Jul 29, 2008

good choice

when i went out today without the 12 year old because he's too embarrassed to hang out with his mom and his little sisters', i bought him a book. and when i brought it home and gave it to him he barely noticed because he was too busy on his computer game, and i think probably embarrassed that his mom bought him a book. did he have to read it? was it required summer reading? but that choice i made tonight about staying home with the kids, skipping my ride, organizing the office and cleaning the fridge? turned out to be a good one.

the fridge still has rotting zucchini in it, and there are un-filed papers all over the office. but i made a delicious dinner that the kids and i sat down to enjoy together that was not mac & cheese. and after dinner, my 12 year old (voluntarily) sat on the couch to read the new book i bought him. (and mostly, this is because the computer is out of commission due to the fact that the fan on the computer was working overtime to compensate for the fact that for some reason the heat is cranked in this office & will not go off). so i sat next to him while he read the book his embarrassing mom bought him with the new book i bought myself and tried not to look like i was hanging out with him. we were just two people reading books. separately but together. he giggled and shared funny tidbits from his book. he inched closer to me. said the boy in book could be him. which he said disturbed him a bit because of the title. but still. he liked it. we laughed together.

i knew he'd like it. these windows of opportunity of hanging out with your 12 year old and them actually enjoying it are few and far between. i'm glad i didn't go for that ride.

not feeling it

i skipped tonights' ride.
i just wasn't feeling it.
its crazy hot out. and well, like i said - i just wasn't feeling it.
of course, i wanted my husbands' (a.k.a. bike coach) take on the whole thing: the random skipping of a ride just because. and it totally jives with our new listen-to-your-body approach to training. so i'm good.

so i stayed home to finish organizing our family office to accomodate "homework central" (school starts in 2 weeks), and to clean the crisper drawer in our fridge of the rotting zucchini, and to make dinner for my children instead of plunking down a bowl of mac & cheese for all of them and leaving my twelve year old to babysit while we ride. again. and to write about some stuff i've been thinking about which is mainly my listen to your body approach to training (which i am loving) and 12 year olds. which i also love but am currently having a hard time with.

i'll be back to write more. i've got a plethora of posts in my head.

but right now, there is rotting zucchini in the fridge, dinner to be made and a 12 year old to hang out with even though he doesn't want me to hang out with him. and the office i am reorganzing? the heat seems to be stuck on and i can't get it off and its sweltering in here and think my ride may get rained out tomorrow and i'm not sure what to make for dinner and so i'm thinking:

maybe i should have gone for a ride.

Jul 25, 2008

everything hurts

the morning after the first run in seven weeks and three days is a rough one. i hobbled down the stairs wincing with every step. ouch. ouch and more ouch. i swear i was creaking. its been a long time since i have felt this kind of sore. its not the kind of satisfactory sore that makes me feel like i had a good workout. it just plain old hurts. i may have overdone it. may have run a bit too far or too fast for the first time in seven weeks and three days. but that would be so unlike me - you know, to jump right in and go all out.

then again, the creaking and wincing my way down the stairs could be four months from forty talking. i did just find my first few grays several weeks ago. either way - ow.

Jul 24, 2008

i ran today

that's not a typo. i actually ran today. for the first time in, get this: 7 weeks and 3 days.

i was thinking that i might get kicked off the running blog network and then who would find me and read my blog? and then i was thinking that when 'cross season starts and i have to get off my bike at some certain point and run with it that i might forget exactly how to go about doing that. and i'm also joining a running group on saturday morning for the 1st time ever. i didn't want that to be my first run in 7 weeks and 3 days. i wanted a weensy jump start just to make sure i wasn't going to make a total fool of myself.

and so, i ran today. and the first mile felt painful and sluggish and weird. and i wondered what i was doing. and i thought that i haven't been missing a damn thing. i was just waiting to get through next half mile so i could get to the trail. but, just before i hit the trail, i swear - i felt a smile coming on. yes. that was it. a smile. suddenly, it felt good. to be running. and i realized that even though it might be 7 weeks and 3 days between runs, i still love it. i still know how to do it.

which should come in handy when i have to throw my bike over my shoulder and run with it.

