Monday, June 25

Major Accomplishments

It's Monday again and I'm ready to race through this week because I am pretty stoked for the upcoming weekend. 

Last week I finished something pretty awesome which is neither cycling or MS related...I paid off all my student loans. Sure, I may have have felt horribly sick as I pressed the button to allow such a large sum of money to flow from my bank account but in the end I was just excited that it was finally over. I have been working towards this in the past year and a half and I am beyond proud that I was actually able to pull this off. I have been extremely lucky to have been able to live at home the past 2 years since graduating from college so I could achieve this goal. The next big step is apartment hunting which I am quite excited about (IKEA TRIP!) but since I've never really lived alone I'm a bit nervous about how that's going to go. The fact is that I really enjoy living at home because it's nice to come home from a bad day and have someone around. It will definitely be a interesting transition but I'm looking forward to moving into the next stage of my life.

Erik spent the weekend at my house for a change which was awesome because it meant spending 4 less hours in the car that weekend and no packing. We had plans for a bike ride Saturday and luckily everything went off without a hitch. The ride was pretty darn flat and we just had a great time out and about. 

We biked about 15/20 miles directly into the wind for a chunk of the ride which was pretty tough but I am proud that every time I thought "I need a break" I would quickly remind myself that I am strong and that I can do this. For me, biking it a mental thing as it seems I spend half the ride convincing myself that I can't do it or that I am not good enough. I've really been working hard in getting out of my own head during rides because things are so much easier when I'm just at ease and calm.

I finished the 57.5 mile ride with a huge smile plastered on my face which for me is a huge accomplishment. I'm didn't spend the rest of the weekend beating myself up about things I should have done differently, I'm just happy with the ride I had and proud that I did it. Hopefully I can keep up this attitude the rest of training...

Erik claims that he can really tell how passionate I'm getting about cycling...I'm thinking I might have finally jumped ship and drank the cycling Kool-Aid because I think I'm hooked...

Tuesday, June 19

Lesson #1 of Cycling: Don't Drive Off The Road

This one time I drove my bike off the road. Yes, I know, that's like the first lesson in cycling 101. It's been mentioned that I need to come up with a better story, but honestly, I don't have one.There were no crazy deer charging me or turkeys flying towards my head. Sadly, I just drove off the road...or at least I attempted to. We were about 17 miles into our ride and everything was going great. Don't most stories start with this line...everything was going great until...but yeah, seriously, the ride was perfect and then...

You might notice where the fall fail occurred...we can totally pretend though that it was on a crazy downhill and a crazy hurricane gust of wind blew me over or that a rabid deer came charging at me causing me to fall. But anyways...this happened...probably from the deer:

That's a lie...I know that this happened from the road...and I have a lot of other grosser road burns too but I figured I would shield your eyes from there disgustingness...I waited a day until things were less bloody to snap a picture - for your sake and mine - I'm not a fan of blood...especially when it drips from my body. The road must have been repaved a bit ago because there were layers of pavement near the shoulder with each layer having about a 2 inch drop,  followed by a larger drop off and a guardrail. I hit the first drop off and possibly the second...but the next thing I knew I was facing the wrong direction, lying on my back and staring at the sun. Luckily Erik had been riding pretty close to me so he was only a few seconds ahead of me and heard the whole thing. Apparently it was quite loud as my bike did a 180, skidded on the pavement and threw me down. Apparently crashing at 18mph is kinda loud...go figure...I'm just glad I have yet to hear the noise at any louder speed.

Erik quickly assessed the damage and I just laid there stunned at what had happened. Erik untangled me from my bike and a car traveling the other direction stopped right after they passed us and backed up. The driver threw his door open (his family looked horrified as they stared from the windows) and came darting towards us. The guy ran through the same basic questions and both Erik and the man agreed that my injuries weren't anything major since the majority of the things that hurt were bleeding. I assured both Erik and the man that had stopped that I would be alright and that I would slowly ride my bike back home.

