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

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Great '08

Another year has come and gone on this blog. Last year I looked back on my previous year's goals to see what I'd met and what I hadn't. I enjoyed looking back on that, so I'll do it again.

Back from January 1, 2008:

As I head into 2008, I hope for much of the same. My goal is to challenge myself in the mountains on my bike and on my feet. Perhaps I will talk myself into more mountain bike racing outside of the Winter Park series I did race one of the Leadville winter series races -- super fun! (for sure a tour of the White Rim. Got that done! Yay! Kokopelli tour too? Did that too! Colorado trail on bikes or feet? Err, not this year, but I got to watch Chris smash the Colorado Trail Race!!!)... Maybe by 2009, or 14er count will be up to 20 -- is there a true winter climb coming in 2008? It didn't get up to 20, but we gave it a good college effort. We got to 16, which is pretty good considering we spent most of the summer away from home in one way or another. I TRIED a winter climb in early February involving snow shoes and Pikes Peak, but 3/4 of the way up, the wind and cold were too much for my timid bones. Oh well, I gave it a shot. I already know of a few changes coming to the Plesko house in 2008 and with these changes everything will be challenged; however, I'm sure that no matter what happens, we'll make it through (once again) with "grace and plenty of pictures!" The changes I had in mind when writing this never came to be, which is probably good. We had different challenges and changes, and those were adventures in themselves.

Before I set more goals for myself, I want to look back on what was a truly great 2008!

'08 brought so many great adventures. With Chris quitting his job in May, we had the whole summer to explore, play, relax, and hang out without the stress of work. We've truly lived it up this year and we consider ourselves very fortunate to be in a position to pull it off.

At times it felt as if we were hardly ever home. We would come home just long enough to do some laundry, pay the bills, and pack up for a new adventure. The best vacations of 08?

*Spring Break: Moab, UT --> Zion National Park --> Las Vegas, NV --> Solvang, CA --> Moab, UT --> Home. The best overall vacation I've taken with Chris. It was solely centered around having a good time and enjoying our two incomes while they lasted. I hope we get to do this trip again sometime... or at least something similar.

*Great Divide: Stays in Montana, Banff, and Idaho showed me some outstanding beauty on this continent that I didn't even know existed. Will we do this again? We'll have to see what summer holds...

*Mt. Elbert/Mt. Massive camping trip: Chris and I always wondered how we'd do on a two-day, two-mountain camping trip. This one was so fun that we will definitely do a similar trip, but perhaps upping the mountain count to three.

*Durango Or Bust! Colorado Trail Detox trip. To me, there was no better way to celebrate Chris's unbelievable race than to lounge around and eat good food in Durango for a few days.

*Christmas St. Louis trip: Always a great time. Always come back several pounds heavier.

Bike/Hike/Climb Adventures
In addition to nice vacations, we also squeezed in some extraordinary adventures.

*Good attempt at a winter summit of Pikes Peak on snowshoes. Once I couldn't feel my hands anymore, I wussed out :) I will absolutely try this again. Now I have huge expedition worthy down mitts. That should at least minimize the hand numbing problem.

*Kokopelli Trail self supported three day tour: Wow. Quite the trip. Overall a great experience, teaching me to push my boundaries and trust Chris's handy guiding skills. I'm sure we'll be back in some form at some point.

*White Rim self supported 1.5 day tour: A great trip, minus the knee problems that started at mile 8. I will be back for a 1.0 day self supported trip in the near future.

*Lots of 14ers!: I think we completed six 14er hikes this summer, which is pretty good considering we were hardly ever around. My favorite of the six this year? Mt. Massive.

*3rd and 1st Flatiron Climbing: Definitely something I never thought I'd do, but now that I've done it, I'm glad that I did and I'll be back. Very soon.

Racing Fun!
Chris had a breakthrough season on the bike. He surprised himself and confirmed what I've always known he could do. Also, I had a pre tty good season myself!

*I rode and won my first winter snow bike race in Leadville: Time to start training for this year's series. Last year I wanted to do the series but managed to be sick for all but one race. I'm excited for these to start back up. There's nothing like totally crashing over the bars, face first, flying downhill, and not feeling a thing.

