Monday, December 16

Oh weekend...

I started out this weekend with the best intentions. Around noon on Friday I had a phone call from my bike shop informing me that my bike was finally in. My bikes ship date had been pushed back so I figured that I would hopefully have it in my hands sometime after Christmas. I was ecstatic that it was in early! On my way home from work I stopped and picked up my cycling shoes, because I had to ride my bike...even if only on a trainer for a little bit this weekend. Plus I could borrow Erik's old pedals for now until my came in so at least I could get a rough fit on my bike. I'll revisit the bike store in a month or two for a more professional fit anyways.

After I picked up my stuff I continued the drive to Erik's like I do every other weekend in the month. We trade off weekends and it was my turn to make the drive down. About 30 miles out I drove through a small town and headed on my way. As I approached a corner I noticed a oncoming car so we both turned our high beams off and I saw a deer run out in front of me. I dropped my speed from about 50 to 30 and avoided the deer and then BAM! a second deer runs into the front/side of my car. Somehow I managed to stay in my lane and didn't swerve into oncoming traffic or head down the ditch on the shoulder of the road. It was definitely one of those slow motion moments where I locked eyes with the deer as it smacked into my car. It's head whipped back and it was gone. Everyone suspects it most likely died from it's injuries.
And in you look real close at the image in the lower right hand side you will see some deer tail. Surprisingly and thankfully my headlight still works, even after being smashed in which is good since I drove to work today in the dark for the first half a hour or so. My passenger door doesn't open, which is the biggest pain since I only have two doors. For errands with Erik (he has a truck which doesn't have room for Christmas gifts inside the taking my car was a must...especially in a snow storm) I was the lucky one who got to crawl in and out of the car at every stop. When I called my insurance company Friday night the guy at the other end luckily was pretty friendly. I was explaining what happened and of course I started to cry. I'm sure I'm not the only one who cries on the phone, but I couldn't help it. I'm going for a estimate in a few hours so let's hope my car doesn't get totaled...apparently it happens more often than you think.

Besides Christmas shopping for Erik's siblings I had one idea for what I wanted to do on Saturday and that was to pick up my bike. Sadly, I think I was still pretty bummed (let's not lie, I am still really bummed about my car) when I picked up my bike. But it's a pretty freaken sweet bike. Of course now there is like 1 1/2 feet of snow outside so biking is totally not going to happen any time soon. I'm finally starting to get excited about it, but I think the full excitement will happen when I get it out on the road. Currently, without pedals, this thing weighs 15.3 pounds which is insanely light! I'm ready to start flying up some hills!

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That picture doesn't really do it justice...but oh's better than no picture. I guess it's time to get my butt in gear and start training again...well...maybe after the holidays.

Wednesday, December 11

Life Stuff: When Everyone Else Is Getting Married

I am currently 25 years old. By the time my mom was 25 she was already married for two years. My grandparents were married pretty much out of high school. I've always had the stance that I would get married when I was good and ready to get married. There is really no need to rush anything.

I've been dating Erik for 2 1/2'ish years now and marriage just isn't in our plan anytime soon. We don't even live in the same city so a lot needs to change if we ever decide to get married. For now though, we are just enjoying the whole "weekend dating" thing we've been doing and it really works for us. I feel like 25 is still pretty young and really I'm just starting to enjoy being able to do whatever I want during the week and not feeling tied down at all. Eventually it would be nice, I'm sure, to settle down and start a family but I'm not there yet. More importantly Erik and I aren't there yet. It's funny though, because as OK I am with everything I mentioned I have my moments where I look around and feel like everyone is getting married.

Facebook really makes it quite easy to get caught in this trap where you feel like you are constantly being bombarded with news that you really don't need to know. Do I really need to know every detail about some girl I went to high school with that I haven't talked to in 5 years? Yeah, probably not. But still, we log onto this platform and school through peoples lives and it's pretty easy to get caught in a comparison trap. I know that I don't have to be on the same timeline as everyone else. To each their own, sort to speak, but it's so easy to find yourself getting caught up in everything and feeling bad about your own stuff.

Next September I'll be going to two weddings, one for my cousin who is a year or so older than me, and another for a college roommate. I couldn't be happier for them both, but I know that when my cousin get's married I'll inevitably hear the question "so when are you and Erik getting married" at least a few times. I'll brush the question aside and continue on with the night and try not to let it bother me, but I really don't enjoy the added pressure. I'll get married when I am good and ready to do so.

It's not just Facebook where it seems like everyone, but me, is getting married lately. It's also work too. I work for a relatively small company and there are currently 3 people right down the hall planning their weddings. I hear a lot of marriage talk around here. When I come back from any sort of vacation one of my coworkers always checks for a ring on my finger because she is convinced I'll be getting married soon. I try to explain that it's just not in the cards for now, but it's just a waste of breath.

Marriage talk doesn't come up in conversations with Erik that much, unless I see that someone else got engaged. Usually, I do pretty well with just being happy for the couple, but the other weekend I got into some vortex of feeling like maybe we are doing something wrong. You start to question everything and feel like something must be broken because you just aren't on the same timeline. I had to remind myself that it is OK to do your own thing. The most important thing is for you to be happy with your own choices. I choose to be in my current relationship and no one is forcing me to stay. I stay because I am over the moon happy in it. Being in a long distance relationship has it's ups and downs, but so does every other relationship. Getting caught up in playing the comparison game isn't going to do anyone any favors. I don't need to focus on what everyone else is doing, I just need to focus on what I am doing and what we are doing.

A ring on my finger is just that, a ring on my finger. Maybe one day when I am really ready to settle down and get married a ring will symbolize so much more, but for now, it's just a ring.

Friday, November 22

Life Stuff: The Scale.

Last week I found myself dreading my annual physical. I am not the greatest patient in the world since I had decided that a yearly physical was not for me, so I had previously skipped them the past two years. I had decided that since I get blood work every 3 months and get my basic vitals checked every month for Tysabri, going to another doctor appointment seemed pointless.

After my stitches came out this summer from my bike accident I found myself cornered at the receptionists desk at my doctors who basically made me make my appointment. I had my appointment last Friday and I realized in the week leading up to it the part that I was least looking forward to was being weighed.

Yup, my biggest fear was the scale. I personally chose not to own a scale. I know if I have one I will focus on the numbers way to much rather than just go with how I feel. If my clothes fit and I feel good then I shouldn't have to worry about some number. I know that I make healthy choices the majority of the time and  I put in a decent effort on my bike too, so I really shouldn't have to worry.

When I get weighed at my bi-annual doctors appointment at the neurologists I always just turn around on the scale and no one ever has a problem with it. Of course my regular doctor has a nurse that weighs you in and she is not the friendliest person around. Since she forces you to weigh in with your face staring at the numbers I've tried closing my eyes but she will still tell you. If you ask her not to tell you, she will do it regardless. From what I can tell it seems like the majority of patients are pretty much 60+ and I have never seen anyone my age there. My mom shares the same doctor and she insists that there are younger people who go. Anyways, I am assuming that this nurse is completely oblivious to the reasons why some people don't need to hear the number which is annoying.

My need not to know my weight has been something that's been around for a while. When I was younger my aunt made a comment that stuck with me. She said that thanks to family genetics I was destined to be heavy. I'd like to list this under things you should NEVER EVER say to a 13 year old. That fear has always stayed in the back of my mind even though my mom always was quick to remind me that it's also based on whether or not you live a healthy life style. I remember staying at my grandparents house for the weekend and my grandpa was notorious for bringing home donuts after church. I was step on the scale after every meal and then try and "work off" whatever weight I had gained for the day. I would run laps with a soccer ball in the backyard convinced I needed to work off whatever I ate.

Luckily for me my focus changed when I started playing travel soccer. My parents did a great job with both my brother and I to make sure we got enough calories for our activity levels and I found that I worried less and less about weighing in. Throughout high school I was sidelined with knee injuries but I was always pretty driven to work hard during PT and always seemed to bounce back.

