30 Day Challenge – Day 8: What I’ve Learned So Far

Yoga: check. Biking: check (but only one trip. I’m slacking!)

It was a nice day for biking, with cloudy skies and a bit of a breeze. I felt a little unsteady on the bike on my way to class, perhaps because all I’d eaten was an apple, and perhaps because I was wearing sandals. I vaguely remember being told not to bike in open toe shoes because you could rip a toenail off (ewwwww, gross), but more to the point, it’s hard to stay confident on the bike if your feet aren’t secure in your shoes. I ran out of steam about half way into hot yoga today, spent a couple of poses playing corpse. Afterwards, I treated myself to a chai tea misto and a scone. Sometimes staying in the room is enough for the day.

There’s the initial excitement for a challenge, but that fades and then there’s the daily slog. Writing a book follows a similar pattern (with a few exceptions that are sheer bliss writing projects, joy from beginning to end). You just keep going, words on the page, minutes on the mat, butt on the bike seat. Initial enthusiasm isn’t enough to get you through. I don’t even think there’s a digging deep moment, where you find some reserve of energy. You just don’t quit, and find a moment-by-moment discovery of energy, surprisingly lacking in swelling violin music or a great catchphrase like winning one for the Gipper. You stay in the room.

Lesson learned: an apple isn’t sufficient sustenance to power one through 90 minutes in a hot yoga room;  wear shoes, not sandals; and stay in the room.

 

30 Day Challenge: Day 7 (Week 1 By The Numbers)

Yoga: Check. Biking: Check. I biked the boy to school today, but that was the extent of my two-wheeled excursions.

# of yoga classes taken: 7 (5 bikram, 1 yin, 1 flow)

Total hours in yoga: 8.5

Total hours in yoga the previous week: 1.5

Total hours on Persie: 6 (approximate)

Total hours on any bike the previous week: 0

# of falls off Persie: 1, bruising right shoulder, left calf, and my pride

# of pounds lost: 0

I started this challenge thinking if I add, you know, a dozen hours of exercise to my schedule, I’d lose a little weight. I haven’t. I’ve gained something more important: I kind of feel like a badass. I fell off my bike, into the TRASH, no less. Make that a total badass. Week two starts tomorrow. Bring it, baby.

Did you take on a challenge that made you feel more confident? I’d love to hear about it!

30 Day Challenge, Day 6: In Which Anne Wipes Out

You know how you get on your bike to take your kid to school and ride down the driveway and turn onto the sidewalk, but your husband has put the garbage out so the cans are in the way and you swerve, lose control, and ride straight into the cans and knock them over, then fall over into the spilled bags of kitchen garbage and dog crap collected from the back yard?

Yeah. Gonna be one of those days.

Ouch

Ouch

 

I haven’t even looked at my leg, where I feel a spectacular bruise forming.

Persie is fine. Mr. C asked about her, too. Good man. My shoulder hurts like a mother, though. Yin yoga today. And maybe some cookies until my hands stop shaking.

Keep me company, folks. Got any good wipeout stories?

ETA: the bruise that formed on my calf:

Other ouch.

Other ouch.

30 Day Challenge: Day 5 – Accessories (part the first)

Yoga: check. Biking: check (school and back, where I learned I can no longer tell the boy I love him in front of any other human being; yoga and back; school to the coffee shop and home again). Now on to the fun stuff: accessories!

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a woman with a new hobby must be in want of new gear. Or something to that effect. One of the things Caz Nicklin’s book did was open my eyes to delightful, updated bike accessories. We don’t have to ride around in spandex (or the most up to date sweat-wicking fabric), hunched over speed bikes, toting things in messenger bags or backpacks. When I bought Persie, I also bought a saddlebag and a basket. Turns out, spending that extra $100 took the bike from a pretty toy to a useful mode of transportation.

Basket!

Basket!

This isn’t the most stylish basket Electra sells, but it’s weatherproof and easily snaps off and on. In the picture it holds the leather jacket I wore to take the boy to school, which was too hot for the ride home. For a quick ride I line it with a felted bag I knitted five years ago and never used until now, toss in my phone, a book, and keys. The handle means it doubles as a shopping basket, so I can bring home French bread or groceries like a Parisienne, yo. I’ve got my eye on a liner. Design matters.

