If My Mom Were A Cyclist

As long as I’ve known her my mom was always a matronly homemaker that wore dresses with socks and sneakers. She had countless housecoats, she never wore makeup, and only did her hair on occasion. It never occurred to me that that wasn’t who she really was.

I know more about her now than I ever knew about her when she was alive. I had no idea that she had once cared very much about her appearance. When she was younger she dressed to the nines. Her purse, shoes, and hat matched perfectly. She could’ve been a runway model.

When I first started cycling I bought a lot of cheap crap. I was broke so I bought what I could afford. It was only when I went to Wisconsin that I felt what it was like to cycle in premium materials. Even then I wore sport ankle socks that weren’t specifically for cycling.

I started to replace my cheap cycling crap with premium gear at an affordable price. I buy good stuff cheap. Eventually my sunglasses got all scratched up and I replaced them with designer imposters. I ditched those mountain bike shoes and replaced them with top of the line carbon shoes and road specific pedals. I stopped wearing those thick ankle socks and started wearing thinner, more breathable cycling compression socks. I’ve always kept my tech up to date. I change my cycling computer and running watch every couple of years. I have all the coolest gadgets.

When my mom passed I started realizing that I won’t be young forever and that I should enjoy putting outfits together. I look forward to my weekend ride. After getting through the work week it’s very special. I pick out the kit I want to wear, choose the helmet that closely matches it, and I try to pair it with fun socks. The road is where I let myself shine. I put a good amount of thought into my weekday rides but it’s just a different feeling.

I wore the same designer imposter sunglasses for a couple years before realizing that I really like them. If I like the knockoffs I knew I’d love the name brand pair even more. I ditched the cheap imposters and bought the real deal. I absolutely love them!

So now I pose the question: What if my mom were a cyclist? Well, if my mom were a cyclist she would’ve been the most glam woman on two wheels. Everything she wore would’ve matched and she would’ve had such a sense of flair and swag. She’d have all the latest tech and kept up with all the latest trends. More importantly, she would’ve been tough. She would’ve gotten right back up if she fell. She would’ve taken pulls at the front and waited up for riders that fell back. She would’ve shared gels and food with anyone that didn’t bring enough to eat.

I realize now that I’m much more like her than I ever thought. Because our personalities often clashed, I fought tooth and nail not to become like my mother. I guess it escaped my attention that she had so many other amazing qualities. I’m proud to say that I’m very much like my mother and if my mother had been a cyclist then she pretty much would’ve been me…..

I Wish

I’ll start by saying how angry I am with you. I really wish that you had taken better care of you. I wish that you had not let your health greatly decline. I would do anything to hold, again, your warm hand in mine. Why the fuck did you have to leave me and your family behind?

I wish I could unsee that time that you were a complete bitch to me. You knew who I was and that I would forever hold a grudge. I wish that I’d had a few years more to resent you. I wish that I had more time to have been ungrateful for you. I wish I didn’t inherit your obstinate nature, but at the same time, I’m glad that you made me the woman who I am.

I wish I could go back in time and observe you when you were young and thin. I wish I could’ve seen all of your confidence, the woman who knew that she carried the world in her hand. I wish I could’ve seen the woman who knew her shit did not stink and knew that any man would’ve fallen to his knees at her feet.

I wish I could relive when I was a kid and you had instilled in me wonderful things. I wish I could relive when you taught me never to fear. I wish I could once again see the woman who would’ve stood up to fight if someone fucked with her kids.

Most of all I wish that I could unsee the sight of you lying still, your last breath recently stolen from you. I wish I could unsee you with all of those tubes that had failed at doing their job of bringing life back to you. I wish I couldn’t still feel your hand cold and stiff.

I really wish it didn’t happen so fast. I wish I’d had the chance for you to hear me cheering you on to stay alive. I would have begged you with all of my heart to stay with us here on this earth. I would’ve told you how very much I loved you before you floated away.

I want you to know that I still have in me the many things that you have passed onto me. I am the fearless woman who stands strong and tall. I am the woman who, if provoked, will be ready to fight. I’m also the compassionate woman who will come to anyone’s aide. I’m the kind woman who will feed those in need. I’m the loving woman who will give all of her love to just one man. I’m also the free spirited woman that loves the feeling of her toes in the sand. I am the woman who you molded me to be. I am extremely proud to say that you were my mom.

