Tuesday, April 28, 2009


First off - Yay for sleep!!! I slept over 11 hours, had two semi-conversations/mutterings with Paul, and turned off my alarm in my sleep Tuesday night - and I SLEPT! :) It makes a world of difference. Finally been getting some real sleep - which is awesome.

So the title of this post is !!!MINE!!! and that's because I've been saving since Januaryish for a road bike. I saved up roughly 500, and promptly spent it on Iri, my dual suspension mountain bike. I had some major doctor/medicine bills with my thyroid being all weird, which resulted in no savings, and now its almost May and Andrew's taking the road bike I'm riding back in the beginning of August. As much as I'm completely totally grateful for him loaning me the Kona, I WANT my own bike. So I decided to say screw it and go on this focused bonanza to get enough money to get my bike. Which I should have on the inside in 15 days and on the outside 30 days. I finally applied for the social security benefits from Rich's death which will come in 15-30 days. I sold my Chrome bag that I didn't use and SouthPark Seasons so I'm now up to $440. I'm selling his amp and his two left handed electric guitars. I can maybe sell the Windows Server 2008 Exam Training Materials he bought and never used and he Monty Python box set that I've never watched and possibly my old hybrid bike which will bring it up to MY VERY OWN Kona Jake. Soon. Very soon......I totally can't wait.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Sleep Deprivation


Last couple of weeks I've been off-and-on again having problems with sleeping. As in lying in bed for hours and ?maybe? getting a few hours of sleep in between tossing and turning or staring blankly at the ceiling thinking how nice it would be to be asleep. Last night totally sucked. I tried sleeping in a handful of different ways in three different places, and still spent the majority of the night beneath the blankets, hugging my teddy bear, wishing I could sleep.

At this point I'm all dreamy stupid with sleep deprivation. I'm waiting another 30 minutes to guarantee I'm REALLY EXHAUSTED before going to bed, because I really don't want to wake up at 2:30 am wishing I would have waiting a few more hours before surrendering to the tiredness.

Anyway, there's no real point to this post except to say sleep deprivation totally sucks, although it brings on interesting brain thought patterns and changes in your mental process (like the inability to spell) :)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Past Week

So it's been over a week since I've posted. I'm a slacker.

Last Friday the 17th... So I got the Kona back after the crank arm fell off and on a ride with Andrew I noticed my left pedal felt weird. I stopped and ONCE AGAIN - the crank arm was falling off. I was super pissed. I took it to Second Ascent, which is a bike/climbing/ski shop near where I live and they fixed it right up (for free) and I just have to say - THEY ROCK. Recycled Cycles sucks - which was the bike shop that SHOULD have fixed it in the first place. So I headed home and said screw it.

Saturday ... was nice. I had a friend who had worked at CollinsWoerman over for dinner. It was a down home type dinner with two types of pot pie. One was a double mushroom and triple onion pot pie simmered in a red wine broth that was excellent and the other was an italian sausage, carrot, celery, mushroom, onion, mix. We had a layered pudding that rocked the casbah for desert, and lots of wine. Oh yeah - I LOVE wine.

Sunday ...I spent the day with Paul riding. I was BOOKING IT!! Going 17-20 mph pretty much the entire way, it was AWESOME! It feels good to be able to rock it out now. Unfortunately, I ate before riding back and had an upset stomach - I really can't eat and then ride. I came home and crashed out and then did a massive overload of dish washing from the night before prior to going out for sushi for the first time (for real). Sushi is really interesting. I didn't like the sea urchin at all - the texture was really weird (and it looked like brains). The eel was yummy, and I found that raw fish have a very delicate flavor. Wasabi is awesome and sake is dangerously delicious! I'm going to have to go a couple more times before I decide whether I relaly like it or not. Plus, I realized a cosmopolitan life style in the city is good, is wonderful, is amazing. I'm so happy I left Kansas and came to where I belong.

Monday ... I felt like I was all done healing in terms of my ribs and neck. The area on my leg where I took a chunk out of myself with the crank was still giving me problems, but the worst was over. Beautiful days were here for sure, the sun was shining and I wanted to be outside!!! I realized I was also changing my thinking about my workouts. The last 2 months (thyroid problems, sinus infection, and rib issues) showed me that balance between the bike and life is needed. Basically if I have a choice between spending a summer day writing while having coffee with Paul and "training" = training takes back seat. Then again, my outlook constantly changes about - well - most everything.

