Words to live by...

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~Author Unknown

"A good wife is her husband's biggest fan -- no matter how crazy he is." ~Me

"May God give you.. For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." ~ Irish Blessing

Friday, June 29, 2007

Wedding day!

Congratulations to Shaina and Andy who are getting married tonight! Shaina and I met in college during an education class. In education classes, you get a lot of, well, over-confident people that participate A LOT. Shaina, Karen, and I quickly bonded over sitting quietly in the back row -- we learned but didn't feel the need to share our every thought with the class. Pretty soon we became good friends and have made our fair share of trouble ever since. This picture was taken on that fateful trip to Moab where Andy rode White Rim with Chris, ended up getting serious hypothermia, the two didn't arrive back to the hotel when we expected, Moab police was called to go search for them -- it was crazy. I am so excited for the wedding -- it should be BEAUTIFUL! Congratulations!

Chris did a nice write-up with pictures of our latest rides. Wednesday was a 23 mile mountain bike day and I felt awesome. I was a little tired by the end of the night, but I hung with the group and didn't get dropped like a rock like usual. Yay! I haven't ridden since, but hope to get out tomorrow morning -- that is, unless I drink too much wine tonight...

Ooh! Also got the kitchen ALMOST ready. I hope to get the crown molding up tomorrow or early next week and the touch-ups done, then there will be pictures. It looks great!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

For worse or for better

This weekend we (me, Chris, Scott, Melissa, Bill, Mike, Jeanie, John, and Jason) went up to Winter Park to pre-ride the next race course.

It's a longer race than the last one, so I wanted to preride to make sure I could do it without coming home hating the sport.

Good thing I did because the smile in this pictures is VERY forced! (what's the deal with my tippy helmet? Do I have an uneven head or something? I even messed with the straps before this ride to fix this problem of looking retarded in pictures, hmmm)

I'm still officially undecided about the race, but I'm leaning more towards no. It was a long ride (even if we did go off-route a little, and stop a lot). The course was fun, but not so fun that I'm dying to do it again. There was a lot of climbing on dirt roads, with some fun rocky dowhills, some hike-a-bike-up-long-hills, a wild river crossing, more climbing, and a little more downhill. Eh. Parts were fun, parts were crappy, hence the still officially undecided stance. Melissa (pictured here) is signed up for the series so she doesn't have much of a choice -- she's going to do really well though. She was strong on the climbs and pulling away on the descents.

It was my longest mountain bike ride to date I think. My bike computer had 18.5 miles from the car and back again. My computer has a slightly longer mileage than the other people in the group, but I'm chalking that up to all of my weaving as I got tired. As mentioned in my previous post -- my endurance level hovers around a pathetic 7 or 8 miles. So, needless to say, it was a long ride for me. It took the group around 3 hours or so with stopping and chatting and huffing through the river.

We even climbed our bikes up to where there's still snow!

Overall it was a fun ride. Beautiful scenary. Great company. Delicious spinach/artichoke dip at BeauJos afterwards. Only one crying incident when I thought were were almost back to the car when the route took us up onto another trail where we had to huff our bikes over some downed trees. Mentally I was done. All was good though. We'll see what happens from here.

Anyone else see the inadvertant smiley face on the dirt on my leg after the ride?

P.S: Pictures of new kitchen remodel and new baby blanket knitting to come!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

'Tis the life...

Ok, so it's nice to be retired. At least for the summer. I realized that this is the first summer that I haven't worked since (probably) 1998ish? Some days I get stuff done, some days I do nothing except eat, sleep, nap, and watch TV. Lately, however, I've earned my delicious food and naps.

I have ridden my bike.

A lot.

Ok, a lot for me.

Here's what the past weekish has looked like riding wise:

*last wednesday -- dog park upper and lower loop at lunch with Chris, Bear Creek with the gang in the evening (18 or 19 decently hard miles total?)

