Saturday, March 14, 2020

Life Lately: CoronaVirus edition

Life has been nutty. SO nutty I don't remember the last time I wrote a blog post. A lot has happened in our lives, and a lot is happening in the world. While there is so much uncertainty, and fear and stress in the news/stores/internet, somehow there is peace and calm here in our home. Here's a bit about what we have been up to lately.

Tea makes you healthy, right?
I've been pretty sick for the last 8 days, with a gnarly head cold, coughing so hard I vomited three times Tuesday morning style gnarly. I stayed home Tuesday but I was at school every other day last week. My maternity leave back in fall was just my accumulated sick days, and after those ran out I was on differential pay, where they sub's pay comes out of my paycheck. Now when I'm sick I have to both pay the sub AND bring a dr note since my sick days are gone. I couldn't afford to pay a sub all week, and the dr I saw Monday only wrote me a note for one day, so yeah, I was teaching while I felt like death Wednesday - Friday. My school district made the announcement after school on Friday that school is cancelled for the next two weeks, and although I am sad to not be teaching I am also relieved to finally have the chance to get healthy. And another bright side is two weeks of cuddling a baby all morning 7 days a week. Double bonus good timing = being sick as a dog all week the one week it actually rains in Orange County :)

Before the illness I was in the full swing of training, which felt good. Like really good. But now more than a week into this terrible cold I feel like the train is totally off the rails. Add to that the fact that every bike race this spring has been cancelled, and it's pretty hard to feel motivated. I am still sick, so maybe when the head ache and sore throat are gone I will feel more like resetting my intentions, and jumping back in the game, but right now, man, I don't even feel like an athlete.

A picture from back when I was healthy,
what feels like a lifetime ago
On the bike note, I have been watching the posts of the other ultra endurance women I know who are/were pregnant and riding up through 40 weeks and I'm not going to lie, it's been making me feel a bit bad about myself. I'm sure their intent isn't to make others feel lazy or pathetic, but that comparison game is hard, and considering I pulled the plug on riding bikes around 32 weeks preggo, it's hard to not feel like I failed/wasn't strong enough/wasn't extreme enough when two people I know are posting every day about riding all the way through to delivery. On top of that seeing Laura's 'I hiked 5 miles 5 days ppd' stories on Insta had a similar effect, and again, I'm working really hard at telling myself that I'm not 'less than' because I am not the most extreme athlete mom in the room. I'm not sure how this translates to my social media though, because I realize that working, breastfeeding and training is a lot, and I may be making some woman out there feel bad that she wasn't doing all those things by 6 months, and I DO NOT want anyone to feel that. These are all thoughts I need to process more, but yeah, it's something I'm thinking about and dealing with. Just know though that at the end of the day I am mostly just very impressed by and stoked for Sonya and Laura. What they are doing is incredible and impressive. Just trying to keep it real at the same time.

Every day I come home, sit on the front porch and soak it in. 
Our house sold. So that's a thing. We put it on the market on Feb 27 and within a week we accepted an offer (after a brief and stressful bidding war). I'm not going to lie, I DID NOT like the process of selling the house. Thank goodness Brendan has a logical head on his shoulders because I wanted to just give the house to every person who wrote us a heartwarming letter about their family and how much they wanted to live here. Anyway, we get to stay in the house until May 15, which is really nice because the house and yard finally look like I always dreamed they would and I want to savor the next two months they are ours. This is a double bonus with the school closure, more time to enjoy our home :)

All the fruit trees blossomed at the perfect time for selling a house, and for making one second guess if they actually want to leave said house.

And that's pretty much all the time I have to record my thoughts because a baby is stirring in the next room and if I don't get up and pee now I will pay a price...

Saturday, February 1, 2020

I never said I was perfect

Story time:
Last Sunday I woke up with a route plan for my 3 hour endurance ride. Both my ride buddies had to bail (sick and working) so I decided to take the cross bike out, through Santiago Oaks around to Corona, and then up and over Skyline to Blackstar. I didn't map the route, just guessed it would be about 30-40 miles and 3 hours. By the time I got to the bottom of Skyline I knew I had underestimated the time the route would take, so I pushed it a little to the top and texted Brendan really quickly at the summit before descending Blackstar to let him know my ETA. I was stressed about the timing because the baby eats about every 3 hours and I'm also always stressed that Brendan will get pissed if I say I'll be gone for 3 and then don't come back for 4 (something I used to do ALL THE TIME pre-baby, but have been trying really hard to NOT do when he is babysitting). Despite feeling rushed though, I was taking it pretty easy because my fear of crashing is pretty intense right now (too many friends breaking themselves). At the bottom there were a thousand and one hikers so I really had to slow down. Watching the time was stressing me out though, as the 4 hour mark got closer and closer, and I started to get frusty with the groups of hikers stopped in the middle of the fire road, or walking all spread out with their dogs all over off leash. In my frustration I made a snide comment to a group that was taking up the whole road 'what, do you drive all the way across both sides of the freeway too?' and quickly realized they knew who I was when they yelled my name. oops. Long story short, they did NOT appreciate the sarcastic comment because I got an angry text with some very bad words and a mean comment on my most recent insta post (I deleted it) an hour later.

