Trek Women
January 31, 2008

Thinking Big

Lightbulb_pink_2 Wow.  I was worried at first with how quiet all of you have been out there with my challenge to think (and write down) your goals for the year.  I could hear the shifting of my gears (which are darn quiet).  But, then some of you stepped up - BIG time.  When I said to think and dream big some of you heeded the call.

Lori, who lives in Mazatlan Mexico - hey, we've gone international - wrote to tell me that she's a fellow triathlete who's thinking of trying a marathon.  She wants to prove she can do it because the tiny voice in her head knows she really wants to do an Ironman (I'm with you on that one).    She says, "I will have to prove to myself this year that yes I can, and survive it."    Lori also told me - "You said think big -  I also want to organize some races in my area for the kids. . .I now have time to be involved and hopefully lead--scary thought - but sport is such a good thing that somehow I will figure out where to start."  Lori, I'm glad that you are getting youth involved.  I can't wait to hear about it as the year goes on.

Another woman who wants to expand multi-sport to more women and get them biking is Lorri, a cycling coach and head of Velo Girls.  This year she is expanding her coaching to include a duathlon program for women.  She says, " I'm very excited about it, because I think multi-sport is much more accessible to women than bike racing is."  You go girl - get those women on bikes and have them let us know about their experiences.

And finally, I bring you Susan, who would like to ride to Denver this year.  No, not around Denver - ride to Denver -- from her home in Illinois!  Her friend Peggy turned 50 last year and wants to do something adventurous so the two of them are putting together a 1,000 mile ride to Loveland, CO where there is a biking get together.  WOW.  I wanted to up my mileage this year as a goal but Susan here is putting me to shame.  That's an adventure I think I'll want to keep tabs on. . .

These women have big goals, big dreams and big adventures in store for them in 2008.  Your goals don't have to look like these - they just have to be for you.  I hope that some of you are considering my challenge of trying a tri - I'll be here with you for the training.

Biking, at any distance, racing or not, on any type of bike can be for everyone.  In the four weeks I have been going to physical therapy, the one thing I see the therapists do with everyone is put them on a bike.  Now, we just need to get out on the road. . . .

I'll leave you for today with a cool anagram of the word "challenge" that a PT patient made where I am rehabbing:

Chosen Habits Are Long Lasting, Engage in New Goals Everyday!

-Jen

January 30, 2008

Gimme a break, Shakespeare!

Augustbike_2Parting is such sweet sorrow - whatever, Shakespeare.  Let me rephrase - parting just plain sucks.  My friends Suzanne and Bob have just left for their move to Georgia.  I'm not feeling anything remotely sweet about my sorrow.

I met Suzanne over two years ago at the first meeting of Team Survivor Tri State.  Since then we have biked a bunch of miles together, survived swim drills with Coach Tom, and shivered at race start lines together.  Suzanne, who we call the Kenyan because she runs so fast (but yet hates running), has challenged me to be a better biker (she has calves of steel!), a better runner and a better friend.

Suzanne's husband Bob has been invaluable in my life.  The first race I ever did I came upon quite the conundrum. . . "Um, who holds this stuff for me while I race?"  (Jeff is my at home with the kids race support - I haven't found many races that offer childcare). Bob has evolved into larger than life team support for our group of girls.  Bob carries our stuff, directs to bathrooms, changes flat tires, offers moral support, water and food, cheers and takes pictures.  Last year our friend Carla was not racing and tried to help Bob out while some of us were racing.  Bob fired her, I think.  Somehow Bob know where we all are on a triathlon course and magically can cheer for us all while capturing photos. (And does all of this while munching some kind of snack.) Caramysuzbobme

Racing and training bind you together so quickly.  To have someone stand next to you sweaty and joyful while you say "can you believe we did that?" is amazing.  It's a witness to the event and a snapshot for your memory that you can relive again and again. To me, its akin to how you need a witness to a hole in one in golf (which I have never had, unless you count mini-golf) or its just not quite the same. 

For many in our group, triathlon training lost its mystique when we just couched it in "girl time chatting."  It's easy to not think of it as training when you were getting together with your friends - you just also happened to be riding 20 miles.  Somehow those 20+ miles are so much easier when you are riding with others (maybe it's also the drafting!)

Prerace1 I've never had a close friend move away.  I guess I have been lucky.  I've come to realize how important in my life those people are who "just get me."  When I was younger I thought that I would grow into someone strong enough to face everything that life threw at me.  Instead, I think I grew strong enough to face my own weaknesses and know that sometimes you just need someone there to catch you when you fall.  Friends do that for each other. 

