My love of biking

This is the post where I confess my love for biking. And summer. And doing it with friends {or my husband}.

I’m on my third season of biking and am feeling like this is my strongest season yet. I spent a lot of the winter months working out and hoping that my quads were going to come through for me. I won’t act too confident yet because I only have one 20+ mile day. Every other day is about 10 miles. But, most of the 10 mile days have felt great! 😉 Here’s a little secret, when you’re gearing up {haha} to ride your bike across the state….well, 10 miles doesn’t mean much of anything. Our lightest day will be 49 miles. So…I need some more saddle time it seems!

I am pretty proud of myself for getting a tough ride in before July. It didn’t feel very good the first half, which is a lot of hills. My quads were on fire and I didn’t have the go power that I wanted. When you’re on a really shitty hill, sometimes you have to tell yourself to just keep pedaling. “You can do it. Keep going. Keep pedaling.” And eventually I made it up that ridiculously awful hill. It’s a hill I despise. Being my first time this year, I kind of forgot HOW MUCH I hate that hill. You come from a gravel road, so basically at a dead stop, and then have a ridiculously long climb. As far as the eye can see, it’s still a hill. I’ve been known to screw myself up by looking ahead. It’s so far away that it’s defeating. I made the mistake of doing that today. I was going into an easier gear so I could keep up my speed and I looked up instead of just right in front of me. We were about 25% of the way up the incline and I felt my momentum die. On a steady incline, you don’t want your momentum to die. I had to gear down some more to keep it up and that was when I had to talk myself into pedaling and keeping my eyes on my tire instead of ahead of me. It’s a lot to deal with while trying to get up a difficult hill, physically forcing your eyes not to look up, moving your legs at a steady pace, and breathing. I think there’s a lot of character building that happens on a hill like that. I don’t give up easily. In that moment when the end isn’t in sight, I can see how easy it would be to give up. I made it up that stupid hill. It didn’t feel pretty, but I made it. And I loved it to its fullest on the way back when I was racing down it at 29 mph!

Part of the reason I’ve felt so strong this year is because of some reoccurring pains last year. I had problems with my neck and shoulder area hurting really bad. It was never on the same side and I couldn’t figure out how to position myself to not have it happen. I worked to build up my back and shoulders over the winter and am feeling pretty good so far. Between biking and softball, my quads get a lot of use during the summer. Last year I was constantly pulling them, which made both activities awful and at times really difficult. I spent all summer putting on Biofreeze but was still suffering. This year, I’m using Biofreeze as a preventative for softball but haven’t pulled them during either activity. However, after a double-header last Wednesday, they were still sore on Friday’s ride!

One of my favorite parts about biking is that I get to spend a lot of time with my friends. And sometimes my husband. Now, as a runner he sprints. That pretty much translates to biking also. So he rides a little faster than me and I don’t have any breath to actually talk to him. But I enjoyed his music this afternoon!

I’m not a morning person, but there’s something indescribable about 5 am on the bike trail with friends. A fresh start to a new day. It’s a mix of cool and humid. We pull into the parking lot and mutter hello as all of us wake up. Most mornings someone is struggling with bike gear because we left our houses during the 4 am hour. We get on those bikes and our brains and bodies start to wake up. Some mornings we talk about meaningless things. But most mornings we talk about real things. Things that are too much for text messages. Because being a mom means you send most of your adult conversations via text. Summers on the bike trail feel like our place to reconnect. Life is just as busy, but we make the time for us. We use the “excuse” that we need to train, but I think all of us do it just as much for the social togetherness. And maybe the bikers “high.”

Independent activities for children are hard on mama hearts

Sitting in a loud, echoey pool watching a little in swimming lessons is a mix of relaxation and anxiety. Two very opposite emotions. 

I have one child who is timid and nervous if he can’t touch the bottom. {I kinda don’t blame him.} And another who appears to have little fear. I’m constantly in awe of the different personalities these two possess. 

Teacher swimming lessons feels like a level up in parenting. Trusting someone to care for your child while they are in water that goes over their head. It’s different than the leap I felt leaving them at preschool in the care of strangers surrounded by strange children. At preschool you know they are safe and constantly busy. At swimming, I feel a strong need to be the one to watch my child at all times. No one else is watching him the entire class. 

