Portland Century

Going the Distance

The other day I went to visit my friend Star, who used to be my neighbor before I moved in with Michael (about 4 years ago). On the way home I stopped by the nearby library to return some books and I had a very distinct memory about when I used to live in that neighborhood and I went to the library all the time. My apartment was about a mile away from the library and when I was 250 pounds I always drove. I could have walked but never did. It seemed so far away.

I remember when I started losing weight and getting more active, I decided I was going to ride my bike to the library. It was my old childhood mountain bike (that was all I had) and I remember the feeling of nervousness and anxiety I had about biking all the way to the library to return my books. It was only a mile but it still seemed far away. Once I got on the bike and did it, it wasn’t that far and I realized how perspective changes.

Once I got more active, distance didn’t seem so overwhelming. Running my first 5k seemed really hard and I wasn’t sure I could make it. Then I did. And then I ran an 8k. Once I got into cycling with Michael and started doing longer distances, I biked the Reach the Beach ride (55 miles) and then there was a dramatic shift. Instead of being intimidated and overwhelmed by big numbers, I flipped to the complete opposite and had a feeling of being INVINCIBLE! I could do anything!!!

yay

So I signed up to run Hood to Coast (just a little 197 mile race) and to bike the Portland Century (100 miles). It was crazy! I thought I could totally do humongous distances like that. And in a way I could. I trained really hard all summer long and once the Century came to be, I successfully biked 72 miles (wasn’t quite ready for the 100) and recovered beautifully. Isn’t it funny how that changes?

hoodtocoastrun

Doing those two long distance events changed my mindset. I started looking at other events with disdain–why would I go back and run a 5k when I did Hood to Coast? Why would I sign up to bike a 40 mile event when I already did 72 miles? It felt like a step backwards and I kept setting my sights on bigger and better things. Despite an injury that set me back (IT Band), I never felt discouraged or like I wouldn’t be back to doing long distance events. Well, long distance for me.

Last summer I was biking to work a lot and my weekly mileage was up to 60-80 miles depending on whether or not my stupid bike tires got a flat (I was cursed last year). Whenever coworkers found out my roundtrip bike ride to work was 25 miles their eyes always widened in shock and dismay. “WOW! That’s so far!” It didn’t feel far. It seemed small to me.

Now? Now that I’ve been dealing with my stupid knee issues since October, I am back to feeling like distances are really far away. The first few months of the bad knee flare-ups, I was wary about whether I could walk two blocks without being in pain and not being able to get back. Whenever I have good weeks with my injury, I try and bike or run. The other day at the gym I ran almost 3/4 of a mile and I was so happy! It was a short distance but it was SOMETHING. When I was able to do that 12 mile bike ride, I was ecstatic! It was better than nothing!

It’s crazy how perspective changes and evolves. I hope that someday soon I can get back to striving for bigger and better things and not feel as restricted as I do now.

Saying Goodbye to a Difficult Year

I wish I could say that 2011 was a fantastic year.  There were a lot of really good things that happened in 2011, which I will recap here. But honestly I have to say I am looking forward 2012 and hoping that it is a much better year for me, my friends and family that have struggled this year.

Winter

This past winter was a hard one for me. I was coming back from a running injury and that posed a lot of challenges for me in my road to staying fit. Not being able to run much depressed me. In order to maintain my fitness level I decided to switch to a new goal: cycling. In January I started biking on the trainer in the house.  I was able to find alternative activities while I couldn’t really run. I still swam, I was lifting weights at the gym on a regular basis, and we went snowshoeing a lot! I was glad that we were able to snowshoe and hike so much during the winter.

Not only did I find ways to stay active in the dark, long winter, I tried to distract myself from the disappointment of my injury as well.  I saw sports medicine doctors, physical therapists, massage therapists, I did exercises and yoga, stretching and Eastern Medicine. In the end, what worked was a $3 piece of rubber the doctor had me put in one shoe. Apparently one leg was shorter than the other and causing my IT Band issues.

I celebrated my 1 year blog anniversary. And I ended winter on a positive note: Michael and I went on vacation to sunny Arizona. I loved our vacation there! So much hiking! I swam outside! And the best part: I was able to run outside with no injuries. I was cured!

Spring

Spring arrived and I was happy to be running again. I took it slow and never really pushed myself too much when it came to running. I was just glad I was back at it. I was more focused on weight lifting, honestly. I grew to love it and I saw amazing changes in my body. I checked out Crossfit for the first time, and loved every painful minute of it!

I challenged myself a lot this last Spring. I did a much needed Sugar Detox, I tried the Slow Carb Diet (which didn’t work for me), and the biggest challenge: BIKING TO WORK. In order to train on the bike for the Portland Century I started commuting to work, weather permitting. I was tentative at first, and didn’t bike far. I was averaging about 15 miles round trip (driving half way there and then parking and biking to work).

Spring finished with us building raised beds in our yard and planting our first vegetable garden. It was fruitful and amazing to eat food straight from the ground. It was one of my favorite accomplishments of 2011.

Summer

June arrived, but the rain was still falling in Oregon. I was still able to bike to work a fair amount–but not as much as I would have liked. I got my very first pair of clip-in shoes and had to learn how to ride a bike all over again. I practiced biking all summer long, even biking to the gym, in preparation for the Portland Century:  Part 1Part 2The EndRecovery.

I went on a search for the best burger in Portland. My garden was thriving. I swam 2 miles for the first time, I was hiking a lot. It was a good, active summer.

I also celebrated my three year anniversarywith Michael. He surprised me with a surprise road trip, complete with clues! Mystery Road Trip: Part One, Mystery Road Trip: Part Two, Mystery Road Trip: Part Three. It was a wonderful time and the highlight of my summer.

One of the biggest challenges of the summer was going scale-free. It was hard at the beginning but in the end it was the best thing I could have done. It helped me get over my obsession with “that number” on the scale.

Summer ended with sadness, unfortunately. A coworker who had been battling cancer for less than a year passed away. The same day, another coworker’s young daughter was killed by a car. The whole experience made me question what was important in my life.

Fall

Fall was fast-paced and busy. It really did pass by in a flash and I felt like I missed it. Michael and I were busy traveling. My running was going great. I’d gotten my mileage up to a quicker pace and I was consistently running about 5 miles at a time. Then I started to have some issues again with my knees. I decided to try Spin class for the first time and fell in love with it! I loved the classes and being able to maintain my cycling fitness all winter was a huge bonus.

Winter

I welcomed winter with some happier thoughts. For once the winter months weren’t engulfed in rain. Portland was cold but dry in November and December. My hope is that the rest of the winter is a good one. I’m looking forward to the holidays, snowshoeing and celebrating my 32nd birthday in January.

QUESTION: How was 2011 for you? What were the highlights and not so great moments for you?