Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Great Migration

I have migrated my blog over to WordPress - and if I did this right, no one will end up on this page.

But if you are here, looking for an update or to read about a funny (stupid) thing I did recently - the url is the same - www.caratunkgirl.com - but some who follow me through RSS feed, emails, or even google might need to update these - and also might need to update your blogrolls (if you are so kind as to have me there).

So head on over to my blog www.caratunkgirl.com and check out the new site!

Rock on.

Mandy

Monday, May 23, 2011

Muttley Monday - First Meeting

So how do you pick out a puppy from this mess of 4 week old cuteness?
Bailey is the one laying down by the stove, watching the action
I didn't.  The puppy picked me.  I got on the floor to get a good look at these guys.  They were all interested in playing with each other, as puppies are.

Except for one. One looked at me, walked over, crawled into my lap, and fell asleep.

I picked that one, but I always say he picked me.

My friend Andrea holding Bailey, one of his siblings wanting in on the action
Bailey was quiet, mellow, and sweet right from the start.   I had to wait 4 more weeks before I could take him home, but we got one last parting action shot of him before we left.
Bailey doing his thing


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday Random Stuff...and Giveaway WINNER!

Thank you all so much for your kind words, support, emails, phone calls, messages, cards, everything...Losing Bailey has really knocked the wind out of me, but the overwhelming response is a testament to what an incredible guy he was.  Thank you.

I might not wash all of my gear every day.  I do the sniff test on all of my running gear. Is that weird?

Todays running shirt was questionable.  I wore it anyway.

I am pretty stoked about today's brick.  I rode 42 miles then ran 3 off the bike.  What I am stoked about was that it was a hilly, windy ride.  Really windy.  I took one First Endurance liquid shot during the ride, something, I admit, I have been skipping because I prefer Fig Newtons to any gel.  My run splits off the bike were 8:58; 8:32; 8:06 and I felt great (thank you FE).  Might my speed FINALLY be coming back to me after last years injury?  Oh please oh please oh please!

I think I should stick to those liquid shots for long rides.  Maybe a few Fig Newtons too.  Hard to give those up.

The water temp of our lake is 50 degrees.  Guess I will be making the big drive to the pool for a few more weeks.

Oh crap.  That means my first open water swim is going to be at Rev3 Quassy Half.

GULP.

I had a great swim this weekend, I swam 1650 yards straight, which is a pretty big deal for someone who not too long ago could barely swim 50 without going to a breast stroke.

Yes, my boobs stayed in my bathing suit, thank you for asking.

A great big CONGRATULATIONS to Jeff and Bob on their Ironman Texas finishes!!  Actually, congrats to all finishers - you guys FREAKING ROCK!

CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Zippy! She is the winner of my Tommie Copper compression giveaway!  I have contacted her and she is on her way to some new compression wear.  Congratulations Miss Zippy!  Sorry I am announcing this a few days later than I promised.  If you read this blog, you know why.

Have a great week everyone, train hard.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Where I Am At

The food and water dish I just can't pick up.

The empty truck that makes me burst into tears as I approach.

The little piles of hair on the floor that I can't sweep up.

The collar I hold onto and carry around like a security blanket, refusing to let go.

Those things, and so many other things pierce my shattered heart.  I miss my boy so much.  The amount of comments and messages I have received on my blog, on Facebook and twitter, in my email, and on my phone are testament to what an amazing boy my Bailey was.  He touched so many lives, and not one person who came in contact with him - in real life or virtually through my blog or Facebook - left without a smile on their face.

Bailey just made life better.  For everyone he came in contact with.

Everyone's dog is special.  Bailey was supremely special in a way I can't put into words.  He and I had a connection that started when he was 4 weeks old and crawled into my lap.  I swear, he picked me.  Numerous strangers would tell me as they watched Bailey watch me and move where I moved, "That dog sure loves you."

I didn't have to train him to walk with me.  He just did it.  It was like he knew what John and I wanted him to do, and he just did it with minimal encouragement.

Bailey worked with me in the Allagash when I was a ranger in northern Maine, he went to grad school with me (he was allowed with me in the building), then came with me to work in the woods as a forester.  He spent office days under my desk with his chin on my foot, and days in the field running through the woods, never out of sight.

Unless he saw a moose.  He had a thing for moose.

When I say we were never apart, I mean it.  He has been by my side through every move, every sadness, every joy, and every celebration.  He was always there.

So to say it is hard to be without him is an understatement.  John and I are never going to be used to him being gone.  He gave us the best 10 years of our lives.   Now a part of us is missing - it is like walking around without an arm...or more accurately, with a hole in your core.

Thank you everyone for your support and kind words - if I haven't gotten back to you it isn't because I don't appreciate it, I am truly overwhelmed at the volume of response I have gotten - like I said it is a true testament to the wonderful special boy that Bailey was.

