Friday, July 29, 2011


My parents are my neighbors so last night, after my son had gone to bed, I called my mom.
It had been a long day.
"Do you have any treats?"
"Um, no...I've been good."
"Ugh. Not even like tasty cakes or a devil dog or some cookies? I'm desperate." My mom always has treats. Wts?
"I have Pop Tarts."
"Ew, no. That's not a treat."
"I have a Charleston Chew in the fridge, you're welcome to it." don't hate...Charleston Chews are awesome and one of my all-time favorite candies. They are not easy to come by, thank goodness.
"I'll be right over."

Walking home, candy bar in hand, I felt like a kid
(except I was walking back to my own house).
My mom saved my day.
(and Bill's, too...cause, man, was I testy)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

crazy-ass dreams

last summer (before I cut my hair...when I could put it up in a ponytail...sigh)
I keep having dreams that my hair is in a ponytail.
I think I've gone through the awkward part of growing it out this time (in a heat wave, no less), but the summer is not over yet.
Snip snap chop may get lopped off after all.

Last night, I'd wake up from a nightmare (no, I don't mean the ponytail dreams) only to keep having more...I'd catch my breath, calm down, sleepily shake the fright from my head, and fall back asleep...then, another nightmare.
Again and again and again.  
Vivid and terrifying dreams...and they were all here at home and in the street in front of our house.

I had an awesome morning at the museum with my dad, my son, and my nephew.
I miss the adventures and field trips my dad and I would create for Max when I was a stay-at-home mom.

Yay, it just started raining!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

so soon?

It seems like yesterday Bill & I were sitting on the back porch enjoying a pizza and a shared bottle of Saison after the long drive home from Stewart.
I look forward to this race, the Darkhorse 40, all year long.
I love the trails and I love the event.
I love catching up with our gracious host and being welcomed into her beautiful home.
I love escaping for a few days and returning feeling as though I've been on vacation.

Can't wait!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Is Nearly Over

I couldn't sleep last night.
I made lists in my head.
Things I want to do when I am off next week.
I tried to think of something thoughtful to bring to Cynthia when we stay at her house this weekend.
I watched Bill and thought about how lucky I am.
I worried about stuff and schemed my way out of some worries.
I wondered why the frig my kid has to be allergic to peanuts.
I thought about Norway.
I thought about that poor boy in NYC who was taken on is way home from
I thought about summer flying by and the small handful of races I've done.
I dwelled on my DNF at Marsh Creek...I thought about migraines and wondered if maybe I should switch pills or something...I thought about hormones and being on the same pill since I was eighteen (with a brief interim to have a baby)...

yesterday at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, I went to the ER for a migraine cocktail because nothing was helping and I couldn't take it anymore.
The triage nurse took my temp & my vitals & asked me basic medical history questions...
I had a low-grade fever.
She sent me to the waiting room with my latex allergy bracelet and my drug allergy bracelet and my ID bracelet.
I dutifully peed in a cup & the registrar said, "Just put it there." She gestured toward the counter next to her.
"Here? With your pepsi?"
"I'm done that anyway."

I waited for an hour, couldn't get comfortable...the waiting room was loud and bright and crowded.
There was a man with orange sunglasses and super-short cut-off jeans.
He was leering at me and holding a black garbage bag. He kept going outside to smoke.
It was getting louder and brighter and louder and brighter...
I don't remember driving myself home, but I made it back safely.
The headache went away after dinner.

I think I'll ride my bike to work tomorrow.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Three DNFs

You know, I struggled with this post. There are no less than 5 drafts entitled "DNF" or "Marsh Creek Fail" or some variation of's silly how much I struggled with this.
Then I started wondering what the big deal is.
Who I am writing this to?
Or for?
I write the blog for myself, first, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't care about it. I'm not sure who the "audience" is outside of the handful of people I know personally (or the "blog-friends" I've made over the years like Rachael and Neil). If you're a reader, by all means introduce yourself. I'd love to know how you got here or why you return.
(can you tell this post is already making me uncomfortable?)
I didn't finish my race last night and I had such mixed feelings about explaining why or what happened.
Here is my best attempt (and a brief history of the races I failed to finish).  