By the end of the ride I was pretty sore and Erik was nice enough to patch me up and clean out my road burns. Apparently just taking a shower wasn't enough to "clean" them and he insisted that hydrogen peroxide works much better (FYI that burns like a ....). Surprisingly my bike was OK, with only a few minor scrapes and a tweaked camel back saved my back and its pretty ripped up (but better it's tore up  than my back). The thing that hurts the most is my tailbone...the whole sitting, standing back up, lying down...(ok, ok) moving kinda sucks. Standing up may be the worst pain I've had in a long time and I never assumed coughing/sneezing would hurt my tailbone so much. My parents are convinced that I fractured my tailbone which is probably quite possible but realistically there's nothing that can be done with the injury so why bother spending time in urgent care when I can be out riding instead?

We finished up the weekend with a fast paced 20 miler Sunday which was rather pain free, because I was determined to get in some much needed miles. However, after a 11 mile ride last night, I'm thoroughly convinced that the only thing that doesn't hurt my tail bone is riding...go figure...

Wednesday, June 13

The Not So Awesome Side Of Century Training

My century ride is July 21st. Up until last Sunday I really hadn't fully comprehended the fact that I would be riding 100 miles in one day. It's always been a pipe dream of mine to complete, ever since I was diagnosed and heard about the MS ride. The idea had slowly churned in my mind, year after year,  while every year I played through the "what if I ride" scenario I never bit the bullet and signed up.

Truth be told I would had never signed up if it wasn't for Erik. I've completed countless rides during the week and spent weekends completing long rides with him. Erik can out ride me any day of the week so he hasn't worried about this distance like I have. I've spent months analyzing the route and climbs...maybe my Map My Ride account needs to be disabled... This past Sunday, in between the lawn mowing and movie marathon, I realized what I actually committed to. There's no backing out now, I have donations for this ride and it's no longer something that only a few people know I'm doing. Heck, a lot of people know I am doing this ride now, and maybe that is what frightens me.

That, what if I can't, has crept into my brain and I can't seem to shake it. Sunday night, as Erik passed out rather quickly from his day of mountain biking, I found myself crawling out of bed and heading towards the bathroom as tears rushed out of my eyes. I've hit the wall where it seems that all I think about is biking...whether it's planning my next ride, analyzing past rides, planning meals around rides, planning life around ride or simply just thinking about riding I can't seem to think about anything else.  Sunday night I was overwhelmed with all the thoughts and it took me a great while to pull myself together enough to crawl back into bed.

No matter how many times someone tells me that I will have no problem crossing the finish line, I seriously question their responses. I'm well aware that we are all our own worst critics and for me to really finish this thing I'm going to need to find a way to quiet those thoughts.

I took a night off from riding completely last night and went shopping with my mom. I thought for sure that swimsuit shopping (swimsuit shopping = completely unstressful = complete and utter lie) would distract me from riding because lets be honest, does anyone actually enjoy this process? Sure enough though when I got home I beat myself up for not riding and since rest days are becoming a foreign concept to me, I headed to the gym for a late night upper body weight session. Fact: I felt 100% better post sweat but still 100% guilty for not riding. I am fully aware that one missed ride is not going to derail anything training wise but it's like my mind loves to say "well, if you don't finish we can blame that missed ride in June..."

Erik strongly believes I am fully capable of riding this distance, but I always wonder if he is just saying that because he feels he has to. I'm glad that I have him around on long rides because I couldn't push myself the way he pushes me and he's smart enough to realize when I really need to slow down and take a break. I'm starting to think he may know my limits better than I know my own which is  problematic. Even this past weekend when we were climbing hills I had a constant rotation of "you can't do this...this is crazy" playing in my head which obviously isn't ideal for success. I really need to work on focusing on my strengths and pushing through my weaknesses so I can grow from them.

