Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boo's Big Day

You always know this day will come--the first day of kindergarten. It's a rite of passage for all of us, starting school. I still remember my first day. At that time, we only had half day kindergarten and our orientation was the first day of school, so my mom was there the whole time. I did fine without her on day two and the rest of the year, but I was "that kid" that generally liked school--heck well enough that I haven't really left it. But the first day of school as a mom, that's something different.

If you know me well, it shouldn't surprise you that as soon as I got the supply list, it went in my purse with a highlighter. As things went on sale at Target, I picked up what he needed. I felt a little guilt that I didn't make the big deal of taking my boy to get his supplies, but the practical side of me usually overtakes the sentimental side. Boo is so used to me being that way he honestly thinks he picked out his own backpack and told his dad he got yellow because they were all out of orange.

Monday night was Orientation. Sissies weren't allowed so Sam and I packed him up and headed to the school. We got there and I had forgotten the backpack so home we went and back again. There were no cars in the parking lot when we left. It was almost full in the 10 minutes our side trip took! We walk into the newly renovated gym and took a seat near the front. (yes, I was that kid.) As we walked through Boo saw lots of friends and I saw lots of former classmates. Memories flooded back because this was the building I was in for first through eighth grade. It's definitely a lot nicer now! It was interesting to watch another principal in action. I've had to do the same schtick for sixth grade parents and it was fascinating that it's much the same for the little ones. The mass meeting was done and it was time to go to the classroom. Just like a good kindergarten teacher should, the room was decorated, labeled and organized. And Boo's desk is front and center...did someone warn her about my clown? Klucker put away the supplies while I made the rounds signing up for conferences, room parties, and email lists. (I'm avoiding PTA right now, although I feel guilt for that as well.) We chatted with parents of other kids from pre-school and headed home.

Wednesday came quickly. The plan was for Klucker to take Bell to school and I would drive Boo. He had a half day so I would pick both of them up from the pre-school when he got off the bus. (Another tinge of Mommy-guilt was there when I saw other parents listing that Mom or Dad would be picking up it bad my kindergartner is a bus rider?) Sissie wasn't happy with the whole situation. She hadn't slept well the night before and now was in a tizzy over it all. Things were calm once they were out of the house.

7:45AM--time to go. We grabbed the backpack and headed outside. I had to take the requisite photos in front of the house. Into the car and to the school we went. There were already lots of parents and kids there. Time for more photos and we began the walk to the door. One more shot by the school sign before going inside the building. Boo remembered where his room was and we walked outside. Mrs. S gave directions on what they should do if they were early. He sat in the hall and I stood across taking photos. Finally time to go in the room. I hesitated. Should I go with him? Should I just wave? I went in the room and helped him unpack. He put his backpack in his locker (little shorty has to have it moved because he can barely open the ones on the top row!). He came back and I took a few more pics. Mrs. S told the kids they could open their Playdoh while they waited for the bell. I took the seal off the can and that's when it began--the hot burning sensation just below my eyes. The tears were forming. I was going to leave my boy there, in a big kid school. I know what goes on in schools, I see it all the time. Today I was beginning to lose a part of him. Eventually I will no longer be the most important person in his life and this is when that process starts.

I hadn't expected these feelings. Where was this coming from? I knew I needed to get out of there before he saw my tears. It would upset my sensitive one and ruin his day. I quickly hugged him and told him to have a good day and started out the door. "Mommy, can you open the lid? I can't get it." Damn it, I didn't know how long I could hold it back. I popped off the lid and took another hug and kiss. "Mommy loves you. Have a great day." And out I scurried, quickly down the hall, avoiding eye contact. I was on the sidewalk and to the car. Once inside I let go. The tears rolled. I got them stopped by the time I got home. I seriously wondered if I should call or email to check on him and then realized how ridiculous I was.

I kept myself busy through the morning, handling details of my Tuesday evening bike mishap. I headed to pre-school to pick up Sis and wait for the bus. Those 2o minutes took forever, and it didn't help that we saw three other busses pass by. Finally, around the corner it came. I had to laugh when the door open. Boo had been telling me Ms. A (a part time teacher at the preschool)was going to drive him to and from school. I kept telling him he was mistaken, she would probably be putting him on and getting him off the bus. The doors opened and there was Ms. A, she's also a bus driver. The kids poured off. Where was he? Certainly he didn't get on the wrong bus? I was getting a little anxious. No, the little snot, just like his dad, sat in the back of the bus. I barely had time to snap a picture as he jumped out and ran towards us.

