Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Blog's Demise

The time has come to say goodbye to my blog.  Part of me is sad and a bit nostalgic but more than anything I'm excited.  This blog started as one thing and ended up something quite different than the original intention.  It's time to start fresh.  So rather than being all final about it, why don't we start something new?  Skip on over to my new address at and have a look around.  If you'd like my new posts to come straight to your email inbox just sign up (where it says "sign up" or "follow" in the side bar) and you won't have to wonder when I post or look for me on Facebook.
But if this is goodbye I want to say thank you.  Thanks for reading, commenting, stopping by to look and buying from my Etsy shop back in the day.  It means more to me than you know.
If you are hanging on for the ride, thank you too.  It's the same ol' me with new shoes.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Great Expectations

"expectations are merely premeditated disappointments" --Wendy Silvers
to prepare for spring one must first:
detect fever, hear cough, look at sunken eyes
spend several hours at the pediatricians office
travel cross town to find the last remaining boxes of Tamiflu because "flu season is over"
fork over 120 bucks to cover all three kiddos just in case
pump her full of fluids and donuts (all she'd eat--don't judge)
pile on blankets, hand over remote
disinfect, disinfect, disinfect
chisel away at the ten loads of laundry that appeared overnight
work from home
[6 miles, 52:49, 8:48 ave pace, trail loop around the house]
make dinner
just. keep. moving.
8:30 pm, collapse

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Didn't Throw Up

A favorite seventy-something year-old friend likes to remind us (whenever we get fed up with current circumstances) that all we have to do is wait five minutes and things will change.
We know this to be true about the weather of late.  These photos mark a time lapse of 48 hours. Okay, so that's longer than five minutes.
It is Spring.  Time for change, growth, renewal, waking up. I'm following it's lead this year and waking up too. 
After proclaiming I had no plans to run any races this year or ever I have already signed up for two.  If you've been following along at all you know this is a first.  I've adopted a singular focus on running with mountain biking and slacklining as offshoots because I can't run every day or maybe I'm just crazy.  I even swam laps Monday for the first time in over 20 years.  I think that makes three times in my whole life I've ever swam laps. 

I'm spurned on by stories of people much older than me who can run much, much faster and farther.  It makes me want to go faster and farther too.
So with a little help from a book on loan from Clair (thank you again), I've started actual training without telling you.
I'm up to eleven miles at a 9:36 average pace.  Tuesday I did some speed work (interval training from the book) and warmed up for a little over a mile, 9:22 pace, then ran 3 miles fast with rest in between to sputter, gasp for air and regain feeling in my legs (7:22 mins; 7:20; 7:18) and then cooled down with a 9 min mile. 
I could have sworn I went slower with every mile but I blame that on a side effect of perceived effort.  Running is hardest when I want to quit.  And when it's hard.
All this is to say that with a bit of focused effort things can change.  I never ran like this before, maybe because I had no idea it was possible.  I've still got nothing on this guy.  He was amazing. 
My theory is there's something in the shoes (Clif ran in wellies), and this all may change come race day.  In my many years of playing tennis I practically perfected the choke.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

People Get Ready

This isn't about running but it is.  It isn't about icing the homemade cookie cake with the homemade icing and exploding Ziploc bags (they made me do it) to get ready for the birthday party.  It isn't about lacing up my shoes or carb loading, pre-hydrating or plotting the perfect route.  It isn't about sending out invitations.  The minutia of my daily life isn't worth the print because you probably don't care.  Especially if you're not a runner or a mother.
I write best when I run, so I think.  I am eloquent, have earth-shattering thoughts and get goosebumpy with ideas.  Maybe it's the oxygen, the surging brain juices and electricity.  Perhaps I'm delusional.  Because when it's all over and I sit in front of the computer to type, my hands hover as if frozen above the keyboard and my mind is barren as a desert.
But the theme from yesterday's long run was preparation.  That much I remember.  Whatever I did to prepare was just the right mix to ensure a favorable outcome.  It reminds me of a favorite song.  A classic.  Goosebumpy.
Yesterday was the kind of day I'd been waiting for, anticipating.  Years ago when I thought my life couldn't have gotten any worse (but surely it could have) I knew there'd be sunnier days ahead if I'd just persevere.  Now those days are here and I wonder how things could get any better (but surely they will).  I realized in one moment that joy is the best preparation for sadness, sadness the necessary curriculum for joy.  Today, I will take them both.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


