Monday, May 26, 2014

Week #3: Sick and Solo

My week didn't exactly go as planned. The cold that I thought I wouldn't make any worse with last Sunday's ride definitely got worse, although I think it was the natural course of things and the ride still didn't really hurt anything. Regardless, it turned into a nasty cough, I lost my voice on Monday, and it's a good thing I held off on sick days during the sore throat phase, because I needed them when the cough set in. I ended up missing all of Tuesday and only working partial days on Wednesday and Thursday.

My three-day weekend was kind of a bust since as of last night I was still dealing with violent coughing fits when I try to sleep, and I'm really only able to get a few quite hours between 2-ish a.m. and whenever I have to get up. It was going to be a semi-bummer weekend, anyway, because Frank has been at an academic conference in San Antonio since Friday morning.

I had still planned on busting out some good rides on my own, but being alone and feeling crappy killed my motivation. I finally got out for a ride today, going back to the "it won't make it worse" principle and because I did feel sort of better. I realized that all the drugs weren't helping my nighttime coughing, so I skipped them last night and felt better in the morning, even if my coughing was the same.

Anyway, despite feeling off my game, I knocked out the Tussey Ridge, Tussey Extension, and John Wert loop today. We have never actually finished this entire loop, because we got lost on our first attempt and then tried a couple of times on weeknights and ran out of time, so we skipped John Wert. I have to say that John Wert was easier than the last time when we were cold, tired, and frustrated, but still pretty darn hard. There's still a lot of "I have no idea what to do with that" rocky sections.

However, I guess I need to figure out what to do with that. Since it was announced earlier in the week, I've been obsessed with the Transylvania Epic's "East Coast Rocks" category. Like the enduro competition, it is based only on the riders' performance on designated sections of the course. In this case, six sections of the most quintessential Central Pennsylvania gnar, two of which were on my ride today. I'll never have the engine to compete for the GC in a big mountain bike stage race, but I'm interested to see what I can do with a year of practice, practice, practice on the rocks.

With my photographer out of town, you'll have to settle for my camera phone shots this week:

Tussey: Allergen style


John Wert wasn't as bad as I remembered. Of course, I forgot to take a picture of the actual hard part.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week #2: Back Into Good

The first week of my fresh start went okay, despite the fact that pulling yourself out of bad habits and back into the good is always a challenge. Work was still very busy on Monday through Wednesday, as I spent my days running around the World Campus student service areas helping users work out the kinks in the new version of Talisma. We were back to normal office hours, but it was go, go, go the whole time we were there.

Despite all of this, I was doggedly determined to get back on track with food and fitness, and I was very successful in only eating home cooked food and sticking to my planned workouts on Monday through Wednesday. This included my first weight training session in three weeks on Monday, which inevitably led to soreness, even though I tried not to overdo it.

Tuesday was our first attempt at the weekly local short track session that had started the week before when we were busy on our Tussey ride during the vacation day that I took. I've dreamed of having a local weeknight short track session available for years, but no one could ever get one going at Wapehani, although there was plenty of talk about it. Ironically, for all the rocky, climby trails we have out in the state forest, State College actually offers a more short-track appropriate venue than any of the "flowy Midwestern trails" near Bloomington. There is a little four-mile trail right in town called AccuWeather (I think weather site owns the land?) that is nearly pancake flat with lots of tight twists and turns winding through the trees. There are a lot of log crossing that drain your speed, but otherwise it's an excellent primer for speedy, bike-leaning practice. I didn't really put out any sort of race effort in an attempt to not exacerbate the impending soreness from Monday's weights, but I'm looking forward to letting loose as at the summer passes and my body can handle more efforts.

Wednesday I was stupidly sore as predicted, but I still made it to the gym to try and keep up my streak and continue to build good habits. I kept it *very* short and light, but even that took a lot out of me. At that point, my immune system decided to assert its general pissed-off state regarding the abuse that had been heaped on it in the past 2-3 weeks. I went from a slightly dry, scratchy throat when I left work to the most painful sore throat I've had in years two hours later. I wanted to call in sick on Thursday and Friday, but I thought that one day off in my first five weeks of employment was bad enough, and I didn't want to add to that total. So I spent Thursday-Saturday pounding Tylenol and Chloraseptic, and doing as little as possible except put in my requisite time at work, which luckily became much calmer during the latter half of the week.

The one highlight of this period was that in addition to the life-event finishing line I reached the weekend before, Frank reached his on Friday. He successfully passed his dissertation defense and is now a full-fledged PhD. Since I made the decision to move to State College in February, I've been really focused on all of the things that I've had to overcome, but I can't discount the fact that during the last year he has also completed the hardest task of his life while driving to Indiana on a regular basis and being supportive of me in my struggles. I am so proud of him for successfully finishing what I know seemed like a huge overwhelming task for him when we met. So we did! After close to a year of maintaining a long-distance relationship while each dealing with some pretty big life things of our own, we have made it out the other side together and happy. Of course, there we likely still have at least one more big move in front of us, but surely it will be easier doing it together.

