I got a shock today when I groaned to my gym guru Dave Dunne, about how quickly I lost my fitness (about 3 weeks) after being ill last month. As I strained to lift weights that wouldn’t have cost me a thought before Christmas, I asked if it was going to take 3 weeks to get my strength back. To my horror, Dave informed me that it would take double that. I asked if I could speed that up by exercising harder and more frequently, and he warned me that I’d only weaken myself, slow my recovery, and end up in a worse state than I am now. Now that all came as a suprise, although I vaguely heard my consultant saying something like that weeks ago… ahem. But I want my fitness back and I want it NOW. I’m prepared to work extra hard to do it, but according to Dave, I have to take it slow and just wait for it to happen. OK, I see some sense in that, but it seems very unfair. Six weeks to pay for 3, and that’s over two months gone out of the year. Grrrr….
Dave did say that I could cross-train. So I’m going to the gym 2/3 times a week, going to hot yoga 2/3 times a week, cycling to work, and tomorrow I start running at Le Cheile in Leixlip. Wish me luck – I’m not sure about the running….
PS…I bought a new bicycle jacket today. It’s hi-vis and it’s PINK…. Growing up with two big brothers, I never admitted this girly side of me before, it’s only emerged since I hit my 40’s… I don’t really need a new jacket, but if I’m honest I put on a few pounds when I was off sick, and my old bike-jacket feels a bit snug when I wear a fleece under it. After 10 mins cycling I’m sweating like a thoroughbred winning the national (I wish) but the first 10 minutes have been painfully cold these dark winter mornings. I think I’d be willing to put up with the nuisance of stopping to layer down, if I got to be nice and snug heading out. That’s the plan anyhow. I also bought a nice, light, silk balaclava, to slip under my cycle-helmet. So now I can prevent ear-chill as I head out to work in the morning – and rob a bank on the way home, to pay for all this new gear and training… 😉
Around this time last year I took my brand new bike on the road and I blogged about how slow I was, how it took an hour and a half to get into work, how I was overtaken by an octogenerian riding a rusty Raleigh, and how I expected to be overtaken by a mum pushing a pram!
Today I felt just like that again. I huffed and I puffed as I slogged into work against the wind – and the rain caught me just before I reached the quays. As my mind drifted, I suddenly realised I was headed for my old radio building near the mouth of the Liffey, and not our new offices near Stephen’s Green. Cursing into my soggy buff, I swung around against the traffic, trying to figure out how I’d just managed to put another 10 minutes on my journey. Later, after finishing work for the weekend, I growled again, when a perfectly dry and bright day disappeared into a snarling storm just as I pushed my trusty steed out into the evening rush-hour.
As I heaved against the uphill homeward haul through the Phoenix Park, I reminded myself that I’ve been here before, and today doesn’t feel quite as bad as yesterday, and Monday won’t feel quite as bad as today. I’ll get there.
The rain eased and so did my mood. I didn’t even curse when my chain jammed as I switched down gears on Castleknock Hill. So nice of the Prince Charming who came to rescue me. The poor chap abandoned his own bike to help me in the fading light, and when he failed to free the pesky mechanism, he left with good advice to bring it to the experts, and try using oil in future! He was right of course, as I looked at my once shiny chain looking sadly back at me – but you know that female thing, where you just can’t give up and you just have to have one more bash… 5 minutes later I’m cycling down the hill at Castleknock with a sneaky, self satisfied grin.
Apart from showing off my technical expertise with a jammed chain and a handy rock, I’ve just remembered another reason why I keep on doing this. In the dark hours this morning, just before the rain got me. I pedalled out of my estate, gazing in disbelief at the frosty brightness of the moon and stars; and as I headed towards the park my arrival was heralded by the dawn chorus. The birdsong swept out of the darkness with it’s cheerful embrace, the first time I’d heard them singing this year.
Early morning commuters may not have noticed it as they drove into town or listened to their iPod on the bus or Dart – but today, February 1st, Spring arrived in Dublin – and I was there…. 🙂
Well it’s a week to go to Uganda, so if I haven’t trained enough by now, I’ve just left it too late. I’m excited, but I’ve got those pre-expedition ponders – when you just can’t help going over the last few months in your mind, and wonder… if only. If only I’d tried hot-yoga, it would have helped me prepare for the heat. If only I’d spent more time on the hills, more time on the bike, more time in the pool. But in fairness, I drafted a training plan several months ago, and I’ve pretty much stuck to my plan. I’ve cycled 15k into work and back, most days – I’ve lifted weights in the gym twice a week, I’ve joined Wild Water Kayak Club and learned the basics of how to paddle, I’ve got my level 2 cert to prove it. I’ve climbed Carrauntoohil twice, and Purple Mountain and Tomies – as well as several training runs up my beloved Spinc in Wicklow.I’ll know very soon if I’ve done enough to tackle the altitude on Mount Elgon, whether I’ve done enough to keep up with the rest of the group as we cycle over 200k through the African bush, and whether I’ll be able to Kayak well enough, when we get to the Nile and Hairy Lemon Island.
This was my very last weekend for training, and it’s been a howler. A day’s climbing in Wicklow yesterday, followed by climbing at Awesome Walls last night – and a day out on the Liffey kayaking today – and all with a film crew shadowing every move in preperation for “Get Off the Couch”, a programme I’m presenting for Athena Media on Setanta next year, which aims to encourage people to get up and get active and get outdoors into our lovely countryside. Thanks to Barry and Paula and Rob and Helen – you were all brilliant this weekend and I’ve learned so much already from you all.
