Emotional Workouts

To describe the events of the past few weeks would require many hours and countless visits to the online Thesaurus. I don’t recall a time when so many things happened in such a short period. The good, the bad, and the BEST! Through it all, I managed to stay alive, although my composure suffered a bit.

To spill the beans on the source of all the excitement….MY DAUGHTER GOT MARRIED! This was a good thing, no, A GREAT THING! I couldn’t be happier.

Best kiss eva

Best kiss eva

To celebrate the event, my entire clan drove or flew into Portland from 7 different states. This is the first time we have all been together-all at the same time in 17 years.DSC_0465We are a damned good looking family, if I do say so myself. The wedding went off without a hitch, which was a giant relief. We all had so much fun, and the party afterwards was memorable, to say the least. With all the dancing, my feet hurt for days.

The weeks leading up to the wedding were full of emotion, activity, details, and all sorts of stressful moments. I wouldn’t have changed a thing, though, except for the gallons of my shed tears. I often wondered how Mother’s of the Brides survived the ceremonies without large doses of prescription medications. I opted against that plan, although I did stock up on “mother’s little helpers” just in case. I chose to let my workouts do my therapy. Let the good times roll, baby. There’s nothing like a grown woman, sobbing while running her zone 2 work out. Yep, it happened.

One week before the wedding, I was completely out of my mind. I thought I was keeping a level head about the whole thing, but I still had to make my daughter’s veil, print the programs and seating cards, organize the balloon decoration delivery, fill 140 bags with candy, fix the hem on MY dress, make all of the flower centerpieces, AND the 7 bridal bouquets. All of this while working 10-12 hour days, and trying to fit in my workouts. Did I also mention that my large family started to arrive? Bodies in every bedroom? Washer and dryer running around the clock? Family members ages 4-80 crawling all over my house? Woohoo, Calgon, take me away.

I had one particularly difficult run that pretty much turned into my emotional breakdown of the century. I was out for a 1 hour run, in a zone 2 heart rate, with surges every 20 minutes. The first 20 minutes went fine. The next 10 were horrible, and by 35 minutes, I found myself on the bike path near my house, in full out sobbing mode. We’re talking hiccups and everything. there was no stopping me.

Oh yeah, full on, snot bubbling, choking tears

Oh yeah, full on, snot bubbling, choking tears

I didn’t even care what I looked like. People started swerving around me-it was that bad. This lasted until around 40 minutes, and by 45 minutes, I had given up all hope of running, and walked the last mile or so home. I repeated this one other time that week, much to my disgrace and embarrassment. I survived that day, and enlisted the help of my numerous sisters to lighten the load and get things done. Thank God for sisters…and mothers. My mom was always there asking what she could do to help. My family is amazing.

This week, I can feel the stress moving further away from me, as the wedding is over, the bride and groom are happy, and everyone traveled safely back to their respective homes. I did take 3 days off from my grueling work out schedule, but I am back now, abusing my body with Kettlebell, swim, run, and bike workouts. Today was a particularly hard run, but once it was over, I celebrated my success with a trip to the farmer’s market. Fresh Raspberries will always make you feel happy to be alive.

There are so many more things to write about regarding this wedding and the visit from my family, but right now, I am still basking in the utmost satisfaction of all the love that filled my house last week. That kind of love is  meant to be swallowed up and hugged tight. The memories are many, the tears still come, but they are tears of the overabundance of gratitude and unconditional love for a very large group of eccentric, silly, and wonderful people.A big THANKS to my mom and dad for having all of us!

 

Pardon Me, But I’m RACING Here. Running Ettiquette: Rules of the Race

It’s that time of year again. SPRING. Today marks the first day of Spring, and of course in the great Northwest, Spring has announced itself with the ever-traditional Monsoon storm of storms. We expect this here, just like we know that no matter how warm and beautiful our Octobers are, we can count on Halloween being just about the worst weather on record for the entire year. (We save a lot of money on kids’ costumes, and just dress them in raincoats and boots.) When you live here, you just have to know how to buy outerwear!

