Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

At last, my semester is over. I’ve turned in all my term papers, and I’m actually in the mood to do a little leisure writing. Amazing how writing for school kills all enthusiasm for blogging. I still like my PhD program, but this semester was a tough one…

Anyway, I’ve managed to fit in a lot of fun stuff and accomplished a bunch of goals this spring. Here’s a little timeline:

April 12th, 2015: Completed my first-ever triathlon!!!

What an amazing day. I destroyed my goal time of 1:45:00, completed the race in 1:33:37, and felt great doing it. The weather was gorgeous, the water was nice, the bike course was flat and smooth, and the run course was beautiful. When I finished, I was so amped up I felt like I could do the whole thing again…I guess I could have pushed myself a little more! I made a friend in my start wave who was also doing her first tri, and now we’re planning on running/biking together whenever we’re in the same state. I could not have asked for a better first triathlon experience and will definitely be doing more!

Triathlete!

Triathlete!

The rest of my visit to FL was nice too. While posing for a picture on a the beach, my mom and I were photobombed by a Great Blue Heron:

That's not something you see everyday...

That’s not something you see everyday…

April 25th: “Music on Maple” Premiere Performance

I’ve been trying to figure out how to keep myself motivated to learn new music at a performance-ready level while in school, and in April I thought of a solution: Host concerts in my apartment (aka “Maple Hall.” Next step, Carnegie Hall!). The bi-annual concert series features myself as well as at least one guest performer. My first guest was a couch surfer I was hosting from France who plays jazz accordion. We met for the first time three hours before the show, ran through some tunes, and then put on a great performance. Everyone is still raving about it! The next performance will take place at the end of June and will feature my dad on ukelele! 🙂

Music on Maple: Premiere Performance

'nuf said.

‘nuf said.

May 3rd: Five Boro Bike Tour

In preparation for The Ride to Montauk, I decided to sign up for the Five Boro Bike Tour, a forty-mile casual ride through all five boroughs. The highways were closed so that only bikes got to ride, and we got to go over a bunch of bridges that are usually off-limits to cyclists, including the monster bridge, the Verrazano. I completed the 40 miles easily, which gave me a lot of confidence for Montauk!

May 9th: Mudderella 11150608_10100454737430182_8265482372204029810_n

Awhile back, some friends asked me if I wanted to do a mud race with them in NJ. I have to say I was a little disappointed with this one; I’ve done one other mud/adventure race and this was much less intense, with a lot of people walking between obstacles. I still had fun, but I definitely prefer races that are a little more demanding.

May 16th: The Ride To Montauk

My favorite ride! Last year, Genai and I made it through 56 miles before having to call it quits. This year, we were better prepared, Genai had a better bike, and we were determined to ride all 73 miles. After five hours of sleep, we drove to Mastic to volunteer in the rain for 3 1/2 hours before beginning the ride. We were wet for the whole morning half of the ride, but we still felt great. And, sure enough, the sun came out in the afternoon, our spirits helped us persevere, and with a big push at the end we zoomed into the finish line. Ahhhh it felt SO good to complete all those miles. Yes, completing my triathlon was a big deal, but I honestly think making it through all 73 miles of this ride was the greatest physical accomplishment of my life thus far. Now I feel like I can do anything! We were so exhausted at the end, so next year our goal is to get to the finish feeling fine. 🙂

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Calling it quits at 56 vs. Going all way to 73! 😀

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May 23rd: Awesome gig!

