Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Now, I wear spandex an awful lot, being a skier and a cyclist, so I forget to be self-concsious about how I look. I forget, that is, until I put on knee or leg warmers with my cycling shorts. Cycling shorts in themselves pose a small problem: the elastic band at the bottom makes an indent in my thigh so there's small fat bulges above and below it. usually the shorts go down far enough that it's not too noticeable because there's less fat by your knee. But, add knee/leg warmers and the elastic band at the top of them (which sits high up on the leg) always puts a huge indent in the inner thigh and creates serious fat bulges. So the combination of shorts & knee warmers causes a ripple effect down the inner thigh where the flab gets squezed into mountains and valleys. It happens, it's unavoidable, even when your legs are in really good shape and strong, there's a layer of fat on the inner thigh that never turns into rock hard muscle (for me, at least). I know many other women who lament the ripple effect as well. Maybe I'll make my own knee warmers that don't have the binding elastic on the top, it's not needed, the shorts alone will hold it up. This is what happens when men design clothes for women.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Over spring break last week I spent a few days at my Grandparents' house. On one of their dressers lived the green/yellow/blue owl (left). Inspired, my Grandma & I got out origami paper to make our own (on right). After several false starts and many hours of intense paper folding we had... The Owl! See what happens when I take days off!?
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Our Northwest Collegiate Cycling Conference Director, Bill Wykoff, has the weekend's results posted by Monday morning at the NWCCC homepage.
No Crit for LAV
It was thrilling to watch my teamates in the Women's B crit. Except for Jaime, it was everyone's first crit, and they did awesome. I got to see Mia Huth and Kate Ceronsky throw in some good attacks and Andrea Miller had a great sprint for prime points. (Okay, I know that it's spelled 'prime,' but it's pronounced 'preem.') Ms. Jaime Hinderliter played a smart race and outsprinted everyone for the race win!
I opted out of the criterium this morning to ease the sudden shock on my body and prevent overuse injury.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
Almost Joining "The Club"
Today I had my first collegiate bike race of the season in Corvallis, OR. After two weeks off, I was completely unprepared. At 9:40 we started the road race- 3.5 laps for a total of 56 miles and four times up the long hill. My first time up the hill I managed to stay in the front but my legs received a rude awakening to the brutal reality of bike racing. At the top of the hill the second time, the top six racers had split into three groups of two, I was in the third group. (Why I love collegiate cycling: earlier in the race we self-neutralized our race for a pee break on the side of the road. I wonder what our follow car officials were thinking.) We worked together to bridge the gaps and soon all six of us were pacelining together. Fast. At the bottom of the hill the third time, I started to bonk. All I had for the race was water and one power bar, clearly not enough calories for 56 miles. I was quickly dropped and rode most of the third lap by mself. A group of three women caught me and I rode with them for about 10 miles, but I was dead and dropped again. The finish was on top of the hill; our fourth time up. I struggled up, slowly, so slowly. I was dreaming of chocolate cake. Before leaving for the race this morning Noah's mom was making chocolate cake to celebrate Noah's birthday tonight (we're staying at the Bronstein's house) and that's what I was earning for as my body started shutting down and my fingers could barely manage to shift. It was all I could do to keep my feet spinning. Pure willpower. Finally I neared the finish. 400m to go, at only a slight grade. And the last Cat.A woman breezed by me. "No," I thought, I almost made it through four years of college withought joining the DFL Club (loosely translated as the Dead Last Club). Determined to not get passed at the finish, I shifted into a bigger gear and stood up to sprint. Then I sat down because I had overestimated my strength and couldn't actually turn a gear that big. So I shifted into an easier gear and stood up to sprint. I sprinted past that girl and then immediately sat down and spun across the finish. It was a comical sprint. She tried to stand up and sprint also and then gave up. I would estimate our speed at about 10 mph. Um, did I mention it was cold and rainy?
So after finishing the race, and knowing that the best cure for a bonk is calories, I ate. Chocolate milk, teddy grahams, bananas, PB&J, cookies, energy bars. I ate so much that during our team time trial that afternoon I had to pull down the waistband of my shorts to let my pot-belly hang over comfortably.
The TTT was much more fun, although still painful. Rebecca Jensen (RJ), Jaime Hinderliter, & I raced together and tackled the hilly, windy course with class and a good attitude. RJ's parents took us out for a Thai food dinner. And now, well, now I'm going to eat that chocolate cake!
Thursday, March 23, 2006
One of my favorite events in Wenatchee, Ridge to River, is on Saturday April 8th. Unfortunately, I have dance rehearsals Saturday mornings so I have to stay in Walla Walla. So I won't attempt a fifth Iron Woman victory this year.
