Saturday, August 22, 2020

Bike Hut Ride

 On Saturday, August 2nd, a week after my "Double Skyline" Ride, I accomplished my goal of riding to the Bike Hut and back. The ride requires climbing 2500 feet to Skyline twice, and I had a lot of anxiety about being able to do it. I wasn't sure my fitness was there. The weekend before, I climbed it once, bailed on going over to Half Moon Bay, and turned around. At the bottom, I had climbed to Skyline again on the same side of the hill. This time, I did the whole, originally planned route with no problems. I had been worried about climbing Tunitas, a brutal but beautiful 6 mile climb back to Skyline. Once I was on Tunitas, I paced myself well and actually enjoyed myself. I felt exuberant at the end of the ride. 

School began this week on August 17th. My goal now is to maintain the fitness I've built but I'm not putting my pressure on myself to go farther and farther. I would like to consistently work out several times a week and just maintain. I'm teaching virtually, and it's just as hard as my first year of teaching. I'm having to create new curriculum for each class every day...from scratch. I'm often working late until the night. I'm exhausted. Exercise is going to be critical for me to maintain balance and sanity. I ran and did weights on Monday after school. My run felt great. I actually was able to pick up the pace. I felt light and zippy on my feet. It's taken me a long time to get back to the point where I can just meditate and allow my mind to float away blissfully on my runs. I want desperately to maintain this because the first 4-6 weeks of starting to exercise again were miserable. Right now, the air quality is shit because of all the fires in the Bay Area. It smells like campfire, and there is ash on the car. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the wind blows in our favor at some point today so I can get a window of fresh air to go for a much-needed run. Here's to hoping.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Double Skyline Ride

On Saturday, I decided to try an old ride I used to do to challenge myself. Up to Skyline on King's Mountain Road, down Tunitas, out to the coast, and back. It's about 50 miles and 5,000 feet of climbing. I was nervous. I hadn't done it in a long time, and I wasn't sure I physically was able.

After a nice breakfast (toast and eggs), I headed out on Pandora. I warmed up nicely and felt solid. I began climbing King's, trying to stay positive. Very quickly, I realized I had underestimated this climb. It was much harder and steeper than I anticipated. Sweat poured down my face, and I downed water. I tried to prevent the anxiety of the second climb from creeping it to no avail.

According to our plan, Alan left the house 20 minutes after me to see how long it would take to catch me. He caught me about a mile from the top, near the archery range in Huddart Park. Even though I knew that this would happen (he's a much stronger cyclist), it took all the wind out of my sails. It didn't help that he caught me during the steepest section at the top, where it took all my concentration to turn the pedals over. Meanwhile, he cruised along easily, trying to have a conversation. I just couldn't. I felt so insignificant next to him obviously struggling as he seemed to be having a walk in the park. He wanted to know what the plan was for the rest of the ride, but I couldn't think straight. Instead of planning on reconvening at the top, I waved him off. Basically, I told him to leave me alone and go ride on his own. So he did.

After he left, instead of feeling better, I felt abandoned. Frustrated. Defeated. What the hell was I doing? Why was I doing this? I didn't want to climb Tunitas on top of King's. This was enough. I reached the top of King's and turned around. On the descent, I beat myself up about how not worthy I was to be riding my bike. I told myself I sucked and thought about how I was going to mope around the house the rest of the day. I also realized, my legs had begun to recover, and I still had gas in the tank. I started thinking. What if...? Maybe I could still salvage this ride. I saw a doe and her fawn on the side of the road. I took it as a sign. I wasn't going to climb Tunitas today but I could something else.

At the bottom, instead of turning left to go home, I turned right. I decided to try to climb Old La Honda and ascend to Skyline again on a different road. It wouldn't be quite as challenging as Tunitas, but it would be a good challenge. Plus, I could always bail and just turn around and go home. I started feeling optimistic and excited as I neared the second climb.

Old La Honda was hot and steep, riddled with narrow switchbacks, but my legs kept turning the pedals over. I knew I was going to make it. I felt good. It didn't matter how slow I was; I was doing this. Eventually, I reached the top, just as I emptied my final water bottle. I felt immensely proud.

As I rode home, I could feel the fatigue set into my legs. My butt, hands and neck ached. But it didn't matter. I had salvaged the ride and proved to myself that my setback was all in my head. Next week--Tunitas!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Six Weeks Later...

It's now been about 6 weeks since I've started working out consistently again. I have good days and bad days, good stretches and bad ones. But overall, I've been gaining strength and fitness. According to Strava (where I've been logging my workouts), I've worked out 35 times since the beginning of June. I've only lost 4 pounds (I would like to lose about 20), and I still feel slow as molasses but there  are other positives I'm focusing on. 

