Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Making Sense of Things and Searching for Mojo

It's been awhile since I've blogged, and mostly it's been intentional. I haven't had the energy to do much lately, least of all try to work out what's been going on in my own head, so getting it out in paragraph form online was about the last thing on my to-do list. I'm still trying to figure things out, and I know it'll be awhile until I feel 2019 level happy while running down the streets or flying through the air on a bike. Logically, I know I need to keep going, and this is me trying to do so, but in reality I feel like I'm going through the motions and that's it.

The pandemic I could handle, and staying off Facebook for the most part helped a lot with that. Sure, it began making me stir crazy, and eventually there were a few full on FOMO cringy crying spells when I saw how many people were already racing and going about life, but I can handle that feeling, or I thought I knew how. I began throwing myself more than ever into running, etc., and after a few months of that I developed an IT band issue with my left knee. I had no choice but to RICE it- rest, ice, compression, elevation. It didn't help the stir crazy feelings in the slightest, but I'm no stranger to re-starting training at a later time, so I did my best to get through it. Luckily, I'm happy to report that my knee feels almost back to 100%, and next time I'll be sure to foam roll after each run. Lesson learned.

Through it all, I talked to one of my close friends, Conor, about it, and talking about it seemed to keep us both moving forward and full of hope. We chatted most days, actually nearly everyday for the past 3 years. At the time I met him, he was well on his way to finishing his goal of running 100 marathons. He loved traveling and running and had friends everywhere. He had a great sense of humor and a love of adventure; he even climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro! He ran ultra-marathons and half marathons and 10ks and 5ks and whatever else ks you could throw at him. Most of all, he was a great person and friend. Sometimes people who have been running for awhile can condescendingly say things like, "It's ONLY 3.1 miles." to a newbie. No matter how many miles Conor ran or where his adventures took him, he always remained so down to earth and humble. He dedicated his time to helping a group of new runners get started, and always had encouraging words to help them along. He was never a one-upper, and he was always genuinely happy for other's accomplishments as much as his own. He was a sweet, kind person that anyone would be happy to know. My boyfriend and I were going to plan a trip to see him as soon as the mess 2020 threw at us all was over.

Two weeks ago, Conor took his life as a result of the pandemic. The world is a lot less colorful without him in it. I wish he would have reached out for help, but the logical part of me knows that's not how depression works. Depression doesn't care how much you love your family and friends, or how much they love you, it's chemical and requires help. I constantly find myself thinking one thing, and then correcting myself right after that. I wish he hadn't chosen to leave us all, but maybe finding his love of running gave him time he wouldn't normally have had. Maybe I would never have met him and been lucky enough to have known him. Regardless of his leaving too soon, he found his true passion and lived it to the fullest, something that many people don't experience, even if they live to be 100. There are times I want to get mad at him for doing what he did, but I can't be mad when I think of the pain he must have been going through. He left me a song, and I'll never be able to talk to him again, but I would never take back knowing him for an instant, even for as sad as I still am. The pandemic takes victims who don't have the virus, and often they aren't counted when they need to be. I am thankful to know some of Conor's friends and family, and they are wonderful people. My heart goes out to them during this time.

Besides dragging myself to the track like a zombie, and even having a mini melt down and leaving one day right before a race, I haven't had much desire to do anything else. Sometimes I go for walks around the neighborhood; I listen to the birds and give the flowers, rabbits and bugs a closer look. Sometimes quiet is good when you're trying to make sense of your own thoughts. Ultimately, I know Conor would be encouraging his friends and family to be their best and try their hardest, so to honor Conor's life and memory, and to make him proud, I am going to try my best to do just that. I'm going to try hard for him to get my motivation and happiness back, starting with a race this weekend. I had the best intentions of racing tonight but I just can’t. I'm not quite there yet, but I have to start somewhere. Conor, thank you for your friendship, your time, your encouragement and for giving me confidence. You touched so many lives and are sorely missed. I'll never forget you.

