Saturday, October 17, 2015

US National Pole Championships 2015 - #dreamfearlessly

It's interesting where life will take you when you try new things.  A year ago, I would have laughed in your face if you told me I'd compete in Pole Sport (aka pole dance in lay terms).  Ha!  But, as my adventures proved me wrong, I fell in love with pole and my competitive side couldn't say know to trying my first competition.

In May, I journeyed to Chicago with 17 other Dolls to take on our Central Region Pole Championships (CPC).  Like bicycle racing, there are multiple levels, and I entered at Level 1 (beginner).  The nerves were through the roof, but the experience was out of this world!  Much to my surprise, I finished first in the Level 1 Seniors for the Championship category!

At the same time as we were preparing for this competition, my training and practice began preparing me for the next level.  In the weeks following CPC, I had to make two decisions: 1) Do I go to Nationals in LA?, and 2) Do I level-up with my new found skills?  Heck, WHY NOT?!

So, with just a couple months to prepare, I hit the studio hard with Coach Jamie and my teammate Emily to take my routine to the next level.  I had to re-cut my music and make the song longer to fit Level 2, and I had to learn a whole lot of new tricks.  But, moving to Level 2 meant I got to invert!  Yeeeeaaaaahhhhhh!  We practiced up to six nights a week at the studio, often til 11:00pm or later, and my body took a toll.

With only 3 days til competition, I finally nailed all my tricks and I was ready for the next adventure.  Jamie and her mom, Emily, and I headed out to LA to take on the stage and have a good time.  When I got to the studio that morning, I knew this would be my last chance with this routine.. I focused on having as much fun as I could in the 3 minutes I had on stage, and meditated on becoming my character one last time.

As I moved across the stage, it was hard not to smile..  I knew I had to stay in character, but the energy coursing through my body was electric and I felt on top of the world!  As I moved through my last tricks into my finale, my heart was bursting with joy, and I cried with pure happiness when I met Jamie off stage after my exit.  I didn't care where I placed - I just knew I'd done the best I could have done.  And, as it seems I don't know myself as well as I should, I was surprised yet again to find myself on the podium... 2nd place at Nationals!!!

Wow, it was so amazing, and I was overwhelmed with joy!  So much so, it has taken me nearly 2 months just to write about it.  But, once I received my video from Alloy Images, it brought that elation back in force!  It has been so fun to relieve those short minutes of my life..  all the countless hours, bruises, and bottles of Dry Hands... all for 3 minutes to shine.  I wouldn't have done it any other way.

Check it out!...



Next up, our student Halloween showcase "Dolls Must Die" next weekend, then "Dolls on Parade" in February.. I can't wait!  And all of this fun, these dreams, this happiness would not have been possible without the unending love and support of my hubby Jay, the tough love and unbelievable talent in my Coach Jamie, the laughter and making up moves with Emily, my family and friends for coming to our shows and cheering me along this journey, and for Chloe and her amazing creation of Dollhouse Pole Dance Studio!

High on Pole!
Kristy Kreme

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Overcoming Weakness and Fear

If  "Pain is weakness leaving the body", then I'm convinced that bruises must be fear leaving the body.



Now five months into pole dancing, I regularly find myself staring back at my coach or instructor like a deer in headlights as they demonstrate the next trick, spin, or climb... "I'm gonna kill myself trying that"...  But somehow, within the black-n-white-striped and purple walls of Dollhouse Studio, I find myself trying it before that thought takes purchase in my mind, crippling me from a new breakthrough before I even make an attempt.

And somewhere in that fear and disbelief, I continue to find a new strength and courage within myself I didn't know existed.  Or maybe just forgot was there.

I look back at my first three months - I was terrified to climb more than 7ft up the 15 ft+ poles in the studio.  It wasn't until my last week of Competition Bootcamp, end of January 2015, that I finally made it.  I didn't look down, I just gritted my teeth and dug deep into some fierce layer of determination, finding myself touching the beams at the top and gliding down with a cheshire smile stretched across my face.  Now I have to force myself from a full ascent to train for our 12 ft competition poles!

