Important Stuff

Things that deserve attention, but aren’t necessarily bike related.

Insanity, my friends, Has Most Certainly Set In.

Amazing!

Amazing!

Whatever possessed me to do it, what reason I felt it necessary,¬†we may never know. After an impromptu hike in the Grand Canyon taken on the misfortune of my good friend’s broken hand (sorry, friend; but you were my inspiration!)…I am staring into the future of a fall season filled with blisters, black toenails and wondering where the next port-a-john is.

Yes, that’s right, I have cheerfully registered for a 50 mile off-road ultra-marathon. Oh, 50 little miles, you say; big deal, you say, you’ve done way more than 50 miles. No, my friends; two wheels will not be involved in these dirty miles, my own two feet shall carry me from start to finish. Yikes.

Maybe I CAN use wheels! :)

Maybe I CAN use wheels! ūüôā

I can not exactly tell you what (or perhaps whom) actually hit that register tab, I assure you it was not I who did so; but I do have an idea why I may have felt it necessary to allow it to happen. Boredom, and at the essence of boredom…is a dangerous imp¬†luring you to do something foolish. A weariness had surrounded me for several months, zapping my energy and motivation, leaving me¬†in search for something fresh and new.

Gemini at odds

Gemini at odds

I so easily grab onto a new routine and learn to accomplish it repeatedly without fail until¬†it no longer requires gray matter to execute. In turn, my inner Geminii becomes bored.¬†You see, my¬†‘twin’ believes:¬†“Why bother if¬†you don’t have to work for it anymore?” Inspiration becomes hard to find, performance suffers. I guess I’ll just sleep and eat cookies until I feel like doing something again. Wait. What? You said cookies. Oh yea…can you have too many cookies? oh yes. Yes you can.
 sugar coma
One of my favorite quotes is: “Good things come to those who wait. Greater things come to those who get off their asses and do anything to make it happen.” Right! Don’t just sit there, change may find you eventually, but why wait?!
no failSo as I listened to Mateuz M (thank you, Friend!) and after this particular weekend spent doing several engaging things I hadn’t done before; my Geminii began¬†that pursuit to end¬†the cookie naps. She needed a challenge to enchant and exhilarate her intellect and existence, I agreed.¬†I love to ride my bike. I love where is has taken me. I have no complaints and am an amazingly blessed person. I just felt a need for something…different. A change in scenery, so to speak, and¬†instead of waiting for opportunity to knock on my door, which maybe I would have slept through while drooling through a sugar coma, I went looking for that opportunity.
I came across the words adventure race and ultra-marathon and I kept coming back to them. I thought about how I felt after hiking rim to river to rim at the Grand Canyon. Sore. Doing it in a solid push through, as a challenge and to avoid being overtaken by the heat or monsoons; grand canyon monsoonI felt very sore. The barely able to walk, like a stiff robot possessing no joints type of sore. I also felt awesome.¬†That pain¬†felt awesome. Doing something that my muscles said “Hey now, what the heck are we doing here?” ¬†felt awesome. It was an invitation for my mind and body to learn to suffer in a whole new fashion; we are, after all, capable of so many magnificent feats; how could I not desire to achieve them all?! Dare I cross over to the dark side and get off my wheels to…run? On my actual feet?runner high
forget everything else

forget everything else

Without much more thought than that about it…well, the price was also going up that same day…I typed in my info and registered for the Antelope Canyon 50 mile ultra-marathon. I felt excited and refreshed and inspired! And then my head went “Eek. What did you just do?!” That’s ok, my heart won over…I’m still excited! I will be diversifying my methods of training. I get to educate myself on the different ways to increase on and off-road mileage, how to fuel on this runner’s sensitive belly and experience a few places that I couldn’t… or didn’t have the

Hi! Hello! Howdy!

Hi! Hello! Howdy!

chutzpah to… go on my bike. Yay! Brain re-activated, motivational fire re-lit.¬†Bye-bye cookies, hello blisters and oh, oh…a¬†shart or two? eep!

