Maui Thoughts

I've got a thinking/working/get it done face on there.

 I think a lot. Maybe too much. The pros, the cons, the good, the bad, the best , the worst, the hope , the fear. Think too much. Anyway. Here's what I'm thinking. Starting to mountain bike less than a year before attending an off road championship race might be a bit much. Some people might say "you should have waited a year".  I'm glad I went while I had the chance. Once people read about all the fun I had they will all be competing with me for a spot at that race. That's what I am thinking.

More Maui

The book is still in the works. In case you need photographic proof of what an awesome experience Maui was here's a few photos.

 Tim and I with the overall champion Conrad Stolz. I love watching him ride the bike, he's strong like bull. In person he seems more like a gentle giant. Note: He is in his race kit still which means I must have finished right behind him.
A wave hello. I'm happy to be exiting the lava field even if it is in exchange for deep sand. The joy of finishing 28 minutes behind your spouse. He can come back and take a few photos.

One Bike and One Bag

Tomorrow I leave for Hawaii with one bike and one bag. Seven years ago I went to Hawaii to work and to live and with me I brought only one bike and one bag. I had never been to Hawaii and really fought to find an assignment there. The hospital I found with an opening was in a town called Ewa Beach. I couldn't find much information on it. It was about 15 miles leeward of Honolulu. I imagined it was well kept locals secret and couldn't wait to see that beach. I was informed by my agency that I wouldn't need a car because the public transit was amazing. The bus actually went on strike about the time I arrived but I wasn't worried I had my bike. I remember arriving sort jet lagged and tired but I assembled by bike anyway. I needed to do  essential things, like see that beach I had been dreaming about, oh and buy things like toilet paper. I'm not sure what my face looked liked when I arrived at the beach park and saw warning signs that you shouldn't swim because of Pearl Harbor. There was nobody there except two men siphoning gas out of a car that had no doors left was jacked up on blocks. I pedaled away from there pretty quickly. I thought it was no problem. I'll would just ride into Waikiki. It was only 15 miles. The next town over was Waipahu. To say the least it wasn't a good place for biking and I realized I couldn't get to Waikiki this way. I was stuck in Ewa Beach. No internet, no cable, no car, no, bus, no AC and no island breeze in Ewa. I had come so far to be just shy of paradise. As most of my colleagues, I came with expectations the experience didn't match.

Thankfully I met another travel nurse. She was new too and like me new not a soul. Instead of a bike, she had a rental car. It even had AC. Her last assignment was in LA not Marquette, MI. Negotiating traffic was no stress to her. We explored everywhere and I had a nice mix of island paradise mixed with reality.

I'm looking forward to returning to Hawaii. This time I return with no expectations. I know the race will be difficult but this time in Hawaii I have Tim and a rental car.  What more could I need?


Sunday I rode the San Juan trail behind  with Tim and Paul. It was raining but we rode anyway. In life there are no rain checks, just missed opportunities.I love the San Juan trail. I feel like my mountain biking has come a long way this year. Nothing to something is a long way, even if there is still a long way to go. Note, I'm still wearing the padded shorts and elbows. (Fat) Flossie got sick of me calling her fat and tossed me twice last week. I  tried to complain to Tim about Flossies manhandling me. It was of no use. He calmly said Flossie lodged the same complaints about me every time I dump her in the dirt. I whined Flossie could knock my teeth out. Speaking of teeth, Tim mentioned he had just finished bending all of the teeth on Flossie's big chain ring back into place. Apparently, shifting under pressure is not such a good idea. I reminded Tim that Flossie threw me into the bushes and I got scratched up. Tim asked how I thought Flossie felt about all her scratches? Hers will never heal. I made an attempt to make it up to Flossie. I got out a black Sharpie and colored in the scratches on her rear shock, then I gave Flossie a good bath. She should be happy with me now. It's about all I can offer at this point. A better rider could treat poor Fat Flossie better but I am the level that I am.

Something is a long way from nothing.

In case the spa treatment wasn't enough I'm going to take Flossie to Maui. She'll be happy about that racing is what she was made for. 
Tim says it's my "A" race. Knowing Tim, he means "A" as in adventure. I can honestly say the preparation has felt more like adventure than training. I think I trained, adventure being the byproduct. I might have that backwards. Either way, it won't matter when I am old and gray.

I hear it's a great race to not be a rookie. Cheers to the high speed read as there is no pre riding the course.

Bike Rescue

I believe good upstanding citizens rescue dogs and cats from animal shelters/garages. Today, Tim and I rescued a steel frame, circa 1992, made in the USA Serrotta from spending the rest of it's life gasp hanging on a hook in a garage. It is very unfortunate we didn't find this bike a few weeks ago because I so would not have overslept for the tri clubs retro race. Eventually the bike will go to live at my parents house in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Typical yuppies, rescue something and then dump it on the parents. Now, when we go to visit I will have a road bike to ride. I know the baggage handlers are really sad they won't have the opportunity to throw my bike around the next time I visit my folks.

