Saturday cycle

Another Saturday, another cycle.  I took my bike into the bike shop for a tune-up after my issues last weekend, and everything was much better today.  I feel a little guilty shelling out $200 for things I could definitely do myself, but I am earning more thanks to working more, and I have less time, and I don’t really want to take up bike maintenance as a hobby.  (I could have brought it in and just had the specific issue addressed, but I had a full tune-up.)  Today’s cycle was almost identical to last weekend’s in terms of distance and elevation gain.  I went a little slower, which I mostly attribute to the fact that I’ve never ridden this route before and had to stop and check directions and ride slower in places trying to figure out which way I was going.  However, I felt MUCH better at the end.  I rode the last road prior to the big hill back to my house faster than I ever have, per Strava, and I ride that road a lot, so that’s significant.  Equally important, the last hill up to my neighborhood wasn’t so bad.  I was partially fueled by road-rage, though, as a car honked at me, in my opinion 100% completely without justification, just before I cycled up the hill.  I feel like there is a subset of drivers – a small subset – that really have it in for cyclists.

I crossed the new 520 bridge for the first time, and it has a wonderful cycling lane.  On the other cross-lake highway, you practically feel like you’re on the highway with the cars, but the new bridge has a wide cycling and walking lane, and once I’d figured out how to get on it, I really enjoyed cycling across it.

Many major tours are doing away with podium girls, including the Tour de France.  Female models used to present the winners with their awards and pose for photos with them.  To me, this is a great example of a meaningless symbolic gesture that makes people feel warm and fuzzy about being feminist without doing something real.  What would be real, you might ask?  How about having a Tour de France for women?  How about televising women’s performances in any tour, including their most significant race – the Tour de Rosa?  (Currently, the only television coverage for women is in the world championships.  If any women’s tours are televised, the major provider for cycling in the US, NBC, does not cover them.)  It doesn’t really bother me at all if attractive women give stage winners a teddy bear.  The absence of anything remotely resembling equal opportunity in cycling for women, on the other hand, bothers me a great deal.  This, on the other hand, is encouraging.

cyling – 2018

I’m back on the bike.  My cycling enthusiasm seriously waned over the winter.  It’s just hard to get excited about cycling when it’s cold and rainy outside.  With the sun, though, the enthusiasm is definitely back.  I’ve cycled 170 miles in 2108, and a significant percentage of those miles have been over the last couple of weekends.

Week 1:

Cycle 1 was a 30 mile ride around the bottom of Lake Washington.  One thing that is super nice is that I have finally memorized some routes.  When I first started cycling, I was constantly getting lost.  While that still happens, it’s getting a lot less frequent, and I have this route totally memorized.  Or nearly.  30 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain – and it wiped.me.out.  I was pretty much cooked for the rest of the day.

Isn’t Seattle beautiful?

Week 2:

I decided to add some miles the second week and did a very similar ride, except that I added 8 miles or so and biked around the bottom of Mercer Island.  This also added a little bit of elevation gain.  Anyway, this ride turned out to be more eventful.  My chain came off the chain ring a few miles in, and then it happened again, and I had trouble getting on the lower front chain ring, and yeah.  Not good.  However, it mostly worked, and I tried not to switch chain rings at the front very often and just rely on the gears at the back.  Then, when I was halfway across the bridge between Mercer Island and Bellevue, probably 3 miles from the nearest place I could get picked up by car and with traffic zooming by at 70 mph (separated by a barrier thankfully), the chain came off for at least the third time, but this time it was jammed between the derailleur and the gears.  I turned my hands solid black trying to get it back on and after a lot of cursing and a little bit of panic finally succeeded.  This is the second time I’ve had a problem on that bridge, and it really is just not a good place to have an issue.  I got going again and was really nervous about my bike and in probably the most remote section of the whole ride with nowhere to go ran into this homeless man semi-blocking the path.  I was quite nervous to try and go by / around him, but fortunately, he left me alone.  Then, a few miles from home on a VERY quiet street, I rolled through a stop sign in front of a guy who apparently thought he should have gone first, and he yelled at me and called me a dumb bitch.  I probably shouldn’t roll through stop signs, but I really feel that level of nastiness is unnecessary.

