Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weather Wennie

Hi, my name is Shannon.  I am a weather weenie. 

Wow, that was hard to admit, but it is true.  In the 7 years since moving from Texas to southern California, I have morphed into the very person I mocked in those first few years of Coastal living.  It drove me crazy to hear people complaining that it was "freezing" outside.

"You are aware that in order for it to be freezing, the temperature must drop to 32 degrees?" I would quip. 

As I mentioned, I am not from Fargo or Buffalo.  I realize that Houston, Texas isn't exactly the frozen tundra, but at least I could tolerate 55 degrees without the dramatics that go along with those types of temperatures here in sunny SOCAL. 

This phenomenon occurred on the other end of the thermometer as well.  I had zero tolerance of Californians complaining of the heat during an 85 degree day.  No sympathy from me until the temperature breaks the triple digits at a very minimum....don't even get me started with humidity. 

"I spent 20 years in Houston.  I know humid, this is not it."  I would say smugly, almost as if my tolerance for wider temperature ranges made me superior to native and otherwise naturalized Californians.

Fast forward 7 years. 

Tomorrow is supposed to be my first lake swim and transitions practice.  I don't own a tri suit or any other cold water apparel.  The high at the lake tomorrow is supposed to be a fairly unacceptable 61 degrees, and I have spent my entire swim life (all 8 weeks of it) in a heated pool.  The thought of swimming in a 50-something degree lake is a little unnerving to say the least.  The idea that my balmy weather-assimilated body will soon be exposed to such arctic temperatures is down right terrifying.  Top that off with the thought of jumping in and out of the lake to practice transitioning has catapulted me into full panic mode.  There is no way I can perform under these conditions, so with much shame, I asked my trainer if we could practice in the pool for another few weeks.  Just until the weather cooperated a little more.  Everyone knows that people have expired from any number of respiratory afflictions in such frigid, 60 degree temperatures like what I am facing tomorrow.

My name is Shannon and I am, in fact, a weather weenie...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jealous much?

I have been asked speak at an event this weekend.  I am a product sponsor, so in return I "get" a few minutes to pitch my product line to a captive audience.  When you are a small business on a shoe string budget, you will take any free advertising!  My husband is on the road (as usual) and we were discussing what I was going to talk about.  If you have read my post on how I became a Tough Chik, then you get the gist of my spiel.  Marc said, "and make sure you talk about your wreck!"

On January 29th I feel off my bike and suffered a compound fracture in my right forearm. (but that is for another post)  Subsequently I have 2 scars, one either side of my forearm and a little scar where the bone escaped.  One is about 6 inches long and the other is about 8 inches long.  On many occasions Marc has requested that I show my scars to anyone and everyone.  The guy at the bike shop, a Tough Chik customer at a tri, co-workers, gardeners, really any time cycling or injuries come up in conversation, he makes me pull up my sleeve.  Trust me, we talk cycling A LOT, so this is a frequent occurrence.

It dawned on me during this conversation that I think he is jealous of my scars.   I think he has a touch of scar envy.  Now don't get me wrong, he has his fair share.  I don't think anyone who has spent any considerable amount of time on a mountain bike can escape without a few war wounds. But none of his are from surgery, so they aren't nearly as impressive as mine.  That or he is proud his wife is "hard core".  Probably a little of both, although it does make me a little uncomfortable at times.  Some people don't want to see my scars and think scars in general are kind of yuck.  This is a concept that seems to be foreign to him.

I have a brunch on Sunday with a cycling group, I should just wear short sleeves.
December 2010
March 2010

Friday, November 19, 2010


I am just now learning how to swim and swimming is hard.  Had I learned at a younger age, swimming would now be second nature.  I suddenly see why parents push their kids to succeed in sports early in life.  I, on the other hand, was able to pick and choose my activities.  As a "girly" girl, my activity was dance.  I spent over 15 years in ballet, tap and jazz.  You know what I have to show for it?  I am pretty good at yoga.  I can do a mean cobra and have decent flexibility (especially for a runner/cyclist). That is about it. 

Do you ever wonder how good you could be at cycling and/or running and/or swimming if you would have started at the age of 5?  I do all the time.  I really think it would have been a HUGE advantage on the mountain bike.  My main hurdle on the dirt is the fear that manifests in my head.  When you are young, you have no fear.  Now every rock, rut and ledge are potentials for a horrific fall.  I think about this when I ride, even on the road.  I think about falling, getting hit by a car, riding off a ledge or having a distracted driver blow a light and run over me.  Most of these scenarios involve my body flying through the air like some sort of rag doll.  Is this normal?  I don't think so.  But maybe I am a safer cyclist (at least on the road) because of my fatalistic thoughts. 

