My First Cycling Race: Bogus Basin Hill Climb

Those of you who know me know that I have a love hate relationship with my bike. Love the cross training benefits. Lots of anxiety surrounding the whole balancing on two skinny wheels while traveling at high speeds with my feet clipped in part. Coordination has not historically been my strong suit. I like triathlon because it motivates me to cross train and forces me to become a more well rounded athlete, and since most of a triathlon is spent on the bike, I must confront my cycling anxiety.

My friend Barb has helped me confront my fears head on this summer. Through practice, repetition, and finding a pedal system that works better for me (Thank you, Barb!) I was able to gain a bit more confidence on the bike. One of the training rides I like to do is up Bogus Basin Road, a 16.5 mile winding road that leads to our local ski hill. The total ride has about 4000 feet of elevation gain. At the end of August there is a race to the top called the Bogus Basin Hill Climb. I had never ridden my bike all the way to the top (the furthest I had gone in training was to mile marker 13) nor had I ever done a cycling race, but this year my husband and I decided to do it. My coach Gretchen also signed up.

There were three options on signup: the dirt race (you can get to the top via approximately 20 miles of mountain biking trails as well), the non-competitive road race (which is not timed), and the competitive road race (which is timed). I looked at the times from last years’ race and approximated my time based on my training rides. Based on my projected time, I would finish squarely in the bottom 25%. Nevertheless, if I was going to do a cycling race, I wanted a number and proof on the interwebs that I had done a cycling race! Competitive race it is!

On the morning of the race, my husband and I rode our bikes to the start. The weather was nice: not too hot or cold and no wind. We assessed the group and lined up behind the group of junior high and high school kids. After about 4 or 5 miles of hard climbing, my legs started to feel tired. While I had done long or hard rides before, I had never done a cycling specific workout outside and I was wondering if signing up for a cycling race had been a bad idea. During long or hard rides I would stop and get a drink or a snack. I was not planning to do that during this race. I had a Camelbak on my back and was just planning to drink from that and keep going. I wondered if I was last or close to last, but noticed a few riders behind me. I pushed my doubts aside and kept pedaling.

Once I got out of my head and to the second half, I felt much better. I was enjoying the ride, occasionally passing a person or two, and appreciating the tree coverage that the higher elevation brought. I even noticed that when I would sip from my Camelbak I would continue to pedal with one hand off of my bars. I must be getting more comfortable on the bike! Before I knew it I was just a couple of miles from the top. I finished the ride in 1 hours and 35 minutes, well under my projected finish time of 2 hours.

My husband, coach and I enjoyed the post race beer, tacos and music and then headed back down the mountain. For me, riding back down was just as hard (if not harder!) than riding up. By that point in the day the wind had picked up a bit making the downhill a bit scary for me. Nevertheless, I made it home in one piece very proud of my almost 40 mile round trip up and down the mountain!




lululemon does law school

I wear many hats. Mom, wife, friend, runner, wannabe cyclist and blogger. In a former life I was a full-time practicing attorney, and I teach part-time at a law school. The first time I walked into a classroom of law students I was struck by the air of idealism in the room. I wanted to harness the positive energy and catapult it into the community, immediately putting all of that idealism to good use. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Turning the dream into reality requires planning, action and consistency. This is why I use lululemon’s goal setting worksheets in some of my classes, including the interns I taught this summer.

On a warm afternoon earlier this summer as students trickled into class after a long day of working at their internships, I prepared to speak to them about goal setting and creating a business plan. Some students rushed in just before the start of class still wearing suits, others strolled in at a more casual pace, having had time to change into more comfortable attire. Living their lives from semester to semester as most students do, not many take the time to think about a five or ten year plan. Survival through exams until the next break is more the name of the game.

Planning is important, however, to ensure that the steps we take today are taking us towards the life that we want. In the areas of health, personal, and career, these worksheets invite you to envision your future, examine what you want and don’t want in it, and then help you create a ten, five and one year plan. You create ten year goals, working backwards to the one year goal and even to what you can be doing today to help you make progress towards that goal.

I first used these worksheets at a goal setting workshop hosted by my coach and found them incredibly helpful in creating a vision for my own future. Every time I ask my students to complete these worksheets, I complete them with my students, and every time I complete them my goals and vision change slightly. And that’s okay. Just because you write it down doesn’t mean it’s written in stone. But writing down a goal is an important part of the process.  Gary Blair said, “A goal is created three times. First as a mental picture. Second, when written down to add clarity and dimension. And third, when you take action towards its achievement.” I encourage you to give these worksheets a try to help add clarity and dimension to your goals. These are not just worksheets for yogis or runners, but for anyone who wants to create a happier and more fulfilling life. That includes law students!