Wednesday the 22nd ... was admin day. We get flowers at work, (sarcastic)...woo.hoo. However, I really was pleasantly surprised - the team I'm on got me flowers and cupcakes AND a giftcard for over $120 to a spa nearby - YAY! Plus, my "mentor" gave me flowers too - so now my desk looks like a floral shop :) I love flowers.

I also "raced" - which completely utterly sucked. I found out then that my ribs weren't healed (or that they were healed unless I pushed my body to it's outer limits, flew it off of rolling dirt bumps, threw it down a rocky tree-root riddled track, then strained it getting up really evil short hills.) My neck was shot and bike wasn't set up right so my lower back was thrashed. Oh yeah - and weird feeling called "fear" entered into my mind as I looked down a 10' or so drop that was at a very severe angle and ended into a sand trap to immediately do a 180 turn. I did it and everything else that made me frightened (this would hurt if I wiped out... there's a thorn bush that would tear me up, I bet that tree is very solid, that's a long ways down, blah blah blah). I did them simply because they scared me, but I wasn't really expecting that to be such a large part of my mentality. Fear is only useful if it doesn't get in the way. It was going bearable until the douchebags who lapped me started screaming that "We're RACING" - yelling for us to get off the course (me and the sport class people pre-riding). I yelled at them I was racing too.... just not very well.

That was the last straw - I was in a lot of pain (lower back especially), my ribs and neck hurt, and all these weren't normal race agony, they were sharp "PAY ATTENTION TO ME" pain. Not something that's totally wise to "play through." so I came to the next open area that I could ditch and rode back to the truck. I did about 2 1/4 laps. We were supposed to do 3. I really didn't care at that point. All I could think of afterwards was "Why in the hell do I do this?" I'm still wondering about that. But after taking this upcoming week off, I'll go back and do it again the Wednesday after that....You definitely have to be a little masochistic to do this to your body over and over again.

Friday the 24th started out crappy and ended up really fun. I had a icky boring day at work and ended up breaking the valve on my back tire taking it down from the bike rack at work. After some indecision/discussion about whether I could put the bike on the bus or fix it at work I fixed the tire and busted butt going home. I typically do my commute in 40-45 minutes, and my fastest time so far was 32 or 31 minutes. Going home on Friday in rush hour traffic I made it in 27 minutes. (insert excited expression here)!!!!!!!! That's AWESOME. It felt really great (well, I was sore the next day and it was really hard when I did it, but I felt great nevertheless).

So I was totally psyched going into the rest of the evening. Paul and I went to a book reading about dive bars at Abraxus http://www.abraxusbooks.com/page.php?inc=dive_bars and ended up doing a dive bar drinking bonanza with the rest of the people afterwards. It was really fun. I drank enough, but not too much, which was perfect. Ended up going out for breakfast the next day, reading, writing, generally having a really chill and nice weekend together with Paul.

So besides the fact I've been fighting insomnia for the past two weeks or so, I'm doing pretty good. I'm happy it's summer and I'm reading some really great books about neurology and consciousness. I'm making good delicious food (baked potato soup and some coconut macaroons today). I'm happy, even through I'm a little sleep-deprived.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Happy Days are Here Again

Woo - Hoo!

The increasingly grumpy Amanda morphed into a really content Amanda yesterday afternoon and a super bouncy happy go lucky humming joyfilled Amanda this morning. All this happy started when I picked up the rear wheel for my road bike yesterday after work. Who would have thought my unhappy state could be resolved between 1. getting my road bike back up and running and spending some time on the bike (not in pain) 2. spending some quality time with the guy I love.

It's amazing how different I am grumpy vs. happy. I have an appetite again, I had a beer last night (I don't like drinking when I'm grumpy), I'm not growling at passerby's in my head...now I'm humming bap-de-boop-doop all day. Everything looks brighter and more awesome.

