Monday, July 28, 2014

Fall 2014: Week 5

My kids spent most of the week at my parent's house this week, which of course meant more time to train! Woo! So much easier to fit things in when we don't have to schedule everything around someone taking care of the kids.

Kid 1 went to circus camp - how fun is that?
I missed the little mess-making machines, though. I'm glad to have them home.

Monday: 35k evening bike ride. It was a sort of a tempo bike ride. I set out with the goal to push myself, but there's an interesting difference between a tempo on the run and a tempo on the bike - it's a hell of a lot easier to zone out and slack off on the bike. I kept catching myself coasting along. Still, though, it went pretty well and my legs were definitely tired afterwards!

When I got home I put the bike away, tossed on my runners, and did a quick 2k run just to see what it would feel like. Like running on wet noodles. Weirdest thing ever. I'm told it will get easier with practice, so I suppose practice is what I will do. Since my race at the end of August is a duathlon I'll also have to practice going from the run to the bike, although I suspect that will be more straightforward other than the shoe changing bit.

Tuesday: Easy morning 10k run that I somehow misjudged the route and ended up being 9k. Oh well.

Then I biked 20k to work, and then 20k home. Soooooo much easier on the road bike compared to the hybrid I used last time.

I also got my first flat tire. I was about 1k from the university when I realized it, and I was tempted to do the walk of shame over to the cycling co-op on campus. Especially because it was the rear wheel and I'd never taken the rear wheel off before. But why did I take the MEC class and get all the repair stuff and watch a million YouTube demonstrations if I was going to bail out and ask for help? So I womaned up, got out my repair stuff, and changed the tube myself. Granted it took a ridiculously long time, but I did it successfully. GO ME.

The staple was the culprit in the flat. And, um, I think I'm overdue to clean my chain...
It's worth knowing how to do this, those of you out there who I know are worried about being out for a ride and getting a flat. You don't need much stuff, and it's really pretty easy. Take the MEC class, put together a repair kit (seriously, none of the repair stuff is expensive), and you'll have peace of mind knowing you can get yourself home when you do get that first flat tire.

Co2 pump, canisters (the # I carry depends if I'm riding alone and how far I'm riding), pump instructions. A couple of spare tubes, tire levers, and a patch kit. Personally patching a tire on the side of the road sounds horrible, so I'd rather just replace the tube, take the damaged tube home, and then repair it at my leisure. I carry the patch kit more in case I come across a cyclist who needs one. If you don't have quick release wheels you'll also need the appropriate tool to take the wheels off.
Wednesday: Easy early 8k run. It was what it was. Went past the closest track to check the lay of the land for Thursday's speed work and found it locked up. Bah.

Look at that pretty track, all lonely and empty.
After dinner, I took Foxy out for a 47 km cruise around North Burlington. Just lovely.

Mount Nemo yet again, only from farther away! Sorry, it does kind of dominate the landscape.
Thursday: Quality run workout for the week - intervals. Went to the next closest track and found it was locked up too (although I have since learned there may be an open gate, I just didn't look hard enough). So I ran on a relatively flat and uninterrupted stretch of road instead. I pulled off 4x1k intervals at a slower pace than they should have been, but given the 125 km on the bike over M/T/W I think a slower interval pace was to be expected. 5:15/5:05/5:07/5:12. Ideally those should be more like 4:45. Hopefully next week when I'm not doing All the Miles!! on the bike. Total distance was 11k.

Fulfilling my watch shot/selfie quota.
A nice summer evening with no kids? As much as I wanted another ride, I couldn't say no to a dinner out with my hubbie.
I mean, would you turn down dinner on a patio with a view like that? Plus The Beaver & Bulldog makes a fantastic burger. 
Friday: Rest day and retrieving the kids from their week at granny and grandpa's house. This was kind of a tough rest day - I was working at home on a glorious perfect morning, a cleaned and lubed up bike waiting in the garage, and the escarpment hills calling my name.

I resisted, though. Rest is important.

Saturday: Oakville half route with Patty and Sam. I hadn't run that long since May, so my legs were all HELL NO once we hit 16k or so. But I got through it, and hopefully the next few 20k+ runs will feel better as my legs readjust to running long.