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Happy Spring!

Spring also marks the beginning of race season. If you are into organized races, you are probably scouring the Internet sites that advertise your favorite distance, and planning your life around training schedules, race schedules, and, oh yeah,the occasional family time.

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My Irish friend Suzanne and I after the 2012 Shamrock 15k. Cold, wet, shivering, and      loving every minute of it.

Last Sunday was Portland’s annual Shamrock Run. It was NOT raining, which is pretty much a miracle, and myself and 35,000+ close friends and acquaintances thought it would be a good idea to dress like goof balls, and run anywhere from  5k to a 15k, shoulder to shoulder, in the “almost” freezing temperatures. To be honest, I almost bagged the whole thing.

As you may know, I have been crawling slowly, back from an injury like many athletes do, from time to time. No matter how positive I try to be, it really does SUCK. (How’s that for motivating?) Most of my running buddies were doing the 15k and that started at 7:40 am. MY race this year was the 5k, which started at 9:20. DISCLAIMER: Since I had to sign up early in the year for this one, and it ALWAYS sells out, I chose the shortest distance, since I didn’t know if my Physical Therapist was even going to clear me for running by this time. When I woke up on Sunday, I was sore from having run 10 miles the day before. This is the furthest I have run, since starting up again a few weeks ago. So, my self talk went something like this: “It’s cold out. Your friends are all gathering early for photos and you are still home in your jammies.” “Why bother going at all? You are running by yourself.” “Just bag it, you’re sore from yesterday”…..and so on. I almost didn’t go, and then at 8:30, I slapped myself and got dressed. It was definitely cold out, but it wasn’t raining, and I didn’t know if I would ever run the Shamrock again without rain.

                                                                                                                          Getting ready to start

Getting ready to start, in my “toned down” costume.

I never remember how crowed this race actually is until I try to line up in the corral:

photo (3)I was pressing flesh with throngs of green clad crazies, all gussied up in and awaiting the start time. There was a great DJ getting everyone excited, live music, bag pipes-the works. It was festive, to say the least. I started smelling trouble however, when the DJ asked “Everybody that’s here to run the Shamrock for the very first time, raise your hands”. In a split second, I realized that I was surrounded by 12,000 people and just about 11,999 of them were here for the first time. Oh God, help me.

This was my view at the start. If you look really closely, you can almost see the actual starting line archway.

This was my view at the start. If you look really closely, you can almost see the actual starting line archway.

Purely for sanity reasons, I decided to try and wade my way to the front section of the line. This proved to be  impossible, but I gave it a gallant attempt. They started the race in waves every 30-90 seconds, and it took about 20 minutes for my wave to cross the starting line. To say that I was running at that point would be a lie. It took several blocks before I did anything that even resembled running. Here is where the etiquette lesson starts. NEWBIES, pay attention:

First off, KNOW your abilities. For Heaven’s sake, you signed up for a 5k RUN, not a 5k WALK. (For the record, there was a 5k walk and a 1k “Leprechaun Lap” for kids 12 and under and their adult companions.) Some people get all excited and sign up for these things thinking they will train,but never get around to it. Here’s the thing: while this might be a fun event, when you are walking 3 blocks after the start, holding hands 3 across, in the middle of the road, and stopping to turn around and see who’s behind you, you are causing a hazard. Before I got to the 1/2 mile mark according to my Garmin, I saw 2 people that had collapsed from exhaustion. Seriously??? Know your abilities, people, and act accordingly.

Know how to dress. Most races have groups of people in costume. I do my best to look like the biggest idiot of the bunch,  because I am an attention hog, but there are rules. (Well not really-but humor me here, ok?) I think Stacey and Clinton would have a hay day with this guy:denimDenim Cargo shorts? Really? I’ll bet THAT felt really good going up the hill! I saw lots of great costumes, as I always do, but I’m not that good with the camera while running and dodging people.

