Bike Crush

Aigle, Switzerland 2010

Aigle, Switzerland 2010

This has been an interesting summer… intent on trail running and doing a few trail races, I kind of ignored my bike and focused on trail running. Well, as the story goes, I became injured. I tried to run like I had been running for years. I tried to apply the volume that I loved from riding my bike to running. Nope, I’m not an experienced enough runner to do this. My feet, tendons, shins, and general overall body protested until I finally exploded.

Flash forward seven weeks and I’m back with my first crush (sorry Marc) – my bicycle. (I’m easing back into running – so far so good and I’m committed to the long slow road to running fitness.) In the last couple of weeks I’ve been out on a few rides, boy oh boy, I had no idea how much I missed my bike. It is comforting to be out on familiar roads riding along and just feeling so comfortable.

For me, there is something about my bike that just makes me so happy and secure. I feel confident on my bike. When racing, I didn’t have the natural gifts that so many have, but I had a passion for the bike. Passion that encouraged me to set big lofty goals (goals that many didn’t believe I’d ever achieve) and then work hard to meet and surpass these goals. This confidence spilled over into other areas of my life – I felt good about myself, I was more confident when speaking with others, I got over my shyness (yes, I used to be shy), and I felt comfortable in my skin.

Now, of course, I don’t have that fitness that I once had. I’m no longer a bike racer. In fact I don’t really consider myself a cyclist. But I’m working my way back. There is something about that feeling that I really miss. The feeling of just knowing that you’ve “found your thing” and that thing makes you feel so darn good.

I’m not hanging up my trail shoes. In fact, I’ve got a running/skiing plan that will set me up well for some very sweet fun on the trails and on the snow. It’s just that I’ve realized that I feel so good on my bike. I’m working at getting my body 100 per cent healed and you’ll soon see me out on the trail runs, riding my road bike, and doing a bit of cyclo-cross practice.

Perhaps watching this short video with Anton Krupicka (amazing trail runner) will help you understand what I’m struggling to say:

(On a side note – I realized yesterday that this summer has actually been pretty darn awesome for me (and most importantly for Marc) – this the first summer since 2009 that we haven’t been dealing and living with an ulcerative colitis flare. So yeah, summer 2014 has and is a pretty good one.)

2014 Cyclo-Cross Nationals

Cyclo-cross Nationals in 2009

Cyclo-cross Nationals in 2009

Sitting here thinking about cyclo-cross in July might seem crazy to some, but the rest of you know that once cyclo-cross is in your soul, it is a very hard thing to shake. There really isn’t anything else quite like cyclo-cross. From the diversity of race courses. To the skills required to race cyclo-cross. To the most important factor of all – the people. If there is one thing that cyclo-cross is known for it is the community of people that come out to make the sport so darn awesome.

You’ve got the racers – these folks range from the pros to the hardcore masters men and women to the folks who just decided to “give it a try”. The tireless race organizers. The super fans who know your name and always have an encouraging word to shout when you pedal or run by. The little kids ripping it up like they were born on cyclo-cross bikes. The mechanics who often work harder and longer than the racers.

Every cyclo-cross community is slightly different – but there is one  common thread: passion.

Last week I met with Chris Huebner – he is one of the organizers of the upcoming 2014 Canadian Cyclo-Cross National Championships. Let’s just say, the team in Winnipeg is working very hard to put on a top-class event for us Canadian cyclo-cross racers. The venue sounds pretty cool with a good location that makes it handy for spectators and provides a good race course for the racers. The Winnipeg team is very keen to get some strong attendance numbers at this  weekend of racing – to help you the racer and  your supporters out, there is already a block of rooms set aside at a very good rate (the hotel is 1 km or so from the course – no car rental needed), there are lots of great places to eat nearby, there is a C2 race the next day, a day of clinics planned for Friday, and most of all there is a large dose of passion and commitment behind this weekend of cyclo-cross racing.

Check out the website (yes, it is July and the website is already set up and full of details!) and watch a race video from the Manitoba Provincial Champs to get a feel for the race course.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a cyclo-cross national championships – but I think this will be the year. I’m excited about the race course (I won’t be racing – just superfanning). The venue sounds really good (good eating options – what more could a fan and racer want?). Not to mention the flight from Ottawa is very reasonable.

