Sep 28, 2008
Sep 25, 2008
i went for my yearly visit to the dermatologist in august and pointed out all the spots that concerned me. only one concerned her. she froze it off and i got a clean bill of health. i was good to go. one month later, while shaving my legs, i noticed a spot that had never even been there, and so i did what she had told me to do and just made a mental note to keep an eye on it. this wasn't difficult to do. it changed weekly. then daily. which made me mental.
i got on the google and went down the checklist of symptoms, looked at all the gruesome spotty pictures. check, check, check and omg, check. and for weeks, i would call my doctor and beg to be seen asap. i would explain how it was at first changing weekly, then daily; and they would explain they had an opening two months down the road. i thought i could be dead two months down the road. (i am a worst case scenario girl, i can be very dramatic). then i started calling daily to ask if there were any cancellations. i was always told about the two month wait.
but then, through the magic of a friend who is married to a doctor, who does a freakishly good job of pretending to be a nurse - i get a coveted appointment with a different dermatologist. so i go and see him. and he comes right in and looks at the spot that has convinced me i have melanoma and assures me that's not the case. and now i have the peace of mind i wanted all along and i can breathe a sigh of relief.
but. as he was talking to me and explaining what sort of spot it was and that it wasn't alarming to him but how i did the right thing because the alarming spots and the perfectly normal spots will all do the same alarming things; he looked at me with such scrutiny and intensity as he talked; i knew that my face was a road map of my love affair with the sun and held all the dirty little secrets of my sunny sins and indiscretions.
i knew that he knew i had lounged out in my back yard as a teenager with baby oil on my face and a double record album covered in tin foil. i knew he knew my high school friend and i laid out on one of those foil blankets while on vacation to maximize our sun exposure and go home with a good tan. i knew he knew about that really bad sunburn i got on my legs in my 20's. that shameful tanning bed phase. he knew i spent my childhood summers on a beach, by a pool, and winters were spent skiing where on a sunny day you could get a rockin' tan with the added bonus of the reflection off the snow. i had the feeling my face was speaking volumes and all i could see was a double record album covered in tin foil.
and that's when he said it:
you have a 100% chance of getting skin cancer. you will get it within the next 10 years.
after all of my google research i was practically convinced that i was going in to the doctor to be told i have skin cancer. well, thankfully; i don't have it. today. he told me how it would happen and what i needed to look out for. and he never said if. he said when. and i kept thinking: a 100% chance? really? really? why not 98% ? 80? can i get a second opinion? don't you want to do one of those snazzy infrared picture things of my face? or is my face that bad that you can tell with the naked eye? good god. if someone told me i had a 100% chance of breast cancer, i'd get my boobs lopped off. no problem. if someone told me i had a 100% chance of uterine or ovarian cancer - hello hysterectomy. but skin cancer? what do i do? well. i know what to do. i go in to the doctor and get each offensive spot burned off and hope i caught it on time. i have to say the skeptic new yorker in me that my father raised couldn't help but wonder how much money he would get every time i went in to get something burned off.
i'm a smart girl. really. i am. i wear sunscreen. in the summer. when i am sitting by the pool. and shamefully, that's about it. i know you are supposed to wear it all the time. in winter, on rainy days, on cloudy days. every day, all the time. i'll start that now, but 40 years worth of sun damage is done, and while 100% sounds really alarmist, i am actually strangely calm about it. i guess its good to know in that crystal ball sort of way. i know what to look out for and i know it can get taken care of if i catch it on time. i am now on a diligent, religious spot-watch for the next 10 years.
i'll keep that appointment that i have for two months down the road with my regular doctor and get that second opinion. see if she sees the same shameful road map on my face that todays' doctor saw. but still. a 100% chance? shit. that's pretty solid. i gotta go slap on some sunscreen. and wear knee socks.
