Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reuniting With an Old Friend

My old friend, my mountain bike

It was a wet wet weekend.  I still haven't done the ride I was looking forward to and I am resigning myself to the fact that it may not happen this year.  But once again I had a great alternate ride.  Saturday it was raining steadily so I ran hoping I might luck out on Sunday.  You certainly couldn't call it clear skies but I managed a 25+ mile ride without rain drops!  When I left my house I thought I would be riding 10- 15 miles tops.  I was riding my mountain bike for the first time this season and I had a blast on it.  I headed to one of my favorite dirt road routes and at some point I decided to do some exploring in my own town.  I went up several dirt roads (and I do mean up) knowing I would be turning around at some point.  One road I went farther than I had ever been on that road and was amazed at all the houses.  I turned around shortly after the school bus turn around as the road really started to narrow. It was quite isolated but not scary.  Except at one point I had a large gray pig (boar?) right next to the road.  He wasn't too thrilled with me and took off. When I came back that way he was back by the road and once again I startled him and he took off. It was one of MANY times today I thought I wish I had my camera.  Because it was supposed to be raining I left it at home. I was amazed at how pretty all the foliage was everywhere I rode in spite of the gray skies and no sun.
Not as big as the one I saw.  I was worrying about moose not
a large pig.  

A second road that I went up was very hilly and I didn't go as far.  It never flattened out, there was nothing to see and I had no idea where it went other than up the mountain.  The next road was one  I have ridden to another town on although it is not a road that is maintained.  I went a good 2-3 miles up it and was once again surprised at all the houses and the lovely foliage. I turned around when it became National Forest Road.  It was great to be looking at completely different stuff in a beautiful setting.

I did come up this hill today but this is from 2010.

I decided I might want to hit 25 miles if I could and still needed to add some.  I found a loop to add on that repeated a little bit of my ride but then took me another way I don't usually choose because it is too short but for this it was perfect.  

It still wasn't raining but for some reason my wrist was hurting (holding onto the bars a different way or angle?) and I headed for home.  I had been wearing my rain coat and rain pants and I didn't spring for the pricey Gore Tex stuff so I was drenched with sweat.  

Since I didn't take pictures I went on line to find pictures people have posted of this fall's foliage.  

This picture and the one below look very much like
where I was riding today.

Thursday I had a great run mainly because I ran in a different place. (I had an appointment and was able to fit this in before it.) The sun was rising through the eerie fog surrounded by the fall foliage. But once again I didn't have my camera.  It was so nice to run in a different spot that I may run there again tomorrow.  I have packed both biking and running stuff and it depends on the weather as to what I do.

Last week continued to be somewhat stressful at work but Thursday I rode my bike on the bike path after work and what a great stress reliever that was. Plus I got to see my favorite son and dog!  Notice I mentioned the son first.
Foliage near my house earlier in the week

Jaxon sadly watching me leave for my bike ride

A gorgeous evening on the bike path

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Three Things Thursday

Pictures from my run on Sunday along my usual route

1.  Knocking on wood as I write this.........this is the first fall I have not been injured in three years. Two years ago I took up biking because I couldn't run.  Last year I took up swimming as I was once again told not to run.  Those actually turned out to be good things as I have become this very new triathlete nut who is loving her new athletic life.  But........nonetheless I am thrilled - I repeat - THRILLED - not to be injured this fall.  I wonder how much the cross training I am doing now has contributed to this non injured status.  I am certainly still running but I used to run 5 or 6 days a week and now I am running 4. Whatever the reason is a beautiful thing to not be injured.

flowers at home

2. It is very hard right now to fit in the training I am doing. Work is overwhelming. I don't know why it is so much worse than usual but it is.  I leave every day feeling like I should have gotten so much more done.  While at work I don't have a minute. I eat lunch as I continue working.  My friend, C and I both took great bike rides last weekend and have never had a second to chat about it.  I have to believe the frenzied pace at work is anything but healthy.  As I posted recently........even though it is hard to fit in..... the working out is keeping me sane.
Yes, I still love my cats.  Took Rocco on the right
to an emergency vet visit Sunday.  He has perked up
and seems to be feeling better.  

