Odds and Ends

The temperatures have dipped the last few days, and Benji and I haven’t been able to ride our bike to school all week. If I was commuting alone, I’d probably give it a shot (except Tuesday, when there was definitely ice and black ice), but with Benji, trying to ride to school in 20-degree weather, it’s just too difficult to keep him warm. I know lots of hardy parents in Scandinavian countries and colder parts of our country take their kids out in the 20s, but… we’re Washingtonians. We trust that waiting a few days will bring us more temperate temperatures and comfier riding.

Meanwhile, Benji had another Special Day at school, and he got to bring home the (presumably extremely germy — excuse me while I go wash my hands for a moment) class stuffed animal, Mr. Moose. Benji taught him about Advent Calendars and “shared” some of his morning chocolate.

Benji and Mr Moose and Advent Calendar

Every morning when he wakes up — remember, this happens some time between 5:30 and 6:00 — Benji leaps out of bed and yells, “YUM!” and then, dashing downstairs, yells, “YUM, YUM, YUMMY YUM YUM!” Blessed quiet follows, then, as he concentrates on opening the little Advent Calendar door and extracting and unwrapping the chocolate.

I’ve certainly enjoyed pie for breakfast, and I’ll never say no to a good chocolate croissant; but eating straight chocolate first thing? Even my sweet tooth quails at the prospect. And nobody could ever accuse me of turning down chocolate.

I love desserts, and generally consume too much sugar, a weakness combated entirely by the fact that I ride my bike a fair bit. Although, as previously noted, not so much when it’s very cold out. I actually did ride my trainer yesterday, but it was a really halfhearted attempt, and my toes never warmed up even though I never left the garage.

I may have to switch to running (these workouts don’t sound too bad), or at least get my mind back back in the game for some trainer intervals. It’s a bummer time of year for cycling, even for someone as willing to ride in the rain as I can be. Call me crazy, but I’m not willing to ride in potentially icy or slushy conditions, nor am I willing to incur permanent nerve damage by riding in 36-degree rain for hours at a time.

In Unrelated News

I applied for a new job at a software company called Tamarac, located in downtown Seattle. I’ve worked closely with and really like one of the support people there, and she said she’ll put in a good word for me. I’ve got my fingers crossed — although if I did get an offer, that’d have its own challenges (namely: What the heck do we do with our child while I’m working?!). I’m going to just give it a shot and see what happens, and trust that God has a plan one way or another.

And, um, if you’re a stay-at-home mom who’d like to earn a few extra bucks by watching my darling son while I’m working… let me know. 🙂

Disparities

Day’s Verse:
You yourselves are all the endorsement we need. Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.
2 Corinthians 3:2-3ish

Our son is due in a month and a half — that’s right, August 14, a mere 50 days from today — but because I continue to wear the same clothes, I keep having weird disparities between my mental image of my body shape and reality. I keep underestimating how much space I’ll need to squeeze between things, for example, so instead of just slipping through that crack, I find myself awkwardly caught and looking ridiculous. At this point I never forget I’m pregnant, but my mental image hasn’t quite caught up with this yet.

As a result, I think of myself looking like this:
Before

When I actually look like this:
After 2

This is like one of those “What’s different between the pictures?” activities they have in Highlights for Children. Setting aside the obvious, like a different background (since I couldn’t go to Mt. St. Helens for picture #2), you’d be absolutely right if you said:

  • Tires
  • Gloves
  • Under-saddle bag
  • Water bottles
  • Katie’s legs are way less buff and tan than last year

But of course you’d really be missing the point.

Continue reading “Disparities”

Losing a Love

Day’s Verse:
This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends.
John 15:12

Today I’m going to write about love: Losing a love, gaining a love. In short, I’m going to talk about bicycling and pregnancy, which is on my mind every day.

Since December, I’ve known that this year wasn’t going to be what I expected, athletically. In October I joined Team Group Health with the full intention of training hard, going out, and kicking butt. My main goal was to upgrade to Cat 3 by the end of the season, which would involve racing frequently and well. Riding with the team, I exulted in finding a group of strong, fast women who could push me to my limits. I eagerly anticipated a season of training hard, getting stronger and faster, learning new skills, and then really using them. And I really started enjoying the camaraderie of the team, getting to know these amazing athletes, working hard with them and then laughing with them.

It’s hard to explain what it feels like to lose this future, even in exchange for another, more meaningful future.