I was grumpy last week. I hate being grumpy because it makes me more grumpy.
So I reminded myself how good I've got it.  I read stories of inspiration, here and here. I ran with my son.  I ran through the winter wheat that's such a shocking bright green against the blue sky that I not  only see life, I feel it.  I ran a faster than normal 10 extremely hilly miles past picture perfect equestrian farms all alone and pushed myself when I wanted to quit to see if I would and didn't. I made lemon scones for my daughters and popcorn the old-fashioned way and wondered why I EVER quit.
In the end I realized I have nothing but a bunch of FWPs (first world problems) that aren't even problems at all.  And the next time I'm grumpy I get to do it all over again.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

It Must be the Shoes

Please don't think too hard about what I might be saying in this picture.  Obstacles on mountain bike are still a new phenomenon, well not new, getting over them without crashing is what's new.  I swear it's not me, it's the shoes.
These shoes.  They are not beautiful, they're functional, they keep me on my bike (clipped in, had to buy new pedals too) and completely change my mountain biking experience for the better.  I can pedal while flying over roots and up steep, twisty switchbacks instead of trying for dear life to keep my feet glued to my pedals and failing.  They work.   
So did these, all seven or eight pair or how ever many I bought before they discontinued the model.  I'm having a hard time parting with them but when the toe turns black it's time for new shoes.  I ran a total of five times or 32 miles in the ones below and they KILL my feet.  My last nine mile run hurt from the first step to the last and I knew they had to go, it was getting worse not better.  I just look at them now and feel pain.
So, after much research and a few more coupons I'm branching out.  These had better work or my husband might start giving me sideways glances about all these shoes.  Really, this is not like me.
I guess it's my version of the nice dress.  I'd much rather spend money on the stuff that gets me outside pursuing some sort of physical challenge like the Marl Ravine Trail at York River State Park instead of wearing makeup and being fancy.  Man, what a fun day.  But that's just me.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Last Hurrah

I looked in the mirror this morning as I dryed my hair and thought, where did winter go? 
Clearly it didn't go anywhere.  It's right outside my window.  But January, February...poof!  Gone.  March, how funny you are with sunny, sixty degree days interspersed with this season's only true snowstorm, and thunder-snow at that.  What a mid-week treat.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Adult Diapers

I wasn't ready for adult diapers until Saturday. I hit the trails again for a blood-pumping two hours, pedaling through the cold, from the cold with my new best friend, a mountain biking game changer. Strangely they reminded me of work. There was the diaper factor, the wheelchair cushion-like gel.  Luckily I was using them to run into trees, derail my chain, hop over logs, avoid the dreaded endo instead of the alternative and by the time it was over I could hardly think straight. My thighs burned, my stomach wanted ALL FOOD IN SIGHT and my brain was toast. Nothing does me in more than mountain biking and this girl pushes me. She says she's out of shape and if that's the case then so am I!
To avoid wuss-dom and live up to my new motto that "I can do what I put my mind to" I kept my commitment to run eight miles with Mimi on Sunday.  I'm enjoying the outcome if I decide to just go for it, to see if I can take it, so go for it I did.  I may have had a close call with a passer by while relieving myself roadside (if I'd been wearing real diapers they'd have come in handy) and a few stray cattle on the road but I plodded along the country miles and felt new strength and a new blister.
Surprisingly I haven't yet crumbled into a pile of whining bones.  I've lost a toenail, my pants are getting tighter and I'm slowly learning how to train and eat and fit it all in.  But for someone who once thought three miles of running was her limit I'm proof you just never know what you can accomplish until you try.    
Lately motivation has come from thinking of the alternative to health and being overwhelmingly grateful for what I have.  That I can run and bike at all seems catalyst enough to brave the cold, to slough off the pull of lazy.  I recall other types of pain and realize that losing a toenail is nothing in comparison so I keep going.  There will be time enough for diapers of another sort but for now I am on one hand running from that day and on the other more than content to pause here and ride these for all they're worth.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


