Saturday, June 27, 2015

Things are clicking left and right. Clickety clack!

Hola! How are you?? Still here? Yay!!

Me too!! It's been again 2 weeks since I last blogged, but it seems to be my current cruising speed. In other words, I've been lazy. But that's ok, it's not that I've had any Earth shattering news to share with you. Same old same old... until this week. This week has been pretty great workouts wise. I decided to get back in the saddle regularly and put some work into the program that I started on Trainer Road 3 months ago. You know, the one that I was very motivated to follow, but I failed miserably after 2 weeks and just gave up, because. Too much stress, too little fitness, and mostly because I shifted my focus towards physio.

But two months later and a few good weekly outdoor rides, I decided to pick up right where I left off. And to my surprise, it was with great success. Most notably, it looks like my fitness has significantly improved since April and this time I didn't feel like passing out before the end of the workout. I finished it without difficulty, and with an average heart rate lower by 20bpm in the hard intervals. Now that was a huge surprise. See below, the failed workout in April, where my HR was in the high 180s, and now, where it did not go above 169.

Ericsson in April - gave up in the 3rd interval, could not follow the instructions. Too hard, despite having lowered my FTP by 10pts. 
Ericsson in June - followed all instructions, could hold all cadences, heart rate stayed in the 160s. I even did the single leg drills. Yay me!
(Ignore the heart rate anomalies in the second workout... the Scosche strap got too wet and I had to tighten it for it to return to reading the HR properly. After I adjusted it, it came back within the normal range.)

Needless to say, this workout gave me a huge moral boost. Finally, proof that everything I've done in the last few months was not for nothing and that my fitness is coming back. And to confirm that this was no fluke, I did one more workout 2 days later and finished it again without difficulty.

I even got off the saddle as per the instructions. This workout was focused on leg power and although I am not used to grinding my gears, I did just as it required, alternating intervals between 75rpm and 85rpm. I can't wait for the next workout now. Luckily the weather will be crap tomorrow, which means that I'll have to do my ride indoors. Back on Watopia (the new Zwift island) and Trainer Road!

Last time on Zwift I managed to get the polka dot jersey (fastest climb) and hold it for most of the ride. Must have been a slow day... here I was during one of the recovery intervals, spinning my legs at 75 watts, haha.
What else is new? Not only the bike clicked this week, but the swim did too! Despite going to the pool only once or twice a week, I tried to keep my focus on finishing my strokes properly and increasing my turnover. And it's been working! 

On Tuesday I went to the pool and I was glad to have another friend from the club with me as a challenge. I tried keeping up with her, doing 300m sets alternating between swimming with paddles and without. And by the 3rd interval I was flying!! Definitely my fastest swim this year and possibly... ever!!! Followed by 3 loops at Professor's Lake this morning, where I also challenged myself to keep a high turnover and it paid off. I can't believe how good all these workouts felt.

The run was a bit on the back burner this week after having a great few workouts last week. For the first time this year I ran twice 5k without pain, and even completed my first serious speed workout of the year (10x400s).

This week I returned to physio and I was told that focus needs to turn towards my abdominals as I hurt my back last time I went. The PT told me that I have a strong back, but the front, not so much. So we need to fix that before we move on with the leg and hip strength because I tend to arch my lower back too much and I am not able to engage my glutes properly. So there is that. I feel that I've already started to neglect my physio workouts, and I have to get back on the bandwagon asap. The good news is that my IT bands and hip strength are really improving and that showed in my running. But as usual... patience. 

I still don't have any races in my calendar longer than 10K this year and it will probably stay like that. I would love to do a 1/2 marathon later in the fall, but Zin thinks it's better to wait until next year so I'm willing to listen to him for now. I don't want to rush things and I still don't have the confidence that my legs are strong enough for that kind of distance. I am not defined by a distance, am I right? I just want to stay happy and healthy. Fingers crossed this won't be another roller-coaster ride. 

