Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hectic week

Date: Feb. 4
Mileage: 30.3
February mileage: 52.3
Temperature: 29

I didn't really need to train anymore in February, did I?

I hope not, because it doesn't look like I'm going to have time to do many of those frivolous things I normally do, you know, like attempting to get in shape just enough to actually survive these frivolous adventure races I keep signing up for.

I took a new job. It pays 50 percent more than I used to make. And I only have to do 50 percent more work. Peer pressure gets me every time. You never get something for nothing, unless you are the person employing me. Sometimes I'm an enigma to myself. I horde my time like it's gold and then turn around give it away like it's candy. I do the same thing with my money.

It's been a crazy first week. I was called into work this morning before I could get my planned bike ride in. I had to squeeze in the miles between my commute and my dinner break. I'm fearful that I'll be called in again this weekend, a really important weekend for me. It's my three-weeks-until-the-race mark. I need to put in two long days in a row before a fairly heavy training workweek if I am to feel at all good about myself once the taper starts. But I have to laugh at my situation because I have only myself to blame. I saw it all coming from a fair distance away. I know I'll figure out how to squeeze in the biking hours, I'm just going to miss my old quality of life - the eating and the sleeping, the occasional blogging. But it's actually been a little exciting - new intellectual fatigue to replace the physical exhaustion. If I can endure both this coming week without quitting everything and joining a New Age cult, I'll know that I'm as ready for the race as I was ever going to be.

27 comments:

  1. Congrats on the new gig? I love the line about your employer getting something for nothing (hope you don't mind if I use that). I finished your book by the way and really enjoyed it. I'm now set up to actively keep track of all the racers for the '09 race. Good luck in March!

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  2. Eileen6:04 AM

    you will balance it out and make it work! You've got this life thing figured out, Jill, whether you realize it or not :)

    Thanks for the inspiration!

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  3. Wait, if you're working a regular 40+ hour a week job like the rest of us, how am I supposed to live vicariously through you?

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  4. Anonymous7:17 AM

    The way I look at it unless you have a chance at winning the Iditarod race overall it really doesn't matter how well you do in the race, because you are just doing it for fun. If you missed out on winning some big prize money in the race by not being able to train hard enough it might matter. If you wind up placing 10th in the race instead of 6th you really didn't lose anything, except bragging rights, by having to work more and bike less. You're not a professional bike racer, so you don't have to meet anyone's expectations other than your own.

    One thing I've noticed about your blog is the high level of drama and histrionics in your writing. As a writer or artist I guess that helps, as making mountains out of molehills brings more attention to yourself, and helps keep your readers interested. Every bike ride is a big fight against time and the elements, and evey decision about life, bike riding, and work is a BIG decision. Eveything is blown out of proportion with how big of a deal it really is.

    I think writing, bike riding, and living in Alaska perfectly suit your personality because you can gain attention from all three. Alaska is the perfect backdrop for your life because it adds a level of drama and danger from battling the elements that you wouldn't get from living anywhere else. Your bike riding in Alaska gains you attention because you're constantly training and racing in harsh conditions that most people don't encounter. Your blog and your book gain you attention because you can write about all the difficulties about living in Alaska, riding and racing in difficult conditions, and all the daily dramas that happen with regards to life and work.

    You enjoy putting yourself in tough conditions, dangerous situations, and challenging races and traing conditions for the attention it brings you not only from your family, but from your readers too. We are providing the attention you seek by reading your blog and book, and we're providing the positive feedback you seek through your actions.

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  5. In your book you mention somewhere that it wasn't the training that you did that helped you when the chips were down, but the mental ability to keep going so since you are getting a mental workout, you should be fine?

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  6. "The way I look at it unless you have a chance at winning the Iditarod race overall it really doesn't matter how well you do in the race, because you are just doing it for fun." - Anonymous, 6:17 am

    Wow, you just don't get it. It is never "just for fun" for most racers. If it were just for fun, what would be the point of entering a race in the first place?

