Friday, April 30, 2010

Mental Day

I was some kind of crazy woman yesterday - moody, tired...moody.  I skipped my workout.  That's twice this week that I've skipped the bike.  But I feel OK with that.  I needed a mental break.

It's going to be a lovely weekend!  80 degrees F today, sunny.  75 tomorrow.  Possibly a thunderstorm Sunday.  I'm ready to get back out there and enjoy working out in this amazing early Michigan spring!  Some yard work is potentially on the to-do list, too.  I can't believe my lawn needs to be mowed already!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Boston Square Community Bikes

Last night I discovered a true diamond in the rough of bikey goodness - Boston Square Community Bikes.

Boston Square is a program run through Oakdale Neighbors.  It's a place that area residents can bring their bikes for repair, learn bike repair skills and recycle old, broken bikes into functional transportation.  It's run by a guy who used to be a bike mechanic in a big chain bike shop, but he got tired of the commercial feel of that and wanted to do something to serve the inner city community.

(I didn't have my camera with me, but there are some great photos of the place here.)

A couple weeks ago, I heard about some bike repair classes that BSCB was offering, and I eagerly jumped at the opportunity.  So last night I went to the second of three classes (the first was really basic stuff that I already felt comfortable with) and learned all about maintaining derailleurs and cables.

I had no idea what to expect showing up last night.  As it turns out, I was the only one there for the class, so it turned into more of a one-on-one, hands-on tutorial.  I loved it!  I learned a lot of great bike maintenance skills that I had no clue about before and even picked up a trick for getting a dropped chain back on the chainring without even stopping the bike.

Everyone at Boston Square Community Bikes was friendly, helpful, welcoming and a total bike geek like me.  While we worked on one of the bikes, conversation flowed delightfully from different types of bikes to triathlon to commuting to vintage folding bikes to Danny McCaskill to the bike repair bug.  Yep - I've got it.

We actually covered a lot of the material planned for the next class, so they offered to teach me how to true a wheel next time I come in!  And I think I might make a project of fixing up my mom's old Huffy 10-speed this summer.  I stayed about an hour past when the class ended.  I was having so much fun that I just didn't want to leave!

Boston Square is not a fancy bike shop full of shiny new carbon road bikes and full suspension mountain bikes (though they work with those, too).  As far as I could tell, they do not stock top of the line component sets, bar tape in every imaginable color and store logo water bottles.  But they do offer affordable transportation, repair, empowerment and a bike loving environment to the community.  It's a place that I would love to spend my free time helping fix bikes for people in the neighborhood and connecting with other bike lovers.

If you live in the Grand Rapids area, I'd really recommend checking it out!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Endurance Run - 55 minutes (approx. 6.25 miles), 6x100 strides
Last night I ran over to the apartment complex that my trainer suggested as a good place to work some hills into my run.  He was right!  There are a couple long, gradual hills and a shorter, steeper one along with a short bike path through a neighborhood park.  It was a good challenge - but not at all overwhelming - and a nice overall run.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New cycle (of the motor kind)

Last summer the hubby and I expanded our two-wheeled hobbies into motorcycling.  We both took a fantastic rider course through Grand Rapids Community College (for only $25) and got our motorcycle endorsements.

Since then, I've been riding a bike that my friend's mom was kind enough to let me borrow.  However, her other motorcycle broke down this spring, so she asked for the one I was riding back.

That meant that I needed to find myself a new bike.  Through craigslist and a connection through a coworker, I found that bike last night!  It's so sexy and sporty, and I am super excited to ride it!  It's a 2002 Honda 919 in matte black with a few custom modifications.  It looks amazing and rides like a dream.

And now I'm teasing you because I don't have it home with me yet to take pictures.  But I promise I will share as soon as I get some photos!

Monday, April 26, 2010
Intensity Swim - 1100 yards total, Run 30 minutes (approx. 3.75 miles)
Swam 100 warm up, 12x25 sprints, 3x200 threshold, 100 cool down
Running felt slow, but it was amazing being out in the warm sun!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Amputee makes US Track Team

Yahoo has an inspiring article today about Amy Palmiero-Winters, a mom, ultra-runner and leg amputee who recently made the US national track and field team.
Palmiero-Winters had run her first marathons in the months before her accident. After the amputation, she set out on a path that's taken her through countless marathons (her personal-best finish is 3 hours, 4 minutes, 16 seconds), triathlons, Ironman triathlons and, in the last two years, some of the world's most extreme races.