A picture of the top of Blackstar last weekend, it was a pretty epic day :)
So, yeah, I f-ed up. Instead of being the perpetually happy ambassador of all things bikes and outdoors I was maybe the opposite of that. But let's be real, I'm not perfect. And having a baby has introduced a whole new stress in my life that is all consuming sometimes. Trying to do all the things AND be the happiest, smily-est, friendliest girl is, well, not easy.

The whole incident really got me thinking over the past week. I figure the other party over-reacted a bit, but I'm thinking I'm going to use this little snafu to recommit to chilling out, to realizing when I'm stressed and to take a deep breath. The baby didn't starve, and I got home in one piece, Brendan wasn't pissed and life went on. Deep breath, everything is going to be ok.

To anyone I have brushed off, ridden past in a hurry, yelled on your left at in a less than friendly way, I'm sorry. Please forgive me, I hope next time I see you I smile and wave and you have the best ride, hike, walk, jog, whatever you like to do outdoors ever!
The end.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

On Moving, Birthdays and What I Learned in my 33rd Year of Life

Yes, you read it right, and I'm so so torn about everything in life right now.
Backstory:

When we moved down to Orange County in 2011 we talked constantly about 'when we move back to Northern California'. Brendan's job at Felt brought us here, and since it was his dream job a temporary move to SoCal was what we thought we were doing. Just how temporary we didn't know though.

The day we moved into our first house.
Over the years we bought this adorable cabin, we made lots and lots of incredible friends, I trained for thousands of hours in the Santa Ana mountains, and I got a job at my absolute dream school. When we move turned into if we move and then sometime in the last 2 years when I thought about it I realized I didn't really want to move back anymore.
And then BAM, suddenly there was a Baby.
And Brendan got laid off from Felt.
And moving back to Sonoma County became a real option again, mainly motivated by wanting toots to have a relationship with both sets of grandparents (that 8 hour drive got really old really fast).

So yeah, I am crazy sad to think about leaving this ridiculously good school. I have the world's best co-workers right now, awesome students who are unreasonably caring and sweet, amazing admin and the culture at the school and district is so so good/positive/caring. It's killing me to think about giving up working at THHS. On top of that our neighborhood, which was always cool, got really good in the last two years. All the neighbors had, or are having babies, and the energy is so fun, positive and supportive. And you know my heart belongs in the Santa Ana mountains. We currently live in a place where I can choose from five 1+ hour long climbs to do my workouts on from our front door.
The house goes on the market Feb 25th though, so that's that.
I do love Sonoma county, so it's not all sad feelings over here. It's just strange to always feel just ok about one's job and then finally when you land the perfect job at the world's best school, to give it up, that's hard.

Ok, I could go on and on about how much I love Silverado, my bike commute, etc... but I can't think about it without feeling sad, so I'm moving on.

Today is my birthday, but 34 feels like an age where birthday's don't feel much different from regular days, when all you wish for is the dishes to be done by someone else haha. Brendan is currently rebuilding the fork for my hardtail though so that's a rad present!

In the past 33 years I've learned some things, a few of which I will share here:
-Bean burritos, almond butter and jelly, peanut butter and jelly - none of these food are safe to eat within an hour of doing a workout on the bike. You WILL puke them up, promise.
new kitchen
-If you buy a fix-er-up-er house DO NOT WAIT to fix-er-up until you decide to move. There is nothing worse than living in the beautiful, functional remodeled house for only the last months after 10 years of living in a dump. Just fix-er-up as soon as you move in, you wont regret it.

Ok, that's all for my deep birthday wisdom, baby is up and I need to go cuddle the snot out of her before she becomes a teenager.
Old crappy kitchen we lived with for 9 years.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Constant state of overwhelmed

Ok, so I know it my appear that everything is rosey and perfect and bikes and babie and bliss over in our corner of Silverado, but in an effort to keep it real I have to admit I am operating in a constant state of 'overwhelmed' right now. I know this is completely my fault, because I've committed myself to too many things, but no matter how many years go by with me acknowledging that I have a tendency to overdo, somehow I keep overdoing.

