Sunday, November 28, 2010

And so it begins...

And so my adventure begins.

Whisked amongst the clouds hovering above a cold seattle afternoon, a huge smile spreads across my face. My happiness radiates outwardly as I begin my first international travel to race my bike abroad. The pinch me i must be dreaming feeling still surrounds me and the reality hits me cold when the united ticket agent charges me $400 in bike travel fees. $200 for a bike, $200 for overweight. My box weighs in at exactly 70 pounds and not a hair over. I try to argue and plead my way out but the agent is a play it by the books kind of gal.

No matter, my bike will arrive in Melbourne. I take that back, my bikes. It's quite an ordeal to travel with such equipment. Gone are the days when united used to hand out bike ticket coupons - that hay day stopped five years ago. Now to save on fuel costs and get travelers to lighten the load they impose high fees. The mention of going to international competition and my aspirations does nothing for a person having a bad day. 

The past week has given me ample time to do some reflection. To ponder the how I got here and why. To remember those golden moments along the way and know that this journey was going to happen whether I wanted it to or not. The planets aligned, the path set forth in front of me and all i had to do was continue the steps one after another. Life had it's ups and serious downs and yet spun madly on.

I've been thinking about Ryan a lot lately. I turned on pandora yesterday and one song after another, after another transported me to a couple of years ago. The music didn't bring a specific memory to me but rather a feeling; a connection; a sensation. Sometimes there are ghosts that hide out in melodies, that come to surface and remind you that you are not alone. You are never alone. I like to think my ghosts are the non-threatening kind. They are they to help you along your journey and path into what feels like the unknown. But I also think that those ghosts know something more... That they can sense what is to come in some cosmic sense.

A memory has come to my consciousness time and time again this week. I recall going to post alley with Ryan, Ryan miller, Johnny shehan and a few others. We met at an Irish pub and were celebrating a birthday. I had only been cycling for a year and had developed a great coach/athlete relationship with miller. Over beers and loud music, both Ryan's told me that they were convinced I had what it took to get be a world champion. They recognized my dedication, passion and talent would get me there. I remember at thinking at the time, wow, I can do this. If they, two guys who were both life long athletes and people whose opinions I highly value, believe it, well then it must be true. And so the confidence building began. They weren't afraid to voice their musings and now, six years later I am on the path they called out several years ago.

A pilar of my motivational foundation started that night. I thank my lucky stars that those two, perhaps a little belligerent, spoke up. If you know someone in your life who is trying to do something new - regardless of the complexity of what they are attempting - the best thing you can do for them is to support them. Speak up. Let them know that what they are doing is important and worthwhile. For me that little bit of confidence has carried me all these years. 

And as an athlete and someone who is trying to do what few have the ability or gumption to do, it's important to me to let those who have touched me know that they do too. That their little part, or big part for that matter, is appreciated. I know Ryan knew and knows how much his love and support meant to me. 

When i line up in a few days in melbourne, with a lot of unknowns and firsts to be experienced, I will do so with the confidence of the army of supporters behind me back at home. Thank you to all of you who have played a part in getting me where I am today. And thank you to those who will continue to support me in my quest to follow my dreams.   

Saturday, November 27, 2010

High roller

This one deserves its own post.

Kids: try this at home.

Rollers and winter training go hand in hand. Rollers are a mechanism that allows cyclists to balance on their bike and pedal without having a stationary front wheel. It mimics riding outdoors far more then a trainer but you have to pay attention to what you are doing a little bit more.

In the past six years I've been racing and riding rollers, I have never once fallen off. As friends would show me bruises from their ill fated roller rides, I just never understood how that could happen. Until wednesday.

Picture this: I'm in my living room, tv tuned to universal sports, perched up on my rollers between a coffee table and fireplace with a yoga mat beneath me to catch the sweat. I'm cruising along at a steady clip and 110 rpm. I'm about eight minutes from finishing my hour long session and I've been watching figure skating. A few minutes ago, the men's competition started and I was noticing how different their movements are to the grace and beauty of the women. The guys are more powerful, more springy and violent in their jumps. I'm mesmerized by the flash of sequins this guy has on as he jumps up to attempt a triple lutz and doesn't land it, all hell breaks loose. My bike flies off the rollers to the right, I fly left into the fireplace, piercing the palm of my hand like Jesus. I shake myself off, thankful I didn't break anything. And that's when i discover my bike Is spewing out water. My first thought was oh no, I cracked my carbon frame. Great! But then I discover two holes near the rear dropouts that were designed there. Before I got back on the bike I posted a note on facebook, owning up to my blunder. And noting that i scared the piss out of my bike.

