Monday, October 27, 2008


I may have accidentally ridden 100km this morning.

Julia and I never ended up riding yesterday, with the general consensus being that the Southerly was too strong. So I was feeling obliged to turn up for Dee's 8.30a.m. ride today. I still wasn't certain of my knee and I was feeling nervous about her txt, which said that the ride would be fast. I wasn't sure I was going to be riding fast anywhere!

My trepidation only grew when Dee said we'd be riding the Blue Mountains. I really wasn't sure my knee was up to it! Two things swayed me - I'd missed this ride when the Gearshifters did it during the Grape Ride training, and Dee's reassurance that if I got to the hill and didn't feel good I could turn around and ride back.

So there I was - riding with the fastest of the fast Gearshifters members, with a dicky knee and feeling completely unprepared to crank out 100km. And you know what? I totally rocked it today!

I think we rode into a headwind the whole way, but nevertheless we held about 30kmph all the way out to the Blue Mountains, riding in a tight pack and sharing the lead. Of course, by the time we got to the base of the hill there was no way I was turning around. Besides, I wasn't even sure I could find my way!

In the end the hill was a bit of an anticlimax. Sure, it was longish, but compared to riding up to the turbine, well, it was a speed bump. I got some encouraging "looking good" calls from another couple of riders half way up, overtook a woman on a hybrid, and caught up with the others by the top. They'd left slightly ahead of me as I messed around with my tail light, which was hitting my spokes.

From there we cruised gently down into Whiteman's Valley. The sun was out and if it weren't for the headwind it would have been perfect. Other than the odd horse rider cyclists ruled the road. When I wasn't keeping my eye on the road I was appreciating the rural scenary and contemplating moving to the outer reaches of Upper Hutt for the good life.

We stopped at the dairy at Te Marua for supplies and to chat with a few other cyclists and then it was back down SH2. It was at this point that my cycle computer started to whisper sweet nothings to me. All the way back to Lower Hutt I was sitting over 35kmph. 38kmph? What was up with that?! All this into the headwind ...

Even once we got back to Lower Hutt and left the highway I was still maintaining around 32kmph, and I kept that up (and up to 35kmph) all the way back down the expressway to Aotea Quay (with no one to pull me). I did get dropped as we neared Lower Hutt, but the lead pack stayed within eyesight. I was happy with the pace I was holding so didn't push to try to catch them. A couple of guys hung back with me so I wasn't alone.

I think I died a little bit after we left the expressway and cycled down Old Hutt Rd. I should have eaten a bit more at that point I think. I picked up again on Thorndon Quay, but I didn't have a lot of kick left in me.

All up, however, I really did totally rock today. Since starting the Taupo training I've picked up several kilometres an hour in speed and I might have to start listening to Dee and co when they tell me I underestimate myself.

I'm a bit nervous about how good my knee feels so I've popped some anti-inflamatories and I'm icing it. I have very little planned for today now other than blobbing in the sun. Somehow I think I've done enough. Accidentally riding 100km on Labour Day is way too much labour ...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I behaved myself

I think I should be proud of myself today. I went out for a ride with the Gearshifters as planned this morning. We were going to ride up through the Hutt then into the Haywards and up Moonshine Rd. Well, I was going to ride up Moonshine Rd if my knee felt ok.

By the time we were riding along Old Hutt Rd on our way out to Petone my knee was gently letting me know that I wasn't going to be climbing any hills today. It felt fine when I was cruising along, but started to hurt if I pushed it.

I let Dee know was was going on, then at Seaview everyone else hung a left and I rolled straight through the roundabout. Liz ended up coming with me, her knee also hurting. I suggested we ride to the end of the road at Eastbourne then turn back to Freyberg again.

Of course as soon as we were on our own, by the "Welcome to Eastbourne" sign, I got a flat. Off with the back tire, and with a bit of effort I managed to get the thing off the rim and pull out the tube. Thankfully it was easy to tell what had caused the flat - a thin little bit of something that looked like fuse wire but was considerably stronger and sharper. It left a nice hole in my new tire.

So far so good. I blew up the new tube a little and got it onto the rim. However it was almost impossible to get the tire back on again. These new tires are tight! A passing Dutch man helpfully got the tire back on, but as we were about to get the CO2 out we realised the tube was pinching. So we took the tire back off again and were struggling to get the tube to sit right.

Which is about when Nic from the Vorbette forums (and the Capitelles) rode past and rescued me. Boy did I ever feel like a total girly nube in my pink gloves and helmet struggling to change my tire! She blew the tube up a little more, got it straight, and got the tire back on again in no time. Then she changed Cleo back into the smallest gear and got the wheel back on. She also gave Liz and me a few tips on riding on the small chain ring rather than the large, and focussing more on maintaining a high cadence, particularly if we were having knee problems.

So yes, I felt like an absolute, total nube, but I was extremely grateful! Trying to salvage something out of our day, Liz and I continued on to the end of the road, then turned and headed back to Freyberg. The weather was thankfully holding up. Rain had been forecast but luckily we had only a couple of intermittent showers and there was only a slight Southerly. As we headed back down the motorway Liz's knee was giving her more and more grief. We kept the pace slow and eventually made it back to Freyberg (tooting buses and crazy drivers notwithstanding).

Afterwards I could tell that I hadn't aggravated my knee issues. It feels fine - or at least no more sore than it was before the ride. Sure, today was slow and short, but at least I was still out there. If the weather permits (the rain has finally arrived and the wind is picking up fast) I'll go out and cruise the bays again tomorrow and perhaps by Monday I might be able to get back into the hills.

In a case of brilliant timing, I bumped into my former swim tutor, Lesleigh, outside Freyberg today. She's very supportive of my half-ironman plans and told me to give her a call when I was ready. Yay!

A half-iron just feels like the right distance to be trying for somehow. At least, it's something I can feel excited about. The Rotorua running course looks gorgeous as well. Now, all I have to do is manage my knee.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I can ride, I can ride, I can ride

So the physio thinks it's a GOOD thing that my knee got me through that ride up to Hawkins Hill. She reminded me it's only been a week and a half since I damaged it. She has banned me from spin classes for the interim, but ...

I can ride this Saturday, provided I'm sensible and don't ride up Moonshine Rd if I know I'm hurting. She said that I should keep moving as much as possible, since my knee hurts more after I stop. She said I am allowed to replace the spinning with actual riding.

