number nine: tour de victoria

I’m a bit behind in my 52 posts…not surprising given my track record. I do have 9 or 10 posts from Greece that I intend to publish, but I’ve been waiting for Greg to take a look at the comments on this site to see if he can get them working again. Because really, what’s the point of posting if you can’t get comments?! We’ve also talked about changing blogging software (I have other issues besides the comments, namely I find it really hard to post pictures with Drupal), but porting all my content over seems to be an issue. So I’m also toying with switching to something else and starting fresh, while maintaining my old content online so I can link to it and read it.

So, just a bit of an administrative update. While I ponder my options, I’ll post by Tour de Victoria write-up here, and try to imagine all the comments I would have got if things were working.

UPDATE: Apparently you can comment if you log in…so if you’ve got the urge, please do!

The ride was on September 22. For those of you who weren’t out riding or cheering that day, you probably don’t remember what the weather was like. It rained. A lot. And it was windy in Sidney. Very windy.

Actually let me back up a bit. As I noted earlier, my knee had been giving me some grief during my training. I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and had pretty much decided to start the 140 km and just see how far I got, but during my last training ride I realized that idea sucked, because in all likelihood I wasn’t going to be able to finish, and then I’d be quitting and I’d feel crappy. So instead I switched to the 100 km distance, feeling pretty confident that I would finish. I still felt disappointed that I wasn’t doing the longer distance, but 100 km isn’t half bad.

The forecast was looking grim all week, and sure enough we woke up to rain. But thankfully just a light rain, and as I drove to the start line in Langford it remained light. I debated whether to wear my booties, and when I got out there I took a look at what other people were wearing and decided to wear them since at least half of the other racers were. Very good decision.

We started on time, with Ryder Hesjedal leading the way. Still just light rain, but the roads were slick. As we made our way out to Munns it started raining harder, but I was going uphill and was actually quite hot. Hot enough to unzip my jacket all the way. But as I got nearer to the top I realized I was going to freeze my butt off if I kept it open for the downhill, and there was no way I was stopping at the top of Munns with the other 100+ riders who stop there, so I quickly pulled over and rezipped.

Munns didn’t seem too bad (although I have to admit that my recollection may be off, it was a few weeks ago!). I did a good portion of the climb with a woman who had a hernia, so even in my wet state I knew things could be much worse. I was also bolstered by the people who were from out of town complaining about (and walking up) the hills. At no point did I feel like I needed to walk.

Going down was a bit slower than usual for me because of the wet roads, and I got thoroughly soaked and muddy due to my lack of fenders. Ross Durrance Road was a bit tricky because it’s narrow and people were riding in the middle of the road, slowly, and I was getting frustrated. I finally was able to pass a few people and go at my own pace, and I continued on for quite a while fairly comfortably. My knee wasn’t hurting and I was warm enough. As I got closer to Sidney, though, it started raining harder, and as we moved from one side of the peninsula to the other, the wind hit. HARD. I actually started laughing because I’ve never ridden in such terrible conditions, and here I was paying money to do it.

At this point too I was worried about Greg. The previous year he had passed me on Munns, and here I was 50 km into the race and he still hadn’t passed me. I took my phone out a couple of times to see if he had texted me, but nothing. I was a bit too tired, wet and cold to put too much emotional energy into it, and I did figure if something terrible had happened they would have phoned me. So I plodded on. The stretch from Wain Road to the top of Ash was by far the worst weather-wise. I still can’t believe I rode through such a mess.

As I rode along Mt. Doug Parkway, one of Greg’s riding partners passed me and gave me an update: Greg was having a crappy ride and was 5 to 10 minutes back. He and I rode for a few minutes together which was a nice diversion, and the timing was good because it was right before Ash and it prevented my from dwelling on my least favourite hill. I felt terrible for Greg, but I also hoped he’d catch up with me so we could ride the rest of the race together. And I was relieved to know he hadn’t crashed.