Honor the other runners’ race. Despite your own goals or lack thereof, most seasoned runners of all levels come to a race with some kind of goal in mind. Maybe it’s the first time they will run the distance without walking. Maybe it’s a celebratory race in honor of a loved one. Maybe they are trying to PR. It doesn’t matter, just make sure that YOU are aware of those around you. I can’t tell you how many times people stopped short right in front of me on Sunday. Then there’s the groups that HAVE to stay together and spread out across the whole street. My favorite is the family that decided to hold hands in the middle of the road and walk at mile 2.9, while most everyone else was just starting to pour it on for a strong finish. So here’s the deal: If you are struggling, (and most of us do at one time or another) pull yourself over to the side of the course, and get the heck out of the way. If you walk through a water station, GREAT! Just don’t walk back into the middle of the pack with your cup and then slowly start up again. MOVE OVER. Simple rules of the road will give your running mates and yourselves a positive experience, AND reduce the risk of injury and collisions. While I’m at it, here’s a very important suggestion. At the finish line, KEEP MOVING. (Am I shouting?) Holy mother of God, I hate it when runners stop and bunch up, and start hanging out at the finish line. Do your socializing, stretching, or throwing up on the sidelines out of the way of the other people barreling through the chute.

I had been struggling a little up the hill in the second mile, mostly because of my tired legs and lungs from the previous day’s run. The entire race, I was bobbing in and out of people, running in place several times looking for a clean break, and bouncing off people at other times. didn’t really have a time goal for the Shamrock, because I’m not a 5k runner by habit, and I just wanted to have some fun and get in a few miles. But, when I looked at my watch and realized that I would have a chance to finish in under 30 minutes, I turned it on. I know I can get a little competitive when I am not keeping a lid on it, and I might have yelled at a few people in that last 1/4 mile. “Get out of my way” “Comin’ Through”, and a few more not so nice things did find their way out of my mouth. (Oops. I’ll have to work on that.) In the end, I finished in 29:54, 16th out of 302 women in my age group. I’m happy with that. It was a great day and a great race.

I left right after running because I had to go to work so I missed all the Irish music, and the huge party, but I had a wonderful walk back to my car over the Hawthorne Bridge, and managed to avoid all the downtown traffic.

I took this while walking back to my car. I just love Portland mornings.

I took this while walking back to my car. I just love Portland mornings.

I hope you enjoy my blog. Share with your friends and let me know what you think. Rock on runners.

Finding a Rhythm in the Blues

I’ve lost my rhythm, (and another toe nail, but that gives me great joy because it reminds me that even though I am not the runner I was last year, my body still thinks I am). It only took 10 weeks, but it is gone. I didn’t even realize how important it was  until now. I’ll get it back, that a guarantee, but in the meantime it does kind of suck. Rhythm is paramount in distance running.

I signed up for the Tacoma City  Marathon on May 5th, before my Physical Therapist gave me the green light to run. Anticipating that the race would fill up, I HAD to secure a spot. This is the 10th anniversary celebration of the Marathon Maniacs, and there’s no way I am going to miss THAT party. Now I have 9 1/2 weeks to be ready to run 26.2 miles, and the most I have run since mid December is 4 miles. Well, the other day I ran 2 in the morning and 4 in the afternoon, so I guess you could call it 6. Have I mentioned I am also a member of the Idiot’s Running Club?

My foot is healing nicely, and most days I don’t even have pain; that is until I run.  I have a few twinges here and there. PT man says that’s ok, as long as it doesn’t hurt terribly the next day. I still wonder if I will ever run pain free again. I watch other runners effortlessly floating like gazelle down the streets and paths of Portland and I long for that blissful experience. Hell, at this point I long for a 6 miler! Now, more than ever I understand why runners panic if they take more than their “scheduled” day off. This whole “starting over” thing is the pits.

Last Fall, before I realized I was systematically ripping tendons and muscles in my left foot, I read an article about Bernard Lagat, an amazing Olympian runner and world record holder. This guy is FAST! He holds records in the 3000, 1500, and the mile. At 37 years old, he is still running and winning races. What I found interesting about him, outside of his achievements, was his training schedule off season.

