…so it turns out, biking isn’t so terrible when you bring water with you.

Last night, I had made plans to swim with a friend for the first time in many months. I was actually pretty excited about it since it was supposed to rain all day and, I must admit, I just kind of feel like swimming. I’m making an effort to cross-train more, so swimming is going to be a must in my future. And I started Chrissie Wellington’s memoire (I plan to finish it tonight), so thinking about tris and reading her story has me all amped up about swimming.

But lo and behold, I woke up at the crack of 9:15 and it was sunny and not too warm. I could feel a gentle breeze wafting through my open windows and I knew I wouldn’t be spending my exercise time indoors. (Luckily, my friend had ended up staying up late and was not feeling up to a 10-am swim, so no harm no foul there.) I added some air to my tires, strapped on my helmet because I’m an adult now, glanced at the time and headed out.

I wasn’t sure how far I’d go; I knew I wanted to be out for at least 90 mins, probably two hours (which is what it ended up being). I just didn’t know how far that would take me. I was feeling good, and I spent the first several miles debating about whether or not to bike all the way back to my parents’ place. I’ve done that ride only once, but attempted it one other time. I had started out fully intending to bike back, but after my planned “quick break” at home turned into a few hours of hanging around, I knew I wasn’t going to bike back. I got my dad to drive me back, I think. So today, although I was feeling great (and had capri-length spandex on to avoid at least some chafing), I was honest with myself. I knew that if I went home, my motivation to bike 25 miles back to town would plummet and I’d bum a ride and end up with a subpar biking day.

An hour into my ride, the road I was on, Huron River Drive, turned into a dirt road. I could have continued left or right on pavement, but I didn’t want to put myself in one of those “I’m feeling good now, so I’ll keep going! It can’t be that bad!” situations where I go out too far, then struggle with the return trip. I hopped out of the saddle for a quick stretch (and to confirm on my phone that my parents’ place was farther than I thought it would be, so I should not carry on to there), then turned around. The ride back, as it always does, seemed to go faster. I think this is mainly because on the way out, I was keeping loose track of how long it had been and deciding how far out I’d go. The way back was simple: just go back the way you came, and you’ll get there when you get there. And for the love of god, actually try on the hills.

Which I did. As with running, sometimes I fail to realize that a hill is happening to me until I’m a third of the way up, then I just settle into a trudge rather than try to power up the hill. I tell myself, “You aren’t going to get better at hills by not working on them. So work up this one.” The thing is, I really, really dislike biking uphill. At this stage, it’s at least in part because I’m not in uphill biking shape at all (short of the anatomical fact that I have quads). But there’s just something tedious and frustrating about it: you’re pedaling and pedaling, gears whirring and your legs burning, and you’re barely moving. (Reiterating here: out of shape.) With running, even if you’re moving slowly uphill, it feels like less work to be moving slowly. To me, moving slowly uphill on a bike is pure torture because it feels so damn inefficient, putting in a bunch of work and seeing little movement.

But today, for the most part, I did decently on the hills. The very last one, on a bridge just before town, had me swearing like a sailor, but for the most part I just did it. It definitely helped that unlike my last ride, I brought water. I wore my Nathan pack. I don’t know why people mess around with bottles on bikes; unclipping the slurpy bit and drinking hands-free seems like a much more obvious and convenient way to go. Maybe they don’t like the back sweat from the pack. Maybe it’s the weight (though you could just not fill it the whole way). At any rate, it made my ride much more enjoyable and probably better quality. I rode into Kerrytown, sweaty and absolutely ravenous. I bought a bagel and two plums and scarfed them outside the shop, which I found a little odd. Usually after running far, I’m not hungry for hours, but even a few miles before I finished, I knew I would be really, really hungry when I stopped. I could already feel it.

I got home, ate more things, read more of Chrissie’s book (which is fantastic, I definitely recommend it even if you’re not into tris), then climbed for a little under three hours. So it’s just shy of 9 p.m. and I am ready for bed. (My legs aren’t tired, though; next week I think I will attempt the 50 miles to and from home.)

Moral of the story: biking is actually pretty okay. Which means I definitely need to invest in some good (read: padded!) biking shorts.

Peace love and a number of sports, all of which one can derive pleasure from,
bec

PS. I intended to take some pictures, but I was maintaining a semi-decent pace (about 15mph) and didn’t feel like stopping. It was green and blue and pretty, along the Huron River most of the way. It also rained at one point, but it was still very sunny. A perfect combination.

When you give a runner a soccer ball… or a frisbee…

Growing up, my parents didn’t force me into any one sport. In middle school, I “played” volleyball. I put it in quotes because I was not very good. I dabbled in running. Then in high school, I started to actually discover running and that was pretty much it for the next five years. Sophomore year of college – maybe freshman, I don’t remember – I started climbing and, once I had an apartment, took up yoga. More recently, there’s been a tiny bit of swimming, and of course lifting. But you may notice something is lacking from that list – anything involving bats, balls, skates, etc. Nothing involving more coordination than my own body.

