We Arrived Alive!

Shelly and I at the end of our last organized century ride. Despite the our laughter, this really wasn’t fun at all. Don’t let the picture fool you. I was probably crying just moments before this was taken.

I’m still on summer break, and I promise new articles coming soon.  In the meantime, here’s a little update on my summer adventures.  Some of you know last year my friend Shelly and I were in a bad bike crash.  A piece of wood took us down and we sported the latest and greatest in slings and casts for the rest of the summer.  Another nifty souvenir from that fall was a newfound fear of cycling.  “Fear” isn’t a strong enough word.  Let’s try “terror.”  We’ve ridden a few times since that fall, mostly on a paved path designated for bikes and pedestrians only.  In other words, no traffic.  Our longest ride was around 40 miles, but it wasn’t about mileage.  Those rides were about conquering our fears.  Well, guess what.  We didn’t.  That’s right.  We didn’t.  We are still scared.  Terrified, even.

Wait.  Isn’t this story supposed to be about getting back in the saddle (pardon the pun), conquering our fears and coming out the other side better for it?  Yeah, real life doesn’t follow a script.

Last Saturday Shelly and I and our other cycling friend Lisa drove to Idaho to ride in our first organized ride since the crash.  We rode the Goldilocks Century in Nampa, Idaho.  We chose it for it’s fairly flat course, beautiful scenery, good support, and really good sandwiches.  Because of near 105 degree temps (but mostly because I’m scared) we opted out of the usual 100-mile distance we usually do and chose to ride the 80-mile route.

I was literally shaking when we started.  It didn’t help that as we waited at the start line, we heard two cars skid and collide in the intersection just feet away.  Twenty-five miles in we were met with a steep downhill, 12% grade, with a right turn at the bottom.  I’d rather climb than descend and I said more prayers on the way down that hill than I’ve said in a year.  The nerves dissipated a bit after the halfway mark, but I don’t think there was ever a moment I felt 100% comfortable.  In fact, I doubt I ever will again.

Me, Lisa, and Shelly at the end of this year’s 80-mile adventure. All bones, ligaments and tendons in tact. And smiles, too!

So what’s the point of this cheerful update?  I was scared, but I rode anyway.  Doing things that truly frighten us is the very definition of courage and I’m owning it today.  We were all scared at one point or another, but our seats didn’t leave the saddle until we crossed the finish line.

What’s next?  I don’t know.  Will I do another organized ride?  If you’d asked me Saturday, my answer was a definite, “No!”  Ask me today, I’m not sure.  But what I am sure of is that we have guts.  It’s days like Saturday that I will tuck into my back pocket and pull out as a reminder every time I’m faced with something that shakes me to my core.  We really can do hard things.

The Amsterdam Marathon

 

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Click on this link below for a short video of the Amsterdam Marathon finish line

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Time is a funny thing.  It feels like I’ve been gone forever, and yet never left.  For 8 glorious days, I had the good fortune to wander around the Netherlands.  I ate many waffles, Dutch pancakes, Belgium chocolate, and poffertjes (look it up- they’re heavenly), but it was all good because I ran off every last carb during the Amsterdam Marathon.

Poffertjes with strawberries and ice cream. This is dinner.
Poffertjes with strawberries and ice cream. This is dinner.

The beauty of this course can’t be exaggerated.  The friendliness of the volunteers, fellow runners, and race organizers can’t be overemphasized.  This was a larger race with 16,000 marathoners and 18,000 half marathoners.  There was also an 8K the same day with around 3,000.  As large as it was, it felt like a small town race with all the small town feels.  In short, I loved it.  The course was flat which meant my legs weren’t beat up and I was able to walk the city for the rest of the week with little pain and discomfort.

A view of the Amsterdam Marathon course at Mile 20
A view of the Amsterdam Marathon course at Mile 20
The Amstel River. Mile 10 of the Amsterdam Marathon.
The Amstel River. Mile 10 of the Amsterdam Marathon.

 

This is good because there were many chocolate shops to visit along the way.  No time goals for this race.  I took video and pictures and soaked in the atmosphere.  Click on the link below to read about this latest running adventure.  (Fair warning- I wrote this with a jet-lag hangover, so it’s not my best work).

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865665476/The-Amsterdam-Marathon.html

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All You Need is Friends, Shoes and Chocolate

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Sometimes this is the ONLY reason I run. Those pastries are all filled with chocolate FYI

In three days I’ll be on a plane with my two friends, Shelly and Tonya, on our way to Amsterdam where we will meet more friends, devour waffles and chocolate, and run a few miles around a new city.  Two years ago Shelly, who works for Delta Airlines, let me know that Delta now has a direct flight from Salt Lake to Amsterdam.  What I heard in my head was, “Quick!  Look to see what marathons happen in Amsterdam and start planning a trip ASAP!”  And here we are with bags half-packed, text messages about what to wear and what to eat pinging back and forth, and a head full of plans.

Rick, Kim and Elfi at the finish line of the Berlin Marathon
Rick, Kim and Elfi at the finish line of the Berlin Marathon

We’ve traveled to New York, Berlin, and Boston.  These dear friends don’t mind that I pee three times a night.  They understand and support my need for all delicious European pastries.  They take me seriously when I throw out ideas for crazy adventures.  Most importantly, they are on board with them.

Kim, Shelly, and Tonya in the middle of our first century bike ride.  So innocent.
Kim, Shelly, and Tonya in the middle of our first century bike ride. So innocent.

