Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Been a Quiet Week in Lake Wobegon

Life has just been plugging along and I have been remiss in posting, mostly because I couldn't think of much of interest to post. I didn't do a race report for the DC half I ran two weekends ago. It was just an ok race. I wasn't as excited for it as I had been for the SF half and I wasn't nearly as prepared. I took one week off from running to let my body get rid of some on-going aches and pains, and then ended up taking three weeks off. As you can imagine, that didn't bode well for my time.

The energy in DC was great. I wasn't overly impressed by the music playing at each mile, but I was more impressed by bikers and those living along the race route who had their own music playing. Around mile 8, someone played "Shipping Up to Boston" by the Dropkick Murphys and that carried me along for several more miles (also because I couldn't remember the name of it or who sang it, and it drove me nuts thinking about it for at least 2 miles). Most importantly, I had friends along the course, and looking forward to seeing them kept me running. Tommy was waiting at mile 11 with a beer (even though we never ended up seeing each other) and Marisa and Lauren had signs waving for me near the finish line. Seeing them and hearing them cheering gave me the final umph to sprint the last 0.1 mile to officially receive my finisher medal.

Unlike my last half and my first tri, I didn't take a lot of time off from the gym afterwards, which has been nice. It's also very nice not to be on a formal training plan, even as I have a tri and century ride coming up on my calendar. I've been happily mixing swimming, short runs, and long rides with new gym classes that kick my butt.

What's more exciting is the visitors coming to Denver! Katie arrives on Sunday and we have plans for a swim before she jet sets up to Boulder for a few days. Then Mama B hits the town for a whole week starting Thursday! We've got lots of fun and exciting things planned, and eating well and keeping moving is on our agenda. I'm hoping for lots of nice weather so we can just walk and ride to lots of places. I even took two full days off of work - unheard of!

This week has been a bit of a lull before chaos - work travel starts up again soon and I have a sneaking suspicion April will be gone before I know it and May brings back to back to back to back travel, then the arrival of my DC girls!

So, lots of fun and excitement to look forward to, but dullsville around these parts for now.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Strapped on for dear life

This weekend I finally grew a pair, slipped on my bike shoes, strapped myself to my bike and hoped for the best. And it wasn't bad! We did 20 miles around the suburbs south of Denver and I'm completely in love with my new bike. Even with a 20 mph headwind, I was leading our pack going up a solid 5-10 mile climb. I never thought I'd like hills! Ok, so I still don't LOVE hills, but they don't fill me with dread anymore.

I had no troubles clipping in and out of my pedals and could really feel the difference. And while I usually rode by myself, riding with a whole pack was much more enjoyable. All of these positive outcomes really had me feeling good about my decision to upgrade my bike. Over the past month, while I've been too nervous to try out the new pedals for the first time, I started second guessing myself and worried that perhaps I had spent way too much money. I haven't. It's totally worth it.

Since my big scary first ride was out of the way, I decided to ride to work today on the new bike instead of the old one. I think I got a little cocky. As I was coming down my back alley, the garbage truck was backing up it, so I pulled off into a little gravel parking area, promptly forgot to unclip and fell over. I've been told by all cyclists that everyone falls over at least once, so hopefully this was my time. My palm is a little raw and my shin for a good raspberry, but all in all, it was mostly just my ego.

As I was sitting on the ground, still locked into my pedals, the garbage truck driver walked past and asked if I was alright. It was at this point that I realized, I can't get my shoe out of the clip. Instead of the typical road bike clips, I have mountain biker clips, for no reason other than the free shoes my boss gave me came with those on them. These clips have two screws that bolt them to the shoe. At some point between Saturday and this morning, one of those screws came out, so as I tried to twist my foot to pop the shoe out, it would instead keep rotating. I'm throwing this into the "thank goodness I found out when I did" category, because if I had tried to unclip at an intersection, I would have found out unexpectedly that I could not and likely would have fallen into traffic.

So the garbage man helped hold my shoe while I put my foot back into it and I proceeded on my way to work, clipping in and out with my left foot instead. When I got to my office, I just took my foot out entirely and walked to the elevator with one stocking foot.

Thankfully, my boss has an extra pair of shoes with her, so I'll use those after work to ride to REI to get my other shoe fixed. So long as we can figure out a way to pop my broken shoe out of the clip!

And so my adventures in riding begin...

Friday, March 2, 2012

Three Things.....Friday

Well I'm a day late, but I don't have the energy to think up Friday Facts.

1.) I'm adding Texas to a list of states I'd never want to live in (it joins Florida in that distinction). El Paso is just plain old ugly. I can't ever get my bearings, because every street looks the same, with questionable establishments, adult stores (we are by a military base, after all), and nondescript strip malls. There have been some pretty fierce dust storms, which completely hide the nearby mountains from view. I can only imagine what these dust storms are doing to my lungs.

However, Fort Bliss, the military installation I am working at, is delightful. With a quaint historic cantonment area, it is the second largest Post in the country (nearby White Sands is the largest). Fort Bliss, along with Fort Benning in Georgia, caught the brunt of the expansion required under the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) law, so a lot of the barracks and RCI (resident communities initiative) housing is all brand new. It's my belief that Bliss was picked because the training areas would be the closest thing the U.S. has to the climate of the Middle East.

Fort Bliss, however, also was named so using the same line of thinking used to name Greenland. Trying to make a fairly unappealing location seem nicer by giving it a good name.

2.) All of my good eating, drinking, and exercising habits have really been askew the last two weeks. I need to get my act together; I've been dehydrated, tired, and my stomach is slowly filling out again. No Bueno.

3.) While I was originally going to use my newfound $650 United airlines dollars in a practical way, to get back east for the multiple trips I have to make this year, my less practical-side of my brain now wants to go somewhere fun. But where to go?! Ideas?