Friday, September 24, 2010

Out of Town Affair

Even though I didn't pick up the hitchhiker who promised not to kill me on his sign, I did manage to pick up a new passenger on the trip. I have to say he is very handsome and good company. I am not sure that I should be telling you this but as soon as I saw him I knew I had to have him. Of course like any new relationship you need to spend some time getting to know each other. It would have been nice if we had more time to learn each others nuances before going public but we only got one outing. He is a smooth talker and likes to move fast but I insisted on being on top so I was somewhat in control of things - somewhat but not really!

Handsome isn't he?! 

Site of our first date

The day after we met and had our first date we went on a cougar outing. We lined up at the start of our first cross race with all the masters women. Of course, they were all experts in handling the hot young things that they had mounted. It was pretty darn obvious that I was new to this venue. I had taken off my hotties flashy wheel reflectors and made sure he wasn't overdressed. However, when they started talking about call ups and bell laps the look of utter panic on my face was a redflag to all those around me. Luckily, before moving as far away from me as she could, one other racer explained to me what they heck they were talking about. Apparently, if the leaders lapped me at any point I would be asked to leave the course. Awesome, I had a new goal, we were not to get lapped!

It was the most fun and hardest 30 minutes ever at the same time. I can ride a bike and I can run but I am totally awful at running and mounting my bike in motion. When the seasoned riders do this move it is like watching two dance partners. I should have warned my guy before hand that I am not much of a dancer. Little did he know that his dance partner was not going to help him win any dance competitions. Nope, I was much more like Elaine on Seinfeld but the problem was I had to dance, no sitting this part out! Still, mission accomplished and I wasn't lapped, I wasn't even the last cougar across the line. I was very fortunate to have my own cheering squad and after my race we watched the 'real' cross racers do it. It was so fun we went out and did it again the next morning!

Lost my Cyclocross Virginity

PS- seems we might have had a shot picking up another man if we were so inclined;)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Driving Miss Tana

Tana and I are once again on the road. We are great travelling companions, we have our routines established and both know our roles. I know my place is to drive, regulate the temperature and make sure that Tana gets all her needs met. Tana's role is to look pretty and get plenty of rest along the way. Oh, she also takes the job of spotting cows very seriously. She actually stands up when she sees a cow and makes sure she watches them out the rear window. When there are no cows (or horses, or goats) to survey she just lets me do my job and enjoys the ride.

somewhere along the I5, where there are no farm animals!

Thanks to the hitchhiker on the side of the road just after I entered Oregon today. He gave me a good belly laugh with his sign 'I WON'T KILL YOU'.  Okay, if you say so I guess I'll pick you up?! As funny as I found that approach I just hope that whoever believed him isn't found dead with that sign in the back seat. I couldn't pick him up even if I had wanted to because as you can see there isn't any room when I am driving Miss Tana.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Skinny Dip Friday

Now that I am no longer focused on Leadville I have been trying to get back to my multisport roots. The simplicity of just biking is gone and now I am attempting to fit in swimming and running once again. You would think after all the years that I have been doing this that 4 months off wouldn't be a big deal. Wrong. It seems that I somehow forgot how to prepare for multiple workouts in a day. Not to mention the lack of swimming and running fitness. Sure, I am pretty fit from all the biking but I pedal a bike with my legs and my main concern with my arms all summer was to keep them relaxed. Well, they got relaxed alright, and weak too! In my third week back at the pool I actually felt I was making some progress. I was really looking forward to my swim on Friday when the coach has us do a little speed work. I believed that I might be able to shift into another gear. Up until this point I had been one gear only, and it was a diesel without turbo charge! I did my morning run, yup two a days are back and headed to masters practice. I was really feeling the vibe to swim for the first time since I had started back. I was getting all ready in the locker room and one thing was missing. I didn't have a suit. Guess I still have some work to do on my prep, it has always been so automatic that I pack everything into the swim bag without thinking. Unless I can get the crew to agree to Skinny Dip Fridays, (and some of them like to wear such small suits that it isn't too far of a reach!) I had better keep an extra suit in my car. Maybe I was channeling my time in the mountains again, where lakes beg for a skinny dip no matter what day of the week.

Paradise Lake

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Keeping it Dirty

A few weeks ago I attended a local cyclocross clinic. I had first been exposed in person to cyclocross last December when I went to a local race to watch some friends compete. It looked crazy but all my friends had smiles on their faces the whole time, especially Cherry!

