Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Second ride

TL;DR I had a great bike ride this morning and want to write ALL about it.

My second bike ride was a resounding success, though my wrists, arms, and back may vehemently disagree by tomorrow. I set my alarm to get up early but was still exhausted after yesterday's run + swim brick workout. I slept a little later and resolved to still ride and just go into work late, knowing the exercise would pay off in mood enhancement and work focus through the day.

I went out to White Rock Lake, known as one of the premier recreation areas in Dallas, and did my first loop around the lake, which is a big thing. It's 9 miles all the way around, and I never would have believed that my first full loop wouldn't be on foot, considering how long I've been running.

I struggle with getting my second foot into the toe cage when I start, but I'm getting more comfortable with the slow, rolling start I need to wriggle in there. I didn't falter on the challenging narrow switchbacks to get up a steep hill. After I stopped for a selfie, I did snag my shorts on the seat when I pedaled forward and slid my bottom back onto the seat. Good thing I wear high-waisted runderwear to show off when my outer layer slips. (Like that time my silver hot pants slipped off my bum entirely in a water tank at an obstacle race and I wasn’t all that bothered because my black boxer briefs cover more than the shorts in the first place.) It was hilariously awkward, and I'm glad no one was in sight to see it.

The weather was GORGEOUS, and I'm so glad I undertook the challenge of completing the loop and followed through. I feel great! I maintained an average 11 mph speed for 50 minutes for a total of 9.3 miles. I'd call the exertion comfortably difficult and do believe I can get through 12.6 miles after a 300-m swim within a 1-hour goal window (for the ride only) at my sprint tri this Sunday! (To clarify, there are no specific cutoffs at this event other than the whole course closing after 3.5 hours, which is more than enough for me.)
I feel a bit self-conscious and awkward about bringing my bicycle into the office since I'm not about to leave it in the parking garage, but coworkers have been very supportive and positive, asking eager questions about my training when we squeeze into the elevator together.

I was really nervous about investing so much money and effort in a bike when I still don't know whether my knees will take to this exercise for any sort of long-distance training. In my early 20s, I struggled with crooked knee caps and could hardly stand to ride with my knees click-cracking on every rotation, but they've been quiet and pain-free so far on this go-round. *knock on wood*

Still nervous but definitely beginning to enjoy this.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My first bike ride

I find it interesting that, according to all the reading I’ve done on the sport, most triathletes name the run or swim portion as their weakest link, whereas bicycling is my weakest by far. I’m not great at swimming but do it fairly regularly and survived my first open water swim, which was GRUELING, last October. I read books and watch videos and work on my form in every lap.

Of course you know I run a lot. I picked up running with the Hash House Harriers of South Korea in 2010 and have run scores of races since then, including three half marathons, a 15-mile Spartan Beast, and two 10k trail races over soul-crushing, lung-scorching hills. I have 40 medals hanging on my wall—one of which is second-place for my age group in a 5k last year—and a trophy on my office desk for placing third in a 10k last May. An entire wall in my bedroom is covered in race t-shirts and race-bib collages, and not every race I’ve run gave out swag at all.
Biking is kind of hard and scary, though.

I didn’t learn to ride without training wheels until I was 12 and wasn’t allowed to ride alone until I was 15 or 16, so I pretty much never rode. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I ever braved city streets, and I was in a bind without a working car to get to work, choosing instead to huff and puff slowly through town on a mountain bike for a few weeks, even awkwardly falling once because drivers are terrible. Luckily, I guess, it really only hurt my pride.

And then I didn’t ride for six years until I got my first road bike last week.

Sunday I managed to go out for my first extended ride on my new bicycle, having only taken it around the block once when I picked it up. I’m a complete novice to road bicycles entirely, which made me SUPER nervous, anxious, and all-around terrified of falling and injury.
I started in my neighborhood and then braved a few medium-busy roads, which were not busy on a Sunday afternoon, and I rode confidently in the center of the left lane so no one would even have the chance to try to pass by in the same lane. I flew down a gentle hill without swearing and almost enjoyed the exhilaration of it before turning up a new street and plodding steadily uphill. I took a short break at the top to catch my breath since I’d not brought water for what was intended to be a short ride.

Only one asshole driver cut me off, but I was paying close attention and being cautious enough to cuss at her loudly and continue unhurt. Seriously, she could not possibly have failed to see me riding in the center of the lane in a screaming neon green t-shirt and hot pink helmet, fucking jerk.

I rode 5 miles in 30 minutes and am hoping that adrenaline and greater confidence will push me a bit faster at next Sunday's sprint triathlon so I can complete the 12.6-mile bike portion in close to an hour. The weather was glorious, my legs felt strong, and I think I actually enjoyed myself despite the constant high-anxiety state. Also, padded bike shorts are truly divine.

