July 16, 2014: Pride & Gelato

This whole “new bike, high expectations, frustration inducing” few days that I’ve had are, of course, teaching me a lesson about myself and about life.

Yesterday at work my boss told me of a top notch ice cream store about a 45 minute ride away.  After some consideration and deciding that nothing changes if you don’t make changes, I studied the map, memorized the directions and then told Ray that I wanted to lead a ride to a “mystery location”.  Normally I would never ride in the lead.  I’ve done it approximately a half dozen times in 6 years.  I always preferred riding at the back and taking my cues and confidence from him.  I also basically get lost in a parking lot so leading a ride to somewhere completely new is even more foreign.  Last night though, I put my confidence out on the line and went way out of my comfort zone.

And it turned out?  Pretty frigging awesome.  I didn’t tell him where we were going because I felt like it would be easier for me to “need” to lead if only I knew our destination (also, I like surprises so I thought I would give him one).  On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best riding I have ever done and 1 being “I’m done, abandon bike”, the ride out to the ice cream last night was a solid 6.  Not super great….but not horrible and I’m happy with that.  My stopping has improved immensley since Monday and now I’m achieving a smooth, controlled landing 90% of the time.  My accelerating from a stop still sort of sucks, I haven’t quite figured out the clutch/brake/throttle combo yet but it’s better than it was.  Blah blah blah…if you’re not a rider, you probably don’t care about that crap.  My point is, improvement!

For the ride back home I asked Ray to lead as I was a bit turned around and besides, behind him is normally where I’m most comfortable so I wanted to give that a whirl too.  If the ride out was a 6, the ride back was a 3.  Wha?!  Never, in my wildest imagination, would I have believed I would have more confidence beign in charge of myself and leading myself around.  Never.  Around halfway home, Ray took off ahead faster than I wanted to go which made us “independent riders” rather than riding as a pair (closer together and staggered).  Once again, higher skill level, higher confidence, better ride.  He told me when we got home that he’d noticed it wasn’t going as well as the ride out there so he spread us out to give me space to do my own thing. 

So…I learned a few things last night.  First, all my efforts at gaining my own space, time, independence has worked in ways I never predicted.  I will not, for one second, say that I was oppressed…..but I did, over time and circumstance, stop working on the things that are important to making me a strong, healthy woman.  Second, had I not just spent 5 figures on this new bike, I would have quit on Monday.  And Tuesday.  And a little bit on Wednesday morning.  I expect perfection right out of the gate and if I don’t have it, my first reaction is to assume that I am broken, useless or bad at whatever it is.  Instead, if I could learn to expect wobbles and a bumpy start and just keep pushing on, I would distress myself a lot less!  I’ll keep practicing and paying attention and I’ll get better.  Ray’s comment Tuesday was that Jezebel is talking to me, I just don’t understand what she’s saying yet.  Last night I figured out a bit of her language.  It makes me wonder how many other things I have quit in defeat because I wasn’t perfect at it right off the bat.

Finally, I learned last night to never make anyone else responsible for making you feel good, accomplished or proud.  I was very, VERY proud of myself last night.  I rode my brand new bike the furthest I’ve gone with her, I led the ride which I have rarely done and I took us to somewhere totally new which I have never done.  That is all HUGE for me.  Unfortunately, for a little while, I was feeling let down because I was really expecting (hoping) that Ray would be super impressed and proud of me.  And………..he wasn’t really.  I don’t think he really sees it as an accomplishment, just as something he figures I should be able to do.  It was very disappointing (and possibly led to the less-fantastic ride home) and took the shine off.  Along the way home I “turned the corner” and decided that my pride in myself is enough.  I am enough!  However………I did have a calm word with Ray before I went to bed; along the lines of “Honey, sometimes I need you to tell me that you’re proud of me.”.  He was basically shocked and couldn’t understand why I didn’t just know that he was impressed and proud of me because he always is, “duh.”.  It’s an ongoing communication issue that flares up from time to time. (remember how I told you my blog is totally honest and unfiltered these days? This would be one of those instances………..relationships are hard, we can be on different playing fields sometimes and we don’t always make our spouses feel very good………it’s life……..and even though I was screaming “You’re quite the confidence killer!” in my head on the way home, I pulled myself together and went at the issue much more gently………whether it worked or not?  Who knows.)

