Digging Deep

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My son was born a cyclist. He was born the year Texan Lance Armstrong started winning overall accolades at the Tour de France. He was born the year this generation of America realized cycling existed. Morgan is 17 years old, now. He’s a senior in high school. He has only been interested in reading cycling books, and since there are very few cycling books, he re-reads those that exist over and over and over… He has only been interested in endurance sports for the sake of improving his cycling. And, when it’s his turn to pick on Family Movie Nights, it will inevitably be a cycling documentary or movie.

Even with all of this passion and focus, even with the combination of determination and pretty gifted athleticism, this past weekend Morgan gained his first official podium spot! Silver medalist and so happy!

He has won medals and trophies before–mostly in cross country and other distance running races–but he always saw that as cross training for cycling. Watching him take his 2nd place podium spot this weekend, was different. It was the culmination of 12 years of training. Bicycles and broken bones. Trying to find cycling jerseys to fit his little kiddo frame back before there were little kiddos obsessed with cycling and looking official every time he jumped on his bike. Trying to find some obscure cycling-based book or movie for holidays because there aren’t that many to choose from. Trying to afford gas and lodging and food and time for rides and races that are virtually never close to home.

I would love to know how many hours Morgan has racked up on the bike so far in his lifetime. Lots of kids ride their bike, my son does it differently. He doesn’t ride his bike as a means to a destination–he’s not getting on it to ride over to Ben’s house to play football or soccer. He’s on the bike because that’s exactly where he wants to be, for hours most days. I would love to know how many hours Morgan has racked up studying and planning and strategizing.

All this being said, as his #1 passion for his entire life, just now achieving that 2nd place finish may not sound all that impressive. You may be reading and wondering why he didn’t focus all of that energy on running, since he has had much success in running. You may be reading and wondering how he can compete in race after race, year after year, and never give up. The reason is simple: each race was a step in the journey, not the destination. Morgan analyzes his performance and bases his wins and losses on his own history and expectations. For this reason, I’ve seen him as happy with a fifth place finish at the end of a multi-day stage race (where there are multiple races of different kinds over the course of multiple days), as he is when he gets a flat tire at the critical end of a fast race where he’s dominated but ends up not even finishing the race.

Staying solely focused on one thing takes a certain kind of mindset. It takes an ability to see past surface victories and ripples on the water. It takes the determination to dig deep and take everything into account. When you see your life goals as a puzzle, each training ride, each book or clinic, each recovery practice, each meal choice, each purchase, each race is a piece of this puzzle. Every piece has a part to play, each piece is important.

Next year, Morgan goes off to college. One of his puzzle pieces is to gain a place on a university cycling team, and every school he’s interested in has one. As his mother, of course I wish that for him, as well, and think any team would be smart to welcome this kid with such heart, such determination, and such depth to their team. But…I’m his mom. Realistically, I don’t know if his track record is strong enough. However, I’m not worried. College team or no college team, I know Morgan’s cycling dreams won’t be deterred. He’ll continue to race, and he will continue to earn his stripes and move through the cycling point system ranks. He will continue to study cycling from all sides, and he will study it even more in-depth as his goals are to study the body and it’s performance through his university years, from a medically-based standpoint.

Everything is a part of this great puzzle, and to accomplish the goals we set for ourselves requires some depth. Goals are just pipe dreams if we’re not willing to do the work.

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

What I Want to be When I Grow Up

Sure, I’m 38 years old, but it’s never too late to think about the future.

When I grow up, I want to encourage people everywhere I go, every person I meet. I want to bring smiles to faces and pep to their steps. I want to live my entire life being everyone’s Head Cheerleader!

When I grow up, I want to dig into each one of the 50 states. I’ve lived in a hefty handful of states, already, and I’ve traveled to and through many more, but I’d like to live a life that allows me to spend real time in each state, getting to know the state, the people, and sharing joy as I go.

