Tuesday, November 13

Happy Hour Yoga

It's about time I take a break from some of these darker posts that I've been writing for both my sanity and yours. While things were still a little rocky Friday I decided to treat myself to a yoga class before heading down to Erik's for the weekend. I've been researching studios around my apartment and I came across one that looked promising. Friday nights there is a happy hour yoga class with a special price of $5. I figured it's hard to turn down a class priced like that and at that point I was pretty much desperate for a hour long break from my thoughts.

While I initially had trouble finding the studio which is in a old factory which I think had something to do with the fact that it was pretty much pitch dark outside and the signs for yoga weren't exactly lit up, I eventually awkwardly followed one person inside this abandoned factory because she was carrying a yoga mat.

I always find it funny that while I get super nervous in new situations I'm usually feel pretty darn confident walking into fitness type classes. I was able to chat with the instructor for a bit before picking a spot in the studio to pick up my mat. It was pretty apparent that there is a core group of people that show up on Friday nights and I apparently had taken one of their spots. The way I look at it thought is that I showed up about 10 minutes before class and when I entered the studio is was about 2 minutes before class so if you aren't there in your spot how on earth would I know I'm in it? Of course I would have moved if it really bothered someone that much and they politely asked instead I just got to hear the grumbling about the new girl in class. Obviously that's not the best way to start but oh well it's life I suppose.

I figured if I ended up liking the class that I would continue with it for a while because after looking at my budget I figured I could swing $20 dollars a month for weekly yoga. I ended up pushing myself in the class pretty hard and was still sore about two days later but the feeling I had when I left the studio was amazing. I walked to my car and just felt lighter, I sang along to the radio the whole way to Erik's and I was just enjoying the moment for the first time in a while.

So I guess the moral of this little post is that it's good every now and then to treat yourself, it doesn't have to be something incredibly fancy, whether it's a yoga class or maybe a pedicure, it's just important to take that extra time to do something you love and that makes you happy.

Thursday, November 8

"We accept the love we think we deserve"

Last night I saw the movie The Perks of Being A Wallflower with my good friend Joe. I had read the book countless times and was excited to finally see the movie. If you haven't read the book or seen the movie I would definitely recommend it. While it touches on some particular hard situations I think it tells a great story but definitely bring some tissues, you'll certainly want them.

I wasn't expecting the movie to hit me as hard as it did though and I left the movie feeling incredibly anxious, nervous and like I was in this weird haze. I wasn't my usually talkative self, in fact I had nothing to say. Joe and I walked around the mall for a bit and Joe tried to keep up a conversation with me but I couldn't focus. We walked, he talked and I nodded along with a few "oh yeahs" and "yups" added in for good measure. My mind raced with thoughts and I was flooded with this wave of vivid flashbacks that I tried so hard to bury down. I can't tell you what we talked about last night as we walked the corridors of the mall but I could tell you the things that raced through my brain. I can tell you about the images and experience I've worked so hard to bury down.

We eventually headed back to my parents so that Joe could be reunited with his car and so we could part ways and both head home. As I drove Joe talked and I tried so hard to listen but I couldn't shake the feeling I had. Joe knew something was wrong. I was antsy and I was nervous. As I pulled onto my parents street Joe requested that we just keep driving, I obliged and turned the car around and headed back out. My mind raced and I tried so hard to focus on the words coming out of Joe's mouth. I still can't tell you what we talked out, I just have no idea. We stopped at a red light and I remember closing my eyes and taking a deep breath in, trying to snap out of whatever was happening. But as soon as I closed my eyes I was flooded with vivid images of that night I was trying so hard to keep out of my mind.

Joe asked if I wanted to talk about whatever it was that was bothering me because clearly there was something wrong. I quickly mentioned that it was no big deal. I had never told anyone about it before and I didn't think that I wanted to talk about it now. We ended up walking laps around Walmart until 10 o'clock that night. Joe talked, we walked, and my mind raced. Joe bought two packages of these wafer creme cookies that my grandfather used to buy and when we got to the car he opened a pack. I was distracted from my thoughts as tried so hard to focus on something else. I reminisced about the memories that these cookies brought up and eventually we made it back to my parents. We solidified our plans for next week and as he hugged me tightly he told me that he was always around to talk.

We parted way, I said goodbye to my parents and headed home. I drove in this feeling of a haze and every time my mind started swirling with memories from that night I just belted Taylor Swift even louder. I tried so hard to push the memories back down but it wasn't working.

I walked into my apartment and stood there taking a few deep breathes. I could see my breath and I realized I had turned my heat off that morning. I walked upstairs and turned on the electric blanket in my bed to warm it up and eventually made my way in after I brushed my teeth. I couldn't look at myself in the mirror. I blamed myself for what had happened that night over two years .

I got in bed and texted Joe a quick thanks for dinner. He asked how I was and if I wanted to talk. Eventually I sat up in my bed, called Joe while  fighting back tears and I told him everything. This time I talked and  he listened. I closed my eyes and once again relived that night like I had so many times before. I told him how I blame myself, how when I said no and he didn't listen that I should have left. I shouldn't have lingered around, it only made things worse. I should have left. I've always blamed myself for what happened, I should have left as soon as things got weird and I was uncomfortable. It's been over two years and I still wonder why I didn't leave sooner. Thankfully I was able to get myself out of the situation before things got really bad, but I should have never had those bruises. I should have left before that happened before he tried to hold me down. I should have left sooner. I remember the feeling as I ran out of his house shaking so much I could barley open the car door. I remember driving back to my dorm that night after I fought so hard to get him off of me. I drove back in a haze. I felt numb. I remember sitting in the living room that evening while my roommates talked. I just sat there, I never told anyone. I remember getting out of the shower the following day and looking in the mirror. His hand prints were bruised on my thighs as a reminder of what had happened. They stayed there for weeks until they eventually vanished from sight. Truth is, they've never vanished from my memory. I can close my eyes and still seem them there, I can see myself looking in the mirror in disbelief of what had happened.

He tried to contact me later that night, and has tried to contact me every few months. I've blocked his number but he still finds a way to creep back in. I remember walking into Wegmans from a quick snack after a Tysabri infusion a few months ago and I saw him. My heart raced, he saw me, I turned around and quickly walked to my car. I remember sitting in my car reliving it all over again.

After talking with Joe I eventually able to calm down enough to get some sleep. I went to bed feeling less anxious and nervous than I had before that call and for that I was thankful. I woke up this morning for the feeling oddly lighter. Maybe this was the first step to really moving past it, I don't know, but I'm thankful I had someone there who was willing to listen last night. Thankful that Joe didn't prod for more details or ask me endless questions, he just let me talk and say what I've held in for years.

It feels good to finally get this out of my head. I'm hoping I'll be able to finally stop blaming myself for what happened.

There's a line from the movie last night that resonated with me so much, "We accept the love we think we deserve." I'm finally realizing that I deserve a whole heck of alot more. I contacted a Etsy jewelry designer today to get this stamped onto a necklace and soon I will wear it as a constant reminder of not only that message but as the night I finally decided to start moving on and working through what happened.

Friday, November 2

I Accidentally Saw A Post About You On Facebook.

So I accidentally saw a post about you on Facebook. You'll never see this so I figure it's rather safe to post it, plus if you did happen to stumble upon it I'm sure you wouldn't even realize it was about you.
We used to be really close friends but when I was was in the hospital during my second hospitalization for a flare you and your parents spoke unforgivable and extremely hurtful words.

