Confession

I kind of hate to see the word “confession” in a blog post because it’s never really a confession. It’s always this check-out-how-quirky-I-am thing. It’s not something you’re actually going to find horrifying, it’s usually something meant to be adorable. I mean, you see “confessions” about being obsessed with mason jars or not getting the hype around a tv show or listening to dorky music when you work out. You don’t see confessions about not having ever cleaned your refrigerator or peeking at your friends phone while they went to the bathroom. (Neither of those are true about me.) 

So, here’s something possibly quirky and adorable about me that I think is actually a really bad habit that might get me killed one day. I yell at people while I’m riding my bike.

I did it three times this morning, which is what got me thinking that I may have a problem.

Yell number one:  I was waiting behind a car at a red light and watching him play with his phone. The light changed, still on his phone. “GET OFF YOUR PHONE, DUDE!” I yelled.

Yell number two: Not really a yell, but I was behind a Jaguar in traffic, and one of his brake lights was out. At the next stop light he was going straight, and I was turning right, so when I pulled up next to him in the turn lane, I motioned for him to roll his window down and politely told him he has a brake light out. He said thanks but looked kind of weirded out. Which I get. People talking to you in traffic is weird.

Yell number three: I stopped at a red light in the bike lane. Directly across the intersection, two cyclists looked back at me. What’s wrong with this picture?  Stupid bike salmon. I gave them a head tilted quizzical look across the intersection, and as we passed each other I yelled. “GUYS, THIS IS A ONE WAY STREET.” Well, they were pretty close to me so I didn’t have to yell very loud.

And then yesterday, this is a bad one, I watched a girl on a B-cycle nearly get flattened when she snuck up past a line of cars at a stop light, passing on the right.The light changed, we all went forward, and she was nearly hit as both of the first two cars in line were trying to turn right. And I yelled “THAT’S A GREAT WAY TO GET HIT BY A CAR.” Because I am horrible and rude and unbelievably snotty about bike safety,

I generally value decorum, but I can’t stop yelling at people when I’m on my bike.

Littlefoot Triathlon – Race Recap

Oh man.

This summer I planned to do no races, to enjoy my summer, and to go to more happy hours. And I have! I have spent a lot of time drinking beers on patios, sitting on the couch, working, and very little time working out. As a result I’m slightly squishier but a lot less stressed out than I was this time last summer.

But a few weeks ago Chris and I went for a bike ride and then I hopped off and did a short run. Just to see. Just to see how bad a brick might feel. But it was fine! I was hot and tired, but really, it was fine.

So on a whim, with no training, yesterday afternoon I signed up for the Littlefoot Triathlon, a tiny sprint tri that was this morning. (There were only about 150 racers.) I had done two random 5ks this summer, not really trained, and PR’d both! Maybe 2013 was one long taper I’d benefited from immensely.

Ha. Hahahaha. Oh, Past Mel. How did you get so dumb?

I actually had a lot of fun today, but I totally face-planted in the race. The very short version with random crappy iPhone pictures…

The approach:

Most of my gear came together pretty quickly last night except for 10 tense minutes spent looking for a stray cycling glove. (I have super crappy wrists, I need them even for a short ride.) My alarm didn’t go off (I set it for PM instead of AM) but Chris’s alarm woke me up and I got out the door on time. On the way there, I hit a bump on the freeway and in the rear view mirror watched my bike bounce out of its fastenings on the bike rack and slide dangerously close to flying off. Pulled over, adjusted, drove verrrry carefully the rest of the way.

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The swim:

Always my favorite leg, and I love the part before we start where everyone’s in the water chatting. I haven’t swam (in a pool or in a lake) in a year so I was impressed that I could swim a half mile with no breaks. It wasn’t fast, but I swam pretty straight and was able to pass some folks.

The bike:

Bleh. I think I have realized I do not enjoy cycling, especially on my crappy Target bike. The course wasn’t as hilly as I thought, but it was really curvy, so you had zero momentum going into the uphills. Also, my heart rate was like “WHY DID YOU JUST SWIM SO HARD FOR SO LONG? IS SOMETHING CHASING YOU?” and my heart rate would. Not. Come. Down. Not when I slowed down, not when I had water, not when I took it easy on the uphills.

