Monday, December 31, 2012

Sweet Dreams

2013 scares me but at the same time it excites me. Goodnight 2012.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Solstice

I survived, and I'm not talking about the so called end of the world. I'm talking about the days become shorter and shorter. From now until June they will become longer and I can slowly come out of my hibernation. I've already noticed that the sunsets are getting later, but now we will have more hours of daylight. I've also survived my 'winter break'. Two weeks of no biking or running or any elevated heart rate exercise ends tomorrow. WooHoo! We made it. There was a time when it wasn't hard for me to take time off, I actually wouldn't even unpack my bike after an Ironman for over a month. But, something at some point switched and it became what I do, not what I have to do. So, as the days lengthen so too will my workouts. It is time to build a huge base for the year and it all starts tomorrow, but not too early because it is now officially winter and that means it's a bit cold in the morning:). Even a bear waits for it to warm up a bit to come out of hibernation and I am definitely resembling a hibernating bear right now. I have put on my winter coat of insulation and I have been sleeping lots! Hey, I figured if the world was about to end I needed some extra fat in case I became lunch for a zombie. But alas, I'm as surprised as everyone else that it didn't happen and now I have some extra fat to squeeze into my lycra.

As hard as taking two weeks off has been I know it is necessary. I need to be very disciplined this coming year and by cutting myself some slack (okay, tons of slack) I have a renewed sense of dedication. So tomorrow officially starts the road to becoming a Leadwoman in 2013. I doubt I'll feel like a leadwoman but I will feel like a lead ass and that's a start:) Today was the end for me, but tomorrow is the start. Happy Winter Solstice:)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dream Home

I want to be a dirt bag. Not the kind that says douche ball things and leers at the opposite sex. The kind that lives out of their car, or in my case van. Everyday you can pick your location and we all know real estate is about location, location, location. Of course a view follows pretty closely to the location, and how valuable is a view that can be changed? Ocean view today, mountain view tomorrow.

I know some people's dream homes are thousands of square feet with outdoor swimming pools, gardens and forests. The limits are endless for life as a dirt bag. Miles of trails right outside your door, natural hot springs, pools in creeks, ocean a few steps away. Lots of woman have lists of the top end appliances they would like in their kitchen. Well, I have a gas stove and my fridge is so fancy it can run on propane, electricity or battery! Take that sub zero:)

Of course I still am part princess so my van is equipped with a memory foam mattress, and my sheets are 300 count. I have running water, which is easily heated on the stove, so I in fact have hot water. There is a furnace, so if I choose I can have heat. There is almost always a fire place and I have a room addition on the side as well as a porch. When I am sitting on my porch watching the sunrise or sunset (cause I usually watch the sunrise from the picture window at then end of my bed) I can't think of any nicer home in the world.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Melting Down

How good would throwing a temper tantrum feel right now? A full fledged toddler in the row of a supermarket meltdown? I'll just throw my pack off into the cacti, lay down and hammer my fists and feet into the ground. No wait, my feet hurt, I'll rest them and just bash my hands and head into the dust and scream a bit. No one will see, I'll feel so much better, I'm going for it.... that was at about mile 37 of my 50 miles.

How did I get here, other than the obvious, on my own two feet. It had all started out so well. I was loving it, I was trotting along feeling amazing. I was on top of my fluid and calorie intake. I had met some interesting people and had some great chats along the way. I had summited the climb (which was described as seriously steep, and that was an understatement). But then the unexpected had happened.

I had read and been told to be prepared for the unexpected and so I was. I had immodium, bendadryl, an epi pen in my pack. I had more calories and fluid with me than I needed at any given time. I had lights in drop bags that I should be passing WAY before the sun went down. I had an emergency field foot repair kit in a drop bag. I had layers and layers of clothes in various drop bags just in case it rained in the desert, or got a snow storm. Oh yes, I was prepared for the unexpected, except I wasn't. It was unexpected that I could need any of these things, but I had thought about it. What I hadn't expected or thought about was that I might have an asthma attack. That seemed very far fetched since the last time I had used an inhaler was well over 5 years ago, but it happened. The dust, the dryness, the less then clean air quality, and breathing it in deeply for over 6 hours had caused my bronchial to tighten up and wheezing to start.

At first I just tried to plow through it in denial. I put on my iPod, cause if I can't hear the wheezing then it isn't real, right? That worked but the coughing couldn't be ignored. I had to slow down on a slight downhill. It was prime for opening it up and running, but even doing that caused me to breath deeper than I was able. In order to keep the bronchospasms from happening I was reduced to a slow shuffle. I pretended I was still running, but we've all seen those people. I could have walked faster but my pride said, I'm going to run. I got passed by people who looked like they were flying along, I'm sure they weren't since they were behind me until this point and it had been an ugly couple of hours by now. I just kept repeating, relentless forward motion. As long as you keep going forward you are getting closer to your goal.

After the nice long gradual downhill wide trail I was back onto a flat section. Once again I was walking and the frustration, coupled with being a bit tired got me to the point of the trailside tantrum. As enticing as it was I had to continue moving forward and flinging my gear and raging wasn't part of that. Thus, the whole meltdown occurred in my head. All that visualization practice put to darn good use:) I was sobbing a bit, but then realized that the gasping wasn't making my breathing any better. Someone yelled at me 'stop being such a pussy' and I looked around to see where they were, seems the stern lecture came from none other than me. So, off I set to get to the next aid station where luckily I had a light and some clothes cause we were quickly approaching darkness.

