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.

April Challenge, Day 30!

Today’s Movement: Cycling (outdoors) & Stretching

Thirty days of movement – I made it! It seemed fitting to end as I began with a bike ride. I jumped on the light rail for a few stops then cycled another five miles or so to meet my spouse (her first ride of the year!) and a good friend and their toddler (her first ride ever!). We did a leisurely seven miles on the Burke-Gilman, all of us having our own challenges for the day (ask me about falling over in while still clipped into my bike…THAT’S going to take some practice), but enjoying the morning and camaraderie.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: The city waking up and being active on a Sunday morning – Cyclists, divers, runners, kayakers…
I loved: Being part of a toddler’s first ride and also being out the bikes for the first time with my spouse this year.
#RealTalk: Did I mention that clipless pedals / cycling shoes are going to take me a while to get used to? Ouch.

 

A multimodal morning!

 

April Challenge, Day 22

Today’s Movement: Cycle & Flow

I look forward to this class. I fear this class. It’s hard in a familiar way, and I know I’m going to make it through, I know it’s going to be challenging, and I know I’ll be so sweaty my clothes will be saturated as if I was outside in the rain.

Thanks, Melissa and Live Love Flow for meeting all of my expectation this Saturday morning!

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: An athletic team of some sort (my guess at least) from the university across the street running early on a Saturday!
I loved: To learn that Cycle & Flow is coming back as an option during the week!
#Realtalk: I honestly think that more often than not, yoga is the hard part of this combo for me.

April Challenge, Day 15

Today’s Movement: Cycling (outdoors)

Halfway! Fifteen days of movement and blogging. I wanted to “celebrate” the halfway point with a hike with my sweetie. We headed out with a Plan A and a Plan B, but both were squashed due to every Seattleite on the planet also deciding to go hiking. Every parking lot was completely full. So we took a detour and stopped by Snoqualmie Falls (our unplanned Plan C) and then got burgers. Since I didn’t get any movement in in the morning, I decided to go back to where this all started (Day 1) and jump on my bike. We’ll try our hike again tomorrow.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: A lot of people braving short sleeves and tank tops. It was a sweltering 57°F.
I loved: ALL. THE. SUN.
#Realtalk: Whoa…ALL. THE. POTHOLES. It’s Spring in Seattle! Maybe there will be some relief with the “Pothole Palooza” that starts next week.

ride
Thanks, www.mapmyride.com!

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April Challenge, Day 14

Today’s Movement: Tempo Cycle

There is a dry, sunny, relatively “warm” weekend on the horizon! Instead of planning for a weekend Cycle & Flow class, I decided to hit up the very early, very sweaty 5:45am 60-minute Tempo Cycle class at Live Love Flow. Don teaches this early class…with a whistle.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: A full class of folks who really love Don, our instructor! It is his 50th birthday and there was lots of love (and cupcakes).
I loved: Singing and dancing emphatically to Beyoncé and Mariah Carey on my drive home from spin.
#Realtalk: There is a certain brand of masochism that comes with waking up at 5:00am to go to a class that is an hour of suck.

tempcycle.png
Thanks, Live Love Flow!

April Challenge, Day 8

Today’s Movement: Cycle & Flow

Back for Cycle & Flow at Live, Love, Flow. I really like this class, especially the instructor on Saturdays. I also really like the anonymity of going to a place that feels familiar but isn’t “my” gym. While the front desk staff and trainers recognize me, it’s not a place I’m necessarily seeking friendship or community. It’s a place I get to drop-in mostly undetected and slightly suffer (and sweat) with a whole bunch of strangers.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: All the cute leggings. While I do not think expensive, matching, or stylish workout clothes are required for any type of movement, I am a sucker for some fun patterns (they make me feel like superwoman).
I loved:
 The playlist during spin. There was definitely a series of some “fuck that shit” lyrics over and over, which was pretty much what I was thinking in my head a the time.
#Realtalk: There is no where I sweat more than in this class. It makes for some slippery yoga. Good for balance, right?

April Challenge, Day 2

Today’s Movement: Cycle & Flow

I started going to Live Love Flow about 15 months ago after the urging of a friend. My first experience was a yoga class that, honestly, wasn’t my favorite. I came back for a combination Cycle & Flow class (40 minutes of tempo cycling and 30 minutes of Vinyasa yoga), and I was hooked. I was sweaty and slightly defeated…and loved it! At the time, I was in a movement slump and needed some motivation. The almost weekly friend-date combo of class then coffee was exactly what I needed! Since then, I’ve continued to take cycling classes about once a week, even after my original inspiration moved away.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: The sun through the windows during yoga.
I loved: Feeling strong on the bike even after biking late yesterday.
#Realtalk: I took my tank top off during spin and rode only in my sports bra – Amazing!

FIT-PRO TIP!

I don’t pay for a monthly membership, since I only go about four times a month. Instead, I buy a 10-class punch cards when they have special deals (I just got a “spring” deal for $149 vs. the regular $200)

April Challenge, Day 1

Today’s Movement: Cycling (outdoors)

It was finally not raining on a weekend day, and I couldn’t resist jumping on my bike for a ride in the fresh air. This is only the second time in 2017 I’ve been out on my bike (the first time was over a month ago…and it was cold).

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: Cherry blossoms!
I loved: That I didn’t get rained on.
#Realtalk: I should have worn cycling shorts.

 

mapmyride
Thanks, www.mapmyride.com!

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