Tag Archives: directionally challenged

Home is the Mountains

I didn’t want to call him.

Big Ring was expecting it; I know he was. He didn’t say he was, but the implication was there. This is the way you need to go,” he said, his eyes boring into mine. These are the roads you want to be on,” he emphasized, sloooowly. “Do you know where you’re going? Do you know where you’re going to turn around? Do you know your landmarks,” he asked, the volume of his voice increasing with every new question. And finally, “I’ll be around for an hour or so if you need me,” he called out as I was shutting the door behind me.

Big Ring isn’t usually this over-protective. I have a history of getting lost; no matter how detailed the directions, 98 per cent of the time, I somehow get completely twisted around on the road, and in the mind. I’ve done it countless times both driving and running, so much so it’s a given I’ll be calling him to help unlose me. But this time I wasn’t driving or walking, I was cycling. It was to be my first solo ride to the city, and I don’t know why I wanted to go against my nature, but I was determined to not get lost, to not need outside assistance, to not call on Big Ring.

Holly GoQuickly: It’s just you and me baby!

Years ago, when I first started riding again, I was riding solo all the time, but that was when I was still living in the valley, where I grew up; if I got lost there, it didn’t take much brainpower to figure out how to reroute myself back to an area I was familiar with.

City cycling is a whole other can of worms.

In the city, I’ve only ever ridden with Big Ring and a friend of ours, never alone. And I’ve only ridden to the city a handful of times; the other times, I’d drive and meet up with Big Ring on the bike before starting. It never once crossed my mind to go it alone. I ran alone in the city all the time, but cycling, that was a Big Ring and I thing to do.

But then we had Little Ring…

Riding together was becoming harder to achieve.

And then I couldn’t run….

I needed to learn to go it my own.

And so, I waved a worrying Big Ring goodbye and set out on my solo adventure. And at first, it was going well. I was following the B.C. Parkway, which essentially no one (except for maybe me) can get lost on as it follows the Skytrain the entire way into the city. As long as I could see the Skytrain tracks above me or to the right, I was good.

Central Park: Wahoo! Made it to Burnaby without getting lost!!!

I veered off at Central Park, away from the Skytrain line, and was to follow the Ridgeway path into the city; as long as I saw the green signs that said Ridgeway, I was good. There was one, mini hiccup where the sign was posted just past the street I was to turn on, so I kept going straight thinking I was to turn on the next street, only to realize seconds later I should have already turned, and then when I turned around, I turned left, which I quickly realized I should have turned right. Oops. No biggie.

I was only planning on a two-hour ride as we were heading out of town the next day and I had some packing to do. I thought 20 km out would be a good place to turn around, but when I saw a turnaround road that Big Ring had mentioned, I was only at 18 km, so I kept going figuring I could hook up with the next turnaround road at Heather.

At this point, I was feeling pretty proud of myself.

Minutes in to the turn, something didn’t feel right. Big Ring and I had ridden on Heather coming out of the city the other day, but we were going the opposite way that I was currently going. Hmm… I kept going, I kept following the little green signs, because surely the green signs would guide me in the right direction. Nope. A few more turns and a couple more kilometres and I knew something was most definitely not right.


Don’t call him. Don’t call him. Don’t call him.

A commuter cyclist headed towards me. Pointing directly in front of me, I asked him if this was the way to the city. There was a look of laughter in his eyes, or was it pity? Nope, that’s the way to Richmond, he said, and then pointed behind me saying that was the way to the city. Neither of which were the direction I needed to go.

Soooo, which way to New Westminster? Which way to home?

Home is to the mountains, he said. North, he said. Go north. Go to the mountains.

Phew, no phone call to Big Ring!!!

I got back on the route I came in on figuring I best not be too adventurous in trying new routes given my two hours had already passed and I needed to get my sorely padded butt home. Things somewhat fell off the rails when my blood sugars went drastically low. I try to test every hour on the bike, but getting lost distracted me; wanting to get home lickety split distracted me; and the diabetes was forgotten. Had I kept to that testing regime, I likely would have caught the low before it dipped below 3.0. Argh..

Waited out the low, found the B.C. Parkway, and off I went.

I came to a crossroad. The little green sign told me to go straight, but the path off to my left looked exactly like the path we’d ridden a few rides earlier, and given the so-called trusty green sign had already gotten me into an earlier pickle, I went with my memory.

