Le Poudre

Yesterday was one of the best all around days I’ve had in a long time. PIC Michelle and I went on a riding adventure. We headed out with Troy and Annie for SAG support and aimed for the Poudre River. It was so neat to go from point to point on a 4 hour ride. It was hot and we were overdressed so Annie was super busy handing out new bottles. The final 20 miles of our ride were downright nasty with multiple 12% grade climbs. We were in the middle of nowhere, it was super rad.

Annie trying to tell PIC where to go, and about to miss a bottle toss

It’s a great time to be in Colorado, warm temps this week in the 80s and yet the leaves are changing on the trees. I’m always amazed at all the great roads we have to ride around here and Buckhorn Canyon did not disappoint!

When PIC and I made it to the Poudre River we were pretty jazzed. We did our run off the bike down the canyon with the wide green/blue river rumbling over the rocks to our left. We even had to skirt through a tunnel dug out of the rock. It was an adventure.

The best thing about riding to a river is the post race ice bath. Never have I had an ice bath is such a serene, calm, blissful location. After the initial shock (and it was shocking) my legs numbed up and we just sat in the river…happy…contented.

It’s not the first time I’ve dragged Michelle into freezing cold water all in the name of icing our legs. I secretly have an obsession with really cold water. I love it!

At the end of this ride, I looked at Michelle and I said “We’re ready.” I think we are. As long as we continue to do the right things these next two weeks I think Chuckie has really guided us to putting the right work in. There is still the whole matter of execution, and it matters, a lot. However, I think I will have that pretty ironed out by the time race day rolls around.

After grub and dropping off Annie at grandparents house, and dropping PIC off at here car, I had a great surprise planned for Troy.

I had purchased (on the sly) tickets to TEDxBoulder. Sadly I can’t actually remember the last time Troy and I had a date night, but I knew he would love this since he watches TED videos all the time. Do you know abut TED?? If not, you have to watch some. After intermission he leaned over and whispered in my ear “this is the best gift I’ve ever been given” and my heart melted just a little bit.

I walked out of Mackey Auditorium 4 hours later inspired, uplifted, challenged, and excited. The speakers were amazing, stunning, and thought provoking. It was awesome, and we will go every year, hands down. It was great to see a spark in Troys blue eyes, to see a genuine smile on his face. Such a great night!

Now, go watch some TED and tell me what you think!

Push Your Boundaries, Win Some Chocolate

You like chocolate, don’t you?

Ahh, but for me, not all chocolates are created equal. When Ritter Sport emailed to ask if I wanted to review some chocolate for free, I said, heck yea, send some over. But, what Ritter Sport didn’t know…I don’t really like chocolate. I like hot chocolate, I like brownies, but normal old chocolate, I can do without.

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Unfortunately after testing (and oh I was diligent) 30 different chocolate bars, I now know that not only do I really like chocolate, it’s just that I only like really good, really high end german Ritter Sport chocolate. The taste is not overly sweet, but it’s clearly chocolaty. The chocolate taste stands out above a sugary taste. It also goes down very smooth.

Ritter Sport is square, as in the package is square and the little chunks are square. I thought that was cool and it’s very easy to break off just one or two chunks, rather than devouring the entire thing (i tried both ways). Ritter Sport was founded in 1912 in Germany by Alfred and Clara Ritter, and the company is currently run by Alfred’s grandson.

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In 1996 Ritter Sport became the first company in the confectionary industry to organize environmental protection systems at the company level. They promote sustainable cacao agroforestry through their “Commitment Nicaragua” project, they have their own heating and power station, and the packaging is totally recyclable.

Lastly, my favorite thing about Ritter Sport, other than the fact that it turned a chocolate abstainer into a chocolate lover, is the way you open the package. You sort of snap off the outer squares and the packaging pops open. It’s handy, and smart.

My favorite flavors thus far (and I have gobbled up 11 of the 19 flavors) are:
– Cornflakes (the bright yellow one)
– White Whole Hazelnuts (the off white one)
– Whole Almonds (the green one)
– Yogurt (the bold white)

I thought that Ritter Sport would be like $7 chocolate, but I just grabbed three packages (for teachers gifts) at Walmart and they were under $2 (another fact I should probably forget).