    Jill, good luck! It might take a couple months to really get back on track, but I think you can do it.

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  7. Anonymous' comment made me laugh. It'd be a pretty boring blog if every entry was about how fine your training is going and how balanced your life is. It's the struggles that make life interesting otherwise there'd be no interest in riding across a big chunk of frozen Alaska.

    I don't know about you Jill, but every time I actually line up to start a race, I put my right head on and the training I've done doesn't make that much difference. If it's too little, things start out depressing and painful. In the end though, it's a personal challenge until the end is in sight. Then I can worry about trying to get 10th place instead of 11th. But it's the memory of tough places you've been rather than the muscle that gets you to that point.

    At the very least, the simplicity of just riding for a few days might seem like a relief :)

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  8. Hey Jill,
    Wow some cool changes for you! Congrats!! I wanted to let you know a little while ago that I'd hope you could ride more in the lower 48...well now your coming down here and I'm excited to hear about new adventures! By the way do they have mountain lions in AK?
    kb peace out

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  9. Anon must be a real couch potato-obviously doesn't compete in anything. For 99% of folks, it's not about first place. You are your own competition. Therein lies the beauty of it.

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  10. i'll take your money

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  11. Anonymous9:08 AM

    I am cyclist who lives in Santa Cruz, CA and can totally understand the craziness of balancing work, training, racing, enjoying life...

    A book you might want to read is The Joy of Not Working (Ernie Zelinski). He has some great ideas of how to get it to all work. I took a 'bigger' job last year and had to give up some training time, but it was worth it. All along I set up the expectation that I'd like to reduce my work hours to move to 4 days/week (32) - and in the end it all worked out (got this from the book...like I said, lots of good ideas).

    Always fun to read about your adventures!

    Natasha/Santa Cruz, CA

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  12. You might have to face it and spin on a trainer. it is really good workout but hard to motivate for. i watch movies - only way to stay occupied.

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  13. hey anon - its the internet - if you don't like it then don't read it.
    boring blogs are a dime a dozen, start one yourself.

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  14. Anonymous9:26 AM

    I understand racing as a personal challenge to improve yourself through competition and testing your limits. When I said racing was for fun I meant not doing it professionally as a means to support yourself. If you're not racing professionally it doesn't matter if you only place 11th instead of 10th. It's not your career, your main sorce of income, you don't have to worry about keeping sponsors through results, and your future doesn't depend on how well you do in each race. Therefore, the stakes aren't as high for amateur racers, people who do it because they love the sport or the challenge, or people who occasionally do races for fun.

    Since Jill isn't racing professionally she doesn't have the outside pressures on her to worry about. She only has to please herself with her results, therefore if she places 10th or 11th doesn't really matter that much, except to herself. The bike racing isn't her main career, although it does provide subject material to write about which could be part of a writing career.

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  15. I keep trying to tell myself that this race is about personal accomplishment and challenge and yada yada yada. But the fact is it's just so amazingly long that I have to give it everything I've got whether I have it or not. If the physical fitness isn't there, I'm going to shut down, and I can tell you that it's not fun to be bonked and out of energy at 20 below when you are 10 hours of walking/riding/trudging from anywhere. No one is coming to save me. That's what I really like about this race. It is so remote. You don't even realize it until you're out there. And suddenly, quitting isn't even an option, any more than survival isn't an option. It's a great way to become more confident and self-sufficient, because your body can go so much farther than you think it can.

    And 6:17 Anon ... how long are you going to continue copying and pasting your sermon into my blog comments? I already know I'm an attention-grubbing crybaby. It's all good. I'm happy where I am, and write about my life for the same reason most people do. It's cathartic. If I really cared what other people said about me, I probably would have gone private with the blog a long time ago.

    Heading out for a long ride now. Luckily I don't yet own a cell phone. Yeah!