How much do I love my physio?

Having said that, I will still forgo Saturday's ride if I don't feel in myself that I'm improving. I will keep icing, keep taking Voltaran, continue to wear my one pair of office-friendly loafers, keep updating this blog.

It's not over till it's over, and it's not over until I'm over Hatepe and the finishline is in sight.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Yesterday I did a lunchtime Balance class, a satisfyingly hardcore upper body workout after work, and then over 100 minutes of spin class.

Today - my knee hurts.


I'm going to the physio tomorrow with a strategy. I'm going to seek her approval to a recovery regime. One week of no biking, no running, no squats, lunges or leg press. Still allowed - upper body weights, Balance and aqua jogging/swimming.

Make no mistake. This regime is going to kill me psychologically. Realistically, it may not even fix the knee. I believe it will take two weeks of rest to genuinely fix the problem. I'm hoping one week will bide me enough time to get me through Taupo.

I will be missing the ride this weekend out to the Haywards and Moonshine Rd. That on its own is enough to send me into a deep depression. The time away from Cleo will feel like purgatory. However the alternative is to continue pushing this knee, with the possibility of blowing it up completely and not being able to race at all.

Thankfully the weather forecast for the next few days is appalling, and with it being a long weekend, and a weekend that Hamish and I have traditionally spent lying around eating, perhaps I will cope. Although I am developing an abiding fear of the scales. I will just have to deal with the weight issues later. Recovery should come first.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Oh, what the heck

I am officially declaring. 2009 - I am there.

Kate, I would pin this on you, but I'm going to accept total culpability for this one. The problem is that I've reached a point in my training where I know I can get around the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge just fine. So of course I started thinking today about my next challenge. I couldn't bring myself to get excited about training for a marathon, however I needed a stupidly monumentous goal.

Bike - no problem. Run a half marathon after the bike? Yeah, probably, if I train for it. To go from not being able to swim a length of Freyberg without flippers though to swimming the whole distance in the lake? Now that's the challenge right there.

Not so long ago I could not ride a medium size hill without walking. I could not ride clipless, let alone ride clipless through rush-hour traffic in the centre of town. Not that much longer ago I couldn't run 500 metres without dying.

Liz signed up for the Taupo Round the Lake Challenge despite not having ridden a bike before. I have to keep asking the question - what am I really capable of?

I guess that in just over a year I'll be finding that out!

Is there such a thing as a half-m dot?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thoughts on Yesterday's Ride

Do I ever have a major case of hill scorn now! Walking to the dairy to buy a paper this morning I couldn't help but look down on Mt Crawford, on Mt Victoria and the other hills that once caused me to suffer huge palpitations of fear, and laugh. I turned and looked up, and up, and up some more to the Turbine and the radar station. I feel like I've 'knocked the bugger off', to use a certain iconic New Zealand phrase. What bigger hill is there to climb?

I rode a smart ride yesterday. We begun by riding up Brooklyn Hill. I wasn't feeling that fantastic and was probably a little dehydrated. We had the option of riding down Ohiro Rd and back up again but I wanted to spare my knee as much as possible, so I waited opposite Helen Street for the others to return. From there it was another climb up to Karepa Street, where I stopped briefly to put the glove back on that I'd accidentally taken off and put in my back pocket with my arm warmers.

From Karepa Street it was all uphill to the turbine. The first 100m or so of the access road are very steep and several of the squad stopped here to walk. Pip offered to grab me so that I could unclip and stop as well, but I insisted on continuing. Shortly afterwards it levels out, and although there are patches where it steepens a little again, that first bit is the worst of it. I used to live nearby and have driven up to the turbine several times, so I had a rough idea of what I was in for.

I made it to the turbine feeling quite jubilent and then Dee told us we were riding all the way to the radar. I had a brief 'what am I doing?' moment. I considered using my knee as a get out of jail free card, but my curiosity was piqued. I've walked all the way to the radar before and I remembered there being steep patches. I decided I'd rather feel like I'd done all I could and that I'd feel worse if I wimped out.

Only a small group of us rode onwards. Rob was a small red blip on the horizon - a good 100m or so ahead of the rest of us. Dee and I climbed together for a while. I took my cue from her and stood on my pedals for several minutes. This was the first time I'd really felt like I had climbed out of my saddle effectively. I managed to find my balance and put some power into my climb. All the same I really felt my quads! Climbing out of the saddle is something I need to work on.

It's only six kilometres from the turbine to the radar station and it's undulating, but there are some gnarly little steep stretches, a gate to climb over and a nasty patch of gravel. We rode past the castle with its snarling dogs, and past the ostriches. Finally we made it to the top. I was glad to see the top of the hill. I was starting to feel some serious fatigue by that point!

I really enjoyed the roll back down to the turbine, despite one small mishap. At the entry to the carpark is a gate. Before the gate there is a hill then a short, small rise. I unclipped as I was rolling down the hill, then somehow managed to put enough pressure back down again as I was cruising up the rise to the gate that I must have clipped back in. You can guess what happened. I stopped at the gate and toppled straight over onto my right side. Thankfully I did it with as much grace and dignity as possible, and even managed to land in the grass on the verge!

From there it was down, down and down. Downhill always seems so much steeper than uphill, and I always find myself marvelling at the heights I just climbed. It never seems possible that I could possibly have gone up that way just a half hour or so earlier.

Down Happy Valley and Stu stopped for a flat tire so Dee told us to do a loop up Murchison Rd. I opted out of that climb as well, knowing my knee was pretty much had it. I stopped, put my arm warmers back on, and waited.

After a short while everyone regrouped and we cruised off around the bays. It was a simply gorgeous spring morning. The Southerly and wind that were supposed to have kicked in didn't materialise. We rode two-abreast, cruising at around 30 to 35kmph. I rode next to Angela for a while, then moved alongside the other Pip. We chatted most of the way, sitting behind Phil and Rob.

On that ride back around the Bays I got another glimpse of how much my cycling has improved over the last few weeks. I think the Waikanae ride really made a difference. I'm much more comfortable riding in a pack with the faster riders in the squad. I'm not killing myself now to keep up with them. I'm holding my own, holding the paceline and feeling good.

I still felt good afterwards, though I was pretty tired last night. My knee wasn't feeling too good though. I'm continuing the ice and Voltaran regime. Julia and I were going to ride this morning, but after an hour of debating with myself I had to force myself to stay in bed. Thankfully it took a while for the Southerly to roll through and a bit of rain made my decision easier to take.