One high-performance woman athlete I talked with, who herself is pregnant and due in April, told me, “You have to go through a mourning process as you give up your sport. You’re losing a love.” When she said that, it resonated with me. Yes.

Bicycling is a huge part of who I am, how I define myself. It’s been my bread and butter for the last two years, as well as my passion. With cycling, I’ve discovered depths to myself that I never knew existed. I have pushed what I thought were my limits, and found strength to go far beyond them — in 2011, I rode almost 10,000 miles and did two of the major ultra-distance rides in Washington State. I never would have guessed I could do that. I looked forward to learning more about myself in 2012, taking on this new challenge of racing.

So far pregnancy hasn’t dramatically changed my physical appearance, but I’ve already had to cut back on the type of riding I do to ensure the fetus’ health — cut, and cut, and cut. Even so, I push the limits all the time. Be conservative. I’m responsible for another life, after all.

Having to do this kind of riding erodes my riding buddy pool: I’m riding easier, shorter, and slower, just as everybody I know is gear up to ride harder, longer, and faster. Who wants to ride at a conversational pace, when racing is about riding so hard you’ve got nothing left at the end? And I feel my fitness eroding, and I have to let it slip away.

And now, not only do I say farewell to racing, watching my teammates prepare for the first races of the season, but I know that the day is coming when I won’t be able to ride at all. It’s like contemplating the loss of a limb, or one of my senses. As if I knew in advance that I was going to be paralyzed for life, that it was coming, and that I’m powerless to stop it — knowing, in fact, that I chose it.

Whether I’ll ride again, let alone with the same strength and passion for a challenge that I do now, remains unknown. Who can know what happens after August, when Little Ferguson makes its appearance? I may never regain that part of who I am, or not regain it in the way I have it now. I’m giving up that future and that part of myself, and it’s terribly hard.

Oh, yes, I’ve heard it from all sides: Parenting is wonderful. It’s the most rewarding thing you could possibly do. Your priorities will change once the baby comes. It’s all worth it. I don’t doubt this truth; at the moment, I doubt my own ability to accept it. People telling me these things act like this should comfort me somehow, or that my being upset at losing high-performance cycling in exchange for being pregnant is somehow wrong. Who would want to ride a bike when they could have a baby? Well, I’ve never cared about babies or longed to be a mother, but I have derived many hours of joy from bicycling. “It’s so worth it” isn’t any consolation for me at the moment.

I’m sure it’ll all be worth it in August, but that doesn’t make the pain of giving up this love any less right now. And, oh, it is painful.

Katie & Ian at the Summit

[16Feb2012] Edit to add:
1. If I have given the impression that I’m unhappy with having this baby, or that I don’t want to have our baby, I’d like to put your fears to rest. Ian and I are looking forward to being parents, and I feel that overall this is exactly what I would have hoped and wished for, if I could’ve had my ideal situation. I’m glad to be pregnant now, and I’m getting ready to be a good mommy. This post is not about that. It’s about part of the journey towards accepting change, and how I’m having to evolve my view of who I am as my life changes. Change, even good change like becoming a parent, is hard.
2. I would really like to hear about your experiences of having kids: What did you have to give up? What unexpected things happened that were hard to adapt to? How did you deal with it?

Grid Legs

Day’s Verse:
How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him.
Ephesians 1:3

This is what you get when you wear lightweight long pants on an extremely rainy team ride. The pants have an almost indistinguishable grid pattern of thickness in the fabric, with slightly thinner lines and slightly thicker squares.

Rainy Ride Legs

After 73.3 miles of drenching my legs in water and road filth, apparently enough dirt had worked its way into the slightly thinner sections to leave a nice grid on my legs after I removed the pants. What this picture doesn’t show is how tired I was when I dripped my way home, and the misery of post-ride sore knees that has come to haunt me again. Ian did get me a Kidd Valley milk shake and fries, though, which sure helped me feel better.

If you’re wondering, don’t worry, I had shorts on for the picture. Also, don’t mind the stubbly appearance of my legs — that’s an optical illusion created by the camera’s focus. Really. And, last but not least, I’ll be working on alleviating some of that wintry pastiness next week on our vacation in Hawaii.

Welcome, Garmin Edge 800

Day’s Verse:
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
James 1:2-4

I have NaNoWriMo brain right now, but I’m shifting gears because I want to talk briefly about the replacement I bought for my sad, squashed Garmin Edge 605.

