A blessed life lived...

 Back together again...

We're so grateful for the two of you....

An Update, Some Pics, a PSA & Tribute to Repo...

Because I haven't been able to handle the suck-factor of saying over and over and over and over: "Thanks for asking, but no, I'm sorry I can't go ride/run/play/etc w/you today either because....knee...old....no there's nothing docs can do....patellar...osteo...broken bone-chips....blah blah blah", I've pretty much gone off the social grid for a while. Saying it over and over doesn't exactly reinforce optimism so I opted to just not be faced w/having to answer everyone's questions (altho I know they all mean well).

So, yeah yeah yeah, all is fine, and at the end of the day, it's a grand old world out there and maybe sometimes better appreciated at a slow speed (boring! ha!).  I've got some awesome friends and family and I couldn't be better blessed/lucky in that department!!  (Thanks for the invites and don't give up on me....I plan to join in again soon.)   Life is good!  61+ years to go still!

So, same ol same ol....ol knee is really no better/worse than 1 week before/after surgery. $30K wasted and humility gained.  I've accepted laying off certain activities for a while, and I've been able to incorporate some hiking, some decent riding miles although mainly road (new roadbike!), the canals and fireroads and a few miles of singletrack here and there.  No real singletrack, definitely no descending.  And every few days, there've been some short "runs".  I definitely miss running the most...the freedom, the speed, the simplicity and definitely the runner's bod (and the nightly cookies)! :)

Shonny & Wild Horses @ Salt River

Some canal riding down in the valley....still amazes me that this is so close to Urbania.

Schilling leading the way on a lil exploratory ride.

Hiking "Hangover" w/Turner dog and his mama Timoni.


Also,  have been working on LOTS of work on STRENGTH/MOBILITY - the other reason for this post.  If you're my family reading this (or even some blog-cruiser), listen up....  

Over the past few years, I kept thinking, I run I ride I climb blah blah blah why in the heck would I need to touch weights and gain strength?!  I'm already strong!!  Why? ...well because I most likely could've avoided -- or at least postponed -- a lot of the permanent damage in my knees.  As triathletes/runners/cyclists, we hear this all the time, but most of us or like "whatever...won't happen to me, I'm invincible! I'm strong! I'm a bad-ass!"   And sometimes WE need it most, because we're always only moving in one direction...forward!  Our lateral mobility, our core strength, dynamic strength, etc is generally lacking sorely. And lord help us if we ever have to jump vertically! We further neglect what we don't use and any little idiosyncrasie is amplified and before ya know it, joints aren't tracking properly, muscles/tendons/soft-tissue/etc might get all mangled and simply trying to adapt to our bad form. Of course, this leads into a zillion topics and lessons, but I wanted to at least highlight a few steps to improving yourself ASAP!

If you're super-athletic or happy in retirement and fishing from a boat....take care of yourself, keep up your strength, your mobility,...!  At least do some basics. Use weights....they need not be supremely heavy, but use some.  And really, it's all about your FORM and ENGAGING PROPERLY. Over the past 10 yrs, I actually thought I was doing the best things...kept 'working out' and even regularly did lots of strength yoga; but looking back, there were a lot of subtle form faults I had...more like "workarounds" that I invented.  From the outside, it looked fine, but I wasn't "engaging" what really needed to be engaged.  Form, form, form!!   Start w/your body weight for the first few weeks if that's all you can do. Then work on weights, more dynamics later.  Make iT fun, just do it.  Women in my family....this is mainly for you!!!  Either way, I feel obligated to put this out there.  I wish I'd been pressured/bullied into more of this sooner.  Yes, there's so much we should be doing, but at least start here....the absolute basics! All ya might need is a band ($5), and you can improvise w/everything else til ya get it dialed in.  You'll notice a difference after the first session or two!  Do it!    (Got questions? hit me up! I'll bombard you w/references/ videos/whatever...I want everyone healthy!  And family: next time we're all at the river-house, there shall be group sessions on the dock! :-)

  - SQUAT (Box-squat is awesome, esp for those of us w/bad knees. Knees over feet, load those hams/glutes not knees.)
  - DEADLIFTS (double and single leg)
  - STEP-UPS (forward and lateral)
  - BANDWALKS - lateral, forward, ackward walking (stiff legged, primarily engage supporting leg/glute)
  - PUSH-UPS - I hated these in the army even though I could outpush all the guys. 
  - PLANKS - all sorts of variations here...the standard "front leaning rest", side (lift that top leg to further engage your supporting leg/glute/core), knee to elbow, knee to shoulder,....
  - LATERAL TWISTS - highly neglected areas for runners/cyclists. Use weights for counter-balance; incorporate via lunge w/weight/pulleys,...great for stability/core!
  - PULLUPS/ROWERS and OVERHEAD PRESS - we spend so much time hunching over (driving, typing, cycling, swimming,....fix it! :)

LIVIN' . . . 