When I went to college I did well staying away from the freshman 15. I ate well but always found room for dessert. I made sure to get adequate exercise in and was happy with my overall appearance.

During the beginning of my junior year I was diagnosed with MS. High doses of steroids and eating as a way to cope landed me at my highest weight ever. It's safe to say that I was depressed during this time. I was pulled out of classes for the last month+ of the first semester and was able to stay at home and recuperate. I worked through PT and speech, but I spent my days pretty much at home. I remember the first time I went out in public after everything had happened. I was still having horrible tremors and spasms that left me completely unable to walk and stand up straight every few minutes. My mom took me to Target after not being out in public for over a month. I was anxious and even though it was pretty empty in the store I remember thinking that everyone was looking at me. We would walk until my body would spasm and I would hunch over in pain as my arm and face clenched up uncontrollably.

I even went to visit my roommates for the night right before Christmas break. My parents drove me the 1 hour plus to school, dropped me off and then picked me up the next day. Thankfully Steph, who is in the picture above never left my side. I remember walking to the dining hall and every few minutes would have a spasm were I would once again hunch over in pain as my body completely tensed up. I remember walking into the dining hall and grabbing a tray and then having another spasm as it felt like EVERYONE in the dining room was watching to see what was wrong with me. My tray dropped out of my hands as I just did everything not to fall over from the pain surging through my body. Steph picked up my tray and just stood there and talked as if this was a completely normal thing and when I stood up I continued the conversation like it hadn't happened. I am eternally grateful that she was there by my side treating me like she always treated me.

Thankfully I was put on a few new medications and my spasms stopped completely before I returned for the spring semester. I was still dealing with so much internally though that I just didn't know what to do. I ate, I stopped working out, and I just tried to stay afloat and not drown in everything happening.

When summer arrived I was ready to start focusing on me again. My diagnosis left me in a pretty shattered mental state and having the summer to focus really helped. I started eating right and exercising and I made a commitment that I would start treating my body better. When I went back for senior year I was still carrying some extra pounds but I looked like "me" again. I was eating better and working out and enjoying the new sense of balance I had found with life.

College ended and I found myself living at home for about two years. In those two years I was able to get life straightened out. I found a great job and I was able to save up and pay off student loans. Living at home also meant that I had plenty of time and funds to continue pursing a healthy lifestyle. A year after graduating I met Erik. Erik is great at pushing me out of my comfort zone because sometimes you need a little extra push to go for something bigger. He never questioned my idea to cycle 100 miles for bike MS and he was there by my side through all the long training rides and tears.

This past spring I signed up for my first real bike race. It was a step outside my comfort zone and I remember sitting in the car in the parking lot as people around me unloaded their uber fancy bikes and road trainers to warm up. I was completely panicked, but you know what? Once that race started I had a blast.

If you would have told me a year ago I would have been on a all female cycling team I would have laughed in your face. Turns out, it's pretty awesome and I am so glad I joined.

What I have finally realized is that I am more than just a number. I work hard and I should not let my attitude be dictated my some number on the scale. It's just a number, it doesn't mean anything. Last week I stepped on the scale and the nurse told me the number. I walked back to the exam room and I didn't worry that the number was higher or lower than anticipated. I reminded myself that it's just a number. I reminded myself how hard I worked this year and how much I've grown as a cyclist. The muscles I've built that carry me up hill after hill reflect all the hard work I've poured into a sport I love. Whatever the number on the scale says, I am happy with my body for the first time in a long, long time.

Monday, November 11

Book Review: Shadow Summit: One Man, His Diagnosis, and the Road to a Vibrant Life, by Jon Chandonnet

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for a review, but as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Recently, as in the past few years or so, I've been challenging myself to be more than just my MS diagnosis. I've put myself out their and pushed myself harder then I had pre-diagnosis. Of course, everyone has their own "grieving" process when they learn of a life changing diagnosis, like MS, or really any auto immune disease. Mine, as you know, kicked my ass at first. Back to back attacks left me in the hospital for 3 1/2 weeks. Rehab time after those attacks was months of hard work, but when I look at where I am today, it blows my mind. Sure, it could be a number of things that led to this change, medication, diet changes, exercise, and even just having the right mind set. In the end, no one really knows, but what I do know is that everyone's journey is different.

Jon's memoir, Shadow Summit: One Man, His Diagnosis, and the Road to a Vibrant Life, details his life post MS diagnosis. Jon was diagnosed right before he graduated from MIT at the age of 27. Of course, he had his life seemingly planned out and MS through a curve ball he just wasn't expecting. Jon's initial instinct led him through a road of what some might call denial. He chose to stay off any disease modifying drugs, even as his doctor advised him differently. We basically watch Jon start to push himself to extremes. He starts participating in extreme sports, crazy mountain biking trips and hiking mountains. It seems like Jon is keeping himself so busy to push out any idea that he does in fact have MS.

I feel like a lot of with a auto immune disease can easily relate. You want so badly to just be normal again that you push yourself to extremes to prove that you can do everything other people can do and more. We seem to act like life is limitless and forget that sometimes life has other plans for us.

We eventually seem Jon crash and burn, and he does so pretty dramatically. To some extent it's almost hard to read because as someone who has lived through its like you can just see the car crash that's five seconds away from happening and yet you can't stop look away. We see Jon at his lowest point and then we watch him rebuild himself from the bottom up.

Jon's methods of healing can best be described as a bit controversial and I will admit I did some eye-rolling while reading a bit, but to each his own. I can easily respect Jon for committing to a path of recovery. Jon finds himself at OHI: Optimum Health Institute where he embarks on a seemingly dramatic healing journey. Like I mentioned above in my own story, it's hard to determine what exactly helped Jon heal and recover...was it that fact that his stress level significantly decreased, the change in diet, the almost daily enemas? Like most things, it will remain a mystery.

Overall, I thought the book was a interesting, quick read. I'm always interested in seeing how other people react, cope, and live with MS and I'd  easily recommend this book if that is something that interests you as well.

Shadow Summit: One Man, His Diagnosis, and the Road to a Vibrant Life will be released this week.
You can check out a link to his book trailer here: as well as his website here:

Wednesday, November 6

Bike Shopping

November is the start of trainer season and I'm trying to remember that putting work in on the trainer now will only benefit me in the spring when I finally get to ride outdoors again. To counteract the boredom of riding indoors I have started building a collection of Tour De France videos which seem to entertain me enough to get me through my workouts.

Of course more time off the bike means I have more time to shop for my next bike...or in my current case bikes. Yes, I have a problem, but honestly you can never have to many bikes...right? Currently I have a Cannondale Synapse (color: jet black, plus it has a triple) which is the bike that got me into cycling. I also have a Cannondale Flash F3 Feminine for rides that feature a lot more dirt. I haven't taken this bike out too much, but I just need to build my confidence more on trails, but in the meantime dirt roads are more of my thing.

In December I'll be adding a Cannondale Supersix EVO Womens 4  to the mix which I have been dreaming about all year. I anxiously awaited the day the Cannondale catalogs came out and then an afternoon at the bike shop discussing all the various options for my next bike. I had been deadset on the Supersix for over a year now but when I saw the color options it wasn't exactly love at first site. I was originally going for the Supersix EVO Womens 3 but the all white bike just wasn't my thing. So for a few extra dollars I'm upgrading the cranks and wheels plus the paint job and settling in with the EVO 4. Before I went in to test ride bikes to determine sizing and such the bike shop was nice enough to order me one so it would be in as soon as possible. Of course it will be December by then and I'm not holding my breath that I will actually be able to take it outside and ride it. Upstate winters with salt and bikes don't mix, so it looks like I'll be enjoying some trainer time with my new toy. I have a feeling this bike will be pretty fun to race next season and can't wait to take it out on the road!

