#MicroblogMondays - Realities of "In Training"

This year, I decided that kicking my ass on a bicycle in the mountains was a really great idea. So far, I've been feeling really stressed out over my work schedule, trying to stay (and failing) on top of planning my Jaz.zercise classes, and I'm irritated that we have no money to pay for a professional landscaper.  Because I've decided that endurance cycling is one of my things, we can't get to the landscaping and our front yard is downright embarrassing. Lest you wonder why S doesn't do it while I'm off riding, or why I don't do it when he's off riding on Sundays, or why we don't do it in the afternoons:  getting anything accomplished while being the only parent around has proved difficult for both of us. Sure, we'll stick them in front of the tv for an hour, but in that hour, it's usually a feeble attempt to pick up, do dishes and laundry (or in my case, put together a Jaz.zercise set). There's social engagements, or shopping for gifts, or just plain trying to shop, because despite my attempt to get everything online, I still have to find time to go to a brick and mortar store at least every other week. Shit does not get done on weekends.

Saturday morning, at 6:45am, I dragged myself up to the foothills to try to ride a mountain pass. I made it about 11 miles, up to 10,000 feet.

It was amazing.

The landscaping will wait.




The Century Ride - Training

After my foray into the metric century ride, I needed a challenge. In Colorado, there's no shortage of cycling challenges ranging from flatlander rides through Denver to rides over 3 mountain passes, to the brutal century ride with 12,000 feet of elevation gain.

What's a girl to choose? Since I wanted a couple months to get into century riding shape, I started looking for rides in August. Knowing that S was itching to get into mountain biking and ditch his road bike for the summer, I thought I'd look around for one I could do myself. Enter the Venus de Miles, an all-women's ride that had the added bonus of raising money for Greenhouse Scholars. Win! I only pay $30 to register, raise $200 minimum and away we go! Given the number of rides that are easily $75-$150 registration fees, this was a bargain.

I signed up, and got to business. Much like my 62-mile training, I only had 2 days a week to ride consistently. I continued to bust my butt up the group ride hill climb on Tuesdays (getting rained on several times, and chased by lightning. No fun!). Saturday were 3-4 hour rides that turned into 5-6 hour rides as I got further into training. I joined a couple of group rides with riders that were way faster than me, and experienced the soul crushing feeling of being dropped.

My final long training ride was with the group: it was 97 degrees, I got a flat 15 miles into the ride. It was my first flat on the road, and I spent a good half hour swearing, calling S for advice and yelling out "I'm good!" while other cyclists sped by me at 20 mph yelling, "You got everything? You ok?"  I wanted to change the tube myself, stubborn girl, so it took way longer than if I had accepted help, and I don't recommend trying out a CO2 cartridge for the first time on the side of the road. Carry a bunch, because you'll screw it up at least once. Eventually a couple of older guys stopped without asking and helped me get the tire back onto my frame. I thought I had held it together quite well until I got on my bike. Shaken, emotional and on the verge of tears, rode to a nearby bike shop to get my tire pressure checked. Thank goodness for that little shop! Tire pressure all set, new tube in my saddle bag, and I was ready to go. But where? I had the turn by turn directions of the route, but I was in wholly unfamiliar territory. Knowing that this was the day I had to shoot for 70 miles come hell or high water, I checked in with S, told him my plan and got going all by my lonesome. The directions were great, and with my phone (hooray technology!) I managed to finish the ride with 67 miles under my belt, some tears shed and a whole lot of sweating. At the end of that ride, I felt mentally tough enough to tackle the 100 miles all by myself. *side note* This is the power of being introverted. Most of my training was solo and I didn't care. 

In addition to training, I started learning more about nutrition having suffered overtraining symptoms as I was getting ready for this ride. I really wasn't overtraining in the sense of too much exercise.  There were always 2 rest days in my schedule giving enough time for recovery. Still, the fatigue and soreness were not going away the closer I got to the ride. I did a little research after a post I put up here on my blog and found that I was under eating. Without a whole lot of thought or tracking other than to make decent choices, I upped my intake on a daily basis, added protein powder and almost immediately saw an improvement in my performance and recovery. Hey, fueling your muscles is a thing!