Ok, so after that PSA, here are some obligatory photos of the warmest/driest winter I've experienced in AZ.  For immediate selfish reasons, it's been awesome.  For the potential problems in the future (drought, summer fires, forest closures, wildlife dismay, etc.), it's really not been ideal.  Hopefully, we'll get some precip soon.

Up Mingus on the roadbike.

Went out for my first "big" day on the MTB and was just gonna stick mainly to old jeep/mining roads and play it by ear.  Had my first ever sidewall slice (actually my first flat in 4+ years) so of course I was ill-prepared and got to walk 4 miles to the "main" dirt road (was walking on it for an hour before the first truck rolled by...dusted me out), then I hitched a ride w/a local landscaper and his wife for another 20 mins on dirt then about 20 mins back into town on hardball.  I sat happily in the back w/a bunch of rakes, hoes, shovels, chainsaw, weedeater and ol caballo.  Somehow, I was still absolutely stoked about finally getting a healthy dose of sunshine and challenge, both which I've been lacking lately.

Just a mere moment before the torn sidewall. Pedaling out of that wash below, I heard pshhhhhhhh, for all of about 10 secs. When I took this pic, I thought, wow, what a gorgeous day, then...pshhhhhhh. Ha!

At least I had a good view when walking the carbon caballo.

Last time that we (me & the mtb) had to hitch a ride, I met/found one of the coolest guys all the planet.  (Not really the case on this day though, or at least I don't think so....they didn't speak much english nor I much espanol. I think they thought I was nuts.  Yeah, prolly.)

1st venture on singletrack in over a month. Some hard-earned views way up there (ie. HAB)

Back toward Mingus.

Everyone has their own preferences/needs on their bikes - race, cruise, huck, jump, rail, flow, trial, socialize, spin,....or combinations thereof.  One of mine of course is to climb.
Must go up.
Must suffer.
Must live.
Will love.
Ahhhhhh...the rhythmic breathing and synthesis between the deep breaths, the churning pedals and the flaring nostrils.

So when I see towers high atop a mountain somewhere I immediately wonder about it's scraggly old dirt road/trail to the top.  I'd driven by these towers on Ord for years and finally was reminded/prompted via a buddy's strava post that it remained unseen (by me).  Not sure if ol lefty could handle it, why not try?!  So, up I pedaled.  Not the longest of rides, certainly not techy, but exactly what I needed.  1:20+ of up up up.  Knee felt good, body entirely unfit, but ahhhhh, the soul felt DIVINE!!!!

Looking back down (south) from the top/towers...Roosevelt Lake to the left (SE) and Canyon/Saguaro lakes to the right (SW, behind tree).  Over 3200' in 6 miles.  Yessss!

The rugged terrain goes on and on and on, only w/a few squiggly lines of old mining roads....most of which beg to be ridden.

One of the few "flat" sections, which was on the skinny spine of the ridgeline.

And I'd be remiss if I didn't post one more pic of Repo who lived his last day last week and was laid to rest today.  Always making us laugh, contributing to the world and living his life fully...


Makin' Lemonade Outta Injury/Recovery...

Well, knee surgery has come and gone. 

I was on the bike the very next morning.  Of course it was just a stationary trainer at the phys therapist's office, but I was surprised (and excited, and scared) that they'd wanted me on it so quickly. Seven whole minutes.  

I was pretty optimistic the first week.  But it's been three now and it still hurts.  The worst of the pain is gone (the bone fragment that had gotten lodged in the joint), but the bone-on-bone dead front/center of the kneecap....ouch.  Trying to be optimistic, trying to be patient, definitely being conservative.  I realize this is NOT one of those times to "suck it up" and push through it, as doing so would just fracture the bone further. I've been super lucky to be in the hands of the team at Athlete's Performance, although they can't help when it comes down to my impatience, my "wear and tear" and now travelling again.

