Monday, June 29, 2009


I have been really tired and grumpy lately. After I got back from the Cadence Camp, which I have been meaning to write about but have added it to my quasi-trash heap of posts I have started but have not had time to finish, I was tired, which is expected. I took the next day off, stuck at work catching up. The weekend afterwards it rained and rained, and after doing a couple of 10-minute LT intervals on Friday I took another day off, and the next day I went to the gym, because as I said, most of us cyclists were comtemplating building an Ark at this point it was just so disgusting out.

So in an attempt to make up for my lazy weekend, on Monday I went to the gym and worked out like an animal for 2 hours, moving quickly and pushing heavy weights to the point that the pacer kicked in several times. I worked legs, chest, biceps and core, then went home and rode my bike to work. It took me about an hour; I felt good. On the ride home I was feeling drained and in retrospect, most likely what happened next was a result of it being my 4th hour of training legs.

When I passed in front of the old trolley depot on Island Avenue, where about 15 sets of tracks converge and the edges are imbedded in cracked and deeply rutted cement, I jumped the light to get ahead of the cars. My wheek got caught in one of the tracks which normally I would have hopped over, and to my horror me and my commuter bike were flung sprawling across the road. I jumped up to avoid getting run over, grabbed the bike and found myself in the bizarre scenario of directing the hesitant traffic that was stalled behind me with my one free arm. Not one person stopped to see if I was OK, I might add, but then I jumped up so fast most of them probably had not seen the accident. I had to carry my bike onto the sidewalk because the brakes were knocked out of whack and neither wheel was turning. After a minute of minor adjustments I was back on the bike and heading home with some bleeding road rash and my first pair of torn-up shorts.

Anyway, I rode into work 2 more days last week, and each time it took me longer and longer to get there. By Friday, after taking a detour around the site of Monday's debacle and missing a turn which brought me into the deep 'hood with the wind whipping up from a storm brewing into quickly fading daylight, it took me 1:30 to get home. I only rode 2.5 hours this weekend in an attempt to get my legs back. Today I opted not to ride in after the gym.

I have also been a bit irritable and depressed. I am not sure if it is hormones, or the fact that I have been exhausted, or the fact that my mountain bike is again in the shop, or perhaps something more anbiguous. This past year with a broken collarbone and a bum heart I was unable to race or ride hard, and I took it in stride. I even had a pacemaker put in so I could continue to train hard and maybe even race again. I think now that I am 2 months post-op and the opportunity has presented itself to ramp up the intensity and get myself into racing shape, my body and mind are telling me...

"not so fast..... chill out."

I have a good aerobic base but no high-intensity in me right now, but that could quickly come in a matter of a few months. But my body seems to be resisting my increased training load, and to be honest I have no desire to race at this point. I am feeling a bit lost this summer, as it seems like there are so many things up in the air and I don't do well without a plan. I do know that it is counter-productive to heap guilt on myself because I am not getting pcyched to schlep back out to central PA to do the Wilderness 101.

So because I have been feeling a bit low, I have decided to spread my misery a little by sharing with you a few photos from Mark's recent surgical adventure. He was asked to test out a new medical device on a cadaver. Yes, that's right, actually the arm of a cadaver. Mark agreed, after all, this was in the interest of the advancement of medical science. He did manage to get a few photos from his iphone and today I share them with you.

someone's sawed off arm sliced open like the mango I had for dessert today, yum

Afterwards I asked Dr. Mantell what it was like. He said it was totally weird, because instead of blood there was formaldehyde in the veins, the arm was cold, (not warm as he was used to), and the tissue was not in an orderly fashion as it would be in a live arm, it was all jumbled up and this made it harder to do the surgery. He said he was thankful that he did not have a burger for lunch or he might have been queasy.

"Really?" I asked, quite surprised. I mean I could not even look closely at the second photo without some discomfort, but here was the Clinical Associate Professior of Surgery and Best of Philly surgeon Mark Mantell MD saying it grossed him out.

I will spare you the litany of arm jokes that ensued. You know.... armageddon, the surgery cost and arm and a leg, and on and on.

I am still tired, but my depression has lifted after yesterday's gardening. I am not dwelling on too much today, just looking forward to a nice dinner for our anniversary and even some sort of well-earned chocolate dessert.

