Wednesday, December 24, 2014

TEDxSeattle Audition - Coming Soon!

I'm petrified. And yet I'm thrilled.

About a month ago my sister told me that TEDx is coming to Seattle. She sent me a link to their application and on a whim I filled it out. I want to share with the world my experience with sudden death as a gift and my desire to shift the paradigm around death and dying.

Grief is a gift.

So I filled out their extensive questionnaire. What is it that you want to share? Why do you feel the audience needs to know this? What is it that you hope to change in the world? How does your presentation fit into Seattle's TEDx brand, Dive In? Where have you dove into something before? Have you been coached? Are you open to being coached?

I answered all of their questions truthfully and openly. And in a way, I didn't expect to hear anything back.

But I did.

Within a week I received an invite to audition in Seattle. Except there was one minor glitch - they wanted me to audition on 12/13/14 - our wedding day. I responded immediately and the curator told me not to fear - they were going to hold a second audition for people unable to make the first one. My audition is now on 1/23/15.



And I'm petrified and thrilled.

A platform. A way to get my word out there beyond my local community. An opportunity!

Time is ticking.

Being the book worm I am, I perused Boulder's library - looking for books on presenting and on grieving. To my surprise, there are more books on grief and dying then when I first looked back in 2008. And yet none of the titles at first glance focus on the light in the darkness. None of the books jump out and appear to throw a life line during a troubling time when most people are searching for hope.

I grabbed a few titles published after 2008 to see if the main theme remained the same. It's hard to revisit the darkest time in my life, yet it's inspiring to go back there and be reminded of what I can bring to the world: my own perspective on the subject.

I also found a book titled, "Talk Like TED." Nailed it. And as I read about the hours and hours of practice, the need to connect to the audience through narrative and showing them something new, something that inspires, something that they can learn from - I panicked.

How on earth is my story about Ryan's death going to inspire complete strangers?

On the other hand, how is it not?

My self-doubt flooded my mind as I read this morning and I was answered with the following:

"Some speakers take a defeatist attitude. They don't think they have anything new to teach people. Sure they do. We all do. We all have unique stories to tell. You might not have the same experiences as the speakers in this chapter, but you have stories just as interesting and valuable in your journey of discovery. Pay attention to the stories of your life. If they teach you something new and valuable, there's a good chance other people will want to hear about it."



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Something worth celebrating!

We're getting married in three days. I repeat: WE'RE GETTING MARRIED IN THREE DAYS!!!

This isn't my first rodeo. It's actually my second. And for those who don't know my story - I am a widow. Ryan died in September of 2008 in a rock climbing accident. Life as I knew it was thrown upside down. Yet I made a choice early on in my grieving process to look at loss as a gift. To make the most of it. And it opened my eyes and heart to possibilities I didn't know existed.

On our first date I asked Benjamin, "Who are you?" He read my blog and knew all about my story, my loss, my resolve to live on.

"Your love for Ryan was so apparent. That's the kind of love I want. I've never settled for anything less," he admitted to me on our first date.

As I looked across the table I made a resolve right then and there to love him. I barely knew him. But I knew, just knew, we shared something special.

And now in just a few short days, I'm marrying to my best friend.

My eyes fill with tears to have found love again and to be loved back. And I thank Ryan for showing me how to love and live and to Benjamin for making it all possible.

Monday, November 10, 2014

"Training doesn't tickle"

This morning I had a list of excuses before I even woke up...

It's windy.
I'm tired.
I'm sore.
I didn't sleep well.
It's going to snow this morning.
My heart rate is high and my oxygen saturation is low.

And according to my new RestWise program, training today will be severely compromised. Wait, what? Suddenly a program is telling me how I feel? 

We all have days where we feel less than rested. Where our muscles and minds are sore from  weekend beatings. Where getting back in the saddle sounds unbearable.

I text a few of my excuses to Ben to which he responded, "Training doesn't tickle." 

But the wind... and snow... and my legs....

He would have none of it. And thank goodness he didn't. Training requires dedication, hard work, effort and above all, a good attitude.

It's an interesting position being coaching by your lover and best friend. He has to be willing to call me on my nonsense. He's a great coach - holding me accountable for my actions. Especially if my actions are not in line with my goals. He wants me to rise to my potential and take full advantage of my opportunities - to be my best. It is an incredible feeling to have someone in my corner who is not only rooting me on but encouraging, guiding and cheering for me.