Sep 24, 2008
Sep 20, 2008
but as i was gathering up the girls from a birthday party, where i was being given an entire pizza to take home to my still powerless house, my husband called with the good news that we were once again, back on the grid.
the past seven days have been an interesting adventure in contrasts. there was much about the power outage that i loved: i was amazed by how quiet everything was without that undercurrent of a hum of computers, refridgerators, and every other manner of electrical appliance. i loved going to bed soon after it got dark and waking up when the light hit our bedroom. i loved playing board games with the kids. i loved how social everyone in the neighborhood was - everyone would mill about outside trying to soak up the last bits of light & then would gather around our driveway campfire. as friends' power came on, they'd have impromptu dinner parties and it was perfectly acceptable to bring your laundry; and then to leave their parties with the flashlights & coolers that they no longer needed.
all of this was actually really nice.
and sorta fun.
but. without that hum of electricity, my kids never really had any zoned-out down time - sadly, that damn tv provides a bit of a recharge to my oldest in particular. so while nothing else was wired; my kids were. when they decided to dock the ss imagination for refueling, they would get bored and push each other's buttons to see exactly how crazy they could make one another (and subsequently, me). i think one day i screamed at the top of my lungs for them all to get the hell away from each other. they just looked at me stunned & then went to their separate corners.
i was getting tired of the daily search for an outlet and a table at the coffee shop to get online. i am behind on more work than i want to think about. and if i had to eat another pb&j or granola bar or banana; i was going to explode. if i had to go to the store again only to find they were out of ice or tiny bottles of milk for cereal i would have just sit down in the aisle and cried. i think it was just yesterday morning i would have killed someone for an omelet with spinach and feta cheese and tomatoes; and when i took the kids out for breakfast in search of that perfect meal, all i found were restaurants also out of power and so it was back home to the local diner where i got my eggs, but they weren't as dreamy as i imagined.
that cooler that we brought home from a dinner party? i never thought having a cooler and being able to have mayonnaise to make tuna fish would bring such joy into my home. i went to the market and bought an entire half gallon of milk, not just the little chug a lug size. i bought grapes, and pre-cooked chicken to make into chicken salad. i bought greens for a salad. greens, chicken and cold grapes have never been so yummy.
my house is lit up like vegas now. i went down to my basement to throw in a load of laundry and laughed at myself as i grabbed the lantern before heading downstairs. my son is making up for lost time online by cramming in as much you tube and line rider games as he can before bed. and the noise is driving me to distraction. i can hear my husband and i clacking away on our laptops. i can hear the still empty refigerator humming and the dryer in the basement. all the daily hums of a modern life that we took for granted until just 7 days ago seem so loud and annoying now. my girls were watching that insipid disney channel earlier - they have since been sent to bed, but i can hear them walking around upstairs, pro-longing bedtime. all week, we've sent the kids up to bed & they've been asleep within minutes. no last minute trips to bathroom for water, no pleading to leave any hall light on. just instant sleep.
there were plenty of moments that i wanted to tear my hair out and when the whole thing had crossed the line from fun and adventure to complete tedium. but it could have been a lot worse. we could have had a tree through our house. it could have been 90 degrees all week. we could have had no hot water. but we didn't have any of those issues - in the grand scheme of things, the inconvenience of it all wound up to be sort of nice.
i'm just sayin.
it wasn't so bad.
i'm gonna miss certain aspects of it.
but first i'm going to shut off some of these lights that are on, finish checking my emails, catch up on some blogs, switch my laundry, set my alarm - because tomorrow i can't wake up with the sun -and go to bed.
those lawn chairs gathered around our driveway campfire look a little lonely. we're gonna have to make that a regular gig.
Sep 17, 2008
we’re on day 4 of no power courtesy of ike. well for us personally, day one didn't really count - we were racing in ohio and left just as the 55+ mph winds were hitting the elite racers and the power probably went out at home. the drive home in the airstream in the winds that had just hit louisville was an adventure indeed.
that first night home was fun. (the fact that there were no trees through our roof had much to do with the fact that the power outage was fun). we got back from the race and headed back out on our ‘cross bikes to go to the market to get candles and matches. and having to dodge debris and dismount and pick our bikes up to get over the tree across the road on the way to the market made it feel just like a cross course. we wandered through the market with our bikes and went home and brought our firepit out front and had a driveway campfire – lawn chairs and all. our neighbors made their way over to officially make it a party. there was lots of beer to be drunk before it went bad. we have our priorities.
