Thursday, July 31, 2014

Taking a break from biking.... but not completely.

The lumber is  paid for and the sweat begins

This summer I decided to move forward with some home improvement projects that had been pushed aside for too long.  Tired of having rain, snow, and ice falling from the roof of the house onto the front steps and occasionally the backs of our necks as we try to get through the front door, I finally put priority on building some porches and finishing the house that we've lived in for over 2 years now.  Unfortunately, this would mean a little break from cycling.

Although I've had motivations in the past to tackle this project by myself in the past, I am by no means much of a skilled carpenter.  I feared having porches that were not level nor square.  So, I sought guidance from my uncle.  With a week and a half off from work, we began the project in mid June with the help from my dad, brother, and nephew.

I've worked labor jobs in the past...somewhere like 20yrs ago.  I had not realized how physically unfit I had become.  Digging post holes, lifting 16 foot long 6x6 posts, carrying 4x8ft sheets of OSB up ladders had given me a level of upper body and back soreness that I had not seen in a long time.  But, I have enjoyed every minute of it.  It was a break from my normal routine, the first summer vacation in 12 yrs, and an opportunity to spend time with family and friend that would show up to help.

Should have left these posts that long.
Would have been great deer stands

Although, I have gotten very little time on the bike in the past 6 wks as we continue to finish these projects, I have gotten to participate in events that I would normally miss due to my usual work schedule:

Watching my nephew Kyle with two solid hits to win a little league championship

Kyle smacking one to the outfield

Teaching nephews, Kyle and Darren, how to search for night crawlers and catch their first fish

Farm pond fishing
No better place to learn

Kyle's 1st fish

Darren's 1st fish

The porches have given me the opportunities to relax in the evenings and watch thunderstorms, wild life, morning sunrises, and evening sunsets.

Strong storms and Tornado warnings
(not sure if we had a funnel cloud starting)

Doe and her two fawns from the front porch during breakfast

Now, I didn't give up cycling completely during this time.   I managed to take on a few mountain bike races this summer to stay in shape.  And to my surprise, I even managed to take a step onto a few podiums at that.

The Big Bear 2x12:  1st Place Vets

Big Bear 2x12 start
(Surprised to be beside Gunnar...briefly.   The last that I would see of him) 

Big Bear 2x12 Podium
with Stew of CER

The Henry Clay 30K:  4th Place

Henry Clay 30k Podium
(was sure I didn't finish well enough for this podium and surprised to be called up)

Dobbin House Classic:  3rd Place

Dobbin House
very technical, rooty course

Dobbin House Podium

And, the White Park Throwdown:  Crash and Burn

White Park Whipty-do Endo

I haven't gotten the miles on the bike that I had hoped for this summer.  And, I continue to put in 12 hour days at work one day, then work on the porches until sunset the next.   (Almost done)

But, I've had a blast getting to try a new skill, spending time with family and friends, and relaxing on the new porches.  

Vacation Season

This summer was not exactly everything I had planned. But doing it all wouldn't have been exactly easy to do, and I promised myself I'd let this summer "be my last" as a kid. Besides, cycling in Wheeling has been awful this summer especially since they stopped their Wednesday night hammer ride because of one wreck that happened last year.  So I chose to let myself enjoy the ride and get back to cycling this fall, maybe even try cross.
One of the most important things I needed to do this summer was make some dough so I could remain going to school. It seems, however, this led to me using the money on summer vacationing. Whoops.  So it became working so that I could afford to play and relax.  That's what loans are for anyways right?
With that being said my July has been very fun. Earlier in the month I took a trip to Cedar Point and rode coasters on their fast pass until I was sick of it (which takes me a while). Then on July 16th the vacation of my life happened when my plane departed from the Pittsburgh airport for Aruba.
The night before my friend and I didn't get much sleep so we were exhausted by the time we arrived, so we ate and went to bed. However the next night we wanted to try a very much talked about bar on the island called Moomba's. When we got there the bartender, who we found out later was the manager, took a liking to us.
This led to an amazing Friday night which honestly felt like a movie. We went to Moomba's again and met a girl who was friends with more of the staff.  So, we naturally asked what they did after they closed at 1 and said we wanted to hang out with Roy the manager.  We went to a club called Gusta and waited on our new friends. Just when we thought they had lied and were no longer coming, five members of the Moomba's staff showed up, and soon even got us into the VIP section of this club. As I was talking to my friend and another guy who snuck in with us, a woman grab my hand wanting to dance. I had noticed a sash she was wearing and I asked about it. When she showed me it read "bachelorette," and I quickly realized I was in the middle of a Polish Bachelorette party!  Yikes!! Well the rest there is just history.
Aruba may have been one of the most beautiful places I've seen in my life.  The rest of the week my friend and I would go to the pool or beach and just relax for hours.  We also met a few new friends, a family from Pittsburgh, of whom the father knows of our very own Pat Claire.  We met another guy from Columbus who said he often comes to Morgantown to visit one of his friends there, so we're naturally going to hang out during the school year.  Coming home was very sad, and when I do get my big boy job I definitely will have to go back.
As I write, I am currently on my way to Top Sail beach with my girlfriend and her family for more vacation time! Hopefully this will be a much needed break and I can come back well rested and relaxed, especially before going to the real world. Then it'll be time to start hitting the books and getting on my bike (actually training).  But in the mean time I'm going to enjoy the time I have before the ominous senior year approaches.

