A real medal

I have a few “finisher medals” stashed away in a drawer, for having enough grit to finish a sporting event. Even then, I don’t have many of those, since I have spent most of my life “not into sports”. Translation: I am too slow and discouraged to participate in competitive events.

However, I have never had a REAL medal for placing top 3 in anything. Until last week.

A padded envelope showed up in our mailbox from Mountain Equipment Co-op. It was a third place finish medal from the duathlon I did back in August! I was third in my age group. I had no idea, but hey I’ll take it!

Back in 2001, when I was 25, I did the Crescent Beach duathlon. Even with my missed mileage, my time was:

5 km run: 47:48

20 km bike: 1:06:58

5 km run: 58:19

Total: 2:52:44

As you can see from above–this is not very good. At all. Most people can walk 5 km in 1 hour, and that was pretty much my running speed. Almost 3 hours of agony, with the officials closing the course right behind me.

16 years later, I quietly signed up for the MEC Langley Duathlon. I really didn’t tell very many people about it. Knowing my history of how slow I was in 2001, I was not going to advertise my slowness again.

The difference this time, is that I actually have been training pretty consistently, following a schedule. Also, I’m now a few pounds lighter. That always helps.

My time for the MEC duathlon was:

5 km run: 27:27

20 km bike: 44:48

5 km run: 28:34

Total: 1:40:49

I shaved almost 72 minutes off my 2001 time. 72 minutes!! Yeehaw!

I was very happy with the results. Just knowing that I did better than 16 years ago was a huge victory for me. I didn’t really care about how it compared to other people. These kind of victories are pretty private for me to savour. I am happy that I am stronger and faster as I age, and being an example to my kids for being active and loving it.

Then to get this 3rd place medal in the mail, it’s just icing on the cake.

My mom happened to be in town visiting, so I dragged her to the race with me. That was the best part for me. I will forever remember her cheering for me loudly every time I looped back to the transition area, holding her phone in front of her face to take pictures of me. She is so cute and she just warms my heart.

Look, Mom, we got a medal!

 

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Midlife crisis

mid·life cri·sis
noun
an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age
When I think of “midlife crisis”, I think of balding middle aged men driving convertible sports cars. Since I’m not balding, not a man, and don’t have a sports car, I have to figure out for myself what midlife crisis means to me.
I certainly don’t feel like I have a crisis of identity or self-confidence. If anything, I have only grown to be more comfortable with who I am inside over time. Regardless of how unhappy I was with myself through my younger years, I have come to accept myself more and more as I age.
All the deep and philosophical thoughts aside, I am loving my 40’s. I feel stronger and healthier than I ever have in my whole life. The kids are now old enough to be active with me. Last winter, all of us skied, and Josh was leaving me in the dust by the end of the season. This summer, we have put on more mileage on our bikes than ever. For the first time I bought new running shoes because I wore out the previous pair with running mileage. I get grumpy if I miss a workout or a run or a bike ride. I crave wholesome and simple foods. Tonight, we had a visit from this really lovely nutritionist who is going to help our family eat better and more wholesome foods.
So if anything, my midlife is pretty damn awesome. I’d like to call it midlife adventure, or maybe midlife party!
midlife crisis

Shit show bike ride

One evening last week, I took Josh on a bike ride down to Spanish Banks. He was determined to make it all the way to the anchor and back home. It would be a 14-km round trip, with some decent hills on the way back. Since he was so determined, I was happy to oblige.

It was a beautiful evening with the perfect temperature for riding. We stopped along the way a few times to play at a playground, throw rocks in the ocean, and climb some logs on the beach. All was well.

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On our return leg home, we had about 4 or 5 km to ride along the ocean, mostly on gravel. Josh wanted to lead the way back, and I was happy for him to set the pace. I’m not very good with gravel riding, but I didn’t expect him to go too fast anyway. I trailed behind him about 7 or 8 feet at a leisurely pace.

There was one narrow part of the trail that was occupied by some pedestrians. Josh went off the trail, riding between some trees, bumping along over some roots. He did great. Just at that time, another cyclist came up from behind us and past us at a pace much faster than ours. Josh let him past. Shortly after that, Josh started speeding up his pace. I thought he was just having fun, so I started riding quicker too. After a kilometre or so, I can tell he was straining to maintain the fast pace. I was starting to struggle with keeping up.

