Day Four :: Rome

As I’m writing this, my son and husband are out exploring Rome after dark. My daughter is still recovering from her dodgy ankle, with me here largely in the background, but tomorrow she should be well enough to go out too.

Today therefore has been writing whilst my husband sorted out patching up the van, and our first group meal in the Villa (apart from breakfast.)

Expect some pictures in the morning

Tour de France

If you zoom in on that snap above, you’ll see the date on my acknowledgement is 2017. The organisers were giving out last year’s certificates at the finish. I think that’s a pretty decent metaphor for my entire experience, on reflection: slightly behind the times, and not really relevant as a result. I’d like to petition to take the word ‘fun’ out of that picture, as that was officially the only time a smile happened all day.

Let’s examine what we learnt.


I have a LONG Way to Go

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My stamina is not nearly what it ought to be. I completely failed at hydrating properly. I can’t feel the last two fingers and side of my left hand and if that’s still the case tomorrow, I will pop in and grab a Physio. There wasn’t enough work beforehand at mentally preparing myself and, as a result, I suffered. REALLY suffered. Miles 35-45 were what Hell would look and feel like for me, where I was forced to go up a series of small, innocuous hills over and again, with no chance to rest. There was also, crucially, absolutely no point at which I was enjoying myself.

A LOT has got Better

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No, REALLY, before you start telling me this is all negativity, the positives were there. The only time I stopped was to drink and eat, which with practice will happen on the bike. No hills had to be walked through, which is a quantum leap forward. My lungs are undoubtedly better, the ability to change gear and push through pain is there, and overall, considering how I feel this morning, this is undoubtedly the fittest I have ever been. Lessons have been learnt too over fuelling and sugar intake, which will go forward to Ride London on Sunday.

Essex is a Fucking Grumpy County Guv’nor AND NO MISTAKE

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BOY I’d not want to ride a bike on an Essex road at ANY time in the future. If there is one thing that has totally and utterly put me off ever doing this ride again it will be the motorists, who at no point seemed to care or be considerate of cyclists. If we aim to get the planet greener, I doubt Essex is going to take part in that, especially if yesterday’s ‘one twat per convertible’ headcount was any indicator. Special snacks have to be given to those who shouted at the organised bike riders to fuck off home, you da real MVP’s ^^

Cycling Elitism is Alive and Well

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There was a distinct gulf yesterday between the ‘turned up in casual clothes and a BMX’ crew and the hardcore, carbon fibre teams. The latter were either groups riding under an organisation’s banner (British Heart Foundation were strongly represented) or doing it for a family member. Needless to say, I didn’t see a single other Mind shirt. It was also abundantly obvious who was doing it for a decent overall time and who was there to do some good. I appreciate the fact there were people prepared to chat, but they were few and far between.


Sitting here this morning, it all feels like it was a bad dream. However, when I look at the stats, it definitely happened:

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I was going to train today, but the sensible thing for everybody is to take a day, do 36 press-ups at some point and go back to the treadmill tomorrow. I won’t massively improve my situation for Sunday in a week, but I can better plan hydration and food to cope with the distance. Having conclusively proved that carb-packing has no appreciable benefit to my system? Time to eat well and remove the sugar again until I’m actually on a bike.

Also, once the Holidays are over, it is time to see a doctor.

Holiday

The lunchtime pickup is done. The eldest has already been off since Tuesday afternoon. It is that glorious time of the year where there is nothing to worry about on Monday, and in 10 days I’ll be on holiday in another country. To say I’m looking forward to this is the mother of all understatements, but there are two bike rides to get through first.

I did my last bit of exercise earlier, and yes, my legs still work, now there’ll be a test to see if fitness is sufficient to get me to the end without incident. I know the hill I’m not looking forward to already, too. We’ll see how it goes, and assuming all is well, I’ll be doing extra PT on Monday. The good news, of course, is that Ride London’s a shorter distance, and on closed roads.

There’ll be pictures at the weekend, of course, but for now I have a backlog of work to catch up on…

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BOY did I need that lie in.

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Next week is last five days of School runs, which is already being looked forward to with an enthusiasm that has not previously experienced. I’m not knackered per se, and suspect I’ll still be working at the same levels during the Summer Holidays, but there won’t be the same set of peculiar stresses at play. What it does mean is the opportunity to go take photographs during the day, and to do much needed organisation and back end faffing that won’t get done otherwise.

For now, however, it’s time to put my England shirt on and go to the Gym.

Third or fourth, it doesn’t matter. I’m very proud of the National side. They’re my team again.

Tomorrow

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I didn’t think July 9th would end up being particularly significant in my year, but as it transpires, it is. Tomorrow will be, all things being equal, when I am able to cycle like an actual grown-up. I’m scheduling two and half hours of my evening to do just that. If you’d asked me a year ago if this would have been feasible, another of those ‘don’t be fucking stupid’ reactions would have taken place.

Today’s gym session was one of the most productive and powerful experienced for quite some time. Having returned to my previous heaviest weights, it’s getting close to the point where I can exceed them. I’d give myself a month, but (of course) we’ll be on holiday then and, to make sure I don’t lose impetus whilst away, there’ll be a series of body-focused exercises to take with me that can be done without gym equipment.

Next week already has the potential to be insane. At least I can be physically prepared for whatever happens.

Run to the Hills

The biggest single problem I possess right now in terms of exercise ability is stamina. HIIT routines are now just that, but anything over 90 minutes and I will summarily wilt. What is required is an understanding of what my limits are, how to play to them and then finally exceed them.  Fortunately for me, Zwift has the means by which I can deal with this issue, and still keep myself sane.

Welcome to the Alpe du Zwift.

It’s a bloody big hill, when all is said and done, and I can’t climb it in two hours… but one day, I will. This morning was the reconnoitre to see how far up I could get without busting a gut. I paced myself, bought snacks and extra water and for 110 minutes it was doable. Those last 10 minutes lasted about three lifetimes.

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Before on long rides my brain has stopped me, or my legs and (on a couple of occasions) a combination of both. Today was different. I needed to get used to the heat, and how body operates when energy is low. It was a massive learning experience, and slow realisation that, for many years, it has been my brain which prevented any kind of tenable progress. Now that’s under control, the only obstacle to progress is my own ability to put in the effort. That’s slowly getting fixed. I’ve been at this before Christmas, and only now is progress becoming apparent.

One day I will climb the Alpe du Zwift, but with England v Sweden imminent? It will not be today.

You Wear It Well

DAY FIVE of the Exercise Regime. Wednesday was a rest day, because exhaustion. That means today fitting in both a Gym and Cycling session. The changes to body are already obvious, and yes, having got on the scales this morning, there is a weight change. It isn’t much, but is undoubtedly there. Yesterday’s session in the Gym was so tough I was sick afterwards. This was not planned, but does show there’s effort being expended.

Low carb is as horrendous as was remembered, but the results when it was adhered to  last time were significant. That took ten days to kick in. I can do this.

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Tea (normal and green) has become my unexpected saviour. I drink not to eat, and it is working surprisingly well. However, today I get a treat, even if it is only 150 calories. Once everything is written and scheduled, it’ll be the Gym, followed by the second half of the England game as cycling accompaniment. I’m beginning to look forward to it, oddly, the effort is now equalling reward whereas before, it was all a slog. If the future of existence is heat and sweat, there needs to be a body capable of coping with those changes. Getting fit now is becoming a necessity and not a priority.

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Okay, less procrastination and MOAR WERK.