Monday, September 27, 2010

Riding with Chris Horner...what? You didn't know we're like best friends?

I've begun thinking about training again, so I decided to participate in a 100 mile "easy" ride.

I rode the Echelon Gran Fondo 100 mile charity ride for cancer in Hood River. I thought it would be a great chance to see some new sights, have some nostalgia from the Hood Cycling Classic (if you'll recall this awesome finish shot on cycling news, and also get a long ride in.

Turns out a celebrity was there: Chris Horner. Oh and there was also a 20 mile hill climb "race." So much excitement.

So after dodging a rattlesnake, witnessing a few crashes from people taking corners too fast--mind you, on the charity ride, I finally got a good cadence going and made my way to the front of our group. (We were separated from the main group because we stopped at a rest station to get some snacks. Many people were in race mode and treated it like a feed zone. It was pretty fun to watch.)

At the front of the group, I see some men chatting up Chris Horner. I assumed that was him as he was the only one in a "full" Radio Shack kit with matching bike and leg warmers. There were lots of people in Astana shorts, Radio Shack jerseys or with team bikes, but this guy was definitely the real deal. Hey, I had never seen him in the flesh.

Anyway, these guys were crowding round him and there was no way I was going to get to talk to him without causing a crash, so I yelled, "Hey Chris, what do you think about starting a women's Radio Shack team? What if you cut the two slowest guys and then you'd have a ton of money to fund a whole women's program!!!" That got the conversation going and he explained that his girlfriend was on Saturn so he feels my pain for women's cycling. We continued chatting about how men had more power than women and I scoffed saying, "With those skinny legs? Are you sure?" He said, "I know, but it's true."

We continued talking about racing and training and women's teams and I came to a couple of conclusions:

1. I have to get fast enough to beat pro men :)  I don't know how to do that but I've decided the first battle will be taking on the local men.
2. Women have to continue to be nice to each other. There's a rumor that women tear down other women in pro cycling. We have to make sure that doesn't happen. There can be two "she-wolves" in a pack, can't there? I'll have to read up on my Jack London books to see.
3. Chris Horner is a pretty cool guy--despite his skinny legs :) (I'm just jealous.)
4. The Echelon Gran Fondo is a pretty great ride.

Here's some photos for your enjoyment of me having business talks during the ride. You'll notice that my butt isn't that much bigger than his...right?


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Four Week Anniversary

Today is my four week anniversary since my surgery.

It's raining outside. I rode 30 minutes on the rollers this morning, struggling, wanting so badly to get back in shape. I look at podiums from end-of-season races and want so badly to have had that opportunity. I just dropped off the disc wheel I was going to use for track nationals to my friend to help him in the pursuit. I have been spending time looking at photos from recent races, smiling for people's success but then secretly (and now publicly) feeling a bit depressed about falling out of the scene so fast right when I felt like I was strong again, fully recovered from my collar bone incident.

So then I pout a little, cry a little, act cranky...
And then I think about how it could be so worse, so, so worse. I think about others who have gone through things that made my little bit look like a scratch, and I put my pouty, self-wallowing attitude aside and be thankful for what I do have.

It's a little early for Thanksgiving and I don't really celebrate the holiday that much...because it seems to be counter productive to my quest to be fit...but if today were thanksgiving, here's what I'd say.

Dear Thanksgiving,
I'm thankful for the following:

1) I can be on the bike now! That is unheard of so soon after a major surgery. I get dizzy a bit from blood loss but only when I'm lying down and there's no lying down when you're on the bike, so I'm all good.
2) I don't have cancer. Borderline cancer is confusing. But the point is whatever I had is gone and I'm healthy...healing...but healthy.
3) If I missed my opportunities to seal the deal with a pro team, I still have a chance to improve and do even better next year than last. I'm familiar with how NRC races work. I can go to the big races early and continue to prove myself. I think that for my first full road season, my results and trajectory of improvement are outstanding and should earn me a spot on a team (if say, women's cycling was supported and there were actually places for cyclists on teams) but sometimes you just have to play the hand you're dealt, I suppose.