Was so hard to go from all day of riding/playing this summer to nada, zip, zilch.  All that altitude/base/climbing work...gone.  The positive, however, though is that AT LEAST I GOT SOME AMAZING RIDING IN THIS YEAR!  Keep having to remind myself of that!  Colorado multiple times, Chile/Andes and home sweet home Arizona.  Definitely earned some good dirt this year (and a few podium spots somehow).  I'll savor that, but we all know it's really all about TOMORROW.  So, I'm hopeful I won't have to rely on past memories.

And not that I like lap-swimming (hate it!), but I was really looking forward to getting the stitches out and at least getting back in the pool. Was craving getting my heart-rate up again.  The the Dr said "no"...wait another week for the ports to close/heal up.  Ughhh.  

So, I loaded up the truck with my bike/trainer, all the cold-weather clothes I own and my buddies' dog who I was supposed to dog-sit for anyway (I love me some Turner!), and headed back to Colorado.  I figured I could sulk at home or sulk at 9500' elev and w/a new view; also knew I would never go there if I weren't injured as I hate the cold and feel limited in snow.  So, this was a perfect time to see its awe, pedal in place and try something new. 

In the interim, some random shots of what kept me occupied before/during/after surgery.  Thank goodness for good friends and amazing canines! :)

Buddy Jen & me. Two desert rats trying out some SUP (paddleboardin'). 

Looking for wild burros out on the paddleboard the night before surgery. (A redrockchica "tradition" it seems.) 

One of the several loose bone fragments Dr pulled out.

36 hrs later on trainer. John/Jen's back deck...w/loyal ol' Kelly-dog.

Loaded up and heading to the Rockies. Turner-dog in tow.

Of course, a blizzard hit immediately. Turned out to be kinda fun.

The next morning.  Ooo la la.

Then back to AZ...

My first "real" ride.  My buddy Schillingsworth gave me a tour of some of the canal routes and hung back at my snail's pace. Flat but at least outside!  Happy to have wind in my face again. (Don't mock the kit, I was out of practice and it was surprisingly freezing down in the valley. Whatevah!)

Extra big thanks to the crew who put up w/my injured ol' bootay and who cut me some slack on me being jealous every time they talked about their adventures outside!  Especially thanks to Jen, John, the girls, Dredd, Ed, RE, BP, Matt, MB, JZ,...gracias!!




 Looking up toward (and longing for) Four Peaks.

for those i've been slack on comms with recently....sorry....no excuses.  just some insight.

w/this injured hinge, i'm living inside a body in which i'm not familiar, not at home.  it doesn't do what the rest of it wants to do.  it wants to sprint up a mountain, pedal over a crest, a million other things that it doesn't even yet know it wants til it gets its urge.  

but now it's just a shell that the girl inside is trying so hard not to be mad at, trying to stay loyal and thankful because that same shell -- and broken hinge -- is pretty much solely responsible for the best days of her life, biggest/hardest lessons learned in life, and surely for some of the biggest grins ever.  

the heart and soul and legs and lungs and wild eyes want to run as hard as i can, but the hinge won't have it. that little millimeter of "ouch" is a meteor-size NO!   so while i have all this time on my hands, it'd seem easy, practical actually, to just take advantage of doing other things, and perhaps to get to know someone/something new.  but it's not that easy.  i dont want someone learning this version of me.  i dont even like this version of me.  it's foreign.  it's so far out of my element and comfort zone.  it's a lot to handle up in the ol 'nogin.

spoiled i must sound, and spoiled i surely am.  my life has been about movement about freedom about doing what the body wants....and now the emergency brake is on and i dont want it to be.  time is ticking and i've got to relearn a rhythm...hopefully a temporary one in hopes that this is fixable, that I myself will be fixable.

i rely on no one but myself for contentment, for fun, for grins, for satisfaction....and right now i've let myself down.  but i can't be mad at that little worn-out hinge.  i've surely abused it, and i'm sure it's already given me, in my short lifetime, far more than most would ever dream of.  so woe is me and my spoiled rotten little pity party, haha.  i'll survive.  it's not cancer, i realize. life is not over.  but it is a big deal for me and showing myself in this light is ill-advised.  while yes, it's the real me, it's not the best me, and it's really not even a passing grade.  i'm too distracted w/HEAL HEAL HEAL...

in the interim, there's a big ol purty world outside and i need to admire it...and figure out how to either get me running on its ridgelines and/or just exploring it while letting the lil hinge heal up.

And finally, the sun setting upon Four Peaks....a special few moments of pure chance that I was able to see the sunkiss upon the peaks in the one saddle where the peaks peaked through.  A sweet ending to a sweet day....