Conquering Fears

This weekend I participated in the NYC triathlon. The race consisted of a 1 mile swim, a 40k (24.8 miles) bike and a 10k (6.2 miles) run. Most of you would probably assume that for me, the race got more challenging as it went along . For the most part, you are right. My swim time was 7th in my age group (not going to lie, a slight disappointment), my bike split was 20th and my run split was 102nd. So yes, things got more difficult for my as the race went along — but that’s only speaking about the physical challenges.

Mentally, the swim was the worst. Ever since I was accepted into this race I’ve been panicking. I mean, swimming in the Hudson? Who wouldn’t be nervous?

Getting ready to brave the waters of the Hudson
Getting ready to brave the waters of the Hudson

But I’ve had a fear of open water swimming for years. Swimming in pools, fine. You can see the bottom, most of the time they don’t contain animals and the chlorine keeps out all of the “bad things.” But swimming in open water, that’s another story.

Some of you may remember this post blog I wrote about visit my grandparents in Florida. In it I mentioned my fear of open water swimming:

Abby and I spent a lot of time swimming in the bay in front of our grandparents house. We would blow up rafts and inner tubes, and see who could stand on them the longest without falling in the water. At the end of the bay, there was a mangrove island, no more than 150 yards away. When Abby was 7 years old, she decided she was going to swim out to this island. My dad jumped in the inflatable row-boat and paddled along besides her as she bravely made her way out to the island and back. When she returned, my grandfather gave her a sliver dollar for accomplishing this feat. Year after year, when we returned to their house, my grandfather would ask me if I was ready to make the same swim. Not until I was 21 years old did I actually do it; and I was freaking out the entire time. Sadly, I never received a silver dollar for my feat of bravery…

So for me, taking on the Hudson, which is fill with who knows what, was a feat for me. And it definitely gave me reason to smile the rest of the race, even when I was running/jogging/trudging at the end!

So happy to be out of the water
So happy to be out of the water
Going out for my bike on the West Side Highway
Going out for my bike on the West Side Highway
One mile into the run, pain is starting to set in
One mile into the run, pain is starting to set in
So close to the finish!
So close to the finish!

Thank you Matt for acting as my support crew. It was reassuring to see you running along the path as I swam, frantically swinging your arms around and telling me to go faster. It definitely reminded me of our days on Gators. Plus your hair looked amazing.

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Citi Bikes!

Well, it didn’t take much, but Matt and I are officially drinking the controversial Citi Bike kool-aid. This weekend we took the bikes out for a spin and ended up signing up for annual memberships.

On Saturday, after running down to Cold Process Coffee and getting injected with caffeine, we didn’t really feel like running home. Instead, we decided to test out the city’s new bike share program. After dipping our credit card and agreeing to follow the traffic laws, we were given codes to unlock our bikes.

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The bikes are definitely A LOT clunkier and slower than a regular road bike but it didn’t bother me much. They are perfect for commuting and I am confident that they will be able to stand up NYC’s weather and grime.

 

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We jumped on the bikes and road home on the path that runs along the Hudson. In about 15 minutes we were home. We had some difficulty locking our bikes into the station at 59th and West End, but luckily there was another station around the corner that accepted our bikes just fine.

Since we purchased a 24-hour membership, we had access to the bikes again on Sunday. This time we rode the bikes from 59th and Amsterdam down to brunch at 44st and 9th. While we could walk this distance, it is nearly a mile and the bikes got us there in approximately 7 minutes. After a delicious brunch at Marseille, we grabbed two more bikes from the rack and rode up to Columbus Circle. The first station we went to (57th and Broadway) was full, so we ended up riding two blocks down to 55th and Broadway – no big deal.

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The bikes definitely make commuting around the city a bit more enjoyable and the recently added bike lanes make it pretty easy. I love biking, so I knew this program was probably going to be something that I enjoyed. However, the thing that I liked the most was taking control of my commute. While I do think NYC’s subway system is amazing, you are never quite sure how long you will have to wait for a train or when there might be delays. And with the traffic in the city – taxis are a shot in the dark. However, if you are up for it, Citibikes allow you as the commuter to take control. You can decide which route to take and, for the most part, you are able to zip through areas with heavy traffic (of course, following the traffic laws!). That being said – like most things in NYC, it all depends on whether or not tourists try to take part.  Right now it is mostly enthusiastic New Yorkers participating in the program. When the newbies start hitting the streets,things might get worse. But hopefully, the fact that they have bike share programs in other cities around the world bodes well.

