Monday, May 21, 2012

Allergic to Myself?

This is Sam, ready to race for 155 miles at Almanzo on Saturday. She had her new Barking Bear Bagworks framebag. She had brand new tires (because I was so busy riding that I didn't notice I'd worn her tires bald until the Sunday before). She was tuned up and ready to go.

Unfortunately Sam cannot ride on her own.

I'm not big on excuses. If I choose to race, it's my responsibility to get to the start line healthy and prepared. I usually do well with the prepared part.  I don't always do well with the healthy part. I need to work on that. The fact of the matter is, I don't always see the big picture all that well.  I have so many things I want to do and I actually have the TIME to do them most days. That's a luxury most people don't have. I'm aware of this so I just keep taking advantage of that time to do more and more.

Unfortunately having the time to do everything doesn't always work out as well as I think it will because my body can't always keep up with my ambition. In short, I think my body is allergic to my spirit. Or something like that.

Now, if only Benadryl could fix that problem, I'd be able to fit all the fun stuff in.  Until then, I'll just have to learn to rest more so I can come back and actually start this race next year!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mother's Day

If I were to add up the hours of my mom's life that I got to spend with her, I'd most likely discover the majority of them were spent walking. Maybe these are just the hours I remember the most because I had her all to myself then.

I'm not sure when these walks began. Most likely I joined her when I was still in her belly. I'm sure she pushed me in a stroller through many miles I don't even remember. When I was older and started running, we would often walk awhile together before I'd venture off on my own, seeing if I could get my run in and still catch her for the end of her walk. When I went off to college, we'd often be off on a walk within hours of my arrival home for visits.

I never thought much about it then, but I think we both saved up certain secrets for those walks. All those things we stored in ourselves that we thought no one else would understand- we shared them then. Sometimes I'd convince her to walk just a little more, and then just a little more, because I wanted more time. Although it was always unspoken, it was as if we each agreed that these times were free of judgment. That's not to say we didn't give each other our opinions. In fact, looking back, I realize that she had mastered the art of giving her opinion without judgment. I can only hope some of this wore off on me.

On our last walk together, she shared some of her fears. Death was not included. I'm not sure if this was because she wasn't afraid of it or because she had no way of knowing it would happen so soon. Mostly likely, it was a little of both.

A few weeks later, she was gone.

I hadn't realized until she was gone how much of my life I spend filtering what I say to avoid judgment. I took for granted the luxury of having time and space to say whatever I wanted, however I wanted to say it, even if it was just for an hour. Without it, I often feel trapped in my head, as if my voice got stuck somewhere between my brain and my mouth.

It's no coincidence then, that I've spent so much time running and riding by myself since she died. Although these times are silent, they are still my escape from the filter. They're my time to dream freely even if now I don't get to speak these dreams out loud. I'm pretty sure Mom hears them anyway. She was always one to walk along my road with me, even when I chose the bumpy, uphill route.....

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Finally some pig....

This weekend's adventure: The Sandwich 50. Forty-seven-ish miles of singletrack.

Why, you ask, would I subject myself to this when the most I've ever raced on singletrack was the few miles of singletrack in Iceman?

The answer: Bacon

I heard there were bacon hand-ups every lap. This proves what many of you knew about me, which is that I will do pretty much anything for bacon. Big E says he's never eaten as much bacon as he has since he met me. I'm not sure why this surprises him since 1) I was wearing my PJ's when he arrived for our first date and the top said, "Bacon is meat candy." and 2) I gave him bacon for Valentine's Day....and then ate most of it.

Now back to these bacon hand ups. According to the legend, about halfway through each lap, you have to ride across some tree and a skinny board and they give you bacon if you do it.

Now anyone who has ridden with me knows that, although I'd do just about anything for bacon, I'm not real fond of riding across anything "skinny." In case you were wondering why, let me share this picture with you:

Now, I'm not sure what exactly is happening in this picture, but I'm pretty sure these two were trying to earn some bacon and it didn't go so well. (I hope they gave them bacon anyway.)

So, chicken that I am, I figured I needed to try some other tactic to get myself some bacon. Turns out, you can just smile real pretty and they'll give you some too.
All those crazy boys think they had to do tricks for bacon when all they really had to do was this....and I didn't even have to take mine from a stick. That's right- hot off the grill right into my hand. (Of course, after watching me descend the hill before the bacon with only one foot clipped in to avoid crashing, I'm pretty sure they were just hoping they could get me a piece of bacon and get me out of there before I ran them over with my bike.)

Unfortunately, they ran out of bacon after lap four, but I did all seven laps anyway. I did not, however, stay as clean as the above picture. With about 30 minutes left in my last lap, I heard thunder. Not just any thunder, but that kind of thunder that says, "Hurry your ass up and finish what you're doing because in a few minutes the sky's gonna open." So I hurried my ass up and ten minutes later I was riding in the rain anyway. It was tempting at one point to just cut down the road we crossed and head for the car, but I figured since they gave me all that bacon just for smiling I'd better at least finish. Plus, I was the shortest person left out there and lightning strikes the highest point, right?

So my first singletrack race is in the books and I finally got my pig. I kinda felt like one in all that mud too.....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cow Tipping

Let me guess. You just had to read this post to see if I was blonde enough to actually try to tip a cow.

Thankfully, the answer is no.

However, the answer is no mostly because I'm afraid of getting too close to any animal larger than myself so it's not so much that I'm too smart to try to tip a cow, I'm just too scared to try to tip a cow.

Which leads us to the question of why I'm writing about cow tipping anyway.

Oddly, all this cow business had to do with another gravel race. This time, I ventured on my own to a race in Wisconsin. I kind of wondered when it said we were starting at "Noah's Place" if that was some sort of seedy bar or if it actually really was some guy's house. Turns out, the start was, in fact, at Noah's house.  Noah also lived in the country so his neighbors had lots of cows.

Yes, I was disappointed that they weren't pigs. Although maybe they had pigs too, but I figured it wasn't the best idea in the world to just wander onto someone's property in search of a pig. Or to tip a cow for that matter. 

Anyway, when I told Big E about the day later, I was excited about the cows at the start. I mean, come on, how often are there cows that close to the start of a race? Somehow, this lead into a conversation about cow tipping, during which I informed him that I know you can't tip a cow because my mom told me so. Not that I couldn't figure out on my own that you can't tip an animal with four legs, but it always helps to be able to throw the, "my mom told me so," card on the table when someone's trying to pull my leg. Of course, I'm pretty sure my mother knew this because she might have tried once......on the same night that she was talked into going snipe hunting. But that's a whole other story....

So, my race recap goes like this: 58 miles of gravel, ATV roads and trails.  I didn't hit any cows. I still didn't see any pigs. I didn't get chased by any dogs. I did, however, hallucinate a bear at mile 52. Turned out it was just a tipped over tree.  And no, no one tipped any cows. At least not while I was around....