Some things that are making me anxious/feeling overwhelmed: 

Coaching unified track again this year - I don't know how to say no, and although I LOVE the kids and the team and the whole concept of unified sports I have to admit I still feel under qualified. And mostly I don't feel like I have the energy for all the work I should do in order to do a GOOD job at it. And mostly it's just a huge time commitment. When track starts I have to stay at school until 3pm, and then hustle home because Brendan needs to get to work and I need to watch a baby. It means I will need to pump more at work and I probably can't bike commute as often. It means all my workouts will end up happening after dark on a trainer. And all this isn't the worst thing ever, it's just hard and new and yeah, overwhelming. 
Training to be a bike racer again - Yeah, I know this is completely on me and at any moment I can pull the plug and just NOT do it, but it's like this is part of me that I can't give up just yet. I don't know if it makes sense that I don't feel complete without training and racing, like it's a critical part of who I am, of what makes my soul happy. But at the same time it stresses me out to no end. It means I need to sleep more, be more diligent about having a 'clean' diet, to be super on top of hydration and rest so I can execute the work coach gives me. I love it, but I'm constantly questioning if it's the right thing to be doing right now, if it's selfish or ok. And the biggest stressor is that I'm worried Brendan is secretly frusty with me for being gone each time I ride (which is RIDICULOUS because he legit told me over Christmas that my dream is his dream and he wants me to train) and even if it's not true I can't turn that voice off in my mind that says 'he's really pissed at you for being gone'. 

Breastfeeding - I LOVE that I am able to breastfeed the nugget, but working and training makes me stressed that any day my boobs might dry up and stop producing (which takes us back to 'should I be training in the first place?'). I hope it doesn't sound like complaining because I know I'm super lucky to be breastfeeding at all, but just for the sake on honesty it's stressing me out. 
Kitchen is 95% done!

Flipping and selling the house - This one is improving, but there is an overwhelming amount of work to be done on the yard which is just plain... overwhelming. At this point there is no looking back and we will list the house done or not in February, but I just want to see what the house could be if all the projects I want to do get completed, and letting go of that is hard. 






So yeah, feeling the feels right now. At the end of the day though I do think that doing hard things is worth it, and I want our daughter to grow up knowing that it's valuable to do hard things, to work hard, to not back down from challenges. But at the same time I don't want to model the idea that you have to be over the top busy to have value in this world. Balance, I'm still seeking it. And honesty/vulnerability, it's better that running around pretending that I am the master of all the things when really I'm just kinda a mess haha. 

Sunday, January 5, 2020

2020 Baby!

Guys! I can't freaking believe that we are 5 days into the new year, that I am back to riding bikes and this weather... it's CRAZY nice! (sorry everyone not in SoCal!)

This week has been awesome because even when little A is fussy from getting her second round of vaccinations every second with her is rad, but also because I FINALLY FEEL GOOD ON MY BIKE AGAIN! I mean riding felt ok for the last month, but in the last three days I've turned a corner and started to feel really really good. We still aren't talking fast, but my legs and lungs respond in a way I expect when I ask them to go hard. I'm still taking everything day by day, but I can't help getting excited for 2020 and the select races I've committed to so far.


AND that leads me to.... my 2020 race ambitions! For now I'm registered for BWR and Leadboat!!! That's it, two crazy ridic hard races haha.

Back in the fall before I was even riding again, think stitches in my nether regions, I promised myself that IF I did race, it would be more focused and selective this year than in the past. I want to thin out the goals and simplify the season to reduce the potential for burn out, mental fatigue and driving my main babysitter, Brendan, insane. And even now I'm not 100% sure what will ultimately happen because family comes first, and I'm still pretty anxious about the physical demand of training, working and breastfeeding, along with taking care of all the other needs of a tiny human. So that's it for now. As spring approaches I may throw in some fun local stuff like Strata Rosa (where Brendan will have to be on course for the midway feeding haha), Hardman, etc. I am 100% open to suggestions of races/rides that are within 3 hours of Orange County!
Wheelie Excited for 2020

That being said I admit that it will be a little hard, once again, to sit out on my favorite events, so here is a list of the races I think ya'll should do, you know, so I can live vicariously through you :)
The perfect season, if I was to create a race plan for a pro trying to win big or an amateur trying to have fun and see new places would be:

Rock Cobbler Gravel Grinder in Bakersfield, CA - just a super fun, goofy, silly ride with a fun little route and all the coolest socal people. It's 100% pure fun and games on bikes, and I love it.