runner bethOk. I am not actually¬†new to running. I suppose you could say I have always been a runner. As a¬†high school kid in a mid-west state in the early 90s, you¬†didn’t ride bikes for sport, there were no mountains to climb, you ran. I played basketball, but at¬†barely 5’2″ and hardly triple digits in weight, I¬†mostly got to watch from the bench.¬†As a poor college student, all I needed was a pair of shoes and the fortitude to get out the door. Minimal¬†equipment, minimal money involved.¬†I competed in the 400m in HS, I was decent. I continued to run some in college, but really only to avoid the¬†dreaded¬†‘Freshman 15’. I¬†ran at least a handful of¬†half marathons in my late 20s and actually broke the 100 minute mark. I ran a total of¬†one marathon. It was hard. There was this very large wall I rammed into at mile 23. It was so big, I don’t know how I, nor anyone else, couldn’t see it just sitting there in the middle of the street. At any rate, I did finish that race, missing my goal time by about 10 minutes (because I thought I could outrun the pacer…of all the silly bs…) and upon crossing the finish line, I¬†promptly walked away from running and onto a bike. Nine years and 10s of thousands of bike miles¬†later, I am getting off my bicycle (temporarily, of course) and looking forward to running 50 miles on Navajo land in one of the most picturesque spots in Arizona. What better way to do it?!Antelope Canyon black and white runner

With a thrilling new adventure on the horizon and my desire to learn, train and compete reawakened; I have also committed to the Park City Point 2 Point, once again in that eleventh hour and with 5 weeks to make it happen. What finer way to end the 2015 season, before jumping in feet first to endurance running mode (pun intended), than a super tough mountain bike race through some of the most beautiful alpine trail this country has to offer! Giddy-Up!

P2P 2014

P2P 2014

I’ll keep you posted on the growth, enlightenment and sweet sufferings along my journey to Antelope Canyon! I’m so blessed to have all my sponsors on my side in this little venture I’ll call My Insanity from now on! Please take a moment to visit their pages and I will keep you informed on all the ways they¬†help facilitate my success!
Oh…the P2P I’m sure will bring on something to say, too!
Cheers to all of your intoxicating and bold adventures out there!
Categories: Important Stuff, Mountain bike racing, Random Fun | 6 Comments

The Magical Aura

 

old lady mojo¬† Ever lose your mojo? Maybe at¬†the least convenient moment? Not just during race season, but for the biggest races on your calendar…and then the last race of the season. Nothing like going out with a bang; which would be a good thing had it not been me who was shoved¬†out the bullet chamber, piercing thru¬†sticky muck and slamming right¬†into slick rock at super sonic speed.

This is not a story of dejection or woe. Nor is it the tail of the underdog overcoming hardship and opening up a can of whoop-ass on the competition. This is the real life of a slightly above-average mountain biker racer who took a chance as a pro. A story of absurdity with a little strife and buffoonery thrown in for your reading pleasure. Ok, sometimes it is opening up that can of whoop-ass and it is, just a little bit, for my writing pleasure.

So what the heck is mojo anyway? The dictionary tells me it is the ‘art or practice of casting magic spells or voodoo’¬†or it can be ‘an amulet or a charm believed to be magic’. Hmpff…If I could cast a magic spell on my beloved Epic, never would I so deliciously eat dirt again. Hmm..maybe I can stop off in Sedona for a Wiccan talisman to bestow super shreddy technical powers upon this bag o’ bones. ¬†¬†Skeleton dancer

unicorn bikeNo, it’s not magic. At least not in the sense illusion or witchcraft speak of. Maybe hitting a sweet jump for the first time or giggling thru some whippty-do’s on flowy trail or teetering inches from a cliff’s edge produce a mystical frenzy of thrill permeating our soul that can only be described as magic. This is what makes riding and racing mountain bikes fun. This is why we keep coming back for more, why we pick ourselves up off the ground to try again. Is it, then, that we create our own mojo by acting further on this derangement of pleasure? Doesn’t this then make losing it that much more disheartening? That maybe if we create it, we are who bring about it’s departure, as well. Ah-Oooh…it’s all in your head!.. she says.

Let’s think about that for a moment. Hesitation. Hesitation on a drop leads to two things: uncertainty followed by slamming into something much harder than your head. If we delve deeper…Uncertainty of what exactly? That the bike will break? Probably not. That the ground will suddenly shift three feet to the left just as you plan to land? Usually not. Although, I’ll swear to it that the earth has moved beneath my wheels on at least a handful of occasions. photo 2

