Category Archives: My life

cycling this weekend

I had two good cycles this weekend, a long one and a short one.  I’m very pleased because the weather forecast was not looking good as of Friday evening, but we ended up with mostly overcast rather than rain.  I did get poured on for the last couple miles of today’s ride, but it was 50 degrees, and I was close to home, so I didn’t really mind.

Saturday, I took a spin around the southern half of Lake Washington.  I’ve done this ride before, but last time, I parked near the route.  This time, I cycled from home, which adds about 5 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain to a ride with 1000+ feet of elevation gain to start with, bringing it to 30 miles.  A friend of mine from work who lives very close to me had agreed to meet me for the ride, which was a nice change from my usual habit of riding alone.  We met up at 8 am at the neighborhood park and set out.

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The first half of the ride went very well.  My friend mentioned to me that he was finding the hills hard, and I think I wasn’t really taking him seriously, because I thought he was in better shape than me, but as we neared the I90 bridge, I realized that he really was struggling a bit.  We took it nice and slow up the hills to the bridge and headed across.  About a mile short of Mercer Island (which sits about 3/4 of the way across the bridge), my rear tire went flat.  Really, there isn’t much worse of a place for that to happen than the bridge.  I kept going, though I probably should have stopped and walked.  Changing it in situ was completely impossible.  My friend has done even less cycling than me, so he didn’t know any more about changing bike tires than I did.  However, some how we managed to muddle through and get a new tube on.  I don’t think either of us could have done it on our own, but between the two of us, we figured it out.  I was pretty proud of that, but I also hope I don’t have to change another tire anytime soon.  It is definitely not easy.

By the time we got all the way across the bridge, my friend was really starting to struggle.  We slowed down to a Sunday afternoon stroll sort of pace, but hills were just killing him, and unfortunately, you can see from the elevation profile that the end of the route features a lot of uphill.  Nevertheless, we continued and got back to the park.  I’m hoping my friend is not too discouraged and willing to go out cycling with me again.  I think he’s more of a natural athlete than me, and could probably get in shape enough to keep up without that much trouble.

I had been planning to run a 5K today (Sunday).  Then I decided my legs were too tired from the cycling, so I thought I might try yesterday’s route again instead (at an easy pace).  Then I got discouraged by predictions of rain, and it did in fact rain this morning, so I thought I go for a swim.  In the end, the weather prediction improved a bit, and I went for a shorter, 10 mile ride.  This is a 10 mile loop I’ve cycled many times, so it’s a good barometer for progress.

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I feel like I’m finally starting to see some returns on my cycling efforts.  I hit my highest average pace yet for this ride (11.3 mph).  That is pretty slow, but this route features some pretty brutal hills, so I’m trying not to worry about the absolute speed.  I love, love Strava segments for bicycling.  I’m getting faster on downhills, flats and uphills.  Not much faster in most cases – but little by little, I’m making progress.  Now that summer is coming, I’m hoping to continue to gain cycling fitness in nicer weather, though I suppose the heat could be a problem.   I’m not sure what my goals are, really.  I know that I want to be able to cycle farther – how much farther, I’m not sure.  I want to be more competitive in duathlon / triathlon events.

ambivalence

I recently stumbled across one of my most favorite pieces of running writing.  When I was in high school, there was a bit of a running fad that favored fewer miles.  Of course, this was the pre-internet age, but in my teens I was pretty convinced that I was “burned out” and other such nonsense when my times slowed down in 10th / 11th grade.  (Looking back, puberty and (healthy) weight gain had a lot more to do with it.)  In any case, it wasn’t until my junior year of college that I stumbled upon a community of running enthusiasts on the internet on the CoolRunning forums and became convinced of the opposite, that as far as running goes, more is almost always better.  The author of the piece above ran many, many miles and enjoyed the payoff.

The weather was warm enough to run in shorts and short-sleeves yesterday for the first time in, oh, six months?  Longer.  Who knows.  It was wonderful.  I took advantage and ran 8.5 miles, my longest run since before B was born.  It felt great, though I’m sore today.  I need to drag myself out for a shorter run this morning sometime soon before the rain starts again.