So to summarize. Bike = much better, Shanny = more confident, relationships are hard, ice cream is where it’s at!



Bike Commute – Official First Day!

I rode my bicycle to work yesterday. The day before I was set to do this, I was overcome with a slightly manic, overwhelming anxiety about not being able to do it or not doing it right.  I wrote an email to a blogging friend and peppered her with questions about active recovery, foam rolling, whether to gym and ride in the same week, what to eat, how much to eat…..and it went on and on.  Maybe “slightly” manic is an understatement.  😉  She came back and, in a really kindly worded email, told me that millions of people bicycle to work every day (and lots of them go to the gym, too!), eat when you’re hungry, get a lot of sleep and ultimately, just put my heart into what I am feeling passionate and joyful about and forget about the rest.

So simple.  I will continue my original plan of scaling into it because it IS really hard work and a departure from anything that my body is currently used to and I owe it to myself to respect where I am and the shape I’m in currently.  But it felt SO good not to get in my car.  It felt so good to have the wind on my face and see the day brighten as the sun came up.  It felt great knowing that once I got home that evening, I would be well and truly exercised.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t expect some level of fat loss and muscle gain from pedaling my bicycle uphill three days per week….but it’s about so much more than that.  It’s about accomplishing something difficult and out of my comfort zone, it’s about a smaller carbon footprint, it’s about being outside after an entire day trapped in an interior office.  It’s about having something that is just mine; something I don’t have to share or include anyone else in if I don’t want to.  It’s about doing something that I am feeling passionately drawn to right now.

So as far as the nitty gritty details?  Getting there was a bit different than getting home.


On the way there in the morning, I left when it was still a bit darky-dawn out and it was very cold, the exposed skin on my lower calves was burning with the cold all the way there.  Ray convinced me to wear a hoodie and a neck scarf because it was less than 3C (37F) but I won’t make that mistake again, the first mini-hill is right outside my front door, I was sweating and steaming up my glasses 5 minutes into the ride.  And, of course the weather is just going to get nicer as the seasons progress so I’ll leave the hoodie at home!  I managed the same time as my test run on Sunday and there was next to no traffic for the parts where I had to ride on the road; what a blessing!  I got to work with 10 minutes to spare, popped upstairs into our little server room, did a once-over with baby wipes (so nice!) and got changed.  Worked perfectly; better than I could have asked for.


At 4:30 I changed into my bike clothes and headed out.  About one block from work I somehow managed to eject one of my water bottles out of the bottle cage where it bounced through an intersection and got run over by a car.  Dammit!  I should have seen that as an omen of things to come!  The route I chose to go home is slightly different than the one I rode to work on and it turns out that it’s quite a bit less forgiving.

photo 2

Instead of being “rolling hills”, it’s one massive hill, 575 feet (175 meters) up over 4km (2.5 miles).  Once you start climbing there are no breaks, no downhill, not even any neutral.  Around a quarter of the way into the hill I went to stop for a breather and didn’t get my shoe unclipped from the pedal as smoothly as I thought I could and instead went down landing on the curb of the sidewalk with my feet still clipped to the bike.  That resulted in a little bit of road rash on my arms and legs and a minor scrape on one of my panniers.  It also resulted in a smarter approach to resting; I started picking a spot up the way, going for it and then unclipping one foot BEFORE I actually wanted to stop.  I found that I did well climbing that way and was less discouraged mentally since it was broken into smaller achievable sections.  I also fueled right after my fall and found the Vega Endurance gels to work absolutely amazing!  I’m not sure if it was the revised start-stop or the gel that made the second half of the climb more bearable.

Once the climb was over I headed through the park, intending to cut through straight to the far end about a block from our house.  I realized a little ways into my “cut through” that I ‘d gone the wrong way and was a bit discouraged, I just wanted to get HOME!  Once in the trails going the right way, I pitched the bike over again while still locked into it and I gave up on trying to navigate the trails and just ducked out onto the road and booked it for home.

