Riding (for) 1/2 A Century

cyclistMonday, 29 June 2015

Yesterday I rode 50 miles on a bike as part of the LA Bicycle Coalition’s “LA River Ride”.  The whole process…ride out, stop for snacks at the 1/2-way point, ride back…probably took about 4:15.  Not the best 4 hours of my athletic life, and no where near the worst.

I have almost nothing interesting or enlightening to say about the experience except I got a bruise on the back of my right calf, where it goes into the knee joint.  While riding, I thought it was chafing and I could not imagine how/on what.  Apparently the repetitive smacking against the elastic on the bottom of my bike shorts caused the bruise.

I love cycling.  But today I don’t get the push to ride faster, faster, faster (and farther).  Yes, it’s true that the first time on a bike, when I was pushed to 12 mph, I was outraged, thinking “nobody needs to go this fast.  This is completely stupid.”  And now that’s my meandering speed.  So, maybe it’s the same thing.  I just don’t “get” it yet.

Why it is, do you suppose, that I’m drawn to these odd ball endurance events?  So few people do marathons, why have I done several?  I don’t know, but I suspect that even fewer people have ridden a bike super long distances (taking the general population into consideration).  Why is that appealing to me?

Thinking about activities in the coming months, cycling is going to be high on the list.  Strength climbing hills on a bike is definitely on my list.  So, I guess father is going to be on the list too.  I just don’t know about dramatically faster.

Where are my swimsuits?

swim suit 225 June 2015

It’s been like well over a year since I wrote anything here.  And today I had two posts.

But this one is why I should keep up with news — for myself.

My swimsuits have disappeared.  I know I bought two different style suits about 2 years ago because I wrote about them.  I have no idea what happened to those suits.  So I just ordered exactly the same thing on Lands’ End.  And I was flipping back and forth between the post and the Lands End catalog page to find the suit that I really liked.

The picture above is of a relatively inexpensive swim suit ($35) that is butt ugly.  The picture below is of another relatively inexpensive suit that looks GREAT on but you cannot tell why in the picture and I cannot remember why.  I just remember writing about the difference in the two suits.

swim suit 3

Apparently I’m getting ready to swim, again.

Clogging Down the Highway


Before I forget…a couple of months ago there was an article in the LA times about this woman/company who does custom fitting of clogs (worn, apparently by the rich, famous, and those on their feet all day).  This woman worked in LA for years then moved to Oregon and now returns to LA once a quarter (or twice a year, I forget which) and does fittings.  I jumped on the band wagon and sent an e-mail to get an appointment.

The fitting is free, the clogs are made by a company in Minnesota (?).  You only pay for the shoes, which start at $155/pair.

And to get to the fitting, you have to get a confirmed appointment to a particular address (a single door) in West LA.  You are admitted only if your name is on the list.  The woman is fitting 3 people at once.  She is talking about shoes, past clients, local foot doctors, etc. while 2 minions are bring clogs to the people being fitted.  She is telling people things about their feet (including insulting their shoe choices) while doing the fitting.  She had nothing negative to say about my Altra shoes — but the people wearing Sketchers and Crocs got an earful.  And she generally made negative comments about the every-day shoes people wear.  Since I wear a German-made shoe for “every day”, I didn’t get that line of lecture, either.

And, in the end, she said I had an easy foot to fit.  She suggested a size, I selected a color/style, and off I went.

Driving home I found myself wondering on two different points…

1.  Custom?

These are CUSTOM fitted shoes.  And yet, she forced people into matched pair.  What I mean is that she told me that my left foot is 1/2 size bigger than my right foot.  So one would think my shoes would be R-size X, and L-size X1/2.  But no.  My size is X (39).  She said I had a normal, easy to fit foot.

The woman sitting next to my has recently had ankle replacement surgery (whatever that means), and could NOT stand the pressure of the suggested size across the scar on her left foot.  I don’t know what happened to that woman, in the end, but while I was there the sizes/fit offered weren’t wearable.   Why bother to get a custom fitting if you’re going to be forced into a single size with single dimensions.

The clogs come on narrow, medium, and wide wood bases with small, regular, and large leather top pieces.  I cannot imagine why the manufacturer cannot reach into the 39 wide bin for a right and the 39 1/2 wide bin for a left, and put matching top pieces on them.

If these shoes revolutionize my feet, as they say they will, then who the heck cares what I have to say.

