Cycling

Things I’m Excited About :)

“Things are looking up my dear” 

-Seema Chowdhury

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Soooo in case you hadn’t guessed, tonight I am pretty darn excited… about a few things actually.

For starters I had an awesome run this morning!  I did 6.4 miles of killer hills with my hydration pack and didn’t stop to walk at all.  Even more thrilling, I felt strong pretty much the whole way which is a stark comparison to how I have been feeling (training wise) the past few weeks.  I followed that with an awesome workout with the twelve year old trainer… did I mention I my run was to the training session?

We did some heavy lifting, and that always makes me happy.  It’s not something we Imagenormally do, but I had mentioned to the trainer that I haven’t been feeling like I’ve made that much progress based on the amount we’ve been training. I think his plan was to show me just how strong I am at this point.  I’m pretty sure I even surprised him (in addition to myself) because it took me forever to max out on a lot of our pyramids.  In fact, our session ended up running over because it was taking so long for me to fail before 10 reps.  lol

Next awesome thing- I made dinner for my family today.  As it happened, my mom’s favorite type of steak was on sale at the grocery store AND it was unseasonable cool out. So I decided I would invite my parents and sister over and make them some grilled steak and stuffed shells.  I even bought some cake and ice cream for dessert!  My mom was super thrilled, and I think Adam was glad to have a home cooked meal as well.  It was definitely a nice pick me up to get to spend some time with them and do something nice for them at the same time- especially since it’s something I used to do more regularly before my life got crazy with wedding planning and expenses.  It’s been my small way of helping my parents out at the end of the month when they are short on groceries (due to a fixed income).  It feels really good to get back into doing it for them.

As if that weren’t enough awesomeness for one day, after they left I found a 50K Ultra I think I want to do this fall called Bimbler’s Bluff.  Even the name sounds fun, right?  Plus it’s a bargain at $50.  It’s only a little over a dollar per mile! lol  The best part is they have a 10 hr time cut off, which means I can basically walk the course and still be counted as an official finisher.  This is totally my speed. 🙂

Then all that thinking about running and long distance running made me think about whether or not I should do the Hartford Marathon.  I know I had wanted to focus on biking, buuuuuuutttttttt I just can’t leave the running alone.  So that made me hop on over to the Everyday Warrior’s Blog because I remembered she had a post about personalized running shoe recommendations from Optimal Run.

By the way, if you have never been to her blog, you should definitely check it out 1) Because she is totally awesome.  If it were possible to have a blogging BFF, she would be it for me, seriously.  In fact, I think it may be pq-vibe-of-successpossible that we were separated at birth.  So if you find this blog at all entertaining you will probably love her too.  2) Because the information she provides is actually useful, and let’s be honest- we could all use another badass woman in our lives.

Anyway, I took her advice and answered all their running related questions.  Now I just need to anxiously wait like a child before Christmas for my video recommendation to arrive in my email.   If all goes well, I will hopefully find a new road running shoe that I will love as much as my innov 8 x talon 190s…. and I’ll get to keep the rest of my toe nails! 🙂

Oh and the last thing that I am actually quite stoked about is that I finally got a chance to test out my newly fitted bike… which I am actually convinced is now a death trap with those fancy new clip in pedals on it.  I have already taken two good falls (and have the scrapes and bruises to prove it!); but I have managed to get the hang of starting, stopping, and clipping in and out… at least on flat surfaces anyway.  I am hoping if I can get more comfortable in the next couple weeks that I can do either the short loop (32 miles) of the Two Ferries Ride or the 30 mile route at the Folks on Spokes.  Both rides are the same day, but the Two Ferries one is a little cheaper AND you get to ride a Ferry! How cool is that?

Overall, I am just thrilled to be out of my training slum and looking forward to bigger and brighter things. Getting to spend time with my family was an added bonus. 🙂

Never Enough

“Women are taught to feel we’re not good enough, that we must live up to someone else’s standards. But my aim is to cherish myself as I am.”

Elle Macpherson

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Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I have a propensity toward over doing it when it comes to training.  I had thought (and hoped) that by working out with a trainer and optimizing my workouts that I would do better in the moderation department… Yeeeeaaahhh  Not so much. :-/

The problem is, no matter how much I run, bike, or train in a day: it just never seems like enough.  I’m not sure exactly what makes me feel like I need to work so hard.  It’s Imagelike a compulsion.  If I don’t workout at all I feel like crap.  If I go a week or more without training I get depressed.  A couple days without a run and my anxiety goes bonkers.  I have become so physically and psychologically dependent on exercise that the idea of not training or missing a day stresses me out.  It’s like I’m completely addicted to the endorphins.  There is nothing else that even comes close to alleviating my anxiety.