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The run:

I got off the bike and my legs felt okay-ish, but again my heart rate was like “THIS IS NOT DRINKING BEER. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING??” And by this time it was really hot, and when I tried to run my heart rate exploded and I felt a little dizzy. So since I had no goals, and I was just here for fun, I decided to just walk the 5k. I could have kept up a run/walk situation but…meh. Meh. I say.

I smiled at other racers, chatted with volunteers, and drank a lot of water. It was hot. Then there were fewer people on the course and I got bored. I kind of wished I’d spent my $85 on a new dress.

The finish:

I realized at some point that I was the last finisher, and I felt badly because I think people really like to cheer for last finishers who look like they’re overcoming some hardship but trying really hard. People like it when the last finisher is really old or overweight but doing their best to sprint to the finish! I was just a healthy lady who was not trained at all and being kind of lazy.

When I got to the finish line I tried to nonchalantly saunter across, but the announcer stopped the raffle/awards to call me out, and I waved to the crowd. “Hi! Sorry. Don’t mind me. Are there any vegetarian sandwiches left?” (There weren’t!)

Maybe 15 seconds after I finished, I was slinking off to collect my stuff when the announcer called out my name for first place! Well, only place. In the sadly neglected Athena division. (That means I weigh more than 150 pounds.) I collected my award and marveled at the math that allowed me to be both first and last. Ah, well.

So there’s that. Ninth triathlon in the books. Kind of made an idiot of myself, but I had fun.

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Three footnotes if I could remember how to actually code footnotes:

One, I think I actually came in last place, which is kind of funny. It’s that thing people dread but it’s fine. No one points and laughs at you, you still get the same t-shirt. I’m kind of happy to fall on this sword if it means someone else who would mind doesn’t have to. But, I was also in the last wave, so maybe someone who started 20 minutes ahead of me actually took more time than I did. Who knows.

Two, I wish the Athena division was really a thing. I always sign up for it if it’s an option because seriously, regardless of how in shape you are, it’s just harder to propel 150 pounds around a course than it is 120 pounds, and I’m a big person! I’d like to compete against other big people. I’m tall and broad and the only time in my life I’ve weighed less than 150 pounds was a brief period after college when I engaged in some somewhat disordered habits. Other than that, I’ve fit into the same jeans since high school.

And there were definitely women in that weight range who beat me today who decided to compete in their age group instead. They should have this cool plaque, not me! I mean, to each her own. Thanks for the first place/last place finish, ladies!

Three, race directors: you always run out of the vegetarian sandwiches or burritos! You should have more. I was starving and made a beeline for a McDonald’s breakfast sandwich when I left the park.

Breathless

It took me longer than it should have to catch the joke in the title, but this four minute film is a love letter to Denver, thin air and all.

I think it “premiered” at TedxMileHigh. We saw it there first, anyways. (TedxMileHigh was awesome, by the way. Highly recommended.) I’ve been waiting for it to be online so I could splash it all over the internet.

Maybe it’s a little cheesy, but I like cheesy. Why not get a little silly and emotional about something you love?

2012 Goals – How did we do?

Here is my post about 2012 goals, in its entirety:

Subject: Resolutions are Dumb. Goals Are Awesome!

So far on my plate for 2012:

  • Read 25 books
  • Plan an awesome vacation for our ten year anniversary
  • Run the half marathon I just signed up for in the spring (my first!)
  • Race the same Olympic triathlon I crashed and burned at in 2011, except this time not have my race go off the rails
  • Turn 30
  • Complete a 70.3 triathlon in the fall (Boulder or Harvest Moon? I can’t decide!)
  • Add a second bathroom to our house

The only thing that’s more of a I’m-going-to-TRY-to-make-that-happen-but-it-probably-won’t is a “resolution” I’ve made a few times: to blog more. I love going back and reading my almost daily posts from livejournal when I was in college. I’d love to just jot more things down for my own memories down the road.

  • Books – Yeah, let’s just start with the saddest news. A very sad thirteen books. I started the year strong, but the second half of 2012 I felt very short on free time and when I had downtime I wanted brain candy in the form of a bubble bath, a glass of wine, and a silly tv show. Definitely room for improvement next year.From left to right, top to bottom:
    Liked, loved, hated, LOVED, loathed
    LOVED, liked, didn’t love, loved, liked a lot until the end
    Hated, loved, liked a lotScreen Shot 2012 12 30 at 3 28 11 PM
  • Vacation – Check. Debating a repeat this February for our 11th anniversary. The snow on the ground is making a warm beach sound so lovely.
  • Half marathon – check.
  • Olympic triathlon – check.
  • Turn 30 – check. (It’s satisfying to hit a milestone birthday and feel like your life is where you’d like it to be.)
  • 70.3 – check.
  • Second bathroom – check.
  • Blog more – mostly check. Checkish.