Conor Cusack
10/22/71 - 6/13/20







Wednesday, June 3, 2020

When One Door Closes...

Well, it's official. Wah wahhh. 😢 We got an email this morning from the Big Sur Foundation letting us know that the marathon is officially cancelled for 2020. While we're both super bummed, it's understandable considering all that has been going on lately. We do get 60% of our entry fee refunded though, which is SUPER cool on Big Sur's part, because they really don't have to refund us at all. We are also going to run it next year, given that all is good. The door might be closed on our marathon this year but that's okay, I'll keep running. 👍


About 5 minutes after receiving that news, the doorbell rang and it was FedEx! My BMX gate came in the mail! After checking the tracking yesterday, I learned that it cleared customs and made it into the U.S., but I was really surprised when it arrived today! I literally did a little happy dance at the door when I saw it! We got it set up and tested out in the house, and I can't wait to run some gates on it outside this weekend while everyone's in Oklahoma. I also got to have my first practice since January's national yesterday, so I'm really happy. I've been missing that track time. 💓

My gate all set up and ready to roll! 

1st practice of the year at Blue Springs BMX, 6/2/20. It was really nice to have a bit of normalcy again.


Me and my teammate C, he's super fast and will be giving his competition a run for their money!
Testing out my bike on the track for the 1st time. The "Easter Bunny" did good.

Playing around with gearing for the first time in a few years. The jury's still out but I'll keep this one on for a while.

I can't wait for my next practice this Friday!


That said, one door closes and a window opens. 😎😄


Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Don't Be Silent

These last few days have been crazy. The peaceful protests at the plaza seem to have led to rioting and attempts at looting. We live about 3 miles away and been watching coverage live, and have also heard that cops were shooting the peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. Trump shut down the White House and went into hiding, only to borrow someone's bible and pose in front of a church full of graffiti, some type of deranged marketing on his part. It's not the time for us to remain silent; with the injustices in the world our voices hold more weight together. I love the quote, "Be the change you wish to see in the world", and I want to live up to the idealism of that sentiment.

I've had a lot of extra time these last 4 days, since I'm currently healing up from an overuse injury to my knee (I plan to see how it feels after an hour of training tonight). It's healing up fine, and I've used my free time to think about how I can be the change I wish to see. Over the years, I believe my biggest fault in not affecting change is being too quiet. I was raised in a household that valued silence and not being too loud, and when given the opportunity to voice my opinion in the real world, I choked. Part of me was afraid that in voicing my own opinion I would be accused of not respecting others' opinions. Part of me was afraid of being verbally (or physically) attacked for doing so. Also, part of me was afraid that I would lose friends.

I've grown up a bit since then, and since that time I've realized that 1.) I am not disrespecting others by making my voice count, 2.) I'm not afraid to defend my voice; I don't control others actions but I can control my own reaction, and 3.) so what if I lose those so called friends?? I really don't want to pretend to be friends with someone who holds racist beliefs. Silence doesn't protect us.


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On a side note, while I was an undergrad, someone in college who whispered an unsolicited racist comment in my ear in the voting line several years ago during the Obama election is now peppering her own Facebook with Black Lives Matter posts. I hope for her own sake she has truly changed her opinion and that it's real. When she made that comment to me it destroyed our friendship, but I do want to believe people can change. It was also later, on a different campus, that I learned to take a stand. During a lecture, a professor made a comment about "sounding black". I raised my hand, stood up in front of a diverse group of my peers, and challenged him, my voice shaky at first but becoming stronger. It was the first time I felt like I HAD a voice. The encouraging faces of my peers gave me support, but their silence also made me realize that I wasn't the only one who once equated silence with safety.

I like to focus on my training and my workouts because that is what de-stresses me and makes me feel like I'm doing something productive. It allows me to de-clutter my thoughts and to think about the world around me. Recently, and in a day or two when I am able to pick back up on those workouts, I want to channel those thoughts into how I can affect change. I want to truly understand the struggles the black community goes through on a daily basis. Understanding generalities isn't enough.

