August Recap - no wonder I'm developing rock-hard quads!

(under the squish, of course).  I rode my bike a lot...including these 4 rides:

I had to walk my bike up the last bit of those 2 ginormous hills.  I have never had to dismount and do that, but I simply could not make my pedals turn any more without tipping over.

This ride was awesome...I felt like a million bucks.  I ate those hills for breakfast!

This ride was craptacular.  We had been on the other side of the state the night before and not returned home until the wee hours of the morning.  I did this on 5 hours of sleep.  I finally found my mojo maybe 50 miles in.  The first 2/3 of that ride were rough.

This ride was just 2 days ago.  I was having another fabulous ride for the first 40 miles, or so.  Then I broke a spoke.  Unbeknownst to me for 3 miles I had a rear wheel that was out of true and rubbing on my rear brakes.  I busted my ass (sweatin' like a whore in church in 95º heat) trying to keep up with the front pack of riders on our JDRF group ride.  I finally realized what happened when I came to a stop with a rider who was checking her blood sugar.  My hubby and another group were not too far behind, so I stuck with them for the rest of the day.  We had to release my rear brakes, so I didn't dare try to pedal with the faster paceline group with only half of my brakes functioning (especially with all those hills).

I had a bunch of shorter, less impressive rides in there, too.  And some runs.  I pedaled nearly 616 miles in August and also ran a paltry 61 miles...but it's better than the 18 I ran in July.  And the 39.9 miles run in June, prior to spraining my ankle.

In 12 days I start training for the Vegas "Rock & Roll" Half-Marathon.  I'm planning to start training on 20 miles/week and max-out around 30.  Not high mileage, by any stretch.  But I will continue pedaling ~100 miles/week as long as the weather allows, in addition to upper-body weight and core workouts 2-3x/week.  I'm not looking to PR this race, just to continue to improve my overall fitness with cross-training...and mostly to have a fabulous long weekend with a bunch of girlfriends.  

I'm also continuing to take it easy with my ankle.  While it is improving with every week, it is still far from healed and I have relatively limited range-of-motion vs. my right ankle.  I won't be doing any off-road running for a long time and am really nervous about the effect running on snow and ice will have.   I am terrified to roll it and rolling my ankles is a pretty commonplace occurrence on our often poorly-plowed roads (fluffy snow tends to conceal ice boogers kicked-up by the plows).  I'm hoping to avoid having to pay gym membership to run on the treadmill for the bulk of Winter, but if I have to, I will.  I've already heard a few meteorologists' predictions of a super-snowy Winter like the one we had 2 seasons ago.  I am hoping they are dead wrong.


Only sorta indirectly about running or biking...

Running and biking are viable methods of transportation during zombie apocalypse...at least according to Rule #1 in Zombieland...  Halloween cannot come soon enough.  I already have plans to collapse on the sofa with a few beers and heavily buttered popcorn for 90 minutes as this airs.


Back to life...back to reality...

That was one of my favorite tunes back in the late 80s.  I guess that makes me old when a 20 year old song still seems "modern."

That song title really sums-up how I feel today.  What a crazy, long, exhausting, fun weekend.

EARLY Saturday AM found DH sending-off the One Day Ride Across MI (ODRAM) (From the shore of Lake MI in Montague across to the shore of Lake Huron in Bay City) folks.  After the riders had all left he came home, showered, loaded our bikes into the car, and we headed-off to follow the course (dropped DS off at grandma's on the way out), see if any riders needed assistance, and finish painting the last bit of the course before riders came through.

It was a beautiful day for a road trip.  Really cool to see most of the riders out on those backroads in the middle of MI, too.  The lead guy actually finished before we were able to complete painting.  His average pace was 19mph, which is FAST for 147 miles.  I don't bike that fast for 10 miles!  He has done the ride before, from the sound of it, and claimed that he was having an off day and has been faster in the past.  Wow.

I helped unload the food and drinks for the post-ride BBQ from our friend Rob's SUV and then Derek and I headed backwards on the course to see if we could meet up with friends and ride with them back towards the finish.  I wanted to ride 25-30 miles, so the plan was to go 12-15 miles, then turn back if we didn't find anyone.

12.4 miles in we met up with our friends Cindy and Herb.  We turned-around and rolled back with them.  They were both wiped-out and sore, but seemed to really appreciate the company and the pull into the finish.  Not long afterwards other friends of ours rolled-in.  This group rode BACK to this side of the state, yesterday (they called it MARDO: Mad Ass Ride Do-Over...with good reason.  294 miles in 2 days will certainly make one's butt and nether-regions REALLY angry).

