Summer Lovin’ Part I

The summer flew past like a…well something that flies really fast…I feel like I sneezed and then BAM! Halloween candy is already on display in the store. I like the fall though—it’s the calm before the storm of the holiday season. The air gets a little brisker. It’s ok to turn the oven on because it isn’t blazing outside. Plus, I get to wear boots again!

I feel like it has been an unremarkable summer in terms of events. I cancelled my “A” race this year (Barb’s Race) because my knee was a little grouchy in June. I think this is a trend in my life—I have a couple years of being super event driven, and then take a year of being sporadic with events and not having goal races, or perhaps being injured. For every Seattle to Portland Ride, there is a “sidelined by dislocating my knees baking cookies” type of event.

But there has been some good stuff that I managed to squeeze in between episode of Real Housewives (the trifecta hit in mid-July: 3 Real Housewives franchises—New Jersey, OC, and New York all aired at the same time. It was almost too much for my psyche to absorb) and Bachelor in Paradise (by the way—are they competing for something? Like money? Or are they all really there to find love for the #rightreasons? Asking for a friend.).

Here is some of the good stuff:
Mountain Biking: I got a mountain bike for my birthday. The few times I rode it, I was a hyperventilating mess and scared out of my mind. It is soooooo different from road biking. Fortunately, I was able to get into the Specialized Women’s Sports Camp held in Truckee in early August. I took the Mountain Bike camp. I was definitely way out of my comfort zone and the newbiest of the newbies in attendance. The first morning, we practiced techniques at a pump track. According to, a pump tracks are “manmade closed circuits with rollers in between and berms at each end. They are designed to be ridden without pedaling. A full-body workout, riders use their body to pump—or push down into the dip after an elevation and pull up before the crest of a mound—throughout the continuous loop.”

We learned drops, and wheelies and cornering. After 4 hours at the pumptrack, I was totally like this.

HAHAHAHAHA. YEAH RIGHT. I was a HOT MESS. After an hour of struggling through riding at the pump track I could feel the tears bubbling over in my eyes. There was one point where we had to ride over continuous mounds. Just looking down at them made me want to vomit. I couldn’t do it. I was overcome with fear and anxiety. I WISH I had the confidence of that little toddler in the video.

Fortunately, the instructors and participants in the class were way cool and understanding. And then something occurred to me. When they were telling me it was ok that I was having a hard time with the exercises, my gut response was to say “I am sorry.” I started to open my mouth to say those words and stopped. Sometimes I think as women we tend to apologize when we can’t do anything the BEST. I see this a lot in the sports world—“Sorry I swam so slow.” Or “Sorry it took me so long to get up that hill.”

Sometimes when I say “sorry” it is really discounting what I just did, and also making me think to myself that I wasn’t worthy enough to do something awesome and I had no business being there.

But, hey SOMEONE had to be the slowest that day—so I gladly took that honor. I was truly impressed by the women there who boldly tried out all the tricks we learned. How did they do that? Weren’t they scared out of their minds?

Later that afternoon we did a mellow trail ride in Northstar. EEEK! I stayed in the back the whole time. Mountain biking is a lot like yoga—you have to practice mindfulness and pay attention to your body and where it is going and NOT be distracted by other things. The big difference is that in mountain biking if you let your mind wander, you could go tumbling down a ravine. Though road biking is challenging, it is pretty straightforward—you see the road—look out for cars—stop at stop signs—suffer climbing Mt. Hamilton. Mountain biking is a whole other animal. First off, in addition to riding over dirt, you ride over rocks. ROCKS! Sometimes you might be on a single track trail and there is a sharp uphill turn that you have to go up AND go over rocks. Sometimes you have to go DOWNHILL over rocks and crazy turns and stop suddenly because there is a log in your way and you haven’t quite mastered popping your front tire.