Where: Sewell
When: 2008 (my inaugural season as an Expert)
Why: broken hand
I crashed hard and I don't remember how it happened. I remember going down scary-hard and scary-fast. I remember lightning bolts of pain in my head and my left hand. I also remember the panic I felt as Lauri and Loretta caught up and assessed me...I spazzed. "Just go. I'll catch up, I'm fine!"
I remember hopping on my bike, quickly aware that I could not move my left hand at all, let alone squeeze the brake lever. Big deal, I won't use the front brake.
I remember shock setting in and quick and sudden chills. I don't remember getting out of the woods, but I vaguely remember handing my bike over to Blake and Karen as I was ushered into the ambulance. "Somebody tell my dad. AFTER his race."
I do remember the lights flickering in the hospital as a nasty thunderstorm brewed outside. I remember the woman in the bed across from me writhing in pain and yelling for drugs. She was trying to kick a recreational Oxycontin habit. "Do you have anything? If they give you something strong, I want it," she said to me. That hospital was scary. I was bummed about my first DNF. I wanted to get out of my sweaty kit. I wanted to get back on my bike and I didn't want my hand to be broken.

Where: Charm City Cross Day Two
When: 2010
Why: stomach bug
In a most unremarkable move, I pulled off course and promptly found a ditch where I could puke my guts out in peace. My first race as a CAT2/Elite found me in the back of the pack, barely hanging on to Lisa's wheel. I didn't have time to think or calm myself or make sense of anything. I just knew I was going to be very very sick in a hurry and made myself scarce lest anyone witness my puketastic display.
I rode back to the car and cried like a baby for quitting my first race of the season, for my first DNF in a cross race, for sucking and not having the chance to settle in and catch back on, for making my dad wait around for hours for my race when I knew full well that I wasn't feeling right and probably shouldn't have even lined up in the first place...
then, got over myself when I realized I had a long and meaningful season ahead of me
(ha...if I had only known...)

Where: Marsh Creek Midnight In Milford Mills
When: last night
Why: because I am not as stubborn as I used to be, I guess...
I am not going to dwell on the fact that I bailed on a race that was going very well for me.
I felt strong and confident and eager to ride, eager to be competitive.
I was perfectly happy with how I was riding, with how my race was playing out.
I had a really great, really joyful moment out there as I careened downhill towards the ruins, a crazy-loud gaggle of kids screaming and cheering...I was loving this race and I was having fun.
I was also keenly aware of what was going on in my head, literally.

Friday night, I was violently sick after dinner.
I woke up Saturday with the familiar warning signs of an impending migraine (a fuzzy/tingly feeling in my jaw that creeps up the side of my face, almost like a's always the first sign for me).
I was reluctant to take anything, knowing I'd be racing later that night.
Saturday afternoon was spent drinking lots of fluids, relaxing, and trying to keep race nerves in check.

I didn't say anything to Bill because I didn't want to write off my race before it even happened. I also didn't want him to worry, as he was racing, too.
As we staged in the field, Amy said, "You're awfully quiet."
I was quiet.
I was fighting a headache that I was pretty sure wasn't an ordinary headache.
I didn't want to be the girl at the start line complaining about ailments or making excuses.
I just wanted to turn my lights on and ride fast.

I had an awesome lap and called it a night after sixty very self-satisfying minutes on the trail.
For once, I actually heeded the voice of reason in my head and trusted my insticts. 
It ended up being the right decision because by three in the morning, I was in the throes of a full-blown migraine.
If I had gone out for another lap, I surely would have been leveled today.

Three years ago, I'm certain I would have gone on. I would have finished the race no matter what.
I'm okay with that.
Things are different (and better) now.

Three DNFs.

Here's hoping that's it for a while.

Friday, July 22, 2011

testy racer

How does Testy Racer deal?
By baking cookies and cleaning the house, of course.
Testy racer cleans the house like it's her job.
Testy Racer may snap any out if the Heed canister only has one scoop of powder left.
Watch out if all the gloves in the pile of clean laundry are left-handed.
Just watch out, okay?
Testy racer is serious.
Testy racer may be a little cavalier about the home course.
The home course shouldn't be taken lightly,'s dry and dusty and more technical than you think.
Home course is riddled with angry bees and snakes, Testy Racer.
Testy Racer better watch out.