In other news, my legs have stopped screaming in pain every time I so much as twitch, so maybe my body is over the shock? Yesterday I drove for the first time in three days, and it was a bit strange to not pedal up the hill out of my subdivision. I felt disconnected from the world around me, something I’m sure I’ll appreciate when it’s 40 degrees and raining, but it was still worth noticing. I read somewhere that our brains are meant to process the world at a walking pace; Persie can move faster than that, but really, she and I are happiest trundling along, seeing the moon rise. This morning on the way to school the boy and I saw an American Goldfinch taking a bath in the sprinkler run-off, something I would have missed from inside my behemoth of a car. Colorful birds seen from colorful bikes makes for a good start to the morning.

Tomorrow: the saddlebag!

30 Day Challenge – Day 4

Yoga: check. Biking: check. School and back, coffee shop and back, yoga and back, school and back.

My hamstrings are no longer speaking to me, and I had to ice my knee yesterday. The yoga class today was basically a yin class in a heated room, so we held the poses for a couple of minutes, and they were all good and stretchy for tight muscles and ligaments. This morning I woke up still physically tired from more exercise in a short period of time than I’ve had in…I can’t remember how long. Somehow 45 minutes of the elliptical 4 days a week and one hot yoga class a week doesn’t match up to what probably amounts to over an hour of biking and at least an hour of yoga a day. I’m not sure why. Different muscles? Hills? I’m old and crunchy?

On the plus side, however, I’m significantly calmer. Again, I’m not sure why, if it’s the intense yoga practice, more exercise in general which quiets the hamster wheel of my brain, or if I’m just flat out too tired to get anxious. I’m riding along heavily traveled streets in which traffic moves at 45 MPH, at least, so listening to music while I ride is out of the question; maybe I’m just more alert in general. Less zoned out and in my head. I’m spending less time online because two+ hours on the bike and in yoga is two+ hours I’m not in front of my computer. A dear friend got a cancer diagnosis earlier in the week, which got me thinking about priorities, always a good thing to examine every so often.

Whatever the cause, and it’s probably a combination of all these things, the first four days of this challenge have surprised me. I expected the yoga to ease some common computer/desk job aches and pains. I didn’t expect to notice the sky over my subdivision, or the supermoon. Right now I’m about to head out to the local astronomy club’s monthly gathering. The moon is just past full, Pleiades meteor shower peaks tonight, and the skies are finally clear. I started the morning biking under the stars, and I’ll end it star-gazing. The in between was pretty good, too. Let’s hope my hamstrings are happier tomorrow.

30 Day Challenge – Day 3 “What Was I Thinking?”

Yoga: check. Biking: triple check (coffee shop and back, yoga studio and back, school and back).

In the last seventy-two hours I’ve taken four hours of hot yoga when I normally take maybe one class a week. I’m sore. Really sore. On the plus side, the tendinitis in my left arm is gone, and my right hand is significantly better. I can’t say the same for my hamstrings. Mr C managed to knee me in the back of the leg last night. I know this only because rather than saying “ouch” I howled with pain. The yoga instructors assure me the “tenderness” will subside, and I’ll start feeling “better and better”. I’ll take their word for it, and perhaps add a few minutes with a heating pad to my reading tonight.

I biked to the coffee shop this morning with the pale white super moon setting in the west. One of our vacations this summer was to a “star party”, which is basically a gathering of telescope/astronomy-loving mostly dudes taking advantage of summer weather and dark skies to set up together and do some epic star-gazing. We had a blast. Seeing the moon this morning reminded me to get out the binoculars and take a closer look tonight. I hope you have a few minutes to do the same!

Thirty Day Challenge – Day Two

Yoga: check. Biking: check.

The days are getting shorter. I biked to class this morning on silent streets in cloudy pre-dawn lit most vividly by a rabbit’s white tail flashing down into the trees and brush crowded at the bottom of the ravine. I mentally added a headlight and maybe a reflective jacket to my growing list of necessary accessories.

