Christmas Traditions

So here in the Rob-and-Lorena Candrian home, we don't have many Christmas Traditions established yet. Back in my formative years, my family would always write letters to Santa, which we would then burn in the fireplace out of spite for the commercializtion of Christmas. Take that Santa! Just kidding - it was supposed to be an old German tradition, and the ashes would travel to Santa at the North Pole where he would get your letter without any socialistic government-run postal service interference (although this website claims that it is a British tradition. Who are you going to believe, my mom or the internet? We all know the internet cannot lie). Lately (I think ever since I was about sixteen), a Candrian tradition has been to sleep in (awesome), eat breakfast (with special "braided bread") and then open presents. That way, Christmas doesn't end until noon or so. Amy didn't like this one when it first started, since I think she was nine, but we are all fans now. I like this tradition a lot, but we will see how well it works once kids start showing up at our Christmas festivities. Another Candrian tradition is/was to play the "left and right" game, which we would always do Christmas night at my Grandma's house. We have kept this one alive, in memory of my awesome Gram.

So far Lorena and I only seem to have one Christmas tradition of our own, but I am trying to get a second started (more about that in a minute). Our tradition is that we always go and see the Nutcracker. This gives us an excuse to get dressed up and go out on a fancy date. I imagine it is good practice for when I will get to go to all the fancy diplomatic parties I am sure to attend once we get overseas! Lorena likes to pretend that she is a ballerina (She claims that this was supposed to be her calling in life, but she missed it; so now she performs her ballet on tarmac, aka bike racing!). We have gone to the nutcracker together every year that we have known each other, so this year was trip #7 (The first nutcracker was our third or fourth date together)! Besdies getting dressed up all sanzy, and Lorena looking extra hot, we also went to a fancy dinner at Tosca, an Italian restaurant in D.C that thankfully has a "pre-theater" menu. It was super good, but a bit pricey, but with the theater menu you get two courses and dessert for a lower fixed price, so whatever - it was a good splurge. For my first course I had some pasta with rabbit. Take that Peter Cottontail. It was really good. Second course was a risoto, which was also good, but I liked the rabbit dish better. The best part of the meal was the dessert where I had some tiramisu, and Lorena had some Italian-style doughnuts. Both were delish. We also drove downtown in our new car, and used the valet, so we were definitely ballin' big-time - 'cause thats how we roll.

The Nutcracker, as usual, was cool. I'll be honest, I actually like the music, its pretty relaxing. The dancing - eh. But this one in D.C. (at the Warner Theater) is kinda cool because they throw in little bits of Americana into the story, i.e. the Nutcracker is George Washington, the rats are the British, they sail down the Potomac, etc. So that is our fist set tradition.

I am also trying to start a new tradition this year. It is called the Christmas Beard. Basically it involves me not shaving between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Hence the name "Christmas Beard." I kinda tried last year, but gave up after three weeks because I looked too stupid. After my initial failure, my Dad told me that you have to wait at least four weeks (and he is a former beard expert) so I didn't shave at all the week before Thanksgiving and this is what you get on December 22nd:

Not perfect, but I'm not totally embarrassed to go out in public either. It doesn't quite show up as well in this picture, but it is super red, so I would have made an awesome pirate. Anyway, I think this is a new tradition that is here to stay, much to Lorena's dismay/bemusment. Not to disappoint anyone out there in blogdom who is looking forward to seeing this sexy beard in person, but per the new tradition, it comes off on Christmas. If any of you guys want to join me next year (ladies, you are not invited) feel free.

Finally, because I ate there with my buddy Nick tonight (Lorena flew back to Utah today. I have to work on Christmas Eve and Christmas, so I will join her for a little vacation in Utah and California on Friday) I have to post about what is probably the best pizza in D.C., if not all of America. It is called Two Amy's and it is excellent. When Lorena and I ate there a few weeks ago she described her food as "beautiful." So there you go...




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Costa Rica it is...

The people have spoken. So I guess I better start planning...
Anybody who is interested in coming with us, shoot me an email!

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I will soon be old...

To celebrate my impending oldness, we have decided to go on a trip in March, when Lorena has Spring Break. But I am having a hard time deciding where we should go. We now have friends spread out around the world, so I am asking for your input on what a nice, get out of cold D.C. trip would be. Requirements include the ability to go to the beach, surf, and bike. If you don't like the choices in the poll, put something in the comments. And if you have been to any of the listed places, and have recommendations, feel free.

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Candrian Thanksgiving Fun
Rob and I were lucky enough to have the whole Candrian family together in DC this Thanksgiving. We didn't even have to step out of our apartment this year to enjoy the family get together and engorge ourselves on turkey.
pic #1: Just a little explanation to my inlaws as to why the guest bath was so difficult to get sparkly clean. (Rob decided our bathtub was a creative way around the fact that we don't have a hose to clean off our bikes....As the person who cleans the bathroom, I already knew the reason why people don't use their tubs to clean their bikes. :))
pic #2: Our Thanksgiving Day hike to Great Falls.
pic #3: Entertainment. I couldn't believe it when I first saw someone kayaking down this waterfall. Now I have another goal to aspire to in my future.
pic #4: Our black Friday excursion to Annapolis.

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Bailout part deux


I'm just wondering, but did the railroads, wagon makers, steam ship builders, and purveryors of old-timey penny farthing bikes ask for a bailout when it became painfully obvious that they were making a product whose time had passed? I know the rail-roads employed a lot of people back in the day, but I don't think they asked for a bailout when Mr. Ford's model T started rolling around. So congratulations GM, Ford, and Chrysler. No one likes your cars, most of them are ugly and have crap reliability, and people in So Cal definitely need more hummers (no jokes please), so I definetly think the government should give you money to keep building more. And please, don't just build more cars, build biggers ones. And guarantee lots of big benefits to the Unions! Hooray Unions! (and now some guy with a pseudo-italian accent is going to come knock on my door and I may never post again)

Also, wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we were told if we didn't give the financial industry an astronical sum, we would all spontaneously combust, or have some similar horrendous fate befall the free world. And it had to be given immediately. No waiting, no questions asked. Well, they are still trying to figure out what to do with the money, and we are all still here. So, keep that in mind when they discuss how GM has to have money - NOW!

