Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Creating Memories

I have mixed feelings coming into the next cycling season. Last year was great as far as personal achievements go. I blew away my previous PR for the 25k River Bank Run--averaging over a minute faster per mile! My cycling skills improved and I even got a little faster.

But something else has snuck up on me, something surprising and even more fulfilling than reaching my personal goals--my kids aren't babies anymore! I hate to admit it, but I did not enjoy being a mom to infants. They cry, they poop, they spit up food, they need to be carried around in a giant car seat that caused debilitating pain in my back and shoulders . . . ugh. And those big eyes, well, I found them a bit creepy. Babies don't blink! It's just not normal. They just stare and stare, until you are convinced you've given birth to an alien spawn child.

Now my kids are old enough to do stuff. Taking my daughter for her first mountain bike ride this summer was one of the greatest memories I will ever have. It was amazing. This winter I started cross country skiing with my kids. I tow my 2 year old son in a sled behind me while I ski with my daughter. Its good fun. Turns out I really do LOVE being a mom.

I find myself spending more and more time with my kids and less and less time training . . . Which is not a bad thing at all. But it is a different feeling.

Creating Family Memories.
This last weekend we went up to Crystal Mountain with my brother's family, my parents, and my SIL's mom. We had a packed house--grammas, papa, aunts, uncles, cousins, dogs--the perfect chaotic mix for family fun.

We woke Saturday morning to 6 inches of fresh snow. No one in my immediate family has downhill skis. In fact, we had planned to do some sledding, snowshoeing, and swimming at the resort while my brother and his family skied. But with the fresh snowfall, the hills called to me. I really wanted to ski! Fortunately, my SIL had a spa treatment planned which meant her skis were at my disposal!

My husband and I bundled up the two kids and hiked down to the rentals where the kids were fitted and kitted for their first downhill skiing experience. Both kids took to it like naturals. After just a few short runs my daughter was asking to go on the big hills with the chair lift!

Even though I try not to worry, I just can't help but imagine all the horrible things that can happen. I am so thankful to my brother who took her up for some mom-free downhill skiing. Where I would have hovered over her in a panic, he was able to give her some freedom and wings to fly. Thanks bro!

My son, my little 2 year old Evil Knievel--it didn't take long for him to start smack talking. This was perhaps his first taste of independence. He could get on and off the Magic Carpet by himself. He stood an entire inch taller riding up the hill, doing a little dance and singing to himself. Occasionally another skier would smile and wave at him, he'd reply "I'm awesome! I'm skiing by MY SELF!" Or he'd look at me and start in "I'm doing this by my self. Not with you! I can DO this! YEAHHHHH!" and then he'd grunt and dance.

Once at the top of the hill, the race began! He could taste speed. He'd barrel towards the bottom as fast as he could. As he careened uncontrollably down the hill he'd do The Running Man.

Sunday, my husband took our daughter swimming and my son came xc skiing with me. We enjoyed having some one-on-one time with the kids. It was a wonderful weekend. I keep finding myself smiling at memories that bubble-up throughout the day.

As I scroll through facebook and see all the long training rides my friends accomplished, well, I may be getting a bit behind on the schedule, but I have no regrets with how I spent my time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Season

Last fall I decided to test my legs and Cat. up to the Expert/Elite field--feeling just a touch way out of my league. I like challenges. Especially far-reaching ones. I find no shame in racing against dedicated, amazing, FAST women and coming in DFL (dead-fudgin-last). That's what I call fun. Standing on a podium means nothing without first overcoming the impossible challenge!

There was a bit of nervous banter among the women, the normal down-playing and throwing out of excuses "I'm recovering from an injury" or "work has been so busy, no time to train!" It's the same at every race. You'd be hard-press to find someone brazen enough to admit they've trained like hell and are ready to mow anything over that gets in her way. I digress . . .

Most everyone knows each other because, lets face it, women mountain bikers are a select group—especially at the Expert/Elite level. I was a new face and it was noticed. I was taken-aback when one person asked who I raced for. Myself! was all I was able to mumble. It got a good chuckle (most, if not all of them race for a team). Then before I knew it, the gun was shot and it was time to race.

I have thought about that moment a lot, especially recently. Because this season I will be racing for more than myself, I'll be representing the Grand Traverse Mountain Bike Association.

I am really excited for this opportunity. Traverse City has fast become one of our family's favorite places to visit. We find ourselves returning season after season. There are many great things about Traverse City that we love, but, admittedly, one of the main reasons we find ourselves there so often throughout the year is the Mountain Biking--for everyone in our family.

Between the Bike Park at Timber Ridge Resort and the VASA Single Track trail system, there is something for everyone in our family to enjoy. We traditionally close our frequent visits with a family bike ride along Grand Traverse Bay and have spent many days cruising along the TART Trail System.

I am thankful for the opportunity to represent a place and an organization that has given our family so many great memories already. It's going to be an exciting and fun season racing for GTMTBA!

For more information on the Grand Traverse Mountain Bike Association (GTMTBA), please visit their website.
Click here for information on getting your own VASA and TART Trail Map, courtesy of GTMTBA

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Welcome to the First (Family) Mountain Biking Club"

It never ceases to amaze me how you're cruisin' along, enjoying the scenery when, before you know it, the scenes you're passing become nothing more than a gray blur as life accelerates to an alarming speed!

