Friday, 25 March 2011

Dull aches

Yesterday started off really well. I did my saddle time, down to a sleepy little place called Monkstown:

and I felt good after it. It was an increase in distance and legs, back & arms all came through it well. I came home, relaxed and made sure my warm down was good. I had my chiropractor in the afternoon so didn't want to do too much. I went there, told her i had a dull pain right down at the base of my spine and she examined me....... and then came a worrying moment. She didn't want to make an adjustment on my lower back due to one vertebra appearing to be "quite weak". Actions speak louder than words. She seemed hesitant to do anything with it. Even her speech was slow. I asked would it be worth cutting back on the exercise for a few days and she said "yes". She showed me a few stretches that I can do to try strengthen and/or loosen up that area. I think my weekend plans for cycling have changed. I think I'll have to do these stretches and see how I go. But I can tell you that I am worried. Lying in bed yesterday evening, while I could feel pain in the area she didn't adjust, that didn't bother me. It was my chiropractor's reactions after my examination. Not at all reassuring. It's made slightly worse by the fact that I booked my last two places to stay on my tour today. I'm so close now. Please don't let this be taken away from me. Not now.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Return of the Wanderer

Well after a not as mad as expected weekend in the Land of Dub (but still nicely mad), a bailed on cycle adventure yesterday, I was back in the saddle this evening for a nice altogether total 31km cycle - that was 5km roughly from work on my new longer route home and a nice cycle down to Passage.  It was a beautiful evening out here in Cork as you can see:

The sun was out, it was nearly mild (for March that's a bonus), there was only a slight bite in the air next to the water near Passage, but otherwise - perfect.  I really gave it welly today!  Even after a few days not in the saddle for any real distance cycle the legs felt good and I was able to motor along at 30km/h for the most part.  Happy with that and happy with 1 hour 20 minutes on the saddle.  Back felt a little iffy at one part but it seems to be holding tight..... so far.  I'll feel the pain of my poor spine on Thursday when I visit my chiropractor.  

So - I've decided that I'm going to put together a training plan since I've only two full months before my holiday starts and limited weekends/days off for big distance cycling.  I'm trying my luck at putting together a few nice routes around Cork.  However, with thanks to - 

The Lee Valley Road through Coachford, Dripsey and back through Blarney would be a lovely one.  Roads can be a little narrow there so I think morning times might be best for our mad drivers.  Tomorrow I won't get to go out and cycle after work due to other commitments but Thursday I'm planning one in the morning time.  I might aim for my biggest one yet.  I'll try do 40km - 50km in under 2 hours.  Until Thursday!  Have a good one

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Tuesday Blues..... sky blues that is!

Had my biweekly meeting with the old physical therapist Tuesday. She has a pair of magic hands I tell ya! While she does great work with my glute muscles (they seem to be my nemisis), her massages also show the fragile state of my back. My muscles around my lower back when massaged, send sharp pains right around the base of my spine where my discs are in trouble & my vertebrae are fused. It's scary that a gentle muscle massage causes consternation with my nerves. It's not a dull pain like getting rid of a muscle knot, it's sharp shooting instantaneous uncomfortable (how many adjectives can I fit in?!) pain. It makes me worried as to how bad my back situation is going to get. While the training work I'm doing currently is definitely benefitting my back muscles, my spine & nerves are never going to improve. And while day to day it's not something I worry about or even think about, small things like the brief massage which brings such acute pain down there does cause me worry for the (hopefully) distant future.

I suppose in a way it does worry me on some level...... that is afterall why I started this little experiment.

Ending on a slightly more positive note - my cycling legs are making a comeback! My calf muscles are back baby and my muscles in my thighs are developing well too! Huzzah!

Here's a little photo taken while cycling in the lovely sunshine on Tuesday:

Mirror photos always please me! I don't know why!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Morning Stiffies!

Yes the title is supposed to grab attention! This shall be my first post on back muscle worries I think? So I had my first 'big' cycle yesterday! This morning I took my time getting up, stretching in bed to loosen out the back and everything seemed fine. It was only when I got up on the bike to go to work that I felt 'IT' - it being that tightness in the muscles on my lower left side. 

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I'm not a person who worries about much! I'm very much of the school of thinking - whatever happens, happens. You deal with it. That was my attitude when my doctor told me about my back. I've known my doctor all my life. She was more upset than I was about the news. There's no point getting upset or worried - you just have to accept you have it and get on with life!

My back muscles are a little different though! Well, not when I don't feel that strain in them, but as soon as I feel a strain in them - my mind automatically goes into my "oh no" zone. Very little goes in there. Other examples would be when batshit crazy drivers attempt to kill me. On Irish roads - this can happen a few times a week!

