8 Week Challenge: Week Six and Seven Updates
If I were a good blogger I’d give you a bunch of links back to the original challenge and the recent updates. Then I’d recap everything using the same format I’ve used for five weeks… you know, for consistency. Then I’d tell you about weight and challenges and wins.
Truth is, I’ve never been a very good blogger.
Do you want to know what happened the week before last?
Summer came. The air went thick and heavy. The drivers slipped into a daze, paralyzed with heat and longing. They ran stop signs. In some cases, they ran stop signs in front of me. I survived.
I ate food. It’s this crazy thing you do when you are hungry. I ate a lot of food that was good for me and a little food that was not. All of the food made me happy because in some sense I guess I am a creature defined by eating.
Then Sal and I traveled home to see his family and I found myself in the Sicilian wonderland that is his parent’s house. Bread, pasta, sausage, cannoli, AMAZING! I ate slowly and closed my eyes and drank his father’s homemade wine. In that food was something more healing, more important and way healthier than all the chicken breast and kale in the world. There are things about food that we simply cannot measure: the experience of food, the sharing of food, the respect for food.
This morning I weighed in at 148 pounds. That is 13 pounds heavier than I weighed two years ago. Nine pounds lighter than I weighed six weeks ago. 25 pounds heavier than I weighed in high school. 17 pounds lighter than I weighed at my heaviest. None of these numbers make me better or worse than I currently am, but there they are – lined up next to each other trying to be judged: best, worst, most efficient. The numbers exist whether I ride my bike or not. They are small or big or even or odd. They exist in relation to each other and they exist in relation to nothing in particular. They’re numbers.
Do you see what I mean? They’re digits. Remember that.
With that in mind, here are the current digits, for what they’re worth:
Past two week’s progress: 150.4–> 148, -2.4 pound
Total progress: 157 –> 148, -9 pounds
Past two week’s progress: 129.6 –> 129.8, -.2 pounds
Total progress: 139 –> 129.8, -9.2 pounds
*Mironda rocked a 70.3 tri last weekend in crazy heat. 5th in her age group: Nice work, Mironda!!
Big Legs, Big Glorious Legs
Two weeks ago on Monday I raced my bike. I haven’t done this in more than 6 weeks. I raced a local road circuit race known as the weekly world championships. I raced in the cat 4/5 group because, well, I’ve only raced on the road about 4 times and I’ve never done particularly well. I rolled up to the start line and I was nervous. There were other girls who said out loud that they were nervous too. That made me feel better. We started pedaling.
Lots of things happened but nothing much of consequence. There was an attack, there was a short chase, there was a sprint for hot spot points at which point we shelled a coupla riders off the back of the group. There was a sprint at the end of the race. I took second behind my teammate, who had come out that evening just to introduce me to the whole phenomenon of PIR. The race was not special or dramatic, but here is what I learned:
Holy shit. Glorious fast-twitch muscles! These legs that make my denim-searches so trying exist for something. 20 years of sprinting out of the box to beat a throw to first base has created these big muscle fibers and, although I haven’t trained for it in close to a decade, I still have explosive power. Nothing special, but relative to my peers? I can accelerate.
It was as if all at once I learned what my body was for. What it was designed to do. What I might be good at if I gave it a little effort.
I haul myself over these mountains in Europe because it seems heroic and awesome, but the truth is you put me in a drag race with one of those little climber ladies and I have a decent shot at obliterating them into a million pieces. We worship mountains because we’ve been taught to do it, but there is some amazing meaning in a 10-second explosion, a supernova of wattage fireworks.
On the last Saturday in June we left the house at 5:30am. The day promised heat towards the nineties and we wanted to avoid it. We rode into the west hills and started climbing every grade we ran into. I wanted to reach 10,000 feet of cumulative elevation gain. I wasn’t going home until I did.
The non-climber who likes to climb.
It took 7.5 hours. That is a lot of goddam bike riding. There were moments when I thought Sal would kill me. A bee stung him on the top of the head. He went a little delirious with thirst and hunger until we finally made our way back to the store on Old Cornelius. He didn’t seem well, but he wouldn’t turn back so we kept going.
At mile 80 we hit 10k. Then we had to ride home. We took a nap to match the ride and then headed north for a barbeque with friends.
Has food ever tasted so good?
I spent most of the past week in San Jose and the plan was to ride all of our old favorite roads – the long, winding climbs of the peninsula, the arid and rolling roads around Uvas Dam. We set out together on Thursday to climb Highway 9 and when we hit the base of the climb there was a large cracking sound (that was my spirit) and then I fell apart and pedaled squares and hunched and rocked and cursed my way up the long climb, but my body was done. The ride felt like the hardest I’d done in months, but I couldn’t even put out recovery watts. I was a mess. It was the tell-tale sign that I was due for a little rest. No surprise there – I was at the end of a 3-week build and I’d been riding hard.
Unfortunately, I had to rest while surrounded by some of the best riding on the west coast and, arguably, the country. Bummer.
What I’m telling you is that these past two weeks were good. I wrote some things worth reading (I hope). I rode my bike for 25 hours, which seemed like enough. I ate some absolutely incredible food, climbed dirt roads with my lovely girlcrush Rita Jett, laughed with family, napped on the regular, railed road bikes on single-track, mostly ignored social media, and made some pictures that I like. I ate peaches and plums straight off the branch, pizza and bread directly out of the brick oven, green beans picked and snapped the same day and ricotta cheese so fresh it was still steaming.
I lived and ate mindfully. The weight is coming off slowly – and I may not hit the original goal of 145 by July 20th, but I’m going to get close – and, more importantly – I feel whole and complete and happy, not neurotic and obsessive.
Nine pounds is amazing. I’m stoked. Now to reintroduce a little focus on my upcoming rest week. In 6 days I’ll ride across Western Montana with The Cycling House kids. I’m going to need my strength :).
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