*last thursday -- no riding

*last friday -- evening dark ride from home to dog park, dog park loop, and home (8 easy miles?)

*Saturday -- Winter Park race (9 HARD miles)

*Sunday -- no riding

*Monday -- Two laps of Betasso with Chris (8 or 9 hardish miles?)

*Tuesday -- Three miles in the morning with the pup (super easy but in single speed gear)

*Wednesday -- Ride with the gang at Apex (6 or 7 HARD miles -- ok, so probaby 3 of those were hiking in my bike shoes carrying a 30 pound bike, that counts, right?)

*Today (Thursday) -- just got back from a solo ride to dog park, upper loop, and back (7 medium miles)

So think I've earned my naps. The plan is now to get up and ride in the morning at least 3 days a week. Originally I thought about increasing the frequency of rides, but now I'm thinking of increasing length instead. I need to build some sort of endurance and speed. We'll see how that goes. And, truthfully, if it doesn't sound fun or I have something better to do, I won't do it (although Chris has promised me a special date if I can keep it up for a month). I'm still looking to have fun. But I'm tired of being the slowest person every Wednesday. It can be annoying to be constantly left in the group's dust. Sooooo, I'm going to work on stopping that.

Tomorrow mom and dad are coming over and we are going to revamp our super ugly kitchen. We'll be painting the remaining faux-finish-skin-color-yuck left over from the previous owners as well as re-sanding, re-painting, and re-hardwaring the old yucky cabinets. It will be enough to get us through until we come in to a lot of money and get to do what we want with the kitchen. Anyone want to send us a nice $10,000 check so we can make the kitchen the way we want it? We'll thank you by making you a delicious dinner in it when it's finished :)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Learning to fly

"Flight is a seemingly magical thing to creatures rooted to the Earth, and dreams of cutting loose our bonds and taking to the skies permeate every aspect of human mythology. Thus there has been no lack of curiosity, from the classical age to the Renaissance and through to the present as to how birds have managed to do what we can only crudely imitate." Slightly interesting article about birds

Yeah, I'm still learning. I'm still 'crudely imitating' that which I have watched Chris do a million times over the past 6 1/2 years. This weekend I officially, successfully, and happily completed my first cross-country bike race. It had its flaws and because of them I didn't place well, but I had a blast. I giggled 80% of the race. I 'took to the skies' and conquered something that scared me sh!tless. I was a nervous wreck.

Saturday morning we left early for Winter Park. When we got there we cruised down, used the bathroom, and got our number plates. After heading back up to the car I decided to lay in the back of the E, turn on my music, and try not to focus on my heart pounding in my stomach. Chris's race started at 10:00. I hauled my stuff to get ready and a big camping chair up the hill to see him go. At the top I met Stephan's wife, Sheryl. We hung out, watched the boys go, and she graciously carried the big chair down as I headed back to the car to put in my contacts. After a while we got settled down on the course as we handed bottles to our husbands and some of their friends/teammates. It was a lot of fun sitting and watching all of the people go by... I actually miss just being a spectator at these short events.

Chris did awesome. He didn't crash (YAY!) and he placed pretty well considering it was another random event that he didn't train for. I'm very proud of him! He immediately started rattling off turns to look for and what to do in certain parts of the course -- I caught some of it but was also so nervous that most if it ran out my ears as soon as it went in.

Eventually the beginner women went off (about 25 minutes late) and I got to stage in the front behind Sheryl. I was happy to not get stuck at the back of the decently big group.

We started the race down a hill and on a relatively flat/slight rolling road next to the train tracks. The start was fast and I stuck with the top 3 or 4 girls. I knew that if I was going to place, I needed to stick up here when the single track started. All was well until I tried to think ahead and shift down from my middle ring in the front to the small ring in anticipation of the upcoming sharp turn onto the single track. That's when my chain fell down and I had to get off to fix it. It took just long enough to get off and fix it when the herd came plowing through and I had to let them pass before hopping back onto the trail. I thought for a second that I might be able to crank my way past them back to my original position when it happened again. DOH!