So while I know not everyone agrees, I say “Long Live City Bikes!”

 

Downhill

Yes – I’m still recapping our trip to Colorado. Seriously, it feels like we were there for a year with everything we did!

Our friends were arriving in Denver on Friday and meeting us in Snowmass that afternoon. So that gave Matt and I the morning to pack up, check in to our new condo, do some laundry and hit up the grocery store. Plenty of time to find in one more activity, right?

Since we had such much fun mountain biking the first time, we decided to do that again. Plus we’d heard that Snowmass had just opened some awesome trails so it seemed like a perfect idea.

At the rental shop, Matt and I were surprised to see so many people renting shin guards, wrist guards, padded shirts and helmets with face masks. In Telluride, we just rented bikes and helmets and were fine. Yes – I did fall a couple of times but I am not sure a face mask was necessary, I never went more than 5 mph! So when they asked us if we wanted the “safety package” we laughed and opted out.

When Matt and I took the bikes for a quick test spin around the sidewalk, we both immediately asked for our bike seats to be raised. The guys who worked at the rental store told us that they were actually at the right height, “since you aren’t sitting when you are riding, it doesn’t matter that much.”

Umm, what? No sitting? What are you talking about.

We took their word for it and headed to the gondola. As we rode up the mountain, I started to realize that Matt and I were the only people who didn’t have safety gear on. Everyone else was decked out in hardcore gear, while I was wearing spandex bike shorts and a lululemon bike shirt. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. Was this just the different between Telluride and Aspen?

I decided to google “different types of mountain biking.” The results showed me that there are multiple types of mountain biking:  cross country (XC), trail riding, all mountain, downhill, freeride, slopestyle, dirt jumping and trials. What we had done in Telluride was cross country. Commonly defined by the terrain on which it is performed, XC courses and trails consist of a mix of rough forest paths and singletrack, smooth fireroads, and even paved paths connecting other trails. Cross-country bicycles are some of the lightest mountain bikes, typically between 15 and 35 lb. They usually feature suspension forks in front and sometimes have suspension in the rear.

What we were about to was downhill. Downhill biking is a time trial mountain biking event held on a course with a net decrease in elevation. As the name of this discipline implies, downhill races are held on steep, downhill terrain, resulting in high speed descents and, most commonly, with extended air time off jumps and other obstacles. Modern downhill bikes weigh between 30 and 42 pounds, and usually feature full-suspension and frame geometries that lean back farther  than other mountain bikes.

Suddenly, I was in a whole new world.

We began to make our way down “Easy Rider” a begin track. It took me a little to get used to the bike and after about 2 minutes of squatting over my bike (remember – you are really supposed to sit down) my thighs were burning. But even though it was physically challenging, and I was going ridiculously slow, I liked it. This was definitely something I could get into. and let’s face it, that face mask helmet makes me look bad ass.

 

After a few runs I was feeling pretty good about myself. So at the end of the day, we decided to take on an expert level course, Valhalla, the newest and Snowmass’ signature downhill trail.

And yes, you better believe it that Matt and I looked this intense going down it!

 

So look out, I’m planning to make my downhill debut at the X Games! Let’s just hope the sport is ready for me.

I Like to Ride My Bicycle

The second full day we were in Telluride, Matt and I decided to go cross-country mountain biking.While I’ve been road biking for a while now, I’d never even been on a mountain bike before, let alone ride down a ski mountain. Needless to say, I was a little nervous.

After a ride up the gondola, we made our way to the first track – Jurassic. It was a single track trail (meaning it is only wide enough for one bike) that ran through a section of woods with a lot of switch backs. I was surprised to find of much the bike would skid when I would brake. However, I wasn’t quite brave enough to let myself go that fast. After a few miles of downhill, we reached the valley floor and took the river tail back into town. I survived the first run.

Unfortunately, the second trail didn’t go quite as well. After another trip up in the gondola, we made our way over the Village Trail. This one was a little longer and had a lot of switchbacks. Unfortunately, on a few of these 180 degree turns, the bike slipped out from under me and somehow ended up on top of my legs. The end result was a lot of bruises – not very attractive.