Later, once the rain had cleared and the sun come out, I walked into town and went shopping. All those ugly helmet photos finally convinced me it was time to hand the monsterous thing back to Hamish. I am now the slightly dubious owner of a rather pink helmet. Pink I tell you! I do not want my Cleo to become all girlified, but somehow this helmet would not take no for an answer.

I had so much fun walking around town, something I almost never do these days (being that I'm always out riding). I bought myself a fabulous wrap dress on sale at Boutilicious for $35, and a black and hot-pink tunic top from Fruiti. All that and my real intention had been to shop for Hamish's upcoming birthday. Oops.

I'm not sure that the walk into town was really that good for my knee, but it was good for my soul. As I was walking through Central Park a Kaka flew squawking overhead. I wondered whether it was one of the four kaka I've seen flying around Mornington every day this week. As I walked down the hill I was swamped by a group of young boys on their skateboards. Everyone everywhere was smiling.

After walking down Cuba Street and Courtney Place I wandered back up Tory Street, Tasman Street then over the hill and down into Vogeltown. I stopped at the dairy for a cold drink then wandered up a pedestrian accessway back up to the Ridgway. By this time all the layers I was wearing had become a real burden. The sun was out, there was no wind to speak of, and it was distinctly warm.

Wellington on a good day, and Pip still marvelling at a weekend where she went for a huge ride. Three years or so into my fitness obsession my mind still hasn't caught up with what my body is capable of. Thankfully I have people like Dee to show me! I'm just sad I can't ride today, when it's so wonderful out there. My knee comes first though and I'm determined to be sensible. I got to spend a wonderful day wandering through town, and it was nice to do something different for a change.

I had to laugh though. Dee amitted to me yesterday that she had never ridden all the way up to the radar station before herself. She and Duck went up there once but she turned back halfway. Great!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Why Does the Girl on the Left Have a Huge Smile on Her Face?

Perhaps because she'd just ridden all the way up to here:

The Hawkins Hill radar station, which is this high up:

I rode up there with these guys:

And with these guys as well:

Here I am smiling in the wind turbine car park, before Dee announced we were going higher. I looked pretty pleased with myself here too!

See, I even took a photo of the turbine to show I'd actually made it up there:

Here's something I learned today. Don't ever think that something isn't possible. You know what? Sometimes it actually is ...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Read Write Poem: Wordle

I chose to write a poem based on the first prompt, using three words from the Wordle. The words that emerged first were "silence", "field" and "warm". My additional challenge to myself was to translate a physical feeling, a memory of sitting in my Wellington living room last night, into a piece of speed-written poetry. This is very much a rough draft! I tried not to think too much about the writing. I wanted to trust instinct to convey the sense of the moment.

This night
silence is the
The repeated call
of a Tui
in the valley
is the warmth
of dreaming.
The Vogeltown
Kaka fly screeching
where pine trees
were felled and
empty fields
were once
The evening
is a held
each feather
a note from
an Oboe.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Well, this is interesting ...

Was it only yesterday that I felt like I was hitting the wall and complaining about being exhausted?

My knee was still sore this morning. I had only a vague sense of it possibly still being inflamed until I was walking to work from Hill Street, at which point it started to hurt. Reluctantly I had to acknowledge that I wasn't going to be doing anything bike or run related today. It's gotten a bit better as the day has gone on, but I don't think it will be recovered enough to do anything tomorrow. In fact, I think I should wait until Saturday at the earliest before riding again.

After some careful analysis I suspect the pain has arisen from a combination of the two big rides on the weekend, my historically tight shins, calves and ankles, a seat that might possibly be a squidgen too low, and possibly cleats that aren't quite positioned correctly and need more float. I really hope it's not the seat. I've really been enjoying my ride setup and I'm reluctant to raise it again.

In any case, I'm going to see whether the physio agrees with my self-diagnosis tomorrow and beg her for some ultrasound. Interestingly I noticed tonight that there's also a small bruise around where the pain is located. I can't remember smacking my knee on anything, but I tend not to notice that sort of thing so I'm not discounting that possibility either.

What has really astounded me though is how much of a difference taking today off has lifted my energy levels. It's not like I'm tapering for an Ironman and wow, someone might need to lock me up if I ever do. I am buzzing insanely. I keep casting longing, loving looks at Cleo every time I pass her in the hallway. I am fidgety and full of short little bursts of enthusiasm followed by rapid diversions in train of thought. I want to ride. I want to ride badly.

My name is Pip, and yes, I am an addict.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I think I may have finally hit the wall. Unable to face getting up to cycle into town the morning after my 100km ride, I put Cleo in the back of the Honda yesterday and got H to drop me off near the office. I planned to either ride with the Capitelles after work, or just ride home, depending on how I felt.

Feeling very tired, to say the least, I was nonetheless on my bike and riding towards Freyberg shortly after 5. By the time I got there however it was all I could do to keep my head down as I passed the group of women and bikes waiting there. My legs were not happy and there was something a little more disturbing happening. My left knee was hurting.

My left knee continued to hurt all the way to Evans Bay, all the way through Kilbirnie to Lyall Bay, and all the way round the coast and up Happy Valley to home. All the same, given how tired I was I was more than happy with my pace. Out of the wind I was flying without effort. Into the wind I was still maintaining around 5km more per hour than I was only a couple of months ago.

It was really only as I was riding up the hill to home into that Northerly that my pace finally fell away. I toiled my way incredibly slowly towards the ridgeline, very happy to finally be at the top. My heartrate never got up there - my legs wouldn't work hard enough to give it a chance! And that knee ...

That knee continued to hurt during RPM this morning, and by the end of class was feeling sore to the touch. Gritting my teeth I cancelled my planned after-work class, though it nearly killed me to do it. I settled for a wonderful Balance class at lunchtime instead.

Whatever is going on I don't think it's IT band related. The pain is on the inner side, just below the kneecap. Here's what I'm hoping. I'm hoping it's just a bit of inflammation from overuse over the last few days. I'm hoping that a rest day tomorrow will settle it down. If not, I have a physio appointment on Thursday anyway.

In my ideal world I still complete the 'hard' homework for this week. To get there however I still have to fit in two RPM classes and a 25-10-25 time trial before Saturday. So it's unlikely to happen. If my knee settles I might at least still be able to fit in a ride (or another RPM if the weather folds). The good thing is that the weather, Northerlies aside, has been wonderful and has really been tempting me to actually get out on my bike after work rather than spin or run.

