Valentine’s Our Way

I hope you had a lovely 14th of February, however you spent it and whomever you were with.

The hubby and I ended up celebrating last night, which isn’t something we always do. But some other plans got canceled and we’ve been meaning to go on a date for a while, so we took advantage of the open evening and decided to check out Dumpling Darling, a new restaurant not far from us.

Patience is a virtue I only sometimes possess, so I loved that we weren’t fighting the Valentine’s crowds.  We got a dumpling flight, which let us sample all their steamed dumplings.  To my surprise, my favorite was the kimchi dumpling, although all of them were delicious.  We debated trying the dessert dumplings, but in the end decided in favor of Molly’s Cupcakes, which is right across the street. The hubby got a German chocolate cupcake; I had a peach cobbler one.  Since the dumplings were not particularly filling, it was the perfect end to the meal.

All other things aside, I’m in love with those cupcakes. Heavenly.

It we’d stopped here, it might have gone down as our most traditional Valentine’s Day in years. We’d gone to dinner early, though, and had time to kill.  Our post-cupcake destination is a place we love dearly, but very few people would consider romantic: REI.  We left with a similarly-beloved-but-not-romantic present for me: my own Wahoo Kickr Snap bike trainer.

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I was just a little excited.

Of course, you could argue that the second Kickr Snap is an instrument for marital felicity.  No more do the hubby and I have to argue over who gets the trainer first; like toddlers, it seems that we only want to use it when the other one is already planning on doing so, and we have literally raced each other to get our leg over the bike on occasion.  How many people can say they were gifted the end to a recurring argument for Valentine’s Day?

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We rearranged the living room last night to accommodate both trainers, where they have displaced our couch and will stay until we move in a couple weeks – I can’t wait to have space for both trainers AND the couch!  And so, Valentine’s Day evening found us both pedaling away, headphones in and not particularly pleased with each other.  (I didn’t have the trainer set up to my satisfaction and was not impressed with the subsequent workout.  In turn, the hubby was unimpressed with me.  I’m going to be magnanimous and say we both had a point.)

It’s an evening that would have horrified several of my girlfriends, and I can only hope they spent their Valentine’s Day in a way that brought them joy.  That said, it’s no less fair to put down my unconventional enjoyment than it would be to demean a day filled with flowers and chocolates and wine.

True love is about being yourself, about understanding each other, and about finding ways to make each other happy.  Tonight, our love was an hour sweating four feet apart from each other and an order to stop complaining.  And honestly, I might appreciate that even more than cupcakes.

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Cool down!  Kitty wants to know why it’s been a full hour since we pet him.

On the Ball

20190212_073129.jpgI broke out the exercise ball at work. To clarify, I moved back to our main office from my previous location onsite and finally got around to re-inflating it to use as my chair. I’d been pretty hesitant – the guys onsite didn’t give me a hard time about it, but some people in my office are quick to tease. Did I want to open that can of worms?

In the end, I decided my continued health and happiness was worth a bit of teasing, if it came to that. And so far, no one has said a thing. This morning, though, I heard the sound of a bouncing object pass my cubicle and went to investigate. Someone else in the office is now, as my mother phrases it, “on the ball.” Maybe not everyone thinks I’m crazy, after all.

Don’t be afraid to be the odd one out. You never know who else might join you once you take that first step.

Comfort or Complacency?

 

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“It is hard to get comfortable people to do anything when it might cost them their comfort.” – Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Queen

This quote has been running through my mind a lot lately.  Okay, it’s been running through my mind intermittently ever since I read Trickster’s Queen in 2012, but lately I’ve been pondering more and more how it applies to me.  I’m not planning to overthrow the government and put a thirteen-year-old on the throne, after all.  So why has it stuck with me so clearly?

Perhaps it’s because I’ve been questioning my own comfort, and the necessity of it, quite frequently over the past few weeks.  I’ve come to the conclusion that comfort, in and of itself, is not bad.  It can be pretty dang good, actually – who doesn’t love curling up after a long day, or a hard ride, and letting yourself relax at last?