Jul 21, 2008

i'm working here.

so. my husband and i have a side gig (in addition to his full time job and my very sporadic, occassional part time help at said full time job). both gigs include doing a lot of website work (creating them) much of which can be done from home. now, my husband can sit at the computer every single night & crank out a bunch of work. but the minute i sit down to work, the badgering starts. where is this? where is that? i am hungry. can i get on the computer?

so i say to my daughter and badgerer of the moment:
how is it that daddy can work from home and nobody bothers him?
she responds: because daddy doesn't know where everything in the house is.

Jul 20, 2008

best. race. ever.

well, it was the best race ever so far. the plan is that they just keep getting better.

race number 11 was the indiana state road race championships. this was the same race that got rained out and cancelled about a month ago. i actually wasn't going to race this weekend & had gotten a refund; but then on second thought, figured i needed all the race experience i can get, so i re-signed up. every race is training and experience and i needed more.

my teammate was out of this one on account of her broken collarbone and concussion from last weekend & my other teammate is more of a mountain bike racer than road racer; so i was on my own. but in the coolest show of support, the girls came up with me - we made a girls' road trip out of the whole thing & it was a blast.

i had a plan going into this race - seeing as i had no teammates with me and knew that there were very few category 4 riders registered (it was a women's open race - all categories / state championship), my plan was to hide and ride. stay protected. stay invisible.

i had a good feeling going into this race (i.e: i was not all jacked up and anxious). i felt good and strong and totally ready. i had my head screwed on and i love it when my head is screwed on right. everything just falls into place. it was a 42 mile race - 4 laps of the course. the first lap was unbelievably cool. i was with the pack and for the first time ever, was able to - or, more accurately, had the confidence to move around in the pack. i did some short pulls on the front, i was gauging where the wind was coming from & positioning myself in the pack to stay protected from it. i had the confidence to steal wheels from girls who were not hanging on closely enough to a wheel, and i had the confidence to move around in the pack and to pull into tight spaces where a gap had been made. i was doing things that would have terrified me just a few races ago. i just kept thinking "i have the legs, i feel strong" and i am telling you - this is infinitely better than the "you are a pussy, just hang it up" mantra i had going for me some days.

soon into the second lap, i was towards the back and was noticing that something was going to happen - some of the girls just looked all squirrelly. i wanted to move up so i could be closer if there was a breakaway - there were two girls in front of me (they were teammates) and it took me a little too long to figure out what they were trying to do; but they were trying to block me -oh. no - this aggression will not stand. i didn't have much room and just one race ago would have been too scared to pass, but i had a new found confidence and passed them - then kicked it in to chase the group & looked back, figuring they would be right on my wheel (i assumed that was their plan). but i shelled them & never saw them again! i did catch the group & settled in for a bit, but lost them again when i took a really simple turn very badly - i shot way out just as the group jacked it up and sped ahead. now i was time-trialing for about 2/3rds of a lap.

while i was time trialing, i passed about 3 dudes off the back of the race that left 5 minutes before us. and i know its so awful to get passed by someone in the race behind you cause i have been there and i am sure will be there many more times. but still. it feels sweet to pass the dudes off the back of the race in front of you.

anyhow - i finally catch one girl and as i come up to her say "nice day for a time trial, huh?" she is so not amused and looks exhausted. (this should have been a hint for me - note to self for next race: keep going. do not ask exhausted looking girls if they want to work with you to help catch group. they are too tired. they will not work). but. i am new at this and i don't know this yet. so i say, do you want to work together to catch group? well duh. she says yeah. and i proceed to pull her tired ass for the next 2 laps. well, that is not really fair to say - she did totally take nano-second pulls. we caught another girl who was equally tired and i think only too happy to share the work. she shared the work way more than nano-second pull girl - but mostly? mostly i blew myself up. only i didn't know at the time that i was blowing myself up. i still felt crazy great and strong. but now i know in the next race i can be more vocal and tell girls like nano-second pull girl to work more. or, if they are just not working, i need to get rid of them. my husband later told me that the two of us stronger girls should have just ridden away and left the girl who was not contributing. cause in the end - both those girls i was working with beat me.