Now I just need my knee to come right. Please!


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pip Tours Waikanae

Groundhog Day! At 6.15 this morning I was once again standing on the side of the road with Cleo waiting for Dee to pick us up and take us off to Waikanae. Only this time it was a gorgeous clear and still morning, and the birds were redefining the concept of a dawn chorus. Good vibes.

A quick drive later and Dee, Veronica, Liz and I were offloading our bikes outside the Waikanae pony club and preparing to race. My goal s for this week were fairly simple - get around the 100km event (four loops of a 25km course), drink, eat and stay with a pack. The last of those goals was the most important. I also had some vague time goals, but wasn't really sure how fast I was capable of going and didn't really care so much about time anyway. I knew I could smoke the Graperide time, but that was a hillier course.

It was clearly going to be a warm day, but was still a little cool at 9 a.m.. I decided on my shortsleeve top, sleeveless windbreaker and armwarmers. Seconds before the race started I dropped the armwarmers down to my wrists, and there they stayed. As a result I now have the most ridiculous sunburn - four inches of white wrist, red arm then white skin again from halfway up my bicep to my shoulder.

The Waikanae race runs primarily through a succession of pretty suburban streets, with a longer out and back down a country road along the back of some sand dunes and one small hill climb (comparative to the Pass of Branda). As a result there are a large number of corners to be negotiated. On the first lap I was concentrating on not coming off my bike, particularly at the end of the out and back - a rather tricky u-turn on a narrow road. Some of the corners had a little more gravel on them than I would have liked, and one man did go down in front of me early on. Thankfully I was able to ride around him and didn't go down myself. By the fourth loop I had my turning down. I got into a rhythm of dropping a gear and sprinting out of the corner, and was no longer getting dropped after every intersection. I can highly recommend this as a course for developing technical riding skills!

Joy of joys, I found a pack almost immediately and rode with them the whole 100km. Osteopath Liz (not new rider Liz) joined me and we stuck together until she mysteriously disappeared at 75km. I had so much fun on this ride. Being in the middle of a pack made all the difference. We were all content to hold a pace that felt reasonably laid-back without being too slow. I could probably have gone a little faster, but I kept myself reined in, remembering my pack-riding goal. We lost a couple of people at the 50km mark, notably a young guy on a mountainbike with fats, wearing board shorts and a t-shirt. Someone get that dude a road bike!

One of the other lovely things about this race was the large number of children with small little road bikes, and the young boy riding stoker on his father's tandem. Given the options of 25, 50, 70 and 100km there was a wide range of ages and abilities out there, everyone having a go on a gorgeous day.

At 60km I knew I would be riding the whole 100. I was feeling too fresh to pull out at 75km. I kept eating, kept drinking. I'm able to drink without slowing down now, which is a huge breakthrough for me. By now I also knew the course well enough to know where the long flat parts were, where I would have time to mess around with bottles and bars and not have to worry about unexpected manouvers.

As we all settled in after the 75km mark those of us left started to relax and get a little more social. It was so nice to be cruising along over 30kmph chatting about riding. I wound up riding with two former Gearshifters who finished Taupo in my target time, so it was nice to know I was in their ballpark. There were only two dodgy incidents - a blonde woman in a small red car who felt obliged to honk and then pull into a left turn ahead of us, and a guy in a white van whose wing mirror came within inches of a woman riding a hybrid ahead of me. You can bet I was yelling at him! She wasn't too impressed either, as we later discussed over the last 10km.

I had thought that it would be difficult to continue riding around and around the same route. I thought that psychologically I would find it very hard to ride those last 25km. However I was feeling so good that it was more a case of realising at the 65km mark that "huh - only 35km to go". With 25km to go I was enjoying myself too much to feel tired, particularly when a couple of guys who'd finished earlier jumped in front to pull us home. Love you guys!!!

Up the speed bump one last time - sprinting it. Down again and round the corner with the gravel. Out along Peka Peka Rd, round the u-turn again. 12 kilometres, 10 kilometres. Finally the row of orange cones and this time we could go left. Cheers from the women behind us, cheers from the Gearshifters sitting on the grass by the finish. I got off my bike and my legs felt fine. When I got off my bike after the Graperide they seized so badly I had to hobble for a good ten minutes.

And yes, I know the Graperide is hillier, but I wiped nearly 40 minutes off that time. I HAVE to be happy with that! I don't have my official result yet, but I know roughly the time I finished in. I averaged around 28kmph, or over 17mph, which is quite fast for me, even if it's slow for others! I can only get faster. I also have to remember that we rode a very hilly 60km yesterday, so my legs were fatigued from the start.

So yes, I am doing my happy little Pip dance about my race today. Riding home with the girls I was sitting in the front seat scoffing my Burger King (oh yes, we did) and singing along to Purple Rain on Dee's iPod feeling pretty darn pleased with life. Spring has turned on a summer day today and I was happy to have been out racing in it and looking forward to getting out there again.

Yay for good racing!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Oh Dear

After an afternoon of conscious rehydration I thought it might not hurt too much to have a glass of wine while blogging.

Turns out, not such a great idea. I am toast! Back to the water I think or my 5.15a.m. start is really going to hurt.

In Which Pip Chooses the High Road

It's Saturday so it must be Gearshifters.

Dee had more hills for us this morning. Lots of hills. Big hills. As I got out of bed for the umpteenth time I was craving a sleep in. Well, that was never going to happen! I was at Freyberg unloading Cleo not long after 8 a.m.

We had a nice morning for a ride, though it was remarkably crisp and there was a bit of a Northerly. We rode to the base of the Ngaio gorge and then we had a choice - up the gorge or hang a right and take the steeper Old Porirua Rd. I could see the start of Old Porirua swinging off up the hill. They weren't joking when they said it was steep. I did a mini-freakout. I decided I was going to ride up Ngaio Rd. I decided I would feel like I'd wimped out if I took the easier option. I turned right.

Oh yes, they REALLY weren't kidding when they said Old Porirua was steep! For the first time ever I had to get out of my saddle to climb. I NEVER climb out of my saddle! I thought so many times over that I was going to die. Thankfully the road levels off every now and then, just enough to allow you to catch your breath, then it laughs in an evil manner and cranks up the gradient even more.