Getting closer to the ride I felt ready, until I had to travel to MT for field work the week of the ride. So much for tapering off and keeping my legs loose. The hotel didn't have an exercise bike!

 Next up....the debacle and conquering the 100. 


NaBloPoMo November 2015

Bullet Points

Now that I have myself completely worked up over the direction of my career and trying to drop the pounds I've put on over the last year, certain things have fallen by the wayside. I feel bad for not posting this week, so here I go, spewing bullet-point style and in no particular order.

  • My temporary job is going pretty well, and I had a major freak-out over what to do at the end of it. S finally stared at me exasperated, "Do what you want to do right now!" Hey good advice that is totally lost on me!  I think I will have to go back to my old job for a while, then apply for this one, but I haven't broached that subject to my temporary supervisors. Since the job I'm in right now isn't a promotion, they may be able to lateral me over without having to go through the application process. I'm ready for a career change, and even though the job is program management, not engineering, I have a really strong technical background that will be an asset. Plus, if I want to go back to engineering and become a manager in my old group then having this experience is a plus. So..I think I've decided. It's hard to leave project work behind though. One of my current projects is an interesting and complicated problem that I like in theory. Its the execution of the complicated-part where I always feel like I don't do well. But, maybe that's a universal feeling among engineers?
  • X started swim lessons on Monday. The Y we go to for lessons was under remodel last year and it was a total nightmare. Thankfully, they have the new pool finished, and there are no sets of stairs to navigate! Plus they have family changing rooms that have a shower and sink and lots of space in them. It's pure heaven compared to last winter's debacle of stairs upon stairs to get to the locker rooms, then back up to the pool.
  • Speaking of walking, Baby Z started walking right around his birthday and now he's picking up speed. Just the other day, he blazed by me and tumbled down 4 steps to the landing. *sigh* Good thing babies are made of rubber as it only scared him, and he hasn't gone near the stairs since. I give it another couple days before he forgets and goes for it again.
  • We are late getting our letters and pictures to the agency and Baby Z's 1stmom inquired about where they are. While I'm embarrassed that we are a month late with the 1-year letter, I'm encouraged that she is inquiring about it. At least we know she's reading them and we aren't just sending them into a black hole of nothingness, which is what it feels like a lot of the time. Especially since she has yet to give us a picture of her despite repeated requests! That really bothers me.
  • I'm on my third week of Eat to Perform, and have been working on getting the right amounts of protein, carb, and fat. Much of this program is centered on fueling the body with the right proportion of macro nutrients so that your metabolism functions efficiently. It's so different than anything I've ever done that it's been way more challenging than I realized.
  • Along with the ETP, I picked up another Jazz.ercise class and am now teaching on Wednesdays at 6am. oof. This week was my first week and unfortunately, my Thursday afternoon class suffered because of it. I was so tired on Thursday and my muscles were fatigued just enough that I had a major bonk in the middle of class despite eating prior to working out. It'll take a little while to get it regulated I think, but having Wednesday morning then Thursday afternoon should be enough recovery time, if I fuel correctly in-between!
  • I bought a Polar Loop and chest strap to keep track of daily activity and calorie burn during workouts and I must say, I love it! I really wish that FitBit had figured out the HR issue, but the Charge HR isn't accurate and that would drive me bananas. If I'm recording a training session, I need accuracy, therefore the annoyance of the chest strap must continue.
  • I rode my bike over the weekend. That was the second time I've gotten on the bike since August 29th. heh. 
  • One of these days, I'll write my century ride post. I swear.

The Metric Century Ride - 62 miles

To continue where I left off...

Pop-Tarts, the fuel of champions. :p

Pop-Tarts, the fuel of champions. :p

I started this year with the goal to complete a century bike ride (100 miles). Knowing that it would mean the better part of 8 hours in the saddle, I decided to set one goal early in the season. That was to complete the metric century (62 miles/100km) in early June at the same bike festival I had ridden the previous year.

