On Self-Doubt

It seems to happen ever so slowly. Sneaking up very quietly. When you’re not watching. All of a sudden it’s in your head and you can’t shake it. You talk to yourself about it. You think about it. You know it’s not rational. But still you can’t shake it. It eats at you. It starts to consume you. It percolates into everything you do. Suddenly you’re stuck. You can’t move. You feel like you’ve lost it. You’re scrambling. You don’t know what to do.

Guess what? You’re human. This happens to everyone. (Why do you think I’m writing about it? Why do you think it’s been so long since my last blog post?)

Goddamned self-doubt. No matter what I say or do, it’s there. Like a big black cloud, ready to erupt and soak through to the bone. I trust in the process. I know there’s a plan. But still. I’ve got it eating at me. My numbers. Oh the numbers. The damn numbers. I need more watts. I need less kilos. I need. I need.

Really? Do I really need this? Why not just be so thrilled to be pedaling? Why not be ecstatic about the freedom to ride? Why is this not enough? Because I’m human. I want. I want. I want more. I want to be the best I can be.

Am I doing enough? Should I do more yoga? Should I rest more? What if I eat less carbs? Maybe I need to read about fat adaptation? Maybe I should take some different supplements? Maybe my saddle is not in the exact right spot? How can I make my technique better and smoother? How? How?

Yes, that self-doubt is there. It’s around me. But all I can do is all I can do. (A smart guy keeps telling me this.) But sometimes it isn’t enough. I’m smart – I know this stuff. But still.

It’s tempting to pack it in. To modify the goals. To adjust my expectations. But then what? What have I got? What am I doing?

It’s silly yes. I know this. But I can’t help it. I wonder if everyone feels like this? Or maybe I’m the only one? Do other people line up and feel like they’re either going to barf or crap their shorts? Am I the only one questioning if I’m strong enough? If I’m fast enough? If I’m ever going to be thin enough? If these damned shorts make my legs look massive? If today will be the day when I just feel good out there?

Where does that confidence that the others have come from? What are they doing to get this confidence? I need. I want. Please?

Time Flies

12 days since my last post? Yeesh, remember when I used to post everyday? I guess either I have less to say or I’ve got more things on the go… oh well, I’m here now so that’s a good thing.

It was while I was driving into work this morning that I realized I hadn’t posted in a while. Isn’t it interesting how our minds drift while we’re driving? Zooming down the highway at 120 km/hour and our brains are doing a big old dance in side our heads bouncing around from thought-to-thought. Sometimes I realize too late that I didn’t even hear the lyrics to the song that was being played or I missed the news update entirely – because my brain was too busy chattering. Not good. Something I definitely need to work on – being fully in the present.

Speaking of the present, life is good these days. I finally feel that I’m at a point where my health is stable. Very stable. I often forget that technically I am still a sick person. When I think back to the roller coaster I’ve been on for too many years with this ulcerative colitis, I can honestly say that I didn’t ever really believe I could be in a stable remission for so long. I do know that this could all come crashing down any day, but I can’t worry about this. Take the day for what it gifts me and do my best with it – this is the only way I’ve figured out how to live with chronic disease.

I’ve been riding. Riding a lot again. I’m loving it. Slowly but surely my legs are starting to wake up. I’ve got a long way to go to get back to where I finally feel fit and strong again. But, there are steady improvements and this is very encouraging. When I started on this path of training with my old coach Steve Weller again after a long hiatus, I really didn’t know how my body would respond. Would I end up flaring again? Could my body tolerate the training load and stress? Could I handle it mentally? Well, so far so good. I crave riding and training right now. This is a great thing.

One thing I’ve stopped doing is running. My running days are long behind me. When I came back from Mexico in March I developed some intense foot pain in my right arch. It was so sharp that it hurt to just do nothing. After many physiotherapy treatments and discussions with my physiotherapist, I decided to hang up my trail running shoes. It’s interesting I don’t actually miss running… I miss being in nature. But that’s okay because very soon it will be mountain bike season and I’ve got a very sharp and swank Opus 29er in my garage that is begging to be ridden. (Taking it out Limerick tomorrow for a fun little recovery ride.) I noticed today that the nagging hamstring pain I couldn’t shake, the residual calf tightness, the slightly sore lower back and my foot pain have finally all subsided – all signals that stopping running was the smartest choice for me.

Life hasn’t been all about biking and not running… Nope, I’ve been busy with normal adult stuff like colouring. Yes, colouring. I’m hooked on the adult colouring craze. Honestly, it is so relaxing and meditative. I can colour for a good couple of hours and my mind is completely quiet. No chatter at all. I used to knit, and I enjoyed it but I never found it to be that relaxing – I’m slow at it and I could never just groove into it. But with colouring all I have to do is choose a colour and fill in the white space. Going over the lines is completely okay as well!