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  16. Caroline, Boston MA10:26 AM

    Woo-hoo! Nice response to Anon, Jill. I hope that's the last of him/her. I'm tired of reading those bitter and jealous-sounding comments....

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  17. actually i have to say that the struggle to work and stay - well not human, but how about a healthy animal - is pretty much all i think about.

    it makes me think of marxist alienation from our means of producing what we need to live, and as i see it, neurosis as described by freud is a result of this alienation.

    it is so frustrating because when we break clear we see that there is this better way of life, there is bliss, but how to sustain and live in it? there was no "golden age" when life was ideal, but i have to think that something like a personal-familial-social utopia exists and that i'll find it before i die.

    and then the other half is me trying to be Buddhist and remain calm in the face of all that seems to drag me away. yes much of the issue has to do with my mental ability to find a healthy perspective.

    i do think that man is the sick animal, and i think we are as a group stuck very far from our potential for beauty and bliss, and that maybe modern capitalism is not entirely to blame, but i never see beauty in commerce, and the mountains never disappoint.

    look at pictures of richard nixon and ho chi minh and decide who is the healthier animal.

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  18. Anonymous4:35 PM

    There was no golden age when life was ideal, but right now (current financial recession excluded)is about as close to it as we've come. People have the luxury of things like leisure time, health insurance, social security, unemployment benefits, food stamps, etc, etc, if things should go wrong. The standard of living we have now has only been around since post WW-II. Being poor in the USA now only means not being able to afford a brand new car, a big screen TV, and having to rent instead of owning a house.

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  19. Anonymous5:03 PM

    Jill said:

    "And 6:17 Anon ... how long are you going to continue copying and pasting your sermon into my blog comments? I already know I'm an attention-grubbing crybaby."

    But where would the arts, music, theater, and writing be without attention-grubbing crybabies ?. Without drama queens and attention whores in the arts things wouldn't be half as interesting as they are. At least you've chosen something that isn't self destructive, like becoming a drug addict like Amy Winehouse, to gain attention.

    Besides, everytime I say something that might be construed as negative you have several supporters come out of the woodwork to defend you, so in reality I'm actually doing you a favor. One way of looking at it is that I'm adding drama and conflict to your comments section, and consequently more people are reading and replying. Without the occasional negative comments here your comments section would be as saccharine as a Hallmark card, and your sychophants would form one big circle jerk.

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  20. "And 6:17 Anon ... how long are you going to continue copying and pasting your sermon into my blog comments? I already know I'm an attention-grubbing crybaby. It's all good. I'm happy where I am, and write about my life for the same reason most people do. It's cathartic. If I really cared what other people said about me, I probably would have gone private with the blog a long time ago."

    You go girl! I like reading about all your "drama". So keep it coming!

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  21. good luck with the balancing act...it's so hard but I have a good feeling you'll master it!

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  22. Anon 4:03, I quite agree. I enjoy your comments. They're often quite witty. The one you left after the time I posted on fatcyclist.com was a classic.

    I think part of the entertainment is trying to figure out why you keep coming pack. I pick up one or more of five main points from every single one of your comments:

    1. I'm not a top competitor, therefore my cycling doesn't matter.
    2. I'm not a top earner, therefore my job doesn't matter.
    3. My relationship doesn't fit your view of a good relationship, therefore it doesn't matter.
    4. My cycling, job and relationship don't matter, therefore my life doesn't matter.
    5. And yet, inexplicably, you read my blog what must be often and comment frequently, sometimes pulling up very old posts as reference, which means you retain at least a small amount of what I write.

    The big puzzle is, why?

    And my favorite misconception of yours is this outrageous notion that I have delusions of stardom. For the record, my blog is not that popular. I see, what, 10, maybe 20 comments a day? I could point you in the direction of 100,000 mommy blogs that receive at least as much feedback. The idea that I am spending 20 hours a week on a bike and sometimes knowingly entering extreme and scary situations, all solely for my blog and the attention of its readers, is laughable. To me, it's akin to "The world is flat" in its absurdity.

