wheel so I could get on the road. After a thorough cleaning and lube, I also had to make a brake adjustment. I thought I was going to get out and do a quick 5-10 mile check this morning but when I woke up, it was not only raining, there was some snow mixed in.

SNOW!!! It was 80 degrees two weeks ago. What the frell is going on here?

I hope I get to ride with these people and show them I'm a team player before they hear about my aggressive reputation. Is it my fault some in those classes are slackers?
Monday, March 19, 2012


Well, that was a whirlwind of a week!

After just starting my spin classes, I received a request from another instructor to fill in for her this past Wednesday. My manager was originally slated to sub but she had to back out because of a scheduling conflict. Seeing as how I need the practice (and the cash doesn't hurt) I readily agreed. Since it was another Noon-time class and many of the same people who show up on Wednesday are also there on Friday, I then made it my mission to create two different playlists for the week so they wouldn't be bored.

It took a lot of juggling to get both done but I managed to pull it off. What I wasn't expecting was my manager to call in sick on Thursday. We managed to get her coverage for her shift at the desk and then she reminded me that she was supposed to teach spin that night.
Oh, boy... here it comes...

"Can you do it?"

I told her that I could but I didn't have any one-hour long CD's (hoping this was an easy cop-out without actually having to say, "no.") The Noon classes are all 45 minutes long to accommodate the work-schedules of people taking class during their lunch hour. The evening and earlier classes are all 1-hour long.

"I don't care. They'll get their money's worth."


Fine. I knew I wouldn't be able to put together a third playlist that I was comfortable with so I just took my first CD and used it. I knew the people in the evening class wouldn't be the same as the Noon people so it would be fresh to them.

It's still a little odd sitting in front of the class. I keep telling them that I'd be happier teaching from the corner where I usually sit, but it always works out in the end. The biggest problem was that, not knowing what was in store for me, I sat in on a spin class Tuesday night and still worked out songs on the bike. Then I taught and shouted for 3 days straight (no PA in the spin room) so my legs are tired and my voice is still shot. It was a quiet weekend, to say the least.

The extra work is paying off though. What used to take me all week to put together I have now whittled down to a few hours and once my spreadsheet with my options for songs based on style, cadence, climbing or seated, etc. is built up, there should be no reason for me to take more than an hour or so to put together a new list, freeing me up to do other things like TRAINING. Funny how you miss it when you can't do it.

In the meantime, I think another cup of Ginger tea is in my future.
Friday, March 2, 2012

Fast, Slow, Stand, Sit

I finished teaching my first spin class today. It went as well as I could have expected given that I had two weeks less to prepare than I had originally been told and am still fighting off the end of a cold. I had 6 people in the class. I would like to say that the snow kept some people away but the truth is that the class has never been very ummm... populated - 3 to 5 people is the norm - and that's okay. If I'm going to make mistakes (as rookies are wont to do) I prefer failing in front of the few as opposed to failing in front of the many. Most of us have been spinning together for years so they're a very forgiving lot and that made my debut a ton easier.

My friend who gave up the class asked one of my co-workers to make up some signs announcing my debut. I was wondering how this would go over and for the most part, the other instructors were not only congratulatory, they also asked if I was available to sub for them - this all before I had even taught my first class. I guess it's like my boss, who's also a spin instructor, said, "You go fast, you go slow, you stand up, you sit down - what else is there?" and, without going into the finer details that you can bring to the "Indoor Cycling Experience," she's pretty much right. Subbing is also a great way to pay for some of these seminars and the music.

Flying in the face of my training, which said I should be OFF the bike 99% of the time, I chose to stay on the bike. There were several reasons for this but the greatest being that the room itself is not conducive to walking around. There is no PA set up for talking into a microphone, and the bikes themselves are set up in a semi-circle so I can't actually walk behind or stand next to someone to coach them. That leaves me with talking face-to-face which lends itself to feelings of confrontation - not the nicest way to conduct a class with so few participants.