Big mistake.

Oh bloody fricken hell, why do I not follow signs. Yes, it was the same path we’d ridden, and good on me for recognizing it, but I failed to recognize the turn I was to take to get back home, and suddenly here I was about to merge on to a crazy assed busy street. What the freaking hell? I had nothing left in me. My butt was sore. My head felt like a volcano had erupted. I was hungry. I was tired. I just wanted to be home.

And the phone came out. His number was punched in. Big Ring was called.

After all, it wouldn’t be a proper PoP adventure without getting lost at least once, right!

Not even the chicken scratch directions on my arm helped.

8:20 a.m. BG pre-fuel: 6.9 – PB&J sandwich (39g)
9 a.m. BG pre-ride: 7.8
Temp. basal: -70%
Time: 2:53:29
Distance: 44.86 km
Average speed: 15.5 km/h 😦
Ride BG: @60 min. 4.1 (applesauce + temp. basal -100%) @130 min. 3.1 (dried apricots) @200 min. 8.9
2:30 p.m. BG post-ride: 10.4
Temp. basal: +70% 2 hours

Direction by committee

(Note: I am seriously behind on blog posts; this one should have been posted Sunday or Monday. Please send all your complaints to the Douglas College chemistry department.)

You say tomato, I say tomAto.

This is the map of the route we were supposed to run Sunday.


This is the map of the route we actually ran Sunday.

013115Sunday run

Pretty much totally the same.

Yes folks, the lost runner in me struck again. But hey, a few added hills never hurt anyone right… right? As one of my favourite running chicks noted, we weren’t lost, we were exploring.

Two hours in the trails – just look at this beauty!

Next time, we do planks!

Next time, we do planks!

And with a water station on route, we were totally set – lost or not!

Riddle me this: How many running chicks does it take to wash a dropped shot block?

How many running chicks does it take to wash a dropped shot block?

8:45 a.m. BG before: 6.7
Carbs: banana + dried apricots 30 min b/f and 15 min b/f (no bolus)
Temp. basal: -50 per cent; – 70 per cent; -30 per cent
Workout: 2 hours: alternating 30′ easy with 10′ at half marathon pace
Distance: 19.28 km
Average pace: 6:13 min/km
BG: @25′ 5.7; @45′ 5.1; @70′ 8.0; @100′ 10.1
Fuel: shot blocks and sports drink – continuous
BG after: 15.7 😦

Seems I had the opposite blood sugar problem this time around compared to the last few Sundays. For this run, I pre-programmed a basal setting on my pump that was about half the reduction from my normal settings and then I started out with a 50 per cent reduction on top of that, upped it to -70 per cent at the 25′ mark, and then when I saw they were rising about an hour into the run, lowered it to -30 per cent. I was also taking in fuel right from the get-go – I did not want to be dealing with lows on this run. Apparently, it wasn’t the proper math all around. See above.

Blargh! One of these days I will figure this bloody thing out!

White rabbits

I was promised sun. I was told if I ran UP, there would be sun. Warm sun. Bright sun. Glowing sun. Big Ring had spent all Sunday morning up at the road hockey courts, and he assured me the entire game was under the watchful eye of Mr. Sun.


You don’t need your running fleece, he said.
You don’t need your running gloves, he chortled.
Your winter socks? Your ear warmers? Nah, you don’t need those.

It’s going to be sunny!

But when I looked out the window, all I could see was nothing. A cold, thick, creepy grey haze of nothing. The fog was so incredibly thick and unmoving, it was hard to believe any sun rays could break through that. But Big Ring assured me there was sun to be found. So, the running fleece, gloves and winter socks all stayed home. (I wasn’t yet ready to leave behind the ear warmers.) And off I went for my afternoon run.

I ran up 12th, which is a suck-bum hill to start a run on. Still foggy. I jogged over and up the Crosstown Greenway. Still foggy. I got onto the BC Parkway. Still foggy.

This fog was not lifting; if anything it was getting even more thick and creepy. For the most part I was the only person on the pathway, aside from the odd person here and there, and I started thinking about the scene. It had the tones of a b-rate horror flick! And I started thinking about those annoying characters who are running through a park, completely oblivious of their surroundings, just before unsuspectingly becoming the victim of a brutal murder. I was NOT about to let that happen. For every person I approached I started making mental notes of everything they were wearing from hat to shoes, if they were carrying a backpack, their salt-and-pepper goatees, the kind of dog they had with them – if someone was gonna try and off me, and I actually survived, they were going down!

