Saturday, November 28, 2015

Light of the World, Shine on Me. Love is the Answer.

How pretty is all this mud on me?
 It's that holiday where everyone expresses gratitude. Of course, I express my gratitude everyday. When you have had so much bad crap happen to you when you were young, as I've had, even a quiet, ordinary life seems like the most amazing thing. I remember when I was younger and forced to live with my evil aunt and uncle, I kept wishing for some prince or some wealthy benefactor (I read "Great Expectations" one too many times) to come and save me, but I was luckier than that. I was born to a mother who, even though she died 10 years after I was born, taught me how to save myself...And I'm talking about even after the fact of living in the bad situation, where you don't know how to live in the normal world, because you've developed all these messed-up ways of coping with abuse and then you think that's all you deserve or understand so you keep creating those situations in your life...And when I say you, I think we all know who I'm talking about.

John took a header at one point and looked super bad-ass with his mud blood legs.
 My mother was by no means perfect, and she was always quick to point that out, so that her overly sensitive youngest daughter didn't take her exhausted impatience personally. She had grown up with an overly cautious father who wouldn't let her or her siblings ride bikes, because he worried that they would hurt themselves on them. My mother didn't want us to grow up afraid of everything like she did. She also didn't want her girl children to be quiet and pretty and long-suffering, so she gave us the gift of sometimes feral freedom, that I always loved and the gift of feminism at a young age. I was told that I could do anything that I should question everything and that I should create whatever was in my head without worrying whether it was "good enough" (whatever that means). I was also lucky enough to be given the gift of journaling in the manor of it being forced upon me by my teachers in 5th grade, which just so happened to be the year my mother died.

My wonderful boyfriend, braving my muddy legs and feet to take off my timing chip.
 It took me many wasted years of my adult life to figure out how to use all of the gifts to save myself, but in my 30's I finally was brave enough to look carefully at myself and my behavior and figure out what I didn't like about myself and not worry about what other people don't like about me (screw them. They don't have to live with me 24/7) and do the work I needed to do to create a life that makes me happy. I will be doing this work my entire life, but I am at a great place right now.

I am grateful for everything I did on Thanksgiving.

Stinky coming into the finish. She didn't think it was as much fun as I did, but she's more mature than I am.

We started out with a muddy local trail race and it was ridiculous. After getting injured last year, my goals for this race were not to fall (no matter how slow I had to go) and to have fun. It was raining before the race started. A bunch of snow had melted and we knew it was going to be muddy, but then there was lightning that delayed the race for 15 minutes. By the time we started, most of the rain had stopped. People went out hard and then hit the first grassy hill and I could hear people falling and screaming behind me. I went slowly and cautiously down that first hill. People were passing me right and left and I was fine with it. Even the people dressed like vegetables passed me and I said, "Go get it!" There were some downhills where we had lines of at least 30 people all in a row, trying hard not to fall.

I ran with people and we all laughed and joked about the mud and at one point I grabbed what I thought was a branch, but turned out to be a sticker vine instead and the guy running next to me said, "Yeah. you might have been better off just falling there..." Too true.

At one point, I saw one of my teammates running with his son. On every downhill mudslide, his son jumped and slid down it on his belly, like Superman and instead of taking the bridge, they both went down and up the creek walls to experience full, muddy goodness. I thought, what a great thing to teach your kid, that this is fun and it is a great thing to play outside and get dirty, whether you do well in your race or not.

When I got done with my race, I was in the bottom half of the participants, but I didn't fall and when a friend of mine asked me how I did, I said, " I had so much fun. What a blast." So, it looks like I met my goals

John and I went home and took long, hot showers and naps. Then we both worked on cleaning our house and cooking Thanksgiving dinner. The cats got a little riled-up and Archie messed with Heidi, until she put him in his place. She is half his size, but he is terrified of her. Who doesn't love a submissive male?

Archie took consolation in killing his fake mousy. Whatever helps, right?

Stinky and her boyfriend and our friend, Burne showed up for dinner and a couple of other couples showed up for pie and drinks and a Cards Against Humanity game.

