l a k e • c o m o

Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.

- Leo Tolstoy


A wonderful reunion with friends led to a peaceful day spent with family, when we chose to board a ferry boat around Lake Como for our last day of vacation together.

Collecting our tickets, we admired the beautiful town of Como, “the rationalist city” once again in the daylight.

When we climbed aboard, the breeze moving along the lake tossed out hair, chilled out skin, and emptied our minds.

I saw smiles returning to faces.


Although all kinds of differences of opinion and disagreements seemed to come up over the last week spent in close quarters, everyone was lulled into a wondeful feeling for the 7 hours spent on the lake. 


The ferry stops rattled by.


We explored the three levels of the boat, from front to back. We tried out different places for taking photos, cooling off, warming up, standing or lounging, and everywhere enjoyed panoramic views of the lake and mountains.


I resigned myself to the fact that there were thousands more beautiful views and pictures around me than I could possibly capture. I  was content when my phone battery faded and I could repurpose it as a paperweight in my skirt pocket; perfect for holding my light clothes down on the windy deck.


We stopped in Bellagio for lunch.


The restaurants looked fairly crowded, so we had made to order sandwiches from a speciality grocery store and made a small picnic.


We saw many fine shops, but we didn’t need anything but maybe another taste of gelato.


It was a beautiful voyage of discovery to share. 

a o s t a

“the trick is, when there’s nothing to do, do nothing” - warren buffett


hello from aosta again! for the first time in more than 40 days I stayed in the same exact place two nights in a row, and although this  made me homesick at first, I really like the breakfast here at hotel mignon, so that’s something to look forward to!


yesterday saw - 8km of wandering around the aosta- bumping into friends, making an ortheo appointment, eating gelato, listening to the italian tapes of city conversation, washing clothes and even shopping.

now that i am italy the lingering race, race, race spirit I set off from New York with has almost disappeared.

when my confused coffee order in italian yielded two cups - a coffee with a side of cappuccino, I decided they get really me here. I could stay at least another day or two. 

One day for the ortheo to click my back into place this afternoon, maybe one more day to let it set in place.


All in due time. 

The day began with me trying to check out of the hotel, and the front desk giving me an ice pack and Tylenol instead.


A stern but caring look and a point across the street.

This is when I went to do my laundry and go shopping. I really didn’t want to walk myself into an emergency room, but if I had to, I needed clean clothes.

Before it came to that though, I stopped in a clean place buzzing with people and a sign outside - “massage, osteopatia”.

I thought to myself, well, if you were waiting for a sign, this might be it. 

No one spoke 100% English, but one of the  therapists cracked her neck twice to demonstrate “osteopathic massage”, and that was good enough. 

I arranged to come back and went on with my day.

I saw the other pilgrims with backpacks and walking sticks just arriving in town.  


It felt like I was on a different track with clean hair and a shopping bag on my arm.

But I was happy to realize that now two small groups of Via Francigena pilgrims I had met  along the road would be in town, and hoped we could all come together. 


I went back to the hotel and took a nap.

When I woke up, I checked my messages to see both groups had assembled separately on the same main street.

I headed in that direction. Within minutes and without texting, we all found each other sharing a table and stories; of hiking the Great St Bernard this week, The Camino de Santiago (the other Sarah did it with a broken arm and got her stamps on her cast!!) and English hospitality on the Coast to Coast and from Canterbury! 

It was a good moment and certainly good luck that although we came from four different continents and countries we could be in the same place at the same time to share a piece of pilgrimage. 








r o c k a w a y

sunday october 8



the best days begin with coffee.

well, everyday begins with coffee, but in the words of laird hamilton, the key to happiness is maximizing each day.

i woke up on the last day of this weekend with a tiny sunday bummer because, in anticipation of red eye flights and marathons to come, I just didn't make any plans and the weekend was about to pass me by.

what did I have to show for it? a pile of clean laundry and maybe a bigger imagination for the 1970s (that's another post). I slept 12 hours Saturday night instead of hauling into the city.

I woke up in a bit of a fog anyway on Sunday and trudged my skateboard to the one coffee shop in my neighborhood for inspiration.

one of the things I like most about where I live is the community. The world is so connected today for all the reasons people talk about- social media and cell phone towers. plus, New York is a city thick with people, parties and places. I feel hyperconnected sometimes because of all of that, plus its nearly impossible to walk out of the house without coming face to face with a friend in my tiny neighborhood.

and so it was Sunday morning. before the sweet caffeine could even hit, by chance, I bumped into friends for a day of exploring (and two others I had been trying to introduce using my phone for a month!)

but okay, the exploring.


because rockaway is so close to New York, but also so remote, in the 1950s it was a missile base. The US militaryhas built a lot of stuff all over rockaway, includingwood jettys (submerged objects) that add sketchiness to the line up, and these huge bunkers on the west end of the peninsula that have been abandoned for years. Now they're just this massive network of WWIII-proof tunnels filled with fresh graffiti, creepy candles (in places) and the usual litter of bored youth (empty beer cans and Newport cigarette packs).

I had heard ... and I was really interested in this big scale collab between the US military and disenfranchised youth. A massive spectacle just hidden from plain view.