Patience.  It is what I need today.  I've made it this far through winter without a hint of the doldrums but this past week I hit a wall.  Perhaps it has something to do with working 13 days straight.  Hmmm.
Last night I noticed my need for caffeine in waves like never before.  I was irritable, short, grumpy, exhausted.  Some may say that about wine, they like it to smooth the rough edges, but for me it's just a little caffeine, please.
But we are almost there.  The grey, rainy, foggy, cold wintry weeks we've had lately will soon give way to sun, wind and warmth.  Even today started cold and wet, but now the sun is breaking through just in time for the highlight of my day.
I look forward to running a suburban 10 with my girl, Mimi and know it's in part what I've been missing.  Time with friends, the long run, nice weather, change.
They days will soon be upon us when the kids arrive home from school, drop their books and go outside to wander.  When late dinners and open windows are the norm, spring camping trips and beach excursions on the calendar.  For more hiking, biking and baseball and new adventures in running races. I look forward to it all.
It will come, faster still if I keep my patience.

Monday, February 18, 2013

All for Nothing?

I paid large sums of money to sit in a continuing education course all weekend long to have my brain refreshed about exercise.  Specifically, new approaches to exercise.  It was a good course with knowledgeable speakers.  We lucked out (I think) and had the founder of the company and the course as our instructor and he brought a whole troop of his yes men with him.  I could have done without the egos.
The information would be more applicable if my patients looked like my daughter above and less like they can't remember who I am. It turned out to be a high level orthopedic course, excellent for athletes and generally people who can walk into the clinic unassisted (which rules out all of the patients I see).  I battle daily with coaxing people out of their chairs for more than just trips with their walkers to the bathroom and kitchen.  Oy.  Their mantra: make me better but I don't want to do anything to encourage that to happen.
Certainly I can get creative, modify the exercises and apply when necessary.  I can do it.  This money will not be wasted.  If all else fails I'll use the information on myself and hopefully become a better runner.  Speed squats anyone?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mission Accomplished

Excuse the grainy phone photo taken by the twelve year old on the couch but I didn't bring my good camera to yesterday's pre-run pit stop at Larry's.  There are several good things about this picture:  Friends, the run for the cause, the buckstove cranking out heat behind us warming us up for the cold run, but my favorite is Megan, Larry's wife, sitting atop her favorite horse in the photo on the mantel behind us and the silver trophy beside it.  I've never seen passion for horses (and animals) like hers.  It is a thing of beauty.  It's almost as if she was there in the picture with us, but in reality she was (of course) out riding.
We were down a runner, Mimi worked, but we picked Mike further on up on the road like a hitchiker or desperate running junkie.  We were a loose band yesterday, Mike peeled off from us at 4 to round his run out with 8, Larry veered off at mile 5 to eventually complete 13 and Clair and I stuck together for some coveted girl time for a full and tiring 10 miles.  I'm learning so much about running, my body, myself.

I turned into a pumpkin around 8:30, falling asleep in front of the woodstove while Clair went out and partied like Cinderella all night long.  Fair to say I'm still adjusting to the "long run".

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Run for a Reason: Run for Sherry

Sometimes running is dangerous.  Unpopular to say but true.  My most beloved PT professor died of a heart attack while running the year after I graduated.  He was the age I am now.  He left behind a beautiful wife and three amazing daughters.  I know, I used to babysit them.
In other cases, runners are abducted and murdered as in the case of Sherry Arnold.  Scary but true.  Sherry was the cousin of a friend of a friend.  Sounds cryptic but not so much when I explain it.  I'm friends with Clair, who is friends with Beth whose cousin was Sherry.  Sherry went out innocently one morning for a pre-work run in her home state of Montana about two years ago and the worst of the worst happened.  She was missing for weeks before they figured it out.  She left behind a husband, two kids and many adoring students.  Beth is a big time running blogger in Colorado and this weekend marks the Second Annual Run for Sherry in her memoriam.
Our running crew is gearing up for it.  After this post Larry is now referring to himself as "Mother Hen" which I assured him is the highest of compliments coming from myself, a mother/chicken owner, and Mimi has designated us as his chicks.  Mike is the +rooster.  I've told them we need t-shirts.  This Saturday we'll be out there for another 10-13 miles, Mother Hen and the Chicks +Rooster, donning bibs in Sherry's honor.  We will honor life.  We'll remember how beautiful and precious it is and how swiftly it can be swept away given the wrong circumstances.  We will find power and strength in the group and remember the actions we should all take, men and women alike to keep ourselves safe on the road both from tragedies internal and external.  But most of all we will celebrate running and our ability to do so.