You should hear some of the other monikers we go by around here.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday Night (Pre) Ride

My kid is at the beach all week with his dad, which means I am a mess and need lots of distractions until Friday.
Which means I've been volunteering myself for the challenging cases at work.
Which means I've been cooking nice dinners and enjoying Gin & Tonics during our brand new happy hour at home on the back porch.
Which means I've been on my bike a bit more.
Which means I've been able to participate in the Wednesday Night Ride (which happened to be a pre-ride of the Marsh Creek course for the race this upcoming Saturday...Saturday night, actually)....

I don't like Marsh Creek.
I don't like riding there, even though the trails are good.
I've never liked riding there.
I liked the race that used to happen there in the fall and that's the only exception.

I rode there last night in the dark to get reacquainted with my lights.
I pissed off some yellow jackets and got stung in the armpit, ass, and head.

I rode there again tonight.
Kathleen graciously led a group of women around the course.
I suck at group rides because I get hung up worrying about holding people up, bungling on silly obstacles, looking/riding like a fool...
Isn't that ridiculous?
I didn't get stung, but I swatted a bee off my left arm.

We had a fun ride.
We had a fun ride at Marsh Creek.
Wow. I said it.

Even though it was eight thousand degrees and humid as f*ck, even though I was nervous about riding with other people, it was fun.

I miss my kid like crazy.
I'm glad I have such awesome friends and such an amazing boyfriend.
I may be a tiny bit buzzed from re-hydrating with two beers after trying to hang with Kathleen for nine miles.
Just saying.  

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Arsenal Crit at the Navy Yard

I watched my dad race today.
He got dropped.
He got lapped.
He's getting ready for cross...cutting back on stuff like cheese and sugar, doing freaking intervals, talking about cross this cross that cross cross cross.
Anyway...his number one, two, three, and four fans were there with cowbells and enthusiasm.
Who cares if he got dropped? He didn't finish last (even if he did, whatever...I seemingly wrote the book on that). He rode a solid ride.
Good for him.

I sure have a lot of pics of BP on the start line in my archives...

double cow bells

me & my mom

We had an excellent weekend and these are the pictures to prove it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

what do you want to be when you grow up?

So, I ask my son,
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Um...tell me some choices."
"A teacher. You still have summer vacation!"
"Rock Star?"
"Nah...I saw a Justin Bieber folder for school at Kmart and dad wouldn't let me get it."
"I said Rock Star, not Pop Star."
"Skateboard shop owner."
"No. And not a professional skateboarder, either."
"Orthodontist? Veterinarian? Author? Artist? Archaeologist?"
"No...I guess I'll be a wizard."

Monday, July 11, 2011

rest in peace

A typical Monday following vacation...
You return to the real world, leave behind the extraordinary week you've just had with your family.
back to work, back to the grind...
Everyone is chatting about the yard work they did over the weekend, the nice weather we've been having, kid stuff, family stuff, work stuff, stuff...
You come home from work and satisfy the craving you've been having all day for pizza and beer (even though you vowed to "get back on track" since vacation is over).
Your boyfriend spills his pint of Saison Dupont on the back porch, so you share your pint with him (of course...that's true love).
You tidy up the house a little, but ignore the one remaining half-unpacked suitcase on the stairs and hope nobody trips on it because it'll probably still be there for a while.
You run a bath for your kid because he is old enough to bathe himself, but still too young to get the temperature right.
You fall asleep for a minute in your kid's bed while he is playing in the tub (no, he won't drown...he's six and this is okay now. relax)...maybe it was the half pint of Saison, maybe it was the mountain bike race yesterday, maybe it was a busy Monday after a week of complete relaxation...
You wake up and ignore the ringing phone downstairs.
You call your parents back, what do they want now? You just spoke to them a little while ago.
"Tommy is dead."
Your 25 year-old cousin is dead and you can't quite believe it and don't even know what to say.
Matter of factly, you tell your son and your boyfriend.
You take a bath, but the water is cold because all the hot water was used up 30 minutes ago when your kid took a bath.
You stay in the awful lukewarm water and feel kind of numb, but a little sadness creeps in.
You think about the pool parties and jumping off the roof into the swimming pool at Tommy's.
You think about giving him the Greenday cd that you listened to over and over in your mom's car to and from his house in New Jersey...1994.
You think about weekends he spent at your house doing regular kid stuff like going to Dairy Queen and the mall and mini golf and the movies.
You think about how awful it must have been to lose his dad at such a young age.
You try to remember how you fell out of touch, but most cousins unfortunately do...only a handful stick when your family is so huge and so far flung.
You think about his mom.
You think about your own son.
You think about your cousin and can't believe he's just gone.
You think about the exchanges you had with him on facebook just a few weeks ago...
"Just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you. If there is anything I can do, please let me know."

