Monday, March 31, 2008

My Dad Is Here!!

The summit of Switchback Mountain: very windy!

My father, also known as My Favorite Person, came out and spent a long weekend with me. We had an incredible time, and it was really nice to get away from the OTC bubble. On Sunday, we hiked up Switchback Mountain (aptly named), in Cuyamaco Rancho State Park. A bit of altitude training, too, as the summit was over 6,000ft.

It was by far the best time I’ve had here so far and I am excited to have the possibility of training in Lake Placid and racing in Montreal in May: I’ll get to see my whole family, whom I miss very much!

Me and my dad, circa 1990

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Femmy Emmy Hits the Open Road

Well, I got my glorious road trip on Easter Sunday after all! It really was nothing short of exhilarating, and I didn’t even go too far. I woke up early on Sunday morning, made a pot of coffee, a country playlist, and two peanut butter sandwiches.

Then I rolled down the windows, donned a cowboy hat, and sped away. I headed around Lake Otay and then... up! Chula Vista is at 11 feet above sea level, but framed by mountains to the South and East. I headed East and drove up over the mountains. (To 3800 feet, to be exact.) The pass was breathtaking. Pictures were difficult, as I was by myself and the road was rather twisty- turny... not to mention built into a mountainside, just waiting for the next giddy adventuresome kayak girl to drive right off the side of the cliff.

Final destination: Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, just 40 miles away. It was easily one of my all-time most enjoyable drives (and that’s impressive, given my extensive Enjoyable-Drives Record). Upon arrival, I scoped out some hiking trails. A sign at the trailhead warned me that I was in Cougar Country (I’m from Fairport so I’m used to that) but I was more concerned about rattlesnakes. The hike was beautiful. I’m quickly developing an affinity for desert landscapes, especially when they include an oak woodland forest with a sprinkling of pines and lovely meadows with creeks (which, incidentally, this one did). The park also contains Lake Cuyamaca, in which I really wanted to swim (it was a scorcher!) but I didn’t see anyone else swimming so I wasn’t sure how clean the water was.

After some more running around, climbing trees, and exploration, I found I could not wipe the grin off of my face. Freedom!

On my way back, I stopped at a roadside fruit stand and bought two of the biggest navel oranges I’ve ever seen. Seriously, they look like grapefruits. (What other insane oddities will she discover in this strange new land!?!?!)

It’s a shame I haven’t explored the California Parks System the past three March- Aprils that I’ve spent here. Now I’m going to have to make up for lost time!!

I just know I was meant to be a wanderer.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The US-Senegal k4 Contingent

Suz and Mickle and I showed up to practice this morning and the boathouse wasn't even open. Everyone else is gone for the weekend, or was paddling at a different time. To be perfectly honest, our motivation level wasn't the highest it’s ever been, so we sat in the sun for a little while to complain about it.

Enter Assane, wearing his characteristic huge smile, and babbling away about how beautiful it was outside and how good training is. (“It’s good, very good.”) Assane Fall is from Senegal; he has trained here with us for almost 2 years now, but he will be racing for Senegal in the 2008 Olympics. What I love about Assane is that he always has a smile on his face, and he is very vocal about how he feels (which is euphoric, usually). With his mixed French and broken English combined with the cultural influence of the men's kayak team, he also happens to be hilarious.

Assane, pictured here with me and my little sister Anna

Assane had never been in a k4 before, and Suz had the bright idea to take him out for the workout this morning. We put him in 3rd seat (with me in 4th) and got on the water, with him grinning and yelling to the Slovaks on the dock, "It's my first time! It's my first time!"

It was actually a great practice; he's a talented athlete and a good k1 paddler, so he had no problem jumping in the boat with us. The positive energy was overwhelming. He kept turning around after the pieces and asking me "It's good?? Wow! Fast!" And then he’d burst out laughing and smack the water with his paddle and let out an excited “Woohoo!!” His bellowing laughter and huge smile are contagious, and I immediately felt bad about not feeling like paddling this morning. I really think we should do this more often.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Enough is Enough

have been a nail-biter since I was 9 years old. But not just any nail-biter, I'm the one who bites down to the stubs, until they throb and bleed and peel. (Go big or go home) Ha! No, seriously, I know it's gross. But try as I might, I've never been able to stop (and to tell you the truth it's not for lack of willpower but for lack of real desire to have pretty nails)

For some random reason unbeknownst to me, I have taken a stand and done something I thought I'd never do: I got fake nails. Chhyeah! That's right. Femmy Emmy is now the proud wearer of a set of pale pink acrylic nails. (She is also proud to have figured out that the word “acrylic” does not, in fact have two l’s in it.) Anna [my little sister] says dryly, "Wow... you're like a real girl now."