But first, a surf check. We hiked through the wet sand of a rainy day a bit to post up at a spot where no Surfline cam exists.

We found a shelter with some cool paint, but we hadn't hit the bunkers yet


So we continued through the woods on a super overgrown path until we saw this --


And found ourselves on the set of a music video of sorts


making it a pretty cool day after all.

for morethe abandoned military bases at fort tilden ..





h a m p t o n s



the triathlon was a new challenge to add after a year of training for endurance. i came out of the comrades marathon in june with a new confidence. the time I spent traveling in south africa self-supported (to borrow a term from trail runners) changed my attitude on life. 


my reservations about triathlons were named. i wasn't confident in my swimming. i didn't own a proper bike or techie wetsuit or special shoes, and didn't want to buy a new pile of gear. 


but the appeal of a tri was obvious - i love endurance sports, I live to try new things, I love the water and surfing. through my passion for running have met tons of dedicated triathletes. Sometimes I try to convince them to run marathons or the Comrades. A lot of times they try to convince me to do triathlons. Obviously there  reservations on both sides, but sometime after Comrades,  I stopped saying "I could never..."



So I looked back at the reasons I thought I could never.... do a triathalon more carefully. 


First, the courage to swim. Water is such a powerful force. There's something sacred and taboo about it. As humans, we know we can drown. It's deep in our psyche. You can't breathe water. But that doesn't mean we can't swim.


It took basically a dare and a opportunity to show off to make me realize I could swim. 


Because I have surfed a lot over the past few years, I am familiar with being in open water, but I still thought of the board as a security blanket I couldn't do without. It's a giant floatation device tethered to your leg, after all. What lifeguards put drowning people on. I didn't feel like because I can surf, I can swim. 


I also worried how I looked. I hadn't taken swim lessons since I was a kid, and in my family we like to tease each other about being "doggy-paddlers". I didn't remember anything about form or technique, and felt like maybe I was just thrashing around and not even moving when I hit the water. I couldn't take my ridiculous strokes to a professional event without months of coaching, I reckoned.


But I did!


There are probably a lot more proper ways to do things, but I pretty much let go of these fears after a kind of dare on a hiking trip late summer.


The challenge was to swim in a lake to a small island and back, and something about getting from point A to point B clicked in my distance runner's brain. I started swimming my unrefined, thrashing, doggy paddle freestyle in the direction of point B, and when I paused and looked back, I realized I was moving in the right direction. 


OK, I checked in with myself. Can you breathe? Yes. Does anything hurt? No. Are you tired? Not really. Can you breathe and move for as long as it takes to get there? Yes. Yes. It's not going to take more than 11 hours (the time it took me to run the comrades marathon course) right? 


No, just follow. I thought. The people I was with knew how to swim and lifeguarded. So OK, if I was drowning and not swimming, someone was there to pull me out. 


I was so scared of drowning, I did whatever I was doing, breathing and kicking and rowing my arms to move forward, with as much strength and speed as I could, because I would only be convinced I was swimming and not drowning when I hit dry land again.


To my surprise, I could cover the distance in roughly the same time as the "actual swimmers" TM.


I can swim!! I told everyone on Monday. I learned I can swim! I swam. I knew how to swim and I didn't know it. Let's do a triathalon, I told everyoNe - Because now I can swim!! 


It was a long time coming, because a triathalon race and training partner almost immediately manifested when I let go of my fear of the swim.


So next, the gear! Ironically, after years of going to horse shows on weekends, I decided trekking equipment to compete was a hassle when I could show up and blow up at marathons with just a pair of sneakers and some multipurpose shorts and t shirts. I always associated triathlons with buying lots of stuff to make you faster- special wetsuits, goggles, swim caps, bike shoes, a bike, a helmet and who knows what else. But I believed that the sport underneath could be simpler, so I started asking around and thinking how I could absolutely simplify the shopping list. I wrote this out in an early post (the minimalist tri). As the event came closer, I to remind myself I would have everything I needed in the moment I needed it, and I should be careful not to just be soothing my prerace jitters by buying stuff.


In the end, I rented a bike for 24 hours (the day before the race at a local shop), bought goggles for $8 in Brooklyn (which I took off my face during the swim), splurged on $70 padded bike shorts at the expo (worth every cent) , and for $14 initiated myself into the triathalon do-dad club with an elastic race belt to wear my number without pinning it. 



The race came with a swim cap.


I wore a wetsuit t I had from surfing, which was more to fit in with everyone else at the start of the race than for warmth or buoyancy,  since I also took it off gave it to a lifeguard halfway through my swim, ending in a basic speedo.


I rode the bike with running sneakers, and it worked fine.


In the end, I swam slowly, I biked slowly, and I ran with strength to finish. 



I found an intense sense of accomplishment and surprise not at the finish line, but at the end of the swim, having done something I previously thought impossible or did not know I could do.


Well, and when I rented my bike the night before the race, because I had trusted that I would have everything I needed when I needed it, and not a moment sooner, and that's how it worked it out. 


Okay and one last thing, the same people that encouraged me to try a triathlon were incredibly helpful along the way. I am learning everyday that people are amazing and will help you if they

can and if you accept.