    If I was that desperate to be popular, I would put a sex video on YouTube. It would be much easier.

    Anyway, I just had a great 8.5-hour ride and am headed to dinner. Pretty sunset photos to come later.

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  23. anonymous, the logic that you seem to be implying that it should be just fine for jill to train half ass for the ITI because she's not riding it to win it might apply to a standard single day event in a "normal" climate, but couldn't be further from reality for the ITI. choosing to train casually for this race because you aren't planning on competing for the top spots would be like climbing without ropes because you're not trying to do a route quickly. in the same way that you don't "need" protection to climb a vertical rock wall, you also don't "need" to be in the best physical shape possible to attempt the ITI. But in both cases it only makes sense for the most skilled and most experienced to attempt to take part without the protection that the ropes and the physical training hopefully provide.

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  24. Jill, Geoff, Anon is the one here looking for the attention from all his posts. He must be a lonely sort, that needs conversation. Just ignore him. Probably the highlight of his day is when you respond to him.

    That said, congrats on the new job! You will find the time to train, just not at your most convenient times. I myself am planning on doing some riding in whatever miserable weather we are having, the same days you are riding the race, just to (as a previous poster said) imitate vicariously what you are doing. Probably ride to the nearest starbucks, maybe to the sub shop, maybe even to the grocery. That should give me 5-10 miles a day. (gawd I am a wimp)

    BTW, went to a benefit dinner for The Conservation Fund for Southwest Alaska tonight (for the 5th year or so) I gave the director your blog URL. He lives in Anchorage.

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  25. Anonymous7:04 AM

    "Jill wrote:

    1. I'm not a top competitor, therefore my cycling doesn't matter.
    2. I'm not a top earner, therefore my job doesn't matter.
    3. My relationship doesn't fit your view of a good relationship, therefore it doesn't matter.
    4. My cycling, job and relationship don't matter, therefore my life doesn't matter.
    5. And yet, inexplicably, you read my blog what must be often and comment frequently, sometimes pulling up very old posts as reference, which means you retain at least a small amount of what I write.

    The big puzzle is, why?"




    I'll answer them by number:

    1. It's not that your cycling doesn't matter, I'm sure it does to you, but it's not your main job, it's only your hobby. You aren't getting paid to ride, you don't have to worry about losing your job as a racer by not getting top results, and you don't have to worry about pleasing sponsors. If you place 10th in a race instead of first you might be personally disappointed, but you aren't going to get fired from your job because of it. You ride and race because you love doing it, I understand that part, but your life doesn't depend on how well you do in the races because you have a full time job as your main source of income.

    2. I never said your job doesn't matter because you're not a top earner, that's something you're reading into my posts that isn't there. Actually, I think your job matters more in the long run than your bike riding. From reading your blog though sometimes it seems like the only reason why you work is to support your cycling hobby, or that the cycling is more important than your career. I may be wrong, but that's how it reads, especially with recent posts about quitting your job just to go off on some summer adventure. If your non-paying hobby is more important to you in your life than your professional career I'd say you either need to get your priorities straightened out, or find a more personally satisfying job. You're actually pretty lucky with the people you work for now that will put up with cycling sometimes being more important to you than work. Most places would have been looking for a replacement for you a long time ago, and the stack of resumes your boss has shows that there's no shortage of people out there who are willing to take their careers more seriously than you do. Maybe you SHOULD quit your job and give one of those people who actually WANT to work there the chance to.


    3. I get the feeling that you think I care that you and Geoff aren't married, I don't, you can do whatever you want to. You both have alot of similar personality quirks that I find interesting. You both sometimes seem to put more emphasis on your racing and training than you do on work, especially in Geoff's case. You both don't like to be tied down too much as far as jobs or places to live goes. You both seem sometimes to be actively trying to avoid any type of stability or commitment in your lives, outside of racing. Money seems less important to both of you than your jobs, and you both could chuck everthing at any given moment just for the sake of some adventure, Geoff moreso than you.

