Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Tribute

Well, I'm back, in one piece, and had an absolute blast in Philadelphia with Karyna. It was GOGOGO from the start, but seeing as how I rarely get to see her, I held my own as much as possible. Didn't get a lot of sleep (and am paying for it now), but had a fantastic time with Karyna. The city was beautiful, the fall colors were breathtaking, and while the weather was a little grey (it rained the entire time), I truly felt like fall was making a stand. My Florida body wasn't accustomed to the Northeast autumn, but I felt my Minnesota roots awaken, and I relished every moment that I could.

I didn't get as much writing done as I had hoped, and instead spent as much time with Karyna as possible. (I made great mental notes, and plan on devoting a few entries to the trip). It was so amazing to see my sister for the first time in her new life. She is so grown up! Aside from the tweed pants, button down shirts, great shoes/purse, and beautiful work clothes, I was even more inspired by how much she loves her job. She works at the Devereaux Foundation, helping to enrich the lives of adults with developmental disorders and autism. Additionally, she's working on several psychological papers and projects relating to autism/adult developmental disorders. Her passion, dedication, and devotion are apparent even from a distance, and it was simply wonderful to see her interact with the patients. She's working at this prestigious internship position for a year or two, before attending graduate school, and while she doesn't get paid nearly enough for the tremendous work she does, it's clear that she works with these individuals and families because she cares deeply about helping the cause and enriching their lives. She is much older and wiser than her 23 years would suggest. And it was a tremendous opportunity to see her shine.

Well - Happy Thanksgiving!

I started my day out with a great ride with the West Florida Wheelman. A big group met up at Don and Carol's house (local cyclist/triathlete couple - the nicest people, and fantastic athletes!) for a tribute ride. Don started off by mentioning this ride was a WFW tradition, and was done out of tribute to Carol's grandmother, who had passed away several years earlier. It was an opportunity for her to remember and reflect about the woman who helped raise and shape her life. It was a very moving speech before the ride, and made me think about a lot of what I'm thankful for.

The ride was a blast, but I could feel the difference from a few weeks ago at Clearwater. It's amazing how quickly time out of the saddle makes you feel slow, blimp-like, and stiff. My legs were a little heavy at the start, undoubtedly from my time off and my long flight back yesterday, but after a few minutes of easy spinning, I gradually got warm and felt my form coming back. Ludi had promised the ride would be easy - so did Don - and that it would just be a "fun" ride, at an "easy" pace in celebration of Carol's grandmother and Thanksgiving. But a few surges in the middle thrown in by the roadies on the Jeep team, and a long pull at the front had my heart rate a lot higher than I had intended. At one point, Ludi and I were setting a 20-21 mph pace into a fierce north headwind. I didn't want to be engulfed by the pack, and really hadn't intended on pulling, but figured that it wouldn't be for that long. As we increased the pace, Ludi gasped that her heart rate was 172. A quick peek at my own watch confirmed I was one beat higher at 173. Oops. After that, I resolved to NOT look at my heart rate, and figured this would be my one pull of the day. And if the Jeep guys or other fast people behind us wanted to go faster, they could move around us and pull on their own terms! Luckily, no one made the move, and Ludi kept a steady stream of encouragement going between gasps. At one point, she said, "There's a stop sign about 1/4 mile ahead, and then we'll go to the back and draft!"

5 minutes later, we were still in front. Pulling. Against the wind.

I was too afraid to check my watch, but resolved to keep next to Ludi as long as I could.

"Where's the stop sign?" I choked out.

She smiled, and managed to get out, "You crack me up! It's just up the road. Another 1/4 mile."

Great. I was in pain. My legs were on fire, and I had these fantastic cyclists breathing down the back of my neck. No pressure or anything, but I didn't want to start going backwards at this point. Don was right behind me and Ludi and I heard him joking, "Where's the draft? We've got the two smallest riders pulling the train! What's the point of that?"

It was all good natured, and his joking helped to lighten the mood.

3 minutes later (it felt like an eternity!), I didn't see any sign of a stop sign. I was beginning to get desperate: this was my off season, for Christ's sake! No speed! No fast stuff! Nothing above zone 2!! And here I was, presumably pushing zone 5, my first time on a long ride since Clearwater. No way Jose! Ludi, sensing my discomfort, assured me that her work output and heart rate were just as high as mine was, and that the stop sign was just a little further.

"Let me guess," I commented dryly. "1/4 mile!"

And sure enough, it was.

After that, we coasted off the back, enjoying the comments of great pull and nice ride! from the other cyclists who swarmed around us. And that's when the pace really took off. Luckily it was only for another mile or so until our mid-way gas station stop. But let me tell you, pulling for 15 minutes with a heart rate of 170+, and then watching the pace increase to 27 mph (yes, it was a tailwind now, but still , it was fast and hard) the final mile before the station stop was challenging.

There were a few more surges through the ride, and slowly riders continued to drop off the back. Going up one hill, my legs had had enough. Game Over! I thought to myself as I got out of aero. And then Ludi came up next to me, gave me a few words of encouragement, and I stayed on her wheel. After a great pull on her part, we joined the pelaton and managed to stay on until the end. I tell you, riding at 26 mph in the draft of 10 people in front of you is great! It made me have a new appreciation for the Tour riders - and an even bigger disgust for triathletes who draft. Oh well. The momentum of the pelaton on this ride was great, and it was a fantastic way to pay tribute and remember Carol's grandmother.

