You May Be Right

What if everything you’ve ever done has been leading to this point?

A lot of time is spent contemplating our navels, like it or not. Imagination and role play as children allow vital opportunities to escape beyond the confines of self and stare forward to the future, with all the myriad of possibilities it presents. However, telling kids they’ll have it all sussed out by the time they reach eighteen and need to plan for a career is the biggest joke in the history of mankind (apart from the whole ‘everybody is equal’ thing, obviously ^^) Sometimes, it takes a bit longer to arrive at your chosen destination.

For some of us, a lot longer is needed to allow reality to finally register as significant.

consultmyguide

My favourite metaphor right now when trying to explain to people how I’m coping mentally with everything comes from the cartoon my kids loved as toddlers, and still enjoy now. There’s an episode of Spongebob Squartepants where he’s forced to help his frenemy Squidward Tentacles convince his snobby friend he owns an expensive restaurant. The titular sponge is forced to throw out of his head all the stuff that won’t help him focus on fine dining and breathing,ย and inside his sponge brain hundreds of tiny Spongebobs run around in anxiety and terror, shredding files full of memories of anything that’s not relevant to the task in hand.

For a long time, that was how it felt for me: ignore the bad stuff, don’t worry about the expectations of others and simply focus on what matters, which right now is cycling and writing… except, of course, this kind of approach is fatally flawed. Then you have nowhere else to send the stress, because all the other places it could have been siphoned off too are ignored. This weekend needs to be one where I don’t fixate on what could go wrong, and do my best to mentally relax, whilst simultaneously keeping up the training. I think there’s a Velo Park trip possible on Sunday too, which (if true) I’m already looking forward to.

It’s not going away, I can’t bottle and not do this. I have sponsors and a charity that is relying on to get the job done. The eternal questions of the Universe will have to wait, but they’ll help find the right mental balance going forward.

Time to get serious.

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.ย  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.ย 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.

070718

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.ย 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.

Round and Round

Today, I went to a Cycle Park. Not just any one, but THE one.

The Lee Valley Velodrome is the legacy from 2012’s Olympics which I’ll be spending quite a lot of time near or close to in the next month or so. A week before Ride London, there’s the annual London to Southend ride, which (for the first time this year) begins from this point. It’s my official warm up (52 miles) and I now have three weeks to pull my finger out and sort out a few things, including my stamina, because if we’re talking 29 degrees for the next few weeks, I am going to struggle.

Honestly, this is a dream for me: the Velo Park has a car-free, mile-long track, which allowed a lot of wobbling, a chance to grasp my gears (I may yet need a guide on my handlebars) and for the first time, deal with a mechanical issue (chain came off, I got it back on \o/) I need to learn how to change a tyre. There has to be a better grasp of what I can do, and a way to pace myself correctly. Honestly, this is the best thing I could possibly have done and frankly, wish I’d done it earlier.

However, this is a start.

Also, I feel FAR too heavy. Static training is a long way from the reality of hauling your own body around the roads. Now I have this to factor in, I owe my husband an apology: he was absolutely right, I need the lightest bike I can find so there’s not a worry over having to manage to deal with metal after three plus hours.

I have three weeks to shift some weight. It IS going to happen, oh yes.

Find Time

Normally, this would be my day off but I’ve been slacking a bit this week, for reasons that should be quite obvious and understandable. Last night was my first time on a bike since coming back from Eroica, and the guides all tell me it should be five hours a week on a bike by now if there is any chance of being fit enough for the Ride London 46. The good news, of course, is that our shed allows me to train whilst watching the World Cup.

That will make life considerably easier going forward.

210618

I’ve switched from the original plan I was running, which ended up being simply too much to do on top of everything else, to a month long, more casually focused approachย  which is based off my FTP. Last night it was a very stress free introduction, with the backdrop of Iran v Spain making time fly by. Tonight, I’ll do the same to Argentina v Croatia. Then, there needs to be some more work on upper body strength and reducing the weight around my trunk.

notdoingthatagain

Until Ride London happens, I have given up bread as a cheap carb fix. Sandwiches are my Kryptonite, and so until we make it to the end of July, I’m gonna cut them out. This is already making me cry. However, as I am now a Big Girl (TM) it’ll be alright in the end, and there may be a bit more tea drunk to compensate.

Talking of which… ^^

Bicycle Race

You know I mentioned my e-mail address stopped working a while back? Well, yesterday I discovered a quite important e-mail that had gone astray.

