Monday, August 30, 2010

First Rain Day

The forecast said 30% chance of rain. That means there's a 70% chance it won't rain. Right? So I set off, thinking it wouldn't rain. It didn't on the way to work. It did on the way home. No worries, though. Nothing on the calendar to do this evening, so I can be drenched and like it. And I did like it.

I will, though, go buy a slicker to pack in my backpack. And I just might end up carrying an extra outfit just in case I get drenched on the way to work, or at least keep an extra outfit at work to change into once I get there. I also have decided to keep other extras at work: deodorant, hairspray, and hair ties. All of these will come in handy, no doubt.

So I'm learning as I go. Still need to figure out the bus route. Maybe tomorrow I'll walk over to mainstreet and hail a bus, talk to the driver. The sooner I get this figured out the more likely I'll be prepared for when it snows.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Obstacles Popping Up

This whole no car thing involves a lot more than what I had considered when I decided to jump into it. Like what to do with all the biking events I've signed up for that are an hour, sometimes two, away. I can't ride my bike there then home. Well, I could, but I'd be on the bike all day long. That's just not reasonable. Since yesterday's event, I've been thinking further into my scheme to live sans car.

Yesterday's event was about 40 minutes away. I'd had this thirty mile ride planned for about three weeks. When I decided to see how life is without a car, I didn't even think about this event or the others I have on the calendar. And for only having three days of no car under my belt, I was really surprised with how awful I felt getting behind the wheel to drive to the event. I felt like a failure at my experiment. But then I thought there are some things that I need to drive to, especially if the events are already paid for. I shouldn't just not go because of the experiment. I need, though, to figure out how to deal with getting to places that are out of town. Hitch a ride with someone else?

Definitely still things to work through with the experiment. Like where to go to catch the bus that will take me to campus. I think it's just up the street, but I need to make certain of this. If I'm going to make this work, I need to find the people who can answer my questions. Thankfully it looks like the weather is going to continue to be sunny and warm, so walking and biking are still the two top modes of transportation.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Day Three of No Car Experiment

It has officially been three days now since I've been inside a car. I rode my bike to work yesterday and the day before, and today, with no meetings on the schedule, I didn't have to leave the house if I didn't want to. I did, though, first on a 25 mile bike ride then for a walk that took me downtown to meet a friend for lunch. The walk turned out to be close to 2 miles roundtrip. Another beautiful day, too. Cool, breezy, sunny. Not a cloud in the sky. Absolutely couldn't have asked for a better day.

This whole no-car thing has really gotten me noticing what's going on around me. How could it not? I have to be super attentive to vehicles all the time in order not to get shmushed like a bug. I've seen some super bad driving behavior, but I've also seen some super nice driving behavior with the driver knowing I'm there and being very safe. One of the nicest things about all of this, though, is what I see and smell when I ride. I see lots of nature--butterflies, fields of sunflowers, deer, and milkweed pods opening. I see people on picnic tables, doing crunches and leg lifts. I smell laundry drying sheets wafting out from someone's house, and Chinese when I pass the Chinese restaurant not far from home. I've even smelled decaying fish when the spillway was closed and all the fish that'd gone over were left to die. Best of all, though, is I get to see things that make kind of cool abstract photo art.

So far, only three days in, I'm enjoying the no-car experiment. When it rains and snows I may not be liking it so much, but I'll deal with it. Somehow. There's always a way.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Life is an Experiment

Last August, after going to the salon and having my hair colored, shelling out almost $200 in the process, I decided enough. It was time to embrace the gray and stop paying outrageous amounts to cover it up. After all, I thought, I'm heading towards 50 and gray is the natural process of things. Right? So I embraced the gray. A week ago, almost a year to the day, I was back in the salon having my hair colored. I just couldn't go another day with the gray that only seemed to like growing at the temples. Nowhere else. Just above the ears so when I pulled my hair into an updo it was like BAM! gray streaks on each side of my head. Not a good look for me. I caved and talked to my stylist who suggested doing a single color rather than highlights, and in the end I only paid out $65. I can handle that.

I like to think of my year of no coloring as an experiment which taught me a lot about our society, how it influences us, how others see me, and how I see myself. There were definitely high and low moments during that year all because of the gray in my hair. I still think I should have been able to embrace the gray completely, ignoring the little gremlin in my head, whispering how old I looked with the gray. Persistent little devil he was, and he won.

