so PLEASE hit me up at www.myspace.com/ratandrea Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you.
Man, I can't figure out how to reply to my last two comments. Please contact me at www.myspace.com/ratandrea, or you can email me at ratandrea@hotmail.com (just put in the subject line: TBLOG comments). I am not originally from Croatia, but my greatgrandparents were. I was born in Chicago, IL. My mother was born in Germany, and my father was born in Chicago. I am German and Croatian. Mt. biker, Pisces, AND and xray tech.?? Wow! Well, I think that's very cool that we're sharing similar lives...
Denmark race Current mood: accomplished I'm not yet home, but I'll be there tomorrow. Denmark has been an adventure. Most of my time was spent preparing for the World Long Distance Duathlon Championships in Fredericia, but afterwards I spent a few days in Copenhagen. I placed 3rd in the elite division. 3rd in the world. it still hasn't quite sunk in. it was a hard fought race for sure, probably one of the hardest if not THE hardest. it was the windiest time trial i have ever ridden. i fought with my bike until i finally relinquished control. i flowed with my bike. i closed my eyes every time a gust of wind would nearly crash me out. i became one with my bike and relaxed as much as i could in the 30 something degree weather. it was much colder with the windchill. oh, and it was raining. let me start from the beginning. ever since angie and i arrived in fredericia it had been raining and hailing off and on, and it was cold. i knew the forecast for my race, and i just shrugged my shoulders about it. whaddya do, you know? it was going to be cold, windy, and wet. that's that. the morning of the race i looked outside at the age groupers racing, and you could see their breath in the air. not a good sign. i saw people bundled up in coats trying to hide in doorways. another bad sign. angie and i strolled down to breakfast where i ate my normal yogurt, fruit, and salami sandwiches. i avoided cheese b/c i didn't want to take in too much dairy since this increases lactic acid production aka burning muscles, and it produces mucous. my race started at 1pm. the afternoons are the coldest, windiest, and wettest... the age groupers started at 7am. boy that was early, and i felt for them b/c to fuel for a race that early is difficult especially when the conditions are so severe. angie and i finished breakfast and stood outside to cheer them on. we yelled Go USA b/c i don't know any of the age groupers by name, but they all had the same uniform on., so we could tell who was from what country. we cheered on other countries as well. i mean everyone was enduring tough conditions, and they were all still racing, and some were even smiling. what troopers! Jason Spong from South Africa came to our room to hang out prerace. he was staying at a hostel that had no heater, so we invited him to relax in our room where he could leave his bag. around 11 am i prepared my two water bottles with First Endurance products. i placed one on my bike and handed the other one to Angie. angie was going to be in the elite feed zone. there was also a neutral feed zone where volunteers handed out water, bananas, and energy bars. i decided i wouldn't take in anything i wasn't used to, so i asked angie if she would hand me my bottle. i knew she knew how to do it since she is a cyclist. i checked my bike into transition at noon. it was so windy that my bike whipped around on the bike rack because i had a disc in the back. a disc is more aerodynamic b/c there are no spokes, but it is a bitch to deal with in windy conditions. on the front i had a tri spoke. in other words, my wheel in the front and 3 thick carbon spokes on it about the width of my hand. also very aerodynamic but hell to handle in the wind. i opted for both not realizing the intensity of the wind out on the course, and it was only going to pick up... the first run was 15k or about 9.3 miles. we ran on gravel, dirt, sidewalks, and road. we ran up and down and through mud. i was so @(*@#*^! cold. i decided i wouldn't run too fast, so i stayed in a pack of some fleshy women. i tried to hide in them. i figured out which way the wind was blowing and positioned myself accordingly to get the best draft. the draft isn't like it is cycling, but it still helps especially when it is really windy and cold. i needed to stay warm on the run b/c of my achilles. it was already aching, and i couldn't afford to tear it again. after awhile i left the group and proceeded to make up ground on the single women running ahead of me. i needed to stay within striking distance, so i could make my move on the bike. i finished the run 4 and a half minutes or so behind the leader. my transition was decent, i guess, for me. i'm never lightning quick in there. i did as well as i could despite not being able to feel my hands. it was hard to buckle my helmet. i headed out on the bike and was cussing within minutes! i couldn't believe the force of the wind on me and my machine. i was all over the road. i bet i rode an extra 5 miles by the end of it! i was yelling out of fear every time a gust of wind would hit me. we had to ride 3 loops, and some of that was in town, so there were terrible gusts between buildings and when there were cross streets. the wind was unpredictable in town. at least out in the country by the water i could have some consistency with the wind. i had to carefully plan when to take my hand off the bar to get a drink. i had to make sure there were no clearings b/c if there were that meant the wind would be gusty in that particular area. i did not think i would survive the 58-mile bike. during the first loop i could not ride as hard as i wanted to b/c i was resisting and fighting my bike. i was angry. i was so cold. my fingers wouldn't work, and neither would my lips. i couldn't get a feed until later b/c there was no way i could grip the bottle from angie. it was raining too, so the roads were slick, and we had many corners to take. plus, the wet road meant constant water being thrown onto my feet, legs, and ass. i could not get warm. i was shaking so hard that it looked like there was something wrong with my bike b/c i was shaking it too. i knew i was hypothermic when i had to shake my head to concentrate. the ambulance kept driving past me. there were lots of medics out on the course. people were getting pulled. i was wishing i would get pulled. then i was wishing i wouldn't. i wanted to make it through this. i wanted to win. i wanted to stop. i didn't know what i wanted. i considered that i was insane... on the 2nd lap it stopped raining and warmed up a few degrees to the point where i could start feeling my hands. i rode a bit faster b/c i could feel my legs. the burning sensation created by the lactic acid was comforting to me. i sprinted out of every corner standing up whenever i had the chance. i was making my body get warm. i was demanding that it stay sharp. i tried to take a feed from neutral, and they almost crashed me b/c the volunteer stood arm stiff while i tried to grab a bottle going balls out. then i saw angie, and she had the gels that fell from my bike. i forgot to tell you about that. i started out with two gels taped to my top tube, but they fell off right as i left transition. i grabbed a bottle from angie going one way, and after i turned around at the end of the street she went to the other side, and i grabbed the gels. it was heaven. i was desperate, and these gels were lifesaving to me. angie said that i nearly ripped her hand off when i grabbed them from her. i was hypoglycemic b/c i had been unable to consume any food. i kept telling myself that i had great reserves from my hearty breakfasts every morning, but i knew i needed more since this race was going to last over 4 hours, and i was expending so much energy trying to stay warm not to mention trying to have a good race. i could tell i was gaining on people. i started passing people. i became more confident. i was thinking to myself that i was not even riding near the speed that i normally could, and i was still going good comparitively. i was wondering how my teammates Christine and Kathryn were doing. Christine had absolutely NO body fat. i KNEW she had to be suffereing if i was suffering. i was really concerned about her and rightly so. she ended up getting pulled. kathryn finished the race albeit in last place. she didn't give up. she didn't quit. that was amazing. i don't look any greater upon anyone who finishes or who doesn't finish. i think both are commendable. everyone has his/her own limits, and i can't judge that. christine was a bit upset that she had dropped out, but she knew it was the right decision. she had tunnel vision and really was in dire need of getting her body warmed. it would have been too dangerous for her to continue on. medical personnel made that decision for her b/c she was unable to. i was right at the end of that rope hanging with a delicate balance... i was amazed i was still riding. i was settling down, and i was getting faster. i was happy. i was also thankful, and i prayed. mostly, though, i was wondering how on earth i was ever going to be able to run after all of this... during the 3rd lap it started raining again, and it got colder. i started to worry again thinking that i would sink down into such a terrible depth of hypothermia that i wouldn't be so lucky to get out of it as i had just one lap earlier. the lap was a tortuous one. i was gaining on first place, but i knew i had neither the strength nor the time to catch her. i had to limit my losses, though, and press on. besides, there was some british chick that was going to try to do the same thing with me. i was sure she would try to catch me on the run....and she did. i flew into transition after having passed every elite woman except for one. i think i was like 10th or 12th coming off the first run, so i definitely made up some ground. i got my helmet off, took off my cycling shoes, and got my right running shoe on. i couldn't get my left shoe on. i was there for a good minute trying to get that sucker on. i felt everyone watching me hopeful that i would finally get my shoe on. i started stomping around, and i realized i couldn't feel my feet AT ALL. i ran out of transition on what felt like nubs. i had to keep looking down to make sure that i wouldn't twist an ankle. i was running on cobbles and was afraid i'd hurt my feet and not know it. i literally could not feel a thing. it was like they weren't there. i was relaxed but scared b/c one of the best duathletes and triathletes in the world who is from Hungary was close behind me, and i knew she could run me down. she didn't, though. some other chick did! the girl who i had passed last on the bike from Great