Thursday, June 27, 2013

Does this bike make me look single?

Today was a day of "firsts"!

I kicked the day off with a swim at the pool, and I made it 1,500 yards which is officially my furthest swim.  Not a bad way to get the day started!

On my lunch break I had planned to ride my bike, and then got to thinking about how I need to start incorporating "brick sessions" into my training.  This is a triathlon-training technique where you ride your bike, hop off, and go for a run on some jelly legs.  Preferably someone is standing by with a video camera to capture your drunk-running.  The purpose is of course to get used to running on the jelly legs so you aren't collapsing into a puddle of flesh on the run portion of the triathlon.

So today, for the first time, I planned out a brick session.  Except, I'm on the "very light/no running" disabled list due to my plantar fasciitis, so hoofing it up my hill would've been a bad idea.  Then I got to thinking, wouldn't it be super fun to bike over to the high school, run on the squishy track, and then bike home!  That's like... a bonus brick!  Like a brick and a half!

Things started off really well, until I tried to leave my own driveway and wiped out just trying to get onto my street!  In my defense, I have a dirt driveway and there's a soft sandy spot right before it turns to asphalt, and right where it turns to asphalt it promptly turns into a 20% grade hill.  (Okay it's less than that but feels like more than that.  For real.)  And luckily I didn't have any neighbors to see this happen.  What really sucked was not getting a head start to get up the hill so it was all quad power all the way up that hill.  But hey, at least I got my first wipe out crossed off the list!

Heading over to the track I flew down the long long hill, topping out at 30mph.  And I was thinking about how much wind was flying through my eyelashes.  What a weird thing to think about!  And then I realized I was wearing the wrong glasses.  The ones that slide way down my nose when I start sweating.  So that's bad.  I was also thinking about how much this long long hill was going to suck to ride back up in a little while.

The trek to the school

As I approached the school I realized I had made an error in judgement.  I thought by now all schools were out for the year, but I forgot that this is a technical school and they have a longer school year, so school was still in session.  I rolled in, didn't get yelled at, so I parked the bike, grabbed a drink, and headed out for a 1 mile run around the track.  I had thought about making it longer than a mile, but I thought I felt a sprinkle.  Was that a sprinkle?  It's not going to rain though, right?

Just as I got onto the track, coincidentally another girl was just getting onto the track for a run, and two men got to the track for a walk.  I think they may have been faculty, because I noticed one of them wearing credentials.

I was pretty psyched to pass the other lady with little effort, and the men I passed two or three times.  Despite my throbbing heel, I managed to bang out a respectable 8:18 mile in some crazy humidity and - I think - sprinkles.  As I was getting back to my bike and preparing to leave, the men stopped me.  I don't know if they were in awe of my bike/run/bike routine, or assumed I was an accomplished athlete due to the impressive amount of KT tape I'm sporting on my leg, but they seemed quite intrigued and peppered me with questions!  Here's a sample of the smattering of questions I fielded:

  • So how many times around did you run?
  • Four, huh? How far is that?
  • How long is your bike ride back?
  • How many speeds on your bike?
  • What's your bike made out of?
  • How heavy is it?
  • Do you mind if I try lifting it up?
  • Does your boyfriend run and bike with you?
Just checking... did you happen to catch that last question?  I mean, really?  I of course came up with a super un-witty response like, "Oh please, I don't have time for a boyfriend, I'm too busy doing all this stuff".  To which he responded, "Oh and what did you say your cell number was again?"  We both laughed, and I bid them a good day.  But that, my friends, is definitely a first.  No one has ever solicited my relationship status while running or riding my bike!  I just might be onto something with this bike!  I'm thinking about taking her everywhere with me, like my wing man.  To bars, clubs, the grocery store, you name it.  She is quite the looker, so I think we'll get a lot of attention!  

On the way back I took a different road, and braced myself for that hill that I just knew wasn't going to be easy to climb.  As I tried to hold back and store my energy for the hill - a futile effort on my already rubbery legs - I realized that the sprinkles were indeed becoming a full fledged rain storm.  So not only did I have to go up that monster long hill for the first time, I also had to ride my bike in the rain for the first time!  Part of me thought it was awesome, because it was nice and cool, and also because let's face it - I looked like a total bad ass going up that hill in the rain - but a bigger part of me was worried about it getting slippery.   I *tried* to get up that hill in short time, and just as I got back home the skies really opened up and it started pouring.  Luckily I managed not to wipe out in the sand when I got back into my driveway!  