Seeing 15 young kids in the pool while their faces barely stay above water and they are constantly told to swim across a giant pool. All the anxiety. They make it look so hard. All the huffing and puffing and holding of breath. My anxiety is on full alert during swimming. 

At the same time, my kid spends 75% of the time sitting on steps or holding on to the side of the pool waiting for the next instruction. So it’s kind of relaxing. To sit there and just be in the quiet. Well, unless I have a smaller child to tame. Then it’s the opposite of relaxing because I have to make sure TWO kids don’t drown. 

The relaxation is my reward for the busy that comes next. Swimming that overlaps the start of soccer skills class. Oh, that was an exciting four weeks of busy Saturday mornings! I’m still patting myself on the back for picking overlapping activities instead of swimming at 8:30 am on a Saturday. I’m not built for that

It amazes me that a child can be SO excited for something like soccer and then show up and not do anything. Because he doesn’t want to run. Or because he’s too busy talking to his friends. 

Children activities are such a big dose of humble pie. Things that are second nature to a grown person are not close to being coordinated things for children. I know age 5 is too young to determine what a child is “good” at but it also makes me fast forward and wonder what activities he’ll focus on in the future. And when I’ll know what activities to drop. I don’t want to overextend ourselves and especially not him, but I also want him to have the opportunities to try many things and enjoy what he wants. 

Parenting is such a strange mix of emotions, especially when your children start doing independent activities. I know I’m just hitting the surface of independance, but I’m a mom of a 5- and 3-year-old, so I’m new to these emotions! 

My personal goals: health and fitness

I’ve read a lot of blog posts about health and fitness, so maybe that makes my post a bit cliché. However, I have put a lot of time and effort into myself this year. Primarily my health and fitness, but spending a little bit of time on the fun things like hair, nails, and clothes. 🙂

I used to think doing things for me was going out with friends or shopping. Then I realized there was a whole part I wasn’t focusing on and that was my health. It doesn’t always look like something for you, but it really is. Health and fitness help your confidence and self-esteem. What’s not to love about feeling good about you?! I wrote about my switch to clean eating here. Before the food changes, I had a semi-regular exercise regime. However, with the food changes, I really focused on an exercise routine. All of a sudden I was planning out my meals and workouts.

I’m in an accountability group that really helped me get a routine and new lifestyle in place. Seeing my friends continue to eat healthy gives me new food ideas but also keeps me accountable. Hence the purpose of the group! 🙂

After almost a year of a pretty strict schedule, I’ve learned to let go a little. Letting go means I don’t get up to workout every morning. Some days my workout is a softball game at the end of the night. Some days my workout is a bike ride at 5 am or a Body Pump routine in my living room. And other times it’s a Yoga workout during nap time. I’ve learned that it’s important to put variety into my routine and that rest days are just as important…as long as they don’t last more than one day! While the varied workout times isn’t working well with my morning routine, I’m adapting. And not feeling guilty that I start some days without a workout.

I’m not sure why it took me this long to realize that health and fitness are ways to take care of me. I suppose that the hectic lifestyle of little humans and a full-time job finally took its toll and opened my eyes to the more important things. After all, when your time is limited you are forced to pick your priorities. And I don’t think I have many friends who are willing to hang out at 5 am. Wait, I have a couple of friends who enjoy riding their bikes with me at 5 am! Guess, that’s a double win!

I started 2015 with what I felt like were attainable goals of healthy eating and a focus on strength training. Halfway through the year, I am more than pleased with my accomplishments so far. I’ve never felt more fit and healthy. And that makes me feel even better when I do my hair, nails, or get a new piece of clothing! Here’s to a continued focus the next six months so I can end the year with a checkmark next to Health Eating – less processed, more clean & more hydration and also Exercise and Strength Training.

My new outlet: riding

Riding is my new thing. It’s my chance at some time with friends, a carved out exercise plan, and an opportunity to push myself as an individual. It wasn’t something I ever planned on doing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do it.

