Monday, January 27, 2014

Week #56: Isolation

In this "off season", rather than just disappearing for the winter and posting pictures of ourselves riding trainers on Facebook, I would like to try to see people and maybe even do non-cycling things. - Me, December 2012

And, admittedly, this was on Instagram, not Facebook.

Okay, so I didn't do a super awesome job fulfilling that statement last winter, but I think I did better than in any winter past. I actually rode with people and stuff, even if I didn't manage to develop the social life I wanted until I was living on my own and didn't have to explain to anyone where I'd been or with whom. With the extra craptastical weather this winter, I have fallen further back into my previous pattern of isolation. 

With the unpredictability of the weather, I've been reluctant to try to make riding plans with people, and don't particularly want to be responsible for dragging someone else to into a ride that could turn out to be a total mess. Unless, of course, that person is Frank, in which case its an important bonding experience where we each get to see what the other is made of. Otherwise, I feel pretty guilty being like, "Oh hey, I super don't want to ride today, but do you want to come along and join the misery?" At least so far I've been successful at getting myself out the door, despite my own protests, but I'm not sure I can handle that for anyone else.

So, needless to say, part of my hermit-like behavior has to do with the fact that most of my mental energy is going to "getting up and doing what needs to be done" regarding my training plan. So, partly lame, partly yay for me. Otherwise, I did have the feeling that I should engage in some sort of human contact Saturday night, but after my trip to the farmer's market that morning, I had $86 to last me until Friday morning. So the hermit behavior was also kind of necessary to keep that total from going any lower.

Okay, maybe I do.

So much like last year, Death March training seems to be coming along, perhaps at the price of social interaction. Hopefully, I can improve on that soon. For now, I'm happy to report that I completed all planned workouts last week, with the exception that the HNF gravel was still pretty snow-covered, and I didn't get in nearly as many miles on Sunday as I had hoped. Sometimes you just have to give yourself props for getting out and doing a long ride in bad conditions, even if "long" is relative.

Otherwise, the biggest thing occupying my mind lately is Frank's job search and the ongoing question of where I will be living August. [Late edit: I realized that the "I" in that statement should be "we". Part of my problem is that I've not completely started thinking in those terms yet.] It's looking less and less like that place will be Bloomington, so I'm now really having to confront my fears about finding a new job, moving, etc. It's really hard being in a situation where I just have to sit and wait for answers and can't take any action on anything yet. I keep trying to tell myself that last January I didn't know where I'd be living in August, either, and that turned out pretty alright, but so far that's only been minorly helpful. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Week #55: Snow Rides and Cemetery Selfies

Winter training continued to progress more or less on track last week. I still feel like I'm not quite as up to the training load as I'd hoped I'd be, but last year my Mondays and Wednesdays were 45-60 minute easy outdoor rides, so even if I was feeling fatigued, I didn't worry too much about just going out and pedaling through it. With this year being significantly colder and snowier, as well as the desire to step it up a notch over last season and spend more time training than dressing, I am attempting to do intervals on the trainer on Monday and Wednesday nights instead.

It's a bit of a double-edged sword, though, as it contributes a more fatigue on top of the fact that my body is still adjusting to the three-times-a-week weight-lifting sessions. From my experience last year, three weight sessions and one "weekly ass-kicking" long ride plus a couple of shorter rides was plenty to bring on a good improvement of fitness by March without wearing me out too much. This year I'm shooting for a little more, but I still don't want to overdo it. Therefore my consistency hasn't been as spot-on as last year. I have chosen rest over intervals a couple of times so far, so time will tell if those were good decisions or not.


This week my ass-kicking was delayed until Monday, as Frank was traveling to an academic workshop at the University of Illinois on Saturday, and stopped by after to visit me for Sunday and the MLK Day holiday on Monday. Since Saturday was cold and snowy, I just swapped in Monday's trainer workout and waited to ride outside with Frank on Monday, which turned out to be a pretty nice day for January. I wanted to get in a sufficient ass-kicking while not spending *too* much time out there, considering the limited time we had together this visit.

As I think I have mentioned before, the "I just want to ride bikes with you" slogan does have its limits. I definitely like riding bikes with Frank, but I think it should be more of "I just want to ride bikes with you, but also sleep in, eat leisurely breakfasts, cook long complicated meals consisting of odd animal parts, watch entire seasons of TV shows in a weekend, and construct various homemade furniture and household goods with you." So the challenge is always to balance riding bikes with all of the other things.

It's hard to choose a good line under the snow, so I followed the coyote's tracks in the hope that he would keep me on the path of least resistance.

So I decided that what I thought would be about 30 miles that included the my first trek to Callahan since last year's Death March would be sufficient ass-kicking without super-excessive time spent. Add an inch of snow to the mix, and the ass-kicking and time spent both go up a lot more than planned. In the end, it was apparently 25 miles in about 3.5 hours. Most of this was the fact that once we crossed the creek right before Callahan, we ditched the bikes and hiked up the rest of the way up the hill to the cemetery in our increasingly snow-packed cycling shoes, as there was no way that the 'cross bikes would make that steep grade in the snow. I was definitely dreaming of some 45NRTH Fasterkatts as my shoe cover kept filling with ice. We also had to do a lot of hiking out due to steepness, mud, and bad trail conditions on the way out, as the snow was starting to get extra wet and sticky on that end of the trail. My brakes were also failing on me with all of the ice, so I had to walk any downhill of significance, as well, to avoid crashing.