She competed in 10 ultra-distance races last year, including the Heartland 100 Mile, where she finished first among women.

"She's just built for them," Hatzo says. "She can run forever."

Only in recent years has Palmiero-Winters had prosthetic limbs built to match her ambitions. She heard about Erik Schaffer, owner of A Step Ahead Prosthetics (ASAP) in Hicksville, at a race, and three years ago she quit her job as a welder in Meadville and moved to Hicksville to train and work for him. He provides her running blades, which can cost at least $25,000 each.

She is sports program director at ASAP, where the motto is "Live Life Without Limitations," helping clients that range from small children to elite athletes imagine and reach their athletic goals.

She says if she could "rub the magic genie lamp and take it all away and have my leg back, I wouldn't. Because my life is much better the way it is."
This woman has some real guts!  Read the article here.

Learning to fly (over the ground)

Note from Missy: The impromptu fundraiser was a total bust.  Only a couple people donated to Livestrong, so the "gun show" is cancelled.  Thank you so much to those who did decide to give!  The Lance Armstrong Foundation is a great organization doing wonderful things for people suffering from cancer and for their loved ones.  Cancer affects us all.  Thanks for joining in the fight.

I had an appointment at the track with my trainer, Chris, on Saturday to take a look at my running form.  Though it was grey and rainy all weekend, the weather dried up just long enough for a great workout.

Like my swimming, I was happy to learn that my running form isn't too bad.  There are a few small issues to improve - mostly a slight swing to the side in my right foot, which I already knew - but nothing catastrophic.

It was fascinating, though, to learn about the pose method of running.  It's basically a running form with a quick cadence in which your feet fall below your center of mass on the mid- to back foot and in which you allow your hamstrings to lift your feet producing an efficient, wheel-like motion.  The method employs gravity as a force instead of just muscle movement and eliminates braking effects caused by your feel falling too far forward.  My natural gate isn't too far from this method, so I am feeling pretty confident.  This is quite different from what I always heard in track and cross country.  "Longer stride!" they always said.  Well, maybe that's not the best idea after all!

After running a 10:30 warm up (about 5 laps), I ran 2 miles keeping a steady, comfortably hard pace of about 7:48 miles (15:36 total), followed by a mile cool down.  Chris showed me how to do some strides properly, and we finished with a few drills to help me get my feet moving forward in line instead of swinging to the side.

I was really happy with that 7:48 mile pace.  It was way too fast for a 5 mile run, but it shows that I'm getting stronger.

We also talked a little bit about the various gels on the market.  I mentioned that I've been trying different kinds, and Chris jumped right in with his knowledge of which gels are thin, medium and thick, when each type is appropriate, when caffein and protein are helpful or not, etc.  I think for a short race, I'm going to want to use a thin gel like Hammer Gel or PowerBar Gel, and just one during the race will probably be sufficient.

Finally, we talked about the benefits of doing some hill work and identified some local neighborhoods that would be good places to run hills.

Chris is a gabber, so it's always a ton of fun for me to just chat away about common interests and experiences when we meet.  It's also pretty cool that he just did his 25th marathon.  Quite a feat!

Friday, April 23, 2010
Endurance swim - 1000 yards total
100 warm up, 8x25 sprints, 600 endurance pace (12:56, which would be an 18:58 half mile), 100 cool down

Saturday, April 24, 2010
Tempo Run - 4.5 total at track with trainer
1.25 warmup, 2 miles at tempo (15:36), 1 mile cool down, 4x100 strides, drills

Sunday, April 25, 2010
Skipped endurance bike due to rain

Friday, April 23, 2010

Surprise! Training makes you stronger! - Part 3

Final reminder from Missy: This is the last day to donate to Livestrong if you want me to flex for all the blogosphere to see (or at least a couple dozen readers, right?). ;)

To complete my trifecta of self-imposed time trials this week, I rode the bike portion of my bike/run workout last night at race pace.  I did the race distance (14 miles) in 49:47 - just barely under my 50 minute goal time.  I'm not sure how much faster I can get on the bike, so this may be quite a challenge on the Ann Arbor course.