True Grit 100k in St George Utah - Super fun course, beautiful, fun techy desert riding in early spring. The 100 mile is great, but its two laps of the same course, and it's pretty physically demanding techy riding so 1 lap is prob more enjoyable.

ALL the Epic rides mountain bike races - I love each and every course they put together. These races make such fun weekends in cool places you might not otherwise go on a riding vacation.

BWR (of course) - I mean who doesn't want to eat waffles BEFORE AND AFTER a ride. Plus this one is SO long and challenging that it just makes an epic day with all the coolest bike friends.

Tatanka 100 in Sturgis South Dakota- This race broke me down so badly that I stopped and cried 3 miles from the finish, BUT the trails are AWESOME, and it's in a corner of the country that was RAD to visit (I had never been to SD before) and there are so many trails and things to see/do that it's totally worth the trip! Think right next to Mt Rushmore.

Breck 100 - One of my favorite mountain towns with TONS of amazing trails and you do a lot of them in the race! The scenery is incredible too.

High Cascades 100 - I love mountain biking in Oregon!! Rad trails and people, and Bend is another fun town to visit for a race.

Pierre's Hole 60 - There is so much good riding out in WY!!! Plan to stay for a week to see and ride everything. I would recommend one of the shorter routes because the 100 mile race is 3 laps of the same trails and after 2 laps your wrists will be dying!

Leadville100 MTB Duh

Park City Point to Point! - Pretty much the most perfect day on bikes riding every trail in Park City. This race is how I wish I could spend every weekend!

If you want deets on stuff to do or trails to ride around these races I am MORE than happy to tell you all the deets, so hit me up either through insta messages, email (lmfitchett@gmail.com), or in the comments. And like I said, send me your ideas for races to pad this season a little :)


Sunday, December 29, 2019

Guys! I finished a "training block"!!!

Stoke is high as the scenery in Sonoma County is pretty!
My new mantra 'how does time keep going by so fast'.

I don't really know where to begin on this. I've intentionally kept quiet about my athletic goals for 2020 partly because I'm not even sure if this is all real yet, and partly because I don't know if I'm ready to share. But either way, yes, I started 'training' again, in quotes because it feels so insignificant compared to what training looked like pre-baby. Although I know the biggest problem I'm going to have should I stick this thing out is downplaying my efforts and wanting to be the same athlete I was immediately, which just isn't possible or healthy. 

Good company on one of my 'training camp' rides!
The past four weeks coach had me complete a series of efforts a few days each week with 2-3 hour endurance rides on the weekend and lots of core work. I'm calling it a training block because it was a block of specific intervals designed to produce a specific physiological result.  To complete these workouts I rode my bike to school 2-3 days per week for the first 3 weeks (also the first three weeks I was back at school) and knocked out the work on the ride home. This was followed by a short mini solo training camp up here in Sonoma County this week where I did a bunch of 3 hour rides (the longest I can be away from baby before she needs to eat).

Here are some thoughts on returning to work/training while breastfeeding and owning a baby:

1) Holy heck do I get tired by the end of the week! I'm pretty lucky to have a baby that only wakes up once per night at 4 months old, but the physical demands of working, breastfeeding and training zap ALL my energy. On Wednesday two weeks ago while riding home post workout I was convinced I was going to black out because I was so shot. I thought about calling Brendan to rescue me the whole way into the canyon as my vision blurred. The second week of intervals I had to tell coach I couldn't ride both weekend days because I was just so dang tired on Saturday's ride that I was counting down the minutes until I could be done. That doesn't seem like a great mindset, if I'm so tired that I can't wait for a MOUNTAIN BIKE ride to be over I shouldn't be out there, I should be resting. So I think the greatest lesson I'm learning (let's be honest, I will never be done learning this) is that I have a finite amount of energy and I need to respect that. The good news is that winter break has afforded me a little more sleep and I feel great doing 3 hour rides, feeding the baby and NOT working. Thank goodness for this 2 week break from the grind!
Most days I get home from work and this is the first thing I do. 
2) Everyone has been saying to me 'you'll be fast sooner than you know' or something like that. It used to annoy me because I felt like there was a lot of pressure, like people expected me to be fast again right away and my body didn't agree. BUT over the last month with consistent riding I am starting to feel more and more like myself WAY faster than I expected. I'm not FAST, but I feel good, and that's almost more important. Hopefully the speed will come, no need to rush that.