As much as I've wanted time to sit down and evaluate my goals and plan for the coming race season, it just hasn't happened. But I've had all sorts of fun (as well as some very productive work days) lately. One of the things that has kept me hopping is establishing a family mountain biking club.

Family XC Club

Last summer I started mountain biking with my then 5yo daughter. She struggles with anxiety and is naturally timid person. So when I first took her mountain biking, I prepared myself for a lot of crying.

She started down the trail on her little 16inch single speed coaster bike full of apprehension. She rode over her first tree root and I heard a little “woo-hoo” squeak out of her mouth. Later we came to the first “big” climb, complete with some challenging roots (for a timid, anxiety-ridden 5 year old), she cried and screamed “I can’t do this! It’s hard!” and yet her legs kept pushing the cranks. I kept my mouth shut, knowing that no matter what I said, I would only add to her anxiety. I watched in amazement as she pushed, battled, cried, hammered her way up that hill. And when she made it to the top she hollered back to me “that was fun!”
Mountain biking has given her a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence that no other sport or activity has been able to give her and that she desperately needs. Seeing her thrive on the single track has inspired me to work on establishing a Family Mountain Bike Club. We had our first planning meeting last week. Most of the kids are young, 10 yo down to 2! Our main goal is to establish a community of little cyclists and to have lots and lots of fun.

We've set a structure for the club and have some activities planned. I'm currently working on t-shirt designs while the kids are coming up with a team name that we will vote on. This is So. Much. Fun. Even more fun than racing my mountain bike!!!!

Training Ride

Sunday we had another busy-filled day planned. I was going to skip church so that I could get a gravel road training ride in before all the family fun began. As I was packing my gear my phone began to chirp. It was my boss. On a Sunday morning! We're working on a Top-Secret, High-Priority book right now. And my boss needed me to get some things prepared to show the author that afternoon!

My ride was delayed a couple of hours. But I managed to squeeze it in. It was a muddy-muddy mess. I am so thankful I decided to wear a face fleece or I would have been eating a lot of dirt. I managed to do 2,500 feet of climbing in just 24 miles (that's a lot for around here).

It's a good thing I always liked playing in the mud!

When I got home, I realized my hair was completely cast in clay. It took an hour and 3 now-broken shower combs to wash my hair. Good times.

Another busy week has begun.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday--it'll have to wait

Yesterday I said that I would share my goals and struggles for the upcoming season. Well, today has proven to be much more busy than I anticipated. That blog post will have to wait until next week.

On a positive note, I was down 3 pounds--yup, you heard that right--from yesterday. I had a feeling a good chunk of that was water weight/bloating from eating junk over the weekend. It's good the see the scale heading back in the right direction. But I still have a long ways to go.

I have a fun weekend planned: visiting with friends, family, gravel road riding, hanging out with the kids . . . it's going to be great :-)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Daily Scale

I must get on the scale every day.

I know, some of you may think that is obsessive. But I have a problem--and its not the scale. My problem is I don't know when to stop eating. If it weren't for the scale, I would eat constantly. Which is what I did when I stopped getting on the scale back in October of 2011.

By mid-January, I knew things were not good. The jeans were not fitting. But even worse, my dress pants that were a generous size that always fit me no matter what--were now dangerously snug.

Somehow I worked up the courage to take that scary, confrontational, no-denying-it-now step onto the scale. And it was worse than I thought. Way worse. I was not up 6-7 pounds like I suspected, like the year before when I went on a similar bender over the holidays. Nope. I was up 15--fifteen-freaking pounds.


Fortunately my husband was facing some reality when it comes to his diet as well. For the first time we started eating healthy together. With some diligence and self-control, I managed to get down 11 pounds over the next few weeks. Progress. Some relief. I let my guard down . . . . .

And I stopped getting on the scale again for four days in a row.

Once again, I took that step. And, ugh! Again, way worse than I thought. I was thinking maybe 3 pound gain or, at worse, 4. Nope, not me! My body just loves to hold onto waste, fat and toxins. I'm up 7 pounds over a 4 day bender.

And only 5 weeks to the first race of the season.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow I will write about my past struggles, self-sabotage and the goals I have for this upcoming season. I'm going to need to face and conquer my fears if I ever want to see my full potential . . .

Do you struggle with a healthy weight? What helpful hints keeps you on track? And have you ever been within reach of your goal but then you unconsciously sabotaged yourself from reaching that goal?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Road Blocks

It never fails. Every time I seem to get things on track--training, diet, work--the universe decides things are too orderly, I'm making too much progress, it must step in and derail me.

Actually, this time it was completely my own fault. Things had been going great. I'd been following a healthy, whole-foods diet. I'd been sticking to my new training plan. I had energy! I was productive! I was knocking things off the to-do with grace and stellar efficiency.