3. I LOVE fall.  There are so many things I love about it.  I could even accept year round school if it gave me some time off in the fall. I love the colors of the foliage. I love the cooler temperatures. I love all the races although I don't love that triathlon season is over around here.  I love pumpkin and all the wonderful pumpkin flavored things.......especially coffee!  I love traveling to Maine when it isn't so crowded.  (I don't know if I'll do this but here's hoping.)
Still so so colors. This weekend is supposed to be peak...
and raining. :( 

And these pics had nothing to do with the post. Oh well.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Long Bike Ride or Long Run - No Contest

When I was training for marathons I truthfully looked forward to long runs.  When I would begin the training cycle I couldn't imagine ever running 20 miles but I would gradually build up to them and even enjoy them.  They were hard in the moment but certainly an accomplishment each time I completed one.  These days my longest races have been half marathons so my longest training runs are 12 miles.  I do many 12 milers in a year because I do lots of half marathons yet I only do them when I am training for a half.  If I am not doing a half my longest runs tend to be 8 miles with the occasional 10.  Do I ever do a longer run for the heck of it like 15 or 16?  NO!
Approaching the end of the Mohawk Hudson Marathon

Yet with biking the length of the ride seems to have nothing to do with a race.  I have only recently started racing through triathlons and my longest distance was 16 miles in a race.  Yet I repeatedly ride 30, 40 and 50 miles.  My most recent weekend rides have been 46, 50 and 38.  If I had more time I would be going even longer.  Why? Because I love it!  

I love the effort it takes to go on a longer ride.  I love the scenery I see with the miles I cover.  I love the exhausted feeling I have when I have put that effort in.  I love the feeling of  accomplishment.  I love the joy in the moment of the ride which is the difference between long rides and runs for me.  There is no need for me to ride these kinds of miles to get ready for a cycling race. It is purely a choice. But personally I would NEVER choose to go out and run 20 miles for the pure joy of it.  I haven't done that since my last marathon training cycle.

This summer one of my goals was to ride a century.  This hasn't happened and at this point I don't think it will.  When I started riding last spring I did a 50 miler in April and again in May so I was well on my way.  Then there was the whole broken wrist thing that got in the way. First I couldn't ride at all, then there was the gradual reintroduction to riding.  It is only recently that I have gotten the longer distances in.  I'm where I was earlier last summer when I worked up to 60+ miles. I do think I would have reached the 100 without the injury but for now this is next summer's goal.  A lot of my friends say a 25 mile ride is all they care to do but I love pushing the envelope and going as far as a day and training  allows me to on a bike.

This Saturday's ride was less than the two previous weeks but a much harder terrain.  It went up into the mountains and then back down.  I'm not talking crossing gaps here but decent foothills.  I did this ride last year with my friend but today I rode it solo. I had intended to do a different ride but I listened to the weather forecast (a mistake) and put it off.  I thoroughly enjoyed the ride I did and can't wait to get out there again next weekend for a longer ride.  I dread the coming of winter when I have to put my bike away.
Approaching Camel's Hump

An alpalca farm

Fall colors starting to show

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Staying Sane

  Monday after school I got out on my bike on a flat and fast route.  It was a bit windy but nothing compared to the ride in the Islands.  I put a lot of effort into my ride and negative split it!  It was an out and back. When I got to the turn around I was at a 14.7 pace and at the end I was at 15.0.  I have done it faster before (fresh in the morning?) but I felt I worked hard for a solid 23 miles.  Both C and I hit a pothole as we watched a heron in a swamp.  Then when I got home I disturbed a flock of turkeys in my yard. I couldn't get out of the car fast enough to get a close shot but here is a picture of them running away from me.

Tuesday I got up early and swam and saw two of my work mates there.  They were fast swimmers and I just may have convinced them to consider a tri next summer. Then when I was leaving I ran into a woman my age that started doing triathlons a few years ago.  It was fun to talk to someone who gets it!  After school I got my miles in at the gym as there was a major storm roaring outside.  I plan to get up early in the morning and take a run in the village and I hope to be home in plenty of time to also ride my bike to work. I have not exactly been Miss Getting There Way Ahead of Time lately so that may not happen.  But I have everything ready being hopeful.  The worst thing that will happen is I will come home after school and ride.  Do you have trouble getting to work on time even when you get up plenty early?

Well, I don't have any more triathlons but I have signed up for a duathlon in October.  Surprisingly enough I am a little disappointed it does not include a swim but I won't have to put that lovely wet suit on.  It is a run, bike, run. It sounds pretty but not flat. Are there bike courses out there that are?  Darlene has told me she will come and cheer me on as it's in New York somewhat close to where she lives.  And of course a race in New York means Target and shopping at the outlets if I so desire.  It's something to look forward to and keep training for.