Dennis had a blast while I was at the camp. He and his friends mountain biked at Northstar. They took the ski gondola to the top of the mountain and biked down, which sounds like my own personal hell. After dinner we went back to the condo we had for the weekend and I grimaced at my mountain bike. “Listen you,” I told it, “YOU are not on my good side right now. You are DEFINITELY not like pink bike, and I feel like you could hurt me. We need to get to know each other better because honestly, I am not feeling I can trust you right now.”

“Seriously,” I asked Dennis, “Why is mountain biking so hard for me?”

And Dennis, smart, rationale, all-knowing Dennis responded as only he could, “Because it’s new to you. It’s been awhile since you learned something new.”

Well, duh, obvi. So, I told myself, cut yourself some slack, Jill.

The following day we did another ride at Tahoe Donner park. It was beautiful—some parts of the single track were challenging but I was surprised at how the uphill felt pretty good. My road bike riding paid off.

Barb’s Race: so instead of racing Barb’s, I decided to spectate and cheer some friends on. Plus, I was able to go visit my sister who just moved to Santa Rosa in March. In between cheering friends on, my friend La Ree and I got breakfast and pedicures. A girl could get used to this. I got to see my friends Nancy and Cat finish their first half-ironman at a race that I had a soft spot for. Pretty awesome!

Alcatraz: I have swum Alcatraz twice. The first time was the Alcatraz challenge in 2008. It was bananas—and I vowed to myself to never swim it again. But then in 2012 I decided to do a private swim with some friends with a guy who takes you out on a boat. It was an amazingly calm day on the bay and I felt like I had some Alcatraz closure.

My friend, Diane, is insane and LOVES that swim. She was planning on doing the Alcatraz Challenge the first weekend in August and asked if I wanted to do it. I said, “Hell no!” Then I thought about it, “Can we go to brunch after?” She said, “Sure—I will even BUY your brunch.” She must have caught me when I was hungry because suddenly I found myself registering for the swim.

In summary—since this post is getting a bit long winded—the swim was bananas AND mangoes. You and 200 of your newest friends take a ferry out to Alcatraz and jump out the boat. And it isn’t like on The Bachelor (eeek! Two Bachelor references in one blog post!) when the love interests daintily leap off the catamaran. Basically, they have two minutes to get everyone off the boat. We were waiting in line and all I could here were the volunteers shouting “GO! GO! GO!” I was super nervous because last time I attempted this I kind of, um, tripped while trying to jump off the ferry. Not this time. This time you gotta be cool. So my friends Diane and Lisa jumped off and then the race people yelled at me “GO!” Ok, so I went. JUST as I jumped off the boat, I saw Diane’s head pop up. Oh. Crap. Don’t. Let. Me. Jump. On. Her.

Too late. I feel like my legs did some crazy wrestler move on her torso. We both popped out of the water and I was in a panic, “Are you ok? Are you ok?”

She had that look that toddlers have when they fall down and did not realize they could be hurt. I braced myself.
“Yeah, I am ok,” she said, “Let’s go!”

Phew. I am glad I didn’t break my ticket to brunch…er, I mean my friend.

The first part of the swim was nice and calm. Then the waves started getting super choppy. After awhile I looked over my shoulder, and Alcatraz didn’t seem to have moved. I swam some more and it felt like I was swimming by myself. I was NOT having fun. And I decided that I had the potential to have a panic attack in the water so I flagged down a kayaker and a boat came and picked me up. We then picked up 6 more swimmers…it was wild seeing the wild, rough water and all the swimmers scattered throughout the bay. They then dropped me off ½ mile from shore so we could swim to the finish. When I hit the sand, I smiled. Yay! I didn’t get swept to sea. Diane and Lisa were rock stars and swam the whole thing. And though I didn’t do the whole race I can safely say that I have closed the books on Alcatraz. Never. Again. (we will see about that)
So that’s it for Part I. Stay tuned for Part II where I demonstrate what NOT to do (i.e. train in two weeks for a 72 mile ride around Lake Tahoe.)

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