My legs being pretty much toasted after that, I thought I'd time my run as well just to see how I did on tired legs.  My legs felt heavy during the first mile, but my time was really fast - something like 7:30!  I guess after puting a hard effort into pedalling, my muscles were still firing at a high level.  However, I could feel myself slowing down significantly after that.  The second mile was more like 8:15 - still a good time, but with three more miles to go on race day, I'd have to really pour some warrior spirit into my legs (and consume enough calories) to keep my mile pace below 9 minutes.

I have to say that I'm happy with my progress so far.  I have to remember that I still have 7 weeks of training before the race.  Hopefully by then, I will be ready to kick some triathlon booty and maybe take a place in my age group.  How cool would that be?!

Side note on nutrition: Normally for a long bike ride, I'd consume actual, solid food to provide my body with calories and protein.  However, I don't do well running with a bunch of solid food in my stomach.  So, I've been trying out different sport foods to see what works best for me. 

So far, I've tried a couple gels and some sport blocks.  I like the taste of the blocks - they're like eating soft gum drops - but I don't like having to chew while huffing and puffing through a hard effort.  The gels are easier in that sense, because I can just swish them around in my mouth and swallow. 

Having decided on gels, now I just need to find some flavors that I like and decide whether I want them to have protein and/or caffein in addition to the sugar.  There are more gel options than I ever imagined!  Who would have thought this would be so complex!

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Tempo bike - 70 minutes (19.5 miles), Run 19 minutes (2.4 miles)
Did 14 miles on the bike in 49:47 and a fast first mile of running.  However, my running pace was deteriorating quickly on tired legs.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Surprise! Training makes you stronger! - Part 2

Reminder from Missy: Just two more days in the Missy's biceps Livestrong fundraiser.  Only two people have left a comment for me saying that they've donated.  That's 2 out of 40.  We need 38 more people by the end of the day tomorrow!

Yesterday I wrote about how happy I was with my progress in running since I started training for the AA Tri.  Today, I want to say how happy I am with my swimming progress, too.

Yesterday, my swim workout included 600 yards at my goal race pace.  That's the longest distance I've had to swim since I started using bilateral breathing (breathing on both sides).  I find the breathing technique really hard, but it seems like I am actually getting stronger at it.   A couple weeks ago, I couldn't swim 100 yards without having to stop to catch my breath.  Yesterday, I tried really hard to slow down my pace to something that I could maintain for 600 yards, and I did it!  I swam the whole distance without stopping.

I'm also happy because I did the 600 in 13:17.  That multiplies out to 19:29 for 880 yards (a half mile - the race distance).  That is right in the range of my goal time of 20 minutes.

So, it seems that swimming and running are going well.  Next, I'll have to assess my biking pace and see how that's doing.  My goal bike time is based on a time trial I did last summer.  The thing is, I did that 12 mile time trial after riding two centuries.  So 12 miles felt like nothing at the time.  It feels more like something now.  So, hitting my goal bike time might be really hard!  I'll keep working, and I guess we'll see!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Intensity swim - 1400 yards total
100 warm up, 12x50 sprints, 600 at goal race pace, 100 cool down
Did the 600 in 13:17, which multiplies out to 19:29 for 880 yards.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Surprise! Training makes you stronger!

Reminder from Missy: Don't forget about my Livestrong fundraiser. If we meet the goal, I have to show my girly biceps to the world!

A couple days ago, I was telling my hubby that if I finished the AA Tri in around two hours, I'd be really happy with myself.  That just about lines up with my goal times for each of the three legs - not including transition times.  The hubby compared that to his dad's past finishing times at a slightly longer triathlon (the Reeds Lake Tri), and said, "You'll have to get faster in the running, won't you?"  I said, "Yah.  That may be the hardest part."  (Actually, I think my bike goal might be the hardest to meet...  Yikes!)

So, last night was my long run for the week.  The plan called for 50 minutes at a moderate, comfortable pace.  I had trouble not pushing it just a little bit because I was so curious to see whether I could run the race distance (5 miles) in my goal time (45 minutes).  So, I aimed for a 9 minute mile pace or better while still trying not to push the pace out of my comfort zone.

I realize that I'll need to be running faster than 9 minute miles in training, if I want to hit that pace on a hilly course after swimming and biking first.