Prudential-RideLondon-Logo.969ed2c7675d

I made it into the Ride London 46 Ballot.ย Fortunately I’ve not missed anything vital and the participation’s confirmed, though not gonna lie, I’m terrified.ย It’s exactly seven weeks on Sunday, which is also the day before we go on holiday, and suddenly everything’s become a panicked, anxiety filled mess. This is not how it was hoped such a thing would initially be prepared for and so, as a result, it’s time to take a fucking huge step back at the weekend and quietly consider what is needed.

However, before anything else, it is time to start selling the reason why I initially signed up to do this.

I grow tired of the pontificating on Social media by people who talk a good ‘let’s all change the World’ speech but don’t ever push their own boundaries to do just that. So, I’ve set myself a ยฃ500 target, and have already contacted Mind, who will provide me with a jersey and encouragement along the way. This seems to me a far better means of making sure that the people who really need help are getting it, because I’m giving money to an organisation who’s sole task is to do just that. Rather than just sitting on my arse saying I care, this is a constructive means of making things better.

If the anxiety ridden depressive can do this, then maybe that will act as an incentive to others.

The Other Side

From the low, you inevitably come up. How that used to happen was normally accompanied by a lot of thrashing and wailing. This time around, the day started with a lot of playing Warcraft and no worries about the consequences. Stuff is scheduled and ideas are on the table. There will even be a short story finished by the end of the weekend for Mr Alt to edit. After I’d played, and progressed some stuff that was planned, there was a walk to the Gym. Lots of stretching happened both before and after the session.

There I worked REALLY hard.

The key is to keep moving.ย Once upon a time I’d have sat and felt sorry for myself, but having learnt the difference between good and bad pain after a year of experiencing plenty of both, there’s now the ability to discern the difference. Getting back on the road to fitness isn’t as painful as was expected, when all is said and done. What is hardest of all, and which prompted the Tweet yesterday, is everything outside of my control.ย It will mean that there will have to be a reassessment of priorities in the next few weeks. I have Eroica in a month (Saturday outfit sorted, Sunday will not take long.)ย There’s a distinct possibility I could be doing Ride London.

If they both come to pass, there needs to be more fitness than currently exists to complete both. If the latter happens, there’ll be a sponsorship page for a mental health charity going up because without support, I’d not be here.

190518

The problem is big numbers; building stamina, without my body failing to cope. That’s where the bike comes in, and why I’ll be getting back on tonight.

That whole ‘no pain, no gain’ thing is the absolute truth.

The World is Not Enough

goalsx

Between you and me, I am not a great fan of competition. However, it is undoubtedly true that having goals and objectives makes the process of putting in the miles (whether literal or metaphorical) easier to achieve. It is the reason why a daily list of Things to Do is now written without a thought with the second cuppa of the day. In the exercise department, self-motivation is key. Pushing each day to obtain what can often seem like nominal targets does have a benefit: those thirty-six tiny push-ups achieved yesterday will be a little bit stronger once completed today.

Last night, my Functional Threshold Power went up by a massive eight points.ย It wasn’t through a scheduled test, simply doing the Richmond World Cycling Championship course on Zwiftย as if I was trying to win it. What is now apparent is that setting goals matter far more than they ever did, because by these yardsticks does the true ability of an individual emerge. It’s why I’ve signed up for all those challenges: sure, some of them dangle free shit like juicy, fresh carrots… the realistic chances of winning any of it is slim to none. That’s not why we’re taking part.

010518

This effort, plus the fact there was no car to use yesterday in the rainiest day remembered for some time, also pushed the step count up in the range that’s not been seen for many, many months. I miss walking, and that needs to be fixed as the weather improves.

300418

The Fitbit won’t normally record my steps as miles, and so this is not a strictly accurate representation of effort (18 miles ridden plus about 6 miles walked yesterday would be closer to the truth.) Asking my Fitbit to record the activity as cycling will work if bike moves, but is largely redundant when static, so the thing is shoved in my cycling shorts (at leg level) to record movement that way. As a heart monitor is worn it’s easy to equate an accurate calorie count regardless.

However, if truth be told, the camera and I need to be outside, by the Estuary and in the woods and at the old buildings that are crying out to be photographed. That’s the plan for May, and with an improvement in general organisation, all these things should now be doable.

That’s the plan anyway.