I was hired to play vibes for a baby shower on Long Island, so I loaded my vibraphone into my car, drove four feet…and realized I had a flat tire. Luckily one of my neighbors was standing nearby, so he got his tools and helped me change the tire quickly (I know how to fix a flat, but it would have taken forever). Thanks to him, I actually made it with plenty of time to spare, and the gig itself was great. I love playing party gigs because I’m just the background music, so it’s low stress, good pay, and I get free food. 🙂

May 25th: Bike To Long Beach

For Memorial Day, a friend invited me on what turned out to be a great ride to Long Beach. We met up with a bunch of other cyclists for breakfast, then rode 25 miles to the beach. The weather was perfect, and I’m happy to say I was able to keep up with everyone even though they all had road bikes and I had my hybrid. Unfortunately we couldn’t get onto the sand at Long Beach without paying $12, so we ate lunch on the boardwalk and then rode to the Rockaways where we could get onto the beach for free. It was a great day, and I wasn’t even too tired after the 50 miles….I even had enough energy to bike 7 miles to a party later that night! 🙂

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So that’s that. Now I’m in the midst of deciding between working at an elementary circus camp or the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the summer and enjoying my freedom in the meantime by jamming, running, biking, hanging with friends…all my favorite things. And softball starts Sunday. Life is great! 😀

I have not done very well updating this blog.

…but…

I have done very well training for my triathlon. On average, I’ve trained 4-5 days per week and can now:

  1. Swim (nonstop) 3x the distance I’ll swim for the tri.
  2. Conquer the giant hill in Prospect Park on foot and by bike 3x in a row.
    1. (this is a great achievement because any hills in my triathlon will be minuscule and therefore cake)
  3. Easily complete my 9-mile commute to school by bike…including over the bridge.
    1. (my triathlon requires 13 miles of cycling, but considering how many hills I encounter here, how few I’ll encounter there, and the fact that I’ll ride a better bike on race day, I feel ready).
  4. Walk up eight flights of stairs without breathing hard
    1. (not particularly relevant for the tri, but awesome nonetheless)

I’ve also been working on my core, lifting weights, eating nutritious foods, realizing the importance of rest days, and finding time for school work, music, and hanging out with friends, all of which has led to an overall happy and healthy me.

I did have one hiccup…

A word to the wise: If you have a friend visiting for a week and you eat lots of crappy foods and drink more than usual, it is not a good idea to go for a run the day after she leaves. You’re probably too dehydrated to run safely and could end up straining your calf muscle, which will lead to a frustrating week of no running, complete with lots of calf stretches and slight panic that you will not recover in time for the race and will have to walk at the end.

:/

But anyway…

I’ve mostly recovered from that adventure and am excited to fly to FL in two days. I will then have twelve days before the race, during which time I will finally do some brick routines (practicing transitioning straight from one race leg to another; I need to work on getting a nice stride straight off a bike), hang out with my parents, complete the crazy amount of schoolwork I’ve been assigned for spring break, rest up during the last week, and mentally prepare for  race day by envisioning my triathlon success. It’s not going to be an easy race, but I am confident I have prepared well enough to finish and make it count. I’ve enjoyed this training process and am excited to put the pedal to the metal on race day! Two weeks to go!!! 😀

Volunteering in Mastic

Volunteering in Mastic

This weekend, I crossed another item off my LI bucket list by biking across the east end of Long Island. “The Ride To Montauk” is an incredible event during which thousands of cyclists bike from Manhattan, Babylon, or Mastic all the way to Montauk (distances of 150, 108, or 73 miles). Riders have participated in this annual event for fifty years, and now that I’ve done it, I see why.

My friend Genai and I started the day by volunteering in Mastic, where we spent three hours helping people find their bikes amidst hundreds. It was clear that we’d be the minority in the field; most of the bikes we were handing off were road/touring bikes, while we’d be riding a hybrid and a cruiser. Challenge accepted.

Volunteering was a great way to start the day. In return for our service we rode for free, avoiding the $150 registration fee. Those who did pay helped fund the many amenities offered throughout the day: Food, water, first aid, bike maintenance, porter potties at every rest stop; shuttles to Montauk for anyone ending early; emergency roadside assistance; PIE FROM BRIERMERE FARMS; hot showers, massages, BBQ, and beer at the end. Yum!

The First Leg: Mastic to Westhampton (~14 miles)

Holy cow!

Holy cow!