And if anyone hasn't heard the rumors, this lady might be my new boss... So I got that going for me, which is nice.


P.S. If anyone out there is thinking: "Oh, Rob just complains about problems, he doesn't offer any solutions." You are wrong, I have tons of good ideas. Just wait until the Candrian 2032 campaign starts rolling...

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President Obama

I really liked this article from the London Times: "Calm down! He's not President of the World"
Many people have high hopes for our President. I wonder how realistic they are? If he lives up to half of the expectations that people around the world have, then I will be very impressed.

In my final election commentary (I know, there was so much!) big props to Alaska for re-electing a recently convicted FELON! You Alaskans are either very forgiving (and quick about forgiving, too) or you might not have the best political judgment...

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GO VOTE!!!

Red, Blue, White, Green, Yellow, Orange, whatever color you are for, go vote. If you don't vote you have no right to complain about our government. And if your chosen candidate happens to lose, don't fret. Campaigning for 2012 will probably start in about two weeks, so you can just find another person to get excited about. After all, what would the TV news stations have to report on if there wasn't an impending election?

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pre-concert smirk...(that is a toothpick in my mouth in case anyone is wondering)

COLDPLAY

Lorena and I spent All Hallows Eve at the Coldplay concert. They rocked. Here was the setlist.
Before the show we went and had dinner at Zatinya. It was really good. So, great concert, good food, but no trick-or-treating candy for us. That's okay, we still had fun. My favorite song off the new album is "42" and Lorena's is "Strawberry Swing" both of which were played at the concert. I also really dig "Death and all his friends." The grande finale was "Yellow" which is still my all-time favorite, and also the first Coldplay song I heard. This was actually the first concert that we have been to since moving to D.C. How pathetic! We are old. Either that or we just waste our money on other things (i.e. broken carbon fiber bikes, Roth IRA's, vacations, and other things that that will only leave us with memories).

Here is a small snippet of what the concert was like. Sorry I didn't record the whole song, but I wanted to rock out with Lorena for the second guitar change (which is my favorite part.) If Coldplay is coming to your town, and you aren't too cool to admit that they are an awesome band, then I would recommend going.

Anyway, that was our halloween, although Lorena did revive her infamous "Ms. Washington County" outfit for school. I spent most of the day sleeping, since I had worked all night. No costume for me. But whatever - if I'm not getting free candy then I don't want to dress up anyway.


video

p.s. Please, no comments about my lack of cinematic ability. I'm well aware!

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The Candrian Olympics

Back in August, while we were watching Track and Field in the Olympics (always my favorite part of the Olympics, btw) Lorena proclaimed that she would beat me in a 400m dash. I don't know what inspired her over-exuberance, but not only did she claim that she would beat me, but she started talking trash. I patiently and humbly tried to explain to her that 400m was still within my range of speed, and that, although I may be pushing 30, back-in-the-day I was pretty freakin' fast (3rd in Region in the 100 in high school? Come on Babe, you aren't dealing with some slow white guy.) This quickly spiraled into another one of our infamous "bets." We would have a 400m dash, and the loser would owe the winner one hour of massage.

Over the next several weeks Lorena proceeded to run her mouth. Although she readily admitted that I am still faster then everyone in my soccer leagues, and she saw how I completed the tri, she whole-hartily claimed to believe that 400m was simply too far for my unnatural speed.

On Tuesday, the race was on. We met at the Potomac School after Lorena's Cross-Country teams practice (she is the assistant coach). Almost all of the team stuck around to watch the big race. After warming up (I've never been a big fan of the "warm-up," I always feel like I am just wasting energy better saved for the race) the other assitant coach told Lorena that he thought she would win by at least 10 yards. WHAT? First Lorena talking smack and now the other coach? Are you guys seriously trying to inspire me to embarass my wife in front of her team? Hey, if thats what you want, that is what you will get. I'm just saying...

So I gave Lorena the option of which lane she would want. She strategically choose lane 2, putting my in lane 3. She didn't want me to be able to see her "theoretically" catching me on the inside. Poor girl didn't know what she was in for. I told Lorena that I would only need to run at about 70% for the first 300m, and then I would just turn it on and blow her away over the last 100m. She thought I would hit the wall at 300. Guess who was right?

It was kind of fun having her students spread around the track yelling "Go Candrian." Although I guess the cheering didn't really help Lorena that much.

Needless to say, I will be enjoying that hour long massage tonight, after my soccer game. Like taking candy from a baby.

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Seen the new one dollar bill yet?

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This is the new guy in charge of the Giants. His name is Bill Neukom. He is the new managing General Partner. I am worried. He is violating one of my three personal rules about male grooming:
We could play another guessing game to see if anyone can figure out what rule he is violating, but I will just give them to you.

I do not trust any man with:
1. A moustache
2. A bow tie
3. A pony tale.

I really don't trust anyone wearing two of the three, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone with all three, but if I did, I don't know what I would do. I would either really really trust him, because they would all negate themselves, or I would run away, scared because of his complete disregard for all fashion norms whatsoever.

For some reason I don't think the Giants championship drought will be ending any time soon with a guy with a polka-dot bow tie in charge.

If you have any personal rules regarding grooming/fashion, feel free to post them in the comments.