And I'm in LOVE with my new rear wheel/tire. Andrew's fast road bike's rear hub had issues, so he snagged the one on the Kona and I got his Lemond's rear wheel/racing tire after it was fixed. Oh My! Delicious delectable beauteous happy happy joy joy feelings overwhelmed me when I put the new rear wheel on the bike and went for quick 6 mile ride yesterday. It's fast and quick and corners well - it's like floating on lighting - and has amazing traction and I SWEAR my avg. milage has gone up 1 if not 2 mph. I was booking along at 16 mph all yesterday and most of this morning. In fact, I passed people going UP Dexter Hill this morning. :) It was awesome.

I'm looking forward to this weekend too. A friend of mine I haven't seen in a while is coming over for dinner on Saturday night. Sunday I'm going for a long ride with Paul and Susan (maybe). It's supposed to be "mostly sunny" on Sunday with a high of 67 degrees. That's a heat wave! That's beautiful! That's definitely long ride weather :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Days that kind of suck.

Today is one of those days that just don't feel right, that don't start off right, and isn't progressing right.

I had an unrestfull night of sleep (more on that later) and woke up hating everything I put on and went through about 7 outfits before deciding I didn't have time to mess around and needed to rush to get to the bus in order to make it to work early.

I'm unusually sensitive emotionally, my thought process broken and I have a headache that's not gone away.

Oh, and evil weird dreams that plagued me through last night. I dreamt last night of traffic whizzing by me and being lost on my bike, trying to climb up hills that were impossible, to look back and see it didn't even qualify as a gentle slope. At the top of the cliff like hill that wasn't even a bump in the road the area turned into a dirty, sad, broken down area where a mother and son were dirt encrusted, hanging onto the edges of society. To make money they took old things and fixed them up, but the mother was kidnapped and held ransom at knife point because the thieves believed the family was wealthy. The thieves didn't believe the mother/son duo were poor because the items they had collected and fixed up looked valuable. It deescalated and resolved with the statement that "If you wait long enough, old crappy things eventually look valuable".

Then the mother and ungrateful "bad" son got into a horrible fight. The mother was screaming that her son was an ungrateful wretch and he attacked her with a knife and a power drill. Failing to cause her demise, she attacked him and they ended up in a tangled bloody mass. Between the mother fighting and beating the son he had the power drill bore through his open mouth into the back of his head for what felt like hours. Disgusted and despondent, he flung himself into the nearest suicide option by jumping into an empty well, but didn't quite succeed. The mother, horrified at what she had caused, leaped down after him but for some reason continued fighting him - and they ended up broken limbed, hole ridden, and bloody at the bottom of the well. During this entire scene, I had morphed into and out of the personas of both the mother and the son and got the lovely experience of ended up spending most of the night feeling like I was being either cruelly bound, having a knife at my throat, drilled into with a power tool, or broken at the bottom of a well. Not a particularly restfull night.

Work is also extremely slow lately, which leads me to work on more administrative, archiving, and standards creation items. Not the same as real project work. Often I'm left wondering how I'm going to fill up the rest of the afternoon. I'm doing all I can to end up on another project though. It's just slow going.

On an up note, my ribs don't hurt quite as much as before and my forearms have stopped weeping. Weeping wounds....I totally love the English language, the structures words have, the way words roll off your tongue, and how some phrases are translatable into different aspects of your life.

Weeping Wounds
Toxicity brought up through
ragged raw bleeding screaming patches -
disgusting painful pieces where
life isn't as it once was.
Pushing the pain
up from depths not yet imagined
my wounds weep,
a process that cannot be foregone,
a necessity for new life to come.
Harbor the hope
that the scarring will be minimal.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I like Bob

After spending yet another day with chest pain, and bailing out on work early because of it, my boss insisted I go see the doctor. Since the rib/chest/stomach pain had only been increasing since Tuesday I relented and called my family doc, who promptly told me to go to the ER. I have insurance with Group Health, so called their closest hospital to see what I needed to do/where I needed to go so as to have the cheapest and easiest way to get checked out. After an hour of waiting for a phone call that never came, I called them back again and was told to go to the Urgent Care Group Health Center in Capitol Hill.

Andrew had originally planned that morning of coming over to pick up a bike part after I got home. When he heard I was going to the ER he refused to let me take the bus and insisted he drive me there, wait for me, and drive me back. There are times I feel truly blessed by the friends I have.