So yeah, I was sitting here not wanting to ride this evening, thinking about how I'm failing and then I took off the pouty lenses and looked at my Heal that Belly Month Calendar. I've already put in 8 hours this week. Why am I not recognizing that I'm doing great? It's cause I always want more more more. Well, 8 hours for a gal who still has scabs on her stomach incision is great. Yeah, great I say. Now if it would just stop raining, I could quit writing such downer blog posts.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Gravitating towards the Positive

This next Wednesday marks three weeks since my surgery and since then my life has been focused on enjoying myself, appreciating the goodness around me, not thinking about watts and training, and healing.

My pathology reported that my ginormous tumor was an "ovarian mucinous carcinogen" that was tagged as "borderline." Basically the doctor said that means I may or may not have had cancer and it may or may not come back. I always like that report. You may or may not be dying. So I asked, does that mean I may or may not need to come back for more treatment? She said that the borderline cases fall between benign and cancerous. It means that if left, it could turn into cancer...or it could not...but the important thing is that it's gone and the surrounding organs were not affected. She said that at this time, no further treatment is required and by removing basically everything on the left lower side of my body, I'm good with just an ultrasound every 4-6 months. I took the news and got out of there before she could fill my mind with any more may or may nots...like you may or may not be able to ride the bike in 10 days....

Because well by that Friday I was on the bike, 10 days afterwards. Before I get crap, I NEEDED IT FOR THE HEALING PROCESS!!! And well it worked, I put in 10 ENJOYABLE hours in last week on the bike and a couple of hikes. My concerned friends and fellow cyclist enthusiasts have been wary, saying I need to not ride, heal, and eat pizza, but in my mind an easy spin around Seattle, breathing in the fresh air and feeling each pedal stroke helps me remember the reasons I'm doing this and also reaffirm my commitment to this sport.

I am proud to say that during my adventures, I did not focus on watts or burning calories or time or distance. I just enjoyed myself and now plus 3-4 pounds later, I have proof that my focus was on just enjoyment...of cycling and trader joe's dark chocolate with truffle candy bars...gulp...I guess I like chocolate...oh and those sesame sticks from trader joe's...yeah, those are good, too.

So, yeah, now, for my three week sans ovary anniversary, my focus this week is on nutrition and making sure I'm filling my body with good food and drink so that I continue to heal at a rapid rate.

Meanwhile, I've enjoyed every minute of the following "Sans Ovary Adventures," as I like to call them.

1. My first ride back on the bike. Of course, I have to show off my new scar :) (Photo credits go to Jeff Dunn--it truly is an award-winning shot.)

2. Being a killer bassist in a great "rock band" with cyclists as members...if that cycling doesn't work out, at least we know we have a place...somewhere... performing Alanis Morrisette covers.

    3. An awesome 10 mile hike to Kendall Catwalk with my friend, Dean, who happens to know every "easy" hike in the surrounding areas--I asked 30 times are we there yet? What's the goal? Where are we going? How many more miles? I definitely need something to tell me my average watts while hiking. I go crazy without data!
4. A ride up Mt. Saint Helens to Windy Ridge with friends. It was a 72-mile ride with a 26-mile climb which I motored through with no problem to my legs or belly. Needless to say, I was thrilled and I think it shows in what I deem as my "Freedom Pose." (Think Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption--What? It's like totally the same thing....)

    Freedom Pose
    Andy Dufresne's original Freedom Pose
5. A backpacking trip to Lake Ann. Too bad the view of Mt. Shuksan was obscured by clouds. I like backpackers because they're obsessed with cutting weight in their packs--just like cyclists want to drop a gram where ever they can :) It gives us something to talk about while walking at 2mph for hours.



To summarize, life is good. Healing is fun and I can't wait to kick some serious ass in 2011. As my friend, Dotsie says, these setbacks will make you bulletproof for the challenges that come your way in the future. I agree. This year I have faced all challenges head-on (whether it be breaking my collarbone, a rock habitating my hand, getting my 148-pound Clydesdale butt up 18-mile climbs, throwing myself into the NRC circuit, or marketing myself to pro teams) and I can see now, as I just moved through something life-threatening with rapid speed, cycling has definitely made me stronger, wiser, and, above all, (as corny as it may sound) appreciative of my life and ability to gravitate towards the positive in bleak situations. I plan to keep up this momentum and see how far I can go next. I'm looking forward to my next adventure.