I got off to fix it again and this time the slow back group came past me and I knew the whole racing concept was done. Rookie mistake #1. Turns out I finished only about 5 minutes behind 3rd place, if I would've been a little more proactive and pushed my way ahead of this slower group, I easily could've been in the top 3 in my group. Had my chain not fallen off, it would've been interesting to hang with the leaders. Oh well.

Instead, when my chain fell off the second time, I decided to give up the goat on racing and decided to just have fun. I didn't kill myself up the uphill, I stuck on a girl's wheel and let her lead the way up. I could've passed her but instead of killing myself, I decided to stick with her and try to encourage her. Pretty soon I got to see Chris cheering me on as he pedalled his butt up the hill to come meet me on the road crossings. That was nice!
This was the girl whose wheel I stuck on for the first uphill.

This is me about to pass her like she's standing still. According to the results, she must've passed me back at some point but I don't remember that... oh well.

Once we hit the upper part of the uphill, I passed her and then got stuck behind two girls that fell off every time there was any sort of obstacle on the uphill. I should've passed them immediately but they were nice and I wanted to make sure they didn't die by the time they reached the downhill. Also, right about then a nice rain/lightning storm moved in and I was happy to have other people around. I knew if I passed them it would be a solo effort for a while before reaching the next group. It poured pretty hard, which felt great, but it was also lightning that would flash and immediately BOOM! I crouched down and tried to be lower than the other girls :)

Eventually I passed these girls at the beginning of the descent and I had the trail pretty much to myself the rest of the ride. There was one guy and one little boy that I saw on the downhill, but other than that I got to ride it alone. It was fun to go my own pace -- I went fast enough to scare myself and didn't walk any of it. I bet I made up a ton of time on the rest of the field on this part. I still thought I was 10+ behind anyone. The descent was fun -- I wasn't a fan of the lower part, but the rest of it was a blast. Finally I popped out at the finish and got to see everyone waiting there for me. What a fun ride! Congratulations to everyone that rode! Melissa -- you did AWESOME! I wish I could've ridden with you more than just seeing you blow by as I fixed the chain. I can't wait for this race next year!

Which picture was from the finish of the blasted hill climb last week and the WAY MORE FUN xc race this weekend? HMMM? Even if you can't zoom in for facial expression, bike position says a lot about my mood...

P.S: Thanks to the Feedback Team for letting me wear their jersey for this race! I think it gave me the extra confidence needed to have fun this week!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

There she goes again...

I've signed up for the Winter Park race this weekend.

I guess I can no longer claim that I lack that short-term memory problem that Chris suffers from.

I'm nervous.

I'm not sure what I'm doing.

It's only 8ish or 9ish miles and 900ish feet of climbing. I can do this right?

It's just a ride. I've ridden down hills before, no reason to be nervous.

Any other words of encouragement, wisdom, or strategery?


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Then and Now



Recently we went on a group ride up to Red Rocks. When we hit the top, I remembered that Chris and I had our picture taken at a certain spot last year, so we tried our best to duplicate it this year. So it doesn't really look the same, but at least it's roughly the same spot roughly a year apart. My favorite connection to this picture is my friend Shaina's comment of "Did a helicopter drop you off up there?"

Tonight is another group ride, this time Lair 'O The Bear. Last time I rode this trail I thought I was going to puke the whole time. Let's hope that doesn't happen again. I'm still a little worried about my back from this weekend, so I'm going to go ride the good old Dog Park with Chris during his lunch break to test it out. Two rides in one day? That means some good eats tonight! (which is secretly the reason we all ride our bikes anyway, right?)

p.s -- Lunch ride went great -- although I still feel like I'm dragging a boulder along behind my bike, my back felt good and I'm excited for the ride tonight. Feels good to ride with the hubby.

p.p.s -- look at the pictures above, can you believe how much greener it is this year than last year? The '07 picture may be a few weeks earlier in the summer than the last picture, but it's a crazy contrast.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My own worst critic...