In an attempt to focus on the best memories, and maybe heal this hole in my heart just a little - I am going to continue Muttley Monday's for the time being.  I am going to be posting some pictures from some of the good times when Bailey was with us, starting with puppy pictures.

Thank you all for your support.   I am going to start training again tomorrow - I mentally have not been able to train for the past week because of what was going on with Bailey.  I wanted to spend every last second with him that I could, soak in every single thing I could.

I miss you Bailey, Bubba, Bailey Boo, Dubba, Doo Doo, Baby Dog, my sweet Baby Boy - for the rest of my life, I will miss you.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Heart. Broken.



Bailey 1/22/01 - 5/17/11 Always in our hearts, we miss you so much my friend.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Muttley Monday - Sherpa Dog

Don't expect me to get out of this car. It is raining.
Bailey helped out on my rainy 90 mile bike ride this weekend, providing water refills, bagels, hugs, and a ride home.

Looking for some FREE compression gear?  
Don't forget to enter my Tommy Copper Compression Giveaway!! You can ALWAYS use more compression products, right? And this stuff is the BOMB.
Check it out HERE.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tommie Copper Review and Giveaway

I honestly have never tried a copper bracelet to make all of my aches and pains melt away - it really has never been on my radar.  But when I was approached by Tommie Copper to review their new compression sleeves, I have to admit, I was intrigued.  It wasn't some funky magic bracelet - it was something I already use and love (compression) with a bit of a twist.


Most of you have probably heard of compression clothing - take a walk around almost any road race or triathlon, and you will likely see people wearing some sort of compression.  It is a great way to increase performance and recover more quickly for all types of athletes.  I guess research shows some mixed results, but most people I have talked to feel that compression aids their performance through faster recovery.

I was offered the opportunity to test one of four types of compression - elbow, knee, calf, or ankle (FYI - they also have compression shirts).  I picked the calf sleeves because I have very angry calves and I am putting on a lot of miles, which tends to only make them more angry.

When I got my sleeves, the first thing I noticed was that they were super lightweight when compared to other compression sleeves I have used. They are kind of soft and luxurious actually (I have been wanting to use luxurious in a sentence for a long time).  I kind of wondered how these were going to work.

The thing that is different about Tommie Copper is that their compression garments are all constructed out of copper-infused yarn, so you get the benefits of copper therapy.  I honestly do not know a lot about copper therapy, like I said before, it wasn't something that really grabbed my attention in the past, but if something claims to make my calves happy, I am willing to give it a try.

Testing
I tried the sleeves for a 2 week period in the build part of my Ironman Lake Placid training (only 72 days away).  On these weeks, I was training between 11-15 hours/week.  When my running mileage goes up, my calves take a beating, and lately the inside of my calves had been bugging me and getting sore.  I found that the Tommie Copper sleeves helped me recover much more quickly from training, allowing me to train hard again another day.

The best example of this during the test period for me was after a 12 mile run, my inner calves were really bugging me, enough so that I was a little worried about them.  I put on the sleeves, they felt really good on, almost like I wasn't wearing anything. I think I actually forgot I had them on because I wore them the rest of the day, and then to bed.  These are that comfortable - I slept in them.

The next day, my inner calves were no longer sore.  Not kidding.  My quads were.  But not my inner calves.

Pros:
  • These are lightweight and comfortable.  You can wear these sleeves all day, even overnight.
  • So far, for me, these seem to be pretty durable.  This was a concern of mine given the fabric was so light weight, but they are holding strong with frequent use.
  • These are effective at decreasing soreness, increasing circulation, and reducing inflammation.
Cons:
They didn't make my legs look like this:
Really, I liked these a lot.  I had a hard time finding any cons with this, I was suspecting a durability issue to be honest, but found no problems.

Want a chance to WIN your own Tommie Copper compression garment?

Here is how to enter:

First, you MUST be a follower of my blog! If you are not already a follower, go ahead and click the FOLLOW button on the right. 
Then there are four ways to earn an entry - Please leave a separate comment for each entry! 
  1. Like Tommie Copper on Facebook and tell them Mandy from Caratunk Girl sent you. Tell them which compression item you would pick and why! 
  2. Follow Tommie Copper on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway.  Please include @caratunkgirl and @TommieCopper in your tweet!
  3. Visit the Tommie Copper website and sign up for their newsletter - keep updated on the latest Tommie Copper gear! 
  4. Put a link to this contest or mention this contest on your blog.
I will accept entries until Thursday, May 19th at midnight and then a winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries.  