Let's be real, if I don't push myself when things get tough I will never get better at the tough things.

Do you have trouble pushing yourself when things get tough? How do you combat yourself from pressing the self destruction button when things get tricky?

Monday, June 11

58 Miles - Completed

Long rides have become increasing longer over the past month and a half and usually every weekend I will say "wow, that was my longest ride ever!" I'm really great at psyching myself up for the rides all week but come the actual day of the ride and I'm usually freaking out.

As soon as I start thinking about the actual distance of the ride I panic and I usually am quite successful in convincing myself that I can't do it. I know, great plan, and a great way to start out a long ride.

We woke up Saturday morning to a downpour. Unfortunately we were riding whether it was raining or not because Erik had another mountain bike ride scheduled for Sunday that has been planned for months. So we checked the radar and waited around a bit until things looked fairly quiet. The forecast showed sun but since the area is surrounded by hills the weather forecast is rarely accurate. The weather ended up being a mix of drizzle and rain with a killer humidity. Luckily it wasn't too hot or else it would have been a tortuous ride.

Overall the ride was a success but there are still a few things I need to practice. I really need to work on fueling, I did great on fluid intake this ride and since it wasn't a total sweat fest I actually had to make a bathroom stop. Of course I passed up the opportunity for a bathroom stop when we stopped in a small town for snacks. Lesson learned - you can't "hold it" for 30 miles. I made it about 4 miles before I demanded a stop. Erik also learned the important lesson that when your girlfriend says she can "hold it" for 30 miles she is bluffing...force her into the sketchy bar to use the restroom or else you'll be bushwhacking a trail into the woods since she will be convinced that cars can totally see her from the road and will need you to test whether that's actually true or not.

Around mile 20-26 I was legs didn't want to pedal and the climb we were on seemed endless. I kept commenting that it felt like I had sausages for legs and that pedeling was not in the game plan. Of course once you are 20 miles in you are pretty commited to the ride and you kind of have to just suck it up and do it. My guess on what happened is that I was ruining low on fuel and I definitely need to start bringing something to munch on along the way...whether that be chews or bars or whatever. Once we had some snacks at the halfway point my pace picked up and everything seemed so much easier. The good thing about these long rides though is that I'm learning (trial and error of course) what works and what doesn't so hopefully by the 100-miler I have it all figured out.

Minus a few issues on the ride, I survived without crying or hyperventilating on the hills so I would declare it a success.

Sunday Erik had a  mountain bike ride all day (7-7) and I spent the day with no real schedule. I'm pretty positive it's the first day in months where I had nothing planned and could do whatever I wanted. Of course on weekends I am at Eriks which is about 90 miles from when I live the remainder of the week so it's hard to get anything done off my to-do list, especially when that's nothing near his house. I woke up Sunday and had a bagel craving, however, the nearest bagel shop is 25 miles away and it's hard to justify a 50 mile round trip for a bagel that I know isn't even all that great. So I made myself breakfast and watched a movie on Hulu...Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead...while I can't say it was my favorite movie ever, I didn't hate it. I'm not quite convinced that juicing will cure MS...but to each their own. People always tell me to go gluten free because it will "cure" my MS which annoys me because every person with MS is different. Plus, is it really is it the diet that is "curing" you or are the drugs you are on just suppressing the MS? I give people props who decide to go cold turkey off of their medications, but it just isn't for me.

Anyways, it was in the 80's yesterday with about 80%+ humidity which meant every activity turned into a sweatfest. I started out with a short ride on the mountain bike and then a hour of yoga to stretch out. I ran a few errands, rented a few movies and mowed the lawn. I figured if I couldn't check things off my own to-do list I could at least take one off of Eriks. I haven't mowed a lawn in years, so I'm sure the neighbors got a kick out of me trying to figure out how to get the thing started.

It's supposed to be another hot day today, but I'm going to attempt to get some miles in on my bike after work.