And even though sometimes he tells me things I don't want to hear or admit, I am thankful for the trust, honesty and respect we share with one another. It's a two way street and we help each other grow.

So when I ask what makes a great coach - I know exactly what kind of coach I adore and love. How lucky am I that I get to marry him?

Monday, November 03, 2014

My mom, the fisherman.

I come from a long line of fishermen. My Hawaiian/Chinese/Scottish lineage ingrained a deep-seated wisdom to put a line with a hook on it in the sea and survive. But they did more than just survive, my family thrived. Despite adversity, despite the odds, despite any challenges. Despite being outnumbered, lacking fancy equipment or special bait. Moments after putting a line in the water, they would pull out the biggest, fattest fish in the sea.

And then laugh about it.

My mom always had the gift. When she was a little girl, she would go out in a boat with her dad and brother. Off the coast of Hawaii, near the bay where our family had their piece of land, they would rock back and forth in an outboard motor boat in the warm Pacific ocean. Her brother would cast his line in the sea and get a little nibble, only to find a fish stole his bait.

She'd flash a quick grin, cast her line in the sea and within minutes pull in fish after fish after fish.

And then laugh about it.

Over the years, men would try to out fish her. They would create tournaments and fishing vacations, put trophies on the wall for the biggest halibut, the largest of king salmons, boasting of their bounties. Not many women dared set foot in this hunting ground. It was intimidating. She would see men lined up ready to go out for the day on the ocean and she would walk past them get into a boat and head out to the same fishing grounds. Time after time she would limit out hours before they even hooked one fish.

It goes beyond fishing. She went to college in LA, majoring in Business Management in 1968. She was the only woman in her class. Her dad tried to convince her to be a secretary, something more traditional. Despite his wishes, she picked management. She didn't want to be a secretary. She wanted to have her own secretary.

In the 90s she would find herself the only woman in the real estate business world in Seattle and have men try to persuade her she should let a man do what she was doing. She should just give someone else the power she had earned. So she'd out fish them.

And now, I find my sister and I are in a current full of men in our separate professions. She's in tech and I'm in cycling coaching. And guess what we're going to do?

Out fish them.
"It's not about working harder - just smarter."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Resolutions

His description of the incident was easy to picture. As much as I try to avoid it, I ride Highway 36 several times a week. It links Boulder to one of the mountain canyons through Lyons, leading up to Rocky Mountain National Park, the Peak to Peak Highway and beyond. It's two lanes with a wide shoulder. Boulder county cyclists use it all the time even though traffic cruises by at 50+mph. I wince every time a big truck zooms by - a breezy and loud reminder that my spandex offers no protection should something happen. But you can't think that way. You'd be paralyzed and never leave the house.

So when I read the recollection of Adelaide's t-bone encounter with a turning vehicle, I winced. That could be me. That could be Benjamin. That could be any one of my friends. It happened to someone in our community. To someone I met sitting on the sidelines cheering Kennett on at the Superior Morgul crit.

There are reminders big and small that echo how short life is. That life is precious, brief and surreal. Our job is to live life to the fullest and make sure those you love know it and tell them often.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Go Out For Adventure... Come Home For Love

Speaking of adventure... we're headed to Moab this week. The car is packed with hard tails, dual suspension, fork mounts, enough food to feed a small army, Moscow Mule makings, more food and some spandex. What we hope to find: single track on red dirt, smiles on everyone's face and giggles had by all. Oh, and good eating.

My mom visited Boulder this past week and we ran around to Beaver Creek, Pearl Street, the Farm Stand, Salt, Peppercorn and different grocery stores. We ate well, laughed hard and almost cried. I take that back - I'm crying now. I miss her. To go from seeing her everyday to only twice or so a year is hard. She fills such a large place in my heart. I am so lucky.

We've lived here four and a half months now - long enough to see two seasons. Makiah is aging - I catch her with her little tongue hanging out while she sleeps. Moonli has grey around his eyes now, complimenting his grey muzzle. My hair is midway down my back. All signs that time is marching on. What an incredible summer. One that I could put on repeat for the rest of my life.

And we're getting closer to 12.13.14....

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I felt you today. You know when. And tonight, I pictured your smile clearer than I can remember in quite some time.

"When someone great is gone...."

Summertime and the living's easy.



We're getting married!!!