When I grow up, I want to read more than I watch. I want to feed my mind with positive messages and dig into learning opportunities though classic, tried-and-true philosophies and techniques. I want to remain a bit old-school.

When I grow up, I want to attend seminars! I want to travel to exotic places to sit for 12 hours a day while learning and growing and honing my natural skills with some expert in the field (think Tony Robbins, or the late Zig Ziglar and Dr. Wayne Dyer). I want to spend the big money these sorts of seminars cost and soak in all the knowledge I can!

When I grow up, I want to be outdoors more than I’m indoors. I want to be out exploring, camping, enjoying campfires, watching clouds and sunsets, running, cycling, and playing!

When I grow up, I want to live in a community where everyone is within walking distance, where I know everyone, and enjoy going and doing with the people I live life with everyday. I want to live in a community that enjoys the outdoors and maximizes life experiences.

When I grow up, I want to never stop looking forward to tomorrow. I want to never regret yesterday. And, I want to always treasure today’s lessons.

When I grow up, I want to have a space in which all are welcome and comfortable. Where people from all walks of life can come in, sit, visit, share, and be encouraged. Where we can enjoy hot tea, hot coffee, fresh pressed juices, and maybe a baked good or two. A place where people gather and become friends.

When I grow up, I want to continually look at my life and know that I am doing the most of what I can with the toolkit I was given. I want to maximize and enjoy life to the fullest, while also being productive, encouraging, and serving others.

There’s Just Something About That First-Born

Yesterday, my youngest decided to sign up for her first triathlon. She’s 9 and feelin’ sporty! Her big brother and sister did tris for years around this same age, so she’s ready to have her go at it. And, she figures she has three (including ME!) built-in coaches to help her train and prepare. I might add, just to be on the safe side, she chose a race that’s still four months away…nothing like preparation!

So, after her first official training run, we did some stretching. My oldest son–the cyclist who is just about the sweetest big brother any little girl could ever have–told her he’d teach her how to massage her legs to keep them fresh. It was dinner time, so they didn’t jump right into that, but just as our little sports girl was ready to crawl into bed, she realized they hadn’t done this, yet, and it couldn’t wait another moment! (she’s very literal)

Even though my son was already settling in with his own evening routine of reading cycling news on his phone and reading about cyclists in his books, he stopped everything to do what he promised his little sister he’d do.

As I stood there watching my son take as much time on his baby sister who had run less than a mile at an average pace she could have walked the entire course in, taking such care and telling her why to massage these muscles this way and those muscles that way, etc., I did what I tend to do when I realize how old my oldest is getting…I got choked up. Dang those motherly hormones and sensitivity! I get choked up because I’m so proud of the young man he has become, because he’s still growing and maturing, and not yet a man but certainly no longer a boy.

wp-1465564028173.jpgI got choked up, and although I thought I was keeping it reigned in pretty well, my daughter saw the tightness of my face and understood immediately what I was thinking. Then, the sensitive youngest got chocked up…and didn’t worry with the annoyance of keeping it held in. She went from relaxed bliss to bursts of tears and hugs. She cries because he is going into his senior year and will be going away soon to pursue his own dreams. She cries because he’s her biggest ally and is always willing to drop everything for her. She cries because, like my step-sons who have gone before, my oldest son will move on with his life, building a family of his own some day and their relationship will change. She cries because she doesn’t like change.

And, what does my oldest son do but take it all in patient stride!

He takes it in stride when we’re crying over him getting older. He takes it in stride when he’s drowning in estrogen, surrounded by sisters and me! He takes it in stride when his friends are being crazy, angry, aggressive, competitive, or just plain silly. He takes life in stride, which is probably the quality I am most proud of in my son.

So, here’s to your senior year of high school, Morgan! May this year hold so much possibility, not just for what’s to come this year, but for the ways you’ll continue to learn, grown, and develop for the lifetime to come. Expect more things you will need to take in stride…but I know you will with the same confidence and care you do, now. I am so proud of you, my oldest!

