Queen of the Mountain

So long since I have written and many things have changed. A deep statement for an opening line and yet not a rare one I will admit. Let’s stick to one topic – cycling!

Since writing last, my fitness has improved in terms of my cycling. I can now summit Black Mountain in 16:08 – much better than my first attempt of almost 25mins including 1 fall and 2 stops!

Better than that, I did a ride this morning and ended up being Queen of the Mountain for a strava segment!

WHAT THE!?!?

ME? A QOM?

Sure it wasn’t a super fast time, and many professional female athletes would leave me well in their dust! But for a beginner who was doubting her abilities that was a fantastic boost to the ego! It will also be taken from me in no time I expect, but that’s ok, I had it, for a little while and got to feel amazing!

So, friends, any ego boosts, fitness related or not, that you’ve experienced lately?

My first attempt at Black Mountain

This is Black Mountain

Black Mountain, ACT

This morning I had my very first attempt of riding up this beast. She doesn’t look too difficult, but I’m still a beginner. I am getting more seriously into my cycling, I am starting to train, and part of that training is hill climbs. I love climbing hills, I love running hills, I’m not good at it but I want to be, so I’m going to be!

This first attempt wasn’t my best. My bike has a lovely little quirk where when you change down into the smallest gears the chain gets stuck and falls off. I had a feeling it would do this to me but I needed to lower gears so decided to change down. Yep, you guessed it, chain stuck, I lost all momentum, couldn’t unclip my foot in time, fell straight over and scraped my knee. I felt such a fool, especially when 3 super fit guys rode past – super helpful, asking if I was ok, if I needed help, if the chain was still stuck – but I felt so dumb.

After the fall (within the first 1km!), I picked myself up and kept going. It was tough, my heart was beating so hard, breathing hard, but I kept going. I had to take a break a couple of times to let my legs get a bit of a break and it took me forever to get to the top – 20minutes! My friend/cyclist/trainer gets up there in half that time! I felt so ashamed and unfit.

But at least it’s a start right? And that’s better than nothing at all, AND I’m determined to get better, get a whole lot better!

I will be better next time, especially now that I know what to expect, oh, and I’ll have a new bike!

http://thecycleway.com/?tag=black-mountain

For those of you interested in what I do…

After presenting some of my findings at a conference in the USA in August, my work has finally caught on in the media. It’s not cancer-curing, it’s not world or life changing, but it is incredibly interesting and has implications in terms of systems processing and navigational contexts. It really is one of the coolest results to come out of my PhD so far and to be featured on 2 radio stations and a few websites, I am feeling really good about my work. I am feeling energised and excited for the future, for more work to do and for being able to communicate it to the general public – something that scientists often fail at.

Without any more fuss, here is a link to a nice article on my work in the Australian Geographic! Let me know what you think of these amazing little ants and the crazy work I do :)

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/lost-ants-use-visual-cues-to-quickly-navigate.htm

The happiest dinosaur ever

A friend asked for a painting, and as soon as he told me what he wanted, I knew exactly what I wanted to paint – he is a true muse!

He asked for a dinosaur riding a bike.

I think I delivered, meet T-rex the velocipedist!

T-rex the velocipedist!

Deciding I’m an athlete

Now, that doesn’t mean a good athlete! But, I love my running and am more focused on improving my times, my form, my skill. Not only in running, but now also back into cycling, one of my first exercise loves!

I used to love riding my ridiculous 1 tonne clunky bike on the farm, racing up and down the road, dogs chasing me, so much fun. I adored my commute to work in Brisbane despite the horrendous heat and humidity. Moving to Canberra, I still loved my commute, now much longer, and instead of the heat and humidity, freezing cold mornings, ice and rain, but I still loved it. I stopped riding because of experiments and a disgruntled attitude towards my current bike…

Now, I have invested more in my running, better and more comfortable clothes, a gym membership to work on my strength and for good interval training that I needed, joined a running group for proper training – and it’s time to do the same with my cycling. First step, a better bike, and I’ve fallen in love with a beautiful Bianchi! So, new bike, then on to training – I won’t just use this beautiful machine for commuting, though my 20K commute is a nice ride to get used to how she moves – then I will work on hill climbs (you win races on hills, not on sprints!), and have a couple of friends who will be able to help me with that, push me and give me advice. I want to get good, I want to be confident when I call myself an athlete, I want to feel comfortable in the kinds of clothes that athletes wear because they are the best clothes for the work I do.

I am excited. I’m going to be the type of athlete I have always wanted to be, but first, that Bianchi! :P

Working out what you want…

What a weighted title! How on earth do you work out what you want in life?

Experiences I guess is the most obvious way. You do something, you determine if you like it or not and that shapes the decisions in the future about whether or not to do that thing again, or something like it, or something completely opposite to it.

