Chicago Week 1

I’m sitting on a grassy hill just north of the Adler Planetarium reflecting on my first week here in Chicago. I’m in a beautiful shady spot – in front and to my left, the skyline; to my right, the lake, chock a block full of boats on a sunny Sunday.

I’m discovering more and more how ideal my location is: within a block of the blue, red, and pink line train and a stone’s throw from the park district, lake, and museum campus. I feel really lucky. I’ve been mostly trying to get my house set up, and figure out what kind of a neighbourhood I live in. So far, I really like it. It is very urban, but nestled in a reasonably quiet spot. Because it is in the loop, evenings and weekends are especially quiet – which is just fine by me. There are a few tree-lined streets and a pocket park less than a block from my place. The famous Jazz showcase is a short walk away, as is the museum campus, the Art Institute, the symphony and ballet. I’ve heard they all have good deals for students – and I’m going to milk my status for everything it’s worth.

My apartment faces east, so I have wonderful morning light. I look over a green roof and out towards the lake. There are a few gaps in the lakefront buildings that yield a view of the lake. I love watching the sailboats in the afternoons and early evenings – it’s just spectacular. (Also makes me think of one ML, which I love). The apartment feels just the right size for me – big enough not to be claustrophobic, and small enough to keep tidy and organized. My landlords, Jenna and “Ben” (heh) have been the most welcoming. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them a bit better.

I now have a bed, am connected to the WWW’s (heh) and have a local phone number (- two, actually, because I have a land line. It was cheaper to get my internet if I also got a phone… Figure me that one…). I know where to buy groceries, where to get a great cup of joe, and I’ve found a group to ride with. This morning I was back in the saddle for a 70 km Sunday ride – we barely made it out of the city, but it was really nice to be riding. I’m looking forward to exploring the city on two wheels.

I am feeling pretty at home here. I’m surprised at how few times I’ve felt really lonely – I’ve had my moments, but I am trying to reflect on how nice it is to be able to take in the city at my own pace, and to be able to come home to just me myself and I. I’m feeling grateful to have the time to get settled, oriented, and organized before my classes start. AND… I’m also glad to have forked out for the phone plan that includes texting and calling to Canada.

I’ll try to keep updated here with things I do. I’ve decided to try and get back in the habit of taking photos just a little bit… no promises, but I’ll see what I can do.

Week #17 & 18

Double header gratitude today. It’s been a busy and exciting few weeks… lots of mayhem and madness, sadness, and happiness doesn’t rhyme here but it’s been around quite a bit too. There are many things to be grateful for…in no particular order:

1. A relative absence of spleen-fear, despite a good deal of difficult spleen exercise
2. July 22 being very soon: Horatio, your days are numbered.
3. Beautiful peonies
4. An injury free race! A cheering squad! Sweaty hugs! A BBQ!…And a better than goal time! *more on that soon…
5. Friends who know how to use double sided tape to my advantage
6. ice cream sandwich walks with MNL
7. sharing in the beautiful wedding celebration of D & K
8. catching up with a very old, dear friend (SN)
9. Time with MKE
10. That a wonderful family of two is going to welcome a highly anticipated third member

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11. Being able to get the stench out of the favourite purse I almost ruined with a rotten plum
12. The looks of knowing I share with EV
13. Faith & optimism
14. An impromptu dinner invitation from AR & KS
15. Being able to bask in the accomplishment of my big race… with very little post-race blues
16. Hot days, cool nights
17. A smooth transition out of work
18. My mum, for all the things, especially lately
19. A most genuine and well-timed hug from NL
20. Dancing ‘real hard :p

Week #16

Hard weeks like this one make practicing gratitude really challenging. …But they are the weeks it’s most important to do so. Here I go:Image

  1. The way lipstick brightens a day
  2. Being more okay with uncertainty than I (think maybe) I have ever been in my life
  3. In no particular order: EAM, JPM, EV, MKE, SM, SM ….and SM, AS, MG, DM, ESD, DM, NA and MNL
  4. Warm loving hugs
  5. Cat cuddles
  6. Swimming in a beautiful lake
  7. Beautiful & delicious dessert
  8. Honest conversations
  9. Scrabble

Hubbles Lake Triathlon

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I did my first open water race & first Olympic distance race (1500m swim; 40 km bike; 9.4 km run) at Hubbles Lake this past Sunday. I’m happy with my overall time of 2:43:12… very happy with my swim time of 28.48, and tickled to have placed 2nd (out of 6) in my age category.

