Sunday, October 30, 2011

Star Rock Cross ("Go, Lisa! Go, Lisa!")

photo courtesy of Pete Carr (via Lisa Staub on FB...thanks for the great shot!)

I accidentally wore one of his jerseys today  

I don't know Lisa, but seemingly every spectator at Star Rock Cross really wanted her to beat me.
What I heard for forty minutes (in between my own gasping and very attractive heaving breaths):
"Crush her, Lisa!"
"Come on, Lisa!"
"Get her, Lisa!!"
"Go, Lisa!"
"You're right there, Lisa!"
"Stay on her wheel, Lisa!"
I found myself shouting, "Come on, Kimmy!" at one point, which made yet another Lisa fan chuckle.
Lisa dropped me when I tangled with a wooden stake, but I caught her before the run-up (the "real" run-up, not the roughly 60 percent of the rest of the course which was a crawl claw walk stagger run-up.
Oh, Lisa...
We battled it out for nearly half of the second lap (oh, the first lap was the bell, seriously...we only did two laps).
Two laps.
Two brutally, ruthlessly muddy wet cold grassy snowy hilly windy laps.
Oh, Lisa...
On the finishing straight/mud pit, I hopped off and started pushing my bike up the final stretch, with Lisa breathing down my neck.
For a hasty, ill-advised second, I hopped back on my bike & tried like mad to ride to that finish...
"Kim, she's right there!!"
Kim?! Awww...somebody was cheering for me. (BP? Bill?)
With that, I dismounted & "ran" to the orange line.
It was the slowest, most churn-y "sprint" ever.
In fact, that was the hardest freaking finishing stretch EVER.
Upon crossing the line, I happily collapsed into the snow.
Exasperated & exhilarated.
"That was the most exciting race of the day!" I heard the official say.
Oh, Lisa...girl, you really pushed me way harder than I thought I could go today.

Thank you, Cycle Works, for the Little Cross Race that Could.
Up against one of the best MAC races & under pretty severe conditions (even by the most objective cross standards), you guys pulled off a supremely fun event.
I'm glad I decided at 4:58 yesterday afternoon, "Why not?"

Saturday, October 29, 2011


October snow day.
What in the frigging frig?
Sorry for ruining you so badly, planet Earth.
What we did today as inches and inches and inches of sleety raw snow fell from the gray sky:
  • watched "Teen Witch" (top that)
  • braved Target and lost the game I like to call "Make It Out of Target Alive Under a Hundred Bucks" 
  • wasted a lot of time contemplating which Halloween candy to purchase (skittles...taste the rainbow, twizzlers, blow pops, 3 of my faves, and of course the Fun Mix which includes those weird Tootsie Roll "midgies" what the??)
  • ate a fantastic creme-filled doughnut...I usually don't crave doughnuts, but today I needed one and it was amazing. 
I'm pretty excited about this day.
It's been such a sh*tty, strange week peppered with a few great rides, a fun Halloween parade, and plenty to laugh about...but...
But, I've been so down and sleep-deprived and out of sorts and moody.
Last night, it all came crashing down in an ugly-crier fury as I sat balled up against the vanity on the bathroom floor in the throes of a migraine.
Thank. God.
Thank god thank god thank god for that migraine because the past few days make perfect sense now.
Clearly, it had been building and I just didn't recognize it...phew.
So, when the sirens blared inside my head and my jaw started tingling and the nausea pulled at my stomach, I was relieved & thankful to simply lie in bed with my head under the pillow.

With the snow came newfound energy and a much better mood.
Still...what in the frigging frig??

Side note/interesting fact: Tootsie Roll Industries produce all their candy in a completely nut-free facility. That includes Charleston Chews, Dots, Junior Mints, Sugar Daddies, and Double Bubble to name a few...My kid has a fatal peanut allergy, so this is a big deal to me, especially this time of year. Tootsie Roll Industries, you rock.

Friday, October 28, 2011

smooth shorts

homemade costumes kick ass
I was the bad mom at the bus stop this morning.
Every kid was bundled up (did you happen to notice the SNOW in the forecast this morning?) except my son, shivering in "smooth shorts."
What are smooth shorts?
Smooth shorts are athletic-y shorts/gym shorts/basketball shorts...Max calls them "smooth shorts."
Today is the Halloween parade at son and I crafted a badass Day of the Dead skeleton costume. The kids were instructed to bring their costumes IN A BAG to school. Max doesn't want to strip down to his skivvies in front of his entire first grade class...can't blame him.
"Smooth shorts, mom...I'll wear smooth shorts to school and put my skeleton legs on over them. It'll be fine."
"It's really cold out, Max."
So, I got some dirty looks at the bus stop.