Note elevation for both my rides: downhill, flat, then uphill. I really wish I could reverse that.  The uphill at the end is just killer.

After my ride, I was once again totally wrecked.  My question now is whether I can actually build cycling fitness by cycling just once a week, or whether I need to cycle at least twice a week.  I don’t want to subject myself to a weekly torture-fest, and I really do want to go farther and faster, but cycling midweek is no picnic.  Commuting by bike is just difficult and arguably dangerous.  I have a hilly 10-mile loop I do that takes about an hour, but I have mostly 8 am meetings these days, so doing that loop would require a 6 am start.  Definitely doable.  Is the motivation there?  I’m not sure.  I’m toying with the idea of attempting a century this summer, but for now, I’m thinking of a goal of a 50 mile cycle by the end of June.

 

 

running or cycling?

Why running is better:

1.) While uphills are tough on foot, they are BRUTAL on the bike.

2.) A light to moderate rain is irritating when running but can be dressed for, but a ride in a cold rain is miserable AND hazardous.

3.) Speaking of hazardous, I’ve been running most of my life, and I’ve never really hurt myself.  It’s quite safe.  Bike riding, however, is quite hazardous.  Death is a realistic possibility, and road rash is downright probable.

4.) Ye Gods, the equipment.  I feel like I’m getting ready to scale Everest when I prepare for a bike ride – bike, helmet, bum bag, spare tub and flat kit, special pedals and matching shoes, padded shorts, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, shoe covers if it’s cold, and on and on.  It’s nuts.  To run, I need shoes, a sports bra, shorts, and a T-shirt.  Add rain jacket or long-sleeve shirt if it’s cold.  NBD.

5.) You can really lose yourself if your thoughts when you’re running.  I zone out to the point that I sometimes get lost.  Just one foot in front of the other.  Easy.

6.) Since you cover much shorter distances, getting lost is much less of a problem.  I’m constantly getting lost on the bike.

7.) No mechanical knowledge necessary.  No need to pump up tires, learn how to change a flat, or deal with chain problems.  No maintenance.

8.) Less chafing when running.  Enough said.

9.) Running is cheaper.

10.) Running is more social.  I admit this one is debatable, but I just do not enjoy trying to converse with someone when cycling.  I’m trying not to crash, and riding side by side just feels hazardous on the roads, and it’s hard to hear someone talking in front of you.  Running, on the other hand, is a great time to chat.

11.) Running is way more efficient.  There is pretty much no reason to train for more than 3 hours at a stretch, ever, unless you’re training for an ultramarathon.  (And why would anyone want to do that?)  Cyclists, on the other hand, habitually head out for 6 hour rides.

Why cycling is better:

1.) You can cover much longer distances and see the world around you.  I’ve cycled all over Seattle and the Eastside and seen so many parts of the city I’d never wandered through before.

2.) Coasting.

3.) Downhills on a bike are thrilling and require zero effort.  Running down a hill is easier than running up, but you’re still pounding.

4.) Running is harder on your body, in my opinion.  That pounding is tough.  There are a lot of overuse injuries in running.

5.) There’s really no such thing as an “easy run.”  An easy running pace is . . . walking.  In cycling, though, you can go slowly and still be cycling.  Cycling on flats is relatively easy and painless if you take your time.  The same cannot necessarily be said for running.

The “why running is better” list far eclipses the cycling list, but still, I’m excited to get back into cycling this summer.  It’s just fun, and all the drawbacks don’t seem to matter.  If I had to give up one or the other, I’d give up cycling in a second, but fortunately, I don’t, and cycling is great cross-training.

