Bang Bang :: Day 1

I slept. It wasn’t great, but with arm on a pillow, it was doable. I was up at 6.30 and everybody made it out, and after that, there were two hours extra kip. I’m taking paracetamol, nothing stronger. There’s a bag of frozen onions doing sterling work as an icepack in 30-minute bursts, and the swelling is going down. The biggest problem right now is wrists and thumbs.

So much of life is around digit and wrist mobility: opening and closing stuff, gathering up my hair, putting on clothes. This next week will be an education and is gonna end up in a fiction at some point, because all of this is good practical research. Now all I need is actual movement back, and we’re golden. Even without the painkillers, it’s less stressful than yesterday.

Let’s hope everything keeps improving.

Hit Me with your Rhythm Stick

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Things that I have learnt from the last week include the following:

  • White bread is now The Enemy. No more sneaky nicking a pretzel anymore for lunch. If I want poached eggs, granary only. I don’t care if your brain screams nostalgia, having lost my gallbladder now means body bloats like it is a balloon full of helium. Just don’t. There is other stuff too. Just eat better. You know what the benefits are when that happens, so why won’t you fully commit?
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  • My body is not happy for at least 120 hours after giving blood. That means next time there’ll need to be a full week of light exercise, building back to normal. 72 hours is not enough. As I’ve crashed three times now at the same point each time, under the exact same conditions, this is a decent sign to accept that for a sacrifice, there are consequences. I feel pretty good this morning though, so that’s good.
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  • My personal life is a fucking mess. I spent an hour this morning sorting portions of that out, and once I’ve done the writing here there’ll be some effort to alter some more. Professionally, however, it’s looking decent. Maybe everything is impossible, but until it is tried, how will I know?
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  • It is time for a Minimalism purge. Schedule a day to clear the PC. Time to unsubscribe from a bunch of mailing lists too. Make everything simpler. You do not need the clutter. You do not need all of this stuff, it’s a crutch you should be running without.
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No more fucking about. Let’s get to it.

This is My Church

This morning, whilst the rest of my house slept, I was up and in training kit. Walking home from the Gym yesterday I turned my ankle, which is painful to walk on but isn’t affected by pedalling on a bike. Therefore, the plan was set: 50k yesterday meant I needed 60k today to hit my training goal. In the end, it transpired that was closer to 62k (coz rounding up and down) but that was still completed in two hours. I am still in shock.

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The last three months have been fairly revelatory: I’ve used Zwift before, but never stuck to any kind of target. Now, I cannot think of not training: when the weather gets better, weekends will be spent cycling outside, but I now have a sure-fire means by which to exercise which does not need anything other than me strapping on a heart rate monitor and walking down the end of the garden. It’s a fantastic part of my health regime, has undoubtedly made me far stronger on the lower half of my body, and is pushing me to do stuff that I’d have never really considered before.

I have finally become a convert to the Church of Virtual Cycling.

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Ideally, I shouldn’t have taken three rest days this week, but health circumstances dictated the big weekend push which, on reflection, is no bad thing. Next week is going to be a bit tricky, as tomorrow I give blood: that means at least a week of just not having the energy to push at anything, and coupled with the menopausal trauma of this last couple of days… well, it’s going one of two ways. I’m hoping we don’t get the Disaster Movie scenario: tomorrow will be a rest day regardless, but for the rest of the week there’s a plan to do my standard 30k in whatever time it takes, without breaking any records. Next week is very much a ‘doing the miles’ week and my aspirations of an FTP increase will need to wait not only until I’ve had seven days to regen but on my ankle, which is not really that happy to be pushed to do anything.

I’m on a week of light, maintenance weightlifting, supplemented by an hour of the treadmill at the Gym. I’m on the waiting list for the Bluetooth device which is needed to pair the Gym treadmills with Zwift, which will allow me to run virtually as well as cycle. Yes, I am a full convert. Well, if you’re gonna do something properly…

It is still a shame I can’t embed my Strava data in WordPress, but you can’t have everything. For now, I’ll make do with copy-pasting, and just keep on racking up the miles.

God, who would have thought I’d get so much enjoyment out of exercise?

Closing Time

Putting on my leggings this morning, I had a back spasm. I know a guy who had weeks of painful repercussion simply from picking up his daughter, another who turned his head suddenly and slipped a neck disk. Sometimes, however careful you are, this shit just happens. I’ve ingested the standard painkillers, will take it easy and won’t do anything strenuous until Wednesday’s PT session. Not only does this shit happen, but I am well versed with the means by which you deal with it. Lying around all day complaining is not an answer, though it might be a wish for some. For me, there is really too much to do. It really doesn’t matter we’re in half term either.

My career is not going to progress itself.

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This morning I dropped my old car off for the last MOT I will have to pay for, as it is now consigned to the chronology of vehicles I used to own. It will still be driven for a while yet, however, but a replacement is ordered. It’s smaller and petrol, and I suspect might be the last fossil-fueled vehicle I ever possess. After that, it will be a tricycle or my feet, and that will be totally fine. My son has already professed a complete lack of desire to learn to drive, stating there are far more important things he ought to be doing. Public transport suits him fine, and I have a measure of empathy with this statement. I’d love to call time on this county’s obsession with cars as transport. Maybe my son could be the first step.

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I’ve also got half a mind to start taking pictures every day from now on, just as a means to give my brain summat to relax with. The weekend was enormously stressful, and I would venture to suggest a lot of my body woes are wrapped around the trauma that created. Therefore having something to do other than working at a PC or a bike will be hugely beneficial long term. I ought to do yoga too, but that’s not really a half term pursuit. For now, the daily walk will get some air in my lungs, wake up the brain and give more content.

