Saturday, April 2, 2011

I love you Yeatsy Bear

"The eyes of a cat will wax and wane with the phases of the moon"
-William Butler (W.B.) Yeats

This past week I lost my constant companion of the past twelve years, W.B. Yeats.  My life would not have been the same without him.

I wish I had more pictures of his early days, but those who know me, know that I am incapable of keeping a computer up and running for very long, so I seem to have lost all early digital photos. None the less, I want to take a moment to tell the entire story of how I suddenly was forced to be a cat person. Way back in 1999, I was alone and working at Kodak, trying to figure out why I could not put weight on my left leg, miserable because I could not run and essentially be me, when I got a very bizarre phone call from my sister.  Phone calls between me and my sister are a rarity.  All she said was that she had stolen a cat and that I should meet her on the Thruway in a few hours (I was in Rochester, she was in Lowell, MA). Seemed like a good idea to me. So four hours later I was a cat person. Yeats was malnourished, had a flee problem, had no claws, and was just in general need of love. That first year I would take him out into fields and teach him to come to me and respond to his name. At nights when I was thinking of how I wish things were different with my life, he would nuzzle up next to my head while I just looked at the stars. What a difference just a little love from a pet can make. Well, I could go on and on forever, but obviously we were stuck with each other from that point on.

Yeats traveled with me to New Jersey, Oregon, Wisconsin, and back to New York again. Yeats loved to look out the window, he would put his paws on the window while we drove and only meowed at tractor trailers. Frankly, I think this just illustrates his intelligence, who does like passing tractor trailers? In New York he really hit his stride. Perhaps I can be comforted by the fact that the last years of his life were the happiest. He learned how to use the dog door and would do nightly patrols of the neighborhood, typically ending up on my neighbors patio to join them while they had beer.  I never saw how Yeats got out the dog door or out of my fenced yard. This was likely by design, I think Yeats wanted to keep this as his little secret.

There will be other cats and other pets, I'm sure, but Yeats will remain my first true love. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The start of the 2011 racing season

The racing season has officially begun. Woo!  I personally think that I've set the bar a tad too high for this season.  Next year I'm making a note to myself to start slower! 

In February, I was recruited to the faculty/staff Noontime Running League at Syracuse University by Roger Hahn, one of the emeritus faculty members in Chemistry, a Department I'm particularly fond of. How can I say no to a fellow chemist who also runs?  So on one Friday afternoon in February I found myself lining up with colleagues from ESF and SU to run an 8k.  I was also a bit intrigued by the thought of running at Manley.  Manley has had a special place in my heart ever since I saw a wild SU-Georgetown game there back in the 90s (when isn't an SU-Georgetown game wild?). I was expecting to trudge along slowly, but much to my surprise, I found myself being paced by my new friend Javier to a new PR of 31:44.  Granted, this is the first time I've ever run indoor track, so anything would be a PR, but for reference, the pace was 20 seconds faster per mile than what I ran for the St. Patrick's Day 8k last year.  Booya!  Happy happy  happy

So that brings us to my first real race of the year on February 27th, the Dahlgren Trail Half Marathon.  I was so hungry to race that waiting for the start was excruciating for me (and probably for Jerille by default).  I semi-missed that weird feeling of being completely nervous to the point where I want to retreat immediately and completely excited to the point where I just want to start running stat!  The race started in waves because of the narrowness of the trail and I was up front with the "elite" wave.  Elite in this case really just meant, the people who wanted the money.  I, not wanting to be cranky on the drive home with Jerille, decided that I was going to have to maximize my win money.  And so I started off strong and held it..the entire race!  Well, I yet again managed to lose all my food and my inhaler..yes..again..really...and so I ran backwards for a bit to see if I could retrieve those items (not successfully))..but otherwise I was totally strong!  The footing was a bit tricky in parts and much to my surprise there were a ton of false flats (for something that used to be a railroad), but all in all I think that race was badass!  I ended up winning for the women by 6:43 and came in 7th overall for the men.  Jerille was rewarded with a happy girlfriend and a nice dinner at our new fave restaurant, Eggspectations.  A great day :) 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Eleonore Rocks

I'm super excited to accept an invite to race with the Ambassador Team for the Eleonore Rocks Foundation next year. Not only are there a bunch of badasses on the team, but the foundation has a fantastic mission statement of raising funds/support for sick children and their families.  More info can be found here:

I have a feeling that I may be racing in pink for this team, and I am currently coming to terms with this.  I imagine that I will be proud to wear pink for such a great cause. I also get to race some version of this bikey:

I will miss you Scott Plasma.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Winter Running with the Pup

I am a fairly dedicated winter runner.  I pride myself on running through any storms..snow storms..-15 degree weather..etc..etc... Granted, this has so far resulted in a torn meniscus, a strained ligament, and a broken shoulder, but I'm still staying the course. Melo on the other hand is more of a fair weather dog, where fair for him is around 40 degrees and windy (you need to pretend you are a dog to understand this). The first time I ever attempted to run with Melo in sub zero temperatures, he  promptly turned around 5 minutes into the run and ran back to our porch to wait for me to come back.  He has grudgingly accepted that he's going to have to run with me in the cold and snow, but his tactic the past two years has been to just shut down completely when his feet get cold or hurt from the snow and salt.  In order to combat this phenomenon I discovered a wonderful product at an earthy organicy pet shop in Maryland called Pawz.