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Podium Girls
(picture from Kevin Dillard)
The next best thing to racing is playing mock podium girl at a race. Anna's only-child syndrome must have been fully satisfied after a long day of performing and attention seeking at the Kelley Acres cyclocross race. I can't say I wasn't satisfied from all the attention either. I just can't blame it on OCS (only-child-syndrome).
Top Ten Highlights of the day, in no particular order, except for #1:
1. teammate Jeanette's classy new cat slippers (meow!)
2. a strip of toilet paper stuck to my high heel without me realizing it (making my white trash facade not 100% facade)
3. the stares as I came out of the porta-john in my dress, high heels, and tiara
4. sleeves on my dress so big that they hardly fit through the doorway of the porta-john
5. watching and cheering the races
6. presenting 1st place award to Jeremiah Bishop (get outta my way, Miss Washington County!)
7. listening to Joe Jefferson, everyone's favorite race announcer, pull out random funny quips all day
8. the delicious pork BBQ sandwich. Miss Frederick County loves her some pork BBQ.
9. being with friends and teammates
10. laughing as some of the men who landed on the podium weren't quite sure how to take Anna's double-sided cheek kisses and EXTREMELY loud lip-smacking as she planted them

Chris Kelley said that she and Fred got a lot of people asking how they got Miss Frederick and Washington County to come out to the race, and it got me wondering how our Toys R Us tiaras and matching clip on earrings (note the realistic pink heart shaped rhinestones), uniboobs made up of shop towels, inch long fake eyelashes, over the top make up, thrift store dresses with sleeves that must've totally been a hit three decades ago, and American flag accessory - could possibly be passed off as the real thing? Rob made a good point about the sad commentary that might shed on actual pageantry. Perhaps we have a real future, Anna.
More on this here (Anna),
here (Anna),
here (CK),
and
here (GamJams).

Kudos to the Kelley's for putting on an awesome race!

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Desert News

You win a prize if you can figure out who the nameless father and son are that Brad Rock mentions in this article.

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It was bound to happen sometime.
You know that dream where you accidentally show up somewhere and you realize you are naked, or in your pajamas...or teaching your first period class in your biking clothes?

I bike to work. I shower and do my hair and make up before I leave the house since I don't get sweaty or disheveled in the short 3 mile ride. I just carry a back pack with a change of clothes and hop into my work clothes right before classes start. Today I was running a bit late (does it still count as running late if it happens 3 times out of 5?) and went to change just five minutes before class started. Dug into my backpack and pulled out my earrings, necklace, dress shoes, and....*GASP!* Where is my dress?! Dug around frantically. Nothing.
Called Rob to the rescue (my one stroke of luck in this mess - he hadn't left for work yet), but realized that I would have to teach my first period class as is. Nothing says "classy" like a gold necklace, long gold earrings, and workout clothes. Do I compliment the outfit by wearing my cycling shoes (too hard to walk), socks (too trashy), or my dress shoes (just right!)?

I explained the embarrassment to my class, figuring we'd all get a good laugh out of it. But you know the quiet class - where you could bring in an entire circus and it would still be hard to pull a laugh out of them? - yeah, that is this one. A few smiled politely. And even worse, there was a big traffic back up and so half of them were late and never even got to hear my explanation for my sweet outfit.

I darted out of the room as soon as I heard my phone ring (without answering), only to find that Rob was not in the parking lot and had only called to tell me he was stuck in traffic. Great. Went back to class. Finished more of the lesson. Darted back out again upon the next call. Finally got my dress. Came back to class and held it up like a prized trophy and exclaimed my joy! Again, no outburst of amused cheering and/or laughter I was hoping for from my students. Maybe they don't know that they can laugh at me yet. That being able to laugh at myself is the only way I can get by in life, and if others aren't willing to laugh along with me, I start to feel a little worried. Gulp. In my anxiety, I proceded to make silly mistakes with my work on the board.

Then, to rub salt in the wound, in walked the Dean of Admissions and about ten prospective parents into my classroom. Seriously! The school hosts tours for families who are applying for Potomac School, and at any point during the year, one of these tour groups can just randomly pop up at any moment in your classroom to observe. OF COURSE! I couldn't expect anything less. Mind you, I am not teaching at any old school. We have a very strict dress code (disciplinary notices are sent out if they so much as allow their collared shirt to come untucked) and cater to the most elite families who can afford to pay more in a single year of tuition for their child than I spent on my entire college years plus grad school combined. And in they walked in their fancy suits and business dresses, while I was teaching in my biking clothes.
At least I had on dress shoes.

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Have you noticed that the only people calling for this big-bailout are bankers, investment bankers, and former investment bankers? Throw in a few people who have a lot of money tied up in stocks and there you have it. For some reason I find it hard to trust people who have such a vested interest in Wall Street making more money.

I should have my own talk show or syndicated column.

I think this is what I said about the economy in my earlier post. And I couldn't agree more!

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700 BILLION dollars

So I don't think I have made a political post on this blog, even though politics is one of my main interests. But this whole "bail-out" things is really ticking me off, so I figured I would comment.

I've never emailed or written my member of Congress before, but I finally did today. His name is Frank Wolf, of the Virginia 10th district, but if you want to find your rep, click here. If you have an opinion on this, I think you should let your representative know. Here is my opinion: (and no, I didn't rant like this to Rep. Wolf, I was a bit more subdued.)

