Friday, March 30, 2012

Schooled in San Diego

So, after our northern exposure, on Wednesday, Michael and I went south to spend a quick night in the San Diego area visiting friends.  We enjoyed the evening with them, spent lots of time playing catch up and feeling awed at how much energy children take (they have two - a boy and a girl, almost 3 and 5).
The stay in Oceanside, Ca was brief - just an evening - but it felt like a total getaway!  I realize that San Diego is a mere 1.5-2 hours (or 4, depending on traffic) away from the LA area, but in the six years that we've been in LA together, this was our first time to the San Diego area together.  We are officially lame. What is funny is that we'll be returning in a few short weeks, so maybe we'll become well-acquainted with San Diego and its environs.
Despite the brevity of the visit, we were able to take in some of the beach culture.  We had a pre-dinner snack at a taco stop called "Bull Taco".  They weren't the best tacos ever, but we hit happy hour, so they gave us a free taco which we happily scarfed down.  As we ate, we felt very non-beachy.  Or, at the very least, we weren't cloaked in skate-boarding or surfing culture.
Since we were by the water, I had big plans for Thursday morning:  Open Water Swim.  You know, we were right by the beach, staying close to the start line of the Oceanside 70.3, slated to take place on March 31 which is tomorrow.
So, yesterday morning, I suited up, and Michael and I hit the beach just south of the Oceanside pier, despite knowing that the water was in the mid 50's.  I learned last year that swimming, for me, is pretty much a mental game.  So, while I feel stronger in the pool in these days, translating that to a lake or ocean is a completely different experience.  I thought about my last ocean swim - in Santa Barbara on a fairly balmy August morning.  That wasn't a fast swim, but I felt comfortable in the water.  Seemed like a stark contrast to the chilly, grey morning in San Diego.  Still, I managed to not freak out when my feet touched the cold water and kept going out.  That is, until one wave after another started to crash.  And then kept crashing.  I finally got beyond what I thought was the break point and then a huge wave hit me and pushed me 20 feet back to the shore.  Really?  I think I spent 15 minutes trying to get beyond the waves before I decided that it was ridiculous.  By the time I had moved beyond the waves (if that ever happened), I'd be too exhausted to swim.  So, I decided that the fact that my feet were numb and that I had gotten in a few strokes and that no hyperventilating had ensued, it was a productive open-water experience.  Not a swim, but an experience!
As I struggled out of the wetsuit in the bathroom, right by the Expo area for Saturday's race, a woman who was volunteering starting chatting with me.  She was in charge of the swimmers entering and exiting the water - kind of cool!  I felt like a fraud because it looked like I had been a badass, going out for a morning swim.  Not quite...
The other two thoughts that came to mind yesterday morning had to do with the Oceanside race.  Back in the fall, I seriously contemplated signing up for Oceanside.  In fact, I would have pulled the trigger, but by the time I decided that I wanted to sign up for it, the race was sold out.  Now, I feel that I dodged a bullet.  Maybe I would have been ready.  Maybe.  But that swim would have killed me, unless the waves are less brutal just a bit north of where I was swimming.
The second thought was "HOLY SHIT".  Because, while I am not participating in Oceanside tomorrow, I *am* signed up for a 70.3 race in Boulder.  I've suddenly realized that while I'm in good shape for an Olympic tri in May, I've got a lot of work to do before August 5!
So, the swim - kind of a bust.  However, we returned north to LA, stopping briefly in Santa Ana, CA for some street tacos (amazing! and I need to start eating better now!), and then I put in a good swim at the pool.  Not the same, I know, but definitely more productive in some ways than just getting battered for an hour by the ocean while not really swimming at all.
And the trip south - overall, a good trip that makes me want to head back south when it's warmer!  And I'd like to dip into the water for a real swim one of these days.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Break 2012 - Northern travels

A friend of mine, also a teacher, recently stated that she thought that there were 60 days in the month of March.  Perhaps the anxious anticipation makes it worse as I mentally cross off the days, hoping to survive, to make it, as I claw my way through the days until spring break.  This past Friday, att 2:30 on the dot, more or less, I happily gathered up all of my crap and by 2:40 or so had closed my classroom and office door and was almost home.  By 3:00, Michael and I had packed the car and were pulling away from the driveway, waving good-bye to the boys, Gus and Milo, as we headed north, anticipating a weekend full of food and fun and rain.  Yep, not the greatest forecast but what could we do?!  I was looking forward to the weekend, one that was blissfully free of plans in San Francisco, open to whatever whim came upon us!