Cherry smiling away in the red and black

Going over an Obstacle

Since that day last December I have known that I would give cyclocross a go at some point. I thought that I would attend a clinic, have some fun and that would be that. This is not the first time that I have been wrong. I thought I was immune to getting the Leadville bug and would just crew for it and be done! At some point I will learn my lesson.

The clinic was held in a local park on the grass and some barriers were set up for us to practice on. We had the option of borrowing true cyclocross bikes or using a mountain bike. Maybe I should have just used my mountain bike. Might not have been as much fun if I was hauling my 30 pound bike up the hills on my shoulder! But oh no, I got the real deal bike and had the true cyclocross experience. Or rather, the true Southern California cyclocross experience. You see it is very dry here most of the time. That means no mud was on the course. Cyclocross originated in the 1920's in Belgium during the fall and winter months. They have actual weather there. Most cross (that's what people in the know say) races involve mud and lots of it. The cross bike looks more like a road bike than a mountain bike but it has thicker tires than a road bike. In a cross race there are barriers and obstacles that you have to run over carrying your bike. The experts have a graceful fluid mount and dismount of the bike. Looks like a dance between the bike and the rider. I look more like I am having a slow motion seizure!

Getting the Lender bike

I'm on the Right about to attempt a moving mount

Dismount success, now to get over the barriers!

The evening of the clinic when Me Hearty asked me how it was I just looked at him my face told it all. He probably thought 'crap, I shouldn't have let her go, just what she needs another hobby and bike, and who is going to do all the work on this new bike, damn- I give my wife way too much freedom'. Instead he said 'glad you enjoyed it, should we try to find you a bike'.

Now any reasonable person would get a bike and do some practicing and get in some more clinics, maybe throw in a local race. I dear readers have never claimed to be a reasonable person. Therefore, I am registered to do not one but two cyclocross races next weekend. Cyclocross races are timed events that last 30 minutes to an hours. Having spent my entire year building a huge diesel engine to ride 104 miles over the mountains of Colorado I am perfectly unprepared for this type of racing. Oh, and did I mention that I didn't run all summer so running with the bike the whole way is not really an option. Not only that, I am going to the American Mecca of cross racing, Seattle. Yup, I will get my wussie So Cal butt schooled by the hard core girls of the PNW. Pretty much guaranteed that it will be wet and muddy and real cross racing.. Good thing, cause if you have a blog named dirty hundy you got to make sure to keep it dirty!

I could be the star of this video next year!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wonder Why?

All endurance athletes at some point or another get asked the question 'why...?'.  I think that for every athlete there is a different and correct answer to this particular question. In Leadville Supercrew told us that she had been recently been given the task of finding the answer to this question by a friend of hers. This person doesn't understand why people are driven to do events that test their bodies and limits. I have now been reflecting on this, and pondering why for several weeks.

My immediate response is that we do it because we want to see if we can. It's that simple, and that complex at the same time. I believe when my ancestors were farming the plains of Canada they did not need to invent endurance events to test themselves. Every day and every year their resolve to survive and thrive was tested physically and mentally. Thus, the easy, cushy life that most of us have now leads us to find ways to test ourselves. It can't be that simple though because there are more people who don't feel the need to explore their physical limits than there are who do.

I can't answer the question for others but I can for myself. Here are my whys.

1) My first venture into the endurance world was in 1993 when I decided to run my first marathon. At the time I was a new nurse working in an oncology and bone marrow transplant unit. I was surrounded by people who were fighting for their lives and not always winning. Running was a great stress relief for me but it also made me feel alive. REALLY ALIVE, and at that time I needed to feel like I was living.

2) There is a point during any long event when you get to meet someone who isn't around very often. All the frivolities are stripped aside and you get to meet the essence of who you are. I like that girl.

3) I once had a boyfriend who laughed when I told him I was going for a run. He said 'you aren't a runner'. I like to prove people wrong!

4) I love to be outside and explore new places. There is no better way in my mind than to do that by self propelled motion. Going for a run in a new city is a great way to explore and really feel part of it. Likewise, there is no better way to see an area than by bike. Even at home I have seen so many great places by bicycle that I would have no reason to see by car.

5) When I am in nature and I have the rhythm of my breathing and heart beat, I experience meditation in motion and all seems right in the world. I wish more people got out and experienced this, there would be less anger.

6) I have met the greatest community of people through endurance events. I love that we all 'get' each other and they don't ask me why!