Due to the mass of riders who arrived on the train from Manhattan all at once, Genai and I volunteered an extra hour to help with the chaos. When it was finally over we took off our volunteer vests, strapped on our helmets, and hit the road. We had a lot of time to make up since we’d planned to leave around 9 AM rather than 10 AM, but based on our estimate we’d bike ~10 mph and still finish by the 6 PM deadline. We had a map, but with so many cyclists going the same way it was easy to follow the crowd. Also helpful were the clearly-marked directional symbols painted on the ground along the route, making it nearly impossible to get lost (somehow a couple people still managed to go the wrong way…very impressive).

Riding with such a large crowd of bikers (more than 2000!) was really cool. Since this wasn’t a race, there was no sense of competition among riders. If someone wanted to pass, they simply called out “Left” and coasted past. It felt so good each time Genai and I were able to pass someone, since in most instances our bikes were not nearly as nice as theirs (okay, so maybe some of those riders started in Manhattan at 5 AM, but it still felt good).

14 Miles In: Rest Stop At The Westhampton Presbyterian Church

Westhampton, our first rest stop.

Westhampton, our first rest stop.

 Just as we started to waiver, the first rest stop appeared. We pulled in, parked, and went in search of food. First we found big bowls of black grapes…delicious. Next we headed to the sandwich station for real nourishment. Peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, taboule, and…where’s the bread?! Yes, 11:30 AM and the Westhampton rest stop was already out of bread. There were also no plastic spoons, so no way to eat that wonderful protein without contaminating the metal spoons in each jar. By a stroke of good fortune, a volunteer brought over some pretzel packets while I was standing there, so Genai and I were able to snag one to share in the two seconds they were on the table (it was like magic how fast they disappeared). The bits of peanut butter we spread on those pretzels tasted soooooo good.After waiting around hoping the volunteer who’d left to buy bread would come back, we decided we were losing too much time and should just find something on the road. We ate some of Genai’s emergency chocolate (so glad she brought it!) and discussed our plan. Genai was not doing so well on the cruiser, so we decided to switch bikes for the next leg.

Second Leg: Westhampton to Water Mill (~26 miles)

As soon as I started pedaling the cruiser I understood why Genai needed a break. Holy moly that thing was hard; I definitely had to pedal a couple miles before I got into a groove (once I found a groove though, I was good to go!). To add to the challenge, this part of the route included Dune Road, a beautiful but extremely breezy road along the waterfront. Between the wind, our hunger, and our bikes, Dune Road seemed to go on forever. To help pass the time, we talked about what kind of pie we hoped to eat at the end. For the record, I was hoping for blueberry crumb and Genai wanted raspberry.

At the top of Ponquogue Bridge.

At the top of Ponquogue Bridge.

As the miles wore on and there was still no sign of food, we started getting desperate. At one point I saw a squished, unopened Larabar on the road and almost stopped to get it. When we passed a cyclist sitting on the grass eating a sandwich, we just stared at her as we rode past. But then…finally…around 12 miles in as we were about to turn onto Montauk Highway, we saw a gas station. Never in my life have I have been so happy to buy food from a gas station. Its tiny shop was full of cyclists with the same idea as us; I bet that station set a new record for sales of Clif bars that day! We enjoyed every bite of our Clif bars, chatted with the other riders, and pumped up the cruiser’s tires before going back out on the road.

With new air in the tires, new energy in our bodies, and a flat road ahead, the next few miles flew by. The extra air in those wheels made a huge difference; the cruiser was still slowing us down, but to a much lesser degree. During this leg I was even able to ride up the fairly steep Ponquogue Bridge in Hampton Bays, passing riders on road bikes who’d decided to walk up the hill. I was invincible! We stopped at the top for photos and some celebratory chocolate.

Windmill!

Windmill!

40 Miles In: Rest Stop At The Water Mill Village Green

After finishing the final pedal strokes of that 26-mile leg, we pulled in rather gracefully to the second rest stop (aka I rode up and promptly fell over with the bike on the grass). This stop was beautiful, with a giant windmill, soft green grass, and…FOOD!!! Fresh fruit, mixed nuts, peanut butter, almond butter, Nutella, jams, chocolate, Oreos, jelly beans…it was heaven! There was even bread! You could tell that a lot of riders were drained at this point; there were scores of cyclists lying in the grass.