New Schedule Up
My Spring schedule is up and my events are much more local than during ski season so if I'm in your town some weekend you might want to come watch (and bring cookies)!
Friday, March 17, 2006
I woke up at 7 this morning determined to begin my ascent back to productivity. Despite my early start, I didn't finish breakfast until noon. Oh well. But then I finished my book. No, not "The World is Flat," I gave up on that and read "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides. "Middlesex" was fascinating, focusing on the story of a hermaphrodite and, through describing hir* family over three generations, displaying a substantial chunk of American culture. It reveals American history, from 1922 to 1975, through the eyes of a Greek immigrant family. Much more engaging then "The World is Flat."
After I finished "Middlesex" I was motivated to do something. So I made almond biscotti. And then I made Blueberry pound cake. Yep, the cake from the cover of the Cooking Light cookbook with the purple cover. Yum. It's so nice to be in a house where I can make whatever I want and not have to go to the store to get ingredients, everything's already in the cupboards!
*Hir is the gender neutral possessive pronoun, standing in for her/his. Ze is the replacement for she/he. If you're interested in deconstructing the hierarchy of sex/gender in linguistics.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
I'm on day four of a seven day respite. I have found rest periods to be a crucial stage of the training cycle, but also the most challenging. Not training wreaks havoc on my life; my productivity, personal hygeine, and sense of what's important all suffer. Some examples: I've gotten up five times since I started this post, and I'm not even sure what I accomplished. Today was my first shower since Saturday and I was excited to try the "Citrus Lift" shampoo and conditioner that my sister had in the shower but I was too distressed by the prescence of the word "bodifying" on the bottles that I didn't really enjoy it. I spent the rest of my shower pondering whether or not "bodifying" was actually a word (it's not) and why someone would put that in print? This is what I worry about when I'm not at school or training and under pressure.
I do get to do a lot of pleasure reading during these weeks. I finished "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder and "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell which were both excellent & quick reads. Now I've started "The World is Flat" by Thomas Friedman and have most decidedly not been impressed. So now my dilema is whether I should dredge through the remaining 400 pages so that I can justifiably disparage it or give it up and suffer the inner humiliation of not finishing a book. These things become so much more important when I don't have workouts to do and papers to write.
A math gripe against Friedman: On page 67 Friedman says: "But then the law of large numbers started to kick in, and the pace of doubling slowed." What?! The law of large numbers has nothing to do with how fast a number doubles. The law of large numbers states that the average expectation of a set of random variables of a population will approach the mean of the population as you make the set large. In other words, if I estimated the weight of all catfish in Lake Chelan by catching 10 fish and finding their average weight. If I repeat this a LARGE number of times and average my means then I will be able to come arbitrarily close to the true mean of the weight of catfish in Lake Chelan.
Hopefully I can survive the next three days of inactivity without going crazy!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
My biggest fans. Okay, I'm these three's biggest fan as well. It was great to have my family here to celebrate my final collegiate
Monday, March 13, 2006
After 8 years of racing together, I'm going to miss Ali Crocker when she's at Oxford on a Rhodes next year. Here we are on the podium in 4th & 5th after the skate race.
Four years of Whitman Skiing and Tom Olson's supported me through the ups and downs.
Our chase group of four. It was nice to have Ali (Dartmouth), a friend and fellow American (the two CU girls we were with are Europeans) to race with.
Heading up a hill still in the group... although we appear to have gapped some people already, I don't look back during the race so I
never really know what's happening. I'm wearing the new Whitman suit, we had them reprinted since our tops and bottoms were previously slightly different shades of blue.
Trevor Walz shares a case of beer with the host of the house party Saturday night.
I made it safely home Sunday night after a long Steamboat-Denver-Pasco-Walla Walla-Wenatchee trip to find the whole family home AND a chocolate, heart-shaped birthday cake for me! Now I am being lazy and happily suffering a soar throat, perfect timing for getting sick.
The 5km classic race on Thursday was super tough and uneventful. It was cold enough that the waxing was straightforward with hard wax and the tracks were well set. I had intended to take the first kilometer easy, go hard on the second km, sprint the thirds km, and use whatever I had left for the fourth and fifth kms (mostly downhill). I tried to start out easy, but I was worn out after the first kilometer and struggled the rest of the way to the high point of the course, gasping for breath and muscles burning. I recovered enough on the downhills to sprint across the finish line to tie for 13th place with Ali Crocker. I was pleased with my effort; I skied as hard as I could on Thursday, and that's all that I want from a race!