    The way I look at it is this, you have your act together slightly better than Geoff. You have a career, and he has a job. He's has gotten older and he's at the tail end of any possible running career or success. He has a few more years maybe to do the running thing and still be able to win races, and once that's over he might have a few trophys to brag about, and maybe a little bit of money if race wins pay anything. Once the running hobby is over it's back to dead-end jobs for him, unless he were to take work as seriously as he takes racing. His 15 minutes of fame will be over shortly, if he'd gotten more serious about running earlier in life it could have lead to something bigger, but he waited too long to get serious about it.

    From reading your blog here's my take on Geoff. He wants to be free to do his own thing and not be tied down. His racing is more important to him than money or a career, and maybe even a relationship. I think last year when he went off to do the GDR race was his little way of asserting his independence by taking off and maybe never coming back. What might have happened is he found out during his time away last summer that racing, hanging out with the guys, and being alone isn't all that he thought it was gonna be. Especially when he went from a top contender in running races, to getting his ass kicked by an English woman who was sick during the race. You can't live the racing loner life forever because at some point your body can't compete at the top levels anymore, and once it's over a few trophys is all that you'll have to show for it. Maybe he started realising there's more to life than constantly running ?. The Eagles tune "Desparado", or Jackson Browne's "Running On Empty" would be appropriate as background music here, especially as Running On Empty was used in Forrest Gump as he was running across country. In a way he's Forrest running away from everything, and you're Jenny. I think his coming back to Alaska "for a few weeks" was his way of trying to reconnect after finally realising what he'd be leaving behind.


    I'll answer #4, #5, and "why ?" later on....I've got stuff to do....

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  26. Anonymous7:11 AM

    This is for Geoff ;)........


    from Desperado:

    "Desperado, oh, you ain't gettin' no youger.
    Your pain and your hunger, they're drivin you home.
    And freedom, oh freedom well, thats just some people talkin'.
    Your prison is walking through this world all alone.

    Dont your feet get cold in the winter time ?.
    The sky won't snow and the sun won't shine.
    Its hard to tell the night time from the day.
    Youre loosin' all your highs and lows.
    Ain't it funny how the feeling goes away ?.

    Desperado, why dont you come to your senses ?.
    Come down from your fences, open the gate.
    It may be rainin', but there's a rainbow above you.
    You better let somebody love you, before its too late."



    from Running On Empty:


    "Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
    Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
    In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
    I dont know where Im running now, Im just running on

    Running on - running on empty
    Running on - running blind
    Running on - running into the sun
    But Im running behind

    Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
    Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
    In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
    I dont know when that road turned onto the road Im on

    Running on - running on empty
    Running on - running blind
    Running on - running into the sun
    But Im running behind

    Everyone I know, everywhere I go
    People need some reason to believe
    I dont know about anyone but me
    If it takes all night, thatll be all right
    If I can get you to smile before I leave

    Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
    I dont know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
    I look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
    Looking into their eyes I see them running too

    Running on - running on empty
    Running on - running blind
    Running on - running into the sun
    But Im running behind

    Honey you really tempt me
    You know the way you look so kind
    Id love to stick around but Im running behind
    You know I dont even know what Im hoping to find
    Running into the sun but Im running behind"

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  27. Julie in Alaska2:39 PM

    Thing is, Anon, most of us who comment here just appreciate what Jill is doing. We know she's living her own life just fine. And she goes through all kinds of stuff just like we do, about what to do next with the gifts we are given. For some reason, you've taken on the role of someone's judgemental old aunt. Well- reasoned, logical, insightful at times. But not your business really. Facing the Iditarod Trail in an Alaskan winter (or any season, for that matter) is a HUGE test of SURVIVAL. I can't believe she is doing it again...but then again, I'd be surprised if she wouldn't want to relish the experience one more time. I'll be there cheering you on at the start, Jill!

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