I don’t see myself excelling in the sport most likely to result in death and dismemberment, but the most expensive hurdle has been cleared, and at least I believe now that I can finish a triathlon.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

DFW Vagina Monologues 2015

This piece was originally written March 12 for the DFW Vagina Monologues blog.

After a whirlwind 2015 season—twice-a-week rehearsals, a bake sale, comedy show fundraiser, burlesque show, craft nights, and more—the DFW Vagina Monologues, led by director Cyran Harrington, kicked off their opening performance on the evening of March 6 at their new venue, The Kitchen Dog Theater.

They had one brief walk-through together to finalize lighting and blocking with stage manager Barbara Grimes and sound-man Johnny Ballinger just an hour before the show, but you wouldn’t know it to see their performances. Last year the cast had the aid of microphones on stage and this year learned new skills for warming up and projecting their voices in the black box theater with the aid of director AND performer Natalia Borja. (See their wacky warm-ups here on Facebook:

The players opened to a full house Friday night, marking amazing growth compared to last year’s show. Audiences loved every minute, laughing and crying in turn at each hilarious and heartfelt piece. They sold out the next night, too. The monologues’ topics ranged from humorous diatribes about “Hair,” tampons, and first periods to pieces covering international war crimes and closer-to-home domestic violence; they were touching, moving, triggering, heartbreaking . . . and enlightening.

The Monologues exist to raise awareness and put an end to global sex- and gender-based violence. The DFW crew raised $1705 this year for their local beneficiary, Hope’s Door of Plano, which runs a domestic violence shelter and provides intervention and education programs to the community.

But wait—there’s more! You don’t have to wait til 2016 to pitch in to help. The DFW group is now selling t-shirts, mugs, and hoodies online to raise additional money for Hope’s Door. You can check out the swag online at The gear features the DFW Vagina Monologues’ unique logo by designer Isabel Morales and will only be available for 24 days. After that, it’s gone.

We won’t stop until the violence stops.

#rise4revolution #DFWvaginamonologues

Friday, March 20, 2015

Selfies for me, for you, for everybody!

This piece was originally written for Facebook and cross-posted on the DFW Vagina Monologues Weebly website blog.

I like selfies. A lot.

My selfies are for me. I take them because I feel pretty, or I don't, or I am or am not; because it's fun, because there is no shame in taking pleasure in frivolity, and because it helps me make a memory whereas my brain otherwise typically fails at retaining such trivial things. Because I'm awesome and do incredible things, because I'm depressed and insecure in spite of this because my brain is terrible. Sometimes I retouch them to hide blemishes and sometimes I don't. #Flawless

I don't share them to solicit compliments, attraction, or validation any more than I bathe, brush my teeth, dress myself, or color my face, hair, and nails to do so.

“Assuming that a woman is fretting over a man when she gets dressed in the morning is condescending at best, dangerously sexist at worst. And it ascribes a huge part of her autonomy to the passing interest of an imaginary man that she likely doesn’t care about in the least.” (Source)

I share them because I'm happy, because I trust you, because I'm unhappy, because I'm miserable and upset, because I'm real, because I want to have nothing to hide, because I want to challenge the socially acceptable ways of using social media, because I want others to feel free to enjoy themselves and taking selfies.

Sitting here writing this, I'm delighted to see that 7 out of 9 of my friends' profile photos on the left of my Facebook home page are pretty, happy, silly, fierce, skeptical, adorable, handsome, bad-ass selfies.

Other writers have explained how selfies are radical acts of self-love in a society that condemns vanity in women and rewards such confidence in men. “We need to start teaching girls that confidence is not a sign of vanity, but rather a marker of healthy self-perception and positive thinking.”

Selfies can be a blatant middle finger to the patriarchy by wrenching control from the male gaze and focusing that gaze by our consent as we choose and on our own terms. Selfies have been around for centuries and are an ancient art form. Whinging about the so-called narcissism of our generation is unoriginal and trite, and when speaking of selfies, it’s further proof of entrenched sexism, specifically misogyny.

Women are told to hide themselves constantly, and that to actually like themselves and the way they look is somehow wrong. They’re told that they’re never good enough, that any flaw is unacceptable. Narcissism? Fuck off, these girls are showing that, somehow, through all the bullshit and the pressure to hate themselves, they’ve managed to grow their self-esteem enough to share their faces with the world. They’re taking a risk and putting themselves out there. They’re expressing themselves. Sharing themselves. They’re making a statement, which is simply “I’m good enough to be seen.” (Source)

And, frankly, we enjoy doing things to piss off stodgy jerks with an over-inflated sense of self importance nearly as much as for our own pleasure.

Some people juggle geese.

Moniqa Paullet, 2014-15 performer of “My Short Skirt” in the DFW Vagina Monologues, is an editor, triathlete, fire spinner, intersectional feminist and size acceptance activist. You can follow her #fitasfuckfeminist selfies on Instagram @FieryMon.