I made it up Ash thanks to all the cheerleaders on the sidelines, and once at the top realized that the worst was over. I was also hanging on to the fact that a couple of friends might be waiting for me on King George Terrace. I wasn’t sure if the weather would keep them away, but they are pretty diehard so I was hoping for the best.

Getting through Uplands seemed long, and I had realized by then there was no way I was beating my time from last year, but I also realized that I was far enough along that I would finish, and given the awful conditions I felt pretty darn good about myself.

As I climbed the first hill on King George Terrace, I saw a cardboard sign referencing cowbells that made me pretty sure my friends would be waiting for me on the next hill. Sure enough, they were there with cowbells, loud voices and additional friends that I didn’t realized were coming out. I rode over to them and had a quick stop and a hug, and then headed downhill to the home stretch feeling encouraged. As I made my way to the inner harbour I kept hoping Greg would catch up to me, but I crossed the finish line on my own. Soaking wet, freezing cold, and grinning.

Greg came across about 15 minutes later, unfortunately feeling pretty down, and we ended up going home instead of taking part in any post-race festivities. This was fine by me because I was beyond cold and we still had to ride home. The shower that followed was the best part of my day! Greg and I ended up going out for a burger and beer together once we were warmed up, and even though Greg was feeling so discouraged he was good company and it was a really nice way to wrap up the ride.

As for what’s next…not sure yet! Stay tuned.

number eight: amy’s first week of school

I promised to write about Amy’s first week of school. I’ve been putting it off partly because of time and partly because I haven’t felt like writing about it. But I feel I should get it down.

First off, she was sick for the first two days. Quite sick. So she missed her first day, which was an hour orientation with a small number of classmates, and she missed her second day, which was her first whole day. Then we had a weekend, and Monday morning rolled around, her actual first day.

So to give some context, this is a girl who has been super excited to start kindergarten. She talked about it enthusiastically throughout summer and she left daycare in July and didn’t really talk about missing it (granted, she was on vacation with me and her brother, so perhaps not surprising). This is also a girl who is emotional and wears here emotions on her sleeve.

I was expecting some tears on her first day, and there were some. She bravely went in to the school, though, and when I picked her up she was very happy. I’m not sure I expected tears on the second day. I guess I wouldn’t have been surprised. But I can honestly say that I did not expect tears on day 15, or 16…or day 22. But here we are, and there are still tears. Well, to be accurate, according to Greg, there were no tears this morning, just a sad face, but Amy insists she cried. So yes, more than four weeks of tears.

We’ve talked about it, and she’s very clear on the fact that she feels very sad saying good bye. And she does. She even cried at daycare sometimes. But it was easier on me then, because I could hand her directly into a caregiver’s arms (which we did), and she got a good cuddle, and 30 seconds later she was ready to roll. At school, while her teacher has been amazing, and holds her hand going into the school, it’s not quite the same. It’s not familiar (for me or her) and it’s not as intimate an environment. There are almost 500 kids at that school. There were 16 at her daycare!

So you’ll notice that “me” cropped up in the previous paragraph. I recognize this is a me issue. SHE is fine after drop off (according to her teacher and to the EA who is in the class some times). SHE is happy when I pick her up, and often does not want to leave after school care. She tells me all the good things about school (her teacher, some of the kids, recess, etc.) and all the not-so-good things about school. The only thing in the latter list is saying good bye. (As an aside, I am pretty sure we’ve heard more about kindergarten from her in one month than we did from Elliot all year.)

After a particularly bad drop off last week, where there was a substitute and I left her in the classroom, hearing her crying for me as I walked down the hall, Greg and I decided that he would do as many drop offs as possible. Amy is still upset when Greg does it, but perhaps not as much, and it doesn’t affect him as much as me. I think he can reassure himself that she’s fine. I can at a theoretical level, but not at an emotional level. That bad drop off had me crying uncontrollably, once I got back to the privacy of my car. Things have been better, mostly because of the Greg plan, but I did take her to school yesterday and we both survived.

