Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cycling a Century

Follow that pumpkin!
 Could I really do it?  I've only been cycling for a little over a year.  My longest ride to date is only 67 miles.  My feet were so sore this week that I could barely walk, let alone lightly exercise all week.  It had been raining all week.  I hadn't bothered to acquire rain gear.  I just didn't feel like it.  Even on a good day, cycling a century would be a challenge, but adding my lackluster mental state, made this feat seem virtually impossible. As if that wasn't bad enough, Aunt Flo came the eve of the century! Being the loud mouth that I am, I told folks near and far about my century.  I had been talking about it ad nauseum for the last few months.  Folks I hardly knew, hell, strangers knew about it.  There was no chickening out now.

My husband who's seen my pre-race, PMS infused tapering week madness knew exactly what was going on.  When he tried to tell me that everything would be fine.  I was ready.  No need to work my tail end off, I was tapering.  I have pre-event jitters coupled with PMS.  No biggie.  I was ready.  I have the best cheerleader in the whole world but I would hear no word of it.  "This is different!" I insisted.  Don't tell me I'm awesome and ready because I'm not!  In fact, I'm thinking of downgrading to a 75 mile ride!  In hindsight, I recognize how utterly predictable I am and how well this man knows me. 

It turned about to be an amazing experience, beautiful, well-marked course, super fun fellow cyclists, fantastic support and both physically and mentally easier and more fun that I ever anticipated!  I enjoyed each and every mile of this event.  A few of the highlights were:

  • Enjoying the sights and sounds of this beautiful course around the quaint little towns that surround my hometown.
  • Cycling with my friend Janel, whose been my cycling inspiration.  We met a little over a year ago at surf camp and become fast friends.
  • Reaching my maximum cycling speed of 40 MPH cruising fearless down a steep hill.  What a rush!
  • Not getting lost or needing to turn around once, thanks to the great pumpkin course markers. 

Here's a brief photographic tour of the Harvest Century, the first of what I hope to be my many, many, many centuries.

My bike "Princess" at the first rest stop, a sweet turn of the century white church complete with steeple and grazing horses across the street.  I enjoyed hard boiled eggs, donut holes, apples, oranges and salted potatoes.
Halfway done at this point.  I could chose the 75 mile or 105 mile route at this point.  100 miles, baby!  Wahoo!  Janel and I had finally connected.  I had had lunch.  I was having the time of my life and felt like a million dollars.

Look at this madwoman!  The bike isn't even carbon and look at that height!
Crossing the river on the Canby Ferry.  So far, so good.  God, this was fun.  Can I do it again next weekend?  Little did I know that all the serious hills were 70 miles into the ride. 

Janel surfacing from behind a ginormous hill with a smile on her face.  Look at that beautiful blue sky!  Janel and I rode with a group of six cyclers, some were quite the characters.  Miles sure pass quickly in the company of chatty bikers.

Beer, BBQ and lots of belly laughs at the finish.
 So, my dear readers.  What lesson does this blog post hold for you?  Find something that seems larger than life and beyond your capabilities and go for it!  YOU CAN DO IT (and so much more)!  Believe in yourself!  Live life big!  Don't make excuses!  Go for it!  You only live once!  Do it with no regrets!  Carpe diem!

Warrior Dash Race Report

Bad Asses reporting for duty!

The Warrior Dash proved to be crazy fun.  Everyone should participate in this event at least once in their lives.  I signed up with a group of fellow momma women warriors.  We plotted, planned, ordered matching Bad Ass socks, painstakingly tied strips of tulle on elastic to create our signature tutus, decorated our vehicles, booked accommodations at a cool funky brew house hotel and arranged for a group photographer to capture our moments of warrior greatness.  What we didn't do much of was train.  I mean, really, it was a mere 5K!  Sure, there were "12 hellish obstacles" between the running but competitors drink beer, eat giant turkey legs on bones and wear fuzzy hats with horns afterwards.  How tough could it be? 

Warrior Dash: Craziest Friggin' Day of Your Life!