Suzanne and Bob, riding in Frenchtown won't be the same without you.  Please find us some good bike routes and races in Georgia - you can't get rid of us that easily. . .

-Jen

January 29, 2008

Tougher Than You Think

Lisamile25 Hey blogosphere, meet Lisa.  Lisa gets the honor of being the first person to respond to my post "All About You" and let me know what she has planned for 2008. 

Without knowing it, I had "met" Lisa when I spoke to a Team in Training Group at their first group practice this past summer.  Lisa undertook walking the Nike Women's Marathon last October (something I would love to do!).  Here she is at mile 25 of that hilly course.

Lisa told me, "Nothing could have prepared me for what it felt like to be amongst 20,000 women and a few men at the start of the marathon in San Francisco.  My emotions were all over the map that day and the experience is one that I'll never forget.  I learned a lot about myself that day.  One thing I learned is that I'm tougher than I thought." 

While the marathon made Lisa a marathoner, her experience solidified other life goals for her.

"Since the age of three, I've had a camera and used it photograph my surroundings. . . Many people have suggested that I make photography my vocation rather than just an enjoyable hobby.  My response has always been that earning money from taking pictures would somehow diminish the joy I experience in being a photographer.  What's really going on is that I am afraid of failure.  Making photography into a business venture puts it into the public realm. With that comes expectations..."

Lisa, I think, highlights something that is huge for all of us - FEAR.   I can't tell you how much fear I have faced in the past three years.   The problem with fear and fear of failure is that there is no amount of experiencing the feeling that diminishes it as we enter each new experience.  What is more important, and much more easily said than done, is whether we choose to push ahead whether the fear is there or not.  We are all tougher than we think.

This year, Lisa has decided to take her love of the camera from hobby to business.  She also plans to add hang gliding to her goals for the year.  Lisa also tells me that the "whole world of cycling is a bit of a mystery to me."  Hmmmm....I now feel challenged to uncover that mystery for Lisa and have her riding with all of us by year's end.

-Jen

PS.  Keep those dreams and goals coming, I'm loving hearing from you.

January 25, 2008

Ow, ow, ow. . Can't Talk, Can't Walk

Fulllunges_2 On Wednesday my physical therapist decided that adding lunges would be a great idea to my two hour PT routine.  Lunges?  Are you kidding me?  I was so  worried about how that much pressure would feel on my foot that I was lulled into a false sense of security.  I did them.  I smiled at the end.  My foot didn't hurt.  I skipped (okay, just in my mind) out of PT thinking I was a star injured-tendon-in-the-foot-rehab student.

Then I woke up on yesterday morning. Ow. Ow. OW. OWWWWWW!

My hips and quads are killing me.  Five weeks of non-use on those muscles. . .they're letting me hear about it.  I can't even find words to describe what the pain sensors in my brain are shouting.  Perhaps part of the PT plan is to make everything else in my leg hurt so much that I don't even notice if my foot hurts.

The cool part about PT though is their respect for my goals.  Never once, even while I was basically crawling through their treatment area the day after my cast came off, have they dissuaded my racing goals for this coming year.  Yes, it helps that it's only January but my mind is already on June.   The things they are challenging me to do (or not do sometimes) are helping me stay focused on the goal.  Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat without Pain.

It's a long road back from here.  I've seen long roads before. . .bring it on.

Feel free to lunge along with me. . .

-Jen

January 23, 2008

Cool? Me?

Joecool Yesterday afternoon I was at the gym with my kids, who attend a kids "bootcamp" aerobic class.  I figured I would head into the fitness center and do my "workout" of 10 minutes on the bike and some upper body stuff.  Given that I don't have the okay to actually sweat yet I decided to forgo the actual workout clothes.  I threw on some yoga pants and kept on the long-sleeved T-shirt I had been wearing all day - my brand new "NFC Champions NY Giants shirt" (newsflash for those non-football fans out there - the Giants, in overtime, won the NFC championship game and are now headed to the Superbowl.  This is a BIG deal in our house).

Anyway, I did my 10 minutes on the bike, jamming to all of 3 songs on my iPod workout playlist. . . . I was just getting off the bike when this very in-shape, not older than twenty year old came up to me and held out his closed fist (you know, the new "cooler" way to give someone a high five).  Because of my iPod I couldn't hear what he said.  I looked around for the candid cameras thinking someone was calling me on the ridiculousness of my 10 minute "workout."  I then did what every crazy mom would do. . .looked completely baffled, said "what?" too loudly and THEN thought to take my headphones off.

