Do I Stay or Do I Go?

This past week has been a rough one…another bad session on the trainer with intervals that left my knee feeling strained and a trainer that has started making this extremely loud clicking noise. It got me thinking about how cycling has rarely ever gone well for me and I’m wondering if it’s time to cut my losses and move on to something else.

I’ve probably invested nearly $1000 into this sport (fit/clothing/bike parts/etc.) over the last year. It’s looking like a never ending money pit as I was told my bike needs $300 in repair and I will need a new trainer if I can’t figure out the clicking noise in the one that I have.

I think it would be different if I was seeing improvement over the years or was able to sign up for fun events. The truth is that events are far too expensive for me to suffer through only to barely make time cut offs and then feel like a big, fat failure. It’s no fun. Triathlon is more affordable and there are more events out there, but my knees have left me unable to run at all. I’ve tried walking the run, but because I look like I should be able to run-all spectator and volunteers yell for me to run and I have to keep having to say that I physically can’t do it. That’s no fun either.

Another aspect I’m struggling with lately is volunteering/social media. Some days it’s tough seeing event updates and promos in sports that remind me of personal failures…every single day-ouch. Announcing races just doesn’t have the same appeal to me as it used to and a part of me just wants to walk away from it all. I’m locked into calling three this summer, but am considering not doing two of them next year so I can unfollow those events in social media.

So what do I do?? Where does this leave me??

It’s far too early in the season to consider quitting cycling, but I am feeling a bit frustrated right now and wonder if there is a different sport I can do that I might actually be successful at. How amazing would it feel to do well in a sport???? I did have a great ride a couple of weeks ago in the mountains and I really needed that mental boost! Cycling CAN be fun…it just seems to be a rarity 😉

I think a good start is to get OUT of my basement this week and put TrainerRoad on ice. The weather is finally starting to get a bit better, so I think I should make the effort to get outside this week. It doesn’t even have to be on my road bike…I have two other cheapie bikes (pathways and mountain) that I can spend some time on instead. I can get back to the gym and just zone out on the elliptical or step machine. I do need to make some changes if I want my fitness motivation back.

~Amy

 

 

My First Impressions of TrainerRoad and a Bike Makeover

It’s been so exciting to find my #bikelove again over the last couple of months! Last year didn’t work out like I had hoped it would, so now I’m itching to get out on two wheels this spring as soon as I can to make up for lost fun.

I want to hit the ground ready to pedal a decent distance this spring, so I decided to subscribe to TrainerRoad in order to get in better shape and keep things interesting in the basement while I wait for the snow to melt. I’ve loving it! It was easy to download and setup…I did experience a bit of confusion regarding the virtual power aspect after doing the first FTP test. I emailed support on a Saturday evening and heard back within minutes. Not only did he take a look at my FTP test and told me what I had forgotten to hook up, but he gave me links to some beginner articles from their website to help me get to know TrainerRoad better.

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There are numerous training programs that you can choose from according to your goals and time availability to train. I would love to ride everyday, but with three active kids and a knee condition that seems to act up if I ride too frequently-I have settled on a low volume (3x per week) base program. Some of the programs also have great tips via text that pops up on the screen to give you motivation. It is so fun! If the kids are in the basement with me-I talk and interact with them between the harder intervals. If I get to ride on Wednesday morning when my youngest is in preschool from 9:30am to 11:45am, I turn on the music channel pretty much full blast as I ride and love it.

At this point, I’ve decided that I don’t want to race or do repetitive rides this summer. I’m not able to get out as often as I would like because family and kid stuff comes first, so I want to really enjoy it when I do find the time (and good weather!!) to ride. This summer will focus more on bike touring-think the documentary Inspired to Ride without the roadside camping 😉 I’m going to pick some fun areas to explore for a day trip, print out maps, wait until the weather is working in my favour, and take off when it works for me. I was considering a couple of gran fondos, but the problem is that they are super expensive and if the weather is crap-I’m not going to have any fun. I don’t want to be locked into anything so I can go do a long ride on a gorgeous day and not have to worry about messing up a training schedule.

Now that I have my plan for the season and am happily working hard on building my bike fitness, it’s time to have a bit of fun! I decided to give Sweet Caroline a bit of a makeover today. The accessories that came on the bike were white…which looked lovely at first, but it has been getting pretty grubby over the years. Since my cycling will be going in a different direction this year, my bike should look a little different too!