In time we will learn to go on without you. You may be gone but you will never be forgotten. Your memory will live on by all those that you have touched. You were an amazing woman that will be loved and missed very much. It is my wish that you be forever delivered from pain and that your soul may rest in eternal peace. Until the day that we again meet, you will continue to have a very special place implanted deeply within my heart.

Alexa’s Thunder Run

Before COVID-19 hit I had planned on racing the USA. My plan was to run an official half marathon or further in every state. I got the idea in San Diego. I ran behind a guy who’s shirt stated that he ran a marathon in every U.S. state. I asked if it was true and he said that he actually did it twice over. I was in love with the idea. I decided that a marathon in every state was too spirited a goal but I could bang out a half marathon on a whim. It’s my preferred distance. I would love to be one of the 10% of Americans that retire in an RV but I doubt I’ll be able to sustain that type of lifestyle. Why wait until I retire to tour America?

A couple of weeks ago I ran a local trail half marathon and it was fun. I enjoy trail running. Although it requires more of an effort, I find it relaxing. My mind doesn’t run as much because I’m very focused on the natural obstacles in front of me. I like trail races because I don’t have to think about where I’m going, I just follow the arrows that mark the course. I don’t actually race at trail races, I just go to have a good time.

I found a website that lists half marathon events that are going on in every state. I found a trail race in NJ. I had attended cycling races in NJ, but I never did a running race there. It was very inexpensive so I signed up. By doing smaller, lesser known races, I can save a bit of money and see more common parts of that state.

I drove an hour and a half to Newton, NJ. It was a small, pretty town. The event was to be held in Kittany Valley State Park. There were many warning signals that this race would be tough but I chose to ignore them, plus I was already there. The first thing I noticed was that this park was in the mountains. When I opened my race packet I was delighted to see that it was loaded with goodies. It’s the best goodie bag I’ve ever received at a race! I knew then that this would be no cake run.

I left the car to use the porto potty before I put my bib and hydration pack on. There was a sad looking young lady walking by. She told me that she must’ve dropped her gloves as she was leaving the house. I told her to come to my car in a few minutes, that I always carry more than what I need. When she came to my car I loaned her the spare pair of gloves that I had in my bag.

As the start was drawing near, two ambulances came and parked in the spots closest to the finish line. I probably should’ve bailed then but I decided to give it a shot anyway. There weren’t many participants, possibly forty. This was basically an event for hardcore trail runners. Before the start they briefly explained the course. The first mile was a climb up to the radio tower! We started running and, as we were making our way up, it got steep and those before me started to walk up. I never walked during a race before but I followed suit because these people had experienced this course before. After I was situated at the top I started running. I heard someone fall behind me. I asked if they were ok but I didn’t hear the response, it was a female voice.

Not long after that, I fell for the first time. I wore a long sleeve top and pants. I knew I’d be a bit warm but, after falling for the first time at the last trail race, I decided to protect my skin from another possible fall. I wound up falling three times. The final fall would be the worse. This was a very technical trail course. There were rocks, tree roots, large stones, downed trees, steep climbs, narrow paths on steep cliffs, and steep descents. Although I wore my trail running shoes, I still twisted both feet. A few times. I did a mixture of walking and hiking through this tough course.

I had choices. I could’ve bailed at mile five when we looped back to the starting line before continuing on to the next part of the course. I could’ve bailed at mile seven when I came back to the main road. I could’ve bailed at mile eight when I made a wrong turn back to the same spot. The volunteer informed me that I had made a wrong turn and to go back to continue around the lake. I kept eyeing the road that went back to my car. She knew my thoughts and told me that she knows it’s hard and that’s why she’s not running.

I continued on. I whimpered at times, bellowed out in pain when I twisted my foot. Each time I fell I quickly got back to my feet. I was alone in the woods calling out “Medic!” as I continued on. After the last fall I got up but couldn’t breathe. I stopped to assess myself. My ribs weren’t tender and I felt nothing out of the ordinary so I continued on.

In the last couple of miles I saw two runners ahead of me. I was close but I was running my race at my pace with no desire to catch up. I saw the young man fall and not get back up. I went to him, he said he had a cramp. I helped him work the cramp out of his calf as he cried out in pain. He told me that he didn’t want to slow me down. Although there was a three hour cutoff, I couldn’t just leave him there. I got him to his feet and we walked together, arm in arm, over all of the rocks, stones, and roots. When he seemed better I let his arm go. When the terrain changed to smooth I ran on. He ran with me until he couldn’t anymore. That’s when I went ahead.