Until next time, my friends…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

LaCrosse Omnium: Day 3

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Representing the Brazen Dropouts on this overcast May morning!

I’m so proud of my son! His final stage road race today wasn’t without frustration, but he is a champion cyclist at heart so he has dreams too big to be brought down by a single race.

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The walk to the car after the road race, with his head still held high!

Morgan had a great weekend of racing and still, on our way home asked for a detour so he could get back on his bike and ride three miles uphill through Amish country. He never ceases to amaze me!

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Family selfie!

Everything about our traveling race weekend was terrific. I’m so blessed to be able to make these jaunts in support of my kid’s adventures! I know I’m TOTALLY “that mom” but I love it and I wouldn’t trade these memories for anything in the world!

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Captains America 🙂

Thank YOU ALL for joining in our journey! Until next time…

Make it a great day,
Marilyn

Get On Your Bike and Ride!!!

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Wishing I were on my bicycle RIGHT NOW!

As you can tell from every social media outlet I’m associated with, this weekend is one of cycling obsession for me! So, what better focus for me to have Day 4 of my 1000 Days Younger Challenge to be ALL about cycling!

#GETTINGYOUNGEREVERYDAY: DAY 4
Get off of your butt and ride!!!

Make it a great day,
Marilyn

LaCrosse Omnium: Day 2

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Morgan, his coach, and teammate Sam

Crit day rocked and Morgan did a great job. He ended up 5th in his field, which was certainly a solid placement in a strong field!

The kids and I have been having so much fun in LaCrosse, playing, cheering, exploring, and eating (which we call “refueling” to make it sound more cycling official)!!!

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We’re having a terrific time and are liking forward to tomorrow morning’s long road race.

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Make it a great day,
Marilyn

LaCrosse Omnium: Day 1

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Morgan & his entourage

What a great first day of racing! Morgan is so excited to have a second year in a row at the LaCrosse Omnium 3-day stage race! Today, it’s all uphill!

2.3 miles straight up Grandad Bluff. The two mile bike race length makes it sound minor, but this hill/mountain/bluff is NOT for the faint of heart. Thankfully, Morgan’s favorite part of cycling IS the climbing. So, all this proud mom has to say is “Go, Morgan, GO!!!”

In the end of day 1, Morgan felt great! He shaved two minutes off of his time from last year in the same course. He is rested, with muscles rolled, kinesiology tape in place, and compression socks working their rejuvenating magic! Day 2’s crit is right around the corner!

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Post race glow

Make it a great day,
Marilyn

Touring Wisconsin on Two Wheels: Southwest Loop

The greatest thing about moving north to an entirely new state that spends half the year (a slight exaggeration) completely hidden under snow cover is that when the snow thaws, everything is brand new, again! As it is now my family’s second Autumn season in Wisconsin, we see patterns emerging from memories of a year ago when we were finally either unpacking the last of the moving boxes, or wondering why we had bothered to move this or that in the first place, and rather than further deal with it, shove it away in a dark corner of the storeroom. We see the geese beginning to practice their flights instead of their continual summer grazing and lazy swims on neighborhood ponds. The farmers are beginning to cut the crops of corn and soybeans that fill every unpaved spot on the landscape. Wood is being gathered and chopped for the coming winter fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, and backyard fire pits. And, the last of the fruits and veggies are being canned and jammed to be enjoyed throughout the coming months of barren ground.

As a way of fully immersing ourselves into our new community, my son, Morgan, and I took to the plethora of multi-use trails around our area. We love living near the capital city of our state for several reasons, and the exceptional trails in our new home state take the cake for this bike-loving clan! Mid-winter, when we were missing the beautifully lined paths, Morgan and I started dreaming of these wonderful trails, wishing we could explore them every day and see how far they would take us. That’s when we came up with a wonderful idea: a cycling vacation to explore Wisconsin!

Our guidebook for the journey. We referenced the maps and charts in this book often throughout the trip!

