Saturday, April 18, 2009

I dreamed a Dream...

...yes I admit - I too am caught up in all the Susan Boyle hysteria. Why not?? An average person - who has had challenges in her life, gets one shot to do something really big, and even in the face of laughter and cynicism - she takes that one shot and makes her dreams come true..what a story...

- no - my story is not so great - but it does involve taking one shot and making something of it.


I have never raced Sea Otter in any capacity. I've gone to watch, gone to cheer, but never had the desire to race it. This year was different because I was mountain bike racing, and if you race mtn bikes, you gotta race Sea Otter (Snotter) at least once..

A couple of weeks or so ago, Carrie made an announcement on a local MTB list that Crankbrothers was running a deal - demo their wheels and if you podium, you get to keep the wheels....these are thousand dollar wheels!!! "shit!" I thought (after just having a great race at the Napa Valley Dirt Classic) "its worth a shot". I mean..they are cobalt blue - close to the color of my bike, and light as hell. So I closed Carrie's email, got online and reg'd for sea Otter, then sent an email to Crank Bros.

Three days later, these beautiful wheels show up at my door. It was hard NOT to focus on the possible outcome of this race - even 10 days ahead- knowing that I might possibly keep these wheels - "don't get ahead of yourself - stay in the moment" I kept hearing my coach say.

anyway - the Saturday before my race, Paule and Julie met me at the course to pre-ride. As fate would have it, circumstanced dictated that I would pre-ride the course at about the same time as I would be racing on the following Friday. PERFECT! It would give me a chance to see what wind was like at that time, and the temp. I always like to pre-ride at the time of day I race. but MAN! I did not like the weather...those damn gale force winds?? and 50 some ass degrees?? C'mon! this is California and this is Monterey? What the hell?? But I kept reminding myself that I needed to feel this to know (hopefully) the worst it could be. Julie was kind enough to remind me - it could be worse - it could rain too :) awesome.

Race Day:
I got to Laguna Seca on time, got everything together, and even got on the trainer to get good and warmed up. Chris was kind enough to fix my back disc so it wouldn't rub...I knew my strategy for the race - be the first to the single track, recover on the first bit of single track, and then I knew the various places i would eat, recover and push. I was worried about the mental aspects of the last 2-3 miles...the slog up the hills. I don't mind the physical aspects, but the mental of looking up and seeing nothing but rolling hills in a head wind - nah..not so high on my list. Leslie offered me a great piece of advice just before my race " dont look up- just ride and see what you need to see"...I held on to that.

Start was about 10 minutes late, but when we took off, as usual, I went like a bat outta hell. it was the nervous energy I am sure, but we rolled around the track and as we came around the first turn, I got hit with a wind wall and I thought the better of this stupid strategy..I sat up, and there were two girls with me who passed, I got on their wheel. I stayed there.

On the fire road, I passed them ,and as we approached the single track, I saw Katy. I told her I was coming up and I Was going to pass - she got on my wheel...SHE WAS AWESOME out there! she stayed with me, protected my back, and passed people when I passed. You don't have domestiques in mtn bike racing, but this sure felt like it.

more climbing - sand chute, road..single track climbing.. and I have a shadow. there was one woman I just could not shake. I watched her and always tried to keep up with where she was. if she tried to pass on an uphill technical I took the other side and would speed up. A couple of girls from other groups passed me, but I just let them go. I even walked my bike up one hill because I was overheated, legs tired, and I knew the run up would be a sort of bike recovery. it paid off.

Now its time for the damn fire road out. I see my shadow ..but I take off - weaving between the carnage of men who know today won't be there day..They cheer me on as I go, and I don't look up at the hills. I just keep going. Before I know it, I hear the marshall say - one more hill after this. I pass Brin (sp?)..another mouse, and he watches my back as we come into the finish. and then poof -- its over...and I am done. I look up the hill and see Joie..her race is over and she is chillin.

time for results...I really wasn't sure at this point where I stood. what if the girls that passed were in my cat? what if I had let my win go?? No matter. I executed the way I wanted and as long as I made the podium - the wheels were mine..tick tock .....

