I swam across the Hudson River!

*Other* people PAY $1.50 to cross the Hudson. I swam across!

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Low 80, light breeze, water was in the mid 70. Very pleasant. Child was in the hands of Grandparents and "Splash in" time was 11:50, so I hung around, had a nice breakfast and then drove 3 miles to the Newburgh Waterfront.

Check in was busy but orderly. At Station 1, we checked in, at station 2, turned in any remaining donations, Station 3, turned in emergency contact form and received swim cap. Station 4 was optional purchasing (clif bars, sunscreen) and bag turn in - they were going to bus our stuff across the River while we were swimming.

I had someone write the name of my sponsors on me:

Yeah, I totally borrowed a page from Nascar and my son's markers.

At 11:40 they called us to gather for the safety briefing. There were a few words said by the organizers and Pete Seeger sang "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "This Land is Your Land." Honestly, I was surprised to see him. His wife, Toshi, who was the second half of his soul, passed away very recently. The swim was her baby and this year's 10th anniversary swim was dedicated to her memory. I thought he would be home still grieving. I choked up a bit at his dedication to local causes.

Anyway, they called us in waves of 50, but no organization by cap color or number or anything like that. Just let 50 at a time through the gate onto the dock. Then someone shouted Go!

The water was pleasantly warm, but recent storms meant there was alot of flotsom in the water. The Hudson is a very silty river and once again, I had mild anxiety staring down into the dark water. I could not even see my HANDS. Seriously, they're like 2 feet away and I dont know where they are. But this is not a race, so I backstroked a fair portion of it. I had fun staring into the clouds and thinking "That one looks like a crab and that one looks like a catcher's mitt and that one looks like...."

About halfway across I really started to question myself. Fortunately the clouds were my distraction and its just a matter of keep going, keep going. Mild chop meant I got several snootfuls of water and I idly wondered why I splashed more with THAT hand than with this hand. I also had a foggy goggle problem. I grabbed onto one of the kayaks and did the Spit thing - but they fogged up again about 20 min later.

Current is also an issue in Hudson vs other open swim locations. You had to angle yourself "just so". The kayakers were on top of giving us directions, but my vision without my glasses is *terrible* so I kept zigging and zagging. On the Beacon side you have to dodge a few boats and the water gets pretty cold from the local streams pouring into the River.

Pride shows
There's a festival going on the Beacon side. Food, TShirts, petitions to end fracking. But we head over to a local diner for some serious salad action. I was not hungry again at dinner and had only a 1/2 PBJ to keep my son company.

This was an untimed event. They use a timing chip program, but its really to make sure that everyone who goes IN the water comes OUT. I have no idea how long it took, other than longer than I expected. Still, an accomplishment for me, and for the people who work to improve the River and reduce pollution everywhere.

The Hudson is a Transportation route for 364 days of the year. But for one shining and glorious day, the Coast Guard hands it back to the people and it is a playground for swimmers who just want to get from HERE to THERE.

In summary, 'twas a lovely event. I recommend it for next year.
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Child makes a new friend

Butterflies are apparently cheap dates.  One sip of red Gatorade and they'll be your friend for life.  The bad news is their lifespan is measured in weeks.  Its a good thing Gatorade is relatively cheap.

From the Museum of the Hudson Highlands "Butterfly" weekend.
Picking Avocado

A Fine Day to Bake Some Bacon

Bacon??!? I can hear the teeming millions gasp. Bacon is verboten. Its evil incarnate! Delicious, fatty, smokey bacon....

Bacon is definitely a "sometimes food" I only buy it 1-2x per year. And today was a perfect day to handle the prep. Its cool and dampish, great excuse for firing the oven.

1) on a rimmed baking sheet, put a cookie cooling rack.
2) lay out the bacon. Top with a second cooling rack.
3) In a cold oven, bake the bacon. 350 for ~30 min for slightly chewy bacon, or for "storing" partially cooked in the freezer. Go to 400 for super crisp bacon ready to eat (a great trick for brunch parties when you are feeding a crowd)

The fat drips off the bacon. Once you drain it on paper towels, you have the "healthiest" bacon possible. Its still a sometimes food, but you can feel better about eating it those times.

