traveling East

We’re back at home safe home, and boy is it great to be back.  Nevertheless, I am extremely glad we went.  This anxiety problem I’ve been dealing with for the last year and a half has made me reluctant to travel.  Last year, my trip to Houston really did not go well from an anxiety standpoint, and it’s made me hesitant to travel.  It wasn’t long ago when I felt completely incapable of living my life, so I’ve obviously come a long way since then.  Nevertheless, there’s a difference between living everyday life and traveling.  And I’ve found traveling with the kids very stressful.  They are getting older, though, and it’s been getting a lot easier.  We had a wonderful and easy vacation to Oregon recently (four hour drive) and that made me believe it was time to go to home.   Going home is not what you’d call an easy trip, even when things go well, it’s about 12 hours from door to door.

Things did go well.  The kids were little angels.  Of course, we bribed them with lots of new little toys.  But still.  No crying.  Almost no whining.   Just stellar behavior from end to end.  The only little problem was that I couldn’t get through it without a panic attack.  If you’re counting, I haven’t had one since last
August – that’s ten months.  I’d really wanted to make it to a year.  On the plus side, my panic attack lasted less than an hour.  I was able to control it through breathing, took a Clonazapam, and quickly felt better.  I’m extremely frustrated that I can’t seem to leave this behind, but on the flip side, I’m trying to be patient and  realize that overall, life is good.  I do feel this is holding me back from doing everything I want to do, but I can do MOST things that I want to do, and overall, our life is very good, and our family’s life is good.

The highlights of the trip were spending time with my parents, my brother and sister-in-law, and Daniel and his family.  I did take some photos, so I’ll hopefully get those processed soon.  It was also nice to be in lush, green, beautiful Roan.oke.  For the record, it’s much greener than Seattle.  However, that humidity.  Oh my God!  Running was torture.  I was just not used to it, and I seriously thought I would expire hoofing it up the mountain at the end of my runs.

My plan is to return to the Virginia in October, and I’m looking forward to it.  Can’t wait to see that squishy little baby!

le tour

My brother and my parents went to see the Tour de France a few years ago.  I was talking to him about this this morning, and it made me think about my life bucket list.  I’ve made bucket lists before, and the problem is that they always change.  But still.  I do think there is value in creating a new bucket list even if it’s obsolete sooner than I’d like.

1.) See a stage of the Tour de France.  According to Kevin, it’s amazing.

2.) Go to the Hebrides.  Or maybe the Shetlands.  One or the other.

3.) Do a triathlon.  May do an olympic triathlon.  I hope to check off the former this summer.  I’m nervous, but excited.

4.) Take a vacation in upstate New York.  The Adirondacks.  Or the finger lakes.  See Schroon Lake again.

5.) Do the STP (cycle to Portland).  Or RSVP (cycle to Vancouver).  Or RAMROD (ride around mt. rainier in one day).  Maybe I’ll try to do one of these next summer.  My husband thinks I’m bonkers for considering any of the above.

I’ve been getting such pleasure and happiness from exercising lately.  It’s surprising.  Running and exercising have been a chore for so long, but as has been proven in my life over and over, things are more fun and more satisfying when you don’t do them half-assed.

You might note a lack of career objectives on the above list.  After a year or two of bliss at work, my happiness has taken a sharp decline of late.  This is related to a change in projects, but perhaps also it’s related to a lack of flights lately.

At home, I’m reading Heidi to Isla at the moment and loving it.  We are both loving it, in fact.  Such a good book!  We have the Usborne edition which includes beautiful full-color illustrations.  Heidi was a pivotal book for me.  My Mom read it to me, the summer before first grade I think, or maybe during first grade.  I would have been about five, just like Isla is now.  It really cemented my love of books.  I remember my Mom reading many books to me – Stuart Little, Puff the Magic Dragon, There Are No Bears On Hemlock Mountain, The Borrowers, and so on, but none of these made the impression on me that Heidi did.  I’ve read a lot of books to Isla that I loved as a child and have been a bit disappointing as an adult, but so far, Heidi is as great as I remember.

Lake Sammamish ride

I went on my longest cycle to date yesterday, a 43 mile cycle from my house, north, around Lake Sammamish, and bake home.  It included 2140 feet of elevation gain.

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About 13 miles into it, I got a flat tire.  This is the third flat tire I’ve had in about three weeks – one other on my bike, and another on my car.  That’s got to be bad luck, right?  I stopped, none too happy to be starting my ride this way.  A few minutes after I stopped, a generous rider and his friend stopped to help me.  The guy actually changed my tire for me.  So nice!  It really bolsters my faith in humanity.  I think I probably could have changed it, but it would have taken me a good hour, and I would at that point, turned around and gone back home.  However, this guy was able to change it in about 20 minutes, and he gave me some useful tips.  Hopefully, I’ll have a chance to pass it on at some point.