The cool thing is that I really surprised myself.  I am getting faster at the running.  I finished the first 5 miles last night in 42:06 and continued on to run about 5.9 miles in 50 minutes.  Wow!  That's an average mile pace of around 8:25! 

A couple months ago I wasn't sure I would break 9 minutes.  Now, I almost feel like I'm in high school cross country again.

So, last night's run was very encouraging to me.  It seems like all this training really is going to make me strong on race day - if I don't burn out first!  lol  I hope I have one of those days where everything feels right.  If I do, all the work will pay off. 

I'm not just going to finish the tri.  I'm going to be proud of of how I finish.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Endurance Run 50 minutes (approx. 5.9 miles), 5x100 strides - Approx. 6.15 miles total
Finished 5 miles in 42:06 (average mile pace of 8:25), did 5.9 miles total (average pace of 8:28 for the whole 50 minutes).

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Swimming longer intervals

Reminder from Missy: Don't forget about my Livestrong fundraiser.  If we meet the goal, I have to show my girly biceps to the world!

Up to this point in my training plan, my swim workouts have included intervals of 100 yards or shorter.  This week, the longer intervals begin.  I've been eager to reach this point, because I want to see if I will be able to settle into a pace using my new swimming form that I will be able to maintain for the race distance of a half mile (880 yards).

Yesterday, I did three 200 yard intervals.  I timed the second one just out of curiosity and did it in 4:15.  I know that I swam that 200 at a faster pace than I would swim 880, but I still wanted to see how it would compare to my race time goal.  4:15 for 200 yards multiplies out to 18:42 for 880.

My time goals for the Ann Arbor Triathlon are:

     Swim 0.5 miles (880 yards) - 20 minutes
     Bike 14 miles - 45-47 minutes
     Run 5 miles on trail - 45-46 minutes

So, if I keep getting stronger in the water and build my endurance for the longer swimming intervals, I might just meet my swim time goal.  I would feel so good going from never swimming in an organized way before to doing a half mile in 20 minutes!

Later this week, I'll do a 600 yard endurance swim.  That will be a real test!

Monday, April 19, 2010
Intensity Swim - 1000 yards total
100 warmup, 8x25 sprints, 3x200 threshold, 100 cool down
I did the second 200 in 4:15, which would multiply out to 18:42 for 880 (a half mile).  If I can get close to that pace on race day, I'll meet my goal time!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Back to building

Reminder from Missy: If you missed my last post, please go back and check it out!  Called to step up to the plate and make this Livestrong fundraiser thing a reality, I'm looking for 40 people to give at least $5 to Livestrong (AKA the Lance Armstrong Foundation) by Friday.  If 40 people leave a comment on this blog saying that they donated (on your honor!), I'll post a photograph of my muscles for the world to see.  I'm a little embarrassed!  But it's worth it to fight cancer.

My first recovery week is now over and it's back to building.  I'm feeling good - a little sore or stiff or tired sometimes but overall good.  This week, I'm not supposed to have an "off" day, so my goal is going to be to get to bed by 10:00 every night.  With my fun-loving, insomniac hubby, that is not going to be an easy goal to achieve!

Friday, April 16, 2010
Bike 80 minutes (19 miles), Run 11 minutes (approx. 1.25 miles)
The wind during the bike ride was strong and gusty.  It really sucked riding against it for the second half of the ride.  I hate wind!  But it's great to train for that condition.  You never know what race day will bring!

Saturday, April 17, 2010
Tempo Run - 30 minutes with 8 minutes at tempo, 2x100 strides, drills (approx. 3.5 miles total)
I ran about an 8:48 mile pace.  If I can do that on race day - on hills, when I'm tired from swimming and biking - I'll be extatic!

Sunday, April 18, 2010
Endurance Bike 79:30 minutes (20 miles), Run 20 minutes (approx. 2.25 miles)
It seems like the bike to run transitions are getting easier for me.  My legs don't feel as heavy and stiff as they used to when I start running.  That makes me really happy!  I also timed my change from biking to running equipment.  I wasn't trying to hurry at all, and it took me about 2 minutes.  I know that transition will be faster when I'm not changing any clothes.  It's the swim to bike transition that will take the most time.  I'll have to actually plan out and practice those transitions at some point before the race.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tickets to the gun show - Part 2

In my last post, I joked that I was going to do a fundraiser in which I would post a photo of my biceps, if at least 20 people donated at least $5 to Livestrong.  Well, someone called my bluff.  Thanks to the person who decided to give to Livestrong!