This sport is dangerous I tell you!

Rested scatterbrain.

I got home from Los angeles on Sunday night and have been in taper mode since. The first three days were completely off the bike, which was well timed with the first snow storm of the season. I didn't feel guilty at all about not hopping on the rollers or trainer but instead focused on getting to some house projects and relaxing. My mind and body soaked up the down time and my first harder effort was on thanksgiving morning.

My friend Liz helps run seattle multisport located in the fermont area. Tim Becker has a studio adorned with eight computrainers, a million videos, and all of the indoor training equipment you could think of. The walls are covered in cycling and triathlete posters from the past three or more decades. Six years ago when I first started training, I would go to his old studio located by university village and hammer out the intervals. I remember how encouraging he was then and looking at power charts and comparing my raw numbers to see how I stacked up. Even then my raw power put me in the elite ranks, fueling my fire. See Tim? You were right! It makes me thankful for all the people who spoted that talent in me early on and nurtured my spirit to follow my dreams.

Liz thought I was nuts. I was in the best mood. Being back in tim's studio after six years and heading to my first world cup coupled with watching "Breaking Away" made those four by ten minute threshold efforts fly by.

I had decided two weeks ago to stay in Seattle for thanksgiving because the daunting thought of doing a 12 hour roundtrip ride in the car right before I take off for Melbourne was stressing me out. My family was supportive of my decision and I got an invite to Ben and Danielle's house for Tanksgittin' 2010. Danielle is an amazing chef - for those of you that made it to my birthday party this year she did all the food. The girl has mad talent in the kitchen. There were thirteen orphans, two smoked turkeys, four canines scurrying about, brussel sprouts, persimmion spinach salad, fermont brewery ipa on tap from the keg, four pies for desert (two pumpkin ones were my contribution) and a million laughs. I finally got full after two generous servings of numnum food.

If the day after is any indication of how good of a time makiah had, she didn't move at all. It was great. Seeing her smile like that around people and good food? Priceless.

Tomorrow afternoon I take off for twenty plus days. I am excited for the opportunity to race my bike overseas and do what I love. What a gift. It just goes to show you can do anything you put your mind to.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake.

the "Butt" Chocolate cake (so termed because of the buttermilk in it).

3 cups flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/3 cup veggie oil
1 1/2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Grease two - three 9 inch round cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. (I use three cake pans so I don't have to split layers later.)

Place flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed to combine (don't mix on high or you will be wearing the ingredients.) Add the oil and buttermilk and mix on medium speed until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Add the hot coffee and vanilla extract and mix on low speed (so the batter won't splash) until smooth.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the center, 30-35 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes then remove from pans and let cool completely.

Frosting: I usually use a 1/2 batch of cream cheese frosting:

1 pound cream cheese, at room temp.
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temp.
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract.

Place ingredients in bowl and beat on low at first (or you'll be wearing the sugar!) and blend until light, fluffy and smooth - about 7 minutes.

This cake gets even better after a night in the fridge. Chocolate lovers beware!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pow pow

Um, looking at Beaver Creek ski footage videos has put a HUGE smile on my face. All I want for Christmas is a big powder face shot. Ha!

Click on either Talons Challenge, Royal Elk Glade or Stone Creek Chutes...

And just imagine a tele maven doing it in style.

It's chilly.

For those that have met Makiah, you know she's a bundle full of fur. She rarely, if ever, gets cold. I've tried snuggling with her on the bed from time to time and she always gets too warm and bolts about five minutes later.

Last night was an exception. She slept with me the entire night. The heater even turned on in the middle of the night.

On my walk into work today, Makiah and I strolled through Gasworks park and watched school children sled down the sun dial hill. One dad and his kid flew down the steepest section, hit a lip and flew off their garbage lid. It reminded me of National Lampoons Vacation.