Apparently, when Bernard is not competing, he takes off 5 weeks and does nothing! I was shocked to read this! I remember thinking, “Wow, this guy is nuts. Who has the discipline and confidence to do that every year and then get back into race form to go on and break records? Well, he IS just a child at 37. (Yeah right) Anyway, I thought there was no way I would take time off between races. When you’ve trained for 5 months for a marathon, why slack off? You’re already THERE for crap’s sake, so just keep running, right? Well, maybe for some people but not for those of us too stupid to see the signs of injury.

So here I am re-reading the article about my couch potato buddy Bernard, and learning that he takes time to be lazy. He rests for 5 weeks and pigs out, gaining up to eight pounds. HA! Of course if I gained eight pounds, there’s be no living with me, so while I may have shifted my flab during this sabbatical, it hasn’t amounted to more than two or three pound weight gain. The Wall Street Journal article goes on to say that when he starts his training again:

Lagat said it takes some time to work himself back into shape, but that is part of the process. A 30-minute jog on his first day back can leave him doubled over, short of breath. By week three, he can go for a 10-mile jog in 55 minutes. “I never push myself feeling like I should be in shape right away,” he said. “I know I have time.”

Now I know I have a friend in Bernard Lagat. For what it’s worth, I am trying to learn that I am not YET able to run a quick 10 miles before work whenever I want. My weekend “long” run might only be 5-6 miles this week. It might hurt. I might tire. I WILL curse. But I will continue to run, and like a good girl, I will ONLY push past the limits my PT gives me just a smidgen. Patience has never been one of my strong points. (see Patience from January 27,2013) I want it and I want it yesterday. Ho Hum. I will channel Bernard and all the other athletes that take time off due to shifts in training, injury, or personal preference. I will remember that it does take time to build endurance and muscle memory so that I can run injury free, strong, and with rhythm.

Besides the physical rhythm of running, or cadence, there is a rhythm of the mind that is a key component to distance running. If you can’t settle into a comfortable mental state while attempting 2-4 hours of running, then you are pretty much screwed. I had this NAILED last year. Now I am all over the place during my 30-45 minute runs. Getting this back will take some concentrated effort on my part. Maybe I need to switch to decaf.

The other rhythm that is a little off these days is my heart. I still don’t know what the scoop is, and I am waiting for the results of my recent 48 hour heart monitor test. Oh, that was fun. Check out the contraption I had to wear for two days. Can you just picture trying to hide that under clothes? And you can’t shower. I worked out three times while wearing this thing, and let me tell you, sponge baths are for the birds! So these days there are so many things that remind me of my age, and I’m getting really sick of it. Injuries, heart palpitations, grey hair, insomnia, and hot flashes can all kiss my ass.

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I have been poked, pricked, and prodded, trying to keep this bod going, and a little bit of “distraction” will not stop me. I’ll plow through this momentary lapse and be back in no time running races in goofy costumes, and collecting finisher’s medals, because that’s what I do to keep my sanity and my dress size.

What have you done to overcome an injury and push through your mental challenges?

Have a Heart (But Don’t Take Mine)

On Valentine’s Day, hearts are everywhere. Chocolate mostly, although I did actually see a bacon heart this morning on Facebook. For the record, I think bacon smells good, but I would never eat it.

THIS is more like it.

The-heart-sign-dogSpeaking of hearts, I had an interesting thing happen to mine this week. It’s funny how, when you are in your 50’s, you start thinking about keeping yourself on this planet a little longer, and paying attention to “little things”. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never thought about stuff like blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, and all those boring things old people talked about.