So, I'll raise the stakes.  If 40 of you readers and your friends meet the goal by next Friday (April 23, 2010), I'll follow through with this embarrasing endeavor.  I'll take a photo of my "sexy, flexy woman arms" and put it out there for all the world to see!

I only have 26 followers on this blog, so you'll have to spread the word to make this happen!  If you donate to Livestrong, leave a comment for me, since I don't have any other way to track it.  On your honor!

In case you aren't familiar with Livestrong (AKA the Lance Armstrong Foundation), it is a charitable organization begun by Lance Armstrong after his fight with cancer.  The foundation provides assistance to people suffering from cancer and their loved ones and raises funds for cancer research.  For a first hand experience of what the LAF does, check out the Fat Cyclist blog.  The LAF helped Elden Nelson (the Fat Cyclist) and his family when his wife was battling cancer.  During that time and ever since, Elden has used his blog (which also tells the very funny and heartfelt stories of his love of cycling) to raise tons of cash for Livestrong.  It's pretty sweet.

The line has been drawn in the sand.  Will you step up?!

Tickets to the gun show

I have reason to brag, I think.  My wonderful hubby has not stopped commenting the last couple weeks on how great my body looks.  Not just my running, cycling legs, but even my arms look more toned from all the swimming I've been doing.

So, do I brag about my apparently hot bod or the hubby who makes me feel so hot?  Both!

Maybe I should do some kind of fundraiser like the Fat Cyclist.  Like, if 20 people donate at least $5 to Livestrong, I'll put a photo of my biceps up on this blog.  LOL  No!  Just kidding!

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Endurance Swim - 900 yards total
100 warmup, 8x25 sprints, 5x100 threshold, 100 cool down

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Top 50 Post Script

Yesterday was an "off" day in my training plan, so I have no quirky ride stories, deep thoughts about running or frustrations with swimming to post today.  I spent most of the evening helping the Hubby try to catch up with paperwork.  The most I can report this morning is that I'm tired and wish I was still in bed.

However, since I don't have any personal bikey goodness to write about, I thought I'd return briefly to the Bicycling Top 50 list.  After I reported on Grand Rapids ranking #36 this year, the Grand Rapids Press did a nice article about it.  It's cool to know that someone at the Press has an antenna out for bike related stories (or more probably, stories that make our city look good, right?).

Photo courtesy of the article here
Doesn't downtown Grand Rapids look pretty?!

A couple of my friends from the Thursday night ladies' ride are in this photograph of the Priority Health women's team cycling downtown by the Grand River.  And the article mentions the sponsorship by Bissell of both a professional and an amateur team.  Bissell is a Grand Rapids company - my father-in-law works there.  So many great little bikey connections!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

That's what training is for

Transitioning to running after performing another workout is hard.

Learning a whole new breathing rhythm in swimming is hard.

Balancing work, marriage, sleep and workouts is hard.

Training is practice for all of these things.  That's one of the things that training is for!

Not me - just FYI.   ;)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Intensity Swim (900 yards total), Run 30 minutes (approx. 3.25 miles)
Swim 100 warmup, 8x25 sprints, 10x50 threshold, 100 cool down.  Next week I start doing longer swimming intervals.  I'm really eager and nervous to see if I can find a pace that I can maintain for the longer distances.  I've found bilateral breathing to be so tiring.

Also, it's amazing how slow I feel running after swimming or biking first.  I'm glad I have the chance to get used to that feeling in training rather than getting hit with it by surprise on race day.  How disheartening would that be?!  I was reading about "triathlon" on Wikipedia the other day, and it mentioned the challenge of that feeling of running slower than you're used to after swimming and biking first.  It's nice to know that even the strongest athletes experience the same fatigue.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A change of pace?

Most of my running life, I've planned my workouts for a particular distance rather than a particular time.  However, my tri training plan assigns run workouts in minutes instead of miles.  So, even when I do a "XX" minute run, I want to know how far I've gone. 

Unless I choose a route that I've measured in the past, I often run through the minutes wondering if I'm getting faster or having a slow day.  I try to use Google maps or Map My Ride/Map My Run to estimate my running distances relatively accurately.  But I still wonder if I'm short changing myself, thinking I've run about 4.5 miles when I really ran 5. 