Needless to say I made it to the top, though I seriously need to work on standing on the pedals. Having not really ever had to do it before I was having an interesting time finding my centre of gravity and identifying how to stand and grind efficiently. It's still my technical skills that let me down when I'm riding, but at least I know what I have to work on.

Down Ngaio Gorge, stopping briefly to fix my dropped chain (cross-chaining again - completely my fault). At the bottom we turned and started climbing again. Some of the pack did Old Porirua twice but I really didn't need to remind myself of how steep it was and I was curious to see how difficult Ngaio was.

In the end, Ngaio Gorge felt ridiculously easy and I overtook a few people on the way up. It was a happy Pip who reached the top and waited with the others. From there I don't really know where we went. We went via the backroads, past the end of Sarah's street, through Wilton and past Otari-Wilton's Bush. The route was undulating with a couple of reasonable climbs.

We regrouped then headed down into Aro Valley, meeting at the base of Brooklyn Hill. From there it was another climb up to Brooklyn - the steep side this time! This big mammoth hill I'd alwasy dreaded was infact nothing to worry about at all and I cruised up there without difficulty.

Onwards - flying down through Happy Valley desperately trying to hit 50kmph (failing). Those of us who were too fast for our own good got to do Murchison Rd, but it didn't worry me, knowing that it was steepish but short and it didn't take long to reach the top. Unfortunately while we were waiting a boy of about eight years old who had been flying up and down his driveway took a spectacular fall and started screaming hysterically. A quick inspection and his wrist was bending at an obviously unfortunate angle. His father thanked us for going to him and headed off to the hospital. One day that kid is going to make an excellent roadie!

Back down Murchison and around to Island Bay where we hung a right at Mercer Street. Now I know Kate will understand just how much the next fifteen minutes or so hurt. We rode up Melrose Rd then hung a left into Southgate Rd. At this point things got steep again. Southgate Rd was gruelling. What hurt even more was levelling off and thinking we were at the top only to discover the road steepened again and kept going for another couple of hundred metres or so. Getting to the top felt like survival!

We regrouped yet again and then headed back to the coast via Houghton Bay Rd. From there a small pack continued around the Bays and back to Freyberg. Over time we had dropped several riders - some to equipment failures and some to punctures and another group of cyclists cut back through at Kilbirnie. Those of us who were left pushed on through the headwind and sped when the tailwind gave us the opportunity. It was now warm and the sun was out and it wasn't bad at all to be riding around the coast. Knowing we were on the home stretch we started talking more and rode two-abreast when we could.

From around Greta Point Richard instructed us to sprint home and I got unceremoniously dropped again. I really need to work out why it is I don't have the power on the flat to hold my own. I was NOT impressed! Once I was dropped it was difficult to keep motivated to speed home. I'm going to have to go out and practice power starts and sprinting if I'm ever going to feel happy with my non-hill rides.

It was, however, a very happy Pip who met the others in Parade for a cold, cold drink. When I got home a pair of Kaka were playing in a tree at the top of the garden and birds in general were chorusing loudly in the mild spring weather. I sat in the courtyard rehydrating and reading the paper and feeling pretty pleased with myself.

Tomorrow - 100km around (and around) Waikanae. Dee's picking me up at 6.15 and I am SO sleeping in next Sunday!

Turns out I really am a hill climber. Who would have ever thought?!

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Week of the Mad Dog

I woke up on Monday morning after the Wairarapa race with surprisingly fresh legs, but with a muscle strain in the area of my upper left hamstring/glute. Did that stop me? Not likely. I was up at 6am and off to the gym. I wanted to do a circuit workout and so that's mostly what I did, although I was thwarted somewhat by the 6.50 a.m. bus never arriving. The next bus wasn't till 7.15 and I got to the gym with little time to spare.

I got a bit territorial, taking over my usual cable machine and assembling a power bag and a barbell next to it. I conceded to the day before's exertions by dropping a kilo on the step-back squat and to use a smaller power bag in the walking lunges. I then raced through three sets each of the step-back squat, walking lunges and woodchopper, then moved onto three sets of bosu-ball side step, swing squat and leg press.

My energy levels were pretty good and having to hurry meant that I maintained a pretty good heart rate. My main concern was the pain through my left glute and I was a bit worried that I might be doing more damage.

Did that stop me? Of course not!

After work I headed out for a recovery run in the sun. It's liberating to run without the Garmin and to give myself permission to just run in a way that feels good. I got as far as Freyberg, where I stopped briefly to talk to the leader of the Capitelles, a Welly women's cycling pack. Somehow over the course of the evening, via a series of messages on the Vorb forums, I managed to be convinced into riding with them this Monday (after the Waikanae 100km event). It will be a challenge (a good one) to keep up, but on the shorter rides it's the kind of challenge I need. As Richard says, I need to lay it on the line.

Speaking of Richard, I hadn't been running for long when I came across him walking home and we walked together for a while. He gave me an excellent pep talk, for which I was very grateful.

I ran out to the Point then turned back towards the Terrace, and was able to run faster on the way back than on the way out. It seems it takes about 7km for my fatigued legs to start loosening up. My glute was still a bit sore and I still wasn't sure I was doing the best thing for my body, but mentally I was doing well.

Tuesday turned into one of those Mad Dog marathons. It started after work with a leg workout. I did most of Duck's leg programme, including the squats, bosu side steps, leg press, abductor swiss ball press, box jumps and leg extension. I skipped the walking lunges, if only because my glute was still bothering me.

With ten minutes to spare I ate a banana and headed into the 6.40 RPM class. Dee was teaching and the room was, once again, filled with Gearshifters. 45 minutes later that class was finished and I wolfed down another banana. From then on in the pain began. We had another hour of mostly hill tracks ahead of us. Whereas we had been rowdy and jovial in the first class by midway through the second we all fell slowly silent. With my legs complaining that they were well overdue a rest I switched into HTFU mode. I reminded myself that halfway through Taupo I would probably be feeling pretty tired and that I wouldn't have the option then of turning the dial down and spinning things out. It would have been grim had it not been gratifying and the Mad Dog was baying.

I had another RPM class to get out of the way before the end of the week and for some reason it seemed like a good idea to do it at lunchtime on Wednesday. Never mind that I hadn't gotten home until 9 p.m. the night before and that I was, to put it mildly, a little tired. I wanted to get the day's workout done and I figured it would be nice to have 36 hours before my next bout of cardio.

