Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tour de Awesome

Terri and I just arriving!
Well I survived my third time biking the Tour de Shore from Philadelphia to Atlantic City. I may not have kept up with my riding buddies Terri and Jeff (who finished faster then last year you go guys!) but hell I got that shit done.

For barely training at all this year, I finished in about the same time I did last year. And I trained pretty hard last year considering the debacle that was my first year riding. I was thrilled to say the least. My quads disagreed immediately following the ride. However I must say that this is the least sore/recovery time I've needed in all my rides. I'm two days post ride and feeling quite fine. It's amazing how many times I wanted to just quit and I can see now what a mental struggle competing against the voice in your head is; your body is fine to keep going but you have to be able to silence that little voice inside your head encouraging you to quit.

Terri, Jeff, and myself aka
 the crazy people who do this year after year
Lots of things I learned from my past experiences made this third ride better. For one, the camel back water pack is essential. I packed an extra frozen Gatorade in that as well, and a half frozen/cold one on my bike. Those made all the difference in keeping me hydrated. I was truly lucky in that the weather was overcast and cool for July which improved my timing immensely. The day before I decided to charge my old school iPod (I'm talking click-wheel technology what what!) and use that to listen to music on my ride, as I figured I'd keep my phone on me as a backup/just emergency use. Riding to music the whole way definitely helped keep me motivated.

The hardest stretch for me was after I hit the 30 mile mark. I made it feeling great from Philly to Hammonton, and stopped at the second rest stop to refill my supplies and get some fuel in me. From there you get on Moss Mill Road and ride it for what seems like an eternity. For me it was hardest getting from there to the 4th and final rest stop before entering Atlantic City. As I said, I didn't keep up with my riding buddies but had my headphones in so I never minded riding alone. But then your quads start burning. And your 'seat' hurts. I'm not talking uncomfortable, I'm talking am-I-sure-I'm-not-permanently-damaging-something? hurt. And that voice in your head pipes up, 'You know you can stop and get in a support van and they'll take you the rest of the way';  'You don't need to do this'; 'Why are you even doing this?'; 'This hurts, my seat hurts, your quads are cramping. Just stop now';  'Why am I here?'

Luckily, I had many factors that helped me push through. For one, my fellow riders. It's almost like people would pass me and could see the thought bubble above me processing the idea to call it quits. People would pass me and ask 'how you doing'? or 'hang in there you're doing great'. Or I'd overhear other's conversations and they'd make me laugh. One in particular was a gentleman telling his friends how he was coaxing his hamstrings to just 'make it through this!'  Just little words of encouragement like that gave me the pep I needed to push those thoughts out quitting out of my head.

At one point before the 4th rest stop I was about to throw in the towel, and then I saw the 1 mile to the rest stop sign (sidebar, kudos to Tour de Shore for having those mile markers this year). It was all I needed. How could I face everyone waiting at the end for me by coming out of a VAN? I'd be disappointed in myself, and although I know my friends and family would support me no matter what, I'd be embarrassed to say I had to stop.

When I got to the 4th rest stop and they kept encouraging us that it was only 13 miles until Atlantic City.  I was pumped. How could I quit now I'd made it this far? I changed my playlist to get my motivation going, and rode those 13 miles into AC. You know what's fun when you're exhausted and drained? The wind blowing off the ocean AGAINST you. Oh yes, it was a glorious, against the wind 13 miles. But my main accomplishment this year is the bridge leading into AC.

You are spent. Your quads are cramping. You are mentally and physically fatigued. And your last major quest is having to pedal up a bridge to get into the city to your final destination. It's literally torture. I had hopped off my bike and walked up this final mountain the past 2 years because my legs wouldn't support me to pedal up it. This year, I RODE OVER IT. I had all intentions of hopping off my bike again and walking it. But no. This year there were other riders with me. This year I wasn't alone on the bridge. This year I made it up and over even though my quads screamed at me to stop. I was elated. I pedaled as fast as I could to get to the finish to see my family and friends waiting for me.

Literally after stepping off my bike.
Which is why I look like I might die
Overall I was so thrilled to do this ride again. I learned so much about myself. About how even though I didn't train as much as I should have, by keeping up with my overall fitness and losing weight from last year, those were the main contributors of my successful ride and quicker recovery time. I learned how that little voice in your head really likes to fuck with you. That voice wants you to quit and just give up when the going gets tough. But when you're able to push past it, it's amazing how well you can do.

I'm planning to start training for my half marathon starting this weekend. I'm going to remember just how nasty that little voice can be, but if you just push through you can squash it and accomplish feats you never thought you could. 

There is nothing flattering about bike shorts people!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Exercise please!