"Great shirt" he says and gives me the fist greeting along with the knowing nod that I supposes now substitutes for a wink.  I stammered a thanks and then he walked off.  I, however, remained flummoxed and slightly blushing (or so it felt).  Someone younger, and presumably much cooler, thought I did something cool.  Granted all I did was wear the shirt - it's not like I actually played the game. 

Let's be clear here.  I have never been cool (unless you count my coolness factor that exists solely in my mind).  And while I can attend a black tie event with the best of them (and look darn good), I always relish my true, sweaty self.   And while being restricted to 10 minutes on the bike has me feeling like I've lost my only friend, I suddenly felt as if I was home again. I am gym cool. (Which is COMPLETELY different than being PTA cool, grocery shopping cool, pajamas at the bus-stop cool. . . you get the idea.)

I relished the boost to my inner hot athlete self - (it's all about visualization and denial!) and then went and did some serious core work. . . in case anyone was looking  :)

-Jen

January 22, 2008

"It's All About You"

Notebook3 "It's all about you."  That is the phrase that my good friend Amy S. (to distinguish her from my other good friend Amy V.) kept repeating to me as a mantra during this time last year when I was "doing" chemo again.  I have that typical woman thing and felt guilt at asking people to help me or my family during that time (as if there was ever a time one should NOT feel guilty that was it).  She kept telling me that I needed to basically re-frame my thinking and say "It's all about me - what do I need?"  Sometimes the only way I could do that was to write it down or send an e-mail because on paper it felt easier to write everyting without judgement (mostly my own) -the little, the big and the seemingly crazy.

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the day to day activities, that days, weeks and then months pass with out us being able to stop and see if we are headed down the path on which we want to travel.  I know I am guilty of this.  Writing down what we want to do, or be or achieve helps us be accountable to ourselves.  It's not a contract meant to create feelings of failure if we can't check the items off the list.  Rather, it's a place to disclose our hopes and puzzle out how to get there.

I'm about ready to wish myself a Happy New Year and tackle those New Year's goals (which I will also tell you about this week).  Note:  If you are new to my blog, you may want to consult "Don't Rush My New Year."   But, I am still tweaking some of my goals for the year and know that I could use some help exploring new stuff.

So, I am now going to do my darnedest to convince you all out there to get out some paper (or a computer) and say "it's all about ME!".    So, the assignment for this week is this:

Tell me your goals for this year.  Big, small, outlandish, crazy - I want to hear them all.  This truly is about you.  What do you want to be/achieve/explore/learn how to do this year?   It might be something you already know how to do but want to push to new limits.  It might be something you have no idea how to do and need resources.  Even if it's one of those things you've only whispered in the back of your mind late at night, let me know.  You can explain your reasons in great detail or just jot 'em down. 

By the end of the week I want to feature a blog with all of you out there in it! 

You can simply post a comment to this entry or, drop me a line at my new Trek e-mail address:  Jen_Polo@trekwomenwhoride.com (Note: there's an underscore between my first and last name that's hard to see with the underlining.)

-Jen

January 17, 2008

Back in the Saddle!

Physical_therapy_002_3 Here I am reporting in from physical therapy.  It's been about a week and a half since the cast came off and I am making progress every day.  I can actually walk now and my ankle is starting to get with the program.  I spend 6 hours a week at PT and then have homework to do on my own.

So far the hardest thing has been all about managing my own expectations and the mental aspects of rehab.  I know what kind of oncology patient I am - grouchy come scan time, only cautiously optimistic with my doctor. . . but learning what kind of PT patient I am has been different.  I really have had to work hard to understand my fears and expectations about the process.  The biggest realization was that I was fearful of working the rehab process and then finding in the end that my body was failing me - AGAIN.  For me, the should package some psychotherapy along with the physical therapy.  Physical_therapy_003_3But, now that I am seeing progress my fears are easing.  I know that it's going to take time but that doesn't stop me from asking "Um, when can I swim and bike?"  (I'm not dumb enough to ask to run again for awhile).    One of my therapists, Jennilyn's response "I hate when you ask that question."  But, the good news is that I talked enough about how my pedal stroke wouldn't hurt me that she let me try their stationary bike! 

Here I am - I completed 10 minutes and went 2 miles - lookout tri circuit - I'm back!   Now I just need to work on my ability to balance my whole body weight on that left leg.  After a month of not using those muscles, all the muscles in my leg shake when I try to bear all my weight on the left leg. 

1 mile at a time - let's do it together!

-Jen

PS.  Jill and Jennilyn - if you are reading this - DON'T WORRY - I promise I won't do more than 10 minutes each day right now until you say so!