The BBQ was really nice and gave the riders a chance to relax with each other, since many never met at the start or along the course.  At 8pm a chartered bus took many riders back to their vehicles at the start (others had friends or family provide SAG support along the course and a ride back home afterwards).

I think I will do this ride, next year.  At least one friend who rides at about the same pace I do (and is hilarious and super fun to spend hours with) is planning on riding next year, so I would have company.

Derek and I left just before 8:30 to make the trip home.  We decided to stick mostly to interstates to get home, figuring that would be faster, but we likely would have saved time by retracing the course.  MI has lots of great North-South interstates, but almost nothing that goes directly East-West, unfortunately.  The route we took angled up to the NW, then we had to drop a long ways South to get home.  Our actual drive time was probably in the 3 hour neighborhood.  It was a long, dark, exhausting drive home. Our in-car time for the day was ~8 hours.

By the time we arrived home, unpacked the car a bit, showered (since we didn't shower after our ride on the end of the course, simply changed out of our cycling gear), and got to sleep it was approaching 2am.  No biggie, except for the fact that yesterday we had plans to take part in a challenging, hilly 75 mile bike ride (the MOST: Muskegon-Oceana Scenic Tour).

So when I was awakened by a text message at 7am I was in rough shape.  I still had to get to the store to pick up a few things, get dressed, and eat breakfast before we could ride.  Hubby and I wanted to leave the house by 9 to bike over to the tour start a mile away to meet with friends.

We arrived at the start and got off a bit late (one friend was running behind, which was fine...everyone got in extra potty stops before we rolled).  Those early miles were rough (hilly and with a brutal headwind). Never have I felt so completely lacking in energy and strength on a ride.  I hit a bit of a 2nd wind just after the first SAG stop, which was good.  Green grapes seem to be magical.

I felt better as the ride went on, but it was still not my most enjoyable ride, ever.  In some ways it was harder than my first century ride.  I was so run-down and the hills and wind really took a lot out of me.  Thankfully the last third or so of the ride is less hilly and the wind was no longer in our faces.

Because it was a tour with 3 distances the lunch stop was fairly late in the day for the 75 milers.  We only had about 13 miles to go after lunch.  Getting some solid calories and protein in me really made a difference, though.  I felt a lot stronger for those last 13 miles than I did for the first 13.  It didn't hurt that we had a good tailwind, some gradual downhill grade, and were on familiar riding routes for me.

Instead of going back to the start I headed home (still got in the full 75 miles) so that I could shower and get our babysitter home.  Derek met back with our friends at the starting point, then returned home to find out that our MARDO friends were not too far away.  So he rode back out to meet them and ride them in.  He managed 113 miles for the day, I believe.

So today is a little surreally quiet after the excitement of the previous 2 days.  I had plans to do my upper body weight workout and a short run, but I think I will manage only the run.  The left side of my neck is sore...I think from a combo of too much time in the car, yesterday's ride, and sleeping too much on my left side while in my coma-like sleep, last night.  Even with a solid night of sleep I still can't seem to ingest enough caffeine to make me feel fully awake.


I fink I has a cold

Maybe not...could just be weirdness and allergies from the drastic change in weather. Within a couple of hours we went from muggy, dog-days-of-Summer sort of weather pattern to something that feels very much like the first days of Fall. The humidity dropped at least 30# and the air temps by about 10 degrees.

Last night I had horrible sinus pain and pressure and some sneezing, which I figured was due to the change in barometric pressure and maybe seasonal allergens blowing around ('tis the season). But today I have felt run-down and that feeling is increasing as the day wears. I've started coughing a little, too...which is never a good sign.

Yesterday I had a fabulous bike ride with the hubby and some of the JDRF gang. The ride was actually 2 segments...a 31 mile, relatively hill segment with a brief break before we headed out for 41 flatter, breezy miles. I felt strong and had a great time motoring up the hills and blasting on a few flat sections and down hills during the first 31, then pacelining with 4 guys for most of the last 41 (I'm finding that I am WAY more badass on a bike than I am in a pair of running shoes...huh).

So why should I have gone from feeling like a mighty lion yesterday to a meek lamb today? This reminds me of one of my strongest runs in marathon training last Fall. I can clearly remember having one of the best 18 mile runs of my life. I felt like I had wings and ran fast (for me) and easy through a rainstorm. It was one of the most memorable and strong runs of my life.