around mile 35, the 93 degree heat, and the fact that i had been working my ass off for 25 miles hit me and my legs like a ton of bricks. my legs were done. my body was done. i watched the two girls just slowly pull away. i just had to keep it up for 7 more miles and make sure no one behind me caught me. nobody did catch me - in fact, i put 5 minutes on the girl who finished behind me and even more time on the rest of the (mostly younger!) pack that slowly straggled in. and the fact that for once, there was a pack of girls BEHIND me that straggled in was huge. for the first time, i was not one of them. i watched them straggle in from the air conditioned comfort of a friends car that i practically fell into upon turning off the finish into the parking lot. i didn't really know how much the heat had affected me & i was not feeling well - but five minutes in the air conditioning made everything feel a bit better. and hearing what my finishing place was what really made it all feel better.

despite the fact that i fell apart in the last 7 miles - this was without a doubt my best race ever. it all came together. everything clicked. i had a confidence that i had never had before on the bike or in a race; and for 35 miles i had the legs. maybe if it hadn't been 93 degrees and i hadn't worked so much on the last two laps the outcome would have been even better - but honestly, i am over the moon about the fact that i took sixth place at the indiana state road race championships!

it was a very good day.

Jul 14, 2008

weekend race wrap up

i had a whole pathetic, whiny race report from saturdays' criterium in the works. i am glad i never finished or posted it. like i said, it was whiny & pathetic. the race did not go at all as planned for me, it seems i have a major issue not with the turns, (i actually never even thought about them); but with getting off the damn line. like red river gorge, my race was over before it began and i came in once again, dead last. i was 3 for 3. but, as with every race, good or bad, i learned a bunch. but mostly, in saturdays' race - i learned that i can be a really poor pouty sport. i was furious, frustrated and disappointed in myself. it took me a while to shake it off, but i finally did - realizing that what counted was the fact that i was out there, racing my bike (albeit not very well). i resolved to do better the next time and to cut myself some slack.

yesterdays' race was going to be the day that the team louisville women really shone. it was a smaller field (not sure, but maybe 10) but best of all - it was a category 4 race. there were three of us racing - no other racer had any teammates, so we knew that we had an advantage in that we could work together - and we were not lining up with any kenyans or girls a few races away from turning pro. the plan was to get a least one of our girls on the podium, we hoped for 2 and had an absolute pipe dream about a sweep (that would be me up on the podium with them); girls can dream, can't they?

so, the team louisville girls all warmed up together on our trainers at the airstream, going through all our usual pre-race rituals - pinning numbers on, listening to tunes, talking tactics, etc; until it was time to line up. studies have shown that i have to be on that start line. literally on the line at start, even one bike back and i'm hosed. so i got out to the line first and just waited for the rest of the girls. as we all sat there (and i am working on perfecting the art of sitting on the top tube and looking calm, cool, collected with my game face on as my husband said my teammate looked; but i've just perfected the dork caught in headlights look), someone had wondered aloud if she was the oldest racer & so we were all laughing and having fun in finding out the age range of our little racy group (17 - 53 if you're interested). we were on the line for what seemed like an eternity & my heartrate was starting to jack up. my teammate (and we'll call her carol cause that's her name & she will play a huge part in the race report) saw me doing my calmthehelldownyogabreathingthing and told me she was going to stay with me to make sure i got off the line. we got the usual rules and regulations, the official walked off & blew his whistle. we start to roll, and while i had trouble clipping in, i kept peddling and lo and behold, i was still with the pack. i can't remember exactly what or how it happened, but i just knew she was there and my god, so was i - miraculously going through the first turn with the pack; and the next & the next with the pack. this was unprecendented. she soon moved up towards the front to work with our other teammate and while i just didn't have the confidence or the skills to make it up front, i was able to stay with the group and was overjoyed. (my husband later told me exactly where i could have made a move to get up front and as with every post race review, i made a mental note for next time).

