Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Preparing for the Iceman

I went for a fantastic mountain bike ride on Saturday at Luton Park. Since I rode the loop twice last time I was there, I wanted to ride just a little bit more than that this time. I ended up doing the whole loop twice then added the blue and green sections again for an additional 3 miles - about 21 miles total.

I think if I can ride once each weekend, increasing my distance a little bit each time, and do some running during the weekdays leading up to the Iceman on November 6, I’ll be in good shape for the ride. Even if I don’t, I think I’ll be fine – tired but fine – as long as I eat enough during the race.

I enjoyed myself so much on Saturday, that I’m actually looking forward to the race more now. I hope the trail is fast and not too technical.

I have found that I always ride a trail much better after I’m familiar with it. And I ride better the second time around a loop than the first. I tend to be really cautious until I know where the obstacles are, then I ride much faster and smoother - flowing, leaning into the turns and just floating over the obstacles.

In that sense I’m nervous about the Iceman, because I’ve never seen the trail before at all. But maybe my confidence will grow before then and I’ll settle into a groove after a few miles. Also, I hope it’s not cold and wet! But that’s part of the adventure of a mountain bike race in November in Michigan!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

After dark running safety

Occasionally I run at night, when it fits my schedule or weather conditions better than running earlier in the day. For example, I ran 4 miles last night after dark because that gave me time to digest a later than usual dinner.

When I run after dark, I choose light colored clothing and include reflective materials, if possible. I stick to main roads with more lighting. And I usually carry my cell phone in case of an emergency.

The same can be said when I ride my bike early in the morning or late at night, except that I also have some lights on my bike to help show motor vehicles where I am.

Due to the wonderful community of people who commute by bike, there is a lot of talk on the internet about bike safety in the dark. But I’ve found little discussion of night time (or early morning) running safety.

This could be due to the fact that runners can often choose routes with sidewalks or paths off of the streets themselves. But I still feel a need to be visible to cars turning across my path or coming up behind me. And it may be that male runners worry about this less, but I also try to be smart about who I might encounter out there alone.

How do you approach safety and visibility when running in the dark? Do you wear lights? Do you carry pepper spray? Do you have designated places that you can stop for help? Do you avoid remote, unpopulated areas or gravitate toward them?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The hubby is rockin' running

The hubby and I went for a run last night on our 2.5 mile route. It was the perfect temperature for running, which along with the colors of the changing trees, is the best part about fall in Michigan.

It’s clear that with a healthier diet and more frequent exercise, the hubby is getting into better shape. He likes to run the same route over and over until he feels strong at it, and he is definitely getting strong on this 2.5 mile route! His pace is getting faster every time we run it.

After we walked it out and our heart rates went back down to normal, he asked me how close our pace was to my max. I wasn’t topped out, but it was definitely on the high end for me. If the hubby keeps this up, he’ll soon be dropping me! At least on the shorter distances. ;)

I know the hubby doesn’t share the same passion for fitness that I do. So it makes me so excited to hear him say that he’s beginning to enjoy the regular exercise. I want this man around for many, many years with me, so his good health makes me happy! It’s also awesome to have a running partner. It’s fun to work out with a loved one and to encourage each other when the work gets tough.

So go, hubby, go! You are sexy and awesome. I love you.


Also, go help out my friend, Tiffany, at Skinny Don't Fix Ugly.  She needs contest votes to win a treadmill!  And this girl sure deserves it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Yippee! Dirt!

Yesterday was a beautiful Sunday, and I wanted to go for a bike ride around my neighborhood. My road bike is out on loan to a friend, so I hopped on my mountain bike and pedaled up to Ken-O-Sha park.

There is a nice paved path through the park, and off of this paved path are a number of dirt trails through the woods. Yippee! Dirt! There aren’t many miles of trail out here, but it’s the only dirt trail on the southeast side of town.

This particular set of trails is kind of ironic. The trails themselves are largely wide, smooth and not very technical at all. But every once in a while, the trail builders put a pile of logs across the path, which I haven’t had the guts to try to ride over yet. You can see ruts and cuts where pedals and chain rings have rammed into the wood repeatedly in the past. I look at these logs, and my mind sees “endo”. So I stop and carry my bike over these obstacles then continue on with my ride.