If anyone reading this is so inclined, you can join in wherever you are on either day this weekend.  Beth's blog has more details and you can print your own bib here.  Show us pictures if you go, we'd love to see.  Stay tuned for pics of MH and the Chicks +R, they're sure to be captivating.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Detriment of Youth

a whole life ahead of her
I kissed my husband good bye early yesterday morning, before the roosters crowed and the coffee was ready, before the sun peeked over the barn and told him to stay warm. He told me the same thing, and to have a good run, that he knew I could do it. There were ten miles on the docket despite the sub-freezing temps and he knew I was nervous. Good thing I went with friends.

I don't know how he knew I could do it having never run that distance before.  He's under the impression I could run a marathon tomorrow and he's wrong but I soak up his assuredness, his easy confidence about my running that I lack. He doesn't seem to remember my failures, my aches and pains, the stress fractures, the hip problem that has plagued me for years and the ankle issues like I do. I feel like my body is a ticking time bomb of injury-waiting-to-happen. I remember how slow I felt when I was younger, how I got side stitches, tired easily and was frequently discouraged. He doesn't recall how I flitted from one thing to the next, never really dedicated myself for any length of time to one thing, always getting sidetracked and making excuses. Why now at 42 are things better? Don't we get more decrepit as we get older?

Assuming the reason had something to do with my brain more than my body, I went in search of the answer. Let's keep in mind I am not fast, and have yet to run a race, I'm just saying running is more enjoyable and easier for me now than it ever has been and I wanted to know why. I found an article on BlogHer entitled "Late Bloomer Jocks-Older Women Runners Train Hard and Run Fast". Hmmm. In it the author cites a researcher who among other things asserts "older women may be faster because, oddly enough, they are trying harder than younger women and discovering for the first time what they are capable of" and that "the experience for women as 'a kind of wakening, an epiphany'". Okay, maybe that's part of it. But I think it has more to do with what I tell myself inside. I think it has everything to do with where I am in life, yes, with maturity.

I believe our pursuits, or whatever we dedicate ourselves to as we age, whether it be running or painting or piano, writing, etc., has in part to do with the following:

giving ourselves permission
not feeling guilty, selfish or self-centered for self-discovery
grabbing fun by the hand and running with it (no pun intended)
study, concentration, research
a positive attitude (I can do it!)
belief in something bigger than ourselves (get outside your head, girl!)

It's also important to note, that my twenties were full of self-sabotage.  They were Jekyl and Hyde years, while I was on the one side studying my tail off then starting a career, they were also full of partying and eating poorly. It's hard as hell to run well with a hangover and a belly full of takeout. My thirties were spent pregnant, nursing, recovering from being pregnant, and glued to three little ones so there's all of that to consider too. I suppose now it's time I do something for myself.

But more than that is the transformation of my mind.  I've drifted away from the naysayers in my life, the negative forces that consistently, repeatedly dragged me down and reminded me I was worthless and unimportant. Wrong. Invisible. At the moment I broke free and stuck up for myself if you will, things changed. I taught myself to knit. I started my own business. An Etsy shop. A blog. I dabbled in photography. Family life changed for the better. Things have incrementally improved since that day (after they first got exponentially worse).

Now the road accepts all of my days. The wind listens to my happy thoughts and dries my tears, and God is with me on the run. 

