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.

Elfi Ortenburger- Huntsman Hometown Hero

Post Berlin Marathon 2014 with Rick and Elfi Ortenburger.

There are a lot of people quietly going about their days doing good and serving others.  They don’t get the recognition they often deserve, but they don’t do it for the applause.  They serve out of compassion for others.  Elfi Ortenburger exemplifies this generosity of spirit.  She has dedicated her retirement to helping others research a cure for cancer, all the while helping so many achieve their dream of running a half or full marathon.  She’s touched countless lives.  700 words isn’t enough space to fully capture the essence of Elfi, but I gave it a shot.

Click on the link below to read the Deseret News article all about Elfi.  And if you feel so moved, please donate to the Huntsman Cancer Institute through the link provided on my homepage.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865681209/Running-coach-Elfi-Ortenburger-helps-raise-money-for-cancer-research-through-Huntsman-Hometown.html

From the Archives- Gratitude

 

 

This column was originally published in 2012.  Some of the items listed are still things I’m grateful for.  One in particular makes me laugh.  That year my husband decided he, too, would tackle the marathon distance.  He entered the Ogden Marathon lottery and was accepted.  Three weeks before the race he realized that one 15-mile long run wasn’t enough training.  He was right.  I love him for his lofty goals.  I love him more for accepting reality and not killing himself in the name of pride.  Here’s to a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.  No matter where your life finds you this year, I hope you find something that brings you joy.

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Be grateful for the small, quiet moments.  They are the stuff of life.
Be grateful for the small, quiet moments. They are the stuff of life.

Thanksgiving has transformed into my most favorite holiday of the year. There are no gifts to give. No cards to send. No over-the-top light displays blinking holiday cheer into the wee hours of the night. Don’t get me wrong. I love the busyness and flashiness of Christmas, but the simplicity of Thanksgiving simply can’t be beat.

Gathering around a table of food with family and friends has got to be the best idea mankind has dreamt up in a long time. Start it all off with a morning race or a blistering workout at the gym and I’ll take Thanksgiving over Christmas any day.

Of course, the purpose of the day is to give thanks. Allow me to throw in a few items I am particularly grateful for this year.

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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.

crash recovery update
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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