Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Never a dull moment.

Okay, I think I posted that last entry 8 hours too soon. Sure, my tired legs are still tired. But my mind is whirling with possibilities and hope - something that came at just the right time.

Sorry that last post had the "poor me" tone. Those who really know me, know that's not the norm. I was born with an optimistic disposition and when I get the "poor mes" its because I'm either a) tired or b) hungry or c) both. So, with proper nutrition, hydration and a couple of key conversations during the day - unexpectedly my reset button was pressed.

I started working a couple of weeks ago at Garden of the Gods Gourmet. I emailed their website on a whim and said that I loved food, they loved food, so hey, we should do something about it. You can imagine my surprise when I got a phone call a few days later for an interview. Turns out they're looking for someone part time, to work in a variety of positions. They called me back within the next week and I hit the ground running.

I started running catering gigs all over the city - learning quickly and by doing. It's amazing how much you learn when you have to stack several platters of food on one cart, light Sterno, wear gloves, polishing stainless steel, setting things up, coordinating with chefs, grabbing proper utensils, not running red lights (even if that means a whole van load of leftovers comes hurling at you since you decided to brake suddenly), where things go and where they don't, when the cookies are fresh,  remembering silverware, etc. and the millions of other details that still make my head spin. Oh, and don't be late! If you're late for a delivery then a certain substance may hit the fan. And no, I'm not talking about the spilled leftovers in the back of the van.

This is the start of the third week and I am cooked. Sunday night's community dinner nearly put me in bed for two days straight. But tonight, while being trained for a new retail position in the Market - something amazing happened. I met someone who has passion, a grand vision, big dreams, who thinks positively and has a kind soul. And guess what? She owns the business. The more we talked, the more we realized that we're in each others lives for a reason. She needs good people and someone to help with web content. I need a paycheck and a place I believe in. The food here is amazing, no joke. Remember that post about bottling it up? Little did I know that I'd be describing where I now work. And though we're in the beginning phases of discussing what I can do to help - I think there's potential for an awesome partnership to happen.

Life in the fast lane. A chance encounter with a boy that lead to love, a recovery ride leading to buying a home, now a random email may lead to a fulfilling and rewarding career. Holy cow. Be open to possibilities and chance encounters and take risks. You never know where they might lead.

Don't quit your day job.

I think I liked being unemployed better. I mean really, I love being the master of my own schedule and the master of my own body. And right now I'm neither, or at least it feels that way.

On Sunday night I worked at my first catering gig. One hundred and fifty guests attended and only 5 wait staff. We hustled, we bustled, we didn't get to rest the entire shift. You show up and hit the ground running. Someone (me) had the brilliant idea of riding 3 hours hard with the boys beforehand - thinking I could handle it. Sure I pipped them during the sprints and even made it up with the second group on the big ass hill in the academy but that extra little umph had my legs screaming by nights end. I will never take for granted being able to lay down on my couch for hours on end after a three hour ride. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off left me sore, hungover, and feeling like a train hit me, backed up and then then hit me again.  Ouchie!

And there's nothing like getting the promise of that first paycheck, in its clean, white envelope with my name printed on the front confirming employment. They never discussed payment or wages - so your guess was as good as mine what that dollar figure was going to be. Ready for the shocker? $9 an hour. Last time I checked I had a college education and management level experience. But I took this job for its flexibility, to allow me to train and be able to leave town at will. And this is Colorado Springs. So sacrifices must be made. The belt can tighten this time of year anyway. And some income coming in is better than nothing, right?

Time to buy some lotto tickets.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Mental fortitude

During the first hundred steps of the Incline, Makiah and Moonli bound by us. Happy to be outside and off leash, their smiles unmistakeable. We can talk at first, the effort nor the altitude taking its toll. Plus the first section is mellow, only a 35 degree pitch. The steeper sections are to come. We know it, the dogs know it, but that doesn't keep them from running ahead, sniffing scents and chasing chipmunks.

Two guys pass us, despite our steady unrelenting pace. We in turn pass a few people and as the pitch steepens, my inner demons surface.  Makiah is panting, the big steps for us giant leaps for her.

