One Woman's Midlife Crisis...

This blog was created in order to share my experience of venturing through insanity and further into the outdoor adventures of backpacking, cycling and general merriment and well-being. First task at hand? Training for the Wine Country Century and AIDS Lifecycle.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Riding, Riding, Riding and Running, Running, Running...

My friend and training partner, Amy, met me in Santa Rosa last night after work for another lovely ride on another lovely day. As she is having some pain from injuries (and preparing for surgery- no good), we decided to skip any climbs and just chat it up from the seats of our bikes.

We headed west on the Joe Rodotta Trail to Sebastopol, looped around to High School Road to Occidental Road, to Stafford and Hall Roads and back around to the bike trail to my house. This was the first ride in which I did not have to wear knee warmers or a jersey with sleeves and it was as lovely as can be.


This morning, I decided to mix things up and headed to Spring Lake after ditching my grumpy kids at school this morning. It has been well over a month since I set out in my running shoes, so I mostly walked and hiked the trails around the lake, running only about half of the 4 mile path. Lovely god damn morning, I tell ya. I am one lucky lady to be living in such a gorgeous part of the planet.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I almost Forgot! Duh!

I am registered!

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I Discovered My Tolerance For Eating Bugs

Another amazingly dreamy weekend of riding from Graton to Forestville, to Windsor and back again through vineyards and pastures and fields of gorgeous fucking wilflowers with my friend, Amy, was followed by a late afternoon/early evening ride from Graton yesterday.

Without a more experienced cyclist acting as our unofficial bike guide through the tear-jerking beauty of the Wine Country, I stepped up and led Amy through a short, 15 mile loop from her home on top of Graton Road to Sullivan Road, back to Graton Road, on to Frei, to Guerneville Road, to Hall, to Stafford, to Occidental and back up the hill to her house, where buffalo burgers sat, waiting to be cooked and consumed along with the Sierra Nevada's in the fridge.

The weather was perfect and we praised daylight savings for provinding our new riding slot just before dinner. As we set out, gliding mostly downhill in the 65+ degree weather, bare arms brushing with the glorious breeze, I had a moment of bliss that spread, in big-ass smile form from ear to ear. Just as the joy of riding reached a peak, however, what I may have mistaken as a swarm of locusts came out of nowhere and began darting down my throat for the following 30 minutes of our ride.


As poor Amy's nose inhaled what we were sure was a paleolithic-sized moth, several small fly-like creatures lodged their ways in between my teeth everytime I opened my trap to take a breath. My face was pelted repeatedly with the smoke-thick army of monster insects and by the time the attack came to an end, I had swallowed about 7-9 unidentified creepy-crawlies and was left with slimy green and red inards across my face and knuckles- evidence of the battle that late-afternoon riders are sure to face in the glorious Sonoma County springtime.

Super, duper gross. And, lesson learned.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Back in the Saddle, Revisited...

My bronchial feelers are mostly better, I've discovered, and I am thrilled to be crawling out of yet another 2+ week long chest cold that has held me hostage and away from my bike for weeks on end. That said, I've discovered some things about myself, my time and my motivation and fears around riding this bike.

First, there is nothing more irritating than feeling an increase in energy that coincides with the rising temperatures outside and planning a lovely ride that falls through at the last minute. Several times in the last few rainy/sunny weeks, my new-found love for saddling up on my two-wheeled wonder has been pushed to the back burner because of the cold hard realities of motherhood. I'd rush home after depositing my kids at school, fill my water bottles and stretch my shiny spandex pants up over my pasty white thighs only to have the school call, asking me to pick up a little sick kid. Frustration, I am embarrassed to admit, tends to overshadow the love and compassion I should have for my kids in these moments. I feel like I am falling behind on my training- I feel like I can't meet my goals and fall short in my motherly love during my drive to school. It is hard to shake, that feeling of annoyance, but I let it humble me as it does in most situations I am presented with as a single mom.