Britain. yeah, so i was in second and now in 3rd, and i guess i'll probably drop to 4th. that's what i was contemplating. i guess that's not bad. i couldn't run any faster, and my achilles and hamstring were screaming in pain. i knew i was bonking too. i had eaten my gels and drank my bottle, but i knew it wasn't enough b/c i had created such a deficit, that i knew it was just a matter of time before my body was just going to shut down. question was when would that happen? i remembered ironman new zealand last year. i kept running and looking at the kilometer signs to see how far ahead of Hungarian Erica Csomor I was. i knew i wasn't going to catch 2nd now that she had passed me, so i was more concerned about who was behind me. that part is really frustrating to me b/c if i wasn't injured i would be able to fight for my position and look forward instead of backward. THAT is what i would like to do, but i cannot. i'm not going to go into my achilles. for those of you who don't know, you can read about it somewhere in an article in google and also in previous blogs. i don't like to harp on it. it's what i have to live with, and i do the best i can with that. ANYway, i saw that i had a pretty good cushion on erica. i counted the kilometer signs down. this last run was 7.5k. that's like 4.7 miles. we did two loops of cobbles, streets, sidewalks, mud, and gravel. the crowds of people were crazy supportive. i finished one loop, and i started to feel my feet. my legs were getting wobbly, though. i felt like i was really slowing down. i didn't know if i could hold off the other competitors. i didn't know if my body would make it too much farther. angie told me that she was happy and proud of me. i couldn't wait to thank her for my hand ups. she saved the day for me. finally, i saw the 7K sign. i had just over 400 meters to go. that was just over one lap of a track. i was going to make it. i looked behind me. no one. i was going to make the podium at the friggin world championships against the top of the top europeans. i had survived the elements. i considered myself blessed. i wanted to cry from both exhilaration and exhaustion... i crossed the finish line, bent over, and just stood there. i looked up and saw a swarm of photographers. whatever---my legs ached, and i was so sleepy. the weather conditions had plumb wore me the heck out. i just wanted to sleep. i needed sugar, so the elite athlete coordinator for the U.S. team got me a Coke. angie made me a First Endurance recovery drink and handed it to me over the fence. i sucked both of them down as quick as i could. the medics were watching me like hawks wondering if i'd be okay. the organizer wanted me on the podium for the media medal ceremony. i told him that i was fine and that i would be there shortly. i was sitting on this bench next to Bennie Vansteelant and his brother. they are two of the world's top duathletes, and they placed 1st and 3rd, respectively. on the bike benny and i kept passing each other going in opposite directions, but we both always looked each other in the eye. it was weird. i remember thinking to myself how beautiful he looked on his bike and how fast he was going. i was in awe. i said to him "i saw you" to which he said "i saw you too." i said, "you looked really fast." he said, "you did too." we both just smiled. he had purple lips. i was thinking that benny probably loved today's conditions since the weather is poopy often in Belgium. the belgian coach looked down at me and told me how incredible he thought my cycling leg was. his eyes were all bugged out, and he was really excited about it. i looked up and thanked him. it's probably one of the greatest compliments i've ever received b/c the belgians are known for their cycling, and they have the best duathletes in the world having placed 1st thru 4th in the elite men's category. many countries including the U.S. send their up and coming young cyclists to belgium because the racing is so frequent and intense, and the conditions are so harsh. i felt really good that i put on a good show for people and that they appreciated it. i heard lots of cheers from lots of people. the hotel employees even came out to cheer! that night was the medal ceremony for the public. it included a dinner. the building was packed with people upstairs and downstairs. they called the athletes up, and we stood on the podium. i congratulated everyone, and the first place girl from denmark noted that she was surrounded by skinny women, and she felt she was big. well, it turned out that she used to be a bodybuilder. i really didn't get a good look at her legs b/c i never passed her on the bike, but angie said that they were huge. i told her that she was the only cyclist i hadn't passed, and she told me that it was b/c she had strong legs. last year i had the fastest bike split, and this year i had the second fastest bike time, but the race is a duathlon, so in the end what matters is who has the fastest time overall, and on this day it wasn't me... angie started feeling really ill the day before the race, and it got worse the day of the race. she was puking all over the place. i can't believe she rode around watching over me as i raced. in fact, she almost got me disqualified b/c she didn't know she couldn't ride next to me as i ran. she stood out in that hellish weather and made sure i got nourishment. the next day i tried to find something like Pepto-Bismol for angie's stomach, but all i could find was anti-diarrhea stuff. i asked what they did for kids who threw up, and they replied that they let them throw up! LOL!~ i understand the logic. if you're throwing up then it means your stomach doesn't want it in there! however, if a fever develops then you need to see a doc. we just rode hers out. we went to copenhagen via the train, and poor angie suffered. i don't know how she did it. when i have to vomit there ain't nuthin' that is gonna stop me! it just comes up. she was able to keep her cookies untossed the whole train ride but then vomited once we checked into the hotel in copenhagen. we had to walk about 20 minutes from the train station, and she was so out of it that she didn't even remember the walk! once again i took off looking for medicine but could find none. she was up every hour puking all night. the next day we rented bikes. well, you put in money, unlock the bike, then return your bike, and get your money back. there are 125 locations for this! very efficient i might say! we parked at a big grocery store to look for medicine again. we took a few steps in the direction of the doors when i turned around and noticed some teenage boys trying to make off with the bikes b/c they could take it to a place, lock the bike, and get the money out just as we could. ANYway, i promptly walked over and said something to the effect of beating some ass if anybody touched those bikes. i was a bit more colorful about it, but we don't need to go into that. we skipped going into the store and rode a bit farther until we came to this India store. we parked the bikes, and angie watched them while i went inside. i found some pink stuff that looked like Pepto. how smart of the Indian people to make a stomach medicine LOOK like Pepto even though it wasn't. it was all herbal, all natural. i bought it and told her to start drinking! long story short, the stuff worked wonders. copenhagen was a blast. angie tried to walk into the royal guards training grounds WHILE there was a guard standing there. that was stopped short when he pounded the butt of his big gun on the ground. LOL! funny to see her walk backwards so fast. we did see the changing of the guards at Amelia Palace which was very cool. they wear those big furry black hats. for the race i got a medal, good money, a plaque, and two bouquets of flowers. i gave the flowers to the hotel employees and thanked them for their encouragement and their beautiful hospitality. they braved some really crappy weather to cheer for me. in fact, there were lots of people who did that, and i want to thank you all. i also want to thank my sponsors and my friends, both on and off MySpace. thank you LOTS for being so interested, so encouraging, and so loving. you make me happy. all i do isn't just for me. it's for you too. true that! cheers, andrea split times for the race: first run 1:00.20/ bike 2:34:26/ second run 30:48 distances: 15K/90K/7.5K transition times: lame! more blogs and info. at www.myspace.com/ratandrea
Denmark race Current mood: accomplished I'm not yet home, but I'll be there tomorrow. Denmark has been an adventure. Most of my time was spent preparing for the World Long Distance Duathlon Championships in Fredericia, but afterwards I spent a few days in Copenhagen. I placed 3rd in the elite division. 3rd in the world. it still hasn't quite sunk in. it was a hard fought race for sure, probably one of the hardest if not THE hardest. it was the windiest time trial i have ever ridden. i fought with my bike until i finally relinquished control. i flowed with my bike. i closed my eyes every time a gust of wind would nearly crash me out. i became one with my bike and relaxed as much as i could in the 30 something degree weather. it was much colder with the windchill. oh, and it was raining. let me start from the beginning. ever since angie and i arrived in fredericia it had been raining and hailing off and on, and it was cold. i knew the forecast for my race, and i just shrugged my shoulders about it. whaddya do, you know? it was going to be cold, windy, and wet. that's that. the morning of the race i looked outside at the age groupers racing, and you could see their breath in the air. not a good sign. i saw people bundled up in coats trying to hide in doorways. another bad sign. angie and i strolled down to breakfast where i ate my normal yogurt, fruit, and salami sandwiches. i avoided cheese b/c i didn't want to take in too much dairy since this increases lactic acid production aka burning muscles, and it produces mucous. my race started at 1pm. the afternoons are the coldest, windiest, and wettest... the age groupers started at 7am. boy that was early, and i felt for them b/c to fuel for a race that early is difficult especially when the conditions are so severe. angie and i finished breakfast and stood outside to cheer them on. we yelled Go USA b/c i don't know any of the age groupers by name, but they all had the same uniform on., so we could tell who was from what country. we cheered on other countries as well. i mean everyone was enduring tough conditions, and they were all still racing, and some were even smiling. what troopers! Jason Spong from South Africa came to our room to hang out prerace. he was staying at a hostel that had no heater, so we invited him to relax in our room where he