It wasn't the easiest of classes, despite the instructor Chris choosing some excellent tracks. My heartrate wouldn't budge above 130 and my legs wouldn't listen when I suggested they work a bit harder. It was a relief to have it all over with and I very much enjoyed being able to head home and rest.

I had various appointments for which I thought it better to be awake and alert for on Thursday, so I didn't get up to workout before heading to the office. Instead I headed off to Extreme after work. Upstairs I jumped on a yellow spin bike and enjoyed watching Murray put an Impact class through their paces. Lauren was up there moving remarkably lightly on his feet for his size (which isn't to say he's mammoth, just to say that he's not small either).

Murray's antics and the accompanying thumping music got me going and motivated me to keep my cadence high and my heartrate over 140, though it jumped immediately back to 130 the second I slackened off. Through sheer grim determination I managed to get it up to 150 at one stage. I warmed up for five minutes, went hard for 20 minutes, recovered for ten then went hard for another 20. By the end of it all I was dripping sweat and my glasses kept fogging up. I got off the bike, turned around, and came face to face with a row of empty treadmills. For some reason it seemed like a good idea to change back to my running shoes and jump on one. So I did! I ran two kilometres, finding my legs surprisingly loose, and sprinted the last 500m.

Was I finished? Not yet! I went downstairs and did three sets of pull-ups, push-ups, cable row and tricep extension. Finally the stress of the eventful day were expunged and the Mad Dog placated. It seemed like a good time to head home.

After all that I took Friday off! It was an excellent week and I felt pretty good the whole way through it. I'm happy that my legs seem to be able to cope with the idea of active recovery. I am, however, perturbed by the amount of food I am piling away right now. My weight is not moving up or down, but I'm having to eat constantly to keep it where it is. If I were to eat a 'normal' diet I would, I'm sure, be skeletal. Instead all I can think of is food. Driving home from RPM on Tuesday night Dee and I were fantasising about pizza, satay and desserts. Food has become the other of my two topics of conversation. I am a slave to my stomach.

I owned the Mad Dog this week. The Mad Dog is extremely high maintenance!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Wairarapa Cycle Challenge Report

Well, it's been a few days since the Wairarapa race and I've had time to process it. I had three goals for this race. I had a time goal, I wanted to ride with a pack and I wanted to nail my hydration and nutrition in a racing environment. In fact I had four goals. Having not ridden more than around 55km since the Grape Ride in April, I also just wanted to finish. I was also looking forward to seeing just how fast I could go.

Dee picked me up at 6.15 on Sunday morning. Hamish still wasn't home from his VJing gig and getting up at 5.00am seemed like a mad endeavour to s ay the least. When we stopped at the BP in Upper Hutt it was blowing a gale and raining and we nearly turned back home. Thankfully we decided it would be foolish not to at least see what conditions were like on the other side of the hill. When we got to Featherston it was still drizzly but the wind was far less severe.

We arrived ridiculously early and I had a lot of time to get Cleo ready, to decide on an appropriate number of layers and to scoff down a banana. I got an attack of the pre-race nerves but tried to distract myself by riding a few laps up and down the road. It was still quite drizzly and the Southerly was keeping things quite cool so I went with a polyprop top, cycling top, arm warmers, leg warmers and a windbreaker. I was worried I might be overdoing it but I never came close to overheating.

Dee persuaded me to move up a wave and when we started off I found myself riding with a bunch of guys doing 40kmph. It was huge fun but I knew I couldn't keep it up and after ten minutes or so I got dropped. Unfortunately that was the first goal down the drain. From then on I rode most of the way on my own. Every now and then I would latch onto another pack, but it wouldn't last long.

For the first 20km or so I managed around 35kmph. I made a point of starting to drink and eat early on. I was feeling good and having fun, despite not being able to see too much as my glasses got covered with rain and started to fog. Then the tail wind kicked in and it all started to go pear shaped. I was riding along narrow country roads completely on my own with only dropped Peak Fuel tubes to reassure me I was still going the right way. My average speed dropped right back and I started to wonder whether I could meet my time goal after all.

Two brief pack rides kept my spirits up during this time, as did a flock of bellbirds as I was riding through a gathering of trees. One rider was stopped on the side of the road changing a flat tire, and he later blew past me at speed. The narrow little roads and the lake on my left would have been wonderfully scenic had it not been grey and overcast.

The headwind of course didn't last and soon a tailwind had me pushing over 35kmph again. From then on my feelings about the race alternated depending on whether I was able to hang off the back of a pack and whether I was riding into the wind. I kept hydrating, kept eating. I kept track of my speed and monitored the passing of the kilometres. I jumped onto a good pack that I was hopeful of holding onto but lost them at the top of one of the few hills as I fiddled with my gears. I cursed myself a bit at that! I pushed hard but coudn't catch them again and eventually gave up.

I started to give up again during an extended period of riding at a 45 degree angle against a crosswind as we approached Martinborough. I just stopped caring about time and just wanted to finish. Ironically, once out of the crosswind I found that, despite some sore sit bones and a bit of legwarmer chafing, I wasn't terribly fatigued and that I still had the power to push a good pace. I was even picking off the occasional cyclist. I enjoyed the sensation of my legs firing away like pistons, pumping rhythmically up and down.

Once I reached Martinborough things picked up considerably. I was flying down State Highway 2 and motivated by the 14km sign to really start pushign the pace again. I was surprised that I was still feeling very strong. Of course I wasn't counting on the hill just before the lefthand turn to Featherston. Halfway up I was passed by a couple on a tandem. I had seen them stopped for a puncture earlier, then a second puncture not long after that. This time I called out to them to ask whether they'd made sure their tires were free of glass this time. The male of the pair grimaced and commented they were not having a good day. Their day must have really been going downhill, because I passed them only a couple of kilometres further down the road with their third puncture.

The last kilometre into Featherston seemed to take forever but I crossed the finishline with a big smile on my face. It took ten minutes or so to find my way back to the hall at the startline. I ended up circling around town with a German girl, totally lost. Back at the hall I very slowly changed into dry clothes then wolfed down a scone from Hamish's baking the day before. Soon after that I finished off one of my Sculpt bars, then a mandarin. Not long after that I was starving again! Other than the chafing at the top of my right leg (ouch), I was suffering a bit of a muscle strain where my left hamstring connected in the area of my glute. However my quads and calves felt ok and I wasn't as tired as I expected to be.

