Category Archives: Fail

My Cycling FAIL: Falling, F-bombs, & Finding Balance

I started going to cycle classes at the Y a few years ago. I even have the fancy cycling shoes that clip into the pedals. This, of course, makes me a cycling expert.

Sadly, my expertise ends at the part where you clip in and ride an actual road bike in the actual world. You see, on the stationary bikes at the Y, you don’t have to worry about things like terrain, traffic, or falling over. You just clip in and ride. (Well, I guess technically you COULD fall off one of those, but that may indicate a drinking problem more than a bike problem. I digress.)

Unlike a stationary bike, when clipped into the pedals of an actual road bike in the actual world, people can totally fall over. How, you ask? Well, imagine coming to a stop on your bike and being unable to put a foot down on the ground because they’re BOTH ATTACHED TO YOUR PEDALS. That is LITERALLY the scenario when you’re clipped in on a bike. So, if you don’t UNCLIP soon enough, you’re screwed. I’ve heard these stories time and again, and while other people seem to think it’s hilarious, I am terrified of falling over.  (I am also terrified of being run off the road by a car, running into a ditch, and flying over the handlebars. But mostly just falling over sideways at a stop sign.)

My husband, Matt, has wanted me to ride with him for awhile now, and when a friend generously hands down her road bike to me, I can’t avoid the challenge any longer.  Matt and I go to the bike shop to buy a helmet, and I mention my fear of falling to the expert-cyclist-employee. He says, “Everybody falls. At some point, you’re going to get distracted, forget to unclip, and fall over. Stop worrying about how to NOT FALL, and start making sure you know how to FALL WELL.”

Hm. Okay, I’m listening. Teach me your ways, cycling yoda.

“For example,” he says, “it’s best to not stick your arm out to catch yourself at all. But that’s not realistic because it’s such a natural impulse to try and break your fall. So, just be sure you don’t have your arm locked straight out when you’re going down. Instead, keep your arm bent a little as you land. It’s easier to deal with a broken collarbone than a broken wrist.”

Mayday. What!? My face clearly reveals my horror because he immediately exclaims, “Oh, that probably sounded terrible. You’ll be fine! Just don’t lock your arm out! You’ll be great!”

Thanks.

Not long after, we’re in our driveway, ready to roll. I’m trembling, but I am going to get on this bike dammit, and hopefully wherever I fall, it won’t involve broken bones. Or oncoming traffic. I clip in my right foot. “Now what?” I say to Matt.

“It’s just like the bike at the Y. Just do what you do there.”

Spoiler alert: it is NOT just like the bike at the Y.

While the scrapes and bruises have healed (my pride, not so much), I’m still chewing on 3 lessons from that first ride. Okay, and still laughing too.

With my right foot clipped in, I lift my left foot (completely ignoring all rules of balance and motion BECAUSE THOSE DON’T APPLY ON THE STATIONARY BIKES AT THE YMCA) and proceed to fall over onto my right side. Like, immediately. It’s the weirdest sensation. I’m falling and there’s literally nothing I can do to make it stop. (Except throw out my arm to catch my fall BUT NOT ALL THE WAY BECAUSE OMG PLEASE DON’T LET ME BREAK ANYTHING.)

I do not break anything. But there is blood. And I cry.

I proceed to say things like, “I can’t do this. This is so dumb. I’m not doing this.” I go inside and wash off the blood. I’m a little bit hurt and a lot embarrassed. I don’t really know why I feel embarrassed. It was only in front of my husband, and I had already been told by literally every person I know who has ever clipped into a road bike: EVERYONE FALLS. Yet, it feels like the most stupid failure on my part.

Matt says, “Come on, babe. You really need to get back on the bike.”

“Um. No. I can’t do this. I knew that would happen. I’m not doing this.”

“Look, I’m going to talk to you like a coach. Stop crying about this and get back on the bike. You are totally overthinking it. You are completely capable of doing this.”

I go back out to the garage and stand by the bike. I stare at it. I am paralyzed with fear and humiliation. Finally, Matt calmly says, “Just get on the f$@*% bike.”