I was a year plus into Quinten’s life and I needed something. I was struggling with doing random workout routines at night because they weren’t really fun. I didn’t have the desire to run on the treadmill. I knew I needed something that was consistent and a workout. I jumped in headfirst. I spent a lot of money on something that I wasn’t sure if I would actually like. By taking the steps to buy a bike, I made the commitment that I was going to do it even if I didn’t like it. Not a recommended way of doing things. Spoiler alert: it worked out. 🙂

I was a little nervous before my first ride. It had been 15 years since I’d been on a bike. I may be a little off on that, but I don’t think I’ve really ridden a bike since I was 15. But you know what they say about riding a bike. It all comes back. It took me two or three rides to fully feel comfortable on my new road bike.

I’m a little over a month in and I’m loving it. I love the way I feel after a morning ride. I love the way it’s kicking my body into shape. It’s nice to have friends along to chat with. I don’t have many opportunities for adult conversations with my friends, so it’s good for me. We’re slowly getting the miles in. Riding three-ish times a week and getting about 35 miles a week in. We’ve had some chilly mornings {we canceled our ride on July 2 because it was 48 degrees out!} and some wet and muddy rides. We mostly beat the heat since we ride at 5:30 am, but it was starting to get a little humid before that wet, cold snap hit.


Beautiful sunset | Flooded river | 100 MILES!

I was on a solo morning ride when I hit 100 miles. In between some flooded waters that would later close half of our trail and make the other half a jigsaw puzzle of mud and water. It was a pretty great feeling watching my odometer turn 100! Other than the OCD side of me watching those numbers change to three-digits, it was a sense of accomplishment. I decided to do something before I physically knew what it would involve. Since starting, I’ve been pushing my body to go faster and longer.

We used the long weekend to push ourselves the furthest we’ve gone. My friends have been riding these trails for a few years, but I didn’t know what to expect. I knew where we were going, but didn’t know the trail. The hills were the biggest and longest I’ve had. It wasn’t easy. During all three hills I had to mentally push myself to keep going. I wanted to quit at least a couple of times. It was hard. But I pushed myself and I kept pedaling. I learned a few things about my bike and the way I ride it. Unfortunately, I learned them on the way back, when the hills were much smaller. I hope these changes make the next time a little better! I’ll be honest, I’m not really looking forward to it. I’m a little apprehensive because it wasn’t easy. And who wants to do something again when it’s not easy?! But I’m going to because the whole point is to push myself harder and farther than I’ve gone before. I’m not a quitter and not doing something well the first time is an awful excuse for not trying again. Plus, this long ride pushed my miles to 152 and I love watching those miles climb!


Halfway through an early morning ride


Maximus vs. the pool

Maximus is two weeks into a parent tot swim class. {Cute play on words, huh?} The age range for the class is six months to three years. If it didn’t cost double, I’d put Quinten in it too. But, it does, so he’s going to have to be satisfied with the bath tub. (And he is. He loves the bath tub.)

I wanted to enroll in the class because it was the last time parents could be in the water with the children and I really didn’t think Maximus would be ok with us watching from the side. Since I pushed for the class, I’m the parent taking him. Well, week one was successful but not exactly good. It was only successful because we went to the class. He didn’t like it. He was scared and told me to take him out. About 35 times. I’m not exactly sure how he kept the tears away, but tears were the only thing he didn’t do. He clung to me the entire time and was not into the class at all. He barely talked to the teacher or his friend. Then the next day he asked if we had swimming lessons again. It was almost as if he had liked it. Toddlers are weird, right?

I anticipated week two to be just as trying. I rushed home to pick him up and tried to prepare him on the quick drive to the Y. I didn’t realize that Bryan had also been talking to him about it. My main goal was to convince him not to be scared and to trust that I wasn’t going to drop him in the pool. Otherwise, there is no teaching to him. It’s a little hard to kick or move your arms or blow bubbles if you’re busy clinging to your mom. I felt good about our conversation and hoped for the best while expecting him to be just as nervous. {It amazes me when we have actual conversations that go well. Like he’s a big kid.}

He did amazing! He talked to the teacher right away and helped her sing songs. He crawled along the pool in the zero depth area and tried blowing bubbles! His hair was wet before we even got into the big pool. We can barely wash his hair in the bath tub. He didn’t walk down the steps into the pool and he was a little nervous when we got in, but he sang the songs and splashed along to them. He was a completely different kid! He even worked on his back float and kicked too. Last week it took me 10 minutes to turn him around and then he was still holding on to my neck. He used a kickboard and had a lot of fun floating around the pool kicking his legs. He even practiced getting in and out of the pool. I had ahold of him, but once he bent his knees and jumped into the pool! Last week, I got him to get out once and then he wouldn’t get back in and I couldn’t get him to come within two feet of the pool!