I had failed to take note of my time on the finishline so had no idea of how I'd done but thought it might have been around my goal. It took a couple of days for the results to go up online and I got a nasty surprise. The time recorded against my name was about 20 minutes slower than I'd thought. I was, to put it lightly, rather upset. It was only when I realised that some of the other results were a bit screwy to say the least that I started to have my doubts about the time listed against my name. One of my Gearshifters buddies was listed twice, with two different times. Another had come in last and was showing as having finished near the front of the field. The woman who had finished with her wasn't listed at all, and one of our other women was listed as not having started.

Thankfully Julia hit on the bright idea of searching on her bib number and found her true result recorded against someone else's name. I did the same and came up with a time that was far closer to my goal. I was still too slow, but not suicidally slow!

Over the period of the day the results came out a series of anguished emails and txts were swapped between me and some of my long-suffering friends. Forget that conditions hadn't been ideal. forget that I felt good for a lot of it and had more power than I thought. Forget that I was around 5kmph faster than I was around the Graperide. Forget even that I'd done well with the hydration and sustained a race pace the whole way. I hadn't achieved a self-imposed time goal. Even worse, people might think I was weak, unfit or slow!!

Ridiculous, obviously. Believe me when I say I eventually gave myself a good talking to and got over myself, again. Regardless of the time, there were so many positives to take from this race. It was great fun, except for when it was horrendous! Funnily enough, as the days go by I'm increasingly minimising the awfulness of the awful bits and my memories are focussed on the good bits. Race two for the year, race one of Taupo training over with. How can I not be pleased with myself?

Special mention must also be made of the wonderful volunteers with their little red flags signalling each turn. Thanks especially to the guy who tried to send me off down the 64km route and was terribly polite when I suggested I might want to turn right instead. Great fun! I'm glad I always make a point of smiling and thanking them all, even the guy at the end who was a bit vague on how to get back to the start line again!

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Too Young to Die

Or, Pip goes cycling in "strong galeforce winds".

If Kate thought it was bad last Saturday then I'm guessing she wasn't out there today. Gearshifters today was an exercise in staring the Grim Reaper in the face. More than once I was given cause to wail "I'm goooiiiinnnnngggggg to diiiieeeeeee.....".

Incredible as it now seems, Dee decided to take us out to Eastbourne today. The ride is flat but a little hazardous at the best of times. It involves cycling through town then along a busy four-lane road and eventually turning onto State Highway 2, a main expressway. After following the expressway for several kilometres you exit at Petone (riding around a roundabout where a policeofficer was knocked off his bike and killed earlier this year), through Petone and then around the coast to the end of the road at Eastbourne.

I wasn't kidding about the galeforce winds. The Northwesterlies made it interesting to say the least. The ride wasn't without its dramas in other ways, either. Lauren, for example, rode into the gutter as we rode up the onramp at the end of Hutt Rd, fell towards the line of traffic, rolled and stood without letting go of his bike, stepping back off the road in what seemed like a fraction of a second. He managed to bend his derrailleur in the process but still completed the ride, albeit accompanied by a loud clacking sound.

The worst part of the ride for me was almost certainly the Petone foreshore on the way out. The crosswinds were so strong that it was all I could do to stay upright. We were supposed to be practicing bunch riding and signalling hazards but there was no way I could take my hands off the handlebars without going for a skate. I compensated by yelling out hazard notifications as loudly as I could.

From the petrol station in Eastbourne we sprinted to the end of the road. I vaguely managed to hold my own but wasn't really satisfied with my speed. The wind was still knocking me around but I don't want to use that as an excuse. All the same, it was gratifying to be reaching up to 40kmph out of the headwinds. I could put that down to tailwinds, or I could just pretend that I'm super fast.

On the way back Richard wanted me to ride with the front bunch and I think that if there had been no wind I would have been able to. However instead I suffered the frustration and indignity of being well and truly dropped. I watched the other Pip, who has obviously been doing her homework and is now a lot faster, take off past me. My mood darkened as much as the sky that was now starting to spit down on us. Sea spray splashed over the road and smeared my glasses, clouds of sand blasted my legs and I tried not to feel like I was the weakest cyclist on the planet. The wind was roaring, the harbour whitecapped and the sky grey. The conditions were truly mad and I wondered how on earth I'd let myself get into this.

In the end some of the other girls who were also dropped formed a second bunch with me and we slogged it back to Petone. Each corner resulted in either a headwind or crosswind and I was really truly dreading the rest of the ride home. I knew of course that I had no other option. I was too far from home to walk and Hamish didn't have a car to come and get me. A phrase comes to mind that will be familiar to a few of my readers. It was time to "harden the f**k up".

Miraculously the wind seemed to have shifted when we got back to Petone and the crosswinds never materialised. Back on the expressway I was holding around 35kmph without too much effort. The lead pack wasn't that far ahead of me but it wasn't worth burning up the energy to try to catch up.

Once off the expressway it was a fairly cruisey spin back to Freyberg. We took the cyclepath along the old Hutt Rd and followed the waterfront rather than cycling through traffic on Jervois Quay. This had the added advantage of meaning that we had to ride slowly to avoid large groups of pedestrians. We made it safely back to the start of the ride and flocked quickly to Parade for coffee.

Richard gave me a bit of a pep talk afterwards. He told me I'm a stronger cyclist that I think I am and that I just have to lay it on the line a bit more. I will admit that I'm riding more conservatively than I could. I'm being held back a bit at the moment by a lack of confidence and technical ability. However nothing burns more than being progressively overtaken by the pack. It's happened too often the last couple of rides and it leaves me fuming and discouraged and ill-motivated to try to catch up again.

I want to regain that sense I had a month or so ago of being powerful. I want to know again that when I push down on a pedal that I will move forward at a pace that seems to correspond to the level of effort I'm putting in. I don't want to be afraid of putting that effort in either. Getting frustrated at being dropped while I'm fiddling around with my gears isn't going to help me pick the pack back up again. The issues I'm having are as much psychological as physical. I need to stop spending so much mental energy on getting frustrated and I need instead to be focussing on power and efficiency and technique. I can do this!

