Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Curse is Broken, OR is it?

There's this trail in Johnstown, Ohio and every time we ride this trail there is some story... typically not a good one. As a result I call it the trail of doom!!! Basically, the trail is cursed...

Once again, my friend and I headed out to the trail of doom for a ride, not even considering the curse! It wasn't until we were almost to the trail head that we reconsidered our trail choice. You see, it was overcast and cloudy with a 100% chance of rain in about an hour, we were frantically checking our cell phones to see if the ride was even going to be worth it when I looked down and noticed I was almost out of gas. This should have been a sign, right? Wrong...

We trudged on, got to the trail head and unloaded our bikes. A nice gentleman in the parking lot made note of the clouds and casually asked if we thought we would get rained on. Of course!!! So, off we went, trailing behind the speedy dude, while chit chatting about the trail, weather and cow crap we could smell everywhere. We made note of the trail and simply rode. Next think we knew, we were half way through the ride. We stopped to snack and have a drink, while we sat there watching the clouds role in. It was like we didn't even care that the clouds were about to open up and dump their contents on everything. We simply continued snacking and then hopped on our bikes and headed back to the car.

On the way back to the car, I noticed a sign for a nursery that I heard was a must if you enjoy gardening at all. I'm now always in search of the delicate flowers with little petals, and especially enjoy walking the isles of a nursery that has unique finds. I asked if there was any interest in stopping there after we got back to the car. Thankfully my friend said yes!!!

Next thing, we were back to the car, loading our bikes. There happened to be some wild flowers near by, that I have been cloning (in other words cutting pieces of to plan at my friend's house), and I decided to take a walk to those flowers and dig a couple up. The flowers were back in the woods about 10 feet and I had on flip flops at this point, but I NEEDED to get some more (although others may have differing opinions). Anyway, we then got in the car and went to town for the best breakfast EVER! We went flower shopping, and enjoyed the uneventful ride in Johnstown.

After our ride this morning, we were commenting on how the curse must be broken because we didn't have any problems out in Johnstown yesterday. All the while, Sue was telling me to stop scratching. I had been scratching these bumps on my hands and legs since yesterday afternoon, after our ride on the trail of doom... I scratched and scratched!!! I sprayed calamine lotion on every itchy part of my body several times throughout the day. Over dinner tonight, I threw out the idea that I might have chicken pox. After all, people with autoimmune diseases can get chicken pox more than once. We laughed about my flare for the dramatics and decided that I just had some bug bites.

Well, on my way home tonight, I stopped at the store to pick up a couple of items, one of which was cortisone cream, and I decided to stop at the pharmacy counter to ask the pharmacist their opinion on my bumps. The pharmacist said, with 90% certainty, that I have poison Ivy... My reaction... WHAT!?!?!? That damn trail really is doomed...

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Feeling Proud

After a 4 miler with my best buddy.
I smile when I'm sad, and cry when I am happy... That is just wrong, right? Being a people pleaser, I'm always trying to make sure people around me are getting what they need first, sometimes with error and other times with grace; just depends on the circumstance. One thing, though, is that I will always do everything with good intentions. And I think it is safe to say, most people do what they do with good intentions.

So, I had a pretty awesome week this past week. I spent some time in Illinois with my family, and got to participate in the Soldier Field 10 miler. What a great race!!! I'll likely go back again for this one, but maybe not for a couple of years. We will see.

Like the Glass City Half Marathon, I contacted the race staff for some assistance at the finish line of this race. Basically, I requested to leave my cane at the med tent, let my sister wait at the end for me, etc. Unlike the Glass City Half Marathon, the process wasn't the smoothest... Somehow my cane ended up at gear check, my sister WAS able to wait for me, but that was after talking to the finish line folks and poking her way close to the finish line, and running through the stadium to find my cane so that I would have my tool to move around post race.

It may impact the timing on when I will do the race again, because I want to be more stable post run, and the Soldier Field 10 miler didn't prove to be the most accommodating for my current circumstance, but I do know they had great intentions, just fumbled with execution... BUT, that is not what this particular blog post is about.

Instead, I want to focus on this... I use a cane after difficult runs, I do the airplane, as my friend calls it, when I finish, but I finish!!! Not only do I finish, but I typically finish with a smile on my face!!!

So, when people ask me why I continue with this athletic crap/stuff/insanity, I am always going to respond with, because it makes me proud, even if it does drive me to a cane temporarily.

So when you see me struggling, or walking with a cane after a race, don't feel sorry for me, be just as proud as I am...

After the Soldier Field 10 Miler with my big sis, and a friend.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Lessons from Bruce Jenner

This is a blog about athleticism. Who is one of the best athletes of all time? Bruce Jenner. And so this post is totally appropriate for this blog.

I just finished watching another Bruce Jenner special and this is what you get...

I always wanted to be an athlete. I looked up to my high school English teacher because she was an avid softball player. I looked up to my friend from my high school job because she would go for bike rides, like on roads and stuff, who did that back then? Athletes. I admired my sister who was an avid water polo player through high school. Basically, I stared this idea of athleticism in the face for years and yearned for a place on that team. But I was always too fat, too slow, too scared of others, too afraid of the stares, too self conscious, too focused on the fact that 'I can't' and so I never tried...

Until one day, I decided I could, and then my journey began.

On a very basic level I can empathize with Bruce Jenner, and I can honestly say that the Kardashian's aren't all that bad either. If you have not been following the Jenner story, a brief synopsis is this... He is 65 years old, he has been hiding the fact that he has felt like a girl/woman for his entire life, dressed up as a woman on occasion since he was 10 years old, and has now decided to begin his transition to become a woman.

