Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Running no more?

I have been asked a lot lately,

"Are you not running anymore?"

"Are you done with running?"

"Are you just cycling now?"

"Why don't you run anymore?"

"Do you still run?" 

I think about this all the time.  What exactly *is* going on here?  Why don't I have a huge desire to run every day like I used to?  I walk a ton, I hike a lot.  I hardly run at all.

I will say that when I do run, I feel better than when I do anything else.  I have said many times, "Hands down, running is still my favorite!"  So, why don't I do it more?

When I had my foot surgery I was told I could run after eight weeks.  I could, but I couldn't do it for very far.  It was taking forever to build up my mileage and not running for the eight weeks was definitely showing up in my (lack of) cardio fitness level.  Sure, I got up to six miles on the flat creek trail within a month or so and then I was doing eight at Garin a month or so after that.  I even did an organized 10k event  and a 9k event as well.  But, I was a lot slower and it was a lot harder.

I got my bike checked out and tuned up and went for a ride.  What I discovered was that I could go longer on my bike right away.  Pedalling a bike was much easier on my foot than running was.  SO, naturally I decided to pick an event and train for it.  In the weeks of training I met some great women and it was fun to go further each week and see myself improve.  It was exciting to share this with my new friends too.  I found spin classes and got hooked on those too.  Basically, I could now cycle to keep myself in shape since I wasn't able to run as much as I used to.  Before I knew it, running was becoming more and more extinct in my life.

Until now.

I have a 10k run this Saturday and a little 5-miler in two weeks.  I'm looking forward to both.  Have I trained?  I think I can handle both of these without a problem.  I know my heart belongs to running and I'm not willing to give it up.  I may have to accept I won't be able to do as much as I used to when it comes to running.  Or maybe I will surprise myself and realize the break did my body some good and I will be better than ever.  One can hope, right?

I don't plan on giving up cycling yet though.  I have registered for another century in May and am looking at a 100k in July and will probably be doing the Marin Century in August. 

Thanks for listening.

"MED2011" Accountability:
04/19 - 1.25 mile walk, 2.75 mile walk
04/20 - 3 mile hike, Body Pump
04/21 - 60 minute bike ride, 1.25 mile walk
04/22 - 2.5 mile walk
04/23 - 3.25 mile hike
04/24 - 2 mile walk
04/25 - 1 mile walk, 2.5 mile walk
04/26 - 2.5 mile walk

Until later.............

Monday, April 18, 2011

Diablo Century - April 17, 2011

Erin and I signed up to do this century after finding out the Cinderella Challenge we were training for was not a century.  We considered the Cinderella Challenge a training ride for this century. 

We left my house at 5:15 to arrive at the start by 6:00 so we could be ready to check in at 6:30 and ready to roll.  We arrived right on time at 5:58 and were "mostly ready" by 6:30.  Long story short, we rolled out of the parking lot at 6:47, the sun was just coming up.  100 mile riders left between 6:30 and 7:30, the 100k riders were to leave between 7:30 and 8:30.

first rest stop
I started off with three layers on my top.  I decided not to wear leg warmers so my legs were a little chilly but after a few miles, I didn't even notice and was glad I didn't have to carry them.  The first rest stop was at 17 miles.  On the way there, I came upon three guys that were going at a pretty good pace and showing good riding etiquette (pointing out hazards, announcing moves, etc.) so Erin and I got behind them for the majority of the way to the rest stop.  The way there was very nice rolling hills through beautiful residential areas.  At the rest stop I ate a miniature bagel with cream cheese, stripped off a layer and off we went to climb up Mount Diablo. 

I was unfamiliar with this route to Mt. Diablo.  As a matter of fact, I was unfamiliar with this entire 100 mile route I was doing.  We had no ride leader to tell us what was coming up either.  About this time we were really missing our other princesses we have been training and riding with since January.