What else can I tell you guys? Maybe share a few photos to see what I've been up to? Why not! :-)
I've led quite a few rides for the FMCT club and they've been so much fun!
Bought a new pair of kicks: Hokas Stinson ATR and they are pretty awesome
Saw a big snapping turtle on my run.
Bought a wonderful scarf from Coeur Sports and I fell in love with it instantly
Sherpa duties at Rose City / Welland Half Iron triathlon where hubby kicked serious ass.
Alright, that's enough for today. The ZZzzzzZZZZzzzzzs are calling me. But first, Channing Tatum and Jimmy Fallon are saying dirty jokes on TV and excuse me...

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

2015 Woodstock Sprint Triathlon Race Report

Holy macaroni, is this a real race report?! Yes it is!! It's not a volunteering, cheering or spectating report. It is true, I completed a triathlon last weekend and I cannot wait to tell you all about it. Sharing pictures though, that's something else. I was truly apprehensive to see myself in race pictures and they did not disappoint. The 10lb that I packed on since last year scream at me from the whole mid section. But now that's out of the way, let's get on with this report. Nothing I can do about the pictures and my stupid weight.

There was little mental preparation going into this race as I had no doubt that I could go the distance, but the big unknown was going to be the run. Before the race, the longest I had run without knee pain was about 4km at the simulation day. However, going even that far after a 40km bike gave me hope that if I stick with my physio program and continue believing that I WILL get better, maybe that would become true eventually. I had zero expectations with regards to finishing times, no podium goals, not even a PR. I did zero speed or hill work this year, and the number of bricks completed can be counted on 3 fingers. I barely maintained my fitness through my emotional ups and downs and truly the biggest challenge has been to keep my head above water.

The morning of the race I woke up at 5:30am with the plan of leaving the house before 7am. I showered, had a big breakfast (as usual) and made sure I packed a banana with me because that's the only pre-race ritual that can mess up with my mojo big time. I also took a gel to eat on the bike and some Gu Chomps in case I needed them on the run.

Zin drove me to Pittock Conservation Area and as soon as I got on site I ran into Ken, Dana and Phaedra. We all lined up to pick up our race kits and managed to keep the nerves at bay by sharing last minute tips and posing for pics. Here are a few of them that Zin turned into a GIF. I like this version much better than the individual ones. Did you spot the chocolate milk ad placement? Haha!!

Then before I knew it, I had to go in transition and set up my stuff. Phaedra found me a spot just beside her and I felt special racking beside a champion.
I also ran into Dave Jenkin, my old coach who moved to Woodstock and started the Woodstock Triathlon Club there. It was great to see him again. I thought it would be cool to take a picture together just like we did last year. We gotta keep the tradition going!
Soon enough it was time to go. I went in the water for a short warm up and I was pleasantly surprised by its temperature. Just perfect, although a little choppy for my liking. I also think the water was slightly warmer than the air temperature, and I was still on the fence about racing in my tri top or add a cycling jersey on top.

I left in the second wave, the yellow caps. I got into a groove pretty quickly and despite being swum over a few times, I only swallowed a minimal amount of water. Yay me, because given the amount of goose poop I walked in along the shore, I was a little worried. Not very surprising, I had the slowest swim ever. I came out of the water in 17min and change, but the disappointment only lasted a second. I was a little too dizzy coming back into transition to worry about paces.

The long run out made things even worse as it elevated my heart rate through the roof and left me wondering how in hell I was going to bring it down so I can breathe normally again. To add insult to the injury, the bike out was up a hill, then I had to face a head wind for a third of the ride at least.
I didn't have to say a lot of "on your left" this time around, as I kept being passed over and over again. I only remember 2 girls in particular because we started and finished the ride very close to each other. The first one was in my AG and she passed me within the first 100m of the run and the second one was a 17yr old, whom I kept passing on the downhills, and she would pass me back on the uphills. She also took off on the run and I never saw her again.

I ate a gel about half way on the ride and drank a little from my water bottle. For once I was glad that I didn't have to pee on my bike as I was working hard to keep up the pace. No distractions allowed! Overall, it felt like a lot of work and not much fun. You really don't have time to smell the roses in a sprint triathlon.