This past weekend, I was laying in bed and felt a strange sensation in my chest, like there was a fish flopping around in there. It lasted a few seconds and then stopped. A few minutes later, it happened again. Being the dutiful Catholic that I am, I said an Our Father, and an Act of Contrition, just in case I didn’t wake up in the morning. I didn’t really think I was having a heart attack, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. As it turned out, I did wake up, went about my day, and that was that. Until it happened two more times. Then once again, while watching TV the next night, that flounder was back in there, flopping around. I mentioned it to my husband, who, glued to the TV as usual, grunted something and held his blank stare at the flat screen. Deciding that I needed something to drink, I got up and wooohooo, the dizziness hit and I floated across the floor, like a drunk, all the while, watching the little stars blinking, and the blackness closing in. I managed not to pass out, and continued my evening of TV watching.

Just before bed, the old lady in me-the one that has turned into a hypochondriac, decided to email the doctor, just ‘cuz. I managed to wake up alive the next morning and received a call from the Dr’s office, telling me to come in today. Ho Hum. OK, sure, fine.

Fast forward to the appointment. My regular doctor was off that day, so I had the “pleasure” of seeing a first year intern. No offense to this guy but really? What, are you 12?

Doogie had the technician take my vitals sitting, standing, and laying down….three times. They did an EKG, and low and behold, aside from a First degree AV Block, which I already knew about from a previous EKG, there was nothing unusual or concerning.  The doctor asked me if there had been any changes to my life recently that might be a contributing factor to these episodes. Normally at this stage of an exam, with my regular fantastic doctor, I would have had a chance to discuss what is going on in my life, the stress issues, my injury that has prevented me from running for 9 weeks, female issues, daughter getting married stress, how my big toe hurts, the migraine I had last week; you know-normal stuff. But this guy didn’t want to hear any of it. For some reason he decided he wanted to focus on how much I drink and what kind of drugs I take. I told him that I regularly enjoy a glass of wine at night and that can mean anywhere between 1 to 3 glasses, but that several weeks ago, after the holidays were over and I was taking hold of my senses again, I had curtailed my alcohol intake by about 80%. He then said that “Sometimes in people with such excessive alcohol consumption, withdrawal can cause these symtoms. I looked at him like he had three heads. Then he asked me what type of stimulants I was taking. This is when I started getting pissed. I sat up and looked him straight in his teenage eyes and said. “One or two cups of English Breakfast Tea per day.” He didn’t seem amused and asked me to hold my hands out in front of me. He wanted to see if I was having tremors. Now, I have a good a sense of humor as anyone, but this was not funny anymore. Who IS this guy? I attempted to “gently” explain to him that I am not a heavy drinker, I do not take ANY drugs or daily medications, I work out 5-6 days per week, currently swimming a mile or more per week, bike 30+ miles per week, PLUS work out at a kettlebell gym twice per week. When running, I routinely run 35-40 miles each week, AND I run my own successful business. I eat primarily vegetarian and seafood meals, and don’t eat a lot of junk, plus I drink somewhere between 30-60 ounces of water each day.

At this time he suggested that I wear a 30 day heart monitor so they can track whether or not I have recurring symtoms, and evaluate them. He left the room and asked the tech to do my vitals again…sitting, standing, and laying down. By now, I felt like I WAS going to have a heart attack. For the record, my blood pressure was something like 90/60 and my resting pulse was <60. It didn’t change much in the three times they checked. I had a feeling by now, however that they were going to be higher. (They weren’t) 

While the tech was checking these things, she said the doctor wanted me to fill out a questionnaire, because apparently they thought I was crazy and suicidal.

 hosp

After filling this out I asked the tech to go get the doctor and ask him if I could do a 48 hour heart monitor as opposed to the 30 day one. I was trying to imagine wearing this wirey, bulky contraption in the pool, or while swinging a kettlebel, while wearing my business clothes, or anything else for that matter. A short time later, the baby doc returns with a more mature, seasoned doctor, and I  thought, “Thank God she’s here to change his diaper and let me go home.”