In the last mile I caught up to the other runner, an older gentleman. We chatted until his friend, who had run the 10K, came to run the last portion with him. I went on ahead of them to finish with an official time of three hours and three minutes. The timing mat was still there and, even though we didn’t make the cutoff, we were still considered finishers and received a medal. The young man came later, after the timing mat was taken down.

When the race director awarded me with my medal I cried. I explained that I didn’t know that I was capable of completing an event like this. I was the 33rd out of the 34 people who had completed the course and the 16th out of the 16 women that finished but I did it! I took a beating on the course but I stuck it out all the way to the end. I proved to myself that I can do extraordinary things. When I got back to my car, I saw that my gloves were put into my door handle. They didn’t feel damp. I wonder if that was the young lady that fell and if she had finished the race.

Over the course of this event many people encouraged me. The trail running community is a very supportive group of people. If I had more trails like this one closer to me, I’d run on them and get better at it. I could get into this type of running, it’s challenging but I would really enjoy it once I got accustomed to it. It’s beautiful and peaceful in the woods. I should’ve taken some pictures, especially when I was by that beautiful lake. I’m sorry about the lack of pictures in this post……

This event was run very well. The course was well marked. The volunteers were very helpful and encouraging. There was a good selection of food at the end which included vegan options. As I mentioned earlier the goodie bag was top notch. I was very impressed with this event.

As always I thank all of the people that believe in me and encourage me. I don’t know if any of this would be possible without that support. Thank you all very much for reading!

52 Weeks

Back in March I was supposed to run three half marathons, I referred to it as March Madness.  I signed up for two and then gained entry by way of lottery into the third.  I ran the first race in upstate New York and even had a PR (that I’ve beaten since).  That was the last mass start event to go off before everything shut down due to COVID-19.  

The following week the race that I was supposed to run was cancelled.  I got together with a few new friends to run at the hilly college campus.  I was well accustomed to running hills at that point.  I didn’t intend on running a half marathon that day but I already had over 12 miles by the time I was making my way back to the car so I decided to run a half marathon.  The week after that I thought why not just run another half marathon.  

All of the events I was signed up for were cancelled.  The college campus closed their gates to the public to aid with COVID-19.  I had already decided to run half marathons on Sundays. Although running in parks offered the security of shelter from cars there was more of a risk in contracting the virus.  I decided that I had less of a chance of getting hit by a car on the road than I did of contracting COVID-19 in the park.  Because of that decision, I was never alone.  It was a regular occurrence that I saw my bike friends at my regular running spot.  I had been riding and running alone so Sunday was the only time that I was interacting with the people and groups that I used to ride with.

After more time passed, I became invested in running a half marathon every week.  I had decided on a goal of 52 weeks.  I was out there in all kinds of weather.  In the beginning every Sunday morning was cool, ideal for running.  As the months passed the weather got warmer and Spring offered slightly warmer weather that was still ideal for running. In the summer I ran early in the morning to beat the heat but it was still very warm and difficult to run in. I prayed for a cool rain shower or a sprinkler to run through. The fall was my favorite. All the heart rate training over the previous months had me in prime running shape. That’s when I had the PR and nearly hit my goal of a sub 2 hour half marathon at my tempo heart rate. Thats when I got sick with lectin poisoning and I was back to square one. Winter came and I ran in the freezing cold. It was hard because the poisoning robbed me of a lot of running fitness but I managed. The hardest thing about running in the cold weather were my cold, stiff hands.

There were times that I was hurting so bad that I nearly ordered an Uber or asked my husband to come get me. I decided that there would be no dignity in that so I found the strength to go on. On very hot days I contemplated ending my challenge. I asked myself “What would Scott Jurek do?”. Scott Jurek would go on and complete what he set out to do and that’s what I did. There were days that it was so humid that I could barely breathe but I made it through. There were times that I thought I’d pass out but I never did. Then there was that one day that I thought I’d beat the rain but got caught in the snow. My eyelids were frozen and my eyes were blurry but I somehow made it to the end of my run. In fact, during the last couple months of this challenge, I had doubts of being able to finish because of the snow and icy weather.

