Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sunrise over the lake in NJ, Sunset over the bay in RI

Friday was such a gorgeous day!  In the morning I was treated to a beautiful sunrise over Kittatinny Lake in NJ, and time to sit on a dock in quiet contemplation, and in the evening I was treated to a gorgeous sunset over Narragansett Bay while on a walk with my mother.

The sunrise was not particularly colorful, but the cloud pattern was amazing.

The sunset was as colorful as the sunrise was not.  And once again, there were swans!

Goodbye Mountains, Hello Ocean!

Since that day last spring (2014) when I decided that I couldn't just sit around waiting to run and needed something to do in the meantime, I have not biked anywhere but Wild & Wonderful West Virginia.  That means that my bike rides have been mountainous.  My bike rides have been in a place where flatness is much more myth than reality.  A place where a 29 mile ride has an elevation gain of 2835 feet.

This week, my four bike rides were in three different states.  One in WV, one in NJ, and two in RI.  My 33 mile ride in RI on Saturday had only 1,535 ft of elevation gain. At one point during that ride, I glanced down at my HR and saw that it was only in the 130s.  I'm not sure I've ever seen it that low during a ride. I also don't think a 30+ mile ride has ever felt nearly as easy to me before.  Usually I am completely wiped out by a ride of that length.  This time, at the end of the ride, I was ready to stop and release the tension in my shoulders/neck, but I also could have easily kept going further.  The absence of mountains makes riding so much less strenuous.  Obviously, that just means I need to ride faster while I am here, to use the same amount of effort that I use in WV.  I'll work on that in the coming week.  If it ever stops raining.

I was hoping for a spin today, but it's pouring rain, and so windy I thought my umbrella would turn into a sail and fly me away when I walked to church this morning.  Maybe tomorrow will be clear.

This week:
T : 18 (WV)
R : 26.6 w/Dan (NJ)
F : 18.8 (RI)
Sa : 33.8 Ten Speed Spokes Women's Ride (RI)
total miles : 97.3

Thursday's ride was frustrating.  I was looking forward to the ride, but ended up not feeling great once I got out there.  I know it was due at least in part to the fact that I didn't bother to use my inhaler.  While there were hills, they were fewer and further between than home, which meant less coasting, which I think contributed to me being more out of breath than usual.  Also I'm sure the fact that I was riding with someone faster than me contributed to the greater lack of oxygen...  Coupled with the breathing difficulty was the extra burn-y feeling in my legs.  They just didn't want to work.  I don't know how much that was or was not related to the lack of oxygen they were receiving...  All in all it was a good ride though.  A good opportunity to practice staying in someone's draft.  I found that at 20mph I was definitely having to work, but it was quite manageable.  As the pace picked up, it got harder and harder for me to maintain the pace necessary to hold on.  Once we got about 23mph, I was really struggling, and I watched the pace creep up to 24mph.  As I was starting to think that I would have no choice but to give up, a saw a stop sign ahead, and knew it was almost over anyway. 

Not hard to pick out my car in a crowded parking lot!

Friday's ride was intended to be just a quick spin after 4+ hours in the car.  I was feeling really good, and felt like I was riding pretty fast.  I was looking forward to seeing where I fell on the leaderboards for the three hills I climbed.  My average speed ended up 17.7, which is definitely faster than usual.  But sadly, my garmin decided not to add any gps data to my ride so I was unable to get anything from it other than the bare stats.  Disappointing. The views were nice though, I had to stop a few times to snap photos.

The group ride I did yesterday had a much different feel than the rides I do with friends back in WV.  We got much less spread out yesterday.  In WV the mountains have a way of separating people, and there is inevitably a stop or drastic slow down after each climb to regroup.  Without the mountains, this need is eliminated.  We started out with 5 people, lost one, picked up one, eventually lost both guys that were tagging along, and finished out the last 15 or so miles with three women riding a double loop around Ocean Drive.  Sights and sounds of the salt water, I'm definitely not in WV anymore.  In the first part of the ride we had ridden more loosely, often in pairs to chat.  The double loop was more single file, with me in the middle.  I found the pace comfortable and easy to keep up with, which was good.  

Sunday, June 21, 2015

longer rides

I have just under a month until the annual Wheels of Hope ride.  That means just under a month to get in shape for 60 miles.  I could survive 40 right now, but much more than that would be pushing it.  I only rode twice this week, but both were over 35 miles, and I'm feeling confident that I will be able to get the extra miles I need.  I'm getting a lot better at keeping my shoulders/arms relaxed during my rides instead of locking my arms, which is a HUGE help in keeping my back pain to a minimum.