At the time I had only known of the things you said to me in that email, your words so sharp and twisted. I remember the pain those words caused as I sat in a hospital bed unable to talk, unable to walk, and unable to take care of myself. I've blocked alot out from those weeks I spent in the hospital but I've never been unable to block out the things you said to me.

My parents told me months later about the time they ran into your parents at the local Wegmans one night when they had just come back from a long day at the hospital with me. They used to drive the 90+ minute drive every day for weeks and would have a routine stop at the store to pick up whatever food they thought they might be able to get me to eat once I was able to start swallowing any kind of pureed food into my system. Your parents stood in the grocery store and repeatedly told my parents that I was making it seem worse that it was, that I was lying about having MS and that they were just enabling me. I'm sorry but the countless MRI's of lesions on my brain do not lie.

It's years later now and still whenever I see you in the grocery store or at the mall I turn the other direction. Earlier this year I was at the gym changing my shoes for a workout and two feet stood next to me. When I got up I saw it was you and the hurt came rushing back. You acted like we were old friends and wanted to chat and meet up for lunch. I had so many things I wanted to say to you, the things I never got a chance to say, the things I've thought about saying for years. Instead I stood there in awe at how you acted like nothing had changed. Like it was still high school and we were the best of friends.

It's funny though because just how I've never forgotten those words you wrote to me in a email my parents will never forgot the words yours spoke to mine. I remember my mom and I went to the movies last spring and your dad was right in front of us in line. The line weaved though the outside of the theater and the wait was ridiculous, it was a Saturday night. I tried not to notice him but I know my mom did. Her and I continued to chat about random things until your dad turned around. He started to ask about me and I gave out the simplest of response hoping to end the chat as soon as possible. He started to talk about you like I was so interested in what you were doing. We heard you were working for a successful accounting firm downtown and living on your own. It was all information I could have cared less to know, yet he continued. Finally we made it to the window and bought tickets. He bought two tickets for the same show. My mom and I made our way into the packed theater and grabbed two seats, he and your mom sat right next to you. Me and your dad shared a armrest. I've never felt so anxious in a theater before.

It's amazing after all these years I can't ever imagine having a normal conversation with you. Sure people fight and end friendships everyday, but we never fought. I never responded to your email, your words said enough and for me to try and convince you otherwise would have been pointless. You wrote those words because you clearly believed in them. Your parents spoke those words because they clearly believed they were true. There was no convincing either party that they were wrong.

I guess I would have thought after being such good friends for over 10 years you would have at least visited me in the hospital and seen for yourself before writing the email. I like to say that I don't hate anyone, because hate is such a strong word and feeling to have. What I can say is that I find what you said to be unforgivable. Still to this day, almost four years later I still feel the same way. You can't take back those words you said and maybe you've forgotten what you wrote, but I haven't. My parents haven't forgotten what yours said either. My dad who will make friendly "small talk" with anyone, even with people he doesn't necessarily like, will avoid your parents like the plague, even after all these years, and we've never seen him do that to anyone before.

So yeah, I saw the post about you yesterday. Your engaged to a guy almost ten years our senior. I've blocked you from my news feed on Facebook years ago but somehow this slipped through the cracks. It's funny how a simple post can flood back memories. I suppose if you hadn't said those things we would still be friends, and I'd probably be your maid of honor and we'd be knee deep in wedding plans. It's funny how one email can change everything.

In spite of everything I still wish you the very best.

Thursday, November 1

The Guilt of Taking a Sickday

This past weekend Erik and I both came down with really fun sicknesses. I spent Sunday moving at a pretty slow pace with a combination of a fever, sore throat and body aches. I'd classify it as the flu but I've been told the flu just isn't going around yet in this area. About 8 hours after my initial symptoms started Erik started seeing the same ones happen to him so by Sunday night we were in bed by 8:30 with hopes that sleep would be the cure all.

Unfortunately for me it's currently day 6 of this sickness, this "flu" turned head cold, turned crazy cough turned back to head cold. It's OK to be jealous, I know I would be of this thing. While Erik initially had the same symptoms as me his "sickness" has diminished and apparently it is basically nonexistent at this point. OK, so maybe I'll admit that I'm actually really jealous of him right now.

All week I've come to work, even during Jury Duty (yeah I had that too this week) I came into work on my lunch break and have heard things like "thank goodness you are hear - I was worried you would be out sick!" Of course shortly after I'd hear that I'd be awarded with some crazy assignment they would want done with some unrealistic time table for a turn around. Maybe if I'd taken a sick day I currently wouldn't be sick. Food for thought I guess...but alas I'm still sick.

It's funny, even when I am sick I feel so much guilt if I take a sick day. My company gives us 10 sick days a year and I've used one thus far, but I can honestly tell you I've been sick way more than just once this year. I guess eventually I'm going to have to learn how to utilize a sick day without feeling guilty because why should I feel guilty if I really am sick? Partially I feel like I am going to miss out on something but what really am I going to miss out on? Yesterday I would have missed the distribution of our annual bonus checks, but without the check stub it still would have been deposited in my account and my boss could have just gave me his thank you for your hard work, this is a token of our appreciation speech for the next day anyways. Hopefully, sometime soon I'll start to feel alright about taking a sick day when I need it, there's no reason to feel guilty for taking care of yourself, work doesn't always need to come first.

I decided that Wednesday night would be my sick night, I'd stay on the couch with the exception of going to the door to hand out candy. I even turned down plans with a family friend after countless texts of all the reasons why I shouldn't (he really should be a post of it's own sometime soon). When I first started looking at apartments I was excited at the prospect at being able to hand out candy on Halloween because I'd always love going trick-or-treating as a kid. I share a front porch with my neighbor and the first group of kids walked right past my door so I kindly asked my neighbor to make sure she points them in my direction before the leave. By 7:15 I had run out of candy which was pretty impressive seeing as it was about 40 degrees and raining outside. The past years I've handed out candy at my parents and we would average about 20 kids so I bought a bag of 58 pieces of candy and had about 30 fruit snack packs that I usually bring in my lunch as backups. I fully expected to be eating leftover candy this week, and actually looked forward to it. I do however plan to raid my parents extra stash after out weekly dinner this evening.

By about 7:50 I was quite bored with my sick night and found myself on my bike trainer for a "easy ride" and rode through It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown while it played on TV because who can resist that show, especially when you only have about 7 watchable channels of TV anyways.

Tonight it's dinner with my parents and some much needed grocery shopping. My meals this week have been quite sad as I've emptied my fridge and cabinets. I was supposed to shop Monday night after Jury Duty but fear of the storm drove people to wipe out shelves at the local grocery stores (we only experienced rain and wind, definitely not the same that downstate experienced).

Lastly in the final century riding news update the weather forecast for Saturday shows a high of 42 degrees with a 30% chance of rain/snow. Obviously these are perfect riding conditions, right?

Monday, October 29

Motivation or Something Like It

I've had two rough trainer sessions this week. They were both two hours but I can say I am less sore after my ride last night than I was after Tuesdays ride. Thankfully I had Taylor Swift and my friends over at The Big Bang Theory, The Office and Park's and Rec to keep me company last night.

Even with the best company I still find it hard to drum up motivation, which is obviously clear if you look at my workout log the past few months. Just looking at stats for the past few months shows a clear pattern...when I am motivated for something I train harder.