There were times that it was almost effortless. I’d glide up and down those hills. I’d take in the world around me and smile the whole run through. There were times that I wished I had added more miles. I felt amazing and could’ve run around the world. I was extra jubilant when I saw my friends. I took extra notice of everything around me and payed attention to the beautiful mansions and properties that I passed. I took in the aroma of the flowers and just kind of got lost in those moments.

Having this goal during this crazy time of uncertainty got me through. Some Saturday evenings when I thought about having a few drinks, I had this as the reason not to. Some Saturdays when I thought about spending the entire day on my bike, I had this to save my legs for. When I thought about taking a risk on a gathering, I had this as the reason not to risk my health. That, and wanting to see the people I care about the most.

Sunday half marathon gave me a deeper understanding of commitment. It has shown me who I really am. It has shown me what both my body and my mind are capable of. I now know that I’m no quitter. I know that I can follow through on the things that are important to me. I have learned more about myself in this past year than I have in the past seven years. People have told me that I have the strength to persevere but it was something I needed to see for myself. For the first time in my life I know for a fact that I am a badass!

There was no better feeling than approaching a finish line banner that was a year in the making. I was filled with pride and overcome with emotion. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment and have a new feeling of calm. Thank you to the special people that chose to share that moment with me. Thank you to everyone that encouraged and supported me through all of this. Thank you to everyone who believed in me. Thank you to everyone who wouldn’t let me give up when I was on the verge of abandoning what I was setting out to do. No goal is insurmountable. Believe in yourself and embrace your own journey no matter where it may lead.

Plant Based Living (main course)

Miss Ann’s Plant Lovers Chili

I love a thick, hearty, and “meaty” chili. I love a chili that sits atop the brown rice without seeping to the bottom. Lentils give the chili that “meaty” consistency that I love so much and they take on the flavor of any sauce.  I recently joked that lentils are the new ground meat!   

What you will need:

  • Small yellow onion (1)
  • Cloves of garlic (2-3)
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce (2)
  • 15oz can of dark red kidney beans with the liquid from the can (2)
  • 15oz can of cannellini beans, drained (1)
  • Red lentils (1/2 cup)
  • Cumin (1 tsp)
  • Habanero pepper, seeded (1)
  • Pink himalayan salt (1 tbsp)

How to make it:

In a high speed blender puree one can of the tomato sauce, the yellow onion, the garlic cloves, and the habanero pepper. Put the mixture in a large pot along with the rest of the ingredients.  Cover the pot and bring it to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat, and simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Remove from heat and let it sit for about 5 minutes.  Then serve it over brown rice or nachos.  Top it off with vegan cheddar cheese if you like chili and cheese.  It makes delicious nachos and pairs well with sweet potatoes.  

Play with the recipe a bit.  If you enjoy it a bit more spicy then throw another pepper in there or don’t remove the seeds when you blend it.  I puree the ingredients to add thickness to the sauce but if you enjoy a thinner chili then you can just chop the onions, garlic, and pepper instead of blending them.  If you don’t have a habanero pepper then any hot pepper will work well.

I hope you enjoy it! Stay healthy and safe. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.  Thank you all so much for reading!

 

Plant Based Living (main course)

 

Penne A La Vodka

This is one of my favorite dishes.  It’s delicious and easy to make.  Someone recently asked me how I live without eating my favorite foods.  People just assume that I’m making a huge sacrifice because I’m eating a plant based regimen.  I replied “I don’t.  I eat all the same things that you do, I just prepare it differently.”  In my opinion the non dairy version is soooo much creamier.  My husband even loves it.

What you will need:

  • Raw cashews (1/2 cup or 60g)
  • Organic canned tomato sauce (1 cup)
  • Yellow onion (1/4 cup)
  • Garlic cloves (3)
  • Vodka (1/4 cup)
  • Penne
  • Peas 
  • Basil leaves
  • Salt
  • Non dairy parmesan cheese (1-2 tbsp)

How to make it:

Soak the cashews in hot water for half an hour and then drain the water.  Combine the sauce, cashews, onion, vodka, and garlic in a high speed blender and blend on high until all the ingredients are blended together stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the blender.  Put the blended ingredients in a saucepan, cover, and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Add salt to your preference.  The sauce will thicken as it cooks.  