and the next day, with no school - there was no need for alarms; we woke up with the sun and had a lot of work to do. there was debris to be cleaned up and chicken to be rescued. my 12 year old with no school or computer to occupy him got on his bike at 8:30 am announcing he was heading out to “survey the situation”. he doesn't ever head out on his bike that early. a friend called and had power at her apartment downtown – there was still hope for the shitload of chicken breasts i bought on sale. i rushed the $30 worth of chicken downtown and hung out at her apartment while i juiced up my phone only to go back out to the car to find a $25 parking ticket on my car. they had nothing better to do? no debris to clean up? no one to go rescue? i should have just thrown the chicken in garbage & stayed home.
but there was still an air of fun and adventure about it all.
it was fun to go to the coffee shop to get online. and on line to buy coffee. (although i sent my husband to get on line while i snagged a table and an outlet to get online). the whole neighborhood was in one place. you bumped into friends & chatted; caught up on the whole storm experience.
we went to bed early & woke up with the sun the next day too. not getting up at the butt crack of dawn for school buses was fun. what wasn’t fun was emptying out the entire fridge & freezer and dumping every last bit of food in the garbage. i will say my fridge has never been cleaner. i do wonder how long ago and what it was that spilled that required the use of a spatula and half a spray bottle of simple green to dislodge the gooey mess from the bottom.
when we put the kids to bed on monday night they asked what we would do the next day. i told them we were going to set sail on the SS Imagination. the girls ate it up and my 12 year old asked me why i had to be such a dork. i teased them and said there would be a scrabble tournament on the lido deck at 10 am. my son played along and said make it 10:31 … and sure enough at 10:31 yesterday morning, my hands full of a spatula of gooey-ness from the bottom of the fridge the kids stood in the doorway with the scrabble box beaming: “scrabble on the lido deck at 10:31!”.
i don’t know how many stores i've been to in search of D batteries. people. this is one of those emergency staples. all those good lantern-type flashlight things take D batteries. it would behoove you to have some on hand for just such an emergency. D batteries and a cooler bigger than a six pack. we don’t have these things. nor do any stores right now.
i was tired of the outage yesterday when i had to bring the kids to the office so i could get online & get a few things done (most importantly posting the race report from first 'cross race!) – we commandeered the conference room and they played school on the whiteboard and had rolling chair races and spinning contests and then started crank calling people down the hall. time to go home.
three days without power has its' fleeting moments of niceness and fun; watching the kids set sail on the ss imagination and using their god-given brains for fun and entertainment instead of a tv and a computer is great. but its' not without its moments of tediousness - waiting in line for coffee and batteries and dinner tables at our favorite restuarant, no tables or outlets at the coffee shop and tons of work to get done... the air of fun and adventure is quickly dwindling.
but - the outage was fun again last night when we roasted marshmallows and made ‘smores over the campfire in our driveway and hung out with neighbors and friends under the moonlit sky. think we'll be lighting another fire tonight. you're welcome to come on over.
Sep 16, 2008
registration was a cluster (and i was pre-registered to avoid such a cluster). i had registered for womens’ open but later regretted that choice. i had hoped they would be able to switch me to the master’s womens’ group, (solely on the assumption that i would place better in masters! - and actually, i would have placed 3rd) but the volunteer was in the weeds to put it mildly and i had no chance in hell of getting switched. open women’s race it was. registration was such a cluster that 3 days later results are still not up. (the insane winds from hurricane ike and subsequent loss of power probably have much to do with it!) i have no idea where i came in - all i know is i was not dead last - believe it was somewhere in front third! phew.
i was able to squeeze in a quick pre-ride of the course and it was just enough to freak me the hell out. course overview: tons of crazy short steep hills that went into crazy steep short downhills that went into crazy tight 180 degree turns that went back up into more crazy shorty steep uphills to a 180 degree turn downhill. ride. rinse. repeat. hopefully you get the picture. sadly – my husband said this was nuthin’. the course was easy. there were 2 sets of barriers. no sand. damn. and i had done so much sand practice.
i had a great starting position going through the first turn. my mantra was “race your own race”. i was confident that the hills might slow some girls down and i could start picking them off at some point. but that point came too late in the race, i rode way too timidly and cautious for the first two laps – i had a whole, itsmyfirstcrossraceimjustrtyingtosettleinandseehowitallgoes
excuse going in my head. i was just trying to breathe. at the first set of barriers i miraculously dismounted & hippity hopped over them & got back on my bike and on my merry way. well truth be told, i wasn’t feeling merry. i was mostly feeling hot and thirsty. *now that i have written this i have seen the picture of the "hippity-hop" over the barrier. it's not pretty.