I guess this is a pretty simple concept and I touched on it in my last post when I mentioned I need a new goal to work towards. Truth is I am craving a goal to work towards. I joked with Erik that I can't really make a new PR goal for a race because the only race I did my goal was to finish. My time was not so great, but I could ride that course today and beat my time with my eyes closed. Of course that's hypothetically speaking because I have yet to master the whole cycling with my eyes blindfolded technique. Hmm...maybe that should be my new goal?

I could make my goal to beat my previous century ride time but I can think of one reason why that wouldn't be a far challange - hills.

My first century we climbed over 3000 feet with one especially killer hill. This century will feature about 800 feet of climbing with the biggest "hill" being that of a bridge over a highway. Yup.

So, even if I beat my previous century time I will still feel like I cheated abit with such a easy course. Of course now that I say this I will probably end up in tears somewhere along the course or something crazy. The biggest issues that I could potentially see causing me to want to quit the ride are:
  • The weather. It's Central New York and we've been known to have snow on the ground by Halloween. Right now the forecast is predicting low 50's with chance of rain. Cold and rain don't seem like the best time on a bike...that's why I bought a bike trainer after all.
  • Boredom. The course is three 33 mile loops with a extra mile added on at the end. The fact that I can sit on my bike trainer for 2 hours at a time and not want to ride my bike through the window speaks volumes, but still I worry about the mind numbing silence that often occurs on long rides in the middle of nowhere. Plus, Erik always seems to ride just enough a head of me to not be able to hear me complain.
  • Getting sick. Ever since I had a training ride where I got sick about 20-30 miles in I always have this fear that I will get sick again during a ride. Nutrition is a tricky subject for me currently and during the century I basically survived on gels and GU like it was my job. My stomach made it quite clear that day that solid food was not allowed but I am hoping that was because my body already hates itself when it's hot.
Of course I suppose there are a few positives to look forward to:
  • The weather. I know, how can this be both good and bad? Well, I thrive in colder weather, seriously it's my jam. I don't get overheated and nasous and that's pretty awesome.
  • It's one last chance to ride outside until April/May. Sure I don't mind my trainer now, but I'm guessing after I spend the next 5-6 months solely riding on that I may want to throw it out of the window.
So to recap in case you got bored and skipped to the bottom, I know we all do it sometimes: I still have no goals, I'll be eating alot of GU next weekend and will attempt to not get sick.

Thursday, October 25

Happy Belated Anniversary To Me

Blogging consistently is tough, I'm busy, I'm sure you are busy, so yeah let's just leave it there.

I'm currently free as one arm has a IV sticking out of it*. I'd provide a picture but who really needs or wants to see that? It's that time again, infusion day, and honestly I have no idea what number infusion it is. I was going to ask the nurse but she graciously allowed me to escape about 30 minutes early after I joked that I've spent a ridiculous amount of hours in the infusion chairs.

A few weeks ago I quietly remembered it was my diagnosis 4 year "anniversary." There may have been cake and there probably would have been wine if I could have found the corkscrew. Every year I've set out to make things better or push myself harder. You know, kinda as a way to say F-you MS, I'm better than ever...or maybe some kind of a I'm awesome and MS just isn't. The people in my life that know I have MS are always surprised on my positive attitude on things but the reality is that I believe if you wait for doom to come it will make your life miserable. Why be miserable if you can choose to live in the moment and just be happy? Positivity is the best drug, seriously, and as cheesy as it sounds I really do believe it.

I'm proud of what I've accomplished since my diagnosis (i.e., graduating college, getting a job, completing a century ride) but I can't help but wonder what I am going to do in the years to come. When I was diagnosed the major thing I wanted to accomplish and worked towards for a long time was the century ride, but now that's done and over with...so what's next?

It's a weird feeling having no big goal to work for...so I am hoping I'll be able to come up with that sometime soon. To keep myself busy I've signed up for a last minute century ride the first Saturday in November. When I say I've signed up I really mean is that I was egged on by two coworkers and my boyfriend so while I would have happily remained in pj's all day I guess that isn't going to happen. I realize that it is less that two weeks away, and yeah it's going to hurt quite a bit. I've been using my bike trainer which is awesome but I am no where close to being in century shape. I spent two hours on my trainer Tuesday night for some much needed saddle time and I'm still sore today. I'm trying to look at the two major positives for this ride - it's a flat course and my parents live near by so I can be rescued with a quick phone call.

Life is funny though because as soon as I moved my social life ramped up and my schedule has become slammed. The dishes in my sink are piling up and my cabinets are looking bare as I try to find time to hit the store. It's definitely a learning curve to keeping things going, and I'm becoming a master planner at scheduling my time which helps. I just keep saying to myself that things will calm down next month, but truth is I've been saying that for the past 3 months.

Here's to hoping to a quiet November I guess...

*uh, yeah, that was Monday, today is Thursday...whoops

Sunday, September 30

Updates: When Life Interferes with Blogging...

I think when I last posted I promised pictures of my new apartment. Well, while I don't have pictures yet (I know, I know, it's been weeks) I do have life updates which are pretty awesome too...or at least I hope they are.

Life has been busy, work has been consuming the majority of my time and up until this past Friday I have worked through lunch breaks consistently and had worked late almost every night. My work laptop has even found its way home with me which I swore was something would never happen. I found myself at my Tysabri infusion the other day with said laptop in tow so I could manage some work even though one arm was hooked to a IV. 

However, all my hard work has paid off...I got promoted Friday. In the next year I will work on transitioning from my current position of lead graphics tech into programmer. It's a move I never thought would happen as that's not the usually move in the company to make but I am excited at the challenge  Both my boss, his boss, and president of the company seem confident in the move too which is reassuring. 

I am almost all moved out which is exciting. Living alone is certainly different but so far things have gone well. I've learned that grocery shopping for one is tough. It's hard to justify some items when you know there is no humanly way possible to eat it all before it expires. I think it will take a while for me to figure it out, but I'm sure when I do I will have more exciting lunches than just vegetarian chili for a week solely because it's cheap  and tasty.

Last night I booked Erik's sister a one way ticket from NYC to upstate. Megabus sure knows how to make things easy...a $5.50 ticket is a amazing price for a drive that takes 3+ hours one way. Erik's younger sister will be coming to stay with Erik for the next month or so until she gets her license and hopefully a job. She's been in the city for over a year and a half now and has yet to find a serious position and it seems she's outta money and real options. She has been lucky enough to stay with her older sisters while she was there but it seems they are running out of patience with the whole situation as well. It will be a interesting change for everyone...so hopefully everything works out for the best. 

Today is the first day I've had completely off in weeks and I get to spend it completely alone. Erik is spending his day on some guys mountain bike ride which is great for him and I think I'll spend mine baking and watching movies which sounds perfectly perfect to me.

Friday, September 7

The Adventures of Renting - Furnishing Empty Space

Like I mentioned last post I signed my first lease. I have yet to move in even though the utilities are in my name and I have keys in my possession. The not so great part about going from high school to college to home again is that you never really get adult'ish furniture unless you live somewhere else other than a dorm in college.

I was pretty adamant in getting furniture and then moving in because while I really like my clothes and my CD collection I know that staying alone for weeks with just those things would probably induce a OMG I HATE THIS AND EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE funk. For the past two years or so I have just been really happy. I'm aware of how stupid this sounds and I know that we all have our days but I've just been happy. After I was diagnosed with MS almost 4 years ago (4 years in October) I went through a period where I was pretty miserable. Thankfully things have since turned around but I just had this feeling if I just sat alone in a empty apartment some of those negative thoughts would creep back into my life. So I made a executive decision to work hard and get real stuff before I made the big move.