Recipe for Success

We all have goals we set out to accomplish. The mountains aren't always so easy to climb though.

I began my journey to be come a CCRN nearly a year ago in Turkey. I spent hours listening to audio lecture while crossing the countryside. I guess that isn't the worst place to be while gaining some knowledge but I would have loved to explore more of the landscape and soak up a little bit more of the culture in those hours.

I did what I felt I should do to prepare myself for the exam I planned to take in February. An attention span of about 30 minutes didn't aid studying but I endured the hours (which were about 18 per week) by breaking study time into short blocks throughout the days. It worked out pretty well but meant it took nearly 10 hours to get 6 hours of focused study time. The days I was not at the hospital were basically spent as all day study sessions. I was eager to acquire the knowledge and focus on my goal but that was all. It took a big toll on my family and especially my wife who spent hours doing-you guessed it-everything. It was all means to an end that was close at hand. Right? Wrong...

A long, twisting and rough road

The road to success was not flat, straight or lined with flowers. I failed my first attempt at the exam. I missed it by 1 single question so it was back to the drawling board...

Preparation really began to wear on me over the next 2 months. I decided to reschedule another exam date that April but much to my dismay there was no test date available until the end of May. I realized at that point that I really needed to pass with this attempt as my job position required the certification by July. Apparently many certification exams are taken in the summer months so available testing space was nonexistent for me between May and July. This was a problem because my job was dependent upon this next test. I didn't need the extra stress. My stress was high and I was eating pounds of chocolate! I refocused my cycling to short intense training so I could shake off some of that stress and I pounded my head off the books again.

Hours at this desk
I spent many more hours at this desk studying my --- off day after day until test day #2. I was confident. The test seemed to be easier to me this time around! Oh- I guess I should mention that the test is never the same. There is a bank of thousands of questions from which the test is made. If it were the same test I would have passed it the second time. Yes-that's right. The proctor met me in the office and said "honey-I don't know what it is with you and 1 question." That moment was horrible. I thought so many things (many of which I can't include here.)  Was she joking? Am I on What Would You Do?  What are the chances of missing by 1 question 2 times? Can I test again before I lose my job?

I spent the next days trying to coordinate the earliest test date. Again, as my luck would have it, the next available date was the end of July. Unfortunately for me the job required the certification by July 1. I spent the next days in UPMC management offices explaining my situation. I did not want to lose my job. I happen to be one of the lucky few that love to do what they do. I could not give up. I pleaded my case. After all my information was presented it was decided that the next available date to retest was going to be my "pass by" date! I had one more chance.

Now the pressure was really on my shoulders. My wife had been dealing with everything and was going to have to continue. I was so stressed out I wanted to vomit everyday. I took a step back and asked myself, "what are you going to do?"  This is what I did...

More hours at this desk

I reminded myself of what a coach of mine once told me, "Sometimes you need to STEP UP and just LAY IT DOWN!" Yeah- it sounds kind of funny doesn't it. I love it though! The fact of the matter is that when your faced with a difficult situation you still have a choice to make. You can climb the mountain or you can crawl in a hole. I committed to pulling the remaining energy from myself and give it a go.

I knew I could not do it alone so I assembled my troops. I called the AACN and Board of Nursing for information. I utilized my mentors and supportive clinical leaders at the hospital. I picked the brains of the doctors until they just wanted me to shut up. I suggested so many therapies for my patients that some of the doctors started calling me Dr. Devin. I believe that they laughing at me more than anything but it didn't matter to me. I was thinking and that's what was important. It paid off in the end!