I finished those ten miles yesterday, full of brain fog and good fatigue and parked myself in front of the woodstove after.  I watched two movies and five kids.  I am fine, just like my husband said I'd be.  It was cold as hell on those back country roads and I thought I'd barf the pancakes I had for breakfast, they were a poor pre-run choice.  Note to self.  I ran with my friends, my crew, Clair, Larry and my 20 year PT bestie, Mimi.  Without them it wouldn't have been the same, I might even have given up.  It's the support from those who love you that make anything possible. I wish I knew that in my twenties.  I'm glad I know it now.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bathing in Lazy

I don't relax well.  Sure I have moments where everything goes to jello but they're fleeting and few.  It's not that I don't need to relax, I do, but the pull of all there is 'to do' is much greater than the voice telling me to sit down.  This body is usually on the move.
One good by-product of running longer distances is fatigue.  I ran on Saturday with a new crew of old friends, Clair (whom you may know), her husband, Mike and our buddy, Larry, pack leader.  It was perfection.  We were four forty-something's churning out the miles on a crisp winter day running the picturesque back country roads.  We chatted it up and I giggled every time Larry signaled us about oncoming cars like a mother hen because he really is that nice.  Father protector.
By Sunday my body was tired.  My mind was tired from loose thoughts needing rounded up, so I made rest my goal.  After my usual coffee and meditation time I began Sunday morning in front of the woodstove and didn't move for four hours.  I sprawled on the floor and got lost in cooking shows, let my daughters play with my hair and watched them make a huge mess in my yarn and beads. My son disappeared into the world of Minecraft.  I submerged myself in a big ol' bath of lazy and dragged myself to shower around lunchtime.  One long, slow, do-nothing, sloth-like morning is about all I can muster but it is enough to reset what needs resetting.

I'm eyeing a new (small) race, the trail could make things interesting and provide a memorable baptism into the world of racing.  Four hours is a long time to ponder such important things.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Running, Resilience and Marky Mark

It was date night last Saturday so we went to dinner and then saw Broken City.  We'd been waiting for it, fans of the lead actor, or as my husband says, "I love me some Marky Mark" (who remembers the early 90's?).  I don't have to convince him to go see a movie starring Mark Walhberg, he thinks he's dragging me. 
It's not one for those averse to violence, cussing, or mortal sin, but rather a study of all three, a good, hard look at human nature with plenty of Hollywood drama thrown in. I sat there curious more than anything about the back story of the lead actor (as I often am), wondering about his real life's journey. I assumed Marky Mark's story was troubled and had to look him up.  Sure enough I found the tale of a former 13 year old coke addict, gang member prone to assult-turned long-time married successful father of four.  He attributes his turn around in part to a special priest who put him on the right path, the wake up call only prison can give, and reportedly attends daily Catholic mass. 
Just like an American movie, his life seems (on the surface anyway) to have had a happy ending, or middle as it were.  We all like happy middles, overcoming the odds, turnarounds, the underdog, triumph over tragedy, stories of resilience.  At least I do.
If I had to pick a word or a theme for myself this year, or something to strive for I'd pick resilience.  I thought about it before I went to see the movie. I've been mulling it over for some time.  Mr. Mark is resilient.  It's a hopeful word, a pick-yourself-up-and-dust-yourself-off kind of word.  It conjures images of coming back stronger, better, brighter with a whole new outlook.  Like a rubber band only improved. 
For whatever reason, call it a perfect storm (stormy, yes), I've felt a flip of the switch inside.  A change in perspective from swimming upstream to down, difficult to easy, complicated to simple, work to play, guilt to pleasure.  I'm reminded that every day is a do-over, a chance to start again, create the life I was intended to live, and to run with it.  And run I shall, I'm eyeing some ways to keep my feet busy this year and have plenty of company for the ride which is perhaps the best part, the icing on the cake.

As far as Mark Wahlberg goes, I'll continue to see his movies with my husband and I'm glad he's still alive.  I don't miss his days as a rapper/hip-hop artist, but I wish they hadn't cancelled his brother's TV show, now that was some good stuff.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Worst shower ever

I showered with this stinky boy last night in the small, stand-up shower off the mud room after he'd been sprayed by a skunk, or rolled in it, no telling, each possibility as plausible as the other.  There was no other option, it was all or nothing.  We were locked in together, in a tiny, steamy, coffin-like sauna of brewing stench that made my eyes water, he just panted and tried to bust out.
The things we do for our pets.  Or maybe I did it for me.  He could care less if he stinks.
I know, I know, you'll tell me there are fool-proof remedies and I know there are but I wasn't about to get out of my pajamas at nine o'clock to go pick up 3% hydrogen peroxide on a Sunday night so I could give him yet another dousing.  No, this would have to be good enough and good enough it was.
Now we've bonded in a new way, one I hope never to repeat only somehow, I feel certain we will.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