Last weekend I bought a new mattress, my very own queen size mattress. Fact- I've never slept along in a bed that big and I can count the number of times I've shared a bed that big on one hand and those times have been on vacation when I smushed next to some family member. It's not weird that I am most excited about a new adult sized bed is it?

Tuesday I set out to Marshells and Target with one mission - buy bedding. I left Marshalls empty handed and I left Target $82 dollars poorer and still bedding-less. It's mind boggling how much time and money can be spent in Target and how easily I can do it.

Of course as nice as a mattress is I still need more than just that. So this weekend I was able to talk Erik into driving down near Philly to visit a IKEA with his truck because I think all that would fit in my two door Civic would be a few lamps. Of course the total trip time is just about 9 and a 1/2 hours (my apartment to IKEA to Erik's (dropping off his bed frame and picking up my mattress) and back to my place).


Then of course there will be the whole now we have to build all the furniture part that will be exciting. However, for now I am choosing to pretend that doesn't have to happen. Oh and the it's totally supposed to rain...ALL WEEKEND. Hopefully things go smoothly and I have real stuff, but at least I am well aware that things just might not so hopefully freakouts will be minimal.

Tonight I am taking a trip down to my place with a bunch of my stuff and since everyone is busy I am doing it solo. I just wish books were lighter...I guess I'll just classify it as my workout for the night.

Wednesday, August 29

Life, It's Busy

Last weekend Erik and I took a trip to NYC to visit three of his sisters that live in Queens. We had been to NYC 2 times prior and his sisters were bugging us to visit again, the only problem was that Thursday I came down with some sort of virus that left me miserable.

Apparently the whole, sore throat, body aches, running nose and high fever is going around town and I was lucky enough to catch it. After a fever of 102.5 Thursday night I was able to bring it back down so that I could go to work on Friday because Friday night I had big plans. Matt Nathanson was playing at the NYS fair and since I live about 10 minutes from it I had to go. It was the fifth time I've seen him live and this time I went with my mom and met my old roommate and her sister there.

At least Hannah brought a picture to prove we were actually there. Luckily I was able to have a continuous flow of Morton in my system to keep my fever at bay...plus the sweat-wicking material sometimes comes in handy outside of a workout.

 I've actually started inviting Hannah to all the concerts I go to just so I can quality pictures.
When the concert was over I dropped my mom off with my dad and then headed down to Erik's. I arrived around midnight and was starting to actually look forward to the city trip. I had pretty laid back plans for the city: visit the Intrepid museum (Erik had been wanting to go for a while), visit a bakery or two, see the Guggenheim and walk the Highline at night.
Of course things never really go according to plan and I am still trying to work on being able to just go with the flow of the given situation. Truth be told I failed at this miserably. The Intrepid left us both unimpressed and since it ate up alot of time we ended up ditching our Manhattan plans for a late brunch (3PM is NOT brunch). Followed by a unimpressive brunch where the only vegetarian option was eggs and a spinach filled croissant I was starting to get alittle annoyed.
Erik and I called it a early night after a torturous dinner (think wet salad and a unripe avocado with just oil as the dressing) I mentioned that I wouldn't mind leaving the city earlier than planned.
Luckily I woke up the next morning in a better mood and after breakfast and a trip to IKEA I was actually enjoying the trip. Before we left Erik and I had our first Thai experience with two of his sisters that was quite enjoyable and we were just happy we were able to salvage the weekend.
Monday I had Tysabri scheduled so I ducked out of work early and headed over to Rochester. Tysabri was actually pretty eventful since the couple that sat next to me (the woman was getting infused and her boyfriend tagged along) got into a heated argument after the boyfriend found a text from another guy on her phone. I started getting nervous when the guy started pacing the room (it was just me in there with them) and started saying "just because we are in the hospital doesn't mean I won't f- you up." Yeah, that was grand. Luckily when my nurse noticed what was going on she pretended that my infusion was over and moved me to another room and I think security was brought in to assess the sitution.
After Tyrabri I had a MRI (I get 2 a year on Tysabri) but since it was in the same hospital they left in my IV. I also added a second hospital bracelet in addition to my infusion one and as I walked around the hospital I was asked various times if I was lost or as one security guard said "I would think you were escaping but you just look so calm...you aren't escaping...right?"
I was able to meet up with my best friend afterwards for dinner and some shopping which was a added bonus since I don't get to see her all that often. By the time I got home it was well beyond 11 and I crashed pretty hard. My cold/virus has been sticking around so I am hoping with a few days of more low-key activity is will clear out of my system.
I know this post is getting long but there is just one more pretty exciting piece of news in my life...I signed my first apartment lease last night! More on that to come soon!

Tuesday, August 21

A Day At The Races

Sunday was Erik's first mountain biking race. He had been training hard and was looking forward to having a really good race. He was riding up a category for this race (Cat 2 - single speed) because that was the only open single speed category aside from Cat 1/Pro level. The Cat 3's took to the course first, with about a hour separating the races. Cat 3's were completing 1 - 8.5 mile lap and Cat 2's were completing 2. It had rained the night before and the course was a bit wet, but mostly we heard that it was a fast ride. It was mostly single track with fire roads connecting sections and really the only room for spectators was near the start/finish. I had walked a bit of the course but the mix of bugs and lack of seating that didn't involve sharing space with ants was limited so I spent most of my time near the entrance to the woods.
Beginning of the race.

The race was a bit confusing from a spectator point of view because I had assumed all single speeds would be grouped together for the start but actually they were grouped with another age group of geared bikes. When I saw Erik leading a group of riders with derailors I thought maybe he was in the wrong group - but I guess they just grouped certain categories together. 

During the time in between laps I kind of wished I had brought something to sit on and maybe a book because my only entertainment was a kid who had rode the previous race and spent about 30 minutes after puking. 

I wandered a bit down the trail and was able to snap this shot of Erik at the beginning of his second lap.

By this time he was in 3rd place and looking strong. The other riders were just ahead of him and I knew if he road hard he would be able to catch them.
Erik finishing the race- I know my photography skills are killer.
After he crossed the finish line he continued down the fire road and then made his way back up to the finish line. He was riding side-by-side with another rider and since I was able to keep track of the single speed bikes finishing I knew he was in 4th place. I walked towards Erik's direction and he was just standing to the side looking a bit dazed. I asked him how the race was and I noticed he was bleeding from the side of his face, knees and forearm so I figured he took a tumble. Our conversation then continues like this:

Erik: Where am I?
Steph: um...what?
Erik: Where are we?
Steph: Why are you asking that?
Erik: What are we doing here?
Steph: You just raced...
Erik: I need water, do you have water?
Steph: No...you said you had plenty in your CamelBak for before and after the race so we didn't bring any.
Erik: (He then dumps water over his head which he NEVER does from his CamelBak)
Steph: What happened?
Erik: I need to sit, where are the chairs?
Steph: We didn't bring chairs...lets sit in the grass.
Erik: Where are we?