Compared with last year, it took me exactly 3 extra minutes to complete the bike for a total of 43:30min. The HR was exactly the same, an average of 170bpm. It definitely showed how much power I lost on the bike, but I am not going to mourn it forever... it will come back if I put the work into it. Anyway, I consider myself lucky for having had a perfect ride once more, without physical or technical issues of any kind.

Coming back in transition, I put on my socks and running shoes, grabbed my gels and off I went again. The way out of transition is along a wooden path on grass/dirt, then it changes to gravel, then concrete over the dam, then dirt again. Quite the mix of surfaces I should say. Here is what it looks like within the first 200m.
I am posting this picture because I'll have to come back to it in a few minutes. But until then... let's keep running. Again, I felt pretty slow and sluggish, but I remained concentrated on the job at hand.. er, feet. Looks intense, doesn't it. That Imraan guy sure doesn't like it that he's getting chicked.
I did my best not to blow up, but I still ended with a stitch after 3km. I didn't want to stop, so I pushed through, mentally tricking myself into believing that a downhill was going to magically appear and take away the pain. But more realistically, the trick of hitting the ground with the opposite leg on an exhale was going to yield better results, so I tried to concentrate on doing just that.

Maybe the stitch went away in the last 300m, or maybe I don't remember that pain, but soon thereafter I remember falling on my face on that lovely wooden path that I shared with you earlier. Just before turning into the finish chute, I tripped on a root and flew a few feet ahead in a very dramatic display of grace and agility akin to that of an elephant on skates.
I picked myself right up, dusted off and kept running. I knew that I was going to have a nice rash on my left arm and leg, but those were going to be my only battle scars that day.
I'll take a rash over knee pain any day!! Alas the photographer did not get a picture of me with my arms up in victory, but the sentiment was there. I finished my first triathlon of the year, and despite being the slowest ever, it was a huge WIN for me. No pain in my legs, and this, my friends, is the sweetest gift at all. The gift of running with a smile on my face and achieving a goal that I didn't think I'd be able to reach again. Not much else is left to say. I will just sit here inside my little bubble of bliss and allow myself to hope that a pain free racing season may be possible after all.
I'll leave you with a photograph of Phaedra and I while we were waiting for the awards. This amazing lady took the win (again!) and because she's such a great friend, I stayed around to add my cheers to those of the crowd. Any time I can share a race with her, I feel completely spoiled.

And that's a wrap! Next race, IM Muskoka 70.3 where I'll be racing as part of a relay team (I changed my registration because it was not a good idea to do it all by myself and undertrained). Look us up as team "Beets and Pickles". I'll be swimming, Ken (first picture) will be biking, and Robin will be running. This is going to be FUN!! By the way, Ken finished his first ever triathlon in Woodstock (and he kicked ass!!) and Robin will take part in her first ever triathlon in Muskoka, after completing a 100 miles (!!!) trail race last month. Go read her blog, you'll be inspired.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Believe, do something

Last week was a lot more manageable. Not only I had Monday off and spent a few good hours riding my bike with friends, but it also went pretty well on all fronts (work, family, monster slaying). Thanks to Emma, there is even a new picture of Zin and I worth of a frame now. Aren't we cute?
It's now saved as wallpaper on all my electronic devices. In my happy place with the love of my life, it can't get better than that.
Here are a few more from the day because why not?
We had to wait for a train. Now that was a first.
Then Zin posed with our fearless ride leader Emma, who just as I thought, has grown some nice muscles in those legs of hers over the winter. I can't even. She's now waaaaay stronger. But I love her just the same. She's going to kick some serious ass in her first ever triathlon season.
On Tuesday I took a day off. Alas not from work, but I gave my legs a rest since riding 100km over two days was a bit of a shock to them.

However, I showed up to the track the next day, especially after promising to a young member of our club that I would work out with him. I took him under my wing since he joined and it's amazing to see him taking his first steps into triathlon so to speak. He's determined, and I think that he will do pretty good once he gets a little more confident. For now it's all about enjoying the process of learning new skills and building a good base, one km at a time. I am really happy for the opportunity to be there for him.

