Monday, December 29, 2014

Maybe everything isn't hopeless bullshit

As I wait for the year to end, with a mix of trepidation and dreariness, I try to gather my thoughts before they blow up like fireworks. It's been a hell of a month, and I chose to stay away from this empty page where words would have collided and bounced between invisible walls, not padded enough to slow them down. There are days that I am so much, even for myself. An ongoing struggle, but still alive. But this too shall pass, and I may be finally ready to put my foot down and say Enough.
However this is a fitness related blog and the musings of my troubled noggin are for my therapist instead. I haven't seen one in 5 years, but I may need to go back for a reboot of sorts. We shall see... for now I am still putting all my hopes into the running therapy that I should be able to start again on January 1st.

Speaking of which, there is a slight chance that does not happen, and I am not trying to be pessimistic for no reason, but my body decided to give me one more challenge just because it can. On Dec 26, also the day of my 17th wedding anniversary, I decided to brave the crowds and go to Yorkdale Mall for a trip to Lululemon to spend a gift card that one of my friends had bought for me earlier this year. The trip was somewhat successful, in the fact that I spent out of my pocket only $75 bucks, between one new Scuba Hoodie and a onesie from Bluenotes. A what? Yes, you heard me right - a onesie. Or a cowsie to be more precise.
I came back home, changed into my new outfit, had lunch and selfied with hubbs for the official anniversary photo. So far so good.
Then I sat down and watched a movie... and out of the blue, an hour or two later, my ankle started hurting like mad. I could not put the foot down, ouch ouch ouch, and I kept limping around for the rest of the day. I can only take a guess about what happened... maybe something in my foot got a cramp from driving around, or maybe I got off the couch on the wrong foot so to speak, or there was an evil intervention, whatever. It just happened. I iced, I elevated, took Ibuprofen... Still limping 3 days later. Of course it didn't help that I walked 5km on it on Saturday, but I had no choice, I had promised to take my family downtown to see the pretty Chrismas lights. Now it seems to be getting better for sure, but it's a slooooooow process. #FML.

Let's see what else happened since the last time I dumped my thoughts on this blog...

-Strength training has been going OK, and I know that I am getting stronger, but my butt cheeks and arms are also getting bigger. I have been having a hard time to find pants and shirts that fit. I try to fit in at least 2 to 3 sessions of 30min strength training a week.

-Weight has also been going steadily up and once I reached 145lb I hit the PANIC button and signed up for nutrition coaching with the lovely Georgie Fear, whose book "The Racing Weight Cookbook" has been an eye opener that you don't need a Whole 30-Paleo-no sugar-high fat-low carb diet to be happy and lose weight. All you need is good, healthy, sustainable habits for the rest of your life. Official program starts on Jan 5, but I have been enjoying a few 1:1 free coaching weeks with Brandice for now. It's been great. I already mastered the habit of having veggies with both lunch and dinner and now I am working on a habit of having at least 20-30g of protein with every breakfast. Go me!!

-Biking has been going well too, with 1-2 sessions of 1.5h a week of pretty hard trainer workouts, either with the triathlon club or with Trainer Road in my Pain Cave. Not much to report, but I feel that I could bump up my FTP again... Will wait until the heart rate goes down again though... still not liking to do my VO2max intervals around 190bpm. If you are curious, check out my TR Career page.

-Swimming... well, it's there, when I find the motivation to go. I've been going religiously every Sunday morning at 7am with the club for 1h, but Tuesday nights have been rather hit and miss. It doesn't help that my new job drains me of every ounce of energy that I have, but that's what I get for being a bigger boss. Not complaining, nope nope nope.

-I also go for walks whenever I can to let my thoughts breathe... Inhale. Exhale. Keep it Zen, shake it out, don't let the screws get too lose. Or something like that. I even meditated once, but thankfully I was in my bed when that happened.

What else??

I finally got to try Osmo Nutrition, after hearing the glowing reviews from all over the Interwebz. Unfortunately I could not use the Acute Recovery formula because it's based on milk protein (damn you dairy allergy!), but the Preload and Active Hydration have been doing the trick! Most surprising has been the Active Hydration mix - I thought that I would hate the Mango taste, but it's actually very light and I even liked it, whereas the Preload has more of an acquired taste even though it was supposed to be more familiar.
We'll see how it goes, but I don't have any concerns for now about the product. Most likely I will write a more detailed review once I finish the containers. ;-)

Another notable bit of news is that I made the Coeur Ambassador Team again this year. My jaw just about dropped when I saw the news. I've always considered myself an underdog, and I probably won't have the answer as to "why me", but it made me very very happy and I could not be more grateful to Kebby and Hailey for trusting me to spread my #heartandcourage around. I am looking forward to sharing the Coeur colors with my friend Carol who also made the team. Two crazy Canucks rocking the #stylishspeed hashtag, watch out world.
With this update, my friends, and to quote the lovely and talented Allie Brosh, maybe everything isn't hopeless bullshit after all.