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The bike felt pretty great – and the banana and fruit bar I chose to eat went down pretty easily during the ride. Ride time was 1:22:50, with an average pace of 24.3 km/h. I feel like I could have pushed this a bit harder, but with GWN coming up I didn’t want to totally kill myself. My 2nd transition was a bit wobbly because I didn’t visualize the run exit ahead of time (so panicked about where to run to), and my feet were numb for the first 3km of the run or so. Even still, my average run pace was 5:10/km, for a total run time of 51:35. Not too shabby, and really fun. Something I’m trying to remember and be thankful for on a very sad day.

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Week #15

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  1. A Boudoir brunch reunion
  2. Cuddles from Mary
  3. Sibz reunion
  4. Good weather for Wednesday 15km sprint intervals
  5. MKE (*swoon)
  6. Cake problems solved
  7. Bike riding with GME
  8. MNL in my corner, sometimes with coach hat and ice cream
  9. A great first open water swim: no asthma, no backstroke, no panic!
  10. Beautiful race day weather, and my body for holding up its end of the deal

Week #14

I’m bringing back some soul exercise. Here’s to week #14. May you, too, connect the joy and grace in your weeks. (See me here below? Throwing back to that trip to hawaii? Wearing a connections shirt? See what I did there?….) (Heh).

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  1. Being (almost) finished with the plague (*knock wood)
  2. A cleaning coffee date and the sympathetic joy of KHack’s move to Italy
  3. A swim with DA
  4. Tucking my sweet pea into bed
  5. Getting to know EJ a little bit better
  6. Long warm ML hugs and bbq chicken
  7. Father-daughter walks with MysterE
  8. Levity and faith
  9. Getting to know Ted with EAM
  10. The hope that a good day can bring

Last night was my first outdoor ride of the season. ML and I rode with the Cyclelogic group… it felt great to be outside, on my newly tuned bike. A slightly different fit, and different weight distribution with the aero bars on it now. I was a bit wobbly. I guess I might have been wobbly for a first ride out even without the aero bars on, but I’ll blame it on a technical adaptation and save my ego ;)

It felt like summer last night – there was hardly any wind and it was bright and sunny. We rode out to near Beaumont (I think – it’s easy to pay zero attention to where you are when you aren’t leading) and did a (sort of) catch-up drill with some smaller echelon groups. We came back into the city on the sherwood park freeway/82 Avenue (so the ride was a big square). Total distance was just shy of 50 km, and for a first ride the pace was okay. I felt my winter spinning paying off.

Riding with a group that size was a bit of measured chaos, but very exciting. I had a Type A attack only twice right towards the end of the ride (I might have been hungry by then) – we were coming back into town and there were zero lines being kept, and we dropped a few riders several times. On those two occasions, I did feel like bossing everyone around (this would have been an fruitless exercise :p). An exercise in surrender… good practice for life. An accidental critical mass event took place as ~30 or so riders took an entire lane down Calgary Trail  on the way out – which more than made up for any minor frustration.

I’m trying out a loaner saddle – last night was the first ride on it. It was not awesome.  My body is not 100% happy about it. (And so…) The hunt for a perfect fit continues…. (Anyone with an opinion on ladies saddles: join the conversation?)

I was feeling a bit sad this morning. I’m really not sure why. A case of the Wednesday blues, perhaps? Things were very busy at work the last two weeks, and now they are slightly less busy – I’m playing catch-up on some mostly administrative things. This is slightly less exciting and probably the source of my blues. I’m also tired: I think these next few weeks are going to be hard for me as I adjust to a new training schedule that includes early mornings.

Today was a run day. I did a quick run from home to the Kindsmen for physio – I had plans to run home again but was emphatically encouraged to walk instead. For once I took the advice. Good news re: the ankle. It’s improved somewhat from last week, and I think I’m on the same page as physio about a strategy moving forward. Also, it looks like I don’t have a stress fracture – an even better place to be.

Tonight is for muffin making – 3 varieties, in preparation for Saturday’s 3rd annual PFP. ….I don’t actually believe how quickly porridge snuck up on me: How is it already May?

Sunday Runday & The Reintroduction of O-dark-hundred

I’m happy to report a slow craw out of the rage (I’ll roar here and there for good measure). On Sunday I ran the EPS half marathon – a beautiful course through the river valley. Signed up with AMT (who ran despite the plague), and was glad to see DM, MD (haha). Am especially proud of KR who was running her first ever half :)

I’ve been having ankle issues, so I didn’t keep a time in mind, and I didn’t wear a watch. I settled on running the course at a pace that felt comfortable – and still finished in 1h58min and change (about the same pace as my first half). Considering my desperate pit-stop detour at km 15 (there were no toilets on the course), I’m pretty pleased with that time. I did consider peeing my pants to save time, but it was cold enough I thought that was probably a bad idea…..