Monday, June 22, 2009


someone is quite happy to be graduating from pre-K.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

the Holter monitor

X stapped my electrodes on tightly with adhesive tape and we set up to replicate an episode. I hit the hill at Bryn Mawr avenue like I was possessed. We flew past these other riders like they were standing still. X hung in there with me almost to the top. My heart rate went to 165, then 168, and I was sure I would have an episode. It went to 177. Still no episode. 177, damn I sprinted up that hill. We discussed the next hill I would try. That was a longer, steeper climb in Gladwyne. My heart rate went to 174. No dice. I could not believe it. Maybe it would not happen anymore! So I did not kill it on anymore climbs until we got to the one by Radnor High, my alma mater no less. I ran out of road before I could keep my heart rate up long enough. And X was being a dick so we yelled at each other as was we were descending Matson Ford at 35mph. Anyway, I decided to really push it up river road. I flew up and watched my heart rate climb into the 160s and then into the 170s, it did not happen, and then I was going downhill, so I sprinted as fast as I could--and boy it hurt because it was about 100 degrees out, and finally my heart rate dropped--from 172, to 83. X caught up to me in the parking lot and I told him my heart was at 83. "Its so weird, I just don't want to stop riding, but I don't want to push it either." But I was not satisfied with that, because it was not the classic episode. My heart rate took a full 2 seconds to drop, and it only stayed down for 1 minute before it shot back up to 132. So I started hitting the gas where Shamont hits Umbria, and I kept turning it on until my heart rate, with X trying to stay on, until my heart rate was between 160 and 170 for 2 minutes, I mean I was giving it everything I had and it hurt. Finally--boom--I felt that telltale rush, like an adrenalin rush, and my heart palpitated, and then I looked down and my heart rate was 81. X came up and I coasted, and I told him what was going on. I told him when I turned the corner at the bottom of Main Street was where it usually popped back up again. Sure enough, it stayed around 80 until I turned that corner, 3:20 later, and then it shot up to 127. So we stopped in Manayunk, and got a water ice, and I had to hear that the water ice that I had been so excited to introduce him to (and I bought) was not as good as Ritas. He did apologize for his behavior in Radnor though, guess that's something. We rode back slowly, stretched, and a few hours later I was able to take the Holter off and shower, yay.

[Uploaded 7/20/2008 8:23:36 PM]

Saturday, June 13, 2009

struggling to understand

7. 12 08

I set out to do a recovery ride but I was bitter about it because I was missing class and I "knew" that my heart was not going to give out on me during an hour class. So I did the usual main line route, and as I was slowly winding up Falls road this Sturdy Girl passed me going up the hill. I did not care, after all I was warming up and doing an easy ride but I looked up and noticed her slowing down halfway up the hill after passing me. So I slowly followed up the hill and saw her at the light at City Line. I rode about 10-15 feet behind her for 4-5 miles or so, not close enough to get her draft. Then on the winding climb of Bryn Mawr Ave I set out doing the climb and felt really good. Climbing is much easier now--so I stayed behind her nipping at her heels and she picked up the pace a little as I got closer. I watched my power climb and stay around 200 watts, 4b, and then it happened, almost at the top of the climb. I felt a fluttering in my chest and felt like I was blowing up, but it was not in my legs. She turned and went a different way and I did the rest of the ride in recovery. I was really spent after that. Ran into Max in Conshe and then the entire Sturdy Girl team rode by as well, with whats-her-name in the pack. Funny. My heart rate was only at 157 when this happened. And it was only 26 minutes into the ride, not 2.5 hours like the other times. I wish I knew what was going on.

[Uploaded 7/12/2008 10:58:50 PM]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

commuting via bike to save the planet

Today was pretty cool because I completed my first round-trip via bike from 3434 to work in Lester. I used to commute about 3 days a week to our old location in Cinnaminson, NJ, primarily when I had torn my hamstring and was out for the 2006 season. Yes, I end up sitting out just about every other season for one thing or another; torn hamstring in 2006, broken collarbone & heart arrythymia in 2008, and now in 2009 with a heart that suddenly and unexpectedly works with the help of [insert pacemaker contest winner's winning entry here] , I am not sure what to do with myself as I slowly climb out of my hole and back into some semblance of racing form. Some would say I should just hang it up and make use of those ovaries that God gave me but I'm not sure I am ready for all that nonsense; besides, one thing our overpopulated and overpolluted world does NOT need right now is another kid. Furthermore, I am having issues with an incontinent elder dog and I can't even imagine dealing with diapers and poo.