So at this point in my head I am freaking out and I call my mom who is a RN because I know obviously he must have hit his head. The whole time he keeps asking where we are, what we are doing here and who are all the people around us. I tell my mom what is going on and she agrees that he definitely needs a Cat scan and medical attention. There was a group of emergency personal near us so I figured I would have them check him out quickly and then I would drive him to the nearest hospital. They continue to quiz Erik who knows nothing, he barely knows who he is or what day it is while I get directions to the hospital. They had wanted to take him themselves but Erik was fighting it and I knew if I took him personally he would go. We were able to get a ride down to my car and we headed to the ER (about 10 minutes away). During this time I started quizzing Erik on everything and anything  I could think of...how we got here, what we did yesterday, what he does for work, the names of his siblings, coworkers, friends. At this point he was barely remembering a thing and it was one of the most frightening moments ever. He seemed so calm and like himself yet he couldn't tell you anything.

When we arrived at the ER we filled out a sheet that told the triage nurse your reason for being there. All that Erik writes is that he has "some memory loss" so I advise  him to put "head injury" and we were quickly seen and he was taken into the trauma area where he was put in a neck collar as a precaution. The whole drive over he kept trying to stretch his neck and crack it and I would yell at him each time to stop until he got checked out. 

Post neck brace removal - happy as a clam - just has no idea what happened.
Luckily everyone at the ER was great and he was quickly assessed. After a CT scan of his head, face, and neck and a 3 hour mandatory waiting period he was released. During the 3 hour wait his memory started coming back and the answers he didn't know in the car ride he could quickly answer again. 

He still doesn't remember the race or anything up to the ER but it could be worse, alot worse. 

I guess this is my PSA...always wear your helmet folks...seriously. I couldn't image what would have been the outcome if he hadn't been wearing one.

Monday, August 13

That Time I Hiked A Mountain

This past weekend Erik and I disconnected from the world of technology and work and headed north to the Adirondacks.

Erik was excited for a Jeep show taking place on the way up in Saratoga Springs and I was excited for the wine and fancy cheese in the cooler that had been packed for Saturday night. After just over two hours of driving we reached the Jeep Show, or what was supposed to be a Jeep Show. Actually, we pulled into a Jeep dealership and awkwardly drove around a bit confused. Erik headed inside in hopes that maybe we had the wrong address and maybe this was the address of a sponsor but in actuality the show was Sunday and it was most certainly Saturday. 

So with that we headed up to our campsite early to check in and head for a swim. Our campsite lacked the Adirondack feeling since it was situated directly in front of a swamp. It was barely the afternoon and the mosquito's were out and biting. There was thunder rumbling in the distance and after a long walk to the beach we realized that there were no lifeguards. Thunder = closed beach (surprise, surprise). This is the second camping experience I've had and both times we have had less than stellar neighbors. I referred to our neighbors as tent city (really 4 large tents for 2 couples and 3 small children - two toddlers and a infant. Plus they had a tent for dining, lounging and chopping wood and everything was covered with tarps too). The best part about these neighbors besides their tent city was the fact that they enjoyed playing their music so loudly for everyone to enjoy. My personal favorite was the explicit rap mixed with heavy metal, especially a song whose lyrics consisted almost solely of "die b***h, die." 

We eventually constructed campfire flat bread pizzas for dinner and s'mores and then decided to head out for a walk around the campground to work off some dinner because we were in the beginning stages of a food comatose. About a mile into our walk the distant thunder quickly turned into a complete downpour. We ran back to our tent but by the time we arrived we were completely soaked and ended up just standing in the rain to avoid getting the jeep and our tent soaked too.

You are probably wondering were the photographic evidence of this all is - the camera was in the tent and the inside of the tent got wet...and so did the camera. 

While the majority of our stuff got rather wet thanks to someone (definitely not me) leaving the tent somewhat open we were able to scrounge up some dry clothes for the night. At least we had wine and cheese to make up for the day.

Sunday morning we were up early, to dry off our hiking shoes and clothes because they were soaked, and headed out to a hike we had planned the week before (Crane Mountain). 

After drying off over a vent in the Jeep we had a working camera again!
Fun fact - I have never hiked a mountain before this.

After driving up a steep road we made our way to the start point and started our hike. The path quickly changed from dirt and rocks to full on big rocks. 
This was fun...after I got over the initial I'm going to die panic
Oh and Erik likes to climb rocks but since he had the camera tucked in his bag during his climbs we had to stage his shot elsewhere.

We made sure to stop along the way and follow some of the "herd" paths that lead to some pretty cool views too.
It's hard to get a picture with your faces and the scenery
Finally after climbing a rather large ladder (yeah, not frightening at all) we reached the top of the mountain and were greeted with a very large crowd of people. I guess I never pictured reaching the top of a mountain and seeing a large group of people there too. So instead of awkwardly standing with the crowd we made our way to a quiet ledge overlooking the view and had lunch in the peace and quiet. That was probably one of my favorite lunch spots ever. 

Luckily after lunch the crowds disappeared and we were able to snag a picture from the top.

Downpour - no hairdryer = amazing hair day
And then a man with a baby on his back took this picture because apparently people feel bad for you after watching you try to get the perfect shot, you know trying to get one with a nice ratio of face to scenery view. (We actually didn't even realize he was there watching or else we would have asked). 

Hiking pants are so very flattering.
I was pretty happy with the hike until I realized there was no gondola ride down or anything.
I don't see the rescue plane..."Erik where is plane??"
Fact: I cried on the way down but in all fairness it's because I fell...I would show you the bruise but it's somewhere that is definitely not blog appropriate.

But yeah, the hike down did trashed my legs. I was quite excited when we finally reached the Jeep again but that excitement quickly faded when Erik realized our front brake line had a hole which meant no front brakes. It was a very long drive home.

So the thing about old standard jeeps is that the brake lines are not connected and do not share the same brake fluid reserve which is great because you can limp home on just your back set super cautiously of course. Plus the no cell phone service did not and being on a mountain side did not allow for any calls to AAA. It's times like these I'm glad Erik knows things about cars because I was in a full we are most definitely going to die OMG mode.

Thursday, August 9

Confessions Of An Overworked Employee

I haven't worn a completely clean outfit to work in just about over a week. Laundry has taken a backseat and the pile of clothes on my floor more than sufficient enough proof of this. Thank goodness it's totally acceptable to wear jeans to work on a daily basis. Are you judging me? Don't worry I at least have clean undies.

I think about putting a out of office message up and hiding under my desk at least 5 times a day.

I have contemplated building a door on my cube. Do you have a cubicle...don't you just wish sometimes you had a door?

I dream about work and by dream I mean I usually have nightmares that I forgot to meet some absurd deadline and wake up in a sweat. Does that at least count as a workout?

My workouts have become a time where I almost completely zone out. The past two days I have found myself on my bike riding around one circular street (.9 miles in length) for about 20 minutes before I realized what I was doing. Every lap got a little bit faster but I'm sure the people outside their houses watching thought I had issues.

I will text my best friend simply to say "I quit" multiple times a day. For some reason it makes me feel better that if I choose to I could just quit...but lets be real...9 times out of 10 I really like my job. Currently though not so much.

My bladder hurts by the end of the day because even though I know I need to pee I will hold it for hours because I'm always in the middle of something. Totally not TMI or weird or anything...

I've thought about this post every day since Monday...it's now Thursday and no, I didn't have to just look at my calendar to figure out what day it really was.

Monday, August 6

The Chronicles of Renting

Over the past two weeks I've made numerous phone calls and sent more than a normal amount of emails. Both these things had one recurring theme - renting an apartment.

