Cold Days

I don’t know about you but I’m about done with winter. In fact, I can honestly write that I never ever want to see a snowflake again. Yep, I’m over winter and snow. Really, not to be all negative but I simply don’t like being cold.

I like warm. I can handle humid. I’ll even take some rain. Just no snow, two hour shovelling stints and below zero days.

The one thing that is keeping me sane this winter is Zwift. Yep, I’m hooked on riding in the basement and going deep into the world of Zwift. Now I don’t do the group rides or races. I simply get on, start pedaling and do my work-out for the day. I have jumped in with a group and it’s pretty cool but if the pace is not right for me, I’m happy to wave good-bye. Along with this Zwifty riding I also use Netflix for company. Television has Zwift and the  computer monitor has Netflix.

I’ve pedaled through a lot of excellent programming this winter. In case you’re interested, here are some good programs to fill the trainer time (or treadmill time):

  • Happy Valley – excellent British police drama. I really hope there is a second season.
  • Dicte – top-notch Danish police drama.
  • Last Tango in Halifax – funny and honest British drama that shows life like it is.
  • Wallander – this is an excellent Swedish police/crime show. The episodes are long and there are only three per season. Can be a bit more gruesome than Canadian programming but, this aside, it’s good watching.
  • I’ve also watched a bunch of documentaries: Cowspiracy, Mission Blue, Searching for Sugarman, Clean Spirit, Pantani,  and Stop at Nothing.
  • For movies, I’ve watched: Life of Pi (second time watching this), McFarland (kind of cheesy but good),  and Margin Call (if you watched The Big Short you’ll enjoy this).

In between this riding, I’ve been relaxing with my increasing pile of colouring books and trying out new recipes. I’ve just done a four week gluten-free challenge/test to see how if I feel any differently without gluten in my body. Well, I think I do. We went to Albany, NY on Thurs/Fri and I ate pretty much whatever I wanted and this included some regular bread and some gluten-laden dessert. Verdict is: I feel better without gluten in my body. And to be honest, I don’t really miss it. It makes it so much easier to avoid the office temptations (I have an extreme weakness for crackers…). The only things I do miss are my favourites at our local Greek restaurant, but I can adjust.

During this gluten-free test I also learned that my iron is quite low (8)… But because I’m not anemic, my doctor really isn’t concerned. Well, I’m concerned so I’m also trying to get this number to get into the solid double digits. As a result I’ve been experimenting with teff (high in iron), adding in more lentils, paying attention to my Vitamin C, eating pumpkin seeds, and mixing up my greens (forgot how much I enjoy Swiss Chard and have started using Collard Greens for my wraps). I’m also taking a liquid iron supplement and making sure I’m getting lots of liquid Vitamin D and B12.

If you’re curious about some of the recipes I’ve been trying out and have on my list to try, here you go:

That’s about it from me. Oh and to keep warm I’m enjoying Crio Bru and turmeric milk (find the recipe on Natasha Kyssa’s Facebook page – lots of other excellent recipes there as well).

Well, for all you winter fans – I hope you’re having an excellent winter. I’m having a good one as well – it’s just an indoor winter rather than an outdoor winter.

 

On Hold

Life feels like it is on hold right now. Sure I’m still doing all the stuff I normally do, but in between all of this, I’m waiting.

I’m waiting for phone calls, appointments, follow-ups and decisions.

I need an MRI to find out if there is anything “funky” happening in my spine that could be causing this ridiculous nerve pain in my right quad and the pins/needles/numbness in my left quad.

I’m waiting for my surgical consult. I met with my gastro doctor on Wednesday and a lot of decisions were made. I’ve stopped taking Entyvio (new medication that I started in September). I’m going to have surgery and have my colon removed. I’ll eventually end up with a j-pouch (part of my small intestine is used to create a new “colon”). This requires two surgeries and a good chunk of recovery time.

Because I’ve stopped taking Entyvio (which was the last really good drug choice I had), I’m taking two other drugs in hopes that these will keep me in a “remission” until my first surgery date. No one knows if these drugs will keep me stable long enough. There is a plan if I do end up “flaring” before my surgery, but we really don’t want to go down this road.

