Wednesday, October 7, 2020

It's Fall, Ya'll!

It's officially fall. Time for pumpkin carving, pumpkin seed roasting, sunflower-field visiting, spraying the house with whatever pumpkin-something scented room spray I have left, throwing up the three pieces of orange-ish decor I own, justifying eating pie and digging out all those cute jackets and long sleeves that have been patiently waiting in their cubby holes since last year. Fall also means it's only 2 months until Grands, the biggest BMX national of the year, and continuing to train hard. I'm super excited for this season, because that means that 2020 is coming to a close, and it also means that I get to see how all my hard work will end up coming together. I'm also excited to continue my 2021 race year with the SSquared National team!

I miss the Texas bluebonnet fields, but fields full of sunflowers work just fine. 😀🌻

My last BMX national before the Grands is coming up this weekend in Omaha, NE. I raced this Monday at Raytown, banging bars and falling in the rhythm section in the 1st round, but qualifying out in the second round and getting 3rd in the main. I also went to my usual practice at Blue Springs on Tuesday, but my normally chill practice was packed with riders, most likely also getting ready for Omaha. It was good, but I'll take my much less packed practice any day with the Tuesday regulars, and it should go back to that hopefully soon! 

Practice a few weeks ago at Blue Springs BMX.

Our annual meeting is coming up (virtually this year), so fall is also the busiest time of the year work-wise. Last year's meeting was in NYC, and even with all the long days, it was a blast! Meeting prep and execution is always hard work, but with this year being virtual, a lot of new challenges come to the fore. I enjoy challenges; they give me new experiences and new tools to work with next time, including new stress-management techniques! 

Last year in NYC for work. They were just starting to get the big Christmas tree ready to go up.

Times Square didn't disappoint. 


A little window shopping at Kate Spade. I love her quirky stuff!


Yuan and I checking out some of the city after work.

Speaking of stress, running almost daily has helped A LOT with that; it allows me to get out of my head for 30 mins. to an hour each day, and allows me to think through anything bothering me. More times than not, I can come up with a new idea, etc. by the end of the run. Running has been a passion of mine for over 5 years now, and despite having had a toxic, overly-competitive person in my life that almost took away my love for it, I'm glad to say that I was able to get that love back for this sport, and plan to continue enjoying it for the long-haul. Never let anyone take away the love you have for something. Especially if you were doing it first. Like Wayne and Garth would say, "Ssshhhaaa!".

I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to be spending some much needed time outside, enjoying that amazing 80's, sunny weather! Time to get outside after work and take my tired butt for a walk. Happy hump-day guys! 😀


Even the sunflowers at Grinter's Farm are cool. 😎🌻


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Changing Teams...Sort Of, and Learning to Jump!

 Well, here it is, already October. I'm not sure quite how we got here, since 2020 has seemed long, daunting and very draining at times. I'm not saying that nothing good has happened, but after losing 3 friends and having members of my family catch the Coronavirus, all thanks to an (ex)employee who refused to stay home when he was sick with it...let's just say it's been a long year. Good things have happened though, and even with all the division going on, I have seen people coming together in the most remarkable ways, and it has made my heavy heart happy. 

Visiting Grinter Farms a few weekends back.
That was SO much fun! #localadventure

I've been running up a (lower mileage) storm on our treadmill very consistently, and the virtual routes and classes have made running on it so much fun! I actually WANT to run on a treadmill, and that would have NOT been me a few years ago. I'm also feeing more confident on hills and changing terrain, which is pretty cool. I also got moved up by my team, SSquared, from the Missouri team to the National team, and I'm so thankful and excited for the opportunity! SSquared has been really great to us, and has made me feel at home here. 
Ignore the under-eye bags, I woke up way too early, but I am SUPER excited about my new jersey!

Gotta keep at it. Practicing at Raytown BMX, photo by Camden's Photography

I have also set my sights on feeling more comfortable in the air when I'm on my bike, so have been working on jumping a few small tabletops lately. Some of the guys at the track have really helped me out with tips and tricks, and for that I can't thank them enough! 

