Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend +

One of the great things about being a teacher (besides the joy of molding young minds, being adored by a roomful of first graders, and having such an impact on the future, of course) is being off for holidays.  Our holiday schedule has been pretty thin this year, though...no Veteran's Day? No Pulaski Day? I know most everyone without a teaching job is rolling their eyes and muttering about 6 hour workdays and such (don't get me started), but teaching can be a high-stress job (certainly is this semester) and some of those "extra" days off are all that stand between me an a nervous breakdown (or at least a bottle of wine).  Because of this, even though we were just off last Monday for President's Day, the two snow days we had Thursday and Friday were kind of a godsend.

I can't blame my stress level on lack of exercise.  I've been staying pretty consistent with getting in workouts.  Right now I've got two goal races I'm training for.  There's the 5K I'm hoping to PR (aiming for sub-25 min) in April.  I know I've mentioned before that usually once I've run a distance I lose almost all motivation to actually train for it. This is the first time I've ever had a pace goal, though, other than my secret, pie-in-the-sky goal for my first half marathon, and the only time the pace has been my primary goal.  It's kind of exciting.  Last Saturday I ran 7.5 hilly miles, and I hit the gym Wednesday night for my scheduled speedwork run. Which, weird as it is to say, I nailed.

Goal: W/u, 3 x1600 @ 8:36 with 800 jogs, c/d.  Those 1600s were 8:07 (and I finished smiling), 8:05, and 8:02 (no longer smiling, this one was tough).  Still not at the point where I feel confident about stringing three 8ish minute miles together, but there's time til April.

I also have that little 200 mile bike race looming in June.  The sting of last year's DNF hasn't worn off one bit, and it's definitely prodded me to get on the bike.  Last February I rode 62 miles total; this February I'm currently at 231.  If I can stay consistent over the next few months and get in a few century rides, I'll feel pretty good about my body's chances of finishing this year.  Of course, the weather is always a major factor, but as long as I've taken care of the things I can control, I'm content with whatever happens.  I was out of town for a wedding this weekend, but the extra snow days gave me a chance to get in a few extra miles on the trainer.  While I'd far prefer to ride outside, it's a lot easier to stagger downstairs in the morning to put in 30-60 min on the trainer before work or to ride while watching a movie with my son.

Of course no snow day would be complete without some snow play. We built a fort, threw snowballs, and (my favorite) went for a snow hike.

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Only the animals beat us out to this section of trail.
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Very happy pair
We hiked about two miles, with J and the dog running all the downhills.  I may run regularly, but that kid can easily outsprint me (in boots, even!), plus he's braver running down snow-covered hills.  We had a blast, including a dog-assisted slide down suicide hill.  The only disappointment was when we realized he forgot to try peeing his name in the snow.  Next time, for sure.

The highlight of the weekend, though, had to be my Team Virtus teammate Bob's wedding.  Since we usually all spend time together in races or long rides (or occasional bachelor parties), it was funny to all be in the same place all dressed up.

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We didn't get around to taking a picture til we were all sweaty from dancing and well hydrated, but I promise we looked pretty spectacular.
Even though I wasn't in a sweaty jersey and argyle knee socks, I was still rocking my characteristic braids, with a twist.

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I can't even tell you what a wonderful night it was.  My teammates and their families have definitely become like family to me, plus there were so many other good friends there too.  And a great time was had by all, even my husband and 9-year old son.

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Incidentally, that's my Dirty Kanza training plan behind the pictures.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Best. week. ever.

This past week...I could get used to weeks like these.  Even when you take into account the fact that it was one of those weeks at school where every morning found me wanting to hide under my covers until the day was over...
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...and my big fail in Wendesday's tempo run...



...it was still an awesome week.


1.  After wanting a cross bike for over a year and painstakingly saving up some the money, I got a great deal on an Airborne Delta.  A cross bike with disc brakes...it sure sounds like a match made in heaven for me and my brake-loving ways.  I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have the question of what I'm going to ride for Dirty Kanza settled in plenty of time for my new bike and I to get to know each other.  I really want that 200 sticker and finisher's glass.
2.  Since October I've been following a pretty consistent Paleo diet, and I'm finding more and more that it works for me.  While I don't talk about losing weight much on my blog (because, um...it's rare for me, and also it's really not my focus), I'm now down 17 pounds and almost exactly halfway to where I think I want to be.  It's enough that people around me are starting to notice, and it's enough that my favorite jeans, the smallest size jeans I've worn since high school, have gotten baggy.  Which leads me to...