Have you seen Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead? Would you go on a juice fast for 6-10 days? What's the weirdest thing you've blended? Maybe some day I'll try it, but lets be real, I like chewing my foods and a diet without bread just seems wrong. When I was in the hospital with swallowing issues (MS related) I could only have pureed foods for about a week and a half. I convinced my parents to puree a donut...sure enough they brought in a pureed donut and it seriously disgusting.

Thursday, June 7

Saturdays Ride - "The Failed Ride" Revisited

Last week was our failed ride. Surprisingly I wasn't too upset when it came to a halt 9.9 miles in because well, let's face it, shit happens.

That looks like fun! I like these maps with no detailed climb data - less intimidating!
This Saturday we will be reattempting the ride and hopefully by Saturday afternoon I can say I actually completed it.
While it's not the hilliest ride we've done, it will be the longest. Usually I plan the rides because I am very much the planner of the relationship. I need things mapped out and decided weeks in advance and I'm really working on going with the flow but it's hard work.

Last week I gave my boyfriend the task of mapping the ride because I was purposely planning a ride that avoided any major hills. You see, I hate hills. Sure hate is such a strong word, but yeah, I totally despise them. I thought that maybe if I didn't know the route in advance I wouldn't be able to spend the week analyzing the route and freaking myself out.

A few weeks ago I had planned a 47 mile HILLY route and then freaked out about it all week. By the time we got the the one very large climb I may have had a bit of a freak out moment on it. Totally normal...totally. I know that actually having longer climbs on rides is beneficial to me because it makes me a overall stronger rider but in the moment I get in my own head and proceed to freak myself out. Usually I am the person talking to herself out loud that she can totally do this.

Of course the morning of the failed ride last week I looked at the route so we would both know the turns and then I was able to map it out bright and early Monday morning at work. I'm pretty sure mapping it out was completely against the point but it's too late for that so here's the climb data.

This looks like fun...right?

So if you use Map My Ride you know that they categorize the bigger climbs using some rating scale that takes into consideration the length, grade, and gain (I think - don't quote me on that one). That middle highlighted climb looks like the most fun (complete lie) and basically my goal is to not cry.

I'm a bit bummed that it will be warmer than last week but I am hoping to be done before it gets too hot outside.

I did get a new Nuun flavor (Lemon Tea - Eastern Mountain Sports seems to have limited to bring along so that should be interesting...I usually bring a Gatorade along with my camelback since I have yet to figure out how to drink from my water bottle without tipping over on my bike or stopping. This week we are trying alternating Powerade/Nuun and of course water in hopes that I can find something that keeps me going without feeling nauseous which happened on our last ride.

In other news it took me one email and about 16 hours to raise all the money I needed for the Bike MS century ride in July (GOAL RIDE!) which is one less thing I need to stress out about. I needed to raise a minimum of $250 to ride, and hopefully in the upcoming month I can continue to raise additional money for a great cause!

So tell me - What are your plans for the weekend? What do you fuel your long workouts with?

Monday, June 4

Mondays Are Hard

The first thing out of my mouth this morning when my alarm went off at 6am was that  "Modays are hard." That is a pretty solid fact in my book and I think it's safe to agree that most people agree. My boyfriend quickly responded with "that's why women watch the Bachelor".

Anyways, most Monday mornings start a bit earlier than normal since I'm 88 miles away from my job. Having a boyfriend that lives more than a couple of miles away proves to be challenging sometimes, but I always remember that things could be worse since we do get to see each other most weekends.

All in all it was a great weekend. I really need to start taking more pictures of things that we do though, pictures always seem to be a complete afterthought for me. I spent a hour to myself in a cemetary under a tree during a downpour while Erik rode my (yes, mine) bike back to his house to pick up my car so that he could rescue me and his bike. I've learned to always, always, carry a spare bike tube so that when your boyfriend patches it and then proceeds to snap the stem while inflating it you aren't completely stranded in the middle of nowhere.