24 hours later I was feeling like I'd been run-over by a double-decker bus and ended up sick for the better part of the following week. These are not the only 2 instances of this in my running/biking "career." Several times that I have had really strong workouts or races I have hit a complete stall of my immune system just a day or two later.

My theory has been that a virus is already in my system and my body presents such a strong immune attack that I am given a brief window of extra strength before my immune system forces me to shut-down so that it can properly take out the viral offenders. It could also be related to not sleeping well during the recent hot-spell. Our window unit in our bedroom kept the room fairly cool, but still very stuffy and stale. During the day I sat around in the rest of the hot house and did my workouts in the heat and sauna-like humidity. As soon as the weather eased-up my body seems to take the opportunity to force me into solid rest.

Better now than later in the week. In 6 days I am doing a HILLY 75 mile bike tour. So resting up now is a good thing. Though this may mean my 2nd consecutive week of missing the Tues. night women's ride. Last week was hot and I felt anti-social...this week I may just be too under-the-weather to manage the paceline workout.

Today I did manage a 40 minute strength/core-training workout and an easy 4 mile run. I was feeling pretty run-down after that, though. And it took a lot of motivation to get moving (though I felt good while actually working out). The run was pretty nice on a breezy, 75º afternoon with low humidity. A quarter of a mile from finishing a guy in a big SUV expressed his, um, approval with a whoohoo and a thumbs-up out the window. Some days that sort of leering would offend my feminist sensibilities, but today it seemed like a legitimate compliment from a stranger.

It also helped that earlier I had seen a photo taken of me yesterday that had me feeling pretty crappy about the state of my mom-flubber squishing out the snug top of my bike shorts and my soft-looking arms (concealing the developing "guns" within). Perhaps I look better than I think I do...


And the Cool Parents Award goes to...

US!  Or it will in another 5 weeks or so.  A couple of days ago DH pulled the trigger on this:

I think the sample in the photo shows it with mountain bike wheels.  Ours will have the larger and slimmer (and faster) 700cc road wheels.  But that is roughly the color we ordered.  A while back we were talking about ordering this tandem and DS wanted that color and turquoise handlebar tape.

We were thisclose to ordering it maybe a month ago...then within the span of a week BOTH of our cars threw check engine lights (we suspect they are in kahootz to keep bikes from displacing them...and, seriously...if DH didn't have a 30 minute commute each way we would be a 1 car family, for certain).  DH's car needed new brakes and an O2 sensor.  Mine ended up with a new gas cap, but within a week or so of replacing that it's triggering a new and somewhat different CEL--something related to the evaporation/fuel-fill area.  Screw it.  In a few months it will be due for its 60k mile service, so we're waiting until then to dump anymore money into either of our cars.

That bike will be so sweet.  The plan is that DH will always ride captain (front), since the bike will be too large for me to ride up front (this is the downside of having nearly a foot difference in height between us), but that telescopic rear seat can accommodate riders from 3'6" - 6'2".  So most of the time Dane will ride on the back and I will ride my bike, solo.  The boys will KICK my butt on downhills, for certain.  But it sure will be nice to be able to go do 30-40 mile rides as a family and not have to find childcare.

Last night I had no mojo and didn't feel social, so I skipped the usual 30 mile women's group ride and did a ride by myself.  It was really nice.  I didn't have to keep up with the fast group paceline or poke along with the slow.  I went my own pace and enjoyed the setting sun and sound of crickets.

Today was warm and muggy.  I managed a 4 mile run--and lost 2#s of fluids in the process.  I arrived back home feeling like someone had dumped a quart of water on me, but it was my own sweat.  After I cooled-off and changed into cycling clothes I went out for a nice 25 miles on my bike.  Now I am ready to zonk-out.  I'm really ready for some cooler, less-humid Fall weather.  This steamy weather pattern of late has really started to wear on me.


Coffee 2.0

Wow...I am SO tired.  Sofa king tired, even.  I have had 2 tall travel mugs of coffee and still feel like I was in the losing end of a fight.  I slept 9 hours...HARD.  I don't feel like I slept a wink.  And this is why...

72 hilly, windy miles are harder than 100 flat-ish, hot, humid miles in some ways (the very top of those 2 big, steep hills were the first 2 times I have ever been forced to stop and walk.  It was that or fall-down when I couldn't pedal enough to maintain vertical).  The morning after my century ride 3 weeks ago I wasn't sore and had plenty of energy...the 25 mile recovery ride the next day felt great.  Today I have a 6 mile run on the agenda and I'm kinda dreading it.  My pillow is looking a LOT more attractive than my running shoes.

