November Challenge, Day 4

Today’s Movement: Cycle & Flow

I woke up a little sore from my workout yesterday and decided to spin and stretch it out at my favorite class at Live Love Flow. I love the mix of 40 minutes of cycling and 30 minutes of yoga, as it’s just enough of both to make me not hate either. It was sweaty, but also and a good opportunity to get some mobility in after my workout yesterday. I had some more recovery time later in the day with my monthly massage. Preventative care…it works!

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: Fall full-force here in the PacNW. On my drive to class it was chilly and a little wet and the trees were half-full of colored leaves (the rest were on the ground).
I loved: That the class I chose to go to was taught by a woman I had been in the Cycle & Flow teacher training back in the Spring. She was an awesome teacher, and I look forward to taking her class again.
#RealTalk: The picture I took in my car of my yoga mat and my bag that says “Be the Change”…it made me roll my eyes so hard. SO. HARD.

November Challenge, Day 3

True friendship / gym buddy accountability is responding to my 5:32am text with “I’m up and heading to the gym”. FINE. ME TOO.

Thanks, friend.

After making it the the gym, then destroying my shin on the tow-hitch of my vehicle (#klutz101), and getting through a busy day at work, I also light-railed/cycled to a salon appointment I had made for my Friday evening (WHY?). It was just a few miles to cycle from the light rail station and back, but it was quite cold (but no longer “snowing”). I’m trying to force the “fair-weather” cyclist out of me.

Today’s Movement: CrossFit and Cycling

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: SNOW! If you are from any of the ACTUAL snow-accumulating places on this earth, you will roll your eyes at me. But there was legitimately snow(ish) precipitation falling from the sky. It was beautiful…and cold.
I loved: (And hated) that my friend got me out of bed to meet her at the gym. Getting there is 2/3 of the battle.
#RealTalk: I was cold and grumpy for most of the morning at the gym. It was a hard workout. But I did it (and felt better afterwards, duh).

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Fake it ’till you make it? Trying to be excited about cycling in the cold (it wasn’t THAT bad)…

November Challenge, Day 2

 

Today’s Movement: Cycling

I am a fair-weather cyclist. I do not enjoy having to monitor the weather for the day, bring just-in-case layers and waterproof gear, and stress over whether or not all  of my lights are appropriately charged. This mentality makes cycling in the city in the Fall and Winter…challenging. But that’s what a November challenge is about, right? My particular motivation this morning was to attend Commute Seattle’s “Light Up Your Ride” event. I decided to do my entire commute to work and the extra distance to the event (and get back to work), which was about 10 miles. This meant I was up early, which  also meant it was dark AND chilly. A benefit of getting out early is that traffic was minimal and mostly peaceful (though commuting in the city is rarely peaceful, as I’m always on high alert). It was nice to end up at this event surrounded by lots of fun freebies, coffee, and the cycling community.

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Commute Seattle’s annual “Light Up Your Ride” event. Look at all that neon!

ON THE MOVE:

I saw AND I loved: Being with a gaggle of other bike commuters at the event – It was fun to check out everyone else’s Fall riding layers and gear. It also never gets old to geek out with other cyclists about commute stories and recommendations.
#RealTalk: I again utilized my work building’s shower facilities after attending the event. However, the perils of getting ready AT work is you don’t have your entire closet, dresser, or bathroom at your disposal. So, what you bring is what you have. My cardigan was abandoned on my chair at home, so I resorted to an extra zip-up jacket I keep at work for chilly days in the office. Wasn’t the fashion statement of the year, but it worked. Also, I’ve forgotten much worse before.

Strong + Able

One year ago this week I got my first tattoo. On my left arm in my own handwriting in bold sharpie-thickness cursive, it says “strong + able”. For years this is a mantra I would say in my head over and over during my long runs and half marathons when I was feeling particularly defeated or exhausted. “Your body is strong. Your body is able”.

I also just finished my summer “race” season. Race seems to fit better in quotes, as I never feel like I’m actually racing. More like “completing goals I set out to do and paid too much money for” season. I digress.

As I was saying, I also just finished my summer race season, which included an Olympic-distance triathlon, a 50-mile bike ride, and a half marathon. One crazy morning in May I registered for all three and that was that. It would be my third triathlon, my second 50-mile ride, and my 10th half marathon. To clarify: in my lifetime, NOT this year.