Disclosure: I was sent this product by Tommie Copper for my honest review and did not receive any type of compensation for my positive review. All opinions expressed here are my own.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day & A Story with No Point

Hey Mom - thanks for being you and for always supporting me in everything I do.  I hope you have a fabulous day!

That's right, I had a cool Lassie lunch box for my first day of school. 
Pointless Yet Slightly Entertaining Story...

I had some pretty good rides this week, I finished off the week with an 80 miler, riding from Farmington to RangelyRangley is a super cool spot in Maine, beautiful, surrounded by lakes and mountains. 

Lets talk about the mountains:
That downhill isn't as downhill as it looks, and the uphill at mile 60 sucks.
So, it was kind of a hilly ride.  You would think I would be used to that by now, but I am not.  Miles 60-80 are kind of hard, always.  I have ridden 80+ miles a few times now, and that seems to always be the case for some reason.  I am hoping as I ride more that changes. 

You will have to trust me on the lakes.  I didn't get around to taking a picture, I was way too interested in the IGA. 

It is the very best IGA in the world. 

That is what I thought today anyway. 

I should also point out that the only thing between Farmington and the Rangley IGA...is the Rangley IGA.

That makes it that much more special.  

I was starving by the time I got there and definitely didn't want any more gel.  And I was out of Fig Newtons.

I wanted an apple.  Or pizza.  OR ICE CREAM!! They had all of it.

I stayed mostly healthy, getting an apple, water, and a box of Fig Newtons. 

Yes, a whole box.

Obviously I didn't think that out very well, a whole box of Fig Newtons 1) does not fit in my Bento Box and 2) does not fit in that back pocket of my bike jersey. 

As I sat there contemplating this problem (I was considering eating the entire box), a guy walks up to me and asks, "HEY! Are you biking?"

The bike helmet, shoes, and bike must have given it away.  Oh, what CSI has done for the masses.  The guy talked to me for a while and I ended up giving him my leftover Newtons.


I hopped on my bike, mentally ready for a glorious downhill, when I was blasted back by a vicious headwind.


Balls.  What is it with me and headwinds lately? 


It was a slog back to Farmington.  I couldn't really ride aero as much as I would like because the headwinds and cross winds were so strong I was really getting pushed around.  I am not good enough in aero position to have much control over that.

Or much control over anything.  I am pretty much out of control when in aero.

I am considering getting a "Student Driver" sticker for my bike.  If you see me, give me some space.

This week:
Swim - 3600yds
I don't want to talk about it.  I have turned into a rock. Or maybe a cat?  Enough said.

Bike - 159 miles
Run - 22 miles - including a 15 miler that went really well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Snapshot

FLASH

I am in grad school, my first day as a teaching assistant.  I am an utterly clueless nervous wreck.  One of my students comes up to pat Bailey.  He introduces himself as Hugh, and talks to me for a few seconds before the lab begins.

FLASH

Hugh and I are deep in the woods flagging a brook.  He is on one side of the brook, I am on the other. We are talking, laughing. Suddenly he says, "Mandy, get over here."

It seems urgent, so I drop my flagging half tied and hop across the brook to stand next to him.  He grabs my arm as I get there, backing up.  He and points to the space where I was just standing.  Directly above my last flag sits a gigantic papery gray white faced hornets nest, churning with the angry bastards. 

I can see them crawling on the blue flagging tape I just hung.

FLASH

Bailey is missing. He has been gone for an hour, it is getting dark and we are 30 miles into the woods.  I am freaking out.  Hugh says, "We are not leaving here until we get him back, we will get him back."  The two of us go back into the woods with flashlights in hand.

FLASH

Hugh hands me a reflective vest.  "Here, wear this if you are going to be a crazy fool and run at 4am." 

FLASH

We are in a bar in Calais, ME.  It was a wet miserable day in the woods.  Hugh is buying rounds of drinks, winding everyone up, and watching the show, laughing.

FLASH

Hugh, Adam and I are having a beer.  Hugh's eyes are twinkling, I don't think I have seen him so happy.  "So, Mandy, I wanted to tell you before the big announcement - I am engaged."

The three of us raise our glasses in celebration.

FLASH

I call Adam. My heart is racing and my hands are shaking.

"Adam. It isn't true is it?  Tell me it is not true."

"I wish I could Mandy. I really wish I could."

We talk, we cry, we even laugh a little.  I wish like hell that I wasn't 4 hours away.

FLASH

A bottle of Old Forester Whiskey sits between Tom and I, we drink straight from the bottle, taking turns.  Tom picks up the bottle and puts it down.  Then he looks at me, looks at the bottle and says, "I don't know if I can buy this anymore.  I will always think when I see this label this is what Hugh should have gotten to be, an old forester."

FLASH

I am on my bike, tears streaming down my face.  I am trying to ride out my sadness at the loss of one of my best friends, I am trying to beat it out. 