So now I'm on to another experiment: going without a car. I haven't totally figured it all out yet. It's kind of like a see what happens as it happens experiment right now. And I'm only into day 2. Yesterday I rode my bike to work. Today I rode again. Both days have been perfect for riding, with cool temps, sun, and little wind. Unfortunately days like these are limited. The wind will eventually kick in. The temps will become even cooler if not downright cold. With fall will come the rain. With winter will come the snow, perhaps ice. What will I do then? Definitely some issues to get figured out before these things come my way.

For now I'll just happily ride my bike, enjoying the benefits that come with it: parking right outside the door at work (love not having to drive around trying to find a parking space), burning calories (the clothes are really fitting loose these days), and seeing things along the ride that would go unnoticed if I was in a car (like the way the sun casts shadows across the 18th tee at the golf course).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Tension Fades

I have no speed events to train for right now, and I kind of like that. No pressure to go fast with either the running or the biking. I am, though, continuing to train, going more for endurance with a little bit of speed thrown in. I'm hoping this will help me get ready for the century ride I hope to do at the end of October. I have no idea what is considered a good training method to prepare for a century, but I figure going for distance with intervals of speed can't be too far off. So after work today, I hopped on the bike and rode for 20 miles, with an average speed 15.2 mph.

And what a pretty evening for a ride. No wind. The heat was lessening since it was early evening. Really ideal conditions to get out and let the day's tension unwind with each mile that passed. At one point I looked in my mirror and saw another cyclist fast approaching. Not long after, he zoomed on by. I took the challenge and managed to stay on his tail for the about twenty feet. About ten minutes later, another cyclist passed me with what appeared to be no effort at all. I thought about trying to keep up with him. For two seconds.

In the end, the ride offered that peace my soul needed today. It was a perfect ending to a day of classes that went better than I expected.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shut Up and Ride

Hubby bought a new bike. A really, really nice road bike. I'm so jealous I could spit. But, even with the new road bike, even with extra speeds than what my bike has, he still can't keep up with me. I chalk that up to karma.

Before we go riding together he talks smack. He's gonna show me what 20 mph looks like. He's gonna be waiting back at the truck cuz he's gonna ride so fast I'll lose sight of him. Yada-yada. Well, so far I haven't seen him pedal faster than 18 mph unless he's going downhill. And as far as waiting at the truck, that would be me waiting for him to finish the ride. None of this changed with getting a new bike.

Now he's mad and says I only ride faster and longer because I've been doing it for eight months versus his three months. I will agree I've been at it a few months longer. Stands to reason. However, I also just put in probably 75% more effort than he does. When I see a challenge, I go at it pretty hard, doing whatever it takes to meet the challenge and overcome it. Hubby really doesn't do this. He's more of a let's up the ante by 25 cents rather than 25 dollars kind of guy.

I'm okay with his approach, but I've had enough of the smack talk. I mean come on, if a brand new road bike can't back up your smack, it's time to shut the pie hole and just ride.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Good Ride to Clear the Mind

Around 2 today, right at the beginning of my last class for the day, thoughts of getting out and riding interrupted my focus. I really tried to stay on task and teach the students something, but the desire to be away from campus, away from people, just me and bike, kept poking at me like an insistent child. Then, when I was finished, a former student captured me for another hour. All the while she was talking, my mind was on riding. I wonder if she could tell I was off in cycling land rather than fully there with her. I'm sure she'd understand. She's a cycler too.

Finally, I arrived home. I ate quickly, changed, then headed out. I kept telling myself this would be a slow, easy ride, and at times it really was. A few times I kicked it up, but there was no reason to push it. At one point, as I passed a small farmhouse, I could smell the scent of dryer softening sheets. Shortly after that I could smell someone's charcoal grill. With the sun on its way to setting, the air began to cool, so I never really got too terribly hot the entire time. Not long into the ride, I could feel the stress of classes, meetings, and students slip away. None of that mattered.

In the end, twenty miles was all it took to make me look forward to getting back to work in the morning.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

First Bike Tour Mishaps

What not to do on a bike tour:

1. follow others just because they are in front of you, especially if they are talking more than paying attention to the route arrows and route map.

2. take only one water bottle. Hitting bumps makes the bottles dislodge, and if one goes flying into the brush, at least you'll have a second one to drink from come mile 30.

3. second guess yourself. First hunches are usually right, so listen to them in order not to get lost and have to backtrack five miles.

4. fail to put some money in the saddlebag, especially if you only have one water bottle that goes flying into the brush.

5. not know how to use the gps app on your cell phone. Knowing how to zero in on your own position and see where the roads are that you need to be following helps prevent going 17 miles out of your way.

