Category Archives: Running

impact

ducks

My ride started well this morning.  I saw three families of baby goslings.

However, I’m lying in bed at 8:15 right now instead of getting off my duff and going to work.  This morning I went for my usual bike ride (since I’m still giving my foot a break), but I got careless and fell while trying to put on my glove.  I’d slowed down, but I was going maybe 9 mph and then slowed and crashed.  My head hit the ground pretty hard, protected by a helmet of course.  I’ve been scared of falling since I started cycling, and the actual experience was a little bit different than I expected.  I guess I’d envisioned getting scraped along the ground or something.  In actuality, I did get a little scraped up, but what took me aback was the impact.  I hit my head on the ground pretty hard, giving myself an instant headache.  (My helmet doesn’t seem to be cracked, and other than headache, I had no concussion symptoms.)  The impact was just really hard.  The whole experience was shocking.  One minute I was happily riding along; the next, I’m reeling from the collision with the ground.

Once I pulled myself together a little bit, I thought about calling Jonathan, but he would have had to get the kids in the car, and then we might not have been able to get the bike in the trunk.  I realized I wasn’t actually badly hurt, just shaken up, so I got back on the bike, and slowly and carefully cycled home.  I was definitely a bit jumpy.

Anyway.  Not a great start to my day to say the least.  Time to get up and shower and get some work done, but I kind of feel like curling up in bed.

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.

oh, foot

I’ve been continuing to exercise six times per week – four runs, one swim, and one cycle.  I’ve been enjoying the variety of doing more than running, but on the flip side, I’ve now been running at least four times per week for about nine months, and I can feel the consistency starting to pay off.  That makes me want to run all the more.  However, my left foot is just not having it.  My plantar fascitis – or what I presume is plantar fascitis – has been becoming increasing persistent and painful.  I’m not really sure what to do about it.  Run less and focus on cycling for a month in hopes that it heals?  New running shoes?  See a podiatrist?  Stretch more?  All of the above?  I’m starting with new shoes and more consistent stretching, and if that doesn’t help within a month, I’ll drop down to running three times a week and add in an extra swim or bike.  If that doesn’t help, maybe I’ll see a doctor.  We’ll see.  This injury started around the time i switched to less supportive shoes.  I think the switch helped with my previous foot injury (which is now completely healed), but perhaps it kicked the plantar fascitis up a notch.   Oh feet!  Why do you torment me?

We just got back from a long weekend in Oregon, and it was really wonderful.  This is our second consecutive enjoyable vacation, and it was deeply needed.  For such a long time, especially after I got pregnant with B, vacations had become a chore – a source of stress and anxiety, and not really relaxing or pleasurable.  That finally has changed, thanks mostly to the kids getting older, I think.  Oregon has always been my favorite nearby getaway, and it was great to go back and just have a good.  It’s a four hour drive away, and the drive went quite well, though I was glad it wasn’t any longer.  Now we have to decide whether to go to the ‘noke in June.

Mt. Rainier Duathlon

Yesterday was my second duathlon.   Spoiler: I finished.  It actually went well overall, but I was ridiculously nervous beforehand.  The fact that the first duathlon I did turned out to be way harder than I’d anticipated due to terrible weather did not help my nerves yesterday.  After Du #1, I swore I wouldn’t do another in the rain, but on Saturday morning, I found myself under very overcast skies with a 30% chance of rain.  It actually did start raining before the race, but thankfully it was brief and not heavy.

In addition to the weather, I was also very concerned about the bike leg.  I don’t consider myself a “real” cyclist, and I just don’t have the same type of confidence on the bike that I do on my feet.  I just switched to clip-in shoes a couple weeks ago.  Also, the course featured a rather large hill.  The total elevation gain was nothing I hadn’t done before, but I’m used to a lot of up-and-down, not one big gradual hill.

Gotta love the finish photo (not):

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Course summary:

  • Run: 1.64 mi
  • Bike: 14.44 mi
  • Run: 3.79 mi

Both the runs were almost completely flat.  The bike section profile was like this:

mtrainierdu_bike

Note the 700 foot hill in the middle.

I had been working on three people trying to convince them to do the race, and all three ended up deciding not to do it.  I don’t really have any triathlon friends, and I’ve been trying to convert my friends and colleagues into triathlon people.  The other approach would be to befriend people who already like triathlon, but I find it so hard to make new friends, and I find that I rarely hit it off with athlete-types.  Anyway, I was very pleased when i showed up to run into two people I knew, a girl who’d interned at my company many years ago, and a former colleague who is a super-nice guy.  It made it a lot easier to see a friendly face, but I was still so nervous I literally thought I would puke.