On July 30, 2014 I became Devin Corboy, CCRN. I still have a million things to learn but I am one of only 4,192 nurses nationwide to hold the certification of Pediatric Intensive Care Nurse Specialist. It may have been easy for some but it was not easy for me. I could not have done it without my Army led by Captain Caito and the troops at the AACN & CHP. Thank you so much for your support. I want to thank everyone for putting up with the "Beyond Stressed Out" version of me. Just give me a few more days and I'll be back to my Fun Ol' Self.

Here's my Cookie!
I've endured this process and I've utilized my resources to make this change happen by thinking outside the box. The next question is - What will I do with it?

Rehab and Relaxing

As many of you know, my season has been none short of disappointing. I started seeing our good friend Rob Acciavatti over at Dynamic Physical Therapy in Westover, WV twice a week for medicine and stretching. Fortunately I was given great news that I may not have to come twice a week anymore which also means I can finally graduate from the rail trail. I need to send a huge thank you to both Rob for healing me all up and JR for riding at a 2 mph speed with me. The past few months have made me even more excited for February when Chas and I can tackle collegiate season with the WVU team and flow into the public season. Until then will be baby steps back into shape.

In the meantime, I have gotten the opportunity to travel to a few places. First was Italy with three days in Florence, 4 days in Sorento, and 3 days in Rome. I highly encourage everyone to visit Italy at least once in their life. I know I will be going back one day.

I come back to WV this weekend to jump head first into fieldwork, school, and the newly earned ability to start training again. But until Saturday I will ignore all of that from the North Carolina shore.

Thank you all for reading! See you soon, West Virginia! 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Vacay... Day 5

Cruising up Rt 1 with Dad... look at those 8' paved shoulders to ride on.
We were blessed with another beautiful day on the bay. Dad was up for another ride so we went out for a "quick" 20 which was really a slow 30. Dad's still experiencing the same shifting problems, so I guess we're back at the starting point with that issue. The rear cable was replaced last year (this bike is only ridden during the summer months while he is in Maine) and he put a new chain on last week and started having all these new problems. I'm thinking the shifter or derailleur is the culprit but don't know which way to go with the trouble shooting and since he is running Campy, I can't swap anything out of my spare parts to diagnose things through the process of elimination.

I had every intention of going out in the afternoon for another short ride of 25-30 miles, however, the fish were biting so I decided to keep trolling for mackerel in one of the kayaks. I caught nothing significant to speak up but I did catch a few mackerel although only 1 made it into the boat. And It was only a tinker and I would have thrown it back in to catch another day, however it hit the lure so hard that in the process of removing the hooks, I removed several important body parts for the fish. Sorry little guy but I guess you'll taste good with some barbecue sauce.

The Beach at Temple Heights.
Its supposed to be another nice day tomorrow so I want to get up early and get out on the bike so I can be back before the activities get rolling. Maybe I can get my 60 mile loop around Megunticook in or maybe I will be drawn north towards Castine.  Check back to see where I head to!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Vacay... Day 4

Yesterday was a complete washout for the day.  I woke up to fog on the bay that only lifted because the high winds and driving rains eventually pushed it out to SEE. And as much as I wanted to jump on the bike and endure the inclement weather, the overnight drive was finally catching up with me and I spent part of the day napping and refueling my tank.
I swear there is water out there
Jump ahead 24 hours and it was an entirely different story. Instead of fog, I was greeted with bright sunshine and a view of the ocean.
Told you there's water out there

With mom and Dad in Boston to pickup 2 of my nephews who were flying in from Pittsburgh, I didn't have to worry about keeping quiet as I got up and started my day. First up was a quick cleanup of my bike which was finished by 630. Then Dad's bike was next on my agenda. On Sunday, we had to stop several times to work on his bike. 3 times he threw the chain in the bid chain ring and about as many times we had to stop and play with the rear derailleur to get it to shift out of the small cog in the rear cassette. Having limited experience with Campy, I wasn't sure where to start with the latter of the two ailments so I removed the hood covers and used ProGold's Blastoff Degreaser to clean the shift mechanism. If I hadn't just put an old white towel down on the deck, I wouldn't have known just how much dirt and debris the Blastoff dislodged. And all I did was spray it twice but there was a definite change in the way the shifter was functioning. I ran through the shifting atleast 50 times and couldn't get it to act up again, here is to keeping my fingers crossed it continues to work the same way when he rides again.  I tweaked the limit screws on his front derailleur, cleaned up the gunk on his front chain rings, wiped down his chain, and cleaned his cassette with the ProGolds Foaming Citrus Degreaser. And yes, ProGold is a sponsor, but I swear their products make cleaning your bike easier. If you haven't tried them yet, you are doing yourself a disservice.

