Monday, March 29, 2010

It was a "Great Forest Park Bike Race"

My mood for the first crit of the year was as foul as the weather. Last season I got myself into a rhythm and routine for race prep. I look at my start time, account for registration, warm up, and drive plus give myself an hour of wake up time and that’s my magic formula. With that in mind, the alarm was set for five and the coffee pot was set to grind. Klucker was good enough to pack the car the night before, but whenever I add him and the mini-Kluckers into the mix, I should know things won’t be executed as planned. We left the house ten minutes later than my schedule and trying to guide Klucker, Mr. “I know every road in St. Louis”, around Forest Park without injuring his male pride made us get to the event only thirty minutes prior to start. I headed to registration only to find out they weren’t ready. I took the chance for a quick potty break and grabbed my bike for some warm up. As I headed out, I saw reg was open so I made the stop. I completed my lap and took the checkbook back to the truck. Sam decided he needed to register at that exact moment. I pinned on my number and put on my jersey and rain jacket and waited. 7:54 he comes back to the truck—crabby because I was impatient.

I took two more laps on the course before stopping to talk to a teammate. She decided not to race today because of the weather and injury, and frankly I couldn’t blame her. 41 degrees, rain and wind were not my idea of a good time. I turned around and headed back to the line to wait for the start. They was going to be eight of us in the field this morning. I knew five of the other girls and had raced against them in some form or another. We got our pre-race instructions from Buddy and we were off.

The race was quick off the line and I pushed myself to make sure I was up close to the front. With the wind we were going to hit on the back side of the course, I didn’t want to lead, but I also knew if I got too close to the back I would chance falling off. Kate was leading our pack for the beginning of the race. She was setting a fast tempo. I could hear Steph yell at her when we went by to move back and let someone else work. For the first 15 minutes or so, the field was led by Kate, Trish (one of the girls I didn’t know), Cory, and me. Kate began her attacks around that point. Each time she went off, I made sure I had her wheel. No way I was getting left behind. Kate and I have trained enough together that I know how strong she is. I knew if she got away from me, I was a goner.

We were about 20 minutes in when the bell rang for the prime. I had made up my mind to stay up front, but not to blow myself up going for it. I did that in Soulard last year and wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. My plan was to hold close to the front and attack after the prime sprint. I watched my position and stayed second or third through the lap. As we turned the corner on the front straightaway, I pulled up next to Kate. I kept trying to watch for her to twitch and sprint for the prime, but she didn't go. About 50 meters from the line, I revved up my cadence and pulled ahead and took it. Kate stayed on my wheel, as did Trish. That move began to break the pack apart. From the pictures, I think our group was down to five at that point: Kate, Cory, Susan, Trish and me.

By the time we hit the back straight, we had a small gap. I let Kate take the lead as we moved to turn 4 and held on her to wheel. When we got the five laps to go, Kate turned it on and tried to attack off the front. Trish went with her and I was up and on Trish's wheel. That move took care of Cory. I don’t know when we lost Susan, but it was somewhere in there as well. We were back together in a small group by Turn 1 and I moved to the front to slow us down. I didn't really want to pull, but I knew I need some recovery time and wouldn’t get that with the pace Kate sets. When we got to Turn 4 I could hear Carrie and Teresa yelling at me to get off the front and let someone else work. I wasn't quite ready to let them ramp up the pace yet though. I pulled through the next lap. At three to go, I slowed way down. Trish pulled around me and I looked at Kate and winked. We let her pull us through. I stayed tight on her wheel no matter how much she tried to shake me. I know by the looks she gave me, she was annoyed that I wouldn’t come around. I got the "way to race smart" from the girls on those last few laps. We got to the bell lap and I was trying to decide when to make my move. When we hit turn 2 and moved the windy backside, I added some gear. About halfway through the back stretch, I ramped up the cadence and pulled off. I glanced back at turn 3 and saw Kate was with me. I knew she wouldn't give up without a fight, but Trish was off the back—mission accomplished! We rounded the last turn to the front straight and I heard Kate add gear. I tried to hold her off, but she took first by about a bike length. Her sprint once again took me! I would have loved the first to compliment the prime, but I love Kate did well. That girl has been training hard and smart!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Stolen Moments