Results...a huge grin covers my face...yeah - that's my name in first place...ME! I won my category at sea otter. I did! I was amazed! my third mtn bike race and I win!!

well..maybe not. For some reason at the start, they split our category into 40-44 (my group) and 45-49. There was talk of recombining us for WAY! then the girls I let pass WERE my competition! I could handle it if they were some girls I started with, but I didn't give chase to these?? A little distraught, I waited for the official results (and..not so patient if you ask those around me...)...

The UCI judges decided to keep our division split, so YES- it was me on the top spot! YAY for me! Katy held my phone up so Tif could hear as they announced my name. wow..speechless.

...and the wheels are mine. I walked over to the Crankbros tent, claimed my victory, and watched as she noted that I got to keep the wheels. I have to say a VERY special thank you to Crank Brothers. I am a 41 yr old beginner Woman (no I don't sandbag)...and for US to have the opportunity to win such bling is unheard of in the industry. Thank you for giving someone like me the chance to win something so amazing. I can't say enough.

- thanks for reading today....I will post a photo or two when I have some....

Monday, March 30, 2009

I TRI'd....

yeah...something I really thought I would never do. triathlon..hell, half the time I don't spell it right - Secretly though? ever since I was a teenager i had a dark desire - I would try not to look at the Triathlons on TV, or read the magazines. I didn't want anyone to know. When I finally took the step and bought a magazine - still not wanting to admit to the world that I was "that way" - I hid it under books on cycling. I cleared the cache of my laptop because I didn't want anyone to know. Its not normal - this wanting to do 3 sports all in one day - one right after the other. I knew it. After moving to California, I was afraid there would be a proposition against it.

Being gay is a much easier lifestyle than admitting to this abomination...

Tiffney changed all this for me. and it was so easy to come out with her...i mean - I needed a way to cross train during the off season for Cyclocross...afterall, isn't EVERYTHING about 'cross season? I decided to start running to get better cardio - I was already swimming....and then one night over dinner- whilst staring at my peas, I think I said "honey - i think I may want to do a triathlon" - glancing over at her with one eye, while still trying to stab peas with my fork, I saw a smile come to her face. She wasn't completely taken aback..she welcomed the idea - and so it was...

telling my cycling friends was another matter entirely. God! I stayed in the closet for months, telling Cathy "a friend of mine was asking about wetsuits"....but then - well, I finally rationalized that since my first Tri was an offroad tri (swim, mtn bike, trail run)- its not like regular tri I must be ok. ...and then I was a little better with telling people.

Obviously, I can't do anything of this magnitude without having Giana guide me along the way. Oy - she is such a forigiving soul..and able to deal with all the changes this Gemini can produce. She patiently listen to me ramble, then put together a training schedule that fit me perfect -and even gave me room for the umpteen changes i would inevitably make.

Race day finally got here, and I was thrilled (no really) to get up at 3:45 a.m.. Did all the prep the day before (Mia was my coach as I practiced the transition areas the day before). Got the coffee, got in the car and headed out. I knew it would be a good day.

After checking in, getting my body marked, and my TA (that's tri speak for transition area) space, I finally pulled the wetsuit on for the acclimation to the water. The 50m walk to the water on that "pebble sand" was harsh. the water, however, was much MORE harsh. a balmy 56deg. I got in..and the moment I felt the water trickle down my back from my neck to by butt crack..I knew there was no turning around.

The official gave the 10 min call...and my stomach took it to mean it was time to growl! no time for food - shit. I forgot my preswim Gu..oh well..just deal for now.

I am not sure WHY all the mass start bike racing strategy seemed to leave my mind when we lined up...WHY did I start in the middle of the pack? WHY didn't I line up to the outside, or inside? Why did I think it was oh so much better to line with the guys who are head butting each other while we are waiting for the start? awesome Ren..perfect.

So we are off...and suddenly its real...we run into the water, and I start swimming...(note to self - smoke colored goggles do no good in the sunrise sun..can't see a damn thing)..."just keep swiming" I told myself in a Dory sort of way - out of no where, some guy bitch slaps me from the right ...well - maybe not meaning to be a bitch slap, but i was not expecting it-and I had to re-situate my goggles.. Then, some guy gets in front of me (again, I am not sure where he came from), and just kicks me in the face. even better, as I am recovering from that, some guy swims over me.. ENOUGH - i think to myself,and I slow up and let everyone pass.

