Progress

Progress. You’ve got to love it! When I was born, titanium dental implants didn’t even exist. When I was in elementary school, CT scans weren’t available. When I was in high school, MRI’s were just starting to be used. And coronary stents weren’t deployed until after I became a physical therapist. Heck, even personal computers and the internet weren’t around until a few decades ago. I had to use a typewriter to write my research thesis in college! Progress. I do love progress.

Progress is defined as forward or onward movement toward a destination. Synonyms include advance, breakthrough, growth, headway, improvement, and journey. I hope that progress defines my year.

I hope to advance toward my goals. Later this year, June to be exact, I hope to ride my bike across America. I even hope to ride at least 100 miles per day (about 40 consecutive centuries). I will be raising funds to help end multiple sclerosis (MS) along the way through Bike the US for MS.

I hope to breakthrough the wind. Headwind has always been my nemesis. I curse it as I ride. Some days the wind can be so strong, it feels like you are standing still. I’ve learned to pedal at a higher cadence (about 90 RPM) and ride in the drops which really do help you cut through the wind easier.

I hope to make headway with many things and show some growth. I happen to be on vacation in San Diego this week. A little spring break with our daughter. I’ve learned here that I have made some headway in terms of fitness improvement and that makes me happy. The leading photo for this blog is of the screen on a treadmill at the Worldmark where we are staying. Anyone looking at it might think it’s a great slow/average run. I think progress! When we were here a year ago, I had trouble maintaining a 4-mile per hour pace. Now that feels like a fast walk. When we were here a year ago, I watched from the cliff top while others discovered what was in the tide pools. This year, I had my own adventure.

I hope that I improve as a cyclist and as a person. And I hope to discover many exciting things yet to be revealed on my journey.

Ride on!

There is nothing Better…

There is nothing better than going for a ride on a beautiful, clear, crisp morning after another week of rain.img_3317

My ride today was wonderful but very slow! Why? It seemed as though every time I came around a bend, turned my head, looked up or looked back, there was something awesome to see. So I had to stop and take photos even though they show only a hint of what you experience out there. Photos can’t give you the feel in the air. Photos never reproduce the phenomenal colors that change from moment to moment. Photos don’t show you how the flowers dance in the breeze. Photos don’t let you smell the fresh air. But photos do their best to capture the moments so you can remember all those other things.

There is nothing better than seeing the mustard and other flowers popping up everywhere to create their magnificent tapestry. Spring is definitely right around the corner and I am beginning to feel the days left to train tick tock away.

There is nothing better than seeing the impressive, elaborate wineries guarding the hillsides awaiting their throngs of visitors. I’m just not sure why I keep riding PAST them.

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Oh well. Ride on! There is nothing better…

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Staying Fit Off-Season

How does one stay fit for cycling in the off-season? OK – in (Napa) California, there is no “off-season.” Most years it doesn’t rain too much, nor does it get too cold. I’ve lived in places where most people don’t go outside, much less cycle, between October and May because there is usually snow on the ground and it’s so cold you have to use a hair dryer to thaw the locks on your car. I’ve ridden in those conditions – mainly because I could, and probably because I thought I could prove something to myself – what that was; I’m not quite sure. Now that I’m much older and hopefully somewhat wiser, I don’t have to prove to myself that I can ride in nasty weather. I still do at times, though, just because I want to, and this year has given me plenty of opportunities. jipt3487

So if I don’t feel like riding in the cold or rain, what do I do/use? And do I cross-train at all? These are the varied ways I stay fit all winter (and year) long.

Running. I never used to like running. At least not as an activity on its own. Sure I ran. I’ve been an athlete for as long as I can remember. My sports mostly involved short sprints, though. Basketball, volleyball, and softball were what I played. Basketball was my favorite except for all the suicide sprints done over the years! Flash forward to three years ago when I started this journey back to me. I thought I should try running. Ha, ha! I could barely make it a quarter of a mile without stopping to walk. Now I run 3.5 to 5 miles every time out, and I have even run 10 and 15 miles to date! My most enjoyable jaunts are those I do with my buds from St. John’s Lutheran on Saturday mornings. We all go at our own pace, and everyone is supportive of each other. And they’ve made running downright fun!

Indoor spinning. I think riding my stationary bike has helped me ride stronger outdoors. I generally do short HIIT (high-intensity interval training) sessions when indoors. I have a trusty old Schwinn that I’ve used for years. It’s comfortable to me. It tracks just the basic things like time, pace, and distance. And it offers good levels of resistance.  Once I get back outside, I notice my cadence is faster, and I’m quicker on the hills.img_3145

Elliptical. I don’t often use this machine, but when I get bored with the exercise bike, it’s nice to be able to change it up a bit. I used it more last year after I injured my knee while running and it was extremely helpful in letting me continue to exercise while not putting undue stress on the joint. img_3151-2

Gym/Therapy Balls. How could I not use these? I ask my patients to exercise with them, so shouldn’t I do the same? You can do some great core strengthening and balance training. Add a 10-20 pound medicine ball, and you’ve got a fantastic workout. img_3271

Body Blade. This is a device created by a physical therapist back in the early 90’s. We had some in the clinic, and I have had one at home ever since. It uses vibration and inertia to produce rapid contractions. For just a few minutes a day, it translates into great toning and core stabilization.img_3272

Edge Suspension Trainer. I have used my suspension trainer extensively. I love doing functional exercises using your body as weight versus non-functional weight machines.  And as you’ve probably noticed by now, I really believe in core stability, and the suspension trainer simultaneously develops that, along with strength, and flexibility.img_3142

Free weights. I still use free weights for basic strengthening.  I use an adjustable system, though. We have a PowerBlock dumbbell set which adjusts from 5 to 45 pounds on each dumbbell. Plenty for me!img_3156

Stairs. There is a stairwell not too far from my office at work, and I have taken to running the stairs every few hours during the day. Not too long ago, I could hardly walk up the three flights (56 steps) without being totally out of breath. Now I routinely run up/down ten times before I quit.img_3214

There you have it. My winter routine. I can’t wait for the days to be longer, the sun to be out and the roads to be dry. That first century of the year is calling my name. Soon. Very soon! Ride on!

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Century Time