Or is it That YOU can not make it over said drop? Yea, more likely, there’s¬†the ticket. Guess where that lies…in your head. Ok, so you hesitate. And you’re down.¬† But you pick yourself up and roll on. Next little obstacle: ‘oh, heck no! I’m gettin’ off before that rock eats me!’ And then- ‘that curve looks too sandy or that incline too loose’. BRAKE. Slide. In sets the frustration. Where does frustration come from? The dirt doesn’t cause it. Rocks don’t cause it. The insecure individual inside your head causes you frustration. Guess what’s just disappeared, unknowingly gone adrift into the oblivion of bad dreams¬†featuring broken teeth? Oh, my mojo. That marvelous concept I didn’t even know I had until it was lost. But now that it’s gone, I want it back. I need my mojo. Why? Because then focus runs out the door chasing mojo down. Oh, damn, I’ve lost that now, too. Soon after, joy finds it’s way out a window in pursuit of both mojo and focus. What the heck? Joy’s gone AWOL?!¬† So, for you equation lovers: no mojo= no focus + no joy= we’re no longer having fun here. And isn’t¬†fun why we’re here to begin with? ¬†My frenzy of thrill has just diffused into a black hole of discouragement and despair thereby taking me out of the present¬†moment and anxious for the next pain-inducing booby-trap laid out on the trail surely put there for me to bleed over. Time to stop. No, not stop riding, stop thinking. Ah-uh, sure, just stop thinking….it’s that rock collageeasy.

 

 

After a decent first race in the White Mountains followed by a nice little execution of endurance at the Dawn to Dusk, springing into a slightly less powerful, although still very passionate 24 HOP plagued with sight and back issues; came a less than spectacular performance at the Whiskey Off-Road, followed by a stellar show of skill¬†in the MBAA marathon finals, to then crudely schlepping along the course of the Full Growler; it’s safe to say I have a tendency of misplacing my mojo.lost mojo wombats

 

 

How do we go about the rediscovery of our mojo and halt the repeated displacement of that “magic”? Not by quitting. Besides, no one likes a quitter. No, I’m kidding; but quitting does last forever and whether we like it or not, is also sometimes necessary¬†in the body-demolishing sport we play at. This is more about faith and love and kindness. And delight in the things we do. Guess where all that comes from. That’s right. Inside yourself. I create my mojo, remember? Yep, I then also taketh away. By having faith in myself that I can do this, love of the journey my bikes take me on, kindness to myself when I fail by picking it up again and being positive I can do it next time and by remembering the delight that lunacy of soul-thrilling, whoopty-wahooing trail brings me. It takes going out to ride..just for the ride. No heart rate monitor, no segments, no scolding myself over putting a foot down, no structure. Just the simple pleasure of a ride, on dirt, in the trees, off the beaten path. Hearing my heart beat as I climb, purging the old air out and pulling refreshing air in and the feel of wheels crunching over dirt. The smell of sage (in a most recent case of¬†investigating into the missing mojo at Phil’s World) and sweat. The smile-inducing downhills and flow of multiple riders hitting all the lines along the trail. A good hoppy¬†beer afterwards over tales of this rock or that curve or some snake you were both thankful to have slipped by. These things are what make up that magic talisman, the elements that feed the soul and keep you coming back for more. Keeping the intention of “just because I love it” while in the midst of race season, while training hard and beating the self up over losses or squeaked by wins possibly undeserved, or not, is how we keep our mojo from making a dash towards some place less structured and a little more happy. I mean, isn’t this why we started doing this in the first place? Less of ‘the man’ telling ya what to do and more being happy. There is always going to be disappointment in life and anything worth having in life, whether for play or at the daily grind, takes hard work. Besides, sitting back having the silver spoon feed you isn’t¬†really that¬†fun anyhow.

IMG_0158 Believe in yourself. Work hard, play hard, enjoy your earnings and know you can do anything you want and there will be no more having to search for a concept you make up in your head. true meaning of mojo

I have many things to be thankful for. I have had some pretty awesome sponsors stick around and support me thru the wins and the losses. Incredible encouragement to be who I¬†am¬†and the best I can¬†be from Forest Canyon and Northern Arizona Gastro; tons of guidance, faith and anything I could possible need from Oro Valley Bicycle. Having¬†GU Energy Labs provide the absolute best in way of sport nutrition and their continued supportive inspiration,¬†has really given me the strength and stamina to survive some near-crushing endurance races and the training to prepare for them. My dear, loving husband has put up with hours and hours of training and bike maintenance and¬†the emotional roller coaster ride of¬†living with¬†an endurance athlete. He is my biggest supporter and I am his biggest fan. I am thankful for all those out there cheering when I round a corner or cross the finish, I hope I can inspire you all to be the best you can be. And cheers to remembering why we are all doing this…and never losing that damn mojo again!photo 3IMG_2236

Categories: Important Stuff, Mountain bike racing, Random Fun | Leave a comment

Ask me why I’m Blue!

colon-cancer-ribbonIt’s March and that means it’s colon cancer awareness month.