We lucked out in terms of traffic, making it to Monterey, CA by 7:30 pm.  The quick trip up to the Central Coast offered the usual array of rolling hills, flecked with green and gold grass and wildflowers.  While these are the usual springtime views, I'll never tire them!  Crossing into the Monterey County border, I always feel that I've entered Steinbeck country.  Not that the landscape changes much, but the farm land is inescapable as we pass through King City, Soledad, Gonzalez and skirt along Salinas.  Then, the landscape changes with a sharp turn east to the Monterey Peninsula as the cypress trees emerge and the air smells like salt.  Thanks to the quick trip up, we were just able to take in the hills and trees in Monterey and arrived in time for dinner at an old favorite, the Monterey Fish House, where we stuffed ourselves full of food!  Not a bad start to the weekend.

We awakened Saturday morning to a gloomy but not YET rainy day.  Still, it was windy and cold, and Michael realized at that moment that he had forgotten his rain jacket.  We also did not seem to have an umbrella in the car despite being fully cognizant of the 110% chance of rain!  Obviously we were going to pay for our usual lack of planning (forgotten tent poles and rain fly at Wildflower last year...)!  At any rate, we enjoyed a lazy morning in the Monterey area before heading on to San Francisco.

By the time we started the drive north, the rain had started to fall, and it continued for the rest of the day, just a constant, steady stream.  Once in the city, we picked up two umbrellas and planned to sort of explore a part of the city that the rain would not affect: the Ferry Terminal!
It did not look like this, however, since the sun was not out.

Also, what seemed like a great idea - go to the Ferry Building since it's raining - turned out to be what every other person visiting San Francisco must have had in mind.  We're so smart and original!  Seriously, it was packed.  I had hoped to eat oysters and drink a beer at the Hog Island Oyster Company, but the line was about 30 or 40 people deep.  I ended up cursing for the entire hour that we were there, heaping blame on myself for the weather and for planning to come up this particular weekend!  As if I could control the weather...
Since oysters were out of the question, we settled for a latte and devised a rainy evening plan: a movie and dinner!
We went to a late afternoon showing of "The Artist".  Yes, it won an Academy, yes, tons of people gushed on and on about it, yes, it is a silent film of a sort.  And I loved it.  Call me clichĂ© and conventional, easily manipulated, that's fine, but I did find that this is, to me, a rare film that is truly delightful, in a fun, poignant and sometimes whimsical way.  It was the perfect rainy-day movie to enjoy and savor!  After the movie, we spent Saturday evening splitting pizza and beers at Little Star, probably our favorite pizza place ever!  We've had it several times as take-out, eating at some friends' place, but had never experienced the Little Star dine-in experience which was the perfect conclusion to our rainy day in the city.

Sunday deserves a separate post which will soon follow, but I will say that the weather cooperated, much to our surprise as we spent a good part of of the morning and afternoon in Marin.  As we returned to the city, the good weather continued to hold, and Michael suggested a quick stop: Fort Funston, also known as "Dog Heaven". Although we were canine-free, we enjoyed hiking down to the beach and then walking along a beautiful stretch of it.  

Once we had worn ourselves out with the walk back up from the beach, we were soon hungry for dinner at Zuni Cafe, one of those "landmark" San Francisco restaurants.  I had eaten there a few years ago for lunch, but this seemed like a great place to share a meal and experience with Michael.  I felt quite responsible for Michael's experience, but fortunately the great food and service exceeded any and all expectations that we had.  Again, we went to bed stuffed and content and wishing that we lived in San Francisco and envious of all those who did!