Even though my throat still wasn't feeling that awesome on Sunday, at least the muscle soreness was gone, and I figured that I probably wouldn't make the situation worse by riding. I was also four weeks behind on my long ride schedule with a mere four weeks until the Rothrock Trailmix/Stoopid 50 race week. At this point we are almost certainly doing the 36-mile Trailmix, but at least I still have the Rattling Creek 50 in August to satisfy my endurance ego.

And my endurance ego is pretty bruised right now to say the least. It's so hard to come to terms with the fact that a 36-mile is such a challenge for me. It sounds so stupid when you say it in regard to pure mileage. I keep reminding myself that those 36 miles have more climbing than the Gravel Grovel plus a ton of rocks. The course is longer and harder than last year's, so it's hard to say for sure, but I bet the winning women's time is only a tad under 4.5 hours. If I can stay within an hour of that I'll be stoked.

#scenicvistaselfie: Green Leafy Edition

So while part of me wants to be mad that my 23-mile "long ride" felt so hard, and that the idea of adding the Tussey loop to the end of what we did yesterday still blows my mind a little, I'll choose to focus on the fact I did finally complete the 23-mile ride that has been scaring me for weeks. I guess the upside being put in my place by Rothrock is that once I do conquer it, I know I'll be a certified badass.

I guess I have a new recruitment slogan to get Midwestern girls to come ride the East Coast Gnar:  There's strong, and there's Rothrock strong. Of course, this made me think of one of my favorite songs from when I was younger, and I realized that I finally got to live it out, but on my own terms. Because, you know, I was into Boulder before it got too mainstream.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Week #1: A New Beginning

Once again I am late on my blog post due to the craziness of the week before. Even with the rest day on Tuesday, the remainder of the week still turned kind of insane. Wednesday through Saturday looked a whole lot like the picture above, except that there were usually other people in the room. It was just many, many hours of waiting for data to be imported into the new system, then a rush to validate it so that we could get the next import going. For those of us on the less-technical side of the project, there wasn't a lot we could do to speed things along, so we just waited for news and did what we could. This involved a lot of sitting around in a room full of computers and junk food.

In more resilient times I might have made it through the whole day without that first cookie, but most of my resilience has been chipped away in the past few months. To paraphrase the alcoholic saying, one cookie is too much, and a thousand aren't enough. The binge eater in me took over and let the sugar cut the tension, only feel terrible when I got home. At least I came home to an understanding partner who didn't get too judgy face about my lapse in willpower, and I was able to still enjoy my time at home with him in the evenings instead of sneaking more junk food.

My part was finally done on Saturday afternoon, so Frank and I took the opportunity to drive out to a farm about a half-hour away to pick up the first grass-fed quarter beef for our newly-established household. A new freezer of meat is always good inspiration to get on the right track with eating again. Of course, before heading home we did stop by a restaurant and brewery that he likes out that direction and had some beer and a definitely not-paleo late lunch, but it was a nice way to chill out a bit after the crazy few days of work.

On Sunday morning, I was finally able to sleep in and wake up to a fresh start. While I didn't feel up to the next long ride on my previously-planned schedule, we did get a nice ride in at Cooper's Gap, where we finally completed the "Cooper's Gap Highlight's" ride successfully.

So I've decided that instead of Week #71, that this will be the new Week #1. It's been a long journey getting to where I want to be in life (way more than the 10 weeks I originally planned), but I'm finally here. The cost has been that the last two to three months have really took their toll on my body and my fitness, especially the move, the conference, and the software upgrade. I'm afraid to look at the scale, but I've got to be at least ten pounds heavier than I was a year ago. However, things are finally back to where I don't see any big obstacles standing in my way. Now there's just the task of getting myself back into good habits so that little things don't throw me off so much.

So I am officially calling myself 2.5 days "clean" as far as eating, training, and sleep are concerned. I'm focusing on getting back to the basics again putting enough good days together until I start feeling like the healthy, resilient person that I was a year ago. It's going to be a tough first week, but I know that I've done it once, so I can do it again. Wish me luck!

It is also the anniversary of the day that Frank and I both had asparagus for dinner and I thought it was as good of a conversation starter as any.
Definitely glad I left that awkward comment.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Week #70: A Place of Our Own

Since it is already Wednesday, I'll just have to do a quick post. Things have been so busy with the conference, the move, and prepping for a big software upgrade at work. Luckily, Frank and I are fully moved into our new place, although we still have our work cut out as far as unpacking and putting things away goes.

Our first dinner in the new place.
Admittedly, we are still eating off the coffee table,  but we have a couch now.

As much as I wanted to tough it out, I broke down and took a vacation day on Tuesday, and gave myself an opportunity to "clip in" before a few long workdays for a upgrade. It gave me the chance to catch up on sleep, hit up the Tuesday farmer's markets, and get in a mountain bike ride, all of which were things that I was desperately needing to feel normal again. The rest of the week is still going to be tough, but now I feel like I'm better equipped to handle it. I will still have plenty of literal and figurative rocks to traverse this summer, but hopefully I'm now set up ride them out and not be forced to walk again (at least figuratively; Tussey will probably still force me to hike-a-bike in places for a while.)

Another day on Tussey