Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Working out is more fun when you don't have to

The hubby and I have both been on vacation from work for a week now, and it's been awesome! 

We've been spending a bunch of time going through all the stuff in our basement that just got shoved in there when we bought our house a year ago.  We dropped off a car load of stuff at Good Will today, and the garbage we put out Sunday night made it look like we were just moving in.  I have a vision of an organized, spacious basement, and it's wonderful!

We also worked out at the gym today - weight lifting followed by cardio.  It was a fun workout time together.  We both felt so good after. 

It's been a very productive week.  Isn't it funny how much more enjoyable being productive is when you don't actually have to do anything?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bigger TV

I rode 10 miles on my trainer again yesterday, and I can still say that I like it as much as I did the first time.  The hubby came downstairs to check it out and thought it was cool.  I said he should get another one and set it up right next to me.  That didn't get a response.  lol

He did say, though, that I shouldn't be watching my tiny little college dorm room TV.  I should be watching the BIG one!  Maybe he'll help me heft that monster up on the table so I can do just that.

On a side note, I'm going to have to start thinking about a triathlon training plan pretty soon.  I'd like to start training by the end of January.  Sixteen weeks should be more than enough.  I keep trying to sign up for the Ann Arbor Tri, but the registration website is not fully functional yet.  I'll keep my eye on it, though!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The trainer arrived!

As you can see from my last post, I watched the UPS tracking page for my trainer shipment all morning at work yesterday.  And when I pulled up in my driveway, I was ecstatic to see a big "Giant" box sitting next to my garage door!  I immediately carried my new Giant Cyclotron Auto II down to my basement to inspect.

Here's what came inside the box (the chopping block was sold separately, but the good people at Kozy's Cyclery were smart and just shipped it right in the trainer box).

I had planned on taking step-by-step photos of the setup process, but it was honestly so simple that before I new it, the thing was done!

Essentially, all I had to do was trade out my rear quick release skewer for the one that came with the trainer.  Then I closed the brackets around the quick release and locked the unit in place.

Next I adjusted the resistance drum so that it contacted the rear wheel and finally set the front wheel on the chopping block to level the bike out.

It was that easy! 

Then for my own personal enjoyment, I switched my computer sensor from the front wheel to the rear, so I could watch my speed and distance during workouts.  I also set up a small TV and DVD player in front of the bike so I can watch movies or workout videos.  I need some kind of distraction without scenery to keep me on my toes.

And finally, I was ready to give the Giant Cyclotron Auto II a try!  I rode about 10 miles and shifted through various gears to feel it out.  The first thing I noticed wat how stable I felt.  The bike did not move under me at all.  I will feel very comfortable working hard on this machine without worrying about falling over, sliding around or hurting my bike.

Secondly, I noticed that the resistance adjusted to the gear that I rode in.  A higher gear produced greater resistance and vice versa.  Before trying it, I wondered if the higher gears would just feel really easy, but they do not!  The resistance is strong, and I was working up a sweat almost immediately.  It was also quite nice not to have to worry about adjusting the resistance settings part way through a workout.  The "auto" aspect of this trainer is highly convenient.

Finally, as other online reviews have said, this trainer is pretty quiet.  I set it up in the basement, and I'm sure someone upstairs wouldn't be able to hear it.  I also had no trouble hearing my tiny little TV speaker.

So after my first ride, I'm very happy with this trainer.  Setup was incredibly easy and took me about 10 minutes.  Riding is comfortable, quiet, stable and challenging.  I'd highly recommend this model to others.  And at the sale price of $200 (regular $250), I think I've gotten a great value for my money.

I love having the option to ride my own bike indoors now and to not have to go out to the gym when the weather is particularly bad.  More review to come as I put this trainer to use!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Out for delivery

Forgive my geekiness...but my trainer is on the UPS truck for delivery right now!  I hope they leave it by the door if I'm not home.  Otherwise, I am definitely going to pick it up at the distribution center ASAP.  Woot!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Birthday Present

My big Three-Oh is coming up this Sunday!  I've already been getting birthday cards in the mail from my wonderful family members.  As a result, I've collected enough gift cashola to order my long awaited bike trainer!  I'm so geeked!  *girly squeel*

After some research, I decided to go with one of the trainers that Bicycling Magazine reviewed - the Giant Cyclotron Auto II.  It auto-adjusts resistence and hopefully will not have any issues fitting with my Giant bike.  Wouldn't it be ironic if it did?

