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Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday's Musings

Seattlites handle heat just about as well as they handle snow…not well. We’re a temperate bunch. Enough with the melting.

It’s hard to take a man seriously when he’s driving an electric blue corvette with the vanity plates “Sweet V”

The strawberries I enjoyed today were particularly delicious. They would be more particularly delicious if dipped in chocolate.

Favorite quote of the weekend: I didn’t even pray about the weather. There are just some things I don’t ask for. (Amen.)

I went for my first ride since the STP. Hands were numb about 6 miles in. Ugh.

I inadvertently took a 3 hour naps from 5-8 yesterday (aka the heat of the day), woke up soaking wet. Which means I didn’t fall asleep until 1 am. But I did cave and go to my parents house for their AC. Thanks pops!

I started reading Crime and Punishment. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be to read but I do I make my own names of the characters because the Russian name are too long and complicated.

Does anyone else think it’s weird that the word “monosyllabic” is 5 syllables?

There is a Fran’s Chocolates in the new Four Seasons which is on my walking route. Every day its takes all my will power to not go in and get a delicious sample of their salted caramels. However, you can add this to the list of “Things to Get Cara for her Birthday.” That, pilates lesson and a bike rack.

My Auntie Nadine is so freaking funny. I’m glad we’re not just family, but friends too.

My cube mate just brought me a Haagen Das ice cream bar which makes her officially the most amazing person I have had the pleasure to cross today.

That’s all.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The STP: Recovery

In my infinite wisdom I did not take the day off from work. I stayed at my folk’s place Sunday night so that I wouldn’t have to drive back to my place so late. Crawling out of bed, I was remarkably surprised at how little I hurt. Sure, I was sore, but my joints, bones and back all felt really good. I was walking normally, had full range of motion with all my extremities, and while tired, not totally exhausted. I was having trouble gripping things, shampoo bottle, make up brushes, steering wheel, wallet, pens, pencils, anything really. It wasn’t until I got to work that I realized I had no function in my pinkies. Which, although seems minor, is kind of a annoying when you’re typing.

I eventually made it to work, slow moving, but moving. I even rocked the heels for most of the day. By the end of the day I was pretty exhausted and really just wanted to curl up in bed with a lighthearted movie and something sinfully delicious. Instead I went to the grocery store for some tiger balm (aka magic goodness in a jar) and fruits and veggies and rented Revolutionary Road. So, by the end of the evening, my body ached, my sould ached, I was hopped up on pain killers (well…Tylenol), and found no comfort in my healthy food. Consider that poor execution of a plan.

Now, “they” say that the second day of recovery is often worse than the first. I found this to be true only in the sense of exhaustion. By Tuesday all the adrenaline evaporated from my system and I was running on fumes. I could not get enough to drink and just moving was labor intensive. My hands and shoulders were now both mildly numb and if I moved my head to the left there was a stabbing pain in my neck which was obviously uncomfortable. My muscles were still sore and I found that if I sat for too long it was difficult to move so I tried to keep moving as much as a desk job can allow for.

Over the next couple days, feeling began to be restored to my hands and all things are working their way back into place. I did make it to the gym for a swim and sauna which really made everything feel so much better. I’m aiming to get back on the bike on Wednesday evening or perhaps Thursday morning.

My last thoughts about the STP:

• “On your left,” are the 3 most important words one can hear. Please use them.
• Don’t pass on the right, it really freaks me out.
• Please don’t draft without asking. That’s my air, get off me.
• I am so glad I did it. I look forward to doing it again next year. One year, I’ll do it in one day. Next year? Maybe.
• Next year I hope to do it with clips. That seems much more efficient. Hazardous, but efficient.
• I’m quite certain I couldn’t have done it with all the physical support of drivers and people who I trained with. But more importantly the words of encouragement, texts, emails, prayers, etc. really made all the difference in the world. Thank you.

That’s a wrap!