Firstly, I’m lousy on gravel. Secondly, I couldn’t figure out why he was riding so fast. I called out for him to slow down, but he kept flying down the gravel path, mashing down hard on his pedals. He nearly took out a few pedestrians, but he didn’t hear me yelling for him to slow down. WTF?

Finally, we got close to the Jericho Sailing Club, as the trail cuts through the edge of the parking lot. He slowed down before entering the roundabout. I was finally able to catch up to him, riding up beside him. I barely finished my sentence of, “Hey buddy, why are you riding so fast?…” His face was all twisted up, showing all sorts of emotions all at the same time within a fraction of a moment, and he started bawling. I quickly scanned him from head to toe–no blood anywhere–ok, what can be the problem? He was crying so hard that he couldn’t say a word.

I made him pull over. I asked him what was wrong. He was sobbing and snot was flying. He said, “I thought you left me.”

My mind was going at 100 miles an hour. Left you? Left you for what? Dude, you’re the one who left me behind! I was smiling and trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. I said, “Hey, buddy, I was behind you. I never left you.”

He said, “I thought you went so fast that you left me.” He was still sobbing.

The light bulb went off in my head. I stopped smiling. That other cyclist that past us a few kilometers back! Josh thought that was me passing him, riding fast and leaving him behind! That makes sense now. No wonder Josh was riding so fast all of a sudden, trying to catch up to that other cyclist this whole time!

Oh, my little guy!

We sat down on a log, while Josh finished crying and riding through his feelings. I felt so bad for him. I held him, and repeated told him that I would never leave him behind.

We slowly made the rest of the way home. We had to walk the last kilometer uphill, because he just had no energy left to ride the hills. He fell asleep in record time that night.

Me, on the other hand, couldn’t sleep that night. The scene of what happened played repeatedly in my head. I looked for any crack in the logic of what happened, but I couldn’t find any fault. I couldn’t have guessed that he had mistaken the other cyclist for me. Once I decided no one is really at fault, and I couldn’t have prevented this, I let myself go through all the feelings that came with the event. I cried and cried and cried.

My heart broke in a million pieces, just thinking that my son thought I left him behind. What a horrible feeling for him to go through! He was straining so much to keep up, and the person he thought was his mommy just rode faster and faster until she was out of sight.

Life is kind of funny sometimes. It turns a perfectly great bike ride into a shit show. But what other occasion will allow me to look my son in the eye and say, “I will never leave you, ever!”?

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Day 127-129/365

Day 128 of 365 Angela Chang Photography

The principal at Josh’s school has been away for a few weeks for health reasons. Josh decided one night that he was going to write Mr. Evans a card. It said, “I hope you are orite (alright)”. I thought it was very sweet of him.

Day 129 of 365 Angela Chang Photography

The tube in my bike’s back tire bursted one night without warning. I had the bike turned upside down and snapped this photo of my gear while I waited for Cliff to come home with new tubes.

Day 127 of 365 Angela Chang Photography

The sun rises earlier and earlier everyday now. I am starting to forget what it’s like to wake up in the dark, go to the gym in the dark, and go to work in the dark. This photo was the sun casting shadows on the fire escape door in my building at 5:30 am while I was on my way to the gym.

Day 130/365 {Ivory}

14 years ago today, it was hot and sunny. I remember it well. I had to raise my arms to keep my armpits cool, while the rest of me sweated under the heavy wedding dress. Later, when I was walking down the isle, I can see Cliff standing at the alter, a sweaty mess as well.

Fast forward 14 years. I came home from work, soaking wet from riding my bike home in the rain. I opened the door to our apartment, and was welcomed by the two little humans I gave birth to, the fur baby we recently adopted, and the same sweaty sweet guy I married 14 years ago. Ah, how life has changed. I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything else in the world.

Babe, thank you for being you, and letting me be me.

Day 130 of 365 Angela Chang Photography

Slow and steady does not win the race

Fiori bike

I’d like to think I am fast–a fast runner, a fast biker, a fast swimmer.

When I do these things by myself, and there’s no one to race against, I can feel the wind in my hair, and I think I’m fast.

Then, there’s reality.