I would like to be able to play casual games of soccer or toss a frisbee around. I’m working on the latter, kind of, but tonight was a sad display of how much external coordination I lack. After a while, I could at least get the frisbee to go in roughly the right direction, but it almost always fell far short of my goal. And soccer – let’s just say that if I had shame, it would have been shameful. Luckily I was with good friends who mocked me while giving me actual helpful advice, so I could eventually get the ball to go farther than, say, ten feet (I am not exaggerating). But I want to expand my skill set (read as “be less laughably terrible at kicking and throwing things”). Just because.

On a running-related note, I’ve been feeling oddly unmotivated to run this week, partially because I’m worried about my shins and partially because I planned on doing a longer run but kept waking up too late to get out to the trails. Which is a bummer because the weather this week has been absolutely lovely, nice and cool and not that humid. I’ll get to it eventually.

In the meantime, I made chocolate vegan pudding chock-full of protein.

1 block silken tofu
3 scoops (3/4C) soy protein powder
About 3/4C soy milk
1/4C cocoa powder
PB and sweetener to taste, plus toppings of your choice. Raspberries were also delicious.

Just throw it in a food processor and eat!

Peace love and yummy healthy(?) things,
bec

My like/strongly dislike relationship with biking

I was planning on doing 18 this weekend after my run last weekend, but then my shins started hinting at being sore again and I want to avoid that at all costs, so I’m waiting a few more days for my shins – and the weather – to cool off. (I’m banking on that cold front coming in and wiping out this humidity – I figure Tuesday afternoon/evening should work.) So I ran twice this week, just 12 miles total, and decided to bike today since it’s really nice out and I was stuck inside doing calc for too long. I was getting antsy and needed to move.

So I biked. I put on my spandex – which is FAR too short for biking, I need to fix that – and my helmet (hi, mom! I really did wear it! This convinced me) and filled up my tires and hit the road. It was warm and sunny and biking provided a breeze, so the weather was pretty nice, and biking along the river is green and shady and gorgeous this time of year. I ended up biking out to Dexter and hanging out at a park there for about 15 minutes just watching the river. Then I biked back.

Now, that sounds very nice, right? A lovely late afternoon bike ride along the river. That’s the “like” part of this post. The “strongly dislike” part is mainly hills. I really really really despise biking up hills. (Probably because I’m terrible at it, but that’s not the point.) And if the road is bumpy, which in Michigan it probably is, especially after this winter, it’s just hellish – for your body and your poor bike. I cringe every time I go over the best available option in the road (aka, the least bumpy, which is still very bumpy for a road bike). And I need longer spandex. Mine was all up in my business and it wasn’t the most comfortable thing.

But, after all is said and done, it was in fact a nice ride and I enjoyed it. In other news, I FINALLY got new trail shoes! My PureGrits were so beat up and worn down and worn through that they just couldn’t go on. Donc, je vous presente…

NEW PUREGRITS

YAAAAAAAAY

today just keeps getting better

PUREGRIT 2s. I got them because they were cheap and I love my PureGrits so I didn’t want to change. I’ll test them out this week – not on my long run, though.


…yeah, I definitely needed new ones. I haven’t gotten a new pair since 2012 and I forgot how absolutely joyous new running shoes are.  🙂  Now I just need PureFlow 2s and NBWR00 for working out… (my Merrell Bare Access have holes too).

Alrighty, off to eat watermelon. Peace love and… biking?
bec

Swum is a weird word.

But it applies to what I have done today. I have swum! For the second time.

I admit that before I started, swimming was absolutely the last thing I wanted to do. When my alarm went off that first morning last week, I woke up already dreading the morning. The chilly bike ride to the gym, slipping into freezing water, and trying not to flail around too much. I biked there like I was biking to my execution.

I was meeting one of my friends where; she’s a swimmer, triathlete, and climber, so she offered to show me the ropes – the ropes being the very basics of freestyle. I dropped into the pool – and hey! It wasn’t anywhere near as cold as the pool back home! We spent about an hour swimming and working on my form, and I saw some improvements – but the confidence and naturalness of the stroke wasn’t there yet. (It still isn’t 100%, but it’s better.) I met up with her again this morning (earlier, even – it was still dark out when I left) and I swam for about an hour and a half. And I felt so much better this time, once I remembered what swimming feels like! I kept my face deeper in the water, I worked on my recovery stroke, and I started keeping my hips/feet closer to the surface. And the breathing. I’m getting there.

So yeah. Now that I know swimming isn’t the worst thing ever – it’s even (dare I say it) fun – I’ll definitely be doing that a couple times a week, along with my usual biking and (this is new too) lifting. I quite like lifting. It’s a good complement to climbing and it feels good and I’m okay at it. Turns out ultra legs are good for squats.

And swimming makes you tired. Especially if you go the morning after working out for an hour and a half.

peace love and running and biking and swimming and climbing and lifting,
becca