It’s just like riding, er…a bike?

If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll know that I’ve been able to get back to a lot of things after Ankle Fusion #2. Most things are pretty ordinary, like cleaning my own house, cooking, doing laundry, and bringing 5 gallon jugs of water up the stairs¹. (Okay, so the whole “5 gallon jugs of water up the stairs” thing is kinda hulk like and less ordinary than the others.)

Anyway, I am *SO* very grateful to be able to do those things, but there’s also this part of me that loves challenges and adventures. Which brings us to the really cool thing I’ve gotten back to:

MOUNTAIN BIKE RACING!

Woolly-2015-web-poster_large
Like all the courses on the MN Mountain Bike Race Series, Woolly is a pretty amazing course. Get out there and ride!

After five long years, I started racing again at the second race of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, The St. Croix Woolly. I finished the race (which was awesome) and I came in 78th out of 80. Not too shabby for a girl that’s sat on her arse over the last few years healing from those ankle surgeries. Plus, it felt great just to be on the race course again! My second race was in Mankato and I finished 84th out of 91.

Right before my race in Mankato, I started a part-time job. How cool is that??!? I was working AND mountain biking! Although, truth be told, when I started working, my race training took a back seat to things like sleeping and recovering from being on my feet for over four hours each day. One wouldn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but trust me…it was² a HUGE deal.

Red Wing
See that smile on my face?!?!? I am ridiculously happy! What makes it better is that my mom & dad in-law where at that race and cheered me on.

So without any time spent riding my bike or any sort of training at all, I finished absolutely last on my third race (Dirt Wirx) 71st out of 71 – but it was still one hell of a race WEEK! I continued that whole zero training thing onto my next race (The Cuyuna Crusher) and was lucky to beat three other racers. Both Nathan and I took a break from the next race and because my body was still having a really hard time adjusting to working, I passed on racing the following race. Instead, I focused on just trying to get out on the bike a few times.
It was hard feeling so exhausted and then forcing myself to get out and ride, but with the support of my family, I was able to get out on the trail several times before the next race: The Red Wing Classic

Here’s where I’d love to tell you that I got first, second, or third in my age group, and that I came home with a medal, and I’d post pictures of me standing on the podium, but I didn’t get 1-3 in my age group. (Which is needed to get a medal. There aren’t “participation” trophies in mountain bike racing.) I got 68th out of 76 overall, BUT it was by far the best race of my life! I was FLYING through the single track at amazing speeds and everything just felt right. Instead of posting a picture of my on the podium, you get a picture of me feeling AWESOME!

 

And that brings us to yesterday’s race: The Great Hawk Chase

great hawk
This is some CRAZY elevation. Like insane. Like more crazy and insane than crazy and insane!

I had no idea why they called it “The Great Hawk Chase”.

I’d never raced the course before so it didn’t occur to me that it was named after a hawk because you CLIMB AS HIGH AS A FREAKIN’ HAWK WOULD FLY before you get to come back down!

On the way up the “hill” on my pre-ride (the first time ever riding the course), I was convinced there was no way I was going to be able to do the race the next day. I don’t think I’ve ever been more physically challenged in my life. But then you get to that sweet down side of the course and it flows so perfectly, and the berms are amazing, and you get one of the biggest highs you’ve ever had in your whole life. So I thought, “What the hell. I can do two laps of this!”

And on race day? All I wanted to do was quit.

I can’t even explain how hard it was to get up that hill. Grueling. Insane. Unrideable. I don’t have the words. Even as I  flew though the sweet down side of the course, I really didn’t think I could go all the way back up again. At the bottom of lap one, I even told Nathan I didn’t think I could do it. Oh hell, I didn’t WANT to do it. He encouraged me to keep going, that I could do it. All I wanted to do was stop, but I just couldn’t get myself to stop pedaling.

After trudging myself all the way back up that hill for the second and final lap, I finally hit the sweet down side again. I let go and was totally in the zone. I was carving corners and berms. I pumped through the pump track portions. I was so high on life. I was unstoppable.

Then I came up on this totally amazing double berm. I railed the first one! I railed the second one!

Until the end of it.

At the end of the berm something went wrong and I hit the ground harder than I’ve ever hit the ground in my life.