We spent a good amount of time at this stop taking photos and eating way too much (I was so excited about the almond butter that I put a ton on a piece of bread and tried to eat quickly as it dripped on the ground and my shoe). Too soon, it was time to move on. Just another 13 miles until the last rest stop!

Third Leg: Water Mill to Amagansett (~13 miles)

After biking so far to Water Mill, the distance to Amagansett seemed like a breeze. It was a fairly easy ride with minimal wind, but we were feeling the pressure of the time crunch and the exertion of the ride as the miles added up. We also began seeing fewer riders on the road…we were running out of time! We took a quick water break and checked our distance: 2 miles to go. We decided to switch bikes for the final miles, thinking we might have to call it quits at the next stop…

56 Miles In: Rest Stop at Amagansett

...raspberry pie!

…raspberry pie!

"We ride for pie!"

“We ride for pie!”

At 5:50 PM we rode into the last rest stop, which closed at 5:30 PM. The few cyclists hanging around were those waiting to be shuttled to Montauk. Knowing we still had 18 miles and 1 1/2 hours to go if we kept riding, we made the decision to load our bikes onto the van and call it a day. Lucky for us, this rest stop was still handing out delicious pie from the amazing Briermere Farms. I’ve eaten my fair share of Briermere pie in my life, but I don’t think it ever tasted as good as it did after those 56 miles. And for the record, the pie we ate was peach and…raspberry.

Camp Hero State Park: Montauk, NY

Cheers!

Cheers from Montauk!

The shuttle ride to Montauk was a great relief. We rode with a handful of exhausted cyclists, all with sore butts and satisfied spirits. We may not have made it all the way to Montauk, but we still accomplished something amazing. Plus, watching all the cyclists we passed during those final miles made me feel grateful I was not having to conquer those steep hills. Maybe next year…

At Camp Hero, we found our bags (which had been driven to Montauk earlier that day) and headed straight for the shower trucks. I’ve never seen anything like those shower trucks; they were great! Then we enjoyed freshly grilled veggie burgers and local Blueberry Ale courtesy of the Bluepoint Brewing Company. Finally, we checked our bikes so they’d be transported back to the right place,  said our goodbyes, and headed to our respective busses home (free transportation to Mastic and Manhattan..perfect). We both made off with fresh fruit and a whole box of pie each, since they had so many extras. A truly wonderful way to end a fantastic day.

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Looking forward to the road ahead…

The Adventure Continues…

Genai and I both had a great time at The Ride To Montauk, and I am certainly looking forward to doing it again next year. To have accomplished such a journey on the bikes we had felt like a superhero feat, and neither of us were super sore afterwards! The next day, I am proud to say I continued my amazing weekend of adventures by pitching six strikeouts in five innings during my first softball game, and catching every ball hit to me in the outfield in the second game. Two more wins for our team; we are on fire!

This was definitely one of my favorite weekends of the year. I love riding my bike to begin with, but to do it with such beautiful weather at such a great event was really special. I have a feeling there are a lot more biking adventures ahead, but I will always cherish my first Ride To Montauk. Looking forward to the next one!

 

I Refuse.

Posted: September 27, 2013 in Health, VISTA Leader Life

Well, I’ve been working as a VISTA Leader for about a month now, and I’ve established a solid work routine. 9-5 was killing me, so I’m working 8-4 now (much better…it takes 45 minutes to get home instead of the 80 it was taking if I left at 5!).  I will NEVER enjoy certain aspects of office life, but I refuse to be discouraged. There is opportunity within every hardship, so here’s how I’m pushing through:

1) The Commute: Ugh. What can I say? I hate driving. I always have and always will (well…I love racing down wide highways with my foot pressed on the pedal, but that’s another story…).

When I was little, my mom asked what kind of car I’d like to drive, and my answer was “a bicycle”. I still stand by that response. Any time I can erase my carbon footprint a bit by taking public transit or carpooling, I jump at the chance. The best is when I can forego gas guzzling altogether and instead walk or ride my bike. If I ever settle down somewhere, you better believe it’s going to be in a bike-friendly city with excellent public transit.

