Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dunes Du Pics

Here are the pictures from the Dunes Du...

This is me with my award.

Here's Tammy after her finish.

And here are Jared and Tammy - successful completers of their first duathlon. Thanks for doing the race with me! Woo!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Dunes Duathlon 2009 Race Report

The Dunes Duathlon this Saturday may have been under gray skies, but it was a total blast! I either got 2nd or 3rd in my age group, depending on which results you look at. The day of the race, they named me third, but the results that they emailed us today named me second. Either way, I'm not complaining! I'm very happy.

I really felt great out there during the whole race. It was a good day.

The race was small - about 150 people total. We did a mass start, which really created a feeling of commeradery - everyone taking off down a little stretch of road, then turning onto the trail into the woods. They told told us before the race that if we didn't fall down in the sand or over a root somewhere, that we weren't running hard enough. What fun!

During the five mile trail run, I was able to keep up a good pace. I feel like the constant ups and downs of the dunes kept me interested and distracted from how running actually felt. I would stretch it out on the downhills, and then just push up the uphills without letting myself slow down too much. And the adrenaline of running with other people helped, too.

It was a really fun trail running course - except for the two LONG uphills through the sandy dunes area. Fortunately, everyone ahead of me walked up those hills, so I didn't feel bad doing the same. It's funny when you think, "I'll walk a little up this hill and catch my breath," but then at the top you never caught your breath at all. Yeah, sand! My shoes were so full of sand after those hills that I actually contemplated stopping to take them off and dump them out! And in the midst of all this contemplation, I missed the split second opportunity where we skirted the edge of the woods for a few feet and could look up and see lake Michigan beyond the beach. Oh, well. I'm told it was a blur of gray skies and gray waves.

Then suddenly, I rounded a corner and popped out of the woods into the transition area. I know I ran 5 miles, but it didn't feel that long. That's a good thing! So, I trotted over to my bike, changed into my cycling shoes, helmet, gloves and sunglasses and snarfed down half a granola bar. Then I jogged my bike across the timing mat and hit the road.

My time for the run plus transition was 46:44. I'm sure I was in the transition area for more than 1:44, so that means I ran under 9 minute miles. Not bad for so little running preparation before the race.

I had lots of energy left when I got on the bike, so I just settled into my drops and kept a steady burn in my legs for the whole 17 miles. The race organizers stopped traffic for us at intersections, which was awesome! I may not have ridden much during the last month of the summer, but I still felt strong on the road bike. I completed the bike portion of the race in 57:40, which works out to something like a 17.7 mph pace.

My total time for the race was 1:44:24 for a place of 100th overall. That was well under my goal time!

I liked the distance of this race. It was long enough to feel challenged, but not so long that I didn't feel like I could actually push myself the whole time. I want to do another duathlon! It was so much fun!

My co-worker, Jared, and his wife, Tammy, also did the race with me. They attempted their first triathlon a couple weeks ago and both had to stop during the swim. So, they were eager to finish the duathlon for a little bit of redemption.

Jared said that he kept me in his sights for most of the run, but lost me toward the end. Tammy was having some foot and ankle trouble, so she just kept a slow and steady pace to be careful of her footing. She came in 4th in her age group. Jared made up some time on me in the bike portion, and ended up rolling across the line about 2:40 after me. Nice work, you two!

Jared took some pictures of us at the race, which I'll post as soon as he sends them to me.

Even though it looks like most duathlons are in a run + bike + run again format, which I don't like as much as the run + bike, I am definitely going to plan to try a couple more duathlons next summer! I'm sure I'll find some fun ones with more trail running and great scenery. That's one of the great things about Michigan.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Almost duathlon day

Not much to report today. I ran 3 miles last night. I'm tired today, so I think I might take tonight off - ride motorcycles with my hubby - and maybe do my last pre-duathlon workout tomorrow. Then I'll take Friday off and be fresh and ready Saturday morning!

It's also official - my coworker and his wife are doing the race. It'll be encouraging to have someone else I know out there doing the course. When I told my father-in-law that I was doing the Dunes Duathlon, he said, "Oh! That's a hard run! Lots of hills and sand." I was like, "Thanks for the encouragement, Dad!" Just what I needed. ;)

But I feel ready for the race. Not really ready, but I-can-finish-it ready. I'm actually looking forward to it. Now to ward off the forecasted thunder showers...

Dunes Duathlon - September 26, 9:30am, Saugatuck Dunes State Park

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I'm not 18 anymore

In my best Seinfeld voice, "What's up with aging?!"

I don't know if it's because: 1) my body isn't used to running a lot of miles anymore, 2) I ran for too many years with terrible form, 3) my running shoes are worn out, or 4) I'm just getting older, but during my 4.75 mile run last night my feet, knees and hips were all protesting.

I'm not even 30 yet.