I spent about 90% of the last 5k thinking about frozen raspberry lemonade. Man that was good, even if I did give myself a brain freeze drinking it.
Later Saturday morning I loaded Foxy into the car and took her back to the bike shop for her first check up (it's like having a baby again!). The shifting had been feeling a bit rough, which they had warned me would happen. They did a tune up and pronounced her good to go.

Saturday night I fell asleep on the couch at 7. It's a wild and crazy life I'm leading over here! I slept for 12 hours, so I think the week's training was catching up to me.

Sunday: 49k on the bike. I was going to follow it up with a brick run, but then my husband wanted to go get his hair cut and I was glad to have the excuse to skip the run, because it was damn hot out.

The highlight of the ride was the middle aged bald guy I saw picking up his morning newspaper wearing a full length white silk bathrobe and clear plastic stripper heels. Not a typical sight for rural Burlington, but hey, you do you, bathrobe & heels guy.

Sunday night I snuck out and got in the 6k I'd missed earlier. Why the hell not.

Post-run standing in the rain. 
Weekly stats
Bike: 172.4 km
Run: 57.9 km
Total: 230.3 km (!!) in 12 hours, 27 minutes

I think I get a gold star for that week.

So that was a really fun week, and I'm glad I took full advantage of having some extra time! Now that the kids are home, though, I won't be able to get out on the bike as much, so it's back to focusing on the run for a while and fitting in rides when I can.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fall 2014: Week 4

'Rest' week. Rest in the sense that I didn't do any quality workouts. I did, however, sign up for a duathlon at the end of August. Eeeeeeeek. I'm already agonizing about wardrobe options. What the hell do I wear that will be comfortable on the bike AND the run and that won't cost me a small fortune? I've got to try running in some of the lightly padded discount cycling shorts I already own (Marshalls for the win!). They might work.

Monday: Rest day. Mondays suck enough without getting up at 5 am to run, basically, so I usually like to take Monday as my weekly full rest day.

Tuesday: I didn't feel like getting up at 5, and the weather was supposed to be on the cooler side, so I ran 8k on the rail trail at lunch. It was a bit of a guesstimate because I managed to forget my watch (THE HORROR) so I ran a familiar route where I know the distance. It was kind of nice not to be staring at my wrist nonstop.

Naked wrist! #NSFDOR*
(*not safe for data obsessed runners)
Tuesday evening I left the kid's bedtime in the capable hands of my husband and did a 30k ride in North Burlington. I feel like I need to take advantage of these chances now, because the days are already getting shorter and soon evening rides won't be a viable option. The ride felt great, and I finally solved the 'what the hell is squeaking so much on the uphills?' mystery. Turns out when you ride clipped in you need to lube your pedals and cleats occasionally. Duh.

I just can't even with some of the scenery up there. That's Mount Nemo, which is also a nice spot for hiking/trail running.
Wednesday: Easy early morning 8k run. Nothing fancy.

Thursday: 24k on the bike before getting the kids ready for their day at summer camp. Kept it super easy for one of my slowest rides on the road bike, but this is supposed to be an easy week after all!

8k lunch run to Princess Point. Again, easy. The scenery was pretty. Legs were surprisingly peppy considering the morning bike ride.

Dam at Princess Point/Cootes Paradise.
I still haven't figured out how to balance my run training with my desire to pretty much be on my bike 24/7. When my husband asked me Thursday night if I was going out for another ride I seriously considered doing it. Tone it down there girlfriend, how about we not overtrain into an injury? Sheesh.

Friday: As much as I was super tempted to sneak in an easy 8k, I decided to drop that one from the weekly plan. Another full rest day because this is a rest week, and next week is going to have some big numbers Mon-Thursday. So best to get in a rest day before all that starts.

(I'm pretty much just making all this up as I go along, in case that's not obvious. When I do get to the point of a triathlon I think I'm going to have to hire a coach. I'm pretty comfortable with writing up running plans, but this multi sport stuff is complicated! and I haven't even started swimming yet!)

Saturday: 68k ride with Sam. It was somewhat hillier than anticipated. I'm not sure she's forgiven me. We did stop and eat coffee cake at a bakery halfway through, so there's that! North Burlington just has some fabulous cycling. My Strava account now has about 20 routes planned for long rides exploring the area.