Plus, I found it on sale at a bike shop called Kozy's Cyclery in Chicago.  Hopefully, I'll see that wonderful package sitting on my front porch before the New Year.  Maybe even by Christmas!  When I've had a chance to try the trainer out, I'll do a little review.

Bike + Trainer = Happy Me!

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Elves give 1000 bikes to Grand Rapids kids

One of our local news channels reports on this cool act of kindness in Grand Rapids:

"Dozens of volunteers are working feverishly to assemble 1,000 bicycles for a fifth annual Christmas bike giveaway.  The charitable group, Elves and More sponsors the event and is assisted by the Grand Rapids Police Department.  The bicycles will be distributed early Saturday morning to children in a top secret neighborhood in Grand Rapids."

Yah, bikes for kids!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mark your calendars: Snowcat Alleycat

I saw this on http://urbanvelo.org today and thought I'd pass it on to any Grand Rapids area readers.  For more info follow this link.  I hope I'll be able to go!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Back to the gym

The roads and sidewalks have been all slushy and slippery, which has kept me indoors for the past couple weeks no matter how much I've wanted to get out for a run or a ride.  I've also been craving heavy, carby, warm foods.  It's the wintery weather.  As a result, I feel like a squirrel trying to fatten up for hibernation.  I doubt I've actually gained any weight.  It's just that I feel sluggish and squishy, if you know what I mean.

So, the hubby went to a friend's house last night to play WarHammer, and I took the opportunity to go to the dreaded gym.  I rode 6 miles on the exercise bike, stretched, ran 3 miles on the treadmill and stretched some more.  It was a good hour of cardio during which I watched some news and most of an episode of "House."  The stories in that episode keep lingering in my memory today for some reason.  I also saw a commerical for the next season of American Idol, which apparently starts soon.  Ellen Degeneres is going to be a new judge.  I may have to add that to my list of guilty-gym-TV-watching pleasures this year.

I also got to try out my new pair of running shoes, which my mom bought for me this weekend during our birthday/Christmas shopping outing.  After the second mile, I started to feel a few places rubbing uncomforably.  I'll have to give them a few more miles of testing and then decide whether to take them back and try a different pair.  If I'm going to be training for races next summer, I want some shoes that fit right.  Blusters and lost toenails are a cool badge of accomplishment and all, but I've been there done that.  I don't need a repeat performance.

After my great workout, I went home and snacked on strawberry cobbler and roast beef (strange combination but that's what sounded good).  I probably ate all the calories that I'd just burned off all over again.  Oh well.  Welcome to gym season!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

I think I might be crazy

I'm a big fan of Bicycling magazine (also Mountain Biking, which often comes with it).  I've had a subscription for a couple years now.  Whenever I read about people's stories of cycling, getting healthier, accomplishing things they didn't know they could, new bikes and gear, fun rides, tours all over the world, charities they've created...it all gets me excited about cycling.  It's like bike porn (except having nothing to do with sex)!

When the hubby and I travelled to St. Louis a couple months ago, I bought a copy of Runners World in the airport.  It gave me the same sense of concentrated fitness reading joy as Bicycling, so I decided to subscribe.  I've received issues for two months now, and it's got me thinking about things that I normally think are crazy.  Like running a marathon.  I did a half marathon a few years ago, and I thought that was enough.  But now there's this new athletic accomplishment that I'm starting to think I can and want to do.  On top of the new athletic accomplishments that I've already decided to make a goal of doing.  What the heck?!  What's wrong with me?  ;)