Now, as the tricks become more advanced, I'm forced to learn to ignore the fear, listen to Jamie or Chloe's voice, and TRUST that following their instructions will guide me safely into the move.  I almost laugh at myself as I'm contorted or dangling precariously, while some expletive escapes my lips in shock. "Holy $&%#"... or I return to earth needing immediate high fives and hugs to celebrate a moment's victory.  Turns out I don't have much of a poker face either... even as I complete the move, shock is pretty evident.


And the crazy thing about pole, is that it leaves it's imprint all over your body.  Long, lean legs.  Stronger arms and back muscles.  Sure, there's bruises all over my shins from trying to climb on my weak side or on my biceps from some crazy pit-hold .. raw skin on the top of my feet from practicing my Remi Sit.. bruises on my side from a Gemini or leg switches...

But most evident is the confidence I see as I walk straighter and taller.  My eye contact with others, even when dancing in my sports bra and shorts with strangers.  My husband constantly catching me on my tip toes - at the grocery store, doing the dishes, walking the dog.  And my movements as I dance getting larger, longer, and more expressive... dancing as if no one was watching.


On top of all the fear of learning something new or attempting something terrifying has been learning to overcome the fear of talking about it.  So much negative stigma surrounds the words "pole" and "dance" when combined, that I quickly find myself shy to share my love for such a sport. Afraid of what people will think or say.  But with every new trick I learn or personal struggle I overcome, I become more determined to share this passion with everyone.  I doubt my Dad yet truly understands, and my male coworkers are still in the dark, but nothing happens overnight.  (Heck, my Superman hasn't even really happened over 5 months!)

Until the world understands this sport and art form, I'll simply take pleasure into sharing with one person at a time and encouraging others to find their passions, no matter what they look like.

Facing my fears and finding new strengths,
Kristy Kreme

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blurring the Lines Between Cross-Training and Competition

A few months ago, I was on the hunt for a new fitness routine to help me combat repetitive low back issues and a weak upper body.  Sure, hot yoga is great, but I next really had a major ache to go.. and lifting weights at the gym was something I left in high school.. so what next?

As anyone who's seen me at the end of a mtn or cx race knows, I'm not the most graceful of creatures.  But there's a part of me that has always loved to watch various forms of gymnastics and dance, fascinated by the amazing displays of strength and creative ways to move the body... a power I've envied for years as I'd watch performances and youtube vids galore.

So, in October, I finally put on my big girl pants and signed up for a aerial dance workshop to give it a go and I was instantly hooked!  I immediately signed up for a month-long beginner session to learn how to be an aerial dancer of my own.  Aerial dance?  You may know it better by the term Pole Dance ;)   Just, take away the removal of clothing and add in a ton more strength and contortion, and you'll get what it's about.

I've been studying at Dollhouse Pole Dance Studio now for three months and it's the first time since I bought my first bike that I've found something that I'm this obsessed about.  Feeling and watching the changes in my body is hard to believe sometimes... less back pain, stronger core, awesome increase in arm and leg strength, and touching my toes for the first time in years!  All that havoc I've caused in my body on the bike is finally starting to reverse (but there's still a LONG way to go)!

The interesting part happened right around the New Year...

I'd taken December off of racing bikes - the first month I hadn't raced in over three years!  I really tried to learn as much as I could in my pole classes with an insatiable hunger. When it came time to thinking about 2015 and the possible adventures that lie ahead, I just kept thinking of "If Nothing"... What if nothing stood in your way?  What awesome things would you do?

This lil bike racer signed up for her first Pole Sport Competition!  In January, bike racing turned into cross-training for my first pole competition in May, and the cross-training I'd been doing in dance turned into my new competitive sport.  I ramped up my training more than I ever thought I would... and I still wanted more!  For the first time in my competitive life, I've wanted to eat better and train harder.  Riding my bike for cardio, doing calisthenics for strength training, stretching regularly for the first time in my life, and taking Pole bootcamps and learning how to edit music.. and it all feels so natural.

I day dream about my routine, my costume, my make-up... I've sat on youtube for hours just trying to find new things for Coach Jamie to teach me.  And then I spend my Saturday's in the pole studio, followed by a couple hours on the LaMere

fat bikes with my hubby... so perfect!  Sure, I'm still racing, but from now til my first competition, it's not exactly what I'm training for.  But I'm sure loving learning something so challenging and exciting!  And heck, I gotta thank the bike for giving strong legs by which to hang upside down with!

my first Gemini!