I’m so proud of him! He got nervous once or twice but didn’t ask me to take him out. He talked to the teacher without me being the translator or urging him to answer. At the end of the class the teacher told him he did such a good job and he got really shy and turned away. It’s so neat to see him in a new situation like this. He’s been at the same daycare since he was a baby, so he doesn’t have a lot of experience meeting new adults who are also authority figures. I’m excited to see how much he grows over the next month. Last week, my only goal was to have him not freak out every time we got in deep water. Now, I’m thinking he might actually learn some things!

Some of the funny things he said about swimming lessons:

  • “Mommy, are you going to wear your really tiny shirt? Why don’t I have a really tiny shirt?” My swimming suit.
  • “Why did I listen to the teacher?”
  • “Why did I do a good job?”
  • “I’m going to get in and go under the water and swim.” To which I replied, “No you aren’t. You only get in the big pool with mommy or daddy. You don’t go under water.”
  • “I’M SWIMMING!” He was crawling in the zero depth, but that’s ok!

Finding my running groove…again.

I’m not entirely sure how it happened or what pushed me to do it, but all of a sudden I started running again. And it feels really good! My body is by no means in shape, it’s been weeks since I last played softball and that wasn’t exactly putting me in shape. The thing that got me excited about running was starting where I left off on my Couch 2 5K app. Well, that was week five of the program. I seriously gave up five weeks into an eight week program! If I’m going to give excuses, it was because my left hip was hurting me a lot. It hurt when I ran and it hurt for days after. So, I took four months off. I TOOK FOUR MONTHS OFF. Don’t worry, I wasn’t lacking things to do. I was getting up every night to feed Quinten. Well, I guess I was falling on the couch exhausted every night. So, pushing my body through the pain wasn’t something I considered. 🙂

Week five of the program was a little intense. It was definitely 0 activity to running a total of 15 minutes. Of course I didn’t stretch before I did it. I was too excited that Bryan was letting me take a running break while the boys were still awake. I tried to stretch after I ran, but then Bryan used the treadmill so I was back on mommy-duty. I thought I’d definitely be a mess the next day but I surprised myself. My back was a little sore getting out of bed, but I felt good all day! Of course I thought that meant I would have the two-day stiffness. Please tell me everyone else experiences this also. The next day you’re fine, but two days after you’re a hot mess. Like they say, aging is not graceful! And feeling fine the next day is an evil trick on you. You assume that you’re still young and agile. Then, BAM!

I wasn’t sure how it would work out, but I decided to run again two days after that first run. I was traveling and my knees were aching from the cramped plane rides so I figured the run would help. Thankfully it did and it helped me sleep great that first night! My legs felt tight during my run but about five minutes in I felt really good. We don’t have a mirror in front of our treadmill at home so it was interesting to watch myself run. I think I picked up on some good things and I could tell the difference in my stride when I was feeling great. While I was running, I was reminded about a time five years ago when I was a consistent runner. I used to go to the Y every day after work and run on the treadmill. Those first few minutes were always brutal, but once I got warmed up it felt so good. Maybe that’s what makes people run races. I’m not sure I have that in me, but I’m enjoying this new motivation!

Last night my program had me running for 20 minutes with a five minute warm up and cool down. I was a little nervous when I saw the details, but I gave it a shot and was amazed at myself! I’m running a few notches below my desired speed, but I’m very impressed with my lungs and legs for getting me through it! The next day, I’m feeling pretty good. I’m a little sore in a few spots on my back and my caves have some tight spots but nothing is screaming that I’m out of shape.

At this point, I’m trying to decide if I should give my body a little more break between runs or if the tightness is ok. The last thing I want is to injure myself right when I’m getting back into the groove. The only question left is, was this a one week kick of motivation or will I actually keep up with it?! I might need some cheerleaders on this one!