So anyway, I refuse to let the commute get me down. I am making the most of the too-long drive by:

    • Listening to jazz tunes I want to learn and singing the chord changes
    • Listening to French music and singing the words
    • Listening to NPR (can’t beat it)
    • Listening to audiobooks! This is my best solution, and time flies by. So far, I have listened to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers (highly recommend), and just started The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon. ***RISSE friends: This is one to add to the list of good refugee books!*** If anyone has any suggestions I should add to my list, let me know. I’m in my car around ten hours a week, so I have lots of time to “read”! 🙂

Office Life2) Office Life: Ugh. I am not meant to be in an office.

When I was little, I visited my dad’s office and thought “Why would people dress up and sit in a box all day?”. Made no sense to me, and still doesn’t. Sitting in an office was my least-favorite part of being a VISTA, and it’s my least-favorite part of being a VISTA Leader. Unfortunately, my current position allows very little wiggle room for getting around this. There is no casual Friday, the whole staff works in the same space (so no walking to other buildings for meetings), and I don’t have a whole college campus to explore and people to visit when I’m sick of sitting at my desk. Huge bummer, but I refuse to be discouraged by office culture. I’ve come up with some strategies for staying active physically and mentally during the day. Here are my solutions:

Office Ergonomics: Scary stuff. Click to learn more!

Office Ergonomics: Scary stuff. Click to learn more!

    • Stand up for health! Research shows that sitting all day is downright bad. As Dr. Genevieve Healy puts it, “We’ve become so sedentary that 30 minutes a day at the gym may not counteract the detrimental effects of 8, 9 or 10 hours of sitting. ”  Isn’t that scary? The information on sites like www.juststand.org only reinforces my motivation to GET UP. Instead of sitting, I created a standing desk for myself and now spend most of each day on my feet. Wow, what a difference that makes! I feel so much better about this job ever since making the switch. Try it for yourself!
    • Take a walk! Staring at a computer all day can’t be good, so I started wearing a pedometer and making a point of getting away from my laptop as much as possible. I park as far from the building as possible, fill my water bottle halfway (so I often have to walk to the water cooler to fill it up again), ask questions in person rather than send emails to colleagues a couple feet away, and when nature calls, I use the restroom farthest from my office suite. Sometimes, I walk outside just for the heck of it, and I march in place at the computer if I can pull it off. By the end of the work day I’ve usually racked up around 3,500 steps on my pedometer. That’s less than half of the total I should walk in a day, but much better than I was doing by sitting on my butt!
    • Lunch break! At Saint Rose I loved the lunch hour, mainly because it meant that for a short window of time, the pool would open for lap swimming. Almost every day, I would hurry across campus with my swim bag and jump in the water for half an hour. Multiply that by nine months, times six years…I probably spent over 300 hours in that pool. Swimming was my form of meditation, and I miss it so much. Out of all the places I considered home on the Saint Rose campus, the pool was right at the top with the Sanctuary and the music building. Yes, it was so important that I’m not sure which I value more: the music building or the pool. Oh how I miss it. There is nothing like swimming, but I have at least found another way to stay active on my lunch breaks. Conveniently, the sidewalk all around the perimeter of my office complex takes exactly half an hour to walk. Perfect! It might not be a relaxing dip in the water, but at least I’m staying active.

So…those are just a few of the ways I’m combatting the not-fun parts of my job. This position is a lot different than my VISTA experience and I’m trying very hard not to compare them too much. This is important work and it’s teaching me a very different set of skills than I developed with RISSE and Saint Rose, and that’s a good thing. Also…slightly off-topic but I would like to give a huge shout-out to the wonderful team running the Saint Rose RISSE program this year. I am so proud of them every time I get an update; it makes me feel so good knowing the program is thriving and in such good hands. Keep up the great work girls, I’m rooting for you!
That’s all for now, thanks for reading! 🙂