I get up most weekdays at 4AM. This is when I workout. Typically I run outside, ride my bike on the Columbia Circuit or on the Road to Nowhere. When the weather is really bad, I delay it till 5 and head to the gym. I don't get up at that because I'm a freaky exercise addict (I am that but that's not the reason I get up that early!) I get up at that time because I'm a mom and a wife. See, racing and working out are my outlet, they're my hobby, my expression of self. I do my best to have them not interfere with my real job in life, my family. As a result of my workout schedule, work schedule, and family, I don't have a lot of just plain quiet time. I rectify that during my "stolen moments."

Most Saturdays and Sundays when I'm not racing I have a long ride. I purposely set my alarm extra early so that I can get up and quietly have a cup of coffee, watch the news, or catch up on Facebook. It's a treat for me to hear the quietness of the early morning, no one asking for anything, nothing but what I want to demand my time. Some mornings, like this one, I get about 20 minutes. It's my time to clear my head, energize and reflect. As I sit here typing, I know my quiet is almost over. I hear the thud of little feet and the banging of the potty lid. In a minute Andy will realize Mommy is awake and have to come down. While I value my stolen moments alone, the first few minutes when one of the kids is awake and we're alone together is my greatest pleasure. Callie and Andy both are their most loving during this time. Whichever one is up first, will crawl up in my lap and just let me hold and cuddle them. I'll smell their sweet little heads, and for just a few moments, share the a special mother/child time. No time demands, attention demands, pressures for anything else--just a few heartbeats of perfection.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Wee Bit Offended

It takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. I’m a pretty easy going, easy-to-get-along-with person for the most part. But Monday night I was offended.

Let me give a back story to begin. I was a sorority girl in college (BIG SHOCK, right!). I clapped, sang, and rushed with the best of them. I celebrated with sisters over candlelightings, did my phone duty like a trooper, and hugged and cried over broken hearts. I went to long, hot chapter meetings, took part in philanthropy events, and wore my letters with pride. That all being said, when I graduated, my association with my house was severed. I stayed in touch with less than a handful of women. Not that I didn’t like a lot of them, but I tend to make a few very deep friendships and then have a lot of surface acquaintances. I didn’t move to Chicago so I was automatically excluded from the social events that many alumnus attended. I assume for that reason I didn’t get emails about Homecoming events. When our chapter was in trouble, I heard through the grapevine…not through our National or an alumni chapter. I actually sought out the National organization and updated information and finally got on an email list several years ago. I get periodic mass emails now, but nothing personally reaching out to me. You need to know all of this to understand why yesterday bothers me so much.

Two weeks ago I got a random email from the new Director of Development at the sorority’s foundation. She was planning to be in St. Louis and wanted to meet to talk about was happening with the sorority on an international level, as well as the exciting initiatives planning leading up to the Centennial Celebration in 2013 and to hear about my experiences at my chapter and the sorority’s newest programs. Yes, I can read between the lines and knew that this was a fundraising pitch. However, the optimist in me truly believed there might be more to it…maybe there would be a place for alums to get involved that didn’t mean just writing a check. Maybe there would be a plan in place for an alum chapter here in the area. Maybe they were even thinking about colonizing a chapter in the St. Louis area.