Now since paying off my student loans I've kinda decided that the whole living at home when I'm 24 thing has gotten a bit old. Don't get me wrong though, I've kinda really loved living at home the past two years and I've grown accustomed to coming home and having people to vent to. However, I've kind of hit that point where I'm really craving my own space and realistically it's more than  time to move on and start the next chapter of things.

This apartment search has been everything but rainbows and butterflies...in fact it's been pretty awful. While my budget would allow me to afford some pretty nice digs, the thrifty side of me won't allow it. I can't justify paying half my salary in rent when in reality I can get a modest apartment and actually save money for more exciting things (i.e. travel, bikes and fun). Honestly my idea of apartment searching was me sifting through some ads, highlighting the ones that caught my eye and then making a appointment to see them. I envisioned myself being able to view numerous places before picking one. The truth is even though I've made the calls and emails and the follow-up (I swear I'm not stalking) calls, I've received 0 calls back and 1 email. The one email was actually the apartment I was most excited to see and when I got the response last week of "I'm actually not sure if I'll be renting it out again at this time" I kind of felt defeated. I mean, why list a apartment if you don't want to rent.

I was actually convinced and still am that I am not getting called back because I sound young. To prove this I enlisted Erik in a demonstration proving this. I called 5 apartments and left messages with each. Erik called those same 5 apartments and left the same/very similar message with all five as well. I received 0 calls back while Erik received 4.

Last night I found myself a tad bit upset with the current prospects but this morning I decided that maybe I need to increase my search from the two small towns I had my eye on. These two towns I originally choose because it was out of the "city" and I could bike from my apartment and not be afraid for my life. I know you know what I am talking about, those parts of town where you always make sure your doors are locked and you kind of avoid eye contact...yeah biking there doesn't sound fun. Since I am more than willing to have a longer commute to get a area I can bike around I started looking at places 30 miles away this morning. As I was writing down contact info to make some lunch time calls I noticed my phone was ringing (it's on silent at work) and I decided to answer the mystery number. Low and behold it was that apartment I mentioned above from the email, sure enough it's move in ready and she wants to know if I am still interested.

I have an appointment tonight at 7.

It's always funny how when you reach the point of frustration that things will eventually reach a breaking point and then eventually things just seem right again.

Friday, July 27

Century Ride Recap

100 miles. Actually, it was more like 101.5 (or somewhere close to that) miles, but really who's counting? Hint* Definitely not me...

But before I dive into the after the ride recap lets talk about all the stuff that came before.

Friday, which also happened to be my 24th birthday, we packed up and headed out after some last minute tweaks to my bike. I had ordered a new set of tires for my bike that arrived just as we were getting ready to pull out of the driveway. Erik insisted that we unpack my bike and put the new tires on. Since I've recently learned how to change a flat tire Erik thought this would be the perfect opportunity to get my to practice my skills. Fast forward 10 minutes and I've completely shredded a perfectly good tube trying to get it off the rim. Luckily we had a spare tube packed up so I was able to get my bike completely put together with my sweet new wheels. We finally made our way out of town and started our ~2 hour drive to the start of the ride. Luckily the ride starts at a college so we were able to pay a little extra and spend the night in a dorm rather than a hotel.

For my birthday Erik had gone with a bike theme- new bike computer, Garmin GPS, cycling books and cycling sunglasses. In the car I cracked open the cycling book and for kicks started to list off the "must haves" on a ride. While reading through this list I realized I had left my gloves at home and spending a bunch of sweaty hours on a bike without gloves was not a option. Since we were about 40 minutes from my house we ended up making a detour to a bike shop in a nearby town. 25 bucks later I was the proud owner of a new pair of mens bicycle gloves. For some amazing reason mens gloves were significantly cheaper than the womens...

Anyways, we finally arrived and checked in and made our way to dinner in a nearby town. We spent Friday night watching the Tour De France in a common area lounge in the dorm building. (Fact: If you want to make friends at a cycling event turn on the Tour...it's amazing how many people came to hangout.)

Saturday morning we were up well before the alarm and by 6:30 we were outside scrounging out breakfast. The ride was slated to start at 8 but cyclists completing the century could start at 7 if they were planning to be out longer than 8 hours. We opted to start at 8 seeing that Eriks optimistic calculations had us with a total ride time of 6.5 hours. In the many talks we had leading up to this I was nervous that I would blow up on the hills because I play this really fun game where I convince myself I can't make it when I clearly can, so I had figured we would be riding for at least 7 hours, if not more.

Before the ride. It's amazing how ridiculous and unflattering helmets look.
By 8am we had found my two coworkers that were also riding and found spots near the front of the line. At 8:15 we were off. Our plan was to stop every hour for a brief stop (5 minutes or less) so that we could fuel (I am not a happy cyclist when I am hungry) and I could stretch if needed. It's amazing how fast the ride went by, the first 30 miles flew by and before I knew it I was staring at this massive hill around mile 33. Most of the hills I've done have been the ones were you start climbing, turn a corner, climb some more..ect but this one was different. You could see the entire climb in front of you and it looks horrible. I ended up dropping to my grandma gears and maybe yelled a few "UHHH I AM OUT OF GEARS!" panic cries a few times in the super steep sections but I actually rode up the entire thing without blowing up. It took a bit to actually recover from the big hill but we continued on and quickly made our way to the lunch stop. The lunch stop was at a winery and supposedly was very nice. We had our lunch of gu and shot blocks on the road outside the winery. Having over 30 miles to go from the lunch stop the thought of eating real food made my stomach turn and luckily Erik agreed.

As we entered miles 70-90ish we headed into the outskirts of town were we entered farmland. Endless farm land. No traffic, no shade, just you, the sun and farms. This amazing scenery paired with hot pavement and no people made for a pretty tough stretch. Erik rode most of the ride in front of me. I always joke in my mind that its like the same scenario as holding a carrot in front of a horse to get it to speed up (maybe that's just cartoons or TV?).

Around mile 88ish I hit a wall. I didn't want to be on my bike and I definitely did not want to pedal anymore. I managed to get Erik to stop so that I could stretch when in actuality all I did was collapse in the shade under a tree in front of a complete strangers house. Erik, however, did not cave into my demands of taking a quick nap so I ultimately got back on my bike and continued riding.

Luckily as we rode into town we were treated to a long descent where I finally gained enough excitement to finish out the ride strong.

We finally pulled into campus where we realized that we had in fact finished dead on with Erik's previous predictions.

Below is the course profile from the ride...see Strava was nice enough to shade the really big climbs.
Do you have Strava? We should probably be friends!
In the end we climbed 3,753 feet, rode 101.5 miles in 6.5 hours and we spent a total of 7 hours and 15 minutes on the course. The funny thing was that when we finally were done, I was kind of ready to continue riding. 

Post ride
We made our way back to our dorm and we able to grab post ride showers which was probably the best shower of my life. The only thing impeding on the best shower award was finding out what spots I missed during the whole Body Glide application that morning. After showers we wandered over to dinner that was included in the cost of the ride but I quickly learned that my appetite for actual food was gone. I didn't feel sick, but the thought of eating made me nauseous. So after filling up my plate I grazed on some fruit salad and passed the remainders over to Erik who luckily was more than hungry enough to clean my plate.

And then that was it, we drove back to my house and we were asleep by 9 that night. I know what you are thinking...we are such party animals.

