Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time loops

It's amazing how songs can transport you through time and space. They trigger a memory or a feeling - making you pause in your busy life and travel to a distant time. Listening to Jose Gonzalez reminds me of going to Banya 5 last year and treating myself to a massage. The woman who massaged me was playing this album and I got lost in space and time for an hour. I remember thinking how good it felt - the simple act of human touch - and how much Ryan and I used to simply hold one another.

Then it just as quickly transports me to the disbelief that he's gone. Some how I've been living in an altered parallel life and that he's really still here. But those irrational thoughts have been revisited hundreds of times and in a way I've gotten used to them. Sometimes I let the fantasy play around in my head, sometimes I let it go right back out that revolving door. And sometimes I don't have a choice.

Funny how some conversations, however brief, leave a lasting impression on you. On Friday night I saw a friend at a party on her way to the airport. She stopped by to give everyone well wishes and caught me a little off guard by asking, "you doing okay during the holidays?" Up until that point I thought I was. But when I stop the holiday whirl and constant motion the emptiness quickly creeps in.

Everything happens for a reason. Or at least that's what I tell myself. Having a heavy training week leading up to the holidays and then having some down time the week of was planned. And in more ways than one. Right now I need the mental and physical break to prepare myself for the weeks ahead. Not to mention this week. Every ounce of my energy will go toward putting myself in that happy spot. The one that transcends time and allows me to create new memories when listening to music.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"A highly trained aerobic athlete can get away with doing absolutely nothing for nine to 12 days before there will be an appreciable loss in fitness. However, it can take between eight and 12 weeks to regain fitness lost after taking four weeks off. That means if you don't exercise for the month of October, sometime in January you could be as fit as you were at the end of September. It is difficult to make significant strength and power gains from year to year if you spend three months losing and regaining fitness."

- Chris Carmichael, On the Road: Building the Foundation of Success.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random thoughts

That was silly of me. I showed up to work today with no lunch. And now I'm torturing myself by looking at food blog after food blog. I could eat the stale organic trek mix sitting on my desk or I could continue to starve will dreaming up meals for when I get home. Just took a bite and am reminded again of why it's stale. BLAH!

Do I open the chocolate orange I bought for a coworker? Nah. That would make those hard earned winter miles a waste. And I'd either give it to her with a couple of slices missing or have to buy another one.

Just realized 2010 will mark 6 years of blogging! Six years! What a trip.

Yesterday whilst riding through the strongest head wind I've encountered in a long time and rain that was pelting my face with a vengeance, I once again realized that you have to absolutely love this nomadic sport in order to get any where with it. You have to be open to the hours of grueling repetitive motion with inclement weather and do so without remorse or a grudge.

For if you think about it, there is no good reason to be on your bike past dusk in the dark winter months. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What keeps me lifting my leg over the saddle time and time again? The possibility of wins 6 months from now. Ride on nomadic solider, ride on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, I can't help but think back to this time last year and marvel at how far I've come. Last year nearly broke me. The dark months were really dark and grief penetrated everything. It left me without the desire to ride or race, broke me down into less than half of what I was. But I think part of the healing process is going down into the dark depths of your soul, to depths that are not normal and consuming in order to feel what it's like to be normal again.

I think back on this year and remember some difficult times - times when I couldn't move or get out of bed, immobilized by loss of my partner, identity and part of my soul. To go to such depths make you realize how fortunate you are when things are normal and going according to plan. They paint the bigger picture in such clarity that I couldn't help but scoff at people sweating the small things in life. But we need those small things when things are going according to plan - to remind us that life is short and unpredictable.

This winter, which won't be officially winter until the 21st, I've been attacking my training with the passion I once felt. Pushing through the dark, cold, wet miles with goals in mind and keeping my focus. Grief no longer penetrates my every thought or move, but allows me to keep it at bay and acknowledge on my terms.

Last New Year's I felt like I HAD to get certain things done. Had to travel, visit the places to make me feel a little better. Spend less time at home with the constant reminders of what was missing. And the only thing that really helped was time itself. Time to repair my mind and soul.