Here is Sweet Caroline nearly two years ago when the bar tape was looking ok:

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Here is the mid-point mess. Yes, that’s blood on a tissue…it seems derailleurs are sharp:

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The makeover complete with a new Lezyne Mini GPS computer! Doesn’t she look pretty??

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I’m also going to look around for a small handlebar bag for the front when I’m riding far from home or my vehicle so I can carry more stuff with me. I already installed a hand pump for emergencies on Sweet C in case I mess up with the CO2 canister. I will need more practice changing flats and will pick up a patch kit/multi-tool as well. I want to be self-sufficient and most importantly-SAFE-on the roads.

We are supposed to get some warmer temperatures this weekend, so I plan to give her a good cleaning out the deck. Sweet C’s cassette, derailleurs, and chain could use a bit of de-griming.

WHEN WILL SPRING GET HERE??????

**If you are on Strava, I would love to have more friends to follow on there-my name is Amy Matthews from Calgary.

Full Steam Ahead!

I haven’t posted in awhile, but since Christmas I’ve gone back and forth a lot on what I want in 2017 and I’m ready to put it into words.

I’m done looking back. Oh good grief…I cannot dredge up the past anymore! I am the queen of bad decisions mixed with a bit of bad luck and I refuse to waste energy thinking these experiences knowing it’s not going to change anything. That’s not to say I haven’t learned from my mistakes. It’s what I have learned that will make things better this year.

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This year I’m focusing on being more assertive. I’m speaking up if I’m not happy about something. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to start being rude, but I’m no longer going to bite my tongue when people take advantage of me, talk down to me, dismiss me, or treat me poorly. NO MORE.

Another focus this year will be on my free time. I don’t get much and I’m going to be unapologetically selfish with it, so I’m not volunteering or doing many races this year. I want the majority of my weekends to be free to do fun things with all my boys, or sign up for a group ride, zip out to Canmore for an open water swim, or take my bike somewhere new for an adventure–> I’m looking at you Highwood Pass!!

I’ve already said no to one of the races that I’ve volunteered for the last two years, but didn’t have any fun. It falls on Father’s Day, so I’d much rather do something fun with my family that weekend than leave at 4am Sunday morning and not get home until 7pm. I think I’m still doing some announcing at the Calgary Marathon and the Wildrose Triathlon, but nothing has been confirmed yet…it’s way too early anyway 🙂 The Calgary Ironman 70.3 is the one I’m not sure about. It’s falling on the same weekend as a race in Penticton and I’m assuming at this point Steve King will stay home to do that race. I can’t announce the 70.3 on my own. I’m a great assistant for the race, but it’s too much for me. I don’t know what will happen there.

I’ve already registered for an open water swim event in Canmore and excited for it-I have unfinished business with that swim. I was considering signing up for an olympic distance triathlon, but have changed my mind. It’s not to say that I won’t be doing any races, but I’m not signing up for anything in advance-other than the swim. I want to have fun and see where my training takes me. The best stuff I did last year (biking Horse Creek Road, biking in Bearspaw with Leana, and doing a sprint tri team event) were planned just a few days in advance. I want to leave my options open.

A big change that I’ve made is deciding to join a triathlon club! I think the Airdrie Triathlon Club  is going to be a perfect fit for me. You pay a small fee upfront and then register for the group training that you want to do. I’ve already signed up for two swim clinics-I attended one last weekend and LOVED it. I’m really looking forward to group open water swims and bike rides this spring/summer. I’m so happy to find a club that doesn’t require weekly commitments…I can join in around my children’s schedule.

I was getting a bit bored on my bike so decided to join TrainerRoad in hopes of making some improvements this year. I did my first ride yesterday and it was so fun! The hour flew by and it was hardest I’ve ever pushed on Sweet Caroline…well…indoors anyway. The settings allowed me to put in that I’m new to this kind of thing and there were all sorts of helpful messages that popped up on the computer screen during my ride. There are several different programs that you can choose, or pick a workout based on time, intensity, etc. I excited to make some cycling progress over the next few months.

Here we are only a few weeks into the New Year and I’m feeling happy and optimistic already. It’s a great feeling 🙂 I hope you all have a great 2017 too!

Cheers~Amy

 

 

Lake Chaparral Triathlon

I believe I posted not too long ago about how my triathlon days were over. Yeah. I guess I lied, sorry about that.