You get out of the tub and find a hoodie...the house is freezing because it's ninety-three degrees outside.
You hate the AC, but are grateful for it when it comes to getting a good night's sleep.
You read a short book to your son and then begin to cry a tiny bit on the edge of his bed.
He gives you the most sincere hug and says, "I'm sorry about your cousin, mom."
And it helps.

"Just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you. If there is anything I can do, please let me know."           

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Fair Hill Classic...Um, This is a race report

Fair Hill was hard.
Really hard and really climb-y and really hard.

I expected the start to be demoralizing.
I did not expect to ride six long miles before reigning in the first of only two women.
Okay...let's break it down:
27.2(ish) miles on my Raleigh (the only 29er in my stable, which also happens to be a single speed).
For less than a minute, I stayed with the field and one by one they began to drift away...Gears or no gears, that prologue was ridiculously long.
Briefly, I reminded myself to hang in's a long race, anything can happen, just ride.
Briefly, I enjoyed settling in and finding that elusive groove.
Somewhere shortly thereafter, I became unglued...way too early.
Does anyone agree that this had to have been the climbiest (yes, I just made up a word...I'm destroyed, it works) Fair Hill course yet?
Holy hell...I felt like I was going up all the good stuff I am used to going down.
Crackhead Bob, a veritable maze, was a blast...I love the way my bike handles all the twisty, tight's where I caught the second woman in my group.
After that, much of the race was a blur.
Sometimes, I felt strong and confident.
Sometimes, I pushed myself really hard and sometimes I glazed over and barely moved the pedals.
At the split for Sport, I was so so so so so tempted to bail.
With my stomach jacked up, my back aching, and spirits low, I just wanted to call it a day.
Obviously, I didn't bail.
I pushed on.
And on.
And on.
With nearly two miles to go to the finish, I lurched up the last climb and hopped off my bike when I couldn't bear to turn the pedals over one more time.

The finish was underwhelming...I'm glad I didn't quit. I'm satisfied that I finished a pretty punishing race on a single speed in the heat without any major mishaps.

I'm wondering if maybe I am just done with racing my mountain bike.
I've learned (and have said this before) that I am a much better rider than I am racer.
I'm not even sure why I race or want to race anymore.
It used to be fun...winning, losing, hanging onto last place for dear life, fighting for the top three, winding through the course in no man's land, pushing hard to stay in the mix, battling wheel-to-wheel with a strong & steady competitor...exchanging words of encouragement, commiserating about defeat.
It used to be fun.
I like the way I ride and want to be faster, but how much faster? Really?

In a few weeks, we'll be heading to New York again to try our hand at the Darkhorse 40 (as a duo, just like last summer).
Part of me still craves that excitement of battling it out on the trails.
Today wasn't too bad...
And racing is supposed to be hard.



Saturday, July 9, 2011

race number two

So much for putting a whole season together.
Since my stellar showing at French Creek, I skipped a few other races in favor of less competitive adventures/misadventures (such as camping/exploring/playing/enjoying a certain 6 year-old who is growing up waaaay too fast before my very eyes).
No regrets.
As far as I can tell, Neshaminy & Iron Hill aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
Tomorrow is Fair Hill and I am excited and nervous and all those other familiar emotions one feels on the eve of a race, whether they admit or not.
Whether it matters or not.
Because, if it doesn't really matter, then why bother?
I am interested to see how this one unfolds after being off the bike (and on vacation) since last Sunday.
I am not so interested to see how tight my kit is after four days of dessert (after lunch aaaaand after dinner).
Like I said, I was on vacation in every sense of the word.
I am interested to see how my fitness is (or isn't) on the bike I've been enjoying most, but haven't yet raced.
I was warned not to get discouraged when the entire field literally walks away from me on the prologue.
No worries.
I'm going to show up and do what I do...and hopefully do it well without any major mishaps and perhaps even a tiny bit of grace (albeit the sweaty/gross/gasping for air variety).