Anyway, um, regarding the bike route to work, it's awesome! Half of the route I am on a bike path, meaning there is 50% less chance that I will get hit by a car. I cut through Fairmount Park near the Mann Center (this time did not get lost, see below), then I go west to 63rd street, take that south through the 'hood (don't love this part of the ride I must confess) and then I hit the Cobbs Creek Parkway and it is smooth sailing until that one crappy 4-5 block section of Island Avenue where I have to hop my bike sideways over deep rutted trolley tracks and gigantic potholes on a stretch of road with no shoulder and some ornery drivers. I might be able to figure a way around that though.

On my first attempt last week I got lost in Fairmount Park because I neglected to take into account the one-way roads when I was google- mapping it. With my tail between my legs I set down the bike and walked into this cool-looking historic building right by the Mann and sheepishly told them I was lost. This woman came out from behind the counter and went over the directions with me 6 times, even telling me the safest route through the 'hood. She lives in the 'hood I was about to ride into and I was very touched by the care she showed me. Anyway, I googled the place and it looks really cool; I would like to go to lunch there sometime. Check out a review here.

I love how bike commuting suddenly multiplies the hours in my day; as my formerly wasted commuting time in the car now becomes training time. I can come home and feed the dogs, cook dinner, relax in my garden, and feel good about the fact that I have just reduced my carbon footprint. A little. At least it's one more small step towards a sustainable world.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
-attributed to Lao-tzu (c 604-c 531 bc), founder of Taoism

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday June 6th, 2009


Today I did the gladwyne-villanova-paoli loop the old way I used to do it with more climbs. I felt good and I killed it. Rode for 3 hours hard (as hard as I can take right now) and even though my PT showed me blocking several times, I did not block, the PT gets confused sometimes when I am paced; I can feel when I block. So since they adjusted my pacer for the 5th time last friday, this was my only real test since the class this week was microintervals and I did not block so it seems like they have it ironed out. Awesome. I afraid to celebrate yet, I got burned the last time.

[Uploaded 6/8/2009 10:06:02 PM]

oh soooo depressing

Jamie and Holden Comeau, pro triathlete who sometimes pretends to be a mechanic. Here he is pretending to be a clown and doing a damn good job.

My beloved Yeti, here being used as a shirt rack and tire hanging device instead of it's intended use as my racing & riding bike. It's my own damn fault for not having it serviced while I was laid up for 6 weeks following heart surgery; but I had bigger fish to fry; namely recovering and whining about it.

Besides, I was short on coin and could not afford my pricey Scrub rotors.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

how my co-workers see me

Pearls Before Swine
Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis

(please click on picture for full strip)

the 6 week milestone at last

Yesterday marks my 6 week anniversary with my [insert name for implanted medical device here] This means I no longer have any restrictions such as raising my left arm over my head, or only lifting 20 lbs on that side. And the best part...I am allowed to ride my poor neglected mountain bike again. I am much less sore and my scar has healed up nicely too, as you can see in this before and after pic.

I feel really good and am slowly getting back into shape after getting my ass whooped on the Cadence Women's ride/Quadzilla's DirtyDozen on Saturday. Today I am going to ride into work and I am really excited about not wasting commuting time in the car, even if I have to dodge scattered thunderstorms and irate motorists who think I should be riding on the sidewalk or on the glass-strewn edge of the road. My only problem now is that my Yeti, which has been parked at Cadence awaiting my Scrub racing rotors and Juicy7 brake rebuild kits, is now waiting for organic brake pads because the composite material on the Scrub rotors requires organic resin pads. Come to think of it; the Stans lightweight aluminum rotors I was using before were supposed to be ridden with organic pads too; this may be why I tore them to shreds in 6 months. Anyway, the bottom line is I now have medical clearance to ride but I am f%$ked because even of those brake pads come in today, Jamie and Woody are slammed, this being race weekend in Philadelphia. So, despite my gift of 2 bottles of Maudite and 2 bottles of Delirium Tremens, I don't think they are going to get a chance to work on her for awhile.

It's cool though; my new motto is "let it go." Life is all about patience for me lately; and that drill has gotten a bit easier since I have stopped medicating with caffeine. And if my only problem right now is that my mountain bike is still in the shop; well then I guess life is pretty good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

warren at the woodmere!

sounds like a perfect pre-bike race gathering.....who wants to carpool?

Monday, June 1, 2009

name-my-pacemaker contest

I need a name for this thing. I am sick of writing:





my little device

or some such crap. Some of you probably think the solution to that is for me to just stop writing about it. I will consider that. But in the meantime I would like to come up with a name for this little Medtronic Adapta that suits me. Anyone care to submit ideas? If your name is chosen it will land you a $20 gift certificate to Amazon, or, if I really like you, an invitation to dinner. You might want to take me up on that after I am done being gluten, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and animal free. A