I'm going with options 1-3. I'm sure that's it.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Healthy weekend

After wondering if I was coming down with a cold last week, I took it easy Friday and did nothing athletic. I also got a good night's sleep. And it worked, because whatever was making my sinuses run has gone away completely. Yah!

Saturday, the hubby and I had a wedding to go to in the afternoon, so I knew I didn't have time for a long bike ride. But I got up early enough in the morning to go for a three mile run. For the second time this summer, a church was having their outreach day and handing out bottles of cold water along the bike path. I really appreciate that - especially on a warm, sunny day like Saturday.

Sunday was a gloriously unscheduled day! The hubby and I woke up relatively early and enjoyed a long day without anything official planned. I got some house cleaning done, then decided to go on a bike ride. I wanted to do the distance of the bike portion of next week's duathlon at a good pace. The problem was, I didn't know where I could ride that I wouldn't have to stop for too many cross streets, driveways or dog walkers.

My hubby suggested a route in Ada that he used to ride when he was preparing for triathlons, so I tried that. It was a bike path along a loop of not-so-busy roads. Even here, I still had to stop or slow down a lot, but I got a good workout nonetheless.

The ride yesterday served to strengthen my frustration with drivers that don't pay attention. It's made me paranoid that every car that crosses my path is not looking at me. On the one hand, this keeps me safe because I'm prepared for drivers to ignore me. On the other hand, it's anxiety causing and just plain wrong.

What irritates me even more than drivers that don't pay attention for cyclists is drivers that live on a bike path that don't pay attention for cyclists. When you're driveway crosses a highly used bike path, shouldn't you have learned to pay attention? Especially after an entire summer of young couples walking or biking with their kids and serious club riders flying by from the nearby bike shop? Shouldn't these people - at the very least - get it?

Sigh. I'd write to our mayor to plead for more education about cyclists for motorists, but he's already a strong advocate for bikes in our city. I know change takes time. I just hope no one gets hit by a car in the mean time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bike path: tunnel of blackness

After running again Wednesday night (about 4 miles), I was eager to do a good solid bike ride last night. I wanted to do either a 25 mile ride to get a little distance in or a 17 mile ride working on maintaining a good, hard pace.

While I did go for a bike ride last night, I didn't actually meet either of those goals. By the time I got out on the trail, it was so dark that my little bike light barely dented the black. I could be seen, but I couldn't see! Every time I rounded a corner, I yelled "bike coming!" just in case someone was doing some spy-like stealthy dog walking ahead or a deer was thinking about darting out across the path.

So, after about 7 agonizingly slow miles of debating between riding the super dark bike path and the illuminated but scary roads, I decided that neither was a good idea and gave up on getting a good work out.

I'm sure this weekend will offer an opportunity to ride, though!

Maybe you all can weigh in on another debate in my mind. Yesterday, I felt like I might be getting a cold. It's not bad yet - just a little sniffle. With the duathlon just slightly over a week away, I feel like I need to do some good training. However, I don't want to push too hard if it means that I end up sick for the race. Resting could be the better choice. How would you balance rest and training this week?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Grand Rapids Bike Park

I just learned about another cool Grand Rapids cycling development today from pedalgr. The Michigan Mountain Biking Association is building the Grand Rapids Bike Park in Plaster Creek Park near Burton and US-131. It will sort of surround the BMX track (which I also did not know was there).

This will be another cool set of trails to mountain bike here in GR - and it's only about 7 miles from my house. I look forward to its completion this fall, so I can check it out!

Mark your calendars - Grand Rapids Tweed Ride

First, I really want to report on my great day yesterday. I commuted by bike to work - 7.3 miles. Then, since my hubby was out of town and he already saw the movie "9", which I've been eager to see, I went to the film by myself. "9" was fun, but not everything I had hoped for. The end was particularly weak compared to the rest of the film. Then after the movie, I ran 5 miles. Running at night seems to be the key to a great run for me. Maybe it's the coolness of the air and a preceding day full of hydration. My hope is that the morning of the duathlon will be about the same temperature, and I'll feel just as good. So I got to both ride my bike and run yesterday - good day!

Speaking of the duathlon, my co-worker and his wife have been training all summer for the Reeds Lake Triathlon, which took place this past Saturday. They were both disappointed to have to stop during the swim, so I think I may have talked them into doing the Dunes Duathlon as a way to take advantage of all the training they've been doing. Soooo...even though I've been feeling pretty iffy about doing the duathlon myself, I may do it anyway since they're going to be there. I figured, if I can get some good workouts in this week and take it easier next week, I should be OK by the 26th. Not great - not the kind of shape I had hoped to be in - but OK. So I'm leaning back toward doing the race. If I can keep having runs like the one last night, I think I'll have fun out on the dunes.

And finally! The most exciting part of this post...

I've been reading about the Tweed Rides in Chicago over at Let's Go Ride a Bike, and I've been really jealous that I can't go to them. They sound like so much fun! Dressing up in wool like fancy English men and women and riding around the city with fellow cyclists, eating and drinking at the pubs...what a blast!