Colorado rules.
Master Track Nationals in Seattle. Team Sharp!
Pumpkin patch just down the street from our house.
Crazy colors at Kenosha Pass. Some great single track too!

Kenosha Pass colors and crowds.

Cruising up Left Hand on the first day of Autumn.

The Hero Project in Santa Monica, CA. Three hours on a spin bike. What?!?

What my cleats looked like after a miraculous tripod save from a massive crash in the master nationals crit. Thankful that my cleats and bike took the brunt of the crash and not my face or body!

Slightly used cleats on Ben's shoe for comparison.

Broken carbon! And three spokes on a rear zipp wheel. That means road season is a wrap!

Moonli the wonder dog. I don't know why he keeps frowning.

Early fall colors in Odgen, Utah.

Late August and all of September was filled with several national championship jerseys, the last races of the season, anniversaries, hospital visits, single track through the changing aspens and pumpkin patches. Where to start? It's all a blur but we sure had fun!

First things first: Master Track Nationals in Redmond, WA. Four titles for our household in the individual pursuit, scratch, points race, and team pursuit. The weather was perfect and we had a great time suffering on the track. Afterward, Ben headed straight to Eurobike in Germany where they decked out 13 (thirteen!!!) airplane hangers full of biking industry gear. I headed back to Colorado and took Moonli and Makiah on multiple walks through the field behind out house. I also prepped for master road nationals held in Ogden, Utah.

Had a great time hanging with teammates in Utah as they competed in the time trial and road races. I saved myself for the crit and long story short - a massive crash in the last lap had me thanking my lucky stars I didn't go down. I managed to come out with a strange handlebar bruise on my hip, worn off cleats, a hosed rear Zipp wheel, and a broken carbon seat stay. Yikes! It put a prompt end to my road season.

While the bike is in the shop, I'm pedaling around on my cross and mountain bikes. It's been rough. Really, really rough as you can tell by the photos.

A quick trip to California to visit Ryan's dad, Gary in the hospital, I found myself at a three hour spin fundraiser on Santa Monica Pier.  Random, strange but super fun! Life is short. Let those you love know it and show them often.

What's next? Rocky Mountain National Park visits, applesauce making, long miles on the cross bike (extra resistance training) and possibly some crossfit. Yep, you read that right. Crossfit. Because someone has to survive the zombie apocalypse.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Embracing the Rain

Dark clouds were already looming by 10am this morning. The forecast called for a 35% chance of thundershowers starting at 11 and I had a three hour endurance ride in the hills on tap. I smartly packed a rain jacket and long fingered gloves and headed out from Gun-barrel toward 63rd. I had one climb in mind: Left Hand Canyon. Never mind that it was shrouded in dark clouds and that from a distance looked like it was being dumped on. I had work to do.

I started counting the dirt patches from the wash out last September. Boulder is still recovering from the 100-year flood that devastated parts of the county. My plan was to climb up to the sharp right hand turn for Ward and then turn around. It started sprinkling at mile marker eight and I had twenty more minutes to go. The sprinkles turned into dime size drops and increased in frequency. I hadn't seen another cyclist for at least a half hour. That's the thing with Colorado. If it's raining, no one goes outside.

I looked down at my Garmin and figured this was as good of a place as any to turn around. I put my rain jacket on and zoomed downhill. Then it started raining harder and I started smiling.

I miss riding in the rain. It's an old friend I know well and one that I realized I hadn't seen in awhile.

It started raining harder and a bigger smile spread across my face.

Is that all you got?

I took off my sunglasses in hopes that i could see the upcoming pot holes in the dirt sections I hit at 35 mph. Squinting, I thread the needle through washboard sections and bunny hopped pinch flat craters. The rain lightened and I turned up Lee Hill and started climbing again.

The vistas from the houses on Lee are breathtaking - shouldered in misty grays highlighted by green trees and stunning canyons. I smiled again - thankful to be here, now.  Thankful for a healthy body, a thinking mind and all of the wonderful people in my life. And then it started pouring.

Sometimes you need a little rain to wash you off and renew your spirits.



Monday, July 28, 2014

So This One Time, At Band Camp....