It’s holding yourself back for the sake of comfort that can become problematic.  Before long, you aren’t just comfortable; you’re complacent.  Why push yourself harder on your run?  Why speak up and ask for more stimulating tasks at work?  Why travel somewhere new when it’s so easy, so comfortable, to go back to the same beach you’ve walked a thousand times?  Of course, if there is a reason to stay where you are, then make note of it and move on.

I keep wondering, though, how often I’ve stopped myself short of asking that crucial question – why? – and how often I’ve traded in opportunity for familiarity.  Comfort should be a refuge, not a cage.

So have the presence of mind to appreciate comfort for what it is – and the courage to leave it behind when something else is more important.

TrainerRoad post #1

I just got done with my first actual workout on TrainerRoad and, since I have a feeling this is going to change a lot about how I bike, I’m going to track my thoughts and progress over the course of the 6-week plan that I’m following. I actually wish I would have written down some thoughts before I started the workout, because a a significant amount already changed during that hour on the trainer.

A big part of the idea behind starting this blog was about being 100% honest, both with other people and myself. Especially myself. And I really didn’t like admitting it, but I did not want to start that workout. Part of this was thanks to TrainerRoad’s Ramp Test, which, to quote their website, is set up to “give you the most accurate estimate of your current fitness and establish a benchmark for tracking progress.” I did the ramp test a couple days ago, and the number it spit out for me was 122. Divide that by my weight in kilograms, and I get a ratio (FTP, or Functional Threshold Power) around 1.93. In other words, low. On a chart containing ranges of “fair” to “world class,” that literally puts me on the line that goes from “fair” DOWN to a section called “untrained/non-racer.”

Okay, fine. I’m untrained. I’m not exactly a racer. That just means I have more room to improve, right? Well, that’s part of the problem. For a multitude of reasons that I’m not going to go into on this post, I have very little faith in my ability to improve significantly – and that made me very hesitant to start any sort of training plan. No matter what I told myself rationally, I was pretty much convinced that I would either be in excruciating pain for the entire experience, or literally nothing would change. Great – I’d be paying $15 a month just to prove that I’m a failure.

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But I digress. I’d picked the base phase “Low Volume II” training plan, and since I completed the Ramp Test previously, that meant I started with the Ebbetts workout. Looking at it didn’t help my nerves. An hour? Of intervals? Made to push my specific limits? And did I mention it meant an hour on the trainer? I usually manage to get about half an hour on the trainer before the pain in my legs and my boredom both become so acute I throw in the towel. (Okay, if I’m being totally honest, the boredom usually tips the scale more than the pain.) Either way, the fact that all the rides in this plan were at least an hour long made me apprehensive.

I made one other change on this ride, and that was the addition of a cadence monitor. The hubby really wanted this – I thought it was essentially unnecessary.  After all, our trainer (Wahoo Kickr Snap, will review later) already tells us heart rate, speed, and power – how much difference can cadence make?

You bikers are shaking your heads at me, I can see it. It turns out, cadence can make a big difference, and this was the start of my evening revelations. The hubby had previously been listening to a playlist with 90 bpm songs to keep his tempo correct; TrainerRoad suggested I keep my tempo at 85 bpm or higher. When I started the ride and settled into what I thought was a decent cadence, I was biking at about 50 bpm. Oops.

To my extreme relief, the workout didn’t kill me in the first three minutes. In fact, it actually began at a far slower pace than I would have started myself, at 50% of my FTP, before gradually ramping up. (Hey, I actually did a proper warm-up!) By the time I got to the main intervals, I’d decided I could finish the hour – and I was already eleven minutes in! By the second interval, I’d figured out how to read the entire display, and over twenty minutes had passed. For perhaps the first time ever, I’d worked up a decent sweat on the trainer without fighting boredom.

