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.

Tuesday, July 16

'Twas The Week Before The Century

Saturday I'll be cycling my second century and unlike last year I'm not nervous at all. It's amazing how a year of cycling makes a world of difference in my confidence levels. I spent the weeks leading up to the ride asking Erik the same question repeatedly: "do you think I can actually do this?" I'm sure by the 10th time he answered it he had his response pretty much memorized for the next 40 or so times I asked.

Last year we took the day before the ride off from work and drove down early to get ready. While part of that was because it was also my birthday the main reason was because I was so antsy to get there and make sure everything was perfect. This year it's pretty much the complete opposite. I figured if I survived last years, I can expect to survive it again this year. 

We are both working all day Friday and then will meet up to drive the 2 hour drive which means we will be missing check in completely. Luckily my parents are volunteering and offered to pick up our room keys because we will definitely not make the 2 hour window to pick them up ourselves. I have no idea what we will do for dinner and even that isn't worrying me. The weather shows risks for thunderstorms and rain but we will ride either way, so fretting about the weather seems pointless.

Last year I worried endlessly about nutrition and staying hydrated. Last night I completed my century grocery list by buying a box of oatmeal cream pies Long rides this year have been fueled by Little Debby. While some would argue this isn't the "cleanest" nutrition strategy I've come to realize that in the end you just need calories. As for keeping hydrated I'll bring two bottles with me to start and some Nuun tabs but will probably switch to Gatorade at some point.

My last long ride was Saturday in which I rode 48 miles on flat country roads alone. I was out visiting a friend and surprisingly had no takers on a group ride. I headed out early which a planned route that I made sure to pass along to my friend in case I needed to be rescued. While I can change a flat tire, my bikes skinny tires makes it quite challenging and being stranded is not exactly ideal. 

The route was pretty much flat but between miles 16-33ish it was straight into the wind which was a little painful. Usually my longer rides are with Erik and I've grown accustomed to having someone to draft. My only mistake during this ride was the fact that I brought plain waiter instead of Nuun or some other electrolyte beverage. Plain water does the trick for shorter rides but around mile 45 I started cramping up. Of course I was about 3 miles from the end so I stretched and sucked it up and peddled to the end. Unfortunately everyone was gone when I arrived and I was locked out. Fortunately I had left a Gatorade in my friends car and I was beyond thrilled when I realized the car was still open. 

My rides this week are pretty much the usual, about 15-25 miles in length but nothing to crazy. I may reattempt a nasty hill climb tonight but it's beyond hot outside so I may cut that out. 

In the final bit of news, Saturday is also my birthday and I'll be turning 25. Honestly, my biggest concern for Saturday has nothing to do with the ride, I'm just worried about where I'll be getting birthday dessert. Obviously I have my priorities set straight. 

Wednesday, July 10

The Comeback Ride

After my bike crash the leading question after the initial "oh my gosh are you OK?" or "what happened to your face?" was "so, does this mean you're quitting cycling?"

Two weeks post crash I was back out on my bike with Erik for one heck of a ride. This ride takes the cake for the toughest I've ever completed. 73.1 miles and a whole heck of alot of climbing. Erik joked that aside from the 9 mile ride to the actual course there were no flats between mile ~9 and ~68. We were either climbing or descending the whole way and man was it tough.

I was feeling pretty darn good when we hit the half way point but after that things started to fall apart. We had left early in the morning but but 11 it was already in the 80's with 70%+ humidity and the sun was just killer. Sadly this route had almost no shade except for small little sections that seemed like forever and a day apart. Around mile 55 I had my "crisis" may have laid on the side of the rode in the shade while trying to convince Erik just to abandon me there. Honestly I think it was running low on sugar because after a handful of gummy bears I felt a whole heck of a lot better and by the next stop around mile 66 I was feeling amazing.

Erik's always joked about doing this course and I've always made every excuse in the book why I can't. I think part of the reason I said yes was because I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. Making the final descent from the last climb was so exciting and I was just so proud of myself for sticking with it and pushing through and finishing.

I'm quite thankful Erik has learned when I need a little extra push or tough love and also for the fact that he brought cash and was able to resupply our bottles multiple times that day! 

Now I just need to find a way to 'one up' this ride!

Tuesday, July 9

59th Tysabri Infusion

Yesterday I had my 59th Tysabri infusion and it's safe to say that yesterday was my best infusion yet. The infusion center I go to features two rooms connected by a nurses station and each room has four infusion chairs. The newly added room features individual TVs and the older room has two TVs that are usually streaming some kind of awful daytime programming.