It was fun to just explore even if I didn’t really get to do a “training” workout for the Iceman, which I’m just not worrying about. Also, my bike computer’s battery died, so I couldn’t tell you how far I rode, if you asked. It was just fun time on the bike.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Late summer evening after a storm

After work last night, the power was out at our house due to the rain storm during the day. What a perfect evening to go for a run, I thought! A great activity that requires no electricity.

After lighting my gas stove with a match, cooking dinner and attempting to read by what little daylight was left, the hubby and I decided to go over to our friend Jair’s apartment. We were getting kind of bored without video games, books or movies to occupy our attention, and I needed to wait a while after eating dinner before attempting a run.

So over at Jair’s place, we played cards while I digested, and the dark of the evening settled in.

By the time I felt ready to run, the hubby wasn’t quite ready to go home. Which was fine, because I had brought my running clothes with me planning to run on the bike path nearby. But it was dark now, and I didn’t feel comfortable running on the path in the pitch black.

Solution: run home on the well-lit main roads and let the hubby follow with the car when he was ready. Brilliant!

It was one of those late summer nights where it’s cooler than the day but not yet cold at night. I loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed the run home – except for my stomach feeling a little off for some reason. But that didn’t stop me, and when I arrived safely at my house, the power was back on. Perfect.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You can still get in to the 2010 ING NYC Marathon on a charity team

As a runner aspiring to do my first marathon in 2011, I’ve been keeping my finger on the pulse of this year’s upcoming races – Chicago, Detroit, New York… So when I got this email today, I immediately did some checking to see if it was legit and felt like the news was worth passing on to you guys.

With the lottery application for the 2010 ING New York City Marathon now closed, many people are disappointed at not winning a spot to run. But some of the official charity partners of the marathon still have guaranteed openings on their teams.

The letter I received today was from one of those charities, Team Continuum, saying that they have a limited number of guaranteed registrations left. When a cancer diagnosis results in hardship and uncertainty in someone's life, Team Continuum steps in to pay the patient’s bills, and to provide immediate and vital non-medical assistance to cancer patients and their families. The deadline for registration this way has been extended by the NY Road Runners Association until October 5th, but once the spots are taken, they are gone.

If you’d like more information about running with Team Continuum, go to http://ycin.net/ct.php?ctaid=915.

For more information on the ING New York City Marathon (and other charities that are still accepting team members), go to http://www.nycmarathon.org/. Believe it or not, registration for the 2011 race is already open, too!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

An unofficial race

I was going to go for a nice, easy, enjoyable run last night. But during that nice, easy, enjoyable run my competitiveness got the better of me.

I was in the latter half of a 3.5 mile loop running down a winding, slightly hilly road. Suddenly, another young woman ran out from a side street just ahead of me and turned onto the sidewalk on the other side of the street.

At first, I was determined not to speed up to keep up with her. This was supposed to be a leisurely run. But as I took the inside of a curve, I would catch up a little. As she took the inside of a curve, she would get a little farther ahead. Soon, the game was too tempting. If I pushed just a little faster, our paces would be evenly matched.

She probably didn’t even notice me on the other side of the street. Let alone become compelled to race me.

But I was compelled. Just a little. As we jostled for the lead, twisting and turning down the road, I knew I had to try to beat her to the traffic light at the end of the street.

One final, long curve gave the woman in orange shorts the biggest lead yet. And as that curve straightened out, the road rose up before us in a long, gradual hill peaking at the fateful intersection.

I pushed myself up the hill. I dodged a man and his unleashed dog. I slowed for a car turning in front of me without looking. And maybe 100 yards before the end of the road, I did it. I passed my unwitting competition. I’m sure if she had tried, she would have smoked me. But in my little world, I won.

I told the hubby about my unofficial race when I got home, and he asked me why I didn’t cross the street and run with the other woman for a while. The thought of being social just didn’t even cross my mind. It was “me” time. I was out for a run on a beautiful, cool evening. Probably, so was the woman across the street.