I drove down to the Forest Grove Talent ID camp this morning, put my cycling clothes on and rode with the group to a church parking lot to help coach 34 kids some skills drills. As we're standing there and moments before I'm about to get introduced to everyone - a bird the size of a pterodactyl takes a dump  on me. The white stuff is all over my arm - about the size of a sponge. I promptly try wiping it off with some nearby leaves and it takes 4 wipes to get it off. I'm standing back in the group when a tall coach next to me leans in and whispers, "Um, there's a bunch in your pony tail." I reach back and grab a HUGE clump of the dark part of the bird poo. And continue reaching back 3 more times to wipe the poo out of my hair. Then Jim introduces me and I wave to the kids with bird poo all over my hands.

Classic.

I'm going to take that as a massive sign of good luck.  Some call it a bird shit blessing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer Happenings

Wow - over a month since my last post. That's got to be a record. To say I've been busy would be  obvious - who isn't? Warm temps, sunny sky, lots of outdoor adventures to be had. And as the world keeps spinning madly on, I'm frequently reminded that each day is an opportunity to live it to the fullest.

My mantra is building steam - surround yourself with passionate, authentic, real people who love to live and live to love. Life is too short to not be chasing your dreams and laughing and sharing that experience with those you love. It's why we are here, isn't it? I like to think so.

And now - some photos that capture what's been happening this summer....
Moonli the amazing office helper.

Haystack Mountain. As in Haystack Goat Cheese from Longmont, CO. YUM! This is about 3 miles from my house. Notice the wide shoulders and open fields? Boulder County is full of them. AMAZING.

Benjamin reading a Monarch Crest map and deciphering the code. Sitting at about 11,400 feet.

Buddies chilling out during the Monarch Crest Epic ride.

Such a great day with friends! Andy, Mike, Therese, Benjamin, Yours Truly, and Becky. Thanks to Mark for taking the photo!

Coached at the USA Cycling Women's Talent ID. Watch out world - these ladies are coming for you!


Coryn and I head banging for Ivy. There's more to the story - all you have to do is ask.


Dead Prairie Dog. Part of living is dying. Make sure you live your life to the fullest!

Summer camps kicked off with the USA Cycling Boulder Mountain Bike Talent ID. These 14-22 year old rode circles around me! This was the only opportunity I had to get them in one shot standing still on top of Flagstaff Mountain.

Next up: Seattle for the Marymoor Gran Prix, Master Track Nationals and Wedding Planning!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Letting go.

The sound of a collision brought my attention upward as I was pedaling my bike on the infield at the velodrome. Two riders went down. One slide down with his bike. The other hit headfirst and his body went limp as he tumbled down the track like a rag doll, stopping between corners three and four. I stopped my bike immediately and jumped the waist high infield railing hurrying to see if there was anything I could do. His body twitched as the last signs of life pulsed through his body. His face turned blue and a medic was on the scene immediately, trying to get some sort of response out of him.

His teenage daughter who had been racing with him in a field of 30 competitors was still on her bike, circled by where he lay limp, and started screaming. She slowly rolled by, nearly crashing as she looked at her lifeless dad.

Minutes passed. I tended to the other injured rider. I still had hope. We all had hoped. Come on Vic, move! We want you here. Your family needs you. We all need you. Please don’t go.

The medics had tried resuscitating him for nearly an hour. They huddled around him, taking turns doing chest compressions and using the defibrillator. A local emergency team showed up with fire trucks, ambulances, and police cars – all trained professionals well versed in what to do when something goes wrong.

But he was gone.

In the next hour I went numb. The race had stopped immediately and everyone went to the infield. Everyone sat there, speaking in hushed tones not knowing what should happen next as the medics continued to try and bring him back to life.

My mind reasoned that this was different then when Ryan died, yet it wasn’t. When someone finally told his daughter that he was gone, her primal sobs brought back the longing and despair that I felt when I first heard the news in the police precinct.

“No, no, no, no!” She cried as she rocked back and forth in the middle of the infield in her mother’s arms.

The ground gave way beneath her and I wanted to hold her up, wanted to rock back and forth with her as her new reality settled in. I wanted to tell her uncomprehending mind that time will heal. That it will get easier. That grief is a gift.

Instead I stood there in silence acutely aware I witnessed another tragic death. Except Vic was only an acquaintance to me. I didn’t know him well other than earlier in the night we had raced along side one another. What impacted me more was hearing his daughter scream and knowing what she felt. That she has a long road in front of her.

I bargained that at least his daughter and wife were there in his final moments, but that doesn’t make it easier. If I had been there when Ryan died, would I have done anything differently? Part of living is dying. We all have a choice on how to let that ultimate reality dictate what we do with the remaining hours, days, months, and years we have left.