In 2 weeks I will be doing a 75 mile tour on some of those same roads we rode yesterday, though sans those 2 hills (DH dubbed them 'Up-F*cker 1 & 2' with good reason).  Hallelujah!

I'm sure some of my exhaustion is due to not sleeping well in the past week.  I had several nights where I developed an annoying 2nd wind at bedtime, which had me wired until 1am or so, then had to be up at 7:30 to get the kiddo off to day camp.

We were all up too late Thursday night after seeing fiddler Natalie MacMaster, with opening act -- Greensky Bluegrass (a local band that I have had the pleasure of seeing once before).  They performed at the Meijer Gardens...my very favorite place in all of West Michigan.

It was a great show from start to finish.  We first became familiar with Natalie's fiddle playing when we picked up one of her CDs in a used CD store in Halifax, Nova Scotia during our honeymoon 13 years ago.

DS loved the show...his first real concert.  The amazing outdoor venue only added to the experience.  I'm so thankful to have such a beautiful place in my backyard.  The cold beer, crickets chirping and the setting sun really added to the beauty of the night.  Plus we had great seats up front on the grass.  The heat and humidity of previous days had broken, so conditions were simply perfect.

I think we are going to have to make a commitment to attend at least one concert at FMG every Summer.  It was a truly wonderful, almost magical experience.


Good Stuff

I had a really nice past week, capped-off by a wonderful weekend. So many highlights...running, biking, more running, more biking. And a big red velvet cupcake with loads of fluffy, white icing. YUM!

I had that really fun Tues. night ride, followed by 4 easy miles on-foot on Weds. I am so pleased that after the initial block or two of "oh, man...this still feels kinda weak/stiff/sore" things loosen-up and my ankle more-or-less feels pretty strong.

Thursday's workout was 50 minutes of Cathe Friedrich's Muscle Max workout...all of the upper-body and abdominal work. I had not done this workout in ages. I've been mainly doing her Muscle Endurance workout, which is challenging, but involves lighter weights and higher reps. There was some grunting and whimpering going on in our living room on Thurday, to be honest. But it hurt so good. Now I'm starting to sport some teeny-tiny arm muscles--woot!

Friday I logged what I think was my longest and fastest solo ride--just over 45 miles at an average of 16mph (I'd really love to see what my pace would be like if I never had to take corners or stop at stop signs...or slow going through town).

Yesterday I did a short upper body and abs workout, then ran 5.3 miles (at roughly my pre-sprain pace...and that was during cooler, less humid weather). The run was great, except for the rubbing on the bottom of my left arch from my ankle brace. I think my days of running with the brace are numbered. I'm a bit hesitant to run without it, but I can't imagine going further than 5 miles with that thing on.

Today was the end of the weekend, but a great start to this week. I rode 56.3 miles with the JDRF group. We enjoyed a varied course with some pretty, rural scenery. I felt especially strong for this ride, even though the first few pedal strokes felt sorta iffy. We got lost a few times and a few of us overshot a turn and ended up riding an extra 5 miles or so, but the cupcakes (and chips, fruit, veggies, cole slaw, and hot dogs) at the end were reward for the extra calories burned.

My last couple of rides (totaling 100 miles, so a good distance to determine whether something works comfortably or doesn't work) have been with the stem on my bike "flipped," so that my handlebars can sit lower. But I still often feel like I want to be even less upright, so it may be time to remove some spacers (the little rings) from underneath my stem, slide the stem down, and put the spacers back on top.

The photo at left is not of my bike, but it demonstrates the area of my bike that will be adjusted.  The stem is the part in the photo with WCS.  By flipping the stem one way or the other one can adjust the angle of the handlebars up or down by a few degrees.  By removing spacers one can then move the stem down a few cm.s, then the spacers go back on top of the stem and under the top cap.  This avoids permanently cutting the length of the metal tube under the spacers and stem...just in case one wants to be more upright in the future, or eventually sell a bike to someone who would want to be more upright.

I was concerned that flipping the stem could make using the drops more difficult, but it has actually made riding in that position MORE comfortable.  Before I felt like I had to arch my back to get my arms and hands where they needed to be.  Now my posture feels neutral and comfortable.  I can go a lot faster when I'm in the drops, too.  I'm really looking forward to some duathlons next year--to really make use of that position on the bike.

All this tweaking has confirmed that my next bike should have somewhat more aggressive geometry that will allow me a more "aero" position on the bike without having to lower things so much from stock.