On Monday, we again drove north to Marin to Muir Woods, and the experience left the two of us even more envious of our Northern friends than our dinner on Sunday night.  While Southern CA offers a range of hikes, I felt such a sense of awe and total happiness as we made our way through the lush, dense forest, the trees dwarfing us as they created a canopy that we walked through until we were suddenly out of the forest and into the open, the green, rolling hills of Marin County all around us. The hike was only about two hours, but it felt as though we had been gone for days, alone on the trail, as we returned to our car, surprised to find the parking lot bustling with people heading in and out in a mundane sort of way.
Here I am on the trail:

Here's a slimy little friend we saw:

And here I am again - still on the trail:

As a final hoorah, we returned to the Ferry Terminal.  I was still on a quest for oysters and ate my fill this time - we split a half-dozen, and then I ordered another half-dozen.  Totally decadent, I know!  We also took in the great views of the Bay and snapped photos of the Bay Bridge.

By Monday night, we were plenty exhausted but very content from the day's excursion - and from the entire weekend in the city!  With much reluctance, we said our goodbyes to San Francisco and returned to the Southland.  However, we did bring a few reminders of San Francisco with us (donuts, macarons, soap, crackers, pizza, about half a chicken leftover from dinner, an open bottle of wine...).  I felt a bit like a gypsy, returning home with so many goods, but it is nice to bring some of Northern CA back home.

For me, this was one of the best travels/trips I've experienced recently (like 3-4 years?).  It left both of us feeling somewhat rested and rejuvenated as we seemed to strike the right balance between running around to do stuff and just relaxing.  Unlike our usual visits to the SF Bay area, we made only one social visit, and I think that we enjoyed sticking to our own schedule rather than having to keep an eye on the clock as we moved from one social visit to another.  One final thought - we stayed in a studio apartment in the Castro, and while I do like staying at a fine and fancy hotel, the apartment also felt more relaxing.  We had to deal with street parking, but that was never an issue and I'll take that to paying the big bucks for a parking structure anytime!  I think that the apartment made us feel as though we were almost a part of the fabric of the city because we stayed in a true neighborhood where "normal" people live day in and day out.  

We definitely left the city with pangs of envy and with a much lighter pocketbook!  We'll have to start saving soon for our  next trip north!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Getting lost on a ride

It's been a funny week - I'm still going through a cycle of insomnia but I've managed to function throughout the week.  Last night wasn't too bad, but Monday night was pretty hellish - I woke up at 1:11. Or at least that's when I looked at my phone, hoping that the time would be either a few hours earlier or later.  No such luck.  Tuesday night I mercifully slept until 4:00 or so.  At that point, I just stayed awake until 5:00 am and then I went for an early morning swim.  It was so strange being at the pool when it was dark but also a cool experience to swim outside, in the dark, yet feel perfectly safe and more relaxed than my daytime swims.  During the day, there is such a hustle and bustle - swim team! dive team! water aerobics class!  regular swim classes!  crazy intense people!  not great swimmers who refuse to circle swim! parents swarming! That morning, I actually had an entire lane to myself for the whole 35 minutes and everyone seemed so focused and also meditative. Of course, by 9:00 am, I felt more than ready for a nap which didn't happen.

Today was a gorgeous spring day, and although I debated going for a ride versus a run versus doing nothing, I managed to talk myself onto the saddle and out the door (not in that order).  I figured that if I went out for 20-30 minutes and decided that I wasn't feeling it, I'd head home.  At the very least, that would give me 40 minutes or so of movement. However, once I was on the bike, it felt great to enjoy the afternoon's warmth as I moved in and out of the shade.  I planned to follow a pretty typical path, zooming (for me) along some local streets and then head down to the Rose Bowl for a few loops.  However, as I was headed towards the Rose Bowl, I decided to challenge myself and take a back way that would include a nice climb or two.  I was definitely meandering down a road that I felt confident that I knew slightly from a ride about a year ago.  At a certain point, I had to turn, so I went left and shot further downhill.  Suddenly, I saw an overpass that did not look at all as though I was in Pasadena or anywhere that I thought I was.  And, it wasn't!  Not that I ended up in Santa Monica or something crazy like that.  But I had managed to land in Glendale, not too far off track, but far enough that I cursed myself and my terrible sense of direction.  What was worse, to me, was that I had enjoyed a tremendous descent to get to this point, so now I was heading uphill for a few miles!  I initially felt pretty frustrated with myself, and then I decided to think about the situation - Chevy Chase and Linda Vista, the streets that were/are so familiar but not really, are very bike-friendly and offer some fun parts that wind around the hills.  The uphill trudge was, indeed, a trudge, but it is good to remind myself that climbing builds character.  Also, I don't suck at it!  Finally, it was kind of cool to suddenly find myself unexpectedly in a different part of town.  Had it not been a Thursday with lots of obligations and 'to-do' items hovering over me, I would have taken my time and pedaled around until I hit the familiar haunts of Eagle Rock.  Even though I couldn't reap full benefit from my off-track experience, it's good for me to remember that surprises in life are good.  I also realized from this experience that biking does offer more opportunity to explore and to get lost than running does.  While I often stick close to the usual paths and routes, being able to wander, even if just for an hour, is such a relief from the usual schedule and close attention to the what and where at all times.