For example, I didn’t think I liked exercise. I started out small with the plan of getting fit – luckily I had a beautiful track to start walking on. Then I started jogging. Then I started running. I now love to run, the more I run, the more I love to run. I felt the same with cycling, with hiking, with camping. I learnt that I love being active and I love being outdoors seeing new things, so I seek more of those experiences now, I want more of those experiences in my life.

… But that’s not really what I mean by what you want from life, that’s a deep question, a harder question to answer.

Am I just making it harder than it really is though?

Trying to look at it simplistically, trying to break it down to the core wants and build up from there…

I want to be happy.

I want to be a good friend to my friends.

I want to be a good partner to my partner.

I want to be a good member of my family.

I want to leave everything a little better than I found it, whether it’s a place I visit or person.

I want experiences.

I want to be challenged.

I want to be constantly learning.

I want to always improve.

I want to be out of my comfort zone and feel comfortable.

I want to contribute.

I want to give back.

Ants in Schools – a project I started this year that allows me to at least get out and give back to communities in some small way…

In essence, I want to be happy, I want to be challenged, I want to be good.

Is that too much to want? Now I know the kinds of things I want at my core, but building up from there, how the heck do I get these things? Where do I start?

I remember hearing a podcast from ABC Radio Nationals Health program about Cancer of Unknown Primary and listening to the words of Jane, who died from her cancer, it really shook me. I want the same legacy she wanted, to be good and to help others. She questioned why people put off doing the things they want to do and it makes me wonder the exact same thing. If I want to travel the world and experience the different cultures and people and lives, what’s stopping me? If I want to stick it to the standard and not have a house and mortgage and be married with 2.3 fat kids, what’s stopping me? If I want to love hard and fall even harder, what’s stopping me?

What is stopping me!?

Fear.

Do I make those decisions where I’m not certain of the outcome? Do I take those leaps that lead me somewhere I’ve never been, that push my boundaries and make me feel uncomfortable? Do I risk hurting others, losing people I love?

Fearing the unknown is a powerful thing, but I almost feel it’s ridiculous. We don’t know the future, we can have a pretty good guess at some outcomes, but nothing ever works out the way you plan – and what’s so wrong with that? I’ve always thought a bit of drama, of things going wrong, helps to build character, helps to teach you important lessons hopefully, and always makes for a good story – and if there is one thing I love, it’s a good story!

So what do I do? How do I figure out what I want?

A lot of thinking, well, a lot more thinking. Some talking probably helps, some advice, some ideas from others… Then hopefully decide, and do it…

Any suggestions? I’m pretty sure some of you have been through some life changing decisions in the past, what got you through? How did you decide what to do and have you learnt from it?

Weekend art

A rainy but sometimes sunny weekend… So many things achieved, so much still feeling like it’s left to do! At least I got to spend some wonderful time with friends, old and new, got to run a 5K and a 7K, had a fun boxing class, got washing and cleaning done on the rare sunny moments, but didn’t get to cook as much as I had wanted. Had some car troubles that resulted in some very expensive repairs but I’m still mobile. Lastly, got to finish 3 art works and start a 4th for a new friend that I can’t wait to finish!

How was your weekend? Lots of busy things to do, or days of relaxation and some well needed zzzzz’s?

A gift for my Mum-in-law

I love silhouettes

A gift for a soon to be born baby!

 

 

Practice, practice, practice.

This music moves me. I grew up playing piano and this was always a piece I wanted to learn. Sadly, moving away from home, and thus my piano, I lost the skill I had. I now have limited access to a piano and this is one of the pieces I try to work on, though my progress is slow. I love this piece, I love how this guy plays it, just everything about it soothes me.

Is there music that you go to for soothing? Have you ever played an instrument or want to? I’ve also thought about a ukulele, they are lots of fun and SMALL! Unlike a piano, a bit lofty to take around with me…

No words, just a picture…

Everybody friendly chocolate chip & peanut butter cookie dough bites!

This recipe I stumbled upon ages ago at this website, all credit goes to her wonderful baking delights, of which there are many on her site!

For the upcoming wedding, Rex and I are making a lot of the food ourselves. This means a lot of baking is ahead of us, but also, we need to accommodate vegans, diabetics, gluten intolerant, lactose intolerant people, and one poor person who is dairy free/gluten free and diabetic! I am searching around trying to find recipes that will mean everyone can have food at the wedding, but that it’s delicious foods that everyone could enjoy. I hate when you go and have a gluten free meal somewhere and it just tastes wrong because the person making it doesn’t really care about it. I do. As such, I will do my best to find things that everyone can eat, no matter what their dietary restrictions!

And voila! Another recipe to add to the list!

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