Margaret Domnick - The Inside Story...

I'm a woman, mother, friend, sister, daughter, wife and partner in crime. I'm spontaneous, anal, loud, loving, funny (or at least I think I am), and generally honest. Sometimes I get these thoughts... so I've created this blog to share them. Feel free to respond, but be kind...did I mention that I'm sensitive?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Recap - Courage Classic Bike Ride

I know you’ve all been waiting to hear how the Ride went…so, here’s the scoop! It's kind of long, but it was a three day ride...

It was cool the first morning of the ride. I had borrowed arm and leg warmers (didn’t even know they existed for riders until a week or so beforehand) and had them on with my riding shorts, jersey and wind jacket. I felt kind of funny since nothing matched, but hey, I was warm. So, everyone was parking their bikes and walking around near the start, so I parked my bike too and followed someone to see what might be happening and found myself at the port-a-potty. I laughed, then went, then looked for someone I recognized.

I found a small group of “Gene Teamers” and hung by them. We took some pictures, waited for a few other people, then grabbed our bikes and headed to the start. It was much more casual than I had expected, but hey, this was a RIDE, not a RACE, so I guess casual is perfect.

The ride started on a downhill, and I reached 29mph quickly and was hooked! I was freezing, but I laughed and hooted and smiled anyway and soaked it all in. The mountains were all around me, the trees were gorgeous, and the air was crisp. I felt like I was a character in a book “…she flew down the hill on her bike, hair flailing behind her, the wind smacking her face as she peddled faster and faster…” It was an amazing moment that I will always remember. “This is it”, I told myself, “and I love it!”

I knew that I had two big climbs before lunch. As I began the first ascent, I felt strong. I passed a person, then another, “this isn’t so bad”. I felt my legs tighten and my speed shorten, but it was still good. The climb lasted about 6 minutes or so and when I got to the top I thought “one down, one to go”, but it really wasn’t one of the climbs; it was just a little starter hill. When I got to the first real climb, I understood why the first one was a hill. I conquered Tennessee Pass and was pleased. But on Battle Mountain, the second climb, I wasn’t so impressive. I started strong, but it was so steep! I stopped several times (OK, five) to stretch my quads, drink water, and catch my breath. Every new start felt good and eventually, I got to the top. My team was waiting for me up there :) and I was only about a minute behind the last of them. Not too shabby! We rode 36 miles before lunch, and I was tired.

Lunch was fun. Hundreds of bikes parked and/or laying on the ground (most road bikes don’t have kickstands). I learned not to lay my bike on the gears, nice to know. Everyone hung out on the grass eating sandwiches and pasta salad, talking about the morning challenges, seeing faces from previous rides and introducing new friends. I loved it. I felt like I belonged and no one knew I was an imposter. Everyone discussed the “worst part of the ride” coming up after lunch, Vail Pass. I was sore and tired and worried. A few other riders were lined up for the SAG van; a ride to the next aid station. They convinced me to join them, understanding that stopping five times on Battle Mountain, a three mile uphill, didn’t bode well for success at Vail Pass, an eighteen mile uphill! I gave in and rode the Sag, but I regretted it. THINKING I needed to Sag and actually NEEDING it is not really the same thing. I should have tried. I’m OK with failing much more than not trying. Lesson learned…I will attempt Vail next year!

Well, I picked up at the very next stop, completed the rest of that day's miles and finished strong. Crossing the first day finish was fun, although I didn’t really feel like I deserved it, since I skipped part of the ride.

Day two also started out cool and crisp. I had my mismatched leg and arm warmers and wind jacket on. We started with a long, crazy fun, cold downhill. I left Wichita in 112 degree heat, so the 59 degree temp was refreshing. I maxed out at 34mph before hitting my breaks out of fear. I rode alongside a new friend and asked her many biking questions. I learned about “feathering” my breaks instead of “riding” them, and I learned how to ride downhill in the highest gear for more control that allowed for continued peddling. Honestly, I really didn’t know much about my gear capabilities or techniques before that point…imposter! In fact, before that conversation, I laughed at the riders peddling on the downhills, wondering why they weren’t just coasting along like me. Suddenly, I was a peddler and I liked it!

After a Chinese lunch (I usually love it, but not on a bike ride. I chose the PB&J option) we headed out. The afternoon promised more uphill riding. I watched the other bikers pass me when I pulled over to stretch, drink, and rest, and I saw that they were all breathing hard and riding slow too. Everyone was struggling, but they didn’t stop. I figured out that getting up the mountain slopes required mental toughness; not my strongpoint. “I will not stop again”, I told myself, “I can do this”. And off I went… The very next climb was an eight mile stretch. I began shifting down as needed and got myself into a little cadence and worked hard to hold it. “I will not stop” I repeated over and over. I couldn’t look up the mountain, because it just kept getting steeper and steeper and longer and longer. I started finding rocks just a few feet in front of me and I’d ride to the rock…then the next rock…and the next. I rode rock-to-rock most of the miles and felt FANTASTIC when I reached the summit! Ok, my body was sore and tired and jelly-like, but my brain was screaming with joy!! I was able to maintain an average speed of 7mph and got to the top in about an hour; that's an hour of riding all uphill! I continued riding more miles to the finish and went through feeling proud and accomplished. Then I learned that The Gene Team always waited for each other to finish together; so I walked my bike back out, waited for the Team, and went through the finish again – and it was more fun with everyone else (side note: I left lunch earlier than the others, so they wouldn’t have to wait for me…but since I didn’t stop on the big hill, I stayed ahead of them).