Also in 2012…

Commuted by bicycle all last winter. I fell off my bike twice, but I was happy and proud I did it.

Refinanced our mortgage, which will save us money in the short run and help us pay it off faster in the long run.

Let’s just say something vague about professional success. Last year I was taking on a lot of new responsibilities and kind of struggling with juggling them, but this year I felt more like I hit my stride.

Migrated my blog from tumblr to WordPress.

Spent a lot of time crying about Aurora, Newtown, and the shooting of a police officer at an event where I was volunteering.

Struggled with balancing work, trying to train, and having some semblance of a social life.

Saw a lot of awesome music (a lot for me, who doesn’t really love live music):

Tyler Lyle
John Heart Jackie
Daniel Ate The Sandwich
Avett Brothers
Devotchka (times two)
The Colorado Symphony
Cake
Jason Mraz
The Lumineers (times two)
Paper Bird
Shovels and Rope
Jason Mraz
Christina Perri
Alanis Morissette

Sang “Rolling on the River” with Hazel Miller

Worked with my mentee at Minds Matter to apply for college. They grow up so fast.

Wore the same pare of gold glitter flats, like, seriously almost every day this summer.

Tried out toastmasters.

Did my annual LALA (Ladies at Little America) trip.

Had a fun power’s-out-party with our neighbors.

Saw Temple Grandin speak and had her sign my book.

Tried acupuncture.

Got really into yoga. Somehow I went from a yoga-hater last summer to a borderline evangelist.

Had a quasi-roommate for the first six months of the year.
So! Some ups and downs, but I’m really proud of myself for completing my goals. Still working on some for 2013.

Blog posts I haven’t written

Oh hi.

I’ve been wondering about you who have time to document your lives on the internet. I miss it. Lately, if I’ve got the time I don’t have energy left. Blah blah so busy.

Things I have mentally started to compose blog posts about:

 

Why I’m considering not commuting by bicycle this winter after doing so the last two (and bragging about how easy it is).

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Refinancing our mortgage and how so far it’s been pretty simple but I’m afraid it’s going to get somehow complicated and annoying before we close on Tuesday.

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That I tried on a bunch of dresses to find a birthday dress (Oh yeah, I turned 30) and the Gap has so many frigging cute things right now. Also how my hair is getting so long and it’s bringing me such joy I’m kind of embarrassed about how much. Also also, the Gap dressing rooms have a little buzzer so you can call someone to get you a size AND the lights behind the mirror are dimmable in case they are ruining the iPhone camera photos you want to post on the internet.

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Thanksgiving in Alabama and why this gear was required. Check out those forehead wrinkles. (See: 30th birthday.)

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My volunteering with the library. I’m excited to start working with them long term, and if you see me in real life please please ask me about volunteering at the book sale. It’s the funniest happened-to-me story I’ve got.

 

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That there are legit like 25 packages that have arrived at my house because we’re doing Christmas here and everyone’s shipping their presents. This was taken a week ago; it’s not even half. I have lots of fun ideas for what to do with my family while they’re here, and I hope I’m a good hostess.

 

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How my holiday party was the funnest. Highlight: Chris spending ten minutes talking to a new coworker about beards, receding hairlines, and body hair. (To be fair, I had my own long convo with a colleague’s wife who has thick eyebrows like mine.) Second highlight: They gave everyone football or basketball jerseys for the team you root for. Since I’m not into sports I got a cycling jersey! Third highlight: dancing until the whole thing was over and then hugging the guys in the band and then pouring myself into an Uber home.

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How much  I cannot stand when people who live in a duplex cannot get their act together to coordinate on holiday decor. Symmetry, people. I know we all know our neighbors less than ever, but you’re borderline roommates. Come on. This looks so tacky.

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Why you need to be using a humidifier.

Why you need to use alba body oil if you live in Colorado.

Why our vet is the best (because he comes to your house).

The super cute things Harper has been doing lately.