Whether you believe people are born gay or not, whether you are a christian or not, whether you have an understanding for the transgender population or not, there is something to learn from any human story. I don't care whether you are sympathetic to people who live a different lifestyle than yourself, I think it is safe to say that as humans, we all want other humans to live healthy, happy lives.

Bruce Jenner has struggled his entire life, but he has decided to 'come out' so to speak, and live the life that was intended for him. He has waited 65 years to be himself because he struggled with the idea of fitting into societal norms that he put his own happiness to the side. He was a good dad, and will likely continue to be a good dad. You know how I know he is a good dad? Because of the way all of his kids have reacted to his journey. Sure there have been tears, and sadness, but he has given every one of the people in his life the opportunity to react. I'm not saying they all reacted appropriately, but that doesn't matter, they all got their opportunity to share what their experience was with the information they had learned.

I have so much more to say, but I think I need to keep processing it all, but what I can say is this:

My athletic journey doesn't compare to the Bruce Jenner story, but there are some parallels... What I have learned from following the story: 1) It is never too late to be who you want to be; 2) there will always be that perfect reason on why you shouldn't be who you want to be, if you choose to give power to that reason; 3) we all have the power to determine whether we are going to take the leap to be ourselves, and that can be hard for some people; 4) AND if you surround yourself with all the right people, in his case his family, you will come out the other end with unconditional love.

So to my family and my dearest friends, you should know that my unconditional love applies to you. There is nothing you can do that will make me stop loving you, even if I struggle with that new information... I will always come out the other end with love and respect for you.

Now, let's go for a run!!!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Priorities

One of the hardest things for me, when training for an event, is creating a workout schedule. I can hazard a guess as to why it is so difficult. Reasons include:

  1. So many people have their opinions on the correct way to train, but when your goal is simply to get across the finish line, the training can take many different forms. So, who do you take advice from? Well, I only take advice from people who have similar priorities and are successful maintaining balance with all of their priorities. Those types can be hard to find.
  2. Adjusting my life schedule to work within my training goals sometimes throws me a little off balance.
  3. Maintaining balance between life and training gets extremely challenging, because I get fatigued and exhausted from training. All people have this problem when training, but I experience fatigue and exhaustion without movement, adding movement only exacerbates these feelings. 
  4. 'My People' energize me, and if I don't have time with them I find myself down in the dumps. Maintaining my visits with my friends is necessary for my mental health. My friends keep me motivated, and I am not willing to give up my time with my friends. 
  5. Sleep is the most important aspect of training and I don't like sleep. I like early mornings, I like late nights (well, late for me), naps make me more tired (yet they are necessary for point three above). And so, this actually can cause a cycle of exhaustion within point three.
So, I am sitting here writing a training schedule for a big bike ride and an Olympic Distance triathlon, first putting in my time with my friends, gardening, and sleep. Can you tell what my priorities are?

Balance is key to anything in life. I simply don't believe in giving anything up for one activity in my life. It drives me nuts when people give up a type of food, doing the things they love, spending time with friends/family for the purpose of their athletic pursuits unless they are getting paid for their athletics. Yes, running and riding are awesome and fun, but so are my friends (BTW, I'm fortunate because my best buddy is also my riding and running buddy), and they are more important than two seconds faster across the finish line.

So, as I sit here writing my schedule, planning my workouts around my life, I can promise myself that while exercise and maintaining my health are huge priorities, I will not allow myself to lose site of the other, just as important priorities in my life. 



Sunday, May 3, 2015

RIDE ON

Pedal to the Point 2014
After one accomplishment, I immediately start plotting my next adventure. If you have been following my blog, you likely saw that I ran the Glass City Half Marathon last week, and now I'm moving on... What is it the next goal for this year? I'm shifting gears, literally, and refocusing on riding for the summer. Once again I will be taking on a Bike MS event.

I have to admit, this past week has been a week met with some mixed feelings. Finishing a huge race comes with this immense feeling of accomplishment, but then I start to think about how I can meet that accomplishment, and do I even need to? I was talking with my mom today and I was telling her about how I feel I have built some of my adult identity around my athleticism, and I sometimes wonder about the 'what ifs' that likely will NEVER come. For instance, what if I can't ride my bike anymore; what if I can't run anymore; what if I can't swim anymore? Because it is part of my identity, I honestly don't know how to answer that question... AND, that is why I am participating in this ride!

OK, so that isn't the only reason I ride... The other reasons I ride include hanging with my friend, to feel the wind in my hair, the feeling of accomplishment, and quite honestly, because I just like it. Actually, I LOVE it!!!

But here is the deal, the what ifs I mentioned above are the realities for many people around the world who are dealing with MS. I'm lucky... I'm just forgetful and clumsy, but I otherwise have all of my mobility in tact. I attribute my mobility to my athleticism and the care I put into my athleticism. I certainly am not only athlete, after all I've been working on building a very cool garden with my friend over the past few weeks, I've been hanging with my kitty and thinking about the next gifts I am going to make for people; all things that also impact my identity! But even the threat of losing one part of your identity is a scary prospect. This is likely why we grieve when we lose someone we love, whether through break up or death, because they are a huge part of who we are!

So, I am committed to making sure one less person has to grieve the loss of a small part of their identity by riding for MS.

My closest friend who is always there for me, is going to ride with me again. She was there for the 175 miles last year, along with my awesome family, and now she is going to put up with me for hours on this course...

Help us raise some funds for MS!!! A donation to my friend is just as special, if not more, as a donation to me. Feel free to click on either link below to donate, and Sue and I will promise (OK so we will shoot for) another picture like the one above!!!

Donate to Sue: here.

OR

Donate to me: here.