After our second ride, I needed a break. We decided to stop for lunch and some liquid courage.

Soon enough we were back up the gondola and on to our final trail, Prospect Trail. This was the longest and hardest of the three we tackled. A couple of miles into the bike, we heard a familiar noise… thunder. Unfortunately, Matt and I were finding ourselves in a situation where we were trying to outrun (well, outride) another storm.

Thankfully we made it down in one piece

Just a little muddy!

The weekend forecast

This weekend is the Pan Mass Challenge. My sister, Matt and I will all be riding 191 miles from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA. Why are we doing this you ask? Here are our top 10 reasons:

1. After getting married just over a month ago, we thought this would be a good bonding experience for me, Matt, and Abby. Matt is so excited about spending more than 48 hours with Abby and me.

2. Lance Armstrong is riding this year. Performance enhancing drugs or not, just to breath the same air as him will be incredible.

3. We look awesome in bike shorts – especially Matt.

4. It is an excuse to wear matching outfits. We don’t have too many of these occasions since retiring our “Gator A” and “Bad to the Bone” swim team shirts.

5. We can eat as many peanut butter and fluff sandwiches as we want and no one will judge.

6. It is a good way to get a dose of “small town America,” something that we lack in NYC.

7. There is free beer at the end of each days’ ride.

8. It is a good way for Abby to meet some guys. And with me and Matt at her side, she is sure to do well. Can someone say wingman?

9. The ride ends in p-town. Enough said.

10. To raise money for cancer research and treatment. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Just as I did last year, I will blog throughout our ride, taking a few minutes every waterstop to update you on our progress. So please follow along as we ride through the towns that line our route and pass by the people who come out to support the PMC. I will try to give you a sense of what it is like to ride for such a worthy cause. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated to my ride. You are the true heroes this weekend.

It is not to late to make a donation. Please visit My Fundraising Page

Pan Mass Challenge – UPDATE

I would like to update you all on my progress towards my goals.

  • To date, I have raised $1,025
    Thank you to everyone who has already shown their support. I truly appreciate it! Unfortunately, I still have a long way to go! There is still plenty of time to make a donate – please click HERE to do so! Remember 100% of every dollar donated goes directly to the Jimmy Fund!
  • In 2011, I have ridden approximately 120 miles
    As a result, I am pretty confident I will finish the first day of the Pan Mass (110 miles) – not so sure how that second day is looking!
  • Matt vs. Molly
    Last year, I was able to keep pace with Matt fairly easily during the ride. So far this year, Matt has crushed me during every training ride. Last year Matt has a stress fracture in his leg that kept him on crutches right up until the Pan Mass. Apparently, that impacted his performance… and I thought he was just lazy. At least I will look better in my bike shorts!

As I have done in years past, I created a YouTube video from last year’s ride. Hopefully this helps you experience what it is like to ride 190 miles to fight cancer.

 
Thank you so much for your support! We are closer by the mile!

Raise Your Glass

With the new year fast approaching, it is easy to look forward to all of the exciting things that will take place in 2011.

But it is worth mentioning that 2010 was certainly a good year. Matt and I got engaged and many of our friends celebrated their own weddings. Abby took a new job as the head coach for an awesome swim team and has managed to lead them to a top ranking so far this season. Matt, Abby, my mom and I successfully completed the 110 mile bike ride that is the Pan Mass and raised more than 20,000 dollars to fight cancer. Matt and I conquered Half Dome in Yosemite. And although the Red Sox didn’t have their best season, the Yankees weren’t able to defend their World Series title. I started my blog and was featured on Freshly Pressed! All in all, it was a good year.

I already have some good news for 2011 that concerns my employment. Unfortunately, I am not ready to make my announcement official (I know, the suspense is killing me too!). But in the spirit of things, I thought I would post this video that was featured on the Ellen Show earlier this year, celebrating her 1200th episode. Don’t get excited, I am not going to working for Ellen. But watching this made me realize, Ellen has the best job in the world. Not only because she is famous and probably she makes a lot of money (but let’s be honest, compared to Oprah, she is destitute), but because she truly loves what she does. I think we can all be inspired by her passion for life, her infectious laughter, and her killer dance moves.

2010 was a good one, but 2011 is certainly coming in strong…