But next time, maybe I’ll introduce myself. Maybe I’ll find a local running buddy. That would be cool!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Running through my old stomping grounds

The hubby and I visited my dad in Redford this weekend. While we were there, we went for a run through my old neighborhood.

It’s strange how far away my elementary school seemed when I was 5. Now I see it’s just a couple blocks from my old house. It also looks so much smaller and older than it used to.

When I ran through these back streets and empty lots as a high school student, I could point out each of my friends’ houses. I could list off every side street for a mile in four directions. Now almost all of my friends’ families have moved away. And when the hubby asked me to call out the side streets on the way home to give him small goals to run for, I could only name a couple with certainty.

Redford will always be home. I lived there for the first 20 years of my life. I ran a lot of miles there. I rode my bike all over town – to stores, to friends’ houses, to summer and weekend jobs. But Redford grows more and more different every year from the town I used to live in. More buildings are run down. Houses look older. Plants have grown over more fences. Stores that I remember have closed or been replaced. Even my high school has received so many additions that it looks like a completely different building.

It’s kind of sad to see the place I remember aging, and yet, there’s also a joy to exploring my old stomping grounds on foot with my hubby. Running and biking give you the chance to catch the little details of a place that you might miss zooming by in a car. We saw many little treasures or pieces of unintentional art. I told a few stories as we ran past places that sparked memories.

Running this weekend reminded me a little bit of when I was a kid expanding my sphere of independence around my home. It was neat to share some of what shaped me as a person with the man I’ve created a life with as an adult.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Grand Rapids Mud Run Results

I just checked back at the Mud Run website, and the results are up from our August 28th race!

Team M.U.D. Players came in 50th of 73 coed teams with a finishing time of 47:26.5.  It was truly a team effort of encouragement, cheering through the pain and a lot of fun. 

We'll be ready for the mud again next year!  Go Team!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Grand Crossings River Walk 2010

It has been quite an active Labor Day weekend for me here in Grand Rapids. On Saturday, I met some friends to mountain bike Luton Park in Rockford. I rode the whole trail twice for almost 19 miles. After that, I was whipped! If I can work up to riding the trail three times in a row, I’ll be ready for the Iceman in November.

I’ve also been dog sitting for a friend this weekend, and I’ve been making sure this young black lab stays active, too. We’ve been on two walks a day, which I think may be more walking than he’s done all summer combined. It certainly adds to my mileage!

And finally, I did the Grand Crossings River Walk this morning in downtown Grand Rapids. This was sort of a local alternative to the Mackinaw Bridge Walk covering 5 miles and 8 crossings of the Grand River. The rain held off throughout the event, and it was a great time! I really like downtown GR, and the river is one of the prettiest stretches to see it from. I love all the bridges and the landmark buildings along the way.

Starting to arrive at Ah-Nab-Awen Park and the Gerald R. Ford Museum

Almost time to start on the pedestrian bridge near DeVos Place

On our way, led by Mayor Heartwell

The Varnum building and the Riverhouse Condos

Fishing near the dam and Fish Ladder Park

Crossing the 6th Street Bridge

Looking back south from Leonard

The Grand Rapids Public Museum

The Front Street Bridge

Crossing Front Street

The Amway Grand and JW Marriot Hotels

On the Fulton Street bridge looking back north

Friday, September 3, 2010

No more sitting in the garage

My poor neglected road bike, Slick, has been sitting in the garage for at least a couple weeks. Unused. Lonely. The tires getting low and sad.

Well, last night was such a beautiful evening with temperatures in the low 70s F and skies clearing after rain during the day. And I really needed the exercise. Plus it struck me that I’ve got a mountain bike race just a couple months away, and I need to start getting some miles in on whatever bike I can.

I couldn’t let Slick sit in the garage on a night like this.

By the time I decided to ride, I had a little over an hour of daylight left, so I set out on the bike path near my house on a familiar route – about 14.6 miles round trip.

The cool air, the setting sun, the day’s rain splashing up gently from the still-wet pavement. It was wonderful.