Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What is the meaning of life?

Whatever you want it to be.

That was the question/answer on a card I wrote today. I love it. It couldn’t be more true.

This week has been nuts in the most awesome way. It started Saturday and has been pretty much, well, great, every day since. I don’t even know where to START! After such an incredible weekend, I began to reflect inward a little bit. Last month I mentioned a few things about how our attitude is everything. I am starting to see the difference my positive thinking is making on my life and my actions. Not only is it helping me to see the brighter side of things more easily, but I can see it in my confidence as well. I’ve been making decisions recently that are the direct result of more confidence in my feelings and direction I want to be going. It feels so good to make a decision and not question it or wonder if I should be doing it differently.

I looked at a blog post I remembered writing almost a year ago to this day. I was feeling pretty alone here in Sonoma County. Frustrated that my relationship with my students at the YMCA wasn’t forming immediately (patience is something I constantly work on). A little disappointed in my Oceanside 70.3 race (btw GOOD LUCK TO YOU FOLKS RACING!). Missing my friends in Berkeley and Oakland. Lamenting on my former life.

A year later, I can honestly say my life and outlook are 180 degrees from where they were one year ago. Take spin: several hours later, I am STILL on a high from spin class this morning. A year ago I was doing everything I could to look forward to spin on Mondays. And a year ago, when I was stoked that spin was 85% full? This morning’s class was full by 5:35 a.m. - for a 6 a.m. class. As I think about why I feel so fulfilled by teaching spin, I realize it’s something that I have worked so hard for. The comments from my post last week about Wednesdays were interesting to me. People seemed surprised that I’m always changing up the workout and playlist. But just like the quote at the top of my post today says: you get out of things whatever you put into them.

One of the things I know I am good at and love doing is building relationships and friendships. In spite of that, I am also impatient. The former takes time and yet, my personality likes things to happen YESTERDAY! Especially when I get EXCITED!

Just as it took a good 6 months for my relationships to really deepen with my spin students, it’s taken time for me to build my community here in Santa Rosa. To build friendships. To figure out what I wanted out of my new life up here. But I was so thrilled to be moving up here, to get out on my bike and learn every road in Sonoma County, to enjoy all this beautiful place has to offer, I think I expected it all to happen overnight.

I’m kind of interested to go back to another post from March of 2008 where I said:

After this year, who knows? As much as I love this sport and love the fitness that comes along with it, there are a lot of other things I'm interested in doing. I'm interested in cooking more. I'm interested in growing a garden to use my own veggies. I'm interested in becoming fluent in Spanish. I'm interested in reading more. I'm interested in getting into cycling racing. I'm interested in more yoga. I'm interested in learning more about web design and learning CSS. I may even be interested in running a marathon at some point.

I don't think I'll give up triathlon after this year, I just think I'll back off the intensity and just have fun with it. Pick a couple key races to do every year and do them for fun.

Kind of funny to look back on that! I was already gearing up for 2009 and yet, a few months ago, I was STRUGGLING SO MUCH with the idea of letting go! A WHOLE YEAR AGO I KNEW what I wanted. And yet up until about last week I was still hanging on to the last threads of somehow feeling like I NEED to do triathlon. Or that I NEED to run.

Yet the only thing getting in my way of pursuing other, just-as-exciting things was ME. Life is what you make it.

Now that I’ve set the stage (no this post isn’t over yet), let’s look back at what I said in March 2008 that I wanted to do:

  1. Cooking more – have to say I’ve been really lazy lately. Haven’t been posting recipes at all lately and my cooking has lacked pizzazz. Time to step it up! I’m going to try and plan at least two great meals a week that involve a little more extended time in the kitchen. I’ve got PLENTY of inspiration from JP and Devon!
  2. Garden – possibly working on doing a community garden with Carmen, yeah!
  3. Spanish – nada. Still have to table that one for a little while.
  4. Reading more – reading at least 15 min a day from a BOOK and it’s working out great! (in addition to Bicycling…New Yorker…Gourmet…Swimmer…)
  5. More yoga – yes! I’ve totally picked this up this year! Going to keep rockin’ that one…
  6. Web design and CSS – another one to be tabled. Maybe someday…
  7. Marathon – nope, certainly not right now.
  8. Cycling Racing – funny this should come up…

On the topic of road racing: last week on that FANTASTIC Riviera Ride from West County Revolution (an absolute MUST for anybody remotely nearby – I will let you know the details for the next one), I met a woman named Laurel Green. I told her about my desire to race this season and she said “Do you have a team?” I said “No.” Her: “Want one?” Me: “well…YEAH!”