An hour later I packed up my things and headed to my car. I was one of the first to leave but had the furthest to drive. I sat in silence for the majority of the two-hour drive home. I took stock of my life: Am I doing exactly what I want to be doing? Yes. Am I settling in any way? No. If I were to die today, was today a good day? Absolutely. Is there anything I would do differently? Get this damn book out there. Do those I love know it? Yes.


Her sobs echoed in my head that night, a reminder that she’s the type of person I want to help. That despite how hard life can be, it is worth living and that an incredible amount of growth and strength blossoms out of grief. The beauty of loving someone is being able to let go and know they’ll be in your heart forever.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Living in the Boulder Bubble.

Oh man, oh man! Not a lot of blogging going on lately. Not a lot of writing, either! Sheesh!

But we moved to Boulder and closed on two houses within a week. Been racing a bunch, packing and unpacking boxes, getting plugged into a new community, working some USAC talent ID camps and enjoying summer living.

The riding here is amazing. Five minutes from the new pad takes you onto wide shouldered country roads, meandering through the rolling hills that are green from the afternoon thundershowers that come marching in like clockwork. The grocery store rivals Seattle's (FINALLY!) and there's a Trader Joe's in town.

"The only thing that would make this place even better was if there was a blueberry farm," I mentioned to Benjamin on our first ride as residents and taking in the scenery that reminds me of the Northwest.

The next day while riding to a crit (HECK YES! No more 2+ hour drives to the bubble to race!) I noticed a U-Pick blueberry farm less than 5k from the house! BOOM!!!

Yep, paradise. Now I know why no one travels outside of the bubble - you don't need to!

Monday, May 05, 2014

A drop in the bucket.

I can't believe it's here. I'm nearing the end of my book. I just wrote the final chapter with the biggest takeaway message I could muster: urging people to live their lives without settling, by following your dreams and not conforming to the status quo. To risk to love. To leap. To play.

What a process and journey it's been to write my memoir. I hope you all enjoy it. I hope you take the messages I've intertwined throughout my story and apply it to your life. I hope in doing so it brings you happiness, acceptance and peace.

Wow, what a ride. It's been three years in the making. More if you count the back story. And I wouldn't speed it up or slow it down for anything. What a gift.

What's on your bucket list? DO IT.


Thursday, May 01, 2014

Acceptance

Acceptance.

It's something I always strive for. A place in my heart, mind and soul that feels calm, peaceful and is full of gratitude.

Acceptance.

It can apply to things big and small, hardships and good times.

Acceptance.

When do you know you've reached it? I think it's when you can look back and go Holy Shit! What a ride. 

Acceptance.

When you can say, I wouldn't change that experience for anything. The experience becomes a part of who you are: wiser, tougher, smarter, stronger, happier for it. 

I'm writing one of my last chapters on acceptance of Ryan's death. There wasn't a specific day I woke up knowing I would be okay, it was a culmination of multiple events. Thank you to all of my friends, family, dogs and events that helped me create a little more acceptance every day. I am so grateful for each of you. Thank you.



Next up: CELEBRATION!!!!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Out of body experiences...

That's strange, I thought to myself. I tried getting ahold of Benjamin via FaceTime multiple times that evening. It was his day off from commuting up to Boulder and I figured he must be out riding or something.

I tried him again. This time the call failed.

Give me 15 minutes, he texted.

I was sitting in the lobby and figured my crappy connection in Mexico was the culprit. Dave and Ali sat across from me and we started talking about the day. I was getting tired and ready to go to bed, but wanted to make sure I connected with Benjamin since we hadn't spoken all day. I also didn't have an Internet connection in my room.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a red sweat shirt wearing person walk down the hall. I do a double take.

"Hey there," Benjamin says.

"No way!" I respond, jumping up from the couch and enveloping him in a hug. He got got me. Like I got him in London.

"Hi baby. Did you get got?" he said, kissing me on the lips. "I wouldn't miss this."

It was the night before competition for the ParaCycling track world championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico. His presence instantly soothed me. The week leading up to the race had gone relatively smooth but his presence meant complete support no matter what happened out on the track. No disappointing looks, no "woulda, shoulda, coulda's"- absolutely positive vibes and a booming, encouraging voice willing my legs to push harder and faster.