Well, Cupcakerator, another GR bike lover, informed me of our very own Grand Rapids Tweed Ride taking place on Saturday, October 3 at 4:00pm, riding from The Winchester (I can't help but think of "Shawn of the Dead" whenever I hear that name) to HopCat.

(Photo is from Let's Go Ride a Bike from the first Chicago Tweed Ride.)

October 3rd is my hubby's birthday, so maybe I can talk him into doing the ride as part of our celebrations!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't

Isn't it weird how some days you feel like you were born to run and other days it's torture?

My run Wednesday night was one of those great runs that makes you feel strong like the wind is always at your back. Your legs stride effortlessly as if you were skating on a cloud. But then...

My hubby had a crummy day yesterday, sitting through a long meeting with the most difficult, mean, self consumed person I've ever heard of. So to blow off some stress, I proposed we go for a run.

This run felt like dragging a fifty pound ball and chain by each ankle. Every step forward was an act of pure will. As we trudged our way down the bike path, I wondered why this low extreme had to invade my cloud skating fantasy of running.

On the plus side, the two of us mimed beating up the mean meeting woman with our mad phat karate skills. That was pretty hilarious and made my hubby feel way better. But the running itself was truly uninspiring.

While I can hardly believe that I've actually run several days this week, I'm missing the bike. I promise I'll get back in the saddle and report more bike related antics soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chip, I'm all jacked up on Mountain Dew!

Last night, I got to spend a couple hours catching up with my friend, Cat, at a local coffee shop. She's already completed the 100 Grand with me in June, then the Steelhead Triathlon in July and now she's running the Park2Park half marathon in Holland, MI the same day that I'm planning to do the Dunes Duathlon. She's an athletic powerhouse who feels no pain. Seriously.

It was great catching up on all the new things in our lives - service trips, motorcycles, thinking about mortality, marriage, friends having kids...

I didn't think I'd fit a workout in last. I wasn't even planning on it. In fact, as I sat in a big comfy chair at the coffee shop, I caught myself rubbing my sleepy eyes.

But on the way home, the 12 ounces of caffeinated carmel latte must have kicked in because I really felt like going for a run! When that feeling comes on, I figure I'd better just do it, because how often do you really WANT to go for run?

Since it was already dark out, I hit an easy pace and explored a new, well-lit 3 mile course that wove through a large apartment community near my house. It was warm and humid, but a slight breeze and the smell of recent rain made the air really refreshing. Runs like that remind me why I participated in this masochistic sport for so many years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Not the weekend I expected

The plan for this Labor Day weekend was to drive to Detroit to visit my dad for a couple days, then come back home and get in a couple good workouts, some motorcycle riding and a lawn mowing. Things didn't work out exactly like that.

The hubby and I got a call Friday night from a good college friend saying that he and his wife had lost their newborn baby. The funeral was going to be Saturday morning in Toledo, OH. So we drove to Detroit, spent the night at my dad's house and got up early to drive to Toledo for the funeral. It was so sad.

Once we got back to my dad's house, we had a pretty good time. We BBQ'ed, played cards, went bowling and visited my grandparents. On the down side, Grandpa is progressing into dementia and is getting physically weaker. It's a big stress on my grandma and my dad. I was glad to visit them while I had the chance.

On Sunday, we drove back home and did some grocery shopping, then hit the sack tired from the travel and emotional drains of the weekend.

Monday, my in-laws came over on their motorcycle and we all went for a ride. That was my longest time on the bike yet, and it was fun! My hubby said the funniest thing about me riding motorcycles - I'm now the boy that my parents always warned me about. LOL I thought that was hilarious! I also got a 4 mile run in on Monday. But I never got on my bicycle during the whole weekend. I didn't get to the long-overdue lawn mowing either. The weekend just wasn't long enough.

Looking at my inadequate workout schedule these past couple weeks, I'm beginning to feel like I may not be ready by the time the duathlon rolls around. My bike stamina decreases each week that I only get in the saddle once - if that. Running longer than three miles feels crappy, and I know it will take running nearly every day to get stronger at 5 and 6 mile distances. I really want to do the Dunes Duathlon, but I want to complete it feeling strong, not out-of-shape. I know I can get my fitness back up, but in two and a half weeks? I'm not so sure right now. It might have to wait till next year.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Lunch hour workout

Now that the hubby and I have gotten our motorcycle endorsements, we've been super busy after work riding with a friend and looking for bikes. As a result, I haven't had much time to get out for my workouts.

So today I decided to run 5 miles on my lunch hour. It worked out well schedule wise, but it was warm and I'm not used to the mileage. It felt pretty crummy, but that's how you get stronger at first - just doing the miles.

Tomorrow I'll be back on my bicycle. I am looking forward to that!