Laurel is running a development team for women in their first year of road racing. How PERFECT! As the ride went on we spoke more about what’s required and what I could expect to get out of this experience. The result? All that’s left for me to do is send my team dues in. Count me IN!

Besides it being a great ride for finding myself being recruited to a racing team, it was truly one of the most gorgeous days in Sonoma County I’ve seen this year so far. A perfect day for riding, and boy did we RIDE! I found myself feeling feisty and got into a few pacelines and attacking up a few hills. It hurt SO good. I posted the pics below!

After and incredible lunch at Riviera, that evening I went to my FIRST professional hockey game! We watched the Sharks beat the Phoenix team. GO SHARKS! It was awesome. And I couldn’t believe they just LET them keep fighting!

Sunday I did more riding with Soda. She came up around 2 p.m. and we set off to do about a 40 mile, 2 hr mostly flat ride. Well…it ended up being 53 miles and 2 hrs 40 min. Oops. We got into Occidental and she had never turned right on Bohemian Hwy from there. We were both on TT bikes and I said “oh…Soda…that is THE BEST ROAD FOR A TT BIKE! YOU WILL FEEL LIKE YOU ARE FLYING!” I thought we’d go down from there to Monte Rio and take River Road in – a long flat ride back – perfect, right?

Kind of. We enjoyed Bohemian Hwy all the way down. We hit upwards of 3o mph! Once we were on River Road about 4 miles from Guerneville, we were moving along at a nice clip of about 21-22 mph. I was letting Soda do all the pulling since she’s the one racing next week. :) I decided to kick it into my big ring and slow down the cadence a tad. As I pulled the left gear toward me, it, well…kept pulling back! “What the hell?” I thought. I looked down and my chain had gone nowhere. Damn. Front derailleur cable had snapped! Still, worse things could have happened. With no bike store in Guerneville, we decided to just focus on getting back. I didn’t want to slow Soda down so I just decided I’d practice my spinning all the way home (I should also point out I couldn’t shift up to any of the last 3 gears on my rear cog because the chain would start rubbing against the front derailleur, so I was pretty much stuck with one gear on the flat).

Home – guess I kind of forgot it’s about 20 miles from Guerneville. Oh well, we still managed to do about 19 mph with my legs spinning the whole entire way!

Once we got there I had planned on doing an easy 20 minute run with her afterward. As we embarked down the block, my legs were SCREAMING. The thought of running another 18 minutes seemed like a feat I would not be able to conquer today. I apologized and told her I just had no strength left in my legs. All in all, it was a great ride and I definitely wasn’t concerned about missing out on the run.

This week started off really well, too. Monday spin was great. Went to yoga that evening and it felt so good but my legs were still hating me and for the first time in a LONG time I had to come out of my warrior poses to massage my quads! Oooohhh so sore.

Tuesday, in spite of still sore legs, I willed myself to go out at lunch at get a 20 minute run in. I won’t lie. The first 10 minutes sucked eggs. I spent every step plotting how I was going to describe the pain in my blog entry. The muscles right above my knees especially – just so tight. I’m wondering if that’s soreness from using the TT bike which I haven’t ridden in months? After the first 10 minutes it wasn’t so bad, but folks…it was dreadfully slow! I haven’t run that slow in AGES!