Our guidebook for the journey. We referenced the maps and charts in this book often throughout the trip!

A quick look at Google Maps (with the cycling paths highlighted) reveals a nice loop through the southwestern corridor of our cheese-loving state. Roughly 131 miles from Fitchburg to Dodgeville, then south to Darlington, over to Monroe, and completing the loop (rather–it’s more of a square) by heading north back to Fitchburg. It was a genius idea!

Morgan and I started dreaming through the snow-lined streets, of a summer vacation on bicycle. And, like one of my all-time favorite motivators, Zig Ziglar, said many times, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Achieve it, we did!!!

We also recruited a friend and fellow cycling enthusiast, Zach, to join in the fun.

We put together packing lists and to-do lists. We met over coffee and scones to discuss and plan. We checked and double-checked everything from tires or water bottles. And we set out on a journey we will not soon forget.

PACKING LIST (in no cohesive order):

Carrying all you will need over the course of a vacation really keeps your "needs" in perspective!

Carrying all you will need over the course of a vacation certainly keeps your “needs” in perspective!

  • Our homemade guidebook
  • Cash, ID’s, and credit cards
  • Backpack to hold all necessary possessions
  • Quick dry shirt
  • Quick dry pair of shorts
  • Sleepwear
  • Hand sanitizer/wipes
  • Extra bike tubes
  • Athletic tape
  • Energy gels and snacks
  • Phone chargers
  • Bike tools
  • Helmets
  • Bike lights and/or flashlights
  • Pepper spray
  • Water bottles
  • Bike pump and/or CO2 cartridges
  • Socks and underwear
  • Bike locks
  • Sunblock
  • First aid kit
  • Plastic shopping sacks
  • Pen/marker
  • Bathing suit
  • Sunglasses
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
My ride for the trip. It's a simple Trek, but I LOVE IT! The smaller woman's frame made for some modifications like the new water bottle spot. And my road tires were replaced with hybrids to help stand up to the rocks, silt, and unpaved glory to come!

My ride for the trip. It’s a simple Trek, but I LOVE IT! The smaller woman’s frame made for some modifications like the new water bottle spot. And my road tires were replaced with hybrids to help stand up to the rocks, silt, and unpaved glory to come!

TO-DO’s PRIOR TO LAUNCH:

  • Wisconsin state trail use pass (purchased through WI Department of Natural Resources)
  • Full bike inspection and tuneup
  • Hotel reservations (because at the end of the day, we wanted showers, beds, and cable)

Check. Check.. and Check…all the way down the line.

The day we took off from our designated starting spot–a convenience store–the weather was still chilly and quite windy. The first half of the day was spent in some pretty open areas where the crosswinds made us question our sanity pretty often. But, we knew ahead of time that we would each have our doubts along the way, and that it was each of our jobs individually and collectively as a group to keep the momentum up and the spirits light.

For three days and two nights, we had no responsibilities or obligations beyond riding from one point to the next. Stopping along the way whenever we were tired or saw a pretty spot to relax and stretch, or a random stray kitten crying out to us from alongside the path. Our only “job” for three whole days was to enjoy the journey.

Wisconsin has some wonderful trails to offer even the most casual of rider! They're well-maintained, well-marked, and well-loved by this group!

Wisconsin has some wonderful trails to offer even the most casual of rider! They’re well-maintained, well-marked, and well-loved by this group!

The first day began in Fitchburg and ended in Mineral Point, travelling through Verona, Mount Horeb, Blue Mounds, Barneveld, Ridgeway, and Dodgeville along the way. We stopped at a wonderful hidden coffee shop tucked into the back of a convenience store in Mount Horeb called Mary’s Coffee Express, and enjoyed lattes and scones to pump up our energy while we sat and charged our cell phones. Morgan–ever the seeker of future Tour de France mountain climbing glory–took a few additional detours when we came to side-shooting climbs around Blue Mounds State Park. And in Dodgeville, we had to take to the streets where traffic doesn’t seem as accommodating to those of us using two instead of four wheels for our travel. That evening came and our hotel in Mineral Point had an indoor swimming pool/hot tub combination, a Subway next door, and a marathon of Dance Moms on TV. All was right in the world.