I don't believe that the government should interfere in decisions already made by the free market. The banks should have to pay the consequences for their bad decisions. If they want to make new rules to make it less likely for this to happen in the future, then I am fine with that, but I don't think they should go and try to undue stupid decisions that have already been made. Obviously, these banks thought that they would make money by investing in these subprime mortgages. If they didn't think they would make money, they wouldn't have done it. What people often fail to realize, is that any time you "invest" in something, you are taking a risk. Anytime you invest in a market, you are taking a risk that you will make more money then you lose. Sure, it isn't playing roulette in Vegas, but it is a risk nonetheless. And this time the big Wall Street firms lost (and to be fair, the people running these firms don't really seem to have lost, since they are getting insane amounts of compensation for leading failing business, but I digress). Boo-hoo. I honestly don't care that your Wall Street bank is failing. You gambled, and lost. That is life. Call me cold-hearted, but I also don't care that home prices are going down. Why, because homes have become unaffordable. Homes are supposed to be places you live in, not instant access ATMs. Now that prices are going down, homes in the DC area are actually entering the range of affordability - they aren't quite there yet, but they are getting close. I have heard Sec. Bernarke's argument that if these banks fail, then people won't be able to borrow money. OK, so no one can borrow money. Why is that bad? Maybe I won't be able to get a mortgage? Well, all that would do is make home prices go down even more. Again, making housing more affordable. If people can't borrow money this might actually force people to - gasp - live within their means. I know that is a crazy concept for America, but it wouldn't be the worst thing ever. Lorena and I might not be rich, but I think we are pretty financially responsible i.e. we don't buy things we can't afford. Besides a studen loan and a car payment, we have no other recurring monthly debt. Since we have been responsible, I don't feel like bailing out banks and people who weren't.

When people talk about how the economy always has to be growing, I only think of pyramid schemes. Things don't always grow. There are cycles in life, the economy, the environment, etc. Ron Paul wrote a nice op-ed for CNN about why a bail-out would be bad, and I couldn't agree more. Bailing out would set a bad precedent and it wouldn't solve the problems underlying the market that are causing this "disaster" in the first place.

So, whether you agree, or disagree with me, I think you should let your representative know. 700 billion dollars (at a minimum) is a lot of your money to be spent, without you having a say.

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The Nation's Triathlon
It's been quite a while since I've lost any sleep because of nerves before a race. But finally it happened again, and I had one of those nights where it's hard to sleep soundly because your dreams are filled with strange versions of the upcoming day's events. This time, though, it wasn't about ME racing - I was just excited for Rob to be doing his first triathlon.
Either that or I was just anxious about the excruciatingly small digit my alarm clock was set to go off the next morning. When Rob and I publish our rulebook on life, one of the top entries will be that you should never be able to count the hour you are waking up on one hand.
Of course Rob didn't start out with anything easy, and chose an Olympic distance event for his first triathlon. The Nation's Triathlon was a huge event, with over 2,000 participants. It started with a 1.5k swim in the Potomac River, then went onto a 40k bike portion, and ended with a 10k run. I brought my bike with me so that I could strategically cut around the course and pop up like Houdini all over the route to cheer on my man. I was slightly jealous that I was not in it, but it was nice just to watch and cheer for once. Plus, people like me are the reason they have to have helicopters and rescue boats all along the river for the swim portion. Anyway, Rob did GREAT. It turned out to be one of the hottest, most humid days of the year, and he cramped up terribly just a mile into the run...but he still pushed through it and knocked down his first tri. He says he liked the swim and bike, but hated the run. So maybe we'll have to do a relay sometime! He also said it was the hardest thing he's ever done physically. I think the picture of us at the end shows it all, because he was too tired to even stand up for it. That's how you know you put it all out there! Way to go, Rob.
P.S. I should say that the time displayed on his finishing photo isn't his actual finish time! They left in different waves for long after the timer started.

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Quick Trip to the NYC with my Pops (and two sisters, and one brother-in-law)

I spent the past weekend indulging in some of my favorite things not involving California: Hanging out with my Dad, going to baseball games, attending famous sports events, and visiting cool cities.

On Friday my Dad and I took the train from DC up to New York. I have to say, the train is a way better way to get to New York versus driving, although it is a bit more expensive. After we dropped our bags off at the hotel, and met up with my sister Amy, who had gone up on Thrusday to hang-out with some college friends, my Dad and I went up to Yankees Stadium to pay our final homage to the "House that Ruth built." (side note, this is the last year that the Yankees will be playing at the original Yankee Stadium, they are building a new stadium right across the street, and will start using that in 2009.)

We had pretty decent seats (this was my present to my Dad for his upcoming 56th - he's old! - birthday) in the lower level, down the right field line. This was my second time going to Yankee Stadium (first time was with Mike and Scott back in 2001), and it is pretty cool to think of all the history that has gone down there. Although I know that he is a die-hard Giants fan, I think my Dad is also a closet Yankee fan. (which goes further to prove me theory that there are no real A's fans.) We rode the subway out to the game, had some hot dogs, and enjoyed a nice Yankees win over the Blue Jays.

On Saturday, my sister Brittany and her husband Brian joined us in the big apple. Brian had tickets to the US Open for the evening session, so we spent most of Saturday wandering around the city, window shopping and being tourists. I also went for a four mile run in Central Park/Upper East side, which made the run more enjoyable then usual (still hate running if a sport isn't involved).

After eating at the Rockefeller Center, Brittany, Brian, and I took the Subway out to Flushing Meadows to the US National Tennis Center. My Dad and Amy went and saw the musical Mary Poppins. Last year was my first year going to the US Open (go find the old post about our attendance, and my appearance on Center Court) and we had a lot of fun, so I was excited to go again this year. We had improved on our seats from last year (where we were up in the very last row!) by one entire row! For the Saturday night session, we saw one womens match and then the mens match-up between two Americans, James Blake and Mardy Fish. I was rooting for Blake, but he got beat in Straight Sets. Turns out, we weren't that dissapointed that it was straight sets because the match didn't end until after midnight, and we still had to take the subway back. Because people had been at matches all day we were slowly able to work our way down, and ended up sitting in the second tier, mabye 30 rows up, versus our initial starting location of 100 rows up! If you enjoy really cool sporting events, even if you aren't a huge fan of tennis, it is really fun to go to one of the "grand slams" events. The speed and power of the tennis they play is amazing, and its fun to be in Arthur Ashe stadium, which is the largest tennis specific stadium in the world. If you are ever in New York during late August, early September, I would highly recommend going.