2.  Dollars

Everybody in the “shop” when I was there was a new customer.  (Probably 6 people in various stages of buying shoes.)  Of those 6 people, 5 of them bought multiple pair of clogs — having never worn them before — spending many hundreds of dollars.

Why would you spend that much on a thing you’ve never tested?

I bought one pair, black leather top on black wood sole.  If I like them, I can buy another pair.


Opposite Ends of the Season

CaptureThursday, 30 October 2014

The WORST run of my training is the first one each season.  (Which doesn’t coincide with the start of any “official” training season.)  That run invariably is 3 miles around the Rose Bowl.  I run with a coach.  Which makes it doubly terrible because I’m embarrassing myself in front of someone who gets PAID to do this.  Usually I can’t run the whole three miles, we have to walk some.  And I have to stop to go to the bathroom during the run, usually twice.

The only thing that makes it bearable (and I’ve done this more than once) is that I know I will get better over time.

The BEST run of my training season is the last training run.  Usually the coach and I come around the last turn of the Rose Bowl, run across the street, and run with real strength across the parking lot to our parked cars.  I love that run across the parking lot.  It’s maybe 1/4 mile at the most.  But I’m so strong.  I’ve come so far.  I feel so good about life.  And it’s the one single run of the year that I’m really running with the coach (OK, not at his pace, but ‘way faster than usual).

I did that last run tonight, alone.  It was a GREAT run.  The first two miles appear to be slow on the Garmin, because I had to stop and take so many pictures of the amazingly gorgeous sunset.





But once I quit taking pictures the split times were great.  The whole bike path felt slightly downhill (which it is not).  I felt great.  I am sorry not to have shared this final run with the coach…it’s probably the best 5 minutes of the training season.  But, it was pretty great, nonetheless.

I’m running a 5k on Sunday.  And a marathon the following week.  BAM.

Cycling…6 Month Update

LeAnn and Stacey16 October 2014

Wow.  It’s been 6 months since my last post.  Guess I’ve been busy.  Or uninterested.

In the last six months, I’ve lifted weights (once a week), done yoga (after running on Saturdays), run (a ton), and ridden (ridden?) a fair bit.  Do I do anything else?  I don’t think so.  See (two different) nutritionists, each once a week.  Get a weekly massage.  See the foot guy every other week.  See the acupuncturist on the weeks I don’t see the foot guy.

I haven’t been swimming all summer.  In part, I think, because swimming in the late afternoon in the summer is like being in a toilet.  Literally.  Although I do like moving through the water.  Interesting to see if I swim more this winter.

I feel like my training regimen is remarkably limited…probably not.  Just what I feel.  What else could I be doing?  Spinning?  No, I don’t really like being indoors on a bike.  Mat pilates or yoga.  Maybe.  Yoga is super early on Saturday evenings (6 PM).  Mat pilates is super early on Sunday  mornings — which I’m probably not going to get up for in the winter.  Zumba (my coach, Mr. “I Don’t Dance” is taking Zumba).  Maybe, if at a convenient time.

Michele LeAnn Alicia

But I am compelled to re-engage because Sunday I participated in the Long Beach Marathon Bike Tour.  My first cycling event.  It was surprizingly scary and hard.

Scary because it starts at 6 AM, in the complete dark (street lights and such are on).  And scary because there are like 3,000 riders — probably only 1,000 interacted with me — but there are people zooming past in the dark and on hairpin turns.

Hard because it was hard.  I rode with Michele (light years better that me) and Alicia (sound waves better than me).  They rode together and chatted while I followed closely behind (a lot of the way) and tried to keep up (the rest of the way).  About mile 11 of a 20-mile ride I fell significantly behind and had to really work to catch up.  About mile 17 they rode off and I finished up alone.  As I was riding along there at the end, I was thinking “this is not fun”.  There’s nothing fun about being buzzed on both sides by people MUCH faster/better than me or about riding in the dark on an unknown course with hairpin turns.  There was really not much fun in working so hard for an hour plus.  I’m not sure a bigger (longer) cycling event would be fun.

When I was changing clothes — from cycling gear to work gear for the rest of the day — my hair was soaked from the scalp to the dripping off the ends…12-15 inches of soaking wet.  (You don’t know you’re sweating on the bike like you do when running, because your clothes are wicking sweat away from the skin and the wind is drying it off.)

I really like cycling.  I’m clearly improving (from having never been on a bike, to riding 20+ miles clipped in).  But the work to get better — really?

