Tri Dog

Posted on August 16, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Queequeg cropped

Nearly two weeks ago, the morning before the Tour de Jalapeno, my dog Queequeg went tearing out the door at 4:15 am after some small animal that’d been lurking in our backyard for weeks.  She came back on 3 legs, dragging one behind her.

A torn ACL, it turns out, requiring extensive surgery to repair both it and her knee.

She spent more than a week laying around and staring at me with sad eyes, her leg swollen and bruised and ugly.  She wasn’t at all interested in toys or food or playing with my other dog, Smaug, from whom she is usually inseparable.

But then one morning as Smaug and I were leaving the house for a walk, there she was, tottering on 3 legs in front of us, wagging her tail slowly, nudging my hand and sticking her nose in the door crack.  She wanted to walk too.

I think I know how she felt.  Habit and instinct and whatever sense of fun dogs have was kicking in. A morning walk is what we do, what we’ve done her whole life.  No sooner had she started to feel even a bit better her first impulse was to be outside and run.  A dog after my own heart.

Queequeg’s stitches came out yesterday, and the doctor gave her the all-clear.  He suggested I take her to the pool for a few days, make her swim, rehab her leg.  Looks like we’re going to have to drag ourselves out of bed earlier than usual for a while, sneak to the pool before the neighbors are up and about. Somehow I think they’d frown on a Chihuahua using the neighborhood pool, even on doctor’s orders.

I hope Queequeg likes swimming as much as I do.  Soon enough, she can walk to her heart’s content. Maybe next week I’ll get her a bike.  Before you know it, she’ll be a bona fide tri dog.

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The Price of One Bad Meal

Posted on July 19, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Duck Waddle

I’ve been recovering most of the week.  Not from a race or an injury or even an illness, but from a meal.

I talk a lot about my love for (not-so-healthy) food. Chocolate.  The -ito family (Dorito, Frito, Cheeto).  Nevertheless, for the most part I am a healthy eater and know enough to stay away from certain foods, or at least eat them in moderation.

I generally avoid dairy and gluten, limit sodium, and try not to eat refined sugar that often.  I eat complex carbs and protein and enough produce to compost the entire neighborhood.

So I don’t know what I was thinking on Sunday night when my boyfriend and I sat down for dinner at the Alamo Café. We had just come from his grandmother’s 90th birthday party and I was pleased with myself for by-passing sandwiches and cake (yes, cake—the chocolate kind, with gobs of white, fluffy frosting) and munching instead on nuts and fruit.  Too pleased, apparently.

And too hungry to by-pass chips and queso. Margaritas with salt. The smell of fresh flour tortillas. Before I could sing “Deep in the Heart of Texas” I was elbow deep in carne guisada. Too much carne guisada.

I didn’t even finish my plate.  I left the rice and refried beans, opting for a side of boracho beans instead, and picked out the chunks of meat, leaving behind the glop of thick gravy they came covered in.  Still, I left there waddling like a duck.

Sodium, gluten, enriched flour and lord knows what else bloated my body for days.  On Monday morning, I couldn’t even run. (Is this what my pregnant friends feel like?  How do they do it?)

On Tuesday, I managed a waddle/run—at my slowest pace in years.   The rest of the week was a wash.

An entire week of fruitful exercise and six pounds of bloat were the price I paid for one bad meal.  I don’t know how people eat like this on a regular basis, but I know many who do.   I wish they could spend a week clean so they could experience natural energy, healthy-food style.  From now on, I sure will.

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In a Minute There Is Time

Posted on July 12, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

disturb the universe

One of the interesting things about having read so much literature is that snippets of poetry pop into my head at what seem like weird times.  I’ll be sweating in my car and Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” trickles into mind:

Water, water, every where,

Nor any drop to drink.

Or maybe I’ll be in a public bathroom and get a whiff of that lovely orange-scented “fragrance” and lines from Stevens’s “Sunday Morning” waft by:

Complacencies of the peignoir, and late

Coffee and oranges in a sunny chair

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been haunted by Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” one of my all time favorite poems:

In a minute there is time

For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

These lines fall upon me at what seem like odd times.  When I’m running. Biking. Staring at my training log tacked on the side of my fridge.