We met at Starbucks near my work. The young woman was nice enough, cute, in her late 20s. She had gotten there early to get us a table. Obviously though she was originally from the St. Louis area, she hadn’t spent a lot of time in North County to know this wasn’t necessary. She had her coffee already, so I grabbed a cup and walked over to introduce myself. (Now I never mind buying my own coffee, but when your purpose is to try to grab cash from me, you could at least offer to spend $2). We made small talk and she asked some questions other sorors with whom I kept in contact. She mentioned our “national president” who was actually president of my chapter while I was in college. We chatted about how beneficial sorority life was for playing the political game at work in our real lives. During our conversation I wondered how she chose to email me and not be in contact with other alums in the area. It was clear she didn’t know a lot about me other than the university I went to and the era I graduated. She hadn’t even looked at what my degree was because she didn’t know the field in which I worked! Finally, I guess she filled her quota of superficial fluff and she brought out her flip book to show me what was going on nationally. We have 108 chapters now, thousands of members and the goal is to make the sorority “the sorority of first choice” on campuses nationwide. Yada yada yada. She flipped through information about our national philanthropy. She talked about the scholarships that national offered. About five flips in she came to my folder. A nice blue folder that had a notepad and a pledge sheet in it. Gosh, I could fill out the pledge sheet right there and give it to her right then and there. There were even 15 different options on how I could give. I took a deep breath and swallowed. After all this woman was fairly new to the organization (and BTW wasn’t even an alum from my sorority!) and she didn’t realize just how brash what she was doing was. I politely told her I would take the sheet home and talk to my husband about it (like Klucker has any clue to what our finances are) and that most of my charitable monies are already committed to other organizations (this part was true.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge proponent of charitable giving. I send money to my alma maters, both undergraduate and graduate. I donate to other charitable organizations on a regular basis. I would even have considered writing a check to them on the spot had there at least been (1) some acknowledgement of how crappy they’ve been to alumni or (2) this girl had done her homework better and knew something about me and didn’t make me feel like I was a name she pulled from the alum directory because I have the magic Dr. in front of my name. I assume that’s how I got on her list, maybe in her mind, or that of National Dr.=$$. I guess many of them aren’t educators.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Friendship Defined

I got this in a mass-forward email a few months back. It’s not the first time I’ve read this, but for some reason, this time, I didn’t delete it.

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support,
To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend and they are.
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.
Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move on.

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it, it is real. But only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.
Thank you for being a part of my life, whether you were a reason, a season or a lifetime.

I’m not sure why I didn’t delete it when I first received it this time. I’m not a big fan of forwards, and I’d read it on other occasions. I’m thinking about it today for some reason.

I think I’m on a friendship kick. What is a friend really? If you look at my Facebook page, I have over 1,600 friends listed…and that’s down from the 2,000+ I had on there in January. Most of those folks are in my mafia and I’ve never met them, but they’re on my “friend list.” If I drill down further to the group I created “Real Friends” it causes me more thoughts. I’d venture a guess that that list has 300+ people in it. Some of them are people I see and talk to on a regular basis, some are former students or colleagues, some are family members. But how many of them are truly, truly friends?

My “old friend” Merriam-Webster tells me:
Main Entry: 1friend
Pronunciation: \ˈfrend\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English frēond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frēon to love, frēo free
Date: before 12th century
1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : acquaintance2 a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)4 : a favored companion5 capitalized : a member of a Christian sect that stresses Inner Light, rejects sacraments and an ordained ministry, and opposes war —called also Quaker
— friend·less \ˈfren(d)-ləs\ adjective
— friend·less·ness noun
— be friends with : to have a friendship or friendly relationship with

Webster’s definition is much more inclusive than mine. My definition of friend is something like this:
1a: one that I communicate with on a regular basis
2a: one that for whom I would drop anything if they asked
3a: one that can read my mood before I even open my mouth

I could go on for a few more definition lines, but I think you probably get my point. A friendship is not something I take lightly, it’s something I highly value and hold in great esteem. That brings me to the point of this entry. I’m tired of part-time and pretend friends. I’m tired of putting on and playing nice, knowing that I may or may not send me to voice mail the next time I call. I tired of leaving a friendly message, not to hear from you for weeks, or sometimes months. If I hear, “let’s get together soon, I’ll call you next week about dates” one more time, I may tell you to F yourself and hang up. I don’t have the energy to keep up the act and to play these middle school games.

I understand that adult lives are busy. Hell, I work 40-60 hours per week, train another 11-15 hours, and somehow fit in being a mom and a wife—not to mention trying to be a daughter and a sister. I get it. I get that my schedule is different from others; I don’t see many other runners/cyclists out at 4AM. I get that our interests and priorities may be different now than they were when we first met. So then were we ever truly friends? Or was this a relationship of conveniences because we shared a similar experience? It’s OK with me to admit that. We can be acquaintances who shared some powerful moments together whatever they may have been. Don’t bastardize the word friend to me though. If you want to call me that, or want me to refer to you in that sense, step up. I am busy, and I don’t have time to play games that are senseless.