I was into Tri-It Multisport one day for some nutrition and Richelle Love (one of the owners) who knows that I’ve been working on my cycling asked if I wanted to be part of a sprint distance team as a cyclist for the Lake Chaparral Triathlon. I imagine the look on my face must have been hilarious, but I accepted! I’ve never been interested in team events since I wanted to achieve my dreams on my own, but accepting that running isn’t in my future made me look at the teams differently as I volunteered for races this summer. These folks looked like they were having a great time. I had decided it was something I wanted to try, but I had no idea I’d be trying it so soon!

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Team Tri It Wild Roses! From left: Myself, Jessica, and Richelle. Photo Credit: Keith Cartmell

I was pretty nervous waiting for Richelle to get out of the water. I knew my bike would be slow compared to other teams since I hadn’t prepped for this event at all, but my teammates said they didn’t mind at all. I think Richelle was the second out of the water for the teams and then it was my turn. I had a great ride. I didn’t push it hard the entire time since I didn’t want to burn out. I had not been working on speed at all this season. I tried to keep Sweet Caroline’s gears a little tougher than I would normally-except on the one BIG hill that I had to do three times. I’m no hero. I did that thing in the easiest gear possible. It was so cool coming into transition with folks cheering for me…that had never happened to me before.

Off went Jessica, so I was able to catch my breath and get my bike shoes off before I made my way over to the finish line. It felt so weird to be done, but I was so happy! I felt I put in a great effort on the bike and didn’t drag my team down too much. Richelle and I didn’t have to wait too long for Jessica (I think she did 27mins?) and all three of us crossed the finish line together.

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Running across the finish line as a team! Photo Credit: Dawn Hopkins

What I took away from this is that I had a fun and *pain-free* race day. During the sprint tri I did by myself earlier this summer, all I did was stress about the run. I knew my knee would hurt, but when would it hurt? How bad would it be? How long after the race would it hurt? Would I be doing permanent damage? It robbed me of most of the fun and left me walking for most of the 5km.

The last few years have been filled with negative experiences, both participating and volunteering. It was taking a huge toll on my sprit and I had considered quitting all of it earlier this year. Finding happiness in cycling and letting running go has made me a huge difference. Though my Ironman dreams are gone, that doesn’t mean I can make some new goals. I have spend most of this summer blundering around, but with the help of some friends-both online and in person-I’m finally starting to make some exciting progress and I think next summer is going to be my break-out year on the bike.

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Finally a happy race day! Photo Credit: Keith Cartmell

MEC Ride & Serious Bike Love

I can’t believe it’s August already! Why does summer have to go by so fast?

Things have only gotten better since my last post about the two awesome rides that I did. During the week, I’m pretty much stuck to the spin bike at the gym or putting Sweet C on the trainer at home, but that’s ok. I got creative one day and dragged all my equipment out on the deck while the kids played in a little inflatable pool.

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Due to kid activités, I did have to do one long weekend ride in the basement. Did you know that you can bike 50km in the time it takes to watch the latest Star Wars movie? Well now you do.

I also decided at the last minute to sign up for the MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) summer century ride in Turner Valley and do the 60km option. This ride offered 60km and 100km for $45! This is a total bargain since it is a fully supported ride with aid stations, bike mechanics, and food at the finish. There was a thunderstorm that morning at 5am, but by the time the event started at 9am, it was a perfect day for bike ride!

There were a lot of drafting groups, so I didn’t let it bother me that I got passed frequently on the way back-though I did get mad at how many people didn’t announce that were coming up behind me. Do folks not know how dangerous that is? What if I had decided to swerve out to miss a rock, patch of rough pavement, etc.? It would have made us all crash!

I was very pleased with how I performed-I pushed hard pretty much the whole ride and felt so much stronger on the hills (even passed a few folks while climbing). The hill work I’ve been doing on the spin bike is paying off and seeing/feeling progress is an incredible boost to my confidence. I did the 60km in around 2:45 and felt great at the finish. No headaches or feeling sick to my stomach. I was having some issues with that, so have been working on getting better nutrition when my rides are more than an hour.

I did have to get off my bike to stretch my legs with about 8km left. My left foot had gone completely numb and when I tried to curl my toes in my shoes to get some feeling, it was so painful! I also had a few knee complaints, so I’ve decided to get a professional bike fitting. It’s not cheap, but I don’t want to lose cycling to bad knees like I have running. I want to err on the side of caution before I start increasing my mileage for the metric century I’ve signed up for in September. I really hope that it’s worth it and I feel more comfortable for the longer rides.

