About HeyRachey

Regular gal discovers gonzo streak midlife. Likes to push self and go fast. Wants to practice (and turn others on to) strength, endurance, speed and audacious authorship of our lives. Life doesn't stay still. Best we move with it.

My Revealing Shopping List

ImageI was at the check out stand at Pharmaca about to swipe my card for a bottle of Tranquil Sleep melatonin supplement when I realized that the one other item on my shopping list for the day was coffee. With this clever nudge from the cosmos I was persuaded to take a closer look at my habits.

Sometimes it’s right in front of you and you look through it. Of course I was aware I was both drinking coffee and occasionally taking a sleep aid, but somehow it hadn’t penetrated to a meaningful layer of my psyche that those two things might be related. Or maybe I didn’t want them to be because that would suggest I do something different. But laughing with the Pharmaca cashier, something clicked. I had a realization, a new intention and the seed of a new behavior. These days I’m sporting a matcha green tea or a rooibos latte, with rice milk tastes great, but with oat milk gets divinely frothy.

I think this is common in behavior change situations. You identify something you want to change, but there’s a lot of ambiguity about actually doing stuff differently. Because you also love things the way they are. And you’re just so dang used to doing what you do.

What contradiction is staring you in the face and waiting for you to notice?

Part Two of the Broken Ironman: Ride Done!

ImageIt was after dark and a little chilly, coming in past Bellingham’s Victorian storefronts and through the salt air to Boundary Bay Brewery. So happy to be done!

130 miles all told. A long ass way. And I do mean ass.

They set the Chuckanut Century ride up in two big loops, each 62 miles. One goes to the South with spectacular coastal and island views of Chuckanut drive, through gorgeous Skagit Valley blueberry, dahlia, corn farms, to the wedge shaped Samish Island in Padilla Bay and then returns to downtown Bellingham. The second loop goes North into vintage 1890s neighborhoods, onto the Lummi Reservation, Ferndale, the outskirts of Blaine with views of Canada, Birch Bay resort and back to downtown Bellingham. All along the way you get blasts of snowy Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan.

I’m so glad I chose this ride. There was such a huge variety of sights. But one outcome was the realization that I want to bike tour other places. Going at that pace–slower than a drive, but still covering ground–and feeling the air, smelling grasses, fruits and manure–makes it such a way to tour. So maybe more of that in the future.

What do you do think about when you’re riding a bike all day long, mostly alone? I thought about my dear pal David, our families and pals, my clients and people in my classes–how lucky I am to have all of you playing with and influencing me. I also found myself spontaneously singing. Songs popped into my head–I don’t know why. My brain just seemed wired to a cosmic radio frequency and suddenly I’d be singing a song out of nowhere. Not a thematic radio station like Pandora, way more random. A simple children’s song by Raffi called Thanks A Lot. The Band’s Rocking Chair. Grey Seal. Glenn Miller. Leonard Cohen. Joni. Michael Jackson.

I took breaks about every 20 miles. I took pictures. I stopped for lunch in between loops and David got me fed and rubbed my shoulders. The hardest part was the 15 miles after lunch, when another 62 miles seemed incomprehensible. But I think an endorphin thing happens to me around 75 miles, because some of my best times were at 85, 90, 100 miles.

I talked to myself. I did a lot of mental fragmentation to keep my sanity in the face of the big distance. You can apply this break-it-up strategy to anything. I would say to myself, “Okay, in 10 miles I’ll be 3/4 of the way done!” Or “In less than an hour I’ll hit 100 miles.” Or I would use a familiar length designation to encourage myself – “10 miles to the rest stop– that’s just down to Seward Park, around and back home.”

When the odometer clicked over 112 miles, which is the actual distance of an Ironman ride, I imagined getting off the bike and preparing to run 26.2 miles. And I felt, at that moment at least, very little attraction to actually doing an Ironman. I know a few friends and a former coach will be sad to hear me say that, but I don’t think it’s my thing.

130 miles is a shit long time to ride a bike. I’m proud of having done it. It feels great to know what my body can do. And as the middle part of my Broken Ironman, this ride was excellent and required. Big endurance tests aside, I believe I aspire to a more modest experience where I can take in a smaller set of vistas, and remember more detail rather than the blur of road.

Here are some images from the day.

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Hey Canada, I got your 130 miles right here!

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Cattail shadow selfie

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Dahlia farm

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Just outside Ferndale you come over a stout hill and there’s Mt Baker

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Lunch with my favorite domestique. How could I possibly do another 62 miles?

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I like this kind of thing. Skagit Valley between Bow Hill and Edison.

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Chuckanut Drive is like a giant panoramic Sunset Magazine cover shot

Big Ride Eve

Evangeline at Agate PassTomorrow morning around 7am, I launch on Part Two of the Broken Ironman, the double metric century bike ride. 200K equals 124 miles, a good 40 miles longer than the longest training ride I’ve done. It’s the Chuckanut Century out of Bellingham, Washington. It’s gorgeous up here and the weather is perfect. I’m feeling a wee bit nervous, but I’m just going to turn the pedals over, groove on the vistas up to Canada and down toward the San Juan Islands, stay hydrated and ride rest stop-to-rest stop. David joins me for the first segment and from then on I’ll be making new friends.