NorCal views make every ride the best.
3) The mental aspect of doing intervals is just as easy to loose as physical fitness. The first couple sets of efforts were HARD mentally. My mind wandered and when I pushed hard but didn't feel like I was going anywhere it was so tempting to give up, WAY more so than before when I was used to doing hard workouts. It took a lot of grit to complete the first few workouts, and then slowly the mental focus started to come back just like my legs slowly started to respond to the efforts.






And lastly but most importantly I have the world's best husband and family a girl could possibly ask for. On Christmas eve we were driving to Brendan's parents house and I told Brendan all I wanted from him for Christmas was for him to be honest with me if it was too much, me training again and needing him to babysit when I'm on the bike. His response was that my dream is his dream, and that he is happy to accommodate my training which basically made me cry. On top of that no one has told me I'm being selfish or crazy trying to train again, and although I'm constantly worrying about those things, it helps so much to have the support of my parents, in-laws and friends. I'm still taking this thing one day at a time, and trying to be realistic about what I want to achieve, but no matter where this journey takes us, it's exciting to think about the opportunities and possibilities.

We have tons of exciting news coming Jan 3, I can't wait to share a little more about our 2020 season!
Baby's growing as fast as I'm getting stronger... I hope I'm getting stronger that fast :)








Tuesday, December 3, 2019

On Being an Athlete with a New Baby

We are 3 months in and I am FINALLY starting to get back into the swing of working out/finding motivation and routine. Along the way there have been starts and stops, questions of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it, and LOTS of flexibility on my part while I figure out when and for how long I can and should work out. I would still say I have no idea what I'm doing, but I've gotten great advice from friends, and have learned a few things along the way, so here is a short blurb about that.

My new normal :)
1) Recovery, it looks much different with a baby. The biggest impact having a baby has on my riding (other than needing a babysitter) is that my post ride recovery looks WAY different. After pretty much every ride, run or swim I come home to a baby who needs to eat, and my boobs need to be drained, so the first 30 minutes after I walk in the door is prioritized for that. This means I found myself many times in the last 3 months in a sweaty kit, on the couch stuck for 5-15 minutes or more, unable to fix a recovery shake or snack, sometimes even without a water bottle. When you walk in the door and your voice/presence reminds the baby that 'Hey, I'm hungry!' and she starts screaming there isn't much you can do besides pull your sportsbra up and feed that baby! BUT a few times I have walked in the house right after Brendan started feeding the baby previously pumped breastmilk and those were the best because I could grab a snack and water, and then sit with them and pump. I think if/as the training ramps up this is more ideal because taking care of my body is still important. Bonus is that this way the baby isn't getting a sweaty boob or salty milk.

Mountain biking is still the best!
2) Every workout takes twice as long as before because I have to drain the boobs before and then again after if I want to be out for more than an hour. This means budgeting time, planning when I wake up if I need to be back by a certain time etc is all a little more difficult. It's been SO worth it though to sacrifice a little sleep to also get a 3 hour ride on a few occasions. We bedshare, which means I can just slip the baby a boob in the early morning and she generally will just take a meal before I sneak out the door. I have also pumped my boobs empty pre-workout as well, if she is sleeping soundly and I don't want to wake her.

3) The lungs were the thing that held me back the most in the beginning. I totally thought my legs would be weak, and the  extra weight would be what bothered me the most, but it was the burning in my lungs!

4) My motivation and drive are so so different and it took me a long time to accept that this is ok. There are days when I just want to lay in bed looking at her face and the bike ride just doesn't happen. I'm at peace now with the idea of missing workouts and not nailing the perfect training plan, it's ok to be loose and kinda free about the whole thing. As I ride more and more the motivation is returning though, so I guess just forcing myself to do core three times a week and to get out on the bike/for a run is the key to reigniting the motivation, it builds on itself.

5) NOTHING is as great as riding a gnarly trail on your mountain bike after 6 months of very limited riding. It's like I'm seeing in color again :)

First bike commute down! 
6) I'm so super grateful for all the years of ultra endurance racing and training. I think hard things are less scary when you are used to doing them, and kitting up to commute to work at 5:30am today was one of those 'hard things' that didn't seem so daunting. Thank you to all the ultra races I did in the past, for making everything else seem so do-able!

So yeah, I'm not an expert and there is a lot I need to learn still, but things are coming around. I'm enjoying every step of the process, and spending time with my baby is still #1 priority, so no crazy long hard riding yet, but it's nice to be back on the bike and having an identity outside of human cafeteria :)

Hit me up with tips and tricks for being a new mom and athlete if you have any!!