Shifting Gears

 

Cycling has been a recreational passion of mine since I was a child. I vividly remember the day I got my training wheels off and I biked as fast as my little legs would peddle with a great sense of freedom! This past July, Nicole from the Fairfax County Department of Transportation reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in serving my community as a Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador. I instantly said yes! … and then um, could you please tell me what I just agreed to? 😉 She explained to me that the Bicycle Ambassador position is for one year and entails:

  • teaching and promoting cycling safety to Fairfax County residents in a fun way
  • giving presentations upon request on a variety of bike topics (ex. Bike to Work Day) at local businesses and organizations
  • handing out materials and assisting residents with basic bike maintenance issues if needed at local events

Things quickly got rolling! I enthusiastically shifted gears into my new position and became certified in First Aid. In August, I took part in a fun photo shoot in which the images will be used in various bike safety print collateral and on the coming soon website bikefairfax bikesafe.bikesmart. On September 20, I completed the required Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador Program Orientation course with two other representatives. They gave us official ambassador T-shirts donated by Ben & Jerry’s that we must wear to all county activities we work.

In October, I attended my first local outreach event at the Providence Community Center in Vienna. I had a great time handing out the informative and detailed Fairfax County Bike Maps, safety literature and bike lights. The kids there were open to learning and very excited about riding the trails with their parents. My next appearance will be on December 4 at an outreach event in Tysons. I cannot wait to share my bicycle safety knowledge and spread the word about current resources available to bike riders and the awesome new county bike services on the horizon!

I just found out that one of the photos they took of me made the cover of the Fairfax County Bicycle outreach brochure! It’s been a great experience serving as a Fairfax County Bicycle Ambassador and promoting the safety of a sport that has nostalgic meaning to me.

Until their new website is ready, check out Fairfax County’s current bicycle resources web page.

Stairway to Heaven

2017 National Capital Region 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Oxon Hill, Maryland
110 Flights of Stairs
320 Climbers
*This is not a timed race event; it is a way for firefighters and the community to honor and remember the 343 FDNY firefighters who selflessly gave their lives. We were kindly given commemorative in memoriam coins for our participation. 

My friend Sarah knew of an annual event where participants pay tribute to FDNY firefighters by climbing the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. She asked if I wanted to participate with her and a few of our other friends. Of course! My friends Sarah, Leslie, MaryKate and I gathered outside the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center to check in. There were badges scattered on the table of FDNY firemen who died on 9/11 during rescue efforts. Each of us selected a badge, clipped it to our shirts and climbed in their honor. I proudly wore the badge of…

 Jeffrey Palazzo, Age 33, FDNY Firefighter, Member of Rescue 5


 

This has been an eventful summer! My “race” schedule is starting to wind down, but I hope you will continue to be inspired by my healthy adventures and try new things.

Independent Ride

 

13 Colonies Ride (part of the 50 States Ride, 62 miles), Washington, DC
15 Miles
700 Cyclists (Sold Out)

I heard about this fun annual cycling event last year, but before I could sign up, it had sold out. It’s hosted by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), which I am proud to be a member. This year, I noted the registration timing of the event and entered The 13 Colonies portion before it sold out! The 13 Colonies is a 15-mile hilly ride through every Ward of the District and on every avenue named for the original 13 Colonies. Roads are open to traffic as usual and there are a lot of stops along the city blocks, which is probably why it’s an event rather than a race. The lunch pit stop took place under a tented area next to Eastern Market, located in the heart of the historic Capitol Hill neighborhood. The lively marketplace has been around since 1873 and features a variety of produce, handmade crafts and more. A bonus, there are also many delicious mom and pop restaurants and coffee shops in the neighborhood. It’s one of my favorite non-touristy places to wander around in DC.

FUN FACT: Can you name all 13 Colonies?
(Answer: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia) They are significant because these Colonies coming together formed the United States.

Street Cred

Philly 10K
4,500 Runners (Sold Out)
Bib #1221

My friend Tracy from high school, aka #somekindarunner, and I made plans to meet up at a halfway point over the summer and do a fun race together. Enter the Philly 10K, a 6.2-mile loop through South Philly and Center City along 76 city blocks. This annual race has been going on since 2014, hosted by a group of proud Philadelphians to celebrate the history and diversity of the city. The race entry fee includes a finisher T-shirt and keepsake, but no medal. The robust crowd was very friendly and the race was well organized. Even if medals aren’t involved in a race, I still try to do my best and use the opportunity to compete against myself and put my training efforts into practice. My end time was 1:05 with an average pace of 10:28. After the race, we enjoyed the street festival, headed to the hotel to clean up, and then went for a delicious meal before parting ways on our mini road trips back home!