Although this bike is in good physical shape it clearly has endured emotional abuse. Exhibit A: The handlebar tape. I would never subject one of my bikes to this. Never ever. Exhibit B: The seat. I know my buttock is large enough to cover the seat, but it is not so large that I won't lift it off the seat to climb up a hill. Poor bike. Who thought red and black matched a blue and violet frame?

In a perfect world Tim would spend all of his free time riding bikes. Since this is not a perfect world he is often chained to a computer and pager. In between answering pages and reviewing x-rays of potentially broken bones he loves to work on bike projects. Although it has to be a creative satisfying project, don't think he just sits around cleaning and tuning mine. As soon as we arrived home Tim started taking parts off the bike and started looking through our spare parts for upgrades. About an hour later he came inside with a very happy look on his face. He looked like an 8 year old kid on Christmas morning. He said he had an overwhelming desire to 80's out the bike. Let the games begin.

Halloween Race

Despite not wearing a cool costume I was rewarded for my efforts yesterday. My legs really didn't want to go as I tired them out but good last Saturday. I made them toe the line and went home with hardware. 

I didn't quite win. I was second place. Actually I prefer you all refer to me as the 1st runner up not first looser. The gal who won first place deserved it, she dressed as Bon Jovi. I would celebrate by making pumpkin pie. After carrying around the pumpkin for a while I realized it was slowing me down. The season is not over yet for me so I think a scoop of super greens mixed into my electrolyte solution and a few hours of toddling around on the bike will serve me better.

As far as that other race. The race on that other island. I couldn't have been more excited for those I was following. I think their dreams just might have come true. All I can say is "Wow."

Perspective Is

"My Life Doesn't Suck"

The phrase I seem to be hearing a lot of these days. I think it's pretty darn cool. I am glad to be surrounded by people who are so positive and grounded. Otherwise, I might do nothing but spin my wheels, wondering how to run my wheels.

Regarding the wheels I did my homework. Proper preparation is everything. I called the Ellsworth, the manufacturer of my wheels and bike and asked just what I should do. They confirmed if I didn't run the tire tubeless I'd pinch flat over and over again. Visions of flatting in the lava fields danced in my head. Unlike my road bike tire that I cram 120 psi into, I roll about 30 psi on my mountain bike. The lower pressure allows me a cushioned and forgiving ride. It also makes it easier to pinch the inner tube should I go freight training over rocks and such. It turns out the model of wheels I have are not "tubeless ready". Vision of $$$ danced through my head. I thought I was going to be told to upgrade. Instead the tech rep told me another way of converting the wheels. This method would even solve the problem of not being able to unscrew the valve stem. Drum roll please.......the inner tube trick. I wrote down the directions exactly as my teacher said. Then, I made it sound so easy to Tim. I pretended I was going to do it myself. I think Tim was impressed an took interest. I exited as quickly as possible feigning that making eggplant parm in a very healthy tasty manner is quite a job. Dishes are now done and the wheels are converted. Fingers crossed it works 

Back to the whole "My life doesn't suck" and I have a little perspective topic. Today was one of those days the made my wheels stop spinning for just a little bit. I guess working in the ICU will grant you those moments. I cared for an elderly couple. They were enjoying the cruise trip they had been dreaming of. Ok so she was 79 and he was 83, but they totally looked young. I'd guess 60's. Unfortunately, the trip was cut short when the wife became sick and needed a breathing tube. They were a really sweet couple. They were far away from home, with no support in San Diego. The husband was tearing up as he talked to me. He commented "You wait your whole life for a trip like this."

 You'd think I'd have situations like this all the time. More often than not it's fighting amongst family members. Who gets the information first? Baby mama, the girlfriend, or the wife? This man was very choked up. I felt at a loss to help him. Pretty much I needed a time out. I pulled the "Sir, have you eaten anything today?" trick. I convinced him he needed to eat. I don't think he ate at all. Upon return, he said he found the chapel. He said some prayers. I told him he said good prayers because we started weaning her from the ventilator.Then I really worried. It was true but I could eat it if things went wrong.  This made him happy and I felt much better :) 

The man told me how wonderful everybody had been to him. He was so thankful. I really hoped his prayers would be answered in the way he wanted them to be. I could tell she was his best friend. He was so scared. Stories just don't always have a happy ending in my unit. It's basically death or drama, usually drama. I was crossing my fingers, you see bad people seem to be so much more resilient. Although clinically she looked ok, I was really worried for the husbands sake. I didn't want to think of that man alone in San Diego grieving for his wife, having regrets. Can't deal, can not deal and that is referring to me. I wished the man would get hostile and blame the cruise ship or something. It's so much easier dealing with patients who throw things at me and try to kick me. Isn't there an agitated patient for me to simmer down? I would have bit my nails if it wouldn't give me MRSA or C-diff or something. Luckily (for me), the lady did well. The breathing tube was removed. The man was ecstatic. His fears of loosing her are gone, but mine aren't. I can think of 20 possible set backs. I am really hoping they don't happen. I'm crossing my fingers now. My take away  is not, don't travel when you are 80. Rather make sure by the time you are 80 you have lived your dreams. It's much easier on your health care provider :) 