On Thursday morning I figured out what it is that’s been getting me, why Prufrock haunts me.  I stood staring again at my log. Just over 4 weeks until the Olympic distance tri I was sure I would enter.  Thursday.  I was supposed to swim. Instead, I drew a line through the day.  I looked over my plan.  Three more swim days Xed out.  Two strength-training days.

My upper body isn’t doing what it’s designed to do.  It’s supposed to be strong.  Lift things.  Move other, heavier things.  Like me. Through the water.  Nearly 3 months since a shoulder injury caused me to stop doing “normal” activities, I am still unable to resume them fully.  (I somehow suspect that when my doctor said go ahead and resume normal activities, his idea of “normal” was a bit different from mine.)

No Olympic distance tri for me, it seems. Not yet, anyway.

By Thursday afternoon I revised my goals. Lofty ones, maybe, but why not dream big?  San Antonio RnR half marathon in November—to qualify for the Houston marathon in January.  And, if I’m going to dream even bigger, why not see if in Houston I can qualify for Boston?

Who knows if I’ll qualify for anything, but it can’t hurt to aim high.  If I can’t swim, I might as well run.

At least that’s my plan.  For the minute.

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The Dark Side of a Morning Run

Posted on July 5, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

salado heron

My feet know the roads surrounding Salado, Texas, better than any other roads.  Having lived there four years, I ran them hundreds of times.  In the predawn hours, a world completely different from the one most residents see in broad daylight thrives beneath the stars and the moon.

When I lived in Salado, I could tell you where the doe threaded their way from the creek to their bedding field, followed closely by their fawns.  Two does bore twins each year, and I’d mark their monthly growth.  I stumbled across bucks one early morning, gathered in a semi-circle around two sparring for dominance. I heard antlers cracking hundreds of meters away before I caught sight of the proud assembly.

I could tell you which field was manned by hawks, adjacent to the stretch of road on which I did sprints.  Then there was Heron Pool, Woodpecker Corner, Skunk Alley, Camelback Hill—all places I named based on the animals that frequented them or the lay of the land.

So when I visited Salado for a couple of days early this week, my excitement swelled at the prospect of an early morning run.  I planned my route:  5 miles, from my mom’s house at the top of the hill, in a circle through the hawks’ territory and the sparring field, through downtown, and then an out-and-back past the old Salado cemetery before I tackled Skunk Alley and headed up the ½-mile hill back home.

I woke up minutes before my alarm, at 4:28 am, and was out the door by 5:10. I no sooner stepped into the yard than a deer snorted and nearly gave me a heart attack.  Even though there was a sliver of moon, the sky was too black to see much of anything beyond the looming shapes of trees.  I walked to the end of the cul-de-sac, waiting for my Garmin to find the Salado satellites, and quickly realized that Salado, like so many other towns, was hard up for cash.  None of the already sparse streetlights was lit.

I stood in the dark and stared at the stars and listened to the snorting taper off into the rustling leaves. It was dark, all right. None of the houses even emanated light.  I waited there at the crossroads until my eyes could adjust to the inky black.

Did I mention it was dark?  I paced down the road a bit, still waiting for the satellites, noting my amplified sense of hearing.  More leaves rustled, although there was no breeze, and goosebumps prickled my skin.

I get scolded frequently for running alone, in the dark:  Aren’t you afraid someone will jump you from behind a tree, drag you into a field?  There are so many crazy people in this world…

Crazy people don’t scare me.  I run with the awareness of a cat—which is why I don’t listen to music when I run.  I want to know what’s around me.  No, it’s not people or the possibility of being butchered in a field that triggers goosebumps.

It’s the old Salado cemetery.

Or, to be more exact, my imagination.

Most of the fiction I write has elements of horror, the supernatural.  I don’t need to watch horror movies (I shun them like the plague).  I have enough creepiness in my head to last nine lives.

So standing in the pitch black of pre-dawn waiting for the satellites, my skin rippling like the ocean before a storm, I got to thinking.  I haven’t lived in Salado for 2 ½ years. What do I know anymore?  It’s quite possible the deer have been domesticated like the Far Side cows and are hanging out in the newly cleared subdivision-to-be, a spotter calling “car” as the rest of the herd hide their newspapers and resume grass-chewing.  Maybe the hawks have retired to South America for good. It’s even feasible that Skunk Alley has succumbed to gang activity and I may very well get sprayed—or worse—this time through.