there was one hairy turn on the back side of the course - it was narrow and jacked up. i lost the group almost every lap on the turn, but caught them by the next one. my mantra was don't let them get away. don't let them get away. i could see my teammates were riding smart. they were not pulling the entire group and i was with the group. i may have been on the back, but i didn't care - i was with them. and i was having one of the best races of all my 10 races; without a doubt, it was my best crit ever. i could tell that my teammates were rocking it and having an equally amazing race. on the 4th lap, we went into that wiggy turn ... i was further off than previous laps, but not worried, i knew i could catch them. the group was a bit strung out, i watched the pack go through, then i watched the girl in front of me go through the turn - she skidded out and crashed into the curb; i went by her slightly terrified by the sight of her crash and slightly, shamefully happy that i was now not last. (i also knew that it was the sort of crash from which she would just get up & get back on her bike).

now, i just had to catch the group in front of me - i had one corner to turn and a long stretch of wide open road ahead, i knew i would get them. i turned the corner all i saw was two riders down. and i mean down. i kept thinking that much like every other bike crash i have ever seen, they would get up and get back on their bikes ... but they were not moving. as i got closer, i saw one of them was wearing green and the panic just rose. i got off my bike and went to them, both women were unconscious - i didn't know which teammate it was until i got right up to her - it was carol. the whole scene was probably one of the most horrifying things i have ever seen. i bent down and said her name over and over, told her i was there and that she'd be ok. they were both breathing, but it was not good. it felt like an eternity before anyone came running over - when i finally saw people coming toward us, i yelled that they needed an ambulance and when some more people came to help, i moved off to the sidewalk and didn't know what to do. my husband yelled at me to get out of there - he knew i was going to lose it and he just didn't want me to see what was going on.

i got back on my bike and tried to catch my other teammate. i was so shaken up and didn't know if i wanted to be on the bike or sitting on the sidewalk crying, but it felt good to be riding with the group and with my other teammate, talking about what had happened - it seemed that nobody really saw what happened, much of the group was ahead of it, and i came upon it after the fact. by this point, the race was neutral (just roll around course, hold position) and everytime we came around, the scene didn't look much different until we saw our friend strapped on a board and loaded into the ambulance. we pulled out of the race at this point to go see her & we had heard that soon after this, the race was cancelled. (they ran the womens' race later in the day with the juniors - suffice it to say, the team louisville girls did not race). we could talk to carol on the ambulance before they loaded the other woman on - she had regained consciousness, but wasn't sure what she had been doing, didn't know that she raced the day before and took third place. it was a huge relief to see her talking after what i had seen just ten minutes earlier.

she was talking even more when i visited her in the hospital yesterday evening, she was trying to piece together a chain of events, but could remember nothing after the first lap. she has some serious battle wounds and a broken clavicle - there were other, far more serious scares throughout the day when some reports came back from the hospital, but thankfully, none of it proved true.

throughout the day, at the race - i just kept hearing how its part of bike racing; you race long enough, you're going to crash. in fact, in my husbands' race later in the afternoon - a race in which team louisville was working to sweep the podium and could have easily pulled it off - another teammate went down in that backside wiggy turn and broke his clavicle - almost taking my husband out with him. my husband avoided the collision and fought for 3rd place. it was a great, exciting race - but sobering to hear of another crash that had happened just one turn before the finish.

it was a crazy day of roller coaster emotions. i've got more to say about race venues, etc ... but i have a really dirty airstream from a weekend of racing that i've got to go clean up, and a friend to go visit.

