Truth Matters

Like many of you, I have been watching the news and tracking my average daily HR as it continued to rise from Wednesday to Friday last week. What I witnessed was the president of the United States inciting a mob to lay siege on Congress in an attempt to overthrow democracy. The traitors assembled before him already came prepared to do just that.

I am beyond outraged. I have only a few words to express this insurrection and assault on our nation.

The endless lies of how the election was fraudulent began before T**** was even elected. Republican members of Congress fueled these falsehoods and enabled this president. These are hollow people bent on amassing power and do not represent the constituents who elected them.

They are the basket of deplorables, quite literally. They need to be held accountable because words, actions, and truth matters. Write your representatives in Congress; write all of them and make your voice heard. And most of all, keep voting and advocating for voters’ rights. Because if you find yourself on the side of voter suppression, on the side of lies to get ahead, on the side of those who separate families at the border, on the side of rolling back environmental protections, on the side of less healthcare for all, on the side of misogyny, on the side where LGBTQ+ are denied equal rights, on the side of police brutality, on the side where Black people continue to die in the streets, and on the side of systemic racism because you perpetuate it, then you are on the WRONG side. And last of all, an “armed protest” is not a protest. It’s called an unregulated militia.

Vote. Advocate. And stand up when what’s wrong is right in front of your face. Educate yourself on the issues and where your representatives stand. Read the newspaper, online or in print. Complacency and silence is complicity. I know that most Americans are good people who lift each other up. United, we stand.

Here’s where you can write your senators: https://www.senate.gov/senators/index.htm

Here’s where you can write members of the House: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

~Laurie

Looking Forward and Back

With the New Year upon us, many people look to make resolutions to improve themselves in the New Year with the hopes that they will be better for it. I’ve done it and have been disappointed each time.

This never works.

Resolutions only leave me frustrated because it implies that I wasn’t good enough last year–that nothing is ever good enough. What does work is knowing that there is no finish line, no end in sight. Sometimes I’ll get lost on the course and start a century ride over again (did that before realizing what I did and called for my personal SAG vehicle, thanks, Phil!), other times, I’ll come out with a shiny new PR and reach that 5K finish line in record time, and sometimes, my daily workout sucks ass on the treadmill with a side stitch because I ate too much garlic bread. Through all of it, I am consistent, accountable to my training plan, and am flexible as needed.

Consistency is key.

Consistency is also boring. I go to bed and get up at roughly the same time, I have meet ups for some workouts, virtually or socially distant now, for accountability (it’s hard to sleep in when someone is hopping on their bike trainer at 6am waiting for you to ride, but a virtual breakfast after the ride with coffee is the best!), and I pretty much eat the same stuff throughout the week. Boring. Not the “get off my lawn” old person kind of boring, well, sometimes I’m like that. Damn kids.

Accountability goes along with being consistent. Who are you accountable to? Your running, riding, or swim buddies? Do you have a coach? Do you have a friend who expects you to run fast once a week with her so you work hard all week just to keep up? Do you have a training plan or schedule? Adapt your plan day to day, but be consistent with your workouts. If you’re accountable, you’re also consistent.

Lastly, be flexible, but not to the point where accountability and consistency are forgotten. Move your workouts around based on your schedule, but make sure that you get most of them completed with the proper training intensities. Grab a coffee on the go, but maybe not a mocha. Keep your priorities in mind, but have some indulgences every once in awhile. Be kind to yourself. This has been an interesting year, and the next one will be too. Happy New Year!

3,000 in 2020

There is still snow on the ground from last Wednesday’s storm, masters swimming is on hold through the New Year, and I’m currently going to PT for my elbow injury that decided to flare up in September, although my recovery will have to wait a little longer with my next appointment canceled.

I found out I was exposed to COVID-19 last Monday, but wasn’t informed until yesterday. I quickly made an appointment with my doctor for a test, and even though it’s unlikely that I contracted the virus, I’m taking precautions and staying home like my doctor recommended through the next seven days, even though I have no symptoms, and I will know my test results on Thursday, just in time for Christmas.