*Raced, while sick, in the Frostbite Time Trial up near Wyoming in March... perhaps not the best idea. However, if I'm not sick and we're free, it'd be fun to do again this year.

*Set a new PR on the Cherry Creek Time Trial course, missing my big season goal by only a few seconds: No doubt I'm looking forward to CCTT this year. It's always fun.

*Got 2nd in the Sport class at Winter Park, won King of the Rockies in my class, had a blast racing my first official downhill race, and smashing all of my times from last year. 'Nuf said. I better get my butt in gear if I'm going to survive Expert though...

Life Adventures
Often times our adventures are planned, purposeful, and fun, but sometimes life has its own ideas. 2008 brought a few of those as well.

*Rolled Element leads to new Element during reeeeeeally bad weekend: This was the weekend that I got the worst flu of my life and threw up constantly for three days, had my uncle's funeral and almost passed out because of the flu, then locked myself out of my house and had to spend $150 on a locksmith to let me back in... all the while worrying about Chris after getting my most dreaded call that he and his friend had been in a bad accident in Arizona. In our car. And now we had to buy a new one. Baaaaaaaaaad weekend. Hope it never comes again like that one.

*Backed up plumbing with husband off riding the Divide: More annoying than anything else, but yeah. Bad timing.

*No baby yet! 'Nuf said. Another year has come and gone and now I'm finally biting the bullet and seeing a fertility specialist in the next month or two. That's a big step for me.


So, 2008 was truly great for me and Chris. As I look back at all of the fun, exciting, and interesting adventures that we had together, I wouldn't change a thing.

Looking forward to 2009? Well, I'm sure it'll hold many surprises just like this year. I hope to continue to build my climbing skills, as I've really enjoyed climbing both inside and outside this winter. At this point, it's still a Just For Fun hobby with an added bonus of a bit of cross-training for bike season. With no major climbing goals in mind, I simply hope to continue to enjoy it -- safely. I'm sure Chris and I will continue to work toward our 14ers goals together, hopefully including some multi-mountain-multi-day trips in this summer. I will climb Longs Peak this year, perhaps by the traditional Keyhole route, perhaps by a different one. Either way, I will do it... even though it scares me. Chris and I have our sights set on a tour of the Colorado Trail this summer -- probably by bikes, but we'll have to see. I'm not sure what our summer will look like, with Chris planning more big adventures, and me taking at least one masters class, but somehow we'll fit at least a few fun things in when we can. My biking goals for '09? Pretty similar to last year. I'd like to crush the 30 minute mark at Cherry Creek, in addition to trying to make the top 10 at one of the races. The 30 minute mark will be easy, top 10 probably not so easy. But I'll try. I want to survive Expert at Winter Park and if I can get top 3 on any race, I'll be super excited. I've kicked around the idea of the Leadville 100. I need to decide soon, as applications need to be in ASAP. It's so expensive though, and hard to commit that much money to 8 months out when I'm trying to get pregnant, but maybe. I feel like I can do it with some good training, and I'd like to do it, so who knows.

So there we have it. My goals for a very fine 2009. No doubt the year will be an adventure, just like 2008. I can only hope we savor the good times and push through the lows.

Happy 2009!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone out in bloggerland.  

Pictures of good loot to come!  Rhonda The Singlespeed will be much prettier after this holiday season!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'Tis the season

I've abandoned the blog lately.

It seems that before vacation I was too busy and/or sick to do much of anything.

Now that I'm vacation, I'm enjoying not doing much of anything.

I caught one nasty cold from my students that cast a nice shadow over the usually exciting week before Christmas break (minus the fun afternoon of decorating cookies with the kids, Chris, and my parents... despite feeling terrible, it was a blast and may just become a holiday tradition in my classroom).  

Normally Chris has an immune system made of steal, but it seems this time the germs found a crack in his armor.  Poor guy has been sick and feeling bad since last Saturday when we drove 13 hours to St. Louis.  Since he wasn't feeling well, I drove about 2/3 of the trip.  Luckily we had great weather -- minus it being REALLY freaking cold and windy in Kansas.