One of the craziest lessons I've learned in this... I bruise more from pole dancing than I do mountain biking!  Maybe it's cuz we do things like holding your body weight with just your armit...

first time getting the Yogini!  (nice fat purple bruise in my armpit after this one)


It's interesting what phenomenal things you find when you follow your life's curiosities and try new things. I know I don't regret it, and I'm so excited to see what amazing things lie ahead in 2015!

Pole dreaming and bike ridin', 
Kristy Kreme

Monday, December 1, 2014

Huge Thanks for all our Holiday Heroes!

Saturday's weather could not have been better to create an amazing day for the 4th (kinda-annual) Cross for Tots.  The sun was bright, temps in the mid 30's, and a fresh layer of powdery snow covered the grounds at Moir Park in Bloomington.

With Penn Cycle at the helm, we had all the fun amenities you expect... great music, super fun and flowy course by Strese & Hwood, a heated chalet for registration and donations, plus the amazing volunteers that come with all of their events.



Riders came from as far away as Chicago to take on the course and show their support for Toys for Tots!  Whether it was with a fat bike, mtn bike or cx bike, racers had fun and raced hard to help make the holidays brighter for Twin Cities families.  We are still collecting Toys and Donations through this week at Hollywood Cycles in Minneapolis and at all Penn Cycle locations so you still have time to donate if you missed the race.

And the Team Relay was AWESOME!  We had so many fast and fun teams taking each other on.. always fun to watch how the lead changes with the equalizer-style event.  I lost my voice screaming for my teammates and friends alike.



But in the end, the huge pile of toys was the greatest reward for an event well done.  This is my favorite part of the holidays every year.. I can't wait to drop them off at the tent!



Thank you to Pat Sorenson and the whole team at Penn Cycle for saving this year's Cross for Tots and giving it life in Bloomington!  Thanks also to Dan & Jay for creating one bad a$$ cx course (I hope we can do it again next year!), thanks to all the volunteers who helped set up and tear down the course, and most importantly, HUGE thanks and hugs go out to all the racers, family and friends who came out to have fun and donated to Toys for Tots!  You are true Holiday Heroes to families in need, and you're all heroes to me!  Thank you so much for helping support our dream each year!



Wish you all the most magical, love-filled holiday!
Kristy Kreme

Monday, November 24, 2014

Cross for Tots - This Saturday!

While the fun things to write about never cease (good problem to have).. I can't resist the need to write about some fun that hasn't even happened yet!

This coming Saturday is my FAVORITE cyclocross race of the year - Cross for Tots!!!  It's our fourth year in action and it's gonna be bigger than ever!

Brought to you by the awesome team at Penn Cycle and Fitness, Hollywood Cycles, Girl Fiend Cycling Team, Team Hollywood Cycles (*THC), and the best volunteers in town.  Prizes, races for all skill levels, plus a Team Relay..

... and all proceeds go to the Twin Cities Toys for Tots!! Yes, please!

This is the best event to come play, race, watch, and donate.  Be a Holiday Hero by helping make the holidays brighter for families in your community.



 



Check out all the details and fun at one or all of these resources:

https://www.facebook.com/events/478142305659864/
http://crossfortots.blogspot.com/

Please come check it out!  Our goal is to raise $2000+ and collect more than 300 toys.  YOU can be a Holiday Hero and help make it happen.

Feeling the excitement,
Kristy Kreme

Monday, October 27, 2014

No Rock.. just straight up 'Roll'tober

The excitement of 'Rock'tober this year truly missed the boat with a disappointing lack of good music in Minneapolis this month.  Typically, we get out for a concert every week in Rocktober, but this year we scowered every inch of the City Pages often, desperate to find some band that we could enjoy in a dark, seedy, cramped venue.  Nothing. Nada. Zilch!

But, there was TONS to do when it came to bikes!  From amazing evening rides under beautiful canapoies of firey leaves, cool air commutes, and fast racin', there's been shortage of miles of smiles. 

