Tag Archives: inspiration

Full of something … maybe metaphors

curved road

I find myself coming somewhat full-circle, or perhaps at least semi-circle, on these training rides. Now I feel like I can actually say “training” instead of “so-called training” because doing what I’ve been doing is preparation for what lies ahead this weekend.

Monday, my 52nd birthday, I found myself laughing instead of “riding negative. I had to snicker upon hearing Mike D. rap on my playlist about letting the beat drop at the exact spot where I did that earlier this summer. I fell off my then-new road bike onto the pavement, though it’s been a minute since that happened, and howled at my own expense.

I’ve been learning along the way. First of all, there’s a process to watching what I’m doing instead of worrying so much about what’s going on around me; i.e. the trash on the road that drives me to distraction. Sometimes there’s a price for being distracted.

An overarching lesson I’ve learned is to tuck in the elbows from these T-Rex arms and coast downhill as fast as possible to gain momentum on the next one. I think of that every time I’m trying to surmount an incline and hope to ride out most of it. 

Monday gave me the simple epiphany of, “Don’t look up that hill.” I approached from a slight incline, grasping to gain that extra tiny burst of energy it’d provide, perked my ear up for any oncoming traffic, then braved a corner to slowly creep up to the top of that next mountain (actually, a hill). And I conquered that damn hill for the first time. That’s when I accepted the metaphor for the whole marathon. Just. Quit. Looking. Up. The. Hill. You’ll get there somehow.

Just like Sunday will get here somehow.

I’ve been having fun as well, even if I didn’t think I might at first. My friend and I have learned we can at least laugh at ourselves. Those hills look so much easier from behind the wheel of a car.

The marathon going to happen whether I dread it or not. But I can do it. There’s no use in being afraid of what’s to come. Much like eating an elephant, you take it one bite (hill) at a time. I’ve often used that analogy on my students and now have to own it.  

My favorite part so far has been when I’ve listened for approaching traffic, thinking I’ve heard approaching tires, and then realizing it’s the sound of my own. My own tires and my own power propelling me forward. It’s happened twice, much to my delight. 

While this hasn’t been easy, there’s no EASY button from Staples like I’d wish, it’s gotten easier. Not much in life is easy, but seemingly requires less stress-filled effort with time.

My muscles being stronger, the slow emergence of quads and calf muscles, has made those hills do-able. Monday’s ride through the park was my cool-down instead of the first leg of each short journey like it was back in May.

So in hopes I’m not full of shit, just metaphors, I stare at this weekend full of hope and a little less fear, dare I say maybe even excitement. 

Jimmy Dugan

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Too Close For Comfort & “Dos and Don’ts”

sign picThis big ol’ bike ride looms ahead at September’s start. Even though I’m still obviously a bit freaked out, a sense of either denial or calm is inching its way into my brain. I try not to think about it for the most part but still take a few so-called “training” rides throughout the week weather allowing. Staying out of my own head too much is the seemingly insurmountable challenge. 

My muscles feel a little stronger, which I notice during yoga. Poses are more comfortable to do, and I’m not as sore as usual. Still winded more than than I’d like but not aching.  

Some days feel like, while I’m not back at square one, I’m faltering at maybe square two from just taking a few days off from so-called training rides. Then another day brings what other more athletic people might call being in “the zone,” something I’ve never previously experienced in my lifetime. It’s those last minutes when I’m nearing the turn into our cul-de-sac and a burst of energy hits me that I can retake the two hills I’d first sucked wind on that morning. A Jonny Cash tune kicks my butt into gear and pushes me maybe just a quarter-mile further but onward nonetheless. 

Those are the same hills that first kicked my ass a few months ago. Now they’re not as difficult to traverse. Maybe I’ve even conquered a few of them. Others still definitely suck. I just don’t want to go on an uphill crying jag in the middle of the MS150. 

bike pic

inertia/picture break

I’ve learned several things through this process. Kezia and I started a list of things to remember beyond the one I began when first blogging about these lessons along the way.

What TO DO and what NOT TO DO:

DO:

Carb load the night before for immediately usable energy

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

DO NOT:

Drink more than one serving of alcohol the night before

Eat spicy or fried foods either (or pay the price)

Eat or drink too much at any of the sporadic breaks

These are all good things to remember! I must also remind myself of the strong women in my corner:

The aforementioned Kezia says she’ll stay with me throughout the 150 miles, but I don’t want to keep her at my eight-mph pace instead of our earlier-attained 14-mph rate. She’s a big moral support regardless of what happens. 

My sister Jeanna sent me a letter reinforcing I can do this since in light of the fact that so far I’ve overcome some snot-rocket-filled training rides and one pretty long stretch with less-than favorable bowel circumstances. 

I also think of my sister Christy and her strength in all she’s done. I’ve never told her how very, very strong I find her to be with all she’s triumphed in doing. Her energy is with me when the familiar scent of Monterey/Carmel washes over me as I pass a neighboring stretch of pines. 

And Mom always stays close to me and my blue heart when thoughts of her fill my head. Her “holy pahzing” came to me UB40 came on my playlist. That feeling reminds me how she was, much like the song says, there right from the start and always will be. A cardinal flying across my path gives me a needed blessing from above (and no copyright issues, LOL).   

 

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Top Ten All Time Favorite Characters In Books

Image

This meme was inspired by Kate at Book Lover Musings, who got it from The Broke & the Bookish.

1. Scout Finch, of course, from To Kill A Mockingbird. The character of Scout encompasses all the eccentricities of my life-time favorite adventurous girl becoming a wise young woman. She is curious, insightful, brave, caring and funny.

2. Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.  Her story is not a happy one, but this young woman drew strength from her severely dysfunctional upbringing and overcame all strikes she had against her since birth.  She was also super smart!  And to think, I almost didn’t try this one a second time.

3. Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.  Your heart can’t help but break for this little girl when she so wants her father to get better and for their family to survive.  Anyone with a substance abusing parent can relate to Francie’s childhood.

4. Sister from Robert R. McCammon’s Swan Song.  This character was truly off putting at first, but then you could begin to admire her tenacity and survival skill.  Gotta love a good post-apocalypse ass-kicking woman!

5. Taylor in The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver.  Real name: Marietta Greer.  Special purpose: to become an unexpected and somewhat reluctant mother after successfully avoiding teenage pregnancy.  She did well considering.

6. Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I can, unfortunately, imagine a future like the one Oddred endured, where women are stripped of their rights and made to withstand life as a handmaid … that of chattel.  However, I can’t imagine getting through it as well as she did.

7. Mattie Ross in True Grit by Charles Portis.  Not movie Mattie, circa 1969 or 2010, but book Mattie.  She was full of “piss and vinegar,” as my dad would’ve said.  She knew what was rightfully hers and made sure she got it!  No way in the world would I have the guts to go out in the middle of nowhere on a horse with nothing but an antique gun, a bedroll, some frickin’ pone cake, and an attitude.

8. Irena in Scott Simon’s Pretty Birds.  She went through hell at such a young age and developed some interesting coping skills along the way.  It’s not like I wanna be a sniper, but damn!  Even though I’m not one for happy endings, this one was tragic.  I know … I know … it’s fiction, but Simon’s journalistic perspective must have brought this character to life.

9. & 10.  Mariam & Laila from Kahled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns.  Who can imagine a modern-day existence like that?  Middle-eastern women, I suppose.

Shout out for Megan’s post, too, at Love, Literature, Art & Reason.

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