Monday, November 22, 2010

100% Belief. Focus. Confidence.

Chocolate coated...

The lazy afternoon and evening from the last time I wrote was down time well spent. I only left my hotel room on a late night triple chocolate chip cookie and chocolate mochi ice cream run at Trader Joes. I am all about setting personal bests this trip - as I gobbled up three cookies in under 6 minutes on the drive back to the hotel. Did I feel guilty about laying on my duff and then eating two mochi chocolate ice cream bonbons before passing out with chocolate smeared on my face? Not at all.

The next day the recovery time proved invaluable. As did the chocolate calories. We had three sets of kilos, one from a standing start, a couple of laps of recovery on the apron, then a flying kilo, a few more recovery laps and then one more flying effort to complete a set. We upped the gear to a 51 x 14 (98") and I can honestly say, this it felt amazing. I like pushing big gears. I like the burn it produces in my legs and the muscular fatigue I feel versus taping into my limited lung capacity. My legs synced up with my mind and after our first set, Benjamin paired me into the group with Jennie and Kim. Turns out our little trio hit the most consistent and steady mark for a flying kilo. I was floating on cloud nine.

I am pretty excited to end this huge block of training on such a high note. Time spent down in LA was time well spent. And now after a few days of recovery and rest, I'll get back on my pony and do some efforts in prep for Melbourne that I leave for in six days!

Wow. I still have that pinch me, I must be dreaming feeling. And if you happen to see chocolate smeared on my face, ignore it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This mornings wake up call was a rude awakening that I can use every last minute of sleep and propping the legs up to recharge and recover between efforts. It's hard to believe that last week during the devo camp we were up and at the track by 7:30 every morning and this is the first time this week we've had the early bird special.

My life today consists of sleeping, waking up, eating, drinking coffee, going to the track and turning myself inside out for quality efforts and then eating, sleeping for two more hours, waking up and then eating again. And we're not talking little meals here. We're talking gigantic, stuff your face, my belly kind of hurts food. Only to have the cycle repeat itself in two hours. Ten days of straight track time will certainly boost the metabolism and leave a sister hungry for days. Just as long as I don't break out the kitchen aide when I get home, it'll be all good.

As I happily eat my last couple of bites of turkey enchiladas courtesy of Gary and Anita (they are to die for!) I'm already contemplating my second nap of the day. The beauty of being down here solely for training is that you can maximize your recovery. Those little house chores don't nag at you and you can easily ignore the dishes in the sink. This whole experience has certainly opened my eyes to how elite athletes do it. And for as hard as I put my body in the hurt box, I certainly maximize the laziness factor.

Nap time. Round two.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Everybody needs it, right? Regardless of the task you are trying to accomplish - the promoption at work, cleaning your house, getting out of bed, doing your homework or tackling a workout - we all need a reason to complete what we set out to do.

Sometimes this motivation comes easy. Say you want to earn more money, then you'll put in more hours at work, go the extra mile, try to impress the boss. Say you have house guests coming over or a dinner party. Suddenly those piles of clothing, paper, clutter on the counter, etc get whisked away in no time at all. Or say you've got a big test coming up that will determine how you do overall in a class. You'll sit out a friday night party or sacrifice some other social outing to do well, right? Or say you've got a athletic goal in mind. Sure you might be able to get away with skipping a workout here or there but the cumulative gains made from sticking to your prescribed workouts get you up on the trainer or out the door in adverse weather.

Historically november is a hard month for me. But i think that stretches beyond my small scope. I'm willing to say all northwesterners feel the blues this time of year, when the sun sets near 4pm, and rarely shines. The transition between fall and winter leaves the ground a damp and cold and is seriously unmotivating. But this is where the gains are made. This is where that cumulative effect will kick in and shine in the spring and summer months.

Funny, I am in california right now for the first time during the hardest month of the year and can still feel what awaits me when i return home come sunday. But I am ready because this year I am motivated by thoughts of international competition. Of pushing myself to new levels. Of the challenges it will bring and the eagerness to be as prepared as possible for the next chapter in my life.