For me it's worse getting this feeling going to work as I'm going in there to more or less sit for the day and that's not good for my back. I really want to cycle this holiday in 95 days and my worry now is that similar events will conspire against me - months of effort and perceived progress, only for the back to go close to travel time. I hope I'm wrong. But that's my big worry.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Late Weeks

Late shift weeks are a pain in the arse. I prefer my cycles post work but when you finish at 2000 these aren't ideal due to lack of lighting in the areas that I cycle.
So that's really why I've no real training update for the week! But today I had quite a decent training session with my personal trainer. I'm very happy with the work we're doing. Building up the body again slowly but targeting the core and lower back seems to be doing the trick.
Have booked a massage for Tuesday to work out the slight tightness in my lower left back.

My blog on my gear is coming next week!  I just have the photos to take – the little piece is written.

Today I did my first 31km cycle in a long time.  Cycled on a tough road surface to Passage as not every path is going to be nice pedestrian/cycling tarmac.  I did that on the way home but where I lost out on a challenging road surface – I gained with a strong headwind on the route home.  It’s a nice route again beside the harbour entrance from Rochestown to Passage:

Sorry for the photo quality!  I was struggling slightly at this stage and didn’t want to get off the bike!  It’s not terrible quality for a motion iPhone picture!  Here's a slightly better one of the view just at the Passage end of the walk/cycle path:

I finished the cycle strongly.  I found a pack leader for a while!  He was going in my direction and I tailed him for a kilometer just to keep a constant pace with him.  Then I picked my moment like a true cycling great and went for the finish line.  My back held up well - no muscle twitching down in the lower back - my legs are still getting stamina back into them so they hurt for a little while coming off the saddle.  But all in all - a good day!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Blue Monday

Well my weekend didn't quite go as planned! It was still a success mind! I just didn't get in the distance I wanted to. Friday saw a distance of around 14km done, Saturday saw a distance of 20km and Sunday saw 4km put in. I was a bit under the weather due to a persistent cough so distance wasn't on my mind. My mood was grey like the sky on Saturday.....

But I also put in my first proper shift in a gym environment in 11 months this weekend! It felt so good to be pushing myself with the weights again!

Body feels good after what was a tougher weekend than normal. Back just has a small bit of tension in it. I might go for a massage on Friday morning to loosen it up. I'll see how the week goes but with another gym session on Saturday it might be sensible to do.

Tomorrow you get a bonus blog! It will be my blog on my gear that I use! I'll try put together a few photos of what I use and just throw in a few bits and bobs of where I get stuff etc. It will take my mind off the Arsenal game tomorrow night!
Until then!

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Highway is alive tonight

Well the last week hasn't gone to plan due to the passing of a close family friend. She will be missed.

So - a quick catch up!
I had completed about 40km from last Thursday to Tuesday evening. Those were training days 4 to 9

Wednesday evening was my first time up on the saddle post work in quite a while. Months even. Lots of months! Last month it was mainly rain related tardiness. I'm not against cycling in the rain, I just hate the fact that you put on some wet gear but you end up sweating so much in it, it's pointless! I'm sure any cyclist out there would agree!
So Wednesday evening I came home from work, had my protein shake and headed back out while the muscles were still warm. I was aiming for a nice 10km cycle, with a few photo opps for this blog! I honestly think I'm quite lucky with the beautiful road routes I have in my local area. I was taking the photos this evening with my beloved iPhone, but on future trips I might just bring my better samsung camera. I want to document this training and my holiday so I have a personal scrap book to look back on!

As you can see above, Cork is blessed with a beautiful entrance to its harbour. And while this photo is really nice, I honestly don't think there's anywhere nicer in late spring / early summer when all the trees are green!  Check out my photos on picasa web for more if you wish!

So my first evening went well. I pushed myself hard coming home from work, then pushed myself pretty hard on the cycle around the Marina. That is just under a 9km cycle so it is a nice warm up route. My back muscles seem to be holding up fine - my spine felt like someone was giving it a Chinese burn. It's a tightness which is difficult to explain. The best I can offer is it feels like one vertebrae is going one way, the next vertebrae the opposite direction. Weird uncomfortable feeling.

Thursday evening I pushed it out an extra 4km.  I went around the same area as last night, just mixed up the direction.  I also went by Blackrock castle..... 

which as you can see, looks slightly pretty with the sunset on it!  It really was a beautiful evening out.  

I felt good this evening for the whole cycle.  No real pain, just the muscles reacting to my maintaining an average speed of 28km/h for the majority of my cycle.  Normal!  My favourite shot this evening thought was this:

It was taken from a bridge on the old railway line route I go.  Truly awesome in my view!

Tomorrow I'm thinking of a 30km roundtrip to Carrigaline. I was thinking of something bigger but I have my gym session with my trainer tomorrow night and I don't want to over do it! My planned cycle would also mark my longest cycle in a little under 1 year. Should be very interesting to see how I fare and how the body feels come Saturday.  So far - I know it's been quite a basic training - but I'm coming along nicely I feel!  You have to start somewhere and I'm 11 days in now and feeling good for what I've done.

I'm going to throw up some pics of my gear and equipment soon so you know what I'm using!