Between running, riding and a work schedule that is filling as I write, Yuan and I have been making time to have a date night here and there, as well as some local social distancing adventures. Last Friday I was so tired, and I took the day off from racing. We ended up venturing downtown, through the Power and Light district and into the BRGR Bar for a date night. That area was where the action was that night; right when we were leaving and turning the corner a BLM protest turned left and headed down the street we came from. 

Yuan and our awesome date night. 💕
Hanging out at Power and Light before eating...

Gotta love a restaurant with a view! 

Some downtown sights

On the work front I'm happy to say that I've been LOVING my job lately, and I'm learning so much doing the work that I do (marketing & communications). Since my chosen career path can include a very broad scope of choices, deciding on a career trajectory has been a bit of a hit and miss sometimes, but all that hard work has ultimately has led me to something I truly love. Working from home has also become my preference, and having several large windows next to my work-space to open during the day doesn't hurt either, lol! I work more when I'm at home, but am totally fine with that when I can eat a home cooked meal for lunch everyday! Or a snowcone. Later gators! 

#treatyoself. I never get tired of Parks & Rec sayings....😋😀


Thursday, September 3, 2020

HOW is Summer Almost Over!?

 Summer is coming to a close in what is officially the longest year on record for so many, and I'm getting a little sad about it. It may have to do with the fact that I abhor winter and love the sand and sun, but to a point it feels like I'm officially leaving behind those I've lost this year. I will forever miss and cherish all of the conversations with Conor, and wish he was still with us, and missing Brent Sterriker, too. I hope Brent knows the oil slick wheels he built those few years ago STILL get me stopped around the track by riders asking who built them. The last time this happened was a week ago! Striker Wheels forever, friend. ✌ Despite the heaviness, I'm trying my hardest to enjoy every bit of what's left by being as active as I can and making the time to connect with friends and loved ones. Obviously I can't contact everyone all the time, but since contact/communication is a two way street and we're all busy, I'm happy to cut myself some slack there. One thing we've been missing this summer has been access to a pool or a beach and snow cones. We decided to fix one of those things recently by getting a snow cone machine, lol! It arrived yesterday and was making delicious, sugar-free snow cones immediately! 😀 (I think we'll be adding a bit of sugar next time though!) Sometimes there's nothing better than sitting on the patio, soaking up the sun and enjoying some snowy fluffy sugary ice. 

I have also officially begun to build my mileage back up, and couldn't be happier about that! I'm taking it slowly and being smart about things (a.k.a. not building up too fast), but with 4 miles on the treadmill yesterday and a virtual Houston 5k today with my friends back home, I'm well on my way to long distance happiness. I don't have any race in mind yet, but it will be nice for now just to get back in half marathon shape, and weight! 🙈😬 Having this treadmill has been fun - actually a LOT more fun than a treadmill should ever be. It came with a free year of iFit, and we have been using it nonstop lately. iFit has trainer run workouts, and you have the option of allowing the trainer to control your speed and incline/decline on the machine or setting your own speed and incline/decline while following the class. You can also draw a running map anywhere in the world, (not sure about North Korea yet though) and you can run and watch a Google Maps street view go by. On these you set your own speed but the incline/decline will follow the map. The iFit program makes the miles zoom by, and it's also been so much fun trying out new routes. 

I bet you've never run the Golden Gate Bridge into oncoming traffic before lol! Still trying to get the hang of route-mapping. 

Oddly enough, when I ran this route in real life, there was still water in this exact area.

Despite so much loss this year, there have been some positive things as well. I went into 2020 with one bike, and thanks to a surplus of extra parts and finding a bad ass powder-coater/bike restorer in the area (thanks Groody Bros.!), I will be leaving 2020 with two bikes! I also managed to earn NINE national wins this year, and I'm very proud of that accomplishment. 


My 1st trip to South Dakota and I got to pick up three "firsts"!

On a different note, and something I've been thinking about lately...