I did manage to get in some mountain biking this weekend...You see my version of mountain biking includes me, riding a mountain bike up slightly inclined dirt rodes. My boyfriends idea of mountain biking is riding up really big, rocky, down-tree filled trails. Since I am just getting into this sport we kept it easy with some slightly inclined rocky and weedy trails...I only manged to fall once (I have a killer bruise) and survived. It was one of those falls where you are totally aware that you are going to fall and really have no way around it. It's slow motion and you just kinda tip over sideways while your boyfriend watches you from atop a tiny hill almost in awe about your general lack of mountain biking experience. I really am a sight to watch.

I'm hanging out at the hospital - it's Tysabri - day! Yup, I'm still on Tysabri, I think July is the 3 1/2 year mark which seems crazy to me. The rest of the week I'll be playing catch up at work to make up hours, but what's new.

Friday, June 1

A Quiet Return Back To Blogging

My last blog post was November 11th, 2010 and that seems like ages ago. Truth be told taking a sidestep giant leap away from the blog may have been one of the best things I did. I am oh so grateful that I did not delete it even though I don't think I could ever go back and read though those posts. I'm pretty sure I've grown leaps and bounds from the last time I hit publish and I'm excited to share what's been going on.

I am in such a great place in my life now, and I'm just beyond happy and grateful for everything in my life. No, I didn't overdose on a happy pills...I just decided that I had enough with the unhappiness in my life and that I was the only one that could change that.
A oh-so happy picture seemed fitting.
I got back into fitness and really worked hard to get a job that I can say I am happy in. I take pride in putting out amazing work and after a year at the company I was surprised when I was awarded a fancy plaque at the annual holiday party. My coworkers had nominated me for showing "adaptability and flexibility" in my position and it was great to receive a little pat on the back for all my hard work. Of course, that award also came with a few gift cards that I used to purchase a oh so incredibly fancy road bike.

This road bike is how I plan on achieving one very cool goal - a century ride. You see in January when I was registering my team for the MS walk I pointed out to my boyfriend (don't worry - I'll get to him in a bit) that while the walk is a tradition with my friends that I actually have always wanted to do the 100 mile bike challenge. Of course this was pre-fancy bike and as soon as I though out the fact that I wanted to do that ride my boyfriend quickly responded "so do it." Apparently the universe agreed and sure enough within two weeks I had been awarded enough money for my fancy bike. I've thrown myself into cycling and I love having a new goal to work towards.

Last weekend I even competed in my very first bike race (first race of any kind!!) and had a blast. Sure, I didn't come anywhere close to first but the fact that I was out there and kicking butt was great. Oh and I totally won my age group because I was the only one registered in it.

I've been incredibly blessed in the past year and a half and have finally learned how to enjoy life, even when things don't go as planned.

Last May, I met my boyfriend. We just celebrated one very happy year together. He's kinda the icing on the cake in my life, everything is just sweeter when hes around. As my family would say I haven't done anything but smile since he came into the picture. So meet Erik. He's basically pretty darn awesome and I have nothing but very nice things to say about him.
That's us in fact - that was the first time I had ever been to NYC...since then I've been once more. Turns out NYC is kinda cool. Oh and even though it looks like he has a earring he totally doesn't - that's just a silly reflection. 
Erik will also be riding with me in this century this July. We will be conquering the Bike MS - Fingerlakes Challenge together and I am pretty stoked and not at all nervous (<-- Complete lie). Erik is a mountain biker but luckily for me he has made the switch one day a week to ride long, hill filled, rides with me. Turns out I am a complete ball of fun on long rides...and I've only cried twice on various hills. I'm starting to think he only comes with me because of the homemade cookies I bribe him with.

So yeah...that's life...a year and a half later after I last pushed published.

I'm not quite sure what my plans for blogging are I had the urge to write and so I did...maybe it will happen sometime soon.