How awesome iPhoto is for making Christmas cards.

Pictures of all our cute decorations.

What you all think I should do about my tan lines from doing my 70.3, still visible three months later.

 

Cycling under the influence

Sometimes it’s hard for me to know if something is really a “hot topic” or if it’s just interesting to me and people I know. Like, I was sort of interested in Colorado legalizing marijuana but I didn’t realize this was a national story until we went to Alabama for Thanksgiving and everyone asked us about it.

So, I don’t know if Denver Police enforcing DUI laws for cyclists is actually big news or if I just keep seeing it pop up because I am a Denver cyclist and so it’s something people I know are talking about.

One the one hand, it seems kind of obvious that you shouldn’t drink and bike. I’m always talking about how I have the same rights and responsibilities on my bike as I do in my car. That’s why it drives me crazy when cyclists go the wrong way on a one way street, or on the flip side when a red light won’t ever change for me unless a car pulls up behind me. You shouldn’t drive drunk; you shouldn’t ride your bike drunk.

But on the other hand, would you rather a drunk person get out on the road in a car or on a bike? I’m sure it’s possible to hurt someone while intoxicated on your bike, but my 50 pound cruiser does a lot less damage than my 2,000 pound Civic.

I’ve always felt a little funny about the fact that I will not drive my car with one drop of alcohol in my system, but I’ve definitely ridden my bike home from happy hour. If I had unlimited money, I’d take a cab home. (Actually I’d take an Uber home because I’m obsessed with their car service and it’s the best.)

I’m a stickler and very much a follower of rules, so I suppose it won’t sit well with me to be doing something that is technically illegal, but I probably am not going to start calling a cab to take me less than a mile in my neighborhood if I have my bike.

Also, don’t ever read the comments on any online article about cycling. They will make you hate everyone.

Bike Safety

I live about a mile and a half from where I work. I used to walk to work, and now I ride my bike, almost exclusively. (There are about two weeks in the winter when I will walk or take the bus.)

There are a lot of advantages to riding my bike. It’s faster, it’s more fun (wheeee!), and I also think it’s safer. I mean, obviously riding safely on the roads is a whole ‘nother blog post, but in the not getting mugged/murdered/raped/generally harassed sense, I feel a lot better on my bike.

I have long listed this as a great reason for me to ride my bike, to work or around the neighborhood, but this weekend I really, really felt safer on two wheels. Chris and I were riding home from City Park. We came to a stoplight and were spaced out so that while he went through just fine, I felt like I should stop. I sat at the light, it was raining a little. There was a group of men standing on the corner. I was wearing a bright fuschia dress and a bike helmet.

One of the men looked at me and said “Hey, girl!”

I gave a tight smile and looked back at my light.

“Heeeey girllll!”

“Um, hey.”

The man opened his arms wide and started walking toward me. He said something, but I didn’t understand it. My impression was he was coming in for…a hug? I was almost as worried about a strange man coming towards me as I was that, if the light changed, we’d suddenly be blocking traffic.

I stammered, “I…uh…NO!”

And took off on my bike. I am a rule follower, so I didn’t run the red light, but I did make a completely safe and legal right on red.

I felt so happy I was on my bike, not trying to outrun someone.

Later, in typical girl fashion, I worried I’d overreacted or even been rude.

But then the Awesome Mel inside of me was like, “Listen, Meek Mel. People can’t just start yelling at you and walk up to you in the road and not expect you to get the eff out of there. You are allowed to be rude to people who are making you feel unsafe.”

I don’t know how to end this story. That’s how it ended. I probably would have been fine if I stayed put until the light turned green. But I’m glad I could, and did, ride away.

Driving Sucks

I got a flat tire yesterday on my commuter bike.  My first flat ever.  I’ve had tires go low on air, but never popped a tube like that.  With 15 minutes to get to work, my options were grab another bike from the fleet or drive.  Rather than ride my antique tricycle, Chris’s gigantic fixie, or a sorta busted mountain bike, my best option would be my own road bike.  Since it was supposed to snow, though, I didn’t really want to ride a bike that is prone to make me feel wobbly.  So I drove.

I literally don’t remember the last time I drove to work.  (Humble brag.  I know.  Sorry.  Usually I ride my bike or if it’s really nasty out I ride the bus or very rarely walk.)   I think it was a year and some change ago, when we were dogsitting a dog who needed to be let out during the day but was too big to fit through our dog door. 