All-in-all it was a good time, and it's always good to see my Dad (and Mom even though she didn't come out on this trip). I took the train back today while everyone else was staying until Monday. I would have stayed, but while everyone will be barbequeing tomorrow, I get to go to work. Hooray! Plus I wanted to hang out with Lorena, who originally thought she had a cross-country meet this weekend, but didn't so - she was stuck home alone.

P.S. sorry for the less then stellar picture quality, but I forgot the camera so I had to use the one on my phone.

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Well Done!
As in thoroughly cooked.
I think at my final race this season, the Chris Thater Memorial Classic, I learned what it feels like to be truly, utterly burned out. I've shown up to most of the races I've done this season with a big fire inside of me. But this weekend, instead of a burning fire, I felt like a big pile of ashes. It's been a long time in the making. I just tallied 42 races for this season, 31 of them within the last three months of summer. So I guess that explains it. I've never done anything close to this. The last couple weeks I've felt the fire trickling down to just the final little embers, so I'm not sure what prompted me to go to NY for a race like Chris Thater anyway. But I guess I'm a sucker to the NRC (National Races), big prize money, and a weekend trip to NY at a race hotel with my fun teammates. But because of the burn out, this was one of the mentally hardest races I have ever done, right up until the final two laps when it is naturally always fun.

Sure, racing is always going to hurt a bit (if you're doing it right), but excitement and passion go a long way to masking that pain. Not exactly mask. Convert it to pleasure. I usually love the physical burn. But burn is different than burn-out, and this race was just agonizing. I know it was more mental than physical (but I think burn out affects both), because in the end I finished well at 10th. I had nothing in me to even try to go with a break - which I would usually give an arm and a leg to get in - and seven girls got away without anyone from our team. Kristy had already used up her energy chasing earlier breaks that didn't end up sticking. I took 3rd in the field sprint, deciding that after torturing myself for 35 miles I might as well try to win some money for the pain. Jen also finished well at 14th. But really all of us felt pretty off. What a mental battle it was - spending the entire race convincing myself I was not allowed to pull out. Of course when you're wishing for a flat tire is never when it happens! I spent more time at the caboose than I ever have before - not a good spot but I had made a deal with myself to just get to the final five laps (which at 5 I changed to 3) and then race. I don't know how hot it actually was, but the heat got to me more in this race than it has all year. Right after finishing I was all lightheaded, woozy, nauseous and was told I was white as a ghost. From warm up to race to recovery, I went through 9 24oz bottles of fluid, and still hardly peed a bit the rest of the day. No wonder I was white and woozy.

Usually I can say that racing is really fun, but this time, really, it wasn't. But there are bigger reasons to race than just fun, and I am still glad that I went. At the end of the day there is something so fulfilling about knowing a that you pushed your limits. That you felt awful and wanted to quit but still succeeded. That you're growing and experiencing - and this time it was much more the mental/emotional aspect than physical. Although they are all so connected. It's funny that some things that feel so awful at the time can be the very best things to do. Is it true, for most athletes, that we process what we do like a big analogy of life? Every time I reflect, I feel that way.

Burn-out = time for change. Focus elsewhere for a while. Coaching cross-country, running, cross training, teaching, helping more at church. Rejuvenate, reflect, renew. Come back stronger.
How is it possible to be totally burned out, yet totally excited about next season at the same time?

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Random Olympic Observations:

  • -Events I have seen (this is what happens when your sleep schedule is all screwed up and you're awake all night): Badminton, Baseball, Basketball, Beach Volleyball, Boxing, Cycling, Diving, Fencing, Field Hockey, Gymnastics, Handball, Rowing, Soccer, Softball, Swimming, Table Tennis, Track and Field, Triathlon, Volleyball, Water Polo, Weightlifting, Wrestling. Not everything, but pretty close.
  • -Olympians that Lorena has beaten this year at one time or another in a race: 8 (granted they have also beaten her more than vice versa...which would explain why she is not in Beijing!)
  • -Gold Medalists in the Time Trial that Lorena was in a break-away with at the Nature Valley Grand Prix: 1 (Kristin Armstrong)
  • -Usain Bolt ran a 9.69!?! That is insane. Also, if I was female, based upon my best high school time, I would have qualified for the final of the women's 100m, but I would have finished fourth.
  • -I'm not down with China using 12 year olds in gymnastics. Cheaters.
  • -The color commentators NBC has for soccer are crap (both men and women) The play-by-play guy is okay. Also, how in the world do you get a red card four minutes into the game - for a blatant elbow, no less. That is just stupid. Way to go USA.
  • -Handball looks like one of those games, where you could get five random Americans together, and they should dominate. So I must be missing something.
  • -Track Cycling is cool