I have a few challenging races lined up for the 2015 season, rockstar friends who continue to fill my life with sweaty smiles and good cheer, I am working with people who I fully trust to make me stronger, faster, leaner - and have a successful comeback to all things source of endorphins. I have the most amazing husband and kids, a new and challenging career, and enough gear to last me a few good years. It can only go up from here. Yippee ki yay, motherf*ers.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Daily Struggle

The winter season is here and I am not even going to bother mentioning fall again since we got our first snow today. The last post should have plenty of fall in it anyway. So... winter. Winter blues, the seasonal affective disorder... or should we call it the off-season affective disorder? For me it's more of the latter, but what else is new? I always struggle in the off season. I struggle with my weight, my motivation, my goals. Now add very stressful work days to the mix and not being able to run and you get a big old pile of mess that gets stinkier every day.  Maybe I should compost myself since I cannot remain composed. Ha!

But let's see if I can put a positive spin on this post before it gets too late.

First, I have a somewhat structure of a plan going on, that I have to poop out of my head every week and it hurts my brain so much, you have no idea. I do strength training, some swimming, some biking, some walking combined with geocaching and soul searching, and when I'm desperate, some ellipticalling. Being self coached is definitely not working for me. Recently, I even thought of my training being somewhat alike to Cody Beals's experience:
Back in my self-coached days prior to this season, there was a cycle that repeated again and again: several days to weeks of impressive looking training followed by an unplanned collapse. These bouts of physical and mental fatigue would derail me for a few days, blowing gaping holes in my training before the cycle would begin anew. It wasn't a very enjoyable or productive way to train.
I had a few such collapses this season, but I think that I finally started to adapt a little. It's a long process, I know.

Cody's suggestion?
As we all settle in for a long winter of training, I encourage everyone to find a training plan that they can execute like clockwork.
No kidding. I know this is exactly what I need. But since my Goal #1 is to get stronger, and NOT triathlon training, how can I get off this spinning wheel that tells me that I MUST swim/bike/run for X number of hours a week so I can just FUNCTION? Nothing else motivates me. Nothing. Maybe the glimmer of hope that one day I can run again. That's it. If it weren't for my knees, I would have quit this program a thousand times already. Prior to this goal, it was simple : keep moving!! And I'm not the only one... Just as I was writing this post, I came across Jennifer's post from Kinetic Fix. I can't believe how many people around me are affected, and the SADness just started for crying out loud!!

Speaking of which, I had way too many crying spells which got me into trouble more than once. There is no easy way out. But for me, being outside, breathing the fresh air, even for an hour or two, makes everything 1000 times better. So given that I spend 9h/day stuck in a chair at the office, going outside for a walk or a hike, is a feat well worth mentioning in my training plan as BEST WORKOUT OF THE WEEK. I don't get to do it too often, but since I picked up geocaching again, I had a few more opportunities, like the Friday nights looking for tupperware in the woods with friends. Yes, at night. My kinda fun - preceded by a meet at Tim Hortons, warm tea in hand, talking about all geeky things. Jeez, these people even have me playing Ingress now, and there is some sort portal in the middle of my office where not many people have access. What am I getting myself into?? Then we go out for a few hours, and come back for another tea, maybe even a donut. Awesome times! Look, ma, I even found Ironman.
With the winter training programs that I am signed up with the FMCT tri club, I have now added swimming twice a week and spin classes twice a week, while I keep maintaining my focus on fitting 3 strength sessions in every week. I even started counting calories again, in the hope of losing those 10 pesky pounds that have put so much more stress on my knees this year. But overall, the feeling is the same: I don't know what the fuck I am doing. I just know that I MUST keep moving. My body, my mind tells me so. As soon as I give it too much rest, it starts squeaking like a rusty toy. Strength is the first priority, yes, but my mind's health comes before everything else.

