Friday, July 31, 2015

Staying the Course

The Ride to Remember (R2R) is in exactly 50 days.  I am so excited and nervous at the same time.  A novice cyclist, this will be my first Century ride.  In looking forward, I can’t help but think about how far I’ve come and what I’ve been through over the past several months.

Family vacation to Disney World.  Thanksgiving, 2014
A few months later and I look totally different
Through everything, I stayed the course, finding an obstacle or two along the way, but never deviating from my journey to accomplish my fitness goals.  The most significant personal challenge I have accomplished is the completion of a four-part performance assessment for my license to be a school administrator.  I got my official certificate last night!
I can imagine if the state of Massachusetts saw that I posted this online...
so I edited and water-marked it to make it difficult to be reproduced.
But it's official!  :-)
In June, I finished one more graduate class and school let out, which has allowed me to train. I’ve been riding close to 100 miles / week.  Each ride I take is a learning experience and I so enjoy riding and the challenge it gives me.  I’m not crazy about climbing hills, but I don’t mind them and sometimes I feel like I’m kicking their “@$$.”

To compensate for the riding, I have been eating more than 500 calories above what I typically eat daily.  I feel like I am hungry all the time.  I hate it because I religiously log all my food.  My food journal tells me I’ve met my calories and macros for the day, but I am still hungry.  So I listen to my body and I eat, and without trying, I’ve lost four more pounds this month.  Some of my clothes are literally falling off me. 

Last weekend I wanted to challenge myself by completing the first leg of R2R.  I figured I would ride down to the starting point in the morning, head up to the first rest stop before there was too much traffic, then head back through one of the towns, around the back way to our house.  I mapped it out on MapMyRide and it was a 40 mile ride.  I thought, “Ok, you got this.”

I was nervous when I got started.  I went out by myself, which was my first solo ride in a couple weeks.  When I completed the first leg of the journey, the feeling I had was somewhat indescribable.  Energized?  Pumped?  Blissful?  Tired?  How do you combine these four words into one?  I took a short break and headed back.  The sun was high by this point and the heat was increasing.  I had plenty of water and Gatorade with me still.  I had a snack at the rest stop and was feeling good.  As I headed through Monson, I knew I had a mountain to climb, or at least go around.  It was tough.  I had ridden the mountain on the other side and this side was significantly less steep, but I was tired by this point and the sun was hot.

I lost the GPS on my way home, so I don't know exactly what my average speed was.
When I re-mapped the ride out, it was actually 45 miles that morning.
It was a great feeling to have done it!
At one point, I pulled over and took a fluid break.  I had to catch my breath and let the blood flow back to my brain.  I was starting to feel really fatigued and I thought, “I should call Brian to come get me.  I’m really beat.”  But the next thought echoed, “You are not a quitter, you got this.  Come on.”  So I endeavored to get back on the road, finish my climb and get back to our house.  Within ¾ of a mile, I went by Echo Hill Farm, which is a familiar orchard where I brought the kids apple picking in the past.  “A little further, Tracey, you got this.”  Sure enough, I got to the fork in the road, chose the back way which meant less climbing.  A climb still, but not as much.  Within a short while, it was an exhilarating descent for the rest of the way.  When I got home, I was spent.  I was expecting company at 12, but I had to rest.  At 11:30, I took a shower, and texted my friends came at 12:30 and I honestly don’t remember much of what happened the rest of the day.  I was completely exhausted.

I was wiped!
I stopped at the bike shop to get a couple tubes (spares, in case of a flat) and Gary, Jr. at Comp Edge started to talk to me about my nutrition, another customer came in and the conversation ended.  Sunday I was so tired I could not function very well.  I went wine tasting with a friend and told her she needed to drive because I was too tired.  My legs felt like Jell-O all day.  Monday I felt awful, physically and cognitively.  I couldn’t really make sense of things, and physically I felt terrible, which left me feeling defeated.  Three days of feeling like crap.  I was eating and hydrating – far more than I usually do.  I did not understand.

I was done.  As much as I enjoy working out, it’s the good feeling afterwards that I enjoy, not being spent.  I was ready to throw in the towel.  I just wanted to cry.  I can’t do this.