could leave his bag. around 11 am i prepared my two water bottles with First Endurance products. i placed one on my bike and handed the other one to Angie. angie was going to be in the elite feed zone. there was also a neutral feed zone where volunteers handed out water, bananas, and energy bars. i decided i wouldn't take in anything i wasn't used to, so i asked angie if she would hand me my bottle. i knew she knew how to do it since she is a cyclist. i checked my bike into transition at noon. it was so windy that my bike whipped around on the bike rack because i had a disc in the back. a disc is more aerodynamic b/c there are no spokes, but it is a bitch to deal with in windy conditions. on the front i had a tri spoke. in other words, my wheel in the front and 3 thick carbon spokes on it about the width of my hand. also very aerodynamic but hell to handle in the wind. i opted for both not realizing the intensity of the wind out on the course, and it was only going to pick up... the first run was 15k or about 9.3 miles. we ran on gravel, dirt, sidewalks, and road. we ran up and down and through mud. i was so @(*@#*^! cold. i decided i wouldn't run too fast, so i stayed in a pack of some fleshy women. i tried to hide in them. i figured out which way the wind was blowing and positioned myself accordingly to get the best draft. the draft isn't like it is cycling, but it still helps especially when it is really windy and cold. i needed to stay warm on the run b/c of my achilles. it was already aching, and i couldn't afford to tear it again. after awhile i left the group and proceeded to make up ground on the single women running ahead of me. i needed to stay within striking distance, so i could make my move on the bike. i finished the run 4 and a half minutes or so behind the leader. my transition was decent, i guess, for me. i'm never lightning quick in there. i did as well as i could despite not being able to feel my hands. it was hard to buckle my helmet. i headed out on the bike and was cussing within minutes! i couldn't believe the force of the wind on me and my machine. i was all over the road. i bet i rode an extra 5 miles by the end of it! i was yelling out of fear every time a gust of wind would hit me. we had to ride 3 loops, and some of that was in town, so there were terrible gusts between buildings and when there were cross streets. the wind was unpredictable in town. at least out in the country by the water i could have some consistency with the wind. i had to carefully plan when to take my hand off the bar to get a drink. i had to make sure there were no clearings b/c if there were that meant the wind would be gusty in that particular area. i did not think i would survive the 58-mile bike. during the first loop i could not ride as hard as i wanted to b/c i was resisting and fighting my bike. i was angry. i was so cold. my fingers wouldn't work, and neither would my lips. i couldn't get a feed until later b/c there was no way i could grip the bottle from angie. it was raining too, so the roads were slick, and we had many corners to take. plus, the wet road meant constant water being thrown onto my feet, legs, and ass. i could not get warm. i was shaking so hard that it looked like there was something wrong with my bike b/c i was shaking it too. i knew i was hypothermic when i had to shake my head to concentrate. the ambulance kept driving past me. there were lots of medics out on the course. people were getting pulled. i was wishing i would get pulled. then i was wishing i wouldn't. i wanted to make it through this. i wanted to win. i wanted to stop. i didn't know what i wanted. i considered that i was insane... on the 2nd lap it stopped raining and warmed up a few degrees to the point where i could start feeling my hands. i rode a bit faster b/c i could feel my legs. the burning sensation created by the lactic acid was comforting to me. i sprinted out of every corner standing up whenever i had the chance. i was making my body get warm. i was demanding that it stay sharp. i tried to take a feed from neutral, and they almost crashed me b/c the volunteer stood arm stiff while i tried to grab a bottle going balls out. then i saw angie, and she had the gels that fell from my bike. i forgot to tell you about that. i started out with two gels taped to my top tube, but they fell off right as i left transition. i grabbed a bottle from angie going one way, and after i turned around at the end of the street she went to the other side, and i grabbed the gels. it was heaven. i was desperate, and these gels were lifesaving to me. angie said that i nearly ripped her hand off when i grabbed them from her. i was hypoglycemic b/c i had been unable to consume any food. i kept telling myself that i had great reserves from my hearty breakfasts every morning, but i knew i needed more since this race was going to last over 4 hours, and i was expending so much energy trying to stay warm not to mention trying to have a good race. i could tell i was gaining on people. i started passing people. i became more confident. i was thinking to myself that i was not even riding near the speed that i normally could, and i was still going good comparitively. i was wondering how my teammates Christine and Kathryn were doing. Christine had absolutely NO body fat. i KNEW she had to be suffereing if i was suffering. i was really concerned about her and rightly so. she ended up getting pulled. kathryn finished the race albeit in last place. she didn't give up. she didn't quit. that was amazing. i don't look any greater upon anyone who finishes or who doesn't finish. i think both are commendable. everyone has his/her own limits, and i can't judge that. christine was a bit upset that she had dropped out, but she knew it was the right decision. she had tunnel vision and really was in dire need of getting her body warmed. it would have been too dangerous for her to continue on. medical personnel made that decision for her b/c she was unable to. i was right at the end of that rope hanging with a delicate balance... i was amazed i was still riding. i was settling down, and i was getting faster. i was happy. i was also thankful, and i prayed. mostly, though, i was wondering how on earth i was ever going to be able to run after all of this... during the 3rd lap it started raining again, and it got colder. i started to worry again thinking that i would sink down into such a terrible depth of hypothermia that i wouldn't be so lucky to get out of it as i had just one lap earlier. the lap was a tortuous one. i was gaining on first place, but i knew i had neither the strength nor the time to catch her. i had to limit my losses, though, and press on. besides, there was some british chick that was going to try to do the same thing with me. i was sure she would try to catch me on the run....and she did. i flew into transition after having passed every elite woman except for one. i think i was like 10th or 12th coming off the first run, so i definitely made up some ground. i got my helmet off, took off my cycling shoes, and got my right running shoe on. i couldn't get my left shoe on. i was there for a good minute trying to get that sucker on. i felt everyone watching me hopeful that i would finally get my shoe on. i started stomping around, and i realized i couldn't feel my feet AT ALL. i ran out of transition on what felt like nubs. i had to keep looking down to make sure that i wouldn't twist an ankle. i was running on cobbles and was afraid i'd hurt my feet and not know it. i literally could not feel a thing. it was like they weren't there. i was relaxed but scared b/c one of the best duathletes and triathletes in the world who is from Hungary was close behind me, and i knew she could run me down. she didn't, though. some other chick did! the girl who i had passed last on the bike from Great Britain. yeah, so i was in second and now in 3rd, and i guess i'll probably drop to 4th. that's what i was contemplating. i guess that's not bad. i couldn't run any faster, and my achilles and hamstring were screaming in pain. i knew i was bonking too. i had eaten my gels and drank my bottle, but i knew it wasn't enough b/c i had created such a deficit, that i knew it was just a matter of time before my body was just going to shut down. question was when would that happen? i remembered ironman new zealand last year. i kept running and looking at the kilometer signs to see how far ahead of Hungarian Erica Csomor I was. i knew i wasn't going to catch 2nd now that she had passed me, so i was more concerned about who was behind me. that part is really frustrating to me b/c if i wasn't injured i would be able to fight for my position and look forward instead of backward. THAT is what i would like to do, but i cannot. i'm not going to go into my achilles. for those of you who don't know, you can read about it somewhere in an article in google and also in previous blogs. i don't like to harp on it. it's what i have to live with, and i do the best i can with that. ANYway, i saw that i had a pretty good cushion on erica. i counted the kilometer signs down. this last run was 7.5k. that's like 4.7 miles. we did two loops of cobbles, streets, sidewalks, mud, and gravel. the crowds of people were crazy supportive. i finished one loop, and i started to feel my feet. my legs were getting wobbly, though. i felt like i was really slowing down. i didn't know if i could hold off the other competitors. i didn't know if my body would make it too much farther. angie told me that she was happy and proud of me. i couldn't wait to thank her for my hand ups. she saved the day for me. finally, i saw the 7K sign. i had just over 400 meters to go. that was just over one lap of a track. i was going to make it. i looked behind me. no one. i was going to make the podium at the friggin world championships against the top of the top europeans. i had survived the elements. i considered myself blessed. i wanted to cry from both exhilaration and exhaustion... i crossed the finish line, bent over, and just stood there. i looked up and saw a swarm of photographers. whatever---my legs ached, and i was so sleepy. the weather conditions had plumb wore me the heck out. i just wanted to sleep. i needed sugar, so the elite athlete coordinator for the U.S. team got me a Coke. angie made me a First Endurance recovery drink and handed it to me over the fence. i sucked both of them down as quick as i could. the medics were watching me like hawks wondering if i'd be okay. the organizer wanted me on the podium for the media medal ceremony. i told him that i was fine and that i would be there shortly. i was sitting on this bench next to Bennie Vansteelant and his brother. they are two of the world's top duathletes, and they placed 1st