All in all, the grand total of time it took me from leaving the office to pulling into our yard, breaks, falls and wrong way included was 53:26!  Less than an hour.  Quite a bit less than an hour, actually!  I am really, REALLY proud of myself (can I say that without sounding stuck up??).  That was a really hard ride, a complete departure from anything I have done lately and I pulled it off…..not gracefully at all….but I finished!

photo 1


I was hungrier than expected in the morning and I didn’t really bank on the ride in being enough exercise to actually make me hungry.  In hindsight it wasn’t very smart at all because I didn’t want to go into the ride home already feeling a bit under fed.  My fuelling for the ride home was a banana 20 minutes before I left and was to be a Vega endurance gel at the 45 minute mark (or as many “45 minute marks” as there were to be). (Vega is a local, completely vegan nutrition company and they have a sport line that has fully clean ingredient lists, all plant based.  I know that real food is better than bars/gels/shakes, but I like having the option of throwing their endurance gel in my pannier just in case I need it.  It’s a bit hard to pack a chicken around to munch on during the ride!  Their main protein source is pea protein and their main “endurance” ingredient is dates and rice dextrins…..none of which is ideal for me personally, but I’m willing to overlook that from time to time in the interest of convenience.)  I did find a really delicious looking recovery shake for afterwards that IS made with all real food.  It’s water, canned pumpkin (or baked sw. potato), gelatin (for protein), honey, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg & cloves.  I encourage you to click the link as she has a reason for each ingredient in the recovery shake, it’s quite interesting.   I’m going to try knocking the ingredients (except water) together in a big batch and then just scooping out what I want, add water/ice and magic bullet it right into my belly!!



I LOVED it. Every sweaty, burning, difficult and sometimes painful second of it.  I loved it and I cannot wait to do it again.  I had a GREAT sleep last night and I have no real discomfort this morning outside of the spots that I landed on when I fell down.  But no sore or weak legs at all!  I did throw back 2 tbsp of gelatin and 2 Omega3 capsules as soon as I got home and chased that with a handful of coconut chips for carbs/sodium.  Speaking of sodium, I’ll have to use some sort of hydration drink before and during as well because I got severe calf cramps about three quarters of the way through.  I am going to invest in a couple of new water bottles that properly fit my bottle cages and I’m going to beef up my lights this weekend.  Such fun!

Today I have nothing going on so tomorrow and Sunday I’ll head to the gym for some rowing and some light cycling intervals…and maybe some tanning and a loooooong lay-down in the steamroom just because it feels good!

More Like Real Life

Hi There,

I’m at my little corner desk in Portland taking a quick lunch break and thought I’d throw a little update out.  Obviously the flight went fine (I hate to fly) and I was able to pick up my rental car with little issue, get the GPS going and drove myself to the plant.  All in all, not a bad morning (minus the 3am wake up call!). 

I’ve been drinking water like crazy since, however hard I try, I think I’m likely to take in extra sodium no matter what just by virtue of having to eat in a restaurant, no matter how upscale and lovely.  Eats today have included a bowl of zucchini, peppers & broccoli scrambled with some grated cauli (so much nicer than riced cauli) and topped with a Thai Ginger Salmon Burger patty that I bought this weekend when visiting my sister.  That and a juicy navel orange were for breakfast at 3:30am with some coffee.  The same scramble came on the plane with me and just got eaten cold with an apple here at the office. Absolutely delicious…..a bit lacking in fat but that’s alright….I’ll break out the almond butter jar at the hotel later! 

So, I’m out of the gate on this trip on a good note, really making an effort to live as close to my real life as I can over the next week.  The things that are important to me (good, clean food & exercise as well as the tail end of My Restriction) didn’t become any less important when I got onto an airplane this morning and I need to remember that. 

NO ONE gains if I eat chocolates all secretly in the hotel room.  Sure, no one would notice….but I would know and my body would know and I would really be doing myself, my strength and my self-value a disservice. 

Since I’ve been awake since 3am (well, most of the night, really), I’m leaving this office at 3:30 today and heading out towards my hotel, stopping at Safeway for some fruits and veggies and then checking into the hotel.  Monday isn’t normally a gym day for me anyway so I’m going to take it easy….have good dinner at the hotel restaurant tonight (seared ahi with green salad) and then unpack and early for bed.  I’ll be up and ready to go at 4:30am tomorrow in the gym at the hotel for a good hour long workout.  The hotel restaurant doesn’t open until 6:30 anyway so I’ve got some time to do things right.

My plan, once I found out I had to come here again, was to make sure that I stay in the same physical and emotional shape that I’ve been getting into at home (if not better shape)….and so far, here on the first day, I’m on the right track….and I feel pretty proud of myself for that!