Thanks pals, for the encouragement, the cycling wisdom and how-to, and the training rides! Stand by for photos and stories…

 

Part One of the Broken Ironman: Swim Done!

10590539_4443130374133_1947234673108336254_nI swam like an eagle (i.e.; technique wasn’t pretty), but the elements and experience were epically gorgeous. Seattle did its meteorological thing on Wednesday morning and brought a sudden cool, cloudy and very windy couple of hours that coincided perfectly with our swim event–the Puget Sound Blood Center’s Swim For Life. My crossing (somewhere between 2.2 and 2.5 miles) took 90 minutes and it was the roughest open water swim I’ve ever done by a long shot. Fortunately our team had two paddlers–David DeBusk in a kayak and Richard Wardell kneeling on a paddleboard. I was completely dependent on Richard since the waves were too high to sight effectively without stopping entirely and sticking my head up. My swim partners–Michael Lamb, Paul Coldren and Patty Gustaveson all swam beautifully. Whenever I caught up to them taking a short break they were tittering like they were at a cocktail party. Well done all!

Image 6 At the start side Medina Beach (above)…and the finish side Madison Park Beach (below)…!

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Tomorrow We Swim!

The first event of my Broken Ironman happens tomorrow (Wednesday) morning! It’s the Puget Sound Blood Center’s Swim for Life–fundraiser for bone marrow testing and matching. I’ll be swimming from Medina Park to Madison Park 2.25 miles (Okay not quite the Ironman distance of 2.4, but we’re going call it good.) David DeBusk and Tony Zanol will be escorting by kayak and I’ll be swimming with Patty Gustaveson, Michael Lamb, Paul Coldren, Molly Martinez, Margaret Kineke, Christine Stepherson, and a bunch of others. Wish us well and watch for my report soon. As my dad used to say as we nosed the canoe into the V of the rapids, “Once more, into the void!”

 

An Open Water Swimmer is Born

Evernote Camera Roll 20140725 112839This was a shot of joy. My friend Stokley’s daughter Lavinia (aka Lava) who is 13 and has been a pool swimmer for a few years told me she wanted to try lake swimming. I loaned her a wetsuit and off we went with Stokley paddling the orange kayak escort. Lava was born to it. Duck weed, which sends many pool swimmers into gross-out convulsions, was just laughable to her. Deep water, not an issue. Lurking creatures were just points of curiosity. Since she’s fluent in several strokes, Lava could swim along at a good freestyle pace, and then breast stroke to get a better sighting, and flip over and backstroke to take a little breather. I kept checking to see if she wanted to grab onto a nearby dock for a rest and each time she said, “No I’m fine. The houses look so cool from here!”

Lava says she’s up for more open water, and I can’t wait.

A River Ran Through It – 11-Mile Montana Run

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North Fork of the Blackfoot River near Ovando

I can get anxious before training runs. Add a strange location where I don’t know the route; add 90-degree heat, gusty wind and smoke from distant forest fires; add an altitude of 4000 feet and a schedule of events with lots of other people that require I get the run done at a specific time. My obsessive psyche goes a little nuts with each possibility. This was the scenario weekend before last for my 11-mile training run during a trip to Montana for Paul Porte’s 50th birthday.

Paul grew up in Helena and chose the town of Ovando, about an hour west, for his birthday encampment and Blackfoot River flotilla. 40 pals or so in tents around an old farmhouse.

I should learn from this. All my pre-run anxiety was unnecessary. It was one of my top five best run experiences ever, not just for the spectacular vistas, but the fact that nothing (heat, fuel/drink, altitude, or physical issue) caused much, if any, problem.

The Worries, Dispenesed With:

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These guys ran up to check me out.

Route. I’d worried about it being hard to know how to map out 11 miles since I didn’t know the roads. I didn’t want to run on a highway. There was no cell phone reception so I couldn’t map the way with my phone. What if the terrain turned out to be mountainous? Well, thanks to Greg Morris for dusting away all those baseless fears. The road by our encampment ran for 30 easily rolling miles through the picture of big sky pastures and foot hills. For a mile or two I ran alongside and then over the Blackfoot itself.

Heat. Though afternoon temperatures did get up to 90, I got out at 7am and it was mid-60s. I was sweating by the end, but it just made me welcome the mounting breeze.

Gusty Wind. See above. It was welcome.

Smoke. There was none. It blew away.

Altitude. I thought for sure this would zap me since I’ve felt weak running at 3000 feet. Maybe it’s the combination of altitude and heat, and since I beat the heat by going early, I could handle the former.

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Halfway point 5.5 miles

I returned to the birthday village blissed out, stretched and had some frittata and melon. And immediately began worrying about my upcoming 13-miler in Kansas City.

Run done, I return to the Ovando farmhouse and tent village

Run done, I return to the Ovando farmhouse and tent village