Friday, July 17, 2009

The STP Recap - Day Two: Dang, Those Hill Will Get You Everytime

The 6:00 am wake up call was probably the worst noise I’ve ever heard in my life. While my instinct was to leap of bed, my muscles thought otherwise. Sore and tired, I was in no mood to saddle up on to anything. There had been rumors of rain for the second day, but deep down I hoped that was a big fat lie. Unfortunately, the cloud cover made the potential for rain much, much higher. Squeezing into day 2 riding clothes and packing up the car seemed like the most arduous tasks that could be asked of us to do so early in the morning. We headed back to Centralia and gingerly got back on the bikes, determined to get to Portland.

Now, I would gladly go into detail about what it feels like to get back on the bike after 100 miles the day before, but there are no words. It’s like no other pain and it gets to the point that you don’t want to even dismount because the feeling is restored. I found it just better to sit on the bike and have the numbness squelch that pain. The best I could do was take deep breaths and start pedaling hoping that something else would hurry up and hurt to distract me.

Moving on...The cloud cover made the morning dark and dreary. The cooler temperature was welcomed. Making our way through some country roads, we stopped about 10 miles in for a pit stop at which point Melissa looked at me and said, “We’re doing this, right? We can do this, right?” To me, not making it wasn’t an option. I responded, whole heartedly with, “Yes. Absolutely. We’re doing it now.”

This is the point where things started to take a turn for the less than pleasant. The skies opened up and crocodile size rain drops started falling from the sky. I called back to Melissa, “All Day!” “All day!” she responds, letting me know that she’s right behind me. As the last word came out of her mouth, the thunder rolled and we erupted in disbelieving laughter. “All DAY!!” I called back again and an “All DAY!” came back. While the thought of lightening and me mounted on a metal bike did cross my mind, I was put to ease with the thought of the rubber tires and the chances of me being struck by lightning would make for a totally awesome story. So we kept pedaling. About 100 yards from the pit stop we were drenched to the bone, with no rain gear and no end in sight. It was going to be a long day.

Now, everyone prepares first time riders for “The Hill” in Puyallup on the first day, but everyone fails to mention the NEVERENDING rolling hills for the first half of Day 2. There was one point where my internal word choice could have made a sailor blush. My gluteus and quads were screaming, “Please stop! What did we ever do to you! Why are you doing this to us?” However, once to conquered one hill there was often a really awesome downhill where you could just lay on the pedals and fly. On the way down, the rain make it feel like what I would imagine going through a car wash in a convertible would feel like. I couldn’t really see through my shades, braking and shifting were touch-and-go because it was so slick. I really just hoped and prayed for the best.

By the time we got to lunch, I was starving and ate as much as I could because if those last 50 miles were any indication of the next 50 miles, I wasn’t going to make it. Getting back on the road we still have the Longview bridge ahead of us. Mentally, that was the last obstacle I needed to get over. The rain was persistent but I felt pretty good. We were also on a little bit of a timing issue so we made good time to get to the bridge.

We approached the bridge amongst heavy traffic but the rain had let up a little. Keep in mind…its been about 55ish miles on day two, I am soaking wet, I’m struggling to shift and brake and there is a giant bridge, complete with a solid climb and an equal downhill. Single file up, we took it, slow and steady. Conquered. What an awesome feeling to come flying down the other side, look back and marvel. Once we hit the road after the bridge more hills awaited us. Awesome. More rain….even better. At the mini-rest stop I was feeling pretty good, tired. We heard the rest of the course was fairly flat, which was the best news all day.

After the Goble mini-stop, we took off at a good click. I really wanted to get done and I knew we could make it. Knowing that the last part was fairly flat, I knew I could really get cranking on the pedals and not have to worry about conserving too much for hills. We made great time to the last mini-stop and I was rearing to finish up. We took a longer break at the last stop for Melissa to get some kinks worked out in her shoulder and then we were off. Down to 27 miles to go, I knew it in my heart of hearts we could do it.