That's when the discipline comes out: the grit, the determination to continue even with heavy breathing and throbbing legs. I visualize climbing in a hilly road race, feel the pain to keep pressure on the pedals, continue on despite my body telling my brain to stop. This time there are no power meters to distract me - nothing to impede my upward progression. Nothing to track forward movement, kilojoules burnt, numbers to examine and trends to plot. The only promise this hike has is a great view at the top. Oh, and the priceless practice of mental fortitude.  

As a lifelong athlete, it's easy to take for granted a higher tolerance for pain. Training in zones where discomfort becomes the norm and extreme fatigue a steady companion, day in and day out. But at some point you adapt to that discomfort, it becomes easy just by repetitive visitation. In a way you plateau, getting used to pain. And it makes it hard to push beyond comfortable pain. But you must. This is what can separate you from winning or losing: who can withstand pain longer on a given day.

I'm sure this sounds insane to some - why would you willingly put yourself in pain? For me, it's for the love of sport. The love of triumph, to overcome obstacles both physical and mental. To see what your body and mind can endure and survive. It is a satisfaction and journey that calls to me constantly. It's the feeling of being alive when I get to the top of the Incline, take a deep breath and soaking in the view.

And it's the promise of the Taste of Jerusalem Cafe's kick ass hummus in Manitou after hiking down the Barr trail....

Simple life.

Where did the week go? Or for that matter, where has January gone?

Time flies when you're busy. And when you're boyfriend returns home from travels afar. I love having him here and spend as much time together as possible, just being. He leaves in a week for another three week bout of world cups and training - Spain, London, Argentina... the life of Riley, no? All that to say, somethings get put off. Or rather, re-prioritized.

And let's be honest: I'm really good at letting distractions do their job of distracting. But even though it might be a week before I post something here, I constantly think about it. About things I observe, the funny encounters experienced, the questions it makes me ask, the things I can't quite put my finger on and the moments of extreme clarity. They're still happening, they're always happening. The world keeps spinning.

I also landed a job last week at Garden of the Gods Gourmet. It's a catering gig that has a flexible schedule and is probably the best job a full time training (and not sponsored) cyclist could have. Everyday I walk into work the aromas immediately make my mouth water. The chefs are passionate and you can smell it first, then taste it if you're lucky. The place buzzes every morning of people creating what they do best and I get to deliver it to happy customers.

I'm also walking dogs. Two Border Collies named Jake and Cooper. Jake's ten years old, and Cooper an eight month puppy.  Two jobs, two dogs at home, a house to keep, a book to write, training to complete, a man to love and Mario Kart Wii to play... my simple life just got a little less simple. Would I trade it? Not for anything.

I almost forgot! We're going to Melbourne in March!!!! Formula One kicks off the season there and I'm going to do some late summer crits around the city. All those far away destinations build up some serious air miles and so this one's on United.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Escape Artists

I ducked into the locker room to grab my book for a post-weight spin at the gym and noticed my phone blinking. Shirley, my neighbor had left a message saying she just saw the humane society picking up a furry gray dog that might be Makiah, but she can't be sure.

Uh oh.

I thought I latched the gate but maybe Houdini got out of the yard. I figured I might as well complete my workout, if the little pooch is in the pound then at least I know she's safe. Besides, I only had 15 minutes left on the stationary bike.

I kept playing it over in my head, certain I had closed the gate. But with the wind out in full force today, it very well could be blown open. Nah, it must be some other poor dog.

Nevertheless, as I raced home, I noticed a Humane Society truck parked a couple of blocks up the street. I pulled in the driveway, opened the back door, whistled and knew immediately something was wrong. But what's worse- Moonli escaped too. I grabbed their leashes and took off in a sprint down the block, hopeful the officer had my kids, I mean dogs.

He asked me to describe them and confirmed that yes, he's got them in the back. Someone saw them out and about and called on Moonli first. Apparently big black dogs get a lot of attention. He was found a 1/2 block down the street and Makiah in the driveway. The kicker though - it's going to cost me $95 to make bail. Had I not caught the officer before heading down to the slammer, it would have been double.