I put Ritter Sport through some pretty evil testing. It went along with team “Bunnies for Boobies” for 44,000 vertical feet this weekend. We had chocolate in between most of our ski runs, and none of us bonked. The nuts in the almond chocolate we were eating kept us groovin’ down the slopes. With the nifty packaging it was easy to stick an open package in our pocket. You could eat it with gloves on.

Over the last several weeks I have been taking a minibar (4 little cute squares per package) for after swim practice. I find that a little treat helps me recover from an especially grueling workout before I can get home and eat my next meal.

You all want some don’t you? Ritter Sport has been kind enough to let me give away a box of mini chocolate to 4 of my blog readers. This is what a box of minis looks like (there is 84 in one box…I know this because they sent me one, and I ate them all…okay, not all, but I’m working on it).

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How do you enter?

Since my theme this year is to inspire others to do a little more than they thought possible, to enter to win a box of 84 mini Ritter Sport chocolates, leave a comment on my blog giving me an example on something you plan to do this year to push your own personal boundaries. That’s the rules.

Wanna be entered to win some chocolate? Commit to something that challenges you.

Want a second entry? Mention this contest on your own blog, then comment with the link, and I’ll enter you twice (as long as you commit to something that pushes your boundaries as well).

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On December 22 after AM swimming I will assign everyone a number and then will use Random to pull 4 random numbers and those will be the winners.

Excited to win some chocolate??

Ready…Go!!!

FTC Disclaimer: Ritter Sport provided me with oodles of free chocolate. If you have been to my house lately, you know this because I have made you eat some. Ritter Sport is also providing free chocolate to the contest winners.

2010 Epic Fun

What epic things am I going to endeavor in during the year 2010?

2010 is a big year. Ten years in the 2000’s. What better than to make it extra special by running, biking and swimming all over the place.

My 2010 schedule is set, and I’m sure that you want in on some of the action. The year will be divided between epic adventures, and kick butt racing.

EPIC ADVENTURES:

~ Moab 100 miler, 3/27 – 3/28 (running)

~ Double Crossing of the Grand Canyon, Monday 4/19

~ Ride Across Colorado in 3 days, 470 miles, 7/16-7/18, taking the north route through Poudre Canyon/Steamboat.

~ Double Summit of Mt. Evans, bike up then run up, late August

~ Something in the summer in the Tahoe region. Not quite sure yet, but the Tahoe Rim Trail will be incorporated. Still scheming.

KICK BUTT RACING (the big races)

~ Rev3 Knoxville, 5/8, Olympic distance

~ Rev3 Middlebury CT, 6/5, 1/2 Iron distance

~ IM Coeur d’Alene, 6/27

~ A second Iron Distance Race, either the big island one, or this one.

~ USAT Age Group Nationals, 9/25

~ IM Arizona, 11/21

So, who’s in for some fun? Did my Grand Canyon video last year make you want to join me? My goal this year is to inspire others to do a little more than they thought was possible. To that aim, all my adventures will be well supported, well schwaged, and well planned. If you want to come along, contact me, ask questions, leave a comment, hunt me down…

Last Minute Beg

This is a last minute plea.

Tomorrow is the “Pink Chase Fundraiser” at Keystone resort. Amy, Michelle and I will be going for the grand prize which is a combination of costumes, vertical skied, and FUNDRAISING. Our team is currently sitting in 7th place for fundraising, but is only a few hundred dollars from 4th place.

If you were thinking about donating, today is the day! Please-O-Please.

You can click on the box on the right of my blog, or you can go here to our team fundraising page.

MANY THANKS!!

Death by Treadmill and Chocolate

PIC (who has a new blog with the best url evah, check it out) and I wanted to do a little track workout today. I’ve been running with PIC as she trains for the Arizona Rock and Roll Marathon, and in the spirit of getting her quick we did a little speed work. The problem? It looks like this outside. Seriously?