I didn’t even really know how to do it.  Like, I didn’t know the best route via car, didn’t know where to park.  (I had to pay $7!)  And on my bike, I ride right up to our building.  In my car I had to park a block away, then pay the machine, then put the ticket on my car, then walk to my office.  I had a hard time in the traffic on my way home, and at one point I could not get into the lane I needed to be in to save my life.

Anyways.  This is all to say, I love you Ginnie the Schwinnie.  Thanks for being my favorite bike.

Gratuitous Photo of Yourself Wednesday: Riding a bike in Fort Collins Edition!

Not totally gratuitous because it is related to something that was on my mind yesterday, and that’s that I never see other cyclists who look like me:

  • A lady
  • Dressed reasonably nicely for work
  • With a helmet
  • And using lights

This doesn’t seem like a huge list of criteria, but I never see it.  One, because 80% of people I see on bikes are dudes.  But even taking gender out of it, I don’t see people like me.  Usually, if someone is rocking lights and a helmet, they’re also wearing spandex, a jersey, or some other serious cyclist gear, or sometimes just jeans or more casual clothes.  If I see someone dressed like me, in a dress or work pants, they’re almost never wearing a helmet and rarely do they have lights.  Why is that?  I commute downtown.  There should be a ton of me’s.

It makes me feel like a lonely weirdo cyclist.

In which I seriously almost quit

We borrowed a bike rack from some friends!  Which means we are now free to ride bikes in places other than those easily reachable from our home.

So we took our bikes out to Golden to scope out the course for my first triathlon!  Two weeks from yesterday.  Yikes.

The course is kind of a funny one, according to the map online.  You ride your bike out a ways to the “loop area,” then do eight loops, then ride back to where you started to hop off and run.  So, I definitely wanted to see it for myself before race day and get a better idea of how long it would take me to complete the course so I could better estimate my time and set a good goal.

We parked, unloaded our bikes, and started off.  I noticed we we started out going downhill, and thought, “Great.  A nice bike ride uphill is exactly what I want at the end, before I try and run three miles as fast as I can.”

And then we turned the corner.

Does this look like a big hill?  Because it is one.  It is an enormous, long, scary ass hill.  Forget going up it, which is doable.  Whatever, put it in a low gear, trudge up, okay. Fine.  What got me upset was how fast I got going down it.  Even riding my brakes the whole way I still felt wobbly and unsteady and like I was going to tip over and crash at any moment.  I had a hard time coming to a stop at the bottom and my bike skidded a bit as my rear wheel sort of slid out from under me. SCARY.

So, scary as hell downhill, super difficult uphill, and short blocks of flat in between.  Eight times.  Do those hills eight times, and then ride further back uphill to where you started.

My first thought was “HELL to the NO.”  I teared up.  (I am a crier.  For perspective, I also cry when facing an especially busy day at work. Or at any sad story about dogs.  Feeling overwhelmed when picking out a cell phone plan.  Every single episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Etc.)

I was just thinking, this sucks.  I don’t want to do this.  I have been looking forward to this for six months plus, but this?  Eight laps of cycling terror and agony?  No thanks. I’ll send them an email politely explaining that I signed up before the course was posted online, and now that I see it is horrible, I would please like a refund.

The point is for it to be fun, and crying about scary hills on the corner of Maple and 13th? Not fun.

So.  I had my little meltdown.  And then we figured, as long as we’d come this far, may as well check out the run route as well.  The original plan was to run the run route, but since I was mopey and the map wasn’t super clear, we just biked it instead.  More up and down hills, though not as steep.

Honestly, after checking out the bike and run routes, we were both feeling like, Screw it.  We’ll sign up for another one.  This looks like no fun at all.

But before leaving, I said we should ride the bike loop again.  And it was a little less scary since I knew what was coming.  And I went up the hill, a little easier since I knew to just put it in granny gear and not even try to maintain any sort of speed whatsoever.

And we already paid about $100 in entry fees.

So.  Once again, time to HTFU.  I tacked on ten minutes to my goal time, reminded myself that the second tri I signed up for in June looks awesome and decided I didn’t want to be a quitter.  (Though I reserve the right to leave the race a super bad review on active.com depending on the organization on race day.)

So. We’ll see. Hrmph.