We allowed ourselves a slow start on our second day out on the bikes. It was nice to just kind of hang around, eat a slow hotel lobby breakfast, load our bikes back up, and remind ourselves that we weren’t punching any time clocks and could relax into the trip. We had no idea how grueling the second day in the saddle would be, but we were soon to find out.

A ride through the Wisconsin countryside wouldn't be complete without walls of corn for miles and miles!

A ride through the Wisconsin countryside wouldn’t be complete without walls of corn for miles and miles!

The Cheese Country Trail, which stretches from Mineral Point to Monroe (our entire second day’s journey) would be a fabulous, teetering on “heavenly” ATV trail. However, as a bike trail it makes life pretty difficult. It’s very rocky with a loose, silty (is that a word?) under-layer, so on our bicycles (even on Zach’s mountain bike with big, knobby tires) we were literally “spinning our wheels” and getting nowhere. We had a couple of issues over the course of our second day out on the trail. We’d fall over from trying so hard to move forward but going nowhere and just toppling. We’d get angry and yell at the trail when forward progress got really frustrating. And, we’d celebrate when little towns would pop up with their hometown food, benches, and patient folks.

Day two took us from Mineral Point to Darlington, through Gratiot to South Wayne, and on through Browntown to Monroe. We’d never been so happy to see a hotel before in our lives as we were when we reached our destination in Monroe just as the sun was beginning to settle on the horizon, but once we finished the 50 mile day relief kicked in and we felt like we could conquer the world!!! Out of nowhere one of us would exclaim something along the lines of, “If I can do that, I can do anything,” and we’d all chime in, all so proud of our day’s work. That night we loaded up on all the Italian fare we could get into our bodies at a wonderful restaurant just around the corner from the hotel, Vince’s Italian Restaurant & Pizzaria. It was the tastiest way to end the day!!!

Zach, myself, and Morgan--three faces full of pride and joy!!!

Zach, myself, and Morgan–three faces full of pride and joy!!!

Our final day out was also the shortest, with only the last 30 miles left to cover and a beautiful day ahead. Riding the Badger State Trail from Monroe, through Monticello and Belleville, and into Fitchburg was such a relaxing break after the day out on the ATV trail!

We stopped along the way a LOT in this last day. Sometimes, when we’d stop, I’d smile to myself because this journey that we’d imagined had been such a neat adventure that none of us were quite ready for the adventure to end, so we’d let the smallest things distract us and be a cause for pause along the way. My riding buddies are such neat guys; these teenage boys who still aren’t even old enough to drive cars had to dig deep on this trip to keep going and they did so without ever really considering quitting. Quitting just wasn’t an option, and although we had some bumps and tired times, we were operating as a team out on the trails. At one time we’d be laughing and joking around, other times we’d each be playing music for the rest to hear blaring from the tiny speakers on our cell phones, and still other times we’d be riding in perfect precision and harmony like a pro cycling team, sharing the workload in the front of the line and riding in complete silence but for the sound of our tires and trail meeting.

Storm clouds circled overhead and the air was heavy at times, but we never had so much as a drop of rain while we were out on the trails. The weather was just perfect for a little bike ride!

Storm clouds circled overhead and the air was heavy at times, but we never had so much as a drop of rain while we were out on the trails. The weather was just perfect for a little bike ride!

Finally, however, each journey must come to a close, even if it’s just to ask, “Same time next year?” We arrived back at our convenience store in Fitchburg to cheering family, fresh bottles of water, and car air conditioning!