We had a special McD's lunch to celebrate. He was full of conversation, but short on details. I knew he had a great day, didn't lose recess time, and saw his cousin in the hall. By the end of the evening, we learned that Olivia got a time out, he went to PE, and colored. I'm sure we'll eventually get other pieces.

Today was the first full day, he rode the bus and all. I'm anxious to get home and see how this went as well. I want him to love school. I want things to be easy for him. I want this transition to get easier for me as well. While I'm excited for him to grow up, I'm scared of him pulling away. There are so many variables out there I can't control for him and now that he's starting school, they will grow exponentially. I guess that's the heartache of being a parent. At sometime you have to let go and trust they are prepared. I'll get there.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Taking Time to Enjoy the Ride

I'm a goal-oriented person. I decide what I want, I plan backwards and strategize and plot a course of action as to how to obtain my goal. I make sure I have short term benchmarks to stay on track and I adjust if necessary. This process typically has served me well both personally and professionally. There's very little I can't do if I set my mind to it.

Lately, I've been plagued by something though. I am typically in such a hurry to reach my goal (after all, good SMART goals are time bound) I don't enjoy my journey and reaching my short term strategies. And I think it's taking some of the fun of grabbing the silver ring.

I'll give you a cycling related example (big surprise!). As I've said before, I've been extremely focused on two goals this season, the state crit and MOBAR. I made a plan in December about what I would do to accomplish these goals. I rode my bike in nasty, cold weather. I rode in rain and wind. I spent hours on the trainer. I suffered through heat. I followed my workouts doing intervals and long rides. The state race came and I almost got it. My plan was sound, my own execution error is what's to blame. I was extremely disappointed. And trust me when I say I don't handle disappointment well.

I'm a professional developer, and I work extensively with adult learners, so I know and believe what Art Costa says about adults learning best through reflection. I love Jack Mezirow's (Columbia University) quote "A defining condition of being a human being is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience." Since April, I've been using my Monday morning runs and my blogs as my means of reflection. I critique my racing--fitness, strategy, and execution--and use the insights to help me get better, stronger, faster. Steve Austin watch out! I ran this past Monday morning and reflected. I pinpointed my strengths and weaknesses from the two races, but I still didn't feel much better about it. I didn't reach my goal. There was, is nothing I can do about it but try again next year. It wasn't until this morning that my thoughts changed.

One of the things that has been significantly different for me and my training over the past nine months is that I frequently ride with a group. My Saturday custom, when we don't have a race, has become for the women racers to head together. The Hub ride is the normal choice and we ebb and flow with our numbers. We ride, try to hold on with the boys through at least Geyer, and then settle in and spin together. We have breakfast, we ride more. It's a lot of fun. I have spent endless hours with Steph, Kate and Alice on these trips and never come away in a bad mood. I have a weeknight tradition as well--I spend an evening spinning and playing with my favorite tris. (That one is really amazing because I typically lament about multi-sporters poor handling skills!)

As I clicked in this morning, I realized that the fun of this bike season has been my journey: my hours with my friends, the epic, silly situations we create, the strange things we see and odd conversations we have. I missed my goal but I have gained so much more. You see, these three women, along with a whole lot more, have become my friends. They're my teammates on a different team. They're a big reason for my addiction to the bike. I've gotten so caught up in pursuit and achievement that I didn't truly appreciate the race I was winning all along.

I've set a new goal for myself. This one will be a truly long range achievement. My new goal is to enjoy my journey. I want to take time to notice how wonderful the short term strategies are and not miss out on the happiness they bring me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gaining Perspective

I've trained hard this season. My focus in life has been family and racing. I get up early on weekend mornings and spend long hours in the saddle. I've raced in rain and blistering heat. I watch what I eat and drink so that I can perform well. I schedule social events around my racing and workout schedule. None of this is because anyone is making me. I don't want people to admire me because of my passion for my sport. It's the lifestyle I have chosen because I love to race my bike.