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So, we hit up the matching treadmills at my apartment complex gym. It was awesome, we brought some tunes, cranked up the music, and off we went. I found out for the first time that my treadmill maxed out at 10mph. I ran 3 of the 4 0.5 mile efforts that we did with the treadmill maxed at 10. I think it’s easier to run this fast on the treadmill, you just spend a little more air-time and let the treadmill go zooming under you. PIC rocked it as well, she was uber close to maxing out, but the girls’ gotta save something for another day.

When we got back to my apartment there was a package waiting on the door step. Humm? What could it be. I opened it up and it’s CHOCOLATE. Lots and lots of CHOCOLATE! Oh my! PIC and I immediately start digging in. Ritter Sport emailed me a few days ago to ask if I would review their chocolate. Humm, I thought long and hard, I had a family meeting with Troy, and after much deliberation, we finally decided that we could accept some chocolate into the house. NOT!!! I was responding to the Ritter Sport email within pico-seconds. SEND ME CHOCOLATE!!!

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The thing is, I’m an endurance athlete, so I’m gonna put the Ritter Sport chocolate through the ringer. This weekend, the Ritter Sport will experience extreme skiing as I compete in the Pink Chase at Keystone. We’ll see if it can handle it.

Ritter Sport also offered some chocolate for my blog readers. I’m a sharer! So, there will be a massive chocolate giveaway at some point soon. Only the best for my bloggy peeps!

A Little Help From Your Friends

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I have been racing for the past few weeks for my friend Amy who is currently battling breast cancer. Since day one Amy has made it known that she wanted to have a head shaving party. I told her, “Allright I’m in”. Then I got home and thought, “Really, I’m gonna shave my head”. I started thinking about the concept and several things came to me.

One…Amy doesn’t have a choice. It’s a part of this horrible disease for her, her hair is going to leave her whether she likes it or not.

Two, it’s hair, come one people, it’s hair. Hats are quite prevalent in these parts. Please, it’s hair.

Three, the biggest one, if shaving my head can give Amy a giggle, or a laugh, something to make this process just a little bit easier, I’m in. She is my friend and has been there for me through some of my dark times.

So, with those thoughts in mind, last night I attended Amys head shaving party, and I lined up with 12 other people to have my hair buzzed. Amy’s husband Brian went first, he was the “warm up”. Then Amy, then Hillary, and then me. I must say, us three ladies were clearly the “Main Event” of the night. Then 9 other men jumped in the seat one after another and buzzed it all off. We were lucky to have one of Amys friends from high school who is a hairdresser do all the shaving, she was very gracious to donate her time and clippers to our crazy antics.

I have said all along that I shaved my head for Amy not because it’s this huge monumental thing, but to remind her that “It’s just hair”. People say that to cancer patients a lot, and I say “If it’s just hair, then shave yours off too”. The rest of this post will be photos of the experience. At the end is a video of me getting shaved.

We are all racing the Race for a Cure tomorrow on a team called Amy’s Chemo Sabes. We have 84 people racing the 1 mile walk tomorrow as part of Amy’s Chemo Sabes. We are just a little short of our fundraising goal. If you would like to help, you can donate here.

The Before Picture
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Hil getting her hair put in ponytails so that all the hair gets properly donated to Locks of Love, or Children with Hair loss.
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Brian (Amy’s hubby) cutting her ponytails
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And the shaving begins for Amy
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Almost all gone
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Amy rockin the bald look!
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Hil in the shaving chair
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Amy enjoying cutting Hils hair off a little too much!
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Hil enjoying having her hair cut off WAY too much!
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She’s bald
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Big hugs for Hil from Amy
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Hil and Amy cutting off Sonja’s ponytails
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Celebration, down with the hair!
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Amy with her butchered ponytails
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Here goes Sonjas hair
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Amy watching with glee!
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And it’s off
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The three ladies AFTER, hair GONE.
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Hil and I
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Amy and her hubby Brian
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Amy and I, my fav pic of the night
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The carnage!
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Enjoyed it? How about a little donation here?