Take It to the Limit … One More Time

VA Momentum: SUPTri (first annual), Bridgewater, Virginia
25 Miles Total  
140 Participants
Bib #46

The day came for me to participate in the last of the three big races I set as my healthy comeback goals for 2017. My mind was in overdrive thinking about the bad weather, the nervousness of doing my first triathlon, and a sadness that the major fitness ambitions I had been working tirelessly to achieve were coming to an end. My friends Beth, Sarah and Leslie were with me to also compete in the triathlon. We arrived at the starting point, and got our bikes and other gear situated in the transition areas. Then, we put timing bracelets around our ankles (which looked like house arrest devices).

Beth, Sarah and Leslie had an earlier wave, so they got on their paddle boards and lined up at the starting point for the first leg of the race. The Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) portion was one mile on a section of the North River in Bridgewater. The flash floods the previous night caused the water level to be high. I did my best to focus on paddling my arms off, instead of being distracted by the intimidating rough waters.
SUP Completion Time: 16:22, 1 Mile

I hustled to the transition station to dry my feet, put on my socks and sneakers, and hop on my bike as fast as I could to start the cycling portion. This leg of the race was described as a “beautiful ride through the countryside”. The scenery was indeed beautiful, BUT the hills were arduous and the rain was relentless. I never biked for that many miles in that bad of weather before. It truly tested my spirit. At one point I saw a massive brown cow along a fence line and I swear it was giving me the side-eye. That’s when you know you’re tired! Finally, I saw a woman waving in the distance, and as I approached, she yelled: “good job, you’re in the homestretch!” I felt like crying tears of joy.
Bike Completion Time: 1:30:09, 20 Miles

I made my way to the transition station, threw my bike up on the rack and started running. It felt like an out-of-body experience; my legs were still in cycling mode. This final portion of the race was a technical run, described as a one-of-a-kind run on farm property with switchbacks on rough, hilly terrain. The rain finally stopped and I tried to take in my surroundings and appreciate the experience. I kept repeating to myself, you did it, it’s almost over! When the finish line was in sight I booked it with every last bit of energy I had left. As I reached the end the announcer said, “here comes Kimberly Evering from Fairfax, Virginia, way to go!” Then a girl placed a medal around my neck. Beth and Sarah were there waiting, and greeted me with big smiles and hugs. The best way to end a tough race is to have great friends by your side!
Technical Run Completion Time: 45:16, 4 Miles

My overall finish time for the race including transitions was 2:35:58. I am very proud of my time, given the country hills, pouring rain and fact that it was my first triathlon. There was a charming building on the property called Valley Pike Farm Market, where we could go inside to claim our free finisher beer. I opted for a huge hot chocolate instead. We hung out in the market for a little while decompressing and being goofy, before making the drive back home.

Remain fearless and never say never! My big planned races for the year may have come to an end, but I am not one to say no when my friends invite me to join them for a physical challenge. Sooooo I signed up for …

  • Philly 10K, Aug. 27 
  • 13 Colonies Ride, Sept. 9 
  • 2017 National Capital Region 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Sept. 16

I hope you will keep following my journey and that you are encouraged to live a fearless life, doing healthy things outside of your comfort zone!

OrthoVirginiaWestfields Dental

Get a Clue

My friend Jenny asked me in June if I had plans after work on July 17. I said, “no.” She said, “Good, we’re doing something, so mark your calendar.” I didn’t ask her what we were doing because I trust her and I knew that whatever it was, it would be fun. The mystery around the activity intensified as the date grew closer and she began sending me clues as teasers.

The first set of clues she sent me…
Pale as driven snow,
On a wintry morn.
Pure as a crisp new tee,
That has never been worn.
Springy like Santa’s bowlful of jelly,
Stretchy like Spanx that suck in his belly.

My Guess: Taffy Making

The second set of clues she sent me…
Deliciously smooth and cool to the touch,
You want to dive in and just swim through so much.
Unless it’s a hot toasty blanket of ooze,
You pull into strings of long luscious moos.

My Guess: Ice Cream Sundae Festival

The final set of clues she sent me…
It can stretch from your lips to the sky,
Where it makes up the moon or a big pizza pie.
Fit for Little Miss Muffett or Cinderella,
Whoever invented it is a pretty good fella.

My Guess: Bubble Blowing Festival

The evening of the event finally arrived. We met outside of the movie theater, where Jenny revealed that we were attending an Italian Cheesemaking Class. Reflecting back on the clues I thought ohhh cheese, it all makes sense now!

The class was hosted by Caputo Brothers Creamery, led by a husband, wife and their two sons. The event kicked off with a brief movie about Caputo Brothers Creamery. Next, Rynn, the matriarch, gave a dynamic presentation on the history of mozzarella cheese and explained that in the U.S. there is no such thing as authentic “mozzarella”. In 1996, the European Union granted it Protected Designation of Origin. Genuine mozzarella must be made using a traditional recipe that includes water buffalo milk from only the region just south of Rome to just south of Naples. What we eat in the U.S. is actually called fior di latte, which is made from cow’s milk. It is a semi-soft cheese made in the style of Italian mozzarella.