Finally, it was time to put ourselves, and Archie to bed. Running, playing in the mud, eating good food and hanging out with family and friends? What ISN'T there to be thankful for? Best part? Our house is clean, we have tons of food and we have three more days until we have to go back to work. Ahhhhhh.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

We Live for Just These Twenty Years, Do We Have to Die for the Fifty More?

Here I was in 1985 in Legget, CA., right before I moved to Big Bear Lake.

 This Thanksgiving should be nice and quiet. John and I will do a sloppy, muddy trail race in the morning. It happens to be the same trail race that I fell in last year and because of the swelling caused by the fall, wasn't able to walk for over a week. Needless, to say, I believe slow and steady will win the race for me tomorrow...Or it might lose the race for me, but I will go on to race another day...Hopefully. We'll come home, shower and take a nap...Hopefully and then start cooking. Dinner should just be John and myself and maybe Stinky and her boyfriend and then a few friends will come over for pie and drinks in the evening. No travel, no muss, no fuss...Hopefully.

Since it's still my blogeversary year still, I thought I'd repost this bit about a Thanksgiving I had 30 years ago, in 1985, when I was 20 whole years old. I remember it as a great adventure. An adventure I wouldn't have the patience or energy for anymore, but I'm glad I did that crazy shit when I was younger

The guy I was going out with at the time and I had just moved to Big Bear Lake, California and gotten jobs at Snow Summit Ski Resort. We had previously been working for the California Conservation Corps up in Northern California, where we only got paid once at the beginning of the month and had to wait another week for our last checks. We had almost no money and were staying at our friend's parent's Summer A-frame cabin until we could get our own place. Earlier in the day, we took the shuttle van (cince I didn't know how to drive and neither one of us had a car) to the store and spent the last of our money on frozen egg rolls. It had just snowed and so we holed up in the cabin and ate our eggroll feast and watched The Twilight Zone marathon that was on one of the channels we were able to pick up from Los Angeles. At the time, we kept laughing at how pathetic we were, but now it feels like the perfect way to spend the holiday as a new and still very awkward adult.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In Heaven There is No Wine (No Wine). So We Drink 'Till We Feel Fine

I know a lot of people can't stand Winter or cold weather or snow, and I get it. It's still not my favorite season, but I now get giddy at the prospect of snow. You want to know why? Because I found a fun way to play in it and I can finally afford warm clothes, so I can play outside without hurting.

So, it snowed all Friday night and part of Saturday morning and when we woke up, everything was just loverly.

I woke up late and read some of my book and listened to music and then made a big breakfast of cheesy, salmon and egg mess and hash browns. Yum.

John was wonderful and shoveled snow before I even woke up.

We really wanted to try and ski, even though we knew the snow was too sticky and wet for it. So, we went across the street to the park to see if it was feasible to ski. The snow was okay in spots, but sticky in others. We thought if we went to Lake MacBride, and tried to ski in the wooded sections, the shade would make the snow better...

We were wrong.

The snow was soooo sticky and there were many bare spots. We had to stop and scrape the snow off of our skis, so that we could try to get some glide.

John and I joked that we would have been better off if we had just done a snowy trail run instead, but you can't blame us for trying.

Also, it was so damn beautiful outside, I would have been happy no matter what we did.

We finally gave up and headed to Big Grove for lunch. We got there just as the Hawkeye game was ending and everyone was singing "In Heaven There is now beer..." Then they all took off and John and I had our choice of seats and excellent service.

So, while others were cursing the snow, I was having a blast playing in it.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Another Working Day Has Ended. Only the Rush Hour Hell to Face

A piece I did when I was messing around with spray paint last month.

 Soooo, originally, John and I signed up and planned to race in Wisconsin and then Illinois this weekend. Thennnnnnnn, we found out there was supposed to be a big snow storm heading our way Friday night and Saturday morning. We decided to change our plans, because, while our race might be fun, it probably wasn't worth dying for. Instead, we'll stick around town and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, go cross country skiing tomorrow. If that doesn't work out, I'd be just as happy to ride my mountain bike around on the snow. The awesome thing about my life, is that there are so many different ways for me to play.