In case it's not already obvious, I LOVE MY BIKE.
Sunday: Up early for an easy 15k run by the lake. I wasn't really feeling this one, but I put on a Radiolab podcast and got it done. Super humid, blech. I was liking the cooler temperatures this week and hoping they would stick around! Dang.

Yep, that's the lake.
Weekly totals
Run: 39.7 km
Bike: 123.2 km
Total: 162.9 km in 8 hours, 56 minutes

Pretty much went perfectly. I knew I needed an easy week, and I think lowering the run number and keeping the cycling easy got me there. I feel very ready to tackle some big numbers and tough workouts this week.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fall 2014: week 3

This was a peak week for this block of training, with next week being an easy/rest week. On the schedule: a few quality workouts, some decent volume, and a trail race. How'd it go?

Monday: Kicking off the week with a rest day, because that's how I roll.

I was pretty tired and face planted onto my pillow ridiculously early.
Tuesday: Up early for 21k on the bike. I had this penciled in as a quality workout, so I deliberately went back to the 1.7k long uphill climb that was pure torture on my bike commute the week before, just to see what the difference would be between the road bike and the hybrid bike. I rode the climb 3 times:

Look, it's a hill!

First three were on the road bike, the one circled in red the hybrid. Spot the difference!
Two minutes faster on the first go up! Even on the last attempt when my legs were pretty cranky about the whole thing, I was still a minute and a half faster, with much less effort than I had to use on the hybrid. The road bike makes a huge difference (not exactly shocking information, I'm sure - but nice to see the numbers confirm it).

I feel a little more confident about tackling some hilly long rides now, and getting up the escarpment without keeling over due to lack of oxygen.

After I got home from work I tossed together a quick dinner (buttered noodles, grilled veggies and chicken, we fancy), then headed out for an easy 8k run before my husband had to leave for the gym to get in his workout. This multi sport stuff is complicated. How exactly am I supposed to fit swimming in too? The run felt great, except for all the snails I murdered. I tried to avoid them, I really did, but there were just so many on the sidewalk. *crunch* *shudder*

Scary clouds rolling in as I finished up my run. They didn't amount to much, just rolled on through.
This Tuesday evening rainbow was way after my run, but it was so cool I have to post a picture. I've never seen one so bright and big before - none of my pictures do it justice.
Wednesday: Up early for an easy 10k run before work.
Yet another gorgeous sunrise. Ho hum.
Not much else to say about that. It was a cool morning and the run was good. I am having this thing where now that I've done a few bike and run combo days, a day with only one feels weird. And rest days are almost tortuous. Exercise endorphins are addictive. As tempting as it is to go ALL IN and double up every day, that would be madness right now so I'm being sensible and sticking to my plan, which will let me ease into more bike mileage and hopefully not overdo it.

Thursday: Tempo time! 11k total run, with 6k at tempo, broken into 2 3k blocks. Except when I started my legs were really heavy and stiff, and I could not seem to get my pace down. So I ran by feel. Hit 5:24, 5:16, 5:18 in the first block, which was slower than my target 5:09 but the effort was there.

I started the second block and got 5:15, 5:15, then realized there was a route planning fail and the 3rd km was going to be up Guelph Line. F that. I'm not stupid/crazy enough to try and run tempo up a hill. So I bailed on the 3rd km of that one but did still have to run up the hill, so it probably all balances out somewhat.

Even though that run didn't feel very good, I'm pleased with it. It was a good mental exercise to push through not really wanting to do the tempo, the resulting times got faster by the end, and just running half marathon pace effort should lead to better results in the future, even the pace wasn't exactly right. They can't all be great runs, and dealing with bad ones is part of the training.

After a long day dealing with a sick kid and an unskippable meeting (working mom juggling act), I needed to blow off some steam. So I took advantage of the late sunset and headed north of the city for the first time to see what the local country side roads are like on the bike.


Niagara Escarpment, North Burlington. After I took the picture I biked up it. Ouch.
I figured out where all the local road cyclists go on summer evenings - I lost count of the number of other cyclists I saw. And with good reasons, the riding is spectacular. Mostly good pavement, minimal car traffic, miles before you hit a stop sign, lots of hills. And so close to my house! Even if I do have to climb part of the escarpment to get to it!