Video of my hair chop chop. You gotta watch the end, it makes me a little teary. I find it slightly frightening that it has 350 views before I have even posted the link here.

What an amazing way to spend an evening. I walked out of their house that evening feeling so hyped up about life. Amy has so many amazing friends that have helped in so many ways, I applaud all of them. Amy is going to beat this cancer, she’s going to live a long and blissful life with her two beautiful children and her loving husband. She knows that one day one of us will call her and say “I have Breast Cancer”, but she hopes that this disease can be cured.

To donate to Amy’s Chemo Sabes…again, the link.

A Little Help From Your Friends

A few months ago when I found out that I made it into Worlds I asked/begged for a little help from my friends. I needed a few fundraising events and boy did my friends follow through. It has reminded me how much I love teaching as well.

Laura asked for my help and organized a fundraising track workout with her play-group ladies. This was a real hoot. We met at a local track, all the moms had their kids in tow and I coached a track session. Coaching a track workout is pretty crazy when you have 8 or so kiddos, all younger than Annie running loose while their moms run circles. The women did so great with what I gave them. They did a warm up, some strides, and then got down to business. The first interval when the moms took off all the kids took off too, which left me retrieving crying kids when they ran out of steam. After that first interval the kids got a clue and figured out that playing together was much more fun. Abi the mirador was the only one I had to keep an especially close eye on.

The ladies donated enough for me to pay for half of my Team USA uniform, what a help they were, but even crazier…I had such a blast coaching them.

Here are the ladies running.
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Here are a few of the kiddos lounging in the grass together.
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Then a couple nights ago, another good friend Laurie organized a Flat Tire Party. Check out her post on the fun we had at http://mamameltdown.blogspot.com/. We had 7 kiddos playing on the backyard play-set while I taught everyone in a HANDS ON, DO IT YOURSELF way, how to change a flat tire on their bike. Hearing the ladies talk just reminded me how much we women need to get together to do things like this. Men tinker with things, women are usually afraid to touch, we are worried about breaking things. They learned, and practiced what to do when their chain falls off, and how to take off and put on the rear tire. They practiced using their individual CO2 cartridges to fill their tire, and they are all extremely proficient at changing their tires now (if I don’t say so myself). Again, the real blast here was the teaching aspect. I really got a kick out of helping these ladies learn new things and become confident.

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A huge thanks to them as well as I now have a beer cup that says “Sonja Donations to Rock Worlds” full of cash…which I promise to not spend on beer!!

Lastly I want to recognize my friend Susan. She has taken this little “begging for help” that I have asked for and turned it into “Help me help you”. I had a session with Susan where we covered run form and where we got on our bikes and rode around the parking lot 500 times learning how to shift, break and go around turns. I can’t wait to meet with her again. She is such a comedian and I love that she is letting me become involved with her progress. Thanks Susan!

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So, ladies, I really love you guys. Letting me teach you is such a gift. I have really enjoyed my time with all of you and I hope to spend more time spreading my knowledge! Is knowledge even worth having if you can’t spread it? Thank you for all your donations to my cause. I wish I could tack every one of your names onto my uniform at worlds!

100 Thing Challenge…errr 500??

Have you heard of the 100 Thing Challenge? I was reading around on one of my new favorite blogs: ZenHabits, and was clicking on tons of different posts and somewhere in there I clicked over to a different blog called guynameddave and the 100 thing Challenge.

The general concept…can you limit your personal items to 100 things? The blog post author came up with his own set of rules…he’s married and so certain things he designated as community items. I read several of the posts out loud to Troy and he was ready to go. I barely finished reading and he was in his closet tossing out all sorts of things. He’s minimalist at heart.

I LOVE the idea, and then I got into my closet and the idea got a lot harder. Spring is here and it’s time for spring cleaning, and also time to reassess all the stuff I have accumulated in the last year. But…..I just procurred two new bikes.

