Sunday, 23 October 2011

One week in, so what has changed?

It's a week now since I returned to work after a very relaxing 5 and a half week holiday break. I was a little concerned how I would manage the return, both physically (I was really enjoying daily naps mid afternoon) and mentally (I was returning to a project that had mentally shredded my ego and had me doing a big rethink of my life).

I'm proud to admit that I survived this first week and really enjoyed being back in the grind. I believe that this was possible due to a number of changes I put in place prior to my first day.

I've done some very effective self analysis through the years, and used this information to do some significant mental tidying while off work. First and foremost, I know I am someone who likes to be organised. There is nothing that will do my head in more than not having things in place and having to rush around at the last minute. Unfortunately this describes most mornings pre-holiday.

This week I set a routine in place that means when I get up in the morning, I just get dressed, have some breakfast and head off to work. Give it another six weeks to become habit and she'll be apples!

Secondly, I stopped putting unrealistic expectations on myself. Nobody at work has ever said that they expect me to work long hours and have everything finished before I leave for the day. I am the one who put that expectation on myself. So now I make a point of marking my finish time in my diary and leaving at that time. I know there will be times when I'll need to work later or start earlier, but it's up to me to manage my workload, my time and my self-expectations.

Finally, I got on my bike this week. The commute to work is around the 3/4 of an hour mark, plus shower. My regular drive to the bus stop and ride the bus to work takes about the same time. On Monday I take a week's worth of clothes to work which means I ride to work Tuesday through Friday, when I bring dirty clothes home ready for the weekend wash.

I intend to try a number of routes to work until I find one that's a combination of speed and safety. Already this week I have found a preferred ride in, which takes me off the roads at Hawthorne and delivers a gorgeous ride along the banks of the Brisbane River. Its a refreshing start to the day and the views are spectacular. The ride home isn't as important for the scenery, but gets me home quickly and quite directly.

I really wasn't sure how committed I would be to a bike commute, but can say that after only a week, I am really enjoying the time on my bike each day. Not only is it my regular travel time, but I'm also exercising for an hour and a half each day! It helps that it's coming into summer, the weather is glorious and the days are long. It also helps I'm in the right mindset to keep on track at this point in time.

So a week in, I'm feeling great, both mentally and physically. Sure I'm counting down the days to my next break, but hey, who isn't?

Monday, 10 October 2011

A pleasant Sunday jaunt

There's nothing like a 3.30am wake up call to get the blood pumping and the mind racing as to what the day will bring. Ok that's a slight exaggeration - there's nothing like a 3.30am wake up call to wake you up!

Yesterday certainly started early, but with a 5.00am start for the 100km Gold Coast Cycle Challenge at Southbank, we had to allow ourselves plenty of time to be fed, watered and transported to the starting line.

Pity my poor travel companions though - I started at 5 and they started at 6.15, so they had a bit of waiting around to do!

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you'll know that this ride was close to my heart - one of the main recipients was Diabetes Aust (Qld) and I have been fundraising for the ride with my nephew Noah as my inspiration.

As a result of my efforts, and my fabulous friends and family, I succeeded in being one of the top ten fundraisers and was allocated a pole position start. I was chuffed at the time, but even more excited when I discovered that the Green Team would be joined this year by a number of the Brisbane Lions players. Michael Voss, their coach, is married to Donna, who has diabetes and they were there to show their support.

I was very excited to see a number of players who I recognised at the starting line, including Vossy, Jonathan Brown, Simon Black, Jamie Charman, Daniel Merrett, Daniel Rich and I think Jack Redden. There were a couple of other young ones who I recognised but couldn't place a name against.

Anyway...the ride started at 5.20 and I stayed with the 30+ km/hr riders for about 2km before I made a pact with myself to finish, which I wasn't sure I could do if I tried to maintain their pace (I usually sit at about 25km/hr). So I worked at about that pace for the rest of the ride. Starting at the front can be quite daunting - I got passed a lot, as there were two more waves of riders who rode faster than me! Usually I'm the fastest of the slow riders, not the slowest of the fast.

Won't go on too much about the ride, suffice it to say that the new setup on my bike handled like a dream (it was like riding a new bike!) and I was lucky enough to meet a lovely young fellow who pushed me to maintain 30km/hr for a good 20k. When he slotted in behind me for a draught he called out, "this is a great pace mate, mind if I tail you?" think he must have gotten a shock when I called him forward for a draught to find I was a woman!