She started out just wonderful! She explained my AV block in such a way that I fully understood it, and also explained the symptoms I was having, and how they are very common, bla, bla, bla. Just as I was about to pull out my car keys and leave, she stopped, got all serious, and said, “But more importantly, I want to talk to you about your excessive alcohol abuse.”  I really thought Ashton Kutcher would pop in at any moment with the “Punked” crew. I thought about arguing with her, but then she would probably think that was the alcoholic talking, so I just shut up and nodded. I had had enough. I guess they must have just had some kind of seminar on substance abuse and their reticular activators were on hyper alert!

I managed to leave there with a smidgen of dignity, WITHOUT the heart monitor, because they were out of stock, and went home. I vented my frustration with this experience to numerous people and went on with my life. I am waiting to speak with my regular doctor, to see if she wants me to wear the monitor. I will be a good girl and listen to her. I will not let prepubescent medical residents examine me in the future. I will continue to be an ADHD, running obsessed maniac. AND, I will find ways to manage my stress.

I think I will start with a nice Valentine Lobster dinner and a glass of La Crema ChardonnayDSCN0114

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope it’s a good one. Take great care of your health.

What Snot to Love?

I just love it when I am talking to someone and a bucket full of water and snot suddenly propels itself out of my nose. Now that I am swimming and training for a Sprint Triathlon, I am having flashbacks of my youth swim team and lifeguard training.

I am proud to have control over most of my bodily functions, but my “swimmer’s nose” just laughs at me and runs down my face at will. It’s one of the ways I am forced to be humble, I guess. Trust me, nothing says, “Consummate Professional”, like a spontaneous expulsion! If I were an Olympic swimmer, I’d be much more able to get away with it.

Poor Ian.

Oh well, back to me. So, now that I am training for my first Triathlon, I am spending two to three days working out in a pool. This increases the chance of my snot rocket surprises by up to 30% each week, for those of you that don’t have mad math skills. I am a very efficient swimmer. I know how to breathe in and out through my nose and mouth while swimming. So why does this happen, and what can be done about it? Experts vary on the reasons and remedies, but they all agree that irritants, allergies, and bacteria are among the common causes.

Germaphobe that I am, I shutter to think about what I am exactly ingesting while swimming in that community pool. I know people sweat, spit, and God knows what else in public pools, but I have always considered the chlorine (which of course is a poison) would take care of that. I recently read that Olympic swimmers admit to peeing in pools all the time. Nice. For the record I have never done this! You are safe to share a lane with me.

The good news is that, if I get all snotty while swimming or afterwards, at least I know that it is because I am working out. I am off my butt, making an effort to get this body moving, in any way that it can. It takes effort and dedication to convince yourself that it is a good idea to put on a bathing suit in the middle of winter when you are pasty white and it is cold, dark, and raining out, and drive yourself to a pool, so that you can take that first chilly plunge.

My advice? Get out there and do it. Swimming is one of the best ways to start or enhance your fitness routine. The first few days may be tough as you adjust to the water, the newness of your heart pounding, and the shortness of breath. In a few days, you will be amazed at how quickly your endurance improves. Just keep in mind that tissues should always be on hand. Or, buy a nose clip-I hear that can help.

See you in the deep end.

 

 

Patience, you say?

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Runners can be very impatient people. I wasn’t exactly born with the “Patience” gene. This is not a revelation to me, however, as I get older, it is increasingly more frustrating.

So here I am, 7 weeks into Physical Therapy, NOT RUNNING,after ripping a few tendons and a muscle because I didn’t want to be a good girl and listen to my body. All runners hurt, don’t they? “This must be normal.”, I thought. (Well, not really, but somewhere deep down, I kept thinking the pain was going to stop if I just kept icing, heating, elevating, etc. Dumb idea.)image

Oh yeah, this is what I did after long runs while I blow dried my hair. Before I went running, I’d soak my foot in this  pot full of hot water. Then I’d add ice when I got home. Don’t worry, I washed it out before I made my famous home made soup!

I was anxious to stay on my 5 day per week running routine, but you’d think the fact that I was limping constantly, wincing while training, and eating Ibuprofen like breath mints, I would suspect something was not right.