Bonus: no messy bacon splatters on stovetop or microwave!

For my southern friends: you can save the bacon grease in the normal way. (My MIL puts a bit on top of her chicken before roasting it. AMAZING.)

Store cooled bacon in the freezer and reheat for 1-2 min in the pan. Or I'll put a few pieces on top of the toast and let it reheat in the toaster oven.
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Scenes from a Camera Download

Which I obviously dont do often enough.  Pictures are in chronological order beginning at the end of Feb and finishing now, end of April 2013.

100 Days of Kindergarten project and trip report all rolled into one!  End of February

The Adams annual lawn and garden show.  Mid March-ish

Last and only snowman of the season.  Hey, when life hands you a snow day.... End of March.

Easter Egg Hunt at Chicken Chick's house.  Notice the blur of the background.  He was moving FAST!

Geocaching at the Museum Village gears.  I know that cache is around here somewhere....

Hiking to the top of Snake Hill.

Family day at the archery range.  Safety was discussed.  Alot. This was just Tuesday, end of April.

Hope you enjoyed the scenes from our life!

I want a pony

Recently I had to call some 800 #s and talk to people about semi important things.  (Damn you adulthood!)

At the end of our conversation, the person asked "Is there anything else I can do for you?"

So I asked for a pony.
summer playground

The Golden Rule

For those of you that were absent from Sunday School that day, its: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I like to think of myself as a nice person.  I try to be polite and reasonable to everyone I meet...even telemarketers and Jehovah's Witnesses.  Yes, we all hate that they call us or knock on our doors.  But I cannot bring myself to be rude to someone who is just doing their job.

Telemarketing is a terrible, thankless job.  They probably have every name screamed at them, phones slammed in their ears.  But I just cant bring myself to stop thinking about the human being on the other end of the line.  I tell the telemarketers "I know  you are just doing your job, but please, no thank you. I have no interest in your product.  No thank you.  No thank you, please remove my name from your list."  They are required to keep going for 3 nos, so once you get there,  They hang up pretty quickly.

My MIL and I were discussing it once and she said "Well, they should just get a different job!"  Having just come off of 2 years on unemployment looking for work....I have a little more sympathy.  Sometimes, that's the best job they can get for now.

The various religious affiliations that knock on my door with more regularity are trickier.  I live in a lower middle class area with closer together houses and flat streets with little traffic.  We get someone about once a month.  Again, these are people, in many cases my neighbors from the area.   They want to talk with me, but I cannot bear to be rude to them.  DH says I talk too much, but they are just enthusiastic about their relationship with God and want to share.  Didn't you rave about that movie or restaurant or store the other day?

Being utterly secure in my relationship with God also gives me the armor to tell them "I believe that there are great truths in all books, not just the Bible.  I believe in one God, and all religions are just different paths to understanding.  I believe in respect for all people and I respect what you are doing, but its not what I want."  The last set of door knockers were two young Mormon men, neither of which was wearing a hat on a super cold day in January.  So then I got all Mom on them and asked where were their hats and gloves on this chilly day. 

What inspired me to write this - well, its something I was thinking about for a while, but then Will Wheaton posted about his experience at MegaCon including this line "it’s important to me to treat people the way I want to be treated." And I am reminded that I am not the only one out there.

Incidentally, his post has an story (unrelated to this), if it doesnt bring tears to your eyes, I'm not sure you are human.
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Because I could!

When Sandy blew through, it knocked down a major tree in front of my MILs.  DH paced it out to be 39 feet.  In a God-Hand moment, it missed her roof, garage, porch and powerlines.  That's right folks: it settled gracefully to the ground and didnt hurt anything --- well other than itself.

When we cleaned it up for her, we cut off the top 6 feet for someone to use as a Christmas tree.  But nobody wanted it.

So I decided to prank my sister.  (How often do you get to pull off a GOOD prank?)  DH screwed some boards on the bottom and I invested $10s in timer and some lights.