We started Rolltober up in Cable, WI to celebrate our friends' wedding, complete with pre-wedding group rides along the gravel roads and Seeley Pass.  The temps were cool with a light rain, but we couldn't resist the mountain bikes in the woods on the eve of their wedding.  Mid-ride, the rain turned over into huge, fluffy snow flakes that coated the fall leaves on the side of the trail and made the ride seem almost magical.  It set the mood for a full weekend of celebrating true love, enjoying the Northwoods, and loving the ride.





The following weekend kept the love alive and growing as Jay and I celebrated our 6th year of marriage!  The traditional gift is Candy or Iron.. WTF?  Jay surprised me at Bandit CX on the night of our anniversary by taking me into the woods to our meet spot where some friends mingled about, waiting for the ride to begin.  There, leaning against a tree was a super sweet LaMere CX bike, done up with hot pink Donkey Label tires...'who's bike is that? It's HOT!'... 'It's yours', he said... double WTF?  He had built up my parts from my old cx bike on a brand new frame and decked it out in all hot pink, black, and white!  Pair that with a king size Kit Kat bar and you've got yourself the sweetest anniversary gift ever!




My husband often out does me elaborate gift giving, but this year I think I did okay.  He'd been borrowing Freaky's 1980's Ram Van "Rambling Fever" for a week or two, trying it out as a new race/travel vehicle and working every angle to get me to say okay to buying it.  So, after weeks of pretending I hated it, I gave him a bag filled with delicious chocolates and a picture frame at the bottom of us and the van...





With a poem that read:
Roses are red,
Candy is sweet.
Which Iron horse
Would make your stable complete?



He wasn't confident at first, but he soon realized I was saying 'yes' to him again, this time for the van.  Ahhh, all the new adventures we've yet to find!







And since, we've enjoyed checking out new trails at Theo Wirth (my new favorite!!), evening River Bottom rides with friends, and the final Mtn Bike race of the season down in Red Wing.  With yellow leaves falling like snowflakes on the course, it was an amazing end to the season, making it shockingly aware that I've already missed most of the CX season this year.  Jay's been rippin' it up, but I've been a lil late to jump in with both feet, but I think this weekend finally sealed it...

The course was amazingly fast with perfect off-camber sections in every part of the course, combined with natural berms and lots of room for recovery.  I tried to keep myself reined in and not blow up in a hole-shot move, but I got to the front on the first major curve in the course.  I kept the pace up, but allowed my heart rate to come down, waiting for someone to attack before we hit the first off camber section, but no one came.  So I attacked myself and tried to drop the field in the section that became my favorite over the course of the day.  It worked!  I stayed on the gas lap after lap, not letting myself settle in or catch my breath, forcing myself to go faster when I could.  And I held it for the win!  It was so awesome!



This fall has truly been amazing!  I hope these cool night rides and warm afternoon races don't end for a LONG time because this has been one of the most beautiful autumns yet!  Sure, I've got a HOT new thermal skinsuit from Podiumwear (yet to be revealed), but I can keeps these temps as long as possible.

Rollin' through fall,
Kristy Kreme

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Single Speed USA: If you weren't having fun, you were doing it wrong

Last Wednesday, we departed for a week-long adventure up to Copper Harbor, MI for Single Speed USA 2014.  What we hoped for was a damn good time... what we found was the most amazing trip of the year.

We started off with a road trip up to Seve's lil slice of heaven in Minong, WI.  Nestled atop a hill overlooking the Totagatic River with water so clear we could see the ridges of sand at the bottom and large fish as they swam by.  The peacefulness of the location was amplified by the laughter of friends that kept arriving, beers cracked open, and the sound of fresh fish frying on the skillet.
 Camping with the 29nSngl crue is the only way to travel!
 We hit the road the next morning after a tasty breakfast at Flap Jacks, then some interesting photo-opps while grocery shopping....

 We led out the caravan of 8 vehicles with Tim W. at the wheel, Hwood navigating, and me sleeping in the back with my belt.  Only 6 hours to go til we made it to our destination.  The skies were blue, the heat climbed, and the trees got more and more dense as we neared the U.P.