I'm also excited to have a little more time around the house this weekend. I am reading HG Wells' "The Time Machine" and I'd love to finish it. Plus, there are cats to attend to, large, orange, unseemly cats...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

You May Tell Yourself, This is Not My Beautiful House

My soon to be new home. I stole this off the realty site. I'll be sure to post the "after" shots as I get things fixed-up.

Soooo, today is the 6th anniversary of me closing on my very first house. John now is a co-owner and pays half the mortgage, so it's a lot more doable than when I was paying for it all myself and my girls were still high school. Anyway, here is the post I wrote back in November of 2009, when I found out my loan went through:

Guess what, kids? I got a call from the realtor this morning telling me that the loan went through and I got the house. Now I can get excited for real. YYYYEEEEAAAA! I'm so happy. I have a ton of work to do before November 19th, which is my closing date. Mainly, I have to sublet my apartment. I have no idea how tough that will be in the middle of the academic year in a college town, but I plan to be very diligent about that too. I already found someone on Facebook who wants to look at it. Keep your fingers crossed.

Here is part of the living room. I'm planning on painting it a camel color. I'd love to get the floors done, but that will have to wait until I somehow magically get more money.

I'm also spending as many hours as possible cleaning, packing and getting rid of crap. I have a very high-tech system of piles: one for garbage, one for Goodwill and one for saving and packing. I'm in that bad place right now where a lot of things are ripped apart, and not many things are organized and packed. I hope to be in a much better place with it by the weekend.

Here is my soon to be kitchen. I'm going to replace the ugly faux wood counters with black lamanite and sand and paint the cupboards white. I think i'll go with a periwinkle for the wall paint.

I'm at that happy, newly homeownered stage, but quickly moving into the "holy shit, yo! I have so much crap to do, I can't even think about it" stage. Like I always say, I'm a slow and steady girl. I just have to keep trudging along and somehow it will all get done, right?

This the dormer or teen room that Stinky has had her eye on since I started looking at houses.

This was the first house I liked when I looked on-line and the first house I physically looked at when I went out with the realtors. I guess it was meant to be. It has two bedrooms downstairs in addition to the huge dormer room upstairs. (which I will turn into my painting studio once Stinky finally goes off to college) It only has one bathroom, and no basement, but it does have a crawl space. I really just need to know there is someplace safe to hide if there's a tornado. We'll have a big laundry room and an attached garage. I've never had a garage before. There's also a small screened-in porch in the backyard that I'm already calling my drankin' porch. Oh, and of course, there are a couple of garden plots. It's almost everything I asked for and only three blocks off of my running route. So, once again, YYYYYEEEEEAAAA!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I Gotta Do Things My Own Way. Yeah...My Own Way.

Lord knows I am crazy in love with John. He is weird enough, whip smart, funny as hell, a screaming pain in the ass (which, in my world, is a good thing). He challenges me in every way possible, but most importantly, I can deal with his shit and so far, he can deal with mine. As far as I'm concerned, being able to put up with someone else's shit is one of the biggest parts of staying together. What can I say? I'm a romantic that way.

Soooo, John and I also differ on many things. Usually we mesh pretty well. John is much more fastidious about things and I am kind of....Uh, messy and half-assed about a lot of things. For instance, he will point out two buildings, obviously built similarly and right next to each other, but one is of different dimensions and they are asymmetrical. He will comment that it drives him crazy and I will reply, "Oh, there are two buildings right there? I didn't even notice them..." I will just go ahead and assume that my reply drives him even more nuts. Sorry.

I think John would like it if I let him coach me. He is amazing at researching all different angles of training and racing and the best way to train as an older athlete and athletes that don't have tons of time and he watches videos for skills training...And all kinds of great things to know. Of course, I just fly by the seat of my pants and if I try to do crap that I haven't studied or practiced at all, then sometimes I am quite literally flying by the seat of my chamois. The only thing is, that John can get a little TOO invested in my results and my training and I want to do too many other things in my life in addition to bike racing, so my focus is more than a little too wide. Like John always says, the less things you try to do, the better you will be at one thing, and it matters less to me to be really good at one thing. Also, I am not always comfortable doing things in a prescribed way...Even if doing those things my way isn't the best or fastest. Basically, I just want to be able to live with John as long as possible, and I'm not sure how long that would end up being if I let him coach me and I drove him bonkers by doing things in my own special Lucille Ball way.