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It was around this time that I started to pay more attention to the tips on the screen.  I’d expected things like “pedal faster” or “go harder now.”  I didn’t expect the mix of tips showing me how to engage more muscles (“focus on pedaling horizontally for a while”), motivation (“Just be relaxed and make it look easy, and even YOU will begin to believe it”), and gentle reminders (“fatigue is never an excuse for poor form”).  Waiting to see what would pop up next, I forgot to focus on the seconds dragging past.  After countless hours of training alone with only my own , the commentary was a novel concept – and I loved it.

The other thing I noticed and appreciated is that TrainerRoad takes the mental aspect out of going harder.  There was no need to muster my willpower to do the sprints – the target power went up, and I matched it.  It told me when I could rest, but only at a certain level with a certain cadence for a certain amount of time.  While I can see this being annoying for more advanced riders, I’ve known for a long time that I’m bad at pushing myself.  I’d been curious to see if a preset plan would help or not.  Since it definitely did, I’m very excited to see what I can actually do with someone else setting the bar.

Writing this post has been another revelation in and of itself: every issue that has held me back previously has not been physical.  Confidence, boredom, and willpower are my biggest enemies, not the muscle or lack thereof in my legs.  In that context, improving doesn’t seem quite so daunting after all.

Choose Your Day

What stories do you tell yourself? This morning, because I’ve been paying attention, I’ve caught “I hate calling people,” “I’m such an awkward person,” and “today is just bleh.”

In other words, I’ve got a lot of excuses to do less than my best work and settle for having a “bleh” day. And while I can’t change the weather, the rest of that is all my decision.

What stories do you tell yourself? Do they push you forward, or are they holding you back?

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You might not be on a beach, but you can focus on the positives.

Gear Hack: How to Carry Your Skis

Gear is expensive.  While a lot of what we own was either a present or purchased second-hand, it still adds up.  In fact, I’m kind of scared to know how much money we have sitting in our gear closet, made up of bikes, skis, climbing equipment, shoes, coats, bags, helmets, and other accessories.  Oh, the accessories.  Talk about the feather that broke the camel’s back!

Our big gear purchase this winter was skis and ski boots, which we’d budgeted for and have since used enough to “save money” by not renting the equipment.  What I hadn’t considered was how we were going to transport our skis, nor the fact that I am clumsy enough that I have managed to hit a door frame, drop a ski, and pinch my fingers between skis in the course of about two minutes.  (It was bad.  My husband stopped asking if I was okay when I yelped.)

In short, it didn’t take long for me to start looking into ski bags.  Fortunately, I found one I liked AND ended up getting it for Christmas.  Unfortunately, it was the end of November when I found this out, which meant I had half-a-dozen ski trips to manage without causing damage to myself, my skis, or my apartment walls.

I could have gotten through it without any sort of help.  I have made it through 25 years on the planet, after all.  However, it got a heck of a lot simpler when I realized that skis aren’t all that different from yoga mats in several key ways – and I already had a strap for my mat.

Would I use the strap now that I have a nice, padded ski bag?  Probably not.  But in the interim, transporting my gear became much simpler, all for the price of $7 that I’d already spent.  It even matched the colors on my skis.

So if you’re ever despairing the cost of an accessory, take a look around to see what else might work.  (Save this for the stuff your life doesn’t depend on.  A knock-off helmet or climbing harness can cost you a lot more in the long run.)  And if you’re looking for a cheap way to transport your skis and poles, this is the strap I have.  If anyone gives you crap for it, tell them you’re going minimalist – and enjoy having the extra cash to spend in the lodge when you’re done for the day.

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Fearless

 

Fearless

I bought a necklace on a whim the other day, and while I normally rotate the necklaces I wear, I keep reaching for this one.  Somehow, the simple act of putting the word “fearless” around my neck makes me less likely to hold myself back.  And I love the fact that simply reminding myself bravery matters to me makes me stand straighter and tell myself, “you can do this.”