Last time, my biggest problem was being ridiculously cold.  Since then, I’d bought Gore-tex pants.  I ended up deciding not to bring them on the bike, but I did put my Gore-tex jacket in my saddle-bag.  I also planned to put on a second layer for the bike and then remove it for the run.  This turned out to work really well.

The first run was easy.  It was good to finally get underway.  When I race, I always have a massive adrenaline surge, so I just tried to keep my pace controller.  According to my watch, I covered 1.6 mi at 8:14 mpm with an average heart rate of 140 bpm.  If I went out for a run on a regular day at 8 mpm, I’d be dying, but for some reason, at the *beginning* of a race, it feels easy.

I spent 2:21 in transition, about a minute more than most people.  I honestly don’t know how people get shoes changed and whatnot so quickly.  But I eventually managed to get myself and my bike out of the transition area.  I had to raise my saddle after going to clip-in pedals and have had some trouble getting going on the bike, but I managed to get clipped in and underway without to much hassle.  The girl who used to intern at my company headed out just ahead of me, and I initially tried to keep her close, but it quickly became clear that wasn’t happening.  In fact, soon enough, I got left behind by everyone who finished the run with me and found myself completely alone.  Depending on the terrain, I either couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, or could just barely see the next person.  I took a glance behind me and couldn’t see anyone behind either.  For some reason, I found this completely demoralizing and started getting stressed and anxious for a while.

Then, at mile 6, we hit the hill.  Now, my review of the altitude profile had led me to think we’d hit the hill at mile 7, so I was worried that this wasn’t really the hill and that things would get worse.  This scared the heck out of me because I was on the lowest gear and hurting.  However, I did catch up to another woman, and I just stuck to her.  There is a no-drafting rule, so I made sure to give her at least the required 3 bike lengths, but mentally, it was so helpful not to be completely alone.  We also started getting passed by the long-course folks who’d had to runan extra 3 miles or so, and honestly, I was happy to see them as well.  I slogged along.  I felt I could go a little faster, but intentionally didn’t push it, thinking I had three miles to go.  In fact, much to my joy and relief, the worst of the hill ended at a little past 8 miles.  I guess I hadn’t read the elevation chart quite right.  After that, I felt great.  Tired, but no longer worried about not being able to complete the course.  At around mile 10 or so, we hit a sharp downhill, and I started flying down the hill.  Interestingly, I found I could keep up with most of the short course people on the downhill.  I guess I’ve gotten better at downhill cycling.  The long-course people near me were front-of-the-pack folks (since they’d had to cover the extra miles), and so they were going much faster.

I pushed through the rest of the bike leg and ended up covering 14.5 miles at 13.8 mph, which is pretty fast for me, with 664 feet of elevation gain.  I hit a max speed of 28.4 mph on the downhills.  I’ve actually gone a little faster in past, but I don’t think I’ve ever ridden at such a high speed for so long before.  I’m glad I didn’t break my neck.  My HR averaged 151 bpm with a max of 166 bpm; that’s higher than I’m at typically on my training rides.  I think I lack the muscle to keep up with my cardiovascular system on bike rides, so I tend to have a lower HR.

I spent 2:29 in transition, once again about a minute longer than most people.  Oh well.

Then I hit the run.  I’d been kind of looking forward to the second run (and kind of dreading it).  I figured as a much better runner than cyclist, I’d pass a lot of people.  And I did.  I blew by a few people during the first half mile feeling great.  Then, having left behind all the cyclists I came in with, I found myself in another no-man’s land completely alone, with no one visible in front of me or behind me.  Again, I found this completely demoralizing.  The initial dead leg feeling had passed, but my feet and ankles were very sore – no idea why, but it hurt.  My second mile was my slowest, but I still gradually made some ground up, and by the end of the second mile, I was starting to catch more people again.  I picked up the pace and passed a couple more people over the last 1.7 mi.  I covered 3.7 mi at 8:02 mpm, splits 7:57, 8:40, 8:00, and 7:22.  According to my watch, I went below 6 minute pace at the very end.  Ouch.  My heart-rate averaged 158 bpm, and I hit a max of 173 bpm at the end.  (Supposedly my max heart rate for my age is 183, so maybe I should work harder?)

I was so incredibly glad to be done and enjoyed that wonderful post-race feeling of euphoria.  I ended up getting 3rd in my age group and getting to stand on an actual podium, which pleased me immensely until the results came out and I found out I was 3rd of 4.  Yup.  🙂  Oh well.