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I recognize that I have white privilege, and while I try to gain insight, I don't truly know what it's like to live a life without that privilege. I don't know what it's like to walk in the shoes of a black American, or to worry about being racially profiled simply for walking down the street or cashing a check. Regardless, my eyes are open, and my eyes have been open for years. I've had white friends I've known over time make racist comments to me. Years into knowing them, they open their mouth and one dribbles out; they mistakenly assumed that since I'm white, I must hold those same beliefs. (If anyone wonders, I never remained friends with them after that.) I'm going to use my voice for good. I am NOT going to argue with any negative comments here or anywhere else on my social media, those will be blocked. I am, however, open to discussing and more fully understanding others experiences and lives.

#BlackLivesMatter
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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Importance of Positive Self Talk

Let's talk about KINDNESS. 😀

How do you speak to others? Are you nice? Are you respectful? That's AWESOME! But don't stop there - how do you talk to YOURSELF? Are you being nice and respectful? The golden rule says to treat others as you would want to be treated, but are you treating yourself that way?

Sound familiar???
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How we speak to others is important. However, how we speak about ourselves, weather that be in jest, in seriousness, or as an inner thought is equally as important. Growing up, I was guilty of this. I was insecure, perhaps made so by my feelings of social awkwardness. I was a tomboy who loved karate, jumping my bike, digging trails and being outside over listening to boy bands, trying on lipstick and talking about crushes. Honestly, I'd rather do all that stuff; it made me happy, and sitting inside gabbing about boys in boy bands made me want to puke. I didn't meet any other kick ass ladies who rode bikes or were into sports until years later, and my school was full of mean girls who just didn't get it. Eventually, I felt that if I could poke fun at myself before others could, that it would mean I was laughing WITH them and could avoid the feeling of being picked on.

I know, I know, WHO in their right mind would think this works? Because, well, it doesn't. DUH.

After years of this, those negative self-thoughts and talks formed a bad habit and did less to make me feel like I was part of a group, and more to create feelings of not being good enough. It made me feel as if the people around me were smarter, prettier, faster and better than me in a million ways. And standing up for myself? Pssh. Get outta here! Looking back on it now I realize that it was FAR from the truth, but at the time, practicing putting myself down so much helped spur on more and more thoughts about how I was too goofy, or had the wrong clothes, or made too many mistakes, or that I should be lucky to be in people's presence.

As I grew up, I became more confident. I began to learn that what I was doing was downright harmful. After all, we NEED to be our biggest supporters. I began to practice self love, and to think and talk positively about myself. It was tough at first, but was a bad habit that sorely needed breaking. Slowly, my confidence grew and that positive talk became permanent. I'm proud to say that the negative self thoughts and talk are out the window, left in the dust long ago.

How you think and talk about yourself is important, and has more ramifications than just harmless joking. The next time you find yourself wanting to put yourself down, stop. Make it a point to think about the many reasons you are AWESOME! Make a list if you need to. If there's one thing I learned, it's that being different is a good thing. It can be tough going through those stages where everyone wants to talk, act and dress the same, but in the end our differences are our strengths; they are what make you the beautiful person you are. The tricky part is that you won't fully realize that right up front. You just gotta believe. 😎😘

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Stir Crazy & Another Week of Quarantine

I hope you all are having a great week. Today is my Friday, and a much needed 4-day weekend is on the horizon, woohoo!!! Another week of quarantine has come and (almost) gone, and probably like you guys I find myself starting to go a little stir crazy. By a little I mean A LOT. I woke up a few days ago with this feeling, and I haven't been able to shake it. I miss racing, traveling, flying, hanging out with friends and getting to see my family safely.


