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 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.)

i’m the tortoise

As I have mentioned previously, I am far more motivated to exercise if I have a specific goal. Last year I bit off probably more than I could chew and decided to train for both the Portland half marathon in May, and the Tour de Victoria in June. Training was actually going okay until a trip to Saudi put the kibosh on the half marathon. This was probably a blessing in disguise. I went on to do the Tour and was very pleased with my ride.

This year, the Portland half marathon was in the plan from early on. Four friends did it last year and enjoyed it, and they are doing it again, this time with a bigger group, and also to celebrate a 40th birthday. I didn’t need much convincing. I always said if I did another half it would have to be in another city, and Portland is just fine with me. Plus it means a weekend away for Greg and I, sans kids. The only downside was that I wouldn’t be able to do the Tour, as I really didn’t want to train for both again.

But then a 2013 Tour de Victoria update came out, and they announced that the ride would be in September this year. I quickly calculated the number of months I had to train, assuming I wouldn’t start until after Portland, and decided that four months was just plenty. So I signed up for both.

The run is in three weeks, and I was very much on track training-wise until I got sick over a week ago. Just a cold, but it has wiped me out and I have no energy to run. I missed my long run (supposed to be 2:10) last weekend, and things weren’t looking good for this weekend either. But yesterday I decided I’d at least go out for half an hour today, even if it was painful. I woke up feeling a bit better, and felt like I was coughing less. I went to Elk Lake and ended up running 10K, but it was the slowest 10K I’ve ever done. So slow that I’m not sharing my time here. But I did it.

I know I’ll be fine for the race — I’m a slow runner at the best of times and my expectations are pretty low, but it still bums me out that I’ve missed two long runs. It seems to be the name of the game, though, training plans getting screwed up. Last year it was Saudi, and in previous years I’ve had other issues, one of which was a wasp sting on the bottom of my foot that sidelined me for a couple of weeks. The plus side to being sick now is that it’s unlikely I’ll be sick on race day. Fingers crossed.

back on the wagon (well one of them anyway)

I haven’t biked much, but I ran on Wednesday and Friday last week, and Sunday morning, after a shitty sleep, after clearing my eyes of the lovely pink eye crusties, and with a sore throat, I set forth in the pouring rain and ran longer than I have in seven years — for 60 minutes. And it was twice around upper Thetis so it wasn’t a mamby-pamby flat run either.

I rock.

kind of fell off the wagon

Saturday I went for my longest run in a while — 7.5 km — and Sunday afternoon I rode the trainer for 30 minutes (even though I would have MUCH preferred to have a nap). But I’ve done nothing since then. It snowed. I got a cold. Work was busy. School and daycare were cancelled. I still feel sick. There is still snow on the ground.

It’s only a few days missed, but I was doing so well that I feel a bit disappointed in myself. I guess in a way it’s a good thing that the snow coincided with my cold. Next week there will be no snow, I should be feeling better and I’ll get back into it.

still committed

12 days into January…so far I’ve done two rides, four runs (one of which was in the pouring rain, and two more of which were in sub-zero temperatures) and one swim. I’d say things are going well.

All of my runs have been with a woman who lives in my neighbourhood, and I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t have run four times in the last week had it not been for her. When my alarm goes off at 6:10 in the morning the LAST thing I want to do is get out of my warm bed, go outside and run. Ick. But knowing I have to meet someone gets me moving, and once I start I enjoy it. She’s a slow runner like me, and much as I say I like running alone, it’s been great having company.

On Tuesday night I woke up with some pretty severe pain just above my right knee, enough pain to wake me up. Wednesday morning we had planned a run so I dutifully got out of bed and limped downstairs. And still went running. This is how I’ve dealt with all my running injuries over the past few years. None of them are major and I just run through them. It’s probably pretty stupid but it seems to work. By the end of Wednesday’s run it was feeling better, then I ran again this morning. It was still a bit painful, but it gradually got better throughout the day and I don’t feel any pain now. One day this method’s not going to work, but I’ll keeping doing it until that day comes.