I don’t believe in luck, but how else do I explain how these people came into my life?  These women are the sisters I never had.  Rick and Elfi, the other friends we’re meeting, entered my world by a hair’s breath.  I just happened to be subbing a cycle class at a gym I almost never attend.  Our paths crossed, and we’ve been close ever since.

I chose a good husband.  A man who wants me to be happy and is thrilled when I am smiling.  He doesn’t LET me go on these trips.  He encourages it and cheers me on from our living room while he and the kids eat donuts on the couch for breakfast (‘cuz when Mom’s away, I don’t ask questions.).  I always experience intense homesickness when I embark on these trips.  There’s nothing harder than saying goodbye at the airport.  I love these people and one day we’ll be rich enough that I can take them all with me.  On the other hand, taking a break from our routine (and, let’s face it, them having a break from me and my insistence on brushing and flossing) is good for everyone.

My family greeting me at the airport after the Berlin Marathon
My family greeting me at the airport after the Berlin Marathon

So, things will be quiet on the site for the next two weeks.  I’m going to enjoy experiencing a new country with old friends and soaking in every minute of it.  I’ll be Instagraming the life out of this trip, so you can follow our running adventure at kiminthegym1 on Instagram.

From the Archives: The Bigger the Hill, the Better the View

the bigger the hill the better the view

I wrote this back when my daughter Ali was just about to start kindergarten.  Today I drove her to her fourth grade class.  Time slips through out fingers like fine sand in a sieve.  But the words I wrote are truer today than ever.  We run because we can.  We challenge ourselves and our bodies because we can.  To back away from hard things is to deny ourselves the opportunity to grown.  To turn our backs on the things that scare us is to stunt our progress.  We will never see who we are if we refuse to look in the mirror.  Tough races force me to face myself- to see what I’m really made of.  Enjoy.

 

Some of the hardest moments in life are also the best.

Like many parents, this time of year brings me great joy mixed with a little sadness. It’s back-to-school time and this go-round, I’m sending both of my kids. My youngest is now in kindergarten and couldn’t be happier about it.

I, on the other hand, find myself more than a little teary-eyed at the prospect of what my husband and I call “The Beginning of the End”.

Ali is more than ready to take this step. She’s ready to be challenged. Her curiosity is bigger than my capacity to fill it. My companionship is no match to her friends who offer the excitement of bug catching and gold digging in the sandbox.

And the truth of the matter is, if Ali weren’t ready, I’d be more distraught. These milestones may be difficult, but they are necessary. She’s becoming more independent and that’s how it should be. While I’m sad that my little bug isn’t by my side all day, I’m thrilled to see how she is growing. It’s all good.

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Crash Recovery Update

Crash recovery update
Shelly and I hiding our fear with smiles before our first ride back post-crash

Crash recovery update.

It has been almost three months since Shelly and I had our big crash and the results are still coming in.

The good news: we’re back on our bikes.  We had our first ride last Friday.  I was more nervous for this ride than I was before giving birth to my oldest daughter.  We chose a relatively safe route- Legacy Parkway.  No vehicular traffic.  But let’s get real.  We didn’t have our big crash with a giant SUV.  We had our crash with a piece of wood.  I was paranoid of everything, and it turns out, rightfully so.

Only two miles into our ride we encountered a dad and his daughter on a scooter.  Shelly and I slowed down to around 6 miles per hour, made eye contact with the dad, verbally let them know we were about to pass.  Dad pulled daughter over to the right side of the path.  Not trusting anyone, I continued to ride slow.  Just as I was about to pass them, the daughter pulled out on her scooter right toward me.  I swerved left to avoid her, yelling at her to get over.  Dad started yelling.  Shelly was yelling behind.  I’m certain I closed my eyes and accepted that I was about to even out my shoulder injury by falling on my left.

But I didn’t.  I stopped a little further ahead.  Dad was still yelling at his daughter.  Shelly and I rode on shaking in our bike shoes.  Not the best way to start our first ride post-crash.

We decided the goal that day wasn’t to ride hard and fast.  The goal was to ride and survive.  Conquer our fear, if you will.  I wouldn’t say we conquered our fear, but we faced it and that’s good enough.

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We survived our first ride.

Scary as it was, it was nice to be back, although I’m not sure I’ll ever feel totally comfortable again.  The idea of riding on major roads again terrifies me.  A little fear is good.  I have a lot to live for.

Shelly’s arm is healing nicely.  No more “Frankenshelly”.  She looks good and has an awesome scar to tell the story.

I’m about 75% better.  The shoulder burns bad when I run and effects my neck and back, too.  Surgery is definitely a possibility.  The cost is holding me back.  I have a consultation appointment with a surgeon next month, so we’ll see.  I could always sell my bike to offset the medical bills!  Kidding.  Maybe.

From the Archives: Marie Murray

Marie and I after the Ogden Marathon 2013.
Marie and I after the Ogden Marathon 2013.

Running has given me many gifts, but perhaps the greatest gift has been my friendship with Marie Murray.

Five years ago I received a Facebook message from my friend Rick asking for advice on behalf of his friend who had just qualified for the Boston Marathon. Over the next few months I gave his friend advice, but not the running kind. I figured if she’d already qualified, she knew what she was doing. Rather, I felt that guiding her toward the city’s best pizza and donuts was far more beneficial.

Although we lived only miles apart, I first laid eyes on Marie Murray at the Boston Marathon Expo. We chatted briefly, exchanged some war stories and shared some nervous tension. She and her husband were on their way to a Duck Tour. I was on my way to the North End in search of sugar and carbs. She was a tiny woman- the only person I’ve ever met that made me feel like a squatty gorilla! My first impressions were she was one tough, determined chick. I had no idea how right I was.

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