A few weeks ago Erik added a new bike to his collection, a single speed no name cross bike that he can commute to and from work on and not worrying about beating it up to badly. For around $400 bucks he has a fun new toy and jealously snuck its way in as we quickly realized that his frame was just to big for me so I couldn't even ride it. Actually, I rode it down the street in a stretch out superman position but finally succeeded to the fact that the bike just wasn't ride-able for me. I spent the next day riding his single speed Surly Karate Monkey and although the gearing was way to low, I still had a blast spinning away. I spend a lot of time riding wondering if I am in the right gear and a single speed makes life so easy.

I have been toying with the idea of a single speed around town fun bike for a while and since hipsters have made them super popular it's easy to find a large number of places that sell that online. You can customize practically everything and basically have one heck of a colorful bike when your done. Of course since these seem to be more of a fashion statement than anything the bikes aren't that great of quality and you're pretty much paying extra for the chance to color coordinate your bike to your favorite outfit. So I looked away from those sites and started looking for a cheaper no name brand alternative that didn't completely suck. Sure for under $300 dollars I could buy a bike and ride around town but the quality wasn't there. Plus, you never regret buying to much bike. Well, maybe you do if you never ride your bike...

Anyways my Internet searching turned to finding a quality bike and plus I know had a nice bonus from work in my pocket burning away. After searching around I stumbled on a Jamis Sputnik and I'm pretty positive I've found my bike. Now I just need to get to my local bike shop and talk sizes and figure out if they are even in stock to buy. The gearing is a bit high with a 46 up front so I'll probably find something smaller if I plan on tackling any hills, but for my favorite weekday flat look this bike will be a beast.

I'm thinking the next MS century needs to be on a single know, just to mix things up a bit. I'm starting to think next year is going to be one heck of a cycling season.

Monday, October 28

MS in the workplace

I've hit some kind of a blogging rut it would seem. I have about 12 posts that are in some stage of the draft development but none of them are actually anywhere close to finished. It's funny I get in a roll and then all of a sudden the thoughts fade and I'm left with half a page of text.

Today, let's discuss a topic I've been debating lately. Do you tell your workplace about your disease, or in my case, about my MS. Sure there are laws that protect us in the workplace but a part of me wonder how easy it is for a company to work around these laws and still ultimately get their way and possibly get you out of the workplace.

When I started working at my current position around 3 years ago I decided that I simply would not disclose my MS. Of course every month I leave work for a half day so I can get to Tysabri but no one has every asked about this. Luckily my boss trusts that I will plan accordingly and he's never voiced any concern about his.

I'd like to think if I needed to at some point disclose my MS that things would go smoothly, but truth is you never know. I recently had diner with a old friend who has her own health problems and when she disclosed her condition to her employer she basically got boxed in to a dead end career path. Sure, nothing illegal happened, but it was clear that job growth was out of the question.

Every since I was diagnosed I have always fear that fact that if I wasn't working I wouldn't have insurance. No insurance means no Tysabri. My insurance this past year shelled out over $100,000 just this past year alone. Out of pocket that would be impossible. I used to worry what would happen if for some reason I lost my job and I didn't have insurance.

I've joked with Erik that we would have to get hitched just so I could be insured and honestly that's just so ridiculous that it would come to that. For all the flack that Obama Care has gotten, I have to say I am waving pom poms internally. Sure the process of enrollment is not all peachy at the moment but in the end I really think it's a good thing. I know a lot of people disagree and from all the conversations I always disagree with the person I'm talking to. If you are a perfectly healthy individual people seem to think this health care law is ridiculous, but to someone like me it opens up doors I didn't think would exist. Maybe it's not the perfect solution for the country but I believe it's a great first step to something great.

In the end it's one less what if that I have to worry about, and for that it's kinda amazing.

Wednesday, October 9

Life Stuff: A party and some other business

I kept joking with my mom that once race season was over for cycling every weekend would magically become free. Yeah, no, that is not the case. I've found myself saying over and over again that I can't believe how busy my weekends have been but I guess busy is better than sitting on the couch. Since we last talked I successfully threw my parents their 30th anniversary party. The only real issue was when my brother arrived with the food (his only job was picking up the cake and food the day of) and we were missing ALL the rolls and cornbread. People had started to arrive and as we unloaded food I noticed we were missing rolls which are pretty darn crucial when you have 15 pounds of pulled chicken and 15 pounds of pulled pork and no rolls to make sandwiches with! Our conversation went a little like this:

Me: Kev where are the rolls???
Kevin: They are in the bag.
Me: No, the silverware is in the bag. Where are the rolls? Wheres the cornbread?
Kevin: I told you, it's in the bag.
Me: I'm not a idiot, there are no rolls or cornbread in this bag!
Kevin: Check the other bag.
Me: There's only one bag!
Kevin: Oh shit.

Luckily after a call to the restaurant we were able to confirm that a bag with my name was left behind after the loader forgot to put it in the car. Thankfully Kevin has a friend who lives close to the restaurant and was able to deliver the missing food.

I am so happy that Erik was able to help me set up and get everything organized and basically keep me sane throughout the day. It's funny, you'd think with 50 people that I know I wouldn't be nervous but it turns out trying to make sure everything goes according to plan is beyond stressful. I don't know how people plan their own weddings...I'd lose my mind!

I also lucked out that my moms best friend Cindy and her husband, Gordon, were in attendance. Gordon also comes well equipped with uber fancy cameras and I didn't have to worry about getting any pictures that day. He snapped the picture of Erik and I below right as the party was starting and I think it's one of my favorites for the day!

Of course there were a few other hiccups along the way and I can say that as a 25 year old being lectured by relatives is one of the worst things, especially when there are a ton of  people around. I was raised to always respect everyone and give people the benefit of the doubt. My dad is the youngest in the family by 10 years and he has one brother and two sisters. When me and Kevin were growing up my Uncle (my dad's brother) used to take us on all sorts of adventures and to museums and I have great memories of these things. His wife, my aunt, retired 15 or so years ago and started in on these trips and such as well and likewise I have wonderful memories of days spent with them.

My aunt has always been a firm believer in women's rights and empowerment and having strong female presence in the world and obviously I can stand behind that. However, somewhere along the line my aunt and uncle started to lose perspective on this and they have strayed from what we call "normal." As I got older it was clear that I was held to far different standards as my brother and I used to think I was the only one who saw that. It become crystal clear to my parents that I was being held to different standards as soon as I went to college and again when I moved out on my own. My brother can do no wrong in their eyes. I, however, can do no right. It's beyond frustrating to have grown up visiting the Susan B Anthony museum when I was younger and hear countless stories about women activists and then be treated completely different from my brother. I'm glad that my parents have finally realized this as I've also watched them treat my mom differently as well.

The first words out of my aunts mouth after Erik and I happily said hello were that her and my uncle were very upset with me. I laughed a bit because I was caught so off guard that I didn't even know what to say because honestly I thought she was joking. When I first sent out the invitations I had instructed that if people needed directions they could call or email and I'd be happy to assist. My uncle had called and left a voice-mail asking about directions and my dad told me that he would call since he had to talk to my uncle anyways. My dad called, left a message with the instructions and never heard back. You see, they don't answer their phone ever, so you play phone tag for weeks. All that mattered was that they had directions so we figured they were all set.

Obviously, I was about to find out they were not. My aunt started lecturing me about the importance of returning phone calls and respecting people. I stated that my dad called and left directions and that I figured they were all set because my uncles message stated that he just wanted directions from me. Apparently, that was not good enough. As the lectured continued I looked at Erik and simply walked away mid sentence, and sure, maybe that was rude on my end but enough is enough. Heck, they made it to the party so really, isn't that the important part?

Later in the party I took a seat with my dads two sisters and a cousin and of course this same aunt came and sat down next to me. In the middle of talking with one of my aunt, my aunt next to me tells me I have chocolate on my face under my nose. Erik and I cut the cake so sure, maybe I have cake on my face but I'm sure Erik would have clued me into this fact. I rub, and wipe and yet she claims it's still there. It dawns on me that it's my scar from my bike crash. I joke that it's a scar from biking and she launches into a rant on how dangerous cycling is for women. You know, cause it's not dangerous for men...

