Sunday, August 29, 2010

#2 Hang Gliding - completed August 29, 2010

Hang gliding. Where do I even start? First, let's clarify that I did not jump off a cliff - I got towed up by a small plane. Also I did not do it by myself but flew in tandem with someone who know what he was doing. I credit this second item on my bucket list to my friend and colleague Jean who has gone to a place in Ridgely, MD that she wanted to take me to. That was the original plan (for August 15) but we got rained out. When my cousin Christine told me she really wanted to go, I worked it into my NY/NJ plans late August and found a place in Middletown, NY: Hangar 3. Took some great pictures!

So what was it like? AWESOME!!! Exhilarating, beautiful, intense yet meditative. I was surprised at how smooth the take-off and landing were though you wouldn't know it from the video below. Being that I can never stop teeth got cold! And my mouth got dry so you can see me having a Mr Ed moment with my mouth in the video. Shout-out to my brother Francis: I totally pulled out the Superman pose! I reached about 2500 ft (about half a mile) and now want to go to Ridgely, MD so I can go even higher.

It's been such a great topic of conversation and piques the interest of many. Recently I was at a friend's birthday party and in an enthusiastic conversation about my hang gliding experience and the bucket list with a new acquaintance (thanks, Carlos!), he said "sounds like the break up could be the best thing that ever happened to you". Hm. Maybe...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Dear Nicky, #5 is for you

Though I have a few months before I'll look to accomplishing #5 on the list - learn to snowboard - today has prompted a blog post. It is the first anniversary of my cousin's passing...a day I have dreaded since the break up. Missing him so much that I'm hoping the letter below will help me get through the night.

Dear Nicky,

Yeah yeah, you go by Nick now. Whatever lil cuz, you will eternally be 8 yrs old in my eyes. But I guess now I'll always remember you as 21, the age at which you left us. Today's been rough, dude. I've been dreading it for the past year but especially since the break up. Have you seen the break up bucket list? Did you check out #5? You'd better watch over me when I start learning to snowboard to make sure I stay safe, though most likely you'll be laughing at me when I fall repeatedly on a sore butt. I wish I had tried to learn sooner so I could've taken you up on those invites to hit the slopes together. I still hate what happened to you and hope we'll see justice one day soon. We lost you just because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I still can't get past how senseless and stupid it was, damn street racers.

It's been so hard today and made harder by recent shocking, hurtful news and awkward social circumstances. Today was the ultimate test of my strength and I survived. Thanks for not letting me walk into the dinner party alone; I felt you with me. I've been so scared to deal with this anniversary and kept thinking about what amazing support I had from him last year at this time. If someone had told me then how different things would be in just a year's time, I'd call them crazy. Whose chest was I going to sob into now? Who was going to put their arms around me and make me feel things would be ok? My friends have been amazing, even the ones that I've only gotten closer to recently. But who was going to be the one person I could depend on? You. Ironically, you are the one who's helping me deal with missing you. I asked for your help to get through my day, particularly my evening, and when the hardest part had passed, I thanked you because I knew you were there, like my invisible buffer. And when I get sad about that guy in my life who helped me get through the wake, funeral and regular bouts of weeping for months and months thereafter but now can't be there for me anymore, I hear you say, "you don't need him. You got me; I'm right here."

Sometimes I forget that you're gone. Then I remember the reality and it gets hard again. So promise me you'll still keep reminding me that you're right here with me and we'll be all good. Love you, Nick. I know there's a lot of us all wanting you to stay beside us but if there's one person who could handle being there for all his friends and family as much as possible, it's you.

Your Big Cuz

Sunday, August 8, 2010

First Triathlon! Super Sprint in Manassas, VA

Yes, I completed my first triathlon. No, I do not consider myself a triathlete by any means. I was pretty nervous the night before but thankfully had my friend Laura to distract me on the drive out to Manassas and to help me get set up in the transition area. I also befriended the participants behind me (shoutout to #373-375: Roger, Ardemis and Pat!). I struggled in the swim and had to switch from a freestyle to backstroke to finish (but hey, I finished!). I fell so behind that I rushed through my transitions - no rest for the weary! When I first came out of the pool to my bike, I felt pretty disoriented and underestimated how sunny it would be. Fatigue, heat...overall discomfort started to plague my ride. Thankfully my zen moment came on the bike about 6 miles into the course. I was riding down a long straight, the sun beating down on me, my legs getting tired but pushing through the I took a deep breath and realized, "oh my God, I'm really doing this." I relaxed a little, my legs still spinning, but looked around at the grass and buildings around me on the GMU campus and focused on the sounds of the birds and insects with no one directly ahead of me or behind me...and just enjoyed the ride.

I've been pretty disciplined with my 5 am Pacers fun runs and swimming on an almost daily basis. Training has given me something to focus on that also makes me feel good and look great - I've lost 10 lbs! The past month and a half has been really hard for me emotionally and everyone keeps saying how things will get better with time. Unfortunately time has been moving like molasses but the training has been a great way to pass some of it. Today the training took on a new meaning as more than just a time-killer. As I struggled to keep my energy up on the bike and get my legs loose again on the run, I focused on the finish...I looked forward to the moment I could say "I've done it, my first triathlon." It didn't matter how short the distances, I just wanted that sense of accomplishment. Finally at the finish line, I breathed a sigh of relief and relished the moment.

I'll never forget that moment on the bike. Running races and triathlons are the epitome of individual sports which I always thought as isolating but in that one moment whizzing past the scenery and in my own zone, I realized, "it's all you, Kath. You've got this. You're gonna be ok." For the race. And in life.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My First Triathlon and Call for Volunteers!

As previously posted, #3 on my list is to do a sprint triathlon (Lake Anna, Oct 3). But before this list was ever created (and before the break up ever happened), my coworkers sent me info on a super sprint triathlon in Manassas, VA on August 8 with a pool swim. So I signed up thinking I would do this with my colleagues and then ended up as the only one doing it. So here I am 2 days away from my first triathlon and still terrified of the pool swim. I didn't seek out friend support thinking, "oh it's such a little tiny triathlon, it's no big deal...not worth dragging people all the way out to an hour outside of DC." But with multiple emails desperately seeking volunteers (if you're free Sunday morning, please click on the previous hyperlink!) to help make the race safe for participants, particularly targeting friends and relatives of the participants, it was then that I realized how helpful it would be to have some support - too bad I realized this so late! There's a balance between wanting to do things for yourself and still having people in your life share those moments with you. I used to think it had to be with that special someone but just having a friend (thanks, Laura!) is still a special someone. Thanks to everyone who has wished me good wishes for the race these last couple days!

Updated training schedule! I apparently underestimated the super sprint tri distance and started to put mileage in for my runs so that by mid-August I'll be overlapping with my 10-week training program for the Army Ten Miler (Oct 24). **phew** Exhausted just looking at it.