I rode my trainer a few times during my time off with Baby Z, but never quite broke an hour on that thing. It's a lot like getting on the elliptical machine at the gym. A whole lot of boring, even with the tv blaring. Not to mention the sweat that's worked up when there's no breeze. Even opening the closest window in the dead of winter did little to help cool the operation down.

Once spring came around and I had my shoes and pedals figured out, I was ready to hit the ground running!

Except...it kept raining.

A lot.

Because of the way S and I alternate working out/pick up kids, I only had one day a week to ride after work. I was able to get in Saturday morning rides, but the afternoons after work didn't happen very often. I pushed through it, joining a local cycling club late in my training, and doing exactly one hill climb with them before my big ride. Weeks of frustrating weather holding back my mileage goals resulted in me completing a 50 mile ride two weeks before the 62-miles. That's pretty darn good, as training for endurance events like this are similar to training for running events...you never hit the ultimate distance in training.  I try to set a goal for 80-percent of the distance, which I think is a typical target. The thing I did not do in my 50-mile ride was come anywhere close to the elevation gain of 3,300 feet that I would be riding in the 62-miles. The thought of all the rolling hills that were coming at me shook my confidence a bit.

The day of the 62-mile ride came and again, thunderstorms were forecast for the afternoon, so instead of staggering our start, so that we finished at the same time, S and I decided we needed to start early to make sure that I finished before the storms. S rode with me for a few miles, but the first big hill we got to, I quickly lost ground and landed in the easiest gear. As I huffed and puffed along struggling to catch up, it became apparent that he was going to have to leave me behind before our routes split. Off he went, and I was on my own. Once I was past the first big hill, the first 10 miles were awesome. The subsequent 7 miles is when everything started to hurt. My saddle was uncomfortable, a knee felt wonky, a shoulder ached. I couldn't wait for the first aid station, and I wondered how the next 50 were going to go.

At the first aid station, I happily jumped off the bike, stretched a bit, hit the porta-potty (because helloooo hydration/coffee/IC) and made myself eat something even though I wasn't hungry. 

Once I was past the first aid station, my mantra became, "21-miles to the next station, 21-miles is nothing". Once I broke it down to, get to the next aid station, I was able to relax a little bit knowing that rest, water, food, and restrooms (important!) were only about an hour and a half away. The second 20-miles went pretty easily, there were some rolling hills, a couple of fun downhill sections, a big ass hill near the end, a ton of people and a police escort. What more does a girl need? I felt pretty damn good nearing the end of that segment, but knew that I needed to pull off at the aid station and take a nice long break. After my break, I jumped on for another 11 miles to the third and final station.

40-miles in, my knees started to hurt. I didn't bring ibuprofen with me, so I decided to let off the big gears and keep cycling in a gear that was pretty light resistance. That worked great until the uphill sections when I had to use more resistance. Thankfully, the hills on this part of the course were smaller than previous, and overall this section went downhill. Whew! By the time I saw the aid station,  I was in trouble, each pedal stroke causing stabbing pains in my knees.  I spent quite a long time here, stretching and psyching myself up the for last segment.

The final hurdle was a 2.5 mile hill. I'm 49 miles in, tired, my knees hurt, but this is the last shitty hill. DO. IT. And I did. Slowly, in granny gear, grinding away as everyone passed me, stopping about a half mile in because I needed to talk myself into the next part. 

I did it. I got up that fucking hill. And the downhill was glorious.

Then it was several miles of grind back to the fairgrounds on the frontage road for I-25. Gawd awful, but the only way to get back. The last few miles went a little something like this:

"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"

"ow, ow, ow, ow"

"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"

"fuck fuck fuck"

"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"

"That curb looks mighty comfy...."

"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"

"I'm not gonna make it"

"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"


"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"


"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"

"Almost there"

"Just pedal, just pedal, just pedal"


....I crossed the line (limped, if there is such a thing on a bike) exhausted, my knees killing me, my upper back equally pissed off and I thought:

"Wow. I did it."

"Holy shit, I hurt."

"6 hours!"

"I'm gonna ride 100? really????"