now. in addition to the crazy steep shorty uphills into 180 degree downhill turns there was a lovely, fairly straight and dare i say normal patch of the course; followed by a crazy shit tight S turn with a pine tree in the middle of it. i almost crashed into this pine tree on every lap; but saved myself every lap - i looked away from the tree and tried to look around the turn (this was tough in that the tree blocked your view of the turn). looking where you want to go as opposed to where you are afraid to go is nothing short of miraculous in saving you from where you don’t want to go.
so i’m riding. i’m riding. and it’s hot. it’s really hot. and i’ve never been so parched in my life and i want a hand up but i told my husband i’d be fine and i’m envious of the girl with the camelback. i want to be her. mostly, i just want her camelback. i can’t hear any cowbells and i want some. more hills. come on come on come on. you love hills. more downhills. holy crap this is steep. get back in the saddle. don’t touch the brakes don’t touch the brakes. more crazy tight turns. for the love of god girl look where you want to go. omg. please do not get tangled in that tape. dismounting is a crap shoot. sometimes i nail it. sometimes i’m stuck in my pedal. remounts are not a crap shoot but almost impossible. i. am. so. tired. what number is he holding up? 1? only 1 more lap? that was faster than i thought. one more lap. ok. that girl is pretty close. go pass her. good. now go pass that next girl. ok. i got the hang of this now. oh. bummer for you to have gotten hung up in that pine tree. i am going to pass you now. oh. hey. am sorry to see that you are having trouble on this hill and about to fall over. i am going to pass you now. ok. ok. i get it now! i get it!
i don’t know how many girls i passed on that last lap but it was without a doubt, my best lap. i found all my mojo on the last lap - finally got my head wrapped around the whole thing two laps too late.
i could have worked harder. i mostly know this because when i finished the race i did not want to throw up. nor was i doing any dry-heaving throughout the race. apparently this is a part of cx racing that i missed out on & i think it has a direct correlation to the fact that i was not working all that hard. i wasted my first two laps trying to find my way. but its ok. i got a bunch more races.
next one is in two weeks. i know what i really need to work on now. the best part? when its over. and you are sitting on the steps of the airstream, with a beer in hand. watching the next race going by. the best part is knowing that last year you were content to watch and cheer, but this year you are one of them.
Sep 6, 2008
first things first. my goal for this race was to finish in the top five. mission accomplished with 5th place!
i'll start at the start line. the official went through his whole schpiel & told us the race would be a neutral start for the first few turns out of town and after that the race was open. but i swear, within the first mile of the race, i looked at my computer and wondered what the hell was so neutral about 30mph. neutral my ass. in every road other race i have been in so far, the starts were very civilized. lots of polite, girly chatter. not this one. this race was all business from the get-go. just get in position and GO!
there were two girls up front who were really pushing the pace - this was within that first 'neutral' mile. we hit the first hill, which was a steep doozy of a mother at mile 5, and i watch them get out of their saddles & just gun it - knew they were trying to split the group, and i wanted to be in the break. it was tough as hell but i stayed on; and so, for the first time ever - i was able to stay in the break & be up with the cool girls. i was still reeling from that hill (not so much the hill, but the speed at which we went into & up it), and the two girls just kept pushing the pace - they were hitting the rollers hard & we all started to really string out. by mile 10, they had all just ridden away in a strung out line and i could no longer see anyone (i would find out at the end of the race that every single one of us wound up in essentially, a solo time trail). and we finished the race in exactly the same positions we were in at mile 5 once we had crested the hill and split the group.
i know that when you fall off like that it sometimes behooves you to wait for the second group to catch you so you can work together - no one wants to do a hilly 40 mile race alone. that said, i also knew that no one behind me was going to be of much help. so now my goal was to just not let anyone catch me. i needed to try to keep putting as much distance as i could between me and the girls behind me. i knew they were not climbers, but i also figured they might have some power on the flats & could certainly catch me on a descent, so i never, ever let up. i went faster on downhills that i have ever gone and just settled into a steady pace in the hills. i would look back every now & then to ensure that the girls behind hadn't organized themselves into any chase group. i even asked passing guys from the citizens' race how far back they were and was assured they were 'very' far back. (still, i never sat up -never stopped pedaling).
