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.


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.




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.



Ideal Weight…What ever my license says

Jean LucTuesday, 18 March 2014

Yes I am a pirate.  And a Trekkie.  (This is funny only if you are a Parrotthead.)

Always be yourself, unless you can be a pirate.  Then always be a pirate.

Today I weigh what it says on my drivers license.


The day I filled out my drivers license form (11/09/09), I weighed 150 pounds, which I’m delighted to weigh again, today.  It’s been 5 years, 2 months, and 26 days since the scale showed me that number.  The last time was on my b-day in 2009.  I was recovering from major surgery and hadn’t eaten much of anything for about a week.

Today, I am at my goal weight.  Somebody alert Weight Watchers…they’ve been waiting a long time to hear that.

I have a friend who is a paramedic in Sanger, CA.  He tells me that when people are on the gurney being taking to the hospital they LIE to the paramedics about their weight.  This friend tells me paramedics can guess a person’s weight within about 5 lbs.

At this weight I don’t lie.  I say the number a lot.  Because I don’t weigh 110.  Or 125.  Which is what women in our society are supposed to weigh.  Or 135, which is the maximum number I should weigh, according to the charts.  Although I think that I may be officially obese, weighing 15 pounds over some old white guy’s “ideal” weight for me.  (Where’s the calculator…11% over my pre-assigned maximum ideal weight…probably not obese, just overweight.)

I’d like to thank the Academy.  I’d like to thank the UCI Weight Management Program for providing the program that helped me get to my goal originally, a maintenance system that helped me manage my health, and the program that brought me back down to goal.  I’d like to thank Carlos Romero, who’s Ironman effort last year got me off the dime of “wishing” and moved me into action.  And me.  Thank you to me for doing the work to get here.


I have a bunch of goals this year and I’ve already completed two of them — lose 19 pounds and try cycling — and it’s only March!!  Those were actually the two hardest goals…the rest require work but will flow naturally as the year moves along.  Tomorrow I start working on my #2 and #3 goals for the year:  (2) keep the weight off and (3) balance training fueling and weight management.

Training:  Running, 2 miles

Swimming is Getting Better

2-10-14 Pool10 February 2014, Monday

Remember the last time you got better at something?  I’m getting better at swimming.  Tonight I did 13 laps without stopping.  My Garmin is completely confused about the distance; as near as I can tell it’s recording precisely double the distance.  (Obviously I put the pool size information in incorrectly.)  A mile is 1733 yards and I went 750 yards; less than 1/2 but more than 1/4.  (The extent of my math.)

In the beginning I was gasping after two laps.  Gasping hanging over the edge of the pool for two minutes recovering.  My arms and legs could have done more, but I had no more air at all.  Now, I can breathe easily (on both sides) and I’m not exhausted.  Really, I’m just quitting because I got to the count for the night.

I’ve evolved to the point that I can think about other things while counting to three (to take a breath).  Now that I’ve figured out a way to count and not loose track (and I have the Garmin to help, sorta), I don’t have to concentrate so much on counting.

2-10-14 swim stroke

I suppose swimming faster is next, if you want to compete at any level.  Do I want to do that?  Unknown.  God knows I don’t want the spend the time in the pool that the swimmers of my youth did — remember those kids in high school that were in the pool every morning at like 6 AM?  (Probably not that early, but what did I know.  I was asleep.)

On the other hand, I promised myself I’d swim regularly 3x week for at least a quarter to see how it changed the shape of my body.  Results as of this moment — not much change.  But it hasn’t been anywhere near a quarter and I haven’t done it more than twice a week regularly.  However, now that I’ve found the slots in the week to get it done and it’s easier/doable, the regular work will come.

Wanting to be faster sorta ruins things.  I want to run faster to be better for myself.  What about running just for the fun of running.  Answer for me:  not that much fun on its own terms, but I feel VERY empowered by the act of running and it’s VERY therapeutic for me.

And the new biking thing I’m liking A LOT, but I find the financial investment daunting.  At least this year.

Whatever – tonight, the happy dance for visible/noticeable improvement!!

2-10-14 pool lanes

Maybe a cycle?

IMG_0977[1]Friday, 7 February 2014

Went for a ride today.  I rode around the parking lot, practicing stopping and going, clipping and unclipping.

Riding VERY carefully along the super skinny river bank bike path, way on the wrong side of the path.  I picked a point to practice stopping.  Stopped safety (no other bikes or people around).  Then fell over into clipped side, scraping knee (but not tearing tights – how does that happen?).  Got myself up and re-organized.  A guy rode by me from behind and said “are you alright”.  “I’m fine.  A beginner.”

Wore padded shorts.  This was good.  I wore long running tights over the shorts because it was chilly (for CA).  Mock turtleneck, fuzzy jacket, and neck thing (buff?).  And gloves.  All comfortable.  I need a better place to carry phone.

Had a lovely time.  The park was GREEN, green, green.  The sky was BRIGHT blue.  The sun smack in my eyes as I headed west.  Cool.  So different than running the same space.

Afterwards I was a little wobbly — maybe needed fuel.  But after that, I was full of comments on facebook — endorphins?

Second BEST story of the day.  Trifling minor knee pain at the end of the ride.  It’s a function of strengthening the quads.  I’m working on that.

Best story of the day.  My experience with cycling is in competitions.  Actually I have NO experience with cycling competitions — doing or watching.  But it’s my impression that my friends who cycle tend to do it in competitions.  I’m not 100% sure I need to do this.  But touring would be a different story altogether.  Gliding along, looking around.  It was fun today.  I saw a picture in a magazine, recently, of a bunch of people on bikes in the Tuscany region of Italy.  I assume you have to contemplate hills — but I wonder if you have to contemplate the kind of big hills that triathletes train on/for?

I won’t know until mid-March if this is the year I can take on the expense of cycling.  (I’m guessing 5K — and all that new knowledge.)


Riding a Bike

IMG_0977[1]   Friday, 31 January 2014

This afternoon I went for a bike ride through El Dorado Park.  I went alone, and it was a little chilly.  But it was a whole bunch of practice.

And the LAST time I’m riding without padded shorts.  Yikes!


First I rode around the parking lot and practiced stopping and starting, clipping and un-clipping.  Then I had to scout out the route to the path — up the exit amongst a bunch of cars, then across a cross walk, onto a path.

The bike path has a stripe down the middle, dividing the coming and going, and the one side along the river was VERY narrow.  That was scary.  I ended up riding along on the wrong side of the path (no oncoming bikes) because I wasn’t certain enough to ride on the skinny half close to the edge of the river.

Then I rode around the archery part of the park twice – about 4.5 miles.  I run this ALL the time in the summer and I know how long it takes to run.  Riding along the same path (not the street) was super fast.

They are building two dog parks near the Spring Street entrance.  One for big dogs and one for little dogs.  The little dog park has just one bench for humans.

Then I rode along the river to the other part of El Dorado, where the lakes are located.  I rode on the street, opposite the way you run.  Twice.  Mirella tells me this is 1.8 miles, so that was 3.6 miles.  And I think the route to and from the car was a at least 1/2 mile each way, so the entire event was about 8.5-9 miles.  You have to be thinking about snapping your foot out while you’re evaluating whatever is upcoming.

The sky was fabulous



All good.  The one fly in the ointment is that my right knee hurts with every stroke (cycle?  turn?  push?). Next time I have to put on phiten before I start.