and 3rd, respectively. on the bike benny and i kept passing each other going in opposite directions, but we both always looked each other in the eye. it was weird. i remember thinking to myself how beautiful he looked on his bike and how fast he was going. i was in awe. i said to him "i saw you" to which he said "i saw you too." i said, "you looked really fast." he said, "you did too." we both just smiled. he had purple lips. i was thinking that benny probably loved today's conditions since the weather is poopy often in Belgium. the belgian coach looked down at me and told me how incredible he thought my cycling leg was. his eyes were all bugged out, and he was really excited about it. i looked up and thanked him. it's probably one of the greatest compliments i've ever received b/c the belgians are known for their cycling, and they have the best duathletes in the world having placed 1st thru 4th in the elite men's category. many countries including the U.S. send their up and coming young cyclists to belgium because the racing is so frequent and intense, and the conditions are so harsh. i felt really good that i put on a good show for people and that they appreciated it. i heard lots of cheers from lots of people. the hotel employees even came out to cheer! that night was the medal ceremony for the public. it included a dinner. the building was packed with people upstairs and downstairs. they called the athletes up, and we stood on the podium. i congratulated everyone, and the first place girl from denmark noted that she was surrounded by skinny women, and she felt she was big. well, it turned out that she used to be a bodybuilder. i really didn't get a good look at her legs b/c i never passed her on the bike, but angie said that they were huge. i told her that she was the only cyclist i hadn't passed, and she told me that it was b/c she had strong legs. last year i had the fastest bike split, and this year i had the second fastest bike time, but the race is a duathlon, so in the end what matters is who has the fastest time overall, and on this day it wasn't me... angie started feeling really ill the day before the race, and it got worse the day of the race. she was puking all over the place. i can't believe she rode around watching over me as i raced. in fact, she almost got me disqualified b/c she didn't know she couldn't ride next to me as i ran. she stood out in that hellish weather and made sure i got nourishment. the next day i tried to find something like Pepto-Bismol for angie's stomach, but all i could find was anti-diarrhea stuff. i asked what they did for kids who threw up, and they replied that they let them throw up! LOL!~ i understand the logic. if you're throwing up then it means your stomach doesn't want it in there! however, if a fever develops then you need to see a doc. we just rode hers out. we went to copenhagen via the train, and poor angie suffered. i don't know how she did it. when i have to vomit there ain't nuthin' that is gonna stop me! it just comes up. she was able to keep her cookies untossed the whole train ride but then vomited once we checked into the hotel in copenhagen. we had to walk about 20 minutes from the train station, and she was so out of it that she didn't even remember the walk! once again i took off looking for medicine but could find none. she was up every hour puking all night. the next day we rented bikes. well, you put in money, unlock the bike, then return your bike, and get your money back. there are 125 locations for this! very efficient i might say! we parked at a big grocery store to look for medicine again. we took a few steps in the direction of the doors when i turned around and noticed some teenage boys trying to make off with the bikes b/c they could take it to a place, lock the bike, and get the money out just as we could. ANYway, i promptly walked over and said something to the effect of beating some ass if anybody touched those bikes. i was a bit more colorful about it, but we don't need to go into that. we skipped going into the store and rode a bit farther until we came to this India store. we parked the bikes, and angie watched them while i went inside. i found some pink stuff that looked like Pepto. how smart of the Indian people to make a stomach medicine LOOK like Pepto even though it wasn't. it was all herbal, all natural. i bought it and told her to start drinking! long story short, the stuff worked wonders. copenhagen was a blast. angie tried to walk into the royal guards training grounds WHILE there was a guard standing there. that was stopped short when he pounded the butt of his big gun on the ground. LOL! funny to see her walk backwards so fast. we did see the changing of the guards at Amelia Palace which was very cool. they wear those big furry black hats. for the race i got a medal, good money, a plaque, and two bouquets of flowers. i gave the flowers to the hotel employees and thanked them for their encouragement and their beautiful hospitality. they braved some really crappy weather to cheer for me. in fact, there were lots of people who did that, and i want to thank you all. i also want to thank my sponsors and my friends, both on and off MySpace. thank you LOTS for being so interested, so encouraging, and so loving. you make me happy. all i do isn't just for me. it's for you too. true that! cheers, andrea split times for the race: first run 1:00.20/ bike 2:34:26/ second run 30:48 distances: 15K/90K/7.5K transition times: lame!
Who is the mystery commenter? You said you liked my blogs. You said you liked my woman on the mountain story and asked if she was real. Yes, she was real.
My job kicks ass. Xrays are universal. I can do my job anywhere, and everywhere needs me. I've xrayed folks who weighed around a pound (little preemie) to folks who weighed over 600lbs. (BIIIIIIIIIIIG adult). I love the patient interaction. I love the challenge of trauma. I love being part of that chain of life... Hey, it's 420. I'm not all into it, but I know a lot of folks who are. Cheers to ya! My scapula area is still all jacked up. It's amazing that I can drag myself out of bed after taking muscle relaxers the night before. I had to have a cup of coffee before my run today just to get going. Normally, I just drink green tea. Coffee is saved for those long ride days. I didn't ride today. Come to think of it, I didn't ride yesterday either. Oh well. LMAO. I'M in charge! Gosh, maybe I'm really a Leo instead of a Pisces..... I think I might race in the Duathlon World Cup which is in Mason, OH. on May 6th. Cheeky, cheeky----I dunno because it's draft-legal which means I'd have to haul ass on the first 10K run because if there's a pack of women ahead of me that can get together they are going to kill themselves to stay away from me on the bike. Then again, I remember once these two world-class duathletes did that once in a draft-legal race, and I caught them anyway by myself. Going up against two people is different, though, than going up against 5 or 6. Hmmmmm, challenging... If I can convince myself to make the drive or the plane ride then I'll go. I don't know if I can get into the race anymore since it's so late. It's $1500 to win, and 5th place is $600. Being that it's a World Cup race it should draw the best of the best. I want in on that... Like a cougar... That actually pertains to this show I watched the other night that called older women who dated younger men "cougars." Either way...
Today was a running day. I was going to run on the grass but was running late for work, so I had to run on the roads. I did this with apprehension, but I hadn't run in two days, so I thought it would be okay. I ran in East Norman which is quite hilly. I ran for 1:20 and kept most of my miles around a comfortable 7:10/mile pace. During the last 3 miles I clipped off 6:40's which was quite pleasing to me. I couldn't help but run with a smile as they seemed to be quite effortless except that when I tried to push harder my Achilles would get "that" feeling almost like the feeling your leg gets when it's about to cramp. It's frustrating, but I'm just going with it. I can't complain about the progress I've made over the past year. It's taken a lot of patience and determination for sure. Resilience too. I'm trying not to set lofty goals, but this is where it gets hard. This where it's hard for me not to put my bike away and run everyday, but realistically I know this is not possible. I must keep the status quo because that is what's working for me. I must not push too hard, or I risk losing everything I've gained. There's that line that I want to run on, but that I don't want to fall off of... Redlands is going on this weekend. I kinda wish I was there. I did well in the criterium last year, and my good friend, Anne Samplonius, is sitting in 10th right now after the 5K prologue, so I know I'd be right in the hunt judging by how she finished to me in a TT last month. I wish her the best! On Monday I'll have worked 10 days in a row to total 60 hours. I've worked 40 hours this week right now, and then I have to work Sat. and Sun. for 6 hours a piece and then another 8 hours on Monday. Whew! Oh yeah, plus I'm training a bit here and there! P.S. I'm keeping my blogs at www.myspace.com/ratandrea Sometimes I forget to repost them here. Sorry.
Comin' round... Current mood: crazy I forgot to mention in yesterday's blog that the guy driving the lead car for the Open Women's race in Texas came up to me after the race and said that I made for an exciting race. He said that he really enjoyed it, but he was bummed out that the woman who did no work won the race. I told him that's what sprinters do, and we tried to get rid of her a couple of times, but she fought hard to stay in, and she deserved the win. I should have been stronger so that I could have held her off, so I consider it my "fault" that I didn't win. I don't look at it that some chick sat on my wheel and did no work; that happens a lot, and people are gonna race they want to race. In my mind, it's up to me to alter the race so that it's in my favor, but when I'm not strong enough to or when I make a strategic mistake then it's MY bad. I don't blame other people for my not winning UNLESS, of course, they crash me out or something. Still, though, that's part of bike racing, and it happens. You have to be willing to accept ALL of that stuff when you enter a race. I was running late for work today, so my hair is freakin' CRAZY. I mean I'm not one to spend time on my primpin', so it's really nothing new except that I used WAY too much gel, and my hair is spiked and stickin' out everywhere. I think I may have started a new trend just 'cause I got it like that. Heh, heh. The doctors and my co-workers love it, and my patients love it, so it's all good.