Once again I simply got up and walked away. My parents joked a few days after the party that they have known my aunt and uncle so long that their behavior seems normal to them, but if they take a step back they seem so far out of the loop it's scary. We joke that they have no problem with Kevin moving out of state and riding his motorcycle almost everywhere but me pedaling my bike is far more of a danger. It's come to the point that my mom feels uncomfortable with how my aunt and uncle treat me and we avoid going to dinner with them. What used to be dinner every few months has turned into maybe once a year. I can't lie, it's hard to go to dinner with them and act like everything is peachy keen when it's so clear that they don't agree with anything I do. I can't blame my brother because he has no control in the situation but it's hard to sit there and watch them dote over him and then criticize everything I do.

When I was younger, just before I was graduating high school my uncle told me that women need to go to college and get a degree so that they have something to fall back on when/if their husband ever leaves them and that when I get married it's my job to stay at home while my husband provides for the family. My parents and I used to joke about how messed up this was but to this day I can't shake that he said it.

I try to remind myself that they are still family, but I'm not asking for much. I'd just like the same level as respect as my brother and really I shouldn't even have to request that.

Thursday, September 26

Life Stuff: Party Planning

Can we be honest with each other for a minute? I hate planning parties. I know hate is a strong word, but there is nothing more that I can think of that I hate more. Saturday I'm throwing my parents a 30th anniversary party. My brother who will be splitting the bill is flying in Friday night...let's just say that the most he will be doing for Saturday will be picking up the food and cake the morning of. It's OK...he's a guy and I know that the last thing he could care about is making sure we have decorations and table clothes that match. 

To make maters worse my cycling season is basically over. I initially figured this would work out well because I would have more time to throw together this party, you know, all the things that I left to do until the last possible minute. What I wasn't anticipating was that less cycling meant that I would have fewer happy endorphins running through my system. Less happy endorphins paired with party and work stress has left me a mess. 
I spent Monday night taking photographs of photographs with my iPad because I am too cool for a scanner. I had a nice set up where I used black bean cans and a few wooden boards to create a nice stand for my iPad so I didn't have to worry about holding my hand steady while shooting. 

My mom provided me with a bunch of photo albums and I made my way through them Monday night while my Heart (Dreamboat Annie) record was spinning in the background. It was not a quick process at all as I sorted through images. I was careful to choose images that did not include relatives that are no longer married into the family since a few family members are on different marriages now. I know that some people aren't bothered if they see their significant other with someone else, given the fact that it was in the past but I know some people are most certainly bothered. I guess my goal was to be politically correct in the process.
Of course as I flipped through books I was surprised to find pictures of my dads' bachelor party...thankfully it was just a belly dancer in these photos! 

Last night I spent the evening with large sheets of foam board attempting to cut them into a giant 3 and a giant 0. Then I made a photo collage surrounding the numbers. The project in total took alot longer than anticipated and as I was laying in bed afterwards I suddenly realized I don't know if I will have anywhere to hang this contraption that I made! (I rented a covered pavilion and I'm 99% positive it's half enclosed so there should be some "wall" space...)

Since this is my first attempt at planning a party, it's basically a big trial and error of some things. I ended up ordering invitations through Shutterfly and was able to send those out about 2 months before the party date. Of course after listing myself as the RSVP contact I only received a small number of responses and my mom would call me every few nights with people that responded to her instead. You know...because she is planning her own party...

I consulted my parents when planning the guest list, because at this point, I don't know all my parents friends and I can't just assume who they want there. Some extended family members were left off the list (some of my cousins) because they just don't live in the area and our families are not very close. Of course, like anything, this doesn't always go over well and my grandma (because she is the party planner apparently...) was confronted with questions about why I didn't invite certain people. I talked to my brother and we both agreed that said person had come to one of us with their concerns we would have happily invited them...but if you complain to someone else we won't go out of our way to make you happy. In the end, this party is for my parents.

I have pretty much everything purchased except for the day of things like ice and coffee and such. I have a list of things that need to be done on Saturday and packed in the car. My brother has a list of things that need to be picked up along with the times they need to be picked up. I'm sure everything will work out, but since I am one of those type A, I need to plan ALL the things, I'm a little extra stressed.

I'm planning on taking my bike out tonight because I definitely could use some fresh air and a solid sweat session. Come Saturday, all the stress, planning and money spent will be worth it and I know my parents will have a great time.

I on the other hand just may need a drink or two tomorrow night to keep me sane until party day.

Friday, September 20

Talking About MS

I know, my seemingly MS specific blog has been hijacked by posts of almost everything but MS. Fact is, I've been doing almost everything but MS related things lately. Of course, there are still the monthly visits for infusions, but really, when you think about it that leaves me with 27 days in between treatments where MS is pretty much at the back of my mind.

A few weeks ago I got a message and "connection" request on I signed up for this website when I was in college I'm assuming and after a quick look around I decided I'm not really into the whole group message board kind of thing. Truthfully, in theory I find the site to be a good idea, but after wandering around it's pretty quiet. Maybe I wasn't active enough in it, but I swear I could hear crickets chirping in any groups I related to.

I stuck to my blog, and basically this space became my outlet for all things MS. I attended some group get together designed for people in their 20-30's in the city my college was in, but I never really clicked with anyone. I wasn't all that surprised because I didn't seem to have much in common with people who were 10+ years my senior (I was the lone 20 year old) who had kids and families.

My MS has never been a popular discussion topic. Sure, people will ask me how everything is going and honestly I don't have too much to say about it. It's not a topic that Erik and I discuss too much either, because really, if all is going well, what is their to talk about?

Anyways, like I mentioned, a few weeks ago I received a connection request so I logged on and accepted. We exchanged emails and I figured I wouldn't mind chatting or answering any questions if I could be of any help. It was pretty clear that after a few emails, that I am really bad at being sympathetic. Maybe, this is not politically correct, but while I understand people need to vent in life, I also am the type of  person who usually want's to smack said venture after they have complained enough. Maybe, it's because I choose to live with a can-do attitude, rather than a woe-is-me type of one, but I realized that I am not suited to be a great coach. Of course, if you need a kick in your ass for motivation, maybe then I am your go-to person?

I also think that part of the problem is that it's pretty hard to give a complete stranger actual, usable advice. I have no idea what kind of mindset someone is in or really what their struggles are. I usually go by the motto, "suck it up buttercup" and I know that for me, I am physically capable at picking myself up and pushing on. If I tell some complete stranger than they too in fact should just "suck it up" I feel like it wouldn't go over so well.

We exchanged about 40 quick and short emails and by that time I was pretty sure he had enough of my positive attitude. Sure, I get it, when medicines fail or your body doesn't respond, it flat out sucks. However, you must continue to press on, never let a failure get in your way and just press on. I refuse to be depressed about things I can not change in life. I was dealt a deck of cards and it's up to me to decide how I want to play them. If I choose to sit at home and wallow I am simply missing out on time to play my deck. If you are waiting for the perfect moment to make your move, you are wasting your time.

I know enough to realize that some people need their time to wallow and process, but I'm convinced if you sit in the shadows for too long you will miss your chance at doing something amazing. Even if you have to start small, make a goal and work towards it. I remember when I was in the hospital, unable to walk on my own I would make small goals to get me through the day.

One of my first goals was to simply walk to the end of the neurology floor hallway without needing to rest. It couldn't have been more that 40 feet, but I would walk it with either the help of a nurse or my parents while someone would carry a chair behind me. Eventually I made it, but it was far from easy.

Two January's ago I was sitting on Erik's futon and I simply asked if he thought I could ride a century. I didn't even have a bike and Erik never said I couldn't. That July ago I completed my first century. I completed a second one this past July and another last Saturday.

Even though it doesn't always feel like we are in control of things that happen in life, there is always something you can control. Make a goal and go for it. What do you have to lose?