So, really, who needs 5 miles?

Especially past the old Salado cemetery, where the pre-Civil War gravestones jut from the earth like ruined fingers under the waning moon, bats flit and dip through the phantom-shaped shadows, and willow trees cast their weepy leaf-arms about like matted, tangled hair.

My 4-mile run was a peach.  The wind chimes big as organ pipes hung grandly from the house in the dip by the bend, and the kitty-cat mailbox painted in pastels stood welcoming and warm at the end of the cottage’s driveway.  My mom’s subdivision, at least, hasn’t changed much.

Who needs nature anyway?

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I Can Tri

Posted on June 21, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Image courtesy of Triathlon Gifts & Merchandise

On Saturday I am participating in the Gator Bait sprint tri.  My training log for this race has been posted on my fridge since early March. I included in my plan vacation time, other days I knew I’d need off. I included races I intended to run between then and now, extra weeks of training to focus on running.

Usually by now, the week going into a race, I’m a bit anxious. My mind is completely focused on the race. I’m visualizing the entire morning—from waking up before the alarm to getting ready, getting there, fidgeting at the start line, going the distance, and crossing the finish line with the hope of setting a PR.  I’ve checked my gear a million times. Put on my lucky necklace.

This time, however, it’s different.  I feel relaxed, at peace.  Although the race is certainly on my mind and I’m preparing, I’m not obsessing as usual.

I race and train for several reasons:

  1. It feels good.
  2. I’m a better writer when I run.
  3. Training promotes self-discipline.
  4. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment.
  5. My confidence increases when I push myself to do things I think I cannot do.
  6. If I can reach an unreachable goal here, in this area of my life, why can’t I do it anywhere?

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the training more than the races I’ve entered.  I get a supreme satisfaction when my training log progresses from empty to full, when there’s the least bit of improvement in my running, biking, or swimming.  I even enjoy it when I stop eating cookies and my body gradually changes.

Training is transformative.  Race day is not the culmination of training; it is the by-product.  It’s a goal I shoot for, but not the end in itself.  It’s one step on the road to becoming something more, something better; one more reminder of capability, as well as potential.  It’s a measure of ability in the moment.

If we are lucky, there will be another race.

Going into this race, I already know what’s next for me.  Two races–bigger races.  Two goals I have never been able to meet before.  One I have been too afraid to try.

That doesn’t mean I won’t enjoy the moment on race day tomorrow.  On the contrary, I think I am finally in a place where I can enjoy the race itself.

My training plan didn’t pan out as I expected.  I took a lot of time away from training to recover from illness, a car accident I am still feeling.  During this forced hiatus, I was surprised to find how often I’ve taken for granted my body, my ability to do the things I love.

So I’m approaching Saturday’s race with a new excitement, a peaceful satisfaction.  The joy I feel in doing this tri—not having been able to do anything for weeks—is that I can.

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When You’re Smiling, the Whole World Smiles with You

Posted on June 14, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Kids-Smile-3-300x198

If there’s one thing that bothers me it’s being ignored.  Not by my mom or siblings or friends, but by complete strangers.   It seems odd to me to pass another person and not make eye contact, whether I’m in a hallway, on the sidewalk, or in a grocery store.  I find it especially weird to not acknowledge someone when we are the only two people in sight.  Like, say, on a trail in the middle of a forest.

I try to be a friendly everywhere, even when I run.  I like to smile and say hello to everyone I encounter. On long runs, however, I may not always smile at passers-by. If you catch me in the last quarter or so of my run, you may get only a nod, a flick of the hand in your general direction.  Eye contact, for sure, but it may be the case that all the extra energy I have is expended by looking at you.

However, I rediscovered something during last weekend’s long run.  The power of a smile.  I don’t mean how a smile affects the recipient—at some point in my run I really don’t care. I just want to get the damn thing over with and get back to my car.  I mean the power a smile can have on your energy level.

I started my run a little later than usual last Saturday on a trail I haven’t run since February.  It was packed—alarmingly packed—with people of all persuasions:  Runners, walkers, bikers, stroller-pushers, dog-walkers, meanderers, and even kids on Big Wheels.