I did give him the go ahead to write me up a work-out on my trainer for racing CX. I appreciate his knowledge, even if it can be painful sometimes. If you check it out in the photo above, you can see that he isn't one much for going easy on a person...

The view from my trainer.

I have had the "pleasure" of doing this work-out twice now. I didn't even have to wait until 48 minutes to puke, the first time I did it. I came close long before that. I made it to the last part of doing half of the tabatas, before I had to get off my bike and lie down on top of my fleece jacket on the floor. The second time, I made it through three minutes of the tabatas, before I had to stop and soft pedal long enough for my legs to stop shaking. Here's to hoping that before these work-outs kill me, they help me get stronger and faster for my races....

Monday, November 16, 2015

Well, It's Been Such a Long Time Since My Better Days

The hotel bar at Indian Lakes. How funky is that?

So, this weekend we went to Chicago to race for the first time in a couple of weeks. I've been having lower level migraines all week and last year when I raced in Chicago after having a bad migraine for a couple of days beforehand and I was so weak that not only was I last, but I was pretty much lapped by the entire field. Ouch! That smarts!

I certainly wasn't feeling even close to 100%, so I was worried that I'd have an encore performance of last year's Chicago Cup race.

My friend, Sarah and her boyfriend were coming to watch us race and I warned her that I might come in last. I was ranked 2nd to last, but you never know if the woman ranked last really only had lower points because she didn't race as much. My friend Sarah responed, "Last Schmast!" And that's why I love her.

I lined up after they called my name with the women in the back of the 32 racers and one of them asked me if I had done a lot of cup races. I told her I was from Iowa. Most people who come from out of town are generally pretty fast, but I assured her I wasn't much of a threat. She said she had just had a baby 4 months ago and she was getting back into racing. She was co-owner of a really cool for women/by women bike shop in the Chicago area, and I have so much respect for women who try to support other women riders that way. I also feel a hormone kinship with women who were recently pregnant. The kind of hormone they go through in a year, are close to what a I go through about 3-5 times a day...

The race started and the woman directly in front of me pretty much just stopped right as she started, which got me even further behind than just my starting position. I get going again and tried to catch up. Almost instantly, another women fell way back. She must not have been feeling well or something, so then it was myself and the bike shop owner, with everyone else getting a gap ahead of us. We did some back and forth and at one point, she passed me just as we were heading into a strong head wind and I didn't fight her for position. Instead, I waited for her to get ahead of me and drafter her for everything I was worth. I passed her back on a corner and figured she'd return the favor, but the next time I looked back, she had dropped off and I was getting a gap. I was in a good position (for me). I was too far back to catch the woman ahead of me and the two behind me probably weren't going to catch me, so I could just ride the course and not do anything stupid, but work on my skills and mostly, have fun. It was such a great course and the people there were all so nice and so great at cheering for me, even though they didn't know me and I was soooooo far back in the field. I finished 3rd from last, which was one place higher than I was predicted. So, in other words, I exceeded expectations! I suppose it's all about how you look at a thing...

Of course, the racing is great and fun, but like I always say, it's only a part of it for me. I love the whole experience of it. I like to go to a place, check out what it has, meet other racers, have friends who live nearby to hang out with and eat and drink and play. Hell, I only race for 45 minutes and I was there for the weekend.

It was great to see Sarah and her boyfriend and her dogs and then we got to meet her friend who is married to the guy in the band the Mekons* and their son races CX and so who says, bike racing isn't for cool people?

After our races on Saturday, John and I hung out in the hot tub and met some other racers who were hanging out at the pool with their kids. I have to say, the people we met in Chicago this weekend were so damn friendly and nice.

We headed out for Mexican food Saturday night. Everything in the town was a strip mall, but this particular restaurant at least had some character. The food was really good and the margaritas wree margaritas. It's pretty hard to go wrong with margaritas.

On Sunday morning, my migraine was so bad that I had to take meds and go back to bed. John got up to preride the course and woke me up again about an hour before his race. I was dizzy and weak, but most of the worst pain was gone.