Best work station I've ever worked at

By 11AM, I'd knocked out my to-do list and started focusing my attention on my ride.  I'm familiar with the layout of the roads up here, but since its been 3 years since I last rode up here, I decided to stick to the main "highways" to make sure I didn't get too lost. I decided on a loop I estimated to be in the neighborhood of 50 miles... Beech Hill Road to 52S to 235S to 105N to 131N to 135W to 137S to 52S to Beech Hill Rd.

Even though I was riding on State Highways, if I was passed by 125 cars all day, that would be a lot. The best part about the ride is the views I was rewarded with on my second pass of Beech Hill. After climbing a short steep climb, reminiscent of many of the hills on the Dirty Dozen (less the city traffic) the long descent down the backside offers a couple of gorgeous views of Penobscot Bay. I had to stop and be a tourist by taking a couple photos, but I think it was worth it.

Beech Hill Rd looking East

Beech Hill Rd looking South East
Now, its time to start plotting a route for tomorrow morning. I think its time to take a loop around Lake Megunticook. Stop back tomorrow and see where I end up though.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Vacay... Day 2

Billy touched on a subject this month that is near and dear to my heart in his blog: Great Ride > Great Race.  Some of my most memorable rides over the last 10 years have been laid back rides with friends and family. And like Nathan Clair points out in his recent blog:  Mountain Bike Nationals, its very hard to  put into words the feeling that you get when your hard work and long hours pay off with a spot on the podium.  But today's ride was an easy 24 miles in the Midcoast of Maine. We went out on a familiar route to both of us and spent 2 hours hanging out and sharing stories since the last time we got to see each other. When we got back to Northport, he headed back to his camp and I went for a quick climb up Beech Hill Rd and an additional 16 miles.  Dad kept apologizing to me for "holding me back" and he kept telling me that I should just ride on and leave him behind, but today's ride I will always remember, not for where I went, what I saw, or why I was riding, but rather for WHO I was riding with. These days seem to be fewer and further between as to compared to when I was a kid and it happened 3-4 times a week. I have learned to appreciate these as much as even the hardest fought for podium spot. Today I checked another vacation bucket list item off, but also added it right back on to my list and I hope I can get back out on the bike with dad. And if it happens again tomorrow... I will add that right back again for the following days.
Shore Road selfie

Bayside Selfie

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Vacay.... Day 1

With all the changes that I have gone through in the last 13 months, this week is long been overdue.  My vacation started Friday night at the Bud Harris Memorial Oval and the Team Time Trial. EJ, Devin, and Nate toed the line with me. EJ, Devin and I had a few laps of TTing together, however, Nate arrived just in time to race and we had to just figure it out as we went from the line.  And the first few laps were a little sketchy as we tried to figure out our rhythm, especially on the second lap when Nate had a bird fly into his wheel in turn 3. But we got if all figured out and eventually finished our 5 mile TT in 11:04, a touch over 27mph.
Blue Ribbons for the Blue Train
I left the oval, went to work and wrapped up a few items and got on the road around 10PM. Since I was up at 5AM, I fully anticipated needing to pull over and take a nap, but I wanted to get as many miles behind me as possible through the night to avoid the headaches of weekend traffic in New England. Google Maps said it was 766 miles door to door and it estimated that I would arrive at my destination at 10:33AM if I was going to drive through. I stopped the second time, just after crossing into New York for fuel and was pleasantly surprised that my 20 year old Subaru still manages 30+ miles per gallon. (to keep this family friendly I will not share the reason I had to stop the first time that caused me to leave one of my favorite tee shirts on the side of the road). As I struggled to stay awake on 84 in NY, I was hoping to make it past Hartford before napping because the traffic absolutely sucks during daylight hours. And as I approached Hartford, I started getting my second wind and kept pushing on with a goal of making it to the rest area on the Mass Pike... then it was a rest area on 495 I've frequented... then liquor store in NH... then LL Beans in Freeport, Maine. I crossed into Maine around 7:45AM, my favorite moment of every trip.

The middle of the Piscataqua River Bridge is the state line between New Hampshire and Maine
I did stop for fuel in Freeport but was feeling good so I pushed on with Northport Maine in my sights. I covered the 785 miles at 10:26, just 7 minutes faster than the ETA that was predicted some 12 hours prior.  Technology is utterly amazing.