I am pretty sure that Elliot felt the same way for the first few weeks (months?) of kindergarten, based on his behaviour. But his response, typical of his personality, was to keep it all in. While it was easier on me, I do appreciate the fact that Amy is so open to talking. About anything. She doesn’t actually stop talking until she’s asleep. So we talk about it a lot. She tells me the times of day she is sad, and when she is happy. Apparently it takes her until lunch time to be happy, but I suspect that’s not entirely accurate. And we tell her how brave she is, and we focus on the fact that she just needs to get through the good bye…and it’s probably sinking in at some level. I do look forward to the day when I can give her a hug, kiss and a good bye, and watch her smile and walk off. Elliot got there, and I know she’ll get there too. One day!

number six: the bookends of my day

My day started with dropping off Amy at school for her second day of kindergarten. She was in tears as we stood in her class lineup outside the school. It’s only her second day, and she was scared, feeling shy and wanting her mum. I gave her lots of hugs and watched as she pulled herself together and walked bravely into the school. I put my sunglasses on and walked back to the car in tears. I know things will get better (likely quickly, knowing Amy), but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Fast forward to now, nearing the end of my day, and I get the following text from Greg, who is with the kids at their first swimming lesson:
Holy crap. E just dove into the deep end by himself with no life jacket!

My heart soared. Elliot’s initial few years with water were pretty tentative, and it’s only in the last year that he’s starting to feel really comfortable. And going into the deep end with no life jacket is pretty darn remarkable.

It’s a good reminder that despite the hard stuff there is also much, much joy as I watch my kids go through the various milestones of their lives.

number five: the first week of school for elliot

Elliot’s first week of school went well. Drop-off on the first day was better than expected, and there were no tears. As mentioned in my previous post, he was quiet all morning (although I think having some play time with Amy was a good distraction), and he stuck close to us when we got to the school. Things are a bit chaotic on the first day, because none of us know what teacher our kids have or what door to go to. Last year this was a bit of a shock for me (kindergarten is more straightforward), but this year I was expecting it, so it was at least easier on me!

We figured out what door to go to, and as soon as we got there, Elliot saw some friends and he perked up a bit and starting chatting with them. We found out what teacher he had, and that two of his friends were in the same class as him. As the teacher lined the kids up, I saw that there were only about 10 kids…and realized he must be in a split class. It’s a Grade 2/3 split, which is just fine with me. As they filed into the school Elliot was engaged in conversation with a friend and barely said goodbye to Greg. I followed him in and watched as he found his cubby and sat down in the classroom to listen to his teacher. The teacher instructed the kids to say goodbye to their parents (translation for us parents: it’s time to leave now), Elliot gave me a quick hug and all was good.

The rest of the week’s drop-offs were pretty standard for us — he looks a bit sad and asks me to stay, but resigns himself to the fact that that’s not possible.

There are only four kids in his class from last year’s class, but that doesn’t seem to bug him. The teacher he has is the “tougher” of the Grade 2 teachers, so I’ve heard, but I think he’ll do okay with that, too. So all-in-all, I’d say it was a successful week. Amy, on the other hand…stay tuned for a subsequent post.

number four: highlighting the differences

Today is the first day of school. Elliot is starting grade 2, and Amy is going into kindergarten. Amy has been quite excited over the last week, asking me lots of questions about school and her schedule for the week (she doesn’t actually have a full day until Friday). Elliot hasn’t said a word about school. Yesterday Amy was so excited she couldn’t sleep. And she’d already planned what she would wear. Elliot had a stomach ache all day.

This morning I’ve been in the basement working, listening to the sounds of everyone getting ready. Amy is currently singing, and has been doing so for the last ten minutes. She is dressed and her teeth are brushed, and we aren’t leaving for another 30 minutes. I haven’t heard a word from Elliot. If I didn’t know better, I’d say he was still in bed. I suspect he is having a silent freak out.

