My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Friday, May 25, 2012

Redirecting my energy.

I had two Pilates instructor training workshops back to back this month.

They were held on both Saturday and Sunday and were all day classes. During these workshops, I am learning new exercises and being trained on the equipment. We practice the exercises together and followed by teaching them to one another: learn, practice and teach. By the time Sunday afternoon rolls around, we are all usually maxed out both physically and mentally from the long days of classes.

This most recent workshop was exhausting, but also exhilarating. It was the most intense workshop I have attended yet, but so much more of it really made sense than it has in the past. I feel like everything is starting to come together with the understanding of the material and the exercises. My body and mind is connecting to these exercises and I am really looking forward to taking on clients very soon. I have still many hours (a few 100 hours or so) of teaching and practice that I will need to be completely Balance Body certified. I also have three more workshops to attend. Two of these are back tracking in terms of the curriculum unfortunately, since I missed a couple of workshops after my surgery in October. The next one is going to be anatomy and is causing me quite a bit of anxiety. I learn best through doing and less through book study, so I really have my work cut out for me. I am hoping that my new found connection to these exercises will help me piece together all the anatomy.

As I have previously mentioned, I am involved in the planning of the first annual bike ride fundraiser for Body Wise Connection. It is coming up quickly on June 2 so I have been really focused on all the details of this event. So far, the pre-registration has been pretty successful and I have had really great support. Some friends and family have generously made donations and some friends are volunteering their time to be ride support or signing up to participate in the event. This event is one of the main sources of funding for this program, so we are hoping for riders but donations are also welcome for those that cannot attend the event.

That was my shameless plug...

Between work being very busy these days, my Pilates studies and my volunteer work, it has left less time for riding my bike. Strangely, I am okay with that. Sometimes it is good for me to step away and take a break, especially since I was feeling a bit frustrated with my fitness and skill. I have been riding, just not obsessing about it. I have just had to redirect my energy to other things and there is just not enough time or energy for it all.

We are coming into a 3 day weekend so riding my bike will defiantly be on the menu for the weekend. 

Speaking of menu...

I made the most delicious meal the other night.

Grilled Wild Salmon w/lentils and fresh mango salsa.
G and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary of our first date. It was May 23, 2009 when I knew I had found the guy for me. We have been through so much together in such a short period of time. Thankfully, most young couples do not have to endure illness hijacking their lives the way G and I have. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is two years since my bilateral mastectomy! We continue to struggle with some of the aftermath of the storm but I have to say, my guy has stood by my side through it all. I am so grateful to have him in my life.

Have a great weekend everyone.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New Helmet Required.

So far, the month of May has been all about focusing on keeping my endurance and adding some intensity to my rides.  

I have started to ride my mountain bike from the house to one of our local trails- Graham Hills.  I usually would drive there but it is only 6 miles each way.  It helps me warm up before I get to the trails and then I am able to give it more gas in the woods and spin my legs out on the way home.  G and I use to do this sometimes during the winter or early spring but driving there always seemed quicker.  It only saves 15 minutes and then I still have to get ‘ready’ to ride when I get to the parking lot.  So far, these rides from the house have been anywhere between 21-25 miles combined road and dirt.  I need to increase this but of course it is hard to find that extra time.  This "small ride" takes at least a couple hours as it is.

The best way to increase my mileage and time in the saddle is to get on the road bike as it is easier on the body compared to all the jarring with mountain bike.  It was part of the plan after SSAP to make sure I get back on the road on a more regular basis- At least 2 times a week.  

I was in a Pilates workshop the whole weekend prior so there was not much riding for me.  I was anxious to enjoy the beautiful weather outside.

Ideally we would have ridden mountain bikes on Saturday and road bikes on Sunday but this weekend, we switched it around because a friend wanted to ride mountain bikes with us on Sunday.  We had ridden to Graham Friday evening so the road sounded good to me. 
Saturday morning we left out of the house and decided to head north.  We took a few back roads over to Pleasantville and jumped on the North County Trailway.  The NCT is a great place to keep the legs spinning but I had also wanted to recalculate some mileage from the 117 parking lot in Pleasantville up to our friend’s bike shop – Yorktown Cycles

I have been helping to plan the first bike ride fundraiser for Body Wise Connection and this is the route I have chosen.  This is the organization that got me started with Pilates and helping plan this fundraiser is part of my way to “give back”.  Of course I am leading this ride so I need to do the ride a few times before the day of the event which is June 2, 2012

We took a quick pit-stop at the bike shop to say hi and get a few extra snacks for the ride.  I also discussed with Tom about replacing my helmet after my recent crash in which I hurt my hand.  Once you have crashed your helmet it is best to replace it. The helmet becomes compromised and may not work to its full potential the next time.  

Enjoying the amazing weather. 

We left the shop and pedaled further north.  We decided to turn around and head towards home so we could detour off the NCT to hit some hills in Briarcliff.  Heading south, we were cruising along and I got a flat in my rear tire.  It appeared that my rear tire had a pretty good size tear in it.   G fixed it with a GU wrapper and said “no hills on this tire- we should get home while we can”.  It was okay; we were having a great ride and still wanted to save some gas in the tank for our mountain bike ride the next day.  By the time we would finish the ride it was still going to be just shy of 50 miles. 

