Category Archives: Running

Kipchoge

Great article about Eliud Kipchoge. It’s well worth reading.  Kipchoge is one of the true greats of sport, up there with Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Serena Williams.  he just broke the marathon world record by a greater margin than it had fallen in fifty years.  I also love that he is so well-spoken and such a philosopher.  He looks so tall and skinny, but he’s apparently an inch shorter than I am.  Anyway, I wish I could have witnessed history, but reading about it is nice as well.

Personally, I am still struggling with my leg.  I couldn’t resist running the company 5K last week, and then I couldn’t resist going for a short “hike” with a friend from out of town yesterday, and my leg was hurting as a result.  I went running today and stopped after two miles.  I am very frustrated, and I guess the only way is to cut back and rest more, again.  I think the hiking I’ve done both yesterday and on previous occasions is as detrimental as the running.  My leg really does not like walking downhill on uneven ground right now.  It’s very frustrating because in order to run on flats I have to drive a good ten minutes from my house, and I just do not have time for that right now.  It’s already mid-September so that fall running season is pretty much shot at this point.  Argh!

back to running

I’m slowly getting my running back on track.  I ran 9.2 flat miles last week over four runs.  This week, I’ve run 9 miles so far over three runs.  Two of the runs were around my very hilly neighborhood.  I’ve been avoiding hills because my specific injury is exacerbated by running downhill.  I felt fine, though, maybe a little tight, but definitely no pain.  I’m hoping to run at least four miles this weekend, maybe five, in my “long” run.  I’ll drive to the flats again, though, to lessen the impact on my leg.  I think from the perspective of stress on my leg, three very hilly miles is at least equivalent to four, maybe five, flat miles.

I’m excited about getting into shape again, but getting up in the morning is BRUTAL.  It’s so easy to make excuses.  The important thing is form a habit.  Once the habit is formed, it’ll get easier, right?  But right now, temperatures are ideal, it’s not raining, and it’s light.  In four to six weeks, it’s going to be cold, rainy and dark.  Eek.  Better not to think about it.

Goal-wise, I’m contemplating the Seattle half marathon. For obvious reasons – weather – there aren’t a lot of races in midwinter Seattle.  The Seattle half is the only major race, and it is extremely hilly with over 1000 feet of elevation gain.  Unfortunately, though, there aren’t any flat options with more than a hundred or so runners, and I like having company.  I could give the long races a break and train for a 5K or a 10K, but I find the long distance motivating.

Having taken a few months off running, I’m seeing all the down-sides of starting again: less time, not just due to the time of running, but also because I’m more tired and need more sleep, even with a 3 mile run.  The tiredness is really a big deal – I just want to relax and watch TV in the evening rather than knit or do other productive things, and I definitely need to go to bed earlier.  They say running makes you energetic, but I have not seen any evidence of this.

the first of september

It’s the first of September today.  Good riddance to bad rubbish as far as August goes.  And July.  Will September be better?  Who knows.  I’d never have guessed what this summer would hold, and now fall is approaching, and I hope it’ll be better.  The general philosophy of just putting one foot in front of the other is encouraging to me.  It’s just about getting through the day, whether it’s good, bad or horrible, and then the next one.  I know my mere presence is huge for my kids, if not for anyone else.  Life is a lot better now than it was even a couple weeks ago, though I still feel this need to replace what I lost, and I just don’t know if that’ll happen, and I fear going through morning sickness again.

QOTD – Lay down.  Bleed awhile.  Get back up, and fight again.

I’m not really feeling it though.  Only some things are worth fighting for.

I ran 3 miles today, longest run in a while.  The short-term history is that after missing five weeks due to my “illness,” I went out, angry and upset, and ran 7 hilly miles and injured myself.  Pretty sure it was my IT Band.  Taking two weeks off didn’t fix it, so I started more stretching, foam rolling (aka self-massage), and strengthening.  A week after that, and I was able to run 2 miles pain free.  Today I ran 3 flat miles and felt good.  9:30 pace, 150 HR.  Tired, hot and very out of shape, but still good.  The nice thing about starting from zero is that the fitness gains are very obvious with (relatively) little effort.

more on bicycling

I tried Saddle #4 today.

Saddle #1 = Saddle that came with my bike, Riva Sport Plus, 155 mm

Saddle #2 = Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow, 131 mm

You can see this saddle looks visibly different from the one above.  I bought it because of the large gap, but what I didn’t realize was how much narrower it was.

Saddle #3 = Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow, 152 mm

I hoped this one would be a compromise between the hard, racing saddle with the large channel, and the more cushioned saddle that came with my bike.  However, it felt just like the one that came with my bike (not comfortable.)