So we went to the ER and after the whole signing in, going through the "on a scale of 1 to 10 how much pain are you in" business, I was stuck in a room, waited around forever, and eventually saw a doctor who after a fair amount of poking and prodding, proclaimed my road rash not infected said I had just sprained my ribcage - which I was thrilled about.

Since the massive amounts of Advil I had been taking were doing little to dull the pain, they gave me a Vicodin. I've not taken a heavy duty pain killer before and let me just say its....... very effective and has a very interesting response in my body. I ended up chattering Andrew's ear off on the ride home mainly due to the fact my internal monologue was nonexistent. There were lots of statements like - "What a cute puppy!" and "I like cheese." :) It makes the pain a faint bass line underneath this wonderfully intricate, distracting melody. From feeling the effects of it wearing off this evening I can definitely say it makes this whole thing MUCH easier to deal with, and helps A LOT.

But back to the hospital - after being given the Vicodin, an attendant named Bob came in to clean out my road rash and apply a silver-thingy paste to it and wrap it up. By the time Bob was cleaning out my wound the Vicodin kicked in and I was aware that the cleaning procedures he did, squirting this saline solution in the wound and blotting/wiping off the excess stuff, was really kinda painful, but then I got all distracted by the really pretty clouds in the bright blue sky. I actually had a great conversation with him and he was a great attendant.

After spending a 7 month mark dinner together with Paul, I'm feeling so much better. Food, significantly less pain, and not dreading the workday pain totally makes me a happier person!

And on a total bonus note, being on the bike isn't going to diminish my body's ability to heal. So after I get the wheel fixed for the Kona it's going to be lots of easy longish rides for me. Andrew's racing this weekend at a real race (I'm going as a cheerleader). Hopefully I'll have some great pictures from it.

Totally awesome favorite picture ever I took last weekend.
I had to share.

Bruises and Scrapes

Ok, so I posted on Monday that learning how to do moving mounts/dismounts was the first time I broke skin on my bike. I apparently loved doing that so much I went above and beyond on Tuesday.

Andrew and I went to South Sea-Tac trails to have fun and get some training in before the race on Wednesday. We played on the trails for a bit, then I practiced lofting my front wheel, which is really difficult. My wrist started to hurt a little, so I thought, "Ooh! There's that awesome dirt jump field I could go play in."

I trundled off to the dirt jump field and took a look around. I want to make a point of saying that there were jumps 3-5 feet tall with 3-5 feet drop offs and I thought....hrm. Those look a little advanced. So I scoped out the areas and picked a little mound, 1/2 the size of some of the ones I've done, with no drop off after it and a nice swooping down afterwards. I got up some speed and hit the jump....maybe going 10-15 miles per hour....and the next thing I know I'm belly sliding 10-15 feet. Even at the point of impact, I'm laughing in my head as I see my bike flying over me and landing another 5 feet in front of me.

I have no idea what happened to cause my wipe out. The only thing I can think of is that I didn't hold on to my bike.

The end result is some road rash on my forearms, which is the worse abrasiveness. I have some minor scratches/bruises on my lower stomach and upper thighs and some developing bruises on my lower legs. The worst of it, though, is the buised torso/ribs. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to laugh. It hurts. Period. And when the pain reliever wears off, it's not good. That and I think I've got some minor whiplash from my neck snapping backward. Again, once the pain reliever wears off, it hurts to turn my neck or move. The mild throbbing turns into acute pain. So I guess the end result is a first hand knowledge that wiping out hurts. However, it could have been MUCH worse. Basically I'm a little scraped up and a sore/bruised in places. Nothing's broken, no concusion, I could have cracked some ribs, and my bike is perfectly fine.

In my infinite wisdom (ha!) I decided I still wanted to try racing the next day. Throughout the course of Wednesday at work my ribs became more and more sore and the road rash less and less of a concern. I met Andrew at his place and we went out to the field. I pre-rode the course and ended up realizing how much pain I was in. I decided I'd race, but bail if it got to be really bad....and now I'm wondering what "really bad" means to me.

Anyway, there were a bunch of people in the beginner class and we all took off. I purposefully positioned myself in the back of the pack because I knew I was not going to be fast. I followed the last rider entering the course, but there was mass confusion as the start of the course wasn't laid out. People were milling around, turning back, and then branching off in several different directions. I ended up going back to the start and then telling Andrew I was bailing. The bruised ribs equal continual nausea and I was feeling like dirty nasty poop on a stick that had been put through a blender and then run over.

