Tag Archives: fitness

Ugly cry. Well, almost.

A few years ago, I penned a post about ugly crying while mountain biking. I was working with a coach at the time and he took me out of my comfort zone. The outer limits at that time involved a steep incline with a sharp hairpin turn to the right followed by an equally steep descent. There was no backside or opposite side of the hill. It was climb, turn, descend. If you made a misstep you were going over the hill. Period.

I was terrified. I made a few approaches that I intentionally bailed on. A few times I climbed the hill only to bail at the top—which is bad because you now have to fight gravity as you make your way back down while maneuvering a bike alongside you.

I will never forget the feeling I had when I finally made it up and down safely that first time. When I got to the bottom where my coach was standing, I began to cry. Not just cry. I was sobbing. I cried big, huge alligator tears while full on snotting my head off. I was an absolute mess. The involuntary emotional relief I experienced after conquering this “mountain” was overwhelming to me. It was all the fear leading up to it followed by the release of getting over it that just broke a dam inside me.

You’re probably wondering why I’m reliving this experience, today. And no, it has nothing to do with #tbt. It’s because I experienced a similar experience today, on a much, much smaller scale.

If you know me, you know it’s been a long seven months of back-to-back injuries beginning with fracturing my left foot and tearing my ligaments in June, followed by a fall down the stairs in November, which re-injured the same foot and ankle—but worse. The pièce de résistance happened two days before Christmas when I fractured my right wrist while snowboarding, requiring surgery to implant a plate and nine screws. These events have left me at rock bottom physically and, more often than not, emotionally.

Blessedly, and despite my fresh injury, my husband drug me to his gym the day after Christmas. He urged me to obtain a membership and enlist the services of a trainer. I was terrified. I had so much self-doubt, I didn’t know which end was up, let along where to begin physically.  The owner of the gym paired me with a young woman named Rachel. He assured me she was experienced with injuries and would be very good for me. I trusted him and committed to a twice-weekly, three-month training regimen with Rachel. It was the best thing I could’ve ever done for myself.

I began working with Rachel five days post-surgery. This week marks five weeks we’ve been working together to get me back on track. I had (and still have) so much work to do on my physical body. When I began this journey back to me, my endurance was zilch. I couldn’t walk on the treadmill or ride a bike without being winded almost immediately. I lacked overall strength and had zero stability in my left foot and ankle. I felt like a newborn babe, but Rachel took great care with my “fragile” self.

Rachel asked me a couple of days ago how I felt things were going. I answered her honestly. I told her we’ve come so far from those early days of passive exercise. She has steadily added challenging and innovative exercises and increased weights. Mind you, I’ve been working out with ONE hand and ONE arm. We’ve adapted and kicked butt over the past five weeks. As of Tuesday, I am now free to work out without restriction.

Today, Rachel’s workout included box jumps. I’ve never done a box jump in my life and doubted my ability to do one on a good day, let along during my process of rebuilding. We started small, just three risers with an aerobic step. Rachel then set up five risers because she felt I was having too easy of a time with three risers. Oh, that girl, she challenges me. I approached the “box” and try as I might, could not commit to making the leap. I simply could not do it mentally. I would bend my knees, throw my arms behind me for momentum, go up on my toes and freeze. I bet I tried ten times before asking Rachel to remove a riser. After completing ten (mentally challenging) box jumps at this height, my heart was racing and I had an all-too-familiar lump in my throat. I was transported back to that day on the mountain bike trail. It was that same overwhelming emotional release. A different day. A different year. A different place. A different situation. A different woman. The same feeling.

Why am I telling you this? Why is it important? Because I want you to press on with whatever it is that has set you back. Don’t give up or give in. Push whatever it is that’s defeating you aside and take back your life. Living a life with a new benchmark for normal is better than not living life at all. Trust me when I tell you, it’s easy to sit on the couch and think of better days. But once you commit, it’s just as easy to get off the couch and make today a better day. You deserve it.

Inspire me.


When I first began riding a little over four years ago, Strava was a relatively new thing in our neck of the woods but was gaining popularity rapidly. Likewise, there weren’t a lot of women riding single track, at least to the degree we have now. When I first began riding, there were a handful of women I knew of locally (Palm Beach County) that burned up the trails. I was always star struck when I encountered them, calling them out by name when I met them. Because Strava was new(er) to the area, my ride results put me toward the top of the leaderboard with them overall, and certainly within my over-50 age group. I ironically became known as a “fast” rider—something that felt quite novel to me at the time but certainly doesn’t apply to me today.

Fast forward four and a half years and women’s riding (and racing) have absolutely ballooned in numbers on a local level. Now, you are as apt to find women on the trails as you are men. I may be speaking out of turn, but I feel the numbers are perhaps 10:1, men to women, and perhaps even greater than that on the side of women. This is beyond impressive. The women shredding our trails are of all skill and age levels, as evidenced by the ride details I frequently chronicle on social media.