In a mass start race it's crystal clear how fast you have to ski to win. You get to watch the other racers and see how they ski each section of the course. Watching the top college skiers racing with me in the mass start races has helped me improve my racing. In Saturday's 15km skate I got to put some of the race strategy that I've learned into practice. I was seeded tenth so I got to start on the very edge of the front row, which was relaxing since it was easy to avoid other skiers for the starting stretch. Unfortunately, when we narrowed down going up the first uphill someone skied over my left ski and I went down. When they skied over my ski, that ski stopped but the rest of me kept going so when I got back up my left ski was pointed backwards down the course. When I swung it forward another person skied over it and I fell down again. Oh well, it happens.
So I ended up starting the race in the back of the pack but I gradually worked my way up during the climbs so by the top of the course at 3km I was in the top ten and well placed to react to any moves. I realized that my skis were faster than most of the other athletes so I didn't have to worry about getting dropped in the last 2km- I just had to make it to the high point of the course on the last lap in a good position. Things started to break up in the second lap. Jana and two other women broke off the front, since I knew (or at least believed) that I wouldn't be able to pace Jana for two more laps I decided not to go with them and hung out behind the second clump of skiers. By the top I was in a group of four skiers: two CU women, Ali Crocker & myself. One of the CU girls, Lenka, was looking strong and I knew that she was a good climber so I let her lead up the climbs on the third lap and came around on the flats to keep the pace up. We weren't that far ahead of the rest of the field so I was worried that if I set the pace up the hills we'd get caught. By the 3km mark on the last lap we had dropped the other CU girl and had a gap on Crocker. I knew I could out sprint Lenka and I knew that if Crocker & I sprinted either of us might win so I picked it up the last two km, throwing in short sprints to get me over all of the little hills and flats on the way down. I did such a good job on the downhill (why am I not an alpine racer?) that no one was around to challenge me for fourth place at the finish.
So overall it was a great nationals experience. I was expecially delighted to have a large cheering squad: My parents, Peter & Susan; my adorable sissy, Kirsten; My coaches, Tom and Nathan, plus Nathan's wife Shannon (who happens to be a massage therapist so I got a wonderful massage earlier in the week); Tara Gregg, Emma Catmur, Charlie Erdman, and Jodi Brown drove down to watch on their way to Crested Butte for spring break; Jim and Jan Gregg were down from the Methow to watch Brian race; and Hugh Owen came down to watch Kristina, but I still counted them as part of MY cheering squad! Plus most of the Western skiers & coaches cheer for each other, it's like a big family out on the ski racing circuit. I'm going to miss collegiate skiing but it has been an great life for the past four years and there's still a lot to look forward to for next year.
Just be patient, I'll let you know what precisely next year holds in store when I figure that out!
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Tricky Waxing Days
I woke up to heavy snowfall. Warm, thick flakes settling over everything. The average person might look out on such a scene and think, "wow, Steamboat is turning into a beautiful winter wonderland." Not us nordic skiers. It was 0° and still snowing heavily when I started skiing this morning. Even if you weren't a skier, you would be able to tell that that was bad news just by being at the race venue. You might also observe that nordic skiers appear to be a glum, serious lot. No one smiles, no one jokes, there's no small talk between teams, coaches are snappy with their assistant coaches and their athletes. Coaches hunch over their wax benches, waxing furiously. They dig through to the bottom of their wax boxes, trying to find something, anything that will provide both kick and glide in the wet, soft, new-snow tracks. Athletes pull out there "Zeroes," skis designed specifically for new snow at 0°, skis they haven't used all year, maybe for several years, maybe ever. "Zeroes" are last resort skis and only a few people own pairs. I've only raced on them once, at the 2005 Sr. Nationals during the classic sprint, borrowed from someone. They were perfect for one of my heats, but by the next heat they were no longer the right ski.
The other word that gets bandied about on days like this is "hairies" (hairys? I've never actually seen it written). It's said, always, with a slight pause before the word. Like whoever is speaking hopes that something will happen during that pause, their intake of breath, that will save them from needing to bring it up. Using hairys (Is it a verb? a noun? I don't think anyone knows.) means that you permenantly alter your ski bases by chopping up the kick zone with rough sand paper and sharp metal objects, so that the little hairs that compose your base stick out. The end result is to turn your race skis into fish scales, essentially waxless classic skis. By creating a rough surface you hope to be able to physically mesh the ski into the snow when you kick, providing grip. No one wants to do this to their beloved race skis. It's a sacrifice, forcing you to dedicate a pair of classic skis to snowing at 0° race days in exchange for, possibly, good kick in the race at hand. This is why hairys rarely happen except at important races, where sacrificing a pair of skis might be worth a slightly better finish.
Here's to hoping tomorrow is a better day!