I'd like to experience the pride and confidence building of knowing that I'm getting stronger and faster.  As physics class (or was it math?) taught me, distance over time will show those increases (or decreases) in pace.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, April 12, 2010
Endurance Run - 40 minutes, 4x100 strides (approx. 5 miles total)
I ended up walking into the gym to swim last night around 5:55.  The moment the door shut behind me I thought, "Shoot!  Monday from 6-7:30.  Masters swimming class!"  The one time of the week that the pool is not open to lap swimming.  I thought I had learned this lesson a couple weeks ago.  Oops!

So, even though I had been looking forward to swimming, I changed gears in my head and did my Tuesday long run instead.  I'll swim/run tonight.  No big deal.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Yah, sleep!

At the end of last week, I was feeling tired and run down.  I was concerned that I might be overtraining but wasn't sure, because I still felt motivated and excited about my tri training workouts.  I didn't want to freak out too much at least until I had the chance to catch up on sleep this weekend.

I'm happy to report that I did get to sleep in over the weekend and that those extra hours of rest seem to have done the trick!  I feel refreshed now, and my energy was back during my Saturday and Sunday workouts.  Sunday I felt especially great as I rode a nice new route in perfect, sunny weather.

I'm also proud to have finished the first three build weeks in my training plan.  This week is a recovery week, which should give me the chance to maintain my energy and feel strong.

Friday, April 9, 2010
Endurance swim - 1000 yards total
100 warmup, 8x25 sprints, 6x100 base, 100 cool down

Saturday, April 10, 2010
Tempo Run - approx. 4 miles total
30 minutes with 12 minutes at tempo, 4x100 strides, drills (high knees and butt kicks)

Sunday, April 11, 2010
Endurance Bike - 94 minutes (24 miles)
I tried out a new route today, taking the bike path southeast from my house to 60th, then riding south and east until picking up Patterson.  I rode Patterson south for several miles.  It was a great road to ride on with a shoulder and smooth pavement almost the entire way.  Almost.  One section about a mile long had no shoulder and the worst pavement in the Grand Rapids area - pot holes that could swallow a car and badly packed patch that threatened to pop a tire and shake me to death.  I had to take the middle of the lane just to get through it.  Fortunately, the Sunday afternoon traffic was light.  I'm concerned that it will be more of a problem on a week night after work.  That one mile section almost ruined the whole route for me.  But I liked the rest of it so much that I'll probably ride it again anyway.  And I hear that Grand Rapids has cut their road repair budget this year, so there's little hope that they'll repave that mile.  Sigh.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Detroit to build 30 miles of bike lanes

My mom sent me an article today from the Detroit Free Press about the city of Detroit's plan to create 30 miles of bike lanes.
"It's a big change. Although the city is starting with about 30 miles in a handful of neighborhoods this year, there eventually could be as many as 400 miles of bike lanes in Detroit.
'I think it's going to encourage more people to get out there and take biking as a serious form of transportation,' said [cyclist Jon] Koller, 25, who lives in the city's Corktown neighborhood and commutes by bike to Wayne State University, where he's a doctoral student in transportation engineering."
Awesome!  While I think that it will still take quite a bit of cultural and community change before cycling feels safe for a wider portion of the population, I think it's great that Detroit is starting to put some of the infrastructure in place.

As Detroit recovers from a daunting list of issues (the huge economic hit of the struggling auto industry, marked population decline, massive debt in the school systems, numerous abandoned properties, a spotlight on its political corruption...), it has an opportunity to remake itself into a different kind of city.  This could be a chance to rebuild Detroit in a way that is more friendly to people using modes of transportation other than the automobile.

I look forward to watching the transformation!


Yesterday it was cold and windy after work.  It had been raining during the day but stopped by the time I headed out for a bike/run workout.  After getting pushed around on my bike by the wind and then sleeted on for a few minutes, I decided to cut the bike portion of my workout short.  The sun peaked out a bit during my run, but nonetheless my heart wasn't really in it.  My effort level seemed normal, but I just didn't feel like I had the energy I normally do.  I've felt kind of like that for the last week or so.

I don't know if it's the weather, if I'm just tired, or if I'm overtrained from suddenly working out 5-6 days a week.  I just feel a little run down, and in my hypochondriacal paranoia I worry that I'll somehow sabotage my training by doing too much.  Reasonably, I don't think I'm anywhere near that point.  But the worst always crosses your mind, right?