I'm no dictator. I'm not going to bark out orders and demand that the hands be in some preordained position and the resistance is cranked to a knee-ripping intensity. I made it clear that my primary goal was to guide them safely through a challenging workout and that's what I did. I figured as long I'm getting through the basics, I can get comfortable adding more imagery, etc., as we go along.

Or, I could just turn up the music.
Sunday, February 19, 2012

Big Wheels Keep On Turnin'

Just as I was starting to settle into a routine again after several weeks without a car, a friend who is a spin instructor mentioned to me that because she was changing jobs, she would no longer be able to teach the Friday Noon time spin class at my gym. She offered it to me and I promptly turned it down. Like so many other things that go exactly the way I plan in my life, I'll start teaching the class in 2 or 3 weeks.

My manager told me that if she couldn't find a replacement right away, she'd have to cancel the class until someone could be found. Inconsistency is the doom of all classes. It sours the participants and attendance falls off to practically nothing. Since it's a small class anyway with 3-6 being normal, 9 being packed, and 13 bikes being a full house, there isn't a lot of room for dwindling. I was afraid that if the class was canceled, the owner would seize the opportunity to cancel it altogether with no chance of reviving it. I agreed to take it on a trial basis. If it's a good fit, I'll continue teaching it. If not, I'll stay on until she can find someone else. Hopefully, that would happen before we lose all of the participants.

Since I've been spinning for almost 10 years and have a formal background in music, my manager suggested I go to an AFAA (Aerobic and Fitness Association of America) indoor cycling workshop and so last weekend I drove into Boston and participated in an all day affair (9am - 5pm) at Boston University's FitRec center. Nice facility. Freezing weather. I wouldn't have even considered driving all the way into town in my old car. I guess the new wheels are working out.

If you're a seasoned spinner and have been considering getting certified, don't hesitate. My friend told me I would be bored and boy, was she ever right. The material was quite pedestrian with very little to discuss which is good because the instructor didn't like discussions as much as she liked simply disseminating information and made that clear enough that most of us stopped trying to participate and just listened. I gave her an Average rating on the exit evaluation just because I'm nice. As bored as I was, I will probably go for a Johnny G certification in a couple of months just to compare the two styles.

The hardest thing won't be teaching, it will be following such a class act. I've had 26 different instructors over the years and have to say that my friend is also my favorite spin instructor which is good since that way I don't have to lie to her about how good she is. Unfortunately for me, she is well loved and no one is going to be happy about her leaving which is going to cause an uneasiness towards me because even though they know who I am, they don't know what kind of instructor they're getting. I'm happy that she has a job which works out better for her but it sucks for the rest of us. On top of that, I will no longer count towards the attendance so I'm already down a person.

It also seems I'm destined to be sick all winter. I should be out riding but I've been fighting a cold every other week and the pool at work has had issues that I won't even get into so lately most of my workout time has been spent on my bike trainer while watching TV. In light of my new adventure, I guess I'll have to change from watching my DVR programs to checking out new songs on VH1 for the class.

VH1?! Miley? Britney? Coldplay? UGH! I'm definitely going to be earning my money.

I knew I should have just stuck with "no."
Monday, January 30, 2012

To Like or Not to Like

I met some friends for breakfast over the weekend. Years ago we started out as co-workers so much of the conversation revolved around gossiping about people we used to work with.

One friend was talking about how a co-worker, now in another department, kept sending her "Friend Requests" on Facebook. For those who don't know how this works (including one sitting at the table with us), you start on Facebook with no friends and then you can go through your email address book looking on FB for people that you can request to be your friend. They can either accept this or decline this. If they accept, you wind up in the biggest time suck on the internet (apart from porn and hard-core gamers, that is) playing odd little games like "Farmville" where you plant things or a game like "Words for Friends" which can get you thrown off airplanes (like Alec Baldwin). If you just ignore a request, they can nag you until you either accept them or until you block them.