Tenacious 10

I ran the Tenacious 10 yesterday in North Seattle.  It’s a 10-mile and a 10K race sponsored by Oiselle.  Oiselle is a running clothes company based in Seattle founded and run primarily by women, including famous former elite runners Lauren Fleshman and Kara Goucher.  I own a few Oiselle articles of clothing, but to be honest I haven’t loved it as much as the Sugoi and Nike stuff I own.  Nevertheless, I like what they stand for and always wish them well.   I’d been thinking about running this race, but there are a lot of race options in late April and early May, so I’d been on the fence.  After not actually finishing the 5K last weekend, however, I decided to sign up, and I’m glad I did.

The race started at 8 am in Gas Works Park, so it was a solid 30 minute drive from my house.  I nearly missed the start of the race last weekend, and I was worried about parking, so I got up at 5:30 and arrived at the race about about 6:55, and I got a rock-awesome parking spot near the start.  As I was leaving the parking lot, Kara Goucher walked by me.  I though, was that Kara Goucher?  She works for Oiselle, right?  Then I thought, no, you’re just dreaming it.  But no, I saw her later, and it was DEFINITELY Kara Goucher.  So cool!  I picked up my number (no line) and jogged a mile warmup, and hit the portapotties (no line).  Then I met up with a couple friends who were also running the race, before going out for another half mile or so of jogging.

At the start line, there were four pace groups, 7:00, 7:30, 8:00 and 9:40 mpm.  (9:40 works out to a sub-60 10K.)  I had been thinking I’d start out at 7:45 and then speed up, but I couldn’t resist going out with the 7:30 pace group, led by Ali.soune Lee.  Initially, there was a large group following the pacer, but by the end of the first mile, the group had thinned dramatically, and I’d say by the end of the second mile, we were down to 4 or 5 people.  The pace felt hard to me fairly quickly, but I told myself to stick with it anyway.  I resisted looking at my watch and just stuck to the pacer’s back.  I find this approach works really well for me.  I knew the second mile would be the hilliest section, and there was in fact an incline at the end of the first mile, but I powered up it.  (The one disadvantage of a pace group is they tend to go faster up hills and slower down hills than you would naturally.)  From the hill on, I was definitely significantly uncomfortable, and at times it felt really hard to stay with the pacer.  Still, I just stuck with it, and the second mile mark came surprisingly quicker.

  • 7:24
  • 7:28

One thing I loved about this race was how many fast women were participating.  Lauren Fleshman (NCAA champion 5K and former professional runner) led the 7 mpm pace group.  Kara Goucher won the 10 mile.  During the race itself, 90% of the participants were women, and in the early miles, as far as I could see there were women booking it in front of me, women in my pace group, and of course, lots of women behind me.  Normally in races I find myself surrounded by mostly men.  It was inspiring to participate in an event with so many fast women runners, and women runners in general.

Miles three and four passed in a blur of discomfort but not pain.  At the third mile mark, I noted that the pace was a little hot; we were actually going faster than 7:30 pace, more like 7:20.  I tried not to panic that I was going too fast and reminded myself that all things considered, I was feeling pretty good.  I worried that the endurance lost of the last month of slacking would come back to bite me in the last mile or so, but so far so good.  In fact, halfway through, I felt better than I did during the first mile.  Mile four came, and I now was pretty committed to hanging on as long as I possibly could.

  • 7:14
  • 7:22

At mile 5, the 10-mile (as opposed to 10K) runners split off and I thanked my lucky stars that I was running 10K.  We had to run up a short hill, but the pacer told me it would be downhill from there.  At this point, there were only three of us running together, me, the pacer, and another woman.  We’d caught up with the other woman, and I was the only one left of the original pace group, other than the pacer herself.  She started trying to chat to me, and I basically just did not have the air to speak.  -Where are you from? Gasp, puff, new – puff – castle  She talked a bit about the weather and the scenery, and I just really could not respond.  She also was really encouraging and letting me know what the course looked like, and I greatly appreciated it.  I honestly, in retrospect, feel like I could have gone a bit faster that last mile, but maybe not.  I was checking my watch every couple tenths of a mile, and the smallest upward incline felt like a mountain.  The woman we’d caught up with pulled away again, we headed back into the park, and I upped the pace a fraction across the line.