I ended up taking lots of pictures, riding around some more (SLOWLY), going to the dirt jump field to try to figure out what the hell went wrong, and chatting up some other girls that were there - ended up learning some really valuable knowledge about climbing from one of them. End of the night resulted in the pain medication wearing off and me being in a lot of pain.

I'm not sure how my training is going to be for the next few days or if I'll be able to race next Wednesday. Running's out of the question, as it's too much impact on my ribs and so is weight lifting. Biking is okay, but I have to go really slow and even that results in increased nausea, so I'm not sure what I'll be doing. All I really want to do right now is lay down. Paul's going on a mini-vacataion to San Fransisco to see a friend and have lunch with his parents, so I'll have the weekend to myself. Originally that was going to result with a lot of time spent on the bike. Now I'm rethinking that and considering spending the time writing at coffee shops.

Lance Armstrong:

"Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

"If you're worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on."

Monday, April 6, 2009

YAY for Spring....and learning...

(taken from my 40 mile ride on Saturday....I love fields of daises!)
It makes me so happy to see all this beautiful sunshine and flowers and hear the birds chirping after the insane rain-gray-cold-rain-rain-MORE GRAY that has been dominating the weather here for the last (what feels like) forever.  It's like someone flipped a switch and it's all sunny and pretty and warm outside.  If it weren't for trying to keep up a training schedule where I need to take days off the bike, someone would have to take a pry bar between Damian and I to separate us.  

And HERE'S DAMIAN!  Isn't he pretty!!

I also learned a lot today - I worked out a training schedule and worked on doing a moving mount and dismount on my bike.  It's hard and will take lots of practice, but if I start now, I figure I'll only face plant a couple of times when the cyclocross season starts in September/October.  

Learning is hard :)  I had to laugh when I noticed something stuck in the brake caliper device and realized it was a small chunk from my leg.  It's the first time I've broken skin on my bike, other than some tiny scratches mountain biking.  

p.s. I've known for a while now that I'd need to quit smoking if I wanted to race competitively and after last Wednesday I was made *painfully* aware that smoking and racing = stupidity.  So tonight I will have finished the pack I'm on and I'll be two days of healthy lungs in when I race on Wednesday.  

PIctures of my Race

Andrew took pictures of my race, I'm the one in the pink shirt, black pants, muddy shoes, looking beat up :)

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Brand New World

I've been wanting to post since Wednesday, but...um....I've been busy :) Be forewarned, this is a long one.

Through Andrew and other girls at the races Andrew went to I had heard about the Wednesday night mountain bike races that were going on and I told Andrew/Paul on March 21st at Andrew's first race that - "What the hell! I'll race mountain bikes on the Wednesday races." I'd been mountain biking a few times (maybe 2 or 3 at that point). A month after I first experience mountain biking (which is a lot more difficult than road biking) and I decide I want to start racing. There are times I wonder what gets into me.

It turned out Andrew had to work on the first Wednesday night race so that meant no ride out past Sea-Tac, which meant no racing. I tried to find a ride, asking a couple of people and posted on a couple of forums, but no luck, so I was happy to go be picking up Damian after work after a week him being in the shop. After being in some meetings at work on Wednesday, I see an e-mail from Andrew at around 3:40 that he had a break in work, so he could take me out to the race - he couldn't race, but he would root me on.

I stalled and gave excuses. I was nowhere near mentally prepared to race. The word race even rolled off the tongue too fast for me. The actual thought of - Me. On my bike. Against people who were fast. - I was nowhere near ready physically or mentally - period. Not Ready. Andrew, for all his irritating insistence really is a positive influence in my life - he e-mailed me back when I threw silly excuses at him about dirty clothes and me not spending enough time on the bike recently. I think it's beautiful and motivating -

"I had a dance teacher who dismissed the idea of not being "in shape."...The shape we were in that day was the shape we were in, and it was never the wrong time to accept corrections and try to make improvements. I think racing is very similar. Everything can be analyzed to within an inch of its life before and after. But during the race, the only thing that matters is racing with one's whole heart. You're in more than adequate shape to do that, and everything else is just detail. ...So you should let me give you a ride to the race, go as hard and as fast as you can, and then you can figure out about stuff like time spent on the bike and clean cycling pants and sleep."