Yay, racing!  

Vacation Part Two: Mohonk

We have arrived...

taking it all in

first canoe ride (his idea)...Vacation=bravery

happiest with my boys

tea time

crushing the Labyrinth Trail

the elusive crevice (aka the Lemon Squeeze) turning back now!


sick boulders

Sky Top

this is your view from the top (this and six states on a clear day)

the gardens

I am a mom, thus freaking out about all the exposure

sinking into the pines

Never fails to make me feel small and humble

Vacation Part One: NYC

Central Park shenanigans
happy hour, indeed 

The Surrey...making ourselves at home

Cafe Boloud...amazing food, tense atmosphere

the fabled Carlyle


Friday, July 8, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

"pick some berries and don't forget your bucket..."

we filled our pockets with this bounty of wild treats...first of the season 

After dinner, my son grabbed me by the hand and led me to the berries.
Wild raspberries all over the place, at last.
As the sky turned pink, we walked the perimeter of the park and filled our pockets with berries.

Four rides the past four days: Marsh Creek, Blue Marsh, Downingtown, and a pretty swell little road loop that took us past my childhood home.
I remarked to my dad as we cruised past our old abode, "Damn, I wasn't nearly as sneaky as I thought I was being!"
25+ years ago, everything seemed so hidden and far apart and tucked away and out of reach, out of the grasp of our parents and grownups (the old metal gazebo, the pool, the playground, the woods, the big field near the "mansion"...all our secret spots)...
In reality, all our secret spots are within earshot of those funny little old townhouses, everything so closely strung together...
We had no idea (though, I'm sure my parents did).
I was not a bad kid by any means, but it sure seemed like we kids ruled that little world back then.

The berries are sweet.
Does it seem like they are EVERYWHERE this summer?

Hardtales will return at the end of the week, hopefully with pics of somewhere near & dear to me!   

Saturday, July 2, 2011

babies in our yard

"What's your favorite animal?"
"Oh, you know, I like friends of the forest..."
"Friends of the forest. Um, critters. Owls, bunnies, deer, know."

And how come these adorable little baby bunnies make me want a little baby all of my own again and human babies definitely don't have that effect on me?
What the frig?
It's weird and twisted and I totally get that.
I'm weird, I know.
And, my goodness, babies here, I swear.

Oh, and I also rode my bike today. Apparently, I've been riding a lot lately.
June was packed with riding and running and eating healthy (yet, I just can't seem to shed any of this freaking's driving me ca-razy...I hate the way it feels and I am frustrated that it is going nowhere...sigh).
So, the ride today:
Blue Marsh (minus the "bonus" section, aka Roadkill Hill, etc).
Just shy of 23 miles.
Me, dad, Bill.
Hot day, nice breeze.
Guys, I didn't have any fun (sad pouty face).
Maybe it's the antibiotics, but I just felt so blah.
My legs started to come around at about, oh, mile 20.
It sucked.
No flow whatsoever for me.
Absolute trepidation on every little descent.
I was, however, complimented on my climbing prowess today...phew, cause I felt like such a slothy slouch.
At least the 23 miles ticked by quickly in spite of feeling so crappy on my bike.
It doesn't make do you ride great trails with your favorite people on a sunny July day graced with awesome conditions and good weather and not have any fun?
Ew, just smack me.

After riding the single speed almost exclusively for the past month, I've noticed my riding style has changed (evolved?) a bit.
Pretty sweet after hacking away at this mountain bike thing for the past seven-ish years.
Having said that, I am glad I had gears today.

As always, thanks for reading.

what did you do last night?

We ate pizza (and the dough was a-mazing...another batch that surely would have been Erma-approved).
We blew up Fruity Pebble treats with Target fireworks.
When those fireworks ran out, we stole borrowed more from the neighbors Pernas.
We I got drunk from one beer.
We laughed really hard (as always) and referred to our friend's nerdsmart phones about a giant beetle scurrying across the porch.
We made the beetle wrestle a GI Joe action figure. The beetle won.
By eleven o'clock, the pizza was long gone, only three fruity pebble treats remained, and about a dozen firework carcasses littered our back yard.
A fine Friday night, indeed.

I think it's safe to say our holiday weekend started off with a bang, and I am pretty excited about what's to come...
Have a happy 4th, friends!