I feel so bad for the poor boy. I know what it’s like to be scared of new stuff. I’ve been dealing with similar feelings for over 40 years, and it sucks. I admire those who embrace and get excited by change. I don’t think I’ll ever get there, and I don’t think Elliot will either. I’m hoping we can teach him some coping strategies, and I’m hoping he at least gets to the point I’m at, where I can tell myself that it DOES get better. The new stuff becomes not-so-new.

I sure am proud of them both, and I look forward to writing a post when they are both settled into school, and when their mother is feeling a bit more settled herself!

number three: damn body

As I mentioned previously, I’m currently training for the Tour de Victoria. I’m planning on doing the 140 km route, which will be 40% more than I’ve ever ridden before. My training was going pretty well until I got new pedals and shoes. Ever since I started road riding I’ve been riding with mountain bike pedals and shoes. The shoes have been with me for a decade, maybe close to two. They are still functional, but the pedals are getting a bit hard to get in and out of, and Greg pointed out I’d get more power out of some proper road shoes and pedals. It’s been on my mind for over a year to upgrade, and I’ve even tried on a few pairs of shoes, but that’s as far as I’ve got.

Then Ryder’s Cycles had their going out of business sale. Greg dropped by and saw some road pedals on sale. I went up and found shoes as well, and managed to equip myself for well under $200.

It’s unfortunately been downhill ever since. As soon as I started my first ride, my left knee felt strange. This is the knee I wrecked in high school, and it never feels normal, but it felt worse with the new pedals. I can’t describe it as pain, just discomfort, and the feeling that my foot was too far in. I messed with the cleats for a couple more rides and then decided to get fitted properly. Through all this my right knee has had no issues, and felt very comfortable.

The guys at the bike store were able to identify a couple of issues and they tweaked things a bit. That evening I went for a long ride, and it felt better (not perfect) for a while, but about an hour in, the back of my right knee started hurting. I kept riding, because people in general are stupid about listening to their bodies, and by the end of the ride I almost had to phone Greg to pick me up. It was very hard to bend my knee, and very hard to apply any pressure on the pedal. The next day I was in a lot of pain, but surprisingly I recovered fairly quickly. So of course I went for another ride about a week later. Again, I was fine for a while, and then the pain set in. I was a bit smarter this time and headed home early, but I wasn’t too happy with the situation.

I decided to abandon the new pedals and shoes, and Greg put my old pedals back on my bike. After an 8 day break, I went for another ride. My left knee felt no discomfort (which was expected, being back in the old position), and for almost two hours I felt great. And then the right knee pain set in again. I rode for another 90 minutes, but it wasn’t fun.

So now I don’t know what to do. My suspicion is that the right knee issues have nothing to do with my pedals, and I’ve actually injured myself. The next logical step would be to seek help…but I’m fairly sure that help will tell me to stop riding for a bit. And even if they don’t, I’m scheduled for a 140 km ride in a month and the longest I’ve ridden is 90 km. And most of my long rides have been painful, so the thought of adding another 50-60 km is not appealing. But I want to do it because I’ve never done it before. I don’t want to do just the 100 km again, and I don’t want to bow out (the money alone would bug me, let alone sitting on the sidelines).

I was thinking about the differences between this year and last, and apart from the pedals, last year I was on my bike a bit less, and I was running and swimming as well. This year I’m doing nothing but riding.

So I’m going to give myself another week break from riding, and get back into the pool. I suspect it’s not going to help, but I’m going to give it a try. I know the smart thing would be to just stop and figure out what’s going on, but I’m not prepared to do that yet. I suppose it doesn’t hurt enough yet. (But at the rate I’m going, I’ll get there.)

number two: peas from different pods

It struck me recently that one of the main differences between my two children is the behaviour they exhibit when they are upset about something. Amy makes is abundantly (and loudly) clear what is upsetting her. I don’t think I’ve ever had to guess. Elliot shuts off when he’s upset, and does not want to talk. And I often have no clue as to why he’s upset. I can see when he becomes upset, but not why. Saying he doesn’t want to talk isn’t exactly accurate, either. He often says something while he’s crying that is really difficult to understand and I’m fairly certain he does it on purpose. It feels very much like he’s manipulating me when he’s angry.

