Sunday, December 14, 2014

Five Things Fitness

It's been at least 5 weeks since I've last updated my blog.  To catch you up quickly, here's a list of 5 things fitness that have happened since my last post.

1) Remember the Ab Challenge?  That didn't happen.

Actually, I am still working on my abs, but I abandoned that challenge because it was way too difficult for me. Instead I'm now doing a combination of plank, prone plank, and bird-dog (both sides). Holding everything for 30sec and working on increasing repetitions.  It's more aligned to my ability, yet I'm still strengthening my abs.

2) Cycled on a new path.

cycling - Kauai style
Rented a couple of beach cruiser bicycles while we were on vacation in Kauai in November. The island has a multi-use trail on the east side along the ocean that is scenic and quite pleasant for cycling.  However, I know now that I do not at all like that style bicycle.  Despite the large cushy seat, it was pretty uncomfortable.  Given a choice to do it over again, I'd look for a place that rented hybrids. But don't feel too sorry for me. Afterall, we were riding up and down the east side of Kauai enjoying ocean views!

3) Got back in the water.

Even though I'm always reminded that swimming is a good way to exercise and it's easy on my knee, I had put it off for well over a year.  I can now say that I've been there several times this month and intend to keep at it for awhile, especially since I bought a multi-use pass (use it or lose it!). Every week I've been timing a 400yd front crawl, and I'm seeing improvement. It's giving me something to word toward.

I still don't love swimming laps, but with my waterfi ipod it's a whole lot more tolerable. I do enjoy having the distraction of music.  And I think I'm secretly the envy of the other swimmers who are stuck listening to the sound of splashes and bubbles. Or at least that what I keep telling myself.  Hahahah.

jingle bell 5k
4) Walked a 5K, this time at a more leisurely pace.

The last 5K that I walked was competitive and I took 2nd, but then I was sore for several days afterwards. This one was untimed, I went much slower, and no after pain.

 Husband finished (running) in 23 something.  I finished (walking) in 47 something.  Walking isn't as fun as running, but it' more fun than sitting on the couch.  So there.

5) Changed focus from running to cycling.

As of the moment, I have no plans to do any running.  Right now it looks like we will do a Tour de Cure in March and an MS ride in August.  The Tour de Cure in March means that I need to get back outside on my bike probably in January and start training. May set up the trainer inside as well.  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

30-Day Ab Challenge

Boy am I in trouble.  I decided to go for a 30-day Ab Challenge that I stumbled across, but my abs are so weak that even day 1 was a challenge

Day 1 starts with 15 sit-ups.  Well, it turns out that I can't even to a single sit-up without tucking my toes under the sofa.  Yeah, not a good sign.  But in the spirit of starting where I am, that's what I did.

I would also like to add that 10s plank seemed like eternity.  But at least I could do that part properly.

So we'll see how this goes.  I figure that if I get stuck, I can always repeat a day.  What's more important than following the plan is strengthening my abs, right?  And it's pretty clear from day 1 that my abs could use some strengthening!

What are you doing these days to improve your fitness? Trying anything new?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hunt for a commuter bike

Sorry that I haven't been blogging or commenting much.  I'm in the middle of getting my injections and I'm supposed to be staying off my left knee while I'm getting the treatment. As many of you know from experience, it's hard to get excited about blogging when you're benched. The only thing interesting that has happened recently has been my hunt for a commuter bike.

After commuting to/from the Balloon Fiesta in the dark (twice) on my road bike, I decided that I'd like to do more commuting by bike.  In the past, I commuted on an aluminum road bike that I no longer own. It wasn't ideal for that job for several reasons. I still own a 90s steel frame mountain bike that I thought would work, but it's heavy and not very pleasant to ride. After about 1.5 miles, I'm pretty much done riding that bike. So I decided to look for a used hybrid.

my nifty upcycled pannier bag
I should back up and say that I'd like to be able to use it for "quick" trips to the store, riding to meet a friend for a walk on the bosque, and for commuting to work a few days a week.  I live on a gravel road, there is a hard packed trail that is a more direct route to the bosque, and my commute to work includes a half mile or so stretch with a decent climb up onto the mesa.