7) I really like to wear lycra and prance around with barely any clothes on;)

8) I always wanted a canopy bed and how else would I have gotten one?

9) I gave up on the idea of rodeo and bull riding but still wanted a really big cool belt buckle, and I didn't want to run 100 miles to get one- yet! ( maybe one day- those are the really crazy ones and still I don't feel compelled to ask them why).

and you thought I was done talking about the Buckle!

10) It is really fun. As the island girls say 'no fun fun!'. Which is really the best kind of fun!

11) I must have been a medieval monk in a previous life and I have an innate sense for self-flagellation.

When my friends daughter was three she was very inquisitive, make that extremely inquisitive. Almost everything she said was started with 'I wonder why', followed by whatever she was wondering about. During this phase I was lucky enough to be staying with them while I prepared to do an ironman. I had a constant shadow while I gathered my equipment and with this shadow came the never ending 'wonder why this and wonder why that'. She had many questions as to why I was packing the food I was (the gummy bears were of particular fascination) and how I was going to do each part of the event but not once did she say 'I wonder why you are doing this?'. You see, she had just ran her first Ironkids 1km race and she did not need to wonder why I would do an ironman, she was a racer too and she got it!

If a three year old doesn't need an explanation then I think that an adult that does won't ever understand and no answer will be satisfactory. Instead of wondering why I prefer to say WHY NOT!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Defined by Labels

The definition of a label is 'a descriptive phrase or word that is used to classify people, things and even experiences'. There are times when I suppose labels are useful, like for instance the label that tells me that bleach is a poison. Thank goodness for that label because otherwise I might have tried to concoct a new fangled cocktail using bleach as the main ingredient. Other times, labels just seem to place judgement. Even the labels we put on ourselves can limit us to what we think we can and cannot do. I have never been a fan of labelling, it makes me feel too one dimensional.

As people we are labelled according to our occupation, marital status, place in family, hobby or even physical characteristics. With these labels comes preconceived notions. I remember one time I took a large amount of holiday baking in to work. One of my coworkers couldn't believe I had actually baked and when she explained why she was surprised, she exclaimed 'you're an athlete'. Luckily, for her I am also a baker! I would hate to be pigeon holed into being just one thing. Like Meredith Brooks sings 'I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother, I'm a sinner, I'm a saint, I do not feel ashamed, I'm your hell, I'm your dream, I'm nothing in between'.

When I was in Leadville I met a fella who would be labelled geriatric and octogenarian. If he listened to those labels and did what was expected of him he wouldn't be doing what he is. Keith was in Colorado doing high altitude training for the summer in preparation for his assault on the Pikes Peak Marathon. The summit of this marathon is over 14,000 feet and you run there from 6,000 feet. That is a heck of an elevation gain for 13.1 miles, not to mention that you have to come back down that same amount. I don't know very many 'young' people who would take that challenge on and Keith would not be labelled young. Not only did he take it on, he crushed it and set a course record on the ascent of 4hrs and 44 minutes. To me, Keith has now redefined that octogenarian label and I am grateful that he is NOT letting labels define him.

Me and Keith before he ran the Leadville 10km

As a woman I am all too aware that labels can rule our world. The labels on the inside of our clothing mean so much more to us than they should. The last pair of cycling shorts that I bought were XS. I am not an XS but have always been a M or S in this particular brand. Logically, I know that I haven't miraculously become an XS, I know that the the sizing has changed, or rather the labelling has. Still, I cannot deny that I felt a little bit of a boost from that. Sadly, it seems that all clothing manufacturers are trying to make us women think we have suddenly become that magical size below what we are. Makes me wonder if the latex companies are going to jump on this label bandwagon and start labelling their products larger. Pretty sure that no guy would want to be buying XS.

I always hear athletes that race talking about their races in terms of whether it is an A, B or C race. I guess that they have races that are more important than others. For me this system is flawed. What if it is my C race and I have an excellent race, I am then able to change it to an A race after the fact? Really, any race or workout that I get to do is a good one, I mean I got to do it right? Not only that but if I did it I learned something that can be applied in the future. Therefore, how can it be a bad experience? I am not saying that I have this method perfected so if I say I had a bad race or workout please remind me that I had a race or workout so it had to be good!

Recently, at a cycling event I was called a 'mountain biker'. Who knew that being labelled could be so exciting! Me a mountain biker, that is one label I am proud to be defined by!