Wednesday, September 4

Hardcore 24 - The "Support Team" Recap

While the actual Hardcore 24 MTB race recap is not mine to tell, since I didn't actually race it, I'd thought I'd share the other side of the story. You know, the one of the support team of the insane rider who chooses to take part in this race.

I've been to enough mountain bike races to know how these things usually run. For typical races I end up waiting by the start to see the riders take off and then I'll wander into the woods along the trail and will hopefully get a few shots of Erik riding past on his next lap or two and then I'll wander back to the finish to see him cross the line. Most races are 1 1/2-2 hours long so I'll sometimes bring a book and will always bring snacks.

This race is basically the complete opposite of any event I've ever spectated. It's pretty laid back, which to be honest a lot of mountain biking races are, and was held in a county park in Naples, NY. Erik was racing in the solo male division and had planned to race continuously for the entire 24 hours. Originally I had planned on going alone, but I figured it would be more fun to get a camp site and invite my best friend, Steph.

After packing my car to the complete brim and a 2 hour drive we arrived about 1 1/2 hours early. Erik checked in and we got his site set up.

Yup...that's his site. So from what I can ell a lot of people riding are apart of teams and basically rent a pavilion or set up tents and such and have these pretty awesome sites set up. Since Erik was riding solo and didn't have any friends around his site was probably the saddest around. If he was planning on sleeping we would have set up a tent and a little more elaborate site but he was happy with this. Basically he had a cooler, a water cooler, 4 water bottles, a box of random things he may need, a extra jersey, shorts, shoes and socks. Luckily we grabbed a garbage bag from my parents before we left their house so we could put all his stuff in the bag because while the start was dry, the weather turned and was pretty gross for the rest of the weekend. So yeah, his site looked kind of like a homeless persons campsite.

At noon we watched the riders take off on a parade start and once they hit the hill leading towards the trail entrance the riders were off. Steph and I grabbed the car and decided we would go check into our campsite. A few months prior I had reserved a campsite in the campground since I figured the free sites would be crowded and loud (this however a poor assumption....I'd totally recommend the free sites!). When I called for the reservations the groundskeeper asked what kind of site I wanted. We settled on a open, but secluded site, whatever that means. When we checked in we were the only ones there but figured it was early and there would definitely be more tent campers, especially on a Saturday night.

We decided to have lunch first, cantaloupe and pasta salad, and then set up our campsite. Luckily the tent Erik and I have is super simple to set up so we had no issues there. We also went to track down fire wood but had to go back for the car since firewood was about 3 miles down a very long hill. Plus, it was more wood than we would have ever been able to carry ourselves. After the wood excursion we wandered up to Eriks site which was about a ten minute walk to fill his water bottles. We had decided prior to the race that he would carry 1 bottle per lap (laps were around 7.5 miles or so) and then would discard the bottle and grab a new one every lap. Steph and I were in charge of filling bottles and adding Nuun since the water fountains were a five minute walk from his station. About every 3 hours we would take a walk up and fill bottles and saw him pass by once or twice during this time.

Around 3 or so it decided to pour so we sought refuge in our tent and played games to pass the time. Luckily for us the wood was safely stored in my car but it rained basically for the rest of the day so everything else got pretty soaked. We decided to get a fire started around 5 after filling up Erik's bottles and figured it would probably take us a while to get it going since any kindling would be wet. I'm pretty positive we used half a box of matches trying to get the fire going. By this time we had assumed other campers would be getting to their sites and had hoped that there would be some guys around and we figured that they would see our struggles and come and help us. Sometimes you just have to give in and raise your white flag. Unfortunately we were the ONLY tent campers so the idea that someone would magically come start our fire quickly dwindled.

We tried making our own kindling and burning anything that was dry. I joked that the fact that I'm a firefighters daughter I have always been encouraged to not catch things on fire. Our dinner plans included burritos and corn on the cob so we were really hoping for a fire so we could eat warm food. At one point we had a fire going but Steph got excited and dropped a very large log on it by accident and our flames quickly disappeared. Luckily though after another 30 minutes or so we finally had fire.

Usually when I camp Erik's in charge of the fire and I'm in charge of things like food or sometimes my task is to unload the car and try and be patient waiting for fire so I can eat. I was pretty impressed though once we were able to get our fire started because it actually turned out to be quite successful. We had dinner and sat around for a while and once again made our way back up to Erik's site to check on things.

After filling his bottles we were approached by a guy from a team whose pavilion was kiddie corner from Erik's hobo setup. He invited us to come over and sit by the fire that they had set up and offered snacks and such if we were interested. He noted that Erik was a solo rider and made sure to let us know if Erik needed anything we could send him his way and he would do his best to help him out.

We headed back to our site for s'mores and to sit by the fire for a while and finally around 11 made the last trip up to Erik's site. This time we drove the car up and I had checked with the timing table to see when I should be expecting Erik. Steph and I waited and waited, and finally Erik came rolling in about 40 minutes later than anticipated. He had crashed and broke off his front brake. Yup...broke off...completely. I asked what I could do and he asked if we could try and ask around and see if anyone had tools but luckily we had already made a friend. We rolled Erik's bike over and while Erik munched on brownies this guy put a brand new, very expensive hydraulic brake on Erik's bike. I was a bit nervous for this because I know Erik and I know how much he crashes. Luckily I knew I had enough cash on me to cover the part if he totaled it. With a fix bike Erik was off and Steph and I headed back to the campsite. Luckily the fire was still hot enough to throw on our remaining fire wood and crack open a few beers. Around 12:15 it started to downpour so we headed to bed.

It pretty much poured all night so we had trouble sleeping. Plus the fact that we were pretty much alone in the woods is not that reassuring either, especially when it started thunder storming. It's safe to say by 7am I was up for good but functioning pretty poorly, but I was worried about Erik's state so we headed up to his site. Luckily he had a CamelBak to ride with during the night so I wasn't worried about him going thirsty. When we got to his site it looked like a wild animal had attached it...there was stuff all over and Pringles and chips all over the turned out Erik is just messy. When he finally rolled in he looked rough. After two plus years of dating I know Erik pretty darn well and I have never seen him like this and I was concerned about his state. He looked exhausted, which was a given, but just looked so rough. Luckily Erik's saving grace offered him a cup of coffee and that seemed to perk him up. He still had another 3 hours of this race and was determined to continue.

He continued on and we headed to Naples in search of breakfast. Luckily there was a bagel shop that we were able to get them to go as well as some Gatorade and drinks for Erik too. We met up with Erik again and were able to get him to eat some real food and get some Gatorade in him. He was looking way better than the last time we saw him so that helped me stop worrying so much. We packed up our stuff and spent the rest of the time up near Erik's site. After he took off for his final lap we were able to pack up his stuff and get organized so that when he was done we just had to load his bike and Erik. We also tried to kill some time in the car since it was pretty much a non stop rain fest that morning.

Finally around 11:30 we made our way to the pavilion and waited anxiously for Erik to arrive. Just after noon he arrived looking pretty darn happy and pretty freaken muddy. At least he was smiling. I can't say he was moving that quickly but seemed OK enough and was able to answer questions well enough so I knew he was "all there." We dragged his bike to the hose and took off a layer of mud and I sprayed Erik with some water too because he still had to get in my car eventually. We made our way back to the pavilion with the fabulous mechanic so he could reclaim his brake. We loaded Erik's bike up and then loaded Erik in the car so he could get a ride to the showers. Luckily he cleaned up reasonably well and we headed back up to the main park for awards and so Erik could grab lunch.

I'm not so sure the 2 pulled pork sandwiches he downed did any good, if fact they probably hurt his stomach more than anything, but what would I know? Turns out Erik won overall male, riding 155 miles and climbing something like 18,000+ feet in 24 hours. The runner up had 20 laps so Erik's decision to ride his last lap was a good idea in the end.

We had a long drive back as everyone was pretty exhausted. By the time we made it to my parents, where Steph had parked her car, Erik was looking pretty rough. My mom was pretty concerned about him but I figured he just needed sleep. On the way home I stopped at Chipotle for a much needed salad and grabbed Erik a burrito even though he insisted he didn't want any food.

