Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sub Two Days...

As I sit here at the northern terminus of the Arrowhead State Trail about to begin my 2013 racing season at the opposite border that began my 2012 season, I am completely overcome with a deep gratitude and love for this epic journey that is my life.

Breathing in the cold air, I realize that I feel confident in my preparation. My gear underwent a few adjustments with the most notable being a better vapor barrier layer system. My training over the past four months has put me where I need to be. Unfortunately, I did contract a really nasty cold that started on Tuesday. I can't tell you the last time I had a cold or was sick, so the timing for this was far less than ideal. Nonetheless, coughing up a lung or two and enduring some wicked muscle aches, fever and chills for the past couple days has found me without much of a voice, but feeling MUCH better than I did on Wednesday. Drugs and cold medicines are the worst thing one can do to remedy a cold, so I went with sleep, orange juice and trust in my immune system to do what it was designed to do and kill this crap. Although I still sound like a frog when trying to form words, I have plan to execute and a race to finish.

We rolled out of town yesterday evening and drove straight through. Having three drivers was great and I slept probably twelve of the eighteen hour drive from Denver. It was a bit chilly when we rolled in:

As of a couple hours ago the Mandatory Gear Check is complete:

Wanna watch us two clowns roll big tires across northern Minnesota?

Check out trackleaders and watch the dots go..Next stop: Fortune Bay Casino.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Greatest Self Challenge

My amazing Santa Claus got me yoga for Christmas. Thank you, Santa.

Unlimited yoga classes--from high intensity bust-my-ass yoga sculpt to hot yoga to relaxing slow flow and restorative (think of being in hero's pose for 4 minutes--yummy for the knees) and everything in between--have been a real treat for me. Podcasts and crappy rec center classes have been my practice for the last year, so being guided by people who live and breathe yoga has been inspiring. My body and mind love the time on the mat.

I love riding my Pugsley to the studio after being out riding in full Arrowhead training gear/mode. A couple weeks ago (before this 45F crap we are seeing in January) I would start my training ride when the thermometer was below 10F, roll in a couple hours later and spend an hour and a half in 100F yoga studio and then return home for a cool down in sub 10F.  Walking to the front desk and scanning my card in full helmet and goggles, winter mittens and Sorels did garner some looks of disbelief and a few questions from those clothed in the cutest, latest Prana fashions, but they soon got used to it.

Yoga allows me to harness, receive, direct and disperse energy. I dump personal weakness, fear and negativity off the sides of my mat and open my heart and soul to let the light and grace of God enter. I use it as a time to heal my old wounds, get in touch with my inner strength or simply just absorb the precious moment with lifted eyes and a heart wide open. Taking this beyond the mat and living it more on a daily basis is a challenge I am whole-heartedly embracing in 2013.

Another challenge I started last night was the "Greatest Self Challenge:"

Although I will most likely practice 30 times in the next 30 days,  I am NOT doing this for the $20 retail bucks, nor am I really doing this for myself. Instead I am doing it for the three people who were shot by some crackhead in the apartment complex I ride past everyday on my way to the yoga studio.

That one hit close--too close--to home.

I have decided that, in every final savasana for the next 30 days, I will send out healing energy and ask God to comfort and help all the recent shooting victims and their families--from the Aurora theater to Sandy Hook to the ones we don't see all over the news.

Because the world is hurting and while I can't fix or solve it, I can take my focus off myself, hope, pray and believe with all my energy that we will, in fact, heal from this. I believe that it is in the realm of possibility to find kindness for those we don't really like, compassion and love for those who really need it, to help those who yearn for but try not to show it, and to reach out to the "weird, lonely person"  and recognize how much beauty they possess.

Whenever I hear this song, it evokes tears, yet leaves me with hope--a hope that kindness, gentleness, non-material priorities and mercy will prevail in the end. We have some healing and rebuilding to do.

"One by one could we turn it around?"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Power of Silence

Four below felt peaceful this morning as I pedaled through the serene, silent world before sunrise above 10K'. As the miles ticked away, the sunlight crept in and lit the peaks where my heart resides and my mind never fully departs.

The daily noise of life sometimes clutters the thoughts. An undulating snowy road is my choice method of decluttering.

Then the road ends and return becomes mandatory, but not without long glances over my shoulder at this...

As I returned to the gravel and back to the noise, I paid gratitude to the early morning silence that regenerates, refreshes and reawakens...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Echo Lake and 12 Hrs of WHY??

As I sit and look at the Denver sunshine, I continue to ruminate my memories, thoughts and lessons learned from the past year. I started writing the familiar and highly overdone best/worst tribute post, but it doesn't really work for me. I then shifted my focus and tried to pick several memorable moments. After a bit of work, I soon realized that the whole thing was going to end up being a list of links to previous entries. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that writing a year-end recap before the year was over was too soon. Why? Because everyday, good or bad, of 2012 is part of this adventure dubbed my life. Thus, I am still trying to harness my year into some form of an organized and meaningful menagerie of words. I often wish I could blog from the seat of my bike or in final savasana on the yoga mat. The words dance gracefully in my head, the sentences are harmonious and the world is a stream of clarity. If I could get these thoughts, inspirations and words onto paper in the same way, my Pulitzer prize worthy book would be in publishing right now. Why is it when I open my laptop, the words trip and stumble out instead of dancing gracefully, the sentences seem out of tune and the stream now seems like a watering hole for a herd of cattle?

Maybe that I will learn in 2013.

So, until I get the cowshit out of my stream of writing, I give you the adventures of the final two days of 2012:

Freeze training in the form of 3K' of climbing on the loaded Pugs followed by a windy, cold descent. My gear kept me warm and my legs somehow got the heavy two-wheeled beast to the top.

New Year's Eve found me as a participant in the 11th (!!!!) Annual 12 Hrs of Handy, which I renamed 12 Hrs of WHY?

This is a mental sufferfest of 12 hours on the spin trainer. Yeah. From noon to midnight yesterday, we rode the spin trainers. We watched movies, ran a live feed from the living room, but predominantly, pedaled out of 2012 and into 2013. We had a couple friends join us for about 4 hours. They came at the halfway point and brought a ton of energy and laughs. Thanks, Matt, Lance and Debbie!!

Ha! Until the New Year crept closer and closer and the bean bag beckoned....

I wish I had a tally of all the "You are nuts!" "No thank you!" "Are you crazy?" texts, messages and comments. Who does this? Who intentionally sits for 12 excruciating hours and pedals? Not many. I never dreamed I would do this to myself, but going in, I used it as a challenge--a challenge to see if I could mentally handle this amount of suck.

When 2013 came, I was definitely ready to NOT be sitting on that seat, but all in all, it wasn't that difficult physically. My legs, knees and hips were kind of tired and as mentioned, my seat wanted no part of that bike seat anymore, but mostly I gained confidence in my ability to maintain and assert mental fortitude with the ultimate goal of overcoming the inherent obstacles in 135 miles of cold Minnesota trail in a month.

Yep, always an adventure in my corner of the planet....clear up to the final seconds of the year.