While I believe most people are better off commuting on a touring or city bike, given these conditions, a hybrid with decent traction really seems like a good answer in my case.  Also something with decent gearing so I can haul my mass up that hill (carrying laptop, change of clothes, etc).   Buying a used bike seems like the way to go for a utility bike, so my search was on...

Scott P6 Sportster hybrid (2009?)
After trying a half dozen or so bikes from a combination of craigslist and a shop with consignment bikes, I narrowed my search down to two options.  A 90s era Giant Innova with a steel frame that needed work (derailleur adjustment, new brake pads, new tubes, etc) to get to a ride-ready state and a more contemporary (2009?) Scott P6 hybrid with an aluminum frame that was ride-ready as is that had some pretty cool cyclocross tires installed.
Richey SpeedMax tires

I ended up going with the Scott because asking price was only $35 over the Giant, was ride-ready, and those tires really handle well on a variety of surfaces. Overall, I'm pleased with my find.

I plan to replace the seat post mounted rack with a frame mounted rack.  I also have a bike computer that I want to install along with my lights.  And I need to fix up an underseat bag with the right kind of tubes for these tires.

I won't actually be able to start commuting for several weeks because I need to give my knee time to get through the treatment and begin healing, but this gives me a project while I'm benched.  When my knee is ready, the bike will be ready as well.  Win-win!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bike Valet at AIBF

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta offers a free bike valet service.  This is the first year that we have tried it out.

The Balloon Park is about 8.5 miles from our house, which is not too bad.  The downside is that we needed to leave in the dark and when we got out onto a more major rode, we needed to ride along some traffic congestion for a little while.

The upside is that we didn't get stuck in traffic, we didn't need to pay parking or pay the premium charged for the park-and-ride bus service combo ticket.  Plus we got some exercise.  And it was a great morning.

There are a few things that I'd do differently.  I left my bike gloves at home and wore regular full fingered gloves on the way to the park. I should have stuck with the bike gloves.  I also wore bike shorts under running tights.  I think bike capris would have been a better choice.  Finally, there was a section where we rode in a bike lane among car traffic that actually had a multiuse trail off to the side (we found that on the way back); should have taken the multiuse trail whenever possible and stayed off the road because there was debris and some signs that we needed to dodge.  Other than those few minor things, it really worked out well.

It was special shapes day.  Sharing a few photos.  Enjoy!!

Can't see much? Either could I!  It was dark when we left the house.  My bike light lit up the path ahead fairly well though 

A Balloon getting ready to launch

The Bees are a crowd favorite

AIBF is one of the only ones that lets spectators out onto the field to walk among the balloons

Another crowd favorite.  It inflated today, but didn't launch

Back at the Bike Valet to pick up our bikes and ride home.  A really nice service!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

This, that, and the other

new jersey!
Don't have much to blog about.  Let's see what I can come up with.

I'm still riding most weekends, 30-40 miles is a comfortable distance.

Waving the white flag with regard to my knee. I've ordered another round of Euflexxa injections and am waiting for the orthopedic to call to schedule them. Running is out for now and maybe for good this time.

Hoping to bike commute one morning to the balloon fiesta.  Got a bike light that I need to install and test out first.

Bike clothes are fun. Started getting tired of the jerseys in my closet so ordered a new red/white/black one from Voler.  Also appreciate having the Intel jersey in rotation now.

Intel jersey
Bike knickers (aka capris) are becoming a new staple. Finding that they protects my legs from the sun, keep the chill off in the cool morning, and stay comfortable enough as long as the days don't get too hot.

Thinking about doing an MS ride (or two) in a state other than NM next year. If you have one in your area that is particularly scenic, let me know in comments!

Fun arm warmers are becoming an obsession, similar to fun beanies for winter running.

Will be trying the half buff under my helmet soon. Bandanas aren't working very well for me for some reason.

Sorry for my lack of blogging and commenting.  I miss running.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What's Next, Elevation Profiles, & Never Forget

What's Next:  The short answer -  I'm not sure.  But that doesn't make for a very good blog post.  So I'll try to explain a bit of the longer answer.

