Monday, January 27, 2014

froZEN with my friends

To kick off yet another chilly spell in MinneSO-Friggin-Cold-duh, I spent Friday night getting uber sweaty with some of my favorite gals at Modo Yoga in Uptown.  Having only been going to hot yoga classes for a month or so, I discovered a fast addiction to sweating and stretching in the 105 degree room.  And, completely contrary to expectations with dozens of sweaty bodies in the same room, it's such a peaceful, odor-free, and relaxing environment with dim lights, gentle sounds, and instructors that lead you in your practice in a challenging and forgiving way.

This night, Teresa and Morgan joined me for the Friday night Karma class to support a friend's foundation that puts together for Twin City's homeless residents.  The class was HOT and the sounds of sweat hitting my mat as we did our first forward fold were loud and welcome as I watch the rivers run down my arms.  Shannon led us through a great practice and we left the class limber, lighter, and with relaxed.  To 'rehydrate' after class, we met Hwood & Matt at Burger Jones for some bevvies and grub to close out the night.  As well as the burger smell overpowered our detoxed state, the sounds of laughter and friendships binding tighter drowned out the existence of all other patrons.

As the night drew to an end, we parted ways to celebrate the next day's chills in our favorite ways... Me & Hwood - we took on the Lake Mtka Ice Race!  Morgan and Matt excited us in their attendance and constant cheers once the race was underway.  Heck, high of 5 degrees? Ignore the windchill... just wear another layer.  Sadly, the uber cold temps kept the attendance lower than normal but the event was top-notch as always.  Once the Elite Men's / Women's Open race toed the line, I was a little bummed out to find myself as the only chica with the cold-weather-cahones this year.  Oh well, there were still more than a dozen boys to try to beat, right?!

Once it began, I tried to secure a good position in the pack as we charged down the first straightaway in the pinky of the "Metal" hand course.  I got into the middle of the pack and pretended that the guys chasing me were my toughest female competitors on the ice... Kristi, Patti, and Danielle.  Run, baby, run!

The 45 min. race was gonna be tough as the cold wind drifted the snow across the shoveled, icy course.  Thankfully, Podiumwear makes AMAZING winter apparel, so I had every inch of skin covered in awesome Girl Fiend gear and stayed warm considering the conditions.  With every turn, I pedaled on, trying to push the limits of my home-made studded tires. I wasn't just gonna take the win without digging deep into my reserves and forcing myself to go faster.

With a few laps to go, my internal thermometer was inching up and I removed my neck cozy from my face to cool my core and increase my oxygen intake.  Not one lap later, the headwind bit hard at my cheeks and I was stunned to find my neck cozy had frozen into a solid, fabric mask when I recovered my face.  Attacking my imaginary opponents til the final turn, I was exhausted and elated as I crossed the line for the win that I joyfully shared with my hubby who went out hard and never let up, sealing our second husband & wife victory at the Lake Mtka Ice Race. :)

We were warmly welcomed in the park building with tasty burgers, dogs, and beers and friends.  It was so hard to leave after all the fun and laughs that filled the building began to fade, but the couch and some cozy blankets were calling our names.

Come Sunday morning, we refueled with family over a tasty brunch, inside from the increasing winds as the latest frigid blast moved into MN.  The food was warm, tasty, and it was great to celebrate my Dad's, step-mom's and step-sis's birthday over mimosas and bloody's.

To keep things interesting, I got to attend my first (and probably only) event at the Minikahda Country Club via our lululemon holiday party in the Paddle House.  We had awesome food from Brassa and cold beers and Sangria to top it off.  It was so much fun to finally get to know my knew coworkers better, enjoying stories away from the store and laughing as we played Cards Against Humanity and were challenged to play outside in spite of the negative 21 degree windchills.

Although part of me wanted to bail due to the temps, my love for trying new things layered up on the clothing and headed outside with my friends to try out Paddle Tennis outside on their heated courts.  It was so much fun!  I laughed my ass off as I biffed on a huge swat of the paddle, or as Kyle sent the ball souring out of the fences and into a snowbank. As the minutes ticked by, I was baffled by my dwindling motor skills and screaming backside... I think I was literally freezing my ass off out there!  I only made it some five minutes before I had to call it a night, just as Jay & Rosco drove up to take me home in a warm car.  We hugged our goodbyes and I headed home with my boys to close out yet an another amazing weekend with my loved ones, taking on new challenges and exploring new avenues of joy.