I’ve got a ride planned for Sunday and I should get a run in as well, but we’ve got a pretty packed weekend so I’m not sure that’ll happen. Just the first weekend of many where I’ll have to juggle a few too many things and something will fall. Makes me feel even better about how much I’ve done in the past 12 days. There will be good weeks and bad weeks, and that’s okay.

committed

Last year I briefly contemplated doing the GoodLife Fitness half marathon here in Victoria. Several friends were doing it, I haven’t done one for a while (6+ years), and I was fresh off my high from completing the Tour de Victoria. Then I started training. Very lightly. I don’t know if I was tired of training, just not into doing any runs longer than 30 minutes, or if I was too busy with life, but whatever the reason I was not enjoying it. At all. And during one morning run I just decided to screw it and be a (really good) spectator. Yes I exercise more regularly with a goal, but I’d just achieved my Tour de Victoria goal and I wasn’t really into doing anything else at the time.

Actually, after re-reading the previous paragraph I think I remember the real reason. I hate doing half marathons. It’s a freaking long way to run for me, I’m a slow runner so it takes forever, and every one I’ve done has been very painful. After I completed my last one, I told myself the only reason I’d do another is if it were a destination race. And doing Victoria for a third time certainly didn’t fit that bill. So I continued through the summer running once or twice a week, riding occasionally and keeping in moderately good shape. In October I proudly watched my friends do the half and had no regrets.

But then these same friends started talking about doing another race, the Rock ‘n’ Roll half in Portland in May. And I found myself seriously thinking about it. It’s a destination race (no, it’s not exotic, but it’s still not a bad place to visit) and there is live music every mile. My kind of motivation. A complicating factor was that I’d already signed up for the 2012 Tour de Victoria, but that almost made it more appealing — training for both at once would be a great goal for me for 2012. So I took the plunge and decided to go for it (theoretically, any way…for the record I haven’t actually signed up for the race yet).

There will be some barriers that I need to navigate around, time being the biggest. I’ve got this mother gig going strong and taking several hours out of each weekend to train for both a ride and a run is going to take some work, especially when Greg is also training for the Tour. My ideal schedule will probably not be feasible and I’ll have to accept what I can do. I also have another two week Saudi trip tentatively planned for the end of March, and I’ll have to figure out how to do some significant exercise in the confines of a hotel room. But the point isn’t to win, the point is to have some fun, get back into shape and feel challenged.

And I’ve started the year off right. On January 1st I went for an hour ride, and this morning, having slept only four hours due to a sick dog, I dragged myself out of bed and went for a 30 minute run in the PISSING rain. And enjoyed it.

As I was finishing my run, I had a surge of positive energy, and I had the thought (as Elliot would say): I’m SO going to do this. Let’s see if I can hold on to that for the next five months.

next up: tour de victoria

From a fitness perspective, I do better when I have a goal. Not the “I’m going to run three times a week” type of goal, but the “I’m going to do something that kind of freaks the shit out of me” type of goal. Ok, it’s only a bike race, and not even a race at that, but seeing as it’s a good three times longer than anything I’ve ever ridden, it does kind of freak me out. Plus it’ll be with hundreds of other riders. That in itself freaks me out.

I signed up for the Tour De Victoria today. It’s a 140km or 90km ride (I chose the latter) on Ryder Hesjedal’s “favourite roads that he uses to train for the Tour de France.”

There are several reasons why I did this. One, when I read about it, it got me excited about getting fit again. Something that hasn’t happened since my first couple of years of doing triathlons.

Second, I’ve been wanting to buy a road bike for years, but there’s not really a point unless I’m going to actually use it. This will make me use it.

Third, it’s something Greg and I can (sort of) do together. He signed up as well, and although we won’t be able to train much together, we will be training for the same goal, and we’ll be able to do the actual ride together.

Fourth (and not the least important), I’m hoping training for this ride results in me being able to once again eat what I want without having to think about it. Lately with my couch potatoness I’ve been experiencing some guilt (and other obvious side effects) over what I eat post dinner.

And as an added bonus it’ll give me some blogging material.

So…now I need to buy a bike, build up some callouses on my butt, and start getting my cycling legs and lungs. Also I should probably figure out how to pronounce Ryder Hesjedal’s last name properly.

today, i exercised

I halfheartedly tried to break my running date with kaptaink this afternoon, but she was my conscience and got me out there. We decided to run around Cedar Hill golf course. We finished up a lap, and were both feeling pretty good, so we went around again. We didn’t run the whole second lap, but I’m pretty sure we did at least 5 km. Longest I’ve run for a while.

Upon arriving home, I basically turned around and went out the door again, pushing my 20-pound toddler in her 10-pound stroller for a half hour walk with Yoshi.

When I squatted down to grab something off the floor this evening, there was a moment where I thought I wasn’t going to make it back up again. My legs are certainly feeling it.