Went to Austin, TX. this past weekend. Lovely city. Well, it USED to be. Back when I was a kid, my momma used to take my sister and I to Zilker Park. Austin was just considered more of a "town" back then. Now, it's a full on city with big ole expressways and an international airport. Heck, Oklahoma City's airport isn't even international! Austin IS a beautiful place, but the traffic sucks, and there are just way too many people; you really can't find peace anywhere. I took a gander on the Mopac Trails where I ran a bit for a few days prior to my Motorola Austin Marathon debut back in 1995, and those trails are special to me I guess because I won that race AND set the course record (It was like 2:40 and some change). It was my first and only marathon win. When I ran my 2:34:20 at Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, MN. a few months later I placed 2nd by a mere 9 seconds. NINE seconds over 26.2 mi. Ouch. I HATED seeing that Russian finish ahead of me... I had chased her for so long but came up short. ANYway, the bike races this past weekend were on Sat. and Sun. and were about 40 miles a piece. They were kinda hilly, and there was quite a wind blowin' on Sunday. The temps. and humidity were in the where's-the-nearest-pool range. My legs were extremely fatigued after coming off a hard week leading up to my duathlon in early April. I'm doing what they call "crash" weeks right now where I'm doing some really intense training on back to back days. Plus, I'm running harder and longer each week albeit still only every other day. This on its own is tough for my legs because although they get a rest day every other day, then never really get used to the pounding, so it really takes alot out of me each time I run. So, I confided in my teammates about my dead legs because I honestly didn't know how I would be able to perform. I didn't feel good, and I was honest about that. Helene noticed that I was having trouble, but I tried to conceal it. I was already a marked woman, and I didn't need people knowing that I was feeling poopy. I managed to hang in there and get 2nd after attacking hard about 400m. from the finish. I just wasn't strong enough to hold off my chaser, though, and the finish was a little power hill which I didn't do very well on. The second day I was in a break of four, and again I felt like I had a huge target on my back. I'm getting used to that, though, so it doesn't really bother me anymore. It's a huge sign of respect, and I'm flattered by it, but it also makes it especially challenging for me to try to do anything during a race, and right now I don't have the punch that I need to get away quickly and sustain it long enough to blow everyone apart because they all work together to keep me in check. Very smart of them, I guess. Anyway, though, I lead the group out from about 300m. out, and one girl came around me at the end. She's a very good sprinter, but I still wish I could have been strong enough to hold her off and to punch it up that finishing power hill. Well, so I've been the darn bride's maid for 3 races now. I wanna be the bride, dammit! LOL!! My teammates both rode very well, and I want to congratulate them on their learning process. They are coming along... I love their desire, their passion, and their determination. THAT'S why I enjoy racing with them. It was nice seeing some people I used to race with on the pro circuit, and I encouraged the women I raced with. I hope to see them high up there in the results I read. I won't race bikes again until after Powerman Alabama. Cheers, Andrea "RAT"
LOL---some of you made comments regarding the moment shared with a woman in Australia when I was riding intervals on Mt. Cootha. I thank you for your comments. If I would have REALLY wanted to speak with this woman I would have. I believe that some moments are meant to be shared in silence. Some are meant to be shared simply in passing. The sight of this woman filled me with joy, and I was very happy with that. I didn't need to stop her, and I didn't need to stop what I was doing; although, if you recall I nearly fell off my bike once because she smelled lovely, and I lost focus momentarily (this part of the mountain was steep, and I was doing low cadence stuff). Really, though, I don't wonder what would have happened if I would have spoken to her. I am quite happy with the memory I have of her and of the days I saw her. I was in surgery today doing a back. The surgeons entered anteriorily, so there was lots of belly fat to go through. One of the surgeons does bariatric surgery, and the other one is a neurosurgeon; both are friends of mine. Anyway, they kind of laughed and said that "this" (referring to the fat) was something that I would never see. You never know, though. I run into LOTS of overweight people who tell me that they used to look like me...
The strawberry is gone from my ass. Remember how I told ya'll this dame took crashed me out that weekend in Phoenix. One strawberry is gone, but then I got these HUGE (like the size of the palm of my hand) chocolate covered strawberries delivered to me on my birthday last Saturday from a beautiful gal who lives in L.A. Last year around this time she sent me 15 tulips after I returned home from Redlands, CA. where she saw me race. She saw me in my race tent afterwards but was too shy to speak with me. Anyway, we've kept in touch via email. I think she's just lovely. I also got some other really cool gifts from some really wonderful people. Thank you all. It's weird saying "I'm 40." My body feels that way sometimes! I've been hard on it. I'm running every other day, and my Achilles is tolerating it. Today it's really sore, so I'm not going to get too excited. I'm enjoying the times that I run, though, so I'm happy about that. I have a big duathlon on April 9th that I'd like to do. It's Powerman Alabama. I'm the defending champion, and it's the only World Qualifier for pros. Yesterday it was 92 degrees here in Oklahoma City. Bizarre. Today it's 30 degrees cooler. Tis the season for crazy weather here. I know my blogs are boring right now. I just haven't felt too creative lately. I'm not getting out enough to see funny things.
Antarctica Current mood: chipper Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, it's cold here!! I guess there was a major ice storm that hit OKC this past weekend. Actually, I knew that because I kept up with it via The Weather Channel while I was sunning my bum in Phoenix. Speaking of my bum, it's pretty much all better. There's a strawberry still on it but not too bad. I'm a little sore in my shoulders and ribs kinda like going into the gym after a 6 month layoff. I haven't ridden my bike or ran since Sunday, so I'm getting antsy to do that. The hospital called me in today, and I have to work a long shift there tomorrow, so training now is a bit tough. I'll squeeze it in, though. This past weekend is kind of gone now as I shift my focus to Powerman Alabama on April 9th. I will concentrate more on my running now if my Achilles allows for it. Cycling will have to take a back seat. Sorry you bike lovers. It's just the way it is with me. I want to start swimming too. I'm gonna do that soon. It's so hard for me to jump in a pool of water at 6am when it's so cold outside. The water ain't THAT warm! Well, I guess that's all for now. If any of you are around, come to my party on 2-25. It's sure to be a blast as all of my parties are. They are few and far between (the last one was Mardi Gras 2005), but they are the star on life's Christmas tree!
VAlley of the Sun Criterium Current mood: accomplished Okay okay, I DID finally find where the race bible indicated that there was a time bonus at the end of the road race. There was also one at the end of today's criterium. My teammate, Helene, actually found where it said that in the race bible, so my bad. Either way it didn't matter because of bad luck before the finish yesterday and today. Erin Mirabella had 2 seconds on me today, and Anne Samplonius was 22 seconds behind me. There were time bonuses at the finish. I HAD to win the race to win the jersey back, and Erin had to get 3rd or not place in the top 3. My only hope was catching her off guard which would be hard to do since I knew she would be marking me like a Sharpie! Every time I turned around I saw Erin, but still I tried to get away several times. The course was technical in that the roads were rough. In one corner there were actually those little turtle bump thingys. There was also a chicane, and it was windy again. There were some attacks, and most people I let go unless Erin or Anne were in the breaks. The race was SUPPOSE to be 40 minutes long, but I don't think it was because all of a sudden I heard "4 laps to go." I had just drifted back a few spots and was next to Jen of Bicycle John's (Erin's teammate), Erin, and Anne when all of a sudden I hear this girl zipping to my inside trying to ride in the curb. Well guess what? She didn't take a good line, and she ended up crashing me. I hit hard on my right buttcheek and also hurt my right humerus and wrist. I jumped up quickly while yelling, "I can't believe you just did this to me!" I mean you don't try something THAT risky around the top GC riders when there are no more free laps. In criteriums there are no more free laps after 5 laps to go, so no matter what happens to you, you just have to ride it in. If the crash would have occured with 6 laps to go, then I would have been able to go to the pit and get put back in the race when the pack came back around. As it was I had to time trial for 4 laps just dangling off the pack all the while watching my 2nd place and a chance for the win ride away from me. It was SO frustrating for me. I had to keep riding hard to stay within 22 seconds of the pack. I finished behind the pack, but I didn't know how far back. I ended up holding on to my 2nd place, but it was only by about 1 or 2 seconds. Whew! I was more disappointed with not having the opportunity to go for the win because that's what I planned on doing. I was going to work some magic and try to take it all, but I didn't get the chance to. It is really hard to swallow knowing that I only lost the whole stage race by 2 seconds because I think back to all of the times I stopped pedaling during the time trial to shift positions on my bike. I think back to anywhere possible I could have gained 3 seconds, and there are lots of places. I should have ridden faster... I won the jersey, and I lost it. That's a tough one. I felt bad for my teammates because they were really excited to be in the leader's jersey, you know? Although they remained very positive the whole time, I felt like I disappointed them a little bit. I wanted the jersey as much for them as I did for myself and for the people in my club back home. BUT, I'm not banged up too badly. My pelvis is jacked up, though, because I tried to run and couldn't. I'm hoping that will get better quickly. AND I DID win the jersey one day, so that was cool. My teammates also rode very very well; they are coming along nicely, and I'm so proud of them. They overcame some personal hurdles which is wonderful. Helene stayed in the crit. and helped block the wind for me in the road race. She rode beautifully both days. Angie never gave up in the road race and finished just off the first pack. She was riding a great crit. unitil she flatted with only 3 laps to go. She went for all of the primes which showed her aggressiveness. I'm happy for them both. It was fun seeing old teammates and other riders. Everyone was sweet to me, and lots of women asked if I was Andrea and introduced themselves to me. That's interesting... I'm taking it as complimentary. Thanks for your encouragement.