Working out is keeping me sane these days. It's a bit of a hard year this year and things haven't settle down yet.  It seems like they are when it heads in the other direction.  All three days this week have been tough and my bike ride and two runs after work have been just the ticket to get me home in a better mood.  I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who feels life would be much worse without the sweaty stuff.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Humbling Bike Ride and A Fall

Even though everyone was ahead and waiting I had to 
stop to take a couple of pictures of the Champlain Bridge.

You can see how overcast it was.

Saturday I had a humbling bike ride.  I rode with 6 people and they were all way ahead of me the entire ride.  It did push me and I had a great ride too but I was amazed at their speed.  My friend, C, was one of them so obviously she holds back when she rides with me.  We ended up doing 50 miles and it was the first time since I broke my wrist I hit that number. I had gotten close last week but not there.  (I actually rode a mile around the parking lot when I got to my car to hit this!  Does anyone else do that?  C's husband was doing the same thing.) The day was overcast which was great because it wasn't too hot. When we started it was about 50 degrees but we quickly warmed up.  We took a route that I have taken before although not always all of it and in fact we missed a small portion yesterday.
My speedy friends on top of the bridge.

 It's hills that I need to work on as that is when I would really lose them.  I was pleased with my pace overall esp. for 50 miles.  (14.2)  One of the women who went (who has only been cycling this year) was going over Lincoln Gap today and coming back over App. Gap. These are two major gaps in our area and she had also done this last week.  The back side of Lincoln Gap has a grade of 26%.  I was in awe.
We rode into Crown Point Historical Site to have a snack.  This is looking
back at the bridge from there. I was thrilled because I saw a car
from South Dakota.  Yes, I am still playing that game. I have 3 more 
to see.

Oh yes, there is a story with this.

As I was turning on to the bridge from our stop C yelled something which made me think I needed to be somewhere else.  This is where I tend to get in trouble. Before I knew what was happening I was falling - clipped in - and  not unclipping.  I did think enough to lean my body into the fall and not put my hand out. It was like I was falling in slow motion.  My side has a tiny ache in it today but other than this scraped knee I was completely fine.  Thank Goodness!  I will tell you it scared me in the short amount of time before I knew it was fine. I rode the rest of the way - probably around 20 miles with no problem whatsoever.

 I didn't come home so humbled that I am putting away my bike shoes for the winter.  I actually came home completely juiced to get out there and do another long ride.  I spent the evening pouring through my bike books looking for a route that is about 50 miles I can do next Saturday.
The women on yesterday's ride are off to the seacoast for a century which I declined to do.  I don't think I am ready but will get there another year.  I found a few different routes although the one I picked  out may be one I should save to do with friends.  I need to get after my husband to get a new bike so he will want to go more with me.  Some of the routes I am looking at would really appeal to him. I showed him a 35 mile one and he agreed he would like to try it as a lot of it goes along Lake Champlain in the northern part of the state.

Tomorrow I am heading to Sand Road which is fairly flat and a place I like to work on my speed. I'll see what I can pull out. It is the best looking day weather wise of the next few coming up.  C is going with me if she can leave work in time.
Coming into the finish a few years ago.

On another note I have been thinking about a September race. There is a race next weekend that I did once and liked.  It's a 10 K and it goes along my beloved bike path for a fair amount of it.  The only thing is I certainly wouldn't be tapering as I am heading off on my bike again on Saturday.  Later I realized that I have done a September race - that would the last triathlon I did in NH.  That counts!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I NEVER Skip A Workout and Yet Today I Did

As the title says, I don't skip workouts. I really don't.  I have a ridiculously strong work out ethic sometimes to my detriment.  But today..........I skipped a workout and planned it last night.  I had my swim bag all packed and suddenly decided I wasn't going to do it.  But I was not a slacker, I got up in the dark of the morning to run.  I just didn't do a double.

This was my first full week back at school and fitting in 9 workouts is tough.  But, I am not a slacker. I am still doing 8 workouts when I miss one.  I had a graduate level course tonight and fitting in one more thing was going to be very hard.  Impossible no but not really reasonable.  But I still feel guilty. Well, I did. I seem to be getting rid of it with each passing second.

Originally I was going to swim this morning and fit in this morning's run somewhere else. That was the problem.  I could run Saturday morning but I plan to bike. I plan to go on a long bike ride. I plan to go on a long bike ride with some very fast friends.  So it didn't make sense to get up extra early to squeeze in a run and not be fresh when I went on the bike ride.