I’ve been culling my friend list on Facebook. I have been deleting my mafia buddies and reexamining the connections with others. If you read the paragraph above, you’ll see that I don’t have time to keep up with senseless drivel or cause request or other drama that constantly plagues some. Sorry if you don’t make the short list, but then maybe it’s time to reflect on why you sent that request or accepted mine in the first place. If you were just curious or nosy about my life, I’m doing just fine. Save the friend request and just give a call next time.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Revisiting the Beginning: A Year Makes All the Difference

What a difference a year makes. I remember pulling up at this race last year, clueless, aerobars still attached to my bike. I had no real clue what to expect and was terrified when we took off because I’d never ridden in a pack. Sunday, I had fun!
The weather was pretty incredible for a February race—it was actually sunny and in the 40s. Of course, that mid-Missouri wind was out in force (although it may have actually only be 12 mph give or take). I registered and got “kitted up” in my borrowed Team Rev gear. I am still adjusting to my team switch and didn’t have a Big Shark kit so Carrie hooked me up with some neutral apparel. Walking through the school and parking lot it felt awesome to recognize and know people. Last year the only person I recognized was Teresa and I had only met her once. This year I had friends with whom to warm up and was excited to race with, and against, them.
I decided to race Cat 4 instead of open and I’m still not sure that was the right decision. We 20 in our field. A lot of the women were unknown to me but that’s not unusual for a road race. We lined up and got stern yellow line warnings from Aero. (Those were hard to take serious because I kept picturing him in his fur coat from last year).
The race began. There was the normal “Cat 4” havoc of trying to figure out what we were exactly out there for. I tried to stay to the front of the group, but avoid pulling because it was windy. The pack stayed together for the first 9 miles or so. A few times some girls would try to slowly pull off the front and I found myself going after them because it didn’t seem like anyone else noticed/cared. Ashley was doing awesome in her first race, she stayed at the front and rode smart. I tried to talk her through what I was seeing because last year I remember not having a clue and missing surges and the break.
Two girls came up in front of Ashley and me and started pulling away. I told Ashley to go after them and I jumped on her wheel. One of them was a bit squirrely so I was trying to stay back from her without letting them get away. We took the second corner and finally had a tail wind. Two more girls jumped up front and the four of them surged. I went after them, dropping Ashley and we were away. Two more girls joined us. I wasn’t sure where the rest of the field was. I held on for a few minutes but they were pulling away. I kept thinking to myself “there is no way they can maintain this pace.” I looked around to see if I had anyone with whom to work and everyone else was gone. I kept trying to pull back up but wasn’t gaining any ground.
I was solo for about four or five minutes when I heard Kate, “Hop on the pain train” and that’s what I did. She had pulled Ashley, Alane and Sandy up with me…all women I know well and train with. Alane organized us into an efficient line and we were set. Every I would go to pull though, Alane would reel me in and tell me to slow down. I wanted to go all out and catch the lead group, but I also knew that I couldn’t bridge to them alone. The five of us ended up working together for the next seven miles or so. Compared to my race last year where I ended up going it alone, this was a cake walk.
With about six miles to go, we hit some small hills. Nothing epic, but in the wind they caused some lactic build up. Somewhere along there we dropped Alane and Sandy and our pace line went to hell. Ashley, Kate and I rounded the last corner back into the head wind. Kate would go up to take her pull and start to ride away. She is known for attacking off the front, so I found myself playing defense a lot and trying to bring her back. As a result, I think I did a lot more work than I really needed to do. I saw the 1K sign and popped it back into my big ring and started revving up my cadence and the tempo. I could tell by the shadow I was pulling away from Ashley. About 50 feet from the 200M sign, Kate pulled around me out of the saddle and was off. I stood up and added gear but my legs put up a fight. I took off the gear and sat down and just spun as quickly as possible hoping I had enough to hold off Ashley. I did. 8th place finish…up six places from last year. More than that, confidence, self awareness, and friendship!