Caputo Brothers Creamery produces the country’s only fermented cheese curds that can be stretched into mozzarella-style cheeses. Rynn taught us how to cook, stretch and make one of the mozzarella-style cheeses using curds from their creamery. Her husband Dave sliced the glorious cheese mounds and their lil helpers, Giovanni (7) and Matteo (5), aka the Caputo Brothers, passed around samples of the incredibly delicious fresh cheese to everyone. At the end of the event, we were all given a bag of frozen cheese curds to take home with cooking instructions. An educational and filling evening!

Bonded by Mud

 

Tough Mudder Full, Whistler Olympic Park
12+ Miles
19 Obstacles
12,300 Participants From Around the World
Bib #374707

I eagerly entered the corral at the starting line. The MC gave the crowd a pep talk about how the mentality of Tough Mudder isn’t how fast you can cross the finish line, but rather about pushing yourself and accomplishing something extraordinary. “It’s not about medals,” he said, “it’s about camaraderie.” That’s why IF you complete a Tough Mudder challenge, you receive a coveted finisher headband and T-shirt, not a medal.

I was at the Tough Mudder solo, but I hoped to come across a kind comrade or two for help at obstacles I physically couldn’t do by myself. I never expected it to happen at the second obstacle! The Hero Carry requires a teammate to carry you for a set distance; switch and then have you carry them. A guy with a wild mohawk said he didn’t have a partner. He instantly scooped me up in his arms and carried me, then at the switching point, we linked arms to the end of the obstacle. As we ran to the next obstacle, he introduced himself as Randy. It turned out that he was doing the Tough Mudder as part of a trio with his best friends Trevor and Kelsey. Our teamwork continued and by the third obstacle, Kelsey turned to me and said, “welcome to our team!” That’s how I ended up being adopted as the fourth member of their group.

I was sweating from the physical exertion, but oddly, I also had goosebumps and my teeth were chattering. I’m not sure why I was surprised that a challenge I was doing on Whistler Mountain in Canada was cold!?! It was a mental trip seeing snow on the ground at various points of the course. As Kelsey and I rounded one of the corners Randy pelted us with a snowball!

When we approached the first water obstacle Kelsey advised me to take off my shirt so I would have something fairly dry to put back on. I thought it’s a short sleeve shirt, it can’t possibly make a difference, but I took her advice. She said “hand your shirt to him” and pointed to a man on the side. I was like OOOK, here’s my shirt stranger. We successfully completed the obstacle, got our shirts, and put them back on (it did in fact help and make a difference). Kelsey said, “Oh, by the way, that’s my dad.” I said, “well, this is the most interesting way I have ever met someone’s parent!” Her parents were along the course at certain points as spectators to support her.

The temperature became cooler as time passed and the frigid water obstacles proved to be the most challenging I had ever faced. Unfortunately, I failed three of the water obstacles, which bummed me out. They didn’t count against me in the challenge, but I was very disappointed in myself. I never trudged through so much mud in my life. During one of the stretches of running, I came across a sneaker casualty. Apparently, someone had lost their sneaker in the mud and kept going! There’s definitely a reason why the word mud is part of the name. I ripped my leggings and collected several brush burns and bruises. Randy positively referred to them as our “accomplishment tattoos”.

In Spartan races, it’s a tradition to jump over a fire pit of flames as the last obstacle. Equally scary, Tough Mudder tradition ends with maneuvering through live electrical wires over water pits. It’s called Electroshock Therapy. I proudly made it to the end and earned a coveted orange finisher headband and shirt. Kelsey’s parents were there to congratulate us. Her mom came to my rescue and handed Kelsey a foil-like wrap to put around me. I never thought a thin silver sheet could feel so warm. I looked like a giant baked potato, but I didn’t care.

Just like the MC said, the challenge was indeed about camaraderie. I am grateful that I made three new friends who literally lent me a hand several times along the way, and cheered me on as one of their own. Thank you, Kelsey, Randy and Trevor!   

The Tough Mudder Full was my second big healthy comeback goal for 2017 and my first Tough Mudder event ever. My aim was to finish the challenge in under four hours. I am proud to share that my trio and I completed it in a little over 3 hours and I am now an official Tough Mudder Legionnaire!

The third big healthy comeback goal I set for the year is six weeks away. I hope you will continue to follow my adventures as I attempt my first triathlon, the VA Momentum SUPTri in Bridgewater, VA, on July 29! 

Since the age of eight, I have continuously been presented with challenges in which I needed to be fearless to overcome. That’s how I came up with the theme of living a fearless life for my adventure blog. Each time I felt like I couldn’t make it through yet another life test, I learned that I am stronger than I thought, especially with the loyal support of others.

THANK YOU to my family, friends, community and business sponsors OrthoVirginia, Westfields Dental and Flyte Fitness for continuing to believe in me!

OrthoVirginiaWestfields Dental