I kept going after the flat, and made my way up and around the lake.  I was feeling good, though as my rides have gotten longer, I’m starting to find myself getting a little uncomfortable in the, ahem, saddle area.  I bought a pair of bike shorts, but they didn’t really seem to help.  Anyway, after making my way around the lake, I hit the longest hill of the ride, a very long, gradual gradient as I rode back west.  At that point, I was nearly home, with only a few miles to go.  However, just as I hit some busy roads, there was a power outage, so the lights, including pedestrian signals, were all out.  Suddenly, my ride became extremely hazardous.  I managed to make it through the high traffic section, but it was hair-raising.  After that, I just wanted to be come, but of course, I live on a big hill, so the last few miles are always trying.  I slogged along, though, and was absolutely exhausted the rest of the day.

The whole ride took me more than four hours.  Without the flat tire, route-finding, and traffic problems, I think I could do it in closer to 3 hours.  3 hours is a very reasonable ride; 4.25 is just more than I want to do right now.  I’m undecided whether to try to do the ride again, or to do something else.  I’ve been making my way through the so-called “preparing for spring” series that a local bicycle club put together and ran in the winter.  I’m not sure I would have much liked doing these rides in the cold and the rain, though.

impact

ducks

My ride started well this morning.  I saw three families of baby goslings.

However, I’m lying in bed at 8:15 right now instead of getting off my duff and going to work.  This morning I went for my usual bike ride (since I’m still giving my foot a break), but I got careless and fell while trying to put on my glove.  I’d slowed down, but I was going maybe 9 mph and then slowed and crashed.  My head hit the ground pretty hard, protected by a helmet of course.  I’ve been scared of falling since I started cycling, and the actual experience was a little bit different than I expected.  I guess I’d envisioned getting scraped along the ground or something.  In actuality, I did get a little scraped up, but what took me aback was the impact.  I hit my head on the ground pretty hard, giving myself an instant headache.  (My helmet doesn’t seem to be cracked, and other than headache, I had no concussion symptoms.)  The impact was just really hard.  The whole experience was shocking.  One minute I was happily riding along; the next, I’m reeling from the collision with the ground.

Once I pulled myself together a little bit, I thought about calling Jonathan, but he would have had to get the kids in the car, and then we might not have been able to get the bike in the trunk.  I realized I wasn’t actually badly hurt, just shaken up, so I got back on the bike, and slowly and carefully cycled home.  I was definitely a bit jumpy.

Anyway.  Not a great start to my day to say the least.  Time to get up and shower and get some work done, but I kind of feel like curling up in bed.

cycling this weekend

I had two good cycles this weekend, a long one and a short one.  I’m very pleased because the weather forecast was not looking good as of Friday evening, but we ended up with mostly overcast rather than rain.  I did get poured on for the last couple miles of today’s ride, but it was 50 degrees, and I was close to home, so I didn’t really mind.

Saturday, I took a spin around the southern half of Lake Washington.  I’ve done this ride before, but last time, I parked near the route.  This time, I cycled from home, which adds about 5 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain to a ride with 1000+ feet of elevation gain to start with, bringing it to 30 miles.  A friend of mine from work who lives very close to me had agreed to meet me for the ride, which was a nice change from my usual habit of riding alone.  We met up at 8 am at the neighborhood park and set out.

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The first half of the ride went very well.  My friend mentioned to me that he was finding the hills hard, and I think I wasn’t really taking him seriously, because I thought he was in better shape than me, but as we neared the I90 bridge, I realized that he really was struggling a bit.  We took it nice and slow up the hills to the bridge and headed across.  About a mile short of Mercer Island (which sits about 3/4 of the way across the bridge), my rear tire went flat.  Really, there isn’t much worse of a place for that to happen than the bridge.  I kept going, though I probably should have stopped and walked.  Changing it in situ was completely impossible.  My friend has done even less cycling than me, so he didn’t know any more about changing bike tires than I did.  However, some how we managed to muddle through and get a new tube on.  I don’t think either of us could have done it on our own, but between the two of us, we figured it out.  I was pretty proud of that, but I also hope I don’t have to change another tire anytime soon.  It is definitely not easy.