Carlos on a BikeCarlos Romero is one of my inspirations in life right now.  And he’s a dauntingly fabulous cyclist.  But there’s nothing appealing to me about this picture.  This is probably how he gets better.  But really.  Riding looking at a wall (maybe listening to music, I cannot tell — I could be listening to an audio book), with a fan blowing on you, feet a blur.  (Fire extinguisher ready in case his feet catch fire.)  Doesn’t look like fun to me.

On the other hand, I am voluntarily going to run 5 hours this weekend.  Most people cannot imagine doing that.  I cannot imagine doing it.  I just do it.

As my “A” race approaches (French Riviera Marathon — Nice to Caan (France) on November 9th), I am peaking and getting ready to taper.  I am grateful for the generous support from the universe — a great number of people have contributed to my success this season.  Without naming all those peep (because I’ll forget someone) let me just say a heartfelt THANK YOU.  I am humbled.

Asian GirlsPicture of three Asian girls.  The Asians look for me for this picture.  (I do crack myself up.)

LeAnn and StevePicture of an amazing work team.  I am extraordinarily lucky.




Gratitude…and a Bad Day

IMG_3762Wednesday, 23 April 2014

This is a post full of babies, trees, sky, and leaves.  Because, the Universe is generous to me.


I had a bad day at work.  I hardly ever talk about work because it’s so great.  But today there was a reorganization and I don’t like what happened.  (Although I am rarely right at first blush on these things.  And I will be MUCH better tomorrow; a night’s sleep helps a lot.)


And somebody (accidentally, I’m sure) took my car key at the gym, so I had to take a cab back and forth to get a key from my house and then back to the car.  (I could have ridden, but it was rush hour and all the streets to get there were busy.)  So there was a (admittedly) little unexpected outlay of cash.


And then, I had to go to a group meeting where I was expecting to have to pay $400+ for a year’s membership.  And I was trying to decide if it’s worth that much money to me…recognizing as I tried to think about it that today is NOT a good day for me to be making that decision.


And I didn’t want to go to the meeting (part of the “worth it” conversation in my head).  The meeting starts at 7:15, it doesn’t get over until 8:15 or so, I don’t get home until about 8:45 or so.  Do I want to commit to being out every Wednesday night?


But when I got to the meeting I am, for unexplainable reasons, paid up through the middle of May.  No decision required this evening.


So, even tho’ it was a pretty stinky day.  In the end, I got the relief that I needed to think more clearly about all this later.

The End.



Training Under Way

IMG_0896[1]Thursday, 11 April 2014

Last week I did a baseline run with my running coach and it was GREAT for a first run of the season.  It was also great for a couple of things that did not happen…I did not have to stop and pee 1/2 way through the run, and I ran the whole thing.  (Having a professional coach and pooping out during a training session is probably one life’s most embarrassing moments…not to mention a waste of time and money for both runner and coach.)

Today I did a TERRIBLE run with that same coach.  I had to stop TWICE for the bathroom.  And I pooped out (bad choice of words) in between those two stops.  I said at the end, “I’d feel better if you yelled at me.”  He said not all training days can be the best day.  Diplomatic, no?  Such a waste of his time.  So embarrassing.

Everything was the same — same shoes, same clothes, same time of day, etc.  I don’t know what to say.  Run more, I guess.

00 Big Sur Bridge

I certainly have to run longer between now and the 27th, when I have a leg of the Big Sur Marathon Relay to support.  My 5-mile leg of the relay ends 2 miles from the bridge in the picture.  But I’m going to continue on with my good friend Brian to run over this bridge at which point I’ll stop or continue or whatever.

French Riveria

In scheduling news, I did not get into the NYC Marathon.  I decided not to go to Berlin.  So, my “A” race this year will be the French Riveria Marathon on November 9th.  Nice to Caan, along the Mediterranean.  It’s completely flat except one big up hill and down hill in the middle of the course.  My official goal is 5:59:59.  I want to be thoughtful in races between now then (I said I’d run 14 races to be like Monica, and maybe I will, but maybe I won’t).  I don’t need to run every thing that comes along.  And I want to run them when I’m ready.

It’s interesting coming back from an injury.  I, at least, want to be thoughtful about what I’m doing.  I’d like to do all these things — running, swimming, now cycling — for years and  years more.  And I don’t need to do any one thing to the exclusion of others.  So, I want to build running mileage knowing that I’m probably never going to try and go as far for as long as I did between 2012 and 2013.  And taking a break between big races.  And thinking about races coming up.  Starting with Big Sur.