Family-Sized Mac and Cheese

I did it.  I ate an entire box of mac-n-cheese tonight.  Is this pretty standard for me?  Well, yeah…but I think I used it as more of a comfort.  I was full after the first bowl but I ate the rest to possibly numb whatever it is that’s been eating at me this week. 

As I sit here and listen to “Black Metal Radio” on Spotify, I feel the urge to break stuff.  I’ve been feeling like this for a few days and off and on for at least 32 years.  This is my “end of my rope” state.  This is when the sun goes behind a big black cloud and I feel like running through the streets with an assault rifle.  I could physically harm someone…not that I would…but I could. 

I’m not one to keep my feelings on the inside.  When I’m happy, everyone feels it.  When I’m angry, I blow up…big time.  I’ve been majorly stressed out this week and things look pretty hopeless.  I wish I could tell you I had hope, but I don’t.  Trying to give me a pep talk is pretty hopeless as well.  There is absolutely nothing anyone can tell me when I’ve reached my emotional capacity that will bring me back to life.  It’s like a virus…just has to run it’s course.

I passed up my workout last night.  Just wasn’t feeling it.  The combination of my poison ivy discomfort and my emotional state was ready for a beer and Benadryl.  Bullshit?  Yes.  I won’t pretend I’m some bad ass who, in the face of distress, still sacks up and does work.  I gave in and at this very point in time don’t really care.  Motivation destroyed…

There are currently a few things in my life that cause me a great deal of stress.  I know I’m supposed to take the high road and “keep my head up” but the people who tell you that don’t always have a clue.  I need peace and quiet.  I need space.  I have none.  I’m constantly surrounded by a mob…at work…at home…and everywhere in between. 

Not my best week. 

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Bicycles Are Stupid

I’m taking advantage of this weak moment so I can delight in my accomplishments in the future. 

Right now it’s dark.  I’m in a deep hole of pity.  I’m pouting.

“Nut up!” 
“Brush it off!”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself.” 

Blah blah blah blah.  Kiss my butt.

Every day on the bike isn’t awesome.  You don’t always have a breakthrough moment worth blogging about.  Sometimes you suck.  Sometimes you crash.  Sometimes you do both.  In this very moment I’m furious.  I’m tired of being hurt.  I’m tired of being covered in cuts and bruises with swollen body parts.  I’m tired of sucking.  The only way to get better is to ride.  I spent most of my morning hiking my bike and being a little bitch. 

This morning I tried riding Warriors again.  I thought I was ready.  I thought I could handle Darwins.  I haven’t been on a mtb since Interbike.  I think wrecking my brains out during Dirt Demo scared me a little more than I realized.  I rode like a 5 year-old today.  The leaves scared me.  I didn’t ride a lot of stuff I normally would.  I’ve actually ridden harder stuff at Dupont.  Where did my mental balls go??  Has cyclocross made me soft?  I could see a HUGE difference in my motor, but my skills are shit now.

This is my fault.  I haven’t been riding trails.  I have no one to blame but myself. 

I’ll eventually get over my sour mood.  I’ll eventually get back on my mtb.  Hopefully I’ll stop acting like such a brat and continue with my day in a more productive manner.  For now, I’m going to ice my swollen body parts and work on putting my bottom lip back where it was before I started whining.

End rant.

When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

 
 
Expectations can be motivating.  You set specific goals with the best intentions and desire to attain them at some point in the game.  Sometimes our best just isn’t good enough.  Sometimes we can’t get our heart and head in sync.  This weekend I couldn’t transfer my heart and mind into my legs.  My heart’s desire was big.  My brain knew just what I had to do to get where I wanted to be.  My legs couldn’t deliver.  I literally pushed myself to a near unconscious state.  I can honestly say I left everything on the course.  How many people can honestly say the same?
 
Saturday’s course was more like a grass crit.  It was sunny, warm and the ground was dry and fast.  My technical skills would not be needed.  I had to depend on what little fitness I had and hope my fast-twitch muscle fibers would forget to blow up after the 1st lap. 
 
Have a good race, ladies.
 
Hole shot…again…shit!!!!  Really?  I honestly don’t try to get the hole, but I seem to get up there anyway.  I have serious power in my legs…still haven’t harnessed the energy for more than a lap.  On the bright side, I kept the lead much longer than normal.  Megan 1, CX Satan 0.
 
Autumn making me look awesome again.
 