When she came home, she didnt know if it was her house.  Seriously, wouldnt you be surprised if a tree suddenly sprouted on your lawn?  Turns out she loved it and may never put a tree *inside* her house again.

Brings a whole new meaning to "Put the Christmas tree by the windows where the neighbors can see it."

summer playground

Where have I been?

I just checked the forecast for Puerto Rico.  It was like a photocopy every day: mid80s, 20% chance of rain, partially cloudy.

In other words, perfect.

But enough of where I am going.  Where I have Been?

September to October, I had a leave replacement job.  Wonderful, restorative, I didn't want to leave.  Darned the lady who wanted her job back!

October I ran my first 10K, 58 minutes.  I think I could have done better if not for the aforementioned job.  Did I mention it was a solid 1 hour commute?  I still didnt want to leave.

November/ December were normal holiday chaos.  I was also sad being back to non-working.

December I interview and am offered a job (that I eventually started in January) as a teacher's aide.  Its not ideal, but its 3 miles from my house.  Somehow, I still dont find as much time to work out as I should.  I took swim lessons and found I was a pretty good swimmer.  But it forced me and DH to negotiate some time to myself in the evenings.  He has his shooting matches, I'll be going to the gym.

This has been a long, cold winter.

Hence the reason I'm going to PR next week.  I hope to blog more often.  Have a few in mind (my son's favorite soup!).  But the world will continue to spin.
summer playground

Monroe Middletown "Just Tri It!" Triathlon

My last race of the season and basically, I did it because the location is fairly close to where I grew up. I had heard a few "friends of friends" talk about it, so I was hopeful there would be someone I knew to race with. Turns out, nobody, but that's ok. Sister once again performed Race Support because she was afraid that doing this one so close on the heels of West Point, I would fall over and need to be carted away. Not the case. Because I am BOSS.


Heck, why NOT start with a cheesecake shot? I'm still trying to decide if my arms look flabby or fabulous. Moral support welcome in the comments.

Swim 0.3 miles in 15 min. The lake was pleasantly warm, but it was full of weeds and the bottom was mucky. Every stroke, there were ghostly weeds trailing down your body. Major yuck factor.

Just as I was going into T1, the battery in my camera died and my sister took the remaining pictures on her phone. Fortunately her cell has a better camera than my camera.

Bike leg was hilly. 13 miles in 1:03. I *so* gotta work on that.

If you ever wondered what a transition area looks like in a triathlon/ duathlon.  This is T2.

Here I am, ripping out of transition screaming "I have swedish fish! I CAN DO ANYTHING!!"

Run was dead flat along a rail trail. Curiously, I achieved my best 5k time ever: 31 min. Seriously, who does a PR after the first 2 legs of a triathlon?? Clearly the universe is speaking to me.

Finish line!

(Is that a muscle in my shoulder? I'm going to belive it is)

As mentioned before: PR 1:55 (I was in the 4th wave so clock is off of my actual time). When I looked at the splits, the time came from the slightly shorter swim, so my performance, while awesome (modesty!) is understandable.

Food for thought.  This was a small triathlon: 171 entrants.  Within my age category the 3rd place finisher was 1:41.  So that means all that separates me from a cheap plastic trophy is 14 minutes.

Places for improvement are....ta da! Bike time. I'm half a mile into the thing and the leaders are already coming BACK. They do the 13 miles in 38 MINUTES. Insanity. But I think with some focused work, I could get 13 miles from one hour down to ... oh... 46 minutes.

Because I have swedish fish.  And I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to.


West Point Triathlon

I live a hop, skip & jump from one of the oldest military institutions in the United States: West Point. I've been to concerts, the Museum (largest collection of arms & armory in the Western Hemisphere!) Mother's Day at the hotel and rambled around the grounds. I have even volunteered to be a practice cadet as the older ones prepare to welcome the newbies.

This was a totally new experience.

Camp Buckner is the beautiful location where newbie cadets have "Beast Barracks" where they are *broken* of their civilian life and turned into soldiers. Its basically boot camp.
Why do the swim buoys always look so far away?