I work out with my trainer on Mondays.  Even though I didn’t feel like it, I went in to see him.  We talked about all of this, he looked at my nutrition journal and made some adjustments.  “Now, go home and eat.  3,000 calories today.  3,000 calories tomorrow.”  What?  How am I supposed to do that?  I can’t possibly eat that much.  “Eat what you enjoy.  What kind of foods would you eat if you could eat anything?”  Pizza.  Ice Cream.  Baked potatoes.  A cheeseburger.  My mind started to race with thoughts of fattening foods I had been either avoiding or eating very sparingly.

I accepted the challenge, went home and had two pieces of meat-lovers pizza, ending the night with an ice cream sundae, topped with chocolate sauce and peanut butter.  It was amazing, but sickening sweet.  The next day was easier because I had an entire day to eat the 3,000 calories, so I ate a huge breakfast; a small sub and chips for lunch; steak, corn on the cob, salad (with blue cheese dressing), Italian bread and a baked potato with sour cream for dinner.  I was soooo stuffed I could not eat the corn.  I felt like my stomach was going to explode.  I logged all my calories and there were enough to have a Friendly’s Reese’s Peanut Butter sundae cup for dessert.  But I couldn’t even think about it because I was so full, but was able to eat it before the end of the night.
All this food made me feel stuffed.
The sweet sugary ice cream that I used to
love and crave so much was way too sweet for me.  
The extra calories gave me a huge boost in energy.  Cognitively I feel so much better.  My thoughts are not jumbled, my mood is significantly improved.  I was able to finish cleaning the house for the wedding we were supposed to host last night.  All week, I've had a jump in my step and a desire to work out. 
My son's best friend came home from Alaska on Monday to marry his fiancé.
We were going to have it at our house in the back yard, but the forecast was
severe thunderstorms, so on Wednesday, the decision was made to move the venue.
I LOVE how crazy hair looked at the wedding!
It's usually pin straight and flying every where.
What did I learn from all this? 

NEVER GIVE UP.  I do need to listen to my body.  But I don’t have to quit.  When I want to quit, it means I need to make some adjustments to what I am doing and figure it out. 

EAT.  Unlike before, when I was trying to lose weight, now I actually need to eat a lot more!  My body needs the fuel to function, both for my rides and for daily activity.  I was burning more than my body has, so my resources were deplete.  Dmitriy gave me a lot of technical explanations, which I understand (enough) but cannot begin to explain.  Being able to eat more (and a lot more carbs than I was before) is harder than it sounds, as I have to overcome feeling guilty about eating a bagel or having a sandwich.

TALK TO PROFESSIONALS.  According to the girls at work, I was feeling crappy last week too, but I don’t remember.  (I was in a fog.)  I should have waited to finish my talk with Gary, Jr. on Saturday, or at least followed up with him later.  The guys at the bike shop are incredibly knowledgeable and more than willing to share their expertise.  I should have talked to Dmitrity about feeling crappy sooner, not when I was at the end of my rope.  I guess I didn’t know what was going on enough to even think it was my nutrition, although Gary, Jr. gave me that inclination.  I can’t tell you how much I value Dmitriy and everything he does to support and encourage me.  He is amazing.  I write about him here:  Dmitriy Made It Happen.

ASSESS and REASSESS as you go.  I had been talking to Dmitrity about my nutrition when I ride and he made some good suggestions which helped me a lot.  But my body stores were deplete and it was not enough.  I have a lot of riding planned for this weekend, so we are going to reassess at my next session to see how I held up.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  Your body needs proper hydration, nutrition and rest.  If you can’t figure it out, talk to someone who knows what they are talking about and listen to their advice.

I am planning a ride today when I get home from Logan Airport (my son is going on a Missions Trip with our church youth group).  What’s on the menu?  A peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread!  Why?  (My body needs the simple carbs to give me the fuel to get through the ride.)  I’m feeling so much better that I am really looking forward to it!

I’ll post some pics here later.
Here are the pics:  Riding

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

Here's my question for you?  
What do you do when you're at the end of your rope?  
How do you stay the course?  
Post your answer in the comments below.

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