  • 7:20
  • 7:16
  • 7:06 (0.15)

My watch measured 6.15, short of 0.2, and the course isn’t USATF certified, so I’m going with that distance, though many other runners did clock 6.2 or more on Strava.  6.15 miles / 45:11 / 6:20 mpm.  Honestly, I’m thrilled.  After my half, I’d wondered if I could break 45, but after two colds, some kind of flu bug, and a pulled calf muscle over the last 6 weeks, I’m delighted with how fast I was able to go.  Going in, I really had no confidence I could even hold 7:30.  Of course, I kind of wish I could have gone just a fraction faster and dipped under 45, but that’s a goal for next time.  I actually have a 10K planned for a couple weeks from now, and now I know what to aim for.

After the race, I picked up a doughnut, and I stood and cheered for people until my friend came in 15 minutes later at about 60 minutes.  I usually am too tired to cheer after a race, but I wanted to catch my friend and wasn’t exactly sure how fast she was going, and I actually really enjoyed standing on the line cheering for people.  People cheering me on really helps me, so it was fun to do some cheering for once.  I also saw Kara Goucher charge through and win the 10-miler.

All in all, it was a great race and worth the steep last-minute entry fee ($75!).  I’ll do it again next year if I possibly can.

democracy and burying one’s head in the sand

We owe 25K in taxes this year.  I don’t mean that we owe 25K in total.  (Obviously, we pay a lot more than that.)  I mean we will be writing a check for 25K in a few days.  Typically, it’s been between 10 and 20, so this is a new high.  No interest, no penalties.  H pays estimated tax three or four times a year (whatever you’re supposed to; he deals with this all on his own.  I’m not sure I appreciate him as much as I should).  Anyway, I’m just curious if my friends write huge checks in April, or if you have your withholdings set such that you break even or get a refund, or at least pay a lot less.  I kind of like the annual reminder that I pay the federal government a hell of a lot in taxes.

I’ve had three days of short, slow runs in a row.  Hopefully I can keep the streak going.  To get in my planned 4 mile run tomorrow, I’ll need to get up at around 5:30.  I am not morning person, but if you want to be a parent and a running person, there aren’t a lot of options.  At least it’s been beautifully light recently.  I love the spring and summer so much in Seattle.

I enjoyed this article from the NYT about a man who’s chosen to bow out of awareness.  The thing is, as a society, participating in our democracy is so critical.  Writing letters, discussing things with your friends, participating in demonstrations, donating to groups that represent your interests; I believe in all these things.  However, as an individual, the impact you can have is negligible and unlikely to impact your life.  The most liked comment said the following:

I’m jealous of Mr Hagerman because he can afford to ignore the news. It seems that he has accumulated enough wealth and does not have an immediate family to care for where any of the current decisions directly affect him. On the other hand I have to continue to work at my right to work (fire you for any reason) workplace, pray my 401k won’t take another 2008 hit because of regulation roll back, and hope I don’t die in an emergency room of a totally treatable disease because of American healthcare or af an AR-15 wound from an at school parent teacher meeting because of the NRA-GOP party policies.

The thing is, this one man’s choice to read the news, write letters, donate money, demonstrate, whatever, probably has zero impact on his 401K, healthcare, and gun rights.  He would probably be happier if he buried his head in the sand.  If EVERYONE did this, it would be catastrophic.  But for an individual, participating in the national “conversation” provides virtually zero benefit and for those of us who care, lots of tooth-gnashing.