We’ve settled on a school for L.  We’re going to send her to a French immersion Kindergarten.  I have mixed feelings about this.  I wish we were living slightly farther North, in a better school district, but for a wide variety of reasons the cards did not fall that way.  We’ll re-evaluate the long-term path after next year.  You might wonder, why French?  Well, there are two French immersion schools near us and none in any other language.  I think there is a value in knowing any second language, regardless of what it is.  I also think that L is precocious and this will ensure she is challenged.  Hopefully, she won’t be TOO challenged.  Both B and I feel ambivalent about the whole thing, in contrast to how we feel about the preschool, which we love.  But we’ll give it a try.

swimming

L graduated from level 1 of swim lessons.  It’s been a long road, and I’m frankly just delighted.  It seems like a small thing, and she was beginning to tower over the other kids in her class.  It had just become obvious to me that swimming would be a challenge for her.  However, I have derived an enormous amount of joy from swimming and being in the water through the years, from just playing at the pool in the summer to swim team to being confident in deep water at Smith Mountain Lake and pool parties and on and on.  As an adult, I really feel water aerobics and my weekly swim were incredibly important to my mental and physical health, and I met one of my best friends in Seattle at water aerobics class.  Anyway, I’ve watched L gradually gain confidence and comfort in the water, and I see a clear path towards her becoming a confident swimmer over the next several years.  (A path paved with bribes and sparkly swimsuits, no doubt.)  Now, B is getting old enough to start swim lessons!

I myself have been swimming once a week.  I absolutely detest getting in the pool and swimming that first half lap.  It’s just torture!  After that, however, it’s quite pleasurable.  I always preferred breaststroke, but I’ve been swimming freestyle with an eye towards triathlon, and I’ve become so much more comfortable with freestyle.  I even tried some flip turns at my last session.  They went . . . ok.  I ended up with a nose full of water during one of them, and I basically found them exhausting.  But it was kind of fun to realize I can still do one, more or less.

My parents are visiting, and H is out of town.  My loyal readers will know that the latter has caused me a great deal of anxiety in past.  Today, I’m doing fine.  A friend told me to try and celebrate the small achievements, and so I’m going to celebrate how today has gone.  We’ll deal with tomorrow tomorrow.

Thanksgiving Friday

Why is it always women who are taking their clothes off?  I haven’t even read this specific article, but I think the general gist is that it’s a plus-size model trying to make a point about body-shaming.  But whatever the reason, it’s seems like it’s always women stripping down – celebrities who aren’t happy with this or that (Catherine Zeta-Jones being the latest), women who want to normalize breast-feeding, athletes making a point about something (thinking of Lindsay Vonn here), models, etc., etc., etc.  Personally, while I am totally against body-shaming, am massively in favor of women’s right to breastfeed everywhere without shame, and think Lindsay Vonn is amazing, I am tired of seeing press about women stripping down for one reason or another.  I never seem to run across men in their skivvies on the subway.  Personally, I am no fan of modesty in general.  It’s such a slippery slope.  I just wish women would get more media coverage for things other than their bodies, and I’m not sure strutting around in the nude or near-nude is going to help.

Also, I would like to point out that your average plus-size model has a waist smaller than mine.

On the subject of bodies, I’ve finally realized why my head is so big yet looks so small.  Folks, I have a narrow deep head.  Did I get squished during childbirth or something?  I’ve come to this realization in the process of trying to find a helmet that fits properly.  I’m ending up with these giant Men’s large helmets that look ridiculous on my narrow head and are also very heavy.  So annoying!

I’ve been continuing to enjoy cycling.  It’s hard to find time to do it when it’s not raining or dark, but when I do get out, it’s great.  Today I cycled 10.6 miles in a little over an hour with an average speed of 10.5 mph and a max speed of 24.6 mph.  That sounds pretty slow, and it is, but I am getting faster.  The local bicycle club here is Cascade, and they offer free group rides.  The rides are categorized as Easy (<10 mph), Leisurely (10-12 mph), Steady (12-14 mph) and on up to Super Strenuous (22+ mph).  There are few or no rides in the slowest categories, so it would be great if I could get my speed up to 12 mph so I could join in rides in the Steady category.  I’d really like to meet some other cyclists.

Right now, I’m in the process of trying to convince my friends to take up triathlon, but it’s a hard sell, mostly because of the swimming.  I did recently find out a co-worker I’ve been friendly with for many years wants to do an Olympic tri late this summer.  I can see that as a goal, though my main objective is to do any tri, no matter how short.  Seattle does not exactly have a wealth of short triathlons.  This one is very typical, with the “super sprint” having a swim of 400m, bike of 16.4 mi, and 3.1 mi run.  The Olympic distance is 1500m swim, 25 mile bike and 6 mile run.  Obviously, the swim would be the biggest problem for me.  Swimming a mile in open water is no joke.  As a point of comparison, the half ironman has a swim of only 1900m, with a 56 mile bike ride and 13 mile run.  The Olympic distance is disproportionately weighted towards the swim, which I think will be my worst “event.”  Anyway, one thing at a time.  I’ll start with a super sprint and then decide if I want to try something longer.