Until then, I’m staying home and doing my best to keep others safe. I have been wearing a mask, social distancing, and only going to work or running errands as necessary when this exposure happened, but nothing is 100% fool-proof.

So, since I can’t leave the house, I decided to take on a new challenge: ride 3,000 miles on my bike for 2020. I’m less than 200 miles away from this goal and will be riding virtually on Zwift to reach it. In addition, I’m checking to see which courses I haven’t completed to earn those badges too.

When I’m finished riding, I’ll have extra time to bake and give these kitties some much needed attention. Stay safe, stay home, wear a mask, and wash your hands.

Before the Snow Run

Even though it was in the mid 20s this morning, I headed out for a run before the snow. It was cold and windy, but clear. Venus shined brightly and icy patches near the curb were easily spotted. Like the holiday lights on our route, conversation made the run go by quickly and seem less cold. My puffy hat helped too.

The clouds rolled in around mid-morning and sifted sugar on the sidewalks and garden by early afternoon. I made some hot chocolate to go with the powdered doughnut outside so I could watch it turn from sugar to a thick icing, whipped by wind. I really don’t like snow, but I want some doughnuts now.

In two hours, over 2 inches have fallen and counting…

The Ride

The knobby tires rolled over tree roots like a fat thumb over the whites of the piano keys. If I could see my knuckles under the two glove layers, they would be white and bloodless with the way I was gripping the Top Fuel as I bounced down the single-track at what I thought were breakneck speeds. Suddenly, the trail went straight up, and I squeezed the brakes when I should have shifted to a bigger ring while picking up my cadence. Instead, I balanced on the bike with the pedals at 3 and 9 o’clock for a split second before tipping to the side.

I put my foot down and breathed. My legs were shaking uncontrollably.

Colleen was at the top of the hill, having rolled over those roots effortlessly, using her bike like some nimble monster truck crushing cars like soda cans. I walked the rest of the way until the trail leveled off, and I could get my foot back on the pedal to start once again. I knew then if I hesitated, I was finished.

So for the rest of the ride, I tried to make a quick decision and stick to it when descending or climbing this trail I could barely walk on, let alone ride a bike over all of those rock gardens and long sections of tree roots strung across the trail like garland. If I took too much time to think, I failed. I had to trust the line I chose and follow it through.

For a few fleeting moments on the ride, the trail flowed below the bike like water as I stood up with level pedals and weight slightly forward. But then, there was no trail, just a stream six feet down, and I thought I was going to die and be buried right then and there because I was too scared to cross the narrow frosty bridge to the other side where a sharp uphill topped with a rock garden greeted me. I didn’t die. I just fell off my bike a few times. Thankfully, the ground was soft and met me half way.

Once I get another bike, I’ll return to the trails because I might just be part daredevil.

And now this…

I think I have found a fourth sport I like: mountain biking. With my masters’ team on hold for the time being, I snagged this fun demo bike from my shop and plan to hit the trails on Monday. So far, I rode it around the neighborhood, over a few curbs, and up and down the alley behind my house to test out the full suspension frame of this Trek Top Fuel. Yes, it has SPDs, and yes, I clipped in. If I really get into this sport, I’ll use flat pedals to work on my skills that I’m clearly lacking.

As soon as I heard the click of my cleats, I was off and flew down the alley. I soon felt like a little kid tooling around the neighborhood as I rode past other moms at the playground while bouncing up and down over obstacles I would usually avoid on my roadie.

So, I know the fourth and fifth sports of triathlon are transition and nutrition, but I think this triathlete can certainly benefit from the strength of mountain biking. Wish me luck on Monday! Yikes!

Go By Bike

Going by bike is best the way to get around your neighborhood, and if you can substitute one car ride with a bike ride per week, you are helping to reduce your impact on climate change. Here are some tips for getting around town by bike:

Make sure you ditch the fancy cycling gear for everyday clothes and some Vans over your road shoes for a meandering ride around the block or running errands. Yes, my road bike hub has 108 points of engagement and wants to go fast, but when I ride around, I take my time. Even though I have clipless pedals, I can still ride my road bike with a pair of stiff shoes on my feet and not clip in as long as I’m not going too far. If I’m going more than a few miles, I’ll take a backpack with an extra pair of shoes for more comfortable riding.