Jul 10, 2008

don't forget to have fun

things were starting to get out of hand. in my head. i was dreaming every night about crits and turning. in one dream, i was going through a turn over & over again. and each time the dream loop started again i heard herb brooks of usa hockey dream team fame & the movie that went along with it shouting again! again! again! i was really missing the random dreams of marathon training - at least i got to eat frosting with p. diddy and play soccer with my new best friend david beckham. herb brooks was no fun.

i was watching the registration numbers for tomorrows' race slowly go up and up and up. this was quickly becoming the biggest field i will have raced in to date. right now it stands at 21 racers, by start time tomorrow we could be up to the potential for some serious carnage 40. i was getting all jacked up. my husband, a.k.a. the voice of reason; reminded me that this was supposed to be fun. he reminded me that i am a novice racer - every race is just training and experience. i just hope it doesn't train me to stop signing up for crits and i hope the experience isn't one of road rash.

after i got thwapped upside the head with the "this is supposed to be fun" reminder, i went out and pre-rode the course and went out again today to do it again with teammates. the crazy herb brooks' dreams have ceased, and while i don't know if my stuart smalley cornering affirmations have totally sunk in (as much as i want it to be, i don't think its going to be an overnight cornering transformation kind of thing); i am going into the race realizing that my husband, dammit, is right. i am going to have fun. i am not going to worry about final outcome, although pleaseifthereisagodinheavenpleasedontletmebedeadlastagain - i am just going to go with it. be in the racy criterium moment.

just going with it doesn't mean that i don't have a plan though. every race has a plan. in cycling, you have a team with whom to plan and work with. and the lovely girls of team louisville have a plan. and then, like all good plans, should our good plan fall to shit and it very well may the moment i eat gravel; we (i) have some backups - i am sure that my lovely teammates have their own backups as well, but here are mine:

  • plan a: i hang up front with the cool girls long enough to help a teammate podium.
  • plan b: i hang up front with the cool girls long enough that i am mistaken for one of them.
  • plan survival mode: i take a swig of bourbon before the race and hope for the best.

Jul 7, 2008

faking it

i'm sure y'all came here thinking i have moved on from my usual banal boob banter and am taking things up a notch by talking about faking it. and you'd be right. i'm totally working on faking it this week. its tough. a total mind game. but i have been practicing a few nights a week, and i think i am getting better at it. my husband and i are even going to get up at 5am this wednesday to practice some more: we're gonna get all decked out in green spandex and go outside to ride fast around the neighborhood blocks; cause i've been working on faking a love for and confidence in criteriums.

i started thinking that my usual modus operandi of thinking: i hate crits and crits scare the shit out of me wasn't serving me very well. figured things were turning into a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. i need a healthy dose of crit and cornering confidence. that, or, as more than one person has said to me: i need to crash. but since that hasn't happened yet and there is no pill that i know of that i can take and downing a bottle of wine beforehand to take the edge off won't do me any good, i have no choice right now but to fake it and just trick myself and talk myself into liking them.

it goes something like this: i'm on a ride, or a team training cornering clinic and a turn is about to come up; instead of thinking, i'm gonna get dropped. everyone is going to pass me. i suck at turns. i start my stewart smalley cornering affirmations: you are good enough. you are fast enough. you will rock this turn and doggone it, you look damn good in green spandex. mostly, i am trying to shut up the other little voice that says, hang it up, you are a total pussy.

this is working. sort of. the confidence is s l o w l y but surley coming. okay. confidence is a strong word. as is surely. but occasionally, i can take a turn without sloughing off all my speed by braking and this is so monumental i feel the need to announce joyously to everyone around me: "i didn't even brake!!!".

all the i love cornering and criteriums mind games are because i am racing in two crits this weekend. they will be crits number 3 and 4 respectively. the first crit i came in rain delay dead last. the second crit i still came in dead last, but dead last right behind the girl in front of me. and as the only cat 4 rider in that highly technical and jacked race, it was a significant improvement. i have some goals for this weekend, but they are all dependent on the cornering affirmation voice being louder than the hang it up, you're a pussy voice.

so, i am hoping that all the practice serves me well. wait a minute, scratch that. this weekend, i am totally going to rock the crits. a .75 mile course with 8 turns? child's play. bring it on. i love crits.