To feed my sense of wanderlust, I started reading Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn (thanks to Kim for the recommendation). In this memoir Carrot writes about her experience hiking the Pacific Coast Trail. This book is a great read. Carrot’s website is very interesting as well.

Alright, this is getting a bit wordy (even for me). I hope you’re having a good one and making the best of the day.

It’s A Promising Day

“It’s a promising day” – this comes from the last line of an email I received this morning from my mom. This email and this sentence came at the perfect moment – I was feeling a bit moody and in a funk. I have no idea why – I woke up like this and I simply couldn’t shake this for-no-good-reason mood.

As is typical for me, a bike ride, some sunshine, some good podcasts and a bit of sweat contributed to turning me around. I kept on repeating “it’s a promising day” in my head as I was pedaling and soon enough I could feel myself feeling better and happier.

I’ll leave you with this video that features an ultrarunner named Anton Krupicka who I think is a very interesting fellow. He sums up nicely in this short video what it is that makes for a promising day (and life).

(I tried to embed the video but for some reason the Vimeo iframe code simply wasn’t working…)

The Scoop

Time flies… guess it’s been a while since my last post, update, rambling words.

Hmm, well what to tell you?

I’ve been riding a bunch. Thanks to the super guidance from coach Steve Weller, I can feel my legs getting sharper and my confidence growing. I must say it is super duper fantastic to be outside again. I knew I’d get a comfortable outdoor ride in before my birthday – and it happened on April 11. Cut it close this year, but close is better than nothing.

It’s so refreshing to be back out riding with a little bit of fitness and strength – it really does make the pedaling so much more enjoyable. My favourite ride so far was my birthday ride. I took a round-about way to get through Richmond and Munster Hamlet, finally arriving at Quitters Coffee in Stittsville for a birthday treat (best chocolate muffin and chai latte ever) and then it was just a short pedal down Shea Road to get home.

Speaking of birthdays… mine was pretty fantastic. Enjoyed a great Sunday night dinner with friends and a relaxing day on the 13th – the highlights being my ride, hanging out with Marc and most delicious cake at Oh So Good. Today a couple of colleagues surprised me with a birthday cake – so super thoughtful. (I like that they tried to get the healthiest cake possible – they chose a fruit flan. Good choice!)

In between the riding and cake eating, I’ve discovered a most excellent way to unwind and destress… Colouring. Yes, colouring. This is so darn relaxing and dare I say it, meditative. While I don’t have the famous Secret Garden colouring book by Johanna Bassford, I do have the second best thing – a book of 20 postcards excerpted from the Secret Garden colouring book. These postcards are a great way to break back into colouring (I think it’s been at least 30 years since I last coloured) because they are not very big and there is a range of detail in the cards.

Admittedly, this beautiful weather has brought with it some tough moments. I’m really missing our Murphy right now. He loved being outside during the spring – patrolling his backyard, hunting earthworms, smelling the grass, and keeping an eye on the neighbourhood. Normally we’ve been out enjoying our deck and the front porch – hasn’t happened yet this year… I plan to get out there this weekend and enjoy it. It won’t be the same without our Murphy.

(I am now trying really hard to think of something positive and uplifting to write. But frankly, I’m at a loss and have nothing to tell you.)

Go hug your cat. Give your dog a treat. Go kiss your kids. Hold onto your favourite people and pets.

An End to Rushing

Last night before I went to bed I wrote a rather long and itemized “to do” list for the weekend…. I thought writing everything down would help me relax and chill out. Nope. The opposite happened.

I was in bed planning out the next four days. Trying to figure out how to cram in everything I “wanted” to do: yoga, bike riding, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, hanging out with friends, freelance writing, newspaper reading, taking a long bath, book reading, Remicade appointment, blog writing…

Needless to say, I ended up staying later than I had planned and had a rather fitful sleep.

On Thursday I had planned my Friday to be: early morning ride, freelance writing, yoga, lunch, meet up with friends in the afternoon, and more freelance writing.

Well, it’s Friday and this plan is not happening. Something clicked in my brain when I woke up this morning. I decided to figure out what on my list of “to do’s” was most important in enabling me to have a relaxing and fruitful four days. Freelance writing. Get this all done this morning and then the weekend is mine.

So, as much as I wanted to go to yoga today. I know that I can go tomorrow and Monday morning (especially if I get this writing done). I will ride my bike but instead I’ll ride my Barrhaven bike outside – I can enjoy the fresh air and get some easy relaxation into my heart and soul. I can enjoy my meet-up with friends without obsessing over what I have to do in the afternoon.