The trek home

So let's recap, today I:
  • Hit my first 1,500 yard swim
  • Did my first bike/run brick
  • Got hit on at the track for the first (and probably only) time
  • Rode my bike in the rain for the first time
  • Rode up the monster hill for the first time
  • Wiped out in my driveway for the first time
I'd say that's a pretty productive and well-rounded day!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Alternate Transportation

By now we all know that I've started becoming obsessed with my new road bike.  (I'm still thinking up names for her).  I try to sneak in a ride on my lunch break when I'm working from home if the weather's good, and then I get out on longer rides on the weekend.  Today was the first time I considered taking her out on an "errand".

I had to stop at the bank today to make a deposit (a rarity), and it's just a few miles away.  I figured why not kill two birds with one stone and bike there!  Seems so simple, but then I start panicking about the logistics.  I do that.  I panic over logistics.  Like, maybe I shouldn't go to the gym because what if I get lost in the building and can't find the pool and if I do find the pool what if there's no open lanes and what if I have to share a lane with someone and what if they say no and I think I just won't go to the gym.  I'm not even kidding.  It took me over two years to build up the courage to take my mountain bike in for a tune up because I was worried about what if I couldn't get the bike through the front door by myself.  No, seriously.  These are the things that keep me up at night.

I told my mother I was planning on going to the bank via bicycle to make a deposit.  She, being a bank teller, would have insight on this topic.  I had planned on just walking into the building, but she thought it was too risky leaving my lovely she-who-has-not-been-named bike out in front of the bank.  She thought I should go to the drive up teller window, and assured me that she, as a seasoned bank teller, has waited on many bicycle riders at the drive up window.  However, this is like my worst nightmare.  I've had my driver's license for 20 years and not once in my life have I ever gone to the drive up teller window.  You know why?  Logistics.  How do they know I'm there?  What if they can't see me?  How do I get the stuff where it needs to go?  What if I can't figure out how to open and close the tube?  And now on top of that I have to worry about: What if they don't let me ride a bike to the drive up teller window?  What if they make fun of me?  What if there is a car behind me?  Before my mother left for work, she gave me a quick tutorial on how to proceed at the drive up window, including how to use the call button, how to open and close the tube, and what to ask for from the teller. (Wait, they can hear me?!)

Before I left for my lunch time death march to the bank, I chatted with Scott, a seasoned cyclist.  He brought up a good point, that it was important to exude a certain level of smug.  In other words, make sure I don't look like "the poor girl who doesn't have a car and has to ride a silly bicycle to the bank", but more like "the athlete that is so busy training for upcoming triathlons and just can't even break away for errands and has to therefore incorporate said errands into her very, very hectic and demanding training schedule".  Got it.

I headed out on my trip, and a couple miles in I was having so much fun on my bike that I lost nearly all anxiety of the drive up window logistics.  When I did arrive, thankfully no one was in line.  I hopped off my bike, pulled my check out of the bag, and noticed no one was at the window.  I pressed the call button.  Immediately a teller came over to the window and exclaimed that "Oh my God you're on a bike!  I've never waited on a customer on a bicycle before!" and with that her co-workers flocked to the window to investigate.  I played it totally cool.  I was like, "yeah I figured, it's only a few miles out of the way, and it's a beautiful day out, so..."  'Nuff said.  I did exactly what Mom said to do, and my only hiccup was when I tried to balance my bike against my leg while writing out a deposit slip, and the bike slid down to the ground.  Fear not!  I caught her before she landed, but not before she bit me in the leg.  I deserved it for my carelessness.  Apart from that, it was a successful and entertaining trip to the bank, and I'm sure I'll be working that into my routine.  Of course, that will require money to deposit.  Soooo... announcing the Jill Rolls to the Bank Fund!  Feel free to donate!  Just kidding.  Or not. :-)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Six week round-up

It's been a while.  You know the drill.  Too busy doing stuff to write, too injured to run, and not really much to say.  So here are some of the highlights and low lights since the Boston Marathon.

According to the BAA, I did in fact "complete" the Boston Marathon, in a (projected) time of 4:45.  I will also be invited back with the other 5,700 runners that "completed" (wink, wink) the marathon to run it again in 2014.  I really only wanted to run it once, but what can I say?  I'll share my thoughts and feelings later.  This post is all about the reader's digest.

My heel kept bugging me after the marathon and after lots of icing and stretching I visited a podiatrist.  Not the same clown I saw for the stress fracture last year.  This one came highly recommended.  And he lived up to expectations.  I adore this guy.  Yes, he confirmed, a rather nasty case of Plantar Fasciitis.  First he taped it all up for me, then at the next visit he took some Power Step inserts and modified them with all sorts of chunks of felt wedging.  All the while I was laying off of running, which made me twitch a little especially with a half marathon coming up on Memorial Day weekend.  After 10 days of no running, I went with my brandy-new inserts to the track and did a two mile test run, the day before the half marathon.  It actually went a little better than I expected, so I packed up and headed to the Cape with Marie for race weekend.