Moving helps me discover all these places, which helps me feel alive, recharge my batteries and makes the world wonderful again. To many more days like these, even if it's 30 minutes at a time. Can I get an Amen?
Biking the Caledon Trailway
And seeing the sunset setting the trees on fire
Going across the Hwy10 overpass just one more time!
Is this a geocache? Yes it is!
And this is my trusty 20yr old hybrid bike Carrie
The day my beautiful Ginkgo tree lost all its leaves at once
The day I spent a few hours by the Bay
In the office, there are magic spots like this one.
The pool building in the blues of the morning
It's the prickly plants season
When the urban trails were still dry... soon to be covered in snow.
And have you seen the green at the end of this tunnel?
This free-for-all golf course sure knows how to stay green... just one more week.
Still with me? Glad I didn't lose you in the woods. See? I feel better already. Do you? Days come and go, and at the end of each of them, I try to take the positive and throw away the negative. The last few weeks have not been so great because a lot of the negativity started in the office and was staying with me all day long, but there is a silver lining to all this struggle, I know it. I started writing this blog post a few weeks ago and I thought of deleting it 12 times already, but this is how I exorcise my demons. I get it all out and I move on. Tomorrow is a new day. This week I am going to hit all my workouts again and thank my body once more for making me stronger each day.

It can only go up from here, yes it can. Salty ball, anyone? It's that season again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Living the Canadian Fall

After two blog posts without any photos, I am unleashing ALL THE FALL COLOURS with this one. Maybe I didn't pay much attention before, or maybe this year is indeed special, but I have been enjoying the show that Mother Nature has been putting on. Every time I step outside, it's like I'm seeing life through a kaleidoscope. And it's not just because of my sunglasses, I swear! See by yourselves.
So this was taken just this past weekend at Heart Lake conservation area where we went treetop trekking. Want to see more? Ok, don't go anywhere.
While hanging from tree to tree and zip-lining across Heart Lake is something you do maybe once or twice a year (I highly suggest the fall though!), biking has been on the menu pretty much every weekend as long as the weather permitted.

Did I already mention our ride through the Forks of the Credit "the hard way"? It was on October 4, but my legs are still crying and my heart still beating out of my chest when I remember how a police car sneaked behind me while I was taking some of these pictures (on my bike that is).
A week later we hit the road again, but this time we spent 2 good hours cleaning our club's adopted slice of Mississauga Road, since it's oh so pretty and it would be a shame to leave it "unattended" so to speak. We even pulled a full McDonald's trash can out of the ditch. Seriously, who put it there??
And because walking up and down Mississauga St. for 2h wasn't enough, we returned in the afternoon on our bikes. By 4pm it got a lot colder and windier, but the colors were still there to get immortalized.
This ride was both so painful and exhilarating, I beat a ton of Strava records and thought that I was going to be unable to walk for a week. If it had not been for that Ironman jersey and for Zin who offered to shelter me from the wind after having climbed enough hills to start bawling my eyes out, I would have abandoned after 2km and asked for a divorce. But thankfully we managed to get in time to a beautiful art gallery in Alton where we also found free coffee and enough mind blowing sculptures and paintings to reevaluate the effort that took us to get there and appreciate the 15 minutes spent inside away from the cold. My husband's kind of date, apparently. And did I mention yet another initiative by Brian from Erin Forks that we came across? #TubeItForward - how awesome is that?
Now for another kind of date, it wouldn't be a real fall blog post if it didn't include biking in the rain... but as long as we had good company (#theburlingtonskirtbrigade turned into #themiltonbikingbrigade), there was no reason to complain.
I won't go into much detail, but the picture above should speak for itself. We had a blast and I could not thank Nicole enough for organizing this get special together and allow us to share a meal on Thanksgiving day. So thankful for these gals!! Who said that blogging and Daily Mile doesn't lead to real life friendships? From left to right Nicole, Patty, Kim, yours truly, Emma and Sam.

The rest of the time spent outdoors this month was on the Caledon Trailway, on sherpa duty for Zin who is training for the Hamilton Half Marathon...

... and at work. On the days I was ready to lose it, I managed to take a walk by our pond with lots of ducks and a million of fish trapped inside until another winter comes along to turn them into meatcicles.
Inspired to go out for a walk before it is too late? Unless you live on the opposite side of the Earth, you definitely should! In retrospective, this foliage show-off has been ongoing for a while and with November around the corner, we're almost running out of time. Aren't we even changing hours this coming weekend? If you are stuck in an office, you won't even see daylight by the time you go back home. So here, put on an extra layer, a pair of warm shoes and maybe even a hat and gloves, but GO OUTSIDE! And if you really still don't see the colors, you may just be color blind and in this case... I feel sorry for you.