It’s now that I really feel deeply the impacts of this disease.

All of these unknowns and waiting for appointments and dates, mean that Marc’s life is also on hold. There might not be any riding in France for him this summer (though I think he should still go with his Belgian friends (hint, hint)), his summer racing plans and training are likely going to be impacted, and who knows about cyclocross season.

But, the reality is we can’t just sit and wait. Life has to keep moving forward. So until we have results and dates, we have to keep doing what we do.

Quiet

I was just out for a walk and I realized I hadn’t written anything in a couple of weeks. I guess this is not a big deal. Does feel odd to me though. This lack of writing got me thinking about this space and what it is now. Initially, this website started as a way for me to share my cyclocross racing adventures with you. It became a place for me to let it all hang out – the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad and the awesome. It’s been quite a journey really. Now that I’m no longer racing cyclocross at the same level, my writing frequency has tapered off. I suppose this is because I really wasn’t sure what I could write about.

But really, I’m not sure that the rumblings in my head are really that interesting any more. Nonetheless, I’ll keep the website going and I expect you’ll see more frequent posts in the summer and fall when I’m out riding and racing agin. Yes, racing again – I’m training again with my old coach Steve Weller of Bell Lap Coaching. I’ve just completed my second week of real structured training and it has gone really well. It’s so refreshing to have daily bike goals again and to have longer term goals that extend into the summer and fall. I’ve got a couple of big goals that I’d like to accomplish. They’re far-reaching but I’ve been down this road before so I know what I have to do. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to share these goals with you yet. In fact, I don’t know if I will. A few people know what these goals are, but I guess because they seem pretty huge to me, I’m not ready to toss them out into the Internet. Suffice it to say, I want to win bike races again.

Alright, so what else is happening? Well, Marc is back home (hip hip hooray)! He had a pretty darn awesome time Belgium. I can’t thank his hosts Nick and Romina enough, they made his time there very easy and enjoyable. While it is very hard to be apart for four weeks, it is so worth it when I get to hear about Marc’s cyclocross races, the friends he had reconnected with, the rides he has gone on, the adventures he’s had with day-to-day living in Belgium, and just hearing how happy he is.

Hmm, what else? Well, here’s a very succinct snapshot of what has got my attention these days:

Watching: Making a Murderer and Dicte
Reading: The World of Cycling According to G (thanks Treena for the loan) and just finished 21 Cardinals (incredible novel) up next Birdie by Tracy Lindberg
Riding: Zwift, Zwift, and more Zwift
Following: too many pro cyclists to name, but a few who stand out: Mike Woods, Nikki Harris, Helen Wyman, Lizzie Armitstead, Karol Ann Canuel
Colouring: I’ve got three colouring books on the go (yes, I know): Lost Oceans, The Secret Garden, and Fantastic Cities
Listening: so many podcasts, highlights being: Back Story, Fresh Air, The Last Chapter, CXhairs, All Songs Considered and music, including: Adele, The Watchmen, Mumford & Sons, O.A.R, City and Color, INXS, CBC Radio 2
Going: Toronto to see The Watchmen at the Danforth, Albany, NY to see O.A.R, England with my mom to visit my aunt and uncle, France to ride bikes with Marc, Montreal to see Adele (yes, I got Adele tickets!!!)
Eating: been 98% vegan for over two months now, so far so good – feeling good and I’ve been gluten-free for six days now – easier than I thought it would be (though I miss eating at Cosmo’s and Shaan)
Doing: physio – I’ve got what we think is a compressed nerve in my right quad… but now both my physio and I think the pins/needles and full-on numbness in my right leg could be caused by my ulcerative colitis medication
Drinking: Crio Bru – made from cacao beans, this is my go-to drink morning, noon and night – so delicious
Chasing: Calvin the cat, this cat has more energy than any other cat I know!
Missing: Murphy, this is a tough month for us

And that’s it! Hmm, 706 words – guess I did have something to say after all.

It’s A New Year!