I’m so excited to ramp up my mileage in August and get a 100km ride under my belt!

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A great 60km ride in Turner Valley

 

Two Rides to Remember

This summer I decided to giving cycling my 100% effort to see if THIS could finally be the sport for me after having to give up running and triathlon. My jumping off point was the Trismore Triathlon a few weeks ago-I had a really great 20km ride, and even with some high winds, I felt very comfortable on Sweet Caroline.

I’ve been riding the same stretch of highway for the last few years. It was close to home, an alright view, and nice big shoulders to keep me away from vehicles. The only problem is that it’s a four lane road that is super busy with a 100km speed limit. It’s loud and I would get headaches from the vehicle exhaust. I could see the Rocky Mountains, but it’s a very flat ride and I didn’t get much pleasure from it. I was not experiencing the bike love that I saw on other’s social media and wondered what I was doing wrong.

Through Calgary social media I started following Runner Leana. I had seen her in passing as I had volunteered at local races. Over the winter, or maybe spring? Leana posted about good cycling routes in Calgary and it made me think that location was just as important as getting mileage in. I feel guilty going to ride since I have to leave my husband home with the kids after how hard he works all week, so I would rush to the closest highway to my house, get my ride in, and rush home. Doesn’t sound that great, does it??

Leana had recommended a road called Horse Creek Road that is only a 20ish minute drive from my house. She said it was beautiful and there isn’t much traffic-a perfect spot for a hesitant cyclist like me! I finally got the chance to ride last weekend-WOW! The pavement was smooth and the views were stunning. The shoulder wasn’t huge, but there was hardly any traffic and those vehicles I did encounter gave me plenty of space. I rode 50km in 2.5 hours and I loved every second of it! This is why people love cycling. I get it now. I encountered alpacas, prairie dogs, horses, cows, and I even got chased by a bird! The road went up and down, there were turns, and it was so pretty.

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A day or two after this amazing ride, I got brave and asked Leana if I could join her on one of her training rides. She is just about to start the taper for IM Boulder, so her shorter rides would be about the distance of my longer rides. She agreed and took me out to tour my own part of Calgary. There are beautiful roads only a few minutes drive (or bike!) from own front door that I never knew about. I was in awe…and kicking myself a little for not having the courage to head out to explore more on my own.

She and I covered nearly 60km in 2.5 hours. I have never pushed myself so hard on Sweet Caroline before and I finally feel like a real cyclist now. She guided me through traffic intersections and gave me tips-I felt confident during the entire ride. We did hill, after hill, after hill. I wanted to get off my bike a few times, but kept my feet spinning with Leana’s encouragement. We also saved a cat from a coyote…the owner was very happy and we were relieved to find the cat’s home.

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I couldn’t get the smile off my face for the rest of the day. This was the most confident and comfortable I’ve ever been…it’s a great feeling. My knees are a bit sore today, but I don’t think it’s a serious problem-I believe it’s just from pushing my body to new limits yesterday. I have decided that I won’t increase my milage over the next few weeks just in case. I can have plenty of fun with shorter rides during the week and a 50-60km ride on the weekends for the rest of the month.

Cheers

 

A Rough Start to Cycling

When I discovered triathlon in 2011 I just had a city commuter bike, so I started shopping for a road bike. I bought cycling shoes and clip less pedals because they were sale and was *just* about to pull the trigger on a road bike even though I wasn’t sure what I was buying, but discovered I was pregnant with baby #3. I wisely decided to wait until after baby to buy…and I’m so glad I did.

As a side note here…at some point…a friend said it would be a good idea to try her triathlon bike and shoes, which were too big. It didn’t go well. I was SO nervous and fell (clipped in) multiple times. I think that is where my cycling confidence issues stem from.

Fast forward to 1.5 (ish) years from finding out I was pregnant. I went to a different shop than before on the recommendation of a friend and that is where I found Sweet Caroline! I’m not going to lie, I saw her the minute I walked in and loved how pretty she was. I didn’t say anything though since I wanted to tell the sales folk what I needed/price range and let them guide me. Believe it or not-Sweet Caroline was one of three options I was shown!

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My girl!