As I finally start to swim again, I can't get air in my lungs. Either cold shock, or panic - not sure which..but one of the two of them have taken my lung capacity. I raise my hand for a kayak - "I can't do this" I tell myself. What was I thinking? I am a bike racer - not soem fit tri-geek who can swim in this water and be warm? I can't pee in my wetsuit! why am I even out here... - all those things I used to tell myself when I was a bike racer. The difference was - back in my roadie days, the negative usually won. now, I am a singlespeeder and I dont' quit. Plus, I knew if I stopped now, I would be in the same spot the next time I tried a TRI..and I knew there would be a next time.

So, I held onto the Kayak, got my bearings and went again. Another kayaker paddled next to me so I wouldn't be alone. it was ok...I thought I was a swimmer until today..give me lanes, and warmer water with no chop..and that was the swimmer I was. but today was about finishing, and that is what I did.

After getting out of the water and walking (psuedo running) to the TA, I did all the right things, and got on the bike..oh thank trusty steed..I had won a mtn bike race on this course. Iwas good to go. the bike leg reminded me that I Was an athlete, and that it just takes practice. after completing the bike leg and coming into the TA, I was able to pull the 'cross dismount, ride on one side of the bike on my way to my spot. I was totally stoked about that...

.....but then it was time to run - well hell - there went my happy place. and - for the first time ever in my athletic career - I had to pee while in the middle of a race - holding it while running is not the most pleasant experience. I need to rework my pre-race fluid intake....

running..still overrated - and still painful. I ran some, walked some...and in general kept wondering when the damn run portion would be over. those people I passed on the bike passed me on the run, and kept telling me "good job - almost done"..yeah right.. what ever - then I remembered - I had said the same thing to them when I passed them on the bike.

All in all, my goal for today was really simple... I just needed to finish. and that I did. a whopping 2:38:17...many minutes slower (like 30) than the fastest in my category..and 41 slower than the target..but that's ok. I am a bike racer trying to become a triathlete... I have a ways to go.

and the next one can't get here soon enough...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

No really...

Today is the first day in several days that I actually felt like raising my head off the pillow. Seems a little unfair that on a 5 day weekend, I spent most of it glued to the sofa. But today, I was determined to get some kind of ride in..I go stir crazy if I don't get on my bike.

I should have known something was up when I went out to grab the Single speed...the low airp ressure in the back tire should have been some indication. Instead, I air up the tire, and decide to leave my floor pump at home - not really sure why I did that. I mean - I drive an Element - its not like I have to be efficient with my use of space - but I chose to do it anyway.

Off I go - I arrive at the Alpine Inn with such high hopes for the completion of my singlespeed ride - I get everything ready, pull the bike out - and there it was..the full on flat. Awesome - now I am 30 minutes from home, no floor pump, and one spare tube. I race through options. See, the trick is I have to be home by noon today. I am actually trying to squeeze a ride in during the "off hours" as I call them - namely the hours when the family is a sleep and I don't risk missing a "honey do" item...

I race through my options - I could try to change the tube - I have a spare in my camel back - but a hand pump.hmmm...a possibility. I dig around in my camel back only to find that I have no tire tools. The day is getting better by the minute. "buck up Ren" I think to myself - go home, change the tube, get an hour's ride in..not the greatest, but its better than nothing.

When I got home, things didn't get any better. Still no tire tools, and the seat bag for my road bike (always have tire tools there) seems to have disappeared. I start to laugh know that laugh..the one of complete disbelief? "No really..." I think to myself "what did I do to deserve this this morning"... I have 7 bikes in my garage - 5 of them rideable today - so what's the problem you ask? if you are a cyclist, you know that there were several signs this morning that I was unprepared. Not having tire tools is a SURE fire way to get a flat on a ride. and as much as I love riding, I have tried to learn from my mistakes over the years. So, here I sit, typing on a keyboard, cleaning my office, trying to find tire tools, knowing the bike shop opens in an hour, but too late for me to get the ride in today.

Guess I will try again tomorrow....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

....the most important parts of Christmas

....batteries. yep- if there is one thing I have learned over the years, its have batteries on hand. All shapes and sizes - and my mom gets it. Everyone giggled when Mia opened her gifts from my mom and one box was batteries. it was PERFECT! Mia loves to open gifts, and we were gonna need all those batteries.

check out my gift!its awesome...OF course the batteries my mom sent don't fit this - so, at 6am, I am off to the "Open 24hrs a day, 365 days a year" Walgreen's to get the batteries I needed. And now, I am crashing my car into everything. Its amazing how quickly I become a child when given a toy (or a bike) I like...