Let’s back up. In April I decided to do something I deemed a “movement challenge”. Move intentionally every day for the month of April. I made a movement board and started this blog as a way to hold myself accountable. This kick-in-the-butt came after roughly a year of being stagnant, inconsistent, and overall not my best self, all these things in so many ways, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Also, depressed. The first time I wrote this paragraph I did not use that word. But that’s what I was, too. Depressed. Side note: It’s amazing what you can do and show on the outside that would lead you to believe I was not all these things. I did an Olympic-distance triathlon last year too during this time, among other physical endeavors.

The movement challenge did exactly what I hoped it would do. It showed me that not only do I love to be (and need to be for my mental health) physically active, but I also can make the time no matter what. It helped me with my language around what movement meant to me and reinforced that it’s not a punishment (this is why I’ve more or less stopped using the word “exercise”). It made me feel healthy and strong, inside and out. It gave me something to feel proud of, and I really needed that.

Finishing the half marathon last weekend was very emotional for me. Last year I had signed up for the same race (and have done it also in years past), but decided not to do it. I was not prepared. Physically I could have finished it, but emotionally I was in shambles.

I have been looking at my tattoo all summer, using it as motivation during my long weekend training rides, swims, and runs. Reminding myself that I like doing this. Reminding myself that my body is indeed strong and indeed able. Reminding myself that I am strong, and I am able. When I got it a year ago, I don’t know that I believed it. I don’t know that I thought I could be those things ever again.

So, as I said, finishing the half marathon last weekend was very emotional for me. It was just a race, nothing particularly special, one I’ve done before. My time was slower than years past. But it was a completion of my summer races, the three events I signed up for. Three events I trained for. Three events that I completed, as I set out to do. And I believed that I was both strong and able, as is marked on my body forever.

People say time heals. Time has helped the healing process. Time has been essential in doing the work. But my hard work is what heals. Movement heals me.

Femme Road Ramblings: You Go, Grrrl!

The sense of joy and pride I feel when I pull up behind another womxn cyclist is the same every time. I don’t feel alone on the road. I feel empowered, part of a community, and I want to shout over the rush of traffic and car engines and bus brakes, “You go, grrrl!”

What is really happening, instead, is I’m simultaneously attempting to catch my breath, trying not to get hit by a car, and playing through the remainder of my route in my head. I’m hoping my timing is right so that I can shower or not shower and maybe put on the shoes I brought or just leave my Tevas on and hope I haven’t sweated enough that my helmet hair is obvious and maybe put a splash of fountain or mascara on depending on how many people I will be in contact with for the day.

When it makes sense, my internalized “You go, grrrl” is nothing more than awkward good wishes for the morning or afternoon or a passing comment about the weather or the bad timing of every traffic light or the particular aggressiveness and collective hurry on the road.

Sometimes the number of womxn I share the road with is three or four bicycles deep, and I feel lucky enough to have stumbled upon this convention of sorts. Often, though, I am the lone goddess, being passed by folx in spandex or “work” clothes, not carrying much more than a small knapsack or just a bike lock in their back pocket, if anything. I am often envious and maybe annoyed that their bag isn’t full of toiletries and a hair dryer or several layers of clothing and shoes and accessories. I have found that I have kept up my pedicures and shaved my legs more often because I have convinced myself it balances out my slightly disheveled, make-up free mornings after a seven-mile ride up and down the Seattle landscape.

I had fears and insecurities around being exposed on the open road, the same as I feel when I’m walking around the city. The difference being that while walking I use headphones to “protect” me from unwanted comments or interactions. On a bike I’m hyper aware of my surroundings and any words or horns or objects coming my way. It surprises me that words hurled towards me have much more often been a cat-call for my bike over my body. That, too, has felt empowering. My bike is an object being objectified, as it should be, my strong body is just powering it.

I once was walking out of my office building in a plain cotton dress, bike shorts underneath, helmet and sunglasses on, wheeling my bike out to end my day. “You must get a lot of attention out there”. No, actually, I am happy to report your assumptions are wrong. And maybe too little attention, as cars turn in front of me or ignore the existence of a bike lane. The funny thing about being on a bike is you want to be seen. Ache to be seen. Hope to be as visible as possible by the tons of steels speeding around you.

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