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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.

cold run bike run

IMG_8884I found this video of a midair skydive rescue inspirational.  I guess if you’re skydiving, the chances you might have to be a hero are higher than normal, but you really just never know when you’re living your normal life and you’ll be called upon to act and make decisions that will have permanent implications for your self and/or others.

I’ve gone cycling three days in a row.  Day 1 was the Magnuson Duathlon.  I picked this as my first multisport race because I figured it would be easy.  3 miles run and 10 mile cycle – what could go wrong, right?  Ha.  Well, being Seattle, the obvious thing that could go wrong did – an unrelenting downpour.  I decided to go in large part because I’d told two friends I’d be there, and I didn’t want to stand them up.  In any case, it was in the low 40s and just pouring.  I huddled in my car until a few minutes before the start and then did the run.  I haven’t seen the results yet, but I did the run (2.5 mi) at about 8 minute pace.  I was a bit chilly and damp, but I felt more or less fine, and not too tired.  Then, I got to transition and found my stuff completely soaked.  I’d forgotten to bring a plastic bag and figured the soft-sided bag I’d brought might provide some protection.  Nope.  The extra layer I’d planned to don was extremely wet.  I decided not to put it on, which in retrospect I think was a mistake.  The course had a lot of puddles, so my feet were utterly soaked.  I put on my wet gloves, and switched out my soaking Gore-tex jacket for my precip jacket which was damp but not soaked, thanks to having been on the bottom of the bag.  That was also a mistake – the precip jacket is water “resistant” and it resisted the pouring rain for all of about a quarter mile.  100 feet into the cycle I knew I was in trouble.  I was just so cold.  The whole thing was very tough.  I knew cycling 10 miles should take only 40 or 50 minutes, but it felt very long.  One of my friends cycled with me the whole time, which was nice.

After the cycle, I got off my bike.  I guess I’d heard about the brick thing where your legs feel like bricks, but what I wasn’t prepare for was my feet to be completely numb.  My feet were so numb from cold that I could barely walk / run on them.  Fortunately, the second run was only half a mile.  I’m not sure I could have made it much farther.  I ran straight from the finish line to my car where I cranked up the heat and changed clothes, to the skin, into some warm clothes I had brought with me (my only smart move of the day).  Then I drove home, which took about 35 minutes.  I literally could not stop shaking from cold the entire time.  I wasn’t really able to warm up until I got into a hot shower when I got home.  That was HEAVEN.  After the hot shower, I took a hot bath.  Then I went and sat in front of the fire.  So. Nice.

I’m not sure what lesson to take from all of this.  Don’t do duathlons in the rain?  Invest in more Gore-tex?  It really makes me not want to do a triathlon featuring cold water.  I had been considering doing a tri in early June which would feature water at about 60 degrees.  I’m now thinking maybe I should wait until later in the season.

There were only 23 people crazy enough to do the duathlon.  11 of them were women, and I was the third female finisher.  There were no awards, but my friend from work was kind enough to pick up a finisher’s medal for me.  (I was too cold to notice or care that they had such items at the finish line.)

My week in swimbikerunning #6

Goals

  • 4 and 5 mile runs
  • 6 mile run with 20 minute tempo
  • 8 mile long run
  • 2000 my swim
  • Go for a 20 mile+ bike ride

Actual

  • Monday: Easy, 4.7 miles
  • Tuesday: Easy, 6.2 miles
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: 4 miles with 15 minute tempo run in the middle
  • Friday: Bike 23 miles
  • Saturday: Swim 2000m
  • Sunday: Long run 8 miles

All in all, this was a very good week for exercise.  We headed to Whidbey Island for the weekend, so I did my bike ride on Friday afternoon, through Seattle along the Western edge of Lake Washington.  The traffic was hairy, but I guess what do you expect when you’r riding through a city?  I shifted the temp run to my 4 mile run.  I have to do my longer runs on Monday and Tuesday when I stay home and don’t lose time to commuting, though as the daylight hours increase, I’ll be able to just get up earlier if I want.  (Ha.)  Usually I’m exhausted Monday and Tuesday from my weekend long run and cycle, so doing a tempo run in the middle is more than I can fathom.

Finally, I managed 2000m in the pool.  It felt good.  I’m definitely getting there as far as pool workouts go.  When I think about doing a tri, open water swimming in cold (or very cold) water is what makes me most nervous.  The best way to alleviate that would probably be to swim more – at least twice a week.  As summer approaches I may sacrifice a run in favor of an extra swim.  We’ll see.  Tri season in Seattle doesn’t start until June, and races then feature water in the low 60s.  I’m not sure that’s going to work for me, so I may wait until July or even August to try a race, when the water is warmer.