Even though there are more serious riders who will easily get our 130+ miles into a single day’s ride, ours was an adventure of epic proportions to us! Perspective is key when your dreams take you over hurdles or on adventures you never imagined before that you could actually accomplish. Whether it’s your first 5k or scaling Mount Everest, if it’s a BIG accomplishment in your eyes, and you’re proud of yourself, then that’s all that matters in the world!!! Keep your head high and your dreams higher…and just keep peddling 🙂

Until next time…

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn

Dropping Body Fat Over the Holidays {+Video}

In an attempt to see just how trim I can get my bod, I’ve decided to document the next eight weeks of body changes on my YouTube channel. Every two weeks I will post a preview video to highlight how I’m doing. Then, at the end of the eight weeks, I will post a compilation video of the body changes.

Marilyn flex Preview1The goals here are simple:
1. I want this to be a “real world” experiment. I’m not going to heavily alter my nutrition regimen, and the added bonus of the holiday season week make this particularly “real.” The only control over my diet that will factor in is that I am going to stop myself from completely over-indulging in holiday sweets and treats. There will still be sugar…oh yes, there will be sugar!
2. I want to get my body fat down as low as I healthfully can without some crash diet or insane workout schedule. My focus throughout this experiment will be on my training, which will range from weight lifting to various kinds of cardio work (including cycling, since I’m also in prep mode for next year’s LaCrosse Omnium).
**A note on body fat: Please note that pre-menopausal women are highly encouraged to maintain a natural body fat level of at least 12%, but more realistically 15-22% for the most normal female reproductive functions. I am post-menopausal thanks to endometriosis running in my family, so I do not have this factor to worry with.  Please consult your physician as I did before embarking on a similar experiment.

So, I invite you to view the first preview video, subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep up on all the latest and greatest video news, and even connect on Endomondo, the fitness tracker I prefer for all things without related!

Thanks to all for your support and cheers!

Make it a great day,
Mari!yn

Off to the Next Challenge

I consider myself somewhat of a Gypsy spirit in that I don’t much like to stay in one place too many years, or do one thing for too long. I’m not the person you’ll be celebrating 30 year anniversaries with a single company or likely even in a single industry; I commend people who have that long-term stick-to-it-ness, but that’s just not me. So far, in my little life I’ve worked my way through high school in a grocery store, studied art, psychology and English, which all led to interesting jobs in marketing, jewelry design, business management, fitness, and now even coffee! That’s more-or-less how I roll in most areas of my life. I enjoy change and the exploring and learning that goes with each new chapter.

Marilyn fitnessAs you can well imagine, this mindset also applies to my physical activities. Always active, my fitness passions have ranged from ballet to bodybuilding, short to long distance running, and have included yoga and Pilates for good measure. And, although I’ve enjoyed riding my bicycle since I first learned in my grandparent’s front yard in Coltsneck, New Jersey, I am off to the next challenge of racing…on a bike. Anyone who has spent at least 15 minutes with me knows that my son, Morgan, is counting down to the Tour de France 2019, so his influence and passion for the sport of cycling no doubt adds fuel to my fire. The bottom line is that I really enjoy riding. Over the years, I have raised money and participated in a handful of fundraising rides, but the truth was I had to participate in those rides because Morgan wasn’t old enough to ride them on his own. Now, it’s for me!

I have chosen my race and have even included a countdown over to the right ——————————————————————————————->>>

Riding my bikeThe LaCrosse Omnium is a three-day event which includes a 2.37 mile climb up Grandad’s Bluff, a 45 minute criterium around Riverside Park, and a three-lap road race on a 13.6 mile loop across the border in Minnesota. Let me just say from the get-go: I’m using the term “racing” very lightly here! Similar to my 2 1/2 hour half marathon in 2012, I will be elated just to finish this challenge…if I actually beat someone across a finish line that will just be completely unexpected icing on the cake.

Morgan will be in training for this race, as well, which we will document on GoMorganGo.com!

So, I’m off and training, and looking forward to where the road and my two wheels will take me this time around! My plan is to post updates along the journey and tell all about this awesome race!

Thanks for stopping by.

Make it a great day,

Mari!yn