By the time we got all the way across the bridge, my friend was really starting to struggle.  We slowed down to a Sunday afternoon stroll sort of pace, but hills were just killing him, and unfortunately, you can see from the elevation profile that the end of the route features a lot of uphill.  Nevertheless, we continued and got back to the park.  I’m hoping my friend is not too discouraged and willing to go out cycling with me again.  I think he’s more of a natural athlete than me, and could probably get in shape enough to keep up without that much trouble.

I had been planning to run a 5K today (Sunday).  Then I decided my legs were too tired from the cycling, so I thought I might try yesterday’s route again instead (at an easy pace).  Then I got discouraged by predictions of rain, and it did in fact rain this morning, so I thought I go for a swim.  In the end, the weather prediction improved a bit, and I went for a shorter, 10 mile ride.  This is a 10 mile loop I’ve cycled many times, so it’s a good barometer for progress.

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I feel like I’m finally starting to see some returns on my cycling efforts.  I hit my highest average pace yet for this ride (11.3 mph).  That is pretty slow, but this route features some pretty brutal hills, so I’m trying not to worry about the absolute speed.  I love, love Strava segments for bicycling.  I’m getting faster on downhills, flats and uphills.  Not much faster in most cases – but little by little, I’m making progress.  Now that summer is coming, I’m hoping to continue to gain cycling fitness in nicer weather, though I suppose the heat could be a problem.   I’m not sure what my goals are, really.  I know that I want to be able to cycle farther – how much farther, I’m not sure.  I want to be more competitive in duathlon / triathlon events.

oh, foot

I’ve been continuing to exercise six times per week – four runs, one swim, and one cycle.  I’ve been enjoying the variety of doing more than running, but on the flip side, I’ve now been running at least four times per week for about nine months, and I can feel the consistency starting to pay off.  That makes me want to run all the more.  However, my left foot is just not having it.  My plantar fascitis – or what I presume is plantar fascitis – has been becoming increasing persistent and painful.  I’m not really sure what to do about it.  Run less and focus on cycling for a month in hopes that it heals?  New running shoes?  See a podiatrist?  Stretch more?  All of the above?  I’m starting with new shoes and more consistent stretching, and if that doesn’t help within a month, I’ll drop down to running three times a week and add in an extra swim or bike.  If that doesn’t help, maybe I’ll see a doctor.  We’ll see.  This injury started around the time i switched to less supportive shoes.  I think the switch helped with my previous foot injury (which is now completely healed), but perhaps it kicked the plantar fascitis up a notch.   Oh feet!  Why do you torment me?

We just got back from a long weekend in Oregon, and it was really wonderful.  This is our second consecutive enjoyable vacation, and it was deeply needed.  For such a long time, especially after I got pregnant with B, vacations had become a chore – a source of stress and anxiety, and not really relaxing or pleasurable.  That finally has changed, thanks mostly to the kids getting older, I think.  Oregon has always been my favorite nearby getaway, and it was great to go back and just have a good.  It’s a four hour drive away, and the drive went quite well, though I was glad it wasn’t any longer.  Now we have to decide whether to go to the ‘noke in June.

Mt. Rainier Duathlon

Yesterday was my second duathlon.   Spoiler: I finished.  It actually went well overall, but I was ridiculously nervous beforehand.  The fact that the first duathlon I did turned out to be way harder than I’d anticipated due to terrible weather did not help my nerves yesterday.  After Du #1, I swore I wouldn’t do another in the rain, but on Saturday morning, I found myself under very overcast skies with a 30% chance of rain.  It actually did start raining before the race, but thankfully it was brief and not heavy.

In addition to the weather, I was also very concerned about the bike leg.  I don’t consider myself a “real” cyclist, and I just don’t have the same type of confidence on the bike that I do on my feet.  I just switched to clip-in shoes a couple weeks ago.  Also, the course featured a rather large hill.  The total elevation gain was nothing I hadn’t done before, but I’m used to a lot of up-and-down, not one big gradual hill.

Gotta love the finish photo (not):

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Course summary:

  • Run: 1.64 mi
  • Bike: 14.44 mi
  • Run: 3.79 mi

Both the runs were almost completely flat.  The bike section profile was like this:

mtrainierdu_bike

Note the 700 foot hill in the middle.

I had been working on three people trying to convince them to do the race, and all three ended up deciding not to do it.  I don’t really have any triathlon friends, and I’ve been trying to convert my friends and colleagues into triathlon people.  The other approach would be to befriend people who already like triathlon, but I find it so hard to make new friends, and I find that I rarely hit it off with athlete-types.  Anyway, I was very pleased when i showed up to run into two people I knew, a girl who’d interned at my company many years ago, and a former colleague who is a super-nice guy.  It made it a lot easier to see a friendly face, but I was still so nervous I literally thought I would puke.