Sigh of relief. For too long I’ve lived my life with “to do” lists and things I had “to do”. Not anymore. There I things I want to do. There is nothing that I absolutely need to do. (Okay, working, sleeping, eating are things I need to do – but you know what I mean.) If the laundry doesn’t get done – oh well – I can do it tomorrow. There is no point in rushing to get to yoga and getting home afterwards – kind of defeats the purpose of yoga… Same goes for the bike riding – this is my priority since I’m in training mode but when it’s a recovery/rest day – I should respect this and not get up at the crack of dawn to ride for 45 minutes on the trainer.

Suddenly just by writing all this down I feel taller and lighter. I’m also writing this down so I can be held accountable. If you sense that I’m sliding into my life-long habits – hit me on the head with this blog post. I’m serious. It’s easy to slip back into old habits and I know that my health and well-being will be so much better if I can just let go of the constant “to do’s”.

Still Here, Waiting Patiently

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It’s been a while since I posted. When I last posted I was high on my recent trip to Mexico. Well, I guess I should warn you that I’m still riding that same Mexican high. I guess this is a true sign of a good vacation if weeks later I’m still thinking about the good times I had and the people I got to meet and know better.

As for what’s happening right now… Well, I’m patiently waiting for spring to arrive so I can get out and ride. I know that lots of people in Ottawa have already been out riding – but I haven’t been out yet. Either I’m working during the really nice warm days or my work-out is one that is not well suited to the not-really-that-warm spring temperatures. There is nothing worse than doing intervals and then getting cold afterwards.

So, instead I’m getting comfortable with Zwift Island. I must admit when Marc first showed me Zwift, I was a bit skeptical. But now I’m full-on hooked. The time rips by and I find the course to be ideal for all types of work-outs. This morning I had to do a steady 90 minute endurance ride and normally this would drag on and feel a bit endless – not with Zwift – in fact, I had to make myself stop riding at the 90 minute mark. (But don’t get me wrong – I wont to get outside….)

Hmm, what else? Well, I’m busy with lots of freelance writing – so this is a good thing. I really appreciate the variety that my freelance writing clients offer me – it’s super important to me that I can develop both my technical writing skills as well as my general online communication skills with ghost blogging, online columns, and newsletter content.

Most of you know that I recently started volunteering at the Parkdale Food Centre and now you can read all about my experiences there, in the latest blog post up on the site. This is a tremendously valuable organization in our city and my Tuesday nights have become super fulfilling and rewarding.

Really, that’s about all that’s going on. We did book our accommodation and flights for our summer vacation. Let’s just say I’m very happy I have a compact crank on my bike now. I think I’ll need it for two weeks of riding split between the Alps and Provence!

Well, this has really been a mishmash of a blog post. But that’s just the way life is sometimes. A mishmash of stuff that when it is all summed up it equals a pretty darn fortunate life.

Happy Easter to you and your family. Hopefully there will be a Mr. Solid (eat the ears first) in your Easter basket on Sunday morning. And if you’re looking for the footprints that the Easter Bunny leaves – good luck – I was never able to spot them. Maybe it’s the kind of Easter Bunny that flies – this would explain the egg laying…

Rested and Recharged

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I’ve been home from my trip to Puerto Morelos, Mexico for a week now… and I have to say it was super fantastic trip. It was just what I needed to really hit the reset button in what has been a rather tough 2015.

Sometimes a complete departure from reality is really needed to realize how fortunate you are. This is what this trip gave me. A week-long yoga retreat on the coast of Mexico, surrounded by palm trees, sand, the ocean and lots of smiling faces – can’t get much better.

I did things on this vacation that I’ve never done before. In fact this was my first time travelling south. I swam in the ocean everyday (hadn’t swam in about 10 years). I went snorkelling and swimming at a cenote. Visited a Mayan village in Coba. I also disconnected more than I’ve had from the Internet.

Our days were spent doing yoga, swimming in the ocean, exploring the town, going on excursions, eating amazing food, sitting around and chatting, and simply relaxing. It was a busy but relaxing busy trip. I got out for some early morning runs on the beach – it’s very meditative to run in the dark with only the sounds of the waves to keep you company.

I went on this yoga retreat to Casa OM with my mom – this was super special. We try and do a trip together every couple of years and this like the others was a brand new location for both of us. Previously we’ve visited San Francisco and New York City. I think this one ranks pretty close to the top when it comes to new experiences and discoveries. (The super hot habanero sauce experience likely won’t ever be repeated!)

I’ve pretty much been talking about my trip non-stop. Poor Marc, I think he is tiring of hearing about Mexico (maybe he’ll be convinced to come next time…). It was that good.

I feel ready and recharged to focus on my 2015 goals and to start working on some real positive change.