So it wasn't so successful, but hey, first times usually aren't. At least I have some silly things to laugh about.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bumpy Roads Right Now

Back to work this week means less time to put into riding, running, being lazy. I've not worked out since Saturday's race, as I was quite tired Saturday and Sunday from the race and all the traveling. The last couple of days have been incredibly hot, the type of hot that makes you just want to lay on the floor and try to find coolness. Any desire to go outside to ride or run is quickly dampened just by opening the door and stepping out into a sauna. Five minutes is about all I can take right now.

Work is work. The good news today was my sports lit class is on the schedule for spring semester. Very exciting. I'm reading a lot of different pieces right now to decide what I want to work with. So much good sports lit is out there, making it difficult to decide what to put on the reading list. I'm definitely going to cover running, followed by biking. After that there'll be readings about football, baseball, softball, hockey, soccer, and horse racing. Most likely golf will be thrown in since I have tons of lit about golf. So many possibilites, almost too many.

So right now is a time of figuring some things out. I know once this week is over and all the many meetings are finished, once classes settle into that nicely oiled routine, once my own kids are back to their schools, things will settle down. Then I can set a clearer run/bike schedule that fits in nicely with everything else going on.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Now I'm Not So Sure

To run or not to run?

I know I said I was hanging up the running shoes, but yesterday I PR'd the 5k at 29:43. I was shooting for under 30 and made it, plus I shaved 1:16 off my previous time. Looks like the speed work and the running I had been doing for training did pay off. Problem is, I'm not so sure I should call it quits with the running.

I am getting faster. Each time I've competed I've shaved time off my previous race time. And yesterday was no picnic as there were some nice hills to contend with. Since I don't train on hills, I was pleasantly surprised with my time given the hills I had to face. Along with the heat, I had a couple of obstacles thrown my way that I handled just fine.

I just need to stop being a baby.

That said, I will continue to run. Right now I don't have any events scheduled to train for, so the running will mainly be to just run. I kind of like the feeling of that.

Today my youngest competed in his first kids' tri. He finished. That was all I asked of him since he really didn't put much time into training. The swim didn't go all that great, but what can he or any of us expect when he didn't swim at all before the event? He's a computer geek who has spent more time inside all summer than outside and only competed because I asked him to. I'm proud of him for getting himself up, getting ready to go, and finishing what he said he would do. He even said he'd do another one even though he was almost in tears after this one. He experienced what so many of us do after our first time with an extreme challenge: the adrenaline let-down at the end. I had to fight to keep the tears in check myself.

A couple of us found out in the past two days we can accomplish something we really want if we just set our minds to it. Just like Mom always said.

Friday, August 6, 2010

By This Time Tomorrow . . .

the relay will be over and my running days will be, too. Part of me feels like I'm giving up, but it's not like I haven't done a lot of research, haven't done a lot of reading as to why I feel so crummy every single time I run. In a nutshell, those who run tend to have long, lean muscle structure. I definitely do not have that. I'm average height at 5'5" and weigh a solid 145. Trying to get under 145 for me is nearly impossible, due in part to the rather large muscles I have all over my body. My legs, my arms, my torso all are thick with muscle. You know how everyone says women can't build muscle unless they take steroids? Well, I'm the exception. I build muscle rather easily. I joke often that I am borderline male, with excess hair growth to boot. Lucky me.

To put these muscles to good use, that's where the bike comes in. Today I rode easy with Hubby. And I have to say, this was his best ride to date. He maintained a 14.96 mph speed for 10.58 miles. Not bad. I rode right behind him the whole way, enjoying the draft, but more importantly using today to learn how to ride behind someone else. When he slowed, I slowed. When he moved left, I moved left. It really made me have to pay attention. I also used today to work on taking curves, keeping my eyes on a spot where I wanted my bike to go. It's interesting how the body follows where the eyes are focused. In general, the ride was good.

Other good things today:
  • Middle child and I cleaned the garage some, enough that things are orderly and the workout equipment is easy to access.
  • The weather is cooler. We turned off the air and opened up the windows. The cicadas are singing for us.
  • Hubby and I are going fishing in a little while, taking the boat so we can enjoy the lake by being on the lake.
  • The SUV is clean inside and out. Love a clean vehicle.

  • The best thing today--feeling truly peaceful.