Yes, that's right, I actually bought booties for my dog.  This was his response:

He basically thought I had put a poisonous creature on his foot...and so I logically proceeded to put the booties on all of his feet.  You can tell that he's completely thrilled:

But once we got outside, the booties were wonderful!  Melo has used these booties to run through the storm shown below for the past 3 days!  Success! Every morning still starts with the exact same responses shown above, Melo is not very good with cause and effect, but I think that thanks to the booties 25 degrees and snowy may be his new preferred weather conditions.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Caramel Apple Deliciousness

When I started this blog I promised that under no circumstances would I post a recipe or a picture of food..and of course 3 blog entries later I am going to do exactly this.  In an effort to prove to my family that thanksgiving day desert could be healthy and tasty I volunteered to make desert.  I had no idea this would require a lenghty internet search, a 45 dollar grocery bill, a trip to my moms house to borrow a mixer and a springform pan, and a 2 day baking procedure.  But in the end, all of this was worthwhile because what came out was AMAZING! I made low fat caramel swirl-apple cheesecake.  A good take on this recipe can be found here:

My dad who is incredibly hard to please swears that this is the best cheesecake he's ever had, which I find rather amazing since it's mostly composed of vanilla yogurt.  Heck yeah.  Here are some pictures through the 2 day procedure. 

Right after making:

After refrigerating and plating:
After cutting:

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Week in the Life

The last week has been exciting and tiring...with an emphasis on tiring.  The week started with the final xcountry race of the season, the upstate championships.  Historically this race brings out the best of the best and this was definitely the case on Sunday.  This is the best picture of me that I could find:

The rest of the pictures look much like I felt, like I was being run over by a bus.  A hard day.  Soft grass, gradual hills, except for the wonderfully flat, packed dirt 4th kilometer, and a steep hill right before the finish.  2 kilometers from the finish I imagined my teammate Mary and I crossing the line together and holding our hands up in triumph for finishing another season..instead we sort of collapsed on each other and then tried to get out of the way of the people behind us.  I ended up 17th overall, 4th for the open women.  This may perhaps sound slower than my norm, but relative to the competition I'm really really happy with how I did. Plus, I was feeling extra perky thanks to cheering from Melo and my guy, Jerille, who decided to surprise me/give me a heart attack by showing up randomly last week.

Tuesday I woke up at 4:30 am to do an FTP on my bike.  There is no workout that gives me more anxiety than this.  I have no idea why, but when I do that test I just want to kill it, and if it doesn't go well, I'm cranky for the rest of the week.  Thankfully, this FTP was not awful.  I put on some Jay-Z and didn't think about anything besides that and killing it.

Average Wattage:  212
Average HR:  170


The same day I boarded a plane for the University of Kentucky to give a talk.  I feel like I've always harbored some animosity towards UK as a die hard Cuse basketball fan, but Kentucky was actually overwhelmingly nice.  Very beautiful for running/cycling (as determined by my 11 mi run on Wednesday), friendly people. However, I firmly believe that having biscuits and gravy for breakfast, the Kentucky norm, is mildly repulsive. 

I'm back in Cuse for the weekend and excited to cheer for my friend Terri during IM Arizona on Sunday!!!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One with the Mud

Two quotes from the amazing Lynn Jennings that summarize how I feel about cross country:

"The freedom of Cross Country is so primitive. It's woman vs. nature."

"The footing was really atrocious. I loved it. I really like Cross Country; you're one with the mud."

There is no form of racing that I like more than cross country, running quickly through trees and mud while elbowing your opponents just to get by, sometimes even elbowing these opponents into the trees that you are running quickly by.  Awesome. Sunday was my return to cross country after spending the past month desperately trying to get my hip to cooperate again. I think the return was generally a success, but running that fast came as quite a shock to the system when everyone else has been competing every weekend.  I had some minor concerns that I was going to stroke out the first mile, but by mile two I found my rhythm and settled in. The pace was perhaps a little quicker than I had anticipated, but I was hungry for a good finish, and every time I heard someone cheering for a woman behind me I accelerated.  I ended up with a respectable 3rd place overall and 3rd place for the open women. Overall, the Syracuse Track Club is filled with bad ass women this year.  As a team we essentially destroyed the field for the second week in a row.  Nice job ladies!!!    

This is a pic of me trying to recover from the only hill in the course, the man behind me did not run me over.