About 10 miles out, the rain really picked up. It was hard and fast and the roads were getting slicker and puddles getting wider. I was so determined at this point you could have run the course through Niagra Falls and I would have gone for it. In the city there were two more obnoxious hills that about did me in.

Riding into the city streets, I all of a sudden hear someone yelling my name. W…t…f. I look around to see who it could possibly be, and low and behold the two most wonderful faces anyone would ever want to see where pulling up alongside us cheering us on to the finish. Lindsay and Stephanie honked and cheered us to the finish line. They were what I need to push through.

Then, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, the finish line appears. About freaking time. People were applauding and cheering us on as we crossed. It was quite a sight and sound. Tired and drenched to the bone, we rode through, dismounted and stood in a drunken stupor.

It's hard to explain what it feels like. It's hard to describe everything that does through you while still trying to function. I’m still searching for the words. We search for mom. She gave me a big hug once we found each other. We connected with Lindsay and Steph who were carrying the precious cargo: clean/dry clothes. Despite our drenched and dirty selves, we got big hugs. The only thing on my mind at the point was getting dry and clean. We barely missed the cut off for the showers, so with Lindsay’s superhuman powers she get on her wonder-phone and magically connected us to a hotel. But I couldn’t wait, I NEEDED to get my clothes off of me, privacy and modesty be darned. So, standing in the parking lot, off went the shirt, and with a wrap of the towel around my waist, off came the pants. With Steph holding the towel and Lindsay keeping me upright, I was maneuvering my way to get clean, dry clothes on. Success! I was clothed and dry, the best feeling I could have hoped for at the moment.

On our way to find these mysterious showers. We went a few blocks and pulled into the LaQuinta parking lot, Lindsay and Melissa went in to get a room while Steph and I lurked outside. We made our way through the hotel, across the back parking lot, up a set of stairs, all the time I was thinking, “What is going on? Where are we? Is this safe? Am I delirious? I did not ride 200 miles on a bike just to get shot in a hotel room in Portland.” We eventually made our way to our room (after Lindsay accidentally walked in on a couple sleeping….hilariously awkward). We both got cleaned up and set out to make our way home.

After the scenic route to the bridge, we were headed north on I-5 bound for Seattle, where only the day before we had set off from, not know how this would end, what we would encounter.

I close the Day 2 recap with the song lyrics that keep going through my head:

Walkin's easy when the road is flat
Them danged ol' hills'll get you every time
Yeah the good Lord gave us mountains
So we could learn how to climb – Mountains By Lonestar

And lastly,

No, I get by with a little help from my friends
Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends
Mm,Gonna try with a little help from my friends – The Beattles

Both are so true.

I’ll do a recovery post once I’m fully recovered, but until then…ciao.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The STP Recap - Day One: All Day!

Where to start on this epic story of epic proportions. It all began as a seedling of an idea a few month ago. Then it quickly spiraled out of control climaxing to the morning of July 11th when the alarm rang at 4:30. The day of reckoning had arrived. I was about to embark on a 202 mile journey, via bicycle, from Seattle to Portland. Now, because I’m a Virgo, and Virgos manifest their angst via their digestive systems, I had been nauseated the night before and the pre-dawn breakfast was not sounding delicious. But, whatevs, I knew my nerves would calm and I would be ravishingly hungry later in the day. My stomach as aching, the 4 hours of sleep was not nearly enough, and my sense of enthusiasm was lacking.

I stumbled out of bed showered and squeezed into my riding gear. Comfortable, I was not, but ready to ride? Absolutely. After picking up Davie and heading toward Husky stadium we unloaded at the QFC to avoid traffic and made out way to the start line. After long wait in the port-a-potty line and a quick stop at the mechanic station, we were OFF!

6:37 am and moving a whooping 9 mph…jammed up with several hundred other riders, we eventually thinned out. The morning was beautiful. Sunrise, Mt. Rainier poised in the background over the calm lake, boats quietly docked in their slips and the trees stood still. After reading the course notes, I knew if I could make it out of the first 10 miles without incident, that would be a good sign.