Meditation. Sweat. Laughter. Pain. FroZen. Joy. Love.

Finding Zen in any way I can,
Kristy Kreme

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Gettin' Fat in '14

Last year, Hwood created a monster... he got me a fat bike.  We rode all winter.  And, when the temps got below 20, we bought goggles... below 10, added a layer... negative 5?  Hot pads in the boots and stayed deep in the woods & out of the wind.  Yep, it was awesome!  No more of that lazy, bon bon eatin', beer drinking winter months, loading up on chips and unwanted lbs.... we stayed fit and STRONG!  It totally blew me away come spring when I had the strength and stamina to master spring training rides with Ronnie, Timmer, and the crue.

So, once the snow started to fall, my bike beckoned me from the rafters... it's beautiful out... all you need is a base layer... don't you miss your goggles?  I have pink rim tape... go show the boys a thing or two...

Unfortunately, and unbalanced work-life and another bout with the flu kept us from playing much before the holidays, but that was soon to change.  We got out of the house a couple weekends ago to take on the Elm Creek trails for the first time at the Frozen Frolic (fat bike time trial).  The temps were cool and the wind brisk, making me second-guess my layering skills multiple times.  Luckily, our sponsor and awesome clothing supplier, Podiumwear, also specialized in ski clothing!  With their jacket, hat, ear warmers, neck cozy, and ski pants on, I stayed warm and dry from start to finish. Thanks, Podiumwear!  Love your gear!

We were able to sneak out for a couple miles before race start and try to learn a bit of the course.  The trail was amazing, well-packed, and had some killer flow!  We were allowed to self-seed at the start and I found a gap in the guys and jumped in.  Within a few miles, I caught my 15 sec rabbit, but a slight dab of the foot on the turn let him get away.  I tried to stay on the gas hard, trying to stay ahead of the women I knew were lined up somewhere behind me - Kris & Martha, two amazingly talented riders.

The trail undulated through the trees with enough elevation to make me work hard for it, and enough descents to provide ample recovery time. From my love of time trials, I found calm and excitement in the sound of my breath intertwined with the snow crunching beneath my Surly tires.  Winding, weaving around trees, allowing my rear wheel to float through the turns, pedaling, climbing, stay in front.

I kept on the gas for 10 miles and was exhausted as I crossed the finish.  Once the results were tallied, I found out that I won my first fat bike race!  Martha and Kris were close in their times, so I know I still have a lot of work to do, but they were such great competition that they had me running scared the whole time.  Love you gals!
So, what comes next?  The chicken eats eggs for breakfast and heads out to yet another fat bike race!

We followed up the next weekend with "Get Phat with Pat", put on by Pat, owner of Penn Cycle and the one I got my sweet 9Zero7 fat bike from.  Held down at the River Bottoms in Bloomington, we were in for a great treat... oh yeah, plus four inches of fresh powder to contend with.  Lucky for us, they busted ass to make the race great and packed down the course with a snowmobile before the event.

I lined up with the boys & gals of the elite race and readied myself for the flat road rollout.  Looking at the huge talent toeing the line, I knew it was gonna go out fast and hard, so I tried to prep myself to dig deep for the intro in an attempt to get good positioning in the single track.  The race started and I tried to tuck into the slipstream of anyone I could, holding on for the 1st half of the road but missed the gap to the chase group and found myself solo in between the leaders and the rest of us.

We hit the single track and I quickly found one gal off her bike in the deep snow that lined the narrow track (one I hadn't seen before), and knew I had to give it all.  I passed her and another rider within the first couple miles and made the first turn in the course when I saw a red arrow painted in the snow.  As I pedaled forth, my mind second-guessed me... did you see a second arrow?  In a panic, I turned around and found a second arrow.. WTF?  I hung around for 10 seconds or so until Martha came upon the seen.  We chatted and voted on following the first arrow - good choice! - and found ourselves back on course.  But my mind now took over... you just lost 10 sec. lead you had....GO!!!  