My friend was in a pickle about this Friend Request because she doesn't want to be friends with this person and doesn't want to read her "Status Updates" but wants to keep the peace at work. She said she's accepted her requests in the past and then deleted them, but this person doesn't get the hint and would always send a new friend request. I told her to do what I did to my niece who friended me - completely unsubscribe from her ALL of her updates. Yes, you can play Facebook just like "Real Life" in that you can pretend you're listening to someone and never really hear a word they say.

I went on to say, "This is my time on Facebook which I now have down to about 90 seconds including log in and log out time:

"Log in but appear OFFLINE so as to avoid any Chatty Kathys, answer previous messages, click as only as many "Likes" as necessary so, "LIKE-LIKE-SKIP-LIKE-SKIP-SKiP-LIKE"

"Then, copy and paste from the following:
  • HAHA!
  • THAT'S CUTE! (and the alternative HOW ADORABLE!)
  • WAY TO GO!
"Then I LOG OUT."

It turns out that my friend does much the same thing and planned on implementing the "Copy and Paste" to further expedite the whole Loving-Community-that-is-Facebook-blah-blah process.

So here's my problem today... I am "LIKE"-ing things I don't really like because people I know and actually do like have asked me to do so. When one of my husband's second cousins (once removed) started writing songs and putting them on YouTube, his mom, whom I adore, started campaigning for her son - "Please LIKE his page and send it to your friends, please follow him on Twitter." Well, I like the kid but even though I LIKED his songs, I don't like his songs. They are good songs, just not my cup of tea and I can't finish listening to them. His tweets were so stupid that I eventually just deleted my Twitter account.

This whole "pretending to be a fan" charade drove me nuts until I discreetly Unliked his FB page and unsubscribed from his mom's music status updates. I still figure out what is going on from other family Status Updates, comments and "Likes."

Today I was supposed to watch Good Morning America so I could see his song featured on the show. I knew I'd be working and everyone said "DVR IT!" so I had to add a new reply to my list - "SOUNDED GREAT!" - because I never bothered to DVR the show to hear a song I didn't want to listen to. I LIKE his songs, I SHARE the links... I haven't been able to listen to one all the way through since his first release. I can say all of this because I know they've never read this blog, even though I've posted links to it on Facebook so I'm guessing they must not LIKE me either.

He's a VERY GOOD singer, but I just don't care about these types of songs, so now, I have to ask - does anyone else out there LIKE what you don't really LIKE? If so, what do you do or plan to do when/if you get cornered over it?

It has reminded me of another (real) friend who once LIKED a post that read, "THERE SHOULD BE A 'WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS' BUTTON ON FACEBOOK.

Friday, January 27, 2012

New Ride

I wish this post could be about an awesome new bike but alas, it's just about my latest auto.

Given that I found myself needing a new car about 6 months before I was financially ready to take the plunge, I wound up plunking down a chunk of change for a used SUV.

Meet my 2001 Nissan Pathfinder:

:sigh: It seems that every time I try and get a picture, the weather just won't cooperate. Nice crash bar, no?

In any case, my bike should fit in the back without a problem and my wallet will notice my new ride by how much gas the thing guzzles. I'm happy that I'm back on the road, free from depending on the kindness of friends and family to get me back and forth to work, but let's just say that any ideas of more trips to New Hampshire and Vermont to get in some good hill rides have been quietly quashed at the pump.

Hopefully, I'll be spending more of my weekends training instead of reading magazines at the repair shop this year. Last year, I even learned how to work the remote for the DirecTV in NTB's waiting area. So far, so good as I no longer need to stick my arm out to make left-hand turns and it even has heat. I'm also back in the water and starting to knock out laps and practice my technique.