Slowly I started to feel like myself again. Two steps forward, one step back. And in this slow fashion, when I look back at the past year I realize I climbed a mountain. An impossible mountain with lots of unforeseen challenges and false summits. I am thankful for this journey and the lessons it has taught me and continues to. But dammit, I'm STOKED for a new year, let alone a new decade.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holy cow. Check this out!

(Oh cow? Didn't realize the typo until just now. Ha ha!)

Whistling in Winter

Ah, winter's back. Not that east coast cold ass ice so you have to ride your trainer inside bull shit. Instead we get the lovely incessant 38-42 degree drizzle that dampens your layers and sinks into your bones. But you can ride in it! And I'll take that misery any day over putting hours upon hours on the trainer. (I say that now at the beginning of a 16 hour road week...)

So with this week's training on tap - I cooked some food during my rest day to stock up for when I come home ravishing and ready to shovel some calories into my gullet. It's much easier to grab some roasted veggies out of the fridge and reheat them or throw in a little diced turkey and make a wrap. Instant gratification.

Time put in now in the cold months is money in the bank for later. It's important to make things as easy as possible to jump on the bike. Be that preparing food in advance, doing those neglected maintenance items on your off day when you don't want to think about the bike, etc - it'll pay off. Consider it a job - one that you're lucky enough to be passionate about and what once seemed a tedious task will give you freedom on the roads and in your heart.

And whistling always helps.

If anyone wants to ride this week - I'd love company!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

After experiencing screaming barfies in my feet from last night's two hour jaunt in arctic temps, I'm more than looking forward to heading down to Bend and checking out Bachelor's cross country scene. Two hours of skating a day will keep that aerobic engine purring like a kitchen and surely my tootsies will stay warm!

And I'm so excited to be skating for the first time this season! Tela is going to join me between cheering on our friends at cross Nationals...

Hope you're staying warm!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Death by trainer

Oh the hours logged in one solid position on the bike, stationary in front of the boob tube watching hours upon hours of winter world cup events.... hopefully someone will check on me before I keel over from sheer boredom.

But there's hope! Tomorrow I head to Bend to watch cyclo cross Nationals and I'm bringing my skate skis to get some skiing in between cheers. Should be a good time!

Had a crazy dream last night that I had to escape a house before someone was coming to get me - and had to grab things that I absolutely couldn't leave behind. I remember thinking that I needed to make sure to grab my iron and wax for skis for my life depended on it. What about those old family photos?

And on another completely different note - I had HSP do a bike simulation for a new position on a Blue bike to make sure it fits before I pull the trigger and treat myself. My position is so different and BALANCED - it should make for a great change for the new decade....

I'm selling off a ton of bikes - anyone interested in 54cm? They'll be priced to move!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Clamming, Crabbing, Christmas Trees, Bike Rides, Clam smoke and more!

My friend Andrew has been clamming for quite some time. He's a connoisseur of all things seafood and is always up for fishing, clamming, crabbing, etc. However for the past decade plus since I've known him, pinning down a time and location to go clamming has been pretty much impossible. It's mainly due to the fact that state regulators open up specific areas for clamming only a handful of days at a time throughout the year. And you also have to time it with the low tides, busy city schedules, etc. We finally pinpointed a time - this past Friday night.

At the last minute I was able to take my six year old nephew Coleman with us too. We showed up in Tacoma to carpool with Andrew down to the Westport area on the coast. He brought some hip waders for Chris and I to wear since clamming is a dirty, sandy, wet excursion. Coleman got some last minute warm boots and gloves and thankfully brought his ski coat. The temperature on a reader board in Aberdeen boasted 29 degrees!

We drove for about 2.5 hours through the dark, cold night. About 3 miles south of Westport, we took a right and headed toward the beach. Much to our surprise, there were hundreds of lights along the tide flats. We parked near a house that had its lights on so we could find out car later and then started putting the gear on. We also fired up some coleman lanterns to begin the hunt. Armed with a clam gun and shovel plus a big 5 gallon bucket, off we went toward the ocean.