On a final note, it was definitely more of a challenge and less repetitive than the ride that I had planned, and there is nothing wrong with that!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Patagonia wannabe

Well, based on this Slate article I read on Saturday morning, I am a yuppie, dog-walking, fleece-wearing wannabe, the target of Yvonne Chouinard's scorn.  I think I'll take his scorn.  As much as I would like to ditch my job, responsibilities (dogs, husband, bills), and dedicate myself to the outdoor lifestyle that Patagonia promotes and/or romanticizes, I must admit that I happen to like much about the life that we've created, even if it doesn't live up to the Patagonia ideal of spending a season climbing in Yosemite or Joshua Tree or heli skiing in Colorado or trekking in Asia.
What did resonate in the article was that the author of the article shared his memory of his first Patagonia jacket.  I'm not sure if it was my first Patagonia purchase, but I do still remember buying a blue pull-over with a zip neck collar when I ran my first and last marathon, Philly, 1996.  I am proud to say that I still possess that pullover shirt and it makes an appearance at least once a year.  At this point, it is a well-loved article that I almost hesitate to put on because I worry that it might disintegrate while on my back.  It has seen me through good and bad times, that is for sure.

Here is a good time:
Taking a snack break while on the trail up to Pear Lake.

And here is a photo of me being a yuppie dog walker:
Photo taken at the original Patagonia workshop in Ventura, where Chouinard began the company!

I'll admit that I'm definitely not hard-core at much of anything these days.  While I can spend a few nights in a tent, I do prefer the comforts of a mattress and nice linens, and I like being clean more days than not.  This means that I'll never be "sponsored" by Patagonia, but I'll continue to sport some of my favorite clothes!
And, just looking at old pictures of myself all "geared up" does make me want to hit the trails.  Maybe this weekend?

Friday, March 16, 2012

On tap for the weekend!

I gleefully left work this afternoon, so ecstatic that I survived the crappy week that I almost ran home.  While I've been more than aware of my crappy mood, apparently other people took note.  Someone mentioned that I seemed to have a "black cloud over [my] head these days".  Nothing like a Friday to keep the black cloud at bay.
Speaking of running, the weekend has started out on a very positive note so far: one 10k (two loops around the Rose Bowl) at a decent clip for me.  It's been a while that I actually tried to run fast, and to do so for 6 miles or so was definitely a challenge.  Upon returning home, I scarfed down a ton of food, iced my knee, and then took a nap.
As I said, a great beginning!
On the agenda for the rest of the weekend:
- Pizza tonight, Mexican tomorrow night, and good conversations with friends.  I realize that the food choices definitely contradict my affirmation yesterday that I'm working on being an adult since I clearly am eating like a teenager.  The only difference is that Ican drink legally.  Obviously there are plenty of teenagers who drink, but I do hope that my drink choices are better than theirs.  But, yes, pizza and Mexican food and hanging with friends - how can it get any better than that?
- Heal the Bay Beach clean-up tomorrow morning.  This wouldn't be much to write about, except that the first winter storm all winter (or so it seems) is supposed to hit the Southern CA area, bringing with it tons of wind and rain.  So, yeah, cleaning up the beach while the rain is pelting us?  It sounds kind of appealing.  I will definitely be in head-to-toe Gortex.  Ah, these are the times that I am thankful that I lived in Seattle for two years.
- A 90-minute-spin session.  The studio shot out an email announcing that, because of the rain, they would offer a not-usually scheduled class tomorrow afternoon.  I haven't been to a class taught by this instructor, but apparently he is a cyclist, not *just* a spin instructor (nothing wrong with people who just spin, but I've found that it's a different experience).  Anyway, I'm psyched about it and also nervous that the class is going to kick my butt.
While I do have a stack of papers to wade through, these activities do make me feel buoyed, giving me a certain amount of confidence that I *will* make it to next week!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ambivalence about adulthood