So if you're contemplating getting out there in the nasty weather, picking up for guests, studying hard for an exam, getting that promotion - just do it. You'll be thankful you did.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stepping it up.

Wow. I sound like a two pack a day smoker. Super hot.

Today's effort left me gasping for air. The 94" gear is taking more of a toll on my card system then it should so for the second effort, I upped my gearing to a 96". I started both efforts, nailing the split time on the second go around but was also hammered by the fact that coryn is 5'1" and provides little to no draft, what so ever. Every time she was on the front, I would hunker down and try to get as small as possible to elicit some sort of draft. But realistically only my bike saw the benefit of that.

That which doesn't kill you can only make you stronger, right? Or some such thing.

And another blunder that irrates me to no end is that I bonked today. I miscalculated my food intake so that for the second set I was hosed. It seems like I revisit this lesson every six months and it bites me in the arse each time. Apparently my metabolism is in overdrive from the past week or so. I cannot wait to return home and eat and eat and eat. For once I'm envious of those holiday winter pounds....

More hard core workouts tomorrow. The elite girls show up with game faces on and are somber at the track. The atmosphere is different, for sure. It's motivating to be around but will take some adaptation. It is all business with these ladies.
It's early and i woke up both excited and nervous. Today we are doing race simulations and are trying to recreate the stress that racing creates by pairing up against the other teams. We have enough ladies here to fill out three complete teams, each with their own target goals. This is what I've been training for as of late so it's time to demonstrate 100% of my ability.

Oh boy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Single minded chance.

In a way, this week has been about single minded focus. I'm realizing that now as I sit quietly in my hotel room, eating dinner, reading and not feeling guilty about turning down a dinner invitation. The steady hum of the cooking fan ten feet away in the kitchen grounds me as I think about how much devotion and selfishness it takes to be a world class athlete. How listening to your own rhythms and taking time for yourself becomes the number one priority and separates a mediocre athlete from a great one. How for as hard as I work in practice, I also take my rest seriously and balance it with letting those I love know it.

A song comes to mind, "one chance" by modest mouse. Look it up and live by it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Well, in case you're wondering, I'm still alive. Just barely. You know as fun and exciting as track camp sounded, the truth of the matter is that these camps leave you pretty exhausted by the end of the day. The end of the day being 3pm. After relaxing for a little while, getting soe dinner into the belly and trying your best to recover, it really doesn't give you much energy to do anything else. Even going to the grocery store can seem like a huge chore and something put off for as long as possible.

It couldn't be that hard, right? Wrong. Every day I fantasize about taking advantage of sunny southern California and every day all I want to do when i get back to my little home away from home at the extended stay is curl up in a ball and pray my legs stop throbbing. Just kidding, it's not that bad - I only sucked my thumb and cried for mommy one night. :)

So, our days, or excuse me, our mornings begin with a 7:30 track side discussion where we cover the video taken the day before and break down our individual strengths and weaknesses. After we watch our exchanges and standing starts, Benjamin then relays our objective of the day and we begin our track time around 9am. It's super important to fuel right so you have enough in the tank to do a full out effort but not too much so it revisits you later. I am made fun of for having a two pound bag of smarties at track side, but you won't catch me unnecessarily bonking. Those little candies have saved me on more than one occasion.

I might have mentioned this before but our group has doubled in size compared to the last camp. We are now thirteen, which often has us split into four groups. Megan and I are often paired together in preparation for our upcoming world cup extravaganza and either kristin macgrath or Hanan rotate into our group. Our goal is to hit a 3:35 schedule and we're training each effort with 100% intensity. It's actually pretty exhausting, both mentally and physically to be on for each and every effort but absolutely necessary if we want to accomplish our lofty goals.

Tomorrow is the last day if the development camp and all of the elite riders fly in to start their camp on Tuesday. Megan and I will get to take tuesday as a rest day and I'm looking forward to a little down time to recharge my batteries and get ready for another big block of training prior to my taper.

One other thing i thought I would mention since I keep updating my Facebook with nice warm, so-cal pictures is that yes, the weather is that nice, but we're also working hard down here and other then the 2.5 hour ride in the mid-afternoon we really don't get out much. Ha! I know, salt in the wound.