Well, it's past my bedtime. Tomorrow there is  race. Actually two. I'm racing in one. That will be easy. See I have pre-exisiting excuses. Today, I let a nursing student give me my flu shot. It's the perfect excuse. Now you all understand why I swam so slow. I am also totally unprepared. It's obvious my heart isn't in it....I don't have a Halloween costume and it's the costume race. Tim says I am wasting my ture potential. It could be my race. He could be right but I lack confidence and need the excuse first. After the race I can say, if only I dressed as Harry Potter I am certain I would have won.

 The second race is where my energy is. It's also on an island. The only difference is... well everything. All my best to all my friends and training pals racing. I hope you have a day that exceeds your wildest dreams.

SoCal Fat Tire Epic 50: A Book With Chapters

Today Tim and I did the SoCal Epic 50 race at Vail Lake in Temecula. It won't lie it was actually 48 miles. My main goal was have fun. I also hoped to execute somethings I didn't in Tahoe so I can have a better day in Hawaii. Today's race was twice as long and twice as hot as Tahoe but I felt twice as good. I guess altitude really does count for something. That being said it was still a day that required more than Wheaties. It was a day for a roar like Tony the Tiger. Here it is in chapters. Read's like an Oprah pick minus an editor.

#1 The Hole shot. 

I planned to ride the first lap and race the second. It was to be a long day. Guess what? I got the "hole shot" for the girls. Well the amateur ones. It was a happy accident but it made me smile just the same. Let's be honest: I just like the sound of it. "Hole Shot". I was right behind Tim and I knew he'd be proud of me. 

#2. Chill Out:

  The first 10 miles humbled me greatly. I didn't know what was coming and I was late on all my turns and shifting. I shifted under pressure continuously and set a new PR for throwing my chain. Yes, throwing my chain. I don't drop it. I throw it. I was also riding like a crazy person, charging up the hills until I about rolled down backwards. The chain throwing bothered me. I hung my head in chain shame. Finally, I decided to get a clue and copy off the people who looked smooth in their execution. I was going back and forth with them and felt I was expending myself for no real gain. If you can't beat them, join them right? I learned I just needed to ride more patiently, climb with a less panicked approach. I just chilled out. Guess what? It got easier. Things really came together. One by one I started passing people and it was sticking. Lap one was  history.

#3 The Pitt Stop:

Special needs in Ironman is cool but the "Pitt" is even better. You get to set up a little camp with all you need. Our camp was a really cool 2000 Subaru that recently passed the smog inspection :) I pulled into the "Pitt" with 2:20 on the Garmin switched hydration packs, threw ice cubes down my shorts. We had all sorts of everything in case we needed it, even spare pedals. I was going to reapply sunscreen but I decided it was not a priority after passing all those people. My arms and face are now fried and I look like a dork if it makes you feel any better.

#4. I Ripped:
 I ripped my arm coolers off because I thought they weren't having a cooling effect at the speed I was traveling. When I say "ripped" I mean ripped. Seriously one ripped into shreds. I guess adrenaline does funny things.

#5 . I Pods are Legal:

 The race directors acknowledged it would be a long day. They legalized I Pods and even made it a point to announce it. They just asked for racers to be smart, play it low. Total performance enhancer.

#6 Cramping Up without Crapping Out.

 I cramped like never before but made good choices and managed it well. I downed all my planned nutrition and drank liters. I figured everybody was cramping. It was 100 plus degrees. I had so much fun loop 2. All these things I screwed up the first time I nailed. I only threw my chain once. Hah.

#7 Motivate with Motivator:

10 miles out I got really excited. I really felt like I was "having a breakthrough." I knew what was left and there was plenty of caffeine in my blood steam. There was fun single track, "easy climbing", more single track, then out to the pavement where I was going sprint my legs off to the finish. I wanted to finish like in the movie "Chasing Legend" where the crusty old guy comes on the radio and and tells the tour riders "You're going to eat shit now boys" He makes them cry like babies. They sprint into a paincave until the finish line. Yup, that was my vision.