So, here I am throwing things outside of the closet and all along I’m asking Troy “Can I count 2 bikes, helmet, bike shoes, bike tools, aerobars, bike pumps, CO2 cartridges, and spare tubs ALL as one thing?” He just laughed.

I have so many hobbies. I do triathlon, which is like 6 hobbies all in one: running, swimming, biking, ultra running, winter running, weight lifting. Then there is the skiing, the camping, the hiking, the rock climbing. I have a set of AT ski gear, two pairs of mountaineering boots, 3 pairs of gaiters, and 4 ice tools (ice ax for climbers). “TROY, can all these count as one item?”

Don’t forget the crafts…I sew, I crochet, I knit, I’ve dabbled in needlepoint and hemstitcing. From that comes copious amounts of yarn, fabric, batting, stuffing, thread, notions, and patterns. “Ahh, Troy, we have a problem”.

Books? Ekk. DVDs, and CDs, rah-roh.

BUT, thank goodness we are a low tech family. We don’t even have a TV. HAH!! I have not one, but TWO iPods, THREE if you count the iPhone. I’ve got 2 digital cameras, a broken GPS, and a SPOT transmitter, and an iMac, complete with a printer and all that comes with that. Oh yea, and Troy and I both have Nintendo Gameboys. Ooh, and don’t forget the portable DVD player. Yea, we are soooo low tech.

Man, I really want to do this 100 Thing Challenge. I just need to come up with the right rules so that I can keep all the stuff I want to keep. Well, I figured I had to start and maybe it would all just come together.

So, I started spewing stuff out of my closet. 4 hours later…

Our spare room is FULL of stuff that I am done with!

Suddenly, our house looks VERY clean (minus the spare room). My closet? Immaculate!

Did I get down to 100 things? Um no, did I get down to 500 things? Maybe. 1000? Definitely. I still have to do my final itemized list.

However, if you are looking for clothes, or craft supplies, or some electronics, It’s time to come over for tea. You can visit the spare room and go yard sale-ing…for free. In fact, need something? There is so much stuff I wanted to get rid of, but would rather give it to a good home, rather than just Goodwill it. So, if you’re in need, let me know!

Did Troy hit 100 things? With a few rules (clothes counts as 1, books count as 1, and collections count as 1), he hit it easy. Stinker.

Does this sound crazy to you? Could you do it? Would it make you feel relieved? Sad? Broke? Rich?

Feedback Food Redistribution

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Feedback Food Redistribution is the charity that my $510 will go to in exchange for an entry into the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. Here is a little bit about Feedback:

Initiated in 2000 as a result of one women’s efforts to redistribute excess food from Cape Town’s film industry to those in need; Feedback has grown from delivering food which could provide approximately 200 meals, to an organisation which in the last year (F2007)has provided enough food for well over 14 million meals to 215 beneficiary organisations in the Western Cape, Gauteng and Kwa Zulu Natal.

Feedback meets beneficiaries’ urgent food needs while encouraging them to become self-suffient in food provision. This is done through a process which includes workshops and the introduction of independent food sources such as vegetable gardens.

Last year they did amazing things:

14,531,984 meals (based on an average meal of 300g per meal) provided in the last financial year (FY 2007).

4,359,595 kgs of excess food was redistributed in the last financial year – FY2007. (Kilograms estimated at the point of collection).

Alan (posted the slot on Ebay) works with Feedback and is currently in Cape Town. In our last coorespondence he had the following to say:

Again, good luck with the race. I’m sure you’ll really enjoy it (and if you find yourself struggling through cold waves etc and start to wonder why you’re doing it, remind yourself that a side effect was that you fed about 7,500 people!)

Warm greetings from windy Cape Town – time to head to the airport!

7,500 people! I can’t even envision feeding 7,500 people. Feedback is doing some awesome work. I am so blessed to be able to support them. I’m learning that we can all do a little more for others than we think we can. And, I’ve got to tell you, I’m hooked. I can’t wait to help in more ways.

If you want to join with me and come to Escape to Alcatraz as well, bid on the last charity slot. You can find it here. Bidding ends at 1am on Thursday morning (Denver time).