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My ankle felt pretty good until ~18 km in… I’m realizing ice and tape are going to be my friends for the next two months. Bleh. Monday felt good – surprisingly good. I thought I’d try a shake-out swim, but my goggles seem to have grown legs and walked off, which was just enough to keep me out of the water. This morning was my first attempt at the 6-7 AM pre-work swim: Thank god I have friends willing to do these early mornings with me or it absolutely would not happen. (It’s 10:15 AM and I’m about ready for a nap). I was pleasantly surprised to discover how nice it was to swim early in the morning. Maybe my body alignment is better after a night of sleeping, because I felt way more streamlined and coordinated than usual. I also got to work on time (there is a first for everything :p)…I’m going to try riding with the group tonight. I feel optimistic about the new schedule after this morning.. (woo hoo)… legs-o-steel. …Now to get my nutrition under better control.

On a semi-related note, I’ve been thinking a lot about balance lately. Profound balance: Value balance. … Putting as many hours in as I have means sacrificing other things that are important to me, especially my relationships and creative pursuits. Although I think it’s normal to hit training ‘walls’, training for a long-course event like this has thrown me off-balance a little bit. As healthy and fantastic as athletic goals are, and as fun as racing is….this one is taking its toll. More often than I’d like, lately, I find myself feeling a little bit jealous of those in my life who are currently doing X, Y or Z (things I’d like to be doing).  Preparing for this race means less energy and time for other things I value. Those values, man. I miss out on living one out and I start to feel like garbage. As they say, too much of a good thing (…) I have value-investment FOMO and it’s cramping my smile.

Today I’m thankful for this reminder of how critically important it is for my health and happiness to balance time and effort between those things I value most.

The Wall

 

Somewhere along the way, I decided it was a great idea to do a half-ironman. It’s coming up…. Soon (ish). July 6. Faster than I’d like. I’m at the stage of training where I am sick and tired of training (In other words, this is harder on my brain right now than my body). I have spent the last few days raging about training and eating carbs like it’s my job. I believe a direct quote to one ML today was, “I hate everything; I want to get wasted and break shit.” (Crabby lady). I wish I could say that a half-ironman required carb loading 10 weeks in advance, but sadly, this is not so. On Thursday, I went for a swim and felt just as crabby after the workout as I had before I got in the water – a bad sign.

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So… in an attempt to remind myself that this is *about* something (the something I’ve currently lost), I’m going to start logging some workouts here. It might be ‘real boring to read, but I think it’ll help me get back on track. …And if you’re feeling inspired to make a fancy sign, I’d love you to come out with a milkshake and watch me self-flagellate for approximately 6 hours on race day!

It’s snowing (mega) in Edmonton and we’re about to be engulfed by the darkness, also.  (Lies: we HAVE been engulfed by the darkness in the time it’s taken me to log in to WordPress). I’ve been noticing something about myself and *the darkness* recently. The long dark evenings are sort of cocooning. Cozy and pleasant. ….Nothing wrong with them. What is wrong is when the sun goes down. ..The sun starts to set and I’m all “NONONO COME BACK I’M NOT READY YET DON’T LEAVE ME” …. and enter a moody hour or two in which all focus evades me and all I can do is think about how terrible it is that it’s getting dark so soon and how everything good that is currently happening will end and I will be alone and all that I’ll get to do until I go to sleep is mourn the loss of another day.

…That space between my ears is tragically melodramatic, right?

Anyway. During JPB’s visit from the UK over the summer, remarks were made about how exhausting the frenzied Canadian way was. After further discussion, we decided said way had something (everything?) to do with the impending (long, cold, dark) winter. As though somehow everything needed to get finished before winter killed everything (literally and figuratively). I think this also applies to the short days. For me, anyway, I can’t speak for anyone else (though I’d wager I wasn’t alone). It gets to be 5 PM and I figure it’s time to head to bed.

Today I’ve been reading about relationships with surrender. (Actually, I’ve been reading many things, but this one is most interesting, perhaps, right now). Especially, the idea of surrender as a way of being and a way of relating to events and the world. In particular, I’m thinking about how it might not be a bad idea to surrender to the early nights and make them someplace less isolating. I might spend a few fewer hours in a moody zone of listless non-productivity if the night was something to look forward to. Tonight, this exercise looks like cheesy Christmas music, tea-lights beside my reading, and unnecessarily cheesy grilled cheese.

May you, too, feel contained by the dark and not shut out by it.