Had a great 100k - met some lovely characters, finished in 3.45.15 and did not get caught by hubby who started almost an hour after me. In fact if you look at the onboard computers, I think you'll find I beat his time by that much (fingers about a cm apart!) Just jokes Bren - I know you're much faster than that!

At the end I enjoyed the hospitality of the Diabetes Qld crew - a few cool waters, a lovely, invigorating massage and a few words with Simon and Daniel and a photo for posterity. It's a great ice breaker when you walk up, shake their hand and thank them for riding for the cause.

To all of my mates who kicked in their hard earned cash, I thank you for your support - I couldn't have done it without you. And to those of you who live with diabetes everyday, I will continue to put my legs on the line to raise much needed funds so someday we may find a cure.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Pointing my feet in the right direction....

These holidays have been a real treat for me. Usually I would have taken the week off for the ride and the two weeks for school holidays and returned to work, however this year I chose to spoil myself and take an extra two weeks at the end for some "me" time.

This ate away at me for a while. Did I really deserve that much time, was it really necessary?

Work has been a hard slog lately. I have been working on a redesign of our branch. While my job was "safe" in recruitment, a lot of people who I like and respect were put through an emotional roller coaster as their jobs were cut. I took a lot of this to heart, and owned a lot of their grief, anger and resentment. I shouldn't, but that's the person I am.

As a result I wasn't sleeping, I was packing on weight and I'm not ashamed to say that I think I was fairly close to a breakdown just before I went on leave. The one thing I found that got me through was keeping a personal journal where I could be honest and open about my feelings. I found that when I put the words onto the page, I could hold it together and make sure the people at work only ever saw the best of me. It also helped that I was absolutely blessed to meet a wonderful change manager who has been instrumental (even if she doesn't know it) in keeping me sane and stable. I am indebted to her as I knew I could leave the project in her very capable hands and not even think about it while I was on holiday.

Anyway, after thinking it through, hell yes, I deserved the extended break.

In that time I've had an analysis of my bike set up, and today I visited the podiatrist to get my new orthotics organised.

I have two very different feet, so the set up of my orthotics are very different - and to top it off, one of legs is slightly longer, so now I even get a lift in one shoe to even up the length. Once again, this is something that will go a long way toward alleviating my back pain. Two consults and two very similar diagnoses - I just can't imagine what my life will be like when back pain is no longer a significant presence in my life.

And so with one week to go, I am looking forward to a few more little pampering sessions, a long ride and then ease back into the mode that we call work. And I'm not going to feel guilty. I've really enjoyed being here in the mornings to see the kids off to school and being here for them in the afternoons. Future holidays may just have to have a few of these days built in. In fact you can bank on it.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

It's all in the set up

I've been back on the bike a couple of times now since my week long adventure, and am enjoying sharing some ride time with Hayden, as he is in training for the junior triathlon series this year. He and Brendon have recently joined a tri club to improve their techniques and get some regular training in for the events.

As a result, he booked the two of us into a bike analysis session to check our set ups and critique our riding techniques. After a long time of analysing Brendon's set up, my time came round for some assessment.

First, a measure up of the bike, some leveling of the seat and visual assessment of the bike. Result - retilt the seat, removal of a broken spoke and a buckled rear rim. Parts on order to correct over reaching for gears, braking and steering.

Second, readjust my clips to get optimum power and drive. Result - correct placement of clips over pedals and improved work through the pedals.

Third - get on the bike and ride. This is where the big revelation kicked in - my right leg is in dire need of restructure as I "wobble" when I reach the top of my stroke. Result - I have a variety of exercises to strengthen the muscles to realign my knee. Am also perfecting my drive technique. Concentration required!

Finally, and this is my favorite - I got a big tick for my mounts and dismounts - left clip in first then right clip in. Right clip out first and then left clip. So while Bren has some work to fix (yep he failed clip in and out), he also has some work helping me to correct my alignment.

And what did I find out about myself? I am proportioned like a male (in my legs anyway), which means I have better power through my legs for climbs and need to work on that to take full advantage of it. I have unbalanced legs and need to work on strength training for optimum alignment, which will result in less pain in my lower back. But most importantly I learned not to trust everything to a salesman in a bike store. My next set up will be done under the full supervision of an expert who knows his bikes and has years of experience in getting optimum performance out of cyclists. Thanks Cam!

I can't wait...