I looked forward to the last day of the ride, for a couple reasons. One, it was the last day of the ride, and Two, I felt stronger both physically and mentally and was excited to begin my journey up Freemont Pass; a 12 mile uphill at the very start of the day. I rode by my condo and my family was standing outside hootin’ and hollerin’ as I went by. Then I turned the corner and started the morning climb. This ride was on the highway, making me nervous because I’d not even trained on the road, let alone the highway. And, there was construction too, making the ride more treacherous. I put all of that out of my mind and focused on the task at hand. I did great the first 5 miles and stopped at the aid station with my teammates. We quickly took off again not wanting to get “cold” for the next 7, more steep, miles. I got into my groove and held my own for quite a while. My legs were kind of numb, but I kept on moving. I distracted myself with the gorgeous scenery, tried my rock-to-rock technique, and even prayed part of the Rosary. I had to pay careful attention to the road because there was a lot of loose gravel and big divots to avoid. At one point I pulled over, weak and broken, and thought I’d walk my bike for a while. I went exactly 6 steps. “I can do this”, I told myself, “I am strong, I am good, and I can do this!” I heard someone say “only five to go” as they rode by and I got back on my bike and started to ride. I repeated my mantra over and over “I am strong, I am good, and I can do this” breathe, breathe, “I am strong, I am good, and I can do this”… and I did! I was on top of the world when I reached the top of that mountain. I OWNED Freemont Pass! Never mind that it took me a total of 2 HOURS to get there, I was at the top and happy with my accomplishment. We waited for the others, took pictures, laughed and patted backs, grabbed oranges and bananas, hung out, enjoyed the beauty of the summit, and prepared for the downhill.

And, that downhill was A-MAZ-ING! I hit 37mph before “feathering” my brakes and even took a picture as I whizzed by some gorgeous scenery (not smart at that speed, but it was SO pretty). There were more uphill climbs that day, some as steep (or steeper) than Freemont Pass, but none as long; and I did fine with all of them.

I don't know exactly how many miles I covered this weekend, well over 100, but what I do know is that it changed me. I began this ride as the mother of a child with PKU who wanted to participate in a bike ride to raise money for her son’s clinic. I emerged from this ride a biker; and a stronger, more focused woman.

And, during my week in Colorado I also went white water rafting, rode the ski lift, explored the mountains, shopped, and hung out with my hubby and kids. I’d say it was a perfect week!


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bike Blog Two: Magic in the Moment

Bike Blog Two…Magic in the Moment

I remember when I was little and anything was possible and it was easy to believe in everything. My “ouchie” really felt better with my mother’s kiss, scary things really lived in my closet and under my bed, and I KNEW I would become famous and live in New York City. I was born a believer, we all are, and then life slapped me in the face and I began to doubt. I’m not sure exactly when that happened, maybe when I found out peas weren’t really Martian heads, like my sister had told me they were; maybe when I failed beginner swimming lessons (I think I’m the only one that’s EVER happened to), or maybe when I got books for Christmas. No matter the actual event, doubt entered my world, and has been here, off and on, ever since.

But, six months ago, the believer in me came shining through. I signed up to ride 150 miles in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Never mind the fact that I didn’t own a bike, hadn’t exercised regularly in 20 years (yes, seriously), or had ever really wanted to be a biker. I was committed, I believed I would succeed, and it felt good.

And I continued to believe. I talked myself through the pains of an aching back, stiff neck, tight legs, sleeping toes, and tender hands. I pictured myself riding strong in the mountains, knowing that I would be fine. I didn’t really train on hills, living in Wichita, Kansas, but rode into the wind which is equally tough (or so I believed). All was good. Even when I struggled with an injury only three weeks before the ride, I was confident that I’d be fine and would ride well.

Then, I got to Colorado. The mountains were amazing – and HUGE. The air was thin, and there were bikers everywhere wearing matching jerseys and riding fast. I began to doubt. Could I really do this ride? I didn’t train on hills. Sometimes, I still forgot that my shoes were attached to my bike, and I’d fall (twice in one week). I didn’t even train on the roads, let alone the highway! My longest ride to date had only been 36 miles, less than any event ride. And, I had just recovered from an injury…who was I kidding?