Over the past few years I've learned that creeping responsibilities and maturity have hindered my more puerile preferences and tendencies, and I've taken on more and more trappings of being a functional, mature adult.  Obviously being in an committed relationship and checking off the married box on different forms gives me a greater sense of being settled, and it makes other people see me as an old married lady.  Then, there is the age thing - no way I can get around that!
Despite these labels and the outward acknowledgements of getting older and, maybe, wiser, I often struggle with the idea of adulthood and maturity.  My recent stress flare-up has everything to do with the fact that I'm "in charge" of other adults, and obviously that role seems to challenge me since I spend hours doubting my competence.  Add to that, the grey hairs that continue to spring about my head, threatening to overtake my still-glossy brunette locks (ha ha).  I often entertain the fantasy of getting in the car and leaving everything behind just so that I can be on my own.  You know, the old open road = freedom and adventure metaphor.
Over the past few days (weeks, months, years), I have spent time thinking about what the idea of being an adult means to me.  Not that there are easy answers, but I would like to say that I'm at least making choices about taking on more stress and responsibility.  No one TOLD me to take on a new position, and I knew that it would push me in different ways, and that was one of the reasons that I did want to take on the challenge.  Also, my greatest joys happen to come from the responsibilities that I have or have had.  Today, I briefly saw students who had graduated a few years ago, and even though it was a short encounter, it reminded me of why I *really, really* like this job.  And then, there are our dogs, Gus and Milo.  Talk about responsibility!  While they are not as demanding as children, they are all the children that we plan to have, and I have, to put it mildly, grown attached to them.

The boys in Santa Barbara.

A few recent purchases put into my mind the whole "adult" thing too.  On Saturday, I used a gift card and bought new work shoes.  To me, they are just sooooo middle-aged, proper, responsible and schoolmarmish.  Terrible, in other words.  Everything that I would like to reject! However, they were comfortable and not ugly, so I bought them.  I wore them today, all day, standing up, walking around, pacing back and forth, striding around, and they are great!  But, without a doubt, they make me feel OLD.  
On the other hand, we just got a new bed - our first bed purchased together as a couple after 6 years!  It is a definite upgrade for us, and I can't wait to either sleep deeply on it or toss and turn all night.  Either way, I'll feel like I've "arrived" as an adult, just because we have a new bed!  
So, there are major positives about this whole adulthood thing.  I suppose that I can trade the lack of freedom to roam for close relationships and an awesome new bed!
Obviously other people fully embrace the adult ethos without hesitation.  Perhaps I do have somewhat of a stunted emotional intelligence, OR maybe I'm honest about the ambivalence I feel about putting myself into that 'adult' box?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I could also call this the "March bit me in the ass" post.  I feel a bit like this:
Deflated.   Source.