And I do. I straddle the bike and clip in my right foot. But, before I lift my left foot (and before we repeat our last mistake), Matt clarifies, “So, this is NOT like riding the bike at the Y. This is completely different. You have to be MOVING FORWARD to have balance. Be sure you have forward momentum before you clip in your other foot.”

I take a deep breath. Well, maybe six deep breaths. And I move forward. I feel the momentum under me and add my left foot. And I ride. When I’m actually moving forward, both legs engaged, it’s incredible. I love a lot of it, and I white-knuckle my handlebars for the rest. I don’t fall anymore that day, which feels like a small miracle.

Several days later, the scrapes and bruises have healed, but I’m still chewing on three valuable lessons from that day:

1. You’re going to fall. Learn to fall well.

We can waste a lot of time and energy worrying about falling or failing or not measuring up. As a recovering perfectionist, I have spent much of my life trying to avoid failure. Or trying to measure up to something – everything – anything. The problem is, failure is inevitable if you’re really DOING anything. If you’re not EVER failing, what are you really even doing? Rather than trying to avoid failure, why not invest that energy into failing, or falling, well? Sometimes the more we try to self-protect, the more we end up injuring ourselves. Sure, there will be some self-protection — but don’t stiff-arm the world in an attempt to break your fall.

2. Get back on the f$@*% bike.

Just because you fell doesn’t mean you can’t ride a bike. It just means you fell. It just means it takes practice. Just because something requires effort doesn’t mean you’re not any good at it, or that you’ll NEVER BE any good at it — or that you aren’t ALREADY good at it. You just FELL! Yes, it hurt. Yes, it felt humiliating. Feel that. Cry for a minute if you want to. Wash the gravel out of your skin. And then get back on the f$@*% bike.

3. You have to move forward to find balance.

“Finding balance” sounds like quiet zen, humming and meditating. Sometimes I try that. Well, maybe not the humming. But I do try to quiet the noise, shrug off the demands, and find some peace. Some balance. And that was my mindset when I first tried the bike. It went like this: clip one foot in, deep breath, quietly gather all my courage. And promptly fall over. But the problem wasn’t my “quiet zen.” The problem was, I wasn’t moving forward. The same applies in my life: yes, I need space to rest, clear my head, and find some balance in my life. But, too much rest and head-clearing, and I get all out of whack. Take a moment to steady yourself, find your bearings, and then MOVE FORWARD.

In what ways are you afraid to fall?

Or is there an area where you’ve already fallen, and you’ve been afraid to get back up and try again? What are you waiting for?

How about finding that elusive “balance?” In what ways can you move forward to find the balance you desire?

Throwback Thursday: Who needs a laugh?

You guys. I’m running the Charlotte Half Marathon this Saturday, and all I can really say is that I’ve actually been training, so THANK HEAVENS this won’t be a repeat of THAT ONE YEAR. Do you remember? No? Oh good, this will be fun. Happy Throwback Thursday, friends. I present to you: my dumbest race ever.

Originally published on March 10, 2014.

I did something really stupid.If you’re looking for how to run your BEST RACE EVER - this is totally NOT IT. (But if you want to feel better about yourself - or just need a really good laugh - you want to read this right now.)

I ran a half marathon.

For which I had not trained.

I don’t mean I just didn’t get in any tempo runs or mile repeats or whatever. I mean my longest “long run” was 5 miles. Also, my average weekly mileage was 5 miles. So basically I’d been going for a 5-mile run once a week for the past 8 weeks. That means this half marathon was 13.1 miles of Pure Crazy, people.

Back when I registered, the plan had been to give myself something to train for and set myself up to feel like complete awesomeness on my 35th birthday.

As described above, that didn’t really pan out, but my competitive nature still kicked in and said, “Do it. You can gut this out. Get out there. This thing CAN’T HOLD YOU DOWN. YOU’RE ARUNNERDAMMIT.”

That kind of self-talk can only lead to good things, right?