I want my body to hurt more than my heart does. 

I attack Durgin Hill like a maniac, mashing all the way up.  It helps for a little while, because instead of thinking about Hugh, I am thinking about how my legs and lungs are burning.  I am thinking of the beauty of the swollen river, slapping over the bank.  I think of the things he loved - the outdoors, nature, friends, and family - and how those are the same things I love, which is probably why we were such fast friends.

At the top of Durgin Hill I stop, breathing heavy, my legs all wobbly.  I take in the view for a second before I turn around, and head back down the hill.

I let go. 

I never do that on this hill, I always ride the brake. The hill is long and steep, and the pavement is dicey - vertical cracks, frost heaves and chunks of loose pavement litter the shoulder.  Log trucks go by and the wind from their passing shoves you around.

So you play it smart, and take it kind of easy on this stretch.

To hell with all that.  I moved a little into the road, away from all the crap, and started pedaling, pushing until the pedals were just spinning around in a useless whir.  Hugh would tell me I was crazy and to be careful.  Maybe I was trying to get his attention, who knows.

I hit 49 mph somewhere on the way down. 

I passed the 35 mph speed limit sign at the bottom of the hill going 41 mph.  There is a certain glee in that.

The road flattened and I slowed down. 

Flashes of memories come flooding back to me. 

FLASH

He is laughing at something Adam and Tom just did.

FLASH

We are driving woods roads drinking beer.

FLASH

We are eating ice cream in Ashland, not wanting to go back to the office.

FLASH

He has those damn hip waders on again.

FLASH

Gritting my teeth, I pedal on, moving persistently, relentlessly forward - it is the only thing I know to do.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Making Hay

Recovery weeks are kind of hard. 

You go from weeks of frantically squeezing in 15 hours of workouts around work and life to frantically squeezing in 9 or 10 hours.

It should be easier right?  I mean, less time dedicated to training for the week, it is all good.

But somehow, it feels harder. All the workouts are a bit shorter and it is really easy to "do it later" which can turn into "do it never."   I am a bit neurotic about getting that workout done though - I like to cross it off my calender, it feels really good.  On the 15 hour + weeks, I have no problem sticking with the program and making it work.  It never fails that work, weather, and life throws me a few curve balls on my recovery week.

Or is it me?  Don't I get those same curve balls thrown at me all the time?

I take my training seriously and sort of see each workout as a bale of hay that I am putting away in a barn, experience and fitness I am putting away for when I need to tap into it (83 days). 

This isn't my concept, I mean, I didn't come up with it or anything.  I picked it up on some forum last year on Beginner Triathlete and it stuck with me.    But there are days when I feel like I am standing there next to that bale of hay, just looking at it, not sure I  am in the mood to pick it up. 

Maybe it looks a lot heavier than the last few bales I threw in.  Or maybe I really only want to lift half a bale. 

Or maybe I just want to lay in the field and chew on a piece of straw.

Take this morning.  It was below 20 degrees, and a thick white frost covered everything outside.  I stood there looking outside holding my bike, watching as my breath came out in white puffs.

Suddenly, a later bike ride sounded pretty darn good. 

Except I have plans with friends that require me to get my ass out the door and get that hay loaded in the barn - if the hay is to be put up at all.

Twenty degrees is the perfect running temperature (IMAO), but not perfect biking temperature.  AND had I stuck with the plan my coach had laid out for me, today would have been a run (hi Ange! Sorry about that).  I had to go and switch things around for some reason that seemed completely legitimate at the time that I switched them, but now I can't remember for the life of me what it was. 

Now I was looking at a freaking heavy, wet, cold bale of hay.

So I snuggled with Bailey for a little while.  He is so warm and is the only one in the house who is happy I am up at 5 in the morning. Not that he got up to greet me or anything, but he wags his tail so I know he is happy.  I wanted to stay right there, warm fur in my face, listening to the thump, thump, thump of his tail banging on the floor.

It is days like these that I long for a training partner.  A group to bike with.  Something.  Someone else I could physically see that was on some part of this journey with me.

But I don't have that - all I have is me.  I am OK with that 99.9% of the time.  What I have is my resolve.  My stubbornness. In the end it is really up to me to get out there anyway.  I ripped myself away from Bailey and finally got out the door.

It was a cold ride, that got not much warmer towards the end.  My hands were useless claws by the end of the ride, I didn't bother to shift the last 8 miles.  Surprisingly, that is all I have to say about that.  My run off the bike was good, but slow to get moving. 

I wouldn't call this my favorite or best or most efficient workout ever, but at least I got that darned hay in the barn.

==================
This week: Recovery Week
Swim: 3200 yds
Bike: 80 miles
Run: 23 miles