Valley of the Sun RR Current mood: hopeful Well, I'm not in the Leader's jersey anymore. Evidently there were time bonuses at the finish which were not mentioned anywhere in the race bible. The only time bonus mentioned was a QOM which wasn't really a QOM since it was downhill, but regardless it would be nice if ALL time bonuses were mentioned in the race bible so that you could plan out a strategy. It's my fault that I lost the jersey because I lead my two toughtest rivals right to the line, and they came around me there scoring valuable time. If I would have one that one time bonus I would still be in the lead. I jumped too early into a headwind; I should have waited a few seconds longer, and I could have powered my way ahead in first place for that QOM. I misjudged my power, and that's all on me. I didn't find it difficult staying out in front all day, and I spent some time behind my teammate, Helene, for a bit when she would block the wind for me. But I'm sure it zapped my legs a little, and I didn't realize it until I had to use them! I felt it wiser to remain safe because there were lots of crashes (one girl had to be helicoptered out), and I haven't raced with people since last year at Redlands. I don't know how people are riding. The criterium is today, and I'll do whatever I can to get the jersey back. I'm hoping there are more "mystery" time bonuses that aren't mentioned anywhere in the race bible. Criteriums are tough in that many people can ride them, but they are dangerous in that many people's physical capabilities outdo their bike handling capabilities. This criterium is also clockwise which is unusual. I'll probably have to go anaerobic today which will be an unpleasant experience---LOL!! The teams and individuals close to me today will hit me hard as they know I'm exposed. But, if I were them, I would do the same thing. I'm just gonna have to fight all day and stay upright too. This will be my first real criterium since Redlands of last year. After the race I'm going for a run. It will be nice and relaxing. The only way I can go down is if I trip...
Valley of the Sun (bike race) Current mood: amused It's cooler here in Phoenix than I thought it was going to be. It's also very dry which burns the faaaahhhhr outta my lungs when I ride hard! Today was the time trial. It was cloudy and cool. It was fun getting on the ole time trial bike again. I've missed her. I think of my beautiful friend, John Cobb, every time I ride her. John Cobb is a master of design and aerodynamics, and he did a one-of-a-kind paint job to my Javelin bike. It's insane! John gives me a lot of strength because I trust him implicitly. He fitted me with SystemOne. More information on that can be found at www.bicyclesports.com. My TT bike has been hanging in my garage since last June. My mechanic, Carl Irwin of BikeOne in Norman, OK., put her together for me right before this race. I glued on tires a couple of days before the race and put on a cassette on to my disc wheel. Then I called my buddy Aaron and picked up his front wheel (which is a tri spoke) the night before I left for Phoenix. Nothing like waiting for the last minute on things! LOL! Live life by the seat of my britches I say! I didn't get on my time trial bike until the day before the race, and I rode it for an hour and a half making the necessary adjustments here and there. I've changed my seat position over the last year due to a nagging hamstring injury which is probably due to my nagging Achilles injury! ANYway, I rode around for about 20 minutes before the race and then hopped on the trainer for another 10 minutes. I felt pretty good except that my legs were a little tight in some areas due to being on my time trial bike. It has a different setup than my road bike. I chatted with some gals I know right before the start, climbed on to the ramp, chatted some more with the official who was counting down the seconds until I started. All of a sudden I heard, "3--2--1." Off I went! I passed some people and kept chasing my minute girl who's name is Gabby for short. She's a very strong rider, and I knew we'd be in our own little race. She saw me at the turn around and new that I was closing in on her. She put the hammer down. I put the hammer down. She gained ground. She lost ground. When it was all said an done I came out ahead and ended up winning the whole time trial. Yep, you heard me. I'm shocked. I know there are lots of people who are in better shape than I am right now. Of course I'm probably in better shape than some people as well. I just didn't expect to win. I didn't think I'd get last, but I didn't think... Well, gosh darn I'm happy about this!! I went for a run after the time trial and found out about my win later on. There are two more days to go with the road race tomorrow and the criterium on Sunday. I'm very relaxed about races these days as I stated in my previous blog. I'm just goin' with the flow and makin' waves... Cheers! Andrea
I go to this one mountain twice a week to do various types of intervals, and there are lots of people running, walking, and cycling on it. But this one woman caught my eye and stood out to me. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because she was beautiful. Maybe it was the way she ran. Maybe it was because no matter what time I go or what day I go on, she is usually there. About a week ago we finally acknowledged each other with a smile and a "hi." I was doing power intervals (where I ride around 50-60rpms), and she was running down. After she said, "Good morning" to me I lost my composure and nearly fell over when I turned around to look at her. She smelled like a bar of soap, and her smile was one of the warmest I'd ever seen. I think, for me, it was about what she represented. I've often watched her in amazement and admiration as she ran up and then down that mountain. I lived through her at those times attempting to feel what she must feel. The exhilaration of running free. I got to see her 3 times the other day because I was riding pretty well, and I saw her near the top the first time. I was actually saddened when I saw her near the bottom on the third time because I knew I wouldn't see her again. I smiled at her shyly, took in her fragrance, and got TOTALLY distracted. It was difficult to complete that interval! I wanted to speak to her, but I didn't want to ruin this special "thing" we had. She had often looked up at me in mutual admiration as I plugged away during my intervals or descended down with a whoosh around the turns. I hope to see her one last time before I leave, but if I don't it's okay because I'll always have that memory of her. She touched my soul.
Yes, well, I've been trying to post blogs on to MySpace for days now with no success. They must be having problems. For now, I have been posting things about love (I know, ick--just kidding) on there and leaving my personal blogs to this site. I don't get TOO personal, though. You know, how fun would that be if you REALLY knew me? Well, it might be fun, but this way more is left up to your imagination. I am somewhat of a mystery, no?
Okay, yeah, woteva!
I've decided to limit profanity because I have some underage subscriptions to my blogs, and I have an underage friend in my MySpace friend network. I guess it comes from having been a teacher; I just don't think it's appropriate to cuss around kids even though I know they probably cuss more than all of us. But anyway, Sinbad the comedian doesn't cuss, and he's still funny. Ellen doesn't cuss either, and SHE'S halarious, so it CAN be done.
Oh get this! Last week this 22-year old woman was in shallow water off an island in Brisbane (where I am), and she got attacked by a pack of bull sharks. They ripped her arms off, and she died. Lovely, huh? Yeah, so I guess I won't be getting in the water here either!!! On the same day a 7-year old girl further north died from a jellyfish sting. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.
An intersting topic has arisen here on the news. There are some sports stars who believe that they should not be looked up off the field. In other words, they want to be praised etc. for the work they do on the field, and they want to be cheered for and all of that, but when they leave their athletic arena they want to be looked at as normal folks. In other words, some athletes believe they are being held to a higher standard, and it puts too much pressure on them. They do not believe they should be viewed as role models off the field.
What do you think?
Many of the athletes are saying that it is time for parents to give kids other things or people to look up to. Maybe not even people as people will eventually fall off of any pedestal you put them on. That's the point that was being made, I guess. I think there are athletes who accept the responsibility and are happy to do so. Then I think there are some athletes who simply don't want it because they want to be able to live their lives without scrutiny. They want to be able to do what they want and not be held any more liable than the next guy/gal.