With this surge in women riders, my almost-55-year-old self has fallen significantly in the rankings with respect to speed. To be honest—I’m way down on the list. This used to bother me a bit purely from a mortality standpoint. I look at riders in their 20s, 30s and 40s and know they’re only going to get better with training, while I’m on a downhill slope at my age with respect to increasing my physical abilities. There is only so much an aging body can do, due greatly in part to an imbalance in hormones. Interrupted sleep. Decreased muscle mass. Increased body fat. Arthritic joints. And the list goes on. This is a fact of life and, one that’s hard for me to accept at times. I’ve written about this before. My mind tells me I’m decades younger than my soon-to-be 55-year old body tells me. This is not a pity party but rather a celebration–an absolute, total celebration.

Ladies, I want you to know you inspire me each and every day. You inspire me to do and be better. When I ride, it’s you I think about. You are my imaginary “rabbit.” I know I won’t catch you, but I will not finish the ride without giving it my all. You, my beautiful fellow female riders, inspire me. And, I hope that you find some inspiration in me, too. I hope, that just maybe because of me, you’ll find inspiration on the trails in your fifties and way beyond. Who knows? God willing, I will be the septuagenarian, octogenarian, and maybe even nonagenarian to whom you say, “Rider back.” One never knows what (or who) you’ll find ahead.

Happy trails, my amazing friends. x

Summer Break Back in the Saddle

Boy, have I missed this. Until this past school year, these commutes played such a huge part in our daily lives. Not being able to ride our bikes to school (because of the distance) is a sacrifice I’m willing to make in order for J-man to attend a suitable school.

I’ve blogged extensively in the past about the role these biking commutes played in our lives during J-man’s first few years of elementary school. Biking the few miles to and from school and work afforded so many opportunities for J-man’s growth, development and betterment that we simply miss out on by riding in an automobile.

Summer is here though, and I intend to take and make as many of these moments as I possibly can.

See ya around town.

 

 

CycloFemme 2019

Twenty. That’s the number of stoked women of all skill levels and riding abilities who joined me on a ride I organized last weekend. Some of these women traveled well in excess of 100 miles each way, to participate in this 8:00AM ride.

This is the second year I’ve hosted a CycloFemme ride, and the 8th year the organization has been encouraging women to “band together and celebrate collective momentum” over Mother’s Day weekend.  The organization’s ethos is simple: “inspire one more woman to ride a bike, and we can change the world.” This is a philosophy I can back wholeheartedly.

Despite a few raindrops, we had a fantastic 36-mile gravel grind. Yes, the trails brought forth beautiful sights and fantastic scenery, but the true highlights lie in the friendships—existing, rekindled, and newly minted. We shared endless laughs, engaging conversation (sometimes serious, but for the most part lighthearted). We got to know each other or, in some cases, know each other better. We talked weather, bikes, saddles (and lady parts), kit, shoe fit, summer plans, bucket list rides and trips, family, and Mother’s Day plans. Mostly, we just rode along and enjoyed being together, celebrating our collective momentum.

Thanks for riding with me, ladies. I look forward to doing so again soon. And no, we are not waiting until next Mother’s Day to pedal together. X

(The following photos are in no particular order, but well worth sharing. Some of these photos are courtesy of Annia Martinez of Outcast Cycling.)

 

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder 

This morning I took a little ride along a canal I frequently traverse.  The canal runs parallel to an exclusive golf and country club.  Although I’ve never been in this particular club, I can see quite a bit of the golf course’s perfectly manicured fairways and greens from my vantage point.  The pristine landscape doesn’t hold a candle to an untended hedgerow of bougainvillea that runs along the backside of the property’s concrete privacy wall.  The people inside those walls have no idea of the beauty and splendor on the backside of that wall.  The colorful flowers beckon a wealth of birdlife and butterflies.  


Although I’ve not visited this particular club, I’ve been to several just like it, usually to play golf.  They’re all interchangeable with the same ostentatious surroundings and an overabundance of obnoxious people.   Case in point, one time, about 10 or so years ago, the mister and I were playing a round of golf with friends at a club where we were members.  I was pulled aside at the turn by a golf course employee who informed me my Lija golf shorts were considered to be too short by a group of ladies who were also playing that day.  I was humiliated, to say the least, and forced to purchase a golf skort that reached well below my knees on my 5′ 3″ frame.  Yeah, good times. 

All this to say, the folks on the inside of that wall can keep their perfectly manicured property and I’ll happily stick to riding my bike on the far side of the canal, taking in the breathtaking view of unkemp bougainvillea, birds and butterflies.  Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder.  

Acceptance

Happiness can exist only in acceptance. ~ George Orwell


The above photo was snapped during a recent biking event.  I was participating in a time trial hosted by our local off road/mountain biking organization, Club Scrub.

