WOW! January 2010 is already over and I'm still writing this piece. Actually this has just been sitting here in my drafts and I've had a note that I needed to write. Now over a month later, here we go!
Riding and Racing:
Tony & I had talked over some T1R things towards the end of 2008, and both of us wanted 09 to "make progress". T had been gracious enough to let me race on the team for a couple of years and as my interest in bigger and longer races had grown, I decided it was time to put more effort into a full season. I set some pretty lofty goals and knew the learning curve would be steep -- I say this b/c I've been riding & running for a few years now, but mostly for general fitness to stay in shape for climbing trips... not in any true manner to have a "racers" build or power. But, I also knew it would be fun!
09 racing started with a foray into cyclocross for my first time. LOVE IT but I absolutely get my tail kicked! The colder, wetter, muddier, and more technical the course... the better chance I seem to have. Yet, I was still plagued by little nuances that are typical of cyclo -- people running into one another, caked drivetrains, bent parts, etc. Most of the winter season I ran in the back half of the pack, but I realized very quickly how much fun I was having! It was 22 degrees. I was covered in mud. I had 4 of 18 gears. I wanted to puke and we still had 20 more min's to go. Get the point? (yes, I have a sadistic personality at times!)
At the beginning of Feb I received my "Yippee" card from Leadville for the 100mtb race... and a large part of the rest of my season was built around being ready for that race. Along the way, Tony & I hit some races together where we both had great results @ a 6hr race in GA (this started Tony's run to the series title by the end of the year), and I finished my first 24hr race (not pretty, but I handled it and my bg's were good!).
During the middle of the summer, I hit a time where I was pressed really hard for training time. My mid-week rides weren't quite as long as they needed to be for a number of weeks, and I was often limited to 1 long weekend ride instead of the 2 I needed to be doing. I was also not getting enough sleep... this showed up a few days prior to and the morning of Cowbell. Though I came out of the weekend with a 12th in the marathon and a 5th in the XC, it made me realize I needed to be resting more.
Leadville... I think I've discussed this at length. The engine was bigger this year, but still not big enough. Bg's were good, but I think the gas tank ran a little too empty too early. I adjusted to the altitude well but 12.5K feet is tough... BUT I will say that I TRULY understood the beauty of the 29er vs a 26er climbing up Columbine. The greatest highlight of that effort was the support of such great friends and family that were there and keeping tabs on me as I pushed my limits in what is truly the coolest (and original) 100 mile mtb race in the country!
After the LT, I intended to ride the NC Fall cyclo series. Did the first two races and guess what? Tired. No pop in the legs. No power at all. I was fried. Time to recoup, cross train, and enjoy some fall "play" weather. I was a little disappointed, but I've learned to recognize the signs and needs of my body.
Other Events, Activities, and Thoughts:
I missed the JDRF Ride to Cure this year and that really didn't sit well with me. I did the Death Valley ride in 07 & 08, but with the financial struggles that everyone was facing in 09 and having a number of contributors strapped I opted to do some other rides.
And that was a good choice in the end b/c a group of us got together and did the 24 Hours of Booty charity event in Charlotte. We've all been touched by cancer somehow in our lives... relatives, people we know, friends... It was such a great, inspirational event and will be on my yearly "to do" list every time I have the chance!
Both Liz & I took the trip down to FL to help with the DESA Sports Central portion of CWD's Friends for Life conference. Each and every year this event inspires me. Every new child, sibling, or parent I meet reminds me how large yet close knit our diabetes community really is. It's heart-warming to see a kid smile when you get to... talk to them, check bg's at the same time (sometimes eat a snack or bolus as an adjustment), and then play a game, shoot basketball, hit volleyball, or just hang out... and they realize in many ways you're not that different than them. It is here that I try to make the point that "Testing is just testing. It's not a pass/fail, good or bad. But you need to know the number to be able to figure out the correct action to take." And how can I also not admit how fun it is to hang out with long time friends like Judith & Dani Ambrosini, Bill King, Rick Philbin, Doug B, Joe E, Laura, Lauren, Monica, Sarah, and so many others.
During the summer I also had to recert for my Wilderness First Responder to stay current. No matter how many times I take this course, I always learn something new and interesting during the 8 days of coursework... which involves 3-4 mock rescue scenarios that are only limited by the imaginations of the instructors. A big thanks to Phil from WMA and all my classmates for making it such a great session!
As the year entered the holiday season, my family had to face the passing of my grandmother on my mom's side of the family. My grandmother (Nannie) was a Type 2 diabetic and had been for a long time. For many years she could manage her glucose levels with oral medications. Yet, even with pretty good bg's, it has been evident over the past 5-10 years that she had physiological damage attributable to diabetes (i.e. poor circulation, some kidney damage, peripherial nerve damage, etc.). And at the same time, I'm not afraid to say, she was a stubborn strong-willed woman. Many times over the years I had talked to her about testing her bg's more than she was and "the path" she was going down. Still, she did as she chose and had a great time during her life. I will miss having her in my life, but know that she lived a full life of her own. The memories, lessons, and ideals she taught will always be with me and the rest of my family.
During all of the events surrounding Nannie's passing, I got a phone call saying I needed to be back in Cary, NC for the REI staff meeting. I've worked part-time at the store since 2000 in camping, climbing, cycling, footwear, action sports, and clothing. Despite the timing, I made the effort to be there, partly b/c I needed a mental break and change of scenery. To my great surprise that night, they announced the store's Anderson Award winner -- a peer-chosen award that goes to the staff member that "best represents the core values & ideals of REI within the store". I was both shocked and very humbled by the honor, much the same as when I was awarded the 2005 LifeScan-DESA Athletic Achievement award. To have my friends chose me for such a notable award as "the representation" was almost too much that weekend. It drove home the fact that I don't test and push myself for notoriety, but rather just to show folks they can do whatever they choose to try. An old mentor drove the point home with me a long time ago that it's better to "lead by example" than to talk your way through the game. As part of the Anderson award, I get to spend some time this summer in Seattle, WA touring, sight-seeing, and playing in the Pac NW!
Lastly and b/c I can't forget this at all... I owe a huge thank you to my girlfriend Liz. It truly amazes me every day the effort and support she has shown. I know, I know... that's what people that love you do. But still. She's definitely called me "crazy" a number of times (yes Tony, like you, she doesn't understand my sadistic love of the cold!), yet she refused not to be at every event or race or important moment during the year that she could make. It happened quite frequently that her smiling face would pull me out of my "mental dungeon" when deep into an event and I would find new energy I didn't realize was there, even with all the other motivations I "utilize". And at Christmas, she and one of my best friends Carlleena, went to great lengths to give me one of the best gifts I could have ever asked for.... Liz purchased a one of a kind painting called "Colorado" that Carlleena painted after being on my support crew for the LT100.
As you can tell... it was a really good year! And now that we're almost 2 months deep into 2010, I can hint at the fact that this one is on track to be just as good, if not better. Oh yeah, and don't think "the brain has stopped working". It never does. I don't believe I'll race quite as much in 2010 as last year, but it's all aiming towards a long term goal, so stay tuned!
Take care --J