So we did the speed workout and overall we ran/walked for 5.6km. My legs felt just fine, but mostly because it was interval work and I gave myself plenty of rest in between the fast laps. It was a short workout, but it made me believe that a comeback may be around the corner. My PT seems to have a plan for me. He keeps telling me that I'm making progress and I have a sneaky suspicion that, not only he wants me to go back to running, but also get faster.

On Thursday I went to the pool and swam 3 x 700m in my ROKA SIM shorts. Despite being a bit lower in the water than the week before, I managed to swim 5sec faster per 100m, mostly due to paying attention to my stroke for as long as I could keep focus. I'll timidly call this progress.

Then on Friday I went to my physio where I worked hard as usual, doing all kinds of running and strength focused exercises. This PT really knows how to tap into your psyche and make you feel good about yourself. Which may have been a little foolish of him, because this happened as soon as I got back to the office:
Yes, you read this right. 5 races (because discounts matter)! All sprints, with the exception of Wasaga Beach Triathlon. For now the Muskoka 70.3 is still on the schedule, but I will most likely drop out after the swim, or the bike or walk the 1/2 marathon, or not do it at all. I will be there because it's my hubbs' A race, but I don't have any expectations for myself. It'll probably be as foolish to even toe the line.

Alright, so now that's done, I'd better get in the groove, right? On Saturday I went back on my bike, this time with the FMCT tri club. It was a very chilly day (only 2C when I woke up!), but Zin and I plus 3 other brave souls showed up and we rode to Erin for a treat at Holtom's Bakery, then came back all schuss on Mississauga Rd, which is always a great adrenalin trip. I didn't even beat my fastest time on this downhill, but of course, I wasn't drafting behind Zin. Here are some pictures from day because they are all awesome memories.
I came back home and relaxed for the rest of the day, then on Sunday I did it again. Well, not quite, but our club organized a "brick day" and this time I showed my young friend how to change gears on his brand new road bike and bomb all downhills because it's always a pity not to! Then we ran for a bit on the Caledon Trailway and called it a successful day.

Needless to say, I feel much better today.
Almost 9h of training this week. Say whaaat?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

IT hurts

Every time I come out of a crisis, I feel completely lost about how and what to write here. Should I talk about it, should I just brush over the subject, or completely ignore it? IT. The monster living inside my head that takes over my thoughts and chews my brain, inch by inch until it feels about to explode. It's hard to explain if you've never been inside my brain. It hurts, a lot. It hurts my head, it hurts my body, it's rather unbearable the way I feel trapped inside a very tiny room with white walls. I can only make one step in each direction before I start to panic, over ventilating, heart beating out of my chest, in full panic mode. There is no way out, the pressure on my chest, the claustrophobic feeling triggered by the overwhelming amount of thoughts that keep bouncing inside my head. Many times I think there is no way out. It's just a matter of when I am going to lose the fight.
I start folding the laundry. It keeps my hands busy. It keeps me in a state of usefulness. The 3 baskets of clothes have been waiting for me for 2 weeks, but I ignored them. With more clothes added to the pile, the less adequate I feel for the task at hand. I manage to put away 1 basket and a half. But one hour from now, another one will take its place. It always feels like a sisyphean task. And predictably enough, I start crying again. Two hours of crying is quite a workout. Some days, it's all I can do for my family as I leave most of my energy at the office. I live in a constant state of mental drain. If it makes sense, I dream of a brain battery that I can recharge on the spot, like a robot.

Physically, there is a long way to being active to the point where I don't hate myself. I usually feel active enough to work out, but looking in the mirror is always hard. I miss the days when I had the energy to move mountains and I was not broken both mentally and physically. The month so far has been like a long walk through a swamp. Not only I did a lot of physio workouts, but those didn't get me outside of the house enough. This week I tried putting a little spin on my workdays so to speak, by biking to work and back. I've always been fearful of the drivers in my city, they are rather... intense. I made it 2 days back and forth and I didn't die. Now that was surprising. Each ride took just a little under 30min, and overall I enjoyed them. Which means that for the first time in a long time, I biked 3 times this week. And I smiled every single time.
It gives me hope to see these smiles. If I can be outside, if I can focus on things that bring me joy, I feel safe. I may be the least safe on the road, dodging cars and potholes, but being alone with my thoughts is certainly more dangerous.