I found all these people to be a challenge.  On the one hand, I was happy they were there, particularly the runners.  My competitiveness piqued and I ran a little bit faster because of it.  On the other hand, there were so many people (dogs, bikes, walkers spread in a horizontal line across the trail—and even a startled deer) to dodge that I initially found it difficult to get into my own head space.

But once I was there, it was bliss. Thank God. The reason (one of many) I run.

Since it was later in the morning than dawn, the Texas sun was up and blazing.  Since it was later in the morning than I’m used to, I didn’t think to bring a hat or sunglasses.  I headed back to my car squinting into the sun, sweating profusely, and probably not quite the friendly runner I try to be.

Before long, my squint screwed into a scowl.  I didn’t really notice it, however, until a pack of people came into eyeshot, walking slowly toward me.  Somehow, I had been running a stretch of trail virtually alone. Just me and the cardinals and an errant mosquito or two.  Bliss. Thank God.  Another reason I run.

Because I had such a long stretch alone, I forgot about people, pulled into my head, and apparently twisted my face into a grimace.  When I passed this mob of walkers, I forced myself to make eye contact, and I smiled.

Incredibly, all the tension in my body melted away.   A simple smile loosened my facial muscles, which are connected to my neck muscles, which are connected to my shoulder muscles, then back, arms. You know the song.  It’s all connected, and like a ripple the tension throughout my body released.  I felt stronger, lighter, and faster.  In short, I hauled.

And then I remembered that I had heard this before from numerous sources:  We tend to clench our jaw, tighten our face when we’re stressed.  If we can remember to relax our face, our whole body loosens and we de-stress.  What better way to relax your face than to smile?

So I tested this theory for the rest of my run by making faces.  I must have scowled, grimaced, frowned, glowered, glared, smirked, and puckered, then alternately smiled, beamed, grinned, and glimmered.  It was amazing what a difference a simple expression could make in the whole experience of my run—my pace, gait, attitude, and posture improved remarkably.

I made it back to my car and walked around the park a bit, drinking water, cooling down.  Another group of walkers I vaguely remember passing must have parked there too, because they came back loudly, chatting it up.  Until they saw me.  They stopped, quieted down, and gave me a wide berth.  I guess I had forgotten to pay attention to passers-by mid-experiment.

I made a point of walking by them as I left.  I smiled, Chesire cat-like, and nodded.  They averted their eyes nervously, as if I wasn’t there.  For once, I didn’t mind being ignored.

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You Can Always Go Home

Posted on June 7, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Norman the Bike Riding Dog

Sundays are bike + run days.  I ride for time or distance, then follow it with a run, adjust to the jarring transition from legs churning like a windmill to legs thick and heavy like sacks of water balloons tight and full and ready to pop.

My sprint tri is in two weeks.  Even though I fell way behind in my training, spent three weeks doing nothing, then two more unable to swim or strength train, I’m getting less anxious.  It feels good to be back on my training schedule. I simply do what I can, as hard as I can, each day.

On Sunday I rode my long route for the first time since last summer.  I debated taking this route until the final minute, when the last option to turn whizzed by.  I hadn’t even driven down this road in weeks, so I didn’t know what shape it was in. For a long time, the westbound lane was under construction, the shoulder ripped to shreds.

If the road gets too bad, I thought as I headed east, I can always turn around and go home.

Biking for me is different from running.  My head gets lazy when I bike.  My thoughts drift off and leave my body to fend for itself.  As a result, my legs sometimes forget that I can pull the pedals up as hard as I can push them down, and I slow down.  I have to remind myself frequently what proper biking technique should feel like.

So on Sunday, I’m dawdling down the road, coasting up and down the hills like I’m on some pleasant carnival ride, scanning the pavement for smushed walking sticks (they grow to the size of hot dogs in Texas—apparently everything is bigger here), and I forget to pay attention to the westbound lane.  Ten miles out at the bottom of a hill I realize I have no idea if I can get home.

For a moment, I panic.  It’s later in the morning than I usually ride, and there is more traffic.  The last thing I want to do is ride a narrow shoulder into traffic for the ten miles home.

Isn’t that life, I think.  We get so focused on traveling in one direction that we forget to plan for correction, just in case.  And before we know it, we’re so far gone that we fear we can never go back the same way again, that maybe we can’t go home.