I sort of smiled about it all. Perhaps doing a 10K in two weeks might be out of the question. Of course I have the cardio strength for it but not sure my legs have it. And honestly…I don’t really care. I am really beginning to think that I may just take a total break from triathlon this season. I am TOTALLY FINE WITH THIS, FOR THE FIRST TIME ALL YEAR! On my ride on Saturday, about 20 minutes before I spoke with Laurel, I said to Lee “you know…I think I might just be okay if I really just focused on bike, swim and yoga this year.” Kind of funny how it all worked out.

Life is like that. It seems to work itself out. Things don’t always happen as quick as we want them to, but I am coming to the full realization that if you just set some goals and gain a clear understanding of what it is you really want, put it out there for the universe to hear, and work at it, everything will be okay. Obviously there are always hiccups and roadblocks along the way, but nobody ever said succeeding was easy. I know more times than not I wish life were easier, but when I look at the big picture I know that life really is good and I can make it into whatever I want. I like that.


Kelly said...

Yay to learning to be ok with what you want!

Anonymous said...

This is something I struggle with a lot. I'm glad we're carpooling on Friday - we can talk about this stuff. I've been here for year but still haven't gotten that feeling you're describing. And now, I'm staring at my future: trying to sort out my job situation and just figure out my life and it's scary and it's hard and I don't know, 100%, what I *want* to do versus what I feel obligated to do.

I want to become a better spin teacher because I don't get out of it what I used to anymore. But because I don't get out of it the thrill very often, it's hard to push for that.

I want to get better on a bike because it is SO hard for me. Even on my crappy bike, I should be able to do *something*.

I feel little lost still. I'm glad I have you here in town - I know it's sad, but I don't have a lot of FRIENDS here, just a ton of acquaintances. But I'm really glad to have one in you.

beth said...

ahhhh....patience. sounds like you are starting to get some...can you send some over here?
i love how you are listening to yourself and what you really want to do, not what you think you should do or people expect of you.
that is totally courageous :)

amy said...

I'm so glad I got to meet you and ride with you on Saturday! And I'm really glad you wrote this post and linked back to your older posts. Perfect timing! I can learn a lot from it, so thank you! And best of luck to you in your pursuits this year - you will rock them. :) Hope to ride together soon!

Carolina John said...

yea let everything work itself out. go for what you want, make something happen if you want it to happen. everything else will work itself out.

i'm struggling with scheduling right now to get enough workouts in. very timely post! thanks

jameson said...

it sounds like things are going really well.. awesome.

but... you do need to get on the food/recipe blogs... and so do I! Thanks for the reminder... JP and Devon are always killing it!

Shan said...

Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes! LOVE this post! I'm right with you on this Sarah - do what you WANT and do what you LOVE, and everything will fall into place :).

See you SOON! Can't wait to go on some epic bike rides!!!

Kathleen @ ForgingAhead said...

What a beautiful post Sarah! I'm so glad that you're happy and things are unfolding in a good and fun way. I totally agree with the put it out to the universe way of living. Sometimes I forget, but when I remember then life inevitably gets that much better!

rocketpants said...

Some great perspective, but sometimes it takes time to get there. Moving to a new city can be hard and takes time and we all just want it to *happen* right away...the familiarity...the 'normalcy'...but it happens with time. You are getting there.

I'm glad to see that you have let go of your expectation that you need to do a triathlon...when deep down you don't really want to. The idea of 'should' sometimes hinders us all. You sound like you are finding what you want and are happy with that.

PunkRockRunner said...

Great post Sarah!

You have an amazing outlook on life and how to live it.

Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

All the best!

Christine Thien-An Nguyen said...

Sarah, I really enjoyed reading this entry and found it really inspirational!

Rainmaker said...

Holy cow you packed that post. You can no longer -ever- give me crap about putting out long posts. ;)

I hear ya though on things to do. I'm the same right - right now it's triathlon, but at some point if I have a place that has space, it might be gardening. Like you, I'm interested in tons of things, but just don't have the time for them all.

Funny you mention Spanish, I bought the DVD's back a few months ago...but not so much success on the actually learning front. Someday...

Benson said...

I need some of that to rub off on me.