I also had company this weekend. My friend Carol spent 2 days at my place with her boyfriend. She is training for the mighty Ironman Muskoka and she went on her longest ride ever yesterday with my hubbs and 2 other friends of ours. I couldn't go because I'm not fit to ride over 100km and I already go against my doctor's orders every weekend with the rides that I lead for my tri club. This picture that we took just after a long and gorgeous descent today, reminded me of our best times on the road, training for our first 70.3, two years ago.
In two weeks from now we'll be returning to Muskoka for a training weekend with the club, but once again I won't be allowed to ride long. I'll have to find a lot of mental tricks to stay present. Ideas are welcome... At least my boys will be with me and maybe they will be willing to spend some quality time with their mom instead of staring into their phones.

This post is bouncing all over the place and I'm not sure where to go from here. So maybe I'll just talk about today. It was our club's first race simulation day event, where we swam, biked and ran, just like in a race. We even had transition racks hand made by Zin.
With 16 people in attendance, it sure was a very successful event. We swam in circles for a while, simulating open water swimming, and that was a lot of fun.
Then we went on the bike ride and I chose to lead the 40km group. Other people, more speedy than me chose to go on their own, others did the 55km loop or the 20km one. To each their goals. I have no goals other than staying outside of the dark corners of  my brain.
I found the same uphills and downhills that I've been enjoying in the past few years, but traveling across these roads is always a new adventure. You never know what your legs are capable of. Today, it took mine more than 20km to go from wet noodles to pistons. I made it back with a big grin on my face, then I finished with a run. My longest run this year, 5km, wow. It took me 34min, between walking up the hills, taking pictures of other runners in the group and stopping to smell the lilacs.
My knees started to hurt at 4km, but I ran/walked the last km and made it back in transition where I scarfed down a few pieces of watermelon because it was the best ever. Then I went home, ordered food for lunch and collapsed in the couch with a beer. I am hoping that it refueled me enough to reach the end of another week without banging my head against (invisible) walls.

And since this is a long weekend, tomorrow I'll be riding with friends again, but this time from Burlington. I love me a slice of Escarpement, but I may not be able to keep up with Emma, who just finished the 8 Days in California Trainer Road Challenge. Read all about it here. She has become a beast on the bike... but maybe, just maybe she will be tired enough so we can chat in between hills.

What else? I don't feel like going into too many details of the last weeks worth of workouts. I reached 7h of workouts/week, with the help of bike commutes and picking the garbage on the side of the road at the semi-annual Adopt-a-Road club event. The physio focus is still there, but not as intense. I forget to stretch throughout the day, but I foam roll more often than before. I have made great progress in strength and agility and the physiotherapist seems rather happy with me, but I haven't seen a major difference in my knee pain just yet. Trying to stay patient. And remember to stretch. If you feel inclined to see how I filled in my weeks, here's a Training Peaks snapshot.
As for the state of my mind, one day at a time... it's all I can do. I know that most of you, for not knowing my past, assume that I am still dealing with the Ironman blues, or that I got depressed for not being able to run, or because I am not losing weight, or some other vain trait. Before I end this post, I wanted to tell you that this isn't the case. Why do I feel the need to justify myself? Because of articles like these which are hard to avoid nowadays. You see a lot of smiles on this blog, but I have plenty of pictures crying as well. The smiling pictures help me go back to those moments of joy. The sad ones have their purpose too, but I don't feel like bringing other people down with publishing them. I have been depressed for over a decade. Running and exercise just helps me cope with it. For the rest, there is no magic wand or snapping out of it. IT just is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