Here are some positives I've noticed after 6 weeks of consistent work outs:
1. My mood is better when I workout, and I have more energy. 
Sometimes, reflecting on this helps get me out the door. When I have the choice between moping on the couch all day and just going for a run and feeling better for myself, I will often choose the latter. I HATE when I take rest days because they often turn into 3 or 4. Lately, I've been trying to workout EVERY day, even if it means weights or an easy swim or ride. Being on summer break, there are just no excuses. I have the energy, and my body always feels better afterwards. 

2. The workouts are getting easier and more enjoyable.
When I first started, it was a slog. Especially running, which was unfortunate, because that's my go-to favorite. Now, I'm finding my rhythm again where the miles float by unnoticed and I just zen out. It wasn't like that at the beginning. I had to push through. Running fitness is always the first to go and the hardest to get back. I still have a ways to go but I'm now looking forward to my runs and running a bit farther each week. I can't wait to hit the trails again. 

3. I have more strength and muscle.
I've been hitting the weights 2-3 times a week, and it makes a huge difference. I can climb more on the bike, and swim faster in the bay. I don't get tired as easily. It's been a bit frustrating as far as weight loss goes since muscle weighs more than fat, but my clothes are fitting better, and I feel better when I look in the mirror. 

4. I've been eating better.
When I know I have a workout coming up, I plan ahead. I have to fuel myself properly. I end up naturally avoiding junk food more and going for whole grains and fruit more. I also have been splitting up my meals into smaller portions and then eating more frequently throughout the day. I've also noticed my cravings for junk food have gotten less. I would like to cut back on drinking wine since we've been having about 2 glasses/night. It really adds up.

So, overall, even though I wish I had lost more weight, I'm on the right track. I'm feeling positive and motivated. During these next 6 weeks, I'd like to begin running on trails again and building up the mileage a bit. I would also like to increase my climbing strength on the bike. I used to be able to bike up to Skyline, down to Half Moon Bay and back. I think I can get back there these next 6 weeks. 

Not a workout pic but a cute pic of Rango, helping me recover.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Still Trying...

What a crazy world we live in. The last time I posted, it was before the pandemic, and I was consumed by school and the hectic business of life. I used that as an excuse to avoid workouts. March 13th was the last time I saw my kids this year. My whole world changed forever. It's been an adjustment, but I'm luckier than most. I have a stable job, partner, family, and we are all healthy.

I also ended up having a lot of free time on my hands. For the first two weeks, I slept a lot, which is normal for me--teaching makes me so exhausted. Then, anxiety set in. And guilt for not being able to enjoy my free time. I entered the next phase: the Inertia Phase. This mainly consists of me not wanting to do anything, but my mind races. I end up cranky and laying on the couch.

After a few weeks of this, I got sick of it and decided to make some changes. First, I started sticking to a routine. Having dogs helps with this. Then, I took control of my diet and started working out again. I have begun gaining unwanted weight and my self confidence has plummeted. Now, I keep a food journal and have been keeping track of calories. I've also been working out again. It's been 3 weeks.

I feel like a broken record. I keep starting, then stopping, starting, then stopping. It's embarrassing, but at least I keep trying. Right now, I'm just trying to make it a habit. I remember when I used to look forward to my workouts and would itch to do them. I also remember the workouts feeling much easier. That's my goal right now--do consistent workouts and get to the point where I can enjoy them.

I've been trying to workout 6 days a week at the most, or at the very least, avoid 2 nonconsecutive rest days (this sets me up for a bad pattern). So far, so good. The hardest part is getting out the door. The runs have finally started getting easier (except I'm still only running 4 miles at an embarrassing 11 min/mile pace). So are the weights. The bike is hard but at least I'm doing it (only 20-30 miles right now). I'm trying. I'm not giving up. I think that's what matters.

My favorite running partner, Juneau.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

New Decade, Better Me.

The fall semester killed me. I allowed the school to swallow me up, and forgot to take care of myself. After a full semester of nothing but working and sleeping, I was granted holiday break (2 weeks). The first week is always spent sleeping and recovering. I finally feel my energy returning. My New Year's Resolution is to take better care of myself. Here's to a new year of health, peace, and happiness!

At least I've been walking the dogs twice a day (1 mile each) and going for the occasional hike. I finally ventured out for a 20 mile, rolling ride on the road bike the other day. Felt amazing. I feel fresh, recharged, and motivated. Today, I took my dogs (13 and 11 years old) for a 3-mile run. We had so much fun. I'm so amazed at how much these old guys motivate me. They did awesome. I was also amazed at how great I felt. I was worried running would suck after not doing it for so long. But it's always been my favorite, and the easiest for me to fall back on.

Oh, I also did weights! Makes such a difference in my strength, energy, and injury-prevention, especially now that I'm not a spring chicken. Anyway, my focus is on exercising for health and happiness. I don't care so much about speed or how I look. I want to exercise in a way that's sustainable and that means being consistent and disciplined but also making it fun so it's something I look forward to. Excited for my new challenge! Bring it on 2020!!!