This weekend I did the Winter Park Hill Climb. Again. I survived it but I'm very unhappy with my performance. Last year my goal was to make it up the mountain and survive. I was happy with just doing that.

Last year I was happy with the ride until I saw that I got last in my class and then I was a little disappointed.

This year I had a more tangible goal of making it up the mountain in under an hour. However, this year I was disappointed the second I crossed the finish line.

Last year I looked forward to this race. I *trained* for it, I knew I was going to compete as soon as the schedule came out. I was psyched.

This year I focused on the time trial series. I only committed to doing the hill climb the night before, and then almost backed out that morning. I can't say I was really excited to do it. I remembered how much it hurt last year and I remember how embarassing it was to get last in my group.

But then the thoughts creeped in -- I am in MUCH better shape this year. I've been riding more, I've been training more, and I actually have a bike that fits me. At the very worst, I can't be slower than last year, so I might as well do it. If I could get up the hill in under an hour, I knew I could podium. That would be a hell of a way to redeem myself from last year. Might as well give it a shot.

Who knew I could be so wrong?

It was fun racing with Michelle and Melissa. It's always nice to know girls at the starting line. As we pushed up the first section, Michelle, Melissa, and I started together. Michelle took a line up to the right and I ended up getting stuck behind two girls. I made the fateful decision to let Michelle go rather than take a long line around the two other girls to get back on her wheel. I figured I'd catch up in a little while, no reason to kill myself in the beginning to stick with her. Michelle has been road biking for a long time and is no stranger to long climbs... she has just started mountain biking and is doing AWESOME but this climb more resembles a road climb than a typical mountain bike climb. I knew she'd kill it and I wanted to stay with her and try to keep her pace. I made my own pace up the hill and quickly realized that this is actually just as bad as last year. I didn't feel fast, it didn't feel easy, and my back started to hurt so badly that after the first mile I was ready to turn around, find Melissa, and send a message up to Chris at the top that I was sorry to let him down but I'd be laying flat in the back of the car until they were finished.

But I couldn't quit. Good thing? Bad thing? I don't know. Depends on my mood. I think in the end it's good that I didn't quit, but then again, if I wasn't going to give it a fighting effort to get in the top three, what was the point in even doing it? Why punish myself just to be really disappointed? I've already proved to myself that I can simply survive it, this year I needed to RACE it. I didn't do that. I slogged up the mountain, tried to not focus on how bad my back was hurting, and tried to stay ahead of Melissa. At one switchback I looked back and she was nowhere to be seen so that gave me a little boost that quickly burned me back out and my pace dropped even slower.

In a sad attempt to make my back feel better, I attempted the good old aerobar position from the time trials. That would work for about five seconds until another short incline would come and I'd be back in the painful upright position.

There were a few spots where I wanted nothing more than to get off and walk. I'd pass person after person walking up the steep parts but I kept on my bike so as not to give away precious seconds. My goal now changed from being on the podium to not being last. After one of these hills I heard Melissa come up behind me and that was the last nail in the coffin. I gave up mentally and physically because she was the only rider left behind me that I knew for sure was in my age group. Around this same time my new posse came rolling down the hill to give some encouragement.

Chris's new team had been cheering me on all along as they were heading down the mountain after their own finishes. At some point Jim B came down, turned around, and started riding next to me. We were joined by two other teammates/friends and I had Feedback boys on each side of me and behind me. It was so nice to have some encouragement and coaching up that last section and I definetely needed their company. I am positive that if they weren't there and I was left to my own motivation, I would've taken another 10+ minutes to get up that last part and I would've ended up last. Instead, they pushed me to pass a few girls, tried to get me to chase down Melissa as she passed (if she wasn't a friend, I may have had the killer instinct to try to take her down and pass her back, but I wanted her to do well and I didn't want to compete to beat her). They would tell me "you can do it, you can make this last part" to which I would respond "I can't do it" and they would laugh. It's probably a stark contrast to riding with Chris who is always positive and pushing and going fast. Here's his lame wife barely moving and complaining. Nice. Sorry guys. Usually I'm a more positive person :)