I can’t remember the last time I took hot yoga class two days in a row. I’m sore, and my left knee already feels a bit strained; unless I ‘m completely inactive, that knee always finds a way to remind me that I’m not twenty. Bikram says you can mess with the gods, but not with your knees. In class I ignored the teacher’s exhortations to push PUSH PUSH! beyond my edge. Today I looked through the sweat running into my eyes at the edge from a careful distance back.

I’ve started watching the weather like a farmer, or a sailor, but after hot yoga, a steady rain can’t soak me any more thoroughly. The fenders keep the muddy street water from spattering my back, and the rain rinsed me clean. I squelched through the door to fresh scratch waffles, and the rather delightful knowledge I don’t have to go anywhere else today under my own power. Naomi Novik’s Blood of Tyrants will provide enough energy and excitement for a rainy Sunday afternoon.

30 Day Challenge – Day One

Recently several things crashed together in my head: conversations with friends about good fortune and living without fear, Cindy Ratzlaff‘s comment at RWA that you don’t have to be twenty-one to have your whole life ahead of you, my son turning ten a few days ago. We spent the boy’s birthday in Denver, where the cycling culture is very alive and well. While I was at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science I picked up The Girls’ Bicycle Handbook by Caz Nicklin. Like most kids, I spent quite a bit of time as a child on a bike, but in the last thirty years, riding a bike had become a “sport”, not a basic mode of transportation, or something I did for fun. I had a mountain bike hybrid I rode only when pressed, because the forward lean put too much pressure on my wrists and elbows, aggravating joints I wanted to keep healthy for writing. But something about the book (probably the cool fashion and the retro cruiser bikes) got me thinking. If I have the rest of my life ahead of me, I want to spend more of it on a bike.

Meet Persie.

Classically stylish...

Classically stylish…

 

She’s an Electra Townie 21d (because despite Nebraska’s reputation as a pancake-flat-flyover-state, Omaha is really rather hilly so I need all twenty-one gears). I named her for her color – persimmon – and for my son’s favorite character, Percy Jackson from Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series. She was a big splurge, even before I added fenders, rear rack, basket, and saddlebag – but I absolutely adore riding her. I’ve been reading blogs written by women cyclists around the world. They cycle to work, to the grocery store, everywhere, and while most of them live in larger cities where driving a car is a bigger pain in the fanny than riding a bike, they make it look cool. Like, really cool. Like, bike in skirts and tweed and funky helmets and boots, and add saddlebags and baskets for loaves of French bread.

Biking. Come for the exercise, stay for the accessories. I can get behind this sport.

This morning, as I hauled myself to yoga to work out the kinks from twenty hours of driving on vacation, and a desk job that’s given me rather severe tendinitis, the yoga studio owner suggested a hot yoga challenge. In the past that’s meant taking a hot yoga (it’s Bikram-ish) class every day for a set period of time. Thirty days…sixty days…ninety days. As I sweated through the class – which I’d ridden to on Persie – both ideas came together in my mind.

For the next 32 days (because my birthday is in 32 days) I’m going to take a yoga class every day, and bike everywhere I can. I live in what I lovingly call suburban strip mall hell, but the good news about that is that the things I do most frequently: take my son to school, go to the grocery store, go to a coffee shop, go to yoga, are all within an easy ten minute bike ride. Today I put my mat, towel, and water bottle in Persie’s saddlebag and biked to the yoga class. And home again. Let me tell you, I’m quite a sight after ninety minutes of yoga done in a room heated to 105 degrees and 50% humidity, but I pedaled home feeling extra virtuous and the shower felt extra good.

That’s the challenge. Thirty-two days of yoga, and thirty-two days of riding my bike where I can. I’ve decided to blog about it because I need the accountability. Hold me to this, dear readers. Expect a post a day, pictures, observations, things I see that are cool, car/driver behavior that is cool…or decidedly not cool (I’m looking at you, whoever was driving the Lexus hybrid SUV that wouldn’t wait literally three seconds for me to turn left into a parking lot and therefore honked at a middle-aged woman on a bike).

What about you? Have you been mulling over a challenge, to read more, get more sleep, eat fewer carbs? I’d love some company, so if you want to jump in and set an arbitrary timeframe for a particular task or goal, please do! As Cindy said, we’ve all got the rest of our lives ahead of us…time to start living!