I think they were trying to get people to realize that it is the talent that should perhaps be looked up to or rather respected. It is the hard work people should admire. It is the determination, the desire, and all of that stuff.
But I think it is human nature to want to hold on to someone just like it is human nature to love someone. It is easier to relate to a person instead of something abstract that they possess i.e. talent. People admire Lance Armstrong, the person, and not what he has done to become the cyclist he has become. Most people could hardly fathom what athletes do to get where they are, so it is easier to attach themselves to the people. That is what they see---the person. That is what they connect with.
Well, so I see both sides. I accept my role, though, and am happy to do it. So what if I don't get to be as free, per se, as I would if I wasn't in any sort of limelight. I think it's a small price to pay for my being able to be there for folks and to connect with them on some level.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Wow, I'm getting all of these messages called "tmails" on here. I didn't know tblog had all of these options! I have friends I didn't know I had. Some of you like to be mysterious like that. It's cool. I understand. I am flattered that you want to be associated with me. I don't take that stuff lightly. I really am humbled by all of you. It's getting very time consuming keeping up with everyone/everything. I need a secretary to manage my sites! I enjoy the personal interaction, though, and I think it's important that if someone wants to reach out to me that it is ME who reaches back, so I make the time.
Okay, so how were your holidays?
Mine were interesting. Steph and I went to Adelaide to visit with her parents. Steph has this 1988 2.4 liter diesel Toyota Forerunner. Now let me tell you something about me. I have motion sickness or vertigo or whatever you want to call it. Something is jacked up in my inner ear, and it only gets worse with age. Motion is NOT my friend. Anywho, so the drive to Adelaide from Brisbane is LONG and BUMPY and HOT. We went through the outback; it took three days mostly on a two lane road. The temperatures were SEARING, and it was so arid that when she pulled the truck over so that I could pee I didn't even NEED any toilet paper 'cause the wind blew me dry THAT fast!! Oh, and the flies. There were flies everywhere. It was like they were just WAITING for you. It was INSANE!!
I'm sure I'm getting ahead of myself here because I just have all of these thoughts circulating through my head. I'll try to stay on track.
Okay, so her truck was vibrating and bumping me all over the place which gave me a splitting headache. Not only that, but the air conditioner SUCKED. I checked my watch, and it was 101 degrees inside the truck. When I inhaled the air burned my nose. I don't need to trim my nose hairs now! (just kidding---i don't really do that) It was 108 outside. It was like driving through Death Valley for 24 hours.
At one point we were going---and I kid you not---25mph because the truck was getting too hot. Okay, CAN YOU IMAGINE?!! I thought we would NEVER get there, but let me tell you--that trip taught me a severe lesson in patience. I'm already pretty patient as I'm not an aggressive driver; however, when I'm travelling somewhere I like to get there. You know what I mean? The poor Toyota 4Runner could hardly get up the hills. I would pass cars and semi tractor trailers on the flats, but then I would get passed back on the hills, and you KNOW how I HATE that.
Oh, and her truck does not have a radio, so Steph and I would each take one of her ear plugs and listen to her 2"x1" portable radio. When that didn't work, we listened to my CD player.
We stayed in Forbes the first night and rode up and down the highway because that's basically all there was. We did a nice little time trial effort.
We stayed the second night in a town called Mildura which had a lovely river and lots of fruit. It reminded me a lot of Calfornia around the Visalia area. We hate heaps of cherries!
Well, we got to Adelaide which is a beautiful place. It's way down south and on the coast. I didn't get in the water, though, because there are massive sharks down there. I'm talking Great Whites. That's where most of their shark attacks are, in Southern Australia. There were some long climbs that we did on our rides. That was refreshing. It was also much cooler there!
We stayed in Adelaide for a few days before we headed out to Melbourne to visit with Steph's sister. Melbourne is a very classy city. We rode for 5 hours along a road near the beach, and we climbed in these little hills. This one guy told us on any given Saturday or Sunday there were around 3,000 cyclists on the road. I mean there were massive amounts which was so fun! He said there are more cyclists there than anywhere. One day we rode into the rain forest which was spectacular. You know, how do you describe something like that? The trees bend over the road, so you feel like you're being hugged by them. It's cool on your skin and kind of dark and mysterious.
After a few days in Melbourne we left for home. We made it to just outside of Goulburn when the truck stopped running. Funny thing is that just earlier these motorists kept waving at me about the truck. Maybe it was spewing stuff... Yeah, I'm driving up the highway, and it just stopped, so I pulled over, and we popped the hood, and the engine was HOT. It was steaming and hissing. We weren't there but a few minutes when this guy stopped. Lo and behold he turns out to be a diesel mechanic and offers us a tow to his shop. We accept. As we're standing there talking I'm complaining to him about the damn flies as one lands on his bottom lip while he replies, "You just gotta ignore them, mate." I just started cracking up. I said, "I don't want anything that hangs out on cow patties to hang out on me!"
So, he gave us tow and then dropped us off at a hotel. We weren't going to find out anything about the truck for awhile because it was the holidays. I think it was Dec. 31st. People here take their holidays seriously. They don't just take one or two days off. They take weeks off! Most people are off from just before Christmas to around Jan. 4th.
He got back to us on Jan. 2nd because he knew our situation. He took stuff out of the engine and said, basically, that we were screwed. We cracked cylinders and blew head gaskets and what not. LMAO. Oh shit, I was like, "Huuuuuuuuuuuuuh?" Steph just stood there with a blank look on her face. Steph really never gets rowled up over anything, and my mind was ticking over trying to figure out what we were gonna do next. I knew I needed to be very supportive at this stage because the truck was a loss, and Steph still had to pay on it for the next 3 years or whatever. It was going to cost too much to fix a truck that old. Plus, Steph had loaded up some boxes and this huge cactus suit from her parent's house to take back home. This cactus suit was some marketing tool she used when she owned her Pedro's Pizza Bar. It was made out of wire, mesh, bamboo and paper mache and it stood 6'. It also had two cactus arms, and Steph is very affectionate about this thing...
Steph and I went back to our motel and began brainstorming. I told her to find a salvage yard and see what they'd give her for the truck. We had to get rid of the truck somehow and not just leave it. I felt like that was our best option. Next we had to figure out a way to get back to Brisbane. We could take a bus or a train. I told Steph there was NO way we would be able to carry everything AND the cactus. She said, with tears welling up in her eyes, that she would just have to leave stuff behind and try to sell what she could at second hand shops.
We tossed around our ideas for a couple of days and came up with a solution. Since it was only 2 hours to Sydney I suggested that she take a bus or train there, rent a car, drive back to get me and the stuff, and then drive to Brisbane. So, that's what we did.
Unfortunately, we could NOT take the cactus, so there it sits in Goulburn under the watchful eye of Andrew, our beloved mechanic. Steph vowed to drive through there one day to get it. If all else fails, Andrew has a sister-in-law who lives in Brisbane, and MAYBE he could bring the cactus...
I suggested we tie the cactus to the roof of the car just because I thought it would be halarious. I know it wouldn't have made it, but what a riot that would have been. We had a very small car that barely fit all of our shit into it. Can you imagine a 6' bright green cactus tied to the top? Lots of laughs there.
Steph and I spent our last day in Goulburn at one of the local pubs. We had just sold her truck for $800 cash---not bad. These three drunk dudes befriended us in the pub. They were cute in that they were shy to speak to us but eventually worked up the courage to do so. We had a ball hanging out with them, and the French chef whipped up an awesome steak and fries dinner.
I enjoyed Goulburn. It had climbs that I enjoyed riding, and it had nice shops and eateries, and since our motel was only a mile from town it was convenient since our only mode of transportation was our feet (I HATE walking) or our bikes (MUCH better).
The drive to Brisbane was uneventful. We drove through Sydney which was neat. I wish we could have spent some time there. I did see a 3 live kangaroos, several emus, lots of sheep, and a huge dragon thing feasting on a dead kangaroo laying on the side of the road. I saw the usual cows and horses too.
What a trip. So, yeah, that's how my holidays went. I'm now back in Brisbane sweating my ass off in the hot and humid weather, and I'm happy with that!

Cheers!