Now it was time for the big climb of the ride - Morgan Territory.  I took off my wind breaker in preparation for the climb.  The only time I have ridden up to Mt. Diablo, I went up on the western side.  That road was two lanes and a mellow, steady climb with nothing *too* steep.  This was the eastern side of the mountain.  The road got narrow and it got very steep.  It was beautiful and tree covered though.  I was continually being passed by people that looked like very accomplished cyclists.  This was becoming much different than the fun, casual, all female Cinderella ride we did two weeks ago.  I was getting more and more discouraged by the minute.  As the road got steeper, the further behind I felt like I was getting, even though this wasn't a race.  I kept wanting to stop and I couldn't figure out why I had signed up to do something like this.  Since it was just Erin and I, I was trying to make sure we stayed together.  I would pull over and wait for her every once in a while, during the climb.  She was never far enough behind me so I could catch my breath very far behind me and when she saw me she would just wave and keep rolling on by. 

Mt. Diablo, here we come

We finally made it to the second rest stop, the top of Morgan Territory at mile 33.  How it could only be mile 33 was beyond me.  I was BEAT!  I had absolutely no clue how I was going to continue another 67 miles.  I ate some peanut butter and pretzel sticks, put my wind breaker back on because of the very steep descent that was coming up.  As soon as we left the rest stop we climbed up a little more and went smack into the thick, cold fog.  Very thick.  It was a long descent and I took it very fast, enjoying every second of it.  Suddenly, I was feeling a lot better.

At the bottom of the hill, the course split off - 100 mile riders to the left, 100k riders to the right.  Erin doesn't enjoy downhill portions as much as I do so I waited for her for a little while.  Believe me, if she would  have even hinted to me that she wanted to go to the right, I would have gone, no questions asked.

view from the top
The next rest stop was in Sunol at mile 55.  This was the best rest stop EVER!  They were making turkey and cheese sandwiches.  OMG, they were delicious.  I had three quarter pieces, a bag of corn chips and some boiled potatoes.  I was finally starting to feel like I could do this thing.  I was coming to life again and it was a good feeling.  I was over half way there. 

From there we got onto Foothill, taking it to Dublin Canyon Road.  I was feeling good and ended up pulling far ahead of Erin, knowing she had someone back there keeping her company.  I passed up a couple of guys on a hill and they rolled up next to me at a light.  One of them commented on my bike, saying it was pretty cool the bar tape and cable housing matched the colors in the bike.  He asked me my name and introduced himself as Bart.  When we turned onto Dublin Canyon he told me to "feel free to draft".  As soon as we turned east and I felt the headwind, I had no problem tucking in behind him.  Sadly though, the climb and the wind kept me from sticking with him very long.  But, his friend was slower than me on climbs so he did keep turning around and going back for him so I did get to use him a few more times.  He was more than willing to help me out, a very nice guy (as you will see later).

We entered Castro Valley and went onto Redwood Road, another tough climb.  Nothing like Morgan Territory but it was L-O-N-GGGG.  I tried not to look up the road too often but it seemed like every time I did, it just kept climbing and there was no end in sight.  Matter of fact, this is when I thought up this nice little poem and I kept repeating it over and over and over as I climbed up Redwood Road.

I do not like this Redwood Road
This Redwood Road I do not like
I do not like this Redwood Road
Especially riding up it on a bike!

Maybe half way up, I got a flat.  My first flat ever and I was riding alone.  Perfect!!  I turned my bike upside down and took the tire off.  Oh, who's this I see coming around the corner?  Bart!  He jokingly asked if I was pulled over waiting for him to catch up.  I told  him the obvious, I had a flat.  He got off his bike and immediately went to work with my tire irons.  Since I've never changed a flat, I watched intently and thanked him and his friend Dwight immensely for their help.  Every rider that went by asked if we were alright and one SAG vehicle pulled over to make sure we had everything we needed.  Erin came flying by and said she would wait for me at the rest stop just a few miles ahead.

Bart and Dwight

the final rest stop
This was the final rest stop and left us 22.5 miles to the finish of our first century.  They had candy here.  I think I heard angels singing. 