The first reason why I only rode twice this week is because there just wasn't any time for riding this week.  I had to take an afternoon off from babysitting in order to fit in the first ride.  Sadly, that ride cost me about $80 in babysitting money, but oh well, exercise is important too!  However, next time I plan an afternoon off to bike, I might try harder to make it a lower-paying day...

Since I didn't have much time to bike, I figured I should make the rides I did have count, so I decided to just to two longer rides.  Thursday's ride was brutal, because it was about 90 degrees out and pretty humid.  Three of us crazy people went on the ride, none of us had enough water.  My bike holds two bottles, and I had both filled, but it wasn't enough.  The guys I rode with only had one bottle apiece.  It was rough.  Aside from dehydration though, it was a good ride.  My back held up really well.

Not wanting to repeat Thursday's misery, we decided to aim for 9 AM for today's ride.  It went much better.  Only two of us this time, but the weather was gorgeous and not nearly as hot and humid as Thursday.  I only drank about half of a bottle of water during the ride, and I didn't suffer dehydration fatigue afterwards.  Today's ride was a bit longer, and my legs were getting tired by mile 25, but I really only felt it on hills.  My back also held up really well.  The ride ended with a climb, and when I went to get off my bike at the end my back was just about locked in position, but it loosened up without too much trouble.

this week:
R : 36.3 w/Byron & Denver (3104 ft gain)
Sa : 3.1 run
Su : 38.9 w/Denver (3527 ft gain)
\total bike miles : 75.2
total run miles : 3.1

In other news, I have outfitted my car with an awesome new bike rack so that I can bring my bike to RI with me this week and not worry about it flying off my car and breaking into a thousand pieces!
Much sturdier than the trunk racks which really just don't fit this car like they did my old car.
And added bonus, this has a lock, so my bike can't be taken off it without a key!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

another week of biking

This week : 
M : 14.5
T : 16.4
R : 23 w/Denver
Sa : 16.3 + 3.1 run
Su : 14.7 w/Byron
total miles biked : 85.1
total miles run : 3.1

I took my full two weeks off of running, and tried out a jog yesterday after my ride.  My legs always feel super weird when I run after biking, but they were mostly settled into the run by the end of the first mile.  I made myself keep it short, trying not to overdo it.  It was blazing hot out and my lungs were struggling (what else is new) so that helped me keep it short even though my legs wanted to keep going forever.  My foot felt fine during the run, so I was super happy about that.  Sadly though, it started hurting a couple hours later.  So I guess I will not quite be getting back into running after all.

I forgot to use my inhaler before Thursday's ride, but it ended up really not being a problem.  So I haven't used it for riding since.  

My strength training schedule got tougher this week.  Trying to do Saturday's assignment after the bike and run in 90 degree weather was brutal.  And today I am so sore from my pitiful little 5k yesterday that walking is painful.  I was hoping today's ride would loosen up the soreness, but it didn't.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June strength training

I came across an ab-workout challenge schedule for the month of June and briefly considered it, because I definitely need to be doing core strengthening.  But then I had to admit that I need to be doing a lot more than core strengthening.  I need to be doing full-body strength training if I want to be healthier and stronger. So naturally, I had to make my own challenge schedule for the month.  I tried to start it out pretty easy, and build from there.  I don't feel that it's really even too difficult at the end of the month, but we shall see...

I was proud of myself for sticking to the first week.  I have been telling myself for a too many weeks to count that I will do squats/lunges/situps/pushups after each run/ride but I rarely manage to "get around to it." I have stuck to this schedule though, so clearly I just need to write things down if I want them to happen.

here's the first week:

The first day was something random I just happened to do that day.  I made the schedule that evening, and I made it to have 4 days on, 1 day off.

I thought it was going really well, and feeling easy enough, but on my two rides so far this week, my legs (mostly quads) have been hurting and it's been hard to put any effort into my rides.  Maybe these small workout are harder than I thought...pretty sad. Then again, 10+ squats a day is a lot more than zero...

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A week of biking adventures

Highest mileage so far this year!
This week: 
T :  21 (16.3 mph)
R : 16.3 (14.4 mph), 18.3 (15.8 mph)
F : 29.5 w/DR (16.3 mph)
Su : 23.2 (15.6 mph)
total miles : 108.5