That costume is so badass.
Halloween is no joke around here.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

sunday monday tuesday

My son punched a girl in the gut the other day.
Hold on.
Max is hardly a bully. Or mean or rough for that matter.
All the neighborhood boys were out front, running wild playing tackle something. Probably tackle baseball or tackle soccer.
I don't know...they range in ages 6 to 10...there are tons of boys. Everything becomes a weapon and every game involves tackle "fight" wrestle tackle...
There is a little girl who is always holding her own, right there in the mix.
She is also six and she is a badass...she rides her bike faster than all the boys, she yells louder, and she bunny hops the manhole covers on her tiny purple two-wheeled Trek.
From the sidelines, I watched the mass of kids running and rolling in the grass, getting their fill of a beautiful short-sleeved late October dusk...
Then Max punched the girl in the gut and even though she "hit" him first and the punch merely looked like a reaction (like the time I instinctively SLAPPED my kid so hard on the ass when he bit me upon taking him out of the bathtub)...I was horrified to see my sweet little peacemaker punch a GIRL in the gut.
Immediately, she ran screaming to her mom and I summoned Max to go apologize, "With eye contact, sincerely, so she can hear you!"  
It was time to go inside for dinner and I said, "Tomorrow when you get off the bus, you are NOT to play outside with your friends. You will spend the afternoon in the house."
A fair punishment for a six year-old, right?
Mainly, I wanted my message to be something that doesn't involve fighting, NEVER hit a girl.
Of course the tears started flowing because of course he was mortified that he hurt his friend and of course I had to explain that I was disappointed with the behavior, but of course I love him and jesus christ let's eat our dinner and move on.

Needless to say, he got the message.
It's not often that I have to lay down the law or discipline my child...he really is that good.
I've been warned that I'll eat those words when the teenage years hit, but I'm not so sure.
I have a good feeling about this kid.

Our entire little family has been out of sorts all week...I don't know what it is.
Bill is sick.
I've been in a funk.
Max is clearly fighting something himself...he seems tired and bleary, too.

Yesterday the clouds parted.
Bill and I got out on the bikes together for a perfect fall evening ride.
We rode past the ruins, where we will be married, without stopping, without wasting daylight.
Back home, we enjoyed too much pasta and listened to Max tell us about music class and a math game and something funny that his friend did at lunch.
Max read "5 Little Pumpkins" to us from his black & white composition book.
He's reading.
And my friends sent me a pair of shiny red shoes.
shiny. red. shoes.

The rest of this week is going to be so much better.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

on repeat

I love October.
Because yesterday was awesome and worth repeating, this morning found me back at French Creek for Take Two.
My dad & I started from Hopewell Lake and strung together a perfect nearly two-hour loop.
It had been a while since I hit the trails with BP and I'm sure he was happy to ride without lap cards for a change, too.

Halloween is fast approaching.
My stockpile of candy is growing (when the 31st looms nearer, I'll start buying the candy I actually like).

Friday, October 21, 2011

once in a while...

No starting grid.
No last row call-ups.
No numbers to pin.
No nerves.

Just me in the woods on my Salsa.
(hardtail, little wheels)
Crunchy leaves.
Sunshine burning off the gray clouds.
Arm warmers.

Apparently, six days off the bike left my legs feeling pretty fresh.
In fact, I believe I was breaking those rocks apart and devouring the woods with my sheer singletrack prowess today.

Okay...that may be a slight exaggeration.
Sometimes even I have One of Those Rides.
Sometimes even I rule the trails.

Crankiness averted.

Thursday, October 20, 2011


It's been 5 days since I've been on my bike or done anything active.
It's getting cranky up in here.

Between wrestling the mountain of laundry, motoring through a very busy week at the office, nursing my sick kid back to health, and feeding my family a week's worth of awesome dinners, I admit I am kinda wiped out...

I need a massage and a really hoppy IPA and a long ride in the woods and a quiet hour to nap and maybe a cute pair of new shoes...
Not necessarily in that order.