After the ride, we all trouped into Don and Carol's house to enjoy bagels, pumpkin muffins, and the best pumpkin roll I have ever had. I took an entire side of the roll, and scarfed it - wearing my biking clothes and standing in the middle of the crowded kitchen - in about 4 bites. I caught a few glances from some of the other cyclists (I may be small, but I can pack it away just as well as people twice my size!) It was fantastic. I felt slightly guilty for enjoying such a calorific treat, but as Don's son pointed out, "It's free calories! You're body will burn it off as long as you eat it right after the workout! Enjoy it now while you can."

Obviously I took his message to heart. Other people didn't, and I noticed a few others go for 1/3 of a roll. Oh well, it just goes to show how much I love Carol's pumpkin cream cheese roll. (I nearly screamed in delight when Ludi said Carol had given her and Katy the exact same roll last week, and we would be enjoying it at Thanksgiving dinner tonight! Score!!! I'll pass on the pumpkin pie, and go for the pumpkin roll, thank you very much!). Funny how the little stuff makes all the difference.

And then I started thinking about all the things, all the people for whom I am thankful.

I'm grateful to my family and friends, for helping me to become who I am. There are a lot of people who have a hand in shaping the person I am today: so my celebration is just as much theirs. There are simply too many to thank personally, but I remember each and every one, and to all of you I give thanks.

I'm thankful for Tabbitha: though she may be fierce, her heart is pure. And she provides great companionship every time Nathaniel has deployed. Oh yeah, and the inventor of Kitty Prozac gets a nod as well.

I am thankful for our members of the Armed Services past and present, for whom our country would not be the same without their selfless service and dedication. I don't like to discuss politics, and this is not about politics (if you know me and Nate, you know that we're on opposite ends of the spectrum. Let's just say that our respective votes cancel each other out), but I'm still grateful for what they do, and for the sacrifices they have made. I've missed enough holidays and special events with Nathaniel to know how painful and hard a long separation and deployment(s) can be. So to our members in the military and their families: thank you!

I am thankful that Green Bay is winning (4th quarter, they lead the Lions 34-12) - because otherwise Nathaniel would be unhappy for the remainder of the day. Okay okay -he wouldn't be unhappy per se, just not as happy had they won. But luckily that doesn't seem to be a problem: the game is going well, and we're having a great time watching together.

I'm thankful for the inventors of Peanut Butter Cups, Peanut M&Ms, Nut Goody Bars, and all other things delicious and sweet.

I'm thankful for fall weather, fall colors, hot apple cider, and the promise of snow (in Minnesota).

I'm thankful for the love and support I have received throughout my life.

But I'm also thankful for the struggles: though it hasn't been easy, I've become stronger for them. And while I'm still working through issues (aren't we all?), I know everything will work out in the end.

I'm thankful for my bike, another faithful companion. She has a personality all of her own, and while her name Sjofin inspires passion, I still get a kick out of riding each and every time. The novelty hasn't worn off, nor do I ever think it will. (Especially in my race set up!)

I'm thankful for Britney Spear's new CD. Today on my ride, when my heart rate was pushing upwards of 175, I used some of the songs (track 9 especially) to keep motivated and going. Funny the things you'll reach towards in order to gain that extra momentum.

I'm thankful that I haven't (yet) been eaten by a shark. I've done enough ocean swimming to know that I'm not alone - cue the Jaws music...

I'm thankful the Packers are still ahead - 4:30 left in the 4th. Packers up 34-26. Not good! Hopefully they'll hold on. And Nathaniel will be happy!

I'm thankful for all the volunteers who devote their time to helping others. This is true not only at races, but for other organizations as well.

I'm thankful for comfy pajamas, soft and warm. Wonderful after an ice bath.

I'm thankful that I still have all of my faculties. And that I remain a "free-thinker", someone who questions. I tribute my fantastic teachers and devoted parents to helping me acquire the education that I have.

I'm thankful for Bridget Jones: because let's face it, we all have a little bit of Bridget in us.

I'm thankful for red wine.

And Motrin.

And before this goes over the top, I'm thankful for the life that I've had, the opportunities that I've been given, the choices I've made, and to everyone who has made me the way I am. I wouldn't be me without you! So thank you to all.

This is our first Thanksgiving in Florida: and I'm sad that I don't get to be at home with my parents or in Wisconsin with Nathaniel's family. It makes me appreciate all the times that I have been home, and will give me something to look forward to in the future.

So here's to old friends and new, wonderful family, a great life, and an incredible cat. Oh yeah, and to pumpkin rolls.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Anonymous said...

I only have 1 thing to say today: BRITTANY SPEARS? You are serious? I am getting old.
Happy Thanksgiving! Jen :)

George said...

There's a riding club out of Sapporo whose jerseys (a perfect robin's-egg blue) are emblazoned across the back with:


If I can scrounge up two of them, you're going to owe me forever. Close second: the team sponsored by Orion Beer ("Orion Durafuto Biiru") wears "FOR YOUR HAPPY TIME", which is also pretty flippin' sweet.

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...


Fantastic!!! Both tops sound great. Who doesen't enjoy bicycle life??? Especially with a pint or two. Great to hear from you again - you created a monster with Nathaniel and the Facebook stuff. It's all that he does now. But a beautiful robin's-egg blue jersey would be a great compromise. Sure, I'd still owe you, but we can settle the debt later. Glad to hear that stuff is okay for you guys - thanks for getting me started in triathlon. Now I really owe you!