June 2, 2011

Take'n it to the trail & street

Lake Serene during summer
Good news all around! There is hope to getting back to my normal self again!  This weekend I went on a maiden bike voyage around Seattle neighborhoods, went on my first real hike of the season, and rode all the way home from work! Woohoo! Yes, OUTSIDE! Yes, cool breeze in my face and bugs in my teeth. It was grand.

Up until last weekend, I'd been playing it safe by sticking to the urban trails near Seattle - Soaring Eagle Park, Cougar Mountain, Discovery Park... All fantastic. Seattlites are blessed to have such amazing places so close, but I've been itching to get out on a "real" trail. With the initial plans to do a ridge hike out of the question due to lingering snow levels, Lake Serene was a no-brainer alternative. Let me be honest, I hate going to Lake Serene unless it's first thing in the morning. Due to the ridiculous number of people on the trail, you end up having to battle passing several hordes of foreigners and/or newbie hikers. These are people that don't know or acknowledge proper trail etiquette. Yuk.  I generally play outside to get away from people, clear my head, enjoy nature, and to be grounded by spectacular views. Lake Serene is not my idea of serene, but it's easy to get to, relatively close, and can be tough if you kick up the speed.

Unfortunately, the lake was covered in snow and the fog was
thick so we couldn't see a damn thing. Avalanches were a
plenty falling from Mt. Index though. Great sounds!
Unfortunately, the night before I'm afraid I may have eaten something tainted with an un-Leigh Ann-friendly ingredient. My stomach hurt and I mean like old school hurt. Boooooo! And, I was tired from two weeks of insomnia. We arrived at the trail head sometime in the early afternoon and sure enough my mood immediately tanked. Great. PEOPLE. Even though I was prepared for there to be a lot of people, I didn't think there would be THIS MANY! I mean there were cars and cars, more than I'd ever seen before. Ahhh! I wanted to crawl back in the car and pout, but I decided to be a big girl and not let others ruin my big day outside nor let my grumpy attitude ruin the day for my hiking partner. We headed out on on the trail at a medium pace hoping to wake up a bit and let my stomach calm itself. By the time the trail really started increasing in elevation I started feeling really good. I had my new Black Diamond Distance Trekking Poles, which I love, and took off up the trail. We passed the biggest group of foreigners I have ever seen on a trail. They just kept coming, it was creepy. I try to be civil and say, "Hi, how are you? Have a nice hike" etc., but sometimes I feel like the world is out to test me.

With the help of the poles I was able to relieve some pressure off my back and keep a pretty darn good pace. By the time we were back down the trail I knew I was going to be sore and it felt great. My quads and knees are not used to going down hill (why isn't there a stair machine that mimics going up and down stairs? I guess I could use real stairs). When we arrived back at the car I was stoked and had a huge grin on my face. In the end, no one ruined my day outside and there's hope after all. I will trail run again, I know it.

I had an ergonomic bike fitting with my physical therapist yesterday. The good news? I'm not completely discunctionl when I ride or how I had my bike set up. Hooray for me! A few minor adjustments here and there and a few tips on how to ride more efficiently and I was out the door. Okay, well about two hours later I was out the door. But none the less, I rode on my merry way and felt more confident in hoping back on the saddle, literally.

My bikes had gathered a lot of dust over the last several months, so about four weeks ago I cleaned them up and did a little maintenance in preparation for my maiden voyage. Saturday was my first time back on a bike and let me tell you, my back was utterly confused by the situation. Faced with a 20 mile ride home, I debated a bus-bike combo and identified key points along my route to dismount. At a little over 1/3 of the way home my back was talking to me and I decided that at one the upcoming opportunities, I would grab a bus. Instead, I pulled over about 1/2 way home and gave myself a few minutes to stretch, hoped back on the bike and told myself that I had a little longer to ride before I had made it to my minimum riding goal. However, by the time I arrived my back was actually feeling better and I decided to keep on keep'n on. I was super excited when I finally rolled up to my apartment building. I had made it. It was a big goal for me at 3.5 months post two back surgeries. I was happy and proud of myself. I didn't feel like I pushed myself too much. I rode at a leisurely pace to keep pressure off my back and I think it worked. This meant allowing people to pass me. Yes, pass ME. Now, I'm not really that fast of a cyclist, but I'm stubborn to boot and damn competitive. I don't like to be passed. Maybe I've grown up a little ;)