Send reinforcements, please.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

hi there

Perusing blogs is one of my favorite ways to waste time unwind.
Some blogs inspire me.
Some blogs make me laugh.
Some blogs make me feel like I am not alone in trying to be a great mom and having a rough go at it sometimes.
Some are my old standbys...and the reason why I started my own blog in the first place.
Recently, I was lucky enough to share my Blind Date from Hell story with Elle as a guest poster on her rad blog, This Is Mommyhood.
Although Hardtales began as an outlet for race reports and my love of riding, it has evolved into a candid glimpse at my everyday...if you've been around for a while, you probably watched my marriage crumble & my world fall apart in many ways.
Maybe you stuck around long enough to see me pick up the pieces and move on.
You may have witnessed a breakthrough season or two on the bike, only to find me relegated right back to the back of the pack again.
You may have also seen my son morph from a wily toddler into a pretty fantastic First Grader (he's still okay with me sharing stories about him here...for now).
In any case, I appreciate all the insight/feedback/comments/encouragement along the way...sometimes being a blogger is a tricky thing, yet it always incites a bit of joy when a reader chimes in here or in real life.
Thanks for reading...

Monday, October 17, 2011

trash bag cloaks & stick wands (aka Magic)

Doesn't get much better than catching your kid in their element, just doing their thing...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Granogue Day One

"I'm going to pin my number and line up and see how the race goes. My headache is going to go away and I'm not going to be last. I'm going to get on my bike and go hard and have some fun out there."

post-Granogue pumpkins

Oh, the things we tell ourselves as we ready our minds and bodies for 40 minutes of suffering.

Start position: Last Row (thank you, random call-ups)
Position going onto the grass: Last place
Position at 1st turn: 3rd from last (woot...makin moves all over the place)
And that was pretty much the excitement of the day...passing two women (one of whom pitted and proceeded to catch and quickly drop me before we even reached the green house)

I was gaining on Christy (who I battled with at Charm City) and managed to squeak by her on the tower side as she tangled with the tape.
As I surged down and proceeded to wash out on the long, grassy descent, my body hit the ground, bounced and skidded to a halt...
Without hesitation, I jumped back on the bike, but Christy was gone. Grass was jammed into my left shifter and my entire body was groaning with discomfort. By the time I reached the barriers, I awkwardly dismounted and stumbled over them.
Over the barriers.
In the Elite race.
For two more laps, I  focused on staying ahead of BadKat, who was sporting the most intimidating yellow shoes I have ever seen.
Crossing the finish line (upon getting lapped by LVG), I realized I had chipped a molar when my face met the ground.
That's cross and that's my final MAC race this season.

here's the "Even though..." part:
Even though I gloriously wiped out in front of a rather large audience (including my fiance and future father-in-law), I'm proud of the fact that I jumped back in and finished.
2nd to last, nonetheless.

People got hurt badly at Granogue yesterday.
I am thinking of Trevor and his wife and daughter.
I can't imagine getting the phone call saying your husband was caught in a nasty pileup and had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital.
From what I've heard, both men are coherent and going to be okay.
My teammate, Cati, also ended her season with a painful knee injury (two minutes into her race)...
I know she'll recover and I know she'll be back for more cross.
We can't stay away...
That's cross.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

today we race/tonight we carve


blowing up the kitchen

I'm trying to conjure some enthusiasm for a muddy cross race today, trying to find my inner bad ass...
where is she??

I've woken up with a terrible headache and a blah attitude.
That simply just won't do.

Get. It. Together.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Elixir of Happiness

Best cocktail ever.
Spent a lovely morning with my mom doing the bride-to-be thing...
I tried on one dress and that was it.
It's mine, it's here, and it's perfect.

My bag is packed for Granogue.
My bag is bursting at the seams with all manner of gear for every possible condition and temperatures.
For muddy pre-rides and warm-ups and the race itself...
I'm ready and I'm excited.

Holy hail & black skies...that weather was ridiculous today!
If my front yard is any indication of what tomorrow will bring, I am soooo in for it.
Squashy marshy wet muddiness.
I'm hoping for anything but a last row start and my goal for the race is simple:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Morning

Getting ready for school, Max remarks, "Wow, mom, so much to be excited about!"
"Like what?"
"Like today I get to buy my snack and I have art class after school and I get to trade Pokemon cards on the bus and I had a waffle with VERMONT maple syrup on it aaaaaand..."
"You mean there's more?"
"Yeah. And tomorrow is Friday and that means I am a parent pick-up because I am going to the doctor and that probably means I get a shot and that means I get to go to Target. Riiiight?"
So much to be excited about, indeed.
We didn't even get to the part about the kid's race or carving pumpkins or Harry Potter Weekend in Chestnut Hill.
My head is spinning.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Granogue Weekend Must Be Approaching...