Before you knew it, we were 23 miles in and the REI rest stop was party central. The course had been pretty fast and flat and I was feeling pretty good. I think I may have even been smiling. After refueling, rehydrating and taking a little break, we headed out again for Spanaway Junior High, the official lunch stop. I knew the Puyallup hill was on this section so most of the time my thoughts wandered along the lines of, “Really, how steep can it be?” to “If that guy can make it up, I better make it.” To “I’m going to do that hill not matter how long I have to granny gear it.” To, “is it just me, or it starting to get a little warm out.” To, “Mmmmm….biker boys…..mmmmm.” Sorry, I digress.

Sure enough you turn the corner and you start the climb. The hill was smooth, recently asphalted with “helpful” signs the indicated how far along you were. When I saw the first sign that said, “1/4 of the was there!” I resolved to stare straight ahead and not read another sign. Once reaching the top I thought, “Hmmmm, that wasn’t so bad.” We hit some rolling hills afterwards which were a bit of a bugger but lunch was just up on ahead. Thank goodness for perfect timing.

At this point, I was starving, almost ready to eat the leather off my shoes. Lunch was packed with long lines for food, water and port-a-potties but we found ourselves a shaded area to cool off and enjoy our lunch. Food was exactly what I needed and after a large amount of carbs and some protein, I was ready to roll out again to get jump on our next section. The hill had been conquered and we were half way done by 11:30.

The road was long and straight for this stretch which meant lots of people passing this house on wheels. I felt pretty good about actually keeping up with groups and passing some people. At this point just getting to the next stop was the overall goal. We pulled into Yelm and the weather reader board read 91 degrees. It didn’t feel that hot but the wind generated by riding keeps you cooler. Only when you stop do you notice the temperature really cooking.

The stretch from Yelm to Centralia was a God-send. Mostly trail riding which is what I usually do and I had trained 75% on. I was comfortable here. It was shaded. We were clocking a good speed and we seemed to be scooting by lots of riders. Plus, we were in the home stretch so really, can’t complain.

We pulled into Centralia, I felt good, tired, hot, arms were weak and was all around at a loss of what to do next. So we sat for a moment, enjoyed the world’s best orangesicle and reveled in the completing our first 99 miles without incident. That’s really all I was hoping for.

Mom loaded us up, we went on a mission for food, consumed large amounts of calories, drove to the hotel, which was probably the smarts decision of the whole trip, and after several pain killers and sleep aides, collapsed into bed.

Day 2 is where it gets interesting. Stay Tuned. In the mean time, enjoy these pictures of the first day.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stay Tuned

Amos and I are separating. No worries, it’s only temporary. I’m aiming for Saturday before getting back in that saddle.

I did make it to work today, and I’ve even got the high heels on which, all things considered, is pretty remarkable part.

Stay tuned for the full STP update filled with incidents, musing and reflections……once my hands are back in working order.

In the meantime, you can find me in the sauna, curled up in bed, watching a chick flick and downing Tylenol like I own the stock.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Countdown to 200 Miles: 1 Day

You know that sinking feeling in your stomach you get when you’re watching a movie and something really bad is about to happen. You know it coming but you’re just waiting to see it play out. That’s the feeling I have right now. I drove by the U this morning where in less than 24 hours we will be well on our ride. Right now, the anticipation and unknowns are the least pleasant part right now.

Last night I boiled the potatoes, got everything ready for tonight and did a little packing for the ride. Right now I’m just trying to lay everything out, walk through it all in my mind of what I might need, and if something did go wrong, what would I need. It’s a lot.

Last Friday I rode my the longest ride to date, 90ish miles. Minus the knife stabbing pain in my right knee at about the 20 mile mark and the throbbing pain in the lower back at around mile 65, oh, and the 90 degree weather…I felt really good. Mom drove the support vehicle stocked with cold water and food which was a life-saver. As we were pushing through the last 18 miles of the ride, I was thinking to myself, “Self…you’re totally effed.” So, how am I going to do it? While I’m not exactly sure on the specifics, but I have a plan:

At this point, physical training is pretty much obsolete, so I’m deferring to mental will power to get through. When I used to do spinning at the gym, the instructor would always say, “Your mind will give up before your body will.” I believe this. I have to for survival purposes.