Cook the penne as per package instructions.  I didn’t specify the amount of penne because that’s a matter of preference.  I personally eat 85g of penne measured while dry.  Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Add as much sauce as you like to the pasta.  Add the basil leaves and peas to your liking as well.  Stir it together until it looks awesome.  Put it in a pasta bowl and sprinkle it with the parmesan. 

You can also use the sauce to make pizza a la vodka which is just as delicious!

Prep time: approx 10 minutes, cook time: approx 15 minutes.  Makes 2 cups of sauce.

Bon Appetit!

 

Plant Based Living (dessert)

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Mug Cake

I’m a chocoholic! I can’t live without chocolate and I don’t have to. These little single serving cakes are big enough to satisfy my craving but small enough that I don’t have to loosen my belt.

What you will need:

  • Whole wheat all purpose or pastry flour (2 tbsp)
  • Organic unrefined sugar (2tbsp)
  • Peanut butter powder (2 tbsp) 
  • Baking powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Apple sauce (1 tbsp)
  • Finely chopped banana (1 tbsp)
  • Vanilla extract (1/2 tsp)
  • Non dairy semi sweet chocolate chips (2 tbsp)
  • Non dairy milk (3 tbsp)

How to make it:

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a mug and whisk them together.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the chocolate chips, and stir them together with a spoon.  Add the chocolate chips on top of the mixture.  Microwave for 1 minute and 15 seconds. Eat it as is or top it off with non dairy ice cream and/or non dairy whipped topping.  Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 1 minute and 15 seconds

 

Independence

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I’ve got a lot of baggage, who doesn’t? I’ve amassed emotional damage from my childhood through my thirties.  What I didn’t realize is that I was still, at the onset of my forties, collecting emotions that were detrimental to my psychological well being.

Since I started reading “Finding Ultra” I began seeing into my soul.  I started evaluating my emotions.  I didn’t realize it when I started reading but it’s a great self help book.

In 2017 I was riding strong with some really strong cyclists.  I was on top of the world.  A couple of people suggested that I race.  I really wanted to but I was nervous, and uninsured.  In 2018 I got onto an insurance plan and so there was nothing holding me back.  Despite my weight gain and lack of fitness, I decided to try racing anyway.  You all read how that went but I’ll summarize it briefly by saying that I embarrassed myself.  Yes, I did try, but I came up short repeatedly.  I’m a has been that never really was.

In the winter of 2019 I bought a bike more suitable for racing as well as the new team race kit.  I spent good money on a matching racing helmet.  The helmet even has my name on it.  I had every intention of racing in 2019 but something happened over the course of that winter.  I fell in love with running and decided to pursue a longtime dream of running a marathon.  I had abandoned my cycling goals to focus on my running goals.  

Before I started running I had always admired runners.  In cycling speed is not only dependent upon fitness but many other factors such as the bike, it’s wheels, aerodynamics, etc.  Running is pure in that nothing, except for training, will make a person run any faster.  Many sneaker companies will claim that their sneakers will help you run faster but they really won’t. In running you are the bike, the machine that you must will forward faster.  

Now that I’ve run two marathons my goal is to bring it all together.  The more I read and fuel myself with clean energy, the more interested I become in cleaning out my emotional closet.  I didn’t realize it at the time, I didn’t realize it until I sat down with my girl that the cycling races were about chasing a moment.  I didn’t experience that moment but I acknowledge it now.  Why does anyone want to race? For some it’s a moment, for some it’s a form of validation, for some it’s a rush.  For me it was all of those things.  I wanted to feel like I was on top of the world again.  Although I entered many running races, it was never a moment that I was chasing.  The running races were always about finishing and having a blast along the course.  

I’m only now regaining some of my bike fitness along with overall fitness.  My appearance is becoming more lean and muscular.  I’m gaining confidence.  This past weekend I was confronted by my racing kit in the closet except this time it wasn’t laughing at me. It’s fabric is lightweight and breathable, the chamois was made to last even the longest road races.  I never wore it because of the shame I experienced in cycling races.  I simply stopped competing after only one season of racing.  I was not good enough to wear the team kit.  This past Saturday, Independence Day, I put it on and saw myself in it.  I really saw myself and I liked what I saw.  I saw a woman not only facing her insecurities, but wearing them proudly for all to see.  I did a long, hilly ride in that kit and it felt like heaven.