Because it's raining.
Guess what? They claim it's "America's Toughest Cross Race," and I tend to agree.
Yes, I have only been racing cross for a mere 4(? ) years and I have hardly raced every cross race in the country (although I am proud to say my cross pursuits have brought me to races up & down the East coast and as far afield as Kansas City and Oregon...not bad for a girl who's afraid to fly)...

Granogue is tough.
With the soaking rains beginning to fall, I imagine it will be tough and muddy.
What is Granogue without mud anyway?

Wedding dress shopping was a complete fail last week.
(Yes, we just went from muddy races to gowns...just skip this bridal nonsense if you wish)
I looked at every dress on display and grimaced /smirked/frowned/laughed at each and every one.
It's not like I have a vision of the perfect dress.
Quite the contrary.
I'm waiting for something to hit will.
We set a date, we found a place and I am so beside myself with excitement...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Townhall Cross (PA Series 2011)

Townhall Cross was my kind of course...
Grassy (green, green grass and plenty of it)
Elevation gain galore (hello there, St.Luke's "staircase")
Challenging turns (tight and tricky)
Great vibes
I like the PA series...

Yesterday, I actually raced.
I was likely last among any of the Cat 2 women, but I was 8th overall of the 22 women who started together.
Starting in the last row is getting kind of old, I'll admit.

4 races into my 2011 cross season and I have learned this:
I am a great bike handler with a huge love of the sport lacking power and Elite-level fitness right now.
I am so okay with this.
Racing among the 1/2/3/4 field (and being beat handily by a few B women) gave me a boost because once again I was racing and trading spots and making moves, rather than turning myself inside out to simply not get lapped or not be last.
I'm glad these smaller series exist to afford that kind of balance and keep it fun.
Because what's fun about cross is being in the thick of it...being in the mix and going all out.

I learned something else from Townhall Cross:
Being 36 means feeling completely sapped after racing for 45 minutes in the glorious sunshine.
After feasting on fantastic Indian food & a bottle of Saison du Pont, I barely made it to 9pm with eyes hardly open.
I have tan lines from a race in October and that is the best prize yet.

Friday, October 7, 2011

cross races & wedding gowns

Tomorrow I race...tomorrow I give it yet another Cat 2 go.
Townhall is a new venue to me.
I didn't pre-reg, I skipped cross practice this week in favor of a ride in the woods, and I did my "openers" this morning on my SS (again, in the woods).
Did I mention I'm meeting my mom and brother for lunch at some shady Chinese restaurant this afternoon?
I am switching up my pre-race routine.

After lunch, I'm going to look at wedding dresses.
holy sh*t.
We're getting married in six months...six months from today.
I'm going to look at dresses.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

kid stuff

"Max, why is your sweat shirt all bloody? Are you okay? Did you get hurt?"
"No. Danny had a bloody nose on the bus. I gave him my's okay, it doesn't zipper all the way anymore anyway."

First graders are so kind.

A pack of Kleenex will find its way into the front pouch of Max's backpack, though.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

too happy to go hard?

for Karen

F*ck yeah, BP!! 

too much cowbell
Hillbilly Hustle 2011...
After a great/strong/confident start, I went from front-ish of the pack to DFL by the third turn.
What. the. frig.
What happened?
I don't know. 
An injury I suffered earlier this week didn't faze fact, I felt absolutely great today.
I felt healthy and rested and strong and fit.
My bike was completely fine in spite of the grit and mud and slop.
What. the. frig.

How bad did I just want to throw in the towel and bail?
The only only only reason I stuck it out was for Max.
Max woke up in a super-cheerful mood (as always, bless his freaking heart) at 5:15 ON HIS OWN so he would have a few minutes to play with his Legos before our ass-crack-of-dawn departure for NJ.
"Pack a cowbell for me, mom. And snacks!"
So...there I was, determined at the very least to put on a good show for my very enthusiastic Number One Fan.
I think we called these "teachable moments" back when I was getting my Early Childhood Ed degree.
A teachable moment, indeed.
See? I'm dead last...I'm trying my best, even though it may not look that way, and I am covered in black mud and I am going to keep going til the end...

With that, I picked off one competitor in my field and was promptly lapped by the leader of the B race.
Aaaaah, cross...I'm so much better at you when my life is a mess.