As I left the aid station I had contemplated taking a short cut back to the finish line. The short cut was 3 miles of unmarked trail compared to the 6 miles of well marked race course. I knew if I got lost out of the race course search parties would be in the right vicinity. If I got lost out on the short cut, it could be a long night. Off I went, dressed like a homeless person with various unmatched clothes and my light. Note- I probably smelled like a homeless person at this point as well so it was all appropriate. I wasn't on my own for long when a fellow racer came upon me. He became my forced companion since he didn't have a light and there was no way he could find his way on the trail in the dark. I was navigating and setting the pace since I had the light and he was following me. I told him he would be on his own when we got to the start/finish area. We had to go through there before our final 5.4 miles. When I knew we were close I was picking up the pace and running, horse towards the barn. Plus, when night fell moisture came into the air and suddenly the dust was down and I could breath better.

Running into the finish shoot felt great, I knew I was done. I told the timing guys my number and that I was pulling out. Hubby heard that, and said WHAT! You are so close. No way, you aren't stopping now. It's only 5.4 miles (easy for the guy who hasn't run 44.6 miles to say). Then he told me, I'll come with you. You are allowed a pacer now and I'm coming. Handed him my spare light ( I know, I had two lights and didn't give one to the guy with no light. Don't judge me. I didn't want to have a light die and be out there in the dark. Besides, I did help him, I lit the trail for like 5 miles for him). Told the timing guy as I ran past 'guess I'm back in' and off we went chasing down my previous running buddy.

The best miles of the entire race were the ones where my husband ran with me. It was awesome. He was wearing regular clothes and shoes. He led the way and I just followed. I put my brain on off mode and just let my legs move. I was able to breath again, I felt better than I'd felt since mile 30 or so. I was actually back in this thing. We caught and passed the only guy even in the same zip code and kept going. I made it to the finish line, I can't say I ran 50 miles, but I did 50 miles on my own two feet and beat the time cutoffs. I thought about quitting but I didn't (well, I did momentarily but I took it back so it doesn't count) I went through the valley of doubt and ran out the other side. If you melt something down you can reshape it into something stronger and better.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Step at a Time

This coming weekend is my first 'official' ultra run. Yes, I have run a few 50km training runs, but this is the real deal. Last night I had a bit of a freak out, okay, maybe I panicked a bit and my eyes might have gone a little glassy and misty. I suddenly realized that I have to be ready, there is no more preparing. Luckily, the voice of reason, in the form of my husband, stepped in. I was prattling on about how far 50 miles is and I wasn't sure if I was ready. He told me that I was as ready as I was going to be at this point. Mostly what he said that stuck with me and is going to be my mantra is that I had decided that I was going to do this so I was going to do it. Sometimes it becomes that simple. I will be out there and at times there will be low points but I chose to be out there and therefore out there I will be. To me this is like a midterm exam. See what material you have mastered and what areas you need to work on for the final exam. (unlike many of my real midterms, I've actually been attending class:)) So, I am heading out onto the trails with the intent of learning as much as I can. I probably won't hand my exam in first, but I will get it done. I will be learning from myself but I also will be looking over the shoulders of the more experienced people out there learning as much as I can from them. If I wasn't a little intimidated then I'd be concerned. It is when we are challenged that we truly rise to the occasion.

I will control what I can while I am out there and I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. Relentless forward motion will get me where I need to be. When the race starts I will choose to take my first step and I will just keep on going one step at a time.

"the longest journey begins with a single step".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New Bike

I thought about getting a new bike, or two. I even put my road bike up for sale. After all it is 11 years old now, a guy was coming to buy it, but then I panicked. You see, it fits me perfectly and there is nothing wrong with it. Apparently, there are lighter and better bikes out there but there are also lighter and better riders out there and the bike isn't trading me in. So, I am keeping my workhorse road bike who has never seen a race but has seen plenty of open roads and lots of scenery. That led me to consider a new mountain bike. There are way lighter fancier mountain bikes out there. I started doing some research and even was set to buy a friends fancy racing machine. I mean, I am going to be 'racing' some this coming year. The lighter and faster the bike the less work I would have to do. I could drop at least 4 pounds from the bike for about $2000 in upgrades. But I could drop 4 pounds from my frame and save money by buying and eating less food. So, I am not buying a new mountain bike either. Seems that I have longer relationships with my bikes than most people relationships last. I'd probably still be riding my banana seat bike if it still fit.

I did purchase a new bike thought and I encourage all of you to do the same, or at least some parts. You see there is this fantastic program called World Bicycle Relief that supplies bicycles to people in Africa. They put bicycles in the hands of students, health care workers and entrepeneurs to improve their lives. So, while a shiny new bicycle might have made it a little easier for me to get up the Columbine climb in August during the Leadville Trail 100, it would not improve my life nearly as much as it does for these people. Not to mention for just $134 you can purchase a whole bicycle! Still not sure it is something you want to do? Check out this awesome contest over at Fat Cyclist Through his contest you can donate and buy a bike for a really good cause and have the chance to win a new bike for yourself, or someone you love-hint hint:) Just think about how much easier it is to stay in school if you don't have to walk 2 hours each way. How about how many more patients a health care worker can see in a day if they don't have to walk. You can bike at least twice as fast as you can walk.

This is the holiday season and people are making their wish lists for gifts. If anyone is looking for ideas on what I would like here's a hint. I'd like a new bike, or a tool kit, or part of a bike for someone who I don't know in Africa. Then when I am spending hours and hours over the next year riding my 'old' bikes, I'll have the pleasure of picturing a young girl experiencing the thrill of riding her new bike.