Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Hero, My Husband

This is my wonderful hubby, and best friend, Erik. If it weren't for him, I would not be doing ANY of this, so I would like to take a moment and acknowledge the many things he's done for me.

Erik and I have been together since December 2004, although we've known each other much longer and have worked together for about 5-6 years. When we both became single again in 2004, we attended the staff Christmas party together for a lark, and the rest, as they say, is history. We were married last year, on March 19, 2007, and will always consider ourselves 'newlyweds'.

Erik was a cyclist before I met him. At that time, he mostly rode his mountain bike and had done some racing. He had recently bought a road bike and was beginning to make the move to road riding. I had an old mountain bike so when we went away in the spring of 2005, we took our bikes and I about near died trying to climb a little hill. I arrived at the top gasping for breath and was not at all pleased that he took my picture. However, he waited patiently for me and encouraged me all the way, despite the fact that I was extremely out of shape, even on the flats.

I put away my bike when we got home from that trip and he continued to ride alone and with his friends in the hills behind our house. The following spring, in March 2006, I was unhappy with the weight I had slowly put on since the birth of my last child, and since my gym membership had expired, I decided to start riding my bike for cardio. Since we live at the top of a hill that I still to this day hate to climb, I put my bike in the car, drove down to the flats, and rode a little 10 km loop that I had mapped out in the car. Erik came along with me, crawling along at an amazing 20 km/h, waiting for me at the halfway point while I stopped to catch my breath and have a drink, and all the while, telling me how awesome I was. I believed him. I was so proud and excited that I could ride 10km in 30 minutes!

As Erik rode along with me, he pointed out my speed on his bike computer and I was curious. Then he encouraged me to get a computer for my bike so I could keep track of my speed and distance. Within a few days, we had one installed on my new mountain bike and began to record the dates, miles, and distances I had travelled. Within a week or two, I had bumped my ride to 12km, then 15, then 20km. Often we would sit up on the deck and analyze how I'd done, and how much improvement we were seeing and he never failed to encourage me with positive comments. Every now and again, he'd be chomping at the bit to do some real riding and would talk me into heading into the hills, but I wasn't physically or mentally ready for climbing and was often in tears, although I'm not sure he knew that. He did know I was 'cranky" and wisely chose not to talk to me too much during those times. LOL...

By June, I was craving speed and kept looking longingly at the road bikes at the local bike store. By this time, I had logged 1200 kms on my bike and we had our longest ride on June 25, 2006 - a hilly 100km in the 35 degree heat!

The next day, I bought my first road bike, a Giant OCR1. Now I had the speed I was craving. That summer, we logged a lot of miles and I learned to climb. It was hot and hard but Erik waited patiently for me and continued to tell me how great I was doing. It is only now that I can look back now and realize how much of a couch-potato newbie I was and how hard it must have been for him to hide his impatience with me at times. Every night, we continued to sit out on the deck and talk about our rides and point out the strengths I had, and the ways I had grown in the past 6 months.

By the end of 2006, I had ridden 2775 km over 100 rides, all of which are recorded on, had lost over 20 lbs, and had set several PR's for speed and distance. And I truly don't think I could have done any of it, without Erik's support and encouragement.
In 2007, we continued to ride a lot, and set many new PR's. Erik's own riding skills were also improving and he was becoming stronger and faster as well, much to my chagrin. Just as my fitness level was improving enough to be able to keep up with him on the bike, he got stronger. LOL... Ah well, it only served to make me a stronger rider. I was always racing to try to keep up with him and every ride was an intensity ride. Perhaps it's not the best way to train, but it worked!

That year, I began to think about running. I started to wonder if my improved fitness level would allow me to run. In the past, I couldn't run a block without gasping for breath, maybe now it would be different? So slowly, I began running - a walk/run at first, slowly working my way up to 5km by late spring. I did my first 5km race in June 2007 and was amazed with my time - 26:17! My previous best 5k times had never been faster than 29 minutes. And Erik was there, taking picture, carrying my stuff, cheering me on. Would I have gone alone? Nope, not a chance. Again, I couldn't have done it without him.

Unfortunately, shin splits from poor training and no stretching put the kibosh on any further running that summer. Instead, Erik and I spent an idyllic 3 week honeymoon in Europe, ten days of which was spent on a self-supported cycling trip in Provence. We did not want that trip to end - we could have ridden for a month I'm sure. It was an amazing trip that I'll always remember and I know that it won't be long before we're back cycling again in Provence and hopefully, Italy.

At the end of the summer, we went down to Penticton to watch a few friends compete in the Ironman. As I watched, I wondered if I could ever do an IM. When I saw Sister Buder, a 78 year old nun, and heard her story, I thought to myself - if she can do it, so can I! But I first I have to learn how to swim. Hmmm, can I do that?

I tried to run again in the fall but continued to have shin/ITB problems. I finally got fitted for orthotics in January 2008 and started back on a walk/run program once again. I also began to swim 2-3 times a week at the local pool and built up my endurance. Maybe I wouldn't do the IMC, but I could perhaps consider the Try-A-Tri or maybe even the Sprint Tri in August.

As usual, Erik was there supporting me and bragging about my minor accomplishments to anyone who would listen. This past spring, 2008, we both bought new carbon road bikes - Trek Madones - and Erik began ride a lot more. With my triathlon training, I am too busy to ride every day so he does hard rides on his own which is nice because he can really hammer without having to worry about me, and we do medium and easy rides together. He has a serious mileage goal for this year, and is now logging his miles on bikejournal as well. I think he may eventually be interested in competing in a few time trials, but his greatest interest is in long distance endurance rides. Last August (2007), we rode around Okanagan Lake, a total of 170 kms, and his longest ride to date was riding 300 km from Banff to Jasper in one day, along the Icefields Parkway with his brother about 8 years ago. He really wants to do that ride again but because improving on his previous ride time is important to him, I don't think I'll be able to go with him - I'll just slow him down. I would like to do the ride over 2-3 days though. Anyway, with all this hard riding he's doing, he's getting very strong and I doubt I'll ever be able to catch up with him. But I do enjoy now being able to stay ahead him on climbs that we do the day after one his hard rides - lol...

In addition to his cycling talents, he is a truly caring and loving man. He's an excellent teacher and is wonderful with kids, always patient yet firm. He sings, writes music, and plays guitar! He brings me coffee every morning and rubs my back every night. What more could a girl ask for?

Erik has been an amazing influence in my life. He's changed the way I see myself, and how I feel about myself. I have never felt so loved, so happy, so beautiful and so confident. Without his support, I couldn't have become the person I am today. I know that it's me who has done the hard work to get where I am, but he gave me the will and belief in myself to do that work, and for that, I'll always be grateful. And as for having to draft behind him my entire cycling career? It's not so bad. I get to go fast, and it's a nice view! :)

Thanks, honey - I love ya! Let's go for a ride!


gabsatrucker said...

Both of you are amazing people, I think this is one of the most inspiring posts I've ever read by anybody. 3 cheers for great husbands!!!!!!


Paul said...

What a great couple you guys make. I am envious of what you two share. It was great meeting you both Sun. and thanks for the cheering support and photos.
Can't wait to read your very first tri race report!

Kelownagirl said...

Thanks, Gab, that means a lot to me, and I agree, 3 cheers!

Paul - it was great to me you too and I hope to see you down in Osoyoos sometime!

don said...

He's a keeper

Kimberly Schwartz said...

This is really cute =)