 
Before we left the land of cell coverage, we stopped in Houghton for some food and beers, making sure to leave our mark before we hit the end of the Earth.
Once there, our group split to go set up camp.  Jay, Tim and I shared a lil corner lot in the East Campground and were first to set up.  We jumped on our bikes and headed toward the gravel trail that connected all the campgrounds to town, in search of our 29nSngl buds.  Within 5 ft of jumping on the trail, my front wheel washed out in a gravel/rock turn and I ate $h!t hard.  I ripped open my right knee and elbow and just sat there... stunned, pissed, annoyed.. that side had just healed up from my crit crash in July!  So, I got back on the bike and we found our pals quickly.  The three of us did a short ride out thru a beautiful prairie that led to the trail section called "Downtown" and back for a light spin, then straight to the shower to scrub the &%$# dirt and gravel out of my limbs.  
We laid low that first night, knowing we still had to recover from the previous nite's 2:00am party scene and had much more to come.  We woke around 10:00 Friday morning and headed out for a ride to start checking out the trails which were new to us.  JR hooked us up with the most breath taking trail combo along 'Garden Brook' that we had to ride it twice.  On our return to the campsite, a bee flew into my helmet and I jerked the bars when I attempted to rip off my helmet.. over the bars, flipped into the thistle on my back.  Grrrrrrrrr

So Jay, Tim, Josh, and I found ourselves a sweet little grotto in Lake Superior to rinse off the dander and cool our sore muscles before race night.   Later that night, we headed into town for packet pick-up and the pre-party. Friends from all around were there and the Mpls contingency was strong.  With free beer flowing from the taps and a 16ft wooden teeter totter in the field, it was sure to get rowdy. The only trouble was, that teeter totter was the preliminary round to qualify for the title of SSUSA Champ.. the only way to retain my belt...





I was terrified by the chance of falling off and injuring myself thanks to the Hollywood Hex.. when he'd gone to the UK to defend his SS WORLD Champ title in 2001, he crashed his bike the night before the race and broke his collar bone.  He didn't get the chance to defend his title.  I'd already crashed twice and was a little on edge.

So, to make it easier on my vertigo, Hwood gathered up our THC, 29nSngl, and Twin Six friends to line the teeter totter and catch me if I fell.  "Hold my beer and watch this"... my alter ego "Boozy", donned in the SSUSA belt and "One Bad F'in B!tc#" bikini top, hopped on the rickety old bike and charged for the teeter totter.  I lost speed as I hit the lip of it, but had enough momentum to get to the apex and ride it down the other side!  I howled with my fist in the air once I cleared it, shaking from the adrenaline and excitement of my accomplishment for some 20 min. after.  WINNING!  The rest of the night was a blast with music from the Shindaggers, contests, more beer, and Spinner and I giving our final shouts to the crowd as the current champs.
Riding to the race with the belt in tow
The race/ride morning came fast, and we kitted up for the wild ride ahead of us.. 30+ miles, 3100+ feet of climbing, and the gnarliest trails I'd ever seen.  We started with a 'neutral' roll-out up and around a mine on paved to gravel roads for a few miles before entering the single track.  Still attached to the back of the lead group, I lost contact once we entered the single track and allowed a handful of riders to pass me by in sections I wasn't confident on.  Sections like Garden Brook and Bullwinkle flowed fast through large pines lined with thick ferns and mossy undergrowth.  Ones like Downtown, Paul's Plunge, and On the Edge tested my fortitude.  

And on top of the world, overlooking the Keweenah Mountain side, was a part of 'The Edge' that took my breath away... during the race, I just pulled off the trail and stopped to admire it.  Heck, I did that a lot.. who knows when I'll be back to Cappa Habba, so I might as well take it all in while I can, right?




With the climbing, rocks, and roots that were unrelenting, my back started to give up.  Maybe it was the previous 2 days worth of crashes but, whatever it was, I took my time getting to the finish and trying to take in the beauty and the lessons of the trail as I hunted for the finish.  Sore, tired, and slightly nauseous after the race, I met up with Jay at the finish, grabbed some cold beers, and began to gather our friends for a much needed retreat to our little 612 Grotto in the lake.

There was a mini 'reef' of rocks that nestled about a foot below the water, keeping the water warm and allowing us to sit and cool our aching backs and legs.  We brought music and a couple cases of beer, sharing trail stories and basking in the wonderful warmth of the exceptionally hot day.  It was the most spectacular chunk of time of the entire weekend.  Learning about friends, making new ones, and enjoying the silly childlike jokes of warm spots in the water and seaweed.