Next, the bike has brought some interesting situations into perspective. Both with relationships I have with the people in my life and the relationship I have with myself. On the days that I am sick or slowly recovering from my recurring health bullshit, he sits there, propped against my bookshelves, daunting me like an old vindictive lover- reminding me that I am getting older, that my body can't and won't bounce back as easily as I would like. I want to shove it in the closet, but instead torture myself with never-ending staring contests that it inevitably wins. I tell it to fuck off, that it is an asshole and that "someday soon, I'll show you, mother fucker". I fall into self-pity and start rationalizing this unspoken dysfunctional behavior. I consider throwing in the towel and walking away. Then, just when I am moments away from accepting my fate, my defeat, I start to breath again, apologize for my harsh words and take my two-wheeled wonder out for a spin. Then I love him again. He helps me clear my mind of self-loathing, helps me process my doubts and insecurities about my life's direction and my ability to give into the passion, sweetness and sincerity that I have found with a new lover. He reminds me that I am strong, a survivor- complete with an almost audible "Eye of the Tiger" playing on loops in the back of my mind. He brings out my confidence, makes me laugh and reminds me that I have two legs and recovering lungs that can take me anywhere I set my worrisome little mind to.

This bike has also surprisingly revived an old friendship with my ex-husband. For years, we had nothing to discuss other than the logistics of child-sharing. Now, we compare routes and tires and tips on calorie-boosting and touring. My daughters look on, amused by the conversations and likely in awe of how smooth our transition has been from tense, feuding exes to casual friends with something finally in common.

So I've been back out on the open road quite regularly again. Often, I am alone, riding against annoying headwinds, working through various scenarios and past hurts in my head. Other times, I am riding with friends, through winding, climbing Sonoma County hillsides speckled with wild mustard and chirping birds. I am gaining confidence, speed and endurance and hating myself a little less with every ride.

Monday, February 8, 2010

On The Road Again

I am finally pulling myself out of my dreary winter blues and constant, rotating head colds and back onto my bike.

Today, I headed west on my new bike with my friend, Miles. We ventured from Santa Rosa, down the Joe Rodota trail to Sebastopol, continued west to HWY 116 and looped around back home down Occidental Road, Stafford Road and finally Hall Road until we met the bike trail again. An easy, quick ride was just what I needed to get my lungs working again, and work they did on the first half as we rode against an annoying wind only to be greeted with drops of cold rain on our way back into Santa Rosa.

Plans for this week include another "easy", 20+ mile ride tomorrow (Weds) and my first attempt at Chalk Hill Road in Healdsburg on Saturday.

Damn it feels good to be riding again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

One Step Forward, Fifteen Steps Back

Getting older sucks. Getting older while acquiring a collection of weird and annoying health issues sucks even more.

It seems that the health issues I was forced to address last year do not want to quietly walk away and disappear into the night like I had hoped. Instead, they linger inside, hiding inconspicuously inside tiny crevices, just waiting for my immune response to falter in the slightest so they can forward their advances on my poor, unsuspecting energy reserves. This, along with the inconsistently wet and cold weather, makes training more challenging that I had imagined, and in turn ignites depression and immense frustration.My adrenal glands still hate me and try as I might, the relationship continues to take huge efforts to repair. What others experience as short-lived winter colds hit me like arctic blizzards, leaving a trail of damage in the form of exhaustion that lasts for weeks.

About 18 months ago, I was diagnosed with Adrenal Fatigue, a stress-caused disorder that weakens immune response, disrupts any regularity with menstrual cycles and causes severe exhaustion and depression. After months of following a strict health regime, I felt miraculously cured, although I didn't seem to have the stamina I once enjoyed so much. My biggest mistake during my bout of health was assuming I could treat my body carelessly and bounce back from illnesses with ease. Therefore, I began staying out late, dumping wine and fancy cocktails into my body throughout the summer and pushing my body to run and exercise more than I could handle. Now I am paying the price.

After a recent infection and sinus cold, I noticed that my body was feeling as awful as it had when I walked out of the Dr.'s office last winter. Since Adrenal Fatigue isn't treatable with western medicine without side affects, I decided to dive headfirst into acupuncture and Chinese herbs to get me back on track. I called my friend, Derek Doss and set up an appointment in his new office. After a thorough assessment, Derek determined that in addition to my weak-ass adrenals, I also have Yang and Qi deficiencies. As I stretched out and got needled up, I realized that I have to take it easy and start training all over again if I am going to both heal my body and gain the strength and stamina it will take to ride my bike 100 miles in one day.

I am committed to getting treatments on a weekly basis, which also includes giving myself daily moxibustion treatments, wearing ear seeds and taking Chinese herbs to kick my body back into gear. I am also practicing yoga and re-starting my training by building up to long distances over time instead of jump-starting with the epic rides I had begun last month. With any luck, I'll be back in action shortly and ready to conquer the rolling hills and mountains of Sonoma County.

Monday, February 1, 2010