But here’s the thing.  With experience, you learn that you can.  Sometimes you adapt, sometimes you simply get lucky.  Sometimes the ride is smooth, other times you have to get off and walk in another direction.  There is always, however, a way, and if you have faith, you’ll find it.

I got lucky and made it home, bike and tires intact. But I found one more thing I forgot to take into account.  I live on the fringe of Texas Hill Country, where the ripple effect of the land tapers off into rolling waves, and the road I traveled was more roller-coaster-like than I remembered. Even though it’s been a few days, my legs can’t seem to forget.

This Sunday, I think I’ll take the same route.  Keep my head in the ride this time, give my quads a break.  I know what to expect of the road, at least ten miles out.  But this time I think I’ll go farther, see what’s over that hill.

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Where Do We Find Courage?

Posted on May 31, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The-Thing-You-Cannot-Do

“I really like to run,” the woman at my elbow was saying.  I was only half listening.  The 3rd Annual Girls on the Run Cupcake 5K Fun Run, our annual fundraiser sponsored by Kate’s Frosting, was about to begin and we were gathered at the start line.

Was everyone here? Did they know where the start line began? Was the water stop ready?  Was it 8:00 yet? My attention was divided between too many things to listen adequately.

“I really want her to like running,” the woman nodded toward her 10-ish daughter who was pacing the curb, drawing a line on the pavement with her toe, “as much as I do.”

“Yes,” I murmured, still distracted.  Kate was setting up the tower of cupcakes at the finish line.

“You know I’ve run 14 marathons,” she said nonchalantly, as if she declared she’d eaten 14 cupcakes instead.

For perhaps the first time during our conversation, I looked straight at her.  She was shorter than me, the top of her head reaching maybe my chin.  Not muscular or runner thin.  Plump, to be precise.

I closed my gaping mouth before a fly landed in it, acutely aware and somewhat ashamed that—blink—just like that I had made a judgment about this woman and her ability or propensity to run. Unconsciously, I had observed and assessed her.  She didn’t look like a runner—whatever that means—to me.

Two seconds, Malcolm Gladwell contends, is all it takes for us to decide.  In the blink of an eye we make up our minds about what something—or someone—is or is not.

Fourteen marathons.  Four. Teen.  Never in a million years would I have guessed.  I must have looked as surprised as I felt because she smiled wryly and nodded.  “I’ve done a half Ironman too.”

“No way!” I blurted, no longer able to contain what by now had become excitement.

When I closed my gaping mouth I fortunately opened my mind.  Standing here in front of me was true inspiration.  If she could do these things, then why couldn’t I?

It’s been in the back of my mind for years that maybe one day I could do a half Ironman.  Maybe start with an Olympic distance tri.  I’ve still never run a marathon.  Trained for 2, but stopped by injury.  What was I waiting for to try again?

Inspiration.  Courage.

I have had neither, and didn’t even realize it until I met the marathon woman.  I haven’t lived up to the message that’s been posted on my refrigerator since January 15, 2009, the date on the tattered calendar square that states:

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

–          Anaïs Nin

This square of paper has stared me in the face for four years in two different homes. The message travels with me, so that I don’t forget it. Some days I stop as I’m rummaging through the fridge and read it.  Other days I don’t see it at all, hanging amid the Mickey Mouse and bluebonnet magnets.

For the past 3+ weeks, however, I have seen it. Read it anew.  Each time, I think of this woman and her fourteen marathons, her half Ironman, and I see my own possibilities expand.

I am excited to try something new.  And when I think about this woman, I remember her daughter tight-rope-walking the curb and think what a lucky girl, to have a mom who can show her so many things.

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(Just Like) Starting Over

Posted on May 17, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Starting over

I’ve never been crazy about John Lennon’s music outside of the Beatles.  One song in particular (not coincidentally, the title of this post) drives me batty.  This is the song that wormed its way from out of nowhere and into my brain on Monday morning.

After 3 weeks of inactivity, I’ve been eager to jump back into my training schedule. I have a sprint tri coming up in a few weeks, and I’m a bit anxious that I’ve had so much down time.  I figured I’d ease back into training this week by starting small.