Pool is a Four Letter Word

The day after my 40th birthday I saw the doctor for my mystery foot ailment. At that point I had taken about two weeks off of any real running and had forgone running the Final Four Four Miler in Houston which I had been hoping to run as the last race of my 30s. Nevertheless, the pain in my foot continued. My x-ray looked clean, but after a manual exam, the doctor uttered the dreaded phrase “stress reaction” and told me no running for 4-6 weeks. Welcome to Forty! He suggested pool and cycling and all of those other things that runners just love to do when they are injured. And he prescribed this lovely footplate which does not leave my side:


Francis the Footplate, my new BFF #thisis40

For the entire month of April, my birthday month, I diligently hit the pool, the gym, and tried to find other activities which did not aggravate my foot. I am thankful for the fact that unlike when I had to have my appendix out last summer I can still be very active while recovering from this stress reaction. Nevertheless, I look longingly out the window on these lovely and light spring mornings and desperately want to run. (I think my family wants that too, as each passing week I grow more and more irritable.) I miss my running team and wonder what workouts they are doing and what fun topics of conversation I might be missing out on. Running is not only my chance for exercise and fresh air, it is also a social outlet for me, and I miss my friends!

This week, on Cinco de Mayo (!), I got to run for the first time in over a month and the first time in my forties! I didn’t get to run outside, I got to run on the Alter G treadmill. For those of you unfamiliar with the Alter G, it is an anti-gravity treadmill which allows you to run at a percentage of your body weight. It is a phenomenal piece of equipment for injured runners or runners hoping to take off some of the training load.

I counted down the days until I could try running and when the day arrived I felt equal parts excitement and nervousness. I want to get back to running so badly, but feared having the first step be painful and having to start the 4-6 week clock over again. Finally, my Alter G time slot appointment arrived. Just putting on a running outfit felt amazing. I felt like a runner again! I laced up my running shoes, hopped on, started walking, increased the speed and lowered the body weight.

Per my coaches instructions I lowered the body weight to 60%. When you run on the Alter G, you wear special spandex pants, zip yourself into the machine, and air blows up around you. Your body weight it lowered by the air around you and the machine essentially lifting you by the pants you are wearing. (I am sure there is a more technical explanation, but this is my non-techy description.) As my weight lowered and my speed increased I finally took that first running step. And it felt okay! In fact, due to the decreased body weight, it felt almost effortless.

I was finally running again! It felt easy! It felt amazing! It felt like if I did this for the full 30 minutes I might never get feeling back in my crotch again! At times I felt that I could feel pain in my foot, but at no time was the pain in my foot anywhere near the discomfort I felt in my lady-parts from literally being lifted by the seat of my pants while running. (Guys: How do you manage Alter G running?!?) I took comfort in that feedback, however. It told me that the discomfort in my foot was mostly in my head. Afterwards I iced and had minimal soreness.

Although I will not be running outside in the Boise foothills for Mother’s Day as I had hoped, I am so pleased with my forward progress. I am learning more about patience, listening to my body, and doing my best to enjoy the journey. Even if that journey does involve swimming laps in the pool.

If My Life Were A Bike Ride

This past weekend my husband and I went on a 40 mile mountain bike ride to celebrate his 40th birthday. Somewhere along the way we realized that the ride was a metaphor for our lives so far. The first few miles were a breeze, in fact I can barely remember them. I was full of energy, although a bit wobbly on my bike. Everything was fresh and brand new. I spent a lot of time enjoying the view and some time getting off of my bike to walk the more treacherous parts of the trail. (See Uncoordinated Runner Attempts Mountain Biking.) In fact, in an attempt to increase my bonding with my mountain bike and decrease my fear and anxiety associated with mountain biking, at some point in the first ten miles or so, I bestowed a name upon my lovely mountain bike. Her name is Rita. I am not sure why, it just came to me. She seems feminine and lovely and she is also white and green like the colors of salt and lime that that go with a margaRITA, so maybe that’s why. I don’t know. What I DO know, however, is that Rita is timid on single track trails and steep downhills. She’s a bit claustrophobic, risk averse, and has a fear of heights. But we are getting along well so far.

Crossing Trestles Like a Champ

Rita, Crossing Trestles Like a Champ

Miles 10 through 20 were also a breeze. Downhill through the mountains following the river with a beautiful view. Much like in my own teens, I did not realize how good I had it! At mile 20, we stopped to turn around. And that’s where the real fun began. The trail we were on had been downhill to our turnaround point, but the downhill was gentle and the trail was loose gravel so we were still having to pedal to go downhill and did not realize how much we had been going downhill. Oops!

When we turned around at mile 20, we quickly realized that we were going to have our work cut out for us. Much like a college graduate at age 22, we realized around mile 22 that we were going to ration out our water (much like budgeting money), and work smartly and efficiently to ensure that we would meet our goal. The 20s were hard but we still had energy to plow through them.

Trucking along!

Trucking along!

The 30s is when the real fun began! And in our real lives, our 30s is when we had our 3 children. So fittingly, miles 30-40 were grueling and exhausting. We took several breaks to laugh at ourselves (Whose idea what this?!) and encourage each other. We knew we would reach our goal, but knew it would take work. And much like parenting, we did it together and with a sense of humor (well, mostly). When we got back to the car (kind of like when we get to the couch after a day of parenting) we were exhausted, but felt accomplished. And very thirsty for beer. We also realized that this is just the beginning of the journey and look forward to seeing what the next 40 years (or miles!) will bring!