USABMX announced two more nationals, but they would both require flying, and Y doesn't feel comfortable with going yet. I do respect that, and in a normal situation, he is my BIGGEST BMX enabler and supporter; we 💓💓💓 traveling to races and making fun memories together! I feel really frustrated just thinking about all the many nationals and Gold Cup races we had on our to do list this year, including Grands. Last year's job hunt and move made things so busy and hectic that nationals were off the table, so I am looking forward to getting back to it this year. In my head I feel like a toddler having a tantrum, stomping my feet and screaming, "I want my normal life back!!". If you feel the same, and you probably do, I totally understand you. 😐


Mini inner breakdown aside, I am really grateful for what we do have, and I've been loving the chats with my friends in Texas and California. Thank goodness for Google Hangouts, Zoom and the phone! I also ran into a friend from the track when I was out riding last weekend and we got to chat! To try and curb my feelings of restlessness, Y and I decided to have our own mini-adventure here. There are several lakes around the area, and weather permitting (it might rain this weekend), we are going to get out of our house, head to one of them, grab some food for a picnic and take in the beautiful view. One thing I miss since leaving Houston is the close proximity to the beach, so finding a body of water somewhere is something I'm very much looking forward to.

Longview Lake is where I ran my half-marathon, and seems like a fun possibility. They even have a little beach portion!
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Running wise, our treadmill delivery has been pushed back to June 10th instead of this weekend, so just a bit longer to wait. I have been getting my miles in every other day, and cross-training on my off days. I'm not ready to get back into marathon training mode just yet, so I'm enjoying the lower mileage immensely. Giving my body a break has also been a good thing, and it's allowed me to really love each time I go out. After running two marathons in a row last year, I could feel the training burnout coming on, so the postponement of our marathon to November is something I'm very thankful for.

After distancing myself from a bit of toxicity a year ago, I've found myself slowly loving to run again. Side note - it's amazing how much somebody can take away from you, if you let them! Key words: if-you-let-them. If you love to do something, do it with all your heart and don't let anybody else dictate that. Recognize bad friends for who they are, and while no argument or big blowout is needed in the end, leave them by the wayside and keep doing you. That said, I am VERY excited to run Big Sur and to race BMX anywhere and everywhere! I would also love to try my hand at riding a pump track, and bunny hopping higher.




Friday, May 15, 2020

It's FRIDAY!! & New Additions

Happy Friday! For someone wfh it truly seems like this week has gone by SO fast, it's a little weird tbh, but I love it anyway. Besides a tough decision that had to be made this week and feeling super worn down from not getting enough sleep (that's officially been rectified) it's been a really great one.




This week USABMX announced that they are having a new national, called the Bounce Back National, that will be in Pryor, OK, which is only about 3 hours away from us. Oklahoma is one of the few states that is opening back up from the COVID-19 pandemic. For as much as I want to get back to racing, I think it's unfair to have a national when many places are still closed and most sports groups haven't even started their season yet, and to choose between a possible health threat or points. I’m happy for everyone going, but, until the next national opens up, I will continue to practice and train. I love BMX, and even though there will be FOMO, there will be other races.

Yuan has been super supportive like always, and he left it up to me weather we go or not. He knows how much I'll miss going, and suggested us live-streaming it and having a watch party with some micheladas, so that should be fun. I do want to point out that being cautious over a pandemic that we have never had to deal with before does NOT make anyone silly, stupid or scared. It also does not mean that I love racing less than someone who chooses to go.

I really really can't wait to feel safe again around groups of people. I also can't wait 'till it's safe to hug my mom again. 2020 really threw us all for a loop on that!



I can't wait to get back to our regular racing schedule!

Moving on now...😀

We do have a few fun things arriving to help with training, which I am over the moon excited about! Yuan loved running on the gym's treadmills, but with them being closed, and the thought of not having to pay for a gym membership ever again, or drive there and try to find parking, we made the choice to get our own. I'm so excited to be able to run regardless of the weather outside, and Yuan prefers running inside, since he's super allergic to mosquitoes, so after a lot of careful consideration and back-and-forths, we decided that this will be one piece of equipment that will get used a lot. Also, with the Woodway treadmill running classes in Houston and KC closing their doors permanently, and us having a spin bike with unlimited classes upstairs, etc., I decided to cancel my Class Pass. We sold the couch in our den yesterday, after having it posted for less than 4 minutes (Facebook Marketplace is the bomb!), and now have a nearly empty room for a brand new treadmill that will be arriving in a few weeks!