This is my go to scarf.  My warmest, cuddliest, squishiest, coziest one, perfect for the dreary winter weather we've had lately.  I made it a few years ago and love it so much I had to make another.  I'm happy to say my elbow is much better and has allowed me to knit, half of the new one is on the needles.  If this weather keeps up and they cancel school based solely on the threat of snow as they are known to do, I just might finish it up by the weekend.
The particulars:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Run rain run

Yesterday I ran in the rain and now my husband and both of the kids' bus drivers think I'm crazy.  The one with the crochety voice, snarled lips, lap blankets and who puts the heat on when it's 70 degrees out especially.  I've run in the rain before, my husband even ran in the rain that morning, but somehow when I do it it's weird and to that I say, poo.
My little blue jacket was a wise investment and kept me perfectly dry underneath, 'cept for the sweat.  My hands and feet were soggy but once I got going the water was no problem, I was focused, stopwatch in hand, repeats the goal. 
I have a stack of new books thanks to friends and I'm hopping from one to the next, feeling incrementally inspired as I go.  I also have a plan and in the wise words of my friend, Larry, "plan your run and run your plan".  Larry, I'm trying.
What's a little weather when you read a book about a guy who has run through every kind of storm, or when you read about your friend's adventure race in Borneo where she wound up with staph infections, 400 leech bites and lung flukes afterward and shrugged it off like the rest of us would a bad haircut?  I've started Chi Running and am thumbing through Run Less Run Faster on loan from Clair as well as The Runner's Diet so I can learn what I'm doing wrong there, I'm sure there's plenty.  And then there's a little book about healing, for the inner me, something I can only take in small doses but it's time and it's a good accompaniment to my daily meditation.
Whatever comes of all of the reading/running/biking the silver lining is this:  I am fully distracted and not perseverating on how much I dislike winter.  I dare to say I am finding just as much opportunity in winter as summer and if the weather gets a little hairy there's always the treadmill. As I write this I also see I'm not alone in my pursuit of wetness and fitness, that Clair also plans a full on dreary, rainy, winter run today and to that I say, it sure is good to have crazy friends.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Small victories: singletrack round II

I will never be a professional mountain biker, that isn't the goal. But I got out there again and down and up the hill I wouldn't even try last time. This new adventure is about saying to hell with 42, trying something new, getting out there even in the winter (yesterday it was 65, okay, doesn't count) instead of holing up inside and complaining about the cold.  It's about looking fear in the face, trying anyway and coming up on the other side.

We won't talk about how I almost took out my riding partner, yep, clipped her right in the side as I yelled, "i'mgonnarunintoyoui'mgonnarunintoyoui'mgonnarunintoyou!" and bam! I did as she stood there trying to catch me.  At least she laughed.  She said she thought I was going to stay on the trail.  A good assumption (yes!), but she doesn't yet know who she's riding with.

I'm tired of being afraid, of limiting myself due to the little voices in my head that don't believe in me and tell me I can't.  Yes, I landed on my ass once but I got back up.  No I didn't make it up every hill but I tried every one, I made it over every log this time and worked on my technique and watched the pro and learned as I went.  Isn't that what life's all about?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why run?

I thought about the thousand different reasons people run, everything from getting in shape to losing weight to accomplishing personal goals.  But when it comes to why I run, why I've always run, what it really all boils down to I came up with three reasons:
1.  I like it
2.  It's fun
3.  (at the present moment) I can
Of course I can go into much more detail than that, breaking each item down into sub-parts but I might lose you so I won't.  My husband says I like the idea of fleeing and he makes his index and middle fingers run down the arm of the couch when we discuss it, and in a way he's right and uses an interesting choice of words.  Fleeing without running away.  Yes.
I'm planning on running more in 2013, big foot in big mouth, thanks in part to two very strong supporters:  husband, Clair, both of whom apparently believe more in my abilities than I do in myself.  Funny what some people see in you that you don't see in yourself.  I plan to remedy that, maybe fake it a little till I make it, or just give up on perfection, get over it, get over myself, get on with life. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Singletrack: friends, fear and faith