Then, something happened…I started to ride. The sting in my legs was replaced by the exhilaration of hitting 29mph on my first downhill. My shortness of breath was replaced by the rolling Arkansas River 5 feet from the bike path. The ginormousness of the mountains overshadowed all my doubt. It was a magical moment. I began to believe again, understanding that my purpose in this ride was bigger than my abilities. And as it turned out, I did great!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bike Blog One: The Reality of it All

Well, I haven’t been in the Colorado Rockies in a very long time. And, let’s just say the last time I was here, I was in a younger, more wild stage of life, and it is just a lot different than I remember. And, it’s AMAZING! It’s the kind of amazing that makes you step back and ask “so, why am I living in Wichita, Kansas?” Then, of course, I remember that…ummmmm…my husband and I work there, have four kids rooted there, and have friends and family near there; but still, the mountains and cooler weather make for a good argument.

I left Wichita in 112 degree heat on a Tuesday morning at 10:30. Everything was carefully packed, including a newerish, fabulous road bike and all the accessories that go along with it (including bike shoes that caused two embarrassing falls within one week at the same busy intersection). I was on my way to begin the final phase of this crazy bike adventure.

So, as I sit here in my room tonight, as ready as I’m going to be, I’m thinking about all the things that have happened to bring me to this point. I’ve missed kids activities to get in a needed ride; I’ve not made (many) dinners for my family to get in a needed ride; I’ve spent money I didn’t have for gloves, shorts and a helmet. I’ve not cleaned my house, not folded laundry, not helped with homework, and not shown-up for date night. I’ve been cranky, sore, tired, absent, and gone for long periods of time. I’ve relied on Mike to hit the grocery store, order pizza and pick up my slack; and he has. I’ve expected the kids to do their part without being prodded, and they have. Thank you!

I also think about the lofty $2,500 fundraising goal I set. I had no idea why I picked that number and no idea how I would raise it. Mike helped me put together The First Ever Courage Classic Bike Ride Event hoping a few people would come by and hoping to raise $500. We had many guests and raised $1,900 that night, with more donations arriving after the event. The support we received from the community and our friends and family overwhelmed us with kindness. All the donations, sweet notes, cards and thoughtful comments that came my way made me see the world differently; more together, more real, more genuine.

My initial goal to “give back” has morphed into an honest NEED to give back; to be as genuine toward other people as has been shown toward me. You just don’t realize how much little things matter until you are the recipient of those little things.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

What's Your Plan?

So, I like to think I’m in control of my world. I plan my day, set out my clothes, and iron whatever may need to be ironed the night before. I schedule appointments before they are necessary, write everything down that I need to remember, keep my house pretty darned clean, try to plan meals, call my mother several times a week, and tuck my kids in bed at night. I make time to lunch with my friends and get in a few date-nights with my guy. I keep my paperwork up to date and am actually looking forward to organizing my garage later this summer. Although there are things I definitely could do better, I’m pretty happy with my little corner of the universe.

And just when I’m feeling really good about my world, something completely random happens that brings me back to reality. Something that reminds me that life isn't about my plan, it's about the actions that come from my plan. The planning is my view of myself, who I want to be; and my actions are proof of who I really am.

That'll give you something to think about today.


Monday, July 4, 2011

To My Friend...

We met for the first time at a street fair, and were immediately friends. We spent weekends shopping and lunching, mornings walking the town, and evenings sipping wine. We never had to think about what to say; we were comfortable, honest, and genuine. It was the best friendship since those of my childhood.

I don’t know exactly when it changed. Maybe when I went back to work, and was less available. Maybe when our children didn’t click as well as we did. Little issues started making tiny dents in our ability to connect. But still, we were strong. We met in the early mornings to walk, we snatched extra sale items from Target to share, and we helped decorate each other’s houses. We discussed colors and textures and accessories. We met up for garage sales, had cook-outs and swim dates and long phone conversations. We celebrated birthdays with trips to the City and favorite lunches and beautifully wrapped packages. It was easy to pick out perfect presents because we knew each other so well. OK, so you were better at presents, definitely.

More changes came. Tensions at school took a toll. Competitions and comparisons entered the relationship, changing our friendship. Plans were made, but not kept. Plans were made, but changed. Plans were made, but others were there too. It was just different now. We walked once in a while, with more quiet between us. We agreed to disagree. We became more separate, but we still cared. We continued to talk, but were less available to each other. We shopped and lunched with different people, walked with different friends, judged more harshly. I missed you!

We met on your porch and apologized and hugged and asked to start again. We agreed that we’d grown too far apart. You shared of a health scare. I was sad. I wondered why I didn’t already know. We planned to meet on Thursday mornings at the bagel shop, to keep in touch and rekindle our friendship, but it only lasted one meeting. It was the first time that I considered that the value of our friendship might not be equal. It was a life lesson for me, one that I continue to consider.

I look back and only see the good times. I don’t remember all the bumps and bruises and uphill stretches. I see our friendship as it was initially; comfortable, honest and genuine, still the best since those of my childhood. May only good things come to you, my friend.