He booked a flight, arranged a dog sitter, got a hotel room at the hotel we were staying at and brought his bike for transportation between the hotel and the track without me having a clue. I suppose having been to Aguas at least 5 times prior helped - he knows the lay of the land and the hotel staff all know him by name.

On race day I saw him enter the track bleachers while Karissa and I were doing our warm up. It must have felt strange to not be on the infield. His previous profession was built around infield coaching. For the first time in seven years he came as a spectator.

"You could have Ben read your splits if you like," Ian the high performance director said to me about 15 minutes before we were ready to start the 3km pursuit.

"That's okay. I'll have Andy do it. But when we make the final, I'd like that a lot," I replied, wiping the sweat from my brow. The velodrome was hotter than hot. It's an indoor 250 with an inflated doom roof. Air is pumped in from outside and coupled with the lights, people and reflection of the sun, it heats up to 110 degrees by 1pm. Our seigneur doused us with cold, wet sponges that dried within minutes of skin contact.

"It's time girls," Mike the assistant coach tells us. We're dressed in team USA skin suits, aero helmets and cycling shoes.

I walk across the infield, with Karissa following me. We're about to go as hard as possible for roughly 3.5 minutes. The Tiemeyer track tandem with double disks is perched in the starting gate. We walk around and straddle the bike, clipping in and preparing for an explosive start.

I can feel Benjamin. I know he's there and I don't have to look at him. I'm focused on the effort at hand. Visualizing for the final time a perfect start, sensing the pain and detaching from it.

The countdown timer starts with a beep. 15 seconds. Beep. 10 seconds. Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep, BEEP! Off we go, my nerves aroused as we round the first two corners. We pump our legs harder, faster, settling into a fast tempo and getting the bike up to speed as quickly as possible. We settle into our saddles, and I extend through the aero bars. Andy yells our splits, which gives us immediate feedback for how hard or how slightly easier we should go.

The laps tick by. Our swift start has us struggling toward the end. We start to fade with 1km to go. I'm battling inner demons, pushing through the pain and narrowing in on the tunnel vision of staying glued to the pursuit line as much as possible. We're losing ground. The Kiwi's catch us, which momentarily makes me loose focus. We push. We pull. We cross the finish line.

We spin around the track a few times as I try gulping air, try getting some blood back into my brain. I pull over and Karissa jumps off the bike quickly. I collapse on the top tube. Rick, another coach, catches me as I'm about to fall over. I can't lift my leg over the handle bars. I'm spent. I gave it everything. We finished with a 3:35, 13 seconds faster than our time in LA. One second faster than Karissa's 10 year standing national record. I try walking down the ramp and can't. I grasp a hand rail. I don't know where Karissa went. So I sit down, unable to muster up the energy to walk across the infield. I can't catch my breath.

I had given it everything.

Ian walks over and checks on me.

"I'm sorry, I tried as hard as I could," I wheeze, leaning forward and ready to retch.

"Don't apologize. Giving it everything you have is all we ask," he responds.

"I wish she wanted it as bad as I do," I whisper, looking up as I start a coughing fit.

After twenty minutes, I walk back to the pit accompanied by a mechanic who holds my arm. Karissa is there, changing back into her street clothes. Benjamin calls to me from the railing and asks if I'm okay. I give him the thumbs up. Yes, I'm more than okay. I just gave a ride at the world championships everything I had. And though the result didn't stand a chance compared to the Kiwi's, it was a remarkable improvement for us. But we have a long, long way to go.

I start coughing again. I can't quite catch my breath and feel like I might puke, sneeze, cough and shit all at once. My body is shutting down. I'm delirious.

"Karissa, do you want to cool down?" I muster.

"I already did," she responds. Was I gone that long?

I clamber onto the bike and can't quite make out what people are saying to me. I'm floating between consciousness and blacking out. I did it. I pushed my body to the limit and didn't die. And as crazy as it sounds, I can't wait to do it again.

I can't wait to do it again.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Happenings

Life takes interesting twists and turns. Six years ago, my world was rocked. Three years ago, I met Benjamin. Two and a half years ago, I moved to Colorado. In 2012, I spent a month in Mallorca, Spain, had our house near the wildfire evacuation zone, and surprised Ben in London for the games. Last year I started tandem racing on the ParaCycling team and this year I'm headed to Mexico for my second world championship aimed to guide Karissa to some rainbow stripes. And in the next few months, we're relocating up to Boulder. Oh and we're getting married!