I won't do a whole "race report" for this race, because I don't want to depress anyone.  But here's the gist:  When we ran Hyannis in February, pouring rain and low 40's, Julia said, "Hey let's come back here in May and run it again.  It will be Memorial Day weekend", she said.  "It will be all warm and summery" she said.  Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend, and it was raining, raw, and freezing.  People wore winter hats.  It was actually colder than it had been in February.  And it was windy.  The wind actually made me angry.  I actually swore at the wind a few times.  No matter which direction I turned, it was a headwind.  I've never wanted a race to end more than I did that day.  I won't tell you my time, but when Julia passed me at mile 11 with full-on bacterial pneumonia, I think you can read between the lines.  It just wasn't my day.  In any case, it was still a fun weekend and gave us some laughs.  Except for my heel, which wasn't laughing.  It was crying and screaming and bawling its skin off.

I resumed the "rest" therapy after the half marathon, but with little improvement I finally called the doctor back and said I wanted physical therapy.  He agreed, and that very same day I was able to get into PT.  After a thorough evaluation, my new therapist Dave announced that my problem really stems from my right hip, which is very weak.  (I feel Liza scowling at me).  (Liza has told me this on many occasions).  So, rather than just focusing on getting my heel all patched up, I need to start doing a smattering of different hip strengthening exercises.  This really bugs me, because I really thought I was done with the "hip pain" stage of my life (at least for a couple more decades) but it's all coming back to haunt me.  Going to PT brings back nightmares of post-hip surgery.  So here I am, after my 2nd PT session, with a really sore hip in addition to my sore heel.  Now I feel like I'm going backwards.  So let's talk about something else...

Swimming!  I've been hitting the pool 2-3 times a week, and although I was convinced I wasn't getting any better, it finally occurred to me that I'm building up a lot more endurance.  A couple weeks ago I made it to a half mile for the first time!  Now I'm up to just over a half mile, and trying to tack on a couple extra laps each week.

Biking!  In probably the best impulse decision of my life, I went and bought a road bike.  Most of the track girls have road bikes, and they were starting to get together for road rides.  I knew I couldn't keep up with them on my mountain bike, and by golly I wanted to be part of the group!  After doing some research online, I thought I knew what I wanted.  Then I talked to a lot of experienced cyclists, and they convinced me that I needed something a little better than an entry level bike.  Especially someone like me, who tends to go "all in" with things.  It was repeated over and over again that I would quickly regret getting something so entry level.  Then I did some more chatting up with local folks to find a good bike shop, and Coleen turned me onto Landry's in Westboro.  I entered the shop apprehensively, afraid I'd be overwhelmed with choices.  Instead, Ben was super helpful and didn't even give me a funny look when I told him I'd never ridden a road bike before.  He showed me all different brands, sized me up, and taught me how to shift.  Amazingly enough, they had a bike my size in stock (she's little, but she's fierce!).  Saying I was nervous test riding it in the parking lot would be an understatement.  The bike was so lightweight, I was afraid a gust of wind would knock me right over!  But, it was comfortable, shifted easily, and it was something I could grow into, so I bought it!
She's a beauty!

I've gotten in a bunch of successful rides, slowly progressing with trickier intersections and traffic situations.  Yesterday I went for my custom bike fitting, which made it "just for me" and even more awesome.  I can't say enough good things about the guys at Landry's.  They are so helpful, and they have organized Saturday morning group rides that I'm hoping to go to sometimes this summer.

Racking up some quick miles on the new Trek!

Triathlons!  (WHAT??) Sometimes if you pick just the right time, like when I'm high on running endorphins or particularly proud of myself during a good swim session, you can talk me into things.  Somehow Marie, Kristen, and Coleen each got to me during various stages of euphoria, and I impulsively signed up for a Sprint Triathlon in July!  I've had a knot in my stomach ever since.  I'm nervous but definitely looking forward to doing this with my friends.  It's a good "first timer" triathlon, and it's ALL FEMALE!  Girl power!  I fully expect every one of my guy friends to come out and applaud us!  On second thought, I'll be wearing some pretty unflattering clothes.  Please stay home.

What I'm not doing:
Racing.  I won't be running the 4th of July Finish on the 50 like I do every year.  I also bowed out of the Old Port Half Marathon in Portland, Maine.  I have a 1 mile track race this weekend that I'm tentatively planning to still run.  I might need to do a little test run this week to make sure I can handle it!

I'm actually okay with giving up a couple races.  I don't really like running a ton in the summer anyways, so I'm going to take it easy, do my PT, swim, bike, and just do a few light runs.  And blog.  I'll do more blogging, I promise.  I was in a bit of a post Boston Marathon mental funk, where the thoughts I had just weren't worth sharing, but I'm climbing my way out of that and looking forward to new adventures!