I know, lousy clip art, but I am definitely feel frustrated about my life right now.  A flat tire on a ride, actually, would preferable to the stuff that is driving me crazy, mainly because then it could be FIXED, whereas the stuff-driving-me-crazy right now is, for the most part, well beyond my control.  The good news is that I should have a break from a lot of the stressors in just over a week.  However, I still have to survive the next 8 days until next Friday, 2:31 pm.
Breaking down the "what is going on" is actually quite simple.  First of all, it is March, a month that traditionally throws plenty of curve balls at teachers in terms of students starting to miss class for one reason or another (a field trip! a college visit! leaving for a trip! sports!).  Add to that, Issue Number One:  I am having to work with two less-than-organized people on a project, over which I am not in charge, and they are driving me crazy.  Now, I do not consider myself a model of organization.  Any look at my office or school bag would be an immediate give-away of that, but when I have to work with other people, I do try to consider their time and energy and stick to meeting times and let people know well in advance when meetings are.  You know, try to have my proverbial shit together.   
So, that is Issue Number One which happens to cause Issue Number Two:  INSOMNIA.  Now, if anyone took the time to look at my profile, that person would notice that I mention napping as a hobby/interest. Sleep, to me, is vital in order for me to function.  Therefore, I do not enjoy sleepless nights filled with anxiety and frustration.  In fact, I hate them. They do indicate, however, my level of stress.  Thank goodness I don't have a job that produces REAL stress.  It's just crap in my head which prevents me from sleeping and drives me crazy.
Finally, Issue Number Three is the fact that, because of a lack of sleep, I ended up ditching a run and a ride last week because I felt so off.  That is frustrating, but I discovered that what is even worse than skipping a workout is completing a workout with the hope that it will serve as a good, healthy stress-release, only to find that after an hour on a bike, not only did I not manage to unwind on the ride but quite the reverse happened.  I spent the entire time on the bike ruminating over every single shitty thing that happened in the past week.  Maybe I needed more time in the saddle to just leave all my emotional garbage out there, but I'm not sure if I would have been able to do a true and thorough emotional purge.  
I do know that tomorrow is another day, and if I sleep tonight (not likely without Tylenol PM), then I should at least wake up with some expectations that it will be a good day.  Or, if nothing else, not a terrible day!
And, as I move through the days, each one does bring me closer to spring break for which I have great expectations!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Feeling good about March!

Not to totally jinx myself with irrational exuberance, but after a week of mainly sitting around on my butt, I finally kicked things into gear over the weekend and, in my mind, have sharpened my focus.  Funny how signing up for a few races combined with a good, long, challenging ride + a great swim lesson will do that.

After taking a days off due to a quick trip to Chicago for something of a college reunion, I returned to LA totally behind work-wise and feeling a bit 'off' - tired and lacking motivation.  This was a less-than-ideal combination for the week. Due to stress and general busyness, I decided that the whole running/swimming/whatever would just have to go on the back burner until I got my proverbial shit together.  By Thursday, I was ready to never run again since the sofa had become such a comforting place, but I forced myself out the door on a fairly average run.  My legs moved, but the experience seemed quite torturous.   Obviously taking an entire week off from running was not a good idea, although it seemed like one at the time!

However, the Saturday ride served as a good reminder for all that is right and good in with me when I make my body move around.  Then, on Sunday, I went to a swim lesson!  Last year, I discovered that swim lessons were incredibly helpful, not only because I focus on form and speed in a way that I just don't do when I'm on my own but also because they do build my confidence.  With that in mind, a 3-week commitment to swim lessons seemed like a good idea when I signed up, but then as the 11:00 am hour grew closer on Sunday, I contemplated forgoing the experience.  Again, I felt nervous and shy and awkward (how old am I?), but I decided to deal with it, especially since I had already paid for the class.  Minor motivator there.  However, it ended up being the best hour of the day.  Okay, that might have been the nap in the afternoon, but the lesson was awesome!  I knew the instructor from last year's swim lessons, and the hour in the pool was a fun learning experience.  Even better, I felt strong!  Not on everything, especially when I had to work on my breast stroke technique, for which I now have an 'assignment' - do 300 yards or meters of just kicks at least once a week.  Oh my!  But it was a great lesson, and I'm now looking forward to my classes the next two Sundays!