Fast forward to race morning. My alarm goes off. I don’t remember why my alarm is going off so early on a Saturday morning. I hit snooze, drowsily hoping I’ll know what’s going on when it goes off again.

Alarm goes off again. I bolt upright in bed, remembering: RACE. This thought is not met with joy.

Stumbling into the bathroom, I find a note from my husband written in shaving cream across the bathroom mirror. “Good luck. Love u.” My first thought is, “Seriously, I JUST cleaned that damn mirror. I am not cleaning that up.” Then I decide it was thoughtful and I’m a jerk.

I go through an abbreviated version of my race-morning routine. The abbreviated version because, typically, hitting snooze is not included in the routine and I’m suddenly panicked because I don’t know how to get to where I need to park uptown and why did I hit snooze I NEED THOSE NINE MINUTES BAAAAACK.

I grab my race bib & a cup of coffee, and run out the door.

I get three minutes away from my house and realize I’m starving and about to run a half marathon on a glass of water and a cup of coffee.

So, naturally, I go through the McDonald’s Drive Thru. Yes, really.

I eat a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese. ON MY WAY TO THE RACE. Like a boss.

My ninja-like navigation skillz lead me successfully around the correct parking garage three times and then into a different parking garage and then straight to the (3/4-mile-long) line of women waiting to use the bathroom.

Next stop: the starting line. This race doesn’t have designated pacing groups, and the half-marathon start is combined with the 5K start. So determining similarly-paced runners can be tricky. Left to my own devices, I resort to a tried and true method: look at people and make judgements about their fitness level based on their appearance.

The man with the teeny shorts, spindly legs, and Garmin the size of his head?
Too fast for me.

The woman in the compression socks and double braids with ice in her veins?
Too fast for me.

I wisely choose to start near the big man wearing jeans.

The gun goes off. Eleven minutes later, I cross the starting line.

The next 5 miles are quite delightful. Of course they are. I run 5 miles every week.

Miles 6, 7, & 8 are less delightful, but I’m still moving, spurred along by the cheers and homemade signs of my fans the people who know the people around me.

SIDE NOTE: In the “Homemade Signs That Made Me Smile Through the Pain” Contest, an adorable pair of little boys win 1st place with:
HURRY MOMMY! DAD DIDN’T FEED US.

Second place goes to:
SMILE IF YOU’RE NOT WEARING UNDERWEAR
(Although I actually am wearing underwear, so I quickly turn my smile into a frown for the sake of accuracy.)

Third place belongs to:
RUN YOUR BUTT OFF!!! Oh wait, you don’t have one.

And honorable mention goes to:
GOOD JOB YOU’RE BEATING ALL THE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU

The reason the last one only receives an honorable mention is I can only smile for a moment before I’m paranoid that THERE IS NO ONE BEHIND ME. I am in last place, aren’t I?

But I reach mile 9, and something wonderful happens. My legs go numb.

I run the next mile or so in a zombie-like state, thinking, “Just get to 10 before you walk.”

I pass the 10-mile mark, the numbness fades, and the pain rolls in with a vengeance. My competitive side suddenly barks, “Suck it up! You DON’T WALK IN A RACE!”

My realistic side says, “Excuse me. You are not, in fact, racing. You had a Bacon, Egg, & Cheese for breakfast, and you are shuffling. You can walk faster than you are currently running.”

I walk.

Fellow competitors shuffle past (I wasn’t in last place!), and through miles 10-12, I intersperse 3-4 walk breaks amid my shuffle-running.

With one (POINT ONE) mile to go, I find new strength. (Due in small part to my strong desire for the whole thing to be over already, and in large part to the woman on the sidewalk holding the neon green sign declaring, “YOU CAN.”)

I make the last turn, and the final quarter mile lies before me. At that very moment, heaven opens and the angels start singing “Can’t Hold Us.” Okay, maybe it’s Macklemore on my playlist, but whatevs. It’s a gift from the good Lord, and I receive it.