I could have run this morning and gone swimming tomorrow morning but that would mean I had no day completely off this week.  Nope.  I get tired and then I get grumpy.

I have really only missed workouts in the past when I have had surgery or I am taking time off after a marathon.  Sometimes I make up a missed workout the next week.  This time I am NOT going to let myself do that.  I will only do one swim this week and that is okay. I may do only one swim each week all of September. I have no more triathlons coming up for months. :(  I had already told myself I was going to just relax and enjoy swimming in the pool this month before I tried to make some improvements.  I had also decided my main goal this fall was going to be biking.  I wanted one weekend day for long rides.  And nothing else.  It is hard to make this happen even with only one swim.  I am still doing 4 runs and 3 bikes a week.  But I don't want to drop those.  Biking will end when I can't stand the cold but that is a ways off and I am going to sign up for a duathlon!  I can't have no races to look forward to.

So yesterday when I made this decision I was totally obsessing over it.  (Doing a lot of that lately.) But now I am okay with it.  One of my plans had been to run after my graduate class tonight.  Does that sound sane?  Get up at 5, swim, work all day, go to my course, run at 7:00 when it ends and then go home??? Crazy that I even considered this.  Completely unplanned 5 of us from my school taking the course went to a local establishment and had one drink to relax before heading home.   Much better plan!

Okay.  I have talked that all out and now I can enjoy my weekend with one bike ride and one run!
From a fall bike ride two years ago.  Not much color
yet this year.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Triathlon Obsessions - All About Swimming Surprise Surprise

Triathlon training brought out a few obsessions.  I was thinking about them as I swam back and forth and back and forth in the pool this morning. Not much else to do.  Here's what they were.

  • One of the first things I obsessed over was what wet suit to buy. Should I get sleeveless or full sleeved?  I asked bloggers. One blogger posted it on Facebook and got many opinions. As with so many things there seemed to be an equal amount that swore you had to have each one.  I talked to my swim instructor at the time about it and went with what she said.  I figured she had seen me swim and knew the water temps I would be swimming in.  What did I get? Sleeveless.  How do I think it went?  I think it was the perfect decision FOR ME.  Most of the time I didn't even need a wet suit temperature wise so I didn't need full sleeves.  And I did feel very constricted in it and feel it would have been worse with full sleeves.  
  • Then I obsessed over trying it on and even on opening the package. I believe it was at my house for 3 months before I opened it.  It was way past the friendly "you can return this if it doesn't fit" date.  I had a friend come with me to the lake who knew more about wet suits than I did.  With some help it went on just fine.  I must admit though that every time I put it on I worry this will be the time it doesn't fit.
  • Still on the wetsuit......I also obsessed over getting it off. I was heard to say more than once that when I did my first triathlon I would breathe easily once my wet suit was off.  Not when I was done swimming........I even had to have the wet suit off before I relaxed.  What did I find out?  I have never had a problem getting it off. Sometimes I remember to use PAM and sometimes I don't but it has never been hard.

  • I also obsessed over open water swim.  I put that off along with trying on the wet suit and then the whole broken wrist thing happened so they both had to wait even longer.  Once I got in the water I found out I liked it.  I liked not having to turn around all the time.  I liked being outside, the lake I was at was gorgeous.  I am a bit obsessive about the distance I cover in any sport so I didn't like not knowing how far I was going.  But OWS - not bad at all.  
  • A big obsession - one of my last ones I still had before the actual triathlon was fear of what was in the water with me.  Before I signed up for a tri I tried to find out about the water. Was it weedy?  I googled bodies of water trying to get this information or read race reviews.  I must say the three bodies of water I swam in were great. Plus once I was swimming in the tri itself - I didn't think about this at all. I was way too busy thinking about getting from the start to the finish as fast as I could so I could get on the bike and have some fun and be done with the whole swimming part.
  • I also obsessed over all the horror stories I had heard about swimming with masses of people and getting mowed over.  In my first two triathlons I was in the last wave and simply got at the back of the pack and that worked quite well. But in my more recent tri I was in a middle wave with many more people in it and many more strong fast burly men swimming after me.  Major panic.  This was not fun but nowhere near as bad as I thought. Yes, I got an elbow in the back with a downward push but I never went under and managed not to be in the way too much. I actually even passed someone. I don't know that this fear has gone away but it has certainly lessened

Putting the swim behind me!