Since then we have been lounging around in St. Louis, eating and generally doing a bunch of nothing.  Our bikes are here, but the frigid weather has kept me off of mine, and The Sickness has kept poor Chris off of his.  We climbed Monday night with an old friend of Chris's and his parents.  The gym was nice, but really makes me appreciate our climbing gyms in Denver.  There were only a few easy routes and it was pretty packed.  Mom2 and Dad2 did awesome for their first time climbing though!  Both muscled it up a 5.7 and learned that climbing isn't as scary as it seems.  

Yesterday we braved the mall for a few last minute gifts.  I realize that as I've gotten older, I've started to hate crowds.  They overwhelm me.  More and more, I see that I am much better adapted to the solitude of a climb, hike, or ride than I am to crowds.  Maybe it's also because I deal with a large crowd of children everyday and I need some "personal space bubble" rebuilding time on my time off?  Who knows.  Either way, I'm looking forward to using the other part of my Christmas gift from my parents and spend my gift card on some new boots in the post-Christmas sale frenzy! 

I absolutely cannot wait to give Chris his gift tomorrow.  The gift has been in the works for many many months and I'm very bad at delaying gratification.  A shipping snafu nearly killed the surprise, so things didn't work out as planned, but I'm still excited.  Perhaps he'll find the gift blog worthy tomorrow, otherwise I'll post pictures tomorrow for him.  

Can't wait, can't wait, can't wait, can't wait!!!!!

Merry Christmahannakwanzikah to everyone! (still one of the best holiday ads of all time)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More to come...

But for now:

1)  It's freaking cold outside.  -10 right now.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

2)  I finally got sick, which sucks, but this time last year I'd almost used up all of my sick days.  I'm happy to have held off the beast this long.

3)  4 DAYS LEFT WITH KIDS!!!!  I just might survive.  But it's looking like an inside recess week.  Key word in previous sentence: might

4)  This snowman is awesome:

Even more awesome was this hillarious manic laugh that accompanied this..."My snowman has a long arm!! AHHHHAHHHAHHHAAAAAA!"  A bit creepy in fact.

5)  LOVE my new coat and blanket from my parents.  Can't wait to get out and use the coat so I can get a good picture!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Need. More. Riding.

This week was snowy and I was very happy to see the snow.  Finally.  I didn't even mind the hour drive to work or the ice scraping when I got out.  There's something peaceful about the first few snows of the year.  Something festive.  It finally feels like Christmas might actually come this year.

But then again, it IS Colorado...

Today was 50 degrees and beautiful.  The only hint of this week's snow is the freshly packed, slightly wet gravel on the path.  The sun was shining brightly, the air smelled clean, and I could walk outside without putting on the down jacket.  After writing a long paper, and having a great lunch with my friends, I went for a little ride.  Finally.  It seems it has been too long.  

My legs felt pretty terrible.  Like they were filled with stones.  But the great thing about riding? As bad as it feels, if you just keep riding, it generally gets better.  My goal for the ride was merely to get out, ride, and find a good place to capture a picture of Longs Peak for Chris. I ended up riding for around an hour, pleased with the day but not so pleased with the massive headwind and low tire pressure.  Luckily the single speed turns an ordinarily easy hour ride into a decent workout.

While I was out enjoying the beautiful weather here, Chris was out hiking Longs Peak (hence the picture for him).  A big cloud seemed to be hovering around the Longs area, so I am curious to see how his weather was.  My guess was it was pretty windy.  I've watched his SPOT closely when I've been home, and unfortunately it was inconclusive as to whether or not they reached the summit.  It didn't refresh very often at that point, and so I'm not sure whether they got close and turned around, or tagged it quickly and made it back down a bit before the SPOT refreshed.  12 hours in, he appears to be nearly back to the car, so I look forward to him coming home and telling me all about the adventure.  I'm jealous that he has now possibly stood on the summit Longs without me, but at the same time I am incredibly proud of him for taking on the challenge and diving right in.  

As a nice little surprise for him when he gets back, I made him some cookies.  And promptly royally screwed them up.  I've made the cookies a million times, but still they don't taste so good.  Luckily he's sweet enough that he'll probably eat them without complaint.  What a nice boy.

Tomorrow I am going to sit down and make a riding plan for the week.  I am going to slowly get myself back into a routine and then start actual training again in January.  It is time to get back into riding.  Climbing, though, has been an unexpectedly amazing diversion.  

Meanwhile, I will be eating yucky cookies.  So sad.