I personally made a choice when our esteemed president was elected not to open articles with “Trump” in the title.  I’ve probably read fewer than ten articles since Trump was elected.  I’m not bragging.  I feel vaguely guilty, but not too much.  As someone who’s been struggling with anxiety, I view it as my prerogative to make choices that help me get through the day without panic attacks, and not thinking about what Trump has done today definitely helps.  The guy in the article takes it to an unreasonable extreme, but I think I can safely say that I’m happier not knowing what Mr. T is up to.   I think a lot of other people would probably happier if they spent less time reading the news, but I guess we’d be worse off as a democracy as a result.

I just finished reading (well, listening) to a fascinating book: Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets.  It’s all about the fall of the Soviet Union, with a significant secondary focus also on living under Stalin, or living having lived under Stalin.  I loved the way it made me reflect on the pros and cons of democracy and socialism and of course, communism.  It’s easy for us to be a bit laissez faire about the incredible gift we have to live in a free country, and I like to be reminded of that from time to time.  On the flip side, the chaos that occurred when the USSR fell was horrible for minority groups – Russians living outside Russia, Belarussians living in Russia, Chechens, etc.  When people took on national identities instead of Soviet identities, everything went to hell.  Reading about this made the appeal of Putin obvious.  I would want Putin in charge, too.  Trump or no, I feel we, as US citizens, are incredibly blessed to live where we do with the opportunities we have.

plans

It’s been about a month since my half marathon, and I’ve now been sick three times.  First, I caught a cold from L.  NBD.  Then, she got the flu, and I came down with something way more mild but similar – low grade fever, body aches, and chills.  What was it?  Who knows.  But it was something.  And then, last week, I had sore throat, low grade fever and chills for a couple days, with a bit of lingering congestion and malaise.

On top of this, Monday night I sprained / pulled a muscle in my calf while Irish dancing with the kids.  Yup, I’m definitely getting old.  I can’t help but wonder if the stretching I’ve been doing has weakened my muscles at all.  Or maybe I was just a bit weakened from my half marathon.

I had been planning to make a real go at a 10K at the beginning of May.  At this point, though, I’ve only run sporadically for four weeks.  I’ll still run it, but I feel my chances of doing well are mostly shot.  Still, since I’ve never raced a 10K before, it’s a guaranteed PR.  I’d hoped I could do well, as it’s a women’s race and not super competitive, but I guess I’ll just try and have fun.  I had also planned to run a 5K next weekend, and I guess I’ll probably go ahead and do that since it’s very close to my house.  I definitely need to keep my expectations low, though.

In the more distant future, I’m contemplating running in the Vancouver Marathon.  It takes place in early May, so I’d basically have a year to prepare.  I think training for a marathon would take my half marathon to the next level.  Maybe.  (Maybe I’m too old.)  Running a marathon has long been a bucket list item for me, and I’ve just never really wanted to commit.  However, I know that running and training brings me a lot of happiness, and I think i wouldn’t have to do THAT much more to successfully finish a marathon.  I’d want to train so I could have a decent run with no death march at the end, but I wouldn’t be trying to run to my full capability as I think that would require more miles than I care to train.

The training plan I’m looking at maxes out at a 20 mile long run.  I ran up to 14 training for my half marathon, so it’s not that much farther.  The midweek runs are longer as well, and that would actually probably be the tough part.  It’s very doable to set aside time to slog through a tough run on the weekend.  It’s a lot harder to get up at the crack of dawn and run 10+ miles, often in the dark or the rain.

According to Hanson’s race equivalency calculator, a 1:43:04 half marathon is equivalent to a 3:34:53 marathon, or 8:12 minutes per mile.  If I threw 30 seconds per mile on that and targeted 8:42 minutes per mile, that works out to a 3:48 marathon.  That seems achievable to me and a good time to pace to aim for, assuming excellent conditions.

Anyway, this is just a percolating idea right now.  If I keep getting sick, I might have to take up basket weaving.  (Or, you know, one of my other hobbies that I’ve been neglecting like knitting or quilting.)