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Millersburg, Pennsylvania
- the most picturesque small town, with beautiful estates surrounded by rolling green fields, amidst Amish settlements and some of the nicest, happiest people on earth. I'm thinking back to some of the small towns that I have had to stop at en route on different road trips, and what a sullen and depressed feeling some of them have. Millersburg was the flip side of that coin. As if people just become happy and nice just by virtue of living there. I'd love to spend an entire summer living there. It was the perfect place to have a stage race.
(pic: recognize this man? Bob Roll!)
I can't say enough good things about The Tour of Millersburg! We stayed at an awesome host home (the wife happened to be a professional nutritionist and had all this great food for us), the volunteers were super friendly and organized, all of the courses were fun and with excellent road surfaces, Bob Roll came out and was doing the announcing (how cool is that to have Bob Roll, a Tour de France announcer for Versus, call out your name at a race? And then talk to you at length about tactics for the following stage afterwards?!), and everyone just seemed to be having a good time. It was fun to meet some new faces too. I was a little envious of team C3-Sollay, who even had the awesome opportunity to be hosted by an Amish family (read about it here). The best part of the road race was the huge groups of the Amish families out cheering in the fields along the road for us. I've never seen anything like it. They were great. They must have taken good care of C3, judging from all the attacks they threw out on the road race.
Team HPC p/b Altarum results were great and we picked up two podium spots in the GC - Jen in 2nd and me in 3rd with Leslie and Michelle doing a lot of work for the team, both spending a lot of time off the front. This was an omnium style stage race - based on points rather than overall time. It gives less favor to time trialists, unfortunately for Jen, but I think it makes the racing more aggressive and fun this way. Every stage matters and every place matters. It was great to get two podium spots, but a little bittersweet because Jen was leading in the overall points right up until the end of the final stage. She totally killed it in the 1st stage time trial and won! Our whole team tried our best to help her defend the lead, but she ended up getting beat by a single point on the final stage after Laura McCaughy of Juice Plus won two stages in a row.
(Pic: Jen Cheng, Bob Roll, Leslie Golenor)
Laura is not only one of the best sprinters, but she is also a crafty fox. I've never had so much fun getting beat by someone before. It also made me feel better to find out that she is an Australian national track champion in the points race. I already knew she is a better pure sprinter than I, but her track background made her difficult to out-sly as well. In the second stage, the criterium, Leslie was up the road for a long time in a solo break. She ended up getting caught right as we came through for the bell lap, and I counter attacked. The idea was to force the other teams to chase, have Jen in a good position in the draft while it strung out the field and make it easier for her to stay up front and finish strong. But Laura bridged up to me and that made it tricky, because neither of us wanted to help the other. So she would jump, I would catch up, she would slow down, I would jump her, she would catch up, I would slow down...and so on. Finally we got to a point that we slowed down so much - not wanting to lead each other out - that the field, hot on the pursuit, caught back up. We played a little more cat/mouse right on the finishing straight, and in retrospect I wish that I would have tried to jump sooner. But the truth is that she was watching like a hawk, matched everything I had, and there's probably very few scenarios where I really could have had her. And they might all involve flat tires. That's when I just admire and learn. She won, with me 2nd and Jen 3rd. Still a good finish and kept Jen in the overall lead.

The end of the third stage (road race) played out very similarly. Leslie up the road...brought back...I attacked...Laura bridged...people chased...Jen good position. The main difference is that I attacked a couple miles away from the finish, so since it was still so far to go, Laura and I worked together a little this time. I took a turn hot and inadvertently gapped her a bit so I gassed it again...but she isn't an easy one to drop, she caught back up, and we slowed again. She wouldn't pull through - smart for her, of course, but bad for me. The field came up behind us. There we were, flying in for the final sprint, and I'm trying to think tactics for how to keep Jen in the lead, but at a total loss for what the smartest thing would be to do. I still don't know what the ideal thing for me to do would have been. It's harder to think what to do for a team mate than it is for yourself. Since I am totally afraid of crashing right now, and am impatient, I decided to just continue to lead it out and hope Laura got a cramp and Jen was up front. Jen needed to be within two places of Laura to win the GC. Of course, there were no cramps, but Jen was up front. The only obvious tactic was once I saw Laura coming ahead of me, and saw Jen close behind me, was to make sure I myself wasn't one to be between Jen and her and ruin the point spread. Jen had a strong finish at 4th, but it was one place off to win GC. So close. Oh well.
Laura didn't need to do much convincing after the race to get me dreaming about track cycling now....
(Final Pic: Eating out at Wayne's Restraunt. The man in this picture is Wayne himself. He was a sponsor for the race, and so we ate at his restaurant. This marks the first time I have ever had the owner of a restaurant come out multiple times to check on us and our dinner, chat it up, and even come out and help bus our table - even when the restaurant was packed! Seriously, Millersburg is a nice place.)

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Lucky in Life
Anna bought me this "Good Luck Bear" for my birthday last week. What a perfect gift! I could really use some luck. Also, since the Olympics started on 08/08/08, the same date as my 28th birthday, I'd heard a lot about how the Chinese regard 8 as such a lucky number. Good for me because I am entirely composed of eights:
-born on 8/8/80, at 8:08 a.m. (honestly, it says this on my birth certificate, even if it isn't true) and actually weighed 8 lbs 8 ounces
- I have 8 people in my family
- turned 8 on 8/8/88
-turned 28 on 08/08/08 (sorry to everyone who has heard this a million times. I take pride in some things that really have no significance whatsoever.)

Unfortunately, all that birthday luck made like a tree (and leaved? left?) for the road race nationals in CA the next day; I was hugely disappointed to get a FLAT TIRE - UGH in the final lap of the race. After SRAM changed the wheel, I was so shaky and anxious that I seriously could not get back on the bike. Fumbled all over like a drunk. It probably took me longer to get back into my pedals than it took to change the wheel. Totally ridiculous and wasted so much time. I put in a monster effort and luckily caught back on to the peloton at one of the last moments that it would have been even possible. Soon after I latched back on to the back of the field, exhausted, those up front started duking it out and drilling it. Of course gaps formed and I was still too far back. I worked my way up and ended up in a group of 5 who worked together to chase back up to the lead field - another huge effort that also somehow worked out and we latched on about a mile or two before the finish. However, two things were unfortunate to me at this point:
- a group of about a dozen had broken away
- I was totally spent from chasing back on twice and had nothing left to finish strong anyway.
I was bummed because this race was in my hometown of Orange County, CA and so I was stoked and have been looking forward to it all year. But flats, crashes, mechanicals, and mistakes - that is road racing. It gets old to have a month of racing filled with nothing but that, but that's life. I finished 52nd out of 100-something. The next day I was watching the Olympics women's road race and saw that Kristen Armstrong got taken down in a pile up crash and Amber Neben dropped her chain at a crucial point. Talk about disappointing! In the Olympics! Man. For some reason I am amazed that they are not immune to such mishaps.
It's not too hard to get past that though when I just remember how "lucky" I am in life. Perhaps my good luck bear did me some good in other ways (thanks Anna!).
-Anna threw, like, a totally radical eighties b-day party - complete with a rubix cube cake and a simon cake, eighties attire, eighties music, eighties themed pictionary, and even an 80's gift (Good Luck Care Bear and an Atari t-shirt)
-Susan Hefler and Spokes Etc. went totally out of their way for me and helped me get a new bike overnighted and built up just in the nick of time (midnight) before traveling to CA for nationals. After all the crashes and broken bikes, it's so great to find that there are people in your life who are there to help you back up. Friends offered help too. So nice. What a great cycling community out here.
-My new bike (Spanky 2.0) is SWEEEEEEEET! (the new '09 specialized tarmac sl2)
-I was surprised/happy/laughing during the nationals road race to find huge messages written on the street for me from all my adoring fans (a.k.a. Rob):
"Go Fru!!! Go Fru!!! Go Fru!!!" (fru = wife in Swedish)
"Go Lorena, Allez Allez Allez!"
"If you can read this you are going too slow"
-My sister Rachelle and her family came out to cheer for me at the race and were nice enough to act impressed anyway and take us out for Mexican food (the best!)
-One of my bff's from high school was awesome enough to have her wedding on the same weekend as the road race nationals (or vice versa) and it was great to celebrate her marriage with her and some old good friends
-Our good friends Ryan and Becca are awesome enough to live across the street from seal beach, making it all the sweeter to go stay with them. Rachel and Andrew made a long drive out to come hang out also.