3.  Friday after work I bought the new smallest size jeans I've worn since high school.  In fact, I'm pretty sure I never saw that number in high school.  Now, part of that has to be different sizing, and full disclosure requires me to tell you that fitting into these new jeans doesn't mean fitting in with no muffin top...but I got them on without advanced calesthenics or a crowbar, so it counts in my book!



4.  Ever since I first heard of High Profile Adventure Camp in my early days of stalking my AR team, their hilarious reports from camp made camp a must-do event for me, and my experience spending the better part of an hour hanging from a wall at Thunder Rolls just reinforced the unfortunate reality that I'm not really a learn-it-on-the-go type of girl. 

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It's hard to see it because of the sunlight, but this is the face of utter defeat.

We have big plans to not suck at this year's Thunder Rolls 24 hr, and that means that I need some actual ropes practice.  I was thrilled to find out that I'll be able to volunteer at camp this year, get some more ropes experience, and see Robyn Benincasa, one of my heroes.  I kind of feel like I know here a little already since tidbits from her talks have entered into the Team Virtus lexicon, but I'm super excited to get to hear her speak for myself.

In addition to all this extra-special goodness, I've been running regularly and making peace with the bike trainer.  It's early going, but so far 2013 is looking good to be the year that I turn over a new leaf training-wise (and actually train). 

What about you? Anything happy happening in your life?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The 8-Year Plan

If you read my Super Century blog post, you might remember that I watched Ride the Divide and was really caught up by the movie. If you're connected to me on Facebook, you might have seen me posting more about it. I'm currently a little obsessed with this race, you guys. It looks amazing and hard and terrifying.

 I want to do it. Mark my words, if you're still reading my blog in 8 years, you're going to be reading about my preparations for the 2021Tour Divide. After I decided on an 8 year goal, I did the math and realized I'll be 48 that year. That threw me a little, but when I thought about it, many of the people regularly kicking my butt on bikes and riding circles around me are 8-10 years older than I am (also, many are much younger than I am. Whatever.) Age doesn't have to be an obstacle to adventure; in my case, that's 8 more years of bike experience and growing confidence. Besides, Jill Homer's post on women of the 2012 Tour Divide listed several 40+ women.

 Why 8 years? Well, I think by that time my life will be more conducive to a tackling a 4ish week, 2,700 mile adventure (because once you've got a family and responsibilities, there's probably no good time to take off for a month on your bike).
  • We should be in a significantly better financial position so that my adventures don't prohibit family adventures or keep my husband from being able to chase his dreams.
  • My youngest will be in his late teens and plenty old enough to deal with me being away for a month.
  • My husband will have nearly a month a vacation time, freeing him to be part of the departure and/or end of the race.
  • It may take me 8 years to learn some basic bike wrenching skills so I'm not left with double-digit hike-a-bikes in the absence of mechanically inclined good Samaritans.
  • The next several years will give me the opportunity to start doing some smaller bike-packing trips, acquiring gear, and figuring out what works for me.
And a final, slightly embarrassing "why 8 years?"
  • At first I thought a 5-year plan would be good; then I decided it would be cool to do the Tour Divide in 2020...and forgot that it was 2013 now. Once I'd (mis)calculated the time til 2020, the number 8 just seemed right.
So...am I crazy? Maybe. Stupid? Well, clearly math isn't my best subject. Excited? You bet.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Century II

There's a Brad Paisley song I love which includes the lyric "Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once..."  The Super Century, on the other hand, falls more under "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

That said, I can't pretend I thought this year's Super Century would be fun.  I clearly remembered it as being gloriously terrible; I just emphasized the wrong part.  The original idea, the brainchild of Team Virtus's Casey, features a 100K indoor trainer ride (though alternate events such as 100 pull-ups, 11-mile foot races, and outdoor rides are welcome as well). The main goal is suffering (and burning off calories before the Super Bowl binge), and participants are encouraged to share their pain via facebook and twitter. 

Much like last year's edition, this was my first time on my road bike in months (like since July), and I can count my history of trainer rides without using all of my fingers.  True to form, I was looking forward to it with masochistic glee: "It's going to be so awful!"

Yeah, that's pretty much it...