Once we made it back to the road, things were fine except for being colder and wetter than we had expected to be, but we definitely got our ass-kicking done in plenty of time to come back, get the bikes clean before dark (well, my wonderful boyfriend did that while I cooked), shove a ton of food in our mouths, and still get in a couple of episodes of The Killing before bed. Mission accomplished.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Week #54: According to Plan

I would've had us swerving through those streets
Over and over
I would've stalled or rushed us through those greens
Over and over
But you knew that
And you wouldn't let me lose control

You carried romance in the palm of your hand
You called the plays for us
You clung to self-restraint, you followed the plan
You put the brakes on this

And it drove me
And it drove me
And it drove me wild

Once the snowpocalypse ended, and I *finally* had to go back to real work with real co-workers present and everything on Wednesday, I was struck with a familiar feeling. It was the feeling that I was tired, and going back to real work was hard, and I really didn't want to get on the trainer that evening. However, when I arrived home, I changed clothes, got on the trainer, performed the first interval, and then performed the next, until I was two-thirds through my goal of 12 and figured I might as well finish. When it was over, I was struck with another familiar feeling of things being really simple in a the midst of ever-complicate life situations. Despite all of the big changes going on in my life that are out my control, it was time to be in control of my destiny in a silly little bike race in March by making one good decision at a time. Once the first one was made, each subsequent one becomes a little easier.

I don't have any training pictures this cos winter gloves, so here are the kitties and I "recovering" between morning ride and weight training on Saturday.
So as that transformation was taking place this week, the above lyrics through my head a lot. As I sit through extended time away from the man I love, wait to find out what the next year holds for us, and contemplate my cycling and work plans in the context of this uncertainty, I remember how having at least one plan in place can make the other uncertainty a little more tolerable. So I'll continue to get on my bike when I'm supposed to get on my bike, go to the gym when I need to go to the gym, and climb unnecessary ass-kicking gravel climbs when I need to reduce myself to a puddle of goo so that I can recover and become less goo-like later. Then, maybe once that's all over, March will bring some answers to my bigger questions and I can formulate a bigger and better plan.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Week #53: A New Year's Snowpocalypse

See what I did there? I wasn't really sure what to do with my whole weekly numbering system at the end of the year. I decided that since it was supposed to end at 10 after last year's Death March but didn't, I might as well keep going. Last week may have begun a new year, but it was the 53rd week of the rest of my life.

To celebrate this, Frank and I headed to Indy to take part in a fancy New Year's Eve party held by friends of some of our CX buddies. I think I had been dreaming of getting dressed up and kissing him at a fancy party on New Year's Eve pretty much since I met him. This is probably because he has a great fashion sense and actually enjoys getting dressed up, a rare and wonderful quality in a man, although I admittedly get jealous sometimes when he looks better than me. We'd really wanted to stay in Bloomington due to all the travel that we'd each already been through in the previous couple of weeks, and sleeping in my own bed was a luxury to which I was just becoming accustomed again. However, nothing good was happening in Bloomington, so we decided it was worth the extra effort to be with friends and have a more memorable experience.

I missed waking up in my own bed, but waking up to my favorite puppy, Lo, outside the door was a good consolation. 
As I mentioned before, Frank had to head back to State College on Friday, which left me alone for my weekend Death March training, but I was much more at peace with that by the time the weekend came. With the whole trying to be less selfish thing, I realized that my being pouty would only increase his stress without getting me any closer to what I wanted, so I let it go. It was a little hard getting inspired for a 446 pavement ride, which is what I expected would be necessary after a decent amount of snow on Thursday, but I made it out the door. Once I got out there I saw that the side roads were less snow-covered than I expected, so I did do the loop of checkpoints west of 446 just to break things up a bit. I'm still at the point where just getting through a long ride is about all I can do, and the pop still hasn't come yet, but I've got 9 weeks for the legs to come around.

My front window was completely iced over from the inside, so Clemmie decided it made a good kitty popsicle.

Sunday was the beginning of the supposed Snowpocalyse 2014, although it mostly just was 33 and rainy for most of the day, with the snow only setting in the very late afternoon. Although not as nasty as expected, it still wasn't really going outside weather. I got in a short trainer ride in the morning and my regularly scheduled weight session in the afternoon. My body is still adjusting to the 3X a week winter weight training schedule, but it's getting better and I'm making good progress on my goal to *finally* do an unassisted dead hang pull-up before the winter is over.

I had all but lost hope of a snow day on Monday, but somehow we did have one called before bedtime on Sunday, at which I was elated. I awoke to a temperature of -9 degrees and more snow on the ground than I had expected. I proceeded to spend the entire day inside with the kitties while I gave my muscles time to recovery between the Sunday and Tuesday training sessions.

With another snow day today, it should be my third day in a row of almost exclusively indoor kitty time, but I did venture out to run some errands and will go to the gym later. I guess even I have my limits for PJ's and kitty cuddles.


Finally, with the new year beginning last week and Death March registration starting, it was time to reanimate my Death March Memes Tumblr. This made for popular winter entertainment last year, but I haven't been super inspired yet, so please feel free to contribute your creations to lindsayhall99 at hotmail dot com.