Last time, my biggest problem was being ridiculously cold.  Since then, I’d bought Gore-tex pants.  I ended up deciding not to bring them on the bike, but I did put my Gore-tex jacket in my saddle-bag.  I also planned to put on a second layer for the bike and then remove it for the run.  This turned out to work really well.

The first run was easy.  It was good to finally get underway.  When I race, I always have a massive adrenaline surge, so I just tried to keep my pace controller.  According to my watch, I covered 1.6 mi at 8:14 mpm with an average heart rate of 140 bpm.  If I went out for a run on a regular day at 8 mpm, I’d be dying, but for some reason, at the *beginning* of a race, it feels easy.

I spent 2:21 in transition, about a minute more than most people.  I honestly don’t know how people get shoes changed and whatnot so quickly.  But I eventually managed to get myself and my bike out of the transition area.  I had to raise my saddle after going to clip-in pedals and have had some trouble getting going on the bike, but I managed to get clipped in and underway without to much hassle.  The girl who used to intern at my company headed out just ahead of me, and I initially tried to keep her close, but it quickly became clear that wasn’t happening.  In fact, soon enough, I got left behind by everyone who finished the run with me and found myself completely alone.  Depending on the terrain, I either couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, or could just barely see the next person.  I took a glance behind me and couldn’t see anyone behind either.  For some reason, I found this completely demoralizing and started getting stressed and anxious for a while.

Then, at mile 6, we hit the hill.  Now, my review of the altitude profile had led me to think we’d hit the hill at mile 7, so I was worried that this wasn’t really the hill and that things would get worse.  This scared the heck out of me because I was on the lowest gear and hurting.  However, I did catch up to another woman, and I just stuck to her.  There is a no-drafting rule, so I made sure to give her at least the required 3 bike lengths, but mentally, it was so helpful not to be completely alone.  We also started getting passed by the long-course folks who’d had to runan extra 3 miles or so, and honestly, I was happy to see them as well.  I slogged along.  I felt I could go a little faster, but intentionally didn’t push it, thinking I had three miles to go.  In fact, much to my joy and relief, the worst of the hill ended at a little past 8 miles.  I guess I hadn’t read the elevation chart quite right.  After that, I felt great.  Tired, but no longer worried about not being able to complete the course.  At around mile 10 or so, we hit a sharp downhill, and I started flying down the hill.  Interestingly, I found I could keep up with most of the short course people on the downhill.  I guess I’ve gotten better at downhill cycling.  The long-course people near me were front-of-the-pack folks (since they’d had to cover the extra miles), and so they were going much faster.

I pushed through the rest of the bike leg and ended up covering 14.5 miles at 13.8 mph, which is pretty fast for me, with 664 feet of elevation gain.  I hit a max speed of 28.4 mph on the downhills.  I’ve actually gone a little faster in past, but I don’t think I’ve ever ridden at such a high speed for so long before.  I’m glad I didn’t break my neck.  My HR averaged 151 bpm with a max of 166 bpm; that’s higher than I’m at typically on my training rides.  I think I lack the muscle to keep up with my cardiovascular system on bike rides, so I tend to have a lower HR.

I spent 2:29 in transition, once again about a minute longer than most people.  Oh well.

Then I hit the run.  I’d been kind of looking forward to the second run (and kind of dreading it).  I figured as a much better runner than cyclist, I’d pass a lot of people.  And I did.  I blew by a few people during the first half mile feeling great.  Then, having left behind all the cyclists I came in with, I found myself in another no-man’s land completely alone, with no one visible in front of me or behind me.  Again, I found this completely demoralizing.  The initial dead leg feeling had passed, but my feet and ankles were very sore – no idea why, but it hurt.  My second mile was my slowest, but I still gradually made some ground up, and by the end of the second mile, I was starting to catch more people again.  I picked up the pace and passed a couple more people over the last 1.7 mi.  I covered 3.7 mi at 8:02 mpm, splits 7:57, 8:40, 8:00, and 7:22.  According to my watch, I went below 6 minute pace at the very end.  Ouch.  My heart-rate averaged 158 bpm, and I hit a max of 173 bpm at the end.  (Supposedly my max heart rate for my age is 183, so maybe I should work harder?)

I was so incredibly glad to be done and enjoyed that wonderful post-race feeling of euphoria.  I ended up getting 3rd in my age group and getting to stand on an actual podium, which pleased me immensely until the results came out and I found out I was 3rd of 4.  Yup.  🙂  Oh well.

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