Optimistic

Today has been a particularly good day. In fact as a result of today, I’m feeling rather optimistic about the days ahead. I think this is the perfect place to be  considering my41st year is drawing to a close – and admittedly it wasn’t one of my favourite years. Yes, there was lots of good stuff that happened but I feel it was punctuated with more downs and missed opportunities than checkmarks in the win column. (But this is what life is all about…)

Some might think that starting the day with an iron infusion is not the best way to begin a day, but I couldn’t have been happier to be sitting at Ambulatory Care this morning hooked up to an I.V. and being pumped full of iron. You see, these iron infusions are so so useful in getting me back to feeling like my old self. As a person who can’t take iron pills, there is no other real tangible way to get my iron stores out  of the abysmal single digits.

My afternoon was spent meeting with a new-to-me doctor. Finally five years after being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, I had an appointment with an IBD specialist. I was so excited when the doctor’s office called last week about the appointment. Finally to see someone who is an expert in treating ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease – this is going to make a big difference for my health.

After an hour long appointment, I left feeling like I was floating on clouds. I was able to ask my questions. Learn some interesting information about new approaches to treating ulcerative colitis. And most importantly with the feeling that this young doctor really does know his stuff . He said, “my ulcerative colitis  and Crohn’s patients are very special to me. I’ll do all I can for you.” Wow!

So now I’m starting on a new medication, have a bunch of tests scheduled, and a real feeling that things will finally start to turn around. Interestingly, I expressed to my doctor that I felt I was doing pretty good. And he pointed out that I’m not yet 100 per cent and that really I can still be so much better… I’ve been happy to accept where I am because it is so much better than where I’ve been for so long, but this doctor reminded me that I don’t have to “settle” and that things can get back to the way they were.

Who would have thought that a day spent in two hospitals and paying crazy parking fees (getting a parking ticket doesn’t help…) – could turn out to be such a good day? Yep, can’t wait to be 42 and discover what the year holds.

 

Crushing It

In other years,  a title such as Crushing It would have likely indicated that I had successfully ripped my legs off, put myself in the pain cave, hit an all-time high on the wattage meeter or something to this effect…. that was then and this is now…

Now instead of such super-human feats of past years, Crushing It merely refers to the super-human crush I have on my bicycle. I’ve now got four rides into my legs and my rather sensitive bottom. I’ve never had so much fun on two wheels as I have during these four rides.

Nothing really stands out on these rides. The roads were familiar. The weather was sunny at times and windy at others. I didn’t go super fast – in fact I went super slow. I rode alone with the exception of 20 minutes with Marc (which never happens). But these rides still stand out as some of my top rides ever.

It is hard for me to explain what makes these rides so much better than rides I’ve done in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Las Vegas, Italy, and France. I guess it is because for so long I simply couldn’t ride.

Now I can ride. So I’m riding. I don’t have a training plan. I don’t have a schedule. I’m just riding. As fast/slow/hard/easy as I want to go. I realized yesterday that I fit on a bike – it just feels right. I had no idea how much I missed “fitting” – thanks bike – you’re the best.

Rookie Rider?

April 2, 2014 – big day for me – my first bike ride since mid-September. For me, and for most of you that is a heck of a long time to go between bike rides. Well, let me tell you, it was worth the wait.

I think I was grinning for the entire 90 minutes of my ride. It wasn’t fast and at times it was downright slow, but I was moving and riding my two-wheeler. I felt I’m sure just like my little nephew Henry did on Sunday when he pedaled his two-wheeler for the first time ever.

Of course I made a few rookie mistakes… about ten minutes from home I realized I didn’t have any food with me – not even a gel (and I’ve got a massive box of them in the cupboard thanks to Clif Bar).. then about 15 minutes later I realized I didn’t have any money… oh well, I had my iPhone so worst case I could call someone (but not Marc because he was out riding as well).

Apart from these mistakes, the ride went very smoothly. I forgot how strong the spring winds are though. Super thankful for the fender Marc attached to my bike. I also managed to not totally overdress so I wasn’t overheating. Icing on the cake was getting to ride the last 20 minutes or so with Marc – we never get to ride together so this was a real treat.

Yep, all in all a good first ride of the season. I’m hoping some of the fitness I’ve recovered this past winter thanks to skiing and running will help ease the transition to two wheels. I stood up a few times and felt that deep familiar ache in my quads – oh boy did that ever feel awesome.

Still a bike rider…

 

 

NYC Recap

Well, if you follow me on Twitter or we are friends on Facebook, you’ve likely been inundated with lots of NYC photos and various status updates – so you’ll know all of this (mostly) already… if you don’t follow me or like me (well what are you waiting for?) – this will all be news to you!