And surprisingly, despite being up for over 30 hours, I managed to stay awake and visit with my parents until 130 when I finally went and took a nap.  And as a surprise to me, Mom and Dad had lobsters and corn for dinner when I woke up. Nothing like 5 star dinning for the first meal of the stay!
Finally able to enjoy some of the PBR's we won at the TTT the night before

Dinner is served

Up close and personal with my favorite Crustacean
I didn't get on the bike like I'd hoped and tomorrow it is supposed to rain, but I do have to leave something else to look forward to since Fresh Lobster is checked off my to do list already. Check back as I will try to update you again the next few days.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mountain Bike Nationals

Every year, hundreds of kids compete in national events all around the country and even the world. Every sport that I can think of has a 'Nationals'; cycling, ice hockey, and softball to name a few. The thing about cycling that makes it different from other sports is that only five people(per category) get get recognition for their achievements, and only one of those people is the 'National Champion'. This means that a lot of cyclists go to a national event and race super fast, but don't grab a step on the podium. There is no denying that those steps don't just hand themselves to you, you gotta work hard to get one, as I proved to myself this year. Even after you work hard training all year, tons of other things can cause someone to miss a step, like: crashes, flat tires, broken chains, bad positioning on the start line, and any number of other things. But I guess it's just as much luck as it is preparation. This year at USA Cycling Mountain Bike Nationals, luck and preparation were on my side.

At Nationals this year, I got the third step on the male, category 2 15-18. The preparation was rough: many hours spent on the trainer, many extremely hard workouts on days when I just wanted to lay on the couch and watch movies, and also having to rest on days when I wanted to go out and just ride. It wasn't easy, sometimes it wasn't even fun, but it was fun racing minutes ahead of the rest of my category. 

We arrived at Bear Creek Resort in the late afternoon on Wednesday, July 16. The whole car ride there all I tried to do was not think about the race. I was extremely nervous, which is rare for me and races... Skip over all the not so exciting stuff that happened Wednesday night and move onto Thursday morning. I woke up, walked up to the cafe with my dad, got pancakes and bacon, then went back downstairs. Again extremely nervous, I decided to take a bath. I don't actual understand my rational for this, but I don't have to. Then I put my kit on, pumped my tires and lubed my chain, then laid in bed to try to calm down more. I got on my trainer at about 10:30, to allow 20 or so minutes to get to a good spot at staging, because the start is everything. There were call-ups but I didn't have one so I was starting in the center of the third row, not great, but not terrible. Fast forward to 1 lap to go, Adam Cohen was off the front with a rather large gap, I was sitting in third right behind Tommy Steinebrunner. I grabbed my bottle at the feed zone and cruised up the gravel climb to the single track. I moved ahead of Tommy right before the single-track climb, then he moved in front of my about half way through. We got to the top of the first descent and I passed him so I could have a clear line of sight to pick my line. This worked extremely well for me, I was smooth and fast through all the rocks. Tommy moved ahead of me on a short double-track section and then it was back into the single-track climbing, and then descending. Unfortunately there was no room to move around him before this descent, which was the rockiest and had many switch-backs in it, so I was stuck behind him for this. I knew that if I stayed with him to the last 100 meters of so I would have a great chance at out-sprinting him and taking second. Unfortunately, I crashed right after the last switch-back with about 1.5K to go, and while trying to catch Tommy again, I punctured my tire. I knew I had a sizable time gap on the people behind me so I stopped to try and let the sealant get into the hole. For some reason it didn't work super well, so I ran it for about 100 feet, then said screw it and got out my CO2. I put in a bit of CO2 to bring it back up to pressure, then just started riding. Sealant was spraying all over my leg for a bit, but it sealed with about 1K to go at about 18psi. I had to be gentle so I didn't wreck my wheel, but I wasn't too gentle. I made it across the line in third place, and I was extremely happy! I went to congratulate my competitors and then to the hospital for stitches, which turned out to actually only be one stitch(called a horizontal mattress). I got back to the resort, put on a kit, and got ready for the podium! My first podium at Nationals!! 

Now for Pictures!

Artsy Pic of Medal

Top 5

                                     The Transformation

Thanks to my parents for making great experiences like these possible, Devin for killing me with workouts, and everybody else on the team for making my training for Nationals enjoyable!

Shoutout to all of our sponsors:
Dynamic Physical Therapy, Pathfinder of West Virginia, Morgantown Brewing Company, Apothecary Ale House & CafĂ©, Sketches by Anne, Kenda Tires USA, Swiftwick Socks, Performance Coaching Services, ProGold Bikes and Cannondale Bicycles for helping make it possible! Kenda's Slant Six tires gripped over every rock, the Swiftwick socks kept my feet comfy the whole race, and the ProGold kept me sparkly and lubed for the race!