I did 22k and could have done more, but needed to get home for the kid's bedtime. There will be many more of these rides over the next few weeks, I hope.

Friday: Rest day. I was tempted to do another evening bike ride, but with a trail race Saturday morning I knew that was probably a bad idea.

Saturday: Rattlesnake Point Enduro course trail race. 12.7k of slow running/hiking and laughing with Sam. Race report to come, but it did include this lunacy:

Wait, the course goes up the side of a cliff? what?
Sunday: Easy recovery run that turned into a fast finish run when thunder rumbled in the distance and I got caught in a downpour. Whoops. Was aiming for 10k but managed 8 before the storm.

soaking wet #selfie
Originally I had been hoping to also knock out a nice loooooong 60k+ bike ride in the morning, but the aforementioned thunder kind of put a damper on that. I waited until the afternoon to head out and had to shorten things because my family enjoys eating dinner and I'm the cook. Geeze, can you believe I have to feed these people every day? So needy. Still hit 50k, though, so can't complain.

Niagara escarpment #selfie
I debated throwing down the missing 2k on the run as a first ever brick workout, but it was really hot and humid, and my legs were totally toast when I got home, so I passed. A brick workout will happen soon, though.

The bike is making me ridiculously happy right now. It's like being a kid again, seeking out the big hills to climb, knowing that the reward will come when I fly back down. Such a rush. I'm not really a thrill seeker (you won't get me on a roller coaster any time soon), but the bike is different. Maybe because I'm in control. Maybe because I can cover such long distances so quickly. Maybe because it's something new to learn and master and improve(figuring out how to use the gears most effectively on the uphills is a work in progress).

Whatever it is, it's pretty awesome. Marathon training kind of burned me out, and then the recovery took so long that I kind of lost some of the enjoyment I get out of training. Between trail running and the bike, the love is definitely back. Getting that sub 1:50 half honestly feels less important than just enjoying the summer on the trails and on the road.

But I hope I'll pick up that PB anyway, of course!

Weekly totals
Run: 49.7 km
Bike: 93.7 km
Total: 143.4 km, 8 hours 48 minutes

Totals were down a bit from last week, but not far off what I wanted. If the weather had been more cooperative on Sunday I've have hit the 52/100 I was aiming for. Given that one of those runs was a pretty tough trail run, and I got in both a quality bike and run workout, I'm happy with the effort.

Now it's time for a bit of a rest week. The mileage will stay around the same, but everything will be easy. A break before things get tough!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summer running: what about thunderstorms?

Inspired by a twitter conversation last night:

It's a good question - when it comes to summer running, how do you handle it when there's a thunderstorm risk in the forecast but you were really hoping to get in a run? The obvious answer is treadmill it, but what if you don't have a treadmill (or just really hate them)? Since I don't have one this is my method for figuring out if it's OK - for me - to run when the weather forecast says there might be storms. I'm not a weather expert by any means, this is just my method. Running during a storm watch is a calculated risk, I am not a professional, stay safe, etc.

1. Active thunderstorms in the area, I wait until later. The Weather Network hourly forecast can be really helpful for this, as you can see when the storms are most likely to move past. I also pay attention to if there's currently a thunderstorm watch (chance of a storm developing) or a warning (active storm activity has been spotted). Warning = no go, full stop.

2. If there's a watch, I check the weather radar to see what's going on. The local radar for me is the King City weather radar, and it shows active precipitation as it moves across the province. Rain/storms here almost always approach from the west, and if you are familiar with the radar you can get pretty good at judging how much time you have before a band of rain/possible storm arrives at your location. This works in the winter for snowfall, too. I use this all the time when I'm planning a lunch run on a day with rain in the forecast - I can often spot windows of opportunity to run with minimal rain by paying attention to the weather radar.

The storms almost always move from the left to the right over our area. This map shows a good window of opportunity to get in a short run, as the last storm has moved over Toronto and the next one will take probably an hour or so to arrive in the Hamilton/Burlington area.

3. Revise my routes. If there's a thunderstorm watch, I will run loops around my neighbourhood so I can get home quickly. This also means I'm running through a residential area, and can take cover on someone's porch if necessary. It's boring to run loops and my neighbourhood has too many damn hills, but I don't want to be caught 30 minutes from home if a storm rolls in.