I hope to give you more details during my rest day coming up. Till then, stay warm and dry!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day one

It's the morning of day one at track camp, installment 2.0. Everyone gathered yesterday afternoon at the velodrome to go for a spin down to the beach in preparation for the week's efforts. Our camp ballooned to twelve girls, nearly double what we had last month. I'm surrounded by a lot of talent and their jerseys show it - peanut butter & co/2012 and tibco are almost even in numbers. Which means this week should be good and hard.

I'm feeling good - rested and possibly more fit than before. To be able to continue training this hard this late into the season is pretty remarkable. And I could easily get used to putting in the serious base miles in the warmer spring and summer months in preparation for a winter spent on indoor velodromes.

Installment 2.0 stepped it up a little two with the support we have - a bona Fide care taker (I'm avoiding any attempts to try and spell the word associated with that role!), mechanic and coach. We are set up for success.

One note I will mention is that this first week is the development camp and next week, Megan and I are staying on to get some experience in the elite camp. We should have a solid block of training prior to melbourne.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010


It's the eve before my first of three departures that begins my world cup adventure. I'm trying to get my track bike tucked away in its cardboard travel box as quickly as possible, but keep getting distracted. Between doing laundry, running last minute errands, selling a car, setting up auto bill pay, getting gym memberships put on hold, picking up gifts, attending some last minute details and figuring out I could use about three of myself right now - it's no wonder it's taken me three hours to pack. Couple all of that with a huge dose of excitement - and well here I am.

For the record my bike is almost in its box...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The power of three.

It's a good thing I didn't read the fine print on my training schedule until after I had started my first interval set of 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off, 3 minutes on, 3 minutes off, and 3 minutes on. My goal is to maintain a rpm of 115 cadence and power output of 350 watts. Translation for normal folk: F&*$#ing hard.

So you can imagine my surprise when I glanced down after my first interval while on my 10 minute active rest and saw that this week had a 3 x three minute burners instead of the accustomed two. Luckily Universal Sports had some high power action volleyball on the telly and I could zone out, try to imagine the energy it takes to bump, set, spike instead of the throb that consumes your entire body. But there was no denying - this was going to hurt.

To digest those efforts, I process them mentally one minute at a time. Sometimes even 30 seconds, 15 seconds and down to 10 seconds at a time. It helps to have a goal in mind when you do them - because no one is around to see if you're cheating or not. No one would know if you just quit or never even did the efforts. And maybe this is what sets me apart from a lot of people - but I've never struggled with that motivation. If I know something will make me stronger, both mentally and physically, especially when it comes to competing on a world level, well I need no additional motivation to pump out those intense efforts.

That extra little set this morning put me in the hurt box, for sure. My floor mat was soaked in sweat and my clothing absolutely drenched. Yet despite the utter exhaustion that still ravishes my body - even after 5 hours! - it left a huge smile on my face.

Oh those big goals I speak of? I'm chasing them in every way possible.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


I remember when I first started racing and training over six years ago, I logged some serious solo winter training miles. At the time, Ryan Miller was coaching me and at the peak of the winter I put in 22 hours a week on the bike, an unheard of amount for a category 4 racer. I found those solo efforts therapeutic and a little neurotic - especially when it would pour rain and no one else was on the trail.

I remember one ride in particular; a cold wet December day. I had a five hour ride on tap and it was absolutely miserable out. But I had a giddy smirk on my face, knowing with every fiber in my body that I was a world class athlete. And now, six or so years later, with life's ups and downs - I am realizing my dreams.

So here's to dreaming big and never giving up. The sacrifices, the injuries, the determination and discipline - was all worth it. I choose to live life to the fullest and surround myself with people who do the same. You are the master of your own destiny.

Monday, November 01, 2010

How to fatten up after race season is over...


But for now I get to remain a slim buck fifty and dream about cookies, ice cream, donuts and cake... This is the first time I've ever been this fit this time of year and damn it feels good! But you can bet your bottom dollar once this "world cup" action is over - I'm making those peanut butter chocolate dipped bombs immediately.

Mmmmm.... peanut butter. Chocolate. Chocolate peanut butter. My mouth is watering.

Oh the sacrifices!