Fun and Good Times

Finally we can breathe a big sigh of relief – spring is here and we don’t have to shovel any snow for a little while (hopefully I didn’t just jinx all of us…). I’m super happy to see and experience spring’s arrival. I really tried to embrace winter, but frankly it was a long and cold winter – the skate skiing and snowshoe running  helped but really, I’d be happy with spring and summer all year round… Okay now that my little weather rant is out of the way, let’s get to the fun and good stuff.

Lately the fun and good stuff has included:

  • Bike riding: yes, I missed my bike so much. I realized during one of my first rides of the season that I love riding my bike. I feel comfortable and natural on it. It fits me and I fit it. This year my bike riding is at a much more relaxed and steady pace – I’m not bound by a training plan, rather I’m just riding based on a “how I feel plan” – so far so good.
  • Trail running: I’ve been doing a lot (well, a lot for me) of trail running lately. I’m trying to slowly build up my endurance, strength and trail running skills in preparation for the Ultimate XC at the end of June. I’ve been exploring some fun new-to-me trails and thoroughly enjoying every minute of it. I’ve lucked out to have some great running partners which keeps the running interesting and entertaining – sometimes it seems like we’re laughing harder than we are running!
  • Birthday celebration: my birthday has come and gone and it was a very good one. I was lucky to celebrate with my favourite guy and some very good friends. I had a relaxing day filled with trail running, chocolate, the Sunday New York Times, bike riding and a very nice dinner with good and special folks.
  • New niece: my wee little niece was born on March 25th. Merryn Lilly Thomas is a beauty of a little girl who is being showered with love and attention from her mom, dad and most wonderfully from her big brother Henry (all of four years old). My heart melts when I see my nephew sing songs to Merryn when she is crying. And now for some reason I feel this strange urge to buy every pink baby item I see… Yes, being an aunt is pretty darn awesome.
  • Back deck: my dad built us a back deck last summer. What a treat it is to walk out onto the deck in the morning and enjoy my backyard. So very happy to have this addition. Old Murphy is pretty happy with the deck as well.
  • Health: slowly but surely I’m starting to feel like my old self. My energy levels are getting back to normal and I just feel good. Still a long way to go to 100% but I believe it is slow and steady that wins this race. So far the new medicine is working out well. The iron infusions will soon start to make a big difference in my energy levels.
  • Good friends: there is nothing like good friends to help you through tough spots and to remind you what friendship really is about.
  • Favourite guy: little known fact that this year, we’ll have been married for 10 years and together for 20…. this is pretty huge and I’m so darn lucky to have this man in my life.
  • Old Murphy: the Murphster is getting up there in age – 19 now. But he is still trucking along. He patrols the backyard, tries to escape down our driveway, wakes us (okay me) up at 5 a.m for food, and chases the laser pointer around like a 19 month old kitten.

Yes, so this pretty much sums up life as of late. I’m feeling very lucky and fortunate these days. I’m pretty confident that this 42nd year will be full of super fun and good stuff.

Here’s a few of my favourite photos from the weekend that wrap up this post nicely:

Me and Sally in Merrickville

Me and Sally in Merrickville

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Stuart took this photo of me and Laco before we started running and skiing at Camp Fortune

A great photo taken by Stuart of me and Stephen at Camp Fortune

 

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.)