Within 4 hours that burrito was gone. Surprise, surprise.

Tuesday, August 27

Hunter Mountain Hiking Trip

I'd been bugging Erik all summer for a hiking trip and finally we had a day free two weekends ago to take a trip out to the Catskills and climb Hunter Mountain. Since it would be a day trip we could pack light with just some snacks stuffed in our CamelBaks. We ended up driving Erik's motorcycle out to Hunter since it's way more gas friendly than his jeep. It was about a hour and a half drive to the mountain and it was still quite chilly, but I'd pick chilly over boiling any day of the week.

When we finally made it to the DEC parking lot at Notch Lake I was pretty frozen and ended up leaving all my gear on for our walk to the ranger station at Devils Campground. We paid the 3 or 4 dollar fee for motorcycle parking and headed back to the lot to get suited up.
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The first part of the hike was probably the best part because there were some rock formations you got to climb over and hoist yourself up. After about a mile the path mellowed out and you basically ended up zigzagging up the mountain through a beaten path. I can't say that this was the most exciting hike up a mountain and sadly on the way up there were no views of anything...just a lot of trees. It was a pretty cool and dry day and I ended up keeping all my layers on the whole time. I had borrowed one of Erik's thermal long sleeve shirts and paired with my over-sized hiking pants I looked like I had just rolled out of bed. Actually my pants are so big and baggy that we realized they actually fit Erik perfectly so I gifted him them after the hike. I'll be spending some cash at Eastern Mountain Sports later for sure.

The hike up was pretty uneventful. I had raced in a time trail the day before so I was a bit sore but nothing hurt too badly. We took our time on the climb and if a group caught up to us we just pulled off the trail and let them pass. We both share the same thoughts on hiking luckily in the fact that we just want it to be quiet with minimal people noise. There's nothing worse than a loud group chattering away the entire time, so we always happily let people pass to ensure that our hike remains peaceful.

We made a two stops up on the way for snacks. Erik had packed individual serving packs of trail mix and since I am highly motivated for snacks I was easily entertained awaiting the next food stop. It took us about 2-2 1/2 hours to hike to the top of the mountain and once we were on top we had to climb a fire tire to see the real views. 

It's funny, I don't consider myself afraid of heights. I've gone on all the roller coasters at Ceder Point when I was younger and flying doesn't bother me. However, as I climbed the stairs of the tower I found myself with a death grip around the railings. About half way up looked back and was a bit concerned at the rate I was going up. Basically the girl who runs up stairs two at a time was one step away from crawling up them. I couldn't even look anywhere but the stairs I kept telling myself that it was no big deal and it was a very sturdy structure. Thankfully I didn't chicken out and was able to climb the entire tower to see the views. 

I'm not sure why I felt the need to climb the mountain with my cycling sunglasses on my head. Maybe I had grand plans that involved finding a mountain bike to descend the other side of the mountain down the ski slopes or something?
At least I didn't look too terrified in the picture, that's always a plus. Of course anytime we moved I swore I could feel the whole tower move and I maneuvered around the little room so cautiously that Erik couldn't help but laugh. I would barely stand next to the window because obviously I'd fall out. It's funny how you just assume heights don't bother you and then you're completely terrified.

After another snack we made our way back down the mountain, but we took a different route from the way up. I'm pretty positive there is nothing worse then going down a mountain, especially if you're super cool like me and can't feel the bottom of one of your feet. I constantly have to look at my foot planted on the ground and hope that it's in a study spot. Luckily Erik knows that my pace down will slower than a snail so he doesn't rush me at all which is nice. He even found me a pretty sweet walking stick which oddly made a big difference...maybe it was all just mental?

The only downfall to taking a different route down was the fact that we would have about a mile walk on the main road back to the motorcycle. After hiking a mountain there is nothing more boring than walking along side the road.

By the time we were done it was around 4 and I was starving. Luckily Windham is near by and Cave Mountain Brewing was open so we more than made up for our work with local beer, a soft pretzel, sandwiches and a slice of deep fried cheesecake. I'm pretty positive one of these days Erik is going to need to roll me out of a restaurant!

Even though we both agreed that this wasn't our most favorite hike, we still enjoyed the day and for NY the weather was unbeatable. I wouldn't say the hike was too challenging but it was tough enough to leave me sore for days and unable to sit and stand easily too for a while.

Thursday, August 22

The Best Summer Vacation

Maybe I should have titled this post : That Time I Did All The Things On My Summer Vacation but then again what fun would it be to read about everything we did. We took 4 days off from work Thursday - Tuesday, at the beginning of August and loosely planned a bike trip through the Finger Lakes. Erik was in charge of the bikes and the route and I was pretty much in charge of the itinerary and the most important aspect of the trip, in my mind at least, where we would eat.

When coworkers and family members caught wind of what our vacation consisted of I was usually greeted with laughs and a quick reply of "Seriously?" Apparently peoples idea of a vacation weren't what we had planned.

The route Erik planned was roughly 250 miles and would span over 4 nights and 5 days. Erik purchased us each a set of panniers for the back of our bikes which would carry the majority of our things. Erik would also be carrying a large pouch on the front of his bike that would carry smaller items, maps and anything else we might need quick access to. We packed lightly but Erik estimates that our bikes had about 20+ pounds of stuff on them.

Unfortunately I only have pictures from before we left my house and after we got back. It rained the morning we left, hence our beautiful attire. Nothing like starting your trip and being completely soaked within 30 minutes. It was about 60 degrees that day and I started to get quite chilly. Luckily once we reached our first stop, Skaneateles, the sun was out and we were able to dry some stuff out while we ate lunch. We stopped at Dougs Fish Fry and split a meal because no one wants to bike another 25 miles after eating a massive meal.

Erik was still recovering from his Hardcore 24 bike race so we took it easy on day 1. Luckily it stayed dry all the way to Fillmore Glen. Since it was the middle of the week we did not need to make reservations for the campsite and were able to bike it and secure a spot. Of course the park employees got a kick out of our biking trip journey and we very interested to hear all the detail. I had assumed that alot of people travel like this around the area, but apparently I was wrong.

After a quick trip back to town for supplies (and wine) we settled in for the night. Erik made a potato dish with some spices and cheese and we had fresh corn on the cob charred on the fire. We also had some wine and chocolate for dessert.

It became pretty apparent that our packing light plan which had no room for pillows was a not so bright idea. We grouped together all of our clothes and bundled them as a pillow but I spent the whole trip longing for a pillow.

Day 1 Stats:
Miles: 47.1
Elevation: 1760
Ride Time: 3:09:05
Calories Burned: 1330

The morning of Day 2 Erik attempted to make pancakes on our little butane stove but it turned into some weird pancake scramble dish with syrup. Maple syrup makes everything better so I can't really complain. Our plan for the day was to make our way to Geneva where we had reserved a room through Airbnb. After a morning of some big climbs we made our first stop, Man in the Moon Bake Shop. Fresh turnovers and cookies, and coffee for Erik, were the perfect pick me up that morning and fueled our way into Aurora for a early lunch. We stopped at the Fargo Bar and Grill where we had eaten previously with my parents so we knew they be a quick and tasty lunch spot. After lunch we continued our way up north and then west towards Geneva.

We made our way up to route 5 near Montezuma and hit traffic. Of course it also started to pour during this time too so that made things a bit tricky. Erik switched on my blinky light and I prayed no one would drive into me. The wind picked up and a thunderstorm popped up, but we pushed on. By this time we were already soaked so rain wasn't a issue. I started to wish that Erik had fenders for his back tire just so I wouldn't be constantly splashed with water though.

Once we hit Seneca Falls the sun came back out and we made a slight change to our plans so we could visit Sauders Store. Sauders is a pretty popular Amish/Mennonite(?) store that had a massive bulk food section. We loaded up with sour gummy worms and continued towards Geneva. Of course our awesome planning meant we had a address of the house we were staying in but didn't have actual directions there. Luckily we were able to find it eventually.