At first blush, this photo depicts nothing really, except perhaps sheer determination.  It represents no great achievement for me personally except that I finished what I started.  I came in fourth out of four participants in my time trial class (sport).  Like the Olymics, there are only three podium positions in our club’s time trials.  The eight plus mile singletrack ride took every ounce of energy I had.  The day was unseasonably hot–88 degrees with 62 percent humidity resulting in a “feels like” temperature of 93 degrees.  Yes, it was incredibly hot, and I gave the ride every last drip drop I had within me, but the heat offered no excuse for the defeat I felt. The time trial was humbling. I don’t mean in an, “Oh, I’m so humbled…blah blah blah…” empty platitude kind of way. I mean humbled as in:  Oh!  My!  Gosh!  I’m 51 and my competitors range from YOUNGER than my daughter to (much) younger sister, and I simply could not hang with them.  I was so far out of my league I was in a different zip code.  I had a lunch of humble pie that afternoon.

As I mulled over my ride, I was really disappointed despite the effort I put forth–even though I knew I rode as hard as I physically could.  I simply couldn’t have done better.  And then it (slowly) dawned on me.  I am what I am.  I am who I am.  I am where I am.  I am me.  I was forced to acknowledge that I’m lavish with grace and acceptance with everyone except myself.  And dang it, I need to accept and EMBRACE my effort FOR just that–a whole lot of friggin effort. I need to be proud of myself for what I bring to the table. I can’t lie. That’s so darn difficult for me personally. As an overachiever to whom a lot of physical accomplishments have come easily, that’s humbling. But I’m gonna do it.  I need to do.  I need to do it for my own wellbeing.  So, I hereby resolve to cut myself some slack.  I’m officially giving myself a break and telling myself exactly what I’d tell my husband, daughter, son, mother or friend.  Bobbie, I’m proud of you.  You gave it your all girl.  Put on your big girl panties, find contentment where you are and celebrate those young(er) whippersnappers that kicked your tail.   They’re fierce gals–just like you.  Congratulations on a job well done, one and all.  #letsridebikes

Pour it On

Motoring.

Motoring.

I snapped the above photo en route to school this morning. This has become our typical commute, as munchkin has declared he no longer wants to be a car rider. And as long as weather permits, I’m okay with this.  There are so many benefits to this two-mile ride.

Of course, the most obvious benefit is the fitness factor. Jackson and I are both burning calories and building strength and stamina while bathing our brains in awesome mood enhancing, stress reducing chemicals. The benefits don’t end there though. The greatest benefits can’t readily be measured. I do believe, however, they’ll be immeasurable in the long run.

Our twice daily, 20-minute commute amounts to perhaps the richest 40 minutes of my day. I use this time to pour into Jackson’s soul in a manner I am unable to achieve at any other time of day (with the exception of bedtime perhaps). He is my captive; he is my teammate. There are so many elements at play while we make our way to school. We have wet, moss-covered and very slippery sidewalks to contend with. We have elevated sidewalks, driveways and intersections to navigate, which we do so fluidly. I guide Jackson along, subtly yet sternly. With all that’s going on, there is no room for carelessness or wanton disregard for my instruction. Do you know what? He steps up to the plate every single day. He is my captive listener. As I see it, some of the myriad benefits for Jackson in this (literal) exercise are:

  • Learning to rely on someone for guidance
  • Learning patience and grace as we wait to cross driveways and streets
  • Observing my expression of gratitude to drivers who patiently wait for us to cross said streets and driveways, and to the crossing guard for being there to keep us safe every single day, rain or shine
  • Learning how to use all our senses—not solely sight—for safe travel
  • Learning how to accommodate others in our path as we make way for fellow walkers, joggers and bikers
  • Learning to acknowledge (value) others as we greet each and every individual with a hearty, “Good morning!”

The greatest benefit of all, however, is our ability to have meaningful conversations virtually free of distractions. We observe cloudscapes and nature. We talk about God, heaven and this beautiful world He created for us to enjoy. We talk about anything and everything (Montana, family, horses, animals, weather, rocket launches…), unimpeded. I use this valuable time to remind Jackson of the importance of being a good listener, why we need to be kind to others and why he must be a good team member as it relates to his teachers, and peers. I use this precious time to pour love and encouragement into Jackson. I bolster his confidence by pointing out all of the things he has done and is doing right. These 40 minutes are an extremely, extremely valuable opportunity for me to affirm and reaffirm Jackson’s worth as a child of God.

Would I prefer my morning workout be more challenging? Absolutely! As a former (decades long) early morning gym rat, I miss the daily intense cardio workout and strength training I did religiously in my “former” (pre-Jax) life. I can unequivocally promise you, however, those workouts were not nearly as rewarding as my present “work out.” Would I trade it if I could? No way. Not in a million, billion, trillion years. God doesn’t give us what we want. He gives us what we need.

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6 (NIV)