That is a nice size tear

We were pedaling home at a very mellow pace as I was trying to be gentle with my rear tire.  We must have been going only about 14-15 miles an hour and we were almost to the 117 parking lot area.  I stood up off my saddle to stretch my legs out for a second and just then, I hit a bump.  The NCT is known for its random holes and bumps and I thought I knew where all of them were.  This one took my balance and I lost complete control of my front end.  I tried to recover quickly but because I had been standing, my weight was shifted forward more than usual- I could not correct it.  I was going down.  I have never crashed on my road bike (not counting as a kid crashing on my ten speed) but knew it was going to be ugly.  I tried to force my body to the far right where there was hope of hitting the grass.  My right hip didn’t quite make it to the grass but thankfully my shoulder and head did.  This was by far the scariest crash I have ever had.  It is so different to dump it on your road bike than the mountain bike.  I am actually very lucky that it was not any worse.  I am pretty banged up with some nasty road rash on my right side and my forehead. 

It is now officially time for a new helmet! 

I managed to ride the bike home in the one gear that G found would work-my bike sustained a little damage from the crash and was not working perfectly.  It was a painful and slow 6 miles home. 

It did not ruin my weekend but it did hurt pretty bad and when I woke up Sunday morning, my neck and back were pretty sore.  G put his foot down on our plan to ride at Blue Mountain so we decided to ride from the house to Graham Hills again.  I thought I might be a bit crazy to even ride my mountain bike the next day but I was surprised how well I actually rode.  I had a lot more snap in my legs than I thought I would and frankly, getting on my road bike did not sound so appealing.   I keep seeing that crash over and over in my head.  Besides, the road bike needs a little work…

Hoping for a good week ahead and trying to stay upright!


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Out of Practice.

I woke up last Sunday morning at 5:45 am- it was race day! 

We had everything packed and ready to go- except for my green juice.  That must be made fresh.  I am convinced these drinks are making my joints and body feel better, so I did not want to miss my morning fix the day of the big race.  I even took some for my post race recovery.

G loaded the car and we were off to Stewart.  The sun was shining in a perfect blue sky and it was a chilly 40 degrees.  This was going to make for great racing conditions.

I felt almost out of sorts to be arriving at the race and actually being there as a racer and not just as a spectator.  It has been awhile.

People I saw would say- “It is great to see you.  Are you racing? How are you feeling?” 

I really didn’t know how to explain how I was feeling but my simple answer was – “I feel great- thanks!” 

This was a little lie, but who really needed to know the truth or would understand what I meant.  My hips had started to feel sore the day before.  I had even debated whether or not to take my Tamoxifen the night before in the hopes it would not hurt my performance.  Of course I took it, because I have to.   There is really no real pattern to why some days I have bad side effects from this drug and other days I do not.  My oncologist thinks it is more of a result of one of the other chemo's I took while in treatment-She seems to blame it all on Taxol.  My hand was better but my wrist was feeling a bit achy and that damn cording in my left arm decided to tighten up a few days before and no amount of stretching was really getting it to open up.

But all things considered, I did feel good. 

I lined up on the start line next to a friend of mine. We have raced together in the past and in my absence from the racing scene, she has just gotten stronger and faster.  She was going to give me a run for my money. 

I was not even as nervous to race as I thought I would be.  I am not sure why.  We were the last group of racers to go off and we headed down the long fire road before entering the first single track.  I was not quite out in front but was cruising along at a fairly steady pace.  Passed a few riders in the double track and I felt okay.  I kept trying to remind myself to stay within my limits as the race was long. 

It was about mile 8 or 9 that my legs just decided they didn’t want to play anymore. 

Then the self doubt started.

I went out too hard in the beginning; Maybe I didn’t warm up enough;  I should have spent more time on the road bike;  Ugh, these girls are just stronger than me; Stupid cancer treatments jacked me up for good.  


Maybe I am just out of race practice! 

I kept trying to turn my pedals over, but it felt like I had lead in my legs and my hips were not rotating property.  Remember, it is a single speed race, and I only had one gear to work with. There was not much room on this course to spin out your legs- most of the time I was just pushing as hard as I could.   

At some point after the 12th mile, I gave up the chance of a top 3 finish and started thinking about a top 5 finish- it was still in reach. 

When I started to walk sections that I could have ridden when my legs were fresher/stronger, I knew I had to forget about what place I was going to finish and just try to finish the race. It was hard.

A lot of thoughts went through my mind as I attempted to pedal my single speed through the woods.  I did not have a computer on my bike to tell me how long I had pedaled or how much longer I had to go.  This was probably a good thing ,because at one point I wanted to quit.    

I tried to ignore the ‘noise’ in my head when I would get passed by another racer. 

I kept trying not to give up on myself.  

It was hard not to think about how far cancer has taken me out of the game and although I am back racing, I am a long way from really being “back” to where I was. That is one of the hardest things for me to cope with. 

Do I even like racing anymore?

It must have been at about mile 24 (only 4 miles to go) when I finally found a bit of peace within myself about my race performance being less than stellar.  I should just be proud of myself for getting back out there.  While I was desperate to get to the finish, I just kicked back and enjoyed the beautiful trails for my first race back.   

I was a bit surprised that I actually finished 6th place and that I was not the last woman to cross the finish line.  There was actually 7 other women behind me and even a lot more men. 

This was not my best performance.  While I am not going to beat myself up over this, I will be forcing myself back on the road bike religiously until the Darkhorse 40 and Hampshire 100 in August.  It will be here before I know it and it sort of scares me a bit after Sunday.
It is early season and my first race back.  I could just be battling treatment side-effects  forever or maybe I am just out of racing practice.  I am hopeful that I just need more practice.