One of the motivational techniques I learned while training for other ridiculous events such as these is to break down the course into increments. Because I’m also a generally lazy person when it comes to doing things for myself, the next step is critical to the success of this motivational technique. So, if you assign each increment to a person/idea/thing that is inspirational/motivating, it becomes a great motivator and distracter. I’ve broken the race down into 8 segments, averaging 25 miles and assigned people and ideas to it. My list is as follows:

1. Miles 1 - 24 – KENT (REI stop): Davie’s Sobriety Anniversary
2. Miles 24 - 53 – SPANAWAY (Spanaway Junior High): My Health
3. Miles 53 - 71 – YELM: My Dad
4. Miles 71 - 99 – CENTRALIA: Ilsa/The Farm
5. Miles 99- 136 – CASTLE ROCK MINISTOP: The Future – In every sense of the word
6. Miles 136 - 151 – LONGVIEW BRIDGE: Friends – you know who you are
7. Miles 151 - 176 – ST. HELENS (St. Helen’s High School): My mom
8. Miles 176- 202 – DOWNTOWN PORTLAND - Because I can’t quit now

My next post likely won’t be until Monday barring any major catastrophes or personal injuries. Thank you everyone for your well wishes and prayers.

Catch you on the flipside.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Countdown to 200 Miles: 2 Days

Who knew so much planning and moving parts had to go into this 2 day adventure. After much deliberation, our plan is now in place.

Deliver Sunday needs to Lindsay and Steph, Carb load at Ken’s, final check on bike, boil potatoes, pack and sleep


5:30 am – Pick up Davie
6:00 am – Depart Husky Stadium
6:00 am – 4:00ish pm Pedal, pedal, pedal, drink, eat, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, drink, eat, pedal, pedal, pedal, drink, eat
4:00ish – Mom picks us up from the half way point and take us to the hotel. Proceed to rest and relax for the rest of the evening.


5:30 am: Mom pick up from Hotel and drive to half way point
6:00 am: Depart halfway point, head for Portland
6:00 am – 4:00ish pm Pedal, pedal, pedal, drink, eat, pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, drink, eat, pedal, pedal, pedal, drink, eat
4:00 – Meet Steph and Lindsay who will bring our tired selves home.

Went to bed early last night only to wake up with anxiety at 4:30 am this morning. I really do need to sleep with these next couple of days. Here's hoping....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Countdown to 200 Miles: 3 Days - Packet in Hand!

Well, there is really no backing out now. I have my packet in hand and an outrageously bright riding jacket. Bib number 9262. Good number. Even, rhythmic, lucky, I hope.

I did nothing in the way of physical exercise yesterday. This is apparently called “resting” but it makes me feel lazy. I didn’t do anything with the bike, besides glance at it and think about the 200 miles (approximately 20 hours +/-) we will be spending together. I woke up this morning stiff and with lower back pain which can’t be good. Maybe I’m just imagining it though.

Sidenote: I recently named my bike, Amos. I am generally not a person who names inanimate things, but I felt naming the bike could help nurture our relationship as we spend an exorbitant amount of time together. At this point, I’ll try anything.

If the weather holds I might go for a really short pedal around the neighborhood, see if I can get my lower gears to work which will be incredibly helpful for those 30+ miles that are on an incline.

Weather Forecast for Saturday: High of 83, 0% chance of rain...Love it!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Countdown to 200 Miles: 4 Days

Tuesday: 4 Days to “Race” Day

With all the new accessories, I was actually eager to get on the bike last night. I put on the new biking shorts, new jersey, new socks, new gloves, helmet, shades. Stepping in front of the mirror I took a good hard look at myself and thought, “You look ridiculous.”