Besides, the people at cyclo-cross races are very cool. I like hanging out with cool passionate people. So I’ll be there. What about you?

 

 

Breathing Deeply

It’s been a long while since I’ve written anything. Frankly, I wasn’t in the mood. Nor did I feel like I had anything to say. I even debated taking this site down and shuttering it. But I’m not going to do this. While this type of writing feels very narcissistic, I do enjoy it and it does help me. So I’ll keep going – I’m not writing as often and my posts (in my opinion) are not that interesting as they were back in my racing, training, and Belgium days – but this is just like life – it ebbs and flows and we find excitement and thrills in different ways.

I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve been in a funk. I was frustrated with being injured. I determined that I “hated” summer (the last two summers I’ve been very sick) and now this summer I’ve spent close to six weeks being injured. I’m pretty good at snowballing small things until I’m neck deep in an avalanche barely keeping my head up. I was grouchy. I was unpleasant. I was behaving like a spoiled child. Good grief, I don’t know how Marc tolerated it – he deserves a few medals for his patience and logical words. I completely lost perspective on how unpleasant things can really be.

And now here I sit. I’m working hard at finding the good things in each day. I’m reminding myself how lucky I am and how much I’d rather have sore feet than a cranky and angry colon.  The last couple of weeks have been pretty good. While I’m not back to running and riding (I did manage a 35 minute road ride on Tuesday), I am able to get back into movement.

I know many people can’t understand how important it is for me to move my body and to feel my strength and physicality. Many people just shrug their shoulders and say something like “so find something else to do”. Well, the thing is, moving my body is my hobby and my passion. I love riding my bike. I love running. I love going to yoga. I like lifting heavy things. This is what I like to do. So when people brush this off as nothing – it is hard. Really hard. At first I worried that I’m a one-dimensional person – someone who only likes to do one thing. But this is not the case. I like to do other things – but I like to move my body the most. I guess for many people, moving your body equates to exercise – and many people associate exercise with unpleasant feelings and sensations. (This is kind of the way I feel about gardening, shopping, watching a lot of television, and not moving my body).

One really great thing that has come from this injury is my return to yoga. I used to be an avid yoga student – I had found a very welcoming community at Mountaingoat Yoga studio in Barrhaven. Talented instructors. Very friendly students. Going there feels like a deep warm hug. I didn’t realize how much I missed this until I returned a few weeks ago. Some of the faces have changed but really it felt like I had never left. Getting back into yoga has been a blow to my ego – I used to be very bendy and quite strong. But this is okay. This is me now. I’m happy with this me and I’m working to get strong and bendy again. Most of all, I’m appreciating yoga for more than a physical work-out – I’m discovering how much a yoga practice can do for my peace-of-mind and overall quality of life.

So this is the story. Small steps forward – both mentally and physically. Really learning to look around and see the good in all that I am lucky to have.

(As for the next trail race or other sporting event… I don’t know. I received some great advice on Monday – I’m not registering for any events – if I feel good the week of, then sure I might register. Instead of a focus on this race or that race, I need to focus on the process of fitness/training and overall body care. It’s so easy to get caught up in training for a specific event that, if you’re like me, you lose sight of correct training, rest, recovery, how the body is feeling and the bigger picture.)

And now, here’s some photos – photos that make me smile and feel great inside and out:

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Busted But Not Broken

On our drive home from Lakefield yesterday, I said to Marc in a  rather pained and regretful tone, “I really wish I hadn’t done this to myself. I put myself in this position.”

Marc’s response was, “I’ve been waiting for you to say this and realize what you did.”

So what did I do? Quite simply, I injured myself. I did it all by myself. I did it by ignoring rules and recommendations. I did it by believing that I would be just fine.  I did it by overlooking advice about training volume. I did it by jumping into shoes that everyone recommends I ease into. I did it by ignoring my stretching and mobility routine. I did it by skipping my strength routine. I did it by doing too much too soon.

Yes, this is most definitely my fault. I’d like to believe that this wicked case of plantar fasciitis (in both feet) came out-of-the-blue. But it didn’t. It came on as I gradually began to ignore all of the information out there that told me to take things slow and steady.