In a nutshell – my four days in New York City were spot on great. Four days is just the right amount of time for a solo adventure in one city. I had plenty of time and opportunity to see and do everything I wanted and I was never at a loss for something to do. This was my second visit to NYC – my first was in 2012 with my mom and that was such a special trip that this recent one can’t compare. There is nothing like exploring a city for the first time with your mom – we saw so much and got to learn the art of map reading together!

For this visit to NYC my goal was simply to walk around and take in the city. I had a few things I really wanted to do and I was fortunate to be able to do these. Highlights of the four days:

- Experiencing Strawberry Fields in Central Park – such a very quiet and respectful spot. I can’t explain what the draw is for me  - but I just really had to see this spot. This was the first thing I did when I arrived – I checked in, dropped my bags, and walked right over.

- The Metropolitan Museum of Art was fantastic. A little known fact is that I’m a huge sculpture fan – I just love looking at sculptures. Paintings don’t do much for me – but I’ll stare at a sculpture for a good while. I walked through Central Park to get to the MET and this was also a top-notch experience – I saw a different area of the park and even had a great conversation with a  lady visiting from Italy (she was freezing cold…) who was looking for the Guggenheim.

- Once The Musical – loved loved loved it. Such a great night. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I really enjoy the music by The Swell Season, so finally seeing the musical was the icing on the cake. Such a great night. I met some interesting people from Chicago and capped the night off with seeing Robin Thicke perform live in Times Square (admittedly I’d never heard him sing before and I thought that he was a she…) and a late meal at Chipotle.

- Hearing the great news that my wee little niece was born on Tuesday evening. Merryn Lilly Thomas is perfectly perfect and has a big brother (four years old) who is looking out for her each and every moment.

- Walking The High Line was a fun way to spend part of the morning. It was very windy that day so I was a bit cold but it was pretty cool to be walking above the city. The park is super interesting with lots of built-in seating through-out providing lots of opportunity to relax and in the summer there are concerts, food vendors and I’m guessing lots of people out. I stopped for a while at the Chelsea Market after this walk – had a great smoothie from One Lucky Duck, picked up a brownie for later, and perused all the food shops and restaurants.

- A final visit back to Central Park on Thursday to explore it from a new direction was the perfect way to round out my trip. I stumbled upon The Positive Brothers  - these guys are a great dancing/breakdancing/gymnast trio who are super funny as well.

In between all this there were some great meals, some good shopping finds, some interesting conversations, and some intriguing people watching. Being able to take such a vacation reminds me of how fortunate I am. I’m particularly lucky to be married to a man who never turns away from adventure. As nice as it is to go away, it is equally nice to come home to the person and cat that you love.

(To see my photos on Facebook, click.) (If you’re not on Facebook…I’ve included some photos below.)

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(Oh and great news – my tendons/heals/feet in general felt great. A bit sore on Monday but I think this was due to the airplane-induced swelling. Fingers crossed everything is good-to-go. I’ll go for a run tomorrow to find out. On Sunday I’m attending Mike Stashin’s Run Effortlessly clinic – really looking forward to this.)

 

Putting on the Brakes

Remember my last post where I obsessed obsessively about training and plans and getting ready and being prepared? Well thanks so much for your suggestions, contributions and calming words – this helped a great deal. I forget sometimes that I do have a big engine lurking ready to break out and that everything will come together when it is supposed to.

So today I ran. It was a great run – snowy with crazy blowing snow but it wasn’t cold. I ran for a little over an hour at a nice easy pace. I felt like I could run forever. I felt awesome. Well, I mostly felt awesome…

You see I’ve been having some tightness and stiffness around my heel and achilles on my right foot. Mostly in the morning my ankle/heel/achilles feels tight. Nothing major. But on Tuesday I started to feel it towards the end of the group run. Wednesday it was okay for my lunchtime run. Thursday not bad. Friday okayish. But my left achilles started to feel tender on Friday and my right was tight all day.

I applied some kin tape to my right achilles/lower calf and liberally applied Voltaren to my left achilles. This morning everything felt okay. By the end of my run, the little “niggles” of pain had become constant. I iced. I stretched. I foam rolled. I had a hot bath. I self-massaged.

I discovered that when my feet are in flexion, the achilles are quite tender and sore… Sigh. Looks like some kind of running injury. But not a bad one – in my opinion. So I’m putting the brakes on my running for a week or so. This was a  hard decision to make because I feel like I’m coming into some fitness and I’m starting to really enjoy the running. But I know that if I don’t let these little pains heal now, I won’t be doing what I want when the trails are free from snow.