Since we only brought one cycling kit each we were so excited to be able to wash our jersey and shorts. However, we quickly realized after searching through the house that there wasn't a washer or a dryer. I ended up washing some of our socks in a sink but sadly they never dried.

After much needed showers we put on our nicer outfits and headed out for dinner. We ended up at the Red Dove Tavern where we enjoyed local brews and small plates. After dinner we walked to the movies and saw Two Guns and then stopped quickly at Wegmans for bagels for the next morning.

By the time we got home we were both exhausted and quickly were asleep. I'm sure having real pillows that night helped too.

Day 2 Stats:
Miles: 56.1
Elevation: 1,873
Ride Time: 3:43:33
Calories Burned: 1,557

The morning of Day 3 we were up around 7. We had breakfast and were out of the house by 8-8:30. We headed south towards Watkins Glen and enjoyed the scenery as well as a nice tailwind behind us. Route 14 along Seneca Lake was probably one of the nicer bike routes plus it had some great views. We stopped along the way at a parking area and enjoyed some chocolate for a snack and a few gummy worms. We continued on towards Watkins Glen and about 4 miles out hit a detour which luckily didn't reroute us to far off course, but did lead us right up a hill. Descending into Watkins Glen is tricky thing. The shoulder disappears and traffic flies past you. The road was plagued with bumps and pot holes and the whole time your averaging 30+ mph. Once we safely arrived in town we found a spot by the water to relax before grabbing lunch at The Wildflower Cafe. We've eaten here a few times and there beer is pretty amazing plus their food rocks. After loading up on beer, food and dessert we wandered town for a while and grabbed some groceries and wine.

Our plan for camping that night was pretty iffy. We climbed out of Watkins Glen and continued up 414 along the other side of the lake which I will just call the way less bicycle friendly side. We only had about 10 miles or so until our camp destination but traffic and the steady climb made it challenging. Our plan was to camp at the Blueberry Patch in the Fingerlakes National Forest. Erik, however, neglected to inform me that once we turned off 414 we had a 2-3 mile climb up one very big hill. This was probably my lowest point of the trip, and I was just not enjoying climbing with the extra weight. My body was hurting and I was miserable. I was also stressed because we had no idea what camping at this site entailed. Luckily when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised to find a pretty normal NYS campground. The only difference was that there was no running water or employees. Basically you looked for a site that was unclaimed and then paid 10 dollars and stuffed it in a locked box. The campground only had about 10 sites so I'm glad we got there early to secure our spot.

We were able to find a large amount of wood and were able to have a nice fire that night. Erik cooked chili for dinner and we had some weird but surprisingly tasty almond/fruit cookies. Plus we had the standard wine (Erik picked a sherry that night) and chocolate.

We explored the campground a bit and found the fanciest outhouses I had ever seen and a giant blueberry patch with ripe berries. Despite no pillow I slept straight through the night...I'm guessing it was the sherry.

Day 3 Stats:
Miles: 47.9
Elevation: 2,524
Ride Time: 3:19:59
Calories Burned: 1,737

After a oatmeal breakfast we made our way up Seneca Lake a bit more before heading over towards Cayuga Lake. We had a pretty tough headwind so I ducked behind Erik and just tried to ride his back wheel. About half way to lunch the weather turned from sunny and blue skies to storm. We quickly pulled over and through on our rain gear and continued through the rain. Luckily it didn't last for long and we were able to hit blue skies.

Lunch was a planned stop at The Copper Oven where we enjoyed some very tasty pizza. I also enjoyed a glass of wine from the attached winery. Cayuga Estates happens to be my favorite winery so I was pretty darn happy. After a long lunch we continued on towards Ithaca and we passed the only other bicycle tourists we'd see on the trip.

While I really enjoy Ithaca as a town, I really hate the traffic there. Making our way to Green Grocery where Erik picked up spices for dinner and then to Wegmans was pretty interesting. Luckily people in that area seem to respect the space of bicyclists. We camped overnight at Buttermilk Falls State Park. The climb up to the campsite was a tough one but after the previous nights climb it wasn't all that bad.

Erik cooked a great meal of curry vegetables and we had a side of Naan. Of course the night ended with the usual wine and chocolate...and maybe a cookie or two.

Day 4 Stats:
Miles: 55
Elevation: 1,671
Ride Time: 3:29:17
Calories Burned: 1,504

Day 5 was our last day and we had no plans on where to go. We could take the short way home, about 25 miles, or the long way, about 50 miles or so. We choose the long way but within 5 miles we hit a issue leaving Ithaca. The road we planned on taking didn't allow bicycles so we ended up going up through Cornell which if you know the area is just all hills. We also hit a ton of construction too but after a hour or so we were out of Ithaca.

We made our way towards Marathon and had hoped to grab a early lunch along the way but after 30+ miles we hadn't stumbled across any diners. Finally we hit marathon and were beyond starving and enjoyed grilled cheese. My real interest was dessert though but once we ordered I was sadden by the fact that we had to split the last piece of blueberry cake. I'm pretty sure my biggest calories consumption during this trip came from baked goods and so to realize that we had to split the last piece of dessert in a whole diner was so depressing.

From Marathon we went north back towards Homer. It was pretty evident that lunch was lacking in calories because I was starting to fall behind. At one point I got in a fight with a bee and Erik didn't notice so he continued down the road and I looked kinda crazy hitting my stomach trying to get the bee out of my shirt. I had a great idea to stop at a bakery in downtown Cortland but our mini detour towards it was unsuccessful since it turned out the bakery was sadly closed. After some construction through Cortland  thanks to the main road being completely torn up, we finally made it back to my house. Oh and yes, in those pictures I am wearing arm warmers. Arm warmers in the second week of August.

We both grabbed showers and changed out of our disgusting gear so that we headed towards a early dinner in town. It was so nice to wear anything other than that jersey and shorts. After 5 days in the same smelly outfit I would have been happy wearing a plastic bag though.

Luckily my town has a pretty good pub that has local beer and tasty dessert. After a beer, pizza, guacamole and a piece of banana cream pie the size of my head our journey was really over.

Day 5 Stats:
Miles: 53.6
Elevation: 2,091
Ride Time: 3:53:09
Calories Burned: 1,608

Overall we held up pretty well over the trip. If I could change anything for the next trip I'll definitely be bringing a pillow or some kind of pillow like object. I'd bring a warmer blanket too. I'd invest in travel sized things like sunscreen and a brush because my full size stuff just took up space.

I thought we did pretty well in keeping the trip pretty inexpensive. We camped all but one night which kept costs low so our main big purchases were food. I thought I ate alot of food and was convinced I would gain about 10 pounds on the trip. Turns out that wasn't the case. Don't worry, I'm sure I more than made up for any poundage lost during that week.

My left calf hurt a bit, but I think it was just because I wasn't used to carrying extra weight on the bike. Whatever it was cleared up within a few days after the trip ended and I was back racing the following weekend. Honestly, the trip was awesome. I can't wait until we go for another bike trip next year.

Total Trip Stats:
Miles: 259.7
Elevation: 9,919
Ride Time: 18:06:02 
Calories Burned: 7,736

Wednesday, August 14

Recap: Bike MS 2013

Per usual life gets in the way and the recap I should have written about 3 weeks ago is just coming out today. You probably know the drill though, life > blogging. Anyways let's get this recap started.

The day before Bike MS I spent the day at work while Erik spent the day on a long training ride (120 miles). He had left at 10 PM Thursday night and got back to his house early Friday morning. It was his last real training ride before his Hardcore 24 mountain bike race, but more on that another time. Erik had the day off and met me at my house after I got out of work. After installing my birthday present and loading our bikes we were off. Well, after a quick stop for some much needed caffeine at Tim Hortons we were off.