A while back, I was in the process of re-writing my resume for the millionth time in preparation for a job search out of state, and I was complaining to a good friend of mine after our run about how I didn't get any help and no one seemed to care. I was feeling a bit hopeless and had begun feeling sorry for myself. She looked me dead in the eye and gave me some of the best advice I've gotten to this day. "No one will hand you anything, and they don't have time to care because they're too busy worrying about themselves. If you want something, YOU do the work and get yourself there." I'm forever thankful for her advice to this day, and I put it into practice any chance I got (starting with educating myself on resume writing and interviewing techniques). That advice is true, honest, and something I live by to this day, in many aspects of my life. 

It's okay to ask for help, but be open to taking advice and know that if someone takes time out of their busy day to help you, be thankful, ready to work, and don't waste their time. I once had an ex co-worker who needed resume help, and I offered to help her. I very quickly realized that she was fully expecting me to do it for her, and didn't want to expend the time to even try to lay it out (or spell check, for that matter); that's when I very smartly peaced-out. If you're waiting for anyone to hand you anything without YOU putting in the hard work to get there, you'll be waiting a loooong time. Anyways, thank you again for the advice *Tiff! 

*Tiffany's awesome. Everyone needs a friend like Tiffany. 👍 Catch you guys (or YA'LL in Texas-talk) later. 💖

How some of 2020 is making me (and I'm guessing you guys, too) feel lately. Just throw in a talking caterpillar and a Cheshire cat!




Thursday, August 13, 2020

The Treadmill Came!

 Wow! I can't believe it's already the middle of August. So much has happened this year, both good and bad. I have finally started to get back to running and getting in shape again, since I hadn't really wanted to do anything after Conor's passing. Getting back to it makes me feel so much better than I have in months though, and even though I still don't know how to feel about some things, I do know that I have to keep moving forward any way I can, and as hard as it is I also know that Conor would be encouraging it. 

source

With moving forward in mind, Yuan and I have been traveling to a few nationals to race BMX, being as careful as we can. After Conor's death, something changed within me, and I realized that while I needed to heed social distancing and safety rules (of course), I could no longer keep to the limits of my house and neighborhood. The thought of a road trip and a race lifted the heavy feelings of despair I didn't even realize had come to settle on me morning, noon and night. I no longer feel like breaking down for every little thing, which is not normal for me. As always, Yuan has been super supportive, and is just fine with hanging around the house. Last weekend we went to South Dakota, and I won all three days. I also got to see Iowa and South Dakota for the first time, so that was a blast! 

In running news around here, our treadmill came in! Woohoo! The original store we ordered it from kept pushing back delivery month after month, so we finally ordered straight from ProForm and it came in two weeks! We got the Pro 5000, and I love that it has an incline and a decline, which is pretty cool for training. It also has a big tablet as a screen. Yuan put it together and tested out the power the other day, so now I think we just need to turn it on and calibrate some things and it should be good to go! I am especially excited about having a warmer place to run in during the winter months. Running while staring out at the snow seems like a much better option for this Houston transplant! This is it:

The most massive box I've ever seen haha! 

Yuan working on it late at night. He was determined! 👍💓

The source of the love/hate relationship in all its glory. 😍😈😆😅



source




This is the screen (source)


If this year has taught me anything, it's that life is precious. I've been keeping in touch with my family and friends on a regular basis, and have been really thankful for them. I've also distanced myself from friends who are toxic, and despite how turbulent this last year and a half has been, I've found myself happier than I've been in a long time. I don't know why I should have been surprised at that, but when you live most of your life not knowing how to recognize toxicity and/or separate yourself from it, you start either believing what toxic people say, or constantly questioning yourself. I'm very grateful that I can recognize it now, and I love how happy I've been, so much so that never again will I allow people like that into my life. Here's some toxic friend bingo, courtesy of Reddit lol!

source

I hope you guys are all having a good week, full of running or riding or whatever makes your hearts happy. I've got a big 'ol treadmill box to cut up, so until later, happy mileage! 😎 

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.


source

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.

source

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
source