This last picture is random, but so many people I saw in the last several days were openly disappointed because they were expecting to see more wounds and gore on me. I get it. I'm a little carnal too, that's why I snapped this picture of some wounds from the most recent crash before they disappeared. There. Satisfied?

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If Luck be a Lady...
then she is one angry lady unleashing some pent up aggression. I JUST BROKE MY SECOND BIKE within two weeks of the first one!!! Granted, biking accidents are not exactly a new thing to me. But to have your two worst racing crashes and only two broken bikes within two weeks of each other...well, Lady Luck is going through a mean streak.

Below: One of the many good parts to my weekend - staying with Kristy's friend and old Colavita teammate Tracy and her cool dog Nuemo. Nuemo is a HUGE Great Dane and it is a good thing he is as chill and nice as he is enormous.


Friday I drove south to Charlotte, NC for a couple races. The first one was a big race, with $25,000 on the line for payout, $500 primes being thrown out like candy on most laps, tv coverage, and crowds lining the downtown streets. This kind of race is addicting. I always think of my psuedo-self watching, and how I would be so envious of those in the race. But I AM in it. I love it.
Needless to say, this race was hot from the gun and the field was strung out immediately. Unfortunately, I violated my first rule in such criteriums - getting to the start line early enough to grab a front position. It's a tricky little thing. Everyone is out warming up, and as soon as one person decides to line up, the start line gets swarmed...if you're not there when that happens and end up toward the back of an 80-something field without the luxury of a call-up, well, you start the race at a major deficit. In some races it isn't such a big deal and you can move up. But in a race like this one, it broke me. Not only do you end up spending more energy from being forced to slow down too early in the corners and then having to sprint back out of them, but then every time a girl in front of you can't hang on to the pace and opens up a gap, you have to sprint pass them and waste all that energy to regain contact with the field. Basically, I spent the first half of the race trying to move up and sprinting to close gaps that people had opened up, but eventually if you don't get out of that danger zone, someone is going to open a gap that you can't close and you will get dropped. Getting out of that danger zone when there are $500 primes multiple laps in a row was a little tricky though. I was surprised to see that I finished 39th out of 86 starters even after getting dropped - not something I am proud of, but reminds me how much the field got shredded. It was a cool finish, with Cat Carroll of Aaron's coming in on a solo break away victory. The race announcer said it was the first time in that race's history - men's and women's - to have a solo break-away win. It was awesome. Props to MABRA rider Leslie Jennings who sprinted through to bridge back to the field on the time that I could not, and ended up with a great finish - 21st and in the money. We were both there as the only representation from the Mid-Atlantic, so it was fun to get to know her better and bond with someone from the home turf.

The next day's race in Winston-Salem was pretty much the same women but not as much $ and hype. I had learned my lesson from the day before and got a good start. The whole race went much better as a result, even though I did ping-pong back and forth a bit between the front and the back. But with two to go, I found just the right gap to get to the front and ended up right on Colavita's lead out train of four. Usually they have the best lead out train and can just drill it single file to the finish for Tina Pic to win the sprint. But for some reason, they slowed up a bit and we started getting a little swarmed with one lap to go. It can get very dangerous on the last lap or two if there is not a team at the front drilling it fast and single file, because then everyone gets clustered together, shoulder to shoulder, and jockeying for position. The announcer started yelling "one to go, one to go, one to go, one to go, one to go...." over and over as we passed through for the bell lap. Everyone gets excited. We're going downhill, all out. Two girls in front of me clipped wheels and went down hard. I almost got around, but a bike flipped in front of me and I went flying over my handlebars, endoing onto the pavement. I looked around and saw this massive pile up of women and bikes everywhere. It happened toward the front, in the middle, at a high speed and had a huge domino effect. It looked like only maybe a dozen riders were left to contest the final sprint. My inventory of damage is a cracked bike frame (where the water bottle screws attach), more road rash and bruises, a sore neck, and an incredibly sore ankle. When my leg came down that impact was concentrated into a single little tooth of a chain ring piercing my skin into my ankle bone. The smallest little wound that makes me see white when I flex that ankle (a.k.a. walking) today.
The great thing about being a cyclist is that you get into such good shape that when you have an accident, your body repairs itself awfully fast. Yep, it works! The health, fitness, fun, friends, and pure exhilaration and adrenaline that come from racing outweigh the downside of the inevitable accidents. Crashing is like paying the piper for all the fun you're having. You realize quickly that road rash and bruises aren't really such a big deal. Although I do have to admit that hitting your head is a big deal, and so is breaking bikes, and so can be the emotional toll the next day. You wake up so stiff and sore and wonder at what point it will be too much. But then you realize while sitting around recouping that the number one bummer is that you are sitting around instead of riding, racing, going...and you can't wait to go do it again. The "what ifs" that come after not finishing a race can only be answered by going out and trying again.
So I am still going to race at Nationals next weekend as long as I can find a rig to ride.
Now, who wants to loan me a bike?! Hahahaha. Seriously though. 54cms.