My friend/co-worker/swim coach showed me a great video yesterday. This is Shinji Takeuchi, the new CEO of of Total Immersion Swimming. Of course, we critiqued him rather meticulously all the while admitting that we are nowhere near his level of expertise (okay, compared to him, we really suck). It's just beautiful to watch - note the underwater shots of his legs just "flicking" ever so gently and how he looks like he's skimming the surface like an otter on a lake. The audio isn't so hot though - the electronic background music should just be turned off.

I'm wondering if I watch it oh, say, maybe 1000 times, that I'll subconsciously pick up some good technique. Of course, if I practice 1000 times, that would probably help, too.
Sunday, January 8, 2012

Can I Get a Do-Over?

It's been said that the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I have to submit that the Express Lane to Hell is taking action on those good intentions. In effect, you're better off choosing an unpaved road in the first place - or staying at home.

The year started off with me getting the flu, feeling those body aches that seemed to be a blueprint of what I was going to feel like when I'm 85, a broken tooth and still no car.

Way to blast out of the gate.

A week later and things are looking brighter. Another trip to the dentist that was much, MUCH cheaper than I was expecting, the flu is gone so my workouts are starting to get on track again... and still no car. Okay, that's not exactly a success story but it's better than roller-blading along on the Good Intentions expressway.

On the job front, I can't really promote myself as a personal trainer until I get a reliable set of wheels, but as a domain investor/website flipper, things are starting to pick up pace as I streamline my development work-flow. That's really the only way I can continue to finance my adventures in the water and on two wheels. In fact, I felt so good about my business this weekend that I actually bought a pair of bike shorts and a new jersey (on clearance, of course). Um... don't tell my husband - let it be a surprise :cough!:

So, when things are looking down, take a breather and look up because while we can't get "do-overs," we can still clean and re-grease our chain, check our tires, check which way the wind is blowing and change direction.

Welcome to 2012! TAKE TWO.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Things First

Happy New Year!!

Let me say, "Thank you!" to all who've supported me in 2011. Whether it was a supportive comment on this blog or their own, in a spin room, in a classroom, in an email or on FB or even just a kind thought or prayer tossed my way - you guys know who you are and I want to thank EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU FOR ALL OF YOUR SUPPORT.

So - First thing that's new is the site re-design. After years of avoiding WYSIWYG web designers in favor of coding HTML and CSS in notepad, and getting aggravated with the intricacies of dealing with this in Blogger, I finally found a site designer called Artisteer that is super-logical and I've been having some fun with it.

The header image is a throw-back for me as it's a picture I took of a tree that was in front of my apartment building a few years back. It was taken at sunrise after an ice storm had coated the porch door. Somewhere along the way, the new management company cut down the big pines around the entries at which time, my treehouse view of Robins' nests (and brutal pine tree allergies) disappeared. The pic is now a reminder to me of how I need to adapt and move forward, keeping the memories that are gems and noting that some things do change for the better.

Early in December, a trip to get a cavity taken care of turned into a root canal. That was no fun. In the weeks that followed, I noticed one tooth with a huge filling. So much so that I thought that there must be more filling than tooth left. I was right as 8 days after my crown was in place, that tooth broke. I have an appointment scheduled for Wednesday to start taking care of that.

The other thing that finally broke was Piece O'Crap car. Yes, the poor thing sounds like it's choking on its own oil filter and while it will start once in a great moon, it stops if you take your foot off the pedal and try to let it idle. Big Money repair job means stick a fork in it because it's done and I have been scrambling for rides to work and shopping for my next set of non-cycling wheels.

While time-consuming, all in all, it's just the regular hoops Life is so happy to throw at you. I registered for the Hotter 'n Hell 100 at 1:00AM Eastern Time... 3.5 hours before I usually get up for work. Yeah, my stomach was queasy by then and I woke up this morning with flu-like symptoms without the benefit of alcohol. Oh, well. Whatever else may happen, at least I have a goal.

It's time to clean up the messes that dragged in from 2011 and start creating a wonderful new year. May our journey in 2012 be one of progress and delight... oh, and WARMTH... really.

Let's get this party started.