I hate how they feel but I'm going to let it grow on me. (get it?? Grow on me?) Given time, my real nails will come back and I can take the fake tips off and start biting them again.

(Just kidding.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Training people! The very definition of creatures of routine!!

All week, we work within the confines of a carefully-written program: for all intents and purposes, every day is the same[wake up, eat, practice, shower, eat, nap, eat, lift, paddle, shower, eat, sleep.] We complain about the routine when it gets monotonous, but in truth, we don't function very well without it; all week, we crave our Sunday off-day, but when it arrives, we're invariably bored out of our minds. Without workouts, the day is empty and drags on forever. I'm usually tired and grumpy and anxious for the day to be over. I feel restless, as if I'm wasting my time.

The same is true for our 4-week cycles, and because last week was "hard week," this week is "recovery week." As a special treat, we are allowed to travel this weekend for Easter. Most people have already left, and the lack of structure is already getting on my nerves.

Buuuuut part of me is still excited to hit the open road with country music and the wind in my hair. (Not kidding.) I'm going to take advantage of my short-lived freedom and go somewhere: probably skiing, hiking, or surfing... maybe a national park? Suggestions welcome.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Fierce Urgency of Now

I'm making good improvements. In time trials every week, I've come closer to my PR and I hope to break it within the next few weeks. K4 work with the other girls is altogether positive and I know we'll be able to put it all together and do some fast times soon. Just over a month until US Olympic Trials!!!

Thank you everyone for your continued support.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mendon Ponds Park

Hello blogosophere. Today's entry is going to be an exhilarating journey of 2,649 miles from the sandy, palm-tree lined beaches of San Diego to the forested glacial footprint of Mendon Ponds Park.

As many of you may be aware, Mendon Ponds Park is a lovely outdoor playground located in Pittsford, NY. Its kettles, eskers, and other glacial formations create a heavily-forested hilly masterpiece which plays host to snowshoers, cross-country ski racers, trail-runners, mountain-bikers, "nordic walkers" (tee hee hee) and an abundant deer population. As many of you may NOT be aware, Mendon Ponds Park is arguably my favorite place in the whole world.

We are a match made in heaven.

I miss it very much lately, because it’s springtime and if I were home, I’d be crust skiing, running the 10k in my snowshoes, and maybe shooting potato guns with the Day brothers.

Lucky for you, reader, I have compiled my [rather sparse] collection of Mendon Ponds Action-Shots into a photos-with-captions arrangement to share with you now!

The start of a league race, circa 2003

Global warming

Double-poling off the start line, 2002

I actually have a ton of really cool skiing photos, but I'm only going to post the ones where either my technique looks really good or I'm winning.

To diversify, I’ll add a summer picture. Here is Aaron learning how to swim- I mean paddle- a sprint kayak. The picture doesn’t really do him justice though; he was actually paddling around by the end of the afternoon.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mountain Climbing

Today I ran to the top of a small mountain (okay, a hill) along the lake. Lake Otay [where we paddle] is ridiculously gorgeous, and it's always amazing how you never remember that when you're two sets in to two-hours of sprint pieces with paddle-back rest. Weird.

But, hey- I'm a nature girl! I wear a wool beanie; I have Solomon running shoes and a Swix water-bottle-holder. If that doesn't say "Wow this girl loves trail running" then I don't know what does.

I ran on the trail along the side of the lake (where the bugs are so thick you have to keep your mouth closed... and plug your nose, and close your eyes) and to the dam, whereupon I stopped to take a breather, because I'd been holding my breath and plugging my nose for a mile and a half. (I'm actually REALLY good at this because I can make it across about 3/4 of one pool length [but not an Olympic-sized pool] while swimming underwater.)

At the dam, the road turns into an entrance to Otay Lakes Park, which I believe is the last speck of American civilization. The park has a rocky trail up one of the smaller hill/mountain-by-Southern-California-standards things. I sprinted up to the top (just kidding, I walked) and then I gazed across the border at Mexico, picked some wildflowers (Keith Anderson, anyone?), and sang “Climb Every Mountain” from the Sound of Music... really loudly, to scare away the rattlesnakes.