Not much to write today, except Merry Christmas to all...or at least Happy Holidays. I need to go fight Mia for the Remote to my car!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On to new things....

- I Want a belgian waffle maker...plain and simple - this family needs one.

Tomorrow, Peak Season Cyclocross kicks off, and I am BEYOND excited!!! No- I haven't ever raced it, but from what I hear, this is the closest I will probably ever get to Belgian cross. I am racing as a B tomorrow - time to go on up.

Mia is roaming around the house tonight. Already she has instructed me to get her a podium tomorrow...oh- no pressure there, huh? a 2 1/2 year old saying "just get a podium"..oy - I should never have taught her that...O well - first race as a B - i will be happy to finish.

And in other news - nope there isn't any. Just watching mia run around with my CCCX medal from last week.


Friday, December 19, 2008

what a week!! sure is nice to be home this Friday afternoon - sipping a well-earned glass of wine. This has been a bizarre week - luckily, its calmed down for me. The majority of the courseware is done, my boss is headed over seas for a few weeks, and next week, Mia gets to see what Santa brought.

But as I sit here, sipping a fine Pinot - playing hooky from my training ride (because I CAN!), I gotta say -President - Elect Mr. Obama - I am mortified by your choice of reverends for your inauguration.

For just a moment- let's set aside that we queers rallied behind you, and took you on your word. Let's forgo - for a moment - the fact that Tif and I aren't really sure if we will remain married (don't roll your eyes ...we all thought "NO on Prop 8" would win, so I don't want to hear it) - For a moment, lets rally behind the call of Unity..reaching out to the other side - I am not sure if Bill White has a facebook page, but maybe you could call him to join the inauguration? I mean - afterall - it is the same, isn't it? Rick Warren says I don't deserve rights in my Constitution..just like Bill feels about how is it different?

As I sit here, typing this, I am reading that the YES on PROP 8 folks have entered a motion in the California Supreme Court to have my marriage nullified. Awesome...does that mean I get a refund on the ceremony? The marriage certificate at least? What about me scares them so much?

I am nervous - I don't deny it. There are several pastors that scare me...but I can deal with. Jesse Jackson? he would have been a good one..hell! My mom's baptist preacher would have been ok - he thinks I'm evil, but he hasn't called me the names that Rick has. So..President-Elect What will be the next compromise as you reach across for Unity? Will we continually wait until its a "good time" for you to stand up for our rights? I just want to believe what you told us. I have hope - please don't make me regret it. This isn't some trite issue...this is really serious to me, and my family. This divided our families..there are those of us that lost family members over this vote. my soapbox. Glad to see my ankle is healing. I am SO ready for Peak Season this weekend. Thank goodness I am racing my bike this weekend..lets hope I can keep my Form!!!!

Until next time..keep the rubberside down.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Age is an interesting Children we do everything we can to get older - as adults we do everything we can to stop the process. its a funny thing to watch with Mia - she ages daily - both in years and in wisdom. Pretty amazing child.

My BODY on the other hand, is not aging so gracefully. one day, Mia wanted to count "menay's boo boos.." all but one scar (well two if you count the one where my brother hit me with a golf club) are all from cycling. Bones drilled, plates screwed in..whatever - when I get a boo boo I make sure its a good one.

I have been fortunate that my knees have always held out. Not really sure why or how they have, but they have - until now. They suddenly have decided to show me that I am in fact getting older. This fascination I have with riding my bikes in less than perfect conditions - hopping off, running and jumping over barriers - not exactly what some might call but I love it - its intrinsic to my happiness - but not to my knees and their happiness.

This morning as I get ready for my next 'Cross race - my pack regimen made me sit down and write...
helmet - Check
arm warmers - Check
Kit - check
Knee warmers - check
advil - Check
Glucosamine- Check
Naproxin - Check

and I tuck everyting into my mouse back and go about my day. Yes - I am sure I will pay for much of what I have done to my body as I get older. ...older than today. Yet another good reason for marriage - I have someone to help me around the house - and I think she knows it.

Growing old gracefully was not something I ever thought seriously about. Oh- I will do the best I can, but I am going to blow it out on my way there. I gotta go race my bike...