So with that century training is over. I spent Monday and Tuesday on a mini vacation from work with Erik. We even managed to go mountain biking, something I had stayed away from for fear of an injury before the century. Turns out mountain biking is hard work and you fall alot. My legs are currently sporting a large number of new and disgusting bruises to prove it. I even upgraded my bike a bit more to clip in pedals. Yes I actually, I rode a century and all the training miles with platform pedals. Is this where I also confess that I do not own bike shorts? Because, yeah, I do not. I ride all my long rides in a pair of compression shorts and my short rides in soccer/running shorts.

With those last confessions I'll call it a post.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 18

Weekend Recap

Saturday is the big day. It's the CENTURY RIDE I've been training so much for.  I'm a little bit nervous, but honestly, I am beyond excited. Can I tell you a secret though? I'm sorta more excited for whats next in this whole cycling master plan of mine. Truth is while this century ride got me in shape quickly, my goal is not to continually spend hours and hours...and hours on my bike every weekend. Sure, there will be long rides, but not 80 mile long rides. So while I am not completely ready to dive into my what's next cycling plans I will happily talk about this past weekend.

Last weekend was the first weekend since April where I didn't stress out about ride routes or weather and it was such a welcomed change. I will admit though as we kicked back and relaxed I found myself asking Erik if this really was on our "training plan" for the weekend because it just seemed so strange. 

Saturday was a town wide garage sale and people from everywhere flock to these sales. By the time we woke up at 8:30 people had already crowded the streets. Rumor has it that people where out as soon as the sun came out. Lesson learned for next time I guess. For a town that has a few thousand residents (if that), it was really confusing to see the streets filled with people. I always joke that if I sat in Erik's front yard all day long on a Saturday that I maybe would see 20 people walk by.

Anyways, Erik and I wandered through some garage sales and he eventually ended up with a sweet acoustic guitar and a set of speakers for his garage. I, on the other hand, hate garage sales so the only thing I bought was two cups of freshly squeezed lemonade from a very cute 5 year old who was raising money for the Clean Water Project (http://thewaterproject.org). That lemonade was probably the best two dollars I ever spent.

Erik had some things set aside for the sale, so around noon we set up shop and within two hours were 80 bucks richer and he had gotten rid of some junk treasures. That 80 dollars funded the remainder of our weekend which included our very first ever trip to a drive-in movie theather. We pushed out his old Volkswagen in attempt to drum up some interest to sell it. 

Erik purchased it last summer as a "project car." At the time we had only been dating for about a month or two and things weren't super serious since we were just spending one day a week with each other. Of course as the year continued and we got more serious and work got more crazy Erik ran out of time to work on the car. When Erik's neighbor saw that Erik was selling the car he asked why he never finished it but before I could answer he asked "oh I bet it has something to do with you..." 

We decided to take some pictures before putting in back in the garage for Craigslist...I of course decided to practice my car modeling...for some weird reason I don't think I am going to be hired any time soon...I can't imagine why though...

Later that evening we packed up the jeep with a ton of snacks and set off to see Spider-Man and Ted. While I wasn't really thrilled with seeing either of those movies it was fun to take out Eriks jeep (with the top down and back seat flipped around) and hang out for the night. I didn't even stress out when we got home well after 2am...4+ hours past my old lady bedtime...no big deal.

Oh and then Sunday we completed a fast 25 mile ride and it was a blast. See that big hill near the end? Yeah, was my idea...the MS ride also has a #3 hill so while Erik was sure I would be fine, I wanted to make sure I could do it without quitting getting overly frustrated. 

Around mile 15 I even ate my first energy gel and surprise, surprise, it was disgusting. I made a trip to Eastern Mountain Sports earlier in the week and instead of picking out one or two flavors to try out I bought every flavor they had in stock, from every brand. The employee at the counter definitely judged my purchase but I quickly blurted out "I was afraid to commit to one flavor...or brand...for fear it will be disgusting...this way I have options."

The goal for trying a gel during the ride was to see if a) my stomach could handle it on a ride and b) to see if it made any difference on a mega hill. My stomach has recently decided to hate me, so in hopes of not having similar bathroom emergencies in my century ride like I experienced on my 80 miler, I thought it would be wise to make sure my stomach could in fact handle extra sugar.

Surprisingly the razz flavored gel made a difference...or maybe it was a placebo effect...who cares though, I made it up the hill without quitting. Basically this hill was my final "confidence booster" for Saturday.

Now if I can only make it through the rest of today and tomorrow because I have Friday off. 

Spoiler alert: Friday is my birthday!

Thursday, July 12

Mini Vacation and the 80 mile ride

Someways I want to blog, but yet when I actually have the time to do so I sit and stare and a blank screen for quite a while and type nothing. I guess sometimes that's how it goes with blogging though...sometimes it just doesn't happen...no big deal.

Anyways, last week started out with Tysabri and a 6 month check up at my neuros office. Everything is great on that front so I am cleared for another 6 months of Tysabri which is very exciting. Usually I feel great after Tysabri but I think rushing back to work after my appointment and another busy day Tuesday left my quite exhausted Tuesday night. So exhausted that I bypassed a 20 mile ride with Erik in exchange for dinner. Thankfully, he was happy to oblige to my request. He's learned that if I don't want to get on my bike, or cook, then I really don't feel good.

Wednesday we found ourselves traveling 4 hours north to Lake Placid for the day. We eventually met up with some of Erik's sibling and his father for some shopping and fireworks. Thursday included more driving, a afternoon iced tea date with my aunt and uncle at their camp in Sandy Pond and then dinner with my parents and their friends at a nearby restaurant overlooking the water. Unfortunately this restaurant had recently changed hands and I was less than impressed with their food or their service. When I asked if the fancy meat in the pasta dish could be subbed out (there was no vegetarian dishes on the menu!) and perhaps exchanged (even if it was extra) with maybe shrimp (I'm a pescitarian) she muttered "that's ridiculous, shrimp is meat....what a idiot"  Of course she was standing right behind me when she muttered this and luckily everyone at the table heard her. So, instead of buying a dish for upwards of 25 dollars, I got a appetizer for 8 and called it a day. She is just lucky that I wasn't the one paying the bill because I would have left her my two sense when signing for it.

Friday evening we gathered our things for our last, long training ride we had mapped out. We were up and out the door early Saturday morning and had a 50 minute drive to our starting location. 

[Side note: This was our planned ride. Actually, that's a lie. See that big hill around mile 48, that was not planned for. That was a wrong turn go horribly wrong. Two miles up that hill it started to downpour. During the third mile of that hill I threw in the towel. Erik was convinced we were on track but I was not. I wanted out, and so I quit. We sailed down the hill and insanely fast speeds and once we were back on track I decided to stick out the remainder of our ride instead of heading back to the car early. As Erik would later mention the only time he ever sees me angry, frustrated, yell or cry is on really big hills.]

On the way to our ride my stomach decided that it wasn't cooperate and I struggled to remain seated upright. When we pulled into the start location, Erik got the bikes ready and I sat hunched over in pain in the front seat. We were waiting for Erik's boss to show up since he was riding part of the ride with us, but I secretly hoped that he had forgotten so that we could call it quits. Of course, his boss showed up and we started to ride. Luckily the pain in my stomach subsided for the majority of the first twenty miles and it really only acted up when we stopped for a quick break. However, by mile 30 or so I was itching for a bathroom. We quickly made our way into a nearby town were I luckily found a much needed bathroom inside a cafe. 