I was messed up. My head. My hand. My forearm. My back. My hip. Holy crap…

Scrapes and stuff
Not shown? All the bruises that have “blossomed”…ouch.

I cried just a little bit and shook myself off. I picked my bike up, got back on, and ever so gingerly…started down the trail again. I had slowly ridden just under a mile before I found the flow of the trail again.

Determined to finish strong, I gave it everything I had for that last mile. I ended up 77th out of 84 and it felt like the worst race of my life.

I’ve spent most of today taking it easy, resting my bruised body, doing some light stretching, tending to my wounds, and?

Looking forward to the last race of the season: Single-Track Escape

 

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¹That whole “taking care of your house and being able to do chores” thing might not seem like a big deal, but until you’ve been laid up or suffered from a chronic illness/injury, you really don’t know how exciting it is to be able to do those things again.

²For those of you that are coming back strong from being laid up for awhile, be nice to yourself. Make sure you KNOW that you’ll need extra time to adjust. It’s not in your head. It’s real. Take the time and be kind!

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Twenty Five Years Later…

rockford rocketIf you’ve been my BFF for awhile, you might remember back when I contemplated going to my 20th high school reunion. I wrote a short and sweet post stating that I wasn’t going to go, but I really didn’t get into too many details about the “why”.

Here’s the thing, mostly I didn’t go because of that whole amnesia/car accident thing. While I’m sure a lot of us don’t remember things back in high school because of our age, I just seem to have lost more than most because of the accident.

Now, I have re-found a great group of girls from high school that I get together with frequently, and I’m building new friendships with them. So it’s not like I wouldn’t know anyone at the reunion, but still. I didn’t want to go. One of these girls (let’s just call her Noelle) was pretty damn adamant about me going to this year’s 25th class reunion. Like she wouldn’t freakin’ let up about it…I finally gave in. I sent in my RSVP and then thought, “What the fuck did I just do?”

Without thinking about the full gravity of the situation, I just committed to thrusting myself into a room full of people who I didn’t remember, but they would remember me. The closer our reunion date got, the more it terrified me. I actually told Noelle that I was probably going to cancel on her, but she has excellent persuasion skills and got me to recommit.

So when I walked into the room and several people where all, “KIM CROAL?!?!?!” I pretty much shut down. Can anxiety kill you? Because surely, I was about to die. My fight or flight reflexes kicked in and I scurried away to a back corner of the room. It was better there. I could breath a bit and listen in on people’s conversations. But then I had enough with the “half flight” and needed to just get the hell out of there.

Srsly....really fun people!
Srsly….really fun people!

“Not so fast bitch,” my friend Noelle said.

My friend, Noelle, looked at me and in her beautiful, kind voice, said something sweet like, “Hey, it’s going to be okay and you’re going to have a good time. Don’t go yet. Trust me. Please?”

Then Noelle’s girlfriend-not-girlfriend, Sonja, said, “Another shot of tequila?”

I agreed to both, staying a bit and another shot of tequila.

We had a bit of fun with the selfie-stick. I totally need to get myself one of those!
We had a bit of fun with the selfie-stick. I totally need to get myself one of those!

And I’m really glad I did. ALL of those girls were awesome and no one seemed to mind that I didn’t really have a clue as to who they were or who they used to be. It turned out to be all about the moment that was happening right now.

*THAT* moment happened to be pretty freakin’ fantastic.

(I’ll even admit, there’s a big part of me that kinda hopes we don’t wait another five years to get together again.)

So if you’re not sure if you should go to an upcoming reunion, I totally understand. But trust me…you should go. You’ll probably have a pretty good time.

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Oh, and I might not have had the coolest hair back in the day, but I’m pretty sure I’m making up for it now:

hair then and now

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DirtWirx Race Week Wrap Up!

Go ahead and say that title five times fast…

Any way, it’s been about a week and a half since the DirtWirx Bike Week ended and I think I can finally put my thoughts together about how it all went. Mostly, I think I’ve been in shock. I mean, holy shit, I raced FIVE FREAKIN’ RACES IN ONE WEEK! Who does that?!?!?

Me.

I did that.

Most excited middle aged woman to stand on the podium ever!
Most excited middle aged woman to stand on the podium ever!