Tonight was a perfect example. The kids and I were at a BBQ with our neighbours, and I was offered a sparkling fruit juice. I accepted, opened it up and started drinking it. Amy asked me if she could try it and I gave her a sip. Elliot came up a couple of minutes later and asked as well. Both kids don’t tend to like fizzy drinks, so I warned both of them before they tried it. When I gave Elliot his warning he burst into tears and stalked off. When I approached him, he told me to go away (which is common when he’s angry and something I find difficult to deal with).

What followed was typical. I approached him a couple of times, asking him what was wrong, and he would either cry and say something non-intelligible or stalk away from me. Sometimes this really pisses me off, sometimes I can be patient. Tonight it pissed me off and while I managed to keep my cool, I did tell him he had two choices: he could sit and sulk or he could tell me what was wrong and we could talk about it. Then I left him. He spent about 20 minutes pouting, but he eventually came over and joined us. He didn’t join me, he joined our neighbour’s daughter. And a little while later he was fine.

When this happens I have started talking to him about it later, when tempers have cooled. I did that tonight, and when I asked him what was wrong he got a bit weird on me but he did tell me. Apparently he had asked our neighbour for one of the fizzy drinks, and was told he could have one if it was okay with me. When he came over to me when I had the drink, it was to ask if he could have one. But he didn’t ask. He instead asked me if he could try it. And when I told him it was fizzy he interpreted that as a “no” and got upset. While I don’t fully understand his logic, I’m happy he can tell me about it later, as this hasn’t always been the case. I told him that I had had no idea why he was upset, and if he had told me right at the time, my response would have been a yes, and he would have gotten his drink. He changed the subject because he gets uncomfortable talking about this stuff, but before I let him change it, I asked him if he understood. He said yes, and we moved on.

As I said above, I do feel like he tries to manipulate me when he’s angry. Another scenario is when we excuse him from the dinner table for bad behaviour (which doesn’t happen very often) and ask him to go to his room until he’s ready to join us. He then doesn’t come back down, gets very upset, and when we eventually go up to talk to him he turns our words around and says we told him he couldn’t come back down. I’m a bit at a loss as to how to deal with it, but I have started trying to turn it back to him, and telling him that he’s making the choice to hear the words differently. Needless to say, this doesn’t go well in the heat of the moment.

Elliot’s anger has always been his hardest emotion for me to know how to navigate. I want to help him, yet often my own anger gets in the way. I think we may be making progress, but I think we still have a long way to go.

number one: busy

I don’t know what Greg and I did with our free time before we had children. I don’t even remember thinking we had much free time, but boy, did we ever. It feels like we are going non-stop, especially now that summer has arrived. And I know we are not alone.

Take this weekend for example. Friday I worked in the morning, spent about four hours getting ready for a camping trip, left at around 5:00 for said trip, and camped for two nights (and admittedly did spend some time sitting around, but not much!). We arrived home late last night, got the kids into bed, cleaned up a bit and went to bed completely exhausted. This morning I got up, went for a 50 km bike ride, got home, sent Greg out on his bike ride, went grocery shopping with the kids, baked a cake, cleaned up a bit more from camping, and prepped for a BBQ we were hosting with our neighbours. Thank goodness they were doing most of the work. Then we had the BBQ, cleaned up, hung three loads of laundry and watered the plants. Whew!

I complain about the pace sometimes, but I don’t think I actually mind it that much, because most of the time we are doing things we have explicitly chosen to do, and we are having fun. Especially around this time of year. I don’t do well (neither do my kids) if I don’t have a plan, and it needs to be a plan of action. It doesn’t have to be high-energy action, we just need to do something.

I think my poor husband suffers a bit, but he keeps his mouth shut most of the time. And he does benefit from the fun stuff we do, so it’s not all suffering!

And now we are at the end of our first (busy) summer weekend, and I’m feeling like I’ve had a real holiday, even if it’s just been three days.