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Last 5k Training Day

    Well, I ran what will most likely be my last training 5k this morning. I should say I ran/walked the workout since I did walk a good portion of it. Funny thing--I still managed to finish right at 30 minutes. When I did run, I could tell my pace was faster than usual. Perhaps the speed work over the last couple of weeks has paid off to some degree after all. The real test will be Saturday morning.

    Thankfully the weather has cooled off some. The humidity has lessened as well, so working out this morning wasn't nearly as awful as it was the other day when I ran in the 104 heat index. Having tree-lined streets rather than an open country road was helpful, too. Much of the run was in the shade, giving me delicious coolness to enjoy along the way.

    Now I'm anxiously awaiting the bike jersey I bought last week. It should arrive today, so tomorrow morning I'll be able to wear it on an easy ride. The bright pink should be a good riding color, easy for motorists to see. I've already flagged a couple more jerseys I want to purchase soon. If all goes well with the two tours in September, I'm thinking of getting a very special jersey for the ride in October. I even showed the jerseys to my hubby, hinting that all I want for Christmas is a different jersey for each day of the week.

    So, workout done. Housecleaning beckons. Then some writing later this afternoon. Should be a good day.

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Decision Made

    Okay, so running today in 104 heat index wasn't a good idea. And running the day after biking 32 miles isn't a great idea, either. I've never felt so horrible while running. Even doing the mental inventory and telling myself to just keep going, just keep going wasn't enough to get me through the three miles. I had to walk quite a bit of it. I haven't walked the three miles in a really long time, so I wasn't real happy with today's outcome. In fact, I was close to tears.

    That's when I stopped, literally, on the side of the road and thought if running makes me cry then I shouldn't be running. How many times have I said I absolutely hate running? How many times have I said I don't know why I do this to myself? Like I tell others who moan and groan about something they don't like doing and they have complete control over doing it or not--DON'T DO IT! How hard is it to figure this one out? It's not hard at all.

    So, as I stood there, flanked on both sides by cornfields, the sun beating down on me, I decided to hang up the running shoes after Saturday's relay. I'll do it because I said I would, but after I cross that finish line, I'm done with the running. My focus will be on the biking, completing some tours before the snow sets in, hopefully doing the century at the end of October.

    Just thinking about ditching the running and going full tilt into the biking makes me smile. And maybe sometime tomorrow my new jersey will arrive at my door, just in time for my ride.

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    32 Miles

    My longest ride yet. And a good ride, too. Cool, very little wind, and lots of wildlife to admire. At one point a hawk was flying parallel to me and shrieking. That was terribly cool.

    With the new app on my new phone, I was able to keep track of my miles and pace, just like I've been wanting. I stopped three times to save my session, and when I arrived back home I was able to examine the information. My average pace was right at 15 mph, with a low of 13.4 mph (two consecutive hills that kicked my booty) and a maximum speed of 26 (a really nice downhill portion that is very, very fun). The last four miles I really slowed it down since I was on a much-used trail with lots of walkers and lots of bikers. That last four miles was heavenly after 28 of really pushing it.

    The only downside to today's ride was losing all the data when I logged in to transmit the info to the website. It just vanished. And so far I haven't been able to locate it on the phone. I'm hoping the support staff for the app can give me an idea of what happened and how to avoid it in the future.

    Now I'm trying to decide if I should go out again tomorrow or do a run instead. With the race on Saturday and me being the runner, I know I should run. The bike, though, is so much more fun. Maybe what I should do is run then bike. That's exactly what I'm going to do.

    This is exciting.

    Sunday, August 1, 2010

    Six Days and Counting

    With the relay less than a week away, I'm beginning to wonder why I said yes to running the 5k leg of the race. I guess I felt obligated to since our friend who agreed to be the third part of the relay hadn't been swimming, biking or running regularly. I figured the bike leg would be the easiest to get ready for, and since I'm determined to conquer the 30 minute 5k, my impulse was to say I'd do it. I really am a dummy.

    For the last month I've been concentrating on the run, doing speed work rather than actual 5k runs. The mental block is huge, and I'm afraid I'll let it get the best of me next week. I do feel like the speed work has helped, though. I'm pretty consistent with 2 minute 400 meters. With 30 second breaks between them, I'm able to do enough to add up to 3 miles, but I'm not so sure that counts as a 5k. I'm not sure I can actually keep the pace up for the entire time. Reason tells me I don't havet to, that if I need to slow down for a little bit to recoup I can, but the little naysayer in my head just laughs and says, "Yeah, you go ahead and believe that." Arghhhhh!

    Maybe a new running outfit is what I need. That always works, doesn't it?