National Bike to Work Week
May 21, 2011
Ok, I admit it. I’m pretty much a fair weather bike commuter. I started bike commuting last fall and rode until the Friday before “fall back”, the switch from daylight saving to standard time. In the fall, I enjoyed riding the 11 mile route in the cool temperatures, and found the early morning frost to be a beautiful addition to the ride. However, I just am not comfortable riding in the dark, nor on snow and ice. So once the time changed, the commuter was put away for the winter.
As young as you feel (or act)…..
March 18, 2011
With the exception of 21, birthdays which bring you to an age ending in a 1 are not exactly milestones. Milestones would be the ones ending in a zero, the ones signifying a decade passing…30..40..50..60.. Or the ones ending in 9, bringing the “I’ll stay 29 forever” mentality. In fact, the namesake of my junior high school, comedian Jack Benny, made a whole schtick out of being 39. So much so, that our team name was the 39ers. Seriously, google, it, in Waukegan, IL there is such a school, my father taught there for much of his career, my brother and I attended.
This picture is of me, yesterday, on my most recent 1 birthday, a birthday on which a friend tweeted “no way you were as cool then as you are now”. The weeks leading up to this birthday had caused me to acknowledge the change in me over the last couple of years. And to reflect on the birthdays before.
I was excited about turning 30. At that time, I’d just been promoted to my first true management role. 30 felt like a good transition, an age to take me away from the uncertainty and indiscretions of my 20s. Five short years later, everything had changed. 35 was a tough birthday. I cried much of the day. Was at a miserable place in my life – unhappy marriage, feeling stuck in my career, obese, health problem after health problem. Unable to see a bright future. I felt old, really old.
In hindsight, attending a school where I was a 39er, seems to have been karma for me. Set up a bit of fate. Not in the “I’ll lie and say I’m 39 forever” sense (tho’ it has crossed my mind), but in the idea of challenging conventional age wisdom. The point where I started to get it right. The age I got re-married. Not too long before my 39th birthday, I discovered I was pregnant. Was going to have my first child. An unexpected surprise, but one I am thankful for each and every day. I don’t have any memory of hand wringing or fear over turning 40, was probably too far into the sleep deprived world of the mother of an infant to care. Never really thought of it as a milestone.
Seems like the next few years passed in a blur. Career moves by both my husband and I moved us around a bit. I got settled. Maybe too settled. Slipping once again into a life by rote. Comfortable, yet increasingly uncomfortable. Sedentary. Health issues creeping up as my weight crept back up. Slowly coming to the realization that if I continued down this path I would not be able to keep up with my son. That my health, my weight was affecting the things I loved. Many of the activities I enjoyed, visiting amusement parks, gardening were becoming harder and harder. Unable to do horseback tours or ziplines, because I was over the maximum weight limit. Beginning to avoid or dread activity. Knowing this 39er was about to be a 49er….it was time for a change, time to once again challenge conventional wisdom around age.
Heading towards my 49th birthday, I changed. As my weight went down and my fitness up, I gained back confidence in myself, in what I could do. At 49, I finally got scuba certified, entered and completed my first half marathon (and my second), began to re-discover the joy of cycling, bought a road bike, learned the empowerment of fitness.
Here’s to 51….the year I will complete a triathlon, run a couple more half marathons, finally run my first 5k, continue to learn to mountain bike, continue to bike commute, hopfully, try a zipline or two. Continue to set an example of a fit, active lifestyle for my son. Continue to bring activity and fun into my family’s life. Maybe inspire a person or two. But mostly, relish the freedom and agelessness being fit provides me.
March 6, 2010
When I first joined Twitter, my profile said “Making lifestyle & fitness changes for my health, to scuba with the fishies and keep up w/ my 9yo son”. Lots of changes have occurred since that post, not the least of which is the 9yo is now a 10 1/2 year old. This last week along with the future week have caused me to re-visit that statement.
For so long, I have let my weight influence or limit what could I do. Look closely at the picture of the skiing tickets. One from this past Sunday, and on the same coat is one from 14 years ago, the last time I’d skied. So not only could no longer fit this coat; which I am happy to say is now too big for me, I hadn’t skied for 14 years.
Last Sunday I took my son on his first ski/snowboard trip. For a brief second I considered also trying snowboarding, but realized that sport requires far too many attempts to get up from the ground, and maybe I should stick to what I know, skiing. I mean really, what is it about snowboarders and sitting on their asses at the top of the slopes? I’m hoping this is a beginner trait, but c’mon.
We headed to Sunburst, a local MKE ski “resort” for their family fun day. Fun, we had!!!!! Each of us took lessons. Son to learn for his first time, and Mom to get her legs under her.
Best part was the ski instructor commenting about my great balance. For those of you who know me or follow my daily mile training, I struggle, really struggle with balance. While my twitter profile didn’t call out balance, what a great feeling for someone to comment on my nemesis. How far I have come!
Family fun day was a huge success – both for the resort which drew a HUGE crowd, and for my son, who loved snowboarding. Being able to experience this with my son, awhile re-connecting with an old passion of mine was PRICELESS!
Day was a huge success…and for those of you with kids, you know this is one of the best signs of a successful outing with your child.
I’ve made huge progress on those other two objectives also. The health one almost goes without saying but if you haven’t already read – I’ve gone from borderline high blood pressure to 120/76 without med, no longer take drugs for GERD (and have NO symptoms), and my cholesterol has dropped from 243 to 168 without meds. All accomplished through diet and exercise. Not to mention as I sit 12 days from a milestone birthday, I feel the best I have of my adult life.