So, at every moment I could find speed, I took it.  When the ruts in the snow split, I tried to choose the best one.  When the course was hard packed like concrete, I was out of my saddle, punching hard and trying to get away.  Clumsy, I would slip any time I attempted to look over my shoulder and gauge my lead, so I quit looking and rode.  Into lap two, I struggled a bit in the first section of single track.. maybe it was fatigue setting in.. maybe I was flying even though I felt slower.. keep attacking... keep going!

Once I hit the final 180 and settled in for the last few miles to the finish, some sort of Jedi focus settled in.  Breathe in, pedal, breathe out, pedal, lean, pedal, breathe, coast, turn, pedal.  The trees around me melted into a blur as my eyes were deadset on the trail in front of me.  As I rode under a beautiful canopy of branches coated with fresh powder, I took a moment to dream of taking a photo of it and locked it into memory.

Leaving the single track and dancing on my pedals to the finish line, I left every ounce of power I had on the trail.  Collapsing at the line, Jay grabbed my bike and tried to help me as all the energy drained from my legs.  I did it - I held them off for my 2nd win... now how am I gonna find the energy to go to work tonight?  It was amazing and I still can't believe it all happened so fast and was so much fun!
With exhausted legs the next morning, I chose only to watch the next day's fat bike race but bailed on that when my husband decided not to ride. We headed home where he retreated to the couch for Broncos time and I headed out with Sarah and Tessy for a chilly urban ride on my skinny tires to help make a winter cycling film for Nice Ride MN.  We set out for an hour ride - a perfect pace and distance to spin out my lactic acid-ridden legs.  Although the wind had a chill to it, the warmth of my company distracted from the bite in my cheeks. 

When we finally stopped to part ways, I was stopped by the stunning collection of snow on my rear wheel.... so pretty in the sunset.  I was exhausted when I returned home, but completely understood the fatigue when the clock revealed the ride had gone three hours long.  Oh how time flies when you're having fun!

Riding outside in the winter is one of my most favorite things to do... it's crisp and cold, it's a great way to view the splendor of winter and breathe in the fresh air, and it gets me off the couch and away from the tv.  Ride a trainer - please, NO!  Tonite, unfortunately, Jay's bringin' home the trainers and making us ride... ewwww!  But, we've gotta get these legs in shape for the ice race!!!!  One of the first 10 races I ever did was an ice race and it's a sick passion for me.. Can't wait!!!

If you haven't taken your cycling life outside in the winter, I urge you to try it.. it's amazing!  Just be safe and prepare for the temps appropriately!  It'll make the experience that much better.

Making faces at the trainer in my living room,
Kristy Kreme

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014... already?!

Looking back, I see it's been WAY too long since last I wrote.  Luckily, Mother Nature kept us inside today, so I finally got to download the last 3 months of photos I've taken and finally got my write-up of Cross for Tots done!

This year, since I'm so ... challenged... at keeping to my resolutions, I've chosen rather to focus on my Intention for 2014 instead.  By definition, it's "the thing to plan to do or achieve: an aim or purpose".

In 2014, my primary Intention is Balance.  Work/life balance is key, and will provide me the time I wish I had to write each week.  Time at home with my boys.  Time with my bike on the trail or peacefully cruising down the road.  Time for vacation and exploring the great outdoors. Time to explore my own desires and to try new things. And a career that fulfills me, challenges me, but doesn't consume my life.. rather, supports it.

Joy. Peace. Happiness. Confidence. Adventure. Achievement.  These are the things I want to bring into my life in 2014, and I will focus my energy on funneling them into each day.

And, with the great success and amazing joy that came from Cross for Tots in 2013, my intention in 2014 is to grow Cross for Tots into an even better event this coming season!  No longer skipping years, we're going to host CX4Tots yearly to help support our favorite charity...  I can't wait!

Until that time comes, I've had a ton of fun warming up and working out on my fat bike or thawing out at hot yoga.  Go figure, what they say about yoga is true... I'm hooked!

Now, I'm off to finish the laundry and catch up on all those other small things a 7-day work week keeps  me from.  **Fingers crossed** that I get accepted for a full time gig with lulu so I can actually have a day off each week. ;)

Stay Warm and Dream Big in 2014!
Kristy Kreme