Friday, December 31, 2010

Staying Focused

Most of my quality thinking happens on the bike. It's often a big chunk of my day and I look forward to that time. Something about being on a bike, often alone, on a quiet road gives you the opportunity to just be alone with your thoughts.

I've been in Chicago for the past week visiting family. While it's has been a lot of fun catching up with people training has not. Partly because I'm a cold weather sissy and partly because the roads are icy and not totally clear (for my liking anyway), I've been spending some quality time on the rollers.

My teammate Sam is actually the expert in this area, but I'm going to go ahead and discuss it anyway. Riding rollers is tough. It's tough to get focused and stay focused while you're going nowhere. The feeling of being a gerbil on a wheel is definitely present- riding your bike, staring at a wall, or a TV, listening to your iPod and not covering any actual ground. Time slows to a crawl and you notice everything- the seam of your sock is twisted, your chamois cream is cold, bar tape isn't perfectly wrapped anymore. All these things seem to have neon signs drawing attention to the "problem" that needs to be fixed. Outside on the road, these things all go unnoticed.

I have two tricks that help me get through roller rides, and they're actually contradictory. First, turn your brain off. Get into a Zen-like mental state where you sort of turn your brain off and just ride. You're not aware of anything, yet completely self aware- you don't want to fall off the rollers- during your ride. The rhythm of your cadence, heartbeat and breathing all help to get into groove. Soon enough, you're done!

The second, is to think about everything! It's like going on an adventure in your head- Yes, that can be scary at times- but just start in one place and, like a conversation, follow the path. Don't force anything. Think about wherever your mind takes you. This method is how I get to thinking about outer space, the confines of space, how many other planets have life and why haven't we made contact with them, who are the people in my life that I should get back in contact with, what my grandmother is doing this weekend and so on. Everything leads to something else, and you may find that you get quite a bit of good, quality thinking done in that time.

Like riding your bike, it takes training to get to the point where you can either turn your brain off, or turn it on warp speed. If you're like most Americans, you'll probably have the weather for lots of quality roller time this winter. Stick it out, it'll pay off in the spring when you're out on the road and killing it. Happy riding!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Resolution?

Starting today- it's technically Wednesday already- I'm going to update this blog three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Call it a resolution, a goal, or just being more responsible with thing, but regardless of what you call it, I'm going to do this. As of today, Mondays will be a training recap, "Wildcard Wednesdays" will be a bit of everything and Fridays will be a bit of everything, but mainly pertaining to life as an athlete. I didn't like any of the clever names beginning with an F so it's just Friday for now. The two ideas that were shot down were "Friday Fun Day" and "Frisky Friday".

Name suggestions are welcome and encouraged, as are topics for entries and any questions you may have.

Here's a little update: I'm back in Chicago for a little visit with the fam. Nadia came out to Colorado Springs for a day to see the city, then drive back with me. In the day she was there, she saw everything the COS has to offer. Admittedly, it's not much at all, and we didn't feel like we missed out on anything at all. The drive in was uneventful which is good, I suppose, when you're driving 1100 miles in one go. There was some pretty impressive freezing fog between the Springs and Denver. The grasses and trees looked like they'd been coated with a perfect amount of frost. Or sprayed with a fire extinguisher. One or the other.

We celebrated Christmas with the whole family- aunts, uncles, Nanee- my grandmother, and the kids. We took our Christmas card photo on Christmas which will be sent out for the New Year. (Timing isn't exactly our strong suit.) We actually look pretty good if I do say so myself.

Because it's quite cold and very snowy outside, I've been riding the rollers inside while watching movies. It's a bummer to ride inside, but it's better than freezing my little toes off. And now, I can catch up on my movie watching. Speaking of which, Nadia and I went to the theatre yesterday to see The King's Speech. I highly recommend it! Colin Firth is fantastic, and Helena Bonham Carter and Geoffrey Rush also play terrific roles. Go see it.

That's all for now. Check back on Friday!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Biggest Fear

I know I don’t know all of you that well, and maybe we’re not at the point in our friendship where we voice our hopes and fears, but I’m going to anyway. I’ll start with one of my biggest fears- breaking or losing my teeth. I’m not scared of snakes or spiders, although I found a spider in my bed once and didn’t like that very much, but the fear of damaging my teeth is very, very real.

As a child, my baby teeth fell out as expected but instead of nice, Chiclet shaped adult teeth growing into a movie star smile, the teeth that grew in were… less than beautiful. In actuality, I had a bunch of crooked, gapped teeth that didn’t quite fit in my mouth. An eighteen-wheeler could have driven between my front teeth. Because of this horrific situation, I was sent to the orthodontist for some work. They did everything from expanding my skull to make room for all my teeth and tongue to fit in my mouth at the same time- I’m very happy that my tongue doesn’t hang out of my mouth like a dog’s- to the traditional braces and retainers. This went on for six years. Yes, six years of my life were spent with some type of orthodontic apparatus glued to my teeth. These six years spanned the 3rd to 8th grades.

Because I spent six years of my life with braces, I’ve grown to value dental hygiene and health. I brush and use mouthwash everyday and even floss sometimes. That's right, floss. This devotion to dental hygiene is based in fear. I’m terrified that by not brushing my teeth, they will rot and fall out of my face and I would look like a white trash hillbilly. Not even my Colbert sweater could make up for a missing tooth and it’s the most pretentious piece of clothing I own.

Because I’m in control of my dental hygiene, it is the lesser of this two-part fear. More importantly, I’m afraid of breaking or knocking out a tooth- or, Chicken forbid, teeth. Playing soccer for 12 years, I took my fair share of hits to the face, and the fear was nearly crippling. Cycling, I fear that I’ll break teeth in a crash and it’s usually the first thing I check when I hit the ground. Again, this is mainly because I don’t want to look like a hillbilly.

You’re probably thinking to yourself “This Greta sure is vain.” Well, maybe I am, but I really, really care about my teeth. Part of this fear is the part where the teeth actually break. While I’m sure this is quite painful, it’s a minimal component of my fear. Mainly, I’m terrified of the aftermath. Having broken/missing teeth and holes in my smile is not something I want to experience. I’m far too young for dentures or caps, and putting my teeth in a jar at night is simply not an option. Given the choice however, I would choose a fake tooth over a dead, grey tooth still attached.

I’d really hate for my six years of orthodontic torture to go to waste because of a silly thing like a bike crash, or tooth rot. My parents made quite the financial investment in this smile of mine, and I invested hours of stress and dental pain- a far greater cost than any amount of money if you ask me- and it just doesn’t seem right to have to fix it again. Because losing my teeth is a constant threat, it only adds to my fear which I worry it may have reached an irrational level. I will continue to live in constant fear of losing my teeth, but I assure you, I’m doing everything in my power keep all of them intact.