Say hello to everyone. When I drive, I have a tendency to get annoyed by pedestrians and everyone in general because I should have left my house ten minutes before I actually did, but on a bike, I wave and say, “hi”. It’s just more enjoyable.

Remember the times you were a kid on a bike while you ride as an adult. As a kid, or a college student studying abroad in England, a bike was freedom and transportation. It still is. The leaves are falling and crunching under the tires, the wind might blow, it might rain, yet you get a better sense of your community from behind the handlebars since you see your neighbors outside rather than passing by them in a car, or going from your house to your car. The point is to get out of your car and outside.

There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. I didn’t say that, but I stole it from a Scandinavia phrase. It’s true though. You can go out in all kinds of weather if you have the right gear and layers, which I’m sure you have somewhere in your closet for most weather conditions.

Last of all, wear a bike helmet and attach some lights to your bike so drivers can see you. Follow all traffic rules and signal where you are going so everyone knows. Get out there and ride! Trek Bikes started the movement, so when you do ride, snap a photo and tag it with #GoByBike if you would like to share it.

Tell Me Something Good

Flats happen, the hour falls back, the moon stays up late, and sometimes my feet carry me faster and faster until I fly above the ground. Gravity can’t hold me down.

With all the craziness going on in this world, tell me something good. Just one thing. It can be a small thing too. I’ll start, but please leave yours in the comments:

  1. I fixed Phil’s flat on the side of the road with freezing hands so that he was able to ride home.
  2. What’s yours?

Stay Gold

They say that nothing gold can stay

with each falling leaf

drifting down–

damp with rain

and brown.

Wheels munch and spit out

gold through spokes

digested down

to the trail’s edge

where brown

covers gold.

My eye catches

the fading light,

riding through gold–

alighting

and landing in my heart.

Gold stays.

Riding with the New Normal

Early on Sunday morning, it’s hard to tell that things aren’t how they should be. There’s frost on the ground, the air is crisp, leaves are falling, and the sun is rising higher in the sky. I checked my bike for any issues, examining the tires for small leaks and affixing lights under the saddle and in the cockpit. Water bottles were in place and the GPS was “on” as we set out for a short 20 something mile ride to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and back before the kid woke up for the day. Sort of normal…

I stashed a mask in the back pocket of my jersey and wore a buff just in case I got too close to other riders or runners on MLK Drive, closed to traffic since the start of the pandemic in order to open up more space for people to get outside. Bikes are in short supply with the high demand, and more people are riding than ever, which is a nice break from being inside. A few cyclists posed for pictures like we did in front of the Rocky Steps, but the crowds of summer are mostly gone now, leaving a few intrepid athletes to run up the steps unhindered.

It’s a new normal now. Mask in hand or on my face, I make sure I get outside, even as the weather turns ice cold. I turned off all notifications on my phone and leave it on silent without vibrating. I deleted the Facebook app and set a time limit for using all of the apps. I scan the paper instead of listening to the news, and for the first time ever, I have a campaign sign in my front garden for all of my neighbors to see. I read a book at night or watch reruns of the “X-Files” with the kid while we await the new season of “Stranger Things” to be released. She has limited her phone use too, which is so important to give her a break from the screen since she’s home all day in virtual school. It’s weird having her upstairs all day attending class. Definitely, not normal.

Making time to get outside, putting down the phone, and going for a ride with Phil makes me feel as if I recovered my brain from the depths of social media, the doom-scrolling, the feelings of inadequacy with the picture-perfect lives portrayed on Instagram. My phone is face down with alerts only from my “favorites” list, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m kind of back to sort of normal, like early 2000s normal, before the phone, politics, and the pandemic took over all with less anxiety. Things may never get back to the way they used to be, but do we really want that? I don’t. Go outside. Ride. Run. Be with the people you love. And when the opportunity is there, run up those steps to get it. You can do it.