Sunday, May 22, 2011

Phenomenal Weekend!

After eons of rain, stress from exams, severe allergies/respiratory infection, I was finally able to get outside and love Colorado this weekend. I forget how much I need to be outside!

This season's training is off to a slow start. I am feeling recovered from the overtraining, but I am ramping back up very carefully. The end of the semester was two weeks of massive stress, so I focused on being very gentle with myself. I had very little time, so I focused on easy bike rides and swims paying very close attention to how I feel and only working as hard as I want.

Through this recovery process, I have learned to really celebrate what I have accomplished and enjoy my sports for just being sports that bring me pleasure. I don't need to be faster or stronger than anyone... this week, I bought a "new" bike. It is a 1979 Schwinn Suburban cruiser for commuting to school. I LOVE IT... not because it is fancy, but because it reminds me that riding bikes is fun. I can just take it easy and revel in the pleasure of the journey...

Mindy and Danielle starting up the trail
So, this weekend was focused on just that idea, with some pretty cool accomplishments thrown in. Saturday, I felt like I should run, but I have a terrible cough that was pretty unbearable after my run on Tuesday. I decided to substitute a hike, and, fortunately, my friend, Danielle, was available to accompany me. We chose to do the round trip on Gray Rock in the Poudre Canyon. I had hiked most of the route once before, but we ran out of time and were not able to summit. Yesterday, I finally got to scale the big rock and was rewarded with beautiful vernal pools and a rainbow that appeared below us. This hike allowed me to let go of the stress of the semester and really get recentered. What a gift!

Photo taken at 25 mph
Today was quite an adventure. Along with my friend Dave, I participated in the metric century ride (61 miles) of the Ram Cycling Classic, a fundraiser for the Global Social and Sustainable Entrepreneurship program of CSU's business school. We were treated to a windy, but warm and sunny outing, which was Dave's longest self-propelled journey to date. I love being with folks who are reaching new goals!

Dave was a rockstar... he crushed the ride on a steel 10-speed. His setup proves that tech is no match for.... toughness, strength, idiocy? I dunno, but it was pretty impressive to see him motor past folks on $5,000 road bikes! I had a blast for most of the ride (except for scary wind gusts from the side) and enjoyed taking pictures and hitting over 40 mph for the first time.
Dave riding motoring along the flats

The ride was followed by a couple of New Belgium beers, great pasta and live bluegrass from a band I really like. The afternoon wrapped up with a quick trip to the hot tub and a stop at the cookie store.
My bike with cows... one stinky aid station

View from the Gray Rock trail

Vernal pool at the TOP of Gray Rock

Rainbow below us on the way down from Gray Rock

The Gray Rock

The meadow on the Meadows trail to Gray Rock

Minutes earlier, I was on top of that rock behind me

Biking and hiking. Beer and bluegrass. Cookies and friends... I couldn't ask for a better time!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Athlete Allegory

... or "Oh, Yeah. Now I Remember Why I Do This."

I should have posted a Horsetooth Half race report, but I have not gotten around to downloading my pictures, so that is going to have to wait. I just had a mountain bike induced revelation that I thought I would share.

Don't know how many of you know this about me, but I am no stranger to anxiety. Mostly I manage it by running, biking, swimming or doing feats of insanity that prevent my brain from getting carried away. It works pretty well most of the time.

I went for a short mountain bike ride today after having worked on papers and presentations since yesterday afternoon. I decided on the Pineridge Trails (right near my house) because time was short and, since I was alone, I wanted to be within hobbling distance of my house. I am not highly coordinated on the bike.

I am just getting back into mountain biking after not going out much at all last year. I need to build confidence and strength, so I went out with the intent of just making it around the loop and being alive at the end. I didn't need to go fast, and I would not beat myself up for putting a foot down here and there.

I had run the trails enough that I knew where the tougher spots would be. Let me say that I am aware that none of Pineridge is exactly hard, but I am super chicken when it comes to the mountain bike. Don't judge.

I started down the mellow part of the loop. I was amused by the heron I startled 3 times before he let me pass about 20 feet away from him. And I saw a flock of pelicans. As I started up the far end of the loop, leaving the really easy part... the part that I knew that I could handle... my anxiety started to grow.

I got a bit shaky in spots. I freaked myself out on stuff that I probably could have handled. I kept thinking about the upcoming steep part. I knew that there were big rocks and a pretty steep drop off the side of the narrow trail. The more I thought about it, the worse I handled what was right in front of me. At one point, I pulled over to allow a paceline of young men by. I took the opportunity to remind myself, in the words of a new friend, "You are okay where you are." And then I carried on a little calmer and with, literally, a lot more balance.

I began to enjoy the ups and downs, twists and turns, and before I knew it, I was through the section that I had feared. I even chose to take a more technical route to the end of the loop.

It occurred to me that I needed to take a lesson from this ride. There is something in my personal life that is going to come to a sad end. It is out of my control, but I have time before that happens. Rather than being nervous about how badly it will hurt when that happens, I should choose to enjoy the ride I am having right now. If I do that, I will probably handle the bumps along the way better, and I know that I will spend more time enjoying and less time fearing.