Saddle #4 = Specialized Power saddle, 155 mm

There are a bunch of different versions of this saddle, and I bought the cheapest, the Power Comp.  The more expensive versions are lighter and in some cases less padded.  I’m definitely not in a situation where ounces matter, and less padding doesn’t seem ideal.  The version I got was not particularly well padded.  The version I got wasn’t very padded, so I can only imagine how hard the unpadded version is.

Anyway, I’ve now done about 40 mi on the Specialized Power, and it’s definitely the best option so far.  It’s a marked improvement over the saddle that came with my bike.  With my original saddle, I really started experiencing serious discomfort by around 30 mi, and felt I just couldn’t go much more than about 40 mi with it.  I’m cautiously optimistic that a better saddle for me will allow me to cycle longer distances.  I do have one more to try, and then I’ll make a decision and sell or return the rejects.

Today’s 30 mi ride featured more than 2000 feet of elevation gain.  It’s definitely the hilliest ride I’ve done this year, and it featured two particularly difficult hills.  I don’t mind a long, gradual hill, even if it climbs a substantial amount of elevation.  However, the very steep sections, just kill me, even if they’re relatively short.   The first hill was only about 130 ft, per Strava, but was about half 11% grade or more.  The second hill was 250 ft and also included a large section at 11% or more.  I did manage to get to the top, but only just.

 

 

 

saddle woes and the revelation that I have a big butt

My comfort while riding the bike has improved since I started thanks to Chamois Buttr and high-end bib shorts.  Still, at the end of a typical ride, my butt hurts more than my legs, and this just seems wrong to me.  Shouldn’t my legs be the limiting factor?  I decided to try upgrading my seat might help me, and without getting too explicit, I thought a seat with a channel down the middle could be the ticket.  I ended up getting this seat:

This is a Selle Italia SLR Lady Flow saddle.  I found it massively on discount from the list price of $200 from some sketchy internet site, 60% off or so, and ordered it.  (Coincidentally, or not, I had $6000 in charges on my credit card rung out a few days later and had to cancel it.)  It came in two sizes, small and large, and I decided to go for small.  I mean, I don’t have a bit butt, right?  I decided to test drive it on my planned 44 mile cycle this weekend.  What could possibly go wrong, I ask you?

About 10 miles in, I noticed the soft tissue discomfort I have been dealing with for the last year or so was completely absent.  No discomfort, pain, nothing.  Perfection!  Unfortunately, this had been replaced by increasing levels of discomfort on my sit bones.  At 18 miles, I texted H and told him he might have to come and pick me up.  At 28 miles, I told him I was still surviving but only just.  Basically, it was torture, and it was just got more and more painful.  After a certain point, I just couldn’t handle the pressure on my sit bones anymore, and was sliding forward and back on the saddle, bearing pressure on other places just not really meant to bear pressure, and I got some nasty chafing.  I’m still in a significant amount of discomfort today.  I guess I am stubborn, because I refused to stop, and finished out the whole ride, with only a small “short cut” that cut a couple miles off at the end.  Said shortcut is a route that I normally avoid like the plague because it features a massive hill.  I’d in fact never ridden up it before, but I was in so much pain, i said screw it, and 40 miles in, up I went: only 0.4 miles, but 8% average grade, peak grade 17%.  At one point, I was going back and forth like it was a ski slope, trying to reduce the effective grade.  It was BRUTAL.  But worth it.

Anyway, I’m not really sure where to go with the bike seat thing at this point.  I measured the location of my sit bones.  (I really could have lived my entire life without measuring this.)  Turns out, I have an above average size rear for a female (and women are wider-arsed than men.  Who knew?  I always thought I had a small butt, but I guess not.  In some ways it makes sense.  My labors probably wouldn’t have been as “easy” if I were truly narrow-hipped.  Anyway, I’ve re-ordered the saddle from the sketchy website in the large size, and I’m waiting to see if this new credit card will be ripped as well.   I also ordered a couple of other saddles.  I’ll sell or return all but one, and hopefully I can find one that will work for me.

This weekend’s ride:

42 miles, 2100 feet of elevation gain.  It’s definitely my hardest ride since last summer.  I went slower thanks to the saddle issue, but I still think I got a good workout.  Now let’s hope I can get this sorted and be back on the bike next weekend.   I had been hoping to do 45+ next weekend, but now I’m thinking I’ll repeat this ride.  I still have to spend a lot of time consulting directions on this route.

 

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.