Did you know that colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer AND it’s the¬†second leading cause of death in both men and women combined inside the US?¬†Over 50,000 people die a year from this preventable disease. Incidence rates have been decreasing for most of the past two decades, which has been attributed to an uptake of colorectal cancer screening among adults 50 years and older. From 2007 to 2011, incidence rates declined by 4.3% per year among adults 50 years of age and older, but increased by 1.8% per year among adults younger than age 50. So, with regular screening, colon cancer can be found early, when treatment is most effective. In many cases, screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they become cancer. And if cancer is present, earlier detection means a better chance at becoming a survivor. As an ICU nurse, I see the effects of colon cancer after diagnosis within the late stages of the disease and as an athlete, I believe that a healthy lifestyle is more than an ounce of prevention. I am absolutely an advocate of preventative medicine.IMG_0104.JPG (2)

The American Cancer Society estimates 130,000¬†people will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer¬†in 2014 and¬†around 50,000¬†will die from¬†it in the United States. Colon cancer does exist in my family history and I know I don’t want myself or other members of my family to become¬†one of these¬†statistics. So, let’s take a look at what colon cancer is and how we can prevent it!

What is it? Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, occurs in the colon  or rectum. The colon is your large intestine or  large bowel and the rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus. Most colon cancers develop first as colorectal polyps, which are  abnormal growths inside the colon or rectum that may later become cancerous. Colorectal or colon cancer first develops with few, if any, symptoms. However, if symptoms are present, they may include:

*A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool

*Feeling that your bowel does not empty completely, rectal bleeding, or finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

*Finding your stools are narrower than usual

*Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, pain, or feeling full or bloatedhealthy-colon

*Losing weight with no known reason

*Weakness or fatigue

*Having nausea or vomiting

These¬†symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Only your¬†doctor can determine why you’re having these symptoms. Usually, early cancer¬†does not cause pain. It is important not to wait to feel pain before seeing a¬†doctor.

Some facts you need to know to increase your awareness of where your risk level may be:

-In 2011, 90% of new cases and 95% of deaths from colon cancer occur in people 50 or older.

-Colon cancer does not discriminate and can happen to men and women at any age. While rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining, incidence rates in adults younger than 50 years has been increasing.

-People with a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or children) who has colon cancer are between two and three times the risk of developing the cancer than those without a family history.

-Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) may have a higher rate of colon cancer. Partly because of disproportionate screening, African-American men and women have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and a lower survival rate (about 20% higher incidence rate and 45% higher mortality rate) compared to Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics and Native Americans. The risk of death is also increased for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.colon

Unfortunately, the majority of colon cancers are still being diagnosed at late stages.

-40% of colon cancers are found while the cancer is found at a local stage (confined to colon or rectum).
-36% of colon cancers are found after the cancer is diagnosed at a regional stage (spread to surrounding tissue).
-20% of colon cancers are found after the disease has spread to distant organs.

Get screened at 50!

Get screened at 50!

This is why Early detection is so vital — over 90% of all cases of colon cancer can be prevented with recommended screening. Despite its high incidence, colon cancer is one of the most detectable and, if found early enough, most treatable forms of cancer. An increased awareness, appropriate screening and maintaining a healthy diet along with exercise are contributing to increased survival rates and prevention all together. Since the mid-1980s, the colon cancer death rate has been dropping. By finding more polyps and cancer in the earlier (local and regional) stages, it is easiest to treat. Improved treatment options have also contributed to a rise in survival rates.

-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the local stage is 90% (confined to colon or rectum).
-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the regional stage is 70% (spread to surrounding tissue).

-The five-year survival rate for colon cancer found at the distant stage is 13%.
-There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors alive in the US.

So what can you do to decrease your risk?

-Find out the facts.

-Spread the word! Wear your Blue for awareness and let people know prevention is the key.

-Get your screening colonoscopy!! If you are age 50 or older, you need one. If you have an immediate family history, you may need to start earlier.

-Knock out those preventable risk factors:

-Eat your vegetables and fruits! Get the right fibers and keep your colon flushed out and happy.IMG_1729

-Increase the intensity and amount of physical activity (Ride your bike!)

-Limit intake of red and processed meats

-Get recommended levels of calcium and vitamin D

-Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection

-Avoid excess alcohol

For more information on what you can do and how you can help the cause, visit http://www.ccalliance.org, http://www.cancer.org/ or talk to your friendly local gastroenterologist.

Yes it is!

Yes it is!

(The statistics above were compiled from the American Cancer Society’s 2012 Cancer Facts & Figures and Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013.)

Categories: Important Stuff | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

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