So my dilemma is that I have too many new things that I want to try next summer.  I just can't fit them all in.  I've been trying to narrow down the list of events that I want to do, because I know I can't fit the training in for everything.  Here's what I'm considering:
  • The Ann Arbor Triathlon.  I was so inspired to try a tri at the end of this summer, that I'm bound and determined to do one in the early summer of 2010.  The Ann Arbor Tri includes a trail run which is fun, is close to my mom's house and takes place on June 6.
  • The Muddy Buddy Detroit (or Chicago).  My friend, Cat, introduced me to these fun 2-person run/mountain bike/obstacle/mud pit races, and they sound like a total blast.  I'd really like to race one with her.  The Detroit is on July 11 and the Chicago is on August 1.
  • The Dunes Duathlon.  This is the one I did in September and won second in my age group.  It was so much fun, that I really want to do it again and see how I stack up in the next higher age group.  This race is on September 18.
  • The Iceman Cometh Challenge.  Also at the tail end of the season this year, I got pretty excited about mountain biking.  I intend to do more of it next summer.  So, my co-worker introduced me to the Iceman, a 28-mile mountain bike ride in northern Michigan on November 6, and we're planning to put together a team to ride it.
  • I'm also considering throwing in any of the following depending on how I feel at that time: the Stealcase Duathlon (April 25), the Tri Del Sol (July 17), the Holland Hundred again (July ?), the Reeds Lake Triathlon (September ?), an XTERRA event and the Grand Rapids Marathon (October ?).
I think doing a triathlon, then a couple duathlon type events, then a bike race makes sense training-wise.  I won't be training in primarily one sport and then trying to switch sports mid-summer.  And I've got a good 4 or 5 months through the winter and spring to get ready for the first event in June, and then I can just maintain that fitness through the summer.

I just don't see training for a marathon in all of that.  I'd want 4-6 months after I had already been running regularly for a while to feel confident about a 26 miler.  Sigh.  Maybe I'll have to wait till 2011.  Or maybe I'll come to my senses before then and decide that running a marathon is not a merit badge that I really need.  Or maybe I'll burn out in July and throw all the planned events out the window in favor of riding and running for just plane fun.  I guess we'll see!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Running with Chief

The hubby and I have been dog sitting for my in-laws this week.  They have a 2-year-old Malamute that they rescued from a shelter in Illinois a few months ago.  During the drive back to Michigan, he was already showing his personality, so they named him Chief - short for Mischief.  Boy, were they right!

During our stay, Chief has already chewed up my husband's running shoe and his glasses.  Nice.

Malamutes are sled dogs, and as my hubby says, there are two types of sled dogs: the smart ones that lead the pack and the strong, dumb ones that can pull forever.  Chief is the strong, dumb type.  He weighs almost as much as I do, and he's still growing.

This picture is with my in-laws shortly after they got him.  He's even bigger now.  This photo is for real...no doctoring.  Really.  ;)

He has a chew toy that's a red dog.  It reminds me of Clifford.  Very appropriate.

So to keep this cute, dumb, fuzzy monster at bay, I took him out for a 3-mile run with me yesterday.  He's a great running partner.  He stayed by my side pretty well and even pulled me just a little bit up the big hills.  It was cheating, but I didn't care.  Good sled dog!

Friday, December 4, 2009

First Real Snow of the Year

Yesterday and today we've gotten our first substantial snow fall of the year here in west Michigan.  We got about 6 inches overnight, and we expect 14 inches before it stops.  It's coming down in big, wet clumps of flakes.

The roads are unplowed, and people are suffering from their annual how-to-drive-in-the-snow amnesia.  But it is admittedly pretty when the sun peaks out from behind the clouds and makes all the powder covered branches glisten.

Sadly, as I drove in to work today, I realized that the snow means no more riding my skinny tired road bike for a while.  I'm heart broken.  But that just means it's time for more mountain bike action!

The pictures in this post were taken outside my office.  Not the prettiest setting, but it gives you an idea of how big the flakes are that are coming down.  Hello, winter!

It's hard to believe that just last weekend, it was sunny and relativley warm.  The picture below was taken last Saturday on the Blue Bridge in downtown Grand Rapids as the hubby and I gave a friend a tour of the city.  There were lots of bikes downtown that day.  This picture really has nothing to do with this post, but I like how it came out, and I want to post it.  It's my blog...I can do that!