4. Eyes on the sky. Since I know storms almost always approach from the same direction, I pay attention to what's coming. If I'm listening to music or a podcast and I see dark clouds moving in, I shut that down so I can listen for thunder.

5. Sometimes, I just have a bad feeling and decide not to run. Nothing wrong with paying attention to that gut instinct. One missed run isn't going to ruin your training!

So, that's about it. I'm usually pretty good at judging if I can get in a run or not, although it doesn't always work perfectly - this morning I got soaked when the first line of rain arrived a little sooner than I thought it would based on the weather radar, and I was about a km from home when I heard a rumble of thunder and ended up doing a fast finish run to get inside.

Oh, and if you think it's going to rain and you are prone to chafe? This stuff becomes very important. Unfortunately the only way to know which body parts are chafe-prone is to experience it at least once. I learned a painful lesson at the Toronto Women's Half Marathon a few years ago...

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fall 2014 - Week 2

So the big excitement this week was definitely picking up this beauty:

Isn't she pretty? I'm rather pleased she's not pink - several of the bikes I looked at had pink accents, and I'm a little sick of pink all over everything.
The purple and white combo on her frame reminds me of foxgloves. Which leads to her name - Foxy. Plus, foxgloves are the source of a heart medication, and I'm betting riding her will be good for my heart. It all makes sense in my head.
She's a Giant Avail 2; basically an entry level road bike with slightly better components than the entry-entry level, if that makes sense. And most importantly SHE'S MINE! This rather changes things as far as training this summer, because suddenly I'm feeling the need for speed and long long rides. I haven't quite worked out how I'm going to fit those into my plans, but it's going to happen.

And now that I have a road bike, there's the obvious duathlon/triathlon question. Let's just leave that there for now.

The weekly recap:

Monday: I took the day off work to get a 4 day weekend, so I headed out early to Kernscliffe Park to run some trails. I managed to get slightly lost and it was hot & humid jungle-style, but overall, a good 9.5k on the trails. I was very glad I keep the PDF maps of the Bruce Trail on my phone - if I hadn't had those with me when I got lost I'd have ended up running an extra 2 or 3k, most likely, and given the heat and humidity that would not have been pleasant.

Bruce Trail just off Waterdown Rd. I find it sort of magical that this stuff is so close to where I live. Less magical were the 4,000 mosquitoes that descended on me as I took this picture.
After the run I headed to the bike store to get fitted. And then I got to take Foxy home (she'll go back to the store for her first tune up in a couple of weeks). Of course I had to take her out for a test ride. In the hottest, sunniest part of the day, because SMRT. I was about half a km from home when I realized I'd forgotten to put on my helmet - you think maybe I was a little excited to be on my new bike?

It was initially very strange; I felt very unstable with my hands closer together instead of wide like on my hybrid, and the lightness of the bike felt so different from the sturdiness of Big Red. But I quickly adjusted and spent a happy 16 km roaming around my neighbourhood, getting the hang of the gears and experimenting with the local small-ish uphill climbs. That's where I noticed the biggest difference - suddenly it's obvious how much the heavier bike slows me down on the uphills.

Tuesday: Canada Day! I got up early and took Foxy down to the lake to try her on the flat beach path. Met up with Sam and Kim and did 30k total, because a 30k bike ride before 7 am is my idea of a good time these days. Man, who am I? It was so easy on the new bike to maintain a speed that's tough on the hybrid, and I pushed faster a few times to see how it would feel. Result: heavenly. It was really windy, but I had so much fun (I'm using the word fun about 50 times a day right now).

Stole this picture from Kim because I realized I had nothing to post here and there were too many words. Gotta break up the words with pretty pictures.
I got out later in the morning for a very sweaty 7k run. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting, so either I'm acclimating to hot and humid horror show weather, or the strong wind cooled me off enough that it made it easier. I suspect it was the wind, because I ran all last summer through hot and humid and I never felt like I acclimated. I'd be shocked if I somehow managed to adapt so quickly this year.