Thankfully we didn't have to go far. We were able to immediately spot some depressions in the sand and with the careful instruction of Andrew the digging began! We were hooping and hollering and making a big commotion as we brought in clam after razor clam. The clams were so plentiful that we limited out at 60 in about an hour!

Smelling the clear air, watching the hundreds of other lanterns dance along the tide flats to the slow rising moon and listening to the shore break not far from where we harvested the clams made for great memories. And something I'm sure Coleman won't forget for a long, long time. He slept the entire car ride back to Tacoma.

But the adventure wasn't over yet. The next morning we woke up, made some pancakes and sausage for breakfast, hoped in Chris's boat and dropped crab pots. It was so beautiful being on water in the early morning as the fog was evaporating into a clear blue sky. Birds diving for fish and sea lions poking their heads out of the water while hunting for salmon. We even saw a few fly fisherman on the shores of the Narrows on our way to Wolochett Bay. Coleman was a little freaked out at first to be in such a small boat with lots of crab gear. But he got used to hanging out and snuggling up to Makiah and I ducked his head inside his oversize life vest and trying to stay as warm as possible. After I we got back to Chris's house we quickly hiked the hill, got in the car and dropped him off at my mom's to go to his next adventure.

I jumped on my bike as quickly as possible to get my 3.5 hour ride in before sunset and hopefully avoid any icy conditions. I jammed down the Duamish Trail toward Tukwila and hit some ice on the Interurban trail but still kept it upright! Made to Tacoma in record time on the bike and had enough time to stop for some well earned chocolate milk. We then cleaned 15 clams and make both New England and Manhattan chowder that was amazing! I was pretty pooped by the end of the night.

Sunday brought more fun as Chris and I connected with Jennie, Tela and Mary for our weekly mountain bike ride at St. Edwards. I decided to drink a double cappuccino and was FLYING! We had so much fun thanks to a slightly later start and dry conditions. I swear, mountain biking reminds me so much of skiing. Half the time I'm on the verge of being out of control, but then I'm able to stick things since I have maybe at times a little too much confidence. It makes me giggle like a little kid!

And to cap the weekend off - I got to help Shelley, Lincoln and their two little girls Olivia and Alice decorate their Christmas Tree. It's becoming an annual tradition for sure. Oh and one more adventure - we headed over to Ben and Danielle's to smoke 30 of the clams and hang out with them the rest of the evening. Whew, what a weekend!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Go go gadget arms!

Well I finally did it. I finally pushed the envelope and stretched the boundaries. In retrospect I should have known this day was coming. But instead it has me slouching into my office chair, with little to no movement. I have to will myself to move every 20 minutes or so because my body is actually exhausted.


What is it that I did? Simple. I changed my weight training routine today. After 5 weeks of the same motions, I switched it up. I hefted heavy weights overhead. I did squats with more weight than before and I made my neck muscles flare like the Incredible Hulk.

And now? Well now I'm paying for it. Hold on, must move.

Much better. Don't get me wrong. The previous routine was good too. But after 5 weeks, my body had completely adapted to its moves. My core strengthened, legs toned and focus sharpened with each movement. My butt gained some serious strength and my chest press was starting to give me some serious pecks and arm definition.

However, today was a big reminder that you need to switch up your routine every so often. For doing the same movements, time and time again will only strengthen your strengths and leave your weaknesses withering. And what is so sore this time? Well after only 4 hours of recovery, I can't really lift my arms. I mean I can. But it takes considerable effort and concentration to levitate them from my keyboard.

Like I said, I should have known this day was coming. There were warning signs - practically sirens for that matter. Even last night as I briefly spoke with Jennie about the new program and how I was adapting to it, her quiet comment about how she didn't understand where I had all of that extra energy... well now I know. I should have been saving it for today.