Cold, rainy weather is no match for this! lol
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And now on to our second big addition...

When I raced on the Factory Gold's Gym Team, our Gold's gym in north Houston had an indoor BMX section with a 4 man practice gate and timer. I used to love training on that with my teammates when I could make the hour long trek, which wasn't too often, but now that I've moved halfway across the country, they only way I can practice my gate is going to the track. Normally this would be fine, but one of the drawbacks to living in the mid-west are the achingly long winters. Snow, ice, and below-freezing temps keep a track closed for months. Here, we are lucky to race 6 mos. out of the year besides traveling for nationals, and with the Corona-virus helping things out, I haven't been able to be on a track since Las Vegas in January (and before that it was November). So, to help with gate practice, I took the plunge and have a portable starting gate arriving sometime next month! I absolutely can't wait to practice on it. This is something I've wanted for years, and I'm so happy now to have the opportunity to practice and get better on gates when our tracks are closed.

It feels like Christmas came early!! 💓
(this isn't me, but this is what the gate looks like)

Indoors, I've got a few new projects stirring in the pot as well, and am excited to start them today and this weekend and see how they turn out. I'll be posting about them when they're done, but am not in a huge hurry on finishing up, as I want to keep my attention on the details and really do a good job.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Hedgehog Socks & Getting Off Social

Happy Monday from my house to yours! As I type away I'm sitting here in my hedgehog jogging (hedge-jog-haha!) socks and a comfy sweatshirt, marveling at the Midwest spring and how temperamental it can be. We just had a weekend that was sunny and 70, and today is cloudy and 50. In Houston the temps just go up. This weather, and the many bunnies everywhere still blow my mind. Don't get me wrong though, KC Springtime is picturesque!

The fountain by the Plaza. So gorgeous this time of year!
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Spring time continues, still travel and race free, but I'm determined to take advantage of this time and use it for the best. Each day, Y works in his office upstairs and I work downstairs from the dining room. I'm right next to the den so my bmx bike in its shiny black stand is my co-worker. All in all, it's not a bad set up. Mother's Day was yesterday, so I'm a bit down because I haven't been able to go back to Texas since I moved last Summer. We were planning on it but then the pandemic happened. To keep my sanity these days I've decided that along with unfriending and snoozing some people on Facebook, I just try to stay off of it for the most part. The BMX neck of the woods has become a divided mixture of those who, like myself, want nothing better than to race but understand how much of a threat this virus is, and factory dads who don't even ride, but love nothing more than to scream about the unfairness of it all and flex online, and I for one have had about enough. I'm sure social media is like this for many communities, and stepping out of it instead of letting yourself become entangled in time-wasting arguments feels like the better choice. I turn it off, go outside, ride, and just have fun.

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Lately I've been getting lots of emails touting virtual races, and while I understand that these companies are trying to make money in uncertain times, I've never been much of a fan of the virtual race. It's fine if others like them, but besides a few exceptions, most haven’t been for me. However, in the wake of the pandemic, a virtual race can also be a great way to feel that normalcy again and get motivated to work towards a goal! Maybe I will try one again someday!

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While none of us know how long it's going to be before this pandemic is a memory in the rear view, let's make the most out of what we are given with our time. For the first time in awhile, I have been getting out to run and really enjoying some speed-work. I don't mind training for nothing, because my favorite part of running isn't the races, it's just running. I love the cathartic factor, and it lets me think through all of my plans, worries, and emotions.

I still hope 'rona goes away sooner rather than later, and hope you guys are all doing okay. 'Till next time! 💓💓