at about mile 37, with 3 miles left to go, i looked back and in the very far off distance i thought i caught a glimpse of the kit colors of one of the women that we dropped at mile 5. but i didn't have my glasses on & so couldn't be sure. i looked back a few more times and the orange and black dot may have been slightly closer, but i still couldn't tell. so i just kept going as hard as i could. i had worked too hard to keep my 5th place spot, there was no way i was going to lose it this close to finish.then, with 1 mile left to go. one mile! i look behind me and realize that orange and black dot was exactly who i feared it was because she was on. my. wheel! on my wheel. i may have said holy crap out loud. not sure. i was simultaneously impressed and worried as hell. as i noticed her, we were coming up to a hill that starts a series of turns to the finish. she may have just bridged a gap of 34 miles, but i knew she wasn't going to be able to keep up with me on the hill if i really hammered it - i could buy myself just a tiny bit of time. so i just gunned it and rode away. when i got to the top and looked back, i swear she was still at the bottom of it.
i still wasn't safe. this race had a crit-style finish and i figured it could be my downfall if i found myself with anyone who was better at turns than me (and that would be everyone). but i also thought i'll be damned if i lose 5th place in the last few turns. suffice it to say, i have never gone through a series of turns faster in my life. every time i looked back, she was maybe a block away, maybe closer. i thought if she can get dropped at mile 5, haul ass on that hilly mofo of a course and catch someone at mile 39, she could probably take me on the thing i suck the most at: turns.
i finally turned that last turn, saw the finish archway and was enormously relieved to see that it was closer than i thought - if i had to sprint her, and i thought it could come down to that; i could do it. i gave a quick look back to see where she was. and she wasn't too close, but she wasn't that far away either. she was medium distance.
so. i start to really haul ass. i mean really. big ring, all out - i am going for it. 5th place is mine.
one split second, i look back to gauge where she was, and when i look forward again - there is a CAR in front of me. at a dead stop. i'll say it again. a car pulls out onto the course and stops. and now a car is between me and my sprint to the finish. i can hear the race directors screaming at the car and waving it to just keep going forward. i'm still propelling myself forward, fully confident that the driver will actually propel his car forward and move out of my damn way. i am so confident that he'll either move forward or just remain stopped, and i have a perfectly wide enough passing spot on the right, that i just keep going.
just as i decide to go to his right, he decides to TURN RIGHT down a side street.
and i scream and lock the brakes and can feel my back wheel skid out a bit and because the cycling gods were smiling down on me and maybe my grandparents too, i am able to clip out and stop in time so i don't crash into him or fall and be run over by his back wheel as he makes the damn turn. i stopped so close to the car that there was no room to even go around to the left. i have to actually sit there and wait for him to complete his turn. and off he goes on his clueless merry little way and i bet he never even saw me.
and all of this happens in what feels like a nano-second. and now i am at a dead stop in the big ring. the adrenaline is pumping, i'm freaked out and mad for all kinds of reasons, moreso over losing my spot than almost biting it mere feet from the finish line. i don't even look back - i don't want to know where she is, for all i know, she had already crossed the line. so i clip in, and try my best to kick it (which is hard in big ring from dead stop) and i still take 5th place. i looked to my left just as i crossed and she was right. there.
we rolled around together to the parking lot & i gave her kudos for the good job chasing back on. and she said she thought that near crash was going to be really ugly - i imagine it looked pretty bad and so i am assuming she slowed down a bit to avoid any possible carnage. also highly impressive that she caught me. more highly impressive there was no carnage involving me.
this was a hilly, tough course. i loved it. loved it even more when i hit the biggest, toughest hill of the course (which was nowhere near as hard as the hill on this course) and steadily made my way up past guys who were walking it. now, all this said - i loved the hills when i was hitting them at my pace - going up them at the blistering pace that the two girls had been dictating earlier would have been nearly impossible. i like to think i am good in the hills, but when you get in a race with the higher category girls (and for the first time you are actually in the break and able to see up close how they work) you really see the differences in strength. those girls up front pushing the pace and hammering every roller were a force to be reckoned with - they just rode away and left the rest of us in their wake. they hammered the hills, splintered the group and very deservedly took first and second. i want to be where they are next year.