Deciding that my ridiculousness wasn’t going to stop me at this point, I got on my bike for a very short ride. I set out up the pretty gnarly, but short, hill right outside my place to get up to the flat section which I tackled and coasted nicely up top. What I didn’t expect, nor had I experienced before, was the gusting winds. There were several instances where the wind came up from the side and there was a good struggle with me and the bike to stay vertical while also continuing to move forward. This is tricky. Luckily, there was no incident but I will say I am not looking forward to any wind on this ride.

Sidenote: Not gonna lie, I may have stayed up too late and finished up the first half of the first season of FNL. Still hearting Riggins and I think I know why…but I’ll save that for a different post. It generally has to do with my attraction to emotionally unavailable men with broken spirits and turbulent pasts who I think I can “fix.” I’m sensing some serious emotional breakthroughs with this fantasyland adolescent television series. Aces….

Monday, July 6, 2009

Countdown to 200 Miles: 5 Days

Monday: 5 Days to “Race” Day (I use quotes because this is hardly a “race”)

Bought Day 2 riding outfit today. Riding shorts, riding jersey, fancy socks, chamois butt’r (let’s not talk about it). Buying riding shorts goes on the list with jeans and swimsuits as “Articles of Clothing that Make You Feel Bad About Yourself.” It can be traumatic.
Now, let me explain why this is such a painful experience.
1.) Riding pants are essentially spandex. Except, riding short are spandex that have extra elastic around the legs to achieve that extra bulging sausage look. And while spandex does have a stretch threshold, all my business exceeds that threshold. Gross.
2.) There is extra padding in the rear (and other sensitive areas) to make riding more comfortable. This makes your butt look exponentially larger than it already is. I won’t go into details about how it feels but its not good. Ugh.
3.) Spandex is just not comfortable, under any circumstance, so when you don’t feel comfortable it really hard to look good.

I’m going to try and get a short ride in tonight on the trail just to try out the new shorts. We’ll see how it goes. I have Tim Riggins, Jason Street and Lyla Garrity entwined in a scandalous heartbreaking high school love triangle that might serve as a better use of my time as I “rest” for the big “race.”

I’ll let you know how that plays out.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hello Summer, You're Early

Seattleites know that summer doesn’t really start until July 5th. I’ve watched many a fireworks displays through clouds which are really just fuzzy burst of diluted color. However, this year we have been blessed with a few weeks of pre-summer gloriousness. Being a general fall/winter person, I was determined at the beginning of this summer to improve my summering skills. I think I’ve been doing pretty well so I’ve compiled a list of Top 10 of this pre-summer to date:

Top 10

1. Seaside Oregon Trip o’ Relaxation with overcast skies, s’mores and sundaes (see Steph’s entry)
2. Camping and Biking Deception Pass (decidedly not a “camper” but gorgeous ride with a whale sighting)
3. First Seattle Sounders Game (lots of standing and a tie game…lame)
4. First Thursday Art Gallery Stroll with the Ladies
5. Blast from the Past (Metric) Century Ride in Sedro - Woolly – Best cookies – ever…period.
6. Miss America’s Bachelorette Party – Spa, dinner, drinks, luxury hotel, brunch
7. Melissa Kennedy Becomes Melissa Robinson – Beautiful Party at the Edgewater
7a. Meeting Rosie Thomas who told me she wants to be my friend.
8. One day Road trip to see Brandi Carlile in Portland Oregon
9. Back Road Riding through rural Woodinville – Snohomish – Arlington
10. Zoo Tunes – Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Buddy Miller

And, ps. I’m tanner than I’ve been in years thanks to lots of time on the bike, lots of roof top lunches and sunny skies.

I was laying out at Zoo Tunes with friends thinking about how whenever I pray I always pray that I will have the eyes to see, ears to hear and heart to respond to all the beauty in the world (or something along those lines). Living in seattle, while at an outdoor concert with friends, I heard, saw and felt what beauty could look like.

Now, I’m off to enjoy another fabulous weekend in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.