Even though we ended up starting late, I felt that this Triathlon was very well organized. There were *hordes* of people in a very small entry way, but it all worked well. My whole family was there to support me, which I loved. Egotistical? Maybe. But they know I have been working towards a goal, so its nice to see the whole package put together.)

Check out my DIY Tri Suit. The top is the Athleta Energy Tank

(Male readers may want to skip this) I have enormous 9009s. Getting into and out of this top is a challenge, but once I'm in and adjusted, I can run in this without a separate bra. There's a nifty pocket in the back for iPod or whatever. (cant use iPod in contests, but nice feature for regular workouts)

Bottom is the Athleta Point Break Bikini Short

I also own the top which supports enough for jogging workouts. But not in public. My midsection still isnt ready for prime time.

Back to our *hero*
Feeling good
Giving low-5s to a group of kids on the sidelines.

There were loads of people on the course. Here, there were a group of kids right on the swim exit with hands out for low-5s as we head to transition. You see the blue cap in the foreground, she is from the wave AFTER me. Time: 20:59, same, even though 50m longer. Also, the open water practice really helped, I was not intimidated staring into the dark, but I still did about half the course as a backstroke because I struggled with freestyle for that long.

Then into transition and out onto the course. Before this tri, I did some nutritional experiments and settled on Swedish Fish for quick carbs and 50/50 Powerade in my waterbottle. I had frozen the Powerade the night before and topped it with water in the morning. These were resting in my bike. I had put two small piles of Fish on my towel (about 5) and just shoved these in my mouth and chewed as I got helmet, socks, sneakers and out of transition. T1: 2:44

Bike course was closed and coyote free. Not kidding, on the way in, we saw some guy cleaning up the roadkill which included a dead, stiff coyote. Mad props: we thank the volunteers that hand us water and give directions, but I'm really happy that there is someone who I was NOT able to thank, but who took care of something really important.

Hills on the bike were not as bad as Hunter Mountain, which meant I was faster overall, even though the course was slightly longer (about an extra half mile)
Bike time 1:03:55   Can you spot Child? He's wearing a red sweatshirt in the background.

T2 1:13, I forgot to eat my second pile of fish. It was fine.

Running has become my strong suit, which surprises the HECK out of me. This was a hilly course, and I'm *thrilled* that my hill workouts are showing benefit. This was probably the area that I improved the most. Instead of walking 2/3 of the course, I only walked about 5 min total and ran the rest, uphills and down. I had a strong finish and felt GREAT! Organizers had about 3 different aid stations and I hit the electrolytes twice. Which also may have helped.

The woman in pink started after me, stopped for a pee and *still* smoked me by a solid 3 minutes.


At the end. PR on the run portion: 32:11 Color me surprised.

Total time: Exactly 2:01. This was a HUGE improvement on 2:32 for Hunter Mountain. The course was slightly longer (although flatter). I cant pinpoint ONE single thing that aided my improvement. It was only 6 weeks between. Items that definitely helped me (in no particular order)
1) Swedish Fish to avoid the Bonk
2) Hill Workouts
3) Long Runs/ Rides (I didnt do *many* of these, but a few definitely helped)
4) Gear that I didnt have to change.

For y'all out there considering or are working towards a Tri goal, the first 3 are recommended and cheap. The gear is expensive but worth it if you consider continuing in the sport.

Epilogue: I've got the gear & the training. I'm going to do another one this weekend. It will be my last Tri for the season as I GOT A JOB! Temporary, 6 weeks, but it cuts out going to Sandy Hook on Sept 9th. I'm considering going for a 10K in October and then a Turkey Trot 5K in November (or a DIY Duathalon while the turkey is in the oven). Then I'm going to back off, do some Zumba cross training and hopefully start cross country skiing this winter.

I probably will NOT go back to Hunter Mountain for distance reasons. There is another Tri closer to home around the same time next year.

Pied Piper Moment: My cousin has expressed an interest in the sport and a good friend of mine is giving it some serious consideration.  I'm heading up a very small movement.

Lastly: The real reason I started these shennaigans: I'm down to 158.

You want more pictures?? and search my bib #841.