In fact, I was feeling so good, that I was dancing around while folding the laundry last Thursday evening. And, silly me, I'd left one of the laundry baskets in the middle of the room. As I was moon-walking backwards across the room while folding a towel, the inevitable happened. I tripped backwards over the basket, falling hard and knocking my head on the floor.

My first thought was: I'm such an IDIOT! My second thought, this is bad. Bad. Very bad. I was certain I was going to die from a brain hemorrhage. Caused by my poor moon walking. While folding a towel.

I did manage to crawl off the floor, grab an ice pack and slump into my lazy boy. There was no way I was getting in my workout after that. Friday, I was just thankful I woke up and didn't die in my sleep.

By Friday evening it was starting to set in: whip-lash. I had whip-lash last year, after a bad mountain biking accident. I could not believe how debilitating it was! I could hardly drive, move my head from side to side, in fact, I could barely lift my head. When I tried getting out of bed in the morning, I couldn't sit up, I had to roll over, slide onto the floor and shimmy onto my knees. It was agonizing and great fodder for an embarrassing youtube video.

4-5 Days of self-induced rest for me. Whip-lash is no fun and I don't want to make things worse. Better to rest and heal up than try to soldier on and create a bigger problem.

Ah, almost forgot. It's Valentine's Day! No special plans for us. I'll probably make something heart-shaped for the kiddos for dinner and write them little love-notes to stash under their pillows. Last but not least, there are some chocolate covered strawberries in the fridge for the adults to enjoy tonight.

Happy Valentine's Day

Friday, February 10, 2012

Somethin' Right

Most days I feel completely lost as a parent. Other days I feel like a failure. But, there's brief moments where I feel like maybe something, just something might be going okay.

For the last 2 years, the one pictured on the right would complain and cry and stomp over whatever was for dinner. It didn't matter if it was spaghetti or chicken or something she loved a week earlier: that day she hated it! Ugh.

Sick of being a made-to-order chef and dealing with the tantrums, I decided to put the responsibility back on the Kids. Hah! Hahahahahahahaha!

Now, every Sunday night the kids, yes, even the 2 year old, have to contribute to the meal planning. Everyone is responsible for planning one meal a week. To make it fair, we draw days of the week. The day you draw is the night of your meal. There is a structure to the meal planning that includes a main dish and two servings of veggies.

When I started this, I thought we'd end up eating Pizza and French Toast every night. Turns out I was wrong pleasantly surprised.
Two months in and the system is still going strong and very popular with the kids. One of my daughter's favorite meals is a Giant Salad topped with sunflower seeds and dijon vinaigrette and a half sandwich on the side.

My son alternates between Oviolees (ravioli), Sloppy O's (bbq sandwiches), or mac and cheese. For sides its either broccoli and cauliflower or green beans or even a small salad.

And in case you are wondering how we fit in our vegetables on a night the kids pick pancakes, chocolate oatmeal or french toast--we do Green Smoothies.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quick and Effective Workouts

I'm a fortunate person in that I work from home most of the time. This gives me pockets of flexibility that I absolutely do not take for granted. I have an extra hour in the morning where the rest of the world is getting themselves presentable, packing lunches, and briefcases and scurrying to rush out the door.

Not me. I play with my kids, cuddle them, and gently coax them through their morning routine. Once I scootch them out the door with their dad, I do my taxing commute of descending a dozen stairs and sitting at my desk.

Lunch hour? I can go for a run, a bike ride, or both! No shower needed afterwards. There's no one here but the cats to impress. And lets face it, there's nothing I can do that will impress them.

This month, however, the trifecta of work emergencies/disasters has struck. I am finding myself working before the sun rises, through lunch, and the second my husband gets home from work, I descend the stairs and am at my desk for at least 3-4 more hours. There is no free hour to spare for training.

Which is adding to my anxiety! I have a race in 7 weeks . . . Now is not the time to be anchored to a desk. Fortunately, I have an arsenal of quickie workouts I do when I have 5, 10, or even just 15 minutes. I use those to get through a couple of days until I can get in an hour spin.

Here is my super-quickie workouts:
10-min: 50 kettlebell swings, Turkish Get-Ups (6 ea. side), 50 Jumping Jacks
15-min: 50 kettlebell swings, Turkish Get-Ups, 50 Juming Jacks, Bulgarian Squats, 10 push-ups
20-min: 15 min of intervals on the exercise bike, Kettlebell swings, pushups

Getting involved in a project on the computer is great, but spending hours at my desk reaks havoc on my back. My other tip is to set the timer on my oven for 75 minutes. Every 1:15 minutes I have to get up, run up the stairs and reset the alarm. I usually do a couple of quick stretches before I sit back down at my desk. When I'm in the office, I do something similar. I keep a small cup of water to sip on while I work. As soon as its empty its time to get up, stretch, walk around and refill my cup.

And, if all else fails and I get to the end of the day realizing I didn't do a darn thing, I challenge the husband to a "Plank-off" before bed. We assume the Plank position and see who can hold the pose the longest. I always lose.

These mini-workouts mentally keep me moving forward. So I missed my 9-mile run this week, it's okay. And I missed my 90 minute trainer workout. That's going to happen. But I have not completely fallen off the wagon, I have successfully continued my losing streak in the Plank-Off last night.