But I digress 😀

About half way through the run I started questioning my location. It was a new route for me, and I wasn’t familiar with the area, and my gut was telling me something wasn’t right. I pulled out my iPhone, and sure enough, somewhere along the route I’d made a turn I shouldn’t have, and was way off from where I should have been. Not a big deal, not a huge deal, I’d just turn around and double back…

Soooo, where am I???

But wait, remember that fog? It was still there. I turned around and it was WHITE RABBITS everywhere. I had no idea where I was, which way I needed to go back, where I needed to turn, nothing – and I was cold!!! Bright red, bone-chilled hands cold!

Not even the sneakers could guide me home.

I eventually did find my way back home, and only 1.3 km off from the total distance I had intended. It wasn’t the route I had wanted, it wasn’t the temperature I had wanted, it wasn’t the distance I had wanted. But, when I was sucking back my hot tea after, and thinking about the me just a couple years ago in a situation like this, and how I would have been like infinity km off from the distance I had wanted, and would probably still be trying to find my way home. This, my friends, was directional progress: Wahoo!


  • 2 p.m. BG before: 12.1
  • Carbs: none
  • Temp. basal: -50 per cent
  • Distance: 11.31 km
  • Average pace: 5:35 min/km
  • Time: 1:03:12
  • 3:30 p.m. BG after: 3.4

Notes of a long run

When you run for more than 1.5 hours, things happen. Good things. Bad things. Wretched things. Wonderful things. These are a few of the things that happened to me on Friday’s long run.

Instead of running with my insulin pump latched to my shorts’ waistband, which is annoying as heck feeling as though your shorts are gonna be pulled down at any moment, I decided to try and wear it on my fuel belt. I brought the pump and its tubing up through the top of my shirt and had Big Ring latch it onto the back of the belt between the water bottles. And you know what, I didn’t think about it, didn’t feel it, didn’t get annoyed by it once. Brilliant!


So remember how last week I was singing the praises of Vega’s sport gel? Well folks, it didn’t take long for my tune to drastically change. Just one run; practically a record!

And it’s really quite silly, because when I grabbed that gel out of my drawer and saw it was raspberry flavoured, I knew that I should have just thrown it right back in, or better yet, out. While I love raspberries as an actual fruit – love them! – I do NOT at all like raspberry flavouring for anything! Yogurt, sugar tabs, jam, drinks, gels – I’ve been burned by them all! But the memory of last week’s run, and the happy shock of Vega’s orange zest gel, persuaded me to give the raspberry a go. BIG MISTAKE! Not even a half a second into squeezing and I was gagging. Even now, just thinking about it, has me retching. Blech 😦

It’s no secret I get lost pretty much wherever I go. And so, when Big Ring and I started doing these Friday tag-team run/cycle days in the city, we were both sure I’d be calling him non-stop for additional directions. But I didn’t. One run. Two runs. Three runs. Four. Not once did I get lost. With Big Ring’s explicit directions written on paper AND again on my hand, I was starting to think my mind had transformed into the perfect little GPS.

It was that cockiness that killed me!

With just a few kilometres left to go, I knew I had to make a turn onto NW Marine to head down towards my final destination at Spanish Banks. I was waiting for it. I had my eyes peeled. I passed a few groups of beach dwellers heading in the opposite direction, and thought, hmm, they must have got up real early for those sun rays. The road was a familiar road, I’d ridden it tons of times with Big Ring – coming BACK from the beach! Oh freak. I looked up. I was already on NW Marine. What the??? Turns out I had missed my turn, and had run 10 minutes out of the way. Tack on another kilometre why don’t we!


This run was supposed to be 90 minutes of a 5:30-5:45 min/km pace, with 5 minutes of intense running every 20 minutes and a 1 minute walk break every 25 minutes.  It ended up being closer to 100 minutes, which probably doesn’t sound like much, but tell that to my feet, calves, thighs, and glutes!

The top of my foot was bruised from the heat swelling and laces rubbing. The bottom of my foot had cramping Tourettes. My legs felt as though they’d been used as a punching bag for 10 hours. And my butt, oh my poor, poor butt, it was pained just by sitting!