We arrived to our battleground.  It was quite the production!  Reminded me of a giant music festival.  We decided to check out some of the obstacles to see what we were up against.  Maybe this wasn't such a joke after all.  You could really get hurt out there! Climbing over slippery cars in a scrapyard, jumping over fire, jumping from shaky platform to shaky platform, swimming through water and up and over unwieldy logs, crawling under barbed wire, flinging yourself up and over cargo nets... Perhaps we should have done a little obstacle training, perhaps some upper body weight training?  Too late now.  Good thing I was just doing this for fun and not to win! 

After much anticipation, our wave finally started.  I believe I heard someone say that there were 300 to 400 people in each wave.  It was so crowded!  One of my race pet peeves is to be locked in and stuck behind people.  I don't like to be slowed down.  My girl, Chelsea and I decided to make a break for it.  She took one side, I took another and we sprinted up the steep hill that forced most participants to hike rather than run.  It was muddy, slippery and rooty.  We were passing people left and right.  It was an awesome feeling but I hoped that we weren't using up all the gas in our limited tanks. 

Before we knew it, we were at our first obstacle "Deadweight Drifter" where we would "wade through waist deep water" and hurl ourselves over logs until we made our way across a little cattle pond.  I stepped in and promptly found myself chin-deep in water.  WTF?  What happened to waist deep water?!  Next thing I knew, I had lost all footing together and was forced to swim with a mob of people.  It was mayhem!  I am a good swimmer, but this shit was scary!  Someone's head was just asking to be clocked by one of those unruly logs!  FUCK!  As if that wasn't bad enough, my cute, custom made sparkly tutu became water logged and sunk to my ankles.  I pulled it up and proceeded to hurl myself over a log that a kind, burly man spun for me.  Darn thing slipped again as I swam towards the next log.  I saw my tall long-legged friend Chelsea, fearlessly make her way across the pond and decided that I'd have to sacrifice my tutu.  Pulled the thing off and let it sink to the bottom of the pond.  Good riddance!  This obstacle was by far the scariest and riskiest of the day.  Was I ever glad to make it to the other side all in one piece.

Next we climbed and leaped our way over a bunch of busted, rusted cars in the makeshift wrecking yard.  It was slippery, some dashboards showed evidence of feet breaking through, there was even  sharp metal from here to there as well.  Maybe I shouldn't have snickered so much at the "hellish obstacles".  Chelsea was an animal out there!  Sheer determination.  She was not a woman to be fucked with.  She took on each obstacle as if it were a personal attack.  I hoped I could keep up with her!  The running portion also proved to be more challenging that I anticipated.  It was a 5K but it went up and down, up and down and up and down steep, uneven, slippery and/or rooty terrain.  It was trail runner heaven.  I  loved the running portion and really challenged myself to run it all rather than succumb to walking like so many of the other participants.  The obstacles turned out to be a nice opportunity to lower my heart rate and catch my breath.

Hellish obstacles that followed Deadweight Drifter and Road Rage:

#3:   Great Warrior Wall:  Climb a very tall vertical wall and slide down the other side.  The knotted rope proved to be ever so helpful on this one but the dismount was scary!  I had to put fear aside and hope that I wouldn't get splinters in my ass as I slid down the wood eight feet back down to the ground. 

#4:  Rubber Ricochet: Ram your way through a sea of tires swinging from ropes.  This was super easy but fun.

#5:  Deadman's Drop:  Another wall but this time there was a wooden ladder for the dismount.  Thank God!

#6:  Chaotic Crossover:  Bear climb over a long horizontal cargo net.  Not as easy as it sounds!

#7:  Barricade Breakdown:  Hurl yourself up and over a barricade, then roll/crawl your way through mud under barbed wire and repeat this five or six times.  This was FUN!

#8:  Satin's Steps:  Initially wasn't worried about these but they were wobbly!  My short little legs had to make great big leaps to get me over.  A fellow competitor jumped on my platform when I was on and nearly flung me overboard!