Needless to say, things have been busy around here. I've been working on my memoir daily with my June due date coming quick. Ben quit working at USA Cycling and now works at Stages Power Meters. Moonli and Makiah are happy and silly.  Things are good, really, really good.



Earlier this week the team headed up to LA for some track training on the velodrome. We've been stationed in the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista and making trips up north to get in some quality training before our big competition next week. I called Gary, Ryan's dad, and let him know our training times and hoped to meet up. I love to keep in touch with him and make an effort to see him and his wife Anita every time I'm in town.

"You sure didn't take the traditional path in life," Anita commented at dinner. Her eyes were wide, portraying what I registered as fear. "I could never not have a steady job or paycheck. Yet, Jen, I got to hand it to you. You make it work."

"I'm not sure how," I admitted. Her fear triggered my own. How am I making this work?

"You're doing it right, girl," Gary championed. He is always supportive. He shakes his head in wonderment at me a lot, but it's nonjudgemental and makes me giggle when I think about how crazy most of the shit is that I do.

I admit, it's tempting to quit everything and get a real job. Climbing a corporate ladder would satisfy my competitive itch. But I know as soon as I do, I would find myself unhappy in a matter of weeks. I need constant movement, constant pressure of improving as a person and an athlete. As nice as a steady paycheck sounds, the idea of regular office hours and the same type of work sounds absolutely boring. Bring on the unknown. Bring on the adventure. I'm all about the journey.

And you know what? When you are open to a journey that takes twists and turns and you accept things for what they are and make the most of them, big and exciting things happen.

Make it work. That's all you have to do. Don't settle for mediocracy. Take life by the horns, choose what you want to do and follow your dreams with reckless abandon.  You never know if it's going to lead to Aguascalientes, Mexico for a ParaCycling Track World Championship.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Excerpt from Chapter Nine...

One morning during savasana in yoga, we laid on our mats for the final few minutes of class in silence. During this quiet meditation, I could feel Ryan’s energy enter my body, wrapping me in an embrace. It was unexpected and soothing and a reminder of how much how much I missed him. As the seconds ticked into minutes, I could feel the lump in my throat building. I could feel him all around me, soaking into my skin and melting down into my heart. My emotions started to surface and tears rolled down my checks.

The teacher rang the three bells, signaling the end of class and summoning us back from deep relaxation to the present. I gently moved my fingers and toes, bringing awareness back into my limbs. I wondered if the other yogis felt the strong presence of Ryan, a love so deep that it moved me to tears.

The other people in the class were moving around, picking up their yoga mats and leaving the room. I looked over at Shawnee and she was staring back at me.

“I felt him. He was here, wasn’t he,” she said quietly, tears welling up in her eyes. I nodded yes in response.  “I didn’t know Ryan, but I am honored to get to know him through you.”


I took a deep breath, acknowledging the strength and wisdom that having someone so near to you die is now a part of my everyday existence. I moved off my yoga mat and rolled it up in a tight coil, thankful for that moment and thankful that I will never forget how much he means to me.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Prepping for Worlds

My whole body hurt. My legs were screaming at me to stop. My body felt like it was going to explode. And yet I kept pushing. 20 seconds to go. Focus on something else, anything other than the pain pulsating through my body. Fight for it! Keep those rpms up! 10 seconds. PUSH!

And done. Rest one for one minute and then throw yourself back into the pain cave. Sixteen times.

Oh micro-intervals. (For my non-cycling readers: micro intervals are usually a set length of time with a 1:1 recovery. They're short, they're sweet and they hurt, a lot. You are tapping into your VO2 zone, building on how long you can sustain that intensity and then recover. It's kind of like banging your head into a door, repeatedly and on purpose. It's like ripping your own legs off and then doing it again.)

No one would know if I gave up. If I stopped, got off the trainer, and walked away from the pain. In fact, most people would do just that. Why subject yourself to that kind of pain if you don't have to?

I'll tell you why: the ParaCycling track world championships are coming. And they're coming fast.

I'm putting in the time, bleeding out my eyeballs, putting emphasis on rest and recovery as much as quality workouts. I'm getting at least 8 hours of sleep a night. I'm lining up everything to give the 3k pursuit everything we've got.

I'm getting stronger. It hurts like hell but I'm getting stronger.

Monday, March 03, 2014

Lies, lies, lies...

Rosanne Olson/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images


Lies. Deceit. Deception.