My New Sport - Cycling

A Long Time Ago:

My first bike was a $450 mountain bike I bought in college that didn't fit right, but sure was a pretty purple and black color. I remember being so proud of my research and purchase, visions of hitting the trails and being the cool chick. Not to be. I'm too scared of falling to mountain bike. Sure, I gave it the old college try, and after walking most of an easy dirt trail (more than once), decided that it was not for me. I kept trying, and would ride the bike around town occasionally, even riding a 6-mile hill climb a few times. That was the extent of it. By the time we sold the mountain bike, the tires were barely worn and most of it still looked shiny-new 15 years after I bought it.

S is an avid mountain biker and sometimes road cyclist. The guy loves rocks and switchbacks. I know, right?! I am constantly in awe of the control and balance he has on a bike. For years, we hemmed and hawed over whether to get me a road bike. I didn't show a whole lot of enthusiasm (see heavy mountain bike that sucked on pavement) for biking, and so every season passed without a purchase.

Three Years Ago:

With the arrival of X, I realized that having exercise I could get just by walking out the door of my house might be a good idea. At a big tent sale, we bought me an entry-level road bike. I refused to get clipless pedals, citing my fear of falling over. I bought a new helmet, a couple pairs of mountain biking shorts (cause really, who wants to wear those tight roadie shorts?), and a couple biking jerseys. 

The first time I rode my bike, I fell in love with the feeling of flying, finally realizing the fun of riding a bike built to go. The first year consisted of short rides, max 20 miles, on bike paths. I would crow to S every time I increased my mileage slightly, relishing in the newfound activity that was fun.

Two Years Ago:

Spring rolled around, and I decided I needed a challenge. There's a cycling festival in early June that's near S's parents house. With three distances to choose from (32 mile, 62 mile, 100 mile), I thought it would be fun if we both did it. He agreed and promptly signed up for the 100 miles (century). Ha. I went for the 32, after all it would be the furthest I had ever ridden. We had the added advantage of staying with S's parents 3 miles from the start. That year, I rode 38 miles, and was officially bitten by the cycling bug. After that ride, I declared, "Next year I'm doing a century". It helped that my competitive juices got a'flowin' after finding out my cousin and her husband did a century ride. If they can do it, I can do it!

Present Day:

After my declaration to S, he bought us a Christmas gift. Our very own bike trainer, and set it up in the basement with my bike firmly attached. The idea was that, to get ready for my first big ride of the season of 62 miles in early June at the same cycling festival, I should start riding while the snow flew. I managed a few rides, staring at episodes of Brooklyn Nine Nine or Castle to get me through the mind-numbing boringness of riding a trainer. This was occurring simultaneously with my maternity leave with Baby Z, and I was attempting to hop on the bike during his short naps. 

The big tent sale in the spring rolled around again. I was a serious cyclist now, man. I needed some new gear! Enter new jerseys, cycling pants for cold weather, a cold weather jersey, cold weather gloves, and yes, the spandex roadie shorts.

I started to realize how much trouble I had getting my foot in and out of the toe clips even though I kept them loose, and they were sadly inefficient because of that. I couldn't stand in my pedals for hills, and I had come close to falling over more than once because I couldn't get my foot out fast enough. Enter the clipless pedals and bonafide cycling shoes. After some back and forth, buying one pair and returning for another pair, I opted for mountain bike shoes rather than road shoes. But, not just any mountain bike shoes, the top of the line brand (on sale, but still) as recommended by the bike store guy (BSG) selling shoes to a neophyte. (think he knew the fool he was dealing with?) Fitting the shoes was eerily familiar. It reminded me of getting fit for pointe shoes back in my ballet days. First my foot was measured, then their shape studied, then a certain type of shoe recommended based on the shape. (riiiiight). I spent several visits bringing my bike back and forth to the shop for fitting. The first thing the BSG told me to do was buy a new saddle. And so, I did. And I am eternally grateful for his recommendation*. Then, he tweaked the pedals for my new shoes, adjusted my handlebars, and adjusted my new saddle. 

I was off and training!

*if you ever buy a road bike, townie bike, or hybrid bike, I highly recommend the Terry saddles. Holy cow did that ever make a difference on my poor little butt!