#8 Paul Simon, Graceland:

6 miles out I was railing on the single track. Loving life. Paul Simon, Graceland  was blaring on the I Pod.  It was all I could do to not start bouncing up and down with my suspension. I was so excited. Tim would NOT be expecting me so soon.  I noticed my rear tire was sliding around the corners and it seemed slower up the climbs. Maybe despite my bouncy state I was fatigued.  Then I really skidded sideways. I was in such denial with 5 miles to go but I didn't want to eat it. I hopped off the bike for an inspection. The rear tire was really low.

#9 Trusting Latex:

Today was my first day going tubeless. Tim warned me if the tubeless leaked a little to pump it to a higher pressure. The latex goo would presumably fill in the leak. I guess you could say those who trust in latex are taking a chance.

 #10 Down Hill From Here:

This is where it all goes downhill. I hastily filled the tube with a bit of CO2, ripped off the adapter, replaced my camel back straw in my ear. Yes, I tried to put my straw in my ear instead of my head phone. I was riding my bike like I was on borrowed time. The borrowed time ran out and so did the air in my rear tire. Two miles out I was on the rim.

#11 Good For Lance:

 I am told Lance rode the final 4 miles at Leadville on a flat. Good for Lance. I find this impressive. I am not sure what kind of tires he rolls but mine rolled off the rim. Riding was not an option now. A maintenance truck came by and offered a ride. Thanks but no thanks. I came mostly to have fun and to learn today. Racing the way I was exceeded my expectation. The opportunity to execute my goals was still there and I wanted not to quit.  I started to try to run it in. 2 miles in mtn bike shoes. I didn't think of barefoot running. How long would it take me 20 minutes? More.  Did I have to finish with the bike?

#12 The Kindness of Strangers

 A male passed and asked if I needed anything? I was not his problem. I selfishly thought it would take me max 10 minutes to insert a tube. Max! Especially since the bead was off. I sheepishly bummed some Co2 . He handed me his adapter with it. I tried to chase after him to give back the adapter. That it had but he said he'd get it later. I felt a bit greedy. Me, me, me, My finish was all I could think about.

I was stumped. There was a valved screwed in the whole my new valve should go through. I tried and failed to remove it. I pontificated a tool was required. Yes, girl who stick straw in ear pontificates. I found a strange piece of hardware amongst my belongings. I tried to use it. Failed. Now my bike was in several pieces, running was not an option. Another man and asked if I needed help. I named Tim's bike and of course he knew it. I asked it him message Tim that his wife was hosed when he got to the finish. An SDBC rider came by and asked if I needed help. I selfishly told him I didn't have the right tool to remove the valve stem and he in serviced me on how it was done. No tool required it just unscrews and I don't know why I couldn't do that. He was so kind.

The number of people willing to take time out of their race to salvage mine absolutely floors me. I resumed changing the tire. It was a big slippery latex mess, but the tube went in easily. The tire was super soft from the heat. I prepared to inflate with the huge can of borrowed CO2. I couldn't get my adapter on the valve stem. I was perplexed. I stared at it in dismay. I know I am the girl who stuck her straw in her ear but the inners were missing from my CO2 adapter. No question about it. That thing, I assumed was a strange tool packed by my loving, hard working husband, was a piece of the adapter. Slap forehead with hand now! It wasn't over though. The nice man  lent me his adapter with the can of CO2. I wasn't really sure how to use his gas. I was really afraid I'd be like Chrissie Wellington in Kona and send the CO2 into the atmosphere. Just in case you hadn't had enough of the men who asssisted the damsel in distress stories here's one more.

Driving toward me in a golf cart was the nice race director. The man, the myth, the legend, who legalized the I-Pod. He even checked to see if I had pinched the tube. I didn't, I gave myself an a A on that assignment. I commented that I was only 2 miles out right? Less than that. 1.5 miles and 1 was down hill. I forgot about the parade lap.

#13 Parade Lap:

At the beginning of the race we did and out and back on the pavement through the Vail Lake Campground. I forgot about the parade lap. Who forgets they started their day in a bike parade?  Is their am emoticon for hand slap to the forehead. Shoulda, woulda, coulda ran faster than that fiasco. Well in hindsight I could have ran 7:30 pace into the finish, that's how it works. I learned so much about the kindness of strangers and how to deal with tubeless.

#14 Celebrate in Style:

A pickup truck will do.

Tim got second place in the single speed division. The nice lady is getting out the jersey for the winner of the division. Single speed savages.

Despite loosing time I still got some hardware. I lost a couple places in the women's overall rankings. Raise your hand if you care? I don't see any hands.  I know your heart bleeds for me. I mean my latex mess is right up there with world peace. No? Aslo that is a horrendous picture of me but once again I feel your heart bleeding.

Some are saying the competition isn't very deep.

Yup, It's just that easy ;)

Seriously though. Big, huge, gigantic and enormous thanks and hugs to all those who encouraged me today in so many ways. I am overwhelmed by your kindness.You made my day a positive one. Special thanks to Tim and Paul for the time they spent on my bike and well waiting for me while I ride it.