The average person encounters 200 lies a day. That's over 12 lies an hour we're awake a day.

Why do we lie? In many ways, it's more a question of why wouldn't we lie?

"How are you?"

"Good," we respond despite the dog shit on our shoe, the parking ticket we found after we noticed someone hit and run our car. We put on a fake smile, thinking it would be easier to gloss it over rather than explain how we really feel. Because if we told someone how we really felt, we'd expose our vulnerability.

Sometimes we don't mind being lied to. And when that fake smile flashes across your friends face, you let it slide.

So why do we lie?

I'm reading a book called "LieSpotting" by Pamela Meyer. After a successful professional career, Meyer was intrigued by lying and deceit so she decided to research it. If we can detect lies through verbal and nonverbal cues, then we can stop it. Wouldn't you want to surround yourself with those you trust most? Just imagine a life without lying!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Setting Intensions: Not for the Faint of Heart.

For those of you who have happened upon my blog, here's some contextual backstory: My husband died in 2008 in a rock climbing accident and I became a widow at age 30. I was grief stricken and shocked. But I also knew right away that I had a choice - I could wallow in my sorrow or choose to look at grief as a gift.

After some soul searching and letting time, the ultimate healer pass, I opened myself up to new things. Life coaching, mindfulness, conscious awareness, and choosing to live a life that I wanted to live. Doors started opening: new love, opportunities, sunny weather, buying a house, establishing myself in a new community, striving toward my Olympic dreams, to name just a few.

They all happened because I set an intension around it. I didn't focus on a specific outcome - I just put my heart out there focusing on happiness, joy and passion and guess what? Happiness, joy and passion showed up in my life, and then some.

What I would love, more than anything, is to share the possibilities with you. To give you the support you need to reach for the impossible, to help shape a new reality - one that you create. Because we are only gifted one chance in this life and we can let it whiz by or we can grab it by the horns and go for one kick ass ride.

So...

What are your dreams and desires? What is that one thing that if you focus on, gets your stoked factor into the 11+'s? Think about that one pure thing you want: love, laughter, money, employment, happiness, joy.

Got it?

Good.

Now sit with it. Turn off your phone. Shut down your computer. Find a comfortable spot to sit upright and release all tension, emotions and thoughts. Let your mind be blank.

Once you've cleared your mind, you're ready to set your intension. Draw it up into your consciousness and then let. it. go. Stop thinking about it.

And repeat this, day after day. When intensions come from a mindful, quiet space they're much more powerful then when they come out of a sense of need.  Detach from the outcome. If you intend for everything to work out as it should and when you let it go, opportunities will come your way. Let the Universe handle the details. Don't worry about outcomes.

Set your pure intension and amazing things will happen.

You are the master of your own destiny.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Mindfulness

I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

Ready?

Are you sure?

Mindfulness works. It really, really works. And you can apply it to anything in your life. It is that powerful.

What is mindfulness? It is the state of active, open attention to the present. When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to the experience. (According to Psychology Today.)

That's great, but how do I apply it to x, y or z?

Let's talk about eating, since we all eat. How often do you multi-task while eating? You check your phone, watch TV, read a book or a magazine, do something, anything while you shovel food in. You get food all over, you miss your mouth and food lands in your lap, you don't even notice what you're eating tastes like.

Mindfulness slows that all down. It's going to require you put that phone, remote or book down though. Instead, you'll be focused on one task at a time. You start to notice more - how the food feels on your tongue; how it tastes; how it feels sliding down your throat. Because of this awareness, you start to notice when you're full so you stop eating as much. You lean up, you calmly digest, you enjoy each meal.

Great - but how do I apply this to sports?

Think about a recent win. How did you feel? Where you in the present moment? Where you 100% focused? That's mindfulness. It's hard to achieve at every moment, of every day. It can be hard to achieve it multiple times in your life. But if you practice, it will become more frequent and you'll be able to harness that inner strength when ever you need to. And it will make the impossible, possible.

How do you start?

With just 10 minutes a day. Yep, 10 minutes. I recommend starting in the morning when your day is calmest. You can even do it while you're laying in bed. Focus on your breath in, breath out. Notice thoughts or feelings come in, let them pass with curiosity and fade back out. All you have to do is just keep practicing this simple technique, and you'll be on your way.

For those overachievers - go to yoga at least 3 times a week. Focus on your breath, aligning your mind, body and spirit. It works, yo!