At the same time, I'm enjoying my workouts, and I look forward to doing them during the day.  So I suppose that's a sign that all is not so bad.  Maybe I just need to sleep in ridiculously late this weekend to recharge.  That's the ticket!

Thursday, April 8, 2010
Bike 65 minutes (14.5 miles), Run 20.5 minutes (approx. 2.5 miles)
I took my lack of motivation to really push hard on my bike ride to explore some new trails in the area.  I rode through Paris Park at 60th and Hanna Lake Ave and then down 60th to a some paths around a little lake at the corner of Patterson.  Paris Park offered an adorabe, meandering path through the woods but not much distance.  I was very happy, however, to discover the bike path along 60th; it will provide a safe route to get to Patterson for some longer rides this summer.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pine Hill Lakes Park

Since I knew I would be travelling for work today, I was happy to see that a running workout was on my training schedule.  I think that running is the easiest of the three triathlon sports to do when travelling because you can do it anywhere with minimal equipment.

As I was Googling directions to our Mason, OH office, I decided to check in with the city of Mason Parks and Recreation department to see if there were any parks in the area with bike or running trails.  I was lucky enough to find Pine Hill Lakes Park just a few miles from my hotel.

This park certainly excited me with its boast of "two miles of wooded hiking trails."  Most of the trails through the park were paved paths, but there were also some nicely groomed dirt paths through the woods.  It was great to give my joints and my pacing some practice running on dirt paths.  I'll need to do quite a bit more of that before the triathlon, whose running portion is on dirt.

I ran slowly today, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  It was 85 degrees F, sunny and windy in Mason today.  Kinda nice!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Endurance Run - 50 minutes, 6x100 strides (approx. 5.5 miles total)
The hot sun, wind and hills may have slowed me down today, but I loved every minute of being outside running on both paved and dirt paths.  I loved the beautiful weather, and could have stayed outside in it all evening.  It was cool and thunderstorming back home in Grand Rapids today.  Lucky me to be 300 miles south of the storm!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Learning to fly (through the water)

I met with my trainer, Chris, on Saturday afternoon to take a look at my swimming form and to learn some drills and exercises.

It was a great session!  Chris said that my form is not bad overall.  No glaring overhauls were necessary - just four or five little things that will help me become more efficient and faster.

I also enjoyed learning how to use some swimming aids such as a pool bouy, hand paddles and foot fins to focus on certain aspects of my form and to strengthen certain muscle groups.  Wow does it feel awesome to just fly through the water with those fins on!  Amazing!

After about 1200 yards total of various exercises, we talked about doing a follow up session in a few weeks.  As I do my swim workouts now, I'll spend a little bit of time practicing each technique that I need to improve on.  It's nice to have something to think about in the water besides simply trying to breath and count lengths.

I also felt really special on Saturday after finishing our coaching session.  I've chosen to get better at a hobby in my life simply for my own personal edification.  I know I pay Chris to share his knowledge of training and sports technique with me, but I still feel like I'm lucky to have the opportunity and the means to give this to myself.  I feel more confident and strong, and I know I'll do better in the triathlon than I ever would have training on my own.

I took the day off Sunday - more because I got completely caught up with the day's activities and forgot to do my workout than because I chose to take the day off.  But I feel like that rest day actually did me good.

Today, I'm getting ready to travel for work for a couple days, so I saved some time by going to the pool over my lunch hour instead of after work.  Now I have the evening free to prepare for the trip and have some fun with our DND group!

Saturday, April 3, 2010
Swimming session with trainer - 1200 yards total
The main aspects of my form that I need to focus on improving are reaching straight in front of me and grabbing the water, following through the push close to my body, keeping my elbows high coming out of the water, and keeping my hips on top of the water.

Monday, April 5, 2010
Intensity Swim - 1000 yards total
100 warmup, 8x25 sprints, 12x50 threshold, 100 cool down

Friday, April 2, 2010

Grand Rapids: Bicycling Top 50

Back in October, I reported on the fact that Grand Rapids, MI was named by the League of American Bicyclists as a "Bike Friendly City."  I was shocked at the time, since few Grand Rapids roads are at all bike friendly in my opinion.  We don't have a single bike lane, and most roads don't even have a shoulder.