January 16, 2008

Shuffle Game

Housework_007 It's been a workout.  It involved feats of balance, skill, strategy and endurance.  I have been determined.  And now I have reached my goal - I have found my computer!  Our house is in the middle of what amounts to an enormous shuffle game.  In a true bout of "what were we thinking?", we decided to undergo a whole lot of house renovation all at once.  So, our kitchen is being redone, while our upstairs hall bath is still not quite done, and a whole lot of painting and redoing of carpet is also being done.  What this amounts to is a whole lot of coordination, flexibility and SHUFFLING.  The kitchen is currently in the laundry room and garage.  My "office/paperwork and all that is important" is in various laundry baskets in the family room.  The contents of the bedroom, other than furniture, are in the spare/exercise room.  The hall bathroom is in our master bathroom.  The laundry, well, if it's clean it's somewhere piled up.  If it's dirty, well, it requires doing the dishes in the laundry sink and then putting them away (where the heck is away?) so that I can then open the washer, which is doubling as my dish drying rack.   

I keep reassuring myself that it's all going to come together.  And I try to keep laughing - the funniest part of my day was yesterday when my physical therapist had to get creative with my leg exercises.  The exercise she wanted me to do involved standing at the kitchen sink. . . . no kitchen sink!

Now that I have found my computer again, stay tuned. . I can't wait to tell you about physical therapy and then I have something that will need contribution from all of you out there.

-Jen

PS.  Anyone have any easy dinner ideas other than pizza and fast food?  We have a stove that is still hooked up in the middle of the room. . . .

January 11, 2008

"Does This Resolution Make Me Look Fat?"

Okay, so now I have your attention.  Time for some thought about those pesky "resolutions" that come around each Jan 1.  I can't tell you how many people (99% women), I have heard over the past ten days mention "lose weight" in the same sentence with resolution.  Aaagghhh.  We need a massive do-over here.  I have yet to hear anyone say things like, "do a century ride, become stronger, learn to cook healthier, run a 5K, do a triathlon."  It's all been about weight loss.  Don't get me wrong, it's in the back of my brain too.  I have a Santa cookie tummy right now thanks to the forced inactivity of my cast and the yumminess of holiday food.  But, I will not bow to the industry. 

When I first started tri-training, I always said it was to lose my "chemo-butt."  The real truth, the challenge, to take control again of a body that betrayed me, felt too emotional, too raw to explain.  So weight loss or fitness associated with that goal were secondary aims.  But, surprisingly, when you put in that much work, learn to train and spend that much time with a swim, bike and run, you don't have to think about the fitness gains and inches lost - they take care of themselves.  So does the strength and amazement at your will that follow.  Let's rethink the goals for the year - I encourage you to pick your challenge, write it down, write the steps in getting there and then we'll all celebrate at the finish. 

I'm working on my "plan of action 2008" and will share it soon.  While you are working on yours take a look at this Dove ad called "Onslaught."  We can do better - let's show other women, daughters, nieces, mothers and grandmothers that the impact is in celebrating what our bodies can do, not how thin they are!       -Jen

January 8, 2008

Trek to Wisconsin

Img_1900_2 So here we are - the Women Who Ride - much more bundled up than our last trip to Trek in Wisconsin.  I flew to Trek, via Denver and Atlanta, to spend a few days with the other Women Who Ride, all the Trek salespeople, and the Trek Fit For Women Demo Tour Team (who rock by the way).

It was a whirlwind, to say the least.  We got to meet all the salespeople and explain to them our role as ambassadors in helping get more women riding and creating a great, women cycling community.  It was cool to sit down with the reps from this region and find out about what events would be coming up this year that we could attend.  How often do you get to tell the world -"Hey, I might be coming to a store or event near you!" ? Stay tuned as I figure out where you might find me this Spring and Summer.  I hope to get out and meet a lot of you.

I also got to work with Chris Garrison, who will be the Fit For Women Demo girl working the northeast this year.  Chris is really laid back with tons of knowledge and will be towing around the Fit for Women Demo trailer filled with tons of Trek bikes for you to come test.

To me, one of the most rewarding parts of the trip was meeting with the clothing product managers and talking about new designs and ideas and giving them feedback on what real women want.  Given how many men work at Trek, we became a nice woman focus group for feedback.  I walked away (okay, hobbled) from that discussion feeling like we made a really positive impact and influenced the direction some women specific cycling apparel may go for Trek.  (I think that perhaps they were shocked to find that most women think the "shelf bra" in tanks are fairly useless for most of the general population.  Do you agree?)

I would love to hear your feedback on anything related to cycling, clothing designs, or things you want to see in the future, no matter how big or small - trust me - Trek is really listening to our feedback.

-Jen