Last season was a challenge. I didn't see a lot of success in racing in terms of results. I learned from my races, my mistakes, and I grew as bike racer. I hated crit and road racing. I struggled through them because I wanted to get better at them. I loved time trialing because it was me against a clock and I didn't have to worry about anyone else. Still, my results were weak. I decided to take up cyclocross so that I could maintain fitness over the winter. I didn't want to lose the physical gains I had made. Something changed during the fall. While cx races are similar to crits, they're very different as well. I fell in love with cyclocross. My results in cx were no better than my results in crits, but I was having fun. I looked forward to Sunday at noon. I had withdrawals when the season ended in December. It propelled me enough to keep riding, it kept me going in 12 degree weather. I trained through the cold. I was ready for Froze Toes. I actually made the break on that race. The first crit of the season arrived and something was very different. I was competitive and I was having fun. All season I've built on my successes. I still don't like road races, but have grown to love the fast-paced tempo of the crit.

I've planned this season with the end in mind. I had two goals: win the mobra competition and take home a state jersey. I didn't care which of the three state jerseys I took, I would be happy with any of them. The state road race was first, and I bonked terribly. That was okay because there was still two to go. Then I crashed last week. I have put pressure on myself to rehab and recover from it so that I could be my best. I skipped no workout and took more acetomeniphin and ibuprofen than I have in the past year. I raced the time trial yesterday and did the best I could. I knew going into the race I hadn't focused on training for time trialing, so my goal was to be strong. I was. But I didn't win.

It all came down to today. I felt great this morning, nervous, but great. I got to the course, registered, dropped off my wheels and got ready. I got a great warm up and pulled to the line. There were only four of us: Britta, Kate, Nicole and me. Instructions, whistle, go. Kate and I sat on the front for about half a lap and Britta pushed passed. She wanted to work, fine with me. She pulled three laps before she sat up. I moved in line and took a lap. Kate took her turn. Somewhere Nicole fell off. And that's how it went. We took our turns, did our work and went round and round. Six to go, five, four, three, two and I took my pull. We came around the last turn on the course and I sat up to let Kate take her pull. I moved in behind Britta. We went past the start finish, around turn one and into turn two and Kate took off. I stayed on Britta's wheel and she reacted well to Kate. She was back on Kate's wheel by the bottom of the hill. The pace stayed high as we climbed and did the small descent before the steep climb. On the climb, Britta went around Kate. I stayed on her wheel. I was going to let her lead me out. We zigged through the parking lot portion and made the final turn. I went close on the inside. Scraped, slide, fear. My pedal hit the curb. My back tire fishtailed. I held onto the bike and recovered. I went wide and came close to the curb on the other side but straightened out. Britta was riding away with it. I was up and working. Spin and gear, spin and gear. I was gaining. Spin and gear. I was driving that bike as hard as I could. I was on her wheel. Up to her pedal. There's her fork. There's the finish. I didn't make it.

I dropped my head in disbelief. All of this for second; no jersey. My spirit dropped. I congratulated Britta and Kate for good racing. I smiled as I talked to teammates who told me I raced well. But it wasn't what I wanted. I text and emailed the people who needed to know my result and headed up for a medal. I pushed Kate to check about the jersey from yesterday and she won it. I'm so happy for her because she'd focused on the tt all season and her work paid off. I'm glad she and I rode to the race together, because it would have been a long two hour drive home alone in the mood I was in. I put my bag down when I got home and pouted. Klucker tried to boost me. He and Steph had already reminded me that I have a strong, solid lead in Mobra and that's more impressive than one race. Yeah, whatever. I was still down. I wanted the win. I wanted the jersey. (Maybe I should have listened better to that "Thou shall not covet" message in Sunday school.)

I finally went to shower and put my wet clothes away. As I was cleaning out my bag, I grabbed my medal to show the kids. They love any bling I bring home and are always happy for me. Then I went to hang my medal on the mirror where I keep them. Wow, so that's what I've done this season. And oh my, those are all from this season. Ok, so today didn't end how I would have liked. I wanted the jersey. I may never win one, I realize this. For me, this seemed like my best chance. What I did do today, was race well. I held a wheel and worked how I wanted to work. I positioned myself where I wanted to be. I answered the attacked. I held through a skid and recovered. I sprinted like I stole the bike. I will be ok. I will race Gateway Cup and finish my season strong. And, barring something unforeseen, I will win Mobra. It's a good perspective to have.