I’m done with chasing a moment.  I want to enjoy the journey.  I love training even though the world is currently on pause and racing seems uncertain.  The more uncertain it seems, the harder I train.  Eventually normal life will resume and I will rise like a phoenix from the ashes armed with fire ready take the world by storm.  I now realize that the race is not just the event, but the entire journey leading up to that moment.  I’m now ready to fully experience every moment from every run, every ride, and soon every swim. 

We all have something going on.  Now may be a good time to confront it and stop the demons from haunting you.  Release yourself from the hold that they have on you.  Fight back and come out victorious.  We only get this one life.  If it all ended tomorrow would you be happy with the way that it all went? I’ll leave you with that thought…..

I hope you are all healthy and safe.  Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.  As always, I thank you all very much for reading. 

My Experiment

Over the course of the past few weeks I have been experimenting with nutrition to see how it affects my personal sports performance.  The result of this experiment amazes me.  I’m simply reporting on my findings.  This experiment has nothing to do with environmental, political, religious, or personal views.  What you choose to eat is your business. 

I have compiled my runs and documented what I ate in the twelve hour period prior to each run.  I chose my runs instead of my rides since its a consistent and steady effort.  My rides have too many inconsistent variables such as stopping at traffic lights and things of that nature.  Here are my findings:

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating meat and dairy for dinner followed by a vegan breakfast.  No running power data is available.

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating fish with avocado, sweet potato, and cauliflower for dinner followed by a vegan breakfast.  The image shown on the right is the data from the running power meter. It shows that I had to stop during the recovery intervals due to muscle fatigue.  I actually felt victimized by my own planned workout.

This is a 7×800 interval effort after eating a plant based regimen for two days straight.  Not only did I surpass my targets but I still had more energy after my workout and did not feel at all depleted.  This surprised me because it was warm and very humid (98% humidity).

I have plenty of data from plenty of other runs but it all results in the same conclusion.  I chose these examples because they are the same exact intervals on the same exact course.  I have data that shows a faster run a week before a slower run and many inconsistencies due to nutrition.  It’s fascinating.  Eating a plant based regimen enhances my sports performance.  Not only do I perform better at cycling and running but I have more energy.  Over the course of my seven week stay at home order I reduced my caffeine intake.  I have more energy drinking less coffee.  I’m more alert, I solve puzzles seconds faster, and I rarely nod off at my desk (that was a somewhat regular occurrence prior to quarantine).  I feel less sore and my legs rarely feel heavy.  

When I first started this experiment I was eating animal products a few times per week.  Over the course of this experiment I reduced my intake of animal products.  I now eat no animal products.  My decision is based solely on how I feel.  I feel much better than I ever have before.  I’m not at all interested in consuming animal products.  I’m not saying that I’ll never tear into a juicy skirt steak ever again but I have no interest in feeling sore and sluggish on a regular basis.

I encourage you all to explore your own curiosities, whatever they may be.  This life is too short not to seek the answers to the questions in your minds.  If you do conduct your own experiment please share your results with me, I’d love to hear all about it.  I’m always ready and willing to learn something new.  I hope you are all staying healthy and safe.  Thank you all so much for reading!

 

 

Quarantine

 

I’ve always worked. I’ve been working since I was a teenager. I had three months off back in the summer of 2010 but I’ve come to regret how I spent my time. Back then I was a smoker and I had no interest in exercising. I spent my days in front of my big screen. I did other things that summer but nothing compared to how I would spend my time nowadays. I often dreamed of what I would do with that amount of time if I had to do it over again.

I’m not saying that I’m happy that a pandemic broke out but I was happy to be able to have time to myself. I did everything that I should have done back in 2010. I spent my mornings either cycling or running and my afternoons either reading or watching movies. I read “Let Your Mind Run”, “Shut Up Legs”, “The Incomplete Book of Running”, “Eat & Run”, and “A Life Without Limits”. I watched a lot of Running and Cycling Documentaries as well as the inspirational movie “St. Ralph”.

I had fun adventures while cycling and running. I enjoyed the minimal car traffic and took advantage of roads that I would normally avoid because of heavy traffic. Every day was not a beautiful and cloudless day with perfect weather but I enjoyed them all the same, despite all the damn wind we were having. On one of my rides I was just a couple of miles from home when I came to a roadblock due to a car fire! Once it was established that the driver was perfectly safe and that it was his company’s car, I took pictures. The car was ablaze and there were mini explosions within the fire. It was crazy!