Lastly, that scuba thing. Finally got up the nerve to take the class. Sailed through the pool/classroom portion. In the morning we leave for Mexico. Next time you hear from me, I will be a certified diver. Something I’ve wanted to do as long as I can remember. In my 20’s I couldn’t afford it, in my 30’s I was too out of shape. And now as I close my 40’s, I will accomplish that objective. Sweet!
October 18, 2009
This weekend brought a couple of unrelated incidents that made me realize how my mental image of myself has, or maybe more accurately, is changing. Hubby and I were down in Chicago celebrating our 10th Anniversary. First up was a surprise trip to the spa for a massage and facial. When the massage therapist asked me if there were any areas in particular for her to focus on, I caught myself saying, “Well, I have a tendency to hold tension in my traps and my IT bands really need work”. Say what….
After the massage as I was waiting for the facial technician in the “relaxation” room, it hit me that I really was relaxing, fully comfortable in the robe they had supplied. That I hadn’t had to ask for a larger robe, or sit there in one that didn’t quite close – or worst of all, sized up by the receptionist at check-in and offered to swap out the usual robe for a plus sized one. Instead I was perfectly comfortable sitting there waiting in the normal robe, which actually felt large, wrapped over completely in front. Such a nice feeling, couldn’t help but smile.
Then again none of this really should have surprised me. Hell, we’d brought our bikes on this trip; planning to take advantage of Chicago’s Lakeshore trail and a promise of sunny not too cool weather. That would never have happened 15 months and 65 pounds ago. Yet as I’ve made these changes to healthier foods, healthier eating, regular exercise, gone down several clothing sizes; I’ve never really thought about the changes to my mindset to the way I thought about myself, the boxes I put myself into.
But this weekend, I realized that I think of myself as a bit of an athlete. That being active is not something I do, it is something I am. And that while my weight loss journey is not over (35 pounds to go), I have taken great strides forward, I have changed not only my body, but my mind.
Which leads to this morning’s ride. The trail along Lake Michigan is a gem. One enjoyed by a wide variety of people. Sure there were plenty of people out for a casual stroll, but for the most part on this Sunday morning the path was populated by other athletes – folks out for a serious work out. Some passed us, plenty we passed. It felt good, I felt strong. We rode 32 miles on the trail – a loop north to Foster Avenuse and south to about a mile past the Science and Industry Museum. But best of all, I felt like I belonged.
Pushing my limits………
September 27, 2009
Sometimes the universe just aligns….hubby out of town, son at a friend’s house, bike already loaded in the car…. rare afternoon with no plans, no deadlines. My first thought was “naptime”; but that thought was followed quickly by “go for a bike ride”. I’ve been doing my riding on the roads in an 8-10 mile radius of my house. Busy roads, many with bike lanes but still lots of cars. Sure, I’ve found a couple of parks with trails, but those are short, barely 1 or 2 miles. I’ve wanted to give the Glacial Drumlin trail a go, and I seemed to have the perfect opportunity.
While I like and appreciate the social aspects of cycling, the Sunday morning long rides with my husband, the shorter leisurely rides with my son; what I really I love about cycling is the solo aspect. How I can use it to tune out the rest of the world, connect with myself, push myself; get lost in the mental dialogue to go further, go faster, push through wanting to quit, push past the muscle fatigue. I find the same thing with running (though my body, esp. my hips, doesn’t seem to appreciate it), with training for or doing the half marathons, with yoga.
Left out from the Fox River Sanctuary in Waukesha, WI which is at the east end of this 52 mile trail. The first 12 or so miles are paved, the remainder hard packed gravel. My goal was to ride the entire paved portion, an approximately 25 mile ride out and back. This would be my longest ride to date. A decent test for what I could do. Looking at my training log, it was just three weeks ago that I was wondering if I could ride 10 miles, and here I was determined to go 25. This is an out and back ride, so if I made it to the end of the paved portion; I had no choice but to ride the whole way back. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to push to my limits.
On entering the trail, I immediately fell into a rhythm. Loved that I could just ride with no cars or traffic to worry about. Could wear earphones and listen to my music. Dutifully stopped at the self-pay box for a trail pass, but after that didn’t stop until I hit the halfway mark, was able to just ride. Passed a few leisurely riders along the way. Got passed by a “real rider” hunched over on his road bike. That just pissed me off, pushed me to ride faster. Discovered that I could maintain his pace, which was a pleasant little jolt.
Enjoyed the views of the hills around me, the trees, and the occasional stream to cross.
The town of Wales at the 7 mile mark offered restrooms and tables if I had chosen to stop.
Dousman had a quaint feel with its gazebo, and aptly located “Bicycle Doctor” shop.
Shortly, out of Dousman the pavement stopped. I’d made it to my planned halfway point, but wasn’t ready to stop. Continued on the gravel portion.
Realized shortly after passing the 14 mile marker that while I still felt fresh, I had the ride back, decided to turn around.
Last couple of miles was a little tough; legs were rubbery when I got to the car. But damn I felt good! Loved this first trail ride. Love knowing I can go further than I thought possible, but a bit sad that I’m making these discoveries in the fall, and will soon have to stop for a bit…because as this sign reminds me, there are other uses of this trail.
Glacial Drumlin Trail from Waukesha
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