Jul 4, 2008

i.d. please

so i am at kroger.
its the 4th of july.
we need beer.
its' an emergency situation.
i'm in the checkout line with
burger buns, corn and beer.
hello. a cookout in the making.
in the aftermath of what was a cluster
of a bike ride with my husband,
that kept us out a lot longer than we meant to be out;
i'm still in my bike shorts, top & cycling gloves.
i just grabbed my check card & keys and ran out the door.
as she scans the beer,
she says may i see your id?
and, if i actually had my id on me,
i would have been so totally i-am-nearly
40 flattered & would have been chatty and nice.
but i didn't have it on me.
so instead,
i went on a tiny tirade.
oh. you're not serious.
she was.
i don't have it on me.
i just ran out of the house.
oh come on.
i'll be 40 in november
i have three kids.
oh come on!
you have got to be kidding me.
i want that beer.
no joy.
so, as i stand in the kroger line beer-less,
i am just hoping i see someone i know
so they can buy beer for me.
but i figured everyone i knew was at home
cooking out.
having a beer.

Jul 1, 2008

hometown hero

my heart is still racing, the adrenaline still pumping. the most exciting 2 minutes in sports has nothing on the 30 seconds i just witnessed. i just got back from watching one of the most exciting races ever; made all the more exciting when we watched as our good friend crossed the finish line first to become a national champion for the 2nd time in as many days.

masters national championships is here in louisville this week. yesterday, our friend won the tandem time trial and today she was racing the road race. it was a 45 mile race; 9 laps of five miles each. each time she came around, she looked good & strong, she was riding smart and was perfectly positioned; but there was nothing particularly exciting about the race. yet.

the more exciting race for a while was actually the older age group race (35-39). this group went off 5 minutes after my friends' group (30-34). about 3 laps into the race, one of the women was so far out in front, she passed the younger group in front of her and had two women chasing. i thought there was no way the woman could hold that lead and totally figured two women behind her would catch her by the next lap. it was quite the contrary. the woman off the front put more & more time on the girls behind her. at one point, she was 9 minutes ahead of everyone. every time she went by and we noticed that her chase group was farther and farther back, our jaws just dropped. i heard the announcer say her name, her age and the fact that she was the mother of 3 children and i thought i want to be her. it was awe inspiring to watch her win her age group and a national championship by 7 minutes.

after that awe-inspiring win was another sweet win by the hometown girl and our good friend. there were a bunch of us all lined up at the gate, fellow racers and friends cheering on the local girl. while the previous 8 laps were not particularly exciting, we were waiting with baited breath to see what the group looked like when it crested the hill into the final sprint. the wait was nerve wracking. and as they came up, the screaming & cheering started; she was right where we all thought she'd be, but it looked close. she was in a total sprint but she had a girl close on her wheel. i thought my heart would pound out of my chest as we watched them get closer to the line.

the cheers were deafening as we watched her cross the line first and i think people who didn't even know each other were hugging. it was the most amazingly fun & joyous celebration. she rode so well and so smart and made us all proud and looks totally rockin' in her sweet new stars & stripes jersey. she came right over to our group and when we all heard that she had flatted out on the last lap, had a wheel change and caught the group to still take the win; it made her all the more amazing and badass.

i'm on cloud nine. over the moon. my friend totally kicks ass and rocks. oh yeah - and she's a national champion.

*all in all, 3 local women - women i have had the pleasure of riding with and learning much from; all took home a sweet stars and stripes jersey in the past two days. girls totally rule.

next days' addendum: queens of the road.