Monday:              Run 2.5 miles

I didn’t expect it to feel like a stroll through the garden, but I also didn’t expect to have to consciously remind myself how to run.  I had to coach myself through the first mile.

Keep your chin up. Relax your shoulders. Use your arms to propel you. Lean from your ankles, not your waist.  Point your right toe out more and take a longer step with your left. No, you’re not spontaneously combusting.  Those are your lungs.

Here’s the good news.  I only planned to run 2 miles, but at my intended stopping point I was at 2.37.  The voice that pushes me just a little farther piped up:  2.37?  Well that’s a crazy, uneven number. Go to 2.5.

So I did.

Tuesday:              Run 3 miles

Since I felt good by the end of Monday’s run, I thought I’d go out for a 4 miler, my usual weekday run.  I was surprised to find that the first half mile hurt even worse than the day before.  By the end of mile 1, I knew it was not a 4-mile day.  I was happy to get in 3.

Wednesday:      Swim 30 minutes

Nearly a month since I’d been in a pool.  I was nervous.  I stalled for an extra half hour before I left my house.  Made the bed.  Fiddled with some papers, yesterday’s mail.

I decided to do a few warm-up laps with the kickboard. Remind myself what an arrow feels like; to kick from my hips, not my knees.  I stretched out, face down, and pushed the kickboard out in front of me.  Pain spiked my shoulder.  My doctor gave me the go-ahead to swim and weight lift just the day before, so I ignored the pain, kept going.

I managed 20 laps—ecstatic at the end.  Ice packs are my friend.

Thursday:            Run 4 miles

Within just a few dozen yards, I was in my Running Head Zone (RHZ)—minus John Lennon.  My body only intruded a couple of times—upon approaching mile 1.5 when I realized where I was and thought maybe I should turn around, make it a 3-miler.  By the time I got there I forgot and kept going.  But the last 1/3 mile was all body.  Fortunately, my working parts are working, muscles and joints intact.  My lungs protested.

Friday:                  Rest day

I have to admit, I’m struggling with this. Fridays are rest days; on weekends I push myself hard.  But I feel like I haven’t done enough to warrant a rest.

Nevertheless, I’m sticking with it, especially after my doctor’s scolding on Thursday (When you feel pain, you have to stop! Oh.) and my still-throbbing shoulder.

My friend Stephanie, who happens to be a running coach, tells me that when people train year round, their bodies need a two week break at some point to rejuvenate.  Two weeks seem like a long time to me.  Three seem like eternity.

Fortunately, we have muscle memory and it doesn’t take long for our bodies to remember what they’re supposed to do.  Even better, we have the RHZ, the space that obliterates pain and discomfort, allowing our bodies the liberty to move.

Tomorrow will undoubtedly be a better day.  Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get in 6 before my lungs implode.  And at least I’ve left John Lennon behind.

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I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike

Posted on March 29, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

stock-footage-little-girl-on-bike

It’s springtime in central Texas.  The mountain laurel has bloomed, saturating the air with its grape soda smell. Bluebonnets blanket hills and highway medians.  We hit a record 95° high last week, only to be followed by nights dipping into the 30s this week.  Definitely spring in Texas.

My neighbors are elbow-deep into spring cleaning.  There’s pruning and mowing and aerating outside.  Carpet cleaning, closet organizing, and decluttering inside.  Garage sales blossom like prickly pears.

My spring cleaning isn’t quite like theirs.  I dust off only two things:  My bicycle and Queen.

Not Queen Elizabeth II, or even Queen Latifah.  You know, Queen.  You probably recognize the bleacher stomping at most sports events. We Will Rock You.  That Queen.

A few days ago, I broke out my bike. Wheeled it out of the garage, pumped up its flat tires, wiped off cobwebs and last year’s tri sticker, oiled and polished it to a sheen.

I haven’t been on it since last year’s tri.

This year’s tri is coming soon enough, and I have a new goal.  I need to finish it in better time than last year.  I need to make it up the monster bike hill without the momentary standing still on the steepest grade, the rolling slightly backward.

I need to ride.  More than that, I want to.

And so Queen will be my closest companion on early Sunday mornings from here on out, Bicycle Race on continuous loop on the iPod in my head.

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride it where I like

Spring cleaning?  Nothing to it.  Just me and my bike.

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