I had some more peanut butter.  This time it was covered in chocolate and called itself Reese's.  We asked how the rest of the ride was.  I was not in the mood for any more climbing.  Lord have mercy, tell me we have no more climbing.  One of the SAG vehicle drivers asked us if we were "feeling strong".  I asked her why she wanted to know?  Was there something she needed to tell us?  She explained the roads and said there *was* more climbing but nothing like we had just done on Redwood Road.  Then, my answer was yes, we felt strong.

Pinehurst Road
Pinehurst Road was our next and final climb.  Knowing this did make it much easier.  I was playing leap frog with a guy until finally at a light we linked up and rode the final 17 miles together.  At least it was company and he was great at pointing out hazards in the road.  We came up on Bart and Dwight in the final seven miles so all four of us rode to the finish together.  They all knew this was my first century and cheered loudly for me when we pulled into the parking lot.  I was at the back of my car, just letting Keith and Sara know I had made it when I see Erin pull in.  She had the biggest smile on her face.  We hugged, high-fived and took a photo to remember the moment. 

We changed our shoes and put our bikes in the car before checking in and enjoying the barbecue that was prepared and waiting for us.  Chicken, salad, vegetarian pasta and fruit.  We sat at a table with four people we had seen throughout the final 45 miles of the ride and talked about the ups and downs (literally) of the ride.  We were all punch-drunk-happy.  I think all but one of them were first time century riders.

Erin and I were having trouble believing we actually completed a century.  I'm very proud of Erin and I'm even proud of myself.  I'm still soaking it all in.  It was quite an accomplishment.  It wasn't easy.  At several points in the ride, I was convinced I would not make it the entire way. 

But, I did make it the entire way.  I couldn't be happier about it.

Thanks for reading.

"MED2011 Accountability:
04/08 - 1.5 mile walk
04/09 - 1 mile walk, 40 mile bike ride, 1.5 mile walk
04/10 - 1 mile walk, Body Pump, 1.25 mile walk
04/11 - 1 mile walk, Body Pump, 2 mile walk
04/12 - "Camp24" class
04/13 - 1.65 mile walk, Body Pump, 2 mile run
04/14 - 2 mile walk
04/15 - 4 mile hike, 1 mile walk
04/16 - 3 mile run
04/17 - 100 mile bike ride!
04/18 - 2 mile walk

Until later.............

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cinderella Challenge Ride - April 2, 2011

As you know, I began training for this ride with Fremont Freewhelers back in January.  Each Saturday our rides were longer and more challenging.  This training series was absolutely perfect because when Saturday came and the ride was done, I easily could have kept on riding.

The ride started and ended at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds.  We were all meeting across the street at a business complex.  One of the women in our group works there and was kind enough to open up the parking lot to us and the building too, so we could use the bathrooms prior to riding over to check-in.  We met at 6:30 a.m. hoping for a 7:00 roll time.  It was still dark and a bit chilly.

After getting our gear together and taking some pre-ride photos, we made our way to check-in.  Since we didn't park in the event parking lot, I didn't realize how many women were there already.  The place was packed!  Check-in was pretty painless.  We got a number to put on our bike and I picked up the jersey I had pre-purchased.  I am so glad I had that jersey to put on because I was only wearing a sleeveless jersey with arm warmers and a vest.  I wore both jerseys all day.  By the time we all got checked in, went to the bathroom again and put our numbers on our bike, it was 7:30 already.  Finally, we are rolling.

This ride has a Classic ride, as well as the Challenge ride and it's all about women.  The Classic ride is a metric century and most of the women that day were doing that route.  The Challenge ride is 87 miles.  For the first ~30 miles, both groups share the same route.  After ~30 miles, the Challenge riders take a turn where the women separate themselves from the girls our climbing for the day begins.  Our first climb was Patterson Pass Road.  At the top of this road was a great view of the windmills on the Altamont Pass and a lot of cold wind.  Very cold wind.  Luckily there was a SAG vehicle up there and I tucked in behind it to block myself from the wind.  When I did this climb in training a month ago, I had to stop a couple of times and weave myself up the steepest part.  Saturday?  I went right up, without weaving.  It was great to see this improvement.