So I went.

I've not been nervous, in, well, what feels like eons. I left work, running to get on a bus and hurry home to quickly change because we were *just* going to have time to make it. I was shaking the entire way home. I couldn't think. I got changed/packed/out the door in under 6 minutes while Andrew put the bike in the truck and we left. On the way there, I thought - what do I have to be nervous about? I knew I was going to DFL - come in dead last. That didn't bother me - I knew I wasn't going to be physically up to competitively racing. It made me happy to think that even if I went every single week and always finished a lap behind everyone else, I would go. I would be that person who would try over and over again, even if they have no chance to win, because it would be good for me. I wasn't worried about hurting myself, or quitting, or wimping out.

I was afraid of disappointing Andrew, or having a lack of support after I finished. Once I realized that, I wasn't nervous anymore. I would like it, or I would hate it, I would suck, or I would do ok. But he wouldn't be disappointed and the support he has given me through this is really stellar.

We get there about 4 minutes before the start was going. It was super chaotic and they held the race for me. I didn't know how many laps I was supposed to do, or what the course was like, or anything. I heard a guy behind me say we were doing 2 laps, so I planned on holding back for the 1st lap and going as hard as I could the 2nd lap.

Racing is unlike anything anyone can ever describe. You won't know what it's like unless you do it. Saying it's hard is beyond an understatement. It was perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done with my body. Ever. It was really emotionally trying for me. It was mentally taxing and nerve wracking and at the end I felt simultaneously like throwing up, like I was going to collapse, and that midgets had been beating me with thick little sticks.

I can't wait to do it again.

The course itself was awesome, some really cool technical stuff, some great descents, mud and in a really varied beautiful area. There was also some really hard parts - some really crappy sand tracks up up up some hills, some mud that got progressively worse with each lap - I definitely ate my daily dose of minerals from the dirt that was flung into my open panting mouth, and there were some painful switchbacks I'm not very good at.

I held back the first lap, and about 1/4 of the way through the few people that were behind me I let pass because we were coming up on a hill and I wasn't going to be a jerk and screw up other people's race - I knew I was going to be the last. I was doing really good the first lap - the lactic acid hadn't started building up, I was going pretty fast for me and I was breathing in my "I'm still functioning well and okay" stage. The 2nd lap was brutal. I pushed myself too hard because I thought it was the end and barely was able to get to the finish.

At which point I realized there were no mud splattered people waiting around.....so I looked around, confused, and sought an administrator and asked if the beginners were doing 2 or 3 laps, to which he replied, "No - they do 4." I'm sure a mixture of consternation and weariness must have planted itself firmly on my face. He asked me "Do you just want to stop?" I just looked at him and said "Well, no. I'll finish" and then went on to my 3rd lap.

At which point I could barely see anything at all - it was raining and my glasses were mud splattered, fogged up completely from my heaving breath. I would consciously have to think about breathing regularly. My legs were burning, lactic acid eating me up from the inside out. The rocks and roots and tree branches over the trail were sending painful jolts through my body - even though Iri was SUPER cushy and a dual suspension. My brain was not functioning. I had a hard time keeping the bike upright and I was in no way a smooth operator on my bike at this point.

I had enough thought process to recognize I was a lap behind everyone and I would have to bust it out to finish anytime remotely in the vicinity of my own group, because the sport people were starting after us. It didn't look like it was going to happen. I went as hard as I could and fought against whiny despair ladened thoughts - "this is so hard, I'm already behind, I'll never catch up" Thoughts I wasn't expecting at all. Within a few moments of their beginning I thought only that - "There is a trail in front of you. Push the pedals as fast as you can. There is no finish. There is no 3/4 or 1/2 or 1/4 of a lap left. There is only this small stretch of dirt and rock and sand to push through. Go. Go fast. Go hard as you can." After that there was no thoughts. There was my feet on the pedals and my ragged strangled breath, and my aching arms helping me along.

I finished. I did 3 laps to everyone else's 4. I was quite a ways behind them. But I finished.

And I can't wait to do it again.