REI is having a 20% off sale right now, so I decided to go there and buy a Garmin Edge 800. Garmin has changed their Edge lineup significantly, and the 800 is the only one that still displays maps, a feature I really want (as per my 2008 blog post, Directionally Inhibited). As it turns out, the 20% off excluded “devices using GPS,” so I didn’t get my $90 off. As REI members we’ll still get $45 back at the end of the year, though, so that’s something. Plus I was able to obtain it in time for the Sunday’s ride. After a mere one day on the data wagon, I fell back off again, gladly.

I bought the Edge 800 on Saturday afternoon after we finished moving dirt. I used it on my short Sunday ride, and while out Monday and Tuesday for errands. I have not yet used the navigation features, but I can speak to using the device in general. Oh, and I didn’t buy the heart rate monitor, cadence monitor, power meter, or rocket pack, either.

My experience so far with the Edge 800 all by itself:

1. I love the touch screen. I always found the little toggle button on the 605 irritating to use, but got used to it because in 2008, when I bought it, touch screens weren’t exactly mainstream. Now if it’s not touchscreen, you wonder why not. Garmin did pretty well with the touchscreen features; my only complaint is the hard-to-use vertical scrolling. But being able to change the data display by pressing and holding more than makes up for any annoyances.
2. The elevation data is noticeably more reliable. By now I have a sense of how big hills are, and about how many feet I can expect to climb on a given ride. My 605 would report head-inflatingly large climbing values, I think because it relied entirely on GPS satellites for vertical data. The 800 (like all new Garmin bike computers, I think) uses a barometer for a more accurate elevation estimate.
3. The user interface is improved. Features are listed in logical places. Sometimes the sub-menus seem excessive, but mostly they’ve organized it into many menus with a few sub-menu options each. This may be annoying in the future, when I don’t want to go 4 menus deep to simply turn a thing on or off again. That said, on to number 4.
4. There are many shortcuts to the most frequently used features, so you don’t have to go 4 menus deep to change those features.
5. The device itself feels sturdy and well-built, although I’m skeptical about whether it can take the same kind of beating my 605 took before finally giving up the ghost. Being a touchscreen, I won’t be able to abuse the screen as thoroughly as I did with the 605.
6. It finds satellites just fine.
7. I like that I can put my own background picture on it. That is a neat feature. The background in the screen shots, below, is I took in Ashland this summer.

Here are some screen shots (yet another neat feature).
The home menu.

Main training screen.

Second training screen.

Settings menu.

Training screen sub-menu.

Training screen sub-sub menu. This would be annoying, except that the navigation goes quickly thanks to the touchscreen.

Summary: I’ll have to see how the navigation features work before I confirm that it’s worth $450 + sales tax. But so far it’s performed well and I anticipate that, once I get used to the screen configuration, I’ll find it as useful a tool as its predecessor. (I would set the screens up the same as my old one, but despite having looked at the old one thousands of times, I still can’t remember exactly what went where. I just know when I look at this new configuration that data isn’t displayed quite right.)

Points for Creativity, Anyway

Day’s Verse:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.
Hebrews 11:1-2ish

On Saturday, Dad and I went for a bike ride. It was a nice ride, to be sure, a lovely day to spend on two wheels. Partway through, we met up with a couple of other people we knew. One of them is a big guy, the kind of guy you meet biking sometimes: Sculpted cyclist legs, extremely well-padded up top (so to speak). Because it was a warm day, he had his jersey unzipped all the way, exposing his not inconsiderable chest. (Personally, I only very rarely unzip my jerseys, because of a couple unhappy bee incidents that you may remember me blogged about, here and here.)

That aside, we’re riding along and it’s hot. On hot days, school teams often have fund-raising car washes. Whenever we ride by, they inevitably shout, “Bike wash! We’ll wash your bike!” As if I’d trust my sealed bearings to their tender ministrations! Anyway, as we rode into Monroe, we passed a boys’ lacrosse team’s car wash.

Of course, the boys shouted: “Bike wash!” Ho, hum. Then they shouted again: “We’ll wash your chest!”

The big guy behind me said: “Did they just offer to WASH MY CHEST?!”

I laughed and said: “Better yours than mine!”

I’m sure those high school boys would’ve preferred to wash my chest, but yes, I’m pretty sure they were offering to wash the big guy. Anyway, that has got to be the oddest thing anybody’s shouted at us in a long time.