After that, we can busk the rest.

Sail Away

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There is now no escaping the understanding that I am looking at things differently. My clothes fit differently too, body parts doing things that were never the norm before. The last 23 days are the base layer of something quite unique and separate to that which has come before, at any point in my whole life. I realised last night, as husband urged me to sprint to a new personal best on Zwift, this is no longer about proving I can. This new year is understanding what I really want. Previously after having done a leg day at PT I would have (sensibly) relaxed for the evening. Not anymore. If I have the energy to do it, that is what will happen.

It also means embracing what matters most in the projects I’m working on and listening not simply to body’s capability. This is also hearing and attending to inner desires.

When I started my drawing project the belief was that I simply needed to be able to reproduce what was in my head onto paper. As time has gone on, the subconscious has begun to sublimate that desire, reminding that my art is not solely reproduction. I love photography, and increasingly the use of collage to tell stories. In fact, the comic strip is heading that way so that when I start telling a story at the beginning of February, there’s the ability to back up my feelings with appropriate imagery.

I’m getting quite excited about the ability to draw what I see, however, and that the ability exists at all. There was a concern I didn’t possess that capacity to begin with, but now I feel I could make a decent fist of still life work with enough time and focus. The next step, therefore, is to make time, and the change in working practices that’s currently in progress should allow that to happen without too much fuss.

I am surrounded by artists on my Twitter feed, and all of that disparate (and very brilliant) creativity is undoubtedly aiding the evolutionary process. It is true what they say that conducive environments create more possibilities to be creative if you choose to take them. I’m confident at this point I’ll do a year of strips too, and maybe beyond because this is a part of the expression process that is becoming increasingly vital. However, what is apparent is that pictures won’t just be hand-drawn, but created from other materials.

This is a development I’m more than ready to embrace.

Ride on Time

My husband is a member of British Cycling, and last night printed the first page of a PDF file that he was directed to as part of his membership package. This details an eight week Sofa to 50k Bike Ride training programme.

As it transpires, I’m quite tempted to use this as the warm-up to Eroica because it ensures I get plenty of rest before the day. I’m going to take it and show my PT as a discussion starter next week, but before then I need a new Fitness Plan on the wall.

My starting weight from five weeks ago is EXACTLY THE SAME as it is now, except with a crucial difference: I am eating more to fuel the extra workload. That means, logically speaking, once I adjust to more miles and start eating less? My weight will fall. The PT (quite sensibly) suggests not fixating on the scales, especially as I’m adjusting to a completely new form of exercise. Undoubtedly my stamina is improving, and the fact I’ve increased just about every weight in my upper body sessions suggests that side of things is benefiting from the change.

Now, all we need is legs at a consistent level.

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The key in all of this is the Weighted Average Power number: the higher that number, the harder my legs are effectively working. This is the second day in a row I’ve been able to maintain 134w and the plan now is to settle at this level for a while and build the endurance. Ideally I’ll want more but both ankles and knees need time to get the plan and work with it. I also need a Physio to poke my right foot at some point which I suspect has a trapped nerve somewhere. They’ve done wonders for my hands via shoulders so I would hope something can be done to at least reduce irritation.

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The other massive, positive change is my sleep pattern. I’ve had no choice but to go to bed at 9pm all this week, I’ve been physically incapable of anything otherwise. Both body and brain have been shattered and that lasts until I have to pee, almost without fail. Tonight I can afford a couple of extra hours because there’s no 7am school run but honestly, my life is getting better and not worse despite the need to rest more. I’m noticing more attentiveness and crucially, when I am tired, it is everything that shuts down. Fighting the tail end of my cough/cold/illness this week my body pretty much insisted I go have a kip, or we were not doing anything at all.

I cannot remember the last time that happened.

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The plan remains to aim for 110 miles a week, which is utterly doable at my hourly rate. As this is a static bike there’s no worries about the weather, and the recording tools I have (heart-rate monitor, Zwift) allow some decent number crunching after the fact.

I’ll let you know how I’ve gotten on in five weeks.

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Number of Days of Continuous Exercise = EIGHT

That was Christmas, then, when I ate what I was given, didn’t log any calories and had a sandwich for Festive lunch. Honestly, this ought to be the norm going forward: very little food was wasted yesterday, everybody was hugely happy and Doctor Who is now female. I’ll watch the Xmas episode again at some point via the iPlayer, but I honestly don’t think there’s been a better seasonal episode/Regeneration handover since Mr Tennant entered the TARDIS.

Last night’s board gaming was definite sea change from previous years too, resulting in a pleasant hangover. It is Boxing Day lunchtime and both kids are still in bed, for instance, and we were the ones getting them up yesterday. However, in what was undoubtedly the best change of all, I did an hour on the bike yesterday afternoon.

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The fact you can cheat, if you desire, by spoofing your bike’s power output is a real source of amusement to me: this isn’t like making a Facebook post where you pretend to go on a run and then don’t. The numbers, in this case, are inescapable proof. I also did more yesterday than I did on Sunday, and what this means is that today’s ride has the potential to feature three sprint sections and not two. If that is the case, the plan will become in the next few weeks to ride it harder and better, with the sprint times being worked on and reduced. I also think I could do this on top of what I have planned for scheduled exercise: it will all depend on how organised I can get myself in the meantime.

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I just ate the last mince pie in the house, and after dinner with my parents tonight I’ll be back on the healthy wagon. Having turned my 6.58 alarm off my Fitbit a couple of minutes ago, there will still be early Gym tomorrow morning.

I think maybe it is time to keep this line drawn in the sand.