i would occasionally get discouraged these past few months, thinking i hadn't improved enough (i have very high, bordering on completely unreasonable expectations for myself). my husband would remind me all the time that its my first season, i came into it with some fitness from running, but no bike base. but in this last month especially, i really started to see that i have indeed come a long way from that first race.
so. 12 races later, my first road race season is complete. bring on the long winter team training rides. cause i can't wait to see what a good bike base and a second season does.
Sep 4, 2008
that whole xml error that was driving me to disctraction? yeah. um. total user error. do not cut and paste the code into html space. you have to browse out to where you saved it and upload it from there. i'm pretty sure all the instructions said to do that too. we still have to hack the code here and there to get things to work; so all in good time. welcome to my new place.
i had a great half finished post about volunteering at ironman last weekend. our team manned a water stop on the bike portion of the course. we were the first stop at 12 miles, then when the last rider went through (bless her doctors-told-her-she'd-never-walk-again heart), we packed up and moved across the street to get them all at mile 100. i finally got to see the sippy cups with foot long straws in action. real action. not just 25 mile club ride stuff. i was amazed to see what some of them accomplish while riding the bike, at a faster average speed than i ever ride. they're tossing bottles, grabbing bottles, putting things in pockets and on the bike - and then, like a benihana chef on the roll, they're concocting things in that sippy cup. pouring in powders, gatorade and water. some sort of magic ironman nectar of the gods that gets them through 112 miles. mixing things in my kitchen is sometimes messy enough and i usually need to follow a recipe book. doing it into a little bottle on the front of your bike, while you are riding it, embarking on 112 miles - only to be followed by the insanity of a marathon and having just swum 2.5 miles? highly impressive.
my heart ached for the few people who pulled off to the side, got off their bikes and practically fell to the ground. i thought they were out for good. not sure why i thought this, i know first hand you can pull off to the side of a race, even be put in an ambulance and not be out for good - just an hour. they complained about the heat and nutrition and gi issues, and i could feel their pain. my stomach tied up in knots just thinking about how many gels and powerbars they had consumed, or hadn't consumed seeing as most of them said they could't keep anything down. we got them towels soaked in ice & any real food we could get our hands on. (note to ironman organizers - every other athlete that rolled through asked for a banana). a little ice, rest, food and time and they all slowly but surely got back on the bikes and rolled off - cheered on by a bunch of us happy to see them upright and soldiering on. 102.5 miles behind them and 38.2 ahead of them. it boggles the mind. amazing.
my favorite temporary casualty was the belgium man who races 'cross and was thrilled (i think as thrilled you can be 100 miles into a race on a 93 degree day) to find himself at an aid station manned by a cycling team - the majority of whom are currently gearing up to race 'cross. we got an invite to visit should we ever go to belgium.
and now while we're on the subject of 'cross, the first race is next weekend and i'm nowhere near ready. i hear you're never really ready for your first race, so i suspect that this next biking adventure will be much like my first road season - every race is training and experience. the skills and drills have been an enormous help and i was overjoyed to get a huge kudos on my progress from my husband at tuesday nights' pratice. i can also tell that some of the handling skills i am slowly picking up at 'cross are eeking their way onto my road bike. which is excatly what i had hoped would happen, since my handling skills on the road leave so much to be desired.
and while we're on the subject of road riding, my first season comes to an end after my last race this saturday. a very hilly 40 mile race. that race i am ready for, and i can't wait.
Sep 3, 2008
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oh for the love of all that's bloggy and good - if i see this message one more time, i'm going to burst at the bloggy seams. i do the google. i do the research. i even know how to do some weensy coding. i know everything has to end with a '>'. my eyes are glazing over just looking for the missing '>'. i've deleted all my beloved widgets knowing i can just make them again. i started a 'test' blank canvas of a blog to try out some of the wicked cool new templates i found, so as not to risk losing any of the sheer literary genius that exists in this little space on the web.