The problem is, the more I train, the more I feel like I need to train.  Doing a quick 5K on the treadmill just doesn’t give me the same sense of accomplishment now as it did a year or two ago.  These days I need to get in a good 8-10 miles at a clip to get any effect.- that’s on top of the 3 workouts a week with the trainer and the easily 30+ miles I’ve been biking a week. 

Maybe my problem is that the fitter I get, the harder I have to work to feel like I’m really pushing myself; and that is what training out is all about for me- pushing my limits and reminding myself that I am stronger than I thought.  The issue becomes that there are only so many hours in a day, and I can’t spend all of them training.  As it is, I already struggle to get in enough calories to keep up with what I’m doing.  I couldn’t imagine doing or eating any more in a day!

I need to find a way to deal with my anxiety that does not solely depend on working out.  Furthermore, I need to appreciate what I can get accomplished in a week and recognize that it’s more than what most people would be willing to take on.  I need to not compare myself to what other people are accomplishing because their my-weaknessesachievements have nothing to do with me or what I am capable of.  Lastly, I need to learn to not be so critical of myself, to stop judging myself based on what I’m accomplishing this moment, and instead to look at just how far I’ve come.  

There is always going to be someone faster, stronger, or fitter, but those people have nothing to do with my journey.  I have done half marathons, tough mudders, a marathon, took on the ultra beast, and I am still standing.  I may not be currently running 30 miles a week, but I am taking on cycling– and that is HUGE for me!

In fact, I just got my bike fitted today! With big girl clip-in pedals even!  To be honest, it scares the hell out of me more than anything else, but life is best lived outside the comfort zone.  Getting into cycling has been a huge fearhurdle for me, and instead of beating myself up that I’m not getting good at it faster or logging more miles in addition, I should be celebrating the fact that I am challenging myself on a whole new level.  Soooo that is what I am going to try to focus on doing.  Instead of obsessing about getting in enough mileage to run a marathon in addition to taking up cycling, I am going to try to focus on one thing at a time.  The most important thing for me right now is to concentrate on the cycling, so that is what I plan on doing.

Rather than stress myself out about what else I could be doing, I am going to continue to remind myself just how far I have come with that bike.  I have progressed from full on panic attacks to clip in shoes!  Again, HUGE!  I rode over 100 miles of hills streets, traffic, and busy intersections on a mountain bike and earned that road bike.  I pedaled though the anxiety and panic to a point where I can enjoy cycling… and I’m sure I will get back to that place once I get the hang of these new pedals… 😉

On Being Blessed

“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.” 
― Steve Maraboli

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There are not too many people who can say they have been blessed with a second chance at life, but that is exactly what I have had.  I don’t just mean with my marriage either.

The funny thing about being in an abusive relationship is that you never realize just how bad the situation is while you are in it.  If you are a naturally upbeat person like I tend to be, then you focus on the positives and try blesseddifficultiesto rationalize or ignore the bad stuff.  Even when I was with my abuser, I still believed I was a lucky person.  I thought my abuser and his family loved me.  It was what I wanted to believe, so I did wholeheartedly.  It wasn’t until the day of the wedding when he and his family so blatantly disregarded my feelings that I could no longer make excuses or ignore the truth.  That awakening is what escalated the abuse. (If there’s one thing an abuser can’t handle it’s getting called out on his bad behavior… even when done in the meekest fashion possible!)

Had the abuse never progressed to being physical, I’m not sure that I would have gotten out as quickly as I did… or at all.  My abuser had done such a great job of manipulating the truth that it was hard to believe even what in my heart I knew was wrong.  From the second he put his hands on me, though, it was black and white.  He was the one with issues who couldn’t control his temper.  Up until that point, he had found a way to blame EVERYTHING on me.  He would twist the situation until he suited him; however, despite his best efforts- there was no turning this situation around.  When he did try to rationalize it (and make it my fault), he claimed he was being mentally abused by me and I drove him to it.  That was when I realized he was completely NUTS.  All this time he had me convinced that I was the crazy one, and now here he was grasping at straws letting his true colors show.  That is when I closed the door to us and started putting my life back together.  The fact that it was such a difficult lesson to learn does not make it any less valuable.  I didn’t stand up for myself.  I let someone walk into my life and tell me what I was worth and how to live it.  No one has that right. It’s not a mistake I’ll make twice.  

My point is if my abuser had never beat me up, I might have never realized how awful my life had become.  I had been essentially pigeonholed by my abuser for years, but because he did it so slowly over time, I never realized how much ground he took from me.  I gave up my power, my identity, and I let him control my life. I was watching everything I said and did to avoid settling him off or being criticized.