She was purchased in January, so I picked up a cheapie trainer in hopes that I would get more comfortable and be ready for spring. Yeah…with a baby, preschooler and an older son-that didn’t happen. Come spring I was still too afraid to clip in again, so I just used regular pedals. I don’t remember doing much cycling that summer, but I did sign up for a 60km MEC ride. Cycling seemed to be really hard-what few rides I did, I struggled and couldn’t figure out why others made it look so easy. I never sought help and now I know what was wrong-I was in the big ring the entire time!

The MEC ride was a disaster. I wasn’t dressed warmly enough, I was so uncomfortable, my knees were killing me with pedal stroke, and I couldn’t keep up with anyone. It was the longest day ever and I cried more than once-> that is what happens when you are a beginner and stuck in your big ring. I kinda tossed cycling aside at that point. It was no fun at all and I was terrible at it. I was having so many issues with running/my knees and that is where my focus stayed for the next couple of years. I attempted rides here and there, but never really enjoyed it.

This past winter it became apparent that running was not in my future, so I looked to cycling again. I watched some videos about what the rings of the bike did and how to change gears properly. I was just making some progress when I start having some pain in behind my knee and extreme saddle pain. F**k sakes! Long story short-I played with saddle adjustment (I wasn’t paying for a pro fitting-over $200-when I wasn’t sure if I even going to be able to ride-we are a single income family of five) and got some new shorts. All seems to be better now!

So here I am. I promised myself that I’d give cycling my full dedication this summer and have signed up for a 100km ride in September. I am starting to feel some bike love and the bike part of sprint tri I did over the weekend felt amazing. I really think I need to let this rotten cycling past go before I can really move on. I’ve tried to ride with others, but really do prefer to be alone (I get very little alone time as a stay-at-home mom of three). I will join the odd group ride since it is a great opportunity to learn and try new locations.

Here is to a summer of cycling-hopefully I can finally get the hang of it!!

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Closing the Book on Triathlon

Many blogs are started with the intention of beginning some kind of adventure. Whether it be a new sport, a weight loss journey, or an epic traveling experience. I’m starting this blog with the ending my triathlon and running dreams before they ever really got started.

I did what is likely my last triathlon over the weekend-I had fun, but it was sad drive home knowing I’d never cross a finish line of one again. When I first discovered triathlon years ago, my dream was to become an Ironman after I was done having babies. I immersed myself in the life by volunteering at races, assisting at the finish line, and following blogs of folks who were competing in long distance triathlon-I couldn’t WAIT to start my own journey to Ironman.

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My first triathlon in 2011, my knee had just started to become a problem in the week or two prior to this event. I had no idea this was the beginning of the end.

I started having knee problems during the run pretty quickly once I started training for sprint distance races. I tried everything and saw numerous people who said they could help me get running again, but it always ended the same way-I was poorer and the person who said they would help me told me I wasn’t doing things right and it was my fault my knee was still a problem or just stopped wanting to see me. I eventually took the steps to get an MRI done-it was nearly a year of waiting, but at least I found out what was wrong (chondromalacia patella). This is a permanent condition and though some people can still run, I can’t for more than an mile or two before my bones start cracking into each other. It hurts –> it hurts a lot.

A part of me thought that if I could do well enough in the swim and bike so I could walk the run and still race, so I tried it over the weekend as an experiment. It didn’t give me the race experience that I wanted. There were two big problems. First, knowing that you’ll be finishing the event in extreme knee pain is no fun at all and my knee is still agitated days later. I don’t want to start having knee pain all the time again and I think that if I keep pushing, that is what will happen. The second problem was that I look completely fine, so the race spectators/volunteers do what they’re supposed to do and cheer me on by encouraging me to get tough, dig deep, and RUN. They don’t understand that I can’t run. I feel like I have to explain myself to them as I go by….walking. Several times I had to say things like “my knee gave up and went for a drink 10 minutes ago”. I realize that in a long distance triathlon there can be a lot of walking, but I can’t put my knee through that and put myself at risk for more knee damage.

So this is where triathlon ends for me. I’m sad, but I do feel at peace by finally making the decision. There may be a time when the boys are older that I may re-visit triathlon, but that won’t be for a few years. In the meantime, I’m trying to love cycling the same way I love running. It’s not happening as quickly as I hoped it would…I’m actually pretty terrible at it, but I’ve made the commitment to give it my best try this summer. Feel free to follow along!

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My final triathlon-June 25, 2016

~Simply AmyLynn