Yup yup---still doin' the runnin' thing. Hey, it ain't without pain. I ain't even gonna try to lie 'bout that, but at least I'm doin' it. Yesterday, I took a leap forward. At least that's the way I choose to view it. I only took one day off in between yesterday and the last time I ran instead of the usual two days. My Achilles was sore, of course, but I felt like it was good enough that I could get a run in which I did. I did alright---26 minutes. After my runs, I do some calf raises. I hang on to a door to help myself go on my tippie toes one leg at a time, and then I let myself down slowly. It's an eccentric sort of contraction because what I'm doing is overloading my calf muscles by helping them up and forcing them to lower my body down. It would be like if someone was helping you do curls or the benchpress by helping you curl or push the weight and then allowing you to bring it back down on your own. That's called an eccentric contraction. Okay, well anyway, so I do 15 of those each leg, and it effin' hurts, and my Achilles is really swollen afterwards, but I figure it's all jacked up anyway from my run, so why not do more to it. I'd hate to run one day and do the calf raises the next day because then I'd be hurting really bad all the time. This way I'm hoping my body is healing overnight and throughout the next day.
It hurts to run in my shoes, so I'm still running barefoot on the grass. I dunno how I'm gonna do the shoe thing later on...

I was reading in the paper this morning about these Great White shark incidences down in southern Australia. They want to put metal mesh out in the water at the area's most popular beaches. Last year an 18-year-old man was ripped from his surfboard and chomped to death, and then there have been some recent incidences. One was quite interesting. This 64-year-old fisherman was fishing and doing something with a crab trap below his aluminum boat when a Great White became airborn next to his boat so close that the fisherman could have touched him! Yeah, those sharks are leaping out of the water these days. I remember seeing a documentary on that, but it was off Cape Horn or somewhere in South Africa; they were leaping up and eating Sea Lions.
Anyway, I'm going down to Adelaide where all this stuff with the sharks is happening. I'll be there and in Melbourne over the next 2 weeks. Lovely. My ass ain't goin' anywhere NEAR that ocean!! Well, maybe I'll go up to my knees. Okay, maybe my ankles...

Happy Holiday,
Andrea
Yes, I think I'm finally getting used to the heat a bit; although, I had a rough time the other day when I rode a little bit later than usual. It hit almost 100 degrees that day. I met up with a triathlete here who is really good, so I hope to train with her sometimes. Her name is Sarah Fien, and she is training for Ironman New Zealand. Ah, Ironman New Zealand...
Stephanie tries to explain the game of cricket to me nearly every time I catch glimpses of it on TV. Steph used to be on the junior national team for cricket, and she loves the game. I used to find it to be boring, but now that I know a bit about it I can get into it a little bit. The game we have in the states that most resembles cricket is baseball.
I'm still running every few days with great pain, but at least I can do it. I'm just gonna keep on doin' it...
It's weird being here during the Christmas holidays because it's so hot. I've never experienced Christmas like this! It's funny because people back home aske me things like, "Do they celebrate Christmas there?" "Do they put up lights?" LOL. They do all of those things. Shopping is huge, and celebrating is huge.
Hemal, I know it's hot in India. Is there a time when the weather is pleasant i.e. a bit cooler? What major airport do you live closest to? I really want to visit sometime.

cheers from down under,
andrea

Soooooooooooooooooo cool. Today I was doing intervals up this climb, and two HUGE white cockatoos or cockatiels (i dunno the difference) were sitting off the side of the road havin' a chat. It was AMAZING to see that---those birds out in the wild so close to me. I see beautiful parrots flying around as well, the kind you usually only see in a petstore. Did I write this already in an earlier blog? I'm so happy seeing these beautiful creatures around me. I am so lucky or blessed or both.
This guy was trying to have a chat with me while I was doing an interval. I stopped my watch because I couldn't go hard and stay back with him, and I didn't want to be rude. I spoke with him a little while because he seemed so excited to engage in a conversation with me. Then I told him I had to go. I waved at him during my descent down while he was still climbing up. He was kind of a heavy fella, but he was still out there doin' it.
I walked around the mall today because it has good air conditioning. I broke down and bought some kettle chips and some cookies AND ingredients to make some shortbreak cookies which I shall do shortly. I just needed some chips and cookies, OKAY!!? LOL!
Ah, the mountains. I rode 5:37 in them today. I zipped down this real twisty narrow road defying the speed limit. It felt good, but it was bumpy and dangerous. I climbed for about an hour or so and went off the beaten path just to conquer a 20% grade hill. After Tuesday's ride it was just something I needed to.
My ass is a bit chafed from all that time in my riding shorts. I hate that. I stood up for last half hour or so home and pulled my shorts down so far that the top of them was just barely above my pubes! I had a serious saggy ass going on, but I couldn't even stand for the chamois to be on the red line created by the seam in the shorts where the chamois is sewed in. Ouch! It feels, I guess, like diaper rash. It feels like you've been stung by a jelly fish when the shower hits it. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarg!
A storm just moved in. It's raining! It's cool!
Oh, and STEPHANIE BOUGHT A PORTABLE AIR CONDITIONER!!! Isn't THAT exciting!!?? Well, it is for me. I can tell you THAT! Aaaaaaaaaaaaah...
No great stories to tell. Just parrots flying around, brilliant colors and sounds, and lovely people.
I had a bad ride today. I was climbing this 15% grade mountain, and I just didn't feel well. I knew that I wouldn't when I got up this morning. I didn't sleep well, and awoke with a sore throat, but I was so eager to get into the mountains that I went anyway. I ended up riding to a wine tasting place to get water, and the woman was SO friendly like everyone is around here. We chatted awhile and drank some antioxidant ginger potion. It was good! When I left there I felt heaps better. I'm hoping I'm not getting sick, though. Maybe it's still jet lag and the heat-----ohhhhhhhhh, the heat...
I went shopping tonight. The mall is right around the corner from me about a 5 min. walk on the bike path. In the mall there are grocery stores. I went to good ole K-Mart, and like a typical American, I headed STRAIGHT for the candy/chips aisle even though I went in there for vitamins which they don't carry, at least not here in Australia. Interesting candies. I saw candy bars labeled Whip, Wurly-Curly, Boost, and Twirl. Now, if that don't make ya wanna jump up and down for some candy then I don't know what will!
I nearly ran into an old handicapped man because I was on the wrong side of the sidewalk---again. It's so hard because I constantly have to think, "Left side, left side." I even say it out loud sometimes. But then when I need to cross the street, I have to think, "Look right first, THEN left." I say that out loud too ESPECIALLY when I'm on my bike crossing intersections. Every day I mess up and live to see another day. I hope that continues! I'm hoping I'll get used to this lefty thing pretty quick. My life depends on it!
I wish people in Norman Wal-Marts were as friendly and as considerate as the people here are in stores. I'm not bashing the good ole U S of A. I love my country, but there's a lot of things I notice in my travels, and I compare other countries to ours. It's just horrible how we treat each other in the states sometimes ESPECIALLY around the holidays. I saw news footage of people trampling each other in order to get in on early bird specials the day after Thanksgiving. Is saving a few hundred bucks on a computer REALLY worth doing that to someone? Is getting the first doll in your kid's hand really worth it? It's just plain embarassing and senseless8co6 if you ask me.
It is hotter n' (you fill in the blank) here in Brisbane, Australia!! Yesterday I rode 3.5 hours at 5:30am. I got up at 4:30am. It gets light at 5am. Amazing. Today I rode 3 hours and then went to watch a criterium in South Bank which featured many of the world's top sprinters. It was exciting to see the Tour de France riders in action up close. There were Bradly McGee, Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels, Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson, Allan Davis, and Graeme Brown, Scott Davis, and Nick Sanderson to name a few. This won't mean much to a lot of you who read this, but it will mean a BUNCH to a few of you who read this. A local guy from the Australian Institute of Sport won after getting in a break with some other dudes--the biggest name being Henk Vogels, but Vogels did so much work driving the break to keep it close to every single rider who tried to get off the front. The break was like 10 men strong. In fact, they lapped the main field which contained the rest of the big names. Understand, though, that these pros have their season mapped out so carefully and precisely; I'm sure this race was just a training race for them. Plus, it was around 96 degrees! The criterium was an hour long plus 3 laps, and it was just an oval with a roundabout that the riders had to skirt, so it wasn't technical like the criteriums in America, but it was fast.
My ass is suffering some serious heat exhaustion not to mention jet lag. My friend here doesn't have air conditioning. Well, that sounds like I'm spoiled, and maybe I am, but when it comes to recovery you can't be sweating all the time like I am over here. I can't keep my electrolytes balanced, and I can't keep hydrated. Maybe it will get better once I get acclimated. If not, I'm outta here, or we're renting an air conditioning unit.
I caught up with some riders this morning---some 46-year old dude and his brother. They were strong. I feel out of shape compared to these people here. Then again, it's their summer, and they are acclimated and all of that. I feel sluggish. Plus, I'm messing with the position on my bike to alleviate some hamstring soreness that I experienced last year. I hope to start feeling better soon. I'm just antsy I guess and homesick.

p.s. this is only the BEGINNING of their summer here...
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