So while my knee is generally okay with cycling, it's not generally been okay with much else.  I called the orthopedic to get things started to get going with my next series of injections.  Depending on when those are ready to go, one of the following scenarios is likely to occur:

If they can be ready to go by Oct 17:  Will plan to attempt to commute to one day of Balloon Fiesta by bike, weather permitting and if I get a suitable light for my bike.  Husband will attempt the century at Day of Tread and I will sit that one out. Hopefully my knee will be in good shape for light hiking by mid November.

If they can't be ready to by Oct 17th. Will still plan to commute to one day of Balloon Fiesta by bike. Husband & I will likely attempt the half-century at Day of Tread. Light hiking won't be possible by mid-November, but I'll try to set up the injections to begin immediately after Thanksgiving.

Elevation Profiles:  Just to give some idea what the "short course" ride was like.  The scale isn't the same between the two graphs.  Trust me, day 2 was much more challenging.
Day 1 - 36.8 miles, short steep climbs beginning and end, overall not too bad
Day 2 - 38.1 miles, due to scale it's deceiving - long steady climb first 10 miles, remainder easy peasy
Never Forget:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pedal Los Pueblos Reflections

packing up to head out
Packed up on Friday to head up to Pojaque, NM which is where the home base for each day of the MS ride was located.  The elevation is higher than it is for us at home.  We're at about a mile above sea level and the start location was closer to 7800 mi above sea level. I was nervous about the elevation as well as the hills more so than the distance that we planned to ride.
Day 1 in team jerseys
It's a fully supported charity ride for MS.  There are rest stops roughly every 10 miles. The first day had distance options of 36, 58, 88, and 100.  The second day had distance options of 40 and 58.  Last year, Husband did 58+40.  This year, I joined him for the ride and insisted on the shortest distances, 36+40.  He's quite a trooper and was fine planning to ride shorter and slower so that we could ride together.  We we part of a corporate team, with me clearly being the least fit on the team, so we didn't ride with the other folks.  But our small team of 14 riders raised almost $8000 for MS and it was pretty cool to be a part of a team rather than an individual rider.  Plus our team jerseys rocked!I was pretty happy to see the finish line on day 1 feeling good.  The weather forecast for that day seemed iffy: it was grey clouds overhead when we started and chance of thundershowers.  Instead, we actually had a nice ride day.  The clouds were welcome to keep the relentless high altitude sun off our skin and the temps comfortable.  All in all, it was a nice day to ride.

Finish line on day 1
We actually booked a 50 minute soak and 90 minute massage Saturday afternoon at a spa up in the Sangre de Cristo mountains.  That was a really nice treat and it did wonders to loosen everything up and prepare us for day 2.

Ready for Day 2
The majority of our company team wore last year's team jerseys for day 2, but I didn't ride last year and didn't have one.  Husband opted for his tier 2 fundraising jersey from last year and I wore one with orange for MS.  This made it hard for us to be identified from a team perspective, but since we weren't really riding with the others, it didn't seem like it mattered too much.  Plus a lot of repeat riders that had earned the fundraising jersey had chosen to wear it that day, so Husband fit in with that theme.
Made it to rest stop 1!!

I felt amazingly good on day 2 and was hopeful for a good outcome!The skies were clear for day 2, so it was cooler in the morning and the sun was back to it's relentless self.

earned my medal
Husband had told me the night before to just focus on getting to the first rest stop.  The first segment was the most challenging of the day and after that it would be relatively easy.  He wasn't kidding! That first segment was tough!  But I made it. It was also extremely scenic.  Lots of opportunities to stop and take a photo, but I was afraid I'd have a hard time getting going again if we stopped, so we just took it in as we observed it.

About midway through the ride, of of my colleagues joined us as his wife had opted for the longer route.  It was nice to have company and new conversation to finish off the ride.

All-in-all it was a good weekend.  I was also happy to see that I had raised a total of $505 for MS, which is what the weekend was really all about.  And I proved that you can just be a middle aged woman with an exercise habit and still complete an event like this.  Win-win!