Once I was out from under his thumb, it was as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders- a weight I blessed-life1previously never realized had existed.  I was on cloud nine for about three months before the PTSD symptoms kicked in and put my life in upheaval for months on end.

While I may never be rid of my PTSD symptoms, I have gotten a lot better at recognizing and dealing with them.  They still rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times… like when I trying to go for a relaxing run on vacation and end up panicking about being abducted or attacked by bears… Yeah that’s a good time.  I used to resent having to deal with them, but now I feel like they are a small price to pay for everything I have gained from the experience.

Despite any lingering effects, I still feel incredibly blessed to have gone through the whole ordeal and come out of it a better person.  A person deprived of sunlight will appreciate it like no other- the same applies to someone deprived of the freedom to be herself.

The fact that I have a husband now who loves me unconditionally for who I am, and not who he wants me to be is just icing on the cake.   My life is no longer filled with people who knock me down and disregard my feelings.  Instead, I choose to surround myself with positive people who are more interested in encouraging and uplifting blessed-quotes-13others than tearing them down.

I am beyond fortunate to live the life I have now- on my own terms without apologizing.  I have to say it feels pretty darn good.  I am lucky to have the ability to finance my goals because running marathons isn’t cheap and triathlons are going to be even more costly.  I am also blessed with an incredibly thoughtful and supportive husband who not only made sure I got the bike I fell in love with, but also made sure I had a road kit to change a flat AND a flashing back reflector so I’m visible to traffic.   He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t cheer from the sidelines; he runs along side me… even when it’s clear that the pace is painfully slow for him.

As awful as my life was back then, that’s exactly how wonderful it is now.  I appreciate my life now in a way I never could have before.  Furthermore, I appreciate my husband and marriage  more because of everything I’ve been through.

I only wish I could let every person in an abusive situation know how much better life can be- richer, fuller, happier, fulfilling.  People going through abuse are made to believe that they are weak and helpless, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Before I was in an abusive relationship, I always thought that abusers were aware of what they were doing.  However, having spent years with my abuser, I can honestly say that he didn’t believe he was abusive.  Instead he blamed EVERYTHING in his life on EVERYONE ELSE.  I just got the brunt of it because I was closest to him.  He truly believed that I was everything wrong with his life because he was too weak to accept responsibility in his own life.  Abusers are weak individuals who need to blame their problems on other people.  They are the ones who can’t handle life, not their victims. Anyone who is able to endure abuse day in and out is stronger than any abuser out there.  The problem is, they aren’t aware of it.

My goal is to make victims and survivors aware of just how strong they are… and how much better life can be.

An Epic Week!

“There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.”  

~Mark Burnett

Haha Story of my life!!! 🙂

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I’m BAAACCKKK!!!!  And no, I was not away on a honeymoon (Boo I wish!)… Instead I have been working my ass off; now I’m here to tell you all about it!  The past few months I have been basically spending every spare second cramming for my recertification exam (the PANRE).  Prepping for this exam basically involved having to relearn everything from medical school that I don’t use on a regular basis (which is A LOT given that I work in a specialized field).  I was taking it a year early so that if I didn’t pass for any reason I would have time to try again; however this did absolutely nothing to make me feel better.  By the time I actually took the test, I had not slept in over a week- despite taking ambien on a nightly basis.  The exam itself sucked as badly as the initial certifying exam, causing me to leave the testing center with a pit in my stomach.  I didn’t feel confident about the majority of my answer choices (it’s really more of “selective the least awful answer” than “select the best answer choice”).  However, I just got my email confirmation this week that I PASSED!!!!!! That means no more cramming for another 11 years!!!   I can’t even begin to explain the sense of relief.  That was first awesome thing that happened this week.  😀

ImageBut wait! It gets better!  Saturday I took my mountain bike out for a nice long 26+ mile ride which brought me well over my goal of 100 miles biked this summer!  Beyond just being stoked about achieving my goal, I was thrilled that I managed the ride solo.  It was my first long one without Adam AND I did it on a hilly route with lots of busy streets and intersections!  This is HUGE for me!  The first bike ride I took with Adam, I couldn’t even do the downhills.  I was too scared.  Our second bike ride was completely flat and, I was still in a panic and hyperventilating.  Now,  I’m riding difficult routes in trafficwithout freaking out!

Instead, every time I get on that bike I feel strong and empowered.  Even Adam admitted he was impressed with the hills I plow up on my regular rides to the gym.  I can’t believe how far I have come in the past few weeks.  I truly feel like I have conquered a HUGE FEAR, and I am ready to take it to the next level!