In Physio Focus

I have been staring at this white screen way too many times in the past month, wondering what I could write about. Last time I wrote it was all about doing more of what made me happy. And I did follow suit, however these opportunities were far and in between. There is a sort of lassitude that is slowly creeping in. The less I work out, the less I am motivated to do it, kind of -
"without running, what's the point?". I know it's silly, but I am slowly losing the passion, the fire that ignites my willpower. Without races on the horizon, without a coach, without a plan, it's easy to fall back into the couch potato routine.
Pretty sure I was about to cry. Thank God for that Larabar.
I managed to drag my sorry ass out for a swim every week, hot yoga once a week and a bike ride or two every week, mostly outdoors. However, I've only tried running once for 15 minutes, and that was rather uneventful. Another reason for this decrease in activity has been because I've started working with a new physio therapist and I was told to stay put. Everything has to be "easy" and no runs longer than 20 min for now. But I am very busy taking care of my hips and glutes. All physio work is targeted towards strengthening these areas, so I've been trying to be a good student and fit in as many exercises as he prescribed.

I went to see this guy, who was recommended to me by half a dozen people for being the best at fixing wonky knees and shredded IT bands. I could not afford going last year because I had maxed my physio budget before my IT bands decided to go on strike. But as the new year started, I made it a mission to have a gait analysis done and find out what it would take to fix my legs so I can return to running. His practice is just 5 min away from my office, so that worked out perfectly. The good news is that I run well and he had nothing to say about my gait. He said things like "natural ability", "great posture", "talent" blah blah blah. Maybe he was just trying to be nice. But anyway, then he went on giving me the not so nice picture about my strength. "You are nowhere near as strong as you should be for doing the kind of distances that you chose". Or rather, I am not strong in the places that I should be, like hips and glutes. I've heard this one before... But only now I've been given extremely specific exercises that target precisely those areas. And gosh, he has me working hard.

He said that if I were to do just sprint triathlons or run 5Ks, he would have just told me to go home and not bother, but since I made him understand that running long distances is important to me, he is committed to seeing me returning to doing what I love. And he wants to follow me throughout the entire season to make sure I keep on doing things right. Not once he tried to sway me away from doing long distances or to tell me that I am destroying my body, like many other therapists said before. He isn't Lisa Bentley's PT for nothing. I really liked the guy. He also took time to explain every single exercise and how it affected my body. He puts a lot of emphasis on doing all exercises with such focus and purpose, it's almost intimidating when you think about engaging all these muscles during a single stretch or exercise. Like the bridges below. Try doing them on your heels, tilting your pelvis, squeezing your butt and the legs to keep them close to each other. And don't forget to breathe. Ouch.

He has me on a 40% mobility, 40% stability and 20% strength routine. I don't have the video to share with you, but when I run, my knees collapse inwards and good running technique can only take me that far before knees and hips start complaining. It's all normal since I sit at least 10h a day and then I add more sitting on the bike. So now I have to get up every hour and stretch my hip flexors and IT bands. I have to do a variation of the "couch stretch", by using my desk, with a good posterior pelvic tilt and glute recruitment, at least 5-6 times a day. At home, I get to do daily bridges and work with bands, and a thousand jumps and core stuff. Here's what this week's torture session looked like:
  • 10 x bridges 10 sec on/off 
  • 10 x bridges with leg and arms lift 10 sec on/off 
  • 5 x 5 lateral steps each direction with 2 bands 
  • 12 cross leg stretch on step and opposite side lunge, each leg 
  • 5 x 10 basic stance hops 
  • 5 x 10 left leg runner forward stance hops 
  • 5 x 10 right leg runner forward stance hops 
  • 5 x 10 forward/backward hops 
  • 5 x 10 forward/backward hops with open/close stance 
  • 10 cross step and side lunge with bands, each direction 
  • 10 x 10 sec low plank with arms on bosu ball
  • 5 x 10 sec side plank with leg lift each side
Band Level Up! Twice the bands, twice the resistance.
Sweat makes perfect
Can you guess how sore I am? These exercises make me grunt and sweat with each step! But after 2 weeks of work, the PT seems to be happy with my progress, so fingers crossed that I'm on schedule for his 6-8 week prediction of seeing real improvement (aka no more pain while running).

What else can I share? Maybe a little more of that stuff that makes me happy? It may not have been all unicorns and rainbows, all the time, but sure it did the trick, at least for a while.
Warm enough to wear my new Coeur bike jersey
Riding my bike with hubbs
Channelling my inner cycling diva before falling on my face (true story)
I knew I could turn the gloom around. Now that was a beautiful day worth reminiscing. Just looking at these pictures makes me smile!! 