It is a HUGE detriment on the dirt though.  Those who have spent time mountain biking know, if you think, "I am going to hit that rock".  You WILL hit that rock.  I have a friend who takes his young son mountain biking all the time.  This kid has no fear and can conquer any obstacle.  And if he falls, he just tries it again.  If I fall, the last thing I want to do is try "that" again.  I am scared of falling.  I have fallen many times and I have to say I'm not a fan.  At times I will see something down the trail and jump off the bike.   I am determined that there is no way I can climb up that or descend down whatever obstacle looms in the distance.  So I just jump off the bike and don't even try.

This has also been an issue for me in life.  Like the old saying goes, "you never know unless you try".  Fear can be the biggest obstacle we face in life.  How many times have you avoided a situation because of fear?  Fear of failing, fear of sounding stupid, fear of loosing or fear of not finishing.  I know that we have fear as a survival instinct, built into our mechanics to prevent an early demise via a saber tooth cat or some sort of giant, wingless terror bird.  But do we want to survive or strive?  I work every day to strive, not merely survive. 

I think I am going to dust off the mountain bike!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sprechen Sie Deutsch

Like most cyclists, I have a trip computer on my bike.  Mine is a little fancy in that it is also a heart rate monitor and an altimeter...because 50 miles and 300 ft of climbing is completely different than 50 miles and 3000 ft climbing.  My trip computer may be smarter than me, I do confess.  It is one of those gadgets, like my "smart phone", that has many more capabilities than what I use it for.  I must admit that I get a kick out of tracking how many miles I have put on the bike over the past year and how many feet I have climbed.  I am interested to see my max heart rate over the course of a strenuous ride.  But, my nifty gadget is temperamental.  Sometimes I can ride for miles and it won't show a reading and then, miraculously, it will start working again.  Just like how your computer is completely fine after a reboot.   So, when the trip computer started to blink on and off, I assumed it was just being pissy and left it alone.  And then the dreaded battery icon.  I don't have a watch battery laying around and as soon as I step away from the bike, the battery icon is a distant memory until the next ride.  This sequence went on for about 2 weeks until, betrayal...a blank screen.  So my personal bike mechanic and loving husband replaced the battery for me.  To my dismay, the reading is now in German.  I do not speak German nor can I calculate kilometers to miles in my head.  Being the fancy trip computer it is, she speaks many languages but seems to prefer Germany these days.  I have absolutely no idea how to change the language setting on the trip computer but I am sure there is a F.A.Q. on the manufacturer's website that can instruct me which 7 buttons to press simultaneously in order to get back to English.  Although if my last ride is any indication, I may be a stronger rider in German!

The real bummer is that ALL of my saved data is GONE!  I have ridden 0 kilometers.  I have 0 max heart rate.  Climbed 0 meters.  Nothing!  Nada!  Zilch!  Null!  It is like my cyclist self never existed.  I feel so unaccomplished, so beginner.  Wait, maybe this is a new beginning.  A fresh start.  All of those weenie flat rides can no longer bring down my average!  I AM FREE!!!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How I became a "Tough Chik"

For decades my mother and grandmother have referred to themselves as "tough old birds".  It is an old southern saying that eluded to the mental and emotional strength rather than brawn and muscles.  When I was training for the San Francisco Marathon I called myself a tough old bird on a fateful call to my mother.  She replied "No, you are Tough Chick".  So, when I started my company, it was a no brainer that the name would be Tough Chik.  We are all Tough Chiks in our own way, it may be that you just ran your first 5K after a bout with cancer or that your are a single mother and still find the time to compete in your first triathlon.  I get a lot of folks asking me "What makes you a Tough Chik?"  It isn't the races under my belt or the hundreds of miles I have put on the bike.  It has nothing to do with the scars on arm from broken bones or how much I can squat.  It is all about what you can't see, the life I have lived and the obstacles I have conquered.  We all have a journey and story that has made us the person we are today, the warrior we have become.  If you want to see a Tough Chik, just look in the mirror.  This is what tough looks like.

(the original tough chik)