  Grace eventually passed me when I took the turn out of the woods a little too wide.  I went through the tape and into the trees.  I rode it out and lost first place positioning.  Ok, so now I’m second.  Less pressure.  Let’s do this. 
 
My legs were dying.  I kept looking back and Jenna was always right there.  I pulled away a few times, but she was having a great day and passed me in the barriers.  Ok.  So now I suck.  Keep pedaling.  I was in my dark place at this point and wanted to throw my bike.  “This shit is stupid”.  Yep.  That’s what I was thinking.
 
Jenna pulled away in the gravel.  I couldn’t stay on her.  We climbed the hill of death and I caught her back.  I was focusing on her recovery.  She wasn’t pedaling much, especially where she could coast.  I put my bike in the big ring and pounded my pedals as hard as my body would let me.  I was an inch away from her wheel.  I was trying to get in her head.  We came to a slight downhill and a sharp turn.  I stayed with her.  We rolled into the gravel and around a few more turns.  I was on her.  Into the woods, I stood up and tried to pass her before the single track.  No such luck.
 
We came out of the woods and onto the hardest part (for me) of the course.  I had nothing.  She gapped me and made the barriers.  I had nothing.  She took off to the finish line.  I had nothing.  Jamie yelled “If you want her you gotta go NOW!”  I had nothing.  I shook my head in disgust.  I had nothing.  I pedaled as hard as I could to the finish as to not look like a total D-bag wuss. 
 
 
I saw spots.  I couldn’t focus my eyes.  My head felt dizzy and my lips were tingling.  “Get your ass off the bike before you black out and skin up your face.”  So I got off my bike and laid in the grass.  I could taste blood.  I just kicked my own ass.
 
 
I was infuriated because my body didn’t do what I wanted it to do.  I have an amazing cycling family with more support than a newbie could ask for, so I got over being butt hurt pretty quick.  I grabbed my cowbell and started cheering for my team.  They are AWESOME.
 
I finally participated in the MTB race for fun.  I was DFL.  I got beat by a dude with flat pedals.  No biggie.  That’s pretty standard for me on my MTB.  I’m always last and I get beat by a lot of people with flat pedals.  I still finished and I got an extra 30 minutes of training. 
 
 
LITERALLY following in Duckman’s footsteps.  Not a bad place to be.
 
Sunday.  Ashevegas.  Pisgah Brewery CX race.  Need I say more?  I got to see a lot of my friends from Boone (I miss ya’ll tons!) and hang out with some of my favorite people.  I was trying to prep myself for a “no pressure race” but given my competitive nature, I knew I was kidding myself.
 
My race summed up in a few sentences…
 
Start line.  Got second behind hole shot.  Felt great for a second.  Hit the woods.  Got passed…a lot.  Legs said SCREW OFF.  I died.  I couldn’t get in my big ring.  I superman’ed my bike on the 3rd lap at the barriers (and saved it).  I got really pissed off.  I got really tired.  I kept thinking, “HOW MANY DAMN LAPS ARE WE DOING?!”  We finished.  I suffered.  I got UNpissed off.  What more could I expect from trashed legs?!  Exactly.
First lap.  Still feeling good…
 
Lap 392,184…my inner child was crying
 
Good news?  I wasn’t DFL!  Bad news?  I gotta suck it up and realize I’m not going to be great overnight.  Patience.  Gotta find some…
 
 
Now to the fun stuff…
 


This has been a very interesting weekend to say the least.  I’m learning things about myself I never thought possible.  My cup is full.  It would be pretty difficult to make things any better right now.  I’ll take it.  God knows I deserve it.


Keep the Earth Below My Feet

Sometimes all you have is a hellacious trainer ride at 11pm.
Do work, son.
“No one ever said it would be easy…they said it would be worth it.”  This is one of the reoccurring lines I feed myself on the daily.  I’ve been trying to embrace this mantra for years.  Try as I may, I really never felt like I got it.  I have been faced with disaster, heartbreak, ill motivation (or lack of) and pure unadulterated hatred. 
 
The last few weeks have filled my soul with more than I could ever ask for.  The increasing rate at which I ride my bicycle has overcome me.  It’s taken over.  The fellowship of people who share my love (and addiction) for this sport have changed me for the better.  I’ve taken a huge leap…I wouldn’t go as far as saying a “leap of faith”.  The jury is still out on that…
 
I’ve recently started training to improve my fitness and abilities on the bike…mostly cyclocross.  I realize I’m not where I want to be and serious efforts must be put forth before I can see the rewards.  This is the one sport in my lifetime that I actually have to work my ass off for.  I was naturally good at basketball…volleyball…softball.  Not saying I never had to practice…but I was good.  Cycling, in all genres, has snapped me back into reality.  It hurts like a mutha, sucks like a mutha and makes me very angry sometimes.  The joy I get when I see small improvements is enough to keep me coming back. 
 