We had about a 1 1/2 -2 hour drive and when we finally made it to Penn Yan we were starving. Trying to find someplace to eat in a small town at 8 oclock at night is no easy task, especially if you're a vegetarian. Of course Erik, who will eat anything and everything, is always to please and we ended up at some bar eating greasy food. As someone who eats pretty cleanly 90% of the time eating a plate full of greasy food probably wasn't the best idea. Luckily my parents had arrived earlier in the day and were able to grab our room keys for us and when we finally got to campus we found my parents hanging out drinking Yuengling in the common area with some other volunteers. After catching up with them over a beer (beer is a carb - carbloading?) we headed to bed. I can't say sleeping on dorm beds is my preferred method to getting a restful sleep but you take what you can get I suppose.

After a night of probably not enough sleep it was 6 am and we were up getting ready for the day. We made our way outside where we were greeted with overcast conditions and a bit of rain. After downing some more carbs, this time in bagel form, we finished grabbing our gear and we lined up for the start. At 7:30 we were off. The orginal route for the century this year was actually around 94ish miles...about 6 short that the full 100. I had warned Erik that we would be riding a solid 100 at least and would bypass the finish and continue on until we were actually finished. 

As you can see from the graphic below we went above and beyond our 100 and ended the day with 107.5 thanks to one very wrong turn. Around mile 14 we picked up a rider, Larry, who was out by himself for the day. Larry decided that he was going to try and ride with us for the day and we were happy to have company along the way. Of course, shortly after having Larry join we took the wrong loop (we were supposed to go down it, just not until mile 55 or so...) and hit a nice downhill section and had the wind at our backs so we were flying. About 6 miles in we realized we were going the wrong way and so we were forced to back track back up the hill and into the wind. You can see our mistake outlined in the orange box below.

I was certain the extra 12 miles or so would lead to Larry hating us and probably going his own way, but he was happy to continue on with us surprisingly. Larry who was about 60 years old kept joking that we were making him ride faster than planned, but in a good way of course. 

The extra 12 miles meant a lot of the riders had passed us so we did a lot of passing for the next 15 miles or so as we made our way back to the front of the pact. This is a charity ride so you have a lot of people at different levels on bikes and I usually try to encourage people up hills or encourage them when they look like they are having a rough time. For the most part people were friendly but one guy was not a fan of a chick passing him and gave me the nastiest stare as he tried to speed up and pass me. I of course found this pretty funny and was easily able to push up my effort a bit and roll by him quickly.

We only stopped at rest areas this year and kept our stops pretty short. Basically it was a chance to stretch quickly, refill bottles, and shove some food in your mouth. Unlike last year were I only consumed gels I only ate about 2 this year and spent the rest of the time snacking on real food, like bananas with peanut butter and fig newtons. While the weather remained overcast most of the day it was pretty windy and humid. I drank about 5 full bottles of Nuun/Gatorade/water and was still dehydrated when I was done. 

Around mile 78 or so we hit our last rest stop and the weather was turning quickly. The wind picked up significantly and the skies turned dark. We helped the rest area pack up some of there things so they wouldn't blow away and then took off. As soon as we hit the route again it just started down pouring with a nasty headwind. I tucked in behind Larry and just focused on keeping my bike on the road. It was probably about 70ish degrees out at this point and getting smacked in the face with freezing cold rain sucked.

After a awesome downhill section back into Penn Yan we were back in town and had a quick ride back to the college. About 1 mile out I went to bump up my gears so I could sprint to the end and the cable that basically lets you shift (i.e. the shifter cable) broke. My chain dropped to the smallest ring, which on a triple, is SMALL and I was forced to spin like a madwomen to the finish. 

Even though it's not a race, I was happy to be the first woman back. My mom snapped this picture of us at the finish. I was quite surprised how good I look after riding that long...I could have probably used a brush though.
We were able to get cleaned up back in the room and then meet my parents once their volunteering shift ended and head to the dining hall for dinner. Last year we had a great catered meal out on the lawn, but this year it was in the dining hall and dinner was iffy. Of course, my appitate after a long ride usually dissapears so maybe I'm not the best judge of food for the evening. We slipped out early during the speeches and said our goodbyes. My parents were heading home and Erik and I were heading to a nearby state park for a little camping. 

Overall it was a great way to spend my 25th birthday. The night ended with a bottle of wine, baguette, cheese, fruit and chocolate. In the end, who can really complain with that?

Thursday, July 18

Confessions: Changing Hair Stylists

Last week I decided that I had finally had enough of my long hair and was ready to chop it all off. Unfortunately every place that advertises "walk ins welcome" is a liar. The earliest appointment I could get was a week away and I took it. It was a new to me place since I decided I should try new things since I moved, plus it's only hair.

Well, last night was the night of my appointment and I hustled my way to the studio and arrived ten minutes early. There was no receptionists, but there were a lot of people and everyone looked busy. No one greeted me so I awkwardly took a seat in the chairs by the door assuming that was what I was supposed to do. About five minutes before my appointment my stylist, whom luckily I recognized from her picture on the website, walked up to me. She was on the phone but she stopped and pointed at me with her finger and then did a "come hither" kind of motion with her pointer finger. 

I sat down in the chair she directed me to and she stayed on the phone. I awkwardly sat there while she finished up her conversation which was clearing not work related. During this time she started playing with my hair which seemed weird and I kept thinking how this lady I've never met is dragging her fingers through my hair. Also, I couldn't help but fixate on the fact that she smelled like she just smoked a cigarette*. 

I always say that I am not a hugger, but really, I just don't like people touching me. So to have a complete stranger running her fingers through my hair drove me nuts, but I just sat there and stared at the clock knowing that this wouldn't take more than a half a hour. Finally she got off the phone and she went and stood right in front of me, about 3 steps back and just stared at me. She didn't say a word, she just stared. I introduced myself and waited for her to introduce herself but she just asked what I wanted done. I told her what I wanted and she just stood there. I asked if it was something she could do, or if she would have any problems with it and she shook her head.

She washed my hair and then directed me to her chair...with her finger of course. She didn't say anything until the hair cut was over when she commented that I had beautiful hair. She then asked if I wanted my hair dried. My usual stylist always dries my hair and styles it to make sure I'm happy with the final outcome. Obviously you can't tell what your hair looks like when it soaking wet, so I asked for it to be dried. As soon as I said that she said " this heat?" The salon was air conditioned and in jean and a t-shirt I was freezing so having my hair blow dried for 5 minutes would have been welcomed. She opted not to do it and blew my hair around for about 30 seconds before deeming it done.

I paid and walked out with wet hair. I still tipped because it's ingrained in my head that you should always tip for service. Maybe she assumed I was a college kid because I look young and would never come back and that's why she wrote me off as a potential client but I figure in a service industry you'd want people to come back to you over and over again. I had errands to run as it was my night off from biking and I wandered through the store with wet hair that eventually started to dry all crazy. I finally snapped this picture to send a friend before I went to bed of the final product.
I don't know about you, but I really like when I leave a salon with styled hair because usually getting a haircut is a treat for me. It's something I do twice a year or so and it just feels really nice to have great looking hair every once in a while.  Luckily this morning with some help from my straightener my hair looked a bit nicer that the out of control mess that was last night.
Obviously bathroom self portraits are the it thing in this post today. I'm also one of the few people left under the age of thirty without a SmartPhone, but that's for another post. I should also point out that my face is looking way better than it did a few weeks ago. [I feel like that statement should be hashtagged #humblebrag or something to make me a real blogger....especially since I'm doing bathroom selfies now. Oh gosh I just said selfies...I said it twice now...crap! Please send help.] I have to admit that I am so thankful it's mostly healed because after a few days of the crazy stares and double takes in public I was pretty much over it. 

Moral of the story: Just suck it up, fight traffic, and go to your usual stylist who actually wants to have your business.

*NYS has a no smoking rule which basically bans people from smoking in public places and a whole bunch of other rules and such that you can read about HERE. This regulation went into effect a long while ago and since no one I know smokes I'm not really exposed to it at all and I usually get thrown off when I smell it or just fixate on the fact that I smell something disgusting.