But then I realized that we do have a lot of bike paths in and around the city, which I have loved taking advantage of, and bike advocacy is starting to gain ground with our cycling-supportive Mayor.  Still, we have a long way to go.

So, as I was reading my May issue of Bicycling magazine, I was both surprised and delighted to see that Grand Rapids ranked #36 in the Bicycling Top 50 cities in which to ride!

I sometimes dream of living in Portland, Boulder, Moab, San Francisco or even Chicago, where cycling is a more accepted part of the culture and where motorists are much more aware of cyclists being on the roads.  But as one of the top 50 cities in the nation, maybe I actually have it pretty good right here in GR.

Another Michigan city - Ann Arbor - also made the list at #14!  I went to college in Ann Arbor (Go Blue!), but I wasn't into cycling at the time.  I only rode my bike on campus.  I kind of regret that I missed out on experiencing #14 while I lived there!

On a somewhat related note, I said, "To heck with my tri training workout today!  I'm going mountain biking!"  And I did.  The hubby and I drove up north of town to the Cannonsburg State Game Area and took advantage of 7.5 miles of great trail.  I only crashed once, while attempting a stream crossing that I've never done before.  And by crash, I mean that I took it too slowly, stalled out climbing up the far side, and gently tipped over into some mud.  That was the only time I failed to clip out of my new pedals when I wanted to.  We were both exhausted at the end, but we had so much fun!

Friday, April 2, 2010
Mountain Biking - 7.5 miles
I was supposed to do a tempo run workout today.  I think I still got a pretty great tempo workout - it was just on a bike on dirt trails instead of running down a road.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bike Maintenance: Tube Change Tips & Park Tool Chain Gang Kit Review

A couple weeks ago I wrote about all the new stuff I got for my bikes.  Well, after a night of bike mechanical goodness in my basement and a trip to the bike shop yesterday for some assistance, I've completed the tuneups of my road and mountain bikes.  I'm ready for spring!

I know these details are everyday stuff for some people, but for me, it's exciting to have done all of this bike maintenance on my own (or with a little bit of help).

My mountain bike now has a clean and freshly lubed chain, new front brake pads, adjusted brake cables, a new saddle and a new set of Crank Brothers Smarty pedals.  One of my old pedals was overtightened, so even with my new Park Tool pedal wrench, I had to get some help from the bike shop getting it off.  I also didn't have any bearing grease, so though I really wanted to install the new pedals myself, I let the pros go ahead and do it for me.  My bike shop is cool like that anyway - they did it free of charge.  I'm hoping to go mountain biking with some friends tomorrow to try out the whole new setup!

My road bike has a clean and lubed chain that is as shiny as the day it was new.  I also succeeded - finally - in changing the punctured tube.  I learned two very important things about changing a road bike tube, which I'm so glad to know for the next time I flat out on the road:

1) Be sure ALL of the air is out of the tube, or getting the tire off will be nearly impossible.  Once the tube is completely flat, it's not hard at all. 

2) If the valve in the tube stem seems loose and broken and won't allow air into the tube, don't worry - you didn't break it.  It's supposed to be loose like that when there's no pressure in the tube.  Just push the stem into your pump as far as you can, and the valve will open up allowing air to flow into the tube.

I would also like to report that the Park Tool Chain Gang Cleaning Kit (which I purchased from is great!
The chain cleaning tool itself is very easy to use.  You just clip the top piece off, pour some degreaser in the bottom, lay your chain over the brushes and clip the top back on.  Then just hold it with one hand and turn the pedals with the other.

It really gets the grease and gunk off the chain and doesn't splatter all over the place.  If your chain is really dirty, I'd recommend changing out the degreaser and running the chain through a second time.

This process also got enough degreaser on the chainrings to just lightly scrub them off with the brush.  I used the brush to scrub the derailleurs and the cassette, too.

Finally, I really liked the Citrus ChainBright degreaser.  It cleaned my drivetrain well, it smelled nice, it wasn't hard on my hands, it won't hurt plastic or rubber parts and it's biodegradable.

So overall, I highly recommend the kit.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Intensity Swim + Run
Swam 4x25 warmup, 8x25 sprints and 12x50 threshold (total 900 yards).
Ran 30 minutes in unseasonably lovely 74 degree F weather (approx. 3.25 miles)!