Eventually we made it to the top and I slogged up the last steep part to the finish line. I like having the guys there cheering for me and I liked it as Chris ran next to me the rest of the way up the hill. I was so mad at myself and so disappointed in my performance that I started to cry even before crossing the finish line -- and not because I was so happy that I finished. I knew I'd made a critical mistake early when I let Michelle go and I'd just blown the rest of the race. I knew I was slower than last year and that was a nice kick while I was down anyway.

After finishing, I got off the bike and made the mistake of trying to straighten up. That hurt. A LOT. I went and laid on a platform at the top and cried like a stupid little girl. Poor Chris had to convince me that I'd done well and I should be proud of myself. I knew I hadn't done well and I was really disappointed. Too many disappointing moments in the last month (including a negative pregnancy test that morning), I was mad that I'd let myself down on the one thing I had some control over. Oh well. Chris tries to convince me that it was just a bad day on the bike. Other people have blamed it on my new, heavier bike. I don't think it's been enough time since the race to blame it on anything but myself. I didn't give it the effort that I needed to give it and I'm mad about that. Oh well. I didn't get last in my class, someone passed the line about 12 minutes behind me. I should be happy about that. I also passed plenty of beginner men on the way up the hill. I should be happy with that. I'm happy that my friends did well. Michelle ended up winning our age-group, Bill won Clydesdales, Chris ended up only 6 seconds slower than last year and this year he took his single speed, carried up everyone's jackets on his back, didn't train at all, raced 175 miles just a week before, and crashed really bad the night before... he ended up doing super well with a huge gash in his elbow, back, and legs and probably a broken rib or two. I wish I had that kind of talent! Melissa ended up one place and about 3 minutes ahead of me. Erik kicked his own PR's butt, and Scott kicked it up the hill and competed in a harder class than usual. Mike and Jeanie did a great job as well... especially for not having raced mountain bikes in 4 years!

Anyway. Disappointing. I'll get over it. It's just a bike race. But I need to give it some serious thought and training before committing to do it next year. If I'm going to race it next year, I'm going to podium. I don't care if I end up being 9 months pregnant. If I ride it again, I will get a medal. Enough surviving. Maybe I'll race another race in the Winter Park series this year -- but I'm going to have to do well in that too. I can't deal with any more disappointment on the bike any time soon or I may never see another serious bike ride again. We'll see what the future holds.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

He's baaaaaaaaack...

I'll let him tell the story, but to satisfy curious minds, Chris is back and alive. Not exactly his intended outcome, but I think in the long run it'll turn out to be a victory in one way or another.

On a personal note, I don't want to drive for any extended period alone. Again. Ever. (ok, at least not for a while). I had my own endurance race this weekend only it involved a car, a dog, several inadequate maps, some written discriptions of the Grand Loop course, two shady gas stations, a HUGE Mountain Dew, getting lost, and being awake for 33 of 36 hours, driving at least 14 of those, and crying for probably at least 2.

After all of that, we're both home safe and sound. We spent Monday and Tuesday relaxing, resting, and eating. We even went on an hour ride last night on dirt with the road bikes. New experience for me, but still surprisingly fun.

Lots of funny stories to come, but I don't want to ruin the surprise of Chris's write-up.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin...

Just wanted to update that Chris successfully left the parking lot yesterday at 6 and I haven't heard from him since which makes me hope he's still going. He is supposed to try to check in and leave a message from Bedrock at some point in the near future, so I hope that comes soon. Turbo and I made the drive home safely this morning -- it was a little borring but not as bad as I thought it would be.

Keeeeeeeeeeep rollin.