Tuesday's ride started out well enough.  I was cruising along and feeling good. About 14 miles in, I came to an intersection.  The smart thing to do at this intersection is unclip before you get there.  But sometimes there is no traffic and I don't have to come to a complete stop, so I prefer to stay clipped in and make the turn.  The problem is, the trees are getting really full of leaves and it is hard to see if any traffic is coming until you get to the edge.  Which means I should definitely unclip in advance.  So of course I didn't.  And by the time I knew for sure that I needed to unclip, I was at a stand still, so the motion of trying to pull my foot out through me off balance and I had a very un-graceful, slow-motion, fall over.  (Yes, next time I will actually be smart and just unclip in advance).  My wrists absorbed most of the impact.  Both feet came unclipped when I bounced off the ground.  I picked myself up, got back on the bike, and continued on my way.  My wrists were hurting, but I kept as much weight off them as I could (which ideally I would be doing all the time anyway), and I made it home.  It wasn't until I got to the shower that I noticed the lovely bleeding chainring tattoo that I had on the back of my right leg.  And later that night my shoulder started hurting.  Apparently my wrists weren't the only part of me that absorbed the impact.  

battle scars
4 little bite marks running up my leg
I may or may not have told someone I got bit by a snake with 4 teeth...

I took Wednesday off because my shoulder hurt, and it was rainy, and I spent the afternoon at a joint birthday/celebration fiesta with some friends.  We were supposed to have a pool party, but of course it was the coldest day we've had in the last 3 weeks so we ended up mostly wearing sweatshirts instead.

Thursday I wanted to ride early in the afternoon, but I also wanted to go on the bike shop's shop ride in the evening, so I did a short ride early on, expecting another 20 or so miles with the shop ride.  I found out in mid afternoon that the shop ride wasn't happening.  That was disappointing, since if I had known earlier, I could have just made my earlier ride longer.  But I hadn't I went for the second ride by myself.  The first ride involved a climb up Muddy Creek Mountain, which is a tough climb, and which I felt was overdue.  The second ride was easier.  

Friday I went for a long(er) ride with a med student I met earlier in the spring, who runs and bikes.  I had originally hoped to run with him, but I'm not running, and he has also been biking lately, so looks like maybe I will have a new biking buddy.  And maybe I will be able to get back into running in another week or two and maybe we can do both together.  Our ride started out well enough, the clouds were almost not raining on us, and we were cruising along a bit faster than my normal pace.  We were also talking, which meant I wasn't as focused on the road as I should be, so I hit a giant rock, and realized soon afterwards that I had my first flat tire.  By then, the rain was pouring down.  I held my bike, he changed my tire much quicker than I could have done it myself (at least I was prepared and had tire levers, a spare tube, and a pump), and we continued on our way.  After a long climb and descent, I glanced at my garmin and realized it wasn't recording.  Somehow I forgot to hit the start button.  Sad not to have the climb recorded, or any evidence of how fast we were going in the beginning, but oh well.  I missed recording the first 12+ miles, but I got the last 17+. The sun eventually came out and we had a great ride.  It was nice to have someone to ride with and talk to out there, and although my legs were hurting from trying to keep up on the hills, overall I felt really good.  My back didn't bother me at all.  

My lack of back pain on Friday made me tempted to do an even longer ride over the weekend, but thankfully I did manage to talk myself out of that.  Just because my back has been feeling great doesn't mean I couldn't easily overdo it and set myself way back.  I took Saturday off and made myself pick a 20-25 mile loop for today.  It was a loop with a couple of tough climbs, but at least it was shorter!  My back ended up hurting, probably because of all the climbing.  And also probably because I forgot to do my yoga stretches before the ride.  I'm pretty sure they are important for keeping my back in one piece.  

In other news, I haven't quite made a decision about my lung issues yet.  My asthma is not bothering me as long as I'm not running, and I'm not sure if I really want to go pay a pulmonologist right now.  My allergies are most definitely awful right now though.  Exercise makes them twice as bad.  I get home from each ride and sneeze up a storm.  And my eyes get so itchy after I get home, I end up trying to claw them out of my face.  I'm already taking Claritin in the morning and Singulair at night. (although I've really never felt that Singulair does anything at all...)  I've heard many times that eating local honey helps with allergies.  I've considered it before, but I loathe honey so much, I've always decided against it.  I decided that it was time to deal with it, so I went down to the local health-food store, sure that they would carry local honey.  Astonishingly, they do not.  But they had some Ohio honey, and swore to me it came from an area with the same allergy-inducing plants that we have here.  Plus, this honey is special for allergy sufferers and includes stuff like herbs and nettles and dandelions that are supposed to also help with allergies.  So I paid a ridiculous amount of money for a tiny jar of the stuff.  And have been suffering though a spoonful of nasty, sweet, crunchy, stuff once a day.  It better be helping...
this pretty much sums it up. every day.

I am in the middle of another attempt to actually take two full weeks off from running.  So hopefully I will manage to hold out and wait until Saturday to run again.  And then I can assess my stupid asthma and decide whether or not to make an appointment with the pulmonologist.