The reality is, I am one of the slowest runner/biker, and one of the worst swimmers I know. Anytime I go hiking with friends, I’m always dead last. Don’t get me wrong, I have a great time. I am just…slow. Very slow.

Back in the college days (back in 2001), when I was young and stupid, I bought a road bike so I can train for a duathlon. A duathlon (instead of a triathlon) is a race of cycling and running, made for swimming flunkies like me. Rather than swim-bike-run, you do run-bike-run. The bike I had enough money for is the Fiori Roma. I think I paid $180 at Sports Junkies. I don’t have a picture of it, but it’s the exact same bike as the above photo I stole off the internet. Except mine didn’t have a cool paint job like this one.

I lived by the foothill of SFU at that time, and would ride the bike on Barnett Highway as training. I would ride that highway to Port Moody and back, and pat myself on my back for how fast I thought I was. I would run around the track at school to train for the running portion, and again doing it by myself while being completely oblivious to my slowness.

My friend Ryan joined me for the duathlon. Race day came, he took off at the start line, wishing me good luck. I started running hard, giving the race all my might. I felt like a champion, running with good form with my chest up. A few kilometers later, I noticed I am being passed by everybody and their dog. Literally. By the end of the run, I was exhausted.

Then I started with the cycling portion. I peddled hard. Other bikes started passing me. Still more other bikes continued to pass me. I kept telling myself that’s because these real athletes are riding the super lightweight race bikes, and I’m riding a vintage clunker. Then I noticed people riding their mountain bikes with fat knobby tires passing me. WTF?

By the time I got off the bike, my legs felt like jello. I left my bike and started the last running portion. I felt like shit. I had no idea how to train for a run other than a few laps around the track. And even though I thought I was pretty decent at running, at an event like this, I realized how lousy I was. I had to try really hard to pass a lady at least 3 times my age and twice my weight. I nearly vomited multiple times.

Still, I pushed on, running as hard as I could.

Either the cycling or the running course–I don’t really remember which one now–for the duathlon makes you go around the same route twice to make up enough distance. And for whatever reason, this fact completely escaped me. Essentially, I only completed half the distance required for one of the legs.

As I struggled along the last few km of the run (after already missing half the distance), the organizer van was picking up the cones and closing the course right behind me. I was gasping for air and my lungs felt like they were going to explode. I finally finished the race, and got my “finisher” medal.

When I saw my friend Ryan after the race, he was saying how going around the course twice was really hard on him. I was like, “Uh, what do you mean twice?” That’s when I realized I didn’t even really finish the race, since I totally took a wrong turn and missed half the course. And even then, I finished dead last in my age group.

I never participated in another duathlon again. I swore I would never do another one, or a marathon or half marathon or anything silly like that.

Now, in 2017, I am old and stupid. A friend was talking about doing a half marathon as a mean to push her limits. Something possessed me to put up my hand and say, “Oh, I’ll do it with you.” Then I am pretty sure she held a gun to my head and make me type in the registration details online. So apparently on October 1 this year, I’ll be running my first half marathon.

The half marathon training starts next Monday. If you are looking for me this weekend, I’ll be at home, drinking away my sorrows, and toasting the vintage Fiori Roma for all the times she made me feel fast.

I’ve got this

A year ago today, I held my breath as I entered my “40s”. I knew looking back things have been good, but I really wasn’t sure how this new era is going to hit.

I am happy to report that now I have had a year to practice being 40, I’ve got this. It’s actually pretty damn awesome!

There were three things I was very happy about:

  1. Savanna and I traveled to Morocco. I will continue to talk about this trip for years to come. We really bonded on this trip, and I learned that she is an amazing little traveller.
  2. I am more fit than I have ever been. 21 Day Fix Extreme, P90X3, Insanity Max 30, spin, kickboxing, running and biking had me drop 30 lbs since a year ago. But it’s not the weight I’m most excited about; it’s the feeling being strong and growing stronger.
  3. I cleared out the noises in my life. Taking a social media hiatus is one of the best things I have ever done. I stopped caring so much about what people think of me and wasting time on things that do not matter. I made time to be home for dinner at least twice on weekdays.

Today we enjoyed skiing in Whistler. There is no better way to spend the day than with the very people who make my life so damn awesome.

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