Moonli, the ever goofy dog, was happy to see me and not alarmed at all that he was in dog jail. Makiah on the other hand was panting and shaking like a leaf. Those little stinkers. I'm not sure but I think they were a little freaked out because I went into a cleaning frenzy this morning since Benjamin gets home tonight. Maybe they thought I had left them or something and they wanted to come with me? Regardless, they saw the gate open and figured they'd come looking for me. Instead I got to post bail.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Training

The road narrows and pitches up a few degrees. I downshift, spinning a faster cadence. The guys are 50 yards ahead, yet I'm neither gaining or losing ground. A light changes to red and I let out an audible sigh of relief. They can't shake me that easy. I feel like yelling, "hey guys, wait for me!" like a little sister would. But I don't want them to let up, I want to struggle. I want feel how hard I'll need to work to stay with the lead group, physically and mentally.

The light changes and they take off. I suck the wheel in front of me and we hit another kicker. I glance down - 400 watts. Shit, I shouldn't have glanced down. Why did I look? Knowing I can't sustain that power output, the rubber band snaps. It snaps so hard it recoils.

I look around and I'm alone. I glance down - 153 watts. Sweat drips down my check and my legs feel like they weigh 400 pounds a piece. I make a bargain with myself to make it a little further next week. I focus on the positives - positioning practice, setting up for the sprint, breathing through my nose when I can hear some people wheezing. Maybe I should tape my SRM next week so I don't see the wattage?

I could turn toward home at this point but don't. I continue up toward the zoo, unsure of my route and thankfully run into a fellow cyclist. He's on a bright green Jake the Snake cross bike, knobby tires and out for an afternoon spin while his wife watches the kids. He points me in the right direction. I try hanging onto his wheel, trying pushing through the pain radiating from my legs but I can't. I'm cooked.

He hollers, "You'll know you're there when you see the giraffe!"

I keep climbing and pass mansion upon mansion. The road is quiet and I love this part of town, the Broadmoor area. It sits adjacent to Cheyenne Mountain: with jutting rocks, tall pines and clean, crisp air. If it weren't for the leg throb, I'd pinch myself again to see if this was real. A smile spreads across my face once I reach the summit and I head for home. I bid my time. I'm getting stronger every week. It's January, it's sunny and 56 degrees outside and tomorrow brings the promise of another kick ass group ride.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

You didn't bargain for this one....

The more I share my story, the more I want to share my story. Why is it when you tell someone died, the majority of people lower their eyes, muttering, "I'm so sorry that happened to you."

Death. It happens to everyone. No one is immune. Every single person that you love is eventually going to die. So why is it such a taboo subject? Why do most people not want to talk about it or acknowledge it?

During the first steps of grief I sought comfort through reading. I thought just maybe someone was bold enough to talk about the subject head on. That someone made sense of it all and I could relate to that and hold onto the notion that I too would make it through. But the more I read, the more I couldn't relate. Time slowly ticked by.

Ryan didn't die from terminal illness. He didn't die of old age. He died living his passion. He died doing the thing he loved most. May we all be that lucky.

The closest I've come to finding something I can relate to is fiction. But I'm not making this story up. Ryan existed as did his love for rock climbing and above all, living life.

So rather than having a bench made and placed in the soggy Northwest forest, which although is a nice gesture, is something that doesn't feel right, I'm going to tell you a story. His story, our story and the amazing life lessons I've encountered along the way. It's what keeps me writing a fuels the fire in my belly to strong to ignore. We can all be the master of our destiny and choose the life we want to live.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Things that go bump in the night.

Something woke me up in the middle of the night. I'm not sure if it was a grumbling tummy, Moonli having digestive issues or strange noises in the house. It could also be that I stirred up some emotions earlier tonight that haven't surfaced in a while, leaving me gasping a little bit for air.

It is challenging telling new people your story. Moving to a new town guarantees that you'll get to tell your story, a lot. You want them to know you, to know your truth and why you think you're here and now. And I feel comfortable telling most people on the surface my history, the cards I was dealt and the amazing life I choose to live now. But every now and then things get a little deeper, the scab gets peeled back a little bit, exposing vulnerability. Exposing the grief that normally lies dormant but is always there.