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Don't you know, Daarling, the outfit is made in the details. Kristina
is ready to draw her pink pearl handled six shooter. My gun handle has
sparkles, I wanted it green to match my ribbon (which is also part of
my hatband) but apparently green nail polish is not in fashion right
now. We also made ourselves some bling hatbands. Someone even asked me where I bought my hatband, ha! This picture is from
the NCAA banquet Tuesday night.
"I should've been a Cowgirl
I should've learned to rope and ride
Wearing my Stetson, riding my pony on a cattle drive
Stealing the young men's hearts
Just like Rose (Maddox) and (Calamity) Jane
Singin those campfire songs
I should've been a Cowgirl"
-modified Toby Keith lyrics
Dinner tonight was on the top of Mt. Werner. So we rode up in the gondola, which gave us a great view of the mountain and, on the way down, a spectacular view of the lights of Steamboat. It was a good banquet. My requirements for "good" are: plenty of tasty dinner, delicious desserts (duh), and short speeches and anouncements. Plus we got to play dress up!
Thunder Mountain Race Course
I can't help it. The race course makes me think of the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride in Disney Land. First off, Steamboat Springs is Western themed, down to the hot air balloon with "Wild West" writen on it. True it is in the West, but it is definitely a themed resort town, like Frontierland. I tried to get Thai food last night, not to be had, plenty of steaks, however. The course is like a roller coaster laid out on the hillside winding through aspen groves and chimney rock formations jutting out of the snow. It's mostly those rocks that remind me of Thunder Mtn., red and cobbly and exagerated. Plus, there's the rodeo grounds at the start/finish like where you get on and off of the train at Thunder Mtn. So maybe I'll pretend I'm a train during the race. Except that roller coaster trains go exceedingly slowly up the hills, and that is NOT how I am going to go up them!
What does a fox mean?
During my ski yesterday I had to go pee. These things happen, especially when everyone tells you how important it is to stay hydrated so you drink gallons of water a day. Now the race course is almost completely open, plus it doubles back on itself, very spectator friendly, very Laura-has-to-pee unfriendly. So I took a side trail up to Howelsen Meadows, hoping I could find a spot to stop up there. Gorgeous snow meadows, sunny, blue skies, and then I saw a fox loping across the meadows. How cute, I thought, and fast, once it spotted me. But really what that fox meant to me was that no one else was around so it was safe to stop and pee.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Proudly showing off my new Stetson at the race venue.
The 2006 NCAA Skiing Championships athlete gift... A customized black Stetson cowboy hat! Stina and I are planning on dolling these babies up for the banquet on Tuesday night. Now this is what I call motivation to make it to Nationals!
Sunday, March 05, 2006
There is something eminently satisfying about creating something delightful when resources are scarce. I had the best dinner tonight- an apetizer of cucumber, an entree of protein-rich tuna in elbow noodles with a light cheese sauce, accompanied by a steaming mug of tea. Despite, or perhaps because of? the fact that My apetizer was a cucumber that I had broken in half and simply chomped bites out of one unpeeled half, My entree was eaten out of the coffee maker pot with a spoon, I drained the tuna into the bathroom sink, My tea came in a styrafoam cup, The mood lighting came from the soft glow of street lamps outside my window. The perfect dinner.
Something exiting happens tomorrow, check for a picture!
Steamboat Springs, CO
Today I got my first chance at skiing the NCAA race courses. Every race does the same 5km loop at Howelsen Hill Ski area in Steamboat Springs, CO. The start/finish is in a rodeo stadium; they hold professional rodeos here throughout the summer. It is disconcerting to ski through the stadium. There's grandstands, for one, and who ever heard of spectator bleachers at a ski race? It doesn't happen in the U.S. very often. There's also all of the rodeo set up, with the pens and the gates and structures that I don't even know the use of. When I ski through to lap I imagine fantasy cowboys on bulls waiting in the start pen to test their skill against the bull. This creates an odd juxstaposition against the sparkling snow, the tamely groomed tracks, the silence of the skis, and the gentle conversations between skiers.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
22: Another palindromic year
"Today you are you! That is truer than true!
Ther is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Shout loud, "I am lucky to be what I am!
Thank goodness I'm not just a clam or a ham
Or a dusty old jar of sour gooseberry jam!
I am what I am! That's a great thing to be!
If I say so myself, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
Thank you Rj for the "Happy Birthday to you" book, which is appropriate because Dr. Suess & I share the same Birthday!
Tomorrow is my sister Kirsten's Birthday so Happy Birthday to her, too! And tomorrow would be my Grandpa's Birthday so I will be thinking about him. He would always give me a compliment whenver I saw him and make my day that much brighter!