#9 Assassin's Escape:  Up a ladder and down a fire fighter pole.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  Geez, this event is awesome!  Chelsea and I were making great time!  I was proud of us!  So much for not being competitive!

#10: Cargo Climb:  Climb up and down a very tall cargo wall.

#11:  Warrior Fires: leap over two rows of thigh high fire
Mothers of Multiples ain't afraid of no fire!
#12:  Muddy Mayhem: Scramble beneath barbed wire in a muddy soup then climb up a slippery slope and slide belly first to the finish line.

Being muddy has never been so much fun!
I finished in 39:46 which comes to a 11:22 minute mile average with the the obstacles.  I was 49th out of 598 in my age group.  Best of all Chelsea and I stuck together the whole time and raced our little hearts out.  It was awesome to be there to cheer on our fellow "Warrior Women" when they crossed the finish line with huge smiles on their faces.

Our post race bath in a muddy pond (tutus proved to be as effective as loofahs!), free beers, live music, fabulous people watching, fuzzy hats, "I Survived the Warrior Dash" t-shirts and turkey drumsticks that tasted like bacon followed.  It was a fantastic day!  We couldn't wait to sign up and participate again the following year.  Fortunately more fun was to be had since we had decided to make a girl's weekend of it.  Real showers, more beer and food and a soaking pool awaited us and the magnificent Grand Lodge.

I still smile every time I think of this crazy event.  It was SO much fun!  I highly recommend that you take the plunge, take a walk on the wild side and be a warrior!

Wahoo! We did it!

Our bath in a giant mud puddle.  Somehow we managed to get cleaner.

Post race festivities
Thanks for an amazing time and a memorable weekend Warrior Women!  Until next year!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Priorities, perfectionism and paring down one's precious time

One of my favorite picture books to read to my students is a book entitled "Fortunately".  It's a patterned book. One page says something like "Unfortunately I fell out of a plane.  Fortunately I landed on a hay stack.  Unfortunately I landed on a pitchfork."  It continues to describe the characters fortunes and misfortunes.  I have my students write their own version of a "Fortunately" book.  It serves as a silly reminder to be thankful for what we've got, as things can easily, quickly and randomly change.

Since starting back to work full-time, I've been feeling overwhelmed, maxed out, a bit grumpy and feeling rather alone and poor-me-ish.  While getting in a time-pinched post-nine hour work day workout, I imagined my own "Fortunately" story. 

Fortunately I was able to keep my teaching job while 110 of my valued colleagues were laid off from the school district.

Unfortunately I had to increase my hours and change my position.

Fortunately I rediscovered my love for being a classroom teacher.

Unfortunately the job requires a ton of extra planning and preparation.

Fortunately I am more mentally and creatively challenged than I have been in years and get oodles of hugs and smiles all day long.

Unfortunately working 50 plus hours a week leaves little time for much else.

Fortunately I have an awesome husband who is willing and capable of picking up the slack and our children are getting to spend more quality time with him.

Unfortunately I still can't do all that I used to or want to.  I feel like I'm missing out!

Fortunately I still have time for my family and fitness.

Unfortunately I have to squeeze it in at odd times and have limited time.

Fortunately exercise lifts my spirits and keeps me fit.  Each and every workout has a purpose and is high quality.

Unfortunately my schedule no longer allows me to share workouts and gab-fests with my running/swimming partner or other momma buddies.

Fortunately I have the discipline to go solo on occasion and have met new folks with similar schedules with whom to work out here and there. 

Unfortunately I don't get as much sleep due to uber-early morning workouts and/or wee-morning/late evening teacher planning and prep.

Fortunately I'm there for my family during their waking hours and am ready with fun thoughtful lessons for my students.

Unfortunately I had to put Friday's at Four, visits with out of town family/friends, blogging and facebook on standby.

Fortunately there's enough of me left for those that are nearest and dearest in my heart.

Questions that I regularly ask myself:  What are my priorities?  Do my daily actions reflect those priorities?  What's important to me and worthy of my time and attention?  What takes up my time and attention that isn't worthy?  What am I going to do about that?