As we continued on, I felt worse and worse. My pace slowed significantly and then I started seeing double. We quickly stopped a t a pull off and Erik forced me to eat as I gagged down food. After a long than planned rest stop we cycled on. It started to sprinkle and we passed a group of cyclists dashing back around the reservoir to beat the rain. Luckily, Erik and I are both unphased by the rain, so we peddled on. Erik made a turn are we quickly came across a steep incline. Erik's boss who had left us miles and miles ago had mentioned the the ride back would be "fast with nice paved roads, wide shoulders and no real inclines." The shoulder on this road disappeared and after a quick discussion we went with Erik's choice. I was feeling to crappy to argue my point anyways. If you read the side note above, you know the outcome of this. I quit. I was dizzy, nauseous and defeated. With face was dripping with cold rain and tears and I was done. 

However, the ride down the steep climb was a bit sketchy itself...the heavy downpour paired with cold cyclists made the ride difficult. My brakes were soaked and I had trouble scratching off speed. As my speed easily climbed above 30 I envisioned hitting one wrong bump and skidding across the pavement. Obviously, this is a great thing to think while cycling, but luckily we both made it down safely, just with a added 1 or 2 of water in our shoes.

By the time we made it back to the main and correct road, we found a shelter and consulted a map in a park pull off. I ate some snacks and it appeared that the rain had cooled by system down enough that I actually felt good. We continued on and our speeds picked up to my normal pace and we easily made it back to our car, however our mileage was only at 69. My goal for the ride was 80, so I made the executive decision to continue onward. We rode a mild out and back to bring our total mileage to 80.5 for the day and ultimately I could have continued to make it 100. 

Knowing that I can complete 80 miles, even with stomach issues, makes me confident that I will have no problem finishing the century ride in less than two weeks. My goal though, it to not doubt my abilities so much, or get frustrated at Erik, and just to enjoy the ride and HAVE FUN.

Tuesday, July 3

Camping and UCI Mountain Biking World Cup

This weekend I camped. 

Fun Fact: I do not camp. I never have and never wanted to.

But yeah, it happened, and I survived and now I can write this amazing post. Anyways, Saturday morning we headed about one and a half hours away to the Catskills to Windham Mountain for the UCI Mountain Biking World Cup. Since Erik is way more into mountain biking than road biking it's something he's talked about going to since day 1 of dating. This weekend we finally spent a entire weekend doing all the things he has wanted to do so that was a nice change up. Basically there were a bunch of different races going on in different age groups and experience levels. Saturday we watched the real pros compete for a variety of levels including the Olympic athletes which was really cool to see. We watched the Cross Country races for both the men and women and watched a few downhill runs too. By about 4 PM we headed to our campsite which was nicely named "Devils Tombstone."

This is our tent. It was kinda small and trapped all the heat so it was super sweaty.
We quickly set up our tent and got to work on dinner. Well actually Erik got to work on dinner...I practiced my photography skills. After we had dinner Erik decided to break out his hammock...now this hammock was supposed to be made for 2 people but they clearly lied because getting two people in this thing was impossible. Instead Erik decided to take photos in the cocoon hammock.
Hmm...maybe I should have cooked dinner while he practiced his camera skill.
The camping was OK, definitely not the highlight of my weekend. The only amenity was running water from a faucet on the side of the road. The bathrooms were called "comfort stations" but I guess the comfort was the fact that the hole in the ground had crazy heavy toilet seats. Of course after a day of sunscreen, dirt, dust, sweat, and bug spray all I wanted to do was shower. The showers were located 8 miles up the road at another campground and the shower privileged ended at 8PM. Of course it was after 8 and thus no shower occurred. Instead I may have stealthily washed up near the water faucet...the campsite rules stated that you weren't supposed to wash pots and pans our under it but it said nothing about my face. 

I also didn't realize how boring camping gets when it gets dark out and everyone goes to bed. Since the majority of our neighbors were racing their bikes in the morning it seemed by 8:30 or so everyone was asleep. We retreated to our tent and had part two of our photo shoot.

It only took us about 100 pictures to get one that is normal looking.
Photo shoot over please.
One set of our neighbors decided that "quiet hours" were overrated and started their part at 12:30AM with a drunk fest...of course when you wake up to people yelling loudly in a language that is not English you tend to get a bit confused to where you actually are. What's more confusing is when you wake up to flashlights shining inside your tent from said drunk, non English speaking, neighbors. I definitely was not a happy camper but luckily by 1:15 they had passed out.

We were up at 6:30 the next morning so we could head back over the mountain for some more race spectating. Erik did a great job at getting things going and getting breakfast ready as I watched from the tent. I know, I know, I am a great camper...

Erik's friend Dave was racing at 8 AM in the single speed category 1 men's division so we headed back to the mountain and picked out a place to watch the start.

Dave is in the blue. He came in second place! He's pretty darn speedy.
We hiked up the course a bit and found a spot in the shade since Sunday was pretty darn disgusting heat wise. I was able to snap a few pictures.

We grabbed spots next to Kabush Falls and you could definitely tell the skill level by the way these rides went down this section. As the morning went on the skill level of the categories decreased and the crashes and falls exploded in number. By the end of the morning we were covered in a redish dust from all the dirt flying from the course. 

Erik's friend Dave had tried to get Erik to race in the open category for first time races and Erik decided not too. Dave and Erik ride mountain bikes every Friday night together with the bike shop we both have bikes from and I'm sure Erik could have easily had a blast competing on the course. As the day went on it was obvious that he had wished he wanted to race. I have a feeling next year I will out on the course with a cowbell watching Erik racing.

It was definitely a great weekend and I am looking forward to next years race weekend already!

Monday, June 25

Major Accomplishments

It's Monday again and I'm ready to race through this week because I am pretty stoked for the upcoming weekend. 

Last week I finished something pretty awesome which is neither cycling or MS related...I paid off all my student loans. Sure, I may have have felt horribly sick as I pressed the button to allow such a large sum of money to flow from my bank account but in the end I was just excited that it was finally over. I have been working towards this in the past year and a half and I am beyond proud that I was actually able to pull this off. I have been extremely lucky to have been able to live at home the past 2 years since graduating from college so I could achieve this goal. The next big step is apartment hunting which I am quite excited about (IKEA TRIP!) but since I've never really lived alone I'm a bit nervous about how that's going to go. The fact is that I really enjoy living at home because it's nice to come home from a bad day and have someone around. It will definitely be a interesting transition but I'm looking forward to moving into the next stage of my life.

Erik spent the weekend at my house for a change which was awesome because it meant spending 4 less hours in the car that weekend and no packing. We had plans for a bike ride Saturday and luckily everything went off without a hitch. The ride was pretty darn flat and we just had a great time out and about. 

We biked about 15/20 miles directly into the wind for a chunk of the ride which was pretty tough but I am proud that every time I thought "I need a break" I would quickly remind myself that I am strong and that I can do this. For me, biking it a mental thing as it seems I spend half the ride convincing myself that I can't do it or that I am not good enough. I've really been working hard in getting out of my own head during rides because things are so much easier when I'm just at ease and calm.

I finished the 57.5 mile ride with a huge smile plastered on my face which for me is a huge accomplishment. I'm didn't spend the rest of the weekend beating myself up about things I should have done differently, I'm just happy with the ride I had and proud that I did it. Hopefully I can keep up this attitude the rest of training...

Erik claims that he can really tell how passionate I'm getting about cycling...I'm thinking I might have finally jumped ship and drank the cycling Kool-Aid because I think I'm hooked...