Singletrack as defined by wikipedia is a narrow mountain biking trail that is approximately the width of the bike. It contrasts with double track or fire road which is wide enough for four-wheeled off-road vehicles. In addition it is frequently smooth and flowing, but it may also exhibit technical rocky sections and may be criss-crossed with tree roots. Single track riding can be quite challenging from a technical standpoint.
In other words, they tried to kill me.  Okay, maybe I'm being melodramatic.
The longer I live the more I realize it's never too late to learn something new.  While one school of thought may be that we are only young once, (ie. we are carefree as children, do fun and adventurous, maybe even stupid things as adolescents/teens, then we grow older, wiser, settle down, have families, slow down, get old, melt into the couch and become a bag of aching bones that groans while the youth of the world do what we once did and lament our misspent younger days), I'm proof that age really is a state of mind and conformity isn't for everyone.
The beautiful women above have recently introduced me to mountain biking and I'm ever grateful.  Not just for their generosity in showing me the ropes, but for being patient, encouraging and believing in me.  This simple thing is a huge gift once recognized. As they believe in me, I begin to believe in myself and realize what I've been missing and what I'm capable of.
I got over my aversion to wearing a bike helmet (so I don't die!) that exaggerates my already extra large head thereby making it a super bubble head.  It was time to have some fun, big head, tight pants and scrawny muscles be damned, I was gonna do this thing.
The pictures don't do these hills justice, especially when perched at the top, peering over handlebars, nevermind the roots you can't see.  She is fearless, confident, poised....
...I, on the other hand am hanging on for dear life and cussing uncontrollably...look closely at my mouth.
They popped right up on the other side....
...while I crashed into my handlebars two-thirds of the way up these steep climbs after flying right off my pedals.  I'm on the hunt for shoes, clipless pedals....
It literally took me three tries on two separate steep drops to psych myself up to careen down the hill and pray I'd pop up.  I had to breathe and give myself some serious pep talks before I could do it.  I summoned my meditative state of mind, I told myself to trust the bike, that if I just hung on it would take me through to the other side, I told myself I could do it and then I closed my eyes and went for it.
It was a good thing.  Even though I crashed and my feet flew off the pedals and I smashed into the handlebars and Ponytail had to catch me so I didn't tip over backward and fly down the hill.  Twice.  On this singletrack I learned how to negotiate roots as tangled as my daughters unbrushed hair, whoop-de-dos that felt like mini roller coasters and quick turns, climbs and logs that I once told myself I couldn't traverse.  Funny what the mind will do if you let it.
And had I known at the beginning of it all that Maureen (Rocket), our fearless leader is a former adventure racer extraordinaire and co-author of a book on the subject who trained for ultra-marathons I would have been terrified to try any of this.  In fact, I'd better not think about it too much or I might lose my nerve to go again!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Slackline party

My husband and the kids bought me a new slackline for Christmas.  Only this time I went old school.  I asked for the original, just climbing webbing, a couple of carabiners and one round, metal ring configured together with a primitive rigging, the way it orginated.  And I forgot to mention, a one inch line, all purchased from REI.  They thought I was crazy and when I opened the package, so did I.
I'd been itching to get a group together at our house after several friends said they wanted to try.  I piqued their interest here, even from our first rough go, to the next post complete with video. There has been a steady progression in skill level that made me want to take it to the next level.  I may have taken it too far!

Whatever happens, Saturday at least was a blast and I think I made some believers out of the crew that was here.  Believers that:

1.  slacklining is so much fun!
2.  you can't stop trying until you GET IT!
3.  it's a crazy good workout for your whole body and is great for kids
4.  it is ten thousand times harder than you think it is

Unfortunately at this point I was otherwise occupied and my friend picked up the camera so I found a ton of pictures of myself.  Yikes!  Until the next party that is.  We had a group of over twenty and plenty more who couldn't come.  If you missed the invite it's because I don't know you're interested.  Let me know if you want to come (locals) and you'll be included the next go around.  The weather's looking fantastic for this weekend so keep your ears open!
it was so hard all I could do was stand and wobble

wearing my son's Keen's

had to use the stool for balance like the old lady I am

warning: when you fall off this one it's a bit like a slingshot