Finally, after spending the past two months feeling a bit lost because of a lack of actual 'events', I've turned a corner and now have, for myself, a somewhat ambitious April and May schedule.  Nothing too crazy, but I signed up for TWO events!  The first, the Devil Dog Duathlon, should be good training for the Wildflower tri.  I signed up for this event last year, with that idea in mind, and then skipped it because I was still dealing with a foot injury.  I have no specific goal except to enjoy and finish the race on a strong note, whatever that means.  I have some experience with the second event, the Mt. Wilson trail race, but not as an official runner, so I am looking forward to an official time this year, provided that I don't fall off the side of the mountain!  What is even more exciting, I think, is that I will have somewhat of a partner in crime - Michael will run a 5K while I run, bike, run for the Duathlon and he is officially registered for Mt. Wilson as well.  I know that he is faster on the downhill than I, so I'm going to have to be speedy on the ascent if I want to beat him.  Nothing like some friendly spousal competition!

It always surprises me what a difference a week or just a few days can make in my mood and overall worldview (weltanschauung).  Knowing that there will be at least one race before Wildflower does ease my mind a bit.  I've felt a bit lost without any races on the calendar for January, February and March, so knowing that there IS something out there gives me a sense of purpose.  I understand that there is a myriad of reasons as to why people do any sort of physical and endurance activity, and I know that my 'racing' chops are pretty small in comparison.  However, I appreciate knowing that there is a goal out there, even if it is just to finish or just to beat my time from last year or just to have the experience that I can share with other people!
So, here's to training, here's to events, and here's to staying healthy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Saturday group ride!

Can I state again that one of my major goals for the year is to be become a stronger and, hopefully, faster bike person, and time in the saddle is obviously a crucial step to achieving that goal.  Honestly, it would be hard for me to not become a better cyclist since I'm still pretty weak and almost anything counts as improvement to me.  Besides the physical challenge, another part of this goal is to ride with people - gasp!  I've realized that I do gravitate to the solitude of running, and I am more than happy to clock in miles doing solo rides, but I also think that the bike can offer a shared experience, whether it's a great ride with Michael or pushing myself to step outside my comfort zone and ride with other people.  That would also mean socialize with other people - definitely not one of my strong points.

In order to do these more 'social' rides, I begrudgingly joined a facebook group but until today was reluctant (nervous) to go on one of the group rides.  This morning, however, seemed like the perfect opportunity - a nice loop that was fairly close to home and great weather.  What was I waiting for?  But, when I woke up this morning, I admit that I seriously thought about putting my head in the sand or going out on a solo ride, but I managed to motivate myself and arrived just as everyone was leaving.  I confessed my nervousness in the leader who did reassure me, saying "It's a ride, not a race".

And what a ride it was!  I am pretty psyched that I joined the group for it because it was about 35 miles for me (adding a mile or two on the way to meet the group and then one or two to ride home), but it took us on a nice long climb for many miles, and then we flew down the Angeles Crest Highway, a road on which I'm beginning to feel comfortable, especially on the descent!  I was able to enjoy some of the scenery on the ascent, when I wasn't huffing, puffing and cursing myself and the climb, and I discovered, again, that I don't totally suck, in particular when I'm climbing.  I certainly didn't ride with group A, but I was a strong member of group B.  Cheers to that!

It definitely made me appreciate the group leaders who took time to ride with us slowpokes, and one in particular rode with me when I was so close to one of the many 'summits' (I felt that there were many!) but slowing way down!  I am also questioning my plan/desire for a new bike.  A few of the other people in group B had much nicer bikes than I but it didn't seem to matter that much?  Not only in terms of how I performed on the bike, but no one made fun of me because I have a violet-colored bike with flowers on it.  Big relief there.

I did feel quite awkward socially on occasion, and I would like to blame it on feeling shy and new and nervous and also fatigued from the climbs.  The cycling/tri crowd still intimidates me, but I'm working on it.  Hopefully I didn't sound like a total dingbat.

On a final note, I thought about running after the ride, but when I got home, my legs were pretty shot.  Good call on not running because I hopped in the shower and then I totally bonked.  Kind of crazy - I've never had the experience when I felt nauseous and could barely stand after a longish workout.  Michael was awesome and cooked up some eggs and toast to revive me.  Voilá - I soon bounced back enough to walk to the yogurt place for an afternoon snack.  That was, of course, after a nice nap - just what I needed!  It did, however, make me pause.  Obviously I need to focus more on how I fuel myself.  Speaking of which, Mexican food tonight?  Please, thank you!