As summer is here, I’ve been cleaning out closets and going through junk drawers and trying to de-clutter my life.  Today I stumbled upon an old flash drive.  How old?  Well, it’s a 64 MB and it’s seemingly huge compared to the 8 Gig one I use now.  Haha, 64 MB… it tickles me.  So anyway, I originally threw it out.  Obviously if I haven’t used it in a million years, I likely don’t need it.  (This is an excellent mentality for when you’re trying to get rid of accumulated junk.  However, it’s not always the best mentality if you can’t see what’s inside.)  After about 15 seconds I dug it out of the garbage and decided to take a look… and boy I’m glad I did.

There are photographs on it from 2001-2002.  Photographs I don’t have anywhere else thanks to my old computer dying on me rather abruptly (and you know, it costs money to get crap off of there and back in the day I didn’t have that kind of extra cash).  Along with photographs of my niece as a baby and my grandmother whom I love dearly and who passed away 7 years ago there were a couple of pictures of my trip to Death Valley, California.

I don’t know if you know this about me but I am not a well-traveled girl.  In fact, I’ve only ever really been on a few trips and the Death Valley trip, for me, was pretty epic.  I haven’t been the most athletic girl.  Oh sure, I tried my hand at some things but usually I failed miserably and I was also always over weight.  So, when my friend Sabrina, a diabetic, told me she was going to do this 100 mile bike ride in Death Valley and raise money for diabetes… it still sort of shocks me to this day that my first words were “Do you have anyone doing it with you?”  When she said no, I told her to count me in.

Now, to make this seem much less phenomenal, I  must tell you I always enjoyed riding my bike in high school and so I never really associated bike riding with the horribleness I attributed to the rest of the exercise realm.  Then again, I hadn’t biked at all in college and so signing up for this my first year out of college was a bit dumb…. but never fear!  My team coach (I was part of team Madison, WI) gave me a training program and it actually worked really well.

I hit Death Valley as an overweight girl…. but an overweight girl ready to tackle the ride…. and so I did.  There are very few surviving photos of this event and so when I found these, I squealed with delight and I thought I’d share them with you.

Here I am the night before the event.  Notice my super cool jersey?  It’s actually a 4x.  I ordered an XL and a guy on my team (a big guy, obviously) ordered a 4X.  When we got the jerseys he was incredibly disgusted… want to know the difference between my XL and his 4X?  The elastic at the bottom of his was thicker.  That’s it…. the jersey wasn’t any larger.  He gave me his since I liked the thicker elastic so much (it felt more secure).

This is a place called Badwater.  It’s something like the lowest point in North America (trust me, that doesn’t mean this was all downhill, it was up and down and up and down and up and down and then 7 miles of UP).  The white stuff is the salt deposits left behind by the water.  Everyone took photographs by the sign.  Notice the use of a sweatshirt by the photographer?  Yeah, Biology geek than I am I was so excited to go to the DESERT.  Then, the day of the ride it rains and it’s freezing cold.  Hot and dry my ass.

I liked the shot of the road here.  I can even tell you this was during the second 15 mile stretch because of the terrain.  This was the only portion which was flat.  I loved how forlorn it looked (and notice how I must be incredibly behind the pack?  then again, I am stopping to take photos haha).  I may have been behind the pack but when the pack leaders started coming back they were all so encouraging, telling me I was doing great and to keep up the good work (yes, Sabrina and I stayed together so I wasn’t completely alone).  I still have that bike.  It’s got a few more gadgets on it these days but it’s a really good bike and I bought it specifically for the event.  I do still get bike envy of anyone who has a Trek but my Raleigh suits me just fine.

And here I am, age 24.  I’ve trained for this ride and so I’m likely in the best shape of my life there -up until that point anyway, I’m in much better shape now.  I’m probably about 165-175 lbs.  This is one of very few full-length shots of me ever in my life.  When I say how differently my legs are shaped now, this is what I”m talking about.  I’m about the same weight now and my legs do not look this way anymore.  My thighs are a bit sleeker, my knees actually taper and in general I believe I carry less fat on them…. I swear it’s due to the running.  Seriously.

Why am I celebrating in this photo?  It’s not because I’m done.  This photo was taken during the second 15 miles but I just had this huge sense of accomplishment.  I knew I was in the middle of doing something uncharacteristic of me and it felt great.  Sure I wasn’t competing for time and sure it nearly killed me but there I am… not letting fear dictate my life and trying not to feel self conscious in public because of those bike shorts.  Heh.

When is the first time you did something epic?