I raced the Time Trial and Short Track on Saturday, the regular Minnesota Mountain Bike Series Race on Sunday, the Duel Solemn on Wednesday, and then the 25 Hour Race the following Saturday and Sunday¹! You know what? I was one of only four women who did all five races, so I came home with a couple medals and I even won some cash money! Woo Hoo!

Because I’ve been trying to be my own best friend, I kept telling myself that I’m doing some pretty cool stuff and I totally deserve the medals and the cash. BUT…there was still this annoying, bitchy, voice in my head reminding me that the only reason I came home with those medals, and the cash, was because none of the fast people showed up. (And by “fast people” I mean any other women that know how to ride a bike.)

Mountain bike racing isn’t like your average 5k or 10k. You don’t automatically get a t-shirt and there aren’t participation medals. The only people who get recognition are the top three people in each class. Part of me thinks this is cool, but there’s another part who thinks it sucks.

It’s not like I’m one of those kids on the t-ball team who’s out in right field, picking dandelions, thinking that they deserve a standing ovation (or Dairy Queen) just because their parents signed them up for the team, bought them a glove, and drove them out to the game. No. I’m working hard for this. So when I looked at it like that, I felt like I totally deserve those medals!

But even with all the work I’ve put in, sometimes it felt like I really didn’t deserve them. Even though I came in second, third, or fourth, I WAS STILL FREAKIN’ LAST! It just seemed like being last and getting a medal is wrong.

How slow you go - MEAnd then I blocked out that bitchy voice and focused on the best friend voice: “The important thing isn’t where I placed, the medals, or the cash. The important thing is that I’m getting out there and doing things.”

Get out there and do things. That’s what matters!

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¹A lot of people have asked me how the 25 Hour race works so I thought it would be nice to share a little bit of that with you. Basically, you have 25 hours to ride as many laps around the course as you can. You can take any amount of breaks between laps and, at this race, you could even leave the race course to go do what ever and then come back and do more laps.

25 Hour Collage

I rode the whole time with my Sissy and I have to say, it was crazy! Our minds wanted to do a billion laps, but our bodies were only able to do four. We did two laps right away, took a nice long break, and then did a night lap. I thought about trying to do an early morning lap while my Sissy was still sleeping, but I opted for relaxation instead. It would’ve really been crappy if I had done a lap and was unable to do another one with her to finish our race.

 

Oh, and having cool outfits is NOT a must. Unless you’re my team, then fun outfit ARE a must! Go Team Tutu!

(Also? The race course was the same course that the Expert and Elite riders race during the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series. How freakin’ cool is that?!?!?)

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Life without regrets

I used to think that I lived life without regrets, but after this week I need to rephrase that idea. Although exactly how to rephrase it, I’m not sure…

To me, living life without regrets meant that I didn’t look back on life and wish certain things would (or wouldn’t have) happened, because if they did (or didn’t) I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Typically, I like where I am in life. I have a fantastic husband, three awesome kids (plus their significant others), my sissy and her husband are truly the best sister/brother I could ask for, my in-laws are amazing, I have a lot of great friends, I’m currently on a HUGE upswing with my health, I’ve been doing cool things again (like mountain bike racing), and I actually like my new job.

Gratitude AttitudeI have a lot to be thankful for.

Sure, I have an ongoing battle with depression and sometimes The Deep Dark Hole sucks me in way too far, but I’m talking about my life as a whole…

As a whole, my life is pretty freakin’ incredible and I’m very thankful for where I am.

But…

My grandma passed away this week and I’m kind of a mess. I’m estranged from my parents by my own choice, and when I chose to separate from them completely, I also lost contact with most of my extended family. It wasn’t my family’s doing. It was just that I had already tried to go to family functions without having a relationship with my parents and it just made everything uncomfortable and awkward.

I thought it would be better if I just quietly went away. I have awesome memories of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and such – plus with Facebook, I can get a glimpse into their lives, “like” pictures and statuses, make nice comments, and kinda sorta still know them – even if it’s only superficial. It’s the choice I made and while it’s sad, I’m okay with it.

Even after my grandma’s passing, I’m okay with the choice I made about my parents.

I just hope that even though I put a great distance between us, my grandma knows how much I loved her, how much she meant to me, how much she influenced my life in a positive way, and all the happy memories I have of her. But I’m not sure she knows, because I didn’t make sure she knew these things.