Wednesday: Rest day. I wasn't feeling particularly like I needed a rest day, but then I looked at the calendar and saw I hadn't had one in a week, so definitely time for a break. And Thursday was going to be a big day.

Thursday: Tempo time! I was nervous about this one after the previous week's disastrous attempt at tempo, but it went pretty well. Which I attribute to the fact it was 16 degrees and NOT HUMID. Paces for the tempo section were solid (5:07, 5:11, 5:10, 5:03, 5:07), and I ran 10k total and felt fantastic.

The Nicole special, 10k before 6 am. Plus a new skirt, so pretty much awesome all the way around.
Then I biked 21k to work, because why the hell not. I've always wanted to try that, but usually I don't have enough time. I took the hybrid because I'm not 100% confident yet in my bike handling skills on the road bike, and between riding in heavy traffic and the possibility of rain in the forecast, sticking with the more familiar bike seemed like a sensible choice. Getting to work was a surprisingly easy ride, because it turned out to be largely downhill and there were even bike lanes most of the way.

This explains why getting to work felt so easy.
Of course downhill to get to work meant getting home? Uphill. Yay. I took a slightly different route to avoid some crazy intersections where I would have had to make impossible left hand turns, and that did mean at one point hauling the bike up 120+ stairs. Upper body workout! But I made it home in a little more than an hour, which considering the climbing and the traffic and the stairs and one stop to consult a map, is decent enough. 42k on the bike in one day, can't complain about that.

Glad the stairs had a bike gutter, easier to push it up. Also glad I have mountain bike shoes instead of road shoes, so it was a little less clompy getting up to the top.
Next time I bike to work, which will be in a couple of weeks, I'll take Foxy, because I'm betting the hills will be a lot easier with the lighter bike/compact crank. And I'm curious how much time I can shave off the trip.

Friday: Debated biking to work again but didn't want to overdo it, so I stuck with 'just' an 8k easy run before work. Temperature remained nice and cool. YAY.

Nothing wrong with this view.
I'm glad I didn't attempt to bike to work again; by Friday night I was super cranky and eventually went into  'fall asleep exhausted on the couch at 7 pm' mode. Thursday's workouts took more out of me than I'd realized at the time, so I went to bed early.

Saturday: Met Patty and Sam at the oh so late hour of 6:20 am for 16k by the lake. Really, these days 6:20 is a late start for me! My stomach was a bit unhappy, but settled down for the run and didn't really bother me until the last km. Run was decent - not the greatest run I've ever had, but I'll take it.

Sun's up on the beach. Honestly I live in such a great place.

Sunday: Up early for a bike ride. 46k Tour de Burlington, where I basically rode the entire length of the city and then back home. Yeah, I've got the bike love bad.

The sunrise was so spectacular it almost looked fake.
Getting up early meant I got to see that sunrise. Sometimes you get these rewards that really make it all worthwhile.

Well, that and riding really really fast* on the Northshore hills. I may actually have said 'WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!' out loud at least once coming down the big hill by Lasalle Park.

*fast for me. Not fast like the scary cycling packs.

So that was pretty much an awesome week. I almost got to 200k total! It was tempting to stretch Sunday's ride out a bit and hit that milestone, but I didn't want to push too much too soon, especially since my hips were a bit cranky on Saturday night (my own fault for slacking on my hip mobility/strength work). Lots more weeks left this year to get to that number.

Run: 51.4 km
Ride: 134.4 km (whoa!)
Total:  185.8 km; 10 hr 34 min of training (scrolling through my Strava data shows this is the most time I've ever spent in a week training, by over 2 hours - I think I will start paying more attention to this number! Not surprising that my hips are a touch sore after such a big jump.)

This upcoming week I originally thought was going to be a cutback week, but I messed up counting somewhere so it's actually a hard week. OK, I can make that work. Current plan is to a) do my hip work every night to nip any potential issues there in the bud and b) start with a rest day.

I'll also do some hill training on the bike (I really need to get a better feel for my lower gears, and that seems the best way to do it), a tempo run, and a trail race on Saturday (although I won't be racing it, I'm running it for fun, not a time goal). I'm kind of going to wing it based on weather and how my hips feel, to be honest. Ideally I want to run at least 50k and ride something close to 100k total, but we'll see how things work out.

On we go!