I truck it across the finish line like the man in jeans is chasing me. (Kind of fast, but not really.) Before I even know what has happened, I’m holding a finisher’s medal and a bottle of PowerAde.

I wish I had a huge spiritual epiphany to share about this experience. But sometimes the only epiphany He gives me is, “It’s really stupid to not train for a half marathon and then run it anyway. But good job. Kind of.”

Well, amen to that. Here’s to learning lessons the hard way. And Advil. Lots and lots of Advil.

Throwback Thursday: Mom Fail

Last week I volunteered in my son’s class for the first time this year. I had signed up to lead the class for the afternoon during a teacher planning day, and I was really excited to get in there. That is a lie. I was terrified. You guys, Owen is in third grade. Third graders are so scary. I mean, Kindergarteners? They look at you like you’re a magical fairy and they are just so happy to be at school and you basically just play with them. But third graders? I kept envisioning a total uprising and the teacher returning to find me duct taped to a chair. I actually asked my son to pray for me the night before because I was so nervous.

Annnnyway, the day ended up going so well that I don’t even have any funny stories to tell. Somehow that third grade class is full of little angels, God bless them every one.

As I drove away from school that day, I couldn’t help remembering another time I helped at school. It went a bit differently. I mean, it ended with me straight lying to the teacher, if that tells you anything. Let’s relive it together, shall we?

Originally published November 6, 2014.

Need a self-esteem boost? Allow me to help. I have lots of mom fails. But this time? I lied to my kid’s teacher. And you won’t believe why. (I still can’t.)

Looking for some mom humor? How about a self-esteem boost? Always here to help you feel better about your parenting skillz with a dose of funny and a dollop of fail. This time? YOU GUYS. I lied to my kid's teacher. And you won't believe why. (I still can't.)Every other week or so, I go to Owen’s school to volunteer. Covering lunch duty is one way I help, and my first time ended in certainly one of my most shameful mom fails ever.

But let me start at the beginning.

Mrs. H. arrives at the lunchroom with the class of first graders, and I don’t take even a moment to ask for instructions. I quickly shoo her away to go enjoy her lunch in well-deserved peace.

And guess what I find out?

I AM AWESOME AT LUNCH DUTY. That’s what.

The entire 25 minutes is basically one part “shh,” one part “face forward please,” and approximately seventy-three parts “yes I will open your ketchup/mayo/gogurt/yogurt/pudding.”

The truly impressive part (besides how Heinz seals up ketchup packets like Fort Knox) is how well this school has trained the kids and their “lunchtime voices.” Every few minutes, quiet instrumental music plays. And when the music plays, the talking STOPS.

It’s magic, I tell you.

But when the music is NOT playing, the kids talk in crazy screeching excitable quiet voices. At one point, I’m wrestling a pudding cup when the rumble of a million little voices becomes a theatrical  chorus, hushed but rising in unison: “Baaaaa sowenyaaaa…!”

Um, cue Twilight Zone. I look up from the damn pudding, in utter confusion. What is happening!?

Oh wait. I notice a familiar instrumental score amid the Impromptu Cafeteria Vocal Choir. It’s the Lion King song.

Of course it is.

I regain my composure just as Owen’s teacher returns to pick up the class. Since I’ve been utterly winging it skillfully improvising for the past 25 minutes, I decide to quickly clarify a couple class policies.

It goes like this (me, with big, reassuring smile): “Hi! The kids did great. Quick question – what’s the bathroom policy during lunch?”

Mrs. H’s face says, “The policy is no.” Her words say (with a knowing grin), “How many asked to go?”

Me: “Um. 6.” (quickly waving it off, no big deal) “But only one at a time, of course.”

BUT THAT IS A LIE. THERE WERE 8.

Maybe 9.

And I have NO IDEA if they went together or one at a time and honestly I don’t even know if they all came back because KETCHUP PACKETS, PEOPLE.

(They did.)

(BUT I LIED.)

(Hi, Mrs. H!)

So, not only am I decidedly NOT awesome at lunch duty, I am also not super awesome at. um. TELLING THE TRUTH.