Hello foam roller my old friend 😀


  • 9:45 a.m. BG before: 5.3
  • Temp. basal: none
  • Carbs: 2T Pocketfuel (12g) no bolus
  • Time: 1:38:07
  • Distance: 17.06 km
  • Average pace: 5:45 min/km
  • Fuel: @45 minutes: BG 4.8 Vega gel (22g)
  •           @75 minutes: BG 5.5 2T Pocketfuel (12g)
  • 12:30 p.m. BG after: 6.2

And this is what greeted me at the end. Pure beauty!

Ps. I am no longer calling my long runs long, slow distance runs. When I compare my pace from pre-pregnancy to now, and when I’m incorporating tempo speeds into the mix, there is nothing slow about it. I’m just saying!

Never Eat Soggy Weiners my butt

I knew something wasn’t right, could feel it in my bones, my legs, my feet. But I kept going … and going … and going. I had directions, Big Ring directions, which for most people probably border on the obsessive with the amount of detail in them, but for me are a necessity.

You see, I get lost. A lot. It doesn’t matter how often I have walked, ran, cycled or driven an area, I will inevitably get turned around re-seeking that area. I get lost in the town I grew up in,  the town I currently live in, heck, I even get lost trying to find my way home again. Directions have absolutely no meaning to me, I don’t trust GPS’, I can’t read maps, and seriously, what the heck is up with that Never Eat Soggy Weiners compass cross that you learned about in Grade 3 – it doesn’t work!

This morning I had an eye specialist appointment in Vancouver to check and see if the pregnancy is causing disturbing blood spots on my retina (more on that in a future post). And the plan was for me to walk from West Broadway to the Running Room in the West End where I was to pick up mine and my moms packages for the Starbucks Women’s Walk/Run tomorrow. The trip should have taken 40 minutes…

Big Ring gave me two options, which I failed to study before getting the dilation drops in my eyes, which make everything blurry for hours. Big mistake! But I did ask, before leaving the loft, which direction east was coming out of the office, based on the first point in one of his options. He told me, the way I came.

Take note, there’s an option 1 and 2.

After the eye appointment, I spent a good 10 minutes (despite Big Ring’s use of larger script) with directional option 2 practically glued to my eyes, trying to figure out how to get from point a to point b. I left the office, turned right, and started walking. Two seconds in though, I remembered, no, that’s not the right way, I have to go left. I turned around and continued on my way.

But the thing is, with every step I took, a nugget of doubt grew in my belly. The directions were to take me over the Burrard Street Bridge, which I’ve gone over hundreds of times, and never, not once, have I ever gone this way to get to that bridge. But then I thought, hey maybe Big Ring’s just trying to give me a longer stroll, so I continued on.

After awhile, I figured I’d get some added clarity. I pulled out my iPhone map app and typed in Burrard Street, Vancouver. A map pulled up indicating that I was in the Mt. Pleasant area. I started walking with the app, and by all accounts it appeared I was walking in the right direction, so I kept going.

But it didn’t take long for nasty thoughts to fill my head: My god, where the hell is he sending me; Longest frickin’ walk ever; Is he trying to kill my legs??? Finally, after walking for nearly an hour, I called the culprit.

Princess: You did tell me to walk toward Mountain Equipment Co-op right?
Big Ring: Yep, if you were taking the Skytrain option.
Princess: What Skytrain option? I’m walking!
Big Ring: Uhh, where are you?
Princess: Victoria and Broadway.
Big Ring: Oh.

Yeah, so I was nowhere near where I should have been. I could have walked back, but my blood sugars were fast plummeting, so I hopped on the bus, with the intention of getting off at Granville, to continue the trek in the right direction. But, guess who missed her stop? Yep, that was me. So another bijillion blocks later to get back up to Burrard. Are you kidding me?

My day in maps.

After picking up the walk packages, I sluggishly hoofed it over to Coal Harbour, my old running grounds.

Being back here again had me longing for my running shoes.

Twelve kilometres, a slice of banana bread, a less than impressive Whole Foods sandwich, a chat with a four-year-old girl from London, and a pair of throbbing legs, feet and buttocks later, and I was finally back on the Skytrain heading home… praying I got on the right train!