I'm getting up stupidly early tomorrow to get a ride with Dee over to Featherston for an 80km race. Thankfully this wind is now forecast to burn out overnight. The weather service is now predicting occasional rain and light Southerlies. I just want to do this thing!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Two Days in Auckland

Work led me to Auckland on Sunday night, and to the City Life Hotel. Usually when I travel for work I stay with family, so it was a nice change to be staying in some reasonably upmarket accommodation. I was even more pleased when I realised that the bed in my hotel room was a super-king, complete with six pillows.

I couldn't bring myself to order breakfast from the hotel, even though work was paying. The continental breakfast was $25 and all I wanted from it was the cereal. Instead I ventured out onto Queen Street on Sunday night and hunted down a couple of boxes of Lite and Tasty cereal. It was a mild spring evening and I started to feel quite nostalgic for the years when I was studying and working on Queen Street and this was my stamping ground.

One early night later and I was up at 6, downing cereal from a mug with a teaspoon, and catching the lift down to the hotel gym as soon as it opened at 6.30. I had the gym to myself and, although basic, it had everything I needed. I managed three full sets of 10 pull-ups - 30 in total, and ran through the rest of an upper body weights circuit after that, including three sets of push-ups and a few extra tricep dips.

A full day of presentations at our Auckland office followed. I didn't fancy any of the lunch that was on offer - croissants, sandwiches and savouries. Instead I found a really excellent salad bar downstairs. I ordered a vegetable hotpot with brown rice and a broccoli and carrot seasame seed salad. That filled me up for the rest of the afternoon.

At 4.00 we wrapped up for the day. Everyone else headed off to a nearby bar but I was on a mission. I donned my running shoes and Garmin and headed off down Queen Street to the Viaduct. From there I headed for Victoria Park. As I ran it started to rain gently - the warm pleasant kind of rain, not the icy bullets of a Wellington winter.

I assessed how I felt when I got to the end of Victoria Park. I was running slowly but wasn't ready to turn around. I decided to run up College Hill. Before I moved to Wellington six and a half years ago I lived in an apartment down the Three Lamps end of Ponsonby, just off Jervois Rd. I used to attend a Weight Watchers meeting on Jervois Rd and one Saturday I walked, puffing and panting up College Hill, staggering behind two women from the meeting as they power walked to the top. Some time after that I made a second attempt at taking up running (the first had been as a student living in Newmarket). I used to jog slowly down Curran Avenue then run and walk my way past Westhaven Marina back to Victoria Street, then walk up College Hill to home.

In the back of my mind over the last couple of years has been a desire to return to Ponsonby and run that route again. Here I was at the bottom of College Hill, about to see how far I had come. I wanted to run to the top.

Of course running to the top turned out to be a simple matter. Even though this was my first run in nearly three weeks, even though I was really tired and my legs felt like lead, running to the top was easy. And of course, once I was at the top I wanted to finish this thing. I ran to Curran Ave and down to the Marina.

By the time I got to the Marina I was a bit over the whole thing, particularly when I went the wrong way and ended up in a car park surrounded by water and had to double back. I was cursing the motorway sign on my right which advised it was another 500 metres to Fanshaw Street. Here I was totally aceing a run that I once could have only dreamed of doing, and I just wanted to get back to the hotel!

I fairly staggered back through the Viaduct to the Ferry building, then ran past Britomart to the bottom of Queen Street. By that time I'd done about 8.5km according to my Garmin, so I estimated I had in fact run around 9km. It had taken at least 500m to latch onto a satellite. I figured 9km including a big hill for my first run in several weeks was enough. I figured that trying to run up Queen Street through the after-work mass of humanity was stupid and rude. I walked back to the hotel, stopping only to buy a cheap bottle of Rose from the superette across the road.

So it wasn't a pretty run, even if it was a tick-the-box-I've-done-that-now run. I wasn't entirely satisfied with it. Of course I had to remind myself that my legs were hardly fresh either, having been put through RPM on Friday, Makara on Saturday and the Bays ride on Sunday. Really, I shouldn't have expected one of those floating, fast kinds of runs.

One long, powerful and very hot shower later I was ordering a plate of chilli chicken with noodles and a side salad from room service and sipping on Rose. I climbed into bed early and watched the Illusionist on Sky then fell asleep. All the while my workmates were dining at Portofinos and being sociable. Sure, it wasn't very team-building of me, but I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to hang out with my six pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets and The Illusionist on Sky.

I took Tuesday as a rest day but my metabolism didn't know it was supposed to be taking a day off. I had my Lite and Tasty for breakfast. My stomach told me it wanted something else. I ate some fruit. My stomach shrugged its shoulders and hmmmmed. By 10.30 a.m. my stomach was screaming at me. Fruit was not going to cut it. A scone with a little jam and a little cream hit the spot. I felt the most amazing sense of relief as my stomach smiled and relaxed. Here was a lesson in intuitive eating if ever there was one. Unfortunately the carb-and-sugar binge didn't stop there, with various slices being served for afternoon tea. However my weight is fairly stable so the occasional bad day won't hurt me.

Back to Wellington, the cats and Hamish on Tuesday night and up early this morning to do a leg workout. I'm slowly increasing the height with my box jumps and I'm steadily increasing my leg extension weights. I backed off increasing my leg press weights this week because we've got a ride on Saturday and a race on Sunday.

The 'rest' week in Gearshifters training has meant that today I was able to treat myself to another run. I headed out at lunchtime in the spring sun and avoided the worst of the wind by running up to Kelburn. The tulips are out in force in the Botanical Gardens and it was a very pleasant route to have chosen. I wish I could say that it was one of those runs where I amazed myself with the speed of my hill climbing or the power in my legs. Wrong on both counts. My legs felt heavy and I fairly plodded my way to the top of the hill. Once again I reassured myself that I simply haven't been running very often. I also reminded myself I did a leg workout this morning.

In the end I was too happy to be out running (I felt like a naughty schoolchild) that I didn't mind too much that I felt slow. I know that it would only take a week or two of regular running to get my speed back up again. I will make more of an effort now to fit a run in at least once or twice a week.

Tomorrow I'm going to do a circuit weights session and follow it up with an RPM class after work. On Friday I will limit myself to a Balance class. I'm concerned that I'm not getting enough core work in so if I can't make it to Balance a couple of times a week I'm going to have to fit in a core session in my own time. I do have some Pilates and Yoga DVDs at home from boxes of Special K cereal and I should really make use of them.

It's time to lift Gaffer from my lap and prepare for tomorrow!