I thank my glorious friends for allowing me to tag along during their cycling endeavors.  Mostly, I thank my brother for making me a tough girl, teaching me the joy of “dude sports” and dragging me around as a kid.  He planted the seed and my amazing cycling family is fostering serious growth.  Big things are going to happen.  You’ll see.
 
I’m still in an emotional standstill with my job.  My heart is confused.  I love medicine.  I love helping people.  I love the freedom that my job comes with…but something isn’t adding up right now.  I can’t put my finger on it, but there is a huge disconnect.  I desperately hope I figure this out soon.  It’s like the lights are on, but no one is home.  :/ 
 
The face of confusion
As most of my close friends know, I’m a terrible decision maker.  I have a tough time with commitment and I agonize over the smallest decisions.  I don’t ever want to wonder “what if” and regret choices I didn’t make.  I also hate dealing with the heartbreak of knowing my decision didn’t work out the way I had hoped.  It usually takes me a while to recover from a big disappointment, and even longer to recover from a epic train wreck as a result of a very poor choice.  I know I probably set myself up for most of this, but I watched my mother fall apart when things didn’t work out her way.  In all fairness, I got it honest.  I just didn’t make any efforts to squash it as I was growing up.
 
I talk about the last year of my life fairly often…the change that occurred in me was monumental.  I became a solid rock, a confident human and one bad ass woman.  Of course, on the inside I’m still a scared, naive little girl.  My outer shell reeks of cynicism, apathy and independence.  I learned to depend TOTALLY on myself.  I became confident in the person I grew up to be…finally in a place some people only dream of.  I guess it’s time to step out of my comfort zone once again.  If I spend the rest of my life safe from the outside world, I’ll never grow.  I’ll stop learning.  I’ll become stagnant.  It’s not going to be easy, but nothing ever is.  The easy stuff sucks.  The easy stuff doesn’t make you strong.  People who can’t handle life fall back to the easy stuff.  I’m not that person anymore.  So here I go…

When Rule #9 Isn’t Enough

Second official week as a “cross racer” in the books.  The conditions were epic.  Mud.  Rain.  Cold.  I was nervous as usual and concerned I would finish last.  My heart was where it needed to be, but my body was slow to follow.  
Not many chicks in the Cat 4 race.  I didn’t expect large numbers, but I hoped I would have more competition this time around.  Mostly, I just didn’t want to be last.  My expectations were high…possibly higher than they should have been.
I’ll spare you the play-by-play…if you were there, you know.  The course was technical, sloppy and sketchy.  Mountain bikers had a serious advantage…handling skills were a must!  I did exceptionally well on the backside (which was a slop fest) and died on the front (climbing).  My teammate smoked me two days in a row, but she’s an 11 year-old cross country runner and amazing athlete.  I’ll give myself a break on that one.
Even with the realization that I’m not quite “there” on a fitness level, I am mentally ready to rip the legs off my competition.  I’ve always been super competitive in all my athletic endeavors…it’s hard to shut that off.  I know it’s my first season of CX, but I wanna be strong all around.  I’ve got the technical skills to murder the field, but my motor is something like what you’d find in a Vespa. 
I had a blast both on and off the course (the trees were softer than I thought they’d be)  🙂
The coolest part of the weekend was a super technical “W” in the course.  Saturday wasn’t quite as sloppy as Sunday and we could ride all the way through it.  Many of my friends and other spectators were gathered around to heckle riders as they walked or rode it out.  Lots of screaming and cowbells.  I was motivated to show them I could do it in spite of my burning lungs and rising vomit chunks.  Nothing felt better than surprising both the crowd and myself as I weaved my way through and up those two hills.  It’s what kept me going.
This is my pain cave.
I’ll get there…come hell or high water.  And when I do…you better watch out.  I’m coming for you.

WTH is zone 2??

Photo by Dwight Wyatt
Just when you think you’ve experienced the “toughest ride ever”, life kicks you right in the throat.  Welcome to cyclocross Miss Archer!
 
Apply rule #9 (Brian Archer’s extreme fan video)
(If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.)
 