So rather than lay awake, willing myself to fall asleep, ignoring how I process things even if it's in the middle of the night - I grabbed a piece of bread to quiet my tummy and grabbed my laptop. I cried, I listened to Alexi Murdoch and whistled for Makiah to come upstairs. She's falling more and more in love with Moonli. She used to always sleep in the bedroom with me. But since King Tut got a new plush dog bed, he spends his time downstairs, and she practically curls up with him. I can't blame her. But tonight I needed her close so I could hear her familiar sounds.


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Go get it.

My old neighbor Shawn from Seattle came and visited me today. His brother had kid-let numero uno up in Fort Collins so he took the day today to head down to Colorado Springs to visit. Not one to sit idle, especially on such a warm Colorado winter day, I dragged him up the Incline. It gains 2,000 feet in a mile. It’s a stair master on a mountain.

Shawn warned me he was out of shape and that since he started working on wind turbines he’s had little cardio. That and he’s picked up smoking again. And been doing his fair share of drinking. No matter though, as I was determined to get his butt up in the mountains and help him realize that there are amazing places to live in this world that promote better health. That being in Seattle though comfortable, is actually sucking the soul out of him. Those grey sky’s suck the very life out of you and from being here in the winter, being infinitely happy with a big old dose of sunshine every day, I’m happy to say that I made the move.

It was good to see him. Even if he couldn’t talk for more than half the hike. He was winded and we took our time by stopping every now and then. Makiah even made the trek and we thought she was going to be his handicap. Turns out she is in better shape than most at 108 years old! Although her low clearance proved to me once again that I must shave her come summer. And I’m thankful to have moved out of the mountains in Manitou and more into the city, or at least further away from the red dirt.

It’s been five months since I first moved here and we talked about some of the goals we had both set for ourselves back then. Public speaking, writing, getting into the media aspect of communications, becoming a life coach. All things that I still think about and know would be kick ass if I pursued them. It also helped me realize that I do have a big impact on those around me. That some of my notions and ideas are not just blowing smoke up people’s asses. I’m actively pursuing them and making the life I dream of. I’m taking action and doing the thing that I say I’m going to do. That I’m not waiting for life to pass me by but rather grabbing life by the horns and hanging on for the ride of my life. You should try it sometime. Amazing things happen when you do.

Following your heart and being true to yourself takes guts. It takes passion. It takes trust and it takes determination. Not to mention patience, perseverance, and focus. It takes resolve, discipline and sheer grit at times. It takes looking something comfortable in the eye and telling yourself that you’re not happy settling. That you want something better. That you know it’s out there and you’re not going to give up until you get it.

Funny how this timing coincides now with the everyone’s annual list of new years resolutions. For me, resolutions never go away. They are there throughout the entire year. But they are different then most. They have nothing to do with changing myself, not to lose weight, eating healthy, becoming a vegan or try a new thing. No, they are way more complicated then that. My resolutions are to continue following my heart, being patient, and trusting myself. Something that must be there every day. Something that is there every day.

The mind is a powerful thing. Challenge yourself and set goals. Dream big and write them down. Take steps to strive towards them. Don’t give up. Go get it. It’s yours for the taking.

PS My book due date is coming FAST!!!! Nothing like a deadline to whip me into shape. Mario Kart Wii must wait…

PPS MAD props to Kari Studley for winning a National title at cross nationals! You GO GIRL!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Passed out on the couch, again.

It's 9:30 and I feel like I've been up way too long. I'm starting to realize that I fall asleep at 8:30 every night. So what if it is in front of the TV, spooned up and sawing logs while Lost is playing on the Tivo? I guess I need the sleep. Especially with the bulk of winter training in full swing. It's all about the recovery - and that's best done laying horizontally.

The tsunami of boxes is on its way out. Only a few more to empty and we can say we're officially moved in. This house is amazing. The dogs love it. Makiah proved you can teach an old dog new tricks as she, for the first time in her life, now uses a dog door. No more whining to be let out. Now if I could just figure out how she could feed herself......

Happy New Year by the way!