I was doing not badly but then I got greedy and wanted to run longer and more often. I ignored my trusty bicycle and instead laced up my running shoes to give my body another pounding in the woods. I love trail running – there is nothing like being out in the Gatineau Park surrounded by lush greenery with only the sound of your footfalls and breath to keep you company.

If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to get back to this by the end of July. Yes, that is a long time from now. I have to miss the race that I’d been training for with my super running pal. I have to miss out on our epic Saturday morning runs and chats at the coffee shop in Chelsea. I have to miss out on the Tuesday night trail runs with some many invigorating people. I have to miss out. Right now, I can’t even ride my bike.

Very frustrating. But please don’t read this as a tale of woe. Read this as a cautionary tale. You don’t want to be like me – missing out on the best of the summer because you did a number of silly and stupid things that culminated in an injury. So just as a reminder here is a don’t list for you:

  1. Don’t increase your running mileage by more than 15 minutes every two weeks. And this doesn’t mean that if you’re doing a two-hour long run on Saturdays that adding in an additional two-hour long run on Friday is okay.
  2. Don’t start running in zero drop shoes for every run. Transition into them. Follow the guidelines that come with the shoes. Don’t think that you won’t get injured. Because, you will.
  3. Don’t ignore your stretching and mobility routine. You’re not a spring chicken and your muscles, tendons, and joints need some love and care. If after driving home from the Gatineau Park after a Tuesday night run, you find it hard to get out of your car and untie your shoes – you’re likely tight and need to stretch.
  4. Don’t subscribe to the more is better approach. While I agree that more peanut butter and more chocolate are always better, this is not the case for running and especially for new runners.
  5. Don’t assume that a training system you used for bike racing will work for running. While back-to-back hard and long days worked on the bicycle and gave you lots of fitness, don’t assume this approach will work when running. Especially if you’ve got soft fragile feet that are used to being pampered in cycling shoes.

If like me, you make a mistake and do one or all of the above, remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Your life is not ruined and over. There are lots of other things you can do, such as: Yin yoga, kayaking, riding a bike with flat pedals, foam rolling, stretching. and remembering how lucky you truly are to even be in this position.

(A huge thanks to everyone who has emailed, called, texted, Tweeted, and commented on Facebook. I’m icing, seeing a physiotherapist, foam rolling, stretching, resting, and seeing a podiatrist – hopefully all of this will speed things along so I can get back outside and play.)

Injured

So today this happened:

http://www.strava.com/activities/153785079

It was not what I had planned. My plan was to enjoy a nice ride to Merrickville. I got up at the crack of dawn and was out the door by around 7. I lasted around 20 minutes before I turned around….

I’ve got a running injury – two very sore achilles tendons. I’m guessing it is achilles tendonitis (hoping to get in for a physio appointment tomorrow). I haven’t run since Tuesday – I’ve been icing, foam rolling, using compression, stretching, and rubbing in Voltaren. I’m starting to think that my achilles tendon’s are feeling better – but I’m not sure….

On Saturday I got out on my mountain bike for the first time. I didn’t do a real technical ride – just a nice steady and somewhat hilly ride from Champlain Lookout to the Fire Tower. I thoroughly enjoyed this and my achilles felt really good. So today the road ride made sense. Well, I think my road shoes must fit more snuggly than my mountain bike shoes and this put some pressure on my heels – which caused this dull nagging pain.

The kind of dull nagging pain that a few years ago (likely even last year), I would have ignored… but this year I’m trying to be smarter. You see I’ve got the Ultimate XC coming up in a few weeks. On June 28 I’ll be running 21 km over rather rugged and technical trails. I want to be ready for this. I’ve done the training – got in some good long runs., some excellent back-to-back long runs, been working on technical running skills, been running up lots of hills, practicing fueling and drinking. So I’m ready. Except for this little problem. I know it will work itself out and I’ll be there on the 28th, but the waiting and the resting is really hard to do.

I’ve got lots of other stuff I want to do this summer – a couple more local trail running events, mountain biking, some cyclo-cross riding, more road rides, and I’m looking ahead to doing another 21 km or so trail race in the late fall. So I guess now is the time to heal up and get recovered.

(Yes, feeling a bit frustrated with this entire thing. But I’ll take being injured over being sick anyday.)

Oh and it’s Father’s Day!! Happy Father’s Day Dad!

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