Saturday was a busy day, so my Super Century preparation was pretty scanty.  I slept in until 8 or so (fantastic) and then went to do some trail building. GORC is eventually adding three new singletrack loops to our local mountain bike trails, and since I appreciate having such great trails I wanted to help out. Plus, it's really a good time.  You get to meet cool new people, get a good workout, and add to the trail system.  Win!


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Before/after...not of exactly the same spot, but you get the idea. We made a lot of progress.
 We had company Saturday night and had a good time playing games, so I didn't get started setting up my bike until 10ish (yes, you know you're living a wild life when that sounds late).  We played "Say Anything", and one of the cards I got asked the other players to guess my most prized possession.  The little chips show their guesses.

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They know me pretty well.
My mother-in-law was most impressed with my choice of "bike" -- to the point where she brought it up again at the Super Bowl party the next day -- but you can't ride a wedding ring. 

I got up at 5:20 for the 6:00 start, all because I had to run to the gas station for a diet soda and a coffee.  Pretty sure that's textbook addiction, but the morning was going to be bad enough without my morning caffeine.

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Ahhhh...now my day can start.
I made it back to the house in time to start the Super Century right on time, only to deal with one problem after another.  A Netflix password I didn't know...a ridiculously complicated DVD/surround sound set-up...a bike computer that would register time but not mileage.  The Super Century sucked before I even started riding.  I had it better than, Luke, though, who dealt with two flats and a messed up brake, and Patrick, who I think went through three bikes during his ride.

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Finally on my bike and riding, I was quickly reminded how miserable last year had been.  Literally within 5 miles I was bargaining with myself about how far I was going to ride before I quit.  Luckily, I had friends suffering with me and sharing their pain via facebook and twitter.  Luke, Casey, Bob, Patrick, Kube, Anne, Robby, Christina, Dave, Aaron, Jim, Fletcher, Chad, Brian, and Greg all participated in one form or another.  Kathy, who'd kicked major butt last year, overslept and missed out on all the "fun".

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1/4 finished...time for a 5-min break
I started out watching "The Big Lebowski", which I didn't love but probably missed a lot of due to volume issues.  I'll have to give it anothe try.  Once that was over I woke up my husband to get the Netflix password and spent the next hour and a half watching "Ride the Divide", a documentary about the Tour Divide, a mountain bike race along the Continental Divide from Banff to New Mexico.  My bucket list may have grown by one while watching that movie, and while I know how silly that sounds from someone who couldn't even finish Dirty Kanza (or, for that matter, who whimpered her way through a 62 mile trainer ride), it calls to me.  I particularly loved this quote from Matthew Lee, who during the documentary was on his way to his fifth finish:

"Life's too short not to take adventures like this; you have to make these types of experiences a priority."


I mean, YES, right??

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Definitely the best part of my Super Century experience
At 40 miles I stopped for cookies n cream ice cream, which had been my savior last year.  It was still good, but no miracle cure this year. 

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2/3 of the way finished.
Dave Chappelle didn't do the trick for me either, so I scrolled through Netflix looking for something to draw my attention away from my aching sitting parts.  Shark Week and the Red Bull Rampage were momentary diversions, but Sahara is what finally did the trick.  Thank you, Matthew McConaughey!

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Not loving the experience
All along I kept working towards baby step goals...just get to 20 miles...just get to 30 miles...after mile 40 I let myself get off the bike every 5 miles for a minute or so.  The last 12 miles passed by more quickly with some intervals: .1 mile pedalling hard, .2 miles recovery, repeat.  I couldn't have been more relived when my bike finally hit 62 miles and I could get off the saddle.

#supercentury done!!
Ahh, no makeup and sweaty and disgusting...and just to be very clear, numbers like 18 mph were only seen on my bike during faster intervals. 
My 62 miles took me 4 hours and 8 minutes, but that's only ride time and doesn't include my 5-minute breaks, bathroom stops, etc.  Encouragingly, my back and legs felt pretty good for the duration, so I just have to build up my saddle endurance.  Maybe from now on I'll just watch movies from my bike seat instead of the love seat. :)  After all, Dirty Kanza is only 4 months away, and I'll need to be in the saddle for an additional 140 miles that day.

So, goals...

1) Stay strong and avoid Super Century III
2) Weekly bike trainer rides of at least 45 minutes until it's warm enough to ride outside.

Also, Luke posted this hilarious video from last weekend's trip to Ray's MTB Park.  I can't watch it without laughing, but it's really only the tiniest peek at what a good time we had there.  Watch it...I dare you not to smile. :)