I’m off to NYC on Monday for a few days of vacation and I had planned to bring my running gear with me and run each day in Central Park. I’ve decided not to bring my running gear. It is tempting. But I’ve had enough experience now with ignoring “niggles” and having them turn into something much worse. I want to be running in April and really preparing for the Ultimate XC so if I have to take week or more off now from running – so be it.

(Next week, you can expect photos and words from my NYC discoveries…. I’ll try to smile in my selfies!)

Winging It

Yesterday while doing my strength work-out I started thinking about how I was going to get ready for the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour on June 7/8 and the Ultimate XC trail race (21 km) on June 28…. In typical fashion I let my brain race with ideas of how to get the fitness I need to enjoy these two events (rather than suffer through them).

I’m used to have structured training plans designed by a cycling coach – these training plans basically told me what I would do each and every day. At times I felt “ruled” by the training plan and craved spontaneity but more days than most, I was content to have my work-outs planned out for me. If it was written down I did it. It’s amazing how used to this mode of training I became.

And now here I sit with two big events on the horizon without a plan… the type A in me is starting to get a bit anxious about this. But the other slightly relaxed side of me is really trying to enjoy not being ruled by a plan… and this is where my brain starts to go a bit crazy, trying to determine how I can best get ready for these two events, while still being able to do everything I want (mountain biking, long road rides. and trail running).

In early May I’m planning on doing the MEC trail race at Camp Fortune – this will be a good event to build on towards the Ultimate XC at the end of June. But, typically I had a more (or so I thought) brilliant idea – how about I ride my bike to Camp Fortune (90 minute or so ride), run the 12 km trail race, and then ride home! This would be a great training day – I get to ride my bike and trail run and I get “load” my body with a really big day. I mentioned this idea to my friend last night – she kind of choked – and then I mentioned it to Marc, and he responded with “Are you well?”. So I guess this idea is not one of my better ones.

This is what happens when I don’t have a plan: I go through waves of intense training/activity counterbalanced by too many easy days or complete rest days. I’m starting to realize that I’m not really a “winging it” type  of person but I also know I don’t want to go back to the hard-line training plan. So what to do? What do you do? Are you the type of person who likes to have a training plan or do you do your own thing or do you have a loose training guide? I’m trying to find the happy and successful middle ground.

This happy middle ground will ensure that I don’t get too stressed out about being prepared for these two big events on my summer calendar. There is nothing worse than going into an event and not feeling prepared. I definitely don’t want to do this but I know that if left to my own devices, I can easily do too much and then ironically not be ready either… (Yes, crazy brain is starting to creep back in…)

Catching Up

I realized the other day that I haven’t written in a while. Not sure what caused this – likely the overall general malaise with the current weather situation… I don’t know about you but when I look around, all I see is piles and piles of white. Not what I want to be seeing in almost-the-middle-of-March.

Yes, I know this means we’ve got many more weeks of skiing to look forward to… But really, I’m ready for some two-wheeled fun. I’ve been resisting the trainer in the basement but that June 7/8 Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour weekend is looming and I know for a fact that my riding partners have been sweating it out to the max in their basements…. If the snow doesn’t start melting soon, I’ll have to get on my bike and pedal to nowhere.

So what else has been happening? Well, really not too much. I’ve been slowly increasing my running volume and thanks John Zahab’s expertise I’m working on fixing some of my muscle imbalances and improving my running efficiency and economy… Who knew running was such a technical sport? I’m loving the running – I don’t mind getting out on cold cold days when I’m bundled up in my running gear. I particularly find running at lunch time on the trails at South March Highlands a great way to get in a work-out and enjoy nature for a bit.

Hmm, what else? Well, I’m reading a lot. I don’t know if you know but I set a challenge for myself to read all 40 books on the Canada Reads Top 40 List… This has been a great challenge and motivator – problem is that I’m a slow reader… I just finished book the 12th book – Galore by Michael Crummey (I’ll post a review later today).

I’m going to New York City in a few weeks. This  will be lots of fun. I visited NYC a couple of years ago with my mom and I’ve wanted to return ever since that first visit. So I’m super stoked to go for a few more days. I’ve got a few things on my “to check out” list (maybe this should be renamed to – to eat list)… but if you have any suggestions – shoot them over.

Really, that’s about all the action I’ve got to report. No races coming up for a while – check out my newly redesigned Goings On page to get the scoop…

Oh, one thing that is happening – I’m looking for more freelance writing work… Ideally I’d like a full-time work-from-home/remote/telecommute writing job. This can be technical writing, website content, social media content/management, ghost writing, online marketing collateral – or anything else that needs to be written. You know I’m good with words so if you know someone who needs a writer – feel free to connect us.