I normally run a half marathon distance on Sunday at tempo heart rate with ten second hill sprints at the campus nearby but it was converted into a Covid-19 testing center. I started running on a quiet, hilly road nearby instead. I normally start my runs with my legs feeling like lead logs before they finally warm up after three miles. One day I felt amazing from the very start of the run until the end and it was my second fastest half marathon distance. My fastest half marathon was at the Celebrate Life Half Marathon, a hilly race upstate. I pushed my heart rate to the max at that race and had a PR by about four minutes. This run was at my tempo heart rate and was about two minutes slower that the race.

The runs after that started the same as they usually did with my first thoughts being “I feel like crap and I’m dying”. I decided that that one day was just me having a good day. It wasn’t until three weeks later that I put it together. I was reading Eat & Run by Scott Jurek. I normally don’t judge people but I saw him as a scrawny vegan… until I read his book. I always thought of vegans as tree hugging wild environmentalists. Scott Jurek is none of those things. In the beginning of his book he wrote about eating barbecued meat! He is not opposed to eating animal products, he simply chooses not to. He wrote about how much better he felt on a plant based regimen. I loved how open he was about his life and searched for movies with him in them. That’s how I stumbled upon “The Game Changers”. This movie showed me how the body metabolizes different foods and contradicted everything that I thought I knew.

That was when I had my great epiphany. OMG! The night before that awesome run I had eaten Tofu Pad Thai, the date was on my billing statement. I always eat overnight oats made with almond milk before my activities. That was it! I ate plant based foods and benefitted from it. I started experimenting with different foods, including seafood. My best efforts were after eating a high protein plant based pasta with either tofu or seafood. My favorite thing to make is butternut squash sauce with dill, it’s delicious. I make a lot of Thai inspired food loaded with vegetables. I’ve always eaten a wide variety of food so I was prepared to switch it up. If you season food properly anything will taste great.

In the middle of all this I had been researching the Stryd footpod for running power metrics. I read an in depth review that focused on the training aspect of it instead of the technology itself. That sealed the deal for me. In TrainingPeaks the only unit of measurement or progress is pace. Pace is dependent on so many factors. The Stryd footpod also has wind detection as well as efficiency metrics. There are times that I’m running slow but working harder and vise versa. It’s important to me that I know what my actual efforts are. I have learned so many fascinating things about myself while analyzing the data it provides after my runs. For instance, I use less power to keep my heart rate from shooting up when I climb up hills and more power going downhill to keep my heart rate from dropping too low. So, basically, in order to keep my heart rate even I have to climb slowly and power down a descent. The data is very interesting.

Between eating a regimen conducive to making gains and analyzing my running power and efficiency metrics, it’s almost as if I became faster overnight. My Critical Power (running ftp) has shot up since I started using the footpod. All of my running training is coming together. I was experiencing many inconsistencies that I’m no longer having.

Of course I’m also having cycling gains. I have a lot of work to do on the bike to get to where I want to be but it’s coming along and I feel much better riding. Just like my runs, I feel good from beginning to end. There were times on my rides when I couldn’t figure out why my hard work wasn’t adding up to me putting out power. The answer was simple, it was my shoes. My winter cycling boots don’t have a stiff sole like my spring/summer shoes do. For a couple of years I couldn’t figure out why I slowed down, again it was the shoes. I was wearing cheap shoes with more padding in the sole. When I bought new shoes with a stiffer sole last summer my riding dramatically improved. My confidence is going up and I feel better about myself.

What does a lady do to boost her confidence even more? A makeover of course! A friend of mine posted herself on Facebook doing her hair. I hadn’t trimmed my hair since 2012 and my ends were straight out nasty. My grays were running rampant and I’d done nothing to stop them. I felt ashamed of myself. She was using a hot air brush. I looked into it and that brush blows hair out straight in twenty minutes! I bought one. I also bought a set of scissors and hair dye. I trimmed and dyed my own hair. Not only do I feel much better about my appearance but I feel empowered from being able to do it by myself.

I’m not happy about the pandemic but I am happy about being able to hit the pause button and reset my life. I learned and grew tremendously in the seven weeks that I was off. I have absolutely no regrets about how I spent my time. I was extremely productive and forever changed. I hope that all of you are heathy and safe. No matter what you have going on, every day is an opportunity to grow and make positive changes. Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. As always, I thank you all very much for reading!