John bunny hopping barriers uphill like a pro.

John had a really strong race. He got stuck behind some clusters at the beginning of the race, but started picking people off, right and left. After the race, he said he finally felt like himself again after having that bad cold crud forever. I was so happy for him.

Since I couldn't race, we decided to play a little putt-putt golf before we watched our hometown girl, Alijah, race in the afternoon. I figured, if I couldn't race. I might as well do something non strenuous and super dorky.

We watched the race, Alijah looked solidly in 2nd place and we decided to take off after they started their last lap, so we could get something to eat and head back to Iowa.

Even with the migraine, it was a glorious weekend.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

And It Makes Me Feel so Fine, I Can't Control My Brain

Since I went all crazy and worked my butt off on Saturday, I woke up with a light migraine and I was still pretty tired on Sunday.

I decided to slow things down a bit. John went to help work on the Jingle Cross course and so he got to be social and helpful and I got to stay home and be nerdy and not be social. A win/win for both of us.

This new bridge reminded me of the McDonalds arches.

I read a few pages of my book and then went out to do a trail run in Hickory Hill Park. I hadn't done any trail running in about 2 months and I missed it.

Since I need to build up my strength, I thought it would be a good idea to work on hills. After running up a few of those, I realized I need a LOT more practice on them. I was lucky enough to see another deer while I was running. This time it was a huge buck who was running across the trail, stopped when he saw me and struck a pose. What a ham...Or venison.

After I got home from running and John got back from working on the cyclocross course, I made some hummus for sandwiches and we took off for the Sugarbottom MTB trails.

We hadn't ridden them in a  long time and it was so fun, but I was VERY rusty. John also wanted to check out the campground area there to map out the best cyclocross course, so we got to ride around some really beautiful areas.

I worked on trying to ride sand again...Yeah. I'll keep working on it.

I think we hit every possible terrain there is in Iowa.

After we finished riding, we stopped at Big Grove for some craft beer and good food. Having such fun adventure filled weekends make it sooooooo hard to go back to work on Mondays.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Throw Away the Work to be Done

Holy cow, it is great to have a weekend when I don't feel like shit. It;s been since September. I forgot what it was like to actually have energy.

When I got home from work on Friday, I saw the mark of death on my tree. It was the one where the gigantic limb fell about a centimeter away from my car. I love that tree. It's beautiful and symmetrical with the other tree, but I understand how dangerous it will be if it falls over onto our house or onto cars or people walking by our house. So, in the next week or two, the city will come by and cut down our tree, then grub out the stump and plant another tree in its place. RIP, beautiful tree.

On Saturday I decided to see how much I could get done. I've been delinquent on basically everything these days, and I felt like I needed to get going. Sooooo, I woke up at 7, read my book for an hour and a half, finished it, got out my next book, ran my 6 mile route...

Came home, had a GENIUS idea to mow the leaves in the front and the back of my yard instead of raking them. Half the work half the time and about half the leaves in our yard were taken care of. I still have some from the side yard and the back where the rock landscaping is that I can't mow, but man, it was nice to take care of all of that. I also worked in my garden, getting it ready for a long Winters nap. I cleaned the hell out of my living room, with some "help" from Archie. John and I switched out the screens for storm windows, John washed all the windows and cleaned the gutters, while I mowed the leaves away.

I took a break from house and yard work to go on a little cyclocross ride around town. I usually ride around in parks and try cornering around trees, and working on starts. I went to the ACT compound and rode around there. I've never seen a no trespassing or no bike riding sign, so I think it's okay...They mow out these cool trails for their employees, but they're pretty steep ups and downs and there are plenty of potholes and leaves covering roots, so it's great for cyclocross practice.

It was getting dark, so I headed home. I went out a different parking lot and passed this guy. He didn't seem all that friendly, so I moseyed along.

After I got home and took a long, hot, bath, I made a funky dinner of BBQ shrimp scampi over brown rice and zucchini tots. As you all know, food makes me very happy. We finished the evening by watching the original movie version of  "The Day the Earth Stood Still". I was wonderfully exhausted.