What else did I do that made me happy? 

First, I got my NCCP coaching certification. Yessir!! I am supposed to sound legit and shit when I talk triathlon now. Just don't forget to talk to your doctor before doing anything I say, mmmmkay? Not that I plan on giving up my day job for becoming a coach any time soon... But at least I keep my mind entertained with knowledge since I cannot keep my body busy with practice.
Second, I managed to renew my Hot Yoga pass! For cheap. And I'm not even a Goodlife member. Don't ask me how I did it, as it may, or may not have required a pig tail and the blood of a virgin.
Last but not least, I met a bunch of friends and we had dinners and fun together. Friends make everything better!! Here is Phaedra and I eating ALL THE SUSHI and chatting up a storm. I love this girl!
Okay, I think that's enough smiles and good news to redeem this post. What say you? Here I click Publish.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Do more of what makes you happy

"Do more of what makes you happy" - It's the key to bouncing back up, and a mug that I've seen on Pinterest and bought earlier this week because I need the constant reminder. There aren't many options, but when Mother Nature gives you two days at +10C and sunny skies, you take time off from work and go for it!
So  I took Thursday off and along with Good Friday and the weekend, I knew I was in for a treat. After starting the day with a steering committee meeting that I had to hold over the phone since it was super important (and I was the host), I turned on my "Out of Office" notification and called it a day work wise. I could not wait to get the fun started!

Truth is, I didn't quite know what to do with myself. Zin was working, the kids were in school and I had no plans on having fun alone. I spent a few hours on the couch, but I don't even remember watching TV. I do remember counting down the hours to the moment I'd go on a bike ride with hubbs though. Eventually, it happened.

Empty roads, a strong head wind and patches of snow still on the ground. And a crooked horizon because I am out of practice taking photos while I ride.
I also had a crooked helmet because it hadn't been worn it in months and who knows what happened in the garage while it was sitting in its box? Oh well, stop looking at the helmet and look at our smiles instead. I *think* Zin was smiling.
It was a short hour to reunite with my bike and my balance skills. But also with all the feelings that bring me happiness, even temporary like the endorphin high. It may have only lasted for an hour, but it filled the day with enough awesome to make it memorable.

And the next day? Guess what? I did it again!! This time I took a few folks from the tri club to Belfountain and we ended being on the roads for more than 3h. It was still windy and cold, but the company warmed my heart. And this smile? It stayed the entire weekend!
Not even the aborted run on Saturday could kill my mood. I spent most of this short break watching movies (Mad Max 1 & 2, Into the Woods, The Imitation Game, Annie) and doing things that I love. Okay, folding the laundry doesn't count. That always sucks. But I cooked healthy food and it turned out pretty tasty (yay me!), took care of my sore muscles by stretching, rolling and icing. I even did a strength workout focused on my hips and glutes.

I talked to my mom and my best friend in France today, I put on my compression tights which I haven't worn in months, I even went on Zwift island for another spin to help my legs recover from the failed run.

What else? Long weekend shenanigans aside, should I mention that on Monday I ran 30 minutes non stop? That almost did not hurt. On Tuesday I went to the pool where I introduced two new members of our club to our swim workouts. I swam a few lengths too, the first in weeks. I didn't like it, but what else is new? I prefer showing people good swimming technique from the deck rather than getting wet. Besides, I'm such a mediocre swimmer that nobody should take my own swimming technique as gospel. Do what I say not what I do, okay? And with this last thought, maybe it's worth mentioning that I also signed up for  a NCCP triathlon coaching course this coming weekend. Don't you worry, I'm not going to give up my day job yet, but at least I'll feel more confident about the advice I give to people starting in triathlon, who ask for it quite often. I really enjoy seeing people falling in love with the sport and I believe that having a good mentor makes a big difference. As I will be spending this year on the sidelines due to my injuries, at least I can make myself useful. And that makes me happy too.

"Do more of what makes you happy" is going to be my mantra and one way out of this. I give you my word.