Alright, truth time. I have been so slacking on my fitness. Wah wah.

All smiles pre-run!

Life has been is crazy. Between work and the house and   traveling and summer plans and the puppy, it's nuts! That's   no excuse I know, but it's the one I'm using to justify myself until tomorrow.

The last run I did was a 5K over a month ago for Special   Olympics. It was however my second best timed 5K on   that Tuesday morning. My motivation? BACON. No   seriously, it's literally the worlds BEST buffet breakfast ever after the run, and I wanted bacon so badly I could taste it.   Okay, so maybe it's all in my head after an exhausting run   following days of booze and a conference, but if it made me run faster then it worked! As always the breakfast was as   mouth watering-ly delicious and everything I ever hoped for, with extra bacon as a reward.

I am signed up for the Tour de Shore tomorrow and have done *minimal* bike riding. And by minimal biking I mean cramming a ride in at least daily of some mileage to make up for my lack of training. Hell I didn't even get a bike tire pump until the end of June. We were spoiled before when we lived in H-town and would just use my parents air compressor to fill our tires when they got low. Slow clap for me for finally getting in the game. 

I've just decided to go out tomorrow and have fun. It's my third year doing the ride so I pretty much know what to expect at this point (famous last words) and feel as though  I'll be fine for the 65 mile trek (hashtag, lies I tell myself). It's surprisingly hilly where I moved which is made my training, although shorter, much more intense.  I know I can do it even with only a month's worth of training because I've been working hard since January to improve my overall fitness. Even with my past months slacking I've been able to maintain my weight loss, and that's a hell of a lot better then gaining!

Kristen (the lovely lady in the photo above) talked me into doing the Rock n'Roll Half Marathon in Philly September 15th. Which is great because it will force me to train and get off my lazy butt. I'm going to recover from my ride this week and jump straight into running again. In August. So does anyone have a great 6 week crash course for Half Marathon Training? Because obviously I'm taking crazy pills.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Washington DC Trip

All the way back in April I had the privilege of going to Washington DC with an association I'm a part of for the Federal Legislative Summit. We got the opportunity to meet with members of Congress to present our issues and you don't really care so I'm not going to bore you with details.

Instead I'll give you some of the (ridiculously fun) highlights:
I drove to Washington as it's only about 3 hours from home and I'm used to rides longer then that as my husband and I did that every other weekend to upstate NY while we were dating.
While driving in I see what I 'think' is a large gaggle of geese flying in a V formation. When I look to my right however IT'S A HUGE AIRPLANE FLYING OVER THE HIGHWAY as apparently, the hotel I'm approaching (and staying at) is next door to the airport.  I mean sure I'm used low flying planes living so close to Philly, but I didn't realize my proximity to the airport at that point and needless to say it took me by surprise.

We got to have dinner at this amazing restaurant called Capital Grill. I know, there's one right here in Cherry Hill but I don't make that kind of dough, OKAY?! Five words: Blue-Cheese Stuffed Olive Dirty Martini (is that six? who cares!) Lip smacking good. Also the funniest were the three of us from the group trying to order different levels of dirty martini's at the bar. The bartender just looks at us, goes First, Second, and Third base? I raised my hand to third because I love my martini's extra dirty. Best explanation of how dirty you want your martini I've heard YET.

Anyway, we had the most ridiculous taxi ride there but the most exciting was when we took a  limo back to the hotel. I promised I wouldn't post photos as to ruin anyone's crystal clear reputation. Yes my friends we had a LIMO driver with down time stop and drive our thoroughly stuffed selves back to the hotel. It was AWESOME yet random experience.

The next morning was our meetings with Congress. I was innocently making my way down the hallway to find the ladies room before we departed for the Capital, and there were staff taking video interviews of our thoughts being at the Federal Summit. I have to laugh because they asked me to say a few words as I was walking by and I, of course, happily obliged to give an interview. It's amazing how many times on-camera opportunities have come into my life since graduating with my Communications degree even though I'm not working in the 'communications' field. The staff was grateful and impressed with my interview. I told them I'd sign autographs later.

The Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom and really are quite beautiful. The last group I was assigned to had the opportunity to meet with our Congressman IN a private meeting room within the Capital Building right before he went to speak on the Floor. It incredible to have that opportunity and get a behind the scenes look at our government's buildings. The nerd in me was geeking out in a big way, and I'm not even that political.

You know what's the best way to top off a trip?! Being stuck in traffic and it taking 4 hours to get home after a long day. Mhmm, but I wouldn't have changed any of it for the world, except maybe taking a train I could sleep on my way home. But I was extremely grateful for the bag of snacks they gave us to get through the day!