I regret not actually saying these things to her often enough as an adult.

Grandma Betty,

I love you. I always have and always will.

~Kimberly 

I encourage you to not take how you feel about someone for granted. Send them a note or give them a call and let them know that they’re important to you. You just never know when it will be too late.

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The look on my face says it all

http://www.mnmtbseries.com/
http://www.mnmtbseries.com/

It’s been about three and a half weeks since my first mountain bike race of this season¹ and things are going pretty good. The goals I’ve made for myself have nothing to do with being last or not last, but with how well I do at each race. Each course is different, so my time goal for each race has been different, but a couple of my goals are the same every time I get out there:

  • Don’t get lapped!
  • Finish before the next class of racers start!

With three races done, I’ve managed to make those goals every time! That feels pretty freakin’ amazing.

But…I’m going to digress just a little bit. Stay with me. I *pinky promise* to bring it all together for you at the end.

You know what doesn’t feel amazing? When an (ex) Facebook Friend, Anna, makes a post and it hits way too close to home. See, Anna was in her car and happened to see a man riding his motorcycle in the lane next to her. No biggie. People ride motorcycles all the time. BUT, Anna didn’t care for how big the man was and how he was dressed. She thought his shorts were too short and he was too big and hairy to leave home without a shirt on, so she snapped a picture with her cellphone and uploaded it to Facebook. Her and her friends spent the day typing rude comments and mean things about him. (I sorta wished I would’ve taken a screen shot of it just so you know I’m not kidding about how these “adults” behaved, but we’ve all heard and read mean comments before – just use your imagination.)

After reading some of the comments, I finally had enough and started sticking up for this guy. I mean, who the hell are these people to rip on someone just because he isn’t following the social norm and covering himself up – or better yet, staying at home so he doesn’t “hurt anyone’s eyes”? The action of sticking up for him promptly got me unfriended by Anna, which if that’s what kind of person she is – I don’t want to be friends with her anyway.

I went to bed and thought I had let what Anna and her friends did go, but I couldn’t.

Because think of this: If a guy is out there just riding his motorcycle, minding his own damn business, DOING NO HARM, and people are so mean to him…What’s going to stop someone from taking a picture of me on my mountain bike and posting it to the internet, while they and their friends rip on me?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

And yet, I’m determined to put on my tutu and get out there anyway because I’m not willing to live life on the sidelines, right?!?!? Right.

So far this week I’ve raced my mountain bike FOUR times! There was a Time Trail & Short Track race on Saturday, a regular Series Race on Sunday (which was so hard that I started to cry and hyperventilate – but I calmed myself down and finished the race), and last night I raced a Duel Solemn course! HOLY CRAP! This week has been freakin’ amazing!

We’re all BFFs here, so I’m going to tell you a sad secret. As pictures of me started rolling in, I felt a little sick to my stomach. I’m not a small girl. I weigh over 200 pounds still and here I am, on a bike – in bike shorts and a tutu. Let’s just say it’s not the most flattering of positions (or outfits) for anyone, but especially if you’re on the larger side of things, right?

I couldn’t help myself but to start thinking some of the same things about myself, that Anna and her friends had posted about that man on the motorcycle. I was no longer my own best friend, seeing all my awesome qualities, while being kind and gentle with the parts of myself I wish were different. No. I was horrible. I was a total bitch.

When a picture of me racing down the Duel Solemn course surfaced on Facebook this morning, I cringed.

DS Kimberly
“DETERMINATION and super strong!!!” Photo from Shockspital – DirtWirx Bike Week Album on Facebook.

I couldn’t post the actual things going through my head when I saw the picture so I posted this:

“Yeah. The look on my face says it all.”

And one of my best friends, Noelle, posted this:

“DETERMINATION and super strong!!!”

Because sometimes you can’t be your own best friend and you need someone else to see the great things in you that you can’t see in yourself.

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Don’t know what a Duel Solemn course is or want to check out more pictures from the race? Check out Shockspital’s DirtWirx Bike Week Album!

¹I feel a little bad about not updating about my races right away, but there’s been a lot of changes happening in our house and I just haven’t made the time. I’m hoping to get back in the grove of writing regularly again. It’s good for me. :)

 

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