  • Do you obsess over anything work out or race related?  I am really fairly relaxed before running races but I have not reached that state at all with triathlons.  Looking at the swim course always brings out some panic in me.  Thankfully it is the part that is first and I can put it behind me. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Wildly Windy Ride

I thought I had already done some windy rides in the islands this summer but Saturday's ride beat them all. It was the easily the windiest day I have ever ridden. We knew it was going to be windy but didn't expect the extreme winds to come so soon. When we started out it was windy but the difference between the beginning of the ride and the end was dramatic.  More than once I did wonder if we should continue but I used the teenage logic that my friends were riding still so it must be okay.  If I had been alone I may have headed back to the car sooner.

My husband had promised he would ride with me in my favorite islands. When I mentioned it to my riding friend, Cathy, she said she would get her husband to come also.  It wasn't a sunny day but the temperature was perfect. We parked farther away from our usual spot to add some miles. When you ride with Cathy you always add miles. I originally told my husband 25 then it changed to 35.  He doesn't ride much and I didn't want to do more than he wanted.  So off we went being treated to beautiful vistas right away.
My favorite spot

Fresh and eager to ride

Even in the beginning of the ride I was being careful with the crosswinds. It felt a bit like I could be swept off my bike.  So downhills weren't as fast as usual. The water had white caps and didn't look very friendly for small sailboats. 

 I never felt like we had a true tailwind but the beginning of the ride was certainly the easiest.  There weren't as many bikers as most Saturdays in the islands.  We also decided to cross the drawbridge and go into North Hero. Cathy thought we should go to the end and come back but I suggested a shorter ride out to investigate a peninsula we could see but one we had not ridden on. It was stunningly gorgeous but we couldn't go all the way to the end. We ended at  a local YWCA camp that was hosting a wedding.  (I cannot imagine what it was like there when the storms hit.  Poor people, I hope they headed inside.)

When we headed back toward South Hero it was pretty difficult going with the wind against us. We finally got to the road that took us to the West Shore Road but then we had to deal with the cross winds. It was wild. I took a picture of one of many flags we saw flapping in the wind.  

When we got to West Shore Road it felt a little more protected and less windy. I stopped to take this very Vermont looking shot. 

I was looking forward to our ferry ride to New York as I love it when the seas are rough!  It did not disappoint.  We tucked out bikes into a protected area and stayed there with them. I did some walking around but I didn't want to get soaked as we had a lot of riding left to do.  When we rode around the peninsula in New York we actually had a tail wind for awhile and it was glorious. Soon enough we were headed back into the wind but with some great entertainment. There were many many para sailing and sailboarders out. We stopped several times to watch them.  In one spot there were easily 50 cars parked on both sides of the road, the majority from Quebec. I assumed it might be some kind of sail boarding club. They looked thrilled with the conditions.  

The lake was full of sail boarders. It looks hard!

Trying to show the effects of the wind.

We got on the ferry to go back to Vermont and the way back was even more of a rocking and rolling ride. The skipper had us tuck our bikes out in the open next to cars rather than on the covered side.  We hooked them over the railing and went up top.  Two guys standing in the front of the ferry got drenched within seconds.  I have to say the ferry rides were one of my favorite parts of the day. We did watch a large sailboat that looked like it was in trouble but it righted itself and continued on. I was delighted with the ferry but would not have wanted to have been on a small boat.
The water comes up over the deck.

A great day with my husband!

The bikes are hooked and safe

When we got off the ferry and were going across the island it was very pleasurable OR not as much wind.  We then had a trek straight into the wind back to the car. We had found out at the ferry that the winds were 25 - 30 mph with stronger gusts and expected to be at 40 mph soon.  It truly wasn't too bad until we reached the causeway to cross the lake back to our car.  All of us had separate thoughts that we might have to get off and walk the wind was so strong.  I unclipped for a ways as I thought if I was going down I didn't want to be clipped in. When I did get back to my car I had 45.8 miles done. Ordinarily I would spin around the parking lot to get that to 46 but I was done. Again - we all did the same thing - no finishing off those miles!  So overall it was  a very fun ride in spite of or even because of the wind. It was a great day to be out enjoying the elements and taking what Mother Nature was throwing at us and coming out ahead.  I did think as we were talking at our cars that we would not have set out in these winds had they been that bad at the beginning but none of us quit once  we were in it.  

Later that day there were tornado warnings in the Islands - just like in many parts of the East.