If you're new to the site you are probably wondering what the heck Tysabri is and why I think TVs are apparently a important topic. Well, Tysabri is a once of month IV infusion drug for MS and the drug typically takes a hour to infuse and then there's an addition one hour wait period afterwards to make sure there are no reactions.

Since I've been going for quite some time now I have a routine down. I always bring a book (or Kindle) as well as a additional Internet receiving device (iPad/iTouch/laptop) because sometimes the neuro clinic is loud and reading is nearly impossible. For the most part people don't typically talk to each other, at least when I go that seems to be the case. Honestly, people are usually sleeping when I am there so it's not too exciting.

Anyways, yesterday was a bit different. My face was the number one discussion topic in the first 20 minutes, mainly how well its healed since my before picture was taken (the same one I shared here). It's been just over two weeks since my crash and I'm pretty much healed, aside from the scars and a spot of my chin. I spent some time reading in between my 6 month checkup, which I usually can schedule right in the middle of a Tysabri appointment which is very convenient. The last 45 minutes or so I spent chatting with the women next to me who also had MS and was in her 40's. We talked about her trip to Charlotte and her insane travel story coming back and then she started asking about my biking and how I got into it.

I shared the story from the beginning and told her bits and pieces of my diagnosis and it was great to share and have a discussion between the two of us that was not a competition of symptoms but more of a inspiration to keep pushing on. I mentioned that my cycling team donates all of the profits to a mobile mammography unit and she was more than delighted because she's been cancer free for 5 years after battling breast cancer. Talking to this breast cancer survivor who has also been fighting MS for almost 20 years was amazing and she was such a inspiration to me.

She kept mentioning that I was a inspiration to her and to everyone else. My infusion nurse, who has been there since day one, kept agreeing and kept mentioning that it's time to get my story out there so I can help inspire people.

It seems so crazy to me that someone would think of me as a inspiration, especially when I'm talking to a women who has faced much more than me and is still so encouraging. Before I left the clinic the woman I spent all that time talking to asked for a hug so of course I obliged.

As I left the clinic I felt so happy, so inspired and so positive.

[Side note: I've added a contact me form to the right side of the page which makes it super easy for you to contact me if you have any questions, comments or just want to chat. I'm more than happy to help in any way possible!]

Tuesday, July 2

A Day At The Races : The June Edition

Sometimes race day just doesn't go your way. Maybe the weather isn't ideal or maybe you're just having a off day. It happens, we move on and we race again. I really enjoy racing, it pushes me to a new level and I usually find that on race day I really get to see how my training has paid off.

Here's what Strava has to say about my ride a week ago Sunday.

Now, according to Strava I rode 16.3 miles at a average speed of 19.5. This for me, is awesome. The fastest training ride I've done on a flat course was 19.2. Of course during a race you have the opportunity to work with other cyclists and really gain speed. However, the race that day was 36 miles so somewhere I'm missing half the course.

I went down on a turn in town and while I won't place blame I'd like issue a friendly reminder to volunteers to always point cyclists in the correct direction. Just because the peloton of the crazy fast men have passed through does not mean you're job is over. I am always sure to thank volunteers as I pass by them because they help make these things possible and I truly appreciate you giving up part of your day to help keep us safe, especially us solo riders who find themselves riding alone the majority of the ride because you're not fast enough for the fast riders but faster than the back of the pack. This time though I'll say thank you for calling an ambulance.
I won't say thank you for whoever was kind enough to tell me I lost "a lot of teeth" because no one who just collided with the ground at 16+mph and who has a mouth full of blood and dirt wants to hear that. I will start hyperventilating and choking on blood if you tell me that.

Crash statistics:
0 missing teeth - I REPEAT I HAVE ALL TEETH - thank you very much volunteer
Shoulder - road rash
Chest - road rash
Neck - road rash
Ribs - bruised
Chin - road rash + 5 stitches
Side of face - road rash
Under nose - 3 stitches (we have no idea how but it's looked like I've had a nose bleed for a week thanks to a scar and stitches)
Nose - road rash
Inside lower lip - 6 stitches + completely shredded lip + road rash
Head - mild concussion - cracked helmet
Jaw - swollen but not broken

I've been on a liquid food diet for a week. I get my stitches out this morning and if they extend the liquid diet because my mouth is still pretty raw I may punch someone. Salt water rinses should be considered a form of torture and it takes me about 5 minutes every time to talk myself into it. I don't know how people do juice cleanses because real food is awesome. I would punch someone for a sandwich. It's also been noted that I get extremely irritable and pretty much miserable without real food.

But of course wounds heal and I've already made my return to the bike. I'm so grateful for my teammates and Erik that day. While biking sometimes seems like a solo sport, its really nice to have a great group of ladies to call my teammates.

Now I'm off to go get stitches removed!