I really don’t know whether I’ve done enough for Uganda on Saturday – I really hope I have, I hope I do Concern proud. But at least after today, I feel a lot more confident about the paddling. I’ve had a real mental block over paddling over weirs into white water and was gutted last weekend when what should have been my last training session didn’t come off the way I wanted it to. I decided to have one last shot and the guys in the club pulled out all the stops for me and got me in the water again this weekend. Last night I kept telling myself I could do it – even though I didn’t really believe it! Today I told myself the same thing, and eventually when the time came, I popped over Wrens, and stayed upright….then did it again… and again. Andy, my WWKC instructor was with another group downstream, and he told me later they all heard me screaming with jubilation and they laughed as he said “ah, Teena’s made it down Wrens!”
I’m so grateful to Wild Water Kayak Club. To Andy, Aidan and Dave – who first showed me the ropes, to Andy again who never gave up on me, and to John Judge and Sean who took me out today. Thank you to adventurer, friend and mentor Pat Falvey, to Wicklow Mountain Rescue buddy Ronan Friel, ATI ‘City Kayak’ chief Donnchadh McCobb, to gym guru David Dunne, to my own fantastic radio station 98FM, to Howth Coast Guard and all our ‘forces’, to the most patient dad in Ireland, to my brother who’s prepared a detailed list of all the spiders I need to avoid in Africa, to the Albany Clinic who gave me millions of injections for a very tiny price and no bruises, to Great Outdoors who always support me and who are on P41 of my book!, to swimming ‘Chanimal’ Fergal Somerville, and to everyone who hiked and climbed and encouraged and motivated me over the past couple of months. So many friends, including my FB & Twitter supporters, I’m so very, very lucky. And thank you to whoever told me to fake-it till you make-it… ‘cos today I faked my way over Wrens until I suddenly made it! If it turns out that I haven’t done enough for Uganda, I guess I know what I have to do.. 😉
Well it’s taken over 2 weeks to get myself back on the bike. I wimped out one morning during that heavy rain we had, and the bike’s been sitting forlorn and mud-caked in the hallway ever since.
I tried to cycle into work on Monday, but couldn’t bring myself to start off the week that way. I tried to cycle into work yesterday, but listened to the voices in my head telling me I was too tired (after a good night’s sleep too!)… Then finally this morning, when the alarm went off at 6am, I grudgingly dragged myself away from my pillow, struggled into my padded lycra shorts suit (this so wasn’t designed for my body) and after finding every reason not to leave the house, I eventually edged my silver dream machine (Les bike) out the hall door.
It was damned cold this morning, and I realised that as I wheeled off down the end of my cul-de-sac, my nose was already weeping, and my ears were cut to shreds with the breeze. I grumbled for the next 5 mins or so, and then I suddenly realised that I was in top gear, flying like the wind, and absolutely loving the freedom of whizzing down the road into the dark morning.
There’s a lesson here. I avoided cycling for 2 whole weeks and convinced myself I hated it. I don’t. I love it. I loved cycling in this morning, I felt really good and strong – and I got into work in 45 minutes flat – without pushing the pace. As it turns out, I hadn’t lost a minute on my time for the 15k cycle. I’m thrilled – and I’m back.
It’s 6 weeks now, to my Concern/Uganda challenge; and the training is stepping up in earnest for myself and my WeightWatchers’ buddy Vera Baker. We’re off to Kerry and Limerick this weekend to climb and hike. Personally, the plan from here on in, is an hour of heavy-lifting in the gym twice a week. Cycling the 30k round trip into work 5 days a week. At least one swim at the weekend, and as much kayaking and climbing as we can fit in, between now and the off-date.
I’ve also started my injections and have Hep A and the first of THREE Rabies shots done. They warned me it would hurt – it didn’t. Hope that continues, and I hope I don’t start howling at the full moon…. wuff wuff folks…
I feel a bit tired just reading that myself, but it wasn’t planned, it all sort of ‘happened’. I hadn’t been on the bike since the Triathlon on Saturday, for all sorts of reasons – most of them connected with laziness, but then I saw on the weather forecast that Thursday was going to be a good day in Dublin, so I decided to roll out the wheels and start cycling into work again. I’m not saying I’m fast (I’m not) but I really felt the benefits of the ‘work cycle’ when I did the 18k in Kilkenny; and cycling into work means I HAVE to time myself and cycle to time. As it happens, I do seem to have knocked a few minutes off – I left the house at 620am and found myself on Pearse Street at 7 – with time for a quick cup of coffee, sitting in the sun, beside the bike, beside the canal… before I went into the office. What a lovely way to start the day.
After work I cycled back home – via the gym. I wasn’t looking forward to that. It’s a time-trial too, because I’m reading the news at 3pm, and have to make the gym by 4pm, which is a bit tight. Whenever I’m late, Dave my trainer, makes me suffer by stepping up the intensity of the session, to make up for the minutes I lost. This time I was on time, but he still creamed me! We did kettleweights and quite a lot of squat-lifts with fairly decent weights. My shoulders feel a bit sore after that today.
By the time I’d finished the gym, there was just enough time left to grill some chicken, dress some salad – wolf it down, and throw on a swim cossie and wetsuit, before belting out the door for the river. I really didn’t feel like kayaking – I had 6 training weeks of being forced to capsize for hours on end, and I just wanted to sit in the boat and be dry for once. It was unlikely to be tonight – I was having my first go at water polo and the boats are a lot more unstable than the learner kayaks I’d been using up to now. They’re tiny and light and overbalance in a heartbeat. Well to my suprise and my club-mates’ amusement – I left the river with dry hair. I was so damned determined not to fall out, that I remembered every trick in the book that they’d taught me the last few weeks. Blocks and brace turns, and balance and leaning forward. The works – there was NO WAY that I was getting wet this time, and I walked away a dry kayaker. lol…
PS. Loved the water polo.
PSS. You know, I started off dreading everything this Thursday and ended up enjoying the lot. Says something, doesn’t it…..?