 

My Physical Therapist told me that I needed to find something to “feed the beast” while not running. Haha, I love how he “got” me right off the bat. He said I could swim, bike, and walk. It was December in Oregon. Running in the cold, wind, and rain I can do. But, bike? Swim? Seriously? Sigh. OK, well I’ll give it a try.

 

My first bike ride started out as a disaster. The tires on my much neglected bike were flat, it was covered in cob webs, and I couldn’t figure out how to use the bike pump. After 3 attempts, I finally got the tires somewhat full of air, and hopped on, hoping to feel the thrill of the wind in my helmeted hair. I started pedaling, and WHAP, the chain fell off, my foot spun around, and I fell flat on my driveway.Thankfully, I was clothed in so many layers, that I came away physically unscathed.  A few curses later, I fixed the chain and off I went. It was 40 degrees out and I was already sweating from the effort and frustration of simply getting out of my driveway.
I ended up having so much fun on the 9 mile ride and even thought, “wow ,I  AM in great shape; I barely felt that!”  I sang along with my ipod, with wild abandon. “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger”, Oh Yeah, baby, watch out for me. Woohooo.I’m a CYCLIST!

Fast forward to the next day, and I could barely lower myself to a chair or toilet without grunting in pain. OK, well pain is good. LOL, I seem to love it. If you’re going to exercise outdoors in the Great Northwest, you have to be prepared for all types of weather. I have great all weather running gear, but CYCLING GEAR?

bike image

Yep, that’s me on New Year’s Day, wearing ski bib overalls, snow boots, countless layers of dry fit, fleece, and a water proof jacket, plus numerous neck and head coverings. I needed the basket to carry all the discarded clothing, as I warmed up along my ride. Hey, after all the money I have spent on running gear, I wasn’t about to jump down the money pit and do it in the bike shop….yet.

So, back to the patience thing. My second bike ride that week was when I decided to ride to my PT appointment. I mapped it and saw that it was approximately 9 miles from home. Not having stellar math skills, I thought, “Oh, I can probably do that in about 30 minutes. Don’t even TRY to figure why I thought that. I tried to leave a little early just in case, and after donning lots of layers and even packing a change of socks, shoes, and gloves in a plastic bag, I headed out. It was a cold 39 degrees, and by the time I got to the end of my block, it had started to rain. Hmmm, for about a nano-second, I thought about turning around and getting my car, but then I was worried it would take too much time and the clock was ticking! 10 minutes into the ride, it was now pouring, I was freezing, and I knew I was going to be seriously late. When I finally made it to the Springwater Corridor-the bike path that follows the Willamette River, I was pushing those pedals as fast as I could, but the frigid rain and wind was a killer. I could see downtown Portland, and knew I was close, so I gave it everything I had, all the while screaming at myself for being such an idiot.( There were a lot of bad words in my “self talk” on that ride.)

I finally arrived with rain pouring off of my and walked my bike into the facility. They had a bike rack inside, and the nice receptionist helped me stand my bike in it, and then I proceeded to try and peel my gloves, helmet, and extra clothes off. The only problem was that my feet were numb, my frozen snot was leaking, and my hands were too cold to unsnap my helmet. What a sight. I managed to survive, thawed out, and begged God for mercy for the ride home. Luckily, I had brought the extra dry clothes and shoes, and when I left, the rain had stopped, it was a tad bit warmer, and the ride home was a blast.

I learned a tough lesson that day. Think before you act. I know, that sounds really elementary, but when you roll like I do, you pretty much DO, and then think. I laughed about this experience once I knew that I would live through it. That’s the trick to this whole thing. With new experiences, you are going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up about what you did wrong, or not perfectly right. For me, I look back and say, “Wow, I rode my bike 18 miles in the dead of winter, in Portland, Oregon, in the rain, in 39 degree temperature, with a bad ankle, at 53 years old, after not having ridden a bike for several years. THAT, I could celebrate.