This past weekend was the Mud, Sweat and Gears series opener at Domtar Park in Kingsport, TN.  I had been anxiously awaiting this moment since May and had no real idea of what I would be getting into.  Sure, I’ve been to tons of CX races throughout my years in Boone and watching my bro, but I had never had the pleasure of being in the hurt locker with some of my closest friends.  After Pisgah Monster Cross, I was certain I had the “hardest day ever”.  70 miles, 10,000 vertical and 7.5 hours in the saddle…you’d think I could handle two 30 minute races, right?
 
Cat 4 ladies lined up at the start.
Photo by Autumn Lewis

 

My adrenaline was pumping all morning and my obnoxious voice was heard all over the course.  CX is one of the few sports where I don’t get kicked out for my boisterous comments.  I had the pleasure of joining some tough chicks on the MSG Women’s Team this season.  I never expected to be part of the team, especially my first year, but these ladies welcomed me with open arms.  Time to get this thing started…
 
First race on Saturday was a hot mess.  It had rained off and on all morning and OF COURSE started pouring right before my race.  When I say POURING, I mean the course looked like a creek.  At this point I wondered if I could even stay upright on the bike.  My stomach was flipping all over the place and I could barely breathe…we lined up.  The guys started ahead of us…we waited…longest 2 minutes of my life. 
 
“Riders get ready!”  I thought my heart was in my throat.  Go time.  I pedaled my way to the front of the pack…then realized I had the holeshot.  “SHIT!  Now what?”  I was in front with no idea how I got there and heard Jamie behind me, “Megan, that was fast.”  Well, yeah…I didn’t mean to.  For some odd reason I thought it was a good time to slow down and let her pass me.  Rookie mistake.  Even though she would eventually smoke my ass, I should have stayed up front as long as I could.
 
The course was sloppy and slick, but still manageable.  I realized running barriers on tired legs didn’t look as graceful as it did in practice, nor did it feel good.  I was trying to hang on to anything that might take my mind off the pain and suffering I was experiencing. 
 
Lap 2.  I thought, “Oh my God.  I might die today.”  I tried to stay in front of Grace (an 11 year-old who probably came out of her mama’s tummy on a bike), but she had a long distance runner’s fitness and passed me.  I didn’t like it, but I knew I had to save myself for the remainder of the race.  Jenna was close behind and I was killing myself to stay in front of her.  We played cat and mouse for a while and she got out in front of me.  At some point I passed her, but to be honest, I can’t remember when.  I think I had a ‘brown out’ to numb the agony I was in. 
 
I hear Kim Bishop yell, “This will be your last lap! Give it all you got right here!”  Sweet!  Just hang on for one more lap!  I decided to push myself even harder.  I made it to the finish line and then I realized we STILL had another lap.  (Insert a very bad word HERE).  
 
I felt the vomit chunks rising…I could hear the wheezing in my lungs.  I guess it was time to nut up or shut up.  So I did.
 
I don’t remember much of the last lap.  I don’t remember much of the finish.  I managed to hold the #3 spot out of 6.  I was happy.  I managed to surpass more than I thought I could handle.  My team kicked butt too.  
 
Mud.  Everywhere.
 
Day two.  The course was TRASHED.  More mud than the day before, but a much different texture. 
 Thankfully, I have SOME mountain bike skills that allowed me to stay on the bike and off the ground.  I pedaled through the thick gunk and managed to get through all the sketchy spots without skipping a beat.  We had two run-ups that really sucked, but I actually rode one of them on the final lap of my race.  I felt pretty awesome at this point. 
 
 Jamie kicked all of our asses, Grace 2nd, Me 3rd and Jenna C. 4th.  I got beat by an 11 year-old two days in a row.  I’d like to thank Andrew Stackhouse for pointing this out.
 
She is a beast and will surely be a powerhouse to reckon with as she gets older.  I want to be like her when I grow up.
 
Pretty sure I’m pushing a HR of 200ish here.
Photo by Sybil Smith.
Long story short, CX rules.  It hurts…probably more than anything I’ve ever done.  The payout is worth every suffering moment.  The endorphins are like nothing I’ve ever experienced.  The crowd makes me smile.  My teammates make me feel loved.  I am hooked for life and can’t wait to see what this season has in store for me.  I look forward to many more miserably awesome races.  Maybe I’ll become a better athlete…maybe…
 
Maybe Aaron Casey will be my forever Pit Bitch?!
 
Doubt it.