Friday, October 30, 2015

Dramatic Theatre, 101

“When a person shows you who they really are, believe them.”
                                      -Maya Angelou

The Velociraptor of Irony (thank you to Jennifer Stewart for this term) comes to eat me from time to time. I admit it 100%. I am not perfect. I know sometimes I write things that come across (and are?) very sanctimonious, but really I am just a person with strong beliefs, strong convictions, and a desire to try to make the world a little bit better for friends and strangers alike.

I was thinking about my blog to do with "Queen Bees." I had a major a-HA moment about a week ago. I was discussing Queen Bees with my mom, and rather than call them Queen Bees, she referred to them as manipulators. I usually associate manipulators with jealous spouses, domestic violence - that sort of thing. I had never considered that a Queen Bee was anything but a strong, fun personality (and they usually are), but they become that way through very calculated manipulation.


Then I read this article. I was floored. (all italics are referring to this)

"No matter what happens, with many twists and turns, this emotional manipulator becomes the victim."

Although the constant victims instigate tension and fights, they manipulate the situation so that they can be perceived as the victim. After their partners or others are engaged in emotional battles with the constant victim, the constant victim seeks sympathy from others involved and turns people against each other in order to gain control and power."

They create alliances (usually with themselves in charge) and attack others who might stand in their way. At first they are friendly with their victims and use compliments and ego blustering techniques in order to facilitate a bond between themselves and their victims."

Queen Bees are not just the popular ones - they're incredibly talented manipulators.

And here is where the Velociraptor of Irony eats me.

I hate it because I used to be that way - Hard. Core.

When I was a teenager and during college, I thrived on manipulation. I was totally unaware that I was doing it, though. I had no idea. But others did. I burned some bridges with a few friends and a boyfriend. I was drawn to drama, drawn to other manipulators, and I don't exactly know when I started to stop - I think I slowly started to mature out of it around the time my husband and I were dating, and it's pretty much gone (I think I can safely say that) now. And other than everyday neuroses, I am in a pretty healthy mental state these days.

Having children certainly drove it out of me - I do not want a single ounce of drama in my life, because I deal with it all day long. Hell - pouring a cup of milk into the wrong glass can instigate a meltdown on any given day, so the last thing I want to deal with is an adult trying to suck me into a web of whine.

But as a teenager, I struggled with depression and self-esteem. Chicken/egg - was it because I was manipulating, or was that a side effect? I really don't know. But I do know that manipulators are hurting, substantially.

The Velociraptor of Irony eats me again.

Wait - so the bleeding heart-er who seems to excuse criminals for every reason under the sun can't forgive a manipulator? How does that work, exactly?

I don't know. Self-preservation? My cup is just full. "I just can't" - Madeleine Scott. And it isn't that I couldn't forgive one - they don't ask for forgiveness. They don't think they need to because they've won. They're the victim, remember? And maybe they are, but not the way they think they are.

So, anyway. I really don't think Queen Bees intend to be mean, they're just manipulators. And I don't think they mean to be manipulators, they're just hurting somewhere and stuck in a cycle of not-great mental health.


Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Slice of Humble Pie

A little over a year ago, I did a nice 50-mile ride with my friend Rob on our San Diego vacation. We did two Cat 3 climbs and I really enjoyed it - started out very overcast and cleared up as we made our descent to Fiesta Island for a lap where the sport of triathlon was born.

This year, things were very different. It's unseasonably hot - high 90's, relentless sun, and very dry. Our plan - lots of climbing, including one of San Diego's more challenging climbs called "The Purple Monster."

Naturally, I slept horribly Thursday night after our long day of travel, and - in hindsight - not enough to eat or drink. 

Rob and I met at our hotel around 8:00AM, and as we climbed Nimitz Boulevard to leave Point Loma, I could tell it was going to be a sufferfest for me. Not that the climb was hard, but the heat and dry air were already making my sinuses hate me.

Part of the ride goes through Mission Valley, and that's when I realized the bike was not shifting well. Everything was Ultegra components and should shift instantly. It wasn't. Frown face. While I was thankful I was only having difficulty shifting into harder gears (Lawd knows I'm gonna need the easy ones!), it was really aggravating and annoying to not have the bike respond. 