We then got the fun ride down the other side of Patterson Pass and took Grant Line Road under I-580 to *our* first rest stop.  (We elected to roll through the first rest stop at mile 15.)  At this rest stop there was probably a lot of good food and drinks but the only two things I remember was a shiny little pin to commemorate completing the Cinderella Challenge and a great big tray of Mother's frosted circus animal cookies!  I ate my fair share, let's just say that.

Kathryn & Soraya


Then it was time to tackle Altamont Pass Road.  Lord, the wind was ridiculous!  The nine of us got to take advantage of what we've been learning for the past three months.  Pace lining at its best.  We tucked in tightly behind each other and rode the hardest we could.  It was quite tiring, to say the least.  At one time I had to drop back, I just couldn't hold it any longer and I didn't want the girl behind me to suffer.  I went to the back and held on for dear life while I caught my breath.  After a few minutes I was able to get my strength back and got myself back to the front part of the pack.  Near the end of the pass the group had separated into three different groups and it was just me and Erin for a while, helping each other through.

We headed back over I-580 on Flynn Road for another nasty climb.  The wind was only getting worse.  There was no pace line happening here.  We were pretty much all on our own (I don't know why).  I kept my head, shoulders and elbows down and only lifted my eyes once in a while to make sure there was no hazard in the road ahead.  The final turn of the climb came upon me and suddenly the wind was stronger than ever.  I was moving so slowly, pushing and pulling the pedals up and breathing hard with each one.  It started to feel a little bit easier so I lifted my head up and realized I was beginning my descent.  Hallelujah.  I lifted my shoulders up and stopped pedaling, thinking I could coast down the hill.  Nope!  The wind was too strong and I almost came to a complete stop, going downhill.  After a short time I was down low enough so the wind was blocked by the hills and I could enjoy flying down to the next regroup. 

At the bottom of Flynn Road we were once again put back on course with the Classic riders.  I was so happy to know the climbing was behind me.  It was only going to get easier from there. 

We all pulled into the lunch stop together where we made ourselves HUGE sandwiches and scarfed them down.  I think I can speak for the whole group when I say we were elated to be at this point of the ride.

Lunch time!

After lunch we had about 30 miles left.  It was beautiful back roads with rolling green hills.  Speculation was the wind was going to beat us up but it was not as terrible as it could have been.  We made a group decision to skip the final rest stop that was 15 miles from the finish.  We stayed pretty close together and made excellent time back.  We were in extremely high spirits as we rolled into the fairgrounds together.  We were hollering at the other women that were walking or riding by us, already accomplishing their goals for the day.

Rolling in to the finish
We checked out, got our goody bags and sat down for our final meal together.  We chatted like a bunch of little girls on their last day of school before summer vacation.  We were happy we finished the ride in one piece but sad that we wouldn't be seeing each other on a regular basis now. 

I'm extremely happy I took a chance and signed up for this training and this ride.  I'm also happy I got Erin to sign up with me.  To see her improvement and dedication week after week was so refreshing.  I got to see her achieve things she was so nervous about even attempting.

Jean, Jennie, Me, Soraya, Kathryn, Vanessa, Karen, Erin

We did it!!!

Ten more days until my next big ride - The Diablo Century.  Erin and I are going solo this time.  We'll have to find some people to draft off of.  :)

"MED2011 Accountability"
04/01 - 1.25 mile walk, 2 mile walk
04/02 - 87 mile bike ride
04/03 - 1.25 mile walk
04/04 - 2 mile walk, Body Pump
04/05 - 32 mile bike ride, Body Pump, 2 mile walk
04/06 - 1.25 mile walk, Body Pump

Until later.............