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Welcome, Ryan and Becca...

We would like to welcome our good homies Ryan and Becca to the blog world. Although they have been around for a month or two, we just found out. Thanks for nothing, Sunshine.

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New Music...

The cool kids track is for anyone that was down with IVS (the ill vibe squad)..what it is DNC.

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Five Years Ago Today...
it didn't even cross my mind to buy digital images of my wedding pictures. So this is one of the only digital pics that I have, courtesy of my MIL. Look, Rob with hair and me without facial scars.

I just read that the fifth year anniversary is the wood anniversary. How lame is that? Nothing says I love you like something wooden. Next year is candy or iron. I guess that's a small step up, but seriously, who decided these? What I need right now is a carbon fiber anniversary. Rob would probably appreciate a Porsche anniversary.

One of my favorite wedding day memories was on our car drive to our honeymoon hotel after the reception. The song "So Happy Together" came on the radio, and we turned up the volume and just started busting out singing on the top of our lungs. This is where I am very tempted to get sappy, but I will spare Rob of publicizing too much of that.
But I will say that the past five years have involved all the random bursts of singing and laughing I could ever want. Over and out.

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Freak Show
I just saw a commercial for the Tour De France, you know, the one where they show the wrecks. And a guy says "Next time you're out driving in a car, strip down to your underwear, and jump out the door. That is what it is like to crash in a professional bike race."

I have so much to say about this last week of racing at the MABRA crit championships and Super Week, traveling around Pennsylvania, Chicago, and now Milwaukee, and all the events surrounding it that I probably should just write a few bullet points about the latest things on my mind, lest I end up with a novel. Here we go:

  • This crash sucked.
  • I am sore and bruised and road rashed all over. And nauseous and headachy from a concussion. And I drip blood from my tear ducts. Sweet.
  • Poor Spanky, my trusty steed, is now a "portable" bike.
  • My helmet is cracked in multiple places, and sanded from the skid on pavement. My sunglasses saved my right eye from being sanded off.






This happened on my fifth race within the week. After feeling cracked and not right on the Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday races, I finally felt good again. Much better than good, actually. Suddenly past feeling cracked from all the racing and into GOOD form from it instead.
  • I had a VERY strong feeling while warming up on the course, going through turn two, that I was going to have a bad crash there in that exact spot, in the draft of the peloton.I tightened my helmet tighter than I have ever tightened it for a race. And decided I would break away from the peloton early on in the race so that my feeling would amount to nothing more than a feeling.
  • I also knew I could win this race. FINALLY a course with some climbs! This one was mine I thought.









  • I raced aggressive from the gun. Put in three attacks in less than 10k, the first one off the front solo for the first several laps, then the third one being a bridge up to a Kenda and Revolution girl for what turned into the winning break. We lapped the field, but dangled behind them for over 20 laps so that we would not have to deal with the havoc and danger of a field sprint.
  • Then the race announcer called out a $40 prime just for the three of us on the next lap. Not much to get too worked up about, but the perfect opportunity to have a "dress rehearsal" of how to grab the win in the real finish. I won the sprint handily.
  • Bad move. Apparently, the Revolution girl did not like the way that "dress rehearsal" turned out and decided after that to join up with the field that we had been avoiding for so long, because she did not want to duke it out with Kenda and I one-on-one-on-one anymore.
  • That made me angry. The feeling I had before the race about the crash in the field draft in turn two hung over me like a shadow. Not racing in the peloton on that course was my number one motivator for being in a break in the first place. Not to mention the simplicity it takes out of the tactics against two competitors when we were all now mixed in with everyone else.
  • With less than a mile left in the race, after going around turn 2 fast and safely 48 times before, my wheel suddenly felt light in the draft of the peloton, lost traction, and down I went. I don't know why this time was different than any of the other times, except that now I was in the group and didn't get to pick my own line through the off camber turn. And we were going FAST because it was heating up to the finish.
  • Luckily, my first instinct was to keep moving with the flow of the crash landing, and I twisted and barrel rolled with the skid. Thus, a nice distribution of sores everywhere rather than any major injuries.
  • Too bad Spanky didn't have the same senses.
  • I took out some other women as well, and for that I am really sorry. I was feeling a little smug just the day before (when caught in a pile up crash, but not injured) about how in all my years of racing I have never been the cause of a crash. Now I caused one that included my teammate Jeanette who is totally ROCKING this race series and WAS sitting in a podium spot for the GC before I ruined her finish. Luckily, I think I was the only one to hit it really hard and everyone else is racing again today.
  • I am bummed I am sitting here blogging instead of racing today.
  • I am most bummed that I didn't get to finish the race.
  • When I used to play games with my little brother Russell, and he thought he should have won when he didn't, he would say "I don't care, I know I really won in my heart". It drove me crazy! We were so competitive. But now I love it and think it to myself with a smile when these things happen. Miss you Russ.
  • I asked Jeanette after the race, in all seriousness, if they would still count my race and put me in third since the crash was within 3 km of the finish. She told me I'd been watching way to much Tour de France.
  • Oh, I saw Sterling Magnell of Rock Racing, who is in the leader's jersey in the men's pro race, in the ER room as I was leaving. I made a joking comment to him about our battles, but he just sat there stone faced, angry, and too-good to acknowledge me back. Come on, Sterling, my crash ruined my modeling career too, give me a nod!
  • Mama's recount here. Who could ask for a better traveling/ER companion then someone who has earned the nickname Mama? It is her birthday today, so give her a call if you're friends!

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