We stopped for water early on because we were going through it fairly quickly. Plus, next up was Mission Gorge - and I knew what was coming. We refilled waters and I ate a handful of sunflower seeds in addition to the waffle I had eaten  a bit earlier. Then it was time to climb.

I noticed right away everything was harder than it was last year. Now, I haven't been riding as often as I was a year ago (I was doing 60+ mile rides every weekend in preparation for Beach 2 Battleship full as the relay rider), but come on! I was very frustrated at how difficult the climb felt. I was in the easiest gear, but pedaling so slowly. What the heck?

Finally we reached the entrance to the Mission Gorge Trails, where we cut through to avoid the rest of Mission Gorge. It was a lovely descent and easy climb through beautiful mountain and desert scenery. We could even see hikers at the top of one of the mountains. Next up: CA-52.

This climb is a little longer than Mission Gorge, and you can see it all coming.  That's pretty intimidating. I glanced down at my watch a lot because I was frustrated with my performance again. 7mph. The sun was just brutal. My stomach starting cramping up, weird cramps like someone was squeezing my intestines. I kept grinding up the long climb and finally reached the top, where Rob had waited for me. I took a second to take some salt, drink and shove a bit of a waffle in my mouth.

I didn't have a good feeling as we descended and started to make our way toward Scripps Ranch. Plus the shifters were acting up and I really needed them for this section. Wasn't helping my mental state.

We made a pit stop where I was able to get ice water and try to get my stomach settled. I bought a sweetened green tea, thinking I needed sugar - a few swigs down, that was NOT what I needed. Finally, after a few minutes, AND after seeing this "sign" (note the price)

I knew I needed to keep going. 

Riding through Scripps Ranch was nice, I forgot how many trees are in that area. I started to feel a bit better until we started the climb to Scripps Poway Parkway on Pomerado Rd. My heart rate was getting pretty high. I was nauseous. I started thinking, I think I can do this. I can climb it. Rob had assured me his fiancĂ© (now wife!!) could pick us up along the way if it became too much. We made a right turn onto Scripps Poway Parkway and ... boom. 

The bonk. I could barely pedal anymore. I told Rob I was done and we climbed up a bit to a shopping plaza to sit and wait. Well, I sort of climbed. I could smell the tires on the bike, it was so hot. My butt was on fire - not the sitz bones, but the butt cheek where the sun was hitting it. I got off the bike twice and walked. Decided walking felt more awful than riding and got back on. I did this two times before finally riding the rest of the way.

Donna, Rob's wife, graciously picked us up and we dropped her off for her salon appointment, then Rob took me to the bike shop where I mentioned the rear dĂ©railleur needed to be adjusted. As they removed my saddle and pedals, I noticed the cassette for the first time. 

The set-up on the bike was more of a racing configuration and not great (for a person like me) to attempt mountain climbs (as opposed to rollers back home). My personal bike has a compact crank and generous cassette - great for climbing. The bike I rented last year was a Giant that has the same configuration as my bike.

Well. That explained some things!

It was really nice to spend time with Rob and to ride, but the weather was brutal. Relentless. If I rode that configuration and in that weather on a regular basis, I have a feeling I would either quickly become a MUCH stronger athlete or drop dead immediately. 

Anyway - here's a comparison.

2300 feet of climbing at the Raleigh IM70.3 course. Where I averaged 15.8mph, never stopped and then ran(ish) a half marathon after it.

And 2300 feet of climbing over 40 miles in San Diego, where I averaged 13.4 mph and walked up parts of the last hill. And did not run anywhere, at all, after!

I don't really have super confidence about my abilities. I am not cocky. But this ride also handed me a slap of reality that the following is important:

1.) Adequate sleep
2.) Hydrating properly the days prior to a ride
3.) Fueling properly the day before a difficult ride
4.) Figuring out nutrition and sticking to the plan. No. Matter. What.
5.) Understanding that going from a bike with a compact crank and climbing cassette (that you have been riding in an aero posiition) to a road bike configuration with a larger crank and smaller cassette is going to take some adjusting. Maybe not even rent that bike - but find one that has a configuration you're used to, so you can enjoy the ride.

Last - I WILL get you some day, Purple Monster.
     This is a screen capture of the QOM's attack on a segment of the Purple Monster - note the grade during the highlighted part!

You may have won Friday, Southern California - but I WILL have the last word. Not the last laugh - because I have nothing but respect for these hills and the people who climb them.