 
 #bestdayever
We lounged in the water until our white jersey/shorts tan lines of cyclists began to turn pink and made our way back to camp to ready ourselves for the evening's festivities and final contests.  Unfortunately, Jay and the boys had me convinced they wouldn't start without me since only me and one other woman completed the preliminary round... #famouslastwords.  For those who understand, "Jay-time" has been suspended until further notice.

As we rolled to the park, we saw Fiona riding away with the belt... we missed the derby...  I missed my chance to defend my title.  I was devastated and admittedly unconsolable for an easy 45 min.  It was gone, and there was nothing I could do to change it.

My husband and friends were near enough to try to make it better and somehow only Jorge was the one I'd accept a hug from.  As I tried to process my disappointment and find a way to pull myself out of my funk and not ruin the entire trip, I found a small circle of people starting a drinking game in the afternoon sun.  "Whatcha doin?"  We played a game where only your feet could touch the ground and you had to bend over and pick up an open bottle of whiskey with only your mouth, slam it, and put it back... things were about to get weird.


It wasn't just the "amazing healing power of beer" that helped turn the night around, as my favorite sticker says.. it was the healing power of friends, teammates, and the single speed community that helped wash the salt out of my wounded ego with cans of IPA and shots of jagermeister.  It was the reckless abandon of derbies and games that brought it all back to center... we were here to have fun. Period.

So we raised up our favorite beer coozies and put the F-U in FUN!
Yoga Drinking Games?  Try Down-Dog-Up-Dog-Tandem-Shots!

Once every challenge was bested, we kept having to take it to the next level.  I taught the crowd about butt-crack-primes by starting a derby around a handful of ladies and one young lad who had dollar bills sticking out of the back of their shorts.  

Once the money was gone, we took singles from the crowd and moved the primes into the derby, 612 Mafia style. I may have missed 'the' derby, but the ones we created got rowdy and awesome FAST!  One of the MC's even stopped us to say thanks for bringing the party to the next level.  Dollar Bill Derby = Worst Wedgie Ever!
What we didn't expect was the addition of ketchup to the games.. one guy was spraying us down in the derby with ketchup, making us look like 70's slasher film victims as we rounded the trees lap after lap.  When Tim took the ketchup as a shot, he scared an EMT half to death when he began throwing up a red liquid, but couldn't stop long enough to reassure her that it was just ketchup.

Some of the best photos to sum it up were all caught by one of my fave photogs, Todd Bauer, and the amount of Single Speed debauchery he caught was perfect!  Check out his gallery here.  From late night derbies, awesome beer from Blackrock Brewery (try the IPA!), to the broken teeter totter-picnic table feats of strength, it was a night full of smiles, cheers, and heckling.  For the final contest of the night, the Host City showdown came down to a bucket kick game, where two opponents sat atop a 5 gal. bucket, holding the hands of their opponent, while trying to kick the bucket out from under them.  Seve was the victor, taking the hosting rights once again to win it for Wisconsin!  Third year straight in the upper midwest.. 2015, here we come.

Drunk, exhausted, and trying to follow a straight line, we meandered back to camp to sleep it off before beginning our trek towards home... but first we had to shower off a crap-load of ketchup. #Ihateketchup

Sunday morning, we packed up camp when we woke up and took the scenic route along the lake on our way to Houghton, stopping at Jacobs Falls for a short hike and some beautiful scenery. 


We stopped at Kaleva in Houghton for breakfast and headed straight to Hayward, WI. for the night.  Luckily, we got on the road in time to catch a nice 2 hr ride on the Seeley Pass and some putt putt before settling in for a bonfire with Morgan and Matt.  It was a great way to spend our last night of vacation, filling each other in on all the madness one another had missed during the times we were separated.
We woke to rain in the morning and the campsites beginning to flood, so we packed up quickly and hit the road.  It was fun sitting with the boys, laughing about all the shenanigans and memories we'd made.  We all agreed it had been the best memories of the summer, heck.. the year!  Only 360+ days til we get to do it again.

In the contest of Most Fun Wins, we won with a vengence! 

Countin' down the days to SSUSA 2015, 
Kristy Kreme