Woohoo, it’s a New Year!! Yay, everyone is so excited (insert sarcasm here)…

As you can likely guess, I’m not one to get worked up about New Year’s resolutions. Frankly I think these end up putting most everyone on a path to failure and self-loathing. So here are my thoughts on it all:

Don’t try to invent yourself into a super-duper fantastic version of you for 2016. Just be you. Be happy with who you are. This is enough. By accepting yourself and being yourself, good things will happen for you and those around you. Happiness and self-acceptance does wonders.

Merry Christmas

I hope you’re having a super time this holiday season. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, smile and take it all in.

Thinking of Marc who is in Belgium racing cyclocross. I’m so very happy he has this opportunity. Listening to him telling me about his races, training rides and other adventures and hearing the excitement in his voice is the best gift. I’m proud of him, it’s not easy to be away from family and friends at this time of the year. A big thank you to Nick and Romina who have welcomed Marc into their home. 

  
Merry Christmas favourite guy. 

It’s About the People

Visiting Prague between a World Cup trip Photo by Gregg Germer

Visiting Prage During a Czech Republic World Cup Trip
Photo by Gregg Germer

I’ve said all along that one of the best things to come out of my years of racing cyclocross in Ottawa and in Belgium has been the people I’ve met. I’ve made some life long friends thanks to the pursuit of riding around and chasing the fun.

One of these friends is Gabby Durin. I can’t remember when I first met Gabby, I think it was likely 2008 at Overijse… I was there with Jos and I had just raced my first UCI elite women’s race. I remember the crazy intense course, the crowds, seeing Lars Boom slap his face, and the excitement of that first big race.

Over the years of racing, I got to know Gabby more and we spent some great time together in Czech Republic back in 2010 and 2011 racing the World Cups in Tabor and Plzen. A lot has changed in a few years and now Gabby is living in the United States and I’ve seen her at races in New England and in Winnipeg a few times. Through out this time, I’ve always followed her on social media and kept in touch.

On Wednesday, Gabby posted a blog post that I know was a cathartic but challenging post to write. She put herself out there and told us honestly what the last few years have been like for her. Not many people can do this. It’s easier to hide behind excuses rather than say it like it is.

I asked Gabby if I could link to her blog post because I think it is one that people should be reading and thinking about. Thank you Gabby for the honesty and for putting yourself out there – not many can – hopefully this will encourage others to do it.

Read this: Closing A Chapter And Starting A New

Gabby also gave a very good interview with CX Magazine: Exclusive: Gabby Durrin Talks Retirement, Battling Depression And New Chapters

Thanks Gabby for the awesome times on and off the bike. Keep smiling and living life to the max.

Soapbox Time

I think that around this time every year I wonder to myself, wow that year went fast. 2015 is no exception. This has been a year filled with more than I could have imagined.

Admittedly, when I planned ahead in early January 2015, I didn’t a year like I’ve just had. But, this is the spice of life – if everything went according to plan, life would be a bit boring. And if there is one thing I strongly dislike it’s routine. So while, the bike stuff didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned, so many other fantastic things happened over this past year that it’s a real challenge to feel sorry for myself.

This is particularly the case when I open the newspaper or turn on the radio and learn more about the terrible things happening around the world and right here in Canada. Learning about the challenges and extremely hard times others are dealing with, really does give me a dose of perspective. This is why I’m going to plug to groups to you: the Parkdale Food Centre – I’ve been volunteering here since January and this food bank is doing amazing things for its community (donate via the Reverse Food Truck and sponsor a family or buy some bananas) and Feedfive – this is a group of friends who have been gathering together every month to cook and serve meals in their local homeless shelter, the Ray of Hope community centre in downtown Kitchener, ON (buy a t-shirt from feedfive, buying a t-shirt feeds five people).

So yeah, maybe I didn’t get to race the race I wanted and maybe there have been days when I’ve felt pretty rotten. But geez, I’ve got a nice house, a fridge full of food, and a good job… kind of hard to feel badly about this.

I’m looking forward to 2016, a year that will surely be filled with lots of great stuff, and most importantly, I hope to continue to get some good doses of perspective.