Since I reached my 100 mile mark, Adam and I went bike shopping this week.  It turns out I am super short even by bike standards, so we had a hard time finding a shop with any bikes in my size to test ride.  It also turns out we hit the season at a bad time.  All the 2013 models are basically sold out, and the 2014s won’t be available for another few weeks.  This is clearly a huge bummer if you happen to be vertically challenged and looking for a bike sooner rather than later.  After 3 bike shops and several phone calls, I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

The first bike shop had nothing in my size.  The second shop was super helpful and had a few I could test ride, but would have to order the bike I wanted in a paint job I didn’t care for.  The third shop had crummy service and wanted to sell me the 2012 version with a better paint scheme for almost the same price as the newer models.  Luckily, REI had the bike I originally fell in love with in my size.  Unluckily, they don’t have a store that they will ship it to in our state. So there I was, stuck with the dilemma of whether it was really worth paying a little extra to get the paint job I really wanted AND have to drive to another state to get it… not to mention pay another shop to have it fitted properly.

While I anguished over the decision, Adam went ahead and ordered me the one I fell Imagein love with.  He said he didn’t want me to settle.  He was afraid if I went with a different bike that I would be disappointed at some point that I didn’t splurge on the one I really wanted.  I can’t help but think of how lucky I am to have him helping me through this process. Despite having to work that night, he shuttled me from bike shop to bike shop and was never anything but supportive about it.  I’m not sure I could have been as patient as he was if the situation was reversed!  He is definitely a keeper!

As far as financing this whole process, that leads me to my last big news.  For the past  several years I have had my first engagement ring and wedding band on consignment.  I put them in a store that belongs to a family friend because I wasn’t sure what to do with them, and I didn’t want to get ripped off.  To be honest, I never liked my original ring set.  In fact, I thought the engagement ring was hideous.  It was everything I said I didn’t want in a ring, but, of course, my ex thought he knew better than me and didn’t care what I liked or wanted.  Up until now, I had never had a good idea of what to do with the money if I sold the rings.  I did know it would have to be for something special.  When I was trying to figure out how to afford a road bike, it just suddenly clicked.

ImageThe reason I took on cycling was to get into triathlons- and the reason for getting into triathlons is to ultimately (someday) do an Ironman.  I could not think of a more fitting way to spend the money than purchase a vehicle to do the impossible.  My ex made it a point to regularly tell me how I never wanted to do anything and couldn’t “handle any little thing”.  I’m sure he would just die if he knew what I was doing with the money from his ring… or he would insist I was just doing it to spite him and take credit. lol  More likely the latter.

The truth is, I am always looking for a new way to challenge myself- physically and mentally.  Ever since I started hearing about the Ironman, it’s been one of those “maybe someday” goals.  Now that I am getting a road bike, that “someday” goal has morphed more into a plan.  Right now, I am focusing on getting comfortable on the bike.  I know I need to ride a lot faster and longer, but I am confident I can get there.  That will be my project for this fall.  In addition, I am working on keeping my running mileage up.  In fact, I did a 15+ mile run to celebrate my 26 mile bike ride on Sunday… at least that’s how far I made it before my groin acted up and I had to call Adam to rescue me from the 7 miles separating me and my car…  In retrospect a 20 mile run may have been ambitious following the bike ride, but I digress…

I know what you are wondering, what about the swimming?  Well, that will be the realImage challenge because I never learned to swim properly- like the whole front crawl face-in-the-water style.  I do, however, happen to know a very good swimmer and trainer who is willing to give me some lessons, so now I have my winter goal set as well: tackle swimming.

Finally, conveniently, this spring their will be a REV 3 Half Ironman just a few hours from our house… SOOOOOO if I accomplish my biking and swimming goals (and manage to stay injury free), I plan on being there.  With all Adam’s talk about family planning and baby making I feel like this is my one shot before I will have to put it off for God knows how long.  THEN, should the heavens smile upon me, and I accomplish this monumental task, we will see about a full Ironman.   Aside from the swimming, I think it’s TOTALLY doable…  lol

So that is my epic week so far.  What makes it even better is I am still on vacation AND Adam and I are going away for the weekend to the Berkshires for some hiking and relaxation!

More than anything, I am so happy to feel like I am on the right path to something.  The amount I got for the rings was exactly the amount I needed for the bike and shoes.  Somehow, I just don’t feel like that’s a coincidence.  If I can come from where I started both mentally and physically and even take on just the Half Ironman, I think it will be a huge accomplishment AND speak volumes to what victims of violence can accomplish when they decide to embrace life and challenge themselves.  The fact that the start of my journey to the Ironman coincides with getting rid of the very last piece of my past is purely poetic to me.

I feel like this song was made for me and thivers everywhere. 🙂